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go-go geisha & photoshop

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“Can you please stop playing that?” Finn screeches as he paces around the room frantically, his Italian leather shoes creating a distinct ‘click-clack’ sound that is in time with the music.

 

Rey does not stop playing that. Sondheim’s music is a gift to the world. Company is a brilliant musical. And is there ever a more appropriate time to play ‘(not) getting married’ than on your best friends wedding day?

 

No, Rey thinks not.

 

“Honey. Rey. I love Sondheim, you know I do. But please, I beg you, any other of his songs,” Finn pleads his voice steadily rising in pitch, he’s all puppy dog eyes now and for a brief moment, Rey considers taking pity on him before she is interrupted by a-

 

“Oh, yay! Sondheim,” a deep voice rumbles through the door.

 

God. What was that voice? Rey didn’t think voices like that existed. It’s so deep it’s almost a struggle for the ear to pick up on, soft in volume but powerful enough to create this strange vibrating sensation that pleasantly hums through her body.

 

Rey looks up from where she was carefully chipping off the layer of pale pink polish that coats her nails, brushing aside a small, but sizeable mountain of Essie's ‘go-go geisha’ bits to the floor to identify the source of the voice.

 

She finds it.

 

The source comes in the form of a tall man dressed in navy slacks that were an exact shade of blue that Rey knew Rose spent weeks fussing over, and a black undershirt that was stretched tight across his broad chest and shoulders, practically begging for mercy. His posture is slightly curled, he’s obviously aware of his size - self-conscious about it even- trying to make room for a world that is too small for him.

 

Rey realizes she’s been staring at him for too long for it not to be noticeable.

 

Fuck it, she thinks as she begins to study his face.

 

He is not handsome.

 

Well, he is but not in the way that one would want to be.

His face is composed of strong features- plush lips, sharp aquiline nose, moles scattered around in haphazard artistic manner, a scar that bisects his eyebrow running down the length of his cheek, and honey-brown eyes that were gazing upon her face with open, undisguised curiosity. His face is a patchwork of features that would’ve created dissonance on anyone else’s face but on his create harmony. Not the perfect, four-part harmony that barbershop quartets are so famed for. But harmony nonetheless.

 

Rey blinks.

 

Satisfied with her assessment of his features and too tired of the world to feel ashamed of her blatant stare she juts out her jaw and throws out her hand for a handshake.

 

“Rey Jacobs. Best Woman.”

 

His hand- god could you even call it a hand, it’s more like a paw- engulfs hers and an electric jolt shoots through her, seeming to pass from his fingers to hers.

 

“Ben Solo. Man of Honour.”

 

He glances down at her hand quickly turning it around bringing it close to his face, inspecting it. His breath tickles her fingers and Rey tries to ignore the ensuing shiver that runs down her spine.

 

“What on earth have you done to your manicure?” he looks up suddenly meeting her eye, his sharp gaze accusing.

 

Okay.

 

Rey was not expecting that.

 

“What?” she blurts out with as much elegance as she can muster.

"What. On. Earth. Have. You. Done. To. Your. Manicure.” he repeats slowly as if he was talking to a small child.

 

Rey bristles at the patronizing tone quickly snatching her hand away from his clasp trying to ignore the heat that pools in the pit of her stomach at his deep voice berating her.

 

“And what does it matter to you if I have?” she says defiantly, squaring her shoulders.

 

“I spent days trying to find the right shade of nail polish that would perfectly match the floral decal on the dinner plates,” he explains running his hand through his hair. “Rose was determined to have the nails match the plate...something about it photographing well.”

 

“And you decided on go-go geisha?”

 

“Yes. It’s a pale pink nude in natural light but under a flash, the pink undertone is brought out even more and complements the petals on the plates”. He says all this very quickly as if increasing the tempo of his speech might help him forget the ridiculousness of what he’s just said, a high flush spreading across his cheeks to the tips of his frankly enormous ears which are half-hidden by his hair.

 

“The flash?” her lips quirk up and it’s impossible not to tease him at this moment because he’s so charming and so adorable, how could she not tease him?

 

“Yeah, the flash,” he mumbles, hands fidgeting his index finger stroking the back of his hand lightly, gradually rubbing the thin flesh harder until the skin is slightly red with irritation.

 

Rey knows she should take pity on him but it’s been a while since she’s been able to make someone so uncomfortable with her antics and she’s revelling in this moment because it feels an awful lot like flirting only she’s in control.

 

So she decides to push further. Savour the moment for a little longer.

 

“What, are you a photographer or something?”

 

“No,” he sighs, “I’m kind of in-between jobs at the moment so…” he looks off to the side, frowning slightly. “ I guess I had a lot of time on my hands. To research that kind of stuff.”

 

Rey hums, nodding her head not really knowing how to respond to that.

 

It was tinged with too much mid-life existentialism for Rey to be able to answer. She’s never been good at human interaction, and human vulnerability- too wrapped up in the armour that she’s created for herself to understand how people can unravel themselves so easily, could mention intimate details of their life, even if it was in a passing comment.

 

But she wants to say something. He looks so lost and so young at that moment that she can’t help but feel this urge to comfort him, to reassure him, to say something.

 

Finn cuts in before Rey can come up with a suitable response.

 

“Hey, Ben could you message Rose and ask her where my cufflinks are? I can’t find them anywhere?”

 

Ben dutifully pulls out a slim black caseless phone from his back pocket and quickly taps out a message staring intently at his phone as he waits for a reply.

 

The phone pings and Rey sees Ben try to suppress a smirk as he calmly says “they’re on the dresser,” and Rey sees as he tries to repress that fucking line in ‘(Not) Getting Married’ from bubbling up his throat and escaping those pillowy lips.

 

Rey, unlike Ben, cannot repress that urge.

 

“Right next to her suicide note” she giggles, far too amused by her own antics.

 

Finn lets out a melodramatic groan sinking down in his chair, hand rubbing over his temple.

 

“Rey, I love you. You know I do. But this isn’t what I need right now.”

 

Rey knows Finn is right. And she’s not exactly sure why Finn chose her to be Best Woman. She’s probably the worst person to be in a wedding party. She hates weddings. She doesn’t really know why he didn’t choose Poe to be his Best Man.

 

Except she does.

 

Finn, her best friend since she was 12, who has always been there for her, who is her family, is getting married. And while Rey is happy for him -because she really truly is, nothing makes her happier then seeing him happy and Rose is the loveliest new best friend that Rey could’ve hoped for- feels slightly left out of this new stage in his life.

 

That doesn’t really involve her.

 

And because Finn is her brother and he knows her to the point that it's almost uncomfortable, and he knows how she feels about Finn getting married...he tried to involve her in the wedding planning process as much as possible.

 

So she felt involved.

 

Except she doesn’t because she hates weddings. Despises them. So she resents nearly every minute of involvement in the planning process. Avoided most of the duties. With the exception of cake testing (duh), dance classes (the instructor was cute) and the Best Woman speech. Rey was really looking forward to the Best Woman speech.

 

“Ben, could you please go get those cufflinks for me?” Finn asks, and Ben nodds, tilting his head towards her slightly in salute before spinning on his heels and walking out the door.

 

Rey feels an awkward tension settle in the room between her and Finn and before Finn can open his mouth and lecture her on how ‘they’ll always be family’ and ‘nothing is going to change’ Rey mumbles an “I’ll go help him,” before finally turning off the Sondheim track, scurrying out as quickly as her legs can take her.

 

Ben’s legs are so fucking long, his stride so wide that Rey has to do that awkward run-walk, her stiletto heels making an obnoxious click that makes her cringe with every step. When she finally catches up to him he slows down his gait a little to accommodate hers, turning his head slightly to look down at her, his lips quirked up in a half-smile.

 

“So,” she starts nervously looking at the floor in front of her- she’s never been the best at starting conversations-, “Why is it I’ve only met you now Mr Man of Honour? You’ve obviously helped with the wedding planning a lot. Why haven’t I seen you around at cake testing? Or those dance classes?” she asks, playfully bumping her shoulder into him.

 

“Oh,” he looks slightly surprised at the question, surprised at Rey’s interest and it immediately endears him to her. “I only moved here to Chandrila this week. Well back to Chandrila. I was in Coruscant for work, but then I quit that job and I guess...I missed home. And I didn’t have any reason to stay in Coruscant so I moved back. And there was the wedding,” he gestures randomly before sliding his hand back into his pocket, “But moving wasn’t an easy process as I had hoped so a lot of the wedding planning I did was long-distance.”

 

“Long-distance?”

 

“Yeah, like on facetime. Helping Rose pick out table cloths, fabric swatches, crockery, flower arrangements, and”- he grins down at her, a toothy boyish grin that makes her heart flip- “nail polish colours.”

 

“Right,” she says, nodding. “Go-go geisha.”

 

They come to a stop in front of Roses door and Ben turns his body so he’s facing her directly, “Yeah,” he murmurs his gaze cutting through her, his Adam's apple bobbing as he swallows. “Go-go geisha.”

 

Her therapist told her that she needs to get more comfortable with eye contact so she keeps her gaze on his until he cuts it off with a cough, glancing at the door pushing it open for her, gently guiding her with a hand hovering low behind her back, not touching her but close enough that the warmth of his palm sears through the fabric of her dress and pricks at her skin.

 

“Rey! Ben!” Rose exclaims her already glowing face brightening up with excitement. She makes for a beautiful bride. In her cream silk dress that drapes elegantly off her shoulders, flowing down the length of her body, and with sprigs of baby's breath carefully braided in her hair Rose is a vision.

 

“Rose you’re absolutely stunning,” Rey gushes rushing over to give her a hug.

 

“Thank you,” god her voice is so sweet, it’s almost saccharine and on anyone else, it would be grating but it’s not because Rose is just that nice. She’s caring, fiercely loyal, and witty.

 

No wonder Finn wants to start a new life, a new family with her.

 

“What are you doing here?” Rose asks, tilting her head slightly towards Ben and Rey in question.

 

“Rey’s helping me fetch Finn’s cufflinks,” Ben explains nodding crossing over to the dresser.

 

“Yeah- that,” Rey nods, shifting her feet awkwardly banging the heel of her stilettos together in an arhythmic pattern. Rose stares at her intently, eyes full of understanding and it kills her for a second because even though Rose is her close friend and Finn is her best friend she can’t help but feel that trauma of rejection, as her two best friends begin a new chapter of their life without her.

 

And yeah, maybe she’s being childish but god it hurts.

 

“Rey-” Rose starts before thinking better of it, sighing then smiling softly at her. “You know what Ben?-” she crosses over to Ben gently taking the cufflinks from his hands- “I’ll drop off the cufflinks to Finn.”

 

“Isn’t it bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding?” Rey grumbles in protest. She knows what Rose is going to do when she sees Finn. They'll discuss Rey and her wellbeing and her mental state as if they were her parents even though Rey practically raised herself and she doesn’t need parents, she doesn’t need people.

 

She’s strong and independent and so very tired.

 

And in all fairness, it’s not like Rose and Finn’s worries aren’t warranted. Especially after that last stint, she pulled.

 

“-You could maybe braid Rey’s hair, Ben?”

 

Wait fuck, what? Rey was so lost in the confines of her mind she seemed to miss an essential part of the conversation.

 

“Sure,” Ben agrees amicably. “I’m just going to fix her nails first.”

 

Jesus Christ. It’s not even her day and she feels like she’s the twelve-year-old that’s being passed around adults that are too busy for her. Like a sick game of pass the parcel.

 

“Thanks,” and with that Rose whirls out of the room leaving behind the scent of jasmine and freesia behind her.

 

Now it’s just her and Ben.

 

“I am an adult,” she declares in a very adult tone. “I can take care of myself.”

 

“I know that,” he shrugs walking over to a sparkly pink makeup bag rummaging through until he finds a small pale pink bottle, a victorious cry escaping his lips. “But your nails are offending me right now so please just let me fix them.”

 

Rey likes him. She guesses that he doesn’t know her enough to walk around eggshells with her but that’s what she likes about him. She realises that he's probably read the subtext of Rey's interactions with Rose and Finn and he doesn't look at her differently for it. She appreciates that. So when he sits down next to her and unscrews the white cap of the polish, glancing at her with expectation, she gives him her hand without hesitation allowing him to cradle it in his.

 

The tiny brush looks ridiculous in his ginormous hands but he holds it with an impressive amount of precision, brows furrowed in concentration as he carefully paints her nails fixing the damage that she had done.

 

After he finishes painting her right hand he gently blows on her wet nails, the cool air sending shivers down her spine.

 

He gently lets go of her right hand, exchanging it for her left as he starts talking, his voice taking on an almost monotone quality.

 

“I was working at a corporate law firm in Coruscant. I wasn’t particularly happy. But I didn’t necessarily prioritize happiness, I didn’t see at as an essential part of everyday life. After a while, after the monotonous work, the sheer amount of hours I spent in that office and working with people that I despised and that were just toxic to my wellbeing, I began to lose it. And then one day I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

 

I was driving to work, and I had two phone conversations going on at once. One was a work call from my boss that was Bluetooth connected to my speakers and the other on my personal phone was my mother who I hadn’t talked to in twelve years telling me that my father was in ER for a heart-attack, begging me to come home. I don’t remember much after that but I got in a car crash so that's how I ended up with this,” he explains gesturing to his scar.

 

“I quit my job and decided to move back to Chandrila so I could spend more time with my parents. I couldn’t move back straight away because there was some fucked up things in my contract with my law firm so I had to detangle that mess,” Ben finishes painting her pinky lifting her hand to lightly blow on her nails again.

 

He leans back inspecting his handiwork before continuing, “The wedding planning took my mind off a lot of those things. I really invested myself in this wedding, wanting it to be perfect. And now that the wedding is today, I don’t want it to be over. I spent so much time on this I don’t know what I’m going to do after this,” he confesses with a sad smile.

 

“Why are you telling me this?”

 

“Because I know you were embarrassed by how Rose and Finn were treating you. And I can read between the lines enough and Rose, though she hasn’t told me everything, has told me enough for me to know that their concerns are warranted. I didn’t think it was very fair for me to know that kind of stuff about you and have you not know anything about me. So this is me levelling out the playing field. Can I start on your hair now?”

 

Rey nods mulling over his words as she sits down at the dressing table.

 

She meets his gaze in the mirror, before letting out a soft but firm “thank you.”

 

He nods in acknowledgement a barely-there smile gracing his lips as he gently starts to weave her hair in an intricate braid.

 

“You said you were in between jobs,” she says hesitantly, not wanting to disturb the comfortable silence that has fallen between them. “Any ideas of what the next job might be?”

