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When Rey saw him outside the Falcon, she was a little surprised, but mostly angry. Was she angry with herself for shipping herself to him just after two days of Force-bonding and a few seconds of touching hands? Running off towards a dream, a mirage. Or was she angry with him for failing to be what she hoped he would be, what she wanted him to be?

Either way, Rey decided it didn't matter anymore. She did her best to try and bring him to the light, but he was gone, there wasn't any light left in him, so she closed the door on him, and hopefully on their bond.


She found herself looking longingly at Finn and his new friend, while holding the broken halves of the lightsaber. She longed for something, family, belonging, she wasn't completely sure what.

When Leia sat next to her, she felt herself stiffening a little. She was the Resistance general, but also Ben Solo's mother. In a split second she decided not to tell her about her connection with him, or about what transpired between them. She made a mental note to ask Chewbacca to keep her secret.


Rey didn't want to cause her anymore pain by telling her that Ben was truly gone, she just lost her brother, after all. And if she were completely honest, the past few days seemed too personal to share, with her, with anyone.

"Snoke is dead," she found herself saying before Leia had a chance to open her mouth, "I felt it, in the Force. He's gone. Now Kylo Ren is the new Supreme Leader." Her eyes dropped to the broken lightsaber.


Leia bowed her head. "When I thought of our enemies, I saw the face of that monster Snoke, but now that he's gone, the face of our enemy is also the face of my son," her voice started to shake, just a little, "I know my son is gone and all that's left of him is Kylo Ren, and I know that the galaxy will only be safe when he and the First Order are gone, but I can not bring myself to do it. To give the order.”

"I failed him," she continued, "his family failed him. He shined so bright from the moment I felt his first heart beat inside my belly, he was a blindingly bright star," Her voice became more broken and hoarse, "He needed us, and we weren't there for him when he needed us, how he needed us, and Snoke, that monster, took advantage of it and twisted him into something dark, broken and terrible.”


Leia lifted her head and her eyes were watered with tears she refused to shed, "Now it's up to me to deliver the final blow. A mother should never be put in that position.”


Rey put a hand on Leia's arm and squeezed gently. Her heart broke for Leia, and still, a small part of it, for the Ben Solo that could have been.


They sat there in silence as the Falcon made its way through the galaxy. All twenty of them, all that was left of the Resistance.

 

***

 

Kylo Ren spent almost every waking hour since Crait making sure that no general in the First Order had any ideas of revolt or insubordination.
By the end of day two he was confident enough that they were all as loyal as they were to Snoke. All except Hux. Even though he hadn't shown any trace of insubordination since he Force choked him, he knew Hux had always hated him and he had to watch his back around him.


By the time he retired to his room, he had been awake for over two standard day cycles. He changed the access codes to his door and laid on his bed hoping for the release of sleep. As tired as he was, it didn't come. What came were images of Rey.

He almost wished that he had planned everything that happened since she landed on the Supremacy, but he did not. Having to watch Snoke torture her and be unable to do anything about it was the hardest thing he'd ever done. Keeping his feelings about it away from Snoke was a close second.


A shadow of shame crossed his face as he thought of the other hardest thing he had to do, "Han"  was all he let himself think before he pushed the thoughts and feelings the name brought up deep down inside himself. He shook his head and his thoughts came back to Rey.

Rey, there had always been something about her, a familiarity, a little pull she exerted on him, like he were scrap iron and she a magnet.
Her face when he asked her to join him still haunted him, every single moment he wasn't actively blocking it. He felt torn between the heartbreak of her not joining him and the disappointment and sheer anger he felt towards her when she went for the lightsaber. He had been so sure she would join him, he saw it, he saw her sitting by his side.
Was Snoke telling the truth? Had he bridge their minds in the first place, had he planted there the images he saw? Had Snoke tricked them, showed each of them what they wanted the most?

It would be the most obvious answer, it would make things so much easier, he could dismiss this whole thing as a lie, as another manipulation by Snoke, but as hard as he tried, he could not quiet the voice inside him that said "It was real. It is real! You can feel it in every atom of your being." He wanted to scream and run his lightsaber through the entire ship, just to feel some sort of release, but he couldn't. He was the Supreme Leader now, he could not act like a child.

 

***

 

"So, where to?" Poe asked nobody in particular as the Millennium Falcon made its way through space. "We are hunted by the First Order, we are fresh out of friends and allies…" he trailed off.

"Snoke is dead," Leia said and the entire Millennium Falcon seemed to quiet, "Rey felt it, in the Force," she stood up, leaning on her cane, "Once news of this will spread, it will bring new hope to the galaxy. We will have allies again, that, I guarantee.”

"That's great news," Poe continued, his face showing timid excitement, "but where do we go until then?”

"Go back?" Rey chimed in without thinking, she lifted her head higher and continued, "we go back to Luke's island, Ahch-To, or any of the other planets in that cluster. It's the safest place in the galaxy, everyone that knows the location of it is on this ship.”


Leia smiled at her then gave Poe a look.

 

"Luke's planet it is." Poe said.

 

***

 

Poe chose Ashkarah, a planet close enough to Ahch-To that you could see it in the night sky, but much better suited for their needs than the mostly water planet Luke exiled himself to.

They made a short stop at a trading post for supplies, then flew straight to Ashkarah. The trip seemed to take forever, the Falcon was overcrowded with twenty souls, that and the many supplies made the ship crammed and stuffy. By the time they reached the planet, the sun was rising on the Ashkarah horizon. 

Poe landed in a grass field next to what seemed like the ruins of a great temple. The temple almost glimmered in shades of rusty red as the sun shun on it. A dense forest, with large, thick trees surrounded the temple, leaving just an opening the width of the temple in the front.

While what was left of the Resistance were unpacking and distributing the supplies, she ventured out towards the old temple, it almost called to her.
It looked like nothing Rey had seen before: three pyramids with their tops cut off, the largest in the middle and two smaller ones on each side.
On top of the smaller one, on the left, stood the carved figure of a man and that of a woman on the other side. Even though one could barely recognize the figures of the statues from their condition, she felt she was right in her assumption.

In the middle, on top of the big pyramid, there was an empty space, as if what once stood there was taken, or destroyed.
There were roots growing out of parts of the foundation, and vines were making their way up the sides of the pyramids, but they seemed to be in decent shape otherwise. Each of the pyramids had a large opening in the middle, but they were all blocked by fallen debris.

"Lifting rocks." Rey spoke under her breath as she moved her right hand in position and lifted the rocks blocking the opening of one of the smaller pyramids. She took her time, she didn't want to damage the temple.

The second she put down the last of the rocks she heard Finn's voice. "Rey, come check this out!”

She turned towards his voice and saw him frantically waving her towards a huge tree.

"This is amazing!" he yelled out as soon as she was within better ear shot, "People used to live inside here, look!”

She stepped inside the tree and found a round staircase going down what seemed to be several flights of stairs, at the bottom of it was a maze of underground chambers, a big central room with 6 smaller chambers spread out to the sides. Further down, a corridor led to another great room followed by another 6 small chambers. In the middle of each of the large chambers stood a large fire pit encircled by a large adobe table. It seemed like the communal dining table. The smaller chambers each had what once must have been an adobe bed and a small table. Most of them were crumbling, but still, it was shelter, it was a place to sleep outside of the cramped Falcon, or the elements.

"I’m gonna go grab Poe, he needs to see this!" Finn said as he made his way up the stairs and towards the Falcon.

 

They spent most of the daylight setting up camp in the underground. The first large chamber they set up a makeshift command center, the room was soon filled with all sorts of military paraphernalia. At dusk they all gathered in the second large chamber and had a big meal in front of the fire. They told stories of all the friends and family they lost and clinked glasses in their honor.

Rose sat on one side of Finn, while Rey was on the other, Rose was feeling better, but still convalescent. She heard several stories of her sister, and she cried tears of pride and sorrow. Leia brightened up the room with fun stories of Luke, and so the night ended on a somewhat hopeful note.
Rey was happy that everyone, besides Chewy, had chosen one of the chambers they found as their home, instead of the Falcon. She imagined the crammed trip might have had something to do with it.

She was happy because, somehow, the Falcon seemed like home to her or, at least, more like home than any other place. So why did she feel an urge to leave it and go inside the temple she opened this morning? She decided to find out.

She grabbed her quarterstaff, a torch light and quietly snuck out of the ship, past the guard and into the small temple. She was a little surprised to be greeted by a brick wall, but quickly saw that on each side of it there were openings, she took the one on the right and entered the temple.

The small room behind the wall wasn't a square as she expected, but rather a triangle. The walls were filled with carvings in languages and symbols she didn’t recognize. In what seemed to her to be the middle of the room, floating in midair, was a copper ring, about the size of a bracelet. She felt it pull at her, as the cave on Ahch-To had.


Rey found herself walking towards it, touching it before realizing what she was doing.


She dropped to the floor as soon as her fingers wrapped around the cold metal.

 

***

 

Kylo Ren recognized the dream-memory he was having before it finished materializing. It always played like a movie, or like a play, in front of him, unable to do anything about it. He was nine in the dream, he had just woken up from a terrible nightmare he could not remember, just the feeling of darkness and the terror that lingered in him. He tried to shake it off as he dressed for the day. Today was the day his dad was due back, he had not seen him in over a month. He was terribly excited.

"Where am I?" he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"No!" he thought as he turned, knowing exactly who he would see. Seeing her face felt like a punch to the gut, it knocked the air out of him.

"Rey." was what escaped his lips, his eyes moving up and down her face.

"Kylo Ren." She snarled, her eyes full of… was it hate, disgust, disappointment? He didn't know, didn't think he wanted to find out either.

His mind was racing with unanswered questions. How could she be here? Was she inside his head, was she in his dream? How could that even be possible? Most of all, he knew he did not want her there, in this dream-memory.

"Where am I ?" Rey asked again. She was looking straight at Kylo, he was close enough to touch. He wasn't wearing his usual black leather murderous outfit. He had on loose, black pants and a wrap-around shirt tied at the waist. She could see his bare chest where the folds met.

Something behind Kylo caught her eye, a young boy, with almost curly, dark hair, who was putting on a white shirt to match his light tan pants. He ran his hands through his shoulder length hair, untangling strands of it.

Rey looked back at Kylo with a puzzled look on her face. “Ben?"

He knew she wasn't calling him Ben, but rather referring to the little boy in front of them. Kylo locked his jaw and nodded once.

Rey turned her head towards Ben just in time to see him run through her like she were a ghost. It sent a chill down her spine.

“Where are we? Is this a dream? Am I in your dream?" Rey asked in rapid fire mode, confusion turning into anger.

Kylo nodded again then continued, slowly, composed. "A dream, a memory. Yes.”

"How?" she asked. "Are you doing this? Is it the Force, connecting us again?”

"I don't know." was all he said. He felt like he was on the defensive, all the hurt and anger he had felt towards her, because of her, it seemed to have been pushed down inside him. Instead, he felt raw and vulnerable.

The scene around them changed, almost like they were being transported at light speed to a different location.


They found themselves on a field of green grass, with the Millennium Falcon in the middle of it. Rey feared, for a second, that they were transported back to their new hiding place, but her fear dissipated as soon as the cargo door opened and a younger Han Solo than she remembered stepped out, his hands stretched out to meet his son. Ben ran through Kylo's ghostly shape this time. He looked shaken by the act.

"Kiddo!" Han exclaimed as Ben ran straight in his arms, almost knocking him over.

They hugged for what seemed like a minute, his dad squeezing him tight, then Han pushed him back to take a better look at him. "I swear you've grown two inches since I last saw you," he ruffled his hair as he continued, "let's go see your mom, kid.”

 

*

 

"Why are you showing me this?" Rey asked.

"I am not!" His answer came instantly.

The image around them changed again, they were now in a simply, but elegantly furnished living room. Leia was on a conference call with four others, when Ben and Han came in, she lifted a finger as to quiet them, then finished her call.

"Trying to save the galaxy again?" Han more stated than asked as he planted a kiss on her lips then dipped her to the ground. Leia play-slapped his arm as soon as she was vertical again.

Ben giggled, watching his parents. 

"Hey kiddo, can you give me and your mom a second?" Han asked. "I'll come find you in your room when we're done.”

Ben nodded and left the room, but didn't go back to his, instead he waited outside, out of their eyesight, but within earshot.

"I have to go back. I…" Han started.

"Don't you dare!" Leia snapped back. "You've been gone for over a month, he misses you. He needs his father!”

"I know he does, and I miss the kid, I do, but it will only be for a few days.”

"That's what you said last time too, and he didn't see you for three weeks." Leia took a deep breath and tried to calm down a bit. "Han, he's at an impressionable age, and he's Force sensitive, more so than Luke and I. He needs guidance, love and stability.”

"That's rich coming from you, you leave him on his own all day so you can play politics with the high and mighty of the galaxy," Han spat back.

"I am doing this, for him and for us, the galaxy is still rebuilding, I can not abandon it, I can not abandon his future, Han.”

"Maybe you should worry more about his present." Han retorted.

Ben's chin was trembling and his eyes were wet with tears he refused to shed.


He ran for the Millennium Falcon, his parents’ words still ringing in his ear.

 

*

 

As soon as he saw little Ben, Chewbacca picked him up and spun him around a couple of times, then gave him a big bear hug.


"You're squishing me!" Ben managed to breathe between pressed lips.

Chewey made a noise at him and Ben answered back in Shyriiwook.

Rey knew Shyriiwook, or Wookiee, as most people called it, but she did not speak it, she never tried to, since most of the Wookiees understood Galactic Basic.
"I missed you too. A lot!" Ben had said in Wookie.

"I brought you something, look under the bunk." Chewey growled.

"A lightsaber!" Ben's excitement was evident on his face.

"It's just a toy, you're not old enough for a real one, but when the time comes I'll help you find your Kyber crystal." Chewbacca explained in his tongue, but Ben wasn't listening, he was too busy fighting invisible enemies inside the Falcon.

 

"There you are!" Han exclaimed with a half smile on his face. "Your mom is waiting for us to have lunch together."

"She even cooked," he continued with a grimace.

 

Han saw the same grimace reflected on Ben's face.

 

"Yeah, I know. Your mom is a lot of things, a cook is not one of them. We'll have sandwiches later.”

 

 

The world around them stayed the same this time, but it was like they moved ahead in time. It was dusk, the last rays of sunlight were shining down on the Millennium Falcon.

Han was kneeling in front of Ben so he could look into his eyes as he spoke.

 

"Listen, kiddo, I am so sorry I have to leave again so soon, but I promise I'll be back in two days.”

 

Ben just kept nodding, head down, chin almost touching his chest.

 

"I know it's hard for you to understand why I have to leave, but I promise I'll make it up to you kiddo.”

 

"It's okay," Ben muttered in a broken voice, "I understand.”

 

"That's my boy!" Han said, giving him a big bear hug.

 

"See you in two days kiddo." Han waved off as he made his way inside the Falcon.

 

Ben let go of the tears he was fighting back as soon as the Falcon took off.

 

*

 

There was a fight going on inside Rey. She felt for Ben, and maybe a little for the man he turned out to be, but she remembered how lonely and broken her childhood had been, and how she did not turn into a murderer. She wanted to grab Kylo Ren and tell him that if this was just a ploy to make her feel sorry for him, to make her understand his choices, that it will not work.

She wanted to scream at him, that his father not being there for him wasn’t good enough of a reason to kill him.
She wanted to rage that she had tried to bring him back to the light, to forget his past but that he chose the darkness, even after Snoke's death, he chose the darkness. But with one look at Kylo, most of her anger dissipated. He looked so broken.

The world swirled around again before she could say anything.

 

They were in another room, a room with a large white desk covered with all sorts of electronics. A young Leia was behind the desk, surrounded by two figures Rey did not recognize, and one she did, C3PO. Ben was playing in a corner with his lightsaber.

"Senator Gor-Helk is an incompetent buffoon," Leia spat into the comlink, "we cannot leave this in his hands. We have all worked too hard for this."

"Since you are not here, " a voice responded through the comlink, "he is our best option.”

"He is an idiot, that's what he is." Leia muttered under her breath.

"We could postpone this a little. If you were to join us here. In person." another voice stated.

"I can't", Leia huffed. "I have other obligations here, you know that.”

"We can send a hyperdrive ship, you'll be here and back in a day. It's either that or Gor-Helk.”

Leia put her fingertips to her temples and rubbed. "Give me a few minutes, I'll get back to you." She hung up the comlink.

"Ben, honey," she said in her sweetest voice, "Can you come over here for a minute?”

Ben lifted his gaze towards her, then ran over to her desk.

"Can I have the room for a few minutes?" She asked her team. They left without a word, even C3PO.

She put a hand on each side of his face and kissed his forehead.

"Look at you, my baby is growing into a little man.”

He smiled in her hands.

"Ben, I need to ask you something, and it's perfectly okay if you say no. I want you to understand that it's okay to say no. Okay?”

He nodded.

"I know this is the worst time, with your father gone again, but I have to ask you something, and I want you to know that I would not consider asking this if it weren't important.”

Ben lost the smile on his face.

"Would it be okay with you if I left for just a little bit, a day at most?”

Ben's face dropped again but he tried his mightiest to keep any expression off of it.

"You will be here with Nanny Vergha and C3PO." She looked him in the eyes, trying to guess his thoughts, to feel them.

Ben swallowed the knot he felt in his throat and said "It's okay mommy. I'll be okay.”

"You are such a brave little boy, my little starshine.”

She picked him up in her arms and hugged him. With Ben in her arms, she opened the comlink again and said, "Send the ship.”

 

 

*

 

 

They were back in his small room where the dream started, Ben was quietly sobbing in his bed. His lightsaber laid abandoned on his desk.
They both felt it before it materialized in front of them, a dark smoke that seemed to swirl around Ben.

"They do not love you," the smoke hissed and Rey felt like she jumped out of her skin.

"They do not care about you, not like I care about you, my youngling. If your father cared, he would not have left you. He would not have abandoned you at every chance."

Ben's sobbing grew louder.


"And your mother, she cares more about politics than her own son. They do not deserve you, my youngling, come to me and I will treasure you. Come to me….”

Rey heard a soft but determined "No!" escape Ben's mouth before he started shaking uncontrollably, and with him, his bed, his desk and soon enough, everything in the room. The lightsaber fell off the desk and shattered.

Without thinking, Rey closed the few steps between her and Ben, and wrapped her arms around him. To her surprise, her arms didn't go through him. In that moment, they were both solid. She lifted the young boy's head and placed it on her shoulder.

"It's okay Ben, I'm here, I'm here, you're not alone." He hugged her back, still sobbing in the crook of her neck.

"You have to be strong now Ben, don't listen to that thing, your mom and dad love you. They love you, they will always love you!" She kept saying how much he is loved and wanted, as she moved her hand gently up and down his back, comforting him.

The room slowly began to quiet, the shaking of it had stopped with Ben's shaking. All that was heard were soft sobs coming from Ben.

Rey petted his head and whispered in his ear "They will always love you, no matter what, they will. I want you to know that even in your darkest hour there will always be light, you just have to look for it, and if you can't find it around you, look for it inside you. You shine so bright, Ben.”

Kylo couldn't hear what Rey was whispering to Ben, but he was starting to remember it, from that night long ago, remembered how much he needed someone that night, how good it felt to be held by someone… by her.

His dream had usually stopped with Snoke's smokey presence, but now he remembered it clearly, the fog that lingered over that night had lifted, and he saw Rey through his nine year-old eyes, she had seemed like an angel, illuminating the darkness. Her words were still echoing in his mind.

His head was spinning, chin trembling and he was having a hard time fighting back tears.

How any of it was possible, he did not know, but it did not matter in this moment.

He watched Rey calm his young self for a few more minutes, until Ben fell asleep, exhausted from the crying and the uncontrolled use of the Force.

Rey lowered him back down on his pillow, covered him up and put her fingers through his hair as a goodbye. Her heart broke into a million little pieces for him.

By the time Rey turned around, Kylo had managed to compose himself. She, however, did not, there were tears streaming out of her eyes, her face puffy and red.

 

"I just want you to know," she said pointing at her face, "that this is for Ben the child, not for Kylo the monster.”

 

He swallowed hard and muttered “Noted."

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Before either of them could say anything else, Rey jumped up awake just as Poe was removing the copper bracelet from her fingers.

“No!” she yelled louder than she had intended, then grabbed the bracelet with the loose hanging part of her shirt, wrapped it around the artefact a couple of times, then shoved it in her belt.

 

“So you’re particular about your jewelry. Got it!” Poe smiled at her, “Interesting place for a nap,” he continued after looking around the empty temple.

 

“Uhm…” she babbled, “I couldn't sleep last night and came down here to look around, must have been more tired than I thought,”  she said giving him a weak smile.

 

“What do you make of this place” Poe asked, changing the subject and taking in the room they were in.

 

“I don’t know, but I intend to find out.” she said with a nod directed at him.

 

The first rays of sunlight were making their way out of the horizon as she left the temple.

 

She settled into the bunk in the Falcon, pulled out the bracelet, timidly extended a finger towards it and with a deep breath, touched it, expecting to be swept away towards the dream land or the past. She wasn’t sure.

To her surprise nothing happened, she touched it again, nothing still. She was sure that this bracelet, she decided to call it that for lack of a better term, was what triggered the connection last time, so why wasn’t it working now? Was it a one time thing?

She examined it  closer.  There were two small ridges on opposite sides of it, like something used to fit there, and there was writing on the inside of the bracelet.

Something in a language that she didn’t know, but somehow seemed familiar.

“The Jedi texts!” she exclaimed as she jumped up and ran for the drawer she had stuffed them in before she left Ahch-To.

She was right, one of the books, the one that looked the oldest had the same characters inscribed on the leather cover, but her excitement dwindled as she perused the old book. There was nothing in it but more symbols in the same language she did not know, and no indication of what it could be.

A robotic voice started playing in her head. “I am fluent in over six-million forms of communication. C3PO!"  She thought excitedly.

“Dammit!” all that knowledge, attached to the biggest blabber mouth in the universe. She wasn’t yet ready to share any of this with anyone else.

But did she have to share anything with C3PO?

She decided she could work around that. She grabbed all the Jedi texts, gave each book a quick flip through then headed off for the caves.

 

***

 

Kylo Ren woke up from his visitation dream with Rey covered in sweat. These dreams were never pleasant for him, having someone else witnessing it, having her witnessing it, gave him a horrible bitter taste in his mouth.

He also did not have time for this, he was the new Supreme Leader, something that he had wanted for a long time. Everything he had done so far was to further this dream. So why wasn’t he as pleased as he thought he would be? There was no time to think about that either.  

He started getting ready for the day, but something stopped him, a thought, an idea that was just beginning to form. It irked at him, almost saying “You’re not seeing the full picture. Look closer!”

He remembered that day, in the forest, when he first saw Rey, how there was something, something about her, something almost familiar.  He put his mind to work looking for answers, not sure what he’d find.  

He punched a dent in the wall when he finally saw what had always been there.

 

***

 

Leia, as per usual, had been right. News of Snoke’s death spread fast, and with it came a trickle of support for the Resistance. The galaxy was hopeful, but cautious, most of the support came in form of funds sent to the Resistance. A lot harder to trace than sending fighters and ships, but Leia knew that those were coming too, it was just a matter of time.

“I’m happy we have friends again, I am, truly,” Poe said to Leia, putting a hand on his chest.“but we can’t fight the First Order like this, it’s not like we can throw credits at them and hope they’ll go away.”

 

They were alone in the makeshift underground command center.

 

Poe continued arguing. “We need men and women, we need ships, we need a rigorous foolproof plan of attack.”

 

Leia fought the urge to roll her eyes and lost. “If you think I’m going to gratify that little outburst…”

 

“Yes, yes, I know,” he interrupted, waving his hand around as he spoke, “credits will buy us ships  and feed our troops and so on. But we can’t buy ships if nobody will sell us any, and we won’t have any troops if people are too afraid to join us.”

 

“Give it time, Poe.” Leia huffed. “The Empire wasn't built in a day, and neither was the Resistance.”

 

Poe dropped into an empty chair and put his feet on the adobe table. “Give it time,” he mumbled.  

 

***

 

“We have managed to find all the locations in the outer rim where General Organa’s distress signal had been received at. What should we do about it?” Hux asked in a deadpan voice as he entered Kylo Ren’s command center. The Supreme Leader had his hands on the large holo-display desk,  surrounded by four others in stark military attire.

Kylo’s eyes jumped up at Hux as soon as he heard his mother’s name. She had survived the attack . Part of him was happy she had, another part wasn’t. When the TIE fighters attacked her command center, he could at least pretend that he did not do it, that he was not responsible for killing every single one of his family members. Now that she was alive, he would have to be.

“General Hux,” Kylo started, “I think we should teach every one in the galaxy what happens to the ones that are even suspected of treason against the First Order. I want you to take care of this personally.”

Hux’s blank expression cracked just the slightest bit before agreeing. “Yes, Supreme Leader.”

Kylo Ren made a hand gesture and the room cleared. He needed some time alone to process what he had found out that morning.

How was it all possible, why did it happen? What effect had it had on him, he wasn’t sure.  Would he ever be, could he ever be?

What ever all this meant, it was clear that he and Rey had something that had been unheard of before. His heart did a little jump at the thought, but it also terrified him.

 

***

 

“Rey!”  Finn yelled as soon as he saw her enter the Resistance Command Center, or the first large underground room, as she thought of it. He had been talking to Rose, he gave her a quick look and a I’ll-be-right-back hand gesture then made his way towards Rey.

He looked excited to see her, as always, but a little apprehensive. Their dynamic had changed since Crait. He now spent most of his time with Rose, and Rey had kept to herself for most of the time.

He wrapped his arms around her and gave her a big bear hug.

“You do give the best hugs, Finn.”

They were both smiling when the hug ended.

“What have you been up to? I have barely seen you.”

“Just… uhm,”  Rey babbled a bit, “trying to finish my Jedi training, Luke never got the chance to do it.”

“Yeah? Good, that’s good! We will definitely need you in tip-top shape if we’re to defeat that monster, Kylo Ren.”

For some unknown reason that stung her. She had no problem calling him a monster, she had done so several times, he was one, but somehow, it didn’t feel great hearing it from someone else’s mouth.

She contemplated telling him the entire story, but brushed it off just as fast as the thought occurred.  

“Are those the Jedi texts?”, he asked looking down at the books in her hands.

“Yeah, some of these are really old. I was hoping maybe C3PO could help me decipher them.”

Finn gave her a look as to say “ C3PO? You must really want this if you’re looking at 3PO for help.

She gave him a smile in response.

 

“Miss Rey, how nice it is to have you among us, please excuse the mess. One must make due with what one has in such turbulent times. Of course, most of my lifetime has been quite turbulent so…”

“Yeah! Hi 3PO,” Finn cut him off, “Rey here has these texts, can you see if they match one of your 6 million languages?”

“It is actually 6 million forms of communication and not languages, but I shall try. Let me have a look at them.”

Both Finn and Rey rolled their eyes at the droid. 

C3PO picked up the first book, and browse thought it. “Ah yes, this is in the old Jedi language, and it’s written in a dialect that has been gone for over a millennia. It details the ways of the Jedi, the dogma…. “

“What about this one?”, Rey handed him a new one. “Anything we didn’t knew before in this one?”

“Oh that is very interesting, I am surprised such book was in a Jedi temple. The language is the precursor of a Sith language, also long dead. It talks about the Force and the balance of the Universe, and the balance in everything and everyone, the usual run of the mill Force academia stuff”.  C3PO said as he browsed through it.

“Oh my! That is interesting! It mentions something called the great Schism, I have never heard of such a thing before, I wonder what they separated.”

And so they went on, with C3PO translating the texts, focusing on the things that were new to them.

“I do not recognize these symbols, this language, but I see in it elements of the old Jedi language, with a strong Sith influence in semiotics.”  C3PO said about the book Rey was most interested in.

“How can you tell semiotics if you don’t know the language?” Finn asked.

“Well, when you have acquired as much knowledge as I have about languages, form-patterns appear, for example, you see this part here, we can assume that it’s a ….”. C3PO started proudly.

“Forget I asked.” Finn walked off, hands up.

“Thank you C3PO”, Rey said. “Do you think you could eventually decipher the old language?”

The robot started doing mental arithmetics with soundbites coming out of him on occasion.  

“If I work on it for 16 hours a day”

“… If i use Reegjitsk extrapolation formula…..”  

“...of course i have to take account for…”

“Yes, Master Rey. I believe I could have a full translation in about 1 year 2 months 5 days and 15 hours and 23 minutes”

“Thanks.”, Rey did not hide the disappointment on her face.

 

***

 

Poe started off the Resistance Meeting in the Command Center with a very somber look on his face.

“It seems that our darling Supreme Leader Kylo Ren has ordered Hux to destroy every single location that we sent out the distress signal to from Crait. They have already taken out 5 of our closest allies. The rest are scrambling to evacuate as we speak.”

“This, of course, puts a major dent in out little plan, since any other allies that we might have gained are now backtracking, afraid of the First Order’s retribution.”

“I have talked to General Leia and we both have come to the conclusion, me more reluctantly, that we should keep low for a little while.”

There was a wave of noise going through the room.

“We have a safe place here,” Poe continued, ignoring the noise, “they will not find us. We have managed to send coded messages to what’s left of our allies to stay put and let the wave of the regime change die down before we do something.”

“Not like we could have done much anyway,” Poe interrupted himself, “no ships, a handful of men and women and a couple of droids.”

BB8 made a specific affronted sound.

“Yes, very talented droids, thank you, but my point still stands.”

“That was all, dismissed.” Poe ended the meeting.

 

***

 

The evening meal was a solemn affair, not too many people spoke, and if they did, they did it in hushed tones. Was hope in the galaxy really dead? Did Kylo Ren really manage to snuff it out? That’s what most of them seemed to be asking.

Rey looked down at her right arm, on it were two bracelets, a leather one that wrapped around a cloaked binary beacon, to guide her way to the Resistance, and a copper one that guided her way towards the Resistance’s worst enemy. She felt ashamed.

Lacking an appetite, she decided to retire to the Falcon early. As she made her way out of the caves, she couldn’t help but be drawn back towards the temple. “I have to clear another entry tomorrow” she thought to herself. “I will find out your secrets, temple!”, she yelled out.

“That’s good, that’s productive.” Poe’s voice came from behind her. “That’s one of the best things, fighting with inanimate objects. They never fight back!”

“Are you... drunk?” she asked, frowning.

“Nooo!” came a quick response.

“Maybe, just a little”, he showed how little with two fingers. “It’s been a shitty day, to a shitty week, to a shitty month and a shittier year.” he sighed deeply.  

“We could really use a win. A good win! A solid win, not a  won this, but they destroyed this sort of win. An all around win. Man, I would give my right hand for a win like that. I would give the other one if I could personally blow up Kylo fucking Ren.”

“I’m sure you’ll get your chance, Poe.” she said walking back towards the Falcon.

“I hope you get your chance.” she corrected herself. She was supremely furious with Kylo Ren.

 

***

 

She tossed and turned most of the night, images of the throne room, of the battle on Crait, of him ordering the destruction of their allies, they all kept haunting her.

As she finally fell asleep, her last thought was Kylo Ren, and just like that, he manifested inside her dream.

He was wearing what she referred to as his murderous suit. The one he wore, what felt like a lifetime ago, in a snow covered forest.

He looked menacing in the all black suit. His head covered by a black hood, his face striking in the contrast.

The lightsaber was hanging by his belt, the only thing missing was his mask, which she was glad for, she hated the stupid thing.

 

“I…” he blinked. “I was in the middle of something.” he was a little shaken by his arrival in this strange realm.

“Yes, I heard all about it, murder and mayhem, sorry to have taken you away from it.” she shot back with hate in her eyes.

“Did you bring me here?” he puzzled, looking her in the eyes.

“No!” she retorted.

“I’m not sure. I think I may have, but it wasn’t on purpose,” she added quickly, “you’re the last person I want to see right now.”

That stung him a little.

He looked around, taking in his new surroundings, all he saw was sand littered with fallen ships from wars fought long ago.

“Jakku?” he questioned.

“Jakku" she agreed. “The starships graveyard.”

“I hate sand.” he said to no one.

A small thin figure came out of a fallen Empire Destroyer ship, dragging pieces of scrap metal and apparatus larger than her.

“I remember this,” she chimed in, excitement in her voice, “there was a big sand storm the week before, it unearthed a buried ship. I was the first one to find it. A ship all of my own!”

Kylo smiled inwardly at the pride he heard in her voice.

“I found great stuff in there,” she continued despite herself, “I managed to trade them for parts I needed to build my speeder and managed to gather a small reserve of rations, too. I did not go hungry for two months.” she finished off.

Kylo frowned at the thought. He never considered the possibility of her going hungry, and the notion tugged at his heartstrings. He swallowed and turned his attention to the young Rey.

She looked like a girl that was just starting to leave behind childhood, maybe thirteen years old, he guessed.

Her clothes and hairstyle weren’t much different from the Rey he knew. Her face still had the baby roundness to it, even though she was quite skinny, probably malnourished, he thought.

He looked at the small figure trying her best to pull her loot on the makeshift sleigh with a mixture of… what was it? Pity? He did not think it was pity, maybe sorrow, but maybe a little amusement too, at the little thing struggled with big scraps of metal and apparatus.

When she finally managed to finish her task, the image around them blurred, then came back into focus in a different part of Jakku, in Crater Town.

Rey was at a cleaning station by the watering hole, rubbing away rust and sand from her loot. All around her were men, women, and children of different races, all scrubbing away. Most of them seemed to know her, and they were nodding their hellos when their eyes met.

Somehow, Kylo felt like she wasn’t fully relaxed around them, like she was on the defense.

Rey, his Rey, the adult Rey, he corrected himself in his head, was sitting by his side. He ventured a look and was taken aback by what he saw. She seemed to be frozen in place, a look of shock on her face, her eyes far away, somewhere else.

“Rey?” he cried out. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her gently back to him.

“Are you okay? Answer me!”

Her eyes slowly focused on him, they spoke of fear and questions, of shock and confusion.

“I… I remember now. It was you, it had always been you! How…?”

 

The image shifted around them again, they were on the back alleys of Crater Town. Young Rey was dragging the makeshift sleigh, now full of much cleaner scraps and apparatus. The alleys were surrounded on each side by tall, tan, windowless, adobe-looking buildings, the deeper she got into the senseless maze of alleys that made up Crater Town, the narrower they got.

She was headed towards Lakar Ankom’s trading post. If one needed food on Jakku, one went to Unkar-Plutt, for trade they went to Lakar.

The thought of being able to trade in her stash for the missing speeder parts she needed gave her strength and excited her to no end.  She had been dreaming of this day for a very long time. Just thinking about not having to walk everywhere, and drag all this stuff around, it put a big smile on her face.

As she turned the next corner, she saw three boys making their way down the street. She side eyed them as they passed her, then pulled her quarterstaff closer to her,  the act made her feel better, safer.

One more corner and she was there.

“What’cha got there, little girl?” a high pitched voice came from behind her, it sounded like the voice of a teenager followed by another, stronger one. “Yeah, little girl, why don’t you show us?”

There was a cold chill going down little Rey's’ back, but she steadied herself, turned around and in the strongest voice that she could muster, shot back “None of your business is what I have!”

The three looked at each other then snickered. “Brave this one, isn’t she?” The one that hadn’t spoken yet noted, the biggest of the bunch, probably the leader, she thought to herself.

“Well, I guess we have to teach the sand rat a lesson in talking back to her elders.”, he snorted.

“Boys,” he made a hand gesture towards her, “bring me her stash.”

The two smaller ones charged her, but she had her staff ready. She shoved one end of it into one of the boys’ face, then twisted it around and shoved the other end into his privates. The boy crumbled to the sandy ground, his nose bloody, his hands cupping his privates.

She turned around to deal with the other boy, but was taken aback by a fist to her right jaw. She took 2 steps back, shook her head, then yelled her rage at the other boy right before charging at him.

She feinted left, then struck him from the right side, hitting him under the ribs, making him bend over in pain. She angled her staff for a blow to his head, but something was wrong, the staff wasn’t moving. She looked up, the third boy, the larger of the group, was holding on to it.

“We were,” he started, his breath raspy, “only going to take your stuff, but now we have to teach you a lesson. Don’t we boys?” he eyed his friends as they were pulling themselves back up.

He pushed her hard into one of the walls, knocking the breath out of her, his hand was squeezing her small neck.

“What shall we carve first?”, he mocked, pulling out a knife.

She was completely terrified as he angled the knife towards her face.

The blade nicked at her cheek as a flash of black kicked the knife wielder halfway down the empty street. The sound of breaking bones echoed down it.

She dropped to her knees, gasping for air. She looked in horror as the black shape grabbed the throat of the second boy and slammed him against the wall, again and again, until she heard another sound of something breaking and he fell limp to the ground.

The third boy was cowering on the ground, his back to the wall. The dark figure grabbed at him, his large hand digging into his temples. The monster looked behind him for a second, then suddenly stopped.

The hooded head moved next to the boys’ ear and mouthed “It seems to be your lucky day.”

The young man croaked as the dark figure dug his fingers deeper into his head. “If you ever so much as lay eyes upon this girl, I will destroy you in ways you cannot fathom. Do you understand?” the dark figure hissed.

The boy nodded slightly, then the dark figure released him. He was running as soon as his feet touched the ground.

 

***

 

Kylo had a bad feeling about it as soon as he saw the three young men. Still, he felt almost prideful when little Rey hold her own against two much larger and older boys.

He made a move towards them as soon as he saw the older boy approaching. But there was something stopping him, like an invisible shield in front of him. Why couldn’t he break through? Did Rey have the same problem? It seemed so easy when she did it, when she broke through and held him, his former self.

Then he saw the big boy push her against the wall. He started shaking, every atom of his being was vibrating with sheer rage. Something inside him broke and with it the shield that kept him away.

He kicked the large one with so much force he knew he broke bones. “Good!” he though as he moved towards the next one. His rage was uncontrollable. His ears were ringing with thunder as he smashed the other one against the wall, again and again.

“Ben!” he thought he heard as he picked up the third one.

“Ben, don’t!” his Rey yelled out, that made him stop and turn around.

“Please Ben, don’t kill him!” she pleaded.

His rage was still insatiable, but he pulled as much as he could back into himself and managed to hiss something at the boy, instead of killing him.

He took a deep breath and exhaled through his nostrils, centering himself.

He gently got down on the ground in front of little Rey and removed his hood.  

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I’m sorry for all of this.” he made a small hand gesture. “I did not mean to frighten you.”

He seemed worried. He didn’t want this girl to fear him.

“Are you okay, Rey?” he asked in the softest voice he possessed.

She lifted her head at the sound of her name, unasked questions on her face.

“You’re bleeding,” he noted, then tore off a small patch off his shirt. “I know,” he gave her a weak smile, “but it’s clean though".

She took it shyly and put it on her bleeding cheek. It stung her.

“You know, I’ll tell you a little secret. It’s gonna leave a little scar there, but scars make you look stronger and scarier. Look at mine.” He said, his finger tracing his long scar down his face, his mouth shaped into a smile.

“Who did that?” she asked in a small voice.

He chuckled, but did not answer.

They stayed in silence for a minute, then Kylo asked her again.

“Are you okay?”

“I am… Thank you.” She had finally found her voice, but the man in black was gone.

 

 

This time when the image swirled, it just turned to black. They found themselves surrounded by darkness, the world around them was gone. The only light left was the one around them, they could not see past each other, was there anything left but each other?

Rey dropped to her knees. She remembered all of it before it happened, right in front of her eyes. She remembered the dark figure, the monster that came to her rescue. He was frightful and terrible and yet, she did not fear it, even then.

“What is happening?” she yelled out. “I am losing my mind!”

Kylo kneeled in front of her, took off his gloves and threw them to the side. He placed a hand on one side of her face and she leaned into it, the little movement made his heart sing.

He placed the other hand on the opposite side and gently caressed the little scar on her right cheek.

“You noticed." she huffed with slightly upturned lips.

“Of course.”

“I don’t know.” he continued answering her first question with a frown on his face.

“When I woke up from last night’s dream, the one that we shared, I started to wonder if that was the first time we’ve met in dreams, or in my past, if you visited me before… or again. In that dream, that night,  you told me that I should look for the light, and I did. I finally did. I searched my memories looking for it, looking for you, Rey.”

She looked up at him.

“I found you, Rey,” he was wiping away her tears with his thumbs, “I found your light at every turn. In my dreams, in my nightmares, in my waking hours. In my darkest moments, when my demons were getting louder and louder, you were a ray of light, you were the spark that refused to die in the darkness. I have at least a dozen memories of you, like I did the other day, like you do now. All you have to do is look for them, and you will find them too.”

“How did two lonely children a galaxy apart manage to find each other? Don’t ask, I have no answers.” He took a deep breath, then continued.

“My last memory of you is the night before I left for Luke’s temple. I was excited, but mostly scared. You came to me, as a younger Rey, even younger than you were just now, on Jakku. I told you my fears and you told me yours. We helped each other that night, like many nights before."

“I have thought about this since I found your fingerprints all over my soul, and I think...,” he ventured hesitantly, “I think it’s because of you, that my soul is not a black hole, it’s because of you there’s still a flicker on light in me." He paused and swallowed the knot that formed inside his throat. "I also think that if our connection hadn’t stopped, you would have managed to save more of my light and maybe… maybe, I would have been the Ben Solo that everyone wanted me to be.”

She looked at him puzzled and a little worried.

“No, no!”, Kylo had read the unasked question on her face, “Please never think to blame yourself, I was weak, I could not fight the darkness and it was not your duty to be my keeper.”

He paused, swallowed again then continued. “Ben Solo is gone, Rey”, he said setting his jaw.

“I know…” she nodded in his hands.

“I wish I could be him again, if that is the price I have to pay, to you, for you, then I wish that I could pay it. But I can’t. Ben Solo is gone, the light that I used to feel as a child has been replaced by so much hate and anger, I can barely control it.” His eyes were filled with tears. “You saw what I just did to those boys, I would do it again without a second thought or a trace of remorse. You know that, and you know I’ve done worse still. I told you Rey, I am a monster.” tears fell down his face like water out of a broken dam.

She hugged him, tight, as tight as she could, hoping that his broken pieces would melt back together.

Chapter Text

For the second night in a row Rey jumped up awake, her breathing fast and ragged. A quick look around her told her that she was alone in her bunk, on the Falcon, exactly where she fell asleep hours ago. Hours that somehow felt like days.

Rey didn’t think she was ready to find out if Kylo was right, if she would find him in her memories, but she decided that it didn’t matter if she was ready or not, she had to know.  

She pulled her legs underneath herself in a meditative pose and closed her eyes. Parts of last night’s conversations were still playing in her mind, taking away her focus.

All of a sudden, she found herself falling, and falling, and falling. The fall did not wake her from her meditation, but took her deeper into herself, where she saw what had been there all along.

Her eyes were moving rapidly underneath her eyelids as she saw memory after memory, dream after dream, of herself and him. Two children being there for each other in their darkest times.

He had been there the first night after her parents sold her, and many nights after that through the years, when the loneliness and the longing were too hard to bear.

Her last memory of him was the one from the alleys of Crater Town, she did not recognize him as the boy that came to her. How could she? He was a grown man that day.

She laid back on her bed, then pressed the palms of her hands into her eyeballs and muffled a scream. How did she not remember this before, remember him? But she did, didn’t she? Or at least she thought she did. In the forest, on Maz Kanata’s planet, she felt like she had seen him before, somewhere, in a dream, or a nightmare.  

She wanted to talk to him again, she needed to talk to him. The only person in the universe that understood what she was going through was him, her enemy.

But she couldn’t, their regular force connections had stopped. She could try to open a bridge between them, but she did not want to see if she could actually do it. She wasn’t ready to find out the answer to that.  

She gathered her stray thoughts and put them into a mental box. It was time she found out more about what was going on. It was time to open the other temple.

 

***

 

Kylo Ren was not lying when he said that he was in the middle of something.  

He had been on a comlink with several of his generals, in the middle of First Order business, when the Force connection started. Fortunately, it seemed that he had hit the disconnect button on his way to the floor, when Rey dragged him into her dream.

That, plus his reputation of quick temper seemed to have saved him from some awkward questions, and more importantly a show of weakness. There was no place for weakness in the First Order. Any sign of it would be exploited to the max by a long list of people, a list that started with Hux.

Now that his thoughts were on Hux, he made a mental note to congratulate him for a job well done. He did not particularly want to do it, but in the end, no matter how much he wanted to deny it, he was Leia Oragana’s son, and that had taught him a thing or two about politics.

It had not escaped him that the regular Force connections between him and Rey seemed to have been either stopped or put on pause. He wondered why that was.

He felt conflicted about it. Part of him missed the unannounced pop-ups, another part was pleased. It made things easier, there would be no awkward visitations at bad times, but most importantly… what was the point of all of this, where could all of this lead to?

He knew how he felt about her, and he knew who he was. Unfortunately for him, he did not think that he was someone she could love. If he were Ben Solo, maybe, but he was not, and all of it made him hate Ben Solo so much more.

He squeezed his hands into fists and set his jaw. He took a slide glance at his fist and noticed, for the first time, that his gloves were gone. He had removed them in the dream, and somehow they disappeared from reality. “Interesting.” he thought to himself.

 

***

 

“Rey!”, she heard her name as soon as she stepped out of the Falcon. It was Poe, he made his way towards her with rapid steps.

“Hey!” He put a hand through his hair and gave her a side smile. “Just wanted to let you know that, I, Chewy, 3PO, and a couple of others are goin’ on a supply run. We really need at least another ship, one that isn’t the most famous and hated ship for First Order. We’ll be leaving at sundown.”

Rey nodded in agreement, then added. “Do you want me to come with you?”

“Ah, no!” Poe added quickly. “We’ll be fine, plus we need you here, to protect the rest.” He started chewing on his lower lip. “Look, I just wanted to say I’m sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable or anything…”

Rey looked at him with a little frown, then remembered. “Oh, that? No apology needed.”

She started walking towards the temple and Poe followed, matching her steps. “What’cha up to today?”, he asked.

“I’m gonna open the other temple, see what I find.”

“Cool! I’ll join you”, Poe added.

Rey did not argue.

 

***

 

“Which one are you gonna open? The big one?” Poe asked curiously.

“No. The other one.” Rey answered.

“Why not the big one?”

“I’m not sure… I feel drawn to this one. Maybe the Force is trying to tell me something.”

Poe looked puzzled.

“I’ve learned to listen to the Force.” she replied with a smile.

Rey lifted her right hand and started to move the piles of rocks, again, one by one.

“This might take a while.” Rey said with a side glance at him.

“In that case, I’ll check it out when you’re done. I have some rebel business to attend to.” There was a big, wide grin on his face as he waved her off.

Two hours later, Rey had finished moving all the rocks into a big pile besides her.

She took a deep breath to center herself, then walked towards the now open entrance to the temple.

Just like the first temple, the entrance was blocked by a large wall that had openings on either side, she entered the temple through one of them.

Rey found herself inside another triangular room, this one empty, save for the writings on the walls. On her right side were symbols that reminded her of the Jedi language, on the left were symbols she was not familiar with. As she turned around to face the wall behind, her mouth opened in surprise. She recognized the symbols, some were the same as the ones on the cover of the book no one could decode, the same as the ones on her bracelet.

She took another long look at the writing on each of the walls. She knew the Force wanted her to see this. It all had to mean something. An idea began to form, but she needed proof.

 

***

 

“C3PO, could you move any faster?” Rey pleaded as she dragged him into the temple.

“Look at these walls, they’re covered in ancient texts.” She continued before 3PO had a chance to complain. “See this one”, she pointed to the one right in front of them, the wall that was blocking the entrance to the temple, “it looks like the symbols in the book you didn’t understand, and this one”, she pointed to the wall on the left it looks a little like Jedi writing, “I’m not familiar with the one on the opposite wall…”

“AH! Yes! Good catch, Miss Rey. That one looks like a very old version of the Sith language.” He looked at the right wall then the left, then back again. “Hmm, that is interesting. The writings on both of these walls seem to have the same translation. The light and the dark. The balance. The Force always seeking balance… ” He cut himself off and pondered for a moment. “I do wonder… If these two walls say the same thing in different languages, then maybe the one in front of us does too.”

“All the walls say the same thing in different languages!”, Rey exclaimed.

“I believe so, and if I am correct, that means that I can…”

“You can translated the Jedi book!” Rey almost jumped up, excited.

“Well, it will take me some time, but yes.”

“Do you need the Jedi book?” Rey asked.

“Oh no, I have all of it in my memory, just as I have these carvings. I shall start processing it right away.”

Rey was beyond excited, she had been right.

 

***

 

“Rrrrrrr-ghghghghgh”, Chewbacca said pointing at a freighter ship

“What about this one?” C-3PO had translated for everyone.

Poe’s eyebrows moved up. “That’s not bad Chewy, it’s light and fast, and it’s got some weaponry on it. It’s not an X-wing, but it could work.”

Chewie roared something back.

“He agrees,” 3PO confirmed to the surprise of no one.

“3PO!” Poe made a come here sign with his hand. “I need you to go on with the rest and translate Wookie for them. I gotta go talk to a guy about a thing.”

“Are you sure that is wise? I don’t think it is the best idea to…”

“3PO!” Poe exclaimed, then made a shut it hand gesture.

“How rude!” the droid spoke after Poe was out of earshot.

 

Four hours later, they all met by the Millennium Falcon, two other freighter ships were parked next to it.

“Found what you needed, Commander Poe?” C3PO asked him.

“And then some!” Poe said as he made his way past the droid and onto one of the freighter ships. His jaw was set, and his face harsher than 3PO had ever seen it before.

 

***

 

With Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon gone, she found herself homeless for the night. Poe had offered her his room but she declined. She really didn’t want to be the recluse of the group, but she couldn't afford to sleep around company, when she knew there was the possibility of connecting with Kylo Ren in her dreams.  

She decided to sleep in one of the temples. She made her bed in the one she opened today, it was the furthest from the camp.

Rey knew her friends would try to coax her out of sleeping in the temple, so she made sure she spent the rest of the day with them, hoping that they would put up less of a fight when it was time for bed.

She had dinner with Finn, Rose, and Connix. It was a good dinner, with lots of talking and laughter, Rey really did love her friends. After that, she spent some time with Leia. It seemed to her that Leia had aged ten years in the last week. She understood why, and wished she could help take the heavy blanket of sorrow off of her.

When she finally retired to her makeshift bed, she brought with her one of the Jedi books, the one that had some very rudimentary schematics of a lightsaber. She hoped it would show her how to fix her weapon.

A few hours later, she fell asleep with the book in her hands.

 

***

 

“You broke it?” a voice she came to know too well came from behind her.

I did not broke it, if anything we broke it, or it broke itself instead of choosing sides, if you believe what lightsabers are… special” Rey protested.

She was dreaming, and in her dream she was inside the Millennium Falcon, the two broken pieces of Luke’s lightsaber on the table. She was trying to figure out if she could fix it, poking at the Kyber crystal, trying to extract it from the shell.

“Don’t!” Kylo spoke from behind her.  “If that was functional, you would've just blown yourself up and taken the Falcon with you.”

“I’m dreaming, it’s a dream. I think I’m good”, Rey countered.

“I would be careful of dreams, Rey, ours seems to affect reality.”

She looked at him, but said nothing for a while.

She took a deep breath before speaking again. “I’m a Jedi, I need a lightsaber. I don’t know how to build one, but I’ve built plenty of other things in my life, I think I can figure it out. I think.”

“You won’t.” he said in a deadpan voice.

She gave him a sharp look.

“I don’t mean to underestimate your fixing skills, but there is a reason why there are so few lightsabers in the galaxy.” He took a seat on the opposite side of the bench Rey was sitting on. “Only trained Force sensitive people can do it, and not all, some have failed with… resounding consequences.”

Rey looked down, disappointed.

“Can I?”, he asked grabbing half of a lightsaber.

She nodded.

“I have wanted this lightsaber for different reasons all my life. First as a child, wanting a family heirloom, then as an adult, when I found out it was the lightsaber of my famous grandfather, Darth-Vader.”

“You didn’t know who your grandfather was?”

“No one told me, I found out with the rest of the galaxy when my family’s dark secret came out. Somehow, at that time, it felt… suiting.”

He rolled the lightsaber in his hands. The famous Vader lightsaber, finally in his hands. Broken.

He took a deep breath. “I am going to regret this when you’ll use it against me, again, but… I’ll help you rebuilt the lightsaber.”

“Really?” she looked at him, surprised. “Why?”

“Because…” he trailed off. “Because you’re a Jedi and a Jedi must have a lightsaber.”

“Are you going to do it so that it blows up in my face when I turn it on?”, Rey asked, eyeing him.

“I’m doing it so that it doesn’t blow up in your face when you turn it on.”

She looked at him for a minute, at this man, her enemy, offering to help her. She extended a hand across the table and placed it on top of his. Kylo’s eyes shot up at her in an instant.

“I looked for you, just like you told me to. I found you.” she squeezed his hand.

He swallowed and moved his pressed lips around.

“Right, ok. Let’s remove the crystal”

Removing it seemed to be more work than he thought. Because the most important thing was the crystal, he decided to tear the lightsaber apart, piece by piece.

After what seemed like forever they found themselves in front of many, many pieces of lightsaber parts meticulously arranged on the table.  The two halves of the Kyber crystal glowed slightly under the lights.

“This crystal was huge.” Kylo broke the silence. “You can break it up and make 10 lightsabers with this. We should be able to find all the parts we need on this ship, maybe except the Diatinum power cell, but in a pinch, you can always take one from a droid.”

“I’m not gonna kill a droid….” she started to object, but stopped when she saw Kylo’s amused face.

“Rey, I know you’re good with a lightsaber,” he said, his face back to normal, “but I think you’ll be even better if we turn your quarterstaff into a double ended lightsaber.”

Rey hadn’t even considered that as a possibility, so she thought about it for a moment. She had been using the quarterstaff ever since she could remember, she was much more familiar with it than with a saber. She would be better at it, she would be so much better at it. She stopped herself.  

“Why are you doing this?” she asked with a straight face. “Why are you arming your enemy?”

“I… I’m not your enemy.” he got up from the table and straightened himself. “I will not raise my lightsaber against you.”

Rey looked poignantly at the crystals. She got up from the table, walked the couple of steps towards him and looked up at him.

“Can I trust you? Can I trust that you will not use the things I tell you against me or the Resistance?”

Kylo chewed on his lips for a few seconds. “I will not use what you tell me against you, or them.” He spat out the word “them”.

She grabbed his hand and dragged him back to the table.

“You work, I'll talk.” she said with a little smile.

And so she told him about the planet, but not its location, about the temples she found, the bracelet, the old book in the Jedi temple, about the writings on the wall, and C-3PO hopefully translating all of it by the time he’s back. She didn’t mean to mention that the droid left, but it escaped her.

While she talked, he managed to salvage some parts from the broken lightsaber, and work on the quarterstaff.  When she finished talking, the lightsaber  was nowhere near ready.

He took her hand, the one with the bracelet and gently turned it around to see the symbols. “I do not recognize them either, but somehow they seem a little familiar.” He also noticed the cloaked binary beacon on her hand, but didn’t mention it.

“I hope you will let me know what 3PO finds out, as for the lightsaber, it will take a few days. It’s a time consuming process even when one has all the parts handy. This is what we will need…”, he started listing all the parts that were missing.

The first rays of sunlight were hitting the inside of the Falcon, bouncing off shiny surfaces.

“We’ve spent all night together, again.” Rey told him. “One of us is going to wake up soon…”

“You’re right...”

Kylo got up from the bench and Rey followed him. They were face to face, looking into each other’s eyes.  He raised a hand to her face and traced the contours of it with two fingers.

His touch sent shivers down her spine, and she found herself leaning against it, again. She closed her eyes, hoping for more, wanting more.

She was very disappointed when she finally opened them to find out that he was gone.

That’s not good”, Rey thought, “That, is so not good.”

Chapter Text

“General Hux!” a First Order lieutenant called after him, walking briskly until he reached him, then continued. “We have received word from a bounty hunter that his team spotted the Millennium Falcon on Ikura, in the Kachiak system. Should we inform the Supreme Leader?”

“No.” Hux answered quickly. “It won’t be necessary. Do we know who’s on board?”

“Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, a protocol droid and the Wookie, but they seem to be accompanied by a few other unknown rebels.”

Hux thought for a second. This was a good opportunity to get rid of the obnoxious rebel pilot, but he was confident that he could kill even more birds with one stone, and with just a touch of luck he could kill the entire flock. “Tell the bounty hunter to tail them to their hideout, he is not to interact unless absolutely necessary. Understood?”

“Yes, General!” The lieutenant left with a salute.

Hux knew that Kylo Ren would not be happy if he found out he went behind his back, so he had to make sure the information didn’t reach him. Not for a little while at least. He smirked at the thought. There was a lot of planning to be done, but first he had to stay out of Kylo Ren’s range.

Hux dialed Ren through the HoloNet then he stood up straighter, his face expressionless.

“Supreme Leader,” Hux started, “my spies have informed me that they have found several other rebel sympathizers in this system. I would like to take the opportunity and deal with them.”

“What about the rebels? Have you found them?”, Kylo spoke with no emotion in his voice, his chin up.

“I have not, but my scouts and spies are searching for them. It will only be a matter of time.”

“Let me know as soon as they’re spotted," Ren ordered, “and you may go ahead and deal with the sympathizers.” Kylo closed the link.

“You may !” Hux spit out. “ MAY!

“I will show you, Supreme fucking Leader!”, Hux barked, his face bright red with anger.

 

***

 

Kylo knew that with the rebels out of hiding, with the Millenium Falcon out in the Galaxy, there was a possibility of it being spotted by First Order spies. He had to be the first to know if it was.

Only he could keep the First Order away from them. He absolutely hated the thought, it revolted him. Keeping his enemies safe, but he knew that if anything happened to them after Rey opened up to him she would cut the very last straw that he was grasping at. He was not ready for that.

 

***

 

Rey spent most of the day in the communal dining room, working on the lightsaber, breaking it apart, piece by peace, salvaging all that she could, putting the pieces in small, meticulous piles, just like Kylo did. She worked much faster than he had, having seen him do this, she knew the best and fastest way to go about it.

She felt a hand on her shoulder, when she looked up she saw Leia. Rey smiled at her and the General smiled back.

Leia took a seat next to her. “You’re fixing the lightsaber”, she said in a matter-of-fact way.

“I’m trying.”

Leia kept looking at her hands as she worked, but most of her focus was on the little sorted piles on the table, her mind seemed far, far away. She looked back at Rey then with the smallest of smiles and a nod said, “I’ll let you to it.”

By dinner time, Rey found most of the pieces Kylo had mentioned she needed. Of course she didn’t know exactly how they'd all fit together, and she didn’t want to take the chance on it. She would find that out tonight, in the meantime she busied herself with the quarterstaff. Thinking of the best ways to turn in into a lightsaber, what would be the perfect length for her? She imagined how it would look like, but without knowing the length of plasma blade the broken crystals would provide she could not be sure.

It surprised her to realize that she was excited about it, not just her quarterstaff being turned into a lightsaber, but also doing this with him, seeing him again, touching him… Part of her was screaming at her that even thinking that was wrong. She quieted that part.

Dinner time came and went and the Millennium Falcon did not return. They were all getting more and more worried as the day turned into night.

“They should have been back by now.” Finn spoke out. “Something is wrong, I know it!”

“They’re fine,” Leia assured them, “Poe is the best pilot in the resistance and Chewy is the best co-pilot in the galaxy. They’ll be back as soon as they can, I’m sure.”

“If they don’t…,” Rose began softly, “we’re stranded here.”

Rey’s stomach was turning, she felt nauseated, she unintentionally told Kylo about C3PO leaving. That was all he must have needed, he knew they all left in the Millennium Falcon.  She trusted him, she trusted Kylo Ren and now her friends were missing, or maybe worse. She was furious with him, but mostly with herself. She should have known better, better than to trust a monster, better than to feel for a monster. “Stupid, stupid girl!” she admonished herself. Rey felt like crying, and screaming, and kicking something.

She decided to wait up for the Falcon’s return with Finn, Rose and a couple of others. She did not want to see Kylo Ren. They stayed up telling stories of the Resistance, talking about their families, or what was left of them, about their hopes for the future, about their fears.

It was well after midnight when sleep started to take them one by one. Rey was the last one to go.

 

***

 

“I was beginning to wonder….” Kylo started with a little smile when she materialized inside the Falcon.

Rey came at him swinging. He barely had time to dodge a jab aimed at his face.

“Rey!”, he exclaimed, taken aback.

She answered him with a left hook. He caught her fist and twisted her arm behind her back, his other arm wrapped around her, trapping her. She struggled in his grip.

“Let me go!” she yelled at him.

“Why are you doing this, Rey?” he begged, letting her go.

“I trusted you,” she spat at him, “I trusted you and now my friends are missing.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…” he lied.

“I told you last night that 3PO left, it’s been a day and they’re not back. What have you done to them?”

“Rey,” he started hands up, defensive, “I had nothing to do with that, I swear it.” He was telling the truth, if anything he was ready to let the rebels go just so she wouldn’t blame him for it, but he wasn’t going to tell her that.

“Are you coming for the rest of us next?” she continued, not listening to him. “Are you coming for me, for your mother? Finish all of us off?”

“I gave you my word.” He moved half a step closer to her with every word.

“Your word?” she mocked him. “Your word obviously has no value.”

“It does when I give it to you.” He was close enough to touch now. “Have I ever lied to you, Rey?”

She did not answer.

He moved closer, their bodies touching. “You know I haven’t.” He slowly, gently, wrapped his arms around her in a hug. Rey struggled a little in the embrace, but soon felt her rage starting to melt away, her arms limp to her side.

He hold her in his arms, not saying a word. He didn’t know when all of this started, when she had crawled her way inside his soul, maybe it was when they touched hands on Luke’s Island, maybe in a snow covered forest or maybe it was long before that, he didn’t know. But by the time he realized what was happening, she had made a home inside of him, anchoring herself with long, sharp talons and he knew he could never remove her from his soul, not without tearing it apart.

He chewed on his words for a moment, then spoke. “Rey… you know how I feel about you. You’ve known in the throne room, when I asked you to join me. You’ve known the other night when we were in your dream… and you know now. So please, trust that I would never hurt you.”

“I love you, Rey.” he said, his chin shaking.

“I know.” And she did know, she had seen it in his eyes when he chose her over Snoke, when he begged her to join him. She knew… A lonely tear was making its way down her cheek.

Kylo swallowed, hard, audible. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, but before he could exhale, he felt her arms wrap around him, her head pressed against his chest. Kylo didn’t know what that meant, but he felt like it was enough, for now. Even if she would never feel for him what he felt for her, her presence, these nights spent with her, they felt like fresh, cool balm on his burned and parched soul and he would give much more than he would like to admit to have them never end.

They sat like that, holding each other,  without saying a word, the sound of their breathing filling the silence, until Kylo finally broke it. “We should work on your lightsaber.”

They spent the rest of the night working on the lightsaber in silence. Rey took her quarterstaff apart, removing the smooth middle part, the two ends of the staff already looked surprisingly  like lightsabers. She never noticed that before. Kylo was working on the mechanics of it, making sure she paid attention to the important parts.

“I think this is as far as we can go,” he said, “tomorrow we’ll start the hard part.”

“The hard part?” Rey asked surprised. “You’re telling me this was the easy part?”

Kylo smirked a little. “Yes. Tomorrow you’re going to have to assemble the lightsaber using the Force, you have to feel the crystal, feel the imperfections in it, and position it properly, if you don’t, it will blow up in your hands.”

Rey looked a little unsure of herself.

“You’ll be fine,” Kylo assured her, “and I’ll be here to help you.”

 

***

 

As soon as Kylo was awake he left for the command center and called on Hux through the HaloNet.

“Hux, any word on the rebels?” he started talking as soon as the connection was made.

Hux did his little ritual of straightening an already perfectly straight back, then started. “No, Supreme Leader, I have no news of thhhz…”, Hux felt invisible hands around his throat, pressing on his windpipe, making him choke on his words.

From the other side of the HaloNet, Hux heard Kylo Ren’s voice. “Are you sure?”

Hux felt his heels leaving the floor, his body moving up, he was barely touching the floor with the tip of his shoes, the pressure on his throat getting stronger. He clawed at the invisible hands around his neck, knowing full well that it will do no good.

With all his strength he managed to rasp out a ragged “Yes.”

But Kylo did not release him.

“If you went behind my back,” Kylo barked at him, and he felt fingers digging even deeper into his throat, “you will regret it.” Hux felt his body fly, then abruptly land back first into a metal wall, the last of his breath escaped him.

The HaloNet disconnected.

It took him a minute to recover from the Force choke, from the humiliation. His entire body was vibrating with rage. He managed to lift himself up, and dust himself off, dusting off the indignity more than anything else.

He thought himself far enough to be out of reach of Kylo’s powers, he had been wrong, Kylo was stronger than he had thought. He had to adjust his plan and hoped that all the other pieces were set in place.

 

***

 

“Conference call all the First Order Generals”, Kylo commanded one of the lieutenants in the command center.

It was time for him to get rid of Hux.

 

***

 

Rey spent part of the day working on the lightsaber, after lunch they received a subspace transmission from Poe. It was a short one, it said: We had a tail we needed to shake, will be back in about in 24 hours.  

“They’re okay!”, Finn exclaimed lifting Rose up in the air and spinning her around twice before planting a kiss on her lips. Leia exhaled a big breath, like she’d been holding it in for a few days.

All the rebels cheered in one way or another.  Rey felt like a huge weight was lifted off of her.

Before dinner time, Rey managed to gather all the lightsaber parts that were missing. Even with the Falcon gone, the first large room in the caves was filled with all sorts of military paraphilia. It had taken her a while, but she managed to get her parts and keep all the vital apparatus still functioning afterwards.

At dinner the mood was considerably cheerer. They were still a little worried about their friends, they would be until they got back, but at least they knew that they were okay. Rey, Rose, Finn and Connix spent a couple of hours together after dinner, it was becoming a sort of tradition. They were playing a game with slim, bone-like tablets that only Rose knew how to actually play, still it was fun.

When the temple suddenly shifted into the inside of the Falcon she knew she had fallen asleep. She was alone, the pieces of the lightsaber still arranged neatly on the table. She took a seat and waited, absentmindedly playing with one of the crystals.

She felt a hand on her shoulder and the corners of her lips twitched upwards. Kylo took a seat in front of her, then scooted over until their arms were almost touching.

“For this part its best if we’re both on the same side.”

She gave him an almost accusatory look. He decided to act like he didn’t notice it.

“First step is you have to feel the crystal, and not with your hands, but with the Force, you have to know every curve, every imperfection. Reach out and feel it. I’ll do the same.”

Rey lifted one half of the crystal with her mind, then closed her eyes and saw it, really saw the crystal for the first time. She twisted it around, memorizing every ridge in it, every tiny nook and cranny.

When she opened her eyes she felt confident that she understood everything about the crystal.

“Now this one.” Kylo handed her the other half.

She lifted it out of his hand using the Force, then closed her eyes again. This one was more ragged, chipped. She looked inside of it.

“This one is cracked. Can we still use it? Will it blow up in my hands?”

Kylo grabbed his lightsaber and turned it on. The air cracked in a red hue around it.

“My crystal is cracked, it will just look something like this.” he added moving it around.

“Another thing we’ll have in common then.” Rey said matter-of-factly.

Kylo smiled inward. The thought pleased him.

“Now the hard part.” Kylo  informed. “I’ll start. Watch, but more importantly, feel !”

He closed his eyes and half of the lightsaber pieces were floating in mid air, he made small movements with his long fingers. The pieces started to arrange themselves in order, the crystal glowed slightly in the middle. "Fell the crystal, feel that is aligned properly." He spoke as the light saber parts moved around. With a swift move of his fingers all the pieces assembled into a solid shape. Kylo opened his eyes, pressed the switch and turned it on.

“It didn’t blow up!”, Rey exclaimed, smiling.

Kylo took the lightsaber apart again using the Force.

“Your turn.” he waved at the floating pieces.

Rey closed her eyes and assembled the pieces just as she saw Kylo do it, as she felt him do it.

She opened her eyes, grabbed the lightsaber, took a small breath then pressed the switch, a shade of bright blue was cast on the Falcon.

Kylo smiled at her, proudly.

For the second half he repeated the process, when it was ready he threw the lightsaber at Rey.

She grabbed it with one hand and looked for the switch.

“Where is the switch?”, Rey asked.

Kylo gave her a smirk.

“Extend your hand forward.”

She extended her hand, and a crackle of blue came to life from one end of the staff, it danced in different hues of blue.

Rey’s eyes widened.

“How did you do that?”

“We’re Force users, we don’t need an on or off button. I turned it on using the Force. You have two separate lightsabers there, they can work individually or together. When you wake up, you’ll just have to weld the two ends together. ”

She smiled at that, she liked the idea.   

“Why did you put a switch on one side then?”, Rey asked.

“… Good question, I’m not exactly sure, it just felt like the thing to do. Do you want to take it out?”

“Oh, no. I like it just the way it is, sneaky.” she winked at him before realizing what she was doing.

 

Rey got up from the table and started waving her new weapons around.

“Use the force to connect them”, Kylo suggested and she did.

She placed both ends together and they stuck there, like they were magnetized.

“Care to spar?"

"I don't think my face can take anymore scars", Kylo answered with a little smile.

Rey’s face lost all traces of joy. ”I wish I could say I'm sorry about that but...."

"But we were enemies, and we acted as such." Kylo finished her sentence.

"Yeah..."

Rey began testing her new weapon, the weight, the length, it fit perfectly in her hands. Even if it did look a little weird, one half the regular smooth side that she was familiar with, the other one ragged, always changing, always crackling, for some reason she felt like it suited her.

Kylo loved looking at her trying out her new lightsaber, dark shadows and blue light playing on her face, on her body, as she moved, focused on the staff. She looked like a goddess, a beautiful, deadly goddess with swift, efficient movements, a goddess that could take life just as easily as she could give it. Looking at her made his heart flutter. He never wanted anything more than he wanted her in that moment.

“Let’s get out of here!”, Rey declared turning off the saber and grabbing his hand. “There’s not enough room to test this out.”

Kylo followed her out of the Falcon. He found himself in a forest clearing on an unfamiliar planet. In the distance, three temples were bathing in moonlight. He paused to take them in, they looked familiar and completely new at the same time. It didn’t escape him that Rey showing him this, their hideout, meant that she trusted him, or at least, trusted him more than before.

Rey ignited the lightsaber using the Force and smiled at Kylo.

“Not the face.” he said as he ignited his with a stomp and a little smirk.

Rey charged at him, and he caught her saber with his, two crackling sabers bathing them in purple light. They were looking into each other’s eyes, like they did on Starkiller, but unlike then, there was only playful competition in their eyes, no hate, no intent to harm. She jumped back and twisted her saber around to the other end right in time to meet his. They spared like that, moving through the clearing, two primary colors chasing each other and meeting in a dance of purple. By the time they reached the temples they were both panting, sweat dripping down their backs.

Rey waited for his attack, but it did not come. He holstered his saber and moved towards her, slowly, steadily, one step at the time, his eyes intently on hers. She pointed the ragged edge of the lightsaber at him, he felt the warmth of it hitting the side of his face, its ozone smell filling his nostrils. He stopped. They stayed like that for a few moments, in silence, their eyes speaking volumes to each other. Volumes about want and need, about longing and craving. She moved the lightsaber away, turning it off. With eyes never leaving hers, he stepped closer. Their hearts pounded in unison, they could both feel the beat in their throats, in their ears, singing songs neither of them had heard before.

"Ben..." she whispered, barely a breath escaping her parted lips. That was all he needed.

He launched at her, lifting her up in an embrace, her lips planted themselves on his, tasting him, devouring him, being devoured by him. She felt like her entire being was melting and he was absorbing her thought plush, parted lips. Or maybe she was giving him a piece of herself willingly, she wasn’t sure.

He lifted her a little higher, and she wrapped her legs around his waist, her hands in his hair, their lips frantically moving, tongues twisting together, fast, hungry, needy.  

He felt his legs starting to shake, his body and mind overwhelmed by new, strange feelings.  He tried to gather his emotions, to center himself, but it was hopeless, all his senses were filled with her. Was there anything else in the world besides her? He thought there was not.

A drop of water hit his forehead, then another and another. With Rey still wrapped around him, he made his way inside one of the temples. By the time they were in, it was pouring outside. He set Rey down and ignited his saber, then threw it in one of the corners, it clicked on the stone floor. The light from it flickered in pale shades of red, the crackling of the saber accompanying the sounds of rain into a strange symphony. He could barely see the writings on the walls in the little light the saber provided, and that was just fine by him. All he cared about was in front of him, rain dripping slowly down her face, red light flickering inside the water drops. He bent down and kissed her again, she tasted like the rain, like ozone, like a thunderstorm.

Rey broke the kiss to look at him. She put her hand on his face, fingers tracing down his scar, the permanent mark she left on him, he shivered under her touch. Her eyes moved from the scar, to his eyes, then his lips, his soft, plump lips. She slowly moved her lips towards his, she could feel his warm breath on her face, she grabbed his lower lip between hers and gently pulled on it. A sigh escaped him. Their lips moved in tandem into a soft, slow, deep kiss, and again she felt like part of her soul was melting into his. Still it was not enough, she wanted to feel more of him, all of him.

Her hands moved to his shoulders where his cape was attached, she took it off with a snap and let it fall to the floor, then lowered her hands to his wide belt and unbuckled it. Her hands were already making their way to the fastenings on his shirt. He gently put his hands on hers and stopped her, his eyes asking her Are you sure?

Rey took off his shirt in response, white, broad shoulders made their way out of the dark fabric, her hands moved lower down his arms until he was shirtless in from of her. She gave him a little smile, remembering the first time she had seen him like that.

He felt her fingers running down his neck, tracing the scar she had given him down to his chest.Then her fingers moved to his other shoulder, to the round lightsaber scar, with the tips of her fingers she traced around the rough, ragged scar. She moved further down his abdomen, hard muscles twitched underneath her touch. She stroke the scar on his side, the one that was bleeding the night she fought him, the night he had killed his father. She realized that that thought no longer changed anything for her. She still wanted him, just as he was.

Rey took a small step backwards, her eyes never leaving his. She removed her own belt, took another step back and the long scarf that hung on her body was gone, another step and she pulled the tunic over her head, her chest bare for him to see.

With one quick hand movement, his cape unfolded itself like a blanket on the ground behind her. She took off the last piece of fabric that was covering her and stood in front of him, completely naked.

His eyes were dark with lust, his jaw set, hands in balls of fists, trying to contain himself, trying not to tremble, urging his heart not to jump out of his chest. Her eyes told him to follow her, to get closer, so he did.

She got down on her knees in front of him and a gulp escaped him, without breaking eye contact her fingers worked on the closure of his pants.  She pulled them down slowly, her fingers pressing into his skin all the way down to his ankles. He gently shook and shivered under her touch. His arousal was evident and she loved the sight of it, of him, bare in front of her. She had seen other naked men before, on Jakku, but none that looked like him and none as naked as he was. He made her heart flutter, and  warmed parts of her in a way that she had never felt before. He was tall, thick and massive, a body chiseled by the gods of war, the thought of that body on top of hers made her warm place slick

With inviting eyes she laid on her back. He was on top of her within a blink of an eye, lips on hers, a hand in her hair, the other one making its way down to her breast, gently massaging it, grabbing her nipples between two fingers, and gently twisting it. A loud sigh escaped her. His mouth traveled down to her neck, breasts and abdomen. She felt soft, full lips kissing their ways down her body, she arched her back when his tongue moved around her nipple,  sucking it gently.

She started to shake underneath him, making him stop “Are you okay, Rey?”

“I’m fine ...,” Rey started, “I just…I’ve never done this…”

He looked at her and gave her a soft kiss on the lips.

“Me neither.”

Her eyes widened, she did not expect that, a part of her wasn’t sure how that was possible, a bigger part of her was even more excited by it.

She kissed him back, harder.

He had never done this before, he had never had the chance, his life moved from home with his parents where he had rare interactions with others his age, to the celibate life as a Padawan, to his horror filled life with Snoke. There was no time for such a thing, other things came into focus, other wants, needs. Now, for the first time, he wished that wasn’t the case.

His mouth moved down her body again, his lips paying close attention to her breasts, to her nipples.  He took cues from the way she moved underneath him, from little twitches, little sounds that escaped her mouth.

His kisses moved lower to her abdomen, then lower still to her thighs, he grabbed one with a hand and kissed down the inside of it, towards the little patch of hair between her legs.  

When Rey felt the tip of his tongue starting to explore her most private of places, her body arched up to greet him, a loud moan escaping her. He moved his tongue up and down the bundle of nerves, then kissed it with full lips and wet tongue. It felt like nothing she’d ever experienced and she wanted more. Without realizing, her hand wrapped around his hair, pulling at it. She felt his tongue parting her lips, delving inside her. His tongue felt almost cool on her hot, tender skin. Her mouth ran dry.

“Ben…” she gasped with ragged voice, “Please!” A primal part of her was taking over, she wanted, needed, something more substantial, she needed to feel him inside her.

