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Rey breathed deeply.

Here, on this planet, the air smelled of flowers and fresh water. It was peaceful and, for the first time in her life, she felt more in control of her destiny than ever before. On Jakku, she was trapped by circumstances and by her desire to have her family back. And of course, when Finn arrived into her life, everything changed. She left the small planet and never looked back.

The sun was setting and Rey knew that they had to leave the planet before the First Order had time to regroup. She went back into the Falcon and tried to smile at people has she passed them by.

Everyone had been really impressed by her abilities, especially those who had never heard of her. They had lost Luke Skywalker, but they still had Rey. She was more powerful than they could've hoped. She could help them defeat the First order.

It made her happy that, for once, people wanted her around, but for some reason her heart wasn't rejoicing in any kind of victory.

Soon enough, everyone started preparing for the night. Chewie went into the cockpit to pilot and Rey sat next to Poe and Finn while they talked with BB-8. At this point, she stopped listening to their conversation and started reflecting on the last days.

Part of her would always want a family, someone who would love her unconditionally. But if she had learned anything in the last few days, it was that your family would not always have your back.

Her own experiences were proof of that.

So were Ben's.

But she tried not to think about him, because it would require her to understand why she felt so sad since she left him.

Which she wasn't sure she wanted to do right now.

She stepped into her role in the Resistance because she did believe that the First Order would plunge to galaxy into despair. She didn't understand why they hated everything so much, why they wanted to rule people instead of helping them. Even when she was still a scavenger, she was kind to people who deserved it, never bullied anyone and never gave anyone a reason to fear her. She could have. In fact, many scavengers went down that road if they kept at it long enough. The First Order reminded her of those scavengers, those who would take everything they could without leaving anything for the others. Those who would sabotage other scavengers for extra portions. Granted, the life of a scavenger was not glamorous, but it could have been better without the competition. The First Order didn't want to stop the inequalities, they wanted to create a world with even more inequalities.

A world where a First Order commander would have more privileges than citizens, and where any enemies would be dealt with swiftly.

Still, being a Resistance fighter was not easy. It didn't even come close to being easy. Rey wasn't exactly sure what they were going to do now. None of their allies had responded to their call, and it seemed to her that it was a big problem. Sooner or later, they would need allies if they wanted to defeat the First Order. It seemed so hopeless, and she didn't understand why no one but the Resistance wanted to fight for freedom.

No, that wasn't exactly true. In a way, she did understand. When she met Finn, he didn't want to fight either. He was afraid of the First Order, probably because he had spent his whole life under their influence, and he would have run away if it hadn't been for her. But now, Finn was a dedicated member of the Resistance. Somehow, when he went on his adventure with Rose, it became personal for him. For the first time, he saw a new part of the world and discovered that so many people didn't care. While people were dying and suffering, others were partying. Sometimes, they didn't even support one side in particular, because they were more profits to be made in selling supplies to both sides. So Finn discovered that you didn't have to be part of the First Order to be a bad person.

At the same time, Rey learned to see the shades of grey.

But she didn't want to think about that either.

She wanted to do everything not to think about Ben.

Later, during the night, when everything became quiet and everyone went to sleep, she sat in the cockpit and stared at the stars. Chewie left because he had been piloting for far too long. Rey didn't mind the solitude, but the silence wasn't good for her right now.

The weight of recent events collapsed on her and her lips started trembling. She let out a small sob, and tried to stop the well of emotions currently submerging her.

She failed and started crying silently.

She had failed to bring Ben home. She had failed. She had failed. She had failed. She had failed.

She could still see the look on his face. Pleading and hopeful, and then angry. Desperate for someone to join him. Desperate for someone to stand by his side and support him. He was obviously craving a connection with someone. With her. Just like she had been craving all her life.

She had cried when he had made his offer, because she couldn't join him in these circumstances. She wasn't exactly a Jedi, but she did want to stand in the light. Or a least, she wanted to stand on the line between light and dark. Luke had been right about one thing: it was time for the Jedi to end. However, that didn't mean that the light side of the force would be gone without the Jedi.

So she would use her abilities to help people.

Even if it had broken her heart to leave Ben.

She didn't understand why she felt that way, because a few days ago she was so sure she hated him. He had killed Han Solo, his father, someone who loved him. Han hadn't been a great father, but he had come back for Ben. Rey would've done anything to have someone who loved her half that much. Ben had thrown away the one thing she wanted more than anything.

But she didn't hate him anymore. She just wanted him to come home, or a least stop fighting for the First Order, because Ben was going down a path Rey couldn't follow.

