Rey Sanderson has been working at First Order Books for two and a half months. It’s a decent enough job, full-time, with a regular schedule and nice benefits, and she doesn’t hate any of her co-workers yet, so all things considered, she feels pretty lucky. There’s Hux, her manager, who is a reserved, slightly prissy ginger who wears an expression most of the time like someone’s just told him he’d lost a floral-arranging contest, and there’s Poe, who is kind-hearted, enthusiastic and a bit intense, but much more sociable than Hux. Rey really likes sharing her shifts with Rose, who is a third-year engineering student at Chandrila University, and whose sister, Paige, sometimes brings in lunch from Rose’s favorite food cart. Rey is still figuring out how she felt about working with Kaydel, who only covers evening shifts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as she had a second job.
Most everyone is nice enough. The customers are nice enough, too. There’s a few regulars, like a group of veterans who comes in and browses the photography books so they can argue about which fighter planes were the best, back in the day, and then the group of ladies who meet up for coffee and read romance novels once a week, in their little back room. Rey loves to hear their laughter and catch out-of-context snippets of their delightfully dirty jokes as she passes by on her way to the stockroom in the back.
But there’s one person at First Order Books that Rey does not understand, and simply cannot get a read on whatsoever.
He tends to work the early shifts, but she doesn’t have any idea what he does when he leaves at 2:45. He doesn’t volunteer, and her gentle inquiries are met with vague, one-word responses. It’s a shame he’s so... him, because otherwise, he’s kind of cute, in a non-traditional way. Dark eyes, dark hair, tall, wide body. Big hands, big feet. Rey blushes when she thinks about all the things that’s supposed to imply; everybody knows it’s bollocks.
No, Ben Solo is easy on the eyes. It’s a real shame about his personality, though. When she checks the next month’s schedule, her stomach does a bit of a swoop and a dive, seeing that she and Ben are schedule for even more shifts together. If they’re going to be stuck together, then why the hell can’t he at least make an attempt to be polite?
Rey is polite. She’s a fucking conversationalist, she can talk to anybody. She’s polite. She’s social. This guy?
He just… isn’t.
Rey has no idea what to make of him. Can’t get the faintest clue. He’s aloof, but not in a cultivated way. Shy, but he has no reason to be. He moves around like he’s afraid of being tall on main. He constantly looks at her like he’s halfway to apologizing.
She tries to get him to open up—and they don’t have a ton of shifts together, but when they do, it’s frustratingly unsuccessful. Maybe he just doesn’t like her? That’s fine, she’s a big girl and she can deal with that. But sometimes, she catches him looking at her, and she can’t figure it out.
He doesn’t look at her like he hates her.
But he doesn’t open up, either. It’s like he’s straining, reminding himself with each passing moment, that he doesn’t deserve to be listened to.
So, by the end of her fourth month of employment, Rey gives up. She decides to just stop pushing. Let him live his life.
He obviously isn’t interested in making new friends, and her ever-so-slight crush on him (which she admits to no-one, and never would, under pain of death) is resigned, in her mind, to be a no-fly zone.
Whatever. It doesn’t matter.
She just… she can’t help but be a little curious about him, though. Where he goes, what he likes, what his opinions really are. Does he have favorite movies, favorite songs? Does he go to clubs and dance (Rey laughs to herself, utterly unable to picture Ben Solo cutting loose) or does he stay home and listen to vinyl on his antique gramophone and contemplate the nature of human existence? He never shows up with a speck of pet hair on him, so she deduces that he doesn’t have a cat, or a dog… but why? Does he not like them, is he allergic? Does he keep fish instead? Snakes?
Rey can’t explain why she is so fascinated by him. She wants to strap him to a chair and interrogate him until he reveals something personal, just so she knows a tiny bit about him. It’s probably because without anything solid to go on, she has to create a picture of him in her mind, which she knows is inaccurate, because it’s completely made up—or at the very least, pieced together from context clues and educated guesses. Like the way he walks, the way he carries himself, Rey thinks he might be a little self-conscious, being so tall and… broad. Maybe he was teased for it at some point. Or maybe he was one of those guys who constantly gets badgered to play basketball, but can’t find the net with two hands, a map, and a torch. He certainly doesn’t move like he’s uncoordinated, but Rey just doesn’t know, and it drives her mental.
But she does watch him—innocent curiosity, that’s what she tells herself. It’s probably why she notices him leave his cell phone on the shelf beneath the register. The screen is still on, and he’s set it down there to take a customer back to the home and gardening books… Rey notices, and the pull is almost too overwhelming to ignore.
Strictly speaking, there’s no policy against cell phone usage. So long as it’s kept up front, and not done when a customer is in the store or in need of assistance, Hux doesn’t really care.
Before this, the store had been absolutely dead.
Now, however, Rey’s dull and sluggish attention snaps into focus.
She glances down at the screen, desperate for any shred of information there, something, anything she can glean about the impenetrable mystery that is Ben Solo.
And what she finds makes her eyes go very wide indeed.
It’s a new post, on a subreddit called… Rey has to swallow thickly as she reads the name twice to be sure: BigDickProblems .
The post title is ‘Boxer-brief recommendations?’ and the username of the person who had posted it is ‘KyloRen,’ but there’s a string of numbers after it that Rey can’t decipher.
She’s fascinated; she reaches over, heart pounding like a kid caught stealing in a candy store, and carefully scrolls further down. Despite the fact that if someone else was caught looking at her phone, she’d stab them and hide the body back between Religious Nonfiction and Inspirational , Rey just cannot look away.
Ben Solo is her puzzle; she’s just found her first piece.
It’s a brand-new post; there are no replies. The message, when she scans it, mostly seems to be around finding underwear that doesn’t make one’s crotch so prominent, and Rey can feel the incredulous blush forming on her cheeks. She doesn’t get much further than the first few lines, though, when Ben’s familiar voice comes filters back up through the rows. Rey straightens up hastily, looking as innocent as possible, and Ben appears just moments later, the customer following behind, carrying an armful of books about bonsai care.
