Rey looked up at the clock above the cooker. Five minutes to eight. She took a steadying drink of wine. He would be here in five minutes. He had a point of never being late.
She had to ask him. She had to ask him tonight. If he said no then she would look into other options. If he said yes… well, she’d get to that bit later.
She’d sent Millie off to her grandparents so she would have the house to herself. She’d even sent BB8 off to join Millie, Han and Leia so the giant orange and white cat couldn’t intrude on her and Kylo. Rey knew from experience that Kylo often referred to her pet as ‘giant fur-ball’.
Rey had been careful to choose her outfit tonight: her best jeans, gladiator sandals and a purple tunic-top. She didn’t want to appear to be trying too hard or to appear to look scruffy. The latter was more her style – she was normally covered in engine oil after work or oversized t-shirts with her most comfy tracksuit bottoms. She didn’t want to appear to not be taking this serious. She needed to appear sane. Even if this idea was decidedly insane.
The house had been hoovered and the dirty laundry hidden from sight. She’d done the dishes the night before and made sure Millie had taken everything with her for her sleepover with her Granny and Grandpa – she didn’t want Han popping to her house for a stuffed toy at the wrong time.
Rey’s eye was caught by one of the many drawings that had been stuck to the fridge. It was of Rey–or at least a stick figure that was covered in overalls and had a big crayoned smile. Rey mirrored the smile. Her daughter was skilled at making life look as colourful as possible. Millie was always drawing her little family. There was a separate picture of another stick figure who seemed to be coloured in black clothes and matching hair. His legs were almost ludicrously long to symbolised his towering height. To Millie, her Daddy was the tallest man in the world. Rey, who was fairly tall for a woman and still had to crane her neck up at times to look at the father of her child, was inclined to agree.
She loved her daughter. She loved her so much and she loved being a mummy. It was a tough job especially as a single mum but the best job and her baby was the family she’d always dreamt of. All those years dreaming of her parents coming to collect her from foster care may have come to nothing but her healing had began in earnest when her daughter had first been placed in her arms squalling and sticky but utterly perfect.
She had remembered the words of Maz: the belong you seek is not behind you; it is ahead.
Millie was now nearly six and beautiful. She was going to be tall but still let her Mum pick her up for a big hug. Freckles dusted her button nose, she had Rey’s hazel eyes and dark curly black hair of her father. She had begun to notice that two of her milk teeth were wobbly – they would have a visit from the tooth fairy soon.
There was a knock on the front door and Rey nearly spilled the wine she had been drinking. Putting the glass down on the kitchen counter and taking a deep breath, she moved towards the door of her home.
Opening the door, she was greeted with a man about six foot three with a strong build and her daughter’s black hair.
“You wanted to see me?” Kylo Ren asked.
“Yes...” God, her voice sounded like she was coming down with a head-cold. “Yes.” She said more clearly. “Come in.”
Kylo stepped over the threshold and Rey closed the door. His usual air of arrogance and assurance was noticeably absent in that moment; he looked almost nervous. Rey couldn’t blame him-without Millie there to be their focus it was distinctly strange and bought back memories of their first encounter.
Rey had actually met Han Solo first when she had been interviewed for a job at his mechanical workshop Kessler Run. She’d heard of the legendary mercenary from reputation alone and he was just as gruff as you would expect a former career criminal. At the time, she was nineteen, living alone and just wanted a decent job. Moving to the America had been something of a fluke in the grand scheme of things but England was the place where her parents had abandoned her. While she was in the vicinity of Jakku Home for Neglected and Abandoned Children, she would always be looking over her shoulder for the parents who had liked the bottle a lot more than her.
Besides, she’d landed on her feet in regards to friends. She’d met Finn more or less at the airport and they had been best friends from that moment on. It was him that she had been living with at the time of her job interview.
Han had seemed sceptical of her prowess but not because she was a girl; it was purely because he believed no one was as good at cars than him. Rey’s subsequent knowledge and clear ability was both humbling, impressive and deeply annoying to Han.
She got the job nonetheless.
Life in the first few weeks at Kessler Run was what Rey had always dreamed of. She fixed cars, diagnosed problems, tinkered with engines and ate her packed lunch with Chewbacca (Han’s second in command and a man hairy enough to be mistaken for Big Foot) and Han in the shabby break room. Chewbacca rarely said anything that was distinguishable and Han mainly talked lovingly of his ancient vehicle ‘The Falcon’ which he was determined he would be able to get back up and running. It was nearly ten days before Rey even realised that Han had been married let alone that he had a son.
She soon became all too well acquainted with the prodigal offspring of Han Solo.
