Even though Rey had been ready to go the moment BB-8 finished the map, Leia insists on giving her several days furlough to rest and recover from what had been, admittedly, a rather stressful period in Rey’s life. Rey’s given clothes (soft, sand-free clothes), a whirlwind tour, and a room and told to stay there and get some rest.
Rey tries. She really does. But the bed is too soft (she’d dreamed of owning a bed, but now that she has one, she isn’t really impressed), the base is a mix of too quiet (no wind) and too noisy (talking, all the talking, why are people always talking?), and she’s worried about Finn. So instead, she seeks out the medical wing and takes up residence in the chair next to Finn’s bed. At least here, the talking is kept to a bare minimum.
She must have dozed off, because when she opens her eyes, she’s covered in a blanket and someone has joined her.
“I’m Poe,” the pilot says cheerfully.
“I remember,” she says, because they’d hugged once and he was only the third person she’d ever hugged. “I’m Rey.”
“I remember,” he teases, grinning at her. “I thought they gave you a room.”
She shrugs. “This is fine.”
He studies her for a minute, then gets up and holds out a hand. “BB-8’s right. Come on.”
“Come on. You need to eat something, and you can’t just sit around here until you leave to find Luke Skywalker.”
She scowls at him, because that was exactly what she’d been planning on doing. “No, thank you,” she says, because she does have manners. “I’m fine.”
“You’ve got to be hungry, Rey.”
She is, but she’s gone without food for longer. “I’m fine.” Poe continues to hold out his hand, grinning at her. It’s awkward enough that she says something she hadn’t planned on. “What if he wakes up?”
His eyes are filled not with pity, but with kindness. “He’s in a medical coma. I promise; he’s not going to wake up.”
She doesn’t take his hand--she knows how to stand up on her own, thank you--but she does follow him out.
In the mess, Rey can’t help but be overwhelmed by the smells of food. Food, it seems, is everywhere and even though she knows nothing is expected of her in return, she still itches to exchange some part, some bit of salvage to earn her keep. But food is everywhere, free for the taking. The colors, the smells, the sheer amount of it makes her feel lightheaded, and she turns to Poe with wide eyes. She wants to leave, but she can’t find the words. Food is everywhere.
“Easy,” he says gently, leading her to an out-of-the-way table in a corner. “Just hang out here, and I’ll get you some of my favorites, okay?”
She nods, and makes herself small, and wishes she hadn’t left Finn.
Poe comes back with two trays and BB-8, who warbles at her cheerfully, clearly excited to see her.
“He’s crazy about you,” Poe says, smiling. “It’s enough to make me a little jealous.”
“I’m sorry,” she says quietly, even though it certainly wasn’t her fault. And even though she’s not quite sorry, because she likes that someone likes her.
“No, no. I’m glad he likes you. He came to get me, you know. ‘Friend-Rey has not eaten. Friend-Rey must eat.’”
She smiles a little at that. “I like him, too. Thanks, BB-8.” Looking at all the food in front of her, she picks up the green thing closest to her and makes a face. It’s the same color as veg-meat, something she’d sworn never to eat again after what Maz fed her on Takodana (...Takodana...).
“Try it,” Poe urges. Even BB-8 whistles a bit of encouragement.
It’s a burst of freshness and coolness in her mouth, crunchy and a little bit sweet, and so green. She tries it with the white sauce Poe points at, and now there’s salt and something deeper she doesn’t even have a name for.
“Cucumber and salad dressing,” Poe says, smiling. “You think that’s good, try the bread.”
Polystarch is supposed to be bread, but it’s a pale imitation to the soft, slightly browned roll in front of her. She butters it like Poe suggests, and in her mouth it’s soft and tastes of hominess and warmth. Bantha meat is salty and nothing at all like veg-meat (which she now knows tastes neither like vegetables or meat) while fruit salad sparkles with sweetness with every bite. Chocolate cake is even sweeter and melts on her tongue. Popcorn crunches and scratches the top of her mouth a bit, not enough to make her stop eating. Milk is thick and rich and soda bursts unpleasantly. Water she’s familiar with, but this is cool and clean and pure. Poe gives her names for everything and keeps reminding her she doesn’t have to finish it all. She doesn’t want to make herself sick and she’s been told, over and over again, that there’s enough of everything for everyone, but wasting--wasting is almost physically painful. So Poe scrapes what she’s left onto his plate and brings it over to one of his pilots.
“Snap’ll eat anything. I swear he’s a bottomless pit,” Poe says. “And what he doesn’t finish, Karé or Jess will.”
“Thanks,” she says. Feeling full and even happy, she gives Poe a real smile.
“Woah! Put that away!”
“That smile! You’re gonna kill someone with that.”
She can’t help it. She grins and sees why BB-8 is so fond of him.
“Now you’ve done it. Between that smile and those eyes, you are going to break hearts,” Poe says dramatically, and she laughs. “We’re doomed.”
