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Dystopia

Chapter Text

 

 

 

The body crashed on the ground with a loud thumping noise; the sound of shattering glass resonated in the empty building.

 

Red, thick blood oozed from it, filling the cracks in the old, wooden floor. As it spread, it merged with a white, ersatz protein-milk leaking from a bottle which had broken under the weight of the owner’s body.

 

A tall, broad figure, dressed in a black long coat with a laser gun in his gloved hand, towered over the dead man lying on his stomach, a hole still smoking in his back from the shot. The stranger contemplated his victim.

 

He watched as the liquids merged; red tainted white. Like his sins to the shadow of his soul.

 

A distinctive black half-helmet, with a chin protection partly covered the man’s features; only his lips were visible, for his chin was also encased by the helmet. The black oval-shaped eye shield was framed by several rows of shining metal stripes, while the rest of the outer shell and chin protection were made of a synthetic shiny black material.

 

K-yl0 R3n stared at the dead man through his helmet, lips twitching. He read the information provided by the mask’s computer, which fused with his mind. He scanned the body, finding a complete ending of all life indicators.

 

As he observed the corpse, he felt nothing. The job was done, quick and fast; his personal favorites. His heart was ice-cold, for machines didn’t feel emotions; an android, an “artificial humanoid”, as humans liked to put it, with only the ghost of a soul and no spirit. Not even a real name; only a serial number.

 

But he wasn’t just any type of machine; he was one made to kill. Heartless and brutal. Men feared him.

 

He was about to slide a foot under the dead body when he heard a loud siren coming from a hovercar outside the building.

 

Fuck. I knew I should have killed that woman who entered the building when I was about to shoot him, he thought to himself. She had eye-witnessed the scene. He had been taken by surprise, since no one came to these abandoned parts of the city anymore, besides androids, robots and “special people”. But the damn fool had called those wannabe “policemen”, the cops. An ugly, dangerous smirk grew on his lips. Maybe he could bring down one or two of those idiots while he was at it. He had a special liking for slaughtering those weak creatures, since they “retired” androids like him, when they were of no use anymore. He was always thrilled to show them what his kind was capable of doing.

 

It was too late to flee through the door. He hid the laser pistol inside his black high-collared coat and sprinted toward the stairs of the old, decrepit building. Taking several steps at once, the staircase cracked and shook under his tremendous weight; clouds of dust soon filled the air. Before he knew it, he heard voices and his gaze darted down toward the entrance. Three people dashed in, half-helmets covering their faces, guns out, aiming already.

 

“There!” pointed one of them towards him, shooting in his direction. The hit missed him by an inch.

 

“On it!” shouted a female voice, as she lost no time running for the staircase, her assault laser-gun held tightly in both hands.

 

“Wait! He’s dangerous!” cried the third, older man’s voice, before he followed behind her. 

 

K-yl0’s long legs raced, as he spiraled and spiraled up. Suddenly, he turned right, in a pitch dark corridor and he entered one of the ancient, abandoned flats.

 

It was dark. A dim, midnight-blue light poured into the vast, high-ceilinged rooms from shattered windows. Darkness was sprinkled by dots of yellow streams from the passing hovercars’ flashing lights, and pink and blue beams appeared from the huge neon ads which always filled the city’s facades. Old spiderwebs, long abandoned by their owners, covered the scattered furniture, ruined by time. The floor was covered with layers of dust; it fluttered and danced around him, marking his steps as he carefully chose his hiding spot. He was thankful it was nighttime, for the darkness wouldn’t betray where he was hiding.

 

K-yl0 grabbed the gun he held in the holster within his coat. He hid behind a broad metal closet, sealing him from searching eyes, as he waited in the shadows like a cat ready to jump onto his prey.

 

Come here, little mice, he thought smugly.

 

After several moments. The door creaked before all sound dropped. He could only hear his pounding heart.

 

Whispers rose, as well as faint breathings.

 

The figure of the woman appeared within range, but K-yl0 knew he had to wait for the three to be within sight or he would betray his cover. Patiently, he rose his laser-pistol and his eyes narrowed to the woman through the night-vision mode of his eye shield. She was wearing a half-helmet provided with a microphone, which also showed her lips and chin; it was reinforced by two protections on the side for the ears and she had turned off the light stripes that usually glowed around those protections. She was wearing a short synthetic leather jacket over a high-collar shirt and a very tight pair of pants and high boots. The outfit was completed with a double belt, from which hung several gun holsters. Her frame was frail and thin but muscular, with small breasts and a pert behind. He blinked. Very unusual outfit for a cop, he thought. However, he focused as something caught his attention: on her side, she was carrying a small retractable sword in one of the holsters. It was an electronically enhanced weapon, used only by specialists. The same kind he always carried around. K-yl0 frowned skeptically. Was she a martial artist too? He decided to finish her last.

 

Before he knew it, the two others came within range. They were creeping slowly, guns pointing forward, aiming at every sound.

 

“Agent R, are you sure…?”

 

“Shhh. Yes,” hushed the woman.

 

K-yl0 directed his gun at the opposing wall. His expert gaze focused on the metal structure of a mirror hanging there. He had only one chance, or he’d be dead before he knew it. Adrenaline filled his bloodstream.

 

The shot hit and reverberated on the metal structure, creating the impression that the shot came from the opposing wall.

 

The three figures instantly darted their weapons and shot the mirror, while K-yl0 was already pointing at the tallest figure and pulled the trigger, aiming for the neck, the only spot which was not covered by protections.

 

The shot hit the man straight. Blood gushed. With a high-pitch scream, the man crashed backwards on the floor.

 

“NO! Master!” the woman launched onto him, while K-yl0 took advantage of the chaos and directed his next shot at the other, smaller man. However, his opponent had already located him and was pointing his gun in his direction. But K-yl0 was quicker. The shot hit the man’s side but was deflected by the anti-laser suit he was wearing.

 

The room filled with a rain of red and green colored laser beams. It was mayhem. The policeman and the woman were both showering K-yl0 with shots, while he retreated behind the closet, which was on the verge of being completely destroyed.

 

He would have to use more unconventional techniques to finish those two. He detached the retractile sword he held from his belt. It was half-moon shaped, with a grip. He pushed a lock and the weapon extended out, morphing into a full-fledged sword, the half-moon forming the end of the weapon. The edges were blasting with a red, crackling ultrasonic generator.  

 

Sword in one hand and pistol in the other, he breathed in and out, frowned and pursed his lips in concentration, as the rain of laser-rays still kept hitting the old closet and dust filled the air of the whole room.

 

Out of nowhere, he dashed out and ran toward them, deflecting their blasts with the sword. He jumped, making a double-loop in mid-air before landing right between them. He disarmed the woman with a kick before slashing the sword into the man’s suit, tearing it apart and cutting right through the skin. The man cried out, and K-yl0 shot him in the stomach without a hint of hesitation. The man held his wound before crashing head-first on the floor. 

 

“Poe!!” cried the woman behind K-yl0, who turned swiftly, only to see her seize the crescent-shaped object from her belt and activating it exactly like he had only a minute ago.

 

It converted into a sword and K-yl0 had to suppress a gasp: it was not single but double-bladed. It was blue instead of red, and the sound was different; it didn’t crackle like fire as his did, it was steadier. He raised an eyebrow at the gleam of light-blue now illuminating her figure. She was standing straight as a board, fist balled up, ready to kill.

 

“You’re going to pay for this, you monster!” she bellowed, full of rage. 

 

His lips curved in a mischievous, arrogant grin. He straightened, cracked his neck, and observed her. She had gone for the sword and not the blaster, which had flown out of her hand several feet away. She could have made a run for it. But no; she’d chosen this weapon. His insides throbbed with excitement. He threw his pistol away, knowing all too well she’d be quick enough to avoid his shots.

 

Finally, a worthy challenger, he thought to himself, although you don’t stand a chance against me, lady.

 

His leg slid backwards, settling in a defense position. The tension was so thick, it could have been cut with a knife. He could almost feel her wrath. His gloved hand settled before his mask, and he beckoned her challengingly toward him with a flick of his fingers.

 

“Come and get me, you little rat,” he said.

 

Quicker than lighting, the slight woman dashed toward his massive figure. He raised his sword to block her blow and their blades locked in a crashing sound, a beam of white light emanating from the colliding point. She groaned with the effort, and K-yl0 had the distinct impression her eyes were burning into his helmet. Her small figure then whirled around, and with the spin, she aimed to slash his knee, but his blade collided with hers in defense. Gritting his teeth, he pushed her back violently. She did a back-flip as easily as a feline, and with the momentum, hit the ground and launched at him with all her might, attacking him ferociously.

 

Oh, she had been trained in these arts indeed. His blood was boiling.

 

With each blow she launched at him, and despite her fragile frame, K-yl0 was more and more impressed. They danced around each other, gasping and grunting, while flicks and sparks of ultrasonic fire flew all around them. The red and blue glows of their blades illuminated the darkness of the room and merging with the dust-packed air, giving the illusion it was snowing.

 

As the woman struck him over and over, she slashed her blade right into his right arm. The ultrasonic blade tore apart his coat and clothes, revealing his mecho limb; the hit sent an electric shock throughout his artificial nerves, making him flinch and hiss loudly in pain. Behind his mask, his eyes darted to her: she seemed to have frozen on the spot upon seeing his arm. The truth beneath his clothes.

 

Taking advantage of her surprise, he threw himself at her with all his might, bringing his sword over his head, preparing to give her the final blow. The woman had no choice; she couldn’t back up, so she shifted and slid with all her weight on her right leg to the ground, raising her sword rapidly to protect herself from the blow; their swords smashed together, creating a violet glow as sparks of white light flew around.

 

What K-ly0 had not intended was for her mask to jerk off with her drop to the ground and the brutal shock of his attack. It flew off from her face, rolling away, revealing a beautiful, young, chestnut-haired woman, with a three-bun hairstyle framing her freckled face. 

 

Her eyes bore directly into his mask; she was completely out of breath, her whole face beaded with sweat. Her expression showed a mix of fright and pain. But those eyes, her green-honeyed eyes were impossibly mesmerizing and familiar.

 

A storm of images assailed K-yl0’s mind. Images of her. Of her bright, white smile. Of her cheerful, pretty almond shaped eyes.

 

Of her voice. Of her laughter.

 

He shivered from head to toe. He quickly took a step back and lowered his blade, lips parted in sudden incomprehension and disbelief. He couldn’t know this woman. He never had any friends; let alone any woman in his life. What were these memories? How could he even have memories of something he hadn’t lived?

 

Seeing his reaction, the woman lowered her weapon to the ground, clearly exhausted. Her chest heaved hard, her mouth was opened, and her faint gasps for air sent an unknown feeling through K-yl0’s spine as he watched her at his mercy on the ground.

 

Images kept flowing in his mind, and a wave of fear washed over him. He pushed back his sleeve to reach a sophisticated wristband watch and activated a button. He then ran toward a window, burst the glass, and hopped onto the frame. Dozens of police hovercars were right there, but he jumped into the void. He was flying in mid-air when a black hovermotocycle came right around the corner and he skillfully landed on it.

 

Before activating the accelerator, he felt a presence above him and his head darted up. He met the woman’s flabbergasted face, looking down throughout the window directly at him. 

 

He grabbed the moto’s handle and promptly drove away from the crime scene before she could give the alert.

 

 

***

 

“Agent R - oh, hell with it - Rei! I told you a thousand times not to rush head-first into danger like this. You could have been killed!”

 

Rei sat on a stool next to the hospital bed, face looking down as she was being scolded by her direct superior, Agent P - for Poe - who was severely reprimanding her.

 

“I mean it. It’s a miracle you’re alive. I know you’re a gifted martial-artist, Rei, but this guy was something else. Hell, it’s a miracle I’m alive!” he said, glancing at his stomach and midriff, bandaged up tightly.

 

Rei peered at his dark-brown eyes. “I’m so sorry, Poe. I failed you. As I failed Master San Tekka…” her voice trailed away, a knot suddenly forming in her throat. She struggled not to cry.

 

Poe’s expression softened. He laid a hand on her head, caressing her soft hair gently. “It’s okay. You saved me. There was nothing you could have done for Lor, and he knew what he was doing.”

 

Rei’s eyes stung with tears. “I failed him, Poe, I failed him. He is - he was” she corrected herself bitterly, “my Master for years. I-I-” she stopped and broke into a small, repressed cry.

 

Another, brown-skinned man with shaved hair on the side and a distinctive haircut, who’d been standing behind her, came forward.

 

“Rei, it’s alright.” The man comforted her, patting her on the shoulder. “Without you, Agent P would also be dead.”

 

Poe nodded. “Agent F is right Rei - I am very thankful. Without your promptness, I’d be in the grave. That man -or whatever it was - was more cunning and quicker than all of us. It’s a miracle he spared you.”

 

Rei’s wiped a tear which had fallen. She had to be strong. She had to be the example, as Lor San Tekka had always taught her. 

 

Her thoughts travelled back to the mysterious stranger she’d fought. He shot both Lor and Poe without doubting it for a second. A skilled, lethal hitman. But when she slashed his arm, she saw he had a mechanical limb. Was he human? Or an android? Everything in his demeanor, his cold, emotionless ways of acting, very calculated, pointed toward an artificial intelligence. But the limb? Could it have been an android with mecho limbs? A very rare specimen, since when humans had mecho limbs they were covered with skin, and when “andys” lost a limb, they were generally retired. He’d have to be very special to be spared and repaired by the owner.

 

But what most caught her attention were his sword-fighting skills. A martial artist, like her. There were so few left. Could an andy be trained as a martial artist? It was a human art, not one practiced by androids. It didn’t fit. She rubbed her skull, drawing small circles on her temple. There were too many questions and her head was exploding.

 

“Rei, you need to rest. Go back to your place,” commanded Poe with a firm voice. “Agent F, can you help her back?”

 

“Yes, of course, sir,” Agent F - for Finn, or Agent 2187- laid a hand over Rei’s shoulder. “He’s right. Let’s go. Agent P needs to rest anyway and you need to gather yourself, you look terrible.”

 

“Okay...But don’t worry, I’ll ask C-3PO to come and pick me up.”

 

“Are you sure -?”

 

Rei cut him off.  “Quite sure,” she said with a faint smile.

 

“I’m worried for you, peanut,” Finn insisted, his eye moldering into a soft expression “You really could have been killed by that monster.”

 

“I know…” answered Rey absent-mindedly.

 

She met Finn when she’d joined the Coruscant Police Department and since then, they had become best friends. Although she surpassed him in fighting skills, he was always very protective of her. She had been assigned to the Intelligence Bureau, for her knowledge of androids and droids was most needed by Lor San Tekka, then head of the Department. Indeed, a series of strange murders were being committed by andys who had gone rogue. A mysterious “reflexio virus” had infected them, making them think they had feelings and emotions, thus creating the illusion of a human spirit. They rebelled against humans and killed them. It was mayhem, and the Intelligence Bureau had been investigating the case. That’s how they had ended up in that crime scene the day before, leading to the current tragic events.

 

She dialed a number from her wristband watch, and a beam of blue light emanated from it, morphing into a tiny three-dimension holo-image of her protocol droid, C-3PO’s face.

 

“Master Rei! So good to see you! How can my circuits be of any help?”

 

Rei’s lips curved up. C-3PO was the most talkative droid ever, but also the most faithful one. “Yes. Can you come pick me up at the General Kenobi Hospital?”

 

“Oh dear, Master Rei, are you quite alright?” inquired the droid, full of concern.

 

“Yes, I’m fine. I’ll wait for you in front of the entrance.” She stood up and gathered her things.

 

She turned to Poe before leaving. “Please be okay. I’d hate to lose two superiors in one day.”

 

“Don’t regard me as a superior,” said Poe, shooting her a pearly white, dashing smile.

 

Rey found her cheeks slightly heating up under his gaze. She nodded to him and Finn, and raced out.

 

But Poe called out after her.

 

“Oh, and Rei, don’t forget, tomorrow we have the visit of your old friend, Senator Leia Organa. Be sure to be at the office at 9am sharp.”

 

Rei stopped dead at the door and turned around. “Really?” she said, somewhat startled. What did Leia need from them? “Okay, of course I won’t miss it.”

 

With that, she quickly left the room.

 

 

*

 

C-3PO drove their hovercar throughout the city, while Rey was eyeing the cityscape, the modern, futuristic skyscrapers cohabitating with old-decrepit ones in farther neighborhoods. The buildings were so high and numerous that she was always under the impression they were going to engulf her. Through the huge dome that protected all of Coruscant, she could see the gray-dust filled sky as night was falling. She knew that Coruscant had been built over another, old city called Los Angeles and she wondered how it had been in those days. Ironic thing to call a city “the angels” when you know what happened to it, she thought to herself. She scratched her head and wondered what it would be to go outside the dome, despite the toxic air, lethal to humans. In her sleep, she dreamed of freedom and of the lush green forests and blues skies of her early childhood.

 

As she reflected upon these matters, lights of all colors flashed on her face. Immense flashy neon ads and virtual creatures filled the city’s immense and packed streets. Masses of people walked and were going about their daily routine, headphones over their ears, oblivious of the world in which they lived in. For her taste, it was an large beautiful prison.

 

Rei bit her lips and sighed.

 

“Master Rei,” C-3PO interrupted, “are you sure everything is alright?” he asked as he looked at her through the rearview mirror. His rusty copper plates were oxidizing with time, and his head, which was provided with a long robot-like eye-shield instead of eyes, never failed to remind her of a very old pre-apocalypse band called Daft Punk. She’d found the band in old videos while investigating humanity’s old customs. She made a mental note to give C3 an oil bath soon to maintain him.

 

“Yes, C3.” Rei liked to shorten his name. “The past two days have been straining. I guess I just need to rest,” she said, now taking out a tablet where three-dimensional blues images and text appeared above the screen and she swiped through them. The Coruscant Gazette, the city’s only digital newspaper. She went through the latest information to see if anything had appeared about the latest andys’ attacks, but there was none.

 

Mhmph. They are obviously trying to hide these murders from the public, she thought bitterly. Maybe that’s what Leia wants to talk about tomorrow? Rei asked herself and suddenly remembered she had nothing to eat at home.

 

“C3 - would you mind leaving me home and fetching some food for me? I’m very tired.”

 

“Your orders are my pleasure, Master Rei, I’d be glad to do some errands for you,” replied the droid in the most polished British accent.

 

“Thank you,” she said while continuing to swipe through the news. 

 

The car carefully landed before the entrance of a modern thirty storage level building. Rei gave C3 some short instructions, got out of the car, and took the elevator. She pressed the 30th button. She’d chosen to live on the top floor because of the impressive view of the city, plus, it was provided with a balcony. Everyone preferred lower levels, in case of earthquakes, but Rei wasn’t subject to vertigo nor did she fear the Earth shaking. It gave her the impression the Earth was living.

 

She activated the eye-scanning code which allowed her to open the door and stepped in. Her flat was scarcely furnished since she didn’t spend a lot of time there. She didn’t like to be alone and preferred the action of the office where she had Finn and the others. She’d found some old-fashioned furniture nobody wanted anymore in some old shabby shops in the oldest parts of the city. Everything that could remind her of her early childhood, where Earth was still what it used to be. Her dreams were always filled with green forests, blues skies and the turquoise sea.

 

She took her belt and jacket off, throwing them on the kitchen counter and crashed in an old-fashioned green velvet armchair. She sighed, long and slow as she rested her head

 

Without her even realizing, her mind drifted back to the stranger and their duel. An uncomfortable detail was bugging her. His lips. They were plush, pink lips. They looked so human and so real it had driven her attention away during their fight. She didn’t want to murder a human in cold blood, without knowing his true intentions. Andys were different. They were artificial creatures and although they could take the appearance of a true soul, they were heartless and emotionless. The mysterious hitman was still a puzzle she had to solve, and she still couldn’t believe this monster had murdered her Master right in front of her. She swallowed. Her eyes prickled.

 

Master…

 

Lor San Tekka had been her martial art Master for years. He had hired her, on Leia’s suggestion, in the Police department. He had given her a new life, he had trained her for years, and had always been a father figure to her. Rei closed her eyes and tasted salty water. 

 

He was gone. Forever. Her heart dropped to her stomach and she broke into a full-fledged sob. Her body folded over her lap and she cried her loss for a long moment, giving into all the tension and despair she withheld in front of Poe and Finn. She’d learned not to show weakness in front of men. It was how she gained her place and respect amongst them.

 

As Rei’s sobs finally ebbed away; she coughed and straightened, wiping her tears off her face with her palm, and decided to take a much-needed shower.

 

She entered her spacious white spotless bathroom; it was equipped with a huge window ceiling which let natural light in, a detail she always appreciated from her flat.

 

“Shower on,” she said and the shower automatically started, progressively filling the room with steam.

 

She kicked her boots off, removed her pants and high-collared shirt, revealing a small loose tank top undershirt and panties. She grabbed the hem of the shirt - when a shadow coming from above caught her attention.

 

Her gaze darted upward - before someone crashed down the window ceiling, sending bits of broken glass everywhere.

 

Rei’s screech of panic echoed in the bathroom. She clenched her eyes shut before feeling a hand pushing her backward. She smashed against the wall, falling down onto the floor with a loud gasp.

 

When she opened her eyes again, they were rounded in terror. She saw a black-clad figure towering over her in the mist of the steam, as the water of the shower kept running.

 

Her heart hammered so hard in her chest it was about to explode. The monster. He was going to kill her.

 

The figure crouched down, still hovering menacingly over her, while Rey pushed herself more against the wall, her palms pressing on the cold floor. As he scooted himself nearer to her, she held her breath. He was so massive she felt completely at his mercy. He X-rayed her from top to bottom behind his plated-stripes metal mask.

 

Rei was rooted on the spot by utter fear; her face ashen while her whole body shook uncontrollably. All she could focus on were those lips - the exact same ones she’s seen the day before.

 

She was so afraid she wanted to scream but she was rendered speechless. The man - or whatever it was - hastily took a black glove off, revealing a left organic hand. He wetted his thumb with his pink tongue.

 

And against all odds -

 

He pressed his thumb to her lips.

 

Both of them froze at the contact. Something passed between them. An electric current ran down Rei’s spine and all she could hear was her own heart and the stranger’s short, raspy breaths. His lips were quivering, as if, as if…

 

A tear fell down his trembling jaw, pearling up before dropping to the ground soundlessly. 

 

Rei’s eyes watered without her consent as his wet thumb was still flattened against her mouth.

 

Sirens went off. Her apartment’s alarm. It scared the stranger, who disappeared in the blink of an eye.

 

Rei felt tears running down her cheek.

 

And everything went dark.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

The lighter shook in his trembling hands. He lit a cigarette which loosely hung from his mouth, the small flame illuminating with a warm light the uncovered part of his face. He inhaled and exhaled nervously; smoke danced in spirals around him as he put the lighter in his pocket. The morning air was crisp as he stood on the rooftop of the building across from the woman’s apartment. He had fled as soon as he heard the alarms go off, dashing out of the window onto his hoverbike.

 

He was so shaken by their encounter it would have been in vain to go back to his place or to make the slightest attempt at finding some rest. Instead, he’d stayed outside and spent the night observing what happened in her apartment, how the police had dashed into the building, and forced her door open. No doubt all colleagues of hers.

 

He’d been able to witness everything thanks to the night-vision mode of his helmet and the wide bay windows of her apartment, allowing him a perfect view of the events unfolding inside. That is, until she’d drawn the curtains. Light from inside her dwelling gave him some indication of what she was doing, until he’d found himself gaping at her silhouette undressing behind the curtains. He’d felt so strange; his cheeks flushed and he had to look away.

 

Unbidden, his mind wandered back to the day before, when his path had first crossed hers. He’d been certain he knew this woman. But how? He didn’t know if the memories he was experiencing were his or someone else’s. He’d been created as a type of “replicant” of humans, and as far as he knew, these android prototypes didn’t have what humans called memories. Images of the past. Or did they? Was there a capacity for memory implants or some upgrade he was unaware of to make him believe he was something other than a killing machine? Only one thing remained certain: he hadn’t known this woman in his current lifespan.

 

His thoughts had circled around his mind like birds of prey starving for answers. It had driven him mad, up to the point where he’d felt the most urgent need to check if he truly recognized her. Surely, he was mistaken, right? Against his better judgement, he’d discreetly followed the woman, whose real identity was still unknown to him, first to the hospital and then to her apartment. Finding the flat’s weakness, he’d crashed inside her home, making sure he left no space between them for her to kill him. His first suspicion, and fears, had been confirmed then. 

 

He truly had memories of her. How was this possible?

 

He didn’t know what had been the most shocking: acknowledging her face, this time appearing before him in bright the light of the bathroom, or seeing her there cornered on the ground, practically naked before him. The image of her in her white panties and tank top, where her nipples shown, were now engraved into his retina as if he’d stared at a light for too long.

 

And now, a small part of his brain regretted his move. It had only made things worse. His knees had almost buckled in as memories of her flooded his mind, while being mesmerized under her wide, terrorized yet devastatingly beautiful eyes. He’d sunk down before her, taking her appearance in completely - and he’d picked up her smell. An instinct, an urge, rising from the deepest and most unknown parts of his body had driven him to touch her, to press his finger to those pink parted lips as she stared at him, terrified.

 

And then, he’d felt something.

 

A light.

 

An energy.

 

It brought immediate tears. Him, the ruthless, heartless killer. What the hell was the matter with him?

 

Her eyes glistened. Had she felt it, too? Or was it from fright, because of his monstrous appearance?

 

He was still shaking from their contact, so many hours later. He hastily took another puff from his cigarette. He was such a nervous wreck that he’d consumed over half a pack as he kept watch.

 

Now, a rumbling coming from her apartment tore him away from his thoughts. She was opening the curtains and was turning the lights off; obviously preparing herself to leave. She was probably heading to work.

 

He checked his watch.

 

8:00 am.

 

A green button was flashing from his watch. An incoming text message. Hesitantly, he chose to check.

 

Incomer: D.H

U completed your mission yet? Your master demands a full report ASAP. Not in a good mood.

 

Fuck, K-yl0 frowned and hissed. He took a deep puff of his cigarette and threw it in the void before him. Not good, I better get going, he thought to himself, before rising to his feet. Before he left, he cast one last glance over his shoulder toward the woman's apartment, but she was already gone.

 

 

***

 

“Rei, for Christ’s sake are you alright?” shouted a concerned Poe as he saw Rei push the entrance door of the Police Department office at 8:30 am sharp, gray rims under her eyes. Finn strolled behind her with a hand resting on an assault gun in holster, on the alert. “Finn told me about the attack. I was dead worried but couldn’t come!”

 

Rei glanced at her boss, whose face was still drained from all color. She didn’t know which of them looked worse, him or her

 

“Poe, it’s not the moment to be heroic. You’re already insane enough to be out of the hospital!” she said, looking at Poe’s stomach but it was concealed by his anti-laser suit. “I’m fine. And Agent F was with me the whole night,” she said, nodding at Finn in acknowledgment.

 

Poe shook his head in disbelief. He approached her with care, laid a hand on her shoulder, his forehead wrinkled quizzically.

 

“What happened? I mean - Finn called to tell me, but…”

 

Rei bit her lips and looked at the ground. The stranger had frightened her so much she’d fainted from shock and…and something else. He had spared her life when she’d been certain he was on the verge of killing her. But instead he’d pressed his naked thumb to her lips.

 

The sensation of his wet skin over her mouth troubled her more than she cared to confess. Something had passed between them. Something she couldn’t quite pin down but had brought both of them to tears. She’d felt it in her whole body…a sort of…energy. However, her mind was powerless to grasp anything about what had happened. However, in the midst of the storm currently raging in her brain, one thing was crystal clear. She took a deep breath and glanced back up at Poe.

 

“I want to be put on the case,” she told him firmly.

 

Her boss’s eyes rounded. Both he and Finn exclaimed in unison, “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

 

Rei cast a steady glance at both of them.

 

“I’m afraid I have to insist.”

 

“But-”

 

“And anyway, nobody else here stands a chance against him,” she pointed out, putting an end to all negotiations.

 

Poe knew his subordinate well enough to know that, had he even intended to reject the motion, she would have disobeyed. She had rebellious ways; once set on an objective, her willful mind was impossible to dissuade. He bit the inside of his mouth. “Is there nothing I can do to change your mind?”

 

“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” she said as her eyebrow creased in apology.

 

He sighed, lowering his head in defeat before peering back at her.

 

“Just be careful. I’m worried for you,” he answered, grabbing her shoulders with both hands and shaking her slightly. He was too worried. More than he’d ever care to admit. “Go grab some coffee, Senator Organa will be here any minute.”

 

Finn then stood right in front of her, brow furrowed. “Rei - I really hope you know what you’re doing.”

 

“Positive,” she replied with a smile. “Thank you, for everything.”

 

Casting her a suspicious glance, he left in silence for his office and Rei breathed again. Well, that went better than expected, she thought. Truth be told, she hadn’t slept for the whole night after the Police - meaning her fellow agents - had broken into her flat with Finn and another policemen guarding her door after she’d woken up trembling and shaking. She’d rolled over in her bed too many times to count; finally, acknowledging she’d find no sleep and infuriated by the whole situation, she’d gotten up and worked on her latest invention. She swore she wouldn’t rest before finding this creature. Worse, she had the distinct impression he was still stalking her and the sole idea was unsettling, not to say creepy.

 

She was interrupted in her thoughts by the beeps of a droid, an R2 unit delivering coffee around the office. It beeped happily, offering her a choice of strong, ersatz milk or chocolate flavored artificial coffee. Besides being the local barista, R2 often accompanied her on missions, but while they were in the office he always handled the coffee for everyone, especially in the morning. C3 had a weak spot for this droid; every time they crossed paths he would talk for hours about how smart that droid was. However, C3 was a chicken next to R2, always thinking before acting, and truthfully Rei had to admit that R2’s bravery defied even that of humans.

 

“Thanks R2, I’ll take your milk special today.” Rei smile faintly at the droid, who beeped happily back to her.

 

The room suddenly fell completely quiet and Rei blinked as she grabbed the coffee from R2.

 

Then she stood up and looked around. The reason for the sudden silence was standing in the entrance in the shape of greyish hair, wise wrinkles, and a walking stick in her hands. Leia Organa. One of Coruscant’s most respected Senators. Her stern, piercing gaze commanded only respect; whispers rose from the office as most officers saluted the Senator, who was not known to appear in public very often, let alone in the Police Department. The matter had to be of utmost importance and Rei immediately noticed that Leia was wearing casual clothes instead of her usual formal, elegant robes.

 

When the Senator noticed her, she closed the distance between them; Rei stood before the elder with a slumped posture and slack expression. They watched each other knowingly and both women fell into a warm and tight embrace.

 

“Rei…I’m so sorry about Lor.”

 

Rei tried to compose herself but was failing miserably. She’d been a mentor, a friend…almost a mother to her. She was the one who’d presented her to Lor, who had taken her under her wing in the Police Department. The previous attack had driven her thoughts away from her mourning that now came galloping back into her mind.

 

“I-I’m sorry I failed him,” stuttered Rei.

 

“There is nothing you could have done,” whispered Leia in her ear before untangling herself from her protégée, pressing her lips together as she gazed upon her in firm determination. The elder then scanned her surroundings, finding Poe standing straight, right next to them.

 

“Senator Organa, it is a pleasure,” he said, offering his hand. “Please, this way, to the meeting room.”

 

They shook hands and strolled over toward the meeting room. “I need this to be strictly private. You, me, Agent R and F. Nobody else,” commanded the Senator.

 

“As you wish, Senator. Rei, can you fetch Agent F?”

 

Rei raced to Finn’s office and they both rushed to the meeting room. They all sat down across from Leia. With joined hands over the table, she then observed the two carefully. “Agent P, I take it you will replace Lor as head of the Bureau?”

 

Poe cleared his throat and straightened. “I believe so, yes. Not that I was seeking the position,” he answered, embarrassment breaking on his handsome features.

 

“Of course not. Of course not. But now, as head of the Intelligence Bureau, you are therefore to be made aware of what I am about to say,” Leia stopped and took a deep breath. “We need to start a surveillance program on the Supreme Leader.”

 

The trio’s eyes widened in shock. “On Supreme Leader Snoke? But why?” asked Rei in disbelief.

 

Leia’s gaze narrowed. “As you all know, Andropov Snoke has been seeking to tighten his grip on our ever-fading Senate. Myself, along with fellow Senators, are fighting to keep the last remains of our Democracy in place. Snoke has managed to remain in power for too long, and I fear this will lead to the Senate’s complete destruction. People are so immersed and involved with machines, they seem to have lost their capacity to think and act for themselves and they follow this leader as a sort of God. Have you had any success at discovering new elements of the “reflexio virus”?

 

Rei raised an eyebrow. “So...you think he has something to do with this outbreak? With the murders?”

 

Leia outright smirked. “You are sharp, as always my young one. Yes, I believe there is a possibility he is behind this, and if it is the case, I need to know why. He has been withholding crucial information from us about this virus and plans on making a public announcement soon, the nature of which, I am afraid, I do not know.”

 

Poe and Rei peered at each other; Poe nodded to Rei, as if giving her his consent. Rei then explained everything that had happened to them with this mysterious stranger and how he’d broken into her house the night before. She had to calm Leia down, assuring her she was fine and that she’d been asked to be put on the case.

 

“There may be a link between this mysterious creature and the reflexio virus. There was definitely something strange about him. I personally think he’s an android and seeing his reactions, it’s possible he’s infected with the virus. If I can find his trail again, this could lead us to something,” emphasized Rei.

 

Although the Senator seemed uneasy with the idea, she trusted Rei’s instincts. “I also contacted Dr. Hux from the Starkiller Corporation; apparently, he is also investigating this virus and seeking a cure. Agent F, I believe you worked at Starkiller before, didn’t you?”

 

Finn’s expression turned dead serious. “Indeed, I did. I wasn’t involved in the creation of the androids though. My job there was marketing their products. Although…” Finn’s voice trailed away as he stared into the distance absentmindedly.

 

“Although…?” asked Leia.

 

Finn pondered his words. “I witnessed Dr. Hux’s cruelty toward androids. I know they are machines, but...once he murdered one right after its birth before my eyes. It was a woman. If you want my honest opinion, Dr. Hux is a genius but he’s also got god complex, obsessed with artificial intelligence and creation.”

 

“So not a reliable or trustworthy source?” asked the Senator.

 

“Definitely not. I resigned because I didn’t agree with their ethics. I was used by them, also, as if I was a machine myself. There were definitely some shadowy things happening there.” He shrugged.

 

Leia pressed her lips and frowned. “You only confirm my suspicions, Agent F. As a former employee, is there any way you can gather information from within? Old colleagues?”

 

“No, unfortunately,” answered Finn honestly.

 

Rei’s mind lit with a sudden idea. “Leia, I think…what if we send someone from our ranks undercover there? As an employee?”

 

All of them instantly focused on Rei. “What do you mean?” inquired the Senator.

 

“I know it sounds crazy but…as you know, Rose, my childhood friend, is an expert in droids and artificial intelligence. She’s the best mechanic in Coruscant. I’ve been wanting to present her to the Department; she could be a powerful informant if she were to infiltrate the Starkiller Corporation,” explained Rei.

 

“I like this,” assented Poe. “Since she’s not linked to us for the moment, the cover would be perfect.”

 

Leia took a deep breath. “I agree. But would she be willing to take such a risk? She has to know the Starkiller Corporation is a big deal and I truly don’t know what is happening in there. This could be dangerous. Those are private grounds, where the Senate, unfortunately, has no influence.”

 

Rei thought for a moment. “Rose has been willing to prove herself for a long time. She’s always been off the radar. I think she will agree.”

 

Finn cut in. “I could monitor her from here, since I know the Corporation. I could be her direct link to us.”

 

Poe then took advantage of the silence. “We need a name for this operation - something that won’t betray us.”

 

Leia’s face lit. “Oh, I already have one. The Resistance Program - codename, “Operation “R”. I assume full consequences of this Program, even if you will understand my involvement has to stay secret.”

 

Suddenly someone knocked on the door furiously. Poe stood up immediately, annoyed. “I gave strict orders to not be disturbed. This better be important. Come in!” he grumbled.

 

Agent K - for “Kaydel” - slid through the door, glancing at Poe and Rei. “Agent R, someone just eye-witnessed our stranger. The helmet matches your description, with a black, Harvey V-Air hoverbike! He’s in the Old Chinatown neighborhood, next to central plaza.”

 

Rei stared at Kaydel, the intel sinking in. “I have to go!”

 

Finn quickly rose to his feet. “I’ll go with you!”

 

“Rei, Finn, wait!” shouted Poe, and the two companions turned toward him. “Remember, we need him alive. Try and catch him.”

 

“It wasn’t my intention to kill him. I’ll take my hoverboard!” said Rei with a huge grin on her face while she raced out of the conference room.

 

“What!? No! that’s- don’t-!”

 

But before Poe could say anything, Rei was already out in the corridor, running toward her office with Finn following behind.

 

Poe face-palmed and turned to Leia. “What am I going to do with her?”

 

The elder Senator shrugged and offered an apologetic smile.

                                                     

*

 

Minutes later, Finn and Rei were zooming through Coruscant’s skyscrapers. Rei had given him the controls, although she was a better pilot, but she needed to be ready to dash out any minute. The day was very dark, giving the impression of a permanent twilight, while rays of colors shone throughout the city. Finn was slightly taken off balance as he drove them right through a massive virtual pink-haired doll who was dancing around in a tutu.

 

“I’ll never get used to those!” he shouted.

 

A whole squadron of hovercars were following them, police sirens blasting out loud. Rei picked up their radio communicator.

 

“Attention. Attention. Agent R to all units on “Chinatown Mission”. Sirens and lights off. I repeat. Sirens and lights off, or intruder will know we are here.”

 

“Good thinking!” said Finn.

 

“I mean hell, they really don’t know how to make a discreet approach, do they?” asked Rei. She picked up the radio once more. “Agent K, do you copy?”

 

“Yes. Agent R, I copy,” Kaydel’s voice came out of the transistor.

 

“Please send geolocalization to the car map,” asked Rei. Old Chinatown was an enormous neighborhood. There was no way she would find him in this mess if she didn’t know the exact spot.

 

“Right, on it!”

 

Rei turned their car GPS on, which displayed a 3-D holomap right in front of them. A red dot indicated where the eye-witness had spotted him. Rei knew the place. She’d been there. It was creepy, gloomy and very dangerous. Shootings between mafias and drug cartels occurred regularly, and the Police often had to intervene. But that was not the mission of her Bureau. Is he related to a mafia? Are we therefore on the wrong trail? Rei thought to herself, slightly crestfallen before directing Finn. “Ok, you have to turn right at the next intersection. Slow down now so we don’t seem too suspicious.”

 

Rei took the radio device again. “To all cars following us. Stay behind, on the alert. We will go in first,” said Rei, as she now turned out all the lights of their car cabin.

 

The hovercar swooped almost to the ground, then glided slowly along the streets. While Rei was carefully scanning her surroundings, she felt her pulse rise as they approached the exact spot indicated on the map. 

 

“There!” pointed Rei in sudden triumph. “The black bike. It’s that one!” It was parked before an old building, with Chinese-type lanterns hanging out on both sides of the entrance door, sending a halo of dim light on its façade, where a sign read Blue Loto. “Stop the car and back up, there’s a free spot over there. That way we can observe what’s going on.”

 

Finn pulled the car back and came to a grinding halt. He parked the hovercar and turned off the ignition. Meanwhile, Rei picked up the radio. “Agent K, to all cars on “Chinatown mission”. We found him, I repeat, objective found. Waiting for subject to regain his bike. I’ll send the exact location. Agent K, please send any data you can find. Place is called… Blue Loto.”

 

Kaydel’s voice came back through the radio. “No specific data. Wait, hum, it’s…a restaurant I believe?”

 

“A restaurant?” Rei frowned. That was…most unexpected. She glanced toward Finn. “I bet that’s a façade. A front to keep appearances.”

 

“Rei - look!” Finn’s voice rose as he pointed toward the entrance, urging her to sink into her seat to avoid being seen.

 

Rei peered through the windshield and her heart dropped to her stomach. A tall, black figure with a familiar helmet came out, scanning both sides of the street and putting away something inside his coat. He pulled his collar up his neck, and aimed for the bike.

 

“That’s him! I recognize his mask! Start the car, go slowly over, I’ll try to stun him.”

 

“Roger,” answered Finn as he started the hovercar.

 

Unfortunately for them, the figure, who had already reached the bike, straightened like a board at the sound, and his head veered right in their direction.

 

Rei could have sworn the eyes behind that helmet went directly to hers, for it seemed he had frozen on the spot. However, he quickly recovered, and without losing one more second, he turned the bike on and whisked upward.

 

Fuck! Follow him!” shouted Rei.

 

“That’s exactly what I’m doing,” Finn hissed. The hovercar spiked upwards, the propulsion of the engines gluing them to their seats. They managed to follow the black hoverbike as it spiraled upward and then slid furiously between the skyscrapers and into traffic, trying to lose them. Finn had to jerk the wheel left and right to avoid crashing into the dozens of transportation engines along the way.

 

“Shit, he’s a good pilot!” exclaimed Rei. Is there anything that creature can’t do? she thought hastily to herself with gritted teeth. “This is not going to work! We’re gonna get killed if we continue this. I have to follow him myself!”

 

“Fuck, I hate to admit it but think I agree, this is madness!” said Finn, panic in his voice as he continued to steer the wheel in every direction. “I really hate to fly!”

 

She untied her seatbelt and jumped onto the backseat, where a wide board, shaped like an old-fashioned skateboard rested. She hurriedly grabbed it and pushed a button to open the car door, which slid open upward. Wind gushed inside, causing the car to lose balance; it tilted on the side without warning.

 

“Wow, steady or I’m gonna fall!” shrieked Rei; she grabbed her helmet on the back seat and quickly shoved it over her head. As Finn managed to secure the car, she moved the board outside the car and settled on the edge of the seat, an immense void before her. Finn continued to rocket between hovercars and transportations and the wind threatened to yank the board from her hands. Clenching her teeth, she succeeded in strapping her feet onto the board and ignited it by pressing a button on the side. An intense roar and yellow light came out from underneath the board which had a built-in motor; its edges lit with pink flashy rows of light.

 

“Rei- be careful with that thing, you know what happened to you last time!” Finn cried out. 

 

“I know! I made some improvements on it! Trust me, I’ll get him!” she yelled as the wind kept blowing in her face. “I have a tracker on me! I’ll contact you when I’m on the ground!”

 

“Good luck!”

 

Adrenaline rose dramatically in her veins as she contemplated the emptiness before her. She inhaled sharply, she launched forward into the vacuum. 

 

“Wo-hoooo” she screamed as she free-fell and did several back flips with the board in mid-air. With her right foot, she pushed a pedal and the board’s motor roared; the propulsion allowing her to steady it in a horizontal position after several spins. The board was her most prized invention; her feet were strapped and fastened securely, while encased pedals allowed her to accelerate and break; most of the trick was being able to steer the board. It had taken her months to master it, and even if she’d had accidents before, it didn't stop her from seeking the sensation of freedom when she rode it.

 

She bent her knees and focused on her objective. Now was not the moment to have fun. Steering the board, she pushed the accelerator a bit more and flew her way into traffic, skating right and left between the cars, trying to catch up with the strangers’ powerful hoverbike.

 

She managed to get close enough and took out her laser gun. If she stunned him in mid-air, he would fall and die from the height of the fall. She needed him alive.

 

She aimed for the bike’s muffler, for she knew that a direct hit would screw the machine enough for it fail and he would be forced to land. However, as if on cue, the stranger pulled out of traffic in another direction, forcing Rei to follow him as he zoomed between the skyscrapers. Surely he had seen her in the rearview mirror. He accelerated and tried to lose her with speed. Little did he know that Rei had recently upgraded the board with a turbo-motor.

 

She pressed her feet to the board, and soon, it was stuttering as it reached its maximum capacity. The hoverboard careened its way between more cars and obstacles; Rei had to tilt the board swiftly and complete a 360º spin to save herself from a car that came speeding right at her from the opposite direction. Shit, that was close, she thought. Clenching her jaw, and sweating profusely now, Rei managed to steady the board again and keep pace behind the target.

 

She directed her laser gun to the muffler again but the shot missed its mark. The stranger turned around swiftly, staring right at her. His hand moved to his belt and soon, he was pointing a gun directly at her. The red laser beam missed her by inches; she had to swerve the board before taking a new shot, and this time, she hit the muffler. The laser beam caused a small explosion on the side of the hoverbike, which instantly started to lose altitude.  She took aim again: this time, at the stranger’s midriff. There was no way she was going to lose him on ground; she had to wound him. She fired, and the laser slashed his side, causing blood to gush out and his body to arch in pain. The hoverbike tilted onto the side and soon, it was swooping toward the streets below, and dark, gray smoke coming out from the side.

 

Rei angled her body forward and raced behind her mark, the bike now plunging forward. Rei didn’t know if it was because of the motor failure or if he was directing it that way. All she knew is that nearing the ground, the stranger steered the engine back up, causing it to crash on its lower frame in the middle of a crowded sidewalk where dozens of people screamed and fled all around.

 

Clouds of thick smoke erupted and filled the air. Rei pushed the brakes and landed smoothly with her board before unstrapping her feet and racing toward the accident, but before she knew it, there was a sudden explosion. She protected herself with her arms and when she pulled them down, the smoke and fire were so dense she couldn’t see a thing; she took her helmet off.

 

She suddenly hoped the stranger hadn’t died in the explosion. Before she could entertain the ramifications of that thought, a silhouette emerged from the smoke, morphing into the solid black figure of her assailant against the light of the fire, helmet still on.

 

Rei gulped. His gloves and coat were fuming with smoke - surely they had caught fire. He took his long black coat off with a swift move, leaving him with a black long-sleeved shirt and a synthetic leather pants which fitted his massive figure way too tightly. His pants on the left side were torn apart over his knee, showing another artificial limb. He took his gloves off and threw them to the ground. The right hand was indeed mecho, while the left was organic. Her gaze darted up to his under the helmet.

 

He walked slowly toward her, fists balled up at his side.

 

He was so tall, she instinctively took a step back and threw her helmet on the ground. She released her sword from the belt holster and ignited it. The weapon extended to its full size, blazing blue on both half-moon’s ends. As soon as she did, she realized her crucial mistake. She should have stunned him on the spot instead of fighting, but his appearance made her off balance. And maybe, deep inside, she was eager for another fight. He was the first that matched her in skills and techniques and her insides were throbbing with anticipation.

 

However, her foe didn’t seem impressed at all. He continued to close the distance between them without taking his sword out and those lips were drawing Rei’ attention again. Without really knowing why, she backed up instead of attacking; soon, she was only a few inches away from the wall. Rei raised her sword and slid a foot to the side in defense. 

 

Out of nowhere, he launched onto her, causing her to shift backward from the suddenness of his attack and crash into the wall in fright; with a flick of both hands, he threw two broad, curved metal clasps around one of her arms and a wrist, which served to pin her to the brick surface behind her. She cried out as her sword dropped to the ground; she instinctively tried to kick him wildly with her feet, for her arms were tightly locked to the wall.

 

“Let me go! You coward!”

 

Surprisingly, he didn’t pursue his attack. Instead, he unexpectedly crouched before her, his mouth twitching while he held his bleeding side. She’d been so concentrated on those damn lips, she hadn’t seen the wound. And now, Rei could comprehend the tattoo she’d seen the previous day on his knuckles. It read “no god, no law” with some other scriptures she couldn’t distinguish on his fingers - it made her shiver from head to toe.

 

His head flashed upward again, looking straight at her.

 

“You’re a feisty little thing….Who are you?” asked the stranger in a low, deep voice.

 

Rei was completely unsettled by the question, but she didn’t show it. Her brows knitted in a deep frown.

 

“I should be the one asking you that, you stalker!” hissed Rei.

 

“I was merely checking my information,” he said, almost casually. Rei’s blood boiled as she tried to free herself, but those metal clasps held her tight against the wall.

 

“Checking information? By crashing into my house and scaring the shit out of me? You should review your methods,” she spat with blatant sarcasm.

 

The stranger tilted his head to the side, obviously taking in her appearance for he scanned her body from top to bottom. The brazen move wasn’t lost on Rei. This man was a predator. Hate surged from the deepest and ugliest part of her body. She wanted to murder him.

 

“You want to kill me,” said the man, still crouching before her. He didn’t ask. It was a statement.

 

“Point on. That’s what happens when you’re being hunted by a creature in a mask,” she sneered defiantly.

 

The man tilted his head again, as if offended by what she’d just said. Unexpectedly, he brought his hands to his helmet and Rei’s breath hitched as she saw him unclasping his protections.

 

The helmet came off - and she saw a shock of pitch-black hair flowing out before he straightened and peered challengingly at her.

 

Rei had to stifle a gasp; her lips parted in awe.

 

The youthful, pale skinned face staring at her matched many words, but “creature” was definitely not one of them. A sharp, square jaw, prominent nose, and above all, dark obsidian eyes which were almost soft. They struck Rei by their vulnerability and what laid simmering behind them: an intensity, a fire she had rarely seen. His hair was very short on one side, showing a shaved striped pattern on his skull but the rest of it was voluminous black long locks. A simple thick hoop metal earring resided in his left earlobe while a rod crossed the top shell of the same ear. Last but certainly not least, a long, deep scar crossed his right cheek from his neck to above his eyebrow.

 

Upon seeing her stunned reaction, a ghost of a smirk formed at the corner of his impossibly plush pink mouth. Rei recalled his tongue wetting his finger; his thumb on her lips and a shiver went down her spine.

 

K-yl0 moved himself nearer, towering like a skyscraper over her, and his bare organic hand raised to brush her cheek, but she turned her face toward the other side, refusing to meet his gaze.

 

“Who are you? Why were you following me?” he rumbled, dropping his hand.

 

She now scowled at him from below. “I think that would be obvious. To arrest you, murderous snake,” she snapped through gritted teeth.

 

At her words, his previously lit face closed like an oyster. He stayed silent and simply stared at her, as if her words had wounded him.

 

That was not the reaction she had expected. Did he do anything normally?

 

“What are you going to do with me?” she inquired before cursing herself for that question.

 

Indeed, he quirked an eyebrow, the double-tone not lost on him. He neared his face to hers.

 

“Oh, I’d like to teach you many things,” his breath whispered and Rei found herself flushing pink. He was about to add something, but sirens echoed from different points in the distance. He straightened to his full height and his fists tightened at his sides; he still held his helmet in one hand.

 

“Your friends are here again. Always nosing around. I’m afraid I gotta get going,” he sniggered with contempt.

 

He veered toward her again and his gaze lingered over her face, the silence growing extremely uncomfortable between them. Rei decided to take the risk.

 

“Who are you? Who are you working for? Why are you murdering people?” the words fell out of her mouth with pleading honesty.

 

Her captor chuckled smugly at the question.  

 

“None of your business, little rat,” he scoffed distantly.

 

“I am not a rat, and you are just a monster!” she hissed venomously.

 

Pain and mortification washed on his features. He seemed on the verge of breaking apart.

 

“Yes I am,” he agreed, jaw quivering, fragile eyes burning right through hers, rattling her to the core. Are those truly the eyes of an assassin? She swallowed, the dawn of conflict rising dangerously in her chest; she was utterly unable to tear her gaze away from his. Her heart pounded so strongly in her rib cage she was certain he could hear it.

 

It seemed he was unable to decide whether to leave or not. The sirens were growing louder and louder. After a few moments which seemed like eternity, he put his helmet back on, and he was about to leave when he turned one last time to face her.

 

“See you around.”

 

In a blur, he disappeared at the corner of the next street, leaving Rei pinned to the wall, heart and mind whirling in an interior hurricane. 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

K-yl0 glided in the darkness of the streets, with the shadows of the night. Only neon blue and pink lights reached his dark eyes behind the helmet’s visor. His gait was steady though he kept checking over his shoulder to be certain he wasn’t being followed. He slipped onto a creepy, gloomy street, where immigrants had drawn tents and street fires against the cold. He didn’t spare them a glance as he passed by.

 

He pushed open a door housed in a huge building whose top was lost within the smog of the city. The door slammed shut behind him, echoing within the vastness of the metal and cement structure. He turned on a light, which revealed long, infinite corridors. He walked continuously until he reached an elevator; upon entering it, he pressed the last button on the top. In the mirror encased within the elevator all he could see reflected was his face, masked by his helmet, showing only his lips which were almost trembling.

 

K-yl0 pulse was rising; he swallowed and shut his eyes for a brief moment. He took a deep breath, trying to rein in himself and his roiling emotions which increased each time he was summoned for reports. He nervously checked his wristwatch:  12:55 am. He was on time. He had learned the hard way his Master strongly disapproved of being late.

 

The elevator reached its destination and K-yl0 stepped out. Before him was a corridor and a massive door, next to which four guardians dressed in red samurai clothes and wearing red and golden trimmed masks stood. Each had electronically advanced swords tightly secured in their gloved hands. K-yl0 leaned into the frame of the doorway.

 

“Come in, Son,” echoed a raspy voice from the inside, making K-yl0 shiver.

 

K-yl0 inhaled sharply and took a step in. A vast crimson room with heavily decorated leather-like furniture revealed itself. K-yl0 moved forward with heavy steps. On the opposite side of the room, sitting on a throne seat enclosed within the wall’s structure, a bald old man with distinctive scars scattered on his face and skull was observing K-yl0 attentively. 

 

"Son, how good it is to see you," said the man in a gravelly whisper.

 

K-yl0 bent down on one knee; his head lowered so he could see only the ground through his visor. He stayed silent.

 

“Have you succeeded in your latest mission?” asked the elder, his tone well-guarded.

 

“Yes, Master. All three have been taken care of. I await new orders,” responded K-yl0’s deep guttural voice.

 

“Ah. So you took care of the laboratory, I presume.”

 

“Indeed. He was my first task. Doctor Tyrell no longer lives,” hastily assured K-yl0.

 

“Good, good. I hear you were injured in a chase?”

 

There was a beat of silence. How did he know?

 

“It’s nothing.”

 

“Let me see it,” commanded the man.

 

“It’s really isn’t-”

 

“It is my wish to see it,” he decreed with a hiss.

 

K-yl0 gulped as the individual he called Master came creeping next to him. He was dressed in a simple golden robe with slippers made of the same fabric. He had probably changed from his earlier, public appearance, K-yl0 assumed.

 

“Where were you hit?” he inquired.

 

K-yl0 opened his coat and lifted his black long sleeved shirt, revealing a wide white blood-stained bandage he’d hastily drawn around his midriff and side. He hadn’t the opportunity to properly heal the wound yet.

 

Crystal blue eyes contemplated the bandage with a glint of perverse satisfaction, for a small and almost imperceptible curve appeared on the corner of his thin, almost non-existent lips. He bent down and trailed a gnarly finger over his bandage; K-yl0 had to use all his willpower not to flinch.

 

“Who gave this to you?”

 

K-yl0’s heart raced, as images of the woman’s green-honeyed eyes bore into his, calling him a monster. There were so beautiful.

 

He cleared his throat.

 

“A girl,” he answered, waiting as a child for the incoming slap.

 

“A girl gave this to you, the mighty killer?” the man mocked.

 

Kylo lifted his head, now eyeing his master from behind his visor.

 

“She is trained in the martial arts. Stronger than she knows,” he said, defending his pride, before adding, more hesitantly. “I…believe she is tracking something or someone,” he added, his senses alert and scanning his master’s face. “She seemed to know I was working for someone.”

 

The bald man’s face closed up, and a deep, skeptical frown drew on his hideous features. “Do you know who she is?” he demanded. 

 

K-yl0 hesitated for a split second.

 

“No. She had no uniform, but she did try to kill me.” 

 

Golden robes trailed behind the decrepit old man as he limped back to the throne. He crashed down onto the seat and his long pale fingers rubbed his chin, attention directed inwardly as if he was planning his next move.

 

“Do you know where to find this girl?”

 

“It can be done, Master.”

 

“Good. I want to know who she is, who works for and above all, what she is looking for. Remember to keep your face hidden. It's not safe for you to be seen.”

 

“Your desire is my bidding, Master," K-yl0 bowed respectfully and secretly rejoiced his plan had worked.

 

A hand waved dismissively. “You may go”

 

K-yl0 raised to his full height, bowed his head one last time, and aimed for the entrance once again. Before he could reach it, a figure dressed in a black formal lab coat slipped into view. Blue eyes and red-ginger hair revealed itself and K-yl0 froze.

 

“Kay-Why-El-Zero”, scoffed the smirking redhead contemptuously, his hands clasped behind his rigid back. “What a pleasant surprise.”

 

“Doctor Hux.” He acknowledged coldly. 

 

The air filled with thick tension under their silent stare-down.

 

The old man on the throne spoke out loud. “Doctor Hux, I have just set him on a new mission. Come here, we have much to speak about, and it is getting late.”

 

Before joining with him, Doctor Hux gave a last condescending sneer at K-yl0 and without another word, walked away. K-yl0 pressed his lips and directed himself toward the elevator.

 

As soon as he was gone, the ginger-haired young man addressed his elder. “Supreme Leader Snoke, it has come to my attention that K-yl0 has been acting strangely. He didn’t report on time and he took twice as long to complete his recent assignment,” he said stiffly.

 

“Add to that he was shot by a girl,” replied Snoke acerbically.

 

“A girl?” asked Hux incredulously.

 

“Yes. I saw the wound with my own eyes. He claims he doesn’t know her. I directed him to find out who she is and who she works for.”

 

Doctor Hux’s lips curved downwards and he furrowed but stayed quiet, before the leader continued warily.

 

“Keep an eye on him."

 

***

 

A week passed by.

 

Rei was standing in the entrance down of her office building, occasionally glancing left and right. She checked her wristwatch, where a green light flashed. A message.

- Rose Ti’co -

5m late sorry ☹

 

Rei was relieved to see she was on her way. She hadn't seen her childhood friend in weeks and she was eager to introduce Rose to her friends at the office. It would be marvelous to work together. The two girls' lives had been intertwined since early childhood, when Rei had been struggling to survive, scavenging alone in the dumps and shanty towns of Coruscant. Rose, whose parents were Vietnamese immigrants to the former United States, died in the aftermath of the Fire Apocalypse leaving her and her sister Paige on the streets of ex-L.A. Paige, the eldest of the two, died shortly after, killed right in front of her little sister as she tried to protect her. They'd unfortunately stolen some food from criminals and Paige was shot without a second thought, leaving Rose as the only survivor of the Ti'co family. Rei met her one day, curled up like a cat in the corner of a wrecked ship, crying her heart out. She'd shared a slice of ersatz bread she'd stolen with Rose and from that day on, they were inseparable. That is, until Rei joined the Police and moved to her own place near headquarters.

 

“Rei!” shouted a voice, shaking her out of her memories. Peering up at her was a petite Asian girl with a round face, straight black hair curling slightly at the ends and a wonderful, inviting smile.

 

The two women crashed into a tight embrace. “I’m so happy to see you,” whispered Rei in her ear.

 

“Same. I can’t believe it’s been so long,” responded Rose, hugging her tighter.

 

At last, they untangled from each other and Rei's hand grabbed both Rose's shoulders. "I can't wait, let's go up to the meeting room!" she said, almost shrieking with excitement.

 

With that, both women entered the building behind them, oblivious that, from the top roof of the opposing building, a black figure lowered the binoculars he was observing them closely with.

 

He sat on the edge of the rooftop, thinking about the past days. It had been an entire week that he had been trailing her; a damn whirlwind of a week. Discovering the way she lived triggered something inside him. It was a human life, something he, as an android, didn’t know of. It was a life with...company. Her bright, joyful smile around her companions had awoken unknown emotions within him and highlighted how lonely he truly felt. Emotions he would have dismissed as useless only days before. Emotions he wasn’t supposed to experience. Nonetheless, they were there, clear as crystalline water. What was happening to him? Had he contracted that infamous reflectio virus?

 

And, he’d finally discovered her name, by eavesdropping on a call from her.

 

Rei…

 

It resonated in his mind like a distant, long-lost vague memory, causing him sleepless nights.

 

Even androids had to rest, at some point, since much of their make up was organic. But blurred memories and the new images of her - along with other things - kept him awake. Indeed, one night, several days ago, she’d undressed without her curtains drawn, standing at the window and gazing out as if she’d voluntarily…exposed herself to him. She’d stood there, bathed in light, as the shape of her naked body appeared solidly through his binoculars. He had been forced to withdraw behind a cement pillar on the rooftop for her not to see him. He then observed her as if she were lost in distant thoughts, occasionally touching the glass window. The thought of her knowing he was spying on her crossed his mind - but then, why…why would she show herself like this? It was utter madness. An invention of his artificial mind. Because, of course, it was impossible, right? He attempted to push away the thought but had thoroughly been unable to steer his laser binoculars away from her completely naked body, causing a rush of heat and his cock to harden in his pants. He’d grabbed his bulge and the sudden and unknown need for relief invaded his whole body. He cursed and applied all his will-power to rein himself in. What was this woman doing to him?

 

K-yl0 had never had a woman, however, he was no stranger to what sex was. Many prostitutes had offered their services to him even if he’d never been interested in their attentions. Once, a brunette with a very nice ass had caught his attention and even made him crook his neck in a bar, causing him to realize that, like humans, he had sexual drive. He knew men and androids had intercourse; many prostitutes were androids themselves, made for human men’s pleasures. But the thought of him getting in bed with a woman had not crossed the horizon of his needs…until now. Worse, as the days passed, that need circled around his mind like a vulture, morphing into an unquenchable thirst.

 

As he sat on the edge of the rooftop, his mind drifted to the night before…

 

 

He rolled over in his sheets so many times they ended up wrapped around him untidily. The image of her naked frame in front of him assailed his mind and body and he was powerless to woo them away; out of desperation, he dipped a hand into his briefs and pulled his throbbing cock free. He buried his head in the pillow, grunting as he started to stroke himself and closed his eyes. This was something he had never done, and the new experience thrilled him as much as it scared him. But soon, as he discovered this new part of himself, pleasure rose from unknown depths of his body as he palmed himself gently, until his imagination and fantasies illuminated the whole experience in a new light…

 

What are you going to do with me? she’d asked, pinned to the wall that day, her hazel gaze boring into his…such fierceness in those eyes. He remembered how she beheld his face when he took his helmet off and he sensed like a flickering shadow, a hint of desire in her stare. 

 

I’d like to teach you many things

 

A clear vision formed before him, where his dark orbs roamed over her naked body in front of the window, exposing the slope of her shoulders, the curve of her hips. His mind drifted to what it would be like to be with her, to touch her, to press his lips to hers, to trail his tongue down her neck to her small breasts, to lick her entire body. In his wildest fantasies, he dared to think of how she would moan under his ministrations.

 

He pumped his cock a bit faster.

 

It felt so good he started panting. Pleasure invaded him, increasing with his mounting desire. His body and mind traveled down a dark road, to an unknown realm. As Rei's naked image danced before his closed eyes, lust and passion whispered enchanted music in his ear, luring him in these dangerous unfamiliar regions of the kingdom of darkness. It rose within him, strong and powerful, bewitching his entire being.

 

There was no possible lie. He wanted her. To bury himself inside her. To claim her.

 

Possessiveness consumed him like a fever.

 

He clung to Rei’s naked skin and lips, solid and clear in his mind as if they were real. His hand moved on his erection harder and faster as he sweat beads of lust onto his sheets, biting on his lips to prevent him from moaning. As he imagined himself over her, thrusting into her core, he felt his cock and balls tighten. A deep grunt raised from his throat and he threw his head backward as thick liquids spurred from his tip, coating his tattooed black knuckles with a creamy, white substance. His lungs were left seeking for air and his breath coming back to normality, he fell - at last - into Morpheus's welcoming arms.

 

….

 

A light turning on in a window on the floor level where Rei worked brought his attention back to the present. He cursed himself once more for drifting so absent-mindedly into his hopeless fantasies and focused his binoculars again on his objective. Rei had entered a room with several people; the girl which had just joined her downstairs was with her, the black man who had also chased him the other day, and another man with dark short hair and tanned skin. This man drew the metal curtains down, but K-yl0 had more than one trick under his sleeve. He took a glove off of his organic hand and adjusted the tiny binoculars' settings. The de-materializing mode he worked on to enhance the device was now activated: it allowed him to see through solid matter. He focused again and the curtains' material decomposed before his eyes, enabling him to see the room as if he were there himself.

 

Rei and her companions sat around a table, tablets spread before them, from which 3-D blue images soon appeared. The group talked for several minutes and K-yl0 could see how serious the conversation was since everyone’s eyebrows were furrowed. Suddenly the images changed and he zoomed in, getting a glimpse of the 3-D image of the Starkiller Corporation building.

 

Why were they looking at the Corporation building?

 

But before his thoughts could linger on this new piece of information, something caught his attention through the binoculars. A tiny drone was slowly moving into his view outside the window. He activated the micro-focus mode to evaluate the drone.

 

His heartbeat increased when he recognized exactly what type of device this was. It was a spy drone. One that could take images of places and people without being seen. He used them many times during his missions but they were a rare and expensive tool. Equipment only the government or a rich private company could afford.

 

He released the binoculars and glanced nervously around him. Who else was spying on them? There was no one else on the roof. He scanned the surrounding ones as well but no one was in sight. His black brow knitted darkly.

 

He turned his attention back to the room and blinked. Rei was standing up, her lips moving fast as she was obviously disturbed. She was addressing another woman who had come into the office. She rushed to get out of the room, while the others were looking at her with flabbergasted faces, then the dark-haired man he didn't know grabbed her wrist and whirled her around, preventing her from leaving.

 

Upon seeing Rei’s stunned face, and without knowing why, K-yl0 felt an ugly, murderous feeling flowing through his bloodstream. He wanted to kill him. He made mental note to do so, whenever the occasion presented itself.

 

The man finally released her wrist - and K-yl0 let out a breath he hadn’t noticed he was holding - before Rei stormed out of the room, followed by the black man. He arched an eyebrow and scratched his nose.

 

What was going on? Had they sensed they were being watched?

 

He directed his attention again to the entrance of the building, and, immediately saw Rei dash out next to her companion toward a police hovercar.

 

Without hesitation, K-yl0 raced towards his new hoverbike- a newly updated model since the crash - and leaped on, zooming off the rooftop. He followed the Police hovercar from afar, hiding within the dense traffic. Before he could make sense of where they were going, he realized that, in his haste, he had forgotten his helmet and his glove on the roof! Fuck, too late to go back, he thought, I'll just have to stay far enough away.

 

He followed them through neon lights, complex skyscarpers and gigantic ads to one of the older parts of the city. The structures here were half abandoned. Shabby lookin, ancient, twenty-first-century buildings still stood tall. Exactly the ones where he'd met Rei the first time.

 

Rei and her companion landed in the entrance of a building where a man stood visibly waiting for them, while K-yl0 set his hoverbike on static mode and observed them from above. They got out of the car and talked to the man who pointed toward the old building, seemingly afraid.

 

Unexpectedly, laser gun lights flashed within the building and K-yl0 saw beams of colors through the windows as if a battle was raging on the inside. Rei and her partner drew their laser guns. Rei entered the building while the man made a call through the car radio before stepping in himself.

 

Seconds morphed into minutes, which seemed like eternity. K-yl0’s mind raced to understand what exactly was going on. He steered the bike closer to the building, settling next to a window, so maybe he could— 

 

— laser beams flashed from everywhere, windows breaking apart, from which dust powdered out; Rei screamed.

 

“Finn!! Help!”

 

“Peanut!”

 

“Finnnnn!” she yelled again; a desperate, frightened cry. 

 

“Where are you!?” shouted her companion before K-yl0 heard more gunfire.

 

His heart fell to his stomach.

 

He shouldn’t — it was against the rules — he was forbidden to do this — but, acting on pure instincts, he raced to station the hoverbike in midair under a window, and slipped into the building, drawing his weapon.

 

More screams. He heard thumping noises of running steps as he crept toward a door and peered out into a corridor, which gave to a staircase. Light poured from the destructed ceiling, cutting through the thick darkness of the ancient place, bathing the dust-filled interior with a strange, eerie yellow beam. He suddenly heard footstep racing up, and soon, Rei appeared; she ran through another apartment door on the same level as his. He was about to come out of his hiding spot and trail her, but two tall men followed her in - one, huge bald one and the other sporting a Mohawk.

 

He turned around swiftly — noises now came from behind him, and he quickly understood the door she had entered gave into the same apartment he was standing in. As the footsteps came closer, he concluded she was coming his way.

 

As silent as a cat, K-yl0 approached another closed door in the room, before hearing a threatening raw voice.

 

“Come one, sweetie, we’re not going to hurt you, come over here. We know you’re unarmed, just surrender.”

 

She lost her gun, that’s why she’s not fighting back, thought K-yl0.

 

He heard quiet footsteps coming nearer and nearer…he flattened himself onto the wall behind the door, thrust his laser gun in his holster, and waited. After a few seconds, the door started to open with extreme slowness, its screws grinding faintly under the weight of time.

 

Quite against his will, K-yl0 swallowed.

 

Rei’s slim and unmasked figure stole into the room, and before she had time to turn around —

 

— he took a swift step forward and with a dexterous move, he wrapped one hand over her mouth and another around her body - preventing her to scream or move and pulled her to him —

 

Rei emitted a terrorized moan and crashed her back into his solid chest.

 

“Don’t be scared,” he whispered immediately; he held her close as she muffled words under his bare hand, struggling in his arms. Her chest heaved frantically but his powerful arms prevented her from moving. She actually bit him, but he wrapped his hand around her mouth tighter and drew her head closer until it held firm in the crook of his neck. Her head tilted to the side, and her frightened eyes darted up to his - they rounded wide when she recognized him. 

 

“Shhh, I won’t hurt you,” he murmured into her ear, causing her to cease her useless movements. Ignoring the scent of her hair filling his nostrils, he took a step backward toward the wall, bringing him with her. His hand was still fastened around her mouth. “Don’t move, stay quiet,” he ordered bluntly. In his voice, there was only command and Rei stiffened. Without releasing her mouth, he untied his mechanical arm from her body and drew the gun in his holster, aiming before him toward the door.

 

Rei’s eyes widened in shock while she stared at the gun, rigid in terror; she was shivering from head to toe against his body.

 

The door soon creaked again, and the floor moved under the weight of a body as they stayed hidden behind the door. Finally, the head of the huge bald goliath came into sight - K-yl0 pulled the trigger and his skull blasted into pieces; blood stained the floor as the body crashed on to the ground, causing Rei to jolt back against him.

 

At the same time, they heard a yelp and footsteps running out of the next door room; it - the second man or android, whatever it was - cowardly racing out.

 

K-yl0 waited a few seconds more, while Rei’s body remained fused to his, too frightened to move. K-yl0 put the gun back in his holster belt and lowered his head to her ear.

 

“It’s okay…” he whispered, wrapping his arm around her once again. Inadvertently his lips brushed her ear, causing her to tremble and close her eyes. He felt her lips part under his hand. The feeling of her wet mouth on his naked skin was on the verge of driving him insane. An invisible electric current ran through him and she shivered too, under his embrace.

 

“Don’t be afraid, I feel it too...” he murmured in her ear softly and took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of her hair and skin. As he bent over her, he could feel her hips matching his pelvis and her small body nestling into his huge frame. After a few moments, he reluctantly lowered his hand from her mouth and untangled his arm from her slender frame. Rei inhaled a ragged breath before taking advantage to part quickly from him, whirling around to face him. The loss of heat and contact with her almost hurt him physically.

 

But she didn’t look mad at him - quite the contrary. As she took in his appearance fully, her jaw went slack and her puzzled gaze traced his tall figure up and down, setting for a fleeting second on his lips before meeting his dark irises. They stared at each other for seconds, the tension between them almost palpable as the air filled with something neither of them could quite pin down. It was his turn to linger over her figure. Her hair was down, except for a pin holding a part of it up in a single bun - and he decided he liked it like that. She was wearing a tight asymmetrical V-neck shirt, her usual small jacket with rolled sleeves, and tight pants with short boots. Long fingerless gloves molded her hands and lower arms. He was trying not to think about what was underneath those annoying garments when she cut his trail of thoughts.

 

“Wh-why did you save me? Who are you? What do you want from me?” she stuttered, still in shock.

 

K-yl0 gulped at the last question.

 

He stayed silent, contemplating her freckled face. He couldn’t answer and he knew he had to leave as quickly as possible, but his feet wouldn’t obey his brain’s orders. He cleared his throat. 

 

"I can't tell you that," he answered, his eyes never leaving hers. She breathed in and out, blinking several times as if she were trying to solve the pieces of a complex puzzle.

 

Much against his will, and knowing he’d already transgressed about half a dozen rules today, he broke their silent staring and started to walk back to the window he’d come in.

 

“Wait!” she called after him, causing him to stop dead. “Please, who are you? What’s your name?” she entreated.

 

He turned around slowly. Dark brown and hazel locked once again.

 

“I don’t have a name,” he confessed truthfully, sadness now filling his low voice. Her mouth dropped and she straightened almost as if she’d been hit by an invisible blow. She cast him the most indecipherable look.

 

Yes, he thought to himself, as if silently asserting her reaction. I’m a monster.

 

But the way she was eyeing him was not the usual icy glare of humans to androids.

 

Was is pity ? Was it sorrow ? Was it what humans called compassion ? All he knew was that those pretty eyes brushed him like a caress, like a balm for the shadow of his soul. It would have been the rational thing to do, the logical outcome — but it was impossible for him to turn around and simply leave.

 

“You should get out of here,” he ordered calmly but she didn’t stir and stood there, rooted to the spot. 

 

Was she unable to leave, too?

 

Attempting to silence the treacherous part of his mind which pressed him to go back to her, he repeated, this time more firmly. "Get out, before the other comes back." His words came out harsher than he had wished, causing her to wince as if he'd hurt her.

 

There was a beat of silence; gazes transfixed. 

 

"Peanuuut!! Where are you?!" suddenly yelled a voice from downstairs, making Rei jump to her feet and tear her irises off him. She looked at the door leading to the corridor, lost for what to do.

 

When she veered again toward him, an undecided look on her oh so fine features, he indicated the way out with his chin.

 

“Th-thank you,” was the only thing she managed to say, stealing a last glance at him, before running out the door, leaving K-yl0 lingering on how exactly he’d gotten himself into this impossible situation.

 

He sighed, long and slow. He had to stop this before it was too late.

 

He knew what he had to do, but he didn't know if he had the strength to do it.

 

He looked at his watch, only to discover he had an incoming message. He pressed “read” hastily.

 

 

-D.H-

Your helmet has been found.

Report immediately.

 

K-yl0's jaw started to quiver. Maybe for the first time in his life, genuine fear invaded his heart.

 

 The incredible Clara-gemm's take on the kidnap scene!

Chapter Text

 

K-yl0's incredible concept design by @Sashaliddellmcgregorart

 

 

Hot water dripped onto her head, forming droplets before falling down her hair and sprinkling her body. She listened to the sound of the water; it's soft continuous stream flowing, it's bubbling sounds when it met the ceramic floor. It soothed her tormented thoughts and her eyelids closed under the warm, blanketing sensation. Unbidden, her mind flew back to the soft, dark brown eyes which had saved her life.

 

'Don’t be afraid, I feel it too.' he whispered in her ear, brushing her skin with that impossibly plush pink mouth of his - had he done it on purpose? She lifted a hand to her own lips. She recalled the feeling of his broad hand on her mouth. It had been warm and dry, while his other hand had embraced her from behind.

 

Yes, she’d felt it. It was as if their bodies fusing together had reacted as one; the raw tension between them sending an electric current right to her chest. Pressed against his warm broad body, she’d felt his thundering heartbeat...and their hearts had synchronized, almost as if they’d recognized each other. She couldn’t pin down what happened, but the sensation had been so real it tormented her all night.

 

She lifted her chin for the water to pelt her forehead. Steam filled the glass-enclosed shower, enveloping her body.

 

She recalled his appearance and there was no question he had style. His sophisticated long, black overcoat opened on a padded high-collared shirt with a rough, thick cowl around his neck. His tight leather pants fitted his massive thighs and long legs; the loose belts, straps wrapped around his wrists, his right-hand glove and black boots gave him a careless but nonetheless striking look. What caught her attention were the piercings in his visible ear and the fact she’d distinctively smelled the whiffs of cigarette on his hand, both of which were not in andys’ customs.  

 

Overall, she couldn’t shake the idea that he looked so damn human.

 

She wondered how humanity had managed to construct beings that resembled humans so much that the divergence between them was so thin. She’d experienced this many times before, but this was the first time she’d really lingered on the idea; on her job as a Blade Runner. She’d retired andys without a second thought. They were constructs. They were not “she” nor “he”; just an “it”. But, this time, had he not told her the truth, it would have been extremely difficult to know he was only an artificial humanoid.

 

I don’t have a name. Was there any way to forget how his eyes had dissolved into sadness as he confessed his condition? Could she forgive herself for having secretly wished he’d been human? Her heart had been suspiciously tight from that moment on.

 

Guilt suddenly invaded her.

 

What am I thinking? she scolded herself bitterly. He’s a machine.

 

Worse, he was a murderer. He’d slain her most beloved master without a shred of a remorse. He’d killed that monstrous andy yesterday - his own kind. He was dangerous; he was lethal.

 

Yet he’d saved her life.

 

She opened her eyes, letting the hot water sooth the impossible riddle this…whatever he was, had been since the day they'd crossed paths. Why had he saved her? Why did she feel his eyes roaming over her face like she was the horizon of his life? There were too many questions and her mind leaped from one to another, incapable of finding a way out of the labyrinth.  

 

Her head dropped to her chin and watched the droplets of water trail down her body. 

 

Where was he now?

 


*

 

 

“How many times do I have to repeat this? You cannot go about without wearing your helmet. These are strict orders from your Master - and I advise you to comply with the rules…for your own sake," barked the ginger-haired man while lifting his chin high with contempt and holding K-yl0's helmet firmly in his right hand. 

 

K-yl0 tightened his fists at his sides; they were shaking with rage. He ground his teeth and looked away from the man, barely able to contain his fury.

 

But he knew better than to respond. He remembered all too well what had happened the last time he tried.

 

Instead, he lowered his head and breathed in sharply, but he refused to answer.

 

Hux’s nose wrinkled in disgust at his lack of respect.

 

“Since you don’t know how to keep that bloody thing on, I, most unfortunately, will have to apply new means to keep track of you,” he informed with an ugly, barely disguised wickedness.

 

K-yl0’s gaze darted to him with an apprehensive expression.

 

“Orders from your Master,” he snickered.

 

K-yl0 gulped. He knew he had no choice but to obey.

 

“Sit here.” Hux indicated a large interrogation chair.

 

K-yl0’s hands sweat with fear. What was he going to do to him? He knew all too well about Hux’s famous experiments on androids.

 

Reluctantly, he gathered his courage and walked toward the chair. As soon as he sat down, metallic cuffs wrapped around his wrists with a clicking sound, binding him to the seat.

 

Doctor Hux then turned toward a table, retrieving a strange apparatus, which looked like a sophisticated stapler. K-yl0’s mouth went dry; he didn’t like any of this, but he would rather die than to give Hux the pleasure of knowing the effect his nasty inventions had on him.

 

He tightened his fists again, awaiting what was to come.

 

Without a word of warning, Hux grabbed his arm and pulled his sleeve up. His brow knitted darkly as the sleeve exposed his naked forearm.

 

“You got a new tattoo,” he said blankly.

 

K-yl0 remained silent, eyes transfixed on his arm so as to avoid eye contact; the skin was still red around the new inking on his arm. 

 

Hux crooked his head, to have a better look at the pattern.

 

“Is that…a plant?” He straightened, watching him with the most suspicious stare.

 

K-yl0 had to draw his attention away from his discovery. He knew the perfect way, although his brain screamed that he shouldn’t. But wrath bubbled in his blood, making him boil.

 

“Wonderful observation, Doctor. Did you learn that in medical school? Impressive,” he snapped, the ghost of a smirk on his lips.

 

In a split second, Hux’s eyes turned dark and menacing. His lips curved down and his hand came flying onto K-yl0’s scared cheek, making his head spin with the blow. Then, he used his palm to slap his other side of his face, hitting him with all his might. K-yl0’s hair flew with the impact, but he didn’t flinch. A small trail of blood oozed from his mouth. He slowly lifted his head again to face Hux, licking the blood off his lips. He openly grinned; a defiant, satisfied smirk.

 

Slap me all you want, you’ll never discover my secret, you bastard.

