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Seldom All They Seem

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Rey's consciousness floated in a warm syrup, distantly aware of pain but not directly experiencing more than a vague discomfort, the same as she felt when she slept in the wrong position. She heard a voice from far away. The words made no sense. She knew the speaker, although she couldn't find the name or the face that went together with the sounds.

Clutched in a fluffy darkness, Rey climbed out of her stupor, clinging to the familiar voice. As she emerged, the words became more clear. She could make out a dry throat and mumbled words, recognizing someone who had been talking for a long time and cared little for the material. A speech? A lecture? School. Rey attended the outpost school when she had time to spare. Had she fallen asleep during the teaching droid's dull class on galactic history, tired out from too long in the belly of another wreck?

An apology formed on her lips, and dashed itself quiet as she understood the words she heard. "...while the compressor is still. Take the flange in one hand, and rotate to the right one quarter turn."

An equipment manual. Someone was reading aloud. Her eyes finally came under her control. She focused on the soothing, cool lights above her. She lay on a bed, medical smells in her nose and an intravenous line running into her arm. Someone sat beside her, face bent over a flimsy book, one finger following the words, clearly bored, and intent on continuing regardless.

"Pull the flange towards you, parallel to the line of the floor."

The face and the voice matched. Rey knew that man.

Her own mouth was too dry to shout. Rey closed her eyes again, hoping Ren hadn't seen her. Panic forced a gasp from her, and her heartbeat soared. She heard the clear flutter on the scanner, which she'd been aware of as a background beep. The book fell to the floor with a soft thump.

"Rey?" He sounded concerned, even hopeful.

She held herself utterly still and considered her options. Kylo Ren had obviously taken her prisoner. She didn't remember fighting him but that meant nothing. She may have been ambushed. She may be suffering from the after-effects of another forced mind probe. How she found herself in his grasp meant nothing. Her concern must be escape.

The light through her eyelids dimmed as he reached across her. She heard a soft click as he pressed a button. "She's waking up. Room three. Hurry!" There was the impatient thread that always lurked under his taunts and threats, the petulant child given too much power too quickly.

He gripped her hand. She'd been learning control over her body as her training progressed, but she couldn't prevent herself from tensing up, anticipating the strike either mental or physical. He let out a breath that was almost a laugh.

Then he kissed her forehead.

Rey's eyes shot open and she yanked her hand away in terror and confusion, all pretense at remaining asleep lost in her need to shrink away from this menacing creature. "Get away from me," she growled, or tried to growl. Her throat was raw and dry.

Rather than back away, he smiled, and that was even more terrifying. Rey tested her muscles, ready to spring. She was still bound to the intravenous line. Much worse, now that she was fully awake, she felt the discomfort of the catheter under the blanket. Once, back on Jakku, she'd suffered a serious fall and had wound up like this for days, racking up debts with the medical center as her body fought to recover. The smell was the same. The blank face of the medical droid rolling into the room now was the same. But this wasn't Jakku, and she would injure herself yanking out the lines.

Rey tensed herself for the pain, then rolled hard from the bed, away from Ren and the droid, hand quickly yanking out the line in her arm as the catheter tugged free. Monitors tore stickily from her skin. She didn't rest, using her feet to propel herself towards the door.

He called her name, and the droid zipped behind her. Another droid and a Twi'lek orderly appeared before her. Even as she went to push past, she felt strong arms on her shoulders.

Ren said, "You need to calm down. It's the anesthesia. You have to calm down." She felt his mind pushing the command into hers.

Rey shoved her elbow back into his stomach. Ren wasn't wearing his armor, was instead clad in a simple black tunic and trousers. Her elbow smashed him hard, and she heard a satisfying grunt. She made it past the second droid. The orderly was faster, and clearly used to prisoners trying to escape. Rey felt weaker than she thought she should as the woman's strong arms grabbed her.

"Back to bed, miss," said the orderly, carrying Rey as she struggled.

"Help me!" Rey shouted down the corridor, vainly hoping someone knew she was here, someone was coming for her. Finn had, once. He could be here, restrained in another cell. She fought her captors as she was dragged back into the bed. A sharp prick from the first medical droid pierced her arm.

"What's that?" Ren demanded. Rey's vision went frighteningly blurry.

"A sedative. The patient may require restraint."

"You're not restraining her," he said, which was odd. She had trouble making out his words again. "Rey? Can you hear me?" She felt a hand against her face. Her muscles didn't want to react.

"Luke?" She didn't know where she was being held, nor if her mental call could be heard, but she could do nothing else with the lax stupor setting in. She felt the droids reattaching her intravenous line, although not the other, and carefully replacing the monitors to watch her heart and other organ functions.

