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What the Water Gave Me

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Rey, raised in the harsh deserts of Jakku, has always known thirst. It wasn’t until she joined the resistance that she had access to enough water to truly be satisfied. In the Resistance, water was unrationed. People drank until they were satiated. Even when rations were low, Rey was given more water than she had even had in her life.

The first time Finn sees her rationing her water, carefully monitoring how much she has left in her flask, he asks what she’s doing.

“Just in case we can’t find more later,” she says.

“Rey, we have plenty of water. We wouldn’t run out of something so important,” he says. He says it like he’s never had to worry about where his next drink would come from, like he’s never been worried he would die from thirst. That makes her feel strange. Even Finn, who had spent a lifetime in the ranks of the First Order, never had to worry about having enough water.

She chuckles, nods. “Okay,” she says. But still, she carefully rations each drink she takes. Old habits are hard to break.

 

She used to cry, left alone in the desert. When she was young, she cried for her parents, desperate to believe that they would return for her. Tears helped her for a time, but she felt so dehydrated after she cried, and water was just too precious a resource to waste. Her tears fell less and less, turned to hard survival instinct, and only made their way out when she was too emotional to stop them.

The Resistance has just regrouped, taken stock of the dead. She didn’t know most of the people, but that does not stop her now from crying for them. So many lives were lost, ships vaporized so close to D’Quar, so close to safety. A small funeral is held for those lost. She begins crying somewhere during the list of names of the dead. She is sandwiched between Finn and Poe, squeezing their hands. When the service is over, she runs towards her room, slams the door closed with the force. She sits on the floor, her back leaning against her bed.

She feels a pull from the force in the back of her mind, and she looks up to see Kylo Ren. He is sitting on the side of her bed, feet planted on the floor a few inches away from her.

“Go away,” she chokes out, pulling her legs into her chest and resting her forehead on her knees.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know how. The force seems to do whatever it wants.” His voice is hard, his emotions though the bond guarded.

“I hate you,” she says.

“If you hated me, I doubt the force would have brought us together,” he says. She knows he’s right. She doesn’t hate anyone, least of all him, even after all that he’s done.

“You’re trying to kill us,” she sobs. “You’re trying to kill us, and I still can’t hate you. What does that say about me? I still care about a monster.” A sob stops her from talking anymore, and she presses her hands to her face.

He is silent for a minute before speaking. “Rey,” he says softly. “We’re not after you. You’re safe.”

She starts at the word safe. “Why would I believe you?”

“I promise,” he says. The bond is wide open. He’s trying to keep his emotions in check, but she can feel them anyway. Her own emotions are running high, but she can still feel his sincerity, his loss, his longing, his sorrow. His loneliness.

“Thank you,” she says. She looks up at him, sniffles, moves up to sit beside him on her bed. They’re so close she can feel the heat from his body.

“You’re mired in the light, Rey,” he says.

She shifts closer, and he stiffens when her arm brushes against his. She looks up at him. His eyes are boring into her with the intensity of the Jakku sun.

“You’re still not alone,” she says.

“Neither are you,” he whispers. She leans her head on his shoulder. After a moment, he leans his head down, resting it on top of hers. She grabs his right hand, pulling it into her lap. She tugs off his glove, interlaces her fingers through his. The bond opens wider at this, and she can feel every one of his emotions sliding through her mind. He squeezes her hand.

They stay still for a long time, listening to each other’s breaths in silence.

Eventually, he fades out of her room, his presence becoming fainter second by second. His physical body disappears first, then the presence of his mind vanishes entirely. She is left alone on her bed, thinking of the warmth of his body and his unexpected gentleness.

*

A week passes before he appears again.

Rey is in bed, almost asleep, when she feels the tug of the force bond. Kylo fades into existence next to her, his weight dipping the mattress so she slides closer to him. His head rests on her pillow, so close she can feel his breath on her face.

“Rey?” he says sleepily. His hair is damp, a wet spot on her pillow growing larger each second. He smells like soap, a spicy scent that stirs something deep within her. She wants to smell it every night.

A drop of water slides down his face, arcing down his cheek and towards his lips. Her thumb reaches up to wipe it away, her finger lingering on his skin. His face is so close to hers and his eyes are gentle in his tired state. She leans towards him, pressing her lips to his. Her eyes flutter closed. His lips are soft, parting gently against hers.

