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Eyes Like Maple, Lips Like Lime

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Ben knew if he rolled his eyes again, there was a chance that they’d get stuck like that, so instead, he decided to openly glare at the side of his best friend’s head, wishing that he had the power to make it burst into flames. Considering the synthetic wig he wore—Poe had threatened to castrate Ben if he said it out loud—Ben knew that the fire would indeed be majestic.

Poe glanced at him with a grin, his grip on the steering wheel of his black VW Golf dropping to two fingers and a thumb in the 5 o’clock position. ‘You look at me like you weren’t gagging to dress up like John Bender and live your best bad boy life tonight.’

‘In what world does you “gagging” for Armie Hux’s cock involve me living my best bad boy life?’

‘Ah, so you do agree that you want to live your best bad boy life tonight.’

There was a throat cleared and Dopheld pulled himself through the gap in the seats, his cowboy hat nearly poking Ben’s eye out. ‘Can you keep your best bad boy lives to yourself?’

‘Hey, who’s driving here Mitaka?’ Poe responded, giving the younger man a pointed look.

Dopheld snorted. ‘You weren’t even invited to this party!’

‘A small oversight,’ Poe responded.

It was Ben’s turn to snort and he ran a hand through his dark hair and sighed. ‘We weren’t even invited? Huh, you really must be gagging for his cock.’

Poe elbowed Ben then, and added a sharp slap across his chest for good measure, which Ben laughed off. ‘Hux is an asshole, I am not gagging for his anything. However, when I hear about a Halloween party in a mansion, am I the kind of fool to say no?’ He left the question open for either of his friends to answer and rolled his eyes when neither did. ‘No, you idiots, I am not.’

‘We’re the idiots, yet you failed intro to Spanish,’ Ben supplied.

‘I failed on attendance, you asshole. Chupame la verga .’ Poe returned, his voice thick with annoyance.

Ben smirked, knowing he’d hit a soft spot. He couldn’t forget Freshman year when Poe’s abuela had turned up at their dorm and beaten the shit out of her grandson after hearing that he’d failed a class, particularly because it was a Spanish class.

Dopheld scrunched his nose up. ‘What’d he say?’ He looked to Ben for his answer.

‘He wants you to suck his dick,’ Ben answered simply. ‘What do you think?’

‘I should have just gone to this party with Kaydel.’

Ben held up his hands defensively. ‘He’s your friend, not mine.’

‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ Poe didn’t seem to be directing his words at Ben, and he was openly swearing at a driver in front, his manicured middle finger pointedly waving at them.

Dopheld took this moment to put his seatbelt back on and he leaned back into the darkness of the back seat. ‘At least if Gwen were here, you’d both be more civilised,’ he said with a sigh.

‘If Gwen were here, I’d already have crashed this fucking car,’ Poe answered. ‘Fuck Gwen.’

Ben couldn’t help laughing and he had to put a hand against his mouth to stop it bubbling out of control. ‘ Did she really come onto you at Eli’s Labour Day party ?’ Ben questioned, dropping to Spanish.

‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ Poe answered, keeping to English and leaving Dopheld with a lot of questions.

Ben watched his friend carefully and then relented with a nod, making a note to ask about it later.

Poe readjusted his hands on the wheel and straightened up, before reaching out and turning the dial on the stereo, Poe’s latest obsession with Japanese 80s synth pop growing in volume.

Ben sighed at the song choice, wishing that Poe was still in his moody Fleetwood Mac phase and he glanced out of the window, his hand tightening on the grab handle.

He really hadn’t wanted to leave their shared apartment and had fantasised about spending his one free day of the week staring at the walls rather than at some asshole’s halloween party. Ben had only agreed to go when Poe had promised he’d do several labs for him that Ben had been avoiding doing for over two months. Even then, Ben had his suspicions that Poe would try and get out of that too. Though Ben had only said yes because he hadn’t liked the way Poe had looked one bit when he’d asked him to go.  

‘You promised Poe.’ Ben muttered, low enough for Poe to hear but not loud enough for Mitaka to, who now seemed absorbed in his phone, his head bobbing away to Mariya Takeuchi.

