Days pass, and a quiet sense of longing makes its way deep between your ribs.
It’s hard to get a moment’s peace, as the semester ramps towards exams and final papers for students. Between the countless hours of marking, you’re barely given time to make a cup of coffee - let alone entertain the possibility of a social life - and so it’s tough work to even drop a message to Rey or Finn to let them know you’re still alive.
It’s painfully difficult to wake up so early in the mornings and guzzle orange juice while briefly flipping through messages, only to find every other person is just as bogged-down as you are. Rey told you, over a rushed lunch break one afternoon, that she’d fallen asleep at her desk twice this week - and almost managed to repeat that activity in front of the Dean in a meeting, which was a pretty impressive feat.
Worst of all: you’ve had no time at all to seek Ben out.
Not even in the in-between.
The closest you’ve gotten are a smattering of rushed text messages: him asking you how you are, then failing to respond for three days when you replied. You wishing him a good night, and him wishing you a good morning - ships in the night, never quite meeting in the middle of this hectic panic.
Until your phone buzzes, one Friday morning when you’re halfway out the door.
Ben (Uni): I’ve been so busy and distracted lately
Ben (Uni): did you want to come over for dinner tonight?
Ben (Uni): my place. I’ll cook
Your heart feels as though it’s soaring, as you pull the doorhandle shut.
Feels hopeful. Beautiful. Alight with the promise of something that makes you just utterly giddy.
It’s no question at all, you tell him candidly. You’ll bring a bottle of wine, and see him at his apartment at 6pm.
He responds with not one, but two kisses.
And they sure seem like they’re kisses you’ll collect from his lips, even if you have to sleep through every meeting the day throws at you.
The delicate kisses your Omega might plant on your cheeks will keep you steadfast, and that’s all you need.
Logically, you kind of knew he was rich.
Really, you’ve got to either be loaded to put yourself through a law PhD, or you’re taking so many marking jobs that you exist in a semi-permanent state of ethereality. Ben’s certainly a damned hard worker, but the sweaters and pressed suits he owns set a scene of someone who’s loaded well beyond a standard lecturer salary.
But when the cab pulls up at his apartment block in Brooklyn, it’s enough to make you have to double-check the address.
The building itself is tall enough to reach right up and try to pull the sky down. Glass, shining in the sunset as you push through the lobby that looks like something out of a brochure. Modern looking water features, an ornately gorgeous looking chandelier, marble floors…
...the hotel you stayed in in Jackson really could take some pointers from THIS establishment.
It’s movie star level overdone, as you teeter over in your nicest little black dress. There’s no beating the classics: a dash of winged eyeliner, a little black number, some perfume you got as a stocking filler about two years ago.
If anyone was in doubt you were an Alpha woman - they wouldn’t be now.
You punch in the elevator number; nerves prickling as your fingers tighten on the strap of your purse. Something in this just feels...feels so much more real than it did, weeks ago in that quiet hotel room. This feels less impulsive: more decisive, now, than it felt that one night of vulnerability.
It feels like those were dreams you snatched. That those moments weren’t quite real.
But you still remember the way he tastes on your tongue.
Still remember how he makes you feel.
And maybe that’s all you need to remember, at the end of the day.
The elevator doors open on a beautiful, modern hallway. Abstract art flows across one wall; only two doors, one at each side of the corridor. You can feel your heart speeding up in your chest: desperately trying to escape through your throat, as your heels click on the marble flooring.
It’s just Ben - it’s just Ben .
But there’s fear, at this precipice. Fear and doubt, even if they shouldn’t be there.
It doesn’t stop you knocking, though.
Doesn’t stop you gripping the bottle in your hands between manicured nails and waiting for him to rise up to meet you.
The handle dips…
...and it’s like seeing the sun for the very first time.
That sounds stupid, really. Sounds dramatic, when you first think it, as his brown eyes meet yours.
But his scent .