“I can ring you up!” Rey says cheerily. A bit too cheerily, because Ben gives her a look. “Or… you can. That’s fine.”
“Thanks,” Ben says, and she shifts to the side, and lets him take her place behind the register.
It’s a tight fit. Rey has to slide in front of him, make space for Ben’s absurdly tall body as he maneuvers behind her, and for the briefest of heart-pounding seconds, she’s trapped with her butt against his thighs, pressed up against the counter.
Rey doesn’t want to think about the implications of seeing that post on his phone—it might not have been him, he might have just been reading it for… some other reason—as she moves out of his way, but when she looks up at Ben, her cheeks are still a little flushed. Ben is looking down at the register, scanning in the customer’s purchases. And so what, if her eyes dart down to his fly, it’s just curiosity, isn’t it? After all, there’s no earthly way that someone who posts on a site about “big dick problems” actually has a giant penis, right? What the hell even is a big-dick problem… making your partner orgasm too hard, and too often? Getting complaints from the neighbors? Having too much sex?
Everything below his waist is hidden, now, behind the counter. And she isn’t exactly going to jump the counter and catch an eyeful of his maybe-huge dick, not in front of a customer, anyway. Rey turns as if to straighten up a display of calendars, and very nearly knocks the whole rack over as the mental picture hits her.
Ben is big all over. Long legs, solid torso, broad shoulders, big hands. This was information she had known beforehand, but now… Rey can’t stop thinking about it.
Ben Solo… Ben Solo (maybe, possibly, probably) has a huge dick.
Rey marinates in this idea all the way through the rest of his shift, and through the end of hers. She ponders this, discounts a dozen theories, and ends the day with no better answers and certainly no relief for her guilty conscience. She really shouldn’t have been looking at his phone in the first place, that much is clear. Ben may be quiet and reserved, but he’s never been an outright jerk to her. Or to a customer, in fact. He comes to work, he does what he’s supposed to do, and he goes home. But what she’s done, it’s the kind of invasion of privacy that there’s no real way to apologize for.
When she gets home, and digs into the tacos she’s picked up from a truck along the way, Rey opens up her laptop and navigates to the site: Big Dick Problems.
To her surprise, it’s actually… pretty legit. Apparently, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a sizable penis must be in want of advice. Guys on here ask for help finding condoms that fit, having safer sex, keeping their dicks out of the toilet bowl when they sit to do their business. It’s, quite literally, a whole new world; Rey had no idea.
She finishes her first beer and can already tell she’ll need a second one, possibly a third, to make it any farther. So Rey gets up and grabs a second can from the fridge. She can do this. Should she do this? No. But she’s doing it anyway.
This is a bad idea. She keeps chanting that to herself, in her thoughts. But she can’t stop. And after her initial scroll through a handful (pun semi-intended) of posts on the front page, Rey finds the one that ‘KyloRen’ had posted. She clicks on it, and re-reads it, feeling a blush warm her cheeks.
Good grammar. Succinct, clear, and direct. The post certainly sounds like Ben—what little of him she’s heard, anyway—but… she can’t be sure unless she does further research. So she clicks on the username itself, and the page of all of his prior posts and comments opens.
It’s definitely Ben.
Rey doesn’t have to scroll past about three comments before confirming this. Not just from the other subreddits he’s posted in, but from the content of the comments. From a subreddit for amateur fencers: A request for gear for long torsos and long legs. Check. From a subreddit about classic science fiction movies, a post about a film festival in their city. Check. From a subreddit about relationships, a post about how to date when sex is off the table—
Rey clicks on that link, and slips further down the rabbit hole.
Almost as soon as she starts reading, she feels sick to her stomach in a way that has nothing to do with her tacos.
His reply isn’t terribly long, and certainly not as revelatory or deeply personal and detailed as the original poster, to whom he had been replying, but Rey can practically hear the words in Ben’s low voice. It’s definitely a challenge, his reply says. I’ve been coming to terms with the prospect of dating while knowing I’ll never have the kind of relationship others have.
Rey has to read his reply twice before realizing that she really shouldn’t have been reading this at all, despite the fact that, yes, this is all out there, public, on a website that anyone and their mother can come and read. It’s been obscured by a name that she never would’ve connected him with—who, or what, the heck is a KyloRen, anyway?—but the means she used to obtain this connection make her feel… guilty.
Hastily, she closes out of the tab, and tries to pretend like she hasn’t just read all of that.
It doesn’t work in the slightest.
Challenge… what had he meant by that? Dating without sex? To Rey, at least, that sounds terribly sad and incredibly disappointing. He might be strong, silent type, but there doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with him that would preclude him getting a date. Hell, if he asked her, Rey would say yes. Assuming he opened up to her and she got to learn things about him the normal way, through communication and not surreptitious cell phone snooping.
Rey vows with herself—and she really, truly means it, this time: No snooping.
The next few shifts they have together pass in the typical awkward silence. Rey doesn’t even think about his phone, or Schrodinger's big dick, or his love life, or any of it. (Okay, she does, she definitely does, and she feels guilty as sin about it, so she tries to ignore it as best she can. It doesn’t work—but she’s good at pretending everything’s okay, so it seems like he doesn’t notice.) At 1:38 on the third day since her snooping and subsequent vow, Ben asks her if she’s brought up the order for the romance-readers book club, and Rey says that she has.
“ Claimed by the Dark Lord ,” she says, holding up the cover to him with a wide-eyed look. “Like at baggage claim? ‘Paging one Dark Lord, please return to lost and found and recover your missing item?’”
Ben looks up at her, and the corner of his mouth cracks into the faintest of smiles.
“I don’t think that’s what that means,” he says—but the smile is still on his face.
“What?” Rey exclaims it in shocked faux-indignance, turning the book to look at the cover. “You mean to tell me that these fine upstanding ladies are reading books of a dubious moral quality?”