‘I’m not being poached,’ Poe snapped and his hand hesitated as he tucked a stray white strand behind his ear. Ben didn’t miss how his other tightened on the wheel. ‘I’m not, I’m not.’

‘You’re a poor liar.’

Poe swallowed and looked squarely at the road, his eyes flicking from car to car, from street sign to street sign. They pulled up then and Mitaka slipped from the car without another word, seeming to want to disassociate himself from the two, or what was most likely, find his girlfriend. ‘They offered more money this time, Ben’

Ben huffed, it was almost a laugh. ‘How much hair mousse does one person need?’

He found a glare waiting for him when he looked at his friend and he smiled in return. ‘So you’re hoping to fuck around with one of Snoke’s acolytes for what?’

‘Satisfaction,’ Poe answered easily and then shrugged lightly. ‘It’s nice to have the upper hand on an enemy.’

‘And you need this,’ Ben added.

‘And I need this,’ Poe clarified. He opened the door and slid out, pulling his dalmation-print fur coat behind him.

Pulling on his fingerless gloves before following suit, Ben glanced over at Poe, who had paused as he shut the car door. ‘How do I look?’

Ben walked around the car, judging his best friend’s outfit, Poe pulling open the fur coat that almost scraped the ground so that Ben could judge what he wore beneath. He nodded, his eyes passing over Poe’s face, checking for any smudged eyeliner and that his wig was still glued down.

‘So?’ Poe urged.

‘Are you okay walking all night in those?’ Ben pointed to the white stilettos that were sinking into the grass of Hux’s lawn.

Poe rolled his eyes. ‘Just make sure you grab my coat, okay?’

Ben nodded with a sigh, and looked away to hide his smirk as Poe quickly shifted in his pants, clearly repositioning his junk.

Following behind Poe at events where Drisella Black appeared was always somewhat of an ordeal for Ben, as he became an almost-assistant for his best friend.

Hold my bag, Ben. Grab that coat. Bring me a cocktail. Shield me from them while I retuck.

And so Ben followed behind, his hands in the pockets of his John-Bender-jeans-jacket and watching as Poe sauntered up the drive of Armie Hux’s massive house, his back arched so the coat could lightly drag across the gravelled path.

Poe disappeared and it was Drisella Black who stepped into the house purse first, people sliding out of her way in awe. Ben couldn’t help rolling his eyes as Poe sauntered in and announced; ‘Darlings, I have arrived.’ The fur coat dropped to the ground, revealing the rather updated Cruella de Vil look that Poe had been working on for several weeks: A distressed red leather jacket, black corset and a tight leather skirt with sheer tights, being four of its key points. Then there was the masses of black, sparkling jewelry that hung from her neck, waist and wrists.

There were a lot of cheers and several of Drisella’s fans flocked to her, taking her hands in excitement as they looked over her outfit.

‘Ben, darling, grab my coat.’

Despite Ben’s reluctant position as Poe Dameron’s lackey, the man did as he was told and lifted the fur coat from the ground and handed it to the attendant manning the cloak room, receiving a skull shaped coin with the number 101 printed on it.

Armie Hux’s Halloween party had been the event of the Fall since Ben was in undergrad and it was usually strictly for those in Coruscant Institute of Technology’s undergraduate engineering cohort. It was a means of separating the wheat from the chaff and as Ben and Poe had been adamant about not joining long-time poachers of undergrad talent– The First Order– on graduating, they were no longer welcome. Though here they were.

Ben put on his sunglasses and pulled up the collar of his jacket, effortlessly navigating out of the large entrance hall that housed the grand staircase, and through to the back of the house. Poe had already disappeared; the sea of people parting for him with dropped jaws.

There were a fair few people Ben knew well enough to greet them briefly, but Ben couldn’t say he was very popular or well-liked. The fact that his mother was the Dean didn’t help and then there was the low-tolerance Ben took to people misusing the engineering labs. It did not give him the best rep. He often imagined that Poe was his friend merely because they had grown up together.