He looked at her thought the patch of hair between her legs, his tongue still moving inside her.    

“Ben… Ahhhh” she moaned. “I want you…”  She pulled on his hair, almost dragging him up.

He kissed her and she could taste herself on his lips, in his mouth, it made her want him even more.   

He gently, slowly pushed himself in,  wave of unfamiliar feelings crashed over him.

A little yelp escaped her and he stopped, worry in his eyes.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” she breathed, “just… different.”

He took her hands into his and placed them on his hips.

“You guide me, whenever you’re ready.” he said looking into her eyes.

She was warm and wet and tight around him, and it took all of his strength to just stay there, to give her time to adjust to him.

Rey wasn’t hurting, but there was a new, strange feeling of pressure and maybe a little discomfort. She inhaled and pulled him in deeper, a little sound escaping both of their lips. He started to move insider her a little, in and out, never further in than where she last guided him.

After every inch she pulled him in, he moved like that, and soon the friction gave away to pleasure and she pulled him in deeper and deeper until all of him was settled inside her.

They stayed like that for a moment, bodies united, his eyes looking deep into her soul, asking her if she was okay. She gave him a little nod and smile.

He kissed her again, his hips moving him inside of her, slowly, gently, lovingly. With every stroke she felt more and more pleasure.

He sucked on one of his thumbs then placed it on the little bundle of nerves just above where their bodies connected. That feeling she was familiar with, but it felt different, better, his unfamiliar strokes bringing new waves of pleasure. Soon she found herself grinding on his thumb, on him, harder, faster, instinct taking over.

“Oh gods!”, she yelped, moving her hips in tandem with his, biting hard at the crook of his neck. The feeling of his thrusts inside her, combined with the feeling of his thumb on her overwhelmed her, the tension inside her was building higher and higher and she couldn’t control it, it crashed onto her like a tsunami, drowning her in pleasure, in release.

Rey’s body began to shake underneath him and he let go, he had fought the release for what felt like an eternity, and when it came it was violent, it shook him to the core, every muscle in his body trembled. His head and body filled with an explosion of heat, of sounds and color.

He needed to lay down, so he twisted their bodies around until she laid on top of him, their bodies still united.

His breath was fast, ragged, gulping for air, hers was too.

A soft “Wow” escaped them both at the same time and they chuckled. He planted little kissed on her head, on her face and held her in his arms. He could not remember a moment in his life where he had been happier.

The world still turned, the rain still poured outside, the lightsaber still crackled and shone pale red light inside the temple, but somehow, everything was different.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Rey woke up to the feeling of her heart trying to break out of her chest, almost like she felt all of last nights' emotions at once, in that moment. She tried to calm her racing heart, tried to focus on the here and now, but it was no good, her mind was still filled with last night. Scenes of it played like a movie in her head, she could still feel the ghost of his touches, of his kisses on her body, a low guttural sound escaped her lips. She stayed there, in bed, soaking it all in, drinking in the memory of last night.

Golden sunbeams were refracting inside the temple by the time her mind and body settled. She finally got up, there was a lot to be done today.

Quietly, in her mind and in her soul, something she had never had before was blossoming, something she had been looking for her entire life, a sense of belonging. She did not know when the seed was planted, nor did she notice it grow, but now that it was blossoming. Its little purple petals were starting to demand attention.

 

 

***

 

 

“You wouldn’t happen to have something I could use to weld my lightsaber together, would you?” Rey asked Rose without an introduction.

“Well that’s one sentence I’d never thought I’d hear.” Rose said with a smile as she turned around to face Rey. “But it’s your lucky day, I actually do have something. Follow me!”

Rose moved past Rey towards one of the small chambers. She dug through semi organized parts and apparatus until she pulled a cylinder looking object out of the pile with an “Aha!”

“It’s a Fajh plasma torch, it will weld every metal in the galaxy.” she said as she handed it to Rey.

“You’re the best, Rose!” Rey smiled at her.

“Anytime!” Rose said as Rey was starting to make her way out, but before she could leave Rose grabbed her hand. “You seem… a little happier than before.” Rose smiled up at her. “I know it's probably because our friends are safe and on their way back, and because you’re finally fixing your lightsaber but… I’m glad you’re happy. I was a little worried about you, and Finn probably more so.”

Rey nodded at her, unsure what to say.

“You like to keep to yourself, which is fine, if that’s what you feel that you need. I just want you to know that we’re here for you. If you need us, when you need us.”

“I know.” Rey said as she leaned in to hug her friend. “Thank you.” she said in her ear.

Part of her wanted to tell Rose what was going on with her, to let someone else in, have someone to talk to about this, but she knew that her friend wouldn’t understand, and she would definitely not approve.

Rey was surrounded by people who have lost everything because of the First Order, their homes, friends, family, even their planets.  They would not understand, how could they? There was no one in the Galaxy that could understand what she felt.

“I love you guys.” Rey said and she meant it. She felt torn between her friends and her... What was he to her? She wasn’t sure, but he was something . Definitely something!

 

 

***

  

Hux got ready for the day in his spartan chamber, same as he always did. He combed his red hair in front of the bathroom mirror, working on perfectly parting it. His face was even harsher than usual, anger danced in his eyes. The plan he had been working on, the one to take down Kylo Ren was not working. He did not manage to sway as many Generals as he had hoped. Most of them were too scared of Kylo Ren to act against him, even after telling them that Ren was to blame for their true leader's death. He clenched his hand around the comb until it broke, it's teeth flying off, ricocheting off the sink. He did not have enough fire power to take down Ren.

A ragged, angry, desperate scream escaped him right before he punched the mirror, followed by another, longer, guttural scream, the scream of a desperate, caged animal. He clenched him hands around the sink, knuckles bleeding. His head was down, taking in big breaths, trying to compose himself. When he looked up, he saw his reflection fragmented in the broken mirror. He had failed, Ren had won.

His father had been right, he was weak and useless. He had told him so, often throughout his childhood, often enough for it to be permanently ingrained in his memory. His father, Brendol Hux, had tried to remove weakness and uselessness from his illegitimate child, usually with his hands, his fists or whatever object was in his proximity at the time. It had worked, every weakness had been beaten out of him. He had no attachments to anyone or anything, he cared for nothing but the First Order. His thoughts and wishes always turned towards ruling the galaxy as its Supreme Leader. It was the only thing that gave him any resemblance of joy.

He washed the blood off his knuckles, his thoughts still with his father. He had no feelings left for him, at one point, he remembered how much he had wanted his love and affection. A look of disgust moved across his face. Most of his life Hux hated the man, he loathed him and at the same time feared him. Now he felt nothing for him, he had felt nothing for Brendol Hux since the day he had Phasma kill him. A little smile took shape on his face at that memory.

He grabbed another comb and parted his hair again, then waxed it to its perfect stiffness, his mind still furiously searching for a way out of the cage he felt trapped in. He was almost to the door, ready to face the day, when he remembered a conversation he had eavesdropped on between Smoke and Ren. “You have compassion for her” Snoke had said to Ren. His mind began to work, memories brought back into focus.

Could it be?” he asked himself.  

 

 

***

 

 

Several hours later, Rey was proudly training with her newly finished lightsaber in the clearing outside the temples, the assembly went as smooth as it did with… Kylo, or was it Ben? She wasn’t sure, and that was not because she still harbored hopes of Ben Solo the Jedi, she knew that man was gone, but he also didn’t feel like Kylo Ren either, he wasn’t dark to her anymore. He felt like something in between, something in the middle, something… grey. She decided to call him Ben from now on, she liked that name better than Kylo.

The lightsaber staff felt and looked the same as it did in her dream, it even crackled and rippled in the same shades of blue as last night. It still surprised her a little how her dreams, their dreams, and reality were so strongly connected.

She wished he was here, crazy as that sounded, she wanted to spar again, to test her weapon again and he was the only person in the entire galaxy, she knew of, that used a lightsaber. She stopped herself for a moment, realizing, maybe for the first time, that she could no longer imagine herself raising her lightsaber against him. Not to harm him, and definitely not to kill him.

Intrusive thoughts were knocking at her mind’s gate, mocking her. “Call him Ben from now on. Wishing he was here. Can’t imagine hurting him ? Where do you think this is going? Where can it lead? Spending your days with the Resistance and your nights in bed with the enemy. You’re a traitor, a traitor to them both.”

“ARGH!” she screamed out, attacking a nearby tree with the lightsaber. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” she screamed with every blow. The more blows she delivered the better she felt, the quieter her thoughts got. They disappeared completely with a loud crack as the large tree fell.  

That was amazing!” Finn exclaimed with a clap, behind her.  “I’ve never seen you like that, you’re killer, Rey! Oh, you’re gonna kick some Kylo Ren ass with that!” he said with a huge smile on his face, his hand up for a high-five.

Rey was taken aback by his presence, but quickly recovered. She gave him a crooked, awkward smile and a half limp hand. He didn’t seem to notice.

“That lightsaber-quarterstaff thing is awesome!” he added with admiration.

“Lightstaff!” Rey said. “I’m gonna call it a lightstaff now.”

“Can I?” Finn asked extending his hand.

Rey placed it in his hand.

“This is so cool!” he twisted it around a couple of times then positioned himself in several fighting stances. “Why is half of it so different?”

“The crystal, half of it was cracked.”

“I gotta say, it’s kinda cool like that.” Finn smiled and Rey agreed.

When Finn pressed the button to turn it off Rey turned off the other half using the Force.

“I’m a little excited to see you in action with this baby.” Finn said, a huge grin adorning his face.

She smiled back at him.

 

 

***

 

 

Kylo felt… different. He didn’t know why or how, but for the first time in a long time, he felt different . It wasn’t just the happiness last night's memories brought him, although those pulled at his heart strings and made his insides twist in sweet agony, it was something, bigger, something deeper inside of him.

He started to meditate, to search deep inside of him, of his soul. It was dark and cold, and deafeningly silent, like a tomb. He didn’t want to be there, but still he dug deeper. A noise caught his attention, like a drop of water on a metal surface, he followed the sound. In a waste of darkness lay a pool of grey. Radiant white light dripped in the pool, one by one, in a slow, lazy manner. He looked up for the source of the light, all he could see was his darkness and somewhere up in the distance, almost unnoticeable, was a flicker of light. He flew to it with his mind’s eyes. 

He was at the same time shocked and not at all to see Rey there, or something that looked like her, a blindingly bright light shaped like Rey, her figure small in the vastness of his darkness. She was bathed in the light, she was the light. Shards of light melted from her body and turned themselves into white drops, with every drop of radiant pure white, his black was being muddied into grey in the pool below them.

“What are you doing here, Rey?”, he found himself asking.

Without moving her lips she spoke in his mind. “I am not her, I have always been here. I was born with you, inside of you. I am your light.”  She stretched a hand out to him, he took it.

“My kingdom was vast and I the ruler of your being. Do you remember, Ben? Do you remember me from before the darkness came for us?”

His face twisted into a mask of pain, his lips shut tight. He remembered.

This light with the face of Rey smiled at him, like an old friend, like a mother would.

“The darkness chased me away, took away my crown and shattered it, killed me thousands of times in a thousand painful ways, and yet, I am still here, a trace of what I once were, but still here. I am but a flicker in the dark depths of your soul, but growing, oh how I am growing.”

“Why do you look like her?” he asked, tremor in his voice.

“You know why.” Her voice rang like a melody in his mind, like a half forgotten lullaby. “ I have looked like everything good in your life.” The light flickered and the being with the face of Rey now wore the face of his father. The face Han Solo wore when his son thought the galaxy of him.

A sob escaped Ben’s lips. The light flickered again and Han’s face turned into Leia’s, a young woman with long loose hair flowing down her back. It was the face Ben remembered the most when he thought of his mother, the face of the woman that kissed him goodnight, the one that held him when he was awoken by nightmares, the face of love.

Her light was dancing in his watered eyes and tears feel down his face, his body almost convulsing with sobs.

The being put her radiant hand to his face and whipped away his tears, pure love in its eyes. The hand felt warm, it warmed his entire body, protecting it from the cold of his darkness. The warmth felt like something he desperately needed, like an intrinsic part of his being, a building block in his DNA, that somehow he had forgotten he once had.

She smiled at him again. “I may be small and weak, I may not ever rule as I once did, but my dear Ben, I will slowly, surely, muddy your black into a thousands shades of grey.”  

He jumped awake from his meditation, his heart was racing, tears still ran down his face. There was still light inside him, small and weak but growing, and it bared the face of Rey, of his mother, of his father. He knew then that he could not extinguish it, he knew he did not want to extinguish it.

 

 

***

 

 

Rey focused all her strength into lifting the rocks and debris in front of the largest of the temples. They did not budge. She tried again, putting two hands in front of her, making the motion of lifting them with her hands and her mind. Nothing moved.

She was a little scared. Had she been cut off from the Force, had she lost her powers? She tried to lift a pile of rocks from one of the other temples, they moved like they were cotton balls. She concentrated on the ones in front of the large temple again, trying her best to clear her mind to empty it, to focus on nothing else but the Force. She tried again, still nothing.

Confusion and unanswered questions danced in her mind. How was it even possible? Did the Force not work around the large temple? Was something in the temple stopping her powers? It made no sense. Frustrated, she went even closer and tried again, nothing. With an “argh” she tried to lift the rocks physically, with her bare hands. That, definitely did not work.

Eventually she gave up, maybe she would have answers when C3PO got back with the translation, maybe.

 

 

***

 

 

The command center entrance was flanked on either side by two Stormtroopers, they gave Hux a salute as he walked in.

Hux took a deep breath, it was now or never. In order for his new plan to work a couple of things had to fit right into place, it was a long shot, he knew it, but it was his only shot. He had to take it.

He straightened his back again, and cleared his throat, then pressed several buttons on the HoloNet, one by one three figures appeared.

“You have been chosen because you are the most loyal and trustworthy Generals of the First Order.” He began in his best imposing voice. “It is with you that the golden age of the First Order begins, with your help we will take down the impostor, Kylo Ren!”

He looked over to his left “Especially you General Ishayah, because of your presence on Kylo Ren’s convoy of ships, your role is crucial. My ship and the other two generals will face Kylo’s forces from the front, while you, General Ishayah, will deal the blow from the back. We will rid ourselves of him once and for all.” The Generals saluted Hux in agreement.

“I will send you the detailed plans via the comlink. Generals!” he said as he severed the connection. The wheels were set into motion.

 

 

“General!” One of his lieutenants was asking for Hux's attention. “We have received fresh intel from the bounty hunters and one of our spies.”

“Go on” Hux spoke.

When the lieutenant finished the briefing, Hux was smiling, one of the key pieces just fell into place.

 

 

***

 

 

As soon as she saw the Millennium Falcon, Rey ran for it, reaching it as the cargo doors opened and Chewy came out. She jumped at him and wrapped him in a big hug.

“I was so worried!”, Rey whispered.

Chewy growled reassurances in her ear.

“I’m so happy you’re ok.” Rey said as she let go of him.

The rest of the rebels made their way out of the other two ships and were received with warm welcomes from their friends. Poe gave her a sharp nod when their eyes met.

They all made their way towards the caves as a chatty, happy group. 

When they were all sitting around the table Finn asked “What happened?”

“Someone tailed us from Ikura, luckily we caught sight of it in time. Sorry it took us so long, but we had to take our tail on a merry chase across the galaxy, make sure we ditched it.”, Poe answered.

“Who was it? The First Order?”, Finn asked.

“I’m sure they were working for the First Order but I think they were bounty hunters.”

“Was the trip worth it? Did you reach the other rebels, what about the guns for hire?”, Finn asked excitedly.

Poe gave him a sharp look that made Finn do a double take.

“We’re gonna talk all about that, but first there’s another matter I’d like to discuss with a few of you.” Poe declared.

Ten minutes later, Poe, Finn, Rose, Leia and Rey were gathered in a semicircle in the last temple. The same temple where Rey had spent last night’s dream in, the same one in which she willingly gave herself to Ben, and he to her.

Poe didn’t particularly want Rose around for this. He wanted to keep this discussion between as few people as possible, and he didn’t want Leia either because of who this was about, but last time he did something behind Leia’s back she shot him with a stun gun and he had learned his lesson.

"While at the trading post I met up with an old friend, a trusted old friend.”, Poe started. “He told me something very interesting.”, he looked Rey in the eyes. “It seems the First Order is claiming that you were the one that killed Snoke.”

Everyone looked at Rey, puzzled.  

“But that’s just First Order propaganda, right?”, Poe continued. “You were on Luke’s planet, not on Snoke’s ship, and when you showed up on Crait, in the nick of time, it was just a perfectly timed coincidence…”

Rey said nothing.

“Hey,” Finn stepped in, “what are you trying to say here?”

Poe continued, not paying attention to Finn.  

“Why would the First Order think you killed Snoke? You were nowhere near his ship while we were being swatted like flies out of the sky, right?”

“I was there.”, Rey finally spoke up.

“Did you kill him?” Poe asked, unfazed by her answer.

“I did not.”

“That’s right, because you couldn’t have, you couldn’t take down Snoke and all his guards at the same time. Who killed him?”

“Kylo Ren did,” she spoke, slowly, emotionless, “and we took care of the Pretorian Guard together.” The temple suddenly got even quieter.  

Together!”, Poe exclaimed. “You and the man that tried to exterminate us on Crait fought together?”

“I thought I could bring him to the light…” Rey answered, her face solemn, eyes on the ground. “I thought I could turn him, I was wrong… so I left for Crait.” she added in a low voice.

“Why would you think you could turn him? He's a monster.” Poe shouted the last word. “How did you get out of there, Rey? Did Kylo Ren just let you leave? Why didn’t you tell us any of this? What else are you hiding from us?”

“I did nothing wrong…. I’m not hiding… It’s… complicated.” Rey babbled. She really didn’t want to explain herself to them, and she knew that even if she tried, she couldn’t.

“He is our enemy.” Poe stated face blank. “He’s the one we’ve been fighting all this time, and yet you fought with him and he let you leave, and you didn’t tell us about any of this. Do you see how that might raise some questions?”

Poe started pacing around the temple. “Can we trust you, Rey? Can we trust that you’re on our side?”

“Of course!” Rey answered back in an instant. “I would never do anything to hurt you guys or the Resistance.”

He rubbed a hand over his face, mincing at her words. “Would you kill him, if you had the chance, would you kill Kylo Ren and end this war?”

Rey’s eyes shot up at Poe, the question felt like an arrow piercing her flesh. “No.” she said in a small but determined voice.

A mocking chuckle escaped Poe.

“Rey…" Finn was in the middle of taking a step towards Rey when Rose pulled him back and quieted him with a touch.

“Okay.” Poe gathered his thoughts, still pacing. “If the Resistance had the chance to kill him, would you try to stop us, to save him?”

“I would.”

“Why?” Poe screamed loudly at her. “I don’t understand Rey, I really don’t! Why would you do this? He took you prisoner, he almost killed Finn, he tortured me, he killed Han and Luke, he shot up Leia’s ship, our ship. Why would you choose…” He stopped himself.  “You know what, I don’t care, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can’t be trusted.”

“I would never do anything to hurt the Rebellion!” Rey argued again.

“Letting him live is hurting the Rebellion.” Poe snapped back. He took a deep breath and exhaled through his nostrils, audibly. “Look, as far as I’m concerned you’re a liability, maybe even an enemy.” He looked at her and shook his head. He left the temple, kicking at rubble.

“Rey,” Finn started up again, “that can’t be true, right? None of that was true, it makes no sense. I know you! You wouldn’t do something like that, right?”

She didn’t answer.

“Rey!” Finn pleaded.

“Let’s go, Finn.” Rose said pulling gently on his arm. “This isn’t the best time.”

Silence fell in the temple, Rey’s eyes were beginning to water, poignantly looking at the floor, the same floor Ben laid his cape on last night, the same one where they had made their love. She felt torn, a part of herself wanted to tear away from her and follow her friends, follow the Resistance, the other planted itself firmly on the ground, she could not be responsible for Ben’s demise. Just the thought of it turned her stomach and tugged at her heart. She no longer wanted a world he was not a part of.

“Rey!”, Leia broke the silence and it shook Rey, she hadn’t noticed she was still there, she barely noticed her at all, she had remained so quiet and emotionless during all of this. “How did you build the lightsaber?” Leia added.

“I don’t understand...”

“I know that building a lightsaber is very hard, so hard that it used to be a test for Padawans. You have no training, you spent three days with Luke, I doubt he used that time to teach you about building lightsabers, so how did you build it?”

“I just….” Rey started.

“Now, before you finish that sentence, let me tell you a little story.” she said with a little smile. “When Ben was a young boy he used to love taking things apart and build them back together. At first I thought I’d find random, broken parts everywhere, but I didn’t. You see, he was a very organized little boy, he used to arrange all the parts meticulously into little categorized piles, every piece had its own special place.” Leia made movements with her hands while she spoke, mimicking her son. “Every time he took something apart he did that, every time, without fail.” She caught Rey’s eyes and continued. “While you were working on your lightsaber, I noticed how you arranged its parts, exactly how he used to, so much so that it took me back to that time. Now that I’ve told you all that, I will ask you again. How did you built the lightsaber, Rey?”

Rey gulped. “It’s a long story…”

“I have time.”

Rey started telling her everything. From the first Force bond on Luke’s Island to the throne room, from their dreams connecting them and all the memories they shared together in the past, to the temples and finally how he helped her build the lightsaber. When Rey told her about that night when Ben was nine years old, Leia had to lean a hand on the wall for support. She debated telling her about the night that Ben turned. Should she, did she have the right to tell her the truth, to stain the memory of Luke?

Luke was gone, but her son was still alive, so she told her about the night Luke failed his apprentice, his nephew.

“Luke saw the darkness in him, what Snoke had put inside him, and in a moment of weakness he raised his lightsaber against Ben. He changed his mind in seconds, but it was too late, Ben was awake and saw everything. That is when he turned.”, Rey finished.

Leia broke down, crying. Rey wrapped her in a hug.

“My baby… I have failed him.” Leia gave out a big sigh thought quiet sobs. “My family has failed him.”

“Maybe you have…”  Rey said. “Maybe…”she thought for a second, “Maybe it was a combination of factors. But you are not responsible for his actions.”

“I know,” Leia said, “but after everything he has done, he is still my son, he will always be my son . Even if he’s no longer the boy I raised, I still can’t help but love him. Part of me will always love him.”

Rey understood, she really did.

Leia looked her in the eye. “I see no reason why he would do any of the things you mentioned, if he did not care for you, if he did not love you. I must ask, do you love him?”

Rey’s gut reaction was to say no, to slither out of Leia’s arms and run. Something painful was twisting in her stomach just thinking of her question. She wanted to run away from it, from the thought of it, mostly to run away from what her answer meant. But she stopped herself, she had spent too much time denying she felt anything for him, she knew she did. From the first time they touched hands she felt something . A something that was undefined, a something that morphed with their every interaction. She felt it’s purple petals blossoming in her, touching her soul like flowers in a much too small glass vase. The realization of it hit her with the power of a hundred lightsabers, knocking the breath out of her.

“I… do.”, Rey said,  just a breath escaping her.

“Does he know?”

“He knows… something.” Rey answered.

Leia placed the palm of her hand on Rey’s face, she gently caressed it while looking into her eyes, a motherly touch. Rey saw in Leia’s eyes all that she did not know how to say. The lingering hope, the caution, the worries for both her son and Rey. Leia gave her a little nod and a smile. It seemed to Rey that she decided that they’ll be okay.

“Let’s get back to the group. I’ll talk to Poe, he is still such a hot head.”, Leia shook her head, disapprovingly.

“Actually, I have to go talk to C-3PO, he was going to translate something for me.”

 

 

***

 

 

“I don’t understand”, Finn spoke, moving around their tiny chamber. “Why would she do this for Kylo Ren, he’s a monster.”

Rose grabbed his hand and held it in hers, then looked up at him. “When is a monster not a monster?”

He frowned at her.

“When you love it.”

Finn’s eyes widened, his mouth opened as to say something, then closed back again.

“That makes it even worse.” he managed to add, eventually.

“It makes no sense, I was with her on Starkiller, I know she hated him. How can you go from that to, to…”, Finn babbled, refusing to say the word, “…to this.”

“I don’t think we know the whole story…”

“What if we lose her to the dark side?”, Finn interrupted.

“We won’t.”

“How do you know?”

“How do I know everything else, silly? I just do!”, she winked at him and gave him a little smile.  

“I can’t believe you’re okay with this.”, Finn said as he took a seat besides her.

“I’m not, I still worry, but she is not a child, she is a strong Jedi. She can take care of herself, it’s not for us to decide anything for her, and if she does need our help I think she will ask for it, or at least, I hope she will.”

“I’m gonna kill him if I ever see him again.” Finn declared.

“No, you won’t!”

“I’m definitely going to punch him, then.”

“That, you probably will.”

Chapter Text

 

“C-3PO.”, Rey said as soon as she laid eyes on the droid.

“Miss Rey!” 3PO exclaimed. “I was looking for you, I have managed to translate the book. It’s quite interesting. It tells of a great schism that happened many millennia ago. Here! I have transferred the translation to this.” 3PO handed her a datapad. “I hope it is of use.”

“Thank you 3PO, I really appreciate this.” Rey said and made her way out, her eyes already on the datapad.

If 3PO had cheeks they would be smiling. “See R2, this is what I mean when I say you would should treat me with some respect.”

“Weeoop DepaEeya.” R2 replied affronted.

“How rude!” 3PO hit the other droid’s metal head.

 

***

 

Rey went into the makeshift pantry and grabbed some rations. She did not feel like eating with the rest of the group and didn’t think she would be welcomed anyway. She settled into her sleeping bag and started reading while munching on dried, spiced meat.

The Jedi book started with the present, or more accurately, with the present at the time it was written, millennia ago, then went back in time. It told Jedi stories as well as Sith ones, names long forgotten, leaders on both sides and their accomplishments.  Halfway through, it told the story of the Great Schism, and how the Jedi and the Sith broke off from the same faith, the Faith of the Force.

Rey had to stop and reread that part, she could not believe it. There must be some sort of mistake, the Jedi and the Sith were too different, like a smooth pond and a raging river, they could not possibly come from the same spring.

The book spoke at length of the civil war between two divergent groups of the Faith, groups that sought to shape the Faith into their own image of it, to corrupt it. When the war accomplished nothing but death, when they realized that their differences were too vast and neither would be able to change the others views, they broke apart into two new, very distinct faiths: the Jedi and the Sith. The book did not give details about the Faith of the Force doctrine, nothing besides the usual, the light, the dark, the balance in between , nor did it mention anything that could help her open the large temple. 

She wondered again why she had no power around that temple. Maybe Ben could open it, and if he couldn’t maybe they could do it together. Together , there it was again, that word, the word that triggered Poe’s anger and mistrust. Her mind played the conversation they had in the same temple hours ago. It made her feel angry, and disappointed and… stuck.

Stuck in the middle of a crumbling bridge over raging waters. On one side the Resistance, on the other Ben, both beckoning her to them, her unable to move, to turn and run to one or the other. She was holding on to frayed rope, the aged wood of the bridge turning to sawdust under her feet.

 

***

 

 

Kylo set up a meeting with the superior officers of his personal fleet to plan Hux’s demise. They were all gathered in a semi circle in the command center on his ship.

“What news do we have of Hux?”, he asked them.

“We have received reports that he is still in the Mid Rim, he’s ….”, one of the Lieutenants continued but Kylo stopped listening, there was something, something like a voice barely coming over static noise, it buzzed in his head unintelligibly. He focused on it, turned his ear to it, it was becoming clearer and clearer.

Kylo looked at General Ishayah, his eyes narrowed at him. “Leave us!”, he said to the rest of the room.

“Is there something you want to tell me, General Ishayah?”, Kylo asked when the room was clear.

“No, Supreme Leader.”, The man was trying to stay calm, collected. “There is nothi… Argh.”, the general croaked as he felt his entire body stiffen.

Kylo put his hand out and focused on the general’s mind, it was concealed from him, wrapped in a protective membrane. Unceremoniously and with little effort, Kylo tore through it, underneath the membrane, his mind was bare and bloody for him to see. A squeal, like that of a dying pig, came out of the general’s mouth.

“You’ve been plotting against me.”, Kylo spoke, anger and a hint of surprise in his voice.

General Ishayah felt his body move towards Kylo Ren until the Supreme Leader’s fingers were wrapped tightly around his throat, digging in.

“You and Hux…” Kylo started, he moved his head as he spoke listening for strands of conversation, of information. He dug deeper into the general’s mind, and the man screamed in pain. “The… four of you are trying to overthrow me.”, he snarled at him.

A ragged, barely there “Please” managed to escape Ishayah’s mouth, his eyes wide and filled with horror.

“I am to be ambushed by your forces, tomorrow, in …”, Kylo spoke, undisturbed by the man’s plea, then focused on the last bit of information in his head, the coordinates for his ambush. He had all he needed.  

“Thank you!”, Kylo said, then broke the general’s neck with his bare hands. He dropped his limp body to the floor.

He checked the time, there were many plans to be made, and not enough time. He would have to cut his nightly visit with Rey short. That made him ever angrier.

Kylo spent the rest of his evening interacting with the generals through the HaloNet, trying to dig into their heads from a distance. It was hard work, the further they were from him the more strenuous it was, he could not search most of their minds from this distance, but he managed to get a feeling for their intentions. He only sensed betrayal in two of them, the ones he already knew about from Ishayah’s mind. His head was throbbing in pain from the effort.

He tried calling Hux, he was not surprised to find out he was unreachable. He gritted his teeth and called back the First Order superiors that he felt were loyal to him. Hux was in for a surprise.

 

***

 

“We have received word from our other rebel friends.”, Poe addressed the group.

They were all gathered around the communal dining table, all but Rey. Finn was the first to notice her absence, but he did not comment on it, not in front of everyone.

“They set up a base, a meeting point”, Poe continued, “on a planet called Pashka, in the uncharted Wild Space. I have the coordinates, we will leave for it tomorrow.”, Poe paused to gage his friends reaction to the news, a low murmur spread through the chamber.

“How many rebels are left?”, someone asked.

“Enough for it to matter, plus they have fire power and ships, and we have the credits to acquire more.” The murmur continued, this time in more agreeable tones.

“It’s settled then, tomorrow we leave.”, Poe finished and got up from the table. There would be no elaborate speech, no call to arms, they all knew what had to be done, they did not need a pep talk.

Leia got up from her seat right after Poe and followed him out.

“Poe.” she called after him, she was moving towards him slowly, with the aid of her cane. He turned around to face her and waited until she reached him.

“What about Rey?” she asked him. Their earlier talk, the one they had after Poe branded Rey as a liability did not work out as Leia had hoped. Poe was adamant he could no longer trust her.

“She’s not coming with us,” Poe answered, “I can’t take that risk, Pashka is the last Rebel base in the entire galaxy, the last hope we have to stop the First Order, I can’t risk that!”

Leia sighed. “The girl did nothing wrong, and she could be of great help to…”

“She could, yes. If we could trust her.” Poe interrupted her, anger rising in him. “But we can’t, so she stays!” He was angry with Rey, she was the perfect weapon, the edge that they needed to fight the First Order and win, to win this war once and for all, yet what good was a beautiful, deadly weapon, if there was a chance it could backfire?

“Poe, you can’t abandon her on a strange planet!” Leia said, disappointment in her voice. “You know her story, do you realize what this would do to her? Being abandoned again, by the people she loves?”

“I’m sorry for her, and what’s she’s been through, I am, really, but taking down the First Order is more important, more important than her, then me, then all of us put together. I can’t risk that.” He ran his hands through his hair. “Look, I wasn’t going to strand her here, she can have one of the cargo ships, we need the Falcon’s fire power.”

“Isn’t that Chewie’s choice?” Leia asked.

Poe put his hands on his hips. “You could sway him.”

“I could.” Leia said looking him in the eyes. She took a deep breath.

“Poe, I have known you for many years, your mother had been my trusted friend, I have seen you grow up, I care for you like a son. You are the sort of man I wished my son would turn into.” She shook her head. “But not right now.” Her face was sad, eyes dark. “We can’t leave the girl alone! I can’t do that to her. If she stays, I stay.” Leia said, determined.

“Leia, the Resistance needs you!”

“The Resistance needs Rey too.”

Poe rubbed his hands over his face, and started pacing in front of her, having a one sided conversation in his head. “You have been grooming me to take your place in the Resistance for years, trust that I know what I’m talking about, trust that this is our best option.” Poe looked at her hoping for a sign, there was no emotion on her face.

“I’m sorry Leia, it’s our last chance. I just can’t risk it.”

 

***

 

Hux was feeling a lot more confident after the briefing from his lieutenant.

“Captain A-1084.” he said as a stormtrooper entered the room. Most stormtroopers did not have names, they had numbers.

Phasma had been different, she was… Phasma, that was the best way he could describe her. She had been singular and if he were honest, if he let himself feel, he would realize he missed her, but he didn’t, he stopped any trace of emotion before it even broke the surface. There would be no Phasmas under his rule, they would all be just numbers, as it was meant to be. They were not people, they were cannon fodder.

“I have a mission for you.” he continued, a grin on his face. “One of our spies has found the location of the last rebel base, on a planet in the Wild Space. Our rebel friends…”, he said the last word with a snarl, “should be there shortly, ripe for the picking.” He started moving around his command center, hands locked behind his straight back.

“I think you will be happy to know that amongst them, you will find the traitor, FN- 2187.”

The stormtrooper moved a little at the sound of that.

Hux smiled. “It will be a perfect opportunity to make an example of him.”

“Yes, Sir!”, a woman’s voice came out of the helmet.

“Do as you please with FN-2187. Leave no survivors, none expect the girl Rey, if she is with them. Do you understand?”

“Cristal, Sir!”

“All the mission details will be transferred to your data pad. Dismissed!”

The stormtrooper saluted the general, then left.

Hux looked out the window, little white lights flickered on the black of the Universe. He took a deep breath. He had laid all his plans, tomorrow he would find out just how well.

 

***

 

Leia took a deep breath before she went inside one of the temples, an orange light from a lamp cast shadows over the wall carvings, over Rey’s body hunched down on the datapad.

“What have you found out?” Leia asked the girl.

She looked up, a little startled.

“From the translation.” Leia added.

“Something I find hard to believe!” Rey answered, her eyes on the data pad. “That the Jedi and the Sith came from the same religion, the Faith of the Force.” Her face showed excitement, excitement that quickly died once she took a good look at Leia’s face.

“What’s wrong?”, Rey asked, already getting up.

“Poe.” Leia moved towards her and grabbed her hands in hers.

“They’re leaving tomorrow for a rebel base…” her thumbs were caressing the younger woman’s knuckles, “and Poe thinks it would be best if you didn’t go with them.”

Rey blinked in surprise, she took a half step backwards. “You’re…. you’re leaving me? You’re lea-leaving me here…. alone?”, Rey stuttered, her bottom lip quivering. All of a sudden she was a child again, being left on a desert planet, hot tears stung her eyes, her heart pounding on her ribcage.

“No, no.” Leia wrapped her arms around her. “I’ll be here with you, I’m not going anywhere.”

Rey wanted to escape Leia’s embrace but the general just held her tighter. “We’ll have one of the cargo ships here, we can wait for their return or we can just take the ship and we can go anywhere you want, Rey.”

“As long as it’s not with the Resistance.”, Rey countered. Her pain was quickly turning into anger.

“I’m so sorry, I tried to…”

Rey broke free of the embrace. Her chin shaking, her eyes watered.

“Leave.”, Rey said, her voice harsher that she wanted it. “Please, just go.”

Leia nodded and obliged, even if her heart broke for the girl.

Rey waited until she sensed Leia reach the underground, then let out a scream, a scream of anger, of powerlessness. She was the last Jedi left in the galaxy, one of the two most powerful Force users in it, and yet she felt like a child abandoned on a desert planet, not just abandoned but sold, used and discarded when no longer needed, when no longer wanted. She let out another scream as hot tears fell down her face.

She was angry with herself for letting herself get in this situation, again. She had kept herself guarded all these years, made no attachments just so she wouldn’t be in this position ever again. She had failed herself and she was paying the price.

Rey was angry with her friends for not believing in her, not believing she would never betray them, like they betrayed her now. She was angry with Ben, for being who he was, for her having to choose between him and her friends.

She wrapped herself into a ball, and hugged herself tight, like she had done for more nights that she could count. Soft sobs escaped her lips, as she gently rocked herself.

Rey cried herself to sleep that night. It was not the first time by any means, but it was the first time in a long time.

 

***

 

Rose and Finn lay in the grass, in a clearing away from the temples and the underground. They were looking up at the night sky, the black canvas of it littered with thousands of little white flickering lights.

“Can you believe how many wars have been fought up there, amongst the stars?” Rose asked, the stars danced in her eyes. “I can hardly believe I’ve lost my family somewhere up there, it all looks so peaceful.”

“What are we fighting for, Finn?” Rose asked with a knot in her throat.

“For our lives, for peace.” Finn answered a little unsettled by her question.

“Yes, but will it last? Or are we just bound to repeat the same circle of war and peace and war again for all eternity? Every generation there is a war, my father fought against the Empire, now I’m fighting against the First Order.”, Rose turned to her side and looked at Finn. “I want to be the last one in my family that has fought in a war, that was caught up in one. I don’t want my children to live like this.” A single tear was makings it’s way down her face.

He took her hand into his.

“Do you think that’s a silly dream, do you think it possible?”, she asked him.

“I think it’s a great dream. Maybe we’re the ones that can do it, that can end the circle.”, Finn answered turning his face to hers, a little hopeful smile on his face.

“I hope we get to live through it. We deserve some peace.”

“And happiness”, he added with a kiss.

His lips were the softest, plushest lips hers had ever felt and a wave of warmth moved inside her body every time his lips touched hers. She did not think she wanted to feel any other lips on hers.

“I love you, Finn.”

“I love you, Rose.”

 

***

 

Kylo felt sleep coming for him, he felt Rey pulling him into her dream. He took a deep breath and let himself go.

He found himself inside a fallen AT-AT, in a desert landscape. Rey was curled up like a child on a hammock, soft, deep sobs escaping her.

“Rey!” he was by her side in a second, her sobs turning to shards of glass inside his heart. “Rey, what’s wrong? Talk to me, please!”

She slowly opened her eyes at the sound of his voice, they were red with tears.

She wrapped her arms around his neck, clung to him. He pulled her even closer and caressed her back. “Rey…” was all he said. He needed to know what was wrong but he felt like he shouldn’t push her, so he waited for her to be ready, even if it felt like an eternity until she spoke. Horror and rage were bubbling up inside him, his mind filled with questions. What happened? Who hurt her and how? He wanted to destroy whoever did that to her.

“I don’t wanna be here.”, she said in his ear. He picked her up from the hammock, one hand on her back the other under her knees, and made his way out of the AT-AT. There was nothing but desert for miles. Where could he go? He thought for a few seconds, he knew the dreams have shifted, had transported them to different locations, but he had never tried to control them. Maybe he could, he hoped he could. He focused with all his strength, his headache getting worse, he gritted his teeth and focused harder, fighting through the pain. Under his feet the Jakku sand turned into green, lush grass, the grass spread around them, large waterfalls formed in the distance, all of them poured in the bright blue river in front of them.

“Where are we?” Rey asked in a small voice, peeking out from the crook of his neck.

“Naboo.” he answered her, looking out towards the waterfalls. “My mom took me to this exact same spot, many years ago. She was on a diplomatic mission and I went along, I knew she was busy and it was an important mission, but she still took the time to have lunch with me, just the two of us, we spent half a day here.” The corner of his lips turned up just slightly. “I was fascinated with the waterfalls, how beautiful, dangerous and loud they were. It’s one of my most treasured memories.”

He looked her in the eyes. “What happened, Rey, why are you in this state?”

She could see the concern in his eyes, she could see the love on his face, and she knew deep down in her soul, as she knew herself, as she knew the Force inside her, that no matter what, he would never leave her, never abandon her. She pressed her body closer to his and her soul felt warm again, it felt so good, she closed her eyes.

In her mind she saw herself on that old bridge, the Resistance on one side, Ben on the other. All of a sudden she could feel the bridge shaking, the tremors came from Ben’s side. He was walking towards her, under his strong, determined steps, rotten wood turned to steel, strong wires twisted around the old, frayed rope, consuming it, steel beams anchored the new bridge in the side of the cliff. She started running for him, wood crumbled under her feet with every move. He caught her just as it turned to sawdust, setting her on firm steel. “I got you, Rey.”  he said. “I'm never letting you go.”   The wooden part of the bridge collapsed into raging waters below, in the distance she could see the outline of the Resistance. She turned her head away and pressed it to Ben’s chest. 

When she opened her yes, tears started falling down her cheeks. Before he could say anything, she wrapped her hands around his neck tighter and whispered in his ear. “I love you!”

He felt weak, like he just got hit with a stun gun, did he hear right? Was he imagining it?

“I love you.” She said it again. She got free of his arms, put her feet on the ground and stood in front of him, her eyes were still red and watered, her hair was free and tangled, there were red patches on her face from all the crying. She put a hand to his heart and looked him in the eyes. “Not the ghost of Ben Solo, but you.” she pressed her hand to his heart. “Whoever it is that you are, who you’ve been since our dreams connected, since we touched hands on a water planet, maybe even since I’ve met you, that is who I love.”

An explosion the size of the Big Bang took place inside his soul, inside his heart, his head. An explosion of light and warmth like nothing he had ever felt before. It shook him to the core, down to the fibers of his being.

“I love nothing more than you.” he managed to say, his chin shaking.

Tears danced in both of their eyes, two broken people that found each other against the odds, two broken people building each other up, slowly, brick by brick, mortar and all.

They kissed and Rey felt like he was, again, taking a part of her soul with him thought parted lips. “You are going to devour me.”, she said with a little smile on her face. He looked at her, confused. She gently shook her head at him.

His fingers were in her hair, untangling it, flattening it back down to her head. “Will you tell me what happened?” he asked.

There was amusement on Rey’s face, he looked funny. A worried expression on his face while his eyes were concentrated on taming her hair. It made her heart melt a little bit, made her love him a little bit more. She almost forgot why she was upset, almost.

She took his hands out of her hair and put them in hers, then moved towards a large rock a few steps behind them. She climbed it in two steps and sat down, he joined her. She took his hand back  in hers and looked out at the waterfalls, they were white with rage and matched the fluffy clouds above them in shade, a picture of perfection grounded in green grass peppered with little yellow and purple flowers. She sat like that for a while, taking it all in, she still could not believe that such beauty existed in the galaxy.

“They’re leaving me behind.” she finally said, eyes still on the waterfalls. “They’re leaving and they’re not taking me with them.”

Rey could feel Ben’s reaction through the twitches of his fingers, the surprise, the rage. “Your mom is staying with me.” Rey added. “We have our own ship, we’ll be fine. They just… don’t trust me anymore.”  She spoke like in a trance, she had cried away all the emotions she had about being abandoned.

Ben’s other hand was squeezed into a fist, his mind and emotions running at the speed of light. Her so called friends were going to leave her , the one that had been abandoned before and it broke her, marked her for life. Her, the one that saved them all on Crait! How could they do that, why would they do that? A wave of guilt hit him as he realized why.

“They know…” he said in a whisper, “about us?”

“No… Yes! Poe thinks I’ll be a liability if I go with them, that I’ll divulge Resistance secrets to you.”

He huffed at that. In his softest voice he said. “I’m sorry, Rey. I didn’t want to cause you any pain.”

“I know.” she said and she did know.  “It’s my fault. I knew better than to build homes inside of people.”

Even though she said it in a matter-of-fact way, Ben hurt for her because he understood, he felt her pain in those words. She had never had a home, not in the real sense. Now she had built it inside her friends and they were leaving her homeless. He wanted nothing more than to protect her from that pain, from all of the pain in the galaxy, part of him also wanted to crush her friends , starting with Poe Dameron.  

“I need something from you.”, she asked.

“Anything!” he answered, and he meant it.

“I need you to not hurt them.”

He moved his chin in a way that was all his, then swallowed. “I won’t. Hux might, but I’ll deal with him soon enough.”

She looked at him, questions on her face, but he said nothing.

“What’s going on?”, Rey worried.

He looked at her hand in his, she had a little cluster of freckles where her thumb met her hand. He caressed them.

“Ben, what’s wrong?”, she pressed, her heart already speeding up in her chest.

“Nothing, it’s nothing. Just a little coup I have to deal with.” He tried to give her a little smile, make what he said seem less serious.

It didn’t work. Her eyes widened and her heart was pounding now.

“It’s nothing to worry about. I’m going to make sure he will never be a problem again.”

She chewed on the inside of her cheek. A coup. She wanted to help him, in some way, but she knew of none. What could she do, jump on the Falcon and go to his rescue, he had the power of the First Order behind him, or at least some of it, the Falcon had a red bullseye on it. She was powerless.

She thought about the Force connection they had, she could try and bring it back, be his second pair of eyes, but they were never able to see each other’s surroundings, just each other. She set the thought aside, knowing that she would be more a distraction then help. She squeezed his hand.

Her voice was steel. “Tell me everything! What happened, what’s your plan. Don’t miss one thing.”

He smiled at her, at how hard she was trying to help. How far they had come, in just weeks, the thought made his heart swell.  He told her all he knew, including how he had found out. She did not even flinch at the general’s death.

When he was done, she paused, mincing his words in her mind.

“You need to go.”, she finally said. “There’s more to be done, redundancy ships to get in place. Maybe he only has the support of two other Generals and their fleet, but what about guns for hire? Have you searched everyone’s mind on your convoy? He knew where you’d be at around what time. What if there’s another spy? You need to go!” She emphasised every word in the last sentence.

“I can’t leave you, not after the day you’ve had, I…”

She straddled him, her hands moved to the sides of his face. She looked in his eyes. “I love you for that, but yes, you can! Ben, I need you to go, I need you to be so prepared that you won’t even break into a sweat taking him down. I need you to win!”

She kissed him and he kissed her back, it was long, and deep and she tried really hard to not think of it as a goodbye kiss.

“I’ll come find you.” he said breaking the kiss. “Once I’m done with Hux, I’ll come find you, if you’ll let me.” his fingers were playing in her hair.

She smiled at him and gave him the location of her planet. It would be just her and Leia shortly, she saw no reason not to tell him.

“Come back to me, Ben!”, she said as she pushed him out of the dream, barely holding back tears. “Come back to me.”

He was back on his ship, her voice still echoed in his head. He swallowed hard, trying to shove down the knot that formed in his throat. He would take great pleasure in getting rid of Hux.

Chapter Text

Kylo had done everything he could think of to prepare for the battle ahead. He requested backup from all the First Order generals that would be in reach, he told them the location they needed to be at, and when. They were all ready and waiting for his orders, an entire fleet with impressive weaponry at his disposal, he found no need for unvetted hired guns. He searched the minds of everyone on his convoy and found no other traitors. Everything that was in his hands had been done and he was certain victory will ensure. He debated taking the chance to have Hux brought to him, make him pay for the betrayal personally, but he decided it wasn’t worth it, he would destroy his ship with him in it, obliterate every particle of Hux. Now, there was nothing left to do but wait.

His thoughts jumped to Rey, like they always did, in every spare moment. He would see her after the battle, he would get to touch her, not just in dreams but in reality, he wondered if it would feel different. He loved her and, incredibly, she loved him back. He had not hoped to dream that big and yet it was reality. He was still high on the “I love you” .

“Not the ghost of Ben Solo, but you!” That had meant so much to him, it meant everything to him. He had known there was a chance for Ben Solo, she had crossed the galaxy just for the possibility of him, risked her life for Ben Solo , the golden boy, the legacy child, the blindingly bright light. All the things that he was not, all the things that he hadn’t been for a long time, and when she saw that it was just that, a ghost, she had left him, broken on the ground.

That had hurt him the most that day. He had thought, hoped that she had seen him, through their connection, the real him, and somehow felt something for him, compassion, affinity, empathy, he wasn’t sure what, but something . But it hadn’t been for him, it had been for Ben Solo’s ghost, and that was what broke him, turned him colder than before, multiplied his anger. “Blow that piece of junk out of the sky” , he had ordered on Crait. He realized now that she had been on that ship, he could have hurt her, killed her, his stomach turned at the thought, a wave of shame and nausea overwhelmed him. He had so much to be ashamed for, to be sorry for, he decided he didn’t want to add anything more to the list, not when it came to Rey. He shook his head, trying to get the guilt out of it.

“Whoever it is that you are.” echoed in his head and he smiled faintly at that. Was it possible that she now saw him, really saw him,  knew him that well? Was it possible that she knew he had no idea who he was anymore? Did he ever truly know? He had never felt comfortable in his own skin.

As a child he felt either burdened with the Force, or like he was a burden to everyone around him. Being, and raising a Force sensitive child are hard tasks, and neither him nor his parents were very good at it. It had taken a while for him to get control of his powers and many things were left broken in the wake of that, like his relationship with his father, his parent’s marriage, himself.

When Smoke’s influence grew stronger he tried to ignore it, keep it at bay, fight it, but Snoke had managed to slowly, but surely spill darkness into him, killing his light. He wasn’t comfortable in the darkness either, when the light called to him. He could not remember a time where he was at peace with himself, had there been such a time?

He didn’t know who he was anymore, but then again, maybe he never did, he was always what other people told him to be, wanted him to be. He was the bright light his parents wanted, he was the Jedi his uncle trained, he was Snoke’s monster, maybe none of those were ever truly him.  

He just knew he was a mess, that he was far from good, but still, Rey wanted him, still he found her next to him. He wasn’t sure why, but he was so incredibly grateful for it, for her, and vowed to himself to be worthy of her.    

What would the world hold for them after this? They weren’t just on opposite sides of the galaxy, they were on opposite teams. Would she join him, in the First Order? He thought not, even after last night, he still could not imagine that. Could he join her? There was no room for him there, that, he was certain of, and he didn’t want it to be either, his feelings towards the Resistance hadn’t changed along with the ones for Rey.

The only thing he truly wanted was her. Was there a path for them in the middle, somewhere? He hoped there was, unimaginable as it may seem, somehow he hoped there was.

Another thought crossed his mind, Leia. Rey had said that his mom would be there with her, he would get to see the last two people he truly cared about in the entire galaxy. It scared him, seeing his mom again, it had been so long, too long. The last time they were in the same proximity was during the battle, when he almost pulled the trigger, but he had sensed her, and she him.

It had been overwhelming, he had expected hate from her, made himself ready for it, steadied himself, but there was none, just sadness and love . It tore his heart in two, shook him to the core and then he saw the missile, at the corner of his eyes, too late to do anything to stop it. He had thought her gone, retrieved into the darkness, let the darkness eat his pain. He should have known better, he should have known the pain he felt was not her dying, but his own guilt. He realized now that when that time came, he would feel her death with every molecule of his being. He swallowed hard and tried to keep that thought at bay.

 

 

***

 

 

A-1084 was breathing heavily under her mask as she walked the ship’s hallways towards her own command center.

“FN-2187!”, she thought, the traitor, the most famous stormtrooper in the First Order, maybe the most famous one in the history of stormtroopers. The stories of FN-2187 had spread like wildfire through the troopers. From pieced together accounts she had learned a few things about the traitor. On Jakku, his fellow stormtrooper’s death had marked his soul, not just his mask, he had broken free of the conditioning and escaped the First Order, along with a famous Resistance pilot.

Maybe his persona would not have reached almost mythical status within the troopers if it stopped there, but he had also managed to escape execution and kill Phasma. The great Captain Phasma, the standard to which all troopers aspired. It was almost unthinkable, the things this… glitch in the system had achieved.

It was now her mission to take down the myth, make the man pay, destroy the glitch. There was much to be done, she hoped there was enough time.

She reached her command center and rang two of her subordinates on the HoloPad.

“The moment we have been waiting for is here.” she said to the masked troopers at the other end.

They were unresponsive, she continued. “We need to gather all our troops. We will be facing FN-2187 tomorrow.”

At that the troopers twitched in unison.

“Will there be enough time for everything?” one of them asked.

 

 

***

 

 

Rey woke up almost as soon as she pushed Ben out of her dream. She did not manage to go back to sleep, she knew she couldn’t, not until he was safe. It was only over a week ago that she wanted nothing more but to end him. On Starkiller base she had reached inside his mind and fed off of it, taught herself his fighting skills, gorged herself on his strength and with that, some of his darkness. She knew now she did, for she would not have circled him like a predator would a wounded animal, taking pleasure in his struggle, that was not who she was. She did what she had to do, even if it meant killing someone, but she did not take pleasure in it. Was that who Ben really was, or was the darkness that she took, Snoke’s darkness?

She turned on her back and looked up at the ceiling of the temple. Her eyes, adjusted to the darkness, could see little rays of moonlight coming in through the old brick of the pointed ceiling. She stayed like that all night, arms spread out, head looking up, eyes lost in thought.

Her friends would be leaving her soon, it still hurt her, no matter how much she tried not to let it. It still hurt, but the thought of seeing Ben flowed over the wounds like a soothing balm. It occurred to her that she had never touched him in reality, besides the brief moment when she reached for him during the fight in the throne room. She smiled at that, it was funny how she knew exactly how he felt, and how his hands felt on her without even touching in real life. She wondered if he would feel different in reality, taste different. She was looking forward to finding out.

Her mind told her that he would be fine, he had superior numbers and firepower, he was a capable man, he would be fine, he would plan for different scenarios, he would set redundancies in place, he would make sure he won. But her heart was still beating a drum of what ifs. She shook her head, trying to get that thought out of it.

Although most of her was looking forward to seeing him, a little voice in her head kept asking “Then what? ” What will happen after he came for her, what did life and the Force have in stock for them? She wasn’t going to join the First Order, and she knew he wouldn’t join the Resistance. Could they just leave, together, and have the First Order and the Resistance fight it out? Leave the galaxy to fend for itself? Could she do that, did she have that in her?

 

 

***

 

 

The sun was rising, its first rays shone through the trees. The Resistance was gathered in the clearing, finishing packing up to leave. Leia stood with her back against a tree and watched them at a distance, the last hope for the galaxy. The rays of sun bathed them in orange light, they seemed like beings of light to her, fighting the darkness of the galaxy.  

Leia felt Rey approach before she saw her. She gave her a smile, and the girl smiled back at her. She was glad, it was a change from last night. They sat there in silence looking at their friends.

When Finn saw Rey, he moved towards her.

“I’m here to say goodbye” Rey smiled weakly at Finn before he had a chance to say anything.

“Goodbye?” he looked confused. “What do you mean? You’re not coming with us? Where are you going?”

Rey was taken aback by that, she thought he knew about it, she thought it was a mutual decision, she had been wrong, he didn’t know. Her heart smiled at that. “I’m staying behind with Leia.” she answered finally.

Finn looked at Rey then at Leia. “This makes no sense! We need you, both of you. Why would you… ” when realization dawned over him he turned his head towards Poe.

“Poe.” Finn huffed. “Poe!”, he said again, his voice loud.

The other man made his way towards him.

“Why isn’t Rey coming?” Finn asked, anger in his voice, as soon as Poe was near.

Poe’s eyes moved from Finn, to Leia, then finally to Rey.

He sighed. “I’m sorry, Rey. I wish it wasn’t like this, but I can’t take the risk. It’s our last chance…”

Rey gave him the smallest nod, face expressionless.

“What are you talking about?” Finn interjected. “We need Rey, and we need Leia.”

“Finn!” Poe pleaded. "You know the reasons why she can’t come with us, and Leia decided to stay behind. If you think you can change Leia’s mind then go ahead, be my guest, I’d love to see that.” Poe finished trying to defuse the situation. It didn’t work.

“This is bullshit, I don’t know what’s going on with her and…”, Finn snarled, “Kylo Ren, but we all know she would never hurt us.”

“Okay, I’ll give her that, she won’t hurt us, but she said she won’t hurt Kylo Ren either. What happens if it all comes down to her having to choose between us and him?”, Poe took a few half steps. “I’m not just stranding them here, I’m getting ready one of the cargo ships for her and Leia…”

Rey exhaled through her nostrils and side eyed Poe. “Finn, I’m fine, we’ll be fine. The Resistance needs you. Just go.” She was still angry with Poe, for abandoning her, for not trusting her, but his last words rang in her head. “ What happens if it all comes down to her having to choose between us and him?” To her surprise she realized that Poe was right, even though she would never hurt her friends, she would also choose Ben. Poe was the new leader of the Resistance, he could not have someone he didn’t fully trust amidst them. She still didn’t like it, but she now understood him.

“Good luck, Poe!”,Rey said and she made sure it sounded as sincere as it was.

Poe looked at her, really looked at her for a few moments, then said. “Thank you, Rey.” and extended a hand to her.

She shook it.

Finn’s eyes were moving from Rey to Poe, unsure what to think of the exchange.

Poe retreated back to the ships with a nod to Leia, she nodded back at him.

“So this is it? This is goodbye?” Finn asked, misery in his voice.

Rey wrapped her hands around Finn’s neck and squeezed him in a hug. He hugged her back.

“You still give the best hugs.”, she said in his ear.

“It’s not goodbye.” Rey answered, as she moved back from the embrace. “You’re my friend and I love you, I love all of you. We’ll see each other again.”

“How will I find you?”

Rey looked down at her wrist, where two bracelets stood, the copper one from the temple that bridged her and Ben’s dreams and the binary beacon. She removed the beacon from her hand.

“If you still trust that I would never hurt you, then take it.” she stretched out her hand to him.

He looked at Rey, then at the blue light of the beacon in her hand. He closed his fist around it.

“Don’t tell Poe!” Leia’s voice came. “It defeats the purpose of leaving Rey here.” she added with a cheeky smile.

Finn smiled at that, then shoved the beacon in his pocket.

“We’ll find you.” he said looking at Rey and then at Leia, on Leia’s wrist he saw the pale light of the other beacon. “We’ll see each other again, I know we will!”

Finn pulled Rey into another hug, then awkwardly said goodbye to Leia.

The two women watched as he made his way towards the ships.

The rest of the early morning they spent saying goodbye to the rest of their friends. A few hours later, they watched the two ships take off, they watched them until they turned into dots that disappeared into the stratosphere.

 

 

***

 

 

“He’s coming here.”, Rey said to Leia, as she moved her spoon around a bowl of stew, they were sitting at the large communal table trying to have lunch, even if she had no appetite.

Leia’s spoon bounced off the table and landed on to the floor with a clank. She knew who she was talking about. “When?”, was all she asked.

“Soon… hopefully.”

Leia frowned at that.

Rey told her about the coup, about the fight that was probably taking place as they spoke. Leia said nothing, but the color ran out of her face. Rey moved towards the older woman and squeezed her hand. They stood like that for a while, both worried about the same man, both hoping he would come back to them.

 

 

***

 

 

The sun was beginning to start its descend when Rey heard a ship landing, she ran out of the underground towards the clearing. It was a First Order ship, similar to what Kylo had used in Takodana, she smiled at it and made her way towards it. The bay doors opened and a figure dressed in black walked out, his red hair shone in the sunlight.

“Hux!” Rey stopped in her tracks, the smile disappearing from her face. A “No!” escaped her as her knees buckled under her. Hux was here! He was here, he was here , he had won, which meant that Ben had lost. She covered her mouth trying to stop a scream from escaping her, tears stung her eyes, blurring her vision.

Behind Hux, two platoons of Stormtroopers moved into position.

“This isn’t real, this can’t be real” , she thought shaking her head defiantly. Her knees gave out completely and she fell to the ground, body convulsing in sobs.

“No, no, noooo!”, she was screaming in her head.

A cold smile was plastered on Hux’s face at the sight of the girl’s pain. His risk had played off.

Chapter Text

***

 

 

Kylo was sitting in the main command center on his ship, eyes looking out into the vastness of space in front of him, every post in the command center was filled, every one of his subordinates ready for his orders. He looked at the time, according to the intel he got from General Ishayah’s mind, the battle would start soon. He was ready, the shields were up, the weapons ready to fire.

He didn’t have to wait long, two Resurgent-class Battlecruisers jumped out of hyperspace followed by six Maxima-A class heavy cruisers, weapons already firing.

Kylo looked at the emerging ships, none of them was Hux’s. Out of the cruisers, dozens of TIE Fighters and Interceptors emerged, they scrambled towards Kylo’s ship.

“Supreme Leader,” a nervous lieutenant started, “the shields are at 80 percent.”

“Deploy our Fighters, have them take care of TIE class ships.”Kylo answered. Hux’s ship still hadn’t emerged, he wanted to wait for it, he wanted Hux dead. A blast from one of the Battlecruisers shook the command center.

“Now!” Kylo ordered and his fleet jumped out of hyperspace surrounding the traitors, weapons firing from all sides. There were five large Battlecruisers, a dozen heavy cruisers and countless TIE fighters emerging from them. His own ship started firing at the traitors, they were so outnumbered he almost felt sorry for them.

“Supreme Leader, we are being hailed from one of the Battlecruisers.”

“Put it up on the HoloNet.” Kylo said in an instant.

“Supreme Leader,” came the voice of a frightened middle-aged general, “we surrender, please have mercy on my fleet.”

“Where is Hux?” Kylo asked, unfazed.

“…I don’t know, he was supposed to jump out of hyperspace with us, I….”

Kylo peaked into the general’s mind. He was telling the truth, he was as surprised as Kylo that Hux hadn’t shown up.

With a little twitch of his fingers, Kylo snapped the general’s neck. “I want this over,” he commanded, “fire all our guns on them!”

Before long, the space was littered with debris from the destroyed ships. There was still no sight of Hux.

It had been easy, too easy. He sent off all the generals and their ships with a “Good job!”, then dismissed the nonessential personnel in the command center.

A sense of dread was forming inside him, something was wrong, he felt it. He missed something, he knew he did, but what did he miss, what was it? A thought was forming in his mind, it was shapeless and cloudy, when it took shape he cursed himself for not seeing the obvious. General Ishayah!  

Hux knew the extent of Kylo’s Force powers, knew what he was capable of, so why risk telling General Ishayah the plan to take  down the Supreme Leader? Hux had to know there was a possibility of him sensing the betrayal in the general. Unless that had been Hux’s plan, unless this had only been a diversion all along. But why would he need a diversion, what was his end game, his goal?

Kylo knew Hux’s goal, it was to take him down, destroy him, make him suffer. His thoughts automatically jumped to Rey, to his mother, but they were safe, no one knew where they were, he, himself, just found out. They were safe….

“I trusted you and now my friends are missing!” Rey had thought that he had done something to the Rebels when they left, but he hadn’t. He had asked Hux about it, and he had denied it, but he never looked inside his mind to see if he was telling the truth.

Hux knew where they were! He knew and he was on his way there, if not there already. The rest of the Resistance would have left by now, they were all alone, Rey and Leia were all alone. As strong as both Rey and his mother were, he knew they would be no match for Hux’s forces and his anger.

A scream escaped him, the scream of a wounded animal. His subordinates turned their heads in unison towards the sound, then quickly snapped them back to their monitors. He needed the firepower of the First Order, but he couldn’t risk it. He couldn’t risk Rey and his mom. He couldn’t risk bringing the First Order there, within firing distance, he couldn’t risk having the trigger happy, power starving First Order there.

He started running for the docking bays, for his command shuttle.

 

 

***

 

 

“Were you expecting someone else?” Hux asked. He loved being right, and he had been right. The smile widened on his face, it was a cruel, wicked thing.

On the ground in front of him, the girl was still sobbing, it was music to his ears. With a head movement, the stormtroopers started their advance on her.

Through tear filled eyes, Rey saw the stormtroopers advance. Part of her just wanted to lay there, in her misery, but the logical part took over. “Get up, get up and fight!” it said to her, but Rey didn’t move. “He’s not dead! You know he’s not, you would have felt him go, with every part of your being, you would have felt it! Now get up and fight, Rey!”

Rey took a deep breath and looked inside herself for strength, when she found what she needed she got up slowly, steadying herself and eyed the troopers. There were ten of them, their blasters pointed at her. She pushed out her breath through her nostrils, audibly,  eyes narrowing on the troopers, all of a sudden a switch inside her turned. With one side of the lightsaber turned on, back hunched down, like a predator, like Kylo, she advanced on the troopers. All her pain had been replaced by sheer rage, it burned white at the edge of her vision. A little grin pulled at one corner of her mouth, something dark inside her twitched with pleasure, she would enjoy making them pay for this.

From behind her a blaster bolt connected with one of the troopers, sending him tumbling back with a hole in his armor, she didn’t have to look to know that it was Leia.

The troopers started firing, Rey blocked their bolts with the lightsaber, her hand moving faster than she thought possible. Leia took cover behind the massive trees and continued firing, most of her shots connected with the troopers.

Rey let out a scream of fury as she started running for the closest two troopers. She ducked just in time to avoid a bolt, then ran her lightsaber through their bodies, cauterizing large gashes in their torsos. They fell to the ground, lifeless.

Rey did a quick count, five stormtroopers were left, plus Hux. She itched to have her hands around his neck, to feel her fingers dig into his windpipe, to run her lightsaber through him. Another one of Leia’s blast bolts connected with a trooper’s mask, four more to go. With the Force, Rey grabbed the body of the dead trooper and slammed it hard into the two that were advancing on her, the impact made the troopers fall back, blasters thrown out of their hands. She was on them ready to deliver the final blow when she heard Leia’s scream. Her head snapped towards the sound and her face dropped. Out of the woods, several other platoons of troopers were emerging, blasters in hands. One of them had his hand around the back of Leia’s neck, squeezing it, the blaster pointed at her spine.

“You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?” Hux mocked. “Did you think I’d go to all this trouble and bring just a few stormtroopers? Did you think my ship wouldn’t be in orbit with orders to destroy this entire planet if I don’t come back?” His face turned red, his nose crinkled into a snarl and he shouted.  “Who do you think you’re dealing with, you stupid child?”

The troopers moved to surround her. Hux straightened his suit and flattened his hair, regaining his composure.

“There is no way out of this, for either of you. Stand down, or General Organa dies.” Hux declared.

Rey’s face was twisted with sheer rage, adrenaline pumping through her, she wanted to keep fighting, to kill Hux, to save Leia, but there were so many of them, too many. She dropped her lightsaber to the ground, breath panting.

Hux smiled at that and made his way towards the two women. “I must admit, this has been a risk, but by the looks of your reaction, it payed off.”

“How?” Rey snarled at him.

“How what?” Hux answered, cockiness in his voice. “How did I find you, or how did I know about you and Ren?”

Rey didn’t answer, she just eyed him, her breath still panting, rage still burning white.

“You’ll have to thank your Resistance friends for that.”

A sob escaped Rey, did he have her friends too? The possibility of their betrayal was nonexistent in her mind.

“That little trip they took…Ha!”, Hux let out a mocking fake laugh. “Dameron, the famous Resistance pilot fooled by bounty hunters into thinking he lost their tail, how funny,” there was no amusement on Hux’s face, “but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, the tracker on that piece of junk you call a ship would have still lead us here.”

With a quick head movement from Hux, the troopers pressed down forcibly on the women’s shoulders until they were on their knees in front of him. The last Jedi and the Resistance general, on their knees in front of him, a shiver of  pleasure ran through his body at the sight.

“General,” Hux said to Leia mockingly, “a pleasure, finally meeting you. I must admit, I thought you’d be more…,” he looked the frail old woman up and down, “ ...impressive.” With no warning, from the holster attached to his back, he drew out his blaster and shot Leia in the abdomen.

Leia tumbled to the ground in pain, a scream escaped Rey as she tried to get up and fight, her lightsaber already flying towards her hands, but before she was fully vertical, the trooper behind her hit her in the back on the head, hard. She fell unconscious next to Leia.

Hux put his blaster away, ignored Leia’s grunts of pain and  moved towards the unconscious Rey, her legs bent under her body, hands spread out, lightsaber on the ground besides her. He kicked at it, to him it looked like a strange long sword. He picked it up and pressed the button, a blue light crackled into life, the smell of ozone filled his nostrils, he didn’t care for it and turned it off.

He took another step towards the girl’s body and took a good look at her, he was not impressed with her either. The last Jedi, just a girl. He could not comprehend how this girl was the cause of such problems.

Hux moved towards Leia, she was breathing hard, her jaw clenched, suppressing the sounds of pain, her hand pressed tight to her side, blood sweeping out through her fingers.

“The great Rebel fighter, the great Resistance general.” He mocked looking down at her, Rey’s lightsaber still in his hand.

“I want you to know that I will kill every single one of your precious rebels, if they’re not already dead, that is,” He snarled at Leia. “and I have a special plan for your son,” he glanced at the lightsaber in his hands, an idea was forming, “it won’t be pretty, no, it will be painful and drawn out and I will enjoy every second of it.” A smirk bloomed on his face.

Leia looked defiantly up at him, then spat on his shoes.

With disgust on his face, he ordered “Take the girl! This one won’t last long. Let her suffer!” The smirk was back on his face.

Leia watched, hopeless, as Rey was taken, she fought to stay awake, not to lose consciousness. The pain was overwhelming. With blurred vision, she saw the ships take off, they too turned into little dots that disappeared, just like the Resistance ships did not too long ago.

Leia fought the pain away, she looked within the Force for strength, for pain relief. She found some, but it wasn’t enough, the pain was still intense and horrible, but her mind became clearer, not overwhelmed with it.

Clear of the physical pain, her mind began to struggle with another type of pain, emotional pain. Hux’s words echoed in her head, he would kill every rebel, if they weren’t dead already. And Ben, he would kill her son too. She had been so close to seeing him again, so close.

 

 

***

 

 

Ben was in orbit around Ashkarah when he sensed Leia.

“No!” He said through a clenched jaw.

The ship skidded on the grass as he jumped out of the cockpit and ran out the bay doors. He saw her body in the distance, laying in the grass, dead troopers scattered around the field.

“Mom!” Ben yelped, as he reached her. There was blood slowly dripping out of her from a side wound, her fingers stained with her own blood, clothes were soaked in blood, so much blood, too much blood. His face twisted in pain at the sight of her wound, at the sight of his mother.

“Ben,” she said and her face lighted up, “is it really you, or a hallucination?” She was fighting to stay awake, to stay alive.

“It’s me mom, I am here, hold on!” He answered as he lifted her up in his arms and started making his way towards his ship.

“Ben!” Leia said again, almost a whisper.

“I got you, there’s a mini medical droid on the ship, just hold on, mom. You’ll be okay!”

“It’s too late.” She said, and he looked at her, truly looked her in the eyes for the first time in a very, very long time. His knees almost buckled underneath him, his eyes were filled with tears, his chin shaking. She looked so much older than he remembered, he knew deep down that part of it was his fault. The hurt, the sleepless nights, the worries had carved lines down her face, chipped at her health. He hated himself for it, he used to love that face, he still loved that face.

Leia looked back at him with love filled eyes, commiting to memory every feature of his face, she took in the long scar down it, it was new to her. It had been too long since she’d seen her child.

“No! It’s not too late!” He willed it into the Force. “We’re almost there, just hold on!”

“I can feel it Ben, you can feel it too.”

“I can’t lose you, there’s so much I need to tell you, mom, so much I have to repent for, too many things I have to atone for…”

He kept moving towards the ship, his pace was quick, but to him the ship seemed to be getting further and further.

“I never thought I'd see you again.” Leia said, her head on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, for this, for all the years I’ve… For dad…"

“I know you are.”

“We’re almost there mom, just a little longer.” He said again, reassuring himself more than her.

“He has her,” Leia said with a grunt, “he’s setting a trap for you."

“I know.” He murmured.

“Ben,” Leia said and turned his attention to the blue light on her wrist, it was a binary beacon like the one he had seen on Rey’s hand the night she told him about the temples, “you won’t make it alone, find the Resistance. Tell Poe that you’re cashing in all my chips, he’ll know what it means. He will help you.”

With another grunt, Leia moved her hand from her wound and touched her son’s face, caressing it, she smiled up at him. “I love you, Ben,” she said, “I never stopped loving you.” Half of Ben’s face was now stained red with his mother’s blood.

Ben was still making his way towards the ship, his vision blurred with tears. He refused to give up, he would save her.

“I’m so sorry, mom, I love you too.”, he said in a broken voice.

“I know, baby.” Leia pressed her head to his shoulder. They were almost at the ship, just steps away from the medical droid. Hope was fluttering inside Ben’s heart, he would save her.

Leia’s eyes looked in the distance, at something only she could see, there was a faint smile on her face. “Han.” she let out, barely a breath.

Ben felt her death in his soul, in his entire being. It felt like a part of him had been ripped out by sharp claws, leaving a ragged bleeding wound in him. He had never known such pain. He dropped to his knees, right in front of the bay doors, her lifeless body still in his arms.

He yelled so loud, a ragged, broken cry of pain, that the trees around them shook. A wave of pain rippled from inside him into reality, it shook everything around them, his voice amplified by the Force echoed throughout the forest. Every living thing around them scattered for miles.

Ben stayed like that, his face buried in the crook of her neck, crying his pain, body convulsing with sobs. The sun was casting its last rays when his eyes finally dried out.

Somewhere in the back of his head there was a faint female voice calling to him, he didn’t recognize it and he couldn’t understand what she was saying, all he knew was that it was bidding him towards the temples.  

He carefully got up, Leia’s body still in his arms, and made his way towards them. The voice had quieted. He went inside one of them. In it he saw Rey’s sleeping bag, as well as the Jedi books.

He gently laid her down on the sleeping bag then took her hand in his. It was still warm, he pressed his lips to it.

“I’m so sorry I couldn’t be the son you deserved.” Ben swallowed the knot in his throat. “Tell dad I’m sorry too. I’m so sorry. I love you, both of you.”

With a gentle movement, he removed the beacon from her wrist, he clenched his fist around it and got up. He laid his cape gently on top of her body, covering it.

“Until we see each other again.” He said leaving the temple with a look behind him. Apart from the tear tracks that had ran down, washing it away, the left side of his face was still stained with his mother’s blood. It was dry and it pulled at the little hairs on his face, he did not dare wipe it off.

He sealed her body inside the temple using the pile of rocks that Rey had so methodically moved days ago. There would be no animal touching his mother’s body.

Ben unclenched his fist and looked down at the beacon. He ran for his ship, the woman’s voice was calling him back towards the temples, he ignored it. Into the air, into the Force, he begged “Survive Rey, I will find you! Just… survive!”

Light years away Rey’s lips moved ever so slightly, survive they spelled.

Chapter Text

***

 

 

As her son made his way towards the ship, Leia's body lay lifeless inside the cold temple. The pale light of the moon was shining through the cracked bricks.

Out of the North wall a woman's figure materialized, a long blue dress adorned her body, a cape in a darker shade of blue trailed behind her, her curly hair was sprinkled with little white flowers.

With one look, Kylo's cape pulled away from Leia's body, uncovering it. The woman took Leia's cold hand in hers and gently pulled at it until Leia's spirit rose from her body.

A look of surprise adored Leia's face. She looked at her own dead body, then at herself. Her hands had no wrinkles, no age spots, she moved them to her face, it was smooth, smoother than it had been in many years. Leia frowned at the woman, a question in her eyes.

"In your heart, you still are a young woman defying the stars, in your heart, this is how you see yourself. That is why." The woman answered.

Leia knew that the woman was right. As the years went by, as they marked her body with the signs of time, deep inside, she still felt like the young woman that fought the Empire with her friends in a beat up freighter.

It was strange how, as our shells aged, our hearts still stayed the same age they were when we felt most like ourselves.

"Do I know you?" She asked and her voice was the voice she had many, many moons ago.

"You do, I have been with you all your life," the woman answered, "and you know this body too, it is the body from which you came to be."

Leia swallowed, she understood who she was talking to, and whose body that was. "Padme." escaped her lips.

"I bring you a choice, my child." The being in the shape of Padme said, "Do you wish to retain your essence as a Force Ghost, or do you wish for rest? It has been a hard road for you,” the being said with a little sorrow in its voice, “whatever your answer is, it shall be done."

Leia looked at the body of the woman that had given life to her and Luke, it was the first time she had seen her and she was more beautiful than she thought possible. Leia had known of Padame Amidala’s achievements as a politician, as a leader of Naboo and she was very proud of her mother, but she had never seen her, apart from a few blurry holographs. A fleeting emotion of anger towards her biological father crossed her face. Leia would never forgive him, not even now.

She had been well loved and cared for by her adoptive parents but somehow, a tiny little piece of her always felt like it was missing. She wanted nothing more than to hug her mother, but her real mother wasn’t there, it was just a shell being occupied.  

Leia wasn’t sure what she truly wanted, she thought about her son, about the Resistance, about Rey, then her mind jumped to Luke, to Han, to all the pain and sorrow in her life, to all her struggles, and she was tired, so tired.

“It shall be done.” The being said.

Leia had made her choice.

 

 

***

 

 

Finn looked out of the Falcon unto a planet like he had not seen before, the planet shined in the light of it’s two suns with bright blue and immaculate white. Here and there it was speckled with shades of green.  

“It’s mostly a water planet, beaches for hundreds and hundreds of miles and some jungle hills.” Poe answered Finn’s unasked question.

“It’s beautiful!” Finn and Rose both said at the same time.

“That it is, that it is.” Poe agreed.

