Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Souls are Itchy
"When flesh meets flame;
at the breaking of the mortal.
The Key, encased in soul and fire
to finish what was started.
The Dark Lord will be set free again,
and all will be consumed."
- The Book of Shadows
Leia felt herself begin to sink into the snow, numbness biting against the skin of her feet. She couldn’t stop for long, there was no time, but her lungs felt like they were on fire, the freezing air somehow burning a path down her throat. She pressed herself flat against the stone wall. She could hear angry shouting in the distance. She closed her eyes and she could see their drawn swords and the flaming torches close at hand. The Romani had never been in good standing with the local authorities, and she, less than any. Too rebellious, too uppity and too curious. She was always one step ahead of them, unafraid of their feeble attempts to catch her and her people in some dreadful heresy. But she was not laughing now. Now she was terrified. There had never been so much on the line before.
She held tighter to the bundle in her arms muttering as quietly as she could.
She looked up again at the frost-covered road that cut through the small village. She wasn’t far. She could do this. She continued to slink along the side of the homes and shops, knowing that should they see her, she would never be able to outrun them.
She exhaled slowly, the white puff of air momentarily ghosting her vision. She had not thought that the word would get out so quickly, rumors had always circled around her and her family, but this was the first time they had closed in on her to the point of a sword. Leia looked up into the night sky; behind the haze of frost, the stars almost looked like crystals.
Leia peeked around one of the shops and across the road. She could see it from here. All she had to do was make it to the distinctly marked red and black door. It held her salvation, her one hope of being able to save him. She gave the bundle in her arms a little bob, securing it against her breast. She closed her eyes and said a prayer to any god who cared to listen to a desperate young woman.
She breathed in once more and then took off at a sprint, her feet slapping against the cold, wet snow. She could hear horses in the distance, she could all but feel the heat from their torches, hungry to consume her and burn away her sins. Her eyes were shut but she didn't' stop moving until threw herself against the door and flung it open. She slammed it shut behind, as though it were an impenetrable wall of stone.
Her eyes remained squeezed shut, as she pressed her back into the door, attempting to get her bearing. She looked around the shop, completely empty and dark and then back at the infant in her arms, who was now beginning to wiggle against the blanket wrapped tightly around him.
“Shhh,” she cooed, pressing a kiss to the full head of thick black hair. “Ssh…It’s all right Benjamin.”
Ben’s eyes didn’t open, but his chubby arms stretched out from the blanket, his hands closed into tiny fists. Leia couldn’t help but smile down at the child. Only 4 months old but still so full of personality and power…like his father. He looked at her with eyes, both new and ancient, as though the universe was gathered there. Leia’s heart constricted at the thought of her lost love and now…Leia shook her head and slowly stood.
No time for self-pity.
Leia slowly crossed the room, toward the green rug. She had been told what to do back when the arrangements were made. She rolled the rug back and pulled up on the basement door.
Leia knew she couldn’t turn back now. She would have waited if she could, soaking in every moment with Ben. She knew she had likely waited much longer than she should have, but the thought of parting with him was devastating. But now she knew what she had to do. She had to protect him. With a creak she lifted the door, releasing a wave of billowing green smoke from the basement. Leia descended the steps slowly.
“Mother Talzin,” she called.
Leia squinted through the haze of green and saw Mother Talzin’s distinct silhouette in the darkness, clothed in her signature headdress. She was hard to miss, after all, a local legend shrouded in mystery and magic, vilified by the religious leaders, but she moved in freedom, to fierce and powerful to be touched.
“My dear,” she said. “I am so glad that you could make it.”
“Yes,” said Leia. “It was close.”
Talzin slowly turned. Leia was powerful in her own right and had even been invited to join the Nightsisters coven, but Talzin was still intimidating her none the less. Talzin glided toward her, and Leia instinctively held Ben closer to her, a shiver running down her spine. Talzin gazed down at her, her face covered in white and black, her traditional décor for a ritual. Her pale blue eyes went from Leia and down to Ben.
Leia nodded hurriedly as tears stung her eyes. “You’re certain…you’re certain that this will work,” asked Leia, barely able to keep her emotions in check.
Talzin nodded and brought her long fingers up toward Ben, gently touching his cheek.
“Yes,” she said. “The Book of Shadows is deep with magicks. But…” Talzin held up a finger and looked at the young mother. “This spell has its limits. It will protect the child from those who seek it until there arises someone strong enough to protect him here on earth. When that person comes, the child will come back to earth, his true and complete nature fully revealed.” Leia nodded. “But we must make haste."
Leia nodded and looked down again at her son. Her impossible miracle.
“My sweet boy,” she whispered into his hair. “I hope one day you’ll know how deeply I have loved you.” Tears streaked her face. Slowly, Ben began to stir awake under her kisses. His eyelids fluttered, revealing the ruby-red eyes and thin black slits of pupils. Upon seeing his mother, the baby smiled, his lips pulling back to reveal the two pointed fangs. Leia did not recoil, this was the face that she loved.
The face of her son, who she had carried in her womb. The pregnancy she survived only thanks to magic. She had almost died bringing her son into the world, and whatever else he was, he was her baby. Talzin held out her hands expectantly. Leia let out a strangled sob and pressed another kiss to Ben’s forehead before surrendering her son to Mother Talzin.
Upon being passed from the familiar arms of his mother to a stranger, Benjamin began to cry. Leia shuddered as his whimpers turned into keening wales, shattering her heart into pieces. Losing Han had been almost unbearable but this, she did not know how she would survive this. It pained her that she would not be able to see what Ben would grow to be, that she would have no hand in raising him. And now he may never have the chance to do the things that she had dreamed for him; to love, to have a family, to experience humanity. But none of that mattered, not if it wasn’t safe for him. The world around him was hostile and dangerous for anything that was the slightest bit different, and he was more than slightly different. And Ben, she could not guarantee that he was any safer for the human world than it was for him. There was a power inside of him, something beyond what could be contained, something greater than even she could comprehend.
Powerful but no less in want of his mother. She could hear Ben screaming for her. It was all she could do not to snatch him back up, to give in to her worst and most selfish instincts. But she resisted. Mother Talzin knelt and placed Ben on the floor, surrounded by 7 stones. She heard Talzin cooing gently to Ben, and then she reached into her cloak and produced a jagged dagger. Leia inhaled sharply. Before Leia could do anything, Talzin pressed the jagged tip of the dagger to Ben’s forehead, just above his eye and quickly slashed it across his tender flesh, leaving a long angry slash across his face. Leia let out a sob of protest but Talzin held up her hand to silence her.
“Calm yourself,” she warned, looking up at Leia from her still crouched position. “It’s necessary for the enchantment.”
Leia retracted her outstretched arm. Talzin took the edge of the knife, now dripping with her son’s blood, and flicked it over Ben, splattering the floor and the stones. As soon as the drops fell, the green light gushed outward, forming long tendrils, grasping for her son. Leia looked around as an unearthly voice filled the space of the basement- speaking a language she didn’t know, echoing in every corner, bouncing around her without rhyme or reason.
Talzin was still on her knees, now outside the perimeter, muttering in the same language that Leia heard being whispered all around her. Leia looked around frantically trying to place the source but there was none to be found. When she looked back at Ben she let out a cry. His eyes were still flaming red, but his fangs had grown longer. His thick black hair now surrounded two protruding, curling horns, and his skin began to shimmer and harden into a thick, black armor of scales. But even with his changed form, Leia could tell that it was still Ben.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
The last thing she heard was his cry and then a flash of light enveloped Ben and suddenly, the basement was dark again, leaving just her and Mother Talzin. Leia could no longer hold back the desperate sob. The stones sat unremarkably on the ground and Ben…Ben was gone.
She had done it. And the cost was almost more than she could bear.
He was gone, somewhere no one could reach him. Somewhere she would never be able to follow. Her arms were now empty. Her cradle would no longer hold her precious boy, and her house would never be filled with his cries and his laughter.
Leia slowly collected herself off the floor and made her way to the stairs, not bothering to speak to Mother Talzin. She should thank her, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it. She couldn’t bring herself to speak at all as she moved numbly.
She would tell everyone he had died, as so many babies in the village did. They would say they were sorry and offer to pray for her, but she knew they would all take a deep breathe, a sigh of relief when the news spread; the bastard, born of a witch, rumored to be inhuman, would no longer plague them. They would have to find something else to blame all their misfortunes on.
Leia stepped out into the night and shut the door behind her, hugging herself tightly.
“My sweet Ben,” she whispered, clutching the golden dice that hung around her neck. “Please be safe.”
Back inside, in a store with harmless trinkets and carvings, Mother Talzin knelt before the altar, the Book of Shadows opened before her.
“My dark lord,” she whispered. “Everything is set in motion. He who is both human and demon will grow and will one day return to the mortal realm. And that…that will be the dawn of the New Order.”
“The FUCK was that…”
Rey shot up in bed, tangled in her sweaty sheets. She whipped around frantically, clutching the wooden stake under her pillow. She squinted into the darkness, her slayer senses were going crazy. She squinted wearily into the darkness.
She reached over to her cellphone and looked at the time; 5:17 am. She let out an exasperated sigh and threw herself back down onto the pillow. Behind her eyelids she could see her again; the beautiful woman, eyes filled with resolve and sadness; and so much strength. She could hear the woman’s cries, mingling and mixing with the those of a child. It was the same dream, every night, for the past few months. And every time when she awoke, she could hardly hold onto it, no matter how desperately she grasped at the vapors. She heard cries, saw the green light, and a malicious grin. But none of it made any sense, none of it fit together.
She sat up again and looked out the window. It was still dark out, but not for long. Soon the L.A traffic would start. She stretched upward, cracking her shoulders and back.
Who needed roosters to welcome the sun when you could get car horns, shouting and swearing?
She yawned loudly and placed her feet on the floor, expecting the now familiar creak of the floor below her. She stood and knelt, pawing through the pile of clothes on the floor.
“Okay,” she muttered. “Which pile was…” she sniffed one. “The clean one.” She shrugged and pulled on one of the T-shirts before standing up again. She walked out of her room, into her still dark apartment. It was small, just her room, a small space that could be considered a “living room” and a kitchen with no walls or doors to separate them. It wasn’t much, but it was all she needed. She crossed toward the kitchenette, her eyes darting around the small space. Her instincts were still screaming, telling her that something was wrong, that she wasn’t alone, that she was most certainly being watched.
“Hmmm,” she muttered. She turned toward her cabinet and reached up, grabbing the box of cereal. She felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.
A vampire? No.
A demon? No. It didn’t feel demonish.
Rey whipped around holding out her box of cereal just in time for it to catch a flying knife in the cardboard. Rey looked at the knife protruding from the box of cereal, and then turned her death glare into the darkness of her living room.
“Goddammit, Luke,” she scolded, jerking the knife out of the cardboard and pointing it toward the shadows. “Come out you troll!”
She heard a familiar chuckle. The man was impressive, she had to admit. In his sixties and still as sleuthy as ever. Luke emerged from the darkness, all impish smiles and mischief.
‘You know Luke,” she said, still gesturing toward him with the pointed end of the knife. “It’s shenanigans like this that got you kicked out of the Watcher’s Council,” she threw the knife back at him. Luke caught it easily and pocketed it with a shrug.
“I think that has a lot more to do with an unruly slayer than anything else.”
“Oh please,” said Rey. “I am a fucking delight and maybe if…”
Rey’s face suddenly went ashen as she held up her box of cereal. She reached in and poked her finger through the large hole and wiggled it accusingly at Luke. “Dammit, Luke you ruined by Cookie-O’s!”
Luke raised an eyebrow. “You shouldn’t be eating that junk anyway,” he said reprovingly. “It'll kill you.”
Rey laughed and jumped up, so she sat on the countertop, digging into the box and grabbing a handful of the dry cereal.
“Nah,” she said, popping some in her mouth. “Slayer metabolism, love.”
Luke’s face scrunched in disgust as the crumbs spewed from her mouth. “Charming.”
“’Sides,” said Rey through a mouthful of cookie. “Death by sugar would be preferable to the fate of most Slayer’s, right?’
Luke didn’t respond. Rey knew, despite the way he teased, that this was a touchy subject. Among many reasons Luke didn’t quite belong with the Watcher’s Council, was the fact that he never cared to master the “no attachments” rule that most Watcher’s lived by. Rey knew why it was a rule. The Watcher-Slayer relationship was so transitory, boundaries needed to be kept. But, on the other hand, that never would have worked for Rey, the attachment-starved street rat that she was, when her powers manifested. But joking about death didn’t mean much to Rey. She had once been certain she wouldn’t live past thirteen, and now, here she was, nineteen with superpowers. Still alive and eating her fill of sugary cookie-based cereals in her very own apartment nestled above the Skywalker Gym.
“Why are you awake anyway,” asked Luke. “Usually I have to come drag your ass out of bed to come open the gym.”
Rey shook her box and reached in again. “I had that dream again.”
Luke walked toward her, jumping up and sitting next to her on the counter. He reached into the box and helped himself to a handful. “The one with the baby crying?”
Rey nodded and sighed, laying her head on Luke’s shoulder. “And the mother,” she said. “She’s just so sad. I can feel it so strongly. Her heart aches and it's like... my heart aches." She touched her own sternum, reflexively.
“Rey,” said Luke. “You know so little about your past. Do you think it could be your own subconscious…?"
Rey shook her head fervently. “I wish,” she said. “I wish it was my own mother. I like to think that it was hard for her to abandon me at a fire station. But…this…it feels different. Like she’s crying out for…me. Like she wants me to help her. I don’t know. I know it sounds stupid I just have this feeling…” she sat up again and threw a cookie in the air, catching it in her mouth. She turned and looked at Luke, a shit-eating grin on her face. “But hey what do I know? Maybe it’s just that slayer savior-complex flaring up.”
Luke looked at her intently, not distracted by her dismissiveness. “It’s not stupid Rey,” he said. “You need to listen to your instincts. The Slayer is such a mystery, even to this day. What your connected to and how it connects is a mystery, despite the Council's best efforts to unravel it.”
Rey let out a small laugh and looked at him sheepishly. “Sorry I got you kicked out.”
Luke rolled his eyes. “I was borderline a long time before you came around. The Council thinks they can own the power of the Slavery, control it and manipulate it and understand it. It’s hubris, and until they realize that without the Slayer they are just a bunch of old men getting paid to sit on their assess and do research that any 16-year-old with a library card and internet access could do, I have no desire to be counted among their number.”
Rey threw her head back and laughed. “Yeah, you don’t sound bitter at all, Skywalker.”
“Well,” said Luke. “Of course, I’m bitter! Just because I don’t want to play doesn’t mean I wanted to be told I couldn’t.”
Rey nodded and reached back into the box only for Luke to jerk it away. “Hey!”
“Nope,” he said standing to his feet. “You’ve had enough, and I can’t have you puking five minutes into your training.”
Rey glowered at Luke as she slid off the counter.
“Two times, Luke,” she said, holding up two fingers. “Two times that happened and of one of those times I had been bitten by some vertigo-inducing swamp creature.”
“And the other,” asked Luke, looking at her with a raised eyebrow.
Rey’s glower gave way to a sheepish shrug.
“It was Finn’s birthday…”
“How was I supposed to know that red velvet cake and vodka didn’t mix…”
Luke turned and walked toward the stairs that descended to the gym below them.
“I was an orphan,” she called out after him. “I never tasted such sweet confections as red velvet cake!”
“Be down in five minutes, Rey,” he called back from the darkness.
“You’re a monster!”
“I want my Cookie-O’s!”
“Have an apple!” Rey rolled her eyes and waited until she was certain he was gone.
“Have an apple,” she mimicked. “Have an apple, Rey while I take off with your delicious, sugary treats...” she let out a snicker and went on her tiptoes to reach the higher cabinets. “What do you think this is, amateur hour?” Rey felt around until she reached the fresh box of Cookie-O’s.
Kylo Ren materialized in the Sith Citadel in a puff of black smoke, letting out an immediate sigh of relief. He looked outside the window into the vast sprawling hellscape of Korriban.
It was good to be home.
From the Citadel, he could see the sprawling, blood-colored desert. Red was very much a consistent aesthetic of the Sith-Demons, red and black. Not very creative as far as demons go, but still…it was not unpleasant to look at.
He stretched out his arms and shook out his body; traveling between dimensions always made his towering frame feel as though it were being scrunched into a ball of bone and muscle. He cracked and popped, and then made this way through the quiet citadel. Most of his Sith kin were asleep. It was a common misconception he encountered that they didn’t need sleep.
An ignorant one. Sure, there were some demons who didn’t need sleep or sustenance, but the Sith were not of that variety. A lifetime of wreaking death, vengeance, and discord, not to mention fighting their demonic counterpoints, the Jedi, could take its toll.
How any of his fellow demons had time for a social life was simply beyond him.
“Well…well…well…” A slimy voice broke through the darkness from somewhere in the stone hallway. “Look who decided to show up.”
Kylo rolled his eyes and reached up toward the ceiling above him, into the dark shadows. His hands found purchase around a thick, scaly tail. He jerked down violent.
“Owe…owe…owe,” the voice protested. “Let go, Kylo!”
Kylo snickered as the orange demon fell from it’s hiding place, pressed against the ceiling and into the moonlight in front of him. The lurker looked over his shoulder at his tail, reaching back to rub the base.
“What did you do that for,” he asked.
“You were the one lurking in the shadows like some Shyrack.”
Hux sneered and straightened, glaring up at Kylo with annoyance and anger.
“Where have you been,” he asked.
“You know,” said Kylo with a shrug. “Out…doing…doing demonly things.”
“Uh-huh,” said Hux with a smirk, though keeping an arms-length away from his nemesis. “Did you write some more very pretty verses to share with us, Kylo?”
Kylo’s red eyes blazed dangerously.
“I told you Hux,” he said, his voice low. “If you tell anyone about that I’ll fry up your testicles and feed them to you.”
Hux flicked his wrist dismissively. “Oh don’t be so melodramatic, Ren. I won’t tell anyone that the Lord of Darkness makes a hobby of practicing calligraphy in his spare time. But…” Hux tapped a long talon against his chin thoughtfully. “You may want to think of upping your game, the demon world is starting to talk.”
Kylo’s eyes narrowed, and his lips curled back to show his gleaming fangs. “What kind of talk?”
Hux shrugged nonchalantly. “You know, just gossip around the cauldron. 'Ren has lost his edge.' 'Ren hasn’t massacred any planets in a hundred years.' 'When’s the last time Ren has bathed in the viscera of his enemies?' 'Ren’s turning into a big fluffy kitten…' just stuff like…” Kylo’s long arm shot out, his fingers wrapping around Hux’s throat and lifting him into the air. Hux’s eyes bulged as he clawed at Kylo’s hand. “Hey…Hey…calm down Ren,” he chocked out. “Don’t strangle the messenger.”
“Perhaps if the messenger wasn’t a crawling bag of Sarlac shit he wouldn’t need his head popped like a champagne cork!”
All the same, Kylo lowered Hux to the ground. Hux backed away gasping for air.
“I’m just warning you, as a friend” he choked out, glaring wickedly at Kylo. Kylo scoffed. He and Hux were not friends. They had fought some Jedi together, but they most certainly were not drinking buddies. “You just should know. There’s even a rumor that you were the one that set the appetizers free at Phasma’s birthday!”
Kylo sneered contemptuously. “So what if I was?!”
“Oh Kylo,” said Hux. “We were all so looking forward to the delicacy! Do you know how long it’s been since any of us partook of actual human baby!? That compassion is not befitting a demon of your caliber…”
“It wasn’t compassion,” spat Kylo. “I just prefer we hunt game that can put up a fight! Do you remember what happened to the trolls? They subsisted on a diet of fat babies and look what they turned into…FAT BABIES! You are what you eat, Hux, and I will not allow the mighty Sith legions to become slovenly…”
“Okay…okay…” said Hux holding up his hands in surrender, wisely wishing to remain intact. “Just it may be a good time for a massacre or an attack on a neighboring dimension.”
“Seems like a waste to start another war merely to avoid gossip.”
“See,” said Hux, shaking his head. “The old Kylo Ren wouldn’t even need a reason to…” Hux jerked back as Kylo reached toward him again. “Never mind…never mind…” he said. Hux backed up toward a window and jumped onto the ledge. “I’ll see myself out.” He waved half-heartedly back at Kylo. “See ya around.” He leaped out into the night sky, his giant wings bursting from his back, carrying him into the air.
Kylo rolled his eyes and continued toward his quarters. Hux was a rat, and while Kylo did not believe for a moment that Hux had shared this information out of any real concern for him, he still knew that much of what Hux said was true. While powerful, and bloodthirsty in his own right, Kylo never quite felt as though he was on the same page as his kin. He wanted to conquer, and go to battle, to shed the blood of his enemies, eviscerate the occasional clan…normal demon stuff. But there was always another part of him, something that the other demons didn’t seem to share, something he noticed early to keep to himself lest he be found out as not belonging in Korriban. He didn’t want to eat babies, he didn’t want to destroy dimensions just to do it, and he had a difficult time summoning up enthusiasm for chaos for its own sake.
Very undemonly to be sure.
And a waste of immense natural talent.
Was it his fault he also had a natural talent for pretty calligraphy, and enjoyed small pranks and leaving a trail of treats that make the children laugh in the Reyloth dimension?
He sat on the edge of his bed and rolled his neck out, before laying down with a sigh, a familiar despondency settling over him. He wondered if depression was another one of his oddities?
Kylo wasn’t certain how long he had been asleep, all he was certain of is that he was in pain; significant enough to send him shooting up in bed, clutching desperately at his chest. He was a warrior, a fighter, he had been crushed by troll hammers, infected with poison darts, bit by Hssiss, and lanced by a lightsaber. But this…this pain was different, it pulsed and burned in his chest, originating from inside him, as though something within was turning on him.
He looked around the room, gasping for breath in a state of panic; a completely unfamiliar feeling. He squeezed his eyes shut and saw sad eyes aged by sadness, he could hear a voice in ringing in his ears, and the screams of a baby.
He shook his head hard and desperate, kicking the blankets off him, the burning continued to coil in his chest, winding tighter and tighter like a spring preparing to explode.
Kylo let out a cry and threw himself out of the bed and onto the floor. He leaped up, trying to regain his dignity, but he immediately doubled over in pain again
“Who's there…” he gasped out, his face squeezed in pain as he attempted to bare his teeth threateningly, but he was sure it looked more pathetic than anything else, like a wounded puppy trying to scare away a predator. A figure moved out of the shadows toward him and into the light. Kylo’s eyes widened and he held out his hands, the claws lengthening and extending. He knew who this was, and he wasn’t in a state to fight…not now.
“Obi-Wan,” he growled.
The Jedi clan were the natural enemies of the Sith clan, demons locked in an eternal struggle for dominance in the universe. Of course, the Jedi fancied themselves “good demons”, claiming that their powers were pulled from the light and not the dark, and Obi-Wan was more powerful than any of the other Jedi alive. And he was not one to be trifled with, but, all the same, it was deeply impolite to sneak into his sleeping quarters in the dead of night.
“There’s no need for that,” said Obi-Wan, waving his hand toward Kylo's claws as he made his way toward him, nonchalant. “Besides,” he said. “It wouldn’t work.”
Kylo took in Obi-Wan’s form, noticing the dull, blue haze that surrounded him. Kylo reached out a hand and found that his claws passed right through the space that Obi-Wan semi-occupied. “What are you doin…” his question died on his lips and he doubled over again under the deep, melting pain. “What…” he breathed deeply…” What…” again…” Are you…” He let out a groan of pain. “Doing here?”
Obi-Wan approached him calmly. “How are you feeling,” he asked, ignoring the question.
Kylo glared at the man, his hand still splayed across his chest, searching out the source of the pain.“If you must know…” he growled. “I am feeling a bit…stingy.”
“Stingy,” repeated Obi-Wan with a nod. “Seems accurate. Sort of like a limb waking up that has been asleep for too long.”
“I won’t ask you again, Old Jedi,” said Kylo.
“I sensed it,” he said abruptly. “The shift in you.”
“What shif…owe…owe owe! What the devil is this?!”
“You are not as you think you are,” said Obi-Wan, staring intently at him. Kylo growled in frustration.