Did Ben even know that Luke was gone now? Had he felt it? If so, was he sad that he lost another member of his family? After all, Han's death hadn't brought any peace to him. But Luke had betrayed him in the worst of ways. Maybe that's why, in turn, Ben had betrayed his father. Maybe Ben simply didn't understand any relationship that didn't end in a betrayal.

She could still feel him in through their bond, so she knew that they were still connected. Rey guessed that the death of Snoke would keep the First Order occupied for the time being, especially Ben.

Snoke.

Dead.

She couldn't explain how she had felt when Ben had turned against his master. She knew Snoke had never been kind to him, so Ben had no reason to want him alive. However, it still seemed to her like Ben killed Snoke because of her. To save her. To make sure she was safe. Because he wanted her by his side.

She didn't understand how anyone could feel that strongly about her. After all, no one ever had.

"Rey?" came a voice outside the cockpit.

Rey didn't need to turn around to know that the voice belonged to Leia.

She tried to erase her tears and to calm her breathing, but Leia had seen everything. Slowly, she came to sit in the co-pilot seat and looked at her kindly.

"It would be stupid to ask you how you are doing, so I won't," she said softly. "However, I do want you to know that you can talk to me about whatever it is. Is it about Luke?"

Rey lowered her eyes. Could she really tell Leia about this? "Sort if," answered Rey, bitting her lower lip. "It's about Ben."

Leia inhaled deeply. Rey knew that she had lost hope, that she thought her son was gone for good.

Rey wasn't sure Leia was right.

"What about Ben?" asked Leia.

Rey hesitated. She hadn't talked to anyone about him. She hadn't even told anyone she had gone to see him.

"Snoke is dead," blurted Rey, looking up to Leia.

"What do you mean he's dead?" said Leia, surprised.

Leia couldn't quite seem to believe it. It was understandable, because Snoke had been a threat to the Resistance for so long.

"He's dead for good. Ben killed him," confessed Rey.

"Ben? Why would he do such a thing?," asked Leia. Suddenly, she grew somber. "Did he want to... take his place? Is it why he got rid of his master?"

Once again, Rey could see that Leia wasn't sure if Ben would ever come back to her. After all, he had done everything to prove that he wouldn't. However, for the first time, Rey knew, in her heart, that Ben wasn't truly gone.

"Not at the beginning," said Rey. "I didn't tell you any of this, but while I was gone, I went to see Ben. There's a connection between us because of the force. I don't know how it works, but it means we can talk to each other from miles away. We can sometimes feel what the other is feeling and we can see inside each other's head. It's... new and strange for me."

Rey took a deep breathe.

"Because of that bond, I knew that Ben was still conflicted about his path," continued Rey. "I would say that he's even more conflicted than ever, actually. He doubts himself at every step. So I went to see him."

"You went to see him?" breathed Leia. "How was he?" She couldn't seem to help herself. She still desperately wanted to any news of her son, even after all this time, even after everything he had done.

"Like I said, he's conflicted," she murmured. "He's so lost, Leia. He knows something is wrong with the life he chose, but he isn't able to figure out what. My guess is that he won't ever be happy on his own. So I wanted to help him. I wanted to convince him to come home. I failed."

Once again, her lips were trembling. She didn't want to cry in front of Leia, but maybe she wouldn't be able to help it.

"Oh, Rey, it's not your fault," said Leia. She looked to sad, so broken. Han was dead, her brother was dead and now her son was lost to her. "My son isn't the easiest of man. I've known he was lost for years, but I always thought we could bring him back. I had so much hope. I thought maybe Han would be able to bring him home, but you know how that went. It's not your responsibility to help him see the light, Rey. I won't blame you for anything, even if you see it as a failure."

A single tear escaped from her eyes.

"I know it's not my responsibility," said Rey softly. She had told Luke that if Ben came back to their side, their victory would be nearly certain. Of course, she still didn't know if that was true. However, it wasn't the only reason she wanted him to turn back to the light. "Bringing Ben back home wasn't a mission for me. Maybe at the beginning, but it became something else. It was faith. I had faith that there was still something good inside him. That he could still... love. I saw inside his heart and knew that he was meant for more than death and war."

Leia looked at her, startled. At the same time, she seemed to want to cry. Rey didn't have any children, but she could easily imagine why.

Ben was her son. She would always love him, despite all the horrible things he did.

Rey turned her head toward the stars once again.

"I know it seems stupid to believe that," admitted Rey. "But I believe it more than ever. Leia, Ben didn't kill Snoke for power. He killed him to protect me."