Following the music, Ben moved through the large over-accessorised kitchen and towards the conservatory in the back where there was usually a huge supply of drinks and food. The lights had been replaced with brightly coloured LED lamps and fairylights, giving an unnatural glow to not only the space, but the writhing people contained within it. The music was bass heavy and Ben’s eyes scanned over the various bodies in their ridiculous costumes, not surprised to see the latest pop-culture icons spread about before him. He was ready to slip past a grinding Kim K and Kanye for the drinks table, when a voice spoke up behind him.

‘Aren’t you cheating?’

Ben looked around before finding himself face to face with a young woman in a white mask covering half of her face with her hair tied tautly back. She wore a form fitting black jacket and cape that splayed into a tail over a frilled white shirt. There was a black bow cravat at her neck and the skirt she wore was blessedly short; the gap of bare skin between the skirts edge and her knee-high socks sinfully large.

‘Cheating?’ he questioned, removing his sunglasses and meeting her singularly visible eye, the cogs of reminiscence beginning to turn.

He knew her. Well not really. He’d seen her on campus, a chopstick often holding her hair in a bun and large glasses covering up her features. Ben looked the woman over once more and despite the poor lighting, sure enough he saw the lightning bolt tattoo against her neck below her ear and wondered for what must have been the fifth time in his life, what it could possibly mean.

‘You know me?’ he decided to ask, tucking his sunglasses into an inner jacket pocket.

She shrugged softly. ‘I wouldn’t admit knowing someone with such a poor estimation of quality Halloween costuming.’ That’s when he noted her accent. Considering he’d seen her numerous times on campus over the last two years, he hadn’t expected her to be British.

Ben smiled. ‘Would you care to enlighten me?’

‘First step, have some humility and try to avoid dressing up as an 80s heart-throb. It’s very telling,’ she answered.

He raised an eyebrow. ‘In what way?’

She grinned then. ‘You’re trying to live your best bad boy fantasy, no?’ The young woman casually leaned past him, taking up a glass filled with a lime green liquid from the table.

Ben found himself stuck halfway between annoyance and amusement, unsure of what side he was leaning towards as he watched her. She looked back up at him, and from what he could see of her expression, it seemed that she was asking him what he was looking at.

When he said nothing, at a loss for words, she tilted up her mask and winked at him. She turned away swiftly downing her drink, and Ben went to follow her, but found himself being pushed into the drinks table.

‘What the fuck?’ he turned, seeing Dopheld making out with Kaydel Connix in an exceptionally short Bo Peep costume. He withheld his desire to push the two of them away from him, and slid past, grabbing a beer as he went.

Ben moved through the bodies that had claimed the conservatory as their dance floor, careful not to trip on stray pimp canes or tails. He glanced sight of a black cape and followed on, moving through the house and finding himself in the entrance hall again, a few steps away from the grand staircase.

His brow furrowed and he groaned when his eyes caught on the familiarly muscled thigh of his best friend wrapped surreptitiously around Armie Hux’s waist, the both of them pressed firmly against the soffit of the staircase. Hux’s hand was up Poe’s skirt and Ben didn’t miss how his friend ground against the redhead, Hux’s circlet at a jaunty angle, his doublet half-unbuttoned, and with Poe’s hand sinking within its depths. The amount of saliva they were exchanging made Ben want to gouge his eyes out and he swiftly turned, finding the girl behind him again.

‘Are you following me?’ she questioned. Her mask was back in place and Ben could see her lips had become slightly stained green.

‘Yes.’

She seemed to be surprised by his reply and then another smile broke across her face and Ben found it infectious.

‘What’s your name?’ he asked.

‘Rey.’

He balanced the name on his tongue while he looked at her. ‘I’m—’

‘Benjamin Solo,’ she said for him. ‘You’re hard to miss.’

His smile dropped a level and he glanced at the chandelier hanging from the ceiling. ‘Because I’m the Deans son?’

‘No, because you’re exceptionally large,’ Rey replied.

She chuckled and he looked back at her. He met her eye carefully, taking another swig of his beer. The cup of green liquid was at her mouth and she was biting down on the plastic rim, her eyes glancing from him to the drink continuously.