“If you have nothing else to offer save cryptic warnings then…”
“Oh, you are every bit the pain in the ass your father was,” said Obi-Wan with an amused shake of the head.
This grabbed Kylo’s attention. He knew nothing of his father, or his mother, not an uncommon thing in the demon world, they rarely settled down behind white picket fences and to raise a family. But his was even more shrouded in mystery than most. No one even knew the name of his father, there existed no proud lineage for him to claim, which meant he had to work twice as hard.
“Your father,” said Obi-Wan with a nod. “I knew him for a short time.”
“No Sith-Demon would dare consort with a Jedi.”
Obi-Wan chuckled and sat on the edge of the bed, apparently making his ghostly form right at home. Kylo thought it was odd that he would be able to physically sit anywhere, yet here he was sitting on his bed as though he weren’t an incorporeal intruder.
“Well,” said Obi-Wan. “Let’s just say your father was always a bit of a scoundrel, a powerful demon, not unlike yourself, but he did not play by all the same rules.” He looked at Kylo intently. “Do you even know your father’s name, boy?” Kylo’s eyes narrowed at the dismissive pet name, but he supposed in comparison to someone as ancient as Obi-Wan, he was, indeed, a boy, and right now he felt as though his heart was being pulled out his throat, so the energy to quip back at him was gone. “His name was Han Solo. He and I traveled the universe together for some time, exploring every possible dimension, getting into trouble with more than our fair share of demonic and angelic beings alike. And your father…” Obi-Wan looked at Kylo with a particular look of familiarity. “Your father developed a liking for a particular dimension, with a particular planet that housed these tiny, fragile creatures called humans.”
Kylo’s brow furrowed in confusion. Of course, he knew what humans were, their young were a delicacy for many hell-creatures, and in some places in history were even offered up as sacrifices to sate their power. Not to mention, due to their own lack of magical ability, they often would call upon demons to serve their purposes. But he was confused about what any of this had to do with what was happening to him.
“Your father,” continued Obi-Wan. “Thought humans were endlessly funny and interesting, and he enjoyed that the odds were rarely in their favor, yet they persistently continued to exist. He was always a bit of a sucker for the underdogs.” Kylo scrunched up his face in disgust, his father sounded like a pathetic demon to be taken so with such unimpressive creatures as humans. “And during his time there, your father fell in love with…with a human woman.” Kylo’s mouth fell open, shocked and appalled. There was no way he could be related to a demon who would lower himself to the station of a mortal, magicless creatures. “Don’t look so surprised,” said Obi-Wan. “She was a beautiful woman, strong, clever and tenacious. As impressive of a human as there ever had been. She herself dabbled in the magic arts, but never did quite commit herself to them fully.”
Well, that was something at least, though Kylo. But still, a human witch!? How embarrassing!
“They were very much in love, and during his time on earth, Leia conceived a child. Han, ever the wanderer, couldn’t stay long and fled earth before the child was born. But by magic, Leia was able to bring the half-human, half-demon child into the universe. The first of it's kind. Of course, demons long made habits of engaging in the carnal with mortals, but never resulting in a child."
Kylo was shaking his head. It was slowly dawning him full well what relevancy this had to what was happening. He couldn’t…he couldn’t be! He was…he was a demon! A demon through and through! There was nothing human about him!
“Leia knew that they would come for you,” said Obi-Wan. “She enlisted my help and the help of a coven of powerful witches to conceal you, knowing that earth would be too dangerous for you as a child. And so, I brought you here, to Korriban, the home of your father.”
Kylo snarled and moved to shove the old demon away, but forgetting what form he was in, Kylo stumbled right through him. He whipped around angrily and glared at Obi-Wan. “You lie,” he spat. “This is a Jedi mind trick, you have done something to me and now…”
“You can believe that if you want,” said Obi-Wan. “But it will do you no good. The spell that was cast to conceal your human nature, to put to sleep your human soul, it is beginning to wane.”
“What,” snapped Kylo, his voice raising several more octaves than he thought it could. He cleared his throat and lowered his voice, and repeated his question, “What?!”
“The magic was powerful but temporary, meant to hold your humanity at bay until the time when there was a champion on earth, powerful enough to protect you as your mother longed to do. At that point, you will return to your true home.”
“This is my home,” bellowed Kylo. But even as he spoke, he saw the red and black scales receding down his forearms, bleeding into soft, pale flesh.
“It’s not,” said Obi-Wan. “Your protector has come into power, and you will be called to them.”
“I don’t need a protector,” protested Kylo. “I’m not a child! I want to stay here,” he said, stomping his foot angrily.
“I’m afraid you don’t have the slightest say in it…” said Obi-wan. “Your human soul won’t survive here. You can already feel it protesting against this dimension.”
“No…no…no…” said Kylo looking down at his chest. “That’s not…that’s not a soul! It's bad Bantha meat giving me indigestion!”
“They are bothersome,” said Obi-Wan. “But all the same, it seems you have one.”
Then before Kylo Ren could pose another protest, he was surrounded by a cloud of dark, green smoke and then filled with the sensation of being ripped in two as his body was sent scattering through time and space.
Surprisingly, there were some downsides to being the Slayer. Sure, superpowers and purpose did beat the hell out of Rey’s previous life. All the same, there were certainly some downsides. Like the fact that it took a dangerous amount of alcohol to get her drunk.
However, the same could not be said for her sweet, summer child Rose. She was small…and hot…and had a warmth that just invited people in, so everywhere she went drinks were thrown in her face. Rey happily relieved her of some of those free drinks, but not enough to keep her from now wobbling down an ally in her 5-inch heels, leaning heavily against Rey, making drunk professions of love, loyalty, and undying eternal friendship. Those poor boys didn’t realize that one tequila shot too many sent Rose from flirty to sentimental in a moment’s notice.
Not that Rey would let her go home with any of those bozo’s in her current state anyway, and Rose was all too content to sing Rey’s praises to the moon.
“You’re just…you’re just sooo brave,” slurred Rose, her head lulling onto Rey’s shoulder. Rey held the hand draped over her other shoulder. Rose stumbled again, but Rey’s arm was tight around her waist, all but carrying her through the dark alley behind The Cantina.
“Thanks Rose,” she laughed. “You’re brave too…”
“You’re like…like MY HERO,” exclaimed Rose, her voice echoing through the alley, gesturing upward with her free hand. “The way you just fuck up those vamps, and beasties! You’re just like BAM dust! Bam decapitation! BAM roundhouse kick to the face!”
Rey couldn’t hold back her giggle. Rose was, as a rule, the most brilliant person that Rey knew, and often left Rey in the dust when she would get going on pretty much any conceivable topic. It was essential to what Rey did, and she would have been dead long ago if not for Rose’s brilliant mind. But it didn’t mean the slightly slowed down, drunk Rose was not a delightful treat.
“And you just…you’re it…” said Rose, doubling over slightly and swaying. “You’re the only one…the ONLY ONE! The last melon!”
Rey snorted and nodded.
“Well that’s just not true,” said Rey. “I have you, and Finn, and Poe, and Luke…”
“Your Scooby Gang,” volunteer Rose.
Rey laughed and shook her head. “Nooo,” she said. “More like Avengers or X-Men.”
“Avengers,” murmured Rose. “I like that…I… I…”
“Oh shit,” muttered Rey, positioning Rose away from and toward the brick wall as Rose expelled the offending alcohol from her body, continuing the glorious tradition of back ally throw-ups had by those who overestimated their capacity to hold their liquor.
“There ya go,” muttered Rey soothingly, holding back Rose’s hair, and rubbing her back. “Get it all out, girl…get it all out before the Uber gets here and charges you $100 per vomit.” Rose moaned pathetically. “It’s okay,” said Rey. “We’ll get you home, and into your fuzzy octopus socks and you can…”
Rey didn’t finish her thought, in a moment she was on her feet. The hair on her arms was standing up and she could sense a shift in the air. She reached into her purse, feeling for the smooth, wooden stake that rested there.But no vampire showed itself. She squinted into the dark that led out into the still relatively busy streets, it would be a bold move from a creature of the night to attack when the L.A streets were still relatively bustling.
She breathed in and loosened her grip on the stake, only to tighten again when a large crackling ball of light landed in her path. It was small at first, but it slowly expanded outward, shining a brilliant green light.
Rey widened her stance and blocked Rose, who was suddenly slightly perked up, her eyes wide and locked on the scene unfolding before her.
“Rose,” said Rey. “Are you…are you…what is this?”
“Uhh…uh…some kind of teleportation maybe,” said Rose. “Or some trans-dimensional travel. That’s just usually a little “poof” like a smoke bomb but this…” Then as though being vacuumed out of existence, the light collapsed in on itself and with a whoosh it disappeared, sucked into some invisible hole. “Oh…my…god…” muttered Rose. Rey nodded slowly in affirmation. Laying on the ground just a few feet away, was a massive, and quite naked, man.
“Uh…” Rey tentatively stepped closer. “Hello! Hello! Are you…are you okay?”
“Is he dead,” asked Rose.
Rey shrugged, stepping closer so she was just over the body. She leaned closer to see and then leaped back in surprise when a groan of pain bubbled up from the collapsed body. She recovered quickly and looked down at him again. “Uh hi…are you…are you lost?
No answer. The man pressed his palm into the ground and pushed himself to his feet. He wobbled a bit, not unlike a drunk Rose. He leaned heavily against the side of the building and massaged his forehead with his hands. The man slowly turned toward them, his head bent down, long, shaggy black hair covered his face, and his shoulders seemed to be heaving. When he stepped away from the wall, Rey immediately looked away, flustered. Rose, however, stared forward unabashedly, a tiny squeak escaping her mouth.
“Rose,” scolded Rey, bumping her friend and bringing her back to reality. Rey understood, he was impossibly imposing, built like a brick wall. But it wasn't like it was the first dick she had seen. Though it was the first one in a long…long…long time.
“Hi,” said Rey, hurriedly looking up to his face. “Are you…are you okay?” He snarled at her, his face twisting from confusion to aggression from behind the curtain of black. Rey’s hands were in her purse in a moment, gripping her stake hard. “Hey, Gigantor,” said Rey, her voice louder and more imposing this time. “Can you understand me? Do you speak? I’m just trying to help and you’re being very…”
She didn’t get to finish as he stalked over to them like an angry bull. Rey’s eyes narrowed and she stepped forward to meet his advancement.
“Sir,” she said. “I’m going to have to ask you to calm your tits and…” He grabbed her by the arm and yanked her violently toward him. He gripped her by shoulders and raised her off the ground.
“Hey,” protested Rey. “What the hell did I just say?”
“Where am I,” he demanded angrily, giving her a shake. Rey jerked away abruptly and straightened her coat.
“You’re on earth, in L.A, in the back alley of The Catina, a poorly-kept but wonderfully-priced dancing and drinking establishment.”
He seethed angrily through notably pointed teeth. Rey was not getting a vampire vibe from this guy. She was, she had to admit, having a hard time placing the exact vibe that was coming off of him in waves, but it was certainly not a vampire. Her eyes flicked down to his hands, where he boasted long, sharp fingernails that looked as though they could easily gut her. Finally, the man’s gaze rested on her, and for the first time; she could see the red peering out through the thick hair.
“You’re…you’re a demon,” said Rey. Something was definitely off because demon was certainly NOT all she was getting, there was something else, something compelling and almost familiar. His shoulders squared slightly and he lowered her back to her feet, and he looked down at her with a smirk.
“So, you’ve heard of me, puny human?”
Rey’s mouth fell open. “Woa… woa… uncalled for."
“Yeah,” said Rose, still on her knees. “That was really rude, and you’re not the Incredible Hulk so…”
“Silence,” the demon bellowed, crossing his arms across his chest and rising to full height, making Rey blush even more as he unfurled his naked glory. “I am Kylo Ren, a mighty Sith-Demon and one of the Ruling Generals of Korriban!” He turned his arms so his palms were facing up. “And you will bow before me!”
Rey’s eyes went down to his hands, which were sparking with tiny, flickering orange and black flames. Rey raised her eyebrow and looked back at his face. “Look…Kylo, was it?”
“Kylo Ren,” he abruptly corrected, arms still outstretched, wiggling his fingers as though trying to work something from their depths.
“Right,” said Rey. “Kylo Ren, I am going to stop you right there because I am having a hard time hearing anything you’re saying on account of your free-flapping junk.”
Rose nodded beside her. “Yeah, it’s super distracting.”
“Insolent humans,” he roared. “If you do not kneel in submission, you will kneel in pain.”
He closed his eyes and strained, flexing his long fingers. Rey looked around her, as the wind picked up again and the air crackled with renewed energy. Rey looked down at his hands, once again crackling with lightning. But after a few seconds, the spark seemed to die and the lightning flickered away.
Kylo Ren looked down at his hands with such a panic and fear that Rey almost felt sorry for him. “What… what is happening,” asked Kylo, more to himself than anyone else. He tried again and still nothing.
“Trouble,” asked Rey, with an amused smile.
“This…this... never happens," he declared, almost pleadingly.
“That’s what they all say,” said Rey, shaking her head.
“It’s this damnable planet,” spat Kylo Ren, looking around. “It’s interfering with my powers…”
Rey stepped closer to the panicked creature.“It’s the planet, it’s the temperature, I’ve had too much to drink, trust me Kylo,” said Rey, placing a hand on his shoulder. “I’ve heard them all.”
Then, with lightning speed, Rey brought back her arm and landed it with painful force on Kylo’s jaw, sending him reeling to the ground, out cold.
“Rose,” said Rey, kneeling down next to the fallen demon. “Call Finn and Poe and ask them to come pick us up.”
Rose nodded as Rey looked over the unconscious body. Demons could look human, that wasn’t unusual. But demons had a particular way of breathing, of moving, of carrying about their insides that was usually a dead giveaway, but whoever this Kylo Ren was, he was throwing her through a loop. Rey gently pushed the hair back from his face, her fingers brushing over his eyes, his nose, and his long scar. She cocked her head to the side, taking him in, curiously.
And then she felt a jerk of certainty, sad, brown eyes and a voice crying in the dark, calling for her. Whatever he was, somehow, she knew that he was for her.
Chapter 2: Odd Aversion to Nudity
Kylo awoke with a dull ache in his jaw, and to the sound of voices hovering above him, worming their way into his consciousness.
“Poe those shorts look ridiculous,” scolded a voice that Kylo was certain belonged to a male.
“It’s not my fault,” protested another voice. “Rey just said “bring clothes”, what Rey did not say is bring clothes that fit the BFG.”
“Oh, come on he’s not that…tall…” said another voice, this one vaguely familiar. Suddenly he remembered and was filled with abject humiliation and rage. He jerked to move but found himself bound to a chair. He looked down at his constraints. No normal rope could hold him, but he saw quickly this was no normal rope. He was bound by magic, bright and burning against his skin if he attempted to wiggle free.
No matter, he would use his powers of persuasion and seduction too…
“Heeyyy Kylo…” The woman from the alley knelt in front of him. “You’re awake. Good!” Kylo bared his teeth angrily, but she didn’t blink. “You want something to eat? I think Poe has a stash of Pirouettes somewhere around here….”
“Rey,” said one of the men, Kylo assumed the man she called Poe. He was young, and tall, and quite pleasing to the eye, by human or demon standards. “You can’t go around offering up snacks that aren’t yours!”
The woman, Kylo now knew to be Rey, was another matter. He didn’t like the feel of her; she didn’t tremble, she wasn’t afraid, and she looked him dead in the eye as if he COULDN’T rip her spine out. “Kylo,” said Rey. “We can let the restraints go if you promise that you won’t hurt…”
“I promise by morning your limbs will be removed from their sockets,” he yelled, pulling hard against his constraints.
“Quiet,” said the dark-skinned male. “We have neighbors, man. They’ll think some freaky shit is going on here.”
“Freaky shit is going on here,” said Poe, crossing his arms and looking at Kylo. “Tell me Rey, why didn’t you just kill this guy as soon as he Terminatored into our realm?”
“What,” asked Rey, brow furrowing in confusion. “What about Terminatored?”
“Like the movie Terminator,” said Poe, with an exasperated sigh. Kylo quite liked the title; he could be the Terminator of this entire dimension as soon as he found a way to release himself from the blasted magical restraints.
Rey turned and looked back at him, still all curiosity and no fear, as though she was certain her spine would remain fully intact. Kylo Ren had never been so embarrassed in his entire life.
“I didn’t see it,” she said absently.
“What,” asked Poe, his voice high with disbelief. “But it’s literally what happened! Massive man, with swinging schlong, pops up in the middle of a dark alley.”
Rey shook her head. “Sorry doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Clearly,” muttered Poe.
“Babe,” said the dark-skinned one, putting a hand on Poe’s shoulder. “Rey and my parents were too busy not being there for us to show us the finer elements of American cinema.”
Poe glared at the man. “Does the orphan card ever expire?”
“Nope,” said the man, squeezing Poe’s shoulder. “Never.”
Kylo turned back toward Rey who was still looking at him curiously. He glared at her, and then down at his bindings. He felt magic in them, and magic emanating from the group that surrounded him. “Who among you is the witch,” he asked, eyes searching the different faces.
“Oh,” said the dark-skinned one, raising a hand and waving it. “That would be me. My name is Finn, and the technical term is warlock but you know…whatever is easiest for you.”
“And what are you,” spat Kylo, looking at the woman who had punched him. “You aren’t human, even in my weakened state a mere human could not have bested me so.”
“Oh that’s sweet,” said Rey, standing to her feet. “But sorry to disappoint you Kylo, I am human through and through.”
“Impossible,” he spat.
Rey laughed and rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she said. “You got me. I am human, but also have bad-ass Slayer powers that help me do battle again various, ghosts, ghouls and goblins.”
“Nice alliteration…” said Finn with a nod.
“Thank you,” said Rey, not missing a beat, before turning back to Kylo. “Because of my very unique abilities, I was able to lay your ass on the ground with a single punch. But,” she said. “Luke is much better at the whole Slayer bit, so I’m sure you and he can dive deep into slayer lore if you want.” She leaned closer, just a few inches away from his face. “For my part, I am far more interested in what you are.”
“I am Kylo Ren,” he said. “Sith demon of Korriban…”
“Yeah we got all that back at the ally,” said Rey. “Rose is checking it out. But you’re not a normal demon are you…”
Kylo felt a wave of shame and embarrassment.
“I am a normal demon,” he protested pathetically.
Rey raised an eyebrow. “I don’t believe you….Finn…”
The dark-skinned man, Finn, walked over to her, a cautious eye on Kylo.
Good, thought Kylo. This Finn is properly frightened by me, I will make his death slightly less painful than the rest.
“Is he gonna bite me,” asked Finn.
“I’ll feast on your entrails you…”
“No,” said Rey shaking her head dismissively. “He won’t bite you.”
Finn knelt in front of him and closed his eyes.
“What are you doing, witch?!”
Finn didn’t respond. He raised a hand slowly and pressed it against Kylo’s chest, and lowered his head, as though praying. Kylo balked under the touch but he couldn’t flinch away. Finn’s fingers fanned out across his chest, and he began to mutter something under his breath. Kylo couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he caught the occasional word and could tell it was an old language, one almost entirely unspoken in the universe today.
“What are you…” And then Kylo felt the sensation of choking, as if there was a vice grip on his heart, squeezing the breath out of him, and then, joining the light of the bonds around him, a dull white glow began to emanate from somewhere inside his chest.
Kylo’s eyes widened.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” he muttered. “There it is.”
“Yup,” said Finn, abruptly pulling away, and just as quickly as it came the light disappeared. “That’s a soul all right.”
Rey nodded, nibbling on her thumbnail thoughtfully. “Yyyeah,” said Rey. “That’s what I was afraid of.” Poe looked at her confused. “Well, I can’t kill him now.”
“Sure, you can,” said Poe. “He’s still a demon, part demon?”
“Well if there was a way for me to kill the demon part and not the human part I would,” said Rey.
“You couldn’t kill me if you tried,” said Kylo with a smirk.
“Oh what,” said Rey, rolling her head dramatically so she was looking at him. “You going to snarl me to death? Make those cute, tiny sparks come out your fingers again?”
“I wouldn’t test him on that,” called a voice from the other room. Kylo turned toward the young woman who entered the room. He had seen her earlier, now decidedly dressed down, and looking more stable on her feet. She carried a strange glowing rectangle into the room and was squinting at it. “Actually, I may stop taunting him in general,” she warned. “The Sith demon are actually legit terrifying.”
Rey pursed her lips in suspicion and looked back at Kylo. “This guy,” she asked.
“Yes,” said Kylo. “This guy! Go on girl, regale her of my exploits and the breadth of my power.” Rose looked at him for a moment, and then back at Rey.
“Seriously, Rose, this guy,” repeated Rey.
“Apparently,” said the woman called Rose with a shrug. “Sith Demons are extremely aggressive, drawing their power from places of hate and anger and passion.”
Kylo nodded proudly as Rose read from the glowing rectangle.
“They have the power of telekinesis…”
“So, lifting stuff,” said Rey. “Come on every supernatural Tom, Dick and fucking Harry has that one.”
Rose held up a hand.
“They also have powers of persuasion, especially in the case of weak-minded beings, and in some cases, they even have the power to affect the mind so greatly as to push some victims into permanent insanity…”
Rey pursed her lips and nodded. “Yeah…Yeah that one’s scary,” said Rey.
“Some have the power of deadly sight, though it’s rare even among the Sith-demons. If they harness their fury and hatred they can project them through an intense glare onto a victim which will blister or even vaporize extremities.”
“Laser eyes,” said Poe. “So…so he has laser eyes. Great!”
“And he can electrocute us with lighting from his hands and fingers.”
The group stood in silence pondering what they just heard. And Kylo couldn’t help but sit up straighter as they considered his might. “Okay,” said Finn, breaking the silence. “So, soul aside, we gonna kill him, right?”
Rey turned and looked at Kylo. “I feel like if he could do any of those things to us, he would’ve already.” Rey knelt down again so she was eye-level with Kylo. “So why haven’t you, huh? Why haven’t you laser-eyed us to death yet?”
Kylo squirmed uncomfortably under her gaze. He wasn’t quite sure what the appropriate way forward was. They were his enemies, clearly. Though they had not killed him yet, despite their chance while he was unconscious. This woman, Rey, had referred to herself as the Slayer, a term he had yet to hear, so she possessed some sort of power, not to mention the warlock, and the woman who held knowledge in her hand on a glowing box. There was power here, and he had to move forward carefully. Not to mention the fact that he had no idea how long he would be stuck here, nor what powers of his had been completely lost or merely compromised.
“I must admit,” he said. “I have not personally come upon a Sith demon with the power of deadly sight, though I have heard of it, so, from that at least, you are safe.”
“And the rest,” said Rey. “Could you use your powers of persuasion on us?”
Kylo raised an eyebrow. “On you,” he said. “No.” He paused and looked at Finn. “Likely not on the witch either.”
“Yessss,” said Finn, pumping his fist victoriously.
“What about the rest? The lightning, the telekinesis? What about that?”
“Why would I tell you anything,” growled Kylo. “You’re my enemy.”
“Mmmm are we though,” asked Rey. “So far we’ve been nothing but hospitable and you’ve done nothing but be very rude.”
“I’m a demon,” said Kylo. “Were you expecting pleasant?’
“Well, there are some vampires who are at least polite,” said Rey.
“It’s true,” said Poe. “They try and suck you dry, but there are some who at least try and wine and dine you first.”
“Which is more then I can say for some people,” muttered Finn, looking away pointedly.
Poe turned and glared at the witch. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“What do you think it means,” snapped Finn. “It means that the last time we went out on an actual date was three averted apocalypses ago!”
“Could we not do this now?”
“Fine,” said Finn, holding up his hands. “Fine!”
Kylo regarded the interaction curiously. The affection between the two men was palpable, but their raised voices and darting glances suggested tension.
“So,” said Rey. “I guess you can’t travel across dimensions.”
“For now,” said Kylo.
“What does that mean?”
Kylo couldn't give a reason for why he was even speaking to the human. Although, she was correct that, for now, he wouldn’t be able to leave unless magicked out by someone else. And Obi-Wan had suggested that perhaps returning to Korriban while his human side was suddenly out and about could be dangerous. So, for now, he was stuck. And he doubted he would find any other Sith Demons lurking about the planet to ally with.
