Passing the Torch.
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars. It belongs to Disney and Lucasfilm. This is a purely fan-made story. It was written just for fun, NOT profit. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Leia, I need tell you something," Chewbacca said to General Leia Organa one day.
"What is it, Chewie?" asked Leia.
"Do you remember when Han's ghost visited us?" Chewie growled inquisitively. Leia nodded. The day she'd been visited by the ghost of her late husband, Han Solo, had been the happiest day she'd experienced in a very long time.
"Well," Chewie continued, "I think it's about time I finally told you the secret that's been eating me up inside over these past few months." The Wookiee inhaled and exhaled sharply before speaking again. "Back on the Starkiller Base, after...Ben had killed Han, I shot at him with my bowcaster. And I actually hit him, in the shoulder." Leia noticed that Chewie had referred to her son by his given name, Ben, rather than his adopted name of Kylo Ren. She gasped when Chewie had finished telling her this news.
"I knew it!" Chewie cried in despair. "You hate me now. And you probably never want to see me again. Well, Leia, I can't say I blame you. Goodbye." Chewie turned to leave.
"Chewie, wait," said Leia. "I don't hate you. I could never hate you. I've known you for far too long to ever hate you. And while I don't approve of the action you took against Ben, I understand why you did it."
"You do?" Chewie growled skeptically.
"Yes," said Leia. "You know the Jedi say it's wrong to take revenge."
"I do know that," Chewie barked in agreement.
"But from what you've told me, what you did seems less like an act of revenge, and more like a retaliatory reflex," said Leia. "Like even though you shot at Ben, you weren't intending to kill him."
"That's right," Chewie conceded. "I wasn't trying to kill Ben. I'd never do that. But when I shot him, it was as if the darkness that's taken hold of Ben took a hold of me, and I just couldn't help myself. It scared me. I never want to experience that feeling again."
"You won't," Leia told Chewie confidently.
"Thank you for understanding, Leia," said Chewie. "But I still have some feelings of guilt. And not just over me shooting Ben, but also over Han having died in the first place. I really wished I could have saved him. In fact, I sometimes think that I should have died on that day instead of Han."
"Chewie, it's normal to have these feelings of guilt," Leia said gently. She comfortingly took one of Chewie's large, hairy paws into bother of her hands. "They'll pass in time. And I know you wish you could have saved Han. But don't you EVER say that you should have died instead of him. Thinking like that won't do anybody any good. The best you, I or anyone else can do to make sure Han didn't die in vain is to live the rest of our lives to the fullest. It's what he would have wanted."
"Did Han ever tell you what I told him the day Ben was born?" asked Chewie.
"No, I don't believe so," said Leia. "What did you tell him?"
"I remember it as if it were yesterday," Chewie growled with a chuckle. "I told him, the Cub of my Cub is my Cub, too."
Leia smiled at this. "Cub" had been Chewbacca's nickname for Han Solo for as long as anyone could remember. Not even Han himself could seem to recall when exactly it was that Chewie had first started calling him "Cub." But the nickname stuck. Even after Han's appearance had changed greatly with age, Chewie still called him "Cub." Perhaps the Wookiee did this because he saw himself as a sort of surrogate father to Han, though he'd never actually admit that.
"You know, the Wookiee Life-Debt extends to more than just the person it was originally bestowed upon," said Chewie. "It can be expanded to include members of that person's family, as well as close friends."
"I know that, Chewie," said Leia. "I became part of the Life-Debt the day I married Han, as did Ben on the day he was born. And if I remember correctly, you also forged a Life-Debt with Luke."
An empty feeling seized hold of Leia's heart when she mentioned her twin brother's name. When Chewbacca had returned with Rey after the girl's training was complete, Luke was not with them. Leia was saddened by this. She really thought that once she'd discovered her brother's whereabouts, he'd come home. And even though Luke didn't come home this time, Leia still had to believe that, eventually, she'd be reunited with her brother.
