Rey stood and waited in a meadow in the forest on the planet Arbra in the Outer Rim. She had only just arrived but already started tapping her foot and move about out of impatience. The reason for her being here was that she was meeting someone. That 'someone' wasn’t just anyone. That 'someone' was no other than Kylo Ren.
It had been roughly nine months since the events on Crait, when Luke Skywalker sacrificed himself and passed on to the Force. That was also the last time Rey and Kylo had been remotely close to each other. After that, when she thought he wanted nothing but her joining the First Order and he had seen her shut the door on him, they hadn’t spoken to each other or even tried to reach out to each other at all. Not until one week ago.
It was Kylo that had reached out, in her sleep when her mind was open and her guards down. He didn’t say much, only that he wanted to meet up with her and that it was important. His face was covered with his mask and when she had seen it she was convinced that Kylo Ren was back and Ben Solo was only a memory albeit maybe a temporary one. Rey had reluctantly agreed to see him, still angry with him but a small part of her also looked forward to it. She wanted to hate him and she did, but whether she actually hated him or simply hated the things he had done, she didn’t know. It made her confused and hopefully her meeting with him would bring some answers to that. No matter her feelings and no matter how long that had passed since when they last saw each other, she couldn’t help but still hoping that he would turn back to the light one day. That he was still redeemable.
Finn and Poe had of course volunteered to come with her, especially Finn who absolutely didn’t want her to be close to Kylo Ren again. But both Rey and general Organa knew that this was something Rey had to do on her own. Leia wasn’t oblivious to whatever feelings Rey harbored for her son and she knew Kylo well enough to know that more people from the Resistance would make him reluctant to talk or even worse, make him act out in bad ways.
His command shuttle appeared in the grey sky, like a giant black bird and hadn’t Rey known better she would’ve thought it was built solely for the purpose to scare people. She felt her heart beat extra hard at the sight of it, both from fear and from excitement. She also felt his presence, like a vibration in the air and it touched her skin causing it to prickle. The closer the shuttle came, the bigger it became and he landed not far away from her. Not long after the engines had turned off, the ramp fell down and then she saw him.
He was standing at the top of the ramp, starting to walk down in long strides. He was wearing his helmet, his usual tunic, pants and boots and now also a cape. When he had walked all the way down, he flicked his fingers and the ramp shut again. Rey stood still with her hands together in front of her, her head high and her face stern as he walked towards her and stopped maybe seven meters away from her.
“So we meet again, scavenger.” He finally said, his voice distorted from the helmet.
“So it appears, Supreme Leader.” She spat out in an almost mocking tone.
He didn't respond to that but leaned his head to the right, as if he was inspecting her.
“You’re wearing different clothes.” He said, taking in her new white wardrobe. “They look good on you.”
“And your mask is back.” She stated, not caring to say “thank you” to his compliment.
He ignored her words and instead decided to ask her if anyone she knew, knew about this, their meeting.
“Do any of your friends know where you are?”
“My friends and your mother know that I have gone to meet you, but not where. Both Leia and I knew that whatever this is about, it is something only the two of us have to take care of. What about your...companions?”
“They don’t know where I am. I simply told them I needed time away to reflect upon a few things. Luckily they are easily fooled. I have disabled the tracker, and the comms.”
He changed the subject when he saw something familiar stuck to Rey’s belt.
“Skywalker’s saber, did you mend it?”
“Maybe I did. Why do you care?”
“Why do I care? Because like I told you before, it belongs to me. It belonged to my grandfather before me and now I should have it.”
Rey strode a bit to her left, him following her so that they circled each other.
“Really? I thought you didn’t want anything to do with your family. Isn't the First Order your priority now, Ben?”
His breathing turned loud and she was sure he was fuming under his mask. He lifted his finger towards her and spoke in a hissing manner.
“Don’t...speak...that name. Ben Solo is dead.”
“That’s what you want me, and mostly yourself, to believe. Ben Solo is very much alive, and he is standing right in front of me. You can never run away from your past, just like I can never run away from mine.”
They didn’t stop circling, watching each other intently for any signs of unexpected movements to surprise the other.
“Ben Solo would never kill Han Solo, the man who was supposed to be his father. The man who was supposed to be there for him.”
He stilled and Rey did the same. She could swear she heard his voice break a little, but she didn’t have time to reflect on it before he spoke again.
“I can’t go back, Rey. What is done is done. I cannot go back to my mother either. It is lost, I am lost. You have to understand that. I am beyond saving. Don't try to save something when there is nothing left to save.”
Even if it was impossible to touch him from this distance and her mind told her not to, she couldn’t help but reach out her hand towards him. There was no Kylo for her now, only Ben, and saying his name felt more natural than it should be.
“Enough! I don’t need your pity when I know there is no hope for me.” He growled before bending down, placing his hands on his knees and huffing. He knew this meeting would make cause a tornado of emotions but when they happened he still wasn’t prepared.