 

“I’ll wipe that idiot smile off your face, Kay-why-el-zero,” Hux snarled, taking the odd-looking stapler and placing it hastily above K-yl0 forearm.

 

Before he knew it, K-yl0 let out a high-pitched, pained scream. 

 

The device had nailed something into his arm. He winced and twisted his arm, the pain so sharp and raw that tears immediately prickled his eyes. He bared his teeth, nostrils flaring under the sensation of the hole in his flesh, it was as if someone had inserted a metal hook into his arm, tearing the skin apart. Blood soon appeared on the surface of the wound and K-yl0 had to stifle a cry.

 

Panting sharply, his eyes traveled back the pale-skinned man. A cruel smile was drawn on his face, irises blazing wickedly.

 

“Wh-what did you do to me?” K-yl0 stuttered through gritted teeth, voice thick with pain.

 

“I inserted a tracking device into your arm. That way, if you lose your helmet, or refuse to obey our orders, we’ll know exactly where you are.”

 

Before K-yl0 could answer, a door opened across the room. A man with a black laboratory coat and short dark hair entered the white, pristine laboratory. However, upon witnessing the scene, he stopped dead and K-yl0 had rarely been so grateful to see him.

 

Dopheld Mitaka. Doctor Hux’s assistant. He was the only scientist who had always treated him differently, with more respect. He was also the one who provided him with equipment and information.

 

“My apologies, Doctor Hux. Am I interrupting?” asked Mitaka, trying to sound casual but failing miserably at it.

 

Hux straightened, arm rigid behind his back.

 

“Absolutely not. I was just introducing K-yl0 to our latest invention,” he answered, a phony, satisfied expression creeping on his face. “What is it?”

 

“The Supreme Leader wishes to see K-yl0,” he said, before hesitating. “Alone.” His brown eyes flew to K-yl0’s with a hint of compassion. That wasn’t good news.

 

“Very well. Please accompany Kay-why-el-zero and inform him that his requirement has been executed,” Hux aimed for a button on the side of the chair and activated it, freeing K-yl0 from his torture seat.

 

He stood up immediately, sliding his sleeve down. He was about to leave the room with Mitaka when Hux interrupted.

 

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” asked Hux with a venomous voice.

 

K-yl0 turned around to see the man waving his helmet at him. He swiveled and went to fetch the mask, casting Hux a last glare.

 

He then walked out without another glance, following Hux’s assistant’s lead.

 

They walked for some time in silence in the corridors before Mitaka decided it was safe to talk without being overheard.

 

“Did he hurt you?” he asked, without looking at him.

 

“I’ve had worse,” deadpanned K-yl0.

 

“I know you have. Don’t give him any more excuses to torture you. It is his favorite game,” stressed Mitaka.

 

Mitaka was a good man. Unlike Hux, he was a truly gifted scientist who refused to comply with Hux’s madness and delusions of grandeur. But he was Hux’s assistant, thus, he had no power over his boss. K-yl0 took advantage of their walk to ask the question that had tormented him in the past week.

 

“Dr. Mitaka,” he said respectfully, “may I ask you something?”

 

This time, Mitaka glanced over at him. “Of course.”

 

K-yl0 met his eye, without changing his pace. “Can my prototype of android have memories? I mean, true memories of someone?”

 

“All the androids the Corporation fabrics are gifted with the faculty of remembering their lifespan - I-”

 

K-yl0 cut him off.

 

“No, I mean, real memories. Human memories. Of someone I didn’t know before my birth.”

 

“Oh.” Mitaka stopped on the spot and looked at him with a wary expression. “Why do you ask?”

 

K-yl0 hesitated and debated telling the truth. He had no one else to go to. “I have memories. Of a woman. I have never met her since I awoke that day in the laboratory.”

 

Mitaka contemplated him for a while, choosing his words carefully. “I believe it is possible someone implanted false memories in your brain, belonging to someone else. But I do not recall this kind of protocol was applied to your case. It could be the memories of the android you were made out of, though.”

 

K-yl0’s eyes went round. “I-I was made out of…?”

 

“Yes. This is why you have a mechanical arm and leg. We constructed you out of him. He was a very special and enhanced android, with many martial arts skills. This is why you are an important and unique prototype, K-yl0.”

 

K-yl0 was so stunned that for a moment he lost the ability to speak.

 

“What happened to that android?” he finally asked, dumbfounded.

 

"Oh, I don't have that information, I'm afraid. Only the Supreme Leader does," he replied with a flat smile and resumed his walking.

 

The problem with Mitaka was his naked honesty - K-yl0 had the distinct feeling that his last answer was a lie. He arched an eyebrow but didn’t stress the point. He followed him silently, mind racing.

 

Why has all this been hidden from me? Doubt crept into his mind like dark, monstrous shadows. The need for the truth was now burning him alive. Mitaka’s lie had lit the flame that would consume him silently.

 

At last, they arrived before his master’s closed door. The Red Guards eyed them closely from behind their masks. Mitaka straightened, took air into his lungs, and knocked with two fingers. K-yl0 knew he wasn’t the only one dreading his terrifying Master.

 

“Come in,” grumbled a hoarse voice.

 

Mitaka and K-yl0 made their entrance in the crimson, dim lit room. The latter dropped to his knee on the cold floor before the former bowed before the man sitting on the throne shaped chair.

 

“Doctor Hux asked me to inform you that your order has been executed,” he said, rotating his head to point at K-yl0. “He’s been equipped with the device.”

 

K-yl0 stared pointedly at the floor but his heightened senses could feel his master’s gaze boring into him.

 

“Very good. You may go, Dr. Mitaka,” he dismissed him huskily.

 

Without needing to be told twice, Mitaka raced out of the room.

 

There was a long beat of unbearable silence. K-yl0’s forehead dotted with sweat.

 

“Why did you discard your helmet?” finally inquired the elder man.

 

“I forgot it on the rooftop. I was-”

 

Forgot it?” he sneered.

 

Gathering his courage, K-yl0’s gaze darted up to face the man, who was sitting on his usual throne seat, in his glamourous golden robes, with thick rings on his gnarly fingers. “I am telling the truth, Master.”

 

“And why was your attention so distracted that you forgot to respect the number one rule?”

 

K-yl0’s pulse increased exponentially and his jaw was quivering. Did he know? He swallowed, then raised his chin, trying to keep his composure, but looked down as to avoid his master’s cruel stare.

 

“I was on the mission you had entrusted me with. Following the girl. She suddenly rushed out in a hovercar.”

 

"Is that so…" Skepticism colored his voice. "What did you learn?" he asked, his left eye hooded in suspicion.

 

K-yl0 inhaled sharply; he had rehearsed exactly what he would tell his master…and what he had decided should remain a private matter. But he still had to offer solid proof of his research, something convincing. “She works for the Police Department. I believe she’s a Blade Runner, working for the Intelligence Bureau.”

 

His Master's nose wrinkled as if the sound of such place was a disagreeable smell. "Do you know if she has a particular mission?"

 

“No - I don’t-”

 

He was cut off at mid-sentence. “Her name?”

 

What could possibly change if he revealed he knew her name? If he invented one, the old snake could find out he was lying. And he didn’t dare to imagine the devastating consequences that such an act would produce.

 

“I believe her name is Rei,” he said confidently. “I have no knowledge of a surname.”

 

At the use of the name, a flash of concern crossed his Master’s eyes, before he quickly recovered. It was a fleeting shadow, but K-yl0 was certain he’d seen it. The elder furrowed a brow at him.

 

“Kill her.”

 

The world suddenly came to a stop. K-yl0’s mouth parted, utterly bewildered. It couldn’t be. Had he heard wrong? His senses were playing a trick on him. His lips moved before he could help himself.

 

“Wh-what?”

 

“Have you lost your hearing? I said: kill her. And beware of leaving no trace of your presence.” His dry, commanding tone left no space for protest.

 

K-yl0’s heart pounded in his rib cage so wildly it was about to burst. No, he - no!  That’s not what he wanted. He couldn't -

 

“But - why?” was the only thing he managed to mumble, mortified in the inside.

 

The man’s nostril flared; he gritted his teeth and rose from his seat menacingly. “You dare contest my orders, boy?” he thundered, anger barely contained.

 

K-yl0 winced and looked down submissively. He stayed silent, as the reality of his next mission sank into his skin, into his veins, into his heart, poisoning his entire being. 

 

“If you fail - you know the price you will pay,” he hissed like a snake. “I’d hate to entrust you to Doctor Hux’s hands,” he lamented falsely with a sarcastic, murderous grin.

 

A shiver ran down the younger one’s spine, prickling his entire body. He remembered the last time he’d failed at one of his missions - his one and only failure. Only the bacta tank provided by Mitaka had enabled him to recover from his gruesome wounds.

 

He knew had no choice. He had to kill her.

 

While his chin sank down, scattered memories of her resurfaced in his mind. Her almond shaped honeyed eyes, lit by such a fire they gave life to his artificial soul. The sweet, delicate whiffs of her skin and hair; the mixed scent of freshness and such femininity. Her racing pulse and chest under his touch as he held her close; as he’d secretly hoped of holding her more. The way she stared at him, undressing him with her gaze.

 

Thank you, she’d said to him, a meaningless, artificial monster. 

 

The memories turned into smoke as he now fully took in what he was about to do. Destroy the most beautiful woman he would ever lay eyes upon. The only one who'd ever gotten under his skin.

 

His heart bled. And now, it would bleed forever.

 

When he spoke again, the strangled voice betrayed the lump in his throat.

 

“As you wish, Master.

 

***

 

 

Oblivious of the looming menace, Rei had stayed at Headquarters long into the night, doing some research on the office’s computer. To say the least, the day had been straining; grey circles had appeared under her eyes. She had several meetings, one of them with Rose and Poe about her friend’s new mission as a Secret Service Employee; she would only be an attaché to the Police Department, with an undercover identity for her own safety. Rei was thrilled about Rose’s acceptance of the mission despite the risks she could encounter.

 

But the hardest task had been to straight out lie to everyone about what truly occurred during their last andy chase. She’d secretly nursed the idea she would find her stranger again - but certainly not in that fashion. She had to invent a whole story of how she killed the bald goliath. In everyone’s understanding, she’d had time to retrieve her own laser guns and belt - which the giant had previously yanked and kicked away, forcing her to run inside the building -  before taking him down.

 

Finn’s leg had been badly hurt in the chase and once incapacitated, the andys had focused their attention on Rei. All he had been able to do was to scream and yell for her. He was now recovering slowly at home; she would check on him tomorrow before going to work.

 

She sighed, long and slow.

 

Poe was right; she was fucking reckless. If it hadn’t been for this mysterious android appearing out of nowhere, she wouldn’t have been alive to tell the tale. She gulped as her thoughts lingered again on his soft, brown eyes.

 

She willed her brain to push the image of his pink lips and touch away from her mind so she could focus back on the task she’d stayed awake for. Nobody was in the office, which gave her freedom for her research. Even R2 was in low power mode on the other end of the office.

 

Out of sheer luck, one of the stranger’s hairs had gotten caught in her jacket’s zipper and she’d safely kept it for analysis. If he didn’t have a name, surely he had some kind of identification, right? In the silence of the office, she turned on a light next to her computer illuminating her face. She retrieved the hair as if it were Earth’s eighth wonder. She examined it first - it was as pitch black as the rest of his mane.

 

Her hand bent down to deposit the hair onto an examination pad and the computer quickly closed, capturing the hair to retrieve its information. She programmed the computer for DNA and molecular analysis. She nervously tapped her fingers onto the desk and bit her lips while waiting for the machine to proceed.

 

Suddenly, a red capitalized text appeared on her screen.

 

- DNA Identification-

FAILED

Identity NONEXISTENT

Subject DECEASED

 

Her heart skipped a beat and she had to stifle a gasp.

 

Deceased?! What the fuck…?

 

She leaned back in her chair, hands loose on both sides of the seat, mouth agape.

 

It can’t be - is this guy some sort of ghost?

 

Her treacherous brain responded for her, He certainly doesn’t feel like one.

 

Cursing under her breath, she then hastily typed something on the keyboard. Was it possible to know the identity of the supposedly deceased person?

 

She waited again, pulse rising dramatically as every second went by. She bit and nibbled on her fingers and nails with anxiety.

 

At last, the computer provided its answer.

 

NEGATIVE

Identity erased from servers.

 

Rei’s eyes rounded. Erased from servers? How is that even possible? Who could erase the data?

 

Lips parted in bewilderment, she reclined in her seat, scratched her skull and wiped her face with her palm. She tried to think but found no answers to her pressing questions. Her fists balled on the edge of the seat and knocked on it absentmindedly as she tried to make this piece of the puzzle fit.

 

The Supreme Leader. This mysterious android. The reflectio virus. His reaction as he saw her face. His crashing into her bathroom. Him, appearing from nowhere. And now this?

 

She hissed in exasperation. She searched for answers but they slipped away like water through a sieve. Her sixth sense told her she was on the brink of discovering something important, something big. And dangerous. 

 

She forced herself to inhale, resting her head on the edge of the seat and rubbed her tired eyes.

 

What have I gotten myself into?

 

She yawned, emitting a loud sound and her eyes watered with tiresome tears. Her head tilted forward, and she glanced at the time.

 

2:00am.

 

I’d better get home. It’s too damn late.

 

She scooped her belonging and pushed them into a knapsack. She turned off the light and aimed for the exit. Walking out, she ordered the building's droid to turn the alarms on and took the lift to the parking lot. She would have to drive alone since she'd sent C3 for a much-needed maintenance and oil bath. She was scheduled to retrieve him on the weekend.

 

Five minutes later, she was driving through the cityscape towards her home, admiring how the huge, black skyscrapers towered above her. Coruscant's landscape with its flickering lights was like a night aquarium - bathed with multi-colored fish. Amongst them, she saw an ad for a new virtual friend prototype - she was a magnificent brunette with almond-shaped eyes called "Joi." Rei noted that she also had a  prominent ass and boobs - it would doubtlessly be a best-seller among lonely men.

 

Virtual company, huh? Is that where humanity is bound to go? Not have friends anymore but just machines? she thought sadly to herself.

 

Speaking of machines…her thoughts flashed back to the stranger. The red text on the screen was engraved into her retina.

 

Deceased. How can an android be registered as someone deceased? It made no sense to her.

 

Her cheeks puffed out with a sigh. She was just too tired to think.

 

Without realizing it, she soon got to her apartment building and, mechanically, she parked the car and went for the elevator. She soon found out one of them was out of service.

 

Shit, she had to use the other. After a few minutes, she was tapping her feet on the ground, impatiently yearning for her bed. When the lift finally arrived, she hastily pressed the top floor button. Leaning against the structure, she soon realized the cameras, which usually showed all the building floors within the elevator, were off.

 

She frowned.

 

That’s odd. First, the elevator, then the cameras? What the hell?

 

At last, the elevator made its way to the top floor. She peeked into the corridor before exiting, just to check. There was no one. Yawning again, she walked to her entrance and tried to unlock the door with her retina-scan.

 

But nothing happened. What was going on? She had no choice but to unlock the door with her universal key access, an insecure way, but the only one she had to enter in the event the computers crashed. Which had obviously been the case tonight.

 

The door unlocked with a click and she let out a sigh of relief. However, her instincts told her to be on the alert. She took her laser gun out.

 

She slipped into her home, closed the door behind her, but didn’t turn the lights on.

 

She crept in, took a few glances here and there, but everything seemed in order. You could only hear the faint sounds of the hovercars and hoverbikes flying below. She was probably being paranoid and made a mental note to check on the computer failures.

 

She lowered her gun and entered her bedroom to drop her bag on the bed.

 

“Don’t move! Drop that gun,” suddenly commanded a deep, guttural voice behind her. 

 

Rei practically jumped out of her skin and cried out, dropping the gun out of sheer fright.

 

She heard the click of the lights go on and her bedroom door close; she took the risk to glance behind her.

 

Out from the shadows, her stranger materialized, rigidly standing before her.

 

His laser gun aimed right at her face. 

 

Chapter Text

K-yl0's incredible concept art by Sashaliddellmcgregorart

 

 

 

He knew no God; he knew no Law. Only Death. It had been his most faithful companion since he’d been created. He’d had his skin inked with the words of his sins; it was a way for him to remember his only purpose in this miserable life. Orders were orders. Never had he hesitated before pulling the trigger; blood tainted his soul like his hands, forever.

 

Oh, he’d secretly tried. In the intimacy of his mind, he’d struggled to gain some humanity by adopting human customs, to give life another, higher meaning. He’d fought to make dreadful nightmares go away; crimson dreams where his victims begged and yelped for mercy; he often woke up drenched in sweat, alone, screaming into an empty void. He’d battled helplessly against his artificialness and the unbearable lightness of existence, in vain; death and pain engulfed him restlessly.

 

In this boundless tunnel, there was no Light. Only Darkness.

 

Until now.

 

A small, flickering flame had been lit deep within him.

 

It morphed into the shape of the very woman standing right before him, rooted to the spot.

 

She was a multicolored dawn after an endless black night. A ray of sunlight in the grim skies of his life. 

 

And now, his feverish dark eyes met the infinity of her honeyed ones, bathed in terror as his hand quivered, his finger frozen over the trigger. Her face had turned white and through her beautiful long eyelashes, her gaze was transfixed on his. The gun started to shudder intensely under his hesitation, as did his jaw. His organic hand clenched and trembled at his side.

 

He was about to take the only life he was desperate to spare. To kill her was to kill the only part of himself that still understood the word hope.    

 

Silence filled the air, thick and tense. 

 

He swallowed, finding a lump in his throat; he bared his teeth.

 

Kill her, echoed the voice of his creator. He’d been given no choice. He had to do this.

 

Rei’s head moved slightly; it shook in horror and…incomprehension.

 

“Wh-why…?” Her voice had lowered to a barely audible whisper under tremor.

He didn’t know if it was the disappointment or the distress in her voice that undid him. His irises rounded from behind the gun before he tore his painful stare away and clenched his eyes shut. All his limbs were shaking uncontrollably.

 

He released his finger from the trigger.

 

He couldn’t do it.

 

He lowered his gun and fell loudly to his knees in front of her. His head plunged forward; black wisps of hair dipped in front of his face.

 

“I-I can’t …I can’t-” he repeated helplessly, panting as air filled his lungs again.

 

Instinctively, alarms went off in Rei’s mind and she didn’t hesitate. She swiftly grabbed her own gun from her holster and pointed it at right him with both hands.

 

“What the fuck is your problem!? Why did you try to kill me?” she barked out of fright and wrath. What the living hell was this about? She breathed in deeply, trying not to panic.

 

When he lifted his head to hers, his gaze was filled with despair. She could now see dark shadows under his eyes, which contrasted with his pale, scarred face as if he hadn't slept in ages. However, his eerie silence was making her more enraged by the second.

 

“Answer me!” she commanded.

 

He lowered his head again and looked pointedly at the ground, mouth tied shut. Under his muteness, Rei was losing patience. Her whole bloodstream was on fire. Not only was she afraid, she was furious with him.

 

“Answer! That’s an order!” she shouted, gripping the gun harder.

 

He just shook his head.

 

That did it. The string of her patience had come to an end. She aimed for his right organic arm and shot.

 

The laser beam brushed the limb, tearing the coat apart, red, thick blood gushing out, dotting his garment and the floor.

 

K-yl0 cried out. He wrapped his other gloved hand around the wound and his eyes darted to her infuriated ones. The hopelessness in them was so sharp that Rei’s heart squeezed unwillingly.

He winced under shock and pain. He didn’t know which was worst: her hateful stare, or the fact she’d just deliberately wounded him. There was no way out of this. He knew what he had to do. Between short breaths, he finally gathered his courage.

 

“Please…please end my agony. Please kill me,” he said, arching his body in on itself, still kneeling before her. He dropped his head, hiding his face once more.

 

Rei’s heart sank to her stomach and her eyes widened. That- that had not been her intention. She only wanted answers, for Christ’s sake! She stayed there, dumbfounded, still aiming at him but incapable of complying with what he was pleading for. What the hell was the matter with her? He’d just tried to assassinate her! He was an android, a dangerous, lethal machine! Why was she even hesitating to pull the trigger? It was her turn to quiver helplessly, unable to fulfill her duty.

 

“Please…I want to get rid of this pain,” he begged again. “I’ve killed more people than you could ever imagine. I deserve this,” he recounted, wincing between halting breaths, for the wound was bleeding and aching. “They’ll probably kill me anyway if you don’t. I’d rather it be you.”

 

Suddenly, it was if a light bulb lit in Rei's brain. Yes, it all fitted! He’d been sent to kill her, but something had made it impossible for him to fulfill the order. The exact same something that was preventing her to land a laser beam right in his skull. 

 

“Wh-Why? Who would kill you?” she asked hesitantly as she lowered her shivering weapon. “Who sent you to murder me?”

 

His dark orbs peered at her from behind his black locks. “I-I can’t tell you. They’d come for you if I did. If you knew.”

 

She blinked. They? So there’s more than one. She hated to admit it, but what he said did make sense.

 

Under the tension of the last minutes and her churning emotions, her legs finally gave in. She slowly slipped onto her knees and exhaled, long and slow. She was unable to kill him; she tossed the gun aside.

 

“Why didn’t you kill me?” she asked tentatively.

 

The naked feelings in the look he cast her were so intense she nearly came undone. But, as he was about to answer, he suddenly hissed, grabbing his arm. Without thinking, she launched forward, crawling next to him.

 

“Shit, I-I’m sorry about that,” she said, approaching him cautiously, as is he were a wounded beast. 

 

His eyes darted to hers in incomprehension. She was apologizing? He felt so unworthy of anything; he’d just been on the verge of killing her. He didn’t deserve any of her attentions nor her pity.

 

He could only gawk in silence when she reached out, her long slim fingers lightly removing his gloved hand from his injury. “Let me see,” she murmured, peeking at him.  

 

Close. Too close. Alarms set off in his head but he was held frozen, mesmerized by her presence, unable to utter a single word. He swallowed under her scrutiny and the way she looked at his wound as if she were sorry about her action. 

 

“It-it’s a deep cut. I have a medical kit here; come with me, I can mend this for you,” she said, getting to her feet.

 

He stayed on the floor, kneeling before her, lifting his chin to follow her gaze. “Wh-why are you helping me?” The words raced out of his mouth before he could control them.

 

She wanted to say, I haven’t forgotten you murdered my master, but you just spared me, going against your master’s will. Instead, she opted for the shorter version. “You saved my life. Twice now,” she explained, presenting her opened palm for him to take. “Maybe you’re not worth it, but I guess I owe you this, at least.”

 

He looked at her as if she were some kind of goddess. This was not how the night was supposed to go. Hesitantly, he raised his artificial, gloved hand and laid it into hers. She squeezed it, helped him up and soon, he towered over her again.

 

“Come over here,” she told him, walking out of the room into the living area. “Wait here. I’ll go fetch the medical aid kit.” She disappeared into her bathroom, while he studied the apartment, which was small but cozy. It had a small kitchen with a counter and high stools. It opened on a small living room with an old-looking sofa and a low coffee table. He’d seen the place so many times from outside, but it was the first time he could look around from the inside.

 

She came back racing with a heavy plastic box and a strange looking machine in her arms.

 

She laid everything on her kitchen counter before facing him. She scanned him and his arm and frowned. "Hum," she cleared her throat, growing visibly embarrassed by the second. "Ahm, I-I think you’re going to have to take your coat and shirt off. I can’t clean that wound properly,” she said hesitantly, “I-I mean I can’t reach it if I only pull your sleeve up…”

 

There was an uncomfortable silence as he gaped at her while his brain tried to process what exactly she’d just ask him to do. Before his cheeks colored a deep shade of red, he turned around to create some semblance of distance.

 

“Wa-wait, you can use the bathroom…Well, I mean, if you prefer…” her voice trailed off, and before she could embarrass herself even more, she clamped her mouth shut.

 

He glanced at her over his shoulder and pondered his options. “It doesn’t change much,” he finally managed to mumble.

 

Right.

 

Rei nodded, bit her lips and gave him privacy by twirling around to her medical kit again. She desperately tried to focus on what she needed to clean his wound, fiddling with the skin-healing device. She opened her box and retrieved the tools and cloth, attempting to avoid peering behind her as she felt him remove his black coat, soon followed by his long-sleeved shirt.

 

She grabbed a piece of cloth in her hand, and the bottle of cleansing alcohol in her other and, taking air into her lungs, she turned around again to face him -

 

- and nearly dropped the bottle. She stilled and had to apply all her willpower not to clasp a hand over her mouth, which went slack. 

 

He was standing before her, in all his shirtless glory. Her stare roamed over his naked chest; she didn’t know if it was his sophisticated, gray and black mechanical limb, which ran until his shoulder, the tattoos on his organic arm, or simply his broad, muscular figure with scattered scars which impressed her the most. Fuck, he’s hot, she thought, before cursing herself. After taking him in, she lingered on his deep, long scar, which trailed from the middle of his chest up to over his eyebrow; tracing it with her gaze upward, she finally met his. His soft, almost boyish, coffee-brown eyes contrasted with his brutal strength.

 

He inhaled sharply and pressed his lips together, causing his rib cage to inflate, accentuating his muscles under his pale skin. 

 

Her mind short-circuited. She gulped.

 

Rei- this man is a murderer. You can’t just stare at him like this. Find something to say, Rei - just, anything! she chastised herself.

 

“Is-is that an auto-mail you have?” Was the only thing that crossed her brain - the rest had gone blank before his appearance. She cursed herself inwardly for the ridiculous question.

 

“Yes, if you mean it can be removed, yes, it can," he answered, now looking at his mechanical arm.  Auto-mails were special mechanical limbs - they were rare and expensive because they could be removed from the owner and changed or repaired.

 

“Okay, so, hum…maybe you should sit here, so I can clean that wound to heal it? Here, under the light,” she offered, now eyeing the bloody torn-apart skin.

 

K-yl0 took a seat on the high stool next to her, and rested his arm on the counter, giving her a clear view of the gash. Rey scooted her stool next to him to better examine it, trying to ignore the tattoos scattered on his arm for the moment. The cut was deep and oozing blood. She wetted a piece of cloth with alcohol and moved her fingers on his arm to steady him before cleaning it. He didn’t flinch when the alcohol leaked into his wound; instead, the minute her fingertips touched his skin, he shivered, feeling a hot, tickling, electric sensation at the point of contact. Rei was helpless to keep from noticing how his breath hitched, making her insides throb with tension and rendering her speechless. His soft but sad eyes met hers; she realized they weren’t as dark as she’d previously thought. In the light, they showed clear dashes of olive and amber. She had to admit they were very pretty.

 

As she cleaned the cut, she saw the shot had torn apart a tattooed, elegant calligraphic scripture circling his bicep that she couldn’t read. Her gaze instinctively moved down, where a long stem with lush leaves was drawn beautifully, but he had a big red scar that hadn’t healed properly. Continuing down over his hand, she observed the inscription she’d seen when he’d crashed his motorbike. It read No God, No law on his hand and now, she could distinguish the inking on his knuckles; each bore a single letter, forming the word “death”.

 

Her body unwillingly shivered. That was a plain, simple reminder that the android sitting next to her was truly a killing machine. However, her natural curiosity took over her fear of him.

 

“The tattooed plant…? How do you know of them?” she asked, not daring to look at him. “Those don’t exist anymore.”

 

“I’m afraid I can’t answer that,” he responded in a low, deep voice, looking down at his forearm.

 

She scoffed, stood up so she could pick up the skin-healing machine she’d left on the other side of the counter. “You really are a mystery, aren’t you?” she said before freezing on the spot as she passed behind him.

 

There was another tattoo. On the back of his neck, partly covered by his black hair. It was a sign, a hexagon with a circle inside it. Around the edges of the sign, something was written in red ink.  

 

Sensing she'd stopped, he twisted a bit in his chair and saw her quizzical look. Her gaze narrowed to his. "Can I see this?" she asked, pointing a finger at his neck and granting herself the permission to remove his locks.

 

He immediately tensed under her touch and swallowed, closing his eyelids under the warmth of her fingers. “Th-that’s nothing. It’s my serial number,” he explained hastily, tossing his head aside. Fuck, he could barely control himself under her touch. Nobody had ever touched him like this. The only physical contact he knew of was violent; punches, slaps, blows. It meant blood, it meant pain. But every time her fingertips grazed his skin, it prickled, giving him goosebumps. It was different from everything he’d experienced before. It was gentle, warm and soft. Every nerve in his body lit and burned and begged for more. He secretly hoped she didn’t notice the effect she had on him; he felt hot and cold as if his insides suddenly felt alive. He knew he’d do anything to keep this feeling; he never wanted her to stop touching him.

 

She brushed her fingers along the scripture. Was it her, or was he shivering under her contact?

 

First Order. K-yl0 R3N

 

First Order? What the hell is that?

 

“‘Kay-Why-El-Zero Ar-Three-En’ is your serial number?” she asked to confirm.

 

“Yes,” he said, lowering his head in shame.

 

She frowned as she analyzed the writing and made a mental note to look into that name. Normally, andys were only made by the Starkiller Corporation, what was this First Order all about? Casting her questions aside, she took the healing device and came to sit next to him again. She installed it in front of her on the counter and turned to face him again, but he didn’t move and just stared at the counter’s surface absent-mindedly. He looked lost into his thoughts, utterly miserable. Rei’s heart tightened as she considered him for a moment. When she’d ask that question, his whole body had slumped forward, as if the question had cut him. He was an android, and andys usually didn’t have names. Sometimes, they would be granted one if the owner cared, but it was up to them to decide. However, she had a distinct feeling his master was not the type to give him something so human as a name.

 

She put a hand on his forearm and he flinched - again - eyeing her fingers on his naked skin.

 

“Do you want to have a name?” she inquired softly.

 

His head immediately shifted toward her. “A name?” His eyes glowed with a vulnerable hope that tugged at…whatever it was between them.

 

“Let me think…Kay-Why-El-Zero…that sounds like ‘Kylo’. I could name you ‘Kylo Ren’,” she offered, trying not let herself acknowledge how deeply personal this was.

 

He sucked in a quiet breath and gaped at her, awe-struck. His stomach suddenly did a strange flip. A name. Her words enveloped him, soothing a deep, profound ache he’d carried with him since he’d been granted life. His serial number was the eternal reminder of his condition. But she was gifting him, baptizing him with a name. His artificial soul was suddenly reborn, flashing and brilliant, soaring from the ashes of his lab-created life. It was a recognition that he was, deep inside, something more than just a mere instrument of destruction and death.

 

Kylo Ren…it felt right, it felt true to him, to what he was. The fact that she had given it made it a treasure, a secret nobody could ever steal from him; a shiny, priceless diamond born from impure coal. The way it sounded in her mouth, how it shaped her perfectly formed lips … he couldn’t imagine a more beautiful sound.

 

She was so close. And he was so grateful. His whole body was burning to reciprocate all of her little touches, kiss that pink mouth as he’d so frequently imagined. He was beginning to lean forward ever so slightly, staring at them. No! No … he couldn’t. It didn’t matter how much he wanted to. He chided himself, reining in the pull.

 

“I like that name. I’ve always wanted one,” he confessed, covering his momentary loss of control and offering her a shy smile.

 

Rei observed how his lips, curving into a smile, changed his whole features; they had suddenly brightened. She tried to imagine what kind of life he’d had, with no name, no identity, and most probably, no friends.

 

It was uncomfortably familiar. She’d been abandoned at age five in the dumps of the city, right after the Fire Apocalypse. Trashed like a piece of garbage, struggling to survive. Before knowing Rose, she’d been all alone. She knew perfectly what it felt not to be seen, to be nobody; she was happy to see how much having a name meant to him. It gave her the impression that he might be something more, not only an artificial creature invented by mankind. 

 

"I'd like to just call you ‘Kylo', it's a short, nice name. I like it," she said, gracing him with a wide, white smile, and saw how his gaze traveled to her lips again. She pushed away the thought. Surely she was inventing this. Maybe he hadn't been close to human women before? And why did it give her a little thrill?

 

“Should we mend that wound, Kylo?” she asked and he nodded in approval.

 

She grabbed the machine and turned it on. It purred and lit with a blue light. From its base emerged a long tube and what looked like a showerhead.

 

“What’s that?” he asked, pointing his mecho fingers at it.

 

Rei cocked her head. Everyone had one of these at home, how could he have never seen one? “It’s a healer. It will heal that wound in no time. It hurts a bit but you’re a tough one,” she explained, now focusing the head over the gash, where a red light appeared over his wounded flesh.

 

“I’ve never seen one. I’ve only been in bacta tanks.”

 

She stilled, mouth dropping. “Bacta tanks!? But - that’s when you’re in mortal danger!” she exclaimed as she remembered what he’d said earlier. “Who did that to you?” Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Is it…is it your master?”

 

His silence was his way of confirming. 

 

“Kylo,” she started and his heart filled with warmth at the name, “Please, tell me, who does this to you? He certainly doesn’t treat you right.”

 

“Androids have no rights,” he reminded her sadly.

 

“It’s not a reason. You know it’s not. I have a protocol droid I’d never treat like this,” she retorted indignantly.

 

“But you still retire them. Us,” he said, now looking straight at her.

 

She found herself swallowing under his calm accusation. “I do - when they are a threat to society,” she defended herself. “Or when they are infested with a virus which makes them go out of control.”

 

“Why didn’t you kill me then? I went rogue. I disobeyed my master. And it’s possible I’m infected with the reflectio virus,” he challenged.

 

Oh, she’d realized he could be infected all right; and from the way he looked so sad and lonely, she did even more. The virus was still a mystery but it apparently triggered feelings and emotions in andys, blurring the limit with mankind completely. However, she had no answer to his question, partly because she didn’t know why herself. He was a mass murderer. The image of Lor, dying in her arms, haunted her day and night. She couldn’t settle on an explanation. So, instead, she diverted the subject.

 

“You don’t seem to be the disobedient kind. You master seems to me like a cruel person - he’s the one who sent you to kill me. And what about this scar on your face? And this gash you have here, on your forearm? Did he do that, too?” she asked, pointing at it.

 

Kylo bit his lips. “I always had the scar. I don’t know how it got there…I was created with it,” he explained, hiding his face away from her, betraying how much he hated his appearance. “And for this,” he pointed at his arm, “They put a tracker there. So now they check on me anytime,” he paused. “I was made to kill and obey. I…failed at the task. They’ll know I’ve disobeyed, and they’ll punish me,” he said so stoically, so casually that Rey’s eyebrows knitted darkly.

 

“They put…a tracker…” she repeated slowly as his words sank in. Lord, the poor thing was visibly a slave. A slave, made to kill, and knowing only obedience. What kind of a life did he have? She found she felt sorry for him; it was a life bathed in blood, as the inking on his hand sadly displayed. It was no life to live, even for an andy. Her natural inclination to helping others propelled her to think about what she could do. After a few moments, her mind lit with an idea.

 

“What if I take it out?”

 

His eyebrow creased quizzically. Having obeyed all his life, the idea of bypassing Snoke and Hux hadn’t even crossed his mind. “You’d do that?”

 

“It’s going to hurt you. I don’t have anesthesia here but -”

 

He cut her off. “I’m used to pain. Do it,” he stressed, hope filling his irises. 

 

There was something in the way he’d pronounced those words and the dismissiveness in his voice that made her ache for him. How much pain had he endured? She shivered under the idea. She promised herself to find out who his master was, not only for her own safety - after all, he had sent Kylo to kill her and that part was still shrouded in mystery - but also because he was obviously a criminal who had to be brought before the law.

 

“Okay, now, let me find some tools for this. It’s not going to be easy.”

 

 

Two hours later, Rei wiped the sweat off her forehead. “There we go,” she said victoriously as she pulled off the healing machine from his forearm. She was secretly impressed by his pain resistance. She’d had to cut and dig into his flesh before being able to retrieve the tracker with a small pincher. The little bugger had been impossible to locate and take out. It had obviously been made to stay where it was. He’d winced and whimpered a bit, but apart from that, he’d stayed silent without flinching during the whole process. She had also closed the gash on his arm. Looking at the metallic tracker, Kylo’s features had darkened with wrath but he’d kept it, shoving it into his pants’ pocket.  

 

Rei cleaned up the blood, clothes, and tools she's used on the counter.

 

They got to their feet, and he was about to aim for his clothes before she looked at his arm. “I’m sorry about the tattoo. You’re going to have to redo that part, and this leaf, here” she said, now brushing his skin a bit where the wound had healed.

 

“D-don’t apologize,” he insisted. “I owe you a great deal already, Rei”

 

Upon hearing him, she lifted her head and their gazes locked. “Wait, how do you know my name? I don’t recall telling you.”

 

“I already know so much about you. What does it change if I know your name?” he questioned calmly. 

 

“What do you mean? Wh-what do you know about me?” she inquired but her voice was weaker than she would have wished. 

 

I know how you smell, how you feel in my arms and I want to see your wonderful eyes every day for the rest of my life, was the first thought that crossed his mind, but he stayed silent.

 

The intensity of his hungry stare made her insides flip but she refused to break eye contact. He loomed over her, rooted there, just looking at her. She felt her cheeks redden under such close scrutiny - not even mentioning the fact that he was still half-naked and that she had the hardest time not gawking at his massive frame. She scolded herself for harboring such thoughts about him - it was completely inappropriate, given what he was. Oh, and was it her, or was he nearing her now? She could almost feel his body heat enveloping her. 

 

“Don’t look at me like that,” she said, more firmly this time.

 

“Why not?” he challenged, his voice lowering to a whisper; how her cheeks bloomed with a pink shade was not lost on him. Maybe she didn’t mind the way he looked, after all.

 

It was Rei’s turn to fall silent. Kylo’s hungry gaze traveled to her pink lips once more.  She was so close. Closer than ever. Her sweet scent filled his nostrils, making him lose his fucking mind. It was an assault on his acute senses. Desperation to capture her mouth - to show her she was his ray of light in his eternal darkness overwhelmed the rational part of him that was screaming not to -

 

- he bent down and surged forward, crushing his lips to hers without warning.

 

Rei’s eyes widened from utter shock - what the fuck! The image of Lor, falling on the floor, bathed in his own blood flashed before her. She jolted backward and, with both hands, she shoved him back violently, jerking his face away from hers, before her feet backed toward the wall where she flattened herself, eyeing him wildly, completely unsettled by what he’d just done.

 

“Ho-how dare you!?” she shouted through hitched breaths.

 

And then she saw it.

 

The light which had previously illuminated his soft features was suddenly sucked out, leaving only sorrow and shame in his glistening irises. His eyebrows knitted in despair; his jaw was twitching. He looked mortified.

 

As he stood motionless before her, Rei just gaped at him, and her heart leaped to her throat. She’d hurt him. How had everything just fallen apart in only a matter of seconds?

 

Kylo stared at the woman who had become everything in his life in a matter of days. She’d rejected him. It was as if a bucket of ice-cold water had been dumped over the blossoming flower in his heart. All of a sudden, he realized he’d invented the whole thing: she didn’t want him; worse, she despised him. How had he been so foolish to think this lovely woman would ever want something of him? He felt as if he’d been sucked into an abyss of emptiness, leaving him only with regret and shame.

 

A thick, raw silence filled the air.

 

“I-I…” Rei tried to speak but words died on her tongue.

 

He couldn’t bear to expose himself to her any longer. He felt so humiliated and angry at himself that he wanted to punch something; it was unbearable. He tore his gaze away from hers and quickly went for his clothes. He slipped his black shirt and coat on, dashed into her room and came out as fast as he’d gotten in with his helmet in his hands before walking with long strides for the front door.

 

Upon opening it, he turned around one last time and Rei was petrified by the vulnerable, fragile glance he cast her. He looked as if he was on the verge of breaking apart.    

 

“Don’t worry. I’ll remove my horrible presence from you permanently,” he said, agony bubbling at the surface of his words.

 

Rei’s breath hitched. Her heart hammed in her chest, she felt pressure behind her irises. Before she could say anything, he smashed the sliding door manually behind him and she winced under the sound of the door and his wrath.

 

It took her a few seconds to recover her breath. His words assaulted her, adding to her interior confusion. Would she really not see him again?

 

Without knowing why - she dashed for the door.

 

“Kylo, wait!”

 

She scanned the corridor, but he was nowhere to be seen. Limbs shaking, she sought him a few minutes, but he’d disappeared. 

 

She came back to her flat, and, closing the door behind her, she rested her body against it.

Without even noticing it, she brought her fingers to her lips. The ghost of his plush, soft mouth on hers was still lingering as if she could feel him. Sounds of sorrow echoed in her ears. Nobody had ever looked at her the way he did.  

 

And he’d kissed her - it was madness! She couldn’t wrap her mind fully around it. A part of her brain - the most reasonable one - whispered she’d done the right thing. He was a murderer. He was a machine - this just couldn’t be! However, the beating organ in her chest broke into pieces as she remembered his devastated features. How could a machine convey such a range of emotions with only one glance? His hurtful, grief-stricken words still resonated around her.

 

I’ll remove my horrible presence from you permanently

 

No, that’s not what she’d wanted. She’d chased him away.

 

Looming, dark conflict was tearing her apart. She shook her head to make the images and his voice go away, in vain.

 

She slid down to the floor, curled up and hugged herself. The salty water which poured down her cheeks soon transformed into an ugly sob.

 

 

Wonderful depiction of the Kiss Scene by Mrsmancuspia!!

 

Chapter Text

 


Our adored shirtless K-yl0! Art by Sashaliddellmcgregorart

 

The drizzle fell down from Coruscant’s dome, washing the dirty streets and the contaminated atmosphere as K-yl0 walked down a crowded avenue late at night. His pace was unhurried, his shoulders stooped, head facing the ground. He zigzagged through the streets with no real destination. He had nowhere to go. Nobody waiting for him. No one ever had been, but now that reality sliced into him.

 

At one point, he stopped and gazed at the black emptiness above him, before closing his eyelids and letting the rain caress his pale skin as if it could wash away the ache in his chest. For the first time in his life, he walked outside unmasked and the rain was threatening to soak him, but he didn’t care. His thoughts drifted back to the other night, where everything had changed in a matter of seconds.  

 

He’d dashed out of Rei’s apartment, directly aiming for the lift, which had, fortunately, come promptly. As it engulfed him, shielding him from the world, he’d finally given free rein to his inner wrath. The pain was so sharp it was howling inside him, making him shiver, his breath catch as he raised the helmet cradled in his hand and looked at it with disgust. Now he had a name, a name she had given him, and he’d been foolish enough to consign whatever there was between them to oblivion. Never had his self-loathing been so intense. The rage came out without warning - he smashed the helmet against the elevator wall and hammered it with such strength that all that was left of it was a twisted hunk of black and silver metal. He was done hiding from the world. He was done with everything.

 

At least, that’s what he’d felt…what he’d tried to do, in vain.

 

How long had it been since he’d left her apartment? He didn’t remember. He’d been busy hiding from Snoke and Hux and had taken precautions not to be found. He hadn't dared go back and spy on Rei - he felt so ashamed he didn’t know if he could ever look into her eyes ever again, had he met her in the street.  He couldn’t suppress the memory of how her lips had felt under his; their softness still gave him goosebumps. Kissing her had been like signing his death warrant.

 

Now that his anger had receded, he was left with nothing but the company of bitter regret. His insides felt like the rain: cold and icy. He lowered his head, and, as his sorrowful eyes scanned the streets and the passing strangers, it was as if life’s colors had been sucked into a dark void. Everything was colorless and gray. Like it had been before meeting Rei.

 

He continued to walk down the streets, until, eventually, the need for a smoke to ease his nerves was too strong to resist, and it was impossible in the pouring rain. He checked his surroundings.

 

Where was he? He hadn’t even paid attention. He checked the street names.

 

Ah. Yes. He knew a bar near from here. The only thing he needed at this point was a strong whiskey.

 

He turned right in a gloomy alley, which was only lit by the flashy neon ads of surrounding bars, motels and penthouses. The bar he knew was part of that urban underworld where drugs were dealt, humans came to find android or human whores, and play cards to forget their meaningless lives until they were so altered that they didn’t remember anything the next day. It actually suited his current state of mind perfectly.

 

He stopped before a door with a red neon sign above it which read “Kanji-klub”. He pushed it opened and entered the smoke-bathed place. The blasting electronic music and blue flashy lights barely registered as he navigated through the crowd of people toward the bar, towering above everybody else who quickly moved out of his way because of his imposing frame. He shook his head ever so slightly to get the water off of his face and out of his hair, then glanced at the barman, whom he was acquainted with and often bribed for information. The gruff-looking bartender had short black hair and cunning eyes, a sharp jaw and a three-day beard; he was wearing a strange looking small squared-shape hat. He was known as “DJ”; nobody knew his true name, but he had the lowdown on everyone in the underground world.

 

Upon seeing K-yl0, he pointed at a seat before the bar with his chin.

 

“Well, well…if-if it is-isn’t Kay-Why-El-Zero” he stammered, although it wasn’t out of fear; he always spoke this way. He tossed a glass onto the counter before K-yl0 seated himself on a high stool. “The usual?”

 

K-yl0 frowned. “Actually, make that a double.”

 

DJ creased an eyebrow. “Ha-had one of th-those days?” The grin was palpable in his words.

 

K-yl0 met his amused gaze; his lips curved down and he retrieved a package of cigarette from his inside coat pocket before DJ poured him the golden liquid, still scanning his face and waiting for an answer.

 

“None of your business,” he grumbled. He was in no mood. DJ’s smirk deepened but he knew better than to press the point.

 

K-yl0 stuck a cig in his mouth and lit it, both hands protecting the small flame coming out of the lighter, illuminating the small droplets of water dripping from his hair. The cig’s end turned red before he took a deep puff from it and exhaled; the smoke danced lightly around him. He raised the glass to his lips and took a sip of the whiskey. The liquid was strong enough to burn his throat; the familiar smoke and alcohol prickled his veins soothed his tingling nerves.

 

He was already on this third glass and a dozen smokes when he saw someone sit on his right side from the corner of his eye. That was unusual - his presence was rather intimidating, and nobody would dare come near him when he sat at the bar. Curiosity getting the best of him, he peered at the intruder and quirked an eyebrow. A young woman, with short, black and blue-dyed hair as well as almond shaped-eyes like a cat was facing him directly. He warily scanned the rest of her; she was dressed in a plastic, transparent raincoat which gave a full view of the gray bra cupping her generous chest and a tight short skirt with high heels. A golden serpent was painted across her right shoulder down to her side. By her attire, heavy black makeup and red lips, K-yl0 got the idea pretty quickly.

 

“Hey, handsome,” her feline voice said with a seductive smile, revealing her white teeth. She dared to touch his arm, feeling the mechanical limb and arching an eyebrow in surprise, but not disinterest, before her gaze returned to his.

 

K-yl0 kept his mouth shut and watched her carefully.

 

“Care to have fun tonight?” she asked teasingly, “For you, I’ll make that half the price,” she winked at him, visibly turned on by his appearance as she scanned the rest of him with open interest.

 

K-yl0 found himself considering his options. She wasn’t that bad-looking and he felt utterly rejected. His self-loathing ran so deep that the fact a woman would pay any attention to him spiked his curiosity - and eased his wounded ego. For a split second, it crossed his mind that he’d never had any sexual experience and felt growingly awkward about it; Rei didn’t want any of him…and this could be an opportunity.

 

But before he knew, his thoughts traveled back to the woman who had made her nest in his heart, naked before her window, exposing her pert breasts, the curve of her shoulders and hips, her slender figure…and he knew. If he was ever to make love to a woman, he wanted her, the one to ignite these conflicted, damning, terribly essential feelings. He’d touched himself more than he’d care to admit to the image of her that night; her silhouette was engraved within his memory like data to an electronic chip, haunting his nights. How many times had he woken up with an erection? He’d stopped counting; it was humiliating.

 

However, in light of this realization, her rejection stung even more. He remembered her pushing him away, tearing her mouth away from his in shock and contempt, backing against the wall…as if she truly saw him as a monster. He forced himself to forget how she'd been almost tender as if she cared. She clearly didn’t; his fantasies had clouded his mind. But despite his feeling of being utterly shunned, in spite of everything, he knew there could be only her, thus preventing him to attempt anything with any other women.

 

He lowered his gaze back down to his half-empty glass. “I don’t need your services,” he responded coldly before drinking the rest of the liquid down in one shot and taking another smoke out of the cig in his gloved hand.  

 

The woman tilted her head to the side, eyeing him as if he were some rare curiosity. Seeing that she didn’t leave, he glanced back at her, annoyed.

 

“What is it? Why don’t you go grab someone else?” he snapped, a deep frown on his features.

 

“You’re having a problem with a woman,” she said, almost matter-of-factly.

 

To say K-yl0 was surprised was an understatement. How the hell does she know? Failing to disguise his disbelief, he took another puff from his smoke and waved to DJ that he wanted another drink. He considered her carefully. He was curious and he felt there was no point hiding it. “How do you know?”

 

“It’s my job to know men. To know how to please them.” She licked the seam of her lips, gazing at him hotly as if she were throwing him a hook. "No man in these places says no to a whore, especially when offered half the price. Either he’s too drunk, or he’s got some lady issues can’t bring himself sleep with another woman.”

 

K-yl0 immediately thought she’d made one good observation but she’d missed a crucial point. “What tells you I’m a man?”

 

She giggled. “I don’t care what you are - man or android, they both have the same needs. If they can have a good fuck with a whore, they do.”

 

He cocked an eyebrow. It was good to know he wasn’t the only one to have pressing needs.

 

“You’re honest with your profession.”

 

“I’m not ashamed of what I am. It’s my job. And I get to choose my customers,” she said, eyes blazing.

 

K-yl0 only picked up the first part of the sentence. She wasn’t ashamed. But he was, he was ashamed of what he was, of what he’d done. Of everything.

 

Upon seeing him ignore most of what she’d said, the woman added, “So, what’s your story, mister…?” She raised her eyebrows.

 

Her exaggerated pause told him she was asking for his name. His heart pinched in his chest; he hesitated for a brief moment before offering her the name Rei had given him. “Kylo,” he finally answered after the silence. It felt wrong, somehow, to share Rei’s gift with someone, and especially another woman.

 

“Kylo,” she repeated slowly and he couldn’t prevent himself from thinking that name sounded better on Rei’s lips. “I’m Bazine,” she told him with a smile, now leaning against the counter and asking for a drink herself. “So, tell me, Kylo. What’s your story?”

 

“Why do you care?” he inquired warily. Nobody ever cared about what happened to him. Not until Rei, and he’d ruined it.

 

“You look lonely. And you’re cute. Plus, I’ve got the whole night ahead of me, my clients can wait,” she explained now sipping the drink DJ had poured hers before attending other customers. She was obviously also a regular; DJ hadn’t even asked what she wanted.

 

“You got a cig?” she then asked him. Kylo obliged and handed her the package then offered her a light. She inhaled, hallowed her cheeks, and released the smoke which added to the already smoke-filled place. She then faced him, resting an elbow on the counter, waiting for his explanation.    

 

He decided he didn’t have anything to lose. “I fucked it up. I tried to kiss her. She rejected me,” he said with blatant honesty. “Thought she cared, but…I was wrong.”

 

“Oh, a woman rejecting you like that doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t want anything from you,” she said casually.

 

K-yl0 almost spat out his drink. He chocked a bit and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “What do you mean?” he asked eagerly.

 

Bazine shrugged. “Well. It could have been too early. You maybe pressured her a bit. Maybe she got scared…you’re quite the imposing type,” she smirked knowingly.

 

K-yl0’s eyes rounded. He hadn’t considered it in that light. The sharp sting of rejection was so fresh and raw he ached all over. Maybe he did rush it. Ok, scratch that - he clearly rushed it. Maybe he still had a chance? A sudden warmth came back to his chest at the mere idea. Rei …

 

He took another sip of his drink and lit himself another smoke. “Any idea what I could do to make it better?”

 

The femme-fatale narrowed her eyes and considered him through hooded lids. She took a puff from her cigarette and pondered her answer. “Yes, I do. You could maybe send her something special. That usually makes women reconsider things.”

 

K-yl0’s mind lit with an idea. He knew exactly what he could send her.

 

 

***

 

 

“No, Poe, I’m telling you I’m fine. I’m just very tired. I’ve been sleeping badly,” an annoyed Rei told her pressing boss, as she focused again on her screen and took a sip of the coffee R2 had been kind enough to bring her.

 

She wasn’t lying. A week had passed since Kylo had left her apartment, slamming the door behind him and disappearing into the wild, vast city. There was no trace of him. However, he never left her thoughts for more than an hour or so. She didn't know if it was his kiss or just the ghost of his presence in her apartment that haunted her; the fact was she'd started having dreams about him, making it impossible to forget him. He'd started appearing to her the night he'd left - as if his lips on hers had triggered some unconscious reaction in her - after Rei had crashed onto her bed, crying herself to sleep.

 

However, his overall appearance was different. His hair wasn’t half-shaved and was longer, for instance, and his left arm bore no tattoos. Yet she knew it was him - his aura was the same, his masculine, imposing frame she remembered so clearly as he crashed into her with such searing passion.

 

The problem was, he seemed to have imposed his kingdom on her dreams with no intention of ever stepping down. She’d seen him every night for a week. The dreams were so real they were nerve-wracking. But last night had been punctuated by a horrible nightmare where she’d witnessed his bloodied, wounded body in a dim-lit room as he called out to her. She’d woken up in terror, bathed in sweat, panting several minutes before being able to catch her breath.

 

She had been incapable of finding sleep again, wandering inside her apartment and gazing absent-mindedly out the window, thinking of where he could have vanished to, if his master had punished him…or worse, if he had killed him. Thinking about it again, the idea made her shiver; seeing how his body was already maimed and scarred, she dared not to think of what had happened to him.

 

Poe’s voice broke through the mire of her reverie, snapping her back to the moment. "So, new haircut?" he asked, sitting on the edge of her desk and cocking his head to the side as if trying to initiate a conversation with her.

 

Rei was happy to see someone had noticed. Indeed, she had. She’d felt a pressing urge to do anything not to think about the situation she found herself in. Of course, she hadn’t told anyone about Kylo exploding into her life. She didn’t want to think about it, her guilt at pushing him had made her want to forget the whole damn thing. She was a grown woman, and even if he was attractive, she’d never give herself to an android, let alone the one who’d murdered her master in cold blood. Yet those dreams upset her more than she cared to admit.

 

“Yes, I did,” she responded a bit shyly, touching her ends, which were now pink, “Do you like it?” she asked, and found herself wondering if Kylo would like it, before cursing herself.

 

For the first time in her life, she’d used her Home-Hair Helmet -or “3H”, as they were called - to die her ends. The 3H were extremely practical; they were big, round multitask helmets for hair styling. Who had time to go to hair saloons anyway? They’d been an immediate commercial success. One would just stick one’s head in the helmet and ask exactly for what you wanted. It was voice-commanded, enabling the user to do anything else while waiting. She only needed to introduce the correct die in the dying compartment before the process. She’d cut her hair to her chin, and her wavy ends were now showing a gradation of pale to flashier pink.

 

“It suits you really well. It goes with your eyes perfectly. And it makes you look happier,” he beamed at her, before pursing his lips hesitantly. “You look beautiful, as usual…”

 

She stared at him, awe-struck, cheeks menacing to flush pink. She didn’t know what to respond but his tone had definitely implied something. Was he flirting with her? “Oh…thanks,” she finally said, looking away from him.

 

Poe leaned a bit more over the desk and Rei had to apply all her mind-power not to move backward. “You’re always beautiful; you know that, don’t you?” he complimented her in a languorous tone.

 

Now her cheeks colored a deep tone of red as her gaze flickered back to his, at a loss for anything to say. 

 

Oh God, she had not invented this. Oh shit…She never had any intentions with Poe. Of course, she’d noticed he was always overly protective of her… but surely it didn’t mean…had she missed something? He was her boss!

 

A providential noise coming from the entrance diverted their attention. A knock came from their bureau’s door, and Finn immediately went to answer. There was a man, standing in the entrance with a package in his hands. That was strange. Packages were very rare and letters were always electronic.  

 

When he’d signed the man’s data pad, Finn turned around and looked straight at Rei. “It’s for you.”

 

Rei blinked in surprise. “Me?

 

Finn closed the distance to her desk where he deposited the package, casting her a puzzled look. Rei simply stared at it.

 

“Open it,” nudged Poe, “If it went through security, there’s nothing dangerous in it”

 

Adrenaline rushed in Rei’s veins. She’d never received anything - what could it be? She hastily tore the synthetic wrapping off. It revealed a plastic white box. Rei cautiously lifted the lid, which opened with a click.

 

She clasped a hand over her lips.

 

A long, transparent tube with a beautiful white iris was inside it. Everyone’s mouth fell to the floor.

 

“Is that -…” Finn’s voice trailed off, while Rei, completely awe-struck, now picked up the tube with shaking hands, where the iris was suspended inside, as if by magic. It was so exquisitely beautiful that her eyes prickled.

 

Poe’s eyes were huge. “But - how? Those don’t exist anymore!”

 

Rei stared at the long-lost flower with a racing heartbeat as she started connecting the dots. She immediately remembered Kylo’s plant tattoo and his evasive response to her question. She haphazardly looked inside the box again, where laid small piece of paper - something that also had practically disappeared from the surface of the Earth.

 

She didn't pay any attention to Finn, who asked if he could hold the tube with the precious flower. She handed it to him and neared a trembling finger to the piece of paper. She picked it up and turned it around. Three words were written with elegant, black calligraphic writing.  

 

I’m sorry. K.

 

The piece of paper shook in her hands as she confirmed who had sent her this. She breathed again – he was alive. Poe and Finn came beside her, casting a glance at the paper.

 

I’m sorry?...Rei what the hell?” asked a frowning, puzzled Finn.

 

She didn’t look at him, for her eyes would have betrayed her lie. “I-I have no idea…” she said slowly, shaking her head.

 

Poe’s eyebrows knitted darkly. “Rei – you got a boyfriend?” His jealousy was palpable in his tone, which was not lost on Rei. “Cute boyfriend?”

 

She swallowed but avoided his searching stare; instead, she gaped at the white flower, which she took again from Finn’s hands. “No, I don’t,” she said, now more firmly. After all, that was not a lie. “I don’t understand any of this.”

 

But in the privacy of her mind - she knew exactly what was going on.

 

***

 

K-yl0 sat on the rooftop across from Rei’s building again and was powerless to keep from biting his lips over and over. Cigarettes had become useless to ease his anxiety. He knew she'd already gotten his gift, since he'd tracked the delivery number on his datapad. His nerves were made a bundle of electric wires. What did she think? Would she know it was him? It had taken him two days to gather the courage to send it to her. Once he'd done it, he'd cursed himself so many times for trying to connect with her, before rushing to think he’d done the right thing - his mind was like a pendulum, incapable of settling on a resolution.

 

Unable to calm himself, he’d decided to go back to the familiar rooftop; he needed to know what she thought - something, anything. He’d chosen to send the iris to her workplace, since he didn’t know when she was going to come home, and he wanted to avoid the delivery man storing the precious flower for the night if he had to wait for a second attempt. He’d refused to spy on her at work - before scolding himself again for the decision, and racing to the rooftop across from her apartment when he’d seen the delivery message appear on his screen.

 

The sudden light appearing in Rei’s flat snapped him back to reality. He rushed to his feet and took out his night binoculars.

 

Surely, Rei stepped in view in her living room, where she was welcomed by a golden-droid. Oh, yes, she’d mentioned she had a protocol droid. His eyes settled immediately on what she had in her hands: the plastic box he’d sent her and for a brief moment, he didn’t know if his heart could stand so much hammering in his chest. He saw her talk to her droid while opening the box, from where she retrieved the precious tube with the white flower.

 

The droid and Rei fell into a conversation about the flower, for the droid pointed at it; they talked for a long moment while Rei was holding it. He zoomed the lenses on her face, to get a better look at her - she was beaming and looking at the iris with such a loving gaze that a warm feeling surged in his chest, spreading like a vine through his entire body. He let out the air he’d held for so long and relaxed immediately. She wasn’t angry at him, or at least - not anymore.

 

Inside her apartment, Rei didn’t know if she had been this excited before in her life. She was aware that the nature of such a gift made Kylo’s intentions clear - and she felt a tug in her stomach at the very idea that she was so important to him despite the fact she had openly rejected him - it was the first time someone had ever been so attentive toward her.

 

She’d never received such a gift - she adored flowers and missed them so much. They reminded her of a past which had suddenly been obliterated and turned into the grey skies of Coruscant, the gigantic orb that had engulfed her and her happiness. True colors had left her life and yet - this was a reminder there were still white irises somewhere, somehow. She needed to know his secret - and she was now certain he was hiding something. But how could she find him again? Would he ever come back to her?

 

When C3 stopped giving her a full-fledged dissertation on how plants had disappeared from the surface of the Earth, she retrieved the little note he'd sent her - and without even thinking , she drifted into her bedroom and carefully laid it on her night table. Maybe this would ease her nightmares? She sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the stylish handwriting. Now that she thought about it, in the silence of her bedroom, she noticed it was the same script that she’d seen on his tattooed arm. Had he done that tattoo himself?

 

He was still such a mystery. The week following his disappearance, she’d searched for the mysterious name on his neck tattoo, First Order. She had talked to Rose about it since she had successfully infiltrated the Starkiller Corporation as a mechanic specialist and undercover Special Agent. She told her she needed to know if it had anything to do with it, although she had carefully avoided telling her why she was asking for this information - only disclosing she’d stumbled upon it. As far as she knew, her friends would highly disapprove of her even talking to a mass android murderer - not to mention sparing his life and helping him. Even to her, it made no sense, but her instincts told her there was something important she had to unveil and this implied keeping it a secret. All for professional reasons, of course.  

 

She spread her body on her bed and activated her watch; she’d wanted to investigate this flower ever since she laid eyes on it in the office. She knew flowers were symbols. She thus voiced commanded the browser to search for the meaning of white irises. The watch’s mechanical voice soon irrupted into a speech: “White irises were pre-apocalypse flowers. Currently extinct. The meaning of the Greek word iris means, rainbow. The plant of iris is named after the goddess 'Iris' because of its beauty and because of the varied colors in the flowers of this genus. In Greek legends and mythology, the goddess 'Iris' was the messenger who traveled on the rainbow between the lands of Human beings and the Gods. The flower of iris implies a message and a promise of hope. White irises symbolize purity.”

 

Rei’s jaw dropped – Iris because of its beauty? The flower of a Goddess? A promise of hope? Purity? Was she digging in too much or was all this linked to what Kylo was trying to tell her? She remembered his grief-stricken face and her eyes settled again on the piece of paper next to her. It wasn't hard to tell he was begging for forgiveness – and the symbols associated with the flower were so meaningful. Had he thought all this out? The sheer thought made her heart melt.

 

Eventually, C3 interrupted her reflections. “Master Rei - I think we should maybe find some sort of support for the flower’s tube. Since it is probably protected by the artificial atmosphere of the tube, we cannot open it. But I am sure you would like it to be presented so we could admire its beauty,” he suggested.

 

“You’re right C3,” answered Rei cheerfully. “Ah, I know. I saw something the other day in a store in the city center which I think would work perfectly. I will go and fetch it right now!”

 

“Meanwhile, shall I prepare you dinner?” asked the faithful servant.

 

"That would be marvelous." She glanced at the time on her watch. It was still early enough to go since those stores stayed open until late. She could go with her hoverboard that way she would be there in no time.

 

Soon she was downstairs with her board in her arms, walking toward a small alley which was not as crowded as her street since it needed space to take off. She was so distracted by the day’s emotions that she didn’t notice when a tall figure followed her, coming out from the crowd.

 

She laid the board on the ground and was about to stick her feet into the straps when suddenly she felt a presence behind her  - and something smashed her right in the face, sending her flying on the ground with a high-pitched cry.

 

Fuck – what-?

 

Disoriented by the blow, she winced and opened her eyes as much as the pain would allow it, bringing a hand to her jaw, which hurt horribly. She tasted iron in her mouth and her hands were soon covered with red, thick blood. She glanced upward and panic invaded her.

 

A huge, silver goliath-like ghost was staring at her. Ghosts were human-like robots, with a transferred consciousness; they were called ghosts because their bodies were like empty shells. Some humans actually chose to live within an artificial body to survive, but others were fully artificial. This Ghost was a she, with synthetic blond hair and piercing crystal-blue eyes. The metal clasps on her face gave her a frightening appearance. Her whole artificial body looked like armor, clad in silver. She held an immense silver spear in her hand, with which she’d just attacked Rei. And she was coming right at her again.

 

Ignoring her pain and getting to her feet quicker than lighting, Rei rushed to her belt and retrieved her retractile sword. She ignited it just in time to shield herself from the blow, the blue light of her sword spitting fiery sparks against the metallic weapon. Rei was strong - but this ghost was a monster - she was about to crush Rei, who, with a cat-like move, leaned on her free hand and rolled herself to the side, while the spear came crashing to the ground.

 

Shit, this is bad, she thought. She barely had time to press the emergency button on her watch - sending a signal to her colleagues - before she took her laser gun out and fired on the ghost several times. However, her metal body was immune to shots; the blows just deflected, causing her no damage and soon, her foot came crashing against Rei’s jaw again, sending her rolling several meters away.

 

She clenched her eyes shut under the intense pain; her whole body shivered and ached terribly. When she tried to move, she found she couldn’t.

 

Her eyelids moved open slowly; blood was dripping and smeared all over her face; she saw the giant come for her again and her eyes widened in terror - she was going to get killed.

 

But without warning - somebody kicked the goliath robot violently out of the way, sending her flying away with the impact; she smashed between trash cans not far from them.

 

Still on the ground, Rei lifted her trembling, injured head to the tall black figure which had landed right before her, his back to hers. He retrieved a sword and soon, a crackling red beam illuminated his clothes.

 

Rei’s heart skipped a beat. She knew that sword.

 

He peered behind his shoulder, careful not to lose the goliath’s sight.

 

Dark eyes met hazel once again.

 

Kylo.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Are you okay?” Kylo asked Rei, who was still lying flat on the ground. All her limbs were trembling and her heart pounding fiercely in her rib cage. In the darkness of the night, the red beam of his sword glowed and flickered like a flame in Kylo's obsidian eyes.

 

Rei was transfixed by the intensity of his gaze as he looked upon her. He’d come out of his hiding to save her, again.

 

Before she could provide an answer, there was a threatening noise: the silvery ghost had untangled herself from the trash cans, and stood again to her full height. Kylo’s attention whipped back to her. He slid a long leg to the side, shielding Rei from the assailant's sight.

 

“Phasma! Let her go or I’ll make sure to destroy all your rusty wires this time!” he barked in a low, hostile voice.  

 

Rei’s bloody mouth dropped. What ? He knew this ghost?

 

Quite unexpectedly, the ghost snickered. A mad, cold robotic laugh which sent a chill down Rei’s spine.     

 

“Kay-Why-El-Zero. There you are, you traitor. It wasn’t that difficult to find you after all - your master was right to set you a trap,” she snarled.

 

Traitor? His master set a trap for him? Rei’s brain raced to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. So I’ve been used as bait?

 

“And you expect me to follow you like a good boy?” Kylo questioned acerbically. “Those days are over!” He hissed.

 

Phasma scoffed. “And you expect to fight me and win this match?” The ghost responded contemptuously.

 

Rei couldn’t see Kylo’s features, but his gloved fists balled up so tight they were quivering. The air was suddenly sucked out. The ghost settled herself in attack position, grabbing her spear in both hands, ready to strike at any moment. Her distorted, droid-like smile as well as the self-confidence she radiated were sickening to watch. It then struck Rei: this ghost was trained in martial arts just as she and Kylo were. He was in danger.

 

Kylo bowed his body in and lifted his sword to his eye-level; he turned it slowly, pointing at her menacingly. Rei could practically feel his rage.

 

There was a terrifying beat of silence as the two faced off.

 

Kylo launched forward, running toward her at full speed; he raised his sword which met Phasma’s spear with a deafening sound; a rain of yellow and red sparks flew all around them. They engaged in a stare-down as they both pushed their weapons toward the other. But the ghost, who towered over Kylo by a head, was alarmingly powerful.

 

All of a sudden, she used all her strength to push him back sharply, destabilizing and causing him to whirl to the side. But instead of falling, he kept in balance and took advantage of the momentum with his foot to attack her again, casting a kick and then a blow with his sword. Crackling red electric laser-sword and metallic spear collided as Kylo tried to disarm his opponent. He laid an elbow punch right in her face and she jolted backward but didn’t falter, her robotic smile growing on her features as she deflected each of his attacks.

 

Screams resonated all around them; people started to gather to witness the fight.

 

Rei succeeded in lifting herself on her knees while making sure to keep Kylo in her line of sight. Watching him fight was mesmerizing; it was as if a savage beast had been unleashed from its chains and set free. He attacked the robot with every ounce of wrath he possessed - as if he was fighting for revenge. Rage distorted his handsome features; teeth bared and snarling as he mercilessly attacked her over and over. For a long moment, he had the advantage over his opponent and Rei was helpless to stare at him in awe as he displayed mastery of every martial arts she’d ever seen. His tactic was brutal but graceful, skilled yet raw.

 

But there was a problem. Kylo was growing tired; he was panting and gasping for air, losing his ground progressively, whereas the ghost didn’t. Her artificial body provided an infinite amount of energy. Ghosts didn’t need to sleep but androids did: their organic structure was similar to humans, and they grew tired as any normal human being would.

 

Phasma blocked yet another sword strike with her arm, which cut through her metallic structure but didn’t section the limb. She growled loudly and seemed so furious her eyes turned lethal. In retaliation, she launched onto him with all her might and ferociously hit Kylo in the face. His head flew backward with the impact and he lost grip of his sword. She kicked him in the abdomen and struck him in the face once more, causing him to collapse on the ground with a loud thump. His whole body seized as he gasped for air and hugged his stomach.

 

“Kylo!” screamed Rei from the other side of the street. Please get up, get up Kylo! She prayed.

 

But before he was capable of getting to his feet, the silvery ghost towered over him, a wicked smile of satisfaction on her face. She bent down, grabbed him by the collar and lifted him upwards with one hand. His feet soon left the ground for the goliath was taller than he was; his head rolled over before he gathered the courage to straighten it, eyeing her with pure hate. His face was stained with trickles of crimson blood, earning him a scoff from his opponent.

 

“You pathetic creature. Have I not taught you everything I know? You’re just a traitor to your own kind. A traitor to our master,” she snarled before punching him in the face. Once. Twice. Three times.

 

Rei was utterly terrified. If the ghost continued, she was going to kill him. She had to do something. Why hadn't backup arrived? She quickly glanced at her watch - and her heart sank: the glass screen was shattered, the device must have broken when she fell to the ground. Finn and Poe never got her alert.

 

She scanned her surroundings and there was overall panic. Some people were gathered, gasping and clasping a hand over their mouths in shock. Others ran away in every direction or were talking to people over their cell-watches.

 

“Please! Someone! Call the police!” beseeched Rei as she got to her feet with difficulty, grabbing her sword which had turned off when she’d rolled onto the ground. She veered back toward Kylo; his head had fallen backward. Phasma was now pressing his throat and constricting it. Rei suddenly noticed the ghost had the same tattoo as Kylo on the back of her neck.

 

So, they were allies…Kylo’s rebelling against them.

 

She remembered all his scars and now witnessing the ghost wounding him viciously, anger simmered in Rei’s veins, pouring energy back into her body. She ignited her sword again and dashed toward the ghost.

 

“Let him go!” She roared as she attacked the silvery robot from behind. It didn’t have time to react. Rei’s sword cut the ghost’s metallic side, slicing her open - wires gushed out of her body and she let go of Kylo, who sunk to the ground.

 

Phasma turned around to face her, a murderous look in her transparent blue eyes.

 

“You human scum,” she spat, now taking out a gun which hung from her waist.

 

Rei was not impressed. Phasma lifted her gun and fired but Rei deflected all the shots with her sword, earning her an arched eyebrow from the ghost. Rei bared her teeth, and with a ferocious howl, launched onto her opponent. She knew she had to aim for the machine's vital parts if she was to have a chance; her knowledge of mechanics could maybe save her in this fight. She tried to spear her sword into her artificial heart, but the ghost was quick and flexible. Phasma avoided body contact and deflected Rei’s hits one by one, trying to find an opportunity to point the gun in her direction again.

 

But Rei was already in bad condition, and a blast from the gun struck her suddenly. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a laser gun; it was a stun gun. Rey’s body froze in mid-air and crashed onto the ground. She couldn’t move an eyelash; everything was hazy and blurred. Her head and body hurt so much she was about to lose consciousness. The goliath then took another gun from her belt - and this time, Rei knew she was doomed.

 

Phasma raised the laser gun and was about to shoot - but Rei’s vision was clouded by a dark figure which appeared in her range of sight.  

 

In a last reckless attempt to protect her, Kylo disarmed the ghost by destroying the weapon with his sword, but the effort had obviously cost him his last streak of energy. He fell to his knees, before crumpling and collapsing on the side, his broad mass plunging as a falling tree, like the ones Rei witnessed during the Apocalypse. She couldn't see his face but his body went still as if he'd lost consciousness.

 

No! she cried in a silent scream. Rei desperately tried to reach him - to extend a hand to touch him - but she couldn’t.  

 

Miraculously, sirens erupted from behind them, Rei heard hovercars park near, soon followed by commanding voices.

 

The silvery ghost cursed out loud and crouched before Kylo. She wrapped her arms around him and shoved his immense body over her shoulder. He was so massive she had to support him with both hands.

 

Rei suddenly realized what was happening - she was going to abduct him.

 

No, no, please, no! Rei begged soundlessly. Kylo!

 

Before the police could figure out what was happening, Rei powerlessly watched Phasma stand up with Kylo flanked over her shoulder, before the goliath kicked her in the stomach and the face once more.

 

The pain was so sharp that Rei unwillingly fell into black shadows; the world disappeared from view. 

 

***

 

Her eyelids felt like lead. She lethargically tried to open them, but they seemed glued by gravity together. Indistinct voices rang around her as if disembodied; she could make no sense of them.  She felt cold…now, warm, as if somebody had tucked her under heavy covers.

 

“Rei,” a sweet, familiar voice called out. “Rei, it’s me. Wake up peanut.”

 

Her eyelashes fluttered opened, timidly at first; there was a bright light and everything was blurred. Her hand rose to rub her eyes; she blinked, from the haziness emerged a white room. There was a figure next to her.

 

Where am I?

 

She slowly focused and her eyes narrowed to Finn, who was standing by the side of the bed.

 

“Finn?” she croaked.

 

Her mind instantly traveled to Kylo. Where’s Kylo? She scanned her surroundings and her heart sank as the blurred images poured back into her brain, awakening her fully now. He’d protected her, exposing himself and falling into the trap they had set for him. This was all her fault...the ghost had taken him away! No, no…She had to get up. She had to find him before it was too late.

 

She tried to feel her body, but everything was numb, as if stuck in mud; she was under the impression she hadn’t moved in ages. She tried to straighten up and Finn helped her. He grabbed another pillow, lifted her chest a bit and tucked it underneath her back.

 

“There, there,” he soothed her, passing a hand on her forehead and - wait a minute, why was her hair wet ?

 

Suddenly, the door flung open; Poe came racing in. "Did she wake up?" he asked hastily before his eyes settled on hers. "Oh, thank god," he exclaimed, nearing the bed.

 

“Wh-what happened?” She asked both of them with a strained voice.

 

“You’re the one who should tell us that. You’re lucky to be alive Peanut,” said Finn gently. “You almost didn’t make it. We had to put you in a bacta tank.”

 

She blinked but stayed silent. Now she understood why her hair was wet. She’d been put into intense medical care. It wasn’t surprising: the ghost had aimed to kill her. If it hadn’t been for Kylo, she would be dead by now.

 

Her eyes watered as she remembered him falling to his knees and collapsing next to her. Why had they taken him away? Would they take his life for saving hers? Was it too late already? Unwillingly, tears formed at the corner of her eyes.

 

Finn and Poe attributed her emotional state to whatever she’d been through. Poe took a handkerchief on the night table and sat on the edge of the bed. He cupped her chin gently and wiped the tears which had now fallen down. “There, there, it’s okay Rei, you’re safe now. Our beautiful, brave Rei,” he said, boring his eyes into hers with a charming smile.

 

She stared at him, at a loss for anything to say; this situation with Poe was growing more and more uncomfortable by the minute. How was she going to explain to Poe that she really wasn't interested in him that way? She’d always felt awkward relating to people, needless to say, she was a disaster when it came to relationships with men. Failing to find a solution now, she looked away, avoiding his searching gaze before he spoke to her again.

 

“Rei, you need to tell us what happened.”

 

Shit.

 

It didn’t occur to her for one minute to tell them the truth.

 

“I-I don’t remember,” she lied, trying to sound as natural as possible. 

 

She scolded herself  - when the hell had she started to lie so much? It was too late to lament anything; there was no other way. If she explained, Poe and Finn would begin a search for Kylo and the mysterious ghost. If Poe ever figured things out, he would retire Kylo immediately, and it was specifically what Rei wanted to avoid at all costs. Their…whatever this thing was, it had to remain a secret, buried deep within the walls of her soul.

 

“You don’t remember? Anything?” asked Poe, arching a dubious eyebrow. He peered at Finn, who shrugged.

 

“No…I mean…I was going to go get something in the city center…and then, this ghost attacked me. I think I lost consciousness at that moment,”

 

There was a beat of silence as Poe and Finn glanced at each other again.

 

"Rei, eyewitnesses said somebody was fighting with you. A ‘tall, massive, black-clothed guy' was their description," he said, checking his notes on a datapad. "He fought the ghost. And then you attacked the ghost too before it retaliated and sent you to the ground again," explained Finn.

 

Shit. Of course there would be eyewitnesses. They had called the police and seen everything.

 

“Oh- Is that that what happened?” asked Rei, trying to sound casual.

 

Poe intervened. “And it matches the description of the guy who attacked you in your apartment,” he added, eyeing her carefully.

 

Oh lord. She didn’t like where this was going. At all.

 

She hadn’t noticed her fists had gone rigid, grabbing the sheets of her bed abnormally tight. She looked to the side before taking a deep breath.

 

“I-I don’t remember any of this. And I have no clue who this person could be, why would he attack me and then save me? It makes no sense!” she exclaimed, looking at both of them again. Good, Rei, that sounded more convincing at least, she thought hopefully.

 

Poe and Finn blinked. “Yeah, that’s true. But the eyewitnesses were clear. Several testimonies coincide. Unfortunately, there were no cameras in that alleyway. It was off the main street!” grumbled Poe. “And those cameras don’t show the pictures of the ghost nor this guy; there were too many people.”

 

Thank god, secretly thought Rei, or they’d have a clear image of Kylo by now.

 

Before Rei could breathe out in relief, the door swung open again. The three companions' eyes whipped to the entrance.

 

Leia Organa was standing there, a hand still on the doorknob, while the other held a walking cane. She was dressed formally in a long midnight blue dress with a high collar, which meant she’d come from her workplace.

 

“Senator!” exclaimed Poe.

 

“Cut the formalities Poe,” retorted Leia, nearing the bed, earning Poe to clamp his mouth shut. She hadn’t known Poe for a long time, but his excessive observance of protocols pissed off Leia, who was well known for her honesty and directness.

 

She neared the bed, and Finn moved aside to let her reach Rei. The elder caressed her skin with her palm, sending a soothing, warm sensation to Rei, who put a hand over Leia's.

 

“Rei, I heard the news and came immediately. Are you alright?” she asked, scanning her face.

 

Rei’s lips curved upward. Leia had always been so generous with her - she was almost a mother, the mother Rei had always wanted to have. “Yes, I’m ok now. A bit cranky and numb, but out of danger.”

 

“Good, good, I am so relieved to see you alright,” Leia peered at Finn and Poe before scanning the room. “Is there a TV here?”

 

“A TV?” asked Finn, quirking an eyebrow “What for? I’m sure Rei is in good company.”

 

The elder’s eyes settled on the giant plasma encased in the room’s wall. “No, it’s not for company. We need to watch something. Snoke is giving a speech.”

 

The three companions eyed Leia in disbelief. “He never gives speeches!” said Poe.

 

"Well, this is why it's important to see what he has to say," said Lei, fiddling with the remote control to turn the device on. She succeeded at last and surfed through the couple of channels that existed. There weren't many channels available in Coruscant. The choice was rather scarce: some were Snoke's propaganda, other were about superficial events with hours of Soap Operas and advertisements for the latest Mall opening, promotion of the newest andy or big company’s invention. Which is why Rei had opted to turn off the television sets around her - she had grown without one for years while in the city’s dump yards anyway.

