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neutron star collision (love is forever)

Chapter Text

I was searching
You were on a mission
Then our hearts combined like
A neutron star collision

I have nothing left to lose
You took your time to choose
Then we told each other
With no trace of fear that...

Our love would be forever
And if we die
We die together
And lie, I said never
'Cause our love would be forever
muse - neutron star collision (love is forever)

Rey stared into the jewelry case, letting her eyes drift over all the diamond rings on offer. Her gaze lingered on one in particular, and she pointed down at it through the glass. “Can we see that one?”

“Of course,” the employee helping them said, retrieving the ring from the case and handing it over to Rey.

Rey examined it before putting it on her ring finger and seeing how it rested there. She twisted her hand back and forth to see how the light caught the diamonds from different angles before turning to the person she was there with. “This is a good one.”

Finn stepped up next to her and looked at the ring on her finger. “But is it the right one?”

“Only you can decide that,” Rey said, taking it off her finger and handing it over to him. “Surely you know what Jessika would like more than me.”

“But I don't, which is why I brought you along with me,” Finn said, flipping the ring around in his fingers. “What do you think about it?”

“I think it's gorgeous,” Rey said, smiling. “I'd love to have a ring like that on my finger.”

“Call Kylo and you might someday,” Finn countered.

Rey sighed heavily. “Stop or I'm walking out of here now.”

“I think it's ridiculous that you're not even speaking to him,” Finn said, staring down at the ring. “How many times does Jessika have to tell you he's ready for that dinner you promised him?”

“Jessika is his personal assistant. I don't want to hear it from his personal assistant,” Rey said, crossing her arms over her chest. “Not after nearly two and a half years.”

Finn sighed and set the ring down on the counter. “Pick another one out.”

“Finn, that's the tenth ring we've looked at,” Rey pointed out. “Pluck up some courage and pick one out already.”

“If I may,” the employee said, drawing their attention back to him. “Perhaps this one?”

The man took a different ring out of the case and set it down on the counter. Finn picked it up and looked at it from different angles before handing it over to Rey. “Put it on for me?”

Rey took the ring and slid it onto her ring finger, holding up her hand so Finn could see it. The ring was a floral design, with a central diamond and smaller rows of diamonds twisting out from it. Finn reached out and twisted her hand in different directions before breaking out into a grin.

“So, what do you think?” the man asked, and Finn gently took the ring off of Rey's hand and nodded.

“I think I'll take it,” Finn said, and Rey sighed with relief.

“Finally.”

Finn just laughed. “I want it to be perfect.”

“It will be,” Rey said, smiling at him. “And she will say yes.”

“I hope so.”

“Don't hope. Know so.”

Finn took a deep breath. “Alright. She's going to say yes.”

Rey pulled him into a hug. “I'm so happy for you, Finn.”

“Call Kylo,” Finn said softly. “I want you to be as happy as I am.”

Rey pulled back. “Go pay for your ring.”

Finn just rolled his eyes and walked towards where the man had gone with the ring. Rey pulled out her phone and brought up a text, quickly typing out a message.

Jess, if he wants to go to dinner, he's going to have to ask me himself.

A few moments later, she got a response.

He wants to, he's just afraid. He's trying to work through it.

Rey took a deep breath.

Well, until he does, I'm not going to agree to anything, no matter how many times he tries to get you to ask me on his behalf.

She could hear Finn chatting away happily with the salesman and it brought a smile to her face.

Rey, I totally understand. But I'm going to continue to pass along the message because it's my job.

Rey wanted to laugh.

I get it, Jess. I really do.

Finn approached her from behind so Rey slid her phone back into her pocket. “Ready to go?”

“Yes,” Finn said, grinning. “I've got to go hide this before Jessika gets home.”

“Jessika is in New York,” Rey pointed out.

“Yeah, yeah, I know, Kylo's new round of interviews,” Finn said, shaking his head as they walked out of the door. “What made him decide to split the second book into three books anyway?”

“Pressure from the publishing company to get more out there, I think,” Rey said as they approached Finn's car. “From what Luke told me, the book always had three parts anyway, so splitting it wasn't really a problem.”

They got into the car and Finn handed the small bag over to Rey. “Don't lose this.”

Rey laughed and took the bag. “I won't, I promise.”

Finn started the car and pulled out of the parking lot. “Jess told me that he still talks about you like you're his girlfriend.”

“That was an agreement we made,” Rey said. “And you know all about it.”

“Yeah, but that was two and a half years ago when the press attention on him right after the performance with First Order was at its height,” Finn said. “This is different. You two haven't spoken in four months.”

“It got too intense,” Rey murmured, looking out the window. “We both knew it was best to step away before we ruined things before we even started them again.”

“You're really not ready to have dinner with him, aren't you?”

Rey just nodded. “No, I'm not.”

The ride fell silent for a few moments until they stopped at a red light. “I'm sorry for trying to push you,” Finn said. “I just want you to be happy.”

“I'm going to be, I think,” Rey said, turning to look at him with a smile on her face. “But there's a lot that you don't know or understand, and I'm just not ready yet.”

“Okay,” Finn said. “I'll back off.”

“Thank you.”

“Where do you think I should hide the ring?”

They chatted back and forth about where to hide the ring on the rest of the way back to the house, and when they arrived, there was a delivery truck parked in front, a man standing at the door.

“Let me handle this,” Finn said. “Stay in the car.”

Rey nodded and Finn got out of the car, walking over to the man at the door. They conversed for a moment before Finn signed for the delivery and the man headed back to his truck. Once the truck was gone, Finn waved for Rey to get out of the car while he unlocked the door.

When they were both inside and the door was locked, Finn handed over a long box. “Switch you.”

Rey gave him the small bag and took the box to the kitchen counter, carefully opening it and gasping when she saw what was inside. She pulled out the bouquet of tulips, bringing them up to her face to smell them. Tulips were her favorite flower, and she knew without guessing who they were from. She searched for the instructions and put them into a vase with water before reading the card that had been sent with them.

I know it's not tulip season there, but these came straight from the Netherlands where it's almost always tulip season. I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you.

Kylo's name was just printed on the card, but she didn't need his signature. Just his name was enough.

“So he sent you tulips,” Finn said as he walked into the room.

“Yes,” Rey said, large smile on her face. “It's a nice first step, I think.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Chapter Text

Star Wars: A New Hope was really only a third of a book that Kylo had wanted to write, but considering how long it was taking him to write anything, and how long the first third of the book had been getting, he'd agreed to split the second book up. His grandfather had been a major influence in that decision, telling him that it was perfectly alright to change his plan if the work dictated it, which it clearly was doing. If Kylo was perfectly honest with himself, the thing that annoyed him the most about it was that he had to think of at least two new titles, because titles were the most difficult part.

But the first part had been published and he'd been around the country over the course of the last two weeks promoting the book and doing signings, so he was relieved when it came time to do a small signing at Tatooine Books, the small bookstore in Manhattan, Kansas that had been his refuge since he was a child. Kalonia, the woman who owned the store, had been so pleased with the signing he did for the first book that he'd planned on doing signings there for each subsequent book, and the idea had brought a huge smile to her face.

Today though, she was the one bringing a smile to his face.

“I finally found your books,” Kalonia said the moment Kylo walked into the store. “The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, mint condition, first editions. However I do not have enough money to actually purchase them for you. Those things are expensive as holy hell.”

“How much?” Kylo asked, walking over to the counter where Kalonia stood.

The Hobbit is going to cost you eighty-six thousand and The Lord of the Rings is going to cost you one hundred and twenty-three thousand,” Kalonia said. “They're both autographed by Tolkien himself.”

Kylo grinned. “I knew you'd find exactly what I wanted.”

“I cannot believe that you're going to pay that much money for books!” Kalonia exclaimed. “And they're not even old manuscripts! But whatever you want to do, child. I can get them for you, but I need the money first.”

Kylo nodded and pulled his wallet out of his pocket, flipping through it until he found his black label credit card. “Here Kalonia, charge it to this.”

Kalonia stared at him incredulously. “You honestly expect me to believe that a charge of two hundred and nine thousand dollars will go through on that?”

“Yes,” Kylo said, smiling at her as he placed the card in her hand. “If nothing else, just try it.”

“Oh alright,” Kalonia said, using her computer to ring up a purchase and then sliding the credit card through. After a moment, the charge came back approved and her eyes widened as the receipts started to print out. “Dear lord, child, do you not even have a credit limit?”

“Oh, I do,” Kylo said, taking the receipt to sign from Kalonia and reaching for a pen. “I think it's five million dollars. It might be ten.”

Kalonia just shook her head. “Child, you have changed so, so much.”

“I know I have,” Kylo said, putting his card back in his wallet. “Now, where am I doing this signing?”

Kalonia led him over to the table she'd set up and then opened the door, a swarm of people entering the shop. Jessika was right by Kylo's side, helping to remind the people to have the book open to where they wanted him to sign it and that they could have one photograph taken, all things put in to ensure the line moved faster and more people got their autograph. Snap was on his other side, making sure that no one got too touchy-feely with him or did anything else that would be a problem. Unlike other places around the country, Kylo stayed until the last person in line had gotten their book signed, and then he leaned back in his chair and ran his hands over his face.

“Is that it?”

“That's it,” Snap said, putting a hand on Kylo's shoulder. “There's a minimal amount of people in here at the moment. This would be an optimal time to leave.”

Kylo nodded and stood up, seeking out Kalonia to give her a hug. “Call me when you get those books in.”

“I will, child, don't you worry,” Kalonia said. “Rey will love them.”

Kylo smiled. “I hope so.”

Kylo, Jessika, and Snap all left the store and headed outside where it had begun to snow.

“So, anyone up for dinner? It's on me,” Kylo said as they climbed into his brand new car.

He could have gone for something flashy to let everyone know exactly how rich he was. Instead he'd bought a black sedan, and the only things he'd cared about was that it was four-door, had a CD player, and had satellite radio. His father had helped him pick it out.

Han had been proud of him that day, Kylo thought. He was still working through when those moments were and when they weren't, but he was pretty sure that was one of them.

“Sorry, boss, but I've got finals to study for,” Jessika said, leaning back in her seat. “I've just got to pass these tests and then I'm officially done with college.”

“So you're graduating in January?” Kylo asked.

“Yup,” Jessika said. “I'm sure my parents will be looking for me to move on to what they call a 'real job' but I have no plans of quitting, so you don't have to worry about that.”

“That wasn't a concern,” Kylo said, looking over at her. “What are you graduating with?”

“A Masters in Social Work. I always imagined myself working with the foster care system, and maybe someday I will, but right now I'm so burned out on the whole process that I want nothing to do with it.”

“Understandable,” Snap said from the driver's seat. “My parents wanted me to go to K-State so I could be a vet like they were. Well, I'm a vet alright, just a completely different kind of vet. I worked at the veterinary clinic with them when I was in high school and I just wanted nothing to do with it.”

“I suppose I'm the only one who wanted to do their subject and nothing more then,” Kylo laughed. “It was always medieval literature and nothing else for me. At least not until Snoke came around and brainwashed me.”

Jessika rolled her eyes. “He didn't brainwash you.”

“I know,” Kylo said. “But it makes me feel better if I tell myself that. So you're not up for dinner. What about you, Snap?”

“Sorry, Kylo, but I promised my parents I'd come over tonight.”

Kylo nodded. “Yeah, I guess it is getting to be that time of the year when all the family gathers together. I suppose I should see what that means for my own family.”

“Where would you like to go, Kylo?” Snap asked.

“Back to the house,” Kylo said. “Then you two can go your separate ways.”

Kylo had bought a house near his grandparents about six months previous, and though he enjoyed the quiet that he'd never quite gotten in the apartment building, he felt lonely and in a way more isolated than ever. The rest of the ride to the house was silent, and then everyone got out of the car and said their goodbyes for the night. Kylo got into the driver's seat once Snap and Jessika had left and drove the short distance to his grandparents's house, smiling when he saw the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree in the window as he pulled up in front of the house.

It wasn't long after he rang the doorbell that Padmé was ushering him inside and putting a mug of hot cocoa into his hands. They sat down on the sofa in the room with the tree and Kylo sipped from his mug while Padmé regaled him with stories of how decorating it went. Eventually she stopped talking and looked directly at Kylo.

“What is it?”

Kylo sighed heavily. “I don't know how to put it into words.”

“Well, give it a try,” Padmé said. “You know I'm here to listen.”

“Where's Grandpa?”

“Downstairs writing. He'll be down there all night. No need to worry about him coming up here, if that's on your mind.”

“It's silly, really.”

“Nothing is silly, Kylo.”

Kylo sighed heavily. “Do you think I could stay here with you and Grandpa until the holidays are over? The house is great and everything but...”

“But it's big and empty and you feel alone and isolated.”

Kylo turned to Padmé and smiled. “You know me so well.”

“Well of course I do,” Padmé said. “And of course you can. The house is plenty big enough to fit everyone.”

“Everyone?”

“Well yes,” Padmé said. “Your grandfather got it in his head that we should do it up right this year, hence the gigantic tree with huge decorations. Your great-grandmother is coming from the nursing home, and my parents are coming, as are my sister and her two daughters. We were invited to spend Christmas with the Organas, but Anakin just invited them here, so they're coming. And Luke's bringing Rey, of course.”

“Of course.”

“It will do you two good to see each other,” Padmé said. “Things go downhill for you both when you are not seeing each other.”

“If you say so, Grandma.”

“I do say so,” Padmé said, tucking herself up along Kylo's side. “Shall we put on some Christmas music?”

“So long as it's not that godawful Christmas album First Order put out last year.”

Padmé laughed as she stood up. “Oh no, darling. I burnt that.”

“Good.”

Chapter Text

Christmas music was playing softly in the background, the classic kind, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney and Dean Martin, not the newer stuff that usually played on the radio. Everyone was dressed to the nines, including Rey, who was wearing the dress that Leia and Padmé had helped her pick out to wear to Jakku in a time that felt like a million years ago. Across the room, Kylo was talking to Bail Organa about something, probably his book, because Professor Organa was always interested in space, whether that be the astronomy he taught or the fantasy world that Kylo had created. The fact that Professor Organa was here made Rey nervous, because if Bail was here it meant that his wife Breha was probably also here, and Breha Organa was a woman that Rey never wanted to end up on the wrong side of.

Breha Organa was the president of Kansas State University, and Rey had become more and more certain over the course of the last two years that what she really wanted to do when she was done with her Masters degree was to teach at the university. She knew that Luke would put in a good word for her, as would Jocasta Nu, her professor for a couple of her English courses, but still. She needed to make a good impression on her if she was ever to achieve her goal.

Leia approached her and linked her arm with Rey's. “How are you feeling darling?”

“I'm a little terrified, to be honest,” Rey said, giving Leia as much of a smile as she could muster. “Breha Organa is here.”

“Trust me when I say that nothing you do here will affect your application for employment,” Leia said. “Besides, you're a ways a way from being ready to apply.”

“Not that far away,” Rey said, taking a deep breath to calm her down. “I've only got a semester left.”

“And we couldn't be prouder of that,” Leia said, a grin on her face. “Kylo, I know, is especially excited for you. He remembers the time when he was facing what you are now. The anticipation, the excitement, the trepidation. We all understand, darling.”

“Kylo didn't have to worry about impressing Breha Organa,” Rey muttered.

“You think Breha is not already impressed by you?” Leia said, shaking her head. “All the media attention on you because of Kylo, and you've still maintained an exceptional grade point average, which I'd like to point out is higher than Kylo's was, and you've done a great job filling for Luke as his teacher's assistant when he needs you to teach his class, and trust me, Jocasta Nu has told Breha how special you are.”

Rey took a shuddering breath. “You think?”

“I know,” came a different voice, and Rey looked up to see Breha Organa standing there, smiling at her. “It is nice to finally come face to face with you, Rey. I have heard so many wonderful things about you.”

Rey watched as Breha extended her hand and tentatively reached out one of her own to shake it. “It's wonderful to meet you as well, President Organa.”

Breha laughed. “I am not President Organa tonight. Please, call me Breha.”

Rey nodded shakily. “Alright, Breha.”

“She's terrified,” Leia said, making Breha smile even more.

“I can tell,” Breha said, putting a hand on Rey's shoulder. “Do not be scared, Rey. Once you have your degree, officially apply for the job. As far as I am concerned, it is already yours. The head of the English department, Thame Cerulian, agrees with me. Luke and Jocasta have been putting in words for you for many years. Thame and I have known your value for a long time.”

Rey swallowed hard. “Thank you, Breha. That, that means a lot to me.”

“You're welcome. Now if you will excuse me, I need to find my husband,” Breha said, smiling at them both before walking away.

Leia pulled Rey into a hug and squeezed a little harder than usual. “See? Nothing to worry about.”

“I cannot believe that just happened,” Rey said, leaning into Leia. “She just...she just made my dreams come true.”

“No, you made your dreams come true,” Leia said. “You did all the hard work to make giving you the job an easy decision.”

“Ladies,” came Han's voice. “May I interest you in some eggnog?”

Leia pulled away from the hug and took one of the crystal reindeer glasses that Han was holding. “Thank you, Han. That sounds wonderful.”

“I'm here to warn you,” Han said as he handed the other to Rey. “Kylo is going to come talk to you in approximately five minutes.”

Rey took the glass and brought it to her lips, drinking from it. “Is there alcohol in this?”

“Bourbon, brandy, and rum,” Han said. “A Shmi Skywalker recipe.”

“Great,” Rey said, draining the rest of the glass. “I'm going to go get another.”

She walked away before anyone could say anything else to her and headed to the table that had been set up with refreshments. She poured herself another glass of eggnog and drank it, and was in the middle of filling her glass again when she felt someone come up beside her.

“You know there's alcohol in that, right?” Kylo asked.

“That's kind of what I'm going for at the moment,” Rey said, taking a deep breath. “Breha Organa just basically told me that when I graduate, the job I want at the university is mine.”

Kylo turned his head and smiled at her. “Ah, yes. Breha has a way of making you feel absolutely terrified and completely surprised and happy at the same time. She did the same thing to me once upon a time.”

Rey laughed slightly. “Why am I not surprised?”

“I think it's part of her shtick,” Kylo said, smiling softly. “Can we go somewhere so we can talk alone?”

“As long as you don't say outside?”

“It's like a blizzard out there,” Kylo said. “I'm not that much of an idiot.”

Rey nodded. “Just so long as you know that.”

Kylo just shook his head and took Rey by the hand, leading her out of the room and through the hallways until they arrived at a door. He opened the door and flipped a switch, illuminating a staircase. “Down here.”

Rey nodded and hiked up her dress, carefully making her way down the steps. At the bottom, she was immediately met by Jar Jar, Padmé and Anakin's dog, jumping up on her legs. “Well, hello, Jar Jar.”

“Jar Jar, get down!” Kylo said firmly and Jar Jar dropped back to the floor, barking at them instead. Kylo bent down and scratched him behind the ears. “Go lay down, buddy.”

Jar Jar immediately went over to his bed and laid down, and Kylo led Rey into the small furnished office space that existed in the otherwise unfurnished basement.

“This is where Grandpa writes,” Kylo explained, sitting down on the sofa and motioning for Rey to join him. “I thought it would be a nice place to talk.”

Rey sat down and looked around at the antique-looking desk and the rich, mahogany bookshelves that were stuffed with all kinds of books. The sofa they were sitting on was cream and overstuffed, so it was comfortable and a nice place to sit in contrast with the office chair at the desk. “I imagine he's gotten a lot of writing done here.”

“Almost all of it,” Kylo said, reaching up to undo his bow tie. “I love my grandparents but I do not understand why we have to have a party that's so fancy every time my grandfather gets it in his head that the whole family needs to spend Christmas together.”

Rey kicked off her shoes and tucked her legs underneath her. “I know what you mean. I feel like an idiot in this dress.”

Kylo looked over at her. “You look beautiful in that dress. You really do.”

“Thank you,” Rey said softly. “I still feel like an idiot though.”

Kylo laughed. “At least you don't feel like an penguin.”

Rey chuckled. “True. Very true.”

They fell silent for a moment before Kylo took a deep breath. “Rey, the last time we were dressed up like this, we had a conversation beforehand in which you promised me a dinner date.”

“That we did.”

“I was wondering if it was time for us to have that dinner date.”

Rey turned to look at him. “Do you think it is?”

“I wouldn't be asking if I didn't,” Kylo said. “So what I want to know is if you think it is.”

Rey thought about it for a moment before taking a deep breath. “If we do this, I have some conditions.”

“Of course.”

“First, no kissing on the first date.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously. I want to do this right this time.”

“Okay. What's next?”

“Two, we don't dress up as fancy as this.”

“So Jakku is out.”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

“Three, I don't want to go to a restaurant owned by someone we know. The only way we can keep this silent is if we go somewhere else.”

“So you want to keep it quiet?”

“At first, yes. I don't want to be bombarded with all of this from the family and our friends right when we're trying to figure things out.”

“Good point. Okay, so we keep it quiet and we go somewhere else. Um, somewhere else. Let me think about that for a moment.”

“Okay,” Rey said, settling back against the sofa and smiling when Jar Jar came trotting into the room. “Come here, Jar Jar.”

Jar Jar jumped up onto the sofa and into Rey's lap, licking her on the face. “You're such a silly dog,” Rey said, rubbing behind his ears. “But we wouldn't have you any other way now would we?” Jar Jar let out a noise that Rey took as his acquiescence and she smiled. “Well, of course not.”

“Corellia,” Kylo said, turning to look at Rey. “We could go to Corellia.”

“Corellia is owned by Wedge Antilles,” Rey said. “And he is one of Luke's good friends.”

“I know,” Kylo said. “But if anyone in the family is going to find out about us having dinner, the best one to find out is Luke because he will keep it quiet until we speak up about it.”

“Hm,” Rey said, pondering that. “You make a very good point.”

“I want to take you somewhere nice,” Kylo said. “Corellia is nice but not Jakku nice, it's small so there won't be a lot of people there, and it's not a place that anyone in the family frequents, not even Luke.”

Rey nodded. “Alright, Corellia it is. When?”

“Week after New Year's? Like the seventh?”

Rey smiled. “That sounds wonderful.”

Kylo stared at her for a moment. “You're beautiful, Rey. The most beautiful woman I've ever seen.”

“You don't have to lie to me.”

“I'm not,” Kylo murmured.

They stared at each other for several moments before the door at the top of the stairs opened and Anakin's voice called down. “Kylo? Are you down here? Your great-grandmother would like to talk to you and I can't find you anywhere.”

“I'll be right up, Grandpa!” Kylo yelled, standing up. “I suppose it's time to go back to the party.”

“I suppose so,” Rey said, standing up. “Let me do up your tie.”

“Rey.”

“It'll just take a moment,” Rey said, taking the ends and quickly retying the bow tie. “There, now you look like the most handsome man on the planet.”

“Is that so?”

“Yup,” Rey said, turning her attention to her shoes. “You go first. I'll go in a few minutes.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

They stared at each other for a moment before Kylo smiled. “I'm really looking forward to dinner.”

“Me too.”

“I've got to go.”

“Yes,” Rey said, stepping aside so Kylo could move. “I'll see you in a bit.”

“You should come say hello to Grandma Shmi. I know she'd love to see you.”

“I will,” Rey said. “Now go.”

“Alright.”

Chapter Text

There were entirely too many Christmas parties, Kylo thought. He loved his family and his friends, he really did, but there were entirely too many Christmas parties. The one at his grandparents' had been on the fifteenth and fancy as hell. Then Poe had held one for everyone at Resistance on the seventeenth, followed by one at Starfighter on the eighteenth, and since Kylo was part-owner of both of them, he'd had to go to both.

Now it was the twenty-first and he was at his parents' house for yet another Christmas party. His parents had a wide group of friends, some of whom had flown in for the holidays and were going to end up spending Christmas at his grandparents' with everyone. These large family and friends Christmases tended to happen about every four to five years, and while Kylo never understood what it was that made his grandparents want all these people at their house, it was nice to see people that he usually never got to.

At the party he was at that night, Kylo had already run into Greer Sonnel and Korrie Sella, his mother's assistant and intern respectively, and was able to give them their requested autographed copies of A New Hope as their Christmas presents. BB-8 and his wife were mingling around the room, and Kylo was trying his hardest not to run into them. Not that he didn't want to meet Mrs. Brownstone, but he just really wanted to forget that the Brownstones and his parents were friends. He trusted BB-8 and knew that he was telling the truth when he said nothing that was ever said in their sessions was discussed with his parents, but still, the situation was just weird for him.

His father's friend Lando Calrissian was there, and Kylo was thrilled when he learned that Lando had officially retired from the Air Force and was moving back to Manhattan from California. He'd always loved spending time with Lando when he was growing up, and he couldn't wait to spend time with him now. Lando had been enthusiastic about his writing when first told of it, according to Han, so Kylo was really looking forward to sitting down and talking to him about it. Another of Han and Lando's fellow squadron pilots was in town for a couple of days on his way to Florida, and Kylo was pleased to meet Lieutenant Joph Seastriker for the first time. He'd heard a lot about Seastriker for years, but had never had a chance to meet him. They'd had a great conversation about flying planes and missions that Seastriker had been on as well as Kylo's books because Seastriker was a fan. Kylo ended up autographing copies of both released ones for him before Seastriker left for the night.

Luke showed up halfway through the party, complaining about how he should never give essay finals to freshman because they don't know how to write, and Rey arrived a few minutes after him. Kylo walked over to the entry when she came through the door, taking her coat and smiling at her.

“It's good to see you.”

“We've been seeing each other a lot this past week,” Rey pointed out.

“It's still good to see you,” Kylo said. “Besides, I think things are better when we're seeing each other.”

Rey smiled at that. “I think you might be right.”

“I'll go put your coat in the room where we're stashing them. There's spiked eggnog in the kitchen and snacks and cookies and stuff on the table in the breakfast nook.”

“Grandma Shmi's recipe?”

Kylo smiled. “Of course.”

“I really need to get that from her,” Rey said. “Or maybe I should just ask your mom.”

“I'll make sure she writes it down for you,” Kylo said. “I'll meet you in the kitchen in a minute?”

“Okay.”

Kylo made his way to the guest room and carefully set Rey's coat down on the bed before making his way to the kitchen. Rey was halfway through a glass of eggnog, and she had a small plate of assorted goodies in front of her.

“You know, Mom told me you helped make the fudge.”

Rey started before laughing. “How is it that I know you're coming into the room and yet you still scare me?”

“I have no idea,” Kylo said, making his way over to her and stealing a cookie off her plate. “Anyway, the fudge is really good.”

“That is my grandmother's recipe,” Rey said, smiling at him. “I told Leia that I had it and she said we should try it, and it turned out really well.”

“I look forward to eating it at Christmases for years to come,” Kylo said, reaching for a glass and pouring himself some eggnog.

“You said it's spiked.”

“I can have a little spiked eggnog,” Kylo said, taking a sip. “I just don't have very much, and I don't go seeking out the bottles of alcohol used to spike it.”

“You sure about that?”

“Yep,” Kylo said. “Talked to BB-8 about it and everything.”

“Speaking of BB-8, I saw he was here.”

“Well, he is friends with my parents.”

“How weird is that?”

“On a scale of one to ten? Six thousand.”

Rey laughed. “I can't imagine.”

“Boy, you better not be drinking all that eggnog,” came Maz's voice, and both Kylo and Rey turned to look at her.

“I'm not, Maz,” Kylo said. “First glass, I swear.”

“Good,” Maz said, holding out her glass. “Pour me some more? Chewie's in there talking to Han and all his pilot buddies about flying and I was getting so bored I nearly fell asleep standing up.”

Rey chuckled as Kylo took Maz's glass and refilled it. “You should go talk to Luke, Maz. He nearly fell asleep grading essay finals earlier. I finally made him stop and come to the party.”

“Good idea, Rey,” Maz said, taking her glass back from Kylo. “Boy, you're still playing Christmas carols at the Cantina with Luke on Christmas Eve?”

“That is the current plan,” Kylo said.

“Good,” Maz said. “Now I'm going to go find your playing partner and talk some music with him.”

“Alright, Maz. Talk to you later.”

“See you, Maz,” Rey said, turning to Kylo once she left the room. “You're playing Christmas carols at the Cantina on Christmas Eve?”

“Me and Luke,” Kylo said, taking a sip of his eggnog. “It'll be nice, I think.”

“Well, I know where I'll be on Christmas Eve then,” Rey said. “I had to find somewhere else to be anyway.”

Kylo's brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”

“Promise you won't say a thing?”

“Promise.”

“Finn's proposing to Jess on Christmas Eve.”

Kylo grinned. “That's great! They're so happy together.”

“I know. He's so worried she's going to say no.”

“Is he that much of an idiot?” Kylo asked, laughing when Rey gently smacked him on the arm. “I'm kidding. I'd be nervous as hell before proposing to you too.”

“Stop talking about that right now,” Rey said. “We are talking about Finn and Jessika, not us.”

“Right,” Kylo said. “Sorry, shouldn't have said that.”

They fell into an awkward silence. They just stood there, drinking eggnog and eating treats off of Rey's plate until Rey finally broke the silence.

“I'd say yes. So you don't have to like worry about that or anything.”

Kylo looked over at Rey and she looked over at him. “You don't have to tell me that. We both agreed that we'd start over.”

“Yeah, but we can't ever really completely start over,” Rey said. “There's always going to be the fact that you're in love with me and I'm in love with a part of you.”

“Even after all this time?” Kylo asked quickly before turning his head away. “Sorry, shouldn't have asked that.”

Rey reached out and turned his face back towards hers. “Yes, even after all this time. It's something I've argued with BB-8 about. I thought I should be able to get over you, and he guided me through all the reasons I can't. And there's a lot of them, Kylo, but the main one is that you're the one for me, and I've known it since I was seventeen-years-old. That was almost ten years ago. You don't love someone that long and just forget about it.”

“So we love each other,” Kylo said, taking a deep breath. “And I still can't kiss you on the first date.”

“Nope,” Rey said, a teasing smile crossing her face. “Got to make you earn that.”

“You're ridiculous.”

“But you wouldn't have me any other way,” Rey said softly.

“No,” Kylo murmured. “I wouldn't.”

They stood there staring at each other for a moment before Kylo broke their gaze. “Come upstairs with me for a moment? I want to give you your real present.”

“My real present?”

Kylo sighed. “I don't want to have the argument in front of everyone that's going to be at my grandparents'.”

“Kylo, what did you do?”

“Come upstairs and find out.”

Rey grabbed her glass and her plate and followed Kylo up the stairs and into his childhood bedroom, which was still decorated the way he'd had it the day he'd moved out and into the dorms at Kansas State. Rey looked around with a chuckle while Kylo pulled a wrapped box out from underneath the bed.

