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Reylo Weekly Challenge

Chapter Text

Rey still dreamt of the ocean, and the island. She knew now that it was Ahch-To, was a place she had lived and touched and allowed to touch her, but when she dreamed it didn't matter. It was just her island, her ocean.

But this was not her ocean, and this was not her island.

The water wasn’t the same deep blue-grey, and the shore wasn't the rocky shingle of dark stones.

Instead there was sand, fine and golden like the Jakku desert, but unlike Jakku, it was met by softly lapping waves.

She felt drawn to the water, pale blue stretching out to the horizon, but as she stepped forward the water revealed itself to be clear and warm around her bare feet.

She walked, drawn by the rhythmic sound of of the waves and the clear, beautiful warmth, and she was up to her waist before she sensed another presence.

She turned around, already knowing who she would find daring to invade her dream.

His black-clad silhouette was stark against the golden sand, and his eyes were fixed on her.

“Ben,” she said his name, and like the pull and push of the waves around her she could feel how it affected him. That it hurt in a bittersweet way he didn't know what to do with, like she was both trying to cut him and kiss him with a single word.

She didn’t realize she was moving back to him until he took a slow step toward the water’s edge, his eyes never leaving hers. The ocean, once pulling her out into itself, now seemed to be pushing her back, pushing her toward him. It didn’t stop until only her ankles remained in the water, and the toes of his boots brushed the very edge of the tide.

“I’ve dreamt about deserts since I met you,” his voice was soft, like this was a secret between them, “Never the ocean. Just sand, all the way to the horizon. I’m always lost, until you find me.”

There was pain in those words, suffering left unspoken.

“I’ll always come for you,” she answered gently, “You don’t have to be lost anymore.”

His sorrow buried into her chest like a blade, but she pushed forward anyway, pushing herself against him and wrapping her arms around his chest.

She should have done this the moment the last guard fell. The instant they were alone and out of danger she should have been touching him, grounding him, wedging herself into the wound Snoke had left in his psyche and reminding him what it felt like to touch the light.

Sand. He was sand, sliding through her arms and out of her reach as the ocean suddenly rose and pulled her under.

Rey awoke with a gasp, but she was not alone.

He wasn’t truly there, not physically, just their bond through the Force allowing them to see and touch. But in that moment it was enough, it let her pull him against her on her little mattress, let her dig her fingers into the muscle of his back and hook her knee over his.

We don’t have to be lost anymore. Please...

Chapter Text

Rey traced Her Scar with her mouth, and Ben closed his eyes with a shaky breath.

She always started with his chest, tracing upwards with gentle little presses of her lips, always so soft, so delicate, like she was afraid of reopening the wound if she wasn't careful enough.

“I'm sorry,” she had said, the first time she had put her hands on him, her fingers tracing the long line of jagged skin with remorse.

“I'm not,” he had answered.

It was not the only scar she had given him in that snow-filled forest. She had nearly severed the tendon behind his knee, and the round, ugly scar on his shoulder still ached if he pushed his muscles too hard.

But they didn't feel the same as the wound that had marked his face, that had cut right through his collarbone and nearly nicked the artery in his neck.

He called it Her Scar because it was the one that reminded him how close she had been to killing him, and what it had felt like to lie disarmed in the snow under her, completely at the mercy of her hand.

It reminded him that lying defenseless under her meant something completely different now. That being at the mercy of her hand would never again mean pain.

Which brought him back to her mouth, and it's slow, soft path along his neck, making him shiver with sensitivity as she breathed against his pulse.

The edge of his jaw, then his cheek, her lips feather light over his cheekbone and ending their journey above his eye.

I love you, he whispered across their bond, and the surge of love that answered him always made his heart race.

He stroked his hands over her thighs but made no move to hurry her, and she squeezed his hips with her knees as her hands slid over his shoulders.

Her palms traced the scars on both of his arms, left by her and by Finn on Starkiller, then the crossbow blaster scar on his side.

His fingers found the scar on her hip from a lifetime ago, the result of a ragged twist of metal in a tight squeeze through the husk of a Star Destroyer on Jakku. A scar on her side from a rival scavenger with a grudge and a knife, who foolishly thought her staff would be no match. A hundred little nicks and cuts that had no story, scattered along her arms, her legs, her hands, just the evidence of hundreds of scavenges, of soft flesh facing rough metals in a hot desert.

The scar on her arm from the first time they had fought side by side, the first evidence of their entwined life on her skin.

He pushed up to kiss it, and she stroked her fingers through his hair as she pressed her lips to the top of his head.

Sometimes they touched like this for hours; soft and earnest, affirming their affection, acknowledging their scars and imperfections to remind each other just how far they had come.

Not this time. There was something on edge in her, a hunger that would not be satisfied by these simple caresses, and his passion rose to meet it.

It never ceased to amaze him that she welcomed his touch between her thighs, bracing her hands on his chest and making a soft sound of want from the rub of his thumb against her clit.

