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Because & Despite

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Several people ran about the streets, cars lining up and honking loudly. From up above, Rey could pinpoint some of people she knew worked in the building rushing off into cabs or crosswalks.

Leaving. Going. Departing.

Jealousy was her friend as the city glowed alive as the evening feed into the dead of night. Fridays were always busy and vibrant, Rey counting the lights dancing across the way. Coruscant never slept, the city life impossible to contain with the massive buildings and dream chasers. One could enter Coruscant and never be heard of again— anonymity at its finest. Both a beautiful and unfortunate quality to behold.

Of course, Rey’s experience with the city was mostly from the confines of the office. While it’d been a blessing to receive her job right out of graduation, a rare occurrence for the majority, Rey knew little of the city. Even after living there for nearly three years, she remained a mere acquaintance to its happenings and locations—except for Rebels Stadium. Her other home away from home.

“Go,” Rey mumbled, sitting on the ledge of the window. Her jam-packed notebook and planner sat on her lap, opening to the following weeks schedule. Pen laid forgotten on top, Rey stopping her work mid-sentence. Her eyes trailed after a tall man jogging to the edge of the side walk, hailing a cab with the precision of a lifelong city dweller. She watched as he swiftly entered the cab, disappearing from her sight. “Be free…while I sit and wait for my impending death.”

Her head dropped against the window with a thud, her glasses sliding further down her nose. Slowly her eyes began to droop…

Rey!

She flinched, catching her planner before it tumbled to the floor in a ridiculous mess. Blinking quickly, Rey hopping off the ledge and scrambled to her boss’ office. Nearing the corner of the doorway, Rey slowed down, brushing her flyways from her three buns behind her ear.

Standing taller, she entered.

Sitting perched at her desk, Gwen Phasma typed away on her bright red laptop. Her thin lips pursed as she regarded Rey silently, icy blue eyes consuming her appearance.

“You should be exhausted and ran over here—not all put together,” she remarked, unamused by her young assistant. “No one likes a snob, Rey.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Rey acknowledge, refraining the urge to salute. Instead, she tucked her planner close to her chest. Patiently waiting for Phasma to give her list of demands and changes.

Click-clack of her trimmed nails against the keyboard filled the room. Phasma paused, lifting a perfectly plucked eyebrow at Rey. “Why are you just standing there?”

“Right,” Rey nodded, deciding not to comment on Phasma’s ‘don’t speak unless spoken to rule’ while she writing. Flipping open her planner, Rey turned to the list of matters to address with her boss. “Um, Missy sent an invitation to her baby shower for the 30the ,”

“Send her my best regards and a gift, but decline,” Phasma interjected, “Baby showers are disgusting mother and pastel hybrids, no thank you.”

“Jackie and Carl, your friends,” Phasma rolled her eyes at the mention of the couple, “Need to reschedule their Saturday dinner plans with you. Their son has the flu.”

A aggravated groan left Phasma, “Not again—seriously the boy needs to grow up and learn germs exist.”

“He’s five—kids get sick,” Rey muttered, earning a sharp glare from Phasma. Fearing for her life, Rey cleared her throat, “Anyways—uh, then Megan is waiting on your RSVP and needs to confirm if you will be willing to share a room with—”

“I am a grown woman with my own thriving business,” Phasma stated tersely, kicking her feet up on the edge of her desk. “I will not be sharing a room with a woman I hardly know like some school girls because I am not bring a plus one—idiots,” she scoffed, wavering her hand at Rey. “Send warm regards and decline—I don’t need this bullshit.”

“Got it,” Rey answered, writing notes furiously on her notepad. Her scrawl became less and less refined as the hours became later. “Do you need me to order dinner?”

“Yes, get it from that one place with the mac and cheese—the one with the guy, who wore the blue that made his eyes pop?” Phasma vaguely ordered, reaching into her desk drawer. With a flick of her wrist she tossed Rey her fitness watch. “I forgot the wear it again during workout—you know what to do.”

Almost tripping over her feet, Rey caught the watch. Slipping it on, she started shaking her wrist out. “I’ll call for your food right now,” she said, heading out of Phasma’s office.

