Ben was a restless sleeper. Or maybe she was. She’d slept in a bed before, of course, but it was hardly the usual place of rest for her across the average of her life. Couches and futons and makeshift pallets on the floor were much more her thing.
Anyway, she awoke fleetingly throughout the night to find herself arranged against Ben in different configurations: sprawled across his chest, pinned beneath his heavy leg, even clinging to his broad back like a tiny, sweaty spider-monkey. Always in contact with him, even if it was just his toes tucked up against the back of her ankle. And Rey would stir only long enough to register and catalog the contact before sinking into sleep again.
The last time that she awoke, she found herself facing him and lying across most of the pillows. His head was below hers, and his black curls were tickling her nose. One of his hands was splayed over her knee. There was light filtering in around the edges of the plantation shutters over his bedroom window; it had to be at least eight o’clock.
Ben was still soundly asleep though, his breath coming slow and deep. Rey savored the opportunity to stare at him unobserved. His features were soft and slack, his lower lip slightly ajar. Moving very gently, Rey eased the duvet back down the bed, exposing their bodies to the light.
Ben wore only a pair of cut-off sweatpants, and Rey only an oversized, worn t-shirt depicting the Torchwood Institute logo. She had tentatively decided that she was keeping it, subject only to any difficulties that might arise in smuggling it out of Ben’s apartment.
Rey tentatively rubbed her thighs together, imagining that she could push Ben onto his back and straddle him before he woke up. But the answering twinge between her legs told her that was a losing proposition. She needed to develop….callouses, or something. Whatever people got so that they didn’t have to say ‘it’s been a while’ before they had sex. She wasn’t certain exactly what bodily adaptations she could expect, but she welcomed them.
In their absence, however, she shimmied down the bed, unveiling Ben’s soft, warm underbelly as she went. The scent of his skin in the morning light was delicious, and she chased it down his stomach, pressing butterfly-light kisses along his center. She rubbed her cheek against the downy line of black fur that descended to his waistband.
His eyes were still closed when she peeked up at him, but she thought she saw the hint of a smile on his face when she nibbled at the little indentation between the rise of his stomach and his hip. So she grasped the waistband of his shorts and tugged them down to his knees.
She had never really seen him naked when he wasn’t fully erect before, and she enjoyed the opportunity to explore his colors and textures at her leisure. He was was still thick and heavy, yet somehow tender when she brushed him with her cheek.
Ben made a sleepy murmur of satisfaction when she began to run kisses around the curve of his hip, through his soft patch of black curls, and down the lengthening expanse of his cock.
“This is a good dream,” he murmured when she laid an open-mouthed kiss on his tip.
The experience felt softer like this: on their sides, the light morning-white, Ben’s breaths of satisfaction the only noise in the room. Rey relaxed her lips and throat and experimentally slid further. She couldn’t slide all the way down, not hardly, but Ben’s hands fisted on empty air, and then slid into her loose and messy hair. His hands did not push or pull, but instead stroked through her hair at the rhythm he wanted.
It was slower than before, but she knew how deeply he was affected by the way he throbbed between her lips. They met halfway between the movements of her head and the tilt of his hips.
She lifted her hands between them, using one to bridge the gap between her lips and Ben’s base and the other to cradle his balls.
“Further back,” Ben told her.
“Hmmm?” she hummed around his cock.
“Reach further back behind…that’s my taint,” Ben said, shifting his top leg back to allow her access. “I think, anyway.”
Rey slid her hand back, pressing her hand up against his body. It didn’t feel like anything special, but Ben coughed and bit down on a couple of knuckles when she slid two fingers against him.
“Will you swallow this time?” were the next words he said to her, his voice still thick from sleep. She sucked a little harder as she nodded, and his breaths stuttered. “Good, I’m close,” he said.
Rey tightened her lips around his cock, humming her approval at the minute thrusts of his hips.
“Rey,” he sighed when he came, her name like a prayer. And this act felt somehow more intimate than the sex they’d had the night before. It made her close her eyes and hide her face against his stomach after she drank him down, even though he was pulling up at her shoulders.
“Come up here, I wanna kiss you,” he mumbled. Rey laughed into his bellybutton, tickling it with her nose.
“No, no, I’ve now got the worst case of morning breath you could imagine,” she giggled.
“It’ll be more like morning wood breath, and I don’t care,” Ben grumbled, finally pushing off the headboard to scoot down to her level.
He grabbed her face with both hands, and was close to kissing her over her growing shrieks of protest when they heard the shrill electronic buzz of his doorbell. They froze.
“Ignore it, just the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Ben said.
A second later, the doorbell buzzed again.
“They must really know your soul needs extra saving this weekend,” Rey suggested.
Ben didn’t respond as he listened to the knocking, face intent.