Every vein in your body throbs at the way it swirls around him - this beautiful, extraordinary sweetness that tangles with a warm spice. It’s in the very air of the apartment; it’s in every breath, as his hands snake to hold the door open, and his lips crease into a bashful smile.
His hair’s freshly washed and dried - beautiful, as it licks left and right, shining black in the golden light. This soft looking (and expensive looking, you note) sweater that hugs every inch of his taut muscle, with dark jeans to match.
It’s not fair. It’s not fair to look that good all the time.
You’re liable to write a letter of complaint to a higher power, at this rate.
You return his smile, holding up the bottle of wine awkwardly.
He takes it, fingers gliding over yours as you step into the warm light of his apartment.
And freeze, right after clearing the doorway.
You’re pretty sure you can see every light of the New York skyline from up here. Every refracted pane of light, from every building that fills the city as it reaches up towards this spot. The glass walls of the apartment fill this space with a feeling like you’re flying: like you’re walking on nothing but the clear air, in this bustling evening.
The space is bright, and big, and open. White pillars and light, wooden floors - an open-plan kitchen, with delicious scents of food wafting towards you. The space is as minimalist as you’d expect, but with a few home comforts that make you smile.
Pillows and matching throw rugs, and a few more you can see he’s folded neatly and tucked away under the coffee table. You notice he’s got a few books stacked up by the (frankly, just-showing-off-levels-of-massive) TV - and you’re guessing he might be a bit of a Stephen King fan, judging by the titles on the spines.
The whole place is beautifully decorated, with a door that you assume leads to bedrooms and bathrooms off to one side. All high ceilings and views that just punch the breath right out of you.
“I take it you’re a fan?”
You whip around to see him setting the bottle down on the counter, smirking to himself as he takes two glasses from a cupboard. His cheekbones are stained the prettiest pink, and if you weren’t so distracted by his magic sky castle, you might just stride over there and kiss them senseless.
“So,” you huff, “when were you going to tell me you live in Tony Stark’s apartment?”
He shrugs, lips quirking at the corners as he looks over at you.
“Before you start - no, I didn’t do the decor. The apartment’s a hand-me-down. Sort of.”
You shake your head, walking up to the glass and pressing your fingertips to it. You can trace the whole skyline, it seems. Piece by piece.
“You know...this isn’t exactly the kind of apartment parents begrudgingly palm off to their kids for Christmas. In my world.”
You hear the sound of pouring, and something beeps as a soft jazz song fills the room. Gentle; these waves of music that wash over you, as you turn back towards him.
And God, but the look on his face.
Softness, right around the sharp edges of him. This warmth in his eyes - you’ve seen it before, that night when you curled together in that warm nest. The way he’d looked at you as though the world could stop and he might not even notice, if you were standing right at the centre of his vision.
“You’re so beautiful,” he sucks his lip, swallowing.
Your heart flutters, and you step towards him. Heels on the floor, as his scent increases with every click that joins the sounds of music in your periphery.
He smells more heavenly than he ever has before, and you think it every time you see him.
His eyes track you; lips just barely parted, as he swallows hard enough that his throat bobs. Tall and broad and pale as anything, but with constellations of freckles that dance and move in the setting sunlight.
And so you bring your hand up: up, up until it slips into the curve of his jaw. Cupping it, your fingers tingle as you guide his mouth down to capture just a taste of his lips, for all of those weeks you’ve missed the brush of them.
And the desire in you just snaps like a whip.
His hands squeeze the back of your dress: nails blunt, bringing you closer as his heartbeat speeds up. His tongue dips into your mouth and the sensation of being kissed, of being wanted by your Omega is so pure and blissful that a whimper coils at the back of your throat as your eyes flutter shut.
It’s terrifying - the way your body aches for him, with these tiny micromovements and soft touches. You can taste how much your kiss makes his body burn with a need that defies sense, and how it takes every muscle he has not to just fall into you, here and now.
To just catastrophically lose himself in this. Ignite with you, as the sun sets over the city and Ben pulls you closer by the waist.