“Come sit down,” Kylo said, placing the box on the bed.

Rey set her stuff down on the nightstand and reached for the box, shaking her head. “I don't even know what it is and I already know it's too much.”

“Just open it,” Kylo murmured.

“Fine,” Rey said, sliding her fingers underneath a fold of the paper and tearing it open. Once the paper was out of the way, she carefully opened the box and peered inside. “Books?”

“Keep looking.”

She pulled out the first book and noted that it was The Hobbit. “Kylo, I already have this. You know that.”

“That is a mint condition first edition signed by Tolkien himself,” Kylo said. “Keep looking.”

The next three books that she pulled out made up The Lord of the Rings, and Rey looked up at Kylo in disbelief. “Let me guess, also mint condition first editions signed by Tolkien?”

“You have guessed correctly,” Kylo said, taking a deep breath. “Do you like them?”

Rey looked at the books in her lap with amazement. “I love them, I just...what on earth possessed you to get these for me?”

“I know they're your favorite books,” Kylo said seriously. “I thought it would be nice for you to have collector's editions to go along with your well-worn copies.”

Rey looked over at him. “How much?”

“I am not answering that question.”

“Kylo, how much?”

“Rey, I'm serious. I'm not telling you.”

“I will not accept this gift if you don't tell me how much.”

Kylo groaned. “Why can't you just accept a nice Christmas gift?”

“Kylo.”

“Over two hundred thousand.”

“Fucking hell,” Rey said, carefully putting them back in the box. “I cannot accept these.”

“Rey.”

“Kylo, books should not be worth that much.”

“Yeah, well, I paid nearly fifty thousand for my mint condition first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone that's signed by JK Rowling,” Kylo said. “If you want mint condition first editions you have to be ready to pay for them. If they're autographed, then you have to be ready to pay even more. I just wanted to give you books, Rey. I didn't care what I had to pay for them. And it took Kalonia over three years to find those for me. You can't just give them back to me.”

Rey took several deep breaths before taking the box and putting it in her lap. “Thank you for the gift. It's not that I don't want the books, the books are amazing, it's just that...”

“It's the money,” Kylo said. “This is one of our obstacles. But we can overcome this, Rey. I know we can.”

Rey nodded. “Once I have my job at the university and I've got a substantially larger paycheck than I've got now, I think that will help. I won't be able to spend two hundred thousand dollars on four books, but I'll be able to pay for things that right now only you can pay for. Like the payment on a new car. First thing I'm doing.”

“Finally ditching the piece of junk, huh?”

“So long as it lasts me another semester, I'll be good. So the junk heap better last another semester.”

“I'd offer to help you get the new car now, but I know that's not what you want.”

Rey nodded. “Exactly not what I want. Also, we're going Dutch at Corellia.”

Kylo shook his head. “We are not splitting the check at Corellia. I get to pay for date nights.”

“That was our rule then. This is our rule now.”

Kylo sighed heavily. “Fine. We'll go Dutch at Corellia. But that is not an arrangement that is going to last long.”

“We'll see,” Rey said, standing up. “Can I keep these here for the moment? I don't want anyone to question what's in the box and have to explain.”

“Sure,” Kylo said, taking the box from her and setting it on his old desk. “Now let's get out of here before this room gives me a panic attack.”

“That bad, huh?”

“That bad.”

Rey picked up her glass and her plate. “Alright then, let's go listen to some Christmas music and see if Lando is drunk enough to do that silly dance he does to Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”

Kylo laughed. “That sounds like a great idea.”

Chapter Text

Rey arrived at Padmé and Anakin's at about ten on Christmas Day, and she could tell that everyone else was already there.

Well, almost everyone else. She did not like the news that she had to bring, and she did not like the man who was making her bring it very much at the moment either.

Padmé walked into the entry way and smiled at her. “Rey, wonderful that you could make it.”

“I'm sorry I'm a little late,” Rey started, but Padmé just shook her head.

“No one is late on Christmas, my dear,” she said, reaching out to take her coat from her. “Now, where is my son? He said he was coming with you.”

“When I called Luke to make sure he was ready this morning, he informed me that he wasn't coming,” Rey said as apologetically as she could. “He tried to tell me he had too many final exams to grade but I know that that's bullshit. I couldn't get the real reason out of him. I'm sorry, Padmé. I did my best.”

Padmé sighed heavily. “He's thinking of Mara again, no doubt. I'll give him a call here in a few minutes. In the meantime, let's get you inside with everyone. Is this your bag?”

Rey nodded and picked up the bag she'd brought with her. “It's the presents I bought for everyone,” she said. “I should go put them underneath the tree.”

“Kylo is in there doing the same thing with Shmi's presents for everyone at the moment,” Padmé said. “Go and join him, dear. Then there are snacks and drinks in the kitchen. I'll put your coat with the others.”

“Thank you, Padmé,” Rey said, turning into the room with the Christmas tree. She smiled when she saw Kylo on his knees in front of the tree, Shmi Skywalker in her wheelchair behind him, directing him where to place the presents.

“Merry Christmas,” Rey said as she walked into the room.

“Merry Christmas,” Shmi said, grinning at her. “It's so good to see you, dear. It's been so long.”

Confusion wrote across Rey's face, but Kylo just shook his head at her, a sign not to say anything. Rey dropped to her knees next to him and leaned close. “Why does she think I haven't seen her in a long time? We just saw each other the other day.”

“She's suffering from dementia now,” Kylo said quietly. “Her memory is jumbled. She doesn't remember things very well anymore. Grandpa is very affected by it, because there are lots of times when she doesn't remember him. We don't really talk about it, so that's why you didn't know.”

Rey nodded and reached into her bag, pulling out a present and setting it underneath the tree. “Poor Anakin. I can't imagine how that must feel.”

“Put that one on the right, Ani dear,” Shmi said.

Kylo dutifully put the present in his hands to the right before turning back to Rey. “She thinks I'm my grandfather when he was my age. That's why my grandfather is downstairs in his office instead of up here with everyone else. As for the happy family Christmas he wanted to have, well, that's not going so well,” he said. “I feel sorry for them both.”

“Ani, find your father's present,” Shmi said. “That one needs to go in the middle.”

Kylo glanced over at Rey before taking a deep breath. “I don't have a father, Mama. Remember? He left before I was born. You've never told me anything about him.”

“Oh, that's right, darling. I'm so sorry. Find little Lukas's present and put it in the middle then.”

Rey leaned over to Kylo. “I thought his name was just Luke.”

“It is. Like I said, her memory's jumbled,” Kylo murmured, digging through the bags till he found one with Luke's name on it. “Alright, Mama, here it is, right in the middle.”

“Good job, Ani. I need to go check on the turkey. You keep putting those presents out.”

“Okay, Mama,” Kylo said, watching as she rolled herself out of the room. He took another deep breath and looked over at Rey. “And that's why my grandfather is in the basement office instead of in the living room with the other guests.”

“He's down there alone?” Rey asked.

“My father, my other grandfather Ruwee, Lando, and Bail are down there with him. I suppose Luke's down there now too.”

“Luke isn't here,” Rey said, sighing. “I called him to make sure he was ready for me to pick him up and he used some bullshit excuse about needing to grade exams to keep from coming. Padmé thinks he's dwelling on Mara and was going to call him when I came in here.”

“Well, this Christmas is just turning out great so far,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “Honestly, I don't know why we bother with such a spectacle anymore. Just let everyone do their own thing and come over for dinner.”

“Says the man who has been living here for nearly a month because his house is too empty,” Rey pointed out. “You like having everyone around.”

“My mind gets the better of me when I don't have other people around. I'd advertise for a roommate but that's probably a bad idea.”

“I'm going to have to find a new place to live,” Rey said as she worked on setting out more presents. “My Christmas gift to Finn and Jessika was my half of the house. That way they have a place to start out their new life together once they get married.”

“So she said yes then?”

“Of course she said yes,” Rey laughed. “I'd be dealing with a heartbroken Finn right now if she hadn't.”

“True,” Kylo said. “Well, if you want somewhere to like store your stuff or something, there's plenty of room at my house to do so.”

Rey smiled. “That's a really nice offer, Kylo. I might take you up on that. I certainly have more stuff now than will ever fit into an apartment.”

“Well, whenever you want to move stuff in, just let me know. I'll make sure I'm around to help.”

Rey set the last of her presents under the tree and leaned back so she was sitting on her feet. “Kylo?”

“Yeah?”

“I know I said no kissing on the first date, but if a couple of meddling women happen to bundle the two of us underneath some mistletoe, a soft, simple kiss would be alright.”

Kylo laughed. “You know I hadn't even thought of that. Of course they're going to get us underneath the mistletoe. Alright, soft, simple kiss it is.”

“And then no kissing until I say otherwise.”

“And then no kissing until you say otherwise.”

Rey smiled. “I think BB-8 would be proud of us, taking it slowly like this.”

“I think he would too,” Kylo said, setting the last of Shmi's presents out. “Now, shall we go get some snacks and see what my grandmother has found out about Luke?”

“I think that sounds wonderful,” Rey said, letting Kylo help her up. “Wait, are you actually wearing an ugly Christmas sweater?”

“We didn't have an ugly Christmas sweater party this year,” Kylo laughed. “I felt it necessary to wear one at some point.”

Rey laughed and pulled Kylo into a hug. “And that's one of the reasons why I love you. Merry Christmas, Kylo.”

“I love you too. Merry Christmas, Rey.”

“Now come on, let's go see if we have to go drag Luke out of his apartment.”

Chapter Text

Rey's Christmas present to Kylo was a set of high quality writing pens and a few blank journals. “You can use them to get your thoughts out,” she'd explained, “whether they be thoughts about your books or about the day. I thought it would be a useful gift.”

Kylo had grinned and thanked her.

Kylo's non-argument inducing Christmas gift to Rey was jewelry. A set consisting of two pairs of earrings, a necklace, three pendants, two bracelets, and a brooch, all of them in diamonds and green stones that Rey guessed were emeralds, her birthstone. Of course Kylo would think that this would be the non-argument inducing gift. “How much?” she asked as soon as she finished staring at the contents of the box.

“You know, you don't get to ask me that for every present I give you.”

“How much?”

Kylo sighed. “Significantly less than the books, and that's all you're getting out of me.”

Rey merely shook her head and set the gift to the side so she could open another one.

When all the presents had finished being unwrapped, Luke finally showed up. His eyes were red around the edges, and Rey immediately knew something was wrong beyond him just dwelling upon Mara. She took him by the hand and pulled him into the main level office, closing the door behind them. “What's wrong?”

“I got an email last night,” Luke got out, tears starting to fall again. “It was from Mara's mother. She thought I might like to know that Mara had been suffering from stage four breast cancer and that her fight ended on the 23rd. She's gone, Rey. She's gone and she's really not coming back.”

Rey's heart broke at Luke's words and she pulled him into a tight hug, feeling her shoulder dampen from his tears. They stayed that way for a long time until Padmé gently knocked on the door and came in. “Rey, dear, why don't you go help Kylo keep Anakin from escaping downstairs again? I'll stay here with my son.”

Rey nodded and they switched places before she slipped out of the room and quietly shut the door behind her. She found Kylo in the kitchen with Anakin, and she could tell that the situation she was walking into was just as difficult as the situation she'd just left. “Did everyone enjoy their presents?”

Kylo looked over at Rey with some relief. “What's going on with Luke?”

“Yes, I'd like to hear what's happening with my son,” Anakin said, making Rey sigh.

“Mara died on the 23rd from stage four breast cancer. Luke got an email from her mother.”

Anakin closed his eyes and said a silent prayer while Kylo wrapped a hand around Rey's wrist and pulled her closer to him. “Luke's a wreck, right?”

“Pretty much,” Rey said. “Padmé's in there with him now.”

“Good,” Anakin said, opening his eyes. “Everyone needs comfort from their mother in times of grief.”

“Grandpa,” Kylo said. “You know that I didn't do anything to provo—”

“I am well aware that you didn't provoke your great-grandmother, Kylo,” Anakin said, taking a deep breath. “It's just very hard to be in the same room as your mother when your mother thinks you are someone else.”

At that moment, Jobal Naberrie, Padmé's mother, came into the kitchen, smiling at Anakin. “Anakin, darling, I must say I am very impressed by the fudge this year. A big improvement over last time's.”

“For that we have to thank Rey, Mom,” Anakin said, smiling at her. “It's her grandmother's recipe.”

Jobal turned to Rey and smiled. “I'd like to meet this grandmother of yours. She clearly knows her way around a kitchen.”

Rey nodded. “So I was told. Unfortunately she died before I was born.”

“I'm sorry to hear that,” Jobal said, turning back to Anakin. “And I'm sorry to hear about Shmi, Anakin. I went through Alzheimer's with my father, and it was terrible. If you ever need anyone to lean on, darling, know that Ruwee and I are here for you and Padmé.”

“Thank you, Mom,” Anakin said, smiling sadly. “I'm afraid that the dementia's only hiding the worst of it. She doesn't have long left. Just a feeling I have. That's why it was so important to spend this Christmas together, all of us as a family. It might be our last chance.”

“It's been good to see everyone,” Jobal said. “But I do feel like there has been a lot of heartbreak for one holiday. Padmé just told us about poor Mara. Luke must be devastated.”

“He is,” Rey said softly. “I could hardly get him to stop crying, and Luke never cries.”

Kylo squeezed Rey's hand. “If you'll excuse us, Grandma, Grandpa, I need to get away from all the people for a bit and I'm taking Rey with me.”

“Ah, escaping everyone for a bit sounds lovely,” Anakin said.

“You already did that all morning,” Kylo said. “It's your turn to stay up here and socialize.”

“Oh alright,” Anakin said. “I should probably go help Padmé with Luke anyway. Or maybe round up Leia. She'll know what to do. She always does.”

“Sounds good, Grandpa. I'll see you later, Grandma,” Kylo said, pulling Rey away from them and towards the door to the basement. They headed down the small staircase and into the furnished office space, where Jar Jar immediately jumped into Kylo's lap and settled his head on Kylo's shoulder.

“You'd think that dog loves you or something,” Rey said with a slight laughing tone.

“Yeah, he's not completely useless, are you, Jar Jar?” Kylo said, scratching underneath his chin, laughing when Jar Jar gave out a pleasant whine. “Go lay down, buddy.”

Jar Jar groaned when Kylo stopped scratching him, but he jumped down and trotted over to his bed, lying down just as Kylo had asked.

“I forgot how well he took directions,” Rey said, turning around on the sofa so she was facing Kylo. “If we ever get a dog, I want one that's as well trained as Jar Jar is.”

“You want us to have a dog?”

“Yeah,” Rey said, smiling. “I think one would be great to have around the house. Make it feel less empty.”

“House?”

Rey just rolled her eyes. “As though you didn't buy that house near here with the intention of us living in it together some day. I know how your brain works, Kylo Ren. Especially now that you have all that money. Speaking of which, my other Christmas present.”

“I'm still not telling you how much the jewelry cost,” Kylo said, situating himself so he was facing her. “I just wanted you to have something nice. To be totally honest, that was bought long before Kalonia told me she found the books. I just figured I'd give you the books at Christmas too.”

“They're emeralds, right?”

“Yes.”

“To wear with my fancy dress.”

“Well, that is one piece of clothing you can wear them with, but yes,” Kylo said. “You won't have to borrow my mother's emeralds for dinner at Jakku anymore.”

“We're not going to be going to Jakku often,” Rey stressed. “Or, you know, at all.”

“About that,” Kylo said, looking down at his hands. “I wasn't sure what you would think of the idea because we hadn't discussed our dinner date yet so I accepted this invitation thinking I could always take Luke with me if you said no, but Old Ben Kenobi invited me and a guest to dine with him and his wife, Duchess Satine of Mandalore, at Jakku on the fifteenth. They'll be back from Austria by then.”

“Old Ben is married?” Rey asked incredulously. “Why don't I know that?”

“He's a very private person,” Kylo said. “Besides, I think they only actually got married a couple of years ago. Some whole thing about her title and inheritance or something like that. Anyway, what do you say? You can totally say no to me. I'll take Luke if I'll be able to drag him out of the apartment now that he's consumed by grief over Mara.”

Rey sat there for a moment before nodding slightly. “I have always wanted to meet Obi-Wan Kenobi ever since you told me he lived here in Manhattan.”

“Just remember to call him Old Ben.”

“Oh, I will, don't worry,” Rey said, sighing. “The people at Jakku are going to think I'm nuts, always wearing the same dress there.”

“Then go shopping with my mother and grandmother again and pick out a new one, one that compliments your new jewelry even better than the one you have,” Kylo said. “My treat.”

Rey stared at Kylo for a moment before shaking her head. “Another excuse to spend money on me.”

“Not an excuse, a reason,” Kylo said. “You don't have to. You can wear the dress you have. I'm just trying to propose a solution to a problem that you just presented yourself. Also, you're going to be needing new dresses soon for the red carpets for the film's premieres.”

“And how many of those are you dragging me to?”

“We previously agreed that you would go to the Los Angeles, New York, and London premieres. Would you like to amend that list? Because we can.”

Rey shook her head. “No, that's fine. And this is all happening after the semester, correct?”

“Yes. In August.”

Rey sighed. “Leia and Padmé were very helpful last time. Maybe I can get Jessika to go with us too. And Connix. Make it a real girls' day out.”

“I think that sounds like a wonderful idea. And all of it will be my treat,” Kylo said, smiling.

Rey laughed. “Just for that, we're going to Wichita.”

“I'll have a private plane waiting.”

“It's a two hour drive.”

“And it will be a much faster plane ride.”

Rey closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. “Alright.”

Kylo smiled widely. “Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“I'll make all the arrangements then,” Kylo said. “I will let you know on date night.”

“Okay,” Rey said, and for once there wasn't that hard knot in her chest whenever she agreed to let Kylo spend money on her. Maybe it was because she knew that it was necessary for the film premieres, maybe it was because she was going to meet Obi-Wan Kenobi, maybe it was because she was just getting used to it.

She really hoped it wasn't the last one.

Chapter Text

On the morning of the twenty-seventh, the extended Skywalker family gathered together at Sunset Cemetery to honor the memory of Mara Jade and see her be laid to rest. Rey and Leia attached themselves to Luke's sides to keep him together, and Kylo kept close to Rey's other side. The night before, the family had gathered at Han and Leia's to share memories of Mara, and Rey had learned all sorts of things that she'd never known.

Mara was Luke's high school sweetheart from the age of fifteen, meaning they'd been together for twenty-nine years before she'd left him. Anakin had given Luke several talks about putting a ring on Mara's finger, but Luke had never felt the time was right. Kylo had adored his Auntie Mara, who had been around for the first seventeen years of his life, and was devastated when she left, almost as much as Luke had been. Padmé had thought of her as another daughter, Leia had thought of her as the sister she never had.

Luke had been silent throughout the entire meal, and he was silent throughout the entire ceremony in the cemetery too.

When it was over, Poe and Connix walked over with a couple that Rey took a moment to realize was Poe's parents, Kes and Shara Dameron. Shara went immediately to Luke and wrapped him up in a big hug, while Kes started shaking hands of the men gathered round. Poe and Connix came over to her and Kylo, and Connix took one look at Kylo before pulling him into a hug.

“I'm sorry for your loss, Kylo,” Connix said softly, and Kylo's arms tightened around her.

“Thanks Connix,” Kylo sniffled as he pulled back, Rey's arm slipping back around his waist. “Poe.”

“Kylo,” Poe said. “I'm sorry. Mara was a wonderful woman.”

“I didn't know you knew her,” Kylo said, leaning further into Rey's embrace.

“Mom and Mara were best friends,” Poe said. “Didn't see much of her over the last twenty years because she left town, but I saw a lot of her before that.”

“Does Luke know that?”

“Of course,” Poe said, looking over at where his mother was still hugging Luke. “They've supported each other a lot since Mara left town. She didn't just leave Luke, she left her friends too.”

Kylo nodded and sniffled again, turning himself into Rey and burying his face in Rey's neck. Rey ran a soothing hand down Kylo's back. She knew without them speaking about it that Kylo was imagining himself in Mara's place, the one who had run away and never come home, the one who would never reconcile with the ones they loved, the ones who loved them. The one who would die far too young. Poe gave Rey a concerned look, and she mouthed 'I'll tell you later' at him. He nodded and put a hand on Kylo's shoulder as he and Connix walked away.

“Kylo,” Rey said softly. “You're not her.”

Kylo pulled back just enough to see Rey's face. “How did yo—”

“I know you better than anyone, remember?” Rey said, brushing hair out of his eyes. “She made her choice to stay away. You made the choice to come home. You're not her.”

“I could have been.”

“But you're not.”

“Kylo? Rey?” came Leia's voice. “We're all going to the Damerons' for a reception. Do you know where that is?”

“I do,” Rey said. “We'll meet you there.”

Leia nodded and Rey turned her attention back to Kylo. “I understand this is incredibly difficult for you. I know what it's like to bury someone who was family. But don't compare yourself to her, Kylo. Yes, you both left. But you came home. She chose not to.”

Kylo nodded and they slowly made their way to Kylo's car, Rey snatching the keys from his hand and pushing him towards the passenger's side of the car. “You are in no shape to be driving. Besides, I know where it is we're going and you don't.”

Kylo got into the car without a word and the ride to the Damerons' home was going silently until Kylo finally said what was really on his mind. “She understood me. Probably the only member of the family that ever did. She was, uh, she was pretty messed up before she met Luke. Almost to the point I was. So she totally got my mindset. When I was in inpatient, she would come visit and we'd just talk about anything, everything. It was so much easier to talk to her than it was to anyone else. And then she just up and left that day and I...”

“You thought you'd never meet anyone who understood you again,” Rey finished, looking over at him at a stoplight. “Oh Kylo, I'm so sorry.”

“I always hoped that she'd come home one day, that I'd be able to tell her all about you and how wonderful you are and what I'd become, but she never did. And now I'll never be able to tell her.”

Rey reached over and squeezed one of Kylo's hands before she had to start driving again. “BB-8 has me do this exercise where I write letters to the dead. To my mother, my father, my grandparents, my friend Alyssa from London that I lost touch with when we moved here who is essentially dead to me. Anyway, I write these letters, and you don't put everything into a letter, just whatever you feel like telling them at the time, and then you fold it up and put it in an envelope, and then you put it into the fireplace and burn it. And by burning it, you're not only sending the message to them, you're also letting go of it yourself. Maybe you should try something like that with your feelings towards Mara.”

Kylo just shook his head. “Has anyone ever told you you're a genius?”

“BB-8's the genius, not me. It's his exercise. I just find it therapeutic.”

Kylo let out a brief smile, the first Rey had seen him give all day. “I'll think about it.”

“That's better than a no,” Rey said, reaching out to squeeze Kylo's hand again. “I know the last few days have been hard, but soon it'll be the new year, and we have two dates lined up in the space of a few weeks.”

A genuine smile crossed Kylo's face. “You're right, we do. Also, I talked to Mama about it, and she thinks the best time for you all to go to Wichita is before you go back to school, so I've tentatively penciled in the fourth for that.”

“I'll ask Poe for the day off then,” Rey said, smiling. “You give Jessika the day off, and I'll ask Connix about it. I might even end up with a new dress to wear for our first date.”

“You buy whatever it is you want to buy. Stuff for you, for the girls, whatever. My mother has full authorization to pay for everything.”

“That offer is so, so tempting,” Rey said, sighing. “I still don't think it's right.”

“You either let me spend it on you or it sits in a bank account,” Kylo said with a shrug. “I'd rather be spending it on you. Especially since the number just keeps growing.”

Rey drummed her fingers against the steering wheel. “I'll think about it.”

“That's better than a no,” Kylo echoed, making Rey playfully slap at him at another stoplight. “What? It is!”

“Well, at least I know how to get you out of a down mood,” Rey said. “Just start talking about spending your money.”

Kylo got serious again. “Rey.”

“I'm joking.”

“You better be.”

“Seriously, I'm joking.”

Kylo leaned back in his seat and sighed heavily. “Auntie Mara would have really loved you, I think.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. She would have thought you were perfect for me.”

“Well, it's a good thing we think the same, isn't it?”

Kylo turned to look at Rey as the light changed. “Yeah, it is.”

Chapter Text

Leia, Padmé, Jessika, Connix, and Rey were on board the private plane that Kylo had arranged for them when Rey's phone indicated she had received a message. She clicked through her phone to bring up the message, and upon reading it, she leaned back in her seat and sighed heavily.

“Great.”

The conversation came to a halt and everyone looked at her, Leia being the first to speak. “Is something wrong with Kylo?”

“No, not Kylo,” Rey said, looking up at her. “Luke has taken off for Dagobah. He doesn't know when he's coming back, and he's left me in charge of his classes. How I'm supposed to teach his classes and attend mine at the same time, I don't know, but I guess I'm going to have to figure that out.”

“Luke,” Padmé murmured, sighing heavily. “I know that he's devastated over Mara, but this is so out of character for him.”

Rey's phone beeped again and she looked down. “Apparently he's seeking out Yoda and a holy man called Agolerga.”

“I'm not sure that letting Luke go off to Dagobah for college was a good idea. He trusts all these strange people with his deepest thoughts and he won't even talk to his own family,” Padmé said. “But that is a decision that has long since been made. I just hope this Yoda and Agolerga can help him and he comes home soon.”

“Ladies, the plane will be landing in approximately five minutes,” came the voice of the pilot.

The women gathered their stuff together and prepared for landing. Upon landing, they disembarked the plane to find a limousine waiting for them. Jessika and Connix let out a happy yelp, while Leia and Padmé just looked over at Rey.

“Did you know about this?” Padmé asked.

“Of course not,” Rey said, shaking her head. “But once I said he could spend money on me, of course he was going to go all over the top on us.”

“He just wants to treat you the way that he thinks you deserve,” Leia said, following Padmé towards the limousine. “Sometimes, you've just got to let your man spoil you.”

Rey just shook her head and got into the limousine with everyone else. The ride to the store they were going to was short, and when they arrived, Rey stood in front of it and thought it was closed. When Leia came up next to her, she gave her a confused look. “It's closed?”

“To the public,” Leia said, smiling. “We are not the public today.”

Rey sighed heavily. “He got them to close the store just for us?”

“As you said at the airport, you knew he was going to go over the top,” Leia said, linking arms with with Rey and walking towards the door. “Come on now, this will be fun.”

“We'll see about that,” Rey murmured, making Leia gently elbow her in the side.

“As your future mother-in-law, allow me to say this,” Leia said. “My son takes after his father in many ways. One of those ways is being able to spoil the woman they're in love with. When Han and I were first dating, the things he would do, I thought them preposterous. He'd spend so much of his meager cadet salary on me, and it didn't feel right. Even when he started to move up the ranks and his salary would increase, he'd still take a large portion of it and use it to spoil me. I've had to ask my parents for money to help us out with bills more times than I'd like to count.

“My point to all of this is that my son, prior to the band, was always concerned with how he could spoil you with his salary from the university. And he did his best, trust me. We loaned him a lot of money over those four years because he has that same instinct as Han does. He has the money to spoil you now, darling. And nothing you say will stop that instinct to do so. I know it's hard to get used to, but trust me, trying to get them to change is harder than accepting the gifts that they give you.”

Before Rey could respond, the doors to the store opened and a woman walked out. “Mrs. Solo?”

“Right here,” Leia said, raising up her hand.

“Welcome to Coruscant,” the woman said. “My name is Carise Sindian and I will be helping you today. Please, come in.”

“Enjoy this,” Leia said softly to Rey before leading her through the door.

Rey walked into the store and realized that it was a high end store that she would have never ever set foot in. The rest of the women walked further into the store, but Rey pulled out her phone and called Kylo. As soon as he picked up, Rey started talking. “A private plane. A limousine. And now a high end store that I never would have ever walked in to that you convinced them to close to the public. What the fucking hell, Kylo?”

“Mama told me how anxious you were trying on dresses in front of everyone else in the store the last time, so I made sure that no one but your friends were there to witness it. We already discussed the private plane, and a limousine just made sense because it would easily fit all five of you into it,” Kylo said. “So I don't understand the problem.”

“That's it. You never understand the problem. Ever.”

“Then tell me what the problem is,” Kylo pleaded. “All I ever hear is that there's a problem. I never hear what the actual problem is.”

Rey stood there for a moment before turning her back to everyone and lowering her voice. “I don't deserve all this. Any of it. I'm just a simple girl, Kylo. I don't deserve fancy dresses and fancy dinners and fancy jewelry. I just don't.”

“Oh Rey,” Kylo said, sighing. “Rey, you have no idea how special you are, do you? You're everything to me. You know how Luke is over Mara? I'd be ten times worse if I ever lost you forever. I fucked everything up once, and I am so, so, so, so, so lucky to have you back. You deserve everything in the world, sweetheart. This is more than just wanting to give you expensive things. I want to give you everything you never had when you were a child. A house that's ours, no rent required. Food on the table that you don't have to carefully budget for. Clothes that aren't threadbare. The rest? That's just extra. That's just to spoil you the way you deserve to be. That's just to remind you how special you are.”

By the time Kylo was done talking, Rey had tears in her eyes. “You really feel that way?” she barely got out.

“I always have,” Kylo said. “Even in the days when I was Ben. Ask my mother to tell you some stories. I'm sure she'd be glad to embarrass me.”

“I might just do that,” Rey said, reaching up with her free hand to wipe away her tears. “Thank you.”

“You're welcome. Now, go enjoy the day.”

“I will,” Rey said, smiling. “Talk to you tonight."

“Can't wait,” Kylo said. “Bye.”

Rey hung up the phone and turned around to find Padmé standing a couple of feet behind her.

“Is everything alright, dear?”

Rey wiped away the last of her tears before nodding. “Yeah, I think they are. I think I finally understand why Kylo's doing all of this for me.”

Padmé walked forward and wrapped Rey up in a big hug. “Oh that Kylo, he is so much like his father. Took Leia awhile to get used to Han, it was always going to take awhile for you to get used to Kylo too.”

Rey laughed. “Still not sure I'm used to it. I think I just understand it.”

“Well, understanding it is a start,” Padmé said. “Now come on. Carise has champagne for us before we start picking out things to try on.”

Chapter Text

Finn opened the door when Kylo arrived at the house, and for once, he didn't say anything nasty to him. “Kylo. Come on in.”

“Finn,” Kylo said as he walked through the door. “Congratulations on the engagement.”

Finn beamed. “Thank you. I'm lucky to have her.”

“You're lucky to have each other,” Kylo said, coughing slightly. “Where is my date?”

“She's upstairs with Jess. I believe they're putting the finishing touches on her hair,” Finn said, taking a deep breath. “I'm not going to lecture you about not hurting her, because I think you already know all of that. So all I'm going to say is to take care of her. She's still fragile, whether she wants to admit it or not.”