As the Falcon and the lone cargo ship began their descent on the planet, Finn could see the white sands broken up with the colors of the metal ships. There were a dozens of them, starfighters, transporters, shuttles and corvettes, all spread out on miles and miles of open beaches.

“Aren’t those ships just sitting ducks?” Finn commented.

“They would be, yeah, if it weren’t for the planetary shields.” Poe offered. “Nothing can get to us from orbit.”

 

 

Poe and Chewie landed the ship next to one of the few structures on the planet, an impressive in size ancient stone temple, half of it’s foundation laid on beach sand, the other onto jungle floor, it’s back settle into the hill.

“My man!” Poe greeted with a wide smile a tall man in X-Wing pilot uniform. The two exchanged a quick hug and a pat on each other’s shoulders.

“This guy here,” Poe started pointing at his friend, “is Noua, he’s the mastermind behind all this, he gathered up all the last of the Resistance. We flew together in the Blue Squadron, but we go way back before that.”

Noua bowed his head towards Poe’s friends.

Finn and Rose both nodded their hellos while Chewbacca made a noise in agreeance.

“Is everybody here? Who’s yet to arrive?” Poe asked Noua.

“We’re just waiting on one last party and then we can begin.” Noua answered and his voice was thick as molasses.

“In the meantime,” he added, his eyes on Poe,“you mentioned some credits we could spend…”

“Same ol’ Noua.” Poe said with a laughter.

Poe and his friend went inside the temple with BB8 on their footsteps, while Finn and Rose stayed outside, taking in the scene around them.

There were hundreds of people moving around them like ants in a colony, each one of them seemed to know exactly where they were going, what they were doing and especially their place in all of this.

It felt a little overwhelming to both Finn and Rose. They reached for each other’s hand at the same time, as their fingers intertwined Finn observed. “Better now.”

“Much better,” Rose confirmed with a smile.

They stayed like that for a while, looking out onto the blue ocean, the white waves crashing on the white sand.

“This is paradise!” Rose said.

“There’s something about it that doesn’t feel right to me.” Finn confided.

Rose looked up at Finn with a frown. “What?”

“I don’t know, this planet, all of the remaining Resistance gathered up in one place. If it were me, if I wanted to get rid of the Resistance, I’d gather them all up in one place too.”

The frown on Rose’s face deepened. She took another look around, they were sitting ducks, if something happened to the shield, if the First Order got through the shield, they would be in big trouble.

“What can we do?” she asked him.

“Let’s go find Poe.”

As Finn and Rose made their way towards the temple they saw four other Resistance transporters making their way down for landing. They watched the ships together as they landed on an empty stretch of beach.

“That’s gotta be the last party.” Finn noted, stopping to look.

They watched together as the transporters bay doors opened simultaneously. They watched together as the squadron after squadron of Stormtroopers made their way out of the ships.

“It’s a trap!” Finn let out pulling Rose by the hand towards the cover of the jungle.

 

 

***

 

 

 

Rey found herself surrounded by darkness. She could only see as far as her hand stretched out, she cried out and it echoed and echoed until her words reached her back.

“Ben!” she said and the word multiplied with echoes, “ Ben! Ben! Ben!”   rippled through the darkness. There was no answer to her call. She started moving, one small step at a time, the darkness went on for an eternity.

 

 

***

 

As the Upsilon -class shuttle was making its way towards Hux’s battleship, Rey laid unconscious on the floor, her hands and feet bound behind her.

Hux looked at her, this girl and Kylo Ren, who would have thought? Maybe that’s what they were counting on. The two of them, such a strange pair that no one would think it possible. Hux himself was the one that picked up Ren’s scarred body after the girl had slashed his face open, mortal enemies just weeks ago and now… What were they to each other? He did not know, or cared, but he knew whatever it was, it was enough for him to manipulate Ren and her both.

He hadn’t been sure of his guess, it was based on eavesdropped conversations and Snoke’s death, but when he saw her reaction as he made his way out of the Upsilon shuttle, her face said it all. If he could bottle that sheer disappointment and sorrow on her face, he would. If Ren’s feelings for the girl were as strong as hers, Hux knew his gambled had paid off.

The shuttle docked inside the battleship.

“Take her to the medbay, have the medic keep her sedated at all times.” Hux face twisted into a grin as soon as he finished ordering the Stormtrooper.

 

 

***

 

 

 

“See!” Rey heard inside her mind. “See!”

“Ten portions.” the voice of Unkur Putt came from behind her. A slither of light was tearing through the darkness, opening a door through time into Putt’s trading post.

“I don’t want your portions, I want credits!” an angry man’s voice answered Putt. It belonged to a man in his third decade. His face looked older, marked with hard lines, his hair was unkempt, face unshaven.

Rey steadied herself, she remembered that voice, she remembered that face, it was the face of the man she once called dad .

“You don’t get credits for junk. Bring me something better, I’ll give credits.”

The man rubbed at his nose, the bottom of his nostrils stained with Sansanna spice. “I don’t have anything better.”

“You have a girl with you, she’s small, skinny, can get into tight places, I could use someone like her.” Putt said matter-of-factly.

“I’m not selling you my daughter!” he yelled and tried to grab Putt through the bars of his counter.

Putt slapped the man’s hand away. “I’ll give you fifteen hundred credits for her. Come back when you run out of grog and spice.”

“Next!” Putt yelled, ignoring the man.

The man turned and left Putt’s trading post. With his eyes in the sand he rubbed at his nose again. “Fifteen hundred credits…” he murmured under his breath.

He made his way to a beat up shuttle, not far from the trading post.

“Did you get it?” a woman asked him as soon as he entered the shuttle, she was younger and shorter than him, her hair almost the same color as Jakku sand.

“Where’s Rey?” the man asked instead of answering her question.

“Out, playing. Did you get it?”

“No! The bastard won’t give me any credits for junk.”

“He has to, we need the credits. You have to convince him!”

“He offered me fifteen hundred credits for something.” he said, his eyes down.

The woman’s eyes widened. “Fifteen hundred, for what?”

“For Rey.”

“No! We can’t, I can’t,” the woman protested, “she’s our daughter!”

The man lifted his eyes to the woman, they shined with moisture. He cupped the woman’s face in his calloused hands. “We’re no good for her, you know that. She’d be better off without us.”

“No, she won’t, she loves us, I don’t know why, the poor thing, but she loves us.” Tears danced in the woman’s eyes.

“This piece of crap ship needs fuel to get off this goddamn planet, we don’t have any credits for that, we don’t have any credits for spice or grog. We’re going to die on this planet, all three of us.” The man wipped the tears off of the woman’s face. “Or we can save ourselves, all of us. Putt will take care of her, feed her. We can start new with those credits, we can come back for her, buy her back.”

The woman rubbed at her spice stained nose. “Fifteen hundred credits?”

The man nodded.

The image slowly faded into darkness. Rey dropped to her knees, she had been still the entire time, unable to process what she saw, what she heard, when the darkness swallowed her parents she couldn’t hold it any longer. She let out a long cry of rage, of pain. It echoed in the darkness. Hot tears were rolling down her cheeks.

Fifteen hundred credits, that was her worth in her parents eyes. She had waited over half of her life for them to come back, the parents that sold her off to feed their addiction. Were they really planning on coming back for her? Or did they just tell themselves that to feel better about selling their daughter off? It did not matter, she did not care anymore.

They had drunk and snorted their credits, their guilt and maybe their sorrow right into the grave. Didn’t even made it off of Jakku.

She felt the last piece of twine holding onto her parents frail and break, she was finally free of them. She hoped to one day be free of this pain too.

 

 

***

 

A notification popped up on Kylo’s screen. Retribution Star Destroyer was hailing his ship. “Hux!”

He took a deep breath and tried to quiet the sheer anger and fear that was itching at his soul. He turned the HoloNet on, a miniature Hux appeared.

“I have your Jedi,” Hux started as soon as the connection was made, “if I feel even one hair on my head move, I will make her scream with pain. Do you understand?”

Hux made sure he would be out of reach of Kylo’s powers, his order was a little test, to see if he had been right in thinking Ren would do anything to keep the girl safe.

Kylo snarled at him.

“I said,” Hux screamed, “do you understand?”

Kylo’s chin was shaking with rage, his nose crinkled. “Yes.” He growled.

“Good!” There was a wicked grin forming on Hux’s face. “Did you figure it out? How I set the trap you bit right into, or are you too stupid, even for that?” The miniature Hux started moving inside the confinements of the HoloNet.

Kylo said nothing.

“The problem with having powers ,” Hux started, more for himself than anyone else “is that they become second nature, Force users rely on them every day of their lives. I imagine it must be like breathing, or like walking, something one does without having to plan the steps, it’s automatic. That is where it can be used against you, where one with vision,” Hux gesticulated with his fist, “can manipulate it against them. All I had to do was give out the plan to the weak-minded General Ishayah, so simple, so easy.” There was pride in his voice.  

With a snarl and raised voice, Hux continued. “You thought you could trap me, you petulant child?” A fake, mocking laugh escaped him. “Did you think me a fool? A girl, capable of killing our Supreme Leader Snoke, all of the Praetorian Guards and kicking your pathetic ass at the same time? One girl against all of that?” He let out another mocking laugh.

“When I took your Jedi,” Hux barked, malice in his voice, “oh, you should have seen her face as I stepped out of the ship, it was a beautiful sight, I could see her heart break right in front of me.” Hux took a moment to savour the memory. “If you care for her as much as she does for you, then you will do as I say. If you do not, then… what is one dead Jedi to me?”

“No!”

“That’s what I thought.” The disgust in Hux’s voice was evident. “The Jedi killer and the last Jedi in love with each other, it would be almost poetic, if it weren’t so… pathetic.” He spit out the last word. “Pathetic!”

“If you touch one hair on her head I will…”

“You will what?” Hux screamed. “You will what?” He spat out every word.

The HoloNet followed Hux as he stomped towards something to the right of him. Rey’s body took shape inside it, she was unconscious on a low bed, her legs and hands bound.

Kylo’s heart jumped out of his chest. “Rey!”

Hux balled Rey’s hair in a fist and lifted her head up by it, her neck exposed, with another hand he produced a blade.

Kylo jumped up from his pilot chair. “No!” He yelled out reaching within the Force to stop Hux, to kill him, but he couldn’t reach him, feel him, Hux was too far.

“No!” He yelled out again, horror in his voice. “Please, don’t!”

With one swift move Hux cut off her hair. “You will do what?” He spat out again.

Kylo fell back in his chair, tears of anger, pain and guilt  flooded his eyes, his body shaking. He had never felt so helpless in his entire life, it was the worst feeling in the world.

Kylo bowed his head, tears falling out of his eyes, fists clenched. “I will do whatever you want, just please, don’t touch her again. Please, I am begging you.”

A grin was plastered on Hux’s face, he let Rey’s hair fall through his fingers to the floor. “That’s more like it.” He said, pleased with himself, pleased with Kylo’s humility.

Kylo’s eyes lifted up to Rey’s body, her chest was moving up and down slowly, this ordeal didn’t wake her, Kylo suspected she had been tranquilized. She would be a lot more manageable in that state, than awake.

Hux took the time to rearrange his uniform, then continued. “You shall surrender yourself to me in exchange for the girl. If you do not, I shall torture her until she begs for the release of death, and it will not come. I will bring her back from the brink of death just to do it again and again and again. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” Kylo said.

“I’ll send you the location.” Hux disconnected.

Rey was asleep, and he was still awake, she used to pull him in her dreams, and yet he was awake. He wondered if they had lost the dream connection as well, he wondered if he could find their old Force Bond again and be with her, hold her through this. But no matter how much he wanted that, there was no time for it, he had to be present in the here and now. He had to save her, so he stopped his lips from wobbling and buried all the emotions deep down inside him, for if he did not, he knew they would break him.

One of his monitors beeped, he had reached the Rebel’s planet. He wondered briefly if there were any left to help him, if they would help him, help Rey.

 

 

***

 

 

Chapter Text

 

***

 

“It was a trap!” Finn said looking out at the stormtroopers, his body bent over Rose’s, protecting her.

“Finn,” she slapped at his shoulder, “get off me!”

“I’m just…”

“I know babe, stop it!”

Finn moved to her side and she turned her eyes back to the stormtroopers.

Out of each transporter, four squads of stormtroopers made their way out, they aligned themselves perfectly into twelve rows of twelve troopers. Only one trooper stood out, the trooper took its place in front of the formation, its uniform the same as the rest, except for a full black armor on its right arm.

Rose and Finn found themselves sandwiched between the troopers and the temple, over 1000 feet away from where the troopers landed, under 1000 feet from the temple.

“Why isn’t anyone else seeing this?” Finn asked alarmed. “What’s going on?”

“They are, they have to, there’s people right there and yet…” Rose pointed to a small group of people just several feet away from the troopers.

The black armor trooper was making its way towards the small group of people.

“They knew this would happen!” Finn exclaimed. “This was who they were waiting for this entire time.”

The trooper stopped and exchanged a few words with one of the people in the group.

“Do you know this trooper?” Rose found herself asking.

“Nooo!” Finn made a face at her. “I don’t know every stormtrooper in existence!”

The black armor trooper signaled the rest of the troops to advance, the group of people followed, blasters in hand.

“We have to warn the others!” Finn exclaimed as he grabbed Rose’s hand and started running for the temple, dragging her behind.

“Poe’s friend,” Rose said through hard breaths, “he’s got to be in on this.” Rose was panting now. “How else did they make it past the shields?”

Finn skidded to a stop and turned to her.

“We…” Rose lifted up a finger for Finn to wait while she took in a few breaths, “don’t know…” inhale, “who else…” exhale, “is in on this.” She managed to finish.

Rose put her hands on her knees, her head bent down, gulping for air. “Ehh, Ehh, Ehh! Short legs…” she said pointing at herself.

“Our people aren’t in on this, we find them, grab them, get the hell out of here” Finn said.

“Not if they turn the shields back on. We have to either stay and fight, or take down the planetary shield control center and I don’t know where that’s at, do you?” Rose breath was back to normal.

Finn locked his jaw, grabbed an unwilling Rose’s hand and ran the remaining distance towards the temple, towards Poe.

They stopped running just feet away from the temple and took a few seconds to compose themselves.

Somehow the temple seemed bigger on the inside, it was at least thrice as long as it was wide. A few feet in, leaning on the side of the temple, in a poorly lit area, they spotted Poe talking with Noua, BB-8 at Poe’s feet.

“Hey, Poe, can I have a quick word with you?” Finn said with a crooked fake smile on his face.

“What’s up?” Poe asked.

Finn made come here hand movements towards Poe. “I just… I just need to run over a few things with you.”

Poe narrowed his eyes at Finn, but made no move towards him.

With the corners of his eyes, Finn managed to see Rose roll her eyes right before she stunned Noua with the same prod she used on Finn not too long ago.

Finn was impressed that Rose managed to also catch Noua before he hit the ground.

“What the hell?” Poe asked shock in his voice.

“Help me out!” Rose said through gritted teeth, trying to keep her victim vertical.

Both men lifted Noua up and held him there, like they were just having a chat.

“The last party,” Finn started “they got here, they’re stormtroopers!”

Poe’s eye widened.

“Yeah, it’s a trap, and you friend here,” Finn poked at the man, “gathered us all up for the taking.” 

“Do you know where the planetary shields control center is, we’re screwed if they turn the shields on while we make a run for it.” Rose interjected.

“And we don’t know who’s on our side, and who’s on the First Order’s side!” Finn added.

“Fuck!” Poe muttered under his breath. “Fuck! I don’t know where the shields are, let’s gather our people and fight. It’s the only chance we’ve got. I’ll get Chewie and we’ll cover you from above. Think you can lead our men on the ground?” Poe asked Finn.

Finn opened his mouth, then closed it, looked at Rose then opened it again. “I can do it!”

The couple made their way out of the temple with fast steps, as soon as they were out they ran for their friends. “I can do it!” Finn kept muttering under his breath.

“BeeBee-Eight, if he wakes up, zap him again!” Poe ordered as he ran for the Falcon.

The droid beeped in agreeance.

By the time Poe made his way out of the temple he saw the troopers just a couple hundred feet from it, their white armors shining blindingly in the light of the two suns. Between the troopers were dozens and dozens of men dressed in Resistance uniforms, Poe’s stomach turned at the sight of the Resistance soldiers fighting for the First Order.

There was no time to gather their men quietly, it was too late for that.

“We’re under attack!” Poe screamed at the top of his lungs, “Stormtroopers! We’re under attack!” He hoped that all the traitors were already with the troopers. It would make sense, it would keep friendly fire to a minimum that way. He hoped he was right as he ran for the Falcon, still yelling at the top of his lungs.

The Resistance soldiers took cover behind large crates, behind trees and ships, behind everything they could on this mostly barren beach, they were outnumbered. They clung to their weapons, waiting for the troopers’ move, waiting for them to get in reach of their weapons.

Finn’s blaster was pointed at the troopers, his brow slick with sweat. “ You can do this,” chanted in his head, “ You can do this.”  He looked at Rose, hiding behind a crate next to him, holding her breath, her hands clutched around a blaster. “ You can do this” he said again, and this time he knew he could.

The black armor Stormtrooper raised a fist and the advancing forces stopped. The trooper opened its fist and all of a sudden, as if on cue, more than half of the troopers raised their right hands to their masked faces and drew three diagonal lines in red paint.

Finn looked out in shock, his heart started racing as never before. Their masks looked like his had that night on Jakku, that night when he betrayed the First Order. Finn’s chin began to shake. Was this what they hoped to achieve with the this display, to take him off track, make him lose his focus? Was this payback for Phasma? Did this mean that they were singling him out for death? Or worse?

He had no time to ponder further, for the marked stormtroopers turned around and fired their blasters on the unmarked stormtroopers and the Resistance traitors in their ranks.

Finn could not believe his eyes, the stormtroopers were turning against each other. His stomach turned, he felt nauseous, for in his wildest of dreams, had always lived a flicker of hope he hadn't even dared put into words. “ What if I'm not the only one?”

He got up from behind his cover and ran for the stormtroopers, blaster in hand. “Don’t shoot the marked troopers!” he yelled out as loud as he could, “Don’t shoot the marked troopers!”

The rest of the Resistance followed in his footsteps.

 

***

 

“Choose!” Rey heard the same voice in the back of her mind and all of a sudden the darkness was washed away by starlight and Rey found herself in an open field under the light of millions of stars. In the middle of the field she saw Finn standing and looking up at the starry sky.

“Hi Rey!” He said and Rey was taken aback.

She ran in front of him. “Finn! Finn, can you see me?” He didn’t move. She started waving her hand in front of his face, he did not see her.

“It’s been almost a week,” Finn continued, “it’s been almost a week since you’ve been gone and I miss you so much. I don’t know if you can hear me, if there’s an afterlife for you. I hope there is, because I can’t imagine all of you gone, I just can’t."

Finn bowed his head, tears were filling his eyes.

Rey took a step back and shook her head gently, shock in her eyes.

“We made it Rey, we saved the galaxy, and it was all because of you. You should be here, we should be celebrating together.” A tear fell down his cheek and he wiped at it.

“I’m so sorry we didn’t get to you in time, Rey, I’m so sorry.” Finn looked up at the stars again and stayed quiet for a few moments.

“You united the entire galaxy, you and Kylo Ren. When he came to us, offering up the First Order in exchange for our help in rescuing you, it brought new hope to the galaxy, even the systems that never rose up under the First Order rule joined us in taking it down. Dozens of systems heard our call and came, and it was because of you.” The shadow of a smile that was crossing his face vanished. “I just wish it wasn’t at the expense of your life.”

A soft “I’m dead…” escaped Rey’s mouth. Her heart pounded in her chest so hard she felt like it was bouncing off the inside of her rib cage.

“I’ve only known you for a little while, I know, but Rey, your light had been…” his voice cracked.

Quiet sobs escaped him. “I don’t even know if you can hear me, I don’t know how this Force thing works, I just…” He trailed off.

“Maybe you can hear me, maybe you already know everything I’ve told you, maybe you’re out there somewhere among the stars watching us.” Finn whipped his tears in the crook of his elbow.

“I wish you would have told me about you and Kylo, I understand why you didn’t and it’s okay. I just wish you trusted me enough to do it. The Resistance has him, he’s been under arrest since that awful day, but I don’t think that matters to him much, I don’t think anything does anymore.” Finn exhaled sharply, twice, trying to regain composure, to fight away the tears behind his eyes.

“I don’t know what the New Galaxy Council will decide to do with him, I don’t think it will matter, all he does is sit and stare in the distance, he never talks, he never eats. He’s taken your death the hardest. I think he’s in limbo, waiting for death to come.” Finn exhaled again, his eyes were beginning to dry out.

“I wish I could hate him, he did try to kill me after all, my back still has the scars to prove it, but I can’t, somehow it doesn’t feel right anymore and I think it’s because of you, because he fought so hard to get you back, to save you.”

“I don’t know anything about you and him, about what you two had, but Rose says you loved him as much as he loved you, and I believe it. I think he’ll join you soon, Rey. I hope he finds you so you won’t be alone. I hope you find each other there, wherever it is that you are.”

Finn took one last deep breath and straightened his back.

“I love you Rey, you will always live in my heart.” Finn turned and started walking towards a cluster of lights in the distance.

Darkness was swallowing Rey again.

"I’m dead…" Rey thought. But she didn’t feel dead. She almost laughed at that. Feel dead. How would that feel, how would she know the difference, and yet she still felt tethered to life, to this plane of existence. "If I’m still alive, then is this the future, is this my future?" she thought.

“Who are you?” she asked the darkness. “Why are you showing me this?”

“Fight!” she heard in the back of her mind. “Fight it!”

Fight!" she mimicked. " Fight... " she thought for a second. "Does this mean I can change it? I can change what you're showing me?" she asked but there was no answer.

Rey didn't know who or what there was to fight but she readied herself. If death came for her, she would not go gently into the night.


***

 

The beach was covered with the marks of the battle, littered with shards of glass from the blaster bolts that found their way to the white sand, with the bodies of stormtroopers and Resistance fighters and traitors alike that laid where they had fallen, as the blasters bolts found their true mark.

Gathered by the temple was a group of people, some dressed in trooper armor, some in Resistance colors, others in plain, simple clothing. They were the survivors. Though their weapons were down, you could cut the tension with a knife.

A stormtrooper with one black armored arm took off its mask, underneath it slick brown skin and amber eyes shined in the suns light.

“They called me A-1084.” She said extending a hand towards Finn. “I’ve heard so much about you, FN-2187.”

Finn was flanked on either side by Rose and Poe. Chewie, the droids and all their friends, except the four that didn’t make it, were arranged into a semi circle behind the three. The rest of the Resistance fighters were scattered around them.

“It’s Finn!” he corrected her. He took her hand in his and shook it. “Call me Finn.”

The trooper nodded, looking Finn in the eyes.

“Okay!” Poe barged in, “Is anyone gonna tell me what’s going on? I mean,” he continued making hand gestures at the trooper, “we really appreciate your help A-uhm, A-something, but what the hell is goin’ on here? Stormtroopers aren’t know for helping out Resistance fighters…”

“We should talk.” The trooper said looking at Poe, then setting her eyes back to Finn.

She turned around to her troops, “Gather our dead,” she ordered them, “take their bodies out of the armors, they will not be laid to rest in the chains that bound them in life. We shall give them a proper farewell when I am done.”

She made her way between Poe and Finn and walked towards the temple entrance, the  Resistance moving out of her way as she passed.

"We should do the same for our dead." Poe said to his people.

 

 

“I was taken when I was six.” The Stormtrooper started once Finn, Poe and Rose gathered around her, inside the temple.

“I still remember my family, my world,” she continued looking at Finn, “their memory always stayed with me, no matter how much they tried to erase it, it always lingered.”

As she talked, she started removing her armor. “I believe I learned to hide the memories from them, to hide my true self from them, to be who they wanted me to be on the outside, while I saved as much of myself as I could on the inside.” She managed to remove all the armor from her arms.

“I am Edisa of Inasim” she spoke a little louder, prouder. “You, FN-2187….”

“Finn.” he corrected her.

Edisa blinked at him, then continued. “You, Finn , gave me and others the courage to start this… mutiny. There have always been people like me, that remembered who they were, if they had anything to remember, if they weren’t just taken as babies, like you were. There have always been the ones that even with all the reconditioning in the galaxy, could not be made to kill innocents.” A smile was crossing her face, “I believe that is why stormtroopers are not known for their accuracy with a blaster.” The smile disappeared off her face. “But most of us did what we had to in order to survive, to stay off their radar.”

She started taking off the armor on her legs. “I have looked for signs of others like me my entire life, I knew I could not be the only one, but as a matter of survival I knew the others would keep to the shadows, never show their true selves. That’s why it was so hard to have them join me, that is why my group of glitches follows me without question.” Her lips curled up the slightest bit. “That is what we are, glitches in the system, and damn proud about it.”

She removed the last piece of armor that was covering her torso.

She stood there in front one them, in skin tight black pants and shirt, the fabric clinged to her strong but feminine body. She ran her hands through her short, dark hair, it was wet with sweat.

“Word of your actions spread amongst the Stormtroopers, to most you were a disgrace, a traitor, but to others, to the ones that mattered, you were hope. A glitch like us, that freed himself, you gave us hope that we too could be free, free of the tyranny that has taken our free will, that has made us kill in their name, used us as cannon fodder.”

Finn kept quiet and motionless through all of this. His eyes were slick with moisture. He wasn’t alone, he wasn’t the only one. There was someone right in front of him that understood completely what it felt like to be a Stormtrooper, to be a glitch.

He took two steps closer to Edisa and wrapped her in a hug. It startled the trooper, her hands hovering in the air above Finn’s back, a confused look on her face.

Finn hugged her a little tighter and Edisa found herself letting go, and melting into the touch. It was the first one in more years that she cared to count. She felt something twisting in her stomach, something she never quite felt before. She cleared her throat and gently pushed Finn away.

“He’s a hugger” Rose found herself saying.

“Thank you!” Finn said, “If it weren’t for you and your people, we'd all be dead now.”

Rose nodded in agreeance.

“How did you get here?” Poe asked.

From the shadows a man’s grunt made its way to their ears.  

“Noua.” Edisa said and moved towards the man.

“He betrayed you, all of you, for one million credits.” There was a smile on her face, it was a wicked thing. Out of an invisible fold in her shirt she produced a small curved blade, in the shape of a claw.

“Hux gave me the mission to kill you all, he even offered Finn on a plate to me.” The smile on her face grew. “Once I knew you would be here I had to act fast.” She inched the blade towards the groggy Noua. “I gathered as many of my people as I could and gave them the plan.” She pushed the blade inside Noua’s chest until it broke the skin. The man was startled awake, his eyes wide, his body still unable to move from the electro prod and BB8’s zaps.

Finn made a move to stop her, but Poe put his arm in front of him, keeping him in place.

“I found out about Noua through my people. Stormtroopers are the best spies,” she said looking back at the three, “they are everywhere, nameless, faceless, blending in the background, nobody pays any attention to them.”

She turned and faced Noua again. “We were just talking about you.” she said with that wicked smile. “Would you be so kind as to tell us why you betrayed your friends?” she asked pushing the blade a little further in.

The man screamed.

“Ah, your tongue is working, good.” Edisa commented. “Don’t make me ask again.”

Noua looked behind Edisa and the three, his eyes focused on Poe’s, they were begging for help.

Poe’s eyes were as cold and they were uncaring.

“What’s the point?” Noua started. “What’s the point of fighting the First Order? They always win, always, and we’re left with pieces, pieces of our friends, of our family, pieces of the people that we used to be. I am tired of fighting an endless war.” He blurted out then took a long pause, his eyes looking far in the distance. His face put on a mask of defiance as he continued.  “So I chose to live, and to enjoy my life on the First Order’s tab. I chose the path that didn’t lead to my death.”

As soon as he finished Edisa took the blade out of his chest and sliced it across his throat.

Rose turned and buried her face in Finn’s shoulder. Poe just looked down at Noua’s body, his jaw clenched.

“I do not care for being made to kill innocents. He was not innocent.” Edisa clarified as she whipped her blade on Noua’s pants.

"There is much to be done." she said as she made her way out of the temple.

The three followed in her footsteps, again.

 

 

***

 

 

Hux was looking through the glass door of the medbay at his prisoner. She was strapped by her hands and feet to one of the beds, still unconscious.

He felt an urge to go inside and poke at her with something, he wasn’t sure why. Maybe because she seemed to be sleeping too peacefully, maybe because her and her band of misfits had been the pebble in his shoe for far too long.

“General,” one of the medics approached Hux, “the prisoner’s in good shape, she’s still under sedation, we’re monitoring…”

“Make sure she doesn’t wake up,” Hux interrupted. “She’s stronger than she looks and I don't want any trouble, give her another dose.”

“But General, too much can cause serious side effects, cardiopulmonary arrest, brain damage, even death… 

“I just need her alive, I don’t care if she’s... damaged.” Hux spat. 

“Give her the dose!” he ordered and the medic knew there was nothing more to say.

The medic pressed a few buttons on his pad and a droid hovered over Rey’s body producing a syringe filled with a white, viscous substance. With another push of a button it injected the substance in her medial vein.

 

 

***

 

 

There was something in the darkness, something that was coming for her, she felt it before she saw it, like a shiver that traveled up her entire body. Rey instinctively tried to run from it, but it caught her by a foot, it was white and viscous and it was slowly making its way up her leg, encompassing it in white goo. 

She tried to shake it off but it wouldn’t budge, grabbed at it with her hands, pulled at it, but her hands came out unsuccessful, covered in goo.

“Fight it!” she heard again in her mind.

“How?” She yelled out into the darkness. She was not expecting to fight whatever this viscous liquid was. The goo was making its way further up her body. “I don’t know how!” she yelled out again.

“Contain it!” she thought she heard in the faintest of voices.

“Contain it? What does that mean, contain it?” her mind was racing for answers. “Contain it, contain it!” panic was inching its way inside her as the goo traveled up her abdomen.

“Think! Think! Think! Come on Rey!” She said to herself. There was nothing around but the darkness and the goo, the goo that was now reaching up to her breasts. There was nothing to contain the goo in, just the darkness, the darkness and... the Force.

Rey closed her eyes and concentrated as hard as she could. In her mind’s eye she saw the Force, it looked like a flicker in reality, like the hottest days in Jakku when the desert sand seemed to shine with shimmering water, it looked like a mirage. It was everywhere, even in this darkness, especially in this darkness, it surrounded her, it surrounded even the goo that was inching up her torso.

“Please help me!” she begged into the Force, to the Force, as she moved her hands to where she saw the shimmer of the Force. With gritted teeth and grunts of effort she wrapped the white goo inside the Force. She opened her eyes and looked at her body, it was free of the goo, she looked around for it but she could not see it, when she looked up Rey could see the white goo moving inside it’s shimmering container, morphing it with it’s movements. A small drop managed to escape it’s confinement and landed on Rey’s forehead, before she had the time to wipe it away it was absorbed by her body. She moved away from underneath it, but it followed her, always hovering above her, always dripping. One drop at a time.

 

Chapter Text

***

 

Hux had gotten word that Supreme Leader Kylo Ren had left his ship and the First Order. He knew he wouldn’t dare use the First Order to help out his Jedi, but the confirmation still brought a smile to his face.

In his mind’s eyes Hux was climbing up the stairs to the throne, just a few more steps and he would crown himself Supreme Leader, he would get to sit on the hard, black throne, and he would be a proper leader, not one ruled by mysticism like Snoke, nor a petulant child, like Ren. He would be a great leader, a feared leader. The entire galaxy would speak of his actions for millennia.  

Only a few more pieces were left to be put in place, he could almost taste it.
He entered the command center, twelve hologram uniformed men were sitting in a circle, Hux made his way through one of the holograms and stood in the middle.

“There is much to discuss” He started with a smirk.

 

***

 

Rey felt the cool summer breeze hitting her skin before the world around her changed. She found herself on a balcony looking out on a lake.  The breeze was blowing the pale blue curtains inside the stone house, through them she saw a handful of toys flying over a white crib. She made her way towards it, slowly.

In the crib a little girl with big brown eyes and black hair wiggled her feet inside a purple polkadot onesie, as her hands were moving, so were the toys above her crib.

Rey looked up at the toys then smiled down at the little girl, she had never seen a Force user so young, but then again, she only knew of two Force users. There was something about the little girl that looked almost familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it. Rey knew nothing about children, but to her, the child looked to be halfway through her second year of life.

“Hi baby!” She found herself saying and waving at the little girl, a big smile on her face.

The little girl turned her eyes away from the floating toys and towards Rey, a matching  smile was forming on the child’s face.

“You can see me?” Rey exclaimed, a little startled, a little excited.

The little girl chuckled in response.

“You can hear me too!” Rey said, as the realization dawned on her.

The girl started moving her little feet and arms around at the sight of Rey, the smile on her tiny face widening further.

“What’s your name, baby?” Rey found herself asking, knowing the child couldn’t answer.

The little girl extended her hands towards Rey, and she found herself extending a finger back, but when the girl tried to grab her finger, it went right through her.

The little girl frowned and looked up confused.

“I’m sorry, baby” Rey apologized, disappointment in her voice. She wanted to touch the child, hold her, smell her dark baby hair.

Gibberish came out of the little girl in the form of a question, her eyes locked on Rey’s.

“Oop! Oop!” the little girl said moving her arms to be lifted out of the crib, a smile on her tiny face.

“I’m sorry, I can’t. I wish I could.”

“Oop! Oop!” the little girl said again, sitting on her butt. “Oop! Oop!” she said as she tried to stand up and all of a sudden the toys that were floating above the crib fell down around her, a green wooden square hit her in the head, she started crying, sharp, loud, baby cries.

“It’s okay baby, you’re all right!” Rey didn’t know what to do, she wanted to hold the child, to calm her, to comfort her but she couldn’t.

“You’re okay baby, don’t cry,” Rey tried to appease her “it’s just a little bump, you’re okay.”

The door opened and a boy made his way though it with fast steps. He had the same dark hair and big brown eyes and looked to be about eight years of age. When he reached the crib he picked the little girl up.

“Come here, baby!” he said putting her little head on his child sized shoulder.

“What happened?” he asked as he rocked her up and down.

The little girl blurred unintelligible sounds through sobs.

“Yes, I’m here, I got you, baby.” The boy kissed the top of her head and started pacing with her in his arms.

“I see you’ve been floating the toys again,” the boy said, “you know you’re not supposed to do that.”

A spew of gibberish came in response.

“It’s okay, I’m not gonna tell on you.”

The little girl rubbed at her eyes then smiled at her brother. “Mama!” she said.

“She’s in the next room with dada.”

“Mama!” the girl said again then pointed at Rey. “Ma-ma!”

The breath was knocked out of Rey.

The little boy looked in the direction his sister was pointing, he looked right into Rey’s eyes and frowned, a puzzled expression on his face. Rey’s heart stopped.

His sister had pointed at the wall, there was nothing there but air, he shook his head and set his eyes back to his sister. “Let’s go see mama and dada.” the boy said as he made his way out of the room.

The little girl waved her little hand at Rey as her brother carried her out of the room. Her little white ears were poking out from her wavy dark hair.

Rey inhaled sharply, hungrily, it still didn’t feel like enough air was filling her lungs. She put her hands on her knees and started panting, gulping for air that refused to enter her lungs. Her heart was racing, her head dizzy. She felt her knees give out and the floor came up to meet her.

Those eyes, those children’s eyes, they were the same eyes that greeted her every time she looked in a mirror, and their faces, a mix of hers and Ben’s.

Muffled voices came through the opened door. They were happy voices blended together with the crystal laugher of children.

Tears danced right at the edge of her eyes, air was filling up her lungs again. She didn’t know what she was feeling. She had spent so much time and energy thinking of her parent’s return that she never even considered a family of her own.

She remembered the other vision she had, how it was impossible for both to come to being. “Choose” she had heard in the back of her mind.

“Is this what could be?” She asked. “Are they really mine? Are they really mine and Ben’s?” She was getting up with urgency. She had to know for sure, she had to see it, she ran through the open door and found herself in a long hallway, the muffled voices were getting louder, she made her way towards the next open door, just two more steps and she would be at the door, looking in, seeing what she wanted to see, what she needed to see.

The world around her was being swallowed by darkness again, “No!” she cried out as she turned to look inside the room. “Let me see, let me see them!” But the darkness took them.
Rey found herself alone in the darkness.

“Why are you doing this to me?" She asked the darkness in a broken voice.

“Choose.” it said again.

The faces of the children were still burned on her retina.

 

***

 

The stormtroopers and rebels had worked together gathering their dead. The beach was still littered with bodies, the bodies of unmarked troopers and Resistance traitors, nobody seemed to care for their remains.

The troopers gathered dried palm trees and built a funeral pyre, on top of it they placed the bodies of fallen friends. The Resistance had done the same.

There were two large pyres, just a hundred feet from each other, their black and brown contrasting with the white sand of the beach. All the survivors were gathered in two groups around the pyres.

“I am sorry I could not bring you freedom in this life,” Edisa said, her eyes on the pyre, “but you are free now. May your essence travel the galaxy and find it’s resting place.” She nodded at one of her men and he lit the fire.

On the other side Poe was saying a few words to his group.

In the middle, between the two funeral pyres, and a little further in the back, Finn stood. Back straight, clenched fists and locked jaw. Rose was sitting quietly by his side, her gaze towards the fire. The flames were encompassing the bodies in shades of red and orange.

Finn squeezed his fists harder, until his nails were digging into flesh, until he almost drew blood. His Adam’s apple began to wobble, he turned and started walking towards the jungle with rapid steps. Rose gave him an advance then followed in his footsteps.

 

 

In the corners of her eyes, Edisa saw Poe make his way towards her, slowly but determined.

“I am sorry for your loss,” he said when he reached her, “I know we are still standing because of their sacrifice. I appreciate that, I do.” Poe finished, his eyes on hers.

“We did it for ourselves as much as, if not more, than anything else.” She said, glossy eyes still on the pyre. “They were so close to freedom…” she trailed off.

Poe bowed his head.

“I should give my report to Hux.” Edisa said, taking a deep breath, and Poe’s eyes widened on her, his heart starting a marathon in his chest.

“He will know something is wrong if I don’t,” she continued, “I will tell him I killed you personally, you and Finn both, he will enjoy that.”

Poe gulped without realizing and a shadow of a smile crossed Edisa’s face.

She started making her way towards the Resistance ship they used to arrive to this planet. Poe followed, matching his steps with hers.

“You don’t trust me,” she noted, looking him up and down, “I like that about you.”

Poe’s lips curled upwards just the slightest.

 

***

 

Kylo pushed a button on the shuttle’s dashboard and a memory drive ejected. On it he had downloaded all the information he had possessed regarding the First Order. Locations of bases, tracking IDs for some of the ships, stormtroopers training facilities, names of spies and First Order soldiers and sympathizers.  Inside one memory drive lay all was needed to take down the First Order. That, and a lot of fire power.

He hoped it would be enough to trade Rey’s life for it.

He was nervous and… scared, like he had ever been before, not even the night he woke up with Luke’s lightsaber hanging over his head, the same night he had to fight his way through his Padawan friends.

He was scared the Resistance would not help him, he was scared they would kill him before he had a chance to plead for Rey’s life. He wasn’t scared for his though, he knew he most likely had to trade his life for hers. If that was the price he had to pay, then he was willing and ready to pay it.

He flew the ship in stealth mode down towards the beacon’s signal, it was moving deep inside the jungle. In the distance, on the beach he could see two large fires. He landed it on the other side of the jungle, away from the fires.

Kylo ran out of his shuttle and followed the beacon’s signal on his holopad, he didn’t know who had the beacon, he suspected it would be either the one he tortured, or the one he tried to murder. Neither of them would be too pleased to see him.  

 

***

 

Finn was fighting the tears that were trying to escape the confinement of his eye. He was staring out into nothing, his mind miles away. He could vaguely hear the crack of footsteps on fallen leaves behind him.

When Rose reached him she said nothing, instead she planted her butt on a small boulder and waited, pulling at a leaf in her hands.

She waited for a long time until Finn finally spoke. “All of us were just children, most of us babies,” he took a deep breath, “all of us had families that we never really knew and never will.”

He turned and looked at her. “They took us, and they twisted us into something that we weren’t meant to be, into something cruel and evil.” He took another long pause.

“That night on Jakku, it wasn’t my first mission, there were others, a few battles were I fired my blaster and…” He looked up at the sky, head bent backwards hoping gravity would pull the tears back inside his ducts. “…and I know some bolts reached their marks.”

“On Jakku…” his voice cracked, “it was different, it wasn’t war, it wasn’t …” He trailed off. “When Kylo Ren gave the order to kill them all… it was just a pointless slaughter of innocents, of children, that, I could not do.”

Rose got up and made her way towards him with slow, steady steps, like she was approaching a frightened animal.

“Nobody cared if we lived or died, that’s what we were there for, to kill and be killed in the name of a stupid fucking war.” He kicked at the dirt, a loud angry scream escaped him.

Rose stopped.

“I know I’ve never mentioned my time as a trooper, I know I’ve almost acted like it was nothing, but it wasn’t.” He turned and looked Rose in the eyes, shaking his head.

“It was my life, Rose.” The tears had won the fight, they were rolling hot down his cheeks.  “It was all I knew, my entire life, that was all I knew. They were my friends, they were my family, there was a bond…”

Rose closed the distance between them and wrapped him in a hug. He put his weight on her, and she held him there for a long while, supporting him, caressing him, body and soul.

“I spend many sleepless nights over the years wondering if there were others like me, others that didn’t see any point in this war, others that didn’t care for killing people.” He finally spoke into her embrace. “Now I know that there were, that still are, I could have done what Edisa did, I could have gathered them up, saved them, some of them, but I didn’t do any of that.”

He removed himself from her embrace, suddenly not feeling worthy of it.

“I didn’t do anything but save my own skin, and still they see me as some kind of hero… an inspiration.” he said the last word in an almost mocking tone. “Can you imagine, me, an inspiration?” He started pacing, moving his hands as he spoke.

“And now I know there is hope for them, and I don’t know if that’s worse than thinking there wasn’t any.”

“I can’t just write them all off anymore, not when I know we can save some of them, maybe we can even reverse the conditioning,” he stopped pacing and looked Rose in the eyes again, “but how can a handful of former stormtroopers do all that?

He took a step towards her, his face graver than she’d ever seen it. “And how do I live with myself thinking they’re out there hiding, suffering and I can’t help them?”

“How do I go on without thinking of the children they’ll keep taking, of the troopers that broke through that they’ll keep reconditioning, keep breaking them again and again until there is nothing left running through their veins, their minds but obedience and hunger for war.”

Rose cupped a hand to his cheek and looked up to him, there was nothing but warmth and love on her face. “You don’t, because that’s not who you are not anymore. You’re going to do what’s right Finn, you’re going to…”

“FN-2187.” A deep voice interrupted them.

Finn turned around and saw Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. He looked nothing like he remembered from that night in the forest when he had tried to kill him.

He looked almost scared, one side of his face bore a long scar that wasn’t there the last time he saw him, the other side was flaked with something red, like dried blood, his pale skin showing underneath it.

Finn was taken aback for a second, but just a second. His blood started boiling in his veins, the long scar on his back ached at the sight of Kylo, remembering that night on Starkiller base, that night on Jakku when he order the murder of innocents.

He reached for his blaster but he came empty handed, he didn’t have it with him.

Rose looked from Finn to the man dressed in black. She hadn't seen him before, he wasn't a part of the group and his face, however much of it she could see, was unfamiliar. She knew that whoever he was, Finn did not care for him, so she didn't either. She reached for her electro prod quietly, slowly.

Finn was already advancing on Kylo, swinging a fist in his direction. Kylo dodged his right hook, then his left, taking a step back.

"I'm not here to fight!” he said through the dodging.

“Stop!” Kylo knew he could just freeze him in place, but he didn't want to antagonize the man, he needed him, so he gritted his teeth and when the trooper went for another left hook, Kylo let it connect. He knew the stormtrooper needed an outlet for his anger towards him, and he knew he deserved it.

With the corners of his eye he saw the woman shoving something in his direction, he had enough time to stop it from connecting with his body, when he tried to slap it out of her hands it sent bolts of electricity down his body. It wasn't a direct hit, he wasn’t knocked out, but it still hurt like hell. A cry of pain escaped him as the prod dropped to the jungle floor.

He had just enough time to see FN going in for another punch, he let that one connect too, it connected with his right temple. Kylo stumbled backwards, his ears ringing, the former trooper had a mean hook.

Finn was on him before he had a change to regain his balance, punching the other side of his face, flakes of dried blood combined with drops of fresh blood flew from his face.

Kylo was getting angry, his vision was beginning to blur in shades of dark red.

“Stop!” He said again as he caught FN’s next punch in his hand. He could see the surprise and rage in the former troopers’ eyes.

“Hux has Rey!” He snarled at him, pushing him back by his fist.

Finn stumbled backwards, disbelieve and a million questions danced in his eyes.

“He found your hideout.” The Supreme Leader continued, “He took Rey, and he killed Leia, he murdered my mother.”

“You’re Kylo Ren!" escaped Rose’s lips, her feet taking a step backwards out of instinct at the realization. “He’s Kylo Ren and he just called Leia his mom… so he’s also Ben Solo.” Rose thought, her head spinning. “Shit!”

In the few seconds it took for her to think of that, Finn was advancing on Kylo Ren again, fists up, ready for another swing. “ Finn is advancing on Kylo Ren,” she realized, “ and we’re still alive, and unhurt. His lightsaber is still in its holster and the Supreme Leader kept pleading with Finn. Shit!”

Rose stepped between them, placing a hand on Finn’s chest and hovering the other one in front of Kylo, not daring to touch him.

“I think he’s telling the truth. Hear him out.” Rose said, hoping she was right, hoping Finn would listen.

“How did you find us?” Finn spit out, not ready to accept the man he hated so much was telling the truth.

Kylo took out the beacon. “Leia gave it to me, to guide my way to you.”

Although it wasn’t emitting any heat, the beacon Finn carried started to feel like a red, burning coal against his leg.

“Rey!” Finn breathed out, unclenching his fists.



***

 

There were voices in the darkness, distanced and muffled, but voices nonetheless. She focused on them, a sense of terrible dread overcame her the closer they got. There was something wrong.

The darkness was inching in on her, engulfing her in completely, until she could no longer see anything, nothing but impenetrable dark.

She rubbed at her eyes, closing them and opening them several times, nothing. She rubbed at them again then opened them, her vision was blurry, darkness still clung to the corners of her eyes but a muddy picture was being painted in front of her.

She was at the edge on a structure of sorts, like a suspended  long podium, beneath it she could make out a sea of uniforms and troopers. She was laying on the ground, her hands and feet cuffed. Not too far in front of her she could see two shapes both painted in black, one standing and talking, the other on its knees.

A sense of dread surged through her as she tried to focus on the shapes, the sound coming out of one of them was still muffled.

The dark standing figure finished its speech, then produced a stick that turned into light.

“My lightsaber” she thought.

With eyes still foggy she saw the saber go up, then down in a blur of blue. She heard a horrible thud, like something hitting the ground. She rubbed at her eyes trying to see better, the standing figure bent down and picked something like a ball with hair, showing it to the masses below.

That was the last thought she had before she felt a pain stronger than anything she thought possible, worse than she could have ever imagined. It felt like her body, her soul had been shredded apart by ten thousand angry, sharp talons, like someone picked up the broken mess that remained and threw it in a sea of salt. Like something was pulling her under the water, salt filling her lungs, burning her from the inside, choking her, drowning her. She tried to breath, but with every breath her lungs just filled with more salt water, she felt like a drowning victim, without the release of death.

It was unbearable, excruciating, debilitating. She lay on the podium, her entire world was pain and yet her mouth did not move to scream, to yelp, her eyes did not unleash any tears. She lay there for an eternity, she lay there for a handful of seconds.

Surprisingly, her eyes were adjusting and she saw what she feared, what she knew the pain had meant.

Ben’s body lay on the ground, part of him was missing and she understood what the thud had been, what Hux was displaying for the crowds. With the realisation something inside her twisted and broke in ways she didn’t think possible.

Her face had been a mask of pain, but now it was a horrible mask of sheer rage.

With one mental gesture she unlocked her cuffs. She felt the stormtroopers behind her trying to stop her, one even managed to shoot a blaster at her before she broke their necks with one finger’s movement, not even turning her head.

Hux was still holding on to that part of Ben, still talking over the roar of the people beneath them. More blaster shots came at her, she felt them as soon as the triggers were pressed, she stopped them without even thinking.

 

Hux turned at the commotion and saw her, she was standing on her own two feet now, her face a predatory snarl, uncontrollable hatred in her eyes. Hux dropped his human trophy as he reached for his blaster, the trophy rolled towards its former body.

With a thought, Rey froze Hux in place and called her lightsaber to her hand. A growing sea of blaster shots froze in mid air around them, draping them in pulsating red. With one twitch of her head, with eyes sticked on Hux, she sent the blaster bolts back to their owners, screams and the sounds of fallen bodies came instantly.

In the distance she could hear more blasters being fired, explosions going off, it did not matter, all that mattered was her rage and Hux. She turned her lightsaber on and advanced on him.

“NO!” Hux managed to croak, sheer horror and panic dancing in his eyes.

A wild scream came out of Rey as she dropped the lightsaber down unto his body. She screamed with every stroke, louder, angrier, more broken, she screamed and screamed until there was nothing recognizable left of Hux, until her stamina ran out, until her throat was raw. Until the realization of what she just lost hit her, until screams turned into sobs, until rage turned back into pain, into desperation.

For the first time she turned to look at Ben, at his body, a raspy cry of pain escaped through an open mouth. Her eyes moved from his body to his severed head, all she could see was his dark hair.

“Ben!” she cried out, a voice so ragged it was barely a whisper. She took a step towards him, her eyes locked on him, she had to see him, she had to.

“Oh Gods, Oh Gods!” she thought she heard as she took another step.

“Rey!” She heard the same voice again. “Rey, honey, look at me!” She knew that voice, it was Rose’s. “Please just look at me!” The voice came from the other side of Ben’s body. Rose’s hands were extended towards Rey, pleading, begging. “Rey, please don’t look down!”

Rey looked up at Rose then back at Ben, her mouth was open, something like a low hum of pain vibrated in her throat, tears falling down her face.

The podium began to shake.

“Finn!” Rose yelled looking for him, then turned her attention back to Rey. “Rey, honey please just look at me!” There were tears dancing in Rose’s eyes. “This is not how you want to remember him.” she pleaded with her.

A hairline crack was forming  and rapidly widening through the suspended podium.

“Finn!” Rose yelled louder.

A muffled “Shit! Shit!” came from behind Rose as Finn took in the scene in front of him.

“Rey!” he said loudly and Rey turned her head to him.

Finn had his hands up in a defensive position, he took small steps towards her. “Rey, I gotchu. I gotchu!”

The podium was shaking violently, the tip of it breaking off and dropping below.

Finn managed to bridge the distance and wrap Rey in a hug, she hugged him back and let herself go, her crying turning into violent blubbering. He lifted her into his arms and carried her off the podium. It shattered as soon as their feet were off of it, taking with it the remains of Ben Solo.

Chapter Text

 

Rey woke up gulping for air, like a diver breaking the water surface long after running out of air. She gulped at it hungrily, the world around her turned back into the now familiar darkness and she had never been happier for it.

It wasn’t real.” she thought, and a wave of relief crashed over her.

“It wasn’t real!” she proclaimed into the darkness, half laughing, half crying. “It didn’t happen! It didn’t happen yet. I can change it!”

“How do I change it?” she yelled out.

The darkness didn’t answer.

She wrapped everything that she was feeling into a mental box and hid it deep down inside her. She could either replay the vision a million times in her head, skinning away a layer of her soul with every replay, or she could collect herself and try to change it. She chose the latter.

There were no tears in her eyes, just a phantom pain that lingered in her soul and unmovable determination, when she vowed into the darkness.

“I will not let it come to pass!”

Rey played back the vision, it was fresh and raw in her mind, she was looking for ways to act faster, to change the outcome. Even though her vision had been foggy, she still remembered every thing, every little detail, every sound. She didn’t hide away from any of it, not the horrible sound of Ben’s head hitting the floor, even though she knew it would haunt her forever, nor the sight of his broken body, she needed to see everything, to memorize every second of it.

Hux had them both on the podium, that was a mistake, she knew. He must have thought he was in control of the situation, in control of both her and Ben.

A white drop fell on her at that moment, she looked up to it, remembering the grogginess she felt in the vision. She didn’t know how much time had past since Hux came to their planet, time had lost meaning in this place, but she should have been awake by now, unless something was keeping her asleep, unless she was sedated.

“So that’s how he’s controlling me, by knocking me out.” She thought out loud.

Her eyes narrowed on the white goo above her, she tried to twist the Force around it, tried to stop the leak. Another drop fell, this time where her left eye met her nose. It hadn’t worked.

“Shit!” Rey cursed as she rubbed at her eye, even though the drop was instantly absorbed into her body, it still stung.

In a closed system, matter cannot be created or destroyed.” She had read that somewhere or heard it, she wasn’t sure.

“So, I can’t get rid of you.” She said out loud again, her eyes on the goo. “That means I only have a few seconds to save Ben.” She felt a little silly talking to herself, but it helped put her thoughts in order, and she wasn’t alone, was she? The darkness was listening. The darkness showed her what would happen and it now waited for her to figure out a way out of it. She was sure of it, what other possible reason could it have for showing her all this? She started pacing.

She played the vision in her head again. She remembered perfectly how groggy and out of it she felt until the pain of losing Ben woke her up from it, how debilitating that grogginess had felt.

“I can’t bet Ben’s life on not waking up groggy and out of it this time.”

“So besides having only seconds to act, I won’t be able to do much to either…. Great!”

A loud, long scream of anger escaped her, her hands balled into fists. She really wished she had something to punch or kick right now. She didn’t, so instead she slumped to the floor, her butt hitting it with a painful thump. She ignored the pain and replayed the scene again. There had to be something, there had to.

She opened her eyes, she was groggy, but she knew she was on a podium, Hux was talking, making a speech, Ben was kneeling, his hands cuffed behind his back, Hux finished his speech, he turned on her lightsaber and with one swift move he cut Ben down.

Rey swallowed hard, her nails digging into her fists. Mental box or not, seeing the man you love die in front of you still hurt like hell. She brought forwards visions of herself attacking Hux, killing him. It made her feel a little better.

A little huff of laughter escaped her. The thought of killing Hux had made her feel better. “I’m turning into Kylo Ren.” she said.

“Having the person you love most in the galaxy be killed in front of you, with your lightsaber, would do that to a girl.” she assured herself.

She figured Hux had chosen her lightsaber instead of a blaster, or any of the other thousands of weapons available to the First Order, as some sort of poetic bullshit, or maybe a one last fuck you to Ben, to Kylo. Having him be cut down by his lover’s weapon.

If Hux knew that Kylo had been the one to built her lightsaber in the first place, he would probably have enjoyed using it on him even more, think it even more poetic. God, she hated Hux so much, not just because of her vision, but because of what he had done to her and to Leia. She couldn’t wait to run her lightsaber through him.

She thought about that for a moment, until. Hux killed Ben with her lightsaber . Something finally clicked in her head, she sat quietly, unmoving while her mind ran with the idea.

“It was you all along,” she said to the darkness, “you put the idea in his head. You knew what would happen.”

 

***

 

Kylo looked at Rose with an incredulous look on his face.

“Look, the only way you’re gonna make it to the camp alive is if you act like you’re our prisoner.” She coerced.

“We could just let them kill him.” Finn bickered.

“Finn!” Rose said in a way that meant you’re not helping.

Finn moved his hands into an I’m just sayin’ gesture.

“I’m gonna walk in front of you, so that they won’t shoot on sight and Finn is going to be behind you, holding the electro prod to your back, like you’re our prisoner.” Rose continued explaining.

Kylo let out a sharp breath through his nostrils. “There’s no time for this…” he started.

“I know! The longer you two bitch about it, the longer it takes, so just do what I say.” Rose almost yelled out the last part.

Kylo blinked at her then narrowed his eyes towards Finn. “If you touch me with that thing I swear…” Kylo said, leaving no doubt in his voice that Finn would not like the outcome.

“You know that just makes me want to electrocute you even more, right?” Finn retorted.  

Rose softly cursed them both under her breath, then extended a hand towards Kylo.

He looked at her hand confused.

“I should be holding on to your lightsaber.”

Kylo did something he never thought possible, he took half a step back. He was by no means scared of this spunky woman half his size, or her ex-stormtrooper boyfriend, but if he was to play this game, it made sense to hand her his lightsaber, except, that from the moment he built it until now, no one had ever touched his lightsaber, no one except Rey, in the throne room, when she snatched it from his belt.

Rey!

Without a second thought, he planted the lightsaber in her hand. “Let’s go!”

And so they went.  Rose in the front, acting as protection for Kylo against trigger happy rebels, Finn in the back as the capturer, but also as protection for Rose, in case Kylo got any ideas. Finn almost hoped he would look at her funny, he still felt like he owed Kylo at least a few more punches but a few thousand volts of electricity would be even better. Kylo however had not looked at her funny.

They moved like that through the jungle, staying away from the sand, keeping under the cover of the palms until they reached the temple.

They managed to sneak in unseen. Finn and Rose could not believe their luck. Kylo, on the other hand, had been busy turning the rebels’ eyes away from him. He might not be a Jedi, but he knew all of their tricks.

They settled into a dark corner of the temple, away from prying eyes.

“Go get Poe.” Rose said to Finn.

Finn made a face at her. “No! I’m not leaving you here alone with… with… him .”

“I’m fine.” Rose said. “We’ll be fine. It’s the two of you that I can’t leave alone. I can’t leave the wolf and the goat alone.”

Finn blinked at her then pointed a finger in her direction, affronted. “Now listen!” he started objecting.  “I am not the goat in this!”

She cupped his cheeks and gave him a peck. “It’s okay, babe, that makes me the cabbage.”

Kylo rolled his eyes at them.

“I saw that!” Finn said taking a step backward, towards the temple entry. “If you even look at her funny…” he started.

“I won’t.” Kylo interrupted him, then turned his back to both Finn and Rose, making a point.

As soon as he felt Finn leave the temple, he turned back around.

“How did you get past the planetary shields?” Rose asked him.

Kylo noticed the electro prod was back in its usual place on her waist, Finn must have given it to her, or she took it back from him. She didn’t trust him. It made sense, he wouldn’t have trusted himself either, if he were in her shoes, plus he didn’t trust them either.

He needed them to save Rey. That was all he really cared about, and if he had to go through them to save Rey, he would. “You promised her you wouldn't hurt them, she will never forgive you if you do."  Said a voice in his head. He hoped he wouldn’t have to go through them.

“There were no active shields.” Kylo answered.

“I gotta find that damn control panel.” Rose thought out loud. “Hey, good thing they weren’t on, I guess.” She continued awkwardly.

“We’ll get Poe to help, we will.” Rose said after a long pause, her voice soft.

Kylo made a noncommittal gesture.

“Either way, you’ll have me and Finn.” There was a shy smile on her face. “He loves Rey more than he hates you.”

Kylo’s lips turned up into a little smile, the first one in a while. The first one anyone other than Rey had seen in many, many years.

Rose smiled inwardly. “Not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love” she thought.

 

***

 

“Make yourself comfortable.” Edisa said to Poe as they made their way through the ship’s doors.

Although the Resistance ship looked incredibly ordinary on the outside, the inside of it was filled with First Order tech, so much so that Poe had a hard time finding his way around it.

“That is…. sneaky.” Poe said and Edisa responded with a smile.

She made her way to the pilot seat and Poe followed in her steps.

“Oh no!” she objected. “The only way you’re gonna be in the cockpit is if you’re dead.”

Poe looked at her for a few seconds. “You know, you really need to learn how to phrase things better.”

“You got my point didn’t you?” Edisa complained.

“I’ll wait outside while you chat with General Hugs, wouldn’t want him to catch a glimpse of all of this,” he made a hand gesture towards his body, “still alive.” Poe said as he made his way out of the cockpit, closing the door behind him.

“See! You did get it!” Edisa yelled after him through the closed door.

Poe waited behind the door, his head leaning back on it. He could hear every word of their conversation.

Edisa had informed Hux that they have managed to kill all of the Resistance at a great cost to both stormtroopers and the rebel traitors. She also informed him that Noua had been killed during the fighting.

Poe thought himself a good human lying detector, but even though he knew the story Edisa was weaving for Hux was complete bullshit, she sounded as sincere as a child describing her day to a friend. Poe had to admit, he was impressed.

Hux ordered the remaining troopers back to his ship, there was something he needed help with, he did not elaborate on it.

As soon as Edisa opened the cockpit door, Poe asked. “Are you gonna go back?”

“I don’t know,” Edisa answered sincerely, closing the door behind her. “If I would have managed to get all of my people out with me today, then the answer would have been a definite no, but I didn’t. There are still a lot of my people out there, some are spread out all over the First Order, others on Hux’s ship. I’ll have to think this one through a bit.”

“I’ll help you,” Poe started, “not with making a decision, I’m sure you can do that all by yourself, but I’ll help you get your men out. You saved us today, it’s the least I could do and, to be honest, if you decide to join us… then all for the better.” Poe smiled at her, a little twinkle in his eyes.

“My people.” Edisa said and Poe looked confused.

“They’re not all men, I’m not the only female stormtrooper, though, yes there aren’t many of us.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean…” Poe started.

“I know, just yanking your chain.”

Poe moved towards her, slowly, like a predator stalking his prey. Her back was now against the door, he was close enough to touch.

“You know,” he said wetting his lips, “ you’re something else.”

“Oh honey,” Edisa said and her voice was sweet and thick as molasses “I bet that line, that pilot jacket and your devil may care attitude got you all the girls.”

Although that wasn’t the answer Poe expected, it made him laugh.

“Yeah, you are something else.” he confirmed.

She gave him a wink in return.

It had been four years since she let a man, or a woman, touch her. It had been a little under four years since she started gathering her people. Those two things were not a coincidence.

It was a conscious decision she made, if she were to lead them, to get their respect there was no time for personal relationships and, unfortunately, most stormtroopers seemed to be ruled by a locker room type culture. Her self enforced celibacy was the only option.

She had missed the touch of another human on her body during that time, the feel of another, their smell, taste. So she grabbed a fist full of Poe’s shirt with one hand, with another she opened the cockpit door and dragged him to the pilot seat.

 

***

 

Poe was still shoving his shirt back into his pants as he made his way out of the ship. He looked up to the sound of footsteps and saw Finn running for them.

He glanced over at Edisa, she looked as if nothing had happened.

“Poe!” Finn yelled out, still running for them. “You gotta come, Kylo….” he stopped to catch his breath.

“Kylo Ren is here, he’s in the temple, with Rose.” Finn finished.

Poe’s eyes widened almost comically at the sound of that.

“The Supreme Leader is here?” Edisa questioned, her brow furrowed.

“Yeah, and he needs our help.”

“What the fuck?” Was all that Poe managed to say, his mind running at the speed of light with a thousand questions and possibilities.

“Long story, I’ll tell you on the way.”

All three started running back towards the temple.

Chapter Text

 

Finn told them on the way that Kylo Ren was here because Hux had found their hideout and had kidnapped Rey.

“Where’s Leia?” Poe asked.

“She’s… gone. Hux...”

Poe had to stop running at the sound of that, the news hit him like a battering ram to the chest, knocking the wind out of him. Leia is dead . He had known her for half of his life, she had been a mentor, a friend, even a mother to him.

The two others stopped a few feet ahead, looking back at him.

Leia was dead. His feelings were a revolving door of guilt, pain, and anger. He felt guilty for leaving her, leaving them alone, felt angry at himself for making that decision, angry at Leia for choosing to stay behind, angry with Rey, with Hux, with Kylo.

“Poe!” Finn urged and Poe started running again, he bottled up his feelings for later, when there would be time to process them.

“Edisa,” Poe said with a look towards her, “gather the best of your people and meet us outside the temple, Finn go do the same.”

Finn paused, like he wanted to argue, but with one look at Poe he nodded and ran for where the Resistance was gathered.

The three of them, and a dozen others entered the temple at the same time, blasters out, safety off.

Kylo readied himself for a fight.

Rose looked at the rebels, then at Kylo, his body was as tense as a loaded spring. She quickly positioned herself in front of him.

“Rose!” Finn let out a disappointed sigh that sounded like an oh come on.

“No!” Rose argued stomping a foot down. “I’m not doing this for him,” she pointed behind her, at Kylo, “I’m doing this for Rey, we are not going to gamble with her life like this. Put the guns down and talk!”

None of the rebels made a move to lower their weapons. Kylo’s lightsaber was still in Rose’s hands.

“Poe, Finn!" Rose pleaded, her eyes moving from one man to the other.

Poe finally lowered his gun, but didn’t holster it , the rest did the same.

“Why would we help you ?” Poe asked.

“You wouldn’t. I don’t want to be here as much as you don’t want me here, but I need the Resistance to help Rey, I can’t save her life by myself.” Kylo answered.

“I’m hoping you care enough to save hers.” He finished, his chin moving the way it always does when he’s trying to chew away at a weakness.

“Why would I?” Poe started and both Rose and Finn looked at him in surprise.

“She betrayed us, she’d been talking to you all this time,” he added, taking a step forward, “colluding with the enemy.” He spat. “if we could have trusted her, she would have been here”  Poe took another step, his blaster still in his hands, “she and Leia both, and Leia would still be alive.” He was now within an arm’s length of Kylo.

“Do you even care about that? Do you care about her death, or are you just…."

Poe didn’t get to finish, Kylo’s fist connected with his nose.

He stumbled back, throwing the blaster out of his hands. There was a wild grin on his face as he licked the blood that was dripping down from his nose, as if he had gotten exactly what he wanted, then the grin turned into a snarl of hate and disgust.

“I loved her!” Kylo yelled.

“Is that why you blew up the Raddus' command with her on board? ” Poe countered, wiping the blood off his face.

He didn’t wait for Kylo’s answer, instead the rebel came at him, swinging with a telegraphed left hook, then at the last moment he shoved the heel of his palm into the other man’s throat.

Kylo stumbled backwards, coughing and choking, his shoulders caving in, head tucking down to protect his already injured throat.

“That,” Kylo coughed, “wasn’t me!”

“Whatever lets you sleep at night.” Poe snorted, then he lunged at Kylo, head butting him in the solar plexus, his right fist punching repeatedly at the side of Kylo’s abdomen, into his ribs.

Finn had tried to move towards the two as soon as Kylo’s fist connected with Poe’s nose.

“Don’t!” Edisa said, eyeing him. “Let them fight it out.”

Finn stopped, waiting long enough for Poe to lunge at Kylo, then Finn made another move towards them.

“Don’t!” it was Rose who stopped him this time, putting a hand on his arm. Finn stopped, but his body was tense, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. The rest of the people in the temple stood, watching the two fight, their blasters following Kylo’s every move.

Kylo tried to get out of Poe’s grip but the pilot had him locked in his arms like a vice, so Kylo started punching Poe in the head.

“She,” Kylo said, landing a punch to the left side of Poe’s skull, “was not,” another punch connected with Poe’s left temple, “your,” another one linked with his ear, “mother!”

Poe pushed Kylo away at the sound of that, both of them starting to stagger a little. Kylo winced, the sudden movement hurting his ribs, he would have a few bruised ribs at best, at worse a few broken ones; Poe’s ears were ringing and there was a herd on banthas painfully running through his head, but neither of them seemed ready to give up the fight.

“I know!” Poe barked. He feigned a left hook, then met Kylo’s jaw with an uppercut, his teeth clattered in his mouth, his feet taking a few step backwards.

“But I was a better son to her than you ever were!” Poe said, his top lip curled in disgust.

Kylo swallowed, then waited. When Poe came in for another hit, he let the height difference between them play to his advantage, when the pilot threw a high right jab that left his right side unprotected, Kylo dodged the jab and threw a hook straight to Poe’s liver.

He fell to the floor knees first, then collapsed backwards, his head and back hitting the floor with a thud.

“Yes, you were.” Kylo said to Poe, a hand to his own chin, moving his jaw around. He didn’t think it broken, but it hurt like a motherfucker, it had still been sore from the former stormtrooper.  

Poe’s face was a mask of pain, his breathing shallow and fast, a hand placed protectively on his abdomen.

“Before she died,” Kylo said squatting down, “Leia wanted me to tell you something.”  

Poe looked up at that, his teeth gritted.

“She wanted me to tell you that I’m cashing in all her chips.” Kylo offered the pilot a hand.

“Fuck!” Poe breathed out. He ignored Kylo’s hand as he slowly made his way up from the floor.

 

***

 

Poe Dameron had not been born in a cockpit, but he was raised in one since the age of six, when he started learning to fly.

Shara Bey, his mother, would often take him flying in her ship, it wasn’t a big ship, but bigger than the one person A-wing interceptor she flew during her time in the Alliance. There was room for three passengers and the pilot, and some room for cargo. There were no sleeping  quarters or even bunk beds, and no fresher either, but the ship had seemed huge in his child eyes.

He would sit in her lap, his tiny arms unable to reach the controls without her assistance, and she would teach him how to fly, how to hold the yoke, or the stick as Poe used to call it, what buttons to push and when. His favorite part was the spinning, he would cling tightly to his mother, yelling Whee! at the top of his little lungs and laugh.

“I’m gonna be the best pilot in the whole, entire galaxy.” Poe used to say to his mom.

“In the whole, entire galaxy?” She would ask him, a big smile on her face, “There’s a lot you’ve got to learn for that, baby.”

“I know, I will.” He would assure her, confident, and she would laugh and kiss him.

Flying had become their way of bonding, or reconnecting, since Poe had barely seen his parents until the age of six. They were both fighters, his mom a pilot, his dad a soldier, both serving the Alliance to Restore the Republic, both trying to build a better future for their son, a future where he wouldn’t have to fight for justice, for freedom.

When his parents left the Alliance and returned home to raise their son, they found a shy boy that would rather hide behind his grandmother than interact with his parents. His mother and father couldn’t blame him, the boy barely knew them, they blamed themselves and vowed to make it up to him.

And they did, for two years, until the day his mother died unexpectedly. The day she died, Poe ran away, ran to her ship, tried to fly the damn thing away, somewhere, anywhere but there, but he couldn’t. He still couldn’t reach all the controls. So he spent the night in the cockpit, sleeping on the pilot seat. The cockpit still smelled like his mom, the soft, worn leather seat felt as smooth as her skin, he felt her embrace in that seat, that night, and many nights after that.

Two years later, he was flying the ship on his own, flying it around Yavin 4. A year later, to his father’s exasperation, he flew to another planet, by himself.

“Why are you in such a hurry to grow up?” His dad asked him as he dragged him back home, “You’re only eleven, act like a child!”

Poe saw the hurt in his father’s eye that day, the disappointment, and even a little pride, so for a while he settled to being just a child, a child that loved to fly.

He was sixteen when he and a couple of his older friends decided to make their way into the galaxy. He had felt like a kettle on a burning stove for the past few years, the pressure inside him growing and growing. He knew he would explode if he stayed on Yavin 4, so he left.

The night before he left, his father took off the chain around his neck and placed it in Poe’s hands, on it was a silver ring.

“It was your mother’s wedding ring.” His father explained. “It’s yours now, to remind you of her, of home.”

Poe closed his hand around it.

“Hopefully, one day you’ll find someone to wear it.” The man hugged his son.

“I love you, son.” he said, “You are so much like your mother I can hardly believe it,  I understand why you have to go, I know Yavin is getting too small for you, my boy… I just can’t help wishing you were more like me, wishing this would be enough for you. The man patted his son on the back. “But that’s selfish of me... ”

Poe didn’t  say anything, but he wrapped his arms around his father tighter.

“Go find what you’re looking for, but don’t be a stranger, son.”

“I won’t dad, I promise.”

 

 

He flew his mother’s ship  and two of his friends to Kelvas, a planet in the Outer Rim. Ryce, the oldest of his friends, had word of a job they could pull, smuggling packages from one planet to another.

“You didn’t tell me we’ll be smuggling spice!” Poe raged at the older, taller man.

“It’s a job, Dameron. If we do this right, between the three of us we’ll have enough credits to buy a decent ship.”

“This ship if perfectly fine!”

“It’s a rust bucket, that’s what it is.” His friend countered, “Look, after this you can take your credits and fix that hyperdrive and go wherever the hell you want to. ” He finished, tapping a hand on his friend’s shoulder.

Poe gritted his teeth. He did not leave Yavin 4 to become a drug smuggler, he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to be, but that was besides the point.

He didn’t want to do it, he had seen the effects of spice first hand, he didn’t want to be a part of that….

But he had no credits to his name, and he needed credits to fix the hyperdrive. He could always manage to get a meal out of someone, or con them out of something of value, but he could never raise the credits he needed for the hyperdrive.

“Fine,” Poe relented, “but I’m only doing the flying. I’m not touching that shit.”

His friends filled the ship with brick sized packages of spice, a lot more spice than Poe thought it would be, but it was too late to go back on it, so he gritted his teeth and went along with it.

“Don’t give me that look,” Ryce barked, “you think they’d pay us all those credit for one fucking spice brick ?”

The flight from Kalvas to Yetel, a nearby planet, went as smooth as possible. Poe was readying the ship for atmosphere entry when his friend said: “The plan changed, we’re not landing in Bar’ook, we’re taking the spice to Dur’ook.”

“That’s halfway to the other side of the planet,” Poe complained, “what the hell is going on?”

His friend didn’t answer.

They were within minutes of Dur’ook when their ship was hailed. “Unregistered ship owner, identify yourself.” A strong male voice came through the speakers.

“Fuck!” all three of them seemed to say at the same time.

“You gotta shake him, Dameron.” Ryce urged.

“You think?”

Poe looked around the view screen, then at his instruments, the ship that hailed them was law enforcement, a new and fast model, faster than his ship.

Poe cursed under his breath.

“Let’s see what you’re made out of.” Poe said as he punched the speed, their tail following. The ship was close behind and gaining up, Poe gave his ship all it had.

“Dameron!” Ryce yelled out, “they’re gonna take us down!”

Poe clenched his fists around the yoke, then pulled it towards him, hard. A grunt escaped him from the effort, and the G’s. The ships nose lifted up, making a 90 degree angle with the horizon, effectively breaking in mid air. Their tail overshot beneath them.

A laughter escaped Poe, he couldn’t believe he did it. He had never tried the cobra maneuver before.

“Shoot them down!” Ryce bellowed from behind him.

“I’m not killing anyone!” Poe snapped back, leveling the ship.

Ryce was out of his seat then, his hand on Poe’s controls and before he got a chance to process what happened, they were fighting over the controls.

“Fucking kill them!” Ryce yelled but Poe didn’t let go.

“They’re gonna kill us or send us to a labor camp!” his friend added.

The ship was going into a nosedive.

He kicked at Ryce and the man buckled down in pain, but before he could regain control of the ship, the other man came up behind him, reaching for the yoke.

“We’re all going to die if you don’t stop!” Poe yelled out.

The blur of green below them was starting to take shape. Poe elbowed the man in the nose then turned the ship around, smashing the two unbuckled men against the metal walls.

The shapes below were turning into trees, fast. Poe tried to regain control of the ship, pulled on the yoke again, hard. He almost made it, almost.

 

**

 

The next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital bed. His vision was blurry and there was something wrong with his left eye, he moved his hand towards it, but something stopped the movement, his wrist was cuffed to the bed.  He tried lifting his head up, get a better look at himself, at his surrounding, but his head complained in pain, his ribs joined in, letting him know there was something wrong.

Fighting the pain in his head, gritting his teeth, he lifted his head up enough to see one of his legs wrapped in plaster, hanging from a strap on the ceiling.

“Fuck!”

“You’re lucky to be alive.” A voice startled him and he snapped his head to it, his head complaining again at the sudden movement.

“You’re very lucky to be alive, actually.” The same voice continued, “Your friends were not so lucky.”

He swallowed at that.

“Who are you?” he couldn’t really see the owner of that female voice, one of his eyes was swollen shut, the other one was still trying to focus.

“People were very impressed with your flying skills,” the voice said, ignoring his question, “I was told that’s a hard move to pull.”

“Where’s my ship?” he asked, all of a sudden agitated.

“It’s gone, totaled.”

Poe cursed, rattling his cuffs, kicking at the bed with his one good leg. He had barely left to seek his fortune in the galaxy and he found himself broken in a hospital bed, his friends dead, and his ship totaled. He tried not to think about how much time he’d have to do in a labor camp, or prison if he were lucky.

He cursed again.

“That was Shara’s ship, wasn’t it?” the woman asked.

Poes eyes snapped to her at the sound of that. “Who are you,” he asked again, “and how do you know that?”

“Your mother was my pilot, and my friend." The woman answered, her voice sweet. “My name is Leia Organa.”

He did a double take at that name, he had heard it out of his parent’s mouths a few times growing up, but everyone in the galaxy knew that name, everyone in the galaxy spoke of her and her friends as if they were the things of legends. Leia Organa, the Alderaan princess, the Rebel fighter that saved the galaxy from the Empire. Leia Organa, standing by his bedside.

“Why are you here?” Poe frowned at her.

