The General’s hands were warm on Rey’s shoulder as she guided her over to a lit up monitor. “Look at this code we’ve intercepted Rey, and tell me what you see.” Rey did as she was told, even though she knew she wouldn’t be able to tell the General anything she didn’t already know.
Since leaving Jakku, Rey had found herself surrounded by legends and heroes, yet General Leia stood above them all, ethereal in her power and her grace. The General could look at a single piece of data and extrapolate everything about it. She laid out visions, strategies, and war plans in front of admiring Resistance leaders as easily as she made the heavily herbed teas she drank every morning.
She was not a Jedi. And yet, Rey had never been more aware of the force than when she was in the same room as the General. It entwined with her commands when she stood at the helm of the Resistance’s greatest warships. It ran through her like a spark whenever the General put a hand easily on Rey’s shoulder or arm as she guided her around the control room. And at night, when Rey lay in meditation, she could feel the warmth of the General’s power seeping up from the very walls of whatever base or ship she was currently protecting.
Luke had taught her how the Jedi utilized the force. Leia had taken her under her wing and taught her something entirely different. She had the power, and the ability to do real good in the galaxy outside of the sabers and mind control of the Jedi and dark side. She never pushed Rey away from the way of the Jedi. Instead she showed her a different way.
Leia was born the daughter of a queen, the galaxy’s greatest senator. She was raised a Princess and a diplomat, and became a warrior through necessity. The galaxy couldn’t have crafted someone more different than Rey. Rey had spent most of her life scavenging wreckage for the chance to eat bread. She had deep tan lines, long scars that criss crossed over her body, and calluses that she doubted would ever fade. Training with Luke shifted her harshness, but never diminished it.
Her voice was halting as she stumbled over what she found. “It’s a set of messages from two droids. They’re scouting for a new location to move something. Trash?” Rey asked, looking up into deep brown eyes, crinkled in amusement.
“Yes, trash of a sort. First Order trash, the sort that isn’t valuable enough to keep weighing down the ships, but is valuable enough to sell. Most likely old tech. I was thinking we’d go see what they had to offer. I have a very good feeling that they’ve let go of something they shouldn’t,” Leia said, her lips lifting up.
Rey smiled in response, though her heart was beating so fast it almost hurt.
She was given an hour to prep before they went planet side.
Finn was already in their shared room when she arrived. News traveled fast on the ship. Especially to people as friendly as Finn. “Don’t you have training now?”
Finn ignored her. “You and the General alone on a mission? How more perfect could this be? Jarvic down in engine room said she hasn’t gone on a mission like this in decades. Something must have caught her attention. Or someone,” he said with a grin.
Rey ignored the insinuation and the waves of excitement she could feel rolling off of her best friend. “She said she has a feeling about a piece of tech. It’s probably the force leading her. She probably just needs to actually be there to know what we’re looking for.”
“That’s possible, I suppose. Still, just the two of you, on a tropical planet, the only humanoids for miles. It might be a good chance for you to make your move.” Finn just laughed when she shoved him off of her bed.
“How many times do I have to tell you, there won't’ be any move making. You need to stop watching Rose’s romance discs.”
The fact that she had a crush on the General was unfortunately incredibly common knowledge. She hadn’t been aware that she was giving herself away by always talking about how amazing the woman was. How powerful, and strong, and graceful she was. It wasn’t until a random pilot made a passing comment about how cute her puppy love was that she had even realized what the feeling in her stomach was. There hadn’t been anyone worth crushing on at Jakku.
Rose assured her it was normal. Everyone had crushes, especially when it came to people like Leia. She also assured Rey that yes, the General absolutely knew, but that it was going to be fine. Rey wouldn’t be the first, nor last, person to get tongue tied around the legend, and Leia wasn’t the type to make it awkward.
What Rose had underestimated was Rey’s ability to make it awkward. From choking on her roll when Leia glanced at her, to leaning into her touches too much, and blurting out compliments at inopportune time. No, Leia had never made it awkward, but Rey had. Repeatedly, and in seemingly news ways each day.
Rey was determined that this mission was going to be her redemption. She’d show General Leia how competent, professional, and unphased she was. She ignored the increasingly more ridiculous scenarios Finn was coming up with about how the mission would play out in her favor.
