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First Order Coffee

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Friday 09.14 - morning

He’s seen her every day for the past week now. She shows up in the late morning still half asleep and looking like a mess. There’s dirt under her nails, smudges on her clothes, and her hair is messy, rebellious strands falling into her face haphazardly. There is something wild about the girl, and Ben hates how it’s piqued his interest.

This morning was a bit different, however. This morning, they had barely opened the front door before she was shuffling in, shrugging a flannel shirt on over her sports bra, flushed and breathing heavy from the bike ride to the shop. Ben's breath catches, caught off guard, before he averts his gaze and busies himself with grinding coffee. The other employee opening with Ben that morning greets her warmly and moves to the espresso machine; he knows her order, of course. Ben frowns–those two are always friendly, but he tries not to think on it too much.

“Seems like it’s an extra shot kinda morning,” Ben hears the employee comment behind him. He’s got his back to them as he prepares the next batch of coffee to be brewed. The shop is currently running with a skeleton crew. Since being moved to this particular branch of First Order Coffee to “clean it up” a little over a week ago, he’s lost or let go staff left and right. It’s a small town though, and they’ve made do.

The milk steamer whirs to life and Ben doesn’t hear the girl’s response, which is just as well, though he can tell their conversation continues.

“Naaah,” the boy sighs, after he finishes her drink, “this one’s on me. You look like you need it, Rey.”

“What’s that supposed to mean, Finn?” she snaps in mock offense.

He chuckles then, “I’m just saying– wait, is that my shirt?”

“Oh no!” she gasps, “Look at the time! Gotta go, byeeeeeee!” she calls in a sing song voice that fades as the door closes behind her.

Irritation claws at Ben.

 


 

Her caramel latte (with an extra shot!) smells like heaven in a little black paper cup. She pauses for a moment to take a sip of the too hot liquid, sighing with relief as she throws her leg over her bike. Normally she goes in to work at the Florist of Endor later in the day, but it’s Friday and she has to make a delivery for a wedding (that seems far too early in the morning). She’s a night owl at heart, so a stop to First Order Coffee was all but mandatory. It’s not her favorite coffee, by any means, and she’s not a fan of the oh-so-edgy hipster aesthetic. It is on the way to work however, plus her best friend works there, so it’s convenient if nothing else.

“Morning, Poe!” she chimes happily, partly from seeing her manager, but mostly thanks to the coffee doing its job. She’s starting to feel like a real person despite the disgusting hour.

“What’s up, beautiful?” Poe flirts, and she rolls her eyes good-naturedly. He’s sitting behind the counter with a coffee he’s brought from home. She’s worked with him for a while now, but he’d been a terrible flirt when they first met. While she can admit he’s easy on the eyes, he’s just not for her. She scrunches her nose thinking of how awkward she’d been when he’d asked her out before she got the job there. Now they just joke about it.

She drains the rest of her coffee and tosses it in the nearest trash bin just in time to catch the keys Poe has tossed her way.

“Nice catch!” he says with a bright smile. “I already have the truck loaded for you, you just have to make the drop off. It’s a bit of a drive, though. Stay safe, Rey.”

Rey gives him a thumbs up over her shoulder as she heads to the back, not even bothering to stop. She finishes buttoning the shirt she’d ‘borrowed’ from Finn and tied the extra length in a knot at her waist, otherwise it would trail past her denim shorts and look like she wasn’t wearing pants. She’s far from an expert on fashion, but she’s willing to assume that’s not a good look. She attempts to tame her messy bun of hair one last time before giving up and just hauling herself into the Florist of Endor delivery truck. She types out a quick text to Finn to wish him a good day and good luck with his standoffish new boss before jamming the keys in the ignition and heading out.

Rey slides out of the delivery truck hours later as though her bones are made of jello. She hates being in a truck or any sort of vehicle that long, especially one so rattly and ancient. Traffic had been hell, and while the delivery had gone fine, it’d taken much longer than she’d been expecting. It’s nearly lunch by the time she slouches back in through the front door, stomach rumbling, and she guesses she should have grabbed a bagel with her coffee that morning.

“Welcome back,” Poe calls from somewhere in the shop that Rey can’t quite see yet. It’s not a large shop but it’s bright and surrounded by windows, and the overwhelming amount of flowers and foliage almost gives the impression of being in an outdoor garden.

“Did you get lost?” he asks as she approaches where he’s trimming flowers for what looks like a small bouquet order.

“No,” she sighs, leaning against the wall. “There was just bloody roadwork on the way back and I got stuck.” Her stomach rumbles again, embarrassingly loud, and just as she opens her mouth to ask for a lunch break he cuts her off.

“Yes,” he laughs, in that warm way that makes everyone else around him want to smile as well. “But you better bring me back something, too. I’m starving.”

“Perfect,” she say with a relieved smile.

She heads out the front door in a hurry and decides to text Finn and see if he’s off and wants to join. There’s a sandwich shop two blocks down, right across the street from First Order, and it's pretty decent in Rey's opinion.

texts to finn

Rey’s vision goes red , and then she’s on her bike and flying down to First Order before she even knows what it is she plans to do.

Finn’s standing there when when she arrives a few minutes later and she all but slams her bike down against the little black tables in front of the coffee shop. “What happened?” she demands, trying to to keep the harshness from her tone–it’s not Finn she’s mad at.

“Honestly, I have no idea. I think the dude is just cleaning house or something. He made some asshole comment about the coffee I gave you this morning and– Hey, where are you– Rey, no!” Finn tries for her arm but she shrugs him off and huffs angrily into the shop, her temper rising by the moment.

“What the fuck is your problem!?” she all but shouts as she pushes through the door. He’s standing on her side of the counter, counting merchandise or something she doesn’t give a fuck about and has the audacity to look confused when he turns to face her.

“Excuse me?” he asks, raising an eyebrow. (Stars, she wants to rip those stupid hoops out of his damn lip.)

“You heard me.” Her voice is firm as she continues to close the gap between them. It dawns on her that he’s taller than she’d thought–he’s always slouching around in the back of the store, so it’s hard to tell. But now he’s drawing himself up to his full height, and he’s easily over six foot and broad . It does nothing to quell the anger bubbling in her gut, threatening to boil over as she scowls up at him.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he insists cooly, and she’s pretty sure he’s fucking with her. It makes her even more mad, her face heating up.

“I said ,” she starts, drawing in on him so that there’s only a couple feet between them, “What the fuck is your problem?” She punctuates each word sharply, eyes searing with anger. “Finn has worked here for years! He works hard! He’s one of the best baristas this stupid, edgy, bullshit little coffee shop has ever seen. And you show up and after a week throw him out–and for what!? A single bloody cup of coffee? Or is it because he’s not asshole enough to work here!?” She’s definitely shouting now, but she doesn’t care. Plus, it’s not like there’s anyone in this shit hole shop to hear her aside from the other manager–a pale, red haired man, who’s just come out of the back room to see what all the fuss is about.