She looked to Leia to see how she would react. She did seem shocked.

"To protect you?" whispered Leia. "Ben wanted to protect you?"

Rey wasn't quite sure if Leia believe her or not.

"Snoke asked him to kill me," explained Rey. "The second he asked, Ben decided he wouldn't. Maybe he had decided ages ago, but in that moment, he wasn't conflicted anymore. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. He wanted me to live, so he killed his master to keep me safe."

Rey gulped. Now came the saddest part of the story.

"I thought I had succeeded," said Rey. "He saved me from Snoke and then we fought together. I thought he would help me defeat the First Order. Obviously, I was wrong."

"What did he want, if it wasn't power?" asked Leia.

"He wanted me to join him," confessed Rey. "He wanted me to rule by his side. He wanted you all to die so that no one could get in his way. He wanted someone to accept him for who he is. He wanted peace of mind." Rey hesitated, because the next part was pure speculation on her part. "In a way, I think he just wanted me."

Leia's breathing was uneven.

"Do you know why he attacked us, then? Why did he fire on you in the Falcon?" asked Leia.

"Like I said, he wanted the Resistance dead," said Rey. "'Let the past die, kill it if you have to' was what he said to me. Plus, he was so angry because I didn't join him. He couldn't think straight. As for him attacking me, I don't think he knew I was in the Falcon. There was an explosion on the ship and we were knocked unconscious. I woke up before him and left. To him, the Falcon is a reminder of Han, so I guess he wanted it gone."

"For so long, I had hoped that Ben could come back," said Leia. "Then, he killed Han, and I wasn't so sure anymore. I'm still not sure, Rey. I want him back, I want to have hope, but at the same time I'm so afraid to get hurt again. I don't want anyone else to die because of my foolish hope."

"It's not foolish," stated Rey."It's anything but foolish. Ben isn't gone, Leia, I promise you. And with time, I hope I can convince him to join us. And if he still doesn't want to join us, I hope I can at least convince him to leave the First Order behind."

Leia smiled.

"You spent only a few days with my brother and you already sound like him," she said. "Before he died, he said that no one is every truly gone."

Rey smiled back at her.

"He was right."


A few weeks later, the Resistance began establishing their new base. It was complicated because there were now very few Resistance fighters, but they made it work. Rey was very happy to be useful for once. People made her transport heavy objects and, with her help, they were able to set up shop sooner than they thought they would. In a way, things were looking up. In other ways, they weren't.

They were still no word from their allies. At this point, no one believed that help would come. So, they still didn't know what they were going to do next. On the bright side, there were still no words on the First Order, which probably meant that they were still reorganizing after Snoke's death.

There were also no words from Ben.

Rey was getting worried.

She had been trying to reach him for a while with their bond, but Ben kept the door shut on his side. At the beginning, she felt guilty because it was clear he was still hurting from her rejection. However, now, she was starting to get a little angry. After all, she had every right to refuse his offer. She didn't know why he had expected her to join him.

He had to know she would refuse.

Right?

Well, maybe he hadn't realized that she would refuse. After all, she did come to seek him out in the first place. But he could see in her mind, he could see her fears and her doubts. She even told him about it. She told him about the mirror, and he seemed to understand everything then. Ben knew that Rey felt hopeless because of her lack of a family. He knew that she would do anything to have a family of her own. Maybe it was why he thought she would accept to rule with him.

Because he was offering to be her family.

When this idea first came to her, she immediately brushed it away. After all, Ben had known her for a few weeks at the most. It seemed unlikely that he would care so much about her future so soon after meeting her. However, the more she thought about it, the more it made sense. Ben was as lonely as she was, and they understood one another.

For the first time, he had met someone who was truly his equal in every way. He probably didn't want to let that go.

So she kept tugging on their bond, hoping to speak with him. To see him. To tell him that she still wanted to connect with him.

But she got no answers.


The next day, Rey went for a walk in the forest, and stopped halfway to meditate. Ever since she left Jakku, she couldn't resist the call of the trees or the water. For her, it was all new, and she couldn't get enough of it. It was so calm and peaceful. If she ever settled on a planet, it would be one with forests and water. She was done with desert planets. From now on, she wouldn't be stuck anywhere ever again.

So, that day, as she was meditating, her wish came true.

"You're persistent, you know that?" snapped a voice behind her.

Rey knew instantly that Ben had finally answered her call. She turned around quickly, rising from her sitting position.

"Ben!" she exclaimed, speechless. She hadn't expected to hear from him so soon.