And aside from all of that, he wasn't sure that he was even capable of lying to Rey. There was some part of him, perhaps this pesky soul, that somehow felt compelled to respond to her.
“I’m…adjusting,” he said.
“Aw,” Rey bobbed there for a moment, still crouched in front of him. “So, it’s new then?”
“From a certain point of view.”
“Well,” said Rey. “Which point of view?”
Kylo glared at her.
“Why would I tell you, Slayer? If you indeed have made a career out of killing the inhuman creatures of the dark, then why would I reveal to you my weaknesses?”
“Well,” said Rey. “Here’s the thing Kylo. I’d prefer not to kill you, and actually, I’m pretty sure I’m fairly certain I am not meant too; I could smell the soul on you the moment I saw you, and I don’t usually make a habit out of killing ensouled creatures.”
“Very generous,” he muttered.
“So, if you tell me a little bit more about yourself then maybe…”
Rey stopped speaking when a door flew open. Kylo turned his head and rolled his eyes an older man entered the room.
Perfect, another one, he thought to himself. An even bigger audience for my humiliation.
“Luke,” said Rey, standing up and beckoning him over. “Glad to see you could join us.”
“I was asleep,” he muttered, walking over to her. “I’m not like you damn kids who can stay up until all hours of the night and then sleep all day.”
“Oh, stop your grousing, old man,” she said. “Kylo here has got to have a couple hundred years on you and he’s wide awake.”
Luke turned and fixed his aged glance on Kylo. Kylo snarled, he didn’t care for the look of this one
“What do we got?”
“Demon,” said Rose. “A Sith-Demon, apparently.”
“Hmmm,” said Luke, bending forward and examining Kylo as though he were a specimen he was about to dissect. Rey examined similarly but with something more akin to recognition in her eye. “I’ve never seen one before.” Luke reached out a hand to touch Kylo’s hair.
“Luke,” snapped Rey. “That’s rude! Don’t manhandle him.”
“Rude,” snapped Luke. “You kill his kind on the regular, I don’t think you’re allowed to give lectures on undead etiquette.”
“Not undead,” said Kylo.
“Yes,” said Luke. “My apologies! Has the Slayer of all things dark and evil made out a bed for you, offered you tea and crumpets because apparently, that’s her new thing.”
Rey rolled her eyes. “He has a soul, Luke,” she said.
Luke’s eyes widened and he turned again toward Kylo.
“A soul…” he said.
“Yes, a soul,” said Kylo, his voice rising in frustration. “I have a soul, let's all shout my humiliation to the rooftops. I had a human mother at one point, and now I am stranded on your Sith-forsaken planet with nothing but an ill-fitting pair of shorts, and my powers barely intact. So yes, Slayer, go ahead and kill me, stuff me, mount me on the wall, because anything would be better than listening to the lot of you prattle a second longer.”
“Mmmhmm,” muttered Rose. “I’d mount him on my….”
“Rose,” snapped Finn.
“What,” she said, dismissively. “He’s a demon! He just said “prattle”, he doesn’t know our young people vernacular, I doubt Luke even knows…”
“I do,” said Luke absently, but still looking at Kylo thoughtfully, his bearded chin in his hand. Rey stood next to Luke.
“I don’t think I should kill him,” said Rey softly. Luke continued to stare down Kylo.
“Why is that?”
“Do I need a reason?”
“I would like one.”
“He’s half-human,” said Rey, softly. “He hasn’t really done anything yet except threaten us. And…”
Kylo didn’t care for this one bit, they spoke about him, in front of him, all without asking him what he thought of the situation. To be fair, he would have killed him by now if he was in their place.
“I just…I have a feeling like I’m not supposed to...like I found him for a reason.”
“He’s not a stray dog,” said Luke. “He’s a dangerous demon.”
“Yes I am,” said Kylo.
“You,” said Rey, holding out a finger toward him. “Don’t get to talk right now.” She looked back at Luke, her arms crossed over her chest. “I can’t explain it, Luke,” she said. “But I really can’t kill him.”
Oh, for the love of all things unholy, thought Kylo, realization suddenly dawning on him in the cruelest fashion. Magic, and the universe, it seemed had a twisted sense of humor. This child, was supposed to be HIS champion, someone strong enough to protect him? The one the magic had brought him back for, the one his…his mother had called upon?
Now he really wanted to die.
“Well,” said Finn. “I’ll do it.”
Luke pointed over his shoulder excitedly at Finn. “See problem solved!”
“No,” said Rey, closing her eyes and twisting her face as though she was confused or pained by the words coming out of her mouth. “Sorry, I don’t think I can actually let any of you kill him?"
“Okay Rey,” said Poe, stepping forward and putting his hands on her shoulder. “Look we’ve all been there.”
“Been, where,” she asked slowly, a sort of warning in her tone that Kylo did not miss. This Poe ought to tread carefully over his next words.
“You know,” said Poe. “Under the thrall of some dark-side, angsty bad-boy, with offbeat but lovely, red eyes, remember when we fought Dracula and he made Finn his uh...uh...vampire bride?”
Rose let out a bark of laughter but stopped when Finn glared at her.
“Poe,” said Rey. “I have no idea what you’re talking about…”
“I’m saying he’s hot,” said Poe, gesturing toward Kylo. “I bet he even writes really angsty poetry about how no one understands him. But that doesn’t mean you need to give up your life-long journey of destroying evil.”
“Poe that’s not what this is,” said Luke, then turned his gaze on Rey questioningly before adding, “Is it?”
“No,” she all but shouted, throwing up her hands angrily. “That is not what this is! This is my Slayer senses telling me that we don’t need to kill him.”
“Convenient that your Slayer senses didn’t tell you that about that demon from Dagaboh…”
“Ooh the swamp thing that smelled like ass,” said Rose. “Yeah, that was nasty.”
“Everyone quiet,” said Rey. “I am pulling Slayer rank here.”
“Is that a thing,” asked Finn.
“No,” said Poe. “She’s making it up as she goes.”
Rey continued without responding. “I am not killing Kylo Ren. It’s just not going to happen.”
“Someone should,” Kylo muttered dejectedly from his seat.
“Talk again, and you’re going down for another nap,” said Rey, closing her eyes and squeezing her forehead, as if trying to beat back a rising pain.
“So, then what are we going to do,” asked Luke. “Keep him in a cage?”
“Then what Little Miss “I’m Pulling Slayer Rank”,” Luke pressed.
Rey let out a growl of frustration and swung her hand back, smacking Kylo in the face. “Hey,” barked Kylo. “That hurt!”
“Yeah,” said Rey. “I promise you it doesn’t hurt as bad as this pain in my ass!”
Kylo leaned forward but didn’t fight too hard against his bindings, knowing full well what would happen if he did.
“Well perhaps you should see a medicine man about that,” he said. “It could become serious.”
“See,” said Rose. “He’s old, he doesn’t get colorful metaphors.”
“Look,” said Rey, through gritted teeth. “You are going to start talking.”
“Or what,” said Kylo. “You already said you wouldn’t kill me perhaps you shouldn’t…” Rey brought her fist hard against his jaw again, sending the chair flying back, and Kylo with it. Rey straddled him and grabbed his ear, pulling him back up into a sitting position.
“I thought we weren’t supposed to manhandle,” said Luke.
Rey ignored him and glared at Kylo, who was smirking at her, enjoying the sensation of her rising anger. It filled the room, in the same way that the rage or aggression of a demon gave them power. Perhaps this Rey drew more from the Dark Side then she would care to admit.
“Start talking,” she growled, her green eyes blazing brilliantly.
Kylo sighed. At this point, there wasn’t much use in fighting with her, especially if he wanted out of these restraints. “Fine,” he said. “As you all have deduced I have a soul. I am also part human, all facts that I have been blissfully unaware of for the past 500 years. Apparently, the world was unsafe for little half-human, half-demon children at the time, so my mother magicked me out of the world and into the world of my father, Korriban. The magic hid my human self and placed my soul in some form of hibernation so that I could survive on Korriban, but it seems as though the magic was only temporary. When my mother’s home was deemed safe enough to return, then I would return in my true form.”
“Fascinating,” said Luke. “Your mother must have been a very powerful witch.”
“I wouldn’t know,” said Kylo. “Apparently she needed the help of some coven.” Rey and Rose shared a quick look, and Rose looked back down at her glowing box, moving her fingers as he spoke. “And now here I am, safe and sound on earth, and the first thing that happens is I am leashed like a dog.”
“And you’re stuck,” said Rey. “You’re quite certain you can’t return to your own dimension?”
Kylo snorted. “Of course, I’m stuck, had I been able to cross-dimensionally travel I would have.”
“But you do still have some of your powers,” asked Luke. “You are part demon after all.”
“Yes,” said Kylo. “Though I’m not certain to their nature yet. I don’t know if they are merely temporarily compromised due to my altered state, or if I have lost them altogether. But my understanding is even if I could return to Korriban, I can’t because my newly awakened human soul would reject it, it’s built for true Sith-Demons.”
Rey nodded. “But with the right magic you could go back,” said Rey.
“I would assume so.”
Rey turned and faced her friends. “Guys huddle up.”
The group moved out of hearing distance for Kylo, though he craned his neck and strained to hear their hushed tones.
He heard mumbles, grumbles, one would occasionally look up at him and then duck their heads back into the huddle. A “What?!” from Finn or a “Are you kidding me?!” from Luke rose from their whispers. Kylo was curious to see what they would decide to do with him. Killing him, it seemed was off the table thanks to his mother's magic. But they couldn’t very well unleash him upon the world. If he couldn’t return to Korriban he would just make this new planet his own Korriban, assuming his powers ever got past pathetic and into reasonably scary territory.
At this point, he was just ready to be able to move his arms again, and get out of the uncomfortably tight clothing around him. In Korriban, no one wore clothes, it wasn’t necessary. But apparently, something had been offensive and disorienting about that state here on earth.
Obi-Wan was right, they were an odd and funny species.
Finally, Rey returned her disgruntled looking band in tow. “Okay, Kylo Ren,” said Rey. “I want to make a deal with you.”
Kylo raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, a deal,” said Poe, turning his incredulous gaze on her. “A literal deal with the devil. She has gone in the span of moments from Rey the Slayer to Rey the Faustian bargain maker.”
“We are willing to let you free, IF,” she said, stressing the if harshly. “If you remain with us and under our watch." Kylo opened his mouth to interrupt but she pressed her fingers together in a silencing motion. “If you agree to this, Finn and Rose will attempt to discover what magic was used to get you to your dimension in the first place and attempt to see if it can be replicated.” Kylo squinted at them suspiciously.
“Do you think you are able to do that?”
“If we get more information from you,” said Rose. “Maybe.”
“But I’m still a newbie,” said Finn. “I am not making any promises about being able to actually do the spell.”
Rey looked pointedly at Kylo. “But that’s the best you’re going to get Kylo Ren. You don’t leave my sight without my permission, you don’t do anything demonly while you’re here, unless I give the okay. If you can do that we may find a way to get you back to your home.” Kylo looked at Rey intently. Was it worth it? The chance of going home, of returning to his former self? All he had to do was allow himself to be leashed for a short time, adjust to a life on earth for a bit, and he could maybe return home.
It galled him to have to be a lapdog to this motley crew, but there was no clear and better alternative before his eyes. He needed people who knew this planet, and he doubted he would do much better. He would, he purposed, keep the fact that it seemed this Slayer was meant to be his protector, to himself for now.
He nodded, slowly.
“Fine, Slayer,” he said. “We have a deal.”
Rey nodded, her eyes locked on him. “Finn,” she said. “Remove the bindings.”
“Rey are you…” She nodded again, still looking at Kylo. “Fine,” muttered Finn. In a few seconds, after a few muttered words from Finn, the restraints were gone. Kylo let out an involuntary moan of relief and stood up, flexing his fingers and forearms, before standing up. He stood, perhaps a bit too close to the Slayer, looking down menacingly at her. She returned his stare stubbornly, despite the fact that he towered over her. Then Rey raised a hand and held it out to him. He eyed it for a moment, before raising his. She looked at him expectantly, not moving her hand forward.
Kylo suddenly felt very vulnerable and exposed as he slowly reached out his hand to hers, to grasp it, and to seal their deal. But as soon as his fingers touched hers, he felt whatever it was inside of him that was new and human call out to her, as if it knew who she was, and wanted to be close to her. It was not an unpleasant feeling, so he immediately dropped his hand after a curt handshake. He quickly silenced the swelling disappointment that seemed to bubble up inside of him when she let go.
Quiet you, he scolded to what he hoped was his soul.
“Okay,” said Poe, breaking the silence. “Well this has been a fun and eventful night, but it’s getting late and Finn and I had plans tonight …”
“What are you talking about,” said Rose. “We are staying here, I’m not going home tonight!”
“Yeah same here,” said Luke. “It’s 2 in the morning.”
Poe made a face but raked a hand through his hair. “See this is what happens when you’re the only one with a stable job and a house. I’m never getting laid again,” he muttered under his breath and then turned toward Luke. “Okay,” he said gesturing toward him. “Come on, I’ll show you to the guest room.”
“I’m sharing with Poe and Finn,” said Rose, leaving the room with a yawn.
Finn looked at Rey and then back toward Kylo. Kylo could see the still-lingering suspicion in his eyes. “I’m going to put a barrier spell on the house,” Finn said. “Just in case someone gets antsy.”
Rey nodded, and squeezed his shoulder.“Thank you, Finn,” she said. “I really appreciate this. Sorry about the inconvenience, I know you were looking forward to dirty sex-play tonight.”
Finn shrugged. “No worries, I was feeling bloated tonight anyway.”
Rey laughed and gave Finn a hug before he left the living room, leaving Kylo alone with the Slayer. They eyed each other, sizing one another up. Kylo tried to cut an imposing figure, drawing himself up to full height, but it still had no impact on her.
“Do you sleep,” she asked, her arms crossed.
“Of course,” he answered. “Though I am not sure if my sleep requirements will change, like many things I am not sure how this new humanity will impact the day-to-day needs of my physical body.”
“Well,” said Rey, gesturing behind him. “You can take the couch. But I’ll be in that chair right there,” she said, pointing to a large puffy chair. “So no funny business.”
“No funny business,” he repeated with a nod. When Rey turned from him and bent down to open a chest against the wall, he took the chance to finally free himself of the ridiculous clothing he was confined in. Rey turned back toward him, a blanket in her hand, when the shorts were to his knees.
“What the hell are you doing,” she snapped, throwing the blanket hard at him. Kylo caught the blanket, while the shorts hung at his knees. “Put those back on!”
Kylo’s mouth twisted in dissent. “Those,” he said pointing at the fabric now around his ankles, “are ridiculous, tight, and itchy! I cannot sleep in such conditions.”
“Well, you’re damn well gonna,” said Rey. “Poe will kill you if he comes out and finds your bare ass on his couch.”
“But they are so constricting,” Kylo whined.
Rey rolled her eyes, and put a hand on her hip, looking at him as though she were about to scold him. “Look,” she said. “Just please, wear them for tonight, and we’ll make other arrangements tomorrow. We have to get you some real clothes anyway if we ever want to take you out in public.”
“Fine,” said Kylo, plopping in a manner most undignified onto the couch, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t in Korriban where such plopping would be seen as unbefitting, and right now he was too tired to argue. “But I find it all ridiculous that I should lose sleep because of some unnatural aversion to nudity that seems to plague you humans.”
Rey sat back on the chair across from him, and pulled a lever on the side, propping her feet up. Another odd contraption observed Kylo. “It’s not…it’s not an aversion to nudity,” said Rey, pulling a blanket up around herself. “It’s just…it has to do with context.”
“Context,” repeated Kylo, laying back on the couch, one of many things apparently too small for him in this human world. His feet hung off the edge of the couch. He held out his hand and tried to fold the edge of the blanket down over his feet, but still, nothing came, it seemed his telepathy was either gone or still glitching. He let out a growl of frustration and looked at Rey, expectantly.
“What,” she asked, already snuggled into the chair.
Kylo wiggled his feet, drawing her to his need. “I am far too large for this couch.”
“Yes,” said Rey, her mouth in a tight line, as though trying to hold back a grimace or a laugh. “I can see that.”
Kylo growled at her. “You could at least get up and cover my feet, seeing as how all my movement has been constricted by these shorts you insist on me wearing.”
Rey rolled her eyes and stood up. “I’m not buying it, but seeing as it’s your first day on earth, I’ll help. But don’t get used to it! Just because you were kinda a big deal on Korriban, doesn’t make you not an awkward bumbling toddler here on earth.”
Kylo didn’t respond as she moved to the edge of the couch and pulled the blanket down over his feet. He smiled at the feel of the fuzzy on his legs and feet. So far most things had been disappointing on earth, but the blanket was incredibly soft, and he enjoyed the sensation of running his hands up and down the cloth, feeling the threads move this way and that.
“What do you mean by context,” he asked.
“You said nudity and context are significant here,” he said. “What does that mean?
Rey rubbed her eyes tiredly, pinching the bridge of her nose. Kylo noted the way that, once again, the red blush that crept over her ears and nose. If she was a Slayer, one who had seen all manner of unseemly things, then why would nudity fluster her, he wondered? It made very little sense?
“It means that...like when you take a bath nudity is okay. When you go to the mall, nudity is not okay. When you are…intimate with someone, nudity is okay,” she said falling back into her chair and pulling the blanket back up to her chin. “When you are mortal enemies, like a Slayer and a demon, nudity is not okay.”
Kylo nodded, but he did not fully understand. No one wore clothes on Korriban, their skin was tough and hard. The only reason he could imagine to wear clothes was that it kept one from the elements, or served some survival function, but this human clothing was thin, and frail and could easily be lanced by one of his own claws. And apparently, he would be forced to don clothing like this, lest he violate some social consciousness.
Oh well, he thought, for now, he felt this weak human body was tired from the day's journey, and soon after closing his eyes, sleep took him.
Chapter 3: BB Hates Kylo
This morning it was not the sound of angry cars or cursing passer-byers that woke Rey from her slumber, it was the sound of angry growling and shrill hissing. She rolled her eyes and kicked off her blanket, tracing the source of the ruckus to the kitchen.
“Remain still, creature, and this will be painless,” said a voice.
Rey froze in the doorway of the kitchen. Kylo was crouched, long lithe limbs tense and coiled, a knife in one hand and his claws extended on the other, ready to pounce, and staring him down and boxed in the corner was BB, Poe’s fat house cat, ears flat, back arched, and hissing deeply. Rey could already see the scratches blooming on Kylo’s forearm.
She would have to make sure to give BB extra treats later. “What the hell do you think you’re doing,” she said, trying not to yell and awake her sleeping friends. Kylo turned and looked at her, red eyes blazing. BB capitalized on this moment to dart between the legs of her captor and into the safety of the hallway. Kylo stood and turned on her angrily.
“That was my kill human! I hunted that creature myself.”
“You didn’t hunt,” said Rey, her voice low and trembling with frustration. “It lives here!” Rey reached out and grabbed the knife from him, holding up the pointed end close to his chin as though it were a finger, pointing accusingly. “We do not eat pets! Especially fat, orange ones that a certain couple dresses up for major holidays and pretends is their own flesh and blood child, understand?!”
“That,” said Kylo, holding up his own finger close to her face in a similarly accusatory fashion, “is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.”
“Yeah well,” said Rey, holding out her hands. “That’s earth for you.” She placed the knife on the counter and rubbed her forehead with her palms, already feeling the headache clustering behind her eyes.
“I was…I required…I woke with a strange, empty feeling in me and I thought the cat could…”
Rey let out a snort of laughter and looked up at Kylo. “You’re hungry, you’re saying you are hungry.”
“I suppose so,” said Kylo. “I’ve never felt hungry before, is this what it feels like?”
Rey looked at him for a moment. “For an old-ass demon you don’t know a lot,” said Rey.
“I know that dressing up cats in human wear is not only embarrassing for the cat but also the human.”
Rey nodded in ascension to the point, before walking over to the fridge and opening it. “This where our food comes from.”
She felt Kylo close behind her. He looked suspicious of the fridge. He bent at his waist, in an almost 90-degree angle for a better view. Rey jumped away to avoid the downward swing of his horns, which seemed to be growing rapidly now that his body was adjusting to whatever change had occurred.
“I require meat,” he said.
“Yeah, we have that.” Rey reached inside and pulled out the bacon and held it out in front of him. Kylo snatched it from her and held it up to his eyes, examining it carefully, and then sniffing it.
“This does not look or smell like any living thing I have ever seen.”
“It’s because it’s not alive anymore,” she said. “It was an animal and it was killed and turned strips of delicious fat.”
Kylo's nose scrunched up and he held the package out back to Rey, as though it was something horribly offending to his precious demon sensibilities.
“Trust me,” said Rey, placing the bacon on the counter and going back into the fridge. “You’ll like it, everyone does.”
Rey hoped the eggs were free-range, as her demon was coming off rather hipstery at the moment. She WOULD get the only demon in the universe who cared if his meat was ethically sourced.
“I’m confused,” said Kylo.
“I’m sure you are.”
“You wouldn’t let me eat the cat creature.”
“We don’t eat cats.”
“Because they can speak?”
“Because they are more intelligent than other animals?”
“Well,” said Rey, fishing in the fridge for the cheese. “If you were to ask Poe and Finn, they’d say yes.”
“So why am I not allowed to eat the cat creature, but I am allowed to eat whatever creature has since been reduced to strips of delicious fat? Does it hold more nutritional value than the cat.”
“Yet I am allowed to eat the strip meat, but not the cat…why?”
Rey shut the fridge and looked at Kylo weakly. He was like a giant toddler.
“Because,” she said. “We get the bacon already dead.”
“So your objection is purely the time and the location of the kill?”
“Look Kylo,” she said. “Humans function on equal part cognitive dissonance and carefully constructed rationalization, don’t poke too much or the house of card comes a tumbling. Now,” she pointed past him to the array of pans and pots that hung from the ceiling behind Kylo. “Hand me a frying pan.”
Kylo reached for a saucepan and looked at Rey, expectantly. She shook her head.
“No,” she said, pointing at the frying pan. “That one.”
Kylo reached for a spatula and looked at her again, this time with a toothy smile.
“No,” said Rey, her voice snapping and pointing even more aggressively. “Look…look where I am pointing." Finally, Kylo’s hands found the handle of the frying pan, and he unhooked it from the ceiling and handed it to her. “Okay,” said Rey, pulling him over to the stove. “Next time you’re hungry, instead of eating whatever you find, you cook something. Have you cooked?”
“No,” said Kylo. “But we did have cooks in the citadel. They would prepare great feasts for us after we returned from a field of bloody glory."
“Of course you did,” said Rey, shaking her head. “Well there are no cooks here, so you’ll have to fend for yourself.”
“I tried to and you interrupted,” muttered Kylo.
Rey glared at him but continued without arguing. “First cooking lesson is an American delicacy, bacon and scrambled eggs.”
Rey was surprised to find that Kylo was a good student and a quick learner. He watched every movement carefully, and when the time came to crack his own egg, he did not leave a bit of shell in the pan. He was also rather convenient. He leaned stupidly close to the pan and didn’t recoil when the oil popped and landed on his forehead, and despite Rey’s initial warnings, he reached into the stove to grasp the broiling English muffins without a potholder, only to pull them out without flinching.
Well, that was one power he still maintained here on earth. Or perhaps it wasn’t a power on Korriban? Perhaps Korriban was so hot in comparison that the broiling pan was nothing against his skin. By the time breakfast was done, the rest of the house was beginning to stir and gather in the living room.
“Here,” said Rey, handing Kylo a cup of coffee. “Go take this to Finn.”
“Why,” he asked.
“Because Finn and Poe let you stay here last night.”
Kylo clearly still did not understand but did as he was told turning and carrying the cup over to Finn. Out of the corner of her eye, Rey could see Finn jump as Kylo stopped in front of him. Kylo stood there for a moment holding the cup, while Finn looked at him, half afraid and half expectant.
“Here,” said Kylo holding out the cup to Finn. Finn looked at it carefully.
“Thanks,” he said.
“I made it,” said Kylo with a nod. “Apparently for you.”
“Thanks again,” said Finn slowly, and holding up the cup. Kylo continued to watch him intently. Slowly Finn raised the piping hot cup to his lips and took a sip of the brown liquid. Apparently, this satisfied Kylo and he turned and walked back toward Rey.
