Actions

Work Header

Gorgeous

Chapter Text

 

You're so gorgeous, I can't say anything to your face

'Cause look at your face

And I'm so furious, at you for making me feel this way

 


 

 

“Oh, and Solo and his division will be joining us, too.”

Poe announces it off-handedly, like it’s no big deal, making Rey very nearly choke on her chai latte. Which is why she almost asks him to repeat himself. Excuse me. It sounded like you said that the Software Engineering team would be coming to the winter retreat? Phasma and Hux and Bazine and Roman and the rest of that whole incredibly unpleasant gang, too? And Ben Solo, to boot? Can you confirm it? Can you confirm that this disaster of cataclysmic proportions will in fact be happening? But there is no need to ask anything, because everyone around the table is already groaning with varying degrees of discontent, which means that Rey definitely heard it correctly the first time.

“Oh, man.” Next to her, Finn looks a lot like he’s about to throw his ‘English is important but engineering is importanter’ mug across the room. “Just… why?”  

Poe spreads his arms. “Unclear. Orders from corporate. Team building and group development and stuff like that, I’m guessing. You know, synergy.”

“But we’re different teams.” Rose is scowling harder than Rey has ever seen her.

“Yeah. Well, we collaborate all the time.”

“But we suck at collaborating with them. Because they suck.”

“Right.” Poe scratches the back of his head. “I suspect that might have something to do with the company sending us on vacation with them for five days. The goal is that moving forward we can develop a positive working relationship.” Poe seems to think about it for a second, and then winces uncomfortably. ”Okay, civil. A civil working relationship.”

“God. What if they want to… to hang out with us?”

Poe sighs. “I could point out that that’s the whole point of the retreat, but the truth is, I doubt they will. And the cabin is supposed to be huge, more like a hotel—they will probably just mind their own business. And we’ll mind ours. Easy peasy.”

Jess slams her laptop shut a touch too forcefully. “What if we get snowed in with them?”

“That seems unlikely.”

“Oh—what if they go all Shining on us?” Kaydel sounds legitimately worried. “I can totally picture Phasma running after me with an axe. Ben Solo, too. And even—”

“They won’t.”

“But what if I end up in the hot tub with Bazine, and she pees in it out of spite, and—”

“Okay, that’s it.” Poe turns off the projector and disconnects his iPad, clearly doing his best to look stern. “We will go to the retreat, we will spend a week breaching the divide that exists between the Software and Hardware engineering teams—or, more realistically, we will ignore each other and avoid physical accidents, keeping in mind that any altercation would mean instant termination for yours truly.” He points at himself with his thumb. ”We’re gonna ski a bit, and sit in front of the fireplace with some expensive booze, and then we’re gonna come back home and forget it ever happened. Solo’s team will do the same, and we’ll all live happily ever after. End of the meeting. Everyone, get back to work.” He claps his hands. “Chop-chop.”

It’s to Poe’s credit, how impervious he is to the dirty looks he is subjected to as people file out of the room, dragging their feet and muttering things like evil corporate overlords and easy for him to say, everyone knows that he’s fucking Hux and I'm gonna team build their asses. Rey lingers on her chair, chewing on her bottom lip and trying to adjust her mental image of what was supposed to be a very pleasant, relaxing vacation on the company dime. It’ll be fine. Certainly. Probably. Maybe. It’ll be—

“Rey?” She almost startles at finding Poe standing next to her chair. “You doing okay?”

“Of course. I’m great.” Rey pastes a huge grin on her face, grabs her laptop and springs to her feet. “Everything’s just peachy.”

 

 

Everything’s shit. Everything’s the worst. And nothing, absolutely nothing is peachy.

The problem, of course, is that Ben Solo is vile. And that he hates her.

Every member of the team he leads is, quite frankly, horrible. Hux’s perennially disgusted expression, like someone just farted in his personal space; Phasma and her daily, passive-aggressive 'per my last email’; Bazine, who was totally the one who tattled to corporate that Rey and Finn were stealing snacks from the break room and bringing them home; not to mentions all those other bro-y guys who always wear cargo shorts, and call Rey ‘dude’, and look like they’re straight out of an Ivy League lacrosse team. The entire division is a nightmare—but Ben Solo.

Ben Solo of the huge biceps and the aggravated expressions. Ben Solo, who goes through PAs at the same speed Rey goes through skittles, who rolls his eyes during marketing presentations, who never bothers to say hi on the elevator.

Ben Solo, who clearly doesn’t like Rey. And Rey knows, because he said as much. She overheard him ask Poe to take her off the Starkiller project only a few months ago. “Someone else would be better suited,” he’d said, his tone crisp and cutting. “Not sure who, since Rey’s my best engineer,” Poe’d answered with a shrug. Ben’s jaw had stiffened. “Then you should hire better engineers,” he’d replied before stalking out of Poe’s office so quickly that Rey’d had to duck behind the water dispenser.  

And that is without accounting for the things he’s said to her face. He’s called her work ’lacking’ and ‘slow’ and ‘uninspired’—before asking her to re-do it, sometimes two or three times and to impossible standards. He is the reason why Rey started wearing her hair in the most boring of ponytails—because he told Bazine, with Rey standing right in front of them, that he thought that three buns were sure to be a sign of a borderline-pathological level of attention seeking. He has, on multiple occasions, forgotten her name and addressed her as ‘hey, you.’

Which is why, when she is shivering from the cold at six-thirty AM in the poorly lit company parking lot and Poe asks her, “Is it okay for you to drive to the lodge with Ben?” Rey decides that she must have pissed off a god or two. Maybe Poseidon, because she really does take needlessly long showers, or Demeter, for never getting quite enough servings of veggies. Maybe her cat, Beebee, sicced an Egyptian goddess on her for putting him in a lobster costume last Halloween.

“Actually,” she starts, and her breath puffs white in front of her face. “I’d rather—”

“Not everyone in our team can fit in the car with me or Jess, and as you can imagine no one else wants to ride with the Software peeps. So.”

“Right. Um. Neither do I, so—”

“Please, Rey.” His expression is pleading, under the hem of his beanie hat. “You’re my least drama-prone team member. Do me a solid.”

“Well, I can be pretty dramatic, if that’s what’s gonna get me out of—”

“Thank you.” Poe smiles with relief and pats her once on the arm. “I owe you one.”

And that’s how she finds herself sitting in the back of Ben’s car, on the passenger side. It’s a triple whammy: not only that Ben’s annoyance at having Rey within a fifty feet radius is not subtle, but next to her Hux is playing Flappy Bird with the sound on, and Bazine, who is sitting in front of Rey, appears to require several yards of leg space.

“Hey. Could you move your seat up a bit?” Rey asks with a smile.

Bazine clicks her tongue and adjusts the seat, moving it up about a fourth of an inch.

“Right. Um… thanks.” I guess.

Rey leans back against the headrest, closes her eyes, and tries not to sigh too heavily.

 

 

They arrive at the lodge four hours later, and Rey takes in the snow-dusted pine trees and rustic wood walls whilst musing that even though she has yet to experience life events such as childbirth, broken hips, or hemorrhoids, nothing could possibly be as painful as the car ride she just survived.

She’s not quite sure what her favorite part is—maybe when she asked Ben to stop at a gas station so she could pee and Hux muttered that “there are exercises one can do, to overcome poor bladder control”; though Ben changing the radio station with an appalled expression, right after Rey mentioned excitedly that the song playing was one of her favorites—that’s pretty high up there, too. Probably, what takes the cake is Ben and Bazine discussing in excruciating detail the training, equipment, and philosophy that underlie Ironman Triathlons. Rey’d wanted to crawl out of the car and just walk to the lodge when they started talking about their preferred brand of energy gels; though she’d only really wished she was dead when Bazine had suggestively invited Ben to her place to show him her bike seat collection (the silver lining had been that the combination of Ben’s terse “No, thank you,” and Hux’s ensuing snickers had put a swift end to the conversation).

At least the lodge looks nice. Huge, as huge as a hotel, really, and charming, and just… expensive. Tall windows and porches and decks, and it’s surrounded by trees and narrow paths, and Rey doesn’t think that she’s ever been in a place quite like this. It makes up for the fact that she had to sit in silence and observe Bazine feel up Ben’s bicep, even as Rose and Tallie and Finn were having so much fun playing 20 questions that the game is still ongoing.

“Okay, number seventeen: is it related specifically to Rosicrucianism, or to freemasonry in general?” Tallie is asking, and Rey massages her temples and thinks that maybe the Ben Solo car experience was for the best. What doesn’t kill you, and all that.

Poe comes up to her and pats her on the back, his hand heavy through the thick winter coat. “Hey, thanks again, Rey. How was the ride?”

“Okay,” she lies, and then lowers her voice to whisper, “though you might want to know that Hux checks his Grindr profile at least once every ten minutes.”

“I—he—it’s not—” Poe sputters and flushes. “I mean, we’re just having fun—it’s not like we—like we’re exclusive or anything—”

Rey smiles slyly and begins to walk towards the cabin, feeling partially avenged.

 

 

Together, the Software and Hardware teams total twenty people—the exact number of rooms in the lodge, according to the housekeeper who greets them.

“You can find your room number in your welcome envelopes,” she says with a smile. Rey opens hers, and inside finds a candy cane (she immediately sticks it in her mouth), an information pamphlet, and a wooden keychain with the number Four written on it. “Meals are buffet style, served at seven AM, noon, and six PM in the dining room.”

“Which room are you in, Rey?” Finn asks while she’s picking up her duffel bag.

“Four.”

“Oh,” he says, in a slightly subdued tone that has her pause. They’ve been friends for so long, by now Rey can read him like a line of C++.

“What about you?”

“Nineteen.” He purses his lips. “But Rose is in Three. So.”

Rey smiles, thinking about Rose and Finn tiptoeing their way across the cabin in their underwear, like they do daily in the apartment Rey and Finn have shared for the past three years. And then she almost cringes, suddenly remembering how loud those two can be when they get busy. Her bedroom and Finn’s share a wall, and Rey really didn’t need to know that her two closest friends have a daddy kink and a weakness for milkmaid role play.

“Ehm… how about we just swap?”

Finn is beaming as he drops his keys in her palm. He also insists that she take his complimentary candy cane—Rey chalks it up as a win.

A super-win, really. Because rooms Nineteen and Twenty are in a loft of sorts, a separate, quieter wing of the cabin that faces the woods behind the building, and Rey just knows that the view from the windows is going to be breathtaking.

She hears footsteps behind her and turns to see who is going to be her neighbor for the next five days, half hoping for Tallie or Jess but mostly praying that it won’t be Hux or Poe, because she really does not want to find out if either of them has a milkmaid kink.

Except that, of course, room Twenty is not Tallie’s. Or Jess’, or Poe’s, or Hux’s. It’s clear that, somehow, Rey must have pissed off a whole pantheon of gods. Because:

“Are you lost?” Ben asks as he comes to stand on the landing, sneering a little.

I wish, she thinks, taking her candy cane out of her mouth. “Nope.”

Ben’s eyes narrow to slits. “Then what are you doing here? I saw Finn downstairs with his bags.”

Rey has no idea why Finn heading downstairs would be of any relevance to her being here.

“I live here,” she replies flatly, trying to sound civil but not really going out of her way to accomplish it.

There’s a whole journey of emotions crossing Ben’s face, and Rey feels like she can tease apart most of them. Incredulity (this plebeian, first in my car and now sleeping next to me, how dare), panic (will she give me the cooties), rage (I will send a strongly worded email to corporate for allowing this to happen); it settles on a mix of dismay, annoyance, and outright disgust, and—Rey is not a people pleaser and doesn’t much care to be liked, especially not by someone like Ben Solo, but he isn’t even trying to be subtle about it.

Rey didn’t kill his damn pet bat, didn’t bully him in high school, and she didn’t steal his grandma’s secret apple pie recipe. Seriously, this hatred he has for her is so completely unjustified, it’s almost comical.

“I don’t snore loudly, or anything,” she offers appeasingly. Maybe he’s just concerned because he’s a very light sleeper. It would sure explain his usual cheerful temperament. “And I don’t shower in the middle of the night. And you seemed to really hate Taylor Swift in the car, so you’ll find it reassuring to know that I own great noise canceling headphones that—”  

Ben’s door slams behind him, leaving Rey alone on the landing.