She looked at him. His scar still looked the same and so did his clothes. Rey was seriously starting to wonder if he wore anything else than black. Not that it mattered, because it suited him. However, the look on his face was new. At least, he had never looked at her this way. He was hurt. He felt betrayed. Even worse, he felt like she had betrayed him. A second ago, his tone indicated that he was less than pleased with her. However, his eyes told a different story.

He still wanted her to join him.

"I'm really glad you answered," she smiled softly. Rey didn't know what else to say yet. She had thought about Ben a lot in the last few days, but she had never really thought about what she wanted to say to him.

"You made your position very clear the last time we spoke, Rey," he snarled. Again, he seemed aggressive, but his spirit wasn't in it. "Why can't you stop bothering me?"

"What position?" asked Rey, coming closer to him. "I gave you no position at all."

"You refused-"

"Yes, I did. But I think you misunderstood where I was coming from."

Ben had seen her refusal as a rejection, as a sign that she didn't want to be associated with him.

He was wrong.

"What is there to misunderstand?" hissed Ben. "You didn't want to stay by my side and-"

"That's exactly what I was talking about!" interrupted Rey.

He fell silent. Maybe she was getting somewhere. Rey approached him even more.

Ever since they met, it became clear that they didn't really have boundaries when it came to each other. Rey didn't mind at all. She liked the familiarity, the intimacy. So she got closer to him. At this distance, she could see his eyelashes and the beginning of his stubble. She could smell him. She knew he had probably been on a ship all day, but he still smelled good. He smelled of the forest.

This close, she felt so small. Years of training had made him very muscled, and he was also taller than her. If she hadn't been strong with the force, he probably would have been able to snap her in half with his bare hands.

But Rey wasn't afraid, because somehow she knew he wouldn't hurt her. She could feel it.

"Ben, how would you have felt if I had asked you to leave the First Order and join me in the Resistance?" asked Rey.

He looked taken aback.

"It would have been misguided to ask me to join the Resistance," said Ben. "My goals have never been aligned with theirs, and I know now that most of them are hypocrites and liars. Because of that, I would never associate myself with then."

"There you go," said Rey, looking up at him. She was so close that she could touch him. Rey didn't know if she should at this point. She hadn't finished making her point, but she hoped he would understand how she felt. "I feel the same, Ben. I don't belong with the First Order. I don't believe in their ideas or their mission. I think you associate with monsters and murderers. I would never associate myself with them."

"What are you saying?" he asked very quietly. He seemed unsure of what she was getting at.

"I'm not sure yet," admitted Rey. "I thought about what happened between us, and I have a few things to say about that. Would you please listen to me? I promise I don't want you any harm."

Ben still seemed unsure, but he nodded. Maybe he was too curious about what she had to say to throw another vicious comeback at her.

She let out a breath. Rey wasn't used to being nervous, especially when it came to other people. She had never been shy, so this emotion was alien to her. She was worried about saying the wrong thing to Ben and messing up.

"You've seen who I am, Ben," said Rey. "You've been in my head and in my heart. You probably know me very well by now. I'd like to think that I know you well too. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm not, but regardless, I know one thing about you. I know a part of you still wants me to join you. Am I wrong?"

"You know you're not," said Ben. "I wouldn't have made the offer if I wasn't ready to commit to it. I make very few promises, but I always keep them."

"I feel the same," confessed Rey. "I still want you to join me. I told you that, remember? I told you that I wanted you to turn and come with me. My vision showed me you could still be saved if I went to you. I know it's illogical, but I still want you..."

Would she dare say it? She stared into his eyes. For a moment, she felt like she was overwhelmed. Ben was always so intense, and their connection made it impossible for her to ignore what was between them.

"...I still want you by my side," she whispered to him.

She could feel his emotions right now. He was still hurt about the other day, but his heart was beating faster. Ben looked down at his feet, then looked back up at Rey. She felt everything. He was afraid that she would leave again, that she wouldn't want to truly be by his side. Not like he wanted her to be. He had offered to rule the galaxy with her, and behind that offer, there was the hope that one day they would truly be one. Partners in every way.

Allies. Best friends. Lovers.

Of course, Rey had known when he made his proposal that he wanted more. She hadn't minded, because there was a part of her that wanted it too. And she wanted him to understand it too.

"Did you think I didn't want this, Ben?" asked Rey. "I do. Kriff, you know I do. All my life, I've wanted a family. Someone who wouldn't leave me."

"I would never leave you," he declared suddenly.