“I think we both are,” Kylo admitted. “Yet somehow whenever I'm around her I feel like my skin is made of steel and can't be shattered.”

Finn smiled. “She said something similar about being around you.”

“What are you telling him about me now?” came Rey's voice, and Kylo turned to see Rey coming down the stairs. She was wearing a gorgeous dark green dress that fell at the knee and had long sleeves, some of the jewelry Kylo had given her for Christmas adorning her. “You better not be yelling at him.”

“I'm not yelling at him,” Finn said, rolling his eyes. “I promised I wouldn't. We were just having a conversation about Jess.”

Rey gave Finn a look that clearly said she didn't believe a word of that before turning to Kylo and smiling. “Hi.”

“Hello. You look beautiful.”

Rey reached up and touched the tricky updo that Jessika had clearly put her hair up in. “I feel like this is going to come apart at any moment.”

“The more you touch it, the more likely that is,” Jessika said, coming over to her and pulling Rey's hands away from it. “So stop touching it.”

Rey took a deep breath and nodded, and Jessika handed over a matching clutch and helped her into a cream woolen coat. Once she was all bundled up, she turned to Kylo and smiled. “I'm ready when you are.”

“Then I suggest we go,” Kylo said, offering his arm to Rey.

She slipped her hand through his elbow and they made their way out of the house, Rey smacking him lightly on the arm when she saw what was in the driveway. “What happened to the nice, sensible sedan?”

“It's great,” Kylo said, leading Rey around to the passenger's side of the white Jaguar. “But for special occasions, you just need something different.”

Kylo helped Rey into the car and closed the door, and by the time he climbed into the driver's side, Rey was still shaking her head. “What?”

“You're an extravagant son of a bitch, you know that?”

Kylo just grinned. “Don't talk about my Mama like that.”

Rey reached over and smacked him again. “You idiot.”

Kylo laughed as he started the car and backed out of the driveway, and then he started in the direction of Corellia, which was on the other side of town. “You really do look beautiful tonight.”

“Well, I'd hope you like it because you paid for all of it,” Rey said, taking a deep breath. “But thank you.”

“It's got nothing to do with the fact that I paid for it,” Kylo said. “It's got everything to do with the fact that it's on you. You could be wearing upholstery from a sofa from 1975 and I'd still think you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.”

“Now you're really being ridiculous.”

“I'm serious.”

“Kylo. Upholstery from 1975? We are talking about the same orange, green, and brown mix of disgustingness that I'm picturing here, right?”

“Yup.”

“And you'd find me beautiful in that?”

“Yup.”

Rey laughed. “If I didn't know you were so quirky, I'd say you've lost your mind.”

“Only you know how quirky I am,” Kylo said, looking over at her as they stopped at a light. “I trust you with the depths of my quirkiness.”

Rey laughed again. “Are we seriously having this conversation right now?”

Kylo smiled. “I suppose we are.”

“You are such a dork.”

“Your dork.”

“Yes, my dork,” Rey said with a laughing tone.

The light turned green and Kylo started driving again. “Are you looking forward to dinner?”

“Yes,” Rey said, letting her tone become more serious. “I've only ever been to Corellia a handful of times, and those were with Luke.”

“I've never taken you to Corellia?” Kylo asked.

“Nope,” Rey said, shaking her head. “It's about the only restaurant in town that existed back then that we've never been to.”

“Then it's a great place to start again at,” Kylo said, glancing over at her.

“Yeah,” Rey said, “it is.”

They settled into idle chat for the rest of the drive, and as soon as they were parked, Kylo was out of the car and around to the other side before Rey could open the door. After he helped her out of the car and made sure it was locked, they walked hand in hand into Corellia, where they were met in the lobby by a wide-eyed teenage girl.

“Um, um, um, welcome to, um, oh my god, welcome to Corellia, Kylo Ren, dammit, shouldn't have said your name, sorry, can I try this again?”

Kylo chuckled and nodded. “Sure thing.”

The girl took a couple of deep breaths. “Welcome to Corellia. My name is Syal Antilles. Do you have a reservation?”

Kylo grinned at her. “Yes, it's under the name Solo.”

“Solo,” Syal said, surprised, before she looked down at the charts in front of her. “Ah, here it is. Right this way.”

Syal grabbed a couple of menus and led them through the restaurant to their table in the back corner. Kylo pulled out Rey's chair for her and collected her coat and placed it on the back of it before sitting down himself. Syal set the menus in front of them and then took another deep breath. “My younger sister Myri will be your server tonight. Please let me apologize on her behalf for how she acts.”

“You two are big First Order fans, I take it?” Kylo asked.

“Just slightly,” Syal got out.

“Well, make sure you have something for me to autograph before I leave tonight then,” Kylo said, smiling at her.

“That...that would be amazing,” Syal said, nodding. “Alright, I'll leave you alone now.”

“Thank you,” Kylo said, laughing slightly when she walked away. “Is that Wedge's daughter?”

“Yup,” Rey said, opening up the menu. “I think you got away easy there. Myri will be more difficult to deal with.”

“I'm an expert at dealing with First Order fans.”

“I know you are,” Rey said, looking at him over the top of the menu. “I'm just warning you that Myri will be worse.”

“You've obviously met them before.”

“Oh yeah, with Luke. I spent a lot of time with Luke while you were gone.”

A brief silence descended upon the table that was broken by the sound of something shattering on the floor. Kylo and Rey both looked over to see a waitress, which Kylo quickly deduced was Myri, standing in the middle of shattered glass and spilled water and ice. Wedge Antilles came striding over to her, ordering a couple of bus boys to get over there with a mop and bucket quickly.

“Myri, what the hell happened?”

“Kylo Ren,” Myri just barely got out, and Wedge turned his head towards where Myri was staring, shaking his head.

“Get back into the kitchen, get another pitcher of water, and bring it over here,” Wedge said, walking over to the table. “Rey. Good to see you in here. And if I didn't know any better, I'd say that was Ben Solo.”

“The artist formerly known as Ben Solo,” Rey said, laughing. “He prefers the name Kylo Ren these days.”

“No wonder my daughters are acting like they're twelve,” Wedge said, holding out his hand. “Nice to finally meet you. Luke talks highly of you.”

Kylo shook his hand. “It's nice to meet you as well. This is a nice place you've got here. I've been in a few times, but I've never encountered your daughters before.”

“Well, we're short staffed right now, so we had to put them to work,” Wedge said, looking over at Rey. “Rey, have you heard from Luke lately? I went over to his apartment after I heard about Mara but he wouldn't answer.”

“Luke is in Dagobah, and I have no idea when he's coming back.” Rey said. “He's not even taking my calls. Sorry, Wedge.”

“Well, if you do talk to him, let him know that Iella and I are thinking of him,” Wedge said. “Let me know if Myri isn't being professional. I'll send another waitress over.”

“She'll be fine,” Kylo said, and Wedge walked away. “I'm sorry we're having to deal with this First Order stuff on our first date.”

“Actually, I think it's good,” Rey said. “It's part of who you are now. If I don't get used to it, then we're never going to get anywhere.”

Kylo nodded as Myri approached the table again, carefully setting down the glass pitcher and reaching out to turn their water glasses over before filling them. “I am so terribly sorry about that. I'm just really nervous.”

“No need to be nervous,” Rey said. “We're just here to have dinner.”

“Exactly,” Kylo said, smiling at Rey. “In fact, maybe you could suggest something off the menu for us? I haven't been here in a long time and I can tell the menu's changed. Besides, I already promised your sister that you two will get autographs.”

“Autographs!” Myri brightened at that. “Okay, yeah. Um, the spinach lasagna is really good, and so is the chicken saltimbocca.”

Kylo looked over at Rey and she nodded. “Then we'll have those.”

“And what would you like to drink?”

“I'd just like water,” Kylo said. “Rey?”

Rey thought about it for a moment. “A glass of Merlot?”

“Alright, I'll have someone be right over with your wine and I'll put in your order,” Myri said, putting her order book back in her pocket and smiling at them. “And thanks for the autograph!”

Rey smiled as Myri walked away. “You really do know how to handle these First Order fans don't you?”

“The book tours have helped with that,” Kylo said. “So has sobriety. I used to be just so annoyed by them. Now I appreciate them for what they are.”

“That sounds like an apt description of me when it comes to you. I used to be so annoyed by you, but now I appreciate you for what you are.”

“And what is that?” Kylo asked, a teasing smile on his face.

“The love of my life, of course,” Rey said, reaching across the table to put her hand on Kylo's.

Kylo's smile turned into a grin. “Well, if we're at love of our lives status, this must be a pretty successful first date so far.”

“That's still not getting you a kiss.”

“Dammit.”

Chapter Text

They were halfway through dinner at Jakku when Old Ben Kenobi set his utensils down and looked over at Kylo. “So you're probably wondering why it is that I invited you to this dinner.”

Kylo set his utensils down as well. “I did wonder. I wasn't sure if it was polite to ask, however.”

Old Ben smiled. “You have a lot of your uncle in you, Kylo Ren. That's exactly why I know you're the right person for this.”

“For what?”

Old Ben took a deep breath and Duchess Satine reached out and placed her hand over his, squeezing it softly. “This is difficult for him to talk about,” she said. “Please give him time.”

“Of course,” Kylo said, looking over at Rey and shrugging.

“Qui-Gon Jinn was my best friend,” Old Ben said after several minutes. “He was also the heart and soul of The Jedi Order, and we've always wondered how we can pay appropriate tribute to him. Qui-Gon would have been eighty this year, and we've finally decided that the only way to give him the tribute he deserves is to hold a concert in his honor.

“At this concert would be the first reunion of The Jedi Order since 1968. But of course, we don't have a bass guitarist. We've debated the subject back and forth, but we all came to the same conclusion. We would ask you to do it. So, Kylo Ren, that is the reason for this dinner. Would you be willing to join The Jedi Order on stage in London in July to honor Qui-Gon's memory?”

Rey nearly dropped her glass of wine, catching it at the last moment, and Kylo just sat there, his eyes wide and staring at Old Ben as though he'd just asked if Kylo would like to walk on the moon.

Duchess Satine laughed. “I think you caught them off guard, love.”

“I believe so,” Old Ben said, picking up his utensils. “Don't feel like you have to give an answer right away. Take some time to think about it if you want.”

“No,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “That won't be necessary. I'm flattered, Ben. I really am. What on earth made you all think of me?”

Old Ben laughed. “That band of yours might have been terrible, but the way you play that bass guitar, it reminded us all of Qui-Gon. It's instinctive, isn't it?”

“Yes, it is.”

“That's the way it was for him. You could play anything and it would sound beautiful. The vocals on the First Order songs were what ruined them. But the play...the play was amazing,” Old Ben said, stopping to take a drink from his wine glass. “Maz told me you recorded both lead guitar and bass guitar tracks. Knowing that, it became even more obvious that you were the person who could do this, who could fit into the band and not shrink into the stage. There's no point in having a bass guitarist of note on stage with us if they can't hold their own with us. Otherwise we'd just get a filler guitarist, but that would feel like an insult to Qui-Gon's memory. So that's why we came to the conclusion to ask you.”

“It would be an absolute honor to join you on stage,” Kylo said, smiling.

“You can say no, you know,” Old Ben said. “I know you've made a life for yourself away from the stage.”

“You want me to play with The Jedi Order, my favorite band of all time,” Kylo said, laughing. “How can I possibly say no to that?”

Old Ben broke out into a grin. “Well, then let's seal this deal with a handshake, and I'll have our agents work out all the rest.”

Kylo reached out and shook Old Ben's outstretched hand, and Duchess Satine smiled over at Rey. “I certainly hope you will be able to join us in London, Rey.”

“So do I,” Rey said, sighing. “However, I'm not sure that will be possible at the moment. It looks like I'm going to have to take significantly fewer classes this semester than I was planning on, meaning I'll need to take classes over the summer semester if I want to start teaching full time at the university by the fall semester.”

“Why would you need to take fewer classes this semester?” Duchess Satine asked.

“I'm Luke's teacher's assistant, and since he's off in Dagobah at the moment, I have to teach all of his classes, meaning I can't take most of mine since they're at the same time,” Rey said, sighing again. “I'm quite mad at him, to be perfectly honest. He knew what my plans were and then he went and forced me to change all of them.”

“I still think something can be worked out,” Kylo said. “Let's go sit down with Thame Cerulian and see what he has to say about it. Surely there are other professors that can cover Luke's classes so you can take your own.”

“I'm not sure that's what Luke would want though,” Rey said, looking over at Kylo. “But that might not be that bad of an idea.”

“I don't think what Luke wants should be of consideration here,” Kylo said. “He can't just expect you to put your life to the side and do his job while he's off seeking holy men in Dagobah. That's completely unfair to you.”

“I happen to agree with Kylo,” Old Ben said, drawing Rey's attention to him. “Go sit down with this Cerulian and see if he can help. You should be able to graduate with your class, Rey. Not have to delay it because of Luke's sudden vacation.”

“It's not a vacation,” Kylo said. “Has Luke ever told you about Mara?”

Old Ben smiled. “Oh yes, I've even met Mara on occasion. What does she have to do with this?”

“Mara died on December 23rd and Luke's gone off to Dagobah to deal with his grief,” Kylo said. “He's a wreck, to put it mildly.”

“Oh dear,” Old Ben said, putting his hand to his heart. He closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again. “That poor girl. And poor Luke as well. Such a heartbreaking situation all around.”

Duchess Satine looked confused, and Old Ben leaned over and kissed her cheek. “I will tell you about it when we get home, darling.”

Duchess Satine nodded and turned her attention back to Rey. “So when you're not at the university, Rey, what do you do?”

Idle conversation continued throughout the rest of their meal, and at the end, despite Kylo's best attempts, Old Ben paid the check. The two couples said goodbye to each other outside of the restaurant and went their separate ways. Once Kylo and Rey were safely inside the Jaguar, Kylo leaned back against the seat and ran his hands over his face.

“I wasn't drinking, was I?”

Rey gave him a strange look. “No, you had Pepsi.”

“So I wasn't drunk when Old Ben said he wants me to join The Jedi Order for a performance in London in July?”

Rey laughed and reached out, turning Kylo's face towards her. “No, you weren't.”

“Holy fucking shit, Rey.”

“I was wondering when you were going to start to react.”

“Me onstage with The Jedi Order. Me onstage as part of The Jedi Order. I've got to brush up my Jedi Order song skills. I've got to get C-3PO in order. I've got to find out what the set list is. I've got so much work to do.”

“Kylo,” Rey said firmly. “It's January. You've got time. Now take a deep breath.”

Kylo sucked in a deep breath and then another. “Right. January. Long time until July. Other things to worry about before then.”

“That's right,” Rey said, caressing the side of Kylo's face before letting go. “Alright, take me home.”

Kylo nodded and started the car, backing out the space and pulling out of the parking lot. “I really do want to go see Thame Cerulian with you.”

“Why do you want to come with me?” Rey asked. “Do you not think I can do this myself?”

“No, I think you're more than capable of doing it yourself,” Kylo said. “I was just going to volunteer to teach Luke's classes until he comes back.”

Rey's head swiveled around towards Kylo, her eyes wide. “What happened to 'I never want to be a professor again?'”

“Not permanently I don't,” Kylo said. “But I want to help you out, and I want to help Luke out, and this is a way that I can help both of you out at the same time.”

“That's...” Rey trailed off for a few moments. “That's actually something that could really help.”

“Don't sound so surprised.”

“No, it's just that usually when you want to help, you throw money at something. This is like something tangible you could do that would actually help,” Rey said. “You'd really do that?”

“I don't throw money at everything,” Kylo said, sighing. “And of course I'd do that. I wouldn't have brought it up if I wouldn't.”

Rey was silent for a minute. “Kylo?”

“What?”

“When you drop me off tonight, you are allowed to give me a goodnight kiss.”

Kylo just smiled.

Chapter Text

Kylo walked into the lecture hall and the room fell silent for a moment, then a soft buzzing started up as the students talked among themselves about something, which was more than likely him. “Good morning, students. My name is Kylo. I will be teaching this class until Professor Skywalker returns.”

“Kylo Ren,” one of the students said loudly. “You're Kylo Ren.”

Kylo looked at the student and nodded. “I am. I am also incredibly well qualified to teach this class. I have a Ph.D. in medieval literature. Now, how about we get all the unimportant questions about me out of the way so that we can get to the actual curriculum of this class.”

Almost everyone's hands went up, and Kylo took a deep breath. “You, in the blue shirt. What's your name?”

“Thane Kyrell,” he said, his eyes wide. “You really have a Ph.D. in medieval literature?”

“From this very university,” Kylo said, a smile on his face. “Next up is you in the back, with the hat on. Name?”

“Granta Omega. You're a famous musician, you're a famous author. What the hell are you doing filling in for Professor Skywalker?”

“Well, Granta,” Kylo said, spreading out papers along the lectern. “Before I was a famous musician or a famous author, as you put it, I was a professor here. I know exactly what I'm doing. Next is the girl in the second row in pink. Name?”

“Marasiah Fel,” she said. “Shouldn't you be working on your next book?”

“Don't worry about that. The next book is well under way. Let's see. Ah, twins. Let's do the twin on the left first, and we'll do the twin on the right after that. Names?”

“Wynnet Ree,” the first girl said. “Do you miss your band mates?”

“No,” Kylo said. “Next twin.”

“Ciena Ree,” the other girl said. “Why don't you miss your band mates?”

Kylo laughed. “Because Hux is an asshole and Phasma is a bitch. Next is the young man in the First Order t-shirt in the third row. Name?”

The young man cleared his throat. “Um, I'm Sebban Keto. I just wanted to say that First Order was a hell of a lot better when you were in it, and I was wondering if you would ever consider rejoining the band.”

“Thank you and no,” Kylo said, looking around the room. “The girl in yellow in the back. Name?”

“Ashara Zavros,” she said. “Do you have any plans for a solo career?”

“No,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “I'm an author now. The young man in the fourth row in gray. Name?”

“Tae Diath,” he said. “I've seen you play at the Takodana Cantina with Professor Skywalker. You two have a strong resemblance. Are you related?”

Kylo sighed. He knew that question was coming. “Yes. Next will be the two women who are more interested in playing with their phones than paying attention. You, there in the fifth row, in the blue and in the white. Names?”

It took them a moment to realize that Kylo had been talking to them, but eventually the one in the white elbowed the one in the blue and they both looked up at him.

“Names you said?” the girl in the white asked. “I'm Aneese Palladane, and she's Takara Hilts.”

“And what, might I ask, was more important on your phones than what we're currently doing in class?”

Takara laughed. “Well, someone had to alert the world to your presence. And then of course Twitter exploded and it was hard to field responses from our friends because so many strangers around the world were retweeting or replying to the original tweet.”

Kylo just rolled his eyes. “I would have expected better behavior from students of Luke's, but apparently you haven't learned the difference between high school and college yet.”

“Hey, we're juniors!” Aneese called out.

“That means nothing to me when you're acting like a couple of fifteen-year-olds,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “Did anyone else have a question they wanted answered that hasn't yet had one answered?”

Two boys still had their hands in the air and Kylo pointed to the one on the left. “You first. Name?”

“Doran Sarkin-Tainer, sir,” the boy said. “I was just wondering where you came up with the idea for your books? I'm looking to be a writer myself, and I absolutely love the universe you've created and I feel like I can never come up with one as good as that.”

Kylo smiled at him. “It takes time, patience, and belief. Time will develop your idea, patience will fill in the details, and belief will come when you realize it's either time to write what's in your head or to let it consume you to the point of death. That's my advice. Also, don't call me sir. And for our last question, we come over to you. Name?”

“Lucien Draay,” the boy said. “I've seen your girlfriend around campus. Is she the reason why you live here now, or is there another reason you live in Manhattan, Kansas instead of Manhattan, New York?”

Kylo took a deep breath. “This is my hometown,” he said after a minute. “As I mentioned to Mr. Diath, I am related to Professor Skywalker. I went to this university, I used to teach at this university. All my family is in this town, the love of my life is in this town. Manhattan, Kansas allows me to be who I really am. In Manhattan, New York, I have to be a caricature of myself, and I got really sick of doing that. That's why I came back here. And with that, the personal questions have come to an end. Please be advised that no further personal questions will be answered during the course of me teaching this class.”

Kylo let the class settle back into their seats. “Now, the first book we're going to cover today was written in Old French, and it's called Chanson de Roland. How many of you have ever heard of it?”

Kylo repeated the process with each of Luke's classes that day. Personal questions first, then actual classwork, then assigning homework. He stuck to the notes that Luke had left for Rey when it came to the classwork and homework, but he did enjoy calling out the people who were acting like fifteen-year-olds and alerting the world to the fact that he was teaching classes at Kansas State University.

Rey walked into the lecture hall at the end of the day, and Kylo smiled at her. “It's good to see you.”

“Rough first day?” Rey asked, setting her backpack down on the desk and reaching out to Kylo, taking his hands in hers.

“It wasn't that it was rough, necessarily,” Kylo said. “It was just more of a flashback to Ben Solo that I wasn't fully prepared for.”

“Do we need to call BB-8?” Rey asked worriedly.

Kylo shook his head. “No, this is something I can process on my own.”

“You don't have to do it on your own,” Rey said, squeezing his hands. “I usually hang out with Luke and do my homework while he tells me about his day. I thought maybe I could do that with you.”

“Don't you have to work today?”

Rey sighed. “I quit three days ago. Poe wasn't happy about it but he understood.”

“You quit?” Kylo said, shaking his head. “And what are you going to do about money for things?”

“I have enough savings built up to get me through this semester until I get the teaching position,” Rey said. “And if I run into trouble financially, I promise I will come to the bank of Kylo Ren and ask for help.”

“Promise?”

“Promise. Now, tonight? Yes or no?”

Kylo smiled widely. “Yes. My place or yours?”

“Yours,” Rey said. “I'll grab us some dinner on my way over.”

“Sounds great. I'll meet you there then.”

Rey leaned forward and gave Kylo a deep kiss. “I'll see you in a little bit.”

Rey picked up her bag and left, leaving Kylo standing there with a stupid grin on his face.

Two kisses in three days. He must be doing something right.

Chapter Text

Kylo was sitting in Luke's office, reading through essays and being reminded of how many English students couldn't actually write anything that made sense, when his phone rang. And he knew that ring, had set it especially so he'd know if the person on the other end was calling, and he knew exactly why that person was calling.

The Jedi Order concert had been announced that morning. So it made perfect sense that Hux would be calling him that afternoon.

Sighing, Kylo picked it up and answered it. Before he could get a word out, Hux started yelling.

“Explain the fuck to me how it is that I'm supposed to just be perfectly okay with the fact that you're getting on stage with The Jedi Order when you won't even fucking get on stage with us?”

“Hello to you too.”

“Don't be such a smart ass. Phasma and I have been begging you to get on stage with us again, and all we've heard is how you're fucking done being on stage and you're an author now and according to motherfucking twitter you're even teaching classes at the university again, and then here comes this announcement this morning and you're going to play on stage with The Jedi Order? What the motherfucking fuck?”

“I was approached by The Jedi Order and asked if I would play that one off concert with them. I said yes. What you and Phasma want is for me to rejoin the band, which is never happening. That's all this is.”

“Well, you can't motherfucking do it. I'm going to make Palpatine look into your contract. There's not fucking way that you're going to get away with doing this.”

“I no longer have a contract,” Kylo said, a smile on his face. “The label and my agent discussed things, a mutual parting of ways was found, and the contract was taken care of. So technically I can do whatever the motherfuck I want and you can't stop me. You can whine into the media all you want about wanting me back in the band. All that does is destabilize First Order even more, make the new kid look like even more of a fool than he already does, and cause chaos in the fan base. Basically, nothing you say or do is going to stop me from playing this concert with The Jedi Order, and that's that.”

“You are such an asshole, Ren. I don't know why I ever liked you.”

“I could say the same about you,” Kylo said, looking up when the office door opened and Rey walked in. “Excuse me, but I have to deal with a student now.”

Kylo hung up the phone and tossed it onto the desk as Rey closed the door and sat down. “So, Hux is pissed.”

Rey just laughed. “Of course he is. I assume Phasma is as well?”

“I would assume so, but she hasn't called and cursed me out yet.”

Rey laughed again. “God, if only we could force them out of our lives for good.”

“Something tells me we're going to have to deal with them when we get to London, if not before,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “I wish they would just learn to let me go.”

“We can always hope,” Rey said, leaning back in her chair. “So, three weeks in, are you ready to kill Luke yet?”

“I'm ready to kill whoever taught these students how to write,” Kylo said, motioning to the essays in front of him. “Honestly, I understand now why Luke complains about essays so much.”

Rey nodded. “The ones that he's given me to grade before have been so bad I had to ask him if mine were that awful.”

“No, you, unlike all of these people, know how to write,” Kylo said. “I knew that the first day I helped with your Civil War essay when we first started dating.”

Rey smiled. “You even remember what it was about. Impressive.”

“I remember a lot more than you give me credit for,” Kylo said. “You make me happy. I tend to remember times when I'm happy with an incredible attention to detail.”

“Then what part did I want your help with?” Rey asked.

“You didn't ask me for help at all,” Kylo said. “You were talking to yourself about the capital of the Confederate South as being Richmond, Virginia, and I told you not to forget to put that the capital was first Montgomery, Alabama.”

“And I had no idea that the capital of the Confederate South had ever been Montgomery,” Rey finished. “That's a pretty good memory you've got there.”

“Like I said, you make me happy.”

Rey smiled. “It's February eighth.”

“I know.”

“It's our monthaversary.”

“Is that what we have to call it?” Kylo asked, laughing.

Rey chuckled. “Fine, it's been a month.”

“That's better.”

“We should celebrate,” Rey said. “We made it a month.”

“And how do you suggest that we celebrate?” Kylo asked.

Rey took a deep breath. “I want to spend the night. No sex. But spend the night.”

Kylo nodded. “So does that mean that I can do a little more than give you a single kiss tonight?”

“Define a little more.”

“A lot of kisses and falling asleep with you in my arms.”

Rey nodded. “That will be alright.”

“Then I agree that you can spend the night,” Kylo said, glancing over at the clock. “Are you classes done for the day?”

“Yes.”

“And I'm done teaching for the day, so let me gather up all this nonsense that I just want to throw back at everyone and tell them to learn to write and try again and then we'll go.”

“Do it.”

“Excuse me?”

“Give them back to the students and make them rewrite them. Turn them into better writers. Luke will thank you for it. Plus it will give you more time for a lot of kisses tonight.”

Kylo grinned. “I think that's the approval I needed. Alright, these so-called essays are staying here and we are leaving.”

“I've got to run by my place and get some clothes and stuff,” Rey said, standing up. “I'll meet you over there.”

“Why don't you get more than just one night's worth and then you can just leave it at my place?” Kylo asked, and Rey froze. “Did I just go too far?”

“No,” Rey said very unconvincingly. “I just hadn't thought of that yet.”

“Were you planning on this being a one off instead of a step forward?”

“No,” Rey said, again unconvincingly. “I'll think about it while I'm at home.”

“Okay,” Kylo said, reaching out to snag Rey by the wrist. “Am I allowed to kiss you now?”

A smile crossed Rey's face. “Of course.”

Kylo walked around the desk and drew Rey into his arms, giving her a deep kiss. “I'll meet you at my place then. Tell Finn and Jessika I said hi. I've actually got to call Jessika and see how things have gone with her task.”

“Her task?”

“I've got her separating First Order fanmail from Star Wars fanmail.” Kylo laughed. “I'm sure she's thrilled me with at the moment.”

“It can't be that bad, can it?” Rey watched as Kylo nodded. “I'll apologize to Jessika on your behalf then. What's Snap doing?”

“Sitting around Resistance or Starfighter, depending upon where Poe is that day.”

“Kylo.”

“I didn't know what else to have them do while I'm here teaching,” Kylo said, sighing. “When I'm in my normal routine, there's room for a bodyguard and an assistant. When I'm here in two different rooms all day, not so much. I don't want to lose either of them, so I'm paying Snap to hang out with his best friend and I'm paying Jess to go through my fanmail. Any suggestions for better use of them would be welcome.”

“I'll try to think of something,” Rey said. “But you might have a point. Anyway, I'll meet you at yours in a bit.”

Kylo pulled her into another kiss. “I cannot wait for tonight.”

Rey smiled. “Me neither.”

Chapter Text

Six weeks passed without word from Luke, and then one day, in the middle of what had become Kylo's office hours, Luke walked in to the office.

“Luke?”

Luke stared at Kylo, his eyes blinking rapidly. “I thought I'd find Rey here.”

“Rey is actually attending her classes,” Kylo said, a little more bitterly than necessary. “I have been teaching your classes while you were gone.”

Luke sank down into one of the chairs across from Kylo and ran his hands through his hair. “Thank you.”

“Luke, are you alright?”

Luke laughed hollowly. “I don't think I'm ever going to be okay again, to be honest. But Yoda told me I needed to get back to my responsibilities, so here I am.”

“You look like shit.”

“Yeah, I probably need a few more days to get back into the swing of things,” Luke said, taking a deep breath.

“Well, lucky for you, Spring Break is this weekend,” Kylo said, smiling softly. “You'll have a few days to get ready to teach again.”

Luke nodded. “That's...that's good. Did you stick to the curriculum?”

“Of course,” Kylo said. “We did take a week off at the beginning of the semester to teach everyone how to write properly, however. And I did have to kick a couple of girls out of the two-thirty class because they wouldn't stay off their phones talking about me.”

“Shit, I didn't even think about that,” Luke said, rubbing his hands over his face. “You said you never wanted to be a professor again and then you went and did this and...”

“I did it more for Rey than I did for you,” Kylo said seriously. “Has this reminded me of why I never want to teach another class? Yes. But I did it so Rey could graduate with her class. You just ran off and left everything in her lap like she was just supposed to put her goals and dreams on hold so you could run off to Dagobah and meditate or whatever the fuck it was you were doing there. That wasn't fair to her, so I did what I could to help. It's certainly more than you did.”

“I take it everyone is angry with me?”

“Everyone is worried sick about you,” Kylo stressed. “We all know that you were consumed with grief, but it was so out of character for you to just take off like that. Grandpa compared you to me running off to join the band. That's how out of character it is.”

Luke sighed heavily. “I know, I just...I needed to talk to Yoda, and he refuses to talk about stuff like this over the phone. Plus he suggested I meet with Agolerga and come to a spiritual conclusion to all my turmoil. I didn't know it was going to take me so long. I honestly thought I'd be back in a week or so. It was just something I had to do.”

“I understand, probably better than anyone in the family,” Kylo started, but the door to the office opened and Rey walked in.

