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It was always night on the craft. No sunrise, no sunset, no opening, no closure; just one eternal round. Besides the existential toll this cycle took on one’s mind, it was a great detriment to one’s sleep cycle. Fatigue weighed heavily on Kylo’s eyes, yet his mind continued to race at light speed. He gazed at the pitch ceiling aimlessly.

That day had been particularly average for Kylo: debriefings on Resistance activity, breaking glass, approving logistic strategies, Force choking, the usual. After such a full day, Kylo should have drifted off without a problem, yet sleep eluded him.

Kylo’s insomnia was most likely the product of a recurring vision that had been plaguing his sleep since Crait. The dream left him in a constant state of unease; just thinking about it set him on edge. Every night, Kylo would find himself floating aimlessly through the stars, completely alone in space’s vacuum. The constellations surrounding him were unfamiliar, but beautiful. Before Kylo was a spiraling galaxy, with sparkling dots swirling amongst a halo of purple stardust. He watched as the stars circled closer and closer to the universe’s center; Kylo couldn’t help but wonder when they would collide. Perhaps, millions of light years away, they had already collided. If he were closer to the galaxy, would he be surrounded by a triumphant supernova’s light? If he travelled into the galaxy, would it even be there? Was the light he now basked in just an entire universe’s phantom?

Was he this swirling galaxy? Since Rey cut their bond, Kylo’s facade remained in place. He ruled with an iron fist and with incomparable efficiency. Like the supernova, the remainder of his energy reached far out, through the ranks of the First Order. But like that galaxy, all that was left of Kylo’s soul was the memory of what had once been there. The spiraling emotions in his heart had collided long ago, at a fingertip brush.
Kylo’s hair stood on end; a sudden rush of sensation interrupted his philosophizing. He shot up to a sitting position, his trained senses straining to detect this mysterious onset of feeling. All the ship’s white noise went mute, as if the rest of the universe were snuffed out, leaving only the sound of blood racing through his ears. A brisk desert wind’s scent and power enveloped Kylo’s senses. His fists clenched reflexively as he felt sensuous heat materialize against him. His breath caught in his throat and his heart jumped.

“Get out,” he growled. He couldn’t see her, but Kylo knew Rey was right behind him. Kylo’s mind screamed that he should detest her, that she was an imposter, yet there was a fluttering behind his ribs. This was the first time he had felt her presence since the Falcon doors slammed shut on Crait. It had been too long, and though he would never admit it, he missed the scavenger.

“It’s not like I chose to be here,” Rey replied sharply. “How about you get out? You’re in my head, too,” she added bitterly, which made him grimace.

“It seems we are at an impasse,” Kylo conceded, so they settled into a mutual silence. After the initial shock of her presence, Kylo was able to work out that Rey was sitting just behind him, facing away. They were so close he could feel the warmth emanating from her tanned skin.

After a short while, Rey heaved a large sigh and settled a little deeper into her sitting position. As she relaxed, Kylo was keenly aware of the closing distance between her body and his. When she breathed, he could feel her hair brush the back of his neck. He could barely suppress the shiver that her touch sent across his whole body. Kylo dreamed of that forbidden contact.

Of course, Rey was the one who broke the silence. “So I’m assuming you wouldn’t care to tell me your next attack plans, Ky- excuse me- Supreme Leader.” Rey’s jab made Kylo wince.

“No,” he stated simply.

“Or maybe we could just talk,” she suggested. “I haven’t spoken to you in months!” she added bitterly.

“Maybe,” Kylo replied tersely.

Her warmth shifted. Kylo could feel Rey’s hazel eyes scorching the back of his head.

“So? What do you have to tell me about these past few months?” There was a pause, then an exasperated huff. “Look at me, Ben.” Hearing his name on her lips made his insides stir. Slowly and gracefully, Kylo turned to face Rey.
“What could you possibly want?” Kylo spat. Why were his words so full of ire? Hadn’t he longed to see her?

Rey’s features sharpened into a fierce mask. Anger glowed behind her eyes, anger as bright as the sun. Her hazel eyes burned a fiery gold. It was both beautiful and frightening.

She dragged in a shaky breath before spitting back at him, “Nothing. Nothing from you.” And she was gone, the connection broken.

Kylo couldn’t explain the melancholy that clothed his thoughts after her exit. He couldn’t comprehend why his heart swelled as he mused about that short meeting. Why did he yearn to see that face, full of indignation and gall, more than anything else?

Eventually, Kylo drifted back to sleep and out into the universe’s vast abyss. The spinning galaxy’s eye stared back, as if in understanding.


 

Rey was flushed from head to toe when she awoke on the Falcon. Her cheeks burned, betraying the emotions she worked so hard to bury.

The past few weeks and months were agony for the Resistance. The small, motley crew had taken to jumping from system to system; they were all starting to experience cabin fever. Almost every corner of the galaxy was occupied by the First Order, and as more systems succumbed, the bolder they became in their conquests. Even in the Outer Rim, finding a free planet was next to impossible, while finding a welcoming one was literally impossible. Their life was nomadic; their home was hyperspace.

When one is confined, the mind wanders. Unfortunately for Rey, her mind always wandered down the same path: the one that led to Be- no, Kylo Ren.

With the lack of sunlight, Rey could no longer tell the difference between daydreams, sleeping dreams, and reality. She would imagine his brawn fitting into the small pilot seats. She pictured how he would have to bend his knees and lay on his side to sleep on the bunks, and how comfortable it would be to curl up with him, cramped bunk and all.

Of course, Rey always dismissed these fantasies. They were in the midst of a war, and they were losing. Daydreams were the last of Rey’s priorities. Even though she dismissed these dreams, Rey was far from displeased when their subject paid a visit.

When she was sucked into the familiar feeling of sensory deprivation, Rey could feel her soul sigh. She wanted to melt into the Force’s mute limbo and stay there forever, that is, until he opened his mouth.

“Get out,” he growled. Rey’s mind told her to spurn him, but her heart ached at his voice’s deep, rough tone . Even after she severed their interstellar argument, Rey’s heart cried out for him. Every inch of her being and her soul yearned for that man.

Without him, she was a moon, abandoned and planetless in an empty galaxy. The Force’s gravity kept pulling these two lone bodies together. Why couldn’t they just give in? Why couldn’t they just collide?


 

Life didn’t get any less monotonous when the Resistance finally landed. After weeks of recon and espionage, the Resistance received intel that the old Hoth base was empty. The First Order continued to ignore the ice planet; it didn’t offer any resources, there were no intelligent life-forms to conquer, and it was pretty much hell. The maddening star lines were replaced by endless hills of blinding white snow. At this point, Rey didn’t know which was worse.

As an added bonus, Rey was constantly freezing. Even in the base, the artificial heaters could not possibly pump warm air fast enough to please the desert native. To keep warm, Rey took to fixing old X-Wings. The blistering heat of the welder, the exhaust from the engine, and the warmth of her exertion were enough like Jakku to keep Rey from turning into an icicle, if barely.

After two weeks on Hoth, Rey was able to fix an old X-Wing until it was practically new. She was just finishing up some of the wiring when a flash of red lights startled her. “Kriff,” she cried in pain after dropping a hammer on her foot. The red light flashed again, but with a partner: a siren. “Kriff!” Rey exclaimed even louder. The light wasn’t a droid or tech; it was an alarm.

A female officer’s frantic voice rang through the base’s crackling speakers. “The remaining Rebellion equipment has detected an unfamiliar fighter in Hoth’s orbit. All exits are to be closed off immediately. All personnel: report to your commanding officers. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill.” The announcement went out with a final crackle, but the sound was lost in the cacophony of pilots and mechanics rushing to secure the base. Rey could practically taste the collective anxiety in the air.

Rey quickly excavated herself from the X-Wing’s body. Normally, Rey’s commanding officer would be Poe. This was simply a formality; no one in the Resistance truly commanded her. She was the last Jedi. Unfortunately, Poe was off-world on some top-secret reconnaissance mission. The next person in the hierarchy was Leia Organa herself.

Rey set a course for the main logistics room to try and track down the general. No sooner had Rey entered the snowy hallway than a flickering blue hologram materialized out of the miniature datapad on her wrist.

“Go back to the hangar now!” The General shouted. The worried tone only increased Rey’s own anxieties; Leia was always such a level-headed woman. “My best pilot is across the galaxy and you’re all that I have left. I need you to investigate our guest.” Her tone cooled slightly; she clearly sensed Rey’s tension.

“Copy that, General.” Rey’s reply was quick and militaristic. She was just about to sign off the hologram when Leia interrupted.

“May the Force be with you, Rey.” Leia’s voice quavered a little as she spoke the familiar phrase. Rey only gave her a brisk nod and slight smile before turning the device off. She immediately broke out into a sprint, back towards the hangar.

“Where are you going?” Jessika Pava queried.

Rey formulated her answer with care. She didn’t want to worry her comrades. “Just checking it out, it’s probably nothing.”

Rey didn’t wait to see her friend’s reaction before she swung herself lithely into the X-Wing’s cockpit. A random R-series unit joined her as her copilot. The idea of flying with an unfamiliar droid made Rey’s stomach churn. She would much rather fly with R2-D2 or BB-8, especially when confronting an unknown craft.

She had restored her ship from the Rebellion days. Though she replaced every stripped wire, greased every axle, shined the transparisteel, and ironed out the dents, the ship remained rickety and every movement was a teeth-shattering jolt. The droid beeped nervously as they fired up the engines.

“Me too, buddy,” Rey mumbled, but she continued the start-up process. With a screech, the X-Wing took flight and Rey was off.

Rey flew at breakneck speed through Hoth’s atmosphere. She was passing through the second sphere when a comm came through the old equipment.

“This is General Organa, do you read?” Leia’s familiar tone was comforting.

“I hear you,” Rey’s voice shook.

Leia sighed with relief at the reply. “Okay, Rey. I want you to fly under the radar, so to speak. They shouldn’t know you’re there. We have no idea whether they’re friend or foe. You were sent simply to get a look. Donot engage.”

The last order echoed in Rey’s ears. She wouldn’t engage them, but would they attack her? Rey would find out soon enough. She was about to break orbit.

The second she left Hoth’s gaseous atmosphere’s protective cover, Rey saw Kylo’s flagship, the Finalizer.

“Oh kriff.” Rey breathed. With shaking hands, Rey started fiddling with the ship’s controls, a desperate attempt to turn around.

“R4, I need you to contact the Resistance right now!” Rey could not hide the fear in her voice.

The droid twittered in anxious binary as it commed the Resistance. There was an electronic beep to signal that the base was on the line. Rey didn’t wait for a call sign or greeting to start shouting her message. “It’s the Finalizer. The First Order has found us. Evacuate personnel and send backup now!”

Rey didn’t hear the reply. Obsidian TIE-fighters were already pouring out of the Finalizer’s underbelly like a swarm of insects. Her survival instincts were starting to kick in. She grew up dodging pirates and conniving Teedos; a few hundred trained pilots were hardly different.

The craft’s wings were vertical with Rey’s sharp jerk of the wheel. When the craft flipped around, her vision was overwhelmed by the ice planet’s white expanse. The old X-wing began barrelling back towards the atmosphere.

R4’s beeps were positively frantic. The normally black radar screen was almost solidly red with the TIE swarm aimed at Rey. R4 was right.

In desperation, Rey reached out with the Force, looking for any possible way to get herself out of this mess. Mercifully, she sensed a piece of space junk not too far from her in Hoth’s orbit. The X-Wing jolted again as Rey sprinted towards cover.

Rey spotted it almost instantly; the space junk was large durasteel that appeared to have been blasted off an old Imperial fighter. It was big enough to conceal Rey and it looked solid enough to block blaster shots.

“Thank the Maker,” she breathed as she parked the X-Wing behind it. Perhaps this and the other space junk could confuse the scanners long enough for back-up to arrive. It was wishful thinking, but it was Rey’s only hope.

She turned off all of the X-Wing’s unnecessary functions, so the First Order crafts couldn’t splice her data or track her location. Unfortunately, this also meant cutting off communication with the Resistance.

