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Ceremony

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I.

It had all started with a whisper.

Somewhere in the galaxy, the first whisper entered into an ear. And then another ear. And then another. Ears of all different shapes and sizes, belonging to different species in different cities and settlements on different words. Eventually, this whisper reached the ear of a female human: a force-sensitive mechanic aged approximately 20 years, one who goes by the name of Rey. It was whispered to her by another mechanic while they were soldering metal on an X-wing, on the Resistance base located on Yavin IV in the year 35 ABY.

It wasn’t the first whisper; the first rumor or puzzle piece of knowledge that had reached the base. And it wouldn’t be the last. But what made this one different was the promise it brought, a promise above any other. A promise so great, it couldn’t be ignored. It refused to be ignored.

It was with a whisper that kingdoms could be brought down. Or empires.

Rey followed it. She followed it from Core World to Inner Rim to Mid Rim to Outer Rim, into smoky cantinas and outposts, down the back alleyways and out into the bustling streets. It weaved its way through the hordes, zig-zagging in all different directions until it shot back out into space. Coordinates were entered into the Falcon at least three times a day, all different numbers until they blurred together on the screen in one giant green glow.

It was in a dusty cantina on Tatooine that Rey finally found another piece of the puzzle.

The bartender was a Togruta who refused to speak to her unless it was to give her the price of a warm beer. Rey chugged it down, welcoming any liquid in this unrelenting heat. As she ordered another, she debated the morality of using the Force for gentle persuasion. In this place, black and white no longer seemed to matter. Everything was gray.

Seconds later, the bartender was jotting down numbers onto a cocktail napkin. Numbers that could be anything. Prices, time schedules, debts owed. Maybe even just random digits. Nothing… just like what was out there with the rest of the blowing sand.

But this time, the Force whispered back to Rey.

This was it. Finally. In her sweaty hand, on a wrinkled napkin with the cantina name printed on it, was the location of the lost Jedi Temple.

The galaxy had several ancient Temples, both Jedi and Sith. Rey had even been to two. But what made this one different was that nobody knew where it was. It was abandoned centuries ago, eventually lost in the sands or soil or waters of time. It became a legend. Supposedly, this Temple housed a hidden holocron that opened with secrets of long-lost lessons—one of which was an entirely unseen power. A power so great, so terrible… not even the Sith have been able to possess it. A power that could control the tides of any war. A power that could shape the galaxy, molding it into whatever the wielder wanted. A power that could consume. Digest. Leave nothing but a singularity, like the center of a black hole.

As Rey left the dim atmosphere of the cantina, the suns of Tatooine blinded her. It wasn’t even noon and yet she was already sweaty and lethargic, the heat sapping all energy like a parasite. She lifted the scarf around her neck, loosely wrapping it around her head to shield herself from not only the light, but anyone who might recognize her. Bounty hunters, First Order sympathizers, or even just those looking to cash in. She didn’t want to think about how many junkies would sell her for one hit of Spice.

The Falcon was hidden out in the desert. Well, as hidden as it could be in wide, shifting dunes. Waves of heat shimmered along the metal as Rey trekked the two kilometers back to it. She was ready to collapse by the time she reached the ramp, and as she ascended, she stomped the sand off her boots, clouds of dust billowing all around her. She needed to feel like she was shaking off this planet. It reminded her too much of Jakku, and she was so kriffing sick of sand.

Once the Falcon was back into the black void of space, and Tatooine was nothing more than a memory, Rey entered the coordinates into the Falcon’s mainframe, hoping that this would be the last time. The last random sequence of numbers she’d see until she entered the well-known coordinates for Yavin IV. She’d already been gone three and half weeks now. Too long.

One hard press of ENTER, and the Falcon jumped to hyperspace. Rey got up and stretched, wondering if she should try and nap in the approximately two hours it would take to reach her destination. But she was too excited, too on edge. This could be it… the final jump.

As the kettle hissed, Rey ripped open a packet of Instant Caf! with her teeth, pouring the brown powder into a mug stolen from the base’s cafeteria. She then curled up in the pilot’s seat, nursing the murky brown liquid as she watched the stars streak past.

She thought of the base. Of what they were serving in the cafeteria. What conversations and jokes she was missing out on. Of Finn, Poe, Rose and Kaydel. Leia. But not him. Every time she felt her thoughts drift towards his unmistakable dark signature, as alluring and sinful as dark chocolate, she thought of veg-meat.

Time often gets distorted in space. Two hours felt like four by the time everything on the ship stopped clattering, and the stars returned to distant pinpricks of light through black velvet.

A blue-green planet suddenly dominated the view-screen. A sheen surrounded it, swirling pink, purple and blue like an oil spill. The colors appeared oversaturated, bleeding. It hung there ominously, both beckoning and repelling.

An unmistakable feeling of dread dropped into the pit of Rey’s stomach like lead. She could feel it reverberating in her bones, like a deep baritone. Every hair stood up.

The planet was uncharted. Far, far into the Unknown Regions. There was no map in the galaxy with it on it. It might as well not even exist.

Rey wondered how many before her had found themselves staring at this planet, at the shimmer surrounding it. Where the first whisper had come from. Not for the first time, it crossed her mind that this could all be a trick; something put out by the First Order, who could very well be lying in wait on the surface below. A trap.

It was a risk she was willing to take. She had to, for the Resistance.

Taking a deep breath, Rey guided the Falcon to the planet, descending slowly, like it was a wild animal she was fearful of disturbing. As she broke atmosphere, there was an audible pop, like penetrating a bubble. The dials on all of the meters began spinning wildly. Static began hissing out of the comms. Everything was malfunctioning.

The Falcon wavered, like a bird with an injured wing.

Then, just as quickly as it began, everything stopped. A deafening silence permeated the air. It was the kind of silence that Rey had never heard before, the kind she could feel echo throughout space. Silence is usually the absence of sound, but this felt different. It had a weight to it, a presence, like a living thing. It felt almost like meditation. Or like the second after a mistake.

As Rey descended lower and lower, the air grew heavier. There was a slight resistance to it, like being underwater. She felt like she was making ripples, though she couldn’t see anything. Not with her naked eye, not even with the Force.

Something was wrong.

Lush green verdure sprouted into view. It was so bright, it was practically neon. Rey peered closer. Was it… was it moving?

Did it just move?

*

Rey was lying on the jungle ground.

As she opened her eyes, she looked up into the sun. It glimmered brightly through the foliage. She slowly pulled herself up to a sitting position, then dug her hands into the soil to try and stand up.

What happened? How did she get here?

Rey looked blearily around, the jungle spinning and wavering. She felt sick. She was going to be sick.

Vomit suddenly left her, like a punch to the stomach. As she spit the last of it up, a trail hanging from her lips, her hand grasped the trunk of a tree. Even the bark underneath her palm felt like it was moving.

The Falcon. Where was the Falcon?

A glint of metal through vegetation. Rey followed it like a mirage. When she got closer, she could see it was wedged against a bunch of trees, vines wrapped around it like snakes. It was as if they wanted to consume the ship, like the entire planet was digestive.

She shouldn’t have come here. She needed to leave. Now.

A horrible, crinkling sound. Hollow. It shot down her spine like nails on a chalkboard. The sound of metal being crushed.

Steam was rising from the ship as the vines constricted around it. They slithered across the door, blocking Rey from being able to enter. Her arm reached out to touch one, her hand slowly inching its way closer.

Thorns shot out.

Kriff.

Fortunately, her rucksack had a knife. Unfortunately, her quarterstaff was inside the ship.

As Rey made a cut into the thick green skin, a red goop oozed out like blood. Seconds later, the skin began knitting itself together, closing up and jutting out even bigger thorns.

Double kriff.

*

How long had it been since she landed?

Rey wiped sweat from her brow with her stained arm wraps.

Minutes? Hours? Days?

Rey’s sense of time was off, her inner clock just as screwy as the meters in the ship. All she knew was that she was thirsty and tired and full of regret. All she felt was the burning in her legs as she moved them one in front of the other as she ventured further into the mouth of the jungle.

There were no paths. No signs of settlements. No signs of life forms.

Well, no animals anyway.

*

It grew darker.

This was even creepier, as there were no sounds typical of night. No crickets. No howls. Nothing. Just nothing.

Rey stopped to catch her breath. She glanced up at the sporadic patches of sky though the foliage.

A bat!

There was a bat flying in a patch of dusty purple twilight. Finally, an animal. It wasn’t much to get excited over, but it was something. Something normal. Something to grasp onto in this fever dream that was more of a nightmare.

As the bat swooped lower, a new feeling of dread dropped into her stomach.

That was no bat. That was an Upsilon-class command shuttle.

Triple kriff.

Kylo Ren (she refused to call him Ben anymore) had either been tracking her, or he was here seeking the holocron too. Rey didn’t know which was worse. Either way, there was nothing to be done about it now. Nothing except cloak her signature, hoping he wouldn’t find the Falcon. Or what was left of it.

Rey closed her eyes in order to attune to the Force. She reached out like a scanner, searching. Searching. Searching.

There was something. Something far off in the distance. But it was slippery, like an eel. Every time she thought she had it, it wriggled out of her grasp, swimming further out. Deeper into the depths of blackness.

And something else.

Kylo was closer than she had thought. He was, he was—

“Hello Rey.”

Rey’s eyes snapped open.

No. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening. His ship was still in the sky.

Wasn’t it?

Rey looked back up at the patch of sky through the trees. The dusty violet was now the color of a plum. How did it get so dark so quickly? Time must pass quicker here than she was used to. But then again, it seemed to stretch on as she was marching through the vines, over the roots jutting out, which she could have sworn were trying to trip her. Not once did the sunlight shift. Clearly time was being distorted. Could it flow backwards, too?

“It’s possible.”

Rey turned around slowly, her eyes instantly locking onto the sparkling dark ones in the pale face of Kylo Ren. A face she hadn’t seen in a year. His hair was longer, more unruly than ever.

“Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” He tilted his head in mock-innocence as he circled around her. A black vulture playing with its prey.

“You know exactly what.” Rey glared at him as she crossed her arms and lifted her chin, trying to regain some measure of control by being as haughty as possible. “Don’t read my thoughts.”

“Then don’t shout them.”

“I wasn’t!”

Kylo didn’t say anything else, only continued to circle and circle and circle. It made her dizzy. It made her want to grab him by his tabard to stop him. But she didn’t. That would require touching him. Or his fabric, anyway. Either way, it was too close.

“Was touching me really so bad?”

Rey willed her mind to go blank. She wasn’t going to go there. She had practiced willing those feelings away in meditation, burying them deep in the recesses of her mind. The feeling of his skin against hers. The feeling of butterflies fluttering in her stomach, swooping low when he looked at her with hooded eyes and parted lips, illuminated by the red glow of his saber in Snoke’s Throne Room. The feeling of hope. And late at night, on a thin mattress under a threadbare blanket, the feeling of what could have been. Her fingers that could have been his.

Kylo stopped dead.

His eyes widened into black saucers as his lips fell open.

Oh.

Oh no.

No, no, no. She did not just think that.

Can time move backwards now?

“You think of me?”

“No,” she said, perhaps a bit too quickly. Then, with more conviction: “No.”

Kylo zeroed in on her, his neck bending slightly down as he bored holes deep into her. “You’re lying.”

“I’m not.”

Kylo took a step forward. It took everything in Rey not to step back. She mustn’t show weakness. He would devour her the second she does.

The slightest hint of a smirk shadowed his mouth. “I think that’s what you want.”

Rey blushed furiously. His smirk grew wider.

Rey couldn’t help but be transfixed, her embarrassment forgotten. She had never seen him smile before. It was roguish, even charming. It reminded her of Han.

And just like that, the smirk was gone.

“So what are you doing here, scavenger?” he sneered down at her.

Oh, so they were back to that now. Good.

“I could ask you the same thing.”

Kylo went back to circling around her. Rey rolled her eyes. Was it always destined to be this way? Always circling one other?

“It could have been different. You could have stood beside me.” He loomed behind her now. A shiver crept down her spine, despite the heat. “Those dreams of yours could have come true.”

Rey fought down the urge to blush again. “I’d hardly call those dreams.”

“Fantasies, then.”

“And do you not have any fantasies, Kylo Ren?” She needed to turn the tables back around. She needed control.

“Of course I do.”

The slightest ruffle of her tunic’s hem. It could have been the wind. But what if…?

An image crashed into her mind, unbidden. Someone who looked just like her, draped in black silk as form-fitting as a snakeskin. Charcoal-rimmed bedroom eyes. Lips smeared so red, it could have been blood.

Rey looked down at her gray and cream tunic, tabard and trousers, stained with sweat and dirt. “I’m afraid you don’t know me at all.”

“No,” he purred. “You’re afraid that I do.”

Rey swung around to face him. She stared deep into his black orbs, willing her voice to go soft and even. “You will get back on your ship. You will leave this place and forget you’ve ever seen me.” The Force was underlining every word.

Kylo stared back at her, unblinking. For a second, she thought it had worked. But then he was shaking his head slowly, like a master disappointed with a padawan. “Nice try, sand rat. I’ll ask you one more time. Why are you here?”

“Sand rat, scavenger. These little endearments are so quaint.” Rey looked at her dirt-streaked nails, feigning nonchalance. “And what shall I call you? Ben Solo?”

Rey found herself up against a tree so quickly, she thought she had lost time again. Kylo was pressing up against her, obscuring her vision like an eclipse until all she could see was him. She wondered why he didn’t just use the Force to hold her. Why his body?

“It’s more personal, this way.” He was close. Way too close.

“So it’s personal, then.” Her voice wasn’t trembling. It wasn’t.

“You know it’s always been.”

There was nothing but the sound of their breathing, made even louder in the silence of the jungle.

A thought occurred to her. “Why are you here?”

“You were careless in Corellia. You didn’t mind your surroundings as much as you thought. You left that hunk of junk in a well-known port instead of hiding it.” He licked his bottom lip, and she tried not to stare. “It was almost too easy.”

“You’ve been tracking me since Corellia? That was weeks ago!”

“And I could have captured you weeks ago. But I needed to find out what was so important that you left your precious Resistance.”

“I didn't leave. I’m going back.”

He pressed up against her even more. “Does it feel like you’re going back?”

Rey considered her options. The only weapon she had was a bowie knife. But it might as well be a piece of string, as useless as it was against Kylo Ren and his lightsaber.

Boom.

Kylo and Rey both swiveled towards the sudden sound and froze, listening.

Boom.

Far off in the distance. In the black mouth of the jungle.

Boom.
Boom.
Boom.

Rhythmic now. A beating. A drum.

Kylo grabbed Rey’s bicep, his grip so tight it hurt. He dragged her into the blackness, her heels digging into the dirt.

“Are you insane?” she hissed. “I don’t know what Sith School taught you, but you usually run away from scary sounds.”

“We’re two Force users. I have a lightsaber.” He looked down at her as he continued to drag her deeper in, using the Force to swing vines out of the way. “You had my grandfather’s lightsaber.”

“Are we really going to talk about that now?”

“When would you prefer? Over caf, like old friends?”

“Well, you are my dearest enemy.” Every word was dripping with sarcasm.

“As you are mine.”

And Rey could tell he meant it.

*

Everywhere was the blackest black Rey had ever seen. Was there a total lunar eclipse? Was there even a moon? She had to use the Force like sonar to prevent herself from tripping.

Time began to warp again. How long had they been walking? And to what? Where does this end?

Does it even end?

The beats grew louder. Rey felt like she was marching to her death.

At some point, yellow flickers started shimmying through the blackness, like candles that were constantly being snuffed out.

“I think we should turn back.”

“You’ve come all this way. Weeks of traveling has led you here. And now you want to turn back?”

In the darkness, Rey’s other senses were sharper. It was the only explanation for why his deep voice had any effect on her. Why she felt comfort in it.

“I’m serious Ben, please. I have a bad feeling about this.”

“So it’s ‘Ben’ now?”

Voices.

