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Permanence

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Permanence at rest, and permanence in motion, are both active participants in the power that remains.

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The vast darkness of space had always brought Kylo Ren deep absolution. Even as a little boy, riding in the Millennium Falcon with his father, a half an hour of watching the streaks of light dance across the cockpit visor would set him to sleep for hours at a time.

"He's got my skills but your interest in piloting," he remembered Solo joking with his – Leia Organa. "Kid helped me for ten minutes and slept for three hours.”

But as Kylo watched millions of star systems streak by outside of the floor-to-ceiling window in his living quarters, he felt no release, no forgiveness. The serpent that had always been tight around his heart now squeezed painfully, catching him off-guard and causing a hitch in his deep, steady breathing. The ache trickled down into the pit of his stomach, which is probably why he hadn’t been able to eat anything for days. The thought of food repulsed him. Sleep eluded him, and when it did come, his mind cruelly replayed her rejection of him, again, and again, and again, until he’d burst out of bed with a growl, hurriedly got dressed, and stormed off to the training pavilion.

Parrying, thrusting, side-stepping, attacking…training with droids until his body became numb. The lack of sleep and food didn’t mesh well with the physically demanding training sessions that lasted for six, eight, sometimes ten hours at a time. However long it took for him to erase her hazel eyes from his mind. To forget the disappearing gold dice in his hands as he was on his knees. To block out the sneaking suspicion his – Leia Organa was still alive. To remove the echoing of Skywalker’s final words to him on Crait: “See you around, kid.”

Twice in a row he had regained consciousness as he lay on his back on the training pavilion floor. His stomach growled in protest and his head thudded loudly in his ears. Fainting because of hunger, exhaustion, or both?

You’re a descendent of greatness, of Skywalkers. And yet you act like a Solo, the voice sneered.

Kylo had cringed. How the hell was that voice back? The voice that had eradicated his innocence, stolen his childhood. The voice that had broken his spirit, controlled his mind, ruined his soul. The voice that had commanded he kill his enemy, as she knelt in front of him with pleading eyes and trembling lips, who didn’t beg for her life or for his redemption, but only uttered one, beautiful, breathtaking word: “Ben…”

He let out an inadvertent growl as he turned away from the viewport, averting his eyes from the vastness of space to land in the middle of his quarters where she stood, staring at him.

“You haven’t eaten,” she said softly, raising her cerulean eyes to meet his. “You are not taking care of yourself, Supreme Leader.”

“I appreciate your concern,” Kylo responded, waving off her comments with a casual wave of his hand. “It is unwarranted.”

Sebarra Ren opened her mouth as if she were about to respond. When Kylo’s eyes challenged her own, she instead bowed her head and spread her arms in acquiescence. “Yes, Supreme Leader.”

Despite himself, Kylo rubbed his eyes with a gloved hand and sighed lightly as he sat down at the black lacquered table adorning what could be considered as his dining room. “Sebarra, we’ve known each other for quite a while.”

She nodded, her eyes meeting his as an eyebrow cocked amusedly. She remained where she was, hands clasped behind her back. “More than ten years. Since before the Praxeum.”

She said it so smoothly, like such an afterthought. The mere mention of Skywalker’s Temple brought his hand down from his face to pound on the table, his fist grasping as if he were snuffing the last remaining life out of the memory. “Yes. The Praxeum,” he growled through bared teeth.

As expected, Sebarra Ren did not react, remaining calm and collected. Her only movement was the soft blinking of her eyes and the occasional soft puckering of her lips as she chewed on the inside of her lip. That was her tell; she had been doing that ever since he knew her as a child padawan of Skywalker’s. She had something to say.

“Sebarra. Spit it out,” he said softly, gesturing for her to sit at the table with him. He couldn’t help the amusement that seeped into his voice. She was the first person he could call a friend. She shared his love of calligraphy, and they would often spend many late nights together re-writing ancient myths and reading them to each other. She was his first kiss behind the dormitory when he was sixteen. He was the first sparring partner who ever bested her in three matches in a row. His innocent childhood crush on her remained until he realized they both began to take notice of – and similarly appreciate – their fellow attractive female classmates.