With a deep sigh, she sticks the half-eaten candy cane back in her mouth, picks up her bag, and goes to unlock her room.

Ben Solo is a special kind of hell—and Rey is stuck in it for the next five days.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Whisky on ice, Sunset & Vine

You've ruined my life by not being mine

 


 

  

The rice pudding was nothing to write home about, but the chocolate cheesecake is so movingly good, it takes Rey several seconds to be able to speak once she’s done chewing the first bite.

“This is better than sex,” she tells Poe, shoving another piece in her mouth.

“Maybe better than sex with you.” Chad, Software Engineer bro and full-time ass, mutters it from the seat on her right; as if on command, his buddies immediately begin to snigger. Rey pretends not to hear him, but a few seconds later she ‘accidentally’ elbows her glass of eggnog, making its contents spill in his lap.

“Sooo sorry,” she says, pressing her hand to her lips as he wipes his pants with a napkin.

“That wasn’t very nice of you,” Poe comments under his breath once Chad has left to get a change of clothes, and Rey goes back to savoring her cake.

“Corporate was right.” She beams at him. “I can feel our relationship with the Software team improve by the second.”

Poe sighs, and Rey pats the back of his hand. Being team leader sounds like a bitch of a job, and Rey really doesn’t envy him—but neither is she willing to let the Chads of this world get away with being absolute dicks to her.

The issue, of course, is Ben. Ben is the antimatter black hole of all her professional problems, and maybe, maybe, if at the end of her last presentation he hadn’t felt compelled to ask her very publicly if she forged her engineering degree, then his team members wouldn’t feel welcome to take all sorts of digs at her. Maybe if he didn’t constantly misspell her name in emails, people would know that she is not actually called Ray. And maybe, if at last year’s Christmas party he hadn’t stepped away with an appalled expression when he and Rey found themselves under the mistletoe and approximately forty people started chanting for them to kiss, Rey’s lack of desirability wouldn’t be one of the office’s most beloved inside jokes.

Not that it matters. Rey doesn’t care. Not that much. If Ben Solo finds her so revolting that he can’t bear to kiss her on the cheek for half a second, then so be it. There’s plenty of eggnog in this world, waiting to be spilled in the laps of plenty of assholes.

“Rey, wanna go explore when you’re done eating?” Tallie asks from another table, and Rey nods and wolfs down the rest of her cheesecake before heading out.

The lodge has everything. Several entertainment rooms, and fireplaces, and a space with a pool table and board games. There are two different hot tubs on separate decks, and a winter garden, and a gym that is better equipped than the one Rey habitually frequents. There’s a library, and more Blu-rays and DVDs than she thought physically existed. As someone who still has about 10k in student loans to pay off, she finds the extreme luxury of it a little wasteful, but she’ll take it.

“Why do you suppose corporate sent us here, instead of, say, a Motel 6?” she asks Tallie, who just shrugs.

“Company’s doing very well, I think.”

“Yeah, but why spend money on us instead of, I don’t know, buying Faberge eggs for shareholders?”

Tallie tilts her head to the side. “Maybe they actually see us as human beings, and they value us and our skill sets?”

They burst out laughing at the same time.

 

 

It’s late enough—and cold enough—that Rey doesn’t feel like braving the outside just yet, so she puts on leggings and running shoes and heads down to the gym. Ben’s room is silent, with no light filtering from under the door, and Rey doesn’t meet anyone as she makes her way down the stairs, which has her wondering if everyone is out exploring the grounds—maybe skiing already.

She is humming to herself, trying to decide whether she should watch a show on Netflix or just blast some music, when she walks into the treadmill room and finds him.

Him.

On the machine farthest away from her, running at what’s probably eighteen miles per hour. He’s facing the other way and wearing different clothes than this morning in the car, but it’s not as if Ben Solo, with the hair and the shoulders and the thighs, can be mistaken for anyone else. Rey remembers Ben’s and Bazine’s long, in-depth conversation about zone two training and blood lactate testing and tempo runs, and as she stares at the way his muscles shift under his shirt, she thinks that it’s possible that the Ironman Triathlon talk wasn’t entirely bragging.   

Whatever. Ben’s level of fitness is not her business. Rey fills her water bottle from the dispenser, goes to stand by the treadmill that is farthest away from his, and begins to stretch her quads and lower back. Thank God this gym is needlessly over the top and large enough for the two of them to work out while happily ignoring each other.

Or maybe not. Maybe Rey is wrong to assume such a thing, because as soon as she jumps on her treadmill Ben finally notices her. He briefly glances at her, then glances again with wide eyes as if to make sure that yes, Rey really did just dare to intrude on his private running time, and then immediately stops his machine. He doesn’t cool down—he goes from twenty to zero in the space of five seconds, grabs his water bottle, and then he springs to the floor, clearly intending to leave.

Which—what?

“Hey,” Rey yells after him, stopping her own treadmill.

Ben doesn’t answer—just wipes his face with a towel as he heads for the exit.

“Hey! I’m talking to you, Ben.”

He pauses briefly. Though calling it a pause is an exaggeration—he seems to hesitate for a moment and his step falters, but it’s so fleeting that Rey’s not certain she didn’t just imagine it. He’s still heading for the door, and—

No. Nope. Not happening.

Rey gets off her treadmill and jogs after him, grasping the back of his shirt as she catches up.

Ben instantly spins around. “What are you—”

“Oh! Lo and behold, he speaks.

Rey lets go of his shirt and stares up at him. He’s still breathing hard, his chest moving up and down as he looks at her with an expression that is even more hostile than usual. His cheekbones are flushed with exercise, and the hair at his temples is curling with sweat.

“What do you want?” He is glaring at her.

“Did you, like, just have a bit of temporary hearing loss? Because I was talking to you, and you completely ignored—” He makes to turn around, again, and Rey has to tug at his shirt, again. “Hey, rude! I’m talking to you.”

He sighs, freeing himself and taking a step away from her. “Can you make it quick?”

Rey swallows, suddenly intimidated by this moody, irascible man who’s twice her size. And then she remembers that she is not one to get intimidated easily, and calmly asks, “Why are you leaving?”

He frowns. Even more than he already was. “It’s none of your business.”

“I know, but— it’s not, unless you’re leaving because I just came in. In which case it would be, and you’d be an overgrown baby. Since I was gonna be on the other side of the room, anyway, and I was gonna listen to my music with my headphones, and I use deodorant… pretty much every day, which means that I can’t possibly smell that bad—”

“Are you done?” he asks, crossing his arms over his chest, and—yes. Yes, maybe Rey is done. She has said what she wanted to say, which is that Ben shouldn’t feel like he needs to leave a room just because she enters it, and that must mean that she is done. Except that, now that he’s standing in front of her and she has his attention, she finds that there is more she’d like to talk about.

“Did I do something to you?” she asks, and the question surprises her. Ben, too, judging from how his eyes widen before he resumes his habitual scowl.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Rey nods, not believing him for a second. “Right. Because—I mean, maybe you don’t like the way I do my job, and that’s fair and your prerogative, whatever. You might be my superior, but Poe’s my direct boss, so his opinion is the only one that counts. The way you’ve been acting towards me, though, it feels a bit too… antagonistic, to be just—”

Ben rolls his eyes and spins on his heels again, this time clearly meaning to leave the room, and—

This is ridiculous. Fuck this shit.

Rey leans forward and grabs at him again. This time her hand meets his arm, and her fingers close around his wrist as she tries to pull him back to her.

“Hey, we’re having a conversation here. I think you can spare thirty seconds of your time to listen to what—”

With seemingly no effort, Ben yanks his arm free of Rey’s grip and takes one step back, increasing the distance between them. He immediately begins to rub his wrist, as if burned by her touch. His jaw is clenching when he finally looks up at her, eyes blazing with—something. Something that can’t be good.

Do not touch me,” he hisses. “Ever again.”

Rey’s jaw drops open as he spins around and exits the room, leaving her in the middle of the gym to wonder what on Earth she could have done to him to deserve to be…. despised, and so intensely. She exhales slowly, rubbing her eyes with her thumb and index finger, and then lets her arm drop to her side.

Okay, then.

Just… okay.

“Whatever,” Rey mutters, wrinkling her nose and staring after him. “Eat shit, Ben Solo,”

 

 

Maybe Poe was right. Maybe this holiday will be relaxing and uneventful and relatively devoid of douchy software engineers. Rey was initially skeptical, but twenty-four hours into the vacation it becomes clear that Ben and his team are only interested in the double black diamond slopes, and are gone from early morning until well past dinner time—probably doing very mature things like cutting the line for ski lifts, or racing each other into a traumatic brain injury, or picking fights with snowboarders.

Rey, who has never skied before and hasn’t quite made up her mind on whether she’s a fan of any snow-based activity, spends the morning snowplowing her way down the easiest slope she can find with Kaydel and a bunch of eight-year-olds, and her afternoon drinking approximately three gallons of hot chocolate curled up in front of the fireplace. She studies the little star-shaped marshmallows floating around the surface of her mug and tells herself that life could be worse. Considerably so.

At night, her team takes over one of the TV rooms and watches two Austin Powers movie in a row while having popcorn.

“Jesus,” Rose complains after taking a handful of Rey’s. “Why don’t you just go ahead and eat a stick of salted butter?”

“Eh,” Rey answers while chewing. “The popcorn’s a good medium.”

She decides to go to bed before Goldmember begins, brushing away everyone’s protests that ‘it’s the one with Beyonce. And Austinpussy!’ Poe yawns and joins her, and they make their way to their rooms arguing animatedly over whether Sphynx cats are cute.

“They are horrifying.”

“Not at all!”

God.” Poe looks on the verge of a heart attack. “Those giant ears, and all the wrinkles—”

“That’s what makes them cute. You know, I’m not sure I want to work for someone who isn’t able to open his heart to Mr. Bigglesworth. Just because he’s naked.”

“Actually, I don’t know if I can bear to work with someone who thinks that those hobgoblins are—”

Poe suddenly falls silent and halts in his steps.

“Why did you—“ Rey stops by his side and follows his gaze, noticing that he’s looking into one of the smaller common rooms, only equipped with a TV, a couch, and a couple of chairs. She initially thinks that someone is watching a movie, but after a moment she recognizes the cowboy graphics on the screen. “Cool! Who’s playing Red Dead Redemption 2oh.”

The first thing she notices is the hair peeping out from the back of the couch—that chuff of orange-red that always makes her roll her eyes when she spots it in the office hallways. The second is a taller, darker mop of hair on the seat next to Hux’s. The third, a PlayStation that has been hooked up to the LED TV—clearly, someone brought it here from home.

“Great,” Rey mutters. “I guess I won’t be playing Red Dead Redemption any time soon.”

“Hang on,” Poe says distractedly, stepping inside. Rey leans on the doorframe and waits for him to come back, not in any hurry to have another encounter with Ben after yesterday’s run-in in the gym. If they never talk again, that’d still be too soon. Except that Poe, bless his heart, doesn’t seem to agree and is motioning for her to follow him inside. Rey sighs and walks to him, bracing herself for the usual hostility with a side of scorn, and comes to stand by Hux and Ben to find them—

Asleep.

“Why are they—” she starts, whispering, but her eyes fall onto the three almost-empty bottles on the coffee table, and suddenly her question seems a bit silly. She bends over to read the labels: Vodka, Vermouth, and something called Sambuca that Rey has never heard of before. “Holy shit. That’s a lot of alcohol.”

“Yup.” Poe folds his arms across his chest, studying the scene with a concerned expression.

“Do you think they drank all of it?”

He shrugs. “Sure looks like it.”

Rey whistles under her breath. Neither of the men on the couch stir. “So, do you think they’re in an alcohol coma? And, as a follow up a question: would it be in bad taste to take very compromising pictures of them? Because I feel like our team could use some ammo for when these Software dicks decide to—”

“He’s so fucking cute,” Poe muses, clearly not listening to a word of what Rey’s saying.  She follows the direction of his eyes, and realizes that he’s looking at Hux. Hux, whose mouth is hanging open and who’s visibly drooling on his sweatshirt; there is also something that looks a lot like boogers on his right cheek, but it could also be a wart that Rey never noticed before.