 

“Ah”- he mumbles around the bobby pin that is clenched between his teeth -“I did the lettering for the wedding invitations and I enjoyed doing that. So I was thinking of starting a calligraphy business. Do invitations and letters and shit.” he says the last bit sheepishly in that way people do when they're trying to gloss over something that they truly care about.

 

“That's so cool,” she said, smiling in encouragement meeting his gaze in the mirror.

 

“Thanks,” he says, briefly breaking their gaze to slide another bobby pin in her hair. “And voila,” motioning to her hair giving it one last spritz of hair spray.

 

She turns her head inspecting the intricate braid that curls around itself into a bun. She touches it softly, before murmuring a “thank you.”

 

She fidgets her with hands, making sure she doesn’t mess up her nails too much before hesitantly asking “Can I paint your nails? Please.”

 

He nods and she picks up the bottle of go-go geisha nervously rolling it between her hands.

 

She isn’t as precise as him. Despite being an engineer, owning a garage in which her nimble strong fingers can work around any tool, her movements are shaky and the majority of the polish pools off onto the skin of his nails but he doesn’t complain. She gently blows on his fingers as he did and as she moves to work on his left hands she starts talking.

 

“I haven’t been sleeping lately. Ever since Rose and Finn got engaged. That wasn’t the cause of the not-sleeping thing but I just started thinking more around that time. And I haven’t stopped thinking since. And,” she starts before stopping herself letting out a humourless laugh.

 

“You don’t have to tell me,” he offers.

 

“No, I want to” she reassures him resuming painting the nail of his index finger with slow steady strokes. “ A month ago I underestimated the power of sleeping pills. I took one too many. It’s not like I was trying to…” she trails off taking in another breath. “I just wanted to sleep. But Rose and Finn understandably didn’t see it that way.”

 

When she finishes screwing the lid back on the bottle of nail polish he takes his hand in hers squeezing it gently.

 

She squeezes back.

 

"You're not alone," he breathes.

"Neither are you."

The air between them is brimming with tension and the moment is broken when Ben's phone pings with a new message on the dressing table. Ben squeezes her hand once more before releasing it, walking over to the dresser to check his phone. He turns his wrist slightly reading the time on his Breitling watch.

 

He sighs, “I have to get changed,” grabbing a starch white dress shirt moving towards the ensuite bathroom. “And then maybe we could find Rose and Finn?” he offers.

 

Rey nods in agreement and as the bathroom door clicks shut she starts mindlessly scrolling through Instagram occasionally double-tapping the screen on a random cat video.

 

Rose had talked about Ben Solo before. And while she always had said nothing but nice things about him... he sounded like a massive prick.

 

One, he was in corporate law.

 

Two, while Rose said he was nice to people he deeply cared about, Rose had said it in that way that people do when they’re carefully choosing their words, in a censored kind of way and Rey read between the lines and understood that to mean ‘if he doesn't like you he's a dick’.

 

And when Rose mentioned a little too casually that Ben is really easy to buy for because he constantly needs new crockery to replace the ones that he smashed, as if that was a normal thing that everybody did, Rey- though she tries hard not judge people, especially strangers- had an inkling that Ben Solo had problems.

 

But the Ben Solo that painted her nails, that braided her hair, talked to her, let her paint his nails. He is not the Ben Solo she expected. He is kind, caring, gentle, compassionate and-

 

Her train of thought is interrupted by a sheepish “Rey?”

 

“Yes?” she responds hesitantly not one hundred per cent sure if she’s hearing things or if Ben is genuinely calling for her.

 

“I need help.”

 

“Help?”

 

“Yes help,” he huffs through the door.

 

“Okay,” she replies not entirely sure of what she was supposed to do.

 

“Can you come in here please?”

 

Rey walks over slowly opening the door and she is confronted by the sight of-

 

Jesus Christ.

 

Ben Solo is shirtless.

 

Her throat goes dry.

 

His skin. God his skin. Delicious, milky, pale skin with moles scattered across his chest, a cluster around his left pec that Rey is itching to trace and play dot-to-dot with. Rey knew he was broad and had an inkling that he was built (that undershirt hid nothing) but the sight of his rippling muscles overwhelms her.

 

“I thought you were getting changed,” she squeaks.

 

“I was but my nails are still wet, I forgot about that,” he says rubbing the back of his neck. “And I can’t do up the buttons without ruining the shirt or the nails...so this is really embarrassing because I’m 34 and I don’t need someone to help dress me,” he takes in a deep breath, and what comes next is pushed out in one breath, a blur of words, a “butwillyoupleasebuttonupmyshirtformeplease?

 

“What?”

 

“Can you please button up my shirt for me please?” he pleads twisting around to avoid her stare frantically trying to find where he put his shirt, finding the hanger which subsequently slips between his nervous fingers clattering on the bathroom tiles with an obnoxious ‘clunk’.

 

If Rey wasn’t so turned on by the sight of him and emotionally vulnerable from their previous conversation, from this whole fucking day, she would’ve found Ben’s clumsy fumble and nerves funny.

 

She probably would’ve laughed.

 

Instead, she squats down to pick up the shirt, shaking out any possible wrinkles and holds it out towards him. She wordlessly slips the sleeves over the hard muscle of his arms, defiantly ignoring the thick veins that run over the length of his forearm, ignoring how the shirt stretches tight around his biceps perfectly framing them.

 

She starts buttoning up his shirt from the bottom up steadily ignoring the trail of course black hair that trails down his stomach, disappearing into the waistband of his pants.

 

As she reaches the halfway point of the buttons, Rey swallows when she realises that his nipples are rock hard, quickly glancing up at him. He meets her gaze with dark heavy eyes and when it just becomes all too much and the room suddenly feels too small she averts her gaze and quickly finishes buttoning up the rest of his shirt.

 

“Tie?” she asks, eyes trained on the floor not brave enough to look anywhere else.

 

He passes her the silk navy tie with pale pink stitching and she can feel his heavy gaze on her.

 

She finally looks up again as she loops the tie around his neck, quickly tying it into a Windsor knot, unable to resist letting her hand linger when she straightens out his collar.

 

“It matches the nail polish,” she notes, her lips quirking up into a smile with the observation as she rubs the silk of the tie between her fingers.

 

“Yeah,” his voice is rough and Rey’s knees go weak because she didn’t expect that tone to have such an effect on her but yeah, it does.

 

It really truly does.

 

She wishes it didn’t because with Rose and Finn moving on with their life what she needs is a friend. And while she has other friends she needs a friend that won’t judge her, won't act as spies for Rose and Finn, that will understand her and so far Ben has fit the bill.

 

But this tension, whatever this tension is between them -or maybe it’s one-sided, Rey’s always been shit with people- it can’t happen.

 

Because Rey doesn’t need a romantic partner. She has a drawer full of purple silicone toys to fulfil those needs. What she needs is a friend. And she isn’t going to ruin whatever great potential friendship she has with Ben because she needs a good fuck.

 

So she drops the tie from her fingers and steps away. And another just for precaution.

 

“We should probably go help Rose and Finn,” her tone is breathy and she immediately wants to kick herself over it.

 

“Okay,” he says so simply in that fucking voice of his that Rey is immediately frustrated by his tone because how can he be talking like that when Rey is such a mess, but all that stress and anxiety melts when his hand settles on her lower back and guides her out the door.

 

And even though she had an inkling earlier, this is when Rey knows for sure that-

 

She is fucked.

 

So utterly, royally fucked.

 

At least she’s not worried about Finn and Rose anymore. Ben Solo has proved to be quite the distraction.

Chapter Text

The doorbell rang insistently a constant monotone beep as Rey twiddled with the back of her earring and repeatedly jabbed her toe in the shoe of her stiletto, trying and failing to multitask. After successfully getting on one shoe and giving up on putting on the other she hobbled over to the door, other stiletto dangling in her hand, the monotone beep increasing in volume with every step.

 

“What the actual fuck is wrong with you?” she huffs, forcing the door open, clutching on to the door handle for balance.

 

Ben simply smirks at her, dramatically taking his index finger off the doorbell. His eye run over the length of her his smirk widening into a full-on grin as he takes in the sight of her dress that is still gaping open at the side the zipper tugged up halfway, her stiletto that is half secured on her right foot the strap hastily stuffed into the buckle not yet clipped into place and the stiletto that is currently pointing in the general direction of his throat.

 

“Do you...need help?” he asks the amusement more than evident in his voice, the smug bastard.

 

“Shut the fuck up,” she mutters mulling over whether she can somehow put herself together in the next ten seconds without him noticing. After coming to the conclusion that no she cannot, she lets out a defeated, begrudging “yes please.”

 

He gives her a curt nod before lowering down onto his knees carefully taking her shoe strap that was hastily stuffed into the buckle with his oversized hands, tightening and securing the strap around her ankle.

 

He gently tugs at the arm holding her other stiletto and she loosens her grip on it and placing it in his waiting palm.

 

He cradles her barefoot in his hands and Rey clutches onto his shoulder for balance. Even under the fabric of his blazer and shirt, Rey can feel the warmth of his skin under her fingers and she can barely concentrate as his thumb caresses the sole of her foot, directing her foot into the shoe of her stiletto. He repeats the action of tightening the strap of her heel, fiddling with the buckle ensuring her foot is secure in her heels. He gently lowers her foot from mid-air back down to the ground and she reluctantly removes her hand from his shoulder.

 

He rises from his knees brushing off the dust that stuck onto the knees of his jeans, inspecting it for any remnants of dirt before raising his gaze to meet hers.
“Turn around please?” he murmurs, eyes imploring.

 

She obeys sweeping her hair to the side trying to repress the slight hitch in her breath as his fingers fumbled with the zipper brushing against the bare skin of her back and she desperately tries to ignore how her heartbeat sounds louder than the smooth sound of the zipper as he slowly moves it up into place.

 

She turns around and looks into his eyes. They are dark, perhaps more so than usual and he looks at her with a gaze that Rey cannot quite decipher.

 

“Thank you,” she says, her voice quiet.

 

He nods.

 

“You look nice.”

 

She rolls her eyes.

 

“I was a fucking mess ten seconds ago but I appreciate the sentiment.”

 

“No, you do,” his voice insistent. “You were a nice mess ten seconds ago and you’re nice as you are now.”

 

“Thank you. You look nice as well.”

 

Ben rolls his eyes in response and offers her the crook of his elbow.

 

“Shall we?”

 

She tucks her arm in his and together they start to walk side by side, occasionally brushing shoulders.

 

After five minutes of walking, Rey has had enough.

 

“How far is it?” she grumbles.

 

Ben slips his phone out of his pocket, eyes squinting slightly as he checks google maps.

 

“You need glasses,” she tells him.

He grumbles indistinctly, squinting down at his phone one last time before declaring “10 minutes.”

 

“Jesus Christ.”

 

“You can do it.”

 

“You don’t know that.”

 

Ben is silent for a moment drawing Rey’s gaze towards him.

 

“I could carry you,” he offers.

 

Rey feels the blood rushing to her face at the image of Ben’s hands on her waist, arm tucked under her knees.

 

“Let’s not do that.”

 

He hums non-committedly tugging her the tiniest bit closer to him, allowing her to shift more of her weight on to his elbow. She tightens her grip on him slightly in appreciation. With their new proximity, every breath brushes against her hair and Rey is forced to fight back a shiver.

 

“Are you looking forward to seeing them?” he asks.

 

“Yeah. It’ll be nice to hear them talk about all the sights of Budapest that they didn’t fully appreciate because they were busy fucking on every available surface for the past three weeks.”

 

“Charming,” Ben snarks.

 

“No, I am genuinely looking forward to catching up with them. And I want to hear about their honeymoon and I want to know if they enjoyed it or not, but while they tell me about how amazing the goulash was or how relaxing the public baths are, I am not going to be able to forget that while they were doing all those things, the touristy things, they would’ve preferred to have been fucking.”

 

“I don’t think that’s true,” he says, shaking his head slightly. “There’s only so much fucking you can do in three weeks. Plus, Rose probably took heaps of photos for her blog and Finn probably just roamed the streets admiring anything and everything.”

 

Rey cocks her head to the side in consideration.

 

“True,” she admits.

 

Ben chuckles down at her before coming to a stop.

 

“We’re here,” he says softly. “It’s just on the other side of the road” his head nodding in the general direction of the Chinese restaurant they’re meeting Rose and Finn at.

 

“Okay,” she sighs. “Okay. We should head on over there,” she says without moving her feet.

 

“Yeah. We should.” his Adam apple bobs as he swallows and Rey tries to ignore the intense urge she has to nibble at it.

 

Shaking herself out of her horniness as much as she can, she slips her arm out of his and skips across the road to the restaurant.

 

She hears Ben curse behind her and he quickly catches up to her.

 

“Check the fucking road before you cross it please,” he hisses and Rey can’t help but giggle at how irritated he looks, his eyes all serious and his plush lips sticking out in more of a pout than usual.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” she mutters as she pushes the restaurant door open, the bell signalling customers chiming happily.

 

“Ben! Rey!” Rose stands up from her seat, beckoning them over.

 

Rose is...glowing. Rose always seems to radiate this energy, this pure happiness that warms Rey’s heart but she looks so happy at that moment, that it’s entrancing. She looks so fucking happy and Rey can’t help but replicate the smile that graces Rose’s face on hers.

 

Finn stands up next to Rose looking equally dashing. His eyes crinkle at the corners with his smile and his eyes soften as his gaze meets Rey. Rey rushes over to him and he engulfs her in his arms, twirling her around in his arm resulting in a shriek from her. “Hey Peanut,” he says, his voice muffled by her hair.

 

Beside them Rose and Ben embrace, clutching each other's elbows, quietly exchanging greetings, Ben with a soft smile gracing his face as he listens intently to Rose.

 

As Finn releases Rey from his embrace, he reaches over to Ben tackling him in that hug that is so distinctly male, Ben laughing loudly at something Finn says.

 

Rose locks her eyes onto Rey for a moment before giggling and tugging her into her arms, her sweet vanilla-cinnamon scent engulfing Rey’s senses.

 

Eventually they sit down and order, Ben and Rey quibbling about steamed dumplings (Ben) over fried dumplings (Rey)- the crunch factor Ben, the crunch factor- and when the food finally comes and Rey securely has the fried dumpling (they ordered both as a compromise) between the chopsticks Finn clears his throat in announcement.

 

“We have an announcement,” he declares his toothy grin belying his serious tone.

 

“Cool,” Rey mutters as she dips the dumpling into a bowl of soy sauce. “Do share.”

 

“We’re pregnant!”

 

Her dumpling slips out of the security of the chopsticks and falls into the soy sauce with a loud, obnoxious plop the sauce splashing out from the impact onto the table.

