It starts when she’s handing him a slide in their weekly lab. They’re both wearing latex gloves, so it barely even counts as a touch. She might not have even noticed if it weren’t for the goggles he’s wearing, the straps pressing down slightly against his ears.
It gives her a clear view of the way they flush, moments after her fingers brush across the back of his hand.
After that, it becomes an experiment of sorts.
Rey is good at experiments. Data will not lie to her, and there is no arguing with the scientific process. She is simply curious if she can replicate his reaction under other circumstances, like any good scientist in training.
To her surprise, Ben Solo’s pink ears keep providing her the same results.
There are other findings along the way, too—like the way his eyes dart away when she tries to meet them, after she’s just touched his hand. Or the stammer he develops when she attempts to maintain a conversation while leaning over his shoulder, a little too close.
Incidental, maybe. But Rey has a very unscientific hunch that it’s something more.
The night she finds out for sure, she invites him to the library to work on a lab report. It is completely deserted—it’s a Friday night, after all, and most students would prefer to start their weekend somewhere more exciting than the second basement of the university’s science and engineering library. Rey wonders if she should add this to her list of supporting evidence for her hypothesis, but ultimately decides against it.
Ben seems like the kind of guy who might spend his entire weekend in a library basement, regardless if Rey was there or not.
But surely he wouldn’t be as flustered as she finds him, waiting for her at a table near the molecular biology section.
He doesn’t notice her at first, hunched over the table with one of the lamps casting a glow on the scatter of papers in front of him. To the untrained eye he might seem calm, collected even— but Rey has come to know better.
He’s adjusting his glasses every few moments, something she’s noticed he has a penchant for when he’s nervous about something. She’s watched him rearrange the stack of papers in front of him at least three times in the good ninety seconds she’s chosen to watch him from down the aisle—and yes, she’s fairly certain he is in fact, flustered.
It feels like something private, recognizing this about him when she’s certain everyone else he meets only finds him to be callous or closed off.
It feels like her own breakthrough discovery.
He doesn’t notice her until she’s pulling out the chair beside him. He startles a bit when she settles into the chair—and how could anyone ever describe this man as unapproachable?
“Sorry I’m late,” she offers.
Ben just shakes his head, his Adam’s apple bobbing slightly as he swallows, and that too, she thinks, is data worth filing away. She doesn’t miss the almost imperceptible dilation of his pupils as he glances her way either, and she’s almost certain that if she were to brush his hair away, she would find the rounded shell underneath a soft pink.
“It’s fine,” he answers finally. “I was just going over our notes.”
She leans closer than necessary to peer at the neat stack in front of him, nodding in approval. She thinks she hears a sharp intake of breath when she does this, but it is so soft she barely catches it— and she can’t be sure it even happened.
Rey deems the incident inconclusive, making a mental note to test her hypothesis again at her earliest convenience.
“I’m sorry for ruining your plans tonight,” she says, pulling out her notebook.
“Oh. It was nothing.” Ben always looks at her like he can’t quite believe she’s speaking to him. “No plans to ruin.”
“Me neither.” Rey treats him to a small smile. “Just you.”
He immediately glances down at his papers again, hand clutching too tightly around his pen. Rey is pleased—but also disappointed that she can’t determine if it was the smile or the contents of her statement that made him so flustered. She needs to stop throwing in so many variables.
“So. The report.” Ben has to clear his throat before he continues. “I thought we could open the introduction with a detailed explanation of recombinant DNA.”
He launches into his ideas for the written portion of their report, but Rey isn’t paying much attention. After all, it’s the perfect opportunity to observe him in his natural state. He is much more comfortable when he’s talking about his work, and it shows in his body language. His shoulders relax. His eyes light up. He’s even getting a little animated.
Rey decides it’s also a perfect opportunity to test something else.
With an expression of deep interest, Rey extracts her pencil from her bag and begins to jot something down in her notebook. But it’s only when she lifts it to her mouth, dragging it thoughtfully along her lips, that Ben starts to trip over his words.
“Rey. What are you doing?”
She looks up to find his eyes wide, fixed on the place where the pencil is wedged between her lips.
“Taking notes.” She gives him her best imitation of an innocent smile.
Ben looks at her for another long moment before he tries to pick up where he left off. She lets him get as far as the chimeras this time—she’s not sure how mythical creatures have anything to do with molecular cloning, though Ben clearly feels very strongly about this—before she raises the pencil to her lips again.
This time, she pulls the entire eraser into her mouth.
He cuts off abruptly with a choked sound. “You don’t need to do that,” he says, a little too quickly. “Take notes, that is. I’ve got it all down.”
“Do you?” Rey taps the pencil against her chin, frowning. “But I want to have them too.”
“I’ll make copies.” He almost sounds a little desperate.
She does her best to look contrite, even as the spark of glee flutters in her belly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to distract you.”
“Oh, no, I’m—” He clears his throat, looking away. “You’re not distracting me.”
Oh, but I think I am.
“Are you sure? You seem a little tense. Everything okay?”
His jaw tenses, but impressively he manages to keep the rest of his expression passive as he nods back at her. “Perfect.”