“So Hux’s cute, but Sphynx cats are not?” she mutters in disbelief, but Poe seems determined to ignore her to engage in other, more interesting activities—namely, lovingly pushing Hux’s hair back from his forehead. Jesus. “Mate, you have it bad.”

“We gotta carry them to bed,” Poe tells her, and Rey chuckles a little—until she realizes that he’s not joking.

“What? Why?”

“Because.”

“Because, why? I mean—there’s heat in here. And it’s just us staying at the lodge, it’s not like they’ll be robbed or kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. We could just find a couple of blankets and—”

“I’ll carry Hux,” Poe says, bending to wrap Hux’s arm around his neck. “You take Ben.”

Rey gasps, speechless for moment—a moment that lasts long enough for Poe to lift Hux up and get halfway to the door. “What—Wait a minute—Hux weighs half as much as Ben. And I weigh less than you, so it would make more sense for me to—”

“Make sure you put a bucket or something similar next to his bed,” Poe yells before turning the corner. “In case he gets sick.”

The room falls silent, and Rey finds herself standing there like the fool she is, alone in the middle of the room. Or—not quite alone. Her eyes drift to Ben, and—at least he is a more graceful drunk than Hux. There’s no boogers, or drool. Just Ben sleeping, his lips slightly parted and his head leaning against the side of the couch. He seems to be resting quite peacefully, for once not broadcasting that pissed-off, ever-frustrated energy of his, and for a few moments Rey debates the pros and cons of leaving him here to stew in his own ethanol. In the end, the deciding factor is simply that Poe’s her boss, and that he’s the one who ordered her to take Ben back to his room.

“Hey,” Rey says a few times, and when there’s no response she begins to poke at his bicep. Which, she has to admit, does feel like the bicep of someone who works out an insane amount. “Can you—Ben? Can you… um… hear me?”

His eyes blink open with effort, the usual sharp brown looking uncharacteristically glassy.

“Rey,” he tells her, his voice deep and scratchy, and she braces herself for a bout of insults and abuse.

“Yep, me. You passed out on the couch, so I’m gonna take you upstairs to your room, ’kay? Can you walk a bit? I can help you balance, but you’re huge and—”

“Rey,” he repeats, this time sounding breathless, and for some reason she feels her cheeks heat.

He is, surprisingly, better drunk than sober. By far. Per Rey’s experience in the foster system, most people tend to become aggressive or downright violent when they overindulge, but Ben—who might be all of these things without alcohol—becomes pleasantly docile. He is heavy, for sure, but once she figures out how to leverage his arm over her shoulders, the whole process of dragging him to bed works pretty smoothly.

Rey tries not to think too hard of the previous day. Don’t touch me, he’d said with a snarl. And then he’d added, ever again, just for good measure. Technically, I’m only touching him through his sweater, she thinks as she coaxes him upstairs, feeling his heat as he leans against her side. As much as she hates that she got she saddled with a two-hundred-pound guy built like a brick house—and she uses the verb saddled pretty literally—this is hands down her most pleasant interaction with Ben Solo to date. Probably because he’s mostly unconscious.

The layout of his room is exactly like hers—a huge four-poster bed, large windows that lead to a balcony, and a sitting area with a small table. To no one’s surprise, Ben seems to be a bit of a neat freak, with the result that unlike Rey’s, his room doesn’t look like a hurricane ran through it.

“Two more steps and we’re on the bed,” she tells him, a little out of breath from supporting his weight. Ben just hums agreeably, and when his thigh hits the mattress he lets himself fall on the bed, face up. His hair, as black as ebony, fans on the pillow as she takes off his shoes and lifts his legs above the bedspread.

“You owe me big time.” Though hopefully you won’t remember any of this.

Rey moves the trashcan closer to the bed, then turns on the bedside lamp and makes to head out, feeling like she’s really paying it forward tonight—

A hand closes around her wrist, startling her, and she trips on the plush carpet, losing her balance and ending up with her ass on the edge of the bed.

“Shit, I—”

Ben’s fingers feel warm and strong against her skin, his grip just strong enough to anchor Rey. Sloshed as he is, she could probably wriggle free with little effort, but when she looks down she finds Ben staring up at her with a peaceful, contemplative expression on his face that gives her pause.

“Are you… Do you need anything? I can get you some water if you…”

Her voice trails off as he lets go of her wrist. Her skin feels cold where he’s not touching her anymore—though maybe that’s not it. Maybe it’s the way the backs of his fingers are inching up her arm that makes her shiver, slow and light and purposeful until they reach her shoulder and suddenly—stop.

“You,” he says, and Rey finds it odd, that he’s not slurring his words. How sober his voice sounds. “You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

A wave of heat creeps up Rey’s chest, just as she snorts out a nervous laugh. “Right. I’m clearly not who you think I am, mate, so—”

Ben’s hand moves up, from Rey’s shoulder to her chin, and just like that she can feel the warmth of his skin again. His thumb comes to rest on her lips, and—she can hardly continue talking, with his finger over her mouth. “Rey,” he whispers.

It’s as if time becomes denser. And thicker. It’s as if there is no more air in the space between them, as if a storm is blowing up in Rey’s chest. Ben’s thumb swipes back and forth over her lower lip, and there is something wistful and yearning and hungry in his eyes that Rey cannot quite comprehend. Until his mouth twitches in a sad little smile, and he says:

“I haven’t thought about anything but you since the first time I saw you.”

With that, Ben’s eyes blink closed, his hand drops back to his side, and he falls into a deep sleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

If you've got a girlfriend I'm jealous of her

But if you're single that's honestly worse

'Cause you're so gorgeous it actually hurts

Honey, it hurts

 


 

She most definitely does not turn in her bed for hours thinking about what happened. Not at all. And if she does, it’s probably just all that hot chocolate she had throughout the day—it contains caffeine, a three AM Google search informs her—or maybe the fact that the cold has seeped into her bone marrow and seems to have become part of her body.

It has nothing to do with Ben, who surely did not mean what he said. He was drunk. He was half asleep. He was out of his mind. There is no way he meant any of it.

Except that he said her name. Rey. Rey, he said, with the same precise, specific tone he always uses to tell her that the LGA socket she designed won’t work, or to remind her that the company doesn’t have a casual Tuesday policy. He said Rey, and he looked at her, and then he touched her. Like that.

He also asked you not to touch him, a sensible voice in her head suggests. Ever again. So.

Rey has to admit that the voice has a point.

She ends up falling asleep in the early hours of the morning and wakes up late feeling groggy and anxious. Outside her window the snow is falling, big, silent flakes that look like they’re going to definitely stick to the ground, even to Rey’s inexperienced eyes. She wonders whether fresh snow means that more people will stay in and avoid the slopes—and then chastises herself for caring. Live your life and ignore assholes like you’ve always done, that wise voice reminds her. And yes, that includes Ben Solo.

Breakfast is not being being served anymore by the time she gets to the dining room, which means that she has to make do with cold coffee, a slightly stale bagel, and some suspicious looking grape jelly. She is sitting alone when Finn comes in and takes a seat in front of her, glancing furtively around before leaning in and whispering.

“I think we should talk.”

Rey blinks, putting down the remains of her breakfast. It was gross, anyway. “Okay.”

“It’s a bit of a delicate matter.”

“Um. Okay.” Rey hesitates. Finn is usually more direct than this. “Is this about Rose?”

“No. Well,” he amends with a tilt of his head, “yes. Partially. Indirectly.”

Oh, God. This can’t possibly be good. “Okay. Just as a warning, if it has anything to do with your sex life I might not be the best person to ask advice to, mostly because I’m Rose’s friend as well, and—”

“Have you been telling people that we’re dating? You and I, I mean.”

Whatever Rey expected, this was not it. “What?”

Finn rubs his jaw with his hand. “Okay, I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but—there are people who think that you’re my girlfriend. And that I’m your boyfriend. Which is not true and never has been—”

“What—who? Who thinks that?”

“Well, judging from the way he shoved me against a wall and almost pummeled my face, Ben Solo is one of them.”

Rey opens her mouth to answer, but no sound comes out for the longest time. When it finally does, her voice is croaking. “Why… Why would he do that?”

“He saw Rose and me hold hands. And—whatever, maybe even kiss. Earlier this morning—we went for a walk, and then we came back in and we thought we were alone and—he saw us together and he—” Finn rubs his arm, as if something in it is still aching “—um, he kind of flipped on me. You know? Ben Solo style.”

Rey’s mouth is agape. “But… what does this have to do with me being your—”

“He said something about me being the kind of jerk who will cheat on his girlfriend while she’s sleeping under the same roof—and then he said I could at least try to make an effort so that you wouldn’t catch me with Rose, which—”

What the hell?” Rey almost yells, and Finn frantically shushes her down.

“Hey, let’s keep this quiet. The thing between Rose and me is still on a need-to-know basis.”

Rey is too astonished by what Finn just told her to point out that everyone in the team knows that he and Rose have been sexing each other up for weeks. She lowers her voice and leans toward him over the table. “I have never said or implied that you and I are dating. Least of all to Ben. I have never even had a private conversation with him.” Not until last night, at least. And look how that clusterfuck turned out.

“Right, I thought so.”

Rey scratches her head, trying to make sense of Finn’s story. “The only thing I can think of is that he might have assumed that we’re together because we’re roommates.”

“So you told him we’re roommates?”

“No.” She shakes her head. “No. I mean—he might have noticed that we drive to and from work together all the time.”

Finn nods. “Oh, right. Or he might have overheard me saying ‘see you home,’ or stuff like that.”

Right. It’s possible. It makes sense. Or it would, if it weren’t for the fact that—it would require a level of attention to Rey’s words and habits and behaviors that she simply cannot imagine Ben sparing. After all, he’s the one who doesn’t know how to spell her name, the one who constantly seems to forget to include her on group emails when she’s assigned to a project he leads. He’s just not interested enough in her to even wonder about her dating life.

I haven’t thought about anything but you since the first time I saw you.

“The thing is,” Finn is saying, rubbing the back of his head, “I wouldn’t have pegged him as the type, you know? To almost beat me up because he thought I was cheating on a girl that he barely knows. Seems a bit too... righteous. Not on brand at all.”

“Right,” Rey says weakly. Her mind is spinning in an odd way, making her dizzy. “Maybe he was just looking for an excuse to start a fight or something?”

You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

“Maybe? Probably. For sure. I had to tell him. Or he wouldn’t have let me go?”

“Tell him what?”

Do not touch me. Ever again.

“That we’re not dating. And never have. He looked like he was going to break my neck or something. And he’s huge.”

“Oh. And what did he…” Rey’s mouth is as dry as the desert, and she has to swallow before continuing. “What did he say? When you told him?”

“Nothing. Nothing. He just left. He looked… kind of dumbstruck, to be honest. Like he didn’t believe me.”

Rey.

 

 

She passes Kaydel and Jess and Tallie as she rushes upstairs, wearing winter coats and thick hats and ski gloves.

“Oh, Rey, you’re up. We’re gonna take a walk in the snow since the storm doesn’t seem to be too intense, do you want to join—”

“No time,” she replies distractedly while darting right past them.

Once she’s standing in front of Ben’s door, she doesn’t hesitate. She just knocks, no doubt more forcefully than necessary, and squares her shoulders as she listens to the sound of him moving inside the room. His eyes widen once he sees her, but only for a second. Then they immediately narrow in that combative expression he always wears around her, his face closing off.

“What do you—?”

Rey ducks under the arm that is holding the door open, stepping inside Ben’s room until she is standing in the middle of it. When she turns, he’s looking at her in half disbelief, half belligerence. “What the fuck are you—”

“Will you close the door, please?”

He snorts out a humorless laugh. “No. Get out of my—”

“Okay, then.” Rey wets her lips and just says it. “Do you like me?”

Ben goes—still. Absolutely, utterly still. In a way that really could only be accomplished if someone’s heart stopped beating and their lungs were shutting down, which is why for a handful of seconds Rey is a tiny bit worried that she might have broken him completely. But after a while his lips press together, and then he does push the door closed behind him. Rey feels relief flutter in her stomach.