“And get whatever you want,” her boss called out monotonously, “I know you haven’t eaten at all today.”

Rey bit back her smile; sure Phasma was more of a drill sergeant than a boss, but sometimes she was okay…maybe even cared.


 

“Hey…so I can’t make it out of the city tonight,” Ben muttered over the phone. Glancing over his shoulder, he frowned at the brownstone he waited in front of for the last half hour. “I got stuck working late—again.”

His mother huffed, “Ben—you do realize you can’t make promises you can’t keep?”

He dropped his voice, “Mom, I know. I’m not doing this on purpose, I promise. I said I would visit—I will visit as soon as I can.”

“This is the third time you’ve canceled,” Ben huffed, his head falling back. “I am not getting her hopes up again—”

“I understand mother, and I am trying,” he stated stoically, trying his best to not let his temper get the best of him. “Working, then quitting, then working again for the same company is not an easy task.”

“Son—”

Doors behind him swung open, the snot nose ginger briskly exiting the building.

Ben’s jaw set at the sight of his boss.

“Mom, call you back, got to go,” he said quickly, hanging up the phone before his mother could respond. Shoving his phone in his pocket, Ben spun around to face Armitage Hux.

“Solo, where is my juice?” The other man stood tall, head held high, yet remained shorter than Ben no matter how much he tried.

Reaching into his messenger bag, Ben handed Hux a green looking juice. He spent a good twenty minutes putting together the drink, Hux declaring he did not want to drink ‘store bought juice’ but ‘rather hand-squeezed and blended to perfection.’

Twisting the cap open, Ben gagged at the smell. Baby food didn’t even smell this bad.

Hux snatched the bottle, doing his best to knock the thick juice back like a smooth drink. A grimace snuck on to Ben’s face as he watched Hux’s pale face flush from utter disgust.

“Here,” Hux groaned, handing Ben the bottle and taking the handkerchief waiting at the ready for him. He wiped his mouth, as he spoke to his assistant. “We need to go back to the office to finish up some paper work, and I have a conference call later with some part in the world.”

Ben rolled his eyes at the lack of knowledge Hux possessed; he had a conference call with their branch in Japan a little after midnight. Sometimes Ben wondered if he never left if he would be in Hux’s position, Snoke promoting him rather than his immature and unknowledgeable colleague.

“Alright, do you want me to order dinner?”

“No, I just had my juice. Why would I have dinner—are you trying to ruin my diet?” Hux grumbled, moving past Ben to the waiting town car.

Following after Hux, Ben rolled his eyes.

He needed to think big picture—big picture and soon this hell would be over…hopefully.


 

Rey jogged up and down the building lobby as she waited for the delivery guy to show up. With only a few minutes before closing, she was able to slip in her order before they shut down the kitchen. Her mouth watered with anticipation for her avocado burger and truffle oil fries.

Checking Phasma’s fitness watch, Rey found herself only a few steps short of reaching the goal.

She could do this—especially when sustenance was on its way.

Seeing a man with a paper bag and cap on his head made Rey’s heart soar; she was starving, running late that morning then rushing around the city to take care of Phasma’s dry cleaning. She needed food and food needed her to consume it.

She jogged up to the man, opening the lobby door to reach him.

“Hello, good sir. You are an absolute saint!” She cried out, digging into her back pocket for Phasma’s company card. From behind her the elevator pinged. The man she saw earlier hailing a cab rushing past her  to the door with his cell phone pressed to his ear. Tall with a shock of longer black locks, he’d be a surprising sort of handsome had it not been for his downturned mouth. Turning her gaze away, she focused on deliveryman with her beautiful food. “Here.”

The man frowned, shaking his head. “We only take cash.”

“What? No—I’ve order from you guys plenty of times, and paid with card,” Rey informed him firmly, waving the card in her hand for emphasis.

“No cash, no food,” the man stated plainly with a half shrug.

Rey’s eyes fell back to the tall, dark haired man. She needed to get Phasma her food before she became disgruntled and hangry. “Hey, you!” She called out. He didn’t turn to her, speaking on the phone with a mildly annoyed expression. “You massive human being!” She tried again, this time the man turning to her with a fully annoyed expression, knowing she had been referring to him. “Do you have cash?”