Rey’s breath shook as she sat in the dark cockpit. It felt like she was a sitting duck, just waiting for her demise. This moment of relative peace was short-lived.

“They’re coming, they’re coming now! R4’s binary split the silent vacuum of space.

Not a second later, a blast knocked Rey’s durasteel hiding spot. With the Force, she anticipated the hit, just barely backing up quickly enough to avoid a collision.

A barrage of crimson bolts raced towards the X-Wing. Rey predicted each shot. She spun the craft in a corkscrew motion, a desperate attempt to avoid the blasts. To avoid a TIE headed right at her, Rey had to send the X-Wing into a dizzying backflip. They were so close to crashing that if he hadn’t been wearing a mask, Rey would have been able to see the whites of the stormtrooper’s eyes.

This dance of ships was interrupted when Rey’s gaze found a single TIE Silencer among the ranks. Her breath hitched and her heart raced even more. Even with all the chaos around her, this sight scared her the most.

All the sounds of the surrounding battle were suddenly overwhelmed by an intense ringing in her ears. Rey’s hands shook over the controls as he appeared before her. It was like she was seeing double. Right in front of her was Be- Kylo, piloting a ship while surrounded by a halo of red blaster bolts, but only a few meters behind him was the same man, seated in a the same menacing craft.

“Watch your aft,” he whispered gently.

She took his word for it, and turned. A bolt flew between the twin-wings on the ship’s right side, precisely where the tail had been a moment prior. Why would he warn her? So he could kill her himself?

Finally, more X-Wings arrived. Rey regretted the request immediately; more TIEs were also joining the battle, so they were thoroughly outnumbered, even with back-up. She shouldn’t have pulled the other pilots into this mess.

Rey’s vision was swimming from the bond. With the sea of identical crafts, and the overlay of Kylo’s view and her own, her mind was reeling.

The two Force users watched the battle in tandem. Neither dared make a shot; they couldn’t tell who was seeing what and if the enemy craft was in front of them or their bond-mate. Navigation was equally impossible with this overwhelming perception. It wasn’t until the blast that Rey knew which view was hers. The TIE fighter was indeed trailing her, and not Kylo.

As the blaster bolt collided with the X-Wing, the universe moved in slow motion. Blinding white light blossomed out of the craft’s side, overtaking Rey’s view of the battle. Her helmet crashed into the cockpit’s transparisteel as the ship was jostled by the blow. She felt the heat and sparks rising around her, burning her lungs.

Slowly, her eyelids began to droop as her view blurred. Just before Rey lost consciousness, her heart was shot through with anguish. The last thing Rey heard was a man screaming in pain. It’s the sound of heartbreak, she thought before everything went black.


 

When the bond was severed, time stood still. Kylo was paralyzed while he watched the X-Wing’s slow destruction . The blast grew, shrapnel spread, and the craft was engulfed. His eyes were glued to the craft spiralling through the littered atmosphere, propelled by the blast’s sheer force. The inferno was caught in the Finalizer’s tractor beam, still spinning as the craft was pulled in. It was macabre, watching Rey’s ship be destroyed; supremely disturbing, yet he couldn’t look away.

He didn’t even realize he was screaming until his head started to spin. Every last breath was squandered away as Kylo vocalized his grief. Tears pricked his eyes; whether it be from the exertion, or the pain, he didn’t know.

Slowly, his senses returned. He could began to feel his palms ache from his vice-like grip on the steering mechanism. He could see the battle raging around him, and around the girl’s craft. He could smell smoke in the air and taste his sweat’s salt.

Kylo’s stupor was broken by an onslaught of shrill voices. “Supreme Leader, what do you command?”

“Lord Ren, why are you stalled?”

“This is a warzone, stop napping, Ren.” Luckily for that last trooper, Kylo was rather busy at the moment. If he had been any less preoccupied, that man would have been strangled by now.

The Silencer turned towards the nearest Resistance craft. Kylo couldn’t help but notice how beat up the old X-Wing already was. It looked as if it had been pulled from a crash and pieced back together, a stark contrast to the glistening ebony TIEs that surrounded it. Without a thought, Kylo shot at the foe; he was not expecting the pang of hurt as he felt the Force signature flicker out. He didn’t dwell on the odd feeling; they were just a pawn in the war.

Kylo was struck by how pathetically outnumbered the Resistance fighters were. The lack of fighters was quickly catching up to them. They were winking out like candles, attacked from every angle. For each battered X-Wing, there were 20 pristine TIEs. Kylo felt every death echo in the Force. He almost pitied the Resistance scum. Why would they keep fighting when they had already lost?

As the battle raged on, one craft continued to evade every blast. The stormtrooper pilots were heavily trained, but they did not have Kylo’s pure instinct. He knew he could take down this talented pilot.

The X-Wing and the Silencer danced through the maze of broken crafts and space junk. The pilot flew with a swift nimbleness that volunteer Resistance pilots rarely possessed. Kylo couldn’t help but admire their skill. Unfortunately for them, Kylo was simply a better pilot with a superior craft.

He was nipping at their heels, firing off unaimed shots every few seconds to make them sweat. One of the left wings clipped a fallen comrade’s cockpit. The Dark Side of the Force swelled in Kylo’s chest and a menacing grin made his full lips twitch. They were starting to panic. He had them.

The radar whirred as Kylo honed in on the other fighter. They were right in his sights. He was lined up to take the shot, thumb poised over the trigger.

Pain shot through his heart. At first, Kylo thought that he had been attacked from the rear while he was preoccupied with the single fighter. But he soon realized that this was a phantom pain. It belonged to someone else.

“Rey.” Her name was a prayer across his lips. She was alive.

In his moment of hesitation, the X-Wing was able to escape. Kylo couldn’t have cared less; all that mattered in that moment was his beautiful Rey was alive. Kylo reached out further through the Force. It was difficult; all the pain, excitement, and anger of the battle clouded his senses. But he knew her signature like the back of his hand.

When he pinpointed her presence, Kylo sighed in relief. It was faint and unconscious, but it was there.

Less than a hundred meters away from Rey’s sweet presence was the sour, shallow signature of none other than General Hux. Kylo absolutely would not allow that snake anywhere near her.

Kylo turned the TIE around faster than he believed possible. In less than a second, he was speeding back towards the Finalizer, determined to save his bondmate.

Kylo ignored the raging battle; each blaster bolt and craft was simply an obstacle in his race to Rey. The Finalizer’s shields barely had time to open before Kylo sent the Silencer barreling through the gap. When he touched down in the hangar, he neglected to use the landing gear. There was no point in piloting a gentle landing; it was just a waste of time. His ship’s hull screeched across the hangar floor. The shrill sound of metal against metal gave him goosebumps.

The Supreme Leader sprinted across the hangar with booming steps. All the officers and troopers looked on in bemusement as Kylo strode his path. Questions and exclamations were thrown at him from every direction, all of which he brushed off immediately.

The X-Wing was in shambles. The blaster bolt damaged side was charred beyond recognition; the ship’s call sign was erased by soot. Durasteel plates hung off at awkward angles all around the craft. The transparisteel around the cockpit was shattered and foggy. However, compared to its pilot, the X-Wing was in tip-top shape.

Rey was beautiful, broken, and trapped in the durasteel tangle. Her left side was an angry scarlet with smoke rising off her burnt flesh. Her hair was wild and plastered to her face with blood and sweat; her entire body was limp. If Kylo hadn’t known better, he’d presume she was dead.

Hanging over her was an orange haired monster. His hands were behind his back as he surveyed the girl, similar to how one would look at a zoo animal. Hux’s nose was crinkled in disgust, but his eyes sparkled with intrigue and curiosity. Kylo knew that face; the General was plotting.

With one swift movement, Kylo shoved the pitiful man off the craft and into the stormtrooper ranks. Hux screamed in dismay and flung profanities at the Supreme Leader as troopers helped the crumpled man to his feet. Kylo continued on his course.

His hands burned as he climbed over the X-Wing wreckage; the durasteel was still white-hot from the blast. The cockpit’s shattered transparisteel tinkled and tumbled as his cowl brushed past. He entered the cockpit gently, not wanting to disturb the pilot. Rey did not look any better up close. Seeing the strong woman so broken and bloodied made Kylo’s heart ache.

Stop! She’s the enemy. She does not deserve sympathy! Kylo’s inner darkness screamed. He chastised himself for his wayward heart; his compassion was just the byproduct of their bond, nothing more. The only reason to keep Rey safe was for interrogation, of course, Kylo tried to convince himself.

Yet his gloved hands still shook with concern as he reached out to touch her. Ever so carefully, Kylo brushed Rey’s less-injured right hand with his own. Her pulse was fluttery and shallow and her breaths were wheezing. With brisk but gentle hands, Kylo shifted Rey’s limp form into his arms. He used the Force to sense where she was most broken, so he knew how best to hoist her up. Kylo was keenly aware of her body’s warmth pressed against his chest. He cradled her like a bride; an unconscious, blood-soaked bride. The action gave Kylo deja vu, but something about how he held Rey now was far more intimate. When he carried her on Takodana, it was utilitarian where now it was tender. Kylo crossed the hangar with long, smooth strides so as not to jostle her.


 

The room was cold. The air felt unnatural and dry, like it was being filtered. Beeping berated fatigued ears.

Where am I? Rey thought blearily.

She peeled her heavy lids apart and opened her eyes. For a solid minute, everything was just a blur of colors, predominantly black, grey, and red. Rey reached up to rub the sleep from her eyes.  Slowly, she realized just how many contraptions to which she was connected: a needle in her arm, sticky nodes stuck on her forehead and chest, and an oxygen mask covered her nose and mouth. Rey quickly ripped away the device, desperate to remove the mask, to taste fresh air.

Her vision was starting to clear. The industrial room came into focus, revealing the durasteel walls, spotless medical equipment, and an unwelcoming aura. Oddly, the room didn’t seem to be a part of the medbay; she was lying on silk bed sheets, and the room was completely private with no nurses or droids. Nonetheless, there was no doubt that she was on a First Order ship. Rey’s mind was sluggish from medication and sleep, but it began to race.

In a frenzy, Rey’s eyes darted about the room, searching for an escape. Using the Force as an aid was out of the question; her mind was too fogged and fearful, and her body was weak. There was only one main door which was probably guarded, but there had to be another way, perhaps a corner duct.

That’s when she saw him. The normally intimidating, brooding Supreme Leader was squished in a corner on a comically small stool. His beautiful face was distorted with his cheek pressed against the wall and his jaw hung slack. Broad shoulders rose and fell with soft, slow breaths. He was fast asleep.

For a moment, Rey wanted to giggle. Kylo Ren looked so young, like a child that dozed off on a long trip through hyperspace. It was almost cute.

No, Rey chastised herself. This man was not cute. He was a war criminal and he killed his own father. Yes, there was still light in him, but he was still far from earning redemption for his crimes.

But why was he here? Had he saved her when her craft was shot down? Was the formidable Kylo Ren watching her worriedly, waiting for her to wake up? Or was she simply his prisoner?

Being completely lost in her thoughts, Rey didn’t register when she slid off the bed, or when she started to shuffle towards him. Something pulled her towards him mercilessly. Rey was a spiralling, lonely galaxy on a collision course. The gravity between them was tangible; the magnetism was undeniable.

Rey had to physically shake herself to stop. The man was almost hypnotic, but she couldn’t allow him to distract her from her escape. She tore her eyes away and made for the door which, suspiciously, was unlocked. Did he trust her to not leave? Or did he trust himself not to be asleep when she woke up?

Rey tread lightly across the cruiser’s polished black floors. Her feet were bare and she was clad in only a medical gown; she stuck out like a sore thumb. She had to find some proper clothes and fast.

Monitoring Force signatures was an arduous task; she was still practically a walking corpse from her coma. Mercifully, the crew was spread thin in this sector, which appeared to be officers’ rooms . Everyone must have been at their posts. Soon enough, Rey found a room to duck into, far from the few lifeforms on the ship.