The kiss is quick. She pulls away and his lips lift upwards at the corners. This is the first time she has hever seen him smile. The hard angles of his face soften, and in this moment he is Ben Solo. She cups his cheek and pulls him into another kiss. This one is slow, lingering. She slides her tongue over his teeth, and he tastes like toothpaste. She pulls away, situating her head on the pillow next to his.

“Goodnight,” she whispers.

“Goodnight, Cyar’ika,” he whispers back.

She wakes up in the morning pressed into his chest, his arms wrapped around her waist.

*

She’s unwrapping her wet hair from a towel when he appears again.

He’s sitting in a chair, pen in hand, the desk in front of him cluttered with papers and maps. He looks up at her.

“Rey.”

“Kylo.” She folds the towel on her bed and starts to run her fingers through her hair, removing the tangles.

He’s staring at her, he eyes following every movement of her hands. She stills, looking at him questioningly.  

“What?” she asks.

“I’ve never seen your hair down before,” he says.

“Oh,” she sounds, continuing to work the knots out of her hair.

“It’s longer than I thought,” he says, sliding from his chair to stand and lean against his desk.

She hums noncommittedly. “I never really have time to cut it.” She walks to sit on her bed. “I’m tired,” she yawns.

“It is fairly late,” he concedes.

“Come to bed with me.”

He nods, stepping closer towards her.

She wrinkles her nose. “Take your shirt off. Your clothes are so scratchy,” she says.

He complies, dropping his shirt carelessly on the floor as she slides under the covers. He gets in next to her, reaching out to wrap his arms around her.

“What does a Supreme Leader do in his free time?” she says when she’s situated against his chest.

He stiffens. “What do you mean?” It’s clear the subject of his current power is sensitive. She senses reluctance through the bond, intertwined with regret.

“I mean, what do you like to do? What would you do if you had the time?”

He sighs, relaxes against her. “Read. Look at the stars.”

“What do you read?”

“Novels mostly. Whatever I can get my hands on,” he says.

“I wish I was better at reading,” she says softly.

“You can’t read?”

“Of course I can read.” She pauses. “Well, at least Galactic Basic. I can speak some other languages, but I never learned to read them. I wish I could.” She pauses again. “I’m going to learn more one day,” she says with finality.

This begins their nightly conversations, started when they’re in bed in each other’s arms. Rey learns more about this man than she knows about anyone else. He’s sweet, almost affectionate when he’s half asleep. He often pauses to kiss her temple or brush her hair away from her face. She likes him the way. His gentle touches make her feel safe, loved. Sometimes he falls asleep first, drifting off mid-sentence as she runs her fingers through his hair. His hair is so soft, and he sighs happily whenever she plays with it. Sometimes she falls asleep first, lulled by the low vibration of his voice as she rests her head against his chest.

He makes her feel at home, like she has found a place in the galaxy where she belongs.

*

Rey thinks the force must have a warped sense of humor. She sits down to meditate, and a familiar feeling washes over her. When she opens her eyes, she’s in what she assumes is Kylo’s room, sitting on his desk. He is standing a few feet in front of her, shirt halfway off. He pulls it over his head and throws it to the ground. She can hear a ‘fresher running in the background. He still hasn’t noticed her. She clears her throat when he starts to reach for his pants, cheeks turning pink. He whirls towards her in surprise, eyes wild. He relaxes when he registers her.

This is the second time she’s seen him without a shirt. He had been more covered up when she had seen him on Ahch-2. This time, his pants are slung low on his hips and she can see all the muscles of his stomach, the tuft of hair that disappears into his waistband. His hair is wild around his face, and his feet are bare. He must have just woken up.

He notices her staring. He raises an eyebrow. She wrenches her gaze away and looks around his room. “The force seems to bring us together at peculiar times,” he says softly.

Rey raises an eyebrow. “Don’t stop on my account.” It’s Kylo’s turn to blush, his ears turning pink.

“You want me to undress in front of you? Scandalous, Rey.” There’s a lightness to his voice. She’s never seen him joke this way before. Rey flushes, and a giggle escapes her.

“That’s not what I meant!” The corners of Kylo’s mouth twitch upwards, and he starts towards the ‘fresher. Rey flushes a deeper shade of red.