Rey felt herself suddenly being pulled down. She crouched alongside Kylo behind a tall patch of ferns.

There were life forms here. Aliens with green skin and glowing yellow eyes. Humanoids. Every single one was naked, their skin illuminated by torches stuck in the ground of a large clearing. In the middle of the clearing was a tall pyramid structure built with shiny black stone. It glinted in the firelight, reflecting it back like it had eyes.

Rey felt it again. The baritone reverberating deep in her bones. She felt like the pyramid could see her. Like it was watching her.

A couple of aliens walked past the ferns. They joined the rest that were standing around a fire. Some were beating drums. Others were standing in groups of two, each one silently facing the other.

A hunched figure in long, flowing black robes and a black veil was gliding from couple to couple, wrapping their left hands together with what looked like red rope. Rey couldn’t exactly be sure from this distance, but it looked like it was slithering around their hands, crawling up their wrists.

Chanting. An incantation. Every alien repeated after the one in robes.

Doru mes isauga viekis. Re midwan sekleti vada. Avitsu mes isauga skystas. Tik mirtis valia aukoti nwűl.

A kiss.

Then, a few couples began slowly drifting into the blackness of the jungle, their hands still clasped and bound.

A few began copulating right there on the ground. It shocked Rey, and she thought she was above being shocked. She grew up around Niima Outpost, after all. She was used to all sorts of debauchery. She had whacked the kriff out of flesh traders more than once.

It even seemed to shock the formidable Kylo Ren. His eyes were wide, his mouth ajar. Rey stared pointedly at him, hoping he could read her thoughts now.

Kylo turned to her. It seemed like he was about to say something, but before he could, the ferns parted, revealing the looming figure of the Robed One.

Rey felt herself rising up slowly. It was like her body had moved of its own accord. In her periphery, she could see Kylo doing the same. She stared into the black lace of the veil, into the void where she thought there might be eyes.

The Robed One—an elderly female, Rey somehow knew—turned around, gliding back to the fire. It was like she wasn’t even moving, but floating.

Rey was shocked to find herself following her. Kylo matched every step in time with her own. They were sync. In some sort of trance. A warm haze filled the spaces of her mind, spreading throughout her limbs. She felt like she was floating too.

Kylo and Rey stopped at the same time. Faced one another. His eyes were blacker than ever. She was drowning in them.

Their left hands slowly lifted. Grasped the other.

Rey could feel his skin for the first time in a year. What had happened to his leather glove?

A red rope was being wrapped around their hands, cooly slithering across their skin. It constricted around their flesh, their bones.

Kylo’s lips moved. His voice was deep, silky. She not only heard it, she felt it. It sunk into her.

Together we grow strong. Our powers shall increase. Apart we grow weak. Only death would give peace.

Rey felt her own lips moving. Heard her own voice chant the words back. Felt it sink into him.

Rey gazed down. The red rope was now a dark ribbon of blood. It poured all along their hands and wrists, dripping into the soil.

Fingers on her chin. Lifting her head up. And then Kylo’s lips were pressing upon hers. Softly. Gently.

Her first kiss.

Then his tongue was pushing through, tangling with her own. Dominating. Like he wanted to devour her.

It grew even rougher. Passionate. Jolts of pleasure were shooting down Rey’s spine, pooling warm into her abdomen. It was like falling, over and over.

She rubbed her thighs together. It was then that she felt how wet she was. It spread between her thighs.

She felt her tunic being ripped down the seams the same time she felt her hands twisting the fabric of his tabard. She couldn’t get close enough.

He clearly felt the same way, because she could feel his hands everywhere as his mouth consumed her. His muscular arms wrapped around her in a vice, pressing her against him. Against the hard bulge.

Closer.

Rey grasped onto his thick black locks as she bit down on his bottom lip. She tasted blood on her tongue. Sweet, metallic.

Then his plush lips were running a warm, wet trail down her neck, biting and sucking into the dip between her neck and shoulder. She could have sworn he drew blood. Licked it away. Pings were shooting straight down as her legs gave out.

The jungle titled. Rey was slowly lowered down onto the jungle floor, onto the soil and moss. The earthiness smelled intense. She could even smell the blood.

Closer.

She didn’t know when it had happened, but she was no longer wearing trousers. And neither was he. His cock jutted out, large and veiny.

A tearing sound. Her panties were being torn off her. Shredded.

Closer.

As Rey gazed into his dark eyes, she stopped lying to herself. Besides, there could be no lies here. Only truth. Only mirrors.

She wanted him. She wanted this. She had never wanted anything more.

Closer.

Skin-to-skin. His weight crushing on top of her. Settling between her thighs, which were wide open. Welcoming.

A bluntness bobbing into her slick slit. Pressure. Pop. A sudden fullness. So full. Pain. But pleasure. Pleasure in the pain.

Kylo had penetrated her. In one swift thrust, he had buried himself deep inside her, up to the hilt.

Rey felt split in half. Impaled.

A flex of muscles and skin above her. A hot, delicious slick. Long. His length sliding out. Then pushing in. A hot, heavy slide out. Slamming in.

A blur now. Pounding inside her to the beat of the drums. Lost to a wildness inside, to the beast within. Fucking.

In, out.
In, out.
In, out.
In, out.

Sweat. Skin. Slapping. Harder. Faster. Higher. More. More. More.

In, out.
In, out.
In, out.
In, out.
In, out.

Nwûl tash. Dzwol shâsotkun. There is no peace. Only passion. Nwûl tash. Dzwol shâsotkun.

Dzwol shâsotkun.
Dzwol shâsotkun.
Dzwol shâsotkun.

DZWOL SHÂSOTKUN!

A white hot agony/ecstasy. Blinding. Like the flash of a nuclear bomb.

When Rey came back down, drenched in sweat and panting, her walls were still spasming around Kylo’s thick cock. His thrusts grew erratic. His cock twitched. Low, guttural grunts she could feel. Joining the cacophony of grunts and growls and moans all around.

Suddenly he stopped, hot liquid ropes shooting deep inside her. As the warmness was spreading, seeping, her cunt continued to spasm, wanting him to pour deeper. She wanted him as far inside her as he could go.

Rey felt both consuming and consumed.

The pyramid glinted fire in its eyes.

This was no Jedi Temple. This was something dark, something sinister.

This was Sith.

Chapter Text

II.

Kylo Ren was still inside her when time shifted again.

One second ago, there had been a cataclysm of sex and violence. A frenzy of writhing green bodies smeared in soil and blood, contorting into positions that seemed unnatural. Impossible. A primal symphony of moans, gasps, growls and grunts to a rhythmic beat of drums and slapping skin.

There had been lit torches and a raging fire. A fire so high, Rey had thought the embers would burn the entire jungle down, leaving nothing but scorched earth. Not that she could find it in herself to care.

Tegu zhol mtoni. Tegu zhol upatdoci j’us. Tave taremla adata kia mtoni negu zhol gal uhutzeyu. Let it burn. Let it immolate you. The phoenix needs to burn before it can emerge.

One second ago, Rey was spreading her fiery wings, embracing her fate. Her fury. Her past life was consumed, like how the wolf eats the lamb that eats the grass that grows out of dead animals in the soil.

The soil here was sacred. It was smeared all over her naked body, blood from the binding and consummation having seeped into it.

Zhol buti dary. It is done.

One second ago, Rey had completed an ancient ceremony. A Dark Side binding ritual at the first Sith Temple.

Now there was only darkness and silence. Nobody else around. It was like microfilm that had been cut and spliced.

Not much time could have passed. Smoke was still rising from the ashes, illuminated in the light of a full blood moon.

So there was a moon, after all.

It was massive, bigger than any moon Rey had ever seen. It seemed to fill half the sky, like it was about to crash into the planet. Its black pits crackled as orange light dragged across it. Rey was transfixed. As she stared up at it, Kylo pulled out of her, away from her, leaving her strangely cold and bereft.

His pale skin glowed in the moonlight as he stood up and turned. Long scratches lined his muscular back like claw marks. She could feel his blood underneath her fingernails. She still tasted blood on her tongue from when she bit his lip. And she knew he had consumed some of her blood as well, her neck still throbbing from when he had bitten down like a vampire.

Rey was still lying on the ground, her legs splayed open and knees pulled up as Kylo began looking around. She finally snapped out of it. Closed her legs. Pulled herself up. Every move was slow as soreness set in.

What the kark just happened?

*

Their clothes were a mess.

Hers were already stained with sweat and dirt since she landed, but now they were also ripped and stained with blood. Her tunic was torn down the seams, her panties shredded. The only items that had survived were her trousers, tabard, breast band and boots. The tunic might be able to be mended, but her sewing kit was inside the Falcon. The panties were a lost cause.

As Kylo walked a few feet ahead of her in the jungle that was now more luminescent with the arriving moon, Rey felt a pang of jealousy, as his clothes weren’t torn. And he could certainly afford new ones, even if they had been. And the damn black color hid everything.

“I’m sorry.”

It was said so quietly, Rey almost didn’t think she had heard it. And surely the great Kylo Ren never apologized. …Did he?

“Still see me as a monster, then.” It wasn’t a question.

Crickets and hoots and howls now sounded in the jungle. It was like a light switch had been turned on compared to the deafening silence before. Twigs snapped under their boots as they used the Force to guide them back to where they had landed.

“Did you…”

Kylo stopped and swung around so suddenly, Rey almost crashed into him. “Did I what?

Rey squirmed under his unrelenting stare, his dark eyes glinting in the moonlight.

“Say it. Did I what?"

“Did you lead me here?”

“You think I planned this.”

“Well, did you?”

Kylo turned back around, but didn’t move. His black tabard shimmered in the light as he took deep breaths in and out. Even if she couldn’t sense his feelings with the Force, she would know the tension in those lines. The restraint.

“It’s just… I’ve never done that sort of thing before.” Her voice was small, quiet. Vulnerable. She hated to show weakness, but she needed something from him. Just what exactly that was, she wasn’t sure.

“And you think I have?”

“I don’t know what you Sith get up to.”

“Oh right, just an average Wednesday.” He began walking again, quicker now. She struggled to keep up with his long strides. “And I’m not a Sith.”

Something occurred to her, but it took another few minutes before she could work up the courage to say it. She knew he must have heard the question, but if he had, he wasn’t answering. “So when you said you hadn’t done that before…”

Kylo flung a vine out of the way with more force than necessary. “I mean I hadn’t done that before.”

“So like… the ritual part, or…?”

Kylo stopped again. Turned around. His eyes roamed over her face. It was like he was searching for something, or having an inner debate about how much to say. “It was my first time, too.”

Oh. Oh.

That was… strangely comforting. It looked like he was about to say something more, but then he was turning around again. This time, he walked slower, allowing Rey to follow almost side-by-side.

*

A brilliant flash of hissing red as Kylo turned on his lightsaber. With one smooth arc, he cut through the thick green vines that covered the door of the Falcon. They fell limply down, lifeless.

“Thank you,” Rey said as she pressed the button next to the hatch. As the ramp slowly descended, automatic lights from the interior of the ship blinded her. It surprised her how much she had adjusted to the darkness.

Kylo didn’t say anything, but she knew he accepted her gratitude. They stood in front of the ramp awkwardly, both seemingly waiting for something. But what? What do you say after a night like this? After you’ve just had sex for the first time? Was he her lover now?

“Do you want me to be?”

Rey couldn’t tell if he was asking earnestly, or if this was just another way to mock her, tease her. The vulture returned to play with its food. And yet… there seemed to be a sort of hopefulness about the question. But so many things here were playing tricks on her, so she couldn’t be certain of anything.

“Do you… do you want me to want you to be?”

Kylo stared deeply into her, almost as deep as when he was buried inside her. A few moments passed, heavy with meaning that Rey didn’t understand, like a foreign language.

Then his left hand was reaching out, ungloved. She was mesmerized as she watched him tuck a sweaty strand of hair away from her face, his fingertips a ghost upon her skin. His touch seemed to linger, but only for a second. “Goodnight, Rey.”

“Don’t you mean ‘goodbye’?”

And just why was he letting her go, anyway?

Kylo shook his head. Then he was walking away, the moonlight following him, more of a beacon of light in this strange, dark place than he would ever know.

*

The coordinates for Yavin IV were entered into the Falcon’s mainframe.

Rey couldn’t press ENTER just yet, not until she was back into the vacuum of space. But she just she needed to see their green glow. The numbers were familiar, comforting, just like the warm hugs she could expect from her friends once she was back on base. If numbers could hug her, these would.

Rey slumped down in the pilot’s seat, her head dropping into her hands. The lights of the console blinked through her fingers.

She had failed in her mission. Time wasted. Credits wasted. She dreaded the report she was required to give once she landed. How could she possibly look Leia in the eye and tell her what had happened between her and her son?

But to leave it out… well, there was no other way to explain why she didn’t go into the temple once she had found it. I’m sorry General, but once I was done fucking your son, I was too tired to go into the temple. Yes, the one only meters away. I just figured I’d had enough Dark Side inside me for one night.

Rey ran a hand through her hair, then grimaced as she felt the sweat and tangles matted with dirt. She desperately needed a shower, but she would wait until she was in hyperspace. As far away from this planet as possible.

All those weeks of traveling. Of searching. Following lead after lead, running into dead ends like a mouse in a maze. And now, to have come so close… only to be too afraid to go any further.

Maybe the holocron never existed. Maybe this was all just a mirage from the Dark Side to lure her here. But why during a binding ceremony? Why bind her to Kylo?

Even if the holocron did exist, maybe it was a good thing she refused to search for it any longer. To go back to the temple or this planet ever again. Clearly nothing good can come from this place. Even if it had felt good. So good…

Too good.

Rey never understood the call of the dark before. She never desired the power and vengeance it whispered to others. But then again, wasn’t that exactly why she had come? All those sleepless nights on various planets, planning, plotting what she would do with the holocron if she ever found it. All good things, of course. Like ending the war and bringing peace to the galaxy. All in the name of the Resistance. But maybe… maybe her hunger ran deeper than she had realized. Maybe it didn’t matter what her plans were, but the fact she desired such power in the first place. Maybe it didn’t matter which side of the war she was on, because it was the same coin. And spinning in the air, heads and tails were all the same.

Maybe she had been the one to call to the dark, after all.

And it had answered.

Rey could still feel Kylo’s cum inside her. It had been leaking out since she first stood up, and with every step in the jungle, it had seeped further into her trousers. It shocked her to find she loved the way it felt when he came inside her. It was something primal. Biological. But despite her animalistic nature, she was thankful for the contraceptive implant in her arm—a requirement for living on base, updated by a med droid every annual check-up.

As Rey absentmindedly rubbed the crescent-shaped scar on her bicep, she ran through a version of events for her report. A version that excluded what really happened after landing. It will go up in flames with her, whether that will be in an exploding cockpit or a funeral pyre. She can never admit how close she came to the dark. How much she loved it. How much she loved being crushed under Kylo as he pounded into her, dominating her. She was surprised to discover this about herself, knowing how much she valued her autonomy. Knowing her own stubbornness. How often she fought him.

Had she wanted this the whole time? Were fighting and fucking really so different?

She had fought with plenty others before, but never once did she want them to throw her down and fuck her mindlessly.

But with Kylo… Ben…

Rey shook her head. No. No, she wasn’t going to dwell any longer on this. He had chosen his side. And she had chosen hers. And no matter how much she wished things could be different, they weren’t.

It was time to go back to reality. It was time to go home.

As the Falcon ascended, Rey looked down at the jungle below. It spanned the planet as far as she could see. There didn’t appear to be any cities or settlements anywhere. No lights. Not even any fires. Nothing except the glow of the blood moon.

She was approaching the shimmer now. The swirling pink, purple and blue gases glowed teal as a hologram in some places. It reminded her of neurons.

ZAPPPP

The dials began spinning wildly again. Static hissed out of the comms. Even the compass no longer knew which way was north. The blinking lights inside the cockpit shorted out, submerging the ship into darkness, like at the bottom of an ocean.

The feeling of floating.

Then falling. The Falcon was falling.