Rey was lucky; the rooms obviously belonged to a woman. They still maintained the First Order minimalist aesthetic, but there were additional black throw pillows, decorative vases, and a flowery perfume. Rey hastily began rifling through the armoire.

“Why is everything kriffing black,” Rey mumbled. She could hardly tell the difference between the pants, tops, and overclothes, as they were all made of the same fabric.

“Finally!” She exclaimed when she found the blouse to complete the uniform. Rey closed the armoire, turned heel and nearly tripped over a menacing black BB unit.

Rey silently cursed her recklessness. In her tired state, she had monitored organic lifeforms, but completely neglected droids, something that any military cruiser was swarming with.

In a panic, Rey stitched together an unlikely story. “There was a fuel spill down in the hangar. I had to immediately discard my clothes, as they were a chemical hazard.”

The fib was interrupted by alarms sounding. The BB unit echoed the noise at a higher, more obnoxious frequency. Somehow, the droid’s frozen features looked pleased at its mischief.

“Nice meeting you, roundy,” Rey quipped as she darted for the door.

Rey ran down the dark halls faster than she had ever run before. She had no idea where she was going, but she had to create some distance between herself and the little mechanical minion. Her legs began to cramp as she sprinted. A bead of sweat ran down her forehead.

Over the siren, Rey’s hypersensitive ears picked up the sound of marching straight ahead. With a sigh, she started racing back in the prior direction, but soon the marching was approaching that way as well.

Her heart raced with adrenaline. If they found her, she would surely be executed. In desperation, she pressed the entrance button to every room she passed, but none opened. The ship was in lockdown.

Rey’s heart drummed in time with her approaching executioners’ march. Squads were just around the corner on both sides. All the doors were locked. There was not a vent in sight. She was doomed.

Rey closed her eyes when they arrived. She did not want the last thing she saw to be a stormtrooper mask’s blank stare. Instead, Rey imagined the island on Ahch-To. She recalled the feeling of the salt in her hair. The roar of the waves. The twinkle of pretty brown eyes in firelight.

“Ah, if it isn’t my little sand rat.”

Chapter Text

Kylo’s dreams were all endless expanses of golden, tanned skin and sin. In his slumber, Rey wanted him just as much as he wanted her. Her sultry whispers gave him shivers. Kylo would have slept forever if it meant this dream continued. Unfortunately, the scene was quickly shifting. Behind Kylo’s shuttered lids, fuzzy colors and shapes began to focus into a dream world.

In the newly formed vision, Rey was no longer keening under his touch; she was crying from fear. The fear pierced Kylo as if it were his own. Vaguely, he wondered if this was actually his dream, or hers.

Kylo watched her path through the dream from afar. It was like he was watching a holo-movie of Rey sneaking about the Finalizer. Everything seemed fuzzy and just slightly unreal. The stormtrooper helmets, for one, were distorted into angry faces with eyebrows that scowled so deeply, their viewports were almost entirely obscured by their disdainful expression.

Rey, however, looked ethereal in the dream’s filter; the medical gown morphed into a flowing white shift and she seemed to float across the sparkling floors, never setting a foot on the ground. Kylo wondered if that is what the fabled angels looked like, glowing and graceful.

The scene jumped, and as Kylo took it in, his breath hitched. She was surrounded by menacing stormtrooper hoards. Through the bond, Kylo felt how their armored hands grabbed and shoved and bruised her tender flesh. He winced when they yanked her arms behind her back; the greedy hands held her like a vice. Rey’s yelps made Kylo’s heart ache. Her angelic glow was faltering.

Out of the shadows stepped a demonic Hux. The shadows followed him as he moved, cloaking him in an aura of darkness. His fiery red hair morphed into crackling flames. His wicked smile spread further than humanly possible so that every one of his sharp, glistening teeth was on display. Armitage Hux was a beast, born of pure evil.

A forked tongue flicked past Hux’s pale lips as he leaned over the angel. His eyes held the same hellfire as his hair while he lustily appraised his captive. Hux’s bony fingers caressed her sunkissed cheek.

Kylo instinctually wanted to run and save her, but the Force held him in an unbreakable embrace. His feet felt like they were glued to the ground. Kylo cursed the Force’s cruelty in obligating him to watch the abhorrent scene. It was unbearable.

Hux’s touch ran down her arm’s creamy skin. Rage boiled in every fiber of Kylo’s being. The demon would have continued if a stormtrooper hadn’t shoved heavy shackles into his grasp. Hux weighed the chains in his hands and grinned. With agonizingly slow movements, the demon bound Rey and locked her restraints. He relished chaining her up.

With a click, the bindings were set. The little movement had a painful finality to it. Hux’s beastly dark aura encircled her as Rey’s, in all her light, continued to break free.

Kylo awoke with a start as the vision ended. His heart raced and sweat dripped down his forehead. Though the images of the dream were distorted, there was a sense of cold reality to the dream, as if it had actually happened.

He was so shaken up by what he had just witnessed that it took Kylo a moment to notice what had awoken him: a blaring security alarm.

Kylo fell from his corner perch without any grace, startled by the unexpected wake-up call. He didn’t know when he fell asleep; one moment he was keeping a careful watch over Rey, the next, he was jolted back to consciousness. The room was filled with a red emergency light and the alarms echoed around the metallic interior.

He righted himself swiftly and made for the door. He had to leave his quarters before the ship went on full lockdown. His aching joints went unnoticed in his haste, along with the absence of the woman over whom he kept vigil.

Kylo poked his head out to survey the hall for threats before exiting the room. The hall was empty, and he wasn’t sure whether that sated his anxiety or spurred it. He jogged through the deserted hallway, his large boots booming below him. When he turned a corner, he almost ran into a stormtrooper.

“Trooper!” he called authoritatively. “What is going on? I don’t recall a drill on the schedule.” The infernal pawn simply kept sprinting down the hall. Kylo huffed at the insubordination.

Another stormtrooper passed a moment later, so Kylo shouted towards him. “Can any of you bantha fodder tell me what the hell is going on?” His normally deep voice nearly cracked with frustration as the new ‘trooper ignored him as well. Kylo growled in annoyance as he began to follow the ivory clad soldiers.

He tracked them as they turned right, then left, then left again through the identical hallways. Kylo nearly bowled them over when they suddenly skidded to a stop.

The pair of troopers stood at attention, blasters held stiffly at their sides and hands raised in a robotic salute as they greeted their commanding officer. General Hux ignored them entirely.

“So good to see you, Supreme Leader.” Hux bent down in a deep, infuriatingly condescending bow. “I believe thanks are in order,” he jeered.

“For what could I possibly have to thank you, General?” Kylo snarled. Hatred and fury churned in his stomach, threatening to consume him.

Hux’s menacing grin spread further. He loved to see Kylo angry, as long as he wasn’t being choked. “For rescuing your pet, of course! She escaped her cage while her master dozed. You’re lucky I found her, she could have hurt herself!”

It was all Kylo could do not to kill the man on the spot. A feral growl escaped his lips. In the deeper, logical part of Kylo’s brain, he knew his reaction was only encouraging Hux. The General relished Kylo’s pain.

“I was being kind, allowing you to keep her. It hurts me to say that I just can’t allow you to pet-sit her any longer,” Hux declared with feigned disappointment. “She is a war criminal, a traitor and public enemy number one. She cannot be allowed such a long leash.”

“What have you done with her?” Kylo hissed through gritted teeth. His palms began to bleed as he tightened his fists, driving his nails deeper into the skin. It was the only thing preventing Kylo from committing murder.

Hux drawled on as if he hadn’t heard Kylo’s question. “She is quite the fine specimen, actually. I would be more than happy to take her from you if you can’t keep her under control. I’ve been looking for a new companion.”

In the blink of an eye, both of Kylo’s hands wrapped around Hux’s pale neck. The General’s body slammed against the durasteel wall behind him, driving the little breath he had left out of his lungs.

“Tell me where she is, you kriffing snake!” Kylo didn’t know from where the feeble insult came. Nonetheless, the command’s deepness and sheer volume rendered the words terrifying. He was fueled by a righteous anger and he could no longer put up with the ginger imp toying with him.

“High security,” Hux croaked through his crushed windpipe. He gulped another rattling breath. “Prison.” His face was turning purple.

Reluctantly, Kylo released his death grip. The General collapsed to the floor, panting. Normally, Kylo would have yelled more, but it wasn’t worth the effort. Kylo had to find Rey and explain everything. Moreover, he needed to see that she was unscathed. If there was but a scratch on her, Kylo swore he would actually kill Hux.

Moving through his flagship’s halls, Kylo thanked his lucky stars for the familiarity; he was able to get to Rey faster.

Kylo tapped his toes impatiently as the lift took him to the brig. A sick feeling settled in his stomach when he remembered riding a turbolift with Rey. Kylo had put her in shackles and was taking her to the Supreme Leader to be punished. Now, his goal was to break her chains and free her. The irony was cloying.

Finally, the doors slid open with a hiss. Kylo stomped out and towards the communication desk, on which a number of stormtroopers leaned, chatting and tossing a little crocheted ball back and forth.

Kylo’s clenched fists slammed against the dash. The stormtrooper nearest him let out an embarrassing squeak, and all the men frenziedly moved to stand at attention.

The captain began to sputter through his chagrin. “I apologize for our unprofessional state, Lord Ren, umm, Supreme Leader. We only have a handful of prisoners and we…”

Kylo threw up a hand to silence the man. “Silence. Just tell me where the damn Jedi is.”

The captain began mumbling apologies once more as he searched the database for Rey’s cell number. He was probably sweating through his armor.

“She’s in cellblock 7B.” The man shakily added, “Would you like to be escorted down there, erm, my lord?”

Kylo merely rolled his eyes at the little weasel of a stormtrooper. How did a soldier so jittery become the captain in charge of the First Order flagship’s prison? He dismissed the thought, then quickened his pace towards Rey’s cell.

When Kylo arrived at the correct cell, he punched in his personal override code; being the Supreme Leader had some benefits. As the ray shield whirred and the blast doors whooshed open, Kylo realized he had no idea what he was planning to say to Rey. He assumed she would not take her confinement very well at all.

Before he could speak, Rey solved his dilemma.

“Come in!” Rey’s greeting was full of sarcasm and ire. “As if I could deny your entry,” she added, grumbling.

Kylo’s ears burned red beneath his hair. Rey was already staring daggers into him from her metal bunk. Her arms were crossed tightly across her chest and her lips frowned thinly and sternly.

Taking a deep breath, Kylo squared his shoulders and entered the cell. As he crossed the threshold, he immediately felt the Force being torn from him. He eyed the ysalamiri cage in the corner indignantly before he turned to Rey and spoke. “I apologize for Hux,” he started.

Rey let out an exaggerated sigh and threw her head back. “Is he the only one at fault here?”

“And the stormtroopers,” Kylo added, hoping that would calm her.

“You’re impossible! Do you truly not understand my issue here?” Rey exclaimed as she threw herself down on the bunk. She covered her face with her forearm, and her chest heaved in exasperation.

Kylo bit his lip and pinched the bridge of his nose as he carefully chose his words. “I understand you’re frustrated. But I didn’t put you in here, Hux did.”

Rey shot off her bed and crossed the room in the blink of an eye. Kylo swore he could see steam coming out of her ears as she met his gaze.

“Seriously, Kylo,” Rey huffed, her face set in a scowl. Kylo couldn’t help but notice how incredibly close they were; her nose was nearly bumping his. “You must realize that you’re the reason I’m in this mess! My ship was shot down by your men. I was captured by your men. I was imprisoned by your men.” She punctuated her statement by lightly jabbing his chest with her forefinger.

Kylo ran his fingers through his curls. He knew his reply would just make her angrier, but he couldn’t just stand there silently. His pride was deflated.

“I didn’t ask them to do any of that. I would never ask them to do that.” Kylo’s chagrined mumbles were barely audible.

“You didn’t have to! You leading the First Order is enough! You’re just feeding the beast,” Rey whimpered.