 

“Congratulations!” she hears Ben exclaim as she hastily grabs a napkin to soak up the mess on the table.

 

“What do you mean ‘we’re’?” Rey nitpicks. “Rose is pregnant. You’re not, Finn.”

 

Ben discreetly slips a hand under the table to squeeze Rey’s knee and Rey leans into his touch.

 

“Haha,” Finn deadpans. “Rose is pregnant, I just did my part when I eja-”

 

“Please stop,” Rey says her voice weak. “Congratulations,” she offers. “Seriously- I’m happy for you.”

 

And she is, She’s smiling because her two favourite people are having a person and Rey already knows she loves that person. She knows she does. And she knows that she couldn’t be happier for her two best friends. So why does she feel like this is a repeat of the wedding again?

 

“We were wondering,” Rose’s voice tinkles. “If you two would do us the honour of being the godparents?”
“Of course,” Ben gushes. “It’d be both a pleasure and an honour.”

 

“Yes,” Rey says around a mouthful of her dumpling. She swallows. “Of course. I’d love to ruin your kid. Sounds like fun.”

 

Images of a mini Rose and Finn flash through her mind and her heart bursts with happiness at the thought of being involved with that.

 

Despite that burst of serotonin, she can’t ignore the voice in the back of her head that nags her, tells her that this is another wedding planning situation and that she’s not appointed godmother for any other reason than this is just another way of getting Rey involved.

 

Ben must know something is wrong because when they pay for the meal, exiting the restaurant with the bell tinkling behind them and say their goodbyes to Rose and Finn offering them their last heartfelt congratulations, Ben’s concerned watchful gaze never entirely leaves her figure.

 

“Do you want to go get a drink?” he asks, while they watch the parting figures of Rose and Finn.

 

“That sounds delightful.”

 

After a few minutes of google searching ‘bars near me’, Ben squinting at his phone and Rey teasing him about his need for glasses, they set off to find the rooftop bar that both Rey and Ben were able to agree on.

 

A five-minute walk later Rey finds herself trudging up three flights of stairs, grumbling about the lengths she would go to to get a fucking drink, and when she’s finally, blissfully at the top of the stairs she hears a bellowing “Ben Solo!”.

What the fuck she thinks, and feels Ben tense up beside her.

“Hi, Maz,” Ben’s voice is sheepish and his hand moves to smooth down his hair and Rey can’t help but smile because this 60-year-old woman with oversized coke-bottle glasses, shaking up a cocktail has rendered Ben Solo into a twelve-year-old boy. “I didn’t know you worked here.”

 

“I own it,” she corrects. “And of course you don’t, boy,” Maz admonishes and Rey has to stifle a chuckle because Ben Solo was just fucking called ‘boy’. “You never call.”

 

Ben mumbles something about work, the moving process, before shoving his credit card out and asking for two fingers of Corellian whiskey, neat.

 

“What do you want?” he asks Rey, gruffly over his shoulder.

 

“Vodka tonic, please. With a squeeze of lime.”

 

Maz at the sound of Rey’s voice leans up against the counter peering around Ben to get a look at her.

 

“And who is this, boy?” Maz asks with a faint glimmer in her eye.

 

“A friend,” Ben mutters a blush crawling up his neck to the tips of his ear.

 

“I’m Rey,” she says holding out her hand to Maz. Maz examines her hand for a moment before bending over the counter completely to wrap Rey up into a warm embrace.

 

“Thank you for being Ben’s friend” she murmurs in Rey’s ear before squeezing her shoulders one before gently removing her arms from around Rey.

 

“Put that card away, boy” she scolds. “It’s on the house. I’ll bring it out in a few.”

 

“Thank you,” Ben says, softly but firmly. Maz waves him off and Ben places a hand on Rey’s lower back guiding her to a booth.

 

“So…” Rey starts, drumming her fingers against the tabletop. “Who’s Maz?”

 

“A family friend.”

 

Rey knows family is a sensitive topic and as much as she wants to Rey knows better than to push it.

 

“She’s nice.”

 

“Yeah,” Ben swallows. “She is.”

 

“This bar’s lovely...very aesthetic,” she hums waving a hand towards the bar- fairy lights twinkling, leafy plants scattered across places and tie-dyed doilies haphazardly placed on every table in messy piles.

 

“She used to own a Diner. My father used to take me there a lot as a kid. And when he wasn’t home, when he’d go on one of his ‘road trips’ I used to visit her Diner because it reminded me of him I guess. ” He pauses and grabs a doily and starts fidgeting with it. “She was really good to me.”

 

Rey gently takes the doily out of his hand and takes his hand in hers, squeezing gently.

 

“She’s really lovely. I like her.”

 

“And speak of the devil,” Ben murmurs drawing his hand back from hers. “Thanks, Maz,” he says as she sets down their drinks with a knowing twinkle in her eye.

 

Rey murmurs her thanks, takes her vodka tonic and starts munching on the ice cubes, slurping at the alcohol that drips off her fingers.

 

“What?” she questions when she sees Ben looking intently at her.

 

“Nothing,” he says softly a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. “You have great table manners.”

 

“Fuck you” she scowled, though the curse was half-hearted. He looks at her for a moment studying her, eyes curious, his teeth snagging on his bottom lip in thought when suddenly Ben’s hand darts out and he steals an ice cube from her drink, popping it into his mouth chewing with his mouth open wide, looking far too pleased with himself.

 

“I hate you.”

 

“No, you really don’t.”

 

Rey swallows and glances down at her drink, circling her index finger around the rim of her glass.

 

“I really don’t.”

 

She looks up to meet his gaze again and finds him mid-sip, his tongue darting out to lick up the drop of whiskey that escapes the rim of the glass.

 

Jesus Christ.

 

Sometimes she thinks he lives to remind her of how long it’s been since she’s been sexually active. She downs her drink in a gulp, suddenly really needing it because Ben is overwhelming and shit- Rose and Finn are having a kid and she’s going to be a godmother.

 

“I’m going to get another drink,” she says shaking her empty glass, the few remaining ice cubes clinking against the glass.

 

Ben nods, taking another sip of his scotch his honey eyes burning into her.

 

Rey walks over back to the bar counter feeling Ben’s gaze on her back and she can’t help but add a little something to her walk, exaggerating the sway of her hips slightly.

 

While in line for a drink, she taps out a message to Rose and Finn sending them celebratory emoji after celebratory emoji, half of them not even making sense. When she finishes she throws a glance towards Ben and notes that he has company.

 

A tall, blonde woman has slid into the booth next to him and she is toying with the collar of his shirt.

 

Good on him, she thinks bitterly turning her back on the sight not being able to stomach it anymore.

The blonde is gorgeous.

 

Rey tortures herself by constructing the image of the perfect woman for Ben and what his ‘type’ would be- voluminous golden waves that his fucking humongous hand could get lost in as he wraps his hand around it and tugs, curves that he could bite, tits that would actually fit in the palm of his hands (why do his hands have to be so big), and blue eyes that would look up at him coquettishly as plush pillowy lips that rivalled his own wrapped around the head of his dic-

 

“Another vodka tonic, love?” Maz’s voice cuts Rey out of her reverie and all she can do is weakly nod.

 

“Actually, could you just make that vodka neat, please?”

 

Maz nods, and when she slides the drink across the counter and Rey clicks her credit card on the counter, Maz shakes her head and reminds her in a gentle voice that it’s on the house.

 

Rey nods and lets out a soft “thank you.”

 

When she turns around, mentally preparing herself to be the third wheel to Ben and this blonde she realises something’s off about Ben.

 

He’s alone in the booth, sipping his drink and he’s not wearing a shirt.

 

What the fuck?

 

“Where’s your shirt?” she asks, her voice coming in a screech that makes her cringe.

 

“The girl that was talking to me. She was a part of a bachelorette party and I guess they were doing one of those dares and the dare was to steal a guys shirt?” he says his brow furrowing in thought.

 

“How the fuck did she get your shirt off you?”

 

“She just kind of ripped off the buttons and took it off. I wasn’t very aware of what was happening. As soon as the buttons popped off I was just really confused.”

 

Rey looks at the ground and notes the scattered buttons and feels a pang of pity for Ben, she can just imagine his lost puppy dog eyes, his pouty lips parted slightly in confusion and shock as this pretty woman rips off his shirt from him. She bristles slightly, offended on his behalf.

 

“That’s….really rude of her, Ben. Like lowkey assault.”

 

“It’s okay,” he shrugs. “I have my blazer,” he says patting the neatly folded blazer next to him.

 

“Still, that’s shit. We can leave now if you want?”

 

She sees him hesitate slightly, his hands fidgeting.

 

“But you just got a new drink”

 

She knocks it back, wincing slightly at the burn.

 

“Done. If you want to stay we can stay but if you want to go we can go.”

 

He looks up at her through his lashes and Rey nearly faints because how can he look so sexy and so utterly adorable at the same time?

 

“Can we go?”

 

She nods.

 

He shrugs on his blazer securing the top button, gesturing to the exit. He holds up his hand in salute to Maz and they start their descent back downstairs. He opens the door for her and a cold rush of air hits them both.

 

Fuck, it was cold outside.

 

Rey didn’t realise just how fucking cold it was, the heat lamps in Maz’s bar keeping her warm in her silky dress. But it was cold outside.

 

It was the kind of cold where you’re hyper-aware of the existence of your nipples. The kind of cold where your nipples process the temperature before your brain does.

 

Her nipples (Sandra and Margaret) rub stiffly against the silk of her dress and she can’t hold back the shiver that passes through her and the way her teeth automatically start to chatter. She is freezing.

 

Ben notices. Because of course he fucking does.

 

She shoots him a glare that dares him to say something about it and in return he swallows and looks away continuing to walk side by side, occasionally brushing against each other under the glow of the city lights in silence.

 

When Rey starts to inconspicuously rub at the skin of her arms, wondering why the fuck she ever thought it’d be a good idea to shave off all her arm hair, Ben inhales sharply through his nose and breaks the silence with an eloquent “For fucks sake,” hastily unbuttoning his blazer and unceremoniously shoving it into her hands.

 

“Take it,” he demands.

 

“What?” she replies taken aback slightly.

 

“Just...take it,” his voice rough and casual in a way that implies that this is totally not casual and he has definitely played out this scenario several times in his head before he voiced it.

 

“I’m not cold,” she whined holding back the slight shiver in her voice as much as possible.

 

With his ensuing murderous glare, she quickly changes her mind, sliding her arms into the sleeves of the stiff cotton blazer that is still warm with his body heat, the red silk lining rubbing pleasantly against her skin.

 

With the blazer off Ben’s shoulders and on hers that leaves Ben ...shirtless.

 

“Aren’t you cold?” Rey asks, eyeing his hardened nipples.

 

“No, not really. My body tends to run hot,” he explains patiently.

 

Rey can’t disagree with that as she takes a moment to appreciate the sight that is Ben Solo shirtless at night. Last time she saw him shirtless it was in the warm, yellow-tinged heat lamp of a bathroom and that was delicious in its own right. Like a lemon tart. Refreshing. A fucking wake up call. Her seventh sexual awakening.

 

But the sight of Ben Solo shirtless in the city lights is a whole different thing. Just as delicious. But a different dessert. Maybe an ice cream sandwich, her two favourite things brought together- ice cream and cookies, night and shirtless Ben.

 

The red and blue lights of the city reflect off his skin so perfectly, highlighting the sharp angles and curves of his physique, casting shadows and abstractly painting his body telling a secret story that only Rey can understand.

 

No - not an ice cream sandwich- a creme brulee. A beautiful silky custard underneath begging to be released from it’s glossy, crystal caramel prison.

 

As he walks the reflection of the lights shift around him and Rey is entranced by the everchanging patterns that spread across his chest- the perfect canvas. It’s like a personal kaleidoscope- designed for the purpose to fuel her sexual fantasies for the next few months.

 

The lights naturally hit his high points, and the shadows contour the hard lines of his abs (his fucking eight pack) and she can just see how fucking indented those muscles are and how much she wants to lick in between each crevice, nibbling as she goes along.

 

She’s slightly jealous of the lights the way they dance and tease across his body unabashedly, without any real consequence and at that moment she wants more than anything to be that darn light that tickles across his pebbled nipple.

 

No, how could she think ever think Ben Solo shirtless in the city light was comparable to a creme brulee?

 

Sinfully decadent dark chocolate mousse. That’s what it is.

 

Silky. Overwhelmingly rich. Entirely too much in the best way possible. You couldn’t possibly get enough of it. The kind of mousse where you lift the dish to your face after you’ve finished and lick every last bit. The kind where you get lockjaw after straining to lick that last morsel at the very corner of the dish that your tongue can't get to.

 

She wonders if Ben would want to share a chocolate mousse with her.

 

Platonically, of course. Because chocolate mousse can be shared platonically.

 

Before she can ask if he wants to go and find somewhere that might sell chocolate mousse at this hour she realises he’s talking.

 

“- So would it be okay if I gave him your number?”

 

How long has he been talking for? What has Rey been missing out on? Wait, why does he want to give out her number?

 

“...What?”

 

“Were you listening to anything I said?”

 

“....No?” she said, her voice weak, and she averts her gaze from his suddenly feeling the urge to count the cracks in the pavement.

 

She hears Ben release a heavy sigh. She knows that if she looked back up his brows would be furrowed and he’d probably be pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers. He’s always so dramatic and she can’t help but roll her eyes at the thought of it.

 

Despite his impatience and irritation, when he starts talking again his voice is soft and gentle.

 

“I know you probably don’t want to discuss this in too much detail. But I feel like we should. And if you want, you don’t have to talk about it. I’ll talk about what I think and you can either correct me and talk about it and I’ll listen. Or you could just listen, absorb it and leave it at that. Unhash it in your own time. But I want to talk about it,” he says, his pace slowing until it stops forcing her to stop with him.

 

He tugs on the oversized blazer sleeve softly, silently asking her to turn to him. She complies but keeps her eyes on the pavement. There are new cracks on this square meter of pavement and she starts counting them her eyes scanning from left to right as she mentally ticks off the cracks that she has and hasn’t counted.

 

“Finn and Rose’s announcement bothered you. And it bothers you that it bothers you. You thought you were past the fact that they now had their own life. And you don't really know what to do about the fact that you're not yet. But you will be.”

 

Rey knows he’s not wrong. She wishes he didn’t know her so well.

 

“I know you’re happy for them. You know you’re happy for them. And I just want to point out, that as the newly appointed godmother of this unborn child you are going to be heavily involved in that life.”

 

Rey knows this. And she feels like this is a better attempt at making her feel involved than wedding planning. Rey thinks she likes children more than wedding planning. Well, the jury’s still out on that but she likes to think that. And it's the thought that counts.