“I was in the neighborhood.” There was a little smile on her face as she said that. “Thought I’d check in.”

Poe blinked at her for a few seconds, not sure what to say.

“Okay, let’s cut the bullshit, why are you here? You’re a legend I’m just a kid from Yavin, what do you want?”

The smile on her face was gone as she said: “You fucked up. You’re looking at drug trafficking charges and manslaughter. You’re looking at spending at least half your lifespan in prison.

“Or,” Leia started and Poe’s ears almost pricked up at the sound, “you could join the New Republic Defense Fleet.”

“Wait, how did this go from me going to prison to joining the fleet?”

“I put a good word in for you.”

He looked at her, long and hard. He thought about it, he wasn’t the type that liked to listen to anyone, having to take orders from someone on a daily basis seemed like a living hell, but he also wasn’t the type that would do well locked up in a prison. His choices were  prison and taking orders from guards or, relative freedom and taking orders from a sergeant with an inferiority complex. Shit . There was also another issue.

“I don’t want your pity.”

“Good,” Leia responded instantly, her face stern, “because you don’t have it. If you decide to join the fleet you will work harder than you have ever worked in your life, you will study and train and become the best version of yourself that you can be or,” she continued, her face lighting up a bit “you can decline my offer, do your time and when you’re out, get back to your smuggling business. Let me know when you’re out, I know a guy that could give you some pointers.”

“Why are you doing this for me?”

Leia moved closer to the bed and put a hand over his. “You have her eyes.” She said, a little smile on her face.

“Many reasons, because I owed her, and I feel like she would have cashed in all her chips for this, because even if I didn’t owe her anything I would still do everything I could to help her, and her family. I’d like to think she would have done the same, offered my son a second chance.” There was a strange look on her face, as if she was remembering past memories.

She gently shook off her head then continued: “Because you’re still a kid, and without taking the last day into consideration, not a bad one. Because I know you can make something of yourself.” She smiled at him again. “Look, I’m just here giving you a hand, it’s all up to you if you decide to take it, or slap it away.

Poe looked at her, then at her hand on top of his. His choice was made.

Chapter Text

***

 

“Talk!” Poe barked at Kylo, his hands on his knees, still trying to catch his breath, still fearful of sudden movements. God, that hurt , he thought as Kylo told him what had happened.

He straightened up slowly, a grimace on his face. Fuck, it still hurt.

He tried to focus on what Kylo was saying, but looking at his unmasked face, he noticed something disturbing. He saw glimpses of Leia in him, in the way he moved his head as he spoke, in the way he emphasized certain words, it tug at his heart strings and it angered him at the same time. He despised seeing Leia in his features, in his mannerism, he found himself wishing for the mask to be back on his face. He had always associated Leia with good, with the light, and for the past few years - bad and darkness with Kylo Ren. He didn’t like seeing the two playing on the man’s face, he wanted to punch his face again, maybe if it was bruised and swollen it would not remind him of her. But, he thought with an internal sigh, no matter what, he would always be her son.

Regardless of what he had said and would say to Kylo Ren, he knew he could not live with himself if he didn’t at least try to help Rey, but he wasn’t going to admit that.

He wasn’t sure if he had been wrong about Rey, about not trusting her. On one hand, it seemed he had not been the best judge of character, he had trusted Noua and if it weren’t for Edisa, they would all be dead right now. On the other hand, the Supreme Leader was asking the Resistance for help, it was obvious to him that Kylo and Rey would do anything for each other, and that was the problem after all, wasn’t it?

He would help Rey, or try to, but he wanted to see what he could get out of it, he knew Kylo would not have come empty handed, begging the man he tortured just weeks ago for help. Neither of them were that naive.

“What’s in it for me?” Poe asked.

“Poe!” both Finn and Rose objected.

Poe just lifted a hand in their direction, quieting them both.

“This,” Kylo said producing a memory drive, “is everything you need to take down the First Order.”

“What’s on it?”

“Locations of bases, tracking IDs for some of the ships, stormtrooper training facilities, names of First Order spies, soldiers, sympathizers and more.”

In the corner of his eyes, Poe could see Edisa stir at that.

Kylo turned his palm up, offering it to Poe, who promptly snatched it out of his hands.

He weighed it in his hands, it didn’t weigh much, it was just a drive after all, but it was also so much more. It was the best shot they had at taking down the First Order, the weight of that felt crushing in his hand.

“It’s encrypted,” Kylo said, “you can have the decryption if you agree to help.”

“Or I could just torture it out of you.” Poe retorted, his eyes still on the drive, his mind still on how all that information could change the course of this war, of history.

“You could try,” Kylo said, “but I won’t crack as easily.”

Before Poe had a chance to come up with a pointed remark of his own, Finn jumped in.

“We’ll have C3PO decrypt it, he’s good with things like that, aren’t you?” Finn asked the droid with a little smug look on his face.

But before the droid had a chance to start, for the droid had never uttered a short sentence in its existence, Kylo eyed Finn, then asked the droid.

“3PO, who’s orders does your programing tell you to follow?”

The droid made a sound as if wanting to speak, then stopped for a second, processing, when he spoke his voice was clear, his tone solemn. “That would be… your orders, Master Ben Solo.”

Finn made a face, then opened his mouth to say something, he closed it a few seconds later without a word escaping it.

Edisa stepped in at that moment. “Okay boys, I think that’s enough dick measuring, let’s call it a tie and get to what’s really important here.”

“I brought the drive to you, you can have the decryption regardless of if we win or not, just agree to help.” Kylo said, making a face that Poe was too familiar with, it was the same face Leia made when she lost patience with him or with a situation. It was a mix of barely hidden annoyance and maybe a little bit of helplessness thrown in. A little smile tugged at the corner of his lips, realizing that he could read Kylo Ren. Thanks to Leia, he could read him like a book.

“Let’s say we save Rey and we all make it out of this alive, what then? Do you think we’ll just let you ride off into the sunset with the girl, give you a happily ever after? You think you deserve that?” Poe asked not expecting an answer. “Because you don’t, if you make it out alive you will see the inside of a tribunal, even if I have to drag you there myself!”

Kylo wrinkled his nose and almost bared his teeth at that. He exhaled through his nostrils before answering Poe. “I know there’s no version of this where I get a happy ending, and that’s okay, as long as you save her .”

Poe couldn’t help but notice Kylo’s eyes becoming slick all of a sudden.

“I know the price I have to pay. I’ve known all along, it doesn’t matter to me if I pay it to Hux or to the Resistance. As long as she makes it out of this alive.” He emphasized the last part. “That’s all that matters to me.”

Although he had suspected it, he was a little taken aback by the confirmation of how far Kylo was willing to go for her. He couldn’t help but wonder if she would have done the same for him, he thought she probably would. Two of the galaxy’s most powerful people fighting for each other instead of against each other… he pitied the ones stupid enough to be caught between them.

“I’ll help,” Poe finally said, “and so will Finn and Rose. I’ll ask the rest, see if there’s anyone else willing to…”

“You could order them.” Kylo interrupted.

“I could.” Poe glowered. “But I’m not ordering the people that have lost every-fucking-thing they cared about because of you , to join you, to fight besides you. If they’re willing to do it, fine, if they aren’t, i’m not making them.”

Kylo’s expression hardened but he did not argue any further.

“We’ll help too,” Edisa said. “if i’m getting a copy of that drive, that is.”

Kylo looked at her, a question on his face.

“Edisa,” she said extending a hand, “former stormtrooper commander.”

He frowned at that, then paused for a long while. “Uhm… Ben, former Supreme Leader.” He finally said, shaking her hand.

 

***

 

Ben . He hadn’t referred to himself like that in many years, it felt strange, and a little untrue. He didn’t feel like Ben, like his former self and he didn’t feel like Kylo either. He felt like… neither, and a little of both at the same time, like a mutt or a mule. But that wasn’t important right now. Rey was all that mattered. 

Poe had left the temple with Rose and his men, hopefully to talk to them about helping Rey. He imagined Rose had left with the Resistance leader to help sway their decision, he was grateful to her for that.  Finn had stayed behind, to keep and eye on him. His lightsaber was still in the former stormtrooper’s hand.

He turned his gaze towards the brown skinned woman, Edisa, the former stormtrooper . That had pricked his interested.

“Former stormtrooper…” Ben said, more a questions then a statement.

“Former Supreme Leader,” Edisa addressed him, ignoring the questioning tone of his voice, “glad you ditched the duck mask.”

He blinked at that.

“That, and the despotism.” Edisa finished.

This isn’t going as expected , he thought.  “What was your trooper number?” He found himself asking.

“A-1084.”

“Ah, yes, I have heard about you.”

“All good things, I hope.” She smirked.

“Impressive things.” Kylo said, “How did you end up with the Resistance?”

Edisa looked him dead in the eyes for a long time, like she was peering into his soul, trying to decide if he could be trusted with even part of the information. He felt uncomfortable, being looked at like that, but he steadied himself and held her gaze. He was glad when she finally started telling him the story, the abridged version that is.

“Hux wants us back, needs our help with something, he wouldn’t elaborate, but  I’m thinking it might have something to do with you.” Edisa finished the story, eyeing him.

“He’s gonna make a show of taking me down, public humiliation and execution would be right up his alley. He wants to be the next Supreme Leader, taking me down publicly would be a great show of power to the rest of the generals.”

“You’re going to die, aren’t you?”

“Most likely, yes.”

“You know it and yet you’re still so willing to do it.”

“Yes…” The shadow of a smile crossed his face for a second, then vanished. “You’re willing to die for your cause, for your people. Why do you find it hard to believe that I would do the same for the one I love?”

Love , he thought, was not the right word for what he felt for her, love was not a strong enough of a word, but it would have to do, there wasn’t a word that could encompass all of his feelings for Rey, everything they meant to each other.

“She,” he continued, “can live without me, have a full life, she has you,” he looked towards Finn then towards the temple door, towards the Resistance, “she’ll be okay, eventually. I can’t imagine life without her.”

And he could not, he hadn’t felt alive in a long time, for so many years he had just been driven by anger, by fear. With her, he had found life, he wasn’t ready to let it go.

“Guess I didn’t figure the mighty Kylo Ren, the First Order’s Supreme Leader the bleeding heart type.”

“I’m not. It’s just her, she’d the only one that’s left that …”

“She wouldn’t be if you hadn’t killed Han Solo.” Finn cut him off mid sentence.

Ben said nothing, instead he looked down, chewing at the feelings his father’s name brought up.

 

***

 

Another drop of goo landed on Rey’s head and was absorbed just as soon. She looked up at it, it was now half of the size, she figured she would wake up as soon as the last drop fell. She still had time.

Rey played the vision in her head again, she had lost count of how many times this was, it didn’t matter, it wasn’t enough. She needed to remember every little detail, every little movement Hux made, connect each sound he made with it, Ben’s exact position, the location of every stormtrooper, their every move, when they would pull the trigger, where the blaster bolts will hit, everything. She drank it all in like she was finding an oasis after days without water.

“It would help a lot if you’d let me see how my actions change the outcome!” she protested to the darkness. It didn’t answer, but she didn’t expect it to.

Again!” she said to herself as she replayed the vision. She had been desensitized to the picture of Ben’s decapitation and the sounds of it no longer stabbed at her heart. It had all become just a puzzle she needed to piece together, and she would, for the price of failure was too high. 

  

***

  

Poe and Rose made their way back into the temple, the men that had left with them remained outside.

He moved to whisper something in Edisa’s ear and she left with her men. She returned alone a few minutes later. There were only five people left inside the temple: the Resistance leader, the two former stormtroopers, the maintenance worker and the former Supreme Leader. They were a strange bunch.

“What’s gonna stop you from turning against us? We know you’ll do anything to save her, what if Hux gives her up in exchange for us?” Poe asked.

He took a deep breath and exhaled through his nostrils. “I would trade all of you and the entirety of this galaxy for her in a heartbeat, without even a second thought” he looked them over one by one as he spoke. “But I promised her I wouldn't hurt you, and if I did, I know she would never forgive me, and more importantly, forgive herself if anything happened to any of you while trying to save her.”

He exhaled through his nostrils again. “So, you’re safe from me.” His face twisted, like the words refused to leave his mouth, before finally saying, “ Please do your best to save her, but also... try not to die while doing it.”

The four of them looked at each other.

“I have a feeling that’s the best he’s capable of.” Edisa said.

“Yeah.” Rose agreed.

“Okay then,” Poe nodded, “we’re all in. Finn, give him back his lightsaber.”

Finn managed to take half a step towards his former enemy before the lightsaber flew out of his hands and into its owners.

“I hate you!” Finn declared in such a way that it got a small chuckle out of both Rose and Edisa.

“I’ll give you the decryption.” Ben said, holstering his lightsaber.  On the inside he was smiling too.

 

***

  

They moved to an area of the temple were military apparatus lay on a crumbling marble table.

Poe set to work in running the decryption.

“We gotta come up with a really good plan if this has any chance of working.” He said as the memory drive revealed its secrets.

“It will have to be an extraction, go in, get her out, leave.” Finn offered.

“Do you know where he’s keeping Rey?” Poe asked.

“On his ship I would imagine, but I can’t be sure.” Ben answered.

“And it’s a really big ship.” Finn added.

“When are you coming into play?” Poe asked.

“He’ll get in touch with me, give me the location. If I know him, and I think I do, he won’t kill me as soon as I arrive. He’ll wait and make a show out of it. I’ll send you the location as soon as I have it, that will give you guys time to act. On the drive you’ll find the codes for taking a portion of the shields down, you can sneak in.”

“He’ll torture you,” Edisa said. “And once in his hands, you won’t have a way to send intel to us, you’ll just be a sitting duck with clipped wings.”

“And if he’s turning this into a show, there should be dozens of other ships around, sneaking in will be hard, very hard.” Rose contributed.

Silence fell inside the temple.

“I have an idea,” Edisa grinned.“The thing I’ve always liked the best about stormtroopers uniforms were the masks, how they gave one such anonymity, how you can just blend into the background, unnoticed.” Her grin turned into a full smile when she asked: “Finn, you wanna be a stormtrooper again?”

They all looked at her, little smiles flowering on all their faces as they realized where she was going with this.

“We have plenty of empty trooper uniforms, we dress as many of the Resistance as we can into them, then fly back unto Hux’s ship, unnoticed.”

“You told Hux you lost a lot of stormtroopers today.” Poe cautioned.

“Yes, but I’m sure he’ll be too busy plotting this guy’s demise to even give that a second thought. The man really has a one track mind when he’s out for blood.”

“That might work.” Both Finn and Ben said at the same time.

“It will,” Edisa assured. “Once on the ship, we’ll go looking for Rey and send intel back to you and the rest of the Resistance. We can sneak out the same way we got in.” she finished with a look at Poe.

“Okay, that’s a good start.”

“Except,” Ben said, “everything depends on you, doesn’t it? How do I know you won’t betray us?”

“Couple of things,” she said without missing a beat, her eyes on the former Supreme Leader. “First that drive of yours has info I've been trying to get my hands on for years. Secondly, I would love to watch the First Order burn down in flames, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to be the one holding the fucking torch.” There was such fire in her eyes as she spoke that none could doubt her words.

“Well, that works for me.” Poe declared and the rest seemed to agree.

“How many of you are there?” Ben asked, “and how many can you get in time?”

“That depends on how much time we’ll have, doesn’t it?” she said, eyeing him. “There’s enough of us for an extraction, not enough for a battle.” She cautioned.

“Let’s hope it won’t turn into a battle.” Finn said.

“Yeah, let’s…” Poe mused.

Edisa turned her eyes to him then said, “Let’s go tell our people.”

Poe turned and followed her out the temple.

When they were out she turned to him and questioned. “What are you thinking?”

He looked at her puzzled, like he had no idea what she was talking about.

“Don’t!” She narrowed her eyes on him, “I can almost see the wheels turning in your head.”

“I think the plan is good, but it relies on too many things going our way, and things don’t go our way very often.”

“That, they do not.”

“Are you going to tell me where your mind’s going with this?”

“I will, as soon as I figure it out.”

Chapter Text

 

There were more people inside the temple now, not just the five of them. Chewbacca, Connix, one of Edisa’s lieutenants and a couple other Resistance members had joined them. They were standing around the crumbling marble table looking at a holo map of Hux’s ship, putting a plan together.

Ben had positioned himself as far from Chewbacca as he could, that meant he was almost directly across from him, just to the left of Poe who was at the other head of the table. He kept his eyes down whenever the Wookiee spoke. He knew he would have to interact with him, talk to him about Han… he would do it, after they saved Rey… if he survived, that is.

They set up the plan: get in, grab Rey, put her in stormtrooper uniform, get her out, all the while, make as little noise as possible doing it. Edisa, Ben and Finn made their own educated guesses as to where Hux would keep her and had charted courses throughout Hux’s ship accordingly, courses that would keep them to the shadows, mostly out of First Order personnel’s sight.

“What are you going to do?” Rose asked, poking her head around Finn to look at Ben.

Rose had positioned herself to his right, but Finn had squeezed himself between them. She had frowned at her trooper for that, but Ben understood Finn’s apprehension.

“Nothing,” Edisa answered for him, “if he escapes they will be on high alert and the plan won’t succeed. He has to do nothing.”

“Who’s gonna get you out?” Rose ventured another question.

“I’ll get myself out, if I can…”

“He’s made his choice,” Edisa said, “we should honor it.”

The faintest puff of sound escaped Poe at that. He didn’t seem too keen on honoring anything that had to do with the former Supreme Leader.

She ignored it, then turned to Ben. “We’ll get her out. If shit hits the fan we’ll plan on the go, we will be able to keep in touch, I have earpieces for all the key players, all except you, obviously. You’ll be the only one in the dark.”

“What if it’s not his ship?” Rose asked.

They all turned to look at her.

“What if he’s gonna have his little power show somewhere else, anywhere else , what do we do then?” She continued, her eyes moving around the table.

Ben pushed a couple of buttons and the contents of his memory drive appeared in holo form. There were folders upon folders of information.

“Most First Order bases, outposts and ships will be on here.” He turned to his left, where Edisa stood, “You said he needed you for something, wherever he decides to do this, you will likely be there. If it’s not his ship, as soon as you find out the new location, go through the drive and you should have all the info you need.”

His eyes moved around the table. “The same plan should work, but it will need adjustments.” He stopped his gaze on Poe. “I trust you’re capable enough to change it on the go.” There was no maliciousness in his words, or his tone of voice, he was actually putting his trust in the Resistance leader.

Poe eyed him, then nodded.

Ben’s holopad beeped with a message, he knew it would be from Hux. It contained  coordinates and a little message: “ Be late and she will lose more than just hair this time .” He wrinkled his nose in disgust, then tapped on the coordinates, there was nothing there but empty space.

“It’s Hux, he sent his ship’s coordinates.” Ben said, pulling up a holomap of the general’s location.

“I have to go.” He looked around the table once, then said “Get her out!” It was an order, but also a prayer.

He took a couple of steps away from the table, then stopped and turned back around. He moved towards Rose and with a look and a head movement, had her follow him. Finn also took a few steps in their direction, but Rose’s stern look stopped him.

They were a few feet away from the group, just out of earshot.

He looked down at the short woman in front of him.  “I need you to do something for me, I need you to lie to Rey.”

The woman frowned at that, but he continued without waiting for her response, “Once you have Rey, if she asks about me, tell her you know nothing, that this was all the Resistance’s plan and I had nothing to do with it. Don’t let her know the truth, she might try to do something stupid.”

He looked at her, asking with his eyes if she would lie to her friend. She looked at him, really looked at him, then nodded.

He exhaled the breath that he was holding, then moved his chin around, tasting the bitter words in his mouth. “Once you’re all safe and away from the First Order…. once I’m gone… tell her…”

Gods, tell her what? What words could make up for the guilt he knew she would feel over his death, what words could put a little balm over the loss of all the time that was about to be stolen from them? Time, so little left, so little spent. He could count the times they spent together on his fingers, there was so much left to say, to do.

There was so little that they had done together in reality, he had never put his fingers through her hair, caressed her cheek with his thumb just before kissing her lips, never had his fingers slowly intertwined with hers, never lifted their coupled hands to his lips and kissed hers, never held her tightly in his arms, feel her heart beating in her chest, bury his nose in the crook of her neck and inhale her scent. There were so many little moments like these that ran through his head, moments he knew would never come to pass, time was running out for him, like an hourglass with a much too wide neck.

He thought about that night in the temple when they made love, about how good it felt to fall asleep with her in his arms and how cold it had felt when he had awakened alone. He imagined death would feel like that for him, cold and alone, waiting, just waiting for her.

He thought about the last time they had spoken, in the green pastures of Naboo, looking out at the raging waterfalls in the distance. Her last words to him still echoed in his ear, come back to me she had asked of him as she pushed him out of the dream. He could no longer do that, not now. He thought of her as an old woman with a wrinkled face and worn hands, an old lady at the end of a long and happy life. He would come back to her then, take her hand in his and lead her back into the Force.

It was strange how he used to wonder how they could possibly chisel a live together, he finally realized now that out of all the things he wanted to do with Rey, ruling the galaxy together was none of them. Now, in the final hour, it all seemed to clear, so tangible, so... unfortunately late.

He snapped himself back from his reverie. “Tell her that I am sorry, and if she must hate me for choosing her over myself, to do so. Tell her I gave her the most precious thing I had, time , and I wouldn’t want her wasting any of it by mourning. I want her to live all the life that’s in her, and all the life that was in me, and once it all runs out, once she’s an old lady taking her last breath, I’ll come find her, I’ll come back for her.”

Ben’s eyes were glossed over as he asked his final question, “W-will you tell her that?”

Rose, who had looked up into the man’s eyes all this time, nodded.

He nodded back a thank you , then left without another word.

Rose looked at his back until it disappeared into the sunlight outside the temple. She didn’t understand what he and Rey had. She especially didn’t understand where and when it all happened, Rey had been with at least one of them for most of the time since she left Jakku and she also had given him that long scar that started on his forehead and seemed to go down his neck. How does one go from wanting to murder each other to this? She could only see one side of their…what was it? Relationship, affair, love? She could only see his side, but from what she saw, there was no doubt he loved her very much. If she loved him just as much…

Her thoughts moved to Finn, how she would react if he died, especially if he died trying to save her. There was a huge, painful knot forming in her throat.

Finn came to her side and wrapped an arm around her. “What did he want?”

Rose’s eyes were glossed over, her voice just a little cracked. “You know, if yesterday anyone would have told me that I’d be hoping the Supreme Leader makes it out of this war alive, I’d tell them to ease off of the spice.”

 

***

 

“I’ve been thinking,” Finn started, fumbling, trying to put on the stormtrooper uniform he never thought he would again.

“I could smell it.” Rose replied with a smile on her face, trying to ease the tension she saw on his face. “Or maybe it’s just the stink of these uniforms, geez!” she wrinkled her nose.

He let out a weak smile, then continued, “After we save Rey, I want to join Edisa in taking down stormtrooper training facilities. Thanks to… uhm… ” he wanted to go for an insult but he stopped himself, unsure what to call the former Supreme Leader, he was not about to call him Ben all of a sudden. “Thanks to Kylo, we have all the intel we would need….” He looked her in the eyes, “It won’t be forever, maybe just a few months.”

Rose knew this talk was coming, she knew it was coming in the jungle, right before Ben had interrupted them. If he hadn’t done that, if she didn’t know what she now knew, her answer would have been another.

“I understand.”  She smiled up at him.

“So, you’re okay with it?”

“Yes, this is what you have to do, because Finn, you might have made some poor choices, but I know you. You are such a beautiful soul and you will always do what is right and good, it’s in your nature. Joining Edisa in her cause is what’s right.”

If things were different, she would have added: “And I’m coming with you.” She knew he would have argued with her, tell her it’s dangerous, that he didn’t want her to get hurt, but he would have eventually, reluctantly agreed.

But things were not different, so she said nothing.

He wrapped her in a hug and kissed the top of her hair. “Love you.”

She pressed her ear to the white armor, she thought she could still faintly hear his heart. If they made it through this, if they saved Rey and the man the Jedi loved died in the process, she knew it would break her friend and she would need someone by her side to see her through it. Rose didn’t want to put the weight of that on Finn’s shoulders, and no matter how good of friends they were, she knew Rey would open up to her more that to Finn.

So, between Rey and Finn, she chose the one that would need her the most. Maybe when Rey would be back on her feet, the two of them could join the fight, and maybe save Finn’s ass a couple of times.  She smiled weakly at that.

 

***

 

Poe chose the best of the Resistance to wear the trooper uniforms, if shit hit the fan, they would need them.

He was looking out at them as they fought to put on the unfamiliar uniforms, the actual stormtroopers giving them shit about it, while simultaniously helping them put them on.

“Where’s your uniform?” Finn asked him, he was already wearing his former life, his helmet still in his hand.

Finn narrowed his eyes on Poe. “You’re not coming.”

“I’m not.”

“So what was all that,” Finn asked making a head movement towards the temple,  “just bullshit to get what you wanted from Kylo Ren?” He curled his lip up in disgust, “You were never gonna actually help Rey, huh?”

“I’m not that big of an asshole, Finn, I just need to do something first, you can take care of getting her off of Hux’s ship, I’ll take care of things after that.”

There was still a little doubt in Finn’s eyes, he wanted to question him on his plan but decided not to.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be there.”

“You better.” Finn said, then made his way towards the fake Resistance ships that brought the troopers to the planet.

Edisa was making her way back towards Poe. She nodded at Finn as he moved past her.

“So, you figured it out?” She asked him as she took a place next to him, looking in the same direction as him, towards the Resistance members and troopers.

“Maybe,” he answered. “I gotta go shopping,” Edisa frowned at that, “or shoplifting.” He added with a wink. “And I have to make some calls.”

Edisa exhaled through her nostrils. “That is nowhere near an actual plan. That’s like 8% of a plan.”

“I’ll be a quick hyper-jump away if shit hits the fan.” He turned to look at her,  “I will be there to cover you and get you guys out. I promise.”

She nodded, she decided to trust that he was telling the truth, but she wasn’t going to rely on it.  She turned her eyes back to her newly formed trooper squadron, they were almost to the ships.

“I have to go.” She said grabbing his hand and turning it palm up. “Earpiece,” she said placing a small black pod in his palm, “keep in touch with us, it’s got good range.”

Poe closed his hand on it then looked at her. They nodded at each other simultaneously then she turned and  left.

She was about fifteen paces away when she heard him yell after her. “Don’t die!”

“Wasn’t planning on it, fly boy.” She turned and grinned back at him.

There were a handful of people huddled together looking at the fake Resistance ships taking off for their mission.

Chewie was now sitting where Edisa had just minutes ago, Poe looked almost comically short next to the Wookiee.

“Let’s go shopping, Chewie.” Poe said and the Wookiee growled a question.

 

***


Hux was looking out at the vastness of space, his back rigid, his hands crossed at the small of his back. He was so close to ruling over all he could see, and so much more.

With the last of the Resistance gone, with their sympathizers hiding, scared, with Kylo Ren on his way to him, he was so close to becoming the next Supreme Leader.

He knew Ren would try to come up with something, a way to get his pathetic Jedi out of this, he would not bow down to him and hope for the best, it wasn’t in Kylo Ren’s nature. But he didn’t know what options the former Supreme Leader had. He had left his throne in a hurry and no one had any news of him, he no longer had access to the First Order fire power.

Hux imagined Ren had arrived to the Resistance planet after his departure, he wondered if he had been fast enough to catch his mother’s last breath, or if he had been too late. He wasn’t sure what version pleased him more, a little smirk grew on his face. It widened when he thought of trooper A-1084’s success in eradicating the remainder of the Resistance. Everything had gone so well.

His thoughts turned back to Ren, what plan could he have and whose help could he enlist? There were always guns for hire, but he doubted they would be so desperate for credits as to fight the First Order, it would be a suicide mission. Did Ren even have any credits of his own? And Ren had to know that he would make his Jedi pay for any disobedience on his part. Would he risk it?

Maybe it was a lack of imagination on his part, but he couldn’t think of a way Ren would try and succeed in getting his Jedi. It didn’t matter, he would be prepared for whatever the former leader had to throw at him.

If he were honest with himself, he would admit that he feared the betrayal of the other generals more than anything Ren might have up his sleeve.

The First Order had been in relative turmoil ever since Snoke was murdered, but Ren had managed to instill enough fear in them as to keep most from uprising. That fear had disappeared with him.

There was also the matter of him leading some of the generals that had trusted him into a deadly trap, but he thought he had managed to twist that account in his favor, or at least throw doubt over the whole thing.

The new narrative was that Kylo Ren had decided to dispatch the First Order generals, and their people, that he did not care for. Hux had found out about his heinous plan and tried to overthrow him with the help of the same generals. He only managed to survive Ren’s attack because of a stroke of luck, intel from one of his spies that lead him to the Resistance hideout instead of to his death with the rest of the generals and their people.

As a show of power and punishment for murdering both Snoke and the other generals, he would capture and publicly execute the former Supreme Leader and take his place at the helm of the First Order.

He needed a way to control every aspect of this show, a way to disarm his potential enemies. He had originally thought of his ship as the location for it, even sent Ren the coordinates to it, but now he was having second thoughts. There were too many variables, too many uncontrollable scenarios. Since there were no more Death Stars or Starkiller bases, he decided on planet Orhan-2492. It had a large outpost, state of the art fire power and best of all, the entire planet had an impenetrable shield around it. All of the planet’s traffic was done through a shield gate, he would have full control of who and what got on to the planet. He smiled his usual way, with the corner of his lips turned down, proud of his decision.

 

Chapter Text

 

                                                               his fire

 

 

 

 

Ben was not surprised to see the greeting party as he landed on Hux’s ship. There were several squadrons of stormtroopers and no Hux. Good, he thought, he’s still intimidated by me, or my powers , he quickly corrected himself. Hux never seemed too impressed with Kylo Ren, he saw him only as an obstacle in his way to Snoke’s favors.

One of the troopers presented him with a pair of cuffs. He looked at them in disgust, then snarled, the trooper instinctively inclined his body backwards, away from him. The others aimed their blasters in his direction.

He extended his hands and a pair of cuffs were promptly wrapped around his wrists. The trooper then removed his lightsaber from his belt and handed it to one of his comarads, who promptly left with it. Ben couldn’t help but turn his head towards the man, his eyes following him until they lost sight of him. He knew it was coming, but he hated being apart from his lightsaber. He had thought about leaving it behind, hiding it, but Hux would be suspicious if he did so.

He gritted his teeth and followed the trooper almost mindlessly, his thoughts were with Rey now, he could feel her, she was close. There was something wrong, her presence in the Force was faint, too faint. He wanted to break out of the cuffs, and run for her, he could do it so easily, with just a thought, but he wasn’t about to show that card to them. Unfortunately, he had to stay put and stick to the plan. Fuck!

He felt Hux too, felt his pride, his shelf assuredness. He wanted to poke around in his mind, but he couldn’t, not without him noticing, and Rey paying the price for it.

He focused on Rey again, trying to see if she was giving off anything, a thought, an emotion. It wouldn’t be like last time he tried to read her mind, mind reading was only painful if one put up barriers and the other went through them. If her mind was open to him, he could read it, as easily as a holo-message. There was nothing there, no barriers, but also no thoughts, just emptiness and darkness. He couldn’t stop himself from worrying about it, about her. He lowered his barriers for her, in case she would sense him, he could tell her the plan, let her know that help was coming for her.

He snapped out of that like a broken rubber band. “What the fuck are you doing?” he admonished himself? “ If she knows you’re here, if she knows the plan she might fight it, might try and get you out too, might end up killing herself and the rest of the Resistance in the process, you can’t take that chance.”. He put his barriers back up.

 

***

 

Chewie growled angrily at Poe.

“Maybe thirty years ago, but not anymore.” Poe snapped back. “Look, I’m not trying to insult it…”

“Her!” Chewie barked.

“Her, I’m not trying to insult her, but she’s an old… lady now, there’s far better and faster ships out there and we’ll need them. Not to mention she’s probably number one on the First Order’s take down on sight list, it’s not like we can be inconspicuous in it.”

Chewie bared his teeth at that.

They were making their approach on one of the First Order bases listed on Kylo Ren’s drive. Poe chose this one because it seemed to have both of the things he needed, while also not being one of the best guarded bases.

He went through the folder again, and set up a plan.  The trick was getting in unnoticed and getting out without leaving anyone behind that could jeopardize the Resistance mission, there would be no First Order survivors today. It would be tricky and dangerous but worth it, he needed to get into the base's command center and he needed the ships for his plan to work, it was a different plan, one that he didn’t mention to anyone, one that was even more far fetched than the one to save Rey.

The Falcon jumped out of hyperspace, followed by the freighter they procured on the supply run and two other Resistance ships.

“It’s go time.”

 

***

 

“Fitting.” He thought with a bitter smile, as the trooper walked him into the torture room, the same type of interrogation chair as the one he had both Poe and Rey strapped to was waiting for him in the middle of the room. 

The trooper, the same one that had inched back in fright just minutes ago, seemed to have a need to assert his dominance, show the many other troopers that positioned themselves in a semi circle around Ben, that he was the one in control, and not the former Supreme Leader. He did so by pushing Ben hard towards the chair, almost making him stumble.

Rage was searing through his veins as he tilted his head to the side, eyeing the trooper.

“Get in,” the trooper ordered.

The tension in the room increased as the trooper removed the cuffs on his wrists, the rest of his comrades watching Ben’s every move, fingers ready on the triggers. Ben wondered if they were set to kill or stun, he imagined they were set to stun, Hux would not allow mere troopers to kill his greatest trophy. After all, he needed him alive, at least for a while.

When his wrist were free, Ben positioned himself on the chair, but the last occupant must have been significantly shorter than him. The wrist and arm restraints, as well as the feet ones were not aligned properly for his long, thick body.

The trooper haltered his blaster and started aligning the restrains, he started with his hands, as soon as the alignment was complete on both he closed them securely.

He them moved down to his feet, he aligned the right leg and closed the cuff, but when he moved to his left leg, he was met with the full power of Ben’s kick dead center in his masked face, the hit so powerful it threw the trooper back three feet, knocking him unconscious.

“You are all too insignificant to even try to fuck with me.” He said looking around the room. He could almost hear the troopers gulping in unison, and although all of them raised and pressed fingers to triggers, none of them actually fired their blasters. “ So I was right, ” he thought, “Hux wants all the glory of my demise to be his.”

He didn’t want to push his luck, he didn’t want Rey to pay for this little show, and since his point was made, he kicked the empty restraint to its proper place, then positioned his leg inside.  He gave one of the troopers a look that said I’m waiting. The trooper cautiously bend down and locked the last of the restraints.

He fought to keep a satisfied look off his face as two troopers dragged their injured fellow soldier out of the room.

 

***

 

Rose felt weird in the trooper uniform, her feet were barely long enough to fit even uncomfortably in it, her hands almost not long enough to be able to move her elbows properly, excess black fabric coming out at the groin, knees and elbows. She had chosen the smallest uniform she could find, still it wasn’t short enough for her petite frame.

She felt even more nervous than the last time she and Finn snuck on a First Order ship.

Oh Gods !” She thought and a little shiver of panic was traveling down her back, “ This is exactly like last time, we’re trusting someone we don’t know, what if she sells us out, like DJ? ” The shiver turned into goosebumps, “But she saved us, why would she save us just to sell us out later? It makes no sense, she’s good people, it’s okay Rose, you’re okay! ” she comforted herself.

“You’re too short for a stormtrooper.” Finn teased her, unaware of her inner thoughts.

She snapped out of the pit of thoughts and wrinkled her nose at him.

He looked her up and down with amusement. “Okay, that’s it, this is ridiculous.” He said as he grabbed her hand and took her to an empty corner of the ship.

“Take it off.” He demanded and Rose growled in protest.

“I’m gonna fix it for you, you gotta look the part, Rose.”

She fumbled with the plastoid armor around her right foot, her gloved fingers not getting enough grip on it.

Finn did not stop a laugh from escaping his lips as he kneed down in front of her and removed the armor, one by one.

“How are you gonna fix it, you carry a needle and thread for such emergencies?”

“No, Miss Smarty Parts,” Finn said looking up at her, amused annoyance on his face, “I took a surgical staple gun from the first aid kit.”

He pulled on the sleeves of the black shirt then doubled back on the extra the fabric. He stapled the fabric together, then lifted her arms above her head, he took in the extra fabric on the sides with an amused expression on his face. There wasn’t much he could do about the gloves, her fingers just a little shorter than the previous owner’s, but he folded the wrist area of the glove into a pleat and secured it with a couple of staples, at least it would not ride down her hand.

He looked around, checking to see if they were alone, then he moved to mend her pants.

He lifted the pants up until their crotch and her actual crotch were aligned, he rolled the waistband around itself a couple of times then stapled it in place, he did the same with the leg openings.

He was looking up into her eyes as he moved his hands slowly up her thighs, letting them linger, pressing fingers into the soft flesh.

“What are you doing?”

“Making sure it fits properly.” He winked up at her.

She bent down and slaped his hands off of her leg. “Not the time, babe.” she protested, then kissed him gently on the lips.

“Looks better now.” Finn declared proud of his work.

Before Rose had  the chance to agree, the ship shook gently as it jumped out of hyper-drive. Through a porthole they could see a glimpse of Hux’s ship in the distance, it looked small, dark and grave-like.

 

***

 

“Heard you had a little fun.” Hux said with a smirk on his face, entering the room Ben was held in.  “I will not insult either of us by reminding you who will pay the price if you try that on me.”

 

“Let me see her!” Ben demanded.

 

Hux chuckled to himself, then pressed a few buttons, on top of his holo-watch a tiny hologram of a sleeping Rey popped up.

 

She looked so peaceful, so unaware of anything, he thanked the Force for that.

 

Hux closed the pad, and Ben growled in protest.

 

“She is safe, for now.” He said moving around the room. “It’s up to you how long she stays that way.”

 

“Leave us.” The General ordered the many troopers in the room, and they exited without a word.

 

“I have to tell you, Supreme Leader,” Hux mocked, “I had a hard time stopping myself from having some fun with your Jedi, I feel a little cheated.” He moved closer to him, grabbing a handful of his hair with his gloved hand and pulling hard on it, “But I consoled myself with the thought of trying all the fun things on you instead.” There was a horrible smile on his face as he added. “Well, almost all.”

 

Ben didn’t want to know what that meant. “Fuck you!” He spit out and was promptly met with the back of Hux’s hand over his face.

 

Through gritted teeth Hux spat out each word, “You are not in control here, I am.” he said and backhanded him across the face again.

 

Hux straightened his back and pressed a button on his watch, a few moments later a trooper pushed a metal cart into the room and set it by the wall that was facing the chair.

 

Ben moved his head around, peeking at the cart, he could see different torture tools and several syringes filled with strange looking fluids. He recognized some of them. Fuck!

He realized he was afraid, he was afraid of the pain that he would be subjected to but mostly, he was afraid that the rage that was building up inside him would explode and he would kill Hux. Within any other circumstances, that would have not been a problem, but he sensed that if he did so, Rey would meet her demise shortly after.  This would be an exercise in pain tolerance and anger management. Fuck!

 

“Don’t worry,” Hux said, gliding gloved fingers over the tools, “I have specifically chosen ones that leave almost no marks on you, I wouldn’t want you to be unrecognizable for your big day.”

 

He took his time looking at and touching each of the tools, deciding which one was best suited for what he wanted.

 

“On second thought,” Hux said, “it’s only the face that needs to be recognizable.”

 

“Cut off his shirt, then leave.” Hux commanded the trooper that had brought in the cart.

 

When the door closed, he turned and looked at the former Supreme Leader, topless in a torture chair. His body already looked like it had been through a lot: the long scar that started on his forehead and  went past his collarbone, the blaster wound on his side, the lightsaber burn on both of his shoulders, and other, smaller scars. 

 

Hux wrapped his hand over the plastoid handle of a thin metal rod, and with the switch of a button, electric arcs danced on the metal. “This is a good start.”

 

He moved with measured steps towards Ben’s body, like he wanted to build up the anticipation, let him know what was coming, having him lay there powerless to prevent it, then pressed the rod to his side, on the scar that Chewbacca had given him.

 

All of Ben’s body tensed at the contact, his muscles spasming individually in what felt like a hundred contractions per second, his teeth clattering in his mouth, his body completely unresponsive.

 

When Hux removed the rod, Ben gulped at air that had refused to move in or out of his body, every inch of him still shaking in shock, his heart pounding in his chest.

 

He knew he shouldn’t do it, nothing good could come out of antagonizing Hux, but he couldn’t help himself, he could not just lay there and take it, that was not who he was.

 

“Is that all you got,” He said, with a fake smile on his face, “a tickle?”

 

Hux pushed the rod deeper in his side, making a concave indentation in his skin. He made sure he kept it there longer than last time. The smell of burnt flesh was beginning to fill his nostrils, Ben’s screams filled his ears. “As I said, we’re just getting started.”

 

***

 

As soon as she stepped off the ship, Edisa moved towards one of the troopers on duty.

 

“Where’s General Hux?”

 

“He’s having some fun with Kylo Ren.” The trooper laughed.

 

Edisa growled inwardly, she wanted to punch the trooper in the face, not because of some sort of sympathy for the former leader, but because she hated this sort of attitude that had become part of  trooper culture.

 

“As you were.” She said in a way that sounded like a fuck you .

 

She moved back to where her troopers and incognito Resistance members were gathered. On the way here she had detailed a plan for when they landed, they would split into three groups, to be less suspicious. The first group would be made of her non-essential troopers, the second one mostly out of non-essential Resistance members and a few of her troopers to guide them, the third was her and the essential Resistance members and troopers. The third group was the smallest: Her, Finn, Rose and three of her best men.

 

Group one was to go about their business as usual. For fear of interaction with other troopers, group two was to keep out of sign until needed, and group three was to find out Rey’s actual location and Hux’s plan for her and, to some extent, Ben.

 

“One and two, you know what you have to do,” She said and she was met with several nods, “three, follow me, we have work to do.”

 

Group three made it into her little command center without any issue, a quick status check let her know that the other two had done the same.

 

Edisa pulled up a map of Hux’s ship on her holo-table, she pressed a few buttons and four little red dots showed up on the blueprint of the ship. “We’re assuming he’s keeping her in one of these locations, two of them are on the port side, the other on the starboard side of the ship. Finn and Qu' you two take the port side, Maro and Wes you got the starboard. Do not split up to save time, we are not yet strapped for time and making sure we’re not found out is more important. Do you understand?”

 

Her men nodded in agreement, Finn looked at Rose then at Edisa, he nodded an yes too.

 

“What about me?” Rose complained.

 

“You’re with me.” Was all that Edisa said.

 

***

 

“I think that was enough payback for the Force choke.” Hux said, putting the electro-prod down on the metal cart. “Now, for the time you humiliated me in front of my men on Crait….” He moved his gloved fingers across the cart feeling like a kid in a candy store. What should he choose next, there were so many delicious options. His eyes moved to the syringes. “Eeny, Meeny, Mini, Moe…” his fingers wrapped around the one with a reddish liquid. Hux did not bother to memorize the scientific name of this concoction, but he knew the common name for it: god-fire. It was named that because it felt like the fury of gods was flowing through the victim’s veins, burning him or her from the inside. It wasn’t deadly, usually, but it made its victims wish it were.

 

Ben’s body was sleek with sweat, some of his muscles still contracting uncontrollably, like they still felt phantom electricity running through them. His chin was shaking and he trying to regain some form of control, control from the pain he had been subjected to, control over his own feelings.

 

His anger had risen and risen, it was harder and harder for him to control himself, he could make all of this stop, all of it. With just a thought he could snap Hux’s neck, or even better, he could unlock his restrains and put Hux in the chair, have some fun at Hux's expense, make him pay for this, for Rey, for Leia. God, he wanted nothing more than that. Nothing, except keeping Rey safe.

 

Hux turned and Ben caught a glimpse of the syringe, he knew exactly what was in it.

 

“No!” He yelled moving against his restraints. He wasn’t strong enough to just fight through the pain, he knew he would snap, and with him so would Hux’s neck.

 

Hux grinned at him, thinking that his fear was for his own safety. “If you like this, you’re gonna love what I have in store for when you plotted to kill me.”

 

***

 

“So what am I doing?” Rose asked as soon as the others left her command center.

 

“Nothing.”

 

Rose opened her mouth to protest.

 

“You’re tiny and no matter how much Finn tried, this is not suitable trooper attire.” She said looking her up and down. The uniform was looking better, but it wouldn’t pass even mild scrutiny. “We have to keep you out of sight as much as possible, you can either stay here with me, or go with the second group, your choice.”

 

Rose tried to cross her arms at that, but the trooper uniform was too bulky on her, one arm kept slipping off, making rattling noises in the process.

 

“Case in point, get that thing off.” Edisa said already pressing buttons on the holo-table.

 

Begrudgingly, Rose obeyed, or tried to. “Uhm… I’m gonna need some help with that.”

 

“What were you doing?” Rose asked as Edisa was removing the armor. “Just now, on the holo-table.”

 

“Setting up a backup plan, in case shit hits the fan.” Edisa answered, pulling off a leg armor.

 

“What about Poe?”

 

“If he shows up, great. If not, we won’t be stranded.”

 

“Why wouldn’t he show up?” Rose asked with a frown on her face.

 

“You’re the one that knows the guy, not me.”

 

“Yeah, that’s why I’m having a hard time believing he’ll just abandon us.”

 

“Plan for the worse and you’ll never get disappointed.” She winked at her.

 

“Do you always do that?”

 

“Do what?”

 

“Shove your true feelings under a blanket of humor and what was that, smartassness, or flirting?”

 

Edisa looked up at her and removed the armor off of her other leg. She was not in the mood for that talk, Rose’s little stab in the dark hit just a little too close for comfort.

 

“Finn is gonna join you, if we make it out alive.” Rose blurred out. “He will tell you... after this. I need to know that he’ll be safe, since I won’t be there with him, I need to know someone would be there looking out for him.”

 

“You know how we all feel about Finn, he will be fine, everyone would probably consider it their personal mission to keep him safe, which is going to be highly annoying.” She said with a smile.

 

“There, you’re free now,” Edisa added removing the last of the armor off Rose, “and I got work to do.”

 

“I’ll help.”

 

***

 

There was almost no delay between the moment that Hux pushed the plunger on the syringe and the moment the pain started.

 

He started screaming before he realized what he was doing. Fire was burning through his arteries, starting with his left arm, moving down it towards his hand, it was the worst physical pain he had ever felt, he cared for nothing but stopping the pain, he would gladly cut off his own arm if it meant the pain would stop.

 

Pain and rage and pain again hit him in alternating waves, each fighting for his full attention. He could feel the liquid traveling though his body, setting it on fire, burning him alive without the mercy of death. Through eyes filled with tears of pain he could see a foggy Hux leaning on the wall in front of him, laughing, he was actually laughing.

 

The rage in his heart matched the fire in his blood and he knew that if he didn’t do something about it right now, he would kill Hux.

 

He gritted his teeth and tried to erase the image of Hux from his mind, tried to make himself deaf to his laughter. He went inside of himself, he needed to hide his mind from the pain, he needed something that would calm his rage. He couldn’t find it.

 

Rey, a voice inside him said.

 

Rey, yes, always Rey, always his answer yes. But what could she do about it, how could she help him from her own cell somewhere across the ship? The thought of Hux doing this to her made him even angrier, he didn’t needed anymore anger, he needed something to calm him down.

 

Rey! She could do that, just being around her had calmed his demons before, she could do that, but she was still unconscious and far from him, and when had that ever stopped them? But if she knew of this, she might try something stupid, risk the entire mission. He dismissed the thought.

 

The fire had reached his shoulder, it would soon travel to his heart, then lungs, then go back through his entire body, the pain would soon be unbearable. He gritted his teeth and waited for it to come, it knocked the air out of him when the fire reached his heart and his lungs. There was no doubt in his mind that the concoction was rightfully named, he felt the fury of all the Gods of the Galaxy burning him alive from the inside out. He could hear himself screaming, yelling, fighting to break free of his restraints.

 

He heard Hux’s laughter again and it took all his strength to stop himself from killing him.

Rey was his last option, he would have to take the chance, if he heard Hux’s laughter again he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop himself.

 

For the first time, he actually tried to open their connection, he concentrated all the power he could muster to opening their bond. He felt the Force buzz around him and he found himself in Rey’s cell, in the corner, her body lay on it’s side on a cold metal bench, her back leaning on a wall. That was all he could see of her surroundings.

 

His body was free of his restrains, he looked down on himself and realized, to his shock, that he was on fire, and not just the fire that was burning through his veins, but actual fire - his mind’s representation of what his physical body was feeling.

 

Rey! He had just laid eyes on her and he could already feel his anger dissipating, unfortunately, it did nothing for his pain. He stumbled as the fire reached his legs, he needed to sit. He gently, cautiously placed a burning finger on her ankle, paying attention to her every movement, there was none. As he hoped, as he begged the Force and the gods, she didn’t feel the fire, that meant that he could touch her, it brought a little happiness to his burning heart, his fire would not burn her.

 

He moved towards the other end of the bed, where two walls met, he lifted her head gently and squeezed himself between the wall and her, then placed her head in his lap.

 

Fiery fingers caressed her cheeks, “I’m here.”

 

He could feel his entire body on fire, burning him alive from the inside, the pain was almost unbearable, but somehow, in this metal cell with Rey in his arms, he found the strength to fight, to hold on, and to let go of the rage.

 

He heard Hux’s laughter again.

 

“He’ll pay for this, for all of it.” He said, his fingers now combing through her chopped hair.

 

Rey’s lip curled upwards, and he didn’t know if it was because she could hear him, or because of what she was dreaming, or if maybe it was just an uncontrolled muscle movement, whatever it was, it made his heart lighter, his pain a little less than before.

 

“I don’t know if you can hear me, I hope you can and I hope you can’t, but I have to tell you something.” There were tears in his eyes, tears of pain, not the ones brought on by the fire, but the ones brought on by… her. “Your life had been my life’s best part.” He bent down and placed a soft kiss on her cheek. Another wave of pain crashed over him.

 

He felt her hand wrap around his index fingers. He felt the pain dwindle a little again. He looked at her, searching for another movement from her body, non came. With his thumb he caressed the hand that was holding on to his finger. “I love you so much.”

 

They stood like that, the unconscious woman and the burning man, holding on to each other like a precious treasure. They stood like that until Ben’s body gave up in the torture chair, until the connection faded.

 

Chapter Text

 

***

 

In a small command center, deep inside Hux’s ship, Rose looked intently at the four unmasked stormtrooper holograms floating in mid air above a holo-table.

 

“I need you to be a short hyperdrive jump away from our current location.” Edisa said to the second from the left. “You will be our backup getaway ship. Gather everyone and make your way towards us, wait for my signal to make the last jump out of hyperspace.” The trooper nodded in response.

 

“I need the rest of you,” Edisa continued, “to be ready to leave your posts as soon as we’re in the clear and I give the signal. Plan accordingly ahead of time.”

She looked them over one by one. “This is it, this is the day the second part of our lives begins.”

 

The conference had started a few minutes ago with Edisa giving them an abridged version of the past several hours. The news of First Order secrets in their hands had made a crack in the very formal way they had conducted themselves, they seemed to be both intrigued and excited for the news.

 

Rose couldn’t help but wonder, with them being on the inside for so long, how they hadn’t manage to get all that information on their own, it made sense that they would have access to at least some of it. But it also made sense to not let them have access to trooper training facilities information, just in case the conditioning didn’t take as well as thought.  

 

“Starboard clear, no sign of the package.” Maro said through the earpiece in both Edisa’s and Rose’s ear.

 

“Copy that. Return to command center.” Edisa replied.

 

A few minutes later Finn’s voice came through, “Port side clear, there’s no sign of uhm…the package on our side either.”

 

Rose looked up at Edisa at that.

 

“What do we do?” Finn asked with thick worry in his voice.

 

“Return to command center, there’s another way we can find out.”

 

Rose noticed that they kept their words as vague as possible, probably another security measure on the off chance that someone was listening in.

 

“Group one,” Edisa said without missing a beat, “I need you to get on that, check if there’s any word on the package through the grapevine.”

 

“Copy that.” Came a quick response.

 

“Grape vine?” Rose asked with a puzzled look.

 

“Troopers are the biggest gossipers, you should hear the cantina at lunch time.” Edisa replied with a smile. “We might get lucky and find a lead.”

 

“Should we worry?” Rose asked, “About … the package.”

 

“No, not yet.”

 

“When then?”

 

Before Edisa opened her mouth to answer, the entire ship shook slightly.

 

“Hyperspace!” Both exclaimed at the same time, matching worried looks on their faces.

 

***

 

To his mild surprise, Hux  realized that he could watch Kylo Ren cry out in pain only so many times, until it became… boring . It had started pleasurable enough, even almost cathartic, and at times truly amusing, but as most things it his life, it had lost the appeal much too quickly.

 

Satisfied with the amount of pain he had inflicted on Kylo Ren, at least for now, he decided to return to other, more important things. He was in his smaller command center, close to the main bridge, his hand hovered over the two objects that lay on his table, one he was familiar with, the other he was not. The former was Kylo’s lightsaber, the latter Rey’s.

 

He grabbed Kylo’s and weighed it his hands, the hilt was thicker than he had thought, suited for Kylo’s monstrously large hands, he pressed the button and it came to life in shades of red, cracking with untamed power. The sharp, pungent smell of ozone filled his nostrils and he wrinkled them in disgust. He moved the lightsaber up and down and side to side, getting a real feel for it, it felt heavy and almost feral, more like a living thing that one subdued into the shape of a lightsaber, than an inanimate object. He felt he had to adjust his hand movements to match the crackling and twisting of the plasma blade. He had heard that the cracked crystal was what gave it that appearance, why it made the sounds it did, but either way, he did not care for it much.

 

He turned it off and laid it back down on the table, picking up the other lightsaber, the hilt was thinner than Kylo’s but also strangely longer, long enough to be held comfortably with both hands and leave room to spare. It looked like a poor man’s version of a lightsaber made with recycled parts.  “ Fitting, for the scavenger rat ,” he thought.

 

He pressed the button and it turned on, the same pungent smell filled his nostrils. Unlike Kylo’s saber, this one came to life in soft shades of blue, the cracking was more like the low buzz of  a neon light, the plasma blade much better contained in a long, smooth shape. It also felt lighter than Kylo’s saber in his hands, much more maneuverable. He mimicked a few striking poses, then put it back down.

 

He had a little conundrum, which one should he use to separate Kylo’s head from his body? Should he kill him with his own weapon, or with his lover’s? He imagined his weapon would leave a ragged scar on his neck, maybe even hurt more, he liked the thought of that. On the other hand, using the desert rat’s saber to kill Kylo seemed more poetic, but he wasn’t a man that cared for poetry.

 

He decided to go with the scavenger saber just because he could inflict a little more pain into Kylo’s soon to be short life by destroying his lightsaber in front of him.

 

Choosing Rey’s saber meant that he could kill two birds with one stone, or better put, kill the same bird twice, once by destroying his lightsaber, the second time, for good, by removing his horrid head from his body.

 

Pleased with his decision, he moved to more important matters. On the holo pad he reviewed the messages he had received while being occupied with teaching Ren a lesson.

 

There were some generals he needed to update on the matters at hand, and A-1084 had returned from her mission, he would need to set up security details with her.

 

***

 

“Poe, what’s your status update?” Edisa’s voice rang in his ear.

 

He found himself smiling at her voice. “We’re good, we stopped and picked up some ships from a First Order base, we’ll be ready to go soon. How are things on your end?”

 

He could swear he heard her let out a sigh before responding. “Not great, Rey is not where we thought she would be and we just jumped into hyperspace.”

 

“Shit.”

 

“Yeah, shit. We’re trying to find her actual location. I’ll give you our new coordinates and  keep you up to date as much as I can as soon as we jump out of hyperspace. Edisa out.”

 

“Copy that.”

A man’s groans reached his ears from somewhere to his left, he quickly grabbed his blaster and shot the wounded First Order officer dead. There can’t be any survivors today.

 

He put the blaster back down on the command center desk, on a monitor he could see the rest of the Resistance getting the ships ready in one of the hangars.

 

He quickly combed his hair with his fingers and cleared his throat, then pressed the little red REC button on the holo-recorder.

 

A few minutes later he called his droid. “Beebee-Ate”, I need you to do something for the Resistance.”

 

The droid beeped a question.

 

“I need you to stay behind and send this message when I give you the signal.”

 

The droid rolled back a few inches in surprise.

 

“I wouldn’t ask you if it weren’t important, you know that.”

 

BB-8 moved back closer to Poe and beeped “What message? Why?”

 

“See for yourself.” Poe said, inserting the video file into one of the droids slots.  

 

 

***

 

“No leads on the package, everything is held tightly under wraps.” One of her troopers voice rang in her ear.

 

“Copy.” Edisa answered with disappointment in her voice. “Keep trying, but don’t push it, we don’t want to raise any suspicion.”

 

Edisa’s holopad began to flash, she glanced at it, then looked at Rose.

 

“Hux wants me. You stay here, out of sight. Nobody besides our people should wonder in here, but just in case, stay hidden.”

 

Rose nodded.

 

“I’ll try to find out as much as possible.” Edisa said putting her helmet back on.

 

Rose watched her leave, the ship still slightly shaking while moving through hyperspace.  

 

***

 

“All this and they still don’t respect you, or even fear you.” Hux raged in his mind after he finished updating the generals, his hands clenched tight on the edge of his holo-table.

 

Four of them had informed him that they would not be physically attending the meeting he set up, they were... busy .  

 

Busy?!” The insult ran through his veins like wildfire, igniting his rage, spreading it through his entire body. Would they have given Supreme Leader Snoke the same answer? Of course they wouldn’t, they would be already on their way, hearts and minds filled with respect and fear.  

 

“They will pay for this,” he said out loud through gritted teeth, “all four of them! The rest of the galaxy will speak of their fates with horror. I will destroy every single one of them!” He yelled out, fists hitting the holo table with full force.

 

He snarled at the sound of Ren’s lightsaber hitting the floor, he bent down and picked it up. He looked at it with rage filled eyes “You!” he said, wrapping the saber tightly in his hand.

 

“You!” he snarled at it,  the saber that in his eyes, represented Kylo Ren. “ If it weren’t for you, if it weren’t for Snoke’s obsession with you and the Force…” He let out a wild scream of rage before he hit the saber again, and again, and again on the side of the table, little screws flying out of it, metal cross guard bending inward from the force of the blows. He kept hitting it long after the power cell fell out of the broken casing, followed by the diatium core, long after the small, red kyber crystal hit the metal floor with a klank. He kept hitting it until there was nothing left of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber but the bent and dented metal casing, until Hux’s rage was quenched.

 

***

 

Edisa lost her balance for a second as the ship jumped out of hyperspace. She took a deep breath and calmed the little nerves that were beginning to form in the pit of her stomach.

 

“General.” Edisa said, making her way inside of Hux’s personal command center. Before he turned from his viewpoint in front of the large window, she had a chance to glance at the mess that lay on the floor in front of the holo-table. She recognized Kylo’s saber metal casing. Shit.

 

“He’s not in a good mood” she thought, but when he turned to her there was nothing on his face to betray him. His face was as blank as usual, his usual smugness just a muscle movement away.

 

“A-1084, I’d like to congratulate you on a job well done, finally getting rid of the Resistance pests.” He said with what almost passed for a smile.

 

“Thank you, sir.”

 

“Come,” he beckoned her, turning back around to look out the ship’s window. “I have something planned for later, down on this planet, all of the First Order generals will be joining us, in one form or another. I need you to provide security for the generals.”

 

For the generals?” Edisa asked as she positioned herself to his right. Outside the window she could see a small planet, a blue haze seemed to incase it. “ Planetary shields.” she thought.

 

Hux turned and smiled at her, “That’s the official story.”

 

“And unofficially?”

 

“You’re there to keep them in check, make sure there won’t be any surprises.”

 

“Understood, any other pertinent information I should be aware of?”

 

“I’ve captured the Jedi woman and former Supreme Leader Kylo Ren.” Hux turned and gave her an upside down smile. “A public execution will send the right message to the generals and to the rest of the galaxy.”

 

“Do you want some of my men guarding either of them?” she ventured.

 

“That won’t be necessary.” he said looking out into space at the First Order transporter that was making its way towards the planet. Hux continued telling her all the details of the plan that she needed to know.

 

Although she made sure to pay attention to his every word, her mind was screaming with: “Shit, shit, shit! One or both of them is on that transporter.”  

 

***

 

As she made her way back to her own little command center, Edisa couldn’t help but feel the weight of a freighter on her shoulders. She desperately wanted to take the helmet off of her head and just breathe, but she couldn’t yet, it wouldn’t be appropriate for her status.

 

After thinking it through, she had decided that only one of them was on the First Order transporter heading to the planet, it wouldn’t make sense to have both of the two most powerful people in the galaxy on the same ship. If Kylo were to find himself on the same ship with Rey, he would probably just murder everyone on it and make a run for it.

 

What made the most sense, especially since they were unable to find her on Hux’s ship, was that Rey was the one on that transporter. Fuck!

 

How would they get her out now? Hux had informed her of the planetary shields and the single small gate that would control all the traffic in and out of the planet. They could get on to the planet, no problem, maybe even manage to sneak Rey out of where she was kept, but there was no way they would be able to get to that gate before anyone noticed she was missing, and there was also the biggest problem, of how would they open the gate?

 

She stopped in front of the solid metal door of her command center and took her helmet off, she took in deep, hungry breaths. She could no longer be a part of this, it had turned into a suicide mission and she couldn’t, wouldn’t risk the lives of her people just to save one Jedi.

 

***

 

Ben woke up in the same torture chair he had passed out in, every inch of his body aching from all the maltreatment it had received. Through hazy eyes he saw that he was surrounded by troopers again.

 

He looked inside the Force, trying to feel Rey like he did when he first landed on the ship, but he couldn’t. His heart started pounding. Did they save her, was she safe with the Resistance? He didn’t know, couldn’t know for sure, not unless he opened the bond.

 

He looked around the room at the troopers, if he opened the bond he wouldn’t be able to speak, for they would hear it. If he opened the bond and she was safe and she saw him like this…

He shook the thought out of his mind, he couldn’t risk it.

 

***

 

As soon as Edisa closed the door behind her, she was assaulted with questions.

 

“Did you find her?” Finn asked, taking off his own mask.

 

“What did Hux want?” Rose added, stepping out from the shadows.

 

The other troopers in the room were silent, waiting for their leader to speak.

 

Edisa exhaled and set her helmet down. Where should she begin? “We should get Poe on this.” she said tapping on her ear piece.

 

“Poe, you with us?”

 

“I’m with you.” Poe’s voice came through all their earpieces. “We’re halfway to your last known location.”

 

“Hux’s little show will be held on the planet we’re currently orbiting, Orhan-2492,” Edisa said to everyone, “he chose it because of the planetary shields, and it’s one and only shield gate that he has full control of.”

 

“Okay, well that’s Kylo’s problem.” Finn said.

 

“By now Rey should already be on the planet.” Edisa added.

 

“No!” Finn almost cried out, and Rose wrapped a hand around his arm, the same worried face shared between them.

 

“What do we do now?” Rose asked.

 

“There’s nothing we can do. We can get down to the planet, maybe even manage to find Rey, but we will never get her, and ourselves out of there alive. It’s a suicide mission now.”

 

“We can’t just abandon her!” Finn argued. “We could take the shields down, we could smuggle a code breaker down to the planet. Yes! Maz!” He exclaimed excited looking at Rose, “We could get Maz, she could take down the shields! Poe, you can go get her and bring her here.”

 

“There isn’t time, Hux wants the troopers down to the planet as soon as possible, and…” Edisa paused and took a breath, “… and I won’t lead my people to death on the slim to none chance we can save her.”

 

“You promised, you said you’d help us.” Finn said, hurt in his eyes.

 

“I did and I have helped, because I thought there was a chance, but now there isn’t one.”

 

“Fine, don’t help then, just take me down to the planet.” Finn said with anger in his voice.

 

“And me.” Rose added.

 

“What are you two going to do? You’re no army, just an ex-trooper and half a trooper.” she said pointing a hand towards Rose’s small frame.

 

She closed her eyes for a second then exhaled. “Look, I know you care about her, but if you go down there, the only thing you’ll accomplish is killing yourselves.”

 

She looked at her troopers and said, “This is our chance to leave the First Order, we could jump on a ship,  leave and never come back.”

 

Poe, who had been uncharacteristically quiet, choose to intervene at that. “If you leave now you will be hunted by the First Order for the rest of your lives. If you stay and fight, we have a Hail Force chance of taking down the First Order, if not completely, then at least deal them a blow they won’t recover from.”

 

“How so?” Edisa asked.

 

***

 

Hux’s little show had one thing that could work to the Resistance’s advantage, it gathered all of the First Order generals in the same place, the perfect opportunity for an ambush. As soon as that thought had entered Poe’s mind,  he could not shake it. It was too good of an opportunity to pass it up, that’s why he had chosen that First Order base. Besides the ships he needed, it had one of the best broadcasting capabilities in the system.

 

He had almost all he needed to take down the First Order, all the information, all the generals in the same place, at the same time, he only needed one more thing. Unfortunately, it was the most important thing, he needed fire power.

 

The ships he had liberated from the First Order were a good start but they were nothing compared to what the generals’ ships had to offer. He needed more ships, bigger ships, with more powerful weapons, he needed allies. That’s why he recorded the message.

 

He would have waited to send his plea for help until Rey was back with the Resistance. There was always the chance that his message would be intercepted, there was always the possibility of spies sending the message back to the First Order, so he would have waited, but now things were different, if they had any chance at getting her out and taking out the First Order the message had to be sent now.

 

“Beebee-Ate!” Poe said and he heard the droid’s happy beeps through the coms. “We got a change of plans, I need you to send that message now.”

 

The droid made a long, questioning beep.

 

“We need help to save Rey, we won’t make it by ourselves. Send the message and add these new coordinates to it.”

 

The droid beeped again and sent the message.

 

For the first time in his life, Poe did the closest thing he’d ever done to praying. “Uhm… Force, I know this isn’t how you usually work but, if you’re out there, we could really use some help right now.”

 

***

 

A trooper opened the door to Ben’s cell,  and ordered one of the other troopers that were already guarding him. “Take off his restraints.”  The rest of the troopers raised their weapons and pressed fingers to triggers.

 

As soon as Ben’s hands were free, the trooper threw a black shirt at him. “Put it on.” he ordered.

 

“Where are we going?” Ben asked, catching the shirt.

 

There was no answer.

 

“Where. Are. We. Going?” He asked again.

 

There was still no answer, but the troopers that had been guarding him seemed to tense up.

 

He eyed each of them as he put on the loose wrap around shirt, wincing when the fabric touched the burn mark on the side of his abdomen, he decided to leave it open for now.

 

“I will wipe the floor with all of you if I don’t get an answer.”

 

He wasn’t really going to do that, not to all of them, he didn’t want to anger Hux.

 

“We’re taking you to your death.” The trooper answered, a mix of snarl and arrogance in his voice.

 

But one of them… He could wipe the floor with one. He couldn’t help but wonder if the trooper was new or just plain stupid. Did he not know of Kylo Ren’s reputation? Of how feared he had been for so long, how troopers used to turn the other way just at the sight of him, and now this… piece of shit was giving him attitude. Kylo Ren would not have let the insult go unpunished, but after kicking the last trooper unconscious he did not want to test his luck, so he did nothing, after all the trooper did answer him.

 

“Your bitch is already there.” The trooper added unprompted and it took every single ounce of Ben’s control to not break the troopers neck with the Force. There wasn’t enough control in his body to stop him from shoving a hand underneath the back of the trooper’s helmet and slamming it into the metal wall, trooper head still attached.

 

“Call her names one more time.” He spat at the now cracked helmet, when he let go of it the trooper’s body fell to the floor.

 

Ben wondered if these troopers were the same from earlier, because they did not seem all that surprised with his reaction, and just as the ones from earlier, they did not shoot.

 

He stretched and cracked his back, releasing the tension that gathered there, then willingly offered his hands to be restrained.

 

As a trooper was cuffing his wrists behind his back, underneath his now calm appearance, an ocean was raging inside. Rey was still here, the Resistance didn’t save her.

 

***

 

In the main communications bases on dozens and dozens of planets, Poe Dameron’s face appeared:

 

“This is commander Poe Dameron, leader of the Resistance. I regret to inform you that General Leia Organa has been killed by General Hux. But because of that, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren has deserted the First Order and has shared its secrets with us.

 

We have access to a lot of information that will change the outcome of this war, but we need your help. The spark of freedom is not dead, it is alive and we have all that we need to turn it into a raging fire that will burn the First Order down.  

 

Rise and fight for freedom, for your families, for yourselves, for a better galaxy for you and your children!

 

Join us, the fate of our Galaxy is in your hands!”

 

***

 

As Ben was being escorted to the hangar, Edisa’s ship was already passing through the shield gate. Rose’s nose was almost pressed to the window,  taking in every detail she could notice about the gate.

The dark blue First Order uniform was a much better fit for her than the trooper uniform. With her hair properly tucked under her cap and the meanest look she could muster on her face she almost looked the part.

 

 

***

 

Rose looked up from the small holo-pod on her wrist. “We’re almost there, the shields control room should be right around the next corner.”

 

Edisa had shared with all of her team the maps and  blueprints that Hux had provided for her, it helped them act as if they knew where they were going and what they were doing.

Rose was surprised when she found herself slamming into Maro’s arm, she had anticipated him turning left on the corner her map showed and had moved accordingly, but since her eyes were still fixed on her holo-pad she did not see that there was no corner to take, just the same hard wall as the rest of the corridor.

 

“I don’t understand.” Rose asked looking up at the wall then down at the map and back again. “It should be here, why isn’t it here, what’s going on?”

 

“Your guess is as good as ours.” Maro answered in a thick voice.

 

She looked down on her holo-pod and flipped through the files on it, “Well, either this map is wrong,” she ran her gloved hand over the wall in front of her, “or, this wall isn’t really a wall and more of a door.”

 

“Which one is it?” Wes asked.

 

“One way to find out.”

 

“We have to be quiet about it.” Maro cautioned.

 

“Oh, we will.” Rose answered.

 

***

 

 

“We’ve been wandering around this base for hours now and we still haven’t found her!” Finn complained to Qu’, one of Edisa’s troopers. “Where the hell is he keeping her?”

 

The trooper didn’t bother answering Finn’s rhetorical question, he was getting just as frustrated with the situation.

 

They had landed a few hours ago and had split up into three groups, he, Finn and two other trooper friends had been put in charge of finding Rey.

 

The small resistance woman, Rose he believed was her name, and two of his friends Wes and Maro were trying to see if there was any way they could take the shields down from the inside.

 

The largest group was headed by Edisa, it was made up of three dozen regular, First Order obedient troopers, and just over a dozen and a half of their own people, both troopers and resistance.

Under the premise of their own protection, the third group was charged with making sure none of the generals posed any  real threat to Hux.

 

Qu’ looked down at the holo-pad embedded in the armor above his wrist, “We still have ground to cover, we should move.”

 

***

 

The base did not seem very different from any other First Order bases Edisa had had the displeasure of being dispatched to, in fact it was quite similar to the one on Starkiller. It even had a similar podium to the one that Hux made his infamous speech on. She remembered that day, being in the crowd of stormtroopers below the podium, gritting her teeth as Hux spilled lies into the ears of everyone in attendance, but that was nothing compared to what had come next. She still remembered the redness that filled the horizon, the heat she felt as the weapon fired on the Hosnian system, billions of innocent lives taken in one instant. She had been so very glad for the mask upon her face, for she could hide the tears that were running down it, tears of anger, of powerlessness and despair.  It had been a horrible day and she had been relieved to be sent off on a mission soon after. She needed to be as far away from the bulk of the First Order as she could. It had crossed her mind before that the mission probably saved her life, for the Resistance had managed, thankfully, to destroy the genocidal weapon. If only they could take down the genocider too.

 

“A god-dammed podium, of course the narcissist fuck needs a podium,” she thought looking up at the construction. It was almost triangular in shape, close to the rounded tip  she could see a chopping block had been placed there. She exhaled, “Hope you won’t lose your head for nothing, Kylo Ren.”

 

Around her, generals and their posses had begun to trickle in. She had a job she had to do, or pretend to do.

 

“Guys, you need to hurry!” She said quietly but her voice still rang in the team’s ear pieces.

 

***

 

Poe had never, in his entire life,  been as nervous as he was now. It had been hours since he sent that message and nothing, not a word from anyone.

 

No news is better than bad news . Poe kept telling himself as he nervously chewed on a nail. He stopped as soon as he realized what he was doing, he’d never been the nail chewer type, he’d always been the devil-may-care type. Part of him wanted to go back to that, the other, bigger part of him knew it was a one way street.

 

He had received an update from Edisa, and found out they weren’t able to locate Rey, or the shield control room yet. Yet , he hoped that was the operative word.

 

He started chewing on the nail of his other thumb, thinking about worst case scenarios. “What do we do if nobody shows up? Rey is dead for one.” He moved his head to one side then the other as he thought of scenarios, “Finn, Rose, Edisa and the rest might make it out if they just continue playing their parts, but knowing Finn he won’t be able to do that, and Rose will join him, and there goes all three of them. Fuck!” he punched the dashboard of the First Order cruiser he had liberated.

“Edisa and her people will probably make it out, they’re survivors, but it’s little consolation. At least Kylo Ren will be dead, so there’s that.”

 

He leaned back in the pilot chair and pressed the balls of his hands into his eye sockets, “I have to do nothing! If we don’t get any help and if Finn and Rose manage to keep their composure, their best chance at survival is them playing their part as troopers long enough to get off the planet. So i have to stay here with my hand up my ass. Fuck!” he kicked at something he hoped wasn’t too important.  

 

***

 

Finn and the other three troupers in his small group were almost finishing up their search when they heard Edisa’s voice in their ears.

 

“Guys…” She said then stopped for a moment. “It’s too late, she’s here.”

 

“What do you mean, she’s here?” Finn asked, already making his way back.

 

“She’s on the podium, they just brought her in and placed her on the floor, she’s unconscious and surrounded by two dozen troopers, not to mention all the other troopers that are below the podium.”

 

There was complete silence coming out of the ear pieces, nobody wanted to say the obvious.

 

It was Edisa who finally did.

 

“We lost.”

 

***

 

There were hot tears going down Rose’s cheeks, she wiped them off with her sleeve, but they kept coming, her vision was getting blurry. She could no longer focus on the panel they had managed to open in the fake wall. She was so very close to opening the fake wall she could feel it, she only needed just a few more minutes.

 

“Stop!” Maro ordered her, and she looked up at him.

 

“What? No!” she said with tear filled eyes, her voice low and weak.

 

“Stop. There’s no point in doing this anymore.” He grabbed her arm but she quickly pulled it out of his hand.

 

“If you, and Finn are to survive, you need to play the part of the shoes you’re in. We can’t risk being discovered here, not anymore.” He grabbed her arm again, “Let’s go!” he urged her.

 

Rose tried to escape out of his arm again, but he hold on tighter this time. “I will put you over my shoulder and carry you out of here.” He threatened.

 

Rose started walking by herself at that, head down, like the fight had been kicked out of her.

 

“And wipe your tears, First Order doesn’t cry.” he said behind her.

 

The trooper found himself feeling sorry for the small, crying girl, and realized that his words were harsh, but he had never been taught softer words. He thought saving her life was better than offering her soft, smoothing words anyway.

 

***

 

Ben found himself escorted unto a long suspended podium by two dozen troopers, as he moved forward he realized, the same amount of troopers were already arranged in four rows of three on each side of the narrow man made corridor he was making his way down.

 

“No!” Ben’s heart jumped out of his chest all of a sudden. “NO!”  

 

Further down the podium, towards the end of it, laying on the cold metal floor he could see glimpses of Rey’s body.

 

They didn’t save her! Desperation and anger swirled inside him. Did they just abandon her, he had trusted them with her life and they let her die?

The mix of emotions was spreading to very atom of his being much faster than god-fire had. He felt like a cornered animal, and it wasn’t even for his own self-preservation. His mind raced with scenarios, could he do it, could he save her life? She was still unconscious and they were surrounded by four dozen troopers, plus the troopers below the podium. It looked like an army of white broken up by black and blue uniforms down there. He wouldn’t be able to save her, and if they didn’t die during the attempt… he didn’t want to think about what Hux would do to both of them.

Hux was making his way from the tip of the podium to greet him. Ben wanted nothing more than to twist his head right off his body, but he pulled the reins on his anger.

 

“I would go down on my knees and beg you to spare her life, if I had the slightest hope that you would, but I know better than that.” Ben said meeting Hux’s eyes “So I am begging you to make it quick and painless.”

 

Hux looked at him with the same disgust he had been accustomed to.

 

“Fine.” Ben said clenching his jaw, “I will play whatever role you want me, say whatever you want me say in front of them,” he threw his chin towards the people gathered on the ground below, “if you swear that you will give her a painless death.”

 

Hux thought for a moment, weighing the options, he decided that giving the Jedi a painless death was a very small price to pay for making Ren his puppet.