Even more amazing that she welcomed him inside her body, was eager for the thickness of him filling her up in a way that made pleasure sing across their bond.

“Yes,” she whispered, pulling on his shoulders, pulling him up, and he gladly went; gladly kissed her and hummed with pleasure at her hands tugging eagerly at his hair.

When she came she kissed his neck, smearing her lips against Her Scar and tasting his pulse with her tongue, and his pleasure followed in a heartbeat.

I love you, it was her turn to sigh, and he always trembled to hear it.

I love you too.

Chapter Text

The feeling of blood on his hands never seemed to go away.

It would have been a relief if it had gotten easier; if feeling a life extinguish at the end of his blade no longer felt like a rip in his soul, if it was a motion no different than donning his cloak.

He thought killing Han Solo would help him to do that. If he could push himself to commit that act, to kill his father, if he could harden his resolve to the absolute depth of darkness needed to kill a man like Han Solo...

It hadn't. He felt cleaved in two, his father just another ghost that haunted him day and night.

Get in line, old man.

Kylo Ren stared blankly at the black wall of his quarters, sitting back in the chair before his grandfather’s helmet.

It used to be a ritual that brought him strength; speaking to the charred, warped mask, seeking guidance from the spirit of his ancestor through the Force.

He had never received an answer, had never been visited by his grandfather’s ghost, though his childhood had been fraught with dreams of his imposing figure. He hadn't understood it then, his caregivers chalking it up to normal nightmares from hearing too many frightening stories about the legendary Sith; but once he knew the truth, once the Skywalker family skeleton was spilled out to the light of day, he felt sure that his nightmares were more than just childhood spooks.

Snoke had assured him that was true, had spun a web of mysticism around Darth Vader that a devastated, naive Ben Solo had been desperate to believe, had been desperate to have as an answer to all the dark, painful things about himself his family had been so frightened of.

So he took on the mask, and became Kylo Ren.

He longed for the simplicity of the mask again. When he had felt full of purpose, of belief, of awe for the ruthlessness and strength of his powerful grandfather. He had tried so hard to walk in Darth Vader’s footsteps, to achieve the greatness of the Sith lord whose blood flowed through his veins.

He failed, left with nothing but pain and the ghosts of the lives he had taken. Ghosts that still haunted his dreams.

He had awoken from an old dream, an old hurt bubbling to the surface in his subconscious like poison.

Of course they hadn’t believed him, why would they? Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, the legend who had brought the Empire down, trying to kill his own nephew? Never.

He hadn’t wanted to hurt them. He had begged them to just listen! I’m telling the truth! but he knew in his heart that it was a foolish plea. He was a traitor to everything they revered, a murderer, the darkness of his bloodline proven stronger than the light when he killed their master. He hadn’t had a choice.

Their screams had filled his head, jolted him out of sleep to find himself covered in sweat, his heart racing and his breath panting in short, painful bursts.

His body ached with exhaustion, his muscles protesting the disruption of his rest that his mind had created, and he wished he felt safe enough to get a sedative from the med bay.

Safe. It was a laughable concept, for someone like him.

So he sat, and stared, and remembered.

“I believed you.”

His gaze never shifted from the wall above his grandfather’s helmet, but he could see her in his peripheral vision to his left.

“No you didn’t. You called me a liar.”

She stepped closer, sliding slowly to the side, and more of her filled his vision.

“I hit him.”

He frowned, forcing himself to remain staring at the wall instead of looking at her.

“When he interrupted us. He tried to send me away. He was so angry that I had called out to you, and it made me see the truth. That he had lied, and you had not.”

“I’ve never lied to you.”

“I know.”

He couldn’t ignore her anymore. Her knee was nearly touching his, and he hated himself for noticing the fact that she was in a loose, soft sleep shirt, and sleep pants that were several inches too long, almost covering her feet completely.

“I made him tell me the truth, about what he had done to you.”

He looked up to her face, his eyes drinking in the sight of her hair completely free and hanging around her shoulders.

“It took me threatening him with my lightsaber to do it,” she added, and his eyebrows shot up in surprise, “But he finally came clean.”

He didn’t know what to say to that, the two of them just staring at each other for a long moment.

Suddenly she shifted to into a crouch, leaning back on her heels and steading herself with a hand on his knee.

Her touch brough no visions, only a tingling, electrical warmth through his body, and they both shivered.

“Ben-”

“Don’t,” he whispered desperately, his hands clenching on the arms of his chair so tightly he feared breaking them, “Please.”

She bit her lip, looking at him so gently, so much more gently than he ever deserved. It was far and away from the way she had looked at him the first time the Force had connected them, anger taking over her features before she had raised her blaster and fired.

“Go to bed,” she said softly, squeezing his knee, “I’ll make sure you don’t have any more bad dreams.”

He stared at her, and she stared back before squeezing again and standing to offer him her hand.

“Come on,” she encouraged, “Please.”

Snoke was right. He was weak. Weak and foolish and so desperately pathetic. He took her hand, letting her pull him to his feet so she could guide them to his bed.

