Written for my musical prompts series on Tumblr. Most of other prompts in the series are shippy because that's what I asked for, but the person who gave me this prompt also gave me carte blanche to use whatever characters I wanted. When I listened to the song, it's so trippy that this was all I could think of.
The thing was, Rey was terrible at meditation.
"I'm a scavenger, Master Skywalker," she tried to explain. "I'm not good at sitting still. Scavengers live too close to the bone. If you sit still too long, you don't eat."
He looked at her through his shaggy brows. "Right. Yes. Nothing like moisture farming."
Sarcasm was, she felt, entirely uncalled for.
He shook his head. "I know it doesn't come naturally, but not everything about being a Jedi is going to come naturally. That's why you have to work at it."
"Sitting there doing nothing. That's not work."
"You're not doing nothing," he tried to explain, but that was what it looked like to her, the way he would plop down on a convenient bit of rock or patch of floor and not move for hours. "Look. Rey. The Force isn't a battery, all right? You can't just tap into it for power when you need it and ignore it when you don't. You need to spend some time with it. The Force is a living … entity. It's beyond living. It surrounds us and - "
"Flows through us," she muttered. "And - "
" - binds the universe together, don't roll your eyes at me."
She raised her brows at his turned back as he scraped food scraps into the recycler. "The Force told you I was rolling my eyes?"
"The Force had nothing to do with it," he said. "More like years of teaching snarky teenagers."
"I'm not a teenager!" she said indignantly, and paused. "I think. Anyway, please, can't I put off meditation to master later?"
"No," he said. "It's the first thing you have to master, or you're just swinging lightsabers around."
"Worked on Starkiller," she muttered, but subsided at his look.
At their nightly meditation practice, she was so fidgety that he opened his eyes and sighed.
"It's too quiet," she tried to explain.
"That's to eliminate distraction."
"I can't just go away from everything like that," she said.
"You're not going away. It's the opposite. You're opening yourself to everything. You're inviting it in and you're going out to it."
"At the same time?"
He shook his head. "Go check the traps."
She clambered down the path to the traps. She knew it was busy-work at best - they'd already had dinner and unless it seemed like there was a storm coming on, he preferred fresh fish. Well, they both did. Desert children that they were, fish still carried the edge of luxury to it, even if it was four meals out of five.
One lone fish swam placidly around the trap, unaware that it was fated to end up in Rey's belly. She left it to its happy ignorance for a while longer.
She squatted at the edge of the sea, wrapping her legs around her shins and resting her chin on her knees. She let out a little sigh.
She did want to meditate, actually. It looked so good and peaceful when Luke did it, especially when he wasn't trying to drag her along with him. And she could feel it in the Force as he settled into meditation, the bright blob of his powerful presence settling, smoothing, spreading out, the edges feathering into the rest of the world. She envied it, and she envied the calm peace that seemed to hang around him for hours after. She wanted that.
The trouble was - she couldn't.
Silence was too loud for her. Every little hush of wind or scrape of a foot jolted her into guarded awareness, long years of self-preservation kicking in. She felt quite sure that guarded awareness wasn't the best place to meditate from. Awareness, maybe. It was dropping the guard that was the problem.
Her chin itched. She scratched it on the rough fabric stretched over her knees and sighed again.
There was a storm out at sea. The waves were getting choppier. She watched them roll in, break, collapse with a spray of water, then reform themselves, smaller, closer to the shore, and break again on the rocks, spitting fine mist over her where she squatted. She could move, she thought, but didn't. She wanted to look at the ocean some more.
It was something like the desert.
She'd never liked the desert, exactly, but she missed it. She liked green, she liked the water, she liked rainfall. She really liked the sounds of animals who weren't actively trying to kill you.
But there was something so big about the desert. When you looked out over the sand, listened to the wind, you felt small and temporary and as if all your problems and worries were blips to this uncaring vastness. Even a Star Destroyer was rendered tiny and meaningless in the desert.
How strange was it that she'd always found that a kind of comfort?
The only thing she'd ever seen to rival it was the ocean.
She let out her breath a third time. Not quite a sigh. Balanced as she was, on a slippery rock, she should be much more tense than this.
The sound of the waves and the wind wrapped around her.
Up in the temple, Luke opened his eyes and said, "Huh."