“I’m expecting you to be gone when I get out, scavenger,” he says over his shoulder. He steps into the bathroom. Rey hears the door click shut behind him.

Rey tries to leave, she really does. But she doesn’t know how their force bond works, can’t make herself appear and disappear at will. She supposes she’ll disappear sometime before he comes out of the ‘fresher. He’s been in there for ages, and she doesn’t know what is taking him so kriffing long. She’s always showered quickly, water scarce resource on Jakku.

The reality of the situation hits her out of the blue and causes her to giggle. She’s thinking about Kylo Ren in the shower. A stray thought wipes the smile off her face.

What if- she stands up before she can lose her nerve. She walks toward the ‘fresher door and hopes against hope that it will be locked. It isn’t. She pushes it open without any effort, steps inside, and closes the door behind her.

Stars, he’s beautiful. His back is turned towards her as he scrubs shampoo through his hair. Her eyes trace the movement of the muscles in his back. His arms are a force of nature, thickly muscled and riddled with scars. The ‘fresher is surprisingly large, nearly the size of a room. His current status as Supreme Leader has its perks, she supposes.

He finally turns toward her to rinse the bubbles from his hair, eyes closed. Even through the hazy steam from the hot water, she can see every scar, stark white against his skin, flushed pink from the heat of the water. She wants to run her tongue down every one of them. Her eyes travel farther his body to the tuft of black hair between his thighs, and his penis- oh. Oh. It’s very large. She doesn’t know what she expected. Kylo is a large man, startlingly tall and broad.

Kylo, she sends down the bond, and his eyes snap open. Their eyes lock. He doesn’t move. He’s holding a bar of soap in one hand and he looks so damn surprised, she would have laughed if she could catch her breath. She reaches for the hem of her shirt.

His eyes follow her every move as she pulls off first her shirt, then her leggings, then her arm wraps. She slowly unwinds her breast band, and he gasps as she lets it fall to the floor. She shimmies out of her underwear, and then she’s standing naked before him. She can feel a blush creeping up her cheeks. He’s staring at her so intensely she thinks he might burst.

She opens the door to the ‘fresher, steps in next to him, and his lips are on hers.

Every nerve ending of her body is alight as he pulls her close. He can’t seem to decide where to put his hands. They travel down her back to cup her ass, then up to cup her breasts. His thumbs graze over her nipples and a moan escapes her mouth. His hands move up to her hair, half wet from the water spray. She feels a series of tugs, and then her hair is around her shoulders, sticking to her damp skin. The bond is blown wide open. They’re caught in an endless loop of arousal. Beautiful, he thinks. Then he’s lifting her up, hands around her thighs. The spray from the ‘fresher washes over both of them, soaking her completely. Her head’s slightly above his now, and she can smell the shampoo in his hair. Her eyes flicker closed as he sucks and bites his way down her neck, ducking his head to swirl his tongue around one of her nipples. The sounds she’s making are loud, echoing off the tiled walls. She is embarrassed at the volume, but this feels so kriffing good. She rakes her nails down his back. Gods, Rey. His thoughts are all over the place. She his feet slide against the soapy floor, and he lets go of one of her thighs, pressing his hand against the wall to steady them.  

We’re going to fall, she sends to him. Sit she demands. What? He’s confused, but he doesn’t stop kissing her for even a moment. Sit she thinks again. Trust me.

He complies, not letting her go as he steps back until his back is resting against the wall of the fresher. They’re farther out of the spray now. She meets his lips with his as he slides down the wall until he’s sitting on the floor, legs splayed out in front of him.

Her legs kneel on either side of his and she grinds herself against him. Their bodies are slick and slippery for the water, and neither of them have ever done anything like this before. He positions his cock at her entrance and she sinks fully down onto his length. Her eyes meet his. His gaze is intense but she meets it, holds it as she uses her hands on his shoulders for leverage to lift her body up. He slides mostly out of her, then she releases her hips down again. She continues, staring at him as she moves up and down. He is slack jawed, hands moving over her ass and thighs and she moves. She rolls her hips experimentally.

Another moan is wrenched from her, and it’s like a dam breaking.

“Oh fuck,” she says. Her voice echoes around the room. Kylo moans, deep and dark, as his hands dig bruises into her hips. His hips buck up towards hers as she slams down on him again. Her eyes drift closed as they pick up speed.