The jungle rushed out to her, opening its black spidery arms to welcome her into its web. This was it.

She was going to die.

Rey closed her eyes. Reached for the Force one last time. Sank into its calm, peaceful waters like a stone.

I am one with the Force. The Force is with me. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me. I am one with the Force. I am one with the Force. I am one with—

Everything stopped. The Falcon hung above the treetops, suspended like a yo-yo at the end of a string.

Then it was being pulled. Not upwards, but sideways. Rey watched in confusion and awe as it drifted over the jungle, until it reached what looked like a clearing.

A clearing with a black Upsilon-class command shuttle, its wings still straight up.

As soon as the Falcon touched ground, Rey was running down the ramp, ignoring the pain in her abdomen as adrenalin rushed through her bloodstream. She nearly crashed right into Kylo Ren as he stood in the middle of the clearing, his right arm still lifted.

“HOW DARE YOU! YOU WERE TRYING TO KILL ME!”

“I… saved… you,” he panted. It was then that she noticed the sweat pouring down his face and neck. The redness in his otherwise pale skin. The grimacing.

Kylo doubled over, then sank to his knees, still panting as he stared at the ground. It disturbed her. She didn’t like to see anyone in pain, but to see someone who has such a high tolerance for it—well, he must be in a lot of pain. And he did just save her life. Rey didn’t doubt him. She could sense his truthfulness, and now that she had calmed down, she realized he could have killed her long ago, if he had really wanted her dead.

“Yes,” he said, looking up.

“Then why…” Rey shook her head. “Why did you let me leave?”

Kylo stood up, looming over her once more. He was still breathing heavily, still red, but he seemed to be in more control now. “Because I knew you couldn’t.”

“So you knew that was going to happen?!”

“No,” he said. “I didn’t even think you’d be able to get off the ground. The shimmer surrounding Kanasazi is actually a force field. The sheer amount of electric interference has the power to short-circuit anything that touches it. Like ships.”

“‘Kanasazi’?”

“It means ‘passion’ in High Sith.” A flash of Ben Solo, ever the scholar.

Rey closed her eyes. “Of course it does.”

*

A squeaky turn of a silver knob. Hissing streams of water pattering down on porcelain. Gurgling down the drain of the Falcon’s shower. A sonic shower might be more practical, more economical, especially for being stranded. But the sweat and dirt and grime and cum was too much, her muscles were sore, and she needed to feel something normal. Something soothing. She needed to cleanse herself in the purifying element and emerge anew, like a baptism.

A hand wiped across the steamed-up mirror above the sink, revealing Rey’s filthy face and bare shoulders. Teeth marks on her neck. She felt like she hadn’t seen herself in days.

Did she look any different?

Rey stepped into the shower, the jets beating down on her skin. Rivers of red and brown swirled down the drain.

Emerging from the steamy refresher half an hour later, she didn’t feel reborn; rather, she felt very much like her old self again.

*

A late dinner of pre-packaged, freeze-dried, military-grade rations. Polystarch and veg-meat. Green. It tasted like nothingness.

Usually Rey had no qualms about eating rations. She had subsisted on far less in the past. She wasn’t one to be picky—a quality she was endlessly teased for by her friends back on base. She would finish the food off their plates, even if it was a lumpy mash of clashing flavors. She was the only one who never complained about what the cafeteria served, even when credits and supplies were scarce and the quality and portions decreased. Especially then.

But the food right now… it was like ashes in her mouth. She couldn’t even swallow it.

Rey spit it out, her stomach gurgling in protest.

She ripped open the foil packet of a ration bar. Bit into it. Chewed once, twice.

Spit it out.

What was wrong with her? Was she sick?

Maybe she should try lying down. Maybe all she really needed was a good night’s sleep. She was pretty exhausted. And then tomorrow she could begin figuring out how to get off this kriffing planet. How to penetrate the shimmer. How to deal with Kylo. Yes, tomorrow. Tomorrow she would figure everything out.

Everything would be okay.

*

Distorted, grotesque shapes. Neon colors. Bleeding, seeping.

Whispers.

Berniuk. Child.

The shapes grew larger. Imposing. Brighter.

Tikurzi buti tu'iea poru? Where is your mate?

Rey flopped over on the bed in the captain’s quarters, pulling the fitted sheet out from the edge of the mattress. The blanket was tangled in between her legs. Sweat was dripping down her skin, soaking her clothes.

Kodel dary j'us nenx zuti kia jis? Why do you not go to him?

Her legs were moving. Thrashing. Swinging out over the bed.

Dreams of skin. A long, taunt back covered in angry red scratches. Muscles shifting under it.

Dark eyes. So dark they’re black. Like a black hole she couldn’t stop herself from falling into. Time ceased to exist as she stared into the void.

The void was shining. Like smooth black stone. She could see her reflection in it.

Her reflection grinned. A slow, eerie, disturbing pull of lips. Almost like a snarl. Like a predator playing with its prey.

J'us buti tave kojasi. Viskas naile j’us. J'us buti virsuz savimi visa. You are the hunter. Everything fears you. You are above them all.

A surge of power and passion coursing through her body. Every cell was electrified.

Yes. She was above them all.

She was above Kylo Ren.

She was more powerful than him. She could consume him, if she so desired.

The walls of her cunt squeezed like a venus fly trap around his meat.

He gasped, arching up for air as her body writhed back and forth on top of him. Rocking rhythmically. Rivulets of sweat ran down her skin, dripping down onto his neck and chest. She licked it away with one long, hot swipe of her tongue. Salt.

His hands were spanning her hips, gripping her flesh hard enough to leave bruises. He pounded her down onto him, still fighting for dominance even when beneath her.

Mokyti jis zo syrius. Rareu durstuni j'us. Niekas gal galia j'us atgal. Teach him a lesson. Nobody controls you. Nothing can hold you back.

Rey stopped moving. Clamped her cunt walls. Resisted her own pleasure in order to take pleasure in watching him squirm. Confusion crossed over his face like a shadow. He tried to make her move again, lifting her body up. A long, warm slick. But before he could crash her back down, she was leaning over him, gripping his neck with her hand. Not that she needed to—the Force was choking him. She felt his pulse racing underneath her fingernails.

Manosi. Mine.

She began riding him again. Harder. Faster. Harder. Faster. Back and forth, like a wave. It rose and rose like a tsunami.

Tu’iea. Yours.

He whispered back. Only, he couldn’t speak through the Force-choke. It reverberated through her mind, through her walls.

Xaz. Yes.

She could see through him. Through his eyes. She saw herself, terribly beautiful and beautifully terrible.

Xaz. Yes.

He wanted this. Just as much as she wanted it. This was always meant to happen. All roads would have led them here. With him inside her. Choice was an illusion. This was destiny. Fate. Kismet.

Xaz. Yes.

As the tsunami crashed, Rey arched her body as she threw her head back. Her eyes shut, her mouth fell open. She let the pleasure carry her, drift her, take her away. When she sank back down, drenched in sweat and her thighs smeared with her wetness, she was gasping for air. She felt like she had been resuscitated after drowning.

The Force-hold broke.

In the blink of an eye, she found herself pinned underneath Kylo, his thick cock pummeling into her.

In, out, in, out, in, out.

The hot slickness of his length sliding in and out. The ridges along his shaft catching on her walls. The head hitting that spot deep inside her, piercing her. Pain and pleasure, pain and pleasure, what was the difference?

Manosi. Mine.

Kylo was thrusting so hard, their bodies were moving across the bed, the bed slamming against the wall. Springs in the mattress squeaked rhythmically.

Twitches. Spasms. Burning hot cum flooding inside her.

Xaz. Tu’iea. Yes. Yours.

*

As Rey opened her eyes, she stretched, her arm thumping against the wall.

Since when did the wall move? And since when was it painted black?

Rey sat up, her spine rim-rod straight. As she turned her head, her eyes roamed over the naked flesh of a sleeping Kylo Ren. His pale skin glowed blue in the dim cool lighting. He was lying on his stomach on top of a black silk sheet, which was rumpled and twisted underneath him. One of his legs was curled. She tried not to linger on his buttocks.

Oh kriff.

So that wasn’t a dream, after all.

She crawled over him carefully, landing silently and gracefully on the cool floor like a cat. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t help but look at him again. Black tendrils had fallen over one eye, curled at the ends with sweat and humidity. The tiniest ghost of a smile was drifting across his lips. He looked peaceful. Young. Beautiful.

Rey stared at him for longer than she would ever admit. She had the strange urge to push back his hair and kiss his forehead. She blamed the post-sex endorphins.

Shaking her head, she began picking up her discarded clothes that were strewn across the small sleeping quarters. Thankfully nothing seemed to be torn. This time.

As she pulled on her boots, not even bothering to tie the laces, she took one last long look at the peacefulness she so rarely saw. It was like a glimpse into Ben Solo’s face through the mask of Kylo Ren. Then she was turning around, halfway out the door when—

“Leaving so soon?”

Rey turned back around. “I hadn’t wanted to disturb you.”

Kylo smirked. “You’re a good liar.”

“Apparently not good enough.”

Kylo sat up. As he did so, Rey averted her eyes. Pretended to find the threads in her gray jumper fascinating.

“Still so shy. After all we’ve been through together.”

Rey blushed.

“Come back to bed.” He lifted the black silk sheet, which was at odds with the tiny cot.

“There’s no room.”

“Of course there is.”

There was something so innocent, so sweet about this. So at odds with what happened before. Rey didn’t know what to do. Should she stay? Her gaze drifted down his body.

Her eyes snagged on something. It was red. Angry. Blistering.

Ben…” Rey rushed over to him, the distance forgotten. It was natural. Instinctual.

“What?”

Rey gently touched the skin on his ribs, around a wound the size of an Imperial credit coin. Ben flinched. Shock flitted across his features as he looked down. Then he was staring at her again in an entirely different way.

“Rey…” he breathed, pointing.

Rey looked down. A spot of blood was seeping through her trousers on her left thigh. She pulled them down right in front of him, no longer shy.

There. A wound to match his own. Only hers was even redder, angrier. Puss oozed out.

What was this? What was happening?

Dary nenx sari kia v'taci tave rysys darval. Sis buti tu'iea tik zenklas. Do not try to stretch the bond again. This is your only warning.

Chapter Text

III.

The Falcon was gutted.

Its innards were spread out all over the dirty floors of the engineering bay like an operating room. The colorful veins of pulled wires. Organ modules. Circuitry brains with data chip tissue. Rey used maintenance tools the way a surgeon uses scalpels.

Thank the Force for generators. The main one must have switched on when the Falcon first broke atmosphere, past the force-field of the shimmer. It allowed her to emergency land, or crash, which she still didn’t remember doing. It had enough power to get the Falcon off the ground, and would have been enough for one relatively short hyperspace jump. But when she had tried to get past the shimmer again, it short-circuited the generator, resulting in a complete systems failure. Diagnosis of damage level: Catastrophic.

There was a back-up generator. But it was small and didn’t have a lot of juice. Definitely not enough to get off the ground again. Its purpose was for the lights and heat. Just enough to keep the darkness and cold and filth at bay while waiting for help. To warm water for showers and cups of tea. Just enough to feel civilized; to slow the devolution into savagery.

But help was never going to come. Signals could not penetrate the shimmer.

The back-up generator didn’t light the whole ship. Only the main hold, engineering bay, captain’s quarters, refresher, and a few corridors. But even the lights that worked were constantly flickering. They would often short out before Rey reached the end of a corridor, submerging that part of the ship into darkness. Whenever that would happen, she didn’t even need to use the Force to find her way around. She knew the ship inside and out. It was an extension of her, like her quarterstaff.

But the generator could not last forever. Nor could the rations. Or the water. Most importantly, the water.

Rey never underestimated water.

She knew thirst. And the thirst was coming. Hunger was nothing compared to it. A human could go weeks without eating, but only days without drinking. Hunger isn’t even a blip on your radar when you’re dehydrated enough. What lengths would she go to then?

She might have been a scavenger, but she was never a savage. She might have lived in a downed AT-AT in the middle of the desert, but she wasn’t that far from Niima Outpost, where she was able to trade for supplies. There were bath houses. There were water pumps, which she would fill canteens and jugs with daily.

The only times she worried about thirst was when the X’us’R’iia would come. Hibernating in darkness with sand pummeling the metal of the AT-AT, praying to every deity she’d ever heard cursed by passing offworlders at the outpost. Rationing every drop.

Sometimes she still heard the tickticktickticktick of grains in her sleep. Whenever that happened, she’d get up and get a glass of water, even if she wasn’t thirsty.

Rey didn’t dream of sand storms now.

She dreamt of oversaturated colors. The pungent smell of lilies, sweet and slightly rotted. Indulgent flavors exploding on her tongue, like wine and chocolate. And the taste of Kylo’s saliva and sweat and cum: spicy, salty, and something else. Something uniquely him. Everything was intoxicating, like a dial had been turned all the way up.

Whenever she closed her eyes in the queen-sized bed in the captain’s quarters, she slipped into the dark like smooth silk. Slipped down the black sheets of Kylo’s cot, her arms spread out overhead.

Whenever Kylo closed his eyes, he slipped inside her, his cock sliding home into a warm wetness that fit him like a glove. She knew this without knowing how she knew. She was inside him just as much as he was inside her. She saw herself through his obsidian eyes, like a black mirror. And now, whenever she looked into the polished glass above the refresher sink, she began to resemble the woman in his eyes more and more, little by little. Like a painting that was constantly being retouched.

Redder lips. Paler skin. Darker eyes. Even her hair seemed to grow a shade darker. Once, she thought she saw a sliver of gold in her irises, but it could have been a trick of the light.

For just one night, Rey wished she could fall into oblivion. She longed for the nights she used to drift into a peaceful slumber after exhausting herself with X-wing repairs all day. Or after drinking Corellian whiskey with the crew into the wee hours of the morning, toasting to the memories of fallen comrades.

There wasn’t any whiskey stashed on the Falcon. She’d already checked. Chewie must have gotten to whatever was left after—

The wrench fell out of Rey’s hand as a pain seared through her heart. But it wasn’t just her pain.

It’s not that she didn’t enjoy her time with Ben. But it frightened her. It frightened her not remembering how she got to his ship. Or to his bed. It frightened her how much she didn’t care. It frightened her how much she wanted him all the time. Needed him. Craved him. Like a spice junkie craving one more hit, the final hit, knowing all the while there’s no such thing as final hits. Not out of choice, anyway.

The Dark Side frightened her as much as it beguiled her. The jungle just plain frightened her. As did the scabbing wound on her thigh. Even when it fully healed, it would leave a scar. It throbbed every night shortly before she would lie down, until she finally succumbed to the darkness.

And so she worked on the Falcon. Day in, day out. She knew deep down it wouldn’t make a difference, but she needed a distraction. And working with machinery was familiar. Comforting. But even if she managed to repair the main generator, there was no solution to breaking through the shimmer. She was stuck.

They were stuck.

If Kylo was concerned about any of this, he didn’t show it. Not that Rey saw him much, outside of the dreams that turned reality once she opened her eyes. She felt the tools in his hands as he worked on his own ship, which was only meters away from her own.

What had happened to the Falcon had also happened to his Upsilon. Only he remembered landing. He hadn’t remembered leaving the cockpit, or reaching Rey. Only that he blinked and there she was, standing with her back to him and her head tilted at the sky.

He had wanted her even then, without the influence of the ritual. Rey knew this, as much as she knew the mechanics of the hyperdrive motivator. And she had wanted him, only she hadn’t been able to admit it then.

She could admit it now.

Away from the Resistance and the First Order. Away from right and wrong, light and dark. They existed in the in-between. Sides no longer mattered. There was only what you wanted, and what you would be willing give for it.

And Rey was beginning to want something more for the first time in her life. More than her parents. More than ship parts and scrap metal. More than portions. More than water.

More.

*

Vel.

*

The fire crackled as embers and smoke rose in the inky indigo night.