Kylo pouted at her accusation. “Just because some members of the First Order are deplorable, doesn’t make the entire institution so.”

“Force, Ben!” Kylo flinched. He had never heard her speak his birth name with such frustration. Rey rubbed her temples as she attempted to center herself. “The entire institution is deplorable!”

“And so everyone in it?” His deep voice rumbled through gritted teeth.

“Yes!” Rey shouted as she threw her hands into the air.

“Including me?” Kylo’s words continued to crescendo in volume and frustration.

Rey hesitated for an instant. Without a word, she turned away from him and crossed her arms like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Kylo felt his own tantrum coming on.

“You’re impossible!” He echoed her earlier insult as he stormed out of the room.


 

Later that night, Kylo laid awake, unable to sleep yet again. He tossed and he turned on his too-smooth silk bed sheets while he recounted the day’s events. Kylo struggled to keep his emotions in check as he thought of Rey’s pain and stubbornness. To be fair, he would be in a touchy mood, too, if he were locked in a cell.

He eventually was able to turn off his mind, and he fell into a restless sleep.  And of course, there was a spiralling galaxy before him yet again.

Kylo huffed with frustration. The universe was mocking him. Every time he talked to Rey, he felt as if his whole life spiralled out of control. The universe reminded him of his failures by giving him a damned spiralling star system to taunt him.

Guilt clouded his mind as when he woke from the familiar dream. He had treated Rey unfairly last night. When they spoke, Kylo was as volatile and fiery as a newborn sun. She was shaken up from her capture, yet he spat at her.

“I’m such an idiot,” Kylo cursed himself.

He should have protected her. She was supposed to be under his care as she recovered, yet he allowed her to slip away, straight into Hux’s grasp. None of this would have happened if he had been awake when Rey tried to escape. None of this would have happened if he weren’t part of the First Order.


 

Kylo resolved to visit Rey again, to make up for how he treated her the night before. He couldn’t stop thinking about the vision he saw during Rey’s escape, how she trembled with fear, how the monster purred at her sight. It didn’t matter that she had spurned him; he couldn’t stay away from her another moment. Kylo would not allow those men to touch her ever again.

He took to the ‘fresher then dressed with record-breaking speed. As he yanked on his boots with one hand, Kylo used a datapad to order a hot breakfast. The platter of food arrived quickly, balanced in a droid’s mechanical hands, but of course, not quickly enough for Kylo. Every moment apart from Rey was a moment that she was unprotected from the monstrous Hux.

The thought of seeing her again, his gorgeous, obnoxious, frustrating Rey, made him grin as he left his quarters. Kylo’s feet slid across the polished floors as he rounded a corner. He skillfully avoided wandering mouse droids while simultaneously preventing his porridge from spilling off the plate.

Kylo waved away the useless guards and passed into the detention center without a hitch. No one questioned him about the heaping plate of food or why he was so interested in this particular prisoner. Kylo’s grin grew at the effortlessness. Perhaps his luck was changing and maybe his luck with Rey was improving along with it.

The rare glimpse of optimism was short-lived. Once the ray and blast shields were lowered, Kylo was faced with an utterly depressing scene. Rey, who was normally the personification of sunlight and joy, was huddled into a hard bunk corner with her back to the door. An unappetizing plate of foodstuff laid untouched beside the bunk. Her head rested against at the intersection of the two walls and her three buns were frizzy and falling out. Her tanned skin seemed to have lost all color overnight. Kylo winced with guilt.

“I’ve brought you food.” The voice that escaped Kylo’s lips was that of an awkward, lovesick teenage boy, not a Supreme Leader. “It’s not great, but I’m sure it’s better than prison slop.”

Rey gave his presence no acknowledgement, not even a restless shift. She was determined to make him stew in his guilt. Undeterred, Kylo continued. “I know you’re stubborn, but please, eat.” He softly set the plate on the ground right in front of the door. “Please. If not for yourself, then for your friends. They wouldn’t want you to starve.” Kylo couldn’t say why exactly he added that last part. He didn’t care about the traitor or the pilot at all, but he would say anything if it kept Rey from starving herself.

Kylo left the cell in silence. He knew what Rey wanted him to say. Her whole soul pleaded with him to help her escape. Her mind was already reeling with plans, all she needed was him. If he would only help her, she would be out of her in no time, having access to all the codes and ships the First Order had. Kylo shared this wish; he hated seeing her in that cell, but he had no idea how he could ever get away with her release without his men seeing that he aided her. He needed time to think.


 

When Kylo returned that evening, Rey was softly snoring in her bunk. Without a word, he replaced the old dish with the new, food-laden platter.

Her ears pricked at the tinkle of porcelain against the floor. Rey let out a yawn and stretched. Her movements were stiff as she turned around to look at him. Kylo was frozen in surprise when her hazel eyes found his. Her eyes were wide and longing, worried, but still alight with their characteristic spark. Her gaze pleaded with him. Guilt burned through Kylo as he met her beseeching eyes. He still had no idea how to help her. He left the room without a word.

Kylo’s perpetual pout deepened as he plodded through the cell block and onto the turbolift. The idea of Rey, in all her beauty and light, being holed up and imprisoned was utterly painful. She belonged planetside, bathed in sunlight, amongst the flora. She deserved the freedom to run and dance and use the Force without restraint. It was a sin keeping her here.

The turbolift’s whir paused unexpectedly, its ascent interrupted. Kylo scowled in confusion; at this time of day, most of the crew was deep in their work, so there was not much traffic on the lifts.

Probably just a messenger, Kylo reasoned as the doors began to crack open.

The gap widened and the first thing Kylo registered was an unsavory shade of orange. It was all Kylo could do not to groan at the sight of his top General. Hux was the last person he wanted to share a long ride on the turbolift with.

Kylo kept his gaze trained straight ahead, just past Hux’s head, refusing to acknowledge his presence. Kylo had never liked the man, but after last night’s events, he downright hated him. Any respect Kylo had for his inferior was forever dashed following Rey’s capture.

“Supreme Leader,” Hux greeted smugly. Knowing Hux would continue his nagging if he was ignored, Kylo grunted in response. Kylo’s knuckles were already turning white when Hux came to stand beside him.

Kylo held his breath as the lift propelled upwards. The tension was so thick, he could slice it with a knife. Hux was rarely so quiet; he was undoubtedly reveling in Kylo’s discomfort. The ride up to his quarters had never felt so long.

“You’d be pleased to know that the new batch of stormtroopers are doing well.” Hux’s lips curled with pride. “After FN-2187, I made it my mission to improve the conditioning protocol. You’ll be pleased to know that these knew troopers have proven to be particularly loyal soldiers.”

The declaration made Kylo’s stomach churn. There was no need to ask who these troopers were loyal to. Kylo was never particularly popular among the First Order’s ranks; he refused to speak publicly, he destroyed their hard work in fits of rage, and his Force abilities inspired fear rather than trust.

Hux, on the other hand, was applauded for his rousing, impassioned speeches. He was deified by the stormtroopers as the man who led the program that taught them to be soldiers. Even though it was ultimately destroyed, the First Order thought of Starkiller Base as their first true showing of strength to the galaxy, and of course, much of the credit was bestowed upon Hux. In the minds of every soldier, General Armitage Hux was truly the leader of the First Order.

As soon as the doors to the turbolift opened at Kylo’s level, he stormed out of the confined space. It had been years since Kylo allowed Hux to get under his skin as deeply as he just had. Usually, Kylo could simply blow off whatever bitter remarks the ginger made, but currently, his mind was racing with all the implications their brief meeting.

Hux’s assertion regarding the stormtrooper’s loyalty only confirmed Kylo’s suspicions. To the stormtroopers and officers of the First Order, Kylo was merely a figurehead, a man put on a pedestal to display the dark power they had over the galaxy. Yes, he was the Supreme Leader, but if the soldiers were forced to choose, they would side with Hux in a heartbeat. If Kylo showed any sign of weakness, they would revolt.

As Kylo approached his room, he realized that the meeting he and Hux had in the elevator wasn’t a mistake; it was an ultimatum.


 

Kylo returned to Rey’s cell the following morning with his tail between his legs. The fact that she was still in a cell was fundamentally wrong, but after his run-in with Hux the previous night, Kylo was afraid to do anything to help her escape.

“Thanks,” she whispered when she heard the plates tinkling.

Kylo had to shake free from shock to reply, “You’re welcome.” He looked down at his boots awkwardly. “Do you need anything?” He asked gently.

With a chuckle, Rey quipped, “Parole.” Kylo couldn’t help but grin at the dark humor. Emboldened, Rey continued, “Or maybe some muja muffins. That would do too. ” It was impossible to tell whether she was being serious, sarcastic, or both.

“The things I do for you, sweetheart.” Kylo sighed with feigned irritation. In reality, he found Rey’s spunk quite endearing, but not as endearing as the rosy blush that colored her cheeks when he called her sweetheart.

“Please,” Rey begged, “sit with me.”

Kylo was momentarily dumbstruck at the request. His heart skipped a few beats. Her green-flecked eyes were beseeching, confirming her earnesty. She genuinely wanted him to stay.

With slow, calculated steps, Kylo approached her. She did not recoil or flinch at his nearness. Kylo lowered onto her bunk and folded his lengthy limbs to sit cross-legged before her, mirroring her position.

Once Kylo situated himself, he waited patiently. Surely Rey had something she wanted to tell him. To Kylo’s surprise, it seemed Rey was waiting for him to speak.

She simply stared at him in silence. The ponderous gaze made Kylo uneasy. Though he was a quiet man, Kylo feared silence; his childhood taught him silence meant anger, or expectation.

Like a fish out of water, Kylo’s mouth opened and closed with words unsaid. He had a talent for always saying the wrong thing and he had no idea how to avoid the awkwardness.

Mercifully, Rey broke the silence. “I have to go,” she declared. Rey paused and took a deep breath before she continued. “The Resistance, my friends, need me.”

As usual, the Supreme Leader was at a loss for words, but Rey was determined.

“Ben, you have to help me get out of here,” Rey took his hands into hers; Kylo’s breath caught. “You know this is wrong. I see the light in you! Please, Ben. For me.”

“I can’t.” Kylo turned his head from the beautiful woman before him, unwilling to witness her disappointment.

Rey’s small hands tightened their grip. “Ben, please do this.” Kylo could hear the tears in her voice. “All I need are some access codes and a ride,” she trailed off.

Kylo wanted to exclaim that he would do anything for her. That he would do all that she asked and more, but he was a coward. He was a coward, afraid of losing his place of power.

The darker half of his mind tried to justify this fear. If I lose my power in the First Order by helping her escape or letting her go, she’ll just be taken again, he reasoned with himself. Deep down he knew that risking a coup was worth it to save her, yet this knowledge was smothered by his own selfishness.

When he opened his mouth, the depth of the explanation eluded him. All Kylo could manage was a simple denial.

“I just… can’t.” His voice was weary and laden with disappointment.

“Please tell me why.” Her voice was oddly calm.

He heaved in a large sigh as he considered what to tell the beautiful, destitute woman before him. Eventually, words began to flow.

“It’s treason,” Kylo paused before elaborating. “You, defying the First Order, and me, helping you do it. If we were caught we’d both be executed on the spot.” His Adam’s apple bobbed as he croaked out the last words; it wasn’t the thought of himself dying that was painful, it was Rey. The explanation was shallow, but perhaps, so were Kylo’s reasons for denying her.

Kylo still couldn’t bear to look at Rey. Though she was less than a foot away from him, Kylo had never felt so far from her. In her anger, Rey severed their bond, yet again.

The guilty man didn’t wait to leave her cell. Kylo knew he was no longer welcome.


 

Hours of tossing and turning was becoming the norm in Kylo’s life as Supreme Leader. He begged every deity he knew to let him sleep, if for a few minutes. However, after the millionth spat he and Rey had, his mind refused to rest.

The previous night, Kylo’s traitorous heart mused about defying the First Order. He wondered if they would be able to stay together without a leader.