“I got to go,” he said into his cell phone, “I’ll call you tomorrow, don’t stay up too late.” He hung up his phone, striding over to her with four steps, “Excuse me, but that was personal call that you rudely interrupted.”

“I promise I’ll pay you back.” She clasped her hands under her chin, gazing up at him with a bright smile.

Unaffected  by her, his gaze fell on the paper bag.  His lips pressed together in thought, considering the situation.

“What do you have in there?”

“Bacon-Cheddar mac-n-cheese and avocado hamburger with fries.”

The tall man crossed his arms, starring down at the guy, “And you only take cash, correct?” The delivery man nodded. “Perfect, I’ll take it.” He reached into his back pocket, opening his wallet.

Watching with a gapping mouth, Rey’s voice finally caught up with her thoughts. “Hey! What the hell? I ordered that food!”

“And now, I’m buying it,” he answered simply. The exchange happened without further ordeal, the deliveryman leaving while the rude tall man took her food. “Should have had cash on you.”

On that note, he turned on his heel heading over to the elevators. Stunned and perturbed, Rey chased after him, cutting off his path.

Out of breath, she pointed to the bag while balancing her other hand on her knee. “I—I ordered that food—it’s for my boss, I can get fired if I don’t have it!”

He did not seem quiet bothered by her declaration, reaching past her for the elevator button. “Now it is dinner for my boss, because I can get fired if I don’t have it. Learn quick kid, you need to always carry cash.”

Rey stood back up, hands on her hips. “I do! And don’t call me kid—after all you were the person who didn’t order before closing,” she smirked, crossing her arms over her chest proudly. “So technically we were both screwed there, mate.”

Titling his head to the side, he squinted at her. “You’re not going to leave me alone until you get this food, huh?”

Rey shook her head with a smug grin, “Nope. As my grandad says, I am persistent and patient.”

He didn’t laugh like most do; in fact he stilled appeared annoyed by her presence. Rey was beginning to suspect this was his default mood.

Craning his neck back with slight groan, he dropped his gaze down to her, “Fine. We’ll split since it was technically a group effort. Take the mac and cheese.”

“Thank you!” Rey cheered, snatching the bag from his grasp. “I promise, I will pay you back. I have cash at my desk,” she assured him. Her hand hesitated over the separate container for the truffle fries—the delicious concoction was meant to be hers, but she really owed the guy. Setting it aside, she pulled the mac and cheese from the bottom before handing him back the bag. He took it back, the two now entering the opened elevator. “I’m Rey Kenobi by the way,” she stated, pressing the tenth floor button.

“Ben Solo,” he said with a resolute nod. He pressed the thirteenth floor button and took a step back. He glanced down at her to find her looking at him oddly. “What?”

“I’m usually the last one here at night,” Rey said, confused as to why there was another human being stuck at the same building as her. She and Phasma were always last to leave, Rey needing to be smart with her commute home when it came to public transportation. Usually, she was stuck paying for a cab.

“Nope, can’t be,” Ben declared, “I’m usually the last one out, Hux does not understand how business hours and overtime work. Quite the imbecilic.”

Rey rose an eyebrow, “That’s a bold statement to make about your boss.”

He pursed his lips, “Well, I’ve known him long enough to make such judgements,” his eyes focused ahead on the increasing floor numbers. The elevator doors pinged open, he glanced back down at her, “And I believe this is your floor, Rey Kenobi.”

She stepped forward, unable to help but look back at him. Though few words, she found this tall, tired and annoyed man intriguing. Maybe because he was stuck in the same situation as her—an overworked assistant. Or maybe because she had a thing for tall guys with dark pretty eyes. She wasn’t too sure if it was one or the other, or both.

“Oh, by the way,” Ben called out as she left the elevator the doors beginning to close, “I saw you eyeing those truffle fries. I’ll do you a favor and eat them,” he teased, eyes lighting with amusement at her yelp of indignation.

Rey’s jaw dropped as she watched Ben Solo’s smirk disappeared behind the doors.

Face pitching in frustration, she marched in the direction towards Phasma’s office and her desk. Rey needed to find her wallet and pay back the conniving bastard.