You share the same air, and it’s a glorious and burning thing.
When he pulls away; it’s with his nose just inches from yours. Eyes pinched, breath sharp as he tries to centre himself.
“You okay?” you whisper; dizzy and drunk on the twisting need in your blood.
Ben nods: hands still gripping tightly to your waist.
It’s strained as all Hell. Strained enough that you chuckle, your hands winding around his shoulders and fingers curling into his hair.
“Seems like you might be a bit scrambled.”
He bites his swollen lip; grip slowly loosening on the fabric of your dress, as the last flecks of gold start to fall away on the horizon.
“It’s out of my system,” he breathes, nuzzling into your cheek. “All of it. Everything.”
You smile softly, pressing a delicate kiss to the corner of his mouth…
...only then do you realise he’s trembling.
“You’re okay. It’s okay.”
You mean it, too.
Because he doesn’t have to tell you for you to know what’s going through his body right now - what’s in his blood, and on his mind, and in these walls. He doesn’t need to tell you what it’s like for a male Omega to kiss a female Alpha, when he feels something stirring in his chest for her.
He doesn’t need to tell you that he’s shaking from the weight of all this want that’s crushing him. Dragging him right under.
And you realise he probably genuinely can’t let go of you.
Not metaphorically - physically. Genuinely.
“Dinner smells nice,” you tell him encouragingly, halfway to madness yourself. It’s the strangest thing you’ve ever felt - the way your bodies just…
...Refuse, right now. Refuse sense, and thought, and basic movements of parting.
So you both just have to throw lifelines, and try to focus on something other than this need.
“Uh.” Ben takes a shaky breath, eyes opening slowly. “Risotto. I’m…” he huffs. “Risotto.”
You can’t help but burst out laughing, shaking your head.
“Hi Risotto - I’m Dad.”
It takes a few seconds, but a slow and steady smile creeps onto Ben’s face, as he stares at you with hazy eyes.
“That’s a terrible one.”
“Made you smile, though. I reckon I win.”
He lets go of you just enough that you take a step back; both of you so reluctant, as you try to steady yourselves back into reality. Ben visibly shakes his head - trying to clear it and get the gears working all over again.
Your heart aches at being parted from him, even if it’s only for a moment.
He swallows, sucking the inside of his cheek in thought.
“I feel like I should apologise. For something. Not sure...what.”
“You really don’t, you know. I kissed you .”
“My brain’s just…” he huffs, slowly moving to the counter. Ben seems lost in thought for a moment as he checks the oven, turning something off. “...If I stop doing something for a split second, I’m stuck. I’m stuck on you, and I think…”
You pull up a stool at the bench as Ben takes a sip of wine he poured earlier, sliding a glass towards you. His sigh moves through his whole body - makes his chest tighten, and this signature-Ben-Solo-pout linger on his plush lips.
He doesn’t do anything to finish that sentence, but after a few lingering seconds: his eyes dart to yours.
Chocolate brown, with all this depth of colour that cascades right down into your heart.
And all this wanting.
Too much for one person to carry.
“You can tell me anything,” you reassure him, smiling gently as you press the glass closer to your lips. “Anything at all.”
His cheekbones burn as he turns back towards the oven, grabbing a mitt and pulling out the most delicious looking risotto you’ve ever seen.
“Later,” he mumbles, pulling out two bowls. “Let’s eat.”
The thing is: Ben Solo, for all his lawyer talk and fancy apartment living, is far from boring.
And that’s what you find. What you learn, as you sit at his oversized glass table, listening to the breadth of his music taste as you eat his take on a romantic dinner.
It’s also fucking delicious .
He learned to cook in his late teenage years, he tells you over wine as he puts away the dishes. Since he was feigning being an Alpha, he was forced to learn to cook healthy, easy meals to push out the “aggressive” aspects of Alpha tendencies.
It makes you mad enough to feel like you could bend your damned fork in half.