Rey sat across from Kylo, the fire in between them. She shimmied a small pot of dehydrated stew mixed with the barest amount of water over a metal grate, her mouth watering over the wafting smell of bantha meat. It was from Kylo’s supply.

“We need to go back into the jungle.”

Rey looked up from the bubbling brown broth. “I’m sorry, I must be so hungry that I’m starting to hear things, because I could have sworn you just said we needed to go back into the jungle.”

“We need water. My tank meter reads at 38%. I’m assuming you’re not far behind.”

“Actually, I’ve three-quarters left.” Rey shook her head. “It’s been four days—or at least, I think it’s been four days. How in the kriff did you go through so much water already?”

“Drinking, showering—the basics.” Kylo shrugged. “Not to mention I’ve been traveling for weeks, and haven’t fueled since Ord Mantell.”

"You're not taking sonic showers?”

“Those aren't enough to get the dirt and grease off.” Kylo ran a hand though his silky locks. The perfectly coiffed waves that Rey eyed suspiciously.

"And I'm sure your hair product vials are also low, too."

Kylo rolled his eyes. "Not everyone is used to being dirty."

Rey’s eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. “Is this the part where you go back to calling me a sand rat?”

“No.”

“Good.” She shimmied the pot again. The stew was beginning to thicken.

“All I'm trying to say is that you needn’t be so concerned about water, if we’re able to find a source here. And there has to be one.”

“How can you be certain?”

“There’s life here. Life cannot exist without water,” he said slowly, as if explaining to a child.

Rey rolled her eyes. “And this clearly isn’t a typical planet. Or have you forgotten already?”

Kylo ignored her. “Either we take a risk, or we wait until we’re too dehydrated to do anything about it.”

“If we can just figure out a way to get a signal through—“

“Be logical for once.”

Rey glared. “I’m quite logical, thank you very much.”

“It would be logical to start taking showers together, then.” Kylo shrugged. “If you’re so concerned about water conservation.”

Rey blushed and glared at the same time. She knew that he knew she would never agree to that. It was just a way to prove his point.

This was the closest they’d come to talking about what was going on between them. Outside of dream trances, they hadn’t had sex. They always found themselves in the middle of it. And it was easier to finish once they were in the midst of passion, rather than the awkward part of starting. Neither wanted to be the first to make a move.

Rey poured the stew into two bowls, making sure to divvy up the scant bantha meat equally. They ate in silence, the only sound the crackling of the firewood. Her dinner was gone in three bites.

“How did you stop the Falcon from falling?” It was something she’d been dying to ask, and it was a safe enough change of subject.

Kylo took his time chewing and swallowing. Rey was just about to repeat the question when: “I don’t know.”

“Have you ever done that before?” She was scraping the bottom of the bowl.

“No.”

He was hiding something, she could feel it. “Is it something you learned from Snoke? Or your Jedi training?”

Kylo swirled his stew around with his spoon. “No.”

Rey frowned, her eyebrows creasing. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’ve never even read anything like that in all the Jedi texts. I’ve never seen such…” She trailed off, struggling for the right world.

“Strength? Power?”

“…Control.”

Kylo stared into her. “Haven’t you noticed by now, Rey? Or are you still oblivious.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You don’t know anything about the Mirji Hatakûria, do you?”

Rey rolled her eyes. “No, but I have a feeling you’re going to enlighten me.”

“The Mirji Hatakûria — or ‘Binding Ceremony’ — is an ancient Sith ritual binding Darksiders.” Ben stared down into his stew, as if there was a holobook in there and he was reading from it. “The closest equivalent is civil marriage. But it predates it.”

Rey opened her mouth.

“And before you ask, no.” Ben continued. “There’s no undoing it. The power infused by the first Sith Temple ensures that the bond is unbreakable. Only death—and a painful one, at that—is a release.”

Rey felt numb from shock. What the kriff? Why had he not brought this up before? Why now?

“You haven’t exactly stuck around to talk.” He cleared his throat. “Afterwards.”

“But I’m not a Darksider.”

“You’ve used the Dark Side before, Rey. You channel it more than you realize. Even now, you have more dark in you then you’ll ever admit.”

“I’m not a Darksider,” she gritted out through clenched teeth.

“Fine.” Ben shrugged. “You’re not a Darksider.”

“So… So what you’re saying is… we’re married?

“Bonded,” Ben corrected. “I mean, even more so.”

Rey stopped to consider this as Ben went back to staring into his stew. “Okay, so…” She ran a hand through her hair. “Why would the Sith want to get married? Or bonded or whatever. If they’re usually so…”

“Singular?” Ben looked up again. A few moments passed, heavy with the weight of something as he stared into her over the fire, the dancing flames reflecting in the coal of his eyes. “Doru mes isauga viekis. Re midwan sekleti vada.

Rey glared. “Why are you repeating that?”

“Say it.”

“Ben—“

“Say it.”

Rey sighed. She was still hungry. Too hungry to argue. “‘Together we grow strong. Our powers shall increase.’”

“The binding will make us stronger the longer we… spend time together.”

“Oh, is that what we’re calling it now?”

Now it was Ben’s turn to blush. The tips of his ears turned red through wisps of black waves. A few minutes passed before he set down his bowl.

“The Sith are not exactly known to fall in love.” His eyes bore into her. “Lust, yes. But power is the strongest aphrodisiac there is to a Darksider. And even if a passionate affair resulted in offspring, it’s a Sith’s natural tendency to destroy any possible threat to his or her power.”

“Okay, so… what does this have to do with the binding?”

“It’s the Dark Side’s way of ensuring there’s more Darksiders.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Don’t you?”

Rey could help but feel like she was missing something. “So the wounds—”

“—Resulted from your attempt to leave me behind. Things will only get worse, the greater the distance and the longer we are apart.” Ben glanced down at her thigh. “Not that it matters in the long run, anyway. The binding eventually kills the bound.”

The only sound was the snapping of firewood and crickets in the thicket beyond.

“I’m sorry, what?”

Ben’s eye twitched. “One mate cannot destroy the other. Or ever leave them. Not without severe consequences to both. It encourages the bound to stay together—to not kill one other—by increasing their power. But…” Ben’s gaze drifted down into the flames. “It never lasts. It’s like two orbiting black holes—one will always consume the other, forming a supermassive black hole. Such is the nature of the Dark Side. Power will never want to be shared.”

“So a Darksider would rather die than share power, is what you’re saying.”

“Yes.”

“That’s… insane. Kriffing insane.”

“That’s precisely what happens: the increased power makes you insane. It makes you crave more and more. But it will never be enough.”

Vel.” The word slipped out of Rey’s mouth.

“Yes.” Ben nodded in understanding, almost sympathy. “And then I’ll consume you or you’ll consume me, which in turn will consume us both. Not that it matters to the Dark, since now it has its next generation of powerful Force-users. Darksiders.”

Rey gaped. “So the purpose is pregnancy.”

“…Yes.”

“Well, that’s not going to happen.” Rey rubbed the contraceptive implant in her bicep absentmindedly.

“I know.”

“Good.”

An awkwardness hung in the air, as thick as the smoke between them. They both went back to staring into the flames, not even caring if it blinded them.

*

They set out at first light.

Rey brought her rucksack, the brown leather scuffed with overuse. Inside it were rations bars, vacuum-sealed veg-meat and polystarch portions, freeze-fried bantha stew in foil packets, and two canteens of water. Her quarterstaff was slung over her back, sweat already dripping down and absorbing into her tunic.

Ben looked as cool as ever, even when wearing thick and heavy clothing. In all black, of course.

“I didn’t think to pack for a tropical climate.” He swung a vine out the way with a lazy lift of his hand.

“Vacation not shaping up to be everything you thought it would be?”

Rey needn’t even look at him—she could feel him roll his eyes.

The sun poured hazy beams through the leaves. As they walked side-by-side, they passed through pockets of pale yellow. There was a heaviness to the air; a dampness. It felt like the sky was going to open up at any second.

They walked and walked and walked.

The jungle had changed again. Where once it was vivid and oversaturated, the flora was now faded and sepia-toned, like a syringe had pulled out all the color. Rey plucked a leaf off as she passed a low-hanging branch.

“It wants us to turn back.”

Rey dropped the crumbled bits of leaf onto the jungle ground. “Why?”

Ben shrugged without stopping. There was a permeating silence again, the only sound the crunching leaves and twigs underneath their boots.

*

The light never shifted. What did change, little by little, was the color. It seeped out more and more, until almost everything was pale gold.

The sound of trickling finally reached their ears.

Water!

Rey ran past Ben, following the hypnotic sound. She followed it like a siren’s call.

The crinkle snap crunch of leaves and twigs under her boots as she ran. Everything was a blur of gold.

Rey stopped. Looked around. Reached out to the Force. Felt its silky tendrils. She grasped it, pulled on it, wrapping it around herself like a rope. Followed it down like an anchor.

Stones tumbled down the sides of an embankment.

Rey had nearly fallen down with them, but managed to catch her footing just in time. Glancing down, it was then that she was confronted with the most beautiful thing she had ever seen on this planet.

A stream.

Rey could feel Ben’s apprehension. His worry. But she was already knee-deep in the currents, cupping the clear water and splashing the grime and sweat off her face. She was ecstatic. She let her joy pour down the bond the way the water was pouring all over her.

Confusion. Dread.

Rey, where are you?!

I’m here.

Where is “here”?

Rey sent him a flash of the stream through the bond.

I can’t find you.

I’m not that far away. Rey rolled her eyes, hoping he could feel it. He was right behind her a few minutes ago. So dramatic, those Skywalkers.

Rey, it’s been hours.

Rey looked down at the rushing water. At her grinning reflection, all black and white and red. But she wasn't smiling.

*

Rey must have drank too much water, because her stomach was cramping. She felt like she was going to vomit it all up.

Everything hurt. Her arms. Her legs. Her muscles were sore, her head was pounding. Her skin was burning.

The jungle was spinning.

Ben.

It was dark now. There was no evening; no transition between day and night. One second it was light, the next there was darkness. The waning moon hung in the sky, its crescent reminding her of her implant.

Where was he?!

Ben.

A tingle. A prickle. Like the edge of a needle.

Somewhere over there.

As Rey pushed aside the spindly arms of a bush, she collapsed to her knees, her mouth gaping in horror.

The body of Ben Solo was seizing, his limbs locked and jerking, his eyes rolling back into his head as a white substance foamed out of his mouth. Angry red boils covered every exposed piece of flesh.

“Ben!” Rey heard herself screaming. “Ben! Ben!”

His name bounced upon the tree trunks, the vines, the leaves. Echoing.

Chapter Text

IV.

Rey had only felt like this once before.

When she was twelve, she’d had a fever that lasted four days before it broke. Even though she hadn’t had access to a doctor or even a thermometer, she’d known she’d caught a particular bad strain of the flu called the “Jakkuian Flu” from pamphlets she would sometimes find half-buried in the sands—the only remnants of relief workers after they had packed up their pop-up clinics and headed back to whatever core world they had come from. The leftover vials of medicine were always gone well before Rey had time to reach the empty tents. And the painkillers even before that, before the sands had even stopped shifting from their ship’s ascent.

When Rey woke up one morning too weary to get out of her hammock, she had pulled out a wrinkled pamphlet with a checklist of symptoms in a cheery orange font. Cold sweats. Burning skin. A fuzzy feeling and dull pressure in her head, like it was a balloon that was seconds away from popping. Aches that were bone deep, even deeper than when she would spend sunup to sundown inside a scavenged hulk of gleaming metal.

It spread to her chest. Bronchitis, according to another pamphlet. Her wet coughs echoed against the tinny metal walls of her AT-AT, so loud that she worried it would draw other predators to her weakness like vultures.

Sometimes she even thought she could hear them circling outside. She had barricaded the door the best she could, knowing she hadn’t the strength to swing her staff. It was the only time she had wished she had paired off with someone. A lover, or at least an ally. Someone who could look after her. Protect her. But knowing the kind who hung around the outpost, it would have been like baring her throat to a boar-wolf. She might as well have just opened the door at that point.

It was safer to be alone. Even if the side effect was loneliness.

She’d never had someone to care for her before. No one to bring her broth or make sure she was drinking enough water. No one to pull back up the threadbare blanket that would be kicked off time and time again. No one to smooth away damp tendrils of hair plastered upon her forehead. No one to tell her everything would be okay. In those four days, she had never felt more alone.

She wasn’t alone now.

Rey could feel a cloth dabbing at her forehead. It felt nice and cool, like it had been dipped in cold water. As she opened her eyes, her bleary vision adjusted, coming slowly into focus on the furrowed brow and dark eyes of Ben Solo.

She couldn’t see the walls of her AT-AT. She couldn’t feel the hammock on her back as she sank into pockets of air in between the ropes.

She was on the ground.

It was cold, hard, and slightly damp. The earthy smell filled her nose like smelling salts.

It brought her back down. Back to reality. Into solid arms.

For the first time, ever since she had come to this place, everything felt real.

The jungle loomed above her, still as surreal as ever, like a fever dream. And Rey knew fever dreams. She’d had plenty of them in those four days. And she vaguely remembered having one before the rough swipe of cold, wet fabric on her forehead.

She had seen her parents. Or who she had imagined as her parents. All she really remembered were disembodied elements, like soft pink lips smiling. Or the back of a head full of brown hair rustling in the wind. The fabric of a cream-colored trouser leg. Rough hands. Picking her up. Wrapped around a bottle.

The skin on those hands smoothed out, until they were as young and free of hard work as an aristocrat’s. They grew larger.

They reached out.

Shakily, hesitantly. Hopefully. Touching her own.

Then they were covered in leather. Reaching. Imploring.

Please.

The leather was off now. Rey could feel the skin of Ben’s hand as he accidentally touched the side of her face when he swiped down the cool fabric. A torn piece of his tunic.

And the way he was looking at her… maybe it wasn’t accidental, after all.

“You’re awake.”

Rey went to sit up, but before she could do so, she was being lifted off the ground. Into his arms. She didn’t even struggle. She knew she should, but she didn’t want to. She accepted it. She was so, so tired of being strong.

She opened the door.

*

The next time Rey opened her eyes, she was wrapped in black silk instead of the black material of Ben’s sleeves. The sheets were cool against her flushed skin, which was bare underneath the waves of silk. As she sat up, they glided down her skin, pooling into her lap.

Ben was sitting across the room, facing the bed. He was hunched forward, staring at her with a tuft of black waves covering half his face. His elbows were on his knees, his hands clasped in front of his mouth. His head was bowed, his eyes looking slightly up as they bore into her. The dim blue light of his bedchambers cast an even deeper shadow underneath his eyes, giving the appearance of tiredness. Maybe even worry.

How long had he been staring at her? Watching her sleep?

“Two hours. Maybe three.”

For the first time, Rey was glad he could read her thoughts. She was too tired to speak, her voice too hoarse from screaming.

What happened?

“When I came to, I found you next to me. You were having a seizure,” Ben explained as he lowered his hands from his mouth, though they remained clenched. “I assume I had one as well.”

It all came rushing back to her like a crashing tide. The stream. The sickness. The rising panic when she couldn't find him. The relief when she did. Then fear. Agony. His body, jerking and contorting. His body, an empty vessel. The white foam. Welts.

There weren’t any welts on his skin now.

“I still have a few. On my shoulder, my legs. But mostly they’ve seemed to heal already, at a rate I’ve never seen before.”

Could that be the increased strength of the… the binding?

“I believe so.” His eyes drifted down. Then, quieter: “I don’t know.”

Are you okay?

Ben’s eyes snapped back up. “Are you?”

I think so.

Ben continued to stare deeply into her. A few long seconds passed, heavy with the weight of something. Then he was rising from his seat and crossing the space between them.

The air shifted as he closed the distance. Sat on the edge of the cot next to her. Pulled her into his arms. She could feel every one of his breaths, his deep inhales and exhales lulling her like coasting on gentle waves. Her eyes fluttered close as her head sank onto his shoulder. His arms were an anchor. Safe.

She was safe.