“Luke!”

Luke stood up just in time for Rey to barrel into him, smothering him in a large embrace. “Hello, Rey.”

“When did you get back?” Rey asked, turning to look at Kylo. “When were you going to tell me?”

“I just got back this morning and came in here no more than ten minutes ago,” Luke said. “He had no idea I was back.”

Rey gave Luke another long hug. “Did going to Dagobah help?”

Luke nodded. “As much as anything can.”

Rey let go of him and they both sat down, Rey reaching out to hold Luke's hand. “Well, I'm glad you're back.”

“You were furious with him this morning,” Kylo pointed out.

“There will be time for that discussion,” Rey said, nodding. “But I don't think he needs that right now.”

“Kylo already told me why he was teaching my classes instead of you,” Luke said. “He's right. I was an asshole to leave you with all of that and just expect you to do it. You have your own goals and dreams and I had no right to attempt to hijack them by leaving you to do my job. I'll find some way to make this up to the two of you, I promise.”

“Luke, that's not necessary,” Rey tried to say, but Kylo talked right over the top of her.

“I'll be looking forward to whatever you come up with.”

Rey sighed and looked over at Kylo. “What are you doing?”

“Trust me, Rey, he's not going to feel better until he finds a way to make it up to us,” Kylo said. “I know from experience.”

Rey sighed again. “Is this about you throwing money at everything when you first came back?”

“You mean he still doesn't do that?” Luke asked, bemused.

“Look, all I'm saying is that I know that no matter how much someone says, 'no, it's not necessary that you make this up to me,' I personally wouldn't feel that things were right until I did make it up to them,” Kylo said. “And contrary to popular belief, I do not throw money at everything.

“No, you're right, you don't,” Rey said, nodding. “You would have built your grandparents a castle and your parents a mansion with its own private landing strip if you had.”

“See? I did not throw money at everything.”

Luke couldn't keep himself from laughing any longer, the laughs spilling out from between his lips. Rey and Kylo took one look at Luke before looking at each other, satisfied that their bickering had produced a positive emotional response from Luke. “You two are so back together, aren't you?”

Rey just smiled, so Kylo confirmed it. “We've been dating again since January seventh,” he said. “And thankfully, Mama and Grandma are staying out of it.”

“Good, because Han and Dad lectured them both about getting involved and fucking things up between you,” Luke said, sinking back into his chair. “They swore they wouldn't fuck things up, but Han and Dad made them promise not to meddle.”

“I knew I liked those two,” Rey said playfully. “No, actually, it's really great to have them acknowledge that we need to do this on our own. I fully expect that you will be staying out of it too?”

“Oh yeah, I'm not going to be the one to blame if it all goes sideways,” Luke said, his gaze shifting between Kylo and Rey. “You two are happy though. I can tell. So whatever you're doing, keep it up.”

Luke looked at the clock and stood up. “I've got a meeting with Cerulian that I need to go to. If you can give me until after Spring Break, Kylo, I'd much appreciate it.”

“Not a problem, Luke,” Kylo said, standing up and walking around the desk, pulling Luke into a hug. “It really is good to see you.”

“Thanks.” Luke put a hand on Rey's shoulder. “Dinner Saturday at Resistance? We can catch up and I'll tell you all about Dagobah?”

“Sounds great, Luke,” Rey said, and Luke nodded before leaving the office.

Kylo collapsed into the chair next to Rey. “So I guess I'm only a professor for another two days.”

“You say that like it's a bad thing,” Rey said, laughing. “I thought you hated teaching.”

“If I had to do this for the rest of my life, then yes, I would be in a bad place,” Kylo said. “But this little bit of time? It made me remember why Ben wanted this life in the first place. It's not that bad of a life, if you don't count horrible writing when it comes to essays. But I am much more comfortable in my life than I ever was in this one, so I will be very glad to get back to that.”

“Who knows, maybe I'll get this job and it'll turn out that I'll hate it too,” Rey said, shrugging. “But right now, it's all I can dream about, besides you.”

“Besides me, huh?”

“Yeah,” Rey said softly. “So what are we doing for Spring Break?”

“Well, once upon a time, I wanted to take you to the Seychelles, but you said no.”

“What if I were to say yes?”

Kylo looked over at Rey and grinned. “Really?”

“I think we both need to get away from here and decompress and enjoy the sun for awhile,” Rey said. “The Seychelles sounds wonderful.”

“Then I will have the arrangements made,” Kylo said. “You're not going to regret this.”

Rey smiled. “No, I don't think I am.”

Chapter Text

Their first day in the Seychelles had been a wonderful, relaxing, loving, paparazzi-free day that seemed like it was just going to get better when Rey announced during their late evening walk that she was ready to have sex with Kylo.

Three hours later, it had become incredibly obvious that she was not ready to have sex with anyone, let alone Kylo.

And so as the sun rose on what was now their second day in the Seychelles, Kylo was sitting on the floor in his boxers, staring out the patio doors at the sunrise. Behind him on the bed, Rey was wrapped up in the bedsheets and rocking back and forth, muttering “I'm sorry” every so often.

Nether one of them knew what else to say.

After the sunrise was over, Kylo stood up and glanced over at the bed. Rey's eyes met his and then looked away, but Kylo took that as an invitation to come closer. He sat down on the bed, within arm's reach but without touching her, and cleared his throat. “So I think last night we learned a very important lesson. We're not ready for that step.”

“I'm not,” Rey muttered.

“And if you're not, then I'm not,” Kylo said. “I think we should both shower and get dressed, go to the hotel restaurant and have breakfast, and then spend the day on the beach. Just a nice, relaxing day to sort of reset and start over.”

“So you don't hate me?” Rey asked quietly, and Kylo turned towards her with wide eyes.

“What? No! I could never hate you over this. Hell, I could never hate you over anything.”

Rey looked up at him through hooded eyes. “I'm so sorry.”

“You have nothing to be sorry about,” Kylo said, reaching for her but stopping short of actually touching her. “Sorry, I don't know if I should touch you or not.”

Rey was silent for a moment before she nodded, and Kylo moved closer to her, pulling her into an embrace. Rey buried her face in Kylo's neck and they just stayed that way for a long time. Rey eventually moved back and looked up at Kylo. “I thought it would be different this time.”

“It's okay,” Kylo said, reaching out and running his fingers through Rey's hair. “I will be here whenever you want to try, and I will be here until it finally happens, and I will definitely be here after that.”

Rey laughed slightly. “I believe you said something similar to me the first time this happened.”

“Yeah, but now I actually understand why it's happening,” Kylo said, caressing Rey's cheek. “I'm never going to force you to do anything you don't want to do, and I'm never going to leave just because you can't do something that I want. Would I love to have sex with you while we're here? Absolutely. Do I think that's realistic given last night? No. In fact, I don't think we should try again until after you've spoken with BB-8.”

“Thank you,” Rey said quietly. “And you're probably right about BB-8. Talking to him might help.”

“Alright, then that's settled. You feel ready for a shower? Or do you want me to go first?” Kylo watched Rey carefully. “Or do you want us to shower together?”

Rey chuckled. “I don't think I can handle you touching me in certain places,” she whispered. “I'll go first. You order room service.”

“Room service and not the restaurant?”

“Yes,” Rey said, gathering up the bedsheets and climbing off the bed. “I want French toast! Extra strawberries, extra whipped cream!”

“Whatever you wish, mademoiselle,” Kylo said, climbing off the bed and walking over to the phone. He quickly ordered a variety of things for breakfast and was told they would be there in approximately fifteen minutes. Another perk of being on a secluded island that hardly anyone in the world could afford to stay at? Fast room service.

He went over to his suitcase and dug through it until he found clothes fitting the day's agenda, and when he turned around, Rey was standing there, wearing the clothes that Kylo had worn the day before. “Hello.”

“I didn't take any clothes into the bathroom with me,” Rey explained, walking over to her suitcase. “And I didn't exactly feel comfortable coming out here in nothing but a towel.”

“It's fine, Rey,” Kylo said seriously. “You are welcome to wear my clothes whenever you want. You make them look sexy as hell.”

Rey blushed. “I don't believe that for one moment but thank you. Now go take your shower before room service gets here.”

Kylo did as he was told and walked back into the main room of their suite freshly showered just as there was a knock at the door. Kylo waved Rey off and grabbed his wallet, going over to the door to let the hotel employee in with the food. Once the food was over by the table, Kylo tipped the man a thousand dollars and the man grinned before leaving the room.

“Do I even want to know how much that tip was?” Rey asked as she searched through the tray for her French toast, letting out a mock cheer when she found it.

“It was an appropriate level tip for an establishment like this,” Kylo said, sitting down at the table across from her. “Places like this are not cheap.”

“Which is why you refuse to tell me how much this vacation of ours is costing.”

“I told you that I can't tell you how much this vacation is costing until after the vacation is over,” Kylo said, reaching for a plate of eggs and bacon. “But it is significantly higher than any vacation we've ever been on before. You pay for privacy, and this trip is all about privacy.”

“Where did you learn about this place anyway?” Rey asked as she cut into a piece of French toast.

Kylo felt his cheeks redden and he immediately changed the subject. “So do you want to just lay on the beach all day or do you want to get in the water too?”

Rey stopped what she was doing and looked up at him. “You do not get to just escape answering that question.”

“I learned about it from my friend Pippa's sister Catherine's husband William,” Kylo said as fast as he could. “This is where Catherine and William came on their honeymoon. Now, back to my question? I'd kind of like to get in the water today.”

Rey stared at him for a few moments before she put it all together. “Prince William?! You learned about this place from Prince William?! You're friends with Pippa Middleton?! Explain. Now.”

Kylo groaned. “Pippa is a big fan of the band. We met in London years ago. She introduced me to Catherine, who introduced me to William, and every time I've been in London since, at the very least, Pippa, Catherine, and I meet up. I couldn't hide you from them because Pippa could tell I was in love and happy, I said I was looking for some place to take you without the paparazzi mess following us everywhere, Catherine had William call me and give me the details. Yes, you'll get to meet all of them. No, I'm not telling anyone else that I know them. Hux and Phasma don't even know about anyone beyond Pippa.”

Rey started laughing hysterically. “That is so...fucking insane and random and yet absolutely something that would be part of your life because you're a fucking rockstar and a fucking famous author and you took me to the place that William and Kate went on their honeymoon. Oh god, this is too funny.”

“Catherine,” Kylo said meekly. “She prefers being called Catherine.”

Rey laughed for several minutes while Kylo ate his eggs and bacon, wondering if he'd done something right or something wrong. Eventually she calmed down, ate a few bites of French toast, and then grinned at him. “You know, that was just the thing I needed to get back into the happy, fun vibe of this vacation. Thanks for that.”

“You're welcome?” Kylo said questioningly, and Rey giggled some more.

“I wonder what Padmé would say if she knew you were friends with royalty, actual, real, honest to God, royalty,” Rey said.

“We are never telling her,” Kylo said quickly. “Absolutely not. You know how she is about royalty. She can recite the order of succession for the Kingdom of Denmark. If she knew that I kind of, sort of know the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, she'd never let me leave her presence. Now can we please stop talking about people I kind of know and get back to our vacation?”

Rey was still giggling, but she nodded her head. “I want to lay on the beach for awhile, with some absolutely fabulous fruity alcoholic drink to sip at, and then, when it gets too hot, get in the water.”

“I think that can be arranged,” Kylo said, smiling at her. “Rey?”

“What?” she asked, cutting into more of her French toast.

“I love you.”

Rey looked up at him and smiled. “I love you too.”

And just like that, for the moment, the events of the night before were put behind them.

Chapter Text

Leia was in her office on a sunny April afternoon when Kylo came walking in. He stopped and said hello to Greer and Korrie first, then made his way to the back of the room where Leia's desk was enclosed by some glass panels and a door. He shut the door behind him and sat down across from her, smiling as he handed over a paper bag.

“Grilled chicken with spinach and arugula sandwich straight from Resistance,” Kylo said. “Poe said it was on the house.”

“I hope you told him that was nonsense.”

“I slipped a twenty into the cash register,” Kylo said, taking a deep breath as he sat back. “So, what's so important that I had to come over to your office for it?”

“I wanted you to be aware of something,” Leia said, taking the sandwich out of the bag and placing it on a napkin on her desk. “Your father has gone off to Mexico with Lando.”

Kylo sighed heavily. “What idiotic thing did he do now?”

Leia just shook her head. “Nothing yet, to my knowledge. Lando found this old plane called the Eravana in Oaxaca. He wanted your father's opinion on it before he bought it.”

“Lando has enough money to buy a plane?”

“Lando has acquired a loan from somewhere,” Leia said, sighing. “I sent your father over there to convince him to forget about this plane. The next thing I know he's home packing to go look at the plane with him.”

“You're afraid Dad's going to want to buy a plane.”

“I'm afraid Han is going to ask you to buy a plane for him.” Leia unwrapped her sandwich carefully. “It's bad enough that you have a private plane at your beck and call. The last thing in the world I want is your father, or Lando for that matter, owning a plane of their own. I'll never see either one of them ever again.”

Kylo reached up and rubbed the back of his neck. “I may have already offered to buy Dad a plane years ago when I first came home.”

Leia sighed. “Why am I not surprised by that? I'm more surprised by the fact that he hasn't taken you up on that yet.”

“He always has said he needs to find the right plane before he can think about buying it,” Kylo said. “And he's done so much for me, Mama. If he finds that plane, I'm probably going to buy it for him.”

“Your father is one of the best fighter pilots this country has ever seen,” Leia said, sighing heavily. “I suppose I should have known better than to think his love affair with planes was over when he retired from the Air Force. Just promise me you'll have the plane inspected for safety before you buy it.”

“I promise.”

“Anyway, I just wanted you to know that when you brought Rey over for dinner tonight, it'll be just me there.”

“Then we should go out,” Kylo said. “No need to cook for just three of us.”

“I cooked for just the three of us for a long time,” Leia said. “I do still know how to do it.”

Leia picked up her sandwich and took a bite while Kylo spoke. “I'm not trying to say that you are incapable of cooking us dinner, Mama. I'm just saying it would be easier not to cook and instead go out. We could even call Luke, see if he'll join us.”

Leia nodded as she swallowed. “Calling Luke is a good idea. Has Rey worked everything out with him yet?”

“She's still mad, but she told me that BB-8 told her that's to be expected,” Kylo said. “Luke seriously breached the trust that had been built up between them. But she also told me that she wants to just let go of all of the anger and move on. So I don't really know how to answer that question yet. It remains to be seen.”

“You remember how your uncle was with Mara,” Leia said. “Unfortunately, Rey has none of those memories. I think she'd understand why Luke went to Dagobah a lot more if she did.”

“Even if she understood it more, that still wouldn't change the fact that Luke assumed that she'd just put her whole life on hold and do what he wanted her to do. There's still some mending that needs to happen there.”

“And what about you and Luke?” Leia asked, shaking her head at Kylo's surprised look. “You put your life on hold to teach his classes for two and a half months, Kylo. I can see the anger you have towards him simmering under the surface.”

“I need to find time to go over there and talk to him one on one. Every time I mention I'm going to Luke's, Rey tags along,” Kylo said, sighing. “And I understand why, because she's still so concerned about him, even if she is mad at him, but I can't seem to get him alone. The one time I have made it over there without Rey, Wedge Antilles was over there with his family.”

“Leave that to me,” Leia said. “Mon and I are going to Wichita shopping this weekend, a little girls' retreat. I'll just invite Rey along.”

“Mon Mothma? God, it's been years since I've seen her,” Kylo said, smiling. “Has Rey ever met her?”

“No,” Leia said, putting what was left of her sandwich down. “I might be able to convince Rey that she's going to need new clothes for the Jedi Order concert in July.”

“You are probably right about that,” Kylo said, nodding. “Let me set it up like it was in January? Private plane, limo, Coruscant closed to the public?”

“Well, Mon and I weren't planning on just going to Coruscant, but that would be wonderful, sweetheart,” Leia said, smiling. “We were planning on spending the whole weekend there too.”

Kylo pulled out his phone and started typing out a series of texts to Jessika. “I'll get Jessika on it. I assume you have a hotel reservation already?”

“Yes, at the Wellington Place Inn,” Leia said. “Mon and I always stay there when we go to Wichita.”

“Well, I'm upgrading your room,” Kylo said, still typing away. “We'll convince Rey tonight at dinner, and then I'll spend part of the weekend with Luke.”

“I think that sounds wonderful,” Leia said, looking past Kylo out into the rest of the office. “Your bodyguard is headed this way, dear.”

Kylo stopped typing and turned to look behind him, waving Snap into the office. “Snap, what's going on?”

“There's a growing crowd outside,” Snap said. “I think that it would be best for everyone's safety if we left now.”

“Mama,” Kylo started to say, but Leia just shook her head.

“I will call Luke and we will determine where to meet you and Rey for dinner,” Leia said. “I'll call you later.”

Kylo nodded and stood up, following Snap out of the smaller office and then out of the office entirely. He glanced out the window to his right as they made their way to the elevator and his eyes widened at all the people. “What the hell is going on?”

“Jessika is in the backseat,” Snap said as they got into the elevator. “I'll let her fill you in.”

Kylo sighed heavily and they rode the elevator down, exiting the building into a medium sized crowd. Snap did his best to move people out of the way, and Kylo got into the backseat of the sedan feeling like he'd only been grabbed at a hundred times instead of a thousand. Snap came around to the driver's seat and started to get them out of there as Kylo turned to Jessika.

“You did not come here with us,” he pointed out.

“No, I did not,” Jessika said, “but when I saw this flash up on the news feed, well, I drove myself down so we could put a plan into action.”

Jessika handed over her iPad and Kylo took one look at the tablet before handing it back to her. “You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

“It's spreading like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook, the kids in this town know what car to look for, they know likely places to look, etc, etc,” Jessika said. “I've heard from your publicist and your agent, and they all want to know what you have to say about it so they know how to proceed.”

Kylo leaned back in his seat and ran his hands over his face. “I am never, ever, ever rejoining that band. EVER.”

“You want to just go with that, or you want to go into more detail?”

“Considering how many times we've had to do this, I think just the short and sweet is good enough this time,” Kylo practically growled. “When I get home, I'm calling Hux.”

“Are you sure that's a good idea?” Jessika asked softly.

“Someone has to shut him up, and press releases don't usually do that,” Kylo said, pulling at his hair in frustration. “I don't give a fucking damn that their replacement for me has quit. I want absolutely nothing to do with them, and by the time I'm done with that conversation, he's going to fucking understand that.”

“Yes, sir,” Jessika said, reaching for her phone. “I'll start making phone calls.”

“Rey first,” Kylo said. “Snap, take the long way home. I don't want anyone following us there.”

“Yes, sir.”

Chapter Text

It took Rey about five minutes to realize that Mon Mothma was really fun to be around. Mon and Leia worked in the same law office until Leia quit to become mayor of Manhattan, and then Mon stepped out on her own when Leia's terms were over to set up Mothma and Solo, Attorneys at Law. Rey had always known about Mon, but she'd never actually met her.

The plane ride to Wichita was full of exchanging stories about Kylo as a child that Rey had never heard before, and in the process she learned that Mon was Kylo's godmother. She had no idea that at one point in his life Kylo had been religious, and Leia was kind enough to explain it for her.

“The Skywalker side of the family, we're not religious. It comes from Dad, and Mama was never very religious either, so it was just passed down to us in a learn about it but make your own decision kind of way. Luke and I explored religion, but neither one of us bought into it, so therefore neither one of us is religious.

“Han, on the other hand, grew up in a religious household. It was important to him that we got married in a church in a traditional Lutheran ceremony, and it was important to him that we had Ben baptized. So that's what we did. Mon is his godmother, and Lando is his godfather. Han agreed to allow Ben to do the same thing that Mama and Dad had me and Luke do, learn and decide for yourself. Ben did that, and he decided not to believe. It was a sore spot between him and Han for awhile, but Han's lapsed from his faith quite a bit in recent years, and so I think that wound is mending.”

“I had no idea,” Rey said. “Kylo's never mentioned it.”

“That doesn't surprise me,” Leia said. “It's not something he's very open about.”

“Not even with me?” Rey asked.

Leia sighed and put a hand on Rey's. “Sweetheart, I think you might have to come to terms with the fact that there are parts of my son that he's never going to share with anyone. Not even you. It's hard to accept, but there are demons in his mind that he's buried so, so deep that I don't think he wants to dig them up just to share them with you. They'd tear him apart if he did.”

“I agree with Leia on this one,” Mon chimed in. “Some things are better left unsaid. Some things are also better left buried deep inside you. You didn't know Ben when he was suicidal as a teenager. The things he said, the things he did. He scared the hell out of all of us. I'm glad to know that he's buried some of that so deep not even he can find it.”

Rey sighed unhappily. “I don't like this, but okay. If you say that's what works for him, then I'll go along with it. I just want him to be happy and healthy.”

“And he is, dear,” Leia said, smiling. “You make him happy, and he's finally healthy again because he wants to be healthy for you. I honestly feel like I might have lost him forever by now if he'd stayed in that band. An overdose one night, or something like that. I could tell my son was hurting and I couldn't do anything about it. Then he magically comes home, and it was the best present ever but he was still hurting. But you got to him.”

“I think it's more that Han got to him,” Rey murmured.

“Han was the one to physically take him to the outpatient center,” Leia said. “You were the reason he kept going. He's told me so himself.”

Rey took a deep breath. “Can we change the subject? This is too heavy and deep for a girls' weekend out.”

“I agree,” Mon said, smiling at her. “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

The ladies kept up the conversation throughout the rest of the plane ride, the limousine ride to the Wellington Place Inn to check in and drop off their luggage, and then the limousine ride to Coruscant. The moment they walked in to the obviously closed to the public store and Carise Sindian handed Rey a glass of champagne, Rey immediately felt that she didn't belong there, spending more of Kylo's money. She gave Leia and Mon a forced smile before walking away and pulling out her phone.

She searched through her contacts to find the right number, clicked the button to connect the call, and brought the phone up to her ear.

“Hello, darling,” came Kylo's voice. “Have you arrived in Wichita yet?”

“Yes, and it's great but I...” Rey said, trailing off. “You already did this in January. I don't deserve it again.”

“Nonsense,” Kylo said, pausing a second to answer a question of Jessika's in the background. “Rey, you deserve the whole world. I want to give you everything. But I'm not giving you everything. Right now, all I'm giving you is some clothes. What's wrong with that?”

Rey took a deep breath and took a sip from her glass of champagne. “Why do you have to give me everything? Is what I have not enough for you?”

“No, no, no, no, no,” Kylo said quickly. “You are perfect just the way you are. This is not about changing you in any way, if that's what you're thinking. I just remember your wardrobe, most of which is still the same, which means most of which is still ridiculously threadbare. I don't even know what you're wearing today but I'll bet that you've owned it for more than fifteen years.”

Rey looked down at the K-State t-shirt she was wearing and chuckled. “I think this shirt is actually probably thirty years old. My father wore it before I stole it from him.”

“And it's ridiculously threadbare, isn't it?”

Rey sighed. “It could use replacing, yes.”

“That's all I'm trying to help you out with. Replacing that portion of your wardrobe with clothes that are actually from this decade.”

Rey laughed. “Alright, alright, I get it. But why do you always have to send me to such a fancy store? I mean, I could pick out stuff at Walmart and be just fine with it.”

“Because if you're going to get a new wardrobe, you need one with clothing that will last, not cheap ass stuff from Walmart that costs eight bucks and is paper thin like the stuff you already own.”

Rey took a deep breath. “Okay. I will allow you to spend ridiculous amounts of money on me. Again. I don't know how I'll ever make this up to you but fine.”

“All you have to do is love me,” Kylo said. “That's the only thing I want from you.”

“You're ridiculous, you know that?”

Kylo laughed. “I love you too.”

“I love you,” Rey said. “I'll call you later.”

“Okay,” Kylo said. “Goodbye.”

Rey stuck her phone back in her purse and took another sip of the champagne before turning around and heading back to Leia and Mon. No more threadbare clothes. She could do that.

Chapter Text

“It was Mara that talked me into choosing Dagobah for college, actually,” Luke said, settling down on the sofa and drinking a sip from his beer. “She talked about this way of life that was centered around balancing the good and the bad inside of you, and it just sounded so intriguing that before I knew it, I'd applied and been accepted and talked Mom and Dad into going there.”

“Dagobah was Auntie Mara's idea?” Kylo asked, taking a sip of his water. “I never knew that.”

“I never told anyone,” Luke said, laughing. “We both told our parents that it was a total coincidence that we both picked the same school to go to. Anyway, Dagobah is more than just a college experience. Of course there is the academic aspect, or else I never would have been able to get a job at K-State. But everyone has an adviser – mine was Yoda – and everyone has a holy man – mine was Agolerga. It's not really religion as religion in normally defined, but it's more of a mindset that you get into that keeps you going day after day.”

“It sounds like a cult.”

“You sound like my father,” Luke said, shaking his head. “It's not a cult. It's not like you go there and can never leave. And you can always return once you do leave, and then leave again when you're ready to. Half the day is spent on academics, and half the day is spent on making sure you are prepared to always be in the mindset of finding the balance between good and bad within you.”

“Sort of like how I have light and dark sides of the Force, and how they both live within you, it's just a matter of which side you let consume you.”

Luke looked over at Kylo. “I think you probably have memories deep inside there of Mara and I talking about the balance in front of you when you were a child, and that's where this light side and dark side of the Force came from.”

Kylo laughed. “That wouldn't surprise me because I have no idea where the hell I came up with this idea.”

“I know that you're angry with me for disappearing on you and Rey and for everything that you two had to do while I was gone to cover for me. But losing Mara forever tilted me so far to the bad that I immediately needed Yoda and Agolerga to find my balance again.”

“How far to the bad did you get?” Kylo asked seriously.

“Swear you'll never tell anyone?” Luke asked.

“Swear it,” Kylo said.

“The day I took off for Dagobah, I stood in the bathroom looking into the mirror for about an hour with two handfuls of sleeping pills, ready and waiting to be taken,” Luke sighed and turned to look at Kylo. “I didn't want to live without her somewhere out there in the world. I didn't want to live knowing that I'd never hear her laugh again, or see her smile, or bury my face in her neck and inhale her scent. I just didn't want to live. But I knew that I couldn't do it. I knew that Mara would be so disappointed in me if I did it, and I didn't want to disappoint her one last time. So I flushed the pills down the toilet and packed for Dagobah instead. I knew that Yoda and Agolerga would help me find balance again.”

“Fucking hell, Luke,” Kylo murmured. “Suicide? You were really thinking about suicide?”

“I don't expect you to understand,” Luke started but Kylo cut him off.

“No, I totally understand. Why the hell do you think I became an alcoholic? It was so I could wash away the pain that came from not having Rey in my arms or knowing what she was doing or seeing her smile in the early morning light. Yeah, so maybe that was all my fault where as her leaving was Mara's, but I do understand, Luke.”

They both looked up when they heard a key slide into the lock and, when the front door opened, Rey walked in carrying several shopping bags, a suitcase, and an umbrella. Kylo was on his feet in an instant, walking over to help her with her stuff, and Rey dropped it all to the floor and just collapsed against him when he was close enough.

“I hate Hux.”

Kylo sucked in a deep breath. “How many fans and what did they do?”

“I don't know, ten of them? Big group at the mall, all teenagers. Apparently it's all my fault that you don't want to go back to the band. I've apparently ruined you. Whatever, all I know is that this is all Hux's fault, and I hate him so much.”

Kylo pulled Rey into a deeper embrace, and that's when Rey looked over and saw Luke on the sofa. “Oh, hey Luke.”

“Rey,” Luke said, polishing off his beer and standing up. “I think I should be going.”

“That's absurd,” Rey said, pulling away from Kylo and stepping over her stuff to get to him. “I've decided to follow your Yoda's advice, Luke. Let go of the anger, for it will only lead to bad things. I don't want bad things between us. Just don't ever do that to me again.”

“I won't,” Luke said softly. “I promise.”

Rey pulled him into a tight hug and Luke smiled. “I really should be leaving though.”

“Nonsense,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “Stay. We'll get takeout from Corellia and have a nice dinner, just the three of us. Put that nice table I bought into good use.”

Luke smiled. “You sure?”

“Absolutely,” Kylo said. “Rey, you don't mind, do you?”

“Of course not,” Rey said, grinning at Kylo. “Corellia sounds great, by the way. We really should go there more often.”

“You should ask Wedge for a permanent reservation. I know he'd love that,” Luke said, walking towards the kitchen. “Do you have the takeout menu?”

“Drawer next to the stove!” Kylo called out, walking over to where Rey was. “That was very nice of you, to forgive him.”

“I came to the conclusion on this trip that if I could forgive you for what you did, I could forgive Luke for what he did,” Rey said, leaning up against him. “And that's really all that matters.”

“I decided to forgive him about an hour before you got here,” Kylo said, wrapping his arms around her. “I don't want anything bad between us either.”

Rey closed her eyes and sighed happily. “Good. I enjoyed my weekend.”

“That's very good. Did you get lots of nice, new clothes?”

“I spent a ton of your money if that's what you're asking,” Rey said, sighing.

“No, I was asking about your new clothes. I take it Mama and Mon were helpful.”

“Oh yes, very much,” Rey said, a smile spreading across her face. “I also heard about seventeen thousand stories about you from your childhood that I had not heard before, so that was a highlight.”

Kylo cringed. “Oh God, I'm going to regret this trip, aren't I?”

“Of course you are, Little Vader,” Rey said, pulling away from him. “Come on, let's go figure out what to eat.”

Kylo let his head fall back for a moment before bringing his hands up to rub over his face. “Oh fuck, they told the Little Vader story. Why did they have to tell the Little Vader story?”

“Get in here, Little Vader, before I start telling her old bathtime stories!”

Sometimes, Kylo really, really hated his family.

But he wouldn't change them for anything.

Chapter Text

“I really need to find an apartment,” Rey said, settling further into Kylo's embrace on the sofa. “I've officially been homeless for almost three months.”

“You're not homeless,” Kylo pointed out. “My home seems to be liking you just fine. It certainly hasn't wanted to kick you out yet.”

Rey elbowed him in the stomach. “Can you please be serious?”

“I am being serious,” Kylo got out, rubbing at his stomach with his free arm. “And that really hurt, by the way.”

“Good, it was supposed to,” Rey said, pulling away and sitting up straight. “Kylo, I need my own place.”

“And all I'm trying to say is that we've been living together for three months. Sleeping in the same bed, eating meals together, doing laundry together, all the things that couples do when they live together? We've been doing them for three months. Why does that have to change?” Kylo asked, looking over at her. “This doesn't have to be scary.”

“But it is,” Rey said quietly. “It is scary.”