Rey had been the only one in the garage the night he revealed himself after opting to stay on to fix up a particularly difficult engine. It was clear that he had been expecting to see his estranged father and not a skinny, brown haired girl with grease on her forehead. Rey had been rather taken aback at the appearance of the man. He wasn’t what Rey had been expecting at all – he was dressed in an impeccable black suit with matching black hair that brushed his shoulders. His features were familiar to Han’s – he had Han’s smirk down to a tee – but oddly unusual. They seemed almost too prominent for his face but he worked them very well. His dark brown eyes, strong nose, pale skin and sensuous lips were oddly hypnotic. He was unconventional but undeniably handsome.
The businessman gaped at her a little then seemed to collect himself again.
“Where’s Solo?” He demanded. As though the owner was hiding behind the car that Rey was working on.
“He’s gone to a bar with Chewie.”
“Will he be back?”
“Eventually. But not tonight. Can I take a message?” Rey didn’t know enough about this man to know whether to be standoffish or polite. She had conflicting emotions as to which approach to take.
“Just… just tell him...” The man’s eyes were looking almost startled by the question and like he wasn’t prepared to encounter anyone else but Han. “Just tell him Kylo stopped by.”
Rey nodded slowly and watched as the man walked out of the garage again. It was an odd encounter but not one that Rey could underline in any way as unpleasant.
When she passed on the message the next morning, Han dropped his cup of coffee that he was meant to be drinking which caused it to shatter on the ground. This was how Rey discovered that Kylo was in fact Han Solo’s son.
It was a confusing family drama. Han seemed to have an air of defeat about him where his son was concerned that he had never had at any other time. Like he was too sad to give it words. He had separated from Kylo’s mother years ago and they had lost influence over their son when he had been sent to live with his uncle. It seemed that the uncle and nephew relationship had broken any chance of the whole family being healed. It seemed to have driven Kylo to leaving the family unit altogether.
Indeed, his name wasn’t even Kylo! He had changed it to that frankly ridiculous pseudonym after leaving his family. His real name, his given name by his mum and dad, was actually Ben.
Ben Solo. Not Kylo Ren.
Rey was subsequently introduced to Han’s estranged wife Leia after their son’s reappearance. Rey was stunned at the poise and evident opulence of this woman – Leia was clearly a woman who had been brought up amongst people who were practically royalty. The fact that she had set up home with a man who freely admitted that he would bend the law if he could get away with it was frankly baffling. She was however extremely kind to Rey and took the time to talk to her whenever she could.
Kylo had clearly not come for a cosy reunion. When he eventually came back, it was merely to inform Han that his company was now looking into buying the land that the garage was built upon. His company which he oh-so-happened to be the CEO of.
Rey felt like the bottom of her world had been ripped out from under her. If he bought this land, he would have her out of a job.
Her confusing reaction to Kylo now turned to icy contempt. He was going to rob her of her dream job and was hurting the family she had always dreamed of.
Oddly, whenever he came to the garage to do ‘business’ (or gloat as she saw it), he tended to let his eyes wander to wherever she was located. His eyes were always odd whenever he saw her. They looked almost pleading, confused and very curious.
Rey would aggressively attack an engine until he’d left. He was beneath her notice.
Her hand was forced when she was approached (or cornered) at coffee shop on her day off. She was in the process of paying for her coffee when a ten dollar bill was offered over her shoulder.
“I’ll get this.” Came an all-too-familiar voice. Deep and smooth as velvet. Rey looked up to see Kylo stood before her in his customary suit with her reactions too slow to slap the money out of his hand.
“What do you want?” Rey spat as a means of saying ‘thanks’.
“Is it a crime to say hello? Or be friendly?”
“You’ll probably send me a bill afterwards.” Rey tried to stride past him but Kylo easily caught her arm.
“Why are you being so unreasonable?” Kylo asked sounding genuinely confused. “I’ve never had any issue with yourself-”
“My problem is the fact you are going to tear down my workplace and leaving me destitute. Or have you conveniently forgotten that titbit of information?”
“You won’t be out of work.” Kylo said while looking supremely uncomfortable by her accusations. “I can get you another placement anywhere-”
“I don’t want another job!” Rey burst out, causing her to nearly drop her takeaway coffee and caused more than a few heads to turn in the coffee shop they had failed to vacate. Rey lowered her voice to hiss but didn’t sound any less enraged. “I want to stay at that garage with people who care about me and respect my opinions. I’ve finally found a family of sorts and you won’t take it from me. Do you hear me? You won’t!” And with that, Rey had stormed off with her coffee that she dropped in the first trash can she passed.
