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Something Wicked

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Studio City, California, 2007



Rey didn’t mind long days on set. She had been acting since she was about nine, and it didn’t bother her to have to spend twelve hours on a set, repeating lines. She was used to it. Once she had brought her friend Sarah from school, when she was still in public school, to set with her and at first she had been thrilled. The girl had wandered through the large set warehouse, in and out of half rooms, missing walls, doors to nowhere, marveling at how something so incomplete could look so whole on television. She had grown bored after a few hours. Rey was apologetic, she gave her a pass to go wander around the Universal Studios theme park, and the other girl had looked horrified.

“By myself? Are you serious Rey?”

Rey wandered around the theme park by herself all the time, well sometimes. A lot of the time Ben would tag along with her, insisting she shouldn’t be out by herself in case she got recognized and kidnapped. Rey didn’t think anyone wanted to kidnap Sarah.



Rey had been starring in Something Wicked since 2005, when she was fourteen years old. It was a campy but wildly popular show where she played a teen witch named Kira who had to hide her powers. Her parents didn’t know she had them, no one did, only her neighbor Kylo was suspicious of her. Kylo was played by Ben Solo who was probably Rey’s best friend, if she was being honest. She spent more time with Ben than anyone else. There were other kid actors in the show, Rose Tico who played her best friend Sammy, and Armitage Hux who played Kylo’s best friend Dan but they weren’t required on set as much as Ben and Rey were, which meant that often times it was just the two of them in the trailers, playing x-box and eating pizza and waiting to go deliver a few lines. Both of them had switched to on set schooling after the first season, it was just easier to meet the time requirements and it meant it was easier to bend the rules about how long the kids could be on set, if some of their set time was technically school.

Ben was kind of jerk, but not to Rey. He liked to mouth off and give everyone grief and sometimes Rey thought it was hilarious and sometimes she thought it was super annoying, but if she really wasn’t in the mood to deal with him he would back off, he wasn’t a monster.

Ben was goofy looking, he had floppy hair and ears that were way too big for his face and a crooked smile and a big nose and Rey thought he was the cutest boy she had ever seen, but she would never tell him that. Ben was two years older than Rey which meant he had just turned 18 and thought he was hot shit, he bought a pack of cigarettes and started insisting on smoke breaks that made their director Poe Dameron roll his eyes.


“Ben, you have like, so much down time on set! You cannot break mid scene to go smoke. Cut it out.”

This just delighted Ben, his cheeks flushed and he shrugged and headed out the backdoor to smoke behind the set.



“Oh for fuck sake, Rey you go get him, he listens to you.”

Rey felt her face light up at the words, she liked the idea of being the only one Ben Solo listened to. She followed him out back.

“Let me have one,” she said.

“No, your too young, and already too short, it will stunt your growth.”

“Shut up dick bag, give me a cigarette. You’re just scared I’ll end up bigger than you and beat you up.”

Ben laughed and handed her a cigarette.

“Never gonna happen, look how much bigger I am than you, you’re a little pip squeak.”

“Shut up Solo,” Rey lit her own cigarette and took a drag. The day had darkened, grey clouds crowding over them. In Los Angeles this didn’t necessarily mean rain, the sky could park itself in overcast and stay that way for hours, days, before the sun inevitably came back out.

“Why do you give Poe such a hard time?”

Ben shrugged.

“I don’t know, my parents aren’t around enough for me to give them shit, Poe is the next best thing I guess.”

Rey shook her head.

“You’re so weird.”

“That’s why you like me,” Ben said with a wide, lopsided grin.

“Whatever Solo, Poe is gonna have both our asses if we don’t go back, come on.” She ground out her cigarette.

Ben listened to her, as always, and followed her back inside.



Venice Beach, California, 2017



“Yeah I know, I heard he was up for the role also.” Rey had her cell phone balanced between her ear and her shoulder, a shopping bag full of groceries balanced on one knee, and she was digging in her purse for her keys.

“I don’t know, Rose, I haven’t talked to him in like eight years. I’m sure once he realized I’ve been cast he’s not going to take it. Its not like he doesn’t have other options. He’s all over that indie kick right now anyway, I can’t imagine he’s gonna wanna make a rom com.”

Rey felt her stomach flip at the words. She had recently been cast in a cheesy rom com, one of those Love Actually type pictures with a bunch of stars. They were currently casting her love interest and it turns out the movie was being directed by the former director of Something Wicked, Poe Dameron and he had insisted that Ben try out after casting Rey. He was going on and on about their amazing chemistry while Rey tried not to throw up in her mouth.



Rey Kenobi HATED Ben Solo. If she never saw his stupid smile and stupid ears again, it would be too fucking soon. There weren’t lot of people that Rey truly despised, but also there had never been anyone who fucked her over like Ben had. She couldn’t think about it. She had spent years dwelling on it and then more years actively not thinking about it and she couldn’t afford to be dragged into that mess again. It didn’t help that Something Wicked had been the most popular show of the decade, and that Rey and Ben had been Americas sweethearts. Still, even now, every few months a tabloid would pop up asking if the two had rekindled their love. It was always pictures of them not toegether, in totally different places, placed side by side, with an article that could be summed up with “There is no evidence to show that these two exist in the same reality, but we know you’re all suckers so we’re going to keep writing about them regardless.”



“Listen Rosie, this is giving me a stomach ache. The last thing I want to think about is Ben. I don’t think he’s going to accept Poe’s offer and if he does, I’ll seriously consider dropping the project, even though its enough to pay for my entire life for the next five years. I will cross that rotting hellscape of a bridge when I come to it ok? I gotta go, I need to put these groceries away. I’ll text you.”



Rey hung up the phone and put the bag on the counter. Her phone lit up as soon as she hung up, it was a text from Poe.

Poe
Guess who said yes!



Fuck.



Studio City, California, 2007



"What are you still doing here? You're way over your set time kid." Poe was standing in the door to Rey's trailer, she was curled up on the small sofa, half asleep.

"Ben's taking me home and he had to reshoot like a million times because he gets hysterical when he's tired and can't stop laughing."

Poe smiled fondly.

"True, you didn't have another ride?"

"To Malibu? No. What you wanna drive me out there?"

"Not even a little bit. I'll see you on Monday kiddo."

"Night Poe."

Rey stretched out on the couch and flipped open her cell phone. She texted Ben.

Rey
I'm dying please be done

Ben
Relax princess we're wrapping right now

Rey sighed, her fingers clicking wildly over the buttons of her phone.

Rey
I'll be in the parking lot just hurry

She grabbed her backpack and left the trailer, wandering back to the parking lot. She leaned against Ben's Audi A4.

"Don't scuff my car!" Ben's voice carried over to her across the darkness. She rolled her eyes.

"I need it to support my weight, I literally can't stand."

"Oh my god you're the worst."

Ben clicked the locks and Rey climbed in.

"You're welcome by the way," he said, climbing into the drivers seat.

"Oh whatever I'm on the way."

Ben smiled, dangerous and crooked and Rey looked away from him as they left the studio. She didn't risk another glance until they were on the highway. Ben rolled down his window and lit a cigarette, handing the pack over to her. She pulled out one and lit it, flipping through Ben's CD case. She pulled out Elephant by The White Stripes and loaded it into the player.

"Are you going to that party Rose was talking about tomorrow in Venice?" Ben asked.

"Maybe, those parties always kind of freak me out to be honest."

"Can't handle it?"

"What? Cocaine and vodka?" Rey smirked. "You know I can."

Ben laughed, loose and easy. He pulled off onto sunset, the car gliding over smooth turns as they headed into the canyon. Rey could smell the ocean in the distance. She loved driving through the canyons more than she loved anything, especially with Ben. He was fearless, whipping the car around hairpin turns with a ferocity that pushed her whole body into her seat and made her stomach lurch.

"I'll go if you go," Rey said.

"Deal."

Rey ashed her cigarette into the night, worrying about fires in the dry hills.

"Is your uncle home?"

"Honestly who knows, does it matter?"

Rey's uncle had adopted her after her parents died when she was 5, and he had been alright as far as guardians went, absent most of the time. He was a screenwriter and an eccentric and Rey loved him but at sixteen she lived a rather adult life and he was never overbearing or setting rules for her.


"Can I come over?" Ben asked.

Rey wasn't sure why the question felt so loaded. She and Ben hung out all the time, it wasn't weird for him to come hang out at her house when her uncle wasn't home.

"Sure," she said with a shrug.

He careened down the canyon to PCH, pulling right at the ocean to drive along the water. Rey lived on the beach in Malibu, Ben lived in the hills further down near Point Dume. It was only about fifteen minutes from Rey's house, she wasn't sure why he didn't want to go home, she had been so tired but the idea of hanging out with him made her feel wide awake.


Ben pulled into her driveway. The house was dark and quiet. Her uncles car was missing.

She led them around back and unlocked the door, walking up the narrow steps. The living room opened up to a deck right on the water, the waves lapping beneath them at high tide.

Ben moved through the kitchen, opening the liquor cabinet.

“Wine or whiskey?”

“What year is the wine?” Rey asked, toeing her shoes off and opening the balcony doors.

“2002, will he pissed if we drink it?”

“Find me something newer and wine sounds perfect.”

“Okay, 2007 but it looks like shit.”

“I’m sure its not, if you want whiskey you can have it."

She walked over to the kitchen and pulled down a stemless glass.

“I want what you want,” Ben said, smiling in that fox like way he had, like his words had more than one meaning. Rey rolled her eyes as Ben poured.

The wine was not shit.

Rey turned on the TV and selected one of the preprogrammed music channels, blues. Skip James wailed through the speakers.

Ben and Rey drink quickly, less to savor the flavor and more to feel the wine pushing through their veins. It’s not like they had to be up early.

Rey followed Ben onto the balcony, the beach looked bright from the light of the houses and the moon, white washed. The waves were loud this close, it was like being on a boat out at sea. She loved the smell of the brine, the salt that stuck to her skin and her hair, the way that the sand seemed to cling to everything even when you had just washed it. She loved the beach.

Ben lit a cigarette, Rey poured more wine, they were drinking fast but she was no stranger to alcohol. She never got hangovers.


“You know I heard Poe talking, and he thinks that Kira and Kylo are finally get together this season.”

Rey almost choked on her wine.

“Are you serious? What like, boyfriend and girlfriend? He’s gonna find out about her powers? Where is the fun in that!”

Ben laughed.
“I am sure they will figure out a way to have a lot of fun,” he winked at Rey. She rolled her eyes again.

“You know what I mean asshat, the audience loves it when Kira bests Kylo, everytime he’s left looking stupid, unable to prove anything. That’s what everyone loves about you Ben, that stupid puppy dog look you give.”

“What, this one?” Ben asked, and he made his eyes wide and round, puffed out his lower lip and sank his shoulders down. It was actually adorable.

Rey laughed, finishing her wine.

“Yep, that one.”

After they had killed the first bottle and made a dent in the second, Rey was feeling the world roll under her, her blood matched the crashing waves, the low music from inside.

“Let’s go swimming,” she said.

“It’s actually freezing,” Ben said.

“I don’t care! Come on, you’re such a loser.”

Rey grabbed Ben by the hand and rushed down the steps. Once her feet hit the sand she began to take off her clothes, leaving just her bra and underwear. She looked up to find Ben staring at her, her chest flushed.


“Oh my god stop,” she said, pushing him back.

He shook his head with a huge, sheepish grin and took of his shirt and shorts. Rey ran into the water and Ben followed her.

It was actually freezing.

The Pacific Ocean looked beautiful on a post card but it almost always required a wetsuit for long periods of time, and the cold bit into Rey’s skin and made her more aware of herself than she had been just moments before. She looked over at Ben, bathed in moonlight, drunk on the wine and the ocean and their freedom. He looked so damn happy.

“I think you’re my favorite person,” he said.

Rey suddenly wanted to cry, maybe it was the wine or maybe it was his words, she wasn’t sure, couldn’t tell this deep into her buzz.

“You think?” She said, “What, you’re not sure? Who’s my contender.”

“Oh my god shut up,” Ben said, splashing her.
Then, quieter, “I’m sure.”

Rey splashed him again and dove under the waves, coming up with chattering teeth. They stayed in the ocean until they were too cold to move, and then rushed back up the stairs.

Rey brought them towels and a change of clothes, and she spread blankets out on the floor of the living room.

“You get the floor, I get the couch.”

“Oh come on, can’t we share?” Ben looked like a fox again, it was wild how someone so goofy could look so sly.

“No, but you can pick what we watch. I have some stuff recorded, Lost, America’s Next Top Model and Forensic Files.”

“Murder, always” Ben said as he laid down on the floor next to the couch. Rey laid down above him. She was tired, warm except for her hair, which was wet and sticking to the leather couch. She started to drift off as soon as Ben put the TV on, but not before she felt his fingers slip into hers where her hand hung down off the couch. She squeezed his hand and fell asleep.


Studio City, California, 2017



Rey was pacing around Poe’s office. She was livid.

“I feel like youre doing this on purpose,” she said.

“I am,” Poe said, sipping his coffee.

“What, to purposefully spite me?!”

“No, because I think we can double our opening weekend if I have both of you. The world is still crazy about Kylo and Kira, Rey and Ben, teen sweethearts.

Rey felt bile rise in her throat. The thought made her want to break something.

“I won’t do it.”

“I’ll increase your pay by half.”

She froze, that was way more money than she usually made, and in an industry where your salary was set by whatever the last person paid you, it would go a long way.

“Poe,” she said with a sigh, sitting down to look at him. “You don’t understand, I hate him. I can’t…I wont be able to do my best work with him, and what youre asking of me isn’t just about the movies it means dealing with paps and tabloids and I can’t do it, it would kill me.”

“Rey, it was a long time ago-“

“It doesn’t feel like it,” she spat.

“Okay double. But it stays quiet.”

“You’re offering me double what my contract says, you're serious?”

“As a heart attack.”

Fuck. Rey sighed.

“Okay but I get a weeks worth of trial before I sign anything, and if he’s too insufferable, I’m out.”

“Deal!” Poe smiled wide, stretching his arms out. He looked thrilled.

Just then the door opened, someone walked in without knocking and Rey turned in her seat.

Fuck.

Ben Solo had aged well, better than anyone would have thought. His hair was long, tucked into a hat, he had scruff around his face and he was SO big, his arms were massive and tattooed, his thighs like tree trunks, all six foot three of him seemed to be corded with muscle and mass.

It had been a very long time since Rey had been in a room with him, but she remembered how he had always been bigger than his body, filling up every space like he couldn’t be contained.

“Oh,” Ben looked frightened, well and truly.

“What do you not knock?” Rey snapped at him.

“Sorry, no I uh, wow hi.”

Ben was staring at her, his eyes wide with amazement. He brought a hand up to rub sheepishly at his neck. He was flustered. He should be.

“Oh for fucks sake, hi Ben.” Rey turned back to Poe. She could feel herself starting to shake, and she needed to have this breakdown in private. She hadn’t been expecting him, and his sudden proximity was throwing her entire world off balance.

“Poe, we have a deal, make a contract and my lawyer will look at it. Text me if you need me otherwise email me anything regarding schedules.”

She grabbed her bag and pushed past Ben, trying her best not to touch him. He pressed against the wall to give her space.

She stormed off the set and back to her car. She got in her car and pulled out of the lot. She got onto the freeway and had made it two whole exits before she started crying, huge body shaking sobs that ripped out of her.

Rey almost never cried, and when she did it was painful. And when she did, it was almost always about Ben.

She had to get off the freeway and pull into a Starbucks so she could collapse against the steering wheel.

This was the worst fucking idea.

 

Chapter Text

 


Studio City, California, 2005


Rey had been in seven commercials, six episodes of various TV shows and a Hallmark Christmas movie before she got cast on Something Wicked.

It was a dream role, it was Fox not Disney, which meant they could push the boundaries, it was aimed not at little kids but at teens, and it was sure to be an instant smash hit.

The first time Rey was recognized she thought it was wild and thrilling.

She was fourteen when they all showed up up at the studio to shoot the pilot. They made her do a read through with the other kids, there was fifteen year old Armitage Hux, Rose Tico, a year younger than Rey at thirteen, and Ben Solo, sixteen and a day.

The group hit it off immediately, they all had a shared love of ebaums world and both Ben and Rey were obsessed with Green Day and naturally they were cracking up and making jokes for an hour before the read, it was easy banter and it was immediately clear that Ben and Rey had an excellent dynamic.

When they finally shot, their chemistry on screen was delightful and apparent immediately. Even if the script hadn't catered to it, everything about their body language, the subtle glances shared between them, any touches whatsoever, it all was electric.

They seemed inexplicably drawn to one another, better when the other was around. It got to a point where Poe would sometimes make Rey sit off stage while Ben shot because he always delivered better when she was nearby.

Rey had never thought about boys as cute until she met Ben Solo. Maybe, in an objective way, like Justin Timberlake was hot and Santa wasn't, but she had never noticed anyone before and she noticed Ben Solo.

He was sixteen and gangly, skinny, all hands and a crooked grin. He wasn't what she thought of as hot, he wasn't Aaron Carter. But she so badly wanted to push her thumbs into the angles of his cheekbones, wanted to see if she could fit her fingers around his wrist, wanted to know if his ribs stuck out under his tee shirt and what he looked like when he was all sweaty from running and if he ever touched himself, and if maybe he thought about her.