Then, embarrassed, his ears started to turn red. Apparently, Ben wasn't used to socializing either.

"I know. I can feel it in my bones," she said.

"Then why won't you join me?"

"You know why. It's for the same reason you won't join the Resistance. I don't belong in the First Order."

"You could. I'd be willing to teach you."

She smiled sadly.

"The problem is that I wouldn't be willing to learn."

Rey knew that the emotions between them were too intense. They were both on the edge of crying, and she knew that Ben was getting frustrated really quickly.

"I still don't understand, Rey," said Ben. She wanted to make everything alright, to stop him from being so sad. "If you won't join me and I won't join you, we have nothing more to say to each other."

He obviously didn't seem thrilled by the idea, and neither was Rey.

So she took a step closer. She could almost breathe him in right now. Her heart was betting fast. Too fast. Her thoughts were racing. She had never done this before, didn't know how to do this.

She got up on her toes and kissed his left cheek.

Very softly and delicately. She didn't rush it. Rey wanted to say everything in this kiss that she couldn't say out loud.

She didn't know how the force bond worked, but he felt as real as if he had really been with her.

His breath hitched and he briefly closed his eyes. When the kiss was over, she took a step back and looked at him, pleading.

"We only have nothing to say to each other if you're willing to give up. Are you?" asked Rey.

Ben didn't answer her, but he gave her the same look she gave him.

And then he took a step toward her, closing the distance between them.

He lowered his head toward hers, align his lips with hers.

For a moment, their breaths mixed.

And he kissed her.

He kissed her tenderly, almost like he was afraid to touch her. On instinct, she got on her toes to reach him better. No one would've expected the Master of the Knights of Ren to be so delicate. One of his hands came to cup her cheek, and the other came to rest on her waist. He poured himself into the kiss. In this moment, he was utterly vulnerable.

So Rey kissed him back.

And again. And again. And again.

At one point, she hooked her arms around his neck. She hoped he knew that she felt as vulnerable as he did.

Oh, how she hoped he wouldn't hurt her!

She wanted everything he wanted. She wanted to be allies, friends, and lovers. She wanted him.

Somehow, Ben wanted her too.

The kiss started changing. It went from tender to desperate. From desperate to passionate. From passionate to intoxicating.

Ben was crushing her against his chest. They were both out of breath, but they only came out for air when it became necessary. Ben was groaning into the kiss, hungry for the contact between them.

She loved it.

They were simply Rey and Ben.

"Rey," breathed Ben between kisses. His voice was husky, but shaking. "Rey, please tell me how we can make this work. I would do anything."

He went right back for her lips, lifting her up from the ground and into his arms. She was still holding on to his neck.

She knew she had to answer him, but her brain couldn't seem to remember how to speak.

"Ben," she said, resting her forehead against his. They were even more out of breath now. "It's so simple. I know it's maybe not what you want, but we could both just leave. I don't mind leaving the Resistance, really. So, leave the First Order and come with me. We could go anywhere, we could go everywhere. We don't have to fight in the war, we could just be together and figure it out as we go along."

Ben was still holding her off the ground, to his chest. His voice was shaking when he spoke again.

"I would like that very much," he whispered to her.

"You would?" Rey asked, relieved. She felt like a huge weight had just been taken off her shoulders.

"Yes, of course," he said.

Then, he kissed her again softly and lowered her to the ground.

She stayed in his embrace, her face buried in his chest.

"We could get a ship," he said. She could hear the smile in his voice. "I could take you to every planet in the galaxy. I know a planet with a 200-foot waterfall, and a planet where the waves on the sea are frozen at night. I could show it all to you."

She smiled in his chest.

"You don't even know how much I want that, Ben," she said to him.

She stepped out of his embrace and looked at him. He was still a bit unsure, but she could see in his eyes that he was truly happy.

She smiled at him, and he smiled back.

"Where do you want to meet?" he asked her. "How much time do you need to gather your belongings?"

"I have no belongings," she said immediately. She would probably only bring her staff with her and the crystal from the broken lightsaber. Ben could help her build a new one. "I'll come to you right now if you want."

"Deal," chuckled Ben. "I'm near Chandrila. Do you have a comm? I'll give you the coordinates."

She took out her comm and passed it to him.

"There you go," he said as he handed it back to her.

Rey took the comm and put it back in her pockets.

"We're really doing this, aren't we?" laughed Rey.

"Yes," answered Ben. His smile was even bigger now. "Yes, we are."

And then, he kissed her again.

They were simply Rey and Ben.

It was the beginning of their story.