Hm... something about Rey and the ghost of Shmi Skywalker?
Rey is 273 days on Jakku when the woman with the dark eyes and the faint lines around her eyes bends down, and helps her wash the dust and debris from a hyperspace drive port. (Two and a half portions, never let it be said that Rey doesn’t know her worth.) “There,” the woman says, and when she smiles the lines around her eyes carve even deeper. When Rey drags the brush over the drive port, no sand kicks up. “Shiny and new. Go on, now—you can’t let him run out of portions.”
“’m Rey,” Rey says, breathless, clutching the port to her chest.
“Go!” the woman says, and Rey runs. She gets in line just in time to get the last three portions from Unkar. But when tries to find the woman after—
The sand is empty of sentients, and no one seems to know the human woman with dark hair, darker eyes, not even when Rey wanders among the camps and asks for her. Rey is only 273 days, and hungry, and so she eats there, squatted down in the sand outside someone’s tent—scarfing down half-mixed portions because she’s dizzy with starving, and she can’t wait. If the dark-haired woman wanted some, she should have been easier to find.
Rey sleeps that night full—or, at least, what she thinks is full—and dreams of a wattle-and-daub hut, and a woman with dark hair, dark eyes, laughing. The woman’s son sits with sun-bleached hair, his mouth is skewed as he works on a droid to help his mother with the customers that come. Rey helps too, and when he smiles at her, it feels like coming-home.
They are so happy, and Rey wakes crying, even though that is water she cannot afford to lose.
“No, not that one,” the woman says, and Rey drops the part like it burns her hand to touch. She whirls around, and there is the woman with the dark eyes, dark hair. She’s smiling, a little bemusedly, at Rey, at the specific part Rey was trying to extract from the mess of decay and rust.
“What’s wrong with it?” Rey demands. She is six hundred and seven days now, and she thought—
“Navigation systems are fiddly,” the woman says, stepping towards her, and then she is there, close enough for Rey to touch, to—“Biologic growth damages them first, interferes with the electro-magnetic signaling. This has—” she grunts, and the part comes away in her hand. “This has overgrown. It’s not worth installing again, it’ll just send the ship off-course trying to follow all those awful fractals.”
“What good does that do me?” Rey asks, thinking of all the portion she’s lost, if this stranger is right. She’d just wanted—
But the stranger smiles, and her eyes crinkle at the corners. “Come on,” she says, lowering herself to sit on the durasteel floor of the mighty star destroyer. “I’ll show you a trick my unscrupulous master showed me, on how to make it look as though tech has never been damaged.”
Rey spends the whole afternoon with her chin hooked over the woman’s soft shoulder, watching as she shows Rey how to reroute, undo, lay down new electric pathways. She smells like something sharp, the way Rey has always imagined ozone would smell if Rey had ever found the courage to leave the atmosphere. Her eyes are older than her face, that much Rey knows for sure.
“There you go,” the woman finally says, pressing the piece into Rey’s hand. “Good as new. Plutt won’t even be able to tell the difference, so you shouldn’t accept less than five and a quarter portions—”
“What about you?” Rey asks. The woman is warm, and alive, and human, and Rey finds herself hoping she’s her mother. Just to have something, someone. And especially her, with her crinkled eyes, the way she rests a hand against Rey’s cheek like—
“Oh, I’m fine,” the woman says, and Rey’s heart falters. “You will be full, on five and a quarter portions. That’s enough.”
Rey eats alone, eats until she is sick on constituted bread and meat, and she lies in her own bed biting down on her fist to keep herself from crying.
Sometimes, Rey looks out of the corner of her eye, and there she is, the woman with the dark hair and the dark eyes. “Hello, Mother,” Rey begins greeting her at some point, muttered in between breaths as she extracts another part, as she wakes from her midday nap in the shadowy berth of a star destroyer, as she forces herself to stay longer, work harder.
Sometimes, she hears someone murmur, hello, daughter, but she’s not sure. She’s not.
Poor affection-starved Rey, longing for a family, any family, even a ghost. Even the vague shape, even a shadow. Even the hint of a mother, whispering in her ear, droids have always been harbingers of good news, of better things ahead. Strangers may be angels. You are more. Run, go. I will follow you there.
Rey isn’t sure, really, but in the barracks of D’Qar, Rey tosses and turns, until a cool hand comes to rest on her forehead, her neck. Shhh, a voice that is not quite the Force but might be something similar, whispers. It strokes its cool knuckles over the rabbit-pulse of her jugular. Shh, rest. You have a war to fight in the morning.
Luke has holos of his family—Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru Whitesun-Lars. But it’s the holo of their their step-mother, Shmi, that stops Rey in her tracks, stops her breathing at all. Anakin’s mother, Luke says, but Rey is holding onto he lightsaber too tightly to hear.
I know her, she says, and Luke goes still, blinks.
She used to—sing me lullabies, Rey says, because that’s all she can remember just now, the dark-haired-dark-eyed woman—Shmi Skywalker, chosen to be Mother of the Living Force, blessed, holy—humming in Rey’s darkened AT-AT. Shmi singing in Huttese; warm and calloused hands, a rough voice singing of how much she loved, would protect—
Luke catches Rey before she hits her knees, gathers her up to his chest. Shh, Luke murmurs, stroking her hair as Rey sobs. Shhh, it’s all right. Everything will—it’ll turn out right. It’ll be—it’ll be right.
Rey feels a cool touch at her forehead (impossible, Luke’s hands are hot at her waist, and—) and she sobs again, feeling hollow, feeling like she’s come home, somehow, impossibly. It is a war, she shouldn’t feel….
Shh, Luke and his grandmother whisper together, cradling Rey against the bulwark of light they represent. Shh.