“What do you want for dinner tonight?” Ben called into the bedroom as he peered into the fridge.
“You’re on your own,” his girlfriend called back out to him. “I’m meeting the girls at The Cantina, remember?”
“Oh, right,” he muttered. “It’s Monday.”
Ben hated Mondays. More precisely, Ben hated Monday nights. After spending an entire weekend wrapped up in his girlfriend, Rey, he not only had to separate himself from her all day as they both went off to their respective jobs but also to her hobby. Writing.
It wasn’t that Ben wasn’t supportive of Rey’s creative outlet. He thought she possessed raw talent and encouraged her repeatedly to seek out a publisher. Each time he did, though, Rey just laughed and told him, “Maybe one day.” For now, she was content to write Black Diamond fanfiction with her girlfriends each Monday night.
Which meant she went out and he was left home.
Each week it was the same. Rey breezed out the door all smiles and sunshine and came back with a counter in her step and a broad grin. Meanwhile, Ben brooded at home, counting down the minutes until she returned.
But all that was about to change because tonight he had plans.
Per Rey’s suggestion, he was going to have a Guy’s Night In. Only instead of drinking beer and playing Destiny 2, he was enlisting Hux, Poe, and Finn to help him infiltrate their girl’s Discord server. He wanted to know what was so compelling about the online group that kept his girlfriend attached to her phone and practically sprinting out the door every Monday.
“There are some leftovers in there,” Rey offered as she entered the kitchen. “I can put them in the oven for you before I head out.”
“It’s okay,” Ben told her. “I think we’re going to order in. You know how much Poe likes to eat.”
“I do,” she replied with a smile, as she finished putting her earrings on.
Ben wanted to ask why she needed to get dressed up to meet up with her girlfriends but he didn’t. If his plan worked out, he’d find out soon enough. And Rey would never have to know.
“Love you,” she told him, rising to her tiptoes to kiss him goodbye. “See you later?”
“See you later,” he returned. “Be safe. Love you.”
Rey gave him a wave and strolled out of the apartment. Ben waited, listening to the sound of her steps drifting further and further away. When she hit the elevator, he sprinted into the living room, leaping over the couch to grab his headset.
“Commander, are you there? This is Supreme Leader.”
The connection filled with a round of laughter. “I can’t believe you are still using that name,” Poe snorted.
“He’s a fierce warrior,” Ben defended his character.
“He’s a stubborn bastard just like you,” Hux scoffed.
“You should talk, General Hugs,” Poe drawled.
“Watch it, Dameron,” Hux shot back.
“Hey guys, are we going to play or what?” Finn asked.
“We’re not playing anything,” Ben reminded them. “Are the girls gone?”
“Paige left five minutes ago,” Poe confirmed.
“Phas is off,” Hux agreed.
“Rose is just pulling out of the driveway,” Finn said.
“Good,” Ben responded. “Scavenger left the base a couple of minutes ago.”
“Dude, are we really going to talk about the girls in code?” Poe questioned.
“Do you want to explain to them what we did tonight?” Ben demanded.
“Phas would murder me in my sleep,” Hux admitted.
“You’re so whipped.” Finn chuckled.
“Oh, yeah, like you’re not?” Hux quipped. “At least I’m not scared of my fiancee and her sister.”
“Paige is scary but Rose — when she’s mad — man, is she terrifying,” Finn confessed.
“Get it together,” Ben ordered. “Are you all set to come over here?”
“Sure thing, Supreme Leader,” Poe replied. “Commander signing off!”
“How does Paige put up with him?” Hux grumbled.
“You mean Bomber?” Finn reminded him.
“Right, Bomber, whatever,” Hux groused. “Solo, you come up with the stupidest names.”
“Thanks, Hugs,” Ben replied sarcastically.
He ended the voice call, running his palm over his face. This wasn’t going to go the way he thought it would.