“Can you see my quarters?” he couldn’t help but ask curiously, and she nodded.

“As soon as I touched you.”

This connection was constantly finding new ways to fascinate him.

“Lay down.”

He returned to his bed. She sat beside him. He couldn’t stop looking at her, and she gave him a little smile.

“I don’t think you sleep with your eyes open.”

“I might.”

She gave a tiny chortle, and slowly reached for his face. He held his breath until her hand pressed gently over his eyes.

“Sleep,” she whispered, “I’ve got you.”

After a moment, her hand tentatively brushed back to touch his hair; lightly, gently, like she expected him to recoil. He didn’t, couldn’t even consider it, and he kept his eyes closed as she brushed her fingers through the dark strands carefully.

“I’ve got you.”

Chapter Text

He did not know why she was so gentle with him. He was a monster, wasn’t he? He had offered her the galaxy and she had turned and ran.

But she was always so kind. Their bond had not died with Snoke, it had thrived, and it seemed to be all the motivation she needed to constantly be there, pressing at the back of his mind, invading his dreams.

His entire life had been filled with restless nights, his mind his own worst enemy, barraging him with nightmare after nightmare as long as he could remember. Ghosts of the past, ghosts of the future, and twinging through it all, the sinister darkness that he would come to understand as Snoke.

Despite the death of his former master, the nightmares persisted; dreams soaked in blood and fear and violence, and he accepted it with grim determination.

Until Rey figured out she could change them.

He didn’t ask her to, and at first he had actively resisted her. He didn’t need her help, and he sure as hell didn’t want her poking around in his head while he slept.

But if Rey of Jakku was anything, it was stubborn. She would not take his refusal for an answer.

“I’m not allowing you to suffer just to spite me,” she growled in irritation after she had pulled him out of a rather disturbing nightmare involving suffocating in his own mask, “That’s just impractical and stupid.”

“Thought you’d relish my suffering,” he had spat back at her out of frustrated annoyance, but the look that came over her features immediately cowed him. No, Rey was not cruel. That he knew.

“I never want you to suffer,” she had told him softly, but before he could answer they had woken up.

He stopped fighting her after that; at least when it came to the shared space of their dreams.

He expected her to simply divert his nightmares to dreams that were more neutral; to help him push away the darkness and the fear and land them someplace calm where they could wait out the night.

He never expected her to help him have good dreams.

“What is that?” he asked, squinting in the blinding brightness of the Jakku desert. His mind was still shaking off the nightmare she had pulled him from, where he had been pinned down and bleeding under an unstoppable hand.

“It’s my speeder,” Rey informed him, giving him a curious look, “You’ve never seen one before?”

“Of course I have,” he frowned, “They never looked like this, though.”

“That’s because it’s one of a kind,” she chirped, hopping up and swinging her leg astride it to bring the engine to life, “I built it myself.”

Of course she had. If she was capable of keeping his father’s hunk of junk from falling to pieces after every hyperjump she was more than capable of building a speeder.

“Come on,” she held her hand out to him, “Let’s go.”

He looked at her outstretched hand for a long moment.

“Ben.” His eyes flicked up to her face. “Please. Let’s just... fly.”

Her eyes were so earnest, and he wished he could deny the feeling of her longing pressing against him across the bond. She wanted to share this with him; this one piece of joy she had found during all those lonely years on Jakku.

He took her hand, letting her help him up to sit behind her on the speeder. It crossed his mind that if this were real, her hands reaching back to pull his arms around her waist would have sent a flustered blush across his face.

She graciously made no comment at his embarrassment, but she did squeeze his knee before revving the engine and taking off.

He had only been to Jakku once, and only at night, so seeing the desert world through her memory was a very different experience than his own had been.

It was almost pretty, in it's own way; deep golden sand formed shifting dunes, and the sky was a clear, soft blue.

They raced by Nima Outpost, then out and out until they reached the graveyard of ships that had once been the Battle of Jakku; the final fall of the Empire.

“I was born on the day this battle took place,” he commented, and Rey angled her head slightly to the side toward him.

“Really?” she said thoughtfully, then after a long pause, “It’s so strange to think about, isn't it?”

“What?”

“How recent the Empire was. Before us, but so close on our heels, you know? The evidence is all around us, but I'll never know that bit of history for myself.”

He hadn't ever thought of it quite in that way, but she was right. The Empire hung over them all, even those who had never lived to see it; they only had the relics left behind and the stories of the ones who had endured it.

“We live our own histories,” he murmured simply, “Someday two people like us will ponder in the same way about the First Order, I'm sure.”

“Not planning on ruling the universe forever then, are you?”

“Everything dies eventually. You, me, the Order. Entropy comes for it all, in the end.”

“Cheerful.”

“Truthful. You know the Force; you've felt it. It's all just a cycle of death and rebirth.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him as she guided the speeder between the giant, empty hulls of the downed dreadnoughts, but didn't answer.

Then the world started going fuzzy, the two of them starting to wake up.

