When Rey finally sees him again, it’s different.
He sits across from her, head in his hands. He’s trembling.
The quiet sounds of his weeping lights a fire inside of her.
She tries her best to diminish the flame.
He looks up surprised, and the light of her cot shines off the tears on his cheeks.
His bloodshot eyes flicker closed, open.
He straightens his back, grips his knees white-knuckled, and takes a deep breath.
The connection is severed, and Rey finally exhales, not realizing she was holding her breath as their eyes locked.
That’s the first time Rey sees Kylo Ren since Crait.
It is not the last.
The second time they connect, Rey lays in her bunk, trying her best to rest her mind. She closes her eyes and listens to the low hum of the ship. She imagines the energy of the machine, gliding through wires and power boxes. She puts her hands flat on the bed, and focuses on the ever so soft vibration. She remembers the same feeling, sitting on a boulder at the edge of a cliff over the ocean. She focuses on this memory, visualizing the sky before her, the waves crashing up on the shore below. The pattern of the waves, gently moving across the water until it finally breaks against the rocky surface. She imagines black waves, gently falling over his face as he grits his teeth, running his saber through the heart of Snoke’s guard-
No. No no no-
She opens her eyes and there he is, sitting by her feet at the edge of her bunk. He’s fidgeting through a data pad when his breath hitches and he looks up, out across the room, and then finally to his right, where his cloak rests carefully by her foot. Their eyes lock.
She pulls her blanket closer to her chest, her breath irregular and her heart pounding, she feels it in her fingertips, her muscles, her teeth. He sucks the air between his lips and turns back to look at the data pad.
“It wasn’t Snoke then, connecting us.” He whispers. His face is illuminated by the blue screen in his lap, and the skin around his eyes looks more shallow then ever before.
She doesn’t know what to say. Any words that come to mind get stuck in her throat. She looks over at her lightsaber on her nightstand, and while still staring at him she slowly rests her hand on top of it.
His eyes turn to focus on her fingers, tightening around her weapon.
“Will you kill me, Rey? When the time comes?”
His face looks pale, and so empty.
She feels the tears rush to her eyes, quicker then she can control, and she turns away from him, stopping her cry mid track. Staring at her own hand on the lightsaber, she slowly loosens her grip. She exhales sharply through her nose, puts her hands to her sides and sits up away from him.
“What is this?” She whispers, her voice breaking. Her hope for him, broken. He turns to her.
“If I knew how to stop it, I would.”
A long silence looms above them as they both stare into each others eyes.
(Hazel, with flecks of gold, ridges of green. They haven’t changed.)
She hears the thought in his voice, casted in her mind, as solid as the man who sits in front of her. It makes her stomach drop, and she feels herself melt into her bunk, into the floor, through the ship and out into the stars. It ruins her. Can he feel that? Her mouth opens to speak, but no words leave it.
He looks back down to his data pad, and back out in front of him, sighing softly.
(I want those eyes to be the last thing I see before I leave this life.)
Rey crumples into herself, pulling her knees to her chest. Does he know she can hear him, so loudly, so bold and honest?
“Are you trying to sleep?” He asks casually.
So, no. He doesn’t know she can hear these impossible truths.
“I- I was.” It comes out in a croak and he turns to look at her. She quickly wipes the tears from her cheeks and tries to ground herself as well as she can.
“But you’re crying.”
“Then, we’re even now.”
He huffs slightly, and stands up, looking down at her. A silent moment passes between them, and then he turns away.
The connection is severed and a wave of relief hits Rey as she lets herself break down, her tears falling freely, her muscles tremble around her. She does this until she feels restless, and before closing her eyes, she pleads with the Force to keep him from her dreams tonight.
Finally, she lets sleep overcome her, and the Force allows her this.
One dreamless night.
The third time she sees him, she sits on the floor of the refresher shower, letting the hot water cover her skin, burning, burning like the sand under her toes in the Jakku dessert. Burning like the heat of scorched First Order tapestries, ashes of his past landing gently on her skin, and burning. Everything went up in the flames that day. He had rid of his master but he couldn’t leave the legacy behind. She thought she could save him, and she couldn’t. That fact burns the hottest, stings the most, and the water of the refresher can’t overpower it, no matter how far to hot she turns the knob.
So, she soaks in it. In little moments like these, when alone, she lets herself become overwhelmed with memory, finally giving into the Force. Letting it run free with what could be or what should have been. She hopes if she embraces her mistakes that the Force will relax on her. Sometimes it works, and other times, well-
She sighs at the sound of him. Her head spinning with regrets, and grief, after truly mourning for the future that could have been, she’s exhausted. When she looks up at him, naked and spent, she rests her head against the tiled wall behind her. Her heavy lidded eyes lock with his for a moment and then off into a corner of space. Her voice comes out in a weak grunt.
