He could only make out what, from afar, looked like a town - or a makeshift of it - with tattered tents and static noises. It was dusk and his droid was still nowhere to be found. Only this. He wondered if hope could be found in this place.
That, or maybe water.
Maybe Finn was right. Jakku was all in all a bad idea. But BB-8 - he couldn’t possibly leave him. The astromech was easily scared, and too loyal for his own good. Entrusting the map in his care put an invisible target on him, with the First Order relentless on its chase. He just had to come back.
Poe trudged on the sand, his feet feeling more like jelly in each step. Somehow, the closer he got, the farther the town seemed to be. Lights from hanging lamps streaked rather than glowed, and he deduced that if he didn’t make it in time - or got any help really - he’d be dead meat by the morning.
What a tragedy: the greatest pilot of the Resistance - put to death with his body parts smuggled on the scavenging planet of Jakku. May it bring mercy on his droid more than it had on him.
He felt his eyes struggle to close - step, step - and his mind drifted of to that of a familiar place. Comfort. His little footsteps dancing around a tree. Stark branches. The smell of green. Leaves whispering with the wind. His father’s voice an echo from afar calling his name. Home.
Home would be nice. Home.
As if he was tased, he felt his body being jolted awake. Poe blinked a few times, readjusting his vision. Whatever trance he was in a few moments ago was turning out to be a semblance of hope in the - quite literal - darkness. His ears perked at the sound of a speeder passing by him, and a few more steps, at the blurred noises in the outpost. There were actual live, moving bodies, of various galactic kinds and species as clear as his mind could process. Clinks and clanks. Movement. Far from the incomprehensible blob along with the empty void he was imagining a few minutes ago. He was alive. He wasn’t dreaming.
Now he could use some help.
Yet, he found himself looking back as if...
He didn't know why he was expecting something when it was all but an empty darkness. Yet he still looked back. He didn’t know what he was looking for, but he did. And then he went on.
She thought, though impossible, that it was her mechanic companion falling off from its little compartment. The sound was like a crisp zap in the air - for a fleeting moment it was so alive and then as swiftly as it came, turned into muted white noise in the next second.
An inquisitive beep gently hummed from the back seat.
That seemed to appease the droid. With her vision suddenly clearing and her senses all awake, she maneuvered the speeder to its max, all set to home.
There was a faint pull calling her back and she would -she would have looked back. Her eyes focused on the path ahead, never stopping.
For what? There probably wasn’t anything to see too. It was always just the darkness in Jakku.
Tales could never do her justice. She was lithe, and full of grace, with a heaviness in her heart reflected crystal clear in her eyes. The chaos did nothing to distract her from its weight nor the bustle of the Millennium Falcon slowly docking behind her. Her eyes were set to the one person approaching her in haste, and Poe thought, this wasn’t the right time.
It was a shame really.
Of course he heard about her - ranging from her being a solitary young scavenger to someone who knew the ways of the Force. And he believed them, he believed them all. Even without seeing her fully, there was an unexplained pull to her presence - to the point that he questioned himself - steadily and slowly becoming vivid as she came into view.
It was a shame really, but this wasn’t the right time.
So he hurried with the rest of the fighters as they wheeled Finn along on a stretcher straight to the medical bay. A large wookie followed him suit, and he was worried for his friend, but while his feet moved forward he couldn’t stop himself from looking back.
All but a glance - to the girl BB-8 was telling him about, the girl Finn couldn’t stop looking for.
He hoped he’d find the time to introduce himself, and thank her later.
Home. A familiar place. Comfort. His little footsteps dancing around a tree. Stark branches. The smell of green. Leaves whispering with the wind. His father’s voice an echo from afar calling his name. Home.
This time, he stopped dancing around it. Father, his own small voice called, uncertain with curiosity. This is a really beautiful tree. His tiny hand grasped a stray root, his fingers closing around it as much as possible. There was so much life to it and energy, and power, that he could feel every nerve in his body shooting sparks as if he was being roused out from slumber. Someone’s voice. Someone’s presence. The feeling was so familiar that he -
He suddenly woke up, cold sweat pouring in his skin. The remaining Resistance fighters hobbled at a distance, watching hopelessly.
“No! No no no no - “
Poe was not entirely sure why he was screaming or why his throat felt so parched even with only a few words out. He remembered his dream earlier as he ran towards the window, not sure what he was expecting to see apart from the explosions. But he did anyway. He was drained, nothing made sense in head and his body felt like he would drop dead anytime soon. Yet his mind kept on screaming and screaming and screaming and he wasn't sure what or why but he couldn’t tune out the voices in his head no matter how hard he tried.