‘Who are you Rey?’ he questioned. Ben was looking at her intently, his hand against his jaw.

Her head tilted automatically and she swallowed. ‘The Phantom?’

Ben’s lip twitched into a smirk. ‘Is that your way of avoiding giving me any valuable information?’ he asked.

‘You have my name, is that not enough?’

‘Is it your name?’ he queried. ‘Will I find Rey in the student registry?’

She shrugged softly and smiled. ‘Maybe.’

He caught her gaze for a moment more, wanting to read her. Her eyes were steadily set towards him and she still had the cup pressed close against her lips. ‘I’m guessing you are an engineering student since you're here.’ He began, trying to catch some confirmation in her eyes.

Rey tilted her head as she listened, a small smile lilting her lips.

‘I’ve seen you around campus for the last 2 years, so I’m guessing you’re a junior.’

Her smile bloomed and she narrowed her eyes at him. ‘You’ve seen me around campus?’

Ben swallowed, finding himself a little caught. Out of all undergraduate students, twenty-five percent were girls, so it wasn’t hard to remember them all...though Ben couldn’t bring any others to mind as of now.

‘Your tattoo...that’s why i remember. What does it mean?’

She touched her neck as if to cover the image and then her hand dropped again. ‘That information is exclusive to subscribers only.’

He smirked and met her eyes, probably unnecessarily deep considering she was technically a stranger. ‘What do I have to do for you to tell me?’

Rey’s eyes widened somewhat and she put her cup down against a nearby side table and one finger tapped against her chin while the other rested on her hip. ‘Are you flirting with me?’ she questioned.

‘Do you think I followed you around this party to give you pointers on Biomechanics?’

She laughed easily and her arms folded across her chest, quirking an eyebrow. ‘Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe you are just a bad boy and you’re already living your best life.’

Ben leaned in further, placing his almost-empty bottle of beer beside her cup and a smile turned up the corners of his mouth. ‘How do you feel about a round of tequila?’

‘I can’t say that I have anything against it.’

He took her hand then, leading her through the crowds and back into the conservatory. There were a few unopened bottles of liquor on the drinks table and Ben grabbed for one and two shot glasses with a hand. Rey slipped out of his grip and he quickly turned, thinking she would disappear again, but instead her hands were grasping for the bowl of cut limes and the salt shaker.

Ben’s eyes glanced down to the gap between her skirt and socks again as she leaned over the table and he swallowed as he looked up at her, meeting her quizzing gaze, a bag of chips now held between her teeth.

Before Ben could consider where they could go in the room to partake in the imbibing of Mexican liquor, Rey had directed him with a push of her shoulder to the doors leading outside. There were people littering the massive back garden, sitting against walls, on the patio furniture and in the middle of the expansive green. The back was heavily fortified with large rock walls, and the sheer quantity of trees of Ben’s height and above meant there were many hidden nooks and crannies.

Rey was moving swiftly across the garden, aiming for a small stone path beside a line of evergreens. The path seemed to twist down towards a back gate and she stopped almost half-way down, turning off to a quieter part of the garden that housed a small fountain —a mermaid pouring out a clam full of water— with enough purchase on the stone wall around it to easily sit on.

 

Ben was tempted to ask how she had easily known where to go, however decided to believe the assumption that she’d found the spot during a previous Halloween party.

Rey sat, pulling her cloak in underneath her and patted the space beside her. Ben put the bottle and shot glasses down beside the lime and salt between them, while Rey worked on tearing the bag of chips open.

‘So the Phantom,’ Ben said simply, tearing off the plastic wrap around the Tequila bottle and opening it up. ‘Why?’

Rey put the open bag between her knees and removed her mask, laying it beside her. She reached for the two glasses, holding them out for Ben to pour into. ‘Why do you think?’ she answered back, a smirk on her lips as she looked at the glasses.

Ben’s mouth quirked in mild annoyance at her avoidance of his question and he poured. ‘You revel in being a mystery?’ He put the bottle down again, removed his gloves and took one of the glasses from her fingers. ‘Or you are enraptured by my singing voice and you intend on abducting me?’