“I’m so tired.”
She crosses her legs tighter and her knees toward her chest, to cover herself. For a brief moment she realizes this is the first, and perhaps only time Kylo will see her naked. But she doesn’t care to look alluring or to even look modest. She covers herself as best she can and then relaxes against the wall. She watches the steam rise from the skin of her knees. Her wet, matted hair falls to the front of her face as she rests it against her legs and sighs.
“I’ll leave you be.” He whispers.
“Thank you.” She breathes with relief falling over her, and then, a sudden pinch on their bond causes her to look over towards him.
She can’t help but feel taken aback by the look on his face, the mark of her lightsaber along his cheek, the moles dotting his skin, the utter loneliness that flows out across his signature.
He comes to stand in front of her, a foot away, his hands clenching, unclenching, and clenching again.
He snaps his jaw shut quickly before he falls to his knees.
He looks down at his open, leathered gloved palms, resting on his thighs. He’s shaking.
“I’m tired too.” He chokes.
The connection severs despite themselves and she reaches out faintly with her fingertips, for the spot where he knelt in front of her.
Her heart pounds against the inside of her ribcage.
“Enough of this!” She yells out, to the air around her, to the Force flowing throughout her mind.
This was the final time he would see her with the eyes of a person whose future was stolen from her, she decides. It wasn’t taken and even so, nothings really gone, anyways.
She can fix this. She will.
And that decision, that final realization, was the beginning of her new found hope. The beginning of the end.
The news that Kylo Ren was missing came in waves, small whispers, and terrified planning.
Rey first heard it from Rose, who found her and pulled her to the side one afternoon in the mess hall of the base.
“Did you hear?” She whispers.
“Kylo Ren, he’s disappeared. The First Order can’t trace him.”
Rey’s mouth agape, she stumbles to collect her thoughts, let alone speak. “I- No one told me... I-“
Rose fidgets with the zipper of her jacket, looking up at Rey with worry.
“I’ve been hearing rumors- some say Hux had him killed-“
Rey almost snorts at that, knowing fully well he’s alive, with just a clench of her fist, his signature burns in the back of her brain. He’s alive. She keeps her face neutral as she listens on to Rose. “Others say he’s coming for us, alone this time. And some people think that he finally had enough and just shipped himself away. At least that’s what Finn thinks.” She waves her hand in front of her face, and then grabs ahold of Rey’s shoulders. “Listen. If he comes here-“
Rey holds her hand up in protest. She already knows what’s she’s going to say.
“I’ll be ready for him.” Rey reassures. “You don’t need to worry.”
Rose exhales, and gives her a small nod. Rey gives Rose’s arm a gentle squeeze.
“Excuse me. I have to- I’m going to lay down.”
As Rey turns away, Rose grabs a hold of her hand quickly. “Rey?”
Rey looks back over her shoulder at her. “Mm?”
“Poe relied it to Leia about 10 minutes ago. I’m sure she’ll want to speak with you soon.”
Rey nods and then she’s gone, off to her bunk.
She doesn’t stop to look back at Rose or to talk to any colleagues as she hurries down the halls, her fist still clenched, his signature still burning bright in the background.
As she reaches her door, she hovers her hand over the entrance pad, and breathes deeply. When it opens for her, she looks in and he’s sitting on her bunk again. He looks up at her quickly, and she slips inside, and the door wheezes shut fast behind her.
Her back rests against the door, and she doesn’t move, or speak first in fear the connection will snap.
He looks relatively healthy, apart from his clothing in a slight tatter, his cloak ripped and looking longer along the floor of her cot. After what feels like a lifetime of deep breathes, she finally moves off the door, and walks towards him, until she’s standing a foot from him. His eyes never leaves hers, and when she stands above him, he looks broken, but relieved. She watches as he raises his gloved hand and reaches out, to her arm, which he hesitantly touches and glides his hand down. Every nerve in her shivers but she doesn’t recoil. He shifts down until her hand is in his. He holds it gently for a moment, looking at her with a sense of longing that makes her almost wince. He loosens his grip until her hand slips back to her side and he rests his own on his knees and looks down towards his feet.
“Ben... where are you?” She asks in the kindest voice she can muster.
“This has to end.” He whispers.
He looks back up at her, his face looking gold in the soft light of her cot, and he looks almost content. It’s a strange emotion to feel radiate off him.
Then, for the first time, Rey see’s Kylo Ren smile. A genuine, heart warming smile that practically knocks the wind from her chest. It makes her eyes water, because for some reason, it feels very, very wrong.
She knows his plan before it even spills from his lips.
“I’m coming to you, so you can kill me. Please.”