They’re messy and ill timed, but this is perfection, this is pure bliss. They soon find a rhythm, bodies moving completely in sync. She never wants this moment to end, fucking herself on his cock as the warm water from the ‘fresher sprays over their bodies.

Later, when they have dried off, they curl together in Kylo’s bed. His mattress feels like a cloud, the sheets smooth against her skin. Her head is pillowed on his chest, and he runs his fingers gently up and down her back. The gentle rise and fall of his breaths lulls her to sleep.

*

Rey has never seen this much water in her life. Mazor is a water filled planet, blue from space and even more blue and overwhelming on its surface. Rey can taste the salt in the air.

The resistance had come to Mazor to hide, to beg for help. It was Poe’s idea.

“Mazor sympathized with the rebellion, why wouldn’t they help us?” Poe had said in a meeting with the Resistance leaders.

Finn had nodded. “If the First Order knows where we are, we’re not safe.”

Rey had nodded along and chewed on her lip, unable to say anything about Kylo’s earlier promise that the Resistance was indeed safe.

Leia had agreed. “They sympathized with us before, and they will again.” All the remaining Resistance members left D’Quar. They had sent out a comm when they got close to Mazor, with Leia’s voice asking for asylum.   

After a video comm from the Marian high counsel, some strong words from Leia, and lots of negotiations, the last of the Resistance was settled on Mazor for the time being.

They are staying in old army quarters. The Resistance is so small, they are nowhere near filling all the rooms. Rey had her own room, more room than she’s ever had to herself in her life. The room is built for 4 people. There are 2 bunk beds, and a bathroom attached.

She explores the whole base with Poe and Finn, a thrill of excitement running through her whenever she looks out a window. The vast expanse of the ocean is visible in the distance in every direction.

After dinner, she slips out on her own. She heads towards the ocean, walking until the grass turns to sand. She walks until she stands fully on the beach, by the water’s edge. She takes her shoes off, digs her toes in the sand. It’s soft and white against her toes, so different from the harsh, stinging yellow sand on Jakku. She rolls up her pants, walks into the water until it reaches her knees. She stares out into the endless blue of the ocean, gentle breeze ruffling a few loose strands of her hair.

She soon feels the familiar tug of the force bond in her mind.

Kylo appears beside her, standing knee deep in the water. He looks down, moves his legs experimentally.

“Rey, why am I wet?”

She giggles. “We’re standing in an ocean.”

“Interesting,” he says. She wades closer to him, grabs his hand interlaces his fingers with hers.

“I saw people swimming earlier,” she says. “Can you swim?”

He nods. “You can’t, can you?”

She shakes her head. “I’ve never been around enough water to swim in before now.”

She turns out to stare at the gentle waves. She can feel his stare on her. When he speaks, she just barely hears him. “I can teach you,” he whispers. She whips towards him, a smile on her face.

“Yes! Yes,” she says. She moves a little deeper into the water.

“We don’t have swimsuits,” he says.

She pauses for a beat, then reaches for the hem of her shirt, lifting it over her head.

“Rey,” Kylo chokes out.

“What?” she says, heat rushing to her cheeks. “It’s true, neither of us have swimsuits.”

“I… you’re right.” There’s a blush creeping up his neck, bright against his usual black clothes. Rey heads towards the shore.

“Don’t be shy now,” she says over her shoulder. “It’s not anything you haven’t seen before.”

He blushes even darker at that.

“C’mon. We have to put them somewhere dry,” she says over her shoulder. They fold their clothes on the shore, placing them carefully on top of the sand. Rey keeps her breast band, underwear, and arm wraps only, never having been particularly shy. Kylo sheds his cape, shirt, gloves, and arm covers. He takes off his boots last, frowning as he dumps water from them. He keeps his pants on. She feels is nervousness through the bond. They wade back into the water, deeper this time. The water laps at Rey’s waist.

“Now what?” she asks.

“I could teach you how to float on your back,” he says. “That’s probably the easiest.” She nods.

“How do I do that?” she asks.

“Like this,” he says, leaning back into the water. Their bond creeps farther open. He transmits his body movements, how to hold herself so her face stays above the water. She studies him. His face is softer this way. His lips are gently parted, his eyes unfocused as he looks up towards the sky.

