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[A Mountainous Forest Planet – Unknown Reaches – Late Autumn]

Rey couldn’t believe her ears. Her Master was actually considering it, a truce with his nephew. Luke’s eyes were narrowed, his posture as weary as it had been the day she’d met him on Ahch-To.

The boy, the monster, her would-be teacher, was equally tense. His face bore no love for his uncle. This was business. This armistice would not last.

But it was agreed upon. Kylo Ren removed one dark glove, and fleetingly shook his uncle’s hand to seal the promise. It was better to destroy the enemy together. Against that amount of sheer power, there was safety in numbers. The maniac was a menace to both the Resistance and the First Order, to the very fiber of the galaxy.

So their party gained a new member. An enemy of a greater enemy was less of an enemy, for the time being.

It was in that instance, as Luke turned to return to their camp, in the rush of disbelief, that Rey made one of the most foolish mistakes of her young life.

She dropped her un-ignited lightsaber. Luke had told her, sternly, to guard the weapon with her life, and she dropped it, recklessly. The weight of the moment, the astonishment, had caused it to slip through her sweaty, shaking palm. In slow motion, the horror hit her, as it fell to the forest floor.

The dark figure before her could kill them. His word was worth little to her. Despite his family, he had surrendered to darkness. He had killed his father. Nearly killed Finn. He was cruel, despicable, heart less.

Now, foolishly, she was weaponless before him. He could turn at any moment. Despite besting him in battle, and her continuous training with Luke, the villain would know how careless she could be. As a nobody, she still struggled with doubt.

Before she could react, he was in motion. Falling to one knee, he slid his hand and grasped the weapon. She watched him inspect it, turning the hilt with silent curiosity. His eyebrows rose slightly. Seemingly content with the lightsaber’s soundness, he held it, his long, powerful fingers outstretched, for her to take from him.

Now she didn’t believe her eyes.

He would return the weapon without a word? For her, his eyes lacked malice. There was no triumph in her folly. He was not proud of her mistake. The casualness in which he held the weapon made it seem trivial. She might have dropped a handkerchief, a scarf, or, if she owned any, a piece of jewelry. With his hand wide before her, the action seemed ordinary, and the offer appeared honest.

But his haunting eyes were simmering.

They bore into her and almost through her, causing her to lose her train of thought entirely. She could not hold his untamed gaze for long. Focusing on another area of his face, she instead, watched his lips lift ever so slightly. It wasn’t quite a smile. But something told her he was enjoying their interaction. The word honored formed in her mind. He was honored to assist her.

Now he was putting words in her head.

She shuttered and reached to grab the hilt.

As she did, his fingertips brushed hers during the transfer. Her heart fluttered. She froze from the surprising intimacy. She had never touched another force-user’s hand before. Other than Finn, she had never touched a man’s hand before. And Finn was, mostly, still a boy, in attitude and maturity.

To be so masculine in size, Kylo Ren’s fingers were surprisingly warm and soft. They seemed to say something.

Her consciousness formed a solemn warning: Be very careful.

He didn’t have to tell her twice. She would never make the same mistake again.