Ben met Rey in college. They’d been in the same Art History class, one of the few options Takodana University offered for a Humanities credit.
He remembered the first time he saw her, sitting in the front, chewing on the tip of her pen cap as she thought through a problem. One second, she was pensive and quiet and the next she cheered and began scribbling down dozens of illegible notes and doodles. She didn’t care about the quizzical stares people shot her. She was too focused on her latest project.
Rey was unlike anyone he’d met before. She was confident, talented, and optimistic to a fault.
Ben fell in love with her instantly.
It took him months to work up the courage to ask her out. When he finally decided to make a move, she beat him to it. Rey invited him to her dorm’s Holiday send-off party. She dressed in a Santa-red dress complete with a white fur-lined hat and black-as-coal boots. Ben nearly swallowed his tongue.
Later, when she dragged him under the mistletoe for a kiss, he knew it was all over. This fiery, whirlwind of a girl was it. She was the one.
They’d been together ever since that night. He was there when she was awarded by the local WIT chapter for her sophomore engineering project. She took care of him when he got the flu the fall of junior year, staying with him even though he worried about getting her sick as well. They went to the senior Send-off Gala together and that night, while they were dancing, Ben asked her to move in with him.
He leased a modest apartment in downtown Batuu, close to both their offices — his at First Order Consulting and hers at Resistance Tech. They’d been living together for three months and things were perfect.
Well, almost perfect.
Ben had always struggled with change and this was no exception. After spending nearly every waking minute with Rey in college, having to spend eight hours a day separated from her felt like a lifetime. She felt it too.
Rey instated Friday night date nights each week. They had a Mason jar filled with popsicle sticks and they took turns pulling out their date night activity. Last Friday, Ben selected breakfast for dinner, which ended with them both covered in flour and eating a mountain of pancakes.
But Rey felt separate from their friends too. So along with Friday date nights came Thirsty Thursdays with their whole gang and Margarita Mondays with her gal pals. Thursday’s were fine since Ben still spent the evening with his girlfriend but Monday’s...
Monday’s were the bane of his existence.
And they were going down.
Poe, Finn, and Hux arrived with two pizzas and a case of beer. When they knocked on his door, they were debating whether the code names Ben chose for their significant others were accurate. He ushered them inside, shaking his head at their antics. He was confident in his selection.
Paige Tico, Poe’s wife, aka Bomber was an ex-Air Force pilot who now taught women’s self-defense at the local gym. She had an explosive personality and a fierce protective streak when it came to her baby sister.
Rose Tico, Finn’s fiancée, aka Bitey was a bubbly petite woman who was only rivaled by Rey in the number of smiles she could generate. However, like Rey, you did not want to get on her dark side. An angry Rose Tico was someone you definitely wanted to avoid. Case and point, one time she bit Hux for mocking her.
Phasma, Hux’s partner (they didn’t use endearing nicknames or societal terms such as girlfriend or boyfriend), was a corporate lawyer who commanded the attention of the entire company. Ben dubbed her Captain.
Finally, there was Rey, who he had affectionately referred to as Scavenger since he caught her hoarding snacks in her dorm freshman year.
The guys could disagree all they wanted, but he stood by his code names.
“Alright, so explain to me again why we’re spying on the girls?” Finn questioned as they sat around Ben’s kitchen table.
“Remember last week when Rose made that remark about that Black Diamond fanfic she read?” Ben asked. Finn nodded. “Do you recall what she said?”
“Yeah,” Finn replied sheepishly.
“That’s why,” Ben stated firmly. “Rey is the same and I’ll bet you two noticed Phasma and Paige spending more and more time on their phones, haven’t you?” he inquired, staring down Hux and Poe.
“Phasma has been a little...distant,” Hux confessed.
“Paige is satisfied,” Poe retorted proudly.
Hux snorted in disbelief and Finn rolled his eyes. Ben merely sat and waited. He knew they all had the same problem he did.