“Right.” Rey leans against one of the bed’s posts. “I thought you might want to have some privacy for this one.”

“Why would you think that I—”

“Because you told me. Last night.” Ben is blinking, looking confused. “Wonder how you got from Red Dead Redemption to bed?” Rey points a thumb at her chest. “This girl. You weigh a ton, by the way.”

Ben’s eyes widen in panic. “Did I—Did I touch you in any—”

“No!” Rey interjects. “No, nothing like that.” Ben’s shoulders sag with relief, and Rey—she feels almost bad for him, when she adds, “Though you did confess to… having a thing for me, for lack of a better term. And I thought it was probably nothing, but apparently this morning you assaulted Finn for supposedly “cheating” on me—”

“I did not assault him.” He rolls his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. “You Hardware people are so dramatic—”

“Whatever. Semantics.” Rey waves a hand and continues, her tone calm and rational. “The thing is, ever since we met you’ve been such an absolute dick to me that if twenty-four hours ago someone had asked me whether you were interested in me, I’d have laughed in their face. But then last night you said something about—” me, being beautiful. About wanting me “—liking the way I look, and this morning you almost beat up my roommate—yep, he’s just my roommate, student loans are a bitch and half and not all of us make a team leader salary or have rich senator parents—and, well, I hope you will forgive me for coming across as conceited, but I think you can understand why I cannot help but wonder if you…” Rey pauses, holding Ben’s eyes for a beat, “…like me.”

In the end, she doesn’t even need an answer. Not a verbal one, for sure. Not with the way Ben is looking at her, his eyes dark and clear and—for once, so easy to read. But that’s the thing with Ben, isn’t it? He’s blunt and rude and mean, but he’s no liar. And the truth is there in his face, for Rey to pick up and study and marvel at.

“Right,” she mumbles, and her voice sounds strange to her own ears. “I thought so.”

He closes his eyes, running a hand through his hair. The tips are still damp—he must have just finished showering. It would explain why he’s only wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

“Rey, I…”

He. He… something. As time trickles by, the silence of the room only broken by the laughter of the people exploring the woods outside, it becomes clear that Ben has no intention of completing the sentence. And Rey—Rey just wants to understand.

“Why, then?” She turns around and walks to the window, taking in branches of pine trees that look like they’re about to collapse under the weight of the snow. She’s just thinking out loud now. “Is it a recent thing? I mean, why would you go out of your way to be so hostile, if you like me? You must know that it would only be counterproductive.”

Next to one of the decks, Tallie is crouching down to make a snowball. Jess beats her to it, and slides a handful of ice down her collar. They both scream while Kaydel takes a video of them with her cellphone.

“Unless,” Rey muses when the thought occurs to her, and for a second it seems almost too painful to put in words. “Unless you hate it. Unless you despise yourself for it. Unless your opinion of me is so… so poor, unless you are so disgusted by the idea of being attracted to me that you just can’t help being a total—”

“No.” Rey turns around, and the way Ben’s jaw is clenching—it seems so familiar. And yet so new. “No. I don’t…” He tiredly runs a hand down his face. “I think the world of you, Rey.”

It’s hard to believe. Impossible. The whole situation, it’s like the script of a bad movie.

“Then why? Why didn’t you just… I don’t know. Buy me coffee? Ask me out?”

Ben huffs out a silent, bitter laugh. “Because.” He’s not meeting her eyes. “Because you are…”

He looks like he has no words to describe what she is to him. He looks like he…

“Right.” Rey clears her throat. “So you decided to just be… horrible to me? For what, two years?”

It’s possible that he’d have answered her question. It’s possible that he’d have come up with a logical explanation for his behavior, or at least with a decent apology. It’s possible that there’s a good reason behind everything he’s said and done, since the very first day they met—but it’s also possible that Rey will never know.

All at once, she can’t bear to be here, in front of him—not for a second longer. She shakes her head and moves away from the window, giving Ben as wide a berth as possible.

“I’ll see you around, I guess,” she tells him, and exits the room, making sure to close the door behind her.

As she hurries down the stairs, she thinks she hears the sound of something breaking.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

You should take it as a compliment

That I'm talking to everyone here but you

And you should think about the consequence

Of you touching my hand in a darkened room

 


 

Rey really, truly didn’t think anything would change.

She gets a sense of how wrong she was the following morning, when she is precariously balancing food on her plate at the breakfast buffet, wondering if she can fit that banana-walnut muffin on top of her eggs and still reasonably expect that the structure she just built won’t collapse.

Chad doesn’t even bother keeping his voice low, when he asks Bazine: “Do you think she has tapeworm?”

They both giggle like the miserable assholes they are, and Rey rolls her eyes, looking around for some eggnog to pour over their heads. She is about to settle for some half-and-half, when—

“Shut the fuck up, Chad, will you.”

She has to turn around, because that sounded a lot like Ben’s voice and—it cannot possibly be. Except that—he is standing there, right behind Rey, and Chad is eyeing him with a nervous expression.

“But I—”

Ben just—looks at him. It’s a curiously primal display of dominance, the way he quite literally stares at Chad into shutting up; there’s also something wondrous about the defeated, confused way Chad and Bazine make their way to the their seats while muttering something that sounds a lot like ‘what is up with that, anyway?

Rey tries to meet Ben’s gaze, looking for clues to figure out what just happened, but he’s already heading out of the dining room, a cup of coffee in one hand, an apple and a protein bar in the other.

Okay.

The second hint comes later, when Poe and Ben decide that everyone should go outside to take a group picture, with the sole purpose of fooling corporate into thinking that the team building they are handsomely paying for is indeed happening. Rey is not sure how the snowball fight begins—maybe it’s Phasma tripping over Finn as he makes a snow angel, though it might have been Tallie throwing a ball at Snap and accidentally hitting Hux. She only knows that she spends the following twenty minutes shoveling to help Kaydel build a snow fort, and… okay, it’s possible that using her cotton mittens was not her best idea. Rey goes through a couple of different stages of misery—freezing pain, wanting to die, wanting to chop off both hands—but by the time the fort is finally ready she’s mostly feeling better.

“My fingers are not even cold anymore,” she marvels.

“It’s because you can’t feel them,” Kaydel says cheerfully before running after Jess. “First step towards hypothermia.”

“What? Are you serious? What should I—”

Though Kaydel is gone, leaving Rey to wonder if she should be worried about—

“Here.” Someone large and tall is dangling a pair of black, undoubtedly well-insulated leather gloves in front of her face. And no one is as large and as tall as— “Take your mittens off. They’re drenched.”

Rey can only look up at Ben, trying to prevent her jaw from dropping. She’s not sure how long her stupor lasts, though it must be just enough for Ben to decide to take off her mittens himself.

“I can’t believe you packed this crap for a trip in this weather,” he’s muttering, grumpy but not... unkind. Rey still can’t find it in her to answer, and it only gets worse when Ben stuffs her wet mittens in her pocket and wraps his palms around her icy fingers.

He is… warm. Toasty. Impossibly, deliciously so.

“I, um…” Rey is never speechless—except that now her brain is stuttering and she has no clue what to say. “Um, thank you?”

“No problem.” The red on his cheekbones is probably from the cold. Surely. There is no other possible explanation. “Here,” he says after a while, when there’s a pleasant tingling. “You can put these on.”

They are obviously his gloves—made for hands that belong to a man who’s twice her size and then some. Rey can tell because they’re far too large—but also because they still hold a warmth that must come from someone’s body.

Ben’s body.

“But, what about—” she stammers. “What about your—”

He just shakes his head and gives her a small smile, turning on his heels and returning inside the lodge. Rey stares at his back until it disappears from her sight, wondering if she’s going crazy from the cold, if she was hit in the head by a stray snowball. If she is lying belly-up on the ground and hallucinated the last five minute.

Okay, then.

 

 

She goes to bed at eleven, and then gets out at eleven thirty, when it becomes abundantly clear that all the covers in the world are not going to warm her up. It’s as if her bones have turned into ice, cooling her from the inside until she can’t lie between the sheets without shivering. She is considering going for a run in the gym downstairs, when her half-frozen brain cells thaw a bit and remember the existence of the two hot tubs.

The one that’s closest to her room is a no go: Finn and Rose are in it, alone, sitting very close, and what with having overheard what she has and how sex-positive those two seem to be, Rey wouldn’t be surprised if they were currently engaging in some complex droit de seigneur scenario and decided to recruit her to the play a vassal's bride maid or something equally traumatizing.

No, thanks.

She pads her way to the other tub, cold air drifting in and out the folds of her bathrobe, and finds it occupied, too. Poe, Hux, and Ben are sitting in it, steam wafting between them as they talk about something that sounds serious and maybe work related, and—nope. Rey would rather chance Rose and Finn doing it in front of her than spend any amount of time with Poe as he moons over Hux, Hux as he tolerates being mooned over, and Ben as he… as he is Ben. So she silently tip-toes away from the deck and—

“Hey, Rey.” Poe waves at her with a smile. “You came to soak with us?”

Fuck. “Um, hey.” Shit. “Actually, I was just going to—”

“Here, you can sit next to me.” He scoots over, making room on his right. It has the clear advantage of putting him very close to Hux’s lap, while ensuring that Rey will be sitting right next to… Ben, of course.

Shit.

“Right. Um… thank you.”

The water is heaven. If heaven, that is, were a delightfully warm pool that has to be shared with questionable company. Poe seems to be genuinely happy to have her around, but Hux ignores her like he has since the very second they were introduced, and Ben… Ben noticeably averts his gaze the moment Rey begins to take off the bathrobe, and doesn’t look up until she’s in the water up to her collarbones. Even then, it’s short, furtive glances that don’t quite seem to know where to land, as Ben continues arguing with Hux over who knows what.

“It’s actually way better than 4—”

“Please.”

“The map is more post-apocalyptic, and the leveling is more interesting than the perk system—” Ben snorts, but Hux ignores him and continues, “—and the crafting is far superior.”

“Doesn't matter, since the story is so weak.”

“It doesn’t need a strong story, because—”

“Wait,” Rey interjects. “Are you guys talking about Fallout 76?”

Hux and Ben turn to look at her. “Yes,” Hux tells her, his British accent clipped and bored. “Ben wouldn’t know a good game if it bit him in the arse.”

Rey laughs in his face. “Are you kidding me? Fallout’s a nightmare. It has no story, no npc, no VATS.”

“Buggy as hell,” Ben adds, looking mildly disgusted.

“Oh God, yes. Why did they rush it out? It’s unfixable at this point.”

“The multiplayer is not that good either.”

“Right—everyone’s so spread out? I’ve been shot, maybe once?”

“Me, zero times. And it’s dull, no dialogue interactions to manipulate—”

“—right, you’re just wandering around, with no consequences to your actions—”

Hux stands abruptly, splashing everyone in the tub with hot water. “I’m going to bed,” he says crisply, looking between Rey and Ben with narrowed eyes. “And you two are idiots.”

He gets out of the tub with a surprising amount of grace, and Rey is marveling at how skinny and pink he is when Poe stands, too—though a little less aggressively.

“Um—I’m gonna go, too. It’s getting late and all that, so…”

He’s gone, all but running after Hux, before Rey can wish him goodnight.

“Is Hux mad?” she asks Ben, thinking about the number of projects they are currently collaborating on. Hux has been with the company far longer than Rey, and he can make her life very, very unpleasant if he cares to.

“Nah.” Ben waves his hand. “Maybe. But don’t worry, we argue over games about once a week. His grudges aren’t very long-lasting.”

“Oh.” It doesn’t sound like Hux, but okay.

“He'd probably been masterminding an excuse to get some time alone with Poe for a while. Without letting Poe know.”

Rey chuckles. “You think so?”

“Maybe." Ben shrugs. "Wouldn’t put it past him.”

“So—do you think he’s into Poe?”

“What do you mean?” Ben tilts his head.

“I don’t know—I always had the feeling that Poe’s… infatuation was a bit one-sided.”

“Are you kidding me? Hux’s obsessed. He made me read the poetry he wrote about Poe’s calves.” Ben is wincing. Visibly. “And he’s trying to learn Spanish to make an impression. He’s being tutored by a sixteen-year-old who insists on calling him Armie and forces him to sing the number song once a day.”