“Should I call the cops?” the ginger asks, his face twisting in what might be disgust as his eyes fall on her.

Without breaking eye contact with her, Finn’s asshole manager raises his hand to silence the other man, “And who the fuck are you?” he asks. She seems to finally have fazed him, because there’s a hint of malice in his voice now and his brows are knitting together in clear annoyance. “You show up in my shop–”


“Who the fuck am I?” She interrupts, raising her eyebrows and crossing her arms defiantly over her chest. “I’m here in your shop nearly every single day since you’ve started working here yet you don’t remember? Isn’t it half a barista’s damned job to remember their regulars?”

Eyes narrowing, he takes one final step so that he’s looming over her, no doubt trying to intimidate her with his size. His greasy, black hair falling is out of his beanie to hang in his eyes. “I make it a point to remember paying customers,” he spits the words like venom, “not dirty little scavengers looking for a fucking hand out.” He pauses for a breath, glowering. “Now why don’t you and your little boyfr–”

He’s cut off mid sentence and everything seems to happen in slow motion but also all at once. She thinks she’s knocked the breath out of him with the force of her shove. At the very least, he seems shocked by her strength. She doesn’t think she’ll forget the look on his face as long as she lives: dark eyes blown wide, his mouth hanging open like an idiot. Glorious. He falls backward and spins on his feet in an attempt to catch his balance. He smashes heavily into the espresso machine that was behind him on the counter with a loud curse. It lands on the opposite side of the counter and he lands on the ground in front of her, mugs and bags of coffee going down with them.

For a brief moment victory surges through her veins. She supposes there is some truth to the old saying, “the bigger they are the harder they fall.”

But her triumph is short lived as the gravity of the moment sets in. “ Fuck, ” she curses under her breath, feeling the righteous energy draining out of her body. She’s just assaulted someone and destroyed company property, and okay sure, maybe he deserved it but– wait… Is he– Stars, is that blood?

Rey is vaguely aware of Finn rushing in the door behind her and the other manager swearing over the espresso machine. The majority of her thoughts, however, are consumed by the man looking up at her from the floor, his tattooed hand trying desperately to stop the blood gushing from the large gash that splits down one side of his face like an angry red fissure.

Chapter Text

Friday 09.14 - afternoon

Chaos surrounds him. There’s glass all around him on the floor, people shouting, blood everywhere. He’s a bit stunned at first, but realizes quickly that the searing pain cutting across his face means the blood must be his. He dazedly climbs to his feet and pulls his hand away from his face, looking down at the blood on his palm with confusion.

He hadn’t expected her to get physical with him, and based on the astonished and horrified look on her face, she must have surprised even herself. The sudden action had caught him off guard, and all he’s able to do for a long moment is stare at her dumbly.

She brings him out of his dazed stupor when she crowds into his space again, yanking the plaid shirt off over her head without bothering to unbutton the thing. He takes an unsteady step back, confusion at the situation peaking.

“What are you–” He’s cut off by the press of soft fabric to his stinging face.

“Y-you’re bleeding a lot! I didn’t mean for–” she stammers, panic rising in her voice. Her boyfriend(?) approaches from behind.

“I’m calling the police!” Hux announces as he pulls out his phone, muttering about the mess.

“Enough!” Ben shouts, pressing the shirt to his face (despite the pain) as he turns away from her. “Hux, clean this up and use my card to call for repairs. Once you’ve done that, call Phasma in to help close.” He pulls out his wallet one handed and fumbles with it a moment before managing to get the chosen card out of its spot. He slaps it on the counter, not caring that his blood is shining and wet on the plastic.

Next, he wheels around on the girl, “ You,”  he starts venomously. “Let’s go. You’re taking me to the hospital.” It’s not a question. She retreats slightly, still shocked and now a little perplexed.

“What? No I–can’t you just call an ambulance?” She falters, taking another step back as her boyfriend (he has to be her boyfriend, right?) is shaking his head as if his opinion matters to Ben at all.

“Not unless you want to pay for it,” Ben shoots back, continuing to the door. His shop is a wreck, he’s in pain and bleeding everywhere—he’s in no mood to negotiate.

“Wait!” She’s shouting, but he can tell she’s following. Good . “I don’t even have a car!”

He huffs, turning to hand her his keys. There’s a quick series of expressions, but he can spot the moment she accepts her fate. She gives her companion an apologetic look, then starts to follow Ben out of the shop in earnest.

He leads her around the corner to the parking lot behind the shop where he’s parked. There’s a little black Camaro that beeps when she clicks the button, and he notes the way she rolls her eyes as they climb in.

“It’s stick,” she mumbles, and he doesn’t know if she’s talking to him or to herself. She seems like the type to do that.

“Is that going to be a problem?” he asks. The pain is getting worse, now, and he’s losing the energy to be angry. He just wants this all to be fucking over.

“No, I just–” She sighs, shaking out her hands for a second. “I can do this.” Again, he’s not sure if she’s reassuring him or herself. But she stops hesitating after that, turning the ignition. There’s the barest hint of a smile on her face as the engine roars to life, but it’s gone nearly as fast as it’d appeared as she concentrates on driving. He doesn’t ask if she knows the way, and she doesn’t ask for directions. She’s a bit heavy-footed but he decides he likes it.

There’s a moment of blessed silence where he’s just trying not to focus on the pain but she pierces his solitude with a rambling apology.

“I’m so– you must know I didn’t mean to–” She pauses, shooting him a sympathetic glance. He thinks he’s about to get a proper apology from her when she’s cut off by her phone ringing, it’s popish and a bit familiar but he can’t place it. She curses and answers leaving him to listen on.

“Poe I’m so– Yes, I’m fine. I’m so sorry I didn’t contact you sooner.” Who’s Poe? He wonders even though it’s not his business, but it’s not like he has the option not to listen. He can’t help but feel the name is familiar. “No, I can’t– is there any way you can close for me?” She pauses to listen, exasperation growing. “No, I’m on the way to the hospital, there’s been an– No, no, no no no, I’m fine , I’m driving someone else.” Another pause, “I said the same thing! But then he bitched about me paying, so now I’m– Yes. Yes, okay. Please tell Leia I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you both.”

The rest of the conversation gets drowned out by his thoughts, the revelation hitting him like a ton of bricks. Poe. Poe Dameron . One of his mother’s strays. Because of course he’d develop an interest in someone who works for his fucking mother.

He knew, he fucking knew taking the job so close to her shop was a bad idea. He and his father never spoke, and rarely did he talk to his mother. More than anything, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with their fucking shop that they insisted on co-owning despite having divorced some fifteen years ago.