It felt good. Not to be alone.

Ben began to slowly pull away. Rey was just about to protest, but then he stopped, leaving a scant few inches between them. Up close, she could see the warm caramel tones in his eyes. They flicked down. Over her face, her lips. Then back up again.

“You never have to be alone again.”

Rey swallowed. I don’t think we have much of a choice.

Ben’s eyes flicked down again, only lower. Past her lips. Past her bare breasts. Down to the sheet. Unseeing.

The few inches between them became an ocean.

“Maybe you’re right.”

He pulled away, facing out into the dim blue darkness. It was times like these that Rey wished she could read him as well as he could read her. Sometimes she thought she knew him better than she knew herself. Other times, like now, he was an enigma. As indecipherable as a dead language, meanings lost to time.

With a hesitant hand, Rey reached out. Placed it gently upon his shoulder.

He flinched.

Rey removed her hand, like he had burned her. Or she had burned him. I’m sorry.

Ben turned his head. Black waves swooped down across his face as he looked down at her. “It’s not you. It’s the welts.”

A few moments passed, then Rey reached out again. More certain this time, with more intent. There was no tremor as she placed her hand on the nape of his neck, spreading her fingers to catch wisps of silky waves.

Ben’s eyes fell closed.

Rey continued her stroking, not realizing that she was drifting closer—only that he looked so peaceful, so content. Just to sit here with her, her hand tangled in his hair, in the blue-black quiet.

Without quite knowing how, her lips were upon his. It was gravitational. Natural.

They pressed lightly, with only the slightest opening so that the puffy pink flesh could slot against the other. His lips were soft. Plush. Yielding.

It felt like a first kiss.

And it was, in a way. Their first real one.

It was lovely. Sweet. Full of promises neither of them believed they would break. And melancholic, because they knew life had a way of breaking them for you.

Ben was the first to pull away. There was something shining in the honey swirls of his dark eyes, something soft and sad. But Rey didn’t see it. Her eyes were still closed.

Large hands gently spanned the sides of her head, over her mussed hair. The warmth of his skin permeated like a shot of whiskey, warm and fuzzy as it slid down to her stomach. Tension eased out of her shoulders, her back. Hard lines became soft, blurry, as she let his warmth sink into her. She felt herself sway.

Gravity brought her back to him. As she suspected it always would. Bond or no bond, binding or no binding.

His lips drifted over hers, barely touching. Feather-light. Dancing.

Then they were pressing harder, the pressure increasing until his mouth covered hers completely. His lips parted wider, the tip of his tongue darting out against her lips, asking, entreating.

Rey opened for him. As she suspected she always would. Dark side or not, wrong side or right. This felt right.

His tongue entered her mouth, sliding over her own, thick and heavy and hot. Stroking slowly. They tangled together as one of Ben’s hands slid to the back of her head. Another moved down, his fingertips drifting across the side of her breast. As the kiss grew more intense, his hand gripped her hair, pulling it slightly as his other hand cusped the fleshy mound of her breast. His thumb swiped over the nipple, which was already pebbled in the cold recycled air of his Upsilon.

Rey moaned into his mouth. A wanton sound that seemed to spur him on, for she found herself being lowered onto her back seconds later, with wetness starting to pool down below.

Ben broke the kiss, his chest heaving slightly as he stared down at her. Then his hands were sliding down her skin, down to her hips. Worshipping, possessive. Pulling the last of the silk sheet off.

His hands gripped the soft flesh of her thighs, careful to avoid the red blotches of remaining welts that sporadically dotted her otherwise creamy skin. He pulled them open wider.

His head dipped low, but his eyes never left hers. His gaze was hooded, sinking into her as he settled in between her thighs, which were spread out before him, beckoning. Anticipating.

His eyes grew even darker. They were so intense that she closed her own. When she opened them again, all she could see was his mop of black waves as his plush lips gently latched onto the swollen lips of her cunt.

Another first kiss.

Then his tongue jutted out, thrusting in, dipping into her wetness like a quill in ink, before swiping in a broad stroke up her slit, long and flat, to the bundle of nerves at the top.

Rey jolted.

Ben moved one hand up, pressing down upon her stomach. It spanned large and hot across her skin, which was quivering with every erratic breath she drew in. He did it again, a harder swipe of the tip of his tongue on her clit. Rey’s elbows gave out. She lay back down on the rumbled silk, staring up at the shiny black tiles of the ceiling.

The hand that was still gripping her thigh stroked her flesh before coming to her slit. Rey held her breath as one long, thick digit penetrated her. He withdrew it slowly, then jammed it back in quickly, forcefully. He repeated this a few times before adding another finger. Slide out, thrust in. Out, in.

She grew even wetter, though she wasn’t sure how that was possible. The squishy sounds that were coming out of her were filthy. Obscene. It filled the quiet of his bedchambers, along with her gasping breaths and escaping moans.

One hand found its way to his hair, her fingers weaving through his waves, grasping. Her nails scratched his scalp, and he seemed to like it, for now his lips and tongue and hands were increasing their pressure and speed.

Pings were shooting from her core, jolting out into her abdomen and thighs like a frayed live wire. Over and over.

Swipe. Flick. Suck. Thrust. Squish. Slide. Thrust. Curl. Out. In. Again. Almost… almost. Ping. Ping. Ping.

Pleasure hovering outside her, above her. Silky strands sliding underneath her palm. Panting. Almost.

Her skin felt hot and tight. She was so wet, she was sure she was drenching the sheets. Her thighs clenched, caging his head in as he consumed her.

Her muscles quivered. The pleasure was so close, yet so far. Her abdomen rose, trying to meet it. Ben’s hand pushed her back down.

Thrust. Ping. Curl. Ping. Flick. Ping. Suck. Ping. Flick. Ping. Flick. Ping. Flick. Ping. Thrust. Ping. Thrust. Ping. Thrust. Ping. Curl. Almost. Almost. Almost. Don’t stop.

I have no intention to.

Even in her mind, his voice was low, husky. It rumbled through her core like thunder.

Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping.

I’ll never stop. I’ll never let you go. You’re mine. You’ve always been mine. From the very start.

Ping. Ping. Ping.

From Takodana. From the woods where I found you.

Ping. Ping.

Like a sweet present, dropped right into my lap from the Force.

Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping.

Oh, what I wanted to do to you. What I WILL do to you.

The pleasure jolted into her like a bolt of lightning. White hot, blinding. It short-circuited her brain. All she could see, all she could feel was Ben.

What we will do to each other.

*

Afterwards, Ben held her.

She had tried to return the favor. Quid pro quo was in her nature as a former scavenger. She even thought maybe it could lead to sex, or something even more dangerous, like making love. It would be the first time without the influence of the Dark, and it both terrified and excited her. But he had stopped her fumbling on the button and zipper of his trousers, covering her still-shaking hand with his own.

“I’m still… recovering. From earlier.”

And so he had taken off the rest of his clothes, climbing into bed with her, pulling her close. Her back was flush against him, the entire length of his massive body pressed against her as his legs tangled with hers. His arm wrapped around her. She felt safe. Protected. Cared for. Maybe even loved.

Rey didn’t know how long they had lain there. There was no window. No light, other than the blue bulbs in the ceiling. There was only them, cocooned in smooth black silk and shiny black tiles on a ship that might never leave the ground again.

“It might.”

Rey’s eyes were half-closed, fluttering with every deep inhale and exhale of Ben’s chest behind her. When she heard the rumble of his deep voice, her eyes opened more, but only slightly.

“Hmm?”

“We might be able to get out of here.”

Rey turned around, facing him. His arms adjusted, but remained wrapped around her body. “What do you mean?”

Ben licked his lips. “I think there’s something. In the jungle.”

“Yeah.” Rey rolled her eyes. “A Sith pyramid, crazy green aliens, flora that changes like a bad spice trip, and madness. Sheer kriffing madness.”

“It had wanted us to turn back. I think… I think we were getting close to something.”

Rey shifted. “Like what?”

“That’s what I want to find out.” Ben swallowed. “I’d prefer you not to go, but…”

Rey’s eyes drifted down. She watched a vein pulsating in his neck. His heartbeat. It seemed to sync with her own. “…I don’t have much of a choice.”

“There’s always a choice.” Ben said this with such intensity, it felt as if he was talking about more than going back into the jungle.

Rey’s eyes flitted away from his pulse, locking onto his dark pupils like a magnet. “I’ll go with you.” Not just because I have to.

"I’ll keep you safe.” It was a vow.

“I know.” She kissed him gently. “I know.”

A few moments passed in comfortable silence as Ben stroked Rey’s hair, weaving his fingers into her strands, tracing patterns like sand in a zen garden.

“Did I ever tell you how I came to find you?”

“You were tracking me.”

“Yes. But do you know how?”

Rey’s eyebrows furrowed. “A tip?”

Ben shook his head slowly, his eyes still locked on hers.

“The whispers? The same ones I heard?”

Another shake of his head. His hand drifted around, over her cheekbone.

“I was sitting in a meeting on Coruscant. Hux was going on about something or other, while everyone else was mindlessly agreeing with him. I could feel them looking at me, and I knew they would mindlessly agree with anything I had to say, too. I could tell them I was going to blow up their planet tomorrow, and they would bow and thank me for it.”

Rey frowned. Ben’s thumb drifted to her bottom lip.

“I began to meditate. I felt the Force. I was trying to calm down, gain insight. Or maybe just be somewhere else for a while. Someone else.”

His eyes lifted back to hers.

“And then I saw these flickers of light on the wall. At first I thought it was coming from one of the windows, until I realized there were no windows.” Ben’s fingertips lightly trailed down her neck, to the dip above her collarbone. His eyes followed their path. “It was like a prism. It reflected your light.”

“So you followed it?”

“I followed it.” His eyes flicked back to hers. “And it led me right to you. You were standing there, in the middle of a busy street, surrounded by so much life, so much color, and yet all I could see was you.”

Rey’s breath caught.

“The Force led me to you, Rey. It led us here. We were meant to be here. This was meant to happen to us.”

“But…” Rey shook her head. “It was the Dark Side. I was drawn to the idea of the holocron. The power it could provide. The Dark whispered to me.”

“And the Light whispered to me.”

There were no more words. Nothing but soft lips and fingertips. And a quiet that was heavy with the weight of so much more than either was willing to say.

*

When they set out into the jungle this time, they made certain they would never be far from one another. A rope was cinched onto their belts, with about six feet of slack between them.

Even though the sun was shining brightly, it was cold. The wind carried the kind of chill that permeated bone marrow. Ben had given Rey one of his long-sleeve shirts before they had departed with the early morning light. She swam in the fabric, wrapping the sleeves around her fists, taking comfort in the spicy smell that lingered in the fibers.

As they walked deeper in, it grew colder and colder. The leaves started to have a frost on them. Rey could see her breath puffing out in little clouds.

Snowflakes began falling softly down. They gathered in the strands of Ben’s raven locks like stars. Rey held a hand out, then watched the cold white clumps dissolve on her skin.

The snow grew thicker. Heavier. It fell faster. It crunched underneath their boots.

The bright whiteness was jarring against the lush green verdure to the point of being uncomfortable. It was unnatural. Such extremes could not—should not—co-exist.

“It’s trying to drive us out again.”

“Well, it’s working.” Rey shivered. “I think we should turn back. I don’t think we’ll find anything out here.”

Their boots continued to crunch upon the snow, which glittered in the sunlight.

*

It stopped snowing.

It grew less cold. Then warmer. And warmer. The snow began to melt, leaving large puddles everywhere. They turned the dirt to mud. The mud clung to their boots, splashed up onto their trousers. It grew so thick, it began to hold them back, like it wanted to suck them down.

The sun continued to beat down in merciless waves.

Rey began to sweat. Looking over at Ben, she could see the beads of sweat dripping down the side of face. Off the tip of his nose.

The water evaporated.

It rose up into the atmosphere like reverse rain. Drops like diamonds glittering in the light.

Underneath their boots, the dirt became dry again. Brittle. It crumbled and cracked. The color grew duller and duller, the rich brown turning paler and paler until it was yellow.

Sand.

Small dunes began forming in between jutting tree roots like an hourglass. It drifted across the jungle floor.

Whispers.

Rey. Sweetheart.

Rey whipped around. Far off in the distance, in the direction of where they came, were two figures. They waved widely and slowly at her.

Humanoids. No—humans.

They were too far away for Rey to see any defining features. But they looked… they looked like…

“Mum? Dad?”

Rey began rushing towards them, pulling on the rope.

“Rey, no!” Ben shouted. “It’s not real!” His arms grabbed her from behind, lifting her slightly off the ground.

Rey struggled desperately. Her parents! They had come back for her!

“Rey.” Ben swung her around to face him. He lowered his head as his arms roughly held her shoulders in place. “It’ll do anything to get us to turn back. We need to stay the course.”

Rey closed her eyes, her heart pounding, her chest heaving. Tears spilled from underneath her eyelids. She reached for the calmness of the Force, sinking into its still waters as Ben’s arms kept her from drowning.

When everything went quiet again, she looked back, but the figures had disappeared into the thicket, into the sand and snow, as much of a lie here as everything else.

*

Over there, glinting in the sun.

Something gray shimmering in between green.

Another mirage? Another trick? Or...

Metal.

It was hard to tell, with vines covering over half of it, but it looked like a ship.

A very old ship.

As it loomed into view, Rey could see how much it was dented and rusted, with fading remnants of chipped paint and broken lights. It was wedged up on an angle, tree trunks snapped and lying on the ground, or bent around it, continuing to grow despite the hardship.

It hadn’t been a good landing, that was for sure.

“A Jedi cruiser. Used during the New Sith Wars.”

Rey reached out, touching a sliver of cool metal. “What year do you think this is?”

Ben cocked his head. “1250 BBY, approximately. During the rise of Dark Lord Belia Darzu.” He looked over at her. “A woman. Incredibly powerful. One of the most powerful alchemists—one of the most powerful Dark Lords—in all of Sith history.”

“What do you think it’s doing all the way out here?”

“Same as us.” He shrugged. “Looking for something.”

Ben ignited his lightsaber, slicing through the vines wrapped around the hatch. Rey pressed the button next to it, watching as the ramp descended. It was lopsided and didn’t reach the ground, but still they managed to climb into the ship.

“We might be able to use the generator.” Rey stepped over random debris as she ventured further into the dark belly of the ship.

Ben pulled out an emergency glow-stick from the rucksack, snapping it in two. Turquoise light illuminated the looming metal, snagging on the mangled parts to create grotesque shadows. “If it still works. If not, we might be able to salvage some parts. And then we can get off this kriffing planet.”

“Then what?” She glanced back at him as she scanned the space.

“Then you come back to the First Order. With me.”

“Or you come back to the Resistance.”

“That’s never going to happen, Rey. We both know that.”

“Then… I suppose we go our separate ways. On opposite sides,” she mumbled. “As always.”

The rope tugged as Ben stopped. “Did you not understand anything about the Mirji Hatakûria?”

Rey rolled her eyes. “Of course I did.”

“No.” Ben puffed out his lips, as if he was chewing on something. “I don’t think you did. This binding isn’t limited to the planet, Rey. It will follow us. There’s no limit to its power. Nowhere in the galaxy we can go to break it. It’s until death.”

“There must be a way. There has to be.”

Ben shook his head slowly. “Even if the universe ended… even if our galaxy was torn apart by increased gravity, colliding into other stars or universes, collapsing in on itself… even if everything moved from order to disorder, and nothing made sense anymore, and there was nothing left but an endless void… this bond would still exist. Because the Force will always exist.”

A few moments passed in the turquoise glow as they stared at the light and shadows upon each other’s faces.

“So what happens after we leave? If we can even leave?”

Ben visibly swallowed. His left eye twitched. Then he was lifting his arm, reaching out.

Rey looked down, her lips falling open.

“Join me.”

Rey’s eyes snapped back up.

Please.

Chapter Text

V.

 

While on base one cold, clear night, Rey had seen something rare. So rare, it was actually the first of its kind to be discovered.