When he had taken a few deep breaths and recovered, he rose again and seemed even taller than before, looming over her although they didn’t stand close.
“Those who you call friends, you know they will only want your power and abandon you when you need them the most right?”
Tears welled up in her eyes and she reached for her saber and released it from her belt. “Stop it. My friends will not abandon me.” Her pity for him now turned into anger.
”Maybe not them, but all your other allies. What are you going to do if you lose and they leave you, wondering why you couldn’t save them with your Force powers?”
“They don’t know about those powers yet.”
“Oh but they will, as soon as the next battle starts.”
Rey felt her control slip, she pushed the button and ignited her saber. “The Resistance will win, and the First Order will lose. With or without my powers.” She gritted out, not willing to lose this battle between them.
Ben widened his stance, as if preparing himself for an attack. “This war won’t have any winners, Rey. Only losers. There will be nothing but bloodshed, and lots of it. Even we might not survive. Which is why I want to tell you...”
He didn’t have the time to finish before Rey couldn’t take it anymore. Hearing him talk about the war and how lots of people, even innocent, would be killed was too much for her to hear. Too many people had lost their lives at the hands of the First Order already and she couldn’t handle the fact that it would likely happen again. With a feral scream, she advanced on him with her saber above her head. He was prepared though and swiftly moved to the side. Rey slid in the humid grass and almost tumbled over, giving Ben just enough time to release his own saber from his belt and ignite it. When Rey got her balance back she came for him again but he was quick to block it. Rey continued attacking him with a series of blows but Ben paraded each one, backing as she refused to give up. They didn’t say anything, only grunting and screaming when using their weapons, no awareness of their surroundings as they went deeper into the forest.
The characteristic sound of lightsabers clashing together echoed through the forest as they fought, or rather as Rey tried to fight Ben but he was barely reciprocating. Sometimes they would hit twigs and bushes but neither caught fire thanks to the dampness that covered them. Rey was getting tired now, her style of fighting not exactly being one of strategy but more guided, or rather controlled, by her emotions. Ben noticed this and when the next blow hit his saber, he pushed back with a bit more force than before making Rey almost stumble backward in surprise. This was the opportunity Ben had been waiting for. When Rey had gained her footing and hit his saber again, he used her tiredness and hit back with even more force and knocked the saber from her hands. This time, Rey fell to the ground with a shriek and landed on her backside. When she tried to reach for her saber that had landed next to her Ben was quicker and placed his boot on it, trapping it. Rey had no chance to reach it and she leaned back again, breathing heavily as she watched him in defeat. Ben didn’t move, he only stood still looking back down at her, holding his red crackling saber to his side. When he didn’t say anything, Rey sneered up towards him and bared her teeth.
“Do it, kill me then.”
She raised her chin, exposing her throat and inviting him to end it there and then. Suddenly he extinguished his saber and put it back to his belt, still standing on her saber in case she would try to grab it again.
Rey blinked and frowned, confused.
“What do you mean “no”? Isn't this what you wanted, after I left on Crait? Now you have the chance.”
A couple of tears left Rey’s eyes before she managed to hold back the rest. What did he want from her? If he clearly wanted to kill her then at least she would’ve had an answer. He has had feelings for her before, of that she was certain, but what about now? She didn’t dare to reach out to his mind because she was too scared of knowing the answer. Slowly, she stood on her feet and winced at the aching muscles in her body, watching him the whole time. Even if he had his helmet on she thought she could feel his gaze on her and she kept her eyes at level with it the whole time.
“You honestly think I could kill you? After everything we have shared together, been through together? I could never kill you, Rey.”
He raised his hands then, grabbed his helmet, unlocked it and lifted it off his head. What was revealed made Rey catch her breath. His black hair was longer than the last time they had seen each other, it almost reached his shoulders now. He was also paler, making the scar she had left on his face even more prominent and dark circles had formed under his eyes. He looked rough, like he hadn’t gotten much sleep lately, but still youthful and, just like before, incredibly beautiful.
“Then why did you want me to come here, if it wasn’t to have the chance to kill me? What do you want from me?” She said hoarsely, tears flowing freely down her cheeks now both as a result of frustration and the range of emotions she felt thanks to seeing his face again.
Thunder was heard in the distance, indicating that a storm was nearby and dark clouds had gathered above them. The wind picked up as well and caused Ben’s long hair to sweep around his neck. His mouth formed a thin line and his eyes bore into hers as he took a couple of long strides towards her.
“Do you really not know, or do you just pretend not to know?” He paused and took a deep, shaky breath, dropping his helmet to the ground. “I still have feelings for you, Rey.”
It was almost like a blaster shot had hit her in the stomach, but the shot turned into a swarm of butterflies instead of a hurtful wound. No matter how much she tried to repress the feeling, she couldn’t and especially not when she heard his natural dark and smooth voice instead of his distorted masked one.
