Fire and Gasoline

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"What happened?" she asked, taking a few steps closer. I could feel the warmth all around me as the smoke mingled with the humid air.

I shook my head and turned away. I couldn't tell her about the nightmares, they'd only make her worry unnecessarily when there was nothing that she could do. But I knew what I had to do.

Rey took my hand and clasped it tightly. She was silent, and I looked into her eyes and wondered if she ever felt what I was feeling. The sense of helplessness, being forced to stand by and watch while those you love the most suffer. I'd lost Leia but I wouldn't lose her. Not to Snoke, not to anyone.

"Let's go back inside." she said softly, "The fire will burn out eventually."

I nodded in agreement and we headed back, leaving the magnificent trees to be reduced to cinders.

***

By the time it was midday the fire had burnt out, although one could still see wisps of smoke curling up above the treetops in the distance. I'd gone to the waterfall to bathe, hardly noticing the icy cold water. I felt restless as my mind was constantly consumed by thoughts of Snoke, and often I was filled with an impulsive desire to rush onto the ship and hunt him down. He had to pay. But at the same time I could tell that Rey wasn't quite ready. There was no way that she would let me face Snoke on my own and so I had to prepare her, even though I'd made up my mind that when the time came, I would be the one to deliver the final blow.

I sat on a tree stump and played with my lightsaber idly as I waited for Rey to appear. She claimed to be making me a 'special soup' which made me slightly anxious since the Akivan jungle boasted a very limited supply of ingredients. However, she'd seemed quite eager to make it, which made me wonder if it was not some secret remedy for whatever she believed I was going through.

Finally Rey emerged from the side of the outpost, where we'd set up a makeshift stove and a copper pan that we'd discovered amongst some leftover belongings. She was carrying a wooden bowl in each hand and had a satisfied smile painted across her face.

"Here you go." She handed a bowl to me which I took suspiciously, and sat down on the stump beside me with hers. A flock of birds sailed overhead, momentarily filtering out the sunlight.

We sat in silence for a while with Rey sipping her soup while I stared off into the distance absent-mindedly. She gave me a nudge. "At least try it." she said with a half-smile and I lifted the bowl to my lips to take a sip. It wasn't as terrible as I had anticipated. Then, once I'd swallowed down another mouthful I asked. "So why were you so worried about Finn?"

Rey, who had been calmly sipping her soup, coughed and spluttered her mouthful onto the ground.

"Are you okay?" I asked with concern as he wiped her mouth.

"Yeah I'm fine." she replied. "It just went down the wrong way."

I nodded. "So, Finn?"

"Yeah. I was just worried about how he might be doing, you know with the position and everything." she said. She'd mentioned that Finn had been elected as leader, and I could definitely see why it might be a stressful job.

"What happened this morning?" she asked suddenly. I looked at her face, still adjusting to her new haircut, then let out a sigh.

"I don't know." I said. "I suppose I just, lost control for a while."

Rey placed her hand over mine. I noticed that she did it often, this small gesture of hand holding. I wrapped my fingers around hers and stared down at them.

"Snoke is going to pay." she said. I looked back up at her face in surprise and saw that her eyes were set with determination. She knew me well. "Yes, he will." I agreed.

"But until then, try not to destroy anymore of the forest."

I smiled weakly, and then was seized by a sudden thought.

"Rey, do you remember the force sharing that we tried last time we were here?" Her eyes lit up with remembrance. "You want to try it again?" she asked.

I nodded. "If you're up for it that is."

***

We'd trekked South for a while until we'd found ourselves at the foot of a deep valley. I wasn't sure what exactly had led us there but Akiva's terrain always seemed to be full of surprises. The ground looked naked without the usual cover of vines and plants and dead leaves that littered the floors of the jungle, and when I stepped on it I felt a strange sense of connection with the earth.

At the centre of this peculiar stretch of brown earth and hills was cluster of large stones. The most colossal of all of them stood proudly at the centre, casting it's huge shadow over the smaller ones that surrounded it. Rey came to stand beside me.

"Please don't tell me--"

"Yes." I cut her off with a grin. "We're going to lift it."

Rey and I sat cross legged on opposite sides of the stone. It had sunk a good way into the ground and had hundreds of little green plants clamouring at it's base. It was about the same size as a small fighter jet, but weighed possibly three of four times more. Rey and I couldn't see or hear each other, and so had to focus on sensing each other's presence.

She made the first attempt. I could hear the sound of dirt crunching and roots snapping as she concentrated hard on shifting it from it's base. I tried to tap into that concentration, but found myself unable to get a stable grip. The stone settled back into place.

It was my turn to try. Growing up I'd been told my many people that I possessed incredible power in the force. Whether I drew that strength from the light or the dark side I knew that it was there. But something always seemed to be holding me back. Sometimes it was the fear of failure, but more often it was the fear of succeeding. I couldn't afford to hold back anymore.

You're not strong enough.

No, not on my own. I said to myself. But with the two of us I knew that, if we really wanted it to, the galaxy would tremble at our feet.

The stone shifted again.

Rey was able to focus on me quickly and I could feel her hold weaving into mine. Her strength mirrored and sometimes exceeded my own, but gradually it balanced out. Together we began to lift the stone, and with it's crushing weight I feared that every fibre of my mind would snap with the effort. I could feel beads of sweat forming on my forehead as the power within me grew but this time, I was able to control it. The stone was now rising slowly in the air and when I realised that we were finally able to hold it up without it falling, I opened my eyes. Across from me Rey was staring back. Her chest was heaving up and down as she caught her breath and I could see the sweat dripping down her face as well.

But she was smiling.

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