So did she, from a distance. She had experienced torture at the hands of Kylo Ren, but from the hands of the Supreme Leader Snoke, she felt her energy leave her body almost as if it was tearing her apart.
She screamed and screamed and screamed and it didn’t make sense - at all - but she was somehow holding on, some other life force was helping her keep it together. Her voice was next to nothing and everything in her strained. Darkness was clouding her vision but she was somehow still there.
The screams went on and on, but she held on still.
His only fuel was hope. The silo looked old, barren and with many tales of defeat and short-lived victories in its walls. General Organa was telling the remaining fleet to follow him, and for a moment he wanted to stop at the weight of the responsibility suddenly placed on his shoulders. What if he failed them? Like he almost failed BB-8? Like he almost got Finn and Rose dead?
Hope was a dangerous thing. But with no army, no weapons, and the First Order on their tail, hope was all he had. The sound of glass bouncing against the ground was faint ahead of him - come on, come on, come on...
At least until the last of the creature’s tail was seen before completely disappearing into a hole small enough to fit it. Maybe hope wasn’t enough. Maybe a miracle was what he really needed.
More so now that he had failed them. Another battle he thought he was doing right by, and another defeat, the most glorious one, on his belt.
He closed his eyes, almost as if in defeat. Poe was not sure why the Force tree by their backyard came to mind. Maybe it was what everyone had been saying - the person’s life flashing by on the moment of their death. The comforts of his home. Stark branches. The smell of green. Leaves whispering with the wind. His hand, a scarred, battle-worn one this time around, all him in the present time, reaching out to a stray root. But when he had gotten a hold of it, it disappeared, leaving a vision of a hand, reaching out just like his.
More fragile yet more alive than his.
Then it happened all at once - strays of light piercing his eyes as he opened them, and a girl in the distance with her hand outstretched, big chunks of rocks held by some invisible force around her like a halo. She looked ethereal.
Small cheers erupted from the crowd as the path cleared. Finn and General Organa moved closer to where he was, and he could sense BB-8 on his tail.
But all he could do was stare.
In an all familiar zap, the floating rocks dropped around them as Finn ran into her, holding her so close in his arms. The cheers got louder and BB-8 was nudging him but all he could do?
He was still staring.
When will the right time come?
So he touched everything that his eyes laid on the moment he stepped inside. Big deal. It wasn’t like everyday that a hero machine like the Falcon, the Millenium Falcon, gets to live its tale and he could actually hear it. Be in it. Poe Dameron was, on all states and forms, in awe.
But if he was being honest with himself, he had been buzzing in awe since half an hour ago. The Resistance fleet had finally found safety and they were on their way to their next base, wherever that was. He supposed everything was all right, at least for now. So Poe let himself bask on the silent wonder that he thought would go away instantly. Yet there it was and there he was, feeling like he was clutching the stray root from the Force tree that had been in his visions as of late.
Zapped constantly. Fire in his veins. Okay, maybe a little bit nervous too.
When will the right time come?
A man was thanking him and clapping his back when he noticed, not through another Force-tree inspired zap, but by a buzz. A very familiar buzz - more like a chirp.
“Looks good,” he heard her say, as his droid bent his domed head down to show off his newly fixed antenna. He took a few good seconds to stare (again) until it dawned on him.
BB-8. Always his life saver.
He moved toward where she was crouched, gently tending to his astromech. As she almost - really - came into view, almost within his grasp, he felt it again. A familiar place. Comfort. The smell of green. Like life.
Like he knew her all his life.
And in the fleeting moments where she almost knew him too, when he could almost see her - he wondered why if he knew her all his life, all this time, he was still surprised.
Rey looked at him for the first time. And somehow, he knew.
It was almost funny how this was all familiar. Her voice. Her presence. Him stretching his hand to offer a shake.
And her own taking his. As if something that had long been open finally found its end, a string now tied and connected.
Tales did not do her justice. Of course he heard about her - ranging from her being a solitary young scavenger to someone who knew the ways of the Force. The general, Finn, BB-8 - they all talked about her. He briefly wondered at one point what was so special about her. The girl from Jakku. A deserter in a desert planet. They all said she was from nowhere. Someone probably said she was no one.
But he knew. They were wrong. Somehow he knew all about her.
And at the beautiful, bright smile on her face, the feel of her hand against his, he believed she did too.