Jannah's palm smacks the keypad. The Falcon's ramp disengages, disappearing into the blue swirl of Exegol's underworld. Its searchlights are useless - the beams of light can only go as far as she can see, which is about to the end of the ramp. After that, darkness stakes its claim.
"Finn? Rey?" she shouts. Jannah hears nothing but wind whipping around them. Poe calls from the cockpit - "Nothing on the scans." Chewie, too, warbles mournfully.
Finn, she thinks, Rey.
Finn materializes from the fog a few painful moments later. Relief slams into Jannah with the thud of his boots on the ramp, until she realizes he's carrying Rey. The last of the Jedi, limp in his arms.
Finn stops, breath heavy like his heart.
"No. We need to take her to Leia."
Jannah sets a hand on his shoulder. "But Finn, Leia's-"
"I know. I know. But..." He takes in a deep breath. Jannah glances at Rey, her colourless features and ragged clothes.
Finn sighs. "Yeah. She's still here. She can help her."
Jannah tilts her head towards the cockpit. "Well, get her settled and let's go."
Rey's eyes open slowly. Slowly, but surely. Finn's shoulders sag forward.
"Hey," he murmurs.
"Hey." Her voice is raspy but unmistakably hers. Finn might just collapse in tears from the sheer relief. He does his best to keep his feelings in check, and only reaches out and takes Rey's hand in his.
"You did it."
"We did it." Rey stares at Finn, taking him in. They're alive. The First Order is decimated. Palpatine is gone for good. They're alive. Together. She smiles. We did it, my friend. We did it.
Finn nods. "Yeah. We did."
Rey sits up, pillows buckling under her weight. "Leia?" She already knows the answer, deep in her heart, but the vacuum left behind is so vast she needs confirmation.
Finn nods. He still doesn't know what to make of it. All of it.
Rey inhales, slowly, anxiety fluttering at the base of her stomach. Leia, gone, and the last of the old Jedi with her. "B-Kylo's gone. I sensed it."
"I know," Finn replies. Rey tilts her head at him, eyes narrowing. A sure warmth emanates from him, and not just the body warmth shared in their clasped hands. It's steady and bright and unmistakably familiar - Finn's imprint on the Force. Amplified a thousandfold, a distant hum magnified into a harmony.
"You do know." She clasps her free hand over his, sandwiching it between both her hands. "Finn. That's wonderful.You're-" You're like me, she thinks. We're not alone. "You're Force sensitive."
"It's confusing. And scary, and honestly pretty weird."
"I know." She nods, then nods faster, realizations hitting her all at once. "I know, Finn, oh, Force, if we'd realized sooner-" Leia could've trained both of them. Rey wouldn't have felt so alone. They could've faced Palpatine together. The burden of carrying on the Jedi legacy was no longer so heavy, but... somehow she'd have to teach Finn what Luke and Leia had taught her. And she still had so much to learn. At least they'll be able to take that journey together.
"So you didn't know? You couldn't," Finn waves a hand, "tell? Somehow?"
"No! Force, Finn..." Rey sighs. "I was about to say you should've told me when you realized, but..." Pasaana. Of course. She'd been foolish to think it was anything else. Amid the relief and the joy, sadness twinges in her gut.
"I wasn't sure. I didn't know who to ask. You were... you were busy. When I figured it out, you were gone."
Rey frowns. Finn's hand slips from her grip. "Right. Right..." she sighs. "I'm sorry. I was... I don't know what I was doing. The past year just feels like... like a blur. A dream. Nothing feels real. Han. Luke. Leia. All of it. The darkness, the bits of light. It feels like someone threw a blanket over my eyes." Her gaze meets Finn's. Steady warmth and determination. Friendship, yes, but with an edge. Curiosity? Disappointment? "And I couldn't see until now."
"Was... was he in your head?"
"Yes." Rey swallows, finding her mouth dry and tasting of metal. "I saw him. When I was with Luke. When we were on Kijmi. And even when I didn't see him... he was everywhere. All the time. I really did want to give Leia her son back. It only seemed right. But I was so scared, Finn."
"We all were."
"I know. I know you know better than anyone else. Maybe Poe, too, but it's different with him. You... I was scared what he might do to you."
"To me?" Finn makes a face. "You were scared for me?"
"Of course. You're my friend, Finn. Why else would I push you away if not to protect you?"
He blinks at her. "Right. Okay."
All of a sudden the thin medical gown Rey's wearing feels very, very cold. "Finn?"
"Are you mad at me?"
Finn sighs, a shudder, almost. "I don't think I could ever get mad at you, Rey." It's the truth. And he could never lie. Not to her. "But... I told you from the start, when we first left for Pasaana. You didn't have to do any of this by yourself. It might've been easier."
"I know. I know you'd be there for me through everything." Rey twists her lips, something unpleasant rapidly building inside her. Tears, she thinks. This is all too much like Jakku, and her parents... her parents... "I know you'd risk your life for me, Finn, that's why I didn't want you to get involved. Especially when... when I was afraid of myself. I didn't know who I was, then. All I had was the darkness around me, even with Leia to help... I had to figure it out on my own." She lets out a shaky breath, glancing to where Finn's hand lingers on the edge of her bed. "I know it would've been easier if... if I shared more of what I was feeling, with you."
"I understand, Rey."
"I'm sorry." Rey ducks her head, at where her hand lies inches away from Finn's. "Please know that... I'd... I do anything for you too. Even if... even if I'm not beside you physically, I'm always there for you. I can feel you, Finn, even from the other side of the galaxy." She'd felt him, on Exegol, long before he'd come to take her home.
Rey lifts her head back up to look at him, a tight, thin smile on her face.
"And if you want to go looking for your family... I was hoping we could do that together. It might be easier."
Finn grins. "Of course, Rey, but only if you promise-"
"Anything," she says, too quick to be anything but earnest.
Finn's smile widens. "Just don't run off without telling us, okay? Because I'm... I'm as afraid for you as you were for me, so that was... scary, to say the least."
"Of course, Finn." Rey smiles. "I thought you were going to ask me to teach you about the Force."
"That too," Finn chuckles. He hold's Rey's gaze. Whatever unease he'd seen in them earlier is gone. Instead, he feels... warm. Seen.
He clears his throat. "So, um," Finn shuffles in his seat. "I'll leave you to it, now, Poe's been holding down the fort but he needs his Co-General and-"
"Finn," Rey says, slow and sure. Finn stops midsentence. Tilts his head at the redness in Rey's face and the light in her eyes.
"I need to tell you something."
Rey meets Finn at the end of the Falcon's ramp.
"Too much like Jakku," Finn mutters, regarding Tatooine's endless stretch of sand dunes. The washed out orange plains are coloured reddish gold by the light of the desert planet's setting suns. Rey turns her gaze from the homestead to the horizon one last time. She smiles.
"I told you, you didn't have to get off the ship."
"I know." Finn's voice is lighter, softer. "I just wanted to see it too."
Rey turns away from the sky to smile at Finn. She extends her hand to him, who takes it and leads her into the Falcon. BB8 follows, chirping and rolling around Rey and Finn's feet. They walk, hands linked, down to the cockpit. A silvery cylinder hangs from Finn's waist, mirroring the ridged, black weapon hanging from Rey's.
Rey takes the controls, and Finn settles into the well worn co-pilot's seat.
"Where to next?" she asks.
"Let's go home."