An interstellar comet. One not bound to an elliptical orbit around the sun of a particular solar system.

As a pleasant distraction from ship repairs and bad odds, most of the Resistance had gathered outside to watch this rare astronomical event that could only be seen clearly from a few planets in the Outer Rim. It would eventually pass worlds in the Mid Rim, growing brighter as it moved faster and faster, until it swooped around Naboo’s sun and drifted back into the coldness of space, not to know warmth again until another 3,722 years.

Rey had sat outside with the rest of her comrades, on the stone landings of Yavin IV’s Great Temple, to watch the comet streak brightly across the Prussian blue sky.

A flask of Corellian whiskey was handed to her. It seemed like most were using it as an excuse for a party, which she couldn’t really blame them for, as they didn’t have much of a reason to celebrate lately. Others used it as a romantic setting, such as Poe and Kaydel, with the comet’s tail as mood lighting. Even Finn had stared at Rose instead of the sky, her “wow”s ascending into the atmosphere with tiny breathy clouds.

There was something about looking up at the sky that made Rey feel lonely. She may have been surrounded by people, by friends and comrades, but she was just as alone as when she would stargaze and ship-watch from the top of her downed AT-AT. She sat a little ways off from them all, both within and without. But the warmth of the whiskey sliding down to her stomach while witnessing something so rare and bright and beautiful had kept her from feeling too melancholic.

The Comet Amidala once had a different name—a series of numbers and letters that did not even come close to adequately describing the beauty of it. But Amidala—that fit. Named after Padmé Amidala Naberrie as a sign of respect and remembrance, who Rey had known was once a great queen and senator; a leading figure of peace and diplomacy. What Rey hadn't known was that she had also been Leia’s mother. At least, not until that night. Not until the General had sat down beside her on the cold stone, her smile warming her as much as the whiskey. It had occurred to Rey then, that in some ways, it was the closest Leia would ever come to her mother.

Rey had tried not to think about many things that night. Like the fact that someone like Padmé—someone so kind and compassionate, so full of democratic ideals—was also related to someone else. She tried not to think of dark eyes, like the ones Leia had. The ones Leia spoke of, in her mother, only seen in portraits and holograms. The dark eyes that seemed to be a Naberrie family trait. She also tried not to think of the irony that the very stone she was sitting on, the pyramid that housed the Resistance and stood for every ideal Padmé and Leia believed in, was originally built by the Massassi to worship a Sith Lord.

Sometimes it felt like Rey’s life was full of nothing but Sith pyramids.

The Comet Amidala wasn’t the only rare thing that Rey would see in her lifetime. There was also the hand of Padmé’s grandson, the most powerful man in the entire galaxy, being offered to her not once but twice. Three times, if his offer to train her had meant the same thing it meant in the Throne Room. As it meant now. Equality. Companionship. And something else. Something more. More than their Force bond, more than the Dark Side binding, because those things had been thrust upon them. What he was offering was a choice. To choose to be by his side, as… as…

“My Empress.”

Ben’s hand was still outstretched in the distance between them. Or was this Kylo? What was being asked of her, what was wanted, came from Kylo Ren. But the hand was bare, as were his feelings, his mind open to her completely. In that moment, there was no wall, no carefully-crafted mental shield that she knew was so natural to him, it was just like breathing. When Rey’s defenses were down, it was a mistake, or a failing. But when his were down, it was a conscious decision. One she knew he didn’t make without careful consideration. Without knowing the risks.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just kill her?

“I don’t want to kill you. I’ve never wanted to kill you.”

“Could have fooled me.”

A muscle in Kylo’s jaw twitched. “And have you never wanted to kill me?” He shuffled closer to her, his eyes boring into her own as he invaded her space. “Innocent little Jedi that you are?”

Rey glared. “That’s different.”

“How?”

“I’m not part of a murderous regime, intent on destroying all peace in the galaxy.”

“Aren’t you?”

Rey rolled her eyes, refusing to take the bait. She grabbed the glow-stick from him, then turned around to continue her descent into the dark belly of the ship, towards where she hoped was the engineering bay.

A hard yank on the rope cinched to her belt. Rey stumbled backwards, a second of panic shooting in her veins before she landed against the hard muscle of Kylo’s chest. His arms wrapped around her, but Rey got the feeling it wasn’t only to steady her. It felt… dominating. Possessive.

“You’re mine, Little Jedi. Or have you forgotten?” Kylo murmured into her ear, blowing strands of her hair as a shiver ran down her spine. She wished she could say it was out of fear or disgust, but she’d be lying to herself.

“Yes…” A kiss to her neck. “You would be.” Another kiss, further down, on the juncture between her neck and shoulder. Another shiver. “But then again, you’ve always been very good at lying to yourself, haven’t you?”

“Not anymore.” Her voice wasn’t breathy. It wasn’t.

“Hmmm.” She could feel the rumble deep in his chest, against her back, reverberating through her body, down to her core. Like a string he could control.

“We need to look for the generator. You’re getting distracted.”

I’m getting distracted?” A hand suddenly plunged into her trousers. A long finger trailed over the crotch of her panties, which Rey knew was already embarrassingly damp.

“The generator, Kylo. To get off this planet. Remember?”

“I remember lots of things, Rey.” His finger traced along the seam of her sex, up and down, then trailed up to the hem. “Like how you feel underneath me. How I feel inside you. How much you love being filled with my cum.”

“Kylo—“

A finger suddenly thrust into her wetness. Her muscles clamped around it traitorously.

“So wet.” He murmured against her neck. “Always so ready for me.” Teeth scraped against her skin as he pulled his finger out, then thrust inside again, harder, deeper. A thumb brushed against her clit.

Rey jolted, but there was nowhere to go. His arms were a vice.

“So lonely,” he continued, adding another finger. “So afraid of what you could be.” In, out. “Hiding yourself away. Denying yourself.” In, out. “Like a good little girl, a good little Jedi.” In, out, in. “The Resistance puppet, brought out like a sideshow attraction.” Out, in, swipe. “Tell me…” Flick. “Did they ever fear you? Look at you as if you were a thing?”

“No,” Rey managed to breathe out, her chest heaving. “They were… are… my friends.”

“Then why did you leave?”

“I didn’t.”

“You did.”

The sounds of their erratic breathing echoed in the chamber of the ship, in what was possibly the Main Hold. Rey could feel Kylo’s erection jutting out behind her as she leaned backwards, writhing against him.

“We’ve… been through this… before.”

“Ah, yes.” Kylo chucked mirthlessly. “We keep going round and round.” He punctuated this by circling her clit. “And round. And yet—“

“And yet?”

“We always end up back here.” Kylo’s other arm, the one that was wrapped against her midsection, came up to grasp her jaw, turning her face towards him. “The Force has brought us together, Rey. Who are you to deny its will?”

“There’s another way.” Rey panted into his mouth as he continued his thrusting. “We can… we can leave together. The First Order… the Resistance…”

Kylo stopped. He slid his fingers out. “And leave what I’ve worked years for? Everything I’ve given up…” He shook his head. “It would all be for nothing.”

Rey felt like she had been thrown into the cold waters of Ahch-To. She whipped around, finally freeing herself of Kylo’s hold. “Like killing your father.”

“I’ve put that behind me. I thought you did, too.”

“How could I possibly put that behind me? How could I possibly forget—”

“And yet, you let me fuck you.”

Rey’s chest was still heaving, her anger jumping into the unreleased energy from Kylo’s starting and stopping. “I didn't have a choice!”

Kylo’s eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. A muscle in his jaw twitched. “So last night wasn’t a choice, then?”

“That was different.”

“How?” Kylo implored. “Say it. I can hear you thinking it. Say it.”

“Because… because it was Ben.”

“Ben Solo doesn’t exist anymore. You’ve never known him.”

“He does. And he still has a mother who cares about—“

A brilliant red flash suddenly hissed in the darkness. Kylo’s lightsaber.

“Let me make myself clear,” he hissed right along it. “I am not going back to the Resistance.”

Rey glared. She wasn’t in the least bit threatened. She might not have a lightsaber, but she was stronger with the Force. She could feel it.

She stepped closer, into his space. So close that the sparks from the lightsaber were millimeters away from the threads of her sleeves. “I’m not afraid of you.”

“Maybe you should be.”

“You’re the one who’s afraid,” she continued. “Afraid of being Ben Solo again. Afraid of facing all the things you’ve done. All the people you’ve hurt.” Her voice grew softer as she switched tactics. “You could go back. It’s never too late. Leia would be happy to have her son back.”

Kylo shook his head slowly. Disappointedly. “Still such a child. Still believing in fairy tales.”

“You could help bring peace and order to the galaxy by restoring a republic, and the Senate to—“

“You sound like a walking propaganda holo,” Kylo sneered. “Are you even capable of thinking for yourself?”

Rey bristled. “Of course I am.”

“And do you know what would happen to me, if I were to go back with you?” He cocked his head. “Just to entertain this little fantasy of yours for a moment.”

“You could meet with leadership, with Leia and Commander D’acy and—“

“I’d be put in a cell. Shackled with Force-suppressing chains, left to rot until the inevitable death sentence is handed down.”

“No.” Rey shook her head. “No, it doesn’t have to be that way…”

“Still so naive. That’s how democracy works, Rey. Not that a true democracy could ever exist, because the voice of the people will always cease to matter to those above them. Power corrupts everyone.”

“Including you.”

Kylo turned off the lightsaber, plunging the ship back into darkness. Only the slight turquoise glow of the emergency glow-stick remained, still clenched in Rey’s hand.

“I’m not perfect. I’ve never claimed to be, unlike your precious leaders. But I’m trying to bring order to the galaxy. And if that means taking the reins, bypassing those who would rather serve themselves than those who’ve elected them, then so be it.”

“I can’t believe you’re justifying a dictatorship.”

“Well, if it works.”

A ripple in the Force. Echoes of another.

“Does it?” Rey stepped forward. “Then tell me—why do you need me?”

Kylo stared at Rey, puffing out his mouth. His black waves moved as he shook his head gently. “I don’t. I don’t need you.”

Rey looked down.

“I want you.”

Rey looked back up.

Kylo stepped closer. “And you want me, too. And if you were really serious about saving the galaxy, then why haven’t you considered doing it from the inside?”

“The inside of what? A cell? Or your bedchambers?” Rey laughed. “Or aren't they the same thing?”

Something flickered in Kylo’s eyes. Something resembling pain, like a wounded animal. “You’d have free reign. Freedom to come and go as you pleased, investing in whatever cause you deemed worthy. A mother to the people.”

“And a mother to your children too, I suppose?”

Kylo was so still, Rey wondered if he was breathing.

“The Empire would need an heir.” His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed thickly. “Eventually.”

“Eventually,” Rey echoed. She ignored the fluttering that swooped low in her stomach. No, she told herself. I don’t want that.

Kylo’s hand reached out, gently pushing away a strand of hair that had clung to her sweaty cheek. His eyes bore into her, knowing. “But you do.”

*

They found the generator.

It was a hunk of junk, along with everything else on the ship, but it looked similar enough in its mechanisms and parts that Rey believed it could be useful. Enough to get one of their ships off the ground, she couldn’t say. But the scavenger in her was hopeful.

And if it does work? A voice whispered in her mind. Whose ship will it go on?

After they had found the engineering bay, they had searched through the rest of the cold, ancient machinery, trying to see if anything else could be of value. Mostly everything was either too old or too damaged. Even if her fingers did their familiar itch.

They had floated the massive generator in between them as they trudged through the jungle. It was the perfect excuse not to talk. There was nothing more that could be said, anyway. As always, despite their steps towards one another, they had come to an impasse. All Kylo’s talk of fate, of coming together, and yet he failed to see the circle had no end. If they were destined to meet, then they were just as destined to part. Over and over in an endless orbit. Just like the Comet Amidala.

As they made their way back to the clearing, they didn’t see anymore sand or snow or dead parents. Or at least, Rey didn’t. She wondered if Kylo had seen Han. If he had, he didn’t said anything.

By the time they reached their respective ships, it was nightfall.

There was a loaded pause as their ramps descended. The generator was on the ground in between them.

“You can take it,” Kylo said. The first words to her in what felt like hours. And it could have very well been.

“I’m surprised you trust me.”

“I don’t,” he admitted. “But you’re better with machinery.”

Rey smiled, despite herself. “Thank you.”

Kylo glanced over her shoulder, at the Falcon. “Besides, you won’t be able to get off the ground tonight.”

“And what if I did?”

His eyes snapped back to hers. “I would have thought you learned your lesson last time.”

“How can you be certain the effects of the binding aren’t relegated to the planet?”

A whoosh of air expelled from Kylo’s nose in an aggravated sigh. “Because I’ve read about it before. Why do you find it so hard to believe me?”

“Because you’d say anything,” Rey said. “To get me to stay with you.”

Rey watched as Kylo swallowed thickly, grimacing.

“No, I wouldn’t. Not like that.”

The hurt was back. Or maybe it had never left. Maybe it was like an injury he just learned to live with, along with all the others.

*

Rey was weary to the bone.

Her muscles were so sore, her mind so out of sorts, that she excused herself taking a water shower rather than using the sonic setting. As she stripped out of her dirty and sweat-stained clothes, steam fogged up the small refresher. It felt as comforting as a warm blanket, especially as the nights seemed to grow colder and colder. Rey wondered if it was the Dark Side trying to get her to seek body heat in Ben, or if the region was entering a cold season. She’d only been stranded for six days, and yet the way time was distorted here, it could have very well been much longer.

The metal of the ship held onto the cold. The back-up generator was no longer hooked up to heat parts of the ship; only to a few lights and the water heater now, and only part of the time. She couldn’t afford to waste any more power. She’d rather pile on all her clothes and wrap her hands around cups of caf.

As Rey stepped under the nozzle, she relished in the hot water pelting down upon her skin as the heat seeped into her muscles. She quickly washed herself, then did something selfish, something she would usually never do: she leaned against the tile, letting the water run and run and run.

*

The last thing Rey remembered was heat.

She hadn’t remembered drying off, or pulling on sleep clothes, or making her way to the Captain’s Quarters. She hadn’t remembered lifting the blankets and climbing into bed, nor did she recall closing her eyes.

When she opened them, she found herself in Ben’s bed. It happened this way every night, so that wasn’t what surprised her. No, what was shocking was that she didn’t usually black out before she went to sleep.

The first thing Rey felt upon waking was heat.

Ben’s skin always ran hot. But now it was also covered in beads of sweat, his muscles contracting as he thrusted hard and deep inside her.

Rey was on her stomach like a slithering snake upon black sands of silk. Ben was flush against her, his massive body covering her own as one arm lifted her bum to slide his cock inside. The hand underneath her flicked her clit as the other tightened around her neck.

So this was Kylo, then.

The cot was squeaking rhythmically, back and forth with every hot slide in and out.

The head of his cock kept hitting something delicious at this angle. He pulled her bum up even higher. Her thighs were smeared in her slick wetness.

As Kylo’s fingers pinched the side of her neck, Rey saw spots. Everything felt fuzzy and hyperreal at the same time. His cock kept pummeling her with abandon. In and out and in and out and in and out and in.

She had never felt him this deeply before. She had never felt more.

You’re mine. He growled in her mind. You’re going back with me. Not to the Resistance. Not to FN-2187 or the pilot. My ship. My bedchambers.

So you can lock me up like a plaything? Dress me up like a doll?

Make no mistake, Little Jedi. In, out, in, out. Part of me wants to lock you up. A bigger part than you realize. So maybe you shouldn’t. Fucking. Tempt me.

A particularly hard thrust in, jabbing her cervix. More pain than pleasure.

Maybe you shouldn’t threaten me, Kylo. Rey pushed back against him as he thrust in. You have no idea what I’m capable of.

Who said anything about a threat? He removed his hand from around her throat, only to twist it in her still-wet hair, forcing her head back. That’s a promise.