“Oh my God.” Rey laughs into her palm, considering the absurdity of Poe pining over Hux like it’s an Olympic sport without having any idea that his feelings are reciprocated. Why doesn’t Hux just tell him? she almost asks—but it occurs to her that she had the same exact conversation with Ben twenty-four hours ago, about something that hits much closer to home, and a sudden uneasiness sweeps over her. It’s made worse by the situation they’re in—by the awareness that now, with Hux and Poe gone, there are fifty percent fewer people in this hot tub, and Ben and Rey no longer need to be this close. She should probably scoot over until she’s sitting across from him—but she’s afraid that it might seem like a rejection of sorts, and for some reason the idea feels… wrong.

Still. This whole business is a little uncomfortable, the air thick with steam and awkwardness, and Rey clears her throat as she tries to come up with something to fill the silence.

“So.” She bites the inside of her cheek. “Um, what other games do you play?”  

Ben looks away, to the white tops of the pine trees. “Pretty much all of them, at one point or another.”

That’s not very helpful. “I just finished No Man's Sky,” Rey offers.

Ben nods. “That’s a good one.”

“And Red Dead Redemption, of course—I know you’re still working on it.”

“Right. My current reason to live.”

Rey chuckles. “Yeah—mine too, for a while. Mmm, what else? This year I got really into Bloodborne for a while.”

“That’s a masterpiece.”

“Right? And Uncharted. And Persona—” She notices they way he’s cringing. “What?” she asks defensively. “Persona’s good.”

“It has a high school setting,” Ben tells her flatly—like she doesn’t know. Like it’s a bad thing.

“Right. Which makes it excellent.”

“Oh, no. It makes it awful. The whole storyline feels like a soap opera, and the world-building is so dull—”

Rey stands on her feet, and immediately begins to shiver in the cold. “I am going to bed,” she proclaims haughtily, doing her best Hux impression. “And you—” she points at Ben “—are an idiot.”

He chuckles, shaking his head. “Come back in.” His hand comes up to her wrist and tugs at her. “You’re one giant goosebump.”

She is not quite sure what goes on, after that. Ben’s not pulling at her arm very forcefully, which means that maybe what happens is just that the heat makes her head fuzzy, or she slips on the smooth floor of the tub and loses her balance. Could happen to anyone, has happened to Rey a million times before, and—there’s nothing weird, or bad about that. At least, nothing except for the spot where she lands.

It’s not an embrace. It’s just—she’s draped awkwardly over him, one arm around his neck and the other holding his shoulder for balance, and any other time she’d think that her right breast pushing against his naked chest is unfortunate, but the fact of the matter is that she has a more urgent problem.

An unmistakably urgent problem, right where her ass is pressing into his lap.

“I’m sorry,” she tells him instantly, and begins to push away from him. “I think I lost my—”

Except that, no. Because moving away means that the flesh of her buttocks is dragging against Ben’s front, and what is happening is just—unequivocal. Rey cannot miss it, his erection, and Ben must know that Rey cannot miss it, because—because—because….

It’s huge. Ben is... he’s just...

Huge.

“I…” Rey starts, and finds that she can think of absolutely nothing to say. She settles for repeating, “I…”

Ben’s eyes close, and—they just don’t open. Not for a long time. They stay closed as his cheeks color, as he takes a deep breath, as he tells her, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

His hand, Rey realizes, is supporting her lower back. It’s clear that he’s making an effort to remain completely immobile—and failing. He’s vibrating tightly with some sort of tension that Rey…

Maybe a few days ago she would have mistaken it for hatred. Now… now she knows better. It doesn’t mean anything—being this close to him, it’s still a terrible idea. Ben has been an utter jerk to her until hours ago. She should really move away.

And yet.

And yet, they are barely touching, and Rey can’t remember the last time she was this turned on.

“So.” Her voice comes out breathy, more so than she’s ever heard it. “You do like me.”

Ben’s eyes close tighter. “Rey. You have no idea.”

She doesn’t know what she’s doing. It’s the only possible explanation for the way she’s wiggling her ass in his lap. He is—big. Gigantic. And when he feels her move, his lips part to let out a gasp.

“How long?” Rey asks, unable to help herself.

He finally opens his eyes. “Mm?” He is not breathing like people usually do when they’re sitting still.

“How long have you… me. How long?”

“Forever.” He leans forward, and his mouth comes to rest on her collarbone. Not a kiss, but she can feel it—the softness of his lips as he speaks against her skin. “Since the very beginning. Rey, you might want to… step back.”

Oh. “Oh.”

“Because—I don’t...”

Right. Except that he does. He does a lot, and—this is the hottest thing that has happened to her. Bar none.

“It’s okay.” She settles more comfortably on him, and she thinks she can feel his cock twitching. His expression, the way his eyes widen and then almost roll back in his head—it’s out of this world. “I don’t mind.”

Ben’s hand tightens involuntarily on her lower back. “You… don’t?”

Rey can’t remember the last time she felt like this. The last time someone looked at her this way.

Never. No one ever has.

“No. No, I—”

The noise of the glass door opening is so loud, it startles both of them. Rey’s not sure who breaks apart first, but the result is the same: one second there is no space between them, and the following there’s a great deal of it. Rey and Ben turn at the same time, finding Poe wave at them from the deck entrance.

“I forgot my towel,” he says, looking slightly dejected. Rey tries to calm the pounding of her heart, wondering if something happened between him and with Hux. And then—then she wonders what would have happened between Ben and her, if Poe hadn’t— “Are you guys going to bed, too?”

No, Rey screams inside her head. There’s still heat coiling inside her, pulsating sweetly at the base of the tummy. No, we’re staying here and finishing this, and—

“We were about to,” Ben says, lifting himself out of the tub. The way the water trickles down his chest and thighs—it’s definitely not helping things. Until three days ago she had never thought of the way Ben Solo looked, but now she knows for sure that she has never, ever seen someone this attractive in her entire life. Likely never will. “Here.” He holds Rey’s bathrobe out to her, but doesn’t meet her eyes.

“Thanks.” Look at me. Just—look at me. We can continue this upstairs. We can talk about it. We can—

Ben nods, walking towards the glass door. “I’m gonna go to the kitchen to get some water—I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

What? Where are you—

“Goodnight,” Poe tells him, wandering closer to Rey and waiting for Ben to be out of earshot before adding, “Hey, sorry for leaving you guys alone. I know you’re not a fan.”

“No. No, it was…”

“He wasn’t an ass, was he?”

Rey shakes her head, closing the lapels of her robe as she feels the cold seep inside her once more.

“No. No, he wasn’t.”

 

Chapter Text

 

You make me so happy, it turns back to sad

There's nothing I hate more than what I can't have

You are so gorgeous it makes me so mad

 


 

The first thing she tells him, right after he opens the door and she slips inside—yet again uninvited—is:

“Thank you for the gloves.”

It is, admittedly, an odd thing to say to someone at four AM—especially after knocking on their door at an increasingly loud volume for several minutes, with the obvious intent to wake them up. Except that it’s instantly evident that Ben wasn’t sleeping. Sure, he is wearing green plaid pajama pants that just happen to match Rey’s, and a faded black Minecraft t-shirt that’s clearly a favorite, but the soft light of the bedside lamp is on, and there is a book open face down on the bedspread.

“Rey?” He blinks twice. Once more. “What are you—”

“Not that it erases years of you being an utter ass to me.” Rey pushes the door closed behind her and pads to the bed, sitting next to one of the posts with her hands stuffed under her thighs. “Or the fact that the rest of your team has been, too. But. It was nice of you. The gloves, I mean.”

Ben shakes his head as if trying to clear it. His hair, his glorious black hair, looks a bit wilder than usual—like he has been running his fingers through it. “I know it doesn’t.” He scratches his jaw, and Rey has the distinct impression that he has no clue what to do with his hands. “What are you doing here, Rey?”

What a good question. An excellent question. Rey asked herself the exact same thing as she tried to talk herself out of coming here, and then as she got out of bed with a sigh and put on a long sleeved t-shirt to stave off the cold of the landing, and then again while she knocked on Ben’s door, over and over and over.  

“Nothing. I just… I thought maybe we could…” continue. With what we were doing in the hot tub a couple of hours ago. Because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, and I’m going crazy, just from the knowledge that you’re in the next room over. “Talk.”

“… Talk?”

Rey nods. “Talk.”

“About… what?” Ben looks wary. And he also looks…. far away from her. Like he’s trying to keep his distance, in more ways than one.

“I don’t know. We could talk about a lot of things. We could bash Fallout 76 a little more, or you could recite to me some of Hux’s poetry, or you could tell me about how to become a team leader—I think I want to be one, eventually. Or we could chat about that book you are reading, or... the weather is always always a favorite, at least in England.” Rey’s hand comes up to fidget with the tips of her hair. She should get it cut soon, but it was a good idea, leaving it down. Gives her something to do. “Or we could talk about what happened earlier today.”

Ben swallows and runs his palm down his face. His answer is a long time coming.

“It was technically yesterday,” he mutters.

Rey huffs out a laugh. “Right. True.”

“I…” He pinches the bridge of his nose, looking apologetic and defeated. “I was way out of line.”

“No, I—”

“It’s just—when you’re around, it’s… It has been a problem. The things that I…” Ben takes a deep breath. “You were so close, and I just—”

“I don’t mind,” Rey hastens to push in. Ben looks at her like he couldn’t possibly believe her, and she nods forcefully. “For real. I really don’t. It’s kind of…” flattering, she almost says. But she thinks it might be construed in the wrong way. She’s not here, in this room, because someone wants her. She’s here because that someone is Ben. Because he… God, he’s clearly a mess. But such an interesting mess. Now that she’s noticed him, Rey can’t look away. “It’s fine.”

“Is it.” He doesn’t seem convinced, so Rey rises from the bed and walks closer to him, until they’re standing in front of each other.

“Yes. I don’t mind it.” She is barefoot, and—he is so tall, so big, she can feel the heat he produces even when they’re not touching. Rey bites into her lower lip and forces herself to say it. She’s not usually this bold, but—here goes. “I might even… welcome it.”

He looks lost for a long moment—frowning like he has no idea how to decode what she just said, the implications of it. Rey can tell the exact second he realizes, from the way his lips part and his cheeks redden, his mouth moving to form words even though no sound comes out.

“Rey…” His voice is raspy.

“Yes?” she asks, stepping a little closer.  

“I… “ He looks as taut as a bowstring. He looks overwhelmed and conflicted. He looks like his brain is about to explode. “Rey, if you want to get laid, I’m not the person for it.”

Really? Because it feels like that might not be true.

“Why?”

He exhales a laugh. “Because… reasons.”

“What reasons?”

“I…” He scratches the side of his neck. “I’d be no good at it, for one.”

“Oh.” Rey steps into him, and now—they are actually touching. Just barely, mostly their clothes, but—it feels like almost enough. “I doubt it.”

Ben shakes his head, but he doesn’t move back, nor does he take his eyes off her. “You shouldn’t.”

“Have you had…” Rey lifts her hand to his shoulder, feeling the warmth of his skin through the thin cotton. It’s… lovely. “Um. Negative feedback? From other girls?”

Ben tucks his chin into his chest, as if embarrassed by something—and then, after a deep breath, holds her eyes again, as if determined to own this something.

“There were no other girls.”

Rey freezes, sure that she must have misunderstood. “No… girls? As in, no…” Ben shakes his head, and the crimson seems to reach his throat. Holy— “Are you… Are you very religious? Or saving yourself for marriage? Or ill, or—”

“No. No, nothing like that.”

Rey can’t quite believe it. This. All of this. “Why, then?”

“Just… I was never interested in anyone. And then… ” His shoulder raises slightly under Rey’s hand, reminding her that she is still touching him. Ben Solo. Who has never… yeah. “Then, I was.”

His eyes are locked with hers, and something warm and full blooms into Rey’s chest. Without quite realizing it, she has moved her hand from his shoulder to his face; she cups his cheek, soft and freshly shaven, and watches as his throat bobs.

“You said you liked me, though.”