 

“And they haven’t appointed you as Godmother out of pity so that you don’t feel left behind. You have to know that. They love you and they want you to be apart of their unborn child's life because you are an integral part of their life,” he says. “You have to know that Rey. Please tell me you know that,” his voice taking on a pleading quality.

 

Rey inspects her heels - she finished counting the cracks, there’s 36- and notes that there’s a chip on the side of her right toe and tries to recall if she has pink nail polish at home to cover it up.

 

“Rey.”

 

“Fuck off,” she grumbles trying to recall the contents of her makeup bag.

 

Out of nowhere, a long pale finger forces her chin up and her gaze is forced to meet Ben’s. He looks glorious when he’s frustrated. Except he’s not exactly frustrated.

 

His eyes contain a hint of anger in them. But they’re mostly a whirlwind of worry, compassion, and something else that is far too real for Rey to feel comfortable in deconstructing.

 

His finger moves gently away from her chin and she holds her breath as she watches it hover near her cheek for a second before it moves to tuck an astray strand of hair behind her ear.

 

She exhales.

 

“I just think,” he continues. “That perhaps you need to start seeing people who don’t know Rose and Finn. Expand your social bubble. I think it’d be good for you. So I wanted to ask you if I could pass on your number to a friend. Well, kind of friend... More of an acquaintance.”

 

“Seeing people?” she asks, over annunciating her words because as much as she understands what he’s trying to say she also really doesn’t.

 

“It doesn’t have to be romantic,” he quickly amends. “But hey, I think it’d be nice for you to go on those kinds of things.”

 

Rey inspects him, notes how his index finger starts rubbing at the back of his hands.

 

He’s uncomfortable.

 

“Things?” she teases starting to feel more like herself.

 

He swallows, looking away from her. He suddenly has also developed an intense interest in the cracks on the pavement.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Rey mulls over that before a sudden realisation strikes her and the realisation that dawns upon her hurts.

 

“You think I should start seeing people? Dating people?”

 

With his eyes still glued to the pavement, his jaw clenches for a little bit before he gives her a swift nod that knocks the wind out of her.

 

She knows it shouldn’t hurt because they are friends and they have never been anything more and she can’t fault him for wanting her to be happy- she really can’t. But the idea of him being okay with her dating people, seeing people, wanting someone that isn’t him tears her apart.

 

“I think,” he starts, voice hesitant. “I think you should date.”

 

“Okay,” she says slowly, deliberating her next few words. “But I want to date somebody. Not just some body.”

 

Ben groans, his eyes finally flying up to meet hers and Rey tries to hide a smirk.

 

“Ugh,” he sighs. “Don’t use Company against me,” his lips quirking up into a smile.

 

“Sorry, I just couldn’t help it,” she shrugs her smirk transforming into a full-on toothy grin and for a moment with Ben grinning back at her, his eyes soft she can almost forget that Ben wants her to date people that aren’t him.

 

Almost.

 

"Ben?" she asks as they start walking side by side and this time she deliberately leans into him, savouring the way his shoulders brush hers because if he wants her to date people than surely these moments, these tiny moments that mean the world to Rey, have an expiry date.

"Yeah," he replies leaning into Rey's touch.

 

"How many cracks did you count?"

 

"Thirty-six?"

 

"Okay. Just making sure."

Chapter Text

Let’s get coffee, he said. It’ll be fun he said. We can debrief over cinnamon buns he said.

 

Rey doesn’t give a shit.

 

She doesn’t want to debrief. And she only liked IKEA cinnamon buns anyway. And Ben at cafes...is just an awful idea.

 

Rey recalls their first coffee together at a cafe in uptown Chandrila. The cafe was light, airy, minimalistic with random rose-gold sculptures that served no other purpose other than just being there. Rey hated it. Ben was apathetic towards it.

 

Except that some things do. They really truly do. He gets so passionate about things. Which is why Rey hates going to cafes with him.

 

Ben is ridiculous about coffee. He doesn’t even like good coffee. He likes the burnt kind where it’s disgustingly bitter, the kind where it has a metallic taste that is reminiscent of blood, and he takes it with a shot of cloudy apple juice on the side because apparently the “combination of black coffee and cloudy apple juice- it has to be cloudy- tastes like caramel.”

 

And then there’s the way he criticizes her order, “a fucking latte. Seriously? Milk foam is the single most depressing thing in the world. It’s flavourless foam that goes cold as soon as you scoop it up from the spoon so then you just have cold flavourless shit melting in your mouth into this barely-there useless liquid. Just get a fucking mocha next time, then at least it’ll have some flavour.”

 

He gets this apologetic look in his eyes after though, this bashful smile that tells Rey that he didn’t intend for his remarks to be so scathing and Rey can’t help but chuckle at him, skimming a big dollop of milk foam making a show of shoving it in her mouth, moaning as the (admittedly flavourless) milk foam hits her tongue.

 

And as much as she likes him going on his passionate rants about the most minuscule things, she’s a little bit over going to coffee with him because it feels a little to couple-y and Rey is trying to distance herself from the idea that they’re not.

 

And since they’re going to meet for coffee to debrief on Rey’s date last night, they most definitely are not a couple.

 

Rey slows down her steps as she turns the corner of the street her phone vibrating in her hand as Google Maps informs her that she is fifty metres away from the cafe. She contemplates how insane she would look to passer-byers if she tried to delay her arrival with a casual ‘two steps forward one step back’ but before she can decide on it she is in front of the cafe, an old rustic door with the sign ‘open’ flipped over. Rey squints at the open sign. She knows that handwriting. That’s Be-

 

“Are you going to open the door?” she hears Ben’s voice rumble behind her.

 

She looks over her shoulder at him stepping to the side to make room for him to fall in step with her. “You didn’t tell me about this job.”

 

“It wasn’t really a job. It was more,” -Ben hesitates biting down on his lip- “a favour?”

 

“Are you asking me or telling me?”

 

Ben sighs heavily. “Well, I guess you’ll find out,” he says slightly under his breath as he pushes the heavy door open.

 

“Why are you being so weird?” Rey mumbles as she takes in her surroundings. In contrast to the elegant cursive font, the cafe is weirdly grungy. It looks like a pub if the cafe was a pub. And if that pub had the stickiest tabletops in the world. There are people spread out across the cafe all with plates of cinnamon buns and it looks weirdly...cult-ish? There is a vase of vibrant orange tulips in a dimly lit corner but the beauty of the tulips is instantly squashed bu by the vibe of the place and the fact that the vase is covered in stickers of fat penguins (are they penguins?). At the counter, there is a display of cakes, covered by a flimsy layer of cling wrap, and on top of it looking entirely out of place, heavy floral cardstock with ‘not vegan’ written on it in Ben’s elegant hand. “What is this?”

 

“My uncle used to be a lawyer...and now he runs a cafe that barely passes health and safety checks.”

 

Rey takes a sniff. And another. “Is that weed?”

 

“I hope not,” Ben sighs running a hand over his day-old stubble that Rey thinks would be an excellent exfoliant between her thighs (it really wouldn’t though, she bought rosehip oil when she first saw him with stubble and she didn’t even realise she bought it until she went through her receipt ten minutes later). “He burns patchouli oil a lot though.”

 

Rey nods as if that piece of information makes all this seem normal. The ambience of the place is weird enough but Rey was pretty sure that Ben and his uncle had a tense relationship at the very best.

 

“So...why are we here?”

 

“Despite all this,” Ben says waving his hand around, “Luke really does make good cinnamon buns. And good coffee.”

 

“Are you complimenting me?” a gruff voice asks from behind the paint-peeled door that has ‘staff only’ written hastily in chalk on it.

 

“No,” Ben says immediately in response his hand flying up to the back of his neck rubbing it slightly.

 

“Just give me a sec’,” the voice behind the door says. The door creaks open and a man about the age of sixty walks out. Despite the strange woollen poncho that is every shade of brown imaginable Ben’s Uncle Luke looks incredibly sharp if not weary. He moves with confidence, a surety that belies everything the cafe screams. His salt and pepper hair is messy and yeah, there’s matcha staining the corner of his upper lip and beard, but it’s his eyes, his gaze that pierces straight through Rey that gets her. His eyes tell a story that Rey is afraid to read and though he has done nothing to make Rey believe that he is anything but nice Rey feels unsure of herself.

 

“I’m Rey,” she says holding out her hand to him.

 

Luke stares at her for a while longer, and her hand starts to waver. Just as she’s about to pull it back awkwardly as if that never happened a warm hand firmly grasps hers. “Luke Skywalker.”

 

“Rey’s my friend,” Ben explains unhelpfully in an attempt to cut through the tension.

 

“Didn’t know you had friends,” Luke grumbles, walking behind the counter and sitting on the lopsided stool. “What do you want? I know Ben’s order, with the stupid fucking apple juice. But Rey’s order I do not.”

 

“If you say latte-,” Ben starts.

 

“I don’t care if you have a weird vendetta against milk foam. Could I have a latte please?”

 

Luke nods and scribbles it down on a crinkled yellow sticky note.

 

“I’m assuming you want a cinnamon bun,” he hums looking up at Ben.

 

“Can you make that two? Rey only ever eats cinnamon buns from IKEA and I want to change that for her.”

 

“IKEA?” Luke looks puzzled, and slightly...offended?

 

“Yeah. She’ll drive to IKEA just for the cinnamon buns.”

 

“Can you please stop judging me on my taste in cinnamon buns?” Rey whines.

 

“You should stay away from IKEA cinnamon buns,” Luke says, and his eyes- god he looks genuinely concerned for her. ‘You don’t know what's in them.”

 

“Christ,” Rey mutters turning around and flouncing over to a random table and collapsing onto a chair.

 

“I’ll convert you,” Luke calls out over the whir of the coffee machine.

 

“How’s work?” Rey asks Ben as he folds himself into a chair sliding his wallet back into his pocket.

 

“That’s not what we’re here to talk about.”

 

“I know that, but you said we can talk about it over cinnamon buns and there are no cinnamon buns in front of us at the moment. So how’s work?”

 

“I’ve been working on designing a menu for Paige- you know Paige, Rose’s sister?-”

 

Rey nods. Rey remembers meeting Paige at the wedding. Or maybe they met at the dress fitting? She knows Rose and Paige are close, but Rey never really got to know Paige that well other than a fleeting ‘hi, how are you’?

 

“Yeah, well she’s opening a new bakery so I’m helping her out with that.”

 

“Nice.”

 

Ben nods awkwardly glancing at her because the way she said ‘nice’ came out a little too monotonously for it to seem genuine.

 

“Uh-how about you? How’s the garage?"

 

Rey rolls her eyes because it’s nice of him to keep to her stupid rule of avoiding the topic until the cinnamon buns come.

 

“Good. There’s always work to do, which is a good thing I guess. Actually, I’ve been meaning to talk to Han about-”

 

Ben groans his head thudding on to the table. “I should’ve never introduced you two. I don’t know why I brought you to Friday night dinner with them. I don’t know why I continue to bring you to them.”

 

“Leia makes a nice cup of tea. Han speaks my language,” she reasons.

 

“It’s a fucking nightmare,” Ben rambles on. “He asked for your number the other day. Wants you to help him with the Falcon, and no I didn’t give it to him because you always come around on Fridays anyway so I told him to wait so he can ask you in person but no-.” He cuts himself off as Luke sets down the coffee and cinnamon buns the ceramic plates making a solid clunk against the wooden table. “Thanks.”

 

Luke smirked down at Ben a glimmer in his eye as he turns to Rey and says, “He just wants to keep you to himself. He’s always been very possessive.”

 

Ben blushes, inspecting the scorch marks on the table. “Don’t you have customers to serve?”

 

“Not really.”

 

“No, I think you do.”

 

Rey watches amused as Ben and Luke stare intensely at each other in a silent standoff that is only broken off when Rey not so subtly clears her throat.

 

“This conversation isn’t over,” Luke warns Ben as he saunters back to the counter.

 

Ben sighs.

 

“Sorry. It’s just...He’s just,” Ben inhales sharply meeting her gaze his index finger mindlessly circling the rim of his coffee cup. “We’re trying. But that’s how it generally ends.”

 

Rey shrugs. She knows Luke and Ben have a tense relationship which is frankly, why she’s surprised he brought her here. “You’re trying,” she offers. “And even though it’s not perfect, that’s okay. Because hopefully one day it won’t be as hard to try anymore.”

 

Ben squints at her. “When did you get so wise?”

 

“Rude. I always was,” and then in a softer tone, she adds “If you want to leave we can. There are ten other places we can get coffee around here.”

 

“But I want you to try the cinnamon buns,” he insists.

 

Right. The cinnamon buns. Which brings them back to that conversation they were supposed to have over cinnamon buns.

 

Rey takes the opportunity to take a massive over-enthusiastic bite of her cinnamon bun to delay the inevitable line of questioning.

 

It doesn’t work.

 

“So, how was it?” he asks, his gaze inquisitive and soft, his jaw resting against the palm of his massive hands, his fingers curling around the sharp edge of his jaw.

 

Rey keeps chewing the cinnamon sugar-butter mixture coating her tongue, the sweet fluffy dough deliciously overwhelming her senses.

 

“Fuck,” she moans. “It’s so good,” she says, taking another bite.

 

“Yeah, it is,” Ben replies- and is he blushing? “I’m glad I could convert you. But you’re deflecting and I want you to answer the question.”

 

Rey chews slowly, pretending to be deep in thought her eyes gazing somewhere just above his head, to the left a little.

 

She swallows.

 

“It was...okay,” she says choosing her words carefully, trying to find a way out of this conversation.

 

“It was...okay?” he repeats.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Well that’s promising,” he snarks.

 

“But it was okay, okay? We went to dinner, we talked. It was nice.” she replies, her tone slightly defensive.

 

“Please elaborate,” his tone deadpan.

 

Rey doesn’t know how to. It’s not like the date was necessarily bad. It’s not like Hux is a bad guy.

 

He’s nice. Maybe even a gentleman.

 

He has a subtle, snarky sense of humour and a charming lopsided smile that she’s sure someone will fall in love with. He asked her about her job as a mechanic. He seemed genuinely interested in what she said. He wasn’t patronizing. He respected her personal space.

 

But there was something about him that was a little...off?

 

His British accent was too sharp. Similar enough to her own that she couldn’t imagine him murmuring sweet nothings to her without her feeling like she was fucking another version of herself. And Rey’s tired of fucking herself.

 

His hair was too gelled back. The comb lines too distinct. His hands too nimble and sure in their movements, eyes too calm. They were intense like Ben’s but without the intensity of emotion, instead reminding her of the cool, dead gaze of a shark.