Her eyes filled with the vision of her worst enemy, who appeared not to have slept in days. "Hey. Don't go back to sleep. You just woke up."

"Get away," she croaked.

"I'm not going anywhere." He took her hand again. She was too dizzy to pull free. "They said to keep talking to you, that maybe if I just kept talking, you'd hear me. I should have known it would be one of the repair manuals that worked." He smiled again, crooked and sad. "One of the orderlies suggested poetry, but you hate poetry."

Another detail he must have stolen from her mind. Why keep her awake at all? Couldn't he take everything he wanted while she lay unconscious? Not that Rey had much intel for him. She knew the current location of the Resistance base. She knew the approximate strength of their fleet. She wasn't privy to their plans, and this was on purpose. General Organa and her brother had discussed the vulnerability in Rey's mind to psychic probes. The General wouldn't risk telling her anything she couldn't afford for this madman to discover.

"We must speak," said the droid in its flat voice. "The patient requires rest."

"She's been resting. She's finally back." That awkward smile again. Rey's skin crawled.

The orderly gave Ren a tight smile of her own before turning to Rey. "Can you please state your name?"

She almost didn't. But he'd called her by name enough that there was no point. "Rey."

"What is your date of birth?"

That had always been unclear. She remembered birthdays, or the memory of what should have been birthdays, but those memories hazed in the past with the faces of her family. She'd given herself a birthday in order to pass the years in a solid line. Rey told the woman her made-up day.

"That's wrong," said Ren with a frown. He said another day later in the same galactic year. "She used to give the other one before we found her parents."

"Before you what?" she tried to say, her mouth not operating under her control. If the First Order had found her parents, her real parents, they were in deadly danger.

Seeing her distress, he said, "They've asked about you every day. They're trying to break away from the expedition, but their transport ship can't reach them until the day after tomorrow at the earliest, and even at top speed, they wouldn't be here for another week."

The words were back to meaningless. The sedative was hitting her hard. "What?"

The orderly asked her, "What is today's date?"

Rey shook her head. She enunciated her words with care. "You leave my parents out of this. They've done nothing to you."

"The date, miss."

Rey rattled off the last date she remembered, which seemed like it might be a few days ago. She had no way to find out how long she'd been imprisoned. The look on Ren's face changed to fear. Good. She didn't intend to be the only one scared out of her mind.

"We should speak," the droid repeated to him.

"I'll be right back." He let go of her hand.

"Don't let him back in," she pleaded dully to the Twi'lek, her head heavy against the pillow. "Don't let him near me. I can't fight like this."

The orderly gave her a compassionate expression. "If you feel unsafe, we can help you. I can call for an advocate."

Rey dropped to a whisper. "Are you with the Resistance?"

From outside, she could make out the low tones of the droid, and Ren's deep voice. She heard the words "cerebral damage" and the follow-up "memory loss." Ren's voice raised, and Rey knew the angry tone from more than one battle over crossed lightsabers.

"The Resistance is over, miss. The war ended three years ago." Before Rey could even think of replying to that mad untruth, the orderly leaned over her and helped tuck her head more comfortably on the pillow. "If you need me to, I can ask for the order to forbid your husband from being in the room with you unsupervised."

"Who?" A horrible feeling grew in her stomach as Ren returned. The orderly stared at him, then turned to Rey.

"Let me know," she said gently, and stayed by the door.

Ren tried another weird smile, a false attempt at joviality that chilled her. "They're very pleased that you're conscious. That's a good first step. The crash was bad. You suffered internal damage, which they've repaired. You're healing up, but you should be all right in a week or so." He approached her again, resting his hand on her arm. "The medical droid would like to scan your brain again to look for anything they missed. I'm sure you're fine," he said, seeing her flinch.

"Stay out of my brain!" The adrenaline rush pushed back the fog of the sedative, making her giddy.

"I won't say I didn't try to reach you. I know we agreed not to do that, but I was worried. The droid thinks you might have a deeper injury than they saw at first. They just need to check why you're having trouble now."

"I'm not having trouble. Set me free, and you'll see how much trouble I am." Not that she could be much bother now. She felt as weak as a mite.

His hand touched her wrist. "I'm not going to let them restrain you. I'd prefer they not have to sedate you before the examination."

"I won't tell you anything. You know I can resist you."

"Sir," said the orderly. "Do I have to ask you to leave?"

He turned on her. "I am not leaving her until she's ready to walk out of the medical center on her own."

"She's frightened of you." The woman hesitated. "She asked me if I was with the Resistance. And you heard what she said about the date."

"She's just confused."

"I am not confused. Let me go." She gave a futile push with the Force, and felt the strong pillar of his mind.