His lips curve into a small, sad smile. “I don’t just like you, Rey.” He wraps his fingers around her wrist, but doesn’t push her away. Just holds her there as time stretches between them, sweet and uncertain.

“This… do you like this?”

He nods, and so does Rey.

“Okay, then. I don’t… I don’t know you very well. And you were not at your best with me, for a long while. But maybe we could… hang out together for the next few days, and see whether there is…” Rey smiles and bites into her lip. “Whether there is something, here.”

Ben says nothing for a moment, studying her with clear, limpid eyes. Then the corner of his mouth twitches upwards, and he nuzzles his cheek against Rey’s hand. “I won’t be any good,” he repeats, his words laced with self-deprecation and humor and something that sounds a lot like eagerness.

Rey pushes on her toes and smiles against his lips. “Don’t worry. We have a couple of days to practice.”

 

 

They make out like teenagers.

Not that Rey would even know what that is—she has never made out as a teenager, or with a teenager—but the description just sounds right. It’s because for hours not a single stitch of clothing comes off, and every time Ben’s hands come anywhere close to the waist of her pants, they seem to change their mind and retreat twice as fast as they got there.

It should be boring. It should feel childish and ridiculous and maybe a little pointless, but all it does for Rey is blow her mind right out of her skull. The way he groans when his tongue first meets hers, and the bruising grip of his hands on her hips as she licks a soft spot on his throat; that sharp intake of breath once he finds the courage to rub his palm against her breast, her nipples hard and pointy through the soft cloth. And then there’s the trembling in his fingers as he runs them through her hair, how he bows off the bed after she bites his earlobe, but most of all it’s the things he tells her. Or the things he wants to say, but never quite manages to get out.

”You’re so—“ as Rey straddles his waist and leans over him.

“I used to dream that you…” when she lets her fingers slide up and down the fine hair underneath his bellybutton.

And: “I’m going to—we have to slow down, or I’m going to—” mere seconds after Rey starts rocking on top of him, the friction of his cock against her cunt the closest she has ever come to a religious experience. Rey’s clit pulses as she hears that one, and this—this is nothing. They have done nothing. Sticky fumbling, nothing but, and it’s already the best sex of her entire life, equally frustrating and delicious in a way that has her soak through her cotton underwear and try to get closer, closer, get Ben to live under her skin to fill this new sense of hollowness inside her.

“Is this okay?” she asks him a few times, pressing kisses on his soft mouth and trying to lean back to look into his eyes. Ben just forcefully pulls her back to him, and Rey’s head feels warm and buoyant, filled with sharp pleasure and heat.

It lasts until the night dies out and the dawn breaks, and it only stops when Ben hears the sound of her stomach grumbling. He is bent over her but he lifts his head, and his lips are so red and puffy that Rey cannot help but follow and swipe across them with her tongue.

“I’ll go downstairs. Bring back some breakfast,” he tells her, voice low and husky.

“No, stay.”

“I’ll be just a second.”

Rey sighs, closing her eyes. “I can come with you, if—”

Ben shakes his head. “Stay, please. I like knowing that you’re in my…”

He clears his throat and sits on the edge of the bed, facing away from her. Rey stares at his back from the pillow, marveling at how broad he is—though by now, after experiencing firsthand how much she had to spread open her legs to sit astride him, she probably should know better.

He remains still for a long moment, and as Rey studies him, she realizes that his muscles are stiff and rigid, vibrating with an odd type of tension.

Rey sits up right behind him. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I—” His deltoid is rock hard under her hand. “It’s… You should step back for moment,” he tells her, though it sounds a bit like a plea, and that’s when she realizes that—

“Oh.“ Oh. Indeed, oh. “Are you…” She is not certain what to ask. “Can I do anything?”

He shakes his head. “I just need a minute.”

Rey should give him space. Since he asked her for it. Since he’s clearly trying to get himself under control. She really isn’t certain what drives her to hug him from behind and lay her chin on his shoulder. She truly doesn’t know.

“Maybe that’s not what you need,” she whispers in his ear. Her breasts are pressing against his back, and she can feel all his muscles tighten at once. Exponentially.

“Rey—”

“Maybe…” Her mouth is dry, and Rey has to swallow. “Maybe, what you need is to get off.”

The way he exhales, sharply, like the prospect of coming—of Rey, of Rey making him come—just punched the air out of his lungs, it might be the most erotic moment of her entire life. And that is before she asks against his temple, “Would you like that, Ben?” and he makes that sound—that shapeless, breathless sound that makes her cunt clench around nothing.

He is shivering, she thinks. Or maybe he wasn’t and only begins when her palm traces the tent in his pants, jutting out at an impressive angle. It’s already wet with precome, and Rey can’t help but run her teeth up and down the column of his throat as she slides her hand inside the opening.

He is, of course, not wearing anything underneath. How interesting. How convenient. How very… perfect.

“Is this okay?” she asks with a kiss on his cheek, and Ben doesn’t answer or nod, but he arches against her hand just enough that the please, please continue doesn’t need to be spoken out loud. Rey’s own past sexual experiences have been so lacking and infrequent that her knowledge barely exceeds Ben’s. Still, it’s hard not to feel like a sex goddess at the moment, with the way his eyes are trained on her fist around his cock, his fingers almost ripping the sheet from the mattress.

“Does it feel good, Ben?” Rey begins to pump, up and down in slow, steady pulls. His cock is—very simply put, just as gloriously large as it felt when pressed against her, and Rey wonders if Ben is even aware of it. Of how big he is. How much space he takes up in her hand and in her head, already. She should really use two hands, that’s how long he his. As for the fact that her grip can’t quite reach around—nothing to be done about that. “Is this how you like it?”

Ben groans. “Rey.” His head falls back, and she lets her lips graze the cut of his jaw.

“You can tell me.” Her hand continues to move, down to his tight sac and then up to the shaft again, and it feels as if pleasure is leaking out of him. His cock, his throat, his spine. “Is this how you do it when you’re alone? When you do it to yourself?”

“Fuck—Rey.” His hips jerks upwards, straining to meet her palm.

“You can tell me,” she repeats, twisting her wrist. Ben grunts and goes rigid, arching even more into her. “How you prefer it. And I’ll do it. I just want to make you—”

He is almost silent, when he comes. He stops breathing for a moment, right before pushing through and going off all over her hand and his flat stomach, and Rey—she didn’t quite know she would like it so much. Watching him gasp for air, feeling the surprise in the way he reaches for her leg, as if to anchor himself. Seeing him mouth her name, awed and soundless.

She could, she thinks, have her own orgasm just by staring at his. Absorb it into herself.

“Good?” she asks with a soft smile, and Ben—she didn’t know he could look so lost.

“I…” His throat bobs, and he nods with a small, jerky movement.

Rey makes to wipe her palm over her pants, but he surprises her by grabbing her wrist and knitting their fingers together, and then bending his head as if to stare at a masterpiece he’s woven. It’s the sweetest, filthiest of hand-holds.

Her other arm comes up to wrap around his collarbone, and they stay like that for a long time, watching the snow that has begun to fall once more.

 

Chapter Text

 

Ocean blue eyes looking in mine

I feel like I might sink and drown and die

 


 

He sits in the chair by the window and watches her dig into the plates he carried upstairs while slowly making his way through a green apple. Rey settles more comfortably against the pillows and smiles into her toast, figuring that Ben would so be the type to go for the sourest piece of fruit at the buffet table.

“Triathlon prep diet?” she asks after swallowing a mouthful of eggs, and Ben is confused until Rey points at his apple.

“Oh. No, I just…” He shrugs. “I wasn’t very hungry.”

Rey nods, even though she can’t really relate. “Did you really do all those Ironmans?”

He puts his half-eaten apple on the table, letting it dangle from its stalk. “A few,” he says, his tone relaxed.

“Are they hard to prep for?”

He thinks about it. “Sometimes. Some parts are harder than others. Some races are harder than others.”  

Rey nods. He doesn't seem much interested in talking about it. “Well.” She grins at him. “In case you’re silently judging me for the amount of saturated fatty acids I’m packing, thank you for not saying it out loud and letting me enjoy my—”

“I’m not.” He actually sounds surprised. Like he couldn’t possibly care less about what she eats.

“Okay.” She chuckles. “I know how you athletic types are, and I’m not exactly a health nut, so—”

“You’re perfect.” He sounds so serious and earnest, Rey can’t quite hold his gaze anymore.

“I’m going to…” She clears her throat. “I’m probably going to have to nap at some point today. I don’t do very well on no sleep at all.”

“Me neither.” Ben picks up his apple again. “You can nap here.”

Rey bites her lip and smiles, turning to the window.

“Is it going to stop, you think? The snow?”

“I’m not sure. I met Poe downstairs, he said that it might go on for a while.”

“Mmm.” It’s as if overnight a huge, white blanket was laid on the lodge and the surrounding woods. The dark green of the pine trees is dulled, wrapped in thick sheets of snow. “What if we get snowed in?”

Ben shrugs, and the corner of his mouth twitches upwards.

It wouldn’t be all that bad, Rey thinks, smiling back at him.

 

 

Once he has her naked and standing between his open legs, he just stares at her. For… forever.

He sits on the bed and takes her in, his gaze dark and glassy as it roams over every slope and flatland. Growing up, Rey was too busy… surviving, to ever develop any self-consciousness about her body. Still, she’s convinced that the way Ben’s eyes are riveted on her would be enough to make even a Victoria’s Secret model uneasy.

“I know my ribs stick out,” she says, a little defensive, a little jokingly. “And I have no boobs or hips—though that actually comes in handy when I have to buy clothes, because there is always at least one piece left in my size by the time sales come around, and—”

His thumb comes up to press on her lips, and his expression has a pleading, desperate quality to it. It’s how Rey realizes that it’s not that he doesn’t know what to say because he finds her lacking. It’s that—

It’s simply that he can’t talk.

“Anyway.” Her lips curve, and she bites playfully into the fleshy part of his thumb. “This is me.”

Ben leans forward, pressing a kiss into her sternum. “Yesterday, when you walked on the deck and took off your robe…”

He doesn’t continue. Just wraps both hands around her waist until his fingers meet, making her breath catch and her cunt wet.

He starts from her breasts, which—Rey wonders if he might actually have a thing for them, judging from the way he licks a nipple into his mouth and suckles lightly onto the side, and—he is good, at this. Somehow he’s as good at this as he is at being an engineer, and even when she thought that he hated her and that she would always hate him back, she still couldn’t deny how good he was at his job. She combs her fingers through his hair, leans into him, and tries to keep the sounds coming from her throat down to a dignified volume.

She doesn’t quite succeed.

“What can I do?” he husks as she finally wriggles out of his grip to peel his shirt off. “To you.”

She tugs at his sleeve. “Off. Take this—off—“

He is so big, so massive, she doesn’t know where to rest her eyes. The spot where the muscles in his shoulder meet his neck, the curve of his bicep, the sharp vee that frames his stomach and disappears into his jeans. Which should be off, too, so she pulls him on the bed with her, her fingers flying to his his belt as he takes her face into his hand.

“You taste like maple syrup” he tells her, kissing her like he has already memorized every corner of her. Rey’d ask whether he likes it, but the way he’s sucking her lips is answer enough. “What can I do?” he asks again, and Rey—

“What do you want to do?”

Ben leans back, his Adam’s apple visibly moving. “You have no idea, Rey.” He looks apologetic and embarrassed and… hopeful. “The things I’ve been thinking about.”

Rey can’t help but smile. She takes his hand between hers, and brings his palm to her mouth. “Why don’t you show me.”

 

 

He groans before saying, “I hoped you’d be wet,” and isn’t that interesting to hear, considering how mortified she was until a moment ago. About her state.

Drenched would be a more apt description. Soaked.

Though it’s possible that it’s okay. Since Ben just groans again and runs his palms up her thighs, to her butt, pushing her down to meet his mouth as he licks up into her. Rey leans back to hold onto one of the posts, trying to find balance on her knees.   

“Have you—ah… have you done this before?” she asks, even though she already knows the answer. He has made it clear, that whatever experience he’s had prior to Rey barely involved kissing. There is simply no way he’s had a girl kneel on his face, before. Which makes the way his tongue works against her cunt simply… unreal.