She grinned at that, taking up the salt and sprinkling some on the back of their hands. ‘How about we do a question and answer for every shot?’ she suggested.

He nodded in agreement and took up a lime for her and himself.

‘No, I do not intend on abducting you and though being a mystery is very alluring at times, I’m not doing it to be a tease, I’m teaching myself lately not to trust too quickly.’

Rey licked the salt on her hand, knocked back the drink and bit the lime into her mouth, leaving Ben having to hurriedly catch up with her.

After the burn had worn off, Ben looked at her carefully, considering her answer. ‘What’s wrong with—’

‘It’s my turn to ask now,’ she interrupted, crunching a handful of Doritos into her mouth. ‘Would I really be enraptured by your singing voice if i heard it?’

Ben found himself laughing, and he only laughed harder when he saw the serious crease in Rey’s brows.

‘This is of paramount importance, Benjamin,’ she continued.

He took up the bottle again and poured them more shots. His eyes met hers again and it was like a light-bulb went off in his head. ‘Les Mis or Phantom of the Opera?’

‘Les Mis,’ she answered almost automatically and then scowled at him. ‘It’s my turn and you haven’t answered.’

‘I’m answering,’ he responded, unable to wipe the grin from his face. ‘Why? The Phantom is far more complex than any character in Les Mis and considering the story revolves around a Rebellion, where is all the action?’

Rey huffed. ‘Of course, the classic response of the violence-obsessed. You’d rather see a masked man hanging, killing and kidnapping people, right? The Phantom too often becomes a lauded figure and the depth of his role is so often forgotten, to the point that I can’t enjoy it. While I appreciate the quality of the musical as a whole, his character does not light a candle to Valjean, Eponine nor Fantine, and it lacks the moral punchiness that Les Mis has. Les Mis is able to breach fantasy and be ultimately relatable.’ She took a big gulp of air once she finished and took the shot of tequila being held out to her by Ben, without salt nor lime.

‘If i wanted a moral drama, I’d watch Shakespeare.’

She watched him then and caught the glint in his eye and she shook her head, her eyes widening. ‘You tricked me,’ she said, unable to stop herself from laughing.

‘You love the theatre, then,’ he said, raising his glass and knocking back the drink.

‘And you still haven’t answered the question. You should sing as a penalty.’

Ben scratched his chin for a moment and shook his head. ‘I’m not nearly drunk enough to do that. I will say that I’m an above average singer.’

Rey pouted and Ben smiled, finding the expression confoundingly cute. ‘Why do you keep your hair so long?’ she asked.

He snorted and reached into the bag between her legs, taking a Dorito. ‘You ask truly hard-hitting questions, Rey.’

‘They are the ones I’m most interested in knowing the answers to.’

‘Because you know everything else about me?’ It was a joke and he said it as much, but Rey didn’t respond, she only picked up the bottle of tequila and poured them more drinks. Ben wasn’t an idiot, he understood what the silence inferred. ‘I think it looks better this way,’ he paused and waited for her to meet his eye, ‘and it hides my ears.’

Rey took up the salt again, seemingly trying to work him out with a narrowed look. Rather than saying what she thought, she reached forward and pushed his hair behind one ear and she smiled as she looked at the appendage with great interest. He wore a silver hoop through his left ear, and her finger glanced over the conch piercing before her hand dropped back into her lap.

‘Your ears are cute,’ she said simply and held out the salt for him to take.

Ben held his hand out to her, trying to simper down the warmth glowing in his chest from the compliment, which was peeking into the smile across his face.

They took another shot.  

‘What’s your real name?’ Ben asked, looking at her carefully.

Rey smiled and put another Dorito in her mouth, licking the dust from her fingers. ‘Is that information really that valuable?’ she questioned.

He nodded and went into his inner jeans jacket pocket and took out his phone. The phone woke up, bathing Ben in a pale blue light and after a few taps, he looked back at her, waiting to hear her name.

She leaned over, looking at the screen and saw the university portal loaded up, the keyboard open on the search bar. A laugh bubbled from her throat and she looked back up at Ben, finding him looking at her intently, their faces mere centimetres apart. Rey moved back into her position then and wiping her hands down on her skirt, held a hand out for Ben to take.