His phone goes off next, a simple and singular chirp tearing him from the thoughts of his parents. It’s a message from Hux: after speaking with the repair company, the repairs are estimated to be pushing $2k. Fuck. This day just keeps getting better.


 

She tries to concentrate on where she’s headed, but her mind is going a million miles a minute. How did this day turn out like this?

“You’re responsible for paying me back for these repairs,” he informs her matter-of-factly from the passenger seat. What the hell is he on about now?

“No, I– what? Shouldn’t the First Order cover that?” She scowls, eyes darting between him and the road. The bleeding seems to have slowed, from what she can tell, but he’s wearing all black ( of fucking course ) and the flannel she’d been wearing was mostly red in the first place.

“I’m not reporting this,” he explains. “This store was given to me to fix, not turn into a fucking dumpster fire.”

“Why should I care what your bosses think of your frankly rather poor performance in the workplace?”

“Because,” he growls, “if I report the damages, they’ll file an incident report. That means they’ll pull the surveillance video. You’ll be liable for not only property damages, but likely charged with fucking assault .”

She blanches. Is he serious ? “Are you—are you threatening me?” she asks incredulously.

“No,” he huffs, “just stating facts.” He doesn’t have to explain in any further detail. She knows he’s right, even if he’s being an ass about it. She can’t think. How, how could she possibly afford to pay him back?

“I can’t afford it,” she insists. “I can barely afford my flat as is, and you’ve just fired my flatmate. Or had you forgotten that part?” she all but spits the last bit, anger flickering in her again.

His face scrunches in irritation and she tries not to be too pleased with that. It must hurt. “Maybe. I did just get shoved into an espresso machine, maybe I’ve got a concussion.” A shocked little squeak comes out of her, and she sees a smile tug at the edge of his lips for a fraction of a second before he continues. “But lucky for you, it seems I’m hiring.”

She laughs then, a loud, harsh, uncontrollable burst. “You can’t be serious! You can’t really expect me to just take Finn’s job. You’re out of your mind.” Her hands are tight on the wheel as she shakes her head at the audacity of it.

“If you have any better ideas, I’m all ears,” he says and then pauses. She guesses he’s waiting on a response, but honestly, she’s got nothing. “ You put us both in this situation,” he hisses when she’s silent. “The least you can do is own it and help me fix this. I keep my job, you don’t go to jail. I don’t see what there is to even think about.”

She almost misses her turn she’s so lost in thought, her mind spiraling. “I don’t exactly match the uh, aesthetic,” she finally ekes out, her last feeble attempt to resist.

“I’m sure you’ll figure something out, scavenger .” She swears he smirks as he says it.

She never says yes exactly but she thinks he knows he’s won; he’s silent until they pull up to the hospital.They walk wordlessly up to the front desk and when it becomes clear they’re taking him straight back she heads towards the waiting room.

“Ma’am, this many stitches are likely going to take a while,” the nurse says to her before she gets too far. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to go back with your boyfriend?”

Rey blushes furiously, cheeks turning hot red. “He’s not my boyfriend!” she says too quickly, trying to ignore the snort from… Stars , she doesn’t even know his name. The poor nurse holds up his hands in apology before escorting whatever-his-name-is (Satan, Hades, something ) back to be treated.

She settles in to a seat in the waiting room and decides to shoot Finn a message to update him. After a quick reply, she decides to browse instagram to pass the time. Her feed is filled mostly with favorite artists and photography–except there seems to be something missing. She frowns when she realizes what it is: one of her favorite artists still hasn’t posted in a while. It’s been nearly two weeks since their last piece was posted, and she’s starting to wonder.


 

Rey is startled awake by someone shaking her shoulder. She must have fallen asleep while browsing old magazines after her phone died. She absently wipes the drool from her chin then looks up to see… Hades , she’d settled on mentally calling him. With his pale complexion and dark everything else—hair, eyes, clothing, temperament—he looks to her like a modern day Lord of the Underworld. And now he has a menacing scar starting just above his right eye, carving a path down his cheek to his jaw. She should probably apologize in earnest, she realizes, guilt twisting in her gut over the angry black stitches marring his face.

“Let’s go,” he says coldly. She does have to admit that in any other circumstances her guilt would be crushing her, but he makes it easy to not feel quite so bad with his alternatingly icy and toxic demeanor.

“I don’t know where you live,” she says, her brain starting to wake up as they slide back into his sleek little car. It’s an older model, but it’s nice, and of course it’s black. It figures.

“You have GPS on your phone, right?” he says as though it should solve everything.

Rey chews at her lip. “It died at the hospital,” she admits, the irony not lost on her.

He sighs but relinquishes his own phone. There’s a moment as she stares at it; she doesn’t know how to work the damn thing, it’s a too-new iPhone and she’s had the same shitty android for at least four years. After a moment of bickering and him insisting, “it’s not that fucking hard,” he takes the phone back and punches in the information himself. As she starts to drive, she’s left wondering why he didn’t just do that in the first place. The easiest answer she has is that he just likes being goddamned difficult.

He lives clear on the other side of town, because of course he does. Makes sense, she supposes, since he just got hired at First Order, but she’s starving . It’ll be nearly nightfall by the time she gets home—and how exactly was she getting home, anyway? He’s not supposed to drive since he’s been given pain killers, even if he seems lucid enough, maybe quieter than before. Thank the stars for that. She could ask to use his phone and call Finn, but she doesn’t exactly want to ask for further favors. Not that she has any other options.

“Pull in there,” he instructs, cutting the silence they’d been driving in for nearly 20 minutes. He’s gesturing towards a fast food place to the right, just past the light they’re currently sitting at.

“We’re almost to your place,” she says, looking at the GPS on his phone. She’s hungry, but… She doesn’t want to spend any more time with him than she has to. It’s awkward and tense, and she just wants to go home to binge something on Netflix with Finn and drown their problems with ice cream.

“Your stomach has been growling embarrassingly loudly the entire car ride, and I’m assuming you’re going to have to wait for a ride at my place. We might as well eat.” He’s right. He keeps being right and he knows he’s right and it gets under her skin.

Rey pulls into the fast food place with a huff but no further complaints. Without wasting a breath she orders two double cheeseburgers with everything on them, an order of chicken nuggets, and a large chocolate shake. Seeming pleased, she turns to her companion. “What would you like?”

He's looking at her with raised eyebrows and pauses for a breathe before responding, “Oh, all of that was for you?”

She rolls her eyes as hard and as obviously as she can. “It's been a long day and I haven't eaten– just, do you want food or not?” she blurts. She doesn't have to explain  herself to him, and she hates that she does anyway.

“Number one, no onion.” he says after a moment.

She repeats the order to the speaker, “What to drink?” she asks turning back to him. He shrugs, so she orders him a Coke, wondering vaguely what exactly his deal is and if he's ever been pleased with anything, in his life, ever.