She picked up her bag and shook her head. “We’re not staying the night, so a single bed won’t be an issue. And I’ve told you Finn, nothing is going to happen. I’m not going to let my feelings get in the way. This is going to be entirely professional.”
Her confidence took a critical hit when saw what Leia was wearing for the mission.
The General was completely transformed into her alias of a wealthy Lady. Her hair was up in a three crowns of braids, offset by amber clips. Her dress was long and clinging, a mix of gold, amber, and copper, that shimmered as she moved. She was dressed as a minor royal from a distant planet. One wealthy enough to be given full access to every booth in the marketplace, but not too ostentatious to gain attention.
Rey was wearing a dark grey tunic, leather pants, and a thick cape that marked her as a bodyguard. Her saber was slipped beneath the folds of her tunic, but the handle of a blaster remained visible. Rey couldn’t imagine anyone would be looking at her however when she was standing next to the General.
Leia smiled at her when she approached and motioned her to come closer. “Here,” she said and pulled out a golden necklace with an amber pendant. “To mark you as belonging to my house. The Niurrii are not likely to know one human’s face over another, and even less likely to care. However it never pays to be sloppy in disguises.”
Rey bit her tongue when Leia moved closer, clearly intending on putting the necklace on herself. Soft fingers brushed the back of her neck as her hair was moved, allowing the necklace to be fitted around her neck. The metal was still warm from where Leia had been holding it. Rey could feel her face burning red. It wasn’t the best start to her redemption.
The flight to the marketplace was smooth. They landed the ship in a full bay. Rey took a breath as she stepped out onto the humid lush blue planet.
The market itself was rich and vibrant, filled with so much life that it sent a familiar pang through Rey. The universe continued to be so much more than she’d ever dreamed it could be.
As soon as they entered, Leia wandered aimlessly into the maze of booths, as if she wasn’t certain what she was looking for. They passed stalls of weapons, of jewels, and of creatures. Rey’s attention was caught by a stall with dozens of small pots filled with blue flames that licked laden skewers.
Leia must have caught her staring, because the General casually picked one up, putting down several small stones in its place. She placed the bright smoked fruit into Rey’s hand, their fingers brushing, as she continued walking. The motion looked practiced, normal. Rey’s entire stomach was felt like it was attempting to launch into hyperdrive.
Leia paused at a screen that was flashing the names and locations of all the booths that were set up. Rey used the moment to bite into the fruit. The mix of spice and sweetness was almost overwhelming. Rey tried not to moan as she took another nibble, licking the juice from her hands.
“Nothing is catching my eye,” Leia said. That meant the shipment hadn’t been put up for sale yet. Leia had tracked down the merchant who’d paid for the First Order tech. The plan was to be wandering by soon after he laid out his wares.
With time to kill, Leia continued to pick up small snacks for Rey as they moved through the booths. Small delicate green puffs, citrusy meat, and things she had no words for. They were all delicious and Rey was torn between having the best moment of her life, and still desperately wanting to be appear unaffected and professional.
A long limbless merchant stopped them and drew them into a booth filled with fabric. “Twi'lek, yes? Merciivii has pretty things for yous,” the merchant hissed.
They were decidedly not Twi’lek, but the clothing Merciivii was motioning towards were generally humanoid shape. A lack of headtails wouldn’t prove an issue. The merchant’s long tail tentacles moved a pretty piece of fabric towards Leia. She smiled, and motioned towards Rey instead.
“Ma’am?” Rey asked.
“It’s more amusing to buy gifts for someone else I think. And who wouldn’t want to buy gifts for you,” Leia said. Her voice had the flippant quality of her persona, but her gaze was warm and mischievous. Rey blushed realizing their aliases might be more than just a Lady and her loyal bodyguard.
The merchant was unphased. They pulled out several more pieces of fabric, moving their long serpentine body around Rey assessing. They clearly meant to dress her, no doubt having little ideas of human etiquette and personal space.
“Here, let me hold your belt,” Leia says. Rey felt a brush against her hip, and before she knew it her saber had disappeared into the long sleeves of Leia’s robe. She almost felt safer with Leia having the weapon.