Rey wasn’t sure if it was that or other prominent forces that brought Kylo away from his plans (he seemed to have a lot more time for his mother than he was ready to admit) but suddenly the plans to buy the land that Kessler Run was built on were never mentioned again. Han never received paperwork that the plans were halted. In fact he never heard anything at all. But as Han explained: no news was good news.
Leia seemed insistent to see her son though. She came to the workshop more often in the hope of seeing her son – or maybe it was to see her estranged husband. Neither of them seemed any closer to actually filing for divorce. If anything, they still seemed to fancy one another!
Maybe that was why Kylo rarely stopped by.
When he did, it was awkward and overly formal. Han tended to stay in the background as though Kylo were a deer that might spook. Leia talked about anything that wasn’t personal like the weather and whether Ben was still doing calligraphy.
Yes, he was still doing it and please refrain from using that name.
Rey hadn’t been sure how to act around Kylo now. She had been almost shockingly rude to him and she had lamented wasting good coffee later in the day. She kept her face hidden behind her work but didn’t actively glare at him. Yet he made awkward attempts at conversation. He would ask how the car she was working on was coming along and where she had learnt such an odd hairstyle of three buns. The powerful owner of an entire law firm suddenly looked remarkably like a teenage boy; shuffling his feet, looking anywhere but at her and going rather pink over his long nose.
It might have carried on like that – awkward conversation and weird tension – if Rey hadn’t been invited to a family barbecue.
Leia had a luxurious house and apparently held an annual cook-out every summer. The sun took a long time to set in California at summer and there would be no reason to run inside to avoid drizzle and wind like back home in London. She invited Rey along with any friend she wanted to bring as well as Chewie (she made a promise that she had set a whole chicken aside for him) and Han. It seemed a regular thing for the couple to occasionally do things together.
Rey would eat her spanner if the couple hadn’t already planned for Han to spend the night after the cook out.
The garden of the cook out was long and well kept and the smells of burgers and hot dogs cooking made both her and Finn’s mouths water. All feeling of inadequacy and not belonging disappeared as they laden their plates with food.
Finn fit in as well as he did everywhere. They were introduced to Leia’s deputy Poe Dameron and an intern called Rose Tico who worked at Leia’s government scheme. Finn was starstruck by Poe’s demeanour and Rey couldn’t help the chuckle and little blush that warmed her cheeks as Poe introduced himself with aplomb to her. He was a charmer and very handsome. And Rose was tiny and adorable. Rey couldn’t help but notice how Rose’s eyes seemed to wander to Finn with a look that nearly bordered on slavish. It was clear that her new friend had developed a rather big crush on her bestie. Not that Rey could blame her; Finn was something of a hunk! It was actually rather depressing to Rey that she felt no romantic attachment to her flatmate. It felt a bit like fancying a brother!
Rey was introduced to Amilyn Holdo, Leia’s best friend and the only woman Rey had ever met who could make pink hair seem almost common place, and noticed Leia constantly looking towards the patio doors.
“Is Leia expecting someone else?” Rey asked as she helped herself to her seventh chicken wing. Holdo followed Rey’s gaze and sighed at the sight of her friend.
“I think… I think she was hoping Ben would come.”
“Kylo?” Rey abruptly put down the chicken wing. “He was supposed to come?”
“She always sends him an invite. Every year. I just think… maybe she believed that she had made enough progress.”
Rey’s appetite died abruptly.
It was nearly eleven at night when Poe offered her, Finn and Rose a lift home. She was about to get in the car when she spotted another car not far from the house. It was sleek, all black and almost ridiculously fast – she’d only seen an engine for that model once and she was sure the manufacturers had rigged it illegally to make it go that fast. Only one person she knew could afford a car that good.
“You guys go ahead! I’ve got to do something.” She announced and took off towards the car before Poe could even question where she was going.
Rey was a fast runner and too quick for the driver to turn on the engine and frantically back out of the street.
“You!” She hissed at Kylo through the window of the car. It was satisfying to see the object of her scorn look at her with something close to shock. Not fear because if he got out of the car, he was taller and stronger that her. But she was a dirty fighter. So it was a surprise when he wound the window down. “How could you? She was waiting for you! She was looking at the door all night!” Rey was angry at the tears of fury that welled up in her eyes. Tonight had reminded her too much of her own childhood – constantly waiting and getting excited for someone who was never going to come. “You have a family you loved you! They give a damn about you! Why?”
“Why what?” Kylo asked quietly. Almost intimately. Rey felt her control slipping. “Why what? Say it.”
“Why did you…” Her voice was shaking like crazy. “Why have you refused this? I don’t understand.”
“Why do you think I’m sat here?” He asked her quietly. Almost tenderly.
“Did you think I had driven here to see my own mother suffering from humiliation? I’ve been sat here for four hours.”