 

“You have my word,” Hux said with a little smile on his face, “now, this is what I want you to say…”

 

***

 

In her mind the goo had turned into a mock hourglass, every drop marking the passage of time. There wasn’t much left, it would be time soon.

 

She lay on the dark floor, her feet crossed, waiting. She had stopped playing and replaying the vision in her head, had memorized every thing there was and she had a plan, the best she could come up with. She desperately hoped it would work.

 

“I guess I have to thank you,” she said to the darkness, “for showing me this, all of this. That’s what you wanted, right, to have me choose a path? To save him?”

 

“I know it’s been you all along, you’ve been inching us together for so long, connected our minds, our dreams… .Why? What do you want from us?”

 

Just as the last syllable escaped her mouth the word around her changed, like a holo-picture brought into existence with the touch of a button. Her eyes hurt at the sudden change in brightness, it took a while for them to adjust, when they did she found herself surrounded by a sea of green grass. She could feel her hand digging into the dense grass, like a plush carpet, as she lifted herself out of it. By the looks of it the grass had been meticulously kept by at least one talented gardener. Far in the distance she could see something shining under the sun, she put a hand over her brow, frowning at the sun and moved towards the shapes.

 

She was halfway there when she realized what she was seeing: three pyramids covered in white marble, two small ones to the sides and a larger one in the middle. The ones on the sides had their tops cut off, making them look more like a trapezoid then a pyramid. On top of each of them lay a beautiful sculpture, that of a man on the left and of a woman on the right, they seemed familiar. The large pyramid in the middle had a top of something that looked like pure gold, it intensified the sun’s rays and bathed the land in shades of gold.

 

The breath caught in her throat as she realized they were the same pyramids as the ones on Ashkarah, the same ones that she had opened and inspected, even slept in. Now that she knew that, she wondered how she didn’t realize it earlier, their shapes were so distinct, but then again that was all that was familiar.

There were no traces of the trees that sat on each side of the clearing, she could not see the large ancient trees where long ago people had dug burrows that the Resistance had used as shelter and makeshift command center. Everything looked so young and new, the pyramids seemed to have just been built, and they were made of marble not crumbling bricks and stone. She wondered if it really was their planet, maybe it was just a different place with similar architecture. She turned to her left and ran through the grass, on Ashkarah it would have been the forest. If this was really the same planet she knew she would find a lake there, the same lake they used to bathe in. She hadn’t had to run too far and there it was, in the distance, the light blue-green lake shining like a mirror in the summer sun. It was Ashkarah. How it had been a long, long time ago, before the marble on the pyramids crumbled, before the trees grew, before people dug the shelters. As she made her way back toward the temples she wondered just how long ago that was.

 

“Is this what you want? You want me to see what once was?” she asked whoever it was that was listening. She wondered just who’s temples they were. She thought she knew but  needed proof, she would get it soon.

 

She turned her steps towards the middle temple, the one that she was unsuccessful in opening, she would finally get to see what was inside. Just like the other temples, the entry was partly blocked by a wall, unlike the other temples in her time the wall was not made of crumbling brick, but white marble, the closer she got she could see gold indentations on the marble wall in the shape of letters, it was the same language that C3PO had managed to decipher.

 

Her foot was over the threshold when everything turned back to darkness again. She almost whined at the loss of the last piece of the puzzle, then her thoughts turned back to what she had been waiting for. She instantly looked up at the makeshift time keeper, panic spreading through her veins. The goo was almost gone, down to the last drop. It was time. She clenched her fists and wrinkled her nose. She was ready, she could do this. She would do this!

Chapter Text

***

 

“Finn, what are you doing?” Edisa asked with concern in her voice through the earpiece.

 

“I’m gonna save her myself.”

 

“Finn, stop it, you won’t make it, you’ll just kill yourself.” Edisa pleaded.

“Finn, she’s right, please stop, it’s too late,” Rose said in a cracked voice. “Please don’t make me lose you too.”

 

“I’m sorry Rose, I have to.”

 

“Then I’m coming with you” Rose said, running towards the far away podium entrance.

 

Wes and Maro looked at Rose as she ran down the long corridor in front of them.

 

“Do we let her?” Wes asked.

 

“She’s got a good start.” Maro countered.

 

“Yeah, but short legs, we can catch up.”

 

“But do we want to catch up?”

 

“That’s the question, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes it is.”

 

They looked at her a little while longer, her small frame getting smaller, debating in their minds if she was worth the trouble.

 

“Fuck it, I’m going.” Maro said.

 

“Then I guess I’m going too.” Wes sighed. “If we make it out of this you’re taking me out for a proper meal, and you’re paying!”

 

“Deal, babe.”

 

Both of the tropers started running after Rose with fast strides.

 

***

 

Poe found his ship being hailed, he did not let it slip his mind that he was piloting a First Order ship as he accepted the hail.

 

“Captain Dameron, I presume?” the hologram of a man dressed in a perfectly white uniform peppered with insignias spoke, “This is Admiral Pinole of the New Republic, me and my people are the sole survivors of the Hosnian System genocide. We will come to your aid, whatever you need us to do, we will do it, no matter the cost!”

 

“Thank you, Admiral,” Poe said with surprise in his voice, he had heard of the Admiral before, but he thought him dead, along with everyone in the Hosnian System. “Admiral, if you don’t mind me asking…” Poe started, but was interrupted.

 

“How are we still alive? We were on a mission outside the system when…” he admiral swallowed, then continued, “When Starkiller destroyed our home and killed our people.”

 

“And as you can imagine, we’re just itching to obliterate the living fuck out of the First Order bastards.” Said another voice, the voice of a hologram man that had just popped up on Poe’s dash. There was a stark difference between him and the Admiral, the new man was much younger and dressed as a civilian, Poe couldn’t help but notice his unkempt appearance even in the miniature version the hologram offered.

 

“This is Admiral Cisco of the former Raysho planet,” Admiral Pinole offered,  “he and I have taken the destruction of our system… quite differently.”

 

“Since our planets no longer exist, I’m not an Admiral, just a... concerned civilian. And yeah, I’d say we’re processing things differently. He’s bottling up everything until he explodes, while I like to blow some steam by exploding shit up.”

 

“Understandable” Poe said, and he could understand both of these men. For all the things that he had ever lost in this war, it was nothing compared with what the Hosnian System survivors had.

 

“Where have you been all this time?” Poe found himself asking, both curious and trying to change the subject.

 

“They have been our dear secret guests.” Another hologram had popped up on Poe’s dash, this time it belonged to a woman dressed in an elaborate and ornate dress, Poe thought she looked like a queen.

 

“Yeah, guests, not refugees, guests ” Admiral Cisco almost mocked.

 

“Naboo had chosen to stay out of the First Order’s way, accepting refugees would not be prudent, but we do accept guests, as long as we’re discreet about it.” The woman smiled. “But that time has passed, we can no long stay silent and inactive as the First Order destroys everything we hold dear, destroying the New Republic was the last straw.” She looked intently at Poe, “Now that there is hope, now that raising our army against the First Order is no longer just a suicide mission, now we stand with you.”

 

“Queen Reba Naberrie of Naboo.” Admiral Pinole introduced her taking a bow towards her hologram.

 

Poe found himself doing the same, “Your majesty, thank you for your support.”

 

She slightly bowed her head in his direction, then said, “I have taken the liberty to invite some dear friends.”

 

Another two figures appeared in hologram form, an Otolla Gungan and a Mon Calamarian.

 

“How much fire power do you have?” Poe asked with a little smirk on his face.

 

“All together? A fuckton.” Admiral Cisco responded, and Poe’s smirk turned into a wide grin.

 

***

 

“Guys, do you copy?” Poe asked with urgency.

 

“Copy.” Edisa answered in a hushed tone, as she moved further from the generals.

 

“What’s going on down there?”

 

“Finn is committing suicide by First Order and Rose is joining him.” Edisa said in a tone that seemed both annoyed and upset.

 

“What the…?” Poe started. “Finn, listen up, we got the fire power to take out the First Order and the shield gate, if you wanna help Rey, create a diversion, postpone Hux’s show, give me some time!”

 

Finn said nothing.

 

“He’s still running for the podium.” Qu’s voice rang in their ears. “I have eyes on him, want me to incapacitate him?” He asked knowing that Finn could also hear.

 

“No, it’s his choice, no matter how stupid.” She answered Qu, then asked Poe.  “How long do you need?”

 

“As long as you can give me.”

 

“I have men on those ships, Poe.” Edisa warned.

 

“Then I suggest you tell them to get the hell out.”

 

“Team, I’ll warn the rest to abandon ship but I am stuck on general babysitting duty and won’t be able to help, we need to create a diversion!” She thought for a moment or two. “Boys, remember that time I showed you how to turn the armor’s power cells into explosives? Do that!”

 

“Where?” Was all Maro asked.

 

“East and West of the podium, far enough to draw them away from it. You and Wes take the East side, it’s the closest to you, Qu’ and the rest take the West side.”

 

“We’ll give you as much time as we can, Poe.” Edisa added.

 

Poe voice was a mix of amusement and pride. “You’re one hell of a something, Edisa.”

 

“You’re just getting that now?” She replied with the same amusement in her voice.

 

It was completely gone when she added, “Good luck, everyone, and as the Jedi would say, may the Force be with you.” She had never uttered those words before, but at this point she would have said anything if there was the slightest chance it would help.

 

“One last thing,” Poe said, “get Rey and everyone on a ship or two as fast as you can, once the shield gate is down, get out and get to hyperspace ASAP. It’s gonna get crazy up here.”

 

***

 

Rey felt herself drifting, she opened eyes that had not been closed in the darkness and saw the same picture she had seen in her vision. This was it, this was the moment.

 

She felt the effects of the goo like she did in the vision, her eyes unfocused, vision blurry, her mind muddy. It didn’t matter, she had one thing she needed to do, and she was ready.

 

She heard bits and pieces of Hux’s speech, but she couldn’t make out his words, then he stopped talking. Through foggy eyes she saw the blue light of her light-staff as Hux turned it on, then lifted it above his head, ready to cleave off Ben’s head.  

 

Hux managed to drop down the light-staff almost halfway towards Ben’s exposed neck, when with just a thought, Rey turned off the end that was pointed at her lover and turned on the other end, impaling the plasma blade in Hux’s stomach.

 

There was a half grin on her face at the sound of it searing a hole through his flesh. The man cried out in pain, and in profile she could see the shocked and bewildered expression on his face. “That’s for me and Leia, and for what you would have done to Ben” , she thought. She wanted to drink in that look, savor the pleasure it gave her seeing him like that, but there was no time.

 

“Ben, blasters!” She yelled out as loud as she could, a blink of an eye after the plasma blade pierced Hux’s skin. She knew she didn’t have the strength to stop the coming blasters by herself, not yet.

 

She saw Ben turn and lift his head up, towards Hux, who was now falling backwards to the floor in what looked like slow motion, his hands still wrapped around her light-staff, an utterly perplexed look on his face, like he couldn’t comprehend what had just happened.

 

A look similar to that was playing on Ben’s face. He quickly turned his head back, towards her.

The stormtroopers fired.

Red blaster bolts made their way towards them, a blink of an eye away, Rey squeezed her eyes shut as she felt the heat of a blaster bolt just an inch from her half sitting body.

A second later she opened them again, she hadn’t felt the bolt piercing her skin, she turned her head and saw dozens of bolts floating in mid air, like they had encountered an invisible shield. Ben had stopped them, a sigh of relief escaped her.

 

She heard the clink of his shackles as they hit the floor, his hands and feet now free. When he got up she could see the strain on his face, freezing all the blast bolts was taking its toll on him. He looked over where Rey was laying and with a frown of concentration, he released her shackles too.

 

Hux was down, but still alive, the lightsaber still crackling inside his body, his face was now twisted in a mask of agony. He had been so close to ruling the First Order, he had been on top of the world just mere seconds ago, and now he lay dying on the floor, with a lightsaber inside him. He could not understand how everything had changed so fast.

 

Rey felt the shackles unlock and fall from her wrists and ankles, she quickly twisted her body around to face the troopers. Some of the troopers kept firing, but their bolts still seemed to be hitting the same invisible shield, others were moving towards them menacingly.  With a few swipes of her hand, she threw the closest ones off of the tall podium.

 

Ben grabbed ahold of the light-staff handle embedded in Hux and looked down at his horrified face.

 

“No!” Hux croaked, but Ben didn’t listen.

 

There was a wicked smirk on his face as he pressed one foot on Hux’s chest, then sliced through his body from stomach to shoulder, removing the saber out one ragged end, just for good measure he also sliced across the man’s throat.

With the saber in his hands, he turned back towards the troopers, his face twisted in rage, his body hunched down like a predator ready to pounce.

 

With a hand movement, Ben sent the red curtain of blaster bolts back to their owners, cries of pain and the sound of fallen bodies mixed with the crackle of blasters hitting their mark.

 

He moved towards Rey, still freezing the now fewer bolts that came their way, turning off the lightsaber on the way.

 

“You okay?” he asked, getting her to a standing position, her feet still unsteady, her body aching from the prolonged position.

 

“Yeah…” she breathed out, then wrapped him in a tight hug, nuzzling at his neck. “I’m okay now.”

 

He squeezed her back just as tight. God, he didn’t think he would ever hold her again, it felt so incredibly good, he never wanted to let her go, but he had to. “We have to go!” he urged a few seconds later, placing a kiss to her left temple. “You ready?”

 

She held onto him for a few more seconds, breathing him in, it didn’t slip her mind that this was the first time they had touched each other like that outside the Force bond.

“Getting there.” She answered.

 

He kissed the top of her head then grabbed her hand. They moved towards the troopers. With a thought he sent the blasters back to their owners again, more bodies hit the ground in front of them. Still, there were over a dozen troopers left, some advancing on them, others almost retreating as they fired bolt after bolt. From behind and below them, blast bolts made their way up towards the podium, then as quickly as they started they stopped. With a glimpse down, Ben saw troopers attacking troopers. “ Edisa.” he thought, thankful.

 

Rey was beginning to start feeling like herself again, her mind becoming clearer, the numbness in her body easing.

 

Her eyes landed on a stormtrooper that was running towards them with a laser axe in his hands.

 

“Cover me!” she yelled out at Ben already running for the trooper, commanding her light-staff to her hands.

 

She was already halfway to the troopers before he had a chance to object.

 

“Rey!” he yelled out after her. With one hand he caught the bolts directed at him, with the other the ones with her name on them. It was hard, he couldn’t send the blasters directed at him back for fear they might hit her, so he focused on catching the blasters directed at her while at the same time he was throwing troopers off of the podium.

 

“He’s mine !” Rey yelled back to Ben, her eyes still on the trooper.

 

She ran for the trooper, turning on the light-staff on both ends in her hand. The trooper readied himself, and so did Rey, when the trooper struck, she had positioned the light-staff handle just right, holding on to both ends. The axe landed exactly where she wanted it, right at the welding point. The trooper put all his strength into his axe, and Rey countered upwards, it sliced through the metal of the handle like a hot knife through butter, and Rey found herself with two working lightsabers in her hands.

 

“Thanks!” She said to the trooper as she drove one of them through his armor, killing him.

 

“Ben!” she yelled out again, throwing the ragged lightsaber back to him, keeping the other one for herself.

 

There was a look of pure adoration on his face as he caught it.

 

“I fucking love you!” she heard his voice in her head.

 

She smiled as she sent a “Same” back to his mind.

 

She wasn’t even surprised about this new ability. They had entered each others minds before, when they were guarded, so it didn’t surprise her that now, with minds and hearts so opened to each other, they could do that.

 

The sound of explosions took away their concentration for a moment. They were coming from somewhere in the distance, on either side of the podium.

 

Ben brought his focus back and started running for Rey, for the exit, slicing through troopers with his new lightsaber as he moved. Rey was doing the same, cutting down troopers with one hand, throwing them off the podium with the other.

 

She impaled the last one with her saber just as Ben reached her.

 

Adoration and desire danced in his eyes. He wanted nothing more than to kiss the hell out of her, right then and there.

 

“Later.” Rey answered as if she knew what he was thinking.

 

They ran off of the podium straight into an unmasked Finn and uniformed Rose.

 

“You’re alive!” Rose exclaimed with pure joy in her voice.

 

Finn wrapped his arms around Rey and squeezed her tight.

 

“Great job saving her.” Ben said in a way that sounded like an insult.

 

“Yeah, well… fuck you too.” Finn answered letting go of Rey and eyeing him. There was no time to explain all the bumps they encountered, and he didn’t owe Kylo Ren any explanation anyway.

 

Rey was confused for a second but then she remembered her visions and understood.

 

“Men,” Rose said, “the world is going to shit around them, but they still take the time to insult each other.”

 

“Hey, what happened to your hair?” Finn asked frowning.

 

“My hair?” Rey questioned and put a hand through, she was surprised to find it a lot shorter than she remembered.

 

“I’ll explain later.” Ben offered.

 

“Okay…” Rey said, another confused look on her face. “We gotta go. Does anyone have an exit plan?”

 

“You can all catch up on the way. Let’s go!” Maro’s voice came from behind them.

 

Rey moved to shove a lightsaber into the trooper, but both Finn and Ben yelled out a “No!”

 

“They’re with us” Rose added.

 

Rey frowned at that, but said nothing.

 

“I’ll explain that too.” Ben added.

 

A eardrum piercing crash seemed to shake the entire planet. It came from somewhere up above, they all poked their heads back towards the podium and looked up into the sky.

 

High above them, a small Destroyer ship was being pushed through the shield gate by another, larger, unknown ship.

 

“Rogue one.” Ben muttered under his breath, he had heard the story of how his mother had received the plans of the Death Star, it had seemed so far fetched to him, but here he was looking up at the same thing.

 

“We have to get off this planet!” He said, grabbing Rey's hand and pulling her back in.

 

“You think?” Finn sassed.

 

***

 

Poe had the coordinates to the planet but he knew there would be a plethora of ships surrounding it. That made jumping out of hyperspace close to the planet very risky. He decided not to take that risk.

 

“Guys,” Poe addressed the two Hosnian Admirals, the Calamarian and the Gungan who was commanding the Naboo ships for the queen, “I have some people down on that planet, one of us needs to take down the shield gate so that they can get out.”

 

“I’m on it.” Cisco offered.

 

“Okay, this is it, weapons ready, out of hyperspace in 3, 2, 1….”

 

“Oh Fuck!” Poe exclaimed as his stolen Destroyer barely missed colliding with another, larger Destroyer.

 

“I will take care of this one.” Arack, the Mon Calamarian said in a thick, deep voice.

 

As soon as Poe’s ship cleared the First Order Destroyer, Arakk fired. Debris from the fallen ship scattered over the planet.

 

***

 

As they ran for the hanger, Qu’ and his team joined the group, their human sizes dwarfed by the immensity of the hanger.

 

“Where’s Edisa?” Finn asked.

 

“Edisa, Location!” Wes asked through their coms.

 

“On my way, ETA 4-5 minutes. Find us a ship!”

 

“How many are there? Ben asked and Wes repeated the question for his leader.

 

“I’ve got fourteen with me.” Edisa answered.

 

“There’s nine of us here, so twenty-three.” Wes said out loud for everyone.

 

“We need a ship big enough to hold us all, but small enough to be maneuverable through the debris. This one!” Ben said pointing at a small ship.

 

Rey looked it over a second then said, “No!”

 

“That one!” she added pointing at a much larger ship further down.

 

“This one’s more….”  Ben started, but Rey cut him off.

 

“I said that one!” she was already running for it.

 

Ben exhaled and ran after her and so did the rest of the team.

 

There were troopers starting to trickle into the hangar, looking for an escape off of the planet.

 

“How do I know which troopers not to kill?” Rey asked.

 

A tremor shook the entire hanger, if it weren’t for the steel roof they would have seen pieces of the Destroyer hitting the planet with great force.

 

“Edisa, what’s your location?” Finn asked.

 

“South-West of the hangar.”

 

“You can take out everyone that’s in front of us.” Finn said.

 

With several sweeps of their hands, both Rey and Ben slammed troopers into the parked ships.

 

“You can do that?” Finn asked incredulously.

 

Rey was the first one to climb aboard the mid sized transporter ship, the rest still a ways away. It was big, much bigger than what they needed, but she had her own reasons for choosing it.

 

Instead of running for the cockpit, she ran for the bay doors, where cargo was kept.

When she returned they were all already in.

 

“What were you doing?” Finn asked her.

 

“Just giving the ship a one over.” She said making her way to the cockpit where she found Ben already in the pilot seat. She sat in the copilot seat and quickly gave Ben’s hand a squeeze. They looked at each other for a second, then smiled. They made it!

 

“Let’s get out of here!” he said, starting up the ship.

 

“Finn, where’s Edisa?” He yelled back behind him.

 

A huge chunk of the destroyer crashed into the hanger, shaking the ground, sending debris all around and engulfing everything in a cloud of dust.

 

“Edisa? You okay?” Finn asked, worry in his voice.

 

There was only static coming through the earpieces.

 

“Edisa?”

 

“We’re okay,” Edisa voice came, “just banged up and dusty as fuck.”

 

“You need to move, we gotta go.”

 

“I know, I know. We’re almost there.”

 

Rey looked over at Ben. “Who’s Edisa?”

 

“A stormtrooper that saved your friends lives and maybe ours, to some extent.”

 

“Guys,” Edisa said, “we’re stuck, we’re sandwiched between debris, we won’t make it out in time.” She stopped for a moment, then continued, “Just go!”

 

“Maro,” she added for her team, “you’re in change, you know what you have to do.”

 

“What’s going on?” Ben asked from the cockpit.

 

“It’s Edisa, they’re strapped between debris,” Rose said in a quiet voice, “they won’t make it, she wants us to go”.

 

“Dammit!” Ben said, punching the armrest of his pilot chair. He chewed on his lower lip for a moment.

 

“Fucking. Dammit!” he said again as he rushed out of the seat. “Get the ship ready,” he told Rey, “I’ll get them out.”

 

Rey looked at him with surprise in her eyes. She couldn’t believe that he was doing this for someone else. He didn’t seem happy about it, and he was cursing his way through it, but he was being selfless when it came to someone else, someone besides her.

 

She had never been prouder of him.

 

She got out of her chair and started running after him. Rose stopped her for a second and placed her ear piece in Rey’s hand.  “You might need this.”

 

When she reached Ben she said “I’m really good at lifting rocks.”

 

“Fuck!” They seemed to say at the same time as they saw the debris in front of them. It was several times over bigger than both of them combined.

 

Rey stuck the the earpiece in Ben’s ear.

 

“We’re here to help,” Ben said, “but I don’t know if we can move this, it’s too big, can you climb over. There’s a way out at the top.”

 

“There’s no footing, and the suits are not made for climbing.” Came Edisa’s quick response.

 

“We can’t move the debris,” Rey said looking up, “but why can’t we move them?”

 

Ben looked at her for a second, thinking. “There’s too many of them, we won’t have time to move them one by one.”

 

“How many can we lift at the same time?”

 

“I don’t know. Never done this before.”

 

“Neither have I, but I’ve moved plenty of really heavy rocks.”

 

“Three?” Ben asked.

 

“Let’s go for four.”

 

“Edisa, tell your people to bundle up into groups of four and hang really tight to each other, we’re lifting you out of there.”

 

Ben reached for Rey’s hand and closed his eyes.

 

“We can do this, ” he said in her mind. “We just have to focus.” she added. And so they did.

 

They reached inside the Force together and saw the troopers huddled together in their mind's eye. With hands moving in unison, they lifted the first bundle up higher and higher until it reached the opening at the top, then guided them down towards them. When they were a safe distance from the ground, they dropped them and focused on the next bundle. They did that three more times.

 

When Edisa’s feet touched the ground on the other side, they turned and ran back to the ship, the troopers following close behind.

 

Ben jumped back into his seat and Rey into hers. He took off just as another part of the broken ship hit, missing them by mere inches.

 

“Hold on!” He yelled as he drove the ship’s nose into the hanger’s steel roof. It made horrible, scratching noises, but the ship held together.

 

Rey looked over at the instruments on her dash. “No major damage.” she assured him.

 

“If you aren’t already buckled in, I suggest you do it now!” Rey shouted behind her.

 

The ship was almost vertical now, climbing up towards the stratosphere, dodging debris left and right.

 

“This would have been a lot easier in a more maneuverable ship,” Ben complained.

 

“Thought you were a good pilot, show me what you’ve got.” Rey retorted, half amused, half annoyed.

 

Ben huffed at that.

 

Their ship, while big for what they needed, was dwarfed in size by the other ships above the planet.

 

The space above it was littered with broken ships, some making their way down towards the planet, grabbed by its gravitational pull, others floating aimlessly in space. There were plasma cannons firing in all directions, TIE fighters and X-Wings scrambling around.

 

“The next Jakku.” Rey found herself saying, and Ben understood that she meant that this planet would eventually turn into a graveyard for all those ships.

 

Ben looked from the ship’s visor to the instruments on the dashboard and back again. He turned the ship to his left and accelerated.

 

“We won’t make it, if we go through that, we have to jump to hyperspace now.” Ben said looking at his monitors.

 

“If one of those ships gets in our way, we’re all going to die.” Rey cautioned.

 

“Yeah, well, if we don’t jump we’re gonna die anyway.” He said with a cocky smile that reminded her of Han.

 

Ben pushed up on the hyperdrive, and jumped to hyperspace. The ship shook a little then wobbled, adjusting to the drive.

 

“We did it!” Rey exhaled, then jumped out of her seat and into the pilot’s, straddling Ben’s thighs. She dug her hand through his hair and pressed her lips to his, kissing him, parting his lips with her tongue.

 

Gods, she thought, it felt better than she remembered, she felt the flutter of her soul, felt part of it willingly leave her, being absorbed by him. She felt the Force move around them in golden colors.

 

When she broke for air, his face was red. “They’ll see.” He cautioned.

 

“Let them.” She said and kissed him again. Ben’s hands were moving up and down her back, one of them wrapped around her chopped hair and pulled her closer to him.

 

If it weren’t for the visions she might not have been so bold, but if there was one thing that had become evident to her, it was that time was precious, and she didn’t want to waste any of it, she no longer cared about dissecting everything, seeing everything from the prism of good or bad, light or dark. She knew what she wanted, and unlike before, she would put that above the wants and needs of others. She realized that she was no longer the person she had been before her visions, and it was just fine by her.

 

“Are you guys done?” Finn’s annoyed voice came from behind them.

 

Rey wiped at her lips with two fingers and got off of Ben. She felt the top of her ears burning but refused to be shamed by Finn.

 

“Where are we going?” Finn asked.

 

“Away from there.” Ben answered making his way out of the seat.

 

Rey moved past Finn in the narrow door frame, then wrapped Rose in a hug as soon as she laid eyes on her. “Thank you!” she said in her ear.

 

“What for?”

 

“Everything.” Rey thanked her for trying to save her, but also for what she did in the vision that thankfully hadn’t come to pass.

 

Rey let go of her friend and looked around the ship at the unmasked troopers, she made a mental note to get all the details of how this came to be, later, from Ben. Her eyes landed on a brown skinned woman, she moved towards her and extended an hand.

 

“Edisa, I presume. I’m Rey.”

 

“Heard lots about you.”

 

“I’d love to be able to say that, too.” Rey said with a smile.

 

Edisa chuckled, “I can’t believe you did that, saved us like that.”

 

“That makes two of us, well, probably three of us.” Rey’s smile widened, “But I’m glad we could help.”

 

Finn and Ben joined the others in the main part of the ship and within seconds he and Rey moved towards each other like two magnets.

 

“We should figure out where to go.” Finn said to the group.

 

“Poe, are you still with us?” Edisa asked.

 

Rey wrapped an arm around Ben’s back and lifted herself up on her tiptoes, leaning an ear towards the earpiece she had placed in his ear earlier. She put her hand on his abdomen right above his hip for support and he winced at that.

 

“Still kicking.” Poe answered.

 

Edisa exhaled in relief. “I’m really glad to hear that, how’s it going?”

 

“Still in the thick of it, but we’re looking better and better. Where you guys at? Did you get Rey out?”

 

“We’ve jumped to hyperspace, we got Rey and...” Edisa looked over at where the Jedi was leaning over the former Supreme Leader, his head slanted to the side so she could better hear what they were saying.

She had wanted to add and Kylo Ren , but seeing them together like that, after they both rushed to save her and her team, it made her stop and reconsider. She knew too well how Poe felt about him, be it with good reason. “...and the rest,” she finally added. “We were wondering where to go from here.”

 

“Naboo.” Poe said, “Head towards Naboo, I’ll tell you all about it later. In the middle of something right now.”

 

“Copy and good-luck!” Edisa finished. “Naboo it is.” She said to the ship.  

 

“I’ll change the course.” Ben said making his way towards the cockpit, Rey followed in his steps, then closed the door behind them.

 

“What’s wrong?” She asked him.

 

There was a confused look on his face.

 

“You winced when I touched you.”

 

“Oh that, it’s nothing, just a little goodbye present from Hux.” he smiled faintly.

 

“Show me.” She asked.

 

He put in the new coordinates, then unwrapped his shirt and let her see.

 

Rey came closer, she hovered her fingers over the burn mark. It was somewhere between pink and red, and a blister seemed to be forming on the raw flesh. Rey couldn’t help but wonder what had done that.

She gently moved her fingers above and to the side of the burn to where his skin was bruised and colored in reds and purples.

 

“Hux?” She asked.

 

“Poe.”

 

She looked him over again, scrutinizing his body, she turned his chin towards the light of the cockpit and saw pale shades of red and purple.

 

“This?”

 

“Finn… then Poe.”

 

Rey frowned at that. “ What exactly happened?”

 

“A lot.” He answered.

 

The ship jumped out of hyperspace. In the distance Naboo shone in the sunlight like a teal gemstone.

 

“If you step foot on Naboo they will arrest you.”

 

“I know...”

 

“And you’re okay with that?”

 

He sighed and wrapped his shirt back on. “I deserve it.”

 

“You do,” she said looking up at him, “but I don’t deserve to lose you.”

 

 

***

Chapter Text

“So I won’t.” Rey added in a determined voice, decelerating the ship, then continuing with urgency. “We have to go, there’s somewhere we need to be, there’s something I have to do,” she stopped for a moment, “there’s a price I have to pay.”

 

He looked at her, puzzled, “A price? For what?”

 

“You.”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“I know, I’ll explain on the way, we need to go now.”

 

“Where? How?”

 

“Back to where it started, and as for how…” she gave him a sly, knowing smile in response.

 

Ben found himself smiling back at her, he liked seeing the fire in her, but the smile soon faded off his lips. He wasn’t foolish enough to think that escape would be easy. He knew that, as soon as the Galaxy reorganised into one form of government or another, he would become its most wanted man. He imagined he had at least a few days until that happened, days that he could spend with her. It would be time he hadn’t hoped to have just hours ago, it would be everything he wanted and much more than he thought he deserved, but there was one problem.

 

“Rey, you can’t do this, you’ll become an accomplice.”

 

“Ben,” she said, cupping his face, “stop telling me what I can and can’t do.” She looked into his eyes for a moment, making sure he understood that she was serious. When he caught on, she pressed her lips to his.

 

“Your friends are not gonna like this.”

 

“They’ll get over it.” Rey said, opening the cockpit door and dragging Ben behind her. She wished she felt as confident as her words had sounded.

 

“Rose, you can land the ship on Naboo, right?” Rey said as soon as she laid eyes on her friend.

 

“Yeah… why?”

 

“We’re leaving.” Rey explained.

 

“What do you mean, you’re leaving?” Finn said, getting up and making his way towards Rey.

 

“We have something we need to do.”

 

Finn huffed and made a face. “What are you doing, Rey? I don’t get it, I really don’t! Look, I know there’s a lot about you two that I don’t understand and the last few days have been insane , and it’s obvious you…,” he wrinkled his nose, “love eachother, but Rey, at the end of the day he’s still Kylo Ren. You know all the things he’s done to the Resistance, to me, to Poe, to you ! He’s got to pay for that!”

 

Rey placed the palm of her hand on Finn’s face and caressed it with her thumb. “You’re right Finn, you don’t understand, and maybe you never will, but I have to do this, I’m sorry.” She removed her hand from his face, a pained “Goodbye” escaped her lips. As she grabbed Ben’s hand, she hoped it wouldn’t be a final goodbye.

 

“Coward!” Finn yelled out after him. “You goddamn coward!”

 

Ben stopped for a moment, clenching a fist, he was halfway turning to face the former trooper, but Rey pulled him by the hand and he continued following her towards the bay.

 

Finn looked around the ship for support. “So we’re letting him go, just like that?”

 

“Not my problem.” Edisa answered.

 

“I don’t see you doing anything about it either, is the bark bigger than the bite?” Maro asked in an almost amused voice.

 

“You’re all terrible people!” Finn complained.

 

Most of the troopers seemed to shrug at the same time, completely unphased by the insult.


***

 

In the back of the ship, past the bay doors, lay two small transporters, not much larger than escape pods. Rey quickly inspected one of it, it was in the same working condition as she had found it the first time she entered the ship. That’s why she had chosen it it over the smaller, more maneuverable ship that Ben had his eyes on.

 

“Get the ship ready,” she asked of Ben, “I’ll be right in.”

 

As he made his way inside the small ship, her eyes were scanning the cargo area looking for the first aid station. She took the entire plastoid box off the wall and went aboard the ship.

 

“Go!”

 

“Where?”

 

“Ashkarah.”

 

She hadn’t planned this all along, but she had known that they would need to get back to the temples and the only way to do it was if they had their own ship. As they were running in the First Order hangar, looking for a way off the planet, it was the only thing on her mind, finding a ship that came equipped with emergency transporters. She remembered almost exhaling in relief when she went through the bay doors and found them.

 

***

 

The ship was tiny, so tiny that when standing, Rey’s head barely cleared the roof, but she wasn’t complaining, it was all they needed. After the ship jumped to hyperspace, she kneeled down in the small space between the pilot and copilot swivel chairs, the first aid kit to her left, and started cleaning Ben’s wound. He winced when she squeezed the disinfectant solution over his burnt skin. Rey looked up at him.  

 

“Really?” she huffed in amusement, “I’ve sliced your face open and you made less noise than that.”

 

A little affronted huff escaped his lips, but he said nothing, and she continued working on his wound. He looked at her with curiosity, his eyes moving from her face to her hands. They moved slowly and carefully, gently rubbing medicine onto his burnt, blistered skin.

 

She opened a sterile dressing and carefully tapped over the edges of the burn. She gave him a smile, then dwelved back into the kit. She unscrewed the cap of another tube and placed an inch worth of medicine on two fingers and started gently rubbing it over his bruised ribs, her eyes focused on his body, her brow wrinkled with concentration.

It felt almost like a worshipper meticulously caring for a treasured relic. It made his heart swell with love. He didn’t fully understand how and especially why, but he finally realized that she did love him just as much as he loved her. Again, he found himself wondering what he’d ever done to deserve it. He swallowed, a knot forming in his throat.

 

Rey put another inch of the same medicine on her fingers and moved to his jawline. He turned his head to give her better access.

 

“Did you deserve it?” She asked, taking him out of his thoughts.

 

“Not this time around, but I had it coming.”

 

“Are you guys even now?”

 

“I doubt it.”

 

“I’ll keep the medicine handy then.” She smiled up at him.

 

He wondered why she was making light of something as serious as her friends hating him. He didn’t much care what they thought, but he knew she did, and he knew that just a little while ago she had chosen him over them. It both filled him with happiness and, strangely enough, guilt. The more he thought about her decision, the worse he felt, he realised it would cost her much more than he felt he was worth. She would lose everything, her friends, her freedom, and what was the price she had to pay for him? He had to know.

 

“With no medical droid, that will have to do.” She said, putting the supplies back in the kit and making a move to sit in the copilot chair. Ben wrapped his large hands around her waist and plopped her on his lap.

 

“I just treated that,” she complained with a smile on her face.

 

“Thank you.” He said looking her in the eyes, one hand resting on her cheek. “For everything.”

 

She smiled so wide, that for the first time, Ben noticed the dimples her cheeks made. There was a matching smile on his face at the look of them. How did he not notice before? “You’ve never made her smile like that,” he realised, “but you’ve made her cry plenty of times.” He swallowed and wiped the smile off his face.  

 

“What’s wrong?” She asked.

 

He moved his chin from one side to the other, chewing on his words. “Rey, I want nothing more than you, but I’m no good for you, everything I touch, I destroy. You …” he stopped, and looked at her with adoration in his eyes, “ you could be a hero to the Galaxy, you saved the Resistance on Crait, you killed Hux, I gave the Resistance what they needed to take down the First Order for you . You could become a legend, a greater one than Luke and Vader together, you would be loved by so many, even worshiped. Children would look up to you, want to grow up to be you, you could even bring the Jedi order back.” His voice darkened, then added, “But not if you’re by my side, my presence will taint, even erase every single good thing you’ve ever done. How can I let you lose all that for me? It’s not too late, we can go back, I’ll surrender myself to them and you can be the hero that you were always meant to be.”

 

“There’s no future for us, Rey, I either surrender and face life imprisonment or death, or I’m a fugitive for the rest of my life, always looking back, always on the move, always a shadow over me. That is not the life I want to give you. If you go down this road with me, there’s nothing good waiting for you, and when they catch us, they’ll throw you in prison too.” He put a hand through her hair, caressing her face with the heel of his palm,  “Rey, none of this is what you deserve, you deserve the Galaxy, not a life on the run with me .”  He emphasised me , putting in it all the vitriol he felt towards himself.  

 

He gently, chastely, pressed his full lips to hers. He wiped the little spot of moisture his kiss left on her lips with his thumb, and added, “You have to let me go.”

 

She thought for a moment, really thought about his words. She had never considered herself becoming a hero, especially not to the entire Galaxy, everything she had done, she’d only done it because she believed it was the right thing to do.

 

Everything else that he had mentioned had crossed her mind at one point or another. He was right, it was a steep price to pay, and being fugitives was not what she wanted, but…

“I don’t know what the future holds for us, and yes, I know what choosing you means, but Ben, what you don’t know is that I’ve already lost you once and now I know that if I have to, I can lose a lot, but I can’t lose you again.” She was shaking her head, tears streaming out her eyes. “You don’t know the things I’ve seen, felt.”

 

He wrapped her in a hug and she nuzzled at his neck. “You say you’re no good for me, and yet you’re so willing to die for me, to let go of the only thing you say you love, me, for my sake. Gods, you’re such an idiot,” she huffed, “do you not see what I see?” She lifted her head up to face him, “Because I see the only person in the galaxy that knows me, that has seen inside my soul, that knows that our souls are made of the same material. I know there’s no one else out there for us, I don’t want anyone else. After everything we’ve done to each other, for each other, we’ve shaped ourselves to match perfectly, like two pieces of an intricate puzzle. I will choose that over being worshiped by strangers that will never know anything about me, any day.”  

 

Her voice hardened, “I’m not a child, nor am I naive, so I know the road ahead is hard, but I am going to walk it with you. You’re it, Ben.”

 

There were tears in their eyes as Rey placed an open mouthed kiss on his lips and Ben responded in earnest. His hands cupped her face, pulling her even closer to him. Never breaking the kiss, Rey moved her body until she straddled him, her hands going for his hair, her body pressing firmly onto his. She could feel him hardening between her legs and she let out a whimpering moan in his mouth, rubbing herself on his erection.

 

Ben broke the kiss, muffling a curse word. He looked her in the eyes as one hand was slowly snaking down her back, “Not like this, not here.” He said and placed a kiss behind her left ear, “I wanna take my time,” he kissed lower, just under her jaw, “Explore every inch of you,” he breathed on the tender spot between her neck and collarbone, his hot breath sent shivers down her spine, and she couldn’t suppress a moan. “I don’t want it in a cramped ship” he added and gently bit down on the tender flesh. A whimper escaped Rey’s lips. “I want room to move...”

 

“If you don’t stop what you’re doing,” she said, her breath heavy in his ear, “I will take you right here and now.”

 

There was a wicked smile on his lips as he removed them from her neck. “Noted.”

 

“So cocky,” she smiled widely and her dimples showed again. Ben made a mental note to be the reason behind her dimpled smile.

 

He kissed her again, but this time it lacked the passion, it was just two pairs of lips touching, making a connection. He kept the passion that was burning under his skin out, because he knew that if he didn’t, he would break his own vow.   

 

“What happened, Rey, what did you see?” he asked, his voice soft, “What price do you have to pay for me?”

 

“I wouldn’t even know where to begin…” Rey trailed off, turning her face away from him, thinking.  There was no way she could put into words her visions. But she could show him.

 

“Remember when you tried to get the map to Luke out of my head?”

 

Ben almost winced at that, “I’m sorry Rey, I...”

 

“That’s not what I meant, thanks for apologizing, but I need you to do it again.”

 

He frowned.

 

“Don’t worry, you won’t hurt me, I’m unlocking the gates for you.”

 

With his brow still furrowed, he gently wrapped a hand around the hair at the back on her neck and pulled her to him until their foreheads touched. He cautiously peered into her mind and found no barriers. He couldn’t help but smile at that. It felt so different from any other time he had done this. Every time it had been different, for everyone's minds is quite singular.

 

Last time with Rey, it felt like a tug of war, with general Isayah, it felt like a vivisection, with Dameron like squeezing water out of an unwilling sponge. This time, it felt like he was taking a stroll through the open fields of her mind, he found himself in front of an imposing water damn, his figure ant sized in comparison. He was still trying to see the top of it when she opened the floodgates for him, all the water-memories came crashing down on him.

 

He snapped his head backwards, gulping at air like a drowning man, his hands were shaking, his chin too.

 

“Too much?” Rey asked.

 

He nodded, unable to speak, visibly shaken by the act.

 

There was a lot to process, for Rey had showed him everything since the day she landed on Ashkarah, all her memories, all her visions, all but one. She kept one for herself, she kept it from him because she didn’t know if it was set in stone. After all, she had changed two of her visions already. She kept it because if, somehow, it did come to pass, life should still hold some surprises, at least for one of them. So she gently locked the memory of the two black haired children into her mental box.

 

“Shit!” Ben found his hand moving of its own accord, wrapping protectively around his neck, the image of his head being chopped off still burned into his mind. He shook his head to get rid of it, then focused on the other things he’d seen. The temples, Leia, the Resistance, Leia being there for Rey, her visions, the voice in the darkness, Leia being the fighter he’d known all his life. Hux shooting Leia. He swallowed the hard, painful knot in his throat, he fought the tears that were building up in his eyes. Mom.

 

“Your turn,” he said, his voice soft and broken, “take what you want.”

 

It was Rey’s turn to frown. She gulped without realising. “Take what you want.” Did she want that, did she want unlimited access to his mind? She wasn’t sure, she was a little afraid of what she would find in there. Should she take all his secrets like that, even though he gave her  access? She decided not to do that. She would let him tell her his secrets on his own time.

 

She put her forehead to his and walked right into his mind, it was quite different from last time she had done that, when it felt like pulling something out of him, like grabbing the end of a loose twine and unraveling him. When she reached back to the first night their dreams connected, she pulled herself out of his mind.

 

There were tears in her eyes as she wrapped her hands around Ben’s neck. “I’m so sorry Ben, your mom...”

 

He nodded in the crook of her neck, fighting back tears, fighting back all his thoughts, all the words that were burning on his tongue, trying to escape his mouth. I loved her and yet, I hurt her so much. Now she’s gone, and it’s my fault, and I can never atone for all i’ve done to my mother. Ben squeezed his eyes shut and a few tears burned a ridge down his cheeks.

 

He sniffled and shook the thoughts of her out of his head. Another day.

 

“The voice you’ve heard in the darkness, it’s the same one that was calling me towards the temples.”

 

“Yeah,” Rey said, her mind lost in thought, “that’s why we’re going back there, we need answers.”


***

 

As Ben landed the ship in the clearing, not far from where he had landed his Upsilon shuttle what felt like a lifetime ago, the blue sky above was being washed in shades of orange by the setting sun on a warm summer’s day.

 

As soon as their feet touched the Ashkarah soil, they felt the pull of the temples, heard the call in their minds. As they made their way towards them, walking side by side, Rey couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the bodies of the fallen stormtroopers, she doubted Hux had them picked up. A few steps ahead she saw bits of white plastoid armour, the animals must have made a meal out of them.

 

She focused back to the temples ahead, this was it, she would finally get to the bottom of everything. Her mind ran with the idea and her determined footsteps became shorter and shorter, her pace slowing down, until finally, she stopped, halfway to the temples.

 

“Rey?”

 

She took a step backwards. “I can’t do this.”

 

He frowned.

 

“You feel it too, I know you do.” She said, closing the distance between them. “Once we go inside that temple, our lives will forever be divided into two, the before and after.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him back, away from the temples. “Once we cross that line, there’s no going back. I don’t know what we’ll find in there, but whatever it is, it’s big.”

 

“I know.” Ben said. “But we have to know, I have to know why and how we’ve been connected for so long.”

 

“Me too. But not tonight.”

 

“When?”

 

She thought for a moment, “Tomorrow, next sunset.”

 

He frowned again, “Why then?”

 

“Because, Ben Solo, I want a day where I’m not the abandoned girl from Jakku turned Jedi, and you’re not the former Supreme Leader. I want a day where we can pretend to be just a boy and a girl, in love with each other, on a planet all on their own. A day where we can be all we could have been, if we weren’t who we are.”

 

Ben gave her a smile, it was small and pained. “So, what do you want to do, girl with no past?”

 

“I want to live, I want to do all the things I’ve never done, all the things I might never do!” She smiled up at him. “But first...” She turned to the left and made a run for it through the forest. “Follow me! Hurry, while there’s still light.”

 

Ben shook his head and chuckled, then ran after her. By the time he caught up to her, he could see the lake through the trees, the sun drawing a yellow-reddish line over it’s surface.

 

“You are deceptively fast.” He said, as they stopped by the lake’s rocky shore.

 

“Thank you,” she replied taking off her clothes in a hurry.

 

Ben’s mouth ran drier than the Jakku desert when she stood in front of him, completely naked. Before he had the time to gulp, she was already running for the water.

 

“Better hurry up and get in before I drown.” She said, ankle deep in water.

 

“Ah! It’s still warm!” She squeaked, a wide smile on her face.

 

Ben took off his boots next to where she had left her nest of clothes, then removed the rest as he made his way towards her.

 

“You fell in a watery cage on Ahch-To, you know how to swim.” Ben countered.

 

“I lived my entire life in a desert, I don’t know how to swim, I just figured out how to flap my arms around long enough to reach the shore. You could say I know how to not drown.”

 

“Well, I am very happy you figured out how to not drown,” he said wrapping his hands around her waist, “and I can teach you how to swim.”

 

“I bet you can.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her body to his. Around them the water was lazily hitting the top of Rey’s breasts, covering most of her body in a blanket of still warm water.

 

She loved water, but she especially loved it like this, fresh and warm, gently caressing her skin with its lazy waves. At first, she had been fascinated by the rain on Ahch-To but the fascination quickly faded, the rain was so cold, too cold and it got everywhere, chilling her body to the bone in a way she never had felt before or after. The ocean on Luke’s planet had smelled of salt and rotting algae, sharp and pungent, the lake here smelled crisp and clean and it mixed deliciously with the forest’s grass and mossy scent.     

 

“Have enough room to move now?” She asked with a cheeky smile, as she wrapped her legs around his waist.

 

“It could do.” He smirked back, supporting her naked ass with his hands.

 

Rey kissed him with a hunger she didn’t think she possessed, she wanted to devour him, body and soul, feel him inside her body, her soul. Her lips pulled on his bottom lip until a moan escaped him, then she not-so-gently bit down on it, he groaned and pushed his tongue inside her mouth, twisting it around hers in a dizzying dance. His fingers dug deep into the flesh of her ass as he pulled her even closer to him, rubbing her slit on his hardness.

 

“Thought I was teaching you how to swim.” He said, breaking the kiss.

 

She whined in response, unhappy with the loss of his lips on hers.

 

“Let’s start with the back float, I’ll spot you.” He said moving back to shallower waters, her body still wrapped around his.

 

One hand still supporting her ass, he moved the other to untangle her hands from behind his neck. He then slid it between her legs until it reached up behind, his large hand placed firmly on the small of her back.

 

“Lean back, don’t worry, I’ve got you.”  

 

With eyes locked on his, she did just that.

 

He moved the hand up her back, keeping her afloat.

 

“Spread your arms out, palm up.” He said and Rey complied.

 

“There you go, now lift your chin up! Yeah, like that, arch you back, and lift your chest up. Good! Now bend your knees and spread your legs.”

 

Rey lifted her head up to look at him, and lost the precious equilibrium she had just managed to find. She fumbled trying to regain it, trying to keep her head above water, but Ben quickly moved another hand under her shoulders and held her up, then gave her a half amused, half admonishing look.

 

“Again,” he said and Rey huffed, but obayed. Once she regained the equilibrium, she bent her knees and spread her legs. Ben held on to her for a beat, then gently removed his hands.

 

She was floating, all by herself, there was excitement in her eyes and her lips were stretched into a wide smile. “I’m doing it!”

 

“I can see,” he said with a smile in his voice.

 

“Now, the trick here is to keep the equilibrium no matter what, always adjusting your body to account for external movements, to always be in tune with the waves. Think you can do that?”

 

“Mmhm.”  She answered, confidently.

 

“Oh, you do?” he said in a cocky voice and she knew instantly that she was in trouble. Her body stiffened just a little and found herself having to readjust to keep afloat.

He positioned himself between her spread legs and traced his fingers slowly down her body. There was no pressure in his touch, the tip of his fingers barely gliding over skin from the neck, to her breasts, circling her nipples until they hardened under his touch. Rey’s breath caught in her throat and she had to readjust herself again. His fingers were moving from her left breast down her belly, he traced her belly button then moved them lower and lower still, until the tips felt the coarse, dark hair, then the tender, pink skin.  

 

When his middle finger traced her slit, she almost lost her balance completely, but Ben placed his other hand on the small of her back, keeping her afloat. She found her balance again and he continued gently tracing the slit with his finger. Up and down, parting her folds, down one side of her clit’s hood, up the other, gently, lazily, barely there touches that made her feel wetter than the water around them, made all the blood in her head rush down there.

 

She felt his finger circling her opening, then the slight pressure of it working its way inside her, slowly, tenderly stretching her, she moaned and tried her best to keep afloat. He was two knuckles deep when with every push of his middle finger, his index and ring finger started caressing each side of her clit’s hood, gently pinching it as he pulled the finger out. For all the water around her, the combined sensations made Rey’s mouth run bone dry. She was barely getting used to the feeling when he twisted his finger inside her until his hand was palm up. A low guttural moan escaped her.

 

She had to adjust her body again as to keep afloat when she felt another of Ben’s fingers push inside her. Ben pushed up one of his knees, supporting her ass above the water, then started thrusting into her a little faster, deeper, his thumb making circles around her hood and of her swollen clit.

 

She could feel the tension building up inside her, his fingers moving insider her hot, wet slit, the feel of his thumb circling her hood, rubbing it, the water lapping on and over her body, she wanted nothing more that to be able to thrust herself on his fingers, but she had to keep afloat. It all felt like sweet, agonizing torture.

 

Rey’s thighs were shaking and he knew she wouldn’t be able to support herself above the water any longer, so he moved his free hand to prop her shoulders up.

 

He loved all the clues her body was giving him, telling him how she wanted to be touched, how soft or hard, how slow or fast, now they were telling him she wanted it faster, and harder, a little ruffer, so he obliged.

 

He moved his thumb over her tender clit, tracing circles, pushing and pulling on it with the tip of his thumb, he moved his fingers in and out, turning them around inside her, when they reached a small ridged part inside of her, she twitched and clenched around his fingers, a loud moan leaving her lips. She liked that , he realized, so he made sure to touch that area with every thrust. He could feel her from the inside, getting hotter, contracting around fingers, she was close.

 

“Ben...” she moaned and her body was twitching under his hands.

 

He rubbed her clit just a little harder, rubbed at the ridged part of her and he felt her come around his fingers. She felt hot and wet and she was slipping out of his hands and making her way towards the bottom of the lake. He caught her just in time, holding her up in his arms, bridal style.

 

“I need a minute,” she said, exhaling a breath she had been holding and there was a very pleased, cocky smile plastered on his face.

 

She splashed water in his face at that and he dropped her. She was laughing when she was vertical again, and she lunged for him just as soon, she drove him under the water’s surface, back first. She kissed him there, under the darkening water and for a moment she truly felt like they were just what she wanted them to be, just a boy and a girl in love with each other. She smiled widely as soon as they broke the water surface and she placed a toothy kiss on his lips.

 

“What do you wanna do next?” He asked her.

 

She looked up at the sky, the darkness was eating away the last of its blue shades.

 

“Wash up, find a place for the night?”

 

                                                                         

Chapter Text

The darkness engulfed the last rays of light as they hung their freshly washed clothes on tree branches just outside the underground entrance. Rey couldn’t stop herself from looking at the temples, think of the calling they had heard. The pull they had felt had stopped as if they were granting her wish, she gave them a silent thank you.

 

Ben’s lightsaber offered the only light around, shining pale blue as it guided their way downstairs. They were naked as the day they were born, except for the lightsabers in their hands and the waterproof dressing on Ben’s wound.

 

“We gotta find some clothes,” Rey said.

 

“Oh, I don’t know about that, I’m enjoying the view.”

 

“Well, I’m cold, and yes, I know you can think of ways to warm me up.” Rey chuckled, anticipating his smartass reply.

 

She turned on her own lightsaber and went inside the supply room, where they kept the mini generator that provided electricity to all the military paraphernalia and, most importantly now, to the rudimentary lights the Resistance had set up.

 

“There,” she said, turning it on. A few seconds later the lights flickered on, casting the darkness out.

 

She saw Ben looking around the facility with curiosity, and offered “Go check it out, I’ll find us something to wear.”

 

It took her awhile and some digging through all the things that the Resistance hadn’t taken with them when they left, but finally found something to wear. She took a whiff of the clothing and declared them clean enough.

She turned to call him back, but he was already standing in the doorway. With a smile, she threw his share in his direction.

 

“Urgh, khakis.” Ben wrinkled his nose as he caught them.

 

For herself, she had picked a loose shirt that reached halfway down her thighs and a pair of trousers, both the same khaki color. As soon as she finished putting them on, she turned to look at Ben. His shirt wasn’t as loose as hers, but it was almost just as long. The trousers were another story. She didn’t bother muffling a chuckle at the sight of his half uncovered calves, his trousers so short on his long limbs, they looked like capris. Her big, tall man, standing there, looking like he was trying to fit into a younger sibling’s hand-me-downs.  

 

“Are you stealing my look?” she asked through genuine laughter.

 

He laughed back, looking down at himself.

 

“I especially like this diarrhea color, never understood why the Jedi chose it,” he complained. “I mean, a few reasons do come to mind…”

 

Rey chuckled, and shook her head, “While you think that over, I’m going to find us a place to sleep.”

 

She made her way out of the storage room and into ones the Resistance had used as bedrooms.  They were just as she remembered them, tiny, narrow, with low ceilings. It wouldn’t do. She grabbed a couple of the thin mattresses that had been left behind, and dragged them back to the large center room, pushing them together into a decent sized bed. She went back into the rooms to come back out a few minutes later with an armful of blankets, she spread them out over her makeshift bed and looked down at her project with pride and anticipation.

 

“Such a resourceful scavenger,” Ben said, wrapping his arms around her as he came up from behind. He kissed her neck, “Looks great.”

 

She pushed her butt out in a sort of playful kick and he quickly pressed a hand between her legs, locking her ass in place. He moved his hips around, rubbing his hardness on her ass.

 

“Why did we put on clothes?” he asked, his breath hot in her ear.

 

Rey couldn’t remember.

 

Her body quivered under his touch as she felt his hand go beneath the waistband of her pants, moving slowly down. She felt herself getting wet, a rush of heat building between her legs.  When his fingers touched her most sensitive parts, she moaned. Gods, yes.

 

She reached a hand behind her and grabbed ahold of his cock, and it was his turn to moan and quiver. She liked that . She turned, and Ben’s hand left her pants as she continued stroking him through trousers. She looked up at him and saw his mouth ajar.

 

“Take off your shirt,” she ordered, still stroking him.

 

He quickly obeyed.

 

She slowly moved back towards the bed, still rubbing his hard cock, and he followed. When her heels reached the mattress she stopped. “And your pants,” she added.

 

He obeyed again.

 

When he was done, he reached for her, trying to pull her shirt off.

 

“No.” She said simply, making eye contact.

 

With eyes locked on him, she kissed down his body, from his neck to the patch of dark hair between his legs, flicking her tongue over every one of his beauty marks. She found herself counting the little dark marks, but lost track somewhere along the way. She got down on her knees on the bed, licked her lips and kissed his abdomen again, being careful around the wound she had patched, then dragged her lips down his smooth skin to his groin and heard Ben’s breath catch. Oh, she liked that.

 

She licked the sensitive juncture between his abdomen and leg, her tongue moving down towards his cock, pressing little kisses along the way. She moved to the other side and did the same. With the corner of her eye, she saw his cock twitch in anticipation and smiled, delighted.

 

Finally, she took his cock in her hand. It was as long and thick as the rest of him, hard and beautiful. Feeling playful, she pressed his cock up to his abdomen with a thumb. “Now,” she said, leaving a wet, sloppy kiss where his cock met his balls, “the trick here is,” she kissed further up his shaft, gently sucking on it with wet, full lips, “to keep your legs from buckling,” she kissed further up, letting her lips linger, flicking his shaft with her tongue, “no matter what.”

 

She looked up at him and wrapped a hand around his cock, “Think you can do that?” she asked, throwing the words he’d said to her at the lake back at him with a cocky smile. There was a smirk of amusement on Ben’s face that was quickly wiped away when she put the head of his cock in her mouth, his mouth now agape in silent exclamation.

 

“Fuck!” he groaned. She definitely liked that.

 

“Mmh,” she moaned around the head of his cock and it twitched inside of her mouth. She moved her tongue around the crown of the head and she felt his entire body shake. She loved the power she had over him; how her mouth could make him quiver like that, it was exhilarating.

 

She looked up at him, wanting to see the pleasure reflecting on his face. Ben’s eyes were closed, his face ravaged by a storm of micro-expressions. She smiled around his cock and sucked on it, a low growl left his throat.

 

“Look at me,” she said, a hand on his cock, the tip of her tongue moving in circles around the head.

 

He obeyed again, and she felt like she could make him do anything and everything she wanted. The thought made her folds slick, made her mind sing with the possibilities. She knew she would never abuse that power, he was completely safe with her and she with him, but Gods, the thought of it drove her wild. He was looking down at her with desire, love, and complete abandonment and she was getting drunk on it. They trusted each other completely, making it easy to want to give him everything she possessed and ask for all of him in return. She loved him like she had never loved anyone else before; like she knew she wouldn’t, couldn’t love another.

 

With eyes locked on each other, she took more of his cock in her mouth, moving her tongue around it. He was too big to fit it all in, but she managed to take half of him. She moved her hand around the other half in up and down strokes, mixed with a lazy twist of her wrist. As she squeezed his cock through tightly pressed lips, Ben shuddered. “Fuck, Rey!”

 

She smirked up at him; if she wanted to win the game she’d have to up the ante.

 

She held his cock in place as she licked from his balls to the tip of his cock, moaning with pleasure, like she was eating a delicious sweet. Then, licked back down and up again with the same relish.

 

She took him back in her mouth, making sure to make loud, dirty noises. Twisting her tongue around him, she explored around the crown and tongued at the opening, mapping out the shape of his cock. Just as she was getting ready to add even more stimulation, she tasted something metallic and a little salty on the tip of her tongue.

 

“Rey,” he gasped, “I’m gonna…”

 

“Good,” she breathed around his cock, as she began to suck harder, faster, her tongue twisting around the head, her hand moving around the base of his cock.

 

Without warning, Rey felt an explosion of warmth in her mouth, it surprised her but she recovered quickly though, swallowing the warm, thick liquid, then licking his cock clean. It tasted like nothing she had before and it made her tongue slightly tingle.

 

As soon as she released his cock from her mouth with a final kiss, his knees buckled and he fell on top of her.

 

“I won,” she said, grabbing his face between her hands and kissing him, making him taste himself in her mouth, as their tongues swirled around each other.

 

“You won,” he agreed exhaling, settling his head between her breasts. “Fuck, that was incredible.”

 

She loved the sound of that, loved the confirmation of it.

 

“After that night we spent together,” she started, moving her fingers around his hair, “I may have spent some time looking things up on the holonet.” She smiled cheekily.

 

“I wish I had that forethought,” he admitted, his breath evening out with a contented sigh.

 

“Don’t worry, you’re doing great.” She grabbed one of his hands, “That thing you did with your fingers, just thinking about it....” She moved his hand under her waistband and between her legs, showing him how wet it made her.

 

He smirked at that, his eyes dark, and then peeled her pants and shirt off.

 

He looked at her perfect, toned, naked body. He loved that strong body, that held such a beautiful mind, an iron will, and fiery passion. He loved everything about her. She was a goddess that for some reason had granted him, an unworthy mortal, access to her realm. He wanted to kiss every inch of her, little freckles and all, as he worshipped her and showed his devotion.

 

Settling himself between her legs, he lifted her right leg and kissed the bridge of her foot softly. He brushed his lips across her skin, moving upwards and placing another kiss on her leg. He moved further upwards repeating the same process over and over again. He looked up at her after every other kiss, paying attention to the tales her face was telling him. How her brows lifted up, and her lips parted into the shape of an O. He kissed his way up to her knee and she twitched when his lips pressed on the tender skin behind it, he kissed it again, unsure if it was a twitch of pleasure or of a suppressed tickle response. She moaned and the furrow in her brows deepened, he had his answer.

 

“Teach my mouth your favorite places,” he breathed on the sensitive skin; Rey’s body shivered.

 

He kissed his way up her inner thigh next, and as he got closer to her slit, the more she writhed underneath him and made breathy little sounds that made his cock perk up. When he sucked on the little patch of skin there, she cried out and arched her back, thrusting her hips up.

 

“B-en, fuck,”  she moaned as he continued sucking. Her skin freckled with petechiae in the shape of an ragged oval, where his lips had been.

 

“Do it again,” she asked and he did, further up, even closer to her slit.

 

“Fuu-ck!” She twisted even harder under his lips, moving her hips closer towards his face. He knew what she wanted. It made his cock hard thinking about how she longed for his mouth on her.

 

He continued kissing his way up, placing a kiss on the patch of hair between her legs, and then another one lower. Finally at the place where Rey had been longing for him to be, he used his tongue to part her slick folds. In one long agonizingly slow motion, he licked her cunt from back to front.

 

He smiled at the way her body twitched under him, the smile was still on his face as he moved further up her body, to her abdomen. She moaned in disappointment, but her tune changed as soon as his mouth found her nipples. He swirled his tongue around one, and then took it into his mouth and sucked it with relish. He worked on it until it was a stiff peak before moving to the next nipple; afterward, he plastered kisses from one breast to another, showing them the reverence they were long overdue.

He looked up at her and saw her eyes closed, mouth half open, body arched to meet his lips.  When they reached a certain spot right under her last left rib, she twisted her body, guiding his lips. He heard a low moan leaving her throat, and his cock twitched in response. He made sure to take mental notes of all the places he had discovered, and how Rey liked each of them to be touched, kissed, or sucked.

 

He placed another trail of kisses down her other leg, ending at her feet before moving back up again. He focused his attention on her other thigh, kissing and sucking at the tender flesh, leaving a cluster of love bites behind.

 

“It’s going to leave a mark,” he said, his tongue tracing the fresh little bruise.

 

She lifted her head up and looked at him, “Gods, Ben, I want you. Now!” she said through hard, ragged breaths, already pulling him up by the hair to move him into position.

 

“Not yet,” he answered in a low, dark voice. After removing her hands from his hair, he moved her arms up above her head and locked them in place with the Force.

 

She groaned at the loss of control.

 

“I wanna feel you cum around my mouth,” he said and heard her breath catch.

 

“Watch!” he demanded.

 

Their eyes locked as his tongue moved inside her, as he twisted it around her folds, and as he licked her up and down in long, decadent, continuous moves. He felt her body tremble underneath him, felt her hips arch up to him, granting him better access. He grabbed her hips in his hands and lifted her butt off the bed, pulling her closer to him, to his tongue.

 

“Ben!” Rey exclaimed, her hands still locked in place behind her head.

 

He gave her a wicked smile.

 

He took her cunt in his mouth, his tongue moving lazily around her clit, then up and down her inner folds, he sucked and gently pulled at them while making dirty, wet noises. With one finger he gently pulled at the skin just above the start of her slit, pulling the hood up in the process, exposing the little pink bundle of nerves. He took it in his mouth and kissed it with moist lips and an eager tongue.

 

He could hear Rey’s breath catch, her thighs beginning to quiver. He sucked on her clit like she had sucked on his cock, alternating the suction with the smooth licks of his tongue.

 

He felt Rey’s legs wrap around his head, pulling his face in, arching her back and riding his mouth.

 

“BEN!” she screamed out, her legs shaking around his head. He sucked just a little harder while  flicking his tongue over her clit and he felt a wave of movements take over her body. Ben felt her folds contracting around him a few times, then, like a loud exhale, her entire body went limp, her legs releasing their hold on him.  

 

He looked up at her; her head was thrown back, eyes staring out unfocused, as she raggedly took in air. He let go of the hold he had on her arms, noting absently that she didn't bother moving them from their position.

 

“Oh my fucking Gods,” she said, completely still, apart from the up and down movement of her chest.

 

He left a trail of kisses on her body as he made his way towards her lips.

 

His cock was hard as a rock now, every little, and not so little sound she made caused it to get harder and harder. He loved being the reason behind her moans, behind her pleasure. He loved hearing her scream his name in ecstasy, the same name that he had spent so long hating. Somehow it tasted so much sweeter on her lips.


***

 

Ben kissed her and she could taste herself in his mouth. Somehow it made her folds twitch, made her wet again.

 

“Mhh,” she moaned.

 

Gods, that had been something else. She could still feel the electricity of her orgasm rippling through her body, making it feel both hypersensitive and completely sedated. She had loved the abandonment of having her hands pinned into place with the Force, there was no fear, no worry. She felt completely at ease letting him take over, though she did make a mental note to do the same to him sometime soon.

 

He turned and laid on his back, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close. She placed her head on his shoulder and nuzzled at his neck, feeling his fingers running through her hair. She didn’t think she’d ever felt more content.

 

“I think I can give it a cut for you, make it look less like it was chewed on by rabid animals.”

 

She laughed at that and looked up at him. “I don't know if I trust you around my hair.”

 

“You just trusted me around a lot more… sensitive areas,” he answered in a fake affronted tone.

 

“Yeah, well, people can actually see my hair.”

 

They laughed together at their silly joke as Ben wrapped another arm around her body, placing a kiss on the top of her head.

 

“I love you, Ben,” she said looking up at him.

 

“I love you too,” he answered locking eyes.

 

“Say it again,” she cajoled with a smile.

 

Ben propped himself up on an elbow and cupped a hand around her face.

 

“I love you,” he said, pressing his lips to hers.

 

He moved his body until she lay underneath him, then kissed her just behind her left ear.

 

“I love all your little freckles,” he kissed lower, at the middle point of her neck, “your still tanned skin,” he kissed her collarbone, “and your beautiful breasts.” His lips brushed over the curve of her breasts, his tongue licking around her nipples.

 

“I love how you went head to head with me and owned my ass,” he kissed at the spot he just found right under her rib, “I loved seeing the fire in your eyes while you did it, so wild and fierce.”

 

He was moving his lips in a crisscross pattern over her abdomen as he said: “I have never seen anything more beautiful than you, in that snowy forest, bathed in the purple light of our sabers. I doubt I ever will.”

 

“I loved us fighting together in perfect harmony even more, like we had been a team for years,” He smiled over the skin of her belly as he continued, “loved how you grabbed my thigh during the fight,” he kissed the corresponding place she had grabbed on her thigh.

 

“Loved how you saved my neck,” he was making his way back up her body, leaving a constellation of kisses in his wake, “and loved how you used that trooper to cut your lightstaff in two.”

 

“I love that you love me,” he kissed her lips and she smiled widely at him. “I love your smile, and the little dimple that you get.” He traced the shallow indentation with a finger, then looked her in the eyes, putting all the love he felt for her into his gaze and it took her breath away. “There are thousands of reasons why I love you, and I know each day I’ll have a hundred more.”

 

Rey almost launched herself at him, she grabbed a handful of his hair and pulled him to her, she quickly moved their bodies until she was straddling his lap, then kissed him. It was rough and fast, a twist of tongues almost fighting for dominance. Slowly it mellowed into tongues searching each other, longing to meet, coming together just to break apart again. Then it was slow and soft, full of love and abandonment. It wasn’t just a kiss, it was their love story.  

 

With one hand she pushed his upper body down until he lay flat on the bed, she could feel his hard cock between her legs and it made her folds even slicker. She rubbed herself on it and a moan escaped both their lips.

 

She lifted herself off his lap and positioned him at her entrance. He looked into his eyes as she lowered herself on him, their lips parting in unison. She had in just the tip of his head, and he already felt big, much bigger than his fingers had felt not too long ago, she breathed in and lowered herself until she took in the entire head. Their mouths opened even wider.

 

“Fuck,” Rey breathed with a frown.

 

“You okay?” He quickly asked.

 

“Yeah.” she answered and gave herself time to adjust to him, to the slight sting and pressure between her legs.  

 

With a huff she lowered herself more on him, she could feel her slick folds spreading for him, then wrapping tightly around his cock. He felt big and hot inside her, felt like he belonged there. She moved up and down his cock slowly, lowering herself a little bit more each time, he was half in and she felt like he was already filling her up, her clit twitched at the thought of all of him inside. She could read on his face what being inside her did to him, she saw his brow furrow, saw his mouth open and close just to open again, saw his face muscles twitch in dozens of delightful ways.  

 

“This feels different than last time,” she said moving up and down his cock, taking more of him in with each thrust.

 

“More intense.”

 

“Yeah,” she agreed, slowly pushing herself further down, taking all of him in.

 

“Fuck!” she said again and Ben looked at her with worry.

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

 

“Sure.”

 

Everything felt so intense, almost overwhelming. He felt big, and hot, the slight sting gave way to just a feel of unfamiliar pressure, but as soon as her body adjusted, his cock felt like a perfect fit for her.

 

She closed her eyes and started moving her hips more, the pressure between her legs easing, morphing into something a lot more pleasurable, she felt her cunt getting warmer, felt the head of his cock stretching its way in and out, felt her warm, wet inner walls squeezing his cock in delicious ways. She could feel how single minded Ben was, how there was nothing in the world except for her and her warm, wet, tight cunt that was driving his mind crazy.

 

“Whoa!” she exclaimed, wide eyes darting to his face. “H-how do I know this… Are you showing me this?”

 

Ben looked at her with the same surprise. “I’m not… Are you? Cause I feel everything you feel. Do you feel me?”

 

Rey nodded as another wave of new and strange sensations crushed over her and she let it take her under, her eyes closing on their own. She could stop and puzzle over the how-s and why-s or she could enjoy it. She went for the latter.

 

She started moving her hips and focused on their connection, she could feel herself wet and warm, her walls wrapped tight around his cock, smooth and silky with little, mind numbing ridges deeper in. She saw herself through his eyes, saw where their bodies joined together, saw her breasts  moving in sync with her hips, saw his large hands move to cup around her breasts, massaging them, pinching her nipples between long fingers. Saw her head thrown back slightly, her face frowning with concentration and pleasure, her bottom lip pressed tight between her teeth. She thought she never looked more beautiful and wondered if it was because she was seeing herself through his eyes.

 

She smiled and opened her eyes, her hips still holding the rhythm. She moved his hands from her breasts to her hips, then looked down at him, letting him see himself through her eyes. She traced a hand down his chest, mapping out his toned muscles, the sharp curve of his pecs, the ridge of his nipples. She lingered fingers over each of his beauty marks, someday she would count them, she knew she would.

 

She outlined each of his scars with the tip of her fingers, swirling around the scarred tissue, caressing it, leaving the one she left on his body and face for last.  

 

With the tip of two fingers she slowly trailed the long scar, up his pectoral muscle, where it curved up to his collarbone and felt her fingers moving on her own body, tracing a scar she didn’t possess.

 

Ben twitched underneath her when her fingers went up his neck and she could feel the same twitch deep inside her. She continued up to his diamond shaped jaw, feeling his pulse underneath her fingers, thinking how easily she could have killed him that night, how she might had if the earth didn’t split apart in between them. “I’m so glad I didn’t kill you,” she sent into his head. He chuckled in response and moved her hips around his cock a little faster.

 

Rey had to close her eyes for a second, lost in the combined sensations of the rhythm change.  

 

She leaned down and continued tracing the scar up his face, past the two beauty marks low on his cheek, they looked like twin black holes, orbiting each other, being absorbed into a single, larger one. She kissed them with light, barely there lips.

 

“I love,” she said moving her lips towards his ear, kissing the two marks there, “every single,” she continued further and kissed the one on his cheekbone, “one of, ” kissed the smaller one just a little higher,  “your marks,” she finished as she kissed the one on his temple.

 

She saved the one on his smile line for last, she traced the shallow line and found herself hoping for it to deepen in time. She kissed the dark mark and whispered “You were made for the stars, you have constellations on your skin.”

She caressed his face with a thumb and looked into his eyes, their bodies and minds connected, she poured into her gaze all the love she felt for him, everything she didn't know how to put into words, everything that an I love you couldn't even begin to convey.

 

It made Ben stop, his mouth opened in surprise, his gaze holding hers. He let himself get drunk on it, then with a hand cupped around her face, he poured his own feelings into her. The Force started to buzz around them, blurring and muting everything around them but each other. It had always done that, every time it connected them, like it was telling them, he is what you need to pay attention to, she is more important than anything you are doing .

 

The Force sang in their minds like a temple choir, it danced around them in shades of golden smoke. But all that mattered to them was looking back at them, with adoration, one thumb caressing a cheek. They lifted their free hand at the same time, and it reached for the other’s in an instant, like two separated magnets coming back together. They didn’t break eye contact as their palms touched, as their fingers interconnected, as their minds conveyed everything that words could not, as they made their silent vows.

 

“Together.” Rey said in his head.

 

“Always.” Ben added.

 

They stayed like that for a while, their bodies still connected. The golden hues dissipated around them, reality focusing back into place. They smiled at each other as if they were the only two people in the galaxy aware of life’s true meaning.

 

The smile quickly turned into a chuckle that rocked both of their bodies in unison. They fell back on the bed together, their connected bodies coming apart, still chuckling.

 

“I knew you wouldn’t be a sourpuss,” she said, “I could see this side of you lurking in your snarky remarks.” She placed a little peck on his lips, “So glad I was right.”

 

“Are you keeping score of all the things you’ve been right about?” he asked.

 

“Uhm,” she said elongating the last letter, then continued in her most innocent voice “maybe?”

 

“What’s the score?” he asked, poking her side with two fingers.

 

“I said maybe.” she complained, giggling.

 

“Come on, what’s the score?” he asked again, tickling her in honest.

 

“Wouldn't you like to know.” she teased, grabbing his hands in hers and stopping the tickle torture.

 

He twisted their bodies around until she was pinned down beneath him.

 

“What’s the score on our other game?”  He asked running his lips down the center of her body. He had reached her belly button when he added, “I won the lake match, you won when you made my knees buckle with that mouth of yours.” He trailed his lips lower down, between her legs, the tip of his tongue spreading her lips again. “Was it a game too, when I made you cum around my tongue?” he breathed hot on her folds.

“Did I win when I pinned your arms down?” He asked looking up at her with dark eyes, a wicked smile on his face. He didn’t wait for an answer, instead he spread the outer folds open and licked her cunt front to back with a flat tongue.

 

She trembled underneath him.

 

“How about we j-ju… ah!” She started, but he slipped a wet, warm tongue inside her and she forgot what she was saying for a second. When she recovered she added, “just forget about the games.”

 

“Aah!”, she moaned, his tongue twisting inside her making her mouth run dry with want.

 

“Where’s the fun in that?” he answered, lifting his tongue off of her just long enough to speak, then returning it to her sweet, tangy cunt, working his tongue deeper inside her.

 

“Ben!” She exclaimed, pulling him up by the hair again. This time he didn’t stop her.

 

“Yes?” he smirked.

 

She was pulling at him, grabbing his ass and moving it into position.

 

“Is there something you want?” He asked raising his eyebrows in a questioning way, “All you have to do is say it.”

 

“Oh my Gods, you are insufferable.”  she huffed underneath him.

 

The smirk widened on his face as he positioned his cock at her entrance, rubbing the head on her very wet folds.

 

She moaned and pushed her hips down on his cock, the need to be filled overtaking her.

 

He pulled his cock back just a little, “Oh no. You have to say it,” he teased.

 

“I hate you,” she said with a frown and they both knew she didn’t mean it, not in the actual sense anyway.

 

He rubbed his head on her folds again, pushing the head in just a little.  “Say it.”

 

She looked at him with fire in her eyes, “Fuck me!” she ordered, and he obeyed.