It’s quiet in the car as Rey hands over money for the food, her scowling companion not even reaching for his wallet. They’re driving back to his home when she finally talks again. “So what's your name, anyway? Realized I don't know it.” She doesn't exactly relish the idea of making small talk with him, but she’s not sure she can handle the quiet tension any more. He's giving her a dry look, so she elaborates awkwardly. “I just figure– if I'm going to drive you to the hospital and pay for your food and then hang out in your flat until I can get picked up, I should probably know your name.”

“You forgot the part where you permanently disfigured my face and broke a ten-thousand dollar espresso machine,” he replies bluntly. At this point she’s honestly kind of impressed with his ability to make her feel both guilty and insanely irritated all at once.

“Look, I–” she starts, tone aggressive, but he stops her with a raised hand.

“It's Ben.”

There’s a brief pause as she stifles her laugh gracelessly. “ Ben?

“Is there something wrong with Ben?” he asks, obviously trying to hide his offense and failing.

“No! No, I just… I don't know, expected something a little edgier ,” she remarks with a grin. Ben… of all the things. If he wasn't such an ass she'd find it almost endearing, but it certainly doesn't fit him.

“Edgier?” he pushes, and she loves that she seems to have gotten under his skin for once.

“Yeah, I don't know. What with all the brooding, the tattoos and piercings and dark clothes and what have you.” She’s smiling now, lips pressed together to keep the giggle locked in.

He narrows his eyes as she steals a glance at him. “What exactly were you expecting?” he asks.

“Something more dramatic, like... Godrick, or Edward, or maybe Vladimir.”

“Vladimir?” he deadpans. “Like Putin or Dracula?”

“I mean, either?” The smile is still on her face as she scrunches up her shoulders in an exaggerated shrug.

“You’re serious?”

“Or maybe like… Hades.” She favors that one.

“Oh, fuck you,” he snaps, and she can’t stop her giggle that time.

She’s still very amused and he’s still decidedly not as they pull up outside his flat a moment later. He sulks as they get out of the car and head into the building. The building itself seems rather old, but the insides have been remodeled. It’s definitely a step up from where she lives, and she can’t help but want to see more of the place.

Once they step into the elevator, she looks over at him with curiosity. “So is Ben at least short for Benjamin, or–”

“I’m going to take your food and shove you out into the cold,” he snaps, but it lacks any real venom.

“It’s mid-September,” she counters, shrugging a little. “It’s not that cold.”

“Maybe not from the car to the building. We’re downtown, you’ve got no phone, and you’re wearing basically nothing.” He almost smirks as the elevator dings and he steps out. “Sure would be a long walk home.”

“I gave you my shirt!” She nearly shouts in protest, face crimson in an instant. Suddenly, she’s hyper aware of the fact that she’d been in nothing but a sports bra and denim shorts for hours. Not that she was in anyway ashamed or self conscious about her body, but being called out made her feel a little exposed.

“And whose fault is that?” There’s a smirk on his lips as he opens the door to his flat, letting it swing wide so she can step in first.

His loft is nearly barren, and looks more like a display unit than something that’s actually lived in. There’s nothing on the walls, the furniture plain and mostly black. Everything is almost clinically clean, and she finds the whole thing mildly unsettling.

He steps by her and kicks his shoes off at the door silently. Without looking to see if she’s following, he walks off to the right into a large open kitchen lined with sleek stainless steel appliances. She slips off her shoes as well, assuming that’s what he prefers. A little shiver comes over her as her feet hit the cold hardwood—maybe it’s not too cold outside, but it’s frigid in his loft.

Ben sets his food down on the empty island in the kitchen and turns to offer her is his phone. “Call your boyfriend or whatever,” he says as she takes it. “I’ll text him the address when you get off the phone.” With that, he disappears up the cast-iron spiral staircase, presumably to a bedroom.

She’s too hungry to wait for him to return, so she hops up onto one of the silver stools and pulls over her bag of food. Impatiently, she stuffs a chicken nugget into her mouth with one hand and dials Finn with the other.

“Hello?” He answers on the second ring, and she knows he must have been waiting to hear from her. Relief and comfort rush through her at the sounds of his voice.

“Finn, it’s me.”

Rey? Dude, I’ve been so worried. I tried to call but it went straight to voicemail, which, by the way, is full.”

“I’m sorry. My phone died while we were at the ER. We were there for ages…” She takes a big bite of her first burger as he scolds her for not keeping her phone charged, a common complaint of his.

She’s relaying to him a brief summary of her afternoon when Ben comes back down the stairs and sits beside her. He’s changed into dark sweatpants and a black t-shirt (does he own anything that’s not black?), and he’s holding a black sweater out to her. Her eyebrows knit quizzically at him. Instead of replying, he just tosses it over her shoulder and starts taking his meal out of its bag. She tugs the article of clothing into her lap and stars , it’s soft. After another shiver, it dawns on her that he intends for her to wear it. It feels like too considerate of a move from what she knows of him so far... But while she remains suspicious, it’s too chilly to argue, especially with her putting this giant milkshake away in record time.

“Anyway,” she continues, yanking the sweater over her head awkwardly while trying to keep the phone to her ear, “I could really use a ride if it’s not too much to ask. I know today’s been…” She briefly looks over at Ben, too absorbed in his own food to notice her. “...a lot.” The sweater swallows her whole, and once again she realizes just how much bigger he is than her.

“Of course babe,” Finn replies without question.

“Okay great,” she replies with a sigh of great relief. “I’ll have him text you the address.” She adds around a mouth full of burger, “I owe you big time. Love you! See you soon!”

Ben looks annoyed again when she hands him back his phone, and she wonders if that’s just his default mood. They eat in silence for a while after he texts Finn for her. She really was starving, so much so that she finishes first. He’s just picking at his fries idly, which she can’t help but notice. When she looks up, she realizes he’s caught her staring at his food.

He lifts an eyebrow as she looks at him. “Yes?”

Too late to backtrack now. “Do you– Are you gonna finish those?” She points at the fries, the sleeve of the plush sweater nearly covering her whole hand with its excessive length.

He says nothing, but pushes them towards her with a concerned expression. She mutters a little “thanks” before grabbing a couple. She pops the lid off of the remains of her milkshake, dunking the fries in the ice cream.

“What are you doing?” There’s poorly masked disgust clear on his face as he watches her, and she wants to scowl right back at him.

Except, how is he really that surprised? Surely everyone’s done this, she thinks. “...it’s self-evident.”

“No. Literally no one does that. It’s—”

“Delicious,” she cuts in, giving him a big grin as she pushes the chocolate shake covered fries into her mouth. He grimaces, and her smile grows. She enjoys antagonizing him. “Here,” she says, grabbing another couple fries and scooping it in the melty shake before holding them out to him. “Try it,” she encourages.