Kylo shifted around until he was facing her, then took Rey's hands into his own. “Rey, do you remember the promise I made you before I asked you to move in with me the first time?”

“Kylo,” Rey started, shaking her head. “Don't...please, don't. That was too embarrassing.”

“Well, you know now that I'm not going to propose. I'm just going to make that promise to you again, right now,” Kylo said softly. “I promise you that if you say yes to the question I'm about to ask you, you will never have to worry about having a roof over your head again. You'll never worry about having to make rent, or pay utilities, or being able to put food in the refrigerator after paying for them. Say yes to this, and I promise you, you'll never have to worry about those things again.”

Rey swallowed hard and looked up at him. “That's a lot more than the first promise was.”

“Well, it's the truth,” Kylo said. “Say yes and you'll never have to worry about any of those things ever again.”

Rey took a deep breath before pulling her hands from Kylo's to wipe away the tears that were starting to fall. “I really believed you the first time,” she said after a moment. “And I think that's why I'm scared to believe you now.”

Kylo moved closer and brought his hands up to her face, gently wiping away her tears. “I know, and I can never apologize enough for breaking that promise to you. For breaking all the promises I made to you. But that's in the past, and we agreed to look forward instead of back. I know I'm bringing up parts of the past when I say things like this, but Rey, it's only so I can show you I'm ready to move forward.”

Rey sniffled and Kylo gently wrapped one of his hands around the back of her neck. “Kylo, I...I'm just scared.”

“You think I'm not?” Kylo asked. “I'm fucking terrified, Rey. This is a big step for us. I know what I want, what I'm ready for, but if you're not, I'm not going to force you to do something that you're not ready for. If you're not, and you really want your own apartment, then fine, we'll find an apartment for you. But I just want you to think for a moment, really think, about whether or not you're ready to move forward too. That's all I'm asking right now. Remember, I haven't asked the question yet.”

Rey chuckled lightly. “You're asking a lot of questions without asking the question.”

“I don't know how else to do this, Rey,” Kylo said. “I'm just going with my heart here.”

Rey closed her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. She thought about herself in a new apartment. No roommate, nothing but her stuff, being all alone in the middle of the night. And then she thought about herself at Kylo's house. Coming home from school to find him in the kitchen cooking dinner, lounging with him on the sofa once she finished her homework, going to sleep at night being held in his arms.

Kylo was right. It was fucking terrifying. But it was also something that had to happen if they were ever going to get anywhere, and it was something that they had been doing successfully for the past three months.

She took another couple of deep breaths before opening her eyes. Kylo's eyes were trained on her, anticipation dancing through them, but mostly just shining with love. And that's all the reassurance she needed.

“Ask me the question,” Rey said softly, and Kylo's lips spread into a grin.

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Alright, here comes the question,” Kylo said. “Rey, will you move in with me?”

Rey took one more deep breath before nodding. “Yes.”

Kylo launched forward and captured Rey's lips in a deep kiss. “See? It wasn't that hard.”

“You know what? In the end, it really wasn't,” Rey said, yelping when Kylo laid backwards and took her with him. “Kylo!”

“What?” Kylo asked innocently. “I just thought we might recreate what happened after the first time I asked you to move in with me.”

“You want to make out on the sofa like a couple of teenagers,” Rey said, laughing. “Well, I can't be entirely opposed to that.”

Rey shifted around so she was hovering over the top of him, and Kylo looked up at her with a large smile. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Rey said, leaning down to kiss him. “But I'm not making out with you until I'm unpacked.”

Kylo groaned. “It's eight o'clock on a Saturday night. Can't we save that for tomorrow?”

“Do you want me to change my mind? Because until all my stuff is unpacked, I could change my mind.”

Kylo immediately sat them up, shaking his head. “No ma'am, I do not want you changing your mind. Where do we start?”

Rey laughed and stood up, walking around the sofa and heading down the hall. “Well, the room where all my stuff is might be a good place to start. By the way, I'm taking that empty room on the south end of the third floor hallway to make my library in.”

“You can do anything you want to this house, sweetheart,” Kylo said, standing up and trailing after her. “Absolutely anything.”

Chapter Text

Rey stood in front of the mirror and looked at her reflection, sighing heavily. “Ugh, this is not right. Jess, why isn't this right?”

Jessika walked up behind her and put her hands on Rey's shoulders, looking at the reflection before them. “One, you're not used to having your hair down, so you think it looks funny. Two, we really do need to change the clothes. Connix?”

“On it!” came Connix's voice from somewhere behind them, and Rey knew she would pick something good from her new wardrobe.

“Jess, I am so nervous right now I think I could throw up,” Rey said, and Jessika just smiled.

“Don't worry, I was too,” Jessika said. “Graduation is a big deal.”

“But like, I already went through this with my Bachelors,” Rey said. “I know how this goes. Why is this one making me so nervous?”

“Because Kylo is going to be there,” Jessika said softly. “Because you know that you'll be in those lecture halls in the fall semester, just in a completely different way. Because this is when you stop being a student and start being an adult. It's truly terrifying, Rey.”

“Alright, what about this?” Connix said, coming over to the mirror with a dark purple silk dress.

Jessika took it from her and held it up in front of Rey. The dress fell about three inches below her knee, with a scoop neck and cap sleeves. Rey remembered Leia coming up to her with it, remembered feeling the silk with her fingers, before Mon Mothma had chimed in that she thought the dress would look great on her. She'd tried it on and it had. It was the one thing she'd bought that day that she thought she would have found a way to buy if she hadn't had Kylo's money to spend.

“Let me try it on,” Rey said, taking the dress and stepping into the en suite. She took off the dress that she was wearing and hung it back up, then took the silk dress off the hanger and put it on. She stared at herself in the mirror for a few moments before stepping back into the bedroom. “Jess, will you zip me up?”

Jessika walked over to her and helped zip up the back of the dress, and then walked Rey back in front of the mirror. “You look gorgeous.”

“You really do,” Connix agreed. “A perfect dress for everything that's going to be happening after graduation.”

“I wish someone would tell me what that is,” Rey said, turning around to look at them. “Come on, girls, please? I need to prepare myself for it.”

Connix looked over at Jessika, and Jessika sighed. “It's not going to be a proposal, I promise you that. It's something for the whole family. Everyone wants to be able to celebrate your achievement, and well, it's been made possible.”

Rey groaned. “A room at Jakku again?”

Jessika and Connix shared another look. “It's the only place in town that's big enough to hold all of us and fancy enough to suit Leia's demands.”

“Leia's?” Rey asked.

“She's the one who put all of this together, not Kylo,” Jessika said. “As far as I know, Kylo has been told to wear a nice suit and escort you there and that's it.”

“Rey, it'll be fun,” Connix said. “You'll get to sit back, relax, have a glass of wine, and eat some good food. That's all you should be doing after graduation. And Kylo will be right by your side the whole time. It'll be great.”

Rey went to protest when she caught sight of the clock hanging on the wall. “Oh god, we've only got half an hour until we've got to leave and we're not even done with my hair! And what shoes am I going to wear?”

“Connix, you take the shoes, I'll work on her hair?” Jessika said, and Connix nodded.

“Good plan,” Connix said, heading for the closet.

“Come on, Rey,” Jessika said, leading her over to the elaborate black mahogany vanity Kylo had bought Rey. “We'll get your hair done in time, I promise.”

Chapter Text

The melee after graduation was something that Kylo was still familiar with even after all these years. Rey had experienced it for the first time when she had graduated with her Bachelors, and that was when Luke let her in on the Skywalker family secret. Bramlage Coliseum, where the ceremony was held, was right next to the stadium, and most of the crowd headed in that direction after the ceremony was held. But the Skywalker secret was to head in the other direction and meet up at Brandeberry Indoor Complex, where hardly anyone was around.

It had been agreed that everyone would meet up at Jakku following the ceremony, and that Kylo would meet Rey and escort her there, so Kylo found himself standing alone near the Brandeberry Indoor Complex, wondering where Rey was. He checked his watch a few times to realize he'd been standing there for almost half an hour, and so he pulled his phone out of his pocket and texted Rey.

At Brandeberry. Where are you?

Rey texted him back quickly. Hiding in Bramlage until the photographers leave. Sorry, should have texted you.

As soon as he read the word photographers, Kylo started to run. He got Rey's exact location from her and then texted Snap. He'd had Snap wait at the car, so he quickly directed him to where Rey was and that there was a situation needing his attention. Snap was a fabulous bodyguard, and he really deserved a raise again, because by the time that Kylo got to the entrance/exit where Rey was, all of the photographers had been pushed back, event security working with Snap to keep them away from the entrance.

The familiar clicks of cameras going off greeted Kylo as he walked up to the building and went inside, where he found Rey panicked and surrounded by Finn and Jessika. “Rey?”

At the sound of her name, Rey looked up and ran into Kylo's arms, burying her face in his neck. “How did they know I was graduating today?” she mumbled into his skin, and Kylo just held her tighter.

“I'm sure someone in your class tipped off someone,” Kylo said, pressing a kiss to her hair. “I should have known this would happen. I'm so sorry, darling. I should have been with you.”

“Not your fault,” Rey mumbled.

“Anything involving photographers is always going to be my fault,” Kylo said as Rey pulled back and he got a good look at her. “You look beautiful.”

“I probably look like a wreck now,” Rey said.

“No, you don't,” Kylo said, looking past her to Jessika and Finn. “Back me up here?”

“Kylo's right,” Jessika said. “You've just been panicked, not crying. No makeup smudges or anything. Come here and I'll fix your hair, and then you can face those photographers with confidence.”

Rey looked at Kylo and he nodded, so Rey headed over to Jessika as Finn came over to him.

“I wish there was some way to keep those photographers out of her life,” Finn said bitterly. “They really bother her.”

“Unfortunately, I can't make that happen,” Kylo said, sighing heavily. “No matter how much I would like to.”

“Well, can you at least try to keep them away from my wedding?” Finn asked, looking over at Kylo. “The last thing I want is to walk out of the church with my wife and be greeted by the paparazzi.”

“I'll work on that,” Kylo said. “We might have to threaten not attending your wedding if they won't agree to stay away. But of course we'd slip in somehow. We wouldn't miss it for anything.”

“Well, I'd hope not. Jess wants Rey to be her maid of honor,” Finn said, “and I was going to ask you to be one of my groomsmen.”

Kylo looked over at Finn in shock. “Me?”

“I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous. Four years ago, I would have rather killed you. But knowing what I now know about you, about what you've been through, and realizing how much you truly love her, I've come around. Plus you treat Jess fabulously as a boss, and we've all spent enough time together that I now consider you a friend.” Finn looked over at Kylo and shrugged. “So what do you say?”

“I say I'd be honored to,” Kylo said, holding out a hand to Finn. “And I'm glad we've finally reached the point of friends.”

“Me too,” Finn said, shaking his hand. “Now let's get our girls to Jakku.”

Kylo looked up to see Rey and Jessika walking towards them, Rey with a shaky smile on her face. “Ready to get out of here?”

“Yes,” Rey said tentatively. “Just stay close.”

“I wouldn't dream of being anywhere else,” Kylo said, drawing Rey close to him. “Shall we all walk out together?”

“That would be nice,” Jessika said, linking arms with Finn. “Now let's go before Leia starts going crazy because we're so late.”

“At least we have an excuse,” Kylo said as they walked towards the door.

“Do you actually think she'd listen to an excuse today? Because I don't,” Jessika said.

“What I am getting myself into?” Rey wondered.

“You'll see,” the other three said at the same time.

Chapter Text

They'd been at Jakku for an hour. They'd had wonderful food and good wine and nice conversation. Everyone had congratulated Rey on her achievement and wanted to see her degree. Luke looked extremely proud. Kylo was seated right next to her, but he gave off no indication of what was to come.

Basically, every little bit of it made Rey's anxiety jump through the roof.

“Kylo,” she whispered. “When is whatever's going to happen going to happen? Because my anxiety is through the roof and I'm terrified.”

Kylo set down his utensils and turned to Rey, wrapping her up in a big hug. “No need to be anxious, I promise.”

“Well, can you tell your mother to get on with it already? I'm terrified.”

Kylo nodded and stood up, walking around the table to where Leia was sitting. Rey watched as he bent down and talked to her, Leia's gaze shifting over to Rey for a few moments before nodding. Kylo came back over to the table and gave Rey a soft kiss.

“I'm going to be gone for a little while. I promise you that I'll be back as soon as I can.”

“Kylo, what is going on?” Rey pleaded.

“You're going to love it,” Kylo said. “Trust me?”

It took a moment, but Rey eventually nodded and Kylo gave her another kiss before walking away. She noticed that Han went with him, wherever it was he was going, and she sighed heavily. Whatever this was, she was most definitely not going to like it.

Luke came over to sit in Kylo's chair while he was gone, engaging Rey in conversation to keep her distracted from the fact that something obviously big was about to happen to her. Rey enjoyed the insights into what being a professor at K-State was going to look like, and she committed them to memory even though she wasn't really paying attention to them at the moment.

All she could think about was what was about to happen.

Luke reached out and put a hand on her shoulder, making Rey look at him. “Rey, nothing bad is about to happen, trust me.”

“You know I hate things like this,” Rey said, her voice trembling. “Why did you let Leia do this?”

“When my sister gets an idea in her head, it's best just to get out of the way and let it happen,” Luke said. “Besides, I thought this was a good idea and was happy to help with it.”

“You helped with it?”

“We all did. Everyone who is here,” Luke said, squeezing Rey's shoulder gently. “It's going to be alright, Rey. Trust me.”

Rey forced herself to take a couple of deep breaths. “It's not something horrible. It's not something I'm going to hate.”

“Absolutely not,” Luke said. “We wouldn't do that to you and you know that.”

“Well, when I'm panicked and paranoid I don't know these things,” Rey said, taking another couple of deep breaths. “This whole day has been so overwhelming with graduating, and then the photographers, and now I've been sitting here for ages just waiting for this big surprise that everyone's been alluding to for weeks and I am so fucking terrified Luke. I have worked myself into a terrified state on one of the most important days of my life. Can we please get this over with so that I can calm down?”

“As soon as Kylo and Han get back, we will reveal the surprise,” Luke said, looking over at Leia. “Leia, as soon as they get back, we're doing this.”

“I wanted it to be after dessert,” Leia said.

“Rey needs it to happen as soon as they're back,” Luke said, nodding towards Rey. “She's utterly terrified right now.”

“Oh, Rey, honey, you have nothing to be terrified about,” Leia soothed. “I would never arrange for something terrifying to happen.”

“I know that Leia, but the day's been so overwhelming already and now I'm just in this panicked and terrified state and I can't get out of it,” Rey said. “I need this to be over with so I can breathe again.”

Leia went to say something, but Han walked back into the room and Leia's attention turned to him. “Is it ready?”

“Yes,” Han said. “It's ready and waiting for after dessert.”

“We're not doing it after dessert anymore,” Leia said, standing up. “We're doing it now.”

“Now?”

“Rey needs us to do it now,” Leia said, turning to the rest of the table. “Come on everyone. Let's go give Rey her surprise.”

Luke helped Rey up out of her chair and let her take his arm as they walked around the length of the table towards the door. Kylo was standing right outside of the room, and he took up Rey's other side, letting her link her arm with his.

Rey let them lead her towards the kitchens, and she got confused. “We're going to the kitchens?”

“Only to get through to the back of the restaurant,” Kylo said. “We didn't want to do this out front where just anyone could see.”

Rey felt a new wave of worry rush over her. “What is so important it has to be done outside?”

“Well, we couldn't really do this in the restaurant,” Luke said. “You'll see.”

They made their way through the kitchens and to a door, and then both Luke and Kylo let go of her. “I've got to cover your eyes,” Kylo said. “Luke is going to take you by the hand and lead you out the door.”

“Oh my God, what the hell did all of you do?” Rey exclaimed.

“Well, you're about to find out,” Luke said as Kylo stepped behind Rey and covered her eyes. “Alright take a step forward and then there's a step down, good, next step, good, and one more, good. Alright, is everyone in position?”

“Yes,” came Leia's voice.

“Ready?” Kylo whispered.

“No,” Rey answered, but Kylo took his hands away from her eyes anyway.

Rey let her eyes adjust for a moment before registering what was in front of her. “YOU BOUGHT ME A CAR?!”

“A brand new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze,” Han said. “Picked it out myself.”

Rey spun around and glared at Kylo. “I told you I didn't want you to buy me a car.”

“I didn't,” Kylo said, holding up his hands. “I did not contribute one dollar to this venture. It was all them. My part was just getting you here.”

Rey turned back around and looked at everyone gathered around the car. Han and Leia, Padmé and Anakin, Luke, Finn and Jessika, Poe and Connix. She felt tears come to her eyes. “You all really bought me a car?”

“Yes, sweetheart,” Leia said, coming around the car to give her a hug. “The car is all paid for, so you don't have to worry about a car payment, and now you can get rid of that piece of junk you've been driving for ten years.”

“Yes, Rey, I will happily get rid of that thing for you,” Finn said. “That thing isn't even worth trying to sell. It needs to go straight to the junkyard.”

Rey looked around at everyone again before turning to Kylo and burying her face in his neck, tears starting to fall. Kylo just held her tight, giving everyone a smile. “It's been a pretty overwhelming day for her.”

“Of course it has,” Padmé said. “We understand.”

“Of course we do,” Anakin said. “How about we all go back inside and when they're ready, Kylo and Rey will join us?”

“That's a great idea, Dad,” Luke said, giving Rey a gentle pat on the back before walking around her and Kylo and back into the restaurant. The rest followed suit until it was just Kylo, Rey, and the new car.

“Do you want to take the car for a spin?” Kylo asked softly. “I've got the keys.”

Rey pulled back and looked at him, sniffling. “They bought me a car. I know how expensive these cars are. I've been doing research. Kylo, they bought me a car.”

“It was Mama's idea,” Kylo said. “She said that a monumental achievement needed a monumental gift. She got everyone else in on it. I was told that I wasn't allowed to participate in this venture because you would automatically assume that I paid for the whole thing, which of course you did. But I promise you, this was all them. I haven't given you your graduation present yet.”

Rey reached up to wipe away some of her tears. “What's your present?”

Kylo reached into his pocket and pulled out a small wrapped box, holding it out to Rey. “I promise it's not an engagement ring.”

Rey sighed and took the box, quickly unwrapping it. She opened the little box and found a pair of black pearl earrings with a matching pendant. “They're gorgeous.”

“They're from the Seychelles,” Kylo said softly. “I thought it would be beautiful and sentimental.”

Rey smiled and closed the box, leaning in to kiss Kylo. “I'll have to wear them the next time we go there.”

“Oh, there's going to be a next time, is there?” Kylo teased.

“There better be,” Rey said, gently nudging him. “Now come on, let's take my new car for a ride.”

“Sure about that?” Kylo asked.

“Positive,” Rey said. “Hand over the keys, mister.”

Kylo pulled the keys from his pocket and handed them over to Rey, who immediately turned around and got in the driver's side. Kylo jogged around to the passenger's side and got in, and Rey turned the key and brought the engine to life.

“It's going to be so nice not to have to crank the engine twenty times before it'll start,” Rey said, leaning back in her seat. “I'm also really loving this seat. It's a nice upgrade.”

“Rey, anything would have been a nice upgrade from the piece of junk,” Kylo said as he buckled himself in. “So, where are we going?”

“Not far,” Rey said, buckling herself in. “I'm sure that they'll want us to be back before dessert.”

“It's your celebration,” Kylo said. “I think you can do whatever you want today.”

Rey grinned. “Then let's go for a long drive.”

“Whatever you wish, my lady.”

Chapter Text

There was something familiar about being in the back of a taxi being driven through the streets of London. Rey didn't remember the city very well – she had been only five when they'd moved to America – but memories were being drawn up with every place she recognized. She'd been born in the City of Westminster, a borough of London, and she remembered walking with her mother past the Palace of Westminster, where the Houses of Parliament were, down to Westminster Abbey, where they'd look at the tombs of famous people. It had been an idyllic start to her childhood, one that went downhill completely when they moved to Kansas on her father's whim.

“Where are we staying?” Rey asked, looking over at Kylo.

“The Milestone Hotel,” Kylo replied. “It's very close to Kensington Palace.”

Rey laughed. “I see. Makes a sneaky visit easier?”

“Something like that,” Kylo said, wrapping an arm around Rey's shoulders. “Right now, I'm just enjoying a drive around London.”

“I'm remembering little things,” Rey said. “Not much though. Just walking through the streets with my mum near the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. They're nice memories. I kind of forgot that I had those.”

“Maybe we can recreate some of those memories,” Kylo said, smiling at her.

“I would rather not ruin them with groupies chasing us down,” Rey said, putting her head on Kylo's shoulder. “But thanks for the offer.”

“Do you think your accent will get heavier since we're here?” Kylo wondered. “Because it's sexy enough as it is, but if it got deeper...”

Rey elbowed him in the ribs. “I don't know and stop fantasizing. It'll be back to normal when we get back to Kansas.”

“Good point,” Kylo said, pressing a kiss to her hair. “Is there anywhere particular you'd like to go?”

Rey yawned. “Just to the hotel. I'm tired.”

“Okay,” Kylo said, asking the driver to take them to the hotel. “We've got that dinner tonight with the rest of the Jedi Order, remember.”

“And we've got to get all dressed up for that, right?”

“Yep,” Kylo said. “We're having dinner at The Colony Club. One of the most exclusive restaurants in Mayfair.”

Rey sighed. “I know that this is all part of being your girlfriend, and I'm not saying I'm not willing to do it, but sometimes I really just don't want to do it.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Sleep off my jetlag.”

“You can do that after dinner,” Kylo said. “You can sleep as long as you want after we get back to the hotel. There's nothing in the morning that you have to go to.”

“Well, I did want to watch your interviews, but I guess I don't have to,” Rey said, yawning. “I'm sure I'll love dinner. Duchess Satine will be there for me to talk to, and I'm sure the other wives will be nice, but I just get nervous about this stuff and don't want to do it.”

“You think I'm not nervous?” Kylo laughed. “I'm having dinner with The Jedi Order, Rey! I'm nervous as fuck. And somehow I'm going to have to stay totally cool and calm and not let my nerves show, because not only am I having dinner with them, I have to play a concert with them on live international television!”

Rey snuggled closer to him. “I understand, babe. And I'll be here to support you all the way through it.”

“Except when you're asleep tomorrow morning.”

“Except when I'm asleep tomorrow morning, but you're only doing interviews about the books then. You'll be asked about the concert, sure, but it'll mostly be about the books. You can do those in your sleep now.”

“And then tomorrow night is our sneaky visit,” Kylo said softly. “We'll even get to meet the kids.”

“Charlotte and George?” Rey whispered. “Aw, I love meeting little kids. Makes me want some.”

“Is that so?” Kylo asked.

“Yeah,” Rey said. “But like, not the conventional way. I want to adopt a couple of kids. I want to give them a better life than they are facing.”

“That's a good idea,” Kylo said. “We'll have to talk about that more later.”

“Not until there's a ring on my finger,” Rey warned. “I'm not becoming a mother until I'm married.”

“I know that,” Kylo said. “We've already discussed that. I just meant the adoption thing. This is the first I've heard of that. I want to discuss that further at some point.”

“Okay,” Rey said. “We can do that. But in the mean time, I'll be happy to meet the kids on our sneaky visit.”

Kylo's phone rang at that moment, and he fished it out of his pocket and answered it without looking. “Hello?”

“You really are a fucking asshole, you know that? Hux was right about you this whole time.”

Kylo sighed heavily. “Hello to you too, Phasma.”

“Do you know the amount of shit I have had to hear about this fucking Jedi Order concert? It's been a fuck ton of a lot. And it's all because you're a fucking prick, Kylo. You negotiated out of the fucking contract? Do you even realize how much we need you right now and instead of helping us out, you're going on stage with a band that broke up before we were even born?”

“Phasma, I have said it before and I will say it again. I am no longer a member of First Order, I am never going to be a member of First Order again, and I am doing this one off concert with The Jedi Order because I was asked to do it. You don't say no to opportunities like this.”

“The fuck you don't. I would have said no to them in a heartbeat. Washed up old son of a bitches. They don't need to be playing concerts anymore, let alone one with you.”

“And that right there is why you don't understand what music truly is,” Kylo said. “The Jedi Order is the greatest band of all time, Phasma. They haven't played together in almost fifty years. This is a one off thing. They are not getting back together, I am not becoming part of their band. They want to pay tribute to a member of the band who died, and they asked me to be part of it. That is all this is.”

“But we need you,” Phasma begged. “We need you so much, Kylo. Please, I will do anything. Just help us.”

“You'll do anything?”

“Yes.”

“Stop calling me,” Kylo said, ending the conversation.

“Phasma this time?”

“Yep,” Kylo said. “What a fucking bitch.”

The taxi pulled up in front of the Milestone Hotel, and Rey disentangled herself from Kylo's embrace. “Come on. Let's get settled in our room and then you can rant about Phasma and Hux and their stupidity all you want until it's time to get ready for dinner.”

Kylo laughed. “You know me so well.”

“Of course I do,” Rey said. “I'm used to hearing hours of it after every phone call from either one of them.”

Chapter Text

Dinner with the Jedi Order at The Colony Club went well, just as Rey had suspected it would. Kylo spent the whole dinner talking music with Mace Windu, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and Old Ben, and Rey had been introduced to the other wives by Duchess Satine and spent the dinner talking to them about what it was like to be in a relationship with a famous musician.

The next morning, as promised, Kylo let Rey sleep. He went off to do his interviews and returned after lunch to find Rey just waking up. “You're just getting up? Rey, it's nearly two o'clock.”

“I know,” Rey said, stretching as she sat up. “I set the alarm on my phone. I'll be ready by the time we have to leave for the venue.”

“The venue is Wembley Stadium, Rey. It's like the most famous stadium in the world.”

“I am English, Kylo. I do happen to know that,” Rey said, climbing out of the bed and walking over to him, pulling him into a soft kiss. “Stop freaking out.”

“I'm not freaking out.”

“You're totally freaking out,” Rey said, smiling at him. “This is only a run through. The concert is tomorrow.”

“Run through or not, this is the first time I'm going to be playing with The Jedi Order,” Kylo said plainly. “This is like the second biggest moment of my life.”

Rey tilted her head. “And what is the first?”

Kylo broke out into a grin. “Meeting you.”

“Good answer,” Rey said, kissing him again quickly. “Go lounge about on the sofa and watch some television and relax. This run through is going to get your adrenaline running enough. I'm sure William and Catherine will appreciate you working the children up tonight before they go to bed.”

“I'm not going to work the children up! I promise!”

“Sure you're not,” Rey called out as she headed towards the shower. “I've seen what you're like after gigs at Maz's Cantina. I can only imagine how worked up this is going to make you.”

“Give me a little bit of credit here,” Kylo responded. “I'm a professional at this! I know how to manage myself.”

“That's exactly why your hands are shaking,” Rey yelled, making Kylo look down at his hands.

“Fuck,” he exclaimed when he noticed they were shaking, taking a deep breath and walking over to the sofa. He grabbed the remote for the television, found some mindless program on the BBC, and stretched out on the sofa. By the time Rey walked back into the room after her shower, Kylo was asleep.

She let him sleep until just before four, when she gently woke him up and calmed him down when he thought he'd overslept. “I wouldn't have let you do that, Kylo.”

Kylo climbed off the sofa and headed towards the closet like a man on a mission. “I'm getting dressed. Are you ready?”

“Ready and waiting,” Rey said, smoothing out the skirt of her brand new dress and sitting down on the sofa. “I'm even wearing one of your Barbie doll dresses.”

Kylo came walking back to the sofa with his shirt half-on, half-off. “Do not call them Barbie doll dresses. One, you picked them out, not me. Two, I did not tell you to buy dresses, you decided to buy them all on your own. And three, you look absolutely stunningly beautiful in them. Barbie dolls are horribly designed pieces of plastic that help body shame little girls into thinking they need gigantic breasts and a waist they can fit between their hands. I would never want you to be a Barbie doll, Rey. I want you just the way you are.”

When Rey went to speak, she found it difficult. “You're going to make me cry.”

“That's the last thing in the world I want,” Kylo said, exasperated. “Am I not making my point clearly?”

“No, they'd be happy tears,” Rey choked out. “You made it beautifully. I'll stop calling them Barbie doll dresses.”

“Thank you,” Kylo said, walking over to Rey and bending down to kiss her before heading back towards the closet. “And you do look beautiful. I love that shade of blue on you. I believe it's called cornflower blue.”

“Since when do you know about shades of blue?” Rey called out.

“Since Jessika has been going crazy with wedding plans in front of me. And since I'm the only one around, I'm the one she bounces questions off of. 'Kylo, what do you think of this color? What about this flower arrangement?' I think this is shaping up to be the society wedding of Manhattan, and I don't think we even have a society in Manhattan.”

Rey laughed. “Her parents are pretty well known figures in Manhattan. I suppose it is sort of like a society wedding. They want Jess to have everything she wants, no matter the cost. Finn has dubbed it the wedding of the century.”

“It is also that,” Kylo called out. “Or, well, it will be until our wedding.”

“We are not having a huge wedding like Jess and Finn are,” Rey said. “And no matter how much money gets thrown at you, we are not having it photographed for one of the tabloid magazines.”

“I already knew that,” Kylo called out. “I'm totally fine with us having a small wedding. We just need to have it all indoors because otherwise there will likely be photographers in trees and possibly helicopters flying overhead trying to get pictures.”

“Ugh, photographers,” Rey murmured, sighing heavily. “Are there going to be any photographers at the run through?”

“Just one hired by the band,” Kylo called out. “There will be the usual outside, but inside, just the one. And he won't be taking pictures of you.”

“Good,” Rey said, standing up when Kylo came walking back into the room. She took one look at him before shaking her head. “Absolutely not.”

“What?” Kylo said, looking down at his black trousers, white button down shirt, and green tie.

“I'm dressed in cornflower blue and you're wearing a green tie?”

Kylo nodded and immediately started to take off the tie. “Right. You're right. Be right back.”

Rey stood there and a few moments later Kylo came back finishing up the Windsor knot on a deep blue tie. “I don't have a light blue tie with me.”

“This is fine,” Rey said, reaching for the purse Leia had told her to get because it matched the dress as Kylo got his wallet and made sure he had the room key. “Ready?”

“Not at all,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “But I'm going to do it anyway.”

Rey grinned at him and grabbed onto his elbow. “You're going to be fine. I'm the one who should be nervous. I'm meeting royalty tonight.”

“They're just like us,” Kylo said, as they walked out of the room. “Really, they are.”

Rey just shook her head. “Kylo, there's no one just like us.”

“Good point.”