 

He slipped the head of his cock in and, just like last time, he could feel himself in her. He moved inside her slowly, gently, giving her time to adjust to him again. She felt just as tight and warm, wrapping his cock in a warm embrace he never wanted to escape.

 

“Faster,” he heard in his head a fraction of a second before he was going to do just that.

He felt what she felt, she knew that, she knew he would move in any way she wanted him to, any way it would please her, but she still wanted to be the one giving the orders. He found himself smiling at that.

 

He realised she liked this game of dominance they were playing, and he liked it too, it made his cock twitch thinking of taking orders from her. He liked the reverse of it just as much, so he sent a vision of her spread out on the bed, her hands bound by invisible cuffs, him pounding into her relentless.

 

She bit her lip at that, and her cunt pulsated around him. “Promises, promises” she chuckled.

 

He not so gingerly grabbed one of her legs and placed it on his shoulder, the other one he held in place around his back with the Force. He started moving himself inside her, changing the angle, increasing the speed, testing what felt the best for her.

 

“Come here,” she beckoned, pulling him to her until their lips touched.  

 

He wrapped a hand around the back of her neck and kissed her, his cock still pumping inside her.

 

“Ahh,” she moaned in his mouth when his cock reached the ridged part of her wall, an intense and strange sensation overtaking his body. He pushed into her, making sure to hit that wondrous spot each time and he could feel a pressure building up inside her with every stroke. That, combined with the warmth and tightness he felt around his cock made his body shiver, made him pull away from their kiss so he could bite down on his lips, take his mind away from it, trying to delay the inevitable.

 

Underneath him, Rey’s breathing was fast and ragged, he felt her hands cup his ass pulling him deeper inside her, setting a dizzying rhythm. The pressure was building higher and higher inside her, her cunt getting hotter. He bit down harder on his lip, so hard he could taste copper on it.

 

“Fuck, Rey.” He managed to breathe out.

 

He felt Rey’s leg wrap tighter around his back, her fingers digging deep into the flesh of his ass, he felt the sweet agonizing pressure on the verge of exploding, she was so close.

 

He sucked on his thumb then rubbed it over her clit, and Rey’s body shook underneath him, her cunt contracting around his cock as she rode the waves of pleasure, and it was all that Ben was waiting for, he let go. His mind was floating in a sea of combined pleasure, his cock twitching inside her as he spilled his release.

 

As soon as he recovered, he placed a toothy kiss on her lips. She exhaled loudly and shook her head, like she was trying to tear away the cobwebs.

 

He chuckled at that.

 

“Let’s call this one a tie.” she said with a cheeky smile on her face, and it made Ben burst out laughing.

Chapter Text

 

Edisa looked down at the long table where Finn, Rose, and her troopers were finishing up their meal. They had landed on Naboo just hours ago, the welcoming had been as warm as it could in their situation, and she imagined it would had been a much colder one if Poe, as leader of the Resistance, hadn’t vouched for them.

 

She wasn’t surprised when the Naboo liaison demanded a debriefing from them,  she did consider declining, but ultimately accepted, she was in no position to refuse.

 

The tall, wiry man that was assigned as their liaison had wanted to personally debrief every single one of her team instead of just her, she had warned him that they would not talk without her, but the man had insisted.

 

As she sat and quietly waited in what looked a lot like an interrogation room for her turn, she couldn’t help but imagine her team’s reaction to the man. She even laughed to herself at the thought of him trying to get something out of Maro, or at the inconsequential stories Qu’ would ramble on and on, she wondered if Wes would give him the fuck you, no! attitude that he was famous for, or if he would opt for cut edge sarcasm.

 

When the man finally entered the room she couldn’t quite tell which one it had been, but she realized her team had gotten on his last nerves. She smiled at that.

 

“How did that work out for ‘ya?” Edisa asked.

 

The man narrowed his eyes on her, but did not answer, instead he pulled up a chair and sat in front of her. He started without preamble, “I have gotten reliable information from-,” he looked down on his holopad, “Finn the former stormtrooper turned Resistance member and Rose Tico about the past few days, I am confident enough that their stories are truthful.” He placed his hands on the table and leaned forward, “What I want to know from you , Miss Edisa, former stormtrooper captain A-1084, is how you’ve managed to break the First Order’s conditioning?”

 

Edisa’s brows rose of their own accord, she hadn’t expected that question, even though she should have. She blinked at the man a couple of times. “I don’t know,” she answered truthfully.

 

“Surely, you must ha-”

 

“I have no explanation for it, maybe it didn’t take on me as well as it did on others since I was older than most, maybe my stubbornness changed my brain chemistry, maybe it was the will of the gods or the Force. I have no answers, but I am not the only one, as you may have gathered by now.”

 

The man looked at her then nodded, it seemed to Edisa that he believed her. Somehow she felt like this wasn’t the end of the conversation, he seemed to be filing it away for a later date.

 

“Who won the battle?” Edisa asked him, and she felt something coil tightly inside her as she waited for his answer.

 

“We did.”

 

When their liaison mentioned the loss of one of their ships, Edisa found herself hoping it wasn’t Poe’s. She exhaled a sigh of relief that she felt instantly ashamed of. The casualty had been a young Admiral by the name of Cisco and his entire crew. They were amongst the few survivors of the Hosnian System genocide, and that made her feel horrible.

 

“What are you doing about the rest of the First Order?” She asked, thinking of the holo figures of the generals that hadn’t physically attended Hux’s show.

 

The man answered that they would be taken care of, he offered no additional details, nor an explanation. She didn’t much care for the vague answer, but knew she wasn’t going to get a better one, so she nodded her understanding.

 

“Your situation is a very interesting one,” the man said looking down on his pad, almost to himself. He looked back up at her then added, almost as a completely different thought, “We have arranged accommodations for you and your team in one of our barracks.”

 

Edisa raised an eyebrow at that.

 

“You are our guests, not our prisoners, therefore you are free to come and go as you please. However, Commander Dameron has sent word for everyone to await his arrival on Naboo.”

 

Edisa raised her eyebrow again.

 

“You must be tired, and hungry, the cantina is open, feel free to use it. ” The man got up from his chair, and made his way towards the door.

 

“Is that all?”

 

“For now, yes.” the man answered.

 

“Thanks.” Edisa called back after him.

 

It was now an hour later, an hour which her and her people had used to check out their new surroundings, freshen up and unwind in one way or another.  

 

Here they were now, huddled around each other, the remains of their meal in front of them.

 

“We need to wait for the rest of our people to get here,” Edisa started, “the troopers and Resistance members that were on Hux’s ship should be landing soon, the ones scattered throughout the galaxy are on their way. Once here, there will be enough of us to take down the stormtrooper academy and rehabilitation centers.”

 

“Which one should we go after first?” Maro asked.

 

“The academy. The First Order took a major blow today, but they’re not gone yet. The remaining four generals will not bow down and surrender, they would rather die fighting. They will pull all the available First Order resources, all the firepower and manpower. They will call on the academy for its cadets. We have to move fast, but we also have to be smart about this.”

 

“Finn, are you with us?” Edisa asked the former trooper that seemed lost in thought.

 

“Yeah, yeah, just thinking.”

 

Edisa looked Finn in the eyes, then said, “Look, I know you care about Rey, but you need to understand that she’s a grown woman. She does not need your help, or anyone else's and she has made her choice. There are men and women that didn’t get a choice, and do need our help.”

 

Finn’s eyes drifted down to his plate, his jaw squared.

 

“We can help the ones that actually need it, are you with us Finn?”

 

Finn swallowed, then looked up at her. “Yeah, I’m with you.”

 

Edisa pulled up a holopad, “Now that we have all this intel on the First Order, this shouldn’t be as impossible as it might seem.” Edisa looked around the table and saw many red eyes reset into long faces. She understood them perfectly, she wasn’t sure how many standard day cycles there had been since she last slept, probably around two.

 

“We’ll discuss a plan when everyone gets here, in nine standard hours” Edisa continued, “this is a time sensitive matter but we have to get some rest, otherwise this mission is going to fail before it begins.”

 

A multitude of red eyes blinked in agreement.

 

“Go get some sleep! What are you waiting for?”

 

The sound of metal chairs scraping on hard rock filled the cantina and irked Edisa’s ears, she frowned and focused back on the holopad.

 

Her people needed the rest, she needed the rest, but she needed a good plan of attack more. She grabbed the tin cup of dark caf sitting on the table and drank it all like a shot of alcohol.

 

Urgh , her body shook at the bitter taste. She only cared for caf when its taste was hidden under a portion of some type of milk and sweetener. She hadn’t found them next to the caf dispenser, and was too tired and preoccupied to look for them further. She shook her head, tongue half out, pressed between teeth and drew her attention back on the holopad.

 

She realized that if it weren’t for Kylo Ren she wouldn’t have had anything to go on. If it weren’t for him maybe there wouldn’t be a war at all, maybe the First Order, under Hux, would have continued its rule unchallenged. She vaguely wondered what he and the Jedi where doing right now, if how they had looked at each other was any indication, she could definitely imagine. Edisa smirked and shook her head again, this time really focusing on what she had to do.

 

The plan. Where to start? There was a lot of info regarding the academy on the holopad, too much. More than she could process in the hours before all of her team got here and she desperately hoped her eyelids would connect for at least a few standard hours.

 

She looked up from the pad, a little startled to see the small figure of Rose taking a seat to her right.

 

“Need help?”

 

“What are you doing here, you should get some rest?” Edisa inquired.

 

“So should you,” Finn said, taking the seat to her left.

 

“I want you to know that I could be sleeping, or making love to Maro right now.” Wes said in a deadpan voice, taking a seat across from Edisa.

 

“Nobody is interested in hearing that!” Qu’ complained, taking the seat next to his friend.

 

“I am,” Maro said, giving Qu’ a wink “and I appreciate your sacrifice, babe,” he offered to Wes, before occupying the other seat next to him.

 

“What’s going on?” Edisa asked.

 

“The plan is really important, and while we completely trust you to come up with it, we figured that we can get things done faster with six heads.” Maro explained.

 

Edisa looked at each of them and smiled, something warm was swelling inside her.

 

“Okay, let’s get this shit on the road so I can get some and y’all can get some sleep.” Wes added.

 

Two standard hours later the plan was hatched, and everyone was puffing and snoring in their respective chambers, including Wes, who had been too tired and sleep deprived to actually get some.

 

***

 

Ben was walking in long strides along a narrow, suspended bridge, the red guide-lights beneath his feet reflected on his mask.

 

“Ben!” He heard a loud call from behind reverberate in the large empty space. It sent a cold shiver down his spine and made him stop.

 

Han.

 

No.

 

“Keep walking. Just keep walking.” He told his former self, told Kylo Ren, but Kylo didn’t listen.

 

“Han Solo….” The man he used to be said instead, turning to face his father.

 

“No.No.No,” Ben screamed. He knew where this would lead. He couldn’t take it, not again. The first time was horrible enough, each time he’d dreamt it since had been worse and worse.

 

“Take off that mask, you don’t need it.” He heard his father say.

 

“Dad, just leave, please go!” He yelled out, but it did no good, like every other time, he was trapped inside Kylo Ren, watching through Kylo’s eyes, unable to do anything to change the outcome.

 

“The face of my son.” He heard Han say.

 

“Please, please just go, leave me!” he willed Kylo’s lips to move, hot tears running down his face. When Kylo’s lips did move, they spelled out something different.

 

“Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish, like his father, so I destroyed him.”

 

A scream of frustration echoed in Ben’s head.

 

“The Supreme Leader is wise.” Kylo said and Ben screamed even louder, the scream now filled with rage and hopelessness. He wanted to punch Kylo in the face, he couldn’t believe he had ever uttered those words, he couldn’t believe he had meant them. He couldn’t believe he had been so stupid.

 

“Snoke is using you for your power, when he gets what he wants he’ll crush you.”

 

He felt Kylo’s foot step backwards as his father advanced on him, he felt him retreating back into the shadows.

 

The shadows had been good to him, ever since he turned to Snoke, they have kept him safe from his feelings, they have kept him from the light that called and called to him. He needed the shadows, he needed to numb his senses, numb the pain, numb the love , but it didn’t work, not this time.

 

“You know it’s true.”

 

He knew Han was right, even then, he felt it like a cold shard running through his veins, but he wasn’t ready to admit it.

 

He looked at his father through the eyes of a man, he had still been a boy the last time he had seen him. Han’s face was marked with deep wrinkles, his eyes weary but kind. He remembered his father growing up, remembered that ever-present twinkle in his eyes that only hinted at the fire raging behind them. It was gone now, or almost gone, he could still see a little flicker of something there.

 

His father had never been a man of many words, not when it came to his son, after all he had been born in a different time, in the harsh world of Corellia slums. He remembered seeing the fight in his father at times, the fight between being the father he wanted to be and the man he was. The man had won plenty of times, and Snoke had made sure to never let him forget, but so had the father, he loved it when the father won, at least for the short time before Snoke dirtied the memory.

 

Kylo felt tears stinging his eyes.

 

“It’s too late.”

 

“No, it’s not. Leave here with me, come home.”

 

Could he? Kylo thought. Could he turn his back on Snoke like he did on his family? He didn’t want to feel it or even think about it, but he had missed them, Han and Leia. Dad and mom .

 

He felt the little sparkle of light inside of him looking for a way out from the cage he’d put it in.

 

“There you go, just let it out.” Ben said in an almost hopeful voice.  

 

“We miss you.”

 

Oh, but how cruel the light was, how much Kylo craved to go back into the numbness of the darkness. The light had managed to crawl out through a hairline crack and went straight for his soul. It made him feel things he had worked hard to deny, it shone a spotlight on his biggest fears and wants, it warmed the cold recesses of his soul and shook him to the core. But the darkness wouldn’t let him go so easily. He felt the battle raging on inside him, the powerful darkness fighting the little, ambitious flicker of light. He felt powerless, just an unwilling spectator as the light and dark fought inside of him.

 

“I’m being torn apart.” Kylo said in a broken voice.

 

The light and dark still fighting inside him.

 

“I wanna be free of this pain.”  His eyes flooded with unshed tears.

 

The fight going on inside him growing in an dazzling crescendo.

 

“I know what i have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.”

 

Ben realized that after all, he was his father’s son, he felt the battle raging on inside him, between the two parts of him, between the monster he was, and the son he used to be.  

 

The light was moving inside of Kylo, casting away the shadows of everything he had ever tried to hide. The feel of his dad’s embrace, of his mother’s kisses on the top of his head, the moments they had spent together, filled with laughter and love. He felt the coldness inside of him ease, a ball of warmth growing somewhere deep inside. Ben was shedding the tears that Kylo’s eyes refused to let go of.

 

The son he used to be was winning, getting a little stronger with each flicker of light.

 

“Will you help me?”

 

He could do it, he could go back to his family.

 

He imagined Snoke’s voice howling, “You betrayed me ?”

 

He imagined his answer, “No, I betrayed them .”

 

“Yes, anything.” His father answered.

 

Kylo let go of his mask, the armor he put up over his former persona, and it hit the bridge with a clink.

 

He could do it, he could give in to the light that was growing inside him, he could go back to his family. He could do it. He could.

 

So he reached for his lightsaber and he offered it to his father with hands wide open. He could do it.

 

Then, the light of the sun died and Kylo felt himself getting colder, felt the darkness inside him eating away at the light, casting back into the shadows all of his happy memories, bringing forward all the bad ones.

 

His father leaving, always leaving, never coming. His mother’s fear of his powers, of him . Their combined uneasiness around him. Sending him off to Luke, the legendary Jedi, Luke - the one that came into his hut at night to kill him. Had his parents known?

 

His hands clenched around the lightsaber.

 

Had they decided to end him, together? What a fool he had been, thinking he could do it, thinking there was a way back for him. There wasn’t.

This was just Han’s ploy to disarm him.

He was cold again, as cold as he’d been for half a decade, the light was gone, the darkness swarming inside him as it always did, as it should.

 

He twisted the lightsaber and ignited it.  

 

Ben cried out again, helpless to do anything but watch, hot tears streaming down his face, overwhelmed with shame and guilt.

 

Kylo pushed the lightsaber deeper inside Han. He looked into his eyes, and felt the darkness rising further.

 

“Thank you.”

 

He felt Han’s caress on his cheek, then felt it fall from his face. He pushed Han off the bridge, into the depths of Starkiller.

 

He had done it, his final task, his final trial, he would be renewed in the darkness. He waited for it to happen, for the darkness to take him over, make him stronger.

 

It never came.

 

What came was regret and shame, so much shame. Why? He didn’t quite understand. It was his final trial, killing Han should have made him stronger, completed his training.

 

He had done it.  He had killed Han.

 

Han.

 

His father.

 

He had killed his father.

 

He felt weaker than before, weaker than he had ever remembered feeling.  Felt pain overtake him, and he let it happen, let it ripple through him, tearing him apart further.

 

Then, he felt Chewie’s blaster bolt hit him.

 

*

 

Ben sprung up to a sitting position, breath panting, cold sweat running from the nape of his neck down his back, the taste of salt on his lips.

 

“You’re okay, it’s okay.” He mouthed the same mantra that he had chanted most of his life when he felt overwhelmed. He knew he wasn’t okay, he knew it wasn’t okay.

 

He had killed his father and that would never leave him.

 

It shouldn’t leave him, he realized, he should feel the pain, he deserved the pain; the anguish the memory brought him, he deserved the nightmares, he deserved so much worse.

 

He looked down on the bed at what he felt he would never come to deserve. Rey was still asleep, puffing away, undisturbed.

 

A thin smile crossed his face.

 

Rey.

 

Snoke had wanted her too, had wanted him to kill her too, like he had killed his father, like he had been made to kill the Knights of Ren. Snoke couldn't have her. Not her, never her .

 

He laid back down on the bed and wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer.

 

She stirred and grunted, but didn’t wake.

 

He pressed his nose to the nape of her neck and inhaled, she smelled of clean skin and somehow, like a bright sunny day. He let her scent fill his nostrils, calming him a little.

 

His thoughts still swarmed with the nightmare, but the torment of it had dwindled enough for him to not feel overwhelmed by it.

 

He looked back to his childhood, where he had felt abandoned by his parents. He had blamed them for it, but now that the fog of Snoke’s manipulation had lifted over his memories he saw things differently. He saw two people that maybe shouldn’t have had a child together, two people that maybe should not have been together in the first place try their best to raise a Force sensitive child. They had done the best they could with what they got.

 

He realized now, that of it were not for Snoke, it would had been enough.

 

Ben inhaled sharply when the realization of what his father had done that day, on the bridge, dawned on him. After all the times that Han had left him, after time and time again of watching his father turn his back on him and head for the damn Falcon, Han had finally decided to stay, and not just stay, but to bring his son back with him, bring him back home . Two hot tears were running for the finish line that was Ben’s chin. And what had he done the one time his father refused to leave him? He made him pay for it with his life. The knot forming in his throat felt like the sharp edge of a broken shard.

 

As if she’d sensed his torment, Rey turned around in her sleep and draped a hand over his body, her nose nuzzled at his throat, a cheek pressed to his naked chest. The shard of glass in his throat was slowly losing its edges.

 

He wrapped a hand tighter around her and kissed the top of her head, “You’re too good to me,” he breathed there, knowing she wouldn’t register his words.

 

She groaned something unintelligible and pressed her face harder to his chest, never waking from her slumber. She slept so soundly in his arms, so unlike the way he knew she had slept all alone, in a fallen AT-AT.

He could picture her, in her torn hammock, jumping awake at every little sound, hand already clasped around her staff, always sleeping with one eye open and an ear on the lookout for any danger, like some sort of desert prey. His heart ached at that, like it ached at a lot of things from her past, but it also swelled knowing that now, she felt safe enough to drift into deep sleep in his arms.  

 

He closed his eyes, trying to will himself to sleep, but his thoughts still strayed to his childhood, so much of it was marked by the Force, by his inability to control his powers. He knew that wasn’t the right word for what the Force offered, but at that time, to his untrained self, it felt like he had powers he could not control. Powers that would manifest right when he didn’t wanted them to, in his most trying moments, when he felt the greatest sadness, the sharpest hurt, the reddest flare of anger.

 

His mother had been an expert in a lot of things, the Force was not one of them. Even though she had been Force sensitive too, her powers had laid dormant for a good part of her life, and even when they had awakened she had barely used them. He now realized that had been because of her father, Anakin. Vader. The Force was the only thing she and her father had in common, the only thing they shared, besides genetics. She wanted nothing to do with him, so she had never even tried to delve into the Force, had never tested what she could do. Ben thought that if she had, his mother would have been as strong as Luke, maybe even stronger, after all, she had been the strongest woman he’d known. His mother had done almost everything she had put her sharp mind to, the Force would have turned into her instrument had she wanted it, but she hadn’t.

 

The second strongest woman he’d known was still puffing away in his arms, her warm breath caressing his collarbone. He knew that Rey would grow to be even stronger, and he would get to watch that, watch her grow into the woman she was meant to be, be by her side through it all, his heart swelled at the thought.

 

He inhaled her scent again and it blurred his memories, with every breath his mind felt fuzzier and fuzzier, until finally, he drifted back to sleep.

 

***

 

Rose blinked herself awake, her mind still fuzzy, unable to recognize her surroundings for a moment. She felt the beginning of a headache squeeze the side of her head, however many hours she’d slept, it didn’t feel like enough. She looked over to her left and saw Finn laying next to her on the bed, in the small room they shared in the Naboo barrack. He was wide awake, hands on his chest, eyes lost somewhere on the ceiling.

 

“Couldn’t sleep?” She asked, and Finn startled back into focus.

 

“Yeah. No. I mean, I slept a little.”

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Finn!”

 

“Nothing.”

 

Rose sat up on her butt and looked at him.

 

“What?” He asked.

 

“I’m just waiting.”

 

“For?”

 

“For nothing .”

 

Finn huffed at that and stayed silent for a while, Rose did not take her eyes off of him as she waited.

 

“Last time I saw Rey and Kylo interact she tried to shoot him and he threw her against a tree,” Finn exhaled sharply through his nostrils. “Just hours ago they were in each other’s arms, kissing.”

 

There it was, what she thought it would be, worrying about Rey and the former Supreme Leader.

 

“How does one get from there to here?”

 

Rose found herself suppressing a sigh. She realized Finn needed to work things through in his head in order to be able to move past it. She wished she had answers for him, she didn’t. But maybe she had some educated guesses.

 

“Things changed?” she offered in an unsure voice.

 

“This much? How and when ?”

 

“Well, we know they were together on the Supremacy, but we don’t know for how long, she told us she went to him to try and turn him and left when she failed and somehow Snoke ended up dead at the hands of Ky-, Ben. I’m willing to bet that him killing Snoke had something to do with her.”

 

“Yeah...”

 

Rose continued her train of thought, “It would make no sense thinking he would turn to the light if their last interaction was the one you mentioned, and it doesn’t make sense how she feels about him now, since she left him on the Supremacy, so we obviously don’t have all the information. Something happened between Starkiller and Crait and between Ashkaran and now, something big.”

 

“How? She was with us almost all this time.”

 

Rose thought, picking at her short nails. “What’s the thing they have in common? They’re both Force sensitive. I don’t know how, but I think the Force is the answer.”

 

Finn frowned at her, he was unconvinced, but nothing else made sense. He stayed silent for a while and Rose thought that was the end of it.

 

“I still don’t understand why she…”

 

“Why she loves him?” Rose finished for him.

 

“I mean, I get why he does, she’s amazing, and kind, and strong, and so powerful.”

 

“Maybe that’s why?”

 

Finn frowned at her.

 

“Imagine how lonely it must feel, to have such a power, a power that you don’t understand but is with you every moment. How comforting to know that you’re not alone, that there’s someone else going through the same thing, that understands what it’s like.”

 

“But he’s... him .”

 

“That’s where the kindness comes in, she’s got such a big, forgiving heart.”

 

“But the things he’s done, we’re not talking about just being an asshole, he’s...”

 

“I know what he’s done, I’m not the one that needs convincing.”

 

“I know, I just can’t believe she left with him like that.”

 

“Her choice was leaving us or giving him up, you know he would have been arrested-”

 

“Rightfully so.”

 

“Yes, but I think maybe that doesn’t matter to her anymore.”

 

Finn thought for a moment. “Does this mean we lost her to the Dark Side?”

 

“No. I don’t know that much about the Force and its sides, but I wouldn’t call him Dark Side, he did save Edisa and a lot of other troopers today, and gave the Resistance all that intel that helped took out so much of the First Order.”

 

Rose placed a hand on Finn’s shoulder. “If we lost Rey, and I don’t think we did, we lost her to him , not to the Dark Side.”

 

“Poor consolation.”

 

Rose chuckled, then spoke in a warm but serious tone. “He loves her, he’ll be good to her, I know it, and maybe you know it too, and if by some chance he won’t be, she’ll come back with his pelt on a stick.”

 

Finn laughed at that, enjoying the visual.  “He’d make for an interesting rug.”

 

“A big one too,” Rose laughed in earnest.

 

***

 

Rey was awakened by the painful rumbling of her stomach, a sensation she was all too well accustomed to. She had the strangest dream, that she was part of the Resistance and that she fell in love with the enemy. She rubbed at her eyes, trying to adjust to the bright Jakku sun, she couldn’t remember if she had any food saved up, she hoped she did, otherwise she would go even hungrier as she scavenged for scraps she could turn into portions.

 

She blinked, waiting for the inside of the AT-AT to take shape, but it didn’t. What took shape was the Ashkaran underground cave where she and Ben had spent the night. Her heart jumped up in her chest, her foggy mind focusing again, it hadn’t all been a dream. She looked to the other side of her and saw all the proof she needed, Ben was still asleep next to her, his black hair draped over half his face, one ear poking out. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him for a long time, he seemed so at peace, puffing away in his sleep. She reached inside him with the Force, and sensed something like contentement, and it made her heart swell.

 

Her stomach rumbled loudly again, and it took her focus away from him, her mouth felt drier than the Jakku desert and there was an awful taste on her tongue, so she quietly and slowly got out of the makeshift bed.  

 

She tiptoed around the bed looking for her clothes, she found a long shirt and made her way towards the supply room, dressing as she walked.

 

She knew there was food there, not as much as before, for the Resistance had taken a good chunk with them when they left, but more than enough to last two people about a standard week.

 

She went inside the supply room and opened the cooling unit, grabbed a container of water, swallowed half of it in one gulp, came out for a breath, then drank the rest. The taste on her tongue dissipated, but the water now weighed as much as a bantha in her empty stomach.

 

She reached for the standard portions, but her hand stopped, hovering over them. Since her time with the Resistance and Luke, her palate had changed, she no longer cared for the bland, tasteless portions she had on Jakku, she had tasted real food: vegetables, eggs, meat, dairy, seafood, there was no turning back, not unless she absolutely had to. Her hand moved away from the portions, to the real food. She didn’t have to.

 

She grabbed a handful of blue shelled eggs, some leafy greens that were not too wilted and a big chunk of orange cheese. She had eaten all of these before, in something called an omelette, she could figure out how to cook one on her own. After all, how hard could it be?

 

 

Rey was about to set the omelette on the table when Ben wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, and kissed her neck, prompting a moan from her lips.

 

“Just in time, I made breakfast,” she said proudly, as she put the plates down on the large adobe table. Ben’s lips moved slowly further up her neck and she leaned her head to the side, giving him better access.

 

“I’m starving!” she declared, snapping out from the spell of his lips on her. She turned around and gave him a peck on the lips, “Let’s eat.”

 

He smiled and looked at her creation.  

 

“What is it?” he asked taking a seat at the table, in front of one of the plates.

 

“It’s called an omelette,” she answered proudly, taking the seat next to him, “Finn used to make it for all of us, it’s good. ”

 

“This looks….” he wanted to say nothing like an omelette, but stopped himself. He searched for the right word as he looked down on his plate. There were large chunks of partly melted orange cheese sticking out of the omelette. The omelette, that would have been better described as scrambled eggs, seemed to be at least four different colors, some of the poorly mixed egg whites and yolks had turned into several shades of green around the leafy greens, which had themselves turned a strange brownish color. However, much more alarming were the eggshells that were poking out like little, blueish glass shards here and there.

 

“It looks different than the one Finn made, I’m not sure why.” Rey said, poking at it with a fork. She tilted her head in an oh, well sort of way, then dug in.

 

“Did you by any chance, ever watch Finn make it?” Ben asked, moving his fork around his plate, debating if he could actually stand to swallow her concoction.

 

“No.” Rey answered with a full mouth, and Ben’s straight face dropped as soon as he heard the crunch of the eggshells coming from her mouth.

 

“Okay, I’m sorry. I can’t.” He said getting up from his spot, barely containing a laughter.

 

“Finn’s was better,” she said through chews, “less… crunchy, but it’s still good.”

 

He grabbed his plate, then snatched hers from under her nose. He didn’t quite manage to get it out of her hands before she took another big forkful.

 

“What are you doing?” she complained.

 

“Trust me, and give me ten minutes.” He said, making his way towards the storage room.

 

“Ben!” she whined after him, chewing on her last crunchy mouthful.

 

“I’ll cook, you watch.” He called after her from the other chamber.

 

Rey wiped at her mouth and got up with a sigh.

 

“Why did you do that, your fanciness?” She complained as soon as she entered the supply room, “It wasn’t even bad, I have eaten far worse things for most of my life.”

 

Ben looked at her with love and pity, “I know, but we’re gonna change that, starting now.”

 

He smiled and kissed the top of her head.

 

“Trust me.”

 

She side eyed him, unconvinced.

 

“I don’t imagine you’ve ever cooked anything, don’t think there’s much to cook on Jakku.”

 

“There isn’t, I haven’t,” Rey answered, sulking, her mouth pouting.

 

“You’re adorable when you pout.” Ben said with a smile, then focused on his task.

He had placed all the ingredients around the heating plate, an already hot pan laid on top of it. There were five blue shell eggs, a red pepper, a white onion and the orange cheese.

 

He cracked the eggs and threw away the shells.

 

An ahh escaped Rey’s mouth, and he stopped himself from smiling.

 

He beat the eggs together until they were a nice shade of yellow and sprinkled in seasoning. He peeled the onion, finely chopped half of it and put it in the hot pan. He then removed the top of the pepper, cleaned the veins and the seeds, and diced it.

 

“You are wasting food.”

 

“It’s only the bad parts, we don’t want them. We’ll save the other half of the onion for later.”

 

Rey frowned at that and continued watching him. He put the diced pepper in the hot pan over the onion and stirred.

 

“We only want to cook the peppers until they are just a little tender.” He explained.

 

“While that cooks we’ll take care of the cheese. If we want the cheese to melt, which we do, we need to grate it.”

 

Ben looked around for a moment, “Since there’s no grater, we’ll just have to finely chop it.”

 

Rey looked at his hands, his long fingers wrapped around a knife, moving in harmony with the curled fingers of his other hands that were holding on to the chunk of cheese.

 

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” Rey said with certainty.

 

“Cooked? Oh yeah,” He smiled at her, “I used to love cooking. Mom could mess up even a sandwich, and dad, well, he wasn’t a horrible cook, but he didn’t much care for it so he hardly ever cooked.” Ben chuckled, his mind replaying old memories. “He’d get a hankering for it almost every time mom offered to make us something.”

 

Rey smiled at that.

 

Ben removed the onions and peppers from the pan and placed them onto one of the plates, he added a splash of greenish oil to the pan, then added the eggs.

 

“We did have a kitchen droid, but he was a droid, he didn’t have taste buds, he just followed recipes from his code.”

 

He sprinkled in half of the vegetables and mixed them in with the eggs.

 

“So, when I was about five or six I began cooking for myself. I was horrible at first, I’m surprised I didn’t burn everything down. But with time I got much better.”

 

He put the rest of the vegetables on half of the omelette and sprinkled on top the cheese.

 

“Mom used to love my cooking.” He said proudly.

 

He folded the omelette over itself.

 

Ben looked over at her, realization dawning on him. “I’m-,” he started, “I’m sorry, here I am talking about saying no to food, when you never had that luxury.”

 

Rey blinked at him, “While, yes, it does bring me back to less than happy memories of the many, many, nights where I went to bed hungry, and woke up on an even emptier stomach, my childhood is not your fault, Ben.”

 

She smiled up at him and he gave her a tiny smile back.

 

“And I love hearing stories of baby Ben,” she chuckled, and he smiled back in ernest.

 

He turned his attention back to the dish, the eggs were set, the cheese had melted and breakfast was ready. He cut the omelette in two and placed a half on each of their plates.

 

“Now, this is an omelette,” he declared.

 

“I’ll be the judge of that.”

 

Ben smirked at her, then moved past her, plates in hand, into the large chamber where they had started their meal.

 

He put the plates down and waited for her to be seated before he joined.

 

“Dig in.”

 

Rey did just that. She fork-cut a chunk only slightly smaller than her mouth and shoved it in. She started chewing and found her eyes closing on their own accord. She had been annoyed enough with him, that she wanted his creation to be only about as tasty as hers, she had never been happier to be so wrong.  She could taste a sort of unfamiliar sweetness from the onion and the peppers, a little saltiness and heat from the spices and the cheese, all the flavours married in her mouth into the best thing she had ever eaten. There was no comparison between her crunchy excuse of an omelette and his fluffy concoction, and it was much better than Finn’s too.

 

She eyed Ben who was impatiently waiting for her approval, gave him a nod, and shoved in another mouthful.

 

“Good?”

 

“Aha” Rey hummed between chews, looking like a chipmunk with full cheeks.

 

“That makes me happy.” Ben said, digging into his half.

 

Four mouthfuls later and her half was gone.

 

Ben was about three quarters in on his and he couldn’t help but notice her eyes on him. He finished chewing and set his fork down.

 

“I’m stuffed,” he said, even though he wasn’t. “Do you want the rest of mine?”

 

Rey nodded and snatched his plate from under his nose.

 

He made a mental note to always give her the larger portion.

 

Two forkfuls later she finished his portion too.

 

She leaned a head on his shoulder and kissed his cheek where two of his birth marks stood so close together.

 

“That was the best food I’ve ever had.”

 

Ben smiled, “Oh honey, you haven’t seen, or tasted anything yet.”

 

“Mhh,” she moaned in anticipation, “when will you cook for me again?” she asked, rubbing herself on him like a satisfied cat.

 

“Whenever you want me to.”

 

“Tonight?”

 

“Tonight.”

 

She smiled and wrinkled her nose giddily at that, then placed a kiss on his lips.

Chapter Text

After breakfast they had found their way back to bed, hours later they were still in it, exhausted and overstimulated. Rey’s head was on Ben’s shoulder, her fingers skipping and hopping from birthmark to birthmark on his chest, his fingers twisting curls in her hair. On his right pec, starting next to his nipple and going down to the sternum, she noticed the pattern of a far, far away constellation she once read about. She looked up at this improbable man whom she had this impossible connection with, and because they were right there, and because she could, she kissed his lips. He kissed her back and a hand moved to wrap around the nape of her neck, another started traveling down her body and all of a sudden she no longer felt exhausted. Her body arched under him at the slow, lingering touches of his fingers on her neck, her breasts, her toned abdomen.  

 

His hand reached between her legs.

 

“Ouch,” she said, removing his hand from her most tender area, “Nope! You are now banned from there.” The exhaustion had been forgotten, but her body still felt over stimulated from last night and this morning.

 

He made a pouting face, then asked in a more serious voice, “You okay?”

 

“Yeah, just a little sore, I think I need a little break.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

She frowned and chuckled, “What for? I enjoyed every minute of it.”

 

“Now that we can’t do that,” he said, raising his eyebrows as he uttered the word that , “what do you wanna do?”

 

Rey thought for a moment, “What do you wanna do?” she asked.

 

“That depends, I don’t know what I want to ask the girl with no past, but if Rey of Jakku is back, I’d love to hear all about her.”

 

Rey smiled at him, she had wished for a day where they were just a boy and a girl with no past, but the past still crept in around the corners. There was no point in denying it like she had done, there was no point in worshiping it like he had done. The past, while it had made them who they were, was now just the past, it had no power left to exhort.

 

“Only if I get to hear all about Ben Solo,” she answered with a smile.

 

They talked about feeling abandoned and alone, about the hunger of the belly and of the soul, hunger for love, belonging, connection. About their lack of friends, then about Finn and Rose and Connix, even Poe, about Han and Leia, about his padawan friends turned knights of Ren, then turned to ashes by him at Snoke’s command.

 

“I didn’t want to do it.” He said, a flicker in his eyes. “They were my friends; maybe that’s why he pitted us against each other in matches to the death, there’s no friendship in the dark side, but they were my friends and I still... that night when Luke…” he trailed off, “I wouldn’t have made it out alive if it weren’t for them. By the time I crawled out from under the rocks all the padawans were there, lightsabers in hand.” He huffed,  “A few that always hated me yelled out that they knew this would happen, and they tried to kill me.” He swallowed and chewed on the inside of his cheeks, he didn’t want to tell her all the horrible details. “A fight broke out and me and a few others killed the rest of the padawans, we burned Luke’s temple down, then left for Snoke.”

 

They were laying in bed, on their sides, bodies facing each other, eyes locked on the other’s.

 

“That was the night I killed Ben Solo.”

 

“No, it wasn’t.” She said, looking him dead in the eyes.

 

She moved her hand to his chest. “There’s still some of him left inside you. You chipped at him, yes, you chiseled away trying to turn him into Kylo Ren, but there’s still some of him left, just as there’s some Kylo left in you. I think, maybe, you’ll always be both, and that’s okay.” She closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to his, then pulled back, a little smile on her face.

 

“I won’t stop loving you for the things you’ve done, you know.”

 

“Will you stop loving me for the things I might do?”

 

She thought for a second. “I don’t know if I’ll ever stop loving you, but I won’t stay by your side if… if you hurt me…”

 

“I would never!”

 

“… or my friends.”

 

He blinked and locked eyes with her, his voice serious.

 

“Hurting them is hurting you, and I would never hurt you. Never again!” He looked at her until he felt she understood that.

 

“I’m sorry for all the times I did hurt you.”

 

“I know you are.”

 

He inched closer to her, slowly, as if waiting for her to stop him. She didn’t, and he pressed his lips gently to hers. They were both smiling when they broke apart.

 

He moved back, and his smile turned cheeky, “So who are your friends, exactly, does the list include Dameron, and exactly what do you mean by hurt? My fist might connect with his mouth the next time he opens it.”

 

She play-slapped his shoulder, and he faked an affronted face.

 

“Okay, fine, with Poe just… don’t kill each other.”

 

“I’ll try my best.”

 

“Ben!”

 

He looked at her and pulled his bottom lip between his teeth. “Does it excite you?”

 

“What?”

 

“Holding the reins to Kylo Ren, former Supreme Leader?”

 

“Yeah, kinda.” She answered honestly.

 

He chuckled. “This little power struggle between us, it’s kinda hot.”

 

“Glad we’re in agreement, and if I weren’t out of commission, I’d even show you.” She winked.

 

“I’ll wait.”

 

Rey smiled, “Okay, enough trauma, now tell me your happy memories and I’ll tell you mine.”

 

They kept talking until their mouths ran dry, grabbed some water, shared a portion of dried, spiced meat and talked some more.

 

The sun was beginning its descent when Rey mentioned that she had never explored the island further than he had.

 

“Get dressed, we’re changing that.” Ben said and they dressed in a hurry and ran for their ship hand in hand.

 

“Who’s flying?” He asked as they approached the ship.

 

“You are, you still haven’t shown me what you’ve got.”

 

“This is hardly a maneuverable ship,” Ben complained.

 

“Good pilots make do with what they have.”

 

Ben groaned.

 

“Strap in.” He said as he sat in the pilot chair.

 

He took the ship up vertically, then accelerated until Rey felt her heart in her throat and her body become one with the co-pilot chair.

 

He turned the engines off and let the ship fall back down to the planet’s surface. He released both of their safety straps with the Force and they found themselves floating inside the small ship.

 

Rey’s eyes were wide, and the thin line her lips formed was slowly turning into a smile. “This is amazing!” she said, reaching out for him.

 

He took her hand in his and gave her a quick kiss, then strapped her back in.

 

He did the same for himself and turned the engines back on. “Hold on!”

 

The engines roared back to life and he punched the throttle, the ship sped back up towards the stratosphere and Rey felt herself become one with the chair again.

 

Ben twisted the handle to the side until the ship was doing aileron rolls.  

 

“I like spinning.” Ben said with a smile, doing roll after roll after roll. He looked over at Rey, who seemed to like it a lot less.  

 

He stopped.

 

“Okay, spinning is definitely one thing I deal with much better when I’m the one doing it,” Rey noted, her face a few shades paler.

 

Ben leveled the ship with the horizon. Although the planet was just barely larger than a moon, it offered a tall, ragged mountain range with snow covered peaks and dense forests that made their way up its slopes. There was so much green, it reminded her of Takodana, and like it, the myriad of green shades was cut by raging rivers of white and calm lakes of royal blue, sapphire, and even red. A teal ocean curled its way around most of the planet, kissing light pink sand beaches with each wave.

 

“There!” She said, pointing at a wide stretch of sandy beach. “Take it down there.”

 

As soon as the ship landed, she ran out of it, removing her shoes with a skip and a hop.

She dug her toes into the warm pink sand with a satisfied smile.

 

“I can’t believe it, but I’ve actually missed sand,” she said as he made his way towards her.

 

“There’s something about sand that’s just...” She picked up a handful and let it drop through her fingers, admiring its shimmer in the sunbeams.

 

“Coarse, irritating, gets everywhere?” Ben offered.

 

“Yes, all that, but also… magical.”

 

While Ben did not feel the same way about sand as she did, he did love experiencing things with her, seeing them through her eyes for the first time. It brought a smile to his lips and his heart.

 

Rey moved closer to the water, her toes dug into the wet sand and her eyes widened, because for the first time, sand felt foreign to her. She took a few more steps until she felt the waves caress her ankles, her toes digging deeper into the water saturated sand.

 

“I think this is my favorite spot,” she said looking up at him, “where sand and water meet.”

 

He looked at her for a while, as she played in the shallow water, enjoying the look of happiness on her face.

 

“Let’s teach you how to swim,” he finally said, lifting his chin up,  “I’ll even behave this time.”

 

“That’s only because you have to,” she grinned at him.


***

 

Edisa awoke in time to greet the rest of her team. She did a head count, all together, with the ones that had arrived earlier from Hux’s ship and her own small team, there were one hundred and eight former Stormtroopers. Their numbers used to be greater, she had lost many of her people along the way, most of them in the last few days, too many of them.

 

Edisa swallowed, the price for saving Finn and what was left of the Resistance had been high. But if she hadn’t paid it, none of her troopers would have been free now.

 

The price for freedom had been high, she corrected herself. She couldn’t help but feel guilty, she had promised them all freedom but had delivered death. She locked her jaw, swallowed the knot in her throat and silently thanked all that had given their lives. She hoped they would find freedom in the other life.

 

She had talked to their liaison about borrowing a few ships from the Naboo fleet but that hadn’t gone as great as she had hoped. The man had declined her request and had been adamant that they await for Poe Dameron’s arrival, emphasizing that the Resistance leader had requested that. She wanted to tell him to shove it up his ass, but managed to give him a thin smile instead.

 

She debated if it was worth the trouble of borrowing the ships without letting them know, but decided it wasn’t. She could not afford to make enemies, things would be difficult for them just because of who they were, former Stormtroopers, former brain washed First Order cannon fodder. They had to be on their best behavior.

 

Edisa checked something on a small holo-pad. She breathed a sigh of relief when she found that all was well with her accounts. She had spent six standard months just setting up the untraceable accounts then the last three years syphoning credits from the First Order into the accounts. When on one mission or another, she found herself in the premisses of valuables with no-one to claim them she had taken them and turned them into credits. All tallied up she had acquired a small fortune. Unfortunately, her small fortune divided by one hundred and eight would not go far, and she hoped to soon increase the number of troopers. Still, they would not start their lives with nothing, she would not take her people out from the thumb of the First Order just to dump them into a life or misery, hunger or worse, having to do what they had been programmed to all their lives just to survive. The only other person in the galaxy that knew of this and had access to the funds was Maro, her second in command, her most trusted friend.

 

Maro had been her first, not her first lover, that person was not important to her, but the first trooper she approached, the first one she truly sensed felt the same way about being a trooper as she did. He had been in her platoon, quiet but assured, and kind hearted, she had never seen any enjoyment in his body language when they were on missions, had never seen him do anything to show dominance over others, had never heard him boast after a mission, like many troopers did.

 

They were on a mission on a planet she couldn’t remember the name of, when she saw him cover two children huddled together with a thick piece of scrap metal, protecting them from the blaster bolts instead of exterminating them as he had been ordered.

 

She had acted like she hadn’t noticed, then called him to her command center after the mission. There was something twisting horribly inside her, and she could feel sweat dripping down her spine. If she had been  wrong about him, it would have been the end of her, but that didn’t happen. Although apprehensive at first, he eventually opened up to her and they had spent many, many hours talking about their shared experiences. There was sadness and tears and even laughter, and a bond that could only be removed by death had been formed.

 

“Did you get some?” Edisa asked Maro.

 

“After we woke up, yes.” He said in his usual deadpan voice.

 

“That’s my boy.” Edisa winked at him, a smile in her voice. He and Wes had been a couple for two years now.

 

Maro shook his head gently with a thin smile on his face.

 

“Take everyone to the cantina, I’ll wait here for Poe,” Edisa said, her voice back to business mode.

 

Maro nodded and followed her orders. She watched as he left. Like her, he was dressed in the black undergarments of the trooper armor. They would put on the clunky armor on the way.

 

Although there was no clock in sight in the immense hangar bay, she could hear one in her head, every tick and tock felt like a drop of water on her forehead, slowly burrowing it’s way into her brain like some sort of torture.

 

She pressed on her ear piece, “Poe?”, but nothing but static came back. Something had happened to the connection with Poe, she wasn’t sure what, the link to her team and Finn still worked. Kylo had Rose’s piece, but Edisa imagined he had gotten rid of it by now.

 

As she waited, her mind simmered with the urgency of her plan, with the frustration of having to wait for Poe, with Naboo’s unwillingness to help. By the time she saw a small First Order ship descending, her emotions were boiling over.

 

Poe.

 

Before the ship landed she found their liaison standing next to her, ready to greet the Resistance leader.

 

“Poe!” Edisa said with urgency as soon as he was out of the ship and within ear shot, “We need to talk.”

 

“Edisa!” Poe exclaimed with a smile, making his way towards the two.

 

“Commander Dameron,” the liaison interjected, walking with Poe as he made his way towards the hanger exit, “our council will be ready to speak with you shortly, in the meantime we have provided a room for you in one of our barracks, please feel free to use it.”

 

“Poe,” Edisa said again, following the two men, “we need to talk. Now!”

 

The liaison frowned at Edisa for the interruption and said, “I have provided updated intel on this holo pad, also, on it you can find the way to your chamber,” the liaison placed a palm sized holo pad in Poe’s hands.

 

“Thank you,” Poe said to the liaison, ignoring Edisa, “let me know when the council is ready for me.”

 

The man nodded and stopped.

 

“Walk with me, Edisa.” Poe said, quickening his pace, making his way out the huge hangar doors with long strides, moving his hands about him, his head up, like a returning conqueror.

 

Edisa groaned, there was anger stirring up inside her, but she followed.

 

“How’s everyone? Good?” Poe asked.

 

“Finn, Rose and most of the Resistance are still alive and well, yes.” Edisa answered walking in time with him.

 

They were walking down a long corridor that connected the hangar to the barracks.

 

“How’s your people?”

 

“I’ve lost quite a few today, but the rest are okay. Listen…”

 

“What about Rey?” Poe interrupted.

 

Her anger was turning into sheer rage.

 

“She left.”

 

“She left?” Poe frowned at her then looked down on his holo pad, he had reached his chamber.

 

“Where did she go?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

Poe entered his chamber and Edisa followed. The chamber was much bigger and more ornate than Edisa’s and her people, it looked almost like a suite. It had a rather ornate large desk and bed, accent furniture, even a few pieces of decor and an attached fresher. It was clearly made to cater to the taste of people in leadership roles and not for the common folks. Edisa realized she was the common folk to the Naboo, but she couldn’t care less.

 

Poe stopped in his tracks, and turned to her, something seemed to have clicked in his head. “Where’s Kylo Ren?” he asked with a frown.

 

“Wherever Rey is, I imagine.” Edisa said, anger in her voice, anger that was not directed at the couple, but at Poe.

 

“He’s alive?” Poe asked, with matching anger in his voice, “And you let him leave?”

 

“Apprehending him was not part of the plan.”

 

“Wasn’t part of the plan?” He asked almost mockingly, raising his voice, “Apprehending the homicidal maniac wasn’t part of the plan so you what, set him free?”

 

Edisa felt something snap inside her.

 

She put a hand on Poe’s chest and shoved him towards the nearest wall, “Listen, you power drunk asshole, I am the one that saved your life and the lives of the Resistance, you owe me! You do not get to have me follow you around like some sort of damn pet and treat me like I’m a child, or your subordinate!”

 

She shoved him again, his back now pressed to the stone wall, “Do. You. Understand?”

 

Poe’s nose was crinkled, his nostrils flared, eyes wide and there was anger in them, but also a flicker of something else.

 

She moved closer to him, until she was just inches away, until she could feel his hot breath on her face.

 

“I saved you, you owe me. I need ships so I can save more troopers before it’s too late, before they’re all dead. You promised you’d help, so fucking help!”

 

The tension between them was so thick you could cut it with a plasma torch.

 

Poe looked at her, his brow furrowed, nostrils still flared “There are two First Order heavy cruisers orbiting Naboo,” he almost barked, then added a little softer, “you can have them.” He closed the distance between them, going for her lips.

 

With an angry frown, Edisa put a hand on his chest, stopping him. She eyed him, annoyed and even more angry, the nerve of this man. She pushed him back to the wall, hard, and heard the breath escape his lungs, his lips parting in the process.

 

She pressed her body to his and kissed him, it was fast, and rough, teeth scraping on teeth, pulling at lips, biting down on them, tongues chasing each other in a frenzy.

 

She broke the kiss and pulled away, Poe tried pulling her back to him but she put a hand over his face and pressed on her earpiece with the other.

 

“Maro, get everyone to the hangars. I’ll be there in 5 minutes.” She caught Poe’s eye through the spread fingers of her right hand, there was wildfire burning in his eyes “make that 10 minutes.” She turned the earpiece off and let her hand fall from Poe’s face.

 

He grabbed her by the waist, turned her around and slammed her to the wall, back first. His lips were on hers in an instant, and she opened her mouth for him.

 

They didn’t bother making it to the bed, or even undressing completely. Poe’s hands moved under her black shirt, cupping at her breasts, twisting at her hard nipples. Her hands were busy unfastening his belt, pulling his pants down with urgency. She pulled hers down and out, then grabbed his thick cock and placed it at her wet entrance. He slammed himself into her. She bit down on his neck, hard, hard enough to break the skin and draw blood, to mark him. He groaned and fucked into her harder.

 

She kissed him, letting him taste his own blood on her lips and it she felt his cock twitch inside her.

 

She wrapped her legs around his waist and Poe’s mouth moved to her breast, sucking on her nipples until she moaned and shivered in his arms, her head thrown back against the wall.

 

He took his thumb and pressed it to her lips, she opened her mouth and sucked and licked at it, getting it wet. He pressed it to her clit and rubbed it up and down and around while still pumping inside her. Her legs soon began to shake around his waist, her folds contracting around him as she came. He pumped into her a few more times, then expelled his release inside her.

 

He breathed sharply and deeply in the crook of her neck.

 

“What are we gonna do with the other 6 minutes?” Edisa asked, a smile in her voice and Poe chuckled.

 

He lowered her back on solid ground, their bodies coming apart, then went to the fresher and came back with a small, damp towel. He cleaned his release off of Edisa’s skin.  

 

“Do you need a pill from the med bay or something?” He asked.

 

Edisa looked down at her arm and traced the small round implant below her defined bicep, “Standard issue, I’m good.”

 

“You need to stop manhandling me.” He said.

 

“You need to stop giving me reasons to manhandle you.”

 

He kissed her, and she kissed him back, and this time it was long and deep and caring.

 

“He and Rey saved me and fourteen others, I would not have stopped him from leaving even if you had asked me to.” Edisa said.

 

Poe set his jaw, “What happened?”

 

Edisa told him, and he listened, but didn’t say anything.

 

“What are you gonna do with the ships?” He asked.

 

She told him as she pulled her shirt down and put her pants back on.

 

“I have to go now.”

 

“I know.”

 

Edisa made her way to the door.

 

“Don’t die,” he called after her.

 

“Wasn’t planning on it.”


***

 

 

“We’re almost there,” Edisa’s voice came over the ship’s coms, “we’ll be jumping out of hyperspace shortly. Get ready!”

 

Finn and Rose were on a First Order ship on their way to the Trooper Academy. Their other ship, and about a third of the troopers, led by Maro was on its way to a reconditioning center.  Edisa had split them up in hopes of regaining some lost time.

 

Rose squeezed his hand, and Finn wished for the fiftieth time that she wasn’t here with him. He wanted her as far away from here as possible, wanted her safe and sound back on Naboo, but sitting around and waiting wasn’t who Rose was, and while he usually loved that about her, right now he hated it.

 

He squeezed her hand back, “Gods if something were to happen to her…”

 

Just the thought made his heart ache, made a knot form in his throat. He wished she had listened to him and stayed behind, but no such luck.

 

“Where you go, I go.” She had said to him.

 

He had argued that it was not safe.

 

“That’s why I’m coming, someone has to keep an eye on you, save your ass.”

 

“I’ll be a lot more focused if I don’t have to worry about you” he ventured.

 

“I can take care of myself!”

 

“I know, but I-”

 

“I’m coming, babe, no matter what you say.” She had said and that had been the end of it.

 

Gods,why did he let this happen, why did he let himself love someone so much that losing her would destroy him? He rolled his thumb over her hand. For a second he had even considered locking her up on Naboo until he and the ships left, forcing safety upon her, but the thought had left as soon as it came. He couldn’t do that to her, wouldn’t treat her like that, she was his partner not a child, and he knew that even if he did it, she’d probably follow him anyway just to kick his ass, then dump him for the indignity.

 

He squeezed her hand again, tighter. She would be okay, she had to, he’d make sure of it.


***


Rey looked down at the copper bracelet around her wrist, the few remains of the meal Ben had cooked laid on the table in front of her. He had taught her how to swim and he had even behaved himself. Her love for water had been cemented and swimming, once she knew what she was doing, became one of her favorite things, it felt almost like flying and floating at the same time and she swam and swam, with Ben never too far, until her skin became wrinkled and started feeling strange. Too much water, she never thought she’d have that problem.

They had left the beach before the sun set, chased away by hunger and thirst.

 

Once back, he had cooked the meal they had just finished, she wasn’t sure what it was called, he had mentioned it but it had skipped her preoccupied mind. What she did know was that it tasted even better than breakfast.

 

She rubbed her thumb over the bracelet, the one she had found what seemed like a lifetime ago in the first temple she opened. It was time to open the last temple. She wanted to run for it and find all its secrets, while at the same time wanted to grow roots and never move from the place where she stood. She hoped they wouldn’t be able to open the temple, but she also knew that she would bloody her fingers trying to open it with her bare hands.

 

She looked over at Ben with a worried look on her face. Time was up.

 

“Rey, you’re acting like we’re heading to our deaths.”

 

“I'm just worried.”

 

“Why? Did it not show you how to save yourself, how to save me?”

 

Rey nodded, but his words didn’t make her feel any better.

 

“We’ll do this together .” He leaned over and kissed her gently on the lips.

 

That made her feel a little bit better.

 

“Ready?” He asked, extending a hand.

 

She looked at his hand and exhaled, then looked up into his eyes. “Together?” She asked.

 

“Always.”

 

She took a hold of his hand.

Chapter Text

 

The sun was shining its last rays on the temple as Rey and Ben were standing next to each other in front of it. Rey looked over at Ben, who seemed a lot less apprehensive than she did.

 

“You try it.” She asked of him, lifting a chin up towards the debris.

 

He lifted his hand up and focused. The rocks did not move. He tried again, his brow furrowed in concentration, his teeth grinding. Nothing.

 

He looked at her and shook his head.

 

Rey nodded, then grabbed his hand, intertwining her fingers with his, lifting her other hand up. Ben did the same.

 

She focused on lifting the rocks, knowing that he was doing the same, and unlike when they had tried by themselves, the rocks moved as if they weighed nothing.

 

She huffed. Together seemed to be the answer to a lot of things.

 

They moved the rocks out of the way with a lot less ceremony than she had before, and once the last rock was settled down on firm ground they walked, still hand in hand, towards the cleared entrance.

 

Just like in her vision, the entrance was partly blocked by a marble wall. The closer she got, the better she could see the indentations in the marble, in her vision they had been golden, but now they were almost black, darkened by time. The marble that had once been white was now a dirty brown, chipped and cracked.

 

Ben pulled her through the opening to the right.

 

There was barely any light inside the temple, just the last rays of the day making their way through one side of the opening and a few beams casting down from cracks in the walls and ceiling. The temple was barren, just an empty chamber, there was no altar, no ancient artifacts, nothing. She wondered if it had always been this barren, or if a long time ago it was adorned with long lost artifacts and relics.

 

After their eyes adjusted, they could make out ornate carvings on the stone walls in geometric patterns intertwined with the same old language that CPO had translated. The combination made the written language seem so much more beautiful and ornate.

 

She pulled on his hand, moving to take a better look at the carvings. She almost jumped out of her skin, as all of a sudden golden light came alive in four suspended urns placed at each corner of the room. She had not noticed them in the dim light.

 

Ben held her hand tighter.

 

“Did you…?” Rey asked.

 

“No.”

 

In the corner of her eye, through the wall on her left, she saw the figure of a woman walking towards them with small steps.

 

Rey twisted her body to face her, pulling Ben with her in the process. She felt her heart pound in her chest and an uncontrollable urge to gulp.

Ben took a half step to his side, putting his body between the woman and Rey, his free hand going for where he had always kept his lightsaber, but coming up empty. For a second he had forgotten that he no longer had his saber, or the holster. He quietly cursed himself for not bringing the saber Rey had given him, but they were alone on an abandoned planet, inside a temple that hadn’t been opened for many, many years. He hadn’t thought he needed it.

 

Rey stood there blinking in shock a few times, when she recovered she moved to stand by Ben’s side, her heart slowing down in her chest.

 

“I have been expecting you,” the woman said and it had the same voice Rey heard in the darkness, the same voice that had shown her the visions of her parents, of the futures she changed, and the one that might still be.

 

Rey looked at the woman who was just a hand width shorter than herself. She was wearing a beautiful flowing blue dress, on her shoulders lay a cape in a darker shade of blue that seemed to have real twinkling stars beaded on it. Her hair was long and curly, and peppered with small white flowers and ribbons. She was the most beautiful woman Rey had ever seen.

 

“Padme?” Ben asked, his eyes wide.

 

Rey turned to him. “You know her?”

 

“No.” he answered, “This can’t be, she’s been dead for fifty years.”

 

In his obsession with Vader, Ben had dug through archive after archive, looking for everything he could find on his infamous grandfather. In the process he had found out about her, his grandmother. He had seen and heard some of her speeches as the leader of Naboo, then as senator. He had read all the holo articles about her he could find in hopes of getting an intimate look at her and Anakin’s life. One of those articles came back to him, the one about her death, he vividly remembered the holo picture in it, for now, she looked exactly as she had then. A cold shiver went down his spine.

 

“Padme was my grandmother, Leia’s mother, Anakin’s wife. Anakin who became Darth Vader.” He explained for Rey’s sake.

 

Rey’s eyes widened further, her brows rose up her forehead. She didn’t know what to say.

 

“I’m not her.” The woman offered. “I needed to have a shape, and I have chosen this one. Beautiful, strong, sad, Padme.”

 

“Are you the Force?” Rey found herself asking.

 

“No,” the being that was not Padme frowned and seemed to think for a second, “and also, yes. I am the Force as you are the Force, as everything around you is,” she smiled, “well, maybe I am more than that.”

 

“This makes no sense!”

 

“Most things do not, and unlike you, I do not concern myself with what it is that I am. I know you must have many questions and I shall try to answer them, but I cannot give you an answer that you would understand. If your mortal soul requires an answer, then, consider me the will of the Force.

 

“The will of the Force,” Ben thought. What did that mean?

 

“This still doesn’t make any sense!” Ben objected.

 

“What do you want from us?” Rey asked on the tail end of Ben’s objection.

 

The woman looked from one to the other, narrowing her eyes on them but saying nothing.

 

Her eyes reminded Rey of Ben’s when he reached inside her mind, trying to get the map to Luke’s location. She wondered if the woman was doing the same now. Would she feel the invasion of her mind, or was this thing in the shape of a long dead relative so powerful that she could walk though even the walls of her mind without her noticing? She decided the latter was the probable answer.

 

The woman smiled again. “I have taken the liberty to play this conversation to its end. It did not fare as well as I had hoped. It was messy and made for poor understanding, therefore we shall do this a different way. I talk, you do not until I am finished, then you can ask your questions.”

 

Rey looked at Ben and he at her, then at the woman. They opened their mouths at the same time.

 

“You should not be surprised I can do that, after all, I have shown you the past, the present and several possible futures.” The woman said and Rey’s mouth closed because she had answered her unasked question.

 

The woman turned to Ben, and shook her head. “You are your father’s son. I will choose to ignore that insult, child.” She said, her eyes dark.

 

The being in the shape of Padme curled her fingers and the world around them changed, like dirt and decay was being wiped away from the temple by an invisible sponge until it became shiny and new again.

 

“Many, many generations ago, when people first began to access the Force, they understood its nature better than they do now. They understood that the Force was, is, and always will be both light and dark and they embraced both sides. They knew that true balance comes from within, accepting the light and dark in oneself and living in the Grey . Accepting the good and the bad in you, the serenity and passion, acknowledging your feelings, but not letting yourself be ruled by them.”

 

There were ghost figures moving inside the temple now, kneeling down and lifting their hands up in prayer. An echo of a time long forgotten.

 

“The Faith of the Force arose to teach the wielders of the future the ways of the Force and there was true balance for a long, long time. But you are such a strange kind, you corrupt everything, you twist it and mold it until it is what you want it to be, not what it truly is.”

 

The ghost figures were now arguing inside the temple, pointing at ancient papers in their hands, muted shouts on their lips.

 

“People forgot the ways of the Force, slowly but surely, they strayed from its true nature. They looked at the world around them and divided everything into little boxes of light or dark, good or evil.”

 

There were more ghost figures in the temple now, they were moving through Rey and Ben, who were standing as close to each other as they could, even moving through the being that looked like Padme. Soon the figures huddled together into two groups, the groups arguing with each other even more violently than before.

 

“In time, two factions arose inside the Faith, the Jedi that believed the way of the Force was through the suppression of emotion, of self, and the Sith who believed the way of the Force was through passion, being ruled by emotions.”

 

“You are all such complex creations and yet you try so hard to fit yourselves into these narrow boxes, good-light-Jedi, evil-dark-Sith. Why do you do that?” She asked but did not wait for an answer.

 

“If what I am saying is true, then why does the light rise to meet the darkness, you ask?” The being said, reading their thoughts.

 

The ghosts disappeared from the temple, and it stood empty, abandoned.

 

“After the Great Schism, when the Faith of the Force split into the Jedi and the Sith, the balance was lost, people turned themselves either light or dark, so few were Grey . The Jedi and the Sith both grew, one in the light, the other in the darkness. They ignored the calls of the other side and called it heresy, when it was the Force trying to bring them back into the Grey . You see, you are not either white or black, you are all just… different shades of Grey .”

 

The temple started to decay under their eyes, like they were moving back to the present time.

 

“And so the Force had to adapt, to keep some sort of equilibrium, it has done that by meeting darkness with light, and light with darkness. When there was too much darkness, when the Sith outgrew the Jedi, light would awaken and the Jedi would rise again. When there was too much light, when the numbers of the Jedi overwhelmed that of the Sith, darkness would rise.”

 

Padme’s eyes seemed lost in thought, as if she replayed in her mind all the many years since the Schism. “Why do you either let yourselves be consumed by feelings or completely deny them, do you not see that neither are the right path? Strength and weakness can live in the same person, as can passion and serenity. You have been blessed with a plethora of emotions, they are neither good nor bad, they just are, and they are what makes you, you. ” She said, her eyes moving to the couple, as if they could give her an answer for all of the Galaxy.

 

“I believe the Schism was the last time the Force was truly at balance, the Sith and the Jedi always fighting, killing each other off, the pendulum always swinging from dark to light, never at balance. That is when I decided to intervene. Anakin. ” she said, like a mother speaking of a beloved child.

“I made Anakin so strong and Grey, so attuned to the Force, he had the passion of a Sith, the kindness of a Jedi, the perfect balance between them. He had been the chosen one. Obi-Wan never quite succeeded in washing his grey into white, but alas, he was swayed to the dark by Palpatine and his own furies. He failed in bringing true balance, but he did bring a shaky equilibrium by taking down the Jedi to the numbers of the Sith.”

 

She looked at them, her eyes dark. “The Force cares only for one thing, balance, and it will achieve it however it can. I had hoped for a different way but …” She trailed off.

 

“Maybe it was I who failed Anakin, for not showing him the right path, I was sure he would find it on his own, he had walked it for so much of his life and yet, I had been wrong.”

 

Ben’s head was swirling with a thousand questions. This went against everything he had ever been taught by Luke, by Snoke, it made no sense, and yet….

 

He remembered how he had never felt quite at peace in the light he was born into, nor in the darkness he had lived since he became Kylo Ren. He had felt some resemblance of peace in the past few days, while he had been both, had been Grey . He had thought that Rey’s light was balancing out his darkness, but maybe he had been wrong.

 

“I will slowly but surely muddy your black into a thousands shades of grey,” the little flicker of light inside him had said. Maybe, after all, with a little help from Rey, he had turned himself Grey and in the process, found true balance.

 

But Rey, she was not Grey , she was light. Wasn’t she? He opened his mouth to ask, then closed it. Instead he squeezed Rey’s hand and planted the question in her head.

 

Rey’s head was playing and replaying the beings’ words, “ You are all just different shades of Grey, ” when Ben asked his question.

She looked up at him and thought about how Luke said she went straight for the dark side, how on Jakku her anger had ruled her at times, before she reined it back inside her. She remembered how she had wanted to kill Ben on Starkiller, how she might had if the earth hadn’t opened up between them. How much she had enjoyed killing Hux, how she had slashed into him in her vision until there was nothing left of him, how she had savored the sight of Hux being impaled by her lightstaff. How she no longer had any quarrels about leaving the Galaxy to fend for itself if only she and Ben could have a chance at a happy ending together.

All that should have worried her, it would have, not too long ago, but no longer.  She smiled. “I am, because of you and the things I’ve seen, and because there had always been a sliver of darkness in me.” She answered him in his head.

 

Ben nodded and squeezed her hand again.

 

“After Anakin’s death I had given up hope, maybe you have all strayed too far from the true balance, maybe it was too late to bring it back, and so I stopped trying. Then, one night not too long ago, something wondrous happened, and it gave me hope that maybe there was someone out there that could return the Force to it’s true balance. It was you.” She said looking at both of them, “Getting you from there to here has been quite the task, but also quite the adventure. Hasn’t it?”

 

Rey’s face dropped.

 

“So you played us like some damned Dejarik pieces on a holo-table, tricked us into…, into everything ?” Rey yelled, before the being got a chance to say anything.  

 

Ben understood what Rey meant and he felt something stab at his heart. “Is what we have real, or have you been manipulating us this entire time?” All of a sudden he felt sick, he both needed to know the truth and wanted none of it. What if it wasn’t real? He gulped.

 

“That’s why you connected us, isn’t it, to eventually find ourselves here, willing to do your bidding?” Rey screamed at the woman in a cracked voice, taking half a step towards her, her hand slipping out of Ben’s.

 

Ben’s stomach dropped. The seed of doubt once planted had grown and it was now twisting its vines around his heart, squeezing it painfully. He shook his head. No!

What they had was real, it had to be.

 

“Tell us!” He demanded, voice loud, but his chin shaking.

 

The being in the shape of Padme just sighed, almost like a tired parent in the face of unruly children.

 

“Yes,” the woman started and Ben’s knees buckled, they hit the rock floor painfully, but he didn’t care.

 

His entire life had been controlled by someone, his parents, Luke, Snoke and finally the Force. He had thought he had found something that was all his, and hers. Theirs. He had been wrong. He looked up at Rey, a pained expression on his face. He caught her eyes as she turned to look back at him, the sound of his knees hitting the floor having reached her ears, and manipulation or not, he still loved her more than anything in the Galaxy.

Would she feel the same way though?

 

Rey’s first instinct was to scream at, and even hit the thing in front of her, how dare it play with her like she was just a puppet, play with them. Had it all been a trick of the Force, did they really love each other?

 

She admonished herself. Yes, yes they did!

 

But would have they, if it were not for the trickery? She heard something behind her and turned. Ben was on his knees, his eyes looking up at her, pleading as they did on the Supremacy, when he had asked her to join him.

 

There were tears in her eyes as she kneeled beside him and held him in her arms.

 

The being flickered into a seating position on the ground, not far from them, “I did tell you to let me finish before asking questions.” She said with a sigh. “I may have started this in the wrong order, but let me finish. Yes, the things I have done were to eventually guide you here, but they were also to protect you, to help you help each other. I have shown you the visions to free you from your past, and warn you about the future,” she said looking at Rey, “I have whispered in your ear to put just one switch on her light-staff to help Rey save you,” she said to Ben. “I have guided the Resistance pilot to this planet so that you can find the temples and the bracelet, I have helped a stubborn stormtrooper keep ahold of her memories for both of you, I have split the earth between the two of you on Starkiller so you wouldn’t kill each other, had your father’s ship end up on Jakku, so you’ll find each other, had Anakin’s lightsaber find its way to Takodana…” She trailed off, “If Anakin knew about how much importance you have placed on that lightsaber…” She shook her head and chuckled. “He did not care for his lightsabers at all .”

 

“Get up,” She asked of them, her voice soft and kind, “and I shall tell you of the wondrous thing that made me look towards you two.”

 

The being flickered out of her sitting position and into a standing, the couple stood up, facing her.

Rey wiped the tears out of her eyes.

 

Padme’s feet started moving, the cape trailing behind her. When she spoke she spoke softly, like a teacher, trying to guide a pupil to the right conclusion.

 

“Why have I connected you, you asked? Rey, do you remember the first time you saw each other through the Force?”

 

“Yes. I was on Ahch-To and he appeared-” Rey said, her voice low.

 

“No.” She corrected her gently, “The first time, first memory you have of him. Think!”

 

Rey looked back on her memories and combed them in search of him.

 

“The night my parents sold me.” She said a few moments later.

 

“Yes. So small, so broken and yet so powerful. In your loneliness and desperation, you called out to your parents, to someone, anyone . Across the Galaxy someone did hear your call, a boy that felt just as lonely and as desperate as you did. That night, the two of you managed to do something so rare and so powerful that I took notice. You didn’t just use the Force, you bent it to your will. That was when your bond had first been made, that was the wondrous thing that made me take notice. If the two of you could do that, I knew you could do anything .”

 

“No, that can’t be,” Rey objected, “I was just a child, I had no powers then.”

 

Something inside me had always been there. ” The woman said, “I believe those were your exact words. You’ve always had it, Rey, it is born with you, it’s in you from the moment of conception. You just had no control over it, and you hid it away, afraid of what you could do, not unlike how you hid away what your parents had done.”

 

Ben’s heart still ached and he felt a headache coming on from trying to wrap his head around this, he knew Rey had to be feeling something similar. “That can’t be true.”

 

He remembered that day, he had been sixteen at the time, and remembered feeling abandoned, alone and desperate. So much more than usual, so much so that it had overwhelmed all his senses, it pressed on him with the weight of a bantha herd, suffocating him. He realized that the feelings were not his own, not that time, then he felt a pull, like something or someone was pulling at his heartstrings. He let go, not knowing where it would lead him. His room turned into the inside of a rusty ship he could not recognize the make of. He knew now that it was not her AT-AT, not the home she had made for herself, but barely an empty shell that offered some protection from the elements. There was orange sand all around, and on an old, frayed mat, not much bigger than her, laid a little girl with half matted brown hair and a red face. She was crying her heart out in such a way that he had never seen or heard before, except, maybe… in himself when he had been a child.

 

Her mouth was open, as in a long, muted scream and he wondered if she had screamed and cried her voice away. She was curled up on her self, holding her hands tight to her chest, knees almost to her chin, her body shaking as ragged breath left her tiny lungs. He couldn’t bare seeing the little girl like that, because she was so small, and so hurt, and in need of comfort, and maybe, because he saw himself in her, so he kneeled down in the sand, in front of her.

He caressed her small head and rubbed a hand over her back, offering the few words of comfort he could.

 

She never said anything, but in time her body stopped shaking, her tears dried out and eventually, she fell asleep, exhausted. He had awoken in his bed the next morning and had thought it all a strange dream, a dream he had half forgotten until just a handful of days ago.

 

Maybe she had called to him that night, he thought, but their connection still didn’t make any sense. Was this thing toying with them, telling them what she now knew they wanted to hear?

 

He had seen Rey when he had been nine, Rey wasn’t even born then, at best she was still inside her mother's belly. But still, he had seen her, and she had been as old as she was now. Also, he had saved her from the bullies when she was still a child and he was twenty-nine all the while the Rey from now had been sitting next to him and….

 

Goddammit , nothing made sense, and he could feel his headache worsening.

 

His mouth opened to speak, but no words came out, he wasn’t sure how to even formulate what he was thinking, how what the being said about their connection made no sense, then a piece of the puzzle seemed to be tentatively fitting inside the big picture.

 

Every encounter they had had been linear, their ages matched with the ten year difference between them, if  he took out the two when their dreams connected, the two that happened both so recent and yet so long ago.

 

His head was still spinning but he held on to the hope the thought brought, he blurred out, “The bracelet!” as if it explained everything.

 

Rey frowned at him, not understanding how he jumped from the night her parents sold her off, and the being saying they had made their connection themselves, to the artifact on her wrist.

 

Ben didn’t know how to explain it, but he tried.

 

“The only times that our connection doesn’t make sense is when you had the bracelet on.”

 

Rey’s frown deepened.

 

“If you look at all the times we have been there for each other, we had connected in the present, the present back then I mean.”

 

Fuck, this made no sense. He tried again.

 

“I was sixteen and you were six the day your parents left, there’s ten years between us, every other time we saw each other through the years, there was always that age difference between us, except the two times you had your bracelet on, when we were dreaming, that’s when the timeline gets mixed. We did all the other connections on our own, except those two times, when the bracelet did it for us.”

 

Ben looked to the thing that looked like Padme, “I’m right, aren’t I?” His eyes moved to Rey’s wrist, and landed on the bracelet , “What is this thing?”

 

The woman smiled at him, then moved towards Rey.

 

“You are.” She said taking Rey’s hand in hers and removing the bracelet from her wrist.

 

Rey felt her entire body shaken to the core, break and be rebuilt again, like she had touched the inside of a burning star, a supernova, a Quasar. There was so much power underneath the body of that woman. It scared her. She moved her hand to Ben’s as soon as the woman let go of her, her hand felt numb and foreign and she needed the feel of his skin on hers, to take away that feeling with whatever smoothing power he seemed to possess over her body.

 

He held her hand in his, and rubbed a thumb over it, and slowly, she felt her hand become hers again.

 

“It’s almost as old as the Force and I, and very powerful, and I doubt you will understand what it truly is, but consider it a tool to bridge you closer together.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because you had forgotten what you were to each other, and to help you meet in the middle, in the Grey .” she said, her voice soft. She looked both of them over, then continued, her voice harsher. “Did I push you to comfort a broken child the night the bracelet connected you, was it I that made you hold him in your arms and whisper words of comfort to him?” She asked of Rey.

 

“Did I push you to rescue a little girl, would you have just watched her get hurt if it not for I?” she asked of Ben.

 

Neither said a thing.

 

“I did neither of those things, do not give credit where none is due. I did not twist your feelings, and you have had your free will all this time. I have just built a bridge between you, you were the ones that ran for each other and made a home in the middle, you were the ones that called to one another through space and made me take notice in the first place.”

 

They both felt like they had just received a scolding, and they could not have been happier for it. What they had was real, and theirs.

 

“What do you want from us?” Ben asked, even though he already knew.

 

“I want what the Force always wants, balance. You are to raise the Faith of the Force back from it’s ashes and teach the Force wielders of now and tomorrow the true ways of the Force, only then can there be balance and peace .”

 

“You want us to have a Force Order and spend our lives teaching… padawans?” he said, lacking a better word. He continued, incredulously, “You want me to do that? You think anyone is ever going to leave their children in my care? You know who I am, you know what I’ve done to the padawans in Luke’s temple.”

 

Padme’s eyes narrowed on him. “Do you fear you’ll murder children?”

 

“No!” He answered in an instant,  “I’m not going to murder children, but I’m not the most stable person in the Galaxy either, and again, no one is going to ever let children anywhere near the Jedi-killer-turned-Supreme-Leader.”