The shake drips on the counter and he doesn't say or do anything for a second but eventually relents and leans forward to eat the fries without breaking eye contact. He chews thoughtfully for a moment. “Okay, it wasn't awful.”

“I told you!” she exclaims victoriously.

“No, no, no. I said it wasn't awful . I definitely would not eat… whatever the fuck that is. Not willingly, anyway.”

“You liked it. Just admit it.” She’s beaming at him as she finishes off her shake.

“Never,” he says, wiping chocolate shake from his bottom lip. She watches the motion and realizes just how…. comfortable the moment that passed between them was. Which makes her immediately uncomfortable. Because this man was foul and irritable and just fired her best friend over nothing. He was easily one of the most unpleasant people she’s ever had the displeasure of dealing with. And yet here she is, wearing his clothes and feeding him french fries like they’ve been friends for years. She internally curses her ability to get along with basically anyone. She didn’t want to get along with this man…

“Look,” she starts, straightening herself out from how she’d been sitting (knees folded up and tucked into his too-big sweater). “I owe you an apology.” She can see his eyebrows raising out of her peripheral vision, because he’s still leaning slightly towards her.

“Oh?” he prompts sounding surprised and intrigued.

“Don’t get me wrong, I still think you’re an asshole and that firing Finn over something so petty was wrong and on some level you deserved to get knocked in the mouth. However–”

“Wow, you’re good at this,” he interjects. And wow, there it is, that ever-growing spark of agitation in her gut.

However ,” she continues, firmer this time and determined to be the bigger person, “I am sorry about… everything that happened. You just– That wasn’t what I planned. I didn’t mean to actually hurt you, or to break anything. I’m sorry. I’m not normally a violent person– You’re just so…”

“So...?”

She pauses, nearly choking on all the insults she could possibly throw at him. “Infuriating, stubborn, difficult–”

“From my perspective, it’s you who’s stubborn and difficult. I’ve offered solutions every step of the way, and you’ve never failed to argue,” he says, voice even but irritation obvious in his features.

“I– Know what? No. I’m not letting you bait me into another verbal sparring match. I’m sorry, and that’s the end of it.” She looks at him fully now, plaintive and sincere. “I’m truly sorry.”

He leans back on his stool and seems to contemplate her for a second before handing her his phone. “Put your number in so that I can tell you when to come fill out your paperwork.”

He mouth gapes, is he—is he serious ? “That’s it? You can’t even be bothered to accept my apology or even acknowledge it?”

“I’m allowed time to think, considering the weight of your crimes.”

“My crimes?”

“Yes,” he snaps, “Your crimes as they are punishable by law but I’ve decided to cover for you. I’d thought you’d be grateful.”

“You’re only covering for me to cover for yourself while blackmailing me into working for you, and you thought I’d be grateful ?”

“It’s mutually beneficial for me to cover for both of us. It’s a situation you put us in, so honestly, you’re responsible for helping fix it. As far as working for me, it’s hardly blackmail. I’m offering you a solution. You just don’t like it, which hardly seems like my problem, and honestly is a small fucking price to pay compared to the scar that I’ll have for the rest of my life because you can’t control your fucking temper.”

Rey stares at him for a long heated moment and he stares right back. Mentally she’s cursing his name to the deepest, fieriest pits of Hell. Hades, indeed, she thinks.

“Fine,” she snaps, yanking the phone out of his grasp. He’s won again and damn him, damn him, damn him! She enters her number reluctantly, then hands the phone back to him. She jumps to her feet to pick up her food trash, an excuse to avoid further conversation or his gaze.

His phone chirps a moment later, and she wheels around from where she’s standing at the trash bin, “Finn?” she asks hopefully.

Ben isn’t looking at her. He’s pinching the bridge of his nose, eyes closed in clear irritation as he nods. She’s petty enough to be glad that she’s not alone in her anger—at least she agitates him too.

Finally! ” she exhales, making it obvious that she can’t wait to leave. She heads to the door and shoves her feet in her shoes without bothering to tie the laces. She stands up to straighten her clothes, then realizes she’s still in his oversized sweater. “Oh...”

“Keep it,” he says as he seems to understand what she’s just realized. He’s walking over to her, likely to lock the door behind her, when she looks up to him. She’s just staring again for a moment because she can’t for the life of her figure him the fuck out. Random acts that could almost be taken as kindness followed by snarky to downright cruel comments. Maybe he does it just to fuck with her. At any rate, she’s tired of trying to figure him out tonight.

“I’ll bring it back to you when you bring me back mine,” she says and heads out the door.


 

Rey’s scowling as she climbs into Finn’s passenger seat, but he doesn’t press her about anything. He can tell she’s exhausted and frustrated.

Once they’re home, though, he guides her to the couch. “Sit,” he tells her. “Put on some Netflix or something. I’m gonna grab a snack.”

“But—”

“No buts. You need a break.” He turns and walks into their cramped kitchen after that, grabbing a carton of ice cream and some spoons for them both. It’s a stereotype, sure, but one that makes them happy enough to not care.

She’s already wrapped herself in a blanket when he comes back, hands almost covered by the stupidly long sweater sleeves, but she reached out for a spoon immediately. “You’re the best,” she murmurs, snuggling up against him as he sits with her on the couch. “I don’t know how I’d survive without you.”

“You’d definitely die if I wasn’t around,” he agrees with a grin. She’s already put on some sitcom, one they’ve seen a billion and a half times. “So are you okay? You seem pretty pissed.”

“That’s because I am pissed,” she groans. “I cannot fucking stand that asshole. He’s blackmailing me into working for him, can you believe it?”

“What? That’s bullshit!”

“I said the same thing. But he said if I don’t work at the coffee shop, he’s going to file a police report.” She scowls, shoving a spoonful of ice cream in her mouth. “Dick.”

Finn just sighs, wrapping his arm around Rey. “I wish I could give you good news, but honestly, he’s such a dick to work for. He’s super bossy, and he has the weirdest mood swings I’ve ever seen.” He hugs her a little tighter when she groans again, laughing. “I know you’re gonna give him hell, though.”

“I don’t want to deal with him at all,” she whines. “Why can’t I just not do it?”

“Because if you get arrested, who’s gonna room with me?” That makes her laugh, and even though it’s barely a laugh at all, he grins.

“Fine, fine, I guess I’ll do it until I pay him back. Then I can fucking quit, and never see him again.” She shifts, draping her legs over Finn’s lap comfortably. “Can I just say, I’m pretty sure he’s not really a human?”

That makes him snort, shaking his head. “I mean, I think we knew that, but what makes you so sure?”

“His apartment is totally empty. Only has furniture, and not even a bloody dining table! And it’s cold enough to snow in the place, I don’t get it at all.”