 

Leia stopped as soon as she saw Snoke’s ugly face appear on the screen. She glanced around her for a seat for her old bones, and Finn was kind enough to provide one. She sat as Snoke’s raspy voice erupted from the screen.

 

“My fellow citizens,” he gestured, opening his arms and Rei shivered. His piercing crystal blue eyes were ice-cold and his smile seemed wicked, exposing his ugly teeth and distorting his features. “I am directing myself to you today in light of the recent events which have shattered our tranquility and quiet way of life. I refer, of course, to the break out of the reflectio virus affecting our androids and the series of murders which have ensued and stained with blood the peace of Coruscant inhabitants. I have personally investigated the case, and the number of murders is much higher than previously thought; it is my duty to inform you they are out of control,” he stressed, very tactically.

“It appears the Senate has failed to investigate these matters thoroughly, thus putting your lives in danger. Dr. Hux, of the Starkiller Corporation, is close to finding a cure for the virus. In order to fulfill security measures and to protect all of you from these infected androids, it is my wish to dissolve the incompetent Senate and replace it with a Council of the Wise, which would assist Dr. Hux and myself in finding a permanent solution to our problem. The Council will offer our citizens a programming fix which would be free of charge for all of you. As you can see, the Senate has been useless in this affair; it is time to choose a competent institution to solve this matter quickly.” He paused, eyes shining with greed and lust for power, then smiled right at the camera before continuing. “These constitutional changes will, of course, be ratified by your votes. I will call to a referendum to ratify this decision. Until then, I wish you all happiness.”

 

As Snoke disappeared from the screen, silence filled the room.

 

Leia pinched the bridge of her nose and seemed on the verge of collapsing. Poe’s mouth had dropped open, incapable of processing what he’d just heard.

 

Finn was outraged. “How, how dare he? This is utter manipulation! We can’t let him- ”

 

“This is what I suspected, all along,” lamented Leia, glancing blankly at the plasma, which was now showing an ad for the latest virtual company girl named Joi. “He’s using the reflectio virus as an excuse to tighten his grip, each day a little more. But nobody sees that democracy is doomed. I have no doubt he will win this vote - people are not reacting anymore, they don’t care. I wonder...” she paused, rubbing her chin, “I wonder if he’s not the one who created the virus in the first place.”

 

Rei stared at her, mind racing. It made perfect sense. Could there be a link between Snoke and Kylo? She was convinced he was infected with the virus, as he’d suggested himself.  But if the reflectio virus indeed pushed andys to kill humans, why hadn’t Kylo killed his master who was so cruel to him? Was it because he feared him too much? She shuddered as she remembered his words when she’d ask who his masters were.

 

I can’t tell you. They’d come for you if I did. If you knew.

 

But now they had come for her. To lure him out of hiding. They were dangerous...and powerful. Did they think she knew something or feared Kylo would divulge secret information? There were too many questions. She decided she had to talk to Leia, privately.

 

“Please, Finn, Poe, could you give me a moment with Leia?” she asked.

 

Poe and Finn knew the friendship between Rei and the elder, thus, the request was not a surprise. Leia appeared curious.

 

“I have to go back to the office anyway,” said Poe. “And in light of Snoke's speech, we need to get everyone on the reflectio virus case pronto.”

 

“I’ll go with you,” sighed Finn. “I have to contact Rose about this.”

 

Rei arched an eyebrow at Finn, who shrugged and gave her that look - the one which meant it was something they’d have to discuss in a more private moment. The corner of Rei’s lips curved up and she cast him a knowing glance. 

 

When they were gone, Rei turned to face Leia. She extended a hand and Leia gladly took it.

 

“Leia,” she said, and the Senator lifted her eyes to hers. “We can’t lose hope now. This is the time to fight. I-I may have an idea, but I need time.”

 

The Senator's eyes brightened. “Have you discovered something?” she asked hopefully.

 

Rei pursed her lips before choosing her words. “I might have. I’m not sure, but I think it’s a lead…something tells me we will find answers if I follow it.”

 

Leia’s eyes narrowed to hers. “Is your lead why you are in this state? What happened to you?” she whispered with concern.

 

“Yes. And obviously, I'm getting in the way of certain people, which is why they tried to kill me," she said, frowning and urging Leia to stay silent since she wanted to protest. "Please, Leia, you cannot say this to Finn and Poe…" She trailed off.

 

“My child, your secret is safe with me,” smiled the elder. “And I don’t want to put anyone else in danger. I trust your instincts better than Poe’s. This is our most desperate hour.”

 

Rei nodded and took a deep breath. “Right. I’m trailing an andy which I believe is infected by the virus. I think he’s somehow connected to all this. And now, he’s disappeared. I need to find him.”

 

“Is this…the one who attacked you? He’s an andy?” asked Leia, her gaze scanning Rei’s reaction.

 

“Yes…it’s a long story, I-I don’t want to get into it. But I believe his master is someone who is linked to this whole mess. He warned me they were dangerous, and there was more than one. And I discovered other elements I need to check out,” she said, remembering the tattoo she’d seen both on Kylo and the ghost’s neck.

 

The Senator observed her closely. “I trust you. You have my blessing. But please, Rei, I cannot afford to lose you. Too many loses; I can’t take anymore,” she said, looking down at her lap as sadness filled her voice.

 

“Yo-you still don’t have any news of Master Luke?” asked Rei, knowing the answer already.

 

“No. I think I know where he is, but…you know, he decided to take a step aside. In this world, he felt useless. It was his decision…” her voice trailed away as she now looked at the horizon through the window, eyebrows creased in pain.

 

“I know. I miss him so much,” said Rei who felt a lump in her throat at the memory of Master Luke. With Lor, they had been her martial art teachers and Master Luke was the best martial artist she ever knew of. His skills in meditation were also off the charts. He had mental abilities and powers which were considered…unnatural. Being in Coruscant had been more and more difficult for Master Luke, who finally disappeared, leaving his sister and everything behind.

 

“I only have you left, Rei, please be careful,” said Leia with a flat smile, tightening her hand around hers

 

***

 

Four full days had passed since the abduction and Rei was growing increasingly worried. She leaned back on her office seat and punched her desk with her fist, fuming and cursing at her laptop. There were just no traces of Kylo nor the ghost. In two days, she’d reviewed all the cameras surrounding the alleyway and the whole neighborhood, in vain. That ghost was not precisely the type that could go unnoticed into a crowd while flanked with a massive body over her shoulder! How could they simply have vanished as if by magic? It was driving Rei insane and her guts constricted as she imagined what could be happening to Kylo.

 

She hissed in frustration, leaned on the desk again with both elbows and rubbed her tired eyes. It was already after office hours, but she didn’t care about the time these days. She didn't want to go home anyway. It reminded her too much of Kylo and her dreams kept filling with him, as they had since he'd kissed her...as if he had awoken something inside her. She'd had the previous nightmare again, where he was wounded and bloodied, calling for her; she had awoken up desperate and shaking. The dream was haunting her, and now, she was afraid to go to sleep. She sighed deeply and looked at the time on the office's digital clock. Finn had gone home an hour ago and there were only a couple of colleagues left in the office. Poe was out on a mission. She felt lonely and utterly defeated.

 

A beep from her brand new watch caught her attention. There was a message.

 

- Rose

R U available to talk?

Confidential.

 

Rei almost jumped as she read the words. Her heartbeat quickened. Had she found something out? She stood up and glanced outside her office; there was almost nobody left. She closed the door and quickly dictated to her watch to write a message back.

 

- Rei

Yes. Call me?

 

A few seconds after, a tone indicated an incoming call. She took the small speaker from the watch's wristband; she couldn’t afford people overhearing this conversation. She stuck the gadget in her ear and soon, Rose’s small blue holo appeared in front of her.

 

“Rose! So good to hear from you…” she said but her voice faltered when she saw Rose’s frown.

 

“Yes. I’m at home, I couldn’t make this call from the Starkiller Corp,” she said, glancing around her with a concerned look.

 

“What is it?” asked Rei eagerly.

 

“I just hope they haven’t put mics in my apartment. Rei, the First Order is indeed linked to the Starkiller Corporation,” she explained, and Rei’s heart skipped a beat before her friend continued. “I haven’t been able to dig in much, because all the information is classified and guarded by dozens of security protocols. But it’s the name of a secret project, and it involves androids and droids, from the little information I could gather.”

 

Rei’s jaw went slack. “A secret project...” she repeated as the intel sank it. So Kylo was linked to the Starkiller Corporation! That’s probably where they’d taken him! Dr.Hux...Dr. Hux was from the Corporation, the same one Snoke had mentioned...Her mind quickly linked everything; she needed to go there, how she could infiltrate…? Wait.

 

“Rose, I-” she started, trying to find how to ask this, “I need to know something. I can’t explain, this is vital to my investigation on the reflectio virus. Have you seen anything…strange at the Corporation lately?”

 

Rose’s brow furrowed as she thought. “Well, Dr Hux has been staying later than usual. When I leave he’s still there, which makes it impossible to do any research. And he’s, yes he’s acting weird, like...he’s impatient and restless. And today, he was in a terrible mood. He got into a fight with Dr. Mitaka this afternoon.”

 

Rei bit her lips. Could this be linked to Kylo being there? He mentioned he had several masters and they were all obviously cruel with him. She stared at Rose’s holo and took a decision.

 

“Rose, I know this is going to sound strange. Please, I’m asking you this as a friend. Don’t tell Agent P and Agent F.”

 

Rose’s face changed from concern to confidence. “Of course. You have my word. What is it?” she asked as her eyes brightened. 

 

Rei's voice dropped to a whisper. "I-I'm looking for an andy. I believe he's the only good clue I've got to solve this mystery. I think he's linked to the Starkiller Corporation and that he's there right now," she paused and took a deep breath as she remembered Kylo in her apartment, shirtless and vulnerable. "He's very tall. Massive type of andy. Black hair, shaved on the side, dark eyes. He has an earring on the left ear and a long scar on the same side of his face."

 

Rose arched an eyebrow. The way she looked at Rei was not usual, as if she was suspecting something and Rei had time to fear she’d let on more than she’d wished for. Oh shit.

 

However, it passed like a shadow and Rose’s expression came back to normality. “I’m afraid I haven’t seen any andys here that match that description. It wouldn’t be the type to go unnoticed.”

 

That’s the least you can say, thought Rei, who attempted to keep a serious face, although what she really wanted to do was nod and wink at her as she continued.

 

“Although…now that you mention, there’s something I’ve noticed. Dr. Hux keeps going in and out of a sector of the Corporation where other employees have no access. I’ve been wondering about this, and what’s in that part of the building.”

 

Upon hearing this, Rei’s jaw went slack. There was no doubt. That’s where Kylo was! They were keeping him locked in there! She had to do something.

 

A telephone call coming from her desk phone startled her so much she jolted in her chair. Someone was calling on her office line, on the cell phone. That was very unusual, especially seeing the hour. Almost no one called on that line and cell phones were so out of fashion now they only used them for office work. She quickly returned her attention to her friend. 

 

“Rose, someone is calling at the office. I have to leave you!” she said hastily.

 

“Ok, talk later! Keep safe!” urged Rose’s holo, which vanished as Rei cut the call.

 

She glanced at the vibrating phone next to her laptop. It showed an unknown number. She hesitated for a moment, hand trembling over the device.

 

She took the phone and swiped the green button to the right.

 

“Hello?” she asked, nearing the phone to her ear.

 

“Hello,” said a woman’s voice. “Is this Rei?”

 

Rei’s eyebrows knitted immediately. “Yes, who is this?”

 

“Please…can you call me back from a private line?” asked the voice timidly.

 

“Yes, I can. Who is this?”

 

“My name is Joi. I need to talk to you urgently,” said the woman. “The number is the one I’m calling from.”

 

Joi?  Wait a sec. Wasn’t that…wasn’t that the name of the new virtual girl whose face was all over the TV ads? “Ok, I’ll call you back immediately.”

 

Rei hung up, chest heaving frantically. She grabbed her watch mic again, manually dialed the number on her screen…and waited, ticking the desk with her nails nervously. It picked up and the same voice answered. 

 

“Hello, Rei?”

 

“Yes, it’s me,”

 

“Rei…I-I’m Kay-Why-El-Zero’s assistant,” she stuttered; Rei’s eye went huge and her heart nearly stopped. “I’m with him now…he’s…he’s grievously injured.”

 

Chapter Text

Heart racing as fast as her hoverboard, Rei tore the night’s dark veil apart as she zoomed throughout the skyscrapers of Coruscant, trailing in the line of hovercars and transports toward an unknown destination. Night had fallen long ago, and as she pushed the board to its maximum speed as the pink ends of her hair flowed behind her; they matched with the flashing lights on her skin and her pair of fuchsia neo-ski lenses. The temperature had dropped suddenly and she was using them because the wind was prickling her skin and causing her eyes to water.

 

The mysterious woman had given her an address she wasn’t familiar with, in the outskirts of the city, where, usually, accepted immigrants went to live. That alone was enough to raise suspicion; Rei had thought it could be another trap, but if she had a chance to save Kylo, she decided she'd take it. Eventually, she arrived in a shabby neighborhood where tall, modern buildings, which all looked like each other, rose from the gray granite ground. The streets were in poor conditions and Rei wasn't too keen on attracting attention around her. She landed smoothly, unstrapped her feet and drew her hood over her head, shielding herself from the strangers’ wary gazes while she picked up the board in her hands and pressed a button to fold it, which made it easier to carry.

 

She checked her watch, and the 3D GPS’s red dot flashed, unmistakably marking she was close. She walked along the street two blocks, tightening her scarf around her neck, and checked the number of the indicated street.

 

2049.

 

There it was. Her chin lifted as she upon the towering skyscraper. There was a small entrance. She directed herself toward it and the door automatically opened. She peered inside before entering. Some people were gathered inside with covers and sleeping bags; most certainly foreigners who still didn’t have a home assigned yet. Rei’s heart dropped for them. There were women, old people, even children. How can the government leave these people outside with this cold and the coming winter? thought Rei as she passed by, earning her some curious glances.

 

She reached an elevator and read her notes on her watch.

 

28th floor.

 

She was grateful the elevator was working and she hastily pressed the corresponding button. 

Once she reached the correct level, the doors opened, revealing a dark corridor where lights flickered intermittently, giving the place an enigmatic and foreboding atmosphere. No one was in sight.

 

She cautiously walked through the hallway, passing by several similar white doors until she reached a specific one. The number on the wall matched the one the woman had given her.

 

This was the place.

 

There was a small electronic doorbell. Rei’s eyes flickered between it and the door. She raised a hesitant hand; her finger shivered over the bell. She gulped before taking air into her lungs, calming herself, then pressed the button. A ringtone echoed behind the door but there were no sounds coming from inside.

 

Was there anyone? Was it a trap? She peered on the sides and behind her shoulder with a tinge of apprehension.

 

The door suddenly slung opened. Rei’s lips parted as she saw the figure in front of her.

 

It was the virtual company girl whose face was all over the ads in the streets. She was dressed in a Chinese multicolored dress and her hair was combed in a tight bun; she wore impeccable make-up.

 

“Rei?” asked the virtual woman, who’d said her name was Joi.

 

“Yes,” nodded Rei.

 

Joi’s expression tightened and she gestured to come in. “Please, hurry, he’s in here.”

 

Rei obliged and stepped inside. It was a modern style apartment, quite like hers but older and shabbier. The virtual lady led her through a small foyer and then turned right but Rei’s attention was caught by something on the floor, where red stains dotted it. Is that blood?

 

She followed the girl but came to a sudden halt when she entered the next room; her jaw nearly hit the floor.

 

The room was filled with plants. They were everywhere. On old-fashioned desks and tables, in the corners, on the ground, in the middle of papers and quills and books; the plants were illuminated by artificial but sophisticated artificial lights. Some plants even had flowers and, as Rei gaped at them, she spotted a white iris which still had one single bloom left.

 

What the -

 

“Rei, please, over here,” Joi’s voice startled her. She veered to the right, where the girl was standing, indicating that she follow her into what seemed to be an another, dark-lit chamber.

 

Rei tore her gaze away from the plants and obliged, remembering why she was here. She closed the distance and stepped into the other room - only for her heart to sink to her stomach.

 

Kylo was lying on the ground, motionless as if dead.

 

It was her nightmare; only this time, it was hard, solid reality.

 

“Kylo!” Rei cried out, racing to him and crouching next to his body.

 

She grabbed his organic wrist and immediately checked his pulse. She breathed out in relief; it was there - faint, but there. His face was hidden by his hair and she gently moved the black wisps, only for her expression to melt into horror.  

 

His entire face was bloated and bloodied, with cuts as if he’d been punched over and over; Rei recalled how the ghost had hit him during their duel, but it seemed impossible that she could have wounded him this badly. His masters, whoever they were, had beaten him to near death. She didn’t know if her heart could ache more than it did in the wake of that realization. They’d beaten him because of her. Because he saved her.

 

She glanced around the room quickly. There were an unmade bed and a desk with boxes scattered all around, as if he had just moved in. It was probably his bedroom. His coat had been discarded in the entrance and he had obviously crawled into here and fainted before reaching the bed. How had he come back here in the first place in such a state? Had someone helped him?

 

She had to act fast.

 

She glanced at Joi who was standing behind her, rooted to the spot, looking down at Kylo. “Do you have a healer?” Rei asked.

 

“A healer? No, we don’t have one here I’m afraid.”

 

It came as no surprise, for Rei remembered Kylo had mentioned he didn’t know of the device. She was left with no choice; she pulled up her sleeve and pressed a button on her watch, “I need to call a friend, she’s a doctor, or he’s never going to survive his injuries.”

 

Joi’s eyebrows creased in pain. “Yes, please, hurry. There’s no time.”

 

Rei voice commanded her watch to dial a number and the sound of a ringing tone echoed in the room. An old voice picked up on the other side.

 

“Hello, Rei?” asked a female voice.  

 

“Maz! Thank God you answered! I have an emergency here! A… man.” She hesitated a split second before trashing to oblivion the fact he was an andy. “He’s grievously injured, I need help or he’s going to die,” Rei explained, trying to keep a clear head but failing miserably. “Please, can you come?”

 

“I was about to go home from the hospital. If you ask it, it’s serious, I’ll come. Where are you?” asked Maz’s voice, which had dropped to a serious tone.

 

“I’ll send you the coordinates by GPS. Please, bring the most powerful healer you have and internal healing medicine. He-he’s in very serious condition,” said Rei, who touched his back. He was cold. This was not good.

 

“Ok, I’ll get there as soon as I can with all the medical supplies; hang on in there,” said the ancient voice.

 

Rei cut the call and sent the coordinates to her friend. She touched Kylo’s face again and put a hand in front of his mouth, where she could feel faint breathing. “He’s breathing still. I-I unfortunately can’t move him without Maz,” she said to Joi, forehead creased while caressing Kylo’s hair. “What happened?”

 

The virtual girl swallowed. “I-I have no idea. He left, several days ago, and he came back today like this. I-I think he had help, I heard a voice outside in the hall before he came in, but I don’t know who it was,” explained Joi, before adding, “Is he going to make it? I cannot help him…for my condition,” she said, glancing at the transparent body, “That’s why I used his watchcell to call you, since he’d mention you so many times. It wasn’t difficult to locate the Intelligence Bureau.”

 

Rei blinked. “He-he mentioned me?”

 

Why did she feel strange butterflies in her stomach all of a sudden?

 

Joi offered a flat smile. “The day he left, he mentioned he would send you a flower. He left and never came back until today.”

 

In Rei’s chest, an unfamiliar feeling surged. She gazed back at Kylo before a sound startled her so much she jolted and fell backwards on her hands, scanning the room.

 

Two emerald eyes with black, slit pupils were on her. An animal. Rei’s eyes threatened to pop out of their sockets; she immediately recognized the small creature as a cat. It had just meowed so loudly that it had frightened her out of her wits. Her mouth opened wide in shock while the cat looked at her warily and then, came toward Kylo’s still form.

 

“That’s impossible…” whispered Rei to herself in utter disbelief.

 

“This is Millicent, it’s Kay-Why-El-Zero’s cat,” Joi said, a smile on her features as she contemplated the animal, who was now sniffing Kylo and coming toward Rei with caution.

 

How was this possible? Animals were extinct! Rei hadn’t seen a cat in so many years she forgot to blink as the small ginger cat smelled her. She couldn’t believe it. She raised a hand toward it; the animal sniffed her and soon, it rubbed its nose on her finger, allowing her to run a hand in his beautiful and soft stripped fur. She turned to Joi again. “What is this place?” she finally asked with an astonished expression. “The plants, the books, the cat…?”

 

Joi glanced around the room. “I’m afraid I have no idea. Kay-Why-El-Zero took me in only recently. I do know that plants and animals no longer exist on Earth, but I don’t know how they got here. He mentioned a laboratory once. He studies the plants a lot though, he says it’s important. He bought me to activate the water for them and the food for the cat while he’s gone, since I’m connected to the house’s main computer. I don’t know much about his life yet...so I’m sorry I cannot help,” Joi excused herself.

 

Rey blinked. A laboratory? He studies them? What was that about? Was this place why Kylo had a plant tattoo on his forearm? It only added other elements of mystery to the whole puzzle that was Kylo and Rei’s curiosity was rising to dangerously high levels. She eyed Kylo again and checked her watch. She hoped Maz would be here soon.

 

Rei got to her feet and looked around. She needed to cover him. She walked to the bed and took the big synthetic cover off it and spread it over Kylo’s body, tucking him in to give him warmth. The cat was sitting beside her, watching her every move, as if guarding her master. Rei reached to pet it again and the animal straightened his rear end and rubbed himself against her. She wondered how on earth Kylo had come to possess the plants and the cat when these were extinct, not to mention where all the books had come from; she felt everything was connected and she was on the brink of discovering something extremely important. She prayed Kylo could recover from his injuries, not only because she was dead worried for him, but also to know more about him and his history. Now she would finally have answers to all her pressing questions.

 

A ring coming from the doorbell startled her out of her thoughts. 

 

Rei eyed Joi, who was still standing beside her. “That must be Maz,”

 

“I’ll open the door once I check who it is with the cam,” Joi said, before vanishing like a ghost. Rei got to her feet, tossing the cloth aside; Joi’s voice then resonated in the apartment. “Is it an older black lady, small with black-grayish hair?” she asked.

 

“Yes, that’s her!”

 

Joi activated the door. The petite woman, with brown skin and curly dark hair kept into a small hat, had enormous glasses which magnified her eyes, making them appear abnormally huge. Her hands were holding two heavy rectangular metal suitcases. Rei took a few steps toward her and grabbed her shoulders.

 

"Thank you so much for coming so fast. Please, he's over here," said Rei hastily. There wasn't a minute to lose. Joi was nowhere in sight, but the door closed behind them as they walked toward Kylo’s quarters.

 

If Maz was impressed by the plants, she didn’t show it nor did she stop to contemplate them. She followed Rei into the room. An emergency was an emergency and her attitude spoke highly of her.

 

“Here,” said Rei, crouching again next to Kylo.

 

Maz’s lips curved downward. She put the two suitcases on the floor and reached to observe him. She pulled the cover from his body and her eyebrows knitted darkly.

 

“Indeed. It doesn’t look good. I’m going to run a scan to evaluate the damage,” she said, reaching for the suitcases, from which she retrieved a device which looked like an old-fashioned tablet. She activated it and placed it above his torso. The green screen lighted and soon, an outline of his body appeared and red dots started to flash in different points. Rei came to observe the conclusions of the scan. Maz ran her fingers over the screen, and, as she touched the different red points, written information appeared.  

 

Rei’s gaze traveled from the device to Maz. “How bad is it?” she asked, biting her lips.

 

“Bad,” answered the elder, frowning as she skimmed through all the information. “Three fractured ribs. Right shoulder blade broken. Left shoulder dislocated…severe contusions and interior damage. Artificial limb is non-functional, he’s also almost in hypothermia,” she enumerated and then pressed her lips in disgust. “What happened to this poor man?” she asked while tucking the device away and taking out a medical kit as well as a quite large healer out of her metal cases.

 

Rei felt a lump in her throat and she struggled to answer. “He-he was beaten I think,” she said in a strangled voice. “By his masters,” she added, waiting for Maz’s reaction. She knew Maz well enough to know it was no use to hide the truth and she trusted her enough. Maz had helped her in countless cases after they’d met; she’d ended up in the hospital frequently herself. They had become close friends ever since her first visit and she sometimes asked for her services since she was a reputed and skilled doctor.

 

Maz turned around. Behind the rim of her glasses, she gaped at Rei. “He’s an andy?”

 

Rei felt a pinch in her chest. She looked down at him. “Yes.” She couldn’t keep the disappointment in her voice, as if she’d wished him to be something else.

 

Maz considered her for a split second and then, she laid eyes again on Kylo. “But, the artificial limbs?”

 

“I know. I had the same reaction. I think his master fixed him at some point, but I don’t know why he treats him like this. I pretty much ignore everything about him. But he saved my life several times and I think he’s linked to the Reflectio virus mystery. We are on it with the Bureau,” explained Rei. “This is why I need him to recover,” she added, already guessing that Maz would ask why she didn’t retire him.

 

The elder quirked an eyebrow but didn’t press the point. She stood up and moved toward Kylo’s legs. “Well, whatever it is, he’s in a poor condition. We have to move him to the bed. I don’t think there’s a risk of severe hemorrhagic loss from the scanner’s information,” she said, bending down and pointing a finger to his chest. “There, you lift him upwards. Be careful, it’s going to hurt him but there’s no other option. We have to warm him up, he’s cold as ice.”

 

Stomach churning at the thought of hurting him, Rei did as she was told. She moved behind Kylo and carefully lifted him up by placing her hands under his shoulders, while Maz grabbed his knees. He was so heavy it was almost impossible to move him and his body was like a lifeless limb.

 

But as Rei pulled him upward and dragged him up on the bed, Kylo’s body shuddered and he cried out, before his eyelids squeezed in pain.

 

“Don’t let him go! said Maz and Rei forced herself to oblige as Kylo gasped for air.

 

“God, he’s heavy,” said Rei, teeth bared with the effort.

 

“Yep, that’s one big piece alright,” answered Maz scrunching her nose, struggling all the same.

 

Both women finally managed to move Kylo’s massive frame onto his bed. As Maz fetched the medical kit, Rei sat on the edge of the mattress. Kylo was seeking air, breath ragging and raspy. “Rei…” he croaked weakly before coughing hard. Blood drops stained his clothes and Rei’s heart constricted impossibly tight. She moved her hand to caress his face and noted his forehead was hot and sweaty. “Kylo, can you hear me?” she asked in a tender whisper. His eyelids were still shut tight and he gasped her name several times again, as if calling out for her, but soon, he faded into unconsciousness again.

 

She was immediately reminded of her nightmare once more, when he’d called out to her. It hadn’t been just a simple nightmare; it had been a vision of the future. A warning. How on Earth could she have felt what was going to happen to him? Why did she share such a strange connection with him? There were so many questions, yet the answers never came.

 

She was about to fetch the cover to tuck him when she saw Maz moving toward him and lifting his shirt. “Help me here,” she said, “we need to undress him to start the healing process.”

 

Rey blinked owlishly. Did she say undress? Her face flushed crimson red. It took her several seconds to manage to move, and she only did when Maz insisted she hurry up.

 

“Here, try to lift him up slightly so I can slip his shirt off,” she said, before taking it back. “No, you know what, I’ll just cut it off ‘coz we could harm him.” Maz bent down to her medical kit from which she retrieved a pair of gigantic scissors, and Rei tried not to think about what exactly those were used for; they were so huge they could have chopped flesh.

 

As Maz cut through the coarse fabric of his black shirt, Rei swallowed and turned pallid: his chest was a patchwork of heavy bruises, cuts, and gashes. The swollen skin had turned violet-reddish on some parts where they had obviously lashed onto him. Rei took notice that his mechanical arm was partly destroyed at the elbow, thus making it useless. Unmoved by his condition, Maz professionally proceeded to scissor his pants off and Rei had to look aside to avoid blushing as it revealed not only his elaborated mecho leg but his organic, thick thighs. Then, Maz aimed to pull down his zipper to remove the last of his pants.

 

Oh no.

 

Christ’s sake.

 

Aware that she was gaping ridiculously, Rei ducked in front of his mecho arm in a desperate attempt to hide her embarrassment. Hell, she’d never seen a naked man before - scratch the fact he was an andy - let alone one she shared the strangest connection to. So instead, she focused all her attention on removing his mecho limb. Since she had scavenged dozens of ships but also droids, she was familiar with mechanical parts; she screened the automail. With only a glance she understood where it needed repair, a task she could easily fulfill. Soon, she found the two buttons which had to be pressed at the same time in order to remove the arm from its shoulder socket.

 

However, her attention was diverted by Maz, who dove into her medical kit once more and Rei made the biggest mistake: she peered down Kylo’s body, right at his crotch. The sight was enough to inflame her cheeks; Maz had mercifully left him in his black briefs on but the outline of his length was, well, impressive, to say the least. It left little doubt he was massive - like the rest of him - and Rei’s imagination was traveling along a dangerous and forbidden path.  

 

Shit, shit, shit, why was she so bothered by him?

 

Rei, rein your bloody hormones in, he’s an android, well-endowed or not, she cursed herself and bit her lips.

 

She fetched the cover and tucked him in again, before returning her avid gaze to his mecho arm, and now, she pushed two red small buttons encased under his shoulder with her two indexes and unmistakably, she heard a click as the arm unfastened.

 

But at the same time, Kylo hissed and his body jolted as if he’d been shot. He whined and bared with teeth, his organic hand digging into the mattress. Then, his eyelashes fluttered open as he sought air. Nerve connection and disconnection could be excruciatingly painful and it only added to his general wrecked state. Rei hastily retrieved the arm and carefully placed it upon a desk in the room and went back to sit on the edge of the bed. Kylo’s dark, hooded eyes locked with hers between short breaths and Rei didn’t know if her heart could break more. He looked devastated, not only outside but inside. His normally lit, fiery eyes were now windows into emptiness. His unrelenting stare settled on her, as if trying to understand how she was there, but he seemed unfazed and lost. Shakily, Rei raised a hand to his face; she brushed his cheek and cupped it gently. “It’s me, I’m here,” she said softly. His mouth moved as if trying to say something but he didn’t utter a word.  

 

Maz’s voice invaded behind her. “I’m going to hit him with a powerful anesthesia so he doesn’t suffer too much during the healing process. It’s going to ease his pain,” she said, grabbing his organic arm from under the cover.

 

Kylo’s eyes traveled to Maz and his expression turned wary and distrustful, as if scared. He tried to retrieve his arm and winced; his shoulder was no doubt killing him. Rei understood he was probably afraid of Maz who was a stranger to him and raced to explain. “Kylo, this is Maz. She’s a doctor friend. She’d going to heal you. Relax, it’s going to be okay.”

 

His gaze snapped back to her at the sound of her voice.

 

“Rei…” he croaked, looking at her with a feverish, glassy gaze before his eyebrow creased in pain as Maz inserted the long needle into his arm. He was gripping the sheets tightly and Rei caressed his face gently. His forehead was still very hot but the rest of his body was freezing. She ran a hand into his hair to soothe him. The softness of his mane startled her and she eagerly patted his skull, before she looked at her hand and realized in horror it was bloodstained. He’d been hit on the head too, or maybe it was a consequence of his fight with the ghost.

 

“Maz, do you have another, small healer?”

 

“Yes it’s in the second case, there,” the elder pointed out.

 

While Maz was already working on his organic shoulder and arm, meaning the exterior and interior wounds, Rei ignited the small healer, whose red light soon shone onto Kylo’s face. His irises scanned her every move, but he stayed silent. Soon, the device’s power restored his skin’s smoothness and mended the bloodied cuts and bruises; it patched up his lips and the violet-reddish skin soon returned to its pale, rosy original color. Rei also worked in his skull and hair, mending the blows and hits he had received there.

 

Dawn soon broke upon them as the two women closed his maimed body’s wounds, the fractured bone taking an extremely long time to put back together. By the time they were finishing, Rei already knew every corner of his muscular frame and tried to avoid his scrutinizing gaze on her. He had flinched and recoiled a couple of times under the intense recovery process but overall, he’d stayed there, dozing off and staring with half-closed eyelids at Rei like she was the horizon of his sea. However, Rei noted not only that he was still drowsy and groggy but that his body was shivering and his forehead was scattered with beads of sweat. He also didn’t say a word, as if he were ill.

 

“Maz, do you have a thermometer? I think he might have a fever.”

 

“That’s very possible, with all these wounds. Infection could be setting in. I have to check his blood afterward, but this needed to be done first. Take his temperature”, she said, handing her a sophisticated thermometer.

 

Rei took the small long device and sat to face Kylo. “There, open your mouth,” she said, fingers gently cupping his chin. Unsurprisingly, he obeyed on the spot and Rei had to suppress a shiver at the sight of his oh so kissable plush lips parting for her. She stuck the thermometer in his pink mouth - heart pounding at how adorable he looked like that. She really should stop considering him like this - or she was running to a doomed fate. She waited for a minute before the device emitted a ringing sound.

 

She checked the temperature and her jaw dropped.

 

“105 degrees?!” she cried out in disbelief at Maz.

 

What ?

 

“Look!” she said, handing her the thermometer.

 

Maz’s brow twisted into a deep scowl as she checked the temperature. “This is not good at all. Let me check his blood. In any case, it explains why he’s so knocked out,” she said, aiming for another small machine in her case.

 

But they were interrupted by Kylo’s raspy, low voice. “The shot…”

 

Startled, both women snapped back to face him and Rei spoke first. “Kylo, what is it? Tell us,” she said.

 

Kylo lifted and gazed at his tattooed arm, as if he wanted to show her something, before Maz interrupted.

 

“Did…did somebody give you a shot? I saw this earlier when I injected you,” she said, pointing at a small violet dot in the creek of Kylo’s arm which Rei had failed to notice before.

 

Kylo nodded and tried to speak, but he was having a hard time.

 

Rei intervened. “I’ll go fetch him some water,” she said, before running to the kitchen and coming back with a tall glass of fresh liquid. She cupped Kylo’s head and helped him to drink, which he eagerly did, before she laid his head on the pillow again. He cleared his throat and this time, he could speak better. “Th-they gave me a shot,” he shuddered, before hesitating, “I-I think, some experiment.”

 

Experiment ?” asked Rei in disbelief. Heaven’s sake, what had they done to him? She looked at Maz, seeking an answer.

 

The older woman rubbed her chin, lost in her thoughts. “Wait, let me look at you closely,” she said, retrieving a magnifying glass. She bent over Kylo’s face and observed his eyes, his mouth and ears closely. She then palpated his neck and frowned. “This is a virus. His amygdala is swollen, eyes are bloodshot and yellowish. High fever also is part of this,” she said more to herself than anything else. “They probably inserted some kind of new, experimental virus inside him,” she concluded.

 

Rei blinked. How had Maz figured this out by only observing him?

 

“They shot him with an experimental virus ?” asked Rei in disbelief, “Th-that’s horrible!” she cried out, eyeing Kylo will pity and concern.

 

“Yes, and we don’t know how it’s going to evolve. I have to analyze his blood, see if I have a cure, but I need a bit of time,” she said, now retrieving another new needle and test tube from her kit.

 

Rei’s features fell into a painful expression. “Okay, please do what you can, I’m going to stay here with him, I have the weekend off from work anyway. And his automail needs repair.”

 

Maz inserted a needle in Kylo again, who didn’t flinch this time. She filled a test tube with his dark, red blood, and closed it carefully. She started packing and ordering all her tools to leave. Rei accompanied her toward the entrance door, trying to ignore how Kylo’s eyes were on her and begged her not to leave the room.

 

“Joi? Can you hear me?” she called out to the virtual girl, who had dematerialized.

 

“Yes, do you need the door?” asked the disembodied voice.

 

“Yes, please.”

 

Automatically, the door opened. Maz looked at Rei and handed her a small case. “Here, take this. You have basic medicine to lower his temperature, ease his pain, and vitamins. There’s also a powerful healing medicine; that should heal any interior or exterior wound. Just in case,” she explained. “You should wet his face and keep him warm. Also, he should now eat and drink normally, to strengthen his defenses.”

 

Rei nodded and took the small plastic case. “Thank you. I’ll do that.”

 

“I will analyze his blood and call you as soon as I know what it is and if I can give him a cure,” Maz explained, before hesitating. “I’m not hiding that his life could be in danger. That fever is very high and he doesn’t look good. Please tell me if you see any changes in his state.”

 

Rei gulped, hard. “Maz, you have to know, but please, I beg you, this has to remain secret. I think he’s linked to the Starkiller Corporation. The virus could be one of their inventions. I'm telling you this because it could help you find a cure." 

 

“Hm. I see,” frowned the small woman. “This explains the mystery. He’s not a normal andy, I can just tell. I’ve dissected too many of those in the hospital not to notice.”

 

“Y-yes, I know. I’m trying to find out who he is and it’s…complicated. Is-is there any way for you to know more about him?” she asked hopefully.

 

“Well, there are two options. One is a bone test, to see his internal structure and serial number in his bone identification. The other is a semen test, to see if he’s really an android.”

 

Semen test? Holy shit.

 

Rei couldn’t help but flush tomato red. She chuckled nervously. “Well, that would be hard,” she said, trying to sound casual.

 

“Really?” the elder arched a mischievous eyebrow. “I noticed how he looks at you.”

 

Rei swallowed and looked down at the floor. “I-I think he’s…attracted to me. But I’d never…I mean I’d never do that with an android. And…I have other personal reasons not to,” she said as the image of Lor resurfaced at the back of her mind.

 

The old woman looked at her closely. “You don’t need to explain. This is your life. He’s just, well, one piece of a man I’d say,” she laughed.

 

Rei blushed so hard she felt her ears were beginning to turn red. “Hm, yeah, I know, I’m not blind, but…”

 

“Don’t worry dear, I’m just teasing you,” said Maz, bringing a hand to her shoulder.

 

“Yes, and, well, he’s a mystery. I just found out about this place,” she said, glancing around her, “and as you can see, we are dealing with extinct stuff. There’s something not right.”

 

“Yes, I didn’t say anything of course, but the plants? How is that possible?”

 

“I know,” said Rei “This is why I need him to recover. Please do anything you can to save him,” she pleaded.

 

Maz smiled widely at her. “I will. Let’s keep in contact, I will tell you as soon as I know anything.”

 

Rei contemplated her a moment and her heart swelled with gratitude. “Thank you, for everything.”  She pulled her to a tight embrace.

 

Maz then picked up her two metal cases and exited the door, which slid shut behind her, leaving Rei alone with Kylo. She rested her back against the door and took a deep, long breath. Maz’s words resonated in her mind like an echo in an empty cave.

 

The other is a semen test, to see if he’s really an android.

 

Could there be a chance he wasn’t when he himself had said he was so many times? She knew there was little hope and she told herself she’d better not start imagining things in order not to be disappointed. Because despite her blatant denial, something was attracting her to this…man, human or android like a magnet to metal. Today had proven that. She didn’t know what it was, but it was just there, and she had to apply all her willpower not to give in to this feeling when she was around him.

 

Seeing him in this current state just melted her heart and she knew it was dangerous to stay in his presence. The most rational part of her brain screamed for her to stay away. Apart from the fact he had murdered her master, another important factor came into account: if he were truly an android, his lifespan was much shorter than hers. How long did androids actually live? Five, seven years? She decided the best way to prevent herself from suffering and being abandoned all over again was to build a wall, shielding her from what she could feel, even if it hurt. It was for the best.

 

A meow coming from under a table in the entrance drew her back to the moment. She crouched down, peering under the furniture where the ginger cat had hidden. Surely she’d been afraid when Maz had come in and they had been working on her master. She reached out with her hand, cooing for her to come near. The cat cautiously came out of its hiding place and rubbed its whiskers all over her fingers.

 

Rei sat into in the entrance hall and petted the animal eagerly. It was so soft and sweet and it purred its way right into her heart immediately.

 

She sighed.

 

“What am I going to do with your master?” she whispered to the cat, who contented himself with a soft purr in return, earning him a wide, bright smile from Rei.

 

For one, she had to discover the mystery behind the plants and the cat. That was her first mission and she had to fucking focus. It was one reason to stay around him a bit more and nurse him back to health.

 

Or was she only fooling herself?

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

 

Muffled sounds resonated in the distance, but his ears couldn’t identify them. His eyelids felt like lead, and when he tried to open them, the world was blurred. He felt weak and his skin felt as if the fires of hell had swallowed him whole. He attempted to raise his hands to his face, but soon found out his right arm didn’t respond to his brain. He squeezed an eye open, only to identify why he couldn’t move the mechanical arm: it had disappeared. Swallowing and finding his throat as dry as the Sahara Desert, he rubbed his eyes with his organic hand and aimed for his forehead, and felt a damp piece of cloth. Finally, he blinked several times and managed to focus.

 

His dark lit room appeared before him as scattered memories of the previous day came back to his mind.

 

The escape.

 

Rei.

 

A stranger

 

They’d been healing him. Wait - where was R-

 

A light snore made him shift his head to the side, only for his jaw to go slack.

 

A small lamp on his desk illuminated Rei’s figure, folded over his desk, her head nested in her arms. Kylo batted his lids a couple of time, checking if he wasn’t dreaming. He scanned the desk and saw his dismantled mecho arm laying there, surrounded by dozens of metallic tools. She was here, in his apartment. His recollections weren't dreams; it was all real. How had she found him? His heart swelled thinking she’d cared enough to stay overnight and appeared to have been repairing his automail.

 

He wanted to pinch himself to be certain this wasn't some kind of an alternate dimension. 

 

His gaze caressed her slender, sleeping frame. She seemed so lovely in the dim, dusty amber light; her faint snores only made her more captivating. It almost made him forget the pain in his body and the ache in his head.

 

All of a sudden, his sight was blurred by a ball of ginger fur. Kylo almost gasped as Millicent jumped on the bed. Her huge, round eyes observed him and she tilted her little head. Her pupils were completely dilated, giving her the sweetest appearance.

 

"Hey you," tenderly whispered Kylo, reaching to pet her, while the cat moved to his face and rubbed her little nose all over him, sniffing his hair and digging her paws into his skin. She purred so hard it sounded like a hovercar's engine. Her deep vibration sent relief to Kylo’s soul and body; the sight of the animal so happy to see him made his heart swell with an unfamiliar feeling of purpose.

 

As Kylo stroked the animal; she emitted a loud meow, causing Kylo to hush her quiet. “Shhh, you’re gonna wake her up,” he muffled.

 

But Rei had already shifted in her seat. Her eyelashes flickered opened and she lethargically lifted her head upwards and yawned, stretching herself out with a moan. It was such a simple, domestic gesture that Kylo’s eyes went wide: he still couldn’t believe she was here, in his hideout and that she’d slept at his desk. When Rei’s gaze instinctively darted to Kylo’s bed, their eyes locked.

 

“Hey…” she said, a smile curving on her lips upon seeing he was awake.

 

She rose from her seat and aimed right for the side of his bed. The mattress squeaked with her weight. Millicent was quick to come to her and she patted the cat, which purred and finally twisted until she found a nice comfy spot next to Kylo. Then Rei neared a hand to cup his cheek. He almost blushed before the intimate gesture; he stared at her with a dumbfounded expression on his face.

 

“How are you feeling?” she asked, eyeing him closely. Upon his lack of answer - how the hell was he supposed to voice anything when she was touching him like this? - she retrieved the cloth on his head and wet it in bowl of water she'd placed on a stool next to his bed. She twisted the cloth, removing the excess of water, and before putting it back on his forehead, she placed a hand there. A frown appeared on her face. "Hmm, your forehead is still very warm, let me check your temperature," she remarked, carefully placing the cloth on his forehead. The cool sensation was a blessing for his scorching hot skin.

 

Kylo saw her reach for a small box from which she retrieved a long plastic stick. She came back to the bed and sat back on the same spot with the device. “Open your mouth,” she commanded softly, shifting toward him.

 

Kylo’s mind wavered on the cusp of going blank, but, by a sheer miracle, he still had a shred of lucidity to stutter in a raspy, low voice, “Wh-what’s that?”

 

Rei’s lips twisted up until she repressed a laugh. “It’s a thermometer. You’ve never seen a thermometer before?”

 

He felt so stupid he stayed silent. Indeed, he had never seen one. Sensing he was uncomfortable, Rei sought to explain. “It’s to check your temperature. You had a very high fever yesterday.”

 

Oh.

 

Blurred memories of her sticking the device in his mouth slowly resurfaced. He’d been too weak to pay attention and had obeyed without thinking.

 

Rei cautiously put the thermometer in his mouth when he obliged and parted his lips; her eyes darted to his in silence, taking in his state. She was bending over him and now, Kylo noticed her V neck tight shirt showed just the right amount of cleavage; he had to apply all his will power to look away.

 

They looked at each other without uttering a word before the thermometer emitted a beep. Rei retrieved it, slowly removing it from his mouth and checked the result, before her eyebrows knitted again.

 

“103. That’s still very high, even if it has lowered a tiny bit,” she announced, glancing at him and pressing her lips. “How do you feel?” she asked again.

 

Kylo swallowed. “My skin feels like its burning…and I’m thirsty,” he replied.

 

He was almost sure he’d sensed her shivering. “Of course, I’ll get you some water. Are you hungry too?”

 

He contented himself with a nod.

 

“Well, at least that’s a good sign, I brought you some food, I’ll go prepare something.” She rose from her seat and exited the room toward the kitchen, leaving Kylo’s brain to register she’d gone grocery shopping for him. Why was she doing all this for him?

                                                                

 

*

 

 

Her heart was about to burst. Was there anything sweeter than to feed this man? Rei asked herself for about the hundredth time as she directed yet another spoonful of hot broth to his mouth. The poor thing was starving. He’d already gulped down a full bowl of the liquid she’d prepared - a soup with an ersatz type of protein which reminded her of chicken and a type of round white carb. 

 

Rei made a mental note to really check on her nurse syndrome; there was something terribly enticing to see how this ruthless, mountain of a man ate from her hand so eagerly and gave in to her touch the way he did, looking so miserable and lost; his wide-eyes marveled at her as if she were the sun, the moon, and the seven stars.

 

Oh damn. She could get used to this.

 

Not to mention the fact she'd thrust a pile of pillows behind him, helping him upward so he could eat and, as a result, she had a clear view of the drops of sweat finding their way down from his face to his naked chest. It was the most disturbing thing ever.

 

Oh shit.

 

Occasionally, she’d stop feeding him to grab the piece of cloth and wipe the trickles of sweat off his face, not even daring to mop them from his broad torso. 

 

Nope, nope, nope, that was a forbidden zone. Definitely dangerous, with a capital D.

 

And now, she was cursing herself as she noticed how his lips, previously dry, white and cracked because of his fever, progressively recovered their pink plushness thanks to the hydration provided by the soup.

 

Oh lord. They were so tempting. The things he could do with…

 

She chided her brain - or those damn hormones - to shut up as Kylo finished yet the third bowl of soup. She saw him brush his sweat off his forehead and run a hand in his hair as she placed the empty bowl on the stool.

 

“Th-thanks,” he mumbled through hooded lids.

 

Rei offered him a shy smile. She observed that, apart from his lips coming back to normal, he looked like hell. His face was still drained of all colors and his black mane contrasted with his pale, white skin. The fact she had removed his mechanical arm added to his maimed aspect.

 

“Come on, let me lay you down again,” she said, sticking her hands behind his back, helping him. When he slid down, she pushed the pile of pillows away and stuck one behind his head. She accommodated the sheet over his chest, then moistened the cloth again and gently wiped his face before laying the cool piece of fabric flat again on his forehead. “You need to rest,” she said before aiming for her abandoned labor on his mecho-arm. 

 

But before she could turn away, Kylo grabbed her wrist. “Do-don’t go. I-I can stand the fever, but not being alone,” he croaked, probably thinking she was going to leave.

 

Rei's heart dropped to her stomach. Her gaze flickered between his tattooed hand on her wrist and his dark orbs. The inking reminded her how empty his life must have been to write “No God. Only Death” on his skin. She sat back down next to him, without pulling her wrist from his grasp. “I’m here,” she whispered softly to him, before seeing him press his lips and swallow. “I’m not going anywhere; I was only going to continue repairing your mecho arm.”

 

There was a short pause where something passed between them. She was certain he’d felt it too, but instead of making him feel more at ease, she sensed it made him uncomfortable, for he avoided her gaze and bit his lips.

 

He hesitated for a moment. "Wh-why are you here…how did you find me?" he dared to ask. Rei sensed he'd been holding that question in for a while.

 

“Joi called me at the office. She told me she was your assistant and you were badly wounded.”

 

His face lit with something close to understanding before she continued.

 

“And then I found you here. You were in a dreadful state. I called my friend Maz, who’s a doctor,” she explained, but before she could formulate another question, he cut her off.

 

“Why are you here?” he asked with a tinge of wariness.

 

The question startled Rei. She had a distinct feeling he wasn’t believing her. “I was worried for you. The ghost…do you remember anything? You were abducted. I spent days looking for you,” she assured him.

 

He bit his lips. “Nobody has ever cared about what happened to me. Wh-why would you?”

 

His answer made Rei’s heart drop further down. For a split second, she floundered, not knowing what to answer. Why didn’t he believe her? “Of course I care about you. You saved my life, you were so brave to face that ghost to protect me,” she said, lips curving upward in gratitude.

 

His scrutinizing gaze was suspicious. “So…it’s a way for you to repay me?”

 

This time, Rei outwardly blinked. “No, it’s not like that,” she raced to explain. “Why don’t you believe I care about you?”

 

His mouth stayed clamped for a moment. She saw his throat work. “Nobody cares about androids, so why would you?” he muttered while his eyes turned glassy and his lips twitched. 

 

His despondent gaze took in her reaction, as if seeking any trace of deceit.

 

Suddenly it hit Rei: he didn’t trust her. He couldn’t trust anyone. How could he? He’d been created as a disposable tool, used as a killing machine, mistreated and brutalized by his creators. Hell, they’d even injected a dangerous virus in him! He didn’t trust humans. The wounds were not only exterior but interior. And now, he was scared of being hurt again; an inner, emotional pain. Just like she’d been afraid of being hurt so many times. The feeling was so familiar it made her heart constrict.

 

Rei sought a way for him to believe her.

 

Oh yes, there was a way…But good lord, she’d promised herself not to go this way. She’d never done this; he was an andy, she couldn’t…but deep down, a voice whispered it was the only way. And deep down…she wanted this. She bit her lips as her heartbeat increased sharply.   

 

Hesitantly, she bent down and brought a trembling hand to his cheek which she brushed with her thumb. “I care about you,” she murmured. Her gaze traveled to his generous lips, which had just parted upon their skin contact, and, shutting her eyes,

 

- she pressed her mouth to his.

 

His entire body shuddered upon the kiss. When she removed her lips and dared to look at him, his breath hitched. His chin whipped upward, the longing in his eyes begging for more than a simple peck.

 

“Please…” he entreated in a short, barely audible whisper.

 

Upon hearing his plea, Rei didn’t think she could ever have refused. She neared her lips and before she could measure the consequences, he caught her mouth with a tinge of desperation.

 

He sought entrance immediately and she granted him. An electric current ran down her spine when he thrust his tongue into her mouth and she muffled a moan of surprise at how delicious the wet sensation felt. Their tongues intertwined passionately - his kiss enveloped in a mixture of grief, sorrow, and craving. She tilted her head to the side to better taste him while he ran his tongue over her teeth and sucked on her lower lip, grunting in pleasure at the back of his throat, as their mouths closed ardently over each other again and again.

 

The energy which had passed between them for weeks was channeled through their connection, making her skin shiver and prickle. Why did she have this distinct feeling it was so familiar? It ignited something dormant in her, something she knew was there but couldn’t quite identify.

 

And it felt good. Too good. The raw sensation of his tongue on hers felt dangerous. When the heat started to coil down into her lower abdomen, a sort of survival instinct made her break away from the kiss.

 

She pushed herself upward and her eyelashes fluttered open. Through their panting, their gazes locked; they stared at each other not quite believing what had just occurred between them. His lips were glistening, slightly swollen and Rei had to apply all her mental strength not to dip down and catch his lips again.

 

He stared at her, bug-eyed, in silence. A million emotions flickered across his expressive face. Gratitude. Disbelief. Loneliness. Hope. Desire.

 

Rei knew she had to move away from his bed, or she was going to pounce on him. She simply didn’t trust herself in his presence at this moment and the intensity of his scrutiny was enough to cause her cheeks to heat. “You need to rest,” she whispered again, laying a kiss on his forehead this time and rising to her feet swiftly, as if escaping from temptation.

 

This time, he didn’t try to hold her back. She went back to his desk, sat down and glanced at the mechanical arm resting there. She willed herself not to look back for she felt his presence behind her, studying her every move.

 

Rei looked at her watch. There was no news from Maz. She decided it was maybe a good moment to ask how her research was going, since Kylo’s temperature was still very high after his sleep. She manually typed the message and then focused on the mechanical arm to redirect her mind away from the fact she’d just done the very thing she had forbidden herself to do:  kiss the man she’d sworn to keep at bay. 

                                                                   

 

*

 

Rei had been working on Kylo's mechanical arm the whole day and she hated to admit it, but the sophistication of the automail was proving more difficult than she anticipated. It was thrilling, however, to work on new advanced technologies and she'd been determined to repair it quickly in order for him to recover mobility.

 

After sensing he’d stopped watching her, she’d peered back over her shoulder, only for her heart to nearly melt: Millicent had curled up between his arm and his chest, her little nose nestled in his armpit, while he'd fallen asleep. She could see his chest heave gently; his breathing had evened. For the first time, his features were oddly relaxed as if he'd found inner, newfound peace. The shaven part of his skull was resting on the pillow, causing whips of his jet-black hair to dip over his face. Rei couldn't shake the warmth in her chest upon looking at him, in this most domestic and vulnerable state. It wasn't fair: despite his ill-appearance, he was still ridiculously attractive.

 

Rei sighed, thinking that destiny was truly playing games with her. Why, of all men in this forsaken city, was she strangely attracted to an android, when her job was to specifically retire them? It questioned everything she had ever believed in; that they were soulless machines, incapable of feeling. Kylo had certainly proven the exact opposite: his raw emotions were so intense it almost scared her. Not to mention she suspected some of those emotions to be linked to her.  

 

She took a deep breath again, when the doorbell rang. Kylo stirred between the sheets but didn’t awaken. 

 

Joi suddenly materialized into the room. “Rei, are you waiting for someone?” she whispered, trying not to wake him up.

 

“Yes, it must be Maz. She’s found something apparently. Can you check it’s her?”

 

Joi nodded and vanished before Rei walked to the hall and heard the entrance door slide open.

 

Maz soon entered with a metallic small case in her hand “Maz!” greeted Rei with opened arms. The two women fell into a tight embrace, before the elder asked, “How is he doing?”

 

They untangled from each other and Rei gestured to follow her. They walked together toward his room. “He’s a bit better. He ate. He’s slept the whole day. This morning his temperature was still very high and he was sweating a lot."

 

“Appetite is the best sign he’s recovering. He needs to rest as much as possible,” explained Maz.

 

“Have you found information on the virus? Is there a cure?” eagerly inquired Rei.

 

“I have, actually. It’s a genetically modified virus of an exotic, pre-apocalypse Influenza A virus H5N1. A deadly fever. In pre-apocalyptic times, 60% of infected people died of it.” 

 

Rei stilled and clamped a hand over her mouth as panic slammed her. “Is there a cure? Will he die?” she raced to ask, throat constricting.

 

Maz grabbed her shoulder with a calm, serene expression. “Relax. There is an effective cure now. We just have to see how he receives it. You say he’s not human and so I cannot tell how his body will react.”

 

Rei breathed out, shoulders slumping with relief. “But…why did they inject him with this?” asked Rei, her brow creasing with concern.

 

Maz rubbed her chin between two fingers. “Hmm. I cannot know for sure. Above all, I wonder why they injected it in an android. Maybe they are seeking a mutation of the virus in andys as a way to create a new flu? Maybe they wanted to inflict pain…or kill him? It doesn’t sound good, either way.”

 

“From what I know about him, it’s very likely they were trying to kill him. They brutalized him; you saw his wounds as I did. Maybe they wanted to be sure he’d die if he escaped!”

 

“That’s definitely a possibility.”

 

The two women fell silent as they entered the bedroom and Kylo's head veered to them. Shit, had he heard their conversation? thought Rey upon realizing he was awake. The last thing she wanted was for him to think his life was in danger. She also noted Millicent had run off again to hide.

 

Maz offered Kylo a wide, compassionate smile. She adjusted her glasses, sat down on the stool next to his bed and observed him before taking a sophisticated stethoscope out of her case. She reached for his wrist and measured his pulse; she then listened to his heart with the device, and took his temperature, all this while Kylo ogled her as if she were a piece of a complicated puzzle. Rei had the distinct feeling no one had ever taken care of him in this fashion, nor had he been attended to with compassion; it made her heart ache for him even more.

 

“Okay big guy, your condition has stabilized and you need to rest as much as possible. You’re a strong one, aren’t you?” she said affectionately. “I’m going to inject a powerful medicine. You have to tell Rei if you feel any secondary effects. If everything goes as I expect it will, you’ll recover shortly,” she explained.

 

At that moment, he almost looked like an attentive schoolboy; he nodded obediently and let Maz introduce the needle into his skin without flinching.

 

“There we go. All set.” The elder rose from her seat and gathered her things before Rei joined her to say goodbye. “He needs to drink a lot of water and eat properly. It’s Sunday, and tomorrow is a working day. Can you stay until tomorrow to see if he recovers?”

 

“Yes, and if I’m late, my boss will understand.”

 

“Oh and Rei. Be careful with this case, my sixth sense tells me this is dangerous stuff. The virus mutation? That was made by professionals. If they were really trying to kill him, they might come after you for saving his life. You need to be extra-careful and protect yourself. I will investigate the virus and do some digging to see if I can identify the source.”

 

Rei took air into her lungs and looked down. “I know, thank you for warning me Maz, it’s…a necessary reminder.”

 

“Sometimes life is more complicated than we wished for, especially when the heart is involved,” said the old woman cryptically. 

 

Rei’s head snapped back up; she gaped at her. Before Maz turned away to leave, she winked at her and slipped through the door, leaving Rei’s mind temporarily blank.

 

Oh shit, is it that obvious? Rei sighed in defeat. She’d already been weak and trespassed her own limits; upon hearing Maz’s warning, she was determined not to give in again, for both their sakes.

 

*

 

 

When Rei stepped back into his room, Kylo didn’t look at her. His mind had gone elsewhere, immersed in gloomy, dark thoughts upon overhearing her conversation with the doctor.

 

It was a mortal disease, as he had suspected. Never had he felt so weak, almost incapable of moving because of the fever. It certainly felt as if he were dying. 

 

Death. It sounded almost sweet after the pain he’d endured at Hux’s hands. The only thing that had kept him alive through the tortures he’d inflicted on him was the image of Rei, holding the white iris in her hands with a wide, wonderful smile on her face. Of her, racing to rescue him when Phasma had nearly choked him. Maybe death was the only way for him to stop suffering. However, the women he desired with such ardor was now in his company, looking after him. For the first time in his life, and after having thought so many times he didn’t have the right to survive after taking so many lives, he truly wanted to live.

 

She had even kissed him, giving him what he’d so clumsily sought the time she healed him in her apartment. He secretly wondered what had made her change her mind, but he pushed the thought aside; the memory of the kiss made his heartbeat flutter and his stomach to do somersaults. Kissing her had been the most wonderful feeling he’d ever experienced; a taste of paradise, a taste of what the word happiness probably meant.

 

It had also unleashed his lust like a wild beast. He was grateful the sheets covered his lower parts, for he’d gone hard on the spot while he returned her kiss. He wanted to make love to her so badly it was driving him insane. In the intimacy of his mind, he dreamt of all the things he wanted to do to her. Watching some videos while he’d been lonely and aroused for weeks certainly hadn't helped his imagination to calm down. Quite the contrary, he wanted to suck on and kiss those small breasts he had the privilege to get a glimpse of earlier, to please her between her legs with his tongue, to hear her moan and scream under him. In short, he wanted to ravage her.

 

This small, slender woman had bewitched his entire being. In other words, he was properly and utterly doomed.

 

 “Are you ok?” Her voice snapped him back to the moment. He tilted his head the side to meet her glance.

 

She was sitting on his chair, with his mechanical arm laid before her on the desk, a hand holding a screwdriver and the other brushing her hair out of her face. She’d smeared grease all over her forehead and her untidy, mechanic-like aspect threatened to make him hard again. The things I’d give to take you right on that desk, in the middle of those tools. Fuck.

 

Instead of speaking his mind, he nodded idly to her. Eyeing him suspiciously, she stood up and came near him, taking the cloth off his head and feeling his forehead.

 

“You haven’t said anything since Maz left, that’s why I ask,” she explained, sitting on the edge of the bed and dipping the cloth in cold water. But before she could put it back on his forehead, he stopped her.

 

“Wait,” he said, straightening in the bed, pushing himself up with his organic arm to settle into a sitting position. He then took the piece of fabric from her hands. Her face registered incomprehension, before he looked at her and lifted it to her forehead.

 

Rei quirked a doubtful eyebrow. “What are you doing?”

 

“You have grease there,” he said, eyes narrowing to the spot.

 

“Oh.”

 

She scrunched her nose, a faint blush creeping on her cheeks, causing him to grin. He scrubbed the grease off, sticking his tongue out a bit. “There,” he said, handing her the cloth again.

 

“Th-thanks,” she mumbled. “It’s the DW-40 I used for your arm.”

 

The was a pause between them, where he strongly considered trying to kiss her again. But she’d moved away so quickly the first time, leaving him to question if he’d done something wrong, that he didn’t dare. Instead, he asked what had been laying heavy on his heart.

 

“Am I going to die?” he whispered, glancing down at his tattooed arm. 

 

He saw Rei take his broad fingers into her tiny ones and interlaced them together. "Look at me," she entreated softly, lowering her head to seek his gaze. He slowly raised his head, and saw her lips had curved into a small smile.

 

“You’re not going to die. You’re so strong. You survived the worst pain. You have to fight this virus; you have to live,” she encouraged firmly, squeezing his fingers into her warm ones. 

 

“Wi-will you stay with me tonight?” he now risked to ask.

 

“Yes, I told you, I’m not going anywhere, and you still can barely stand straight.”

 

This time, he felt his own lips curve up. “Thank you. For taking care of me. No one ever has, it feels strange.”

 

Her features turned compassionate. “I know. Trust me, I know what it feels like to be alone. More than you could ever think,” she assured, sighing long and slow. 

 

“You’re not alone,” he said, boring his dark orbs into her honeyed ones.


“Neither are you,” she replied.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Okay, hang on, I’m going to make the nerve connection. This is going to hurt,” said Rei, biting her lips as she struggled to maintain the heavy limb correctly within the shoulder socket. Kylo pressed his lips; he nodded and braced himself in apprehension. “Three, two, one, now!” she exclaimed, pulling the metal claps which connected the automail to the main socket. 

 

Kylo didn’t cry out but he hissed sharply; his nose wrinkled and his teeth bared. Rei blinked owlishly at him.

 

“Jesus, you didn’t even scream!” she snorted, astonished as she witnessed his pain resistance. “What kind of suffering have you gone through, God.”

 

He opened his eyelids slowly; he breathed out in relief, long and slow. He cast her a glance and chewed on the inside of his mouth but didn’t answer her question, as if he felt embarrassed or ashamed to acknowledge it. Instead, he started moving his arm up and down, then to the side, eyeing the piece of mech in wonder.

 

Rei was relieved to see the arm move correctly. Until then, she had harbored a doubt about screwing two inner circuits together and repairing some tricky parts in the metallic joints. “It seems to be working alright?”

 

“It’s perfect. Like new,” he answered, still marveling at it. “Th-thank you. I can’t believe you could repair it.”

 

“I’m glad I helped.”

 

There was a small pause while he continued to test his limb. With the soothing sensation of relief, Rei’s tension eased down and she yawned, bringing her hands to cover her mouth. She rubbed her strained eyes with the tip of her fingers. “Sorry,” she apologized, looking at her watch “I-I’m a bit tired. It’s really late. You should also sleep, although you already look better since Maz gave you that shot.”

 

Kylo tilted his head, his black mane falling on one side. “Tired? You look exhausted…”

 

Instead of answering, Rey scrunched her nose and shrugged. She didn’t want him to know she hadn’t slept the previous night because of sheer terror for him; she had needed to make sure he was going to make it through the night and hadn’t stopped cooling his forehead with the cloth.

 

He hesitated. Was it Rei or did his cheeks suddenly turn a slight shade of red? She arched an eyebrow. Could androids blush?

 

“I-I don’t have an extra bed here, nor a sofa. B-but you can sleep next to me, we-we can share the bed,” he managed to stutter despite his obvious embarrassment.

 

Rei’s eyes widened to the size of flying saucers; her brain was suddenly not working anymore. “I -- what?” she asked, gaping stupidly at him while her cheeks flushed crimson.

 

She saw Kylo gulp, more and more embarrassed with each second that went by. He looked down at the sheet he’d grasped impossibly tight in his hands. “I-I won’t touch you. I promise.”

 

Far from relieving the tension, it actually made it worse because of the possibility of it actually crossing his mind in the first place. Both of them turned bright pink; they didn’t dare to look at each other and Kylo rubbed his hand behind his neck. Swallowing hard, he broke the uncomfortable silence. “I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”

 

“No, no, it’s fine,” Rei raced to correct, peering at him again. “C-can I trust you?” she asked shyly.

 

Kylo’s head whipped back to her, a glint of hope lighting his flushed features. “Yes, of course.”

 

Rei considered him. She was exhausted and the possibility of sleeping in a warm bed was definitely attractive. His bed was actually a decent size for a full bed; he’d probably chosen it considering how massive he was - oh no, shit, shit, shit, she couldn’t think about this now, especially not in this situation. She willed her brain to shut up and reign itself in by breathing in deeply. “O-okay, let’s give it a try.”

 

Kylo gaped it her as if her agreeing came as a genuine surprise. “I’ll move here, next to the wall, so you can get up if you want,” he said, shifting to the other side of the bed, which was indeed placed in the right corner of the room against the wall.

 

Rei crawled into the bed, kicking her shoes off but keeping her pants and long-sleeved shirt on for good measure. Kylo was on his side, resting on his mechanical arm. She imitated his position, accommodating herself next to his broad frame, facing him, and pulling the sheets to cover herself.

 

It was so warm and comfy compared to the chair she’d slept on the previous night that she couldn’t help but snuggle against the pillow.

 

For a moment, neither dared to talk, even if Kylo’s lips curved into somewhat of a smile, transforming his face completely. She could tell he was happy she had accepted; the thought itself sent a thrill of trepidation down her spine. She wanted to say something, but the millions of questions swirling in her mind had suddenly vanished because of his proximity. His smell filled her nostrils; it was a deep, lush manly smell. It was utterly intoxicating. Coupled with the closeness of his naked torso and tatted arm, which he’d folded over the sheet, the air was failing her lungs.

 

Come on, say something, anything that crosses your mind…

 

Unexpectedly, he was the one to break the silence. “I wanted to ask you. I didn’t know you were so good at mechanics. How did you learn?”

 

“By myself,” she replied honestly. Her answer clearly surprised him, for he quirked an eyebrow. 

 

“That’s…impressive. This automail is made of the latest technologies, it’s the last the Corp -" he suddenly stopped as if he had been on the verge of letting something slip.

 

Rei bore her gaze into his, challenging him. “You don’t have to keep secrets with me. I know who your masters are.”

 

His face registered shock. “What?”

 

“It’s the Starkiller Corporation, right?” she asked with a hint of pride at her discovery.

 

At first, he seemed to want to protest, but soon, he sighed against his pillow, resigned. “How did you find out?”

 

“I’m a cop. That’s my job,” she said, eyebrows rising smugly, before she added, in a more calculated way. “But I’ll tell you how I learned mechanics, if you tell me about this place,” she offered. “The plants. Millicent. How? Those are extinct, Kylo, surely you know that.”

 

Doubt washed his features. He chewed on the inside of his mouth.

 

Rei tried to convince him. “I trusted you. Can you trust me, too?”

 

Bingo. The argument was powerful enough, for resolve appeared on his face. “Okay…But I want to know everything about you if I tell you. Deal?”

 

It made Rei burst out with laughter. “Okay,” she agreed, pressing her lips sheepishly and burying her face in her arms. Seeing her reaction, Kylo’s lips curved again, this time breaking into a full-fledged smile which revealed dimples. Oh lord, it was so beautiful; a half moon in a dark night. It made her stomach flutter.  

 

He took air into his lungs and his rich voice said, “Indeed, you got it right, my creators are part of the Starkiller Corp. Several months ago, my Master trusted me with a delicate mission.” He hesitated, choosing his words carefully. “I was sent to kill some scientists working for a secret laboratory.”

 

Rei shuddered upon hearing he was sent to murder and pushed aside how her blood nearly froze upon hearing his words. Despite her inner disgust, she nodded. She was finally, finally getting there. On the brink of understanding the mystery behind it all.

 

“So, I spied on the lab for a few days,” he resumed. “It was an underground installment. I quickly noticed it was an unusual mission; my strict orders were to kill everyone and set fire to the lab, making it look like an accident,” he paused, remembering how everything had occurred. “I soon discovered the personnel, just a couple of white-coated men, were working on plants. I did some research on the internet and discovered those were pre-apocalypse life forms, now extinct. It caught my attention. I started to question my Master’s biddings….it felt wrong to destroy something that was supposed to be extinct. I had always fulfilled my Master’s will and never had second thoughts about missions. But this was different.”

 

“What did you do?”

 

Kylo’s throat moved up and down. “I had to kill them - I had no choice,” he urged to explain seeing her eyebrow crease in incomprehension, “but I saved as many plants as I could, along with documents, books, research… And…in the middle of the blaze, Millicent appeared, frightened to death and disoriented. I’d never seen an animal before, but I’d heard of them. I raced to save her when her fur had already caught fire. That’s actually why half of my hair is shaved…it caught fire.”

 

Rei hadn’t even realized she’d been biting her knuckles. “Th-that was so brave of you,” she said, eyeing his hair. “And I like your haircut. It’s very stylish,” she said; she didn’t dare to pass a hand through his pitch-black hair, but was heavily tempted.

 

Kylo’s cheeks colored, but he didn’t answer. Instead, he continued. “I took the plants in. Then, well…I had to move them from my old hideout. That’s why this place is still in disarray. I started to study them, along with the documents I’d found. I created a water and light system and I bought Joi for her to supervise everything. I’ve followed how they grow, how they live. I’m on the brink of understanding them. I already succeeded in reproducing one.”

 

Rei was momentarily speechless; she gaped at him in astonishment. “Th-that’s so amazing! Kylo, that’s such hope! For Humanity. Maybe we could replant the Earth again! And Millicent, she’s the only animal I know of. Maybe we could find a way to reproduce her!” she said eagerly, rising and leaning against her elbow which dug into the pillow.

 

Kylo’s eye lit with…interest. “I know…I know humans have lost that. I know it could help humans and androids.”

 

“But still, why did your master send you to destroy that lab? Who is he?”

 

Kylo paused for an instant; a shudder visibly ran through is body and his brow furrowed darkly, as if he were pondering an important decision.

 

“It’s Snoke.”

 

Rei’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets; she rose from the bed. “Sn-Snoke is your Master!? The Supreme Leader!?” she exclaimed.  

 

Kylo nodded.

 

He’s your creator? The one that did all this to you?” she cried out indignantly.

 

His chin moved up and down a second time, sadness washing all over his features.

 

Rei couldn’t believe it. Her mind was racing; heart pounding her chest. She knew the case was leading to top representatives…but this? It was madness! Why did Snoke create Kylo? Why did he send him to burn that lab? She remembered Leia, suspecting the Supreme Leader was involved in the Reflectio virus. So he was indeed linked to the Starkiller Corp! But there was more to that, her sixth sense could feel it. “Do you know why he sent you to burn this lab down?”

 

After a split second - too long for Rei’s acute observation - he shook his head by the negative. “That’s what I’m trying to discover.”

 

Rei was under the impression he wasn’t telling her the whole truth. “Will you tell me once you do? This is too important, Kylo, you need to tell me,” she insisted.

 

He nodded again but quickly changed the subject. “I will. Now…It’s your turn to tell me about you.”

 

Rei was desperate for him to answer more questions, but she had to acknowledged he’d just confessed a great deal. She needed time anyway to process everything he’d just told her. So, instead, she laid down on her side next to him again, head digging into the comfortable pillow.

 

She sighed, long and slow, remembering times she’d wanted to forget. But Kylo deserved the truth, since he’d opened himself and gave Rei a glimpse of his secrets. She cleared her throat. “I was abandoned in Coruscant by my parents when I was only 5, in the aftermath of the Apocalypse. I have scarce memories of the Earth before the Fire Apocalypse, before the volcanoes erupted and covered everything in ashes; I only remember green forests and the big, huge blue sea…”

 

She glanced at Kylo, who was silently drinking in her words. It gave her strength to continue. “I grew up alone, in the dumps of Coruscant. I-I scavenged old ships and droids all day, selling parts to a horrible guy who recycled them and sold them for more money to clients I didn’t know of. He was a brute to me, a complete asshole, but the money allowed me to survive. I did that for so long, thinking my parents would come back for me. But they never did,” she explained, throat constricting, eyes suddenly watery. “Th-that’s how I learned mechanics. It’s always been a passion. It’s the true thing I’ve always known how to do.”

 

“You’re very gifted,” he praised. “This automail is no easy thing to repair, trust me,” he spoke in a deep but gentle voice. “How long did you stay in those dumps?”

 

“Well, I did draw a line for each day I spend there on the wall of the wrecked ship I was using as a home. There were too many to count. One day, a woman came to find some very rare mechanical pieces for an old droid she had. She was wealthy and a well-known politician with a big heart. She scared Plutt - the guy I sold parts to. When she saw how he treated me and the state I was in, she took me under her protection. She saved me from the dumps; she gave me proper housing in an institution, which was paradise next to the dump. I was about what…15- 16? I’d lost count of the years. We are still very close friends,” she said, yawning once more. She eyed Kylo through tired, hooded eyelids.

 

“Thank you, for telling me this,” said Kylo, gazing at her with care. “You should sleep,” he whispered, drawing the sheet over her shoulder.

 

The next thing she knew, she was sinking into the soft mattress, letting herself be lulled by Kylo’s body heat. Without noticing, she drifted into Morpheus’s arms.

 

Her dreams filled with the image of Leia, finding her in the dumps. Her dream took her back to that day, seeing how the well-dressed senator had offered money to Plutt in exchange for her release. Rei, who’d been surviving for something close to eternity, had been distrustful at first. The kind woman had taken her to a place where the ladies welcomed her with care and affection. The first thing they had done was give her a bath. The scattered imaged soon mixed with Kylo’s face, only, he appeared to her as younger, slimmer…but she knew it was him, for his presence was the same as the android she’d grown to know. Maybe it was a human version of him? He looked so attractive and she wanted to kiss him…

 

All of a sudden, she heard a scream and jolted awake, body tense with fear. She swiftly turned around to the android next to her. Kylo’s whole body had tensed up; he was sitting up, with the sheets grabbed firmly in his hands, trying to catch his breath. His hand was over his heart.

 

“Kylo…what happened?” she asked softly and raised a hand to grab his mechanical arm, when he veered toward hers; light flickered on his face, haloed by his black messy hair. His eyes were glassy and round with anguish. He looked at her, eyebrows arched with desperation.

 

Rei gasped as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders, bringing her head in the crook of his neck. His body was quivering without control; even his breath was shaking. Rei instinctively embraced and soothed him as he dug his nose into her hair, pulling her closer. It was extremely hard to focus on anything else than how his naked hot skin felt on her cheek and how his body heat and broad arms engulfed her slim figure.

 

“D-did you have a nightmare?” she asked, focusing on his state.  

 

She felt him gulp.

 

“Y-yes…” he croaked, before suddenly jerking her body away from his, causing Rei to almost yelp at the loss of contact. “I-I’m sorry, I did-didn’t mean to…” he stuttered, lowering his gaze, realizing he’d broken his promise. 

 

Rei raced to ease him. “It’s okay, it’s okay…” she said, bringing her hands to cup his shivering jaw. “Look at me,” she entreated, and he did. The dim light of the outside city reflected on his face, bathing both of them in flickering colors. The sight of his haunted, scared gaze made her heart clench. “I’m here, it’s okay…. What did you dream of?”

 

His throat worked again and he looked aside. “I-it doesn’t matter,” he whispered. “I’m okay.” He moved to lie down again, refusing to meet her eye.

 

Rei remained in sitting position; she observed how he brought his arm over his face, trying to steady his breath and shield himself from her scrutiny. She lowered herself on her elbow and caressed his cheek with her finger. “You can tell me,” she offered kindly.

 

He removed his arm and laid it over his head onto the pillow. “You don’t want to know,” he said, voice turned into a ghostly whisper.

 

“What if I do?” she challenged, while she continued to soothe him with her fingers.

 

He shook his head stubbornly; sadness impregnating his features. Rei retrieved her hand and tilted her head, frowning at him.

 

His mechanical hand rose to grab her pale one; his fingers felt cold against her skin. Without a single word, he brought her hand to his lips, which barely brushed her palm but the feeling was enough to make Rei’s breath hitch. However, he didn’t continue. He flattened the inside of her hand against his cheek and shut his eyelids, silently indicating how her touch appeased his bleeding soul.

 

After a moment of comfort where she brushed his cheek and traced the line of his scar, she laid down again close to him on her side, while he watched her with his impossibly vulnerable, dark eyes; they were vacuums into a black, dark void, a place where only suffering and loneliness ruled as despots.  

 

He accommodated himself on the side to better face her, burying his head into the pillow. He had a moment of hesitation before blurting out the question. “Can I hold you?”

 

She considered him an instant and then, she slowly nodded. Deep down, she also wanted to feel him close; his proximity made her feel secure. He opened his mecho arm to welcome her and she scooted herself there, resting her face onto the half-mechanical half-organic part of his chest while his broad organic arms closed around her shoulders. It was a strange feeling, even the metal limb seemed warm. She snuggled there, and, when her breathing evened, she sensed his heartbeat, pulsing in his chest; it was beating as fast as hers.

 

The warmth soon lulled her and she soon drifted back to sleep.

 


"Nightmares" art by the wonderful Anhedoniapsychee

 

***

 

The sound of water shocked her awake. She jolted out of sleep, eyes squeezing and blinking in disorientation.

 

Where am I?

 

Her head snapped left and right, scanning her environment. Her mind was blurred and sluggish because of sleep.

 

Oh. Kylo. The apartment.

 

The recollection of the previous night immediately came back to her; her gaze flashed to the empty space next to her. The bed was still warm and now, she could distinguish the sound of the shower. He’d probably waken up before her and decided to wash, which was a clear indication he was feeling better. She laid her head back into the pillow again and rubbed her face.

 

The memory of their conversation flashed at the back of her mind, as did his nightmare. Snoke. The lab. The plants. What had he dreamt about that frightened him so much? She bit her lips, thinking hard. While Kylo had been sleeping the previous night, she’d freely wandered through the apartment, taking notes and pictures of the place. She’d also looked through the piles of papers and books laying all over the desks and shelves. Now, she connected Kylo’s story to her findings. However, she’d also discovered a small cupboard which was locked with an old fashioned lock. Searching around the room, she’d found the key’s hideout in a small box on a desk; but, deciding she was trespassing, she’d decided not to open it. However, things had changed; now, knowing everything, and sensing Kylo was purposefully keeping back information, curiosity got the best of her. He was in the shower; surely she had enough time to check what was inside that cupboard?

 

...

 

The cool water was a blessing on his burning skin. Trickles of water dipped over his hair and face and there was only one word that came to his mind in this moment: relief. It had been days he’d been sweating as if he’d turned into a melting pot of lava. He finally felt better and could actually stand up.

 

He felt so dirty because of the sweating; however, the heat had increased dramatically when Rei had joined him in bed, and not only because of her own body temperature. A war had been raging between his brain and his cock as he’d struggled to control his rushing, pressing needs and keep them to himself. The fact she’d slept in his arms had been torture: her perfume had filled his nostrils the whole night and the sensation of her perfect, smooth skin was simply maddening. He’d woken up swollen and hard in his briefs and he’d had to creep out of the bed without her waking up toward a much deserved cold shower. The cooling sensation on his intimate parts was especially needed.

