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Causality

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01
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When it happens, her wrench falls from her hand, bangs on the ground; once, twice. The sound of metal against the floor resonates, and BB-8 makes a few curious beeps. “Rey?” Poe asks from underneath the X-wing. “Everything alright?”

And she staggers towards the ship, her hand reaching out to press against its steadiness. She feels, she feels-- she’s not quite sure because--

Kylo Ren has been in the periphery of her senses since Ahch-To; a blight to her privacy and impossible to shake despite her resistance to it.

And now, he’s gone, leaving behind something severed and cauterized. She gasps out with the absence; a beautiful, terrible thing. “I need to talk to the General.”

*
Intelligence isn’t what it used to be, but the General’s network continues to grow. Word from their spies in Coruscant inform that the supreme leader is on a sabbatical, some kind of force-related thing, very hush hush, but general hux is handling affairs.

Rey squirms uneasily when the General tells her this. “Something’s wrong, something’s wrong,” she repeats, and reaches out for him. Senses nothing. She feels stifled by the silence.

“We’ll keep digging,” the General says while holding her hands tightly together.

*
Rey is in the hangar when Calrissian arrives in a First Order shuttle and emerges in full uniform; called back home early after a year in deep cover. Opening her mind, she searches the shallowest of his thoughts and sees the face of a young Ben Solo -- he has news about him for Leia and it’s not good, she thinks and her hands fist.

*
This is the news from the Grand Moffs: the supreme leader is missing, all efforts are in order to locate him; finding him is priority one

*
Over a bottle of Corellian whisky, Finn asks in a hushed voice: “Aren’t you happy, to be disconnected? To have shaken loose from him at last?”

“Yes,” blurts out of her mouth immediately. And no, she thinks. It’s a traitorous ache that lingers and she leans into it, knowing that it’s wrong. It’s not that she misses him, she concedes, it’s that she’s at a loss for where he is; well or not. Not knowing he exists, not knowing that he’s alive and well; it’s a noxious state of being.

*
In her dreams, it’s always she that kills him. There’s true horror in the idea that someone else might beat her to it.

*
The General summons her to her private quarters and when Rey reaches them, she can sense it before she sees it: something unspeakable has happened. The door snaps open and the General is like a ghost, so white.

“I’m going to play you a message I’ve received,” she says, her voice like gravel. “I warn you that it isn’t pleasant.”

Rey steels herself and looks at the screen. A tattooed Hutt comes into view and he begins with a low chuckle. “Huttslayer,” he says in a cheerful greeting, “You can breathe a sigh of relief. I have solved your little problem, and incidentally, gained a new asset for my establishment, for you see--”

*
After the message is over, the palms of her hands have little crescents from her finger nails being pressed so deep into the skin.

*
Rey runs the length of the cruiser and back seven times until her stomach hurts from the exercise, not from the knowledge. She remembers how the Hutt laughed in closing: “--And if you want a turn with him, Huttslayer, I’ll give you a discount”; that’s when she heaves into a trash can.

*
When she tells them, privately, and in her own room, Poe’s hand seems to reflexively grip Finn’s arm as if he’s the one kidnapped.

“How is he being kept? He’s too powerful,” Finn asks.

Poe looks anywhere but at Rey. “There’s rumors about an animal that can dampen the Force. That would keep him trapped. And the Hutts have all kinds of aphrodisiac spice. That would keep him working.”

She winces. “Keep him servicing clients.” The nausea is overwhelming.

“You realize when he wakes up out of it,” Finn says, “He’ll destroy Nal Hutta from orbit.”

“Wouldn’t you?”

And Finn puts his head in his hands. “I’d probably fire again at the broken shards remaining.”

*
She lays in bed uneasily; cold in body, cold in soul. And when she sleeps, it’s worse.

When she closes her eyes, drifts away, all she can see is him.

*
“The two of you are going in,” the General says. Poe leans in, listening carefully. “You’re-- you’re to be--” She can’t seem to say it.

Rey feels the word before she opens her mouth and says: “Clients.” The concept is-- is terrible. Bleak. “We don’t know what gender he serves.”

The General sighs out. “This mission is unusual, I know. But I need you to do whatever it takes to get my son back.”

It’s the first time Rey’s heard Leia directly call him her son.

*
She’s thought of destroying him, she’s thought of turning him. She’s also thought of--

*
“Do you know what you’re doing?” Finn asks. “Do you know what to--”

“I have to go,” Rey’s voice is like iron. “Don’t try and dissuade me.”

Finn clears his throat, moves in closer. Gentler this time: “I’m not. I’m just--. This mission will hurt in so many ways, in ways you haven’t even imagined yet. And you might have to--” and he can’t say the words.

Rey sees it, a vast array of images of skin against skin; some of it hers, some of it his. An inevitable tête-à-tête, and one with significant consequences. To her mind, to her body. But something like paralysis has set in where a beating heart should be inside her chest; like a fly in amber, frozen.

She sets her jaw. “It doesn’t matter. I have to go.”