Ben gives her deadpan look; the smile is still there, kissably perfect at the corner of his lovely, full mouth. Finally, he laughs. Rey’s entire body warms at the sound. He shakes his head, and looks back down at the stack of orders he’s been going through on the counter.
No one’s come in for hours.
“Hey, you can go home early, if you want,” Rey says, sauntering over to the front display of themed books and nudging the stacks back into perfect alignment.
“What, you’re tired of me already?” Ben asks.
Rey laughs, and glances back over her shoulder, catching him before his eyes flick back down to the papers on the counter. She’s wearing leggings today, dark gray ones, and a long pumpkin-spice orange sweater which her best friend, Finn, told her is ‘exactly the color of ketchup mixed with mustard’ for which she had smacked him with a throw pillow from their futon. But as she straightens up, Rey notices that Ben’s eyes… did he just check out her ass?
“I’ll stay,” Ben says, his voice mild and low, like usual. Eyes fixed on the papers on the counter; she must’ve imagined it. “Wouldn’t want to leave you to clean up all by yourself.”
“...and I’m pretty sure he was checking out my ass, but I just can’t figure him out at all.” Rey grabs at the paper bag and digs out a handful of french fries, shoving them into her mouth, as her bemused roommate and friend, Finn, rolls his eyes at her.
“So, he’s into you, it’s not that complex.”
“He’s not, though,” Rey says. “Because he would’ve… or at least he could’ve… look, I told you about his posts—”
“Which you know you—”
“Yes, yes, I know I shouldn’t have seen, but I did, and here we are,” Rey grabs at the fries again, and Finn ducks just out of her grasp, sitting down on their futon. “He posted something about having to… accept that he’d never have a relationship, because he couldn’t find one without sex, so…”
Finn looks at her like she’s missing something obvious. And Rey stops herself, and considers—really looks at Finn. All the time that they’ve been friends, Finn hasn’t really been much for dating. There’d been a guy here, and a girl there… but they hadn’t really lasted long.
She chooses her next words carefully. “It’s kind of a big deal for me, but...”
Finn smiles. “Right. It’s not that way for everyone.”
“What do you mean?” Rey takes her fry container from him, and watches as he digs in the bag to find which one of the two burgers is his.
“I just mean… Maybe sex and romance and relationships aren’t the same for everyone.”
“Well I know that,” Rey says. “But—”
“I’m ace, Rey,” Finn says, still smiling. He hands her one of the two burgers. “I have been, all of my life. Sex doesn’t do it for me. I don’t want it, or even… But, Poe and I… we…”
“Okay, I don’t need details,” Rey says hastily. “Seriously, I didn’t mean to pry.”
“No, it’s okay,” Finn says. “It’s not like it’s something I’m ashamed of. There’s a spectrum. Some people want a lot of it, and some people want less. Or none at all. And it’s all normal. All I’m saying is… just because a guy isn’t interested in sex, it doesn’t mean he’s deficient. It’s possible that he is interested in you, but not want to have sex with you.”
“Huh,” Rey says. She can feel a blush coloring her cheeks.
“There’s all kinds of ways to be attracted to someone, to want to be with them,” Finn says with a smile. “He might like your winning personality.”
Rey rolls her eyes. “I just bet he does…”
Finn laughs. “Attractions is… complicated. But it can be wonderful to find someone who’s into you the way you’re into them. I can’t speak for this guy, and maybe I’m just seeing too much of myself in him. But it’s not unreasonable. If he’s someone you’re interested in, it might be worth just… talking to him.”
Rey ponders this as Finn digs further into the bag, finding a hidden sauce container and unearthing it with a triumphant grin.
She tucks her sock-clad feet up under her, and reaches for the blanket to cover her legs as Finn looks on his phone for the next movie they have on their to-be-watched list.
“John Wick 2?” he asks.
“Let’s do it,” Rey says.
But the whole time, her mind is pondering…
Firstly, how much she’s going to have to research, now that Finn has shared this with her—the assumptions about what the spectrum of ‘normal’ had been are clearly in need of some adjustment. But secondarily, could that be the reason behind Ben Solo’s comments? The ones she vowed she wouldn’t think about but totally still is thinking about because he definitely did check out her ass… If he’d checked out her ass, then he might be attracted to her, but—doesn’t necessarily want to sleep with her. All of this was compounded by the original post, the big dick problems…
Rey can’t make heads or tails of it, honestly. But it’s the only explanation so far that has made sense. Ben Solo is normal, and asexual. He must be worried that he’ll have to live his life, never finding love—or compromise his physical needs and feelings. That’s even sadder than she first assumed, especially seeing how happy her friend is, how he’s apparently found someone who loves him and clearly makes him happy. It makes Rey wish that Ben could find someone, too. Not that she’s volunteering, because… for her, it might be a deal-breaker. Might be.
Not that he’s ever offered, of course.
Kaydel quits without notice one day, citing urgent and inescapable family reasons; Hux sends all of the rest of the First Order Books an email with a revised schedule for the remainder of the month, and the promise of time and a half if they can cover what would’ve been her next two weeks of closing shifts. Rey replies that she can take them, and as she hits ‘send’ she sees Ben’s emailed reply that he can take the shifts, too.
Yet another stretch of time she has to spend in relatively close quarters with a guy who isn’t interested in sex, let alone sex with her specifically, and pretend not to think about his giant penis. Oh well. At least there’s extra money involved, so it’s not a total loss.
On the first day of their pick-up shift, Ben actually makes a joke about the weather.
On the next, Rey teases him back, and the little half-smile turns into an actual, real smile, revealing his endearingly crooked teeth, dimples, and eye-crinkles that kind of make her feel a little weak in the knees and wistful.
On the third day, he’s back to his serious mood, however, and the day passes in rain-soaked silence, with a total of four customers, two of whom clearly came in just to buy something small and get the key to the bathroom.
Rey is bored. Ben is bored. They are bored, bored, bored.
“Hey,” she says again, conspiratorially leaning across the counter, propping her elbows up and putting her chin in her hands. “Should we just… close early today? I won’t tell Hux if you don’t.”
