She felt the unmistakable sensation come over her, a stillness and weight in the air that alerted her to his presence. She also felt his surprise, mirroring her own. Snoke had admitted his part in creating this connection between them. Clearly Ben had assumed, as she had, that meant it would occur no more in the wake of his demise.
She didn’t want to see him, but she couldn’t stop her eyes seeking out his. She didn’t want to recall the intensity of his presence in her mind and at her side as they struck down Snoke’s Praetorian guard together. She didn’t want to recall the deep betrayal she'd felt as he held his hand out to her, tempting her not only with his words but also with his very essence. She didn’t want to recall that her puny influence had proven vastly insufficient to the task of bringing him back to the Light, of resolving the deep conflict she felt within him with every pulse of her heartbeat. But she recalled all of this as she gazed sorrowfully into his eyes.
She didn’t know what had happened here on Crait, hadn't had a chance yet to find out, but she could see in his eyes things had not gone according to his plan. As relieved as she was by that, knowing his failure meant the rescue of the last remnants of the Resistance, she also inexplicably grieved for him, her heart aching for his pain. And yet, at the same time, she chastised herself for that instinct toward compassion. She’d thought she understood him, thought she knew his path, and, indeed, for a time when they’d fought together, her impression had seemed to be confirmed. Perhaps that was why she’d felt so betrayed when he’d turned to her, suggesting she join him in ruling the galaxy. And it was that which primarily occupied her mind as she gazed down upon him crouched below her. She had seen first-hand the toxicity of his ambition and knew it was something she could not endure.
Dully, almost without consciousness, Rey slid her hand across the doorway and pressed the button to raise the Falcon’s gangplank. She watched as it slowly wiped Ben from her sight, and she turned resolutely away. She abruptly halted after her first step though, feeling his presence quickly fading, and she sighed deeply, burdened by the weight of a loss she could barely understand.
Turning her mind to the matter at hand, she hurried to the cockpit, knowing Chewie was probably wondering where she was. Leia was there and the two old friends had already determined a course. Climbing nimbly into the pilot’s seat over the general, Rey completely absorbed her mind in the task of flying the ship. That didn’t take too much time, though, since she and Chewie were careful to set a course that kept the planet between the Falcon and the First Order fleet. They jumped into hyperspace without conflict, and Rey felt a small but definite twinge of regret as she realized she was leaving Ben behind.
Shaking the errant thought from her mind irritably, Rey extracted herself from the seat, muttering an excuse about checking on Finn. It was an honest concern. After all, she hadn’t seen him since Starkiller Base and was anxious to put her worries over his condition to rest once and for all. But, if she was being completely honest with herself as she hurried toward the interior of the ship, she knew it was more that she didn’t want to be around people who had once known and cared for Ben. It was just too much for her right now.
Finding both Finn and BB-8 in the lounge, Rey was also delighted to finally meet the little droid’s master and Resistance pilot extraordinaire, Poe Dameron. She smiled warmly at him, genuinely pleased to meet him, then turned her focus entirely on Finn. Before long, though, she felt the smile stale and dissolve from her face. She was grateful that Finn’s attention was on his friend Rose in that moment, and she ducked her face away from them, hoping they wouldn’t notice. At the same time, she tried to look surreptitiously around the crowded space. The sudden weight and stillness of the air and the accompanying shallowing of sound alerted her to the fact that he was here, but she couldn’t find him right away. When she finally did, she wished she hadn’t. He was a silent, brooding presence, watching her intently from across the room. His scrutiny made her feel as though she were on display, and she didn’t like the attention in the least.
“Rey! Did you hear me?”
Her head jerked around to Finn in surprise, but she couldn’t keep her eyes from darting back to Ben, attempting to ascertain whether or not he could see or hear anyone else here with her.
“I asked if you knew how long it would take us to get to Diaima?”
This time, she was unable to suppress her reaction, and her face turned fully toward her enemy across the room. Had he heard Finn? Did he now know their destination? Had she, however inadvertently, compromised the safety of what was left of the Resistance? He had not moved a muscle and merely continued to stare at her intently, and she quickly determined a test for him.
“It’s a long way to Silendr,” she told Finn, naming another planet in as opposite a direction from their actual destination as she could. “But it shouldn't take too long. "
She felt her heart plummet as Ben’s expression changed and she heard him bark out imperiously, “Set a course for Silendr, immediately!”
Suppressing a sigh, she turned away from him and back to Finn, who was already in the midst of attempting to clarify their destination. It shouldn’t surprise her that Ben would leap at any chance to wipe out the Resistance, but it did nevertheless depress her. How had she been so very, very wrong about him?
“Silendr? I thought we were going to Diaima?”
Rey nodded to Finn, knowing she couldn’t say anything more without either confusing Finn or tipping off Ben.
“I’m not feeling well,” she told them both instead. “I need to go lay down…”
She turned away, unable to stop her shoulders from drooping as she ignored Finn’s concern over her departure. That Ben hadn’t reacted to Finn speaking of Diaima but did when she mentioned Silendr alerted her to the important fact that he could only hear her and not those around her. As she looked back over her shoulder before leaving the gathering space, she saw him following her, his body overlapping with those of the crowd as he passed through them without notice. It seemed not only was he entirely unaware of all those people, but they had no idea of his presence either. She turned away with a little nod, satisfied with the results of her test, but she came up short and looked back again when his voice came to her as though he stood beside her rather than with dozens of intervening, chattering people.
“Wait,” he barked out, and she looked at him expectantly. “You know I can hear you.”
She frowned, uncertain whether or not his soft murmuring was meant for her. When he turned to his side and spoke in a commanding voice again, she understood he had muttered to himself beneath his breath.
“Take us out of hyperspace and set a course opposite to Silendr.”
Rey bowed her head and left the room, catching a glimpse of Finn watching her closely with concern in his eyes as she did so. And she attempted not to flinch violently when Ben’s furious shout rang out behind her.
“I don’t have coordinates! Set a course n—”
The connection between them closed so abruptly that Rey stumbled and a small cry escaped her throat as the extra weight lifted from the air around her. He was gone, she knew that without even looking back. But now she felt certain she would see him again and didn’t have any idea of how to handle that.