 

He complimented her a few times. But they seemed too generic. The usual compliments on her physical appearance that felt scripted, and felt like they were copied and pasted onto different women, on different dates. Rey knows she’s being harsh. It’s hard to come up with genuine compliments for someone you don't really know.

 

Ben knows her.

 

His compliments were tailored to her, fit like a glove, were moulded around her like latex on Kim Kardashian’s arse.

 

But Ben knows her. So she’s a little confused as to why he’s set her up with Hux when Hux is so incredibly Hux ...how could Ben have ever thought that they were well matched?

 

“He just...isn’t for me?” She lets it hang in the air as a question, letting him make assumptions about what that means.

 

Except he doesn’t make assumptions. Of course, he doesn’t. Beside the fact that he’s been nice to her, has comforted her in a way that only he could, he’s a dick, but Leia raised him to not make assumptions, ingraining into him that stupid age-old saying of ‘don’t ever assume things, otherwise you’ll make an ass out of you and me’.

 

So he pushes. Of course, he does. Because he cares. Because he wants to know more about Rey. Because he’s a fucking good person and a fucking good friend.

 

“Isn’t for me,” he repeats to himself softly. “Okay, that’s okay. Just...Rey,” he sighs, “I thought...Look if you’re not comfortable talking about that kind of stuff with me that’s okay. I just want the best for you. And I want to help you.”

 

“I wasn’t interested in him like that,” she explains, tapping her finger against the edge of her cup. “It’s not like I have a thing against gingers. I just want to make that clear,” she adds jokingly.

 

Ben snorts, and Rey feels a smile tug at the corner of her mouth with the knowledge that she made Ben do that.

 

“It’s okay, we’re friends. I won’t judge you if it’s because he’s a ginger.”

 

“It isn’t,” she insists, her voice taking on a childish whine and she can’t help but uncontrollably grin at him.

 

Ben chuckles, rolling his eyes. A comfortable silence falls over them and Rey takes the opportunity to carefully skim the foam off the top of her latte, her mouth wrapping around the cool metal of the spoon humming with content when the flavourless froth hits her tongue.

 

When she looks back at Ben he is staring at her intently, his gaze thoughtful. She playfully wriggles her eyebrows at him and he suddenly looks away, clearing his throat a slight flush blossoming on the high planes of his cheeks.

 

Weird, she thinks, filing the moment away in the corner of her mind to psychoanalyze on a sleepless night.

 

“So what’s your type then,” he asks his voice slightly gravelly and delicious. “If not ginger?” he teases lips quirking up around his coffee cup.

 

She ponders what to say next. Should she play it safe and just make up a lie? But Ben, despite only knowing her for six months, has an uncanny knack for telling when she was lying.

 

“What do you think my type is?”

 

She decides to play it coy. Because why the fuck not. Carpe diem and all that jazz.

 

He hums, running his eyes over her figure - once, twice- before sighing.

 

“My dad?” he asks, wryly.

 

Rey flushes, rolling her eyes in embarrassment. She regrets drunkenly confessing to him that if Ben ages as gracefully as his father then the male-loving population would be extremely grateful. And Ben-the arsehole- knows how embarrassed she is about that confession.

 

“Shut up, you know it’s not like that.” she murmurs.

 

“I know. But I hope that you know I’m never going to let you live that down”

 

“I’m aware.”

 

A silence falls over them again- but this time it is slightly awkward, Rey and Ben locking eyes in an intense stare charged with something that feels awfully close to sexu-.

 

“Well if my dad is your type,” Ben teases, his lips parting slightly before murmuring “then maybe you could consider settling for hi-”

 

“Ben? Rey?” a voice inquires whatever that was quickly vanished into thin air.

 

Rey turns her head, breaking her gaze off Ben’s to find that Paige Tico is standing in front of their table.

 

Rey knows it’s impossible because this cafe is the dingiest cafe that she’s been to but she can’t help but feel that there’s a halo of light framing Paige’s body, because Paige looks amazing. Her toned body is encased in Lululemon leggings that Rey has been eyeing for months and a light heather grey cropped sweater hanging off her shoulder. And her eyebrows are so perfect. Does she get them done? Where does she get them done?

 

Ben stands up to greet Paige with a quick hug and Rey feels obligated to follow suit, awkwardly shuffling feet as she waits her turn.

 

Damn. Paige Tico gives good hugs. And she smells like nutmeg.

 

“What are you doing here?” Ben asks, gesturing to a nearby chair for Paige to sit at.

 

“I’m sussing out the competition,” she teases and even though her voice is deep and husky it’s melodic in a way that befuddles Rey. “Plus I heard that they do nice beetroot lattes and I thought I’d swing by to grab one before my meeting,” she says glancing at Ben who nodds, obviously knowing what this meeting is. “What are you two doing here?”

 

“She was supposed to tell me about her date,” Ben grumbles.

 

“Wait, wait no- you can’t criticize me for drinking a latte without just letting Paige’s beetroot latte slide.”

 

“It’s fine. The foam probably tastes like beetroot,” he dismisses.

 

“And that’s a good thing? For milk to taste like a root vegeta-”

 

“Rey,” Ben interjects. “Don’t go off-topic. We were talking about your date.”

 

“Well, we did. Next topic.”

 

“I was hoping for more information than ‘it was okay’ and ‘he isn’t my type. What did you eat? What did you talk about?’” he shoots back, disgruntled.

 

“I don’t understand why you’re suddenly so invested in my dating life,” her voice raised ever so slightly.

 

Paige glances between them, a small smile gracing her face. “I didn’t know you were looking to date, Rey,” Paige says, almost shyly.

 

“I’m not. Ben just has the idea that I should.”

 

“It’s not necessarily a bad idea. It might be nice to have someone, Rey.” She lowers her voice, her eyes locked on to Rey’s, her tongue darting out to moisten her lips. “You deserve to have someone.”

 

Ben touches her arm, “I just want you to be happy.”

 

“I am happy.”

 

She knows her voice sounds weak even to her ears. Sensing Rey’s discomfort Ben turns to Paige asking her about her meeting, and Rey tunes out choosing to replay over her conversation with Ben instead, mindlessly chewing on her cinnamon bun.

 

She is happy. She really is. She doesn’t need a romantic interest. She has friends that mean the world to her and that’s enough for her. What bothers her is how willing Ben is to help her find a romantic partner. What upsets her is the fact that he’s not offering to be that romantic partner. What confuses her is why Ben chose Hux to be that romantic partner when by what Hux told her, Hux doesn’t really like Ben and it seems like the feeling is mutual. So why set her up with someone he doesn’t even like?

 

Random theories start tumbling around in her head and before they get too insane, too wildly optimistic, before she can get her hopes up Rey stands up and mutters something about needing another coffee to Ben and Rose as she excuses herself, walking away from the table needing a moment for herself.

 

The queue for coffee is fucking long (the cinnamon buns are good, but seriously why does this place get so busy?) and Rey tries to distract herself from thinking about Ben and is woefully unsuccessful. Her mind starts racing, revisiting every memory, every conversation, every touch, every glance between her and Ben. She mindlessly orders her coffee as she tries to recall when Ben has ever discussed his romantic interests with her. As she picks up her coffee she realises he hasn’t. He seems pretty friendly with Paige though and he defended Paige's decision to drink a fucking beetroot latte...

 

As she turns around and walks back to their table, all thoughts of interrogating Ben about his ‘friendship’ with Paige fly out of the window as her mind goes blank.

 

Because Ben Solo is shirtless.

 

She tries to keep her eyes on his face, the sharp angle of his jaw, his honey-brown eyes, his soft plush lips that are slightly parted in surprise, and his nose that would perfectly nudge against her cli-

 

In an attempt to vanquish that train of thought she quickly averts her eyes from his face to the place that made her want to avert her gaze in the first place- he’s shirtless.

 

Again.

 

It’s not the first time she’s seen him shirtless, it’s the third for fuck's sake so she doesn’t know why she’s still so bewitched by all of it.

 

Christ.

 

His skin. Pale and smooth like those marble statues that the British Empire stole and refuse to give back to the Greeks.

 

She used to hate the gym before meeting Ben, but now that she knows Ben, now that she knows what he looks like without a shirt she is so very grateful that gyms are a thing.

 

That gym culture is a thing.

 

That doesn’t mean she’s going to start going to the gym (she’s always preferred the solitary nature of running) but she’s glad that the gym exists for Ben to go to because it means he looks like this.

 

She knows Ben is looking at her quizzically waiting for her to say something, anything. But the dialogue from the Ryan Gosling shirtless scene from Crazy, Stupid, Love is playing on repeat and Rey is finding it increasingly difficult to trust her filter in not blurting out something that will completely destroy their friendship.

 

Right. Their friendship. That shocks Rey out of her revery and she tears her gaze (mournfully) away from those glorious pecs (fuck he has nipple piercings when did he get those) and back up to his face. That fucking face that is blissfully unaware of Rey’s internal struggle.

 

Rey sits down and downs her coffee ignoring the scalding burn as it goes down her throat, and licks the foam off the top of her lip, setting her cup down with a resolute thunk.

 

“I left you alone for five fucking minutes,” she inhales sharply through her nose, trying to keep it together. “Where is your jumper?”

 

“Paige spilt her beetroot latte all over her shirt. I offered her mine, she had to run off to her meeting.” he shrugs.

 

Now, Rey knows, logically, that she has no reason to be jealous. She knows that. Even though she spent the last five minutes of her life imagining how perfect Paige and Ben would be together and how Ben would letter all of their wedding invitations and how Paige would bake their wedding cake (a light lemon-strawberry sponge).

 

And despite that train of thought, she knows that she has no reason to be jealous. Because Ben has never mentioned any romantic interest in Paige and when he hugged her he carefully kept his hands away from the bare skin that her cropped jumper revealed. Paige wasn’t even looking at him with those dreamy eyes that she’s seen women wear time and time again as they gaze upon Ben. Because Paige and Ben are probably just friends.

 

So she knows that she has no reason to be jealous. And most all she knows that she has no right to be jealous because Rey and Ben are also just friends.

 

But the idea of someone else wearing his jumper, the idea of him giving his woolly jumper that Rey wants to lay her head on to somebody that is not her, the thought of someone walking around smelling like him tears her apart, causes her blood to boil, and that deep-seated fear of being alone hits her like a full-freight train.

 

She sighs.

 

“Don’t you wear a shirt under your jumper?” she croaks.

 

‘No. I like the soft feel of the jersey material against my skin.”

 

“Right. Okay. Lovely,” she nods, trying to clear her head a little. “Let’s go see if Luke has a spare shirt out the back. Or an apron. Or a cowl. A spare poncho. Anything.”

 

“Right,” Ben replies without moving. He starts fidgeting and he looks slightly uncomfortable.

 

“What?” Rey snaps because at this point she’s lost her patience and why does he look so uncomfortable when she’s the one who’s so uncomfortable in this situation. In a softer tone, she repeats herself, “What?”

 

“Um. Well, Paige um left her number here for you,” he clears his throat a little. “In case you were still interested in dating.”

 

Fuck, she thinks. There really was no reason for her to be jealous.

Chapter Text

“What’s that noise?”

 

“What? Oh,” Rey calls out, her voice bouncing around the tiles of the bathroom. “Just give me a sec,” she says quickly jumping up grabbing the tissue full of toenail clippings, the clipper in her other hand her feet making a slapping sound against the cool timber as she walked to the lounge room. She sat down cross-legged behind Ben’s seated figure.

 

“Okay,” she sighs, resuming her toenail clipping. “What was the question again?”

 

“What’s that noise?” Ben grumbles.

 

“Oh, I’m just clipping my toenails.”

 

“Charming.”

 

“Hey- you’re the one that asked.”

 

Ben hums in response. “Is Em still asleep?”

 

Rey turns her head to squint between the bars of the cott spotting the movement of Emily’s tiny chubby arm reaching out to grab her equally tiny chubby foot.

 

“Nope,” she replies, her mouth popping around the ‘p’, tapping the last of her toenail clippings onto the piece of tissue.

 

“‘Kay.” Ben slides off the kitchen stool padding over to the cot before picking up four-month-old baby Emily, bouncing her in his arms.

 

Finn and Rose are having their weekly date night and as such Rey and Ben are babysitting.

 

Unlike wedding planning, Rey actually enjoys being a godmother.

 

She loves Emily to pieces. She’s constantly amazed by how much she can love something unconditionally but she figures it can’t be that much of a surprise considering Emily is the product of two of her favourite human beings.

 

Emily is gorgeous and her sweet giggle rivals that of her mothers. She has a non-judgmental loving gaze that never fails to put a smile on Rey’s face and Emily is obsessed with the penguin toy that Rey knitted for her (though it doesn’t really look like a penguin because she’s shit at knitting) and because Emily likes the shit toy she knitted so much Rey takes it to mean that they have a special bond. That and they bond over their annoying sleeping patterns. After her over-reliance on sleeping pills and following that incident, Rey refuses to take any sleep medication and her circadian rhythm is not...great. But she doesn’t mind too much because it’s something that she and Emily can share together as an experience.

 

So, of course, Rey loves babysitting Emi. She gets to spend time with her new favourite human being. She also gets to see Ben, who always helps her babysit, look after Emily which causes her ovaries to explode in the most delicious way possible.

 

The sight of Ben’s massive hands engulfing the tiny creature that is Emily will never fail to make Rey’s knees weak. The sight of Ben tenderly caring for Emily is almost overwhelming at times. It’s such a beautiful image that Rey wants to look away because it’s just too much but she can’t because it’s just too good.

 

And the thing is Ben and her make a good babysitting team.

 

When Finn and Rose asked them if they could look after Emily on Thursday nights he immediately helped her baby proof the flat. He brought Tupperware containers full of homemade organic baby food to store in Rey’s freezer. He helped her assemble that cot from IKEA (Rey eating her IKEA cinnamon bun watching him curse loudly as he tried and failed to put the cot together- Rey had to intervene before he snapped the frame in half with frustration). And every time Emily finally falls asleep and Rey and Ben collapse onto the couch in exhaustion and watch something on Netflix through bleary eyes Rey can’t help but imagine what they would be like as parents.

 

Rey knows it’s not like looking after a child once a week would be a good indicator as to how you would be as a parent, but it doesn’t stop her from imagining.

 

Ben as a father paints a pretty daydream. The pretty daydream is popped when Rey realizes she should probably stop fantasizing about Ben being her baby daddy when he isn’t anything more than her friend. Her close friend. Her incredible hot close friend.

 

“Whatcha doing?” Rey asks as she slides onto his stool moving aside his wire-framed glasses to examine the geraniums that Ben has bordered around the ‘you are invited to’.

 

“Oh,” Ben says without glancing over his eyes glued to Emily. “It’s just this stupid invitation that I’m working on for a client.”

