Desert planets have never been your favorite.
When he’s drinking, Cloya likes to mention that you cried the first time you set foot on one, a small, sparse planet near the Outer Rim. You smile into your ale and take the ribbing that comes your way with good graces. It had been hard, that first time. The heat. The dry, crackling air that licked at your skin. Such barren ground struck a place close to your heart. But when you saw the shifting sands, the undulating dunes, you sensed the rhythm of the endless sea of your home planet, the gentle current that still makes your body sway after years on dry land, and your stomach settled. But desert planets remain your least favorite.
Jakku is no different.
It’s a graveyard of a planet, all bone dust sand and rusting machinery. You’re ready to be back on your ship as soon as your feet touch the sand. Cloya pats your arm briefly and goes to negotiate the repairs. You wander the junkyard aimlessly. The sand shifts beneath your feet; you have to put more thought into each step than you would like to admit. You drag your fingers against the metal of the varying ships. The surfaces are scalding from the heat of the bright sun. You let it burn off the extra moisture you keep around your digits to keep them limber in dry air, and then dip them back into the bottle of ocean water that’s always at your side to replenish it.
You shade your eyes to peer into the scorched distance when Cloya’s angry, barking laugh reaches you. There’s no immediate blaster fire, so it’s probably fine, but you glance back anyway. He looks up as soon as your eyes land on him, your strange synchronicity in play, but waves you off with a meaty hand. You wander on, resigning yourself to the tedious boredom edged with nerves that clings to you on every desert planet.
She is a surprise.
She’s all fierce animation as she scolds you for running your hands along her hovercraft, but her thunderous brow melts into something softer when you apologize. Apparently, stealing parts off a working machine is a common practice on Jakku. This time, it’s her who apologizes for misreading your intent, but you’re too busy looking at the strong brace of her legs, at the easy way she walks over the shifting sands, to pay much attention. You meet her eyes, which have been drifting over your form with a sense of wonder, and know that you’re in trouble.
She says her name is Rey.
Rey is filthy, smeared with dirt and grease, and you want to wash it away with your touch. The two of you talk for hours, perched on the hull of the downed AT-AT she seems to live in. Rey brims with curiosity. She has question after question about your home planet, about the water you keep dabbing on yourself until the sun sets and the cool desert night sweeps in, about your humanoid-but-not species. You laugh and laugh and answer her gently. You can’t imagine having only ever known the bare sweeps of this wasteland.
Cloya comes looking for you and leaves just as quickly. He tells you that the repairs will take several days. He’s lying, of course. The only reason you’d even agreed to stop on Jakku is the repairs should have only taken a few hours.
You ask Rey how she came to Jakku under the quiet light of the stars. She tells you she’s waiting for someone and nothing more. You bite your lip. But then, Rey smiles at you and it reminds you of the way the sun glints on top of the water, filtering down to the depths, soft and shining and warm.
You fall into bed with her that same night. She moves like water against you, flowing up your form like an ebbing tide as her hand cups your jaw, as she kisses you like she can taste freedom on your lips. But there’s a hesitancy in her fingertips, a clumsiness that’s out of touch with the surefootedness you’d seen her display earlier, and you guide those kisses back to simpler touches with a tender hand. The two of you whisper together deep into the night, fingers intertwined and pressed between your chests.
You wake in the morning to her on the other side of the small bed. Not a single part of her is touching you. Rey’s face is soft with sleep, though still streaked with dirt. You can see where your fingertips have washed the grime from her cheeks, and something settles low in your stomach at the sight. You roll off the mattress and bury your face in your hands.
There’s a quiet desperation in Rey that answers the same call in you. It is likely not good for either of you. You already know she will not leave this graveyard planet; will likely add her bones to the dust swirling around the broken body of the AT-AT you’re housed in.
It does not make the pull of your connection with her weaken.
The days pass by like years.
Rey laughs with you, grows used to touching you, but there is a melancholy in her that you cannot quite reach. It keeps you at a distance, keeps you to kisses only, deep into the night, but you know you can’t ignore the call for much longer.
The two of you swap stories, talk about nothing and everything. You tell her things that haven’t ever passed your lips before. It takes Rey several days to ask you about the scales she can’t seem to stop touching. You consider, briefly, telling her of the dark of the ocean, the abyss you slid into to have your fins split apart into feet, that the scattered scales that fleck your body are the castoff spray of the magical knife that skewered your original form into two working legs. You consider. You tell her they’re a marker of your species, and say no more.
Your relationship with her is intense, it is all consuming, and it feels unstoppable.
You finally give in late one morning, just as the stars are beginning to dim under the sun’s growing light. Rey touches you like you’re a gift. Her fingers are deft and you teach her what you like with ease. She trembles at first, until you hit your head on the low ceiling of the AT-AT while kissing her, and then, the giggles you two fall into break the tension like a wave breaks on the sand. You roll against her like the sea you grew up under. She touches the scales that are scattered about your skin and surges beneath you, hips pressing up into you with the desperation of someone who wants, wants, wants. You make her come screaming into your kiss; it takes her a few tries, but she finally makes you come with three fingers thrusting deep and the heel of her hand pressing against your tender clit. The two of you drowse after. Rey’s fingers skip from scale to scale, drawing connecting patterns in the scattered constellations of iridescence. You open your mouth to ask her to come with you into the sea of space. Close it. You’ve never been in the habit of asking for what you know you’ll never receive.
Hours later, Rey goes off to scavenge. You snap her goggles playfully. She swats at you but laughs and you hear your heartbeat in your ears and think, oh no.
You still do not leave.
Cloya grows impatient. He rants and he rages, but his eyes are soft. He promises you more time. Not much. But more. You glance down at the cracking skin along your fingertips and know you should leave now.
It takes another four days.
Rey senses it, somehow. She tells you she loves you in a quiet, matter-of-fact voice while you’re washing the dishes. You press a kiss to her temple and tell her that you love her too. The water is soothing as it runs over your cracked, aching fingers, but it isn’t enough.
She doesn’t ask you to stay when you leave. Only says please in a tone of voice that makes you hunch your shoulders. She touches one of the peeling scales on your forearm and does not say it again. You think again of asking her to come with you. But one look at Rey’s set jaw and her green, green eyes, and you know it’s a lost cause. You touch her face gently and she closes her eyes before turning away.
You let her go.
Once the ship has jumped to lightspeed, Cloya runs ocean water over the cracked skin of your arms. It stings and soothes at the same time. You sob. Cloya talks and talks about the business that you had almost forgotten the two of you run. His blunt fingers are gentle as he rubs at the cracked skin to make sure the water soaks in. He makes you laugh through your tears at least twice. You can’t tell if it helps.
Your skin takes weeks to fully heal.
Your heart takes longer, but heal it does.
It’s just over a year later when you start to hear whispers of the Resistance’s new poster girl, of the group of heroes that took out Starkiller Base.
And you can’t help but smile.