Ben arches an eyebrow at her. “We still have—” he checks the clock “—twenty-six minutes left. And inventory to do.”
“Ugh,” Rey replies, folding her arms on the counter and bending at the waist to pillow her head on her arms with a sigh. “What if we did the inventory first, then closed right at eight?”
Ben peers down at her from over that long nose. He glances to the door, then, after a pause, his bored expression switches to something that can only be described as… playful.
Then, without a word, he slides out from behind the counter, and goes to the door.
Rey watches, an incredulous expression on her face, as his big hand turns the Open sign over to Closed. He takes the key out of his pocket, and locks up, then turns back to Rey with a close-mouthed, conspiratorial smile.
“Let’s make this quick, then.”
They head back to the stockroom. Or, more properly, stockrooms , because there’s two: One larger one, that they use for the majority of the incoming shipments, and a second, smaller one, across the hallway. This one, they use for the more important shipments. Things like the heavier and more expensive coffee table books, limited edition items, or new releases that might be in-demand, and put under lock and key. It’s into this smaller one they turn now. Rey’s glad that Ben’s going to be helping her with inventory; she’s not short for a woman, but the racks go all the way to the ceiling, and having him around means that she won’t need to get out the stepladder.
Among other, private benefits.
He flicks on the light as he enters, and the solid oak door swings shut behind Rey as she follows him in.
It closes with a thunk.
“Oh, hold on,” Rey says, her hand on the knob. “I forgot my phone, let me just run up and grab it.”
“Are you trying to get out of inventory, Rey?” Ben says.
Rey smirks at him. “Ha ha. No. I’m serious, I…”
She jiggles the handle.
The door is locked.
“It’s locked?” Rey says the statement as if it’s a question, because she really does want that fact to be in doubt. She tries it again.
From behind her, barely a foot away because the storage room is really quite small, Ben’s warm voice answers: “What?”
Rey jumps, just a little, her hand still on the doorknob. “It’s locked. The door is locked.”
“How is it locked?” Ben asks her.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe the normal way, with a lock?” Rey responds, a little snippily, mostly because she’s scared and, yeah, a little bit because she’s annoyed at having to be locked in a small room with a guy who might have a big dick but definitely won’t have sex with her with it. And also because claustrophobia.
There is that.
“Hmm,” he says, and slides up beside her, making Rey step out of the way as his hand very nearly closes over hers on the handle. She moves it, just in time.
He jiggles it, and, yep, still locked.
“Shit,” he mutters.
“That’s what I said,” Rey replies.
Ben looks at her. “And you were going to get your phone, so…”
“Do you have yours on you?”
He shakes his head, pats the pockets of his jeans. “Nope. But someone… one of your friends, they’ll come looking for you, when you don’t…”
“When I don’t what?”
He shrugs. “Someone will come for you, is all I am saying.”
“Nobody knows I’m even here,” Rey says, and then, amends: “Stuck here, I mean. They know where I work. But how would—It’s not like I had plans with anyone tonight. And what about you, won’t someone come looking for you? Friends, or… your girlfriend, maybe?”
He looks over at her sharply. “Don’t have a girlfriend.”
“Oh.” Rey glances away from his deep, knowing gaze. He looks at her as if he knows she’s fishing, like he knows she’s been snooping around on his Reddit account, and Rey can’t meet his eyes at all. She feels guilty, and hastily covers her tracks as best she can. “I… sorry, I didn’t want to assume…”
“It’s okay,” Ben says, quietly.
He tries the door handle again, then drops his hand back to his side.
“Well. Here we are, I guess.”
“Are we just going to… we can’t spend the night in here.” Rey glances around them at the tiny storage room: It’s a long narrow rectangle of a room, made even narrower with the addition of floor-to-ceiling metal shelving installed along three of its four walls. The floorspace is probably barely long enough or wide enough for just Ben to lay down, and they’ll have to sleep on the floor.
“Do you have, like, a hair pin?” Ben asks her.
“What?” Rey looks back up at him. “To try and pick the lock?”
Rey checks her pockets, then shakes her head. “Nope. What about you?”
The corner of Ben’s mouth quirks into a smile at this; he runs his hands through his longish hair, and shakes his head. “No.”
“Well, I guess we just have to wait until someone comes for the opening shift,” Rey says. “What time is it?”
“I don’t have my phone, so…”
Rey laughs softly at this, and shakes her head. There’s no clock in here, and of course neither of them wear a real watch. Why would they, when the time is always in their pockets? Except for now, anyway.
“Okay, think… it was twenty-something minutes before closing when we went back here, so it’s probably fifteen-till now, maybe?” Rey sighs. “We have until—oh, why am I even bothering to count, we’re going to be stuck here all night.”
“Yeah, we are.” Ben crosses to the other side of the storage room and sits down, one long leg extended, one knee drawn up, his back against the metal shelves. He’s wearing a warm-looking plaid shirt, deep burgundy with navy and cream stripes. It looks nice on him, but then again, pretty much everything he wears looks nice. Just another one of the world’s little cruelties, Rey supposes.
She sighs again—seems to be doing a lot of that tonight—and sits down opposite him on the cold linoleum floor. After a second, with her legs stretched out, it feels way too much like they’re playing footsie, so she draws both of her knees up, and wraps her arms around her shins, lowering her head and closing her eyes.
“You alright?” Ben asks her.
“Yeah,” she says. “I’m just not a huge fan of small, enclosed spaces, that’s all.”
“It’s not exactly your fault,” Rey says, smiling and looking up at him. “Unless you locked us in here.”
“I didn’t,” he says.
Just the sound of breathing, faint and soft, in a tiny, book-lined room. After a moment, Rey lowers her head back down to her knees, and tries to imagine that she’s anywhere else, besides here. Or at the very least, trapped with literally anyone else than him.
It doesn’t work at all.
“Rey, can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” Rey looks back up at him. “What is it?”
He doesn’t meet her eyes. “Why did you ask if I had a girlfriend?”