He’s easier to talk to after that, which is good, since he seems to have adopted the job of “showing Rey new things.” He introduces her to so many new foods, she’s lost track; takes her up in an X-wing and lets her at its insides; shows her how to use the shower in her room; plays music for her; brings her to sit with a bunch of pilots and drink something nasty, which makes her feel dizzy and makes Leia frown and chastise Poe when Rey asks what it was; reads fairy tales to her; teaches her how to play cards but not how to gamble, at a sharp word from Leia; and plays several movies for her at Finn’s bedside. Rey’s decided she likes him and his easy smile, finding herself looking forward to him showing up next to Finn’s bed and saying, “Rey, I’ve just remembered, you’ve got to try this.” That’s six people she likes now (no, five…) and six people more than she ever expected to.
“Rey! You have got to try this,” Poe says, grabbing her hand and tugging her with him. “Hurry up; I don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
“What is it?”
Rain is almost a myth to her. On Jakku, traders had talked of rain, how water just fell from the sky and people hid from it, not even collecting it, just letting it fall and soak the ground. Even if it hadn’t been a myth, she'd known she would never see it. Now, she stands outside in it and lets the water pour down on her head, laughing and crying all at the same time. The water--so much water--drenches her hair and her clothes and her shoes and she doesn’t care, she doesn’t care that she could’ve lived for a week off the water she could wring out of her clothes.
This much water is like a miracle.
She doesn’t want to go in even when she starts to shiver, but BB-8 and Poe herd her back inside and wrap towels and blankets around her and it’s the most delicious warmth she’s ever felt. Even though Poe tries to pull her back to her room, telling her to take a warm shower and get into dry clothes, she refuses, staring out the opening of the hangar and watching the rain fall down.
She regrets it the next day when she’s cold, so cold her body aches, so cold that she steals every blanket from a cabinet in the medical wing and huddles under them next to Finn’s bed. BB-8 comes in for his morning hello, warbles a concerned, sad little question, and rolls out again at top speed when she can’t bring herself to answer.
“Oh, kriff, Rey, I’m sorry,” Poe says a few minutes--hours? seconds?--later, and suddenly she’s moving, the world spinning around her. “You’ve got a bad fever; the General’s going to kill me.” Rey pushes weakly against his chest, trying to get away--she needs to be with Finn, needs to go out and scavenge so that she can eat, someone’s going to steal her portion. Is she being kidnapped? She’s being kidnapped, someone’s trying to sell her, after everything she’s worked for, where’s her staff?
“Stop fighting me, Rey! It’s Poe, please, stop fighting me!” and then there’s water on her face, on her neck and she’s drowning, she’s drowning, how can she be drowning?
A different voice: “--trying to get your fever down, Rey, it’s okay--” and then a cool, soft hand on her forehead, soothing, calming, like a kindness half-remembered.
“Please don’t leave me; I’ll be good,” she whispers, clutching at the hand.
“I won’t, I promise.”
Something to drink, water and something else, something thick, and then nothing.
And then: “First alcohol and now this?” someone exclaims. “Poe, I thought you knew better.”
“General, I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking--”
“Damn right, you weren’t. Food and vids are one thing; letting her out in the cold rain is entirely different.”
“I’m sorry, General, I just--she’d never seen the rain.”
Rain--she remembers rain--
She remembers. “Han!” she screams, thrashing against hands trying to keep her on the bed. “Finn! Finn!”
“It’s okay, it’s--”
“No! Finn, we have to get Finn to the Falcon, get help--”
“He’s gonna be okay, Rey, honey, just calm down.”
“Han’s dead, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she keeps repeating, unable to keep from sobbing. Someone holds on to her and she’s afraid she’ll float away if she lets go. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry--”
“Get out of my head!” she yells, pushing. “Get out!”
A hiss and again there’s nothing.
She wakes up feeling sweaty and exhausted, like she’d spent all day out in the hot sun without her coverings, climbing around the wrecks. She tries to speak and can’t, throat too scratchy.
“Hey, there you are,” Poe says, gently lifting her head up so she can drink the best water she’s ever tasted. “Welcome back.”
“Where’d I go?” she asks hoarsely, not able to remember much more than flashes.
“You were sick--high fever. Probably from being out in the rain, Rey, I’m so sorry.”
She smiles a little at him. “Didn’t want to come in.” She yawns hugely and can barely stay awake. “Finn?”
“He’s okay. Still out. Rest, Rey.”
Out of all that Poe has shown her, these are the things Rey likes: food, water, vids, music, card games, X-wings, watching rain. Things Rey doesn’t like: high fevers, being out in cold rain, soda, alcohol.
And the things Rey loves? People. Having people who show her new things and infiltrate enemy territory for her and take care of her when she’s sick. Having people.
Food being everywhere, though, that’s a close second.