Chapter Text

Rey was standing backstage watching Kylo and the Jedi Order work through the set list when she heard the voices. She closed her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths and then turned around and opened them. And there, heading towards the stage, were Hux and Phasma, being chased down by an assistant who was trying to figure out why they were there. Rey leaned over to Duchess Satine and told her she'd be right back, then walked over towards them. “What in the hell are you two doing here?”

“Aw, look, the girlfriend came too,” Hux said, leering at Rey. “And she's dressed sexier than I've ever seen her. Maybe I should leave Phasma here and you and I can jus—”

Rey slapped Hux hard before he could say another syllable. “Shut the fuck up now or I'll make sure you don't have a dick to fuck anyone with ever again.”

“Ooh, and you're in a fiesty mood tonight too,” Hux said, leering at her again. “But fine. Got to have that part of my anatomy working 'cause who can go a day without a good fuck.”

Phasma rolled her eyes and turned her attention to the stage. “So when do we go on?”

“You don't,” came Duchess Satine's voice, and Rey looked over her shoulder to see her approaching them. “We have been through this several times. The invitation was for Kylo only.”

“Which is complete bullshit!” Hux exclaimed. “We're a band! We do shit together, not apart.”

“Kylo is not a part of your band,” Rey said seriously. “Not anymore.”

“Right, right, he's the big famous author now,” Phasma said, rolling her eyes again. “You seriously think you can keep him away from us?”

“You think I'm keeping him away from you?” Rey burst out laughing. “I don't think I've heard anything that funny in a long time.”

“Excuse me,” Duchess Satine said, calling a security guard over. “I need you to escort these two from the building please.”

“You can't do that, bitch!” Hux called out.

“Watch me,” Duchess Satine counted back.

Someone had called the band off stage and Kylo and Old Ben approached them. “Rey?” Kylo called out. “What's going on?”

“The idiots are here,” Rey said, turning to face Kylo. “Deal with this, please.”

Kylo nodded and Rey walked away to join the other wives, and after an exchange of looks with Obi-Wan, Duchess Satine joined her.

“What do you want, Hux?” Kylo asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Your girlfriend is nothing but a little cocktease in that dress,” Hux said, leering in her direction. “Even if she threatened to rip my dick off. I would have gotten somewhere with her if that bitch hadn't tried to kick us out.”

“Do not call my wife a bitch,” Old Ben warned.

“I highly doubt you would have gotten anywhere with Rey,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “And how the hell did you get in here anyway?”

“Yes, how did you get in here, because I have spent the last three months making it very clear to you that you were not invited to this event,” Old Ben said.

Phasma laughed. “Did you really think that was going to stop Palpatine? He talked to someone this morning who got us backstage passes. Of course, Hux took that to mean we'd be performing as well. I just figured we could at least have a conversation about it once we got here.”

Kylo watched as Phasma waved the pass that was around her neck. “For fuck's sake, Phasma.”

“You are not performing,” Old Ben said, breaking away from Kylo and walking over to Phasma, taking the pass from around her neck and yanking away the one around Hux's neck as well. “I don't know who your manager talked to, but it's my decision. You are not welcome.”

“Well, yeah, I kind of figured Hux just fucked that up,” Phasma said, rolling her eyes. “But, Hux, old man, can you give me a minute with Kylo?”

Kylo watched Old Ben's eyes flare before quickly stepping forward. “It's alright. I'll talk to her. Why don't you find someone to escort the two of them out of here?”

Old Ben nodded after a moment. Phasma motioned for Kylo to move away from where they were standing and Kylo obligingly did. “What do you want, Phasma?”

“Your help,” Phasma said, her voice deadly serious. “The band is about to fall apart and I'm afraid Hux has just made it worse.”

“That is not my problem anymore,” Kylo said, his voice just as serious. “I'm not part of First Order anymore.”

“Except for the fact that you'll always be part of First Order,” Phasma said, taking a deep breath. “I'm not asking for tours or appearances or magazine covers or any of that. I'm not even asking you to be part of the band again. I'm asking for you to come into the studio and straighten out this album we're working out. Full producer credit, because Hux had this absurd idea that he'd produce this album and it's going to shit faster than he can hit on your girlfriend. If this album is as much of a disaster as the last one was, my meal ticket is gone and I'm going to be in deep shit.”

Kylo brought a hand up to rub through his hair. “You want me to produce the new First Order album.”

“Yes,” Phasma said. “Please. I'll beg if I have to.”

“What does Hux think about this?”

“He hates it, but he knows it's necessary,” Phasma said. “We started discussing it when he told me he was out of his depth.”

“Why should I do this? You two do more to make my life a living hell more than anything else. I want you two out of my life.”

“We're never going to be out of your life,” Phasma pointed out. “Hux won't let that happen. He won't admit it to you, but he considers you the brother he never had.”

“What?” Kylo said in disbelief.

“You may have been miserable in the band,” Phasma said, “but Hux and I enjoyed the fucking hell out of it. We were a great trio, Kylo. And that's why you're the only one we trust with this. Please help us.”

“You're broke, aren't you?” Kylo asked after a moment. “You and Hux both. You've pissed away all the money.”

“Yes,” Phasma admitted quietly. “That's why we need this album to be a hit. You can make it that.”

Kylo paused and looked over at Rey before sighing heavily. “I'll think about it. But that's all I promise you.”

“I'll take that,” Phasma said, nodding. “I know you hate us, but please, try to look past that and think of the legacy of the band. You'll always be a part of that.”

“I said I'll think about it,” Kylo said. “Now get the fuck out of here.”

Kylo walked over to Rey and wrapped his arms around her waist, watching with her as Hux and Phasma were escorted out.

“You alright?” Rey asked softly.

“Yeah,” Kylo said. “Just something I need to talk to you about later.”

Rey frowned. “I don't like the sound of that.”

“It's not that bad.”

“But it's bad.”

“It involves them,” Kylo murmured.

“So it's bad.”

“I'm torn on this one.”

“Well,” Rey said, “then we'll talk about it.”

“Once we're home,” Kylo said. “I want to enjoy the rest of this trip.”

Rey nodded. “Alright.”

Old Ben walked up to them and smiled. “Alright, that disturbance is taken care of, so let's get back to rehearsal.”

Kylo smiled and kissed Rey softly. “Back to work.”

“I'll be watching,” Rey said, smiling at him.

Chapter Text

The concert went wonderfully. Kylo didn't miss a note, which he'd been particularly worried about, and the fact that it was on live international television didn't terrify him as much as he thought it would. Once he was up on that stage, playing for a huge audience, he'd remembered why that had always thrilled him, why touring was always his favorite part of being in First Order. Playing for fans and listening to them sing your songs back at you was something Kylo would never tire of, even if he was almost certain this was the last time he'd ever experience it.

Hux and Phasma, thankfully, were not heard from on the day.

But as soon as Kylo and Rey returned home to Manhattan, Phasma started calling multiple times daily. But Kylo didn't have an answer for her yet, so he didn't answer the phone. Rey knew what ringtone Kylo had assigned to her and Hux by then, and three days after they got home, she finally snapped.

“Answer your fucking phone and find out what she wants,” Rey growled, picking Kylo's phone off the coffee table and tossing it across the room at him.

Kylo caught the phone and set it down. “No. I know what she wants.”

“Is this about what she said to you at Wembley? Are you finally ready to talk to me about that?” Rey asked.

Kylo sighed heavily and walked over to where Rey was sitting on the sofa, sitting down next to her. “You're not going to like it.”

“Obviously, or you would have told me by now,” Rey said, closing her book and setting it on the table. “Tell me.”

Kylo put his feet up on the table and Rey slid over to settle against his side. “Their new album is in trouble.”

“They're recording a new album? I thought priority number one would have been to replace the kid who quit.”

“Well, apparently not,” Kylo said, sighing again. “Hux decided that he would produce the new album, and that's turned into an absolute disaster as one would expect.”

“Who on earth decided that that would be a good idea?”

“I have a feeling that Palpatine doesn't say no to them, which is a problem,” Kylo said, leaning his head so it was resting on Rey's. “Phasma wants me to come straighten the album out. Full producer credit, no rejoining the band. She knows I can make them a hit album, which they need because they've both pissed all the money they've made away.”

Rey's eyes widened. “They're broke? They've got to have made as much money as you did and they're fucking broke?”

“Never, ever, tell them that I told you this, but I made a hell of a lot more money than they did.”

“How?”

“Producer credits on certain songs. Songwriting credits. Actually playing instruments on the albums. You'd be surprised how they breakdown who gets paid what from album sales. The artists actually make very little based on album sales.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously,” Kylo said. “Anyway, my first instinct was to tell Phasma to go fuck herself and figure this out themselves, but then she said something that made me pause.”

“What could that possibly be?”

“I'll always be a part of the legacy of the band. And do I really want the legacy of the band to be what's going to happen if I let this album fail.”

“It's not your band anymore, Kylo,” Rey said. “If the album fails, it's got nothing to do with you.”

“You know as well as I do that everyone thinks First Order's gone to shit since I left,” Kylo pointed out.

“That's because they have.”

“Yeah, well, that's my legacy. Do I want it to stay that way or do I want to make it better?”

Rey sat up and looked over at him. “You've already made up your mind, haven't you? You're going to do this.”

“Yeah, I think I am,” Kylo said, taking a deep breath. “I didn't actually realize that till right now though.”

Rey groaned and ran her hands over her face. “What happened to making sure they stayed the fuck out of our lives?”

“I think they've demonstrated that that task is impossible.”

“Kylo.”

“Rey.”

“I'm being serious. I want nothing to do with them.”

“I don't want anything to do with them either, but they're not going away any time soon. Especially if I turn them down. Because I just know Phasma will go to the press about it, and then there will be immense pressure on me to do this.”

Rey sighed heavily and collapsed into Kylo's side. “I'm worried about you when it comes to them. They were part of a really dark time in your life and I'm afraid that they're going to drag you back into that.”

“They're not,” Kylo said, bending down to press a kiss to the top of Rey's head. “I've got you here to anchor me in the light.”

“Promise?”

“I promise,” Kylo said, kissing the top of her head again. “I'm never going back to that life again, Rey. Spending a couple of weeks in New York straightening out an album will not change that.”

“What happened to doubling down on working on the next book after the film premieres?” Rey asked.

“Shit, the film premieres!” Kylo said, jumping up, making Rey fall down to the sofa. “Sorry. Fuck. The film premieres. Those start in two weeks!”

“I am well aware of that,” Rey said, sitting back up. “I'm terrified of them.”

Kylo ran his hands through his hair and sat down on the coffee table, reaching out for Rey's hands. “Hey. I'm going to be right beside you the whole time. It'll be just fine.”

“I know. Still terrified.” Rey took a deep breath and tried to smile. “I want you to do something for me.”

“Anything.”

“Have Jess come to the premieres with us. I know she's coming on the trip, but I want her at the actual premieres. I know that you're going to get taken away from me to go mingle with studio people and I don't want to be left all alone.”

Kylo stared at her for a moment before nodding. “You're probably right about that. You're always thinking of things that I never think of. Of course, baby. I'll arrange for it. Jess will love it.”

Rey sighed with relief. “Thank you.”

Kylo leaned forward and kissed Rey softly. “Anything for you,” he whispered before kissing her again. “Are you mad at me about this thing with Hux and Phasma?”

Rey sighed again. “I'm not mad. I just don't understand why you feel a need to help them.”

Kylo pulled back and reached out to tuck a lock of hair behind Rey's ear. “I'm not sure I can explain it to you. You want to be the best professor you can be, right? You want your students to think back on your classes and say, 'You know what? She was a great professor.' That's your legacy, and you'll work hard to make it happen. First Order is part of my legacy. It's just a much more public, worldwide legacy. And yes, I hope that someday I'm remembered more for the books and films than I am for the band, but the band is always going to be part of it.”

“You're right,” Rey said, chuckling. “That was a horrible explanation.”

Kylo laughed. “I really don't know how to explain it.”

“It's alright,” Rey said, standing up and pulling Kylo up with her. “I'm going to trust your judgment. But if you start giving me reasons to doubt that you're still on the side of light, as you put it, then I'm going straight to Leia and Han.”

Kylo wrapped his arms around Rey's waist and nodded. “I'm alright with that.”

“Okay then,” Rey said, smiling. “Go call Jess. I'm going to go figure out something to eat for dinner.”

“Take out from Corellia,” Kylo called out as he walked away. “We haven't had that in awhile.”

Rey grinned as she walked into the kitchen. “Sounds perfect!”

Chapter Text

“So, I think you're a pretty damn good screenwriter,” Rey said, kicking off her heels and collapsing onto the sofa in their hotel room. “The film was fantastic.”

“I agree,” Jessika said, sitting down next to Rey and grinning. “You've got one hell of a talent, boss.”

Kylo laughed. “I thank you both for being overly gracious. But really, I think the credit goes to the filmmakers and the actors.”

“Well, I for one cannot believe that you managed to get Ezra Bridger and Ahsoka Tano to play Hayden and Natalie,” Jessika said. “Academy Award winners! I mean, it's so awesome!”

“I didn't get anyone to do anything,” Kylo said, walking over to stand in front of them. “The casting was done entirely by Kanan and his crew.”

“And Kanan Jarrus!” Jessika exclaimed. “He's my favorite director!”

Kylo laughed again. “How much champagne did you have, Jess?”

Rey burst out laughing. “She had a lot.”

“So did you!” Jessika exclaimed, reaching out to shove at Rey's shoulder lightly. “Don't just throw me under the bus here.”

“I'm not!” Rey laughed. “I was just stating the truth.”

“Anyway,” Jessika said, turning her attention back to Kylo. “This cast is amazing. Hera Syndulla, Okadiah Garson, Denetrius Vidian, Lero Danthe! And I'll say it again, Ezra Bridger and Ahsoka Tano! Like do you even realize how many Academy Awards and Golden Globes and just nominations are among all of those people? Because it's in double digits. And that's like super, super impressive, Kylo.”

“I am aware of how amazing the cast is, yes,” Kylo said, smiling. “This whole thing is like a dream come true.”

“It is a dream come true,” Rey said, smiling back at him. “A dream you made come true.”

“Actually it's a dream the studio made come true,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “They're the reason the film was made.”

“It wouldn't have been made if you hadn't have written the book,” Rey said. “You made this happen.”

“She's totally right, you know,” Jessika said. “None of this would have happened if you hadn't have gotten that book written and published.”

“Whatever you say.” Kylo just shook his head. “I think it's time to get to bed, ladies.”

Jessika frowned but stood up. “Alright, you're kicking me out. I get it. I'm going to go call Finn.”

“Sounds good,” Rey called out.

“Don't forget that our flight is at eleven forty-five!” Jessika said as she reached the door. “So no sleeping in tomorrow!”

“All the more reason to go to bed now!” Kylo said as he walked towards the door. “Tell Finn hi!”

“I will!” Jessika said, walking out of the room and shutting the door behind her.

Kylo locked the door and put the chain on it before walking over to the sofa and sitting down next to Rey. “So be honest with me. What did you really think?”

“I think it was amazing,” Rey said, shifting over to lay her head on his shoulder. “The visuals were stunning, the different aliens looked fantastic and realistic, the acting was spot on, the music was wonderful, and your script was a fantastic adaptation of the book. I loved everything about it.”

A smile spread across Kylo's face. “I hope everyone else agrees with you.”

“Well, we'll pull up Rotten Tomatoes on the iPad tomorrow and we'll see what the critics think.”

Kylo laughed. “Rotten Tomatoes.”

“What? You go there to find out what the critics think before every movie we go see.”

“I know,” Kylo said, laughing some more. “I just never thought I'd ever go to the site to see what the critics thought about a film of mine. It's rather hysterical.”

“No, it's rather amazing,” Rey said, twisting around until she could press a kiss to Kylo's neck. “Just like you are.”

“You're the amazing one,” Kylo said, twisting his head until he could give Rey a proper kiss. “You're the one who put up with me while I wrote the script.”

“Well, what are friends for?”

“We're more than friends.”

“We weren't then.”

“Good point.”

Rey moved away and stood up, stretching. “Ugh, I've got to get out of this dress.”

“You need help?” Kylo asked, standing up.

Rey nodded and lifted her hair out of the way. “Undo the zipper please.”

Kylo moved behind her and slowly unzipped the dress, reaching out to caress the soft skin of her back. “You're so beautiful, Rey. You look wonderful in this dress.”

“I bet I look better without it,” Rey said, reaching up to slide the straps down her arms before letting the dress drop to the floor. She turned around to face Kylo in nothing but her lingerie. “What do you think?”

Kylo let his eyes travel up and down her body slowly before meeting her gaze. “I think you'd look sexy in a burlap sack. What's brought this on?”

“I don't know,” Rey said, stepping out of her dress and closing the distance between them. “But I'm going with it.”

Before Kylo could say anything, Rey captured his lips in a deep kiss. Kylo's arms slid around her waist and pulled her closer, prompting Rey to groan into the kiss. They kissed and kissed for several minutes before Rey pulled them apart, smiling at Kylo.

“Bed?”

“You sure?”

“Won't know if we don't try,” Rey said before nodding. “But yeah, I think I am.”

Kylo stared at Rey for a moment. “If you're not, it's totally okay.”

“Kylo, take me to bed.”

Kylo leaned forward and kissed Rey before swooping her up into his arms, making her laugh. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Rey said, smiling. “Bed. Now.”

“Yes ma'am.”

Chapter Text

Things were good. That was Rey's presiding thought about the previous six weeks, the time that had passed ever since that night in the hotel room in New York City when she'd let her guard down and finally had sex with Kylo again. Things were good. Good was good. Everything was going good.

And it terrified the hell out of her.

She walked out of BB-8's office got into her car, and she closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the seat and just sat there. This was what she wanted. This was what she'd always wanted. She was in love with the love of her life, she was settled into the job of her dreams, and this was life as she'd always imagined and dreamed it could be at this stage of her life.

So, she wondered, why was she so damn scared?

BB-8 had told her that it was just her past talking to her. That the shakiness of her childhood meant that subconsciously she was rejecting the happiness she had now. And she could see his point. She could see how that was true.

But she wasn't sure that was it.

And so she sat in her car, despite the fact that she was supposed to be headed home. It was Kylo's birthday, and she had made plans. She was going to cook him dinner, a special dinner, his favorite dinner from childhood, the one that she'd test cooked with Leia four times just to make sure she made it right. She was going to give him the present that she'd spent so much time dwelling on, the one that had to be perfect, because he gave her perfect presents so she should give him one too. And then they were probably going to go to bed and have sex because that's what they'd been doing practically every night since that night in New York City. And she didn't mind that; in fact, she was looking forward to it.

So why was she sitting in the car?

Rey didn't realize how long she sat there until her phone rang, and she scrambled to answer it. “Hello?”

“Rey? Where are you?” came Kylo's voice.

“Um,” Rey said, looking around and realizing that it was starting to get dark. “I'm, um, not at home.”

“Rey, is everything alright?” Kylo asked. “Because it doesn't sound like everything's okay.”

Rey swallowed hard. “I, um, I don't know, to be honest.”

“Where are you?” Kylo asked again.

Rey took a deep breath. “I'm sitting in my car in the parking lot at BB-8's.”

“BB-8's?” Kylo asked, surprised. “How long have you been sitting there?”

“Since my appointment ended,” Rey admitted, her voice small. “I lost track of time.”

“Rey, your appointment was at one-thirty. It's nearly nine.”

Rey glanced at the time and sighed. “I know.”

“What's going on?”

“I'm scared,” Rey whispered. “I'm scared of everything that's happening. You, work, life in general. It's all terrifying me.”

Kylo sighed. “Would you come home so we can talk about this in person?”

“I can't,” Rey said, shaking her head. “I can't get out of the car.”

Kylo was silent for a moment, and then Rey heard the sound of keys. “Then I'm coming to you.”

“Kylo, no,” Rey started, but Kylo had already hung up.

Rey sat there for another ten minutes or so until the passenger door of her car opened and Kylo got into it. She took a couple of deep breaths before looking over at him, and all she saw was concern in his eyes. “Hi.”

“Why are you scared?”

“I don't want to talk about it.”

“No, Rey, we need to,” Kylo said seriously. “Tell me, please. This is something we need to talk about.”

Rey sat there quietly and Kylo reached out and took her hand in his, gently massaging it with his fingers. “You really want to know what's wrong?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Things are good, Kylo,” Rey started, then took another deep breath. “I'd even go so far as to say they're great. Things in my life don't stay great. They always end in heartbreaking, tragic circumstances. I'm waiting for that to happen again.”

Kylo sighed heavily. “You're afraid I'm going to leave you again.”

“Yes,” Rey said softly. “I mean, you're Kylo fucking Ren. What could you possibly want with a nobody like me?”

“Never call yourself a nobody,” Kylo said, bringing Rey's hand up to kiss. “You're my world, Rey. Not a nobody. Never a nobody. And I want no one but you.”

“Kylo...”

“I made the biggest mistake of my life when I walked away from you,” Kylo said softly, looking deep into Rey's eyes. “Leaving you is the single biggest regret I will ever have. The fact that we've reached this place, the fact that I've got you back...I can't even comprehend how that's happened some days. I'm just so thankful that it has. But I'm never going to leave you again, Rey. Ever. Only death is going to separate us now.”

Rey swallowed hard. “You really mean that?”

“I mean every single word of it,” Kylo said. “I love you, Rey. Only you. No one else. Not now, not ever. You are the only one for me, and I will love you until the day I die, and then I will find a way to love you still. I promise.”

Rey choked back tears as she leaned back in her seat. “I'm afraid of giving you all of me again. I've been holding back.”

“You don't have to be afraid,” Kylo said, squeezing Rey's hand. “I'm not going anywhere.”

Rey nodded as a few tears began to slide down her cheeks. “I'm sorry. This is not how you wanted to spend your birthday. I had plans.”

“Hey, do not worry about that,” Kylo said, reaching out to wipe away her tears. “This is way more important than a birthday or plans.”

Rey leaned into his touch and gave him a shaky smile. “I got you a present.”

“Being with you is my present,” Kylo murmured, leaning forward to press their foreheads together. “I don't need anything else.”

“I think you'll like it though,” Rey whispered. “It's at the house.”

“What is it?”

“You don't want to wait to open it?”

“No.”

“It's 'Revelations of Divine Love' by Julian of Norwich,” Rey said. “Not a reprint in paperback, but an actual manuscript version from the Tudor age. I couldn't find one any older.”

Kylo's eyes widened and a smile spread across his face. “Seriously?”

Rey nodded. “I thought you'd like it.”

“I love it,” Kylo said, shaking his head slightly. “I can't believe you found that.”

“I had help,” Rey murmured. “But I knew I needed the perfect gift for you.”

“You're the perfect gift,” Kylo corrected. “Anything else is a bonus.”

Rey sighed as Kylo closed the distance between them, kissing her softly. She responded quickly, deepening the kiss, and they clung to each other as best they could with the console of the car between them. When they broke apart, Rey started laughing, prompting Kylo to laugh too.

“Making out in the car is so not fun,” Rey said, shaking her head.

“No, it's not,” Kylo said, smiling at her. “You know, we have a sofa in the house we could make out on.”

“Not the bed?”

“I wasn't sure if we should go jump straight into bed after the conversation we just had,” Kylo said, prompting Rey to smile back at him.

“I love you,” Rey said, caressing the side of his face. “And I don't want to make out on the sofa.”

"Alright then." Kylo nodded and pulled away, reaching for the door handle. “Race you home!”

Rey laughed as he climbed out of the car, reaching for her keys. “You are such a child. No one would know that you're a thirty-five-year-old man.”

“I heard that!”

Chapter Text

Kylo walked into the studio to find Phasma sitting on a sofa, watching as Hux played around in the actual recording booth. Phasma looked up as soon as he walked in, and she immediately stood, walking over to him and throwing her arms around him.

“Kylo, I cannot thank you enough for doing this.”

“Please let go of me,” Kylo said, taking a deep breath once Phasma took a step back. “I have no idea why I'm doing this, Phasma, but please make it as painless as possible.”

Phasma swallowed hard. “I can't promise you that.”

“Phasma.”

“Hux wants you to play on the album,” Phasma said quickly. “I tried telling him that's not what you were coming here for but you know how he is.”

Kylo brought his hands up to his face and rubbed it while he sighed. “I already assumed as much. That's why I brought C-3PO and R2-D2.”

Phasma blinked. “You brought what?”

“Family heirloom guitars with funny names,” Kylo said, motioning to the two guitar cases at his sides. “C-3PO is mine, and R2 is my uncle's. I was going to bring one of my other guitars, but Luke told me to bring this one. I don't know why.”

“Kylo Ren! About fucking time!”

Kylo took a deep breath and turned towards where Hux had entered the room. “Hux.”

“That's all the greeting I get? Come on, the band's back together! This is motherfucking fantastic!”

“The band is not back together,” Kylo said firmly. “I am only here to straighten out your album.”

“But you brought guitars!” Hux said as he walked towards him.

“Because I know you two can't play for shit,” Kylo said, bending down and picking up the guitar cases before walking straight past Hux. “Alright, let's get started.”

“We can't even catch up first?” Hux asked. “Come on, Kylo. You've got to at least be happy to see us.”

“I am never happy to see you,” Kylo said, setting the cases down near the studio deck and pulling out a chair. “I came here to work. Let's get to work.”

“Fuck work,” Hux said, walking over to the sofa and collapsing down on it. “I'm not doing any work until we work things out.”

“Hux,” Phasma started, but Kylo spun around in his chair and stared Hux down before she could continue.

“If you think I came here to rejoin the band, to work things out as you just put it, then you are sorely mistaken, you lousy son of a bitch. I came here to work on this album for fuck knows why and I will gladly get up and walk out that door right now and not come back.”

“No,” Phasma interjected, walking over and standing between them. “No, please don't do that. Kylo, please.”

“What, are you on his side now?” Hux called out, kicking his legs out like a petulant child. “Come on, let's get the band back together. We can work this out, man. It can't be that difficult.”

Kylo sighed. “It is that difficult. And we cannot work it out. I wanted out, I got out, and I want to stay out. And I'm serious, Hux. I will walk right now if you don't shut the fuck up about me rejoining the band.”

Phasma turned to Hux and reached out, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Hux, he's here, he's going to play on the record, and he's going to fix the songs so they're good. That's what we're going to get and we need to take it. You know why we need to take it.”

Hux stared at Kylo for a moment before throwing his arms up in the air. “You know, don't you?”

“That you pissed your money away and that you're completely broke? Yeah, I fucking know,” Kylo said, leaning back in his chair. “That's why I'm here. That's the only reason why I'm here. I don't completely hate the two of you, you know. You are not my favorite people in the world, but you're certainly not my least favorite. We did have some good times together.”

“Yeah, we did,” Phasma said, sitting down next to Hux and reaching out to take his hand in hers. “General, you know that we need him right now. You can't go pissing him off right when he first gets here and making him leave. Then we're really fucked.”

Hux huffed loudly. “We shouldn't have to be relying upon him. I told you I could produce the album.”

“And we recorded an album, took it to the label, and they told us to go back and try again,” Phasma said, a bitterness to her voice. “You cannot fuck this up for us, Hux. If this blows up, we have nothing. Absolutely nothing. And we don't have another career to fall back on. I don't know how to fucking do anything else.”

“You're asking me to rely upon someone that has been out of the music business for a long time, Captain,” Hux finally said. “How do you know he's going to be able to help us save this?”

“Because I've sent her ten songs I've written in the past few months,” Kylo said, drawing Hux's attention to him.

“All those new songs we've been working on were written by Kylo,” Phasma said softly, making Hux look at her. “I didn't want to tell you that they were until he told me that he was definitely going to come help produce the album.”

Hux blinked a few times. “Those songs are yours, Ren?”

“Yes,” Kylo said, shrugging. “Why? You hate them?”

“No,” Hux said, shaking his head. “I fucking love them. I didn't know you could write like that. You never did when you were in the band.”

“I wasn't around the love of my life when I was in the band,” Kylo said, smiling. “Rey brings something creative out in me that I can't explain. And no, none of those songs are about her. I wouldn't let you touch a song about her. But those are songs that I couldn't have written if she wasn't a part of my life.”

Hux laughed. “I think I've underestimated your girl. Maybe she is more than a pretty face.”

“She's so much more than that,” Kylo said, his smile widening. “She's my everything.”

“Okay, now you're getting too sappy for me,” Hux said, looking over at Phasma. “Alright, I'll shut up about getting the band back together, though I still want that to happen. What do we do first?”

Phasma shrugged and turned to Kylo. “Why don't we ask our producer?”

Kylo looked at them both before nodding. “Alright, let's get started then.”

Chapter Text

Kylo walked out of the building the studio was in to find Snap waiting for him, leaning up against the car. “Snap!” he exclaimed. “I've never been happier to see you in my life.”

Snap immediately went to attention. “What's the situation?”

“No situation,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “You're just not someone associated with that lousy motherfucking band, and I really need that right now. Let's go to the penthouse.”

“Absolutely,” Snap said, opening up the door for Kylo and then climbing into the backseat next to him. He leaned up and told the driver to take them to the penthouse's address and then closed the divide between the front and back seats. “A little privacy for you.”

Kylo ran his hands over his face and looked over at him. “Snap, I consider you a friend. You know that, right?”

“Well, this is certainly a more intimate job than I've ever had before,” Snap said in response, laughing slightly. “I certainly didn't plan on making friends with you, Kylo, but that is what happened.”

Kylo smiled at him. “Good. So I want you to know that I'm saying this friend to friend.”

“Absolutely.”

“The biggest mistake I've ever made in my life was talking to Snoke. Not the first time, because he was just some guy in the Cantina who came up to me and wanted to talk bass guitar. But every time after that? Massive, colossal mistake. And I'm still paying for that mistake now. I'm in fucking New York City over the week of my mother's birthday to produce an album for a band that I regret ever having been in instead of having the life that I sometimes dream about, the one that I would have had. And I motherfucking hate myself for it.”

Snap stared at him for a moment. “Should you maybe call Rey?”

“I'll call her when we're at the penthouse,” Kylo said. “But I've already had this conversation with her. She's the one who told me to come here this week to do this because she has a ton of essays to grade. But if I was at home, I would just sit in a chair and watch her grade those essays and think about the life I could be living right now if I hadn't made the massive, colossal mistake of talking to Snoke.”

“Is this the part where I'm supposed to ask about the life you could be living right now?” Snap asked, somewhat confused. “I don't really get where you're going with this.”