Rey could hear Finn spit the too-hot liquid hurriedly back into the cup.
“Ssh,” scolded Rose, nudging him softly. “You’ll hurt his feelings!”
“Yeah,” said Rose, looking past Finn toward Kylo, who was now hurrying cups of coffee out into the living room. Rose accepted hers with a broad smile and profuse thanks, which also seemed to please Kylo. She wondered how often Kylo got thanked for something other than sparing a life in his old world? He seemed to enjoy the attention.
Just like a human, she thought.
“Hey, look at this,” said Poe, coming into the kitchen. “A domestic demon.” He paused and squeezed Rey’s shoulders, planting a kiss on her head as he reached past her for a plate. “Thanks, love.”
When he was gone Kylo turned and looked at Rey, curious. “Is he your lover?”
Rey whipped around to face him, almost knocking the pan off of the stove.“What?! No!”
“Well,” said Kylo. “He touched you, and then called you love, and kissed you, why would he do that if you weren’t lovers?”
Rey shook her head hurriedly and turned back to the stove, scrambling the eggs.“Because we’re friends,” said Rey. “Or do you not have friends in Korriban?”
“Of course, we do,” said Kylo. “But we feast, conquer and kill together, we do not kiss each other unless we are hoping to satisfy our carnal desires.”
“How am I talking about sex with you again,” asked Rey, more to herself than the demon, chopping at the eggs with her spatula, making them into smaller and smaller bits. “And besides, Poe is gay.”
“Gay,” repeated Kylo, the question in his voice obvious.
“Yeah,” said Rey. “It means he likes men.”
“No,” said Rey. “Some people like women.”
“Yes,” said Kylo slowly, now as if he were talking to a child. “But you can like both males and females of a species, correct?”
“Yes,” said Rey, and then her own eyes widened in realization. “Oh, so everyone on Korriban is…you all…demons don’t really have a preference?”
Kylo shrugged. “Some do; but most primarily satisfy themselves with whatever brings them the most pleasure at the time, it could be a male or a female or anything in-between.”
“Hmmm,” said Rey with a nod. “How progressive of you? Poe, Finn,” she called. “Apparently Kylo comes from a planet of exclusively bisexual demons.”
She didn’t hear what Poe said, but from the yelp of pain she deduced that it earned him an elbow to the side from someone. Kylo didn’t respond, as he seemed to be chewing over the realization that one could want to be with one person, or even one type of person.
“Okay,” said Rey turning off the stove and handing Kylo a plate, piled high with eggs, bacon and an English muffin. He looked at the plate and back at her. “I just assumed you eat a lot, and since I have no whole pig to offer you….”
Kylo nodded and turned with her as they walked to the living room. Rey sat on the floor next to Finn’s feet. Rey had purposely left the chair open for Kylo, but he sat on the ground next to her, propped up against the couch, precariously balancing his mound of food.
Luke still eyed Kylo wearily but didn’t say anything about the odd little situation they found themselves in.
“Are you patrolling tonight,” asked Rose.
Rey nodded. “Yeah.”
“After your training,” said Luke, a warning in his voice. “Your shenanigans have cost us two nights, and I had to leave Chewie to open the gym today. He was not happy about it.”
“Oh he’ll be fine,” said Rey with a shrug. “And I won’t skip on training, or my shift at the gym, anything else I can do for you, Master Skywalker.”
Kylo looked from Rey to Luke, surprised. “Does he...does he own you?”
Finn and Poe interrupted into peals of loud laughter as Rey poked angrily at her eggs.
“No,” she shouted, raising her voice over the laughter. She turned to glare on Luke. “He doesn’t.
“But he kind of does,” said Finn, whipping away a tear.
“No, he doesn’t,” protested Rey.
“He owns your ass, girl,” said Finn. “He’s your employer, your Watcher, your surrogate father.”
Rey looked at Kylo. “No,” she said. “I was being sarcastic. He’s my teacher, and my boss.”
“Yeah,” said Rey. “Slayers all get a Watcher. The Watcher is supposed to be a source of encouragement and empowerment, mine is a hard ass.”
“Please,” said Luke. “I’m the only Watcher who would be able to put up with, Rey.”
“That’s true,” said Rey, smiling at him. She saw Kylo look from her to Luke, confused, unable to track the sudden shift in the tone of the conversation.
“Hey, Poe, Finn,” said Rey. “I need you guys to do me a favor today.”
“Well,” said Poe. “We are kind of in the middle of your last favor…”
“What do you need,” asked Finn, interrupting his boyfriend.
“I need you guys to take Kylo shopping.”
“WHAT!?” Luke, Finn and Poe spoke in unison over the sound of forks hitting plates. Rey looked at Kylo who was now enjoying his breakfast unperturbed, except to occasionally poke at his bacon with his fingers and then examine the sheen of grease it left there.
“Yeah,” said Rey. “If he’s going to stick around with us for a bit, he needs normal human clothes.”
“And you’re asking us why,” asked Poe. “Because we are men, because we are gay men, and you just assume because we are gay men we are interested in fashion, and you just assume we will jump at the chance to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy your demon boyfriend?”
“Yyyes,” said Rey, sheepishly.
“Well I’m in,” said Poe. “How about you babe?”
“Oh yeah for sure,” said Finn. “I’ve always wanted to live out my very own early 2000’s movie make-over montage.”
“Who hasn’t,” said Rose.
Kylo was still eating, still unconcerned with the conversation unfolding in front of him, as he watched his bacon flop down onto the plate limply.
“Kylo,” said Rey. “Stop playing with your damn food and eat it.”
Kylo glared at her before shoving the piece of bacon into his mouth.
“Charming,” said Rey, her lips in a tight line of annoyance. She stood up and stretched. “Okay,” she said, handing Finn her wallet. “Just don’t take him anywhere expensive, he doesn’t need to look like a runway model, he just needs to blend in.”
Poe raised a speculative eyebrow and looked over her shoulder at the bacon-eating demon. Kylo's horns protruded from the long black hair, his red eyes darted around, taking in the room, his talons, while retracted were still long and noticeable, and even if any of that had not been true, his features were sharp and distinct.
“Okay,” said Rey with a sigh. “Just do your best. Finn, can you work your magic and make him look more like a human and less like the spawn of Satan?”
“I got you,” he said. Rey nodded.
“Okay,” she nodded her head. “I have to go to the gym now, I’m doing the spin class today,” she turned and looked at Luke, pointedly. “See Luke, I’m doing my day job and my night job of saving the world.”
“Good for you…millennial,” said Luke.
“After your done with him call me,” said Rey. Poe and Finn and nodded. Rey started gathering her stuff, already exhausted from the day that had only just begun. Before she closed the door behind her she heard Kylo, no longer distracted with bacon, ask what was going on.
“Well Kylo,” said Poe. “By the end of the day, you’re going to know all you could ever want about a French Tuck.”
Chapter 4: Mr. Tall, Dark and Sexy
“Now if an attacker gets their hands on you, the best tool in your arsenal is your voice,” said Rey, standing in front of the scattered row of women in front of her. “Most of the time these scum bags want an easy target, a very loud and clear “No! Someone call 911 I’m being attacked”, will immediately tell them that you are aware of your surroundings and have not lost your presence of mind.”
Rey spoke the words from memory at this point, but she wasn’t all mentally there. Usually this was her favorite class at Skywalker’s gym, it was her baby, born of a moment when Rose commented that she loved being her friend because she felt like she could go out at night without keeping her keys between her fingers as a weapon. Rey had never known that kind of fear. She had lived in foster homes and she had lived on the street, but whether born of foolishness or cockiness, there was not an ass that she believed she couldn’t kick. Perhaps it had been her still dormant slayer instincts, or perhaps it was just the stupidity of childhood. This confidence only increased on the onset of her powers. She roamed graveyards, hellmouths, and the L.A streets without fear, but when Rose commented, she realized that this was not a luxury most women were afforded.
Out of that, Rey piloted the community self-defense class, free to women and young girls. She loved her time in the class, she loved the way women walked out of the class, their heads a little higher and their eyes a little brighter, as though they had permission to be fierce.
But right now, it was hard to concentrate.
Right now there was a demon in her friends house. One that she was fairly certain was harmless. But would he always be? What if he got his powers back? What then? Would he turn on them? And even now she felt herself compelled to be with him, it was as loud as any of her other instincts, the ones that had always kept her alive. And she couldn’t silence it.
“But if your voice fails then you’re going to want to keep your cool and identify which primary targets you have access too. Now everyone partner up…”
She would feel better if there was some explanation for this feeling. She had never had problem dispatching demons. Sure, this one had a soul and was half-human, but whatever was at play she couldn’t describe. She wasn’t certain she could kill him, and not out of any loyalty or affection, but as though it were a simple law of nature. And that made her afraid.
“All right,” said Poe going through the rack of clothes. “Let’s see…what else will flatter Mr. Tall, Dark and Sexy.”
Finn snorted as he went through the pile of pants. “Rey put us on a budget,” said Finn. “Remember. He doesn’t need to look like he just got off the runway at Milan.”
Poe rolled his eyes but continued to look through the rack of clothes.
“Is it unfairly stereotyping to assume his aesthetic is black,” asked Finn, taking a black button-up off the rack next to him.
“I don’t know,” said Poe. “Some of those demons get awful gaudy with their dress. Remember that one vengeance demon with the horns, and the red robes?”
“Oh yea,” said Finn, then looked pleased with himself. “You know he wanted to hire me to become a vengeance demon.”
“I know,” said Poe.
“He was very impressed with my work.”
Finn knew he had told the story before, but he didn’t care. He was proud of how quickly he had developed as a warlock, and he was happy it was able to keep his friends safe and help Rey do her job well.
“You’re an impressive man, love,” said Poe, throwing him a knee-buckling smile.
Poe snorted and held up a plaid shirt. “I feel like he could go gloomy dark or lumberjack.”
“Why not both,” said Finn.
Poe opened his mouth to say something and then closed it and looked around.
“Oh shit,” he said. “We lost him.”
Finn looked around panicked. “How did we lose him, he’s huge, he’s a demon, he’s…” Poe stopped and pointed over to the shoes. “He’s right there.”
Finn covered his heart with his hands in relief, before heading toward Kylo, who was looking at a particularly high pair of stiletto heels.
“Kylo,” said Finn. “Why don’t you come back over here with us.”
Kylo turned to face Finn, one of the red heels in his hand.
“What is this?” He held the shoe out toward Finn, heel first. Finn backed away from it as though it were a weapon.
“It’s a shoe,” said Finn. “You put it on your feet. You don’t have shoes?”
“We have hooves,” snorted Kylo.
“Well, yes then you wouldn’t need shoes would you,” he said, taking the heel gently from Kylo and putting it back.
“It doesn’t seem structurally sound to walk on.”
“Well,” said Finn. “I think we’d have to special order that shoe for you, buddy. I doubt they carry it in your size.”
“I do not think I’d want to wear those on my feet,” he said. “I can barely tolerate these foolish things.” Kylo held out his foot and shook it, the flip flop at the end dangled.
“Yeah,” said Finn. “We’ll get you some better footwear too.”
“Good,” said Kylo nodding his head, and looking around. “Are we quite finished here? I’m bored.”
“Almost,” said Finn. “You just need to try on the clothes.”
“To make sure they look good on you.”
Kylo’s brow furrowed in confusion.
“Is it important that it looks good.”
“For some people,” said Finn, moving through the racks. “What you look like and how you present yourself says a lot about who you are.”
Kylo seemed to be considering the thought as he began pushing hangers down the rack, looking at the different shirts.
“I see,” he said. “So I present myself as fearsome and it tells people that I am to be feared.”
“Yeah,” said Finn. “Sure. I supposed the red-eyes and horns and hooves and massive build would all say that. But here on earth, our clothes say that too.”
Kylo stopped and held up a black silk shirt with a huge tiger on the back.
“And what does this say about me?”
“That you have a pinkie ring, a gold chain and ride around in a convertible,” said Finn snatching it away.
“Oh god, what is that monstrosity,” asked Poe. Finn put it back on the rack and looked at the clothes hanging from Poe’s hand.
“You see Kylo,” said Finn. “It’s best if you go a more understated look. You already stand out with the face, the hair, and everything else, so you don’t need to go big with your looks. You wear a black turtle neck and a nice pair of jeans and you’ll still look like you belong on the cover of French Vogue.”
Finn handed Kylo a black button-up shirt and a pair of dark jeans.“Now try these on.”
Kylo moved a hand to his shorts before Finn reached out and stopped him.
“No…no… go in there…” He pointed at the room behind him, and Kylo let out a sigh.
“You all should really be more specific with your instructions.”
“Fair enough,” said Finn. “And you should assume that all nudity happens in private.”
Kylo nodded. “I’ll attempt to remember that.”
When Kylo disappeared behind the curtain Finn turned in Poe, eyes wide.
“This is not going to work,” he said. “I don’t like this.”
“What,” said Poe with shrug. “He’s harmless.”
“Yeah,” said Finn. “That’s the problem. He’s just the kind of demon who could “accidentally” start an apocalypse because he doesn’t even know what a shoe is!”
“Oh stop stressing,” said Poe. “It’s kind of fun having a new Avenger in the group.”
Finn pursed his lips and shook his head.
“I don’t like it. I don’t care how pretty he is, I don’t like it. He’s going to wander off like some kind of toddler and we aren’t going to be able to find him, until we see the giant tidal wave of flames descending on the whole world, and it’ll be all my fault.”
Poe put his hands on Finn’s shoulders and looked him in the eyes. “Look at me,” Poe said. “You’re spiraling. Take a breath.” Finn nodded and obeyed, taking in a giant gulp of air. "We aren’t going to lose him. He’s not going to destroy the world. We’re the Avengers man, there’s literally nothing we can’t all handle together. We’ve averted an extinction-event before, and we will do it again if we have too.” Poe looked over Finn’s shoulder to make sure that the curtain remained closed and that Kylo had not reappeared. “And honestly,” said Poe. “I know Rose read all those scary things about him, but, honestly, he didn’t even know what bacon was. I really think we are fine.”
Finn took another deep breath and nodded. “You’re right.”
“And soon he’ll be gone, because you’re a brilliant warlock and you’ll figure out a way to get him back to his home dimension.”
Poe leaned forward and kissed Finn, which immediately set him more at ease. Poe’s ability to make him feel like he could do anything in the world, was just one of a million reasons he was so in love with him.
“I feel as though these are far too constricting.”
Finn and Poe turned around as Kylo emerged from behind the curtain.
“No,” said Finn. “Those fit perfectly.”
Finn walked over to him and maneuvered Kylo in front of the mirror. Poe joined him and gave the ensemble a once over. “When you wear them, they stretch out a bit, but it’s a good fit.” Kylo turned around in the mirror, his head turned to look over his shoulder. Finn squeezed his lips shut to keep the emerging laugh repressed as the 6’3’’ demon made sure that the pants were flattering to his demon-ass.
Poe reached out and grabbed the sleeves that went all the way to his wrists and rolled them up to his forearm.
“Where would I wear this,” asked Kylo, casting an annoyed look at Poe as he corrected the collar of his shirt and smoothed out the shoulders.
“This is a day or night look,” said Poe. “It’s casual, but still elevated.”
Kylo’s nose scrunched and he narrowed his eyes looking at himself in the mirror again.
“Casual and elevated. Those are contradictory,” he cocked his head to the side. “Yet seem to accurately describe the look.”
Poe clapped Kylo on the back. “Glad you like it, big guy. Now get back in there and try on the rest of the clothes.”
Kylo let out a sigh of annoyance but obeyed. “See,” said Poe when he was gone. “Nothing to worry about.”
Finn nodded, but he still couldn’t shake the feeling that something else was moving behind all of this. That none of this was an accident, and that something that none of them could quite clearly make out was looming in the dista nce.
It had been a long 500 hundred years for Mother Talzin.
500 years of waiting, of feeding off the souls of her fellow Nightsisters, of watching as even some of the most faithful gave up hope that the promise would ever be fulfilled. But she had always known. She had never lost faith that one day the wayward son would return.
She knew she would feel the stirring in her bones, in her ancient, waiting soul. That she would hear his voice calling to her from that other realm, where he remained trapped, unable to break through into her dimension, just beyond the world between worlds.
“Not much longer, my love,” she whispered in the darkness, running her hand lovingly over the ancient summoning text. “Our time is coming soon. The Key has arrived, and soon it will be in our hands.”
Chapter 5: In Retrospect, the Air Mattress was a Bad Idea
It was perhaps the oddest day of Kylo’s life. New clothes, more coffee; this time gathered from another location, and with far more flavors than the coffee that he had made at the human’s home. It assaulted his senses at first, sweet and bitter, but the more he sipped on it, the more he liked it.
He wasn’t sure how he felt about the warlock and his mate. They were…hospitable, and fascinating. They bickered a lot, and they smiled a lot. They held hands, and swatted at each other. They laughed at things that Kylo did not quite understand or find particularly humorous. And they were often unintentionally humorous in their expressions, inflections and mannerisms.
It was quite difficult to imagine himself as sharing anything in common with them, hard to imagine that he was part human. But somehow, it wasn’t hard to imagine why his father had, apparently, been fascinated with them, enough so to fall in love with one.
Still inexcusable, but now more understandable.
They also walked everywhere, something that Kylo found extremely annoying. He had once been able cross dimensions with a thought a poof, and now he was confined to walk about like a common animal. But it was normal for the humans, it seemed, they all walked everywhere, somehow managing not to fall despite the fact that their eyes were cast down at the glowing rectangles called phones. It was impressive, their senses must be more heightened then he had initially given them credit for.
While they walked Poe and Finn chatted on about things that held no interest for him, so he was looking out over the streets of people, the stores and shops they passed, selling more coffee, and more clothes and more shoes.
“Why do they need so many,” he asked.
Poe turned toward him.
“So many merchants,” he asked. “Wouldn’t it be more convenient to get all of your coffees and all of your clothes and all of your shoes at the same place?”
“That’s called a monopoly, Kylo,” said Finn, a tone in his voice that Kylo couldn’t identify, but intuitively told him that Finn was tooling with him. “And they put these cute little mom and pop shops out of business.”
“People like options,” said Poe, shooting a look at Finn. “One spot only has a few options.”
“Isn’t that exhausting?”
“Sometimes,” said Poe, with a shrug. “But it gives you a lot of chances for expressing your own unique style.”
Kylo nodded again. That seemed to be important. None of the humans dressed the same. To be fair there was also a variety of demons on Korriban. Some were big and towering, others impish and sneaky; some were black, some were red, some were gold and some were orange.
But he got the impression that this was different.
When they finally stopped walking, they were standing beside a building that Kylo hadn’t seen yet. He peered in through the great windows to see people running in place, pumping their legs on a horse-like stationary apparatus, and others who had legs and arms hooked up to machines that they were straining against.
“Where are we now?”
“This is Skywalker’s gym,” said Poe. “Rey should be finishing up her training soon.”
Kylo followed his captors into the building where Rose sat behind a large desk, once again her face was buried in a glowing screen, typing away furiously.
"Oh look," said Kylo, smacking Poe in the shoulder.
"Owe," whined Poe, grabbing his shoulder. "Watch it."
"Look," said Kylo, pointing at the desk. "It's Rose."
Rose looked up abruptly at the sound of her name and smiled broadly. “Hello friends,” she said.
Poe leaned over the counter and kissed her on the cheek, and then Finn did the same. Kylo wasn’t sure if this was another human custom he would cause offense for not completing, but he stood back all the same.
“Hey Kylo,” she said. “How was your first day out on the town.”
“It was…educational,” he said with a curt nod.
“Uh huh,” said Rose with a nod. “That sounds about right. Well, you look…” she gave him two thumbs up. Kylo looked down at his own hands, his human hands, claws covered by the magic of the warlock’s glamor spell, then raised them to mimic the gesture.
Rose let out a small laugh and nodded.
“You look good,” said Finn. “That means you look good.”
“Oh,” said Kylo. “Then why not just say that?”
Before Poe could answer, Rey appeared in the lobby. She opened her mouth to speak and then stopped, her eyes falling on Kylo. He watched as a change in her demeanor flickered across her face, only to disappear as quickly as it came. It was not one he was able to place, and, like many things in this world, confused him.
“You’re back,” she said.
“Yes,” said Kylo, looking at her. “Why are you so moist?”
Finn let out a bark of laughter, and Rey turned a death glare at Kylo. She always seemed angry at him, and it was an impossible task to know what would illicit said anger.
“Was that funny,” asked Kylo. “I didn’t mean for it to be.”
“No,” said Rey, glaring at him, whatever had passed in her eyes a moment ago was certainly gone. “It was rude,” she said, her hands on her hips.
“Oh don’t be so sensitive,” said Rose. “It’s not the worst thing he’s said to you.”
“Still,” said Rey, whipping away the glistening sheen from her forehead, and then in a moment that Kylo would replay several times in his head and wonder why he didn’t incinerate her right then and there, flicked it at him. Kylo let out a hiss of surprise and recoiled from her as the drops sprayed on his own face.
“Hey,” scolded Finn. “Those are brand new clothes, children, don’t ruin them.”
“Yeah speaking of which,” said Rey, holding out her hand. “Give me my credit card back.”
Finn handed it over with a smirk. She pocketed it and brought her water bottle up to her lips and took a drink.
“Is it on me,” asked Kylo his eyes still closed and lips pulled tight. “Is her…is her skin-water on me?”
“Don’t be a baby,” said Rey, throwing him a towel. “I watched grease pop into your face earlier and you didn’t flinch.”
“Bodily fluids are different,” said Kylo, dabbing daintily at his mouth and the front of his shirt. “I don’t know what kind of diseases you carry.”
Rey took a step toward him, but Kylo stood his ground and stared down at her. He wasn’t sure why he was provoking her, but he couldn’t stop himself. There was something about the way she was looking at him that irritated and intrigued him. It was compelling, childish, and a little too human for his comfort.
“Should I be frightened,” he asked.
“Don’t know,” she said. “How much do you value your ba…”
“Hey guys,” said Rose, her voice hi and loud to drown Rey out. “Thank you for being here, please come again.”
Rey turned from Kylo to the two women passing the desk toward the door. “Bye Tia…Bye Amy,” said Rey, waving to them. “See you next week.”
When they were gone and out of earshot, Rey stepped away from him, seeming to forget the beginnings of their argument.
“Are you going to go patrolling tonight,” asked Poe.
“Yeah,” said Rey. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because,” said Poe. “Finn and I don’t want to babysit tonight.” He jerked his head at Kylo. “If you know what I mean.”
Rey sighed and raised a hand to her forehead. “Uggh…”
“Take him with you,” said Rose, with a shrug. “Then you’d have some backup, some demon-backup.”
Rey scrunched up her nose. “That seems cannibalistic."
“Just ask him,” said Rose. She turned her gaze from Rey to Kylo, leaning forward and resting her face in her hands. “Hey Kylo, do you have moral issues with killing demons.”
“None at all,” he said. “In fact, my kills have remained almost exclusively of the demon variety.”
Rey leaned pathetically over the counter, and let out a whimper. “Uhhhhh….” She moaned. “Fiiiine.”
“Kylo tonight we are going vampire hunting,” she said. “Because apparently, my best friends are all abandoning me in my time of crisis.”
“I have a final tomorrow,” said Rose with a shrug. “My professors won’t take moonlit berry-picking expeditions through a cemetery as an excused absence.”
“And you interrupted date night yesterday with your stray,” said Finn. “I bought a bottle of champagne and dipped strawberries that are now just sitting in our fridge.”
Rey scrunched up her nose. “I don’t need to hear about your dirty sex play,” she said before turning to look at Kylo. “Okay,” she said looking him up and down. “I guess you can make yourself useful while you’re here.”
Kylo wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about, but the chance to let some of his tension out through violence was not something he would turn down. It would also give him a chance to see what of his powers were still preserved and to what extent. He clenched and relaxed his fist instinctively trying to test and see if the powers that once was contained there remained. He still couldn’t tell, and he thought it best not to test it in broad daylight with her humans around.
“Uh Rey,” said Rose, leaning over the desk, speaking in a hushed tone. “What are you going to do with him tonight.”
Rey closed her eyes and let out another annoyed exhale.