 

“They won’t all be children and yes, it will not be easy, it will be the hardest thing both of you will ever do, but that is the price.”

 

“We don’t know enough to teach and even if we did, we can’t!” Rey said, “He’s a fugitive, we can’t teach on the run, and if we stay he will be caught and…” Rey looked at him, she added softly “and killed, or have his life spent in a jail cell.”

 

“I will teach you all that there is to know, of course,” The being said, “and as for the rest, maybe it is time to pay for your crimes, Ben Solo. Do not worry, they will not kill you.”

 

Rey gulped. “How do you know that?” She asked, even if she already knew the answer, she needed the confirmation.

 

The being just smiled at her, but it was a thin, almost pained smile.  

 

“Just for the sake of the conversation, let’s say I turn myself in and they don’t kill me, who will be crazy enough to allow me to have the most powerful people in the Galaxy at my disposal, the former First Order Supreme Leader’s disposal? Nobody, that’s who.”

 

“You are correct, it is a hurdle.” The being said.

 

Rey looked at her, then at Ben, and back at her. “It’s a hurdle? That’s it, that’s all you’re giving us? What if we say no?”

 

“I have never made you do anything, If you say no, then you say no.” she said and Rey felt a breath of relief move through her lips.

 

“And all I have done will be for nothing,” the being continued, “and everything will stay as it is, the Force will continue doing its best to stay in balance. Light will rise and the dark will seek it out to destroy it. Darkness will grow inside another Palpatine, or Snoke and the Galaxy will be at war again within a generation. A perpetual circle of war and rebellion over and over and over until the end of time.”

 

“If we say yes,” Rey asked, “will there be peace?

 

“Having the Force reach true balance will not create a utopia in the galaxy, there will still be good and bad, some will never accept the true ways, but yes, there will be peace on a galactic level. Some of the people of the Galaxy are not yet ready to give up on war, therefore war will continue to live on on a planetary level, but it’s fire will not spread, nor will it be all consuming. The next generation of children will not be fighting in a galactic war.”

 

Rey huffed. “You just put the fate of the entire Galaxy on our shoulders.”

 

“You are stronger than you think, both of you.”

 

Rey started, tentatively, “This is a lot to take in… can we… can we think about it? Can we talk it over, or do we have to give you an answer now?”

 

The being blinked, and Rey wondered if that was the first time she saw it blink.

 

“I have waited so long, I believe I can wait a little longer. I will be here when you return” she said, then disappear.

 

Rey exhaled, for what felt like the first time since she entered the temple.  She felt sick, nauseous and overheated, felt like the loose shirt she was wearing was choking her, she pulled at it until it tore and yet felt no release. “I need to get out of here.” Rey said, “Let’s go!”

 

“Where?”

 

Another galaxy, universe? As far away from here as we possibly can, let's just go and never look back. That's what she wanted to say, but instead she said “Back to the beach.” She needed the feel of something familiar, like sand, she hoped it would ground her, help her feel less like the word was caving in on her. She made her way out of the temple, and as soon as she was out, she put her hands on her knees and inhaled deeply, once, twice, thrice. The air was cleaner, cooler and she felt like it helped, but only a little.

 

Ben rubbed a hand on her back in comfort, then made his way towards the small ship. She followed after taking another few breaths.

 

She said nothing until they reached the beach, and neither did he.

 

She ran out of her seat and out the ship into the night as soon as Ben landed.

 

There was no moon in sight, just the light of billions and billions of stars twinkling in the night sky.

 

She ran and ran some more, her mind swarming with all the things she had learned, with the choice they had to make. She saw no way out of it, she would either have to give Ben up or let the entire Galaxy suffer.

She had had no quarrels left about leaving the Galaxy to fend for itself when the stake had just been the outcome of the war between the Resistance and what was left of the First Order, but this, this was so much more than that.

 

She felt even more trapped than she had felt on Jakku, when she had seen her future in the face of an old woman, her skin wrinkled and leathery from the sun, her frame thin from malnutrition, her hands calloused and worn, scrubbing away at junk every single day of her life, her only escape, death.

 

No matter how far she ran, her head didn’t clear, her fears inched at her more and more, squeezing the breath out of her lungs. She stopped and looked back, the lights of the ship were barely a twinkle in the distance. She wasn’t running away from Ben, and she knew he knew that. Even though she couldn’t see him, she felt him walking towards her with steady steps.  

 

She fell to her knees in the cool sand, her eyes lost on the ocean’s waves.

 

When Ben got to her she was sitting on her butt, arms wrapped around her legs, her head propped up on her knees. He put a leg around each side of her body and hugged her from behind, she leaned back into his embrace and his chin moved to rest on her shoulder. He said nothing, and neither did she, they just stayed like that, looking out at the ocean together.

 

 

Dozen of thoughts were rushing to Rey’s mouth, only to die on her lips. She didn’t know where to start, didn’t know how to put into words what she felt. She could show him, invite him in her mind, but her mind was so jumbled, her own thoughts made no sense to her. She looked up at the sky again. So, so many stars, and distant suns, and planets out there, she knew that somewhere there had to be a place they could make their own, far, far away from here.

 

“We could just leave it all behind, everything, and find a place where no one’s ever heard of me, or you or even this galaxy.” Rey said.

 

“No, we couldn’t.” He said in her ear.

 

“No, we couldn’t.” She echoed his words. The weight of the galaxy had been placed on their shoulders and no matter where they went, it would always follow them, they would always feel it. She wanted nothing more than to have the weight lifted off, to have the last hours never happen. If she didn’t know, she wouldn’t feel responsible, she wanted not to know, but she knew .  For the first time she understood why ignorance is bliss .

 

“I could do it,” she said, “I could teach, on my own. You won’t have to turn yourself in, you’ll…, you’ll find someplace far from here, make a home there, for yourself, for us , and I’ll come visit. Often! We could do that, couldn’t we?” She said in a hopeful voice.

 

His lips curled up into something that looked almost like a smile.“Or, you could turn me in, in exchange for immunity.”

 

Rey made to turn and face him at the sound of that, but he wrapped his hands tighter around her and held her in place.

 

“You left with me, you’re an accomplice now, there will be consequences for you, but not if you turn me in.”

 

“I’m not turning you in!”

 

“It’s the only way, if you’re to restore balance to the Force, then y-”

 

“Fuck the Force!” she yelled out, twisting in his arms, turning to face him, “I don’t care what we owe it, or about balance, or about peace, I’m not letting you go! The Resistance will defeat what’s left of the First Order and there will be peace.” Rey said, but her words seemed hollow, even though she had meant them.

 

Ben said nothing, and Rey hated that. She wished he would continue arguing with her on this, give her more fuel for the fire instead of just waiting and letting her come to the same inevitable conclusion.

 

“It’s not fair!” Rey said, voice cracked, tears stinging her eyes, “I deserve a happy ending.”

 

 

He remained silent again, instead he wrapped his arms around her again, his chin leaning on her shoulder.

 

“I can’t take the weight of the entire Galaxy on my shoulders, not without you. We’ll go back to that thing and tell her that we’ll do it, but only together! Let her figure out a way around this.”

 

“You can do anything you set your mind to, Rey, you don’t need me.”

 

“I do!”

 

“You don’t need me, but you want me, and maybe that’s even better,” he said in her ear, “I can never have a clean slate, no matter how hard I scrub at my past, but maybe I can add another one, after I pay for what I’ve done.”

 

Rey said nothing.

 

“They won’t kill me.”

 

“How do you really know that? And even if they don’t, they’ll put you away for who knows how long. I’ll be alone again, you ’ll be alone and you’ll be caged like an animal. I know you, Ben, that is not something you can deal with, even with our Force connection.”

 

“Rey, I can deal with a lot of things, I have so much practice,” he huffed bitterly, “and we can do anything together, remember?”

 

“I have a plan.” Ben said, and Rey felt hope bud inside her.

 

“Will you let me finish telling it before arguing?” He continued and she felt the bud wither and die. She wanted to argue already, but stopped herself. She nodded in his arms.

 

His chin was still on her shoulder, his lips close to her ear as he spoke, and she could feel every word on her skin.

 

“It will take a while before the Galaxy unites in some sort of government, but when they do, I will be the most wanted man in it, and you’ll be dragged down with me. I can’t let that happen, especially now. Whatever standing you had with the Resistance is gone, maybe not with Finn and Rose but with Dameron, definitely. You lost it when you left with me, he probably knows about it by now, if he doesn’t, he’ll find out soon enough and he won’t be happy about it, to say the least. Because of what we have done they won’t believe anything you, or I have to say. They won’t believe we’re trying to bring the Force to balance, it’s a hard pill to swallow, it sounds crazy, and convenient , they won’t buy it. The only way I see around this is for you to do two things.”

 

She felt him swallow hard before he spoke again.

 

“First, you have to turn me in, that’s the only way you’ll regain your standing with them and maybe then they’ll listen. The other thing is….” He trailed off and she felt unease radiating from him in the Force.

 

“Because of what he did, once there’s a Galactic government, Dameron will have a major role in it. If he’s the one to bring Kylo Ren to trial, he’ll have an even bigger one. I think he will be willing to take the death sentence off the table in exchange for my capture. But they can’t risk keeping alive a Force sensitive person, especially one like me, when there’s no prison that could keep me for long. Their only option will be to end me.”

 

Rey fidgeted in his arms, but waited for him to finish.

 

“That’s when the second thing you need to do comes in, you have to perform a Sever Force on me."

 

She turned in his arms until she was looking at him.

 

“What?” she asked. Although it wasn’t something she knew of, she heard the words Force and sever and she wanted none of it.

 

“You should do it publicly, to prove your loyalty to them,” Ben continued, ignoring her question. “That’s the only way you can fulfill your destiny and bring true balance to the Force, and peace to the Galaxy.”

 

Rey’s eyes were looking into his, a thousand questions in them.

 

Ben gave her a thin, bitter smile. “Severing one’s connection to the Force is very hard, only a handful of Jedi and Sith have ever been able to do it, but I know you can do it. You bent the Force to your will, after all.”

 

There was horror in her eyes.

 

“I believe you’ll be able to help me regain it, after however long it is they’ll sentence me to.” He said and started moving his chin around, like he always did when he was feeling vulnerable.

 

“Have you gone mad?” She said with both anger and tears in her eyes. “I’m not doing that to you!”

 

“I don’t see another way.”

 

Rey huffed, “So your plan is to put yourself at Poe’s mercy and sever the connection you have with me for who knows how long? No!”

 

She pressed a hand to his cheek.

 

“I’ll be alone, you ’ll be alone, and not just alone, but cut off from the Force. Ben!” a tear was cutting a line down her cheek, “It will be like losing your senses, like losing a limb, and you want me to do that to you? I would never! No!” She shook her head.

 

“What if they give you a life sentence, what if you spend most of your life in a cage. We’re not doing this, Ben. No!

 

She pressed her lips to his.

 

He wiped the tears off her cheeks. “It’s the only way, I’m not worth the imbalance in the Force and the pain of a million systems.”

 

“You are to me.”

 

Rey felt him pull her into a hug, felt him squeezing her closer to him as he buried his face in the crook of her neck, she felt his tears on her skin and she hugged him back just as tight.

 

She closed her eyes and muffled a scream on his shoulder. She was angry and broken and she hated how his plan made sense, how she couldn’t think of a better one, hated how she would have to strip him from her.

 

She could do it, it would be hard and, oh, so damn painful, but she could do it, if  there was hope for them. She needed to find out, if  there was, she’d do it. But on her terms.

 

They stayed locked in the embrace for a long, long while, not saying a thing, but holding each other until the black of the sky was washed into blues and the ocean turned orange. She had gathered up all the strength, anger and the determination she possessed.

 

She finally broke the embrace, and kissed him gently.

 

“Let’s go tell that thing.” She said.

 

***

 

The couple was back inside the temple now, and unlike last time, they were not holding hands. The Force Being knew why, as she knew a lot of things.

 

It was because Rey didn’t want to, and Ben hadn’t tried.

 

She didn’t want to because his plan already made her feel trapped enough, she didn’t want her hand trapped in his too. She also wanted her hands free, so she could ball them into fists, shove her nails into her palms until the pain she caused herself would distract her from the pain in her heart. She was a woman that felt helpless and hated it, a woman that was angry with her man and the situation they found themselves in, and she was about to take it out on her, the being with the face of Padme.

 

The otherwise shapeless being made Padme’s lips smile, then flickered into existence before them. As soon as she did, Rey did not bother with any formalities, she went straight for her.

 

“You knew, of course you knew.” Rey said to her with disgust, voice loud. “That’s why you said they won’t kill him, because you knew he would come up with this stupid plan, isn’t it?”

 

She liked Rey, she was so fierce, so protective of the things and people she loved. Of course she knew, she knew so much more, and she was glad that Rey was so intuitive, but she decided not to say anything, instead she just nodded.

 

She could hear the muffled curses on Rey’s lips before the young woman barked at her.

 

“Will there be a life sentence for him? Because if so, we are not doing this, I don’t care about imbalance or peace. The Galaxy and the Force have lived like this for millennia, they can continue just the same.”  

 

The being felt Rey’s anger boiling up inside her, threatening to spill over.  

 

“Tell me!” Rey yelled at her. “Tell me, because I need some fucking hope.”

 

Rey’s heart was breaking but her resolve was unmovable.

 

She could tell her that everything would be okay, but that would be a lie.

She could see the past, present and so many possible futures at the same time, yes, but that was the problem. There were thousands of futures and they were in constant movement, always shifting and changing as the strings of present pulled at them, as seemingly unconnected events in the present and sometimes even the past took their toll on the future.

 

They would never know of the timelines where she hadn’t called to him that night, where they had never met, the ones in which one killed the other, the ones where Rey found solace in the arms of the stormtrooper or the pilot, the ones where she scrubbed her fingers to the bone at the watering hole until she was old and wrinkled, the one where Ben died at the hands of Luke, or the one where he never woke that night and never turned, and so, so many more. They would never know because they shouldn’t know.

 

People already spent so much time and energy on the what ifs, it would break their minds and spirits if they were aware of all the what ifs, whilst helpless to reach them.

 

Time was the ruler of everything, even the Force. The only true constant in creation, it did not like being altered and it took its toll at every atempt.

 

Everything that she had done for them had truly been a task. One would think that splitting the earth in two between them would have been the hardest part, but no, it was the easiest. Dealing with soil was thousands of times easier than influencing sentient beings, especially humans, they seemed to be the most hardheaded.  

 

The things she had done were not just tweaks here and there, no, there were thousand and thousand of balls in the air that she had been juggling for far too long. Rey and Ben were the main actors, yes, but the backup cast was made up of thousands who in turn had millions of intertwined lines and moved in millions of ways on the board of time, all influencing the narrative of the couple.

 

Cause and effect, cause and effect times a trillion.

 

She could not force an outcome, she could not promise them a way out of this, but she still had a few metaphorical balls up her inexistent sleeve, and maybe, an actor or two.

 

“I can give you hope.” She finally said to Rey.

 

“How?”

 

“That is for me to know.”

 

The girl, Rey, moved closer to her, and she could feel the human being a little anxious, but she steadied herself.

 

There was defiance in the girl as she spoke, “You’ve seen me in the darkness, you know my strength of will, you’ve seen both my rage and courage, if you lie to me, if I lose him for good, not only will I never teach the true balance of the Grey, but… Ha!” Rey huffed, bitterly and almost mockingly, “The Force will not know balance for as long as I breathe.”

 

The being chuckled to herself, but Padme’s mouth showed nothing. This girl was threatening her, this little blip in time had the audacity to threaten all of creation for the blip in time she loved. They were both so insignificant and at the same so capable of changing everything. She believed the girl would do just as she said and she couldn’t help but feel proud.

 

“I bent the Force to my will once, I will do it again!” Rey said holding her gaze, putting in it all her determination and the being knew she had made the right choice in helping them.

 

The Galaxy needed someone as determined and strong as her, and he was just as strong, although he was a little broken at the moment, but the girl had enough strength for both, and he would be her strength when hers wavered. They needed eachother, they completed eachother.

 

“The Galaxy in balance and you bargain for one man?” She asked Rey, but it was more an acknowledgment than a question, she knew all too well what they were capable of for the other.

 

“Yes!” Rey answered without missing a beat.

 

There was much work to be done.

 

“There is hope for you,” she said, in a soft and assuring voice.

 

She did not add that it remains to be seen how far hope could take them.  

 

The being flickered out of existence, or more exactly, out of their perception.

 

 

 

*** 

 

 

 

 

Art by the lovely, lovely Ku (Alhenascarlett

Chapter Text

 

Ben felt his head throbbing, actually throbbing. His headache had started hours ago and it had only gotten stronger and stronger with every revelation: their Force connection, the Grey, the weight that had been placed on their shoulders, his plan.

 

He hated his plan. It would cost him everything he cared about, his freedom, Rey, the Force. He had never been without the Force, he could not remember a time where he did not feel it around him, he didn’t know how to live without it and worried he couldn’t.

 

Once the Force would be severed from him he would lose his connection with Rey, and he would truly be alone, for who knows how long, years and years he imagined.

 

The Kylo part in him wanted to grab Rey by the hand and run away from this Galaxy, from the Force, let them fend for themselves. The Ben part in him felt like he deserved to pay for what he had done and couldn’t waste the opportunity to right so many wrongs, to bring true balance to the Force and even peace to the Galaxy, be it at his own expense.

 

He thought of his mother and how single minded she had always been about bringing peace to the Galaxy. He had told her, the day she died, that he had much to atone for, and he would have atoned for it, given the chance, but his mother had died in his arms soon after.

 

Now, there was a way he could still keep that promise, he could fulfill her life’s work and bring peace to the Galaxy. History was stuck in a loop of galactic war and peace and war again, bringing the Force to it’s true balance could break the loop, and the next generation would not have to fight and suffer.

He could redeem himself to his mother that way, and his father’s sacrifice would mean so much more.

 

He huffed to himself, “I will finish what you started,” he had vowed to the mask of Darth Vader. He couldn’t help but wonder if the being with Padme’s face had helped him find the mask, if she had laughed to herself as he said those words over the mask, knowing that he would find himself in the position of finishing what Anakin had started, and it being not what he had thought.

 

For all of those reasons and more, he had to do it, no matter the cost. Want was no longer an option for him.

 

The being had vanished inside the temple and they made their way out, the sun had risen on another day, the air fragrant with the crisp, early morning smells.  

Not knowing what to do with themselves, they just stood there, their eyes staring blindly out towards the forest as their minds were lost in thought.

 

He had never seen this side of Rey before, so angry and determined, standing up to the Force for him, for them . If he were in her shoes, if she were the one to sacrifice herself, he would have been the same way.

No, he would have been much worse, he would have fought tooth and nail to stop her, he would not give her up, Galaxy and the Force be damned. He was glad that that burden was not on her shoulders.

 

Inevitably, as always, they found themselves moving towards each other, like two celestial bodies being pulled together by cosmic forces.

 

He wrapped her in his arms and kissed the top of her head, she hugged him and pressed a cheek to his chest.

 

“I am so mad at you.” She said.

 

“I know, Rey.”

 

“And I’m mad at myself for being mad at you.” She added.

 

Ben huffed.  

 

“I’m mad at you because I don’t wanna lose you, and at myself because you’re sacrificing everything for the Force and the Galaxy and all I can be is mad at you.” Rey said.

 

“That’s not true,” she added, “there’s an ocean of other feelings underneath the thin ice of mad and I’m afraid that it will break and swallow me whole, and I don’t know if I can find my way back up again.”

 

Looking back at all the things he had done, Ben thought the high toll of going down the path of redemption to be a fair one, he just wished she didn’t have to pay for it too.  

 

“I wish I could spare you the pain of– ” he started.

 

“Gods dammit, Ben!” She said pulling out of his embrace, “You’re the one who’s going to be locked up, have the Force taken from you and you’re worried about me? Gods dammit, this is why I’m mad, this passive attitude, worry about yourself!”

 

“I am.”

 

“Sure you are.”

 

He grabbed her by the arms and looked down at her, his gaze intense and dark.

 

“Rey, I don’t want this, I don’t want the Force to be stripped from me, I don’t want to lose our connection, I don’t want to be caged like an animal, I don’t want to be alone, I want none of it!” His fingers were digging into her flesh.

 

“But I have to do it, so I’m doing it!” He let go of her and made his way towards the underground chambers.

 

***

 

Rey wanted to call out after him that no, he didn’t have to do anything , but stopped herself. Instead she sat down on the still dewy grass, the fabric of her pants soaking in all the moisture. She was tired, from the sleepless night, tired of being mad at him and herself, at the Force being. Anger wasn’t helping her, or him, so she wrapped one leg over the other and closed her eyes. She meditated, not within the Force, she was still too pissed at it for that, but within herself.

 

Slowly, her anger with him was slipping away, but in its wake, an amalgam of feelings that spelled nothing but pain came rushing in, and just like she had done before, when she had seen the vision of a decapitated Ben, she put those feelings into a mental box, locked them away, and set her mind to problem solving mode. There will be time to unpack all that she was feeling, later, when she felt strong enough to do it, not now though.

 

She took a deep breath and hoped the box would hold through all of what was to come. He was doing this , there was no turning back, and she had to make sure he’d get the best possible outcome.

 

There was much planning to be made.

 

She got up and went down after him. She found him sitting at the large adobe table they had used to dine, his back to her. His head was down, his hands rubbing at his temples.

 

“How long do we have?” She asked from behind him, replacing his hands with hers. She rubbed at his temples, then spread her fingers over his head, massaging his scalp.

 

He moaned and leaned into her touch.

 

“Together?” he asked, “I don’t know, and I can’t begin to guess. We don’t have a way of knowing what’s going on in the galaxy. There’s HoloNet News but I wouldn’t trust them, any accurate reporting until the war is over, one way or another, would be a liability and neither side would want that.”

 

“So we need someone on the inside.” She said.

 

“That would be of great help, but who?”

 

Rey thought out loud, her fingers still moving in his hair. “ Poe would be the most informed but it’s not like we can ask him. The way I left things off with Finn, I doubt he’ll be–” she trailed off, her fingers faltering for a moment.

 

“There’s Rose, I think she’d help but, they were all headed to Naboo last time we saw them, on a stolen First Order ship, I don’t know how to get in touch with her without anyone on Naboo finding out.”

 

“And that doesn’t mean they’re still on Naboo now.” Ben said.

 

“True.” Rey agreed.

 

“There’s someone else…” Ben started, “but I don’t think he’ll help me.”

 

Rey’s fingers stopped moving. “Chewbacca!” she said, and wondered why she hadn't thought of him first.

 

“Chewbacca.” Ben agreed, “I can send a message to the Falcon”

 

“As can I,” she said excited, “Yes! He’ll help you .”

 

“I don’t think so, I kil–”

 

“He’ll help you! When I left for the Supremacy, he knew who I was going to see and why, he didn’t try to stop me.”

 

Ben bent his head backwards, looking up at her, a question in his eyes.

 

“He still cares about you.” She said, then kissed his forehead.

 

He put his head back down and swallowed.

 

Rey pressed her body closer to his back, her hands moving to rest on his shoulders. He bent his arms backwards in a hug, and because of his sitting position and her standing one, they wrapped around her wet butt.  He pulled his now moist hands away and turned in his seat

 

“Why are you wet?” He questioned with a frown, looking up at her.

 

Rey chuckled to herself. “Sat down on wet grass.”

 

Ben looked at her as if to ask why would you do a thing like that.

 

“You should get those off.” He said, his hand moving underneath her long shirt, and finding the elastic band of her pants.

 

“Oh, really?” She questioned, lifting a brow.

 

“Really.” He said with a smirk on his lips, pulling at the trouser band while looking up at her. “How are you feeling today?”

 

“One way to find out.” She said the corner of her mouth turned up-words.

 

He put two fingers in his mouth, getting them wet, then slipped them past the band of her pants, down past the patch of coarse hair. His fingers moved on either side of her clit, going down her folds slowly, then up and down again. When  he dipped into her, Rey’s breath hitched.

 

“Do you want me to stop?”

 

“Gods, no,”

 

He smirked and pulled her pants down with both hands.

 

She stepped out of them, her eyes still on his.

 

He put his hands back underneath her long shirt and made them flat on her body, moving them up towards her breasts, pressing down on the round mounds with the heels of his palms, pinching her nipples between his fingers until she moaned. He continued upwards, twisting his hands around when he reached the neckline and grabbing two fistfuls of the already torn fabric, he pulled it apart until it split in two with a satisfying  rip.

 

A little thought of wasting resources flashed in her head, but it was quickly forgotten by the look in his eyes. There was a hunger there that sent a shiver down her spine, settling right between her legs.  

 

He pulled the destroyed shirt off her shoulders and down her arms, then got up, his eyes never leaving hers.

 

No words came out of his mouth as he grabbed her by the waist, twisted her body around and placed her, butt down on the adobe table.

 

He was silent as one of his hands traveled up her body, and pressed down on her chest until she laid her back flat on the table. He said nothing as he spread her legs open one by one, as he kneeled down in front of her and moved her thighs to rest on his shoulders, as his mouth made a home of her most intimate place.

 

Rey’s back arched and her breath hitched in her throat, as one of his hands traveled up her body, cupping her breast, pinching and twisting her nipple until they hardened, until they sent waves of pleasure down her body. All the while, his tongue was busy mapping her every curve, circling at her opening then dipping into her.

He sucked on her now hard clit while his index finger was slowly circling at her opening, he dipped one finger in, then another.

Rey moaned and grinding herself on his fingers and mouth. He twisted his fingers upwards searching for that special spot inside her, his mouth sucking at her cunt, his tongue licking the wetness above his busy fingers.

 

As if he sensed the pressure growing inside Rey, he removed his mouth from her and gave his full attention to the fingers working inside her.

 

Rey growled, low and needy, she wanted, needed the feel of his mouth back on her as his fingers sought her pleasure. He continued fucking her just with his fingers, rubbing eagerly at her spot until her cunt contracted around them and Rey’s body shook.

 

The wave of her orgasm was still rippling through her body when she felt his mouth back on her, sucking at her clit, his fingers now moving languidly inside her.

 

She put a hand on his head, trying to move him away, but he sucked and flicked, and sucked and flicked at her clit, while scissoring her cunt until her mind went blank, until she let out a moan so loud, it was almost a scream, until she lost all control of her body and came harder than ever.

 

She felt dizzy, and the rest of her body felt almost foreign, like all the blood in it had left to travel between her legs. 

He took his fingers out of her and sucked them, and before she had the chance to diverge some blood to her brain, or her legs, he pulled her down until her feet touched the ground, then turned her around and bent her, butt up, over the table.

 

Her legs felt wobbly and unsteady and she put her weight on the table to keep herself from falling over.

 

She felt his hands moving up from her knees towards her ass, when he reached the top of her thighs he pulled them apart. She adjusted her footing until she felt stable. He pressed a palm on the small of her back, lifting her butt higher.

She wanted to turn and look, while at the same time loved not knowing his next move.

 

She felt the tip of his fingers gliding along both sides of her ribcage, down towards the cheeks of her butt, the touch sent a shiver down her spine.

 

His touches felt more intense, she felt more acutely aware of her body as she laid there in a half prone position, every nerve ending on attention, waiting for his next touch.

 

She stood there waiting, every second felling like agony, and he seemed to be taking  his damn time. Finally, she felt his hardness pressing on her back side, felt the trail of kisses that went from the small of her back up towards her neck.

He buried his mouth in the crook of her neck and his breath felt scorching on her flesh as he said: “Remember when I sent you that vision, and you said promises, promises.”

 

She remembered that quite well, it was a vision of her spread out on their bed, her hands bound by invisible cuffs, him pounding into her.

 

Her hands were free and she was bent over a table but still,  her cunt warmed at the thought.

 

She bit down on her lip then said in a questioning tone. “Yeah?”

 

“This is me, keeping that promise.”

 

***

 

Ben blinked himself awake, and the bright, electric light felt like sand particles chafing his eyes with every blink. He rubbed at them, trying to adjust to the light,  wondering how long he’d been asleep for, from their bed, deep in the underground, he could not tell.

 

Something between a puff and a snore drew his attention to the woman sleeping next to him. His lips moved up into a smile as he looked down at her, her mouth was slightly open, and a thin film of drool was slowly leaving it, and percolating through the pillow sheet, the stain under her mouth  almost fist sized. He tried hard, and succeeded in muffling a chuckle.

 

As Leia Organa’s son, besides growing up around an annoying protocol droid, he had  also attended expensive and elegant dinners and parties, had met many cultured and refined women of all ages and races. He was well versed in several codes of etiquette, from the basics, such as not stuffing your mouth so full you could barely chew, not opening said full mouth to speak between chews, to the particular manners of half the sentient races of the Galaxy. Rey knew none of that, nor did she seemed to care about such things, she was wild, untamed, herself, and it was just fine by him.

He wondered if she would have cared for that life, for expensive food, elegant parties and elaborate dresses. He thought she wouldn’t, well she’d probably care for the food, once she’d had it, but he didn’t think she’d care about the rest, still, he wanted to give her the change to find out for herself, but he was a fugitive with no credits to his name, and more importantly, their days were already numbered.

 

A sort of mental countdown had at one point began ticking and tocking in his head, it had no definite end date, and thankfully it wasn’t constant, but in moments such as this, it made itself noticed and weighed heavily on his shoulders.

 

He tried to mute it as he gently pulled the stray hairs off her face and made a note to give her a haircut. Anything would be better than this, and he hated the thought of Hux giving her this botched hair. His nose wrinkled in disgust at the memory.

 

He continued watching her as her puffs turned to snores, then back into puffs until  finally, she awakened.

 

Rey rubbed at her eyes and blinked, she smiled when her eyes settled on him.

He placed a quick kiss at the juncture of her forehead and hairline.

 

She wiped the back of her hand over her mouth, then on one of the blankets.

 

Ben shook his head and chucked at that. My little slob , he thought.

 

“I love waking up next to you,” she said, with a smile on her face.

 

He smiled back, but it was short lived. He loved waking up with her too, and wished he could do it every day of his life but, he could not. Tick-Tock played again in his head.

 

Rey seemed to come to a similar realization, and the smile faded off her lips too.

 

She exhaled and blinked. “I’ll get in touch with Chewbacca.”

 

“You?” Ben questioned.

 

“Yeah, I think it will be better if I do it alone, plus there’s a few things I need to talk to him about. I’ll do it from the ship Poe left for me and Leia.”

 

Rey stopped and frowned.

 

“I don’t wanna do it from here, just in case someone tracks the signal. I’ll be gone just a little while,” she said scooting up in bed, until they were at eye level, “You should stay here.”

 

Bens brows furrowed.

 

“No. That ship is big enough that you can still talk in private with him, even with me on it. I’m coming.”

 

“If I go by myself and somehow they catch me, I’ll be in a little trouble. If you come with me and they catch us, I’ll be in a little bit more trouble, but you’ll be screwed. The entire plan hinges on you not getting caught by them,” she shook her head, as if trying to get a thought out of it, “ and if we find ourselves in an us versus them situation, then we’ll have to kill our way out of it, and while I will do it, I’d much rather not have to kill anyone.”

 

Ben huffed. He knew she was more than capable of taking care of herself, but he also knew that he will never not worry about her safety and wellbeing. Going with her would make him feel much better, like he was in some sort of control, not of her, but of their fate. Still, no matter how much he didn’t like it, her argument made sense. He didn’t want to put her in the position of killing someone for him, so worrying about her it was.

 

Ben shook his head. “You’re going to kill me one of these days,” he said, before realizing what he was saying.

 

“No, Ben, I won’t. I’m going to save you.”

 

He fought the urge to swallow, “How about a trade,” he said needing to change the subject, have his mind on something else, “you let me cut your hair, and I let you leave by yourself, if you promise to keep in touch every hour cycle.”

 

Rey looked at him, like she was debating the proposition. “Why does the hair bother you so much?”

 

“Because Hux did that to you.”

 

Rey huffed, almost rolling her eyes.

 

He looked at her, and took strands of her hair between his fingers, he pulled at them gently, as he spoke.

 

“Because I saw him grab a fistful of your hair to expose your throat. Because, when I saw him take out his blade, I thought he was going to run it across your throat and kill you, in front of me, and I was helpless to do anything. It’s the worst feeling, helplessness, especially when you can’t protect what you love most. Every time I see the hair, it reminds me of that day, seeing you at his mercy....”

 

Ben grunted, and shook his head, trying to get rid of the memory. He wished he could erase it completely from his mind, both the visual of it, and the feelings that accompanied it, the desperation, the fear, the helplessness. 

 

Rey swallowed, then grabbed his hand and dragged him out of bed. “You better give me a decent haircut, Ben Solo.”

 

***

 

Ben was not a hairdresser. The only hair experience he ever had, had been with his own hair, and with his mother’s, when he was younger.

He knew it had been his idea, but now, with a pair of scissors in his hand and Rey sitting naked on a chair in front of him, waiting for the haircut, he kind of wished he had shut the fuck up.

 

He hadn’t managed to find a comb, so he used his fingers to comb her hair and flatten it to her head. It looked like her hair was made up of about three dozen strands of different lengths, like some sort of wild animal with bad teeth had taken a chunk out of her hair.

The only way to make it look somewhat okay, was to cut it down to the shortest length, just below the base of her neck.

He corrected himself, the only way for him to make it look good. He knew there were plenty of people who could do a better job, but, right now, it was either him or Miss “what’s shampoo?”

 

She had uttered those words when he mentioned that this might work better on freshly shampooed hair. After the initial shock, he realized, again, just how much she had been deprived of her entire life. He did not care for that thought at all.

 

Not wanting to go through the trouble of washing her hair in the lake, he settled for just wetting it.

 

He combed her wet hair again with his fingers, grabbed the ends between his index and middle finger and started cutting. He continued cutting, going around her head, keeping the hair length three fingers below the base of her neck, all the way around.

 

He stopped to admire his work and found it to be acceptable, if not, actually cute. He felt a little proud of his accomplishment.  

 

“Okay, you’re done.” He declared, and realized there was no mirror to show his work.

 

Rey anxiously put her fingers through her hair as soon as his lips uttered the words.

 

“Oh! It feels short.” She observed. “I’ve never had it this short.”

 

“I don’t think there’s a mirror here, I don’t know–” He stopped,  realizing there was a solution.

 

He took Rey’s hand in his, “I’ll be your mirror.”

 

Rey frowned for a second, then understood.  

 

He felt her mind inside of his, then Rey let go of his hand so she could run hers through her hair.

 

“I don’t hate it.” she said, shaking her head,  moving her hair around, as she used his eyes to look at herself. She finger combed it behind her ears, “Actually, it’s not bad, I like it.” She smiled at him.

 

That made his heart bloom. “Oh, and while I was going through the supply room, looking for scissors, I found some rubber bands you could use to tie your hair with.” he said, placing two bands in her hand, one thick and black, the other thin and dirty brown.

He had found one tied around some delicate looking cables, the other, the black one, he was sure it had at one point been part of some sort of apparatus.

 

She rolled them on her wrist for a later use.

 

“This is the first thing you’ve given me,” she said with a smile on her face, the smile turned to a devilish grin, “I’ll cherish them for ever.”

 

Ben fought the urge to roll his eyes.

 

“It’s better than what you’ve given me.” He said, pointing a finger at his face.

 

Rey laughed and kissed him, and he tried kissing her back, but instead he quickly pulled out of the kiss and spit out a couple of stray hairs that had been on her lips but found their way in his mouth.

He wiped at his lips, then took a better look at her, there were stray hairs on her face, her arms, her breast, down her back, on her thighs.

 

It was time for a bath.

 

“How are you not itchy?” He asked.

 

Rey looked down at herself, “I don’t know, once you get used to the itch of the sand–”

 

“Right.” He said, not letting her finish, grabbing her by the waist, lifting her up and draping her over his right shoulder.

 

Rey giggled.

 

Since their connection was still open, she knew where they were heading to.

 

“Watch your head,” he said, as he carried her up the circular staircase.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ben had wanted her to keep in touch every standard hour through their Force Bond, but Rey had negotiated it down to every two hours.

 

A little part of her had been just a bit annoyed by the request. She had been unbeholden to anyone for most of her life, even during her time as Unkar’s serf, she had been left to her own accords as long as she filled the required daily quota.

 

Seeing her annoyance, Ben had asked her,  “If it were I who left, would you want me to check in with you?”

 

“Yes, of course.” She had answered instantly and realized she was the one being unreasonable. She had been alone for too long. She didn’t know how to be part of a team, of a couple, but was willing to learn.

 

She remembered how on Jakku she had stayed away from everyone on purpose, there was no point in making friends, not when her parents were coming to retrieve her any day now. That had been her thinking, and it had kept her so painfully alone and made her almost feral.

 

After she had left Ashkarah, after she had jumped to hyperspace and there was nothing for her to do but wait until the ship had reached its destination, something strange had happened. She realized she missed him. They had barely been apart in the last few days and she had gotten accustomed to having him around all the time. She felt anxious and a little bit unsteady without him, and couldn’t help but wonder if for the two of them, true balance meant being together.

 

So, almost three quarters standard hour ahead of schedule, she opened their bond and wrapped him in a big hug. She buried her nose in the crook of his neck and inhaled him in. It instantly made her felt more stable and grounded, her anxiety slowly melting away.

 

“Rey?” He had asked her, worry in his voice.

 

“All’s good, just missed you,” she said and felt his face pull into a smile, as his arms wrapped tighter around her back.

 

She absolutely refused to think about how she’d already missed him so soon, and how she’d have to let him go for so much longer.

 

*

Rey had just closed their fourth Force connection after reassuring him that everything was still fine. It had been 6 standard hours since she had left, and had not stuck to the schedule at all, she opened the bond whenever she missed him or felt like talking to him, and had kept it open for much longer than the few minutes it was needed to just give him a quick update.

 

The ship had jumped out of the last hyperspace route and it shook as it adjusted to cruising speed. She had zigged and zagged her way through the routes, and made sure to put enough distance behind her, so that if anyone tracked the signal to her current location, they would not be able to backtrack their way to Ashkarah, and Ben.

 

Most ships had several ways of communication, there was the standard HoloPad, the simple voice only communications, and the even simpler, text only. One way to reach a ship was to be in its range and hail it, the other one was to have access to the ships unique dialing code. Once you had that, you could send any kind of message to a ship, wherever it was. Of course, the message would take longer to reach depending on the distance and Galactic relays, but it would reach it, eventually.  

 

Rey put in the Falcon’s code and typed in her simple message in Shyriiwook, then pressed send.

 

“We need to talk. Rey.” Followed by the code of her own ship.

 

Although she understood the language, she could not speak it, nor did she know how to read or write it, almost all of her interaction with Wookiees had been verbal.

 

Ben, on the other hand, had grown up with the Wookie, and had learned it fully as a child, just to impress his uncle.

 

As she sat and waited for the message to reach the Falcon, she thought of little Ben learning a new language so he could better understand Chewie.

 

She smiled as she remembered nine year old Ben speaking with him in his native tongue, their loving hug, Chewie giving him a toy lightsaber and promising to help him find his kyber crystal once it was time to have a real lightsaber. They had truly been a family at one point and Rey couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming wave of sadness come over her as she thought about the Organa-Solo-Skywalker family.

 

The HoloPad on her dashboard beeped and it made her jump. She pressed it quickly and hoped it would be Chewbacca at the other end.

 

The almost ear piercing roar that came out of the holo-figure took away any doubt. She realized that if she were next to him, she would have felt a gush of breath hitting her face, probably accompanied by a spray of saliva. She wondered if she would have felt the sound reverberate through her body.

 

The Wookiee roared again, and she realized she would have.

 

Chewbacca was not happy, and Rey was glad they were not face to face.

 

“I’m sorry!” She said, both truly apologizing and trying to appease him. “Yes, I know, you’re right. I’m sorry!”

 

She felt her body twisting away from the holo-pad, her eyes pointing down at the dura-steel floor. Chewie had stopped roaring, but he was still raging at her, and it felt like a scolding given by a worried parent.

 

Rey seemed incapable of doing anything besides nodding from time to time and muttering more ‘ sorrys’ .

 

A little while later, the Wookiee ended his speech with a question.

 

“Yes, I’m fine. Again, I’m sorry I left without saying a word and I worried you but…” Rey lifted her gaze up to the holo-pad, her body slowly twisting back towards it too, “I had a good reason, maybe you found out what it was by now.” Her body was fully turned towards him now, and her eyes were on the Wookiee’s holographic eyes, “We need your help, Ben needs your help.”

 

Chewbacca roared again, but this time, a little softer.

 

****

 

Loneliness had never been a foreign concept for Ben, just the opposite, it had been a constant companion. He had grown accustomed to it, and learned to live with it. To him, loneliness felt like a wild beast, always present, always growling and showing its teeth at him. Sometimes, he would even dare think he’d tamed it, and that was when the beast would turn most vicious, and maul him for the heresy. And yet, other times, not too often, it would come wrap itself around him and offer comfort.

 

He knew that beast well, but Rey’s absence, however brief, was something different, not a beast at all, but a void he felt inside him. It was small but caustic, burning away at him with every moment they were apart.

 

With her, he had found something he’d never known before, something he could not define. He had had a family, love, a sense of belonging even, but not like this. What he shared with her was much more potent. The world was muted colors and irking sounds, and Rey was a kaleidoscope of colors and smoothing melody. With her gone, the world seemed bleak and irritating, much more than it had been before he’d known her.

 

He wondered why her departure took such a toll on him, it had only been a little over a standard hour after all.

 

He knew why, it was the first time they’d been apart since you and me became us. It was because of their uncertain future, or at least his. Every hour was more precious to him than a hundred thousands credits, and any hour without her seemed like a waste.

 

He had looked up at the early evening sky, towards her departing ship that had turned into a black dot as it made its way out of the atmosphere, and then to nothing, for far too long. Eventually he swallowed and lowered his gaze.

 

She had left and he didn’t know what to do with himself, alone on an unpopulated planet. He ran through a quick list, he could train, he hadn’t done that in a while, he could cook, or clean up the underground chambers they had used as bedroom and dining room, he could organize the supply room, Resistance members were far too unorganized for his liking. But he didn’t feel like doing any of that.

 

He turned to go back to the cool underground chambers, while he puzzled over the thing he’d dislike doing the least, when his eyes fell upon the last temple, the one where his mother’s body lay, and his feet moved on their own accord towards the blocked off entry.

 

He looked at the jumble of shattered bricks and rocks as his mind ran through his memories of her, then through all the conversations he both feared and wished he’d had with her, knowing they would never happen.

 

He had rushed to save Rey’s life, and hadn’t had the time to give his mother a proper burial. He wanted to give her a funeral worthy of her, a regal one, as the princess of a long gone planet, or one with military honors, as the General of the Resistance, as a freedom fighter, but he couldn’t do either. All he could offer her now was the dark, cold ground in a nameless grave on an abandoned planet. He decided to let her rest inside the temple, it was more worthy of her than the ground.

 

He had started walking towards the underground chambers with his head down, when Rey opened their bond, ahead of schedule, and hugged him tight while telling him that she had missed him, and the burning hole inside him stopped its corrosive advances on his soul.

 

They talked briefly and kissed goodbye, then each went about their business, Rey continuing her journey through space, while he made his way down the circular steps, still feeling purposeless.

 

He looked at the dilapidated rooms, where he imagined priests and believers of the Faith of the Force once lived, and realized that the crumbling structure was not suited for long term use. The adobe bricks were turning to dust, the chambers were small and almost uninhabitable. It wasn’t good enough, not for the ones who would be brought here to learn about the Force, and not for Rey.

He remembered his time as a Padawan in Luke’s temple, all the good things it had to offer and all the things it lacked, and realized he could design a proper school, with everything that was needed for the journey they were about to embark on. The journey she was about to embark on, he corrected himself.

 

He grabbed the holo-pad and made his way up the stairs in a hurry, there was much he wanted to do, and he was losing daylight. He fired up the small escape pod and surveyed the area around the temples from above. The ship was not equipped with any kind of radar or sonar technology, so he had to rely just on his eyes. He flew over the area around the temples a few times, each time sketching on the holo-pad the topography of the area as best as he could. It was primitive and not particularly accurate, but it was a start.

 

****

 

“I’m getting too old for this,” Chewie thought as he closed the holo-pad connection with Rey.

 

While he was much older than any human, two hundred and thirty-four years to be exact, he was only a little over the halfway point of a Wookiee’s lifespan, yet he felt much older and so, so tired.

 

He was not entirely sure why. Maybe the rough life he’d lead had taken a heavy toll on him, maybe at fault was the human he’d met forty-four years ago, the one who got him involved in the business of two other humans, ten years later.

 

Maybe to blame was the human he saw grow since he was inside his mother’s belly, the one he had rocked to sleep as a baby, had carried on his shoulders as a child, the one he had taught all the Falcon’s tricks, the one he considered family.

 

Maybe it was seeing that little boy he loved so much kill his best friend of forty-four years.

 

And now that boy, who had grown into a man away from his eyes, needed his help and he didn’t know how he felt about it.

 

He had lost track of all the hours he’d spent replaying Han’s last moments. He could still remember the pain and the anger, the sheer rage he felt when he saw the man, with the face of the boy he loved, ignite the lightsaber inside his best friend’s chest.

His mind had went dark, and he shot. In that moment, the little boy he had loved was gone. There was only Kylo Ren in front of him, and he did not care if Kylo Ren lived or died.

 

After they made their escape from Starkiller, in the long and empty nights, he had thought about what he’d done and felt shame. Shame his mark hadn’t been truer, shame he had shot the boy he had cared about so much.

 

Later, Rey had tried to convince him that the boy he once knew was still alive, somewhere, hidden under the mask of Kylo Ren, and burdened with the shame of almost killing him, he agreed to let her go to him, to try and bring him back, maybe even save the Galaxy in the process.

 

Rey returned to the Falcon bruised, and damaged in other ways, and before he could ask her what had happened, they had to go save what was left of the Resistance from Kylo Ren’s attacks, and he felt burdened by the shame of his poor marksmanship.

 

They hadn’t spoken much on Ashkarah, and especially not about what had happened to her on the Supremacy, Rey had kept to herself for most of the time, and so, unfortunately, his mind had been free to come up with its own scenarios.

 

What had he done to her? The question hunted him, and he felt responsible for the damage the man who used to be Ben Solo had caused her.

 

In such a short time she had become part of his family. Inside his heart, she had occupied the place that had once belonged to Ben Solo. He realized she had taken everything that had belonged to him. From his parents love, the legacy lightsaber and all the way to, he realized now, after their long conversation, the heart of Ben Solo himself.

 

His family , was there anything left of it? Han was gone, and so were Luke and Leia. The man that looked like Ben Solo still remained, but was he truly Ben, or was he Kylo, or maybe some strange mix of the two? Nonetheless, Ben was the only one left alive.

 

His friends’ deaths had come one after the other, first Han, then Luke and before he had time to process them, Ben had come to him and the Resistance, with his tail between his legs, with word of Leia’s death, and begging them to help save Rey’s life.

 

Chewie roared at the memory of his friends. He still did not feel like he had had enough  time to process their deaths. Everything had happened so fast, and one after the other, and he was just so, so tired of loss, and the pain it brought him, of fighting in wars, even if it was for a good cause.

 

With Poe busy leading the Resistance, with Finn and Rose leaving with Edisa, he had felt out of place and with nothing to do, so he left Naboo and went back to what he knew best, a job that had been offered to them right before Han was killed, before they had taken the rathtars job.

 

That is why he had received Rey’s message so fast, he had been only a few parsecs away from her location.

 

Rey asked if he would be willing to spy on the Resistance for them, commit treason for her and Ben, and he hadn’t given her an answer because he didn’t have one. It wasn’t because treason was beneath him, it was because of Ben and what he had done, so he told her he would think about it.

 

He could tell that Rey was not happy with his answer, but she accepted it, then she asked if he could bring them some supplies and one other thing. If he had any doubts about the nature of Rey and Ben’s relationship, they were all removed after hearing what she wanted him to procure for her.

 

He shook his head and growled again. Kids.

 

He sent Rey back to Ashkarah with the promise that he would follow soon with supplies, so now he found himself traveling to the nearest trading post, with a rather long shopping list, all thoughts of the job he had been working on expelled from his mind. There was not room left in it for anything besides the talk he’d have to have with Ben Solo.


***


As soon as she had finished her talk with Chewie, she opened the bond to let Ben know.

 

“How did it go?” He  asked.

 

“Have you ever had a Wookiee yell at you?”

 

“Yes! That Wookiee.”

 

“Then you know.”

 

Ben smiled at that.

 

“He hasn’t told me if he’s going to help or not, but he’s coming to Ashkarah with supplies.

 

“Oh.”  Ben said, his mood was visibly altered, and not for the better.

 

Rey wrapped him in her arms and spoke in his ear, “Do you want me to stay with you, or would you rather have some alone time to think things through?”

 

Ben didn’t answer.

 

She kissed his cheek, “I’ll let you know if anything happens along the way, otherwise, see you when I get home.” She said, and closed the connection.

 

She would give him some time to put his thoughts in order, and to get ready for the talk he was about to have with his uncle .

 

“When I get home.” Rey thought.

 

She had never truly uttered that word, she had made a place for herself inside the fallen AT-AT, but had never called it home. The only thing she’d ever had that was marginally close to a home was the Falcon, and yet, this time, the word home had flown out of her mouth with ease, and it had felt right on her tongue .

 

She had lived on that planet with the Resistance for longer than she had with Ben, and yet, never thought of it as home. Now, with him, the abandoned planet and the decrepit underground chambers had become their home.


Several standard hours and one Force connection later, she was landing the ship on Ashkarah and he was waiting for her outside it.

 

She jumped in his arms and he swirled her around a couple of times, then planted her feet  on the ground and kissed her.

 

“I’ve missed you!” They said at the same time as they broke for air, then chuckled at each other.

 

“What have you been up to?” Rey asked, looking down at his hand, as she intertwined his fingers with hers.

 

Ben’s face lit up at that. “Come, I’ll show you.”


Spread out on the dining table were half a dozen pieces of paper of different sizes, on each of them there were several drawings in black pencil.

 

Rey frowned at Ben, then looked over the drawings.

 

“You did this? What is it?” She asked, “And where did you even find paper and pencil?”

 

“The supply room,” He said and turned a few of the papers over, showing old writing and schematics on the backs of them, “I’ve cleaned it up and found quite the interesting stuff there, but that’s not important.” He said almost giddy, as he turned the papers back over to his drawings.

 

“This is the school!” He said, waving a hand over the table, a smile on his face.

 

“The school?” Rey frowned.

 

“Yes, I’ve been thinking, if you’re to teach the true ways of the Force, you’ll need a school to teach it in. This…. ” he said making a hand movement around the chamber they were in, “is not going to work. You’ll need at least a classroom, a training room, big kitchen and dining room, bedrooms and bathrooms for the students, and a separate place for you to live in.”

 

“For us to live in.” Rey corrected him.

 

Ben looked at her and nodded, but he did not seem  convinced. He grabbed one of the smaller pieces of paper, on it there was a drawing of their surroundings, the sketch was rudimentary but legible. At the top right corner she could see the shapes of the three temples, then to the left of that the huge trees, under which the underground chambers were located. Even further to the left, occupying a good chunk of the page was the foliage of the forest, and finally on the edge of it, the lake that was almost half-moon shaped.

On the halfway point of the page, lengthwise, there was a bolded X.

 

“This is where the school should be! It’s beautiful there and the shore on that part of the lake is basically a rock slab, we could anchor a house there easily and there’s an abundance  of stone we could use to build the house.”

 

He grabbed another piece of paper, on it were drawings of a rather large rectangular stone house from two perspectives and what looked like  simple blueprints.

 

“This is the front view, from the forest, with the lake in the backdrop,” He said as he pointed to one of the drawings.

The house had two floors, on the ground floor there was a big, double door in the middle and on each sides, two large, equally spaced square windows. On the top level were eight smaller windows that were rounded at the top.

 

“The ground floor is for the classroom and training room, when the weather won’t permit training outside, also the kitchen and dining room will be there,  upstairs they’ll have the bedrooms. There were a lot of things I wished Luke’s temple had, things that could have improve the experience of the Padawans. I wanna put all those in, I want this to be a place they’d enjoy living in.”

 

Rey could hear excitement in Ben’s voice as he spoke and it warmed her heart.

 

He pulled out two different pieces of paper and spread them both on top of the others. “This is…,” he started, then paused, as if weighing his words, “this is our place.”

 

On the first piece of paper she could see the edge of the rectangular house, then lower down on the paper, close enough to the large house as to be easily accessible, but far enough to allow for privacy, laid another house. This one, while also having two floors it was more modest than the first.

 

Ben ran his finger over the  piece of paper, and the black pencil drawn house. “It will be made of stone too, but smaller. Downstairs I’m picturing, besides a kitchen and a bathroom, a living room and maybe an office. Upstairs a bedroom or two, maybe even a library.”

This house was not unlike the first one, it had a door in the middle of the first floor, and one window on either side of the door, upstairs there were three rectangular windows and a tile roof.

 

“This is the view from the lake,” he said as he pointed to another drawing on the same page, the stone house looked almost the same, except for a large, covered balcony that stretched for the entirety of the second floor. "The area is too beautiful, not having a balcony would be such a waste. I can almost picture watching the sun go down over the lake." He said, with a smile in his voice.

 

A cold shiver went down Rey’s spine.

A stone house, with a large balcony overlooking the lake.

Was this the same house she’d seen in her vision, the only vision that she had kept from Ben? Would there ever be a white crib inside that house, and a little black haired baby girl floating toys over that crib?

 

All of a sudden her knees felt weak and she took a seat at the table, her hands had started  shaking, so she shoved them under her legs.

 

Ben was too preoccupied with showing her his plans, so he hadn’t noticed the change in her, and she was thankful for that.

 

He pulled up another piece of paper, on it he had drawn the layout of the rooms. She could hear him talk about the office plans and a massive wood carved desk, about a library filled wall to wall with bookcases and old books, but her mind was not focused on what he was saying.


“Is this the path that would lead us to the remaining vision? And if it is, how further in time had the vision been?”   She asked herself, and also,  the omniscient Force Being, but Rey received no answer.  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

*********************************************************************************************************************

This is sort of what I had in mind for the house.

   

Chapter Text

 

 

Ben had finished showing her all his plans for the school and their house and he had asked her half a dozen times if she liked them, if there was anything she wanted to alter or even change completely and she had assured him that there wasn’t, and that they were perfect.

She had not spent any time thinking that far ahead into the future, she was still too preoccupied with Ben’s fate, and to her, the school’s existence still hinged on whether or not she would lose him. But it seemed that that hadn’t been the case for him. He had thought about everything and she wasn’t sure why, maybe just to keep his mind occupied,  to not agonize over the meeting with Chewie. Maybe looking ahead into their possible future was his way of coping with the uncertainty of his near future. She had a feeling it was a bit of both. She filed that the thought for a later date, right now her mind was still swirling with her vision.

 

She debated whether or not to tell him about it, even show it to him. If she did, she would have someone to talk to about it, if she did, there wouldn’t be any secrets between them, and yet, there was something inside her that made her stop every time she opened her mouth.

 

What if she showed him and she’d see disappointment on his face at the impossibility of her vision? What if she showed him and she'd see disappointment on his face at the possibility of it? She didn’t know which would be worse, and decided that that was a question she didn’t want answered yet. There would be time for that, later, years later, after all she was young, too young.

 

They were finishing up their meal, another one of Ben’s delicious concoctions. It would be the last of them, for he had used all their remaining, unspoiled food supplies. They would have to hunt and forage for their next meal, or eat the dried-vacuumed, tasteless rations.

 

As per usual, she was not sure what it was she was having, just that it was some sort of cooked animal meat and blue and purple sauté vegetables, but it was good.

 

Sauté , that had been a new word she had just learned, she didn’t really see the need for a specific word for quickly frying up something in a little bit of oil, but she had nodded and pretended to care about this particular cooking technique.

 

She hoped Chewie would show up with the supplies before it was time for their next meal, otherwise it was hunting season, she did not want to go back to eating portions.

 

On the tail end of that thought, both their heads turned up and towards the stairs. Chewie was close, she could feel it, and one look at Ben’s pale face assured her that he could too.

She grabbed his hand in hers and squeezed it for comfort, then made their way up the stairs, together.

 

The Falcon was still making its way down for landing as they reached the clearing, and Rey squeezed his hand again.

 

“You’ll be fine.” She said in his mind, then let go of his hand.

 

The Falcon’s cargo door opened, and Rey sprinted and jumped up at the Wookiee high enough to wrap her arms around his neck.

She felt Chewie wrap an arm around her waist and prop her up for support, and maybe to ease the tension around his neck.

 

“I’ve missed you!” Rey said, her nose deep in the Wookiee’s brown hair.

 

Chewie growled something she didn’t quite understand and bent her down until her feet reached the ground again. She let go of the noose her arms formed around his neck.

 

“I got you everything you asked for,” he said looking down at her, “they’re in those crates to the right.”

 

“Thank you, you’re the best!” Rey said, with a genuine smile on her face.

 

Chewie patted the top of her head and ruffled her hair, then growled as if noticing the change.

 

“I’ll grab the supplies.” Rey said, putting her fingers through her hair, flattening the now frizzy hair, “You two need to have a talk.” She added, looking back at Ben’s board-stiff body.

 

“Ben.” Chewbacca growled in his native tongue.

 

“Chewbacca.” Ben said, in Galactic Basic.

 

Rey moved past the Wookiee and into the Falcon. She let her fingers linger lovingly over the worn durasteel walls as she looked for the crates.

 

Outside Chewie was making his way towards Ben.


***


The last thing Ben wanted to do in front of Chewbacca was to gulp, and yet that was exactly what he did as the Wookiee approached him.

 

“I’m sorry!” Ben said, as Chewie stopped, just an arm’s length in front of him.

 

“What are you sorry for, Ben? Killing your father? Or trying to kill everyone that ever cared about you? Myself, Luke, Rey, your mother? What are you sorry for?”

 

Ben swallowed the knot in his throat as he looked up at Chewie. The Wookiee’s gaze was burning him into the ground, and he wanted nothing more than to cast his eyes anywhere else. He had done that once, when he had went to the Resistance for help, he would not do it again.  

 

Chewie was in the right to hold him accountable, he had been guilty of all those things, and more.

 

“For all of it.” Ben answered honestly.

 

Chewie growled, and it was just a growl of frustration, with no meaning in Shyriiwook.

 

“Take me to your mother.” He demanded.

 

Ben set his jaw and started moving towards the temples. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Rey floating two large crates behind her, her feet heading towards the underground chambers.

 

“She’s in there,” Ben said as he reached the last of the temple, “it was the best I could give her.” Ben lowered his gaze.

 

“A temple…” Chewie said, his head softly nodding, “resting inside a place of worship… she would not have hated that.”

 

Ben noticed an almost chuckle in the Wookiee’s voice.

 

Figuring out a Wookiee’s true feelings was hard and laborious work. Their language and the way their vocal cords worked made them sound like they were perpetually angry, and while that wasn’t too far from the truth,  if one paid enough attention, one could pick up on their tone of voice, distinct intonations and differentiate an annoyed growl from an amused one, a happy roar from a fearful or loving one, once one paid attention, a plethora of feelings were brought into the light. Ben had been paying attention for most of his life.

 

“I’ll never forgive you for Han.” Chewie said, his tone solemn.

 

“I’ll never forgive myself either.” Ben said and he knew he wouldn’t, no matter how much time would pass, no matter if his memory of it got blurry with age, he would never forgive himself.

 

The Wookiee’s eyes were pointed towards the temple, but his mind seemed somewhere else. “You know I owed your father a life debt, you know my culture, if not paid, the debt is owed to his family… “ Chewie looked down at him as he added. “I am bound by duty and honor to help you.”

 

“If it is mine to have, them I release you from it. I don’t want it and I don’t deserve it.” He looked up at the Wookiee, “You’re free of your debt, I will not force you into anything. If you’re going to help, do it because you want to, not because you feel obligated.”

 

“You’re a lot like him, you know?”

 

“I know.”

 

“And you’re all that’s left of him.”

 

Ben said nothing, he just squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, trying to fight back the tears that were threatening to spill over the dam that was his lower eyelids.

 

“You’re all that’s left of your family, my family.” Chewie turned to face him, then stepped closer to Ben, now inches apart. “He loved you. Maybe he wasn’t the greatest of fathers, but he loved you very much, and I know that even after everything you’ve done, he would still have wanted me to help you.” Chewie put a hand on Ben’s shoulder and huffed.

 

“For that and because I still care about you, I’ll help.”

 

Ben swallowed the now very painful knot in his throat and lowered his gaze to the ground.

 

Chewie wrapped his arms around him and squeezed him tight, and Ben’s eyes let go of the tears they’d been holding back.


***


Chewie had left close to a standard hour ago and while his relationship with Ben had not been mended, they seemed to have patched at least one of the many tears in it.

 

The Wookiee was to go back to Naboo and the Resistance, and keep them up to date with any major change in the war, as soon as the war was over, he would send a message to them and the second part of their plan was to be put into action. In the meantime, they got to enjoy each other, and live .

 

While Ben and Chewbacca had talked, Rey had unpacked the supplies. One of the crates was filled with food, that one she had left for Ben, the other one contained everything else she had asked for.

 

Rey was watching Ben from the doorway of the supply room as he properly stored away all their new food. The kitchen, although Ben had been adamant that a heating plate and a few kitchen tools in a tiny supply room did not make for a kitchen, had become his domain, and she did not mind it at all. This way there would be no more crunchy eggs and unlike her, he seemed to truly enjoy the process of cooking.

 

“What’s in the other crate?” He asked as he put away the last of the vegetables and made his way towards Rey.

 

“Water purifier, fuel for the generator, a few containers of your sham-poo” she said the last word in two distinct syllables, almost as an annoyed child, “soap, and other toiletries, plus a few other things I asked for.” Rey answered as she moved towards the adobe table where she had neatly set all the supplies.

 

Ben followed her and looked over the table.

 

“Two changes of clothes each,” Rey said throwing his share at him, “I asked for any color besides the khakis you hate, Chewie seems to think dark grey is your color.”

 

Ben chuckled at that. Somehow new clothes had become a treat.

 

“And this,” Rey added, pulling out from behind her back a silver metal box. “I’m gonna need your help with it.” She said, placing the box in one of his hand as he put the clothes back on the table with his other.

 

“Sure!” he said looking down at it. He opened the box and in it lay a sealed syringe in a clear plastic with a paper back. The metal syringe had a long plunger and no barrel, but also a rather long and wide needle. “What is it?” He asked, frowning.

 

He grabbed the package and looked on the paper back, on it, in bold letters it read Implanex , underneath it, in smaller letters, birth-control , followed by the instructions.

 

“Oh.” Ben said, surprised.

 

He should have thought of it too, they hadn’t been careful at all, they had been testing their luck all this time. Unwanted pregnancy was the last thing they needed right now. The little device in his hand would offer protection from that, but it also raised some questions for him.

 

He looked at Rey, and he realized he had no idea if she’d want a child one day.

 

If she did, he wondered how that day would go, since he did not want any. But there was no point in having the discussion now, not when she had deliberately asked for birth control.

 

“Oh!” Bens said in a small voice, realizing who she had asked.

 

“You– you asked Chewie for birth control?” He said as his cheeks turned red, it was obvious it had been the Wookiee.

 

Rey and him were adults, and a couple, and sex was a normal part of life. So why for the love of the Force did his ears also began to burn at the thought of her asking Chewie for birth control?

 

Ben closed his eyes and twisted his face into a grimace, he pinched the bridge of his nose, then shook his head, trying to get rid of the embarrassment.

 

He heard a muffled chuckle coming from Rey, and opened his eyes, the embarrassment was still there.

 

“He’s like my uncle, it weird!” Ben defended himself.

 

“Sure, Ben.” Rey said and he could almost hear the eye roll accompanied by those words. “Now, would you rather waddle in that feeling some more, or put that thing inside my arm so we can have some fun?”

 

As if there was a choice, Ben thought.


***


“Maro!” Edisa jumped awake, screaming and a second later wishing she hadn’t. Her body feel back down onto what she imagined was a bed, every muscle in her body screaming at her in pain from the sudden movement. She was disoriented and confused and in so much pain, her eyes were still blurry but from what she could see, she did not recognize her surroundings.

 

“It’s okay. Edisa,” she heard a female voice coming from her right side, and she tried to focus on it, it sounded familiar.

 

She grunted, then tried to do a quick evaluation of herself. Her eyes still refused to focus and her head throbbed so bad it felt like it had a pulse of its own. She wiggled her fingers and toes and found them working, but her calves objected at the movement. She tried to lift herself up, slower this time, but it was no good, her body protested with every atom, she had never been this sore.

 

She felt a hand on top of hers and looked up at the person it was attached to. Her eyes were starting to adjust and the black haired blur started coming into focus.

 

“Rose.” She said, and her throat felt dry and her voice weak and small.

 

“Here, have some water,” Rose said putting a straw next to her lips.

 

Edisa drained all the water in the large container, down to the last drop, then licked her parched lips.

 

She realized she was in some sort of  a hospital room or infirmary, the white sterile environment and the typical smell she had always associated with infirmaries and med bays was flooding her nostrils, irking at her senses.

 

“Maro?” Edisa asked, her voice a little stronger.

 

“He’s a few doors down, in a bacta tank, still healing, but he’ll be okay, eventually.”

 

“I need to see him,” Edisa said, pulling at her covers and trying to get up, but failing. The world had started spinning with her as soon as she moved and her body punished her with a new wave of pain. She laid back down, defeated.

 

“Wes is with him, he hasn’t left his side since we got here.”

 

“Where is here?”

 

“A hospital in Theed, Naboo.”

 

“How long since the battle?”

 

“Six days.”

 

Edisa lifted her brows at that and cursed herself for it. Was there any part of her body she could move without being in pain?

 

“What did I miss?” She asked.

 

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Rose said.

 

Edisa thought hard but her memory was broken into pieces with good chunks of time missing between them.

 

Another reconditioning facility.

More troopers than she had thought.  

The horror of having to fight what she came to save.

Blaster bolts left and right.

Outnumbered.

Her, cornered on a ledge, in front, half a dozen First Order loyal troopers, behind, a ten meter drop.

Moving closer to the ledge.

Sound of blasters going off.

Maro shielding her with his body, taking a bolt for her, then another.

The sheer force of the bolts throwing them both off  the ledge.

 

“Falling.” She finally, said, “I remember falling.”

 

“You two took a ten meter fall, Maro was lucky he landed on you, with his existing wounds and the drop, I don’t think he would have survived. I guess you saved each other. He saved you from the bolts, you broke his fall.” Rose said with the tiniest of smiles on her face. “We patched you two up the best we could on the way, then rushed back here.”

 

“What’s wrong with me?”

 

“Right now you’re mostly just very sore, you’ve had a femoral fracture, a dislocated shoulder, a few cracked ribs, most of your body was black and blue and to top it off, a subdural hematoma. You’ve been out of the bacta tank for about a day now.”

 

“Finn?” She asked, not pausing to think too much about her condition, she’d have a proper talk with one of the doctors later.

 

“He’s taken momentary charge of the troopers, hope you don’t mind. Us and your troopers raided another conditioning facility while you were out and brought over the tech. There’s quite a few scientist here, on Naboo, interested in reversing the conditioning. I think, eventually, we can help most of the troopers.”

 

“In the meantime Finn’s been busy acclimating the troopers with the less successful First Order conditioning into a free life.”  Rose added. “It’s been… interesting .”

 

Edisa’s lips moved into the smallest of smiles. “The war?”

 

“It’s on its last leg. We should hear about either the First Order’s full capitulation or their destruction soon enough.”

 

Edisa nodded, or at least she thought she did, the lack of pain told her that maybe she just imagined the head movement.

 

The door opened at that moment and Resistance leader Poe Dameron made his way in. He looked just as she remembered, and at the same time different, older. The wrinkles around his eyes seemed to have deepened and his under eyes were a few shades darker than she remembered.

 

“I think I’ll let Poe tell you about the war, he’s better informed.” Rose said patting her hand gently, “I’ll go check in on Maro,” then with a nod at Poe, left the room.

 

“You’re finally awake!” Poe said, pulling up a chair next to her bed.

 

“Finally?” Edisa questioned, “Been here before?”

 

“When I got the chance, yeah. You look smokin’ in a bacta tank, by the way.” He chuckled.

 

Edisa found herself chuckling back.

 

“How are you feeling?” Poe asked, his tone serious.

 

“Like a rail truck ran over me.”

 

Poe nodded, then swallowed. He put his hand over hers, his thumb gently caressing it.

 

"I thought I told you not to die.” He said, then looked up at her, something dancing in his eyes.

 

The simpleness and gentleness of his thumb caressing her hand, the soft way he said the words, the look of sorrow and relief in his eyes, made Edisa’s stomach twist. She didn’t know what she and Poe had, she had spent no time thinking about it, but now he found herself wondering. He was a good fuck and she wouldn’t have minded having him in bed for longer than their usual quickies, but besides that, was there anything else? They had butted heads on quite a few things and she knew they would keep butting them for as long as they’d know each other.

 

He was not what she wanted, and did she want anything at all, with anyone? She imagined she wasn’t what he wanted either, if he wanted anything.

 

But without them realizing, a little something had started to flower between them, she didn’t know if it would ever thrive, and she thought it incredibly easy to weed out, but still it was there, and it made her feel something. With one look at him she knew he felt something too. What that something was, she did not know.

 

She looked at his hand over hers, and moved her thumb so that it offered his hand one quick caress of her own.

 

“And would you look at that, I listened to you, maybe for the first time ever.” She said in a cheerful voice, retreating behind the mask of humor.

 

Poe shook his head and chuckled at her remark.

 

“How’s the war going?” She asked, truly curious, but also trying to chance the bitter taste her forced mood change between them left in her mouth.

 

“It’s over, we won, the last of the First Order capitulated just hours ago, but there’s a few things we want to tie up. Tomorrow we’ll make the big announcement.”

 

For the first time in a very long time, Edisa felt truly happy.

 

“The troopers?” She asked.

 

“Finn’s on top of that, they’ll be imprisoned until we can reverse the conditioning, then… I don’t know, I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

 

“I guess we will,” Edisa said, and she heard two short beeps coming from Poe’s direction.

 

The Resistance leader looked down at his small holo-pad, then, as he made his way to the door, said: “Excuse me, it seems the rats have gone out of their hiding.”


***


“Rey!” Poe said with fake joy in his voice as soon as he saw her inside the confinements of the holo-pad. “Changed your hair, looks good! What have you two love birds been up to, and especially where? I’d love to come and have a chat.”

 

He saw Rey set her jaw at that, she was not amused. Good, he hadn’t meant it to be funny. He continued talking, as he pressed buttons on his private command center, hoping he’d keep her talking long enough to trace the signal back to her.

 

“Great timing, we, and by we I mean the Resistance, have just won the war, but somehow I have a feeling you already knew that.”

 

He wondered if the First Order had been the one victorious, would Kylo Ren have been the one making this call to a First Order general?

 

He could tell that she really wanted to give him a piece of her mind but refrained herself. This was interesting, it meant she didn’t want to get on his bad side. She needed him.

 

“I have Kylo Ren, I’ll give him to you, on a few conditions.”

 

“I’m listening.”

 

“First I need immunity, there will be not charges against me for leaving with him.” Rey said, and paused as if waiting for an answer.

 

“Done!”

 

“Secondly, you take the death penalty off the table.”

 

“That’s not for me to decide. I’ve told your boyfriend I’d make sure he sees the inside of a courthouse, I’m keeping that promise.”

 

“The way I see it Poe, you have two choices, either you chase us around the galaxy, wasting time and resources, going off intel that will be too old by the time it gets to you, losing bounty hunter after bounty hunter, because I will not hesitate to defend myself and what is mine, all the while hoping I’ll call again so that that time you can triangulate the signal, and not have it fail like this time. Or you take the death penalty off and end this war with the news of capturing Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, all by yourself.  Just imagine what that would do to your career. ”  

 

Poe’s lips moved into a smirk.

 

“The galaxy will be in turmoil, it will need a strong leader to hold its reigns, you can shape it the way you want it, the way it should be, but for that you still need to climb up the political ladder. How many steps up will turning in the former Supreme Leader take you?”

 

Poe knew Rey was playing him, telling him what she thought he wanted to hear, and although her words were intended to manipulate him, she was right, there would be a power struggle inside the still forming New Galactic Council, each member wanting to shape the galaxy as they saw fit.

 

During the last several days he had realized something, although there were aspects about being the leader of the Residence that he liked, there were even more things that he disliked, like the bureaucracy that had surrounded his position as soon as the other systems joined in. But what he disliked most was the thought of another war, if he was in power, he would not let it happen again.

 

He wondered how he would manage to spin things so that not giving Kylo Ren a death sentence seemed like that right thing to do. A caged and humiliated animal had a nice ring to it, but then he remembered just what sort of animal he was.

 

“What’s gonna keep him caged? His heartfelt desire to repent? Not good enough, Rey.”

 

“I’ll sever his connection with the Force, I’ll do it right in front of you, give you a show.”

 

“You’ll what?”

 

“I’ll take away his powers, no mind control, no stopping blasters or Force choking, nothing, he’ll be just like everyone else.”

 

Poe thought about what she said, if it were true, if she took the Force from him and made it a public display then yes, he could definitely spin it as to take away the death penalty. Kylo Ren wouldn’t be the first person in history to be spared the death penalty after capitulating, and without his powers, in a public jail he might get a death penalty from his fellow inmates.

Poe wouldn’t stage it, or instigate it, but he also wouldn’t shed any tears if it were to happen.

 

Something was bugging at him, why was she doing this to the person she cared about? Why not just be on the run, or find some unheard of planet in an uncharted area and make a life for themselves there? Something was off.

 

“Why are you willing to do all this, trade him in, take the Force away from him? It makes no sense.”

 

“We have our reasons, you’ll know them soon enough. Do we have a deal?”

 

Poe thought for a few moments. It wasn’t a bad deal, not for him, for him it was a win-win situation.  “We do.”

 

“What’s the reason?” Poe asked.

 

“I’ll tell you after we’re done here.”

 

“There’s more?”

 

“What do you think his punishment will be?”

 

“I don’t know, that’s for the council to decide.”

 

“But you’ll be in the council, you must know some of them, you could influence them.”

 

“Where are you going with this?”

 

“I want his time in jail to be commuted to time in exile.”

 

Poe laughed at that and saw a look of disgust on Rey’s face.

 

“How much am I worth to you?”

 

Poe frowned, not understanding what she was trying to say.

 

“I’m just as powerful as he is, and a lot more malleable. If you were to have me as your…” she paused, as to search for the word, “as your enforcer, have me do whatever it is you need doing, each year I work for you, would you commute one of his prison years to a year in exile?

 

“What is it that you’re willing to do, Rey?”

 

"Whatever it is you want me to.” She said, then quickly blurred out, “I won’t fuck you though!” as if that possibility had been so far from her mind it just occurred and wanted to make sure he understood that was not on the table.

 

“Yeah, I don’t want you to fuck me either, Rey.” Poe said, and meant it. “Are you willing to kill someone?”

 

“If that’s what you want.”

 

Shit. A little part of him was a little excited at the possibility. Rey was a force to be reckoned with, she would truly be useful. He wouldn’t use her to kill people, that was not who he was, but with her Jedi powers she could do so much more. It was tempting, so very tempting.

 

As much as he liked the idea, he hated the idea of Kylo getting off too easy even more. But what was a year for Kylo, when his sentence was bound to be very long, if not for his entire lifetime, and he could do so much with Rey in a year or two.

 

“I’ll think about it.” He answered.

 

“That’ll not good enough!”

 

“It’s all I’ve got now.”

 

Rey swallowed, and chewed on her lip for a few moments.

 

“Then I want a proper trial, with witnesses and testimonies, not just the council taking one look at him and putting him away for life.”

 

“While I can’t, nor will I guarantee that that won’t be their decision anyway, yes there will be a proper trial. When are you bringing him in?”

 

“When is your big ‘we won the war’ speech?”

 

"Tomorrow afternoon, Theed time, Naboo.”

 

“Then tomorrow afternoon you’ll have him.” Rey said, then her lips moved up into a little smirk, “How’s the triangulation going?”

 

“It’s pinging all over the system. How did you do that?”

 

“Take my deal and find out.”

 

“Tempting!” Poe huffed, “Why are you doing this, Rey?”

 

Rey told him about the Force Being, about true balance, about stopping wars and Poe realized the reason why she hasn’t told him earlier was because it would reveal where they were hiding.

 

Poe chuckled, right under our nose .

 

Chapter Text


From the time Chewie left Ashkarah, promising to let them know when the war was over, and the day he could deliver the news, six standard days had passed.

 

Six days they would not have had together otherwise, days that were spent loving, fighting, laughing, but most of all living.



Day one, Ashkarah


Ben looked at Chewie, who seemed to be lost for words. He didn’t know what would be the Wookiee’s reaction to hearing about the Force Being, about the true balance and especially about his plan, for the Wookiee had remained silent and had given very few clues as to what he was thinking all the while Ben had brought him up to date with the events of the past few days.