“What?” Rey’s head span. What she was hearing didn’t make sense. Then she noticed his clothing. His usual black suit was missing. He was wearing a black jumper and jeans. He looked like he had been attempting to dress casually and wasn’t used to it. “You… you were going to come? But then why-”
“Explain to me how I would have done it exactly?” Kylo demanded sounding impatient. “Put yourself in my shoes. How exactly was I going to go into the garden, where everyone who grew up with me was congregated, and help myself to coleslaw?”
Rey found her anger begin to ease and a new emotion take over: pity. Maybe compassion. But he suddenly wasn’t the contemptible arse that she had painted him to be.
“Can I give you a lift home? I want to get drunk now please.” Kylo said with an air of defeat.
Rey found herself in his car but not heading home. She decided she needed at least one beer too. And he apparently had a fridge full.
His apartment was all sleek lines and with a black and white colour scheme. And an air of a showroom. There were no pictures or knick-knacks scattered around the place. No mess. Not even a lone sock.
They’d both opened their beers and sank down on the sofa in an awkward silence. Yet with each sip and eventually with another beer, he began to be a bit less closed off. And so was Rey. She wasn’t drunk, she’d maintain that to the end, but she was gently buzzed and feeling more open than ever before.
They talked about everything and nothing. Both had opened up about their own childhoods and Rey finds that the perfect childhood she’d always accused him of having was not quite the truth. As the night went on, she found her eyes drifting more and more over his face. His angualr features were handsome and now up close they looked almost shockingly beautiful.
They never bring it up, not even now, but Rey knew that she was the one to move first and press her lips against his plump ones.
He’d been surprised. Clearly taken aback. But his eyes had then drifted to her own lips and then they were kissing. Kissing without restraint.
Rey had never gone to bed before with anyone. She’d always distrusted sex after hearing of it being used as a weapon so many times. So she was woefully inexperienced. But she knew herself well enough to know that she wanted this.
Rey still let her mind drift to it and shiver in delight. Kylo seemed to be experienced but lacking in confidence so he made it his mission to make it good for her. Every inch of her body had been kissed. Her lips, her cheeks, her neck, her collarbones and all the way down to her toes. It was like being devoured and Rey loved it. Rey had loved to run her hands along Kylo’s body too; he was beautiful unclothed.
The pain of first time sex was noticeably absent when Kylo sheathed himself inside. He’d been more wide-eyed than her upon realising just how innocent she was. Rey had locked her ankles above his buttocks just to keep him where he was.
“I want this. Please.”
It had been glorious. They must have done it about three times and Rey had enjoyed every minute of it.
Of course, it had been a whole new level of awkward the next morning when she woke up next to him.
Rey didn’t regret it – not at all – but she wasn’t sure how to react to this. So she’d silently collected her clothes and snuck out of the apartment. She didn’t know the etiquette for this. Did she leave her phone number? A note thanking him? The number to the best dry-cleaners she knew?
She’d given her heart too easily in the past and she’d resolved to be tougher. So she left without leaving anything. Best not to give people the power to disappoint you.
Kylo didn’t come to the garage after. Rey wasn’t sure he was avoiding his parents or her. Maybe both. She resolved to move forward and take it for what it was – a great night.
That was until her period didn’t come.
“Would you like tea? Coffee? A beer?” Rey offered.
“No alcohol, I’m driving. Coffee would be nice.” Kylo conceded. Rey gestured to him to sit on the sofa which he did with evident unease. Rey was glad to escape to the kitchen to make the coffee. It gave her time to collect herself. “Is everything alright?” Kylo asked as soon as she re-entered the room. “You seem agitated. Is it Millie? Is something wrong?”
“No! No, she’s absolutely fine. She’s having her usual sleepover at Leia’s. No doubt Han will be there to tuck her in. And watch Beauty and the Beast for the millionth time.”
Kylo’s eyes narrowed. “The original or the remake?”
Rey found herself chuckling. “The original.”
“Ah, that’s okay then.”
Rey shook her head fondly as Kylo took a sip of his coffee. Kylo didn’t like much change and in his head, no-one could replace Angela Langsbury as Mrs. Potts. The fact that Rey happened to enjoy the new one irritated him to no end.
“So what’s up?”
Rey fiddled with her own cup of tea.
You have to ask. You have to.
“You know how much we both love Millie?”
Kylo lowered his coffee cup. “Of course.”
“And we want her to have everything we didn’t?”
“Well, one of the biggest things is loneliness, right?”
Kylo nodded clearly wondering where she was going with this.
“We want to make sure she is never alone.”
Kylo looked at her intently.
Just do it.
“Will you give me another baby?”