If Ben Solo was anywhere nearby, Rey's eyes knew.

He was true north and she was a magnet.
He was the whole world and she was the moon.

She couldn't help but circle around him.

She knew when he walked into a room before looking, but every time she did look, Ben was already looking at her.

From day one, that's how it always was.


Greater Los Angeles, California, 2017


How much money would someone have to pay you to act like you were in love with the person you hated most in the world? Rey kept turning it over in her mind. She turned over her original salary. She turned over what Poe had offered her. It was ridiculous not to take it. It was ridiculous to let pride and emotions stand in the way of an actual fucking fortune.

Rey sighed.

They had a table read. She was going to have to sit down at a fucking table with a bunch of people and act like she was falling in love.

This movie was big, it hosted a handful of big name stars including Will Farrell, Whoopie Goldberg, Kira Knightly, Julia Roberts and a whole list of people Rey admired. And also Ben Solo.


Rey groaned and searched through her closet. She had been going through her clothes for an hour. Why did it matter what she wore when she saw Ben? She debated going in pajamas, and then pulled out a black dress with a white Wednesday Addams collar. She paired it with chunky boots and did her makeup. She kept her hair down. She grabbed her keys and headed out the door.


There wasn't enough Xanax in the world to get her through this but the bar she had with her espresso was helping.

Her heart was still slamming against her ribs as she entered the conference room.

There were already a handful of people milling about but no Ben.

"Rey! It's so nice to meet you, I'm a fan of your work."

The words came from a tall, southern red head, Julia Roberts.

"Thank you! Obviously, same. How are your kids?"

"A handful, but they're wonderful."

Rey smiled and found her seat at the table, exchanging hellos and platitudes with the other actors.

She felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She didn't need to turn around to know that Ben was behind her. She didn't look at him until he came around the table and sat across from her.

She had mentally prepared herself for this, had given herself a pep talk in the mirror this morning, but still his presence was an overwhelming force, she felt his energy, his aura, his Ben-ness.

"Hey," he said, softly, like he was trying to calm a stray dog. She didn't answer him.

Poe came in and clapped his hands.

"Okay! Let's do this!!"

The table read was long, but besides the fact that she had to be near Ben, it went well. The movie was funny, and it was great to see many talented voices in one place. When it got to her parts with Ben, she surprised even herself.

"Now Rey, Daisy is shy, she runs a little flower shop, she's a good girl. And Ben, Adam is a punk, he's a musician and a scoundrel, but he's fascinated with her and keeps coming to see her."

Rey felt her face melt as she got into character.

"Here, I saved you this," Rey said, "Daisy hands him a small flower, a Daisy, and blushes."

"Come see my show tonight," Ben delivered the line with all of his usual integrity, it was passionate and his eyes were bright like he meant it.

"What like, a rock show?" Rey said.
"Yes, like a rock show," Ben laughed as he spoke.
"Please?"
That word sent a shiver through her body.
"Yeah...okay," Rey forced herself to look delighted.

It went on like that, mercifully they were able to just *talk* about their more intimate scenes, of which there was one in particular she was NOT looking forward to shooting.

She managed to sound in love, managed to look wide eyed and fascinated with Ben. As always, their chemistry was electric. Poe looked fucking delighted.

All in all, she was proud of herself for keeping it together and delivering her lines as well as she did. She was eager to impress her peers. Ben was smiling by the end of the read, grin as lopsided as ever.


They wrapped up and everyone went to mill around craft services, picking at sandwiches and cookies.

Rey was in the corner, nursing another cup of coffee. Ben came up to her, smiling softly.

"Hey," he said, too close to her.
Rey felt anger boil inside of her.
"That was really great, I forgot how talented you are," he said.
"I never forget anything," Rey said.

Ben paled.

"Outside, now," Rey said.

Ben followed her outside. The sunlight seemed harsh, overbearing. Rey felt like a thunderstorm would be more appropriate for this conversation.

"Lets get something straight right now," she said.

She was small next to him, in his dark green pants and burnt red shirt, his beanie on his head, tattooed arms hanging by his sides and his fucking eyes, always those eyes. They made her want to scream.

"I'm a professional, I'm going to make this movie with you and I'm going to do my best as best I can, but let me be very, very clear. I want nothing to do with you, don't talk to me in between scenes, don't smile at me and compliment me, you have no right, NO fucking right, Solo."

"Rey, please," he said, hands out in front of him like a surrender.
"I tried calling you, for like, months, a year, I wrote to you. I've reached out to your agent, I just wanted to tell you I'm so sorry, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't regret-"

"No, stop it. I don't care. I will never care, and watching you try to apologize to me is fucking pathetic. Don't be pathetic."

Ben looked shook, his mouth was open, eyes wide and over bright. He looked crushed. Good. Rey kept at it.

"This isn't some god damn reunion, we're not suddenly going to be friends, you don't get to joke or flirt with me. When this is over, you will *never* see me again. Be a professional, deliver your lines, and stay the fuck away from me."

Rey turned away, she couldn't stomach the look on his face, like a kicked dog. She hated him, she hated that he could still do this to her. Rey stormed off and left the studio without another word to anyone.

 

West Side, Los Angeles, California, 2007


Ben had gone home early in the morning before Rey's uncle got home.

He came back to pick her up later that night. He was in cargo shorts and a Queens of the Stone Age tee shirt. Rey was in a denim skirt with a white polo shirt and Ugg boots.

He was blasting M.I.A when he pulled up and Rey climbed into the passenger seat with a smile.

"You look cute," he said.
"Shut up," she said as she grabbed his cigarettes and lit one. He laughed as he pulled onto the highway, driving fast along the coast. The party was in Palms, it was thrown by Rose's older sister Paige, who was a fashion model. She was celebrating a four page spread in Teen Vogue with Gemma Ward.

"I hope you ate already," Ben said, "Models never have any food."

Rey snorted a laugh.
"Let's get Pinkberry on the way then, they opened one on Abbot Kinney."

Ben nodded his enthusiastic consent.

They are frozen yogurt at a small table in Venice. It was dark out, but the street was still bustling. Ben had a fake ID he used at the liquor store next door to buy them a bottle of whiskey. Rey had a water bottle full of wine in her bag as well. They got back to the car and sipped the wine as they drove through the west side.

The party was at an unsuspecting looking bungalow. It was a ranch style house, not huge but spacious enough and with a large yard and swimming pool in the back. CSS played loudly over a speaker system, skinny girls in black were drinking white wine right out of the bottles. There was a table full of lines, and a line to do them.

Ben took her hand and brought her into the yard. He had rolled a joint and he sparked it, sitting on a low wall along the hill that lined the yard. The string lights were reflecting off the pool and creating an eerie glow.

Rey watched Ben as he inhaled, cheeks hollowing out to create even more sharp angles on his face, eyes closed as he breathed in deep. She watched his hands, they were so big. She loved the arch of his fingers, like he had an extra knuckle she didn't. She wanted to hold his hand, or have his hands on her hips or in her hair. She shook her head and grabbed the joint from him. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, letting the calm of the weed settle over her. When she opened them, Ben was watching her, intense and close.

She looked away from him and at the water as she said, "Gimme that whiskey Solo."

He handed her the bottle and they took turns drinking it straight, chasing it with the last of the wine.

The music was loud and the whole yard smelled like night blooming jasmine and the nearby ocean. Rey had that feeling she had sometimes when she was fucked up, that she was too big for her body, that the only thing holding her down on this earth was Ben, his presence grounding. The music was getting slower and lower, some ethereal blues Rey didn't know.

"Dance with me?" Ben asked.
"No, you're nuts," Rey said.
"Oh come on, please?" Ben said.

Rey thought about it. He looked so eager, she couldn't tell him no. She held out her hand and he hauled her up and put his arms around her, holding close, nose against her neck.

She was drunk, and stoned, and she knew he was too. It wasn't dancing as much as it was swaying.

"You know I was thinking," Ben said, "If Kylo and Kira really are going to get together, we're probably going to have to kiss."

Rey felt her stomach flip.

"So," Ben went on, "Maybe we should like, practice or something?" He sounded nervous.

"Oh please, that's the worst line I've ever heard, you just wanna kiss me."

She meant to embarrass him, to fluster him into denial but he just looked at her, so intense and so close.

"So much," he said, and Rey felt her world tilt.

"Ben," she said. She wasn't sure if his name was a warning or a plea.

"Please?" He said, his hands trailing down her spine, resting on her hips. His hands, she couldn't think with his hands on her, she was going to burn away to vapor and float off into the ozone.

"Okay," she said, shrugging, and then he was on her. His mouth was hot and soft, and she could taste him, smell him, feel him pressing against her body, solid and hot. She thought her heart was going to cave in on itself. Her hands came up to tangle in his hair, opening her mouth against him tentatively. Rey had never kissed anyone before, but it was easy to follow Ben's lead, to melt against him in the half darkness of the yard.

It felt like coming home, if your house was on fire and you lived in it anyway, burning.

He pulled away from her, eyes dark, smiling.

"God I have wanted to do that forever," he said.

She couldn't help the stupid grin that was plastered to her face.

"Shut up," she said, "And also do it again."

He did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Greater Los Angeles, January, 2008

Rey had gotten used to being famous. It meant she couldn't just run to the store anymore, she had to duck out early in the morning with sunglasses and a hat on. She tried to make herself look small and inconspicuous. She was used to people asking for a picture, or staring, or coming up to hug her. But nothing could have prepared her for the sensation that was Kenolo. That's what the tabloids called her and Ben, it was a god awful nickname and it was everywhere. Every magazine cover had pictures of the two of them.

There were photos of them on set, both laughing behind the scenes with captions like: YOUNG LOVE AT WORK AND AT PLAY. KENOLO CANOODLES ON THE SET OF SOMETHING WICKED.

There were pictures of them partying, Rey with a bottle of whiskey in her hand and Ben raising his hand to cover is face.

DO AMERICA'S FAVORITE TEEN SWEETHEARTS PARTY TOO HARD?

There were interviews with them talking about their relationship, balancing work and free time, how special it was to share everything with your soulmate. That's what Ben was. He wasn't just her boyfriend, he was her soulmate. Rey hated being in the tabloids but she got a sick thrill knowing that the world knew that Ben Solo was hers, just hers, forever.

Rey arrived on set on her seventeenth birthday to find Ben smoking by his trailer.

"Poe got you cake. Act surprised."

Rey laughed and came to lean against Ben, melting into him. She reached up and plucked the cigarette from his hand, taking a long drag.

"Okay but what are we gonna do tonight? That's the real question."

"Hmmm," Ben looked thoughtful, Rey reached up to stroke the smooth skin of his face. He had to keep it clean cut for the show, but she wished he could grow it out.

"I was thinking, drag racing down Mulholland, then chugging a bottle of wine in the parking lot of Reel Inn, skinny dipping on the beach-"

"It's January!"

"Okay, well some other thing we can do where you get naked and I'm there for it," Ben said with a shrug.

"You're trouble," she said.

"That's why you like me."

"One of the many reasons, Solo."


Rey had not been a boy crazy kid. She hadn't gotten the crushes and obsessions that her friends had, but Ben was like a drug.

Ben had been serious about taking her racing, and about going to the beach.

They were parked down at the water in Malibu, a dark and empty lot that would fill with cars on a hot summer day, but was too removed from the city to get traffic at night, especially when it was raining.

They got out of the car and ran through the rain. They had only been together for a few months, but Rey couldn't remember what it was like not being able to touch him freely. She grabbed his tee shirt and pulled him to her in the rain, sand sticking to their legs and he lifted her, carried her into the cold water. They soaked through their clothes, kissing and shivering. When they couldn't stand it any longer they ran back to the car, climbing into the backseat.

Ben put on Kid A by Radiohead, blasted the heater and huddled his body around Rey.

He hadn't been able to keep his hands off her, peeling the wet shirt from her body. He was wide eyed and reverent.

This they had done, shed their clothes and ran hands along skin, tentative and explorative.

"You're trembling," she whispered in the darkness, tracing her fingers along his ribs.

"I know, I'm sorry. I just, Rey I love you so much."

Rey surged up to kiss him.

"I love you, I want you Ben please, can we..."

"I've never," he whispered, body shaking with cold and with desire, "Just so you know."

She knew.

She kissed his neck, hands fumbling with the button of his jeans. They shed their clothes quickly, hands as hungry as their mouths.

Rey had never seen anyone naked before Ben except in internet porn and she still couldn't fight the blush that rose to her face at the sight of him, so big and so flush. Her hands shook as she touched him, somehow as soft as velvet despite being as hard as iron.

Ben was pressing lazy kisses against her jaw as he tugged off her jeans.

Naked, Rey climbed into his lap. Ben's hands were huge on her hips, and she felt herself sliding against him, damp and hot.

It took them a few tries to get the angle right, but after a minute he was able to line up against her and slide into her.

"Oh fuck," Ben let his head fall back, eyes squeezed tight.

It hurt, but Rey kept her mouth closed, body tense.

"Are you okay?" He asked her, worried, and she nodded. She had always heard that sex could be excruciating but this wasn't that, there had been no real resistance but she felt SO full it was uncomfortable.

"It's just, fuck you're really big."

Ben smiled sheepishly and she swatted at him, moving her hips experimentally. She could feel him deep inside of her, filling her in a way she hadn't even dreamed of.

She rocked against him and it didn't feel good in the way that touching herself felt good but it was better because it was Ben, and he looked lost as he moved against her.

The rain was slamming against the hood of his car, the heat and their sweat and the ocean water from their clothes fogged up the windows in a way that struck Rey as positively lewd.

Ben was shaking, his nails digging into her back, soft sounds pushed against her neck. It wasn't long before his body tensed and he clawed at her, head rolling back.

It was the best thing she had ever seen.

She could feel the heat of his release inside of her, traced her fingers over her stomach. She'd call he doctor about the pill tomorrow. It didn't matter right now.

"Happy birthday Rey," Ben whispered against her skin.


They got better at it rather quickly. Ben was determined to master sex the way he was with everything from racing to acting to surfing. They spent every free moment exploring each other's bodies, sneaking off of set or into her room or his or his car and once behind a building in downtown Santa Monica.

She couldn't get enough of him, no matter how much time they spent together, no matter how often he snuck her back to his trailer and tore off her clothes, covering her body with his hands, his mouth, his entire being, just looking at him made her flush and shake.

Rey felt like she had won the lottery. No one deserved to be that happy.

Studio City, California, 2017

Rey was shooting her first scene with Ben today. She had done some preliminary shots last week but they hadn't required him at all. She had poured over the script. This was still basic stuff, their meet cute and flirting. It seemed like Poe was trying to ease them into it, usually scenes didn't shoot chronologically and it wouldn't have been unusual to have to shoot a fucking sex scene with Ben on day one so this was a mercy.

She had been in hair and makeup for an hour, and she looked more like Daisy than Rey now, a sweet floral dress and brown justin boots, a wide brimmed hat and bright yellow nails. It wasn't what Rey would have worn normally, she liked earth tones, blacks, and ordered half her clothes off Dolls Kill. It was almost funny because it was more in line with Ben's aesthetic, his bright colored jeans and his array of hats and Coachella inspired aesthetic. Gag.

Rey was finally freed from the clutches of Jessika, her MUA and she wandered over to the green room. She got a cup of coffee from craft services.

"You should eat," Poe said.

Short of the words Ben Solo the words you should eat were Rey's least favorite words to hear, and it always made her made her lose what little appetite she might have. She glared at Poe.

He put his hands up.

"I'm just saying, I know you're stressed and old habits die hard but you're already too thin. Please."

Rey would rather choke than eat. She drank her coffee pointedly and walked out of the green room. Once outside she lit a cigarette instead. The first drag distracted her but then she felt it, she spun around. Ben was leaning against the trailer smoking, just a few feet from her.

"I'd say hi but it went really badly last time," he said.

He was was clearly dressed as Adam, tight dark jeans, black tee shirt, leather jacket. Rey hated that a part of her wanted to apologize. She had nothing to apologize for. She just silently took another drag of her cigarette as Ben's eyes roved over her. She narrowed her eyes.

"Okay, okay, no small talk. No talk at all. I know, I remember the rules."

Rey pulled her phone out and began flipping through her messages just to busy her hands.

Rey
I'm gonna murder him

Rose
What is he doing??

Rey
Existing

"Who you texting?" He asked, stepping closer.

Rey shot him a dangerous glare. She looked at him, really looked at him, she would have to do it soon anyway. He looked tired up close, eyes dark rimmed beneath the stage makeup. She looked at the constellation of moles on his face, she already had it memorized, but it was strange to see it now in front of her.

She used to kiss each of them.

"Okay," he said, resigned. He stomped out his cigarette and walked away.

It was what she wanted him to do, it was what she had asked him to do, but as he walked away from her it occurred to Rey that she had never seen Ben Solo turn his back on her before, and it was a new kind of hell.

 


Rey rode with Poe and Ben over to the set of Daisy's flower shop. It was on a quaint little street in the middle of Universal Studios and had been used as Anywhere USA in innumerable films.

In the script, Daisy meets Ben because he's playing music too loudly in his studio behind her flower shop, she goes over there, pissed off and ready to tear into him and finds herself smitten instead. It was cheesy, but Rey thought if she and Ben could bring even half of their old chemistry, they could pull it off and make it cute.

The last thing she wanted was to be a dud in a movie full of a stars.