After a moment, Rey heard the faint noise of the front door scraping open.
“Benjamin Amidala Organa Solo!” a woman’s voice rang out, only slightly muffled by Ben’s bedroom door.
“Oh, fuck goats,” Ben swore viciously, his entire body freezing taut. “That’s my mom.”
* * *
Rey was stuck like a rat in a trap after Ben wordlessly slipped through his bedroom door and shut it behind him. She couldn’t even go to the bathroom, because she didn’t know if the other door was open to the living room, and making eye contact with Ben’s mother while closing his bathroom door was the stuff of nightmares.
So Rey was left behind in the bedroom, listening to bits and phrases of Ben arguing with his mother in increasingly loud voices.
Loud angry voices were Rey’s kryptonite. There weren’t enough baked goods in the world for her to smooth over the things they were saying to each other.
“…and so this is, what, a box you need to check to ensure you retain the moral high ground?” Ben yelled.
“…like you weren’t throwing down the gauntlet, that I should hear from Amilyn how well you’re doing instead of…” his mother yelled right back at him.
“…could have just made something up, you’re good at that…”
Eventually, Rey couldn’t stand it any longer. She rummaged through Ben’s drawers in a panic until she found a pair of drawstring exercise pants that would hold up around her waist if knotted tightly enough. She stole a sweatshirt next, glad that it was loose enough to conceal her bra-less state. Athletic socks. She’d have to find her own boots; she cringed when she recalled that they were puddled in Ben’s living room alongside her dress and, oh god, her underwear, Ben’s mom might see her dirty underwear right on the floor.
When the voices outside the room reached a crescendo, Rey swiftly opened the door and walked out as though she knew what she was doing.
Ben’s mother was smaller than Rey might have expected, but flawlessly dressed from her steel-grey chignon to a stylish felt kimono jacket to her pleated silk trousers.
Rey lunged for her boots as Ben’s mother studied her.
“Ben, you didn’t tell me your girlfriend was here,” she said to him in a sharp tone of voice.
Ben was in the kitchen, unpacking a large, brown paper sack of food. Bagels and tubs of cream cheese and a waxed paper package of some kind of smoked fish. He didn’t turn around at his mother’s latest rebuke.
“Oh!” said Rey, who was trying to knock her wadded clothes out of sight under the coffee table. “It’s okay. I’m not his girlfriend. Just a friend.”
Rey made the kind of apologetic grimace-smile she reserved for school administrators and the dental hygienists. She wobbled as she tried to stuff a leg clad in oversized men’s clothing into her brown leather boots. Had to sit down on the couch.
Ben’s mother took the opportunity to stick out a hand.
“Leia,” she said, eyebrow quirked in challenge. Leia was beautiful: Rey could see where Ben got his strong but clear-cut features.
Rey briefly touched Leia’s hand, repeating her name.
Then Rey jerked her hand back when she remembered that the last thing those hands had touched was this woman’s son’s genitals.
“Are you Rey?” Leia asked, still as calm and collected as a frozen pond.
“Yep! That’s me,” Rey said, making that rictus-smile again before the intrusive, horrifying thought that she might have Ben’s sperm still stuck between her teeth had her snapping her jaw closed.
“Well, I hope you are staying for breakfast,” Leia said, shifting to glare at her son’s back. Ben stiffened but did not turn around.
“Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly intrude,” Rey whimpered, searching the room for her purse. She found it behind the couch and lunged for the door. “I was just stopping by,” she lied weakly.
Ben finally turned and stared at her, his face blank.
This had to be even worse for him, Rey thought. His mother catching him with some random girl. If she were a stronger person, she could have hid in his closet or something until Leia left. If she’d dealt with the naked roommate situation on her own, she wouldn’t even have had to impose on him. But she was weak, and now she had to flee before Leia could begin the interrogation she clearly wished to lay on them both.
Rey bleated something along the lines of ‘nice to meet you,’ before hurling herself out Ben’s front door. She made it all the way into the parking lot before she recalled that she didn’t have her bike. And it was starting to snow.
* * *
After two cold, uncomfortable miles wearing bits and pieces of Ben’s clothing, Rey finally limped home. She would have summoned a cab or something, but her phone was a useless dead brick. Rey couldn’t put her finger on exactly which of her life choices had led her to this moment when she summited the three flights of stairs to her apartment, but the three faces that greeted her when she opened her own front door were clearly of one opinion: Rey had fucked up.
All three of them were arrayed on Rey’s futon. Their posture was identical: crossed arms. Finn looked furious. Poe looked reproachful. Rose…looked mildly guilty.
“Where have you been, young lady?” Finn growled at her.