“No,” he says, and when he shakes his head his lips and nose brush against her folds, making her shiver. He moans before licking carefully around her hole. “But I… imagined it.” Rey wants to know more. She wants to know if he’s watched porn of this, if it’s the act that fascinates him or the idea of doing it with her, if it’s living up to his expectations. But then he says, “And I always hoped you’d be this wet,” and her mind snaps blank for a minute.

He is… good. No—he’s talented. Effortless. He licks her bare cunt like it’s a mission he’s on, single-minded and dedicated, with just the right amount of pressure and suction. Rey feels like her nerve endings might be about to go insane. She feels addled, dizzy with the pleasure of it.

“This is better than I thought,” he says, hoarse and a little incredulous, and it’s like a fist wrapping around her lower belly, when he takes her stiff, swollen clit between his lips.

She just—doesn’t want to come. Not yet. Not when there’s more of this to have. To do.

“Can you—can you give me a minute to…” Rey looks down, to the jeans that she never managed to take off of him. His erection looks so hard against the fly, it has to be painful. She takes a moment to balance herself, and then leans forward, her palms coming to rest on each side of his hips. Once she’s stable, she takes his cock out, the catch of the zipper mixing with the wet sounds of his mouth.

“You don’t have to—” he starts, but Rey’s fast and sloppy with pleasure, taking him out and not even thinking it through before lowering herself to him. Just by having him in her mouth, the pleasure at the bottom of her stomach tightens and deepens. She rocks against his face and takes him deeper in her throat. “Shit, Rey. Shit.”

When they come at the same time, it sends her straight into outer space.

 

 

She showers in his room.

There is no excuse for it—Rey’s is less than ten feet away, with her towels and her shampoo and her body wash and her clean clothes. There’s even the phone she hasn’t checked in over twelve hours, a first in her adult life. Showering in her own bathroom would be the sensible, convenient thing to do.

Though maybe her excuse is simply that Ben takes her hand and asks her not to go. “Not yet,” he says, calm and unknotted like she’s never seen him, his hand cupping the back of her head, and Rey doesn’t even need to say yes. She just relaxes into him and lets him lead her to his shower to wash every nook and cranny of her, lingering and thorough and oddly familiar, like this is one time of many and not the first.

Ben is hard throughout, but when Rey offers to do something about it—“We could… If you want to, you could…”—he just shakes his head, and bends down to lick the water from her skin. He laughs quietly when she tries to return the favor and wash his hair—she can’t quite reach and he has to pick her up, his hands under her ass as she wraps her legs around his waist like he’s the sturdiest of tree branches.

They kiss. Endlessly. They kiss until the skin of her fingers is pink and wrinkly, and Ben’s cock gets even harder, his heartbeat even faster. Eventually, Rey takes pity on him and brings him off with slow, lazy pulls, licking the protest away from his lips until a shiver runs through his spine and come mixes with soap suds in the shower drain.

He towels her off and gently retaliates, his fingers clumsy and fumbling and—so deliciously thick and eager, Rey’s mind whites out as her body blossoms with sweet, clinging pleasure that has her forget herself for long moments.

This, she thinks while attempting to catch her breath, her hand running through Ben’s damp hair as he nibbles idly on her hip bone, is not at all how I thought this vacation would go.

 

 

“Do it like… your three buns.”

Rey pauses in the middle of pulling up her hair and looks at Ben from over her shoulder. He is lying against the headboard, not even pretending to do anything beside stare at her. It should be creepy, but it just makes her feel… warm.

“Why?”

“Because I like them.”

Rey laughs. A little bitterly, perhaps. “You do not.”

“I do.”

“You most certainly do not.” She shakes her head and turns back to the mirror. “You’ve made fun of them, and of that complicated braid I do sometimes that actually takes a ton of time. And I once overheard you tell Roman that my favorite dress makes me look like puked cotton candy, so—”  

“It doesn’t.”

Rey turns around, leaning against the dresser.

“You said that—”

“I know what I said.” He presses his lips together. “It doesn’t mean I think it.”

“Maybe not now.” She crosses her arms over her chest. “But back then—”

“Back then, I thought that your pink dress was lovely, if a little…” Ben looks down, at his open hands. “…A little tighter than what you usually wear. It made me…” He swallows. “Things happened, when you wore it.” Rey has no idea how to reply to that—which is just as well, since Ben continues with: “And your buns, and your braids, they were just so… so you. And I….” He falls silent.

“And you made fun of them,” she finishes.

He nods. “I’m sorry.”

Rey thinks about it for a moment, and then shrugs. “It’s okay. I am not much for holding grudges, anyway. Life’s short and all that.” There are damp strands of hair curling over her arm. She’ll have to put it up, or blow-dry it. It’s too chilly to leave it like this. “I’m not mad. But I also don’t get it.” Ben just looks at her silently, waiting for her to continue. “You didn’t have to… You still could have been polite. Or distant. You could have just ignored me.”

“Rey. I couldn’t. You…” Ben shuts his eyes tight. “You were always in my head. And I could never get you out.”

It seems impossible. And nonsensical. And it makes her heart beat twice as fast. “You could have told me.”

Ben opens his eyes. “Told you?”

“That you…” Rey gestures vaguely between them. “You know.”

He sighs. “I just…” He shakes his head. “Yes. I could have. But people don’t talk about the things they feel, where I come from.”

And where is that? she doesn’t ask. The thing is, Rey understands this. Him. Wanting something hard enough to hate it. Wanting and not having, it can get unbearable, and very quickly so.

“You can, though. Talk to me.” She forces herself to smile at Ben, and—it comes easier than expected. “I promise I don’t bite.”

Ben smiles back at her. Just a little. “You could rip me to shreds, Rey.”

 

 

He needs to stop staring at her like that, or people are going to figure it out. Which—it’s not like Rey cares what others think, not habitually, but this thing with Ben… It feels like something better kept close to the vest. Mostly because there might be no secret to keep, after all—just a few hours of fooling around and talking video games; taking a nap with him curled around her, finally warm for the first time since winter began; seeing him smile sleepily at her when they woke up; sharing bodily fluids.

So. Ben should focus on his salad, or on the conversation that Bazine and Phasma are trying to rope him into. Anything but stare at Rey, because when she feels his eyes on her she simply can’t help but… stare back.

“We might get stuck here,” Poe is saying, squirting ketchup on his fries. “If it doesn’t stop snowing? Not sure what’s gonna happen. The weather forecast has been kind of hit or miss.”

They are scheduled to leave the lodge tomorrow night, and normally Rey would balk at the prospect of being kept from her cat and the quiet of her apartment for a few more days, but this time…

She risks a glance at Ben, who is… still staring at her.

Yep.

Oh, well. They exchange a small, private smile, and Rey—maybe it’s fine. Maybe no one cares.

“What time were we supposed to leave?” Tallie pours some more wine into her glass.

“Around five or six pm. If the roads are accessible,” Poe repeats. “We’re kind of snowed in, as of right now.”

“So.” Kaydel claps her hands together. “Tonight may not be our last night here. But it also may.”

“Correct.”

“We need to figure out something extra fun, then.”

Rey scratches the tip of her nose, and the smell of Ben is suddenly there, all around her. It’s delicious. Maybe, after they get back in town, she’ll go to the grocery store and stock up on his brand of body wash.

“Oooh.” Rose leans forward. “How about we do another movie marathon.”

“Veto on anything Transformers.”

“Oh, man,” Finn leans back against his chair, pouting like a five year old.

“It’s for the best.” Rose pats his back. “I think I saw the Indiana Jones DVDs.”

“Oh—good one.”

“I haven’t seen Temple of Doom in years.”

“Okay, but we’re not watching Crystal Skull, right?”

“God, no.”

“Still better than Transformers.”

“Oh, shut up.”

“Listen—not all Transformers movies are created equal—”

“Rey.” Tallie steals a fry from Poe’s plate. “You okay with Indiana Jones?”

“Oh.” She smiles, sliding her chair back a few inches and standing up. “No. I’m actually… tired. I think I’m going to bed early today.”

Finn frowns up at her. “You’ve been in bed all day. Are you sick?”

“Nope.” She picks up her empty plate and fork. “Just catching up on sleep.”

“How many hours can you possibly sleep in a day?”

Rey bites the inside of her cheek.“I guess we’ll see?”

“I get it, though,” Snap says through a mouthful of focaccia. “The mattresses here are so fucking comfortable.”

“What—no! They’re way too soft. It’s scoliosis waiting to happen…”

Rey walks away from the table as the argument heats up, disposing of her dirty plate and grabbing a bottle of mango juice to take upstairs. Behind her, Hux is standing by Ben’s chair.

“I’m willing to forget what you said about Fallout and play Red Dead Redemption with you,” she overhears him say. His upper lip is curling. “Even though you’re wrong.”

When Rey turns around and heads for her room, her gaze meet Ben’s. There is a glint in it—one that she’s recently come to recognize.

“No, thanks,” she hears him reply, right before before stepping out of earshot.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Guess I'll just stumble on home to my cats...

Alone.

Unless you wanna come along?

 


 

It hurts a little, but it’s not Ben’s fault.

Or maybe it is, but there isn’t much he could have done about it. He has licked her until she was pink and raw, stretched her open with his fingers, and even waited for long moments before sliding inside, rocking against her folds while holding himself on top of her with trembling arms. Rey’s the one who whispered, “Let me get you started,” right in his ear, and wrapped her legs around his hips to force him to come deep.

Ben did what he could. He’s just—big.

“It’s okay,” she says, a little out of breath, because she can tell that he’s about to ask. He looks worried and feverish and a little wild, so she presses a kiss into the steep line of his jaw, then another, and repeats, “I’m okay.”

“Good,” he says, though it sounds airy, like he’s mostly exhaling. “Good.” And then he attempts a thrust—just pulls back less than an inch, pushing in to the hilt again, and—maybe she is not okay after all.

“Wait—I…” Rey arches, trying to make more room inside, afraid she’ll burst at the seams. She has never been so full—never. No one has been, she’s certain.

“Do you want me to pull out?” His voice is strained, and he looks—like it costs him, to offer, and a lot.

Impossibly, it makes Rey smile. “Is that an option?”

“I—”

“Here.” She pushes at his shoulder, sweat-slick and rock-hard. “Let me be on top.”

It doesn’t solve the problem of how big he is, but at least she can control the depth and angle of him. It takes Ben a second to adjust—first he pushes her legs apart until he can see the shiny folds of her cunt open around him, his fingers tightening against her thighs as he groans a noise that sounds as if it could have come from an animal; but then, when she leans forward to kiss him sweetly on mouth, he seems to quiet down, his muscles losing some that vibrating tension.

“Is this okay? This position?”

He nods without opening his eyes. His hands slide up to her waist, her ribcage, and then move down to grip the flesh of her ass. They’re bruising. “Yes,” he husks out. “I… whatever you want. I might…” His jaw is clenched. “It might not last very long. This time. Or the next. But maybe the following, if you still want to…”

“It’s okay.” He is so deep, she can almost taste him. And maybe—maybe she’s getting used to him. Just about. “You can come, if you need to.”

Ben scrunches his eyes shut. The muscles in his stomach ripple, tight and restless. “Tell me what you want,” he says. “And I’ll—oh, Fuck.

She thinks that maybe he wasn’t ready, for her to start moving. But she barely is—just rolling her hips to test the waters, see what hurts (very little) and what’s good (a whole lot). It’s just that there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of him rubbing on every spot of her, and it’s just delicious. He’s immense, stretching her to what has to be her limit—though perhaps it’s even a bit past that. Rey balances herself on his chest, feeling his heart beating a drum against her palm, and begins to push up and down a little more, feeling the pleasure pulse at the base of her tummy.

“Like this?”

He doesn’t answer. Or—actually he does, but in murmurs, incoherent things, things like please, be still, don’t move, you’re so little, I’m going to—oh, oh, oh. Fuck. It gets worse when Rey clenches around him, on purpose, just to see where she can go, and finds that there is no extra room inside her. Nothing at all. But it has the effect of making Ben grunt and then lose it. His control snaps in two as he rolls them around and begins to thrust for real this time, long movements that drag against all of her nerve endings and make her clit swell in rhythmic waves.