Rey got situated in the flower shop. Poe called action.

Rey smiled as she arranged the flowers, humming. The cameras were in her face, close up shots of her whimsical smile and sweet song.
Suddenly, a cacophony of violent guitar slammed into the shop. Rey covered her ears, wincing.

She stormed out of the flower shop.

Poe yelled cut. They shot it six times. Close up, full shots, behind, in front. Finally they all moved to the part of the set where Ben's studio was.

He didn't know how to really play guitar.

Actually, Rey had no idea if he knew how to play guitar. Maybe he had learned in the last eight years. Either way, he didn't have to. They would foley in all sounds later, anything they played on set was for atmosphere only.

Rey stormed into the studio without knocking.

"Excuse me! Some of us are trying to do actual work you know- oh."

Daisy was supposed to be flustered by Adam, and really, it wasn't hard to do.

Rey let her eyes soften, her mouth part as she took in all of Ben. He looked good in those jeans and so she let herself rake her eyes over him slowly, in a way she would never do now.

"Hi," he said. "Sorry was that a little loud?"

"It's just- I run the shower flop, I mean the flower shop," Rey giggled.

Daisy was kind of an idiot, but whatever.

Ben smiled, loose and amiable. He stepped closer to her.

"Cut!" Poe yelled. Ben stepped back, his warm features dropped off into cool disinterest. He looked away from Rey.

He looked away from Rey.

That was new. Why did that hurt, too? What the fuck was wrong with her.

"Do it again, Ben I need you to be thrown off by her, lost almost. Rey you did good, do it again."

They did the scene again, and now Ben really did look lost in her, the way he had as a kid, like she was the sun and he couldn't stop staring. His awe of her was palpable. She was drawn to it, as Daisy and as Rey simultaneously.

It was easy to bite her lip and slide closer, to act like all of her anger, Daisy's minor anger, had evaporated in the presence of his smile. Hadn't it been like that for so long? Rey had spent more than five years of her life like that, these few minutes felt like falling back into herself.

It felt dangerous.

Daisy tripped over a wire and Adam's hands came up to steady her, one catching her on the arm and one on her hip.

Ben's hands on her. She felt herself tremble.

"Sorry, I'm such a klutz sometimes. It's a miracle I manage not to break everything in my shop."

Ben didn't let her go, didn't move his hands, just stared at her, a crooked smile on his face and wonder in his eyes.

"Do you play?" He asked her.

"God no," she giggled.

"Can I teach you?" He asked.

Rey looked up into warm brown eyes, stepped a little closer with a shrug and said, "I'd like that."

"Cut! Oh fuck you guys, people are going to FLIP out! That was gorgeous"

Ben dropped his hands quickly, looking away from her. His lips were pursed and she could see a muscle moving in his jaw the way it did sometimes when he realized he was wrong or just before he cried. He didn't look at her, just pulled out a cigarette and walked off set.

Rey felt her eyes sting. She took a deep breath, and walked in the opposite direction.

 

Later, in Poe's office, Rey broke down.

"I can't do it. I'm sorry, I can't."

"Rey," Poe said.

Rey felt her eyes burn and threaten to spill.

"It hurts," she said, voice cracking.

"I think you need to talk to him, honey."

"I don't want to."

"You know he feels horrible, he misses you Rey, it's why he agreed to do this movie in the first place, I mean this is so not his style."

"Poe, please..."

"No, listen to me. You need to be able to work with him, and you're working around an elephant in the room. Talk to him Rey. No, LISTEN to him for once. Don't you think you owe-"

"I don't owe him anything," Rey snapped.

"Then do it for it me. No, do it for the movie, because you're a god damn professional. Do it for the money I don't care, but talk to him."

Rey sighed. She knew he was right. It was talk or walk, and she had to make the call.


Hollywood, California, 2009

"It's amazing, holy shit!" Rey was almost screaming.

"I know, and it's ours, I can't fucking believe it."

Ben and Rey were pacing around a massive apartment on Sunset and Vine. It had light hardwood floors, huge window, bright colored walls and twenty foot ceilings.

Rey ran toward Ben and he picked her up, she wrapped her legs around his waist and he carried her into the kitchen. Into *their* kitchen. He set her down on the counter.

"Now I want to fuck you on every inch of this god damn apartment."

Rey burst into laughter, tugging at his shirt. He unbuttoned her top hastily, pushing it off her shoulders before tugging his over his head.

She was left in just a bra, an American Apparel cotton mini skirt, and Doc Martins.

"God damn you're so beautiful. This apartment is so beautiful, I fucking love my life!" Ben roared, head back.

"You better fuck me right now Solo, I swear-"

He cut her off with a kiss, reaching under her skirt to tug off her panties. Her hands were on his jeans, unbuttoning them and he kicked them off along with his shoes and boxers.

He tugged her forward on the counter, hand coming down to her pussy to make sure she was wet, and boy was she ever, before slamming into her hard.

Rey threw her head back, grunting as Ben fucked her roughly. She loved him like this, loved him all the time, when he was soft and sleepy beside her, when he was racing through the canyons with abandon, when he was lost in being Kylo. He tugged her hair so she had to bend her head and meet his eyes, they were dark and intense as he rutted into her.

"God I wanna die in your pussy," he said, bringing one hand down to rub her clit as he drove into her.

"Don't die before I cum or I'll kill you," she said.

He chucked and bit into her neck. It was fast and hard and it while it wasn't Rey's favorite kind of fucking, it was perfect for their energy today, for their win on signing this lease, for barreling into the final season of their show, together, together, together.

"I love you so much, so god damn much," Ben panted. His thrusts were becoming erratic, he was keeping her right on the edge with him. Her breath was coming short and shallow, heat building inside of her to a blinding white.

"I love you, oh my god, you feel so good," she said, her head rolling back and Ben tugged her hair again, pulled her back to meet his eyes and they were cumming, together, together, together.

Studio City, California, 2017

Rey knew that Poe was right. They were set to be filming for the next two months at least, and she could not handle the look on Ben's face for even another second. If it meant listening to him, clearing the air and finding some professional middle ground, she would do it.

She knocked on his trailer, biting her lip.

She heard him before he opened the door.

"Poe it's not a good time alright, today was a fucking-"

He opened the door. He looked like maybe he had been crying. Rey felt her eyes finally spill over.

"Hi," she said, it was a whisper.

"Hi," he said, soft and confused.

"I think maybe it's time we talked."

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hollywood, California, 2010

Life was weird after Something Wicked wrapped. Rey wasn't used to having so much free time, and she missed going to work with Ben every day. They had spend almost every single day together for more than five years, and it was strange to not be on the same schedule.

Ben had filled out a lot in the last few years, at 21 he was broader and now, without the filming regulations, scruffier. Rey loved his facial hair, loved the way it scratched against her skin, her cheeks, her tummy, her thighs.

They had taken a full three months off after the show ended to relax. They went to the beach, they partied in Hollywood, spent long days drinking pressed juice and going to shows and being stupidly in love.

Ben was offered a lead role in a Gus Van Sant film shooting in France a month after Rey started filming a new movie, she had a starring role alongside Michael Cera. She and Ben were both ecstatic, but it meant Ben leaving for three months and they had never spent that much time apart.

"I'll come see you," Rey said, kissing his scruffy jaw as they snuggled in bed the day before he left.

"I know I just hate this, I don't know if it's even worth it."

"Of course it is, Ben, you've worked so hard for this and it's going to push you into a real adult career, it's amazing."

"Then why do I have such a bad feeling?"

Rey kissed his neck, moving her mouth down his body, dragging her teeth over his skin. She was going to miss him so much, but she would never dream of holding him back. This was important, to both of them.

"I love you so much it's stupid," Rey whispered. Ben arched up and grabbed her, flipping her onto her back and hovering above her.

He pressed sloppy kisses against her neck, hand coming down to rub against her sex. His fingers sliding inside of her, the slow push of his skin was mesmerizing and Rey was terrified to be away from him.

He grabbed her left leg behind the knee and pushed it up to her chest, lining up and sliding into her.

He fucked her lazily, agonizingly, dragging out of her slowly and slamming back in hard. This was Rey's favorite, slow and hard, each thrust pushing the air from her lungs. She bit her nails into his shoulders.

"Fuck I love you so much," Ben said, right against her ear, his voice low and rough.

"Forever," she said, pushing her hips to meet him as they rose and fell together again.


Ben left on a Tuesday. Rey had the apartment to herself, which was nice for about two days before she missed him more than she could stand. His phone didn't work overseas so they had to communicate through emails, it was slower than text and the time difference and their schedules made it difficult.

Rey hated being away from Ben. He had been her constant since she was fourteen, the only real family she had and she was embarrassed by how badly she handled the separation. She threw herself into her movie, losing herself in long hours and her character. Acting was the only thing keeping her sane in his absence.

He had only been gone six weeks, less than half of the time he was scheduled to spend in Europe when Rey had the worst day of her life.

She had just finished her movie the week before, was getting ready to do the premier circuit, interviews on TV shows and red carpets, the whole thing.

She ran to the market early in the morning, as always, to avoid being seen by anyone who wasn't up at 6am. She was used to seeing her name in the headlines but this, this was different. Her head snapped.


HOLLYWOOD IT BOY BEN SOLO LEAVES REY KENOBI FOR FRENCH MODEL NATASHA LAMONDE.

Rey was confused, she grabbed the magazine (it had a picture of her and Ben on the cover) and flipped it open.

There were photographs. Of Ben. With another girl in his lap, kissing her. They were clearly at a club, and he had his hands, his fucking hands, up the back of her shirt. She would never have believed it if she couldn't see it herself. She dropped her coffee, she dropped the magazine, she ran out of the store.

Five years. Rey had spent nearly five years of her life with Ben and in six weeks he has thrown it away. Thrown away everything they had built so he could fuck his French costar.

The news exploded, Rey's phone blew up. Everywhere she looked there were the photos, Ben's mouth on some other girl. Photos of them laughing on set. Headlines claiming that Ben had outgrown Rey. And then, because it had to happen, photos of her, looking like shit. The media was eating up her sadness, fueling it.

REY KENOBI HAS MENTAL BREAKDOWN, SOURCES SAY SHES ON DRUGS AND NOT EATING.

They posted the worst pictures they could find.

Ben emailed her, and emailed her, and tried calling her.

Rey,

Please listen to me I love you so much and I'm so sorry, I promise you it was nothing, the headlines are dragging this to hell I was just fucked up. Please come to Paris we can talk, I love you more than anything.

Ben

Rey deleted every email. She couldn't believe him now, how could she? She had all of these voices telling her that he had left her, she saw the photographs. She couldn't understand how he could do this to her. Even if he regretted it, the fallout was fucking massive. She couldn't escape it, she couldn't breathe.

On her press tour all anyone wanted to talk about was her and Ben. What happened? How long had they been struggling? How was she coping?

Not fucking well, that's how.

Rey stopped eating.

She was taking enough Xanax to put a racehorse to sleep just to show up on the red carpet or The Daily Show or The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.

Two weeks after the photos hit the press, Rey quietly moved her things out of the apartment she shared with Ben and into a studio in Echo Park.

Her weight dropped below 100 pounds, her skin was yellow, she was tired all the time.

Rose helped her move, helped her change her phone number and create a new email addresses

The media was having a fucking field day.

HEARTBROKEN AND UNABLE TO EVEN WALK BY HERSELF, REY KENOBI NEEDS SERIOUS MEDICAL TREATMENT.

There were pictures of her, too thin, sallow, and crying.

It was impossible to heal when you had people all around you digging fingers into your wound.

It's possible that if Rey hadn't been in the spotlight, if she hadn't been at mercy of the tabloids, she might have handled it better. Might have been willing to listen. Part of her, during that first week, was sure that Ben would come home, maybe if he just came home everything would be better. He didn't. It was just Rey, her rapidly deteriorating body, her broken heart, and six million headlines about it all.

Finally the date came when Ben was due to arrive back in the states. By then Rey was long gone.


Studio City, California, 2017

Ben couldn't believe his eyes when he threw the door open. There was Rey, too thin but as beautiful as ever.

He had been pacing around his trailer, debating dropping this project. He couldn't do it, maybe she could pretend like they were strangers and act in love for her scenes and cut back to hating him in between but Ben couldn't do it. He had only taken this movie because he thought it was the only way he would ever get to be in a room with Rey again.

Ben Solo had fucked up, once, briefly, years ago, and it had ruined his fucking life.

It was like a PSA for drunk driving, one bad night, one bad choice and everything he had built just crumbled.

One bad night a series of bad choices after that.

He should have left the fucking movie, he should have taken the first plane out of France and gone back to LA. He had been so worried about his career, about being labeled a deserter. None of it would have mattered if there was even the slightest chance of him saving his relationship with Rey. But he hadn't. He had stayed in Europe and finished the movie and when he did finally get back to California, rushing to their apartment in Hollywood, he found it half empty. She was just...gone.

His emails bounced back. She had changed her number. Her agent was adamant that he not contact her again. Ben couldn't believe it, how could she not even want to talk to him? To yell at him, hit him, anything.

He hadn't seen all of the headlines when he was in Europe but he thought he had gotten a general idea. And the media always made it look worse than it was, right?

But then he saw, the photos of Rey, withering away to nothing, passed out in the passenger seat of a car, clothes hanging off of her body as she smoked cigarettes and flipped off the cameras.

Fuck.

There were photos of him too, horrible things, his hands on Natasha and headline about how he had gotten out at the first chance he got.

Ben couldn't believe it, couldn't believe how bad it was. Why hadn't his agent told him? Probably because his agent was only concerned with his career and not his relationship, probably never expected the teenage romance to last as long as it did, didn't see the point.

But Rey was Ben's entire life. She was the only thing that had ever mattered to him, more than acting, more than driving, more than the ocean. He never dreamed she wouldn't at least talk to him.

Ben kept sending emails. They kept bouncing back. He didn't care. Every day for a year he wrote her and told he loved her.

Eventually, after a few months, Rey went into treatment. She was so thin she couldn't walk by herself, doctors worried she would die.

Ben sobbed hysterically in his car when he read the headline, digging his nails into his scalp, shaking breaths slamming through his body.

He did this.

He did this to her and there was never going to be any way to fix it.

 

 

When Poe offered him this role and told him he would be working with Rey, he had no choice but to say yes. He would have given anything for the opportunity. And then she had been so cold, of course she had, he couldn't blame her.

It wasn't just what he had done, if they had been just a regular couple they probably could have worked it out, but the distance between them and the spotlight so bright had ruined any chance of that.

Still, it had been years, almost eight fucking years, he thought maybe, maybe she was over it, maybe they could start again, as friends this time.

She had made it very, very clear that wasn't going to happen. He couldn't see how he could get through the next two months of shooting when she couldn't even look at him, this was surely worse than whatever hell he had been living in before because now every day was a reminder.

The way she looked at him during the shoot, as Daisy, it had set his heart on fire. He had gotten back to his trailer and broke down in tears. He couldn't do this.

Suddenly there was a banging on his trailer door.

"Poe it's not a good time alright, today was a fucking-

He opened the door and froze. It was a Rey, and she was crying.

Rey, who never cried.

"Hi," she said, it was a whisper.

"Hi," he said.

"I think maybe it's time we talked."

Finally, finally, Ben opened the door and let Rey inside.

 


He couldn't believe she was here. He wanted to touch her more than he had ever wanted anything in his life, wanted to lift her into his lap and curl his body around her. He shoved his hands into his pockets to keep from reaching for her.

"Okay," Rey said, and she sighed, sat down on the couch. "I'm listening."

Ben's heart was jackhammering inside his body. His words came out in a rush.

"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't regret what I did, I need you to know that first. And know that I never fucked her, we were on Ecstacy at some fucking club and she crawled into my lap and I was fucked up and it was so stupid. I regret it so much but what I regret more is not just coming home, I should have just left."

"Why didn't you?" Rey asked. She was still dressed like Daisy, sweet and floral, her cheekbones were sharp in her thin face, eyes huge and wet.

"I didn't know Rey, I wasn't anywhere near American media. I got all of my info from my agent who was desperate to keep me in the movie. Hux told me you weren't doing well but of course you weren't. Anyone who was close to you wasn't speaking to me, I didn't know until I got back, and by then it was too late."

"It was, too late, and so bad, Ben you have no idea. It was a fucking nightmare, I had to do my press circuit and all anyone wanted to talk about was you and my eating disorder, two things I couldn't stand to talk about and it made everything so much worse."

Rey was crying, quiet fast tears.

"I would have never believed the headlines if I hadn't seen the pictures, and after that I didn't know what to believe. I couldn't think, I was so hungry and I was drinking so much I just needed to numb everything out, to feel like I had something else to focus on in my moments of lucidity. I felt like my whole world had burned down and with it my heart."

Ben moved closer to Rey and she winced. Slowly he sunk to his knees in front of her.

"I have loved you since I was sixteen years old and I will love you forever Rey, I don't wanna hurt you anymore, tell me what to do."

Ben was desperate. He would have given anything to just reach out and touch her.

"Do you want me to pull out of the movie? I will walk. If you wanna go back to pretending I don't exist I'll walk away, but I need you to know Rey I need you to hear me say it because I will never stop loving you and I will never stop being sorry. Just tell me what to do."

Rey closed her eyes, tears still falling and she was sobbing now.