Hux made it very clear to Kylo that the First Order did not need their current Supreme Leader. The stormtroopers were fiercely loyal to not only General Hux, but their cause. It didn’t matter who their leader was, but for what they stood, namely, the violent, purist ideology the First Order brainwashed them into believing.

Kylo shook his head. It was too much to think about all at once, especially considering he hadn’t slept properly in weeks. He attempted redirecting his thoughts elsewhere. Eventually, Kylo landed on the same subject of rumination that had been haunting him: the spiralling galaxy.

There was no doubt now that this mirage was a symbol created by the Force to represent Kylo’s fitful mindset. After so many involuntary visions, how could he think it meant nothing?

The galaxy had a way of gracing his dreams when he needed a sign. Previously, Kylo had dismissed the urging, assuming the stars he saw were meant solely to mock him. But now, as his heart pleaded for the release of Rey, he knew it was a sign. The Force was giving him its blessing to destroy everything he’d known for years as a member of the First Order in order to bless a woman he had only known for months with freedom.

The feeling of resolve washed over Kylo in waves. At first, he was apprehensive, but as the night wore on, his confidence in his decision grew.

The entire regime did not value or care for him in the slightest, so why did Kylo feel the need to remain loyal to them? The answer was, he didn’t.

Before Snoke invaded his mind, Kylo didn’t care for power at all; it was Snoke who planted the need in his mind. All Kylo yearned for was belonging. Snoke convinced him that he would find it in the ranks of the First Order, among the Knights of Ren, and as an ally of the darkside.

Now, Kylo knew where he truly belonged. He belonged at Rey’s side. It didn’t matter if Hux stripped him of his power and prestige. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t welcomed back by the Resistance and his mother. It didn’t matter if he and Rey were light, dark, or in between. All that mattered is that he was with her. Kylo would give everything to free her, including his life.

Chapter Text

The Resistance’s spiral towards chaos was hastening. The tattered crew’s remainder,  all sixty-three of them, were buried by a blizzard that ravaged Hoth’s Echo Base. After the disastrous space battle, the Resistance scrambled to regroup. They knew they had allies in the beaten down and oppressed. However, this quiet majority was impossible to mobilize, as they were at the mercy of greedy masters who aligned with the First Order for their own gain.

On top of their miniscule numbers, the Resistance lost its secret weapon: the last Jedi. Rey was a symbol of light, of the New Republic, of the peacemakers, but the First Order stole her as well.

Finn was determined to find his friend. He debated with everyone who would listen that saving Rey should be their top priority. Finn’s number one debate target was the General. If Finn could convince her, there would be no push-back from any of the officers when he went to rescue Rey.

When Finn expressed his desires to General Organa, he was expecting an enthusiastic ‘yes’, for she had always been fond of Rey. However, the war-worn woman looked apologetically at Finn. A pang of guilt stung his heart as they made eye contact. She had only just recovered from nearly dying, and now he was loading his issues onto the grieving, injured widow who had lost everyone she loved. Finn gulped at the thought.

His confidence was squandered. If he was being honest, Finn hadn’t planned past asking the General for her blessing; he assumed she would instantly be on-board and work out a plan herself. Finn cursed himself for his naivety as he attempted to quickly formulate a plan to propose to Leia.

“I know we are short on, well, everything, so maybe I could put together a small task force. A strike team?” Finn’s voice crescendoed and shook as the new plan quickly unfolded in his brain. “We only need a few good people, so there is less risk of collateral damage. And it will be easier to move through the ship undetected!” There were so many loose ends and holes in Finn’s plan, but he had to convince Leia to agree to it. Permission now, logistics later.

General Organa bit her lip in consideration. Her soft face was virtually unreadable, yet he could see the concern for Rey in the line of her furrowed brow. With a deep breath, she spoke again. “But we can’t bear to lose our best people.” Leia’s warm brown eyes begged with him as she spoke. “Believe me, I want her back, but I just don’t know how we could manage it.”

Leia raised a gentle hand to his bicep in comfort, but the action was interrupted by the unapologetic clamor of Poe Dameron entering the room.

“I have saved the day!” Poe announced jubilantly, before either of them could even acknowledge his presence. Finn rolled his eyes.

With a hint of exasperation, Leia asked, “What have you done this time, Captain?”

The pilot winced when she pulled rank; he was still licking his wounds after the demotion. Nonetheless, he quickly regained his cocksure attitude and continued his declaration.

“I know how to rescue Rey.” Poe’s tanned face split into a proud grin.

Finn’s breath caught in his throat with shock and excitement as Leia drilled him with questions. As Poe relayed his plan, it became apparent that he had been strategizing for a while; he hadn’t waltzed into the room on a whim. Every objective was clear and concise, every risk considered. Even the cautious General Organa was nodding her head at Poe’s brilliance by the end. The plan seemed nearly foolproof.

Could this actually work? Finn asked himself. In that moment, he felt truly hopeful for the first time since Rey’s capture.


 

“Supreme Leader!” A shrill voice yelled directly into Kylo’s ear. He turned to find the miserable source, which was none other than his least favorite general.

“What?” Kylo growled through his teeth.

Hux looked momentarily abashed before resuming his irritating onslaught. “You have been distracted, my Lord.” The feigned concern only kindled Kylo’s hatred.

Oddly though, Hux was not wrong. In fact, the Supreme Leader had forgotten he was in a meeting in that moment. His mind held more important matters.

For 35 standard hours since his revelatory dream, Kylo’s singular concern was plotting Rey’s escape. He was consumed by going over ship schematics, checking for blind spots on the security cameras, memorizing guard shifts, and other sorts of collusion. Currently, though he was stuck in an endless meeting with generals and politicians, Kylo continued to ponder his schemes.

Besides this meeting, the only other interruptions to Kylo’s plotting were visits to Rey’s cell. It was growing harder and harder to stay away from her as Kylo continued to find things to love about her: the freckles on her shoulders, the soft halo baby hairs that fell from her updo, how, when she laughed, the rosy flush of her cheeks colored, her breasts’ soft swells...

“Supreme Leader.” It seemed impossible, but Hux managed to make his voice even shriller. “You are daydreaming again,” he sighed. “They’re discussing your upcoming trade negotiations.”

Kylo’s eyes rolled into the back of his head. As if Hux wasn’t thinking about his stupid cat during all those debriefings, Kylo thought, just barely preventing the words from passing his lips.

As the meeting drawled on ever longer, Kylo took bits and pieces of his impending mission, but his mind inevitably wandered back to Rey. Carefully, he avoided any thoughts of her physical being; he could be catatonic for hours, trapped in his mind considering it. Instead, he focused on her escape plan, or lack thereof.

Kylo still hadn’t told Rey that he planned to break her out. He was weary of getting her hopes up before he even knew how to save her. It was growing more and more frustrating with each passing hour that Kylo didn’t have a plan. He was the Supreme Leader, master of the Force and a whole military, yet he couldn’t break a woman out of jail. Maybe he should just steal a ship and fly off into the sunset with Rey.

Kylo’s eyes widened with an epiphany. “I’m sorry,” Kylo fumbled as he formulated an excuse to leave. His silly daydreaming sparked his mind. Maybe flying off into the sunset wasn’t such an unrealistic idea? It was all he could do not to shout with joy as the plan elucidated itself in his mind. “I don’t feel well.” The words were barely audible, concealing his excited tone. Kylo stood and exited the room before anyone had a chance to question him.

By now, Kylo could walk the path to the brig in his sleep. He spent more time in Rey’s cell than his own rooms. It seemed as if Kylo’s boots didn’t touch the ground the entire trek; he was floating on air.

The second Rey’s cell opened, Kylo shouted jubilantly, “I’ve saved the day!”

Rey looked positively alarmed at the exclamation, furrowing her brow. Their meetings were usually somewhat somber and cold due to their ideals’ dissonance. The sudden change in mood was probably startling to Rey.

Kylo flopped onto the bunk, jittering like a teenager drinking caf for the first time. Before he spoke, he took a few breaths to center himself; he didn’t want the guards monitoring surveillance footage to get any ideas.

“What I meant was,” Kylo lowered his voice slightly. “I have a plan to get you out of here.”

He couldn’t help but smile as he watched Rey’s reaction. Her face shifted from an expression of pity, to shock, to confusion, to fear, before landing on a look of jubilation that rivaled the sun in its brightness. She nodded for him to continue.

“In five standard days, I am scheduled to have a meeting with the King of Toydaria regarding trade agreements.” Rey looked thoroughly confused as to how this played into her liberation, but Kylo wasn’t finished. “Toydaria has declared neutrality in this conflict, so, arguably, visiting their planet without first investigating it is risky.”

“I don’t follow,” Rey mumbled, looking confused and somewhat impatient. Kylo wanted to tell her to calm down, but he knew the result would be the opposite of calm, so he simply continued.

“I’m going to go two days early and ‘investigate’ the system with one of my Knights.” Rey’s hazel eyes widened with understanding as he spoke.

“And I am supposed to pass as one of your Knights?” Rey’s tone suggested she was trying not to get her hopes up.

Kylo chuckled a little. “Indeed. I’m quite sure Carminde is your exact size.” On top of being Rey’s size, Carminde was on an extended training mission among the Nightsisters that only Kylo knew about. She also conveniently left all of her clothing, including her identity-concealing helmet, behind in order to fully immerse herself into the Force witch culture. Kylo was practically purring, he was so pleased with how everything was falling into place.

“And our transport?” Rey asked cautiously. Kylo knew this girl, the one who had been abandoned and let down so many times before, was still fighting against her own excitement; she didn’t want to be hurt and betrayed again.

Kylo didn’t tell her that her anxieties were unwarranted; he understood her lack of trust. He answered her question, hoping to assuage her nerves. “An armored shuttle will be issued to me, no questions asked. From Toydaria, you can contact the Resistance.” Suddenly, Kylo’s heart was in his throat. What was he going to say? And you can leave me forever?

Kylo's melancholy was dashed the moment he met Rey’s gaze. Her hazel eyes glimmered with hope and tears of joy. How had he not noticed the rim of forest green around her eyes before?

In her elation, Rey looked positively angelic.

“Oh, Ben,” Rey breathed as she took one of his large hands into both of hers, “I could kiss you.”

They were both shocked at Rey’s words, but not as shocked as they were at Kylo’s response.

Without a thought, Kylo’s free hand lifted to cup her freckled cheek as he whispered, “Then do.”

The next second felt like an eternity as they stared into one another's eyes. Kylo felt the heat of Rey's blush against his palm as his ivory cheeks and ears likewise burned crimson.  Neither could breathe or speak.

Then, ever so gently, Rey leaned towards him. Her movement was cautious and unsure, but her intent was clear. Kylo's heart clenched as he took in the soft pout of her parted lips. Her long eyelashes fanned out across her rosy cheeks, her eyes fluttered shut.

She leaned in further.

And he closed the gap.

Even Kylo's wildest fantasies couldn't prepare him for how perfect his lips felt pressed against Rey's. The Force sang the same passionate melody that played across the stars when their hands touched on Ahch-To. However, this rendition was more jubilant and celebratory than any tune he’d ever heard. The universe was rejoicing as they collided.

The moment ended all too soon, both being too afraid to deepen the kiss. Kylo's body ached to have her close again.

"That was my first kiss," Rey confessed.

"Mine too," Kylo admitted. He should have been ashamed at his lack of experience, but all he could feel was happiness. How many people in the galaxy could honestly say that their first kiss was with their soulmate?

Rey smiled softly, obviously consoled by the confession. Her eyes glimmered with mischief. "I guess I'm not the biggest prude in the galaxy anymore," she chuckled. "At least I had my first kiss before I turned thirty,” she quipped.

Kylo held back his grin, opting to appear affronted as he sarcastically replied, "I will have you know that I won’t be thirty for another three standard months."

"I apologize, Ben," she laughed, bowing dramatically in feigned remorse.

Kylo's face was starting to hurt from smiling as he continued their banter. "I will accept your apology if you agree to be my second kiss as well." Kylo couldn't remember the last time he was this playful, this bold.

Rey gave him an exaggerated eye roll. "If that's what it takes," she conceded before flinging her arms around his neck and kissing him once more.