As he fucked her into the cot, the rhythmic squeak squeak squeak of the mattress filled the room, along with his grunts and growls. Suddenly Rey felt something sharp and dull piercing down on her shoulder.

He had bitten her. Hard.

She felt the throbbing imprint of his teeth, even after he started sucking on the juncture between her shoulder and neck, pulling that invisible string that led straight to her cunt, which fluttered around his cock as more wetness slicked out.

His thrusts becomes so fast, so wild, that she couldn't keep up, so she stopped trying. It was only when she felt the sudden flood of hot cum inside her that she realized it was all over. And for the second time that day, she hadn’t come.

*

There was no softness, this time. No gentle caresses and whispers underneath the blue glow of his bedchambers. The light felt harsh in a way she hadn’t seen before.

Kylo got up the second he came back down. Rey turned her head, watching his long, pale back as he padded across the small space, shoving on a pair of soft black trousers that had been strewn on the cold tiled floor.

He didn’t turn back around. “I think you should go.”

Rey’s eyebrows furrowed. What?

“What?”

“You heard me, Rey.” Softer now, but still just as harsh.

Rey sat up ungracefully. “Excuse me?”

His back told her nothing. Nothing except a constellation of moles connected by fingernail scratches, moving with every deep breath in and out.

“I’m tired,” he eventually said. It was in a strange voice. Strangled. Held back. “I want to go to sleep.”

Rey continued to watch him, incomprehensibly. Usually they slept together, afterwards. Not the first night, but every night thereafter. It had become comforting. A habit. And Rey was a creature of habit, no matter how quickly the habits were formed.

“I’ll sleep with you.”

“Rey,” he growled. “Get out.”

Rey bristled. Pulled back the sheet. Began pulling on her own clothes strewn around the space as angrily as she could, even though he couldn’t see it. But she knew he could feel it. It pulsed off her in waves.

He wanted her out? Fine. She would go so far out, out into the atmosphere with the generator she was going to spend all day fixing, that he would never see her again.

She pushed past him, shoving his shoulder as she made for the door.

But then she was being yanked back. Pulled into his orbit.

“We leave together,” he hissed. His eyes were blacker than she had ever seen them. He stared her down, unblinking.

Rey looked down at his hand as it roughly constricted around her forearm. His knuckles were white. It was the roughest he’d ever been with her, in the cold reality of the after

“Like I said,” Rey murmured, trailing her free hand down the side of his face, smiling sweetly. Saccharinely. “Maybe you shouldn’t threaten me.”

A hard shove with the Force. 

Kylo Ren, across the room, slumped over. A trail of blood down the wall.

Chapter Text

VI.

Xaz. Yes.

The Great Kylo Ren—Dark Side Warrior, Master of the Knights of Ren, Supreme Leader of the First Order—was collapsed upon the ground, unconscious and unmoving. A trail of blood glowed against the gleaming black tile of the Upsilon’s bedchambers.

It had been so easy. Too easy.

Mazo skystas. Mazo Katsofirse. So weak. So pathetic.

Rey was stronger. More powerful. Even without the Force. She had lived her life in poverty, having to fight for every scrap. Not like an aristocrat in a glass and chrome tower, never wanting for anything. She was a fighter. A survivor. She was the one who deserved to call the shots; to have the people listen to her. She knew what it was really like out there, as one of them, having seen slavery and flesh traders and all kinds of injustice and villainy. Having known hardship. Having gone hungry and thirsty, sometimes for days on end. Unlike Prince Solo, who had probably been served all his meals on silver platters by servant droids. Who threw away food like it was nothing.

Who treated her as if she was nothing.

That was his mistake. It would be his last. She would show him just what she could do—what she was capable of. He would never dare underestimate her again. He will bow down, on his hands and knees, and proclaim—

“Yes…” Kylo’s voice cut though the surge of power spidering hot though her veins. “Yes. My Empress… Rey…”

A icy chill went through her. She shivered, all the heat of her anger seeping out, leaving her feeling cold. Empty. Hollow.

“Ben?” Rey blinked at the figure struggling to get up off the floor. Then she was rushing forward, grabbing a hold of his arm. “Oh kriff, Ben, I’m so—I don’t know what came over me…”

Ben sat on the edge of the cot, holding a hand to the back of his head. When he pulled it away, his fingertips were spotted bright red.

Rey grimaced. She had hurt others before, sure. But nobody who didn’t deserve it. And Ben—well, okay, maybe he deserved it, but she still felt guilty about it. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

Ben didn’t answer. Instead, he lifted a hand to the nightstand, the cabinet sliding open. A first aid kit floated over, emblemed with the First Order insignia, landing on the rumpled sheets next to him. Rey smacked his hand away to open the kit herself, pulling out one of the bacta patches, ripping the paper off with her teeth. As she gently placed the goopy bandage on the back of his head, she carefully parted his hair, the black waves matted with blood that looked just as dark in the dim light.

Ben hissed.

“Oh, don’t be a baby.” Rey suppressed a laugh at his answering glare before sobering. She sat down next to him. “I really am, you know. Sorry.”

“I—“ A long moment passed. “I’m not.” He shook his head, then winced. “I meant everything I said.”

Rey’s body tensed. Her eyes narrowed. “Excuse me?”

“You’re not leaving without me, Rey. You’re going to the First Order. To my flagship, the Ascendancy. Even if I have to handcuff you and drag you there.”

Rey glared. “Maybe I’ll handcuff you and bring you to the Resistance. To your mother.”

Ben winced again, though this time, it wasn’t due to his head injury. “You may have the advantage right now, but you don’t have Force-suppressing handcuffs.”

“And you do?”

“Of course I do.”

Rey rose an eyebrow. “Then why haven't I seen them?”

“I hadn’t needed them before.” Ben shrugged. “You always did exactly as I wanted.”

Rey wasn’t sure what he meant by that, and she wasn’t entirely certain she wanted to. “I’m surprised you didn’t handcuff me to the metal frame as I was sleeping, then. Or brought them out during.”

Heat flushed upon Ben’s otherwise pale face as he suddenly became very interested in switching his bacta patch. Rey tried her best not to smirk, but she was sure he could feel it.

“Like I said…” He looked back up, his eyes boring darkly into Rey’s as he held the fresh bandage to the back of his head. “You always did exactly as I wanted.”

“Except join you.”

His eyes narrowed. “That will happen. I promise you that.”

“Careful, Kylo. I already Force-shoved you once today. Did you want another head injury?”

A stare-down between them, just like old times. Suddenly a flash of images flooded her mind. Rey, writing underneath him, naked, flushed, sweaty, her eyes screwed shut, biting her lips, her mouth falling open, begging for him to fuck her, harder, faster, to cum inside, don’t stop.

Now it was Rey’s turn to blush. She vaguely remembered mumbling some of those things, but to see herself like that, through his eyes… it was like watching another person. Like an actress in one of those dirty holovids Kaydel might have shown her and she might have watched once or a dozen or so times, late at night in her bunk after curfew, after everyone had stumbled back to their rooms after whiskey and cards.

You will come back with me,” Kylo gazed into her, his voice even, monotonous. And there was something else, something lining every stroke in every word. The Force. “You will do as I say.

Rey stared back at him incredulously, her mouth falling open. For a few seconds, she could tell he thought it had worked, his unblinking eyes growing even darker, glinting with excitement. But then she was scoffing, and the spell was broken.

“I will do no such thing. And since we supposedly can’t leave one other....” Rey crossed her arms. “...It looks like you’re going back with me.

Kylo’s eye twitched as the corner of his lips quirked up cockily. “We’ll see.”

“We shall.”

*

The next few days passed as they always did—Rey on the Falcon, Ben on the Upsilon. Their ships next to one another, they were never more than one hundred meters from each other at any given time.

Ben’s wound healed, thanks to the bacta and increased healing ability both seem to have acquired due to the binding. But the scar of what happened—how quickly Rey had lost control, letting the power of the Dark consume her—remained.

To conserve the remaining power of the back-up generator, Rey worked on repairing both the Falcon and the Upsilon’s main generators in the clearing during daylight. From sunup to sundown she worked, surrounded by parts from the Jedi cruiser’s generator. When night fell, she returned to the Upsilon with her hair frizzy, her face smeared in grease, and her clothes stained with sweat and dirt. But Ben never said a thing as he handed her steaming bowls of bantha stew. Not a word as she inhaled it before he finished three spoonfuls.

He did give her looks, of course. When she boarded his ramp, trailing dirt and sometimes mud onto the shiny black-tiled floor. Across the dining table. And a different sort of look every time she emerged from the steamy shower of his refresher. He didn’t even bother trying to hide it whenever she dropped the black terry-cloth towel to pull on one of his shirts that reached mid-thigh.

Mine.

The word—the feeling—would always float though her mind. Only, it wasn’t in Sith. It wasn’t the Dark Side. The possessiveness… the domination… Rey was beginning to think it was all Ben. Not only Kylo.

Rey often wondered what he did all day while she worked. Sometimes feelings would swell over her like a tide, but she could never be certain if they were his or her own. Worry. Fear. Longing. Hope. Desire. And restlessness. A restlessness so tangible, it was a physical thing, with feathers and broken wings. She could feel it within him, within herself, ever-present and unrelenting, beating against their ribcages.

As the nights grew colder, the temperature in the Upsilon bedchambers rose as their bodies generated heat in the small space. Rey was always cold—a side effect of living on a desert planet most her life. But Ben’s skin ran hot. She used to think he would be cold to the touch—with his pale skin and robes like Death, and his soul just as silent and unreachable.

But Ben wasn’t only hot to the touch—he was passionate. About books, history, art, calligraphy, the Force. And her. She felt it in the way his hands and mouth worshipped her, slow and with meaning. Their coming together always began frantically, as if the world was going to end any second. But soon it would slow to something more simmering, more penetrating. Deeper, but never deep enough.

It frightened Rey, how much she was growing accustomed to him. How easily she fell into the routine they built for themselves, like they had been stranded here for years. How much she cared for him. She thought maybe she might even love him. But she locked that thought away, deep into the recesses of her mind. She didn’t think she could take anybody else leaving her. And when it came to Ben Solo, hope was a dangerous thing. She couldn’t bear being disappointed again.

If Ben was aware of any of this, he never said anything. Sometimes she thought she might have slipped, the words or feelings as bare to him as her skin, especially in moments when her mental shield was at its weakest. In the height of passion, while penetrating her deeply, he could just as easily penetrate the barrier of her mind, taking everything. And she would give it to him. Without a fight, without a second thought. That frightened her more than anything. He could so easily read her, as if every thought or feeling of hers had always belonged to him. But she never could read him in return. His walls were never higher.

Whenever she heard him in her mind, it was because he wanted her to hear him. Like now.

You’re going to love it on the Ascendency, Rey.

His lips slowly kissed down her ribs, her stomach, the dip between her hipbones. Open mouth kisses that left a cold trail as the heat from his plush lips drifted away, saliva lingering.

The grandest chambers, all your own. Another searing kiss. Another cold chill in its wake.

Silk. Kiss. Lower.

Velvet. Kiss. Lower.

Jewels. Kiss. In the space between her core and right thigh.

Succulent meals, rich desserts. A nip in the middle of her inner right thigh, teeth scraping her sensitive skin.

You’ll never go hungry again. You’ll never want for anything. The kisses were moving back up her thigh now. It trembled in his iron grip. More pleasures than you’re capable of imagining.

I don’t know… Rey thought. I can imagine a lot.

Ben’s eyes bore into hers, hooded and hungry, the pupils wide and dark underneath black waves falling in front of his face.

Tell me what you want, Rey. His head moved lower, closer to her core but not touching it. Hovering. The wisps at the ends of his hair tickled her. His breath blew hot upon her skin.

Anything?

Anything.

Then I want— A sudden piercing on her left thigh. Dull pain. Then the hot wetness of his tongue swiping over it, soothing. He had bitten her again. I want…

You want?

I want you to… Ben’s breath was panting hot upon her thigh in short huffs. It moved to her slit, which she could feel was fluttering along with her heart, her cunt clenching around nothing, growing slicker every time his eyes rose to bore into hers.

To what, Rey? Say it. His hands moved up from her hips to her waist, up to her ribs. They spanned warmly across her skin with pressure, possessiveness.

Ben loomed over her on his knees, staring darkly into her as his hands continued their roaming, their claiming of territory. Her thighs were open for him, clenched around his hips, trying to pull him closer.

He didn’t budge.

He also hadn’t taken off his trousers, while she was completely bare.

It wasn’t fair.

Say it, Rey. He pinched her nipple. It pinged straight down, past her navel. Tell me what you want me to do. Another hand slid up to span across her neck, his thumb brushing up to her jaw, over her bottom lip. What you want me to do to you.

I want you to… to come…

Yes… His head had dipped low to graze her nipple with his teeth, rolling it with his tongue. All the while his gaze never left her. Cum where?

Come… with me…

Yes…

A long, thick digit traced down her slick slit, dipping in ever so slightly.

To the Resistance.

The hand around her throat tightened.

Rey suddenly couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t draw a breath in. Her eyes bulged as her own hands came scrambling up, clawing at the massive one constricting around her neck.

Ben… stop it… let go!

It wasn’t just his hand—it was the Force choking her as well. She could feel it. It felt cold in comparison to his hot skin.

Rey tried to focus on bringing the Force to her. She closed her eyes. Tried her best to ignore the hard muscle and bone constricting around her windpipe. The increasing need for air. She reached out. It was so close…

Only to hit a wall.

A thick, cold, black wall. Impenetrable.

What was this? What was happening?

Why couldn’t she reach the Force?

Tendrils of black inkiness oozed from the wall, seeping into her skin, ice cold. Burrowing deep down, into her bone marrow.

She was shivering. She couldn’t stop.

Her vision began to blur as the panic rushed through her bloodstream. She began thrashing underneath him, her legs kicking, the cot squeaking. His hand tightened. His heavy body pinned her down. She could feel him in his entirety, every line of hardness, including the erection he still had.

Did... did his dick just twitch? Was this exciting him?!

All Rey could see was darkness. His pupils had swallowed the rings of brown and green, like a black hole. When she gazed into them, into the abyss, she saw emptiness. A coldness she had never known.

And then there was nothing. Only silence and darkness.

Oblivion.

*

The flickering light of a long florescent bulb.

This was the first thing Rey saw when the world came back to her. Like the flip of a switch. The flicker of the beginning of the universe, then sudden brightness—from nothing to everything.

Rey turned her head. Everything was a blur.

The blurs began to come into focus as she blinked away the remnants of what had felt like a brush of death’s robes.

Brightly colored lines and numbers glowed on a screen—her vitals. White rectanglular cabinets lined the walls, which she knew somehow were mostly empty.

The Falcon’s medical bay.

And then a blur of black. Obscuring the light, like an eclipse. The Grim Reaper himself.

“Ben…” Rey croaked. Her voice came out rough, deeper than usual. Like it had been sanded down. She swallowed. Her throat felt raw.

“Don’t speak,” he murmured, gently pushing hair away from her eyes, tucking it behind her ear.

What—what happened? What did you do to me? The confusion began to ebb into anger. Why did you do that? How could you?!

Ben visibly swallowed. His bottom lip quivered slightly, his eyes shining wet in the harsh fluorescents of the med bay.

“I’m sorry, Rey.” His eyes flickered down over her prone form. “I’m…” Another hard swallow. “I don’t know why I—“

His mind was wide open to her again. She could feel the sadness, the shame, the remorse pouring off him. And strongest of all, fear. It was like a melancholic symphony, the notes sinking into her softly, deeply.

I’m sorry.

Ben had never said those words to her before. She suspected he never said them at all, to anyone.

Rey’s heart, which was only a few moments ago hardening, scarring over with betrayal, began to soften once again. It’s okay. It was the Dark Side. It wasn’t you.

Ben sat next to her on the gurney, wrapping his arms around her carefully, as if she was made of glass, and one wrong move would shatter her into a million pieces. He burrowed his face into her neck. But what if it was?

Rey ran a hand through his locks. It wasn’t.

Rey…

It wasn’t.