 

“I’m proud of you.” Chewie finally said, and a ball of warmth hit Ben’s chest while at the same time a thousand needles pricked at his eyes. He couldn’t remember the last time someone said that to him, and those the words coming from Chewie’s mouth, as the last living member of his old family, meant so, so much.

“You’re putting the good of the Galaxy ahead of your own wellbeing, you’re owning up for all the wrongs you’ve done, and are willing to pay for them, Ben, that is real courage and growth.”

 

Chewie put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “I’m proud of you, and I know your parents would have been too.”

 

Ben averted his gaze and swallowed, tears were threatening to spill out, but he fought them.

“I’ll do my best to help you however I can.” The Wookiee said.

 

“There’s something I need to ask of you.” Ben said, as he looked back up at the  Wookiee, he didn’t want to ask anything of him, and he wouldn’t have, if it were for himself, but it wasn’t. “I know I have no right to ask anything of you, but I have to.”

 

Chewie stared him down for a few moments, then nodded.

 

“Once the war is over,” Ben said, then stopped to chew on the inside of his lip, his gaze down “so will my life. At least the life I’ve come to know with Rey, I don’t know what my future will hold beyond the day she turns me in. Rey’s hopeful, but I’m more realistic… I’ve done a lot of bad things, the punishment will fit my crimes.”

 

He swallowed and continued. “I won’t be around for her, and she can’t be alone again, she’ll need her friends, Finn, Rose, you . She’s strong and powerful and can take care of herself, but she still needs friends and a feeling of belonging, a purpose.” He paused and rubbed his lips together,  “She can’t spend her life waiting on me, she already spent most of her life waiting…” Ben trialed off, getting the words out was harder than he had thought, every other word seemed to choke on the knot in his throat.

 

“I hope I’m not asking too much, but I need you to help her, be the rock she’ll need to lean on, and no matter what my sentence will be, she needs to teach the true ways of the Force… maybe you can persuade her to do so, you and Finn, and Rose.” Ben looked up at the Wookie, his eyes pleading.

 

“I’ll make sure she won’t be alone, and I’ll help her find her way. She’ll be okay Ben, we’ll make sure of it.” Chewie promised.

 

“Thank you!” Ben said, lowering his gaze. “That’s all I want,”  and it was, he had accepted his fate, now his focus was solely on building a life for Rey.

 

Ben felt Chewie wrap an arm around his back and pulling him closer. The Wookiee’s hand moved up and down his arm in comfort, and Ben looked up at his uncle.  

 

“There’s also the matter of your father’s share of our credits.”   

 

Ben raised his eyebrows at that.

 

“We haven’t done all those jobs in the past forty years for free.” Chewie said with pride in his voice.

 

“To be honest, I never thought you were very financially successful in your endeavors.”

 

Chewie growled, offended.

 

“How many credits?”

 

“Enough to last a few years. They’re yours now.”

 

“I can’t take them,  even if I wanted to, once Rey turns me in everything that’s in my name, both my names, will be seized.”

 

Chewie smiled, his sharp teeth showing in the process.

 

Ben smiled too, as soon as he realized where Chewie was going with this.

 

“Oh, you’re giving them to Rey!” Ben’s heart swelled with happiness, she would need a lot of credits to build the school and housing, to cover living expenses for her and all the students.

Credits, or the lack there of had been one of his main concerns for Rey’s future, and now the weight of that worry had been lifted, at least for a while.

 

“When will you give them to her?”

 

“After…” Chewie said.

 

After. After whatever it was that was about to happen to him, after his sentencing.

 

“Thank you, Chewie!” He said with warmth in his voice.

 

“Don’t thank me.”

 

Ben bowed his head. His father’s last gift to him.

 

“Thanks, dad.” He thought.

 

Chewie gave him a pat on the back, then they walked back to the underground chambers together. Ben couldn’t help but notice that the uneasiness they felt around each other was starting to lift. He wasn’t foolish enough to think that their relationship was mended, it wasn’t, but he hoped they were at least starting to patch it up.

 

In the underground, on what Ben considered their poor-excuse-of-a-dining-table, Rey was busy unpacking the many supplies that she had asked from Chewbacca.


Day two, Theed, Naboo

 

Buried between sixty-eight other reports, Poe found a briefing from Finn. He had been so busy recently, that the only means of communications between the two of them had been Holo messages, never live, always prerecorded.

 

They never seemed to find a time when they were both free, so recorded messages, short and to the point, and a little too bare for Poe’s taste, had become the norm between them.

 

His new role as Resistance leader had taken, and continued to take much more time and effort than he ever thought possible. He wasn’t completely sure how he managed to last so long with the weight of the Galaxy on his shoulders and barely a few hours of sleep per day cycle, but he had. Every time he thought he couldn’t do it, he would think of Leia and how she had done it for so long, and that gave him the strength he needed to carry on.

 

As he opened Finn’s report he wondered why it hadn’t come from Edisa instead, she was the leader of the troopers and she had, reluctantly, agreed to send these daily reports.

 

He read the first few lines and a wave of nausea came over him, the more he read the worst he felt.

 

“Fuck!” He said out loud.

 

He looked at the time of the report, then at the current time, six standard hours had passed. He looked at his schedule, there was an important meeting scheduled in the next twenty standard minutes, then another one, and another. His entire schedule had been planned, sometimes days in advance, sometimes in the last possible second. His free time would only start in four standard hours and it would be merely five hours, that is if no emergency arose. He was so behind on his sleeping that he desperately needed those five hours.

 

He dialed Finn on the holopad, he would ask what happened, how he was doing, how was everyone, and eventually he’d ask about Edisa too.  For the first time in a while, Finn answered straight away.

 

“How is she?” Was the first thing that came out of Poe’s mouth.

 

“She’s alive, but not good. They patched up all they could and put her in a bacta tank, and Maro is even worse, we don’t know if he’ll make it. There are a couple other troopers in the hospital as well, in several stages of wellness.”

 

“Fuck, fuck!” he thought, “But at least she’s still alive. “

 

He never had any real interaction with Maro, but the man seemed to be not only her first in command, but also her friend, she would be devastated if he wouldn’t  make it through. Fuck.

 

“How are you, and Rose, and the rest?” Finn’s briefing had covered all of that, but Poe still found himself asking.

 

“We’re both good. I’m back on the base, Rose is pretty much glued to Edisa’s bedside, or tankside I should say, so I left to take care of some business. We lost some good people today, and we gained others.” Finn rubbed at the back of his neck with one hand and exhaled long and deep. “It’s been a very long day.”

 

“I’m sorry buddy, I am.” Poe said and meant it.

 

“Where’s the hospital?” Poe asked, and Finn told him.

 

With his conversation with Finn over, Poe found himself pacing his office. Fifteen minutes until his meeting would start, right here in his office.

 

“There’s no point in going over, she’s in a bacta tank, she won’t know you’re there, she’s being taken care of and Rose is there.” Poe tried convincing himself.  

 

And the meeting is important!”

 

“All the meetings are important”. Poe argued with himself out loud.

 

There’s nothing between you and her, you just fucked twice, and when you talk, more often than not you butt heads.” The other side of him countered.

 

“Then why do I wanna see her so bad?”

 

A knock on the door pulled Poe away from his thoughts.

 

“Come in.” He said.

 

The choice had been made for him.

 

*

 

He hadn’t canceled any of his meetings, they were too important. The outcome of this war was what mattered most, more than her, more than himself, but four and a half hours later he wrapped his hand around the door knob of  a hospital room and twisted it gently.

It was way past everyone’s bed time, including his, and he knew he’d hate himself in the morning as he wrestled to get out of bed, but he’d probably hate himself more if he hadn’t shown up.

 

His eyes scanned the room as the door cracked open. What he had thought would be just her room, was a long intensive care unit with four bacta tanks on each side. He entered and closed the door behind him, careful not to make any noise.

 

In the first tank to his right he saw her.  

 

He was familiar with bacta tanks, although he had never been in one himself, he had had plenty of his friends suspended inside one at some point. Edisa was not suspended, she was strapped down, her feet apart, almost touching the glass walls of the not too wide tank. One look further up her body, at the metal spikes that were coming out of her femur and were welded into the thick metal bar that was parallel to her leg, made him realize that she was probably strapped down for her own safety and to facilitate the healing of her leg bone. The brown skin around her femur had turned to purple and dark blues, and as he looked further up her body he saw that most of her skin was painted in those two colors, plus another dozen shades of blues and reds, her beautiful brown skin barely peeking through the palette of bruises.

 

She looked a mess of blue and red and purple covered in white underwear and breast binder. One of her eyes was swollen shut and she had a scar parting her brow in two, the rest of her face was covered by the breathing mask, and he couldn’t tell if that was a blessing in disguise.  

 

Poe rubbed his hands over his face, then looked up at the tall ceiling and swallowed. He shook his head, trying to get the intrusive thoughts out of his mind and noticed Rose laying asleep on a chair next to Edisa’s tank.

 

He thought about waking her up but decided against it. He didn’t know how long Rose had been awake for, but he imagined she needed the rest and there was no point in her knowing he had been here.

 

He moved slowly, quietly towards Edisa’s tank. When he reached it, he placed the palm of his right hand on it.

 

He took another look at Edisa, swallowed and muttered something under his breath, then left the room, heading for the nurses station.

 

There was nothing he could do for her, but he could make sure she got the best treatment she could, she and Maro too.


Day two, Ashkarah

 

“And that’s how you sever ones’ connection with the Force.” Ben said matter-of-factly, as he finished describing to Rey the process of the Sever Force.

 

Rey looked at him, but said nothing, her brow was slightly furrowed and he couldn’t quite tell if it was because of the high noon sun in the open clearing, or because she was upset with him, again. Given the subject of the matter, he decided the sun had little to do with it.

 

“If you knew how to do it, why didn’t you do it to Snoke?” He heard her ask.

 

“Knowing and being able to do it are two different things. Snoke was stronger than me, I doubt I could have done it, and the only other Force sensitive person around was you, and I couldn’t do that–“

 

“And yet you ask me to do it.” She interrupted him.

 

She had been very clear with him that she did not want to take the Force away from him and he couldn’t blame her, he wouldn’t want to be in her position either, although the position he found himself in was far worse.

 

“Do you want to do a test run?” He asked, ignoring her question.

 

Rey crossed her arms tightly and leaned her head to the side. “Do I want to do a test run?” She retorted, her voice loud, her brow furrowed.

 

“I’ll take that as a no.” Ben said, and felt relieved. He didn’t know what to expect from it. In his research, over the years, he found that there were few first hand accounts and the ones that existed were very different. Having the Force stripped from you was a highly personal experience, but he knew it would be painful, very painful. He didn’t want to go through it twice, he didn’t really want to go through it once, but that was the price he had to pay.

 

Rey uncrossed her arms, and moved her weight from on foot to the other. “Are we done here?” She asked.

 

Ben nodded and watched Rey leave the clearing. He imagined her feet would lead her to their home, the underground chambers, but he was wrong, Rey made a sharp turn to the left and headed for the lake and Ben realized she had to be more upset than he had thought.

 

He huffed and followed her with his eyes until he lost her inside the foliage, all the while wondering if he should go after her. Maybe she needed some time to herself, but time was such a prized commodity for them, and so scarce, Chewbacca could call on them any minute and inform them that the war was over, and with it his life.

 

He followed her footsteps with his and found her on the bank of the lake, where he had planned for their house, their home to be, eventually, hopefully . In truth, he had made those plans just for her and whoever it was that she’d choose to share her home with, be it her friends or even another .

 

He dreaded the thought of her finding another.

 

He hoped she’d find another, someone untainted, someone better. Someone that could give her everything she'd ever want.

 

What they shared was beyond words like love or commitment or belonging, she felt like an intrinsic part of him, and he knew he was a part of her too, yet he desperately hoped that somehow , once their bond was gone, she would be able to move on with her life and leave him behind.

 

He wanted her to lead a full, happy life and he couldn’t give her that, not while behind bars on some faraway planet. She had spent most of her life until now waiting, it wasn’t fair to her to spend the rest of her life from now on doing the same, no matter that this time she would wait for someone that loved her even more than he loved himself.

 

He knew he would never let go of his love for her, not while there was breath left inside him, not after becoming one with the Force, never. As long as there would be a part of him that survived, that part would always love her. Yet, knowing all that, he still hoped that she could let go of him.

 

The thought of someone besides him touching her, making love to her, absolutely revolted him, but that didn’t matter, her happiness was all that mattered, so he hoped she’d find happiness with another , eventually.

 

He took a seat on the hard granite rock, their hips an arm's length away from each other.

 

For all the means of communication they had at their disposal, they were very bad at talking about their near future. Maybe because it was so bleak and the mention of it rose so many bad feelings in both of them. Whatever the reason, it didn’t matter, it had to stop.

 

He had set up the backup plan with Chewbacca the other day, but that didn’t mean he could ignore the growing wedge between them that was his plan and her aversion to it. They needed to work things through, to have a proper talk, one that didn’t end with one of them leaving in anger.

 

He hoped he could persuade her to do what was right for the Galaxy, regardless of his fate, but he knew he would have to take things slow, or as slow as he could with the little time he had left.

 

He found himself selfishly wishing that the war would continue until they worked out all their issues.

 

“You’re sitting on my desk.” She informed him, her eyes still looking forward, towards the lake.

 

“I am?” Ben questioned. “Where are you sitting?”

 

“On a block of granite.”

 

Ben chuckled at that.

 

“I’m sorry.” Rey said and that surprised him, he expected he’d be the one to apologize, not her.

 

“I just don’t wanna do that to you, nor do I want to lose you.”

 

“I know, but maybe…” Ben started, “maybe you should start accepting the possibility that you might have to.”

 

“No!”

 

Ben didn’t relent, “Maybe to all those plans you’re weaving, you should add a few where I’m not in them.”

 

“Ben!” She objected, turning to face him.

 

Ben lifted his shoulders in a soft shrug.

 

“Did you think I was bluffing when I said I won’t do what the Force Being wants me to do if I lose you?”

 

“No, but I think you should dig deep inside you and find the old Rey, the one that would do what’s right for the Galaxy.”

 

She huffed at that.

 

“We have the opportunity to change the lives of all the Force sensitive people in the Galaxy, present and future ones, we can even stop wars.” He said with wonder in his voice, “That is an amazing legacy to leave behind, even if it demands such a high price. I’m willing to pay it, Rey, when the time comes I hope you are too.”

 

Rey moved her chin around, as if ruminating on his words, and Ben couldn’t help but recognize his facial tic on her face.

 

“They say couples start to look like each other as time passes,” he said trying to lighten the mood.

 

Rey frowned at him and Ben moved his chin around the same way she had, and it seemed his meaning finally dawned on her.

 

“If that’s true, you’re screwed.” He said, with a smile on his face.

 

Rey narrowed her eyes at him, “You’re an idiot, Ben Solo, did you know that?”

 

Ben burst into a short chuckle. “What did I do now?”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with the way you look!” She said scooting over to his side.

 

“It’s the love talking, it has altered your vision.” Ben said leaning back, away from her.

 

“What if your nose gets longer?” he added a little smile in his voice, “And crooked.”

 

Rey huffed and inched closer, their knees touching, her body leaning over his.

 

“What if your ears start to grow?” He said as Rey climbed over him.

 

“Stop talking!”  She demanded, her lips finding his.

 

“What if…” Ben started but didn’t finish, his voice muffled by her lips, her tongue working its way inside his mouth.



Day three, Ashkarah

 

In the past few days, while the days had been just about as hot as usual on this planet, the mornings and evenings had gotten colder and colder.  

 

Sometime in the night the weather had turned much, much colder than usual, and even with the heat insulation the underground offered, the cold had creeped in, biting at every exposed patch of skin, making Rey and Ben take cover under the blankets, making them huddle even closer together, until their naked bodies wrapped tightly around each other for warmth.

 

It was late morning and they were still in bed together. Rey was lazily kissing her way up and down his abdomen, her body, low on his body, most of her completely under the cover of the blankets, the only part of her exposed to the elements, her feet.

 

She could feel the cold biting at her toes, but she didn’t mind it, she had known worse, on Jakku, where a few months out of the year the hot desert turned freezing cold at night, and on Ahch-To, where the cold rain soaked you to the bone and branded a relentless shiver inside your soul. This cold was dry and crisp and almost pleasant.

 

She cheerfully dangled her feet off the low mattress as her mouth made work of his body, she loved how her lips made each of his muscles seem to jolt and contract as she traced the curvature of his abdomen.

 

The corners of her lips twitched up, and a little spark danced in her eyes as a wicked thought crossed her mind.

 

She placed her lips at the middle of his waist and to the side, where the two plains of his body, front and back met, right where it seemed her touches had the most effect, and blew, hard , making wet, fart-like noises as his skin vibrated under her lips.  

 

Ben yelped, his body folding like an accordion in an instant.

 

“You little sleemo!” he exclaimed, grabbing her by the waist and getting her off of him, throwing her back on her side of the bed, covers and all.

 

“You’re ticklish!” Rey laughed with absolute delight, making her way out from under the covers.

 

“I am not!” He countered.

 

“Oh no? Let’s try that again!” She said, already making a beeline for his abdomen.

 

He grabbed her again, and threw her back, and Rey was laughing so hard she was wheezing.

 

“You will forget this entire thing,” Ben said waving a hand in her face, and there were actual tears of laughter running down her face.

 

“I’m glad one of us is enjoying this,” He said, but her laughter seemed to have infected him as well.

 

While Rey composed herself, he pulled the blankets from underneath her and covered himself up.

 

She scooted over to him, her laughter finally dying out, and he narrowed his eyes at her, weary.

 

“Truce, I promise.” She said, laying her head oh his shoulder, then wiggling the top of her head towards his face, his lips.

 

He pulled the covers over her body too, protecting it from the cold.

 

“Where’s my kiss?” She asked looking up at him.

 

“Your kiss?”

 

“I should always get a kiss when I put my head on your shoulder.” She loved his top-of-the-head kisses, they were pure and loving, and it made her soul fill with warmth whenever he’d gift her one.

 

“Oh! Well, you don’t deserve one now,” he declared, his voice soft.

 

Rey looked up at him, her eyes wide, her bottom lip curled down. “But…but…” she said, faking distress.

 

“Now, that’s emotional blackmail and it’s not gonna work.”

 

She blinked at him, in a I have no idea what you’re talking about way.

 

“Still no.” He said with a little chuckle.

 

Rey pouted some more, just a little disappointed that she hadn’t gotten what she wanted.

 

“What shall we do today?” She asked, tracing the outline of his left nipple with one fingertip, under the covers.

 

“Is there anything you want to do?” He asked.

 

“Have breakfast!”

 

Ben chuckled and kissed the top of her head and Rey purred at that.

“After breakfast, there’s one thing I’d like to do.” He said.

 

“What’s that?”

 

“I want to start working on the school, or the house.”

 

Rey’s face turned instantly up at him, “I’ve told you, that weighs on whether or not–”

 

“Yes, Rey I know,” He breathed out, sounding frustrated “but regardless, I really want to start the build before I have to leave here.”

 

She lowered her gaze and thought about his words. She knew what he was doing, even without searching his mind. He was both making sure she’d be okay, once he was gone, and guiding her towards what he wanted her to do, teach the true ways of the Force.

 

Rey felt torn, a part of her appreciated his worry and planning for her future, the other was angry at him for not putting that effort into finding a way out of their conundrum, a path where they wouldn’t be separated, where she wouldn’t have to take the Force away from him, and they would still be able to do what the Force Being had asked of them.

 

She had been racking her brain, focusing on trying to come up with ways to keep him out of prison and only coming up with half baked ideas. She could really use some help, and he offered none.

 

Yet, for all her complaining and unwillingness to teach without him, since he had shown her his plans for the school and the house, since he had put in her head that the old Rey would have done what’s right for the Galaxy, she had thought about the Force a lot and started to realize the importance of bringing it to true balance. But she wasn’t going to admit that, and even so, if she lost Ben forever, she planned to keep the promise she had made to the Force Being, just out of spite.

 

She hated being angry with him over his resigned attitude, especially now, when their days were numbered. She truly wished she could control her feelings better, after all, he was the one getting the short end of the stick. He’d be locked up, and without the Force and their connection, he’d be so alone. She knew how much he hated that, and how great of a toll it would take on him, her heart broke for him, and for herself, there was nothing she hated more than the thought of losing him. Tears started dancing in her eyes.

 

She decided to grant him this wish, and whatever other reasonable wishes he’d have while they were still together.

 

“We don’t have any building materials.” She said, her voice cracking just a little.

 

“We can start by clearing the area.”

 

Rey discreetly wiped the tear that was making its way down her face and towards his chest.

 

“We can do that.” She said, her voice even more cracked. She hoped he wouldn’t notice.

 

He kissed the top of her head again, and she knew he had and that just made her tear up ever more.

 

*


They could see the sun setting above them as they laid spread out, their backs down on the cold, granite bedrock, only their fingers touching, the crisp evening air cooling their sweat soaked bodies as the wind moved over them. They had just finished clearing the plot for the house and although they had used only the Force, they were both mentally and physically exhausted.

 

“That was a lot harder than I thought it would be.” Rey said, her brow covered in beads of sweat and muck.

 

“I concur.” Ben said. He did not expect uprooting the impressively large trees and removing the top soil to be as taxing as it had been, but he was glad for the effort. He needed to feel useful and helpful and he desperately wanted to leave something behind for her. He needed to make sure that she would be okay without him. Starting work on the house and the school was his way of doing that.

 

“We should wash up before it gets too cold.” Rey suggested, and started moving the tip of her fingers out of his hand.

 

“Not yet!” He said, grabbing a hold of her fingers and pulling them down back on the granite.

 

He needed to have a talk with Rey, a serious one that he dreaded. He would do it, just as soon as he gathered his thoughts and found the nerve.

 

He heard the clock in his head again, and this time its ticks and tocks seemed to be much closer together than before, like it was accelerating, like they were running out of time.

 

Tick-tock.

 

There was no point in delaying what he had to say, word of the war ending could come any minute and tear them apart.

 

“I need you to be okay with the plan.” He finally said.

 

He turned his body to the side and looked at her, his fingers never leaving hers. She turned her head to look at him, but said nothing.

 

“I’m sorry that choosing the well-being of the Galaxy over myself also means hurting you,” he said, giving her fingers a soft squeeze. “That’s the last thing I want to do, but… I have to, and if I do all that and you refuse to teach the ways of the Force, then my sacrifice would have been for nothing.”

 

Rey frowned and turned her head to look up at the orange sky, averting her gaze. Ben was dying to know what she was thinking but he wasn’t going to pry into her mind, he’d wait and have her tell him.

 

On the trail end of that thought he saw tears running out of the corner of her eye and down to her temple.

 

He said nothing, just caressed one of her fingers, then he noticed Rey setting her jaw before speaking, her voice a little shaky.  “I made the Force Being a promise, I intend to keep it.”

 

“Rey…”

 

“No! Don’t ‘ Rey’ me!”

 

“That’s all I have left, you’re no help in trying to find a way out of this, all my ideas are half baked and they probably won’t do any good….” She shook her head and exhaled loudly. “That threat, that promise, is the only assurance I have that the Force Being will work to keep you out of a life sentence.”

 

“If it’s not a life sentence, will you teach?”

 

“Yes.” She answered, faster than he thought she would.

 

“And would you wait?”

 

“For you? Yes!”

 

“How long?”

 

“However long it takes.”

 

Ben swallowed around the knot in his throat.  He realized that Rey only knew how to love one way, passionately and with everything she had. She had loved her worthless parents like that, waiting for them for most of her life, keeping her hair and clothes in the same style, hoping they would come back, recognize her, take her away from the hell that was Jakku and love her back. She loved her friends like that too, and now she loved him like that, or maybe even more than that, and he wondered if he had ever felt more loved than with her, than by her.

 

He hadn’t.  

 

Tick-Tock the clock in his head played again, and Ben thought it was asking him if it was fair for her to have her life wasted away waiting for him.

 

“I don’t want you to wait for me.” He said, forcing the words out of his mouth.

 

Rey turned to look at him in an instant, her fingers pulling out of his hand. “What are you saying?”

 

He wished she hadn’t done that and balled his now empty hand into a fist.

 

“I could be gone for decades, you’ve already wasted more than one of those waiting for your parents, you don’t deserve to have the rest wasted waiting on me.” He wished her fingers were still in his hand, he wanted to touch a part of her as he spoke. “I want you to lead a happy, fulfilling life and you can’t do that if you’re waiting on me.” He sighed.

 

“Once our Force connection is gone, maybe then it would be easier to let go of what we have…” His tongue refused to utter the next words, but he made it do it nonetheless, he couldn’t be selfish, not with her. “And maybe in time, you’ll find another to share your life with.”  

 

The words had tasted like bile on his tongue, but he needed Rey to hear them, just in case she would needed them at one point.

 

Rey moved to sit at that, wrapping one leg over the other, in an almost meditative position.

 

Ben did the same, but he just crossed his long legs at the ankles.

 

Rey was looking at him with a mix of puzzlement and anger, her face reminding him of the one she made the first time their bond opened on Ahch-To. “Is that how you feel? That our love will expire once the Force bond is gone? Are you going to stop loving me?”

 

“No! Never!” He answered in an instant. He could have tried lying to her, even though he wasn’t absolutely sure he could do that, but the thought of not loving her was so outlandish that his response had been automatic.

 

“Then why do you think I can?”

Ben lowered his gaze.

 

“Tell me!” She demanded.

 

He wasn’t sure what to say.

 

Rey let out a short, frustrated growl.

 

“Gods, Ben, what do I have to do for you to understand that you’re it? Force bond or not, together or apart, you are what I want. It will still be you, tomorrow, a year from now, or 10-20-40 years. It will always be you.”

 

Ben moved his chin around, chewing on her words, his heart both soothed and torn by them.

 

“It will always be you too, until the day I die and beyond.” He said, as the last ray of the sun disappeared under the horizon, “But when you love someone, you have to think of their needs first. That’s why I half hoped, half dreaded that you’d learn to let me go and find someone else, so you wouldn’t be alone.”

 

Rey sighed deeply, then put a hand on his knee.

 

“I know what you’re doing.”

 

“What am I doing?” He asked frowning  at her.

 

“You’re being a porg!”

 

“A what?”

 

“On Ahch-To, there were these silly native birds, porgs, they used to nest like crazy. I turned around for a second and the Falcon filled up with porg nests, it drove Chewie absolutely crazy.” Rey huffed, amused, then shook her head, as if trying to get back on track.

 

“The point is that they were nesters. You’re building a nest for me, right here on this plot of land, and you’re so single minded about it that you’re adding to it things I don’t want, like someone that isn’t you .”

 

Maybe he had been a porg, he thought, but it was for her own good.

 

“I needed you to know that it’s okay, to live a full life without me.” He said putting his hand over her hand, looking up into her eyes.

 

Rey removed her hand from his knee and replaced it with her head. “Can there be a full life for us, if one is without the other?”

 

“All I want is for you to be happy,” he said as his fingers combed her hair, “that’s why I desperately hope that there can be for you.”

 

“You’re wrong. I know this is coming from a place of love, that’s why I’m not too upset about it, but Ben, you need to stop thinking you know what’s best for me.”

 

Ben gritted his teeth, maybe he didn’t know what she thought was best for her, but he knew that waiting on him was a bad idea, nonetheless he remained silent.

 

“You said you needed me to be okay with the plan, I don’t think I can ever be okay with it, but if you stop talking about how you don’t want me to wait for you, and especially stop mentioning another, then I won’t fight the plan, and tomorrow we can even start clearing the plot for the school.” Rey said then looked up at him, the orange sky now  dark blues.

 

It seemed to Ben that that was the best she could offer..

 

“Deal,” he said and kissed her forehead. He wiped his mouth a second later, her brow had been sweaty and salty and there was sand and dirt on his lips from it.

 

“We should wash up.” He said.

 

“I did say that about twenty minutes ago, when the sun was still out, and it was still warm enough.” She complained.

 

He wrapped an arm around her waist and another around the back of her knees, then got up from the standing position with her in his arms.

 

“Now it’s getting dark, and it’s cold.” She continued complaining.

 

Ben moved towards the edge of the granite, where about fifteen feet below, the lake rippled in dark blues and greens.

 

“What are you doing?” She questioned, looking up at him, then down at the lake.

 

Ben gave her a smile, the toes of his feet were already over the edge.

 

“Don’t you dare!” She warned as she tried to get out of his arms.

 

He pressed her closer to him. “Hold your nose.”

 

“Ben! No! You’re not–”

 

Ben jumped with her in his arms, and Rey screamed all the way down.


Day six, Ashkarah

 

By the time Rey had made it back to Ashkarah, she and Ben had barely twelve hours left to spend together; a third of which would be spent just getting to Naboo.

 

Over the dinner Ben had waiting for her when she had arrived, she had informed him of her talk with Poe, careful not to mention the deal she had offered the Resistance leader if he commuted some of Ben’s prison time.

 

They were sitting on the same side of the adobe table, their elbows almost touching and for the first time since she could remember, there was food in front of her and she wanted none of it. All her hunger had disappeared and and she was just mindlessly moving her food around the plate.

 

She felt his hand on top of hers and looked up at him.

 

Outside the weather had turned, the wind was howling through the trees and Rey found it fitting, for on the inside, she was howling too. Howling at the Force, at Ben, at Poe, at herself. Howling in anger and despair, but mostly in pain.

 

Ben looked at her while he rubbed a finger over her knuckles and it seemed to her that underneath the facade of bravery he had on, his soul was howling too.

 

She gave him the best smile she could muster, it was small, pained and barely there, and he smiled back at her, his smile just as pained.

 

She wanted to howl on the outside too, but what was the point?

 

Instead she grabbed his hand in hers and got up from the table, pulling him after her. She stopped by their bed and took off her clothes, one by one, slowly, while never breaking eye contact. When she was naked in front of him, she started undressing him, slowly, debibralatly, her eyes focused on his.

 

She laid on the bed and beckoned him, and he followed. She moved their bodies around until he was sitting on his behind, his back up and straight and she was straddling his lap.

 

She caressed the side of his face with the back of three fingers and he leaned into her touch.

 

Her soul was vibrating with the love she felt for this man and the pain of losing him was causing her.

 

A tear was splitting her cheek in two as she wrapped the same hand around the nape of his neck and kissed him.

 

It was slow and steady and anchoring. She had willingly tied herself to him, both many years ago and just weeks ago, and days, and just now, and she would do it again tomorrow and every day after that, for all eternity.

 

She felt him growing between her legs and rubbed herself on him. He kissed her deeper, pulling her closer to him.  

 

She lifted herself off of him long enough to guide him inside her and breathed a sigh in his mouth as she felt him slide in.

 

She kissed him again, then stopped. She sandwiched his face between her hands and looked deep into his eyes as she started moving her hips, slowly.

 

She wasn’t looking for the release of an orgasm, what she wanted was connection, and there it was, taking root in golden hues.

 

She was inside his mind and felt everything he was feeling, and she knew he was doing the same. It was strange, every other time they had been inside each other’s minds they had felt the other’s presence, or a trace of it, but not when they were making love. That was when they couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began, it was when she felt her soul both singing and radiating warmth. Their connection was deep and powerful, primordial even, and they were about to lose it. How empty and cold would life feel without it, and without him.

 

Rey’s eyes began to sting, and even though she fought it, another tear managed to slip out. Ben’s finger was there to wipe it away as soon as it left her eye and that only made her tear up all the more.

 

She felt Ben lift up a hand and hers moved to his, their fingers intertwining.

 

“Together.” She heard him say inside her mind.

 

“Always.” She answered.

 

Those were the same words they had uttered to each other the first night they had made love outside of the Force bond, and for Rey they had been more than just two simple words, they had been the vows of their love, the seal on their union.

 

Unlike that night, they didn’t fall down on the bed, laughing, instead they wrapped their arms tightly around the other, their backs washed from time to time by the other’s tears.


Day six, Theed, Naboo

 

Poe  Dameron did not have a personal vendetta against Kylo Ren, he did not feel the need to repay the former Supreme Leader for torturing him, and somewhere along the way he had stopped blaming him for Leia’s death too, even shifted the blame on himself slightly.

 

But that didn’t mean that he didn’t hate Kylo Ren, he did, and he couldn’t understand why others like Rey, or Edisa didn’t hate him just as much. Poe’s hatred for him sprung from having watched the man order the extermination of an entire village on Jakku, from witnessing his friends deaths on the Raddus, from having most of the Resistance wiped out on Crait, but most of all, he utterly despised him for the destruction of the Hosnian system. Billions and billions of innocent lives lost in an instant. All of that and Rey had the audacity to demand his sentence be served in exile, instead of in a prison.

 

No, Kylo Ren had to pay for all he had done, and Poe Dameron would make sure of it, still he would not go back on his word with Rey, he would remove the death penalty. After all, death would have been instantaneous, but rotting away, alone in a cell for many, many years, or hopefully, his entire life, felt like a much more fitting punishment.

 

He did not fully believe Rey’s story about the Force being unbalanced for millennia and especially about how that had lead to Galactic level wars, but he believed that she believed it. She had to, otherwise he couldn’t imagine her taking the Force away from someone she loved. He hadn’t know such a thing to be possible and had spent some time researching the Force Sever. On all the holo-net he had found only two mentions of it, but from reputable sources.

 

He would not put the fate of the Galaxy in those sources, nor would he just trust Rey to perform the Force Sever on her boyfriend, so he would have a Force sensitive person there when the deed was to take place, make sure she kept her promise.

 

And if she hadn’t? If she were to just fake the Force Sever, what then? He’d have to be sneaky about it, he could not come out and accuse her on the spot, her and Kylo Ren could turn on him and everyone present. No, he’d keep it quiet, and just as quietly go back on his word and remove Kylo Ren from the Galaxy for good.

 

As for her…

 

Gods, he didn’t want to think of that. He hoped that all of this wasn’t some sort of trick they were playing, but if it was, he would be ready.


Day seven, Theed, Naboo

The day of Surrender

 

As soon as they entered Naboo’s atmosphere, Rey and Ben’s ship was caught in a tractor beam and slowly guided down for landing.

 

“They’re cautious,” Ben said looking up at Rey, in the pilot seat. They each had roles to play, he was the prisoner and she his captor, and they started playing them as soon as they had left Ashkarah.

 

“I would be too, in their place.” He continued.

 

“Yeah,” Rey said, absentmindedly.

 

Ben opened his mouth to speak but Rey interrupted him.

 

“Please don’t tell me ‘it’s going to be okay’ , cause it’s not.” She said, her voice cracking on the last word.

 

Ben forgot what he was going to say, the devastated look on Rey’s face broke his heart and made him forget about everything that wasn’t her.

 

He wrapped her hand in his. He wanted to hug her and hold her tight and never let her go, but that time was gone, it had ended the moment they left Ashkarah.

 

He wouldn’t lie to her either, it wasn’t going to be okay, but…

 

“You’re the strongest person I know, Rey, you can do this.” He assured her, squeezing her hand.

 

Rey sniffled and nodded.

 

Through the cockpit window, buildings had started to take shape, it was almost time for landing.

 

He got up from his seat, and pulled her by the hand towards the ship’s hanger bay.

 

Soon they would open the doors, their hands would break apart and they’d have to let go of one another, but not yet. They still had a few moments together.

 

Ben lifted her up with one arm wrapped around her waist and kissed her like it was the last time he’d ever kiss her.  It was long and deep and full of love and longing and despair.

 

When the ship shook as it finally landed, he let her go.

 

“I love you!” he said as he put her feet back on the ground.

 

“I love you too!” she said, looking up at him.

 

He gave her hand one last squeeze, then let go if it.

 

With one twitch of a hand he opened the hangar bay doors.

 

Outside, in front of the just opened door, stood a man he did not recognize and of course, Poe Dameron.  

 

Four dozen heavily armed guards surrounded them and their ship.

 

Rey put her hand on the small of his back and guided him out of the ship like a prisoner.

 

Chapter Text

 

As Rose walked the long, semi-ornate corridors to her and Finn’s new quarters, she couldn’t help but feel tired, physically and mentally. Besides the one mission her, Finn and a handful of other troopers had gone on while Edisa had been in the bacta tank, she had spent most of her time either by Edisa’s and Maro’s side, or with the troopers they had rescued. Rose wasn’t sure what was more broken, the bodies of her friends or the minds and souls of the troopers.

 

Somehow she had found herself being a sort of counselor for the troopers, working with them, trying to bring them back from the conditioning.

 

There wasn’t anything she could do for them medically, that task had been accepted by a few of Naboo’s doctors and scientists, but just talking to them about their experience as troopers had seemed to help them process what had happened to them. She had come to realize that for some of them, either their conditioning or their nature, or maybe both, had turned them into real monsters, and for them, it was too late, there was no turning back.

 

After being liberated from the First Order, some of them had started to question their actions on their own and had seemed haunted and hollow, and Rose had been there to offer them comfort and understanding.

 

It was a mentally consuming task, but she had never felt more helpful and needed, and the ones that could be reached gave her the strength to keep going.

 

She hadn’t worked on a ship since landing on Naboo and realized she hadn’t missed it much.

She thought that maybe her training as an engineer, trying to get to the root of the problem then working out a solution, had helped her in dealing with the troopers and with people in general, and she was thankful for that.

 

With the war so close to the end, she imagined there would be less need for war ship engineers, but they would need people that could help heal others, mentally if not physically.  

 

She was on her way back from a trooper group session and she needed to rest her mind a little before going over to check on Edisa and Maro, who were doing much better. She was out of the tank and improving fast and Maro was better too, out of the woods, but still very much convalescent.

 

She opened the door to their new quarters, the ones that their Naboo liaison, Tarnak, had acquired for them, at Poe’s request, she suspected. It was much fancier than their previous, tiny one-bed-barely-big-enough-for-the-two-of-them chamber. This one was a proper suite, with a living room, a larger bedroom with a decent sized bed and an attached fresher. But it was also further from the trooper barracks. Part of her felt a little ashamed for living in a better place than the rest of the troopers, the other was glad for the separation. She needed time away from the troopers and their problems, dealing with them day and night would have been more than her mind could have handled.

 

She found Finn inside their home and was happily surprised, they had barely seen each other in the past few days, both of them too busy with their own work.

 

He was sitting at his work desk in the living room and didn’t seem to hear her come in, too focused on his holo-pad. She wrapped her arms around him from the back, and he twitched a little in surprise, then kissed the back of her hand and got up.

 

He smiled at her and hugged her tight, while letting out a low groan.

 

“I’ve missed you.” He said in her ear. “I don’t like having to miss you.”

 

“I’ve missed you too,” she said, knowing exactly what he meant.

 

She lifted herself up on her toes and kissed him

 

Finn moaned in her mouth, his hands pulling at her shirt, removing it from the restraints of her belt.

 

Without breaking the kiss, Rose’s hands moved to his belt, her fingers trying to unbuckle it.

 

It had been too long since they’ve done this and she wanted him, needed him to take her mind off of the troopers and their friends.

 

Rose barely managed to not bite Finn’s bottom lip as she jumped up, startled by a loud knock on the door.

 

“Leave it.” Finn said, his fingers still pulling at her shirt.

 

Rose looked at him, she was frustrated by the interruption and wanted to leave it , but they both knew that they couldn’t.

 

Finn grunted as he belted up his pants and Rose shoved her shirt back in her pants.

 

When she opened the door, she found Poe leaning one hand on the door frame.

 

“Must be my day,” Poe said, “I caught the both of you at the same time.”

 

“Come on in,” Rose said, moving out of his way, then closing the door behind her.

 

Finn and Poe exchanged a quick hug, with two pats on the back.

 

“Good seeing you again, feels like forever.” Finn said.

 

“I know what you mean, buddy.” Poe offered with a smile on his face.

 

“What brings you to our humble abode?” Rose asked.

 

She knew Poe was a very busy man, and he did not have the time for house visits, even to his friends.

 

Poe put his hands together, then rubbed them. He bowed his head for a second and nodded, as if finding the words, then settled his eyes on her and Finn.

 

“I thought it best if you heard if from me,” Poe started, his face losing all trace of the previous smile, and Rose’s heart ached already, nothing good ever started with those words, “that Rey and Kylo Ren will be here shortly.”

 

Rose’s eyes widened at that, with the corner of her eyes she noticed Finn’s doing the same.

 

“Alive?” Rose asked and begged whoever was listening for a positive answer.

 

“Yes.”

 

“You caught them?” Finn asked.

 

“No, Rey is bringing him in.”

 

Rose did not expect that, she opened her mouth to say something but found no words leaving it.

 

“She’s what?” Finn asked, frowning. “Why would she do that? It makes no sense!”

 

Finn’s eyes widened further, then narrowed. His nostrils flared right before he spoke.

 

“Is she alright? Did he do something to her?” Finn asked pointing a finger at Poe. He fisted his right hand made an angry movement with it. “I’m gonna fucking kill him!”

 

Rose felt sick to her stomach, “He’ll be good to her, I know it, and if by some chance he won’t be, she’ll come back with his pelt on a stick.” She had said those words to Finn, fully believing that Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo, wouldn’t hurt Rey. Oh gods! Should she have listened to Finn, had she been wrong?

 

Poe opened his mouth to say something, then shook his head, as if removing a thought. “She’s fine, I doubt he hurt her…”

 

Poe groaned, “I don’t know what’s going on with them, between them, but from what I can tell, they’re pretty much head over heels in love. Beats me why though.”

 

Rose exhaled a sigh of relief and snuck a glance at Finn, it seemed like it also beat him.

 

“Anyway, she’s bringing him in to stand trial, and it seemed like a mutual decision, they have their own reasons, I personally think they’re bantha shit, but they seem to believe it.”

 

“That must be one hell of a reason.” Rose thought, then opened her mouth to ask Poe about it.

 

“When does she get here? I wanna see her!” Finn said before she got the chance.

 

Poe shifted his weight from one foot to the other, “That’s actually why I’m here instead of having this talk over holo-net. You can’t.”

 

“What?” Rose asked.

 

“You will, soon, but not as soon as you wish to.”

 

Finn opened his mouth, but Poe continued. “I need to know what happened, I need to get some information out of them, as soon as I find that out, you’re free to talk to her.”

 

Finn set his jaw. “Are you gonna interrogate them like the First Order interrogated you?”

 

Poe frowned, a look of disgust on his face. “No, I’m not! Definitely won’t do that to Rey, and information received under duress is worthless, so there’s no point in torturing the prince of darkness either, although he deserves it.” Poe gave them a look over, then sighed, “Look, just imagine a debriefing, like the ones we all had to do after landing on Naboo.”

 

“When can we see her?” Rose asked, trying to change the subject, even though Poe reassured them he wouldn’t do that, the image of a tortured Rey popped in her head and she needed it out of there as soon as possible.

 

“Probably in a standard day, two at tops.” Poe said, “I’ll tell you as soon as I know.”

 

“Thanks.” Rose said and looked at Finn, who said nothing, just nodded.

 

“I’ll be on my way, they should be arriving soon, and I have a lot of work to do before and after that.” Poe said, making his way to the door.

 

“It was good seeing you, both of you.” He offered before closing the door behind him.

 

“Can we trust he’s telling the truth?” Rose asked a few moments later.

 

Finn kept his eyes on the door for a while, it looked to Rose like he was pondering her words. “I think so.” He finally said.

 

“I thought you’d be more adamant about seeing her sooner than that.”

 

“I want to, but we’re not just a handful of Resistance members off on their own in the galaxy anymore. We can’t afford to get on the New Council’s bad side, we have a lot of ex First Order troopers to think of.”

 

“That’s…” Rose started, looking up at him, “very mature of you.”

 

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Finn said, sounding offended.

 

“It means I’m rubbing off on you.” Rose said, giving him a little adoring smile.

 

Finn grabbed her by the waist and started literally rubbing her on him and Rose giggled as she play slapped his chest.



***



Rey had never seen anything more beautiful and opulent than the city of Theed, Naboo, but she spent no time enjoying it, her mind too preoccupied with Ben and his future.

 

The two of them had been separated soon after landing on Naboo. She had been ushered into a small room with a long metal table and one chair on either side, then left alone.

 

She was surprised how every building seemed to be adorned in some way, even the otherwise barren room she found herself in had raised molding on the walls in the shape of large rectangles and decorative trim where the wall met the ceiling. In two of the four corners, set diagonally from each other, Rey was not surprised to see monitoring holo-cams.

 

She sighed and waited, and waited, and soon got tired of waiting and not knowing what had happened to Ben, so she opened their connection, and saw him sitting and waiting just like she had. Her heart fluttered, she had been worried he would be mistreated, but there were no signs of it on his body.

 

She placed her index finger on her lips as soon as their eyes met and Ben nodded ever so slightly. They couldn’t talk, for she was sure his room was monitored too. She wished they could speak inside the other’s mind, like they had before, but in order to do that, they had to be in close proximity, and mind communication wasn’t possible while their Force Bond was open. So she settled for just looking at him, and he at her.

 

She wanted to reach across the table and hold his hand, but if they both did that, at the same time, even if they were each in their individual rooms, the person monitoring them might catch on and she couldn’t risk anyone knowing of their bond.

 

So instead she put her head on the table and moved a hand under it. Ben’s chair drew closer to the table and one of his hands left it.

 

Away from the view of the holo-cams, under the protection of the metal table, they reached for each other, like they had what seemed like a lifetime ago, in a small, stone hut on a cold and rainy night. Rey squeezed the tip of his fingers and Ben caressed hers with a thumb.

 

We’re gonna get through this too. We have to .” Rey thought to herself.

 

They stayed like that for a while, just holding hands and waiting. She imagined that Poe, along with the council, were giving their big The war is over and we caught Kylo Ren speech and she was glad she didn’t have to hear it, not the Kylo Ren part anyway. She was glad about the war being over, and if the circumstances were different, she would have probably celebrated its end with her friends.

 

Her friends.

 

S he had left things off with Finn badly, and was sorry for it, she hoped they would get to talk soon, she hoped they would reconcile. She missed Rose too, and was yearning to talk to her. Chewbacca was here too, she could almost feel her Wookie friend.

 

She wondered who the council would send to interrogate them, whoever it was, they had to be on their way, unless they were planning on letting them sweat it out. She hoped that wasn’t their plan, it wouldn’t work, it would just irritate her and have her be even less helpful.

She found herself hoping Poe would be the one coming through the door, she didn’t much care for the pilot at this point, but still, it would be a familiar face.

 

Another half standard hour had passed when Ben looked up and to his right and let go of her hand, the movement caught her by surprise and she lost the focus on their Force Bond.

 

It closed on its own and Rey found herself alone in her cell.



***



Finn was lying to Rose, but mostly to himself. Even though he had missed Rey and was looking forward to seeing her, at the same time a big part of him was relieved Poe had provided him with an excuse to postpone their meeting, at least for a few days.

 

They hadn’t parted on the best of terms and Finn feared that when they saw each other again, instead of closing the wedge between them, it would grow much larger.

 

One way or another, when they would meet he would know for sure, and he didn’t think himself ready to find out just yet, but soon.

 

After Poe was done questioning her.

 

Soon, when he wouldn’t be so busy with the troopers.

 

Soon

 

-ish.



***



Rey disappeared a few moments after Poe Dameron entered Ben’s room and he was both disappointed and relieved. She could only see and hear him and not Dameron, so she would get confusing visuals and sound bites. There was no point in having her there, but his main concern was that he didn’t know what to expect from the Resistance Leader. Would he be treated like he had treated Dameron? If so, he didn’t want Rey there to witness it.

 

“Kylo Ren!” Poe exclaimed, putting down his holo-pad and resting his palms on the table, his back hunched down, “I see you’ve taken off your jewelry”  Poe said, moving his chin slightly towards the handcuffs that had once been around Ben’s wrists, but were now sitting on the edge of the metal table.

 

Ben looked into Poe’s eyes as he said “We both know that neither those cuffs, nor the door, nor the handful of guards you have outside mean much to me. I’m in this room, and on this planet because I want to.”  Ben lied, he didn’t really want to, but he had to.

 

“You want me to put them back on, make you feel like you’re in control?”

 

“No.” Poe huffed, less annoyed that Ben thought he would be.

 

“You won’t be able to take them off soon enough.” Poe said narrowing his eyes at him, “That was part of the deal I made with your girlfriend.”

 

The sting of Poe’s jab about having the Force taken from him was shortly replaced with the shock of having someone call Rey his girlfriend for the first time. It felt strange and untrue, while at the same time, veridical. She was his girlfriend, but also so much more than that.

 

Poe pulled his chair out, “Looking good, Ren, being on the run suits you, it seems.”  Poe said with a little twinkle in his eyes.

 

“It seems that leading doesn’t suit you.” Ben said matter of factly, looking him over. Even though it had only been a little over two standard weeks since they had last seen each other on Pashka, the planet on which Edisa had saved the Resistance from extermination, Dameron looked at least a standard year older.

 

“Trying to stop a Galactic war takes something out of you, but you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?” Poe said, taking a seat. “Must be different when you’re leading a genocidal army, I suppose.”

 

Ben snarled at that.

 

Poe grabbed his holo-pad and looked at it for a few moments, then back at Ben.

 

“So tell me Kylo Ren, how did you come to find yourself in this position?” Poe said tilting his chin up slightly, “And start from the beginning.”

 

Ben raised his eyebrows at that. He wondered what exactly Dameron wanted to know, he could try and peer into his mind again, but was sure Dameron would feel the intrusion.

 

There was no start from the beginning , or explaining the events of the past few weeks without mentioning the Force Bond he shared with Rey, and he wasn’t about to do that.

 

Poe leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, waiting.

 

“Care to elaborate on what you mean?” Ben asked, wanting Dameron to narrow his question down to specific events, so he could talk around the Force Bond.

 

“No.”

 

Ben exhaled, “Then neither do I.”

 

Poe smirked at him, then grabbed his holo-pad again.

 

“Okay then, let’s see, the accusations we have against you so far are six counts of murder, your fellow Padawans, I imagine you dispatched of the rest along the way, but we don’t have any sort of proof of that, so we’re moving past it.” Poe narrowed his eyes, “But don’t worry, there’s a lot more coming.”

 

The corner of Ben’s lip lifted in disgust and he swallowed, he didn’t want to hear all the horrible things he’d ever done, he knew them all too well.

 

“Murder,” Poe continued, “Lor San Tekka, on Jakku, and over two dozen of the men, women and children of Tuanul. I witnessed that myself, if you remember. Then the kidnapping and torture of one Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron, then murder and attempted murder of countless sentient beings on Takodana, then kidnapping, torture and attempted murder of Rey of Jakku, though I doubt she’ll want to press charges and testify against you, but like I said before, no worries, this list just keeps giving and giving.”

 

Ben shifted in his chair, uncomfortable, he hated having all his crimes being brought forward. He especially hated hearing Rey’s name on that list.

“Murder of Han Solo and attempted murder of Finn, and that’s just about half of it.” Poe paused for a second. “Did I miss anything?” the rather calm voice Poe had used so far disappeared as he shouted “Oh, yeah, the genocide of the Hosnian System, an entire fucking system with billions of people!”

 

“I had no part in that!” Ben yelled back, slamming a fist down on the table.

 

“Sure you didn’t.”

 

“I. Did. Not!” Ben said again between gritted teeth, getting up from his chair so fast that it fell with a strident clank behind him. He looked at Poe with anger in his eyes, his breath heavy and loud.

 

“There you go, that’s the Kylo Ren I know.” Poe said without flinching, a mix of disgust and triumph in his voice.

 

“That was Hux’s project, I didn’t want any part of it, and tried to stop Snoke from doing it!” Ben argued. He had done a lot of horrible things in his life, but that hadn’t been one of them.

 

Ben straightened his chair up with the Force and sat back down, angry with himself for losing his temper and playing into Poe’s game, or test.

 

“I guess we’ll see about that.” Poe said.

 

Ben exhaled through his nostrils and focused on regaining his composure.  

 

“Over a thousand murder accounts for the people we lost on the Raddus, plus another thirty from the ones on Crait, and of course, Luke Skywalker, then there’s the Outer Rim allies, several hundred. I must admit there’s an impressive trail of blood behind you.”

 

Poe stopped and Ben looked at him for a few blinks of the eye.

 

“You’re in an interesting position here, Dameron.” Ben said, but went no further.

 

Poe looked at him for a while, then gave him a little smirk. “All right, I’ll bite, how do you figure?”

 

“This Galaxy is trillions of years old, but you and the Council are in the position to restart it, at least in one way. From this point on, you could have the Galaxy be governed by the rule of the law, or you could have the New Council’s first act be a total disregard for it, setting a precedent for the less law abiding citizens of the Galaxy.”

 

Poe narrowed his eyes at him, and Ben put his elbows on the table and hunched over it.

 

“If you want this Galaxy ruled under its laws, then the Raddus, Crait, Takodana, Tekka, the Outer Rim rebels, Finn and even my father, all of those were fair game according to the rules of Galactic warfare. We were enemies on different sides of the war, nothing I’ve done to them is a punishable crime. The only thing you have that you can prosecute me for are the Padawans, which were in self defense, the order I gave Phasma on Tuamul, and funny enough torturing you.”

 

“You’re forgetting Luke.”

 

“I didn’t kill Luke, he killed himself trying to save you, and maybe me.” Ben said, contemplative. “He died on Ahch-To, not on Crait.”

 

“Bantha shit!” Poe argued.

 

Ben sighed, and continued with the point he was trying to make, “If you’re okay with the New Council’s first action be a lawless one, then sure, you can blame me for all of those crimes and whatever else you need an escape goat for,” Ben straightened his back, then added, “but I’m sure the thought had crossed your mind.”

 

Poe narrowed his eyes at him, his top lip curled up. “Even so, that’s still enough to put you away for a long, long time and I don’t buy you not having anything to do with the Hosnian genocide, and once I get the proof for that, you won’t ever take another breath as a free man!” Poe said with vitriol, accenting his threat with an index finger.

 

Ben said nothing, just eyed the former pilot.

 

Poe grabbed his holo-pad and made his way to the door. “We’re not done here,” he said and Ben expected him to slam the door shut, but he didn’t.

 

Ben put his hands through his hair, his elbows now back on the cold, metal table. “Well, neither of us is dead” he thought, “so that went better than expected.”

 

He realized that Poe had left without trying to get anything else out of him, even leaving with unanswered questions.

 

He knew he would be back soon enough, yet still, Ben smirked at the little victory, and at the thought of having irritated Dameron to the point of leaving the interrogation.

 

His smile froze on his lips, a thought itching at him. Had that been what had happened, or had he just placed the burden of having to explain the past few weeks on Rey’s shoulder?

 

“Fuck!” He said out loud.

 

He got up and opened their bond. He heard Rey already talking to someone.

 

She gave him a quick glance then continued her conversation.

 

“…you too, Poe.” She said, and he knew she had used Poe’s name for his benefit.

 

“Fuck!” Ben said again, and Rey snapped her gaze back to him.



***



“What-what do you keep looking at, Rey?” Poe said, turning around and looking over his shoulder, to where she had previously been looking, where a visible-only-to-her-eyes-Ben stood.

 

“Nothing,” Rey said, her eyes back to Poe’s, “I don’t know if having you and me in this room is a good idea.” She said and hoped Ben understood that she had meant it for him.

 

Ben moved until he was within Rey’s direct eyesight, then scrunched up his face and uttered another “Fuck!”

 

“Why isn’t it a good idea?” Poe asked.

 

“I showed my cards too early.” She heard Ben say, sounding annoyed.

 

Rey sighed. She wished Ben would have said more, but knew why he hadn’t. He was under surveillance, the only words he could utter were the ones that could be interpreted as him talking to himself.

 

Still, whatever had happened between him and Poe couldn’t have been that bad, they were both in one piece.

 

“Am I your prisoner? ‘Cause that wasn’t the deal.” Rey finally answered Poe’s question.

 

“No, it wasn’t and you’re not, but I have a lot of questions that need answers Rey, did you think there wouldn’t be any?”

 

Poe had promised she would have immunity for harboring Ben, so her concern for her own well being had stopped there. She had considered there would be some questions, and knew she could only offer answers to only a few.

 

“What do you want to know?” she asked, eyeing Poe.

 

“Tell me about you and Ren.”

 

“What about me and Ben ?” Rey repeated the question for Ben’s benefit.

 

Poe chuckled, “Ren, Ben, Supreme Leader, Snoke’s hound, Sith, whatever you wanna call him–”

 

“Ben!” Rey said, interrupting him, and the actual Ben worn a puzzled look on his face, and Rey wished that somehow he could be pervious to Poe’s side of the conversation, too.

 

Poe shook his head, amused, “I’m curious about you two, like all your friends–”

 

“We’re not friends.”

 

“Figure of speech, and this would go a lot faster if you’d stop interrupting me.”

 

Rey lifted her eyebrows in a go-on sort of way. In front of her, and behind Poe, she saw Ben prompting himself on a wall that must also exist in his room.

 

“How did you get from splitting Ren’s face in half to... this?”

 

“Does it matter?”

 

“Yeah, I think it does.”

 

“Why?” Rey asked. “It won’t change anything, he’s in your custody and I’m free, or is my freedom dependent on weather or not I give you an adequate answer?”

 

Poe raised his eyebrows at that. “You’re free, we made a deal.”

 

“Then what’s the point?”

 

“You can call it curiosity, or putting the pieces together.”

 

Rey thought for a moment, there really was no way she could explain what had happened between her and Ben without revealing their Force Bond and she didn’t want to do that, the Force Bond was theirs, and theirs alone. She didn’t particularly want to share it with Rose or Finn either, yet alone Poe and whoever else was watching and listening to them.

 

“That’s between me and him.” Rey answered.

 

Poe let out an almost exaggerated sigh, then crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair.

 

They looked at each other in silence, and Rey wondered if he was waiting for her to break. He’d have a long wait ahead of him.

 

“Tell me about Leia.” Poe said, narrowing his eyes at her.

 

Rey felt a blade twist in her stomach and swallowed. Her eyebrows turned downwards and her eyes softened, then moved to Ben’s without even realizing.

 

“What do you want to know about Leia?” Rey said, her eyes still on Ben.

 

She saw Ben shift his position, then lock his jaw.

 

“What happened? We only know what Kylo Ren told us.”

 

Rey turned her eyes back to Poe’s and all the softness in them was gone.

 

“You mean after you left us there, alone ?” Rey snapped.

 

Poe glared at her, and uncrossed his arms, “You have the audacity to blame me for Leia? I did what I thought was right for the Resistance, my decision was forced by your actions! You were the one that started colluding with the enemy!” He leaned over the table. His voice was almost mocking as he said, “You’re sitting here, after helping and harboring the same criminal I feared you would back then, and still have the balls to blame me ?” Poe got out of his chair and started pacing the room, “Fuck, Rey can you even think straight, or has he corrupted your head too, not just your heart?”

 

Rey didn’t know if she wanted to physically punch Poe, or slam him into the wall with the Force, but instead she closed her eyes and reined in as much of the anger that was burning white at the edge of her eyes as she could.

 

“It wouldn’t have mattered anyway.”   That had been what Hux had told her and her mind ran with it for a minute. For the first time, Rey realized that the only version in which they all survived was this one, where Poe had left them. All but Leia.

 

If all the Resistance would have stayed on Ashkarah, Hux would have killed all her friends and eventually her and Ben too. If she would have left with them to the Rebel base, they would still be dead. No matter where Rey would have been, Hux would have found her, killed all her friends, then her and Ben too, and Hux would have been Supreme Leader, ruling the galaxy with a durasteel fist, unchallenged.

 

“It’s not like that–” Rey said, her voice softer than it had been so far.

 

She looked at Ben again, and she hoped that to Poe it seemed like she was either staring at the wall, or her eyes were lost in thought, and miles away.

 

“–he hasn’t corrupted anything, you just didn’t know me as well as you thought you did.”

 

Ben’s mouth opened as to say something, but no sounds came out, she turned her eyes back to Poe, and let out a tired sigh.

 

“If it were up to me, we wouldn’t be here. I didn’t want this, I still don’t want it. I don’t want to take the Force from him, I don’t want him imprisoned…” Rey trailed off and saw Ben move towards her, “If it were up to me we’d be in another Galaxy, somewhere far, far away, where no one’s even heard of the Jedi or Kylo Ren.”

 

She felt Ben’s large hand stroke her arm in passing. He wanted to touch him back but knew she could.

 

She swallowed as Ben moved back to his previous spot.

 

“You probably won’t believe me, but he’s doing all of this for the good of the Galaxy.”

 

She glanced at Poe and saw him huffing in disbelief.

 

Rey herself huffed, but hers was a little, bitter thing. “I know what he’s done, Poe. He’s done horrible things, but he’s trying to atone.”

 

Poe’s face didn’t show much emotion, but from what it did show, she thought her words had just bounced off of the man. He wasn’t ready or willing to hear about another side of Ben.

 

“Leia’s death both saddens and angers me, that’s why I snapped at you.” Rey said, changing the subject.

 

“I can understand that.” Poe offered, his voice now back to normal, his pacing slowing.

 

“If you hadn’t left us, and if it weren’t for Edisa, we would all be dead now and Hux would be the one ruling the Galaxy.”

 

Poe froze in his steps.

 

“I’m listening” he said, eventually.



***



As Rey paced the beautiful, elaborately decorated and absolutely empty secondary hallway of the courthouse, waiting for Ben to be brought in, she almost wished that she had gotten a chance to see Naboo in better circumstances, so that she could enjoy its beauty. But that was not the case, so she moved her eyes to the marble floor and continued pacing. She tried to focus on just one thing, but failed, her thoughts were disjointed, bouncing from Ben, to thoughts of her friends, to the Force Sever, then circling back again, and again, in a maddening frenzy.

 

It had been three days since they had landed on this planet, and after waiting for a few hours, then talking to Poe for a few more, Rey had been free to do as she pleased the evening of the first day. So she went looking for a familiar face.

 

She had found Chewie soon enough, and he had offered her both solace and a place to stay on the Falcon, which she turned down. The ship she had brought over had its own sleeping quarter, but most importantly, there she would be free to open the Force Bond and be with Ben.

 

The second day she had asked to see Ben, but her request had been denied. She was angry and upset by the refusal, saw no use in fight it, instead she opened their Force Bond.

 

They had to be careful using their Force Bond around others, as they didn’t want to risk them finding out about it, even if they would lose it soon enough, the bond was the one thing that belonged to them alone, it wasn’t meant to be shared.

 

Because they had to be careful, and because Ben was monitored at all times, she had been the one comforting him. She could hug him, press her lips gently on his, close her hand around his, and even talk to him without anyone suspecting anything. If he were to do the same, he would look like he had gone mad, so his gestures were small and narrow, his words scarce and whispered. There were stolen moments, few and more far between than she had wanted them to be, but they were better than nothing.

 

Rey continued her pacing on the courthouse marble floor, and felt like a caged animal, she absolutely hated the feeling and couldn’t help but wonder how caged Ben must feel.

 

Behind the heavy, carved wooden doors of the courtroom, the Galaxy’s most important people, people that would get to decide Ben Solo’s fate and gawkers alike were gathered in, waiting for the trial to start. She could hear their muffed voices and she knew what was on their tongues, Ben, and her, and Ben and her, together.

 

By now everyone knew about them, she had seen it on their faces for the past few days. When they saw her, some wore surprise or shock, others disgust, a few even pity. She didn’t want pity, and she especially didn’t want that kind of pity, where in their minds she was the victim of his brainwashing.

 

She wasn’t his victim. He had entered her mind and she had turned around and done the same to him, he had thrown her against a tree and she had repaid him by cutting his face open, and almost killing him.

 

Their dues to each other had been paid, they were equals now, and had been for some time.

 

It infuriated her to no end how it seemed to some that she was just a mere fly, too weak to resist his spidery web. She had chosen him, a long time ago, and then again just a few weeks ago, and she would continue choosing him because she wanted him, all of him.

 

She had made that decision all on her own, with her own sound mind, no one needed to make any excuses for her.

 

She tried to get her mind off of irrelevant people, and wondered if any of her friends were inside the courtroom, she wasn’t sure what answer she liked best. The one where her friends came to support her, or the ones where they stayed away.

 

Sometime in the early morning of yesterday, Rose had knocked on Rey’s hanger doors and as soon as she had opened them, Rose wrapped her in a big hug and almost squeezed the life out of her. As her cheek was pressed tight to Rose’s ear, and the air was leaving her lungs, Rey’s soul sang with joy. She had been a little apprehensive about seeing Rose again, unsure if her friend would disapprove of her relationship with Kylo Ren, if she would harbor any animosity towards her after the way they had parted ways, but Rey felt no tension between them, it was as if they hadn’t been apart at all.

 

Rose did have one question for her.

 

“Is he good to you?” she had asked, and Rey had seen worry in her friend’s eyes.

 

Rey gave her a genuine smile before answering. “He’s very good to me.”

 

And so they started talking about Ben and her, then about Rose and Finn, about nothing and everything. Everything except her connection with Ben, except the real reason why Finn hadn’t come to great her too.

 

“He’s really busy but he’s dying to see you, really,” Rose had assured her, but Rey didn’t fully believe her friend.

 

Their conversation gradually shifted from the men in their lives to the troopers, and how Rose was considering taking classes to become a real counselor, to better help the men and women troopers, and not just them, but anyone else that had gotten their minds and souls broken in this war and needed a guiding hand.

 

Rey shared with her friend what the Force Being had revealed to her and Ben, how he was sacrificing his future for the Galaxy, how she was meant to teach the true Faith and how scared she was to do it all on her own.

 

Rose’s eyes seemed a million light years away to Rey as she said “I’ve been dreaming of this for years now, but if anyone besides you would have told me this, I would not have believed them.”

 

Her eyes focused on Rey, really focused, “Are you sure that’s what the being said? That if people, if Force sensitive people know the true ways of the Force then there won’t be any more Galactic level wars?” Rose asked with a twinkle in her yes.

 

“Yes.” Rey said simply.

 

Rose sat in silence for a while, then a tear ran down her cheek.

 

“You have to do it, Rey. You have to !” Her voice was serious, and louder than Rey had expected it to be.

 

Rose grabbed Rey’s hands, “I’ll help you, whatever way I can, but you have to do it.”

 

Another tear left Rose’s eyes, then another, her voice cracked.

 

“That’s all I want! That’s what Paige wanted. For this Galactic war to be the last one, for my future children, for everyone’s children to not have to go through what I went thought, and you’re saying there’s a real chance for that?” Rose squeezed her hands, “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to have that come to be, Rey!” Rose finished and Rey could swear that between the tears in her eyes she could actually see the fire of her determination.

 

Rey swallowed, remembering the promise she had made to the Force Being.

 

“Okay, Rose, okay.” She said to her friend, as she wrapped her arms around her. It wasn’t a pledge, but it was another heavy weight on the scale, tilting towards her having to teach regardless of Ben’s fate.

 

Yesterday had turned into today, and Finn had not come to see her, and she refused to acknowledge how she hadn’t gone looking for him either.

 

She wanted to see him, and wanted to make things right between them again, but she was a little fearful too. What if he didn’t want the same thing she did? Until she saw him again she could still pretend that he wanted her friendship, when they did meet she would know for sure one way or the other. So she waited, not wanting her heart to be broken yet.

 

Rey brought her focus back to the present, inside the courthouse, waiting for Ben Solo to be brought in so she could perform the Force Sever on him. That was how the trial would start, with disarming the powerful and formidable Kylo Ren.

 

Poe had informed her of that the previous night, he also informed her that after the fact, Kylo Ren would be taking the stand and be questioned in front of the Council, everyone gathered inside the courtroom, and the entire Galaxy, via Holo-News.

 

“A performance,” Rey had said to Poe, “you want me to perform in front of billions, want to see him humiliated in front of billions…” Rey trailed off, fighting the tears of rage that were pricking at her eyes.

 

“You said you’d give me a show, Rey.”

 

You , Poe, so you’d take the deal, not the entire fucking Galaxy!” Rey had raged.

 

“Believe it or not, I’m not an autocrat,” Poe had said, “the Council wanted him dead, I had to fight tooth and nail to take the death penalty off the table, and the performance was what swayed their decision.” Even though she didn’t want to admit it, the Resistance leader had sounded sincere.

 

Now, still pacing the marble floors, she needed to focus her anger on someone, so she focused it on Poe, the Council and every person in that courthouse. They were all just waiting to see the show, to see her perform the Force Sever, to see her break down and cry in front of them. She would not give them a reason to gawk harder at her, they wouldn’t get the satisfaction of seeing her break! No, she was stronger than that, stronger than any of them.

 

She would give them nothing!

 

The muffled noise from behind the massive door turned louder all of a sudden, then, she felt Ben’s presence.

 

It was time.

 

She took a deep breath, put on her mask of stoicism, opened the heavy door and went inside almost unnoticed, all eyes were on Ben, who, to her surprise, was wearing his Kylo Ren uniform.



***



“What’s this?” Ben asked as Poe threw a folded bundle at him.

 

Poe didn’t answer, so Ben unfolded the package and found a brand new uniform, the same he had worn as Kylo Ren.

 

His eyes turned to Poe, his nostrils flaring.

 

“Kylo Ren is on trial today, you should look the part.” Poe offered.

 

Ben wondered where Poe had even found his former attire, he imagine it must have been found on one of the ships Poe had sequestered from the First Order. He had had a personal suite on several First Order ships, all of them equipped with his basic necessities, his outfit being one of them.

 

He wanted to argue with Poe that that wasn’t who he was anymore, but saw no point in it, so he put on the clothes of his former life.

He had spent many years in them, but now they felt heavier than he remembered, and much more uncomfortable.



*



Ben huffed as he was lead into the courtroom, his hands cuffed in front of him. He remembered this courtroom from his childhood, he had been in it before, a few times over the years, always with his mother.

 

He remembered marveling at the beauty of it. As the two story high, massive doors opened, the full glory of the courtroom struck you. It was long, and not too wide, in the middle stood a long aisle of purple marble, the marble of the kings and queens, on each side there were wooden pews, their backs carved with nature motifs. He chucked to himself as he remembered his eleven year old self breaking off a carved leaf and trying desperately to hide it before anyone saw him.

 

Down the long aisle, after the rows of pews ended, on the same purple marble, a rectangular shaped stage stood, where plaintiffs and defendants alike pleaded their cases. Just beyond that, rising above the crowd, stood the bench , the place where the ones that got to decide his faith were seated on large, throne like seats.

 

There were a dozen such thrones, but only nine people were seated. He only recognized two faces, Poe Dameron’s and face of  the current queen of Naboo, a Naberie, like Padame, like himself Ben guessed. He also noticed a Mon Calamarian, a Gungan and four other humanoids, none of them were known to him.  

 

As he walked the corridor, with his head held high despite the rumble of unfriendly voices, he noticed the courtroom was packed, every sentient species and race seemed to be represented in the faces he saw in the overcrowded pews.

 

They had come to see the show, and he was the main attraction, the beast that would be finally brought to its knees by Rey, the beast that was made to perform for them.

 

He hated every single one of the people inside the courthouse.

Some more than others, he thought as he glanced over to the Council.

Some not at all, he thought when he locked eyes with Rey.

 

One not at all .

 

He had been the one that has orchestrated this, he had hoped it would have been a more private event than this, but the possibility of finding himself in his current predicament had not escaped him. He had thought himself strong and defiant enough to do it, now he hated the version of himself that had thought that.  

 

All of this for the good of the Galaxy , he thought. But right now, in the final hour, faced with losing all he cared about, he could not bring himself to also care about the Galaxy.

 

What was he thinking?

 

As he walked down toward the stage, Rey had taken her place to the side of it. She stood there, waiting for him, waiting to strip away so much of what he cared about and she looked cold and composed, her head held high, her jaw set. He had never been prouder of her, for he could feel the turmoil inside her, and see no symptom of it on the outside.

 

“Please Ben!” She begged inside his head in a low and broken voice while showing no emotion on the outside, “Please don’t make me do this to you!”

 

He reached the stage and his captors moved him to the other side of it, opposite from Rey.

 

“You have to, Rey!” Ben answered inside her mind. “Think of all the people you’ll be helping, billions and billions.”

 

He still couldn’t bring himself to care about any of those people right now, but he made sure to bury the thought deep enough inside of him she couldn’t see it.

 

It was too late to change anything, the cards had been dealt, he was painfully aware of it, but still he had to actively fight his instinct of running a lightsaber through everyone in the courtroom, then grabbing Rey and making their escape.

 

Someone on the Council had started talking, addressing the crowd, but he paid little attention to it.

 

“I can pretend like I’ve done it.” Rey suggested, in an almost hopeful voice.

 

“No, Rey!” Ben said, his voice soft and as smooth as he could make it, Rey was clinging at straws and they both knew it. “It’s a test, they will check to see if you have really done it. We’re not the only force sensitives here, you can sense them too, if you don’t perform the Force Sever they would still feel my presence in the Force and will know you’ve tricked them,” Ben huffed bitterly, then added, “and then they will kill me, and imprison you. You have to Rey!”

 

The Council person had stopped talking, and the room stood in complete silence for a few blinks of the eye, then the voices and the bustle of the people rose and rose, the sound reminding Ben of an insect hive.

 

“Be strong, my love.” Ben said, a little smile on his face.

 

The sound of a wooden gavel hitting the bench strangely echoed through the full courthouse, quieting everyone.

 

While Rey’s demeanor was just as stoic, Ben could hear the tears in her voice as she said, “You too, my love.”

 

From his throne above the stage, Dameron turned to look at Rey, then gave her a small nod and she nodded back.

 

“This is it,” She warned him, “I’m so sorry!”

 

“Don’t be!”

 

Rey arched her arms above her head, her palms down. She looked him in the eyes for a few moments and Ben noticed that her eyes were beginning to betray her.

 

“I want the last words you hear through our bond to be these: I love you!” Rey said, her voice raw.

 

He nodded and swallowed, then Rey started moving her arms slowly towards the marble floor.

 

Ben hadn’t known how having the Force stripped from him would feel like, but once it started he realized he should have.

 

As Rey slowly, piece by piece, cut every golden tether that linked him to the Force, Ben felt like she was gradually digging a sharp blade under his dermis and skinning him alive. He had thought the God-fire had been the worst physical pain he’d ever felt, he knew his mother’s death had been the worst emotional pain he had ever felt, none of them even came close to what he was feeling now.

 

Rey faltered, a low guttural sound escaping her lips for everyone to hear.

 

She was feeling his pain through their bond, it was all encompassing, and there was nothing Ben could do to keep it hidden from her.  

 

“Don’t,” Ben said, fighting through the pain that wouldn’t let him think, “Don’t stop!”

 

“Ben!” Rey said in his head and it sounded like she was pleading with him.

 

“Faster!” He asked. He couldn’t take it, not for longer, he needed it to be over.

 

He wasn’t sure what made her do it, but Rey obliged.

 

His body began to shake from the sheer shock, the pain radiating from every part of his body, even more intense than before. His knees gave out and hit the floor, his cuffed hands pressed to the cold marble were the only thing that kept him from fully collapsing. He screamed in pain, or he thought he did, he couldn’t be sure.

 

Then he felt the ground give way underneath his feet. He quickly, narrowly, clung to the edge of the abyss and found he barely had the strength to hold on.

 

Rey was just passing the first half of his body and all of a sudden the pain started to subside.

He had reached the tilting point. There were less active tethers than there were broken ones. The further down she went, the less pain he felt, but now the abyss was moving up, swallowing him inch by inch.

 

Soon he realized that the golden shimmer of the Force that had been with him for all his life was dissipating, the even present background noises that it provided became muted.

 

Almost free of the pain, he focused the last of the Force on Rey and found himself in awe of her. While her heart was breaking on the inside, her features did not betray her.

 

He clinged to the sliver of Force as much as he could as the abyss encompassed him in cold, muted, darkness.

 

As with a snap of the fingers, it was all gone. His connection with Rey, his ability to feel her in the Force, to read her mind, all gone.

 

There was so much impenetrable darkness and everything was oh so quiet, almost maddening and he was so alone and untethered.

 

“What have I done?” He thought, as his eyes filled with tears.

 

Rey was still standing on her own two feet, her face still impenetrable, and if he hadn’t been inside her mind moments ago, he would have though she felt nothing for him and that sentiment was a shard of ice impaling his heart.

 

His eyes were on hers as he heard a Force sensitive declare him cut off from the Force.

The crowd cheered, and Ben hoped he hadn’t given them much of a show, but the Force Sever was now just a blur where reality had mixed in with the Force world inside his mind, and all he was certain off was the pain he had felt. That and Rey.

 

Rey, who turned to face Poe, then nodded at the former pilot.

 

Rey, that turned her eyes back to him, her face solemn and uncaring.

 

Rey, whose eyes were barely fighting back tears.

 

Rey, who turned her back to him and walked out of the courtroom.

 

Ben, who lifted his cuffed hands as to stop her.

 

Ben, whose hands dropped limp in his lap as the massive door closed behind her.

 

Ben, who was cut off from the Force and did not feel her run down the white marble corridor until she found an empty chamber. Who did not see her press her back on the inside of door and spill herself on the floor.

 

Ben, who did not see the tears streaming out of her eyes, nor hear the screams she muffled in the crook of her elbow. He did not feel her shatter into a million pieces, as one thought rang in her mind over and over again.

 

What have I done?