"I'm just so mad Ben, I'm so mad at you and at god and this fucking industry because we had it, you know? I will never love anyone the way I loved you, you were just it for me."

Ben's heart broke and his hands came out but she leaned back, away from him.

"We can't be together, I can't do it again. I won't, I need you to understand that. I'm not going to ask you to pull out of this movie, but I need you to know this isn't how you win me back, that's not what this is. This isn't a fucking rom com Ben this is my fucked up life. But we can talk, we can do small talk and we can try...to coexist? To work together and be friendly if not friends. But it's your call, that's where I'm at."

"I'll stay," Ben said immediately. If there was any way for him to be around Rey, to talk to her, to try and bridge whatever massive chasm he had created he was going to take it.

There wasn't anything in the world that could stop him.

 

 

Chapter Text


Venice Beach, California, 2017

Rey's head was spinning. She kept replaying Ben's words in her mind. He told her that he never slept with Natasha and she believed him now, there was no reason to lie anymore.

Rey poured herself a glass of wine and went onto the balcony to chain smoke.

Was it possible that she had given up on Ben too? That she had left him as much as he left her? She didn't like to think about it but she had no choice now. She tried to replay those months in her head.

Rey hadn't left Ben because he kissed some girl. Rey had left Ben because he didn't come home when everything was falling apart. He didn't choose her when she needed it most he chose someone else. She had been forced to look at photos of him laughing on set with her in Europe side by side with pictures of herself falling apart in LA.

She had voices on every side telling her he had left her, and he had, hadn't he?

Rey had been left by everyone in her life. Her parents left her. And her uncle was kind to take her in but he had never been a strong presence, he had always left her to her own devices, cashing in on her checks.

It had made sense to Rey that Ben had left her too.

She was three glasses of wine in. She was hungry but she couldn't think about food.

She thought about Ben, coming home to their empty apartment. Had he really written to her every day?

Rey had been so fucked up, she was living on a diet of whiskey and Xanax, she was so lost and so confused. It was possible she hasn't been thinking clearly.

Rey poured more wine, drunk and shaking.

Did it even matter now? Could it matter? She wasn't going to get back together with Ben. She had vowed to never have another relationship in the public eye, and certainly not the same one that had brought about the lowest point in her life.

He had fucked up. Maybe she had too. Maybe, just maybe, she could forgive him, but she could never be with him.

Rey was drunk. She stumbled inside and fell into bed.

She dreamed of the ocean.


Studio City, California, 2017

Rey was so hungover at work the next day. She was feeling hollow and shaky enough to grab a bagel from craft services. She ate it slowly, forcing down the pieces.

"Look who's eating!" Poe said gleefully.
"That's good right?"

Rey shot him a death glare.

"Oh girl, maybe not." He said, eyebrows pulling together.

"Fuck off," Rey said with no real venom, throwing the rest of the bagel in the trash. It wasn't going to stay down anyway.

They had a long day of shooting ahead of them.

Ben showed up a few minutes later looking perky. He was in plain blue jeans and a white tee shirt with a flannel unbuttoned, a stupid red beanie covering his stupid ears.

"Hey," he said.
"Morning," she said.

"You hungry?" He asked, too enthusiastic. She stared at him.

"I'm just asking! You should eat something," he said.

"Don't do that, you sound like Poe."

He shrugged apologetically. Rey relented.

"I already ate."

Ben looked skeptical.

"Poe even saw me."

He smiled and shrugged again, grabbing a muffin.

"You excited to shoot with Julia and Will?"

"Very, this whole project is full of people I admire."

"It is cool to work with big stars again," Ben said.

Rey was nauseous. This was all still so weird, but the weirdest part was perhaps how much of her anger had abated so quickly. She found herself wanting to fall into Ben, to apologize, to turn back the clocks and run, hands clasped, down canyon roads and beer bottled backyards and into the sea, shivering. She had been blocking him out and now there were cracks, all the light that was Ben leaking through them and into her.

"You okay?" He asked. She had been staring.

"Hungover as shit but really I'm fine," she smiled. Ben's eyes narrowed but he nodded. He would see through her, of course he would. He always had.

They set off to hair and makeup.


Rey was playing Julia Roberts and Will Farrell's daughter. Her "mother" was a washed up actress dying for her golden days, and her "father" was contemplating an affair. Daisy was cheery, but it was hiding the deep emotional turmoil under the surface.
Relatable, except that no one would describe Rey as cheery. Stoic? Sure. Bitchy? Maybe. Better bitchy than soft.

Makeup managed to make her look not hungover, which was a true testament to their skills.

She got onto set and Ben came up with a cup of coffee for her. She took it and smiled.

"Thanks, I need this."

He nodded, sipping his own coffee. He was too close to her. She shuffled way to examine her marks, feeling his eyes on her, familiar and penetrating.

"Okay, we're all set, Rey come get into place. Ben you're on next just hang tight," Poe said.

Rey got through her first scenes easily, it was delightful to work with Julia and Will. Eventually, it was time to shoot her scene with Ben.

"Okay I know we were set to film Ben's show today but we're switching it up, we're going to be shooting the scene after the show where Adam kisses Daisy, we're just waiting for the sun to go down. Rey and Ben you need to change."

Rey felt her stomach drop. She was not prepared for this today. Everything felt raw and strange.

Rey let wardrobe pull new clothes for her. Another floral dress, another pair of justin boots and floppy hat.

Rey felt hollow.

The sun set.


Ben came back into set, looking dark and dashing, dark jeans and a black muscle tee.

Rey steeled herself. She tried to become Daisy, tried to loose Ben and find Adam, reckless and loud and bold, so similar to Ben. Daisy was nothing like her, she was soft, forgiving, Daisy would have forgiven Ben. She knows that. Why was Rey so hard and closed off? She tried to open her heart, to warm her features.

"Okay, Ben, you just finished your show, Rey you're smitten, he's NOT your type, you don't know why you're so drawn to him but you can't imagine walking away now."

Rey nodded.

The set was a club, a small stage where Adam had presumably just finished playing. Daisy had waited for it to clear out, just a few extras were on set, milling around as stragglers in the club.

"Action!" Poe yelled.

"So, what did you think?" Ben said, loose limbed and giddy, speaking to Rey from on the stage.

"You were amazing, I've never been to a concert like this," she let the wonder drip off her words.

"Come up here," Ben said, reaching for her hand. She let him pull her onto the stage. She looked shy, but reached for his hand and he hauled her up onto the stage.

"Don't you get nervous up here? All those people watching you."

"It helps if you just focus on one person," Ben said, coming closer to her. Rey was overwhelmed by the nearness of him, the openness of his features. She tried to channel it into Daisy.

"Here, try it," Ben put the guitar in her hands.

"Adam I only know the three chords you taught me, I can't really play!" She giggled.

"Sure you can, try it."

Rey clumsily strummed the guitar. She really could play, but she moved her fingers in a simple chord progression and looked up at him, thrilled.

Ben was grinning wide, his eyes sparkling. God he was good.

Rey played and watched as Ben circled her.

"You wanna get some air?"

"Sure," she said, breathless.

He took the guitar from her and put it on a stand, and took her hand and they exited.

"Cut, beautiful, really great guys. From the top."

They did it again. And again. And again.

When Poe was finally satisfied they headed outside the exterior kiss shot.

It was warm but windy, the evening was crisp and Rey was relishing the fresh air.

They were getting the set finalized so she lit a cigarette. Ben came and stood beside her, lighting a cigarette for himself.

"You ready for this?" He asked her.

"Ready as I'll ever be," Rey said with surprising honesty. Ben nodded.

"I'll try not to make it weird," he said.

Rey laughed at that.

"Oh yeah Solo? What's your plan for that?"

He looked sheepish, and shrugged.

"Just, be Adam." She said.

He had an odd look on his face as he nodded. Poe called them over and then they were rolling.

Rey spun in a circle in the night air, laughing.

"You're too tall," she complained, sliding up to Ben.

He moved quickly, hands suddenly under her arms and on her ribs as he lifted her bodily onto a small wooden bench. She was at eye level with him now, and laughing.

"Adam!" She yelled with a smile.

"It will make this easier," he said, and he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers.

Rey almost wanted to laugh for real but in a sick way because she had told Ben to make sure he was Adam and that seemed fucking ridiculous now, because this Ben Solo, Ben's lips moving against hers and she didn't have to act, her body knew exactly what to do. It was like breathing after being held underwater, it was like coming home after a bad day and collapsing into bed. Rey was kissing him back instantly, her hands coming up to hold him, careful not to block the shot.

"Cut! You need to cheat out Rey we can't get your face."

Rey was startled away from Ben, trying not to act breathless. It took him a moment to open his eyes and look at her. She nodded coming off of the bench and Poe called action again.

Ben did the same thing, lifting her up onto the bench and she managed to sound and look delighted as he did it, despite the hammering of her heart.

He was on her again and she made sure to lean out so they could get the shot. She found herself kissing him the way she used to, and with his mouth pressed to hers suddenly she was hit by a wave of memories, Ben's lips against hers in the backyard of the party where he first kissed her, and hundreds of others. Kisses stolen on set, kisses pressed lazily against her while she was sleepy and warm. She nipped at his lower lip in the way she knew he liked without thinking about it and his hands tightened on bet body, pulling her close.

When he pulled away his eyes were dark and bright, his expression sad.

She leaned in and stole one more before Poe yelled cut.


"Okay, that's good..." Poe sounded conflicted.

"Too good? Maybe? Rey I need Daisy to be giddy, she's happy you don't look happy. Ben I guess that wistful look works but stay grounded, please."

Rey cursed herself, shaking her head.

"Okay I got it," she hopped off the bench.

They rolled again.


Ben lifted her up, his face easy and light as he did and she giggled, angling toward him. He brought his mouth down again and Rey tried to stay grounded, she let a smile slip through, made her hands cautious, her movements hesitant. When Ben pulled away he didn't look sad, just lost.

"Cut, perfect, you guys nailed it. Take ten."

Ben let go of Rey, holding a hand out to help her off the bench.

"Not so bad, right?" He whispered.

"No, not bad at all," Rey said, and she sounded sad.

She was sad, overwhelmingly so.

She walked away from him.

 

Echo Park, California, 2011

Rey had gotten out of treatment a month ago, once her weight was back up above 110.

She was on a meal plan, 1500 calories a day. She had a journal and a therapist.

Rey ate 1000 at most and forged her entries.

She had her own apartment, she had furnished it with vintage furniture she found at the Rose Bowl flea market. There were string lights, dried flowers and shelves full of books.

No Ben Solo, though, so it felt empty no matter what she did.

Rey ran six miles every morning She had a calorie dense shake for breakfast. She biked across town. She drank black coffee for lunch. She smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and had salad for dinner.

It was existing, it wasn't living. She had been out of work for almost a year before she started going on auditions again.

Despite being seen as a shit show by the media, Rey's name was a household one and her reputation on set was clean so she had no problem landing another major movie role. She would playing the love interest of Jake Gyllenhaal.

The first time she slept with him, it was weird. Sex was something she had only ever shared with Ben. Ben, who knew her body, knew how to tease her and when to relent. It was different with Jake. It wasn't about a physical manifestation of this intense emotion inside of her, it was just... sex. Good sex, but lacking such a key element.

They dated for six months. It made headline and Rey hated it. When the tabloids got to be too much, she ended it.

She almost never thought about him.


Hollywood, California, 2011

Ben found out Rey was seeing someone else through the tabloids. Karma, probably.

It had hit him like a Mack truck. He had somehow been waiting for her to forgive him, still, after all this time.

Ben's jealousy was a monster. He had always had a tendency toward anger but nothing prepared him for the monster that was rage.

He broke his hand slamming into his exposed brick wall.

He missed her like a limb. It was like learning to live without legs. Part of him was relieved that she was doing okay but it was so dwarfed by his jealousy and his anger that he afforded it almost no space in his heart.

His life without Rey was empty, he didn't know how to function. He started sleeping with as many people as he could, it was so pointless. It didn't make him feel good.

He piled into his car and drove out of the hills, twisting through the canyon roads until he hit the ocean.

He got out of his car and stood on the beach for a long while, before screaming at the ocean.

 

 

Chapter Text

Hollywood, California, 2014

At some point, something shifted. Ben had spent the last few years in a haze of self inflicted misery. He had rolled with the media image of indie bad boy, they seemed to relish his late nights and haggard look and how he had a different girl under his arm every other month.

But now, he couldn't do it. He didn't have the energy for clubs or music festivals and his dick didn't wanna cooperate unless he was drunk because the idea of sober sex made his guts churn.

He still rolled over in bed looking for Rey but less often now, only when he dreamt of her which he did rarely. He wished he could dream of her every night, but she had become elusive, even in sleep.

Ben started writing more than drinking.

He self published two poetry anthologies.

He wrote a script and they made it a movie and he starred in it.

It wasn't about his life at all. He wasn't ready to write about that.

He wrote a superficial movie about a man who takes a road trip after his father dies and reflects on his childhood while passing through a gritty collection of Americana. The kind of charming midwestern hell holes he had only ever flown over. He was from Malibu for fucks sake. Also his father wasn't even dead, although he might as well have been for how often Ben talked to him. More old wounds.

Ben was quieter now, he didn't need that constant noise surrounding him. He ran. He swam and he surfed. He drove a little slower. He got tattoos of his favorite quotes and bright red poppies and the other secret, sentimental things that looked nondescript but held clues to his past.

He thought about Rey quietly and without the same anger and urgency. He was no longer desperate.

He knew that when she left she had taken certain colors, parts of his favorite song, the smell of the ocean, the sound of footsteps in the hall. It didn't matter. His life was somehow less but it was his and it was okay.

He was okay.

This wasn't the life he had pictured for himself but he was done trying to fit together pieces that wouldn't click. He wasn't going to be with anyone else, not really. Maybe he would occasionally take comfort in the closeness of someone but there would never be anyone else for him.

As long as she was okay, he was okay.

He had forgiven Rey years ago. Forgiven her immediately.

He was just never really able to forgive himself.

 

 

Studio City, California, 2017

Things were getting easier. Or harder, depending on when you asked Rey and what mood she was in. She found herself easily falling into step beside Ben on and off screen, now that they had a tentative truce.

On Monday they shot some fun scenes, just Daisy and Adam exploring the city together. Him buying her flowers and teaching her how to play the guitar.

Ben close behind Rey, his hands on hers moving them carefully over the strings as she looked up at him, close enough to kiss.

For another scene he knocked on her door and handed her a bouquet of daisies.

"You, you brought me flowers?"

"Yeah they're... I mean I wasn't sure so I got you daisies, because your name and wow I'm so lame," he broke off laughing and Rey reached up to press a small kiss into his cheek.

Ben had bought flowers for Rey once and she had killed them almost immediately.

He never bought her flowers again after that but he occasionally brought her succulents, twisting green and purple cacti. They were harder to kill, but none of them were still alive. There was a metaphor in there somewhere. Rey knew Ben was thinking about them too as they shot the scene.

They looked through records on location at Amoeba in Hollywood, Ben chasing her through the stacks, catching her in the blues section and bringing his lips to her neck in a playful move that had her howling with laughter.

Every time Poe yelled cut, her stomach dropped. She had started looking forward to these stolen moments, living through Daisy. It was easy to melt into it, to smile up at Ben, to watch him watch her. Even after all this time, she was so used to Ben's eyes on her, it was like sliding into your favorite sweater when you were freezing. How had she gone so long without his eyes on her? How would she adjust to it again when they were gone?

On Friday they had to kiss again, it was the lead in to the sex scene they would be shooting next week. Another night shot, warm and breezy. They were on location in Santa Monica, walking down the promenade. It was weird to be here, Rey hadn't been on 3rd street in years, but she was hit suddenly with a barrage of memories.

Ben's hand in hers as they ducked into urban outfitters, eating ice cream and walking down to the pier, smoking weed underneath it at low tide. Ben dragging her onto the rickety old roller coaster, holding her hand as she screamed.

"I love nights like this," Ben said, he was Adam now. "It feels like anything could happen."

It felt true.

"Maybe anything will," Rey said with a little shrug.

Then ben was kissing her, playfully, and she laughed and twisted away from him.

Ben ran after her, grabbing her under her butt and hoisting her up. He was so strong, Rey felt her stomach lurch. She playfully swatted at him.

"Adam!" She yelled, tipping her head back and laughing wildly, he carried her down the street effortlessly.

"Great! Cut!"

Rey was smiling but Ben looked sad as he set her down in front of him.

"What?" She asked, thrown off by the shift in his energy.

"You weigh nothing," he said.

Rey hated this.

She hated that he looked guilty, this wasn't his fault, whatever fucked up thing was going on in her brain it wasn't as simple as Ben breaking her heart. This thing was always under the surface, always going to find a way to stick its head out. It was the industry, it was society, sure, but really it was Rey. It was a desperate attempt to hold onto a feeling of control, it was a way to occupy every second of her time with something she was the boss of. It was her love affair with her own sadness. It was the best way she knew how to cope with stress.

"Don't look at me like that," she said.

"Like what?" He asked, but he was still doing it. Those fucking eyes.

"Like you think you broke me, you didn't do this to me Ben. Please just," she was shaking her head, "Don't blame yourself for this of all things. Okay?"

Ben looked weary, his lips trembled slightly as he clenched his jaw. He was clearly holding back saying something.