 

But the most problematic part was that he was still hard and he refused to tend to himself knowing she was in the apartment. It felt wrong and disgusting, so instead, he willed his throbbing cock to calm down as he shampooed his hair and forced himself to think about everything that had occurred between them. She'd been so willing to sleep beside him; she'd kissed him and embraced him. Their relationship had morphed to something more intimate. The recollection of the kiss gave him hope; he’d felt her body react to it as much as his, and there was no denying they both wanted each other. Maybe that, now they were awake, he could find a simple, honest way to let her know he desired her?

 

 

Rei got out of bed, tossed the sheets aside and aimed for the next room, padding like a cat.  Soon enough, she reached for the small box and retrieved the key and crouched in front of the cupboard which was underneath a desk in a corner; it was made of old wood - another old discarded piece of furniture - and had a small, golden lock. She quickly turned the key in the tiny hole and surely, it clicked open. Her heart hammering hard in her chest, she removed it and carefully pulled open the small door.

 

It was filled with a pile of old papers. They were also quills and pens and a black ink bottle. Whiffs of ink and parchments smell invaded her nostrils.

 

Bug-eyed, she reached a trembling hand toward the piece of paper on the top of the pile, only for her jaw to go slack - the paper was inked with incredible drawings of plants. Of leaves, flowers, stylish studies of growth processes. It was beautiful. She slowly retrieved another paper.

 

In her disbelief, she forgot to pay attention to her surroundings. She didn’t hear the shower stop, nor the bathroom door discreetly sliding open.

 

“What are you doing?” echoed Kylo’s deep bass voice behind her.

 

Rei’s heart nearly jumped to her throat in surprise. She bolted upward to her feet, veering around swiftly -

 

- only to found a half-naked Kylo staring straight at her.

 

Oh, fuck. 

 

Her mouth was hanging ridiculously open as she gaped at him. His state should have caught her undivided attention - his hair was wet, with small droplets dripping onto his shoulders and sliding down on his naked chest - mercifully, he was wearing a baggy black pair of pants, but it had the unintentional effect of showing his perfect muscular V-line; if she hadn’t been just caught red-handed, it would have been one hell of a view. But…

 

Rei gulped and she soon found that her brain had gone on holiday as she struggled to find any decent explanation. Her lips moved but she was incapable of saying anything - both from shock of seeing him like this - damn him for being so fucking attractive - and her own guilt at what she’d done.

 

Oh, she was in deep, deep shit. “I-I…”

 

His quiet gaze roamed over her figure in a new, unknown fashion. She’d forgotten that, during the night, she’d felt too warm and had removed her long sleeved shirt, leaving her with a simple, tank top one. He pulled a black leather glove over his mechanical hand and the simple gesture made her bite her lips. He stalked with heavy steps towards her, forcing her to lift her chin up to meet his eye. Shit. Shit. Shit. He’d been laying down the whole weekend - and she’d almost forgotten how tall he was now, cornering her, looming over her like a predator.

 

Oh dear. A shiver of fear - or was that a thrill? - went down her spine.

 

“I suggest you put that back where you found it,” he said, his tone guarded.

 

Rei obliged as quickly as lightning. She turned around and crouched before the cupboard, putting back the two pieces of paper and locking it up just as she’d found it. She straightened again, but gave her back to him, not willing to turn and meet his eye. She put the key onto his desk in silence, when she felt him scoot himself closer to her. 

 

Suddenly, he picked her bra's strap which had fallen to the side and put it back in place. The move nearly sucked Rei’s breath away. But that was nothing compared to his hands setting on her arms and caressing her up and down; the contact of his hot, damp skin and leathered glove made her entire body shudder in a new way. His body heat soon engulfed her and his massive frame dwarfed her slender one. She didn’t dare move; she didn’t even dare breathe. Her heartbeat was so intense it was ringing in her ears.

 

He bent down for his mouth to reach her ear level. “Once a scavenger, always a scavenger, I guess?” he taunted with the most mischievous tone ever. Rei’s throat worked and she found it was dry. But when his nose dug into her hair and moved it to the side for his lips to brush her ear with the ghost of a kiss, her breath hitched unwillingly. “I should punish you for scavenging my apartment. You don’t think I haven’t noticed, little rat?” he mused, his deep bass sending another chill through Rei’s spine.

 

His hands were still on her arms, holding her in place now; his grip had a tinge of desperation. Without warning, this time his lips laid a real kiss on her neck - and Rei’s mind went blank. Then another one, and she openly panted. She closed her eyelids under the incredible sensation of his lush lips on that sensitive spot. Fuck, why did it feel so damn good ?

 

No, no, I can’t do this. I can’t…I can’t -

 

His breath was all over her. She felt him slide his organic hand possessively up her arm to her neck - bringing her closer to him - before he licked her right beneath her ear.

 

This time, Rei pathetically stifled a moan. Her chest heaved while he licked her again- the wet sensation of his tongue and his teeth lightly scraping her skin made heat immediately pool between her legs.

 

Oh God, it felt so fucking good. She squeezed her thighs in a desperate attempt to ease her increasing arousal.

 

“I want you,” he managed to whisper between hot breathes into her ear and ran his tongue hungrily over her entire neck. 

 

His words hit her like a cold shower, snapping her back to reality. Maz’s warning rooted like a red flag in her mind, which raced with incoherent thoughts. This can’t be - it would only end in ruin - you’re forgetting what he’s done - I can’t give myself to an android, it’s dangerous - he’s dangerous, his masters - they’ll come for me… I don’t want to be abandoned again- it’s forbidden - No, no, I can’t -

 

Not knowing exactly how she found the inner strength, she swiveled around, freeing herself from his grip; she flattened herself in the corner of the desk and the wall, chest heaving frantically.

 

Her eyes traveled to his dark ones - and for the first time, she saw sheer lust emanating from his obsidian orbs. Her gaze traveled down and unmistakably, a prominent budge had formed in his loose pair of trousers. When she looked straight at him again, his cheeks had powdered red and he seemed almost ashamed of himself. It was the second time he blushed - how could androids - ?

 

“Kylo, I can’t - I can’t do this,” she panted. 

 

He recoiled as if she’d physically slapped him. He pressed his lips and bit them, eyebrows creasing in pain. “Why?”

 

Why ? Why?  Why couldn’t she ? It was too complicated to explain, she -

 

“I just can’t,” she blurted out, causing his throat to move. He stared at her, chest moving up and down, nostrils flaring. “Why did you kiss me, then?”

 

Oh shit.

 

The question came out raw on his tongue, sharp and bitter; she could tell he was devastated by her rejection. She cursed herself inwardly. Why had she put herself in this situation? 

 

“Kissing is different. I-”

 

Kylo cut her off, his voice almost cracking under the intensity of his emotion. “Was it- was it just, what…pity ?” 

 

“No!” she raced to say honestly. “I-I wanted it, too.” She ran a hand over her face, shut her eyelids, pinched the bridge of her nose and exhaled. “Listen, Kylo, I just, this is going too fast for me, I-”

 

The ringing tone of her cellwatch startled both of them. Rei gaped at the buzzing device, seeing the tiny writing flashing - Poe was calling her.

 

Fuck, this man really had the most dreadful timing - but she had to answer. She wasn’t back at the office yet - wait, fuck, what time was it?

 

“I- I have to answer this!” she apologized to Kylo, taking the small mic out of her watch and sticking it into her ear so he couldn’t listen to her conversation. She brushed passed him, darting for the kitchen; she couldn’t help noticing how his shoulders sloped in defeat and resignation.

 

“Poe?” she asked, moving into the kitchen.

 

“Rei? Are you okay? Where are you?” asked her boss.

 

“I-I’m fine, I got sidetracked by some…issue,” she explained.

 

“Issue? What’s wrong Rei?” inquired Poe. Why did he always have to be concerned for her?

 

“I-it’s nothing, really. Investigating something. For a case,” she answered, trying to sound convincing, and probably failing at it. It wasn’t a lie - just, a half-lie. 

 

“Okay Miss Mystery. I need you here for something, can you come in?”

 

“Yes, I’m- I’m on my way, I’ll be there as soon as possible. See you later!” she cut the conversation short, ending the call.

 

She had to go - and it was probably for the best - she'd already been there too long and now, it had resulted in a complete and thorough disaster. She walked back into the living room, only to find Kylo standing against a desk, hands crossed tightly over his chest.

 

“I have to go,” she said, aiming for her bag in the other room, where he followed her.

 

What ? Why ?” The words seemed to blurt out of his mouth before he could control himself.

 

“Because I’ve been here all weekend, and now I have to go to work,” she told him sincerely while she gathered her belongings, clothes and tools she’d had gone to get at her house while he’d been sleeping the first night.

 

“No, don’t go…” he croaked with a disbelieving head shake.

 

That made Rei’s head dart toward him. His dark eyes had filled with a mixture of dread and anguish.

 

“Kylo, I have to go. You’re feeling better, that’s the most important thing,” she said, pulling the straps of her bag over her shoulder and walking toward the entrance hall, where he followed her again.

 

“Please,” he entreated, but Rei stubbornly aimed for the door. If he continued begging her like this, she would never have the heart to leave him. She had to focus on getting out of here, or she was in big trouble.

 

She activated the door button, which slid opened, before a gloved hand caught her wrist, twirling her backward effortlessly -

 

- she staggered and almost crashed into his chest, immediately taking a step back when she saw his twisted, enraged eyebrows knitted together, his gaze now dark with anger. “You’re running away from me,” he accused, words hard and cold around the edges.

 

Okay, it wasn’t a lie, but he wasn’t going to treat her like this. “Kylo, let.me.go!” she warned.

 

“What did you come here for? To sneak around, is that it?” he tightened the grip on her wrist. His mechanical fingers dug into her skin despite the glove, and Rei knew it would bruise tomorrow.

 

“No, I didn’t! I care about you, I was worried shitless until Joi called me - how can you believe a word you’re saying when I watched over you for the whole weekend?”

 

But wrath and possessiveness seemed to be clouding his mind. “Liar, you’re just using me! Like everyone else!” he hissed through gritted teeth.

 

“I am not! You’re just…too intense, Kylo! You’re scaring me! You want things from me that I cannot give you!” she barked back, raising her voice. Oh, she wanted to add so many things. Yes, I’m strangely attracted to you; Yes, I desire you, but you killed Lor, how can I give myself to my master’s murderer? Your masters want to kill me. You’re an android, everything is complicated and I don’t know if I can do this. I need time. Instead of speaking her heart, she went for the easy route. “Let me go, I swear, or I’ll never see you again,” she threatened firmly. She hated the fact he was so possessive with her.

 

Her words seemed to hit him like a blow. Crestfallen, his eyes watered; he was on the verge of tears. His shoulders sunk and he looked down, reluctantly releasing her wrist; she quickly drew it to herself and rubbed it, drawing slow circles to ease the skin.

 

“I’ll see you around,” she said, echoing his own words, weeks ago and slipped through the door, refusing to look at him again, half-cowardly, half-angry with him. The door closed behind her without him uttering another word.

 

Her knees were about to give out; instead of aiming for the lift, she leaned against the wall next to the door, breathing in an out sharply. Leaving him had been the most difficult thing she’d ever had to do. Shit, he’d told her he wanted her. It made her skin tingle. How on Earth was she supposed to react to that? Everything was going too fast and she had to think -

 

Suddenly, she heard a loud scream and noise coming from inside the apartment; the sound of something crashing. She quickly moved to the door and stuck an ear to it. Her heart dropped to her stomach when she heard enraged growls and grunts followed by the sound of glasses, plates, furniture being utterly ripped apart. 

 

“Kylo STOP!” screamed Joi from the inside. “Don’t -!”

 

“Shut UP!” he bellowed, trashing something against the wall.

 

Unable to contain his wrath, he was destroying his home. Joi’s voice had vanished. Rei’s eyes squeezed shut as she stood there, rooted on the spot, listening to the sound of his unfolding temper tantrum and rage.

 

But it ebbed away shortly - there was a pause, as if another storm was about to break - but, this time, the silence was torn apart by a devastating, ugly cry. She heard his body thump against a wall and break into a full-fledged sob.

 

She clamped a hand over her mouth and bit it, tears welling in her eyes; she didn’t know if her heart could take it anymore. While he coughed and wailed helplessly like a child, Rei’s cheek damped with salty water herself.

 

He was crying - crying because of her. It was all her fault. She’d hurt him, making him sob helplessly. What had she done? Why did she always create misery around her? Why did she always end up hurting everyone? She was just a miserable, pathetic creature.

 

Incapable of hearing more of his wailing, she stood up and raced out of the building. She ran, and ran and ran as fast as her legs could still carry her, tears dripping uncontrollably down both sides of her face. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Sluggishly holding her jaw with the palm of one hand, Rei brought a hot cup of black coffee to her lips with her other and lazily scanned the e-mail on the screen in front of her. The computer’s clock indicated 7:30 and she’d already walked into the office thirty minutes ago. But it was better than the sleepless, horrible nights she’d been having.

 

Five full days had passed since she ran out of Kylo’s building. When she ran away from everything. But her dreams unrelentingly reminded her that she only ran away from herself. They were filled with gut-wrenching images of her, kissing him - and doing much more than simply kissing - in his bed and then leaving him coldly, as if she had no heart. They turned into nightmares of him, sobbing like an abandoned child, alone and miserable, in his hideout. It was as if an old video of everything that had occurred between them was locked on a loop in her mind.

 

Ironically, the karmic boomerang decided she’d also have time to dwell on it. The day after she cowardly fled, she felt extremely weak and feverish, immediately thinking she caught Kylo’s virus. She called Maz, panic seizing her upon remembering how dangerous that virus was. Maz showed up at her apartment two hours later and had given her the same shot she’d given Kylo. Mercifully, Maz hadn’t asked how exactly she’d caught it, nor asked for more information on Kylo than necessary, simply ensuring herself that he was feeling better.

 

C3P-0 watched over Rei as she sweated all the water of her body, moaning Kylo’s name, hovering between hallucinations and dreams of him for two consecutive days and nights. She knew because C3 had asked who ‘Kylo’ was, commenting he didn’t know of any of her acquaintances bearing that name, causing the heat to creep up her cheeks. She pretended it was a mission codename from the Bureau and cut the conversation short.

 

The truth was, the stinking thorns of guilt were consuming her alive. She felt it was a dead end: if she tried to make it better, if she called him, or texted him, she would give him hope again. Selfishly, she wanted to, to alleviate the burden off of her shoulders. But given the raging chaos in her head and heart, she shied away from facing him directly or writing him a message. But all she could think of was the sound of his broken heart.  

 

She knew she should have given him more of an explanation. She knew she should have faced him, been patient, and not give into old fears. But remorse didn’t make the past any better nor did it mend open wounds. It only made her feel more terrible.

 

By lack of courage, or simply because she didn’t know what to do, she let time work its magic. On Thursday, she’d been feeling better, and that afternoon, she’d ventured to the Bureau again. Today was the first day she’d properly come back and was caught up with answering voice and e-mails, which had dramatically accumulated during her absence, causing her inbox to flood virtually.

 

Sipping on her morning caffeine, she remembered she wanted to talk to Leia about her discoveries concerning Snoke, although she wanted to avoid at all costs revealing Kylo’s secrets about his plants and Millicent. She felt it was too fresh and too important to reveal, not to mention the fact that he’d trusted her with it. She’d already broken his trust in so many ways; she didn’t want to sink even more in his esteem by revealing his hideout’s secrets to the world. However, Snoke’s implication in the Reflectio virus case and the Starkiller Corporation had to be unveiled. She therefore typed a message on her cellwatch to Leia, asking for a private meeting as promptly as possible. She would inform Poe and Finn about her discoveries after she’d talked to Leia.

 

She heard a ting sound come from her watch almost immediately and glanced at it

 

            Leia Organa

            Dear I am sick in bed. Can it wait until next week?

 

Oh damn. Rei hoped she was okay. The weather had been doing strange things lately so it wasn’t surprising she was sick.

 

            Rei

            Yes. No pb! Are u ok?

 

            Leia Organa

            Just a bad cold. Thanks.

 

Rei sighed and went back to her morning routine. She was in the middle of answering a message on the screen when a flamboyant orange shirt came to sit right on the edge of her desk. Her gaze darted up to meet Poe's ‘toothpaste-ad-white’ smile.

 

“If it isn’t Miss Mystery herself! How are you feeling?” he cheered. Poe had been so nice as to come and visit her during her sickness along with Finn and Rose, whom, Rei had noticed despite her fever, had suspiciously grown closer, making her grin inwardly. They’d kept her company for an evening before leaving her to her nightmares.

 

“Much better, thanks,” smiled Rei weakly. “Answering all the accumulated messages,” she said, nose wrinkling. She really hated modern communications; everything always had to be answered on the spot or she had inspectors, police agents or colleagues on her back five minutes later.

 

"Are you sure? You don't look so happy," asked Poe, raising an eyebrow. Oh, why did he always have to look at her like that?

 

“I’m okay. Just tired. From the sickness,” she responded, focusing on the screen.

 

“Hmm,” hummed Poe, twisting his lips in disapproval. “You know what? I think we should go dancing.”

 

Rei’s eyes whipped up at him in shock. She blinked. “I - what?” she asked, frowning.

 

“I think you need to go dance. To go you with friends. You’re constantly working and obsessed with the Reflection virus case.” She was about to protest but he cut her off. “No, no don’t make that face. You don’t think I’ve noticed? You even got sick! Why don’t we go to a cool night club with Finn, and maybe Rose, tomorrow night? Get away from work a bit? Have a nice time?”

 

Go to a night club? Had she heard her boss correctly? Hell, she’d set foot only once or twice in one. She didn’t even know how to dance! She stared at him, eyelashes batting, at a loss for anything to say.

 

He pressed his point. “So, what do you say? I’m certain Finn would be delighted. And I love to dance!”

 

Poe loved to dance. Breaking news. Well, he did have Latin-American origins, Rei recalled, and they were supposed to be really good dancers. What was the name of the country? She couldn't remember but she'd seen it on a pre-apocalypse map.

 

“I-I’m not really a good dancer,” she apologized, trying to find a way out of the impasse, when suddenly, Finn popped out of nowhere behind her screen, scaring the living hell out of her; she menaced to fall backward on her seat.

 

“Hey, peanut!” he saluted with his usual good humor.   

 

Rei rose a hand to her heart, breathing out sharply in relief. “Shit, you scared me!”

 

“Sorry, dear! So, what are you guys up to?” he asked, head flickering between his two colleagues.

 

“I’m inviting Rei to go to a nightclub. I thought we could cheer her up a bit, what do you say, wanna join?”

 

Finn’s feature lit up in happiness at the idea and Rei knew she was doomed. “That’s a great idea! I could invite Rose!” he said without thinking.

 

Poe and Rei’s eyebrows arched. “Well, well,” said Rei mischievously “You two certainly have gotten close.”

 

Despite the darkness of his skin, Finn’s cheeks visibly colored. “Well, I mean…she’s very nice. Great mechanic. I really like her. But there’s noth-”

 

Rei burst out of laughter. “Oh, your face! I’m just kidding! I don’t mind, she’s my best friend!”

 

Poe also chuckled and took advantage of the situation. “So, it’s a deal? Tomorrow night? I don’t wanna see that sad face on you. I want you to look nice and have a good time, okay?” he said to her, his tone indicating he meant every single word.

 

Rei sighed. After all, maybe wasn’t such a bad idea. It would occupy her brain on something other than a certain android which had chosen her mind as a throne. And it was a good opportunity to have a nice time with her friends and alleviate the weight in her heart. “Okay, okay, you win. I’ll go.”

 

“Good, now back to work you two!” commanded Poe with a victorious grin.

 

 

***

 

The mirror she was standing before was really not reflecting the right person. She stared at the stranger gazing back at her. The electronic music, as well as all the people’s voices, were raging outside the women's bathroom where Rei had come to breathe for one minute while waiting in line for the loo. She decided the make-up droid had decidedly exaggerated the eyeliner, mascara as well as the cherry lipstick. Her eyelashes were impossibly long, making her almond-shaped eyes look like a doll’s.

 

Combined with the outfit she was wearing, which Rose had encouraged her to sport ‘to make a change’, she really didn’t feel like herself. She had a tight V-neck dark tank top over which she’d slipped on a short-sleeved small leather jacket, both of which showed her muscular naked mid-riff; a pair of dark blue jean-like shorts and some knee-high boots completed the outfit, showing her claves. She’d drawn her hair into three buns, the pink ends sticking out at the back of her head. Decidedly too revealing, she’d thought, before telling herself she never went out to dance and for once, it was nice to change a bit. 

 

She glanced at her cell-watch and saw a message flashing on the screen from Finn. Him and Rose still hadn’t gotten to the club, leaving her alone with Poe.

 

            Finn

            Peanuts. We were delayed. Don’t wait for us to have a blast. Be there later.

 

Rei rolled her eyes. Was Finn doing this on purpose to leave her with Poe? She was starting to suspect the two had some sort of on-going plot. After dressing together and squealing like teenagers, Rose had slipped off to go find Finn, which had resulted in them taking forever to join them at the club.

 

Oh, screw them, she thought, dashing out of the woman’s bathroom into the club’s fluorescent strobing blue and pink lights. She was adult enough to manage her boss, for crying out loud.

 

Thankfully, the Station 1980 wasn’t one of the biggest clubs in town and the mix of electronic and oldies music was relatively enjoyable. She’d insisted they go to that specific place because she was familiar with it. What was always less enjoyable was the smoke which filled the room until the ceiling and swirled around since everyone was smoking, from normal cigarettes to prohibited substances, but she wasn’t on duty, so she didn’t pay attention.

 

After swarming through the crowd, she finally found Poe, who was dancing with two of his childhood friends who had joined them shortly after arriving. She had to say the man had style: the way he moved his hips and arms so rhythmically was, well, impressive, to say the least. He was dressed in a simple white shirt and elegant trousers. Seeing her back with them, Poe smiled at her and joyfully aimed to take her hands to make her dance with him, to which Rei laughed because she was utterly incapable of staying in rhythm.

 

After a solid fifteen minutes of useless dance lesson and finding herself more and more embarrassed, she neared Poe’s ear. “I’ll go and get some drinks! Do you want anything?” she screamed over the voices of the crowd.

 

“Yeah! A Cuba libre would be great!” he said, winking at her and giving her some money.

 

“No, that’s on me!”

 

“Are you kidding!? Take it, I insist! Or you're fired,” he said with a smirk, pressing the money in her hand.

 

She eye-rolled and thanked him with a nod and aimed for the bar, which was on the other side of the night club. She’d already had two cocktails, but she felt in the mood to drink tonight and all this dancing was making her thirsty.  

 

Getting to the bar, she spotted an empty seat on a high stool; she took a seat, barely noticing a tall man on her left who was slumped against the counter. She rose her hand and shouted to the barman to catch his attention -

 

- when she heard an awfully familiar voice next to her, making her blood freeze. 

 

“Rei?”

 

Her head whipped to her left.

 

Kylo was staring right at her, black eyes wide with disbelief, a half-smoked cigarette held loosely in his gloved hand.

 

 

Kylo thought he’d known what sadness was. He thought he’d known what loneliness meant. They had been his old and most faithful companions since he’d been created.

 

But after having enjoyed Rei’s company for two whole days, after having touched her, held her, smelled her, shared his bed with her, emptiness and solitude were swallowing him alive.   

 

He’d beheld the hope that maybe, maybe she’d reach back. That she’d call him, that she’d give a sign.

 

But that spark of hope had died down soon enough. He had her number on his cellwatch, the one where Joi had called her, but he didn’t dare. He had already embarrassed himself enough as it was. Her rejection and fleeing had been like ice, carving deep wounds in his chest. The painful truth had tightened its grip around his heart little by little, crushing him slowly as the days went by: she’d lied to him. She truly didn’t care. He’d sought trust and comfort in her, only to be tossed away like a vulgar toy. Like the machine he was. A disposable tool for humans.

 

The truth was he’d shed more tears in five days than in his entire life. The gloomiest and darkest thoughts had flashed before him as he contemplated the void of his existence.

 

He was also highly unstable and unbalanced. He cursed her for leaving him alone at the very moment when she’d made him believe he was worth something; anger and darkness made his bloodstream burn, bathing his soul with hate and loathing. But, like a pendulum, the balance soon shifted to the other side and self-hatred tore him apart so completely that the thought of taking his own life had even crossed his mind.

 

That was until Joi had suggested he’d go out to take a bit of fresh air. He’d been attempting to repair the furniture and ripped pots he’d trashed when Rei had fled. After three days of dwelling on everything that had happened between them, of replaying the scenes over and over, he’d continued his plant studies. He’d also checked she hadn’t stolen any documents since he’d grown increasingly suspicious that she’d come to his hideout only to steal information.

 

But on that Saturday night, he’d decided he needed to get out of this gloomy state; he needed a drink or two in a crowded place, where he could merge with the crowd anonymously, giving him the impression he was surrounded by people, by warmth. That he was almost normal.

 

He’d flown his black hoverbike for miles, wandering around the immensity of the neon-lit city, until he settled on a place he was familiar with, a night club where anyone could smoke, where the drinks were decent and which was always packed with people.

 

But what he’d never envisioned was that the cruel cards of fate would deal him into the seat next to the woman who’d ruled as a Queen in his mind since he first saw her. Of all places in this forsaken city, how on Earth had she precisely chosen the same as he did? How could this be a mere coincidence?

 

His brain went blank upon seeing her, sitting there next to him, with her beautiful wild hazel eyes painted in black, staring back at him as if he were a ghost.

 

“Kylo…” she breathed out, her red lips barely moving. He read his name on her mouth more than heard it because of the surrounding noise. “Wh-what are you doing here?” she asked, this time more loudly.

 

“I could ask you the same question,” he said, recovering his senses. Now, his gaze roamed over her figure and her outfit, which showed her bare midriff and smooth legs. He’d never seen her dressed like this before…it was different, daring and rather unsettling.

 

She continued to gape at him as much as he did at her, obviously at a loss for what to say, before someone, a man, came up to her and put a hand on her shoulder. Kylo recognized him immediately from the Intelligence Bureau. It was the man who’d taken her wrist once when he was spying on them. The same one who had interrupted them by calling when they were back at his apartment and for whom Rei had left so suddenly. His eyebrow knitted darkly.

 

“Rei, I changed my mind. Did you already order?” he asked in her ear and Kylo’s lip twisted in anger upon seeing how familiar he was with her. Poe cast him a furtive glance as if asking himself who he was, which caused Kylo to glower at him as he took a smoke from his unfinished cig.

 

He saw Rei’s mouth hang open as if she didn't know what he was talking about before she composed herself. "Oh, hm - no, I haven’t yet!” she answered hastily, peering at his seated figure from the corner of her eye.

 

Was it him or was he suddenly sensing she was afraid?

 

“Okay, can you please get me something resembling a whiskey?” he asked, squeezing Rey’s shoulder before adding, “And get anything you want, it’s on me of course. I’m going to the bathroom,” he winked at her before his eyes narrowed challengingly to Kylo’s.

 

Kylo held his gaze intensely while he left for the men’s room, but as soon as he disappeared into the crowd, his eyes darted back to Rei. She was fiddling with her hands over the counter, casting him small glances. He could feel she was embarrassed about something - and he knew exactly what.

 

His blood was slowly starting to simmer in his veins.

 

Now I get why you left the other day,” he mocked sardonically.

 

“What do you mean?” she quickly asked, turning to him with a quirked eyebrow. 

 

As she veered towards him, he coldly took in her appearance again from top to bottom. “You’re with that guy. I fell for that kiss you gave me, but it was a lie,” he hissed, furrowing.  

 

Rei’s eyes widened in disbelief. “What are you - I’m not with Poe, I didn’t-”

 

But Kylo was too upset to let her finish. “You liar,” he spat. “Are you going to make me believe you’re all dolled up for nothing? Alone in a night club with a man?” he said, scanning her clothes with disapproval.  

 

“Wha- no! You don’t - he’s not - he’s my boss!” she cried out, apparently full of indignation, but her face fell apart upon seeing his eyebrows arch. “Ah. Your boss. In a night club,” he sneered.

 

Not only was she lying - she was openly thinking he was stupid. Rage was thundering in his ears, making his fists ball up and quiver.  

 

“What are you implying?” she threatened in retaliation, face red with outrage. “You don’t understand! This is not what you think!” she bellowed, almost spitting in his face.  

 

Upon seeing her reaction, the shadow of doubt surged within Kylo’s mind. He needed to be certain. So, instead of pressing the point, he turned to another strategy.

 

“Very well,” he mused in a low, challenging voice. “If you’re not with him, come and dance with me.”

 

Rei’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor; breath stolen with surprise. After a split second, her mouth moved but no sound came out of it. He saw her throat work as she glanced around her furtively. “I-I can-t-do that,” her voice shook. “You don’t understand. I don’t want Poe to -”

 

“You fucking liar,” he barked, organic fist smashing on the counter this time, making Rei jump in her seat; she brought two shaking arms against her chest, breath hitching.

 

Her eyebrows pinched in pain and her eyes turned glassy. “I’m not lying to you…” she said pleadingly, biting her bottom lips; he wouldn’t have heard her if the music hadn’t lowered in that precise moment.

 

“Then prove it to me,” he snarled furiously. He was tired of her games.

 

At that precise moment, Poe appeared behind Rei, causing her to jolt. “Oh Poe, hi,” she said, confused by his sudden return, flattening her pair of shorts. “I- I can’t get the barman, he’s so busy he’s not paying attention,” she raced to apologize.

 

But the man had apparently caught a glimpse of their conversation. “It’s no big deal…” he said, patting Rei’s back, causing her to look down to her lap. “Do-do you guys know each other?” he gestured quizzically with his finger between Kylo and Rei.

 

Kylo saw Rei’s features crumble but she nonetheless found the way to answer. “Oh, well - hmm, barely,” she faltered, peering at Kylo from underneath her long black eyelashes.

 

Possessiveness forged a wicked smirk on Kylo’s lips. “Ah, he doesn’t know?” he taunted, dark eyes sinking his into hers defiantly.

 

Rei’s eyes rounded; she went pallid as she understood what he was about to do. She shook her head at him, eyes begging him not to go this way.

 

“What? Rei, what is it?” asked Poe, expression falling with concern.

 

Far from making Kylo drawback, it only made him press the point. Jealousy’s poisoned claws dug into his soul. “If you don’t tell him, maybe I should?”

 

Rei’s glare was so intense it nearly made him regret his move. “You brainless idiot!” she barked in his face and got to her feet, storming away from both of them.

 

“Rei!” Poe cried out. He cast Kylo an angry look before racing behind her.

 

Jaw tight, Kylo rose from his seat to follow them; he wasn’t going to let her get away with it this time; he wouldn’t let her flee like she already had. She was going to pay for lying to him, deceiving him and making a fool out of him. He was such a nervous wreck that he instinctively took another cigarette and lit it with trembling hands, taking several sharp puffs while taking long strides to where the pair had exited the place.

 

When he stepped outside the club, which opened into a small, shabby alleyway, he spotted the pair under a bright pink ad panel. Poe was visibly trying to talk to her, but her arms were crossed over her chest as she was leaning against a wall, checking her cellwatch, not looking at him.

 

But when Poe brought fingers to cup her chin, forcing her to look upward, Kylo’s heart sank to his stomach. His fist balled at his sides, shaking uncontrollably.

 

He walked directly toward them before Poe took notice of him and warned Rei, whose eyes whipped to his from behind her shoulder.

 

Poe took a step toward Kylo, standing between him and Rei. “Leave her alone! Or I’ll have you arrested!”

 

Kylo was anything but impressed. Quite on the contrary, the whole situation turned his blood into lava. He staggered toward Poe, hovering above him like a sky-scraper. Cigarette still in his mouth, fists tight by his sides, wrath, and hate shadowed his features. He felt raw darkness surge from within the depths of his guts; the angels of death whispered in his ears.

 

“Poe, please don’t-!” yelled Rei from behind him. “Let’s just get out of here!”

 

Oh no she wasn’t. Kylo’s eyes morphed into burning charcoal; his thoughts turned vicious.

 

“You don’t know her like I do…” he threatened, catching Poe’s attention instead of him leaving. But Kylo’s gaze locked with Rei’s, who was still standing behind him. “You think she’s a good girl, with her innocent eyes, all glowing for you…but she’s a heartless creature. Not surprising for a scavenger who grew up in the dumps. A nobody,” he hissed scornfully. His voice was venom.

 

He had enough time to get a glimpse of Rei’s features distort with shock and pain before Poe barked at him. “What did you just say? Don’t you dare talk about my Rei like that, you bastard!”

 

Something inside Kylo snapped upon hearing him.

 

My Rei…

 

So they were really…

 

He didn’t have time to dwell on it, for Poe launched bravely at Kylo without thinking, while Rei shrieked at the top of her lungs.

 

“Poe! NO!”

 

Acting on instinct, Kylo blocked Poe’s fist with his hand; their locked fists shook as they engaged in a stare-down. His words broke a dam inside him, and now, his rage and hate unleashed like a tsunami; lethal, powerful, and untamed. Without shifting his angle, he punched him with all his strength in the guts with his mecho-limb, causing Poe to cry out loudly and his body to crash to the ground. Scrambling quickly to his feet, Poe brought two arms around his stomach, squeezing an eye open and recovering his senses.

 

Kylo took the cigarette out of his mouth and trashed it to the ground, crushing it with his black boots. The adrenaline of the fight was fueling him, making him smug and arrogant. “Come get me, you scum,” he spat.  

 

But instead of attacking again, Poe bent down to his boot with a deft move, from where he retrieved a small laser gun, taking aim at him immediately. 

 

Kylo heard Rei scream. “Poe, no! Please!”

 

However, Poe didn't give it a second thought; he shot, but it was already too late: Kylo’s acute fighting skills made him dodge the shot and seize the hand which held the weapon; he pulled it upward, forcing the gun to point away from his face.

 

Poe yelped as Kylo’s mecho hand dug into his own, hearing his bones break one by one; he tried to help himself with his other hand, but Kylo’s artificial limb was far stronger than any organic limb.

 

Through gritted teeth, Kylo succeeded in pulling the gun away from Poe. Releasing his wrist, he bore his eyes into his opponent’s, face contorted with wrath. “Pitiful thing, you’re not even enough of a man to fight,” he sneered and destroyed the gun with his mecho hand, the sound of crushed metal causing Poe’s eye to light with fear. Kylo tossed the gun aside and laid a direct punch into his face with a loud thud, making Poe stumble and lose his balance. 

 

Before he could fall over, Kylo pulled him to his feet, almost tearing his collar apart… He heard the slight rasp of material ripping before he struck him again in the face. Rage was clouding all his senses, making him forget every shed of reason and self-control he possessed; he wanted to kill him. He mercilessly hit him several times, before he heard the click of a gun safety and saw Rei appear within his sight, a laser weapon pointing at his temple.

 

“Stop! STOP it!” she bellowed in a commanding voice.

 

Still holding Poe by his collar, Kylo turned to look at her; her eyes had turned feral.

 

Sweat beaded his forehead while his breath was raging. He considered her for an instant, eyes drifting from her face to the gun.

 

“You wouldn’t dare,” he said in a low voice.

 

“Try me, you murderer! Let him go!” she all but snarled.

 

Somehow, the reminder of his crimes snapped him back to what he’d just done. He glanced at Poe’s bloodied face, and released his grip, causing his body to fall unconscious onto the ground in the midst of dust. Then, he veered to face her, chest heaving up in down. He ran a hand over his face removing the sweat.

 

Rei moved to check on Poe. Without lowering the gun nor losing him from sight, she put two fingers on his neck to check if there was a pulse.

 

“Why are you protecting him?”

 

“He’s my friend, for Christ’s sake! You have no right to punish him for that! What the fuck is the matter with you?”

 

Kylo’s eyebrows knitted into a scowl. “Your ‘friend’, of course,” he snickered contemptuously.

 

“Why don’t you believe I can have friends?”

 

“Because you’re a liar. Why else would you have left me to go to him? Why else would you come here, alone with him, to a dance club? Why would he call you “my Rei”? I’m not a fool!” he barked.

 

“I know it sounds bad but it’s not what you think! For your information, two friends were supposed to come, but they didn’t make it,” she spat in retaliation. “You’re just jealous! You don’t want to see the point! If you think beating the shit out of him is going to make things better between us, you’re wrong!” she cried out with a scowl on her face.

 

His fists balled up, and he bared his teeth. He felt anger rise dangerously within him again. His heart ached so much from seeing her around another man, scratch that - protecting another man - that he was bordering the abyss of madness. “You’re the one who’ll never get it! You’re using me, like all of you, disgusting humans!” He paused, nearly coming undone. His voice was on the verge of breaking apart. “I opened myself to you, I trusted you!… And this is how you reward me,” he snapped, glancing at Poe on the ground.

 

From behind the gun, Rei swallowed and her hands shook. “Kylo…let me explain,” she whispered, anger receding in her voice to wrap around a warmer tone.

 

He stared at her as her gun lowered toward the ground. “There’s nothing to explain. It’s crystal clear.” He turned around on his heels and paused, shoulders sloping with the weight of pain. “You’re just a heartless human,” he said, before leaving decidedly with long strides.

 

He didn’t see Rei’s face breaking apart; nor her sinking to her knees, eyes welling up with tears as she watched his long black coat billow behind him as he disappeared into the city’s shadows

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

It was cold inside the corridors of the hospital, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Rei wrapped her hands around her arms, rubbing them, attempting to warm herself up. She looked at the door in front of her, expecting Maz to come out at any moment, and sighed, long and slow. She brought her feet to her chest on the hospital bench and rested her head on her knees.

 

She had brought a wounded Poe immediately to the hospital after Kylo had mercilessly launched himself at him outside the club. Things had decidedly not gone the way she’d thought tonight. Her mind drifted back to Kylo, sinking into the shadows of the city…

 

Rei’s heart constricted and tears menaced to break. It had all been an enormous, disastrous misunderstanding. The minute she’d seen him, her heart had raced frantically in her chest. How on earth was he there? Her first guess was he had followed her, but after a minute and seeing his genuinely surprised face, she’d understood it was a coincidence, even if something strange, a mysterious déjà-vu feeling kept nudging at the back of her head.

 

Then, something had clicked inside her as they sat at the bar: Poe was in the disco. Poe, who witnessed the fight, although gravely wounded, when she first encountered Kylo. Poe, who viewed the videos of when Kylo attacked her in her apartment. Poe, whose skilled sixth sense sniffed out that a mysterious stranger saved her life with the ghost, based on witnesses’ testimonies. She knew her boss, he was the sharpest policeman in the Bureau; he was only 38 and had ascended to lead Director despite his young age.

 

Panic had seized her completely: Poe was going to link everything together if he recognized Kylo as Lor’s killer. Would he jail him? Would he kill him? The intensity of her fear that something would happen to him almost frightened her; it also made her realize how deep she cared for him.

 

But then, she’d made a crucial mistake: she hadn’t counted on Kylo’s terrible, devastating jealousy. When she tried to explain the truth to him, he cut her off, rage and wrath clouding his mind completely. It was useless to try to reason with him, and Poe’s flirty words and attitude towards her made everything ten times worse, fanning the flames of Kylo’s anger. She understood that the situation had been utterly indefensible to him, since all the evidence seemed as if she’d been on a date with another man. It was so, so far from the truth, but he just wouldn’t listen to her. Then he had threatened to reveal something to Poe, vengeance in his dark, furious eyes.

 

She’d been so enraged with him, but she’d also needed to try to guide Poe’s attention away from him, for if Kylo revealed anything, not only was she doomed but his life was in serious danger. The last thing she wanted was for him to be retired. She’d called a hovertaxi, checking the time every ten seconds and praying it would come soon. Never had she suspected that Kylo would come after them in the street and provoke a fight. Never had she imagined he’d display such violence. Granted, Poe had attacked him first, but fuck, he’d literally ravaged the man’s face!

 

The whole issue was a clusterfuck. She wrapped her arms more firmly around her knees, head sinking forward; the image of the fight, of him smashing his fists into Poe’s jaw repeatedly, eyes lit with madness and loathing, were unbearable to her. Yet she couldn’t make them stop.

 

Then she recalled his glare, venom dripping from his words …

 

She’s a heartless creature. Not surprising for a scavenger who grew up in the dumps. A nobody.

 

The insult had stung. It had torn open a bleeding wound, something deep inside her; she always struggled with her origins, with her past. She tried to overcome the fact that she was a nobody by building a life for herself, to keep her head high. Even if she grew up in garbage; even if she was tossed away like nothing. She had shown him compassion and revealed intimate moments of her life to him but he had used that against her.

 

However, strangely, she understood why he’d done it and her mind drifted to his last words.

 

You’re a heartless human, he’d said, pain and sorrow coating the surface of his words. He’d just left without another glance, not allowing her to explain herself. 

 

She knew. She knew he was hurting. That he was hurting so much that it was unbearable for him to stay in her presence. She knew, because she had heard him when she’d left his apartment.

 

And she had done nothing to help him.

 

Her heart felt like ice; as if it would never warm up again.

 

Was there even a way to make it up to him? She clenched her eyes shut and rocked herself, hugging her knees tightly.

 

The sound of a door sliding opened snapped her back to where and why she was in the hospital. She lifted her head to find Maz, pressing a button to close the door.

 

“How is he doing?” she inquired, full of concern for her friend.

 

“He’ll be all right. The bacta tank was fully necessary though, but he’ll make it. Maybe a few bruises will stay,” Maz appeased her. She came to sit next to her on the bench. It was late, but Rei would have been incapable of finding sleep. “Rei, what happened? His face was destroyed, covered in bleeding wounds.”

 

Rei didn’t dare to look at her. Instead, she fiddled with her fingers, plucking at a loose thread on her shorts. When she felt a hand on her shoulder, warm and comforting, she peered to her side.

 

“Rei, you can tell me,” kindly offered the elder, “whatever the truth is.”

 

She didn’t know what it was: the kindness and concern in her voice, or maybe the fact that she had no one to talk to, and, after all, Maz had been there for Kylo in the worst moment. After witnessing Kylo’s rage against her, her heart was shattered to pieces, even if she knew she was solely responsible for everything that was happening.

 

Whatever the reason, she burst in tears, bringing her hands to cover her face in shame. She sobbed and wailed tears of liquid sorrow. Maz patted her silently on the back and ran a hand through her pink-tipped hair. Rei coughed several times before she sniffed and straightened her spine. Maz took a handkerchief out of her hospital blouse.

 

“Dear, dear, you smeared your make-up all over,” she said with a smile, wiping the black rivers of sadness off her face.

 

Rei blinked and felt the thickness of her mascara all over her eyelashes. Maz then offered another handkerchief and she blew her nose in a most un-ceremonial fashion.

 

“It was Kylo,” she blurted out, peering at her from the corner of her eye as she wiped her nose.

 

Kylo? Oh dear…” Maz’s already big eyes went even wider; there was something behind her gaze, as if she all of the sudden understood the complexity of the situation. "How did this happen? You can tell me everything dear. I might be able to help you.”

 

Rei knew the old woman meant it. She didn't trust many people in this godforsaken city, but she trusted Maz. She took air into her lungs, breathing long and slow. “It’s a long story.”

 

“Well,” she said, glancing at her cellwatch. “There’s not much going on tonight. And I’m not tired.”

 

Rei offered a faint smile. Then, she explained everything to Maz. How she had met Kylo, the Reflectio virus case, the fact he had saved and spared her life, how she had gone to his place and found him, how they fought. She told her pretty much everything until this terrible night as well as Kylo’s dreadful behavior toward Poe. She only left out some crucial information about who was truly Kylo’s master; it was something she needed to avoid in order to protect Maz, who was a public doctor. Her life could be threatened and she didn’t want to endanger her. The elder listened to her carefully, her face changing as she explained the depth and complexity of her relationship with Kylo.

 

When she finished, explaining how she’d brought Poe to her immediately after the fight, Maz breathed in sharply and sighed. “My dear, you know, I’ve been married three times…”

 

“Really?!” Rei cut her off, surprised.

 

“Oh yes, I’ve lived a long life. And let me tell you, I’m a MD but I also have a Ph.D. in man problems,” she deadpanned.

 

Her remark alleviated Rei’s soul; she giggled at her remark before Maz continued, “My dear Rei, you have a big problem. That man has a mighty crush on you, to say the least.”

 

Rei gulped and despite her saliva, she found her throat going very, very dry. “Yo-you think so? After everything I've done to him?" she asked, a glimpse of hope coming back to her.

 

“Oh yes. I saw him at his home, the way he stared at you. The temper tantrum he made when you left him? That’s someone who’s desperate. And since he’s lonely and frantic, he interpreted everything the wrong way tonight. It’s no reason to beat the crap out of someone like this, but if he’s been used by his masters and thinks you betrayed him, his rage is understandable. I’m not saying ‘acceptable’ but ‘understandable’, and that makes all the difference. You will have to decide what you do with that.”

 

Rei looked at her lap again. She knew Maz was right.

 

“What should I do? I’m so lost,” she asked after a few seconds of reflection.

 

“What do you feel for him?”

 

Rei stared at her. She tried to voice something, but no answer came. She blinked a couple of times, trying to make sense of the turmoil inside her chest. What did she feel? Her head was exploding; it was chaos and she could make nothing of it. “I’m very lost. I-I just know I’m attracted to him, in strange and… intense ways. I’d never felt so comfortable around someone until the weekend I stayed at his apartment. He makes…he just makes me feel good. I feel I can be myself around him, not pretend I’m something else. And shit, I dream of him all the time!” she exclaimed, before hesitating. “But, at the same time, he…he killed Lor, Maz, I just can’t, I can’t,”

 

"That is the heart of your problem if I understand it…that is a very complicated issue, and you, and only you can resolve this in your heart,” explained Maz wisely.

 

“Yes…” Rei croaked before she continued, “And he’s violent, clouded by anger and jealousy. And he’s an andy.”

 

“You don’t know for sure if he is or not,” warned Maz.

 

“But what if he is? Could I give myself to a machine…?”

 

“Pretty hot machine if you ask me. We should make more of those!” teased Maz.

 

Rei closed her eyes in embarrassment, cheeks reddening. “Oh god…” she said, passing a hand over her face. “I know…he’s-he’s…god, he’s just so fucking attractive.”

 

“Well that sure seemed like an honest confession,” mused the elder. “Maybe the only thing that you’ve got clear in that head of yours!”

 

Rei’s eyebrow creased in pain. “Maz, what should I do? If you have any advice, please tell me. I’m a disaster at this. I don’t know where to even start!”

 

“Call him or text him. Tell him you want to talk. Directly. Talking is the only way out of all this my dear, even if it’s hard,” she said, putting a hand onto hers and seeking her eyes, which she found, “Not avoiding, not talking over the phone. Face-to-face.”

 

A shiver ran through Rei’s spine at the very thought of meeting him to explain herself. But deep down, she knew Maz was right. There was no other way. And she couldn’t cowardly run out of it this time. Besides … it would mean getting to see him again.

 

She knew what she had to do. Maz rose to her feet, aiming for the Poe’s door again. Before it slid open, she turned to face her once more.

 

“Oh and Rei, find a good story for your boss, or I don’t bet much on Kylo living long after what he pulled,” warned Maz, making Rei bit her lips.


***

 

Kylo randomly walked in the dark streets of his neighborhood, hands in his coat pockets and a cigarette lit between his lips. He wandered idly with a deep frown on his face; he glanced around at the neon-lit flashing of stores and shops around. He’d gone out of his hideout to fetch food, since his stomach was empty and had been growling for several hours, forcing him to go out. He’d found a place to nibble on something, and had taken a stroll, since he hadn’t had much time to walk around since he’d arrived here. It was a gloomy, obscure neighborhood of Coruscant, with people sleeping in the streets despite the coming winter. Misery was everywhere, far away from the shining and rich city center with its illuminated malls and ads selling the latest products to indebted customers. The B-side of this horrible consumer society.

 

It was a place for outcasts, just like him.

 

Walking helped him ease his throbbing nerves and his anger, which had not receded since he met Rei three days before in the nightclub. His fists still balled uncontrollably as he recalled everything; holding onto his anger allowed him not to think but simply hate her. It was the only defense mechanism that enabled him not to collapse. It was also a way to shield the agonizing pain in his heart.

 

Suddenly, a red-lit panel caught his eye on the other side of the street.

 

Kick-Your-Ass Boxing Club.

 

Kylo’s eyebrow quirked as he read the name.

 

Uh, that’s an interesting name for a boxing gym, he thought. It also seemed to fit his situation like a glove. He wanted to literally punch anything to ease his nerves. He crossed the street and peered inside the door, which was half-opened. A dim light illuminated a boxing ring in a dark room; it seemed to be deserted. He pushed the door; the screws creaked with age and he stepped inside. He advanced into the gym, while whiffs of sweat and old leather filled his nostrils. The walls were coated with posters of boxing champions, all signed; Kylo scanned the pictures of past men in red gloves, with scowls on their faces.

 

“Hey there,” echoed a voice behind him, making him bolt in surprise. He swiftly turned around, hand darting to his belt and retrieving his gun.

 

Emerging from the shadows, a figure of a thin, tall, crystal-blue eyed man appeared. “Hey, we got no beef!" he said, raising his hands in the air at the sight of the weapon.

 

Kylo’s jaw went slack at his own reflex. “Sorry…old habit,” he apologized, thrusting the gun back in the holster.

 

That made the man’s eyebrow crease, and, against all odds, he grinned at him. Now, Kylo observed him. His hair was white and short, but he seemed young with pale skin. His eyes had a spark of intelligence and wit. “What owes me the pleasure?” he asked, eyeing him quite suspiciously.

 

“I saw your panel out there. Kinda liked the name,” said Kylo.

 

The man glanced at him in the dim light from top to bottom. “You a boxer?” he inquired.

 

“Nope.”

 

“You sure have the …build of one,” he observed, taking in his broad shoulders and height.

 

“Martial arts,” explained Kylo.

 

“Ah. And your name is…?”

 

“Kylo.” Saying his name stung, the name Rei had given him. Was there anything that didn’t remind him of her?

 

The man extended a hand toward him, and Kylo took it with his mechanical one, causing the man’s brow to arch again. “I see…my name is Roy, I’m the owner of this joint,” he said. “I take it you’re here for…something,” he said, glancing at him “Like a relief?”

 

Kylo’s eyes narrowed, taking note of the man’s perception. “Indeed, could use something to punch,” he conceded, casting a glance to the boxing ring and the heavy punching bag in the middle of it.

 

“Let’s see what you can do, I’ll test you. Nobody comes until later in the day anyway. First try is free.”

 

Kylo veered toward him again. “I don’t have much to train in though,” he said, looking down at his casual clothes and black boots. 

 

“Don’t worry, pal. I have a locker, there,” he said, pointing at a dark room on the other side of the gym “Number 2187 has stuff people have left over the years. See if anything fits you. I always provide the gloves.”

 

The kindness in the man’s words genuinely surprised Kylo, who wasn’t used to being treated without fear. He obeyed and promptly went into the locker room, turning a neon, bright yellow light on. He soon found the locker and went through all the accumulated sports material; he tried a couple of pairs of shoes on, soon finding one which matched his size; a feat, considering his shoe size was most uncommon. He slipped a sleeveless shirt on and a pair of shorts, which he tied at his waist. He took his cellwatch off and left it with all his clothes in an empty locker.

 

He stepped into the gym again, to find Roy already standing on the ring with a pair of red gloves in his hand. He climbed swiftly into the ring, straightening before the mysterious teacher.

 

Upon seeing his appearance - more specifically, Kylo’s mecho arm and leg - Roy’s eyes narrowed. “Aha. That’s fancy automail you got there. That leg too,” he said, pointing with a finger. “Been through a lot, huh?”

 

Kylo swallowed, not wanting to get into details. “Indeed. Rough life. So, are those for me?” he asked, sticking a finger at the gloves and quickly changing the subject.

 

Roy threw the gloves at him. “Yep. Put those on. Let’s see what you got, big guy.”

 

He didn’t know what it was, but the man made a good impression on Kylo’s acute observing skills. There was something about him and the relaxed way he carried himself that he appreciated, especially coming from a human - not that the man knew of his true origins, but still. He slipped the gloves on and punched his fists together.

 

“Okay, so, if you’re a martial artist, you must know the basics about this, right?”

 

“Moving?”

 

Roy’s blue eyes glimmered and he grinned. “Exactly. The most important thing is your feet. You need to dance on the balls of your feet, more than know how to punch.”

 

“Okay,” said Kylo, as he followed his instructions, moving left to right.


*

 

Three hours later, Kylo had discarded his shirt as rivers of sweat ran down his naked chest, arms and face. It seemed as if his whole body had been bathed in thick oil. He kicked the punching bag over and over, changing his pace from slow to quick, channeling his rage and anger into his hands and feet. Something inside him felt alive, something raw, destructive and dangerous which poured from him like the sweat on his body. Since he hadn’t been able to train in weeks since he’d fled the Corporation, he hadn’t been able to let his energy out.

 

Saying that Roy, who was guiding him at his side, was thoroughly impressed, would have been an understatement. His eyes had widened more and more upon seeing Kylo understand and master all the boxing techniques with a snap of a finger. He’d explained some basic techniques but Kylo was always eager for more complex ones.

 

“Okay kid, you can stop now,” he said and Kylo hit the punching ball again a couple of times before he stopped, straightened and rolled his head upward, trying to catching his raging breath. His chest heaved sharply and he went to lean against the ropes of the ring. His eye soon found his new companion’s.

 

“You know, I’m impressed. I’ve trained dozens of men. Dozens. And you really do have a gift for this,” he said, taking a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting it. The smoke swirled around him. He took a puff of it, peering at Kylo, who kept silent. “You should consider a boxing career. You’ve got the guts for it. The punch. The rage.”

 

Kylo breathed in a couple of times, and took his gloves off, before wiping his drenched forehead. “I like it. I’m more into martial arts. But haven’t been able to practice lately. Got sidetracked.”

 

Roy’s lips formed a strange smirk on his face. “You’re full of fury. And I bet you’re enraged at someone,” he said, eyebrows rising as he took Kylo’s stunned expression in. “I can always tell. That fire in your eyes, the way you punch that bag. You’re death made flesh.”

 

Kylo looked away, eyebrow knitting, but stayed silent. He didn’t like the idea of death anywhere near Rei. Roy took another puff of his cig, before he added. “It’s not my business buddy. If it makes you feel good to come punch the bag here, it’s better than punching something, or someone, else!”

 

That made Kylo peer at him again. His mind flashed to Poe’s face, three days earlier, bloodied and destroyed by his own hands. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want to be a criminal anymore, but the pull to kill that man had been stronger than anything; he’d lost complete control of himself. He didn’t know what to do about it; he only knew the gut-wrenching pain was nestled so deep inside him it came out like a hurricane, destroying everything on its path. “I need to learn to control my anger. It’s just there, inside, eating me alive.”

 

Roy looked at him thoughtfully. “I can see that. I can see that wrath,” he said, pausing as if choosing his words. “I also see hurt in your eyes.”

 

Kylo gulped. How could this man read all that about him in only a few hours? He admired his observational skills; he was a good teacher, since he knew how to read people and their needs. The truth was the images of Rei, all dressed up for another man - so beautiful for someone else - circled his mind like birds of prey, always ready to strike and eat his heart out. He didn’t know why, but he ended up blurting out the truth, desperate to talk to someone. “A woman ditched me,” he confessed, chewing on the inside of his mouth.

 

Upon hearing his words, Roy chuckled. “I knew it. You’re all hard shell outside, but inside, you’re the sensitive kind.”

 

He sighed. There was a time where it wasn’t like this. But now, his feelings and emotions poured out of him like water from a well; he knew too well who had caused that change. “I guess you’re right.”

 

"That anger you feel, it's the only way you have to express yourself when it hurts too much inside. I have young folks that come in with the same issue. They need to let it out."

 

Kylo nodded; his words were painfully accurate. For a split second, he thought it was strange to feel something so similar to human feelings. What made humans what they were, after all? Could an android with feelings be considered a human, or something else? Instead of voicing his thoughts, he simply expressed his relief. “I do need to let it out. I feel a bit better now.”

 

“You’ve only punched that bag for three solid hours," Roy laughed, revealing crooked teeth. "Feel free to come back. Make the bag bleed instead of your heart." 

 

It was Kylo’s turn to grin. He looked at the bag and the gloves. “I’ll go change.”

 

“Take a shower dude, there’s a pile of towels in the bathroom, the top one I think is clean. Take it.”

 

A shower sounded like something heavenly at that very moment. “Thanks. Will do,” he said, glancing at his sweaty state.

 

He aimed for the lockers again, and picked up his pile of clothes. He went into the bathroom and deposited it, before he noticed his cellwatch was flashing with a green light.

 

A message.

 

Frowning, he picked it up; the screen lit up and his heart fell to his stomach when he saw the name appear.

 

Rei Cellwatch

Kylo, hi. It’s me, Rei. I would like to talk to u. Can we meet for a coffee?

 

Kylo’s jaw went slack; his heart thundered in his chest. But it wasn’t all. There was another message from her, which consisted of only one word.

 

Rei Cellwatch

Please…

 

He stared at the messages, not believing what he was seeing. He quickly scanned the time she'd sent them. The first one was dated Tues., 3:04 pm and the second Tues., 5:36 pm. It was now quarter past six. She'd probably sent the first and, thinking he wasn't going to answer; she'd sent the second one. He read, and reread the two messages about thirty times before he put the cellwatch down.

 

He felt torn apart; part of his brain wanted to say no, to ignore her, to make her hurt as she’d hurt him; what could possibly come out of such a conversation? However, the other part of him was genuinely curious. Curious…and secretly pleased she’d reached out. No, no! He cursed himself, remembering that she’d rejected him already—twice--that she had lied to him, and worst of all, she was dating someone else. He would never forgive her for betraying him. Anger filled his veins again.

 

He scoffed and turned the shower on. The cold water was what he needed. He stepped out of his clothes and entered the shower, which immediately relieved his aching muscles. The trickles of water poured down his hair, washing away the sweat and dirt. He closed his eyes and arched his neck upward, letting the water’s soothing effect rain down on his face.

 

What should he write to her? Should he even answer? What was the point of all this?

 

He tilted his head forward and leaned his forehead on the cold white tile, closing his eyes again, trying to focus on what to do.

 

Deep down, he knew he couldn’t say no. Curiosity was winning out; he would agree to meet her, but he reminded himself that there was nothing to expect of her. He promised himself he would simply listen to what she had to say and leave.


***

 

The day after, Rei was the first to reach the diner where Kylo had finally agreed to meet her. It was raining by an emergency measure since the city needed to remove the high levels of toxins in the air and was taking advantage of the natural rain outside the dome. It was therefore pouring cats and dogs; just her luck. She shook her head when she finally reached the entrance of the diner. Droplets of water dripped from her hair onto her coat. She moved to take a seat, as far as possible from the people who were already seated, to have a bit of privacy.

 

The past days were utter torture. She had rarely felt such levels of anguish in her life. She’d run a finger on her cellwatch to call him dozens of times, then chickening out and typing a text message, rewriting it about twenty times before deciding on the words; on what to say, on how to say it. She was a bundle of nerves and little had she known that it would be far worse once she’d sent it. At first, she had felt relieved, but in the absence of any answer back, she’d given in to panic.

 

He didn’t want to see her anymore. Of course, how could she be so foolish to even think he would?

 

Then, she’d looked at the message app and seen he’d received the message, but his viewing function was turned off. She had no way to know if he’d seen it. Maybe she should send something else? Something to convince him? Out of sheer despair, and praying to whatever gods existed on this forsaken earth, she’d just sent the very word he’d told her when she’d left his apartment.

 

Please.

 

The next hour had been even more of a torture since he still didn’t answer and never had she jumped in such a fashion when she heard a ping coming from the device.

 

Now, as she took a seat in the diner, which offered two comfortable wide seats around a table, she checked his messages again, making sure, for the hundredth time, that she hadn’t been dreaming the first time she read it.

 

Kylo

Not sure why. But ok.

 

His tone had been cold and cutting, as she had expected. But the most important thing was that he’d agreed. She’d suggested he come to a diner she had gone to a couple of times, far away from her office and that nobody there knew.

 

A droid waitress came up to offer her the menu; she thanked her, saying she was waiting for someone and reading her tag name which displayed “L3”.

 

She checked the time. It was already 7.10 pm. She was asking herself if he was going to make her wait, as some form of punishment, when she felt a presence and soon saw a black figure out of the corner of her eye.

 

Her eyes immediately snapped up.

 

Kylo was towering over her, a black cowl over his head and a lit cigarette in his lips - how was that possible with such rain? He looked down at her with a sneer on his face; she was about to say something but the intensity of his stare was enough to keep her silent.

 

Never tearing his eyes off her, he bent down and took a seat in front of her; his gloved fingers went to take the cowl off his head, revealing his black locks, from which small drops of rain fell onto his typical coat. He took a deep puff on his cig, exhaling the smoke to the side.

 

Rei observed the deep line between his brows. His jaw was tense. His fists were tight. His body language screamed that he was angry at her. She uncontrollably gulped and fiddled with her hands over her lap. She didn’t know if she was going to be able to say anything if he kept staring at her like this.

 

He scanned her like an x-ray machine before he took the cigarette in his mecho hand. “So what do you want?” he said icily.

 

Rei looked down at her lap and she flattened her pants, even if there were no wrinkles on the fabric. She’d rehearsed what she wanted to say a thousand times in her head, but, in the crucial moment, her brain had decided to take a stroll. Her throat worked and she peered at him.

 

“I-I wanted to apologize,” she managed to stutter, watching for his reaction. If he felt anything, his face kept a neutral expression. “I managed things poorly with you,” she continued.

 

Kylo inhaled a sharp puff - when all of a sudden, the droid waitress came up to them.

 

“Sir, I regret to inform you that it is forbidden to smoke here,” she said in her robot-like voice.

Rei saw Kylo’s frown deepen and his lips twitch.

 

“Well you’re going to have to make an exception.”

 

Oh no, this was definitely not going in the right direction. 

 

Rei intervened. “L3,” she said, glancing at her badge. “Please, could you make an exception? Could you ask your boss?” she pleaded with the droid. She knew how much Kylo liked to smoke, but it was a detail she had forgotten when thinking about this place.

 

Without another word, the droid left them. Kylo’s eyes narrowed at hers; then, he crushed the cig onto a plate on the table, lips curving down.

 

Oh dear. He definitely was not in a good mood.

 

She tried to grab his attention back to the subject. “I was telling you, I realized I made a mistake. I acted poorly with you. And I understand you got the wrong impression at the club. But I was trying to protect you.”

 

He scoffed and bent forward, resting his arms on the table, dark eyes sending darts. “And how exactly were you protecting me by going to a nightclub with another man in a getup that showed off all of your....assets?” he asked sardonically, taking a quick glance at her chest.

 

Rei took a deep breath. She could do this; she could make him see her point. “Listen, I wasn’t on a date with another man. Poe is my boss. We’ve been friends for a couple of years. I believe…Poe has feelings for me. But I don’t have feelings for him,” she said firmly. She saw how his jaw clenched when she uttered her last words. He was about to cut her off again, but she held her ground. “Listen to me. My friends invited me to this club but two of them bailed on me. I-I had been sick the whole week because I caught your virus,” she explained and his throat worked upon hearing that.

 

He took another cigarette out of a package he then threw on the table and brought his two hands to light it. Rei glanced around to see if L3 was around, but she fortunately wasn’t.

 

Seeing he kept silent, she continued. "I was…a bit lost, about everything. I didn't want to go, but they convinced me and finally, I thought that having some time with my friends could make me see things more clearly, so-"

 

“You’re a liar,” he spat all of a sudden. “You never reached back to me after you left my apartment. And you wouldn’t have if we hadn’t met that day.”

 

Her mouth opened but no sound came out for a moment. “No, I mean yes, I know I didn’t reach back. That was…cowardly of me; I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t want to give you false expectations.”

 

She immediately regretted the way those words sounded; Kylo’s eye rounded slightly and then, his brow knitted darkly and his gaze turned feral.

 

“That’s the naked truth, you don’t give a shit about me. You just don’t know how to tell me you don’t care,” he sneered.

 

Rei was seized with panic and outrage. “How can you say that? I texted you to talk to you. I saved your life and nursed you back to health, how can you believe such a thing?”

 

“I told you already. You wanted something from me. Information. To sneak around,” he said, his voice dropping several octaves. 

 

“No, no! I didn’t-I”

 

“So why were you lurking around my apartment? Why did you prevent me from telling the truth to your supposed ‘friend’ about us?”

 

“You don’t understand; Poe is the cleverest policeman I know of. If he ever found out about you, about who and what you are, he would kill you on the spot! I was trying to get him out of there so he wouldn’t connect the dots and retire you!”

 

She didn’t know if it was her mentioning Poe again that triggered him. Whatever it was, Kylo smashed a fist onto the table, making the plates and glasses jump. "That's not it!" His jaw clenched so hard it was quivering. "You're just ashamed of what I am!"

 

That was the precise moment when L3 chose to come back to them.

 

“Sir, I regret to inform you that the boss will not allow any exceptions, if you will please -”

 

It was already too late for Rei to react. Blood curdling, she saw Kylo aim for his laser gun at his belt.

 

“Kylo, NO!”

 

Before she could move or do anything, he shot directly at the droid, decapitating its head on the spot. It fell down with a heavy clunking sound and smoke and sparks came out of its electric wires which tangled wildly.

 

The shot caused mayhem in the diner. Shrieking voices erupted everywhere, chairs screeched on the ground, people ran out screaming. She watched Kylo bolt up with the gun still in his hand with complete dismay on her face. Darkness clouded his gaze; his features were distorted by rage. Without another glance at her, Kylo kicked the droid out of his way, thrusting the gun into his holster again and stormed out of the diner like a small tornado.

 

Although stunned speechless, his attitude and behavior turned Rei’s blood into liquid fire; this time, he was not going to get away with this.

 

She followed him while everybody was in panic. She took her Intelligence Bureau badge out of her pocket at raised it at the people still in the dinning.

 

“I’m from the police! Keep calm, please, and let me through!”

 

She ran outside, pushing the doors open; it was very dark and still pouring rain. She scanned the street and soon spotted his hulking figure on the other sidewalk, walking away quickly with fists tight at his side. She crossed the street, running toward him as he walked under a covered gallery, shielding him from the rain.

 

“What the FUCK is your PROBLEM?!” she roared at him, causing him to stop.

 

She bridged the gap between them as she saw his shoulders slope. He slowly turned to face her; his eyes were gateways into darkness, but she wasn’t going to be deterred. She reached him and grabbed him by his shirt, making his spine bend down.

 

“What is the matter with you, you fucking asshole!” she bellowed again, anger poisoning her veins. She didn’t care about anything anymore. She just needed to yell at him until the truth sank into that thick skull of his.

 

“You want to know what my problem is?” he shouted, holding his face only inches from hers.

 

“Yes!” she shouted back.

 

“I love you. That’s my problem,” he blurted out, his expression dropping in defeat. A bone-weary sorrow danced across his features; drops of rain dotted his face and dripped down his wet hair.

 

Rei’s eyes widened, awe-struck. She instinctively let go of his shirt, taking a step back as her jaw nearly dropped to the floor.

 

No, she hadn’t heard correctly, that was impossible

 

As if he’d read her mind, his throat worked and his lips quivered to confirm what he’d just said. “I love you. And it’s burning me alive. Turning my insides into ashes,” he croaked, eyes free-falling into hers. “Because you’ll never love me back.”

 

The first thing that came to mind was denial. She shook her head. “Androids can’t love, that’s im-”

 

His jaw firmed and his brow twisted. “I don’t give a fuck if they can or not!” he bellowed, “I know what I feel when you lay your impossibly beautiful eyes on me. I know what it is when you’re around me, and my stomach churns, and my heart pounds so fast I think it will burst out of my chest. I know how much I want you, how much I desire you, and it’s driving me mad! But I want so much more. Your touch, your embrace, your skin, to feel what it is to feel alive inside, to feel what the word happiness means. You made me want to live when I’d decided it was better to die than to continue, alone, in this miserable life.”

 

Something coiled in Rei’s guts upon hearing him, echoing her own feelings, but she was so stunned she couldn’t speak.

 

He bit his lips, eyes watering, struggling to continue. His fists trembled now as if anger came back like a monster from the shadows. “But you’re just toying with me…” he said lowly, “You’re using me like a puppet!”

 

Rei shook her head as she felt pressure building behind her irises. “No, that’s not true, you know it’s not -”

 

“Yes you are! Because of what I am, I disgust you!” he spat, sadness and anger mixing in his cold tone.

 

She blinked and tasted salty water. Her head moved to the sides again. “No, I’m not ashamed of you, it’s more complicated than that, I-”

 

“When what is it?!” he yelled.

 

“I have other grudges against you,” she whispered, refusing to confess.

 

“Then tell me the truth!” he barked.

 

There was a beat of silence between them as she gaped at him.

 

All of a sudden, thunder erupted from outside the dome, tearing apart the skies with white lightning. A storm was raging, as if their emotions had materialized in the physical elements. The rain inside the dome crashed on the ground stronger than ever, and, unexpectedly, an electric cable behind them broke and whipped, sending sparks of electric light flying all around them, mixing together with the rain.

 

Both stared at the unnatural phenomenon before Kylo turned back to face her.

 

“Say it,” he continued with a threatening tone, “Say it!”

 

Rei closed her eyes, feeling fresh tears drop on her skin, mixing with the raindrops, before she lifted her gaze to his again. Her own anger at him got the best of her; he was giving her no option but to confess the terrible, devastating truth. “You killed my master!” she cried out, breathe hitching in pain. 

 

Despite the surrounding darkness, the little color on Kylo’s face vanished. He recoiled, his lips parting in shock as if the words she’d spoken had been a physical slap in his face.

 

Rei’s body was shaking uncontrollably. She chewed on her lower lip, attempting to control the ache in her heart.

 

“That day…when we first met, when we fought. You fired on a man. That man was my master, his name was Lor San Tekka and he was a father to me. A father who gave a meaning to my life, who taught me martial arts, who gave me my job,” she explained between angry tears as the dam broke inside her at last, “He died in my arms and I couldn’t do anything! You took him from me!”

 

She saw Kylo’s throat work and his skin turn even more ashen as he stared at her.  

 

“How,” she tried to continue but had to breathe in sharply, “How do you want me to give myself to the man who killed the only person I called family? To a man dominated by his anger, whose jealousy makes him punch my friend to unconsciousness?” she accused from a dark place inside her, shaking her head slightly and sniffing. “How can I go your way? You go down a path I cannot follow.”

 

His eyebrow pinched in the middle in pain, his jaw firmed; despair clouded his face like she’d never seen before as the awful truth sank in and he finally, finally understood everything.

 

His breath was shaking as he took a silent step toward her, making her chin lift up to meet his eyes, which had turned into wells of sorrow. He seemed to hesitate. Her own breath hitched when he neared his pale face to hers - her gaze flickered to his parted pink lips and she was certain he wanted to kiss her. She found that if he did, and against every shred of reason, she wouldn’t stop him. Confessing the truth had emptied her insides and taken everything from her; seeing the agony on his face as he was reminded of his crimes was too much to bear for her thudding heart.

 

But against all odds - he changed his mind.

 

His lips closed as he sank his gaze into hers; behind his dark irises, silent words were spoken, as if they were pleading for something.

 

“Forgive me,” he whispered, “for ever thinking you could love a monster like me.” The sinking tendrils of self-loathing tore his words like carved wounds in his skin and her stomach churned even more.

 

He stared at her a split-second more, before he turned around, casting her a last glance, and just left.

 

She stood there, rooted to the spot, watching him walk away in the rain with his heavy gait. She had a moment to contemplate calling out for him. But, strangely, she knew he wouldn’t listen nor deviate his pace, and she was so lost and confused that she simply let him go. He had to process what she’d revealed; she had to process his bleeding heart’s confession.

 

Head spinning and unable to stand on her own legs, she scooted herself near the wall and leaned on it as the rain seemed to harden; a sudden cry came surging like a wave from a deep spot in her chest and her tears washed her face as the rain washed the streets of the dark city.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

His silhouette emerged, dark against the fading daylight; tall, broad and massive, engulfing her small frame over his bed sheets. The sensation of heat and cold pricked her skin as his mechanical hand moved under her shirt, finding her breasts, while his organic fingers slid into her panties, in search of her folds.

 

She couldn’t move, and she found she didn’t want to. She laid motionless, eyes sinking into his dark gaze as he grabbed her hips and pushed her deeper into the mattress, settling between her thighs. He found her neck with his tongue, causing heat to coil down - and an animalistic urge for him to fill her invaded her. She bucked her hips against his hardness, aware of how she was causing him to swell in his pants. He rubbed himself against her core and she moaned at the sensation and how the contact sent a shiver down her spine…

 

Please, please…

 

I need you…

 

At that precise moment, C3PO chose to enter her room. "Master Rei! Time to wake up!"

 

She bolted upward with a cry - which resembled more of a moan - and groaned out loud when she realized it was only a dream…

 

Oh God. Fuck.

 

“C3, just give me twenty more minutes,” she growled, nauseous with frustration, causing the robot servant to mumble on how humans never know what they wanted. He closed the door, granting her privacy again.

 

Her head hit the pillow with an exasperated sigh. She didn’t know what was more frustrating: the fact that C3 had woken her up at the worst moment, or the fact that she didn’t want to wake up from that dream. The ache between her legs was a testimony of how much she wanted it to happen.

 

How much she wanted him.

 

She shut her eyes and swallowed, realizing exactly where her trail of thoughts was leading her.

 

How could she continue to deny it? She was only running from herself, shielding how much she’d desired him for so long. She was scared to think of how much he wanted her.

 

I know how much I want you, how much I desire you, and it’s driving me mad…

 

I love you. That’s my problem…

 

She couldn’t recover from the agony on his face; his obsidian orbs, always so alive, so vibrant had turned dull and empty upon hearing her confession about her master. Nothing had torn her heart apart like taking his despair in, not even his childlike wailing when she’d left him in his apartment.

 

But, in spite of everything, in spite of her stabbing his heart, he’d still wanted to kiss her. And she’d wanted it too. At first, she’d thought they were caught in the moment - a weakness on her behalf, because of the exhaustion she’d felt upon confessing the horrid truth to him. 

 

But now, feeling her pussy soaking her sleepwear, there was no way to deny it.

 

It was there, solid and clear, like knowing the sun would rise in the morning and settle at night.

 

She wanted him.

 

And she had another problem. She desperately needed to relieve the ache in her panties now - or she was going either to scream or drown in her lust. Her fingers crawled down her belly, and when she touched her swollen, wet folds, she released a cry of relief. Her middle finger circled her needy clit, sending a soothing sensation as her mind drifted to how she'd wanted that dream to end. She imagined him, rubbing herself on his erection, unzipping his pants, revealing how his hard cock would look like - although her only references were a couple of porn vids she'd dared to watch in her most lonely hours.

 

She saw him, dwarfing her body with his massive form as he’d thrust into her, relieving the terrible emptiness inside. She pictured how his face would look under the weight of his pleasure - how he would like it, how his hips would hit hers. She hurried the rubbing over her bud at the thought. She was surprised at how fast the wave of pleasure mounted, how only imagining him filling her made her head dizzy. The way his face would contort with pleasure brought her to a hard climax; she stifled a whimper by clapping another hand over her mouth. Her pussy moved in spasms with the intensity of her orgasm and she breathed in sharply. When she dared to release her breath, it was shaking; a tear made its way from her eye.

 

She swallowed, closed her eyelids and tasted salty water. Despite the relief, the emptiness in her bed and inside her hadn’t receded.

 

Sadness invaded her chest, for the simple reason that she didn’t know how to make the void inside her go away; her heart felt like lead as she remembered their fight. His silhouette, vanishing in the rain…

 

Was it only lust she felt for him? Was it the memory of his kiss and his tongue on her neck that made her insides burn like no one had ever achieved before? Or was it something more? How could she know for sure?

 

The questions felt like a long, impossible maze, the walls trapping her inexorably inside, making her their prisoner; there was no light to show her the exit, no way to show her the way out of the darkness of her confusion. 

 

She only knew it was going to be a sorrowful and lonely day.

                                                          

 

***

 

 

Kylo hadn't known he could sink this low. He hadn't closed his eyes since their fight since he'd come home drenched by the rain. Shivering with cold, he'd discarded his clothes, staying into his briefs as he crashed into an armchair, lighting himself a cig.

 

His despair was so intense that even Millicent refused to come near him when he called her. She was probably frightened of him. Just like everyone else.

 

Never had he felt so abandoned; never had he felt the weight of solitude and loneliness crush him so intensely. His heart had felt so constricted he thought it was going to stop. Air failed to fill his lungs and he had struggled to breathe.

 

He’d only gotten up to fetch some hard liquor he’d kept - and after several hours, he’d emptied his entire cigarette package and was completely drunk.

 

Now he was folded into himself, he gripped his hair into his hands, pulling and yanking at it as his eyes clenched shut with pain.

 

It couldn’t be true - it couldn’t.

 

How could he have killed the very man who was family to her? Everything now fell in place, clicking in his head. It was the reason why she’d pushed him away, why she’d run far from him, why she’d rejected him time and again. It was a miracle she’d cared for him enough to save his life. But now, he knew. He could never have her. She would never return his love. How could she? He was a monster. A murderer. A wretched, inhuman creature.

 

Thick tears ran down his face uncontrollably as the alcohol and his dark thoughts took him along a dangerous, deadly path.

 

Never had he hated himself this way. He felt so empty, so useless. Self-loathing carved wounds like a crown of thorns over his head, the poisonous brambles digging into his soul, making him bleed inside like he’d never experienced before.

 

He could never forgive himself. Never.

 

The gates of darkness opened in his soul and the crawling fingers of shadows pulled him down. There was no more light; the last spark of hope had died with her revelation. There was only the black, terrifying specter of darkness.

 

As his blurred vision focused a bit, it drifted to the discarded gun on his desk before the window, emerging in the foggy lights of the nearing dawn.

 

His throat worked at the sight of the weapon he’d killed so many people with.

 

When he looked down at his hands - his eyes rounded; they were bloodied, crimson, and it felt like they were burning. He gulped again and tasted iron in his mouth.

 

His entire body shivered when he read the black inscription he’d inked into his skin.

 

No God. No Law. Death.

 

He knew there were no Gods in this world, even less so for androids. Death was the only truth. He’d known this before, and now, the crude reality was tearing him apart. For a few shining moments he’d dared to hope and now the depths of his sins called for him so enticingly. His cry ripped through the room’s silence as he rose his hands to his face.

 

He was alone. Nobody could save his soul, nor wash the blood off his hands. Rei would never love him. How could she?

 

He sobbed harder, and the salty liquid slipped through his fingers, dipping on his thighs. The pain was too intense; he was lost in agony and he just couldn’t bear it.

 

A resolution finally drew a solid shape in his mind. He only hoped he would have the strength to do it.

 

But there was one thing he needed to do before putting an end to this endless pain. One more thing, before the insufferable torture of this existence pushed him past the frontiers of this cruel and miserable world.

 

***

 

 

“Poe, I saved your life! Will you just - will you please let me explain?” she pleaded to her boss with creased eyebrows.

 

“Rei - what explanation? You should have arrested that man!” roared an exasperated Poe.

 

The moment he’d stepped into the office on Friday, after he’d taken a few days off to recover, Rei knew she was going to get it. The line between his eyebrows was so sharp, it augured a hurricane. Her boss had walked up to her as she peered sheepishly at him, and asked in the coldest tone for her to come into his office at once.

 

She’d closed his office door shakenly behind her, rehearsing in her head for the billionth time what she had prepared. But he hadn’t let her talk - instead, he’d unleashed all his anger onto her, scolding her for not arresting the man, asking who he was before yelling at her again that she’d failed at her first mission which was being a fucking cop.

 

“I couldn’t arrest him! He’s my main informant on the Reflectio Virus case! He-”

 

Who is he? And why was he talking about you like that? Like he knew you, like he wanted you? Why did he beat the shit out of me?”

 

Desperation at the situation was overcoming her. But all of a sudden, Rei remembered the first lesson Lor had taught her: when in a tricky situation, breathe.

 

Breathe.

 

She closed her eyes and took air deeply into her lungs, releasing it slowly, while she felt Poe fume and boil before her.