Rey can feel herself blush, and wishes she had left her forehead on her knees. She’s positive he can tell she’s blushing, even by the light of one bare bulb overhead.
“I… you’d asked if someone was going to miss me tonight, and I just… asked the first thing that came to mind,” she says, lamely. “I didn’t mean to offend you. Or get too personal.”
“No, I’m not offended,” Ben says. And then, somewhat wryly: “I could’ve had a boyfriend, you know.”
Rey doesn’t know what to say to this. “Do… you?”
He shakes his head, smile faintly mischievous. “No. I’m just trying to distract you from the fact that we’re locked in a tiny room, and it’s clearly bothering you. Is it working?”
Rey laughs, and looks around at their room for the night. “Maybe, a little. Thanks.”
Silence, once more.
God, it feels like time is creeping by like molasses in January. It could be five minutes they’ve spent in here, or an hour, Rey has no idea.
“I’m glad I’m stuck with you,” Ben says quietly. “If it had to be anyone, I mean. I’m not glad I’m stuck, I just…”
Rey doesn’t know what to say to this, either.
“You just seem like a nice person, is all,” Ben continues. “I feel… comfortable, around you. That doesn’t really happen easily for me. It takes me a long time to… warm up to people. Girls. Women.”
“Oh,” Rey says.
Guilt is gnawing at her conscience now, a starving, feral dog with a bone.
“And I hoped that… Maybe some time you—of course, now isn’t exactly the best time to ask, because we’re stuck here, but—Rey, maybe you and I could… go out for a drink sometime?” Ben asks, his dark eyes sweet and honest and oh so vulnerable.
Rey’s cheeks redden, but not from flirtation, or from flattery. All she can think of are Finn’s words—the idea that someone as tall and handsome and unquestionably, unconsciously sexual as Ben Solo could be happy in a relationship with no sex… that he might expect that of her, hope that she could… but Rey can’t, she just isn’t programmed that way. And she’s getting ahead of herself, too; all he’s asked her is to go out for a drink, he hasn’t proposed sexless marriage to her, for chrissake—
Rey lowers her head back down to her knees, mind racing.
“But you don’t have to,” Ben continues, and the hurt is evident in his voice. “It would be as co-workers, of course. I wouldn’t—”
“I looked at your phone,” Rey blurts out.
She winces. Somehow, the confession is easier to say when she’s got her eyes closed and she’s hiding her face. Otherwise, she just knows the way he’d be staring at her.
“I… a few days ago, you left it unlocked on the counter, and I…”
“You looked at my phone?” Ben says, incredulous, still processing the abrupt mood shift. “What did you…?”
“I didn’t mean to,” Rey protests, from behind her hands. “I mean, I did mean to, but I—you were just such a mystery to me, and I wanted to know more about you, so I picked up your phone and… and it was unlocked, and I thought, maybe I could learn a little bit more about… who you were—it was wrong, I know it was wrong…”
Ben clears his throat.
Slowly, Rey lifts her head. She can barely meet his gaze, but when she does, it’s hurt, shock, embarrassment, desperation, all wrapped up in one curious, questioning expression. Rey feels like utter and complete shit.
“I’m so sorry,” she says. “I never meant to violate your privacy.”
“What did you see?”
“It was just a post on Reddit,” Rey hedges.
Ben’s face gets slightly pale. He looks away from her, straightens out his knee, then bends it again, seemingly unable to figure out what to do with his body at all.
“You know what, let’s just say it was a post, and not worry too much about—”
“Which post was it, Rey?”
“It was on… the big… penis…”
“Oh, of course it was that one—” Ben cuts across her, exasperated, lowering his face into his hands. “Jesus Christ…”
“Ben, I’m so sorry. I will never—”
“I’ve been wanting to ask you out for ages,” Ben says, and Rey abruptly halts her words, swallowing her apology, eyes going wide. “Did you know that? You’re always friendly, and you’re smart, and you smell so fucking nice all the time, and your laugh, and—believe me, that was not how I’d imagined introducing you to that particular face of my personality.”
“I… hadn’t considered that a penis really was an aspect of someone’s… personality,” Rey says, a little breathlessly.
“It is when you’ve got—well, you know where I posted, so, I don’t have to explain it to you.” Ben sounds bitter when he says it, though. Like it’s a genuine problem, having a big penis. Not a thing Rey’s been salivating over for, oh, ever since she put two and two together, and couldn’t stop eyeing the front of Ben’s jeans.
“Maybe you do have to explain it to me,” Rey says. “Because, Ben, if you had asked me out… I would’ve said yes.”
“Really?” He sounds surprised.
Rey nods. But she still feels utterly miserable.
“I don’t blame you if you don’t, now, though,” she says, picking at a loose thread at the cuff of her sweater’s sleeve. “I violated your trust. I can understand if you—”
“You could’ve just asked me,” Ben says, quietly.
“About your penis?” Rey says, her voice rising in pitch, eyebrows going up.
“No,” Ben says, and his face actually flushes, his hand wiping on the knee of his jeans. “Asked me… what I was into. What I liked, and disliked… I would’ve told you.”
The pair of them look at each other. Rey doesn’t know if its an apology, or a truce, or an appraisal.
“I’m so sorry,” she says again—because it still feels like she has to. “I didn’t have any right to break your trust.”
“I… I’m embarrassed, but I’m not angry,” he says, quietly, looking down at his hands in his lap. “Not as much as I should be, I guess.”
“I guess that means I can ask you some questions in return…” Ben says, looking up at her with… is that a glint in his eye? “Y’know, to level the playing field.”
“Ask away,” Rey says, more confidently than she feels. “Whatever you want to know. I’ll tell you the truth.”
“Alright,” Ben says. His gaze is… curious, but guarded.
She watches as he lowers his gaze down to his hands, watches, as he uses the tip of one thumbnail to push back the opposite thumb’s cuticle, considering.
“Have you… what did you think about that post… after you looked at it?”
Rey swallows. “I thought… how was it a problem?”