"What?" Rey said. "Just spit it out Solo."
She put her hands on her hips, expecting the worst. This was her least favorite kind of conversation.

"Will you get a drink with me?"

She hadn't been expecting that.

"What? Like, now?"

"Yeah after we wrap, will you just... I don't know, let me buy you one drink, hang out with me somewhere that isn't work."

Rey narrowed her eyes at him. She didn't particularly want to be seen out with him. She also desperately wanted to go.

"Okay but I'm not going anywhere someone's going to see us, the last thing I need is tabloid speculation. You can come to my house though, if you want."

Ben looked shocked, then thrilled.

"Yes! Yeah okay, yeah sure."

Rey laughed.

"Just, be cool Solo, be cool."

"Yep, yeah okay. Sure," Ben said, smiling wide and dopey. Rey rolled her eyes but she was smiling too.

 

 


Venice Beach, California, 2017

Maybe this was a bad idea. Rey wasn't sure. She didn't think about the implication of bringing Ben back to her house until they were almost there. She had given him her address and they had driven separately and it gave Rey just enough time to freak the fuck out.

When she got to her house, a sweet cottage by the canals, Ben was waiting for her, leaning against his car and smoking. He always drove faster than her.

"Look I just wanna be clear this isn't like, us 'hanging' like Netflix and chill type shit. I just genuinely didn't want to be seen with you."

It comes out harsher than she meant, but she needed to say it.

"No I know, trust me. I'm not going to try anything Rey, I'm just glad you want to hang out with me at all."

She did.

"Okay, follow me."

She brought him inside. Her place was beautiful, three bedrooms. One was hers, one for guests, and one was an office/music studio/art room. There was light hardwood and big windows and everything was clean and cream and white. She had dried flowers hanging in the kitchen, shelves and shelves full of books.
Tiny jars and animals bones and bird feathers and oddities she has collected.


"You want a glass of wine?" She called out as she walked to the kitchen.

"Sure," Ben said, he was looking around, drinking everything in with an intensity that made Rey feel dizzy.

She went to the kitchen and poured two large glasses of wine, carrying them back out the living room. She almost dropped them when she saw what Ben was holding.

It was a copy of his book. He had put out a couple small poetry anthologies a few years ago and she had tracked them down at Skylight Bookstore in Loz Feliz.

He was holding it open and Rey knew immediately which page it had opened to, knew it was dog eared and smudged. She knew the poem by heart.


I think I've left traces of myself
In every space I've ever been.
It must be that I am still
Crawling in on elbows through her window, The red light, her bare legs.

It must be that I am still
Signing off key in a car hurdling
Through fog tipped switchbacks
Scars on the mountain
Deep cuts made by men
Who are long dead.

I am scattered on the asphalt,
In the ocean,
In my bed.
Every wipeout wiping memories from my head
Until it all blends with whiskey and I forget.

I am still saying sorry
I am still writing letter
After letter and mailing them
To an empty house,

It's my own house and it's empty.

Bare legs,
Wine coating the inside of a glass
Three seashells in a wicker basket
Sand in my shoes and my sheets
I am still sleeping
Somewhere I still haven't woken up.

Somewhere there are
Two kids with hands clasped tight
And nothing to be sorry for yet.

 

"I didn't know you knew about these," he sounded confused, far away.

"Of course I did," Rey said, her tone once again harsher than she intended.

She handed him his wine with a sigh, and then, softly, she said, "That poem is my favorite."

"It's about you," he said quickly.

"I know," she said.

They both stood quietly for a moment and Rey was suddenly overwhelmed by the fact of Ben in her house, in her life. How had she ended up back here? Were they doomed to circle one and another forever.

"Want to smoke?" She asked.

Ben followed her onto the little balcony, they stood in the warm air. Ben was so different and yet so fundamentally the same, it was jarring. Gone was the chaotic energy, the seemingly unstoppable desire to needle into people or to go fast or push hard. He seemed so gentle, like a giant approaching a wounded bird, hands open. Was she the bird?

She was determined to make this not weird.

"Okay Solo, spill. What have you been up to? High points, low points, weird things. I wanna know."

Ben took a deep breath and started talking. And he kept talking. The more he talked the more his face animated and the brighter his eyes got. He told her about writing his first movie, she had seen it, it was good. About getting into poetry, how healing it had been for him. He talked about the projects he had done and wild nights he had and how he missed his mom but almost never his dad.

Then it was Rey's turn and she talked about transitioning from television to movies and how she had been able to co-produce a few films and her activism work for refugees and how she got too drunk at a gala and puked in a potted plant and Ben laughed, wild and reckless and so did Rey.

They drank and they smoked and they talked and Rey could feel herself tipping backward like a clock in rewind, and she was suddenly terrified.

Terrified of having found Ben Solo again and terrified that she might lose him.

 


The wine had made them loose and laughing made her ribs hurt and eventually they came inside and fell into her couch. Ben pulled out a spliff and let Rey light it, and they talked about music and movies and traveling and Rey didn't tell him that she missed him despite the words fighting to slip past her tongue.

"It's late," she said eventually.

"I'll get out of here," Ben said.

"Oh please you're drunk, you're not driving back to wherever it is you live now."

Ben gave her an odd look.

"I have a guest room, take it."

"You're sure?" He said.
"I'll call a cab if you'd rather, I don't wanna-"

"Literally you know I wouldn't offer if I didn't mean it, shut up. I'll show you where it is."

Rey led Ben back to the small room, clean white sheets and impersonal decor. It was very much not her bedroom.

"This is perfect, thank you."
He turned to face her, wide eyes and freckles and close, close, close enough to touch. Rey was shaking.

"Goodnight Rey," he whispered.

"Goodnight Ben," Rey said, and walked off to her room alone.

Chapter Text

Greater Los Angeles, California, 2017

Rey was nervous. She was almost never nervous but it was the last two weeks of filming and today was the day she had to shoot a fucking sex scene with Ben Solo.

She'd had a lot of actual sex with Ben Solo over the years but that just made it worse. It was something she desperately wanted to forget about.

She'd snuck a flask into her bag and was sipping in her trailer when she heard a knock. She knew it was Ben.

"It's open," she said, not bothering to hide the alcohol.

"Oh thank god," he said, and walked over to her. She handed him the flask and he drank deeply.

"Did you need something besides booze?" She asked.

"No-" Ben sighed, finishing another sip and handing the bottle to Rey. "I knew you'd have booze."

Rey shook her head and smiled.

"I'm nervous," Ben said. Always so honest.

"Me too," Rey said, not used to honesty at all.

"Sorry if I get a boner on you," Ben said.

Rey snorted, wiping her mouth.

"Wouldn't be the first time, Solo."

Ben laughed and shrugged.

It was easy like this, even if it should have been awkward.

They finished the booze. It wasn't enough to fuck them up but it took the edge off, softened Rey's anxiety and made her less terrified of being touched.

"You ready for this?" He asked.

Rey was feeling honest.

"No, but times up. Let's go."

 


Sex scenes were always awkward. Rey tried to lose herself in Daisy but she was finding it almost impossible. Ben's body was heavy against hers, he was kissing her wildly and he tasted like vodka and cigarettes and Ben. He was panting against her mouth as they stumbled into Daisy's apartment.

There were cameras on all sides of them. They had to cut and do it twice.

Finally Ben's hands were tugging her dress off of her body and his lips were on her neck and her chest and she was shivering. She let out a breathy gasp and felt him press closer, hands urgent.

They cut.

She was panting and flush and Ben's eyes were dark and hungry.

They gave Ben a little "sleeve" for his dick and Rey had panties on but no top and they were positioned carefully in bed and makeup was applied to strange parts of her body and they were rolling again.

Rey was on top of Ben and he wasn't exactly hard but she could feel him, solid against her and she knew she was wet, at least a little bit, she had to be because she could taste him, smell him, feel him.

"Okay, you know what to do, Rey make it look like he's fucking you. You love it, it's soft, you're lost in it," Poe said.

Rey nodded and began to rock against Ben, she let her face mirror the shock of him stretching her, pictured how it would be if he really were to slide inside of her and she braced her hands on his shoulders.

Ben was beautiful, he looked truly lost in it, god he was good. Rey panted and leaned forward to groan against his neck and his hands were clawing at her back.

She was moving in earnest now, hips bucking against him. He was moving enough to work up a thin sheen of sweat but at one point makeup came over to spray them with water and then they were back at it.

There wasn't any dialogue, they were just supposed to be wrapped up in each other and they were.

Ben, solid underneath her. Ben's hands on her hips, his lips on her shoulder. She gasped and moaned and squeezed her eyes shut and when she opened them and looked at Ben his eyes were wet, he was crying.

Fuck, she felt her body straining for him, leaned down to kiss his cheeks where they were streaked with tears.

She heard Poe yell cut but she didn't stop, peppering light kisses against his cheeks and eyelids and nose.

"You're okay," she whispered, and leaned in to capture his mouth.