“Well, Rose,” she said. “I guess Kylo can sleep on my air mattress in the tiniest apartment in the known fucking universe.”
“Sorry babe,” said Rose, a sympathetic look in her eyes.
Kylo watched as Rey’s expression softened and she shrugged and waved her hand. “Eh whatever,” she said. “I guess it falls under slayer obligations.”
“We all told you, you could kill him, to be fair,” volunteered Finn.
Kylo glared at him angrily. “Why is it you lot spend so much time talking about me like I’m not here,” he asked.
“Because,” said Finn. “Talking to you requires three pages of footnotes to explain what exactly we are talking about, so it’s really just not worth it.”
Kylo poised himself to return the insult but was interrupted by Rey snapping her fingers in his face.
Insult after insult, he fumed.
“Come,” she said, jerking her head toward a door beside the desk where Rose was sitting.
“Where are we going?”
“You’re going to blow up the air mattress upstairs, and then we are going to go patrolling.”
“Should I bring these,” he asked holding up the bags dangling from his hands.
Rey squinted her eyes suspiciously at the bags and then back at Finn and Poe, before nodding.
“Aww how cute,” said Finn. “I thought you’d never ask a guy to move in with you, what with all of your weird, Slayer-commitment hang-ups.”
Kylo saw Rey’s harsh glare turn on Finn, but it was a particular kind of look. He did not know her well, but he has seen a spectrum of her looks; frustrated, angry, exasperated, tired, annoyed…but this…this one was new. And it was enough to make Finn’s face immediately fall into one of regret.
“Always too soon,” said Rey, before turning and walking away. Kylo was by no means an expert in human emotions, but if pressed he would say this was his least favorite that he had seen thus far.
Not that he cared.
Not that he cared at all.
“Why do you hunt them?”
Rey looked over her shoulder at Kylo to make sure he was still tracking behind her. This was a new cemetery, one that she had only been to a couple of times, and she didn’t know it like the back of her hand quite yet. And trying to navigate in the dark with an inquisitive demon made it all the more difficult.
“Because they are dangerous,” said Rey, leading Kyle through the darkness, assuring that he did not trip over any of the tombstones. “Do you have vampires in your world?”
Kylo shook his head. “No none that I have encountered. I think they are a particular kind of demon exclusive to the human world.”
“Yeah, we get some of those cross-dimensional monsters too.”
“And you kill all of them?”
Rey stopped and instinctively widened her stance, gripping her stake tighter, and squinting into the darkness where she thought she had perceived movement.
“Uh no not always...” she said slowly. “If they are just passing through to see the scenery than no, not all of them are dangerous, they are just like…exchange students or something.”
“But you kill all vampires?”
“So far, yes,” she answered curtly. “I have yet to find an exception to the rule.”
“And you do this because they are vampires?”
“Yup,” she said. “Because they are vampires and I’m the Slayer. It’s pretty much what goes with the title.”
“So it is the nature of your relationship, the way your world balances the evil in it.” Rey didn’t respond, her eyes roving over the freshly turned dirt. “Is that at all upsetting for you,” he pressed.
This got her attention. She stopped in the middle of the still cemetery and turned to him, lowering her stake slightly. "Is what upsetting?"
“That your existence and purpose depends solely on the existence of evil in your world; that without the scourge of the undead you would have no reason to be here.”
“No,” she said. “Shut up! No. I have a purpose. I have friends, and interests and things...”
“Oh,” he said. “My mistake then.”
“That’s right,” she interrupted, turning around and continuing to cut a path between the fresh mounds of dirt. “You big ass,” she muttered. “Don’t have any purpose... pshh you don’t have a purpose... stupid giant well-dressed demon...” and then she felt the sensation of falling forward and cold hands wrapped around her ankle. “God Dammit, Kylo!” The admonition flew from her mouth before she could stop it. She was sure whatever was happening was his fault, even as cold, hard vampire hands clasped her ankle.
"What did I do," he protested.
“You were distracting me,” she said, kicking the hand away with her other foot. She scrambled to her feet, her face burning from the embarrassment.
“I don’t know that I can rightfully be blamed for human clumsiness," he said. Rey ignored him as the vampire writhed like an earth worm to the surface, spitting up mud and dirt
“What the hell is going on...” Rey grabbed the vampire by the collar and jerked it out of the ground
“Hey,” protested the vamp. “This is a nice suit...” Before the vampire could finish Rey stabbed her stake into the vampire’s chest and it disappeared in a puff of dust. She straightened and flipped her stake performatively, desperately trying to recover from her previous embarrassment.
“That’s it,” asked Kylo. “It didn’t look so hard.”
“Well, I don’t always get them fresh out of the grave usually they...”
“You’re mine slayer!”
Rey dropped to her knees to avoid the vampire that hurled itself over her, arms reached out clumsily to grab her. Kylo moved out of the way so the leaping vampire didn’t collide with him, as one would move out of the way of an annoying bug. It sailed past Kylo and into a huge tombstone, cracking it in two. The vampire quickly recovered and turned on them. It snarled as it's face morphed before their eyes.
“Ewww,” said Kylo.
The vampire turned its blood-thirsty eyes on Kylo, clearly offended. "That was rude,” said the vampire.
“Don’t take it personally,” said Rey. “He’s not from around here.”
“Oh,” said the vampire, looking Kylo up and down. “An out of towner hey? And she’s making you work on your visit?”
Kylo looked at Rey, confused.“I do not understand what is happening right now.”
“Yeah it’s just, fighting banter,” said Rey with a shrug. “I’ve set a bad precedent and now they expect it every time. It was really my mistake.”
Rey ducked as the advancing vampire through a punch at her, and then kicked out with her leg, driving her heel into the vampire's knee. She rolled toward the vampire and pressed a knee into his chest before he could rise, she caught the stake in her hand and thrust it forward, burying it in his chest. Rey loved moments like this. It was so simple, so easy, and so sure. And she was good at it. She knew when she was going to land the blow just right. She knew when she hit the spot that would make them dissolve into a satisfying cloud of dust. It could be complicated sometimes, being a Slayer. It could be complicated knowing when to kill and when not too, complicated knowing when to use her power and when not too, sometimes it complicated her relationships, and it had completely complicated and fucked up her relationship with Riley. But this was always right. Even if there was a hulking demon standing over your shoulder looking at you with all the curiosity of a child trying to figure out how a plane stays in the air.
She turned and looked at Kylo. “You see,” she said. “Usually they are lurking around and jump out from the shadows.”
“It still didn’t look that hard,” he said with shrug.
“Fine then, smartass,” said Rey, throwing the stake to him, against what she knew was her better judgment. “Then you get the next one.”
He looked down at the stake, and then back at her.
“Why would I use this, when I can strike them down with lightning.”
“Well,” said Rey. “Then by all means. I’m not sure that electricity does the trick with vampires. But you’re more than welcome to try it, but last time it was…a bit underwhelming.”
Kylo flexed his fingers out and curled them into a claw, though it was much less menacing than it was when he had actual claws. But Rey could see the glint in his eyes, the excitement that she had when she was able to unleash her own powers. She just hoped he didn’t set the whole cemetery on fire.
Luckily by 2 am Kylo had not set anything ablaze. His weak electric shock had only been able to stun the vampires at first, forcing him to use the stake, much to Rey’s satisfaction. But by the end of the night, Kylo’s lightning was much stronger, something that gave him a great deal of satisfaction.
Rey was relieved that he did not go nuts with power and went willingly with her back to the apartment after successfully slaying two vampires It was then that she was suddenly very aware of the fact that she was alone with him. She was not afraid, but for a moment, felt the brief awkwardness of expectation that she had become conditioned to feel when a man followed her into her apartment. In this case, though, it turned out that Kylo’s total disregard for any type of social mores was to her benefit, or else having him sleep on an air mattress right next to her bed would feel even more awkward. Sure, it already felt like some kind of second grade sleepover, but she imagined it would feel even more uncomfortable were Kylo a normal human man. As it was Rey wasn’t even certain what kind of predilections a Sith demon was given too.
“Okay,” said Rey. “I am exhausted, and I am opening up the gym tomorrow, so let’s go to bed.” Rey's face burned as a flush crept up her neck to her cheeks. She shook her head and sputtered. “I mean you go to your bed and I go to my…bed…sleeping place… thing…”
Kylo looked at her confused, and then back at the mattress that she was gesturing too.“Is everything all right,” he asked. “Did something make you ill?”
“Uh nothing,” said Rey hurriedly. “Nothing let’s just…I’m going to bed.”
Rey flopped down onto her mattress and opened up the window above her bed, letting in the cool night air. “Did Finn and Poe buy you appropriate jammies,” asked Rey, patting her pillow.
“I don’t know what jammies are,” said Kylo.
"Clothes you sleep in.”
"You’re sleeping in the clothes you wore today,” said Kylo.
“Because I’m a disgusting little sweat-goblin,” said Rey. “I’m assuming that Finn and Poe got you just comfortable t-shirts or shorts or something.”
“Ahh,” said Kylo his face alighting with remembrance. “Yes, they did, in fact, purchase those things.”
“I purchased those things,” muttered Rey laying her head down on the pillow and pulling up her light sheets around her body. “And don’t change in here,” she said, pointing to the bathroom. “Go to the bathroom.”
She almost laughed when Kylo sneered at her and jerked the bag up. “I was going to anyway,” he said, as he stomped to the bathroom. Rey stretched out her body as long as she could, luxuriating in the feel of finally being in her bed. She felt like she hadn’t slept in a long time. The moment she closed her eyes the familiar sensation of creeping sleep began to wrap around her mind...
“Rey, I am prepared for bed,” Kylo declared. Her body jerked from its near-sleep to find Kylo looming over her bed like a gargoyle.
“Congratulations,” said Rey turning her back to him. “Now turn off the lights.” Rey closed her eyes and waited for the blessed darkness, but behind her eyelids, she could still see the light. Without looking she reached over her shoulder and pointed toward the light switch. She heard Kylo shuffle toward the switch and then it went dark. She let out a small sight and snuggled deeper into her blankets.
Mmmm bed…bed…bed… she thought. Finally she could…
She closed her eyes tight and let out a whimper. “What…what…WHAAAAT KYLO?”
She waited for a moment, almost feeling a little bad. “What are we going to do tomorrow?”
“I’m going to wake up and open the gym, and then I’m going to train with Luke, and then get drinks with Rose to celebrate her kicking her finals ass and then I don’t know I haven’t planned beyond that.”
“Oh,” said Kylo. Rey closed her eyes and tried to settle back into sleep. Another minute or so of silence fell over before Kylo spoke again.
She breathed in deeply through her nose and out her mouth.
“What shall I do tomorrow.”
“I don’t know Kylo,” she moaned. “I haven’t planned out that far ahead yet.”
“Any other questions?”
“No,” he said and then skipped a beat. “Wait yes. Do you suppose I’ll be able to ever get home?”
Rey felt a twinge of sadness for him. That was a feeling she was familiar with; before Luke found her and brought her to America, before she had her people. She never felt like she belonged anywhere. She was always the street kid, the foster sister, the foster child, the dirty girl without clothes, and she felt like, no matter what, she just didn’t fit.
Was that how he was feeling? Even if he didn’t know it. He didn’t seem emotionally intelligent enough to be able to identify the feeling, but she imagined there was some sense of it. Why else would he have fallen in so fast with them, if not that he realized he had nowhere else to go. She rolled over and peered over the edge of the bed, and her horned and fanged roommate, his red eyes winked at her in the darkness.
“I think you will,” said Rey. “Rose is a genius, and Finn is powerful. They will find a way to do it, it just may take a little time. Kylo nodded, seemingly content with her answer. “In the meantime,” she said settling back in her bed. “You can be a temporary member of the Avengers.”
She could picture his confused face in the darkness, but, happily, he didn’t say anything. And Rey was finally able to fall asleep.
Rey could hear something in the dark, something terrifying and familiar, ahead of her she could see a green glowing light and she could hear the sickening sound of ripping. They were familiar screams, almost like the one she had dreamt about so many times before; the woman crying and her baby wailing. She steeled herself and ran toward the light, as fast as her feet would carry her. Something outside of her was compelling her to move, something thrumming in her bones told her to hurry, that soon it would be too late, that something terrible would happen. She ran toward the light but it seemed to get further and further away, even though the screams got louder.
They sounded like Luke, and Finn, and Rose, and Poe screaming for her.
“I’m coming,” she called out, only to be met by a cruel and chilling laugh. She ran harder and faster, so fast she felt her legs may fall off.
“Please,” she screamed. “Please hold on.”
“It’s too late, young Rey,” a voice cooed from the distance. “It’s far too late. My Heir to darkness has taken his place at my right hand and everything you love…will…burn.”
Rey shot up in bed and looked hurriedly around her apartment. It was silent and still and dark. No heat, no green light, no creepy, semi-pedophilic voice calling to her from the darkness. Everything was normal. Except…She knew she should trust herself. Luke always told her to trust her Slayer instincts, but the problem was she saw fucked-up things all the time, how was she supposed to know if that was a nightmare or something more.
She laid back onto the pillow, damp with her sweat. She sat up again to flip it, and paused, forgetting her nightmare and the feeling of impending doom, and covering her mouth to keep a bark of laughter from rising out of her mouth. She composed herself and looked again, and the giant demon-man laying on her hard floor on a completely deflated air mattress, one of the corners hanging from the edge of his horn.
Yeah, she thought. Should have seen that one coming.
All the same, he seemed to be sleeping fine through it, so she wouldn’t disturb him. She would take care of that tomorrow.
Chapter 6: Human Mating Dances
When Kylo stirred from his slumber, he found that he was alone and that his body was slightly achy. He moaned into a pillow and sat up, surprised to find that the cushion that had held him up before had disappeared. He tentatively pressed his palms down to find them coming up against the hard floor. He sat up and sniffed indignantly.
Oh how the mighty have fallen, he thought to himself. The Fearsome Kylo Ren reduced to sleeping on the floor like some street urchin.
He sat up and reached forward, stretching his hands upward, unkinking his odd human body. Though he did feel himself adjusting to it, gaining comfort and ease in this new skin, or old skin…he wasn’t quite certain how it all worked. He stood up and looked at Rey’s bed. Her blankets were bunched into a heap at the foot of her bed, he tentatively picked up the blankets with his thumb and forefinger and holding it up in front of him.
Sweat- Goblin indeed, he thought, before dropping the blanket back onto the foot of the bed. Kylo padded over to the kitchen, his eyes falling on a plate, holding a puffy, bready pastry, with a piece of paper tucked beneath it.
“Good morning, Kylo. I had to go open up the gym. Eat your muffin (no cats). And come find me afterward. Don’t forget Finn’s necklace.”
Ahh yes. Finn’s enchanted chain, magicked to conceal his appearance to the outside world. Kylo picked up the muffin and examined it. He held it up to his nose and sniffed. It smelled…it smelled like oats and berries…it smelled…pleasant. Kylo held the muffin up and took a bite and chewed it experimentally. On Korriban they feasted almost exclusively on meat, the idea of food being pleasant and warm, and soft was a new one. As he ate his muffin he made his way over to the bag of clothes with the neatly folded clothes inside.
While he didn’t understand the human preoccupation with clothing, he found himself warming to the different colors, fabrics, and combinations of clothes. He could see how certain items came together well, and other clashed horribly.
Finn had told him that certain combinations, with the addition of a blazer, could go from a casual look to night-time casual. He wasn’t certain what the day would hold, and whether or not the events would constitute casual wear or formal wear, though he doubted the former.
While he only had known the Slayer for a few days, she didn’t strike him as a formal type of person given her sleep habits and shoddy itinerary. He sighed and retrieved his chain, and looked at the options that lay before him. He supposed the dark trousers…or jeans as Finn called them and a three-quarter sleeves shirt, an olive shade that Finn insisted would make his “eyes pop.”
Of course, they weren’t his eyes though, were they. He wondered how Finn would have dressed him had he been working with his natural features.
By the time he dressed and finished his muffins, he could see the pink light begin to spread across the paling blue sky. It was, actually, a lovely sight, if not for all the buildings that obscured it. Korriban did not have suns like this, Korriban was, almost on its own, a Sun. Kylo checked his reflection to make sure that the chain was doing its job and concealing his fearsome countenance, before making his way down the stairs to find Rey. He was only a few steps down when he could hear it. The sound of straining, of yelling, the familiar sound of punches thrown and received.
He hurried down the stairs, toward the sound. He passed through the lobby where they had been last night, and, for the first time, into the gym. It was almost completely empty still except for across the room in the corner, an elevated platform, where Rey was pinned by a man much larger than her. Kylo was confused, Rey had strength enough to take on any human. If this one had her pinned down, if she was struggling against him he must be stronger, not human.
Before, he hadn’t understood what Rey meant when she told Luke that she wasn’t sure if she even could hurt him. But now as he felt compelled by some outside force to run to her aid, he did understand what she had meant. He leaped into the fray, taking the mand own with him onto the soft floor. He was crouched over the attacker, teeth bared menacingly, and fist raised.
It felt good to feel powerful again.
To want to kill again.
He felt like…
“Kylo, what the fuck are you doing?!”
He felt himself be flung back like a rag doll. The man kicked away from him and huddled in the corner. Kylo looked from the cowering human to Rey who was standing over him, her hands on her hips, her eyes blazing brilliantly against her flushed skin.
“I…I..” He was genuinely confused, and even more so when Rey hurried over to the man, helping him to his feet.
“Oh god,” she said. “I am so so sorry, Brian.”
“It’s alright,” he said, but he had a speculative gaze fixed on Kylo. “No harm done.”
“He’s not from around here,” said Rey, her voice weakening as she attempted to explain.
“Really,” he said. “It’s…it’s not a problem.” He shrugged and then smiled at Rey, in a way that, Kylo noted, made her flush even more, less from her exercise and more from something else. Kylo squinted. She was carrying herself different than he had ever seen; her weight on one side, hip cocked out ever so slightly. “I’m going to go cool off,” he said. “Thanks for the sparring sesh, Rey.”
She let out a laugh, an awkward, horrible laugh that made Kylo cringe slightly, but her assailant didn’t seem to mind. What was this? Some kind of odd, awkward human mating ritual? It was painful to watch, so base and ungraceful, it was all he could do to gag. The man, Brian, walked away from her, throwing one more winning smile over his shoulder. When he was well out of earshot, Rey stalked over to him, grabbed him by the shirt and jerked him up to his feet.
“Hey,” he protested. “Would you stop doing that?”
“Will you stop being an idiot?”
“…You're upsetting the fabric!”
Rey looked from his face, down to the bunched up shirt, and rolled her eyes. “Jesus,” she said. “I leave you alone with Finn for two hours.” Kylo snarled angrily at her before straightening out his shirt. “What were you thinking,” she said. “You could’ve killed him!”
“Well, I wasn’t thinking that the punching and the fighting was some sort of pre-coital mating dance.”
Rey’s mouth fell open, a strangled noise came from the back of her throat, as though she were trying to form words. She raised her hands and pressed them to either side of her head. “I…I…I…can’t… I…” she shook her head, as though in a daze.
“I don’t know why you are being so evasive,” said Kylo. “The man clearly wanted to have sex with you, you clearly want to have…”
“Shhh…” she brought her hand up and made a closing motion with her fingers.
“No…” she said, with a shake of the head.
“Uh uh…” she said. “We aren’t talking about this, Kylo. You attacked him!”
“I thought you were in trouble,” he said. “But next time I’ll just leave you to be bitten, or eaten, or possessed or whatever the hell happens to Slayers.”
“Good,” spat Rey. “That’s exactly what I want you to do.”
“Good,” he said. “Because it’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
To his surprise, Rey didn’t say anything else. She just stood there, looking up at him. After a few seconds, her countenance softened, and she took a deep breath. “Look,” said Rey. “I’m sorry. I…I forget that you’re new. You don’t know what a gym is, or…anything else about our world apparently if you think that constitutes a mating anything.” She motioned over her shoulder in the direction that Brian had gone. “He’s a…client. He comes to the gym and I train him, that’s what you saw.”
“Train him,” Kylo repeated. “And the laughing and the wild pheromones that was also a part of the training?”
“And we’re done,” she said again, clapping her hands together. “I’m going to go out to the front desk…”
“And I’ll come too?”
“Sure,” she said. “I’ll show you how to check people in and maybe you’ll be able to be of use.”
Kylo nodded and followed her as she went to exit the ring, before he bent to fit his large frame under the rope. Rey stopped and looked up at him. “Kylo,” she said. He froze. There was something particular about the way she spoke it this time; something that made him feel as though he actually was part human. She was looking up at him, a look of sincerity on her face. “Thank you,” she said with a small smile. “For…kind of saving me.”
Kylo wasn’t sure how to respond in the moment. He wasn’t used to gratitude, but then he wasn’t used to doing things that elicited gratitude. All he could think to do was offer a small nod before following her out of the room.
Rey didn’t know what was so damn frustrating about him.
Well, actually she knew exactly what was so irritating 90% of the time. It was that other 10% of irritating that really bothered her, it was 10% that was almost too hard to handle. The part that made her feel a stab of guilt after yelling at him, even for perfectly reasonable things. The part that made her want to linger just a bit on his face, the part that wanted to smile when he asked her simple, sweet questions. The part that had to suppress a smile as he bent his huge frame over the computer, and dutifully asked for the names of everyone who came in. As with breakfast and patrolling, Kylo was a quick study, proving you couldn’t be alive for a few hundred years without going around the block a couple of times.
He nodded and offered a comically large smile to everyone who came in.
“Insincerity is the heart of customer service,” said Rey. “You say hello, and you smile like they are the best thing since pizza-flavored hot pockets.”
“Hey Rey,” came a familiar voice from the doorway.
“Observe,” said Rey. Kylo nodded and leaned forward on the counter, as Rey turned toward the door, plastering her fakest of fake smiles.
“Hey Harmony,” she greeted. “Great to see you.”
“Great to see you, girl,” she said, her voice equally insincere. “How’s your morning going?”
“Oh you know,” said Rey. “It’s been busy. Just…”
“Ugh,” she interrupted. “I know! Right! I’ve been so busy since I started my own photography business.”
Rey’s lips formed a tight line, but she nodded, maintain eye contact with the shrill woman. “I didn’t know you started a business,” said Rey. “That’s so great.”
“I know,” she said, flipping her hand. “I mean we are just getting started, so it’s basically just me and my phone, but it’s such hard work.”
“But you’re up for it,” said Rey.
“Totes,” she said. “I’ve always been a go-getter. I wish I could be more like other girls, you know…content to stay at the same place for 5 years…”
“Mmmmhmmm,” said Rey, blowing past her insult. “Those girls are the worst.”
“But enough about me,” said Harmony.
“Oh god yes…” muttered Rey, but Harmony wasn’t looking at her, her blue eyes had honed in on Kylo.
“Hi,” she said, holding out her hand. “I’m Harmony, a friend of Rey’s.”
“I’m Kylo Ren,” he answered. Rey snorted at the way he said his name, his whole name, as though it were an honorary title, one to be spoken with pride. Rey shook her head, but Harmony had all but forgotten she existed. Kylo looked at her hand, at Rey, and then slowly reached out, accepting hers. Rey watched out of the corner of her eyes as Harmony’s brightly colored nails pressed against Kylo’s pale hand. Harmony had gorgeous hands, soft and manicured, and tiny. She noticed, for the first time, how huge his hands were. It shouldn’t surprise me, he was just an all-around large person, but his hands were huge, they could completely envelop Harmony’s…she shook her head, banishing the thought. She looked down at her own hands, they weren’t man hands, but…they were strong, calloused, covered in scratches, and scars. Her nails were trimmed down almost to the nub. Her hands didn’t look quite so delicate, or feminine when clasped in a man’s hand.
She wondered if Riley ever thought that, when they held hands? She shook her head, pulling herself out of that spiral and turning her attention on the spreadsheet in front of her, attempting the Herculean task of blocking out Harmony’s shrill voice.
“Are you a new hire?”
Rey mentally panicked. Shit, they hadn’t actually gone over this, how could she be so stupid?
“He’s a friend,” said Rey. “Uh…he’s from out of town. He’s just hanging out with me for a couple of weeks.”
“Oh,” said Harmony, a smile breaking out on her face. “So you’ll be around a while.”
“Uh, that remains to be seen,” said Kylo.