"All those things are true," said Chewie. "But I've been thinking that it's time to forge Life-Debts with my new friends." Leia smiled. She knew exactly who Chewie was referring to.
In the base's hanger, Poe Dameron was doing repairs on his X-Wing. His ever-faithful droid, BB-8 was by his side. He'd normally be joined by his two friends, Finn and Rey. But today, Finn was attending one of his weekly physical therapy sessions. He'd been doing physical therapy ever since waking from his coma. Everyone was surprised by just how quickly Finn was regaining his strength. With an injury as severe as the one he'd sustained on the Starkiller Base, it was thought that Finn might never walk again. But from the moment he'd regained conciseness, the ex-Stormtrooper was determined to prove everybody wrong. Now, after months of therapy, it was almost as if nothing had ever happened. But Finn's body still held one reminder of his brush with death. A large scar ran vertically down his back. While the damage to his spine had been repaired, the scar would be permanent. But Finn was determined not to let it slow him down.
Rey watched Finn while he worked through his therapy session. She'd been at his side during these sessions ever since returning to the base. Finn always appreciated Rey being there with him. Her kind words of encouragement were most welcome. He was also grateful for the kindness of Dr. Kalonia. She'd taken such great care of him while he'd been in his coma. Now she severed as Finn's primary physical therapist. Finn had grown close to the doctor over the past few months. And as he'd done with Leia, Finn had come to see Dr. Kalonia as a sort of mother figure to him.
"Well, Finn, it looks like you're done for the week," Dr. Kalonia said as she looked at her wrist-chrono. "You did very well today. At the rate you're going, I'd say you'll be able to go back in the field in about another month."
"Thank you, Doctor," Finn replied with a smile. "It makes me happy to hear you say that. Same time next week?"
"Ok," Finn answered. "See you then." Dr. Kalonia left. Finn placed his hand in Rey's, and they exited the med-center together.
"So, what do you want to do now?" asked Finn.
"I'm feeling a bit hungry," said Rey. "I was think we'd get a quick bite to eat at the mess hall. Then I can continue with your language lessons." Recently, Rey had taken to teaching Finn languages such as Shyriiwook (Wookiee) and droid binary.
"Sounds like a plan," said Finn. "Lead on." They were about halfway to the mess hall when Poe Dameron spotted them.
"Hey, there you guys are!" he exclaimed as he ran up to them. "I've been looking everywhere for you."
"Dammit, Dameron!" Rey scolded, though not unkindly. "How many times must I tell you not run up to us, shouting at the top of your lungs?"
"Yeah, sorry about that," Poe apologized sheepishply. "It's just that the General commed me, saying she wanted to see the three of us."
"What for?" asked Finn. "Did she say why?"
"No, she didn't," Poe admitted. "But I guess we'll find out." The three friends made their way down to the command center. Leia was there to greet them.
"You wanted to see us, Le-er, General?" asked Rey. Leia smiled at the girl. Rey often struggled with how to address the older woman.
"Rey, I've told you over and over that it's perfectly fine for you to call me Leia," said Leia. "And that goes for you two as well," she told Finn and Poe.
"Yes, Mam, er, Leia," both young men said in unison.
"Now, I've called you three here for a very special reason," said Leia. "But someone else might be able to explain it better than I could." She motioned behind her, and a familiar figure appeared.
"Chewie!" Rey, Finn and Poe exclaimed at the same time. Chewie growled in a friendly way, and greeted each of the young people in turn with a hug.
"Hello, Little One," Chewie said to Rey. She smiled. "Little One" had become Chewie's nickname for her.