“You,” he breathes against her mouth, and the way his stomach rubs against hers, damp with sweat, his scent, the burning feeling that crawls in her abdomen—it’s a lot. It’s so much. It’s endless. “You are everything I’ve ever—”

Rey comes like an avalanche, a wash of blinding pleasure as her body clenches rhythmically around his cock, whimpering her orgasm into the skin of his collarbone. Ben must come, too—his fingers tighten around her hips and he is babbling and groaning and grinding desperately against her, as if to fuse his body with her own.

The space between them is sticky and wet with seed and sweat, and something that could be her tears. Rey is never, ever going to clean up.

The last thing she can hear before she falls asleep atop Ben, two of his fingers pressed inside her, is the beat of his heart still pounding in his chest.

 

 

“Are you hungry?”

Rey yawns into the curve of his throat. “No. Not really.”

“Tell me if you are.” He nuzzles the crown of her hair with his nose. He is, quite frankly, the most comfortable mattress in the universe. And this is the most comfortable Rey has ever been, she is pretty sure.

“Okay.” He is just—perfectly hard. And perfectly soft. And perfectly large. So perfect. “What are you thinking?”

“Thinking?”

“Yes, now.” She kisses a spot at the base of his neck. “What are you thinking?”

“Nothing. Just… this.” For some reason his fingers are still inside her, giving her a pleasant feeling of fullness. Rey hopes he’ll never take them out. “You?”

“Nothing.” She smiles into his skin. “Actually, something. Do you think Hux and Poe are doing the same thing, right now?”

Jesus.” She can just imagine the way Ben’s face is scrunching up. “Thank you for the mental image, Rey.”

She giggles and falls asleep again with a smile on her face.

 

 

It’s not dark anymore when she wakes up, and Ben’s behind her under the covers, the hand curling around her breast a pleasant weight that has even her bone marrow feeling warm and happy.

“Good morning,” she tells him with a smile that he likely cannot see.

“‘morning.” His breath tickles the hair on her neck. He hesitates for a moment, then his fingers tighten on her. “You smell unbelievably good.”

It’s because I smell like you, she thinks, though she dozes off before the words make it out of her mouth.

When she wakes again Ben is halfway inside her, and Rey has never been more turned on in her life. The arousal wells up with every inch that slides in, an obscene tidal wave that makes her skin heat and tingle, and it takes her several seconds to realize the noise that awakened is her own moan.

“Okay?” Ben asks, pressing a gentle kiss over her shoulder. When Rey rasps out, “Yes,” he shifts her a bit, until she is laying on her belly and his chest is flush to her back. “Still okay?” His breath is hot against her ear.

Rey buries her face in the pillow, dazed by the pleasure. “It feels—” He pushes just half an inch deeper, hitting something soft and tender inside her. The feeling of it, it’s just—ruinous. Nuclear. “It feels as if you might be too big for me.”

Ben groans. “But I’m not.”

Rey nods, breathless. “But you’re not.”

He kisses the pulse at the base of her throat, and then lets his teeth graze against the vein there, as if to find the source, the essence of her. “I’m gonna fuck you, then.”

They have done this enough times by now that he’s almost able to take it slowly. Almost. Rey can tell, that he’s trying to take his time, to savor it a bit. He is going in and out, unhurried and steady, pacing himself, and she has to force herself to resist the temptation to push back against his cock. She closes her eyes, stays as still as he so clearly wants her to be, and lets the pleasure drift through her, breathing in his spectacular scent and thinking of dark green pine trees and fallen snow.

When he kneels back to run his hands down her spine and her buttocks, pressing his thumbs in the grooves of her shoulder blades, she smiles into her forearms. “Did you use to think of us? Doing this?”

Ben’s breath is loud, but even. “All the time.”

“What did you—yes—what did you imagine?”

“I don’t know.” His fingers slide lower, to the dimples at the base of her spine and lower still. “I thought you’d be soft. And warm. And wet.” His thumb traces the cleft of her ass, resting on her hole. “And beautiful.” There is a slight pressure, and then the tip is inside her, uncomfortable and foreign and—ah, yes. Delightfully tight. Rey’s breath catches, and so does Ben’s. “But not… not like this.”

His thumb slips out, and he leans over her once more, resuming his thrusts at a faster, harder tempo.

“Can you come?” he asks in the tender skin of her neck. “Like this? Can you come?”

Rey doesn’t think she can. Though she also didn’t think she could come earlier today, or last night, or yesterday. Up until two days ago, she didn’t think she could come in the presence of someone else, period. She didn’t think many things, and Ben has been proving her wrong one by one, so: “I don’t know.”

“Maybe you can.” He is slurring his words a little. “Because you’re getting tighter. And wetter. So maybe…”

It takes her maybe ten thrusts, before the pleasure tears through her. Ben fucks her through her messy, mind-addling orgasm and then lets go and grabs his own, grunting words of sex and love into her ear. All throughout Rey holds his forearm, pressing sweet, soft kisses to the back of his hand.

 

 

“I would try a triathlon.”

She has tucked her cheek against his enormous chest; his fingers trace lazy patterns over her spine, the small of back, her ass. She is sure that he has counted her ribs twice already, answering with a teasing smile when she confessed that she is ticklish—as if storing up the knowledge for future reference.

“Would you.” He turns his face, just enough to press his nose into her hair and inhale. Deeply.

“If.” She nuzzles her cheek into his skin. “If there was no swimming involved.”

“So, what you’re saying is that you would try a duathlon?”

“Oh.” She lifts her head and props her chin on her palm. “Is that a thing?”

“Well, it is a much inferior, subpar discipline, practiced only by those who cannot master—” Rey pinches the skin at the juncture between his shoulder and his arm. “Ouch.” He’s smiling. “What’s the problem with swimming, anyway?”

“I hate it. I’m not good at it. I mean—I can swim. Sort of.” Rey winces. “But I’m slow. And the pool is always so cold. And it’s out of the way.”

He lifts his hand and runs it through the length of her hair. Rey is reminded of the care he took while undoing her buns last night. “You’d probably get better with training. For sure.”

“Eh. I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

He looks up at her, pressing his lips together. “When we’re back. If you… I could—”

The knock at the door startles them. They exchange a long, silent glance. Then, when Ben gets out of bed and pulls on his plaid pajama pants to answer the door, Rey ducks under the covers and makes herself as small as possible.

“Hey.” From under the comforter, she can hear Poe’s voice. “You sick or something?”

“No.”

“Oh. You look like you just got out of bed.”

“I did. Just resting.”

“Ah. Great. So, you’re good with driving back, right?”

“Of course.”

“Great. So, the streets look fine, at least as long as we drive slowly. We’re planning to leave at five.”

A pause. “Ah. Okay.”

“Can you text everyone on your team?”

“Will do.”

“Okay. Thanks dude. And oh, have you seen Rey?”

Ben doesn’t miss a beat. “Is she not in her room?”

He sure is good at sidestepping questions.

“Nope. Maybe she went for a walk or something. I’ll just text her. See you later.”

The sound of a door closing, and a few seconds later the mattress next to Rey dips. She emerges from the tangle of sheets and comforter, sitting upright while Ben eyes her silently.

“So.” She forces a small smile. “I guess we’re going home today, after all.”

Ben nods. He looks… yeah.

“Okay.” Rey fidgets with a corner of the sheet. “Guess this means I have to go pack.”

Ben nods, again.

“And you have to pack, too.” Rey pushes the covers back. “I’ll get out of your hair, so you can—”

The way he kisses her, it makes her chest flutter and her eyes prickly.

 

 

Hux does half-heartedly check Grinder every ten minutes or so on the trip home, but only when he’s not reading the news, or playing Angry Birds, or typing something on his Notes app. Just one word here, two words there. Rey wonders if the poem is about Poe’s teeth, or maybe his forearms. In the seat in front of Rey’s, Bazine conks out half an hour into the car ride, snoring lightly and muttering something about koalas and chlamydia in her sleep.

Ben just drives, quiet and pensive. Rey leans back against the headrest and looks at the way his hands dwarf the steering wheel, feeling content and warm. When her song comes up on the radio, he turns up the volume a little; she smiles and closes her eyes.

 

 

It’s dark when they pull into the company parking lot. Rey’s phone is long dead, but the clock on the dashboard says 10:37 PM, and she has good reason to suspect that, unlike her, Ben actually set it back when daylight saving time ended.

They are the last group to arrive—no doubt because Rey asked to stop for a restroom break. Bazine had complained, Hux had muttered something about pharmaceutical treatments for urinary incontinence, and Ben had just pulled into the gas station’s parking spot, going inside the store with Rey and buying a cup of black coffee for himself and a bag of Haribo gummy bears for her. Rey tucks what remains of it into the pocket of her coat and steps into the freezing cold.

Rey’s car, old and more than a little beat-up, is where she left it five days ago. The sky is clear now, but there are a few centimeters of white ice stuck to the roof and the windows—a clear sign that it must have snowed in the city, too. Rey puts her bags inside the trunk, wipes the car as best as she can, and then leans against the driver’s door to wait for Finn to finish chatting with Rose. A few feet from her Ben seems busy—first discussing something work-related with a handful of people on his team, then talking with Poe about something that makes them both smile, and after that helping Tallie figure out why her car won’t start. Rey… she mostly attempts to avoid staring at him. Which means limiting herself to furtive glances, and trying not to wonder too much whether she should go say goodbye to him.

She’d like that. And she thinks he’d like that, too. But who knows what his stance is on others knowing, or even just suspecting what happened in the past two days, and it’s possible that he’s had enough of her, and maybe he never meant this thing between them to last past the retreat—

“Rey!” Finn jogs up to her, and he has the gall to lower his voice, as if by now one single person exists who hasn’t figured out what he and Rose are up to: “So, I’m actually gonna go to, um, my friend's place tonight. Which means that I don’t need a ride.”

Rey smiles, and in a stage whisper replies, “Okay.”

“I’ll see you at home, ‘kay?”

“Sure. Have fun.”

Finn gives her the thumbs up and walks away. Rey looks at him and shakes her head, making a mental note to remember this ridiculousness for when she is asked to give a toast at their wedding.

“Is your car alright?” Rey whirls around and finds Ben standing right behind her. His breath is a white puff in the cold air. “Or do you need a ride?”

“Oh, no, I was…” She shakes her head with a smile. “I was waiting for Finn, to drive him home. Though it turns out that he’s going to Rose’s and he doesn’t need a ride.” She shrugs. And then grins. “Wanna rough him up a little?”

Ben stares at her flatly, and Rey giggles.

“Okay, then.” He presses his lips together, looking around the parking lot. Most people have left already, and the few remaining are getting inside their cars. Tallie drives past, waving at them with a tired smile. Rey follows her with her gaze, wondering why on earth her license plate says ‘RAZZLED’. “I’m just gonna…” Ben points vaguely in the direction of his car and spins on his heels, taking a few steps away from her.

“Hey. Ben, wait.” He stops. Faces away for a moment, and then turns back to look at her. So she gives him her most reassuring smile, and continues: “I meant what I said at the lodge. That I don’t bite.”

Ben nods. And is silent for what feels like a long time, studying the toes of his boots. And then, then he looks up and finally meets her eyes. “I meant it, too.”

Rey cocks her head, curious. “You meant, what?”

“What I said. At the lodge.”

He said so many things at the cabin. So many. And yet, to ask him which one he is referring to would be nothing but dishonest of her. “Did you?”

He nods, his jaw working in that tense, familiar way.

Rey turns to her right, taking in the black and yellow neon sign across the street. The ‘W’ and the second ‘F’ are flickering a bit. It’s late, there is almost no traffic, and Rey has to count the days in her head to realize that it’s a Friday night. They have the weekend ahead of them, before they have to go back to work. But even Monday—it doesn’t sound quite as bad as it used to, does it?

Ben Solo, she thinks. I could fall for you so easily, I’m already halfway there.

“Hey,” Rey says, stepping into him. Leaning her forehead against his chest. Maybe it’s a bad idea, maybe someone could see them, maybe it will snow again soon. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe, he feels like home. “I’m in the mood for waffles. Want to buy me some?”