As they embraced, the rest of the galaxy seemed to fade from existence. It was only them, drunken with giddiness. Kylo couldn't even bring himself to care that perhaps she only kissed him out of gratitude, or that she might not feel the same way. That was a worry for another day. Rey was kissing him now, and he'd be damned if he didn't enjoy it.


 

“Please stay a little longer,” Rey wheedled, pulling Kylo by the collar as he began to extract himself from her arms.

Earlier that night, they laid beside each other in Rey’s bunk as Kylo debriefed, rehashing the more intricate details of the plan. Of course, both were quite distracted the entire meeting, constantly pausing to make-out. It had been two standard days since he relayed the escape plan, two days since their first kiss. Each embrace grew more desperate as the minutes ticked down on their proverbial clock. Now, on the eve of her escape, Rey was loath to be separated from her bondmate.

His sable hair shone even in the unappealing wash of artificial illumination in Rey’s cell. Much to her pleasure, said hair was in an uncharacteristic state of disarray, a product of their occupation minutes before. Coupled with his kiss swollen lips, blossoming lovebites, and the dewy sweat on his forehead, Kylo’s tousled hair was a massive distraction for the possessive Rey, who saw this as evidence that he was hers.

Kylo attempted to stand against the pulls on his collar, groaning, “Rey, I have to go to this meeting. If I don’t show up, someone will come looking for me and we do not want that to happen, now do we, sweetheart?” His eyes were earnest, though glimmering with amusement at the endearment. Logically, Rey knew it would be catastrophic if some First Order general went to search for Kylo and walked in on them, but logic was a difficult thing when faced with those pretty eyes in front of her. Rey bit her lip in frustration.

Common sense eventually won out, unfortunately. “Fine,” she said tersely, placing a kiss on the tip of his long nose. “You are dismissed,” she sighed.

Rolling his eyes, Kylo reached to his collar and loosened Rey’s grip before positing a tender kiss on her knuckles. With one last wistful glance, he strode out of the cell, leaving Rey alone.

She breathed out in a contented sigh. It seemed too good to be true; tomorrow she would be back with the Resistance with Ben at her side- her handsome, doting, broad-shouldered Ben. Rey couldn’t help but be optimistic, the plan was fool-proof.

Or at least, that is what she thought.

The Supreme Leader left her cell about an hour before. Rey was absent-mindedly braiding her hair over and over again in a feeble effort to try and recreate a lovely Alderaanian braid Kylo had done for her the previous day. Occupied with untangling her hair after a dreadful attempt at a Dutch braid, Rey hardly noticed the familiar whirring of the ray shields lowering outside her cell.

Her unexpected visitor waltzed into the room without greeting. Rey didn’t need to look up to recognize the stench that was Armitage Hux’s Force-signature. Not wanting to show her fear, Rey kept her gaze focused on the stubborn knot in her hair. She knew Hux had an ego; ignoring him was the most offensive thing one could do in his eyes.

After an uncomfortable minute filled only by the sound of the General’s bullish breathing, the snivelling man was unable to be ignored a second more.

Oi, girl!” The exclamation certainly caught Rey’s attention, it seeming out of character for the prim ginger. She met his wild stare, prompting him to continue. “It’s rude to ignore your guests,” he sneered.

The scavenger-side of Rey, the side that helped her survive life on Jakku, screamed at her to apologize, or at least acknowledge the man, desperate for self-preservation. The rebellious side of Rey simply mumbled screw it.

Rey held his gaze with unwavering fervor, all the while refusing to give Hux the attention he craved. The man’s face distorted with rage and disgust. “You’ve crossed me one too many times, you little desert rat!” Hux spat in her face, a vein popping out of the pale skin of his forehead.

She continued her vigil, unwilling to let this monster of a man break her. With smoke practically billowing from his ears, Hux began to shout, “Strap her up!”

That’s when Rey began to panic. Her body went into fight or flight mode as his stormtroopers filed in, all equipped with shining blasters or electric clubs. As they neared, Rey decided flight was out of the option; the ray shields for her cell were reactivated the moment reinforcements crossed the threshold. Rey was desperately outnumbered, ten to one, but she couldn’t go just go quietly.

The hairs on her arms raised from both static and fear as the electrified weapons drew ever closer. Fight seemed an even worse plan than flight, now that the guards were inches from decapitating her. She needed time. She needed Ben.

It pained her, but Rey allowed them to strap her to the interrogation rack, with only minimal shoving. She didn’t know how much time she would need to get Ben’s attention and then for him to come to her rescue, so she figured it was best to appease the beast for the moment.

“See, now that wasn’t so hard,” Hux drawled in the most venomous, condescending tone Rey had ever heard. A wicked smile twisted his pale lips as viperous tongue flicked out to wet them. “You treat us kindly, we treat you kindly.”

Rey had to bite her lips to refrain from spewing her thoughts . Thankfully, she held her tongue, though it would have been rather satisfying to spit back at the ginger-haired monster.

Pleased at the girl’s compliance, Hux began to circle the trapped Rey with deliberate, predatory steps. He looked like a beast eyeing his prey, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce.

Now would be a good time to come and save me, Solo. Rey tossed into the ether of the Force. She could only pray that her bondmate received the message.

“It is rather a shame,” Hux drawled ponderously, “That such a ravishing specimen such as yourself has to be imprisoned like this.” He studied her with hungry, malicious eyes. Rey gritted her teeth so hard she thought they would crack.

Ben, please help me, she called out, her words colored with desperation. He felt far away and disconnected, a feeling only antagonized by the ysalamiri cages lining her room, but Ben was her only hope.

He sighed, trying to appear forlorned. “You’re just a poor damsel in distress, a princess locked in a tower, paying for the sins of her masters who let her fly too high.”

Rey couldn’t take it anymore. She had to stop him, Ben or no Ben.

“You two faced son of a Hutt! If anyone has to pay for their sins, it’s you, you monster!” Rey shouted in one breath. “If I’m the damsel in distress, Armitage Hux, then you’re the beast who must be slain.”

A feral growl tore through Hux as his hand constricted around Rey’s throat. The General, in his scorn and chagrin, spew vitriol into Rey’s face. “You wicked little desert harlot, did you think for one minute that I would let you and Ren get away with this? Are you naive enough to think that the abhorrent little affair you share with him would go unnoticed? Did you really think we would not see through your lover’s claims of ‘scouting’ Toydaria, when the very woman he claimed would accompany him has not been seen for months? Are you really stupid enough to think that he cared about more than just your body? You pathetic girl…”

Hux’s words began to fade as the pounding blood in Rey’s ears deafened her. She coughed and gasped against the hold, both in a plead for air and in a cry of grief as the general ripped her heart to shreds. Her face was turning blue as the man’s grip grew tighter and tighter. The edges of her vision were going black.

Just as she was about to slip away, a voice at the back of her head roared with the most intense fury she had ever known.

Somewhere, far off, Rey heard shouts ringing as shots were fired. The strangling grip slackened and her head flopped forward- all the strength of her body was wrenched away by asphyxiation. Oxygen flooded her lungs like the water on Ahch-To, the air feeling thick after her deprivation. It took about ten gulping breaths before Rey could even begin to notice the scene in front of her.

There was a loud thunk as a body slammed against the durasteel wall. “What did you do to her? How dare you touch her!” Kylo’s voice reverberated over the echoing of Hux’s form hitting the hard metal.

The blurriness of Rey’s vision was slowly clearing. The floor of the room was strewn with unconscious stormtroopers. If she hadn’t just nearly died, Rey would have hoped that they were still alive, but considering her situation, she didn’t have the capacity to think about that now.

In a fit of righteous indignation, Kylo had taken down the entirety of Hux’s guard without the help of the Force. Lucky for Rey, brute strength and skill alone was enough for Kylo to come to her rescue.

As Rey’s brain fog lifted, it became apparent that their original plan was completely foiled. There was no way in hell they would be able to leave tomorrow on a TIE without making a scene. In hindsight, this was obviously a part of Hux’s plan; he wanted to force them to make a rash decision. She cursed herself for taking the bait and calling to Ben. If they wanted any chance of escaping, they had to act now.

“Ben,” Rey called weakly. His back was turned, but she saw him freeze at her words. A split second later, he gave Hux one last good whack into the wall, incapacitating him.

Kylo rushed over to her, eyes still shining with rage. As he released her bindings, his face softened to a look of utmost concern and tenderness. “We don’t have long before they start waking up.” He had stunned them, he chose the light. “I will have to carry you,” Ben muttered as he fiddled with the last cuff.

Rey opened her mouth to protest, but as the hold on her wrist was released, she utterly crumpled into his arms. Ben picked her up with no trouble at all, as if she were light as a feather. Rey rapped her arms around his neck, hoping to at least not be a complete dead weight in his grasp.

When they exited the cell, Ben ran with speed that seemed impossible for such a big man, especially one burdened with another human’s weight. His eyes were wild as he made the mad dash towards the hangar.

It wasn’t long before Rey could see his fatigue mounting from the exertion. She would have to call on the Force for help, but Rey was sure she’d be able to muster up the strength to support her own weight. “Ben, I can stand,” she assured him in a somewhat steady voice.

She thought he would fight her, but he merely nodded; he knew she could handle herself. Kylo paused only for a moment to swiftly and gently lower Rey onto her own feet. Once she was standing, Rey expected him to release her, but to her surprise, Ben laced his fingers into hers before they took off again. Unlike on Jakku, when Finn kept on holding her hand as they fled, Rey found the contact comforting. They ran beside one another, perfectly in sync, as the Force flowing through their clasped hands, their energies intertwined. They were two lonely galaxies that had finally become one: two galaxies against the rest of the universe.

Everything was a blur; Rey took no notice of her surroundings. The only thing anchoring her was Ben’s hand in hers as they whipped around the dark corners of the star destroyer. Though she had no idea where they were, Rey knew they were getting close to the hangar. She could feel Ben’s relief flowing off of him in waves. They were in the home stretch.

When they rounded the corner to enter the hangar, Rey’s vision finally came into focus. Before them stood a ferocious General Hux and a stormtrooper army. The ginger’s eyes were ablaze with fury as blood trickled down his forehead from a cut in his hairline.

The two Force-sensitives spun around back from where they came, to the hall that led to the hangar, but that way was blocked too by… the Resistance?

“The Resistance has infiltrated our ship!” Hux shrieked over the cacophony of safeties being clicked off.

Let’s go. Quickly. While they’re distracted, Kylo sent across the bond. With a purposeful tug, he pulled Rey towards the remaining exit, at the hangar’s opposite end.


Where is that snake taking Rey? Finn asked himself frantically. As he released the safety on his blaster, Kylo Ren yanked Rey away from her allies. Admittedly, the former stormtrooper was not expecting Rey to be in the hangar to meet them. Neither did he expect to be met by Hux’s whole army. Their plan was in shambles, but he didn’t care. He had to rescue Rey.

Finn decided that instant that he would do whatever it took to save his friend. If that meant he had to go through the Supreme Leader himself, so be it.


 

Ben led Rey through the new set of winding corridors with frantic haste. They were moving further and further away from the hangar bay, further away from their only means of escape. Not that they had much choice, if they wanted to live at least.

They rounded corner after corner until they were stopped dead in their tracks, once again, by the sight of the ginger demon. How does he move so fast? Rey wondered in her panic.

“Leaving so soon, Supreme Leader?” Hux jeered, manic amusement curling the corners of his lips.

“Get out of my way, Hux,” Kylo growled in a voice so low it was almost inaudible. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

The redhead cackled madly. “So you’re a changed man now, Ren! The girl has brought you back to the light, hmm?”

Beneath Rey’s grasp, Kylo started to shake with rage. She tried to pull him away from Hux, but it was in vain. He was not running away from this fight.

“Your plan has failed! Some knight you are, you couldn’t even save the damsel when she was locked in your own tower.” Hux roared at his own cleverness. “Good luck sequestering her away now, because this dragon has an army.”