She drew the speeder down to a crawl, then stopped, swinging one leg over the seat so she could turn to look at him. Her fingers brushed his cheek, her eyes so soft and sad, but neither of them voiced the painful thoughts running through their heads.

Then he was staring into the blackness of his room instead of the bright Jakku desert.

He rolled onto his back, taking several deep breaths as he ran his fingers through his hair and tried not to focus on the feeling of her presence in the back of his head.

Chapter Text

She had never been so afraid.

This man, this nightmare, bearing down on her with his emotionless, blank mask and glowing red blade, and all her panicked mind could shout at her was shoot shoot shoot!

All the good it did her, his big, towering form deflecting the blaster bolts as if it were a game, then suddenly she couldn’t move!

“The girl I’ve heard so much about.”

He stepped forward, his head moving slightly as he looked her up and down, making her feel like prey, like meat, then his glowing, hot blade was beside her cheek.

“The droid... where is it?”

His voice was almost mechanical, deep and reverberating. When she didn’t speak, he stood before her, his hand outstretched.

Pressure, like nothing she had ever felt before, pushing into her mind with unforgiving force. She almost cried out, tears welling in her eyes at the pain of his intrusion.

She thought about that moment a lot. Their first meeting, in the middle of a forest while battle raged on behind them. A creature in a mask, black-clad form unforgivingly frightening and looming.

She wasn’t afraid of him now. How could she be? The way he was looking at her, the yellow light of the fire dancing along his features and reminding her just how imperfectly human he was. Not a creature, not even the monster he claimed himself to be.

“You’re not alone.”

No, she was not afraid of this man, who spoke to her so softly, his lonely, aching heart blatant and open for her.

“Neither are you.”

Chapter Text

Rey never expected anywhere to truly feel like home. She had had her little, hollowed out AT-AT on Jakku, filled with tiny trinkets and the small comforts she had been able to salvage. But it wasn’t home, it was just a place she took refuge from the ravages of the desert.

Then she took the Millennium Falcon, winging into the stars, and fell in love.

The quirky old ship had a mind of her own, but it seemed that her and Rey spoke the same language. It was a relationship of mutual respect, and Rey could never imagine anywhere else feeling quite so right as the Falcon.

“I can’t even believe this rust bucket can still break atmo, let alone keep together through hyper.”

Rey looked over the side of the Falcon’s roof, where she had been trying to boost the reach of the communications dish.

Ben was standing with his hands in his pockets, the grey jumpsuit still looking a little strange on him in comparison to the black wardrobe she had gotten so used to.

It had been a week since he defected. And he had been avoiding the Millennium Falcon at all costs.

If the comment had come from anyone else, Rey would have bristled. They may have even earned themselves a hit, or at least having something thrown at them. Instead, she tried to cut him some slack.

He was all but bubbling over with conflicted emotions, standing in the shadow of his father’s ship. She knew the old girl was tied up with a wealth of memories; not only bad ones but possibly even worse, good ones. Memories that had turned painful to be remembered, memories of a time when he was happy, when he felt loved and protected by his father. Memories that now brought up nothing but guilt and regret and grief that still felt far too raw.

“That’s my home you’re talking about,” she tried to play it off as a gentle joke, but the intensity of his gaze made her feel anything but funny.

“Do you need something?” she asked him.

“It’s twelve fifteen.”

“Kriff!” she cursed, hanging her head with her nose scrunched in annoyance at herself. She was supposed to meet him in the mess hall twenty minutes ago. “I’m such an ass, kriff, Ben, I’m sorry. I just got wrapped up with what I was doing, and-”

“I understand,” he interjected. “It’s okay.”

“No, it’s absolutely not,” she insisted, standing up and wiping her dirty hands on her own jumpsuit. It was a size too big for her, making it a bit lumpy and annoying to wear, but it did help keep her cleaner than she normally would be. “I’ll be right down.”

“You don’t-” Whatever he was going to say was interrupted by a gasp, jolting forward as Rey hopped off the roof.

She used the Force to soften her landing, and gave his startled look a little smile. “What?”

His face turned pink. “Kriff, nothing. Just...”

He shook his head and waved it off. “Nothing. You didn’t have to stop what you were doing, we can wait, if you want. I just came to check on you, I was afraid you might...”

He trailed off, but his emotions- clear as a bell over their bond, strengthened through the last year despite themselves- told her that he had been worried about her. Had thought that perhaps she had gotten hurt.

“I just lost track of time,” she assured him, stepping a little closer and rubbing his arm gently, “I’m sorry I kept you waiting.”

He nodded, his face still a little pink, and she looked back to the Falcon.

“While you’re here, would you mind helping me with something?” she tested the waters.

Ben glanced between her and the ship, swallowing and pressing his lips together in that vulnerable way of his.

“Only if you want to,” she added, rubbing his arm again, and he let out of puff of breath from between his lips.

“What is it?”