 

“I don’t know his real name. I only have a codename,” she said, steadying herself before getting to the real problem behind Poe’s behavior. “Listen Poe. You’re my friend. You’re my boss. I appreciate and admire you deeply. But I cannot and will never return your feelings,” she blurted out.

 

She had time to take in how his expression crumbled. He stared at her in shock, before she continued, this time calmly. “I wanted to make that clear, before anything, because you are mixing up work and personal issues. Am I wrong?” she ventured.

 

He bit his lips in bitter disappointment, peering down at his desk. “No, you’re right. I’m sorry. I-I lacked professionalism in every way recently,” his gaze rose to hers again, and she could read how the truth affected him. “It’s just- you, you’re so -”

 

“Poe, please don’t apologize, please,” she begged him. The last thing she needed right now was another full-fledged love confession. “Let’s leave it there. I wanted to be honest with you.”

 

He nodded while his adam’s apple worked, giving Rei the perfect opportunity to convince him. “Listen Poe, this guy, he’s important. I’ve discovered something. I was waiting to talk to Leia about it, but you give me no choice but to tell you now, so you’ll understand.”

 

Her boss raised an eyebrow, curiosity getting the better of him. “What did you discover?”

 

“Poe, it’s Snoke. Snoke! The Supreme Leader is behind the Reflectio Virus. He’s this guy’s boss. Snoke is linked to the Starkiller Corporation, he’s been pulling the strings of all this in the shadows and they are forging other viruses, real human viruses, recycling pre-apocalypse deadly ones!” she confessed, eagerness flowing through her words at her own discovery.

 

Poe’s jaw hit the floor. The grim expression on his face changed to excitement upon hearing her. “Snoke! My God, are you sure? This…this explains everything! So he’s the one who created the virus! This is insane!”

 

Rei was delighted to see she’d hit a home run and diverted his attention from Kylo. “Yes, yes, I know. And I’m on the verge of discovering more information. Something that will be crucial, I need time.”

 

“We need to contact Leia. This is just --massive! But wait a sec. The virus…did-was your disease…?” his voice trailed off.

 

She was shocked to see how acute his sixth sense was. “Yes. Investigating the case, I caught one. Luckily, Maz found a cure. She really saved me,” Rei answered truthfully, although she almost blushes when she recalled exactly how she’d caught it.

 

Poe walked around from behind the desk, bridging the gap between them. She noticed how he wanted to raise his hands to her, but, fortunately, he stopped himself. “Rei, be careful. That man - you saw what he did to me. He’s dangerous. All this is dangerous.”

 

“I-I know,” Rei stuttered, her voice much weaker than she willed it. “But it’s my only lead. And it has been so fruitful,” she said, trying to come back to professional reasons.

 

Poe scanned her face for seconds, which stretched to eternity. “When did you last see him? That informant,” he asked with a hint of disapproval.

 

"Before I caught the disease. He led me to discover it," she lied without thinking. He couldn't know she'd seen him only two nights ago, or it would raise his suspicions again.

 

Poe observed her as he tried to keep a neutral expression, but Rei could sense his wariness.

 

“He has feelings for you,” he said bluntly. Rei noted it was not a question but a solid affirmation.

 

Shit.

 

She focused all her energy on avoiding her cheeks turning pink and remaining serious. She had to, or Poe would immediately understand that something had gone on between her and Kylo. She racked her brains to find a suitable answer, when her mind suddenly lit with an idea. “I know of course,” she said, raising her chin, shifting her weight to her left leg and putting a hand on her waist. “And you know very well, as I do, that men can be easily persuaded to give information when they have a woman in their sights,” she said tactically, letting the implications of her words speak for themselves. 

 

That made him raise an eyebrow and his gaze turned cold. “I hadn’t realized that was your strategy,” he said, glancing at her with a glint of…something she couldn’t decipher.

 

She tried to put a serious, professional face. “Are you judging me for this?”

 

His face softened a bit. “No, I didn’t mean to...you’re a terrific agent. Congratulations on that discovery. We need to set a meeting with Leia urgently,” he said with a renewed professional tone and Rei was relieved to see he’d believed her.

 

“I contacted her, and she was sick. In the meantime, I will focus on unraveling the other mystery I’m on now. This could be how we save this City.”

 

“Go back to work then; what are you still doing here?” Poe scolded without ire, turning back to focus on his desk.

 

Rei aimed for the door, all too happy to get away from this conversation, before Poe called again when she was about to close the door. 


“Oh and Rei. I’m sorry. For my behavior. Please know that it won’t happen again.”

 

She blinked at his excuse at first, but then nodded gratefully. “Thank you. And I’m sorry too,” she said, escaping his office as quickly as she could, breathing in and out sharply as she went to her office.

 

She’d done it. She’d convinced him and saved Kylo. She couldn’t fathom how he’d believed she was basically using her charms to get information out of Kylo. But it had been the perfect excuse. She pushed away the sharp pang of guilt quickly. And now, she needed to get back to work and focus on how she was going to find her way out of the labyrinth with that special informant of hers.

 

 

When she slipped through the door of her apartment that night, exhausted by the day’s work, the last thing she had expected was for C3PO to quite literally jump on her.

 

“Master Rei! Finally, you are here!”

 

She offered her protocol droid a quizzical glance. “What is it, Three-peo?”

 

“Master, a package has arrived for you!”

 

She frowned deeply. “What ? Where?” she asked, eagerness taking the best of her. Her mind immediately shifted to Kylo. Was it -

 

C3 came back with a package wrapped in a synthetic fabric. “A delivery boy brought it in the afternoon!”

 

Rei knew, even before she opened it, who it came from. His smell was all around the parcel. Never had she opened something as quickly as she did now, tearing the wrapping apart. It revealed another box, exactly the same as the previous one he’d sent the iris in.

 

She opened it and blinked. There was a single paper envelope inside the box. Breath hitching, her hands plunged into the box to grab it carefully, before she turned it around, revealing black ink with “Rei” hand-written on it.

 

“Is that a letter?” inquired C3 in awe.

 

A letter. He’d written her a letter.

 

A real letter, not an electronic, paperless one. Would this man ever cease to amaze her? Her hands quivered as she ran into her room and closed the door behind her, giving her much needed privacy. C3 was tactful enough not to ask any questions through the door as she ripped open the envelope, retrieving several pieces of folded paper. She was shaking so much, and her heart was thundering so powerfully she thought she was going to faint. She unfolded the two pieces of paper, revealing the most beautiful black hand-writing.

 

Rei,

 

I dare to hope this letter will find your hands and that your heart will not hate me too much to read it. I write not to speak of my own feelings toward you; they were made crystal clear, as was your answer.

 

I wish to explain my version of what happened on that awful night. My only hope is that it will alleviate some of the pain I’ve caused you.

 

The day we met, you pursued me with two companions into that old, decrepit building. I knew you were trying to capture or kill me. I have been trained, brutally, to feel nothing when I pull the trigger. To kill before being killed and to avoid capture at all costs. My Master forced me to kill to prove myself and if I didn’t comply with his orders, I was tortured to the brink of madness. For so long, I felt nothing in my heart. I was made a cold killing machine, yet you awoke something inside me that night that had always been there.

 

When I saw you through the visor of my mask, you caught my immediate attention; as a magnet, I was drawn to you from the very second I saw you. I needed to escape and I knew wanted to spare you because I saw you carried a sword that matched mine and my curiosity was piqued. But you were on my trail and it was three against one. I used a tactic to trick you into thinking I was somewhere else in the room, so I could get to you faster than you could get to me.

 

Your Master was tall and his neck was uncovered, making him the easier shot. I killed your Master not because I wanted or was ordered to, but because I was trapped, and trained to do only one thing in that situation. I know I have caused you immense pain, but, please, I beg you to believe I didn’t do it on purpose and that I derived no pleasure from it. Now, knowing of the importance of the person who met that fatal shot, I wish I had been the one to die and not your beloved Master.

 

In my ignorance, I cherished that day, because I met you: my equal. But now, everything has faded into darkness with your confession and there are no words to express how sorry I am.

 

One last thing. When your mask came off, I remembered you, your eyes. I still don’t know where those memories are from, but I know I recognized you. They are maybe someone else’s memories, but they nonetheless tormented me day and night. That is why I followed you and until this day, your hazel eyes have never left my heart.

 

I will carry those eyes with me until I cross the threshold of this world. 

 

Kylo.

 

Rei struggled to read and re-read the letter through watery eyes, and she had to wipe her cheeks a couple of times to avoid tears falling on the ink. Her lungs were tight - she could hardly breathe. She read his words again and again before she fell down on her back into her sheets, with her mind like a raging storm, holding the pieces of inked papers over her heart. Something fierce stirred in her chest, carving a cavity there.

 

A choked sob threatened to escape her lips as she realized the depth of her mistake.

 

His words had finally made the seeds of doubts nestled into her heart grow. They had laid there since the day Lor died in her arms, and now, they sprouted their leaves. She had pointedly refused to see this truth until now, shielding the chains of the memories in a corner of her mind.

 

He had only been defending himself. They were the ones who had attacked him. It wasn’t murder; it was self-defense.

 

The guilt she'd held for so long in a cage by harboring feelings for Kylo despite what he had done was finally set free. She felt the wings of relief surge from a deep place inside her and a liberating wave washed over her features. However, it was soon replaced by a terrifying feeling of another type of guilt when she realized she’d been unfair to Kylo, thinking he had murdered Lor of his own free will. The loss of her father figure had blinded her from seeing the power of Kylo’s feelings for her, causing him agonizing pain.

 

She rose the papers again to read his last line.

 

I will carry those eyes with me until I cross the threshold of this world. 

 

What had he meant by this? She didn’t understand what unspoken words were underlined, but she didn’t like the sound of them at all.

 

A chill went down her spine. What should she do? Should she go to him? At this hour? Or should she write him back?

 

Yes, that sounded like a good idea. She didn’t know how to hand-write, but she would type her answer and send her letter by cellwatch as an attachment.

 

She rose from her bed decidedly toward her computer. She didn’t want to simply send a short message - she needed to voice out how sorry she was for her mistake. He deserved as much. Deep down, she hoped this would make a difference between them. Start making things right again.

 

She sat at her desk, opened her computer and soon the blue holo screen appeared in front of her. Despite it being so late already, she started to type.

 

 

*

 

 

Kylo checked one last time that she had received the package on his holo-screen. The reception hour appeared on the top: 3:45 pm. It was now 2:30 am. Almost twelve hours had passed and he knew she'd read it.

 

As he’d suspected, she hadn’t reached back to him - confirming his suspicion that, in spite of his explanations, she didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore.

 

His throat worked in the darkness of his home. Only a dim light illuminated his face as he sat at his desk. He ran a hand over his swollen, red eyes. He practically hadn’t slept since they’d fought - despite his exhaustion, the hurt in his chest didn’t let him drift to sleep.

 

His despair had transformed into a venomous seed that germinated in the soil of his heart. He eyed the discarded gun next to him, laying in the middle of papers, ink, and pens as well as drafts of the letter he’d written her.

 

He gulped again, resolve surging from a dark place in his soul.

 

He knew he’d prepared everything. After having turned Joi on again, he had ordered her to take care of the plants and Millicent until Rei came to pick them up. He’d asked her to send her a precise message over his cellwatch tomorrow - causing Joi to arch an eyebrow, but she’d stayed silent and only nodded at his orders. Last but not least, he had commanded her to leave him alone and not bother him.

 

---

 

Rei had drifted to sleep over her computer, unable to finish the letter, succumbing to her exhaustion. Her breathing, which had been even, started to pick up under the images she was experiencing in her dreams.

 

The night had called her back to Kylo...

 

She was standing in his apartment, walking in the corridor she'd once fled. She turned into his living room and saw him seated at his desk, in the middle of the beautiful green plants. She couldn't see his face for she was standing behind him. A dim light illuminated his hair. She wanted to reach for him - but she found she couldn't. He was shirtless and she could see his muscles flex when he reached for something over his desk.

 

Blood curling in her veins, she watched with dismay as she saw he had grabbed his laser gun.

 

No…no…

 

---

 

Kylo eyed his weapon, sweating profusely as his mecho gloved hand shook uncontrollably. His lips pressed together, his jaw firmed, his body stiffened.

 

He knew what he had to do.

 

---

 

She helplessly saw him remove the safety of the weapon, before he slowly took aim for his temple, on the side where his hair was shaved.

 

Realizing in utter horror what he was about to do, she launched forward to stop him and screamed -

 

“KYLO, NOOOO!!!”

 

---

 

He heard the shot leave the gun and saw crimson blood before his sight.

 

---

 

A soundless scream echoed in her head as she saw red blood gush from his head and his body collapse with a loud thumping sound onto the floor.

 

She yelled in terror.

 

---

 

Millicent had just jumped over his desk, scaring the living hell out of him, causing the gun to shoot upward and miss.

 

--

 

Rei’s piercing cry of anguish ripped the silence of her room as she jerked awake. Panic and alarm seized her chest; she tried to catch her breath from the nightmare. It was as if an arrow had just pierced her heart.

 

Kylo had just killed himself. She was certain of it. It wasn’t just a dream - she knew this had happened!

 

No, no! Don’t tell me…don’t tell me this is true…Please someone tell me it’s not true! She pulled her hair, taking her head in her hands, shaking it in anguish as tears formed in her eyes. 

 

---

 

There was blood everywhere. A sharp pain emanated from the laser’s impact on his skull; his whole desk and face were dotted with drops of crimson blood. 

 

He sharply exhaled the air he’d kept in his lung as he was about to pull the trigger - his breath hitched when he understood what had just happened. His heart collided with his ribcage furiously, his entire body was trembling.

 

Millicent was watching him with her huge round eyes, and rubbed herself against his mecho-arm, with her tail curling and coiling around his limb.

 

His eyes traveled to the weapon still in his hand - and he realized in shock what he had just done. He'd just attempted to take his life - but Milly had saved him from doing it.

 

The gun dropped from his hand onto the floor, before he grabbed Millicent with both arms, holding the precious animal close to him; he broke into a desperate sob as he held his cat, who purred wildly against his naked chest.

 

---

 

She couldn’t survive if he’d done such a thing. No, no, it was impossible, please, help, someone help.

 

With quivering fingers, she immediately tried to call him. She dialed his number on her cellwatch and prayed he’d answer.

 

The ringtone met with nothingness, throwing her into a panic attack.

 

---

 

“I’m sorry Milly, I’m sorry!” he cried through thick tears, nestling his nose in the cat’s ginger fur.

 

How could he have been so stupid to think she didn’t need him? His faithful companion, the animal he’d risked his own life to save. Someone needed him in this desolated world. He needed to take care of the plants, he needed to keep Snoke away from them - he had a purpose. He had to live.

 

A voice echoed behind him. “Kylo, what the hell happened?”

 

Still holding Millicent in his arms, Kylo veered toward Joi, who was looking at him with wide, terrorized eyes.

 

She had appeared despite his orders to leave him alone, probably hearing the blaster shot and his wailing. Her eyes darted to the gun he’d dropped on the floor and flickered back to his bleeding head.

 

He didn’t have time to explain. “Did-did you just try to kill yourself?” she accused with a frown on her pretty face.

 

---

 

Without thinking, without even looking at the hour, Rei grabbed her keys which she shoved into her pocket frantically and raced out of her apartment after taking her hoverboard, without paying attention to C3PO who asked millions of question as he saw his master storm out of the apartment at the speed of light at this time of the night.

 

She was going to his place - everything be damned. 

 

Please, Kylo, please…!

 

In the middle of the street, she turned on the hoverboard with a flick of her hand. The engine came to life and she immediately whipped upward, vanishing into the darkness of the city. She pushed the hoverboard to full speed, the motors roaring under her, a full pink flame streaking in the skies behind the board. She adjusted her lenses against the cold and the small drops of rain which were still falling from the skies.

 

As she zoomed between the imposing skyscrapers of Coruscant, she remembered his last words inked on his letter.

 

I will carry those eyes with me until I cross the threshold of this world. 

 

Everything fell into place. What he’d meant was he was going to commit suicide. How could she have missed it? How could she ever forgive herself?

 

She shook her head, holding back her tears, biting her lips.

 

Now she had the answer to her question.

 

It wasn’t only lust. It wasn’t only something physical.

 

She loved him.

 

The sole thought of him not being part of this world anymore was unbearable. She didn’t know if she could survive without him. For the first time in her life, she found herself praying…if there was a God somewhere in this forsaken, dark world…

 

Please hear me, I’ll do anything, please…

 

She nearly crashed a couple of times into hovercars because of her daring speed, but she didn’t give a fuck. She desperately needed to get to him as quickly as possible, even if she dreaded what she would find in his apartment.

 

At last, she flew over his building and landed right in front of the entrance - there was no one in sight. The building was almost entirely dark, for everyone was sleeping at this hour of the night. 

 

She took her board into her hands and raced up the stairs, directly to the elevator - before realizing in horror it was out of service.

 

Fuck!

 

She took the stairs instead, jumping several steps at a time, painfully climbing the twenty-bloody-eight levels, reaching the last utterly out of breath. Her steps were slow and dizzy, sweat dripping down her face, but she was there, at last.

 

She rang on Kylo’s doorbell several times in a row and banged the door, calling out for him.

 

“Kylo! Open that door! Joi, please open!” she yelled between two intakes of air.

 

She was so busy bashing the innocent door that she nearly tipped over when it suddenly slid open.

 

Their eyes immediately locked.

 

“K-Kylo…,” she breathed out, air failing her lungs completely. There was no way to describe the wave of relief as she took his appearance in.

 

He was alive.

 

His face was hit with shock upon seeing her. His obsidian eyes sank into hers while she panted and struggled for air, leaning over herself with her hands around her thighs. She noticed his hair was wet and the whiffs of soap and conditioner filled her nose. He was dressed with a simple white tank top, showing his muscular frame and mecho limb, with black sweatpants. Had he just come out of the shower?

 

“Rei…” he whispered, still recovering from surprise. “A-are you all right?”

 

“Yeah,” she mumbled, finding herself utterly stupid now. What would he think of her banging on his door at this impossible hour of the night?

 

“Come inside, it’s cold,” he offered tentatively, stepping aside to let her come in.

 

She was still recovering from her insane twenty-eight story climb but she obeyed; she stepped inside as he slid the door closed, turning to face her while she leaned against the wall and looked at him, panting hard and still not believing he was in one piece.

 

With heavy steps, he neared her, causing her chin to move upward to follow his eyes. Dark circles had carved under his sad stare, his lack of sleep evident. She pressed her lips together, suddenly speechless as he observed her with awe and incomprehension. He clearly couldn’t believe she was there. Her mouth moved to speak, but nothing came out of her lips.

 

“What happened?” he finally asked, as she kept silent.

 

“I-I…I had a nightmare,” she replied. No more lies. She wanted him to know the truth. “I dreamt you…that you committed suicide,” she said, voice dropping low.

 

She hadn’t expected his reaction. A deep frown formed on his face and he practically recoiled from her with his mouth open in disbelief. “How…” he muted while his whole body turned tense and his stare, sorrowful and...wary; his eyelashes moved a couple of time, as if he were looking for an explanation, before he ran a hand in his hair - wait, was that a wound on his skull?

 

“Wh-what’s that on your head?” she blurted, lifting herself on the balls of her feet to take a better look at it.

 

However, he shifted his head to the other side, looking embarrassed. “It-it’s nothing…”

 

But it wasn’t nothing. She could tell, by the tone of his voice and his avoiding gaze. Something wasn’t right. Had he - ?

 

“Let me see,” she insisted, grabbing his jaw with two hands and forcing his head to tilt to the right side. He let her touch him with sheepish eyes, as he looked at the floor. She observed the wound; it was fresh and glistening red.

 

Only a laser gun could have -

 

And then, it hit her hard. She stared at him, shaking her head in horror.

 

“K-Kylo, did - did you try to kill yourself? Give me an honest answer,” she insisted, voice firm with command, eyebrow knitting into a frown.

 

He peered at her, head falling slightly and there it was, the familiar stab of his lonely stare hitting her chest. His eye twitched nervously and he pursed his lips. The stiffness in his body didn’t ease as his hesitation only confirmed her suspicions.

 

“Yes, I did,” he finally croaked, voice dropping eight octaves. “Milly jumped on the desk. She scared me. The shot deviated and grazed my head instead.”

 

Upon hearing him, she was certain her heart was about to shatter into a million pieces. Suddenly, she was furious at him. Furious he could give in to such horrible thoughts. Quite against her will, she grabbed the edge of his shirt with both hands, catching his full attention, pulling him down toward her. She didn’t know her anxiety could turn this vivid, tearing her insides apart as if someone had pulled her guts out and turned them into knots. 

 

Her eyes watered without her wanting them to. She shook her head, her gaze burning into his.

 

“You-you can't do that!” she shrieked at the top of her lungs. “You can’t take your life, do you hear me!” she yelled at him and punched his solid chest with her fist - which didn’t make him move an inch - before breaking into a grief-stricken sob. She blinked and tears found their way down her cheeks while she inhaled, nostrils flaring. “You can’t - I forbid you!!”

 

He stared at her, at a loss for anything to answer. He let her hit him with all her might again before she buried her nose into his shirt and sobbed, wailed and coughed her fright out.

 

After a short moment, she felt his broad arms wrap firmly around her back; his gloved hand pressed her head into his chest. She felt his thundering heart - the sound of it so vibrant and warm. Feeling him again like this, feeling him alive unleashed something inside her; her nerves finally came to a breaking point and she cried all the tears out of her body.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I’m sorry I hurt you!” she cried out into his shirt, the salty water dampening the fabric which felt wet under her cheek.

 

She felt his throat work before his deep bass made his torso vibrate. “I’m sorry too, for everything…I thought, I thought you were never coming back…” his voice trailed off, but she felt that his heartbeat kept hammering.

 

Inhaling sharply, she tore her face away from him, red, puffy eyes meeting his mournful ones.

 

“No, it’s my fault! I didn’t see, I was so blind! It wasn’t your fault!” she cried out, sobbing even harder, hiccupping between words. “I-I don’t care if you’re different. I don’t care if you’re an andy, I don’t care! You’re more human than anybody I know! Look at this place, just look!” she entreated, gesturing at the plants, the books, the papers on his desk. “Your home is like your heart! Your feelings are human - I don’t care if you were made by some crazy mad inventors who tortured you and made you a killing machine. You are not! I don’t want you to die! Please!” she cried with renewed despair.

 

She’d never seen his eyes round so much. He was stunned speechless, gazing at her wildly as she cried helplessly, attempting to wipe her tears with her palms.

 

Hesitantly, both his trembling hands moved to cup her jaw. His eyes free-fell into hers, as if he didn't believe what was happening or what she'd just said. She saw a spark of hope lit them again to life.

 

“C-can I kiss you?” he asked hesitantly.

 

“Please,” she begged breathlessly, sniffing. 

 

Please kiss me, please kiss me and never release me again.

 

Bending down, he brought his lips close, brushing hers lightly before he caught them between his soft ones. She felt his kiss was timid and shy, his plush mouth opening slowly and seeking her tongue with a tinge of relief. She carded her hands through his hair, as he lowered his hands from her face to find her waist, pulling her toward him. She felt the waves of his soft, damp hair slip through her fingers; she drew his face closer as their tongues rolled together in perfect harmony. He soon tilted his head to the side to better taste her, while a low moan escaped from the back of his throat. 

 

Without realizing, he was pushing her backward, caging her against the wall and her head and spine connected with the cold structure. His mouth never released hers and she could feel his passion bubble to the surface of his lips when he deepened the kiss, pushing her head against the wall, kissing her senseless.

 

Heat pooled between her legs and she moaned under the marvelous feeling of his hands caressing her and his warm body pressed against hers, dwarfing her frame. She suddenly felt his hardness brush against her lower stomach, sending chills down her spine.

 

She wanted this. She was done lying to herself.

 

When he unexpectedly broke the kiss, she groaned at the loss of his mouth. Their eyelashes fluttered open. He looked at her through hooded eyelids with renewed ardor, while he caught his breath and his cheeks turned pink. He bit his lips, as if he was feeling shy about something.

 

She understood his embarrassment when she dared to peer down and unmistakably, a prominent bulge now adorned his pants.

 

Daringly, her hand raised to it and she cupped his cock through the fabric with her fingers. Fuck, he was so hard.

 

Not quite believing what she’d just done, his wide eyes burned into hers with expectation and his lips quivered before he spoke. She could feel his hunger as the small flame of lust danced in his eyes. Oh, how she’d wanted to see that flame again.

 

Please, I-I…” he stuttered, voice shaking with need. 

 

“Take me,” was the last thing she heard herself whimper before his lips crushed against hers and she surrendered to him, in every possible meaning of the word.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

She might never recover from the way his hot mouth took her own, his rough kiss mingled with unspoken craving. He yanked her jacket off her shoulders with a sharp tug, throwing it to the ground before he clawed his hands at the back of her shirt, pulling her toward him, possessiveness oozing from his firm grasp. She could feel his mechanical hand dig into her skin under his glove, and she was incapable of restraining her whimpers when his tongue pushed and scrapped and suckled, his kiss an attack on her lips and on her senses.

 

Weeks of restraint, denial and pent-up need broke free from the dam, the furious waters devastating everything on their path.

 

She threw both hands into his black mane frantically, fingers stroking his skull, rustling in his hair but no, she needed to touch his skin-anything  to feel him alive against her. Her hands dove to explore the naked flesh of his broad back under his shirt, pulling him toward her as if she needed their bodies to fuse. A low grunt escaped his mouth when she tilted her head to the side, while his own hands finally dared to slide down her spine, cupping her ass, touching, grabbing, squeezing her.

 

With a deft move he hiked one of her legs up his hip before he lifted her upward and pressed her body against the wall god, she weighed nothing in his arms both hands moving underneath her buttocks to hold her, settling himself and his outrageously hard erection  between her thighs. Rei was instantly lightheaded from how he felt there, his hard length trapped against her.

 

Then the world was spinning no, wait, they were moving, backward  their lips were still connected, tongues intertwining with sloppy sounds before her eyelashes fluttered opened and she saw his own still closed as he concentrated on her mouth. She dared to break the kiss, earning a grunt of protest his dark orbs instantly flashed opened, meeting hers.

 

“Where ?” she panted hotly.

 

“My bed.”

 

She didn’t have time to process   beneath hooded eyelids, his dark eyes narrowed to her mouth once more and he caught her lips without asking for permission. He threatened to tip and fall over nearly a half-a-dozen times over plant pots, discarded books and he actually did send something that seemed like a cup crashing along the way. 

 

She cupped his jaw with both hands before she felt herself free-falling but it was too late to cry out, she’d already landed on a soft surface, sinking into it as he covered her, his broad frame a blanket of heat on her torso and between her legs - and his tongue was still rolling on the ceiling of her mouth, pushing her head deeper into the mattress.

 

At last he released her mouth with a popping sound, only to shift his attack to her neck it felt so good that she lifted her chin upward to grant him better access as he proceeded to kiss and lick the spot right beneath her ear, before his lips nibbled and teased the lobe of her ear oh god, please, just there. She stifled a moan, causing his hips to roll between her parted legs and heat to coil inside her lower abdomen when she felt him throbbing in the confinement of his trousers.

 

He slid his tongue down to her collarbone and she instinctively moved her pelvis to meet his thrusts, the fabric of their pants the most horrible nuisance between them and she knew there was a distinct possibility she’d leave a stain there for how wet she already was but she didn’t give a fuck.

 

Suddenly, he yanked at her shirt, as if desperately seeking more of her skin, revealing her pink bra; his look of annoyance at what he probably considered a useless contraption and additional layer to finding the treasure under them was magical. He hissed before he pulled her shirt upward.

 

Rei contented herself with a soft chuckle as she helped him bring the shirt over her head, tossing it aside. His white shirt followed instantly, revealing his muscular chest. She bit her lips and mercifully decided to take her bra off herself to avoid him the task of figuring that one out.

 

His irises darkness when she lifted her hands to unclasp and pull the straps from her shoulders, removing everything showing her small, pert breasts. She took notice of how his jaw went slack at the sight of them — but in a second he was on her again, both arms framing her naked torso and pulling her into another hungry kiss. 

 

When he released her lips, his tongue traveled down her neck again. His passion was so naked and so raw, his hands caressed her skin everywhere, licking her as if he wanted to leave his mark and his scent all over her. His organic hand finally moved to cup her left breast which he massaged and squeezed, and if it was a bit rough, Rei found she didn’t care. Her mind was made a whirlwind as she abandoned herself to him, enjoying the feeling of how desperate he was for her.

 

His taste buds then chose her left nipple - and oh fuck, the sight and feeling of his pink tongue running over her sensitive breasts, making her nipples pebble, made her whine; she closed her eyelids, head rolling backward in delight. He licked her with lewd sounds while his gloved hand moved to massage the other

 

Oh god dammit, the last thing she’d expected was that synthetic leather could feel so fucking amazing on her nipples. The idea of those gloves touching other places down south made its way into her brain and she cursed under her breath.

 

With approving hums, Kylo’s mouth lapped and suckled, his plush lips closing relentlessly over her nipples making her so fucking wet she grunted helplessly. The combined feeling of his mouth on her skin and the vibration of his low timber made her slick with urgent, desperate need. 

 

How could simple kisses and licks make her ache in such fashion for this man?

 

“Kylo…” she croaked with hooded eyelids.

 

Perhaps it was hearing her moan, perhaps he was hearing her prayers, whatever it was, he rolled his weight over to the right side, taking place next to her and Rei immediately missed his body heat  before he turned his attentions to her right breast and his organic hand snaked down her stomach to find the spot between her legs. He slid a hand under her pants and panties, finding her wet slit, causing Rei to whimper loudly at the feeling of his calloused fingers in the middle of her wetness.  

 

His eyes darted to hers upon the touch and his jaw dropped   and Rei found her cheeks flush crimson quite despite herself. He looked at her in complete awe, lips moving soundlessly, stunned as if a hammer had hit him on the head.  

 

“You’re wet. For me,” he finally managed to mumble, as if he didn’t believe what he was feeling under his fingers.

 

It only made Rei blush harder. “Y-you didn’t think I’d be wet for you?” she asked softly, acknowledging how much her body betrayed her desire.

 

Yep, she was right she could see it in his dark irises, in the way they slightly fell upon hearing her question and the way he looked at her, in the way his mouth clamped shut as if he was unable to answer her. There it was, that vulnerable, painful stare of his it was gut-wrenching and it only made her desire for him increase. She could tell he still couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact she was here with him kissing him back, wet and needy in his bed and desperate for more of his touch.

 

Deciding it was better to show him she truly wanted him, her hands reached for her pants and she jerked them down her legs, kicking her boots and taking her panties along with the process. It made her blush because she still had a small black bush of hairs on her pubis, even if she had, as all women in this technological world, lasered off most of it. Still, she hadn’t wanted to take everything off, and now, she wondered how Kylo would feel about it. 

 

But when she laid back, entirely naked, his pupils had narrowed like his cat’s in the light; his stare roamed over her figure and Rei was incapable of keeping her cheeks from going pink under the intensity of his scrutiny. He liked what he saw, but there was something more. She arched an eyebrow as his expression hardened the way his shoulders suddenly tensed, his jaw firmed and skin paled, betrayed only one feeling: he was terrified.

 

She propped herself up with an elbow to match his eye level. "What is it?" she asked tenderly, tilting her head to the side.  

 

Suddenly, his lips pressed together firmly and his throat worked. “I-I don’t know how to do this,” he blurted out, gaze falling to the sheets below them.

 

His words nearly knocked the air out of her lungs in sudden realization.

 

He was untouched. He was like her.

 

A tightness she hadn’t known existed in her chest loosened upon hearing him. In his sad stare, she could decipher he had never experienced that someone would want him - and the shared, familiar feeling made her chest ache.

 

They were two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl; two lost souls that had finally found each other.

 

Her heart swelled with …something. An unknown feeling. Something warm and soft and bright.

 

She offered him a large smile and her left hand came to brush his embarrassed cheek.  “Kylo…I-I’ve never done this either,” she comforted him.

 

His gaze whipped up to hers - he contemplated her with a mix of wariness and disbelief.

 

“Y-you haven’t?” he asked, almost as if he thought he hadn’t heard right.

 

“No. And I want you to be the first if that's what you're thinking."


Bingo.

 

His lack of answer silently acknowledged she was right. Oh god, he really had no clue of how much he affected her. Granted, up until recently, she hadn't known herself, burying all her desire and locking it away for good measure. So, deep down, she understood his reluctance in believing her change of heart.

 

She peered out of the corner of her eye to the budge in his pants and bit her lips. Her gaze traveled back to his, although she moved her hand toward his crotch and her fingertips outlined his erection, feeling the fabric stretch to house his hard-on. Finally, her palm cupped him and she pressed her fingers delicately around him, feeling the warmth there.

 

“I want you,” she whispered, licking her lips and caressing him through the fabric - she felt his hard cock twitch as if responding her words. Then, her hand gently pulled the waistband of his sweatpants, revealing his black briefs. Her fingers crawled into them, finding his cock hard, hot and so damn ready inside. When she lowered his briefs, causing him to flush red, his cock came springing out

 

Well, fuck.

 

Saying he was well endowed was an understatement, and oh well, it was not surprising considering he was basically a mountain made of flesh and metal but she was also relieved to confirm that part of him was full flesh and not mechanical. His hardness had sent doubt flashing in her mind ever since she’d felt his durasteel hard-on pressed against her. But no his cock was pink and swollen and she could see the bluish veins twirling around his shaft. Last but not least, it was leaking on the pink velvety top and the sight was incredibly arousing.

 

She wetted her lips and he looked at him again. His jaw had gone completely loose upon watching her undress him, his blush now ran from ear to ear and there was a tinge of expectation dancing in his eyes. She wrapped her fingers around him savoring how his swollen veins felt under her touch before she made a tentative stroke. He exhaled sharply, closing his long eyelashes and letting out an almost strangled cry.

 

She had no idea how to do this but thank heaven and hell she’d watched some videos because these were complicated waters to navigate. She had a vague idea of what to expect, but seeing his reaction encouraged her. She continued to stroke up and down, and before she knew it, he was kissing her again, tongue seeking hers between hot pants and low grunts of pleasure. It was incredibly enticing to feel this lethal, dangerous man melt under her touch, to feel him losing all control with only her hands for weapons.

 

Never releasing her mouth, his organic hand found her breasts and massaged them, before it traveled down softly and caressed her naked ass, soon to find the damp spot between her legs once more and it was her turn to muffle a moan against his mouth. She parted her bare legs to grant him better access and his broad fingers moved excruciatingly slowly between her drenched folds, while she palmed him harder now.

 

He suddenly released her mouth. “Stop,” he muttered, mouth hanging open in pleasure.

 

“Why?” she asked breathlessly, eyes wide now with incomprehension.

 

“I-I can’t concentrate when you touch me like this,” he explained, and she figured that him stopping her matched the definition of torture. “I want to please you first…" his voice trailed off as if he was doubting his words, "b-but I don’t know how you like it.”

 

Oh.

 

She removed her hand from his hardness and laid back on the mattress, while his hand rested on her stomach, broad and warm.

 

There was a beat of silence where all she could hear was her thundering heart. 

 

“M-maybe I can show you?” she offers tentatively, cheeks darkening upon her realizing her own neediness. “You know, I mean, how -” she flushed even more with embarrassment.

 

She saw the precise instant when his dark orbs lit with the two golden flames of wild desire. But he was stunned into silence as if her words had entirely ruined him for the rest of eternity, as if he didn’t know if what she had just said was real or only a ghost of his own fantasies. After what seemed like an eternity, he bent down over her, his rich lips brushing hers ever so slightly.

 

“Show me,” he whispered, voice dropping two octaves in her ears. “Show me how you like it.”

 

Oh lord, now she was almost regretting this she turned crimson red when he propped himself on his elbow again to get a better view and she became aware of how vulnerable she was, of how his gaze lingered on her body, and her self-awareness kicked in.

 

As if on cue, his irises found her doubtful one and she didn’t know if he’d sensed her uneasiness, but he asked again, this time encouragingly. “Show me.” It was almost a plea on his lips. 

 

Gathering her courage, her right hand trailed down her stomach over the apex of her thighs and she quickly found her clit. She wetted her index and middle finger how was she so drenched for this man already? and started to rub her bud, forming small circles around it.

 

His eyes had basically turned into two molten pits of lava at this point they were locked on her moving fingers, and, he slouched his body downward, grabbing her thigh and spreading them slightly to take a better look at her. He licked his lips at the sight and she could feel his hardness press against her leg.

 

“There,” she whimpered shit, it felt good still circling her needy clit and applying a bit more pressure now. “I-I really like it there. But…it feels empty,” she explained tentatively.

 

His dark gaze tore from her fingers to find hers, and she could see he was pondering the implications of her words. He stayed silent though, his captivated irises returned to her slit and she wetted her fingers again over her slickness. It was starting to feel unbearably good pleasure gathering as she drank in how he was looking at her. She desperately needed something inside though, so she shoved her index finger into her pussy and she moaned at the feeling of relief. His eyes instantly widened at the sight, and he cursed under his breath. His hand moved toward her as if he wanted to do the same, but then he hesitated.

 

“C-can I touch you?”

 

“Please,” she begged before she could help herself.

 

She never expected him to lift her thigh and snake underneath it, broad body spreading on the bed on his stomach. She instantly stopped touching herself, and her leg was now resting on his shoulder, as he studied her pussy with both interest and lust. “Don’t stop,” he mumbled. “Touch yourself, please.”

 

She did as told, lifting her head slightly to meet his greedy eyes between her thighs. The sight was threatening to make her dizzy. Her fingers move against her sensitive clit before his organic fingers brushed over her folds, feeling her wetness. He smacked his lips together, wetting them with his tongue with unabashed hunger before his index finger entered her.

 

“Oh fuck,” she moaned, walls clenching around the foreign intrusion. It was immediately followed by another digit, opening her insides a bit more, and she ground her hips into his hand and the marvelous sensation of new fullness.

 

“Please, please, move them.” She hated how desperate it sounded, but she needed this, so fucking bad, or she was going to scream. As if he didn’t need to be told twice, he fingered her softly, digits entering in and out tentatively, gauging her reaction. “Yes, yes just like that,” she whined, head thrusting backward as she applied more pressure to her clit by rubbing it faster. She marveled at how his fingers were so much broader than hers, making her pussy contract around their width.  

 

Against all odds, she suddenly felt his gloved hand around her own; her head bolted upward and her eyes narrowed to his as he pushed her hand aside - and she saw him rub his gloved index finger over her clit. She yelped, body arching in pleasure at the contact.

 

Fuck, it felt incredible. The soft texture grazed her swollen clit, but his mecho-finger was hard under the synthetic leather; it was the perfect mix of soft and hard she felt how her slickness was spread around her clit by his glove, and while his movements weren’t perfect at all, it was sloppy and clumsy, it was enough to drive her insane because his other fingers continued satisfying her drenched insides. Never could she have pleasured herself like this. Their eyes locked as he watched her from between her thighs and she couldn’t help but moan as her pleasure mounted dangerously fast.

 

“God, that’s so good, please,” she entreated again. “I-I’m so close.”

 

Her entire body shook and squirmed as he continued his attentions to her needs but when his fingers curled inside her, stretching her pussy open in a new, wild fashion, it brought her over the edge almost immediately.

 

She felt her textured walls clench him impossibly tight and she moaned out loud, body jolting as waves of pleasure hit her, while he continued to drive her through her orgasm as if his entire existence depended on seeing her come under his ministrations.

 

What she absolutely did not expect was him rising on his knees above her while she was still catching her breath and grabbing his throbbing cock in his hand, stroking it as if he couldn’t hold himself one second longer. His balls were pressing against the fabric of his briefs and his tip was leaking profusely before he coated the liquid all around his tip with his thumb. Rei was in such shock as she gaped at him, touching himself above her, looking at her while his expression registered every shade of desperate need for release, and he was giving her a spectacular view of his pink length. He stroked himself quickly making Rei bite her lips, oh, she wanted to touch him so much — but instead of reaching out, she made mental note to remember how he worked on himself. It was short-lived since after several quick pumps, she saw his cock throb and he came, mouth hanging open, releasing an animalistic low grunt as thick ropes of white liquid gushed from his tip and coated her stomach and breasts. It felt hot and sticky against her skin and Rei loved all of it.

 

He collapsed with hot pants and short breaths on his two arms above her, head falling forward, whips of black hair dipping before his face. She rose her hands to cup his jaw so he would look at her.

 

He did while he still tried to catch his breath. “I-I’m sorry,” he mumbled, making Rei arch her eyebrows.

 

“Why are you sorry?” she asked honestly.

 

The question made him focus on her again. “I-I didn’t want to come on you. I c-couldn’t hold-”

 

Her smiling lips showed all her white teeth. “I don’t care - I loved it,” she emphasized on the “o”. “And you made me come so hard. I never could pleasure myself like that.”

 

Seeing her honesty made his lips curve on the corner of his mouth. His features changed, going from puppy-eyed to something less vulnerable and fragile as if her words had reassured him in believing he hadn’t done such a bad job after all. He lowered his face to catch her lips, pressing them hard against her own.

 

“I’ll go get something to clean you - don’t move.”

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” she assured him as he straightened and scrambled out of bed, tucking his soft cock back into his briefs and pants.

 

She breathed out, long and slow, while she listened to the sound of water rumbling in the kitchen. She looked at her stomach, and wiped some of his come with her hand, bringing it to her nose the smell was acrid, almost like chlorine she didn’t know what to make of it, despite the fact that it was, she had to admit, very manly. She wondered how androids could come, but then, she was reminded they were replicants of humans and often served as prostitutes. It would be logical for them to come too, although they couldn’t reproduce.

 

She heard his heavy footsteps come back in, with a bowl of what seemed like hot water and a cloth in his hands; it instantly reminded her of when she’d nursed him back to life.

 

How things have changed now, she thought silently.

 

His shirtless self came to sit on the edge of the mattress and she could now peacefully admire his perfect abs and how his muscles flexed when he tossed the cloth into the bowl and squeezed the water out of it. He turned to her and wiped his come off her tummy and breasts gently - his touch careful - almost delicate. “Delicate” and “Kylo” were two words that did not match; and yet somehow, they did. The man was such a contradiction. He could become a beast and a monster in less than a quarter of a second, but if one scraped the dirt of his rudeness and looked into the cracks of the soil, one could find a small sprouting flower, delicate, gentle and tender.

 

“Thank you,” she offered when he finished, casting him a shy smile, as he left the bowl on his night table next to the lamp illuminating both of them. She picked up her discarded shirt and panties and slipped both of them on, prudishness and self-awareness coming back to her suddenly. He turned off the ceiling lamp, leaving only his night table one. The neon hues from the outside world bathed the walls of the room with pink and blue. He discreetly took his sweatpants off, giving Rei a good view of his mechanical leg, and crawled back into bed, drawing the sheets over both of them.  He sprawled his long legs out and tentatively opened his arm for her, scanning her reaction. She gladly moved to rest her head on his chest, he wrapped his organic arm around her back as she snuggled against him.

 

They fell into silence, the awkwardness of their first time surrendering to each other gluing their tongues to their mouths. It was so late and Rei felt beyond exhausted; however, her adrenaline after their activities had skyrocketed, and she didn’t want to sleep. Instead, she trailed the outline of his chest with her fingertips as she listened to his heart underneath her ear and his steady breathing. His overall scent was a mix of conditioner, metal, and sweat, but his skin smelled earthly and spicy, with whiffs of woody scents which reminded her of her childhood. It was a manly, rich scent. None of them spoke for a long time and just enjoyed the other’s company.  

 

When she moved to take a look at his face, his head shifted to the side and the reflection of their eyes met in the darkness. Rei dared to break the silence first.

 

“Kylo…what happened tonight?” she voiced the question which was burning her.

 

She felt him sigh slowly as if he knew this conversation had to come sooner or later. He rubbed a hand over his tired eyelids as he pondered his answer. “I felt there was no hope left in this world. I-I took many lives and knowing what I had done to you just…it was too much to bear. With what you confessed, I thought you’d never come back. I’ve never felt so alone,” he explained, a dire sadness coloring his words.

 

A dark shadow jumping on the bed startled Rei out of her wits; her head bolted upward, only to discover it was Millicent who had come to pay them a visit and she breathed out audibly in relief, falling back into his armpit. Milly sniffed the bed as if trying to identify the new smells there, and cautiously, moved her little paws over to them. Rei extended her hand to the faithful cat and she rubbed her nose against her fingers, recognizing her. It reminded Rei of a detail.

 

“Y-you said she jumped on you when you…?”


“Yes. I was about to pull the trigger and she scared the shit out of me.”

 

Rei focused on his face again and brought her fingers to trail his jaw. “Thank god she did,” she said. “You never, ever should have done that,” she scolded firmly, irises burning into his with unspoken threat.

 

He gulped under her intense stare. “Joi also reprimanded me,” he confessed, avoiding her scrutiny and looking to the side. Rei’s curiosity was piqued. What could the virtual girl have said for him to look embarrassed?

 

“What did she tell you?”

 

He took air into his lungs. “She said I had no right to do this. That she would kill to have a material body, to be able to walk outside, to see the world, to feel the rain, to hug someone. To be flesh and bones. But she’d never have that chance and that I should see how lucky I was that I was given a life.”

 

Rei blinked. Those virtual intelligences were confusing her more and more. How could a machine think like this? As if it had a will and a brain of itself? It was mental. On top of it, it made so much sense, and Rei found herself staring at the truth behind Joi’s words.

 

“She’s right. You have no right to do that, you can’t take your life. It’s a gift.”

 

He scoffed. “Rei…I was created. Brought into this world to bring only destruction. Somehow, something went wrong along the way and I ended up feeling everything and suffering. I don’t know if I have a virus or what, but the pain is there, real and solid as you beside me.”

 

“A heart is a heavy burden Kylo,” she said. It was drawn from her own experience. "Feelings and emotions are what makes us human. Hell, I don't even know if you truly are a machine sometimes. And still, even if you were created, it gives you no right to take your own life.”

 

He thought for an instant. “Nobody would regret my loss in this world.”

 

She propped herself on her elbow as it sank into the pillow. Her hand aimed to cup his cheek and she veered his face so his eyes would meet hers. The vulnerability had come kicking back into them and his lips pressed together uncomfortably. God, why did he have to look so fragile? “I care,” she whispered. “I care for you. I don’t know what I would have done if Milly hadn’t saved you. I would have gone mad. I have to give that cat a medal.”

 

He seemed to ponder her words, weighing the truth in them   but self-loath ran deep, too deep on his face, and she could see wariness and the sinking thorns of doubt carving a hole into his soul. Nevertheless, he brought his hand behind her head and slid his organic fingers into the waves of her hair. She marveled at the feeling of his gentle touch around her skull.

 

His parted his lips and lifted his chin upward, silently begging for a kiss. She neared her face to his and pulled his lips into her own. After their passion earlier on, this embrace was softer; their tongues rolled around the other lazily and sloppily, before his hand pressed against her head and he pulled her closer, deepening the kiss as his rich lips closed around hers, savoring her taste. Heat immediately pooled down south again  how could a simple kiss turn her on so damn much? She had a sudden urge to lay over him. She tried to break the kiss but he wouldn’t let her, his hand held her face firmly connected to his and his tongue scrapped her teeth and he suckled on her lower lips.

 

Still kissing him, she rolled her body over his, legs parting on both sides of his waist   before she felt his hardness brush her crotch

 

Well, fuck, he was hard again.  

 

Feeling him made her break the kiss and her desire skyrocket. Somehow, her body had completely forgotten her previous orgasm. Her eyelashes fluttered open, as did his. Need and desire simmered in his dark orbs and his hands automatically slid down to her back over her shirt, laying on her ass. She tentatively rolled her hips over his erection, causing him to emit a small moan and squeeze her buttocks.  

 

“God, I’m so hard for you,” he mumbled truthfully, his deep rumble sending a shiver down her spine. Feeling how much he wanted her made her feel like a Queen. She was grateful she still had her panties on, for his words made her wetter than she already was.

 

His fingers dug into her ass, pressing her down for more friction. She moved her hips, rubbing herself against his hardness while he captured her mouth again and twisted his tongue inside her. The outline of his erection grazed her clit perfectly through the fabric of his brief and her panties, making her insides ache for his cock.

 

Shit, she was so wet, so very, embarrassingly wet. When had she become so obsessed with sex? Was it the effect he had on her? Was it all this pent-up desire she’d held at bay for so long finally set free?

 

His gloved hand traveled under her shirt, lifting it up to catch her breast there, causing her to break their kiss and whimper hotly against his lips. She moved more quickly, more desperately over his cock, enjoying the way he was swollen under her.

 

Unexpectedly, he let go of her and straightened on the bed, grabbing her by the waist and shoving her off of him, making her roll onto her back  Rei released a cry of protest and had a moment to ask herself if she’d done something wrong  before he lifted himself on his knees and grabbed her by the waist again, pulling her toward the edge of the bed, from where he climbed off and knelt before her. She felt like a feather in his arms and the way he moved her around, hot and possessive, was now growing to be her favorite thing.

 

“Kylo -?” she questioned in incomprehension before she saw him part her legs and settle himself between them. 

 

Fuck, don’t tell me he’s gonna… her treacherous brain traveled to other forbidden fantasies.

 

He kissed her bare legs, both his hands wrapped around her thighs before he licked the insides of them, gently trailing down toward her core.

 

Her eyes rounded and her breath hitched when he pushed her panties away from her pussy, giving him the full VIP view of her damp pink folds.

 

Oh god, that's exactly what I'm thinking. It sent a thrill through her entire body. 

 

He licked his lips in anticipation, his dark orbs piercing right into hers from between her legs, and without further thinking, he bent his neck and gave a tentative long swipe over her folds and grunted lowly as he tasted her.  

 

Holy. Shit.

 

Had she actually voiced that out? God. She didn't even know since her brains had turned off.

 

She thought she knew what pleasure meant. She thought his fingers had felt so good inside her earlier. But it was extremely pale in comparison to this. She gaped his pink tongue, which continued to lap her pussy slowly, and he hummed lewdly against it, savoring her arousal as if it were a delicacy. She didn’t know what she liked better: his lustful face, who betrayed he was enjoying this beyond words, or the sensation of his hot tongue on her, moving around her slickness.

 

When his tongue found her clit and closed around it, she rolled her head backward and whined-

 

- she actually, openly, pathetically, whined.

 

“God Kylo that feels so good,” she whispered with unabashed hunger, closing her eyelids in delight.

 

He licked her clit again. “Here?” he mumbled, his deep bass vibrating against her already swollen folds.

 

“Yes, yes, right there,” she crooned, bringing her head forward to watch him.

 

He grunted again in pleasure against her and suckled a bit on her bud, discovering and experimenting with her intimate parts in every possible way. His tongue rolled around her folds once more, making sloppy, wet, obscene sounds. His movements were clumsy, but fuck, Rei had to admit he was a fast learner. His eagerness in pleasing her was driving her mad and she moaned with each lick at the incredible sensation of his tongue bringing life to one of her wildest fantasies. Looking at him between her thighs, she felt a tug in her chest at the sight of him, kneeling before her as if eating her out was the horizon of his life, as if pleasuring her was everything he’d ever wanted. Letting his own desire break free was a way for him to show her, to show without words how much he wanted her, how much he needed her, in so many ways. 

 

He stopped to observe her pussy, licked his lips, and she saw his chin was drenched with her arousal. Before he returned his attention to her, his organic hand dropped to his briefs and she saw him grab his cock and palm himself.

 

Fuck, if there was actually something even more enticing than seeing him eating her out, it was him desperately needing to touch himself in the process. When he met her eyes, she realized his had turned into two burning charcoals, making her shiver.

 

His lusty expression made her more daring. Biting her lower lip, she opened her legs for him a bit more, before he took the hint, wrapped his gloved hand around her thigh and plunged his mouth again into her folds, never releasing his cock in his other hand. He lapped and suckled and swallowed all of her; he teased her entrance with his tongue, dove into her, exploring her pussy. His nose scraped the small hairs of her pubis and his tongue moved with such eagerness that she was powerless to prevent the constant moans and whimpers to escape her throat.

 

When his tongue started flickering around her clit, playing with it wildly, she bucked her hips to his mouth and rolled them, making him know she wanted it just there. She panted hotly as he continued to tease her bud and growled animalistically against her pussy, closing his eyelashes as he enjoyed her rubbing herself over his mouth and his strokes on his own cock.

 

She swore to herself his mouth had been designed for this. Thank the maker.

 

“Please, please don’t stop,” she begged as her body started to shiver, pleasure increasing exponentially with all his deep grunts of approval.

 

His firm grasp on her leg loosened and he slid a hand over her stomach before it traveled north and cupped her breast, still watching her every reaction from between her thighs.

 

“Come on my mouth,” he commanded in a deep, low bass and their eyes locked, sending a rush of heat to her already drenched core. 

 

Holy shit, this man was going to be the death of her. She could see him palm his long cock quicker now and she swore the sheer sight of him was going to push her over the edge.

 

Between hooded eyelids, he continued to pleasure her, mouth closing over her clit, suckling and lapping it until a wild tide surged from deep within her guts. Her body shivered from head to toe and he mercilessly continued to flicker his tongue right there and oh, it was so good, yes - just a bit more- oh, fuck -

 

Her climax hit her hard; shutting her eyelashes, she released a long, sinful moan, crying out his name in the process as she rolled her pelvis over his tongue and ran her fingers in his hair, riding her orgasm until the end.

 

Breathing hard, she watched him as he swallowed and lapped all her juices so eagerly, humming and moaning with satisfaction against her pussy. “Come here,” she entreated, patting the spot next to her. “I want to touch you,” she said, desperately wanting to give him release this time.

 

He obeyed so promptly he was next to her in a split second, crashing against the mattress with his hard cock throbbing between his legs and it was a miracle he hadn’t come yet. She wrapped her hand around him, taking note of how he had stroked himself, and imitated him, hand moving up and down his long, thick length while he wiped her slickness off his mouth and chin with his gloved hand, leaving dots of her arousal on the black leather.

 

“Kiss me,” he begged hotly.

 

Their gazes met and she moved her face to his, lips crushing against his glistening, red swollen mouth, and she could taste herself on him. He asked for entrance and she granted him instantly, rolling her tongue on the ceiling of his mouth while she continued to stroke him.

 

She broke the kiss just slightly and saw his eyelids were still closed. “A-am I doing it right?” she murmured, suddenly hit by doubt.

 

“Yes,” he croaked, “Faster, please.”

 

She quickened her strokes on his hard erection, causing his eyebrows to knit between pain and pleasure. She returned her lips to his before his entire body squirmed and shuddered and he released a long and loud growl from the back of his throat. She felt his cock harden and throb in her fingers as it pumped white trails of come which landed on his perfect abs and dripped all over her hand.

 

His head straightened to watch her hand still stroking him softly, before it sank back into the pillow, while his chest heaved hardly, attempting to find air.

 

Still panting, he brought both hands behind her head and pulled her to another soft kiss, lips pressing lazily on her own. They watched each other in silence for a few moments, her hand resting on his lower stomach, still full of his spend. She aimed for the bowl of water he’d left on his night table and washed it with the cloth. Imitating what he’d done before, she moved to clean his stomach softly.

 

Putting the cloth back aside, she came back toward him, digging an elbow in the pillow while her other hand rested on his chest. He looked on the verge of falling asleep, exhausted by two orgasms as well as lack of sleep.

 

“You’re a fast learner,” she teased him, offering him a smile.

 

“I wanted to do that for ages,” he confessed, sweeping her locks behind her ears. “It makes me so hard.”

 

She blinked. “Really?”

 

“Yes. And you taste so damn good.”

 

It made her cheeks powder slightly. “I loved it, all of it,” she said truthfully. Hell, it was the most intense orgasm she’d ever had. She almost dreaded to know how it would feel to have his hard cock inside her. The size of him was kind of scary.

 

“I want to please you,” he said, “And…I-I’m glad you never did this with anyone else.”

 

She felt the weight of her words as a confession, possessiveness bubbling at the surface of them as he watched her closely above him. “To tell you the truth, I thought you already had…” her voice trailed off.

 

His eyebrow quirked. “Why?”

 

“I don’t know. I just - the way you sought me, I thought…”

 

“I’ve never even touched a woman. I never truly believed you’d want me.”

 

“Well, you were wrong,” she said, lips curving upward.

 

He stayed silent for a moment, tattooed hand coming to brush her cheek. “I love to see you come.”

 

“Careful, Kylo, I could get used to that,” she warned lightheartedly, chuckling.

 

It was now his lips which formed a grin. She loved to see how the curve of his mouth could change his face entirely, giving him a more cheerful look. It was a change from his eternal, deep-rooted sadness. She wondered how he would look like with a full smile on his face, and thought she’d found herself a new challenge. She wanted to see him smile. She wanted to see him happy.

 

He looked so exhausted she took pity on him; instead of talking, she laid down next to his warm body and snuggled against it. Kylo locked his arms around protectively or was he protecting himself, shielding himself with her body from his nightmares? before she felt his breathing relax and even, chest heaving up and down as he drifted to sleep.

 

Before surrendering to Morpheus, her mind wandered around the idea that, with their surrender, they had become lovers.

 

Lovers.

 

It sounded so surreal, yet it was true. She wanted this, she wanted him and he’d chosen her, out of all women in this damn city. Their strange connection and the way their bodies responded to each other with such passion was the proof this was meant to be.

 

They were meant to be.

 

She didn’t know what the next day would bring or how everything would unfold, but she smiled at herself, giggling inwardly.

 

She only knew one thing: sex with Kylo promised to be glorious. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Kylo realized he had one, big, massive problem when he woke up the next morning, arms wrapped tightly around Rei’s sleeping figure. How exactly had he spooned her body during the night was a mystery, still blurry in the fog of his mind as he tried to recover his wits and find a solution - quickly.

 

The problem morphed into the shape of the impressive, throbbing hard-on he sported between his legs, pressing insistently against Rei’s ass while she was still dreaming.

 

Fuck.

 

He dared not imagine in which light it would present him if she were to wake up.

 

But karma was a bitch and, of course, her waking immediately was precisely what happened. She stirred into his hold, breath picking up, showing she was close to waking up. Kylo nearly forgot how to breathe when he saw her long eyelashes bat and she focused on her surroundings, taking in where she was. He had but a moment to forget his problem and contemplate her face, her skin and breathe in her scent - it was a mixture of freshness and flowery feminine perfume - utterly intoxicating in his bloodstream. Her head tilted to the side, followed by her shoulders and her honeyed orbs met his. She offered a small, shy smile, sending Kylo’s heartbeat to an emergency room.

 

“Hi…” she croaked, voice thick with sleep.

 

He brought his lips to her cheek and laid a soft, delicate kiss. “Hi,” he whispered in her ear, admiring her lips, her hooded, still tired eyes, and her disheveled hair.

 

She rubbed her heavy eyelids with the palm and blinked. “Wh-what time is it?” she asked turning again to watch the room, grumbling and arching her back to snuggle against his chest -

 

- and that’s when her eyes opened wide. She stilled, frozen in place.

 

Kylo swore he’d never felt his face burn like it did now; even his ears felt hot. He tried to hide behind her, tugging his head into the pillow but she slowly cranked her neck toward him, mouth parted as if she were wondering if what she was feeling was real…and she mercilessly wiggled her ass against him to check.

 

“I-I’m sorry,” he mumbled as the flush on his face increased to a fire alert level.

 

Her eyes were now fully awake and she chuckled lightly while her own cheeks colored.

 

She bit her lips and a glint of something mischievous crossed her gaze. 

 

Against what he initially expected - for her to be angry, shocked, or even scold him - she shifted toward him fully and caught his lips, causing him to "humph" loudly with surprise before she invited herself into his mouth with no permission - not that he was complaining, of course.

 

Feeling her thrust herself against his already aching erection had the immediate effect of arousing him even more. He slid his hands under the thin fabric of her shirt, caressing her back and pressing her toward him while she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling herself toward him, deepening their kiss. Who cared if they had barely slept three or four hours? His whole body - and especially that part - was screaming for her.

 

At that moment, he wondered which one of them most desired the other; she rubbed herself insistently against his erection, legs parting and wrapping around his hips with faint humming, hands digging into his skull, ruffling his hair as if it were a stock of feathers. He took advantage of the situation to slide his organic hand in her panties and grab her ass, squeezing it hard, earning him a grunt of approval.

 

It was too much to bear. Still kissing her eagerly, he rolled his body onto hers, his frame made a cage and she felt so small and slender under him, it awakened instinctive impulses to claim her as his lover, as his woman- as his. His, so that nobody else could ever touch her the way he did.

 

His mouth turned frantic over hers - he pushed her head deeper into the pillow while his tongue explored the cavity of her mouth, his tongue rolled and flirted around hers in a mimic of a dance, both fighting for control over the other. It was too much; his cock turned impossibly hard and he tentatively rocked his hips against her core with low pleasured moans, feeling the heat and dampness accumulating there. Unsure of himself, dubious if she was truly ready for this - his hand snaked between their bodies to the front of her panties.

 

The treasure he found morphed into the shape of soaked folds. Shit, she was so wet; wet for him.

 

He reluctantly released her mouth and lifted his head to take a better look at her pink features and swollen lips under him. Her face had reddened under his touch as he continued to rub his fingers into the pool of moisture between her thighs. 

 

“I want this,” she mumbled, her blush increasing. “It feels so empty…”

 

“You want me to fill you?” The question escaped his mouth before he could realize how suggestive it was and his ears felt hot again - fuck. His words had slipped on his tongue, but he realized at that moment how much he’d meant them. He wanted to fill his own emptiness by burying himself inside her, to hear her scream his name and gift her with his own essence in return. Ever since he’d seen her come, he’d wondered how it would be to actually fill her and the mere thought made him lightheaded.

 

Her eyes widened ever so slightly and a massive blush swept over her face and neck, a mixture of embarrassment and sheer need. She nodded in silence, granting him permission.

 

He swallowed, the pent-up pressure and desire breaking inside him. He removed his briefs quickly and his cock sprung, hard, throbbing and so damn ready. He slipped her panties off, pulling them from her smooth legs and tossing them aside without another glance. She parted her legs for him and the sight was utterly tantalizing as he lowered his hips between her spread thighs.

 

Without preamble, he grabbed his manhood and rubbed himself through her folds, lubricating his velvety tip with the nectar of her juices. His gaze flickered to hers as he was about to penetrate her and he could feel how apprehensive she was: her body was tense, shoulders rigid, her fingers dug into his organic and mecho arms. He lowered his torso over hers and their chest connected. His arms came to fame her and his mouth connected with hers again, kissing her as if he felt her entire being needing to be anchored, as if he felt how scared she was.

 

Slowly - the anticipation was making him dizzy - he slipped inside her entrance with slow hip thrusts, stretching her open as they offered their virgin souls to the other.

 

Both gasped loudly at the feeling of their bodies merging together as one. He closed his eyelids at the incredible sensation of her damp walls welcoming him inside, clenching around his flesh while she dug her nails into his arm, body rigid with his manly intrusion. He looked at her then and her eyelashes batted at him, sending a shiver down his spine. There was a strange familiarity and in that very moment, he felt their bodies were made for each other - the feeling of how her body hugged his was overwhelming - it felt like he’d sought her all his life, the missing part of his puzzle.

 

“God, you’re so thick,” she whined in his ear breathlessly.

 

He exhaled through his nose, desperately trying not to come on the spot and altogether incapable of uttering a single word. When he moved (or was that more like a jolt?) inside her, she yelped sharply and he stilled.  

 

Please…be gentle,” she begged in barely a whisper, sending him to the gates of hell; his entire body wanted to thrust hard into her, but the tone of her voice made it impossible to continue.

 

“I-I’m hurting you,” he said, looking down at her while her hands had now slid behind his back, nails trailing along his skin. He wanted to pull out although his cock protested at the mere thought.

 

“No, please, please, don’t. Just…go slow,” she entreated, bringing both hands to cup his ass, shutting her eyelids under him as if she were adjusting to his size.  

 

He tried to do as she bid, his hips rolled into hers slowly but he had a difficult time withstanding the urge for release to mount her with every thrust. He caught her mouth into his again but almost whined through his teeth when he felt her squeeze around him, her drenched textured walls closing around his shaft, causing his entire body to quiver.

 

It was too good. Too much. Too much at once. No, he just  -

 

“Rei - I can’t- ah!” he hissed and his nose dug into the crook of her neck, hair dipping over his clamped eyes. He bit his lower lip in a last desperate attempt to prevent the unavoidable but, with a strangled cry, he buried himself deep inside her and spilled his hot liquids with a jolt.

 

As he recovered his senses, emotion and self-loathing overcame him. He felt so shameful for not being able to control himself, for not waiting for her. “I-I’m sorry,” he mumbled, raising his head to look at her, but against all odds, she ran her hand into his locks and forced his head back down into her neck.

 

“Shhh, it’s okay,” she soothed him, caressing his mane, her fingertips gently massaging his skull as he sank back over her without another word. She pressed her lips to his temple, kissing him softly several times, making him wonder how in the world such a woman stayed by his side, let alone desired him.

 

After a few moments where her embrace eased him a bit, he slowly pulled out, not wanting to impose himself on her more than he already had.

 

When he straightened on the bed to sit on his heels, he looked at the spot between her legs - and gasped out loud, freezing as if he’d met death itself.

 

There was blood.

 

Blood, mixed with his white spend, dripping from her onto the sheets.

 

Without warning an image flashed into his mind…

 

Of that day, when the blood of his victim had fused with the ersatz milk on the floor. How his crimes tainted his soul, forever.

 

But now it was her blood. The wound he’d caused.

 

His jaw shook uncontrollably. He’d hurt her. He’d hurt the woman he most wanted to protect. He was a monster. A wave of raw emotions, powerful and devastating, surged from the darkest place in his soul; a poison, feeding on his shame that corrupted his bloodstream with every intention to destroy him further. Suddenly, his sight was blurry and tears burned his eyes.

 

“Kylo, what is it?” spoke her worried voice as if it were an echo in the distance, a muffled resonance he couldn’t hear.

 

He broke into a sudden sob, bringing his hand over his face to hide.

 

“Kylo!”

 

He felt warm arms around him, embracing his broken soul while he gave into his tormented thoughts and cried like a child. “Kylo, speak to me, what is it?” she asked again. “Please, you did nothing wrong.”

 

He slowly wrapped his own arms around her, the grip of them like iron as he buried his nose in her hair. He coughed and hiccupped while she caressed his back slowly, gently, as if trying to mend his shattered pieces. “Shh, shhh, there, there, it’s okay, what happened?”

 

Through tears falling on his cheeks, he stuttered. “I- you’re bleeding. I hurt you…” his low whisper trailed off.

 

“But that’s normal…women sometimes bleed the first time,” she explained, still embracing him and laying kisses on his shoulder and neck.

 

He sniffed and his throat worked upon hearing her but he straightened his head to meet her gaze. Her irises were soft on him, filled with unspoken words. “R-really?”

 

“Yes, it hurt a bit but it’s normal…you-I mean, you’re really a big guy,” she said, cheeks powdering pink while her hand rose to wipe his tears away. “You know what we’ll do? Do you still have those mending pills that Maz brought when you were sick? There were powerful painkillers in that box…”

 

“Yes, I still have it,” he said. “I-I’ll go get it. And something to wash you,” he untangled himself and rose from the bed, still entirely naked. But he didn’t care. He didn’t care about anything else but to make her feel better. He swiftly went into the flat and retrieved the box as well as another bowl of warm water.

 

Moments later, he came back into the room, handing her the box. He wordlessly sat next to her and washed the inside of her thighs and her intimate parts while she swallowed two pills. She watched him with care, letting him touch her in an imitation of a purification rite. He cleaned her so she was as impeccable as before, washing away the damage he’d done by being too impatient. He swore to himself it wouldn’t happen again.

 

When he finished, she unexpectedly laid a hand on the side of the bed, patting the spot next to her for him climb into. He still couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact he’d just hurt her, but she didn’t seem to be mad at him for it. His chest swelled with unknown feelings, protective and grateful.

 

He laid back in bed and she came to snuggle next to him. “Thank you, for washing me.”

 

“It’s the least I can do,” he excused himself once more and found his throat was going dry again.

 

Mercifully, she didn’t press the point and silently rested her head in his arm. He checked the cellwatch he’d left on his night table, suddenly wondering why he felt so tired. “Oh, it’s early still,” he said, glancing down at her…but she didn’t stir. She just laid there, eyelashes shut, with her adorable freckles contrasting against her skin. She looked…happy. He put the watch down again carefully, cautious not to wake her up and contemplated her. She’d wrapped an arm around his chest with a small smile on her lips and was slowly drifting back into the world of dreams. Kylo wondered why his chest felt such a tug when he looked at her sleeping figure in his arms. He savored the moment, trying to remember every second of it and before he knew, the world had gone dark again. 

 

 

 

When he woke up several hours later, he had the distinct feeling he’d never slept so deeply in his entire life. His mouth and eyelids were thick with sleep before his ears picked up the sound of water…then, it focused on the noises of...what? Was that a shower? His glued eyelashes tried to open but he found it difficult. Instead, he rolled over into the pillow again, before feeling the empty spot next to him. His head bolted upward, heartbeat dramatically increasing when he realized Rei was gone.

 

It took him longer than he’d care to admit to realize she’d only gone to take a shower. Duh. He was such an idiot for panicking that way. Soon, the shower stopped running.

 

Chiding himself, he rubbed his face before he focused on Rei’s figure entering the room.

 

He blinked at the sight of her, wrapped in one of his black towels with her hair wet.

 

“Hi, sleeping beauty,” she teased, coming toward him with a hand wrapped into the towel covering her chest, finding the spot next to him on the mattress. 

 

“Did I oversleep?” he grunted, voice hoarse.

 

“It’s the weekend, who cares?” she said, poking his nose. “I didn’t want to wake you up, but I went to take a shower. I hope you don’t mind.”

 

His eyelashes moved quickly. “No, of course not…” It was the most domestic thing ever to see her make herself at home in his apartment - and he loved all those small gestures that pointed out she felt comfortable around him. 

 

She observed him and tilted her head to the side as if trying to read him. Then, something shifted in her gaze…as if a small flame had just ignited there. She twirled a lock of her wet hair around her finger while her lips curved and it was such a simple but sensual gesture that, when she rose to her feet, his gaze was transfixed onto her.

 

Completely aware of what she was doing, she unwrapped the towel slowly, revealing little by little her naked figure while drops of water dropped over her shoulders and trailed down her body.

 

The towel landed on the floor, causing his pupils to blow and blood to rush south right to his shaft, which twitched under the sheets in response. She chuckled lightly.

 

He felt heat creep on his face and he didn’t know if it was because she was now approaching him with the most devilish smirk or because he felt embarrassed his cock hardened like a teenager around her. 

 

Whatever the reason, it was quickly dismissed when she pulled the sheet down, revealing his naked body - and swollen manhood - and came to lay over him with both thighs around his hips, straddling him.

 

He must have been gaping at her outrageously, because she giggled and soon, her finger rose to his chin and actually closed his mouth, causing his blush to extend to unexpected body parts and dampness to appear on his forehead.

 

Fuck.

 

He was so whipped. And so hard. Served on a golden plate to this woman.

 

“I think you owe me one after this morning, hum?” she mused lightly as her hips rocked over his length, pressing and squeezing it against his stomach.

 

Had he wanted to respond, it would have been impossible. His mind had gone blank while his instincts took over; his hands darted to her ass as she continued to roll herself teasingly over him, wetting him with her own arousal. She looked so beautiful, so damn attractive over him and now, he was obsessed with the idea to be inside her again. He pulled her toward him for a chaste kiss, before his mouth trailed down her neck and bit her shoulder as his organic hand cupped her breast and massaged it in slow circles, pinching her nipple softly. Seeing she enjoyed it, he bent his neck to lick her breast and she let out a long moan of agreement, closing her eyelids under the feeling.

 

His hips met her rocking and her teasing was driving him close to the edge of madness. The air grew thinner, making it difficult to breathe for him. As if sensing his despair, she caught his mouth and pushed his head back down into the pillow; her tongue licked his lower lip and rolled around his, while his hands caressed all the skin he could find, the curve of her back and her ass, which he squeezed into his broad fingers.

 

She suddenly broke the kiss and locked eyes with him, licking her lips before her right hand aimed to grab his hardness under her, and she stroked him a couple of time before angling his cock to fit into her.

 

Kylo stared at her, utterly speechless.

 

But when she lowered herself onto him, making his tip taste her delicious folds again and slowly sank down onto him, a strangled noise escaped his throat and he closed his eyelashes in sheer bliss.

 

His member squeezed inside her inner walls, making his entire body shiver. If he’d had a doubt about her still aching after their first attempt, it quickly vanished when he opened his eyelids and saw how her face registered every shade of pleasure. Her mouth was locked into an o-shape, eyes hooded while she slowly started moving over him. Thank the maker those painkillers existed.

 

He grabbed her hips as she rocked hers over his groin, making him slide in and out her pussy.

 

Fuck, if there was heaven on earth, he was about sure he’d found that spot just now, right between her legs.

 

Desperate for more, he grabbed her ass and squeezed it hard - thrusting his cock inside her - it made her body jolt and she let out small whimpers with each of his thrusts. He could feel her pleasure mounting fast because she moved quicker and quicker over him. Oh fuck, it was so good, so fucking good.

 

He wanted to tell her how amazing she felt, he wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked on top of him but he was desperately trying to control his need to come again. He brought his organic hand to his mouth and bit his fingers with a grunt, causing her to move her hips to swallow his cock faster as if his gesture had aroused her even more. 

 

He moaned helplessly under her as she rode him impatiently, hands resting on both sides of his chest into the mattress, mouth agape as she took his thick shaft deeper and deeper. He felt her clenching his hardness tighter by the minute and her juices made the slide in and out of her much more exquisite. Sensing that she needed more, he tightened his grip on her waist and pumped faster into her, slapping her core relentlessly. He only had time to see the delight on her features before she cried out -

 

“Oh God, yes!”

 

The sinful cry she let out was divine music in his ears. She clenched around his cock so hard she almost pushed him out. He helped her ride the wave of her orgasm, sinking in and out as her body melted over his and her head landed on the pillow next to his - breathless, shivering and satisfied.

 

But he was still so hard, and he wanted more. Lust overcame all his senses, a caged lion finally set free after years of captivity; he wanted to give it to her until she couldn’t walk

 

He rolled from under her body and she laid on her stomach, still recovering with heavy breaths from her release. He came to stand behind her and lifted her hips effortlessly toward him, arching her back so her head was still on the mattress. His knees parted her legs and he enjoyed the view of her drenched slit, glistening with the proof of her first orgasm - creamy, just for him, and now he was obsessed with making her come again. There was something animalistic about this position that made him hard in his fantasy for weeks, his natural inclination to possess her being fulfilled. 

 

And now, the fantasy had become reality and he could barely control his urge.

 

She panted out loud and tilted her head to watch him with a questioning look, her hooded eyelids and red cheeks making him smirk. Oh, he hadn’t forgotten how she’d teased him and now, she was going to get it. He kneaded her cheeks, glove working on her peachy globe and he slightly forgot to take in air at the sight.

 

He slid himself into her center, encountering no barrier until he bumped into her cervix and her body contracted and bucked with a high-pitched cry, hands like claws digging into the sheets.

 

“Gently, gently, please…I just came,” she breathed out but didn’t tell him to stop.

 

Despite his desire, he didn’t want to hurt her. Reining himself in, he lowered and connected his chest to her back, wrapping her entire body with his heat. His hands caressed her naked skin softly, his leathered glove trailing her spine and breasts under him, feeling how her insides cradled and flexed around him although he didn’t move an inch. He kissed her shoulders and smelled her hair, the scent of her sweat and arousal making his head spin.

 

“Shit, I want you so much,” he whispered lowly in the shell of her ear, making her breathe out audibly with anticipation.

 

Sensing she was now relaxed under his touch, he propped himself upward behind her, pressing his glove to her back so she wouldn’t move. Slowly, he pushed in and out of her, grabbing her buttock and watching how his length entered her from behind. The way her swollen pink flesh swallowed him to his balls was the most erotic thing he’d ever seen and he had to resist the urge to fuck her hard.

 

“Yes, yes, just like that,” she huffed, hiding behind her extended arms, fingers relaxing against the mattress as she received his throbbing manhood, eyelids now closed in ecstasy as if she were savoring an exquisite meal.

 

Yes, yes, just like that - he wanted her to beg for this, to beg for his hard cock, to beg to be his.

 

He continued to please her as she asked for a few minutes, seeing how her pussy now coated him with white cream, his thrusts emitting slick, sloppy noises. Oh, she was enjoying this. He could tell because she arched her back for more of him and she was powerless to prevent muffled moans to escape her throat.

 

Slowly, he saw she snaked a hand between her legs and started rubbing her clit.

 

Yes, just like that

 

“Are you going to come again for me?” he asked hotly.

 

She glanced at him from behind her arms. Nothing could make him harder than to see the way she looked at him now, bent down under him and taking all of him so willingly, so enthusiastically.

 

“Don’t stop,” she pleaded, whimpering. “Your cock is so fucking good.”

 

Oh. fuck.

 

Yes, just like that.

 

It had the immediate effect to make him grab her hips and dig his fingers into them. He gave a blow which set him fully inside her and stilled so she enjoyed all of him, balls pressing against her ass. She yelped in delight before his need overcame him and he quickened his pace, plunging into her glistening inner lips.

 

He rocked her body with the force of his thrusts and her reddened face hid in the mattress, still caressing herself while her other hand had now balled around the sheets. Her drawn-out moans only made him continue his assault. At this point, the bed was shaking, making it creak and squeak with their intense love-making. It was totally obscene and Kylo loved it.

 

Suddenly, the pull was too strong - he gripped one of her cheeks with his organic hand and slapped her ass with a loud “smack” with his gloved one. Her inner walls convulsed around his length with the impact.

 

Oh fuck, yes.

 

He spanked her again, causing her to cry out in feigned protest, eyes squeezed shut while she continued pleasuring herself and taking in his thickness. Her legs had parted more to the side, pussy grinding backward against him and he felt how desperate she was for him, her toes curled while her entire body shivered - she was close, so, close…

 

“Come for me,” he commanded in a whisper.

 

He took his glove off, biting it with his teeth as it slid off his mecho limb, organic hand holding her ass...and he slapped her again with the leathered garment. Once. Twice. She squealed with each blow. And this time, she begged - she fucking begged him.

 

“Please, please don’t stop, it’s so good, please - ah! -

 

His ego was about to explode. As was his second head, too.

 

“Come on, come for me again,” he ordered once more, plunging into her soaked folds over and over, reaching and filling all the corners of her pussy as she trembled uncontrollably now. The bed banged against the wall, causing the night table to shake next to it.

 

Suddenly, as if obeying his order, she stilled, going rigid under him with tension and the breaking wave of pleasure, her head dug into the mattress while he gave it to her without restraint, bringing her over the edge a second time.

 

“Kylo!” she cried, fingers stretching rigidly out on the bed.

 

Her welcoming sheath contracted all around him and hearing her shout his name unleashed his own release. Finally, finally, he enabled himself to give in to his pent-up lust and came with a loud, deep rumble. He watched his cock throb and spill cum inside her, the sight of it unraveling his deepest, most secret desires. Oh yes, how much he wanted to fill her.

 

Their hips both slid to the mattress together and he crashed over her while she shivered under him, panting hard, trying to recover her senses. He took air into his lungs repeatedly, steadying his frantic heartbeat, before he pulled slowly out of her, causing her to gasp at the loss of contact. He rolled onto his back and wiped the sweat off his forehead.

 

He peered at her reddened cheeks and a self-satisfied grin crept on his lips at the fully satiated look on her face. It made him want to howl in delight, pound his chest hard like an ape in victory; scream on rooftops that he’d made this beautiful woman come twice in a row. Never had he felt so proud in his entire existence.

 

“Can I confess something?” she said, still gasping for air.

 

“Tell me.”

 

She took her lower lip into her teeth. “I never thought you’d be so good in bed.”

 

His brain nearly short-circuited. His ego skyrocketed to the moon. Scratch that, to fucking Jupiter. Had he heard correctly?

 

“R-really? So, I take you liked it?” he feigned he wasn’t pleased although he was failing massively at it.

 

Upon hearing him she laughed. It was so lighthearted and warm it made his heart beat for her more than it did already. “Did it look like I wasn’t enjoying it?”