‘Aurelia Niemand. Rey, really, just call me Rey,’ she added, her brows meeting in a soft frown.

Ben took her hand with a smile, shaking it lightly and his fingers lingering on the back of her hand for longer than necessary. He could at least blame the delay on the alcohol beginning to impair his senses.

‘Nice to meet you.’

His eyes then dropped back down to his phone and he hurriedly typed, glancing back up at Rey only when she began to laugh, deciding that the distraction was worth witnessing.

‘Find anything interesting?’ She peered over again, seeing her student ID photograph and ‘School of Engineering’ in red beneath it.

‘Your birthday is next week,’ Ben murmured.

Rey stretched out her legs and arms in front of her, looking up at the back of the house and smirking when she heard a bout of laughter. ‘Yep,’ she popped the last syllable and looked over at Ben who continued to scan her profile. A smile broke across his face then.

‘Good Food Society president?’ he queried.

‘The one and only.’ Ben tapped away again and Rey’s eyes narrowed at him. ‘Shouldn’t we move on now?’

He shook his head and flicked through. ‘I’m using this moment to cut down my questions,’ he answered.

‘What are you looking at?’

‘Your Instagram.’

Rey reached out for the phone then, almost ready to push Ben straight into the fountain, though he easily held it out of her reach and laughed as he glided through her photos.

‘How did you even find me?’ she questioned, surprise and embarrassment colouring her words as she gave up fighting Ben for the phone.

‘Do you want that to be your question?’ he asked, his eyes not breaking away from the screen.

Rey glowered, her teeth biting lines into her bottom lip as she watched him. She moved the empty glasses to the other side of her, along with the bag of Doritos and bottle of tequila and she sidled in closer to him, peering at the phone that looked minuscule in his large hands.

She could hear the deep rumble of his chuckles as he looked through her pictures, liking every single one as he passed. Rey couldn’t help smiling, half in reminiscence and half in satisfaction that Ben liked her photos. His finger hesitated over a photo of her and Finn, before it continued again and he smiled at a photo of Rey and her tabby cat.

‘What’s his name?’ he queried.

‘Bebe. I found him outside my apartment back when I lived in Arizona.’ She supplied, almost automatically, and then bit down on her lip again, wondering why she had been so forthcoming.

His head turned, and their eyes drew together. ‘Do I have to take a shot for that?’

She shook her head. ‘You can have that one for free.’

Ben glanced back at the phone, seeing Finn again and he stopped on the photo and lowered the phone down to his knee. Rey looked at the screen and then back at Ben who looked like he was swirling something around in his mind.

‘It’s my turn,’ Rey perked up.

‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ Ben quickly slipped into the brief silence whilst Rey deliberated over a question to ask.

Her voice caught in her throat and she tilted her head, a smile wide on her lips. ‘It’s absolutely my question, Ben.’

Ben bit the inside of his cheek and didn’t say any more. Rey brought back the bag of Doritos to her lap, smirking as she messily bit into a handful. The scowling man beside her followed suit and dipped his hand into the bag. Rey thought it was quite humorous as the expression made him look ten years younger.

‘What’s your favourite colour?’

He tucked his phone back into his pocket and twisted in position, facing Rey. ‘Burnt orange. Like autumn leaves, honey or pumpkin pie.’

‘You like pumpkin pie?’

Ben waggled his finger, smiling briefly. ‘Now it’s my turn.’

Rey pouted briefly before taking the glasses from beside her with one hand and then picking up the tequila. Ben took the glasses from her as she poured and set the bottle aside again. She shared out the salt and limes and readied the glass in her fingers.

‘What made you love the theatre?’

The smile was automatic and Rey licked the salt and took the shot, holding the lime precariously in between finger and thumb. Ben followed suit and she watched him as his tongue peeked out against his skin and then the glug of his adam’s apple as he drank back the sharp liquid.