She kept kissing Ben, even after she heard Poe yell cut for a second time.


~~~


Rey had decided that once the movie wrapped, she and Ben would go separate ways. She just had to figure out how to tell him that. She was still embarrassed about getting caught up in their scene the other day.

Plus ever since she had let him come over (it was just one time, okay) he seemed giddy around her. The same energy, like lightning under the surface, that he had always been crackling with even as a kid only now he was massive and his energy was... louder. Rey couldn't think around him. She kept trying to tell him something like "thanks but no thanks" but she couldn't get the words out when he looked so...happy.

She remembered him skinny in the moonlight, knee deep in the sea and looking happy like that, like the world was endless and thrilling because she was by his side.

She fucking hated it.

This had to end and it had to end soon or she wasn't going to be able to get out.

He was a magnet and she was a thousand tiny shards of iron, scattered across the sand and trembling toward him. She knew it was a time bomb, her whole heart. She had to run.

She got to set on Wednesday and Ben was already there, bouncing on the balls of his feet and smoking a cigarette outside her trailer and her traitorous face quirked up into a half grin. They had to shoot some transitions today, boring stuff that was mostly cuts, walking to and from places, in and out of doors from all angles, that soft of thing.

"Hey I have an idea," Ben said, in her space with sparkling eyes.

"That's never good," Rey joked.

"Shut up, listen, lets go surfing. I have a place on the beach still and we can go this weekend, or tonight, or right now."

Sure. Yes. Go right now.

Rey scowled at her brain but Ben thought it was for him and maybe that was for the best because now was the time, just say it.

"No," Rey said.

Ben's smile faltered.

"Look, I am really grateful that we made this movie together. Being around you has been...good. It's been oddly healing and it reminded me of parts of myself I let go of when I lost you, and- and I am so thankful," Rey kept talking.

Ben looked like he was going to throw up. He took a step back from her.

"Ben listen, I mean it. I don't hate you anymore and it's like a weight is off my chest."

She stepped closer to him but he kept moving away.

"Rey-"

Her name was a warning. She had to finish this.

"I'm thankful Ben I really am, thank you for doing this movie and for trying, because I never would have I would have died hating you and I don't but I- fuck Ben what do you want from me? Did you really think I was just going to- I don't know forget? Fall back into the shitty person I was a decade ago? I can barely handle the shitty person I am now and I wouldn't even be good for you, trust me. You don't know me Ben I'm a mess-"

"Oh for fucks sake Rey. Don't tell me I don't know you," Ben said, anger dripping from his words now.

"I don't know you? I don't know you still listen to Brand New when you're sad. Or that you keep a journal, and it's under your pillow- no I wasn't even in your room! I don't know that you probably have band lyrics tattooed somewhere I can't see them or that your favorite food is cheese even though, Jesus Christ, you probably haven't had it in what? Six months? I don't know that you still drive down dark canyon roads when you can't sleep and that the only thing you hate more than me
is talking about food and when people tell you what to do. I don't know you? Fuck off with that shit Rey, I don't know where you get off."

Rey was reeling. Everything he said was true. She couldn't think.

His voice softened, his eyes gleaming as he moved closer to her.

"And I know why you're doing this, I know that you think you're keeping yourself safe but that's not what this is Rey, this is giving up on something most people never even have the privilege to experience and that's what it's been, a fucking privilege. Every day of loving you, even when you hated me, I wouldn't trade it. If you want out fine, run, be alone, I would never ask you to stay if it wasn't what you really wanted but don't fool yourself into thinking I don't know what I'm talking about or I'm just some asshole who doesn't get you. You wanna leave, leave the real me. Leave the version of me who knows you better than anyone."

Rey couldn't speak for a long moment.
Her heart was slamming.
She finally found her words.

"Fuck you Solo."

Rey walked away from Ben.

 


When Rey finished shooting a few of her solo shots she steeled herself to go shoot a few things with Ben.

She rounded the set that had her little flower shop and found Poe instead.

"Where is Ben?" She asked.

"He wasn't feeling well, he took off for the day. You have another two scenes to film then I'm cutting you early. You look like you're not feeling well either."

There was a hint of something in his voice, irritation maybe? Accusation? Rey didn't like it. She just nodded and shot her scenes.

Like a goddamn professional.


It took longer than she thought it would and Rey was distracted. She kept replaying Ben's words in her head. She had been so thrown off, so angry in that moment she hadn't been able to respond.

He was right, she knew it, but that wasn't the point. He said it himself, if she wanted out, she should take it and she was. She was taking it.

It fucking hurt.

Rey fished in her bag for a cigarette and found none and she stomped her foot. She was hungry, dizzy hungry, and so very done.


"I'm leaving too, I'm not feeling well," she yelled at Poe and left before he could respond. It was already after 6:00. The whole day was shit.


Rey got into her car and started to pull off the lot. She turned on her phone.

Twitter was blowing up, why were so many people tweeting at her? There was a text from Rose and from Hux. Hux? She pulled over before leaving the lot and began to look through the messages.


Hux
Do you know where they took him? I can't find out.

What?

Rose
Call me please Rey don't go on twitter just call me

Rey went on Twitter.

There was a roar in her ears she realized must have been blood rushing but nothing made sense. It sounded like a storm.

BEN SOLO INVOLVED IN CAR WRECK, IN ICU

 

HOLLYWOOD STAR BEN SOLO DRIVES OFF MULHOLLAND

 

IS BEN SOLO DEAD? FANS WAIT WITH BAITED BREATH FOR NEWS

No.

No no, this wasn't happening. She couldn't think, she couldn't breathe. Ben, her Ben.

She peeled out of the lot and onto the highway at breakneck speed.


She called Hux first, he didn't know where they had taken Ben only that it was bad, and he sounded distraught.

She called Rose to tell her to call hospitals and the three of them kept calling.

Hux
He's at cedars, I'm on my way too

Rey
Fuck okay I'll be there as soon as I can


Why had they taken him way out there? This wasn't good, not good at all, fuck.

Rey wove in and out of traffic but it was Los Angeles at 6pm it was a fucking parking lot and she was losing it.

Ben.

She thought about Ben when she met him, his skinny arms and sharp knees and goofy grin. She had been obsessed with his ears, had wanted to badly to touch them but had had no recourse to do so, it would have been wildly inappropriate.

Years later, when they were laying in bed in their shared apartment she would trace the shell of his ears with her fingers, and then with her mouth. He would shiver against her every time.

Ben in the ocean, happy. Ben beside her in the car, always reckless.

This was her fault.

He couldn't be dead, he couldn't be. She would KNOW. She had always been so certain that if Ben died she would feel it, would sit up from a dead sleep clutching a heart that stopped beating because she never wanted to live in this world without him. She could imagine separate lives, she could be okay as long as he was okay but if he died she would never live through it, she wouldn't know what to do, the world wouldn't make sense anymore.

Ben wasn't dead because she was breathing and she wouldn't be, right? No god would let him die when the last thing she said to him...

Rey wasn't crying but she was vibrating. The adrenaline and the fear was so intense her mouth tasted like blood. Her knuckles were white.

Traffic wasn't moving.

"Fuck!" She screamed as she slammed her hand against the steering wheel hard enough to bruise.

Ben.

She let herself really think about him.

About his heart beating wildly against her cheek as she laid with her head on his chest. The way his hands felt on her skin a few days ago during filming. How when she would have bad days he would bring her candy and let her pick what they watched and stroke her back.

Ben with his surfboard, glistening against the cerulean sea. Ben teaching her to skateboard at Papa Jack's in Malibu. Holding her hands as she picked up speed.

Ben crying.
Sometimes in bed, talking about his father and how he had always been a disappointment to him, fast tears and trembling lips. Sometimes he would press his larger frame against Rey desperately.

He was always closer to tears than she was, from frustration or anger or love or sadness.

She almost never cried. Ben would weep during car commercials.

Ben. She was such an idiot. What the fuck was she thinking, she was just going to let him walk out of her life?

Rey prayed to the universe and every kind of god to just let him be okay, she would fix this if he was just okay, she promised. She had been so proud, so stupid.

Please give me a chance to fix this, please, she thought, and tears were closer now.
Even if it's just time to say sorry.

She finally got to the hospital. She parked illegally. She didn't give a shit.

She ran from the car and into the ER.

"I'm here to see Ben Solo," she was panting.

"He's here but access is restricted," the woman at the desk said.

Fuck.

Rey
They won't let me up

Hux
I'll call down hang on

Rey waited. And waited. The phone rang.

"Yes. I'll just need her ID. Yes."

Rey had it out before the woman hung up. She looked at it slowly, she wasn't in a rush, she must deal with this every day, how could anyone be calm right now?!

"Third floor, 307, you can go in. Keep the ID out."

Rey darted to the elevator.

She had never felt this horrible, never. Even at the peak of her breakdown she hadn't felt fear like this. Back then, it seemed reasonable that Ben would have left her that way, willingly, nothing about him being ripped from her made any sense.

Please. Please don't be dead. Please let me say sorry.

She saw Hux first. He looked calm.

"Hux!" She ran up to him and he hugged her, it had been a long time.

"Hey, you can go in. It's okay, he's okay."

Rey didn't believe him, she pushed past Hux and into the hospital room.

Ben was not dead. He was awake and sitting up and a little bloody, his face was cut from eye to chin and his chest was a mess of cuts and bruises but he was fine.

"Rey?"

Ben looked confused to see her, Hux must not have told him she was coming.

Rey started crying, huge painful sobs and Ben sat up immediately, forgetting he was attached to an IV.

"Oh my god you're okay," she said and she ran over to the bedside.

Nothing mattered right now except that he was okay. Was he okay?

She ran her hands through his hair and across his cheeks and his shoulders, checking to make sure he was really here, alive.

"Hey, baby I'm fine," Ben whispered, he looked shocked and he should be, Rey had been so awful and now here she was...

"I thought you were dead, you have no idea Ben the last two hours have been hell, I thought-" Rey choked off with a sob.

"Don't trust the media, right?" Ben joked and Rey let out a watery laugh and pressed her face against Ben's neck. He moved over in the small bed and it was hardly big enough for him but Rey was tiny and she didn't care she crawled up next to him, sobbing wildly.

"I'm so sorry," she said.

Ben's hand was hesitant when it came down to stroke her hair. She could smell him, under the scent of antiseptic and blood, Ben.

She was sobbing and speaking all at once.

"I'm a fucking asshole I'm so sorry, Ben I'm just, I'm fucked up okay I'm broken and I'm not the same girl you loved, that's all I meant I just mean I am... less now, and I can't fix it and I don't know if I want to but I never could have done it, said goodbye to you again, and not forever. I'm so sorry." She sounded hysterical.

"Hey, hey Rey no, you're okay, baby you're okay, I know," Ben was touching her and holding her and Rey could hardly think.

"I thought god was gonna take you away from me for being so horrible to you," she said against his neck.

Ben laughed, making her look up.

"Fuck you're egotistical. I love you, god isn't punishing you babe, I drive like an asshole, it was always a matter of time. And I'm fine? Look at me," he took her chin between his fingers. "I'm okay, I'm here with you. I'm sorry too, I've been just, stupid."

He was still bleeding and bruised but his eyes were clear.

"I thought I could show up in your life and slide back into place but it's obvious you've done fine without me, better maybe, I don't know. I just wanted so badly to prove to you that I was sorry, that I would do anything to have another chance that I wasn't listening to you, to what you wanted. If you don't want to be with me Rey, that's okay. I would never want anything from you except willing enthusiasm and I won't push you, you have every right to defend the life you made without me, just because mine is shit without you doesn't mean the same is true for you."

Rey didn't know what to say, she had never been as good about expressing her feelings, Ben had always been the feeler. She didn't know what to do, wasn't sure what she was capable of but she knew she was willing to try. Maybe that was enough.

"I miss you all the time," she said.

He pulled her closer to him and she put her head on his chest, it was easier if she didn't have to look in his eyes.

"I'm just so scared Ben, nothing scares me except you. Nothing makes me feel anything except you. I've gotten so comfortable being numb and then it's like when I'm with you, my heart is walking around outside of my body. It's fucking terrifying."

"I know," Ben said.

"I don't wanna lose you, I don't know what I'm even capable of here but I'm gonna try not to run, okay?" She lifted her head to look at him. "I'm gonna try."

Ben had tears in his eyes, but he was smiling and nodding. Rey slid tighter against him and let him hold her, legs tangled in the tiny hospital bed.

Chapter Text

Los Angeles, California, 2017

Poe postponed filming all of Ben and Rey's scenes for a week so he could heal his bruises and get the stitches out. Makeup would be able to cover the inevitable scar.

"Don't you think it makes me look like a badass?" Ben asked.

Rey snorted. Ben was huge and muscled and had a severe face but somehow he lacked whatever quality made someone look "badass" and ended up looking more like a big Great Dane, even with his new scar running from above his eye to the side of his jaw.

"No," she said, but she traced her fingers along the stitches gently and he shivered.

They had kept Ben in the hospital overnight and Rey was there to pick him up since his car was scrap metal now. It had rolled all the way down the side of the hill, they had to bring Ben up with a fucking helicopter.

Ben was pouting.

"Not badass, but...distinguished? Maybe?" She was trying to placate him. It worked. He smiled crookedly at her. Her heart squeezed.

She was trying to let herself fall into this, but it was still so unnatural to her.

When you knocked down a wall there was still all that rubble left over. Huge chunky pieces in the way.

"You look perfect," she said, trying for sweet. Ben's eyes softened.

They left the hospital through the back, Rey couldn't be sure they weren't seen and the thought of it still made her mouth taste sour but she ignored it. It wasn't important. She held Ben's hand.

Progress.

They loaded into her Jeep, it had been towed the night before and she'd spent three hours that morning getting it out of impound, but at least it was in one piece. She couldn't say the same for Ben's BMW.

"Okay Solo, where to? I have no idea where you live these days."

Ben looked over at her but didn't say anything for a minute.

"What? Did you hit your head in the crash? What's your address?"

"I never moved, I mean our place- I kept it."

Ben wasn't looking at her.

Rey just stared at him, she had no idea what to say. He had stayed there? In their apartment?

"Oh. Jesus Ben."

He just nodded, not looking at her. She didn't know what to think about that. Selfishly she pictured him bringing other girls there over the years. It was such a stupid thought. Clearly he had kept it keep a part of her and her first thought was jealousy. It was absurd. She shook her head.

"Okay," she said, and pulled away from the hospital.

She knew how to get there.

 


It was so weird, walking back into that place with Ben. It was like walking into a time warp. Some alternate universe.

It really was a perfect apartment, bright and spacious and in the heart of Hollywood. The light hardwood and wide windows were stunning. It had more stuff in it now, it was very much Ben and very much not Rey but she felt her stomach flip as she walked through the living room to the kitchen and remembered Ben fucking her on the kitchen counter.

"I forgot how big this place is," she whispered.

Ben was in the doorway, watching her carefully. He looked like he was watching a ghost and wasn't he? Wasn't Rey a spectre from the past, somehow back from the grave. It was weird. Weirder than she was ready for, probably.

"Is this weird?" Ben asked her, reading her thoughts or her eyes.

She nodded.

"Yes. But not bad, I guess just...strange. Like walking through a door and finding myself in a memory. Reality feels shifty, like it does in dreams. It doesn't feel real."

Ben took a step toward her, came close and ran his hands through her hair.

"It's real, you're real."

And with his words she was. She leaned up on her toes and kissed him. No Adam, no Daisy, no cameras. Rey let her mouth slot against Ben's and it was gentle. It wasn't a fuck-me kiss it was a toe in the water, and the water was warm.

Ben's hands were on her hips, big enough to cover her completely, and he nuzzled in closer, moving his lips from her mouth to kiss her jaw and her neck and Rey squeezed her eyes shut. She felt herself tensing up.

Ben pulled away but he was smiling.

"I'm fucking starving, hospital food is shit. Do you wanna eat?"

Rey was relieved by the break in the tension. Thankful for Ben, who really did know her well. She very much did not want to eat but she shrugged.

"Come on, I'm gonna change out of these disgusting clothes and then were getting out of here."


Rey had been very clear about not being out in public together.

"I'm just- I'm not ready. I'm sorry, Ben I just... not yet."

Ben didn't fight her, he seemed to be thrilled just by the fact that she was there.

"I have an idea," he said.

Rey let Ben drive her car.

"Promise me you won't throw us off a canyon," she said, tossing him the keys.

"Babe, I never make promises I can't keep," he said, trying to slide into the drivers seat.

"Jesus fuck you're so tiny," he slid the seat back so he could get in.

He didn't drive them off a canyon, just over one as they headed toward the beach. He pulled into the lot of Vintage Grocers in Malibu.

"You took me all the way to Malibu to go grocery shopping?" She asked him.

"Yes," he said.

"This place is so ridiculous," she said as they walked into the market. "I miss the old Trancus, before it got all- vintage. Back when it was Howes."

Malibu had been changing steadily over the last ten years, the neon lit, fish scented market of their youth had been replaced by one made of reclaimed wood that sold fine wine and agave sugar and kale.

"Okay. I'm assuming you have to eat sometimes, so what's it going to be?"

Rey was smiling, this was perfect. She hated eating out because she never knew exactly how much she was consuming and other people would watch her and it was horrible. The anxiety was overwhelming. This she was good at, this she knew.

Being on the edge of Malibu meant less chance of them being recognized because despite being so celebrity filled, it was somehow also a sleepy and quiet beach town. Still, Rey had a hoodie and huge sunglasses on.

She grabbed some fresh white fish, arugula, radishes, onions and tomatoes and two lemons. Ben grabbed a French baguette and she rolled her eyes but didn't argue. They grabbed two bottles of wine.

Ben paid for everything while Rey waited outside, smoking. She was still trying to minimize the amount of time they were together in public.

They got back in the car.

"Are we driving this food all the way back to Hollywood?"

Ben laughed.

"No, I have a house on Broad Beach."

Rey hummed contently. This was better. This was good.

She had felt so weird in his apartment and she had been so nervous about being out with him but being together by the beach, cooking food she had picked, away from prying eyes. This she could do.

Ben's house on the beach was small, a little smaller than his apartment and clearly not a main residence.

The liquor cabinet was stocked but the fridge was empty and it didn't have any of his things except a few surfboards and some magazines, but it was cute and pushed up right against the water.

"I love it," Rey said.

Ben smiled.

"Okay, you pour wine, I'm making food."

Rey didn't argue. She uncorked a bottle of wine and poured them two glasses. She threw the doors to the deck open and lit a cigarette, bringing one to Ben in the kitchen. He took a drag as he put olive oil on the fish and Rey flipped through his ipod and put on Veneer by Jose Gonzales. It always reminded her of him, of their life together.

The sun was sinking slowly over the ocean. Jose's voice was low and eerie and Rey took a minute to just watch Ben. He looked adorable, domestic, and for a moment she pictured what life would have been like if she had never lost him.

What if they had spend the last ten years doing this, who would she be? Would she be this neurotic, this chaotic? Would she be this hungry and this tired all the time?

What would her life look like if you took away the deepest hurt, the darkest shadows? Would it be all music and Ben cooking and the smell of the sea?

She didn't blame Ben for her own darkness, it would have found its way out of her eventually but what shape would it have taken if she'd had his hand in hers, had his heartbeat under her cheek?

They had been children together once, lost and fumbling and clinging wildly to one another and maybe it was good they had cut that tie. Ben had always been the boat, and Rey had to learn how to swim if she was going to survive.

She had proven to herself that she could live without him, could live on her own, and maybe that was enough. To have fought with blood and teeth to keep the ground solid beneath her feet. She was alive. She wasn't just a kid staring into the sun that was Ben Solo, wasn't orbiting around him like a moon anymore. She was here because she wanted to be here.

Maybe that's all that mattered, that she had found her way back to him and made the choice for herself. Because it was what she wanted.

She felt such intense sadness and happiness at the same time, it made her dizzy. She put the wine down.

"Hey, you okay?" He asked her.

Rey walked into the kitchen and shook her head.

Ben was looking down at her, his fathomless eyes and soft mouth both tight with concern.

Rey had so much to say, had no words to say it with. She kissed Ben.

He was eager against her, crowding her with his body and letting his hands consume her greedily.

The music picked up.

Stay in the shade until you reach the grave/