“There’s an electrical panel I can’t quite reach in the engine room, and I don’t really want to stand on a rickety box to try to reach it. I’ve been waiting for Chewie, but Leia’s kept him so busy, and you should be tall enough-”

“Why don’t you just float up to it?” he smirked, and she chortled.

“Because I can’t concentrate on hovering with the Force and repairing blown wires at the same time,” she informed him smartly. “Will you help me out or not? We can get lunch after.”

He looked at the Falcon again, and she could feel his anxiety spike before hardening into stubborn resolve.

“I’ll help.”

Rey nodded, and turned to head up the ramp.

He was slow to follow her, but she heard the heavy tread of his boots on the ramp nevertheless.

She risked a glance back at him, though she could already feel the conflicted emotions running through him. Anxiety, sadness, bitterness, nostalgia.

She slowed her steps until he caught up with her, and she reached back to take his hand.

He gave her a surprised look, and she squeezed gently with a reassuring little smile.

She was right, he could easily reach the panel that was just out of her reach, and she handed him tools and the lengths of new wire as he needed them.

“Thank you,” she said appreciatively when he was done, and he nodded.

“You, uh...” He was standing awkwardly, stiffly, and Rey raised her eyebrows. “You’ve done a really great job fixing her up, Rey.”

The compliment made her feel warm, and she pushed into his space with a smile, wrapping her arms around his waist and snuggling her head down against his chest.

This, he was never slow to respond to, and Rey sighed as he wrapped his arms around her tightly, pressing his lips to the top of her head.

“Thank you,” she murmured, and his arms squeezed a little tighter. “Thank you for helping me. I know it's hard for you to be in here.”

He sighed, rubbing his cheek against her hair distractedly.

“It’s just... a lot. I just...” he was fumbling, anxious again about the conflict he felt, and she rubbed his back soothingly.

I feel like a stranger in a ship I once thought of as home. I feel like a trespasser. The Falcon is yours, you said it yourself, she’s home to you.

His words stumbled into her head over their bond instead of out loud, remorse and longing tangled up in them painfully.

“I want her to be your home again too.” Rey pulled her head back, looking at him gently, and his mouth did that emotional press again. “Ben... I know Han would want you to have her. And I know it's complicated, and there's a lot of history wrapped up with her, but...”

Rey rubbed her hands up and down his back again. “I think we can make our own history, you know?”

Something wistful and longing ached in him, and she pressed up on her toes to place a kiss on his lips.

He angled his head down to make it easier for her, and Rey let it drag on for a few minutes, just letting him take some comfort from the intimacy.

I’ll try. For you... I’ll try.

Her heart fluttered at the bloom of affection that passed over the bond, and she pulled back a little to rub her nose against his.

“That’s all I ask, my love.”

Chapter Text

She was hurt, and he didn’t know what to do.

You shouldn’t have used the bacta on me, he thought for the millionth time. It was a completely useless thought, it didn’t change the fact that it was gone and it didn’t change the fact that she would never have let him refuse her aid.

She would pay the price for her kindness, and the injustice of it made him so blindingly angry and grief-stricken he felt sick.

She looked so utterly frail, her skin sallow and wet with sweat, the wound on her thigh a furious, infected red.

He wanted to break things, he wanted to rage and scream at the insufferable unfairness of it all, he wanted to ignite his saber and destroy his father’s stupid, useless ship from the inside out; anything, anything to combat how helpless he felt.

He did none of those things, sitting vigil by her makeshift bed instead, trying desperately to keep her cool in the oppressive heat of the jungle.

He hated this stupid planet. He hated that they had been stranded here, he hated that whatever was at work here- some trick of the Force or the planet’s electromagnetic energy or whatever- that had grounded their ships and comms was keeping him from saving the only life left to him that mattered. Possibly the only life left in the entire galaxy that seemed to care about him.

The sun was setting beyond the freight loading room doors, everything within becoming enshrouded in shadow, and she was fading along with the light. He had felt it all day, knew that their time was running out. She was not going to survive the infection. He was not going to survive her death.

He glanced at his saber, on the floor beside the door, and knew that when the moment came, he would have the strength to do it.

A universe without Rey was one he was incapable of living in.

“Don’t be so quick to welcome the sword, nephew.”

If there was one voice in the universe that was worse than the sound of a blaster bolt, it was Luke fucking Skywalker’s.

Ben’s heart was in his throat, and he nearly cracked his head on the wall when he scrambled back from the softly glowing figure on the other side of Rey’s bed.

“No,” he breathed, hating the way he was shaking already, hating that even in death, his former master filled him with fear.

“I’m here to help,” Luke tried to reassure him, his stupid, false platitude suddenly pushing Ben to see red with anger.

“I don’t want your help,” he hissed, forcing himself away from the wall, back toward Rey, back to the tendrils of her fading life. “Can’t you just give me this? Can’t you just let us die in peace?”

“That’s the point,” Luke said, voice still insufferably calm. Ben wanted to punch his stupid, ghostly teeth in. “I don’t want either of you to die. I want to help you. I want to help her.”