‘There was a charity...when I was younger...when I was still in social care,’ she began, looking away from Ben and pulling the chips into her lap, straightening the packet out. Though she smiled, Ben felt a nervous energy emanating around her. ‘They came once a month to take us to a show and it was the one thing that kept me sane. I always had that to look forward to and I suppose it’s stuck with me, like a dependable friend.’

Ben leaned into her, his hand reaching out to glance against the fingers of her left hand and she looked up at him. ‘I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable,’ he murmured.

Rey shook her head and smiled. ‘No, that’s not it...you’re just very easy to talk to.’

‘Why are you teaching yourself not to be trusting?’ He asked, ignoring the rules of the game yet again.

She sighed and leaned back, Ben’s hand moving back into his own lap. ‘So we’re back full circle then,’ she began wryly. Rey met his eyes and deliberated for a moment before she gave Ben a curt nod. ‘I thought it might be an idea to try and keep people at a distance for a while. Continued bouts of disappointment tend to grate on the mind and I’m tired of being hurt. That’s really the root of it, I think.’

‘Yet you trust me with this information?’ Ben asked.

‘You have made me fall into old ways, I suppose,’ she answered airily.

Ben bumped her shoulder and Rey’s mouth quirked into a quick smile. ‘You know most people think that it’s a good quality to have.’

She held his gaze carefully. ‘I think we should drink more.’

He paused, trying to read her before he smiled. ‘Today I’ll do as you wish, tomorrow I can’t be so sure.’

‘There’s going to be a tomorrow?’

‘If you have no objections.’

Rey smiled, reaching into the bag of Doritos again. ‘Will my boyfriend be invited?’

‘Uh.’ Ben seemed to freeze and Rey let a silence descend between them before she started laughing, knocking the chips to the ground as she watched his expression. ‘You scared me,’ he finally said, running a hand through his hair.

She poured out glasses again and knocked back the shot of tequila, blinking rapidly.

‘Do you live with your parents?’

Ben grinned. ‘So now you’ve chosen to be intrusive?’ He questioned, peeling the glass from her fingers and filling the two of them again.

‘An eye for an eye?’

He shook his head and handed her the glass. Rey’s fingers fumbled beside her for the salt as she waited for Ben’s answer.

‘I moved out when I turned 18. If I hadn’t, I might not ever had.’

‘The temptation of not having to pay rent?’

Ben nodded. ‘And my parents were infuriating. If they weren’t shouting at each other, they were shouting at me. Though living with Poe isn’t really any better.’

Rey’s smile was wide then. ‘You live with Poe Dameron?’

He groaned, his eyes rolling as he looked to the moon. ‘You’re not a fangirl, are you?’

‘I saw his face in the prospectus when I was doing my college applications,’ she sighed dreamily and then was thrown into a bout of laughter at the expression on Ben’s face. ‘I just appreciate his work, both academic and otherwise.’

Ben looked at her shrewdly, but said nothing as Rey continued to giggle, her small fingers taking up his hand despite still holding onto the full tequila glass, and she held him steady as she tapped the salt shaker against the flesh between his index finger and thumb, spilling several drops of liquor on his jeans.

‘I’m really glad you asked to drink tequila with me,’ she murmured, pouring salt on her own hand.

He smiled and licked the salt and tossed back the tequila, stretching around Rey and grabbing for a slice of lime which he bit in to. Rey felt her skin heat up at the proximity, though blamed it on the alcohol as she drank again, garnishing it with a squeeze of lime.

‘What number are we on?’ Rey asked, beginning to stumble over her words. She shook her head, deciding on the answer herself. ‘Ask me something else.’

Ben chuckled and he took both of their shot glasses and put them behind him on the edge of the fountain. He watched Rey carefully, and she seemed to squirm under his gaze and he felt himself grow loopy as he watched her, his smile stretching across his face.

‘The tattoo, tell me about the tattoo.’

Rey smiled, an index finger glancing against the coloured skin of her neck. ‘It reminds me that every live current needs to be grounded.’

‘What, because you could forget and electrocute yourself?’

She narrowed her eyes at him, amused and knowing that he was being ridiculous. ‘It’s a metaphor, Benjamin.’

‘I like how you say my name.’