 

He almost smiled - almost. “I told you I love to see you come.”

 

“I give you permission to make me come as much as you want,” she challenged and neared him again, running a finger over his strong organic arm.

 

“I’m warning you I could take that challenge very seriously,” he retorted, making her giggle and bite her lips again. 

 

She trailed her fingertips over his bicep, trying to decipher the tattoo inked into his skin.

 

“I’ve wanted to ask you…what does this say?” she asked, rolling her head as her gaze followed the words written there.

 

“It’s an excerpt. From the Bible.” 

 

He’d probably never seen her eyes go so round. Her mouth also dropped in the process. “The Bible?!”

 

“Yes, why does that surprise you?” he questioned, intrigued by her surprise.

 

She blinked. “I’ve never even read the Bible! Nobody reads the Bible anymore! How did you - ?”

 

“I found it, in the laboratory I destroyed. As the rest of the books. I read all of them.”

 

“You read...all of them,” she repeated, voicing dropping and eyelashes batting as if she couldn’t believe it. “What does it say?”

 

“There is a passage, in a book called The Book of Revelation, about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…" he said, getting up and retrieving an old book on a shelf in his room. He kept that book always close to him since he felt the most intimate secrets of humanity laid there and he wanted to understand. He came back to lay beside Rei, who was eyeing him with huge interest as he flipped the pages to the right one.

 

“Here it is: ‘And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.’” He paused, gauging Rei’s reaction. He could see the goosebumps which had broken on her naked arms.

 

“W-why that part? Why ink that into your skin?” The questions slipped out of her mouth without permission.

 

His gaze traveled from hers to his bicep and then back to the Book. He squared his jaw. “It reminded me of what I was created for. Spread death. It was the only purpose for so long…” he said, his pained gaze lifting up to hers, letting her ponder the implication between the lines.

 

Rei stared back at him and when a frown appeared on her features, he pressed his lips together.

 

“Kylo…,” she said, fingers wrapping around his tattooed arm. “Those days are over. You’re free. This is what you have to focus on,” she explained, now trailing the plant he’d inked on his forearm. “Not death. Life.”

 

They gazed at each other and he was amazed to see there was no resentment in her honeyed orbs. No judgment of what he’d done anymore. As if…she understood he’d been forced to do it.

 

“I tattooed a plant thinking about this. It almost betrayed me to my masters though, when they saw it. I got scared they would link the tattoo and the fact they had sent me to destroy them. I’d hate to have to face Snoke in another duel,” he said, almost casually.

 

It took him a split second to realize the impact of what he’d said on her face. She’d gone livid.

 

“A duel? With Snoke?” she repeated, chin moving forward as if seeking confirmation.

 

Kylo took a deep breath. He could trust her, could he? She’d proven he could trust her, even if the seeds of doubt still spread their roots in his soul. “Snoke is the most skilled martial artist I know of.”

 

Her features registered every shade of shock. “What? Snoke? That old, decrepit -”

 

“Don’t let appearances fool you. He’s far stronger than I am,” he said gravely. “It would take more than both our strengths to bring him down.”

 

“This is a joke, right?”

 

“I’m afraid it’s not,” he confirmed, alas. “Snoke trained me in the most brutal ways, to feel nothing, to counter all of his attacks. He turned my body into a killing machine. But I'm not up to him. He's dangerous and he's plotting something." 

 

Now, Rei looked downright terrified. “Have you…found out anything?” She was practically shaking and it was not from the cold.

 

Kylo pondered his answer. Indeed, he had. But…he was still wary of giving out such an important secret. If it got to Snoke’s ears, they were all doomed. Before sharing this, his treacherous brain wanted to check something out, because he was an insecure man with a fragile heart. One more time. He just had to ask, one more time. “D-do you want to spend another night here?” he blurted out.

 

She blinked at the question, visibly taken aback by the sudden change of subject and tone.

 

But her answer came straight and clear as crystal water. “Yes,” she said shyly, heat creeping on her cheeks when she understood the implications of what he had in mind. “I’d have to go get some clean clothes at home, but yes…I’d love to.”

 

A knot in his chest, one he had painfully acknowledged was rooted deep inside him during all these weeks, loosened a bit. She wanted to be with him, she wanted him. She enjoyed his company, their intense make-out sessions…at least enough to want more for another day. It was all he needed to make him the happiest man on earth at that moment.

 

“Okay, and when you come back, I can tell you what I know,” he said, offering his answer as a reward for her trust.

 

“So…I'd better get going then,” she said eagerly, rising from the bed and putting her clothes back on.

 

Kylo was slightly taken aback of her willing to go right now, just after they’d had sex, but he didn’t press the point. A shower on his side was most urgently needed and he’d have the time to order the apartment a bit. It was the best decision.

 

He rose from the bed and pulled his pair of discarded sweatpants up his legs. Then, seeing she was ready to leave, he accompanied her toward the door. When they reached it, she turned around to him and pushed herself on the ball of her feet to give him a chaste kiss.

 

“I’ll see you later then,” she said, honeyed orbs seeking his. 

 

He wanted to kiss her more. He hated, abhorred the feeling of seeing her leave, although he understood why she did. Still, he couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that it was only for a short amount of time.

 

He chided himself. She would be back soon. She would, wouldn’t she?

 

Instead of voicing his fears out, he contented himself with a nod and saw her grab her hooverboard and slip through his door again, just as fast as she’d come in the night before.

 

He stood in the doorway for far too long, staring at the closed door before him. No, he hated this. He hated to feel alone again. As soon as she was gone, the light was sucked out of his world as if his beacon, his lighthouse has suddenly vanished from sight. Without her, the world was gray, somber and empty.

 

He shook his head. How could he be so weak? Scolding himself, he aimed for the shower with all the intentions of not dwelling on her absence; she would be back soon. He instinctively looked at the time on his cellwatch.

 

Meanwhile, the shower was most needed after all their…activities together. Especially the last one: he was sure his cock was still glazed with her juices like icing on a cake. His fingers turned the shower power to “hot” and he enjoyed how it soothed not only his muscles but his entire being. His heart felt like it had ridden a rollercoaster; there was too much to process.

 

He stayed in the shower long enough for his fingers to prune. Then, he picked another sleeveless shirt, black this time, and changed sweatpants. Milly came out from her hiding place, rubbing herself against his mechanical foot and meowed happily. He crouched down to pet his cat and the animal’s back arched upwards as she purred for her master.

 

A smile broke on his face upon seeing her shiny, emerald orbs look at him with such devotion. He understood she needed him and the fact she’d saved his life had created a new type of bond between him and the animal. 

 

“Are you hungry?” he asked and the cat meowed back in return, a small cry as if she could understand him. He chuckled and went into the kitchen to give her some food. He sat on a stool next to her long enough to see her lick her plate clean. He kept checking the time every five minutes and even if he knew it was pathetic, he couldn’t help himself.

 

It’d only been forty minutes she’d left and he calculated she needed at least an hour and a half to pick her things up and be back. He decided to occupy his mind with something else, like organizing his papers, books and watering all the plants.

 

Time went by, but it had already been two hours she’d gone and she still hadn't returned. He replayed the scene in his head. Her sweet voice saying “I’ll see you later” was engraved like a well-known melody in his ears. But what did those three words really mean? “See you later” could mean pretty much anything. She might have taken more time, gone to buy something, gone to see a friend maybe?

 

The minutes passed by and he was growing more uncertain, more insecure by the second. Maybe she’d changed her mind? Maybe she thought she’d had enough of him? Maybe now they had consumed their passion for each other she’d just left and was not willing to face him?

 

All his insecurities kicked back in at the speed of light and he started to pace like a caged animal in the flat, drawing circles unconsciously around the living room. The sun had settled on the horizon and seeing the night crawl back outside was the image of what was happening inside his heart.

 

He was in the middle of the most despicable agony when suddenly, the bell rang.

 

He was too ashamed to acknowledge how he jumped and raced toward the door, heartbeat picking up frantically in his chest.

 

When the door opened revealing her bright, beautiful gaze, he breathed out in relief and all the accumulated tension left his shoulders which sloped down.

 

She entered the apartment again carrying an immense bag on her right shoulder. “Hey,” she said, casting him a smile, “I brought us things to eat!” she exclaimed happily, aiming with long strides for the kitchen as if she were in her own apartment.

 

He followed her, glancing at the bag full of cans and ramen ersatz noodles packed in fluorescent plastic. Now he understood why she’d taken so long. He felt ashamed to have doubted her word.

 

The bright smile while she unpacked all the things she’d brought them, because she wanted to share with him, made his heart swell with a mixture of emotions too complicated to identify. Her sight stirred an urge and he was unable to resist the sudden pull

 

She must have noticed his inner state because she blinked and stared at him with a pink ramen pack in her hand which matched her pink hair ends. "What is it Kylo?”

 

“Nothing,” he lied, before he closed the distance between them and without further warning, grabbed her by the waist, brought her against his chest and bent his spine to press his lips to hers. The ramen package ended on the counter and the bag she was carrying fell with a loud “clunk” on the ground. She answered his kiss instantly, winding her hands around his neck. He tilted his head to the side and thrust his tongue into her mouth passionately, devouring her, savoring her taste once more. Fuck, she’d only been gone a couple of hours and he was plainly and simply desperate to take her like it was a dark, burning necessity.

 

He yanked on her leather jacket, taking it off form her shoulders without even looking at what he was doing, throwing it on the floor.

 

His kiss turned possessive: he backed her toward the kitchen counter and pressed her body there, caging her while his hands went to explore other lower body parts. Her head rolled backward when his mouth pushed further into hers and soon her back arched against the cold surface of the counter. His mouth closed around hers insistently, emitting wet sounds while her throat released low muffled moans as if he was suffocating her with his ardor.

 

He released her lips to grab the hem of her shirt and pulled it quickly over her head, taking her undershirt off in the process, leaving only her bra - he jerked on it without any permission and actually, actually tore the straps apart.

 

Fuck those, they’re useless anyway, he thought.

 

Rei gasped in protest, looking positively shocked, lips still swollen from his assault on her mouth.

 

“Kyl -”

 

He didn’t let her complain. He had already caught her lips again, kissing her senseless between soft groans. The outline of his throbbing erection rubbed against her crotch, unyielding and demanding. He broke the kiss, shifting his attack to her neck, licking, biting and suckling every inch of skin he could find, losing his soul in her scent. She was a drug.

 

 “Kylo -”

 

He could barely listen to her voice. He knew she was addressing him but his mind was clouded by his need to possess her, by his need to fill her again, to assuage his own emptiness. He brought both hands on her ass and effortlessly hiked her up the counter, parting her legs to settle his broad frame between them.

 

“Kylo - stop - ”

 

He was about to lower her further down onto the counter, tongue glued to her neck, when she unexpectedly pushed him backward strongly with one hand connecting to his chest, making him freeze.

 

His eyelids flashed open in incomprehension, while her chest heaved up and down, trying to recover from his ministrations.

 

“Kylo - what’s the matter?” she asked in a huff.

 

He blinked and took air into his lungs. Seeing he was powerless to say anything, she tried another question. “You-you…didn't think I wasn’t going to come back, did you?”

 

His eyes rounded. How does she know?

 

His silence was his way of responding.

 

“I’m right, aren't I?” she insisted.

 

Still standing between her thighs, he looked away to the discarded ramen on the counter, suddenly feeling extremely embarrassed by his doubts. He saw her hand rise to cup his face but he didn’t stir. Her fingers brushed his right, scarred cheek gently.

 

“Look at me, please,” she entreated. He obliged, peering at her from the corner of his eye. “Kylo, if you fuck me, I want it to be because you desire me, not because you’re afraid of losing me. Not because you’re scared of being abandoned.”

 

That made him look at her straight in the eye; his lips slightly parted in wonder. He didn’t know if he was more shocked she’d used the word “fuck” or the actual content of what she was implying. If he wanted to say anything, he found he couldn’t as he pondered the consequences of her words in his mind. How was it so obvious, so God damn obvious he’d been scared to death of being left behind?

 

After a few moments where he swallowed and rubbed his neck, he dared to ask. “Ho-how did you know?” His voice was weak and defeated.

 

“Because…you seemed desperate - and were almost brutal. You didn’t even listen to me when I called your name. As if…as if you were lost in your fears. The Kylo I know that's in there is not like that,” she said, jabbing a finger over his heart. “He’s always attentive.”

 

He pressed his lips together, at a loss for anything to say, but she unexpectedly added something. “I know, Kylo…because I’m like you. I’ve always been terrified of being left behind, of being abandoned all over again.”

 

Their gazed locked. Her features showed she’d just confessed something terribly intimate to him, a secret. He was at such a loss with what to say or do, but she mercifully gave him a way out of the maze.

 

“Please, please fuck me, Kylo. Fuck me hard because you want this as much as I do..." her voice trailed off before she wrapped her arms around his chest and locked her thighs around his waist, pulling him into a kiss.

 

All previous thought of explaining himself to her were trashed into oblivion, their kiss uniting and connecting them, as if it gave both of them an insight into the other’s soul, a glimpse of the other’s mind. There was no need for words. He answered her kiss and somehow, somewhere, a tightness in his chest vanished, washed away by her words. The world seemed to answer him once more. It was as if he’d gone out of a black cave and saw the light again after being shut into darkness for too long.

 

And now, he wanted to please her, to make her come like never before, but not out of fear. Because he truly, deeply wanted her; in his bed, in his life, in his heart.

 

He bent her spine down on the counter, still kissing her while his hands snaked between their bodies and yanked at her pants pulling them down. He released her lips to take his own shirt off - the air felt cool on his scorching hot body, while she kicked her boots off as well as the rest of her pants and laid back, naked apart from her panties - scratch that, they were a laced burgundy thong.

 

Fucking hell. Had she done that on purpose? Those were not the underwear she’d worn before.

 

His manhood twitched in his sweatpants at the very sight of them being already wet, the stain dark and obvious on the fabric.

 

There was no way he could resist even if he’d wanted to. He pulled her by the waist against the edge of the counter, causing her body to slip downward and her head to crank against the wall. He pulled her legs wide open, kneeling before her and his tongue gave a long, slow lick on her folds through the lace, making her inhale sharply and close her eyelashes with a muffled cry.

 

He fastened his hands around her thighs and listened to her purr as he worked her with his tongue. He gave a couple more licks tasting her slickness through the lace, taking his sweet time as he saw her turn desperate for him to remove the skimpy piece of cloth shielding them apart.

 

“Impatient?” he teased, never parting his gaze from her.

 

She sounded almost impressed at his humorous tone. “Fuck, Kylo, I just knew you were going to be the death of me…”

 

Smirking, he brought a finger to the lace and slowly, excruciatingly slowly removed it, allowing him to see her pink velvety folds waiting for his attention. He plunged his mouth into her, grunting loudly as the taste made his hardness stiffen like iron. She eye-rolled in pure delight and moaned softly as his mouth conquered her pussy, his tongue a king in her realm, making her body squirm with unspoken desire. He lapped and suckled on her slit, his lips soon finding her clit and closing repeatedly around it. He moved his head for his tongue to flicker quickly over her bud, causing more moisture to leak out of her and whimper hotly.

 

When he dared to look at his work, his saliva had fused with her liquid lust and was now dipping down her folds onto her ass.

 

Fuck, she was so ready for him. His cock was starved in the confinement of his pants, desperate for its next meal. Somehow, he still had the nerve and strength to tease her.

 

“Are you going to come on my mouth or my cock?” he asked lowly, still looking at her, now teasing her bud with one finger, spreading her juices all over.

 

“Your cock, please,” she begged, hungry and demanding. There was no description of what her desperate pleas did to his ears or to his ego.

 

Without being asked twice, he straightened before her, slid her thong off and lowered his pants - he hadn’t even bothered to but briefs on - revealing the throbbing swollen violet veins all around his hard shaft.

 

He stroked himself a couple of times before he grabbed one of her legs with his organic hand and pushed it upward toward her shoulder while his other mecho one framed her chest tightly. He'd noticed how flexible she was beforehand, which came in handy now, and he stretched her open wide. He angled himself to pin her completely to the kitchen counter with his body since his height allowed him to hover over her. His erection soon found her entrance, and he pushed in, inviting himself to sink to the hilt. 

 

Rei mewled under him in ecstasy, his thickness widening her tight pussy in the most delightful way. She was so wet, so fucking drenched, she felt like butter under him. The sensation was the exact definition of Paradise. It felt so amazing he couldn’t move.

 

“Kylo…” she muffled, rocking her hips so he would do something.

 

So desperate. So needy.

 

Hearing her beg him with his name, the very name she’d given him, broke the last barrier inside of him. Like molten lava slowly simmering in a volcano, his lust came to a boil, spitting and erupting furiously.

 

His length slid out of her, slamming back in, unrelenting and tenacious while her hands dug into his biceps. He grunted low in approval as her whole body shook under him with every hard thrust, mouth opened while her cheeks colored more and sweat beaded around her hairline. He bent down a bit, his chest enveloping her frame while his hips continued to meet hers, their joined bodies a perfect match. His balls smacked against her entrance over and over, cock caked with her delicious creams.

 

He caught her lips again, pressing his mouth to hers before his dark, blazing irises slid open and locked with her hazel ones. Both their breaths increased as he continued to plunge into her with such ardor he made her pant helplessly, taking her higher and higher. Her small breast bounced under him, and the sight was so enticing it made his head dizzy.

 

“God, I love fucking you,” he said, insisting on the word. This was not nice lovemaking, it was raw, unbridled lust. He wanted her to be so overwhelmed she’d forget how to speak

 

Yes, fuck me,” she strangled a cry between pants. 

 

All of a sudden, his cock was so sloppy it came out and this time she cried in protest.

 

“Put it back in,” she pleaded helplessly and he did, driving hard again inside her, making the kitchen counter shake with his effort.

 

Sweat dotted his forehead and he felt heat creep on his face as he fucked every cell of her hungry pussy. Her neck was still arched against the wall, nails scratching his skin and organic limb, and he felt her body shudder uncontrollably and her toes balled up on each side of him. She rolled her hips, grinding over him, making her sensitive clit brush against his pelvis and meet his hard thrusts, taking him in impossibly deeper. Her womanhood clenched around his cock, ready to milk all of him clean. He slowed down a bit, giving her a small rest to catch his own breath - and she parted her legs a just bit more -

 

“Yes, open your legs for me, spread them so I can fill you,” he whispered in her ear between ragged breaths before he gave her a hard shove, causing her to yelp. “Is that what you want? For me to fuck you hard and fill you?” he asked lewdly with a hoarse voice, casting her a drunk stare while he resumed fucking her like there was no tomorrow.

 

She nodded, incapable of making her vocal cords work. All she managed to voice out were squeaks between pain and pleasure. The only sounds were their merging bodies and liquids, obscene and lewd.

 

Yes, just like that. You can’t even talk because of my cock. His slid out of her and slammed back inside mercilessly, reaching all the right spots. Finally, he slowed a bit , bent over her slightly and buried himself deep inside her core, rubbing and twirling his hips over her bud, balls pressing insistently against her ass so she’d feel all of him.

 

A strangled cry escaped her. “Yes, yes, fuck, yes.”

 

“Take all of it, you take it so good,” he muffled in her ear, the urge to come becoming harder to stave off.

 

He shifted his angle above her, using his weight to pump hard and ravage her, pinning her to the counter. Hard. Fast. Unbidden. All he could hear were his flesh snapping against hers and his heartbeat ringing in his ears. She grabbed the edge of the counter with one hand, holding it tight like iron, and pressed the other against the wall behind her, body stiffening with moans stuck in her throat. Her slender fame bounced under him and her head almost banged against the wall, he knew she was close. He grabbed her waist, pulling her down to meet his hammering and soon, he felt her pussy walls compress his girth, whole body vibrating while she was gaping at him and her mouth was locked open soundlessly.

 

“Come again for me, come hard around me and I’ll fill you with more cum,” he commanded, drunk with lust, in a deep baritone. “You feel so damn good around my cock.”

 

All he got for a response was her chest jerking upward.

 

“Kylo, fuck!” she spat out, eyes wide, voice shaky and her head rolled backward, spine arching as she released a long, loud cry of pleasure he’d never heard from her. Her body bucked with spasms while she convulsed, pulsated around him and coated his balls with her slickness. He continued to move, seeking his own release as she melted, boneless under him.

 

“Come inside me, fill me,” she whispered breathlessly, now peering at him from underneath, still hungry for him. “Please,” she licked her lips.

 

Hearing her undid him and he slid his cock out a bit, just enough for his tip to stay inside. It was so good he whined helplessly, letting out ragged gasps as he felt his balls clench and his shaft pump his cum inside her for the third time that day. She hummed under him, rolling her hips to receive his spend eagerly. He felt his length bathe in hot milk inside her sated folds and oh, he loved it, loved to fill her so damn much. It fulfilled all his possessive instincts and made him want to roar.

 

His head landed in the crook of her neck with a long sigh as they both tried to catch their racing breaths. She ran her fingers in his hair, feeling the dampness around his forehead. He loved when she did that, it soothed him and he relaxed against her as their heart rates came back to normality. It felt nice to stay inside her, enjoying her heat and sensation of fullness.

 

Then, he lifted his head slightly, meeting her hazel orbs. She smiled at him through satisfied eyelids, the sight of that shining half-moon making his chest burst with a powerful warm feeling. They were no need for words between them; instead, he pressed his lips against hers softly.

 

Something felt different, inside.

 

As if something deep with him had been mended. As if he’d found the missing piece.

 

For the first time since he’d been created, Kylo felt complete.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Rei jerked awake at the sound of a cry. Her eyelids fluttered as she attempted to recover her senses; her vision was hazy and her mind still clouded by sleep. As her awareness grew, she felt a warmth in her arms but it was…quivering. Her eyesight focused before she recognized Kylo’s dark room and his broad sleeping figure settled in her arms. His nose was nestled within the crook of her neck, black wisps of hair splayed across his face. He was shivering and whimpering in his sleep as if he was having yet another nightmare.

 

Slowly, she lifted a hand to his head and her fingertips gently made their way through his silky locks in an attempt to soothe him. However, his trembling, as well as low, pained moans didn’t recede, quite on the contrary; they intensified and Rei frowned in concern.

 

“Kylo…” she whispered softly before his head whipped upward and he bolted awake, startling her. She gaped at him while his frightened eyes were transfixed onto her, chest heaving up and down furiously. She could now see his face had gone white with fear.

 

"It's okay, it's okay," she murmured, caressing his naked shoulder, trailing her fingers along his neck and reaching his jaw. He released the air in his lungs before his eyes shut and his lips pressed into a hard line.

 

“Did you have another nightmare?” she questioned, now rubbing his back.

 

Their gazes locked again and Rei could observe the same inward stare as that time he’d awoken, terrified, from his dreams, the first night they spent together several weeks ago when she nursed him back to life. 

 

He nodded without a word before he sank back into the crook of her neck, as if trying to hide, while his breathing evened.

 

Rei's mind was torn between her curiosity and the fact she didn't want to upset him more than he already was. But the first option soon won the war over the second. It had been already two times he'd jolted out of his sleep with an agonizing look because of these nightmares. She needed to know. She embraced his head tightly, as if to secure him, silently telling him she was there and he was not alone. He nuzzled his nose in her chest, bumping into her breast as if their skin contact eased his tormented thoughts. Together they were a cocoon of warmth and Rei didn't want to move. Deciding it was better to ask, she gathered her strength.

 

“Kylo, what did you dream of?” she inquired, turning her voice into sweet honey.

 

At first, he didn’t stir. However, after several seconds that seemed to stretch into eternity, he lifted his dark eyes toward her and just…looked at her as if lost. Rei tilted her head to the side, admiring the constellation of moles on his pale face, where she could read he was internally debating about telling her the truth or not. Sensing he needed reassurance, she pressed. “You can tell me. It’s safe with me.”

 

His eyes dropped slightly, showing he didn't want to meet her scrutiny. His Adam's apple bobbed before she heard his voice, hoarser than usual. "Normally…I dream of my victims, pleading for mercy…But this time…," his whisper trailed off and she felt a shiver run through his body before he swallowed again. "It-it was a nightmare I always have. I-I'm in some sort of transport, there is a scream, and then, it hurts…it hurts all over but I free fall into a void…"

 

Rei’s eyebrows raised up to her forehead. That was a strange thing to dream of. She tried to phrase her question correctly as she observed him closely. “You always have this dream? Why does it scare you?”

 

It made Kylo stare at her as if he never had contemplated the question. “Yes, this dream…it always comes back. It scares me, but…I-I don’t know why…” he stuttered.

 

Rei was under the distinct impression that he was reliving a trauma. The way his jaw twitched restlessly, the way his eyes were wary and frightened along with the fact he couldn’t explain why he had this involuntary reaction added a layer of complexity to the dream sequence he’d just disclosed. The way he’d shuddered during his sleep and his moans of pain indicated he was telling the truth and was scared to death. But why? Why did he dream about this? It sounded like a standard nightmare, yet the fact he dreamed about it regularly proved it was not.

 

Yet another mystery to add to this already complex puzzle of a man. The more she knew him, the more she felt answers slip through her fingers like water; always impossible to catch.

 

All of a sudden, a familiar ginger creature leaped onto the bed, putting an end to their conversation.

 

Rei saw Kylo’s gaze soften when he saw the animal. “Hey Milly.” He extended his organic hand to her and she came cautiously, sniffing him before rubbing her pink nose against him. Then, the cat came to smell Rei, who petted her too. “Maybe she’s hungry?” she ventured.

 

“She’s always hungry,” deadpanned Kylo and Rei’s heart swelled as she observed him pet his cat lovingly. The gesture was so simple, yet the fact he cared for the animal spoke volumes of what feelings truly reigned his heart.

 

He was capable of loving. It made Rei smile brightly.

 

“Breakfast?” she asked.  

 

He nodded tiredly. “I definitely need some caffeine.”

 

“I can relate to that,” she yawned and stretched in the sheets.

 

They both scrambled out of bed; he grabbed his pair of discarded sweatpants and she pulled a long-sleeved shirt over her head, for the morning was chilly, before they went into the kitchen. Kylo first gave Milly her food while her tail wrapped around his legs and she meowed happily. Then, he put some water to boil before he took out a package of what seemed like a ground caffeinated substance.

 

They had shared their first real meal together last night, after their intense love-making, but had eaten quickly before crashing into bed together, both exhausted from the amount of sex. As she laid eyes on the counter where he'd taken her so ardently the night before, Rei's thoughts traveled back to that moment. She'd been right; sex with Kylo was absolutely mind-blowing. There was a combination of vulnerability yet intense, rough manliness in him which simply set her on fire. She smirked, knowing that more was to come, and she wasn’t about to complain.

 

She willed her treacherous brain to stop thinking about his delicious manhood and took a seat on one of the high stools around the small counter of the kitchen. She watched him prepare them some caf and mix a bowl of proteins with ersatz milk. It still felt strange to see Kylo being so…domestic, but she found she liked that side of him much more than she’d previously thought.

 

His ruffled hair, sleep-deprived eyes, and black fitted tank shirt made him look so sweet in the morning light. He looked downright adorable. Just a man in his home, tending to his daily occupations. However, the thought of him being an android crept back in her brain, making her heart pinch. She refused to dwell on their lifespan differences again and pushed it away when he offered a cup of black fuming substance and took a seat opposite her.

 

“Thank you,” she offered, bringing the cup to her lips before tasting the liquid.

 

Her eyes rounded and she forced the liquid down her throat.

 

He’d sweetened it.

 

“Is something wrong?” he asked hesitantly, arching a black brow to her surprised face. 

 

“You drink it sweet?”

 

He blinked. “Yes, why?”

 

It was her turn to bat eyelashes. “Nothing…I just, I didn’t think you liked sweet stuff,” she answered truthfully, curving her lips in a smile, causing his cheeks to turn just a shade pinker and keep a shy silence.

 

Kylo had a sweet tooth. Who in heaven would have told? It made her stomach do weird flips and she didn’t know exactly the cause. In a way, it was such a contradiction. She’d imagined him to drink caf raw and unsweetened, reflecting the lethal, dark man he could be. So, discovering he had a liking for it to be sweet seemed like a paradox; a contrast she liked, nevertheless. So much for the brutal monster he was supposed to be.

 

They ate in silence, casting each other glances before Kylo prompted her. “I want to show you something, come with me in the living room,” he said, standing up from his stool. 

 

Rei’s eyes brightened with curiosity. She finished her caf quickly and followed him to the living room, where all the lush plants were gathered under artificial lights. Milly was licking her paws on Kylo’s desk, sitting on discarded papers. There were books and a closed laptop which appeared to be very sophisticated. While Kylo opened a cupboard, Rei recognized some drafts of the letter he’d sent her on the table, as well as some drops of blood on them, causing her own to curdle in her veins.

 

Thank god Milly jumped on the desk. What would have happened if she hadn’t?

 

Rei forced herself to swallow the saliva in her throat before Kylo came to her with the same box she'd discovered in his cupboard.

 

He placed it on his desk and went to fetch a small armchair for her. She took the seat he was offering her as he sat across her on his desk chair. He then opened the chest and retrieved many beautiful drawings of plants with complex writings, as if they were botanical studies.

 

“Can I?” asked Rei, remembering how protective he’d been of those when she’d first found them. He nodded in agreement as he kept looking through the box, visibly searching for something in particular. 

 

Rei’s fingers closed on the smooth sheet of paper, feeling it under her fingertips. She brought it to her nose; the smell of old paper filled her nostrils, bringing forth long lost memories to her mind. Of a time before the fire Apocalypse. Of a foggy yet real childhood where the Earth was still alive. Before mankind relied only on machines to survive.

 

Rei marveled at the drawings; it was so out of fashion to draw on something other than a digital means nowadays. Books had disappeared long ago; paper was something rare and precious. It made these studies even more prized and dear to her heart.

 

“How did you learn how to draw so well? And to write by hand?” she asked in wonder.

 

His answer was dismissive. “I don’t know. Maybe a special computer programming in my brain?” he ventured absentmindedly as he organized the papers from the box on his desk.

 

Computer programming? That sounded weird. She was very used to android programs, and she'd never heard of such a thing. Why would somebody program Kylo to know how to draw and write? It made no sense whatsoever; she scratched her chin and frowned.

 

“I don’t know how to write with my hand. I was too young before the Apocalypse. And then…” she trailed off sadly, admiring how another drawing showed the inside of a plant and flower with many details and explanations on the side.

 

Kylo veered his head toward her. “You need a teacher.”

 

Rey’s eyes went wider than she liked. The double meaning and the way his eyes lit with a glint of mischievousness was not lost on her. “You mean…?” she asked, imitating a writing gesture with her hand, addressing the implications of his words on the surface. She took her lower lips into her teeth and saw how Kylo’s eyes narrowed to her mouth. 

 

“I could teach you how to write. And draw. It’s not difficult, you just have to observe and practice,” he said, leaning closer to her now.

 

Rei found herself chuckling, half out of shyness, half out of disbelief. “I could never reach that level of mastery in drawing. You are very talented.”

 

His lips curved in that typical half-grin of his. “Well, I could teach you how to write.”

 

She nodded, staying silent, for all the cells in her body wanted to latch onto him again. There was a moment where she could tell he was internally debating whether to kiss her - which would lead to other things - or stay serious. For once, it seemed, the latter won over the former for he cleared his throat and straightened a bit, rising his mechanical hand to pick up several pieces of paper on the desk.

 

These, however, had been scribbled with another handwriting that was not his. It was tighter and messier. There was a small sophisticated drawing of an octagon with eight flames on the corners on the first page.

 

Kylo took air into his lungs and his brow knitted seriously. “When I destroyed the laboratory, I found many things. This, however, piqued my curiosity because of this,” he said, pointing a gloved finger at writing on the top. It said something that was unreadable to Rei.

 

“What does it mean?”

 

Silently, Kylo retrieved a small object from a drawer under his desk. It was a mirror. Rei’s brow furrowed in incomprehension. He slipped the mirror behind the inking on the paper.

 

Rei’s jaw dropped to the floor.

 

The strange scripture was understandable! The person had written it for it to be only readable through a mirror.

 

“This is called specular writing. You can only read it with a mirror.”

 

Eyes wide, Rei stayed silent, utterly flabbergasted he’d discovered this, before Kylo began to read the words out loud.

 

“S.L’s plan. The Seven Lights. Death of the soul,” he read before pausing for a few seconds. “The initials “S.L” mean “Supreme Leader.”

 

Rei bristled and a cold, icy shiver ran down her spine. “What is Snoke’s plan?” she whispered, petrified.

 

Kylo exhaled through his nose. “I’m not sure about this yet. I need some more proof. But I think the Seven Lights are these,” he said, trailing the octagon’s lines and pointing at the flames one by one. “Each of them is a Light. But what it means exactly is what I still haven’t deciphered. Are they people? Places? I don’t know…” His teeth bared and his gloved fist balled up. “But “Death of the Soul” refers to what Snoke is planning. He’s drowning everyone in technology, relying on machines, so people don’t think. I have an idea of why, but…” he trailed off.

 

Fear churned in the pit of her stomach. “Why?”

 

Kylo took his chin between his two fingers and rubbed it. "I think Earth is recovering from the fire Apocalypse. The plants…I've studied them. They were not created and they didn't grow here, inside the city. The soil is from the outside world."

 

Rei’s eyes rounded impossibly big and her jaw went slack. “The outside…how is that possible?”

 

“It’s been twenty-three years since the Super Volcanoes erupted, clouding the Earth with so much dust and ash like a black night, killing everything off. But now you can see as I do that the skies are lighter and lighter. Something is going on outside. I suspect plants are growing again. Which is why Snoke wanted all this destroyed,” he said, gesturing at all the plants on his shelves. “When I saved them, they were small. And so I could witness the growing process and understand how they work.”

 

Still in awe at his revelations, Rei scratched her head as she looked at Kylo’s complex drawings. “So, you think maybe the air is less toxic? They have always said it was incredibly dangerous out there.”

 

Kylo thought for a few moments and frowned again. “Exactly. And who says that? Snoke. This is what he’s up to. He’s manipulating everyone to believe the outside world is dangerous. But I think it’s a lie.”

 

“We would need to go outside and check all this for ourselves,” said Rei. “Even if it’s risky.”

 

Their gazes met while Kylo crossed his arms over his chest. “Would you risk going with me? It could mean sickness...or death.”

 

“If it’s to save everyone from Snoke’s machinations? I would. I’m not afraid.”

 

The light in Kylo’s gaze was sucked out and turned ominous. “You will be…you will be,” his voice dropped several octaves, causing Rei’s blood to freeze. It sounded like an omen.

 

“Because he’s powerful?” she ventured, rendered a marble statue by his stare.

 

His brow furrowed darkly. “Yes. His powers come from an unnatural place. These are techniques he did not teach me, he holds them back in order to have control. I don’t even know if our combined strength could bring him down.”

 

Her throat constricted impossibly tight. What sort of power was he referring to? Her thoughts flew back to several years before - to her other master. Luke also had unnatural powers. Mind-reading, out of body experiences. He could even defy gravity. She’d seen him once, while Master San Tekka was sleeping. She’d crept upon her other master and watched him meditate, floating above the ground. Then, her mind flew elsewhere, to something else…

 

“Kylo, what is the “First Order”? You have that name tattooed on your neck,” she queried.

 

If he was impressed she’d remembered this, or that she’d link their conversation to that name, he didn’t show it. After all, he knew more than anyone she was a cop. “The First Order is a program Snoke is leading with the Starkiller Corporation. It’s a study program which works on new Androids and other…shadowy plans. They conceived the Reflectio Virus, for instance.”

 

Rei stirred with excitement in her chair. “So I was right! I knew Snoke made the virus! He’s using all this to manipulate the people and tighten his grip on this city. To dissolve the Senate, to overpower democracy!”

 

He scoffed and shrugged. “And he’s succeeding. You humans sure don’t seem to care about this,” he added dismissively.

 

Rei’s face dropped a bit, sadly acknowledging his words “I know, you’re right. They don’t care. That’s the conclusion we also came to at the Bureau,” she explained.“ But wait, what about the other virus? The one they injected into you?”

 

Kylo seemed to remember something painful for his gloved fist tightened. “I suspect they are working on pre-apocalypse viruses as a way of blackmailing people. Maybe to infect specific people, opposition, senators…”

 

Rei’s mind immediately flew to Leia and she shivered uncontrollably.

 

“Are you cold?” asked Kylo. His irises had narrowed to her arms.

 

“Oh…hm,” she glanced down at the spot he was looking at and, surely, goosebumps had broken on her forearms. “All this is giving me chills,” she confessed.

 

“Which is why I doubted telling you. I don’t want to frighten you, but this is the situation,” he apologized.

 

“You are right. I want only the truth if we are going to face all of this together.”

 

Kylo’s eye widened at her using the word “together”. His gaze turned soft, almost a caress on her figure. Before she knew, he was bending toward her and carding both hands into her hair, pulling her closer. His rich lips first brushed hers like soft feathers before they pressed more insistently, drawing her into a full mouth kiss. As she granted him access and his lips closed around hers, heat coiled in her abdomen. Suddenly, all the serious, grave matters they had been talking about only seconds ago seemed to have vanished as if by magic.

 

Unexpectedly, he broke the kiss, black long eyelashes opening to peer at her. “You’re cold. Do you want to take a hot shower?” he offered in a murmur.

 

“That would be marvelous,” she whispered back, inhaling and taking in how his skin’s scent was so manly.

 

He hesitated, chewing on the inside of his lips like he always did when he was about to ask something which made him nervous. She could see it also in the way his irises flickered and his jaw tensed. “Can I take it with you?” he finally dared to ask, as if the question was some sort of trespassing.

 

She felt her cheeks flush, knowing exactly what those dark, burning eyes had in mind. Her anticipation skyrocketed and she bit her lips. “Why not? I’d like that,” she answered, suddenly feeling shy again, rubbing a hand around her neck. 

 

Before she could do anything else, he stood up and grabbed her by the waist, turning her around and shoving her right into his arms.

 

Lord, she should not be excited to feel like she weighed nothing in his stronghold, but she was powerless to prevent that feeling from emerging inside her chest. Slightly giddy, she wrapped her arms around his neck while he carried her to his bathroom. 

 

He voice-commanded the shower on and dropped her cautiously. In the blink of an eye, his mouth was on hers once more and he pushed her against the sink as the bathroom progressively filled with steam. He licked the seam of her lips and invited himself inside, mouth parted against hers as he took in her taste. As he increased the pressure of his body onto her, she felt the outline of his erection push into her lower stomach. She muffled a moan into his mouth when he rubbed himself against her, causing dampness to appear between her legs. They hadn't had sex yet today and even if she feared she'd be sore from the previous day, there was no denying how much she wanted him inside her again. The feeling of completion, of wholeness when he made love to her was too powerful to be fought against. She'd never had such powerful orgasms in her entire life.  Dropping her apprehensions, she let her body react instinctively to their shared desire.

 

His hands trailed down, finding the hem of her shirt. Releasing her glistening lips, he took the liberty to slip it over her head, revealing her naked chest and breasts. She immediately covered herself, before his hands grabbed her wrists gently and lowered them, giving him the full view of her already pebbled nipples. He forced his spine down and his tongue darted down to them, running his tongue over them and eliciting soft moans from her throat. He suckled and played with one breast stuffed in his mouth, wetting it all around while his organic hand massaged the other. Her neck tipped backward as she enjoyed all of it.

 

He stopped, earning himself a grunt of protest, only to straighten and take off his shirt, followed by his sweatpants, revealing his swollen manhood springing out straight, as if knowing exactly where its target was.

 

She was about to wrap her hand around him before he interrupted her, taking his glove off. “Should we go into the shower?” he prompted. White puffy steam had filled the room, dancing around them like clouds. 

 

She nodded, taking off her leggings and laced panties while he stepped under the water. She soon followed and hummed at the sensation of the hot water over her head, cascading down her chest and backside. She enjoyed the pelting sound for a moment before rubbing the water out of her face to peer at him.

 

He was staring at her in awe. His black hair was dripping while tiny drops of water sprinkled his eyelashes. His dark chocolate eyes were mesmerizing; two magnets she was inexorably drawn to. She allowed her eyes to trail the small trickles of water down his powerful frame and mechanical limbs. His erection had softened a bit, but even without it being so swollen, he was still impressive. His whole appearance was mouth-watering.

 

He tore his gaze from her to pump a flask, which released soap into his organic hand. “Should I wash your back?” he offered with the ghost of a grin on his lips.

 

Rei felt as if she’d been invited to play a new type of erotic game and a thrill ran through her at the thought. “Please,” she said, turning around against the glass window and stepping a bit out of the water’s reach. She offered her back - and ass - to him. He bridged the small gap between them and she instantly felt his manhood brush her buttocks while his organic hand made slow circles with the soap around her back and up her shoulders, causing it to foam. He diligently rubbed her skin before his mecho hand pushed away her wet hair and his mouth kissed the slope of her shoulders. He laid small kisses upward toward her neck and nibbled softly at her earlobe. She felt his erection harden against her lower back and she pressed backward to squeeze him, his deep hum vibrating in the shell of her ear. 

 

His hands slid to her chest and he soaped her breasts, massaging her and washing her at the same time. Gently, he grabbed her waist and, never tearing his body from hers, he invited her to come under the shower spray again to rise her off. The water rained down their intertwined bodies, the soap and foam disappearing in rivers down her skin, leaving it smooth and shiny. Kylo had resumed his massaging her breast, his hips bucking against her in slow motion.

 

The way he massaged her had the distinct effect of turning her blood into lava. Heat pooled inside her core and she rubbed her ass onto his manhood teasingly, taking him between her two cheeks as his hands fastened on her ass to better guide his movements on her slippery skin.

 

She stopped torturing him, turned around slowly and their gazes met. His eyes had morphed into two burning embers, as hot as the water and steam around them.

 

“My turn,” she whispered, now driving some soap into her hand. He was about to turn around to give her his back, but she fastened a hand on his shoulder, preventing him to move. “Don’t…” she said, landing a soapy hand on his chest.

 

On the one hand, there was touching Kylo’s chest, and then, on the other, there was drawing circles there, spreading the soap onto his soft, supple skin, and feeling all his muscles underneath her touch while the water drizzled down his frame. The combination of touch and sight enhanced her perception of his body, causing her to bite her lips and rub her thighs in a desperate attempt to alleviate her increasing arousal.

 

She glanced down quickly. Lord save her from the sinful thoughts that materialized in her mind at that very moment, for the sight of him, hard and ready for her, gave her other ideas. 

 

Slowly, she reached for his hardness and started to palm him with her soaped hand and he released a soft, pleasured sound. It seemed impossible for him to tear his gaze from her; he watched her stroke him gently, the soft skin of his length moving under her hand in the most exquisite motion.

 

She let go of him and he let the air out of his lungs as if he’d kept it for too long. She gathered some water in both hands and rinsed his manhood, before peering from underneath her eyelashes at him. He looked so handsome with his wet hair and molten irises, pleading her to resume her attentions.

 

She voice-commanded the water to turn off, earning her a quirked eyebrow of puzzlement.

 

"I want to taste you," she said. The word escaped her mouth before she could prevent herself. It caused his eyes to round and lips to part, as if he wanted to say something but his vocal cords had suddenly taken a holiday. "I-I don't know how to do this," she confessed. She felt a rush of embarrassment flush her cheeks.

 

His voice came back to him. “I-I can tell you what I like, maybe?” he ventured as the same embarrassment made his own features blush.

 

She silently agreed with a slight nod of her head and without tearing her eyes from him, she slithered down to the tile floor.

 

She’d only seen this in theory - thank god porn sites existed - but in practice? That was something else. She licked her lips while her hand rose to his wrap around his shaft - which they barely did - pumping him softly and exposing his foreskin. His pre-cum was quick in finding the exit and she spread it a bit. Her tongue reached for his velvety tip and she tasted him; he was a mixture of salt and sweetness, the perfect contradiction that was all Kylo.

 

She took him in her mouth and he let a hiss of air escape his throat, shutting his eyes tight as if the sensation was already too much to bear. Her tongue circled his shaft, licking him teasingly before she took a mouthful of him and sucked.

 

He muttered a "fuck" while his mecho hand darted to grab the handle of the shower as if his knees were about to give in. Rei knew she wasn't doing so bad.

 

Please, again,” he begged, voice transforming into a pleading whisper.

 

Before she complied, she licked him underneath the head, playing with him, soft and warm tongue discovering him in new ways. Then she swallowed him deeper, her cheeks hollowing with hard sucks and she felt him throb as if containing himself not to come on the spot. He growled, low, deep, a vibration which sounded almost like an animal.

 

“Fuck…fuck don’t stop, that’s so good,” he pleaded through gritted teeth. “Stroke me a bit.”

 

She mercifully didn’t stop but added her hand, making the skin on his cock move as she enveloped as much of him as she could.

 

Saying he was a full course meal was not an understatement. She feasted on him, chest swelling with pride as she saw his head roll backward and gasp in delight when his cock bumped at the back of her throat, causing her to gag slightly.

 

She was just getting used to his size and taste when he abruptly carded a hand in her hair and pulled, just enough to yank her away from his groin.

 

“What -” she cried in protest.

 

“I’m going to come,” he said, panting hard.

 

She was about to say that was the idea, but she didn’t have time. He slipped his hand under her shoulders, pulled her to her full height, and turned her around sharply, pushing her against the glass window and laying a hand on her back for her to present her bottom to him.

 

Oh.

 

That’s what he wanted.

 

What she didn’t expect was the hard slap on her ass. She squeezed her eyes shut; it was a punishing slap, not a gentle one. Then he slapped her again on the other buttock.

 

“Shit, I want to fuck you so bad,” he hissed between frustration and arousal. “You made me so hard.”

 

His organic hand slid between their bodies and his fingers trailed down, underneath, to find her treasures. He hummed lowly in approval at his discovery. She wasn’t even ashamed of how drenched she was for him.

 

“You’re soaked…you liked sucking my cock?” he teased as his fingers spread her arousal around her labia. 

 

“Yes,” she answered honestly and without shame. Why wouldn't she? She’d enjoyed all of it and would have gladly continued had he not stopped her. “Next time, I’ll suck you to the end,” she mused, happy to tease him with erotic thoughts, causing him to slap her rear end once more, then grab it firmly.

 

“Dirty girl,” he grunted before his wet torso connected with her back and his greedy hands traveled to her chest, massaging her small tits, fondling and licking her all over as if he wanted to eat her alive. His calloused organic fingers slid against her damp skin as she folded into his frame, letting him dwarf her with his warmth, ass pressed against his needy manhood. He kissed her shoulders and neck.

 

“Do you want this?” he asked with a deep bass. “Do you want me to fill you again?”

 

The question made her heart swell; the fact he wanted to make sure he wasn’t forcing himself upon her showed how much he cared. How important it was to him that she wanted him back.

 

Please,” was the only thing she felt capable of voicing after his caresses. Her eyes closed shut as he continued to kiss the juncture between her ear. His hand lowered so it was now circling her clit once more, causing raw, untamed desire to invade her core.

 

She knew each time she begged for him made something inside him snap. His hand left her slit and moved to bend her back forward and he parted her legs with his knees. Her hands glided up the glass window and she offered herself to him, arching herself in a perfect angle for him to penetrate her. He caressed her ample cheeks again, before she felt his tip at her entrance, rubbing against her wetness.

 

The fact she couldn’t see what he was doing was oddly exhilarating. She braced herself for the intrusion, and her body tensed ever so slightly when his hips thrust forward.  She felt his girth slide effortlessly inside her, stretching her pussy with its thickness. He let a lewd growl of pleasure escape the back of his throat while she moaned at the incredible sensation.

 

She loved to feel him inside, but taking him from behind was strangely even more enjoyable. She obviously wasn’t the only one to feel it, since he’d paused behind her as if trying to rein himself in. When he moved, his movements were slow and controlled.

 

She whimpered hotly as he took her, pinned against the wall, and she let her head fall between her arms. Her entire body rocked with his slow thrusts, but each of them was oh so deep and she felt his tip bump her cervix. It felt so good she started to pant when she felt him slide out and back in, each stroke as glorious as the one before. His lovemaking was so fucking intense.

 

“Touch yourself,” he commanded lowly.

 

She grunted in protest, closing her eyes, refusing to comply. He arched his body over hers, embracing hers again. His wet skin felt like it had been set on fire. His organic hand came to her neck and fastened around it, drawing her closer to him, his hot breath in the shell of her ear. Instinctively, she arched her back to receive him better and slid her legs to the side a bit. He resumed pumping slow and so, so deep inside her she could feel his balls squeeze as he stuffed her pussy with his hard cock.

 

“Touch yourself. I’m not going to last,” he ordered again, driving hard right in her center, reaching unexpected regions of her soaked womanhood.

 

She felt drunk with lust and did as he commanded. She hated to admit how him ordering her around made her drool for him. Snaking a hand between her thighs, she reached her clit and rubbed herself.

 

“Good girl,” he whispered while his hand squeezed her neck just a bit more and he kissed her earlobe and licked it. His hips connected with her ass at a steady rhythm, thick length pleasuring her relentlessly, taking her higher and higher, making her entire body bounce. 

 

In this position, she was completely at his mercy; the feeling was odd but so good she was about to scream and her knees were menacing to give in. As he filled her over and over, a wave rose inside her, but she needed more - she arched her spine and grinded backward, desperate for more of him.  

 

“Faster, please,” she entreated.

 

Upon hearing her, he let go of her throat and he straightened behind her, grabbing both sides of her ass with an iron grip. He hammered his hips into hers from behind, giving her what she wanted. His rocking pressed her against the glass window and she tried to steady herself, one hand flat against it while her other ran faster over her bud and her small breasts bounced with the intense pummeling she was taking. She peered behind her shoulder and saw he’d titled his head backward, mouth open in sheer ecstasy.

 

“Yes, it’s so good, so fucking good,” he whined, rolling his head forward again, his deep rumble fraught with lust. “I want to fill you again with my cum.”

 

The squelching sounds of his cock plunging in and out of her were obscene and she could feel her arousal drip and ooze down her inner thighs. His thick cock was just so perfect… and her wave was ascending so high it was about to break. Just a bit more, just a bit - she constricted her walls around him, making him moan out loud.

 

“Oh fuck, I’m gonna come,” he warned through gritted teeth.

 

Don’t stop, Kylo don’t-” she shouted at him, gasping, lungs failing to find air.

 

He didn’t stop. His hips slapped against her furiously, hands digging in her flesh as he pounded into her with all his might, fucking her so much her eyes rolled with ecstasy. They cried out at the same time and came at crashing speed; with one hard, deep thrust, he buried himself inside her walls with a loud groan, making her jolt and quiver as her wave finally crested and washed all over her. He continued to probe, spilling his cream inside, panting and moaning as she rode her orgasm until his balls were empty.

 

He exhaled sharply behind her and she tried to catch her breath, head moving up and down to seek air.

 

He rested his forehead onto her back while she leaned against the cold glass window.

 

After a few moments of recovery, Kylo trailed a finger onto her damp skin.

 

“Stay with me one more night,” he pleaded and she could practically feel he was praying for her to agree.

 

“It wasn’t my intention to leave,” she replied truthfully.

 

He sighed in relief and pressed a loving kiss to her back, silently thanking her.

 

She knew she had to leave for work tomorrow and didn’t want to part from him either. As a matter of fact, she didn’t want to part from him ever again, and her heart cried thinking about their situation. She knew she couldn’t continue like this. It was mental torture and it was tearing her apart.

 

The solution to all her doubts appeared in her mind as a revelation.

 

A resolution formed in her chest, solid and clear.  

 

Tomorrow, she would test his semen to find out if he was truly an android.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

This was it. Rei knew that nothing, absolutely nothing, enraptured her nerves more than the feeling of Kylo’s strong fingers fastened around her ass and his tongue worshiping her slippery folds as he devoured her from behind. He lapped her greedily as she was pinned onto his desk while her skirt was pulled up over her waist.

 

Kneeling behind her, his nose nuzzled at her labia and his plush lips glided over and explored her in this new position. After giving long swipes which drove her to the edge of madness, the tip of his tongue delved into her entrance, slurping the dampness there with low hums of appreciation.

 

He suddenly let go of her and spanked her buttock with his gloved hand, something Rei noticed he did when he was feeling too aroused. “You’re such a tease. Did you think I was going to let you go to work like this, dressed in that red mini skirt of yours?” His deep rumble vibrated along her pussy, causing her to squirm with need.

 

She was grateful he couldn’t see the smirk which crept on her face as she looked back at the wall before her. Oh, if you only knew…

 

It was Monday morning. She had gotten up very early and still wasn’t due to step into the office for two solid hours, but she’d showered and dressed in an outfit she knew would make Kylo’s desire skyrocket. She needed to tempt him enough so he would give her what she needed, both physically…and for science. She’d come over to his desk to see him after her shower, dressed in a fitted crop top showing both midriff and cleavage and a mini red skirt, molding all her assets. At first, she’d packed the outfit just in case she wanted to look desirable, but now it was a valuable tool for what she had in mind. 

 

The look on his features when he’d turned to face her had been utterly priceless. She’d seen the precise moment where his chocolate eyes had melted into hot, steaming charcoals. “Are you going to work…dressed like this?” he’d asked, jealousy bubbling at the surface of his words, mouth slightly agape. How his pants had stretched between his legs had not been lost on her. 

 

She’d feigned innocence, curling a lock of her wet hair around her finger and tilting her head to the side. “What is it? You don’t like it?”

 

He’d risen to his full height with a possessive look painted all over his features. “Are you serious? Or are you teasing me?” he queried, voice dropping several octaves while his burning eyes pierced right through her.

 

She met his stare and licked her lips. “Maybe I am,” she mused with a knowing smile.

 

The next thing she’d known, he had assaulted her mouth and run his hands over her body and behind, squeezing and feeling all of her. Then he’d swiftly turned her around and pushed her against the desk he’d been working at only minutes ago, skirt lifted quickly, laced panties pushed aside for his tongue to seek her pussy as if his life depended on him eating her out.

 

He now gave another lick and suckled on her drenched folds, drawing circles with his tongue; it was so, so fucking good she was starting to get eager for his cock.

 

He gave a long, teasing lick and stopped. “Do you want me to fuck you?”

 

She veered her face toward him and nodded.

 

“Say it. Say it. Louder.”

 

She contented herself with the word she knew would unleash the lion inside him.

 

Please…”

 

Her plea was met with a low grunt as he gave several small slaps on her butt. His hand fastened around her thigh and he slid it upward so her knee would bend over the desk, granting him better access to her intimate parts. He lifted her ass a bit more and crouched underneath her. His lips darted back to her labia, running along her soaked flesh, savoring her taste while his throat emitted lewd, guttural sounds showing how much he enjoyed this. His tongue flicked mercilessly around her pink bud before he closed around it and suckled, repeating the gesture several times and causing Rei to close her eyes.

 

“God, Kylo…” she moaned in bliss. “I want your cock,” she prompted.

 

That made him stop. She peered over her shoulder when he released her and straightened behind her. Dark embers locked with her heated hazel ones. Silently, he wiped his glistening mouth and chin with his gloved hand, a raw detail that sent a shiver down Rei's spine. She saw his hand snake into his pants, setting his hardness free. He licked his organic hand and grabbed it, wetting it and palming himself as his hungry eyes roamed over her figure, spread before him over his desk, all ready for him. She could practically read it in his eyes. Only him.

 

He settled his strong mecha-arm on one side of the desk and with the other pushed her panties over her ass and guided his length to enter her core. His organic hand came to frame the other side of her back, and he used his weight to sink inside her. She felt his tip push home and gasped; air escaped his lips too as he embedded himself deep inside slowly, stretching her inner, textured walls.

 

His mouth brushed her earlobe, and his fingers curled a lock of her hair behind her ear as he inhaled her scent sharply.

 

“Is that what you want?” he murmured, his breath making the small hairs on her neck prickle.

 

“Yes…” she answered breathlessly.

 

He thrust his hips, meeting the curve of her cheeks, and she felt him slide his hardness in and out of her, pulling out to the tip and stroking back inside, taking her deep and slow against his desk. As their bodies fused, Rei was powerless not to moan under the intensity of his lovemaking. His lips found the nape of her neck; he laid soft, delicate kisses between his pushes; he sometimes stopped a few seconds, which gave Rei the opportunity to breathe, before snapping back in, a bit harder each time.

 

A familiar wave was surging within her, when, most unexpectedly, he pulled out, earning him a loud grunt of protest on her behalf.

 

She didn’t have time to ask why; his mouth had found her pussy once more, and he licked and slurped all her creams with an eagerness that immediately made Rei lightheaded.

 

A pleased whimper escaped the back of her throat. “Ah - do you…want to kill me?” she managed to say with a strangled voice; the sensation of his tongue on her swollen folds was both soothing and incredibly delightful. 

 

“I told you, you need to be punished,” he teased.

 

Before she knew it, he ceased his ministrations and slid his hands around her chest, lifting her upwards; her back connected with his solid torso. His hand traveled to her breasts, and he fondled them while Rei closed her eyes under his caresses. She pushed back against him, squeezing his erection between their bodies.

 

Suddenly, he turned her around and granted her with a kiss; his lips smelled like both of them, and Rei found it wasn’t disagreeable to taste herself there. His parted lips begged for hers as she arched backward, seeking his eyes - but he lifted her upward and locked his hands under her ass, as if she were a mere feather. She instinctively wrapped her arms and thighs around him to steady herself as he carried her to his room.

 

She found his eyes at last, and he looked upon her as if her presence was that of a goddess’. “Why did you stop?” she dared to ask, part of her not wanting to break the moment while the other part was curious.

 

“I want to see you when you come,” was his plain, straight answer.

 

Oh.

 

He deposited her on his mattress and came down above her at the same time, bracing his weight with his arms so as not to crush her. He settled himself between her parted legs while he kissed and licked her neck, finding the spot beneath her ear. His lips feathered downward over her skin, finding her breasts and taking one into his mouth, playing with it and eliciting a moan from her. His hands soon darted to her skirt, which was still on her hips, and he pulled the garment as well as her soaked panties down her legs as he straightened. 

 

In the blink of an eye, his broad figure hovered over her once more, his arms framing her as he settled between her thighs. His erection seemed about burst; he looked so hard that Rei was almost in pain for him.

 

Without taking his eyes off her, he plunged inside again - and he picked up his pace. He caged her onto his mattress while his lower stomach connected with hers, rubbing her clit in utmost perfection while he shoved himself inside her faster and harder by the second. Her hands wrapped around his back, nails faintly scratching his skin, and she shifted her pelvis to take him deeper while she whispered soft moans.

 

He rocked her whole body with his firm thrusts, sweat starting to bead on both their foreheads with the effort. The bed creaked under them, the sound of their lovemaking making her giddy. A raw energy started to coil inside her belly, strong and powerful, and Rei whimpered over and over as it rose steadily with each of his hammerings. 

 

“Harder,” she pleaded without shame. 

 

He gaped at her in silence, features drowning in lust. He straightened slightly above her, she unfastened her arms from his back, and his gloved mecho hand came to wrap around her neck.

 

Her eyes rounded slightly, and she could see sheer hunger dancing in his own while his fingers closed around her throat just a bit more, causing her breath to hitch. His black locks swung over his face while he pumped in and out of her harder, deeper. The feeling of him around her neck, slightly choking her, made her head tilt backward. She could feel the blood rush to her face and the heat come to a boil in her core, causing her to open her mouth in an o-shape and whine helplessly in delight. She contacted her silky walls all around his length, eliciting a low growl of pleasure from his throat. 

 

“Come for me,” he commanded in a deep bass.

 

With his hand fastened around her throat, she was incapable of speaking. His hard cock pumped her frantically now, making her small tits bounce. She saw him bite his lips, taking his lower one in his teeth. His reckless thrusts in her velvety folds were so sloppy that the noise was downright obscene. He applied more pressure on her throat, and his organic hand gave her a small slap on the cheek, causing her head to spin.

 

She whined with rapture as she saw how he worked his lip, eyes nailing her to the bed.  The raw, possessive gesture made her blood come to a boil with untamed desire.

 

“Come on my cock,” he ordered more firmly now, giving her another slap on the other cheek while he pleasured her soaked pussy. His face was red with both pleasure and effort as he pounded into her relentlessly.

 

She didn’t know if it was his fingers around her neck, making her lack oxygen, or his possessiveness that was oddly exhilarating, but she came at the speed of light, opening her lips wide with a loud cry. She saw his mouth drop as he watched her come and he released his grasp on her throat.

 

But her wave didn’t break or roll completely. Instead, she felt the heat continue to flow in her veins like fuel.

 

“Kylo…fuck, don’t stop, don’t stop.” It was her turn to command him breathlessly, oxygen coming back to her.

 

He stared at her with a mixture of incomprehension and surprise but did as he was told. He straightened again, trying to catch his breath as he delved inside her with a deep thrust, hitting her cervix hard. Rei groaned at the loss of pressure over her bud, slithered a hand to her drenched, swollen folds, and rubbed her clit fast.

 

“Don’t stop, please, I’m gonna come again,” she begged him between hot pants.

 

Kylo was completely out of breath. Stopping for a split second but never coming out of her, he shifted his weight, sliding his body to lay at her side, taking her leg in his strong arm as his cock resumed hammering her pussy from behind so fast that she felt his balls hit her entrance.

 

Her head tilted to the side to look at his flushed features, the sweat dripping from his face, the wisps of black hair sticking to his forehead. She imagined she wasn’t doing any better, for her face felt scorching hot.

 

“Come on my cock again,” he entreated, grabbing her breasts with his organic hand and plunging into her, pleasing her pussy as if it were the last thing he was going to do before dying of a stroke.

 

“God, your cock is so fucking good,” she yelped in sheer ecstasy, not quite recognizing her own voice. He was a drug - an addiction. There was no denying how much she reveled in him fucking her senseless, losing his own self in the process. His darkness and inner violence were barely controlled as he complied with everything she begged for - she’d never felt such darkness inside her, as if he was inside her, as if their minds had fused with their raw lovemaking.

 

She continued to rub her flesh, causing her wave to rise like a tsunami, higher, stronger than the first, and her walls squeezed his throbbing erection harder than ever, threatening to push him out. From the corner of her eye, she saw him roll his head backward in bliss and tilt forward again, as if he was struggling not to come on the spot. The snapping sounds of his hips hitting her from behind was the only thing she heard apart from the thundering of the blood in her ears. She felt the beads of sweat run down her face and between her breasts and panted hard, searching for air as they fucked the wits out of one another.

 

“Come on, come again on my hard cock,” he commanded with a hiss, “and I’ll fill you up good.”

 

“Yes, send me to work dripping with your cum,” she begged hotly, amazed by her boldness.

 

She heard him mutter a curse as he brought his organic hand to his mouth and bit it hard; his dark pupils had dilated completely and were burning a hole right through her. He was on the verge of release, and seeing the way he struggled with his lust made her wave hit the skies and the seven stars. The energy broke inside her like a dam too full to contain the waters.

 

“Fuck, Kylo!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, rolling her head backward and emitting the longest, most sinful moan of her existence. She heard him release a feral, animalistic growl with a hard, deep thrust as he finally, finally allowed himself to come. His whole body quivered and stilled suddenly, and she felt his cock throb and pump all of his milk inside her with ragged breaths of pleasure and relief.

 

With a last, low grunt, Kylo crashed on his side and hot pants filled the silence of his apartment. Both their chests heaved up and down, trying to catch the little oxygen left in the room. She saw him wipe away the sweat that had accumulated on his forehead and peer at her, still out of breath.

 

His manhood was softening, and he slowly pulled out of her; Rei grumbled at the loss of his fullness. He leaned over to grant her with a small peck before his dark, worn-out eyes sought hers. The fire in them had disappeared; they had come back to their usual soft brown with a hint of vulnerability. Some unspoken words were simmering behind them as his gaze caressed her features.

 

His lips parted slightly, and words seemed to be blocked somewhere in his throat. “I-I love you,” he finally managed to whisper.

 

It was her jaw’s turn to go slack. She gaped at him as if she couldn’t believe what he’d just confessed… he’d already said it once, but their circumstances had changed completely. This time, her heart knew what to answer. She’d already almost lost him once; she wasn’t going to lose him a second time to her self-doubts and fears.

 

“I love you too,” she replied, her answer almost shy on her lips. Opening one’s legs and one’s heart were two very different things, she thought. After the most intense lovemaking they had ever shared, this confession seemed even more intimate, even more raw. It made all the nerves of her body prickle. She knew their connection wasn’t just physical; it was because their feelings ran deep that their physical encounters were so overwhelming. The realization that her heart harbored such deep feelings for him solidified her resolution to find out if he was truly an android. 

 

At first, his throat worked and his gaze showed he didn’t quite believe what he’d just heard.

 

“Y-you do?” he asked again, as if wanting to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.

 

Rei understood that the roots of doubt still sprouted their leaves in his heart. She leaned toward him a bit, and her fingers trailed his jawline as she sank into the infinite wells of his dark irises. “I’d rather live all the days of your lifetime with you than spend all of my existence with another man.”

 

Upon hearing her, his gaze turned glassy and his Adam’s apple bobbed. She was quite certain he wouldn’t have been able to talk even if he wanted to. Without a word, he pressed his lips to hers, as if silently thanking her and whatever gods still existed in this forsaken world.

 

When they broke the kiss, his fingers caressed her cheek, and Rey smiled at him through hooded lids. “Was I punished enough?” she teased, using humor to alleviate the emotional moment she wasn’t quite ready to face now that she had to go to work.

 

He chuckled at the change of subject and tone. “I think you were truly trying to kill me. I thought my heart was going to stop at one point back there.”

 

Her lips curved into a wide smile. “Yeah…and I have to go to work,” she deadpanned.

 

“Are you going to go nice and full of my cum?” he cracked, the ghost of a smile threatening to break on his face and changing his every feature, before his lips dropped back down as he saw her staring at him. “What is it?”

 

“You know, you should get laid more often. You look so much nicer with a smile on your face,” she said with a light laugh.

 

She reveled in the way his cheeks suddenly powdered pink and his eyes rounded; however, he  soon composed himself. “Is that an invitation?”

 

Rei beamed at him but stayed silent before rolling off the bed. “I have to get going. I have to be at the office early today,” she excused herself.

 

Kylo propped himself onto his elbow while he watched her clean herself a bit and aim for her bag, where she took out some fresh clothes. “Oh, so you really were teasing me, weren’t you? That was your plan from the very beginning,” he said in realization, and Rei couldn’t shake off the tinge of relief that was seeing her change into more…decent clothes. Rei let the mischievous smirk she cast him speak for itself.

 

He scrambled out of the bed too and sat on the edge before propelling himself up, grabbing his sweatpants, and fastening the strings around his hips. She heard him follow her as she was leaving the room into the corridors toward the entrance. Before opening the door, she turned to face him.

 

Their eyes met in the middle. This time, he seemed to be willing to let her go without a sad puppy look on his face. However, he bit his lip and his gloved hand fisted around his pants, seemingly hesitant to say something. She tilted her head to the side as an invitation, and he cleared his throat. “I, hm, wanted to know if I could invite you somewhere tonight. Have dinner together, outside, maybe?” he asked with a voice full of hesitation.

 

She couldn’t repress a giggle. “A-are you asking me on a date?”

 

His jaw firmed, his eyes darted downward, and his entire face flushed crimson. His gloved hand came to rub his neck, and the whole scene threatened to make Rei’s heart melt on the spot. “I-I, well, hm...I guess so?”

 

He was asking her on a date…after all the mind-blowing sex, he was shy to ask her out! It was the most adorable thing she’d ever witnessed. “I’d like that…” she answered while one of her fingers trailed his scar up his chest and neck, marveling at how his eyes lit as he drank in her answer. “Is it safe for you to go out…you know, for Snoke?” she asked with concern.

 

“Don’t worry. I was trained by him and know his methods. He won’t find me.”

 

Rei exhaled with relief. “Okay then, text me during the day with where to meet?” she ventured.

 

He nodded and bent to catch her mouth. With parted lips he pressed against hers, and his tongue licked her lower lip and came to dance with hers, rolling on the roof of her mouth; the contact sent a chill down her spine. She chastised herself: he’d just made her come twice in a row, and she still could jump him. His kiss was loving and passionate, and she had to apply all her will power to break it.

 

With a repressed pant, she locked eyes with him. “I’ll see you later then,” she said with the firm intention of leaving.

 

“Okay,” he whispered, depositing a last, chaste kiss before letting her go with an expression she had a hard time reading. A disagreeable feeling invaded her as she looked upon him before the door slid closed, but she had no idea why and pushed it aside as she left his apartment building. It was only her fears kicking in, nothing else. Right?

 

*

 

“Young lady, are you telling me you’ve had sex with him without using birth control?” reprimanded a very angry Maz as Rei sank into the chair on the other side of her desk at the hospital, after confessing everything that had happened between them the last week.

 

Rei’s throat constricted impossibly tight. Indeed, put that way, it sounded like the stupidest decision on earth. Why hadn’t she thought about this before? However, the answer came naturally to her, as clear as the sunrise on the horizon in the morning.

 

“Maz…” she said, looking down shamefully at her lap and picking at a loose thread on her pants. “I-I didn’t think about it because I didn’t want to believe there was a chance of him being human. I-I don’t know how I’ll deal with the fact he’s an android…I just repressed the whole idea of him being human, I don’t want to be hurt…” she said as her eyes watered. 

 

“But what if he is human?” stressed the doctor.

 

Rei’s eyes flashed up to hers. “I would be the happiest person on this planet. But I don’t want to hope. I-I…”

 

“You fear abandonment all over again, don’t you?”

 

Rei refused to meet her stare, for she knew the unshed tears would fall if she did. How could she ever survive without him if he was to die before her? If he just had a couple more years to go? She would be all alone again. After having spent the most amazing moments with him for two days, the thought was heartbreaking, unbearable. So she contented herself with staring at the thread she was picking in her lap and nodded.

 

She heard Maz stand up, for her chair grated lightly against the floor, before she came around the desk. Within Rei’s eyesight appeared a hand. She took the small, tanned fingers into hers and dared to lift her gaze to the elder woman’s welcoming one.

 

“My dear child, the belonging you seek is not behind you. It is ahead.”

 

Rei’s throat went dry, but her cheeks went damp. It was now impossible for her to control the tears dripping down her face, but she stayed silent.

 

“There, there. I need to examine you since I am sure you never had a proper gynecological exam in your life, right? And we will retrieve…that sample. Have faith, my child. You need to know the truth.”

 

Rei acquiesced with a curt nod and sniffed while she wiped the tears off with her palm. “Please, nobody can know about this Maz…” she added sadly.

 

“Worry not. This is medical secrecy. And since he’s listed as an android, you have the legal right to do this without him knowing,” explained the elder, who invited her to stand and follow her to a medical bed behind a curtain.

 

“Get undressed and lie down up there; try to relax. Normally, I have a special droid for this, but in this case I will examine you myself,” said Maz casually while she unwrapped some medical tools from small plastic sterilized containers.

 

Rei unceremoniously undressed, leaving her clothes on a nearby stool. Anxiety got the best of her, although she knew Maz was a professional. The whole situation and her doing this without Kylo’s knowledge made her feel sick to her stomach. But she had no other choice, so she hopped onto the medical bed and lay down as Maz had told her to.

 

Maz gently grabbed and inserted Rei’s feet into some strange contraptions that made her legs part, and she thought it was arguably better to open her legs for Kylo than for this.

 

“Breathe, just breathe,” invited Maz. “I know it’s stressful the first time; just try to relax.”

 

While Maz settled between her legs, Rei tried to apply the breathing exercises that Lor had taught her so many years ago. She shut her eyelids and focused on the little light inside her, something that had always been there; she visualized it flickering and calling to her while her breathing steadied.

 

She was distracted by Maz inserting a cold, metallic instrument inside her core. The feeling was utterly disagreeable. She winced and opened her eyes to see what she was doing, but the doctor’s startled face made her head go right back down.

 

“Rei…one question. Just…how many times did you have sexual encounters with Kylo?”

 

Rei felt her cheeks flush various shades of red. Her fingers tightened, and she cleared her throat to ease her nerves. “Well, hm, quite a few…why? Is there a problem?”

 

“When was the last one?” asked Maz in the most professional tone.

 

Rei’s face was burning bright at this point. She tried to focus on a stain on the ceiling and not on Maz. “Th-this morning…I wanted to make sure-”

 

“Oh, that explains why you are swollen. Okay, so let me get this straight, you basically jumped the man all weekend?” The tease was audible in the elder woman’s voice.

 

At this point, Rei was mortified, and all she wanted to do was throw herself out the hospital window. “Hu-hum,” she acquiesced dismissively.

 

“Dear, I have lived a long life. First loves are intense and passionate. You have nothing to feel ashamed of,” said Maz while she scraped Rei’s insides with a small tool, which felt as if she was dusting her inner corridors but fortunately didn’t hurt. “It shows you enjoyed yourself. I take it that mountain of a man is…well endowed?”

 

“Maz!” Rei screeched indignantly.

 

The elder chuckled loudly. “I was just asking!” she mused, before her tone got more serious. “Did you like it with him? Sometimes the first times can be painful,” she said while palpitating Rei’s insides with her gloved fingers.

 

Rei collected herself and tried to hide how embarrassed she felt. However, despite the awkwardness of the situation, she sensed she could speak her heart. “He-he’s an amazing lover. I never thought he’d be so good in bed.”

 

There, she’d said it. Confessed the whole, entire truth.

 

“I’m glad to hear that, my dear. And here we go! All set!” Maz exclaimed, showing her a small glass flask as if her asking questions had merely been a distraction.


“You’re already done?” asked Rei, confused. “That was quick.”

 

“You have no problems. Fresh as a flower. And here we have our semen sample. It is mixed with your fluids, but there was enough to gather let’s say.”

 

Rei veered her face to the side so as not to meet the smirk on Maz’s face. At least that intense make-out session with Kylo had been not only pleasurable but useful. “Wh-when will you know…?”

 

“It should be ready during the day. I tease you, but it was important that the semen be fresh, so your intuitions served you well. Now, we have to see what birth control to administrate you in case it turns out to be…fertile.”

 

Rei’s eyes rounded slightly. “You mean…I could get pregnant?”

 

“That’s exactly what I’m implying, young lady, and why I was mad that you didn’t protect yourself. You are still very young to have children,” explained the elder, going back to her desk.

 

Rei stayed silent for a long moment and when she looked up at Maz once more, the old woman was typing quickly on a computer and swiping her fingers along the screen. Rei came to sit in front of her after having put her clothes back on, staying silent as the doctor was concentrating. But Maz spoke again, eyes transfixed on the screen as she read the information in whispers. 

 

“Okay…here we go. I have the perfect implant for you. It has a very solid record of tolerance, and it’s really the best we have in stock. Wait a moment, I will fetch it and have a droid insert it right away,” she said, rising from her seat and darting out of the room, leaving Rei perplexed and thoughtful.

 

Her mind drifted away… Indeed, it couldn’t wrap around the idea, the illusion that Kylo could be…a father. That she could be a mother. That maybe there was a chance they could have a child one day. That they could be happy together. Her thoughts drifted to how marvelous it would be to have a family of her own, to be able to be with Kylo more than a couple of years…But suddenly, the crushing reality came down on her like an iron hammer. She shut her eyes in pain. She remembered how Kylo had told her he had no memories of more than a couple of years, how he was absolutely certain he was an android and had never doubted it. But still, her treacherous mind conjured the image of him in his apartment, surrounded by plants, knowing how to hand-write and draw…those were not android capacities, she knew that much for having retired so many of them.

 

Maybe there was still a chance. Her heart clung to that small light of hope. But if it turned out he was an android, she wouldn’t shy away from him. She wouldn’t let him go. In spite of everything, she had told him the truth. She loved him, and she didn’t care what his true nature was.

 

She sighed and was so lost in her thoughts she almost didn’t hear Maz come back with the medical droid.

 

*

 

It was simply impossible to concentrate. She re-typed the file for the tenth time in a row on her computer, hissing at the screen and sipping on her afternoon caf. After Maz had inserted the small implant in her arm and made her swallow two pills she said would keep her from getting pregnant after her wild weekend, she’d zoomed to the Bureau, putting on her best actress’ face. She’d had to apply all her willpower to pretend everything was perfectly normal when Poe and Finn had come in. Thank God Kylo hadn’t left any hickeys that would have sold her out.

 

Still, she wondered why Poe had looked at her in a strange fashion. She even thought he was starting to get ideas. He’d asked how her weekend had gone, what she’d done, and Rei had been forced to cover the truth with white lies. He’d cast her his usual charming smile and left to his office. The typical questions a nice boss would ask, right? In that moment, she thought she was dancing on the edge of paranoia.

 

It was already 3PM when a small green light appeared on her cellwatch. The very person who was occupying all the space in her brain had probably texted her, and her heart rate skyrocketed as she saw the light flash.

 

Damn, she really did look like a fucking teenager waiting for her crush to reach out. It was pathetic. Rei loved all of it.

 

She’d already thought of how she would dress for their first date, how she would apply just the right amount of make-up to gauge his reaction. Hell, she’d loved how he’d literally jumped on her with the short skirt. She felt heat coil in her belly when she remembered how much he’d taken her all weekend, lustful and passionate. For the first time in her entire life, she felt like a woman, desired and loved. That feeling was utterly intoxicating for someone who had always doubted herself and felt rejected, after years of feeling like garbage. She was on a little cloud as her fingers swiped to retrieve the awaited message and read his contact that appeared in her cellwatch, which she’d taken the precaution to disguise.

 

- K.R -

How’s work? Do you know Tatsu, the restaurant?

 

Rei read the message. She’d heard a lot about that place but had never been. It seemed like a great idea. Well, everything seemed like a great idea, to tell the truth.

 

- Rei -

Never been! Sounds great. Work is a bore. What time?

 

She swiped the send button and turned back to the document she was working on her screen, but another small vibration from the watch indicated he’d answered immediately. Knowing he was probably eagerly waiting for her answers made her stomach churn in the best way.

 

- K.R -

8PM? No mini-skirts allowed.

 

Rei snorted before clamping a hand over her mouth and peering around, checking to see if anybody had heard her. She wasn’t in her closed office but in a regular office box, filing up some documents. Undoubtedly, some of her colleagues eyed her a bit suspiciously as she tried to put up a serious face again.

 

Was he making a joke? Did he have a sense of humor? That sounded so unlike him, yet she couldn’t help but giggle internally. She still had so much to learn about him. He was a puzzle she was slowly completing, and each new piece was like finding a lost treasure.

 

- Rei -

Can I do worse than a mini-skirt? ;)

 

Three points appeared in her chat box. He was typing back. She worked on her lower lip, trying not to giggle out loud. She pointedly refused to acknowledge how much she was enjoying this little game with him.

 

- K.R -

Warning: I won’t be held responsible for my actions.

 

- Rei -

Fair enough. What if I don’t want you to be?

 

- K.R -

I knew you’d be the death of me.

 

- Rei -

A pleasurable death, I hope?

 

- K.R -

Stop or I’ll kidnap you at work. I miss you.

 

Rei’s heart nearly stopped when she saw the last line appear.

 

He missed her.

 

They’d been apart for only a couple of hours, but she could picture him, alone and lonely, waiting for the night to be back with her. Never had she felt so happy in her entire life. Someone was waiting for her.

 

- Rei -

I miss you too. I’ll see you in…5 hours?

 

- K.R -

Ok. See you later.

 

Rei looked at her watch and sighed. Her anticipation had skyrocketed with their messages, but she chastised herself and tried to focus. The sooner she got this done, the sooner she’d be out of this place. She swiped her finger over the document again, trying to remember the information which was asked. These were about some andy chase they’d had, the day when Kylo had saved her life and had killed one of them, and she needed to finish the full report.

 

All of a sudden, her cellwatch vibrated again. She frowned as she looked at the incoming green light again. Had Kylo changed his mind or sent her another message?

 

Her finger pressed the green button and a message appeared.

 

But it wasn’t Kylo.

 

It was Maz

 

- Maz -

Rei, I have good news. He’s human.

 

“Holy shit!” escaped her mouth and her breath hitched. Rei was certain that her heart was going to stop, for it pounded so hard in her ribcage it was all she heard; she ignored the eyes that settled on her box from her colleagues. Her fingers trembled over the screen.

 

Kylo was human. He was human. She repeated this in her mind dozens of times like a mantra. She took air into her lungs, trying to steady her racing heart. She gathered her hands together and brought them to her forehead, thanking whatever gods had heard her prayers. Tears of happiness were on the verge of breaking at the corner of her eyes. Wait - was Maz certain of this?