He frowned. "You know you can't use that trick on me. Rey," his face changed, "do you know who I am?" The question spiraled up at the end, almost a plea.

"I know who you are. I know what you've done. With or without that mask."

He turned away and closed his eyes. "Five years. You think... Rey, try to remember. Think about the house. You love the house. It's right by the lakeside. You insisted. You wanted to go swimming every day after you learned how." The words painted an empty picture, blank like an unused canvas. "You've been working on your studies again with Luke. You fell off for a while. He blamed me, of course, but you wanted to fly. You've been making great progress. You're almost on the twelfth level." His words fell out in a tumble. Twelfth level? Luke said she was nearly ready for the second.

"This is a trick. You want me to give up the Resistance's secrets."

"There is no Resistance. The war is over. We won."

She closed her eyes, sorrow swelling within her. He couldn't be telling the truth. These were lies. "No." The First Order couldn't win.

"You don't remember now. You will. They'll scan you and see where the swelling is." Hope filled his voice again. "It'll take time. We've got time."

Her thoughts jumbled. She focused on not letting him inside her mind, although she felt the careful prod. "Rey?"

"Sir, I'm going to ask you to wait outside while we bring the scanner in. You can rejoin your wife as soon as we're finished."

"I am not his wife," she said, dull horror eating at her. "He's a monster."

"I was," Ren said quietly. "We've been married for two years. I'll be right outside."

Rey blinked, refusing to believe his words. The gentle hands of the orderly settled her into place. The med droid rolled into the room and pricked her with another needle. She closed her eyes, and the sedative claimed her.

The slant of light had changed. There was a high window in her prison cell, out of her line of sight. She recalled catching a flash of light as she'd made her break for the door. Rey sat up slowly, searching for the distant gleam. Kylo Ren sat slumped in the chair beside her bed, half-asleep. While his guard was down, she could strike. There were enough objects within her reach that she could use as weapons. Blunt trauma, strangling, even the needle in her arm could slash. Then the window, and freedom.

Her arms felt heavy.

"Good morning," Ren said, blinking himself fully awake. "How are you feeling?"

"Where am I? This isn't a ship. There's a star."

"This planet is known as Galen's World. It was the closest medical facility to where you crashed. I'd like to have you moved back to Altara." She'd never heard of either place, and suspected these were more lies. She would be held on a First Order base, and she wasn't to be told where. Escape would be more difficult, and she would not be able to send an effective distress call.

"Tell me about the crash." This would be part of his deception, but as he was distracted, she could plan.

"I don't want to talk about the crash. You're safe now."

"I want to know what happened."

"Do you remember the Trilla?"

Nothing came to mind. "No."

"She is, or was, an experimental new ship. You helped with the design and construction. When it came time to choose the test pilot for her first flight, you and Dameron fought it out. You won."

Finn's friend. Rey had met him briefly before her journey to Ahch-To. She was just starting to get to know him now that she and Luke had rejoined the Resistance fleet. He'd also been Ren's prisoner.

"We fought?"

"Apparently you challenged him to a drinking contest, which he refused on the grounds that hangovers are bad for flying. I wasn't there, but Finn said you ended up drawing straws. Officially, I believe your story that you threw him two times out of three in a wrestling match."

Interesting fabrication. Rey kept up her surveillance of the room. She noticed a communications panel embedded in the bedside table. She wouldn't have outside communication, naturally, but with enough time, she might rewire it. "I crashed the Trilla?"

"You managed to land it nearly intact, which is more than most pilots could have done with one wing ripped off and both engines dead. It's a miracle you weren't killed."

"I'm just that good. Tell me why I'm here. I'm not falling for this ruse. You must know that."

He let out a frustrated growl. "This isn't a ruse. When you recover your memory, we're both going to look back on this and laugh."

"We won't." She couldn't surprise him. She might, possibly, be able to trick him. "Show me the ship. You say I crashed it. Show me the technical schematics. Let Dameron come tell me about it." She said Poe's name in a mockery of Ren's voice.

"You're not cleared to have visitors yet. Believe me, as soon as you are, there won't be room to stand in this room."

"You're here." This wasn't fun, but Rey admitted to a certain level of enjoyment as she poked holes in his lies. She had neither staff nor lightsaber and still she could spar with him.

"I'm the only one permitted back here with you for now."

"Because we're married?" she asked with incredulous disbelief. "Let me guess. We have two mop-headed children waiting for us at home, twins for preference. This story does go on."

His eyes softened. "No. We don't have children. We decided against it." Convenient, although she had assumed he'd be laying the lies on thicker than this. "Do you remember that conversation? Any of it?" Seeing her face, he went on, "You wanted to focus on your career for now. Aside from that, my family carries a number of genetic anomalies due to my grandfather's unusual birth. I'd prefer not to pass them along to another generation. We agreed we'd think about adopting if we want to start a family down the line. My mother sends me information every other day about New Republic orphanages."

