Everything We Need: Chapter 1- Takodana
Rey wasn’t so much awakened as pulled out of sleep. It hadn’t been a deep sleep anyway, but still, having been pulled from it, she could now feel the small beginnings of her dream evaporate like a fog as she suddenly felt her familiar surroundings again.
At the moment, she was on Takodana, and her first thought about this place still held true: she had never known there was this much green in the whole galaxy. She looked up through the small hole in her thatched roof, seeing a pink dawn barely peeking through the tree canopy. It was still too early, but she couldn’t go back to sleep now. BB-8 sensed it too. He had come out of sleep mode as soon as Rey had sat up in her bed. He rolled over to her now, tilting his head, curious.
“I don’t know, BB-8. I felt…something.”
BB-8 rolled back as if getting a better look at Rey would help the droid figure out what was happening with her. He beeped at her, worried.
“No, no, nothing like that. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t dark…it was, ugh I don’t know, it doesn’t make any sense.”
She got up and went outside. She wished she had a training course to run, but she had stopped running the training course five years ago. In fact, she had stopped running altogether five years ago. But she had to move, so instead of running, she began walking the path that she knew would lead to Maz’s castle.
“No, I’m sorry, BB-8, not now. I just need some time to think.”
BB-8’s head fell slightly forward as he sighed the way that he knew was most likely to elicit a reaction from Rey.
“Hey, come on, that’s not fair. You know you’re my favorite! It’s not like I’m sneaking out to meet another droid to talk things over with! I just…if I tell you everything right now, I can’t take anything back. I don’t even know if there would be anything I'd need to take back. It’s all…muddy. Nothing’s clear at all. See, I’m not even making any sense. I’m just going to Maz’s …you can meet me there in a couple of hours if you like. We’ll walk back together?”
BB-8 acquiesced. He straightened up and beeped once.
“Yes, just a couple of hours, I promise,'' she said, smiling.
The orange droid said goodbye as he rolled out of her hut and into their small village. It was really just three huts, surrounded by three ships, but it was home for now, and that’s what mattered. She saw Finn coming out of one of the huts and look at her. Curious in the same way BB-8 had been curious. Rey just shook her head and turned back to the path, starting down it once again.
Maz’s castle had been rebuilt, mostly. And though some of the flags were barely more than thread held together precariously, pulled apart by time, weather and attacks from what felt like a lifetime ago, their colors as the sun finally rose was a sight she needed to see.
She walked the short flight of stairs to the door, and the heavy beast groaned as she pushed against it. She knew Maz was here, she just hoped she would be awake as well. Rey needed to speak with SOMEONE now. Someone who knew the story. Someone who knew the Force. And she was afraid to reach out to Luke or Leia. Whatever had pulled her out of her sleep, she was afraid it would be waiting for her if she reached out. Or maybe she was afraid it was gone. Or that she would make it worse. She needed Maz to help her figure out which of those things were true if any.
She walked past the alcoves filled with creatures who just needed a place to stay for the night. Many of them had ships parked around the back and they would be off just as soon as their day started. Since most of them had also had a long night, she doubted that would be any sooner than a couple of hours.
She crept noiselessly around the main floor, making her way to the stairs and Maz’s room. “Come in, child,” Maz said before she had even knocked.
Rey let herself in and stood by the door, even as Maz offered her a chair.
“What’s happened?” Maz asked, lowering her glasses to her eyes.
Rey stood still by the door, nervous tension pulling all of her limbs up, coiling as if ready to strike.
“I don’t know,” Rey said, shaking her head. “I was asleep, and then I wasn’t. I felt like someone had pulled me out. Like I could still feel fingers around my arms. But when I woke up, there was nothing, and then the feeling vanished. Slowly. Like it melted away."
She hesitated to say the thing she had really come to say though.
Maz looked at her kindly and softly said, “You must say it, Rey. I can’t help unless I know for sure.”
Rey looked at her with tears in her eyes. One escaped down her cheek, and she rushed a hand up to keep it from falling to the floor.
“It was… it was something I haven’t felt since Ben left,” she said, standing her staff up against the door and finally sitting in the chair Maz had offered. She sat, elbows on her knees, the heels of her hands pushed against her cheeks as though if she only pushed hard enough, she wouldn’t have to feel everything that was coming on now. Shrinking herself as much as she could, because she was afraid if she didn’t, everything in her would come out as a scream.
Maz gave her a minute. This poor, poor young woman. All of the galaxy on her shoulders, all the pain in her heart, a lifetime of joy and heartbreak all lived out in the span of a few short years. Maz knew that Rey had tried to resume life as she had seen other people do. But Maz also knew the truth was that deep down, there was no normal for Rey. She was still figuring out what it meant to have a family, to have a future. Maz sat across from her and took Rey’s hands in her own. Rey’s tear-stained face looked back.
Fearfully, Rey whispered, “I don’t know what any of it means, Maz."
Maz looked at her quietly, letting the air settle back into the room, allowing Rey to catch her breath. After a few deep inhalations, Maz could feel that Rey was ready to listen.
