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we could plant a house, we could build a tree

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A/N: Hello all! Welcome to my modern day AU fic that's basically my love letter to 90's alt rock and emo music. In this fic Ben was born in '81 and Rey in '90, and we'll pick up in '97. Also, in reality an orphaned Rey would probably have been in the foster system, but here I've put her in a more traditional orphanage. Anyway, if you like drop me a comment and let me know!

**

Always move forward
Going "straight" will get you nowhere
There is no progress
Evolution killed it all
I found my place in nowhere

"Jaded" by Green Day

**

They find her dumpster diving behind a Waffle House when she’s five. When they ask her where her parents are, she shrugs.

**

“Look Rey, I know you’re not particularly happy about this—”

Rey’s crossed arms and pouty face are enough to bring Maz Kanata up short in amusement. The wizened old woman who has been Rey’s caretaker the past couple of years tries not to laugh. She’s always had a soft spot for the spirited ones.

“Rey,” she says a little more sternly, waiting for the child to make eye contact with her through the rearview mirror. But the seven-year-old is resolute. She glares out the window at Skywalker Studios with nothing short of contempt.

Maz parks the car and climbs out, slamming the door shut behind her before opening Rey’s. “Come on then, out you get.”

Rey opens her mouth to argue and is swiftly silenced by a wrinkled finger to her mouth. “This is your own fault, girl,” her caretaker says. “I don’t care how smart you are, no school system is going to put up with you if you keep spray painting in the girl’s bathrooms and doodling with Sharpie on the desks. Now, get out of this car or I will make you.”

The girl’s hazel eyes go a little wide and she sighs, begrudgingly unbuckling her seatbelt and climbing out of the car. Rey has never won a battle with Maz Kanata before and isn’t too keen on trying her luck now.

They make their way to the front door of the studio, drizzling rain dampening their hair. An older man comes out to greet them, opening the front door for them and gesturing that they come inside. He watches Rey with curious, kind eyes.

“Rey.” Maz’s voice is firm, brokering no room for arguing. “This is Mr. Skywalker—”

“Call me Luke,” the older man interrupts, giving Rey a smile that she pointedly doesn’t return.

“—you’ll be coming here every day after school for the foreseeable future,” Maz continues. “You’ll do exactly what he tells you and you won’t give him any trouble, do I make myself clear?”

Rey is silent, deliberately looking everywhere but at her caretaker.

“Rey.”

Rey grumbles a “whatever” underneath her breath. But it’s enough for Maz. The old woman quickly lets herself out, promising to be back to pick her up in a couple of hours.
As soon as the door swings shut Luke turns his full attention onto Rey. “Well Rey, why don’t we start with a tour.”

**

It was either art classes or basketball. And Rey hates basketball. She’d gotten in trouble for graffiti for the third time in barely two weeks and the principal and nearly expelled her. In retrospect, Rey isn’t really sure how Maz got her out of that one. Maybe one day she’ll be grateful.

But today she’s seven and a half years old and petulant. She trails behind Luke Skywalker as the older man shows her the room where they sculpt, the room with rows of easels where he teaches painting classes, the room filled from floor to ceiling with tons of art supplies—

There’s blaringly loud music coming from the other end of the hallway, and Rey tilts her head towards the noise, showing genuine interest for the first time since she’s walked through the front doors. Luke’s gaze follows hers. “Ah.” His face is passive. “Don’t worry about that. That’s just Ben.”

Back in the entrance room the phone rings. Luke motions toward the art supply room. “Alright Rey, why don’t you grab a pad and some pencils and draw something for me.”

She doesn’t move. “What do you want me to draw?”

Luke laughs. “Whatever you want!” Then he trots toward the main room to answer the phone.

Rey walks straight past the supply room and toward all the angry noise, inquisitiveness getting the best of her. There are framed prints, paintings, and sculptures lining the walls. Some are by Luke, and others by his students, some of whom have gone on to hold art shows in the likes of NYC and LA. Rey has never really considered being an actual artist before. But she does like to sketch.

And finally she’s in front of the closed door with the pounding music. She pushes the door open and is hit hard with the smell of paint. A boy whose back is to her (she deduces that this must be Ben) is flinging paint against a white sheet that hangs from the ceiling. He’s also shouting “fuck” at the top of his lungs over and over again. It makes her smile. It’s the first time she’s smiled all day.

The song ends and another one starts immediately after, fast paced and aggressive. And Rey finds her head bobbing along. She likes this. It fits her mood. There’s a stereo in the corner of the room, banged up and splattered with every color of paint imaginable. She walks over and presses the STOP button, determined to peek inside and see the CD—

“Wha—”

Rey has never seen someone move so quickly. The boy is in front of her in the span of a heartbeat. “Who said you could touch the music?” he demands, shooing her away from the stereo. “No one touches the music. Who are you anyway? Uncle—”

“What’s that supposed to be of?” Rey has ducked around him and is standing in front of uh, whatever the paint splattered sheet is.

Ben’s mouth falls open a bit, indignant. He’s fifteen, maybe sixteen, wearing a plain white t-shirt and a flannel shirt tied around his waist. Rey knows her fair share of moody teens. They’re a dime a dozen at the home she stays at, and this one is no different. Slightly taller, maybe. But no different.

He takes a deep breath. “It’s—it’s a project. Conceptual art. You wouldn’t get it.”

Rey presses her lips together to keep from laughing. She plans her next words quickly and carefully, determining what will get her the best reaction. “Really? Looks like you ruined a bedsheet to me.”

His reaction does not disappoint. “Get out.” He furiously shoves her toward the door and she lets out a stream of half repressed giggles. Before he slams the door in her face she notices that the tops of his ears have turned red with anger. A second later the music starts up again.

And just like that Rey’s entire perception of this place has changed. She’ll come back every day for the next ten years if it means she’ll get to irritate the angry boy who likes to fling paint at things. After school care is going to be fun.

**

Later that night she’s curled up in her squeaky bed in a room she shares with three other girls, flashlight on underneath her blankets. Luke had let her keep a sketchpad and all but demanded she take home plenty of pencils and markers as well.

She sketches out the boy’s face. She gives him an overexaggerated scowl and messy hair. And she colors his ears red.

She can't wait to show it to him tomorrow.