“Fine,” Poe eventually mumbled. “Paige gave me some...feedback.”
“Feedback!” Finn howled, clapping his hands together.
“So much for being satisfied,” Hux chuckled.
Ben allowed himself to smirk but quickly refocused.
“It all started when the girls joined that Black Diamond server,” he pointed out. “All of a sudden they started following that Adam Sackler guy on social media and Polo-ing each other at all hours of the night to gush over his latest films.”
The other three were silent for a minute as they thought about his observation. Hux spoke first.
“You’re right,” he agreed.
“If I have to spend another night watching that man on my TV screen, I’m going to need more than a beer,” Poe groused.
“Dude, I’m past the beer stage,” Finn remarked.
“We all are. That’s why we’re here,” Ben informed them. “We’re going to join the server.”
Hux spit out his beer, showering the others. “What?” he sputtered in disbelief.
Ben handed out dish towels to his friends, glaring at the redhead. “We’re going to make up screen names and join their server, find out what they talk about, what’s so special about this guy and the fanfiction they read.”
“Why?” Poe queried, wiping down the front of his shirt.
“Because I don’t want to spend another Monday night alone,” Ben answered. “So are you in?”
“Yeah,” Finn cheered. “Let’s get the girls back.”
“Guys, what is knotting?” Finn asked.
“Knotting? Must be a typo. They probably meant knitting,” Poe suggested.
“Why would there be a subcategory for knitting fics?” Finn pushed back.
Hux shrugged. “They’re girls. They like to craft.”
Ben groaned inwardly. They were an hour into their infiltration and so far the only thing they had learned was that the girls were very creative and very inappropriate. He was glad Rey did all her writing activities on her own devices. He was worried about what kind of Google Ads would appear on his laptop if he wrote half the stuff she did.
“What does AU stand for again?” Hux inquired.
“Alternate Universe,” Ben answered.
“Right, well there are a huge number of Ignite That AU’s.” Hux turned his tablet around for the group to see.
“Isn’t that the play the girls went to see in April?” Poe asked, eyebrows raised in suspicion. “The one Adam Sackler was featured in?”
“Yes,” Ben confirmed tersely.
He clicked through the different channels, skimming through the participant comments until he came across one called “Dungeon Dwellers.”
Ben entered the room and immediately felt his face flush. Eggplant emojis, naked gifs of Adam Sackler, and reviews of the best vibrators you could buy online assaulted him. He chugged the rest of his beer.
Poe stared at him quizzically then came over to see what had Ben so stunned.
“What is it?” Finn questioned.
“Nothing,” Ben replied hastily.
“I want to see,” Hux demanded, stopping Ben from lowering his screen.
The four men gaped at the explicit content on Ben’s laptop.
Finn was the first one to break the silence. “What the fuck?!?”
“This! This is what they’re doing on Margarita Mondays!” Hux shouted, his face caught between fury and embarrassment.
“That one looks like fun,” Poe pointed to one of the five-star vibrators.
“Dude!” Finn smacked his hand away from the screen. “This is serious.”
“I know,” Poe said with a wink. “It’s giving me ideas for when Paige gets home.”
“Keep those ideas to yourself, Dameron,” Hux snapped.
“What’s this?” Ben asked, brow furrowing in confusion as a notification popped up on the middle of his screen.
ScavengerKira92 invited you to Devoted Diamonds.
The others leaned in.
“Is that Rey?”
Ben swallowed nervously. “Yeah.”
“Click it!” Poe urged, grabbing Ben by his shoulder and shaking him.
Ben opened the invitation and found himself in a different server. Rey was there, along with Rose, Paige, Phasma, and a handful of other members.
On the main channel, Ben’s made-up username — KirasKylo83 — was highlighted with a welcome message.
Immediately, his computer began chiming as the other members greeted him, including his girlfriend.
ScavengerKira92: @KirasKylo83 What did you think of the new teaser?