“Like you helped her on Ahch-To? When she came to you for guidance, when she needed someone to teach her, and you did everything you could to turn her away?”

It gave him a fierce satisfaction to see guilt on the old man’s face. “Or when you tried to help me by forcing yourself into my head and then killing me while I slept?”

Luke looked away, sorrow and regret etched into every feature, but all it did was make Ben feel angrier.

“Get the fuck away from us,” he laced his hatred into every word, his fists clenched so tight his whole hand started to ache. “Just get the fuck away.”

Luke didn’t move, turning his head slightly to look down at Rey’s fragile form, and Ben’s stomach roiled as Luke reached out his hand to brush over her head softly.

“Don’t touch her!” he spat, so desperate to get her away from the phantom touch that he lunged forward, scooping her up and pulling her into his lap with a growl, her soft moan of pain at the movement like a knife into his heart.

He arranged her as comfortably as he could, crossing his legs under her and being mindful of the wound on her leg as Luke watched on silently.

“You can heal her,” Luke murmured, and Ben refused to look at him.

“You know that I can’t,” he husked out, brushing a stray lock of sweaty hair back from Rey’s face, aching at how scorching with fever she felt. “I was always shit at healing, you know that. I couldn’t even heal a bruise, I’m not putting us both through the agony of a failed healing now.”

“You’re not the same man you were ten years ago.”

“No, I’m worse. Healing is a gift of the light. I’m not.”

“That’s not true.”

“That’s rich, coming from you,” Ben spat angrily, glaring up at Luke with a deep scowl and wishing he could choke him. “You seemed to think very differently when you were about to plunge a lightsaber into my back.”

“I’m sorry.”

His voice was so heavy with sorrow it actually made Ben pause, still glaring daggers at the softly glowing figure and his tired, mournful face.

“You’re sorry you weren’t quicker,” Ben growled, the anger and the hurt burning like an ember in his chest. “You’re sorry because the consequences of your failure to kill me when you had the chance has been the downfall of your beloved Jedi order and the New Republic.”

“No,” Luke insisted softly, staring at him in that intense, insistent way Ben hated with every fiber of his being. “I’m sorry that I failed to trust you. I’m sorry that you were struggling and I didn’t do enough to help you. I’m so sorry, Ben. Drawing my weapon...”

Where those tears in Luke’s eyes?

“...I have never been more ashamed of anything I have ever done. I was frightened and rash, and you have paid the price for my folly. I can never, ever undo that.”

“No,” Ben growled. “You can’t.”

“But she shouldn’t suffer because of my mistakes,” Luke murmured, nodding his head toward Rey. “I can guide you to heal her. You can do it, I know you can. Let me help you.”

Rey’s life was slipping away; by morning, she would be out of his reach, her life force returned to the light while his was absorbed by the darkness. Luke’s words, his promise to help Ben save Rey’s life was like a wound, growing in his chest, the edges of it raw and bleeding. He would fail. He would fail, and it would break him.

“If you fail,” Luke said softly, “the outcome will be no different. She will die, but it will not be because you gave up.”

He hated this old man. He hated him and his stupid, sage old man act. But he loved Rey, and stranded as they were, no other hope or help in sight, he had to try. His pride was not worth the cost of Rey’s life.

“Tell me what to do,” he whispered.

He could feel Luke’s relief as clearly as he could see it on his face, and his uncle nodded solemnly.

“Close your eyes, clear your mind,” Luke murmured. “The first step is always quiet.”

Ben had not meditated in the Jedi way for many years. He wasn’t sure he still remembered how, but Rey was depending on him to try.

He closed his eyes, trying to quell the fear shivering down his spine at letting his guard down around this man for even a moment; he was a ghost, an apparition through the Force, by any rational means, he could do them no harm. But the fear was there.

“Think about her,” Luke encouraged softly. “You’re doing this for her, Ben. Focus on that.”

He took deep breaths, and reached for her.

She was so weak, her life barely a candle when only a handful of days ago she had been a supernova. He was losing her, and he trembled as he bowed his head down to her chest, willing his desperate tears not to fall.

“Reach out,” Luke’s quiet voice said. “Invite it in. Don’t push, just open, and it will come to you.”

The Force, the Light.

He forced himself to breathe, just breathe, slow and deep like he had been taught so long ago.

He was afraid. Afraid that he would not be strong enough, afraid that the Light would recoil from him.

“Just open,” Luke murmured again. “Let it in.”

Open. Open. He allowed himself to follow Luke’s quiet encouragements, and felt the power inside him swell to a crescendo before breaking, and Light flooded in.

He gasped, holding Rey tighter at the flood of power that rushed in, warm and soft and without hesitation.

“Give it to her,” Luke’s command seemed to come from far away. “Find the pain in her and give it to her.”

He stoked the candle flame of life inside Rey, channeled the Light to grow it bigger and bigger, until it was flooding through them both in a deafening rush. The pain of her wound intensified, the fever burning in her blood wailing at him, and he guided the Light to quiet them both.