“Okay, then.” She smiles sweetly, returning to her notes. “Did you start the references section already?”
“Yes.” He looks relieved for the change of subject, flipping through his pages to turn one for her inspection. “Although there is one book you mentioned that I couldn’t find the information for online. Do you happen to remember the author?”
She knows the one he’s talking about, and she’s just about to open her mouth and tell him so when a thought strikes her. A genius idea, really. The perfect field test.
“Actually, I can’t. I think I remember where I found it, though. It was here in the library.”
“Oh.” He nods thoughtfully. “I’ll keep working on this while you find it.”
“Do you mind helping me look? I think it was fairly high up on the shelf.”
He almost looks as if he will say no, although she has a suspicion it is not for lack of interest. No, she suspects it is for a far more appealing reason— at least for her purposes.
“Sure,” he says with less confidence than he projects. “No problem.”
Rey can hardly contain her delight. She doesn’t pay much attention to where she’s leading him—just that they’re getting as deep into the stacks as possible. It wouldn’t do for anyone to stumble across them, after all.
She’s going to need a very controlled environment for this final experiment.
“Rey?” he calls after her. “Are you sure you know where it is?”
A few more aisles, and Rey comes to a halt. It’s dark and almost completely silent back here, save for the whirring of the central air overhead.
She turns, giving Ben a sweet smile. “I remember now. This was it.”
“Is it.” It’s hard to make out the expression on his face—something that she’ll have to account for when she’s analyzing this moment later.
“Yes.” She cranes her neck to look up at the highest shelf, pointing to a title at random directly over her head. “That one.”
Ben’s silhouette looms over her in the aisle. She forgets how tall he is sometimes—they’re always sitting when they’re in class together.
“Are you going to move?” he asks her softly.
“I think you can reach it.”
Slowly, Ben moves toward her. Until he’s only a few inches away. Shirt brushing her cheek, he reaches over her head and plucks the book from the shelf.
He doesn’t step back again.
“Is there something you wanted to tell me, Rey?”
His voice… It sounds so deep in the stillness of the library. She is suddenly very aware of how close their bodies are. “What do you mean?”
“You’ve been teasing me,” he murmurs. “Haven’t you.”
Rey imagines her surprise is apparent all over her face. She was fairly certain of her independent and dependent variables when she began this little endeavor, but it is hard to keep track of them with him standing so near. She is beginning to feel less and less like the constant—especially when she is the one blushing now.
“I might have been conducting my own experiment," she admits.
He takes a step forward, and she reactively takes one of her own, bringing her back flush against the shelf. “What exactly was your hypothesis?”
“I think you might like me.”
“Based on what grounds?”
“Oh, I’ve collected a fair amount of data to support my theory.”
He’s staring down at her, eyes even and impossible to read. She gives a nod that is just a little shakier than she’d like. “Yes.”
“So did you come to a conclusion?” She isn’t sure how it’s even possible that his voice seems to lower just a fraction more, but it sparks a flutter in her belly. She has to fight the urge to squirm.
“Results are currently inconclusive.”
“Hmm.” He’s staring at her mouth now, his eyes darkening as they trace its shape. “Maybe you just need to introduce a new variable.”
“Possibly.” She swallows, her voice coming out far breathier than she intended. “It is for science, after all.”
“Yes,” he murmurs, leaning almost imperceptibly toward her. “For science.”
The first brush of his lips against hers is anything but scientific.
For starters, she completely loses her grasp on coherent thought. She is supposed to be impartial—an independent observer of his reactions—but it’s impossible for her to observe anything at all but the sensation of his mouth, so soft and full, pressing lightly against her own. Rey doesn’t have many kisses as a method of comparison—she wonders if she can convince Ben to help her change this, once they’re finished here—but this one seems extraordinarily, mind-blowingly good.
Rey is just starting to wonder what unit of measurement she might use to quantify the experience of kissing Ben Solo when his tongue softly parts her lips.
She decides she doesn’t care.
The experience of his tongue sliding into her mouth is a whole new level of sensation. His kisses are becoming more urgent now, hot and firm and with a little bit of teeth. When she slides her hands up his torso, thick and smooth with muscle, she isn’t sure which one of them groans.
The book thumps to the floor. Ben’s arm is next to her head again, but he is caging her against the bookshelf this time, licking at the inside of her mouth.
“The things I’ve been doing,” he tells her between gasping kisses, “the things I’ve wanted to do…”
Somehow, these words are what reminds her of her true intentions here. With great effort, Rey manages to detangle herself, pressing her fingers to his lips so that they don’t keep kissing her.
In the dimness of the library, Ben’s eyes look black and wild. And confused, when he realizes she’s pulling away.
“What is it?” He sounds a little hoarse. She files this knowledge away for further examination.
“There’s one more thing I wanted to test.”
“Rey,” he groans. “Really? Right now?”
“Yes.” Rey turns him around, and he lets her, allowing her to press him against the bookshelf instead. “Right now.”
She leans up on her toes to press a chaste kiss to his mouth, and she hears the sharp inhale through his nostrils when her fingers find the button of his jeans.
“What are you doing?”