"Hello, Big Deal," Chewie said as he hugged Finn. Rey's Shyriiwook lessons we're paying off. Finn understood the greeting perfectly. He smiled as well, but his smile was a bit sadder than Rey's. It's not that Finn didn't appreciate Chewie calling him "Big Deal." He did. And he understood why the Wookiee called him that. But whenever Chewie used the nickname, Finn couldn't help but think of Han Solo. Han had taken to calling Finn "Big Deal" after Finn had referred to himself as that during their journey. Now, any time someone called him "Big Deal," Finn would silently mourn for Han, the mentor he'd unexpectedly found, then subsequently, unexpectedly lost, much too soon.
When Chewie came to hug Poe, he referred to him simply as "Pilot."
"Now that greetings are out of the way, allow me to explain the real reason you're here," said Chewie. "I trust that the three of you know what a Life-Debt is?" Rey, Poe and Finn nodded that they did.
Chewie had explained the concept of a Life-Debt to Rey during their travels. She then in turn told Finn about it. Poe, having known Chewie the longest of the trio, was the one most familiar with Life-Debts. In fact, Poe had told his friends that a Life-Debt had been the basis for Han Solo and Chewbacca's legendary friendship.
"And now, I pass on the torch of the Life-Debt to you three," said Chewie. "Do you accept?"
"Of course," said Rey.
"Yes," said Finn.
"Even me?" asked Poe. "But why? I wasn't even there to physically witness Captain Solo's death. Remember, I was flying on the outside of the Starkiller Base, trying to destroy it that way. And at first, I had believed General Organa's statement regarding her husband's death-that Captain Solo had died because he couldn't get clear of the explosion in time. In fact, I only learned the true story when Finn told me."
"Why shouldn't I include you in the Life-Debt, Poe?" Chewie asked kindly. "I mean, I've known you since you were a small boy. Plus, after the death of your own father, Kes, you came to see Han as second father, right?"
"That's right," said Poe.
"Also, you knew Ben before he was seduced by the Dark Side," said Chewie. "I seem to recall that you and he were the best of friends as children."
"Yeah," Poe replied, his voice barely above a whisper. He suddenly became uncharacteristically quiet, and looked down at the floor. He didn't say anything, but it was clear that Poe was thinking about his time as a prisoner of the First Order. This was how Poe had met Finn, then known as the Stormtrooper FN-2187, when the two of them had escaped from the Star Destroyer Finalizer. Rey knew the basics of their escape. But she never pressed either of her friends for specifics, fearing that it would bring up some unpleasant memories.
Poe was experiencing one of those memories right now. He remembered encountering Kylo Ren back on Jakku. Prior to Finn and Rey, Poe had once been the only other person in the Resistance, besides Leia, who knew Kylo Ren's real name.
"So, who talks first? You talk first? I talk first?" Those were the first words Poe Dameron had spoken to the man who was once his best friend in a very long time. He'd chosen those words for two reasons. Firstly, it had always been in Poe's nature to crack a joke during tense moments. Secondly, in cracking a joke, Poe thought he'd be able to break through to the masked man before him. Kylo Ren showed no signs of recognizing Poe, but Poe knew who Kylo was. He remembered when the master of the Knights of Ren had been known as Ben Solo, a smiling, happy little boy who would constantly find new pets, and beg his mother to let him keep them. Another joke Poe had made in Kylo Ren's presence was to that he couldn't understand Kylo with all the apparatus, meaning the helmet that he wore. This was Poe's way of saying "I know it's you, Ben. And you look ridiculous."
None of those jokes worked. Poe was taken in as Kylo Ren's prisoner. In a last-ditch effort to get his former friend to recognize him, Poe tried another joke. This one was a jab at the First Order's interrogation techniques. Poe instantly found himself regretting making that joke. Kylo Ren used the Force to delve deep into Poe's mind and extract the information he wanted. This was by far the worst part of Poe's time on the Finalizer. The experience had left him physically drained. But furthermore, it had made Poe feel like a failure. Not only did Poe feel like he'd failed the Resistance by letting vital, sensitive information fall into the First Order's hands, he also felt as if he'd failed as a friend, because he couldn't bring Ben back from the darkness that had consumed him.