It was like letting water roll down his shoulders, just guiding it to pool in her, not pushing, not grasping, just showing it where to go.

“Good boy,” Luke’s voice was quiet, and Ben heard it as though he was underwater; muted, more vibration than sound.

Then there was a soft hand on his hair, real and familiar and it drew his head up with a gasp.

The Light slowly faded, its task complete, and Ben was left staring into Rey’s eyes, open for the first time in two days.

Her hand pet softly at his hair again, and he crushed her to his chest with a broken shudder of breath.

Luke was gone, and Rey was alive, her life force beating strong and fierce through the bond they shared.

“Rey,” he breathed her name in a shaky whisper, her fingers tangling in his hair as she held him back just as fiercely.

“I’m here,” she sighed softly. “I’m here.”

Chapter Text

It was something he’d always taken for granted. He grew up on Chandrila, the son of two war heroes, in a household wealthy enough to afford not one, but two service droids. Wondering where his next meal was going to come from wasn’t even a thought that crossed his mind, it was just always assumed.

His affluent upbringing had also afforded him the opportunity to try a wide assortment of foods throughout his childhood and young adult life, which was a luxury he felt he did not truly appreciate until he met Rey.

Rey, who was currently eyeing up the food-heavy table along the wall with awe and blatant longing.

“Want me to sneak you something?” he murmured low near her ear, and she angled her head toward him with a little chortle.

“Behave,” she whispered, and he pressed a kiss to her temple with a little smile.

“I am behaving. But you can’t honestly tell me you’d rather be paying attention to the rambling speech Monith is giving than digging in to the buffet table.”

“It’s an important speech,” she nudged her elbow into his abdomen lightly, “you had your chance to give one, you didn’t take it. So now we have to listen to Monith.”

“I honestly can’t determine which is worse,” he mumbled with a frown, “the idea of giving a speech or listening to this one.”

“Ben, hush,” she finally admonished, leaning back against him and drawing his arm around her waist.

He hushed, though he couldn’t keep the amused smile off his lips.

Monith’s speech dragged on, and Ben tried to ignore the looks being cast their way.

He had anticipated it, would have been surprised if people hadn’t stared, especially here, especially on this day.

Reconciliation Day, as it had been dubbed. The day, two full years ago now, that he and Rey had stared at each other across a battlefield, weapons drawn, and had found themselves completely unable to strike at each other.

It was a moment that had already started to pass into legend, with fanciful variations reaching different corners of the galaxy.

“Don’t be so surprised,” his mother had said, clearly amused when he had brought up his distaste for the exaggerations, “there were all kinds of weird legends surrounding your birth, too. You seem to be meant for dramatic myths to surround you.”

It was not much of a comfort, but as Rey pointed out, there wasn’t much they could do about it. They knew the truth of what had happened that day, the way the Force had risen inside them, spiraling out over the battlefield, stilling every soldier and machine until all was quiet. The way the Force had given them all a glimpse of the future, of the utter death and destruction of both sides, the whole galaxy ripped apart with no victor, no ruler, if they continued. Then a future that could be different, if they laid down their weapons that day, if they chose peace and unity.

Not a single weapon was fired after that, troopers and Resistance fighters alike laying down their arms as the two Force users at the center of it all came together, and a final vision, just for them. A vision of a life lived together, in unity and balance, with love and healing granted to them both.

The love part had come easily; he had loved her far before that moment, and he knew she did too. The healing was still an ongoing process, but one that they were committed to going through together.

Hence their presence at this celebration in the lavish capital on Chandrila, with the new Galactic Federation President giving his dry, formal speech while Rey thought longingly of the food table and they both pretended not to notice the stares aimed their way.

What are you thinking of trying first? he decided to ask over their connection, and she shook her head with a quiet giggle.

Shush!

I am shushed. We’re not disturbing anyone.

You’re disturbing me.

Look me in the eye and tell me that you’re not completely bored stupid by this speech.

She sighed, leaning her head back against his shoulder, and he pressed another kiss to her temple with a satisfied smirk.

Any recommendations? I don’t even know what most of that stuff is.

Start with a classic Core world snob food, Wakizan beetles.

She brought her hand up to her face, feigning an itchy nose to hide the laugh she was determined to keep silent.

Let me guess, a “delicacy” here that you utterly hate.

And that you’ll probably love. Their texture is off putting to me, but you probably won’t mind it the way I do.

What’s their texture?

Their exoskeletons make them crunchy when you first bite into them, but the heat of frying them makes their insides all gooey. Which I think is revolting.

And sounds completely delicious to me.

My point exactly.

She pressed her lips together to hide another laugh, but he could feel her abdomen shaking a little with it anyway.

Or you could play it safe with the nerf stew, he offered, if you’re not up for more adventurous eating today.

Are you kidding? How long now have you known me? When am I not up for adventurous eating?

There’s a first time for everything.

Well, today is not that day.

It was his turn to hide a laugh, pressing his face into her hair and squeezing his arm around her.