“And did you look at any other posts, Rey?”
She can’t met his gaze. “I saw that you… you’d posted something, about dating without having sex—and my friend, Finn, he’s my best friend, and he’s ace as well, and I would never judge you for that, or out you, or anything—”
“Seriously, it’s totally fine that you aren’t interested in sex, that’s—”
“Rey, hold on,” Ben almost laughs at this, but his brows are still drawn together in confusion. “You read my posts and thought I was asexual?”
“It’s really fine,” Rey ploughs ahead, trying to reassure him that she isn’t a judgemental asshole—just a regular, phone-sneaking asshole. “You don’t have to explain it to me.”
“I’m pretty sure I do.”
Rey’s mouth snaps shut. Slowly, Ben extends his leg out, spreading his legs a little wider. Rey can’t not look between them, at the prominent bulge there. She tries, oh how she tries, to look away.
“Since you’ve already looked at my posts, and drawn your own conclusion, let me go ahead and enlighten you,” Ben says, his voice turning faintly bitter and shadowed with dejection. “I can’t have a sexual relationship with a woman—and yes, I am interested in women, and I am interested in sex—because the first and only time I tried to have sex, I... hurt her.”
What the hell else can she say to that?
“Things didn’t…” he sighs. “I have to be okay with it. It is what it is. And… I guess, now you know.”
Rey keeps her mouth shut. All she can think is… how tragic it is, that this beautiful specimen of a man had such an awful first sexual experience that he won’t even consider trying again. With her. Right now.
She clears her throat. “Do you want to talk about what happened? Since we’re already crossing the conversation event horizon here, and we might be locked in here forever?”
Ben laughs, mirthlessly. “I was seventeen. She was in my grade. I worked up the courage to take her to prom, and she… well, she was pretty clear about what she wanted, after. She’d stolen her dad’s credit card, and got us a room at the motel down the road. I drove.”
Rey hugs her knees a little tighter, both amazed that he’s actually sharing what must be a deeply personal memory and befuddled by the concept of Ben Solo as a seventeen-year-old.
“We got to the room. She took her dress off, and… we fooled around, for a bit,” he says, eyes flicking up to Rey’s. “She let me put my mouth on her; I liked that. I liked that a lot, actually.”
Rey presses her thighs together, a sudden flush of arousal pooling at her core. It’s no use; she can’t not imagine Ben Solo’s lovely, plush mouth, covering her pussy. His eyes, looking up at her from between her legs.
“But when she got the pants of my tux down, she…” Ben laughs, softly, and shakes his head. “I can’t believe I’m telling you about this.”
“Y-you don’t have to,” Rey stumbles over herself, trying to reassure him. They’re co-workers, and this is wildly inappropriate, but inappropriate doesn’t seem to matter much, trapped in this little chamber of big-dicked secrets.
“Anyway,” Ben says. “She was small. Like… you.”
Rey narrows her eyes at him. “I’ll have you know I’m tall for a woman.”
“No, I know, I like y— your height is fine, it’s great , I—”
“Did she not return the favor?” Rey asks. In for a penny, in for a pound, she thinks. In a manner of speaking. “Did she at least… give you... head?”
His cheeks flush. He shakes his head. “No. She said I was too big for her mouth.”
Rey can’t contain the groan of need that she lets out on her next exhale. This is more than just a casual conversation, but it’s also not flirting, either. This is something else entirely. She hugs her knees even tighter.
“Well, that’s just sad,” Rey says softly. And she thinks: I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge.
Ben swallows, and just looks at her.
One of his hands moves down, unbidden, adjusting the bulge in his jeans.
Fuck, Rey thinks. What the hell is going on? Is there freaky sex-pollen mold growing in the walls of this building? Is this one of the side effects of asbestos? She tries to discreetly lick her lips, and fails.
“What happened?” Rey asks him.
“I tried to get inside of her,” Ben says, practically whispering the words. “The condom… she said it was okay, she was on the pill, but I was still scared… I was so scared, I didn’t want to hurt her. But she said she’d done this before, and I… I didn’t know, so I just…”
His voice trails off.
Rey definitely is not going to press him for details.
“I’m so sorry that happened,” she says, after the silence grows stale and sad. “My first time wasn’t so great, but wasn’t that dreadful. The next time... with the next partner... got better.”
“I know, believe me, it’s not the first time I’ve heard that, but—”
“If you’re not ready, then you’re not ready,” Rey says. “And nobody should pressure you. But…”
He arches an eyebrow at her. “But, what?”
How big is it?
Can I see?
We don’t have an HR department, but I’ll report myself to somebody for the things I’ve been thinking and saying and imagining—
“Nothing,” Rey says. “I’m sorry, again, truly sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“Yeah, because I’ll put a passcode on my phone,” Ben says, dry and teasing—but still clearly wounded. He’s bared part of himself to her—emotionally, that is.
Rey wants to laugh, or cry, or leave the fucking room. Literally anything but remain trapped here with him, like this. Maybe she’ll quit her job. Change her name. Enter the witness protection program. That’s a thing, right?
Then, without warning, the single bulb overhead flickers, and goes out.
“Shit,” Rey says.
Now every bit of distraction that had been in place, keeping her from freaking out about being trapped and enclosed and contained, that, too fizzes out, just like the light. She can already feel herself start to panic.
“Are you okay?” Ben says. Like he knows her heart is racing. Even though he can’t possibly hear it from across the room—no matter how tiny the room is.
Rey nods, then remembers, he can’t see her. “I’m fine. I’ll be fine. It’s okay.”
“Come here, Rey,” Ben says. “If you think it would help you, I mean—”
But she’s moving to his side of the room before he can even finish that sentence. It’s a shameful secret that Rey’s always been a cuddler. A bit clingy—that’s what her past boyfriends had said. But she can’t help it. She nestles in against her co-worker’s warmth, his broad, flannel-covered body, and she breathes him in, shamelessly.
“Are you... claustrophobic?” he asks, gently, once she finally relaxes a bit against him.