‘Benjamin,’ Rey repeated, lengthening the syllables as far as they could stretch.

‘Your eyes are like maple leaves,’ he murmured, his words slurring slightly, but as clear as day.

Rey giggled again. ‘I think you’ve had too much tequila.’

‘You’re beautiful.’ He stated simply.

She watched his eyes skid across her face and he seemed to hold a breath as he watched her. Rey could feel her heart thundering in her chest and she felt lightheaded. ‘You’re staring into my soul, Ben,’ she said, another laugh bubbling from her mouth, but her eyes holding his gaze.

‘Should I not?’

Rey shook her head and she leaned forward then, Ben holding his breath as she did. Her fingers moved to his temples and she pushed his dark hair behind both ears, and smiled at her work.

‘Your ears are really cute.’

‘You said that already.’

‘I meant it.’

Ben was ready to complain, but was driven to silence when she leaned into him, her warm breath against his neck and then his ear as she pressed her lips against its shell. His hand tightened in his lap and Ben was embarrassed at the speed in which the blood rushed away from his head and right into his crotch.

Rey leaned further into him, her hand balancing against his thigh as her lips traced his ear and dropped down to the soft spot of flesh behind it.

‘You can touch me,’ she whispered against his ear, the vibration of her voice like fingers stroking shakily up his spine.

He closed his eyes, swallowing and when he opened them again, Rey had pulled back, looking at him directly, their noses only an inch apart as both of her hands rested on either side of his neck, her fingers curled in his hair.

She was ready to close the distance, but was beaten to the punch when Ben easily pulled her into his lap, letting her awkwardly straddle his legs, her knees folded on either side of his thighs, pressed directly over him.

Ben breathed heavily, their eyes meeting as his hands slipped to her thighs, glancing over the skin there that had so enraptured him earlier in the evening.

They watched each other, both breathing heavily and eyes wild with alcohol and arousal.

Rey reached for the hand against her thigh and pulled it further up, beneath her skirt until his fingers were glancing the edge of her underwear. ‘It’s okay,’ she murmured as his hand slipped around to grip her ass, fingers sliding beneath the material. He closed his eyes, knowing his erection was clearly evident to Rey as she pressed further into him, her cheeks glowing in the dark as she did.

‘You don’t have any more questions?’ Rey asked, her hands slipping beneath his jeans jacket and against the hard muscles of his chest, waist and back.

Ben laughed, it was low and throaty and brought a peel of laughter out of Rey. ‘I don’t want to ruin this.’

She shook her head, ‘you couldn’t.’ She leaned further into him, a hand climbing to his ear again. Rey smiled when her fingers caught on the silver hoop and she leaned forward, licking at the metal and Ben groaned, feeling her press far more thoroughly onto his erection.

Her lips grazed his jaw and cheek before she stopped just before his mouth and pulled back briefly, their eyes meeting again before Rey leaned further in, her lips grazing Ben’s, as if hesitant to give too much. She felt his breath against her lips, poised open half in exhalation, half in anticipation.

Their eyes met, daring the other to close theirs first, to relent first. Neither moved and Ben’s thoughts flitted to the feeling of his cock being separated from Rey’s centre by a pair of jeans and two thin slices of cotton. There was another heavy breath, Rey’s, as she seemed to dare Ben to move first, her lips even tilting into a small smile, Ben feeling the movement against his own. The hand that wasn’t holding tightly onto Rey’s ass gripped her waist and their lips met more steadily, Rey sighing as Ben deepened their kiss, his tongue meeting hers—tasting like salt and lime.

Rey ground down over Ben, revelling in the groan that stumbled from his throat and how his grip on her ass tightened, his tongue stuttering in her mouth. Rey was thrown by the goose-flesh that scattered across her clothed arms and the thighs that straddled Ben, despite her body feeling searingly hot.

They pulled apart, Rey’s forehead against his as they breathed in sync and in silence.

‘Can we get out of here? Can I take you out for breakfast?’ His words came lowly and quickly, his amber eyes staring into Rey’s.

She sat back, a smile against her lips. ‘I would really like that.’