"Send her in here. I've love to talk with her about it."

"No visitors yet."

"So I've heard." She lay back. "You could have spent more time thinking this through. If I was holding you prisoner and trying to convince you it was real, I'd tell you everyone was dead. I wouldn't bother with the marriage lie."

The prick stung. "I can show you the holos from the wedding."

"I'd rather see the schematics of this ship I helped design."

"Fine." He shoved his chair away. "I'll bring the holos, too. Maybe they'll jar your memory." He stormed out of the room. Rey listened to his thick tread retreat down the corridor, and grow muffled with the outer sounds of the medical center.

Alone at last, she crept out of the bed. There was only the line in her arm to detach. She silenced the alarms on her monitors before removing the pads sticking them to her flesh. She wore a thin gown, and her clothes were nowhere to be seen. She'd made do with worse. A quick pat-down of herself to check for external trackers told her she wore nothing else under the gown. Curiously, her body felt different under her hand. She'd never had spare food nor water back on Jakku, but she felt more curves than she recognized, water-fat and well-fed, muscles sleek with hard practice, and even a small swell to her breasts.

The changes in her body startled her more than any of the constructed lies around her. The First Order must have been keeping her for some time, even resorting to mild surgery. Her gorge rose with the violation.

She had to flee before he returned. She had no pockets in which to carry weapons.

Outside the room, there were no guards posted, continuing the illusion. Lucky for her, but also a reason for caution: there would be cameras. Sure enough, as she found her way to a corner unobserved, a domed lens waited for her on the other side. A cart with medical supplies she didn't recognize sat within reach. Rey wrapped her hand around one that fit in her hand like a stone. With careful judgment of the distance, she flung the small projectile at the dome, smashing it. The sound didn't carry far. She dodged the mess beneath and ran.

The corridors yawned crazily. She'd had nightmares about being trapped in endless hallways with closed rooms, especially after her escape at Starkiller Base. Had those dreams been premonitions?

She had no sense of direction now. Outside was her only hope. She swung her course towards what she thought she remembered of the high window in the cell disguised as her hospital room. Nurses and medical droids walked past her in the hallway. Rey calmed her steps, attempting to look as though she knew her intended direction, as though she belonged there in her thin gown and bare feet.

She emerged through a door into another hallway, and crashed right into Finn.

Startled and frightened, she raised her fists, then dropped them to pull him into a relieved embrace. "You came," she said, squeezing him gratefully. Behind him, his friend Poe stood, keeping an eye on the exit behind them.

"Of course we did." Finn hugged her back.

Poe said, "Do you have any idea how hard it is to sneak into this place?" His smile was wide, and to her surprise, he took her into a quick hug as soon as Finn let go. "I'm glad you're all right."

"We have to hurry," Rey said, taking Finn's hand and starting to pull him towards the way he'd come.

He let go. "Hurry where?"

"Out of here. Unless there's another prisoner?" She'd worried about him, but with her shaky memory of her capture, she might not be the only one here. Luke might be, or another Resistance pilot.

"There are prisoners?" Poe asked, voice serious. "Have you seen them?"

She shook her head. "Just me. Kylo Ren is here. We have to go before he finds out I escaped."

Finn mouthed, "Escaped?" as Poe asked, "What did you say?"

The door behind her opened. Rey instantly spun to the defensive as Ren found them. The others would have brought weapons, but she had none. She didn't like the idea of facing him in hand to hand combat.

"There you are. When you weren't in your room, I was terrified."

"He's trying a mind trick," Rey warned them. "It doesn't work on me, but you can't listen to what he says. Shoot him."

"Oh, so tempting," Poe said.

Finn touched her arm. She felt the reassurance flow through her. He'd have a blaster. It might not be much defense, but better than nothing. "Rey, what's going on?" She kept backing away from the door.

"You two aren't supposed to be here," said Ren. "I told you, she's not allowed visitors yet."

Poe said, "You said she was having memory problems."

"I am not having memory problems." She turned to Finn. "He's trying to trick you."

Finn said, "It wouldn't be the first time. Let's sit down. You're trembling. I don't think you're supposed to be on your feet yet."

"We have to run!"

"She thinks she's being held hostage," Ren said. "She thinks it's five years ago."

Rey curled her hand into a fist. She might not be able to stop him from trying to pressure their minds, but she could definitely take his attention away from her friends. "You can't let him confuse you. You broke in here to rescue me."

"No," Finn said. "We broke in here because we got tired of Ben not telling us anything about your condition. We've come to the medical center to visit you."