 

“Why the geraniums?” she asks resisting the temptation to trace the outline of the pale purple petals with her index finger so as to not smudge the ink.

 

Ben fucking hates drawing flowers. He always complains about it on Friday night dinners with Han and Leia, Rey and Han sharing an exasperated look as Ben yet again complains about his client’s fascination with flowers- “I don’t understand why they request me to draw flowers when that’s not in my job description, I letter for Christs sake”-. Despite his hate for drawing flowers, he’s talented with a pen and the geraniums are gorgeous.

 

She hears Ben huff behind her.

 

“The client is really fudging stupid and I feel the need to communicate that in the header. And according to google, geraniums mean stupid in flower language.”

 

“That's… really passive-aggressive.”

 

“Well, I used to just be aggressive. So I’ll take passive-aggressive. Thank you.”

 

“It wasn’t really meant as a compliment.”

 

“Shut up. I feel like I’m improving as a human being.”

 

Rey hesitates, her head tilting to the side as she considers it. “I don’t think it works like that.”

 

“It definitely does.”

 

Rey slips off of the stool to sit next to his feet where he is cradling Emily, lifting her hand to play with Emily’s tiny dumpling of a foot.

 

“Why do you feel the need to be passive-aggressive in your lettering?”

 

“I’m...Jesus christ this is so stupid it makes me so angry,” he mutters under his breath. “I’m doing this thing for a client and it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever been asked to do.”

 

“What is it?”

 

His heavy sigh forces her to look at him and she can’t help but smirk at the sight of him. His eyes have flown to the general direction of the ceiling as if he was in a futile search for some kind of semblance of patience and the ceiling held some kind of answer.

 

“Invitations. For a dog’s birthday party. I’m doing the lettering for a dog’s birthday party.”

 

“Awwww,” Rey cooes. “That sounds adorable. Why are you so upset about that?”

 

“Who holds a birthday party for a dog?”

 

“Poe would.”

 

“Well, Poe can go fu-do himself.”

 

“No, Poe prefers to fuck other people.”

 

“Don’t swear in front of Emily,” Ben grumbles, and he bounces Emily up and down on his knees, smiling softly when she lets out a gurgle of laughter.

 

Rey knows that Ben gets irritated about stupid, insipid small stuff like a dog’s birthday party. But there’s a tension in Ben’s voice that implies that there’s more than just a dog’s birthday party. So she decides to dig deeper.

 

“Any other reason you’re feeling passive-aggressive about the lettering?”

 

Ben is silent. He continues to stare intently at Emily but now his soft smile is replaced with a thoughtful frown. He inhales sharply and lets out a “The dog's name. It’s Fettuccine Alfredo.”

 

Rey snorts. She knows he’s stalling but she’ll let it slide, because yeah his distraction worked- who the fuck calls their dog Fettucine Alfredo?

 

“Not only is it a stupid name it’s a nighmarishly long one. I have to write out Fettucine Alfredo sixteen times because somehow the client has found sixteen people who might want to attend a dog’s birthday party,” he rambles.

 

“I would want to go to a dog’s birthday party,” she says, tone slightly defensive- because she’d already started to formulate a plan on how to get Ben to show her the address of the birthday party so she could rock up and pat Fettuccine Alfredo.

 

“I guess if you’re stupid enough to host a birthday party for a dog then you would be stupid enough to call a dog Fettucine Alfredo.”

 

“Well, what would you call a dog then?”

 

“Moose.”

 

Rey lets out an incredulous laugh.

 

“You think Fettuccine Alfredo is a ridiculous name for a dog but you would call a dog by another animal's name?”

 

“...Yeah?”

 

“Okay no, Ben that’s,” Rey scrambles to find a gentler way of phrasing her next few words. She finds none. “That’s fu-messed up.”

 

“Shut up,” he grumbles.

 

“On so many levels,” she continues. “You’re going to give the poor thing an identity crisis.”

 

“But I’m not limiting its identity. By calling it moose I’d be telling it that it’s not only restricted to the identity of a dog. It can explore being other animals, such as a moose.” he argues, his voice taking on a slightly whiny tone like that of a petulant child.

 

“A moose is a pretty specific animal.”

 

Ben doesn’t respond to that and Rey sighs moving up from the floor, crossing over to the kitchen, flicking the kettle on.

 

“Do you want a cup of tea?”

 

She sees Ben nod from the corner of her eye and hums in acknowledgement.

 

She taps her fingers against the kitchen counter creating a staccato rhythm, before spinning around to look at him. “Ben. I’m not an idiot you know. You’re petty and you’re dramatic but you hate drawing flowers.”

 

He sighs heavily before breathing out a panicked “Iwasjealousofmyunclesdog.”

 

Rey doesn’t know if she heard correctly over the rumble of the kettle but nonetheless she tries to detangle the mess of words that she thought she heard, mulling it over in her mind only to find her quest to be wholly unsuccessful.

 

“Sorry, could you repeat that?”

 

“I don’t like dogs. My Uncle Chewie had a dog. It was over all the time. It was a Pomeranian thing with that fur that you couldn’t help but nuzzle your face in but every time you did it would topple over because it was just such a tiny thing, that its body couldn’t support the weight of your face against it.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Han was really fond of the dog. Well more than fond. Like head over heels in love with it. They say a dog is a man's best friend, and well,” Ben lets out a bitter laugh. “It wasn’t even his dog-it was his best friends dog-but that dog was his best friend. He took it on all his road trips with him. I was never allowed to go on those road trips,” he sighs, taking a tentative sip from the mug Rey passed to him, his tongue slipping out to catch the tea that threatens to drip down the side. “I wanted to go so bad.”

 

“You were jealous of your uncle’s dog?” she can’t help it, her tone is incredulous and disbelieving and Rey knows she should be more understanding so she amends it with a quick, hushed “sorry.”

 

“You make it sound so petty when you say it like that,” he teases because Ben, bless him, may not always know what to say but when he does, all her fears of being alone disappear because she knows she’ll have Ben.

 

“No. no, we’re going to discuss this. See-,” she says picking up Emily from Ben’s arms. “I’ve got a child in my arms. I have to be serious now.”

 

His shoots her an amused glance before sighing heavily, shifting his balance on the stool for a moment before coming to a stop.

 

“I was jealous of my uncle’s dog. I just didn’t get why Han could show so much affection to his friends' dog, but he could barely remember to ask me if I was okay. Or how he could offer to walk his friends' dog instead of picking me up from school. How he probably spent more time with that dog than he did with me during my childhood. How I wanted to spend time with him but he spent time with the dog instead. And when I hung out with him and the dog, it felt like I was third-wheeling. Fourth-wheeling if Chewie was there. So the whole birthday party for a dog thing. That. When I said ‘who holds a party for a dog’ I knew who. Han would. Nevermind the fact that the majority of my birthdays were spent alone on the kitchen counter with a single home brand cupcake.”

 

“I actually really like home brand cupcakes.”

 

Ben lets out a laugh and graces her with a soft smile.

 

“You would," he teases. "I don’t mean to sound so bitter. I don’t want to sound so bitter. Because I know now that my parents loved me. Love me. But at the time it didn’t feel like it. And this,” he says gesturing to the cardstock and his calligraphy set, “reminds me of that time. Which I hate. Because I love my job. Even if I do complain about it. I adore it. But this particular project makes the job hurt a little bit.”

 

Rey runs her index finger slowly around her cup, absorbing the information.

 

“I could maybe help you with it?”

 

“With what?”

 

“With the project.”

 

“With the calligraphy?”

 

“Yes,” she huffs out. “With the calligraphy.”

 

“Rey. Sweetheart. I love you. And you’re great with your hands. But you’re not great with your hands in this way.”

 

A silence falls over them as what Ben says sinks in. A flurry of words rushes over them, their sentences entangling around each other.

 

“No, I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that you run a garage so you’re hands are you know…but you’re really shit at braiding and manicures so-”

 

“I could be good with my hands if I wanted to. I’m very determined when I want to be.”

 

Rey steadfastly ignores the way her heart flutters at the endearment of ‘sweetheart’ and tries to delete the memory that is already burned into the back of her mind- the shape of his lips as they formed an ‘I love you’.

 

Rey knows he loves her. She loves him. But she also knows that they love each other in different ways. Ways that aren’t exactly compatible with each other.

 

She stares at him, lips parted waiting for him to break the silence. He breaks the gaze in favour of examining the Christmas themed magnets on her fridge that she never could find the energy to take down.

 

“Fuck,” he sighs running a hand through his hair. “I really didn’t want it to come out like this.”

 

Rey places her forehead against Emily’s. “No swearing in front of Emily remember,” she gently reminds him.

 

“Right,” he mumbles and he suddenly averts his gaze looking anywhere but at her. “Right,” he repeats turning around so his back is to her. Even though she can’t see his face, she can see that the tips of his ears are stained red. In embarrassment?

 

No.

 

This is more than just embarrassment for Ben, Rey muses. And she doesn’t know what to do about it so she does what she always does and moves on from the topic.

 

“You know what you should do? You should draw geraniums in the pattern of a dog paw.”

 

Ben lets out a sharp sardonic laugh, and she observes his shoulders move up once, twice before coming to a still.

 

“Right. Yeah. That’s a great idea.”

 

He turns around to face her and the smile that is stretched across his face looks painfully forced. Almost nightmarish. It reminds her of the smiles that are painted across those creepy Halloween doll’s faces. Rey feels a sudden ache in the pit of her stomach. He’s never smiled at her like this before.

 

“What’s the matter?”

 

Rey’s not exactly sure why she asks this. She’s not sure she knows how to deal with whatever his answer is. But the question just bubbled right out of her before she could stop herself.

 

“Can you pass Emily to me please?” he asks abruptly.

 

She studies him for a moment before nodding her head, gently placing Emily into his outstretched arms.

 

“What’s the matter?” she repeats, her voice soft.

 

“We’re friends right?” he asks

 

“Yeah.”

 

“So we can tell each other anything.”

 

Rey hesitates because as much as they can tell each other anything and they do tell each other everything, there is one thing that Rey isn’t willing to tell him. Realizing that she has been silent for entirely too long she lets out a hurried, sharp “yes.”

 

“So if I were to tell you… if I…” he presses his lips gently against Emily’s forehead as he gathers his thoughts. “If I told you…”

 

A frustrated groan escapes his lips.

 

“Fuck it… do you want to go on a picnic with me?”

 

Rey is about to admonish him for swearing again but his eyes silence her immediately. They are soft and gentle but there’s a desperateness that peeks through the honey brown, and his lips are parted slightly and Rey is confused as fuck, because all of that, all of that strangeness was for a picnic?!? They go out together heaps, so what’s so different about going for a picnic?

 

“A picnic.”

 

He swallows, glancing down before nodding sharply.

 

“I like picnics,” she offers somewhat hesitantly. “So yeah.”

 

Ben sighs sharply in...relief. At least Rey thinks it’s in relief. But what is there to be relieved about, it’s a fucking picnic? Does he have some secret passion for them? A picnic kink?

 

“So,” she begins tentatively. “You really like picnics or…”

 

“Yeah sure,” he shrugs sounding incredibly unbothered for someone who was just panicking about picnics. Suddenly his expression changes his eyes widen comically and a hurried “but if you don’t like picnics we can totally do something else,” escapes his lips.

 

“No,” Rey begins cautiously. “I mean I like picnics. And the picnic thing seems really important to you, so yeah. We can do a picnic.”

 

“It’s not really,” he says shaking his head. “I just thought it’d be nice.”

 

Rey figures that if he’s insisting on playing it cool she’ll let him play it cool. She’ll let it slide. She’ll be nice.

“If you say so,” she mock sighs in surrender. “Netflix?”

 

“Sure. Can you take my cup?” he asks nodding towards his mug, his hands busy with the tiny human that is Emily who is clinging onto him tightly. Is it weird to be jealous of a baby, Rey thinks as she realizes that Emily has probably gotten more hugs from Ben than Rey ever would.

 

When Rey walks over to the couch she finds Ben spread out laying on his back, Emily resting on his chest giggling as Ben wriggles his eyebrows at her. The sight makes her heart ache because who the fuck gave him the right to be so good with children?

 

“Did you leave any room for me?” she teases, gesturing towards the absurd sight of his massive body that barely fits on the couch.

 

He shuffles up a little bit and kicks the empty space beside his leg. “Here.”

 

“Next to your feet?”

 

“Yeah. I thought you had a foot kink?”

 

“When have I ever mentioned having a foot kink?”

 

“You haven’t,” he smirks. “I’m just testing out the waters.”

 

Testing out the waters. What the fuck does that mean? What is he testing out the waters for?

 

“Okay,” she says peering at him suspiciously out of the corner of her eye as she settles down next to his feet. “Waters.”

 

“What do you want to watch?” Ben asks as he lazily flicks through Netflix. “Are you actually going to watch or are you just going to scroll through things on your phone?”

 

“Rude,” she shoots back. “I am going to watch, but,” she says letting out a small cry of victory as she heaves her laptop onto her lap and nestles it in between her crossed legs. “I will be attempting to do business stuff for the garage on excel. Except I don’t understand excel.”

 

“Good luck with that. How do you feel about Queer Eye?”

 

“No. It makes me cry. Just put the Holy Grail on or something.”

 

“‘Kay.”

 

Rey lets herself watch the first ten minutes before opening up excel cursing under her breath as she tries to make sense of what goes where occasionally glancing up at the screen and letting out a chuckle.

 

When Doctor Piglet and Doctor Winston appear on the screen, the sound of soft snoring prompts Rey to glance over at Ben. He is fast asleep, his chest rising and falling gently, with a sleeping Emily moving up and down with the movements, her fists clenched tightly onto the material of his thin black undershirt, his nipple piercings poking out next to her fist.

 

The sight is so endearing and sweet Rey can’t help the small smile that plays upon her lips. She slides her phone from her pocket and snaps a few (twenty) pictures, picking out a few to send to Rose and Finn.

 

Swiping through the pictures Rey wonders if it would be weird to make them her phone screen saver.

 

It’s not like it’s her baby and it’s not like Ben is the father, or her boyfriend. It’s just a picture of her best friend and her goddaughter looking utterly adorable. After considering how to not make it weird, Rey slides off the couch crouching down next to Ben’s face to take a selfie of her smiling with Ben and Emily sleeping soundly behind her.

 

There, she thinks as she crops the photo slightly, pressing her finger to the ‘save as screensaver’ button. Now it’s not weird. Kind of. Still is. It probably would’ve been better if they were all awake.

 

She doesn’t know how long she spends staring at the pretty picture of her two favourite humans deep in a peaceful slumber but a soft knock at the door startles her out of her thoughts.