Her lips curl against his. “Introducing another variable.”
“You don’t have to—”
“I would very much like to see what happens when a control becomes decidedly uncontrolled.”
The metallic scrape of his zipper is deafening in their quiet corner, and when her fingers trail over the thick base of him just beneath the denim, she hears him hiss out a breath.
“Rey,” he chokes out. “Are you sure you want to—”
“Shh. Wouldn’t want someone to come along and find us, would you?”
He clenches his lips together, and she leaves another lingering kiss at his jaw before she sinks to her knees. He watches with wide eyes as she works his jeans down his hips, already straining against the tight fabric of his briefs and leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination.
She palms the hard length of him, his knuckles turning white from the way they are gripping the shelf behind him. Peeking up at him from beneath her lashes, she hooks her fingers into the band of his briefs, tugging lightly to free his thick cock. It grows impossibly larger under her attention.
“I suppose this confirms my hypothesis, then.”
He sucks in a breath when her hand wraps around the width of him, her fingers not quite touching. She gives an experimental stroke that causes him to shudder.
Definitely a favorable outcome. She finds she likes the sounds he makes very much. She wants to hear more of them.
His expression is half-pained when she leans in, letting her tongue dart out to lick a slow stripe up the underside of his cock. She drags it up his length slowly, cresting over the head and tasting him there, and finds she doesn’t dislike it in the slightest.
“This is… quite a variable.” She pulls back slightly, letting the words ghost over the shiny head of him. “I wonder if it will fit in my mouth.”
Ben makes a strangled noise, deep in his chest. His fingers find their way to her jaw and linger there, stroking. “Show me.”
Pulling him to her lips, Rey gives him one last smile before she opens her mouth and starts to slide down his cock.
His reaction is immediate. The strangled noise from before morphs into a deep, vibrating groan, a sensation she feels all the way in her fingertips, grasping at his hips. The hand that had been at her face threads into her hair, as if he needs something to hold onto. As if the feeling of Rey’s mouth all around him is enough to make him float right out of his body.
Heady with excitement, Rey tightens her grip and slides down again, a little deeper this time. It turns out she can’t fit even close to the whole thing, but Ben doesn’t seem to mind. His head is tipped back against the shelf, jaw slack with pleasure as she fucks him with her mouth.
“Rey,” he says, his voice ragged and breathless, “fuck, that feels—you feel—”
She quickly learns that he enjoys the feeling of her tongue lapping at the spot right under the head of his cock—that his hips shudder and jerk when she adds a twist on the downstroke. She also learns that he tastes salty when he begins to leak onto her tongue, fingers flexing helplessly against her scalp.
“Oh god.” Even in the dark, she can see how flushed his face is. It makes her stomach coil with pleasure. “Rey, you need to—fuck, I’m going to—”
He tugs slightly at her hair, a half-hearted attempt to get her to stop, and she knows he is close. She wants to take him right to the edge. Wants to feel him come against her tongue for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with science.
Quickening her pace, Rey hollows her cheeks and times each deep pull of her mouth with a corresponding stroke of her fist. Pleasure is starting to throb between her legs, fueled by the grunts and gasping pleas that come from above her. She can feel him swelling against her tongue, her jaw aching with the way she takes him as deep as she’s able—and still she pushes deeper, until saliva pools at the corners of her mouth.
When he comes, his fingers tighten in her hair to a point that is almost painful, a sharp hiss of air rushing past his teeth. Ben curls over her, a warm gush spilling over her tongue and down her throat as he pulses in her mouth.
She swallows everything he gives her, drinking down every drop.
When he finally stills, his spent cock falls from her mouth and his head falls back against the shelf as he struggles to catch his breath. A moment passes before he seems to remember his fingers that are still tangled in her hair and loosens his grip.
His breath is still labored, his chest rising and falling deeply as he stares down at her in awe. “That was…”
He trails off, clearly unable to describe just exactly what that was, but she can see it written all over his face. A full report of her findings etched into his features as if she’d logged them there herself.
Large hands wrap around her shoulders and haul her off the floor. She is met immediately with his mouth, kissing her deeply until she is breathless and tingling again.
At some point, her fingers find their way to the object of her endless fascination these many weeks. The delicate lobes of his ears are almost blazing hot beneath her touch.
Pulling away, Rey lifts his hair back just to make sure. A smile spreads across her face as she confirms her final hypothesis.
“They turn pink when you come, too.”
“What?” He blinks at her, completely wrecked.
“Your ears. I was curious.”
“They do not.” Beneath her fingertips, they burn even hotter.
“I guess we can’t know for sure. Unless we replicate the findings, of course.”
Ben’s throat bobs in the dim light. Rey wonders if that will turn pink too, if she teases him long enough.
“You know...” She cards her fingers through his hair, thumb brushing along his earlobe. “I bet there are plenty of other hypotheses we could test. If you want.”
A slow, sly smile curls his lips. “I can certainly think of a few.”
The heat that’s been building in her core winds even tighter. Biting her lip, Rey returns his grin. “All in the name of science, right?”
Leaning forward, Ben ghosts his lips along her ear, which might be turning its own shade of pink. “For science.”