“I guess that explains the sweater.” He gets another bite of ice cream, humming. “By the way, when am I gonna get my shirt back?”

She shrugs, and he notices she’s about to crash. “I told him he’d have the sweater back when I got the shirt back, so hopefully soon.” A yawn escapes her, and she snuggles in a little closer. “Or never, because he might just be a dick like that. I’m not really sure.”

“Sounds about right,” Finn agrees. They lapse into silence, Rey collapsing into his side further and further until a little snore escapes her. Finn just sighs, gently pulling himself out from under her. Once the ice cream is put away, he picks her up and carries her to her room.

Chapter Text

Wednesday 09.19 - Midday

Ben needs a break.

His day had started with Phasma, so it was mostly quiet and calm. However, Hux had come in for his closing shift, and there hadn’t been a moment of peace since. Hux seems to be using every breath to angrily rant about any and every problem in the store, and it’s been grating at Ben’s last nerve for hours now. The bitching had started with smudges on the pastry case and how short-staffed they were now that Ben’s fired so many people, and moved quickly on to the blood and glass he’d had to clean on Friday, and all the trouble with the espresso machine. Ben’s head is aching from listening to all of this, and he’s finally had enough. With a vague promise of return, he slips out the front door to take a smoke break.

There’s also the matter of the girl. Rey. She’s been avoiding the shop all week, and really, he should have expected that. The fact that she’s so pointedly ignoring and avoiding him is a little offensive, though. He’s seen her ride past once or twice on her bike, but all she ever seems to do is glare and pedal faster. Which, really, what gives her the right to be so upset? He’s the one all scarred and broke, thanks to her knocking him over out of nowhere. True, firing her boyfriend(?) out of jealous impulse maybe wasn’t his brightest moment, but it’s not as if it was unjustified. That was the third coffee Finn had given the girl for free since Ben had started. Sure, he was well-liked by customers, but he was also slow and clumsy. Simply put, he wasn’t a good fit. Not as though any of it matters now.

Also not helping his case, he assumes, is the fact that he’s all but blackmailing the girl into working for him… Even if he was right. And he is. Still, he’s a little impressed with himself. It takes some bizarre sort of skill to be interested in a girl, literally never speak a word to her, and then make her hate you before you have a chance to properly meet. (A skill, yes, but probably not one to brag about.)

Really, the icing on the cake is that she works for his mother. He could slap himself for taking this job. He’d transferred for the money but now he’s more broke than ever before and has convinced a girl he likes, who works for his mother, to also work for him. It’s only a matter of time before she figures it all out, figures him out. She’s clever. Clever and fierce. 

Ben smiles at the thought despite himself. Logically, getting shoved into an espresso machine and having his face sliced open should have ended any attraction. But... He’s self-aware enough to know that he likes girls with fire in their eyes, and this girl burns brighter than he’s ever seen.

A shout from down the street pulls him from his thoughts, and he whips his head to the right to see what’s causing the commotion.

“Watch it!” a masculine voice shouts angrily.

“Sorry!” the girl calls as she swerves around a guy in a business suit. She’s headed straight for him. She's a mess, as usual. Hair in a messy bun, jeans that are a bit too big and have actual holes worn in the knees as opposed to manufactured ones for aesthetic. Her tank top was clearly once a t-shirt that was far too big, each side cut down to her waist to reveal a turquoise sports bra and the lightly tanned skin of her abdomen.

Ben smirks.


 

“Going somewhere?” a low voice rumbles as she comes to an unexpected stop. Ben is standing in front of her, scar looking red and angry against his pale skin. He has his hands on her handlebars, and she’s reminded distinctly of a bully stopping a kid on the playground before shaking them down for their lunch money. She grimaces.

“What do you want?” She’s really not in the mood. She’s still mad about friday.

“You need to come in and fill out your paperwork. Preferably today.” He doesn’t move, face relatively blank as he looks down at her. She notices the half smoked cigarette between his fingers and scrunches up her nose before looking back to him. 

“Oh…. that.” He’d asked for her number but never messaged her, she was kind of hoping he’d come to his senses and changed his mind. Apparently not. 

“Yeah, that,” he deadpans. “Did you think I’d forget?”

“A girl can dream, can’t she?” Rey shrugs, feigning a smile. “Now if you don’t mind, I—”

“I have a permanent reminder on my face. How the fuck could I forget?” Finally, he releases her handlebars. Waiting on a response, he lifts his hand to his mouth to take one last drag from his cigarette. She notices as he looks at her that he looks tired ; the bags under his eyes look almost like bruises, dark and intense. Has he slept at all in the last week? 

“I don’t know. Concussion, maybe?” She cocks her head, looking up at him. Dark, tall, and blotting out the sun like an eclipse. With a huff, she swings her leg over her bike and pushes past him to get to the next light. 

“Hmmm… you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” She doesn’t look at him, but she’s pretty sure there’s amusement in his mostly-flat voice.

“It’d certainly make my life a lot easier, ” she shoots back, crossing the street as the light blinks. He’s fallen in to step next to her now, and she knows she’s not about to shake him.

“Yeah, well, you can make both of our lives easier by filling out your paperwork.”

She pauses in front of the Rebel Deli and looks up at him again. “I won’t have to deal with you being there, will I?” Annoyance flashes across his features, and she can’t help but grin.

“Lucky for you, Hux is the one closing tonight. I’m off in a few hours.”

“Sounds better than having to see you twice in one day,” she chirps, brightening up as she walks into the shop. “I’ll stop by after my shift at Endor.”

To Rey’s surprise, he catches the door and follows her inside. She think he’s about to say something else snarky, but they’re interrupted by Paige Tico, who’s running the register as usual.

“Hey Rey, the usual?” Paige asks, but she’s already ringing it up.

Rey nods and then adds, “Poe’s, too.”

“Hi Ben– oh my god… what the hell happened to your face?” Paige doesn’t bother to hide her shock as she stops to give the man her full attention.

Rey’s head whips around to Ben, and he’s already looking at her.

“There was a bit of an accident at the shop,” he says to Paige, maintaining eye contact with Rey.

“Wow, that looks awful,” Rose pipes in, barely keeping her grin down. Her sister shoots her a look. Rey kind of loves Rose.

“It doesn’t look that bad,” Paige assures him, and Rey has to fight not to roll her eyes. “It’s kind of… I don’t know, like, dashing or rugged or something. At any rate, you can totally pull it off.”

Ben hums in response, finally breaking eye contact with Rey. She’s not sure if that sound is in thanks or dismissal, but it doesn’t seem to faze Paige either way. “Your usual too?” she asks.

“Sure, add mine to hers,” he says, gesturing to Rey.

“Excuse me!?”

“Chill the fuck out. I’m paying, scavenger,”  he hisses.