I love you, was all he could think to say, the feeling of it engulfing him as he breathed in the sweet smell of her hair and drank in the heat of her body pressed against his.

The feeling was immediately reciprocated, her love washing over him like sinking into a warm bath.

I love you too.

The sound of applause drew them out of their silent conversation, and Rey clapped politely as Ben pressed another kiss to her hair.

Think we can get away with only an hour more of socializing before making our escape? he asked hopefully, and she allowed herself to laugh as she stepped to his side, sliding her arm around his waist.

“I think your mother may strangle us,” she murmured with a little smirk, and he shrugged one shoulder passively.

“Let’s be honest,” he said softly back, “no one here actually wants to speak to me. I’ve made my obligatory appearance for the holos, they have more than enough images of us being diplomatic together, they won’t miss me now that the public image nonsense is over.”

“And I should banish myself from this very nice party with you, should I?” she asked with raised eyebrows, but there was a smirk in the corner of her mouth.

“I can think of a few ways to make it worth your while,” he said with casual innocence, though the mental image he sent her of licking forest-honey off her neck was anything but.

Her face went adorably pink, and she gave him a little grin.

“Food and socializing for an hour,” she promised quietly, “then forest-honey. I promise.”

“I love you,” he murmured with delight, and she smirked.

“Love you too.”

And really, he couldn’t complain, when “food and socializing for an hour” somehow became various diplomats convincing her to taste the delicacies they had brought from their homeworlds.

Rey tried them all with enthusiasm, and seemed to genuinely enjoy every one, even the Wakizan beetles. It was one of his favorite things about her, if he was being honest; her zeal for new experiences that reminded him that there was still joy to be found, despite the things they had gone through.

He let her enjoy it, despite his desire to steal her away all for himself.

It’s been over two hours, I’m surprised you aren’t carrying me out of here over your shoulder.

Her voice in his head drew him out of his reverie. He blinked, turning to focus on her instead of the vacant staring out the window he had been doing as the buzz of people flowed around them.

You’re enjoying yourself, he offered simply.

There was a warm rush of affection through their bond, her face softening into something so gentle it made his throat feel thick.

She stepped a little closer, rising up on her toes to press a kiss to his lips, and he bowed his head to meet her eagerly.

You taste sweet, he commented, making her grin against his mouth.

“That would be the bluefruit jam,” she she giggled, holding up her little plate of soft bread and assortment of spreads, “it’s quite good. Want some?”

She scraped a little bit of the vibrant blue jam onto a piece of bread, offering it up to him with a little smile. Without hesitation, he ducked his head to take it from her, laving his tongue teasingly at the pads of her fingers as he drew the sweet snack into his mouth.

“Shameless,” she whispered with a little smirk and shake of her head, taking her hand back as he chewed.

“You’re right, it is good,” he commented innocently, making her smile wider. “What else do you have there?”

She knew what he was doing, but she seemed interested in indulging him instead of trying to make him behave himself.

“Roseberry jam, saltnut butter, and forest-honey,” she informed him, pointing to each, “though I’ve been told to be careful not to mix the bluefruit jam with the saltnut butter, apparently the combination is completely revolting.”

“It is,” he scrunched his nose up, “I made the mistake of taking on dare involving that combination as a child. It was... not pretty, to say the least.”

She laughed, picking up another piece of bread and this time dipping it into the pink roseberry jam. “Somehow that story does not surprise me.”

“How so?” he asked as she offered the bread to him again, and again she allowed him to eat it from her fingers.

“Because I know you,” she murmured with a smirk, bringing her fingers to her own mouth to lick at a bit of roseberry jam he had missed, “and the fact that you were too prideful even as a kid to turn down a challenge is very in line with the man you are now.”

It was frustratingly true, he couldn’t deny, and she held the plate out of the way as she pushed up on her toes again to kiss him.

“I’m working on it,” he mumbled against her lips, and she pressed another little kiss there with a hum.

“I know,” she whispered, pulling back again and looking at him fondly, “you’ve come a long way since Takodana.”

Takodana; it felt like a lifetime ago, the first time he had laid eyes on her.

She dipped a piece of bread into the saltnut butter and popped it into her mouth before doing it again with a second piece so she could offer it to him.

The change from the sweetness of the roseberry jam to the salty bite of the saltnut was a little jarring on his taste buds, but not unpleasant, and he hummed in satisfaction. Then it was back to sweet, the golden forest-honey dripping onto her finger as she brought the bread to his mouth.

He raised his hand to grip her wrist lightly, keeping her still as he took her finger into his mouth as well, sucking the sticky spread from her skin.

You make it taste even better, he sent, and her lips parted as a blush spread across her cheeks, and I do believe you promised me.

He recalled the image he had sent her earlier, of licking the forest-honey off her neck, and she gave a soft moan as desire bloomed across their connection.

I did, didn’t I? she acknowledged as he let her finger slip from his mouth. We should get a bit more for the road then, shouldn’t we?

He smiled, dipping his head down to kiss her, and Rey smirked happily against his lips.

I love you.

I love you too.