“Where I'm going with this is that the life I could be living right now is that of Benjamin Solo, Professor of Medieval Literature at Kansas State University. See, Benjamin Solo has this beautiful wife named Rey, and they have a couple of kids running around the house, and they're settled into this domestic existence that he's happy with. There's a swing set in the backyard that he and his dad put up together, and Benjamin and Rey sit together in the evenings after the children have gone to bed and grade essays together. Benjamin's parents are happy for him, proud of the family he's created for himself. His grandparents love being great-grandparents.

“And yeah, sometimes there's problems paying the bills for a few months after Benjamin and Rey spend a little too much money on the children at Christmas, or when the used cars they drive around break down and have a large repair bill. Sometimes there's arguments over what preschool is the best to send the children to when the time is right, or whether to take them to a daycare center or to the daycare Shara Dameron runs out of her house. But they're real world problems for a real world couple and they work through them because that's what real world people do.”

“Ah,” Snap said as he got the meaning behind Kylo's words. “You don't feel like you're a real world person at the moment.”

“I don't think I've felt like a real world person since I got on that first plane to New York and agreed to become Kylo Ren,” Kylo said. “How do I get that back, Snap? How do I become real again?”

Snap looked over at him and smiled sadly. “Unfortunately, I don't think you can ever become the Benjamin Solo of the dream you just described to me. That opportunity has passed you by because you took the opportunity that Snoke presented you with. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't have the things in that dream you described. The beautiful wife Rey, the couple of kids running around. Will you have the money problems you mentioned? No, not unless you become incredibly stupid with your finances in the next few years, which you seem to have a good handle on not doing. But just because you're Kylo Ren now doesn't mean you can't have a happy domestic bliss. It just means your domestic bliss will be a little different than Ben Solo's would have been.”

“You really think I can still have that?”

“I see no reason why you can't.”

Kylo looked at him for a moment before spreading his lips in a wide smile. “That is exactly what I needed to hear, Snap. Thanks.”

Snap just shook his head. “What brought this on?”

Kylo sighed heavily. “Something Hux told me. Something that I didn't believe was true at first until Phasma confirmed it was. And it was something that I never imagined they would do first. I always thought I would do it first.”

“You know that I have no idea what you're talking about, right?”

Kylo laughed as he looked over at Snap. “Hux and Phasma are married.”

Snap's eyes widened. “What?”

“Oh yes, they're married,” Kylo laughed. “I honestly cannot decide if I think this is going to end in divorce in a month or if I think it's really till death do they part.”

“How has that not been made public yet?” Snap asked.

“I have no idea,” Kylo said, grinning wickedly. “But they are planning on keeping it as quiet as possible. Which means one thing.”

“You're going to leak it.”

“At an opportune time, of course. Give them a taste of the media storms they've been causing me for the past three years.”

Snap laughed. “I'd say that it was cruel, but given who we're talking about here, I think it's fitting.”

“The idiots even told me where they got married and the date, so as soon as I leak it, some reporters can go and get the public record and confirm it.” Kylo laughed even more. “I don't think anything related to this band is going to feel as good as leaking this is going to. I've got to hold onto the information for awhile, let it slip at the right moment. If I do it too fast, they'll know it came from me.”

“Do you have a specific time in mind?”

Kylo turned to Snap with a smile. “I was thinking the day before Finn and Jess's wedding. It'll turn all the First Order media attention on them, and it should get all the photographers in Manhattan to clear out to seek a pic of the newlyweds. That way, their wedding is paparazzi free, just like I promised them I would do my best to make it.”

Snap chuckled. “I think you've got a perfect plan there, boss. Let's just hope that no one ruins it in the meantime.”

“Oh, I don't think they will let anyone else know that this has happened. Apparently they haven't even told their manager Palpatine yet. They haven't even told their parents yet! Why they told me, I do not fucking know. Band camaraderie or some bullshit like that.”

Snap went to say something when the divide between the front and back seats began to lower, the driver announcing that they were pulling up to the building the penthouse was in. Kylo sat upright while Snap gave him a slightly confused look.

“You lived that close to the studio?”

“Yep,” Kylo said. “This penthouse was strategically placed closed to the studio, my favorite club, my favorite bar, and Central Park, all within walking distance if I was inebriated. That was handy on more than one occasion.”

“Well, I don't think we'll be visiting your favorite club or your favorite bar while we're here, right?”

“You are correct,” Kylo said as the car came to a stop. “But Central Park's nice this time of year if you want to go for a run or something. I can't, obviously.”

“I might take you up on that,” Snap said, looking out the window to see about ten photographers hanging out in front of the building. “You ready?”

“As I'll ever be,” Kylo said. “And not a word to anyone about what I just said to you. Any of it.”

“Not a word, boss,” Snap said as he opened the door. “I promise.”

Chapter Text

Rey took one look at the dress in Jessika's hands and laughed. “You've got to be kidding me, right?”

“It's perfect!” Jessika exclaimed, walking over to where Rey was standing in front of the mirror and holding it up to her. “Come on, you've been saving this dress for something. It's time you wear it already.”

“This is just a performance at the Cantina, Jess,” Rey said. “It's not a big deal.”

“It's a huge deal to Kylo and Luke, and you know it. Come on, Rey, dress up a little.”

Rey studied the dress, taking in how the sapphire blue color offset her eyes, how the hem hit just above her knee, the three-quarter length sleeves. She had been saving this dress for a reason, but Jessika was right. It was time to wear it. “Alright, fine, I'll wear it.”

Jessika grinned. “Fantastic. And I'll do your makeup and put your hair in a great chignon and you'll look amazing.”

Rey took the dress from Jessika and stepped into the en suite to change. “I cannot wait to see Kylo and Luke performing up there tonight. I mean, they get up on stage at the Cantina a lot, but this is the first time Maz has ever promoted it like a concert.”

“That's because it is a concert,” Jessika said, shifting through Rey's makeup kit and pulling different things out of it. “Kylo is so nervous about it.”

“He is?” Rey asked. “He's seemed perfectly calm to me. But then again, we haven't exactly seen much of each other this week. Between me teaching extra classes and working long office hours and him being over at Luke's preparing for this, we've barely seen each other.”

“Trust me, he's nervous,” Jessika said, looking up when Rey walked out of the en suite.

“Zip me up?” Rey asked, turning her back to Jessika.

Jessika walked over and zipped up the dress, turning Rey to the mirror. “You look so gorgeous in that dress. Seriously. Kylo's going to want to bring you home and rip it off of you.”

Rey blushed a deep shade of red. “I...um...I...Jess...”

“Yeah, I know,” Jessika said, walking back over to the vanity. “I promise next time I will knock before coming in. I swear it.”

Rey brought her hands up to cover her face. “Oh God, Jess. I'm so embarrassed.”

“You're embarrassed? I'm the one who should be embarrassed,” Jessika said, looking up at her. “Oh, Rey, seriously, don't be embarrassed. He'd just gotten back from being in New York for three weeks. If that had been me and Finn, we would have been all over each other too.”

“We could have at least waited until you and Snap left,” Rey muttered from behind her hands.

Jessika walked over to her and pulled Rey's hands from her face. “Hey, just be glad it's me that walked back in and not Snap.”

“Oh trust me, I am,” Rey said, letting Jessika pull her over to the vanity. “I don't think I'd ever be able to look Snap in the eyes again.”

“Rey, you were only half undressed.”

“That's entirely too much undressed for anyone but Kylo to see,” Rey said seriously. “Now can we please change the subject.”

“Sure,” Jessika said, reaching for a brush and starting in on Rey's hair. “How do you really feel about the fact that his week in New York turned into three? You know they convinced him to do way more on that album than he was going to.”

“He wrote all the songs, he played almost all of the instruments on them, and he sang backing vocals,” Rey said, sighing heavily. “He basically rejoined the band unofficially. But we talked about it when he got home, and he made it extremely clear that he has no desire to do that on a permanent basis. They needed his help, he's going to get a nice payday out of it, and he says he's never doing it again.”

“But if the album is a hit, they're going to come calling again.”

“Of course they are,” Rey said. “And when they do, he'll have to make another decision. But I'm confident that he'll talk to me about it. We've gotten to that point, and even though the one week turned into three, I don't feel like we took a step backwards because of this whole producer situation. In fact, I think it might even have been a step forward.”

“How would it have been a step forward?” Jessika asked.

“Well, it got him to finish packing up the penthouse and talk to a real estate agent about putting it on the market for one. Plus I think it was good for him to go back into that environment and come back out of it and say 'I don't want this, I want my life in Kansas with you,' which is what he said to me when he got home. And then there's just other little things that I think he probably doesn't even realize.”

“Like what?”

“Like how this might be a foot in the door to another creative path for him,” Rey said. “He's always writing these songs that deserve more than just to be played every once and awhile at the Cantina. If this record is a hit, and let's be honest, it's First Order and it's Kylo's material, it's going to be, but if it's a hit, this could get him opportunities as a songwriter and a producer that he wouldn't have had before. And he needs that outlet for his creativity. The books are amazing, but the books aren't music, and Kylo can't exist without music.”

“That's a good point, and I hadn't even thought of that,” Jessika said, reaching for a hair tie. “Have you brought that up with him?”

“Not yet. I figured I'd give him some distance from the stuff he just did with First Order before I brought it up again because I want him to think rationally about it and not just give a knee-jerk reaction to working with Hux and Phasma.”

Before Jessika could respond, Rey's phone began to ring, and Jessika laughed. “Does he know you have a First Order ringtone for him?”

“He called it ironic,” Rey said, reaching for her phone and answering it. “Hello, Kylo.”

“Hello, love. Um, do you think you can come to the Cantina about an hour earlier than you were planning on coming tonight?”

“Why do you want me there so early?” Rey asked, hearing Kylo take a sharp intake of breath. “Honey? What's wrong?”

“Nothing's wrong,” Kylo said unconvincingly. “It's just...this is like a concert, Rey. I'm performing a concert.”

“Right,” Rey said, confused. “But you play at the Cantina all the time.”

“Not in a promoted fashion like this,” Kylo said, his voice trembling. “And not by myself.”

“You're not going to be performing by yourself,” Rey said. “Luke will be there with you.”

“No, he won't,” Kylo said, letting out a long breath. “He texted me about twenty minutes ago. He's on his way to Dagobah again.”

“What?” Rey exclaimed, sitting up and jerking her hair out of Jessika's grasp. “What do you mean he's on his way to Dagobah again?”

“He said something about Yoda and needing some spiritual cleansing. I don't pretend to know what he's talking about whenever Dagobah comes up. I just know that he's left me high and dry here and I need all the support I can get to perform on my own.”

Rey settled back down into the chair, sending an apologetic look in Jessika's direction as Jessika reached for her hair again. “Well, I will make sure I'm there early then. I'll do whatever you need me to do.”

“I need you there early, and I need you front row, center. Maz will make sure that happens.”

“And I will make sure that happens too,” Rey said, glancing at the clock. “I've got to finish getting ready if you want me there early.”

“Then I will let you go,” Kylo said. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Rey said. “See you in a bit.”

Rey hung up the phone and ran her hands over her face. “Fucking Luke.”

“He's run off to Dagobah again?”

“This is the second time he's done this since Mara died,” Rey said, sighing heavily. “Part of me understands and part of me doesn't. But this isn't fair on Kylo, just like last time it wasn't fair on me. And Luke has to know that.”

“He's probably still blinded by grief,” Jessika said, reaching for some bobby pins. “When you were together as long as Luke and Mara were, and you were still as hung up on someone as Luke was, it's going to take a long, long time to make peace with everything.”

“I understand that, but it doesn't give him the right to just act like everyone around him will accept his running off whenever he feels like it, especially when he has obligations that people are counting on him for,” Rey said. “At any rate, he's on his way to Dagobah and Kylo has to perform by himself and, if he wasn't nervous before, he's definitely nervous now because, to my recollection, Kylo has never performed by himself before.”

“Kylo's never performed by himself?”

“Not that I remember,” Rey said. “If he has, it was before I knew him. No wonder he wants me there an hour earlier than I said I'd be there.”

Jessika glanced over at the clock. “An hour? Shit, I've got to get this done then. An hour earlier means you've only got forty minutes to get over there.”

“Don't rush, Jess. It'll be alright, and I can do my own makeup in the meantime.”

Jessika nodded and reached for the brush again. “Okay, that sounds good. But use the colors I picked out, okay? They'll look the best with the dress.”

“You know this stuff way better than I do, so I will do as you say,” Rey said, laughing. “If it was up to me, I probably wouldn't even wear anything but mascara and lip gloss.”

Jessika just shook her head. “One of these days, Rey, I'm going to get you to fully embrace the fact that you're a girl.”

“I do embrace that. I just don't paint myself up like a harlot like some of those girls we used to have class with did.”

Jessika burst out laughing. “No, I would never let you do that. We'd have had an intervention by now if that was the case.”

Chapter Text

Kylo let his head lay back and land on the pillow, Rey's head coming to rest on his shoulder. His arm wrapped around her and pulled her closer as he took a deep breath, and he let his eyes close contentedly. “I am so glad all of this is over."

“I told you you would be brilliant,” Rey said, letting her arm sling across his waist. “Luke may have flaked on you but Maz is thrilled with how this month of concerts has turned out. You know she's going to get you to do it more regularly.”

“I don't know about that,” Kylo said. “There were too many people there tonight.”

Rey shifted around so she was looking down at him. “Kylo, there was maybe two hundred people in front of the stage tonight. You used to play in front of tens of thousands.”

“Yeah, but playing to a crowd of any sort of size is like a drug,” Kylo said, opening his eyes. “I don't want to get addicted again.”

Rey stared at him for a moment before sighing heavily. “We need to talk about music and its place in your life.”

“Music has its place in my life,” Kylo said, letting his eyes close again. “There's nothing to talk about.”

“Kylo, I'm being serious.”

“So am I,” Kylo said. “It's a hobby.”

Rey shook her head and pulled away from his embrace, sitting up next to him and reaching for the lamp, turning it on. “It's not a hobby, Kylo. No more than your writing is a hobby.”

“My writing is a hobby too, and you know that,” Kylo said, turning to face Rey. “What is this all about, really?”

“It's about the fact that Phasma was in the back of the crowd tonight,” Rey said seriously. “It's about the fact that the new First Order song that you wrote and you produced and you played all the instruments on and you sang on is sitting at the top of the charts at the moment.”

Kylo frowned. “Phasma was there?”

“Yes,” Rey said. “I got her to leave by promising that we'd all have breakfast at Starfighter tomorrow morning.”

“Why did you promise her that?”

“Because she was nice, for once. And I wanted her out of there before you saw her, so I did the first thing I could think of.”

Kylo stared at her for a moment. “Rey, what does she want?”

“I don't know.”

“Yes, you do,” Kylo said, shifting around until he was sitting up. “What does she want?”

Rey ran her hands over her face. “She wants you to be the band's permanent producer. Not just for this one album, but for the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that.”

“And?” Kylo said. “There's always an and with them.”

Rey took a deep breath. “And I think you should do it.”

Kylo's jaw dropped. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Just listen to me for a moment, okay?” Rey said, holding up her hands. “Ever since you got back from New York, you've been in this explosion of creativity. You've been writing songs, you wrote the entirety of the next book, you have been working with the architect and Poe on the design of the new restaurant. Whether you want to admit it or not, you need this musical outlet in your life, and performing at the Cantina with Luke or by yourself isn't enough for it.

"I'm not saying that I want you to rejoin the band and travel the world and fall off the wagon and leave me behind or anything like that. I'm saying that I want you to think about being a legitimate songwriter and producer, not just for First Order, but for other artists too. You know there's interest. The songs you write deserve better than to be left on a piece of paper for the rest of eternity."

Kylo sighed heavily and ran his hands through his hair. "I told you, I want you and our life here together."

"And there's no reason why you can't have that and occasionally fly to New York or Los Angeles to produce someone's album."

Kylo stared at her for a moment. "You're serious about this, aren't you?"

"Yes, I am," Rey said. "And I know one of your first excuses as for why you shouldn't do it is going to be your family, but I think if you sat down with Han and Leia and explained to them that you're not rejoining the band, it's just a producing thing, I think you'll find that they'll be supportive."

"Which means you've already talked to them about it," Kylo said, laying down onto the bed. "Is there anyone who isn't in on this?"

"No one is in on anything," Rey said firmly. "We just can see something that you're not allowing yourself to see."

"I'm not allowing myself to see what? The need I have for music?" Kylo shook his head. "No, I know how much I need music. But that need led me to make the biggest mistake of my life. I'm not going down that path again."

Rey shifted around so she was lying next to him. "Kylo, listen to me. I don't want you to stop yourself from doing something you love because you're afraid you'll make a mistake."

"I'm not talking about grading an exam with the wrong answer key, Rey. Music means drugs and alcohol and all the things I want no part of."

"No, being a member of First Order means all of that. The only people that want you to rejoin the band are Hux and Phasma. We want you to fully embrace music again."

"I don't see how they are separate," Kylo said after a moment. "Music has always been them for so long."

"The past month wasn't them," Rey pointed out. "The past month was you and a guitar and a microphone and it had nothing to do with them."

"I only had that opportunity because of them."

"You had that opportunity because Maz has been in love with the way you play a guitar since long before you'd ever heard the words First Order," Rey snapped, finally losing her patience. "You were someone before them and you're someone after them but the one thing that has stayed constant is music. And quite frankly, you have been much happier in this explosion of creativity that you've been in since New York than you were before. So cut the bullshit, Kylo, and just admit that you need music in your life."

Kylo laid there for awhile without saying anything, then let out a loud groan. "I tried to give it up, Rey. I tried so hard. I thought New York would be a one off but..."

"But it ignited the itch," Rey said, reaching over to play with Kylo's hair. "It's okay, baby. Really, it is."

"As long as I don't run away with the band again."

"You're not going anywhere with that band," Rey said firmly. "But you and I both know you'll make a kickass producer for other artists."

"Ever since word got out that I did the First Order album, requests have been flooding in. I've just been ignoring all of them."

"Well, maybe you should take a look at some of them," Rey said. "And please, stop trying to deny yourself something that you need. My Ben needed music like it was air. I don't know why you thought I'd ever believe that Kylo was any different."

Kylo looked over at her. "Rey, I don't deserve you."

"No," Rey said, leaning over to kiss him. "I kinda think you do. I'm going to go get some water, and then we have to get to sleep. I've got an eight o'clock class in the morning."

"Covering for Luke again?" Kylo asked as Rey stood up.

"You know it," Rey said. "He claims he's coming home this week."

"You heard from him?"

"Just a text. 'See you Wednesday.' We'll see if it happens or not." Rey paused at the door and smiled at him. "I love you, Kylo. And this music stuff is a good thing."

"I love you too," Kylo said. "And I hope you're right."

"Trust me!"

"I am!"

Chapter Text

Over the next couple of months, Kylo had multiple lengthy conversations with BB-8, his parents, his grandparents, Luke, Snap, Jessika, Finn, Poe, and, most importantly, Rey, before he made up his mind. When he did, he felt incredibly nauseous and like he was going to pass out, so he laid down on the sofa for an hour before Rey told him that he needed to man up and face the decision he had made because it was the right one.

So he got in his car and drove to the real estate office and, after sitting there for a few moments, he got out of the car and walked inside. Three hours later, he was sitting at a desk signing his name on a contract to buy a building near the Kansas State campus. He was nervous that the building was too big, but when he drove Rey by it later that evening, she reminded him of the plan and told him that the building was the perfect size.

Kylo had known from the moment he agreed that producing other artists' music was a good idea that he could go to New York or Los Angeles to record with them, but he really didn't want to. His life was in Manhattan, Kansas, not Manhattan, New York, and he wanted it to stay that way. So, he decided, he wasn't going to either coast. Artists were going to have to come to him, and with this building, he was going to have a place for them to go.

Solo Studios had a home.

Three weeks later, Kylo led Rey into the building for the first time. “What do you think?”

Rey looked around and smiled at the large, open space. “This is fantastic.”

“It has great acoustics,” Kylo said, following her as she walked further into the room. “And enough room to have four different studios in here.”

Rey stopped walking and looked over her shoulder. “Four? I thought you were going for two?”

“I was,” Kylo said. “But then I saw this, and there's room for four, and I'm terrified about it, but you are going to reassure me that this is fine.”

“Oh I am, am I?” Rey said, turning around with a smile on her face. “Darling, relax. Your plan is a good one. And it's not like you need this for income.”

“I know I don't. And this isn't about making money. But I'm still terrified,” Kylo said as Rey walked towards him.

“What can I do to make you less terrified?” Rey asked, stopping in front of him and putting her hands on Kylo's hips. “How can I help?”

Kylo took a deep breath as someone started pounding on the door. “Tell me I'm doing the right thing. Tell me I'm not making a colossal mistake by bringing music back into my life. I'm so afraid that I'm going to fuck everything up again if I do this.”

Rey leaned forward and kissed him softly. “I am not going to let you fuck things up again. Neither are your parents, or your grandparents, or Luke, or your friends. You shocked us all last time, and you weren't in a good place mentally. But you're in a great place mentally now, and you have a tremendous support system behind you. All of us think this is a good thing. Trust in us. Trust in yourself.”

Kylo took another deep breath and closed his eyes. “Trust everyone. Trust myself. I can do that.”

“Good,” Rey said, kissing him again. “Now, what do we do next?”

“Next, we let whoever is banging on the door in,” Kylo said, laughing. “Who do you think it is?”

“No idea,” Rey said, watching as Kylo walked towards the door. “Be careful.”

“I am,” Kylo said, walking up to the door and opening it to find Luke on the other side. “Hey Luke.”

“Oh, thank God you're alright,” Luke said, forcing his way inside. “Where's Rey?”

“I'm right here,” Rey said, concern on her face. “What's wrong?”

“News reports everywhere that Kylo is in New York and was shot,” Luke said, breathing hard. “You told everyone you were working on something to do with music, so New York was a possibility. Went to the house and no one was there. Neither of you answering your phones. Checked everywhere in town you could possibly be. Jessika mentioned this place. This was the last resort.”

Luke bent over and tried to catch his breath. “Jessika is with Han and Leia. Mama and Dad are on their way to your parents' house. I'm supposed to call immediately once I have news.”

“I'll call them,” Kylo said, taking out his phone. “You calm down, okay? You can barely talk right now.”

Kylo walked away to a different part of the building and Rey approached Luke, who stood back up to his full height. “Luke, are you alright?”

“The adrenaline is starting to come down,” Luke said, taking a deep breath. “Felt like I was back in Dagobah trying to pass one of Yoda's trials. Really never want to feel like that again.”

“I'm so sorry, Luke. Kylo wanted to surprise everyone with the news about the studio,” Rey said.

“Yeah, well, he needs to make sure that at least someone knows he's in town and not in New York,” Luke said. “He and I are going to have a long conversation. Snap is even nowhere to be found.”

“Snap's on vacation,” Rey said. “Jessika should know that.”

“She does,” Kylo said, walking back towards them. “We need to go to Mama and Dad's. And Luke, I'm sorry for all of this.”

“I'm just glad that you're alright,” Luke said. “This was terrifying.”

“It'll never happen again, I promise,” Kylo said, approaching Luke and pulling him into a hug. “And I have an idea where these rumors came from.”

Rey sighed heavily. “Hux and Phasma.”

“More Hux than Phasma,” Kylo said, turning towards her. “I think Phasma knows she's got a good thing going with me as their producer and she doesn't want to fuck it up.”

“Someone needs to put an end to this bullshit,” Luke said firmly. “Shit about relationships is one thing. This was about your life.”

“I'll work on that,” Kylo said, taking Rey's hand and beginning to walk towards the door. “Right now we need to get a statement out saying that these rumors are bullshit.”

“The faster that statement gets out, the better,” Rey murmured.

“I'll call Jess from the car,” Kylo said. “Luke, did you drive here? Are you following us?”

“Yes,” Luke said. “I'll meet you at Leia's. I've got to swing by the restaurant and let Poe and Finn know you're alright. I promised I'd tell them what's up in person instead of on the phone.”

Kylo nodded as they walked out of the building and he turned to lock the doors. Rey reached out and hugged Luke before he walked over to his car. Kylo and Rey headed to Rey's car a few moments later, and then they were both pulling out of the parking lot and going their separate ways.

Rey drove in silence while Kylo sat in the passenger seat and took deep breaths, and when she had to stop for a red light, she reached out and grasped one of his hands. “You alright?”

“Luke's right. This bullshit has to stop,” Kylo said, taking another deep breath. “I've got to get this settled. And I don't have a fucking clue how to do that.”

“You'll figure it out,” Rey said, letting go of his hand as the light turned green. “And we can talk it out once you get an idea.”

“Well, the only idea I have right now is revenge,” Kylo said. “And I was planning on doing this on the day of Jess and Finn's wedding anyway, so this is really perfect timing.”

Rey glanced over at him. “What are you talking about?”

Kylo broke out into a grin. “Hux and Phasma are married.”

“What?” Rey exclaimed, making Kylo laugh. “Are you serious?”

“Dead serious. Phasma told me herself. They've been waiting for the right time to reveal their relationship because Palpatine thinks they'll lose a ton of fans if the fans know they're off the market.” Kylo laughed again. “The media frenzy will be enormous and the paparazzi will split town to go get a glance at the newlyweds instead of us at our friends' wedding. I promised Jess I'd do my best to make her wedding paparazzi-free and this should do it.”

Rey just shook her head. “That is cruel. It's delightfully cruel, but it is cruel.”

“Well, so is spreading rumors that I've been shot.”

“Touché.”

Kylo swallowed hard. “So I have to tell everyone about the studios tonight, right?”

“They're going to want to know,” Rey said. “Is telling them that hard?”

“About the studios? No. About the name of the studios? Yes.”

“You've settled on a name?”

Kylo sucked in a deep breath. “Solo Studios. It's going to be called Solo Studios.”

Rey came to a stop at a red light and turned to him, beaming. “I think that's a perfect name.”

“Really?” Kylo asked, his voice small. “I know that one of my father's biggest disappointments when it comes to me is that I gave up his name. So I wanted to do this to let them all know that I'm still a Solo. I might not be Ben Solo anymore, but I'm still a Solo.”

“I think that's a wonderful idea that everyone is going to love,” Rey said, turning her attention back to the road. “You should call Jess. You really need to get that statement out.”

“Yeah,” Kylo said, reaching for his phone. “God, she's probably going to kill me for stressing her out the week before her wedding.”

“I highly doubt that,” Rey said. “But she's probably not going to be very happy.”

“I'll pay for her and Finn to go to Jakku,” Kylo said as he scrolled through his contacts. “Knowing Jess, she's probably already got two separate statements written.”

“Well, call her already and get one put out,” Rey said.

“Yes, ma'am.”

Chapter Text

Rey made her way through the gathered crowd to where Kylo was sitting alone at one of the tables, pulling a chair up close to him and sitting down. He put an arm around her shoulders and she tucked into his side, resting her head on his shoulder. “Promise me that when we get married we don't have to do this.”

Kylo let out a small chuckle. “It's a reception, Rey. Of course there is going to be dancing.”

“I meant the whole big wedding thing,” Rey said. “I know Leia will try to say otherwise, but I honestly want just us at the courthouse and then like a party at the house. That's it.”

Kylo turned and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “If that's what you want, then that's what you shall have. I promise.”

“Thank you,” Rey said, sighing happily. “Jess looks beautiful, doesn't she? And they both look so happy.”

“She does look beautiful,” Kylo agreed. “But not as beautiful as you do.”

Rey laughed. “Please, I look ridiculous in this bridesmaid dress.”

“No, I assure you, you do not,” Kylo murmured, pressing another kiss to her forehead. “I've barely been able to tear my eyes away from you all night.”

Rey shifted around so she was looking up at him. “Really?”

“I believe I told you once that you could be wearing the upholstery from a sofa from the 1970s and I'd find you the most gorgeous woman on the planet,” Kylo said. “When you're wearing a beautiful dress like that, your beauty only multiplies.”

“You are entirely too flattering.”

“And you are entirely too unaware of how beautiful you are,” Kylo said, smiling at her. “But I'll always be here to tell you exactly how much you are.”

They were interrupted by a small cough and they looked up to see Snap standing there. “I'm terribly sorry to interrupt you, but Kylo, that thing you wanted me to monitor.”

Kylo nodded and reached out, and Snap placed a phone into his hand before walking away.

“What was Snap monitoring?” Rey asked, watching as Kylo clicked through a few screens.

“The response to what we leaked yesterday,” Kylo said, taking a deep breath. “Amazingly, Hux and Phasma haven't called yet.”

“You're not going to answer if they do, are you?”

Kylo looked over at her. “Of course not. I'm turning this off after I look at this specific thing Snap was watching for.”

“And what specific thing was that?”

Kylo clicked through a few more screens before a specific tweet was pulled up. “This one right here.”

He handed the phone over to Rey and she read the tweet, anger coursing through her. “You've got to be kidding me.”

“I knew they'd be getting back at me in some capacity, so I instructed the publicist to have a statement ready to go out. One text from me and Hux's attempted distraction from the news that he and Phasma are married will be taken care of.”

“Kylo, he said you're rejoining the band.”

“And the statement will make it very clear that I'm not,” Kylo said seriously. “It is very strongly worded and stresses that I am nothing more now than an author, songwriter, and producer.”

“They're not going to believe you.”

“They will when I don't rejoin the band, which I'm definitely not doing,” Kylo said, removing his arm from Rey's shoulders so he could type out the text. “Besides, the press release about Solo Studios is going to go out soon.”

“Don't you need to finish the studio first?”

“I can announce the studio and its anticipated opening date without it being finished,” Kylo said, sending the text and then turning off the phone before slipping it into the pocket inside his coat. “There, now we can have a nice, First Order-free evening.”

As soon as Kylo said that, the music playing in the venue changed to the newest First Order song, and they both burst out laughing.

“Yeah, a nice First Order-free evening alright,” Rey said, still giggling. “Sure.”

“Well, we can't always have everything we want,” Kylo said, a bemused look on his face. “Do you want to dance?”

“Absolutely not,” Rey said, shaking her head. “I can't dance.”

“You can dance. I've seen you dance.”

“Not in front of this many people.”

“You danced at the First Order concert.”

“Yeah, but all those people weren't watching me.”

“No one is going to be watching you, Rey. Just me.”

“Yeah, right,” Rey said. “There are people here from out of town, Kylo. They're not used to seeing us together. Some of Jess's younger cousins almost fainted after you said hello to them last night at the rehearsal, and they have been decidedly frosty to me. People are going to be watching.”

Kylo frowned. “People still treat you like that?”

“Most people don't. Teenage girls whose dream it is to grow up and marry you? Yes, they most certainly still do.”

Kylo sighed heavily. “I hate that. Why can't they just want me to be happy?”

“Because it's a crush. Didn't you ever have a crush on anyone?”

“No.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously,” Kylo said. “My nose was always in a book. I never really noticed girls that much until you came around.”