 

- Rei -

I can’t believe it! Are you sure?

 

Maz’s answer came along immediately.

 

- Maz -

100% sure. Human and very fertile. Thank god you took those pills.

 

Rei felt her cheeks color red as she typed her answer at the speed of light.

 

- Rei -

I’m in shock. I’m glad I took them too now.

Thank you so much, I’m so happy!

 

This explains everything - everything! His feelings, his capacities, his human habits! But how is this possible? Why does he think he’s an android? What did Snoke do to this poor man? Everything rushed in her brain so fast it was going to short-circuit; she felt like it was flooded with a pool of questions and she was drowning in them. Maybe when she told him the news, he would make sense of it? Maybe he had answers she did not?

 

She only knew one thing: there was no way she’d get work done now.

 


*
 

 

At 6PM sharp, she was made of a bundle of nerves as she gathered her belongings to run to her apartment, take a short shower, and change for the night. She had played all the possible ways of breaking the news to him in her head, and she almost jumped with trepidation. She was waiting for the elevator when Poe came into the corridor. Shit, now was not the moment to get delayed in a conversation. She was trying to avoid his eye and focus on a message on her cellwatch when his voice made her eyes dart to him.

 

“Have any plans tonight?” he asked casually, tucking his shirt into his pants while they waited for the elevator.

 

Rei internally debated whether to lie or not. She’d lied too much already.

 

“I do, actually. I’m meeting a friend for dinner.”

 

“Oh, like a date?” The question seemed to race out of his mouth before he could help himself. Rei rolled her eyes and gave him a serious face. “Sorry to ask. You’ve been pretty absent-minded lately, so I figured that maybe…”

 

Panic rose in her bloodstream. Was it so obvious? He was forcing her to lie again. She really didn’t have a choice. “No, I’m not. I said ‘meet a friend.’ Right?” she said, trying to sound convincing. 

 

“Right, right. I’m sorry,” he apologized, looking down to his shoes.

 

The elevator’s ding was her life savior. She darted inside, waiting for Poe - you couldn’t be that uneducated - but he didn’t step in. Instead, he frowned as if he was remembering something. “Oh sorry, I forgot something in my office. You leave. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

“Oh, okay, have a good evening, Poe!” she cried before the doors closed.

 

Thank the Maker he’d forgotten something. She really did not need this type of conversation with her boss, especially when she was on the verge of meeting the person who had smashed his face. A shiver ran down her spine as she remembered Kylo’s rage against him, how hurt he’d felt.

 

She sighed and pushed the memory aside.

 

 

After having showered and prepped herself, Rei was flying along in her car to their meeting point. She hated driving, but she had to take her own car in order to avoid taking cabs. It wasn’t safe to hang around with Kylo in the open air before everybody’s sight, although she was sure he’d chosen the place consciously, knowing how Snoke and his henchmen functioned. If he went out in those neighborhoods, he knew it was safe for him. He was skilled and trained enough to know, he’d said so himself. But in any case, they needed to be careful, and she was on the alert. It was therefore the most obvious thing to take her hovercar in order to avoid suspicious and shabby cab drivers who could perfectly well work undercover for Snoke.

 

She'd dressed in a low-cut grey shimmering blouse and leather jacket, some small shorts with lace panties and high boots, showing a hint of skin under the lace. She'd put some black eyeliner and matching mascara on, highlighting the green in her eyes. The clothes weren't fancy but sexier than her usual outfits. She didn't want Kylo to have a hard-on during all their dinner since she had such important news to tell him. Well, okay, maybe a little, she confessed to herself with a knowing smirk.

 

She flew into dense traffic for a while and saw how the day set, casting the city into darkness again. Neon colors appeared all around her, lighting up the vast city. She flew beside an enormous virtual doll with blue hair and pink skin, who was dancing and walking while hovercars raced through her transparent body.

 

At last, she turned around, following her holo GPS, and the place was in sight. She dove down and strolled along, trying to find a parking spot. She passed the restaurant and unmistakably, a tall, dark figure was standing there with a cowl over his head, hiding his face. Her heart was about to burst with love. She quickly found a spot to park a couple of yards away and gathered her belongings before coming out of the car and shutting the door swiftly with her boot.

 

She walked with long strides toward the restaurant on the sidewalk across from him. Kylo was glancing down both sides of the street, visibly smoking a cig. When she came into his eyeline, she waved to him from the other side of the street and yelled, “Kylo! I’m here!”

 

The sound of her voice made his face dart toward her; his hands raised to the hem of his cowl. He lowered it, revealing the face of the man she was in love with: his dark locks and eyes as well as the cig in his plush lips, which had cracked into a half-smile at the sight of her.

 

Suddenly, Rei’s eyes rounded in horror.

 

A masked figure had dashed behind Kylo and was about to hit him with an enormous metallic bat.

 

“Kylo! Behind you!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, pointing a finger at the figure and launching forward to reach him.

 

But it was too late.

 

Kylo barely had time to veer before the bat hit his skull with a thump and he crashed to the ground.

 

The figure took its helmet off. Rei froze and brought her hand to her mouth to stifle another scream.

 

Poe Dameron was hovering above Kylo’s lifeless figure, his stare digging a hole right through Rei’s soul.

 

Chapter Text


 

The first sensation as he groggily squeezed an eye open was the intense pain in his skull. He winced and hissed; it was as if his head had been cracked open like an egg. Soon, he realized he was laying on something hard and the feeling of something leaking on his forehead made its way to his brain. He raised a hand to rub his face but was met with a clunking sound. He peered at his hands: they were handcuffed with a sophisticated metallic device which glowed with a red light, from which two heavy chains were drawn. It took him an extra moment of time to figure out he was lying flat on a bunk, chained to a wall in a neon-lit cell. 

 

Where am I? Where is Rei?

 

Slowly, he remembered. Images trickled into his mind, as if blood was slowly coming back to his brain cells; it seemed it wasn’t working at full capacity, he felt as if clouds inhabited it rather than solid matter. 

 

They were supposed to meet, but something, or rather, someone had hit him from behind. The last thing he remembered before everything had gone dark was Rei’s pretty features twisting into a scream.

 

He grimaced again; his head was killing him. He lifted his cuffed wrists to his face and his organic hand wiped his skin. A crimson liquid leaked onto his fingers.

 

He flinched when he brought it down to see what it was. Fresh blood. No wonder he was in such pain. Moving to lean on his side, he managed to straighten in the hard, cold bunk while he winced under the intense effort.

 

The sound of people outside the dim-lit room where he was held captive drew his attention to the door. Soon enough, it was sliding to the side.

 

Kylo’s eyes rounded when he recognized the figure that stood in the entrance.

 

It was Rei’s boss. Whatever his name was. The very one he’d punched in the face with every intention of killing him.

 

Almost instinctively, his jaw firmed, his brow drew together darkly on his forehead and his fists balled up, reigniting the pain in his head but he paid no attention to it and focused on the man.

 

Poe approached his captive cautiously, scanning him from top to bottom. His gaze lingered for some time over his mechanical hand. They had taken away his glove, no doubt to check his mecha- limb and handcuff him.

 

“So, I see our murderer is finally awake,” said Poe in a low voice.

 

“What do you want from me?” questioned Kylo. He was not going to be impressed by this human. He could crush him as he'd nearly already done.

 

An unspoken battle had started between the two men.

 

“I arrested you for the murder of Lor San Tekka. Our late friend and Director of the Bureau,” he explained, gauging his reaction.

 

Quite despite himself, Kylo’s face drained of all colors. Lor…that was Rei’s master’s name. Kylo tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together in his head. She had never mentioned that her master was also…her former boss and colleague.  

 

The young man interrupted his trail of thoughts. “Do you even have a name, or only that serial number tattooed on your neck?” His tone was contemptuous. He’d found out he was an andy, after all.

 

“The one Rei gave to me,” he spat, composing himself and regaining some dignity while he eyed his reaction. “My name is Kylo,” he said, lifting his chin challengingly.

 

A malicious smirk drew on the man’s features. “And you think she gave you a name because she cares? Isn’t that sweet,” he snickered. “I thought andys were smarter than that.”

 

Bile worked up its way up Kylo’s throat. He wanted to break this man’s neck and hear the sound of it cracking under his fingers. “Of course she does. I wouldn’t say the same for you though,” Kylo barked in retaliation.

 

His opponent’s already dark eyes turned pitch black. “And why do you think that?” he asked, his tone now well guarded.

 

Kylo’s nose wrinkled in disgust. The last thing he was going to do was to unveil his private love and sexual life to this idiot. “None of your business. That’s between me and her.”

 

But against all odds, it didn’t impress the man; he scoffed with contempt and withdrew a small object from his pocket, which Kylo recognized after a few seconds: a sophisticated recorder. “I sure wonder what Rei told you to persuade you so much. I’m afraid you are mistaken,” he said ominously, not without a glint of something close to vengeance. “But maybe this will convince you.”

 

Before Kylo could retort anything, a voice echoed from the recorder.

 

It was the man’s voice…

 

“Rei, be careful. That man - you saw what he did to me. He’s dangerous. All this is dangerous.”

 

Kylo’s blood froze when he heard Rei’s voice reverberate inside the cell walls, as they initiate a dialogue on the recorder.

 

“I-I know…but it’s my only lead. And it has been so fruitful.”

 

“When did you last see him? That informant?”

 

“Before I caught the disease. He led me to discover it.”

 

There is a short pause where Kylo felt a tension grow between the two, even through the recorder.

 

“He has feelings for you.

 

“I know of course. And you know very well, as I do, that men can be easily persuaded to give information when they have a woman in their sights.”

 

His body was seized with rigidness. The dialogue continued but Kylo didn’t hear it. His stomach felt like it was falling from fifty stories and the air was knocked out of his lungs. It was as if someone had pierced his heart with an iced arrow as he heard Rei’s voice pronounce those last words.

 

It can’t be…

 

It can’t -

 

No…

 

He shook his head in denial; his jaw shivered as tremors invaded his body. He lifted his stupefied gaze to the young man, mouth agape, staring as if he’d physically received a blow. But the internal effect was a thousand times harder. The ache in his chest was agony - it was a monstrous, dark feeling, surging from unknown regions.

 

"Now you believe me?" said the man, raising an eyebrow at him.

 

Kylo tried to swallow but found his throat was so dry his saliva couldn’t go down. A solid lump had formed there, making it impossible to modulate anything.

 

His mind was like a windmill in a storm. At first, it didn’t make sense. How could she? How could she lie to him so openly? His thoughts drifted for a few instants on the blood during their first sexual encounter, of how she’d given herself to him. For a fleeting moment, he clung to that last glimpse of fading hope. But then…the pendulum went the other way and the poisonous seeds of doubt germinated in his heart. Had she sacrificed her virginity for…this? The thought was so ruthless he pushed it away immediately as if it were cursed. But how could he deny what he’d just heard? How could he explain he was now chained in a cell and she was nowhere to be seen? It all made sense. She’d planned this. She’d lied, from the start. How could she…it just can’t be - it, just, no! Please, please, someone tell me it’s not true. The most treacherous part of his brain whispered like the devil in his ear…she said it, it was all fake. She wanted information, just like you suspected all along. How stupid of you to have believed her. His heart sunk to his stomach. He squeezed his eyes shut under the images of her body in his bed that very morning, of the feeling of her lips on his.

 

The man’s voice spoke again, cutting through Kylo’s hurricane of raging thoughts. “What exactly happened between you?” his tormenter asked with suspicion on his features as he took in Kylo’s reaction.

 

But Kylo didn’t hear him. He only heard the voice of darkness and thunder, rising in him dangerously. “Where is she?” asked Kylo in a low, trembling voice. “Let me see her!” he cried out between agony and anger.

 

“Oh, that’s if I decide if she’ll interrogate you or not. Tell me what happened and maybe I’ll let you see her.”

 

“No,” growled Kylo. “I want to see her. Now!” He rose to his feet swiftly but the chains prevented him for launching forward toward the man, who had already taken a step back. Tears prickled Kylo’s eyes but he focused all his willpower to prevent them from breaking free; the last thing he wanted was for his captor to realize how much the reveal had affected him.

 

They stared at each other, a silent battle raging between them, before Kylo saw his rival’s lips curve down. He turned soundlessly around and without another word or glance, he left the cell and closed the door behind him.

 

Kylo’s legs gave in to gravity. He fell on his knees on the cell’s cold floor and his head dipped down. His fingers laced through his hair and he pulled it - hard, while his dark orbs filled with salty water.

 

It can’t…

 

It can’t be…

 

Rei!

 

The silence of the cell was ripped apart by an ugly, heart-wrenching cry.

 

  *

 

“How is he?” asked Rei vehemently when Poe entered the jail’s office where she’d been waiting for him to come back.

 

To say she was worried up to the point of wanting to vomit was an understatement. All the nerves of her body felt as if she’s been skinned alive. Waiting for Poe to get back had been utter torture. She’d played back the series of events in her head for the millionth time. Of how Kylo had fallen to the ground, unconscious. Of Poe, taking his helmet off and casting her the most indecipherable look in the process. Despite her surprise, she’d raced to Kylo and yelled at her superior, asking him what the hell he was doing.  

 

Her boss had glowered at her and jabbed a finger at her chest, saying they needed to talk, alone, and that he was arresting the man for murder. Her heart had frozen since then. He’d discovered the truth. His tone and demeanor had left no room for question or protest and she was terrified that a word from her would make Kylo’s fate even worse. So she’d followed Poe as they took Kylo away with his head covered in blood, biting her lips and nails to the point where her fingers were bleeding.

 

Now, she stood up to meet her boss, who came toward her with slow, controlled steps and peered at her. Her fingers lingered on the table where she’d been sitting at and chewed on her lower lips. She dreaded the conversation to come but not nearly as much as she feared for Kylo.

 

“You seem very concerned by this android’s fate,” said Poe in a low voice. He made no effort in hiding his disgust.

 

“He’s not an andy. He’s human,” she raced to correct.

 

That made the young man arch an eyebrow. “How would you know?”

 

Hating where this conversation was headed, she tried to cut it short. “I have my ways of knowing. You can ask Maz Kanata, of the Kenobi Hospital, to confirm this.”

 

“Andy or not, it doesn’t matter in the end. Did you know he murdered Lor?” the question came in, raw and unbidden. “I’m not even asking you if you know he’s the one who crashed into your apartment. I’m sure you know that already,” he snickered.

 

Rei’s gaze darted to Poe’s black one. She could tell he was analyzing all her reactions and therefore, tried to compose herself before she answered. “Yes, I did, which is why -“

 

His roar cut her off. “You knew!? And you didn’t tell me!? You still let him free!? What the fuck is the matter with you!?” he barked, taking a step toward her and spluttering in her face.

 

Her breath was as shaky as her entire body. She swallowed but refused to look down as she saw not only the sheer anger dancing in Poe’s eyes but also the bitter disappointment. “Explain yourself! What’s going on?” he demanded, barely controlling the ire in his voice. She attempted to swallow again, but her throat was too dry. “Answer me!” he all but barked, striking the innocent table with his fist.

 

Rei’s mind was internally racing. Instead of answering the question, she decided to take another route. “How did you find out about Lor?” She hated how her voice sounded so weak.

 

Poe inhaled sharply as if trying to control himself and pinched the bridge of his nose. “The video cams. When that monster attacked me at the club, I remembered him from somewhere. But somehow, I couldn’t remember where. So I decided to check the video cams of the street where Lor had been murdered. It took me ages, but I finally found the proof. It was him…and you knew all along. What the fuck has gotten into you?”

 

Rei gathered her courage and took air into her lungs. “I know he murdered him. But it was because we cornered him.”

 

Poe’s fists balled up tightly upon hearing her explanation. “Are you…are you defending him?” he asked with both incredulity and contempt.

 

“There’s more here than what meets the eye, Poe, I-”

 

“There’s more than what meets the eye?!” he roared, anger twisting his handsome features. “He murdered our boss! Your master! He nearly killed me once and almost beat me to death another!” His scream echoed off the small room’s walls. “What exactly is there more to see, Rei?!”

 

She’d never seen him this mad in her entire existence. Her gaze was transfixed on him, jaw tight, eyes aghast. Of course, put that way, it sounded impossible to have any argument in his defense. Closing her eyelids, she took a deep breath. “Poe, I-I know…I’m sorry, but please, let me explain.”

 

Poe shifted his weight to his right side and crossed his arms. “I’m listening. And you better have some good arguments,” he all but snarled.

 

She nodded, racking her brain for how to frame this without revealing the connection she and Kylo shared. Taking a deep breath, she explained all the clues and elements that she’d discovered about Kylo. That he worked for and was used by Snoke. That he had saved plants and an animal. That he’d found documents showing Snoke was involved not only in the Reflectio Virus case but also in hiding what was truly going on in the outside world. During her explanations, she could see Poe’s eye light with interest and his rage recede as he uncrossed his arms and started to slowly rub his chin between two fingers.

 

When she finished, Poe frowned, staying silent for a long time. His gaze had become indecipherable once more as if he was meditating an important decision. When he spoke, his voice had returned to normal, but Rei could tell something laid simmering behind it. "You know what we are going to do? You are going to go into that cell and you are going to interrogate him. I want everything you discovered about him on recording. I will be watching you from behind the concealed glass wall. You will explain that he has to testify to all this if he wants to live, or I will have him executed for Lor’s murder.”

 

Rei’s eyes widened. Fear coiled in her guts. Execution had been on her mind the moment she’d seen Poe’s face in front of the restaurant in the dark street. She had to save Kylo. She had to make him spill his secrets otherwise he was utterly and properly doomed.

 

Her lips pressed together and she nodded. “Okay.”

 

*

 

He’d sobbed so much his throat was raw. Darkness had tightened around his heart as if a hand was squeezing it, never unfastening its firm grasp, making it bleed until it was only an empty shell. His breath was haggard, his lungs felt so tight he thought he’d never be able to take air in properly again.

 

He sniffed loudly and looked around the cell haphazardly, cheeks still wet from his breakdown. His mind was a boat into a terrible storm as he crouched down on the floor and asked himself what he’d done to deserve such punishment. The darkest thoughts assaulted his mind like furious vultures, blinding him, putting out the little flame of hope which had still lived inside him.

 

Of course, she didn't love him. She’d been lying; it had been a trap since the start. Only now did he see clearly into her game. What a fool he’d been and how well she’d played her part, up to the point of giving herself to him physically, not once but many times. His mind still couldn't wrap around such a vile strategy. He'd replayed everything like a broken cassette, all they had shared, all the times he’d taken her. All the time she’d come apart because of him. Had she faked that, too? The weakest part of himself dared to hope that, at least, she’d taken pleasure with him before cursing himself for nursing such pathetic, meaningless hopes. No doubt she was now being cheered by her peers for discovering such important information. Would they know how far she'd gone to get all that information out of him? He wondered if they already had raced to his apartment and torn it apart to find all the documents, the plants…and Milly. His heart hoped the precious animal was still safe and that no one would harm her.

 

Never had he felt so humiliated in his entire existence. Pain and self-loathing consumed his insides, as if the gates of hell itself had opened right under him and the flames ate him alive.

 

He blinked another surging wave of tears away when he heard footsteps and voices behind the door. His brows knitted darkly.

 

Now what?

 

After a few seconds, the cell door slid open.

 

Dark eyes met greenish ones.

 

She was standing in the doorway, a hand on the wall and another balled over her chest, staring at him with eyebrows creased into what would have been a concerned expression if he didn’t already know of her sickening duplicity.

 

His muscles tensed and his teeth bared immediately. How dare you feign any concern for me after what you’ve done?

 

He stayed there, crouched on the floor, brows drawing together darkly as he peered at her from behind his black locks with the most hateful glare he could manage to birth.

 

“Kylo…” she whispered, a barely audible murmur. His name morphing softly from her lips nearly made him come undone. Her seemingly sorrowful gaze drank his appearance in; no doubt finding the mixed blood with tears decorating his face. There was an instant where he almost thought his feverish mind had invented all this, that she truly did care. But it passed like a fleeting shadow. He reined himself in. He’d been humiliated enough. If he was inside this cell, wrists attached to a wall, it was because she’d let her boss do it. Because she knew from the beginning what was to happen to him and the only explanation for why they had been so cowardly as to attack him from behind.

 

She’d set a trap for him and he threw himself right into it. The complete fool he was. Fool for her. Because that was what truly gutted him, ripped him wide open from stem to stern.  In spite of everything…he still loved her.

 

His jaw firmed. Anger was surging inside him, a cloud swelling with the promise of a storm, ready to burst with roaring thunder. All he wanted was to spit into that pretty, damnably beloved face of hers.

 

She approached him cautiously and peered at her side to the wall as if looking for someone there.

 

The gesture caught his attention but he said nothing.

 

When she looked back down at him, she stood before him, towering over his figure. “Kylo…are you okay?” she asked, reaching a hand to touch him but he avoided it as if it were infected, casting his head aside and taking in how she was genuinely surprised with his reaction.

 

His nose wrinkled. “How dare you ask me how I am?” he growled lowly like a caged animal.

 

She quirked an eyebrow. “Of course I’m concerned!” she said in another whisper, glancing again behind her shoulder at the wall.

 

It then hit Kylo. That wall was no normal wall.

 

They were spying on him from behind it. It was a decoy, shielding the cops’ presence from him. They had probably watched him weep for hours now, making fun, mocking him, cracking jokes at how stupid he was to have fallen right into their trap. It made his insides churn with hate.

 

He gritted his teeth and rose to his full height in the blink of an eye; the only reason he didn’t launch himself at her were the two solid chains on his wrists which tensed and pulled him back, preventing him from touching her. His face so full of rage she took a step back “How could you? You traitor!”

 

For an instant, he saw how her hazel irises flew wide and she shook her face in incomprehension. “What are you talking about? I had no idea about this, I’m here to help you, I need you to tell me what you know so that Poe doesn’t execute you!” she cried out quickly.

 

Kylo scoffed indignantly. “You liar!” he raged. “You orchestrated this trap, I heard what you said on that recording! You’ve been lying to me since the beginning!” he barked at her face. 

 

Denial and puzzlement washed over her features. He cursed inwardly. How was she such a good actress? She floundered for a moment, apparently not knowing what to answer. “What recording?”

 

The cloud of anger inside him came to a burst. “Stop pretending! ‘Men can be easily persuaded when they have a woman in sight?’ Was that how you so nicely put it?” he sneered.

 

Her face turned as white as the wall behind her. Her jaw went slack, face shaking right and left so he would stop.

 

But all shred of decency and reason had already abandoned him. Rage was the fuel in his bloodstream, making his entire body quiver. “Was that your plan since the start? Do your friends know what you did to get all that information out of me?” he barked with unrestrained contempt, pointing a mecha-finger at the wall. 

 

Her throat worked and her gaze darted to the spot he was pointing at before her pleading gaze came back to meet his. “Kylo, stop, you don’t understand - I -”

 

But he cut her off sharply. “Answer me! Do they know?” he continued in a threatening thunder. “Do they know how often I fucked you? How many times you screamed my name in my bed?” he accused with such suffocating hatred it formed a lump in his throat.

 

He could see how her eyebrows had risen on her forehead, drawing lines of utter disbelief there. Her mouth opened and closed without a word, eyes aghast as if he’d just whipped her.

 

Her lack of answer only made things worse. “Tell me! Do they know?! Of your methods to get what you want?” he roared, face nearing hers, fists so tight they were shaking at his side. “You-you’re just a wh-” he choked on his venomous words, sobs threatening to escape his lips and he shut his eyelids to stop his tears. Despite all his loathing, he couldn’t say the word. Not her. Not to her even if it was true.

 

A hiccup and a cry coming from her lips made him open his eyelashes again. He contemplated the woman who had destroyed his body and soul, before she finally managed to string a few words together. “No, I-I didn’t - I promise I-”

 

He couldn’t prevent the anger that blazed beneath his chest, a rage that unleashed the beast within him.  “LIAR!!” he screamed at the top of his lungs, launching forward with such strength and violence that the chain connecting his mecha-arm to the wall gave in. Rei darted backward in terror, avoiding his hand which was aiming right for her neck before the other chain prevented him from touching her.

 

He breathed in sharply, gaze piercing a hole right through her. “Get out,” he hissed, before taking in her horrified gaze. “Get OUT!”

 

Kylo had an instant to see tears roll down her cheeks before her flabbergasted and devastated face turned around and stormed out of the cell, hands darting to her sobbing eyes.

 

He crashed onto the ground once more, catching his breath as salty water found its way down his face once more.

 

Everything was over.

 

If they wanted to execute him now, he would welcome death like an old friend.   

 

 

…                                         

 

Rei dashed out of the cell, hands covering her leaking face as she leaned against a nearby wall in the corridors. This was not happening, please, someone tell her this was a nightmare. Somebody tell her she was going to wake up. How could he react this way? Had Poe recorded her without her knowing and made him listen to it? Had Poe orchestrated everything so this would happen? How could she explain she’d lied to Poe when he was in the next room listening to everything she was saying? Her mind was clouded and confused, drowning in pain. Only sorrow echoed in her ears.

 

But remorse got the best of her. Yes, she should have said she’d lied. Yet everything was so confused that only the echo of his terrible words reverberated in her mind.

 

Traitor…

 

Liar…

 

Do they know how often I fucked you?

 

Is that what he thought of her? How could he say such horrible things when she’d told him she loved him that very morning, opening herself to him, offering him her heart on a golden plate. Now it was as if someone had ripped it right from her chest, leaving a bleeding hole there.

 

Suddenly, in the haziness of the moment, she heard heavy footsteps coming toward her before a strong hand grabbed her arm. Between tears, her gaze darted up before figuring out that Poe and Finn were standing in front of her.

 

She hiccupped and coughed.

 

“Get over here,” snapped Poe, dragging her toward the small office where they had previously argued. His grip on her arm was so firm she was sure it was going to bruise the next day. She didn’t care about anything anymore. She just wanted everything to stop. Between sniffs and sobs, she scrambled behind him before he thrust her inside the room almost violently. Finn entered as well with a deep frown on his face.

 

“Look at me,” he commanded her, his voice as cold as ice.

 

She did. She brushed her tears away and slowly lifted her gaze to meet his dark, furious stare.

 

“So this is how I learn the truth? Did you really fuck that guy?” his words were venom on his lips.

 

A righteous rage ignited in her chest. She wasn’t going to deny it, she was done with lying. “Yes, I did! What’s your fucking problem? You don’t understand anything! How dare you record me without me knowing!”

 

Poe’s chin shivered so intensely she thought his jaw was going to disconnect from his mandibular. He turned around, grabbed a chair and threw it against the wall. “How dare I…? Can you look at yourself? How could you, Rei! He killed Lor!”

 

“It wasn’t his fault!”

 

Poe stared at her, not quite believing what he was hearing. “You’ve been lying to me, to us, to everyone around you,” he said, glancing at Finn who stayed stubbornly quiet. “That damn fool is right. You are a traitor,” he barked while Rei sniffed more, wiping her nose unceremoniously, pushing herself against the wall and looking down. She was about to say something, but Poe cut her off. “You betrayed all of us. For what? For a pair of pretty eyes and a cock?”

 

The insult, as well as the implications of his words, stung. They stung so much Rei was powerless to prevent the tears from running down her cheek again before Poe dug the knife in the wound. “And you’re a liar. You’ve been lying for weeks!”

 

“Poe - I-I’m sorry, I should have told you, I -”

 

“It’s too late for excuses! You’re fired. I don’t want to see you here ever again.”

 

Rei’s eyes went as huge as flying saucers. She sought help with Finn but he bailed out on her and looked down at his boots. She shook her head in denial. “Poe, Finn…You can’t- ”

 

“This is my last word. Get your things and get out of here,” her ex-boss said, turning on his heels to leave the room.

 

“So you’re firing me because I fucked another man than you, is that your problem?” she cried out in indignation.

 

Poe stilled and glanced back at her. His lips curled down. “That’s not the point and you know it!”

 

“Yes, it is!” she roared. “You’re jealous because I chose somebody else!”

 

He glared at her. Turning around to face her fully now. “The point is you’re having a relationship with the enemy. With a murderer. With the man who killed your Master and tried to kill me twice. Get out of here before I have you arrested for treason!” he threatened.   

 

Rei’s heart ran down to her stomach. She sought Finn’s gaze but he denied her again. Poe pointed a finger at the door and waited for her to get out.

 

“What are you going to do with him?” she asked. She hated how her voice sounded so weak.

 

“That’s none of your concern now. Get - out!” he snarled. 

 

“Please, please don’t hurt him. I’ll write you to explain everything, with all the information I’ve got, but please spare him.”

 

Poe’s face dropped ever so slightly and his jaw firmed as if he were trying to manage his anger.

“It’s over Rei. Just get out before I really lose my temper with you," he said while activating the button for the door.

 

She swallowed back her tears, but had no choice but to oblige.

 

She fled the compound and ran out of the prison with only tears and fear for company.

 

                                                                     

*

 

She walked idly in the dark streets of Coruscant, her heart shattered to a million pieces. She didn’t know she could shed so many tears. Her mind still couldn’t wrap around everything that had just occurred. She’d only just learned Kyo was human. She’d been fired. She’d lost Kylo’s heart. But most of all, she was afraid Poe would kill him.

 

She couldn’t let that happen. As she strode along the streets, bumping into strangers who insulted her for not looking where she was going, she tried to figure out what to do now.

 

Her palm hit her head several times. Think, just think. There’s got to be something you can do!

 

Her gaze rose to the flashy neon ads which decorated the streets. One of them was Joi’s face, the same one that had called her to save Kylo’s life. She stood there for a long moment, her thoughts drifting back to everything that had occurred since they’d met, that day, in the dusty buildings of the outskirts of the city…and the day after, when -

 

Wait.

 

Her mind suddenly lit up like a lightbulb.

 

Leia.

 

If anybody could still control Poe, it was her.

 

A glimpse of hope coming back to her, she hastily pulled her sleeve up to find Leia on her cellwatch. She didn’t pay attention to the time, this was a matter of life or death. Her fingers danced on the screen to find her contact and the tone rang.

 

While it rang for seconds that stretched into what seemed like an hour, Rei found herself praying.

 

Please, please Leia. Pick up. You’re my only hope.

 

“Hello?” croaked the elder woman’s voice and her image appeared as a blue transparent holo before her. Rei immediately engaged her own holo display so Leia could see her. “Leia, it’s me, Rei.”

 

Leia’ demeanor showed puzzlement when she saw Rei’s image appear before her. “Rei, is everything all right? You look like a mess.”

 

Yeah, you could say that, she thought to herself. Upon hearing Leia’s concern, Rei was about to burst into tears again. She bit her lip in order not to break into a sob but her jaw was shivering in such fashion she couldn’t speak.

 

“Rei, what happened? Do you want to come by and talk?” kindly offered the elder.

 

Rei’s head immediately nodded in acceptance while a treacherous tear dripped down her cheek again. “You know where to find me, come quickly my dear.”

 

 

 

“So, you say that this andy, who turned out not to be an andy, works for Snoke and has discovered he’s plotting and hiding something from us in the outside world?” asked an incredulous Leia to Rei as they now sat around a coffee table in Leia’s living room with two cups of hot ersatz tea. Rei had raced to her apartment, located in an opulent, elegant building at the City Center, nearly crashing into Chewie, Leia’s impossibly huge bodyguard in the entrance.

 

For almost an hour, Rei had confessed everything. She’s started about her meeting Kylo and everything that had happened between them and was now explaining how Kylo had discovered Snoke’s dark plans. She could never express how grateful she was that Leia didn’t judge her for sleeping with a man that could indeed be considered an enemy.

 

The young woman shook her head. “He showed me documents, paper documents with handwriting, about Snoke plotting the ‘Death of the Soul’ and also something about the ‘Seven Lights.’ There was a drawing in the shape of an octagon with seven flames. Kylo didn't know what it was but he was on the verge of unveiling the secret. But now…" she paused, remembering his face bathed in blood and tears, his red swollen features that had betrayed how much he’d cried, alone, in the cell, thinking she had betrayed him. She took her cup in her hands, the warmth bringing a modicum of comfort in the wake of her desperate state and she sipped a small gulp.

 

Sensing her rattled state, Leia finished the sentence for her. “But now Poe’s got him and wants to execute him…” the elder brought her fingers between her chin and rubbed it. She was dressed in an elegant midnight blue bathrobe. Rei didn’t even know what time it was, but it was still pitch dark outside; she couldn’t care less.

 

Suddenly, Leia coughed. An ugly, deep cough.

 

Rei eyed her and remembered something Kylo had told her. “Leia, are you sick?”

 

The older woman coughed loudly again, several times. “It’s this cold…it doesn’t leave me. It’s been three weeks, I’m just old.”

 

Rei’s arm snaked over the coffee table to take the woman’s hand. She squeezed it gently as Leia coughed again. “Leia…I remember something. Kylo also told me Snoke has been working on pre-apocalypse viruses. He said that he thought they were experimenting on a way to cause unsuspicious deaths of political opponents.”

 

Upon hearing her, Leia’s eyes rounded. “Is that so…? For heaven’s sake, we have to save that man from Poe’s clutches. He’s too important for him to execute him. And we need more information on all this and access to the documents and plants,” Leia stressed, coughing again while Rei stood up and went to fetch more hot beverage for her. “Hell, maybe Snoke’s already got me,” she hissed, bringing the small cup to her lips and drinking. “But I’m not going down without a fight.”

 

Rei sat back down on the couch across from her. “If we save Kylo, maybe we can find out what virus he’s spreading…I’m not saying that because…because there’s something between us. I believe he’s vital to discover what is truly going on. He’s already betrayed Snoke and suffered enough as it is.”

 

Leia pressed her lips together and nodded. “I agree,” she said decidedly. “Very well. Let’s access the prison’s files so I can see what the Bureau has filed on him and I will call Poe to order he doesn’t execute the man. Can you bring me the tablet, there, on the desk?” she asked, stretching a finger toward an object which rested on a modern desk behind Rei.

 

The grinding sorrow which had oppressed Rei’s heart unclenched for the first time in long hours. She went to retrieve the device and handed it to Leia, taking a seat next to her as the senator entered all types of codes and fingerprint passwords to access classified networks. Her wrinkled finger, adorned with an elegant golden and blue ring, swept skillfully over the screen. Finally, Leia was able to access the data.

 

“Under what name do you think they registered him?” asked the elder.

 

“I doubt they would call him Kylo…that’s the name I gave him. You can always try though. Or maybe there’s an option to see who has come in recently?” suggested Rei.

 

“Let’s try that,” she immediately pressed an option and suddenly, a list of portraits appeared on the screen.

 

“There he is!” exclaimed Rei, pressing a finger on Kylo’s picture which enlarged. They had probably taken it in secret because it was taken from the side and he wasn't looking at the camera. But he was easily recognizable.

 

All of a sudden, Leia’s breath hitched. Her impossibly wide eyes were transfixed on the picture.

 

“Leia?” ventured Rei, as she looked at the Senator, who was gaping at the portrait, her face all white…as if she’d seen a ghost.

 

Against all odds, Leia’s eyes rolled and her hands released the tablet; she crashed unconscious on the side of the couch and Rei could only hear her scream tearing apart the silence of the apartment.

 

“Leia!!”

Chapter Text

Top art by RaeBarb (You can appreciate it fully at the end of the chapter!)

 

 

“Leia, can you hear me? Leia!”

 

Her hand swatted the elder woman’s face with soft, carefully controlled slaps, Rei’s fingers as soft as possible on her aged skin. The Senator was still lying unconscious on the sofa after having passed out, and Rei was growing more nervous as minutes went by, still wondering what had happened to her.

 

Chewie had come to the rescue. The faithful, seven-foot giant bodyguard was now bringing a wet cloth from the bathroom in his immense hands, and laid it on Leia’s forehead with special concern and care. Rei sought his gaze and the giant man nodded, a civilized sign since, most of the time, one could only earn grunts from him. Rei wiped the fabric gently over the woman’s features, the coldness of it an attempt to awaken her.

 

Ben…” croaked Leia once more. She’d already spoken that name twice, puzzling Rei, who knew nobody around the elder woman baring that name.

 

Ben? Who is Ben? thought Rei to herself. Her eyebrows drew together to form a line.

Granted, she’d known Leia for years and didn’t know everything about her private life, but it nevertheless drew her attention. Meanwhile, the Senator’s face tilted from one side to the other on the pillow as if she were having a bad dream, between sleep and hallucinations.

 

“Leia, it’s Rei. Wake up. Wake up,” she insisted, caressing her friend’s face.

 

Ben…” Leia moaned again, but this time, her eyelashes flickered lazily for several seconds before she slowly and groggily opened her eyes. At first, they seemed blurred, and her head moved sideways as if she were having a hard time focusing. She blinked a couple of times, squeezing her eyelids shut tight, before her gaze finally settled on the two people over her.

 

“Rei? Chewie?” she asked dazedly, glancing at the two as if she didn’t remember their presence in her home.

 

“Yes, Leia, it’s me,” whispered Rei tenderly. “Can you hear me? Can you see me?”

 

The woman blinked again and raised a hand to rub her eyes with a couple of strokes. “Yes…what happened?” she asked, giving the appearance that she didn’t remember anything.

 

“Leia, you…” she paused, hesitating. “You passed out. Do you remember? We were looking at some pictures of a man in prison?”

 

Suddenly the Senator’s eyes lit anew. “Ben!” the Senator cried out, forcing herself upwards abruptly, wincing with the effort.

 

“Ben?” asked an incredulous Rei as she helped the elder upward. That name again? Quite despite herself, she was getting more and more intrigued by the mystery behind this unknown name. “Who is Ben?”

 

Leia stayed silent. Her eyes turned glassy as she eyed her protégé, before her gaze drifted toward Chewie. “Chewie, he’s alive!”

 

The giant’s blue eyes only rounded impossibly huge, and he tilted his head to the side and growled - as if not believing her. Rei arched an eyebrow and now frowned as if she was missing the essential piece of a puzzle. “Leia, who -”

 

But the Senator cut her off. "Where's the tablet? Please…give it to me again," she ordered hastily, looking for it on the coffee table before her at a frantic pace.

 

"Here it is," said Rei, aiming for the discarded device on another sofa. She sat back down next to Leia, who sought the previous picture quickly on the device's screen. When it appeared again, Leia swallowed hard and her jaw started to shiver. Her hand flew over her heart. She immediately showed the screen to Chewie, as if seeking confirmation of something. “Chewie, look!”

 

The tall man took in the picture, and his features utterly fell apart. He grunted something which Rei didn’t understand before Leia spoke again. “Chewie, grab your cellwatch and call Poe. I know it’s late at night, but just insist until he picks up. And if he doesn’t answer, I want you to find the contacts of the prison and call them until somebody picks up that damn phone call! When you do, pass them to me,” she commanded as words spilled out of her mouth at a hundred miles per hour.

 

Upon hearing her, Chewie promptly excused himself and ran out of the apartment, no doubt to make the appropriate calls, while Leia's hand rested on her heart as if she were going to have an attack.

 

“Leia, would you please explain wh-

 

“He’s my son,” Leia blurted out, turning back to face her fully now.

 

Rei’s jaw dropped to the floor. She blinked owlishly as the Senator’s words took their sweet time to sink into her brain cells. “Your son?” she asked, utterly bewildered.

 

“Yes, my son. My only son,” she said, looking at the picture again, and her eyes watered as she bit her lower lip in a desperate attempt to keep her tears at bay. “I don’t know what they’ve done to him - but it’s him!”

 

Rei’s mind short-circuited. Leia has a son? But how is that possible? Why have I never heard of him? This couldn’t be, there had to be a logical explanation. “Are you sure that’s him? I didn’t even know you had a son!” exclaimed Rei, who was so shocked she could barely breathe.

 

“I’m positive. And you saw Chewie’s reaction, too,” she stressed. 

 

“But Leia…I’ve known you for years…and I never met him?” she asked, half offended, half incredulous.

 

Upon hearing her disbelief, Leia avoided her gaze…her face contorted with grief and she unexpectedly broke into a terrible sob. Both hands darted to her face, covering herself while she wailed, a cry so heartbreaking Rei was about to cry herself. The younger woman scooted herself near her, wrapping a gentle arm around her shoulders and rocking her back and forth, kissing the grey hairs over her temple and giving her comfort as Leia spilled all her pain - in the shape of pearls of salty water. “It’s gonna be alright, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you…” she whispered in her ear, kissing her soft skin again and hugging her tight.

 

But Rei’s brain, as well as her heart, were racing like a hovercar during a pursuit. A million thoughts crossed her mind as she tried to remember all the times she’d been with Leia, but she came to the conclusion that she’d never heard anything about a son. Had they been apart? Did she believe him dead? Was that why she was crying her heart out? However, suddenly, the erratic trail of thoughts focused on a rather…unsettling one.

 

Wait -

 

Does that mean…Am I…Am I in love with Leia’s son? The lurid image of Kylo flashed before her vision, his soft, dark eyes, the ghost of his smile…yes, she remembered how he would pose his eyes on her and the rest of the world would disappear. Now, she realized the similitude in that amber gaze, the way it brushed her figure in a soft, tender way…the very same way Leia had always looked at her. How hadn’t she made the association before? It seemed so clear now that the missing piece of the puzzle was assembled within the others, completing the image. Suddenly, she remembered their time together, and the memory itself was enough to make her heart sink… of how his lips felt under hers, of his strong, powerful body over hers. But soon, another disturbing thought crept in…

 

I slept with Leia’s son. With her son! Oh dear…

 

The thought was so ridiculously absurd that the sudden urge to leave Leia’s side for a few moments to hide the blush that crept on her face became a pressing need, for the images of Kylo in all his naked glory in his bed that very morning resurfaced at the back of her mind. “Wait, I’ll go fetch a cloth for you,” she slipped into her ear as an excuse, racing to the bathroom so her heart would stop thundering in her ears.

 

She got into the bathroom and locked herself up for a few moments to calm the hurricane in her mind. She couldn’t believe what was happening. It sounded so surreal, as if she were watching a sci-fi movie. She rested both arms on the sink and looked at herself in the mirror as she took air into her lungs several times. Saying she looked like a mess was an understatement. The makeup she’d put on to meet with Kylo that night had almost disappeared with the river of tears she’d shed, but some of it had smeared all over her face, highlighting even more the gray rims under her eyes. She looked exhausted, no doubt because she hadn’t been able to rest and it was very late at night.

 

She inhaled sharply again and turned the water on to rinse her skin. The feeling of the cold water was a relief. She dried her face and looked at herself again. I can do this, I can do this. I have to be there for her, whatever the truth is, she encouraged herself in silence. And I have to get back to Kylo, as soon as possible. There’s no time

 

She straightened before the mirror, and took air in one last time for courage before fetching the cloth and heading back for the living room. She handed the fabric to Leia, who shook her red, swollen face in silent gratitude. The elder woman unceremoniously blew her nose and wiped her wet face, while Rei sat back down next to her, eyeing her with concern.

 

“Are you okay?” she asked gently, seeking her gaze as she wrapped her long fingers around Leia’s forearm.

 

The elder woman inhaled, long and slow a couple of times, nodding silently before shutting her eyes as if reining herself in. She was probably going through a storm of emotions, and Rei impatiently waited; her knee had started to move restlessly with her pressing questions and stress.

 

But finally, Leia’s soft chocolate eyes opened once more and she peered at Rei. “I’m alright, Rei…just in a state of shock,” she explained, pausing a few seconds.

 

“Are you willing to explain? I’m so confused....”

 

Leia nodded in approval. Her chest inhaled a deep, long breath before she started. “Ben and I weren’t close…we fell apart, years ago. He was mostly living on his own since he was young, or with his father, Han,” she explained before stopping again. “This is why you never met him,” she said, looking at her feet.

 

Rei remembered what had happened to Han. “If…I recall correctly, Han died several years ago in a car crash, right?”

 

Leia’s stare turned inward, her gaze lost on the horizon. “Yes…” she said absentmindedly before she looked at Rei straight in the eye, causing the young woman to unwillingly shiver. “Ben was in that crash too.”

 

What?” Rei muttered, frowning, not quite believing what she was hearing. “He-he was…wait, he was the one driving?” she asked, knowing how Han had died in this mysterious crash. She didn’t remember exactly how she’d found out, but if she recalled correctly, it had been through Luke and Master San Tekka.

 

“Yes, Ben was driving that day. From the witnesses that saw them right before the crash, they had fought and were in the middle of a bitter argument. Ben took the keys and was on his way to take his father back to his apartment when a car hit them from the side. It dove down and started to burn when it crashed to the ground,” explained Leia with difficulty. She shut her eyelids for an instant, no doubt the memories of the traumatic accident coming back to her mind. “We found Han’s body, it was burnt, but Ben’s…” she swallowed, before trying to control the shaking in her voice. “It was too carbonized to be identified.”

 

Rei clamped a hand over her mouth, sickness rising in her guts. But after a couple of moments where she eyed Leia with horror, she linked two and two. “But - but then…that wasn’t him!”

 

Leia rubbed her face. “I-I know, this, this is madness. He’s alive. But what happened to him then?” she exclaimed as her gaze sought Rei’s for answers.

 

All of a sudden, Rei recalled.

 

Kylo’s dream, his nightmare…This is it! He remembered an accident!

 

Rei’s hand aimed to grab Leia’s, which was as cold as ice. “Leia, Kyl - I mean, Ben told me about this,” she explained as Leia had her undivided attention. “He had a nightmare…he told me he dreamt about some sort of accident, that there was a scream, and then he felt like he was free-falling and that he was in pain. I immediately knew he was reliving a trauma, because he was shaking all over,” she recalled, now taking in how Leia’s jaw had dropped.

 

“So that’s what happened! He fell out of the car…wait, there was a video of the crash…I-”

 

They were interrupted by Chewie, who came back into the apartment. Leia raced to ask, “Did you get a hold of them?”

 

“No, nobody is answering,” he grunted, shaking his hairy head.

 

A deep line drew between Leia’s brows. “Very well. We have to go then, get my hovercar ready. We need to get to the prison as fast as possible. I will not let Poe execute him!”

 

Chewie nodded and stormed out of the apartment again, while Leia stood up. “I am going to save my son.”

 

Rei rose immediately to follow her. “I’m going with you! We need to get there fast!”

 

The elder smiled widely, and picking up her things hastily, both women raced out of the apartment building.

 

 

The hovercar’s purr was the only thing Rei could hear while Chewie drove them toward the prison. Leia was silently, but nervously, sliding her fingers over the screen of her tablet, searching for something, while Rei glanced out the window as the multicolored lights of the city’s nightlife reflected on her face. She was working her bottom lip between her teeth and eating her fingernails so much they were bleeding.

 

Her storming thoughts kept her awake…they unavoidably drew back to Kylo…to Ben? It was so strange to use another name for him. After all, she’d been the one to baptize him, only a couple of week ago. She remembered how his eyes had lit up with the promise of a name, with something that made him regain the humanity he’d lost. Now she connected all the dots of the puzzle, although so many more remained. Today, she’d learned the person she’d thought for so long was an android, a killing machine, was, in fact, human. A human, enhanced with a few cybernetic parts.

 

She glanced at her watch nervously. It was 5am. She’d left the prison around midnight. Her trail of thoughts darkened when she remembered her ex-boss’s words. Was Kylo still alive? Was Poe going to execute him? Unavoidably, she tried to imagine what she would do, how she would react if he had…but the thought was so terrifying, so horridly impossible to fathom that she squeezed her eyes shut in pain and shook her head in denial. No, no, they would make it, she would save him, exactly as he’d saved her - twice. However, her eyes watered under the uncertainty of it all before she sniffed, took air in her lungs and bit back the knot of tears forming in her throat. No, no no, this can’t happen. Poe will try to get the information out of him first, he can’t be dead already…he can’t…

 

Her mind lingered for an instant on that moment earlier on, when she’d harbored for a couple of hours the hope they could have a normal life after discovering he was human, only for those desires to be crushed to pieces and her heart shattered in the cruelest way by fate. How could the fatal deck of destiny shuffle the cards in this fashion? Would they ever find peace together?

 

“There is it!” exclaimed Leia by her side all of a sudden, startling Rei out of her memories.

 

“What? What is it?” she asked back.

 

“The video of the crash!”

 

Rei was momentarily stunned speechless. “The…the video? Where Kyl- I mean, Ben and Han crashed?” she raced to ask, eyes widening.

 

“Yes!” answered Leia, nearing her at once and shoving the tablet on Rei’s lap, where a video was on stop mode. It was obviously a security cam video, and Rei swallowed. Was she prepared to see Kylo being crushed in an accident, the very accident which had probably cost him his limbs? She suddenly felt sick to her stomach at the thought; she bit her lip and forced saliva to go down her throat. Her trembling finger lingered for a few short moments over the play button before she pressed it.

 

It happened so suddenly.

 

The security camera was filming from a fixed point in space; for a few seconds, hovercars were passing by, following each other in lines peacefully, when, suddenly, Rei saw a random hovercar come from a distant spot…it was aiming to cross the line of cars following each other…but instead of stopping, it crashed directly into another from the side. All this, in a matter of split seconds. The impact made Ben and Han’s hovercar fly out of reach of the camera, but the impact was nevertheless impressive. No doubt that the crash would have killed someone on the spot. However, there was no way to see if the shock had propelled Kylo out of the car.

 

She couldn’t tear her eyes off the video. She played it again, once, twice…when something unexpectedly caught her attention.

 

“Wait…” she whispered, more to herself than anyone else, before focusing on the screen and stopping the video when the two hovercars crashed. She winced. The video was small and she couldn’t distinguish the faces behind the steering wheels. “I need to enhance this…”

 

“What did you see?” asked Leia curiously. “I’ve watched that video hundreds of time, there’s not much to -“

 

But Rei cut her off. “There’s…something...wait,” she said, frowning and finding the zoom to look at the picture closer.

 

She focused the zoom on the vehicles…for a fleeting instant, she contemplated the small image of Kylo, who was distinguishable, with a full mane of dark hair…her guts churned at the image of him, younger, but soon Rei’s eyes flickered to the car that crashed into his…her eyes squinted and concentrated on the picture.

 

It zoomed right on the mysterious driver’s face. Her slim fingers pressed the enhance option on the screen…

 

…and her heart leapt.

 

She clamped a hand over her mouth.

 

“Rei, what is it?” asked Leia, whose face had drained of all color.

 

It was the ghost.

 

The very one that had attacked her and Kylo in the alleyway near her buildiing.

 

 

 

CyberKylo by the amazing RaeBarb (I'm sorry but I had a lady boner just looking at this. He's so hot!)

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

The world had come to a sudden stop.

 

It was the ghost. The ghost! The giant metallic artificial intelligence who had attacked her -  from whom Kylo had protected her by putting his life at risk. The same ghost that had nearly killed and abducted him.

 

The ghost that crashed his car, years ago.

 

Blurred memories came back to her mind. Fragments of the conversation she’d heard between Kylo and the monster during their fight, while Rei was struggling on the ground, incapable of getting to her feet because of the ghost’s deadly blows.

 

Eyes full of horror, hand still drawn over her lips, Rei was barely able to repress her inner turmoil. It was only Leia’s concern and commanding voice which stemmed the flow of her racing thoughts. “Rei, what is it?” insisted the Senator once more. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

 

Rei’s ashen face turned towards the elder woman. “Th-that’s exactly it!” She exclaimed, still shivering.

 

It was Leia’s turn to quirk a doubtful eyebrow, before it knit with the other into a frown. “What are you talking about?” She shook her head in incomprehension.

 

Rei contemplated the tablet’s screen where she’d paused the video; her finger brushed over the ghost’s metallic and artificial blond hair in the image. “That’s a ghost. An artificial intelligence droid. That’s the one who attacked me and Ky- Ben,” she corrected herself promptly, “the one I told you about before…when a droid abducted him before the police showed up!” Rei stopped, remembering the moment where she’d lost consciousness, and how Kylo and the ghost had addressed each other. “That ghost works for Snoke.”

 

Leia’s face blanched. Her mouth hung open, but no sound came out of it. She straightened, rigid with surprise, staring at Rei, who could tell she was putting together the complex mystery set before both of them. After a few moments - where she blinked several times and shook her head with denial, she asked, in barely a whisper, “Are…are you telling me that Snoke orchestrated this crash to capture my son?”

 

Rei’s jaw tensed, and she worked her throat, carefully choosing her words. “I’m…not sure. But it can’t be a coincidence. I am certain this ghost and Snoke trained Ben…I heard the ghost say so when they fought. When he protected me.”

 

“They…trained him?”

 

Rei nodded. "Yes, I'm certain. Ben mentioned it to me. He said he'd duelled Snoke, who was immensely powerful. Apparently, Snoke is also a skilled and dangerous martial artist."

 

Leia gaped at her, stunned speechless. The air grew thick as the Senator was frozen into silence. 

 

After a few moments, Rei dared to break it. She had to understand. “Leia, what happened to Ben, exactly?” She asked, despite dreading her answer.

 

Leia’s gaze turned inward, as if she were recalling something. Rei noticed how her lips pressed together firmly, and she swallowed as if trying to unknot something in her throat.

 

When she finally spoke, her voice was shaking with emotion. “It’s…a long story. When he was still a young boy, Ben was trained in martial arts by Luke -”

 

“He was trained by Luke?” Rei cried out, eyes aghast.

 

Leia nodded to confirm, and Rei’s mouth couldn’t close even if she’d wanted it to. Ben had trained with Luke! They shared a Master! Sothat’s why we have similar ways of fighting, she thought suddenly, remembering the day they'd duelled in the dusty old building in the outskirts of the city. His style had been so familiar to her she could almost predict his attacks! "But then, what happened to Ben?" She asked impatiently.

 

Leia took air into her lungs, visibly worked up. “Ben and Luke… had a falling out. Since he was a child, Ben had always been drawn to machines—robotics specifically. It-it was my fault. I wasn’t there for him, so he…was brought up with them. He even built one when he was a kid.”

 

Rei’s heart constricted. She tried to imagine little Ben, alone, surrounded only by soulless creatures in this desolate world. Just a child, waiting for his mother in the dark. But Leia continued, “Luke tried to show Ben that mankind could be saved. That there was something more than the terrible materialist ideology that Snoke was spreading. But one day…they got into a terrible fight. And Ben - Ben left…and went to work for Snoke.”

 

What?! He-he worked for Snoke?” Roared Rei in utter disbelief while the small hairs on the back of her neck bristled at the very thought of Ben working for his torturer, for the person who’d nearly beaten him to death. How sick could that relationship have been? It made her guts churn. “But-but…so then…”

 

“Now I realize…it was all planned from the start. Snoke seduced Ben. He offered him one of the most prized positions in the Corporation.”

 

Rei’s jaw went slack once more. “Are-are you telling me Ben worked at St-starkiller Corp?” She stuttered, barely capable of stringing her words together as the continuum of revelations sank in.

 

Leia’s wise face contorted with something close to despair. “It’s worse. He’s-he’s the one who invented the androids.”

 

That’s when Rei’s brow creased in horror, and she clamped a hand over her mouth. She gaped in terror at Leia, whose torn apart gaze was heavy with the implication of her words.

 

It couldn’t be.

 

At first, Rei’s mind didn’t work at full capacity, for the shock had momentarily stunned her. However, soon enough, her quick mind linked all the connecting parts of the complex riddle. She remembered Kylo in his apartment, the drawings, the studies, his scientific mind working through the mysteries behind all of it. Kylo, who hated mankind and despised humans. And now, everything seemed clear as the finished part of the puzzle made the whole picture unveil, solid and clear. Her throat was tight with knots of promising tears. Kylo…Ben had become what he wanted to become, and the immense tragedy of it all made her head spin and her insides coil with bottomless compassion and sadness. “So …Snoke crashed Ben’s car…he took Ben…and transformed him into the machine he’d put all his faith in. He trained him, and used him and his skills. That’s why Ben was so convinced he was a machine!” She explained, biting her lips and rubbing her face with anguish.

 

Leia was on the verge of coming undone. She shook her head, as if to refuse to believe it, as if the reveal had propelled her to the brink of madness. “It was a trap. Snoke orchestrated everything. I was so blind, Rei, I failed him,” she said, trembling from head to toe. Rei saw a drop roll from her cheek and pearl on the corner of her jaw before it fell and vanished in her elegant midnight-blue dress.

 

Rei’s jaw quivered upon seeing Leia, the mother of the man she loved, realize how blind she’d been, and how guilt consumed her alive - but anger boiled inside her. It wasn’t her fault. Her son had been stolen from her, targeted since he was only a boy. A righteous rage built in the pit of her stomach - a dark, revengeful desire to end Snoke. In that moment, she swore she would rip his guts apart with her bare hands. She rose a hand to take the elder’s and squeezed it firmly into hers. “You didn’t fail him, Leia, he -”

 

“I need to bring him back home," said Leia with renewed vigor. 

 

We’ll bring him back home, together,” stressed Rei, shaking her hand encouragingly.

 

Leia held the younger woman’s gaze, weighing the implications of what she’d just said. She silently contented herself with a nod, before turning to the giant man who was driving. “Chewie, please hurry up! We need to get there before Poe does anything stupid to Ben!”

 

The hairy man instantly stepped on the accelerator, nearly sending both women flying out of their seats with the impulse.

 

 

*

 

As soon as they reached the prison, Rei sensed something was wrong. She and Leia had covered their faces with hoods, and when the hovercar landed, she’d burst out and entered all the codes to the backdoor of the massive fifty story building. However, to her utter surprise, the codes didn’t match. Somebody had changed them.

 

Fortunately for them, Leia kept calm and composed. The Senator retrieved her tablet and started fiddling with the applications, while Rei’s fears and anguish were skyrocketing. She saw the elder woman enter some complex codes and passwords, until finally, she pressed her right index finger to the screen, clearly for a scan - and miraculously, the door opened by itself.

 

Rei stared at her. “How did -”

 

“A good question, for another time,” replied the Senator curtly, before pushing open the ancient door, which creaked under the weight of time, and she stepped into the compound.

 

Rei followed closely, as did Chewie right behind her. The giant hairy man drew a sophisticated long-shaped blaster out of his chestnut jacket, and Rei instinctively unbuckled her electronically enhanced sword from its holster - just in case.

 

Leia led the trio into the prison alleyways, careful not to be heard and listening to every suspicious sound. They passed dozens of cells, where prisoners were obviously asleep at this late time of the night. The jail was silent except for the faint sounds of snores, and after a few minutes of walking through the maze of corridors, Rei addressed herself to her elder, since she figured that the Senator didn’t know the compound as she did. 

 

“Leia, let me lead, I know where Ben’s cell is,” she whispered, nearing her ear.

 

The Senator cast a finger before her mouth, indicating to keep quiet, before she gestured Rei to take the lead.

 

Indeed, Rei knew the prison all too well, from having interrogated dozens of suspicious humans and andys in the past years. Creeping against the walls, and after taking an elevator and climbing up several sets of stairs, the three friends finally reached a door right before Ben’s cell, when suddenly, the sound of voices rose from the nearby room, making the trio freeze on the spot.

 

“Do you think he’s gonna spill the beans? You already knocked him out alright,” asked a male voice from beyond a closed-door chamber.

 

“He’s a tough one. But I’ll find a way to make him talk,” echoed another voice. “Even if I have to use truth serum. But I’d rather not, because it apparently damages the brains cells permanently.”

 

Rei’s blood came to a stop in her veins.

 

It was Poe’s voice.

 

Kylo was alive. But he’d hurt him, no doubt. Her teeth bared, she veered toward Leia, who was already looking at her with an intensity and determination she’d rarely seen in the elder woman.

 

Before she could pronounce a word, the Senator blasted the concealed chamber door to pieces with a special, powerful laser gun and proceeded to take out another stun gun before Rei and Chewie could react.

 

Fuck, Rei had to admit, the Senator had style.

 

Behind a curtain of white smoke, the room’s occupants slowly came into sight, revealing Finn, Poe and a half dozen other prison guards. Leia pointed the stun gun at them without a glimpse of hesitation, and Rei knew she would have killed anyone who opposed her in that very moment. “Poe Dameron, I need a word,” Leia hissed to Rei’s ex-boss, whose face whitened as he realized exactly who was there.

 

But Rei didn’t have time for negotiations, even aggressive ones. After hearing Poe’s words, and taking advantage of the whole situation, she dashed toward Kylo’s cell - Ben’s cell, hell, she didn’t know what name to use anymore. To the man she loved, whatever his identity, whatever his name was. Thankfully, it was located very near to the room where Poe and his goons had gathered.

 

She was almost surprised to find the door unguarded.

 

Hastily, Rei tried to push the handle, but of course, it was locked from the inside.

 

Fuck this shit, she thought, turning on her sword, whose crackling sound echoed within the prison walls, before she dug the electronic weapon right into the steel. She knew the door was code-protected; the only way in was melting down the whole structure. She pushed the blue-hazed blade into the metal, turning it slowly until it started to melt; and she slowly, but impatiently proceeded to carve a hole into it, checking right and left in case somebody came to interfere.

 

But nobody did. They were probably dealing with Leia, who apparently was skilled enough to take an army of those guards on by herself.

 

At last, she completed the circle and pulled the sword out, before giving a powerful, harsh kick right into the middle of the steel. After several grunts and strikes with her foot, the metallic structure gave in; it fell on the other side of the door with a loud, clunking sound, revealing the inside of the neon, dimly-lit, grey cell.

 

Hastily, Rei crept into the hole she’d just carved, carefully avoiding the molten, red metal which dripped from the door - she landed on the ground on the other side, before her gaze lifted to the figure before her, cast into a metallic interrogation chair, hands and feet cuffed tightly -

 

 - and Rei had to stifle a cry.

 

Kylo was stripped naked to the waist, his body bruised with marks ranging from yellow to deep purple, while blood trickled down his face and pale skin from gashes sprinkled all over his body. His eyelashes were drawn softly over his eyes, as if he were merely resting. 

 

He looked dead.

 

“Kylo!!”

 

 *

 

He was sinking into a void, in the depth of the abyss, between this desolate world and the beyond.

 

It was peaceful.

 

There was no more pain.

 

Darkness crept upon him, and he knew…he knew if he hadn’t crossed the border yet, death was close. He’d finally, finally surrendered to Hades. How ironic was it to feel him, like a welcoming force…his hands were almost a caress, something almost warm, close to an embrace…Why was everyone afraid of the King of the Shade? Why didn’t they consider him a friend?

 

At that moment, it was the only friend he'd ever had. A dark but soft presence. A peaceful one.

 

Until…

 

Something drew him out of his hovering between dreams, hallucinations, and reality. 

 

He noticed his ears hurt with grating sounds…some he could identify… blaster guns, shouting, metallic clunking sounds… and…wait, was somebody calling his name? The name she’d given him. But Rei was gone…forever. He couldn’t figure it out. And he didn’t care. Not anymore. Not when he all he wanted was to cross the sacred border. Not when the word hope had ceased to have any meaning -

 

- but the voice called for him again.

 

Kylo!

 

That voice…he knew it all too well. It was Rei’s voice.

 

It brought him back. Like a magnet to an iron surface, his soul was pulled back from the land of the shadow.  

 

He landed again suddenly into his body, only for the pain to come back with crushing power. Every cell of his body was screaming in agony. He jolted, winced and cried out -

 

- before he felt soft skin touch his face. Those were fingers, the supple, soft skin a balm over his bruises.

 

With prodigious effort, he squeezed an eye open and immediately bared his teeth, feeling trickles of liquid dripping over his shut eyelids as he tried to take air into his burning lungs. 

 

Images came pouring back into his mind. And he remembered. Where he was. What had happened.

 

The bastards had punched him to death for information. They'd subdued him like a captive animal with electronic weapons and metallic whips, until all that remained of him was a charred piece of flesh. One of them, a black man, had tried to stop Rei's boss in vain; they'd chained him like a caged rat to an interrogation chair, for him not to be able to make them hurt.

 

But in the end, he’d capitulated. He’d let him beat him. That horrible, despicable human. He’d let the human cast his blows over and over on his face. He’d just smirked cynically at him, as if silently acknowledging he didn’t care anymore.

 

He’d renounced his life. Without her, there was no point.

 

Do what you want with me. I’ll never tell you anything. I’ll die with my secrets.

 

He’d secretly wished. He’d wished Rei would not reveal the secrets he’d entrusted her with. He’d wished Rei would remember him…that deep down, she’d cared enough for him to make love to him, not fuck him; she’d given him her virginity. That had to mean something, didn’t it? It was his last pathetic plea before surrendering - before darkness had engulfed him. Despite everything - he couldn’t hate her. At that moment, he’d known what the word love truly meant.

 

His last thought had been of her.

 

Just her.

 

“Kylo! Can you hear me?” echoed Rei’s voice again in his ears, tearing him away from the memories.

 

How could this be? She’d fled his cell upon facing him earlier on, never to come back again. She hadn’t been there when he was tortured. She’d fled from the truth, what she’d done and the consequences of all of it. She’d fled from him. So why was she here? Why…? He had to know.

 

His head turned to where the voice was coming from. With another effort, he slowly opened his eyes, which tried to adjust to the light and tried to focus on the blurry face towering over him.

 

His pulse rose when he recognized her…her pretty brown hair, her amber greenish eyes, and…despite his state, he noticed the look of utter concern on her face.

 

He was too weak to push her back. Too weak to move or to even speak.

 

“Kylo…” she whispered, and he saw how her gaze blurred with a cloud of tears. “I-I …what did he do to you…”

 

He could only gape at her in silence. Quite despite himself, his heartbeat increased when she fondled his wounded face, and thick drops rolled down her cheeks as she bit her lip and sniffed in a powerless attempt to hold them back.

 

Suddenly, the sound of voices resonated somewhere, and Rei’s face veered swiftly toward the door. A dark expression appeared on her face.

 

He couldn’t make any sense of what was happening; he just stared at her as she straightened, rigid as a board, and watched her retrieve what he recognized as her sword from her belt.

 

There were more noises, before somebody blasted the door’s knob away- or what remained of it. White, thick smoke erupted all around the entrance, and Rei’s grip tightened on her weapon. 

 

But when the figure of his torturer appeared behind the vanishing plumes of smoke in the cell - Kylo saw Rei dash toward the man with long strides, eyebrows knit into a dangerous, threatening scowl.

 

“You!!” The young woman roared at the top of her lungs, before the man barely had the time to raise his hands in the air, indicating he meant no harm. But Rei’s fury was so thick, so raw, it crackled all around the room, and Kylo could only gape owlishly at the woman who’d nestled herself deep in his heart when she grabbed the man by the collar, ripping a part of it in the process, and pulled his face to hers. “What did you do to him?! He’s innocent! What the fuck is the matter with you, you torturer!” She spat at him, barely able to contain her rage.

 

The man’s face twisted with a mixture of embarrassment, shame, and guilt - but also resentment as he cast a glance toward him and, soon, he looked at Rei before staring at the ground. “He didn’t want to talk -”

 

“And so you tortured him nearly to death because he refused to talk?! Is that what you are, you disgusting asshole?! A torturer?!” Rei snarled. 

 

The dark-haired man gritted his teeth. 

 

“Why are you defending him - he murdered -”

 

Rei’s scowl deepened, and the grip on his collar tightened as she pulled his face several inches closer to hers.

 

“I love him!! Do you hear me?! I love him!” She roared at the top of her lungs. “And if you lay a finger on him again, I will kill you!”

 

Kylo’s jaw, as well as the man’s, went slack. Despite the pain it caused him to open them, his eyes rounded as the words sank deep within his soul. Had…had he heard correctly? Had he died and entered some kind of parallel dimension? Or was it his sick, tormented brain that was playing tricks on him? He simply couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. 

 

No words could have truly expressed what happened inside his chest, in that very moment, hearing her scream her love to the man who had torn them apart and practically killed him. A bottomless pressure and ache suddenly vanished, and he felt as if the ice around his heart had melted, and it had started to beat again.

 

“You love him,” repeated the man as if he hadn’t heard correctly either. “An android - ”

 

Rei arched an eyebrow. “Hasn’t Leia told you? Where is she?” Rei asked while a new emotion washed over her features and she looked at the door. “What did you do with her?”

 

Leia? Who’s Leia? Kylo thought to himself upon hearing her, but he was too weak and too shocked by the previous revelation to focus on anything else.

 

“Nothing, she’s in the office with Finn. She wanted to see the prisoner. I told her…he was in bad shape and she didn’t want to come for herself. So she asked to see you…but you’d let yourself in,” the man answered with a glint of sarcasm, casting a dark glance at Kylo.

 

Nose wrinkling, Rei let go of the man’s collar. He straightened in an attempt to recover a shred of dignity, before Rei spoke again, pointing a threatening finger at him. “Trust me, if she sees in what state you left him, she will have you hanged,” she snapped before taking a few steps toward Kylo. “For your sake, I suggest you get me a healer and everything I need to mend his wounds,” she commanded harshly, without casting him another look.

 

Kylo was powerless to tear his eyes off her, tall and defiant above him. But her expression immediately softened when her gaze anchored on his figure. She bent down and rose a hand to cup his jaw. The touch was soft, but his wounds were killing him and he grimaced. 

 

“It’s gonna be alright. I’m here. I love you,” she said, pressing her lips together while her eyebrows creased worriedly. “I didn’t lie to you. He tricked me with that recording, but I lied to him, not to you. I never should have left you. I didn’t know he would do this to you. I'm so sorry, Kylo…" she apologized while she brushed his face and scanned his wounds with all but a bone-weary preoccupation. 

 

If anything could have knocked the air out of his lungs, it was hearing this whispered confession. His heart fluttered and made insane flips in his chest. Now there was no denying what he’d heard her scream out loud only minutes ago. Despite his condition, despite the cloudy feeling in his brain, despite the dreadful pain in his body, he knew - the man had tricked him into thinking she’d lied to him. But she hadn’t.

 

She loved him.

 

She’d come back.

 

She’d saved his life.

 

He’d been the one to be unfair to her. He was the one who’d doubted her. The idea that he’d insulted her earlier made its way through his mind - all he wanted to do was to apologize, to tell her he loved her too - but his lips moved soundlessly as he tried to speak. His throat was aching so much he found it impossible to string any words together.

 

“Don’t try to speak…you’re a mess,” she said, fondling his cheek with her thumb and running her other hand into his hair, causing him to shiver from head to toe. How much he’d missed this, her touch, her soft, gentle gaze on him. Never had he believed she’d touch him again. It felt like being born anew from the ashes.

 

Back from the Shade.

 

His gaze never left her when she crouched next to the interrogation chair and sought something with her fingers under the metallic structure.

 

When she activated it, the contraptions around his wrists and ankles unfastened and were released - causing him to slip down and fall to the ground in terrible pain, for nothing supported him anymore and he was too weak to stand on his legs.

 

He heard Rei yell some indecipherable words, before everything went dark again.

 

 

*

 

She worked her lower lip into her teeth as the healer’s blue light moved over Kylo’s still unconscious face. With Finn’s help, she’d successfully lifted his heavy body over to his bunk, before cleaning his wounds with disinfectant and healing them with the prison’s powerful healer.

 

Her mind couldn’t wrap around the fact Poe had acted in such a vile, horrid and despicable way. It was pure revenge on his behalf. Revenge because Poe had discovered she’d slept with him and had feelings for him. But a smirk grew on her face when she remembered that, earlier on, when she’d gone to tell Leia to stay in the office until she’d healed her son, the elder woman had been so infuriated, so enraged with Poe, she’d slapped him in the face. Not once, but twice. She’d demoted him from his functions of Bureau Director for applying torture to a prisoner. Is that how we treat our prisoners? Applying the same methods as Snoke? She’d snapped and scolded him like a child, telling him to think with his head instead of his cock. But nothing had been more satisfying than seeing Poe’s face turn pallid when Leia revealed the prisoner was her son. He’d gaped at her, trying to figure out how he was still alive after what he’d pulled.  

 

However, Rei had left promptly to attend to Kylo’s wounds, while Finn had helped her gather the tools and products, and apologized a million time to her for not having stood for her when Poe had sent her off. He’d explained he’d been in such shock from finding out she’d slept with the man that had killed her Master that his mind had gone blank. Finn assured her that he’d tried everything in his power to prevent Poe from harming him, that it wasn’t the right thing to do, but that their thick-skulled boss hadn’t listened to him.

 

The thought sent a shiver down Rei’s spine. He’d barely made it. It was a miracle she’d arrived just in time to save him.

 

Now, she looked at the wounds closely as the healer mended the blue bruised skin, knit back muscles and flesh, and closed deep gashes. Scanning his naked chest, it was evident that Kylo hadn’t fought back when they’d tortured him. The bruises and cuts were different, there were so many…as if, as if he’d simply let go.

 

Her heart constricted, impossibly tight under the thought of him being tortured for information after having lost all hope; after thinking she had betrayed him, jilted and alone in his cell. How cowardly she’d been not to yell the truth at Poe when she’d had the opportunity. All this never would have happened. Guilt sank into her, like a poison slowly doing its deed. But it was too late to cry over her past mistakes. Her jagged nerves were like skinned wires of a wrecked hovercar, and she hurried to mend his many wounds. So he could come back to her…and his mother. 

 

She was almost done with the last remaining cuts when Kylo emitted a low, guttural sound, and his long black eyelashes fluttered open slowly. He inhaled sharply and coughed, but his face, despite still being pale, had regained its original peachy color.

 

“Kylo,” she whispered, carding a hand through his soft, jet black hair

 

He blinked a couple of times, enough for his gaze to adapt to his surroundings.

 

“Rei…” He croaked with a dazed look from beneath his long eyelashes. 

 

His dark, sad, puppy eyes interlocked with hers. 

 

“I’m here, I’m here, Kylo,” she murmured tenderly, and her hand moved to stroke his forehead. Quite despite her will, tears pearled at the corner of her eyes as she remembered everything that had occurred. He was Leia’s lost son. His real name was Ben. He’d been crushed in an accident, losing his limbs, kidnapped, transformed into a cyborg and brainwashed up to the point he was convinced he was an android. How was she going to break the news to him? How was she going to explain all this? How was Leia going to react to seeing her son after so much time?

 

The sound of his baritone voice broke her trail of thoughts. “Rei…” he spoke hoarsely, “I-I’m sorry…I-I love you,” he stuttered, but it sounded as if he’d been wanting to say this for an eternity.

 

The intensity of his words broke the last dam inside her. Her face twisted, and, without being able to control herself, she let out a hiccupped sound. She wrapped both arms around his shoulders, burying her nose into the crook of his neck, where she broke into a terrible, guilty sob. “No, it was all my fault! I love you - I love you,” she cried out as his fingers fisted into her hair with an iron strength, firmly holding her head close to him; he embraced her so tightly it was as if he was never going to let her leave again. Kylo’s chest jolted and searched for air, and Rei felt salty drops roll down his cheek, fusing with the drops of water dripping down her face.

 

Together, they shed tears of fear, guilt, and sorrow in a cathartic embrace.

 

After a few minutes where they cried every drop of water out of their bodies, Rei carefully lifted her head, and their watery, red, swollen gazes anchored to one another. 

 

Something passed between them. The air grew thinner in a split second.

 

With no hesitation, she pressed her lips to his plush ones, tasting their fused tears there. He tilted his head and opened his mouth immediately, seeking her tongue with a tinge of despair and deep yearning. Granting him entrance, she rolled her own on the ceiling of his mouth, causing him to emit a muffled hum of appreciation; their lips closed repeatedly in a passionate dance as they both reacquainted to the other’s scent and taste. After having lost all hope of ever sharing another kiss, this one felt new and fresh, almost back to the time when they’d shared their very first one, in his apartment as he was also recovering from his wounds.

 

Unexpectedly, a knocking sound coming from the entrance almost made Rei jump to her feet, and they broke their embrace.

 

Rei turned to the doorway. 

 

Leia was standing there, in her midnight blue dress, a look of awe, wonder and bewilderment painted on her wise features.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

    

 

Despite her embarrassment at being caught red-handed making out with Leia's son, Rei inspected the million emotions passing over Leia’s features. One of her hands was fisted over her heart, while the other was clutched at her side, and she gawked at Kylo, who was still laying half-naked on the cell’s bunk.

 

There was a beat of silence in the cell, before she felt Kylo quickly glance at her. “Rei?” he ventured, as if seeking an explanation.

 

His question - as well as his tone - indicated he didn’t recognize Leia. Her heart constricted impossibly tight from thinking about how they were to break the news to him.

 

She turned around to face him and worked her throat, trying to offer him a smile, but all she could register was her heart thundering in her chest. “Y-you should put your shirt on, Kylo,” she told him unsteadily while she went to fetch the black garment they’d discarded on the floor when they’d tortured him.

 

Without a word, Kylo propped himself up and sat on the edge of the bunk, while his dark eyes observed the person in the doorway. Meanwhile, Leia had taken a step closer and gathered her hands together over her blue tunic, scanning Kylo’s maimed body and mechanical limb with concern as he slipped his shirt on.

 

When he finished, his eyes flickered between the two women with a questioning look.

 

With a long intake of air, Rei gathered her courage. She sat next to him and clasped an arm around his shoulders, trying to grab as much breadth as possible. “Kylo, I want you to meet someone very important,” she explained, inviting him to stand up.

 

She saw how his head jerked up to the elder woman. “You’re Senator Organa, right?”

 

Rei’s jaw, as well as Leia’s, dropped to the floor. They both gaped, doe-eyed, at Kylo for a few seconds. Speech had simply left Rei’s throat for a moment. “Y-you know her?” she stuttered.

 

“I do. I was shown some files on you,” he said, addressing himself to the Senator. “Snoke wanted you dead,” he told Leia, who clamped a hand over her lips in shock.  

 

Rei’s breath hitched and she shook her head in disbelief. “Kylo - you need to tell us everything, please. This, I mean…Leia is very important for you.”

 

Kylo’s eyebrow arched as he considered the elder woman, who had turned as white as a ghost.

 

“Why?” he questioned.

 

Leia bridged the gap between them, eyeing Kylo with an intensity that could have sliced anyone’s soul in half.

 

“Your name isn’t Kylo. Your name is Ben. You’re not an android. You’re my son.”

 

 

At first, he thought he’d heard wrong, before the words slowly sank in, and he realized just what aberration she’d just said.

 

What?" the words escaped his lips more harshly than he'd intended. "What are you talking about?” He drew his brows together.

 

“I am your mother, Ben,” said the woman softly. “You…you don’t remember anything?” she asked, while her face contorted in anguish.

 

For a split second, he doubted. But the answer came to him immediately: this was madness. How could she believe such a thing? He had no humanity in him. He was a machine. A machine made to kill, and a machine that rebelled against his maker. Nothing else.

 

“I have no mother. I was created…by Snoke. I’m not human,” he pressed, frowning. 

 

Upon hearing him, the senator frowned, too. Her hands darted to retrieve something out of her long dresses pocket. When he realized that it was a tablet, Kylo searched for Rei’s gaze.

 

She took a step forward and gently grabbed his mechanical arm. She held his eyes intensely. “She’s not lying. You’re human,” she said, pausing and biting her lower lip. “I-I had a test run by Maz which proved it.”

 

His gaze was sharp and focused on her. “You did what?”

 

He took in how she swallowed and pressed her lips into a fine line, before taking air into her lungs. “Maz ran a test on your cells,” she said, pausing and forcing a smile on her face - wait, why were her cheeks coloring red all of a sudden? “She was 100% positive. You are human.”

 

Rei had run a test on him? But when? How could…? He knew there were only two ways of testing for androids to check if there were human: bone test and semen testing. He’d learned that much at the Corp with Hux’s horrid experiments. And clearly, she hadn’t done the first. But how could she have done the second, either? Granted, they’d had sex, but it would have been impossible - or, had she…? His brow suddenly lifted as he studied her reddish cheeks, connecting the dots. “Is this a joke? How did you -?

 

The Senator interrupted him. “I’d suspected this might happen, so I brought evidence,” she said, smiling at whatever she was now looking at on the tablet. Her gaze flashed up to his and she handed the blue-neon lit tablet to him. “Look for yourself, Ben,” she encouraged.

 

For the first time since this woman had entered the room, his hands turned damp with trepidation and he forced saliva down his throat. His eyes were locked onto the elder woman’s, who smiled at him and gestured with her chin to take the tablet. Could he dare to hope? Did he want this? Slowly, he raised his mecho-arm to oblige - his metallic fingers closed around the device and he shifted it toward him -

 

- and he stiffened from head to toe. 

 

It was a picture.

 

It was a picture of him - much younger, with no mechanical limbs -- and no scar. He was dressed in a plain black t-shirt and matching trousers. Next to him was the Senator in a white dress, also much younger, with a sophisticated double-bun hairdo, smiling widely at the camera. 