“No. I just… don’t like closed spaces.”
“How is that—?”
“It sounds better,” Rey says. And then, more sheepishly: “I know it’s crazy.”
Rey smiles softly at his low, reassuring voice.
“I really am sorry,” she says. “You’re being so nice to me, and you don’t have to be.”
“You can stop apologizing now.” Ben’s voice is all rumbly and lovely, just as lovely as she’d maybe-definitely imagined it would be; he doesn’t sound bitter or accusatory, although, by all rights, he should be. “I mean, it is all out there on the internet, anyone could find it.”
“That’s true,” Rey replies, to his chest. “But only people who know you’re KyloRen.”
“Hmm,” Ben says, by way of acknowledgement.
She curls against him, listening to his muffled heartbeat. It, like the rest of him, is strong and solid and steady. Rey gives in, and burrows closer. For lack of anywhere better to put her hands, Rey lets them trail down the front of his chest, aiming to put them in his lap—not realizing, until her left hand brushes something unmistakable, straining beneath the denim—what she’s done.
“Shit,” Rey says, and her hand recoils, like she’s just touched a hot stove.
Except… it’s not a hot stove. Oh no.
It’s a dick.
“Oh,” she says—because what the hell else can you say when your hand has felt the physical embodiment of the eggplant emoji? Nothing. The answer is, nothing.
And Ben grunts a little—not pain, not exactly. It’s low and needy and like she’s summoned the sound from his throat, like something he has no control over at all.
“If you apologize again—”
His voice cracks on the last word, the threat left hanging in the air precisely the way an anvil doesn’t.
Rey feels like… like maybe she should pull away right now. Go back to the other side of the tiny storage room, find some other way to manage her fears, and pretend like this never happened. Fuck. The amount of things she now has to pretend that never happened is rapidly filling the mental equivalent of a George R. R. Martin novel. There’s no way on Westeros she’s going to forget the feel of his dick beneath his jeans.
“I—I do want sex, in a relationship,” he says, voice transmuted into a low, almost feral purr. “I want sex so badly, Rey. I think about it—all the time.”
“Oh?” is all she can manage.
She does not move away. If anything, her hands curl into his flannel shirt, and she maybe whimpers a little at the sound of his voice and the way his throat moves when he swallows and the smell of him, christ, the smell—
“I think about it—with you.” The admission sounds guilty, like he’s just confessed to something profane and unholy, something he needs to apologize for. “But—”
“I think about that too,” Rey says, her voice suddenly dry, words tumbling out like stones from a child’s pocket. “N-not having sex with myself, that would be weird, I mean, sex with… with you. I think about it.”
It’s all he says, all he can say. His throat has gone dry, too, from the sound of it. Rey’s heart is racing, and it isn’t from fear. It’s from a strange, charged alchemy that has entrapped them both, something that has woven through her veins and ensnared her in a haze of need and lust and desperation. Distantly, shamefully, she realizes—she’s wet.
“But I can’t,” Ben says, and it’s almost a sob.
“No, Ben, no—” The thought that this big, strong, tree of a man is—he’s crying, or very near to it. That just won’t do. “No, you—I want that, I mean. If you—we—”
“I wouldn’t ever want to hurt you,” he says—but the arm that’s wrapped around her waist tightens, and he dips lower, nosing at the crown of her hair, breathing her in. “I couldn’t take that chance. So… it just… has to be like that.”
“It doesn’t,” Rey says, her voice as soft as a gentle caress of the wind. “Let me show you.”
He lets out a breath, one long, slow, shuddering breath.
And his next words are almost, almost too faint for her to hear.
But she hears them.
“Touch me,” is all he says.
And Rey obeys.
Her hand finds its way to his dick again, drawn as if magnetized—dickmetized, is that a word? Doesn’t matter—to his straining flesh. He groans, and exhales again as her hand covers the shape of him, rubbing gently at first, then a bit more firmly, up and down his length.
Up and down is right; Rey feels like she might need to get her visa updated, there’s just so damn much of him to travel across. But she just rubs him like that, feeling the way he holds her to his side, feeling each slow, shaking exhale, each sharp inhale, learning his body.
Eventually, though, it’s not enough.
Her hand goes to his fly, and she works each button down, Ben shifting his hips, allowing her to touch, to investigate freely.
Under the denim, the jersey fabric is hot from the furnace of his body. She rubs his length again, through the fabric of his… Rey’s tentatively going to go with boxer-briefs, because (a) he seems like a boxer-briefs kind of guy and (b) it doesn’t fucking matter because: Penis. With the first stroke of her hand on his cock he lets out a high, needy whine—desperate and unsteady.
“You could come, just like this,” Rey marvels, softly, as she strokes him. “Couldn’t you.”
“Yes,” he says. And then, as her hand travels up his shaft again: “ Yesyesyes Rey, please—”
“Ben,” is all Rey can manage to reply. She says his name like it’s permission, like it’s acceptance.
Like it’s everything.
Her little hand frees him from the jersey fabric—not through any flap, because it’s dark and she can’t find it and her urgency is matched only by his right now—but just by tugging the whole waistband of his underwear down, and working his cock free. The first contact of her skin on his dick makes him gasp—and she does as well. He feels hot and hard, smooth skin like warm velvet over a thick and sturdy shaft that she can’t get her entire hand around. It feels like he keeps himself neat down there, or maybe just isn’t naturally prone to a crazy full bush. Rey works her other hand out from behind his body and uses it, too, gripping his dick and stroking him, grateful that she doesn’t have to fight through Jumanji to get to him. His noises with each movement are incredible; the darkness seems to magnify every single sound, every hitch of his breath, every swipe of his wet tongue across his lips, every faint growl in the base of his throat.
Rey is so turned on she probably can’t remember her own middle name at this point, but she thinks back to the pain in his voice when he’d told that story, the longing, when he’d spoken of wanting her, and she decides right then and there that she is going to do everything in her power to make Ben Solo come so hard he ruptures the fabric of space-time.