They made him do all sorts of shitty things - strict curfews and early bedtimes and weird rules about what he could and couldn’t wear. The most ridiculous things, claiming it’d somehow make him a better civilian, when he aged out and was carted off to go to college.
“Best thing that ever happened to me,” he says, eyes dark, “was getting sent the fuck out of that town.”
You don’t doubt it.
You tell him stories, too - stories of your own. Of when you presented, and how you felt a surge of pride and fear, all at once. How the boys would stare, and girls would tease, and all the pressure in the world wouldn’t change who you wanted to be.
You have that in common, you realise, amidst homemade chocolate mousse and the twinkling lights of the city. No matter what compromises or promises you’ve had to make: you’re both walking a path that wasn’t laid down at your feet.
It’s odd, to see him this way, after years of seeing him as some sort of arduous villain.
Maybe there’s a lesson in it somewhere, you think.
Eventually, it’s just the two of you: somewhere, in the low light of candles and the twinkling gaze of the city. Just the two of you, chairs pushed close together and his hand painfully close to yours.
His scent wraps around you like it can hold the very fabric of your being upright, and it very well just might.
“Does it feel better?” you ask him, as the candlelight flickers in his eyes. “Do you feel much different, being off them now?”
Ben is quiet, for a moment.
His hand cups yours: thumb running over your wrist, as he chews down on his answer.
“Did you know that male Omegas have such a strong ability to sense Alphas,” he says quietly, “that we can feel sensations they experience, even without bonding? We can just…” he smooths a circle into your palm a lopsided, tentative smile on his lips. “...Just build a connection with one - touch them, hold them - and for a while after, we can feel a whisper of what they feel. Just a little bit, when we’re in a silent room.”
You honestly didn’t.
You shake your head, and Ben shrugs.
“Neither did I, until a few days ago. But I can.”
Your heart skips.
“What’ve you been feeling?” you ask him, watching his lips just slightly part as he traces the web of veins in your arm.
The music changes - something with decidedly slower, softer notes, and the timing’s impeccable.
“You’ve been tired. Overworked.” He chuckles; rich and deep. “And you’re clumsy.”
“That’s cheating. I’m always tired.” You put your free hand to your chest. “And I have the grace and poise of an elegant swan.”
“Do swans stub their toes this often, historically?”
“Anyway,” he smirks, his eyes finally meeting yours as he takes a sip of wine. “I feel...the same, most of the time. My sense of smell’s come back. Meds dampened that. Better sleep, too.” He bites his lip, then, and you scent something beautiful that shifts deep inside. “But smelling you. Feeling you. Just…” Ben threads his huge fingers through yours, utterly engulfing your hand. “...Just this . Just holding your hand is making my heart go nuts. Just kissing you--”
He takes a shaky breath.
“It’s amazing. It’s amazing, and if I’m honest - it scares the shit out of me. The things you make me feel, just by being near me...they scare me half to death, Alpha.”
He leans in closer, eyes darting to your lips and back to your gaze.
“But it’s the best thing I’ve felt in a long time,” he tells you, sure and sound and quiet as ever, “and I want to keep feeling it for as long as I can.”
Your head spins at his confession: your handsome, extraordinary Omega, confessing every desire hidden away in his desperate heart.
There’s a corner of it just for you.
And that’s all you’ve ever wanted to hear.
“Ben?” you say breathily, hungrier than you’ve ever been for something just out of reach. Your fingers of your free hand glide against his soft knitted sweater - feeling the fabric as it moves over his tense muscles, hiding them from view.
Ben makes a quiet, softly held chirp under his breath that you almost don’t hear.
And you lean in closer. Closer, until your lips are at the shell of his ear, breath tickling the soft hair that dusts it as you whisper, in the dark of the New York night:
“I’d very much like for you to take me to your bed,” you tell him, “and show me just what you mean.”
And his lips meet yours; out there in that promised place.
And tonight, you’ll make him feel