“You, you still have feelings for me?” The words came out in a stutter and not as confident as she wanted them to.
“Yes, Rey. I have had many dreams about you since we met, but I had one particular dream about us one month ago. After that dream, I realized I had to see you again. My longing for you was too big. I can feel you have longed for me too. I know I said there is no hope for me, but I wanted you to know and maybe, just maybe, you could learn to feel the same as I do."
She turned away from him then, she couldn’t allow him to see her. Couldn't allow him to see that he was right about her missing him and having feelings for him, she didn’t want to give him that power. He didn’t stop talking though, his following words feeling like they penetrated her very soul.
“You’re using your anger as a shield, as a cover for your real emotions. You know you can’t hide from me Rey. When your mind is open like it is now, I don’t even need to try to look into it.”
He took one big step forward and when she felt the warmth of him from behind, she turned around again. He put his hands on her shoulders then and she elevated them for a second but then allowed them to release again. His grip wasn’t hard but rather a reaffirmation that he was there and the feeling of those leather-clad gloves against her skin made her inhale sharply.
“Please Rey, stop trying to hide from me, stop trying to run away. Be the strong woman I know you can be, the woman who is not afraid to show how she really feels, the woman who is not afraid to love.”
It started with his lip, then his chin, and suddenly his whole face was twitching and trembling while his dark eyes never left hers. He was practically begging her, his tone similar to his "Please?" after them defeating Snoke in the throne room. Those words of his and the sincerity behind them, the buzzing of the Force surrounding them both, his proximity and all the feelings attached to it was what finally broke the dam. Rey started crying, shutting her eyes tightly and loud sobs shook her body while her hands grabbed the thick fabric of his tunic. She felt like she was in emotional turmoil and desperately needed to hold on to him to steady herself. It felt so good, so good to finally let go of everything and she knew that with Ben she could be open about everything. No other person knew her as well as he did and he would not belittle her for crying or shouting or losing her temper, in fact he had already encouraged it. With a newfound need to be held, she threw her arms around his shoulders and hugged him tightly to her, his thick robes both cushioning her and absorbing her tears that fell freely.
Ben’s arms embraced her back and he hugged her in return, hesitating for a second out of fear of crushing her but mostly because he hadn’t been hugged since he was a small child. When Rey fell deeper into his arms he relaxed a bit and put his lips to her ear.
“I am here. I am not leaving you. Let it all out.”
Rey continued sobbing and hiccuping into Ben’s shoulder, the fabric of his clothes stifling her cries. She had never felt so relieved before, it was like a massive weight had been lifted from her body and soul. But there was yet another thing nagging her mind.
“You still fought me today, why did you do that if you have feelings for me?” She asked, her face still buried in his shoulder which made her words sound muffled but Ben heard them clearly.
“How else would I make you listen? Besides, I basically only defended myself. I only wanted to knock the saber out of your hands and that’s it. I never had the intention of hurting you Rey, I still don’t and I never will.”
His mouth was at her hair now, only grazing it but still very much present and his voice felt calming and healing, like it was putting the shards of her broken soul back together. Somehow, Rey knew he meant what he said. She knew he was a man that was true to his word, one of the few things about him she knew for certain.
The sky had grown darker and another roll of thunder was heard, it was closer now but no lightning as of yet. When Rey felt that she had no tears left, she unfolded her arms and stepped back a bit but she still kept her palms on his chest. Ben had dropped his arms from her completely and he looked like he was waiting for something. His eyes flickered all over her face, lingering on her lips before meeting her eyes again. Rey took a deep breath and shivered. He smelled wonderful; soap mixed with sweat and on top of it all, the incredibly intoxicating scent of leather. Her lips parted slightly and her eyes shifted focus from his to the small crease in the middle of his bottom lip. His mouth looked so inviting, red and plump and parted just like hers. Without thinking, she inched closer and closer.
Then, she kissed him; her very first kiss. Or well, not her very first, but her first one with her consent. She pressed her lips hard to his and at first he seemed a bit shocked, stiffening and keeping completely still, he wasn’t even breathing. It only took him a few moments though to respond, cautiously moving his lips against hers and leaning his head to the side to gain better access while tentatively placing his hands on her hips. Rey tried to follow his lead the best she could, wondering if he had kissed anyone before since he seemed better at this than her. Neither seemed to notice the raindrops that now fell from the sky, all they could focus on was the soft and warm feelings they both experienced as they melted into the kiss.
His lips were just as soft as they looked, and Rey sighed as she moved her fingers up Ben’s neck to his hair. She grasped the thick strands, her curiosity about how that hair would feel between her fingers finally sated. Ben groaned in surprise and broke the kiss. They both panted and looked into each other’s eyes, Rey still keeping her fingers in Ben’s curls and he kept holding her hips.