“He’s just trying it out for now,” said Rey. “He’ll go back home eventually."
“Okay,” said Harmony. Lucky for Rey, Harmony just may be stupid enough to buy it. “Well, I hope I can see you again, Kylo.” She leaned forward, her breasts pushing up toward the top of her low-cut tank top. Kylo, to his credit, maintained complete eye contact with her, his gaze not even blinking downward.
Of course, thought Rey. Even demons from other planets aren’t quite as sleazy as human men.
“Maybe I can show you around,” said Harmony. “Let you see the underbelly of L.A." Rey couldn’t hold back the snort of laughter this time. Harmony looked up at her, her smile turning down slightly, but remaining plastered on her face. “All right,” she said. “Well I guess I’ll go hit the Stairmaster.” She smacked a hand comically on her ass. “These glutes aren’t going to work themselves.” With that, she sauntered off toward the gym, an aggressive swing in her hips.
Kylo looked at Rey. “Why was that one so chatty?”
“Oh,” said Rey, with a shrug. “That’s just…Harmony.”
“She was quite beautiful,” said Kylo. He stated it like a fact, an obvious and observable truth, which it was, so why did it sting just a bit.
“Yeah,” said Rey with a curt nod. “She is.” Rey breathed in and looked at Kylo. “She uh…she thought you were cute too.”
Kylo’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What?”
“Uh…right…cute is probably not a thing on your demon planet. It means she thought you were hot…no... she was…” Rey struggled to find the word that existed somewhere between his formal understanding of mating and wanting to jump his bones. “Attracted to you? She found you physically attractive…yeah.”
“Oh,” said Kylo. “Well, I was a highly desired demon on Korriban.”
“I am sure you were.”
“But I wouldn’t guess that those features would translate across beings.”
“Well,” said Rey. “They did.”
Rey looked at Kylo, curiously. He seemed to be processing her words, still confused, either by her or the interaction with Harmony. “Look,” she said. “You know how you noticed the way that Brian was looking at me, and I was looking at Brian.”
“Yes,” said Kylo, slowly. “But I thought we weren’t talking about that.”
“We’re not,” said Rey. “We are 1000% not talking about it. But you noticed right.”
“Oh I think every animal in the 100-mile radius noticed it,” said Kylo. Rey’s eyes narrowed, but she continued.
“I don’t know how it works on Korriban, but when humans find another human that they think is smart, or funny, or attractive, or…you know it’s a Tuesday and there’s nothing good on TV, then we flirt.”
“Flirt…” he repeated.
“Yeah, we flirt. Women smile or touch an arm…” she absently laid her arm on Kylo’s forearm, to demonstrate. He jolted but he didn’t pull away, he just looked down at her hand and then back up to her eyes. Rey momentarily lost track of what she was saying; he was looking at her with honey-brown eyes, unassuming and open, like she could see every single emotion that would pass there, and she found herself, desperately wanting to see his real eyes, to see if they held the same vulnerability, despite their red glow. “Uh…” she shook her head. “Or she’ll lean in real close like Harmony did…” she demonstrated again, this time trying to regain a bit of control. “Or she’ll bat her eyes, like this…” she batted her eyes comically.
“Oh yes,” quipped Kylo. “I can see why that would be irresistible.”
Rey laughed, and pulled away. “Oh you’d be surprised,” she said. “When it all comes together it’s like magic. Anyway,” she said, shaking her head. “Harmony was flirting with you because she thought you were attractive…or cute.”
“And what do men do,” asked Kylo, abruptly.
“When they are flirting, what do men do?”
“Uh,” Rey thought for a moment. “Ummm…I’m not sure, you’d have to ask Finn and Poe about that. It can range from a “call me”, but in my experience, it usually consists of a dick getting rubbed up on you on the subway.”
“Oh my god,” said Kylo. “That doesn’t sound pleasant.”
“Yeah it’s not,” said Rey. “It’s not the direction I would recommend should you choose to flirt with Harmony or anyone else.”
Kylo nodded and looked back at the computer, Rey let out a relieved breath that the conversation had ended.
She spoke too soon.
“Should I have flirted back?”
“Is that what social mores demand of me,” he said. “That when a female flirts with me, that I flirt back? I know you all are very strict about appropriate decorum.”
Rey let out a snort of a laugh and shrugged. “If you think a girl is cute,” she said. “Then flirt away.”
“So if I think she’s funny, smart, attractive, or if there’s nothing good on TV, I should flirt?”
“Yeah…” she said. “Go for it, Kylo Ren.”
Kylo looked to be chewing on her words for a moment before turning back to her. “Rey,” he said. “Harmony was aesthetically pleasing…”
“Yeah,” said Rey, annoyance biting at her voice. “You said that…”
“But…I didn’t want to flirt with her…” Rey actively bit back her smile, there was that 10% again. That 10% that was the most infuriating thing about him, the thing that made her feel a slight surge of giddy joy.
“Then you shouldn’t,” she said. She wanted to say more but she wasn’t sure what, exactly. But that seemed to satisfy him for the moment, and this conversation was becoming…uncomfortable for her. This was not her area of expertise. Attraction, flirtation, men…she wasn’t good at any of it. The necessities of her job made it hard, and with Riley the necessities of her job had been…
She shook her head again, beating back thoughts of Riley. She looked back over at Kylo who was typing at the computer, delighting himself with the wonders of photoshop. After going over his new “answer” for when someone asked who he was and why he was there, and after the rush of the midday lunch crowd, a group of people that Rey found fundamentally untrustworthy for their willingness to use their lunchtime to go to the gym, Luke finally arrived for her training.
More than most this training session crawled by, with exercises, sparring, and meditations, frequently interrupted by peaking out into the lobby to assure that Kylo was still there.
“Sure that’s a good idea,” asked Luke, shooting a worried gaze out toward the lobby.
“Well, he’s already better than the loser you hire who come to work high on their second day.”
“Well they aren’t demon lords,” said Luke, gripping the body pad tightly in front of him. “So perhaps we shouldn’t compare our hiring histories.”
Rey threw a punch at the pad, sending him stumbling back slightly. He recovered and widened his stance, waving her forward. Rey turned onto her right leg and sent a hard sidekick into the middle of the pad
“He is more annoying than anything else,” she breathed. “He’s like a giant man toddler Gotta keep your eye on him. Can’t give him unsupervised galivanting privileges, but other than that…” She stopped her onslaught of short punches when she noticed the look that Luke had fixed her with. She breathed in deep and dropped her hands. “What, Luke?”
Luke made a defensive face and shook his head. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Yeah, but you want to, and I’d rather not hear, “I told you so” even if you never really told me so.”
Luke sighed and dropped the matt. “Look,” he said. “I just…I don’t understand what’s happening right now. You have killed so many demons without blinking.”
“No," said Rey. “I have killed many vampires without blinking. Demons I take on a one-on-one basis. For Christ’s sake Luke, you had fucking D’Hoffryn over for a damn turkey dinner…”
“That was different,” he said. “That was to broker a peace deal, and avoid an apocalypse…the circumstances were different, as you well know.”
“Master Luke the circumstances are always different,” she said. “That’s the whole game isn’t it, figuring out which times the circumstances require me to kill and which ones they don’t. And in this circumstance, he hasn’t killed anyone. He has a mother. He has a soul. He just wants to go home, and he…”
“He’s a hunk,” asked Luke.
“Eww,” said Rey, flopping down to sit on the matt. “First, no one says that anymore Luke…and no…I don’t make decisions using my ovaries.”
“Good,” said Luke, with a nod, taking a seat next to Rey on the mat. “I’m fairly certain that’s why all the Slayers are women.” Rey let out a small laugh and looked down at the tape peeling away from her knuckles. “Rey,” said Luke, his voice growing softer. “I…I don’t want you to think I don’t trust you. You just…you…you mean a lot to me.”
Rey felt a spark of warmth in her chest, replacing the growing annoyance.
Ugh, she thought. You’re so weak, Rey. Give you the slightest amount of familial affection and BAM you turn into a puddle.
“You’re special,” he said.
Rey scoffed. “No, I’m not. I’m the Slayer. I’m on an assembly line when I die there will be one just like me.”
“No,” said Luke, shaking his head. “That’s not what I meant. You…as in Rey. You’re special.” Rey swallowed hard and stared down at her hands, not wanting to look Luke in the eyes for fear it would betray her emotions. “I’ve seen a lot of Slayers, Rey. I’ve met more than I wish I had. Most of them…they lose themselves in the Slayer role, they distance, and push away, and isolate. They aren’t bad girls, it’s just…it comes with the territory. But you…” he stopped and nudged her slightly. “You’ve kept your humanity in a way I’ve never seen. At the end of the day, you’re still Rey. And you’re still very…very human.”
Rey looked at Luke, finally; her question hanging in her eye. “Luke,” she said. “I don’t…I don’t know any other way to be.”
“I know,” he said. “And I don’t want you to change. I don’t want you to lose that. But it just means you’ll have to be more careful than most. You have compassion and empathy and those are good things, but they can also get in the way of the work you have to do. And I don’t want…I don’t want it to destroy you.”
Rey nodded and tucked her hair behind her ear. She forgot sometimes, how much she truly loved Luke, how much he had meant to her, how much he had given her. She had been lost, a starving street rat without a family until Luke took her off the streets, told her of the possible role she had to play in the world. But more than that he gave her a place to belong. If not for him, she never would have ended up in L.A. She never would have met Finn, Rose and Poe. When she remembered those things, it made it hard for her to stay irritated with him.
“I know,” she said, softly. “I know you’re looking out for me, but, Luke…” she looked at him intently, and then past him toward the lobby. “I really don’t know how to explain it but…he needs me. He is all alone. And I know that feeling, it’s a shitty feeling. And somehow I just feel it in my bones that I’m supposed to help him.”
Luke sighed heavily, but he nodded. “Okay,” he said. “I trust you Rey. I just…I hope this goes the way you think.”
Rey nodded and snaked her arm under Luke’s, holding his hand. She laughed when she felt him tense. Luke loved her, she knew that, but he wasn’t particularly warm or affectionate, and she could always feel his slight discomfort when she expressed her love for him. But he indulged her all the same.
They sat in silence for a moment before Rey spoke again. “But I really doesn’t hurt that he’s so fucking hot.”
Luke detached himself from her and threw her look of mock disgust.“Get out of here,” he said shoving her aside. Rey laughed and stood up.
“What? You’re the one who thinks he’s a hunk!”
“I never said I thought he was…now get out of here.”
“Will do,” said Rey. “I’m going out with Rose tonight to celebrate her kicking her midterms ass.”
Luke nodded. “Good, I’m glad one of you is getting a proper education.”
Rey shrugged. “Yeah…Rose is the good one.”
“So true,” agreed Luke. “Where are you taking your toddler, demon-man?”
“He is going to stay with Poe and Finn tonight.”
“And they are amenable to that?”
“Yeah as long as he promised not to eat their cat.”
Chapter 7: BB Loves Kylo
Kylo was under strict instructions from Rey to stay put and to listen to Finn and Poe. When she saw him balk at the idea of being ordered about, she reminded him of his precarious place in the world, of the important role that Finn would play in helping restore him to his former glory. It was this reminder and the threatening glint int her eye that made him go without grumbling.
“Where will you be,” he asked, when she knocked on Finn’s door.
“I’m taking Rose out to celebrate.”
“What are you celebrating?”
“She finished a lot of important tests,” she said, dismissively. Kylo was beginning to pick up on the things that were important for him to know and the things that were not. The things that weren’t important for him to know, Rey gave short curt explanations. That was fine. His interest in the human world was fleeting at best.
“And you will be leaving me here,” he asked, pointing at the door.
“Yes,” she said. “You will stay here and I will go see Rose.”
“And you’ll come back and get me tomorrow?”
“Yes,” she said, nodding her head. “I’ll be back tomorrow morning.” She knocked on the door again, harder this time. They could hear Finn muttering from the other side of the door, brief conversation and then Finn opened the door.
“Hey,” he said. “Come on in.”
“Nope,” said Rey, giving Kylo a slight push into the house. “I’m already late. Have fun,” she yelled over her shoulder, running back down to her car, leaving Kylo standing with Finn.
“I’ve been told that I am under strict instructions not to leave the house on my own.”
“Good,” said Finn with a nod. “Good, that’s a good rule of thumb for the night…”
“Also, not to eat your cat.” Kylo forced his way into the house, now somewhat familiar territory. It made him feel less vulnerable, less foolish to at least have a basic lay of the land. He was once endowed with the power to cross-dimensions, and now he could not leave a house without the say-so of a human witch. “Where is your mate?”
“Uh…Poe is on his way, he just was stopping to get us Thai food.”
“Thai food,” Kylo repeated slowly. “What animal is that?”
“Uh no kind,” said Finn hurriedly. “Thailand is a place, like L.A. and they have their own style of cooking.”
“Fascinating,” said Kylo. “It’s on earth?” He sat experimentally on the chair where Rey had slept just two nights ago. He wasn’t certain, but he thought, perhaps, that he could still smell traces of her on the fabric.
“Yeah,” said Finn, still standing a safe distance from him.
“Why do you have so many different ways to prepare food?”
Finn slowly walked toward him and sat on the couch. “Uh well, it’s because there are a lot of types of people, they have their own cultures and food is a part of that.”
“Trolls like to eat mortal babies,” said Kylo. “Like that?”
Finn looked visibly disturbed. “Uh well no, not on earth anyway.”
“I look forward to trying this new food. Korriban is far more limited in their…” Kylo’s sentence was interrupted by the sudden and unexpected force of something landing in his lap. He raised his claws ready to strike at the unexpected attacker. But he froze at the familiar orange creature in his lap. “Oh hello there.”
“Sorry,” said Finn, moving to scoop up BB, no doubt to hurry him to safety. But Kylo held up his hand, stopping. He watched, curiously, as the feline stretched and flexed his tiny paws, releasing the razored claws and moving his paws up and down on his legs before curling into a ball in his lap.
“What is it doing?”
“He uh…he likes you.” Kylo flexed out his own fingers, similarly, assuring his own claws were retracted. He slowly lowered his own palm and patted the feline on its round, vibrating body. “Do you…do you have pets in Korriban?”
Kylo leaned in closer to the orange mound in his lap, listening to the strange sound emanating from the cat’s throat. “No,” he said. “No pets, no attachments except for the ones that satisfy in a carnal way.”
“Ahh gotcha,” said Finn. “Yeah that’s not a pet.”
“So pets are not for eating or for carnal pleasure, why do you have them?”
Kylo removed his hand from the BB’s back, prompting her to look up at him with eyes both pleading and demanding at once. Slowly he lowered his hand back down and once again began to run it over BB’s back until he curled his head back into its chest.
“Oh my god,” said Finn, reaching into his pocket. “Don’t move!”
Kylo froze, but he didn’t pull his hand away from BB lest he look at him again with that heartbreaking look of betrayal. Finn moved in front of him, holding the small glowing rectangle…phone, Rey had called it a phone… in his hand.
“Look at this…” He turned the phone toward Kylo so he could see the frozen image of himself, hornless and brown-eyed, with BB curled up in a painfully adorable position, his paw tucked over his eyes. Kylo felt only a slightly familiar stirring in his chest. He remembered the sight of the human babies, wailing in the Citadel; fat and wiggly. Such a sight made normal demons of Korriban excited with hunger, but it tugged at something altogether more disturbing in his…well…soul apparently.
“It’s cute as hell is what it is,” said Finn. “I’m sending it to Rey and Rose.”
“Wait…wait,” said Kylo, as BB stirred in his lap, a tiny little blrrp escaping from behind his pointed teeth. “Take another,” he said. “BB just yawned and rolled over.”
As Rey gathered the drinks from the bar, she felt her phone vibrate like crazy in her back pocket. She maneuvered her way through the bustling Cantina to the small table in the back where Rose was sitting, looking at her own phone with an adorable open-mouthed smile.
“Oh my god,” she said as Rey sat across from her. Rose held out her phone to her and let out a small squeal. “Look at this!”
Rey reared her head back from the phone. “Yeah it’s BB, we get a thousand pictures a day from Finn and Poe.”
Rose looked at her phone and then quickly swiped to the next photo. “No, this one!”
Rey wanted to scoff, to roll her eyes, to be above whatever it stirred inside her to see BB sitting in Kylo’s lap, his ridiculously huge hands covering the cat, his intent eyes fixed on BB’s face, as though thoroughly invested in whether or not the cat was comfortable, the sharp angles of his face accentuated by Finn’s practiced hand.
“Ughh,” she moaned, swiping up her glass and taking a long drink, enjoying the burning sensation for a moment before it disappeared. “Can we not talk about the giant weirdo who has made my life incredibly complicated. Besides,” she said. “We are here to celebrate you kicking your finals in the ass…”
“Yeah yea yeah,” she said. “I know I’m a horrible feminist who would rather talk about your sexy new roommate and not about codes and cybercrimes.”
“Not my roommate,” she said. “My temporary, ensouled-demon border!”
“Does he sleep like a normal human?”
“I guess,” she said. “Except he deflated my air mattress with his damn demon horns.”
“Was it weird,” asked Rose, leaning forward, “having a huge, strange man in your teeny, tiny apartment?”
“No,” she said. “Somehow his awkwardness cancels out all other potential awkwardness.”
“Sure,” she said. “But it doesn’t cancel out that he’s a hot guy in your apartment and you haven’t had one since…” Her voice trailed off as though catching herself.
“It’s fine,” said Rey with a shrug. “You can say his name, I won’t turn into a blubbering mess at the sound of it.”
“It’s just he’s the last guy you’ve had any type of…”
“Rose,” she said. “Kylo is a demon, not a potential fuck.”
“Part demon,” said Rose. “And who says there’s no overlap? I promise there are online communities devoted entirely to demon-fucking. Maybe it would be good for you to bang one of out of your system with someone who’s going to go to a different dimension in a few months. No strings attached with someone you won’t fall in love with.”
“I wasn’t in love…” Rey couldn’t even finish the lie. She had been in love with Riley, desperately. She would have done anything for him, had done too much for him. It had been a process of losing herself, breaking off little parts of herself, all because she loved him so much. She looked up when she felt Rose’s soft hand on hers.
“I’m sorry,” said Rose. “Forget I said anything.” She grabbed her drink. “I honestly just thought I saw a little spark when you punched that boy in the face. But if you say it’s not there, then I believe you.”
“Spark of annoyance,” she muttered.
And understanding. He was different, he didn’t belong anywhere. He was human but not human, and lonely because of that. She understood that in a way that she was always to afraid to express to her friends. They loved her dearly, supported her and sacrificed so much for her. And yet, there were times, even with them, that she felt so lonely; like no matter how much they loved her, they would never really know her.
Not to mention the ridiculous pesky bond that she inexplicably felt with him.
“Fine,” said Rose, finishing off her drink and standing up. “I’m feeling nice and lose and ready to go find a cute guy to go sweat on!”
Rey quickly tossed back her own drink and let Rose drag her out onto the dance floor, ready to dance away thoughts of red-flaming eyes.
Kylo was pleased to sleep in a bed that night in a bed more suited to his body, one that would not be deflated by his horns and one that he didn’t hang off the end of. He liked the blankets at their home, and he liked Thai food. But, all the same, he felt an unfamiliar anxiety through the whole of the night, something nagging at the back of his mind, something sitting heavily in the pit of his stomach.
It wasn’t until he was in bed, tucked beneath the blanket that he realized, with great embarrassment, that he missed Rey. He bared his teeth and growled as though to chase the shameful inkling away. But it remained fixed.
He wondered what she was doing. Who she was speaking with, what she was saying, what she was talking about.
Dammit mother, he thought. Death would be preferable to this. Being a human was embarrassing, stupid, and sentimental. He had gained nothing from his human soul save the need for protection.
A creak from across the room brought him out of his thoughts and he shot up in bed. He peered into the dark. There was no one there, but the door was opening.
BB leapt onto the bed and sauntered up the blanket, over Kylo’s legs and onto his stomach.
Kylo laid back down slowly, not wanting to disrupt BB’s slumber. He still did not know the purpose of pets. It had not been adequately explained. He was beginning to wonder if there even was a purpose for pets, but the small weight on chest, vibrating against him, was not unpleasant, and, somehow, he didn’t miss Rey quite so much.
Chapter 8: A Party at Harmony's
Rey wasn’t certain what to expect when she returned to Finn and Poe’s to gather her demon charge. Since the only text that she received the night before were pictures of Kylo Ren and BB she doubted very much that anything catastrophic had occurred. But given the situation and their penchant for bad luck, she was relieved to see the house still intact and nothing set aflame.
When she opened the front door she was immediately met by the overwhelming scent of bacon and the sound of Kylo having an extremely one-sided conversation with what she could only assume was a ghost or a fellow demon until she turned the corner and peaked in.
There was no ghost and no demon save the one, a demon that apparently committed to the one meal he knew how to make. He was in the middle of cracking what looked to be his nine or tenth egg into the pot based on the plate piled high with scrambled eggs.
“It seems that these animals are appropriate to eat, but do not be afraid BB…” Rey leaned in closer getting a more full view of the kitchen and the second plate filled with bacon, to which BB was happily helping himself. “You are not on the approved list of edible animals. So you will not be joining these unfortunates.” Rey bit her lip, hiding the bubbling laughter as Kylo turned and hoisted another row of sizzling bacon onto the plate. “Now don’t eat these, BB,” he instructed. “They are very hot and will burn your mouth and I was given explicit instructions not to harm you.” He picked up a strip of cooler bacon and laid it on the counter in front of BB. “You like mortal food don’t, you BB? I wonder why you would need your own food then if mortal food is sufficient.”
“Because mortal food makes his poop runny.”
Kylo whipped around, spatula still in hand. “Rey,” he said. “You’ve returned.”
“I have returned,” she said mimicking him. “Returned to take you with me to the gym.”
“Of course,” he said. “But breakfast first. As you can see I made enough for you.”
She raised an eyebrow and stepped over to the counter. “I can see that,” she said. “You’ve made enough to feed a small army.”
He snorted. “Nonsense. I’ve commanded the forces of Korriban and this meager meal would not be enough to sate their hunger.”
“My mistake,” she said, popping a piece of bacon into her mouth. He moved to grab another egg and Rey instinctively reached out and grabbed his wrist to stop him. She should pull away, there was no reason for her hand to linger there, to be burned by too-hot skin, no reason for her to momentarily lose herself in the way her hand naturally fell there. She looked up briefly and immediately felt her face flush for the way he was looking down at her. It was nothing, she knew that, except that whatever was happening between them meant that every moment was weighted with something…some ineffable something. Plus, there was a certain gravitas in the way an ancient demon with smoldering red eyes looked at you.
“Uh…that’s enough,” she said, her voice slightly strained. She pulled away but refused to look back up at him. “I think you’ve made enough to feed Poe and Finn for a few weeks.”
He slowly dropped the egg back in the carton and nodded. “Very well,” he said. He turned the stove off and dutifully gathered the food onto their plates, before turning to BB. “BB don’t eat all of the bacon before your fathers awaken.”
Rey rolled her eyes and gagged. “Eww,” she said. “Don’t call them his father.”
Kylo looked at her confused. “But Finn repeatedly called it BB his baby. Obviously, I do not imagine that they gave birth to a different species, but perhaps this is some sort of cross-species adoption that…”
“No their actual child,” said Rey, shaking her head. “Don’t encourage it.”
Kylo shrugged and nodded. “Very well, but I do think things would be far easier to follow if you all would say exactly what you mean.”
Rey snorted and nodded. “Won’t argue with you there. Now let’s head out. I’m sure Poe and Finn will be up soon and will be oh so pleased to see the state of their kitchen.”
She almost reached out to push him out of the kitchen, but she froze for a moment, not wanting to press her hand against the black fabric of the t-shirt stretched across his massive frame. She dropped her hands and clearer her throat. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s go.”
Kylo nodded and gave BB a final pat on the head before following Rey out the door.
Every time Kylo felt that he was making progress in this strange new world, something happened that threw him off. He understood now that nakedness was unacceptable in most places. He understood which animals to eat and which ones were off limits. He understood that smiling and saying hello put people at ease, even if it was insincere. He understood that people coming in and out of the gym were coming to work out, to train their bodies but not for battle or war, but for health and vanity.