Without another word, she moves from his side, and kneels between his extended legs.
“What are you—?”
Rey moans, and guides the head of his dick into her mouth. It’s, predictably, huge, but not too big that she can’t put her mouth on it, making his hips buck and his voice cry out in unrestrained bliss and need.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck—” he’s chanting, already almost completely undone. “Rey, Rey— ”
Rey, who has learned that it’s quite impolite to talk with her mouth full, simply hums around his dick, and laps at the underside of it, feeling her grip pull back the foreskin from the sensitive glans. She can’t really get him very far into her mouth, but she can make him make noises like that, and really, that’s all that matters. She licks at him and makes wet, utterly obscene sucking sounds as she uses her own saliva and his precome to work his cock with her hands, slick and filthy with each stroke.
Rey, mouthing at the underside of his cock like it was a melting ice cream cone on a sunny day, very quickly goes back up to attend to the head. His thighs are tight with restraint on either side of her own, and his hand comes up, raking through her hair, feeling her face, cupping the curve of her jaw, tracing the shape of her as she sucks and moves like can’t quite believe she’s real, and—
“Fuck—” he grinds out, and Rey positions her mouth above him, encircling him with her lips just in time to catch his spend. Is this an ‘I’m sorry for looking on your phone’ swallow? Or is it a ‘You really ought to have a good experience to make up for that awful one’ swallow? Or is it simply that Rey loves hearing him make those fucking noises, loves the taste of him, loves the power of feeling him come utterly undone, loves his hand on her face, such a tender thing, here in the near-sacred darkness.
Answer: E, All of the above.
His orgasm shudders on and on and on, a growl of near disbelief, a sharp inhale, a sound of low gratitude—it’s beautiful, and precious to her, to hear him be so vulnerable. Rey swallows down his come and slows her hands, slackening her grip, leaning back on her heels just a little to lap every few, lazy moments at his oversensitive, spent head.
He can’t seem to speak.
His hand slowly traces her face, though, as if in disbelief. Rey makes a soft, content noise, and tilts her head to let his palm cradle her cheek. His hands are so big, she thinks; he’s proportional, almost absurdly so, and if the lights were on I could—
Keys jangle ominously in the hallway, outside of their storage room.
“Oh shit,” Rey says.
Ben doesn’t have to say anything at all.
She rocks back, scrambling across the room to where the door is, wiping at her mouth, and wiping her hands on her jeans as she heard the sound of the keys once more, followed by—footsteps.
“I think someone’s here!”
Rey sincerely hopes that Ben has found a way to reel in his utterly absurd firehose dick before their door opens; from the sound of it, he, too is getting to his feet.
“Hey!” Rey says, banging her fists on the door. “We’re in here!”
It’s Hux, she realizes. It’s their boss—and they absolutely cannot get caught like this. The enormity of the situation—as opposed to Ben’s dick—suddenly dawns on her.
“Are you… decent?” Rey stage-whispers to Ben, wherever he is in the pitch-black room.
“Yes,” he says, and his reply is low and sated and much, much closer to her than she’d assumed.
“Good,” Rey says. “We can talk… we can talk about that later, alright?”
And then, to the door: “We’re locked in! Back here, in the storage—”
Hux opens the door, and Rey just about goes tumbling out mid-sentence.
“Are you two alright?” Hux’s flashlight-illuminated frame stands before them in the back hallway, which is very nearly as dark as the rest of the shop, save for the light striping by from passing cars’ headlights. The whole shop is out of power.
“Yes,” Rey says.
“We weren’t in there for, ah, very long,” Ben says, clearing his throat.
Oh, it was plenty long enough, Rey thinks, before she can stop herself.
“Well, that’s good.” Hux, who is shining the flashlight down at their feet, and mercifully not at their faces, gestures up at the front of the shop. “Well, you two can head on home I suppose. Hopefully it’s not too thick to see your way out; I only brought the one torch.”
“Oh, it’s not too thick,” Rey says, her voice rising in pitch at the innuendo that only Ben will understand. “It’s—the right amount of thick, I would say. I can… feel my way out. To the door, I mean.”
“I’d like that,” Ben says—utterly nonsensically. “I mean—thanks. How did you know we were—”
“You didn’t clock out on your time cards,” Hux replies, primly and obliviously. “And then the alarm system sent an alert—I have them all sent to my phone, you know—that the power had gone out. Apparently some idiot ran their car into a power pole two blocks away.”
“Oh,” Rey exclaims, navigating her way past the boxes of books and out towards the main aisle of the bookstore, the taste of Ben’s come still on her mouth. “That’s… awful.”
“Hope they’re okay,” Ben says, and he’s just as unconvincing as she is, following right behind her. “That’s so dangerous, just… ramming that right in there.”
“Hmm,” Hux says.
Rey and Ben head for the front, grabbing their coats, bags, keys, and heading for the front door.
Normally, Rey would take the bus to her apartment, but this late—how late is it, she neither knows nor cares at this point—she would have to walk home.
There’s no question, though, when Ben reaches down and holds her hand in his, that she isn’t going to be walking home tonight. She isn’t even going home tonight. She might not ever be able to walk after tonight, come to think of it.
Rey follows him out to his car, the only one besides Hux’s in the gravel side parking lot. She lets him open the passenger-side door for her, and she slips into the seat of his black some kind of car that she doesn’t fucking care about, because it smells like him inside, and the seats are leather, and she’s… she’s going to his place tonight, and neither of them have to say a fucking thing, they just know.
Ben closes the door behind her, and walks around the back of his car, boots crunching softly on the gravel. She hears him open his door, then, and looks up at him as he sits down behind the wheel.
“Yes,” is all she says.
It’s all she has to say.
Ben nods, and puts the key in the ignition. It takes him several tries, because he’s staring at her face when he tries it—and boy if that’s not a metaphor for something—but then he gets it, and the engine rumbles to life.
He pulls out of the parking lot, turns on his turn signal, and glides out smoothly into the night.