“Rey...” He leaned in, his forehead touching hers and his hot breath washing over her face. “Can you feel it? What it is between us?”
A sudden desire came over Rey, a desire she had never felt before. A desire where she needed to see him and also feel him, all of him, without all those layers of clothing he wore. Her body turned hot and she felt a pull in her lower abdomen which made her gravitate towards him and press herself even closer. As much as it excited her it also scared her. It was something that felt so foreign and yet so natural and it was the part that felt natural that scared her. If things hadn’t been clear before, then they certainly were now. Rey was in love, she was undeniably in love with Ben Solo.
“Yes, yes I can feel it.”
She shouldn’t feel like this, he was the enemy and they were supposed to be fighting. But her finally admitting to herself that she was in love with Ben made her start crying again. She kissed him again, whimpering and her hands clutched his collar hard, pulling him down to her level. Ben hugged her tight and this time they both stood still, not moving until Rey broke the kiss. Her firm grip on his collar remained, great sobs wracked her body and tears streamed down her face. Ben’s whole face twitched again and his hard grip on her hips mirrored her own.
“Rey, if there is anything you want from me then tell me. Be it me staying here with you or me leaving you in peace, I will give it to you.”
For Rey there was no choice any longer, it was as clear as the vision she had of Ben when they had touched hands through the Force and she had seen him turn to the light. She looked at him through misty eyes.
“I want Ben back.” She rasped. “My Ben. The real Ben who I know is in there somewhere.”
For every sob, one bit of tension left her. Ben was crying now too, unable to hold up the mental shield he had put around himself for so long. The rain fell heavier on them now. The thunder couldn’t be heard any longer and the wind had died down. It was just them, the forest and the rain.
“And you have him. You have me.”
Instinct then overcame thought as Ben captured Rey’s lips with his, brought his hands up and cradled her head and with his body pushed her backward, backing her up against a tree. She gasped slightly with pain and Ben took the opportunity to graze her lips with his tongue, carefully asking for permission to take this kiss to the next level. Rey’s tongue met his and they both moaned. Ben had kissed a few people in his life but never open-mouthed like this. Judging by the sounds she made and the way she kissed him back, clearly inexperienced too but with great passion, he seemed to be doing just fine.
As Rey once more put her hand in his hair he felt himself grow hard between his legs and he cursed himself inwardly, hoping she wouldn’t shove him away when she felt it. It wasn’t the first time he was hard in Rey’s presence, only never this hard unless he had been dreaming about her or them together and had woken up with a great erection. But then, they had never been this near each other and the only barrier between them now was their clothes.
Moving his hands from her wet strands to her back he shielded her a bit from the tree and instead pressed her against him. He was certain she would feel his arousal now and while it embarrassed him before, it now turned him on knowing she would and he growled as he tilted his head more to the side to further deepen their kisses.
Rey couldn’t stop kissing Ben. Many times, more times than she would like to admit, she had wondered what it would feel like having those lips of his against hers. So far they certainly didn’t disappoint. It all felt so good! Granted, she had never kissed anyone before willingly so she didn’t have anything to compare with but she doubted something would ever get near this. He tasted just as good as he smelled, musky and in a way dark yet sweet and with a hint of salt from both’s tears. She felt the bark of the tree against her upper back but Ben’s large hands on the small of her back and her own hands in his soft hair soothed the small pain. Those things weren’t the only thing she felt though. Something was poking her belly and her eyes opened wide when she realized what it was. A wetness formed between her legs then, warm and slick compared to the cold rain that was pouring down on them now. The only thing keeping them warm right now was their physical contact and the heated feelings that bloomed within them both.
Ben's heart was beating furiously in his chest. When he went here, he would never have imagined that he would kiss the love of his life passionately against a tree in a downpour and after a fight at that. They were both lost in their kisses when Rey pressed her lower stomach into his and started to rub herself against him. The move was so unexpected that Ben pulled away from her lips in surprise. They were thoroughly soaked, their hair glued to their heads just like the inner layer of their clothes. Ben suddenly felt guilty. What had he been thinking? Had they continued then who knows what would’ve happened against that tree and even if Rey was a willing participant he would never have forgiven himself. Rey deserved something better, someone better. Someone who wasn’t selfish and who didn’t risk her falling ill.
They had to seek protection from the foul weather. Both were shivering, the heat of their union now having left them. They both looked up and then at each other again, it was clear the rain wasn’t going to stop any time soon. Ben let go of her, immediately feeling as if something vital had been ripped away from him but he tried to repress it, it was more important to get back to his ship as soon as possible.
“Let’s go to my shuttle.”
With those words he took off in the opposite direction without looking back at her, leaving her standing with her mind blank. She felt unable to move and it was not because of him using his Force powers on her.
What in the kriff had just happened?