Rey raises her eyebrows at him then, leaning back. “That’s uncharacteristically kind of you,” she starts, then narrows her eyes. “What do you want?”

Nothing ,” he says, scowling at her as he pulls out his wallet. “I’m getting you back for Friday.”

Rey doesn’t know what his game is, but she’s not about to turn down free food. She contemplates his offer for a moment, then finally shrugs. “Fine, but you’re getting Poe’s, too.”

“What?” he growls, irritated.

“Yeah,” Rey nods, “I owe Poe for Friday. I was getting lunch for both of us when the…” she side eyes Paige who’s watching their interaction with slight confusion and curiosity, “ incident happened. I had to bail on lunch and my shift because of that.”

“Who’s fault is that ?” he snaps.

“It’s a matter of perspective really. I wouldn’t have been there at all if you hadn’t–”

“Why are you so fucking difficult?” he cuts in, but it's more exasperated than harsh and it makes her soften a bit. “Just let me buy the damn food.” 

She studies his face for a minute but eventually gives in. “Fine. Be my guest,” she says and gestures towards Paige who's looking back and forth between the two of them.

“So… All together then?”

Ben grunts, nodding as he hands over his card.

Rose makes their sandwiches in record time and hands them to Ben with a frown that doesn’t go unnoticed by Rey. Smart girl, Rey thinks.

She mumbles an awkward “thank you” as they make their way out of the shop. She puts the food in the basket on her bike, glancing back to him when he doesn’t respond. He seems to have his mind elsewhere and she can’t help but notice again the dark circles under his eyes and the stubble forming on his chin. He seems to feel her eyes on him and is shaken from wherever his thoughts are.

“Uh, yeah, later,” he mutters, walking back across the street. She’s left wondering if working with him will always be like this—a confusing push and pull of harsh words and bickering followed by nearly-kind gestures and awkward tense silences. Not really wanting to spend much more time thinking about him, Rey hops on her bike and heads back to The Florist of Endor.

Rey shoots a quick text to Finn to ask how his job hunt is going as she pushes open the white door of the shop with a little chime.

“You actually made it back this time!” Poe teases when she walks in and Rey rolls her eyes with a smile.

“Yes, and I got your favorite,” she replies as she makes her way over to the counter.

“That’s my girl,” he says, big grin on his face as he digs into the bag and pulls out his sandwich.

Her phone chimes. A response from Finn.

text from finn

Everything kind of snaps together for a second and she has a thought.

“Poe,” she starts.

He gives her a look and asks, “What now? I know that tone.”

“It’s just… Well, thanks to the incident the other day, I had to take that job at First Order, right? And things here are already kind of tight. And, since my flatmate Finn is also looking for a job, I thought that maybe he could pick up some part-time hours here and help balance things out for everyone. Does that make sense?”

Poe considers for a moment. “Have I met him?”

“Only in passing, I think. Once while you were drunk…” She pauses before adding, “he’s really cute.”

“Mm-hm,” he nods.

“And single.”

“Go on…”

“And very gay.”

“Are you trying to hook us up or get him a job?” he asks with a smirk.

“Well, mostly the job, but I mean, why not both?” she answers with a shrug and a grin.

Poe rolls his eyes and shakes his head at her, still smiling. “I’ll have to talk to Leia, but you can have him come by for an interview when he has time.”

Rey slings her arms around his neck happily. “Thanks Poe, you won’t regret it. Promise!”



The sky is painted in oranges and pinks, and there’s a slight chill in the air as Rey lazily makes her way back towards First Order. She’s in a decent mood despite the circumstances, and things finally seem to be looking up. She can’t imagine that Poe won’t hire Finn, she got a free meal, and work with Poe was always fun. Plus, she’s been able to avoid tall, dark, and gloomy most of the week (until today) and he’s not going to be there this evening.

Rey reaches for the door only to have it open in front of her. She looks up to see him , of course—Lord of the Underworld himself—and her brows knit in immediate agitation.

“Good luck, scavenger,” he says flatly, smirking as he passes her by without another word. Rey glares into the back of his head until he rounds the corner of the shop, then heads inside. Leave it to that jerk to cloud up her otherwise sunny day again.

The assistant manager is behind the counter once she walks in and his face instantly twists with disgust at the sight of her. It doesn’t bother her though, because he’s always looking at her like that.

“Hi, I’m–”

“The girl,” he says, frown growing. “I know.”  

“Actually, I have a name,” she retorts as she approaches the counter. “It’s Rey.” She holds out a hand, looking at the redhead expectantly. She knows he won’t take it, but she likes to watch him squirm.

He eyes her hand like it’s severed and leaking blood on the counter, then briskly turns away to grab the paperwork he’s apparently set aside for her. He sets it on the counter and slides it towards her, clearly wanting to keep his distance.

“Just fill these out and you can be on your way.” He’s short with her, and she can tell he wants her gone. To be fair, she’s just as anxious to leave.

“Right…” Rey replies slowly, taking the papers to go sit at one of the tables. He's nearly as peachy as his boss, she thinks. “And what's your name again?” She has to wonder, is there going to be anyone enjoyable to work with here? Or did Hades fire all the decently pleasant employees?

“If you have to address me at all, just call me Hux,” he says with a sigh.

“Well, I'll be working with you, so I'm assuming we'll have to speak at some point or another.” She's not really looking at him, too busy filling in all her personal information—which is no fun task for her, given her past—so she's keeping herself distracted by agitating Hux.

“We'll see how long you last,” he mutters under his breath and Rey can't help but grin a bit at that.

She finishes the paperwork quickly and hands it back in to him. “One last question… What exactly should I wear?” Ben had told her figure something out, but she was well aware of the fact that couldn't wear torn-up tank tops and worn-through jeans.

Hux looks for a moment like he might legitimately have a bad taste in his mouth as he looks her up and down. “Not…. that.” He waves his finger from her head to toe to indicate her current attire. “And for the love of God, please clean under your nails. And then maybe do something about the hair. Dark colors only. Preferably monochromatic. Nothing... dirty ,” he hisses, “and clothing that is intact is best.”

There's a long pause where Rey is just staring at him with raised eyebrows. He doesn’t back down, and the distaste is still all over his face.

“Right…” she finally says, “I definitely have things like that in my closet…” She starts to back away, trying to ignore Hux’s exaggerated sigh and eyeroll. He doesn’t say anything else, though, so she turns and heads out the door, ready to be home.


 

Finn is spread out on their tiny sofa and playing video games when Rey gets to their little flat. He doesn't notice her until she flops down next to him and throws her legs across his lap.

“Wow. You just killed me!” he complains as he tosses the controller on the table but he's smiling. “So rude.”

“You're playing Dark Souls, isn't the point to die?” she retorts, smiling right back at him.