Hide from yourself and see how you fade/
You'll see how you fade/
Love moves on/
Life goes on/
You'll stand alone/
You'll see how you fade/
See how you fade/
Move on or you'll see how you fade/

Rey let herself get lost in kissing Ben, let her hands find his hair and push it out of his face.

He was a little breathless against her, mouth searching when suddenly the kitchen timer chimed. Rey pulled back.

"Dinner's ready," Ben said slowly.

Rey ate in front of Ben. The food was good. The night was warm and the breeze from the ocean was salty and delicious.

"Lets go surfing," Ben said when they were done.

Rey smiled, they were a bottle of wine in already.

"You're kidding right?"

"Do I look like I'm kidding? I have a ton of boards."

"I totally don't have a bathing suit," she said.

"You totally don't need one," Ben winked.

Rey rolled her eyes.

"No really I have wetsuits, like a bunch of them, my friends use this place all the time I have something that will fit you."

It was tempting. Rey loved surfing.

Fuck it.

"Okay Solo lets go."


The first dunk was cold, the water settling into the thick layers of her wetsuit before warming against her skin.

Rey paddled out, racing ahead of Ben. The moon was full so the beach was lit, the air was still warm even if the water was freezing.

The waves weren't anything special but she managed to catch a few, jumping to her feet and feeling the board carve through the water. She could taste the brine from the sea on her lips, salt crystallizing her in lashes and she was laughing.

She watched Ben, so much bigger than the last time they had been in the sea together but looking happier somehow, so self assured.

The moonlight turned his hair dark blue.

"I never stopped loving you," she said, but her words were caught by a crashing wave and Ben shook his head, not hearing her. She didn't wanna say it again. Instead she got onto her stomach and waited for the next wave to bring her back to shore.

She came up on the sand, took the bottle of wine they had left there and drank deeply. She wasn't drunk but she was looser, less stressed.

Ben followed her. His arms came around her from behind and he kissed seawater off of her neck. They stood and watched the ocean. Breathing as one.

Rey turned in his arms and found his mouth, hungry for him. He was so solid beneath her hands, it was like dreaming something into reality. Her love for him could rival the pacific in its depths and its terrors and its wonders.

She pushed her body against him, hands coming into his hair and her movements were insistent, she couldn't get close enough to him. He clawed at her, tugging her close. She pulled away, breathless, and grabbed her board. She ran back toward the house with a wicked grin on her face. Ben chased her, he caught her on the stairs and she let out a howl of a laugh, dropping the board by the side of the house and grabbing at his shoulders.

They stumbled onto the deck, wet and sandy, and Ben was pulling the zipper of her wetsuit down, down. She peeled it off of her arms, not gracefully, it was sticking to her wet skin but she got it down off her arms so it pooled at her waist. Ben was ripping his off too and soon the pale expanse of his chest was in front of her, glowing like the moon.

She ran her fingers over his collar bone, found them trembling.

Ben leaned in and took her mouth again, desperate against her, pawing at her wetsuit as they wandered inside.

"We're getting sand everywhere," she said against his mouth.

"I could not give less of a shit," he said, pushing the heavy fabric off of her hips. She stepped out of it. His was still only half off and Ben stopped, just staring at her. He let his fingers trace her ribs, sharp where they stuck out beneath her skin. She was naked.

"Oh baby," he said sadly, and Rey was suddenly self conscious.

"You're beautiful," he said quickly, "too little, but you're beautiful baby you're perfect."

He sunk to his knees and pressed kisses against her stomach, she could feel tiny grains of sand sticking to her wet skin.

Her heart was erratic, she was overwhelmed by the sight of him on his knees before her, by the way his mouth felt fevered against her clammy, sea cold skin.

He licked across her hip bone, biting gently, and then kissing higher up against her ribs. He was kissing every one of her sharp edges. Rey could hardly breathe. Something huge inside of her was threatening to crack wide open.

She had never loved him more, never less, always this, buried inside of her.

He made his way up to her neck and pulled her down to her knees with him, lowering her onto the floor.

The doors to the deck were still thrown wide and Rey could hear the sea, like blood in her ears.

She clawed at his wetsuit, pushing it down on his hips but the sea water and friction made it too heavy for her hands and so he had to take his hands off of her to slip out of it.

Then he was naked next to her, dwarfing her with the mere fact of his arms and his chest and his thighs and his love, which was clear in his eyes and the way he was looking at her as if she couldn't be real.

Rey was overwhelmed, she closed her eyes tight and let his mouth crush against her, let his hands circle her waist and the weight of his body settle over her.

It wasn't lust, exactly, this wasn't the kind of want she was used to, this was bone deep. She felt like she was drowning and ben was the surface, if she didn't get closer to him she would die.

No one should ever feel love like this.

"Oh- Rey," Ben whispered against her neck and when she opened her eyes he was close to tears, always close to tears, her Ben.

She could feel him, hard against her thigh. She pulled him close and kissed his cheek, bringing her mouth to his ear. She felt him shiver against her at the touch.

It felt like missing the top stair in a dark hall except it didn't stop, just played on a loop inside of her body.


Ben's hand came down between their bodies and pressed against her, she arched her back as his fingers slid against her folds and then inside of her, two of them. There was a stretch and burn, the rough skin of his fingers like electricity inside of her, every atom of her being aching for him.

"Ahh," she said, bringing her teeth to his shoulder to graze along his skin.

"Fuck I love you so much," he said, "I missed you so much, oh my god."

Ben sounded choked up, his voice too high and tight.

"Ben," she said, and he pulled back to look at her, to watch her as he crooked his fingers inside of her.

This was what she had been missing, how had she forgotten this?

She wanted to tell him she loved him, surly he knew it, right? The words wouldn't come.

Ben pulled his fingers out of her, slipped his hands under her and picked her up as if she weighed nothing.

There was a huge, queen bed size lounge chair on the deck and he deposited her onto it.

Rey looked over at the house next door but it was dark, no one was watching them.

Ben dropped to his knees, pulling her to the edge of the cushion. He grabbed her under her knees and pulled her against his face. Without warning, he had his tongue inside of her, fingers digging into her hips as he brought her legs over his shoulders.

Rey let out a little cry and her back arched, Ben hummed against her and she heard obscene wet noises and looked down at him. The sight alone almost made her cum, Ben's face buried in her pussy, the moonlit ocean behind him.

He tongued at her clit, pushing two fingers inside of her as he did so, his other hand coming up to press against her lower abdomen.

Rey felt stars bursting in her body.

"Oh my god, Ben, don't stop."

She felt herself tipping, her thighs tightening against the sides of his face as he worked her harder.

She squeezed her eyes shut as her orgasm shook through her, violent and desperate and when she opened them against her face was wet. She wasn't crying, exactly. Just leaking.

Ben's mouth was on her face, kissing away her tears and whispering that she was okay, he was with her.

"I need you," she said, because she did, in so, so many ways.

Ben groaned, bringing a hand down to grab his cock, he pumped himself a few times before lining up against her.

"Ben I-"

Why couldn't sh say it? She saw a small shiver take him.

Ben let his weight fall against her and he was really crying now. He took in a shaky breath and kissed her neck and her face.

Ben's mouth was on hers again and she could feel the head of his cock, thick and hot against her.

"Do it," she whispered, angling toward him.

He slid into her, slowly. She let her eyes roll back as he filled her. She felt whole.

Ben kept one hand under her back as he rose up onto his knees, pulling her legs on either side of his hips so he could fuck her deep and hard and slow, her favorite.

"Oh fuck," Ben said, looking down at the place where he disappeared inside her with an expression unlike any she had ever seen.

He slowed down, the. stopped inside of her, brought a hand to her stomach, below her belly button.

"Rey I can see myself inside of you," he said and it was true. Rey was too thin, and when she looked down she could see the outline of his dick against the skin of her stomach and maybe it was sick but it was the hottest thing she had ever seen. She brought her hand down and pressed against her stomach.

"Keep moving," she said.

He started to pump inside of her and she could feel him moving inside of her and from the outside of her and she cried out.

"Holy fuck Ben, it's like you're everywhere."

Ben groaned, he couldn't take his eyes off the place where he was filling her.

He kept his pace hard and slow, pushing into her obscenely.

Rey looked up at the stars, felt like she was falling into them.

Sometimes, in her darkest moments without Ben, she imagined other universes. That there were a hundred thousand Ben's and Rey's out there, and that somewhere they were happy.

On her worst days, she held onto the idea that she had only lost him here, in this world, that in another they were married, or they were children again, that somewhere he was holding her hand for the first time, that somewhere she was saving him or meeting him and dying to touch his ears or falling into him or finding him again.

She had given up on this version of them a long time ago but she felt like she was creating a universe now with him inside of her, she didn't know what she had done to deserve this.

"I'm close baby," Ben's words were so rough, she was lost in the waves of his voice.

He brought a hand back to her clit and let his body cover hers, he was panting wildly, his face was red and his eyes were black, lips wet and parted and she kissed him.

"I wanna feel you cum inside me," she said, nipping at his ear and he groaned out loud, rubbing at her clit wildly and she was close, she let out a strangled sound and her nails bit into his back and then Ben was grunting and making wild little noises, hips stuttering madly.

He groaned against her neck and she felt him release inside of her, fiery hot. She followed him, legs wrapping around him to pull him closer, closer.

He collapsed against her, gentle enough not to crush her but heavy enough to pin her beneath him.

He pulled out slowly and she could feel his cum dribbling out of her, it made her shiver.

She kissed his jaw, pushing his hair back. His face was streaked with sweat and tears and he shook his head, marveling at her.

"I feel like I'm dreaming," he whispered.

 

Rey still couldn't speak, so she captured his mouth in a lazy kiss before laying her head on chest and listening the sound of his heart.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Malibu, California, 2017

Rey woke up slowly, wrapped in warm solid heat that was so clearly Ben.

She had been dreaming of him. In the dream he was small, thin limbed and goofy looking but beautiful, sitting in the sand watching the ocean.

"Don't you think you were meant to live in the sea?" He asked her.

Yes.

"If you could trade your voice for breath, like a backwards little mermaid, would you do it? Would you let yourself sink down and live in the salt water?"

Yes.

"I can show you how, do you trust me?"

Yes.


Rey blinked, ben had brought blankets out side to wrap themselves in but the sun hadn't yet risen from the sea. It was freezing. She untangled herself from him slowly.

She was naked. Early dawn turned the sky the color of a bruise. She felt the lingering emotions of her dream slipping away like water through her fingers.

She looked down at Ben. He was so big now, a hulking form on the lounge chair. His arms were covered with tattoos, she let her fingers come down and trace the shapes, so new to her.

He turned his face to her. His jaw was stubbled, his usual little beard growing out in the last few days. He had stitches in a neat line down his face. His huge hands came up to rub his eyes sleepily and Rey felt a surge of love for him.

How could happiness feel so much like sadness?

"Hi," she whispered.

Ben blinked and a smile split his face, his eyes moving from hers down to her tits, and back up.

"It feels like I'm dreaming," he said, and they both looked toward the sea in unison at the mention of dreams.

Rey shivered. Ben reached for her and pulled her back down.

She found his mouth with hers and kissed him slowly, sleepily. She trailed kisses across his face, gentle along his deep cut. She felt him shaking. She moved her mouth his neck, nipping lightly at the skin there. She moved lower to his chest, taking in the tattoos.

She was relearning him, like discovering an old book had been continued, all these pages were a mystery to her.

She let her nails drag along the image of a raven, a burst of red poppies, the shape of waves. He had the date they met over his heart. It was clearly a stick and poke, nowhere near as intricate and delicate as some of the other lines. She pressed her mouth to it and felt him tremble again, hands coming to her ribs. She threw a leg over his hip.

Naked and tangled, she didn't let him enter her even though he was hard, just slid along his length as she took one of his giant arms in her hands. He was breathing faster, eyes wide on her. The half light was eerie and it was cold but she didn't care, the rise and fall of the waves mirrored the rush of her blood.

She took his wrist, kissing the warm skin where his pulse beat, down to another tattoo. This one was a series of lines wrapping around his arm. Thin and simple in black and red.

She kissed up to the dip of his elbow and felt his dick twitch against her. His eyes were blown and dark.

"I love you," he said, and he leaned up on his arms to kiss her. She let herself get lost in it, the taste of his mouth, the heat of his skin in the cold morning.

Rey reached down and took his cock in her hand, pumping slowly. He huffed out a little breath against her mouth, eyes fluttering.

She lined him up, lifting her hips enough to get him fully under her and then she sank down slowly.

She watched his face as she took all of him inside of her, biting his lip.

She relished the burn and drag of his skin, his thick length stretching her wide. It was delicious. She let out a soft little sound and leaned forward to press a kiss into his collarbone.

She started to move, he filled her so perfectly all she had to do was rock her hips and he hit that secret place inside of her. Her fingers scrambled for purchase on his chest.

She had forgotten what it was like to fuck Ben. Had forgotten it wasn't just the act of fucking, it was like she'd shed her skin and crawled into his body when he was inside of her. She could feel both of their heartbeats. It made her eyes water.

Ben was making the cutest little sounds, eager huffs every time she pushed down onto him. She bit at his bottom lip and he sat up suddenly, pushing his hips up.

"Oh!" Rey cried out, his dick was so deep she could feel him bruise her cervix.

"You okay?" He asked.

"Yes, it's good, it's really good," she whispered.

Ben moved again, pushing his hips up and she pushed back to meet him. His hands were firm against her back, pulling her flush against his chest. His mouth was wet on her neck and her jaw and her ear.

"You feel so good," he whispered.

"Nice and tight?" She asked.

He looked at her with an odd look.

"Like coming home," he said.

Oh.

Rey felt her body contracting at his words and pushed herself harder against him, letting herself loose her breath.

Ben looked wrecked, dark eyed and desperate. His hands were gripping her tightly, little grunts falling from his lips. She leaned forward to to catch them.

His hand came down between their bodies, pressed so tight. The hot pad of his thumb found her clit and rubbed roughly.

She grunted, pulsing forward, closer and closer. She was already clawing at him, already their bodies were flush, already he was deeper inside of her than anyone had been, physically, emotionally. Fucking him was like talking to god, like breathing underwater.

She felt the waves crashing beside her and inside of her as she came, crying out into Ben's neck. His nails dug into her back and his hips became arrhythmic and stuttering. He was whispering her name too, but it was drowned out by the rush of blood in her ears and the rumbling waves and a sense of belonging so deep Rey couldn't breathe.

She pulled back, gasping. Ben's hair was sticking to his forehead. The sun had pushed past the horizon, drenching them in an eerie orange glow. He looked unreal, the cords of his muscled arms circling her, his lips swollen from kissing her, chest flush.

She kissed him hungrily.

"I do, you know," she said.

"What?" He asked.

"Love you. I want you to know that, I wouldn't do this if I didn't. But it's just, it feels like relearning a language I used to speak but they switched the letters around. I'm not fluent."

"In love?" He asked playfully.

"In loving you," she said seriously.

Ben nodded. He kissed her again.

"I know what you mean, I do. I don't want to go backwards Rey I want us to move forward. I want to learn your language too."

She nodded.

"I'm freezing," she said.

"Lets go inside, I'll run you a bath."

 

Rey finished her bath and found a soft robe hanging on the door. She slipped into and wandered back into the kitchen. Ben was naked, and he was cleaning.

"Since when do you dishes?" She asked him.

"Hey! I'm an adult," he said, pouting adorably. Rey smiled. She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his middle. He placed his hands over hers for a moment before turned to face her.

"Good bath?" He asked. She nodded.

"I need a shower, I smell like your pussy."

Rey swatted him.

"I'm not complaining! But if we're gonna leave the house I probably should."

"Hmmm as tempting as it is to stay here all day, fresh air sounds nice."

Ben kissed her, smiling against her mouth. He looked so happy, he was buzzing with energy. He deepened the kiss, his mouth hungry against her. She pulled away, hands on his bare chest.

"Go shower."

He stole one last kiss and disappeared down the hall, she watched his ass as he walked away. Fuck he was cute. She felt stupid giddy. She hadn't felt like this since she was 16.

Rey tried to make coffee but found none. There was no food in the house either but she wouldn't have eaten anyway. She thought about Ben's other apartment, full of food and caffeine and memories. She didn't want to go back there.

She wanted him to get rid of it.

Rey put on the clothes she wore yesterday, a simple black dress and chunky boots.

She had a hoodie and huge sunglasses also. She never left without them. Even if it was 100 degrees, hoodie and big glasses.

Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. If she was next to Ben...it was unlikely it would work. She ran to the mirror and put on makeup, tried to make herself look as if she hadn't just rolled out of bed...they would know it was his bed if they saw her.

She managed to look sort of put together.

Ben came out in just a towel, lighting a cigarette.

"Sorry there's no coffee. We can go out and grab some."

Rey nodded.

Ben stripped down, leaving his towel on the floor and he pulled his jeans on with no underwear. Rey smirked.

Once his shirt was on he actually picked up the towel and carried it into the bathroom.

Rey grabbed her purse and zipped up her hoodie. They headed out.

Rey went to grab them coffee from Starbucks while Ben waited in the car. She was still dreading any kind of media reveal. This was still so soft and new, she didn't want anything else to touch it.

She got coffee for them and brought it back to car.

Ben thanked her with a quick kiss and then they were out and heading down the highway.

"What do you wanna do today?" She asked.

Ben had a cigarette between his lips, he was looking at his phone.

"Light me one," she said from the drivers seat and he handed her his without looking up.

"I just rented a bowling alley."

"You what?"

"Yeah we have it for like, three hours. No one else allowed in. How's that for private?"

"Ben you can't just-" Rey started. But why couldn't he?

She smiled.

"You're going down asshole."

Ben laughed, wicked and beautiful.

 


Woodland Hills, California, 2017

Rey was absolutely kicking Ben's ass.

The bowling alley was a dingy, vaguely cosmic themed place over the hill in the valley. The were indeed the only ones bowling.

Rey felt at ease. She and Ben had brought their own drinks in and no one was going to tell them they couldn't, so Rey was drinking wine from the bottle, listening to the radio top 40 hit while Ben rolled another gutter ball.

"God damn Solo, you suck at this!"

Ben fake pouted and hunched over as he ambled toward her, then at the last second he lunged and picked her up, arms tight around her waist. Rey squealed, just managing to keep the bottle in her hand as she was hoisted up. She wrapped her legs around Ben and let her head fall back as she laughed wildly.

"Put me down so I can keep winning," she said.

"You're ruining my plan to distract you."

"Because I wanna win asshole," she kicked out of his arms.

She totally won.

 

"Gimme the keys I'm driving," Ben said.

"Why, you find a good cliff?" Rey asked.

Ben glared at her.

"Because you drank a bottle of wine and you're tiny and a little drunk, while I am a giant who had two beers."

Fair point. She tossed him the keys.

Ben peeled out of the lot and headed east.

"You need food. We're going to In-N-Out."

Rey let out an exaggerated groan. Ben took them through drive through and Rey relented and ordered french fries. Ben got a 3x3 with animal style fries and more calories than Rey ate in a week.

The fries were good.

They ended up going back to Rey's since she refused to go to The Apartment and Ben didn't want to drive back out to Malibu for a house with no coffee or food.


Rey's house was stocked with booze and books and laptops and it was a place they could hunker down and order food and just hide away until Ben got his stitches out.

Ben put on Futurama while Rey rolled a joint and they settled onto the couch, Rey changed into cotton shorts and tee shirt and threw Ben a pack of soft tee shirts and boxer shorts she had grabbed at Walgreens because she didn't want to go back to his place for clothes. He just tossed them over his shoulder, keeping on his jeans, slung low on his hips. Rey rolled her eyes and brought her feet into his lap and she lit the joint. He rubbed the arches of her feet as she inhaled, it felt amazing.

The foot massage, the weed, the entire day.

Ben.

They got stoned and watched cartoons and then Ben started kissing her and she finally brought him into her room.

 

Studio City, California, 2017

Rey and Ben spent the next few days ordering takeout and having sex. It was the most relaxed Rey had felt in years. When they finally returned to set to film the last of their scenes, she couldn't stop smiling.