He cared for her on a level that was deep-rooted and yet simple. He trusted her. Implicitly. Which is why with his ascension to Supreme Leader, his choice was easy in appointing her to be the new Master of the Knights of Ren. She was quiet, reserved, and calculated – all traits he lacked. He valued her council more than anything, which is why when she had something to say, he listened.

She cleared her throat as she sat down across from him, leaning across the table and folding her hands. Her eyebrow remained raised as she cocked her head, her lips turning up into a mischievous smile. “Tell me about her.”

Kylo’s head nearly exploded. Oh for fuck’s sake…

“Seriously?” he uttered, narrowing his eyes.

“Yes, seriously, Supreme Leader.”

“She’s a nuisance, and I’ll destroy her,” he spat out before he could control himself.

Sebarra leaned back and folded her arms, her grin widening. “Uh huh. Is that so?”

A cruel but joking smirk crossed his face. “If I were Snoke, I’d have wiped that smug smile off of your face with a nice jolt of pain.”

“But you aren’t Snoke,” she said, suddenly not amused. Her jaw set, and she became serious. Apparently, he had hit a nerve. “You aren’t nor will you ever be, Kylo Ren.”

Too nonplussed to correct her mistake in proper protocol, he leaned toward her, frowning. “What are you getting at, Sebarra?”

“The Knights of Ren are sworn to protect their leader. I have spoken with all of them to ensure that their loyalties have remained solely with you and you alone. Thankfully, I can report that they have; there has been no dissention or concern among the Knights with your ascent to supreme leadership.” She paused.

“…and?” he urged.

And they, like me, want to know more about her. About Rey.”

The quick intake of air into his lungs made him cough briefly, and Sebarra grinned. “Apparently, you are not the only one who is taken with her, Supreme Leader. Nor are you the only one who has had visions of her role in all of this.”

He didn’t move. He didn’t speak. He just sat there, mouth slightly agape, trying to figure out what in the hell was going on.

“Yes, I expected this,” Sebarra nodded earnestly, but her eyes made it clear her playful nature wouldn’t be interrupted by her new station as Master of the Knights of Ren.

“Expected what?” he grumbled, voice low and jaw set.

Leaning across the table, so close that their foreheads almost touched, Sebarra whispered, “She’s your Other.”

Maker, she’s right…

Incensed and enraged that apparently Sebarra and his Knights had figured this out before he had, he couldn’t help himself. He launched: “She’s a nobody from a nowhere planet filled with scum and villainy and thieves and misfits. She has no formal training. She’s an impulsive, optimistic, doe-eyed scavenger who decided she was on a mission to Save Ben Solo,” he uttered the last three words mockingly, molding his mouth as if he had just spit out a piece of rotten fruit. “She knows nothing and she has no one.”

Sebarra leaned back, eyebrows raised, lips pouted. “But she’s not alone, is she?”

Kylo, exhausted from the back and forth, didn’t even bother to question how she knew about this intimate exchange between him and Rey. He just shook his head noncommittally.

There was a long, pregnant pause that the two shared, each deep in thought until Kylo’s comm beeped and expelled the repugnant, weasely voice of Armitage Hux. “Supreme Leader, may I kindly request your presence on the bridge?”

Kylo closed his eyes and waited a beat or two before responding. “Hux, is this necessary?”

“Quite, Supreme Leader,” came the languid, annoyed response.

“Fine,” Kylo snapped before shutting off the comm and standing up. He looked at Sebarra apologetically, and she shrugged. “Duty calls,” she remarked as she donned her sleek black mask.

Kylo gestured for Sebarra to lead the way, but her hand paused over the door release as she turned to look up at Kylo. Even through her face was masked, he could sense her mirth through the Force, and could hear the amusement in her voice as she spoke. “An impulsive, tenacious, optimistic maverick, huh?”

He rolled his eyes as he moved her hand out of the way to hit the control panel himself. As the doors hissed open, he heard her chuckle as she said, “I think I’m beginning to like her.”

 

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