 

She slowly stretches out, flexing her feet with a satisfying crack before getting to her feet and lumbering over to the door. The door creaks open and she is greeted by the smiling faces of Rose and Finn.

She brings her index finger up to her lips. “They’re still asleep,” she murmurs against her finger.

 

“Hello to you too, Peanut,” Finn retorts, Rose smacking him in the arm in response.

 

“I saw the picture,” she cooed. “They’re utterly adorable together.”

 

“They really are,” Rey replies and Finn wiggles his eyebrows at her in a way that is entirely too knowing.

 

“Shut up,” she directs towards Finn. “I’ll go get Emily.”

 

“Don’t invite us in for tea or anything,” Finn whisper shouts at her back as she trudges towards the couch, and she can’t help the giggle that escapes her lips when she hears Finn’s telltale whine of “why do you keep hitting me?”

 

As she leans down to gently lift Emily from the warmth of Ben's chest she is met with resistance. Emily nuzzles deeper into Ben’s chest, her tiny button nose squishing further into the soft material of his shirt. Rey feels a pang of empathy for Emily because if she was on Ben’s chest she wouldn’t want to leave it either.

 

She tries again but Emily’s fists clench tighter into the material of his shirt, her fists full of stretchy black fabric.

 

“Emily. Baby. I get you, I really do. This is such a mood. But you’re going to have to let go of him sweetie,” she whispers.

 

She hears muffled laughter behind her and she quickly turns around to find Finn obnoxiously laughing at her demise.

 

“A mood?” he cackles.

 

“Shut the fuck up,” she whispers furiously. “Are you going to help me or not?”

 

Finn sighs rolling his eyes before slowly, slowly walking over to her.

 

“Fine. But I think you have some competition there Rey.”

 

“Yeah, you’re hilarious.”

 

Finn gently places his hands around his daughter and lifts her off slowly so as to not wake her up. He’s successful in lifting her of Ben’s chest but is unsuccessful in getting Emily to unfurl her fingers from the fabric of Ben’s shirt. Consequently, Ben’s shirt stretches and stretches up until it snaps and Emily is now lazily blinking her eyes open giggling when she realizes that she has two pieces of black fabric in her hands.

 

Rey is in shock.

 

What the actual fuck was that?

 

Granted the shirt was thin, full of holes and it’s probably grateful that it’s been relieved of the duty of clinging to the contours of Ben’s chest. But still. Emily just ripped Ben’s shirt open and is Rey jealous of a baby? Not really but it kind of feels like it.

 

If only Rey had the guts to be as forward as Emily was.

 

Finn is openly laughing struggling to get a grip on Emily as his body shudders with each laugh that is forced out of him, Rose looks bemused and confused, Rey is still staring at the two pieces of black fabric that Emily is now waving around in her hands and Ben is now awake, groaning as he moves to sit upright. He glances down at his chest and up at Emily’s hands.

 

“What just happened? His voice groggy and his hands move up to cover his exposed pecs which just makes Finn laugh harder and Rose has to take Emily from his arms as he doubles over in laughter. Now that Ben is sitting up his shirt looks like a strange emo haute couture vest and he looks so ridiculous and so sinfully sexy for someone who just woke up that Rey has to excuse herself, muttering something about making a cup of tea because god she needs it.

 

Her mind is a mess. A mess of torn clothing, hot skin, her back against his chest, them Netflixing and chilling when there’s no baby in the room, or maybe there is because they would make the cutest babies together.

 

Rey tries to shake herself out of her horniness, leaning her head against the cool tile of the counter, listening to the steady rumble of the kettle to try and centre herself when she is suddenly startled out of her meditation as she feels a sudden wall of heat behind her. She straightens up and turns around letting out a squeak when she realises the wall of heat was shirtless Ben.

 

He has stripped off the remnants of his black shirt, and god he is standing so close to her- why does he have to be so close. She can feel his breath graze against her collarbone and she tightly grips the counter behind her for support, her knuckles going white. His eyes gaze directly into hers and he’s so close she can’t avert her gaze, all there is to look at is him.

 

“Rey,” he murmurs his lips barely moving and god she can feel his voice more than she can hear it at this point.

 

Not trusting herself to speak she nods sharply in acknowledgement.

 

“I thought you might want to recycle the shirt as cleaning rag or something,” he says dangling the black shirt in front of her loosely before placing it on the counter behind her.

 

“Right,” she swallows. “Thanks. I’ll do that.”

 

“And Rey,” he says -wait, did his eyes just flicker down to her lips- “Rose and Finn asked if you could also fix them with a cup. Rose asked if you had chamomile.”

 

Rey clears her throat. “Yep. Um,” she says wiping her hands down on her jeans barely skimming past his body. “I do. I can do that.”

 

“Great.”

 

He tilts his head to the side and inches closer towards her. Rey thought he was pretty fucking close before but now his nipple piercings are brushing against the fabric of her hoodie and his breath is hot in her ear and this time her attempt to repress a shudder is wholly unsuccessful.

 

“I’m really looking forward to our picnic together,” he whispers in her ear and he stays there for a moment his lips so close to brushing against her ear that if she moved her head a millimetre his lips would be there, but then he is gone, stalking out of the room leaving her a trembling mess.

 

Rey starts laughing hysterically because god she is a horny, confused mess of a human and Emily ripped off Ben’s shirt, she’s pretty sure that Ben was just flirting with her and he’s still going on about the fucking picnic.

 

God the sexual frustration is really getting to her.

 

When she finally gets her shit together and she can breathe without the exhale being a chuckle she finishes making the cups of tea and decides against bringing out the jam biscuits in hope that Rose, Finn, Emily and Ben would leave soon because as much as she loves them to death, she needs some alone time. Desperately.

Chapter Text

A knock at the door wakes Rey from her reverie of staring blankly at her now cold cup of tea.

 

With a quick glance at the clock, she calculates that she has another hour before meeting Ben to change out of her ratty old sweatpants (they were so old, the elastic had been overstretched and the only thing keeping them up was her squat-toned arse) and idly wonders if maybe the knock at the door was the postman delivering her glass dildo order. She could really do with an orgasm before meeting Ben. She has a theory that it may ease the tension and horniness that is always inevitably present when she is around Ben, and now more than ever seems like a good time to test it out.

 

That line of thought quickly disappears when she opens the door and sees Ben’s hulking figure before her.

 

Before she can ask him why he’s early, or wonder if something is wrong with her clock, or maybe her near-constant state of horniness has rendered her unable to read the time, Ben not so gracefully shoves this thing in her face with a barely coherent mutter of “I’msorryI’manhourearlybutyeahIgotyousomethingpleasetakeit”.

 

Rey stares down at the artistically arranged bouquet of broccoli, green peppers, yam, asparagus, zucchini, rosemary, tomatoes and beetroot wrapped in brown paper and twine that Ben has thrust out at her.

 

After his hand starts to falter either out of her lack of reaction or the weight of the bouquet, she takes it, rotating it around in her hand to examine it further, before looking up at Ben.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Uh-well,” he hesitates, his hand flying to his hair aggressively running his fingers through it. “I was going to get you flowers, but I wasn’t really sure what flowers you liked, and then I remembered that you love food, and I know everyone does- but seriously the way you are with food is the most majestic fucking weird thing ever- so I thought maybe a food bouquet would be great, and apparently vegetable bouquets are a thing so,” he blushes as if he’s only just realised that’s he’s ranting and it’s so endearing it’s almost overwhelming. “So I got you a vegetable bouquet,” he finishes lamely. “I thought maybe we could make a salad or something with it for the picnic. Unless you don’t want to. Which is fine.”

 

“No, no. That sounds lovely.” And she genuinely means it. Yeah, she loves flowers - who doesn’t- but this, this is so much more considerate. So much better. It’s so much more her. Growing up in the wasteland that was Jakku fresh produce like the ones that were so artistically arranged wasn’t available. Nothing really grew in Jakku. Life barely existed in Jakku. Life wasn’t a thing. Can life really be a thing if you’re existence revolved around survival?

When Rey moved out to Chandrila she was teased mercilessly-though in good jest- for her love of green vegetables. The green vegetables that young children would push to the side of their plate and make scrunched up faces at. Those vegetables. Rey treasured them, thought they were the most beautiful, delicious thing known to man. Yeah, she likes junk food who doesn’t, but vegetables to her were a delicacy. Cheap greasy food was not. And yes, she’s in a position in life where she can eat vegetables and she does, and every time she does god is she grateful, she doesn’t think she’ll ever get used to the gloriousness of vegetables. So, this bouquet makes her want to cry a little because it’s perfect. And she knows she shouldn’t be surprised because it’s Ben so of course, he knows those details, but still, it surprises her.

 

People caring for her will never cease to surprise her. Ben caring for her will always make her heart skip a beat.

 

“Come in,” she says moving away from the door making her way to the kitchen. “We have an hour so maybe can roast them.” She feels like she’s floating on cloud nine because Ben is here and he just gave her a bouquet of vegetables and she hears Ben chuckle at her childish glee. “Oooh, and I have some feta cheese we can crumble in afterwards.”

 

“Yeah, yeah that sounds great,” he replies sliding onto his stool watching her as she gets busy washing the vegetables.

 

“Are you not going to help me?” she teases, calling out over her shoulder over the sound of the running water.

 

“No, thanks. I’m just going to appreciate the view.”

 

Rey blushes and she is grateful that she has her back to him.

 

“The kitchen is rather lovely,” she jokes.

 

“I can help though. I could cut and peel?”

 

“Yeah, thanks that’d be great.”

 

As Ben peels and cuts next to her, shoulders brushing hers Rey can’t help but fall in love with how domestic this feels. Hips bumping playfully into her as they joke, Ben, panicking when Rey pretends that she nicked her finger with the knife. It feels like someone has poured a warm lit filter over her life, and no her life isn’t perfect but at that moment she feels so happy that life feels like it could be.

 

“This is fun,” she murmurs.

 

“Don’t you normally have fun with me?” he teases.

 

“Shut up,” she whines. “You know what I mean,” she adds her voice dropping in volume.

 

“I do.”

 

When she looks up at him, he is looking directly at her, his gaze burning through her igniting a fire in the pit of her stomach that is constantly burning for him. There is a strand of hair out of place, brushing across his forehead and Rey can’t resist brushing it behind those fucking massive ears that he hates but she wants to nibble on. His eyes darken and she can’t breathe because god, yeah the weather is nice today but it’s not that hot is it and the room is closing around them and she is simultaneously too close and not close enough to him. She breaks the gaze with a cough, moving away to grab the olive oil and rosemary.

 

“Seasoning,” she offers weakly.

 

“Bathroom,” he replies with a sharp nod.

 

Rey deeply breathes in and out as she turns on the oven and sets the timer, mentally going through her garage to-do list to distract herself from Ben. But the garage now reminds her of Han, with the number of times he pops over to bring lunch and help her with work, and thinking about Han makes her think about Ben, and thinking about Ben leads her straight back to square one.

 

Fuck she needs a shower. Preferably a cold one.

 

“ Shower,” Rey blurts out as Ben walks back into the room, the hair framing his face slightly damp. “I’m going to have a shower.”

 

“Didn’t you shower earlier? Your hair’s still wet.”

 

Shit. It was, wasn’t it?

 

“I need another one. I forgot to wash the conditioner out of my hair,” she lied. “Probably should do that. It has honey in it”- it doesn’t but Ben doesn’t need to know that- “and I don’t want bees and flies to bother me during the picnic.”

 

Rey is slightly impressed with herself because yeah it’s a shit lie but it’s kind of believable. Actually, it really isn’t, never mind.

 

“Right. Okay,” Ben says slowly nodding and Rey knows he doesn’t believe her but he seems content in letting her lie slide and for the moment that is enough for her.

 

“You can watch Netflix in the meanwhile. Or read a book. Help yourself.”

 

“Right,” he nods.

 

“I’m just going to,” she says pointing towards the general direction of her bathroom as if Ben has no idea where her fucking bathroom is when he was just using it. “Yep,” she finishes lamely.

 

She closes the bathroom door behind her with a thud, leaning against the door and exhaling sharply.

 

“Bloody hell,” she mutters in an absolute daze as she strips off her shirt and shimmies down her ancient sweatpants. She shivers slightly as the cold water hits her skin before humming tunelessly as her body adjusts to the icy water.

 

As much as the cold water cools her down, the intense burn between her thighs remains, throbbing and insistent. If anything the cold water exacerbates it, the contrast between the heat in the pit of her stomach and the cold droplets that run down her body creating pretty abstract patterns as they go, and Rey doesn’t know if her nipples are hard because of the water of because of her arousal. It becomes unbearable in the most delicious of ways and Rey can’t help but wonder if it’s in bad taste to masturbate thinking about the object of your affections when the object of your affections is a room away from you? Probably. But Rey needs to do this. She doesn’t think she could survive this fucking picnic or just time around Ben without this.

 

Of course, she’s going to have to be quiet.

 

She is good at being quiet. Years of being in a tight enclosed space at her old foster home, surrounded by other foster children where the concept of privacy never saw the light of day taught her to be quiet.

 

But she wouldn’t be quiet for Ben. No, Ben would coax everything out of her, every murmur, every groan, every gasp, every moan. He would swallow them with kisses or goad her to make more of those pretty noises.

 

Rey wouldn’t want to be quiet for Ben. She would want him to know the extent to which he affects her and because she knows that Ben is observant, and can read her oh so well, she knows that he would respond perfectly to her, working her to the edge before withdrawing completely because all evidence suggests that Ben- even if he doesn’t mean to be shirtless around Rey so often-is a fucking tease. And Rey doesn’t know if she can survive any more of his teasing but god does she want to find out.

 

As her hands trail across her collarbone down to her breasts to harshly pinch her nipples she imagines his hands completely engulfing her tits, his gaze inquisitive and slightly hesitant as his fingertips barely circle her areola gradually increasing in pressure until it’s just right and she is left breathless. As her hand trails lower to dip into her wetness she imagines his mouth around her tits, his tongue flicking her nipple back and forth to the point of desensitization, her mind numb with pleasure. She imagines him kissing down the length of her body, eyes dark as he asks her if it’s okay if he goes down on her as if she hasn’t been dreaming about this scenario ever since she first met him.

 

As her fingers start to gently circle her clit she imagines how he would fuck her. Rey likes to think that he would be brutal. He would bend her in half, slinging her legs over his shoulder, furiously desperately fucking into her, murmuring dirty nothings. He would fuck her brutally but he’d be gentle in his mannerisms. He’d brush his lips gently across her ankle, the back of her knee, tuck stray pieces of hair behind her ear, would brush sweet kisses against the length of her spine as he turned her over gently guiding her onto her hands and knees before resuming his brutal pace.