"We're meditating where?" Rey asked, scrambling down the rocks after Luke. They were taking a path she hadn't explored very far yet, because it was very badly maintained. The path looked practically coincidental, as if flat stones had just happened to fall in this particular way by some wild probability. A flock of the fat, flightless black-and-white birds native to the island, with their round eyes and sharp beaks, scrawwwwwwed at her before waddling off in high dudgeon.
"Not we, you," Luke said, picking his placid way down the path as if he knew every stone in it personally and might stop to inquire after one's mother in a moment. He hadn't gotten scrawwwwwed at, she noticed grumpily. "And you'll see."
She muttered to herself.
"You're rolling your eyes at me," Luke called over his shoulder. "Stop it. Ah." He paused, took a step forward, and disappeared.
"Master Luke!" she yelped, reaching out for him automatically.
But he was fine, and she realized that what she'd taken for another dip in the crumpled-looking land was in fact a drop into a cave. She stuck her head in and found him waiting, brows raised.
"Is this a test?"
She had to shout it over some kind of intermittent booming noise.
"This is where you'll meditate," Luke shouted back. "Come down here, Rey."
She eyed the path, decided that if she broke her ankle or smashed her knee on the rocks she'd make Luke heal it, and picked her way down.
The noise was astonishing. It was bigger than sound. It seemed to slam into her like something physical. When she peered toward the other light source, she found that the mouth of the cave was half-underwater and the waves rolling in broke on rocky walls and ground. The booming was the sound of their breaking, echoing and re-echoing in the dips and nooks of the cave.
"I thought meditation required silence," she shouted.
He shook his head. "Try this," he shouted back.
A particularly large wave bashed itself to pieces on the cave wall and spattered them both with cold, salty water.
"Is it safe?"
He shrugged. "Safe enough."
"What if the tide comes in, floods this place, and sucks me out to sea?"
He smiled at her. "Just try it."
"Lovely," she muttered, settling herself on the flattest bit of rock she could find. The pervasive damp immediately started soaking her butt. "You're leaving?"
He waved over his shoulder, clambering up and out of the cave again.
"If I die, I'm going to haunt you," she yelled at his back.
How he heard her, she had no idea. How she heard him say, "You'll have to get in line," she didn't know either.
Before she could think of some kind of response to that, he was gone. She huffed out her breath.
How was she supposed to empty her mind with all this noise?
The waves boomed. Water splashed, echoing damply further back in the cave. Some kind of amphibian squeaked, and she watched a bug skitter over the stone. Waves rolled in, booming louder.
So loud - so much -
It filled her head, crowding out her thoughts. She tried to keep her mind clear, but it was taking her over, wrapping around her -
The ocean. The noise. The fish, the bugs, the sky, the birds, the clouds, the heartbeat of the ground beneath her feet, the song of the stars high overhead. She swore she could feel them all, crowding round her, pressing in on her skin. She shook her head, thinking, Go away, I need to find the Force -
She gasped in sudden recognition.
This was the Force. Not some lofty ideal, drifting about in the ether.
This was the power of life itself, breathing, fighting, dying, being born. Blood and entrails, tooth and claw. The high hum of the tiny biting bugs that lived only a day or two, the low mournful song of the great aquatic mammals far out to sea. The motion of the waves, the crack in the seafloor, the ferocity of the magma hitting the seawater, flash-boiling it to the glee of the animals that made their home on the seafloor vents.
She didn't need to seek it out like a hidden treasure. She just needed to see it as it was.
As present as anything had ever been. More. The moments when she had touched the Force, had let it flow through her, had let it wrap around her - that hadn't been some mystical wisp of elusive power. That was the universe itself grabbing her by the head and saying, Listen. Be.
How did Luke live in this all the time?
Her Rey-ness was slipping away, and she grabbed for it before she realized. She couldn't lose herself. She was in it, she was there. The Force was with her and she was with the Force.
Keeping herself apart from it would be the mistake.
She gasped for air. Her face was wet. She didn't know if it was salt-spray or tears.
Some hours later, she picked herself up and climbed out of the cave, moving very, very carefully. Gravity felt optional. She had to focus on putting her feet on the ground, not above it or under it. Her skin felt like a transparent membrane between her and the universe.
She pushed the door of the hut at the top of the hill open, surprised that her hand pressed on it and was able to move it. She could feel the Force humming in the long-dead wood.
Luke was by the fire, cutting something up for the stew pot. He peered up at her as she picked her way across the room. His hands were nasty with fish skin and blood and guts. His presence glowed like a beacon.
"How was the Force?" he asked.
She settled down across from him, folding up her legs. "Sends its regards."