He stands upright again. “You try.”

“Okay,” she says, leaning back, letting her feet drift away from the sand. Her toes poke above the water, the water lapping at her cheeks.

“You’re doing it,” Kylo says, pride in his voice. She smiles, losing her concentration. Then her head dips fully below the water and she is sinking, the water is drawing her in, she can’t-

“I’ve got you,” he says, hands supporting her back, keeping her afloat.

“Thank you,” she says, smiling up at him.

Her eyes drift closed. She feels so peaceful here. Through the bond, she can fell happiness rolling off him in waves. She smiles. If only she could stay here forever, the waves lapping at her skin, the gentle rush of the ocean in her ears, and the hands of the man she loves on her back.

Love?

Her eyes snap open. Her thoughts were not at quiet as she thought they were. Kylo is staring down at her. He leans closer, his hair falling down to tickle her face. His lips meet hers, and her eyes flutter closed.

I love you too, he says through the bond as their lips move together.

When their fingers are pruned, they climb out of the ocean. They use their discarded clothes as makeshift blankets. Rey pulls his cloak over her legs, shivering from the slight chill as her skin dries.

“Why do you always wear a cloak?” she asks him.

He shrugs. “I don’t know. Vader wore one, so I do too.”

She snorts. “I see where you get your melodrama from.”

He chuckles and wraps his arm around her, squeezing her shoulders, pulling her closer to him. She slides between his legs, leaning her back against his chest. He wraps his arms around her waist, and she twines her fingers with his.

“The stars are so beautiful here,” she says. She feels him nod behind her.

“I used to look at the stars for hours,” he says. “I would memorize all the constellations.”

His voice drops to a whisper. “It made me feel less alone, to think that there was something out there, always with me, always watching over me.”

She brings his hand up to her mouth, placing a kiss on his palm. “You have me now,” she says. He hums in contentment, leaning down to kiss her shoulder.

She doesn’t mean to fall asleep, but the sounds of the ocean are so soothing and Kylo is so warm. Who knew the Supreme Leader could be so comfortable?

She wakes up to the gentle light of dawn. Oh, kriff. Someone would likely come looking for her soon. Kylo is under her. She’s settled between his legs, head turned into his chest. She pushes up to a seat, his arms sliding farther down her waist. They are covered head to toe in sand.

“Ben,” she says. “Wake up.” He mumbles something, his arms tightening around her.

“Ben,” she says again. “We fell asleep.” She reaches down to push his sandy hair away from his face. He opens his eyes.

He grimaces at the feel of the sand. They stand up and shake themselves off as best they can. He holds his arms out to Rey and she steps into them, wrapping her arms around him. She kisses him, soft and slow, and then she heads back to base, leaving him standing on the beach. She can feel his eyes on her as he leaves.

*

Rey has just stepped out of the shower the next time Kylo appears. She finishes pulling the towel around herself as he turns his eyes towards the ceiling in surprise. His ears begin to turn pink, and Rey laughs.

She walks into her room, Kylo trailing behind her.

“I don’t understand why the force decides to bring us together like this,” he says. She can feel the rush of embarrassment through the bond. She’s never been shy about nudity, used to the crowded ‘fresher outposts on Jakku, packed with people and with little not no privacy.  She would take cleanliness over modesty any day. Besides, Kylo has already seen her nude, touched her in places no one else had before. She grabs a shirt discarded earlier on her bed, letting her towel fall as she pulls it over her head. He makes a choking sound behind her, and she turns around to find his face bright pink.

“Don’t tell me you get flustered that easily,” she says.

She picks up her discarded towel and wraps it around her hair. He sighs, flopping onto the lower bed on the bunk opposite hers.

She smirks. “Supreme leader isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?”

“If I have to listen to Hux lecture me about anything else, I may beg him to kill me to put me out of my misery,” he says as his lips twitch upward into a smile.

She laughs. “That’s how he tortures people. He bores them to death.” He snorts in response. Rey sits on her bed and picks up her holopad, and they lapse into a comfortable silence.

The first time he sighs, Rey just glances at him. He eyes are closed, and he is lying down on the bed, legs crossed. The second time it’s louder, and she glares at him, sending a spike of annoyance through the bond.

The third time, she reaches over and slaps his knee. “Stop sighing. You’re the most overdramatic person I’ve ever met.”