What he did not understand was the way Rey had behaved when she had touched him this morning, or why she pulled away in such an odd way as though she had done something wrong. He did not understand the look in her eyes when she pulled away, and he did not understand why the retraction of her cool touch felt such a loss. He dearly hoped that Finn would find a way to get him home soon; this mortal place was a bad influence on his atrophied soul.
He watched as Rey greeted the different people who entered the gym. He watched her smile, catching the ones that were forced and the ones that were genuine, even a few of the little ones who ran around the desk, all presumption and laughs, to wrap their arms around her legs. Rey’s smile was incredibly genuine in those cases. Kylo for his own part, kept his distance from children, but did enjoy popping into different dimensions and aiding the younglings there in pranks and mischief. The only pure emotion that demons of his kind encountered was fear, and there was something that drew him to the unbridled joy. It was a secret shame, one he dared not tell his fellow demons that now, quite suddenly, made sense.
Rey was about to show him how to use the glowing box, a computer he learned, when Harmony’s unmistakable voice caused her to visibly tense beside him.
“You don’t like her,” said Kylo, not a question. He knew the answer. She sshed him and looked up from the computer.
“Keep it down,” she scolded.
Facts, it seemed were also unwelcome.
“Hey Harmony,” she said. “Thanks for stopping in.”
Kylo saw Rey’s smile fall slight when instead of heading straight for the door, Harmony sashayed to the desk. “Hey Rey,” she greeted before leaning over the edge. “Hey Kylo,” she said. Her teeth were very white, and very bright, he couldn’t tell if her smile was sincere or insincere, he wondered if it was possible to be both. “So cool that you’re still hear.”
“I saw you yesterday,” he said. “Where would I have gone in that time?”
Harmony threw her head back, tossing her hair back wildly as she did. “Oh my god, you’re so funny.”
Kylo looked at Rey briefly to see if that was a good thing or a bad thing in this case. But Rey was avidly avoiding making eye contact with Harmony or him, though he would have to be blind to miss the not so subtle clench of her jaw.
“You should totally come to our party tonight at Kappa Delta Kappa.” Kylo was unfamiliar with the sensation of feeling overwhelmed, but that was the most appropriate description of his current emotions. He knew many languages, knew many words, but that particular combination was lost on him. He looked, almost beseechingly at Rey, who was clicking furiously at the computer. She sighed and turned to Kylo.
“Do you want to go to a party, Kylo,” s “Oh come on it’ll be so fun,” said Harmony, going up onto her toes and leaning further over the desk, squeezing his forearm. “Drinking, dancing….”
“Wait,” said the girl behind Harmony who looked up from her phoen for the first time since she and Harmony left the gym. “I thought they canceled the party because of all the…”
Harmony snorted and shook her head. “Sure, it’s canceled on the books, but since when has Kappa Delta let a few disappearances rain on their parade…”
Kylo was bored of Harmony, bored of the way she spoke and the tenor of her voice that ended each sentence as though it were a question. He was about to say as much, when Rey suddenly interested in the conversation, looked up.
“Uh…at Gamble-Grant University?”
Harmony looked torn for a moment, between her desire to keep chatting with her Kylo and her desire to be away from Rey.
“Yeah,” she said, a small sneer in her voice. “I mean you’re welcome to come too, Rey. I just know college was never really your thing, I mean you’ve been working at this gym since you were 15 and seemed pretty content to stay there.”
“Uh huh, you’re right,” she said, with an absent nod. “I really should apply myself…but that was Kappa Delta that had disappearances?”
“Yeah,” said Harmony, her pink bottom lip sticking out a bit as she turned to look at Kylo once again. “So having someone big and strong like Kylo around to make sure I’m safe will make it so much more fun.”
“You’re absolutely right,” said Rey nodding her head. “We will be there.”
Harmony twitched ever so slightly, the twitch of ones whose plans just slipped out of reach. “Great,” she said her voice clipped. “We will see you tonight then.”
“Great,” said Rey, not bothering hide what Kylo could only call a wicked smile. Harmony turned and walked out of the gym, giving her hair another dramatic toss as she did.
When she was safely out of earshot, Kylo turned to Rey. “Why are we going to that party?”
“Because,” said Rey. “Disappearances, Kylo!” She threw the back of her hand at him, smacking him lightly on the shoulder. “That’s our jam!”
“Yeah! You see, the people in this area live in this carefully constructed state of denial, it’s the only way to deal with the abnormal amount of deaths, disappearances, vampire sitings, and dismemberments that happen here. Like everyone knows something weird is going on but no one wants to pull at the thread.”
“I’m confused again,” said Kylo.
“It’s a monster! Or a demon! Or a vampire!”
“And that’s why we have to go the party.”
“That’s right, Kylo,” she said, doing a little bob of excitement. “Time to spread your wings…”
He sneered at her comment. “I have no wings,” he said coldly.
“Well yeah,” she said. “Neither do I. It’s figurative wings.”
“I had wings,” he said, sullenly. “Mighty wings that took me to the highest of…”
“Bye, Janica,” called Rey, her voice high and loud covering up Kylo’s lamenting. “Would you tone down the wing talk,” she scolded.
“You brought it up,” he said.
“Fair enough, just bemoan the fact that you’re now a flightless bird on the inside.” She growled. “Now I just have to prepare to see Harmony twice in one day. It’s the kind of thing you think will happen to other people, never too you.”
“Why is she your enemy,” he asked. “And why have you not vanquished her?”
Rey looked up at the ceiling as though beseeching the heavens. “Oh I’ve thought about it Kylo, believe me. But apparently Luke says it’s an abuse of my power to use them on humans or some shit like that.”
“What is the nature of your disagreement with her?”
Rey shrugged and flopped back down into her spinny chair beside him. “We went to High School together,” she said. She paused for a moment as though that would be enough of an explanation, Kylo waited patiently for her to realize that it was, in fact, an insufficient amount of information. “Oh right,” she said. “I doubt you ever went through an awkward high school stag, all pimpled and dirty-clothed and late to all of your classes because Luke has you out until 3 am in a nasty-ass graveyard.”
“Yes,” he said. “That’s not an experience I am familiar with.”
“Well Harmony was a big bully in our high school,” she said. “Like classic mean girl. She was terrible to Finn and tortured Rose. When Luke first brought me here, she tried to pull some of the same shit with me so I broke her nose. Without,” she added, “despite what Luke would say, without Slayer powers. It was a good old fashion, clean, fair right hook. And we’ve been enemies ever since.”
Kylo nodded. “So you did vanquish her,” he said.
“Well not permanently,” she said. “But she stopped leaving week old food in Rose’s locker after that so I like to think it was my first successful slaying.”
Kylo didn’t know why, as he did not understand humor or puns, but something about the glint in her eyes when she said, the ever so small glimpse into what Rey was like as a child, made him, ALMOST, think about smiling.
Chapter 9: Ouija Boards are Not Toys
*TW* Mention of failed attempted assaulted at the very end of the chapter*
Rey immediately felt ridiculous when she showed up to the party with Kylo Ren in tow. But in this case, he didn’t look ridiculous, she did. Finn always told her, lovingly, that she lacked home-training, along with any sense of how to dress herself, what colors are flattering and how to, generally, behave like a grown-up in the world. She broke his heart daily with her color pallets of sand, muted blues, and the occasional white when she was feeling daring.
Not that she didn’t understand pressure, responsibility or hard work, but just…the basics. Being a Slayer meant that she would likely never make it to a 401k so why bother with one. It was not that she resented it as a basic life-style choice. When Rose wasn’t up to her ears in books, she was every bit a feminine goddess, open faced and kind-hearted. Rey still texted Cordelia, her high-school enemy turned ally, who taught her how to use hair products and did her makeup for graduation.
It just wasn’t something that came naturally to her. She was always just a little too much; too rough, too angry, too volatile, too everything for normal people, too inconsistent but also, at the same time, not enough to be the Slayer. It’s why they got in trouble with the Watcher’s Council; she wasn’t focused enough, she wasn’t isolated enough, she wasn’t discerning enough, too childish to be the Slayer. It was an exhausting feeling.
And now as she crossed the threshold into the house, packed with sweating, horny bodies many of whom she recognized from high school, that feeling was heightened, if for no other reason by the hulking, well-dressed demon beside her who was drawing more than a few stares from both men and women alike.
“It’s very loud,” he yelled down at her. “And there are so many people.”
“Yeah,” she said. “That’s a college party for you.”
“I do not care for it.”
She snorted and shouldered her way through the crowd, using a bit more strength than necessary but it go the job done. But not as easily as the sound of Harmony’s high-pitched voice from across the room, people parted like the red sea as she darted across the rec room toward them and with all the gall of a white girl still living off of her daddy she threw herself into him as though they were the best of friends. Kylo looked utterly offended as the already inebriated Harmony hung on him instead of shrinking away in fear, even with the charm, Rey could see Kylo’s eyes blazing beneath the glamor, the red eating away at the gold-dappled brown.
Rey did, to her credit pause and fix Kylo with a wide-eyed warning.
Do not kill her.
Do not claw at her.
Do not lightening her to the pits of hell.
“Everyone this is my friend, Kylo,” said Harmony, stumbling drunkenly into his chest. “He’s from Europe or something.”
“Yup,” said Rey, roughly pulling Harmony away before Kylo’s patience wore even thinner. “Europe is right. I’m going to show him…”
“No…no…no,” said Harmony. “I can look after him for you. You should go and…” she let out a drunken, burst of laughter. “Mingle. See if any guys here catch your eye since Mr. Marine went away…” Rey breathed in, reminding herself that Harmony was currently drunk, and she didn’t punch drunk girls, no matter how bitchy they were. Plus, honestly, Harmony may be more amenable to helping them with Kylo doing the distracting, but, all the same, it turned her stomach in knots to watch the way she pawed at him. While some, she imagined, was likely some mix of jealousy and horniness that she was choosing to ignore at this juncture in her life, the rest of it was bigger than that, going deeper to feelings of empathy, as though she could somehow feel his deep anger, his discomfort, his feelings of disbelonging in a strange new world.
Before Rey could respond Kylo ducked out from under Harmony’s arms and moved around her toward her.
“I’d rather spend my evening with Rey,” he said, and without further explanation or apology he turned toward her and motioned that he was ready to continue following her. She nodded, dumbly, and looked away, hoping that there was no sign of the small tinge of heat she felt from his words, how absolute and intimate they sounded. But then that was just the way he spoke.
She cleared her throat. “Come on,” she said, motioning for him to follow her.
“She is an unusually presumptuous female,” he said.
Rey nodded. “Yup, that’s Harmony. Most of us aren’t so bad though,” she said, waving in return to a young man that she recognized but couldn’t recall his name. “Most of the people here are just trying to have fun and down the existential dread that comes with having to drop 75,000 on an education you may never use so…”
Kylo didn’t respond, but now seemed to be simply taking in the sight; the dancing, the food, the drinks, the people. If she was overstimulated she couldn’t imagine what he was feeling. Soon they were able to break through the crowd and into the backyard.
“Okay,” said Rey. “I’m going to go ask around and see if anyone has heard anything about the disappearances,” she said. “If there’s anything connecting them or…”
“I think we should start upstairs,” he said.
Rey turned and looked at him, suspicious. “Why?”
“Because there seems to be a convergence of dark energy there.”
Rey raised an eyebrow. “You can tell?”
“I am a demon,” he said. “Part demon anyway, so I suppose the demon part still recognizes it.”
Rey cocked her head to the side. “Huh,” she said. “Like a blood-hound!”
“No, not at all,” she said turning and heading back to the house. “If your demon-senses are tingling let’s start there.”
It was in fact, incredibly convenient. They fought there way back in. Rey could see out of the corner of her eye that Harmony was pouring herself another drink and was distracting herself with a college frat boy who was more than happy to ply her with more alcohol.
They pushed past lip-locked couples who didn’t quite make it up the stairs to the bedrooms yet and stepped over those already passed out. The stairs led to the second floor, and two hallways that wrapped around formed a square lined with several closed doors.
“Okay,” said Rey. “I’ll go this way.” She pointed to her right. “You go that way. If the rooms have naked people just ignore them and keep poking around.” His face twisted with distaste but he nodded.
“And what should I do should I happen on something demonic or odd.”
“Kill it,” she said. “Unless you have moral issues with it.”
“None at all,” he said. “But I thought perhaps as finnicky as you were about the cats and pigs for breakfast you may have specific instructions for the disposal.”
“Fair enough,” she said. “Well, if possible keep it low-key. I’d rather not cause a panic.”
“God forbid,” he said, turning to follow the length of the hallway.
Rey wondered about the wisdom of sending him out alone, but what was the worse that could happen? He was a mere yards away from her. If he was going to make himself useful in whatever time he was on earth, she needed to get started. It wasn’t like she wasn’t thrown into the deep end when she started, and she didn’t have the benefit of being a powerful, ancient demon, surely that guaranteed some level of being able to take care of himself.
Rey opened the first door; just a bathroom. She gave it the once over, checking cabinets and behind the curtain. She sniffed the air and focused her Slayer senses. Nothing.
The second room. Nothing.
The third room, a couple in the throws who shot up in bed and covered themselves on her forced entry. She apologized and hurriedly searched the room for any sign of what Kylo had so aptly dubbed a convergence of darkness.
The fourth room.
It seemed normal at first; normal enough that someone who wasn’t a slayer or a demon may easily stumble past it. Luke always told her to trust her nose, that she would be able to smell something before she could see it when it came to underworld nasties and demonly creatures. He was right. She stepped into the quiet room and flicked on the light. It was a mess, unwashed clothes were strewn about, the sheets and blankets were wadded together in the middle of the bed, and the vanity table was covered in open containers of lipstick and concealer.
Beside the bed was an open diary. She respected privacy on principal, but, at times, others things were more important. The page it was open to was barely legible, scrawling angry slashes covered the pages, along with drawings of people with their eyes and mouths scratched out. She flipped back a page, and another and another.
Over and over and over again, three pages before that-
I can’t kill it.
She gave a cursory glance to a few more pages but they carried nothing more than the fears and stresses of a sophomore in college. Rey shut it and lay it back down on the bedside table. She crossed the room to the open closet. She scanned the floor and then the top shelf.
“Fuck,” she muttered, with an exasperated eyeroll. “Of fucking course.” She retrieved the Ouija board from its hiding place. It had slashes over it, the edges were discolored as though someone had tried to burn it. “What are they like 12,” she muttered. She took the board and broke it over her knee, easily splintering the wood. Though she knew that wouldn’t do anything. Ouija board were children’s games, they called over mischievous demons at worst, but nothing that would cause the disappearance of three college students. Unless something else hitched a ride with it.
“Ohh…you broke my toy.” Rey barely had time to turn when a fist slammed hard into her face, sending her crashing back into the open closet, a girl stood over her. Her body turned and bent in awkward angles, her eyes a chasm of black. “How rude.”
Rey stood up. “I’m rude,” she said. “You’re the one living rent free inside a girl who just wanted to play with Ouija boards.”
“I told her I was her dead grandmother,” laughed the demon inside the girl.
“Pathetic,” said Rey. “Are you proud of yourself.” She punched the girl in the face, sending the demon reeling back. She didn’t want to do permanent damage, but getting a demon out of a host body was a tricky business. “Do you think your parents are proud of you?” The demon lunged at her but Rey jumped up to meet her with a flying kick to the chest. The girl crashed into the wall, sending the pictures and mirrors that hung there shattering to the floor. “Girl is just trying to get an education and now she’s gonna need a hell of a lot of therapy.”
“She won’t survive,” the demon returned as it stood. It lunged at her again, teeth bared and claws ready. Rey dropped low to the ground and grabbed the girl by the ankle, jerking her to the ground. The demon howled and kicked and clawed, but it was not enough to dismount Rey as she straddled it.
“I’m sorry,” she said, to whoever the girl is. “Don’t take it personally.” Her hands clamped around her throat, holding her still. It wasn’t the best way, but it was one way to expel these inhospitable demons who enter uninvited. The invited ones require a spell, but these sneaky ones can be expelled if their home is deprived of oxygen.
The demon clawed at her arms, her face, but her grip held firm. She was careful not to crush anything, but she could see bruises forming beneath the skin. “Come on,” she urged. “Get the fuck out of here.” Finally she could see the color of the girls eyes return as the demon eeked out of her. She let go immediately as the demon materialized in front of her. He was small, much smaller than Kylo and a lot more inline with what she had come to expect from demons- and not a hint of a soul on him. Rey grinned up at him, and pounced.
The demon grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her out of the room into the hallway, crashing hard into the railing. She could hear the wood splinter and fall. She looked down. No one had noticed, it was too loud and they were all too drunk. She regained her balance and threw herself back, landing a punch of her own, then another and another. It felt good.
It felt right.
It was always a part of her that Luke, for his part, had tried to discourage. Something that, sometimes, she was afraid of. She liked the feel of it, the pressure on her knuckles, the tearing of skin. Luke warned her that we all ran the risk of becoming like the things that linger in the dark, and she was afraid that she toed the line far more often than Luke, or she cared to admit.
She was thrown back into the hallway by a strong kick to the side, sending her back into the hallway into a passing student.
“Hey,” he protested. “Watch it.” Before she could force the demon back into the seclusion of the room, he was advancing on her, throwing punches, and kicks, his claws bared and hungry to gut her open. They were limited in space now and close to a very fragile railing, just above 50 drunk college kids.
She needed to make fast work. She let the demon get closer to her so she could grab it by its scaly neck and force it into another room. The couple inside let out a screech of surprise, but when they saw the demon it quickly turned to fear as they gathered the sheet around their bodies and ran from the room as quickly as possible.
Rey grabbed the standing lamp by the door and broke it over her knee, creating a makeshift sword. She wasn’t sure what kind of demon this was, or a lamp through the heart would be enough to kill it. Some came with very specific instructions, others not so much.
When she was able to skewer the demon with the metal pole, only for him to use the proximity to grab her by the shirt and slam his boulder-like head into her own, she got her answer. Pole through the heart was a no-go.
She saw stars for a moment and that was enough for the demon to get the upper hand, his claws ripping through her shirt and grazing the skin of her stomach just as she dodged out of reach.
“Son of a bitch,” she said. “My one nice shirt!”
The demon looked at it and then back up at her. “That was your nice shirt?” It grabbed her and flung her across the room, through the sliding glass door and onto the balcony that was decorated with the sorority letters that greeted the partygoers when they arrived.
She rolled away from him through the shattered glass. “Come on,” she said. “You don’t get to critique my clothes when you are running around snatching up bodies.”
“Fair enough,” it conceded advancing on her. “But they are all so young and delicious.”
Rey’s face screwed into a luck of disgust before dodging a kick that would have sent her flying off the balcony. Not likely to her death, but very much to broken ankle, and that’s one thing that she does not have time for.
She looked past the demon as Kylo ran into the room.
“Finally,” she shouted. “I thought you had run off with some cute coed and left me too…” she bent backwards avoiding claws to the face.
“Rey,” he said. “Please move.”
Rey obeyed, maneuvering herself away from the demon just as shots of lightning flew from Kylo’s hands. While the demon was not deterred by a metal skewer, it was not a fan of Kylo’s lightning. It took only a few doses before it poofed out of existence and back to its own plane.
Rey stared at the spot where the demon had just been standing, and then at Kylo, who looked pleased as punch.
“I loosened it,” she said, her breathing heavy and labored.
“Are you all right,” he asked. The question was somehow both incredibly galling, and kind, and so her reaction was caught somewhere in the middle.
“Yes,” she said. “I’m fine. I’ve been fighting demons a while now.” She paused. “That being said, I did not come prepared to actually fight a demon tonight, so thank you.”
She doubted very much that Kylo was subtle about his insults, and he meant for it to be anything other than a sincere inquiry into her health, then she would certainly have known.
“Let’s go,” she said, finally. “I think we’ve partied enough for tonight.”
Kylo nodded and removed the black sports coat, handing it to her wordlessly. She jerked back as thought it had bitten her. “What the fuck, man?”
“Uh…just…I suppose you want to make it out of here with as little notice as possible and you look, quite…” she looked at herself in the cracked mirror. Her shirt was slashed had several spots of blood from the broken window slicing into her. They would heal fast but it didn’t do anything for the shirt.
Blood roared in her ears as she took the jacket from him. It wouldn’t be weird for her to leave wearing Kylo Ren’s jacket, if anything, for this party, it would be chaste. But all the same, the gesture made her feel a certain way that she didn’t know how to feel. She pulled the jacket on and crossed her arms so it covered her in the front.
It was ridiculous on her and would very well draw its own type of attention, but different than the attention that came from being busted up and bleeding. She supposed this one was preferable.
“It’s far too big for you,” he observed.
She snorted. “You don’t say?” She held out her arms and flopped them up and down for him, the sleeves waving wildly beyond her arms and laughing, awkwardly. It was warm all of the sudden, the inside of his jacket warmed by his skin. He was looing at her as thought she had fallen ill and it made it her feel all the more awkward. “Okay,” she said. “Let’s go.”
She hurried past him. But was drawn back by his hand on her shoulder. She squeezed her eyes shut and turned. He was standing close to her, so close that she could smell him and that fucking cologne that Finn had bought him with her goddamn money. He was a demon for Christ’s sake why did he need cologne that mixed with heat of his body in a dizzying and delightful way that made Rey feel light-headed and hungry all at once!
“Yeah,” she asked. His eyes narrowed slightly and he bent his knees so he could look at her.
“Are you all right?” Like everything with him, the question was innocent and weighted, naïve and intense all at once.
She exhaled slowly, forcing away the fog of heat, adrenaline, blood, and his fucking cologne.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’m fine. Let’s just go…I’m hungry…”
“Of course,” he said. “I forget that you require sustenance to live.”
“So do you now, tough guy.”
“Only half the amount you do,” he said.
She laughed and walked out of the room. “Not sure if that logic holds up.”
They made their way down the stairs without being noticed, the party was still going strong. She looked back, occasionally to make sure that Kylo was still there, that he hadn’t gotten lost, that thrumming compulsion still there to look over her shoulder for him. She wondered how long he would be there, and if that feeling, that anxiety to make certain that he was okay, would go away when he went.
They were almost out the door when she caught sight of Harmony again, all but passed out on the arm of the boy she had seen her with earlier as he dragged her into an open bedroom and shut the door.
“One second Kylo,” she said. She diverted her path quickly to the room they had gone into and turned the doorknob.
“This room is taken…” said the man from the other side.
“Open up,” she ordered.
“I said it’s taken,” the voice yelled again, this time angrier.
Rey pounded on the door hard and loud. She heard more swearing and the sound of stomping across the floor, the door opened just enough for him to fill the doorway, blocking her view of the room.
“This room is taken,” he repeated, but this time his eyes raked up and down in a way that Rey knew she could afford to just get angry over, one of the luxuries of being the Slayer. “But if you want to ditch, Smiley over there then… maybe there’s room for one more.”
“Or…” said Rey. “You can leave this room right now and go find yourself a girl who actually wants to have sex with you, if such a woman exists in the whole universe.”
He sneered at her. “Fuck you, you saw her she was all over me before.”
“Yeah,” said Rey. “But that was before, and now she can’t even walk so let’s call this one a night for Harmony.”
He moved to shut the door, but Rey’s hand around the doorknob held it firmly in place. He tried again, it didn’t budge. He looked down at her hand and back up to her face. This was just as good as fighting demons as far as Rey was concerned. She shoved the door hard, sending the man stumbling back from the force.
“What the hell!? This isn’t…”
“Kylo,” she said. “Would you mind getting Harmony off of that bed?”
Kylo didn’t argue or ask questions to Rey’s relief. The man made another move to intervene, but Rey grabbed him by the ear and jerked his head down. He yelped in pain, bending with her arm to relieve the pull.
“You know,” she said, jerking him back up so he was eye-level with her, now appropriately afraid. “You’re a pathetic piece of shit right now,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean you have to be a pathetic piece of shit forever. Don’t…” she jerked his ear again and his mouth opened in a silent wince of pain. “Rape girls and you will be at the most basic level of not piece of shit. So let’s start there, huh?” She released his ear and he shuffled away from her, whimpering. “You hear me?”
“Good. You got lucky this time, next time I’ll yank the whole thing off.”
Kylo was standing in the door, waiting for her, Harmony’s unconscious body hanging limply in his arms.