 

He gawked at the image, bewildered, heart pounding so hard against his ribcage he thought it was going to burst out at any moment. His knees all of a sudden felt weak, soft as rubber, as if they were going to give out. His head spun wildly with the consequences of what was so obviously displayed before him.


How could it be? How could he be human? How could this woman be his mother? Nothing made sense. He felt he was tilting on the edge of a black, dark abyss, ready to swallow him whole. He was dizzy, he was lost. As if  the ground was shaking under his feet like an earthquake, and he was smashed against the walls of his mind. His identity, his beliefs, his world view, were being smashed into a thousand pieces, and had to be rebuilt anew. In the middle of this boundless disbelief, he still thought the evidence brought before him was a fake. It just couldn’t be.

 

Jaw still slack, he rose his head toward the woman who claimed to be his mother, before shaking his head. “That’s not true.”

 

“Search your feelings, Ben. You know it to be true,” said the elder woman firmly.

 

“No…no,” he said, his voice trembling, shaking his head harder now, face twisting between mistrust and doubt. And hope. Treacherous hope. Because if this impossibility was true, then he and Rei…

 

He turned around swiftly on his heels, refusing to meet the Senator’s stare. There were too many raw emotions in those eyes. Her eyes were bottomless wells of hope. Too much truth oozing from them. He wasn’t ready to face the consequences of all this. If he was human, why had he killed so many people? Why hadn’t he noticed before? Why had he hated mankind so much? He didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to believe any of it. Whatever the truth was, he was still a monster. A monster who had slaughtered too many people, whose victims haunted him every night. If he was human, it was all so much worse. And yet… there was Rei. There was always Rei.

 

Helping himself with his hand, he sought the steadiness of the bunk, leaning with all his weight against the edge, trying to find balance, but he soon let gravity do its duty and he crashed down on the cold metal and sat heavily with a clunky sound, discarding the tablet on the side next to him.

 

"Ben…" said a voice, but his ears were refusing to let any sound in; it felt like a muffled echo in the distance.

 

While his face sunk into his hands, fingers slid almost tenderly across his back and wrapped around his shoulder. He figured by the scent it was Rei who rubbed him compassionately, her body nestled into his own; the warmth of her hands brought him a modicum of comfort as his eyes welled with the promise of tears.

 

And then…he felt it, slowly growing inside him: doubt, a hopeful doubt, was spreading like the newborn plant he’d witnessed growing back in his apartment; it first struck a small cotyledon out of the seed, then it sprouted, growing and growing, full of hope, seeking the light…the light he’d always been so desperate to reach in his dreams, in his nightmares. It finally spread its small branches and leaves, soon reaching a full-grown tree.

 

He was human.

 

He was human. His name was not Kylo…it was Ben. He had a human name. A true name. It meant he was going to live. He could be with Rei; she could be his, in all ways. They would never have to be alone again.

 

The very thought brought another wave of near-tears to his eyes, when suddenly, a foreign hand touched his hair. This time, it wasn’t Rei’s, although the touch was kind and gentle.

 

It was the Senator.

 

Leia.

 

His mother.

 

How could he have forgotten everything? How could his past have been stolen away? For the moment, he was so confused he pushed the disturbing thought aside.

 

He blinked tears away, and his hands fell down from his face as his gaze darted up. His mother was looking at him with the most motherly and tender gaze he’d ever seen in a human being. He felt his jaw quiver as their eyes, which were of the same color he noticed now, locked. Wordlessly, her arms came around his neck, cloaking him with their warmth and love, and she pulled him toward her.

 

Something inside his chest responded to her presence, almost instinctively.

 

He knew.

 

Deep down in his gut, he knew it was true.

 

He embraced her back with a tinge of despair, pressing his face against her chest, hiding in her midnight blue dress. The three of them held each other for a while before he felt Rei break her embrace to leave them. Soon, he could hear her crying and blowing her nose unceremoniously in the cell.

 

This time, he couldn’t fight the tears back; he broke into a sob and drops of saltwater rolled down his cheeks profusely while his mother held him tightly against her body. He could hear her heartbeat there, matching his own in harmony. With a staccato rhythm, her chest moved with a soft cry and one of her tears dropped into his hair, soon joined by others onto his skull. It was like purifying water. A rebirth and new baptism.

 

“Ben…” she croaked, “my son,” her voice cracked under emotion. “My beautiful son. You’re home, you’re home.” Upon hearing her, his fingers fisted into her dress so hard he feared he was going to tear the fabric as he sobbed harder, hanging and clutching to her while his grief and anguish finally broke like a dam, ugly and unbidden. Mother. She felt so warm and loving. Never had he felt such selfless and unconditional love in his entire existence. It made his throat impossibly tight. Leia caressed his hair and bent to kiss him there before taking a step backward, causing him to lift his chin upward.

 

He had to know. He had to understand. Courage gathered inside his chest. “Wh-why? What happened?” he questioned. “Why don’t I remember anything?” He muttered, wiping the water off his cheeks with his sleeve.

 

Deep down, he already knew. But he needed to hear it from her.

 

He observed how she wiped her swollen, red face with an elegant handkerchief, and her throat worked. “You don’t remember anything?” she asked.

 

He shook his head. “Nothing before I was created.”

 

“Ben, you were not created. You were born and taken from us. It was Snoke,” she snarled.

 

It was his throats turn to swallow, and he felt the blood drain from his face with the confirmation of his biggest fear. His grief receded to give birth to a wave of thundering anger. His fist balled up and quivered; fury was slowly but dangerously turning into an unbridled rage in his bloodstream. “Please, I-I need to know everything. Why don’t I remember anything?”

 

Rei came back closer to them, bringing his mother a chair. "Thank you, my dear, my old bones will appreciate it."

 

The young woman came to sit back next to Kylo, who was grateful she was back at his side. He moved to take her hand and held it tightly in his. She offered him a small encouraging smile, but looked back at Leia, waiting for her to explain.

 

The Senator picked up the discarded tablet from the bunk and turned it on once more. When she handled the device again for him to see, there was a video ready to play on the screen. “This is what truly happened to you,” she said, and brushed the play button with her fingers.

 

He was transfixed by the video. At first, he didn’t understand anything of the hovercars slowly trailing as if nothing was happening. But when he saw the other car coming from afar and crashing into another one…his heart leapt.

 

The crash.

 

The void.

 

The pain.

 

It was his dream. It was his nightmare. His heart thundered in his ribcage. Now everything fell into place. His jaw dropped, and his eyes flickered from the device to his mother’s concerned face, and then to Rei, who now dared to speak. “Ben, there is something more…look,” she said, fiddling with the device for a minute while he stared at the screen, utterly flabbergasted. But it was pale in comparison with his bewilderment when his own face showed on the picture, much younger than now and then…Phasma’s image appeared between the zoomed pixels of the picture. Air was squeezed from his lungs as he took the tablet with shivering hands back from Rei.

 

Phasma had crashed into his car. Phasma, who’d trained him in the most brutal ways and almost killed him so many times he’d lost count. That only meant one thing: Snoke had orchestrated everything. 

 

Wait - there was something else. On the screen, next to him. He pointed his finger at the stranger and looked at his mother, whose face lost all colors within seconds. She fiddled with her hands in her lap, grabbing at her dress.

 

Who was the stranger?

 

“He was Han. Your father.”

 

His eyes rounded so much he thought they were going to come out of their sockets. She’d used the past tense. Without him allowing it, his entire body trembled. He didn’t dare to confirm the worst - but he couldn’t help his pleading eyes from silently asking for the truth.

 

But the Senator’s eyes squeezed shut and she bit her lip, bringing her hands over her face. Instinctively, both Ben and Rei laid their hands on her knees while Leia repressed the water at the corners of her eyes and took several deep breaths to steady herself. His heart was about to break into pieces as he saw the devastation on her face, confirming his fear.

 

“B-Ben, Han died in the crash.”

 

A righteous, terrible rage tore his chest apart. For a few moments, he was stunned into silence.  “That - bastard. He’s going to pay,” he hissed through bared teeth. “He wanted me, why did they kill him?” He sought Rei’s eyes for any beginning of an explanation, but Leia’s weak voice continued.

 

"Th-that day…several testimonies said you had a fight with your father. But I always ignored what it was about. You insisted on driving him back to his place when this happened."

 

His nostrils flared with anger, and his chest heaved between pain and fury. He shut his eyes as guilt conquered his insides. What if it had been his fault? Why had they fought? He remembered nothing of all this. “I don’t remember anything, and it’s driving me mad,” he said, exasperated, nerves jagged.

 

Rei intervened this time. “I wondered about this. They might have put a memory chip inside you. It’s possible the same chip suppressed your human feelings. I would bet that you were tampered with,” she paused, taking his mecho-arm into her hand. “This limb is no ordinary limb, Ben. It’s the most advanced technology. Snoke put a great deal of resources into transforming you.”

 

Upon hearing her, he suddenly recalled. “Maybe, it makes sense… But I had memories of you,” he said, grabbing her hand tight, eyes free-falling into her honeyed ones.

 

He barely had time to register Leia’s face dart upward, and how her eyes narrowed at him. “Memories of Rei?” She asked in disbelief.

 

All of a sudden, a loud bang came behind them on what was left of the cell door.

 

Leia’s eyebrow knitted into a deep frown. She was about to curse when the face of his kidnapper appeared into view, with a dark look on his features.

 

“Poe, I gave you orders to -”

 

But the man cut his mother off. “Senator - I beg your pardon, but we have an emergency,” he stepped inside hastily, without looking at him.   

 

“What is it?” inquired Leia

 

“We just trapped an inside spy - he’s the one who changed the codes,” he explained, before turning directly toward Rei and Kylo. “Snoke knows you are here.”

 

The trio all looked at each other as what Poe had just revealed sank in, but Kylo got to his feet in a split second. “That bastard Supreme Leader, I’m going to kill him,” he sneered, fists balling at his side.

 

But suddenly he felt Rei grabbing his arm. “Ben, don’t - you told me you couldn’t take him down alone!”

 

His mother rose before intervening. “Ben, she’s right. This is too dangerous.” She turned on her heels to face Poe. “Where is this spy?”

 

Poe placed both hands on his waist. “He’s in the bureau, he tried to sneak out of the compound when I gave strict order that nobody should leave. I already had suspicions about him. I think he’s been spying on us with drones from the Corporation.”

 

A drone. It lit a light in Kylo’s brain. He turned to Rei as he recalled something important. “I saw that drone once. I was standing on the roof across from the Bureau. I wondered at the time who it could be. It makes sense that Snoke would have an insider.”

 

“I will go interrogate him,” cut off Leia, “I will be there in a minute, Poe,” she dismissed him, and the man promptly obeyed and walked out of sight. Leia veered toward him and Rei again. “You have to hide, both of you.”

 

Kylo’s brow knit darkly. “Hide? But where? Snoke knows everything. He has spies and informants everywhere,” he explained. “I know that much myself, which is why I could escape him for a while, but now he knows I’m here…” his voice trailed off, but his mother intervention wasn’t deterred.

 

“You need to get out of Coruscant. You need to find Luke.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

    

Rey could see Kylo’s frown deepen on his features a little more as each second ticked by. “Luke? Who’s Luke?”

 

His mother veered toward him, eyes narrowing. “You don’t remember Luke either?” She asked, visibly surprised. “I know it’s been years but…”

 

He ran a hand through his hair nervously and shook his head. “No, I don’t. Who is he?”

 

“He’s your uncle. And he was your mentor in the martial arts for years.”

 

Kylo’s eyes all but rounded. “My uncle?” He asked in disbelief.

 

Leia’s gaze rested on his features for several seconds, her scrutinizing dark brown orbs intense, and Rei could tell she was thinking and gauging something. “I wonder how Snoke has tampered with your memories so much.”

 

Rei chose to intervene at that moment, since she’d given this some proper thought by now. She took a step forward, eyes flickering between Kylo and the Senator. “I think it’s a memory suppressing chip. Snoke used electronics on him, as well as artificial limbs. There’s no other way to erase memories that deep.”

 

Leia considered her carefully, her expression grave. For a split second, Rei thought she saw a bone-weary sadness flash on her face, but it vanished as soon as it came. It was replaced by a determined look on her aged face. "In any case, you need to find Luke. He may be able to help you, and you need to get out of this city before Snoke has you both killed," she pressed, fingers grabbing her dress as she turned around and aimed for the door, "Come, there is no time to lose."

 

Without protesting, Kylo and Rei both followed the elder woman through the compound, up to the office where Poe, Finn, Chewie and a couple of Bureau colleagues had gathered. A man she knew by the name of Edrison, who had been in charge of maintaining some database at the bureau, was chained to a chair with electronic wire cables; and it made Rei arch a doubtful eyebrow. As soon as he stepped into the office, she saw Kylo freeze as his serious, dark orbs fell on the man’s face.

 

Leia addressed herself to Poe. “So, who is this man?”

 

“He entered the Bureau as Edrison, a couple of months ago. His fingerprints and facial traits didn’t record anything suspicious at the time, but now…they don’t match the initial record, so - ”

 

Had she heard correctly? The fingerprints and traits don’t match? But how is that even possible?” inquired Rei.

 

Quite unexpectedly, Kylo cut her off. “That’s because he’s a faceless.”

 

Everyone in the room turned to Kylo in surprise. Rei observed him closely, but for a strange reason his features were unreadable, as if he were lost in thought. “What? A faceless…?”

 

Kylo’s eyes turned so dark, they were two black holes carving right through the prisoner’s face, who engaged in a stare-down with him. Without further explanation, he took a couple of long strides toward the man. He neared his metallic hand behind the scalp of the prisoner, who struggled and attempted to pull away, in vain. Kylo seized his head to maintain it steady, and his artificial fingers cupped his head as if looking for something - until he pressed a finger deep within a specific point in his neck and Rei had to clamp a hand over her mouth from utter shock

 

— the man’s face changed. It morphed into another face.

 

“P-VY,” Kylo intoned. His whole demeanor changed in a matter of seconds, as if anger had poured right through his veins.

 

“K-yl0,” hissed the man back, jaw tense, ready to kill.

 

“You know him?” Rei inquired, flabbergasted, while Kylo straightened and scanned everyone in the room. “What is this?” She asked, almost disgusted, pointing at the man.

 

“Is it safe to speak here?” Kylo asked his mother warily.

 

Leia turned to face Poe, as if seeking confirmation. Poe’s astonished stare traveled from the man to meet Kylo. “Yes. I don’t suspect anyone else, at least.”

 

“You suspect the wrong people, that’s your problem,” Kylo snapped before Leia stopped him.

 

“Ben, I know how you feel, and I can assure you I will take the necessary measures", she said, casting a menacing glance at Poe. "But please, tell us what you know, this is vital.”

 

Kylo took a deep breath and focused. “His code name is P-VY, he’s one of Snoke’s goonies inventions. He’s an experimental type of android - a faceless. He can change faces as he wants - and fingerprints too - since the skin changes entirely,” explained Kylo. “And he’s a master spy —  I should have known Snoke would send you to do his dirty work,” he hissed at the android.

 

“Funny that you had the first idea for my prototype,” sneered the artificial man.

 

Kylo stopped dead in his tracks, his nose wrinkling in contempt. “What are you talking about?”

 

An ugly, horrid smirk came upon the android’s lips, and Rei’s breath hitched, but before she could make him shut up, he spoke again. “You’re the one who invented the androids, before Snoke made you one of us,” he said, almost tactically, as if to hurt.

 

Rei saw Kylo’s face crumble. His gaze darted immediately to his mother, but Rei’s blood boiled and she intervened first. “He’s not an android”, she shouted. “He’s a human with cybernetic parts - not one of your kind.”

 

“Is it true?” Kylo’s weak voice asked Leia. “Did-did I really invent-”

 

A silent and sad nod from the Senator caused him to shake his head in denial as the information sank in. “So…I worked for Snoke before - before ?” He questioned with a strangled voice, while Poe and the others gaped at him incredulously.

 

Leia bridged the gap between her and her son, raising a hand to his scarred cheek. “Yes, you did. He manipulated and seduced the young and brilliant scientist you were…and then he robbed you from me,” she explained, voice on the verge of cracking with emotion.

 

Kylo’s metallic fingers came over her organic ones, and he squeezed them tight. Rei could almost feel his heart clenching, for his face was tearing apart, hammered and nailed by shock and grief of the revelation of his true past, and she had to blink her tears away as she saw despair paint his handsome features.

 

The android’s cold, mechanical voice filled the room again. “Snoke will find you now that I gave the alert, and you know what he’ll do to you,” he snickered next to them in the chair —  but before he could realize what he’d said, Leia’s hand came flying onto his face with a loud slap.

 

“Over my dead body, you monster,” she spat, as a trickle of blood came down the man’s chin, and he stared at her in a mixture of anger and awe. 

 

“Ben, Rei, you have to get out of here before Snoke and his henchmen arrive. I have an idea,” she said, before turning toward the door. “Follow me. Poe, you’re coming with me, Finn, you guard that prisoner with your life. He will be useful to us,” she commanded firmly.

 

“Yes ma’am,” said Poe and Finn in unison.

 

Without any will to stay in the same room as the traitor, Rei followed Chewie, Poe, and Kylo behind Leia, who led them outside the office door and into the corridor. However, after taking a few steps away from the office, Leia stopped in the middle of a corridor, gesturing the rest to come over to her.

 

“Poe, is the north door still able to be opened manually? With an old key?” She inquired.

 

“Yes, indeed.”

 

“Good. Here is what we are going to do. Poe, first, you will shut down all the electric lights while we sneak out of the prison with the key to that door. Second, you will destroy all video surveillance footage of this place since Ben was brought here, and that includes his interrogation and all the security cameras within the prison. That is the first thing Snoke will seek. Third, you let no one enter this place until I come back with reinforcements. Fourth, if they penetrate the prison, you retire that faceless android. Fifth, I will deal with you and what you did to my son when I come back. Do you understand?”

 

Poe swallowed before he acknowledged silently, but Rei could sense he was trying hard to remember all the information...and seemed to fear what was to come.

 

“Do you have the keys with you now?” asked Leia again.

 

Poe snaked a hand into his pocket, retrieving an old set of keys. “Since I ordered that nobody should leave the compound, I luckily have them with me,” he explained before examining the set of clinking keys and finding the right one. “There it is, Senator…But how will you find your way through the compound without the lights on? This is a huge building,” he asked, handing the key to Leia.  

 

A smirk grew on Leia’s face. “You young ones have no idea about how the world was before the Apocalypse,” she mused while fumbling inside her robes. “I always keep the real light with me, and not this horrible artificial electric light.” She retrieved a small, cylinder-shaped white object out of her inside pocket, causing all of them to arch an eyebrow.

 

“Is that - a candle?” asked Kylo incredulously.

 

“Indeed it is, Ben. I see you haven’t forgotten everything about your past,” she beamed at him as she took out a small lighter and pressed it toward the unknown object.

 

What’s a candle? Rei thought to herself. She’d never seen one before, and she was maybe too young to remember any from her childhood. A tiny flame emerged, and then grew from its tip, a beautiful, golden flame with a blueish halo at its base. It was like a portable little lamp, and Rei couldn’t help but marvel at it. The yellowish light twinkled on their faces.

 

“Leia,” said Poe, “Are you sure about this? Are you sure you won’t get caught…maybe Snoke is already on his way.”

 

“What have I told you a million times before? Hope is like the sun, if you - ”

 

“…if you only believe in it when you can see it, you’ll never make it through the night,” finished Rei and Poe at the same time. Rei had learned that saying from Leia, many years ago, and still remembered it like it was yesterday.

 

The elder woman smiled widely at them. “Good, I see you both learned the lesson,” she paused while Kylo was eyeing the ritual with curious eyes. “Rei, Ben, Chewie, let’s get the hell out of here. Poe, you know what you have to do and get out of my sight, now."

 

Rei walked behind Leia immediately, but it wasn’t lost on her how Kylo glared at Poe as they parted ways - he hadn’t forgotten, but he didn’t have time to argue. Time was precious. Snoke could be there any minute, and he knew it.

 

“Leia, I know where the north wing is, do you want me to lead?” she inquired. Leia handed the candle to her encouragingly, and Rei took the object from her hands; it felt soft and supple under her fingers. Without a word, she took a look behind her shoulder, and saw Chewie passing a laser gun to Kylo, who seemed surprised at first, but nevertheless accepted the weapon with a grateful nod of his chin.

 

While they hurriedly walked through the compound’s labyrinth-like corridors, the lights turned off, and only the candle remained glowing in the pitch darkness.

 

“Good. I hope Poe erased those camera surveillance videos, too,” whispered Leia.

 

As they continued their journey through the maze of hallways, passing before cells, empty offices, and locked rooms, one could only hear the four companions' footsteps and breathing echo in the prison's walls.

 

At last, they reached the far end of the jail, arriving before a massive locked door. Through some small cracks in its structure, one could distinguish neon lights behind it.

 

“Leia, the key please,” demanded Rei hastily as she illuminated a rusty lock, covered in dust, which Rei swept at with her sleeve.

 

Leia approached, inserting the ancient key into the lock, and she turned and twisted it several ways before a clicking sound resonated, and the metallic door’s oxidized joints creaked under the heavy weight of time, soon opening to reveal the outside street.

 

Rei took notice dawn was rising on the horizon, and she cautiously peered down both sides of the street, but this early in the morning the only inhabitants were the full trash cans scattered along the sidewalk, waiting to be emptied.

 

“Quickly, there’s nobody in sight,” she whispered to her companions.

 

Leia stopped her. “Good, Chewie, call the hovercar, we don’t want to be strolling in the street when Snoke’s henchmen could —”

 

All of a sudden, roaring sounds resonated inside the compound; laser guns shooting, as well as screams and yells tore the silence apart, echoing in the belly of the huge whale-like building.

 

“Those beasts. They’re here,” grimaced Leia. “Quick, let’s get out and stay grouped together!” she ordered, retrieving a weapon from inside her robes and darting toward a smaller alleyway across from the prison. Rei raced out of the building, followed closely by Chewie and Kylo, who smashed the door shut with a kick of his boot. He scanned their surroundings and shielded her with his imposing frame; his energy morphed into that of an animal released from its cage, all muscles alert and swollen beneath his thin shirt; his irises two slits ready to jump on his former master.

 

However, Rei didn’t have time to wonder at her man; thankfully for them, Chewie had summoned the hovercar, which came into sight, and the immense man pointed and growled loudly at it. 

 

“Let’s get in, quick!” yelled Rei, gesturing to Leia to get in first. The car hadn’t even landed properly yet, but Chewie aimed for the driver’s seat while the elder woman climbed into the back. Rei jumped in behind her, pushing and helping her to get in before turning around and offering her hand to Kylo.

 

Dark chocolate eyes locked with hazel before he grabbed her hand, and she pulled him inside, baring her teeth with the effort.

 

“Punch it, Chewie, we’re all in!” commanded the Senator, and the hovercar whisked upward so swiftly they were all glued to their seats with the propulsion.

 

After a short few moments, Rei breathed out in relief, while Kylo kept checking the rear window to see if they were being followed.

 

“How did we make it?” asked Rei incredulously, while she willed herself to calm the pounding heart in her ribcage. For a few minutes out there, she’d feared the worse, but against all odds, they had made it out of there alive. It was a miracle

 

Leia grumbled next to her as she scanned the dawn rising on the horizon of the cityscape. “I don’t know. Either they let us go, or we made it in time. Turning all the lights and security cameras down was essential. Snoke relies on those to spy on everyone through the camera networks.”

 

On her other side, Kylo’s jaw firmed as he skimmed the landscape outside the window. “If we got out by chance, we can’t stay here. Snoke is going to find us now that he knows we’re with Leia.”

 

The elder woman bent forward slightly to look at her son. “You need to leave the city, now. And I happen to have the perfect vehicle for that.”

 

Kylo and Rei both looked toward her and blinked. “What vehicle?”

 

Leia’s lips formed the ghost of a grin, but Rei knew that grin all too well; it was a smirk anchored in the past, and she knew the Senator was bringing back some old, distant memories from the most secluded corners of her mind.

 

“The Millenium Falcon.”

 

 

*

 

 

When his mother pulled the dusty, ragged tarp off the gigantic hovercraft, Kylo could have described it with many adjectives, all of them failing to be positive. Truth be told, he was anything but impressed.

 

This…thing was coated with a metallic, grayish structure which seemed on the verge of falling apart. The large, shabby-looking windshield window and the global oval shape definitely wasn’t the sophisticated, top state-of-the-art transport he’d imagined when hearing the name “Millenium Falcon” ring in his ears with the promise of something grandiose, and almost aristocratic. However, this hovercraft seemed straight out of a pre-apocalypse time.

 

Was this really the famous ship his mother had talked about?

 

“That’s a piece of junk!” he exclaimed, circling the curious-looking vehicle with his hands on his hips, before turning to both women; Rei also seemed slightly unsettled and unimpressed.

 

“Don’t let appearances fool you, son. This hovercraft is one of the fastest in the City.”

 

“You gotta be kidding…” he said, not believing a word. During his missions for Snoke, he’d driven the best hovercars and hoverbikes produced by the Starkiller Corporation. Surely there was nothing better than that

 

“Well, believe it or not, the Millenium Falcon made the Kessel Run in 11 minutes,” said Leia, who was on the verge of bursting into laughter when she observed how his eyes rounded as big as flying saucers. 

 

The Kessel run was a famous hovercar race in Coruscant. The sort of competition people adored because it allowed them to not to think about their daily, miserable lives. Snoke had encouraged the races more and more in the last years, to ‘keep people happy,’ as his raspy, disgusting voice used to say.

 

“11 minutes?! That’s impossible!” Kylo cried out, before he saw Rei’s lips curve in an amused, crooked grin. 

 

“Guess the garbage will do,” she mused, winking at him, and he found himself almost blushing.

 

“Your father built it,” said Leia, her expression turning grave and somewhat sad.

 

Kylo’s jaw dropped. “M-my father?” he repeated in a whisper, turning his gaze upon the vehicle with a renewed eye. He brushed his organic hand over the cold structure, dusting it off a bit. Silence took the center stage, before he dared to ask. “He was a pilot?”

 

“One of the very best. I really hope you recover your memories, Ben.” She bit her lower lip between her teeth as Kylo looked down at his black boots. 

 

“I hope so too.”

 

Rei came toward Leia and took her hand into hers. “Thank you, for lending us the Falcon. We’ll take good care of it. Ben is an excellent driver, I’ve seen him pilot,” she said, casting him a glance, lips curving into that smile he adored above all things in this forsaken world. He felt his cheek heat up under the compliment, so he quickly changed the subject.

 

“I can’t leave without Milly. And the plants…?” he addressed himself to Rei.

 

“Plants?” asked a puzzled Leia, eyebrow knitting together. 

 

“Is-is it safe to talk here?” inquired Kylo, scanning the private garage they found themselves in. It was located in the basement of Leia’s apartment, and they had driven directly into it, shielding all the windows of the diplomatic hovercar in black so no one could recognize them. 

 

“Yes. I check daily to see if I’m being spied on. The microphones I’ve removed could pile up as high as the Himalayas. I think Snoke got tired of trying,” deadpanned Leia.

 

Kylo bridged the gap between them. “Mother, there is something you need to do for me. I can’t explain in details, there is no time. I have a place, a secret hideout, where I have saved plants from Snoke’s grasp…as well as a cat.”

 

Leia’s eyes flashed open wide. “A cat?” she repeated, dumbfounded. “But Ben -“

 

The younger woman interrupted her. “It’s real. I saw it myself. The only animal alive I know of. And she’s adorable!”

 

Leia’s mouth refused to close as she gaped, doe-eyed, at both of them, giving the opportunity for Kylo to continue. “Millicent, I call her Milly, is also in my hideout. If we leave, I need you to know about them, to take care of them, and I have to go there to retrieve —”

 

“You can’t go, it’s too dangerous!” exclaimed Rei as she took a step toward him, face painted with concern.

 

Something warm stirred in his chest as he registered how worried she was that he would leave. “I know…but I have to get this, it could help us survive out there.”

 

“What is it?” she inquired as her brow furrowed.

 

“It’s something I extracted from the plants. A flask.”

 

Before Rei could question any further, his mother cut their conversation. “If you are sure you need this, maybe…maybe Chewie could go get it,” she ventured, gesturing toward the giant. “He’s the only one that would be able to retrieve that, Snoke will face-track both of you.”

 

Kylo glanced at the man who was even taller than he was. A brick wall would have been an accurate depiction of him. His seriousness and appearance inspired only respect. “We have no choice, I need this. Do you think you can do this?” he asked the man warily. “If Snoke follows you and finds them, he will destroy everything. I c-can’t let that happen…” he explained, fists balling, body going tense with a familiar growing rage. If anybody touched Milly, he would slit their throats open.

 

The man came toward him and rose a hairy hand to his shoulder, boring his crystal blue eyes right into his, and nodded solemnly. No words were needed. Through his gaze, Kylo understood he could trust him, and he relaxed slightly.

 

Leia acquiesced too. “Chewie is the most trustworthy option. Meanwhile, we can get some stuff ready for you to leave. There’s no time, really.”

 

 

*

 

While Rei helped his mother fetch some supplies for their journey up in her apartment, Kylo busied himself with exploring the Millenium Falcon. He’d given Chewie all the instructions, and called Joy through their private communication means, assuring her that the person coming over was a friend and she had to grant him access.

 

Cutting the call short and praying nothing bad would happen, he entered the hovercraft through the side ramp. His gaze lingered on the grubby inside walls, plagued with mold, which betrayed it hadn't been used in ages; however, the ship was provided with a living space, a room with a purple double bed, a small restroom, and shower - which miraculously worked - and a kitchen. It was like an old fashioned, immense hover mobile home. Kylo found himself smiling inwardly: it was one of a kind, and it had been designed with care by a practical, down-to-earth soul. He found himself wondering what kind of person his father had been as he traced a shelf with his finger, and a thick layer of dust gathered under his thumb; he rolled the small particles between his fingers and observed them, eyes squinting to decipher the exact nature of the substance gathered on his finger.

 

Wait -

 

That wasn’t dust.

 

It was a mix of sand and earth. It was the same kind of sand he'd spotted in the laboratory, the same he'd found in the plants' roots.

 

Has this ship been in the outside world?

 

All of a sudden, his jaw dropped in realization as Leia’s words resonated inside his mind.

 

That day…several testimonies said you had a fight with your father…

 

Had his father discovered something? Was that why they’d fought in the hovercar the day they were attacked and his father died? Kylo’s hands tightened into fists as he remembered the faceless unveiling his past. He’d been a scientist, and it made sense, since he always busied himself with tireless nights of searching for answers with the plants and the lab’s documents.  And he’d even worked for Snoke. How had he gotten there in the first place? What had happened? His thoughts shifted to the video of Phasma hitting their car. It all made sense. It had all been done on purpose. Carefully planned - to silence his father. To silence him. Why had Snoke taken him and transformed him into a Cyborg, converting him into a puppet? What was the secret nested in his past that Snoke feared so much? What had his father discovered?

 

So many questions; and the answers seemed to be escaping him like water through a faucet.

 

His Adams apple bobbed as he recalled his mother’s gaze when speaking of his father.

 

Han Solo.

 

The name wasn’t even familiar. Kylo cursed inwardly at his loss of memory. It was all Snoke’s fault. All along, he’d been his toy. He’d stolen him away from his family, from his life, from his memories. Would they ever come back? His fisted hands were quivering; teeth bared from seething. He wanted to twist Snoke’s neck with his organic hand, to feel his neck break under his fingers. 

 

“Hey!”

 

Kylo’s heart leapt in surprise, and he turned on his heels as Rei entered the vehicle with her hands full of supplies. Forgetting his anger, he rushed to help her. She was soon followed by his mother, who climbed into the Falcon behind Rei.

 

While they stored the supplies, Leia showed him and Rei around the Falcon's details and Kylo knew his mother had traveled in the hovercraft before. He secretly wondered in what circumstances it had been. If his father had been with her, and what they had done.

 

All gone like the wind.

 

He felt a tug in his chest at the thought.

 

“Mother…” he asked, lips pursed, ready to burst with pressing questions.

 

“Yes, Ben?”

 

He really looked at his mother then —  and his mind suddenly wrapped around the fact that she was the woman who had birthed him into this world. It sent a tremor down his spine. Now, he belonged somewhere. He belonged here. With her, with Rei. It was what he’d always wished for: a real family. Why did he have to leave now, when he’d just found her again? His heart felt like it was pierced by an icy arrow at the sheer idea. 

 

“H-has this ship been in the outside world?” he ventured, fidgeting with his organic and metallic fingers.

 

Leia tilted her head to the side, as if she wasn’t sure of her answer.

 

“Your father and I…well, we didn’t live together. After you left for your uncle’s place when you were young, things…got bad between us. We both returned to what we knew best. And I don’t really know what your father did then…” her voice trailed off, as if suddenly lost in an intense flow of turbid memories. 

 

It struck him then, that he didn’t know anything about either of them. About his mother. About his father. Neither did he remember his life with them. 

 

A loud clunk coming from the far end of the garage startled the trio; their gazes dashing towards the unknown sound, only to find Chewie’s heavy gait coming toward the ship.

 

“You made it!” exclaimed Rei.

 

The giant man grumbled and soon, Kylo took notice of his arms, sleeves, and face - which were scattered with small scratches, awakening his suspicion.

 

“Did Milly attack you?” 

 

Chewie contented himself with scoffs and grunts, but at the same time, he sought something inside his hairy old coat, handing it to Kylo.

 

It was the flask. Kylo brought it up against the light: the green liquid inside betrayed it was the right one. Chewie had succeeded. It was the fruit of weeks of intense work and labor; and it was - maybe - the key to their survival. He beamed at the man and thanked him thoroughly, assuring himself that nobody had followed him. When the giant was assured that everything was in order, he allowed himself to breathe and asked how the plants and his poor, lonely cat were faring.

 

The man scoffed, showing his ripped sleeves. “Charming animal,” he deadpanned, and all of them chuckled.

 

However, Leia’s face shifted from a smile to a more serious expression. “Ben, Rei, you need to go. It’s too dangerous for you to stay here.”

 

A terrible silence broke between all of them, before she pressed her point with her chin. “Now.”

 

Kylo felt his strength was leaving him. How was he to part with the mother he’d found only a couple of hours ago? Knowing she was in danger here too? At Snoke’s mercy? He extended a hand to her.

 

“Mother, please come with us, it’s not safe -”

 

“My place is here. If I go, I will endanger you. Now, there’s a chance you can escape.” Her jaw set firmly, and her throat was visibly knotted, repressing tears. Of course, she wanted to come. But he understood her duty was to stay behind, that she would do anything to protect them, even risking her own life.

 

Kylo’s gaze fell into hers; where there were unspoken words, words that could not be morphed into sounds on her lips.

 

His jaw quivered uncontrollably with emotion.

 

It was time to part.

 

Without knowing exactly why, and acting on pure instinct, he bridged the space between them and opened his arms to pull her into a strong embrace. Leia’s warm hand came carding into his hair, while her other one laced around his back.

 

“Ben…” she whispered in his ear, holding him so tight she was about to crush him. She was a tiny woman, but size didn’t matter. She was a titan in the body of a woman. 

 

“Mother…” He struggled to repress the storm of tears which formed against his will at the corner of his eyes as he held her close, nuzzling his prominent nose into the crook of her neck, taking her distinctive scent into his nostrils, trying to engrave it in a corner of his mind for eternity.

 

“I love you, my son,” she squeezed him impossibly tight.

 

Drops of salty water rolled down his face at the sound of her voice, thick with truth and emotion. After a long embrace where both of them shed quiet tears, Leia untangled herself from him and looked up at him, cupping his wet cheek with her small hand.

 

Kylo’s heart was on the verge of breaking like ice in winter. “W-will I ever see you again?”

 

His mother’s mouth curved into a smile; it was sad, but there was determination there, beneath the surface.

 

“What does your heart tell you?”

 

He heard his own deep voice resonate from inside the cavity of his chest. “Yes. I hope so.”

 

“Then we will see each other again.”

 

He observed her face, her elegant wrinkles. Something in her demeanor encouraged him: he didn’t know if it was the courage which radiated from every cell of her body, or the fact her whole face showed experience and wisdom.

 

Making a decision, he slowly took a step back, and nodded. “I guess we will.” 

 

Turning around, he saw Rei dash toward his mother to say goodbye too. He took a glimpse of both women sharing a last hug, but he looked away, sensing he would break into a sob if he cast his mother another glance.

 

As he entered the Millenium Falcon, Kylo knew it was his destiny not to look back. 

 

 

Chapter Text


 

Only the buzzing of the cloaked binary beacon and the soft purr of the engines filled the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit as Rei and Kylo zigzagged their way out of the Coruscant cityscape.

 

Though she’d been less than impressed by the hovercraft at first, she could now confirm that appearances were indeed deceitful. Kylo had slipped into the driver’s seat and they were little by little discovering the many features that the Falcon hid behind its ragged metallic structure. First of all, it was provided with a hyperdrive engine, a very rare addition to this type of transport which increased its speed tenfold when activated. Kylo had to deactivate it for fear of crashing into other hovercars. Second, after fiddling with the many buttons on the console, they inadvertently discovered the Falcon could be transformed into a fully armored vehicle, shielding it from possible attacks.

 

But the most interesting feature was without question that it was armed with laser guns.

 

Christ, why had Kylo’s father needed laser guns in a hovercraft? It puzzled Rei as they drove to the far end of the city. She kept glancing at Kylo, who was concentrating on driving and finding his way as they reached the edge of the dome that covered and protected Coruscant. Earlier on, he said Leia told him of a way out of the city and Rei found herself wondering how the Senator knew such information. Had she been to the outside world? Her thoughts drifted to Leia’s face as she parted from her son. It had been the most heart-wrenching feeling to leave her behind, even if she understood why. Rei hoped that Master Luke would have answers and be able to help them against the Supreme Leader…if they could find him. Suddenly, Kylo’s deep bass snapped her out of her reverie.

 

“What does that beacon indicate now?”

 

Her chin dipped down to glance at the blue-lit round object in her hands, which emitted a regular, low pitch sound like a radar. Rei pushed the lid up with her thumb, revealing a sophisticated compass. She observed it, but the small hand which should have indicated a clear direction kept making endless circles.

 

“It’s still not indicating a clear way. Leia said we would have to wait until we’re out of the dome, since it shields the connection to Luke’s compass.”

 

Kylo frowned at her side. “Very well. We’ll have to see once we get out.”

 

Rei nodded, and quite unwillingly, she yawed, covering her mouth with her palm, eyes watery from exhaustion. She hadn’t slept at all and the last two days’ events had been an emotional rollercoaster. Her eyelid threatened to close and she struggled to keep them open. She saw Kylo cast her a concerned glance.

 

“You should get some sleep. You look very tired.”

 

She shook her head. “I’m not leaving you, not when we’re about to get out of this horrible place.”

 

Kylo’s lips twisted upward into a small smile. “I understand. But you need to rest.”

 

“I’ll rest when we find a safe spot.”

 

“Did you check if we have the oxygen masks and bottles stored?”

 

“Yes, Leia said the only ones left were in the storage compartment. We’ll have to filter the air with the Falcon’s purifying mechanism,” she said, pointing at a power button. “She said this function had to be activated when we come out of the tunnel into the outside.”

 

Kylo’s face veered to consider her. She could decipher he was thinking about something, for his features looked serious. “He’s been outside,” he provided after a few moments, but upon seeing her puzzled face, he added. “My father, I mean.”

 

She nodded in agreement. “I think so too. There’s no other explanation. Maybe he was looking for Luke?”

 

Kylo’s lips pressed together in a thin line. “Maybe. This hovercraft is filled with dust. The same that I found in the plants.”

 

Rei’s eyes widened as she considered him. “Are you sure?”

 

“Positive.”

 

Her brow knitted into a deep frown. “Maybe Luke will know,” she remarked, before she remembered something important. “You know that he was my Master, too?”

 

That made Kylo’s eyes bore straight into hers. “What? But- ”

 

She cut him off. “I know. It’s very strange. When Leia told me you were also trained by him, I was taken aback. Apparently, you were trained as a young boy, and I knew Luke when I was already a teen.”

 

Rei heard him grunt lowly, half in frustration, half in disbelief. “I…I hope there’s a way to get my memories back.”

 

Her eyebrows creased in pain for him. He’d suffered so much already, and she understood his frustration. “I really hope so, too.”

 

Silence filled the cockpit as Kylo focused again on where he was going. Rei attempted to relax in the seat. It was nice and warm, causing her to doze off as she reflected on all the events absentmindedly.

 

I can’t go to sleep, not now that he needs me…

 

I can’t sleep

 

I - 

***

 

The next thing Rei knew, she was cracking an eye open in the dark. She squeezed them shut again, and blinked, trying to decipher where she was and make sense of her surroundings. She felt hot, and the faint light filling the unknown place didn’t betray any indication of where she was. Soon enough though, memories poured back into her mind.

 

The escape.

 

The Falcon.

 

Now, she noticed she was laying on a soft fabric and felt Kylo’s mechanical arm fastened protectively around her waist, holding her tight against his chest. She progressively took notice of his steady breathing in her ear. She stirred in his grasp, trying to understand where they were, before her eyes settled on the ceiling and the rest of the room.

 

Oh. He’d taken her to the Falcon’s bed. And taken off her pants in the process.

 

Had they made it out of Coruscant? Where were they?

 

She attempted to free herself from his grasp without waking him up, however, she completely failed: as soon as she moved, Kylo’s arm tugged her right back into the sheets.

 

“Hmm, go back to sleep,” he mumbled.

 

“Where are we?” she raced to ask now that he was awake.

 

“In bed.”

 

She could have slapped his shoulder but she didn’t. Instead, she lay back down on her belly and contemplated his dimly-lit face. A faint yellowish light emanated from the cracks in the windows’ metallic curtain, enabling her to see him. She brushed a curl out of his face.

“I meant, did we get out of Coruscant, dummy.”

 

His eyelashes didn’t even stir. “Yes. Found a spot where to stay. Blinded the ship. Go back to sleep,” he croaked, voice thick with sleep.

 

She felt so excited to know they had made it outside that it was impossible for her to keep calm or sleep. She hadn’t felt so rested in a long time. And all she wanted to do was to see where they were. But if he’d cloaked the ship to keep them protected and it was useless to try to figure it out right now.

 

Instead, another idea crossed her mind. An idea which would fully awaken the man drifting back to sleep next to her.

 

Giggling inwardly, a wicked smile appeared on her face as she snaked a hand slowly under the sheets and down his shirt, caressing his stomach, soon reaching the region between his legs.

 

She was happily surprised to find him already half-erected and she was reminded of how he’d woken up previously with his manhood fully hard against her ass. Her hand gently cupped his balls through his briefs and she gently massaged them, causing him to breathe out a half-surprised, half-contented hum. His eyes stayed shut but his head rolled over the pillow, as if acknowledging her southern intrusion.

 

Her fingers continued to rub over his bulge, feeling how he became hard under her tender attentions. The shape of him solidifying through the fabric caused her mouth to water and her womanhood to contract at the prospect of what was to come.

 

Casting him a glance, she noticed he’d squeezed an eye open; his rich lips were parted and he didn’t protest when her hand slipped under his briefs and she freed him, taking him into her hand and stroking his soft, supple skin up and down. He felt hot and thick between her fingers and soon, she coated his tip with his liquids.

 

She shifted her body to attend his need and offered him a full view of her panties. Without waiting for permission, she wetted her lips and gave a long lick from the base of his cock up until the tip, before taking him inside her mouth.

 

He gasped out loud and she felt his shaft throb under her tongue, as she rolled it around, exploring him. The taste was manly and salty at the same time and his tip felt like velvet as she sucked on it, causing sloppy sounds to fill the room and his soft purrs to increase.

 

“God, Rei…” he mumbled, still half asleep but enjoying everything she was doing to him. 

 

Her cheeks hollowed as she took a mouthful of him again, swallowing as much as she could - needless to say it was difficult, for the man was well-endowed - before sucking a little harder each time and slowly stroking him with her palm.

 

His organic hand came over her head, as if silently indicating her to continue. She could feel his stomach contract under his pleasure as she continued to lick and suck all of him. His breath hitched when his tip hit the back of her throat and, trying not to choke too much, she squeezed him and rolled her tongue all around him. She didn’t know which was more delicious - the feeling of having him completely at her mercy, or the fact she enjoyed doing this much more now that she was getting accustomed to this. His grunts of utter pleasure were surely encouraging.

 

Unexpectedly, he found the strength to string some words together. “Let me lick you too,” he blurted out, shifting his weight to the side to reach and grab her legs, before pulling her toward him.

 

Blinking and surprised at first, Rei nevertheless wasn’t about to complain as they tried to settle on a comfortable position for both of them. His height was the biggest problem, but he seemed to have given this a thought, for he curled his body to the side and invited her to do the same, bringing one of her legs over his shoulder and kissing the inside of her thighs up. She found herself with his throbbing wet member at hand too and stroked him steadily while he pushed her panties aside and his tongue found its way to her slickness.

 

She gasped a moan.

 

Concentrating on him now felt harder than ever, for his tongue rolling around her pussy never failed to drive her insane. She was powerless not to part her lips and whimper as he explored her most intimate parts, lapping, and suckling on her sensitive clit.

 

He only gave her a quick respite when he stopped to lick his lips. “Suck my cock, please,” he begged greedily, his tongue giving her another long, slow swipe.

 

His pleading request aroused her even more than she already was. She forced herself to focus again on his erection, waiting to be attended. Her lips closed once more around his shaft and he whined feverishly as she did.

 

While she resumed sucking and pumping his length, causing pre-cum to ooze from his tip, he licked and played with her clit, making her pussy contract under the delicious pleasure. She instinctively rolled her hips over his mouth, and he stuck his tongue inside her, enabling her to rub herself on him, while his fingers palmed her backside.

 

She was so turned on she wanted to make him come in her mouth. She feasted on his manhood with renewed ardor, pumping him harder and hollowing her cheeks as she increased the suction from her mouth on him. The noises she was making were downright lewd.

 

His bliss was so overpowering his head rolled back and his hands dug firmly in her rear. “God I want to fuck you so hard,” he grunted desperately.

 

At that moment, Rei was divided between her desire to feel him come inside her mouth or him simply taking her. When she released him from her mouth, he didn’t give her a choice:  he surged forward on his knees and fastened his grip on her hips, manhandling her so she’d stay on her belly. He came to settle himself behind her and pulled her onto her knees, spreading her legs with his metallic knee.

 

She barely had time to accommodate herself to the position and to lift herself a bit on her elbows when she felt him at her entrance. With swift but short thrusts, he penetrated her, meeting no barriers on his passage, his thickness stretching her pussy walls in such fashion she cried out, eyelashes shutting under her indescribable rapture.

 

Behind her, she heard him mumble through bared teeth. “So tight,” he hissed, pumping harder as if he couldn’t help himself.

 

"I'm so wet for you…" she confessed in a rasped breath, mouth locking in an O-shape as he took her from behind and filled all of her over and over.

 

Suddenly, she felt his fingers brush her scalp and he gathered her hair into his hand, before pulling it toward him. If the gesture alone was incredibly erotic, his low, whiny groans and sharp intakes of air were even worse; they betrayed how he struggled to control his pressing need, sending a rush of heat down deep inside her core. Her head rolled back as he tugged a bit harder on her hair and she whimpered, the feeling of his possessive grip on her and his hips bumping into hers made her dizzy with lust.

 

She knew of his tendency for domination, and in this position, he had her right where he wanted. She was submissive and receiving all of his thick length with such willingness she knew it drove him to the brink of madness. There was something wickedly thrilling about feeling him so aroused, just for her. So she taunted him, just a bit more.

 

“Yes, give it to me,” she groaned with unabashed hunger.

 

He cursed under his breath and his answer was almost immediate; with an animalistic, feral growl he yanked her hair and plunged his girth into her until only the squelching sounds of their love-making and their bodies fusing together filled the Falcon. Her toes curled in exultation as he unleashed his passion onto her and she was powerless to prevent the moans that came unbidden out of her throat.

 

“Fuck, I’m gonna come,” he hissed, clenching his jaw. With a deep slam into her, he stilled and breathed in sharply, reigning himself in not to come just yet while he panted hard, giving her the possibility to take air into her lungs, too.

 

He released her hair and he bent his chest onto her back, coating her with his manly heat. His organic hand wrapped around her torso and found her breasts. Laying some kisses on her back, she felt his hot breath on her skin as he massaged her pebbled nipples, before his fingers came slithering up and curled around her neck. He tilted her chin to the side, so that their hooded eyes met in the middle.

 

“You’re mine,” he whispered.

 

His eyelashes closed, and she imitated him while he caught her lips with his soft ones. She savored his mouth and how his words brushed her like a caress. As she enjoyed the feeling of his tongue lacing with hers, she noticed his kiss wasn’t as possessive as his words. It was a mix of sweetness, care and raw emotions, which seemed to ooze from his soul and irradiated from all his cells. When she opened her eyes again, he was looking at her with such tenderness, it pierced right through her heart. His gaze spoke before his lips did. “I-I love you.”

 

“I love you too,” she whispered back immediately, and saw the effect of those three simple words in the depths of his eyes. He marveled at her as if his mind didn’t quite wrap around the idea he was loved in return. So this time, she was the one to initiate the kiss. Their tongues rolled together, and a soft purr of content emanated from the back of his throat as his hand slipped down from her chin to her breast again.

 

Kylo released her mouth with a wet sound to nuzzle his nose into her neck and press his lips there, kissing her under her earlobe before trailing down to her shoulders. A chill rolled from the top of her head down to her toes and she arched her buttocks against his body, her folds still slick and tingling with an unsatisfied need.

 

He understood her movement but didn’t do what she expected. Instead of resuming his thrusts, he pulled out, causing her to emit a faint cry of protest, before he crouched behind her, lifted her ass upward, and his fingers parted her cheeks. Rei’s head turned around just in time to see his mouth dart between her legs and his lips to find her drenched core.

 

She mewled loudly under the feeling of his long lick up her swollen, hot and soaked flesh. Her teeth worked her lower lip when his sinful tongue found her pink bud, and she squeaked when his lips closed around it, his nose bumping into her folds.

 

He paused a fleeting instant to tease her. “So wet.” His deep voice was thick with desire and without losing an instant, he continued to worship her pussy, licking and swallowing her juices with obscene sounds. It felt so goddamn good that her elbows gave in and her head dropped to the mattress. She bowed her back just a bit more to grant him better access, while he took advantage to play with her nub.

 

“God, you’re so good at this,” she purred.

 

His responding grunt was deep and low, the vibration sending a tingle into her center. He continued to roll his tongue around her inner lips and explore her while all she could do was moan with each slow, long lick he gave her.

 

Her head was spinning and she felt drunk. Maybe he sensed she was losing her mind, because he stopped and smacked his lips, before straightening behind her once more. His fingers grabbed her hips with an iron grip and he impaled her with a sharp move.

 

She whined pathetically under the feeling of him entering her again. He resumed his thrusts, but they were different now; slow, deep and controlled. Where his tongue had been only minutes ago, she now felt his long, thick cock plunge in and out of her, hitting all the right spots each time, reaching all the most secluded corners of her textured walls.

 

This man was going to be the death of her. She was going to die, right here, in a bed, while he was fucking her brains out. 

 

He pulled her hips back to smack with his with such intensity, she started to tremble, the need for release coiling and growing more and more inside her.

 

“Touch yourself,” he ordered behind her. She was under the impression he was almost begging.

 

Rei was rebellious by nature, but this time, she obeyed the command as fast as lightning. Her hand slipped between her legs to reach for her bud. Christ sake, she was so drenched it was almost embarrassing. But when Kylo decided to quicken his pace, to the point where she felt his balls slapping at her entrance, all notion of shame was instantly sent to the trash compactor.  

 

With low, animalistic grunts, he continued to pound into her as if his lust had overpowered his senses. Her eyes caught a glimpse above her shoulder and saw him: his head was rolled backward, his mouth parted, and his black hair like a halo around his head. It was such an intoxicating sight that she breathed a loud moan out, incapable of closing her mouth with the ecstasy he was giving her. Her hand fisted around the sheets as his hammering echoed inside the metallic structure. At this point, the whole bed was shaking.

 

As if she wasn’t stimulated enough as it was, he teased her. "A-are - you going to come?" he stuttered as if he couldn't hold on much longer.

 

An uncontrolled “mm-mh” came out of her throat for all answer and she bit her lips, squeezing her eyes shut in rapture. She pressed her head to the mattress again to improve his angle, needing to feel him slide all his length in and fill her completely, while she pleasured herself with her fingers, rubbing them eagerly against her clit.

 

The wave surged from the depth of her body, which was now quivering uncontrollably. She was close and her pussy walls contracted around his thickness - causing Kylo to dig his nails into her skin and hiss. 

 

“Rei, god, I want to come,” he grunted, his plea a confession.

 

“Don’t stop, please,” she begged helplessly. She was so close - she wanted this, wanted him more than anything. She just needed a tiny bit more -

 

Her toes tightened when he gave her what she wanted; he pumped in and out of her sheath faster, and she ground her hips against him for more friction, more of everything, wanting him to fuck every cell of her pussy. She was about to scream. 

 

Her fingers rubbed her pink pearl knowingly and the combined sensations finally made her wave crest - it was about to climax.

 

Kylo must have felt it, for he released a feral, sinful groan, and his thickness became so hard it almost hurt. She felt his hot liquids spurt inside her and feeling him fill her with his milk was the last trigger she needed.

 

“Kylo, yes!” she cried, loud enough to wake up the whole neighborhood. Air was stuck in her throat as her orgasm hit her and her eyes rolled back into her head with pure euphoria as he gave some final thrusts with strangled grunts, helping her to ride her orgasm. 

 

Her body slumped into the mattress with the weight of relief and Kylo breathed out loud.

 

Both took sharp intakes of air, trying to catch the little remaining oxygen in the room. After a few moments where his hands released her from his grasp, Kylo pulled out, causing his creams to dip down her thighs.

 

He crashed next to her in the bed, chest heaving hard, and she could now see that sweat had beaded on his forehead. She laid next to him before he shifted to the side to face her, head resting on his organic elbow.

 

“That was so good,” she confessed honestly, taking her lower lip into her teeth.

 

His head tilted to the side and he half-smiled awkwardly. “It’s your fault I didn’t last - you sucked me so well I was about to come the whole time,” he explained, and despite the dim light in the room, she could tell he was blushing under his confession.

 

She chuckled in response, inexplicably too shy to say anything. Instead, she traced his scar from his chest up to his cheek and just smiled like a star-struck teen.

 

“Can I make love to you every day while we’re out here?” he teased, a half-grin on his features.

 

She almost snorted at his request, but took the bait and decided to taunt him back. “Only if you give me oral sex like this each time,” she grinned back.

 

It was his lips’ turn to twist up into a smirk and he threw her a mischievous look but kept silent for a moment, and Rei observed he was thinking about something.

 

“I- I wanted to ask you. I mean…,” he paused, and his throat worked. “Now that I know I’m human, I don’t know if I should come inside you…you know, it could…”

 

She beamed at him and his concern for her well-being irradiated a warm feeling in her chest.

 

“Don’t worry. Maz inserted an implant in my arm.” She saw him blink, as if he didn’t understand, so, she raced to make herself clear. “It’s a birth control device…so I can’t have babies?” she prompted.

 

“Oh.”

 

His features showed a mix of emotions as the intel sank in. A certain relief, surprise…and also, was that a glimpse of disappointment? Before she could ask, he continued.

 

“It’s-it’s best like that. It’s too dangerous for you…for us, to have children. Maybe one day…?” In his tone, she could decipher this was a question, not an affirmation, as if he wanted to know. 

 

She nodded. “One day, yes.” She couldn’t shake off the feeling that he was, somewhere, slightly crestfallen by the news; however, reason commanded that it stayed like this for the time being, even if deep down, she’d always wanted a family of her own. Knowing that Kylo was human had changed everything. Discovering he was the son of the person who saved her life, whom she always considered as a parent had strengthened her desire to form a family with him. But she wasn’t ready to have children. Not in their current situation. 

 

They fell into a comfortable silence and her fingers rose again to trace the scar on his forearm, as well as the tattoos inked on his skin, feeling his hard-rock muscles under her fingertips.

 

“Kylo?”

 

“Hum?”

 

She hesitated a split second, choosing her words. “I…well, I’ve been thinking. I don’t know if I should call you ‘Ben’ or ‘Kylo’. It’s your birth name after all.”

 

He took air into his lungs and exhaled slowly. Her eyes darted up to look at him, but he was staring at his scars.

 

"‘Ben' doesn't mean much to me. I can't remember anything about my old life. But ‘Kylo' is the name you gave me.”

 

“So, you prefer that I call you Kylo?” she asked to confirm. “I really like that name. It’s…you.”

 

“I know. I like it, too. And it means a lot to me.” His eyes now lifted to meet hers.

 

Rei smiled at him and tilted her head to the side, gazing at him affectionately. “When you recover your memories, we’ll see then.”

 

He nodded and his head ducked toward her to grab her lips -

 

 - when a loud bang echoed on the Falcon’s structure, causing both of them to jerk upward in surprise.

 

Kylo’s eyebrow drew in a dark frown as his gaze scanned the room. Rei’s heart made a double leap while she also screened their surroundings to know where the noise came from.

 

A terrible thought reached her mind. Had Snoke found them?

 

Another loud thud resonated, tearing the ship’s silence apart, but this time she located it coming from the entrance door.

 

“There’s someone out there” she whispered to Kylo, who had already jumped out of bed and was slipping his trousers on. Rei imitated him, and pulled over her discarded shirt and pants as quick as lightning, forgetting all about the sticky slickness between her legs.

 

Suddenly, they both froze as an unknown voice yelled. “Is there anybody in there?”

 

It was followed by another deafening knock.

 

“Rei, grab the oxygen masks, quick!”

 

She raced to the storage compartments while Kylo directed himself to the cockpit from which he came back immediately with two laser gun in his hands.

 

They both slipped on the masks, and Rei tried to breathe normally but her heartbeat was so frantic she had a hard time concentrating.

 

Kylo gestured her to stand on the other side of the entrance door and threw her a weapon.

 

With a chin nod, he indicated he was about to open the ramp door and she answered with another headshake. She grabbed the weapon with both hands, ready to shoot at any moment.

 

The door opened swiftly, releasing a mix of dust and vapor as it unlocked.

 

Both of them pulled their guns up toward the figure standing before them.

 

“Freeze!” screamed Rei at the top of her lungs -

 

- before she blinked. Several times.

 

The man standing before them was not one of Snoke’s goons. Or at least, he didn’t seem like one, for he raised his hands in the air. “Wow, wow, wow, relax kids!”

 

Rei eyes rounded slightly as she took in the stranger’s appearance. Or, as far as she could tell, for their eyes were hidden behind a pair of aviator brown sunglasses, which were partly covered by his long, straight chestnut hair. His sleeveless bulletproof jacket showed his tanned skin and slender but well-formed chest and arms, but one of them was mechanical. A cyborg, she thought, just like Kylo. She then noticed a gun in a holster hanging from his bullet silver belt, which was drawn upon a pair of leather reddish-brown trousers and boots. Last but not least, two silver tags were hanging from a chain around his neck.

 

Lowering his arms, the man aimed for his glasses and with a shake of his head, took them off rather smugly, revealing a narrow face with piercing dark but witty eyes, coupled with a goatee and thin lips.

 

 

She couldn’t shake off the feeling that the resemblance with Kylo was striking - and although he had handsome features, Kylo was better looking.

 

Rei gaped at the man, and in her surprise, she noticed only at that moment he wasn’t wearing an oxygen mask.

 

What the - ?

 

“Running away from someone, kids? Nobody ever comes around here,” remarked the stranger, pointing with his mecho fingers to their guns.

 

Kylo’s weapon was still aiming at his face, but upon hearing him, he lowered it cautiously, not losing the man one second from his sight. “Who are you?” 

 

The cyborg grinned from ear to ear, and, without being offended by their suspiciousness, he offered his hand to Kylo.

 

“I’m Johnny Silverhand, but they call me “Silver”. Nice to meet you, kid.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Upon hearing the stranger's name, Kylo's eyebrows drew wrinkles on his forehead. It sounded oddly familiar. Where had he heard it before?

 

Johnny's hand was still extended toward him, rather friendly, while Kylo scanned him up and down, observing the elegant cybernetic silver arm and a red insignia on his textured bulletproof jacket.

 

The symbol was like a Chinese dragon with a crimson and turquoise head. Right underneath the symbol, it read: Samurai.

 

Sensing his hesitation, and understanding that Kylo wouldn't shake his hand, the man retrieved it and his lips twisted. "Never heard about Samurai, the rock-band?" He asked, pointing his mecho-thumb toward himself in a smug fashion.

 

The name clicked in Kylo's mind. "Oh! Right, that rings a bell indeed," he exclaimed in sudden realization, before his frown deepened. Indeed, he'd heard that name. Johnny Silverhand was a famous rock star. One day at the Corporation, he'd overheard Hux telling Snoke he'd been murdered successfully, which made Kylo suspicious now - and somewhat intrigued. "But…weren't you dead? There are tags sprayed all over Coruscant saying ‘Where's Johnny?' I heard stories…" his voice trailed off, not wanting to reveal anything, as he scanned his reaction.

 

It was the man's turn to knit his eyebrows together. "It's a long story, maybe for another moment. And you are…?"

 

"Why should I trust a man that's supposedly dead? Maybe you're some sort of Ghost sent by someone," Kylo blurted out suspiciously.

 

Johnny lifted his hands in the air before he pinched the skin on his organic arm with a grin. "I mean no harm. And this is a hundred percent human."

 

Kylo peered at Rei, whose gaze was practically digging a hole right through him. "Why aren't you wearing an oxygen mask?" She inquired doubtfully of Johnny.

 

Silverhand veered to face her properly and put his aviator glasses back on. "Because I don't need it anymore."

 

"Anymore?" Both Rei and Kylo's surprised voices echoed in unison.

 

A white, bright smile broke on Silverhand's face. "Why don't you kids follow me, I'll explain everything," he offered, gesturing toward an unknown direction.

 

Kylo turned toward Rei to make a decision, but her face betrayed she was as lost as he was. Her shoulders were sloped, weapon turned down to the ground, and her astonished expression left little to decipher.

 

"Why would we trust you?" insisted Kylo.

 

"I knew you were coming here. I came to pick you up. Someone is waiting for you. Otherwise, why the fuck would I be around here? There's nobody in this abandoned city," he explained, inviting them with his chin to observe their surroundings.

 

"Y-you knew?" Rei asked, stunned with disbelief. "But how?"

 

"From someone where all the humans are living now, hidden in the mountains. He knew you were coming. This ship is called the Falcon, right?"

 

Upon hearing the name, Kylo's mouth hung open wide. Impossible. How did anybody know about their trip? He'd picked the most random desert village out of several ones they had passed to station the ship! The thought that Snoke had learned about their whereabouts made its way to his brain and froze the blood in his veins. His fist tightened around his laser gun.

 

"You're one of his…" he whispered, more to himself than to Johnny; nonetheless, the man arched an eyebrow.

 

"What are you talking about?"

 

"You're one of Snoke's henchmen," growled Kylo as he discreetly unhooked the safety on his weapon, ready to strike.

 

"What?" Repeated Johnny loudly. A deep line drew between his brows, and his features turned grave and somber. He took a few heavy steps toward Kylo, eyes morphed into daggers. "Are you out of your fucking mind, young man? That bastard tried to kill me…And he killed Alt, my loved one." Kylo observed his jaw quivering and his hands balled into fists and shook at his sides, before he pointed a metallic finger at his face. "Don't ever mention him in my presence, do you hear me?" He spat.

 

Something inside Kylo, a gut-wrenching fear, unknotted. The emotion his remark had caused in Johnny was not faked. He'd observed interrogations and people too much to know when a person was lying. He could see Johnny's veins on his temple pulse with genuine anger.

 

Kylo nodded in thick silence, and the man took a step back, reining his temper in.

 

"Now, if you will please come with me, we've got to get back to the mountains before the sun sets and the sand people come out. The Master is expecting you," he said, drawing his aviator sunglasses onto his nose.

 

The Master? Who could that be? Who knew of their arrival? Who were the sand people? Kylo turned to Rei, who was livid, probably from fear of an imminent fight. Soundlessly, Kylo let his eyes brush over hers with the question on his mind. With a chin nod, she indicated he should follow her inside the Falcon.

 

Kylo glanced at Johnny once more. "Give me five minutes to take oxygen and seal the ship."

 

Johnny lifted his glasses with two fingers to study the Falcon, before he chuckled. "That piece of junk? Don't worry, Samurai, nobody ain't scavenging that ship for parts."

 

There was a pinch in Kylo's chest as he stared at him, but he decided to brush it aside and not kick this man in the guts. Only twenty-four hours ago, he would have said the same of the Millenium Falcon. She wasn't good looking, but he knew, deep down, that she had it. He'd piloted her while Rei had fallen asleep for hours, taking them through the maze of Coruscant's dark underground tunnels until he'd found a way to get out. Free, at last. He'd driven the Falcon to an abandoned spot, shielding the ship in a crumbling garage and activating the cloaking device so that nobody could enter while they were sleeping. Hearing Johnny's words, Kylo realized how the Falcon had grown on him in only a very small lapse of time. After all, it had been his father's invention, and that alone meant a lot to him.

 

Silverhand seemed to notice Kylo's inner turmoil, for he hadn't moved an inch. "Hey, no offense man. Maybe she's not as bad as she looks like. Make it quick," he teased lightheartedly. The quick shift from his previous anger was surprising, but the man seemed to have a good sense of humor.

 

Kylo followed Rei inside the Falcon and took his mask off once they were in the cockpit with the door closed shut.

 

She considered him warily, and he understood before her lips could morph the words to life. "Do you know this man? Should we trust him? How did he know we were arriving?"

 

"If he is who he says he is, he's a famous rock star. You don't know Samurai? At Starkiller Corp, I heard they'd killed him, so this is …surprising, to say the least," he paused, frowning. "Now I'm curious. I'd like to know his story and who is waiting for us. But it could be a trap. We need to be careful. I trust nobody but you, Rei "

 

Several emotions flickered over Rei's features as she put a hand over his organic one; they went from tenderness to doubt, to finally settled on something close to a decision, for she shook her head. "I only trust you too. Okay, let's go with him and find out. I also want to know why he's not using a mask."

 

"Right. Let’s keep an eye open."

 

While Rei went to fetch a canteen of water in the small kitchenette, Kylo proceeded to grab two oxygen bottles stored in the hidden compartments, before they hastily exited the Falcon together.

 

Johnny had taken out a pair of laser binoculars, and was examining the environment warily. He turned around to glance at both of them. "Come on kids, let's get out of here," he said gruffly.

 

"Are we going far? Should I move the Falcon somewhere safe?" inquired Kylo, concerned for his father's ship.

 

"No use. I think it's hidden alright, and it doesn't attract one's attention."

 

Just in case, Kylo activated the Millenium Falcon's cloaking mode with a remote control his mother had given him.

 

*

 

Rei couldn't tear her eyes off the outside world. Alone, at night, she had imagined so many times what it could look like, since she didn't remember it from her childhood. However, she never would have guessed that there would be a permanent cloud of dust and sand blurring the atmosphere, conferring it a mystical, hazy yellowy-orange halo. Now that they found themselves in the side-seats of Johnny's massive hoverbike, she could study the landscape scrolling before her. Johnny had kindly handed her a pair of motorcycle goggles since she kept trying to keep the dust out of her eyes, and now it made it easier to see through the sandy clouds. As they crossed the abandoned city where Kylo had hidden the Falcon, she observed the worn-out buildings covered with torn apart posters where one could still read governmental propaganda. "Stay safe, Coruscant is the place." Old road panels, street lamps, and downed wires were scattered in the sand-covered streets. Gas stations were falling apart, while cars were still waiting to be attended.

 

There wasn't a living soul around. There were no plants. Everything was dry as a desert deprived of rain for a hundred years. Kylo must have flown far away from Coruscant.

 

It gave Rei the chills.

 

At one point they came out of the town into the open wild; it was a vast plain scattered with orangey rocks. Rei understood Johnny was driving them to some hills not so far away in the distance. The hoverbike's motor made such a racket she couldn't hear her own breathing through her mask. It created a cloud of dust behind them, and it would have sold their position to anyone miles around. It was an old, rusty but practical model, with a round-shaped base and two useful side compartments encased into the main structure where Kylo and her had taken seats. Hanging from the sides were some laser weapons, and Rei asked herself what Johnny used them to defend himself from.

 

She glanced at Kylo, who was staring at the landscape too, one hand protecting his eyes from the dust, while his black hair billowed in the wind. He looked gigantic in the side seat. Rei wondered how he'd fit in the first place. He almost made the hoverbike look like a toy, just as the Falcon. It made her mouth curve upward in mild amusement.

 

When Johnny reached the bottom of the sand-covered hills, he followed a tiny zigzagging dirt road that took them deep within the mountains.

 

The bike's engine slowed down as they approached the entrance of a cave.

 

Johnny entered the cave, and the bike landed with a loud clunk on the ground before he jumped off with surprising agility. "Here we are," he said, inviting them to step out, which they did.

 

Rei dusted herself off; she was so covered in it that when she took her goggles off, Kylo chuckled.

 

"What is it?" she asked, blinking, barely recognizing her voice through the breaking mask.

 

He came toward her, hulking over her, and his large hand scrubbed the dust off her face. "You're full of sand."

 

Rei didn't know if she could ever take it out of her hair, it got everywhere. "You're not any better off," she teased in retaliation, "you should see your hair, it's almost white."

 

Johnny intervened. "It's a nasty thing, but you'll get used to it," he said as he turned on his heels and walked deeper into the cave.

 

They both peered at each other, hesitant to follow him, for the cave's tunnel was pitch dark.

 

Before they could decide for themselves, Johnny lit something up. It seemed like a wooden stick wrapped in rags, some kind of torch; only Rei had never seen anything quite like it. It wasn't electronic, it was real fire. She was instantly reminded of Leia's candle. The torch cast a warm glow on his face. He'd removed his glasses, and the flame reflected in his eyes and his skin. He glanced at them, a mysterious expression cast on his features. "Come with me, don't be afraid," he invited, walking further inside the cave.

 

Keeping an eye out, they both went along, sticking close to him as he took them onto a narrow, zigzagging trail that led them deep into the mountain's belly. Apart from the torch illuminating the reddish-brown soil, darkness was the only inhabitant in this creepy place. It was also starting to get cold. The only sound Rei could hear was her steady breathing through the mask, breaking the bone-freezing silence; she couldn't prevent the goosebumps from breaking out on her arms.

 

Where is he taking us? She thought to herself, and the idea that this was a trap crossed her mind. Without thinking, she drew her laser gun out, and from the corner of her eye, she observed Kylo imitate her.

 

But as she trailed behind Johnny, staying carefully near Kylo, heat seemed to come back before she suddenly came to a halt and her jaw dropped.

 

They came before a massive opening within the mountain, where hazy white sunlight poured from a hole in the cave's ceiling. But that part was nothing compared to the dozens and dozens of shelters and small houses encased within the cave's slopes and curvy, uneven walls.

 

It was a village - almost a city - inside the cave.

 

In the middle of the cave was a pond, where the light from the opening reflected as a mirror; it illuminated the entire place with an enchanted, magical blur. Several women were crouched before it; one was praying, another one sang, while a third was taking water out with a jar.

 

From the corner of her eye, she saw Kylo take several haphazard steps forward, eyes wide, mouth open in sheer awe - as if he didn't believe what he was seeing.

 

Johnny had put the torch out by scraping it onto the ground. White smoke swirled from it, dancing up into the air, while the scent of burnt rags and wood hit Rei's nostrils. While she noticed she'd never smelled anything like it, Silverhand shifted to meet their astonished gazes. "This is our home. Welcome to Arcadia."

 

"Arcadia…" repeated Kylo in a low whisper, as if it were attempting to engrave the name in his memory.

 

"I-it's amazing. Did you guys build this from scratch? After the apocalypse?" Rei inquired from behind her mask.

 

"Yes, but I wasn't there. I came here not so long ago. I only know what the elders here have told me. But they greeted me as one of their own. Come, I will show you."

 

Kylo indicated she should follow him, and the three companions followed the small pathway that led them toward the houses which were constructed in the lower part of the cavern. As Rei continued to walk, she gazed upward, behind her, and saw that shelters were also built above them, hidden within the mountain's belly. Thick ropes emerged from small holes, allowing the inhabitants to come down from their hideouts.

 

As they walked between the houses, the inhabitants all turned on their heels and scrutinized them as foreigners. Immediately, Rei noticed that nobody was wearing oxygen masks as she and Kylo were.

 

Was it a lie? That the air was toxic? But then, why had Johnny said he didn't need a mask anymore? Did one grow accustom to it?

 

Before she could figure anything out, Johnny led them to a small, round shelter made of rough clay, where she could see a small chimney emitting grayish smoke on the upper right side. He pushed the worn-out door open and invited them in.

 

Rei had to bend to step inside. Her eyes instantly went to a very old, tiny man wrapped in a shabby, gray-beige shawl with a wooden cane in his little hands; only a few wisps of grayish-white hair decorated his bald skull, and his skin was so wrinkled it was impossible to tell his age. However, two green, wide eyes seemed to contemplate the world as if still discovering the universe's wonders. He seemed so old that it was impossible to tell his age - but if his wrinkles were a metaphor of every year that man had lived, he was close to at least a hundred years old.

 

The man lifted his chin to peer at Rei before his ancient gaze settled on Kylo, who had entered the place right behind her; he seemed rooted on the spot as he took in the old man's appearance.

 

Before Rei could phrase a question, or introduce herself to their host, the elder croaked with a hoarse voice. "Come in, come in…Waiting for you I have been."

 

Surprise knotted Rei's throat into silence. A silence which seemed to have struck Kylo too for several seconds. "So, you were the one waiting for us," he said with a suspicious look, as if doubting the old man's mental sanity. "How did you know we were coming?"

 

"Yes, yes," the man shifted in his seat and lifted his cane toward both of them. "They will arrive in a metal bird, a Falcon, two at twilight, on the twelfth month…" he said as if reciting a mantra. "Seeking someone they will be."

 

Rei couldn't prevent her mouth from dropping open. A metal bird? The Falcon? Before she could think about anything else, Kylo spoke.

 

"How did you know that?" His black brows drew together inquisitively, but the elder's smile only grew wider, drawing more wrinkles on his face.

 

Johnny, who had entered the room silently behind them, took advantage of the pause. "Master Yoda is known to have the sight. Some consider it an unnatural ability, but you can see for yourself, it's true."

 

Yoda's thin lips curved back down, and he pressed them together as seriousness washed over his wise face. He closed his eyes briefly. "The future, always unclear, it is. Always in motion," he said in a solemn tone, before opening his almost non-existent eyelashes again. "Whom do you seek?"

 

Kylo's gaze sought Rei's immediately, and she knew he was asking for her opinion as to reveal their purpose. She didn't know why, but her sixth sense whispered the ancient little man was trustworthy and that they were here for a reason. With a curt nod, she soundlessly gave Kylo the answer he was seeking. He turned his black gaze back to the Master and took the compass his mother had given him out of his pocket.

 

"We are looking for someone called Luke Skywalker," answered Kylo's distorted voice through his mask.

 

The elder's eyes widened for a split second. "Luke Skywalker…" he whispered in a raspy voice, looking up at the ceiling as if Luke would appear there any second. "So this is why…"

 

His words drew Rei's immediate attention. She arched an eyebrow. "Do…do you know him?"

 

Yoda's greenish eyes came to lay on hers, piercing her with their intensity. "Know him, do I?" He laughed out loud, but it was a strange giggle, almost juvenile sounding, and its lack of seriousness surprised Rei. "My student, he was. Yes, yes. Know him, I do."

 

By her side, she saw Kylo's mouth drop open in wild astonishment at the same time hers did. They both stared at him, attempting to string two words together - but their vocal cords seemed to have forgotten how to work.

 

Kylo finally recovered from the shock. "He…was your student?!"

 

"Very old, am I. Seen and done many things, I have. As for Luke, gone missing he has. Even from this place."

 

Kylo frowned upon hearing him. "Gone missing? But…he's alive, right? I have a compass here. My mother gave it to me. It's connected to another compass which is in Luke's possession. It indicates East, but that's not much of a clue."

 

Yoda peered at him intensively, as if x-raying his entire being.

 

"Aha, Ben Solo you are. Leia Organa's son. So they didn't kill you, after all."

 

Rei registered Kylo's jaw was hanging open again, and he was looking upon the elder with a mixture of terror and awe. She was about to ask how he knew all this, but she already had the answer. Not only was the old man a friend of Kylo's family, he had also taught his uncle, who, in turn, had been their Master. This could not be a coincidence. "Master Yoda," she said, taking advantage of the silence to speak. "Do you have any idea where Master Luke has gone? We need to find him."

 

The Master's gaze darkened as he observed her carefully; he closed his eyes and concentrated for a short while. "Difficult to say. I sense an old, big city lost in the thick red dust cloud. But to get there, you cannot wear oxygen masks," he pointed his cane at their masks. "Too deep inside the sand clouds."

 

Suddenly, Johnny, who had been standing against the wall with his arms crossed against his chest, cut into the conversation. "You will need to take them off, anyway, if you stay in the outside world. The air is still toxic, although not as it used to be, most get used to it. The process can be a bit rough, though."

 

Rei bit her lip. "You said ‘most' get used to it. What happens to the others?"

 

There was a beat of silence before he answered. "They die."

 

Without her willing it, her throat tightened. She peered at Kylo, whose skin had turned ashen.

 

Yoda's raspy voice spoke again. "There are remedies for toxicity. Sometimes the person doesn't make it. But if travel out east you must, there is no other way."

 

Rei thought she heard Kylo swallow. Or was that her own saliva trying to get down her throat? The thought of one of them not making it made a cold shiver run down her spine.

 

Kylo looked at her, and his brow furrowed. He took a step toward her. His previously fearful look had morphed into determination, and it had the primal effect of making her heartbeat rise dramatically - certainly he wasn't going to -?

 

"Rei, listen to me. I'm going to take my mask off first. If anything happens to me, you can watch over me and then, I'll do the same for you. If one of us gets sick, we can take the other back to Coruscant."

 

Her eyes rounded. Her guts churned. Deep down, she knew he was right. There was no other option but to try. Hesitation made her eyelashes flutter quickly. She pressed her lips together and swallowed as her mind raced. Her thoughts settled on him getting sick, and she didn't know if she could take seeing him dying before her once more, as he already had once before. She'd already gone through the agony of seeing his charred flesh and weakened state. On top of it, he was the one who knew where Coruscant even was. No, it’s the only way, I have to take it off first. She'd been outside before getting to Coruscant as a child, before her parents abandoned her. Certainly, she would get used to the air again if she already experienced it, right?

 

"No, I'll take it off first."

 

His eyes grew wide. "No, Rei, I think- "

 

She cut him off curtly. "Kylo, you flew us here. If you get sick, I have no way to know how to get back."

 

The argument was good enough to silence him immediately. Before he could argue back, she ripped the mask off her face.

 

She breathed in a couple of times. The air felt as if she was inhaling a pile of dust, or the entire contamination of Coruscant all at once. It burnt her nose, her throat, her lungs, as if a flame were devouring her from the inside.

 

She coughed. Once. Twice.

 

And broke into an uncontrollable coughing fit.

 

Kylo quickly came to hold her shoulders as she bent onto herself, panic washing over his features. Johnny approached as well, and knelt before her, searching for her gaze. "Try to breathe slowly, small breaths, you can do this."

 

Then, he turned to Master Yoda. "Master, do you have the detoxification potion here?"

 

While Master Yoda went to fetch a flask on the shelves, Rei attempted to do as told, but soon found it impossible. Tears formed at the corner of her eyes, and with each cough, she felt her throat squeeze with the lack of air. With deep, raspy intakes, her lungs searched for the impossibly thin amount of oxygen in the environment. In vain.

 

Until she coughed one more time. Blood covered her hands.

 

"This is not good," said Johnny in alarm, but the world was moving around her and she didn't register what he said. She felt sick and nauseous.

 

Kylo grabbed the mask from the ground before he attempted to hold her head back, but her vision blurred and a high pitch sound resonated in her ear.

 

The last thing she heard was Kylo's distant scream echo inside her head.