"Poe! Poe! Are you ok?" Finn asked, shaking his friend's shoulder.
"Huh?" Poe asked, coming out of his thoughts. "What'd you say?"
"I asked if you were ok," Finn repeated. "You kind of zoned-out there for a while. It made us all worried."
"I did?" Poe asked, trying to keep the shakiness out of his voice.
"Yes," Finn replied. Rey, Leia and Chewie nodded.
"Oh. Sorry for worrying you guys," said Poe. "I don't know what came over me. But I'm fine now. Really."
"You sure?" asked Rey.
"Yes, I'm sure," said Poe. "Now, where were we?"
"I had been explaining to you why I included you in the Life-Debt," Chewie told Poe. "Do you accept?"
"Yes. I do," Poe answered.
"Excellent!" Chewie roared in approval. "You three youngsters have come to mean more to me than words could ever express. Poe, I've known you since you were a boy. When Han and I returned to this base, we both saw how much you've grown up. But there was still no mistaking you. I have truly treasured getting to know you again over these past months.
"So have I, Chewie," said Poe. "Thank you."
"Rey, my little one," Chewie told the girl. "Your kindness has most help me cope with Han's death. The years I spent as his copilot were the best of my very long life. I wouldn't trade them for anything. Flying the Millennium Falcon without the man who had been her captain for so long will never be the same. But Rey, my dear, time and time again, you have proven yourself to be a capable and competent pilot. I'd say the Falcon is in very good hands. I've enjoyed the journeys we've taken together so far. And I look forward to flying with you again very soon."
"Me, too, Chewie," said Rey. "Thank you."
"Finn," Chewie barked, walking up to the ex-Stormtrooper. "Big Deal himself. Let's be honest with ourselves. The relationship between you and I got off to a rocky start, more or less. This was mostly due to you not being able to understand me."
"Hey, I'm learning," Finn protested. "And to be fair, you are the very first Wookiee I've ever known."
"Yes, that's right," said Chewie. "I appreciate that you've taken to learning my language. Over the course of our adventure, you showed yourself to be a strong-willed, headstrong young man. You even cared for me when I got injured, even if I, in your own words, almost killed you six times. I'm not sure if you remember this, but I then returned the favor. On the way back from the Starkiller Base, I watched over you as you fought to survive. I'm happy to see that it was a battle you won fair and square."
It was at that moment that Finn's stomach had chosen to start growling. And quite loudly, at that. Up until then, he had forgotten just how hungry he was.
"I suddenly remembered that before all of this happened, Rey and I had been on our way to the mess hall," said Finn. "Isn't that right, Rey?"
"Yeah," said Rey.
"I'm getting a bit hungry myself," said Poe. "Can I join you guys?"
"Sure, Poe," Finn and Rey said at the same time.
"You can come too, General Organa," said Poe.
"I think I may just have to take you up on that," said Leia. "Would you like to join us, Chewie?"
"You four go on ahead," said Chewie. "I'll catch up with you shortly."
"Alright," said Leia. She turned to leave with Rey, Finn and Poe. Chewie watched his friends go. He smiled. Han Solo may be gone, but the Life-Debt still stood. And Chewie couldn't think of a better, more worthy group of people to continue it with.
1. This is the follow-up to my previous Star Wars fic, One Day.
2. Here's a little back story for Chewie's nicknames for Rey, Finn and Poe. I chose for Chewie to call Rey "Little One" because I thought it sounded cute and affectionate. It made sense to me that Chewie would pick up where Han left off with referring to Finn as "Big Deal." And he only calls Poe "Pilot" because I seriously could not think of a good enough nickname for Chewie to call Poe. But if anyone else has a nickname for Poe, feel free to let me know. It would be most appreciated.
3. The part about Ben Solo once being a smiling, happy little boy finding new pets and begging Leia to let him keep them is a reference to the Disney movie Treasure Planet.