Poe gave her a knowing smirk that she returned sourly, sipping her coffee and heading onto set. It was just a few more shots, two days of shooting where she smiled at Ben and kissed him lazily and he chased her around set the way he had done when they were kids. Everything felt easy. Which made Rey start to panic.

Realistically, it was only a matter of time before something was going to go wrong.

Rey had been careful. Like, really careful. She almost never went into a store or shop at the same time as Ben. They mostly hung out at Rey's house, smoking weed and watching Netflix and playing on their phones and fucking. She had been very, very careful.

Clearly not careful enough.

She was on set, laughing around a cigarette at something Ben has just said. It was their final day, the wrap party was tomorrow night. Rey felt happy.

"Hey," Poe came up to them, looking worried.

"What's up?" Ben asked.

"Look I wanted you two to hear this from me," he said.

He passed his phone over to them. There was a TMZ article that had posted 6 minutes ago. He must have run to them.

There were a few pictures of Rey and Ben from two days ago. She was carrying two cups of coffee and they were walking down a sidewalk. It had been so early in the morning, she thought they were alone. She looked so fucking happy in the photo. There was more, Ben moving in front of her, Rey reaching up on tip toes to kiss him, his hands on her back, her ass. Him taking the coffee and wrapping his arm around her, kissing her head. They looked ridiculously in love.

Rey wasn't sure if the disgust or delight was stronger but the disgust was certainly newer and uglier and it was the one that made its way onto her face.

Ben was watching her. He looked crushed. Not about the picture, she realized, but about her reaction to it.

He looked disappointed in her.

"Fuck," Rey said, throwing her hands up. And then louder, a true scream.

"Fuck!"

 

Chapter Text

Studio City, California, 2017

Fuck everything. This was exactly what she didn't want to happen. This thing with Ben was so new, so delicate, she knew it couldn't survive the headlines. She could already imagine how in a few hours people would be calling her pathetic and following her around taking pictures with a new sense of purpose. Fucking nightmare.

She walked away from Ben and Poe, dropping her cigarette to run her hands through her hair. Her heart was racing.

She couldn't handle this, emotionally or physically. She could feel the world tilting around her, feel herself losing control.

Rey had built her life, painstakingly and slowly and carefully. With blood and hunger. It was such a delicate ecosystem, and Ben was a drug in the water.

Rey was good at not feeling anything. When people talked about depression they talked about this intense sadness. She would see people in movies, breaking into tears at the table, all of those emotions on the surface. It took her years and a therapist to realize she had depression, had always had it, because her depression didn't make her sad. It made her numb.

She felt nothing about anything most of the time. She didn't care about sappy movies or her favorite music or cute animals. Every few weeks all of feelings would crash down on her and she would blast emo music and drive through the canyons with reckless abandon, on the verge of tears. Sometimes really crying but mostly feeling like she wanted to and unable to do so. And then more silence, more numbness. Nothing mattered.

Except Ben.

Ben always mattered. Always made her feel everything, see everything in vivid color. Made things hurt too, things inside of her she wanted to forget.

She was weak, and she hated that more than anything, hated that sarcasm and indifference weren't the same as being strong. But they weren't, it was the thinnest shell around the biggest mess.

Suddenly Ben was next to her. His hands were warm on her shoulders, a grounding presence. She wanted to fall into him. She knew what she had to do.

"Rey, I'm so sorry it's my fault."

"No, it's not. I was being so stupid."

Ben pulled back, a look of worry flashing across his face.

"Tell me what to do."

"I don't know Ben, I can't go through this again, though, I told you that. I've been telling you that, you have no idea Ben look at me! I'm barely hanging on right now."

She gestured to her over thin frame, the way her clothes hung off her body.

"This thing I have, it's not like... a thing you fix. I'm just barely keeping my head up and this... the last time..." Rey trailed off, thinking of the hospital, imploring Ben to understand. "When I'm with you it's like I lose control, everything is bigger and more intense and I don't have room, Ben."

"Rey..." Ben looked crushed, just destroyed.

She was fucking toxic. She had thought staying away from him was self preservation, she should have understood she was actually protecting Ben because wasn't this Rey's MO? Wasn't she the one who buried him. He had fucked up but people fuck up. Rey had closed the door.

"We can do it together this time," he said, reaching for her.
"You won't be alone, I'll be there and I won't leave you, Rey, we will fight all of it side by side, please."

She couldn't look at him.

"I'm sorry," she said, stepping back. She felt sick. "Ben I am so, so sorry. I can't. We can't do this."

Ben went white. He took a step back from her as if burned, nearly stumbling.

"That's what you want?" He asked.

Rey nodded. She couldn't say it out loud.

He sighed, blinking fast and she knew he would be crying in four seconds.

"Okay," Ben said.

He walked away from her.

 

Hollywood, California, 2017

Rey would rather be dead than at this wrap party. She felt like she had been hit by a truck. She couldn't remember feeling this awful in years. She was in a low, low cut black dress and she had tried to cover the dark circles from her sleepless night with makeup but she just looked pale and sickly. Great. She hadn't eaten in a almost three days.

She turned her head to scan the crowd, sipping her champagne, eyes searching for Ben. She found him leaning against a wall, talking with Poe. As if sensing her eyes on him, he turned. The smile fell from his face and his eyes looked sad but he kept them on her.

Fuck.

She turned back to keep talking to an elderly man, on if their producers.

"What's next for you dear?"

I want to sleep for a year, Rey thought.

"There are so many talented people I want to work with," she said, smiling thinly.
"Plus I've always wanted to try my hand behind the scenes, directing would be fun."

He nodded enthusiastically.

Rey was dizzy, she was so hungry.

"Will you excuse me for a moment?" She asked.

Rey turned away, sliding out of the french doors and onto the balcony. She lit a cigarette.


She felt him before she heard him. She turned around.

"You'll freeze in that," he said, taking off his jacket and putting it around her shoulders.

She shivered as his fingers brushed her neck. Turning her face up to him.

She didn't really know what to say so she braced herself for the worst.

"Listen, Rey, I'm not mad. I understand and I want- I just want you to be okay and if you know that means you're better off without me, then that's what needs to happen. I don't want to come in and knock down everything you've built."

Oh.

Rey felt disgusted with herself because she had been secretly wishing Ben would fight for her, could feel how easily she would slip if he did.

She nodded. Decided to be honest in a different way.

"You know people get addicted to drugs and they have to just stop doing the drug but when your addiction is food, controlling it and restricting it, you don't get to just abstain from food. Every day is a fucking relapse," she said.

Ben was watching her with large eyes, bright in the half light.

"And every time something goes wrong, I fall back and it's like- like I spend SO much time and SO much brainpower keeping this monster in check I don't have anything left over, any deviation means I slip up and it gets ahead of me and I'm really scared Ben."

"What about therapy?"

"I've done therapy."

"What about therapy forever?"

Rey sighed. She nodded.

"Yeah, I mean, I'll look-"

"Don't do it for me, listen, do it for you. Do it so you can use some of that energy in other places even if it's not on me, even if you need it for other things."

He looked resigned, like all the fight had gone out of him.

"Rey, I just want you to be happy. Maybe you're right, who am I to say, you know yourself and if you think being with me is bad for you, I won't push you, of course I won't."

This was just worse, worse than Ben angry and begging her for a chance, worse even than him walking away with all that passion in his eyes, this was like he was really done. He agreed with her, she needed to focus on her and get help and he was right, right? Isn't that what she wanted? What did she want?

A quiet life. No cameras. To be in the ocean. To not be hungry.

Ben.

Rey nodded.

"Thank you," she whispered.

"I love you," Ben said and he shrugged, hands in his pockets.
"And I'm happy you don't hate me. I'm thankful I got a chance to relearn you, to know who you are now. If that's what you can give, that's enough for me. That's all I need."

He was smiling and crying. Always fucking crying. Rey leaned up and kissed a tear off of his cheek. Then she curled against his chest and let him hold her for a few minutes, listening to the beat of his heart, knowing it was the last time.


North Hollywood, California, 2017

Rey hadn't seen Ben in a month. The media had indeed speculated wildly on what the hell Rey Kenobi and Ben Solo were doing kissing. Rey had ordered a press blackout. No responses were given and she took four weeks off to lay listless on her couch and miss Ben.

Finally it was time to do their first interview.

They were in comfy chairs talking to a woman named Kate Simmons who had a YouTube channel that had won exclusive first rights to an interview in a contest.

Social media was weird.

Rey was sipping coffee, trying not to look at Ben as they waited for everything. He looked beautiful, clean cut in dark jeans and a long sleeve dark red button up. He was also not looking at her.

They would be doing a live stream. Rey had said no audience questions, just Kate asking a set of predetermined ones. Rey had agreed to let her ask about her relationship with Ben, and they agreed they would say that nothing was happening between them. They were just friends with history. That's all.

Kate was dark skinned and chipper, big smile and big eyes. She was clearly a fan of theirs.

"Wow I am SO excited to have you both here! It's been so long since we got to see the two of you even in the same room, let alone as love interests in a movie! How was it reconnecting?"

"It's been a pleasure to work with Rey again," Ben said, not looking over at her.
"She's very talented and we have a lot of experience working with one another so it was easy to fall back into."

"I'm sure!" Kate said.
"What was the best thing about filming this project for you, Rey?"

"Definitely being able to work with such a talented cast, it was so much fun to act alongside so many people I admire."

"And it must have been great to reconnect with Poe Dameron as well," Kate said.

"We both love Poe," Ben said with a wide grin. Rey nodded emphatically.

"He's been a great presence in both of our lives."

The questions kept coming. What new experience did this movie force you to try? Which character do you connect with the most? What will you miss about making this movie?

Finally, she asked about them. Rey knew it was coming but her heart still clenched.

"So, we recently saw the two of you getting VERY comfortable with one another, does this mean Kenolo is back?!"

"Oh no," Ben said, and he was acting. Rey could see it. He was laughing and smiling, never looking at her.
"Rey and I have a lot of history, and we're friends. It's been good to reconnect but we are not together, and as much as I'm sorry to disappoint those Kenolo fans, I don't think we're ever going to be together."

He didn't sound bitter. He was smiling. He looked over at Rey.

"You can't go backwards, right? Gotta keep moving forward. Rey is my past but we're different people, and we both respect that."

No. No, no this was wrong. This felt so twisted, like she has crossed into a universe she wasn't supposed to be in.

Rey felt sick, not in the way she sometimes said ugh I feel sick, she felt pure fucking dread tangling through her, burning into panic. Her skin flushed hot and then cold and her breathing got too fast and she stood up so suddenly the comfy chair was pushed back violently into the back drop.

Ben was on his feet immediately, looking worried.

"Rey what?"

"I'm sorry I can't, I can't do it-"

Panic was a beast inside of, seeping out of every pore.

She turned to face Ben.

"I love you," she said, and she couldn't stop. Of all the fucking times for her brain to catch up with her heart. She let out an insane little laugh.

"Ben I love you so much, I never stopped loving you and I can't do it, I can't be the one to hurt you anymore. This is my fault, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry-"

She felt tears on her face. She was crying on a live stream. She literally could not have picked a worse way to do this but Ben was wrong. He was so wrong. She wasn't just his past, she was his future and he was hers, without a doubt. She had just gotten him back, what the fuck was wrong with her?

She felt Ben crush against her, his hands came up to her face and he was kissing her.

Live.

She didn't care.

"Oh my god Rey," Ben said, and he was crying too, of course he was, but she knew they were tears of relief like hers, they didn't even hurt.

"I'm sorry- I have to go, we can't- I'm so sorry!" Rey said to Kate.

She took Ben's hand and nearly ran off the small set. Leaving their host sitting with a huge, shocked grin on her face.


"Holy shit Rey!" Ben said, laughing around his words once they were outside by the cars.

"I have never known you to be dramatic but WOW Poe is going to love this, he's gonna up your pay."

"I doubt that, he already doubled it," Rey said, distracted and dizzy. What had she just done.

Ben surged forward and wrapped his body around her, he was buzzing, he was elated, she had made him so happy. It was worth it. She just wished she hadn't hurt him. She wished she wasn't so stupid.

He pulled back and his face fell when he realized she was still crying.

"Rey?"

"I am just so sorry, Ben I'm so sorry, I can't believe I hurt you again. This is all my fault, I'm an asshole. I blamed you for everything but I'm the one who ran. Ben I ran away from you and you tried to come home over and over and I didn't let you, it was like some kind of punishment, I knew I was miserable but I felt like I deserved it, and like you deserved it too, I don't know. It's so fucked up, I'm so fucked up. I'm so sorry-" Rey choked off and pressed her face into Ben's chest, his hands were on her and then he was sinking to his knees in front of her, putting her face just above his.

"Rey, I don't care, listen to me, I meant it. We can't go backwards, the past is the past, let it go. I'm with you and we're going to move forward together, for as long as you let me stay by your side."

"I love you," she said, and she leaned down to kiss him. He rose quickly, lifting her into his arms in a crushing hug before setting her down.

"Let's get the fuck out of here."


Venice Beach, California, 2017

Rey and Ben barely made it inside her place before he was tugging at her top, pulling it over her head. He lifted her swiftly, pushing her against the door as he lapped at one of her tits through her lacy bra, dragging his teeth along the material. Rey gasped. His touch was hungry and desperate and glorious. She let her legs wrap around him.

"God damn you're so beautiful," he said, kissing her tits, sucking at her nipple through her bra. It felt raw and wonderful. Rey made a little noise and took her other nipple his hand, supporting her with just his hips one arm under her. As if she weighed nothing.

He brought his face back to hers and took her mouth, tongue pushing wildly against hers. She was grinding against him for friction.

She couldn't believe she almost gave this up.

She pulled back to take his face in her hands.

"I'm so sorry, I love you so much, I love you-"

He was kissing the words from her mouth with a new force, swallowing her breath and then he was carrying her into her room. He threw her down on the bed and she was frantically undoing her jeans.

She needed to feel him.

He tugged his shirt over his head but kept his jeans on, coming to tug hers off.

She was below him in just her underwear and bra, and he ducked his head between her legs, letting his mouth come up against the soft cotton of her panties.

Rey pushed her hips against his face, he opened his mouth and sucked her through the fabric. The wet heat of his breath scalding against her.

"Ah," she cried out, and he grabbed her behind her knees, pulling her closer. His nose was rubbing the rough fabric against her clit and she was losing her mind.
His fingers clawed at the edge of her underwear as he tore them off.

Then his mouth was on her and Rey leaned on her elbows to watch. It was so beautiful, Ben's face pressed into her, the way he licked at her pussy. He pushed his fingers into her roughly and she arched her back, bringing a hand to her mouth to bite down.

Ben reached up and pulled her hands away.

"I wanna hear you," he panted, crooking his fingers inside of her.

She cried out.

"Ben, oh my god," her thighs were shaking as he sucked on her clit.

She didn't hold back, let herself buck until his hand was on her stomach, holding her down and putting pressure on her from the outside. His hands on here were intoxicating.

"Baby don't stop," she whimpered, and he didn't. He pushed another finger into her, setting a devilish pace. She could feel her orgasm building, hot and intense.

She whimpered every time he slammed back into her then she was gone. She felt herself gushing into his mouth.

He drank her up.

Rey was shaking. Ben sat up and wiped his chin with his arm, grinning like an idiot. Rey laughed, warm and easy and he covered his body with hers, kissing her.

She couldn't believe he was hers.

Rey pushed at his shoulders, flipping them.

She was in just her bra, and once she was on his lap she reached back to unhook it.

Ben was watching her with wonder in his eyes. He looked so happy. She had made him happy.

She let her damp pussy drag over the rough denim of his pants. She could feel the outline of his cock, straining for her. She unbuttoned him slowly and he lifted his hips to let her drag his pants and boxers down.

His dick was beautiful, thick and red and reaching for her. She stroked him a few times before sliding down his body and licking up his shaft. Ben whimpered, hands fisting in the bed sheets.

She loved this, loved pushing each little sound from him with her mouth and her hands and her body.

She looked up at him while she opened her mouth and let him slide inside.

Hollowing her cheeks as she worked him deeper down her throat, her hand catching what her mouth missed.

Ben was trembling, little grunts and gasps leaving his lips in quick succession.

Rey began to move up and down. One hand on his hip, one under him, gently working his balls.

She hadn't done this in a while, but she hadn't forgotten how. She hummed around him, letting him push all the way down her throat. She only gagged a little, pulling up once before dipping back down with enthusiasm.

"Oh my god, watching you suck my dick is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," he said, babbling.
"You look fucking perfect, oh fuck, Rey, baby, my baby," Ben whimpered again.

Rey redoubled her efforts, sucking harder and Ben pushed at her shoulder.

"Need to fuck you, please," he said.

Rey pulled back and laid down next to him. Ben kissed her roughly, coming to hover over her. He looked unreal above her, carved from stone, dragged from her dreams.

She could see him as he was now and also as he had been when he was small and who he was in the lost years, every version of Ben crashing together. His velvet eyes and his serious mouth, the dip of his collarbone and the alabaster skin of his chest, dotted with moles.

"I love you," she said again, because she could, couldn't stop, really.

"So much," he whispered, lining up along her center.

Rey raised her hips as he slid into her, slowly. He took a second to adjust once he had pushed all the way inside, and then he was moving, body thrusting against her.

Faster, faster. He was panting above her, eyes narrowed and face scrunched up and he was breathless and beautiful and hers.

Rey whimpered every time he hit that place inside of her, hands coming up to tangle in his hair.

"Tell me before you cum," she said, and he nodded.

"I won't last," he groaned.

She kissed the side of his mouth, his jaw, his damp hairline.

She felt him deep inside of her and also everywhere, in her head and in her blood. Her heart was on fire.

"Rey I'm close," he said, face tight.

"I want you to cum on me," she said.
"I wanna see it."

"Oh fuck," he said and he pulled out roughly, squeezing his dick to keep from losing it at her words. Then he was jerking himself roughly. She watched his mouth part and his eyes blow out dark and bottomless. He made a strangled noise and then he was cumming, hot ropes hitting her hip bone and stomach. He grunted and jerked his dick a few more times.

It was so hot, the heat of his release messy and slick on her skin.

Rey brought her hand down to touch the cum, spreading it on her skin and then used her sticky hand to roughly rub her clit.

"Holy shit," Ben said, awe in his voice and she was cumming too. He kissed her as she did, catching her little moans in his mouth.

Rey's body went limp. Ben collapsed next to her. She brought her hand, sticky with both of their cum, up to her mouth and sucked her fingers clean, watching his face as she did. Ben shivered.

"Fuck that's hot," he whispered and Rey smiled.

She curled up against him, not caring that they were both getting sticky. She liked that he had marked her, had claimed her as his.

She was his.

"I love you," she said again, and then again. She pressed her face into his neck and let their breathing normalize slowly, hand over his heart.


Rey and Ben showered, she made coffee and set out a place of cheese and crackers. He didn't ask her to eat and she was thankful. She took a few crackers to just show him she could.

"What now?" He asked.

"Well I think we should talk," she said.

He nodded.

"First, I want you to get rid of the apartment. I don't want to go there, it feels like moving backwards and it's just, it's too hard. It's the place I lost you."

"I'll list it tomorrow," Ben said.

She nodded. Okay.

"I need a break from acting, too. I need some serious time off, probably time away from LA," she said.

Ben nodded.

"Where do you wanna go?"

"I don't know, but I want you to come with me. If you want to... Somewhere we can just sort of rebuild."

"Whatever you want, baby I'm in. I'm all the way in."

Rey felt her heart swell. They could do this, she thought, if they could do it their way. Just them.

A quiet life. No cameras. The ocean.

Ben.

"I'm in too," she said.
"Come on, lets go to the beach. We can camp in my car."

Ben smiled, leaning down to kiss her, lazy and familiar.

"Lets go."

They drove out to the sea, hands clasped tight.

Rey lit a cigarette, leaned out the window, watched the waves along the shore as they drove.

For the first time in a long time, Rey felt okay.

She smiled at Ben, and then laughed, wild and wonderful and free.