“Come on,” she said. “Follow me.”
“With…” he held up Harmony as an end to the question.
“Yeah,” she sighed. “We will take her back to her apartment,” she said. “It’s close by.”
Kylo nodded and followed her out the door. She wondered how confused he was now, or if the slimy intentions of the boy were something that he was all too familiar with. Either way he didn’t ask any questions, he didn’t question her actions as Luke might have (she could hear his voice already, “there was on way to solve that without using force?”), he trusted her and seemed to think that, whatever it was she did, she must have had her reasons.
And there was something very comforting about that.
Chapter 10: Why is He so Concerned about Rey's Uterus?
“Does it bother you at all?”
Kylo was nestled now on an old couch that at one point had been in the break room of the Watcher’s gym. When they arrived back to Rey’s home, Rey was almost dead on her feet, and she looked as though she was about to cry when the remembered the sad and deflated air mattress that Kylo had first been subjected to.
He was about to tell her that he did not need a mattress, also that he did not need sleep this night. He was learning more about his human body, he did get hungry but did not require the three meals and constant snacking that Rey required. It was an odd thing watching her eat; almost like an animal who was used to living in scarcity, whose body had not learned yet that there would be food still tomorrow.
Then, perhaps, it was just to sustain the work she did that was beyond the ability of most mortals.
But before he could tell her that he was just as content to stay awake, to read some of the scarce books that littered her apartment, she remembered that there was a couch in the breakroom downstairs. She flopped down onto the bed, still dressed in her bloody clothes, feet hanging off the edge, and waved noncommittally in the direction.
He had found the couch after a bit of exploring, easily transported it to her apartment, thought getting it up the narrow hallway was a bit tricky, with the only help from Rey being a half-hearted “pivot” mumbled from the bed. But he was now once again stretched out on a couch too big for him, against the wall perpendicular to where Rey was sleeping, or where he thought she was sleeping. She had yet to move from her position, feet flat on the floor and her upper body laying back on the bed.
“Very little bothers me.”
“The way people…people paw on you, look at you, look at you like you’re…different.”
“I am different,” he said, slowly, wondering what the correct answer was in a situation like this. Humans were, for the most part, easy to read, they asked questions out of ignorance and sometimes asked for comfort, to get answers that will confirm what they want. With Rey, he felt horribly in the dark.
“Yeah,” she said. “I guess you are.”
“Korriban demons are, by nature, both repellant and seductive.”
Rey didn’t answer for a moment and he thought that was the wrong thing to say. But it was the truth, and he found, over and over again, that he was not able to lie to Rey.
“What does that mean?”
“Our power is strengthened by darkness,” he said. “Darkness is both terrifying and seductive, people are drawn to it without knowing why. People use the darkness to see what they want to see and hide what they want to hide. People feel like their true selves can only be realized in the cover of darkness…”
“Seductive and terrifying,” she repeated, her voice bobbing up and down with her consciousness. “Huh…”
He waited for her to respond, but the next sound he heard from her was the steady, rhythm of her sleeping breath. He sat up on the couch. The light was still on, she had not moved from her position at the end of the bed, one that would no doubt cause her back pain in the morning if the slashes on her belly didn’t get to her first.
He wondered that humans were able to survive into adulthood at all.
When Rey woke up, briefly stirred from her sleep by the nightmare filled with the cries of mother and babe, of smoke and fire and Sulphur, she noticed something slightly off. She hadn’t mean to fall asleep but had been far too tired to move into a more comfortable position.
But she was tucked beneath the blanket now, her whole body on the bed and her shoes off. Her clothes were still ratty with streaks of dried blood, but she was comfortable and warm and cozy in her bed. She could hear Kylo breathing a few yards away, so very human.
She wondered for a moment, if his mother had watched him sleep as a baby. Had she stood over his crib the same way mothers of children not half-demon did? Had she been afraid of him, in any part of her? She had wondered it of herself often, if her mother had worried about her, if she was out in the world thinking of her.
She swallowed back the loneliness welling in her chest and turned onto her side, holding the pillow under her head. It didn’t matter now. She may not have belonging, but she had purpose, and that wasn’t nothing.
She clung to the vestiges of sleep at her brain, pulling them back around her like a warm blanket, coaxing herself back to rest; lulled to the sleep by the steady, solid breathing coming form the couch.
Rey did not feel fear often. It wasn’t simply a byproduct of being the Slayer, growing up she was never allowed to be afraid, couldn’t afford to be afraid. She felt pain even less often. She had taught herself to block it out, to deal with it later, to not give paint he time of day or else she would have died a little scavenging street rat on bitter cold nights in London.
But now she felt it.
Tearing through her whole body, burning at her flesh and tearing to her bone.
She could feel it in her chest, the horrible mix of pain and fear gathering in her pounding heart.
“You should have killed him when you had the chance, child.” She tried to see through the drunken haze of confusion. She knew this was a dream. She was deeply aware of it, but somehow it made her no less afraid, and made the pain no less real, and she wondered, briefly, if she could pass out in her own dream. “You should have killed him when you had the chance.” It was Luke this time. “You should’ve killed him, Rey.” Poe. Then Rose. Then Finn. Then their voices were snuffed out in their own screams.
Then one more voice, and hand against her cheek. She can see just a little a face, old and withered, aged beyond her understanding, pale with red, cruel eyes.
“You should have let him die child,” he said. “Now your compassion will be your undoing.”
She can feel him, he’s close.
He moves into her the path of her thin gaze, becoming smaller and smaller as darkness clouds. It’s Kylo but it’s not him. His eyes are red again, but not in the way she had become accustomed, not in the orange red that almost put her in mind of a cozy fire, but they were blazing with rage and hatred and malice.
He reached out a hand, not to help. She knew that. She tried to struggle, to scream, to rage, to fight, but Kylo closed his fist and her throat felt as though it was collapsing in on itself, restricting both sound and air.
Kylo doesn’t flinch as she struggled to catch any remnant of breath that may have made it in. He doesn’t flinch as her lips turn blue, and he doesn’t flinch as the life slips out of her replaced by darkness.
Kylo doesn’t know how to help her, but he is certain something is wrong. Her body is tense and rigid, he can hear the painful sound of her teeth grinding together as her jaw clenches tightly. It was not that he made a habit of watching her sleep in the few nights that he had spent with her at this point, but he did not require the same amount of sleep she did. He would wake several times throughout the night and find ways to occupy himself in silence. In those moments, Rey had always looked more relaxed, her brow unfurrowed and curled up into an impossibly tight ball.
This did not look right though.
And when she started to wheez and gasp, to unconsciously claw at her own throat. He knew for certain that all was not well. He wondered if it was okay if he touched her in this moment. She had peculiarly strong feelings about certain etiquettes and he wasn’t sure about this one.
But when her nails started to draw blood, when he noticed, in a momentary panic, that her sheets were bloody beneath her as she thrashed about. He decided etiquette could be foregone in this situation. He reached down and grasped her shoulders with both hands, careful of his talons and gave her a shake.
“Rey…” he whispered. “Wake up.” She didn’t respond, if anything she was thrashing harder now, her body in a panic at the perceived lack of air. “Wake up,” he ordered, more firmly, giving her a shake. She shoved out against him her slayer strength seemingly unaffected by sleep. “Slayer,” he almost shouted. “Wake up!”
Her eyes opened, suddenly, and Kylo was struck by the fear and panic there, and then the rage as she violently threw him off her and rolled sideways, throwing herself onto the bed. He quickly jumps up from the bed and backs away, in case he had committed some unforgivable human taboo.
He knew what dreams and nightmares were, he had caused more than a few, but perhaps they meant something entirely different on earth, something entirely different to Slayers?
He waits a moment and Rey doesn’t reappear onto her bed. He looks down at the bright red stain on the sheets, and he slowly moves around to the other side of the bed where Rey is on all fours, greedily taking in deep gasping breathes.
“Rey…” He said.
She holds up a hand, silencing him. She stays in that position for a few more minutes and he waits, keeping a distance until she sits back on the floor. She is pale and sweaty and completely out of sorts. And his damn human soul feels something when he sees it. His damn human soul wants him to reach out to her as she struggles to stand up, her body shaking and weak. His damn human soul was overriding the demon part that would have known that this was the moment to strike, to exert power of the Slayer, to use this moment of physical weakness to expedite his trip home.
But he doesn’t. Instead he waits.
“I’m sorry,” he finally said. “You didn’t look well and I thought…”
Rey shook her head. “It’s okay,” she said. “I you didn’t do anything wrong Kylo, I must have just had…”
“A nightmare,” he offered helpfully. She looked at him for a moment, an odd and searching gaze, as if trying to place him, trying to remember who he is.
“Yeah,” she finally said. “A nightmare.”
“I would not have woken you,” he said. “I know nightmares end, but you started to hurt yourself and…you appeared to be bleedings.”
Rey’s face screwed up in confusion. “What?”
Kylo pointed at the sheets. Rey turned and her expression moved from on of confusion to humiliation.
“Oh fuuuck,” she said. “Just perfect.” Rey reached for her phone and appeared to be searching for something before she sighed and threw her phone down angrily. “Yup,” she said, “That checks out.”
She rolled over and buried her face in her pillow and moaned. Kylo stepped closed to the bed.
“Are you injured, Slayer?”
She laughed, bitterly. “No,” she said. “I’m not injured, Kylo. I’m…” She laughed again into her pillow and shook her head before turning to look at him. “I can’t believe biology lessons are such a big part of having you around.” She stood up and again and gathered her sheets and threw them on the ground. “One second.”
Kylo waited while she poked around in her closet for more clothes and then disappeared into the bathroom without a word of explanation.
When she reappeared, she looked slightly less out sorts in new clothes and her face splashed with cold water.
“Come on, Kylo,” she said. “Laundry time.”
Rey should have known. She had been feeling shitty the last couple of days. But tracking her cycle was one of the responsibilities of being a woman that got lost in her responsibilities as the Slayer, along with making sure that she had extra sheets, clean clothes, and tampons.
Now she was in the small laundry room in the back of the gym where Luke washed the towels with her curious, if not concerned, demon roommate. It was a pain getting up and down the stairs the way she let her laundry pile up but it beat having to go to a laundry mat.
“So, it’s normal…”
Rey shrugged. “Yeah for individual’s with uteruses,” she said.
“And it concerns your ability to reproduce.”
“Yeah,” said Rey, nodding. “How…how does it work for demons?”
“We don’t,” he said. “Korriban demons are until we are not. Though apparently we have enough in common to be able to cross-breed with certain other creatures in the universe.”
“But you were,” she said. “You were born.”
“So it would seem,” he snorted derisively.
“It’s not so bad,” she said. “If you’re into it, and it’s what you want then it’s kinda amazing.”
“How,” he asked.
“I mean, growing life,” she said. “I don’t know. I spend my whole life killing and destroying, a balance to the evil in the world; sometimes it feels like all we do is cancel each other out. The idea of bringing something new and innocent and good into the world, I like that that’s a thing that can happen in the world.”
Kylo seemed to be thinking about this seriously for a moment, weighing her words.
“And that’s something you would want to do then? Use your uterus to create a new, innocent life?”
“Oh no,” said Rey, shaking her head. “No…no…no…”
She thought for a moment that it was the only explanation he would need, but he continued to look at her, intently, as though he was waiting on her to say a little more.
“This job,” she said. “You’re the Slayer until you die. Having friends is hard enough, but a kid?” She shook her head. “No way would I want to bring a kid into the world knowing full well I could be dead the next day.” She snorted. “Luke is a bit less stringent on the no attachments rule for the Slayer than other Watchers, but a kid is something else.”
“But if you weren’t the Slayer,” he asked. “Would you want that?”
Rey looked at him for a moment, disarmed. She didn’t quite know how a demon, presumably well-versed in deceit and beguiling, could ask questions with such a naked sincerity as to make her feel entirely exposed. She wanted to lie, to make a joke, to go back upstairs and sleep on her sheetless couch. But she found, once again, that she couldn’t lie to him. “I always wanted a family,” she finally answered. “Before I knew what I was I…I hoped to have a big family one day. I dreamed about it.” She breathed in and looked away from him. “Probably seems silly to a demon.”
“Yes,” he answered honestly, but not cruelly.
“All right,” she said, with a laugh. “Come on,” she said. “Its 3 am and I need a little more sleep if I’m going to do anything tomorrow.”
“What do you have to do tomorrow,” he asked.
“Training, working, and patrolling,” she said. “And I have exactly 2 hours before I start cramping like a sonofabitch…”
“You have to work while actively bleeding out of your body,” he asked.
Rey does burst out into laughter at the horrified expression on his face. “Yeah,” she said with a laugh. “Most people with uteruses do.”
“That is barbaric,” he said. “Even demons take their salvageable injured back to recuperate before returning to a field of battle.” Rey laughed again as she trudged up the stairs. “And if it’s a part of the process of continuing your human species than I would think it’s important that your health be important during this time.”
“It’s really not that bad, Kylo,” she said. “I knew a girl once who would get so sick and cramp so bad that she would couldn’t stand up straight. Poor girl couldn’t really hold a job because of it.”
Kylo looked at her again, shocked and appalled.
When Luke opened the gym that morning, he was surprised to find that Rey was not already awake and ready for training. He was even more shocked to fine Kylo, charmed and human looking waiting for him. He raised his guard immediately.
“Good morning, Kylo,” he said, his voice wary and distant. He looked past him and around the gym. “Where’s Rey?”
“Rey is still sleeping,” he said.
Luke breathed out a sigh of relief. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll go wake her.”
He moved to head toward the stairs, but was blocked as Kylo, comically large and towering, side-stepped to block him.
“I think perhaps she should not work today.”
Luke raised an eyebrow and looked up to look Kylo in the eye. “What?”
“I think she should not be made to work today.”
“YOU think,” said Luke. “Yeah, sorry kid, you don’t…” Kylo moved again to block him. “What? Why don’t you think she should work today?”
“Because,” said Kylo. “She did not sleep well, and she is bleeding.”
Panic struck Luke and he moved to hurry past Kylo only to be pulled back. He was ready to turn and fight Kylo off when Kylo dropped his arm. “She is not injured,” said Kylo. “She is not hurt. She’s just bleeding because her body has a uterus in it.”
Luke’s mouth opened slightly, unable to form words for a moment and then he laughs. “Oh god,” he said. “You scared me for a minute there. I thought It was something serious.”
Kylo frowned at him. “She experiences pain and bleeding; would train her if there was blood actively pouring from you or would you insist that you needed a break.”
Luke paused for a moment and considers it before shuddering and looking at Kylo. ‘Yeah, Kylo I get it but it’s…she’s the Slayer and she…”
“And,” said Kylo. “I can sit at the desk and wave at people when they come in and pretend to like them in the way that Rey does, and I can go to the graveyard tonight and make sure that my brethren aren’t harassing the dead.” Luke was stunned for a moment, not sure what to say, unbelieving of the circumstances that he was now finding himself in, a rare thing for a Watcher. “Perhaps just a day of rest for her will not completely derail her duties as a Slayer.”
Luke prickled with suspicion. “Why do you care,” he asked.
Kylo’s jaw twitched slightly, as though frustrated that Luke was requiring him to continue to talk to him.
“That’s none of your concern,” he said. He tried to turn away from Luke, but this time it was Luke who caught him, grabbing his arm and holding him in place. He saw the flare of temper in Kylo’s eyes as he looked down at the Watcher’s hand on his forearm.
“It is my concern,” he said. “My whole job is being concerned with Rey.”
Kylo scoffed and jerked his arm away. “Then let her rest today.”
“I don’t trust you,” said Luke honestly. “Soul or not.”
“Wise of you,” said Kylo. “Though in this case, unnecessary. Killing you or any of your friends would not serve my purpose of getting home.”
Luke looked at him for a moment, wanting to both tread carefully with the demon but also test the waters of how demon and how human this boy was. “Is that your only concern then, Kylo? Getting home? That’s your only interest in Rey?”
“Are you frightened, Watcher,” he said. “That your precious Slayer will run off with a demon from Korriban and have more little half-demon babies?”
Luke sneered. “Rey wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole,” he said.
Kylo smirked. “Then there’s nothing to worry about,” he said. Kylo stepped away from him and straightened out his shirt. “And you needn’t worry, Watcher. My concern for your Slayer is the debt I owe her as she did not kill me when she had the chance, and, perhaps, despite my demonic tendencies, a better understanding of humane working environments.”
Kylo does not say another word to him, merely steps back around the desk and sits in the chair where Rey would typically be waiting. He looks briefly at the stairs that lead to Rey’s apartment and back to Kylo.
Stupidly or not, he does not go up the stairs.
A day off wouldn’t kill her.
“Wake up sleepy head!”
When Rey awoke again, this time curled up on the couch that had been warmed by Kylo’s body, it was in a panic.
Rose was standing over her with two coffees and a breakfast sandwich. “Woa, calm down, Peanut!”
Rey groaned and curled up in on herself, the pain stabbing her like a knife. “What time is it?”
Rey jumped again kicking off the blankets and rolling out of the couch. “Shit, Luke is going to kill me!”
Rose let out an exasperated sigh and sat on the couch. “Sit down!” She ordered. “Drink this…” she handed Rey a coffee. “And eat this…” She put the sandwich in her lap. “And take a deep breath.”
Rey obeyed, taking a long drink of her warm coffee. “Did you talk to, Luke? Did he yell? Was he angry?”
“No,” said Rose. “Apparently Luke thought you could use a day off?”
Rey looked at her suspiciously as she took another sip. “What?”
Rose shrugged and took a sip of her tea and leaned back on the couch. “Well apparently Kylo thinks you should have a day off and is now a crusader for period PTO in the workplace.”
Rey nearly choked on her coffee. “What?”
“Yeah…he was concerned…” Rose’s mouth formed a tight line, as though trying to hold back a smile. “For your uterus.” She paused and looked at Rey. “His exact words, he was concerned for your uterus.”
Rey let out another long groan of humiliation and lay back on the couch, sipping pathetically at her coffee, now somewhat less tasty in her mouth.
“This is the most humiliated I have ever been,” she said. “And all because of that dumbass demon who isn’t able to keep his mouth shut. I’ve managed to have a relationship with Luke in which my menstrual cramps have never been under discussion and that perfect record has been killed now.”
Rose shrugged and sunk back onto the couch with her. “Sorry, peanut,” she said. “But you know, WOULD it be so horrible to take a day off? What’s the point of having a demon on your team if they can’t pick up a patrolling shift occasionally?”
Rey wanted to argue. But more than that, she wanted to take a hot bath, to sink, hippopotamus like, beneath the lavender bubbles.
“I mean…who’s going to watch him?”
“The rest of us! We will take him patrolling and you can hang back and rest your little, broken body.”
“Not broken,” she said, but she curled up again on the couch, and pulled the blanket it up over her. “Beautiful and magnificent and powerful…just currently in a state of distress.”
“Then we’ll take over just one night,” she said. “You can go over to Poe and Finn’s house and use their Jacuzzi tub and relax in your pajamas.”
Roes patted her on the head, and Rey took a nibble of her sandwich. The Slayer wasn’t supposed to rest, because the forces of evil didn’t rest. The Slayer was to be ever-vigilant, not curled up and bed-bound past sunrise.
Yet. Rose was right. What was the point of having friends if you couldn’t rest every now and again?
“That’s it,” heaved Poe, bending over at the waist and taking in deep breathes as the vampire beneath him turned to dust. “Never going patrolling…without Rey…again…”
Finn ran up behind him, equally exhausted, his stake hanging loosely in his hands. He patted his boyfriend lovingly on the back, experiencing a swell of affection for him. Poe had not signed up for any of this, not at first. Finn, Rose, and Rey had been a package deal of sorts, friends from the first day of high school and onward. He used to wonder if choosing that life, a life as a friend of the Slayer, meant, to some degree, the same things for him as it did for Rey, and then throw in the whole warlock thing, he had been sure that no man would ever be crazy enough to date him.
But when he met the pilot. He was a goner, and he knew he would find some way to make it work.
And he had been lucky enough for Poe to be just crazy enough to allow himself to be thrown into this unbelievable world of vampires, monsters, and demons.
“It’s okay, love,’ he said. “You got him.”
“Barely,” said Poe, standing straight up. “How does she keep up!”
“Slayer endurance,” said Finn. “We can’t all have it.”
Poe nodded and opened his mouth to speak when suddenly Finn was yanking him down. The two men barely missed a limp body flying just over their heads.
“Watch it Kylo,” came Rose’s voice. “You almost took out Finn and Poe.”
Kylo was sprinting past them, hand outstretched toward the vampire. “What the hell is that thing?” The vampire asked Finn and Poe as he struggled to his feet.
“Kinda judgy for a demon that moves into a dead body,” said Poe. “Aren’t ya?”
Before the vampire could respond a lightening bold sent it flying back and then he flew forward to Kylo’s outstretched hands.
Finn, momentarily, was afraid. For now, Kylo was wearing the necklace, but the demon was coming out loud in clear, his eyes alive and alight with bloodlust and the thrill of the fight. His teeth bared and body trembling with power.
Finn, almost instinctively, stepped back, pulling Poe with him. For Rose’s part, she came jogging up behind Kylo, cheering him on.
“At least someone is having fun,” said Poe.
Finn nodded. Too much fun for comfort.
Finn had not neglected trying to get Kylo home. But the magic used was old, and while there was some information on ensouled demons, there was very little on human, demon hybrids because well, their hosts rarely lived long enough to bring the creatures into the world.
He had narrowed his search in on witches named Leia to see if he could track down a time period and what magic may have been used by the dark witches. He made a mental note to hurry his search, as he wondered how long Kylo’s human side could remain more prevalent.
But, as Kylo easily dispatched the vampire, for now, he was handy to have around. He didn’t quite reach Rey’s nightly average, but that, perhaps, could be due to the fact that Kylo seemed to very much enjoy playing with food first.
Just an hour short of dawn, it was difficult to convince Kylo that it was time to go home and rest. He begrudgingly agreed when Poe told them him they were going back to Poe and Finn’s house.
“How is BB fairing,” he asked.
“Same as always,” said Poe. “Fat, orange and perfect.”
“Excellent,” said Kylo. “He will be pleased to see me.” As they made their way out of the graveyard into the pinking dawn. Kylo turned to Rose. “Is there anything that we should retrieve for Rey, anything to aid in the healing of her uterus?”
Finn snorted and Rose nudged him.
“Great idea,” said Rose. “We’ll stop at the drug store on the way…”
Finn moaned and Rose elbowed him harder. She waited until Kylo was out of earshot to turn to him. “Don’t make fun.”
“Come on, Rose,” he said. “The demon keeps asking about uteruses,” he said. “That is objectively funny.”
“He’s being a god boy….” Rose stopped, holding back her words.
“A good what,” asked Finn, his voice low.
“Yeah,” said Poe, putting an elbow on Finn’s shoulder, a big shit-eating grin on his face. “A good what Rose…what exactly are you doing here?”
“Nothing,” she protested. “Nothing but…” She looked over her shoulder at Kylo who was continuing toward the exist without them. “Come on!”
“Come one,” mimicked Finn. “He’s a demo…”
“Half demon,” protested Rose.
“Still not boyfriend material,” said Finn.
“Says you,” said Rose, crossing her arms. “I think he’s perfect boyfriend material for Rey.”
“Why is that,” asked Poe, enjoying the flaring tempers between the younger duo.
“He’s gentle,” said Rose.
Finn makes a face like he’s going to interrupt, but Poe quiets him. “No babe,” he said. “I want to hear it. Go on Rose, gentle…”
“And understanding,” she said.
“Hmmm hmmm sure,” said Finn. “Sure…sure..sure…”
“And tall,” said Rose. “Gentle, understanding, and tall…”
“In other words,” said Poe, giving Finn and loving shake. “Perfect boyfriend material.”
“Shut up, both of you,” said Rose. She hurried away, trying to catch up with Kylo. “This ship has sailed for me,” she said, over her shoulder. “Team Reylo.”
Finn made a gagging noise and Poe laughed. “Come on babe,” he said. “We can’t leave sweet Rose alone with the big-bad demon spawn.”
Finn sighed and hurried toward his friends. He needed to figure out a way to get Kylo home before that ship sailed. Because, as obnoxious as it could be sometimes, Rose was very rarely wrong.