After moving several fabrics around Rey, and getting Leia’s input, the Merchant settled on a lavender piece. The fabric was softer than anything she’d encountered before, it glided across her skin like oil. It smelled heavenly.
Leia must have caught her breathing in the scent. “It’s made of everlasting flowers, I had a similar one when I was young. The petals can grow larger than bantha. They’re carefully cut and crafted into the shape of a garment. They’re still living however, it’s what gives them such a sweet smell.”
Rey could hardly imagine it. As she reached out to touch the dress though she could feel the soft hum of life in it. “Does it hurt it? Being made into a dress,” Rey clarified, feeling childish as soon as the question slipped out.
Leia’s expression was fond though. “No, it can’t feel pain. I imagine if anything becoming clothing pleases it. The goal of each petal is to travel as far as possible after all, to spread the pollen of it’s mother to as many planets as it may.” Rey could feel the truth in the statement. The fabric seemed to be assessing her, taking in the feelings of all of the different places she’d been. She could feel its contentment when it settled in against her skin.
Rey ended up with the petal dress, two tunics of rich warm material, one cloak, a new pair of sturdy leather boots that she couldn’t bring herself to take off, and a set of colorful hair wraps that she’d let her gaze linger on.
Leia stopped by three more shops, buying her treats and knick knacks as they walked. Service droids zip the orders back to their nondescript ship between shops.
If Leia was purposefully spoiling Rey for the mission, it was working. Everyone of the shopkeepers took it for granted that the Lady was on a stroll buying her favored servant treats.
By the time they made it to the tech shop even Rey had almost forgotten the real purpose of their trip. Leia meandered through the shop with little interest. She left without purchasing anything and Rey was convinced the mission was a failure. But after stopping by a shop further down and buying a light scarf she wandered by again and bought three small control panels. Her lack of interest in them caused the merchant to barely look up as they took her coins, still bargaining with another customer over some metal piping.
On the way back Leia purchased three larger baskets of treats ‘for later’, and two small pots of healthy humming plants that Rey could feel the force buzzing within. She kept them in one arm, not letting the service droid take them when it rolled over.
She waited for the ship to leave the atmosphere before she turned to Leia, “Was the mission successful?”
“I believe so. The data pads won’t win the war, but they’ll help. It was also nice to leave the ship for a bit. Did you enjoy the market?” Leia asked, turning to meet her gaze with an easy smile.
Rey forgot to remain unaffected. “It was amazing! I’ve never seen most of those things. And all of the food was delicious. What will we do with all of the items you purchased?” It would be suspicious if they returned them. She hoped the everlasting flower tunic would be sent somewhere nice.
“They’re were gifts Rey, they’re yours. Though I’m sure Finn will be happy to help you make your way through the baskets of food. When I said you deserve nice things, I meant it. War doesn’t leave much time for being young and enjoying life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be completely without joy.” Leia placed a hand on Rey’s arm, squeezing it gently as she spoke.
Rey realized how close they were sitting together at the control console with their faces turned to face each other. She could practically feel Leia’s breath on her lips. She blushed and looked down at her lap where the plants were safely secured before looking back.
“It hasn’t been without joy. I’ve made so many friends, and gotten to see so many things. And you, well you and Master Luke, both have taught me so much. While there’s been a lot of suffering, I wouldn’t say it’s been without joy,” Rey said.
Leia’s smile was soft as she reached over and placed a hand on Rey’s shoulder. “I’m glad Rey.”
If this was one of the romance discs Finn loved Leia would lean forward and kiss her. But it wasn’t. Leia wouldn’t do anything that would pressure Rey. Unlike Rey, she was the epitome of professional.
Rey reached her hand out to cover Leia’s on her shoulder. There was a heated moment where they both waited to see what she would do.
“I, well if you ever need someone to accompany you on a mission again, I hope you let me come along again,” she said. And then quickly she grasped the General’s hand and kissed it before turning back to the console, face on fire. She had no idea where the action had come from. She was such a nerf-herder.
Before she could drown in her doubt and embarrassment her hand was caught and Leia placed a much more natural seeming kiss on her knuckles. “Nothing would make me happier.”