In one fell swoop, Kylo tore his saber from his belt and flicked it. Hux jolted as the blade crackled crimson from the shattered kyber. Rey’s hand still held fast to Kylo as he closed in on Hux; she was paralyzed in her fear. The ginger fumbled around for his blaster as he scrambled away from his attacker. His gaze darted about, frantically searching for an exit, until they landed on something just beyond Kylo’s shoulder. His icy eyes burned diabolically at the sight.

Kylo and Rey froze. Like a madman, Hux wailed, “End this, Ren! Kill the girl!”

Everything started moving in slow motion. Rey detected the simultaneous clicks of two blaster shots, the unanswered question of ‘what?’ still hanging on her lips. Ben yanked on her arm, sending her spiraling into his embrace like a dancer to her partner. Hux’s bold whizzed by, a millimeter away from her head, as she spun. Enveloped in Ben’s protective hold, Rey could barely see the other blaster wielder over his shoulder.

Finn.

Time stopped. Searing pain ripped up Rey’s spine and through her heart. She tried to scream, but no sound came out. Surely she would die here.

But the anguish was fleeting, because it was not her own.

“Ah-” Kylo sighed as all the air left his lungs. He crumpled in Rey’s embrace. As he fell, the shock in his warm brown eyes faded and his gaze glazed over. His grasp went slack and his body became limp.

Her Ben, her love, was dead.

Rey was petrified as she hung over his lifeless form. She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t think. Her heart shattered as half of it was torn away. The warm presence at the back of her mind flickered out. She was alone.

Rey didn’t know how long she was paralyzed; it could have been a second, it could have been a millennia before she broke her stance. When she did, her limbs moved of their own accord. Her body demanded vengeance for its broken soul.

A resounding roar tore through Rey’s chest as she summoned the scarlet saber. All she saw was red as she swung the blade; everything seemed to turn to blood as grief overcame her soul.

Crimson-tinted stormtroopers bombarded her with shots. She deflected the blasts with merely a flick of the wrist as the Force flowed through her veins. Rey flew through their ranks, swiping at their knees and arms, incapacitating throes of soldiers. Darkness and light swirled about her as she cut down her enemies, feeding her righteous anger.

When the whole squadron was lying at her feet, Rey sensed Hux slithering away. She bounded towards him. He could not escape her wrath.

In an instant, Rey was licking at his heels. Her slim fingers curled, telekinetically wrapping her fingers about his vulnerable neck. Hux sputtered in her grasp as Rey circled him. The broken kyber crystal’s frenetic energy danced up her arms and electrified her whole body. Kylo’s blade was just as desperate for vengeance as his lover.

The Dark Side keened in Rey at the sight of Hux before her, sputtering around her grip, lightsaber a hair's breadth away from his skin, completely vulnerable. It compelled her to do it, to kill the man who broke her heart. The darkness commiserated with Rey: he turned your closest friend against you. He tricked Finn into thinking you were being killed because he knew Finn would protect you. This sniveling snake is responsible for your love’s death .

All of Luke’s teachings, all of her hours spent meditating and basking in the light, were worthless to Rey in this moment. Ben was the light of her life and now he was dead. There was no light left in the whole galaxy.

Hux was now nearly unconscious from her grip. He would be alive much longer without oxygen. Rey’s hand shook as she drew the blade back to slash. Who was she becoming?

That’s went she felt it. In her darkest moment, that’s when it reached her- a glimmer in the Force. Her bondmate’s familiar warmth.

Without hesitation, Rey released her hold on Hux. He hadn’t even hit the ground yet when she began sprinting towards the signature. It was faint, but it was there.

Rey skid to a stop when she reached where he laid. She fell to the ground in a heap, draping herself over his still form. Tears streamed down her face as she desperately felt for any indication of life beyond his Force signature, a shallow breath, a weak heartbeat, anything.

At the back of her mind, Rey noticed? the Resistance soldiers pouring into the room, but she ignored them and continued her ministrations. Her quivering hands probed his body for the wound. Kylo had been shot square in the back. Rey reached out with the Force to feel for internal damage. She gasped when she found that Finn’s blaster bolt had gone straight through his heart. He literally died of a broken heart.

Sobs wracked Rey’s body. Her slight frame shook violently with her grief. Ben showed no physical signs of life, yet his presence still clung to him. Rey cursed the Force for taunting her so; if it was time for him to become one with the Force, then just take him. She had been tortured enough.

A soft hand rested on Rey’s shoulder. The touch felt like a phantom on her skin; the rest of the world didn’t exist in this moment.

“Rey, he’s gone,” A gently female voice echoed in her ears. The grip on her shoulder tightened slightly as the person attempted to pull her away from Ben’s body.

“No,” Rey breathed. The phantom touch tugged again. “No!” Rey howled. How dare they attempt to tear her away from her love?

More ghostly hands found purchase on Rey’s quaking frame and whispers filled her ears.

“It’s time to go, starlight,” a deeper voice croaked.

“We’re dead if we stay here,” another woman added steadfastly.

“If I only knew, Rey, I’m so, so sorry…” a man cried, stroking her matted hair.

“Get away from me!” Rey shrieked as she struck the hand on her head. “Just let. Me. Be,” she ordered through her sobs. The phantoms retreated.

Ben’s Force signature was growing fainter and fainter. In a moment, he would truly be gone. He’d be gone and she would have never told him.

“I love you.”

Warmth enveloped her at the words. Rey could practically hear his deep, gruff voice as she imagined him saying, “I know, I love you too.” She knew he heard her.

I’m not letting you go, Rey resolved. She would bring him back, no matter the cost.

All of the passion, all of the memories, all of the love that Rey held, she poured into him. She called to the Force and it answered, spiralling around her. She was a nexus. She held all the power of the universe in her fingertips. It was the will of the Force that she be able to carry out the deed.

Light shone from the blaster wound and from Rey’s hands. She felt her body weakening as her energy streamed into Ben. The Force gave her strength when she began to slip away.

The dazzling streams of energy soon disappeared as his blaster wound closed. When the last ray of light dissipated, the energy surging into Rey stopped. She fell. Every last bit of her soul was spent. She had given it all to Ben.

Chapter Text

When Ben awoke, the first thing he saw was his mother. Her warm whiskey eyes, the eyes he shared, wept with a mixture of pain and sorrow, but also jubilance and relief. Leia’s sea of emotions could have drowned out all other sensations, yet all Ben thought of was Rey.

“Wh-where,” he attempted, but his voice was craggy with disuse.

Fortunately, Leia seemed to understand. She gave her son a gentle nod and stepped around to the foot of the bed. Without his mother obscuring his field of vision, Ben had a clear view of the bed beside his.

His breath hitched at the sight of her, even with the oxygen mask. Rey, his beautiful, gorgeous girl, laid no more than a meter from him. She was hooked up to a heart monitor which emitted a slow, steady rhythm as she slept. She looked at peace.

Ben sobbed when Leia recounted what Rey had done for him. What had he ever done to be worthy of such a great sacrifice? Part of Ben wanted to run away, exile himself, and allow her to move on. However, most of him never wanted to let Rey out of his sight again.

Rey awoke three standard days after Ben. He never left her bedside for a moment. Leia was only able to convince him to sleep by assuring him that she would not leave Rey’s side. Ben pleaded with the doctors and medical droids for answers, they had to know something of her condition, but every one simply shrugged their shoulders.

“It’s as if every bit of energy was simply sucked from her body,” one doctor tried to explain. Ben winced. She had given that energy to him.

When Rey’s eyes finally fluttered open, Ben laughed and cried. He hiccuped and sniffled, but he was so relieved he didn’t care.

“Ben,” Rey croaked.

Gently, he lifted her weakened hand and placed a soft kiss across her knuckles. “I’m here, Rey.”

After the initial relief wore off, Ben’s concern for Rey returned. Not only had she sapped her energy saving Ben, she was also comatose for nearly six days; the deadly combination rendered her normally athletic body, skeletal. Ben thought if he breathed too close to her, she would topple over.

Rey was forced to undergo grueling physical therapy to recover from her atrophied muscles. Ben stayed at her side for every wobbling step, every feeble leg lift. His hands constantly hovered beside her, ready to catch her if she fell. However, that’s all Ben’s hands did: hover.

After a number of exhausting weeks, Rey turned to him while they took their daily stroll around the base; the doctor ordered her to exercise often. Ben’s heart immediately sunk at her accusatory expression. Had she finally decided to be rid of him?

“You can touch me, Ben. I won’t break,” Rey declared.

Ben scowled, thoroughly confused at her statement. He could only assume it was Rey’s way of asking for help without seeming weak.

“Do you need me to help you? Are you feeling faint?” Ben stuttered.

“No,” Rey snorted as she took his hand. “I meant it. You can touch me.” She squeezed his hand comfortingly.

Ben’s ears burned. He knew what Rey was implying, casual touches, maybe a friendly hug, but there were many other connotations to the word. Just the thought made his head spin.

Rey chuckled again beside him. “That too, if you’re ever up for it,” she replied to his thoughts, adding a wink. Ben’s flush grew. Seeing his reaction, Rey continued, “You think loud.”

“Sorry,” Ben choked. Rey sensed his thoughts and didn’t immediately run away in disgust. What’s more, she seemed almost interested in the idea. Maybe she wanted him too.

Do it now before you wuss out.

Ben froze abruptly at the center of the hangar. Rey took another step before noticing he’d stopped. “Ben, are you…?”

He didn’t allow her to finish the sentence. Their lips crashed together with little grace, yet Rey sighed against him.

I’ve been wanting this, she whispered across the bond.

Their kiss quickly grew more heated, both blissfully unaware of their audience of pilots, until Poe shouted, “Get a room!”

Ben pulled back slightly to gauge Rey’s reaction. She quirked a perfect eyebrow suggestively before leaning forward. “Perhaps we should take the captain’s advice,” Rey breathed against the shell of his ear, making him shiver. Ben didn’t hesitate to take her hand in his again and race out of the hangar, followed by a chorus of whistles and howling laughter.

They stumbled through the icy halls of Echo base hand-in-hand. Every few yards they couldn’t help but slip into an alcove and steal a kiss. Ben had never felt so carefree in his entire life.

Eventually, Ben and Rey arrived at the door of his quarters. Rey gave him an encouraging kiss on the cheek before letting herself into the room. Ben smiled softly to himself; she knew he needed the reassurance.

The moment Ben shut the door behind him, Rey jumped into his arms, slamming him against the wall.

Ben chuckled as she crushed her lips to his. “So impatient,” he chided. Rey only kissed him harder.

As their bodies moved in sync, their bond came to life. Ben grinned against Rey's lips when he felt his own joy and desire reflected in Rey's mind. Emboldened, he nipped at her lower lip. Rey whimpered with need as the bond sung.

Nimble fingers carded through Ben's raven curls. His large hands practically engulfed her narrow waist. Their chests pressed against one another with each gasping breath.

Suddenly, Rey pulled Ben from the wall, hands fisted around his jacket’s quilted material. She guided Ben blindly across the room until the back of his knees hit his bunk. Rey shoved him roughly down onto the thin mattress. He yelped with surprise as he found himself below her slight form, tanned arms flanking and entrapping him. Rey looked down at him smugly as if she had pinned him in a sparring match.

A pleased growl escaped Ben's throat. His scavenger girl was as possessive as ever, and he couldn't help but relish it.

Rey leaned down, leaving feather light kisses up and down his throat. Ben moaned and tightened his grip on her waist, a silent plea to continue. She smiled into his neck before she left another open mouthed kiss on his pulse point. The bond was alight with their mutual pleasure as she sucked a mark onto the soft skin of his neck. Her teeth nipped at it gently and her tongue teased the sensitive skin.

Lost in his lust, Ben didn't notice the growing bulge in his trousers until Rey shifted her weight and her pert behind brushed against it. He had to bite his lip to stifle a groan at the contact. They both looked down at his hardness with a mix of surprise and curiosity.

Ben's cheeks burned as Rey's eyes widened. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean-" He stumbled over his words, not knowing at all how to apologize for the involuntary response.