“I’m not overdramatic,” he says with a pout.

She raises an eyebrow. “You’re not overdramatic? Mister I wear black all the time and pout constantly.”

“I don’t pout constantly,” he says, pouting.

“You’re doing it right now,” she says, pointing her finger at him. “Come on,” she says, walking over to her desk. “Let’s play cards. Poe taught me how to play pazaak yesterday.” She grins. “Bet I can beat you.”

He stands up, swinging his legs onto the floor with a thump. “You wish, scavenger.”

They drag the mattresses off the top two bunks, pushing them together on the floor of her room. They sit cross legged across from one another. He wins by a mile.

“I swear, you cheated,” she says, laughing. “Another round?”

“I didn’t cheat. Your face is just too expressive.”

She sticks her tongue out at him, and he laughs, leaning forward to kiss her.

*

Rey is dead tired. She trained with Finn for the bulk of the afternoon, practicing until both of them were so tired they could barely block blows. She’s still panting when she reaches her room, covered in sweat. She shucks her shirt off and collapses on her bed, closing her eyes. She lies there for a minute, catching her breath. Then, she feels the force bond snap into place.

“I’m too tired to deal with anyone right now,” she says.

“We have the same sentiments, then,” he replies, half panting.  

“Good.” She pauses. “Why are you breathing like that?”

“Just finished training.”

She sits up to look at him, and her breath stutters in her chest. He is shirtless, sweat dripping down his back. He turns to face her, running a hand through his hair.

Her cheeks flush. “Why are you never wearing a shirt?” she asks.

He sighs. “That’s only happened once.”

Rey doesn’t know where to rest her eyes. He walks closer, arm extended. He for something in his room that she can’t see. A towel appears in his hand, and he wipes it over his face.

She’s never seen him like this before. She can smell the musky scent of his sweat, mixed with something spicy and undeniably him. He’s staring at her now, the hot thread of desire running through their bond. He takes a step closer.

“Rey,” he says. And the sound of her name falling from his lips ignites something inside her. She stands up, closing the distance between them, and smashes her lips to his.

She runs her tongue over his lip and his tongue snakes out to meet hers. She slides her fingers into his hair, still damp with sweat. His hands grab her hips, pulling her body flush with his. She grinds her hips against his and he responds in kind. Her moans are muffled by his mouth. His hands snake down to grab her ass, half lifting her off the ground he presses hard against her.

She pulls away, gasping for breath. She angles her head to rest her forehead against his chest. His arms tighten around her, and she can feel the quick pace of his heart.

“Shower with me,” she says. His lips drift down to suck at her collarbone. She moans when he hits an especially pleasurable spot on her neck.

“Is that a yes?” she pants.

Yes, he says through the bond, his lips never leaving her neck.

They shed their clothes on the short trip to the ‘fresher in her room. Rey drops to her knees before they step under the water.

A spike of surprise hits her through Kylo’s end of the bond, soon replaced with pleasure when her lips close around his cock. His hands twine in her hair as she sucks, the bond an endless loop of pleasure.

Rey sucks him harder when he cums, her throat bobbing as she swallows. Kylo pulls her up to stand, nearly pushing her into the ‘fresher. She sighs when the hot water hits her back. Then he’s lifting her up, her back sliding against the cold tile of the ‘fresher as he hooks her legs over his shoulders. When he puts his mouth on her, her back arches off the wall. He is marvelous with is tongue, swirling and sucking on her clit and between her folds. Her hands tug on his hair, nearly ripping it out at the roots as she cums.

He lowers her down when she is still, and she leans into his chest, humming contently. Turn around, he says through the bond. She does, and his hands reach up her back, and he rubs the kinks out of her shoulders and back. She turns around, stepping close to him again. She wraps her arms around his waist and leans her head back against his chest. Don’t stop, she says through the bond. He chuckles, the sound reverberating through his chest.

Why are you so good with your hands, she thinks, sighing as he works a particularly stubborn knot out of her upper back.

Just for you, Cyar’ika, he thinks back.

When all the knots have been worked out of her back, she reaches for the soap. Your turn, she tells him. He turns around, and she squirts liquid soap into her hand, rubbing it over his back. His sigh echoes around the ‘fresher as her nimble fingers work their way up and down his back.