Rey gave him a look that said she didn't believe a word of it. “Sure.”

“Ask Mama. She'll tell you all about it. I think they were all relieved when I started to show an interest in you.”

“I will be doing that,” Rey said.

“I'm telling you the truth.”

“I'll be the judge of that.”

They looked up when two chairs were pulled out from the table and Finn and Jessika collapsed down into them, smiles on their faces.

“You're not dancing?” Jessika asked.

“I asked,” Kylo said. “She doesn't want to.”

“Rey,” Finn said, shaking his head. “That's not acceptable.”

“Well, it's going to have to be,” Rey said. “I don't want to dance.”

Finn stood up and walked around the table, pulling Rey up from her chair. “Nope. Not acceptable. I don't care if you dance with Kylo or not, but this is my wedding and you're dancing with me at least once.”

“Finn!” Rey called out, but Finn was pulling her towards the dance floor, making Kylo and Jessika chuckle.

“She's going to kill him,” Jessika said, shaking her head.

“Eh, she'll enjoy herself,” Kylo said. “It's Finn. Finn can get her to do stuff like this without her staying mad at him for too long.”

“You can too,” Jessika said, making Kylo shake his head.

“Nope. If she says she doesn't want to dance, I'm not making her dance.”

“Coward.”

“Not a coward, just someone who doesn't want to get into a fight with his girlfriend,” Kylo said, smiling at her. “You look beautiful, Jessika.”

Jessika beamed. “Thanks Kylo. I kind of can't believe this is happening. It's a little surreal.”

“Why?”

“Because I'd wanted to get to know Finn better since high school, and now we're married,” Jessika said. “And sometimes I can't believe that he actually wants to be with me for the rest of his life.”

“Oh, I understand that feeling,” Kylo said. “I don't have any idea why Rey would want to be with me for the rest of her life, but she does, and so I'm just going with it.”

“You're a lucky guy, Kylo.”

“And you're a lucky woman, Jess.”

“Why thank you,” Jessika said, tilting her head to the side to look past him. “Excuse me, my mother's great aunt is waving me over, and you don't keep her waiting.”

“Of course,” Kylo said, turning his attention to the dance floor where Finn had managed to get Rey to start swaying to the music. Another chair was pulled out at the table and he turned his head to see who it was. “Hello Mama.”

“Getting any ideas?” Leia said as she sat down.

“Mama!”

“What? I had to ask,” Leia said, reaching out and tucking her arm around Kylo's elbow. “I really do love weddings though.”

Kylo took a deep breath and leaned in closer to her. “Not a word to anyone. Not even to Grandma.”

“I swear it.”

“I bought the ring.”

Leia let out a happy squeal. “Oh, I'm so happy for you, my son. When are you doing it?”

“I don't know yet. And don't think you'll be getting a wedding like this. Rey wants to go to the courthouse and then have a party at the house.”

Leia gave him a scandalized look. “That's not a wedding.”

“Not in your book but that's what she wants so that's what she's going to get.”

Leia stared at him for a moment before sighing. “Oh, alright. Just so long as I get to go crazy with this party.”

“You can bring that up with Rey.”

Leia smiled. “I'm proud of you, Kylo. I really am. You got yourself a good one.”

Kylo felt a smile cross his face. “Thanks Mama. I'm lucky.”

“Yes, you are,” Leia said, turning her attention to the dance floor. “So how did Finn get her to dance?”

Kylo turned to look and saw that Rey was dancing fully now and he smiled. “He just dragged her out there. I think it's good for her.”

“I think what would be best would be if you went and cut in,” Leia said.

“I don't know about that,” Kylo said.

“Kylo.”

“What?”

“Go do it.”

“Yes, Mama.”

Chapter Text

Rey walked into Solo Studios at around nine p.m. and looked around. The place had been completely transformed since the first time she'd seen it, the wide, empty space now filled with walls marking off different rooms, and she was standing in an entry with a desk in front of her, Jessika sitting behind it. “Hey Jess.”

Jessika looked up from where she was typing away at a laptop and smiled. “Rey! About time.”

“Sorry, I got stopped by a colleague as I was walking out and he wouldn't shut up,” Rey said, walking closer to the desk. “This place looks amazing.”

“Please, this is just the entry,” Jessika said, standing up and motioning for Rey to follow her. “The best part is yet to be seen.”

“Is Kylo back here?”

“Yeah, he's in Studio A at the moment with Nora Wexley,” Jessika said, opening a door and holding it for Rey. “Snap was so happy when Kylo said he wanted to use his mom for testing out the studios and that she'd get a copy of her recordings. Apparently Nora's quite active in the church choir.”

“Yeah, I've heard Snap mention that before,” Rey said, looking around the hallway at the platinum records that adorned the walls. “So he put up First Order stuff, huh?”

“Well, I was telling him that they were just collecting dust in that closet,” Jessika said.

“What closet?”

Jessika stopped and turned around. “You don't know?”

“Apparently not. What don't I know?”

Jessika just shook her head. “There's a whole closet full of First Order stuff in your basement. These were in there, plus a lot of the guitars he brought here, but there's a ton of other stuff too. Clothes he wore on stage or on album covers, boxes of CDs, presents from fans from around the world, all kinds of stuff. He put it all in that closet because he doesn't want to look at it but he doesn't want to throw it out either.”

Rey sighed. “You know, for as far as we've come, he's still never come to terms with the First Order part of his life. He just wants to pretend it never happened, but he also can't do that. It's an interesting juxtaposition. I mention it to BB-8 all the time because I want him to talk to Kylo about it, but I don't think he does.”

“Maybe the studio will help with that,” Jessika said. “Maybe being involved in music again and it not having everything to do with First Order will help. I was really surprised when he gave in and put these up on the walls.”

“I'm not sure about that,” Rey said. “The only reason he can do any of this is because of First Order, and trust me, that thought is not far from his mind at the moment.”

They both looked up as someone rounded the corner and Jessika broke out into a grin as Finn came into view. “Hello, ladies.”

“Hi Finn,” Rey said as Finn stopped next to Jessika and gave her a kiss.

“This place is looking great,” Finn said as he looked around. “Wow, is that a photo of Kylo with Old Ben?”

Jessika nodded as Finn went over to look at the framed photograph on the wall. “Yes. It's from the concert last summer. He said he wanted one up on the wall so we looked through all the photographs taken at the event and he chose that one.”

“He's still in awe of the fact that he played on the same stage as Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Rey said, chuckling. “I'm not surprised to see that in here.”

“So, since Rey is here, I suppose it's time to tell her,” Finn said, turning to look at Jessika. “Or should we wait for Kylo?”

“Kylo doesn't have to be here for you to tell her this,” Jessika said. “He already knows.”

“Good point,” Finn said, walking back over to them. “Rey, as you know, Kylo and I have had our differences.”

“That's putting it mildly.”

“As I was saying, we've had our differences and we have worked through those differences. I now consider him a friend, which trust me, I never thought was going to happen. And, well, he's a very good friend to have,” Finn said, pausing and looking over at Jessika. “I, um, I lost my job a month ago. Company wide layoffs.”

“What?” Rey exclaimed. “Finn! Why didn't you say something?”

“That's the thing. I did. To Kylo.”

Rey gave him a funny look. “You told Kylo and not me?”

“Kylo made me an offer, I said I needed to think about it, and I wanted to do it without you interjecting your opinion, which I know you would have done,” Finn said seriously before taking a deep breath. “So, um, Jess and I, we both work for Kylo now. Jess is going to continue to be Kylo's assistant, and I'm going to be the one who manages the studio.”

“You're going to be the studio manager,” Rey said.

“Yes,” Finn replied. “I don't know if that's going to be weird for you or something, but well, he's going to pay me far better than any other place in town would.”

Rey stepped forward and wrapped Finn up in a hug. “I don't know why you think this would be weird for me, you idiot. I think this is fantastic.”

“Really?”

“Kylo has been looking for someone he really trusts to manage the studio,” Rey said, stepping back. “He didn't have any idea who though. Everyone he knows and trusts in town has a job that they can't just switch easily. So, I'm sorry you lost your job because I know you really liked it, but this is wonderful news.”

Finn smiled and wrapped his arm around Jessika's shoulders. “Good. I'm really glad to hear that. I was worried about telling you.”

“That's preposterous.”

“Well, it's the truth.”

The sound of a couple of people talking echoed down the hallway and a few moments later Kylo, Snap, and a woman Rey determined was Nora Wexley came around the corner. Kylo broke into a brilliant smile upon seeing Rey, and after a few moments of conversation with everyone, Snap and Nora left and Kylo pulled Rey into his arms, kissing her softly.

“Good evening.”

“Good evening,” Rey said. “Finn was just telling me the good news.”

“About the job?” Kylo asked and Rey nodded. “Good. I think it'll work out just fine.”

“I think it'll definitely be just fine,” Rey said. “Are you ready to leave? I've got a ton of essays to grade and I really want to finish them before I go to bed.”

“Well, I think we're going to go,” Finn said quickly. “See you tomorrow.”

“Bye guys,” Jessika added as they quickly made their exit.

Rey turned to Kylo and crossed her arms over her chest. “What's going on?”

Kylo sighed heavily. “As per usual, they gave me no warning.”

“Are you serious?” Rey said after a moment. “Hux and Phasma are here?”

“Consider it the greatest gift in the world that they haven't figured out where the house is yet,” Kylo said, giving her as much of a smile as he could. “The label is demanding a new single from them and since I agreed to produce things for them from now on...”

“They came to you,” Rey finished, reaching up to run her hands through her hair. “Alright, I get it. Besides, it's always best to deal with them as quickly as possible.”

“Exactly.”

“So how long do you think this is going to take?”

“Well, I know the song we're going to record, so hopefully I'll be home by the time the sun comes up.”

Rey huffed. “All night?”

“That will be if Hux concentrates. Which is not guaranteed.”

“Ah, I thought I heard her voice,” came Hux's voice, and they turned to see him and Phasma walking towards them. “The fiesty girlfriend is here. Please tell me you'll be staying. I'd love for you to see how fucking awesome I am in the studio.”

Rey exchanged glances with Kylo. “I think that's the politest thing you've ever said to me, Hux.”

“Yeah, well, I'm a married man now,” Hux said. “Have to behave in front of the wife.”

That made Rey roll her eyes as Phasma laughed. “General, you never behave. It's why I like you so much.”

“True. Anyway, Rey, are you staying? I feel like the four of us really should be getting to know one another better.”

Rey looked over at Kylo again. “Who is he and what has he done with Hux?”

“I've been asking myself that since they showed up,” Kylo said. “No, Hux, Rey is just here for a few minutes. She's going home.”

“Well, maybe tomorrow then,” Hux said, turning around and walking the other way.

Once he was around the corner, Rey looked at Phasma. “What is wrong with him?”

“Nothing,” Phasma said. “He's just sober. And surprisingly, he's not complaining about it.”

Kylo laughed. “Hux is sober? Seriously?”

“Oh trust me, I'm sure this is a temporary thing, but Palpatine laid into him about his partying and how he has to be responsible since he has to maintain the image of a happily married man now, and for some reason, it seems to have worked.”

“I'm impressed,” Kylo said. “I thought Hux would never grow up.”

“Trust me, he hasn't,” Phasma said. “Rey, it's been nice seeing you again, but I better go see what Armitage is up to. Excuse me.”

Phasma walked away and Rey turned to Kylo. “Armitage?”

“Hux's first name.”

“Really?”

“Yup. I think only Phasma and his father get away with calling him it now though.”

Rey giggled. “This is going to sound ridiculously stupid, but I've never even thought about the fact that they have real names. I've just always thought of them as Hux and Phasma.”

Kylo laughed. “Well, don't ask me to reveal them. I'm bound to secrecy by some very dark magic.”

“Sure you are.”

“I better get in there before Hux starts breaking things,” Kylo said, turning to Rey and pulling her into a deep kiss. “I'll see you in the morning. Hopefully.”

“I'll bring you breakfast if necessary,” Rey said, smiling at him. “Go make them a hit, baby.”

“I'll try.”

“You will,” Rey said, starting to walk away. “Especially if it's that song you were working on yesterday. That's a good one.”

“I wouldn't let them touch that!” Kylo called after her. “That one's about you!”

“I was hoping you'd say that.”

Chapter Text

Kylo walked into the house to find the living room full of his life as a member of First Order. “Uh, Rey?”

“In the kitchen!”

He stepped carefully around a number of boxes and stacks of CDs and walked into the kitchen, leaning up against the wall and watching as Rey made a cup of tea. “So, um, you found the closet.”

“I found the closet,” Rey said, tapping her spoon against the top of her cup before turning to look at him. “We need to talk about this.”

“Nothing to talk about. Let's just put it all away, okay?”

“Kylo.”

Kylo sighed heavily and ran his hands over his face. “You don't understand.”

“No, I don't,” Rey said, bringing her cup to her lips. “But I'd like to hear what I'm supposed to be understanding here.”

“That is two years of my life that I don't ever want to remember ever ever ever again,” Kylo said strongly. “So I want all of that stuff to go back into that closet and then stay there.”

“No.”

“Rey.”

“I said no.”

“I don't care what you said. This is not up for discussion.” Rey gave him a look and Kylo backed down. “Alright, so it's up for discussion but it's all going back in that closet.”

“We have talked and talked and talked about your time in First Order,” Rey said after a sip. “But you are no closer to dealing with your decision than you were the day you first came back to Manhattan. It's time to come to terms with it, Kylo.”

“I came to terms with it a long time ago.”

“No, you didn't,” Rey said, shaking her head. “You forgave yourself for abandoning everyone and for breaking my heart. You did not deal with your decision. Those are two very separate things.”

“Then please, by all means, tell me what I'm supposed to deal with here, because I don't see what it is.”

“You didn't kill Ben Solo.”

“Excuse me?”

Rey took her cup of tea over to the breakfast nook and sat down. “I found the paperwork for the building.”

Kylo let his head fall back until it hit the wall. “You did?”

“It's not just the First Order stuff you hide in that closet,” Rey said. “Why did you tell everyone that your name was legally Kylo Ren if it wasn't?”

“I don't want to tell you,” Kylo mumbled.

“Well, too bad, because you're going to.”

Kylo let himself slide down the wall and Rey let him sit there until she determined she had to provoke him. “If you don't start talking, I'll tell your mother that you've been lying about changing your name.”

“Fine,” Kylo said, dropping his gaze to the floor and taking a deep breath. “I got there and I agreed to be Kylo Ren, the Master of the Knights of Ren, and I thought it was going to be great. And then we got into the studio and within three days I wanted to come back home. I hated it. I hated every single second of it. I hated Hux and Phasma, I hated Snoke, I hated the producers we worked with, I hated the music we were recording, I hated everything. So I tried to walk. Tried to tell Snoke I'd made a mistake. But I'd signed that fucking contract and I was required to be there for two years. I tried to negotiate my way out of it, thought I'd be able to sell some of my old manuscripts to raise the money to pay it off, but Snoke wouldn't budge.

“So I stayed, and I fulfilled that two year period. And when I told Snoke I was out, he told me he had invoked an option that I didn't even know was in the contract a month before, and so I was contracted for another two years. And that's when I lost it. I drank way too much, I trashed my apartment, and when I came out of the anger-induced haze, I made the decision to leave anyway. I called our rep at the label, told him what was going on and that I quit, and then I left in the middle of the night, because Snoke couldn't stop me that way.”

When Kylo looked up, Rey was looking at him. “Do you understand now why I don't want anything to do with the First Order stuff? I was motherfucking miserable, Rey. I thought so many times about just ending it all but then I'd think about Mama and Dad and Luke and Grandma and Grandpa and most importantly you and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't do that to all of you. I tried to escape Hux and Phasma but I can't. I tried to give up music but I can't. I've tried everything I can think of to kill Kylo Ren but I can't. And that's when I realized that I can't kill Kylo Ren because now I am Kylo Ren. And there is a part of me that hates that so, so much.”

Rey stood up and walked over to where Kylo was sitting, getting down on the floor and tucking herself into his side. Kylo pulled her as close as they possibly could be and they sat there quietly for a long while.

“You are a good actor,” she said eventually. “You looked like you were having the time of your life.”

“How would you know?”

Rey sighed. “I listened to every song on repeat for hours. I watched every music video. Every interview. I looked at every picture. Your hair was long and you had a different name but your face, you were still my Ben. And I tried to get over my Ben, but I think you know by now that I wasn't successful at that. And to hear you say that you were miserable, probably more miserable than I was, I just...I don't know what to say.”

“I don't want you to say anything,” Kylo said. “I wanted to bury this deep inside me and never think about it again. But Jess found out about the closet one day and she's been bugging me about it ever since, and I knew that one day you were going to find it and I didn't want that to happen but I didn't want to tell you about it either.”

“Jess told me,” Rey said. “I was angry that you didn't, but now that I've heard what you had to say, I understand. I don't blame you for not wanting to remember any of that. But is there really nothing about it that you want to remember?”

“Oh, sure there is. Listening to people sing back at us words that I wrote? That was fucking incredible. Seeing the world was pretty amazing, or well, what I saw of it from the inside of a bus or a plane or a car. The fans were pretty great when they weren't crying just because I was in front of them. But the good does not outweigh the bad.”

“If you wanted to kill Kylo so badly, why didn't you go back to the name Ben?”

“Because Ben is a name that doesn't belong to anyone anymore. I wasn't lying when I said that I killed Ben Solo. The person I was when I left for the band? That person doesn't exist anymore. You know that. I had become this person that was known as Kylo Ren, and I decided I might as well stay him.”

“What were you going to do when we get married?” Rey asked. “Just put a false name on the marriage license?”

“No,” Kylo said. “I've actually got the lawyer working on it now. I'm going to legally change my name to Kylo Ren.”

Rey tilted her head up so she could look at him. “Are you sure you want to do that?”

“The last few years have cemented it for me. Ben Solo isn't coming back. I thought that maybe being back here might draw him back out, but no. I've become more like Kylo than I ever was before.” Kylo gave her a small smile. “This doesn't bother you, does it?”

“No. This is how it was meant to be.”

“Meant to be?”

"I've thought about this a lot, and maybe this is Luke's weird mysticism from Dagobah rubbing off on me, I don't know. But I think we were meant to go through all of this. Who knows what would have happened to us if you'd stayed here. You weren't happy. You weren't in a good place mentally. I wasn't in the best place either. We were keeping lots of secrets from each other. I mean, I knew you were bipolar but I had no idea about your suicide attempt and you didn't know about mine or about my father's abuse,” Rey said, pausing. “Those aren't little secrets, and those aren't secrets you should be keeping from the person you're thinking about marrying. I think it was good for both of us to be apart for awhile, then realize when we came back together that we had to get all that shit out into the open or else we weren't going to make it. You cannot deny that we're in a much better place now than we've ever been, both individually and as a couple.”

“I don't know about the meant to be part of it,” Kylo said after a moment. “But I agree with you that we're in a much better place than we ever were before. Even if I don't know how you put up with me.”

“Sometimes I don't know how I put up with you,” Rey laughed. “But then I realize you put up with me too, so I guess we're even.”

“You are mine, I am yours,” Kylo murmured. “Let's not fuck around.”

Rey raised an eyebrow at that. “Excuse me?”

“Stay right here, okay?” Kylo said, letting go of her and getting up. “I need to go get something.”

“Alright,” Rey said as Kylo jogged out of the kitchen and into his office, digging through the bottom drawer of his desk for the box he'd hidden there. This wasn't what he'd been planning, but he knew deep down that after their conversation this was the right time.

Grabbing the box, he took a deep breath and smoothed his hair down before walking back into the kitchen and sitting down next to Rey. “You are mine, I am yours,” he repeated, reaching for her hand. “And so I give you this.”

Rey looked down as Kylo placed a velvet ring box in the palm of her hand and she immediately felt tears well up in her eyes. She'd been expecting it for awhile, but still, even knowing it was coming didn't change the response. “Kylo.”

“Open it.”

Rey swallowed hard and reached for the box, opening it up to reveal the most gorgeous diamond ring she'd ever seen. She stared at it as tears began to stream down her cheeks, and she felt Kylo lean close to her.

“I love you more than anything in this world. There is nothing I have ever wanted more than to spend the rest of my days being by your side, and I promise you that to the best of my ability I will never, ever, leave you again.” Kylo paused. “Rey, I'm going to ask you a question now, and I'd really like it if you said yes. Are you ready for the question?”

Rey stared at the ring for a few more moments before nodding.

Kylo smiled. “Rey, will you marry me?”

Rey reached into the box and pulled the ring out, twirling it around in her fingers until she felt like she was able to speak.

“Yes.”

Kylo reached out with shaky fingers and took the ring from Rey, taking her left hand and sliding it onto the correct finger. Rey lifted up her hand and took in the sight of it for a few moments before turning to look at him, a huge smile on her face. Kylo echoed her grin and then they closed the distance between them, lips meeting in a gentle kiss that turned deep quickly.

When they broke apart, Kylo reached up and wiped away the tracks of Rey's tears with his thumbs. “I love you, Rey.”

“I love you too,” Rey whispered. “So, what do we do now?”

Kylo chuckled. “Well, now we get married.”

“When?”

“I don't know. When do you want to get married?”

Rey's smile softened. “I don't know.”

“Well, you let me know when you're ready,” Kylo said, leaning in for another kiss. “We should probably start calling people.”

“Not yet,” Rey said, leaning into Kylo. “Let's just enjoy this ourselves for awhile.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Kylo brushed a kiss across the top of her head and smiled. “Whatever you want to do, baby.”

“Right now I just want to sit here with you,” Rey said, letting her head rest on Kylo's shoulder. “You know if we call Leia she'll be over here in no time.”

“Good point,” Kylo said. “Rey?”

“What?”

“If you want me to stay Ben Solo until after we get married, just so you can be Mrs. Solo for awhile, I will.”

Rey shook her head. “No. Mrs. Solo is your mother. I wasn't meant to be Mrs. Solo. I was meant to be Mrs. Ren.”

“Are you sure?”

“Darling, I've spent most of the last few years getting used to the idea that I was probably going to be Mrs. Ren instead of Mrs. Solo. Let's not confuse my brain.”

Kylo let out a small laugh. “Alright, sweetheart. I'll make sure my name is changed before we get married.”

“How long will that take?”

“The paperwork should be ready to file early next week.”

“Good,” Rey said. “I don't want to wait that much longer.”

“Anxious to get it over with?”

Rey tilted her head so she was looking up at him. “Kylo, I'm wanting to move on with our lives. We could be in a very different place in our lives right now if things hadn't happened the way they did. So I'm anxious to get on with it already, not to get anything over with.”

“I can understand that,” Kylo murmured, bending down to kiss her. “I'm ready to get on with it too.”

“Then get that paperwork filed, tell me once you're legally Kylo, and we'll go down to the courthouse. In the meantime, I'll start figuring out something to wear.”

“Yes ma'am.”

Chapter Text

When Leia heard that they were planning on having the party celebrating their courthouse wedding inside their house, she immediately vetoed the idea. She was insistent that if they didn't have a proper wedding that had to at least have a proper party, and after listening to her go on and on about it for nearly forty-five minutes, Kylo and Rey had a silent conversation before Kylo turned to Leia and told her that she was in charge of putting it together.

So their party at the house had turned into a party at one of the larger venues in town, with family and friends and colleagues from across the country flying in to Manhattan for the occasion. White twinkling lights hung above everyone's heads, and there was lace everywhere Kylo looked. Leia had demanded he wear a suit for the occasion, and Rey was in a long white dress, the closest Leia could get to her wearing a real wedding dress.

Kylo was pretty sure that half of Manhattan was in attendance, but he really didn't care. Rey was his wife. That was all that mattered.

Music was playing in the background and some of the guests were up and dancing. Kylo wanted to join them, but his wife was across the room talking to Duchess Satine, and despite his best efforts, he'd only made it about six feet in attempting to get to her before he had been stopped by one of his second cousins' daughters who wanted nothing more than to talk First Order with him.

The last thing he wanted to do that day was talk First Order.

He eventually wrangled himself out of that conversation and made his way towards Rey, this time getting about another eight feet before he was stopped by Snap. “Hello Snap.”

“Congratulations, Kylo,” Snap said, holding out his hand. “I really mean that.”

Kylo shook his hand and smiled. “I'm a lucky man.”

“You certainly are. Now if only I could find someone.”

“You will,” Kylo said. “Have faith.”

“I'm trying,” Snap said. “Anyway, Jess is trying to find you. She said it's something about what you wanted her to monitor.”

Kylo sighed heavily. “Thanks Snap.”

“Anytime,” Snap said, walking away.

Kylo searched the room for Jessika, spotting her over in the corner near where the bar was. He started making his way over to her, but was stopped three times for conversations with people he wasn't even sure he knew before he finally reached her. “Jess.”

“Hey!” Jessika said, smiling. “Great party.”

“Thanks,” Kylo said. “Snap said something's up with what you're monitoring.”

“Ah, yes,” Jessika said, reaching into her clutch and pulling out a phone. “I got an email from the band's publicist. They're putting out this statement.”

Jessika clicked through a couple of screens then handed the phone to Kylo. Kylo read the words there once, twice, three times before he believed what he was reading. “This isn't bullshit.”

“I know,” Jessika said, taking the phone back. “I emailed your publicist to see if that's the statement that was really put out and she said yes. Apparently they also did an interview on one of the morning shows today too, and they had nothing but complimentary things to say about you and Rey. I'll have the video of that as soon as possible.”

“Huh,” Kylo said, unsure of how to process that. “I was not expecting that.”

“I know you weren't,” Jessika said. “But maybe it's just that enough time passed.”

“Maybe,” Kylo said, turning to look over his shoulder when he heard his name. “Hello love.”

Rey smiled as she walked up to him and he wrapped his arm around her waist. “I've been trying to get to you for awhile. God, there's so many people here. I'm not sure I know half of them.”

“I think a lot of this is people Mama and Dad know that she feels need to be here,” Kylo said, reaching for the phone again. “Rey, read this. This is the statement Hux and Phasma put out.”

Rey took the phone and quickly read it. “They're happy for us? That's the statement?”

“Apparently they've been on television saying nice things too,” Kylo said, shaking his head. “I might have to actually acknowledge that they've grown up.”

“Or that Hux isn't such an asshole when he's sober,” Rey said, putting her head on Kylo's shoulder. “Phasma's mellowed out too. She texts me all the time.”

“I'm still not sure how I feel about that.”

“She's just trying to be friendly.”

“Yeah, well, the Phasma I know wouldn't try to be friendly.”

“You said it yourself. Maybe she's grown up.”

Jessika laughed. “I think you guys should worry about them another time. Instead, I believe you have a gigantic cake to cut.”

They looked in the direction Jessika pointed to and saw a full size wedding cake being wheeled out of the kitchen.

“You really did let Leia do whatever she wanted, didn't you?” Rey said.

“She was so upset that there was no wedding,” Kylo said. “I had to let her do something.”

“Well, come on, I guess we're cutting a cake,” Rey said, ready to walk away.

Kylo tightened his grip on Rey and spun her around in his arms, grinning at her. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Rey said as Kylo leaned in for a kiss.

Jessika laughed as Kylo deepened the kiss, walking away when it became clear that they'd forgotten she was there.

Kylo broke the kiss when he needed to breathe, resting his forehead on Rey's and smiling. “You're my heart, you're my soul, and I'm so sorry my mother has turned this into basically a wedding without the ceremony.”

Rey laughed. “You are my heart, you are my soul, and it's alright. I knew as soon as we put Leia in charge of this that our idea of a party was gone and a wedding reception was the likely result.”

“Kids!” came Leia's voice, and they looked over to see Leia approaching them. “Time to cut the cake!”

“Mama, just hold off on the cake for about fifteen minutes?” Kylo asked. “Rey and I need a few minutes alone together.”

“Oh alright,” Leia said, grinning at them. “I am so very happy. I hope you know that.”

“We do, Mom,” Rey said. “I promise you. We do.”

Leia's grin got even wider. “Mom! Oh!”

Leia walked up to them and pulled Rey into a big hug. “I have a daughter now, and she's calling me Mom.”

Rey smiled at Kylo over Leia's shoulder. “Well, I have a mother again so it's only fitting.”

Leia pulled back with tears in her eyes, sniffling. “Alright, I have to go tell Mama about this. I'll hold off on the cake cutting.”

“Thanks Mama,” Kylo said, taking Rey's hand in his and leading her out a side door into a hallway. “So, Mrs. Ren.”

Rey grinned. “Yes, Mr. Ren?”

“Should we take a moment and talk about our honeymoon?”

“I thought we agreed we weren't taking a honeymoon.”

“Well, that was before I was able to book the entire hotel in the Seychelles,” Kylo said, grinning at her. “It's going to be no one but you, me, and the staff for a week.”

Rey's eyes lit up. “The Seychelles! We haven't been there in forever!”

“I know,” Kylo said. “That's why I picked it.”

“That's a wonderful surprise,” Rey said, watching as Kylo pulled paperwork out of his coat. “Now what's that?”

Kylo took a deep breath and handed the paperwork over to Rey. “I hope it's not too much.”

Rey gave Kylo a strange look before opening up the paperwork to find real estate listings and a picture of a gorgeous house. “What is this?”

“I thought we needed a place to go to get away from Manhattan every once and awhile,” Kylo said. “It's on Milford Lake so it's not that far away, so we can just go for a weekend or whatever. But it's my wedding gift to you.”

Rey sighed heavily. “I didn't need a wedding gift.”

“If you don't like it, we can sell it.”

“I didn't say I didn't like it,” Rey said. “I just said I didn't need a wedding gift.”

“Does that mean you like it then?” Kylo asked.

Rey looked at the paperwork again. “I don't know what we need a four bedroom house on Milford Lake for, but it's gorgeous, Kylo. I am definitely interested in this plan you have. How much?”

“That's not important.”

“Kylo.”

“No,” Kylo said. “We're married now, Rey. There's no more of this yours and mine stuff. Everything I have is yours.”

Rey stood there for a moment before nodding. “Okay.”

“Excuse me?”

“Okay,” Rey said. “You're right. We need to stop with the separate lives and make a life together and part of that means combining the money we have. Does this mean I'm going to go spend all your money? No. Does this mean I'm still going to struggle with you spending lots of money on me? Probably. But I'm not going to complain about it anymore. There is no more mine and yours. There is only ours. And that, I guess, is my wedding gift to you, because I don't actually have a gift.”

Kylo grinned. “I will gladly take that gift.”

Rey stepped closer to Kylo and he wrapped his arms around her waist. “We should probably go back in there and cut that cake.”

“I think we can wait a few more minutes,” Kylo said, bringing his arms up to tangle in her hair. “Right now I just want to kiss you.”

Rey smiled. “I think that sounds like a good idea.”