“It's more like you avoid it as much as possible but accept it as part of the experience,” he explains. “Anyway, how was your day? How was paperwork?”

She lets out a dramatic sigh before launching into the whole story about how she'd run into Ben during lunch, and how Hux was possibly even more unpleasant to deal with. She talked about how she had no clue what they'd deem acceptable attire, and Finn was quick to let her know he'd be happy to help dress her for work. She saved the best news for last, though: she'd gotten him an interview.

“Rey, that's great!” Finn exclaimed and threw his arms around her, crushing her into the small couch before jumping up. “This calls for celebration!” he adds as he heads into the kitchen.

“You haven't gotten the job yet.” she calls, leaning over the back of their little sofa that's really more of a loveseat covered in blankets.

“Oh ye of little faith. I'm great at interviews. It's getting to that part that's not my strong point,” he assures her with a grin as he grabs a cheap bottle of wine and some plastic cups before plopping back down next to her.

Halfway through the bottle of wine and two episodes of Bob's Burgers, her phone chimes. A text from Rose from earlier: “I can't believe I'm asking this, but my sister has been bugging me since you guys left… You're not seeing that jerk, are you?” Rey scoffs; how the bloody hell could anyone have gotten that impression?

Another older text, this one from Poe. “Hey beautiful! I'm off tomorrow but I close Friday if you wanna send your boy in. I don't have any late deliveries so I should be able to talk to him then.” That makes her smile, and she relays that message to Finn.

But the most recent notification is from Instagram. She doesn't use the app that much, but Finn had insisted she get one to post her art on—not that she had much time for it nowadays. Still, it was useful to follow some of her personal favorite artists, and Finn liked being able to tag her in the ridiculous photos he taken of her.

 

Kylo_Ren has posted a new photo.

 

She immediately perks up. The artist had been absent for a while and he (well, she assumed he was male based off the name) was one of her all time faves. He did street art, using a heavy emphasis on mythology or fairy tales with a dark twist and bold line work. 

This piece, she notices, seems… different . The line work is heavy, as usual, but rougher, harsher, making the piece more raw, or maybe even angry. There’s a hooded figure, seemingly male. He appears to be screaming, but his face is obscured by jagged red cracks like broken glass, fists clenching tight and held out in front of him.

The art feels more personal that what she’s used to, but she doesn’t have long to ponder it before another text pops up on her phone.

 

 

Text from: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:17PM)

So should I assume you'd like to be scheduled to work all your shifts with Hux?

 

Her new boss is just amazing at spoiling her mood.

 

Text to: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:17PM)

DON'T

Text to: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:17PM)

YOU

Text to: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:17PM)

DARE

As much as she’s loathe to admit it… She'd much rather work with Ben.

 

Text from: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:19PM)

I'll see you bright and early Friday morning then.

Text to: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:19PM)

friday? thats only two days…  

 

 

Text from: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:21PM)

It's a week from the deal we struck. You've had time to get everything in order. 

Text to: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:23PM)

youre insufferable

 

 

 Text from: Hades Himself ☠️ (10:27PM)

Can't wait to see you either, sunshine.


 Friday 09.21- Morning

Phasma is yawning, leaning against the window as she waits for everyone to arrive. It’s five in the morning, and she’s apparently supposed to train the new girl today. So that’s… Something. Mostly, she just wants Ben to show up so she can make herself something to drink.

There’s a huffing sound behind her, and she glances over her shoulder. This, she figures, is the new girl. On a bicycle. Alright. She climbs off of the bike and grabs a t-shirt out of the bag slung over her shoulder, tying it up so it doesn’t hang too far down. It’s got a design on it that looks familiar, but Phasma’s not awake enough to figure out where she’s seen it before.

“Morning,” the girl mumbles, rubbing her temple with the heel of her hand. “Is Ben here yet?”

“No, he should be here soon though.” Phasma takes a moment to stretch, yawning. “You must be the new hire.” There’s a pause as she stares at the girl’s face, thinking. “You look familiar.”

“Seriously?” the brunette mutters, a scowl on her face. “I’m Rey. I’m in here three days a week. I live with Finn. How do you people not recognize me?”

The blonde smirks, amused at Rey’s grouchiness. “Phasma,” she replies, chin jutting out. “And there’s our gracious overlord now.”

Ben slouches up, keys jangling in his hands. He ignores the greetings from the women as he opens the door, headed towards the alarm instantly. Phasma and Rey follow him in, but Phasma redirects Rey towards the espresso machine.

“Let the arsehole take a minute. He’s been pulling a lot of doubles lately.” Phasma starts up the espresso machine, then takes a moment to flip on lights. “He’s a grouchy fuck most mornings, but now that he’s barely sleeping, it’s worse.”

“Why’s he barely sleeping?”

“We only have three employees. He’s trying to cover most of the slack until we have more workers. So… Don’t fuck up, alright?” She smiles, though, eyebrows high as she sets up the machine. “Want a coffee?”

There’s a long moment as Rey blinks, the words taking a moment to fully sink in. “Oh! Yes, I’d love a coffee. Is that okay?”

“Doesn’t matter if it’s okay, I’m making you one.” She grins, bumping Rey with her hip. “You’re fine, don’t worry. Calm down.”

Finally, Ben reemerges, tucking his hair away under a beanie. “Phasma, I’m assuming you met Rey?”

“Clearly,” came her sarcastic reply, cutting Rey off. “Am I meant to train her, or did you want to do the honors?”

“I’ll show her the machine, and later you can teach her how to use the register.” He walks closer, tying an apron around his waist. “Go ahead and finish making your drinks, and then I’ll—”

Suddenly, silence. Phasma looks over, eyebrows high, wondering what exactly has caused the man to go silent. He’s staring at Rey, eyes a little wide, but he turns away quickly. Interesting.

When he’s working on training, Phasma hovers a little closer than she needs to. She’s got a strong need to eavesdrop, and the way Ben’s looking at Rey… God, it’s like he’s a shark. (Goddamned heteros.)

“Where’d you get that shirt?” He asks, trying to sound casual and coming so close. There’s an undertone, though, an edge.

“Finn got it made for me,” she replies, yawning. “There’s this local street artist I really like, and Finn got one of his pieces put on a shirt for me last Christmas. It’s the only black shirt I have, so… I figured it’d fit the aesthetic close enough.”

Ben nods, looking thoughtful. Rey excuses herself for a moment, slipping past both of them to run to the restroom.

“So are you going to just stare at her all day, or will there actually be work done?” Her lips purse, and the way he scowls is bringing life to her tired soul.

“I still haven’t decided if I’m keeping you around,” he threatens, but it’s empty and they both know it.

 Phasma laughs, shaking her head. “You can’t run this place with two people, and I’m your best employee. Just stop getting sexual tension all over the place, the hetero vibes are making everyone uncomfortable.”