They say that your sins never wash away, they always come back to haunt you. At least, his certainly seemed to have.
Ben froze mid-step when he saw the man sitting on his stoop, arms balanced on his knees as he stared down at his hands. As if knowing that Ben had seen him, he raised his head slowly and met his eye. For a beat, Ben remained where he was before, then with great effort he continued walking, hitching his bag further on his shoulder and all the while holding that familiar gaze.
“What are you doing here?” he rasped as he reached the foot of the steps.
“Is that any way to greet your brother?” Kylo unfurled himself slowly, rising to his feet, his stance a mirror of Ben’s; feet apart, chest out, shoulders thrown back. Though, where Ben was all wiry, lean strength, Kylo was broad and brawny. And where Ben’s hair was worn just long enough to cover his damning ears, Kylo’s mane flowed to the top of his shoulders. The eyes though, they had the same liquid eyes that could change colour from amber to a deep whiskey with the ebb and flow of emotion. Right now, Kylo’s were dark and impenetrable. For the first time in a long time, Ben could not read him.
“And here you thought he would be happy to see you.” Ben lifted his eyes to the slim woman lounging at the head of the steps. He hadn't even noticed her, having only eyes for his twin.
“Rey,” he breathed, before turning back to look at Kylo, “I… how did you find me?” Even as he asked, Ben knew the answer. Maz. Of course. He should never have told her.
Kylo nodded, likely seeing the realization on his face, “Yeah, Maz pointed me in this direction. But not before putting me through the wringer.” He broke off and stepped closer, staring hard. “Want to tell me why?”
Ben broke his gaze, eyes flicking up to Rey and then back. It would have come to this, eventually, he supposed. And knowing Kylo, he wouldn’t rest till he got answers out of him. He swallowed hard before nodding towards the door, infusing his voice with false bravado “Let’s get out of this damned cold, shall we? I’m freezing my nuts off out here.”
Rey barked a laugh at his crude remark, “Looks like Benny got himself some rough edges, being on his own.”
“Don’t call me ‘Benny’,” he growled as he stalked past her to open the door and shove it open roughly, stepping into the gloom of the entryway and hoping it would hide the sight of his burning red ears.
“Whatever you say, Benny,” she snarked, following him in with Kylo on her heels. Ben could just hear the shit-eating grin in her voice.
As they entered his apartment, Kylo strolled in, hands shoved in his back pockets, taking in his surroundings. Coming to stop by the full-length, double-paned windows, he tossed a look back over his shoulder at Ben.
“Not too shabby, brother. You’ve got yourself a nice place here.”
Ben didn’t bother answering, instead tossing his keys on the table and hanging up his coat before walking over to stand next to Kylo. He rubbed his suddenly damp palms on his jeans, before shoving his hands into his pockets, an unconscious echo of his brother.
“So… you in the city for long? Are you and Rey here on holiday?” Maybe if he kept to the mundane, they wouldn’t have to talk about… other things.
Kylo raised his brows and watched him silently for a moment, before playing along, “Naah, I’m only here for a couple days to meet a new prospect. I’m thinking it might be nice to check out the music scene in the city, see if I want to maybe come out here more.”
Ben gave him a sharp look. Kylo had never been interested in coming out East before, preferring the fluidity of what he could do back home. This had nothing to do with music, he would bet his bottom dollar.
Kylo quirked an eyebrow, returning a bland look.
Well, two could play at that game.
“That’s nice, good for you. Where are you guys staying at?” Ben asked as he looked over at Rey, watching as she strolled past his bookcases, trailing her fingers along the shelf indolently, before folding herself onto the leather couch and stretching her long legs out.
She grinned widely at him, before patting the couch, “Why, right here, Benny. Where else would we go?”
Ben swivelled his head in Kylo’s direction to see him smiling smugly. “What, did you think I would come out here and actually go stay in a hotel?” He dropped the smile as he stepped closer to Ben, “Or did you actually think I wouldn’t come here? Wouldn’t come looking for you?”
Ben made an inarticulate sound, his mouth going dry. He shook his head, trying to form words but failing spectacularly.
Kylo looked past him to Rey and gave her a small nod. Behind him, he could hear Rey stand up and walk towards the door.
“Why don’t I leave you boys to get all caught up? I’m going to go take a look around.” She left, closing the door softly behind her.
With her departure, it felt to Ben as though the very air in the room was charged, thrumming with a tension that vibrated along his skin.
Kylo searched his eyes for a moment before sighing. “Ben, Why did you leave? I’ve missed you. I needed my brother, and suddenly you were gone. Why?”
He shook his head, unable to look away from Kylo, shame washing over him.
This was the longest they had ever been apart, having always stuck close to each other even as they pursued wildly different things in Life; always knowing what the other thought, what the other felt. They were like one soul in two bodies, people used to joke. And that had always felt right to Ben. Until, that day, almost a year ago.
“Why did you leave, Ben?” Kylo asked again, softly, as he stepped closer still.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know why!” Ben turned away, gritting his teeth.
Grasping Ben’s chin, Kylo turned him back to look him in the eye. “No. I don’t. Tell me.” It was not a request.
With a jerk, Ben wrenched himself out of his hand, stumbling back a few steps, feeling his control slip away. “What Kylo, what do you want me to say? That I had to leave? That I couldn’t live with the guilt of what I had done to you? Of what I felt? And how wrong it was?”
“And what did you do to me that was so wrong, Ben?” Kylo’s question came out as a whisper, just loud enough to be heard.
Ben sank down on the couch, his head clutched in his hands, pulling at his hair. He shook his head, before looking up, his eyes filled with despair, “I... How can you ask that? What sort of a person… ?” he broke off, unable to continue.
Kylo shook his head in response, “You did nothing wrong” he said, firmly. Recognizing that his brother was not going to be able to say the words, he said them instead, “All you did, Ben, was take care of me. At a time when I was going out of my mind, you helped me, you anchored me.”
“I jerked you off and came all over you while I was doing it! Not six hours after we buried Mom!” Ben shouted, snapping finally, the months of self-flagellation and anguish breaking through his barriers and leaving him raw, exposed.
“And what was wrong with that?”
Ben stared, dumbfounded at his brother’s soft question.