Rey looked at him dazedly, as if he had just distracted her from an engrossing activity. Rey shook herself from the stupor and said with a grin, "No need to apologize. I guess I must be doing something right."

Ben nodded vigorously; speech was much too difficult in his current state.

"Well then," Rey's voice was sultry and colored with pride. "Shall we continue?"

He nodded again, but the movement was interrupted as Rey's lips found his once again. Her small hands travelled up and down his abdomen feeling every muscle before settling on his chest. One of Ben's hands fell from her hip to her ass, giving it a generous squeeze. Rey moaned against his lips.

Her adept hands began to undo the clasps of his jacket. I want to see you, she told him through their bond. Submissively, Ben fell back, breaking their kiss as she worked, first on the jacket, then on his shirt. When the front was open, he helped her pull the garment from his broad shoulders before tossing it aside.

"Wow," Rey gasped as her hands ran along the expanse of his chest. Ben couldn't help but preen under her awe-struck gaze.

Quickly, their lips collided again. The fire between them grew, kindled by the increase of skin on skin contact. Ben felt Rey's desire mounting through the bond.
She drew closer to him, pressing as much of her body against his as possible. They both gasped as she started to cant her hips. Ben's mind went fuzzy as the warmth of her center met his throbbing length. In the back of his mind, Ben knew he should ask if she was sure and if she was feeling strong enough. Unfortunately, logic was pretty much out the door as she rocked against him.

All of a sudden Rey sat up. His mind cleared a little with the absence of movement.

"Rey, is this okay? Are you okay?" Ben asked humbly. The sentence was vague, but it was the best he could manage in his wanton state.

Remember, Ben, I’m not going to break, she replied in his mind, her voice full of mirth. Swiftly, Rey tore the jacket and beige tunic from her body. Ben’s cock twitched at the sight of her golden abdominals. His eyes wandered up and he was met with a view of her small, perfect breasts, wrapped in her breast band like a present. His breath caught in his throat; how many times had he dreamed of these?

The logical part of him overtook his thoughts again. "Rey, darling," he gasped, seeing the way her nipples hardened beneath the rough fabric. He shook his head and continued, "You’re recovering and I've never done this before. I don't know..."

"Shh," Rey hushed him, pressing a calloused finger against his lips. "We'll learn together." With gentle hands, she grasped his wrists and brought his palms to her breasts. She hummed at the contact.

Ben probably looked ridiculous, the way his mouth hung open, but he didn't care to close it. His large hands engulfed her breasts perfectly; they were firm and soft all at once. He slowly massaged the flesh, drawing a moan from Rey. Desperate for contact, she began to unwrap the breast band.

"Oh," Ben breathed. "My beautiful girl." His words were a prayer on his lips as his eyes worshipped the sight she had just unveiled.

Dusty petals rested atop the creamy peak of each breast. Ben watched the flawless buds pucker as the cold air brushed across her sensitive skin. The top of her cleavage was covered with a smattering of golden freckles. A pretty flush tinted her chest. She looked like a goddess as she sat above him.

There was no more holding back. Without hesitation, Ben took her breasts in his hands, focusing on the beautiful buds that were now revealed to him. Rey gasped as he pinched the peak of her nipple firmly.

More, she begged in his mind.

Ben grinned and lifted his head to meet her breasts. He continued to squeeze the other breast as he took the bud into his mouth. Rey moaned and ground her hips into his as he laved at her nipple. His tongue flicked across the beautiful, dimpled flesh. Ben turned his attention to her other breast, eliciting yet another gasp from her.

"Ben," she whimpered into the side of his neck as he sucked, "I want more." The canting of her hips grew more urgent as she plead.

"Tell me what you want, sweetheart," Ben purred into the valley between her breasts.

"I want," Rey gasped as he planted a kiss on the side of her breast., "I want you."

Now it was Ben's turn to gasp as he felt her hand rub gently against his cock. He sighed as she began to undo his belt.

"Ben?" She said ever so softly when he didn't reply. Her eyes were beseeching. Is this okay?

He nodded, biting his lip to stifle a moan. With his consent, Rey continued to slowly unclasp his belt. Ben shut his eyes in pleasure as her nimble fingers unbuttoned his pants. He lifted his hips as she slid them down, keeping his eyes closed. If he opened his eyes would she still be there?

Ben finally looked when he felt Rey's hands tug at his undergarments. The loose fabric was tented with his arousal. Rey sucked in a breath before pulling the fabric away and his cock sprang forward.

"Kriff," Rey groaned before taking the length in her hand. Seeing her hand wrapped around his dick was the most erotic thing Ben had ever witnessed.

He felt Rey's hands shake as she began to pump up and down. In hindsight, he probably should have guided her, eased her anxieties, but the man was already too far gone to be logical.

Ben threw his head back and moaned as Rey began to move more confidently. She twisted her hand as she pumped, sending another wave of arousal through his body.

As he grew a little more used to the sensation, Ben began to listen some to Rey's thoughts. They were mostly incoherent, but amongst the white noise of lust, he picked up a few phrases such as: "it's massive", "am I doing this right?", and "should I ask him to touch me too?"

For a moment, Ben felt extremely guilty for his selfishness. Nevertheless, he brushed it away, vowing to make amends.

He rested his hand on her waist and ever so slowly, he ran down and down, ever closer to her center. The movement of Rey's hand on his length paused and she gasped as his fingers came closer to her pleasure spot.

May I? he queried.

"Please," she breathed.

With her consent, Ben flipped them over so she was on her back. Rey landed on the bunk with a soft "oof" as the air left her lungs. It was his turn to be in control.

"I want these off," he growled, tugging at her leggings. They worked together to shimmy the garment off her hips. Ben bit his lip when he saw how soaked her panties were. Hungrily, he ripped the offending garment away.

Ben groaned when she was fully undressed. Somehow, he grew even harder as he looked at her perfect, glistening center. Rey spread her legs slightly and he couldn't help but think she looked like a blooming rose, her folds making delicate pink petals. Finally, she was his- his beautiful desert rose.

Slowly, Ben's hand ran down her stomach and over the mound at the apex of her thighs. Rey shivered as his fingers brushed against the sensitive skin on the outside of core.

"You're perfect,” he stated matter-of-factly as he dipped a single finger into her wet folds. Rey simply moaned.

His calloused fingers searched through her warmth. Gently, he began to circle her clit with his finger, making Rey's back arch with pleasure. As Ben explored, she grew wetter.

Finally, he found her entrance. Slowly, Ben pushed in a single finger. Rey's arousal burned through their link, making Ben smile. He moved his finger in and out of her, testing her reaction, before circling her clit with his thumb. Her hips met his hand, thrust for thrust. Encouraged, Ben added a second finger.

"Oh," Rey moaned at the sensation. "Can... can you..." She tried to say something, but she was too distracted by the pleasure. Instead, she opened their bond further to show him what she wanted.

Ben groaned at the image. Rey imagined his head between her thighs, his dark locks splayed across her belly. She fantasized about how his tongue would feel against her sex.

Getting the message, Ben shifted back on the bunk until he was eye to eye with her center. With his fingers, he spread her folds before leaning forward. Softly, he licked a path up her center. He planted a kiss on Rey's sensitive bud, making her legs shake.

She tasted divine. Ben lapped at her wetness with pleasure. Every gasp that escaped her lips, every tug on his hair, encouraged Ben. He had never been more aroused in his life than he was going down on Rey.

Finally, he couldn't ignore the ache in his cock any longer. He continued to pleasure Rey as he reached down for his own erection. Ben groaned at the miniature release he felt.

In his mind, Ben heard Rey's questioning tone. She seemed confused and bashful. He looked up, at her, mouth still at her center and raised his eyebrow quizzically.

What about you? She thought.

I'm fine. This is about you, Ben dismissed her worry.

"I want you to feel good too," She croaked aloud through her moans. Ben mentally denied again, but she continued. "I want you to feel how I'm feeling," Rey purred.

Suddenly, Ben's mind was flooded with another image from Rey. This particular one made him almost come on the spot. Rey painted a picture of him above her, inside her. She relished at the thought of how amazing his cock would feel inside her.

"Oh, Rey," Ben gasped. "Are you sure?"

His beautiful girl gave him an enthusiastic nod. Cautiously, Ben raised himself from his position at her center and moved back up until he was eye to eye with her.

Ben breathed deeply. He had wanted this for so long, why was he so nervous? Having gathered his wits, Ben took his length in hand and lined it up with her entrance.

He hissed with pleasure as the head pushed through her silky folds. Ben used the Force to center himself, to maintain control as he pushed, ever so slowly, into her. When he was about an inch in, Rey winced. Ben pulled out and cupped her cheek with his palm. "I'm so sorry, I don't want to hurt you," he said quickly, placing a chaste kiss on her forehead.

Rey nuzzled into his palm then gave him a soft grin. "I'm okay. It's just new," she assured him. "I want to try again." She wrapped her hand around his length. Ben watched lustily as she rubbed his cock through her folds. Rey lined his length up with her entrance and gave his bicep an encouraging squeeze.

This time, Ben was able to truly revel in the sensation. The warmth and slickness of her center was simply amazing. Ben couldn't believe incredibly tight Rey felt around him.

He carefully observed her expressions as he gently pressed deeper. Rey bit her lip a bit, but she didn't grimace like before. Before he knew it, Ben was hilt deep in Rey.

The pair looked at where their bodies joined. Their thoughts rang in unison: neither could believe how right it felt. They felt complete, like they were two halves that had finally come together to be made whole again.

Ben moved very minimally at first, still afraid of hurting Rey. He didn't mind the pace at all, it felt intimate, like they were making love.

He kissed her neck softly, making his way toward her breast. When Ben's lips found purchase on her sensitive nipple, Rey gasped and pressed her hips harder against Ben's. He moaned at her movement. Sensing his pleasure, Rey continued meeting his thrusts, allowing him to push deeper inside her. Occasionally, she swiveled her hips- a movement that made Ben's vision blur with pleasure.

Rey was starting to move faster. She held his hips firmly in her grasp, pushing and pulling him, begging him to speed up. Ben could feel her growing wetter and tighter around him. He smiled, proud that he was able to please her so.

As their arousal grew, the bond continued to open more and more. The closer they got to their release, the more jumbled their thoughts became. Ben could no longer tell whether he was feeling his own desire, or Rey's.

Their mutual lust was tangible as they continued to dance, entwined with one another. He couldn't hold out much longer at this pace. Ben knew that Rey was just as close as he was, judging by how she yanked his hair, shook, and whimpered.

He began to circle her sensitive bud with his thumb, knowing it would send her over the edge. Yes, yes that, Rey crooned in his mind. Ben was starting to feel himself tensing up. His entire body was tingling. He was going to come. Simultaneously, Rey cried over the bond, Ben, I'm going to-

They reached their release in sync. Their hands were clasped and their bodies locked together. Their moans of pleasure rang in perfect harmony as they both experienced ecstasy.

Rey and Ben were shaking and gasping as they came down, both physically spent. He collapsed on top of her, unable to support his weight any longer.

He felt Rey chuckle beneath him. "That was incredible," she whispered into his hair. Ben smiled against her chest- it certainly was.

“I love you,” he whispered against her soft skin

“And I love you,” Rey giggled a little, twirling one of his curls around her finger. Ben grinned and nuzzled into her neck. Ben knew she said it before, Leia had told him, but hearing those three words from Rey’s own lips brought him inexplicable joy.

They laid like this for a long time, not caring about the sweat that dripped down their bare skin, and not caring about cleaning up the product of their climax. Their breathing slowed as the aftershocks died down. Eventually, Rey's breaths became deeper and more languid as she fell asleep.

Ben stared at her in adoration. Somehow, she was even more beautiful in her sleep.

As he drifted to sleep, Ben considered all they had been through. How was he so foolish to think that Rey was the maiden who needed to be saved? Of course Rey didn't need to be saved.

Laying there, in her arms, Ben realized it. He hadn't saved this beautiful woman- his lovely little scavenger, his first love. No, she had saved him.