“I don’t know that I know any more than you do at the moment, my dear Rey, but I will help you decipher what I can. I fear that, as with all things, some of this you’ll have to do on your own, but I will do what I can. So start from the beginning”.
“That’s the weird thing, I don’t think there was a beginning. There was just a kind of sleep, and then I felt like someone pulled me awake. Like they sat me up because I needed to see something. And then once I was awake, it was all gone. It didn’t feel like Luke or Leia. I haven’t spoken to them in months ...but it felt like…Ben. Like he was pulling me somewhere…or like he needed me to see something. But that doesn’t seem like it could be true, does it? He disappeared. I’ve tried reaching out to him, and I haven’t felt him since Exogol."
At this admission, she collapsed again.
She hadn’t spoken to anyone about Ben since just after the Final Battle. She couldn’t. It was her secret, her burden, and she no longer knew if she couldn’t share it with anyone, or if she simply wouldn’t. Finn and Poe still referred to him as Ren sometimes, even though she had told them that when he passed, it was as Ben.
She didn’t want to make either of them angrier than they were at him. They had both suffered at his hands, and when they would bring up something that had happened, she had to stay quiet, for fear she’d be torn directly in two. Her loyalty to her friends and her love of Ben seemed directly at odds with each other in the real world, though she saw them as the same. She had come close to talking to Maz about him before, but was afraid that just saying his name would make her, well…would make her act the way she was acting right now.
And so now, here she was, waiting for Maz to say something to make everything alright again. Or at least make it like it was when she had gone to bed last night. She had accepted what her life was and was happy in it, but whatever she was feeling now, it felt like a regression.
Maz looked at her again, drew a breath, and said slowly, “I never underestimate The Force. All things can be true all the time. The only way you will know is to go there. To meet that feeling. To face both what you fear may be true, and what you fear can never be true.”
Rey stood up and walked around the room, shaking her head at first.
“Maz, I can’t. What if he’s not there? What if this is just a trick? What if this is how someone lures me to make a mistake? What if someone is using Ben…or myself…or our dyad against me?”
Maz nodded slowly. “You’re right, it could be. But I can only tell you what I know, and that is, if the Force is reaching out to YOU, it will be heard sooner or later. There is no ignoring it.”
Rey sat down again, her legs folded under her, and slumped her head in her hands again.
“UUUGGGHHH!” she exclaimed angrily to the floor. She knew Maz was right.
Rey looked up into Maz’s eyes again. “I can’t do it alone,” she said, it was a statement, not a question. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust herself. She had grown strong in both her abilities and her confidence. No, this was that she didn’t trust what was on the other side of that question. If she reached out and what came back to her was something dark, what then?
Maz nodded, pulling down the next lens of her glasses. “No, you won’t have to. I’ll be right here”.
Rey looked at her a little surprised. “Oh, you mean right now?!”
“Well, yes, my child…do you have a better time?”
Rey pursed her lips into a thin line and broke her look at Maz. She could certainly think of better times! How about later tonight after everyone had gone to sleep again? How about in a week, when she had gone over and over this morning in her head a hundred times and thought through every single repercussion? She could think of a million reasons to postpone this, but the biggest one being simply her fear again, and once she admitted this to herself, she looked again at Maz and shook her head.
“No, I don’t, you’re right. Now it is. But,” she reached her hand out and Maz took it “stay with me, please”, Rey said as Maz placed her hand in Rey’s palm.
Rey’s hand closed. “Of course, Rey,” Maz said as she patted their hands.
They both closed their eyes and settled into their breathing.
After what felt like a lifetime, Rey felt like she could finally whisper what she had so often said in the last five years, but this time with a different kind of urgency.
“Be with me,” both a plea and a demand.
“Be with me.”
Several more deep breaths passed.
Quieter this time, and just a plea “Be WITH me."
And then she felt like she was pulled backward like she was traveling through lightspeed. She felt like she was being pulled through dimensions. She could feel herself still sitting with Maz and on Tatooine, and on Endor, and in each of these places a part of her still remained, but she continued backward, back through time. She could sense Luke at Tosche station. She felt Leia on Alderaan. She sensed Master Yoda fighting her grandfather.
And then suddenly, it all stopped. It was all black for a moment. The deepest void she had ever felt.
Slowly, the beginnings of a path rose before her, a path that glistened with a sheen from a light she could not see. She stepped on it and felt her footsteps reverberate. Slowly other paths emerged. Signs around doorways…or were they portals?
She could hear voices again, clearer than she ever had before. Some familiar, some not familiar. Just words from times gone by and times to come and then she heard what she had come to hear.
She had never heard him say her name before. Well, not like that. She had never heard Ben say her name. For the last five years, it had been one of the things she had always wished for. In the quiet times, when she had a moment to think about what her life could have been, it was one of the things she always sent a silent request for. Just to hear him say her name, with the love she knew they both felt.
She hadn’t even gotten that before he had disappeared from her arms.
Now hearing it, she didn’t believe it. She couldn’t believe it. If she did, her guard would be down.
“Rey” she heard again, and this time she knew it was him.