Ben stared at the cursor blinking on his screen, the text box as empty as his mind.
“Say something!” Finn cried.
“I don’t even know what she’s talking about!” Ben yelled.
“Here, here.” Poe shoved his phone in front of Ben’s face, where a video was playing.
The latest film in the Black Diamond series was set to premiere in roughly four months and they had released new content. Ben watched, frozen as the all-too-familiar cast moved through the scenes paired with dramatic music and a chilling voice-over.
KirasKylo83: I cannot wait.
“Don’t type that!” Hux snarled, slapping Ben’s hands away from his keyboard. “Here, let me.”
KirasKylo83: OMFG!!!! Can’t wait!!!
“What the fuck is that?” Ben roared.
“That’s how they talk in these things,” Hux insisted.
A second later, a chime confirmed he was right.
ScavengerKira92: I’m such a huge AS Stan. He kinda looks like my boyfriend.
“What? What the hell does that mean?” Ben seethed.
Poe snorted then bent over howling. “Oh man! This is too good.”
“What?” Hux asked. He was as clueless as Ben.
“Rey thinks you look like Adam Sackler!” Poe shrieked with laughter.
Hux openly stared and Finn glanced between the screen and Ben as if trying to assess if Rey’s opinion was true.
“You’re alright, I guess,” Hux muttered, “but he’s an international film star and you’re...well, not.”
“Thanks, Hux,” Ben grumbled.
KirasKylo83: I’m sure he’s better looking than AS
ScavengerKira92: He is
ScavengerKira92: I love him, even if he hates when I drag him to all the movies
Ben smiled victoriously. Hux could go pound sand. His girl loved him more than that goofball actor.
Curiosity sated, the others returned to their seats and their research.
ScavengerKira92: I just wish sometimes he was a little more educated, you know?
Wait, what? His smirk fell away.
ScavengerKira92: hahaha sorry tmi
Ben’s fingers moved faster than his brain.
KirasKylo83: he doesn’t take care of you?
ScavengerKira92: he does!
ScavengerKira92: I just wish sometimes he’d be a little more inventive or proactive
ScavengerKira92: if I wasn’t such as chicken shit I’d tell him to read Black Diamond fanfiction
ScavengerKira92: I think a lot of guys could learn something from the fandom’s wealth of smut
Wealth of smut
“Uh, guys?” Finn looked like he’d seen a ghost. “You know how we thought knotting was a typo?”
“Yeah,” they replied as a collective.
“Not a typo,” Finn said, turning his screen around. On his display was a very intimidating, very graphic rendering of what the term meant.
Ben felt himself overheating. His plan had backfired. He’d seen too much.
Far too much.
And yet, he couldn’t look away.
He opened a link for a story Rey had recommended to the group and began reading.
He blinked several times to clear his bleary vision. Slowly, his girlfriend’s face came into focus.
She smiled. “Hey, big guy. How was your night?”
“Huh?” He glanced around, taking in the dozens of empty beer bottles scattered around the apartment.
Had they really drank that much? After Finn discovered the ABO trope, things had gone downhill fast. Ben had read four complete stories just to cleanse his palette.
“Sorry about the mess,” he murmured apologetically. “The guys were supposed to help me.”
Ben checked the floor, only to find all three of his friends passed out in various locations.
“Come on,” Rey said, hugging him around the waist. “Let’s get you to bed.”
“M’kay,” he agreed sleepily.
As he closed his eyes, he saw himself as Kylo looming over Rey, who was Kira, telling her that she’d give him whatever he wanted. He decided to try that one.
Once he was sober.
“So,” Phasma drawled the following Monday. “Did it work?”
“Oh, I think so,” Rey smirked.
“Definitely,” Paige agreed.
“I’m certainly happy.” Rose blushed until her cheeks matched the color of her namesake.
“Cheers, ladies!” Phasma tipped her margarita toward her friend’s’ glasses. “Who said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?”