After they step out of the shower and get dressed, they settle on the floor, and Rey beats him at pazaak.

*

She comes to need his touch, crave it like she craved water in the desert. They sleep together every night, their limbs entwined so tightly she can barely tell where she ends and he begins. Slowly, the remnants of Ben Solo are pulled forward. They come out in his smiles, more and more frequent as they spend time together. In his laughter and unexpected humor, and in the lingering glances he gives her when he thinks she’s not looking. In his care for her, his gentle touches and caresses.

*

Rey is sitting on her bed, playing solitaire on a holopad, when she feels the familiar tug of the force bond.  

A spike of distress hits her, so strong that she gasps. She sits up, dropping her holopad. A moment later, Kylo appears. He’s soaking wet, covered in mud and blood and grime. She can feel distress rolling off of him in waves. She reaches up, taking his face in her hands, bringing his forehead down to rest against hers.

“What’s wrong?” she says.

“Rey,” he says, his voice cracking. “I can’t do this anymore. The bloodshed, the death, I can’t.” His voice breaks. He closes his eyes. “I’m so tired, Rey.”

His legs give out then, and he slides down to the floor, pulling Rey with him. She slides into his lap, leaning fully into him. Whatever filth is on him transfers to her, but she doesn’t care. She wraps her arms around his neck.

His thoughts are spiraling out of control, jumping from one thing to another. She picks out broken scenes from the jumble of his thoughts. A frozen wasteland. A revolt within the Stormtrooper ranks. The sound and of his lightsaber cutting through bodies. The scent of blood in the air. Kylo struggling to hold his thoughts together as he addresses First Order generals. His shaking hands as heh walks back to his rooms alone. The ache of loneliness as he reaches out to her through the force.

She’s crying now, tears dripping into his hair as she wraps herself more tightly around him.

She takes his distress, his rage, his hopelessness, and fills it with comfort, letting him know that he’s not alone, that he will be alright.

“I’ll never leave you alone,” she whispers as he buries his face into her neck, squeezing her so tightly that she can barely breathe. They stay that way until his thoughts have stopped swirling, and Rey has filled his mind completely with comfort and love.

“Thank you, Rey,” he whispers.

She kisses his cheek and pulls him up to standing. “Come on,” she says. “We’re covered in mud.”

He peels his clothes off and they stumble towards the ‘fresher. She never lets go of him, and he holds onto her like he’s a man drowning and she’s a breath of fresh air.

They stand under the spray, letting the water rinse the dirt and grime away. They stumble into bed, still damp, not bothering to get dressed again.

She smoothes her fingers over his face. Her heart breaks for him. “You’re not alone,” she says.

“Neither are you,” he chokes out, tears falling from his eyes.

He falls asleep with his nose pressed into the crook of her neck, his face still wet with tears.

*

He comes to her a month later.

She is sitting with Finn and Poe, eating breakfast, when she feels his presence. She starts, spilling her glass of water on the table.

“What’s wrong, Rey?” Poe asks.

“I...” she starts. The bond opens fully then.

Rey? Kylo says though their connection.

“I have to go,” Rey says to Finn and Poe, hurrying away.

She speeds through the halls, breaking into a full run when she reaches the outside doors. She follows their bond and it leads her to the beach, near the spot where he taught her to swim. There is a small, unmarked ship sitting on the sand. He’s standing in front of it, looking out over the water. He turns towards her as she approaches, face breaking into a tentative smile.

She jumps on him when she reaches him. He catches her and their lips crash together.

“You came to me,” she says.

“I’m sorry I showed up without warning,” he says. She kisses him again.

“You’re here,” she says. He feels even better in person, more solid and somehow even more warm.  

“Come back to base with me,” she says. “You can see my room in person.”

He hesitates. There is a spike of fear through the bond. He came here without a plan, Rey realizes. She entwines her fingers with his.

He looks up at her. “I don’t know what to do, Rey,” he says.

“Come back with me,” she says. “Come back, and we can figure it out. Together.”

He squeezes her hand. “Are you sure? People will hate you if you come back with me.”

“I won’t let them hurt you,” she says. “Though I can’t promise that people will welcome you with open arms.”

He nods slowly.  

She stretches up to kiss him again.

They head back to the Resistance base hand in hand, their bond filled with happiness.