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Peace, Rey reflected, was a difficult thing to come by. Once upon a time, back on Jakku, peace had been something she’d taken for granted. Although perhaps peace was the wrong word for it. Stasis, perhaps. After all, she’d only herself to think about since she’d been left there as a child. Apart from the interactions with the junk traders and other scavengers, it had been a peaceful, if poor, existence. A life half lived, but a quiet one.


Would she go back to it, if only to capture that sense of peace for a few hours? That sense that all she had to worry about was where her next meal was coming from? Honestly, she wasn’t sure at times. The companionship of the other Resistance fighters was comforting in a lot of ways, and being alongside General Organa especially was inspirational. The woman had a warm and giving nature once you got past the mantle of responsibility. Although Rey still didn’t know how to offer her condolences for the loss of Leia’s brother and estranged husband. And as for Ben…where did you even start to talk about that with his mother?


And then there was Ben himself. Maker, what a mess. Rey knew the Force Bond still connected them; she could feel him like a hum in the back of her mind that chased away any thoughts of peace late at night. She knew, for instance, that he had trouble sleeping. That wasn’t really a surprise – after all, there were many deeds that must weigh heavily on the young Supreme Leader’s conscience, no matter what image he chose to project to the rest of the world. But whatever he did, however he acted in his waking hours, there was no disguising his emotions in his sleep. Many times over the past few months he’d appeared by her side without so much as a by your leave; sometimes it was for mere seconds, sometimes a little longer, but nearly always sleeping uneasily, body tensed, shadows under his closed eyes. They’d not consciously spoken since Crait, and Rey was loath to wake him, so she watched, and kept her distance.


Tonight, yet again, as Rey lay on her bunk in the quarters she shared with Leia, which oftentimes she ended up alone in when the General’s work took her right through the night, she found herself in his company once again. She could always tell, the moment before his sleeping form materialised, that he was going to appear. The hum in her mind intensified, and although she knew it wasn’t possible, she felt a shift in the very temperature of the air around her. And she’d open her eyes, and there he’d be.


He seemed unaware that the Force Bond was connecting them while he slept. In her more anxious moments, Rey wondered if she was the same. Was Ben seeing her while she slept? That wasn’t exactly something she wanted to dwell on – sleep was elusive at the best of times, and worrying about making a Force Bond connection while unaware, vulnerable, didn’t bear thinking about.  However, she supposed, there was nothing she could do about it, even if the Force was connecting them without her knowledge.


This night, it seemed, was to be one of those nights. Rey had lain awake, staring at the ceiling of her quarters, for what felt like hours. The problem with living on a ship was that the sky never changed. At least on Jakku she’d been able to tell the time by the rising and setting of the suns; on a starship the sky remained the same. Just as she was drifting off into the arms of yet another restless night, she felt the hum again. Opening her sleep drowsed eyes slowly, she turned to the side where she instinctively knew she’d see.


And see she did. It was in sleep that she could truly behold him; when his defences were down and his thoughts were looser, less constrained. And tonight, for once, he seemed more at peace. Raven dark hair lay in an unruly mess across his pillow, contrasted by the pale skin that hadn’t seen the warmth of the sun in a very long time. Lips that seemed made for kissing but were more often used for shouting were silent, slightly parted. Closed eyes meant long lashes feathered over high cheekbones and, Maker, the strength of that face in profile. Even in sleep, he had a dignity, a regality. But then he was son of royalty, she supposed. She could see both his mother and his father in him; such a tragedy that it was the Dark Side that dominated his waking hours.


Rey’s fingers twitched. Every time he appeared asleep next to her, she had to fight the temptation to touch him. His tall, lean length spread out next to her, endless, black clad legs with muscular thighs, long arms, one thrown carelessly down the side of his bed, the other palm up by his side, achingly close to her on her bunk across time and space. She knew she could so easily reach out, slip her hand into his. But she quailed every time she thought about it. She had no idea how he’d react. After all, he was rightly on the defensive every time he opened his eyes; heaven forbid the repercussions if she touched him without his consent, for them both. She knew how she’d react if he did it to her; she owed him the respect of restraint.


In mid muse, she was at first unaware when he moved, rolled over onto his side with a deep sigh. He was tantalisingly close to her, now, his bare chest with its telltale scar running to his cheek, the scar she had given him, which was a paler hue than the rest of his skin. She could easily reach out an index finger and trace the line of destruction if she chose to. But she couldn’t. Shouldn’t. Mustn’t.


That didn’t stop her from moving just a breath closer to him, though. She didn’t know how she could feel his breath, but it was warm as she bridged the divide between them. They were lying face to face, now, and Rey felt her heartbeat quicken, thumping painfully in her chest as she breathed in rhythm with him. It would be so easy to reach out, with hands or lips while he was oblivious of her. But she knew she had to try to respect the boundary. All those lonely nights on Jakku with only her own company had trained her in the joys of her own physical sensation, but she had yet to experience it with another. That wasn’t for want of desire, but no one had ever tempted her in that way. Until now. Even after everything. Poe Dameron’s warm brown eyes and easy smile had implied possibility, but she’d kept her distance.


One touch and she knew she’d never stop. If she placed just so much as one fingertip on him, it would be her undoing. And not just hers, but the entire Rebellion’s too. But the urge was so strong. His body had haunted her dreams since she’d encountered him without a robe on through the bond. Maker, what was she to do?


As if in answer to her thoughts, Ben’s eyelids fluttered, and before Rey could put up any kind of guard, his half somnolent gaze had locked with hers. In that no man’s land between sleep and waking, despite the surprise of the situation, his gaze was soft, dark brown pupils dilated and gentle, defences down.


‘Ben,’ she whispered, breathing into his breath, edging closer to him with every heartbeat.


‘Rey?’ Ben’s gentle, not-quite-awake confusion made Rey’s stomach flutter. ‘How long…’


‘Long enough.’ They were nose to nose now, and a breath from a kiss.


‘This isn’t good,’ Ben rumbled, his voice gravelly with sudden, awakened desire. ‘This can’t be good.’


‘I know,’ Rey said. ‘But this is the first time I’ve seen you sleep soundly for months.’


‘You’ve been watching me?’


‘I’ve been trying not to.’


‘Evidently.’ The gravel held just a trace of amusement. ‘You’re not going to try to kill me, are you?’


Oh, that honeyed, sleepy tone! ‘Not tonight,’ Rey replied wryly. ‘And if I was going to, I’d have had plenty of chances before now.’


The pause between them seemed to stretch to infinity. Rey found her gaze drawn to Ben’s mouth, as it had been in the elevator all those months ago.


‘What?’ he asked, the amusement still there in his tone.


‘It’s not the killing you should be afraid of,’ Rey replied, her own voice suddenly husky with desire.


‘What should I be afraid of?’ It was such a ridiculous question, given their opposing sides, but for the moment, it didn’t matter.


Rey drew a last, steadying breath before finally bridging the gap between their mouths. As her lips met his, she felt the Force surging through her, filling her with a sense of total and utter rightness. Could this be the balance they were looking for? Could this, at last, be the peace? As Ben’s arms tightened around her and he deepened the kiss, hungrier by the minute, she felt she would never be sated. If this was peace, she thought wildly, then it was worth going to war for.