Rey stared at them. She’d already fled one tense situation that morning. She had no food to distract them. She possessed a very limited toolkit to deal with emotionally charged interactions, and she’d already exhausted it.
So she cried.
Instantly, she was surrounded by the press of three concerned bodies, who wanted to pat her head and back, check her for injuries, and question her as to her whereabouts and apparent distress.
“I tried to come home yesterday!” she sobbed through the maze of remonstrations and reassurances, all of which were occurring at least partially in languages she didn’t speak. “But you were d-d-doing it on my futon!” She thought it was very important not to let their own responsibility for this situation be lost.
“I’m sorry!” Rose gasped. “We did text you. But the light was perfect and we didn’t think you’d be back-“ Rose started.
“Rose didn’t think you’d be back, because she was the only one who knew you were off screwing Ben Solo-” Finn broke in.
“And I didn’t have a clue what that meant but I was still very worried!” Poe finished.
Rey sorted through those statements as they were flung at her and grabbed one strand at random.
“What do you mean the light? You were filming yourselves in here??”
Instantly, there was more distance around her as the three of her friends found urgent household tasks to complete.
“Well, you know…” Finn said weakly. “Rose is making kind of a movie. It’s really good. Not that kind of movie! It has a plot.”
Apparently bad choices had abounded this weekend.
“If you’re having real sex in the movie I’m pretty sure it’s a porn,” Rey told him.
Finn shook his head at her. “No, no, she’s editing out a lot of the…stuff. Including our faces.” He led her to her futon and pressed her to sit on it.
“What kind of movie edits out the actor’s faces?” she questioned him.
“Oh, it’s about werewolves!” Rose called from the kitchen, where she was putting a kettle on.
Rey decided to pursue the question no further, even when Poe began to argue that he’d really rather be a jaguar-shifter with the air of a man who has made his position known before.
“Anyway, I’m sorry you had to see that, Peanut,” Finn said. “And we’ll work out some kind of sock-on-the-doorknob signal in the future. But really, we need to talk about you. Ben? Really?”
Rey snuffled and wiped her nose on the sleeve of Ben’s sweatshirt. “What’s wrong with Ben?” she said.
“Other than the guy looks like a grown-up Wednesday Addams who juices? Maybe because he’s an asshole? And his friends are all assholes? Peanut, you can do so much better.”
Rey shook her head, tears still stuffing up her nasal passages. “He’s not an asshole. What did he ever do to you?”
Finn pouted at her. “Remember that time that Hux accused me of cheating off his test just because I got the same score as him? Or when Phasma shocked me in the optical engineering lab with an incomplete circuit and told the whole class I peed myself? I remember, because those things happened this month!”
Rey sniffed back her tears. “That’s not him. You can’t put those things on him.”
Rose came into the living room to press a mug of chamomile tea into Rey’s hands, and Rey smiled at her gratefully. “And besides, I gave him a squeezer in Hux’ Jacuzzi. We can call it revenge on your behalf,” Rey explained.
Finn covered his face with his hands. “I don’t wanna know what you get up to with him! I don’t like it.”
Poe dropped down next to Finn on the futon. “Your little girl’s growing up, dad,” he said, putting an arm around Finn’s shoulders. “Was bound to happen some day.”
Finn groaned, and Poe squeezed his shoulders and kissed his forehead.
“It looks like you two have some talking to do. Rose and I will get out of your hair,” Poe said lightly.
Rose gave Rey a tight hug before they left. “If he makes you happy, that’s the only thing that matters,” she whispered. “My sister isn’t exactly thrilled that I’m dating two guys who were in a relationship together, but she’s happy for me. Finn’s gonna feel the same way.”
Once Poe and Rose were gone, Rey let the entire story dribble out to Finn. Her friendship with Ben. The program. His mother. (She went lightly over the details of the program inputs and outputs).
Finn was a little wide-eyed when it was over, but he ultimately promised that he would support her choices to the best of his ability.
“Which means telling you to take a shower now, Peanut, because you smell like a teenage boy,” he concluded. Rey nodded and hid her face in his neck because she was afraid she was going to start crying again.
Sunday was typically her day for homework, so she spent the day catching up on the week ahead. And a little stress-baking. And keeping an eye on the users list in her Discord server, which remained distressingly greyed out. It wasn’t like she was expecting to hear from Ben. They usually didn’t see each other on Sundays. And he was probably super-busy dealing with…family stuff. Which Rey couldn’t possibly understand.
But her heart leapt into her throat in the early evening when she heard a brief knock on the door.
Finn rushed to be the one to get it, no doubt hoping to display male dominance in some subtle way, but Ben barely looked at him once the door was open. He looked only at Rey.
She couldn’t explain why she’d put Ben’s sweatshirt back on after she showered and changed. It did smell strongly of teenage boy body spray.