A long, deep sigh. We need to get off this planet. The sooner the better.

Rey turned his face towards her, stroking down his cheekbone as she stared into his eyes, into the brown and green. We will. Together.

*

Rey had never felt better.

Despite what had happened, despite the trauma, despite the flames of anger that licked at the edges of her mind, taunting her. She felt strong.

But the darkness crept in, growing inside her insidiously like a cancer.

Was she really going to let this go? Pretend like nothing happened?

Fasona jis kesti. Fasona jis geida tym zinot niekada buti koshűjontű. Make him suffer. Make him wish he had never been born.

Her throat was sore at first, with ugly red and purple bruises blotching her neck. But over the course of a few hours, every time Rey would glance into the polished mirror above the refresher sink, she would find the bruises had faded more and more, until her skin became just as clear and creamy as ever. Either it was the increased healing ability, or… was it possible that he had healed her?

Rey shook her head. No.

No, that was impossible. That was a Lightsider’s ability. Ben might have some light left in him, but not enough to heal. Healing was the most powerful ability of the Light Side. No, it had to be because of the binding. Unless…

Was Ben turning to the light?

Rey peered over at him, at his furrowed brows and parted lips as he studied the two generators. One from the Falcon and the other from the Upsilon, with parts taken from the Jedi Cruiser in a haphazard combination that looked like something out of a science experiment. He didn’t seem to hear her thoughts, too wrapped up in his own. Too consumed by worries. Because time was running out. The food supplies were running low and the water even lower. And neither of them wanted to venture back into the jungle, back to the stream.

Could this really work? Could they really get out of here?

Rey looked up at the sky, squinting at the shimmer swirling high above the clouds. The light was fading, the sun dying a brilliant orange death through the shimmying leaves. They had finished the generator just in time.

“Do we dare?” she asked, her head still tilted up.

“No time like the present.”

Rey looked over at Ben, only to see that he too was looking up. And then he was looking over at her, as if he could sense her eyes on him. He smiled.

Fasona jis minti j'us zinot prijuri. Make him think you’ve forgiven.

Rey smiled back.

Kad dary nenx zmir. But do not forget.

*

The generators were lifted into the Upsilon.

While lying in the bed in the Captain’s Quarters aboard the Falcon the previous night, Rey had come to a decision. One that was many nights in the making. One that she knew she couldn’t avoid any longer. Not with the generators almost fixed and the supplies running out.

If Ben was telling the truth, and she could feel that he was, then the binding could never be broken. It was something she had to accept, just like other hard truths. Like how her parents were never coming back. That they really were dead in the Jakku desert. That they had sold her for drinking money. That they probably never gave a damn about her in the first place.

Ben gave a damn about her, she could feel it. In his looks, his caresses. In his braving of the Falcon to bring her to the med bay. In the way he’d been hovering over her ever since she awoke to find him more sorrowful than she had ever seen him—except maybe on Ahch-To, when she had called him a monster.

He still believed himself to be one, she could see it in his mind. The grotesque reflection every time he looked at himself in the polished glass in the Upsilon’s refresher. He didn’t believe anybody could ever love him again. That she could ever love him.

Sometimes, a dangerous thought would enter his mind, one more dangerous than dreams of power or passion. That maybe, with time, she could learn to— But then he would close his eyes and shake his head, thinking no, it was no use dwelling on impossible things. He didn’t deserve her. He didn’t deserve to even hope.

Rey saw all of this. Had pulled it out of his mind when his shields were lowered in the med bay.

There was another hard truth that Rey accepted that night as she tossed and turned, waiting for the inevitable descent into darkness that would lead her right into Ben’s arms.

She did love him.

She was in love with Ben Solo.

And she was going with him. To the Ascendency. Into the belly of the First Order.

Something he had said aboard the Jedi Cruiser had stuck with her, burrowed deep underneath her skin like a splinter. Something she hadn’t considered before, though now it seemed the most obvious thing in the world.

“If you were really serious about saving the galaxy, then why haven’t you considered doing it from the inside?”

And being the Empress of the First Order—there was no position more inside than that. Even on her knees, or on her back, she would really be the one in charge. She could change things. All the while relaying intel to the Resistance to bring the First Order down.

And Ben… He could either join her, or burn with it.

Because even though Rey loved him, even though she didn’t want to imagine her life without him, there was something far greater at stake than the love between two people.

Rey of Jakku was born with tragedy in her blood. As was Ben Solo. Who were they to pretend their lives would end in any other way?

It was fated in the stars. As much as their first meeting on Takodana. As much as their Force Bond. As much as they were both drawn here, to this place. To the Dark Side ceremony. The Force clearly had been determined to bind them, perhaps from the very start, from their birth. Maybe even before then. Maybe this had all been set in motion billions of years ago, and they were always destined to hurl towards some unknown point in the future, one that could only end in tragedy because history always repeated itself. It was all the same stories, over and over, just with different names.

Rey only hoped that something healing could emerge from the remnants. Like the scorched earth after a forest fire. Like the birth of a new universe.

Kad dary nenx zmir. Don’t stop until it all burns.

*

Rey was never good at goodbyes.

Maybe it was because she so rarely got the chance to say them. Parting always came at unexpected times, blind-sighting her as much as an enemy ship in the Falcon’s blind spot. There were the goodbyes she hadn’t known were goodbyes at the time. And then there were the kind of goodbyes that could be felt as they were happening, like a precognitive breeze from the future. Rey didn’t know which kind hurt less.

But nothing compared to the worst kind of goodbye of all: the forever kind.

What kind of goodbye was this one to be?

With her quarterstaff slung over her back and a large canvas bag at her feet, Rey took one last, long look at the ship that had been more of a home to her than her downed AT-AT, than her stone hut on Ahch-To, than her tiny room on base on Yavin IV.

A caress of metal.

And then the press of a button. The lights flickered out.

*

Rey didn’t look back.

Not at the Falcon. Not at the jungle.

Straight ahead. To the glow of the Upsilon’s lowered ramp, and the man standing there, waiting for her.

*

The lights in the Upsilon’s cockpit flashed red, white, and green in the shiny black sleekness, like jellyfish glowing in the ocean depths.

Ben Solo was seated in the pilot’s seat, in the smooth, expensive leather. While checking the settings, waves of confidence, even cockiness rolled off him. The master of the controls in front of him, of the ship, of his domain. The son of a man who made the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs. It was in his blood, as much as the Force.

Rey was seated behind him, off to the side against the wall, in a small plastic seat that popped down from the wall. She wasn’t even a co-pilot. There was no room for her beside him.

As Rey buckled herself in, she took a deep breath, hoping this wasn’t foreboding of things to come.

She glanced at the two generators hooked up together. If one short-circuited, hopefully the other would have enough power to keep ascending, past the shimmer into space. And then hyperspace. And then as far away from this place as possible, never to be seen again. If she could burn the planet down, she would.

The Upsilon ascended.

Slowly, carefully. Up.

The jungle grew smaller and smaller as the shimmer grew brighter and brighter. The farther up they went, the more weight and pressure was felt, as if the planet was trying to drag them back down.

Neon blue neurons of static.

And then—

Rey held her breath. This was it.

ZAPPPP

A shock she felt, zipping through her frame, frazzling. Reverberating.

Darkness.

And then falling.

Plummeting faster and faster, everything blurry and shaking and oh kriff this was it the end but there was still so much she had left do she never got to open a new Jedi Order and the sacred texts what would happen to them and Finn and Leia and Ben and oh Force Ben

A sudden brilliant flash of neon blue.

Not the shimmer’s neurons. Something brighter. Blazing the entire inside of the ship.

Long zaps of electricity. Coming from Ben.

Force Lightning.

Rey looked up from Ben’s hands, his outstretched arms, to his face. At his furrowed brows. His lips pressed in a straight line. His clenched jaw. Drips of sweat were pouring down his skin, his hair, only to disappear into the blackness of the cockpit. He looked focused. Intense. And not at all surprised.

The lights in the cockpit flashed back on. Ben turned back to the controls.

And then they were ascending again. Higher and higher and higher.

As the shimmer came hurtling up to them, lightning shot out from Ben’s hands once more, zapping the generators. They glowed bright blue.

The ends of Rey’s hair stood up, frizzing out as electricity coursed though the ship from both the shimmer’s force field and Ben’s fingertips. It was blinding.

Rey closed her eyes.

A loud POP.

Silence. Stillness.

The weight and pressure suddenly lifted. Rey felt like she could breathe again, like the first gulp of cool water after days of thirst. She peered out the viewport.

The shimmer was swirling pink and purple and blue beneath them.

*

Rey never got to read the coordinates entered into the Upsilon’s mainframe. She had only managed to glimpse a vague red glow upon the screen before the rush of hyperspace. Where they were headed was as much a mystery as where they stood with one other.

The second long blue streaks were zooming past the viewport, Ben was rising from the pilot’s seat, stalking over to Rey, his eyes locked onto her as if she was going to bolt any second. As if she had anywhere else to go.

Towering over her in her tiny pop-up seat, he reached down. Rey watched transfixed as he slowly unzipped his trousers, pulling out his cock. It jutted large and thick and veiny in front of her.

”Suck it,” Ben demanded in a deep tone she could feel reverberating through her, sending a chill down her spine. His pupils were blown wide, black. Unblinking.

Rey reached out tentatively. Grabbed a hold of the base. Moved her hand up, her thumb swiping over the head. Then down again.

A large hand spanned across the back of her head. Ben was pushing her forward and down. “I said suck, Little Jedi.”

Rey glared up at him. But then she was licking her lips, pulling her bottom flesh with her teeth. His eyes flickered down to the movement.

He might think he was the one with all the power here, but he was wrong.

Rey leaned down slowly. Licked the tip of his cock, from underneath the head to the slit. Ben’s hand on the back of her head tightened, fisting into her hair.

Then she was taking him in as far as she could, his blunt head bobbing the back of her throat. She’d never done this before, but she had watched enough dirty holovids and heard it talked about on base to have an idea of what to do. Not to mention she could read his feelings, what he liked and what he loved.

And he loved the sound of her gagging as she choked a few times. She could feel her pleasure rolling off him, thick and sweet. He was far too large for her take all the way in, so she starting pumping him at the base.

Just as Rey was beginning to get a hang of it, finding a rhythm with her mouth and hand, Ben was pulling her head back by her hair. Before she could ask if everything was alright, before she could even wipe the spit hanging from her mouth, he was forcefully pulling her up flush against him. Rey felt a swooping low in her stomach as he suddenly overwhelmed her.

Then his plush lips were on hers, his tongue not waiting for an invitation. He jammed it past her lips, deep into her mouth, taking what he wanted.

A hard tug of the waistband of her trousers. Then they were being yanked down, Ben kneeling to take them off, along with her boots. He didn’t bother with her tabard and tunic. Rey could feel that there was only one focus, and it was to be inside her as quickly as possible.

The ground tilted as Rey was suddenly hoisted up, Ben having grabbed her behind her thighs. She instinctively wrapped her legs around him as he strode the few steps over to the pilot’s seat.

There were no words.

No declarations of love or devotion. No compliments or endearments. Only the humming of the ship and gasping, panting, groaning.

And the wet sound of Ben sliding hot and thick inside Rey, over and over. Up and down as she rode him in the pilot’s seat.

Slippery slickness.

In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out. In and out.

Ben’s thumb rubbing at her clit as his cock bobbed deep inside her.

He’d been thrusting for so long that his cock began to roughly catch on her walls. She knew she would be sore later, but it was a good kind of sore. She found she liked the pain. Pleasure could not exist without it.

Ben must have heard this thought, because now he was fucking her even harder. Pulling her up and slamming her back down.

Then he was picking her up. Tumbling down to the cold, shiny cockpit floor. He grabbed her calves, yanking them over his broad shoulders, his cock ramming fast and hard into her. Then again. And again. Fucking her the way he wielded a lightsaber, like he wanted to destroy her.

Black waves swooped in front of his face with every thrust.

He was so deep. As deep as when he had fucked her from behind. Hitting her cervix. Pain, pleasure, pain, pleasure, pain, pleasure.

Furiously flicking at her clit. Faster. Harder. Fucking.

Ecstasy rising within her. Higher and higher. Hotter and hotter.

Scorched earth. Burning planets. Deaths of universes. Births of new ones.

Whiteness. Blinding.

Xaz. Yes.

Hot cum. The warmth spreading, flooding. Filling every space inside her, even her mind it felt like.

A few minutes passed as they came back down. Their breathing and heart rates slowed, syncing with one another.

As Ben slowly rolled off her, Rey stood up, her legs wobbling, her thighs twitching. She began to make her way to the refresher to clean herself up, when all of a sudden she was being pulled back, flush against Ben’s hard body. One thick, muscled arm wrapped around her breasts as the other wrapped around her stomach. Constricting like a boa.

You’re not going anywhere. Ben murmured inside her as he sucked at the nook of her neck. The deep timber of his voice vibrated in her sore cunt.

You’re going to come to the First Order with my cum leaking out of you.

*

The blackness of space once again greeted them as an old friend as the stars returned to pinpricks in the distance.

They had arrived at their destination.

The Ascendancy loomed in front of them like a steel arrowhead on the edge of an arrow about to be shot right through them.

“This is your Supreme Leader Kylo Ren,” Ben ordered into the mic, his voice taking on a more clipped tone, preemptively angry and disappointed. “Prepare the docking bay for my arrival.”

He glanced over his black-clad shoulder, in Rey’s direction.

“And the arrival of a guest.”

*

A sea of white and black and chrome. Lines of stormtroopers so orderly, that Rey bet they were lined up to the millimeter.

The pressed linen of officers’ uniforms. Blank, stoic faces that didn’t need masks because they already wore one.

One of the officer strode up to them as they descended the ramp of the Upsilon. A red-headed man with a face pinched like a rat.

“Hux,” Ben greeted.

“Ren,” he replied, spitting out the name as if it was something sour. His eyes flitted over to Rey, trailing up and down her body in a way that made her skin crawl. A sick sort of smile curled at the edges of his mouth. “And the Jedi, I presume?”

Rey lifted her chin up, feigning more confidence than she felt. She suddenly felt self-conscious of her ragged appearance, wondering if it was possible the entire First Order could tell she’d just been fucked raw by their Supreme Leader. That his cum was currently leaking out of her, soaking into her panties and trousers, her thighs slick with every step. She thanked the Force it was hidden underneath her tabard.

Ben, meanwhile, looked just as cool and calm and collected as ever.

“Yes.” Ben looked over at Rey. A long, penetrating look that she couldn’t read. And then he was moving closer to her, lifting a gloved hand to her face, the leather smooth and foreign against her cheekbone, down to her lips.

He leaned down. Pressed his lips gently against her own. Both of their eyes remained open. The kiss was so light, it might as well have not even happened.

A clinking. Metal.

Something cold and unyielding pressing against her wrists.

And the Force—gone. As if it had never been there at all.

Rey looked down, at the Force-suppressing handcuffs locked around her wrists. Looked back up, into the black eyes of Kylo Ren. “You bastard.”

“Another endearment I shall cherish, my love.” Kylo chuckled. He turned to two stormtroopers next to Hux. “Take her my bedchambers. Use the emergency code to lock her in. Stay posted outside the door, always two at a time. And whatever you do, do not open the door. No matter what she says or does.”

“You kriffing bastard.”

“Did you really think I didn’t know what you were planning, Rey?” Kylo loomed over her, invading her space as her arms were roughly held back by stormtroopers flanking her on both sides. “Little Jedi spy. Planning on sneaking out of my bed to report to the Resistance, to your little friends FN-2187 and the pilot. Betraying me.”

“No!” Rey squirmed in the iron grip of the stormtroopers’ metal gloves. “No, Ben, you’ve got it all—“

Supreme Leader Kylo Ren.” A muscle in Kylo’s jaw twitched. He straightened up, squaring his shoulders, looking very much like a stranger.

Like she had never known this man at all. Even with his cum inside her.

Dary nenx zmir. Do not forget.