Ben didn’t make a move to come in.
“I just wanted to make sure you got home safely,” he said, voice flat and restrained. “I tried to call a few times, but your phone was off.”
“Oh,” said Rey. “It still isn’t charged. I’m sorry, I forgot.”
Ben nodded, face closed off. He took a minute step backwards as though he planned to leave, just like that.
“Um,” said Rey, voice squeaking as she pushed it past her tight throat. “Have you had dinner yet? I was just going to eat leftovers for dinner, but they’re pretty good. And then there’s, um. Lots of dessert.”
Ben’s jaw was still tight, but he lifted his eyebrows a bit at that.
“I made rice krispie treats,” Rey stammered on. “Also brownies. With nuts, if that’s a dealbreaker. And there’s also some Oreo balls?”
“That’s a lot,” Ben observed, his face softening further.
“Yeah, I, uh,” Rey said. “Baked my feelings? If that’s a thing.”
Ben nodded, swerving past Finn to enter the apartment.
Rey patted the futon next to her. “Finn says they had towels down,” she reassured Ben as he took a seat next to her, his broad frame seeming to make the room feel about two sizes too small.
“Over-sharing, Peanut,” Finn muttered.
Ben turned to look at Finn, and something wordless passed between the two men. Finn threw his hands up.
“I’ll be in my room,” he muttered, leaving them alone.
Ben’s weight on the futon caused it to dip in his direction. He looked around him, and Rey mentally cringed, seeing the small, shabby space through his eyes.
“Where is your room?” he asked, looking at Finn’s door.
“Oh,” Rey said. “It’s a one-bedroom. This is my futon.”
Ben didn’t say anything, but there was a little wrinkle between his eyebrows.
“I don’t want to take out loans just to have a bigger place,” Rey said.
Ben nodded, still not saying anything.
Rey cleared her throat.
“Did…was it okay? With your mom?” she asked, because she couldn’t really pretend that this morning hadn’t happened.
Ben combed his hair with his fingers.
“As well as it ever does,” he muttered. “But she’s going to drop off my Lord Ren costume this week. Or her secretary will, probably.”
Rey felt something unclench in her at the underlying acknowledgement that he was still planning on going with her to the con the next weekend.
Ben cleared his throat. “And we’re both invited for dinner. In two weeks. You don’t have to come if you don't want to.”
“I-“ Rey stuttered, confused. What possible part of her performance that morning led Leia to want to see her again?
“Do you want me to come?” she asked.
Ben looked away. “I haven’t been home in six years. It might-- it might help.”
Rey reached out and wrapped a hand around Ben’s bicep. He reflexively tightened it, then consciously relaxed.
“Okay,” Rey agreed. Ben sighed and then toppled slowly until his head was in her lap. His curls spilled out over her thighs. He looked up at the ceiling.
Rey brushed his hair back from his face, feeling confused and tender and sad for him at once.
“They sent me away,” he said, throat bobbing. “To my uncle’s boarding school. And I said I’d never come back if they did. I got kicked out, and I didn’t go home.”
It sounded like chapter titles picked at random from a book she’d never read.
“It’s okay,” Rey repeated, because that was a thing people said, even when it wasn’t.
Finn’s door swung open.
“Figure you two deserve the run of the apartment for a bit,” he said gruffly. “I’m going to get dinner on campus then study a bit. Won’t be back before midnight.”
Rey’s heart squeezed at how he was trying. She nodded at him, and he left her alone with Ben.
“Did you finish all your homework?” she asked him. “Do you want to watch something?”
Ben’s look was still faraway and blank, so Rey seized the initiative and set up her laptop on the makeshift coffee table constructed of a sheet of plywood and Finn’s old textbooks.
“You ever see The Vision of Escaflowne?” she asked Ben, who shook his head. “It’s one of my favorites. The dubbing was horrible, though, so we’ll just watch it with subtitles.”
“Of course,” he said.
Rey pushed Ben away long enough to go to the kitchen and pile the biggest plate she had with her baked goods. She arranged them next to her laptop, feeling like a poor host.
“You’ve got to pay attention to the first episode, because it sets the stage for the whole series,” she instructed him. He nodded wordlessly.
He put his head back in her lap.
After the first episode, Rey got up and turned out the light.
After the second episode, she rearranged herself and Ben on the futon so that he lay behind her. It was a tight fit, but they were neither in danger of rolling off. He rested his chin on top of her head and tossed an arm around the dip of her waist.
After the third episode, she got up and changed into pajamas.
By the fifth episode, Ben was asleep. She turned down the sound, just reading the subtitles.
When she woke up, the tenth episode was playing, and Finn’s Dragon Ball Z fleece covered her and Ben both.
When she woke up again, it was morning, and Ben was already gone.