 

Or maybe he would go slowly. Patiently letting her stretch around him letting her feel all of him- every ridge, every inch- before teasingly withdrawing from her at such a slow pace, chuckling as he rubs the head of his cock against her clit until she whines for him to fill her and even now in the shower with two fingers inside her rubbing insistently against that magical spot she feels empty because it’s not Ben. It’s not Ben, why isn’t it Ben, it should be Ben.

 

Her finger rubs insistently at her clit in tight circles, her breath coming in heavy pants and she can hear Ben’s voice echoing in her head, a deep rumble of “you’re close aren’t you? I know you are. You’re so fucking wet sweetheart. You’re such a fucking mess for me. I want to hear you come, Rey. Will you do that for me. Please. I just want to hear those pretty sounds baby, come for me, Rey. Come.” And as she remembers that Ben is a room away from her and the impropriety of what she’s doing catches up with her and she comes with a breathy “fuck” her body shuddering and whimpering as she grinds against her hand riding her orgasm out for as long as possible thinking about how maybe-just maybe Ben heard her, and he knows what she’s doing and he knows that she was thinking about him while doing it.

 

As much as Rey doesn’t want him to know what she was doing she also wants him to. She wants him to know that that was all just for him.

 

If he was watching Netflix then he probably couldn’t hear her but for the sake of giving in to her utmost desires, she imagines he did.

 

As she catches her breath she closes her eyes and leans her forehead against the cool tile of the wall, letting the water wash over her.

 

She’s probably been in the shower far too long for her conditioner lie to be more feasible than it already wasn’t but on the plus side, the vegetables are probably halfway done.

 

Rey dries off wrapping the damp towel around her body, kicking her dirty clothes with every step. As soon as she opens the door she is attacked by this thing and she scrambles to keep her towel up.

 

“BB-?” she hears Ben call wearily.

 

As her hands are clasped to her chest keeping the towel secure around her she looks at the ginger speckled corgi that is happily wagging his tail at her, slowly and carefully bending down to pat BB’s head.

 

Ben’s feet come into view and she looks up at him.

 

“Why is BB in my flat?”

 

Ben’s Adam’s apple bobs and he croaks something that sounds awfully like “towel,” before clearing his throat. “Poe was walking BB around the area when he got an emergency phone call and he was wondering if we could look after BB while he’s dealing with...what he’s dealing with. And I thought since we were going to the park anyways...I’m sorry if I overstepped by saying yes. I just figured since you love BB and-”

 

“Ben, yeah. It’s fine. I do love BB. You didn’t overstep” she says, scratching the back of BB’s ear one last time before bringing herself to full height again, smiling at him.

 

Ben clears his throat.

 

“I’ll let you go get ready.”

 

Right. Because her modesty was only barely protected by her threadbare towel.

 

Rey blushes, mutters a quick “thanks” before scurrying off to her bedroom.

 

It’s not like she wanted Ben to see her in barely anything, Rey thought as she pulled on her jeans, subconsciously sucking in her stomach to tug the fly up. And it’s not like she intended him to see her in that state. It was pure chance. But there’s a tiny part of her that is happy that Ben saw her in nothing but a towel. Because she wants him to think of her like that. She wants him to go back into her lounge room, continue mindlessly watching whatever he was watching and think about her in the way that she thinks about him.

 

In the way that friends probably shouldn’t think about each other.

 

Shaking that train of thought out of her mind, she shrugged on a linen shirt checking her reflection one last time before exiting her room, the towel now wrapped around her head.

 

Rey opened up the oven a smidge, checking on the vegetables inhaling the deep scent of rosemary before plopping over to the lounge where Ben is snuggling with BB.

 

“How are the veggies?” Ben asks, his fingers combing lightly through BB’s fur.

 

“Good. Another half-hour or so.”

 

Ben hums in response shifting his arm, so it lies on the back of the sofa behind her.

 

This is new, Rey thinks as she starts to overanalyze the consequences of leaning back into his arm.

 

Fuck it. She leans back and Ben’s hand curls lightly around her shoulder.

 

She glances at the tv screen and curses. “Queer Eye? Really?”

 

“BB’s a massive fan,” Ben says entirely too seriously his soft eyes sincere.

 

“It makes me cry.”

 

“Than BB can comfort you.”

 

“I guess there’s that.”

 

When JVN starts working on Rob Elrod’s hair and Rey feels tears well up in her eyes at the sight of his son getting a haircut next to him Ben turns to her and softly asks “Can I braid your hair?”

 

Grateful for the distraction Rey nods and gets up to rummage through her bathroom drawer and find a hairbrush and hair tie. Unravelling her hair from the towel she gently places the brush and bobble next to Ben, sliding down to sit between his legs.

 

“We’re at a less emotional bit now,” he says as he gently runs the brush through her hair.

 

“No. This is the house reveal. This is the emotional peak in the episode.”

 

“Well. BB’s here if you need him.”

 

Rey tries to lose herself in the feeling of Ben’s hands deftly untangling knots in her hair, in the feeling of his fingers deftly weaving strands of her hair, and she does lose herself momentarily.

 

She still ends up tearing up anyway and she reaches behind her to stroke at BB’s ear.

 

“I’m sorry,” Ben sighs as he wraps the hair bobble around the end of her braid. “I know how you feel about Queer Eye.”

 

“I love it, it’s a great show. I just hate that I can’t get through an episode without crying.”

 

“I dunno. I think it’s kind of cute how you do that.”

 

“You think me crying is cute?” she asks playing affronted.

 

“Well when you phrase it like that, it sounds fucked.”

 

Rey turns around between his legs and rolls her eyes at him.

 

“That’s because it is.”

 

“Hush.”

 

“Thanks for braiding my hair.”

 

“I like braiding your hair,” Ben shrugs. “It makes me happy.”

 

Rey wants to say something overly sappy in response like ‘you make me happy,’ but it sounds too uncharacteristic of her and too tender of a moment and as much as Rey yearns for these moments with Ben it’s overwhelming. He’s overwhelming. Her feelings for him are overwhelming.

 

The oven pings and Rey is saved from her spiralling thoughts, quickly scrambling to her feet, BB jumping down from the sofa padding behind her, letting out a whine when she pulls the roasting tray from the oven.

 

“No, it’s not for you BB,” she chides but BB ignores her following her steps around the kitchen. “Ben, can you help with BB?” she calls over her shoulder.

 

“Sure.” From her peripheral she sees toned arms scoop up BB and when she turns back around to grab the feta cheese from the fridge she is greeted by the sight of Ben sitting on his stool cradling BB in his arms like a baby and her heart melts a little. “That has to be a crime,” she mutters under her breath.

 

“What?”

 

Shit. “Nothing.”

 

“What?”

 

“Nothing,” she repeats but this time it comes out as more of a whine that her fragile dignity can’t handle.

 

“Not nothing.”

 

“It’s just,” she sighs heavily. “The image of you and BB right now looks like something I’d find on a cute guy with dogs Reddit thread that everyone from teenagers from seventy-year-old women and gay men thirst over.” She mulls over her words and inhales sharply. “Christ, I can’t believe I just said that.”

 

“...Thank you?”

 

“You’re welcome,” she grumbles messily transferring the vegetables into the Tupperware container and closing the lid over it with a satisfying click. “Can we pretend I never said that?” she asks after a moment of silence that was accompanied by the happy pants of BB.

 

“You can, but I probably won’t,” Ben replies a smirk gracing his lips.

 

“Okay, fine. Let’s just go on this fucking picnic.” Rey doesn’t mean to sound so unenthusiastic but she’s just so frustrated- emotionally frustrated with herself, sexually frustrated and frustrated with Ben for no real reason whatsoever.

 

“Hey, hey.” Ben’s voice is oddly soothing, but not in a patronizing, placating way. In a way that is entirely too sincere. “If you don’t want to go on the picnic we don’t have to. We could just stay in.”

 

“No, you were so keen for the picnic Ben so we’re going on the picnic,” Rey says and before Ben can say another word she picks up her tote bag full of all her shit and bustles out of the door so that Ben is forced to follow her.

 

Ben silently follows her down the stairs choosing not to question why they’re not taking the elevator- clever boy-, BB still cradled in his arms because BB’s corgi legs are no match against six floors of stairs.

 

“You know,” Ben starts as they walk towards the park across the road. “It wasn’t really ever about the picnic. It was more about spending time with you.”

 

That makes Rey turn to him and his eyes are soft, with that hint of vulnerability that makes her feel safe. She has no idea how to respond to that. Is she expected to respond to that? She probably should respond to that and yeah maybe she should be more open to the idea of being sentimental when Ben says things like that to her.

 

Ben doesn’t seem brave. Mostly because looking at him you can’t imagine him being in a situation where he has to be brave. He’s white, straight, an ex-corporate lawyer turned calligrapher. His figure and his general aura is so imposing you couldn’t imagine anything ever affecting him.

 

But he is brave. Not exactly a knight in shining armour but a knight nonetheless. He’s brave in the way that he left a toxic relationship with his boss at his old law firm. He’s brave in the way that he asked for forgiveness from his parents and in the way that he forgave them. He’s brave in the way that he’s civil on those Friday night dinners that Luke comes around and probes his weak spots. He’s brave in the way he looks at her all soft, in the way he comforts her, in the way that he willingly opens himself up to her scrutiny. He is brave in his sentimentality.

 

His bravery takes form in everyday actions rather than grand sweeping gestures. He’s brave in a way that is uniquely Ben.

 

Rey is not feeling brave. So in a cool, unaffected, perhaps unnatural tone, she says “I like spending time with you too.”

 

But she wants to be brave.

 

She grabs Ben’s hand in hers and squeezes it, catches his gaze and lets her lips relax into a small smile which he returns.

 

“Where’d you wanna sit?”

 

“Anywhere is good.”

 

They lay out their picnic blanket near the duck pond, Rey cooing over how cute the fluffy ducks are while Ben rolls his eyes at her.

 

“Fuck, these strawberries are so good,” Ben practically moans and Rey is entranced by the way his mouth nibbles at the sweet flesh of the fruit. Maybe it’s just her and her horny state of mind but strawberries look like clits her and her mind is going to places that are entirely inappropriate for the public setting of the park.

 

“Pass me one?”

 

Ben shifts closer to her, his arm around her -not touching her but almost-, hand next to her hip and instead of passing the punnet over to her he carefully picks up a strawberry by the stem and brings it to her mouth, nudging it open, coaxing her to bite down on it.

 

The sweetness of the strawberry floods her sense and just like Ben, a tiny moan escapes her mouth.

 

Ben’s gaze intensifies, and his honey brown eyes darken slightly, his pillowy lips part and his breath hitches and Rey feels like something is going to happen, that this is all culminating to something when suddenly Ben is distracted spotting something in his periphery that alerts him.
“What the fu-?” he whispers to himself, squinting towards the duck pond. “BB,” he calls scrambling to his feet darting towards the pond. “No, BB don’t do that.”

 

Rey stands up squinting towards the pond to see what the commotion is about. BB is dipping his paw into the pond, entranced by the ripples when he falls in. Rey lets out a screech because she’s not entirely sure if BB can swim, and even if he can there might be eels and she can’t let BB get hurt while he is entrusted in her care. Before she can spring into action, she hears a splash as Ben jumps into the pond, picks up BB holding him tightly against his now soaked chest.

 

“Silly BB,” Rey chastises as Ben sets BB down on the picnic rug. “You scared me,” she says softly yet sternly as she scratches the back of his ear, ignoring the strange feel of wet dog hair. She leans her forehead against BB’s forcing him to look at her. “Please don’t do that again.”

 

“Thank you for doing tha-”

 

When Rey looks up Ben is pulling off his shirt and if Rey thought shirtless Ben was bad then shirtless wet Ben was unimaginable. She was doomed. The pond water was probably disgusting but Ben made it look good. So, so good. His wet glistening chest was sinful. It was sex. It was Rey staring way too long at his chest and shit, is he purposefully flexing his pecs?

 

Rey forces her gaze from his chest to his slightly smirking face.

 

Bastard.

 

“It’s a nice day, may as well let the shirt dry,” he explains.

 

Wordlessly she rummages through her bag and grabs a clean white t-shirt and hands it to him.

 

“Here,” she says. “Take it.”

 

“Oh. I don’t think that’ll fit.”

 

“No, it should. I bought it for you.”

 

“...Why?”

 

After the last incident involving shirtless Ben, Rey was done. She couldn’t handle it. So she came up with the solution of carrying a spare shirt for Ben around just in case he’d lose his shirt again.

 

“Because.”

 

“How’d you get my size?”

 

Rey recalls that awkward conversation she had with Rose when she asked what size she thought Ben was. Rose giggled and told her “I don’t ever really want to think of my best friend like that but you’re probably going to have to buy some Magnums honey.”

 

“I went through your laundry basket.”

 

“That’s not creepy.”

 

“Shut the fuck up,” she says her voice defensive. “It’s not.”

 

“I’m only teasing,” he chuckles. “I think it’s cute. Thank you.” And with a quick smooth motion, he pulls the clean shirt over his head, the cotton clinging to his wet skin in a way that really defeats the purpose of Rey purchasing a shirt for him in the first place.

 

Life really isn’t fair, she thinks as she scratches BB’s tummy.

 

“Want another strawberry?” Ben offers with a charming smile that may just be her undoing.

 

When Rey says her goodbyes to Ben and gets back to her flat she stares at the ribbon that clings to the brown paper that held the bouquet of vegetables together, as she mulls over the day.

 

Why did he want to originally give her flowers? Why bring vegetables in the shape of a bouquet when Ben could’ve just brought vegetables in a bag like a normal human being. Why such an emphasis on the picnic aspect when Ben admitted that he only wanted to spend time with her. Why was he weirdly flirty, feeding her strawberries, not-so-subtly putting his arm around her, flexing his pecs when he noticed Rey’s stare, calling her cute.

 

Then it dawns on her. She just went on a date with Ben Solo.

Chapter Text

Rey desperately guzzled water from her drink bottle. The years that she has spent in Chandrila have made her weak.

This kind of heat in Jakku would’ve barely bothered her but god today. Today is a nightmare.
For one it’s hot. Sweltering. Occasionally there will be a cool breeze but most of the time, the air is still and bristling with heat. Secondly, it’s a slow day business-wise. No one has come to the garage at all today and with only one hour until close she decides to shut early, pulling down the shutter of the garage.

She peels off her sweat sticky shirt, unrolls the yoga mat she keeps in the corner and artfully arranges the two-dollar fans she bought around the mat before laying back on it with a relieved sigh. The cool air of the shitty fan feels amazing against the sweat of her skin cooling down immediately. Before she knows it her eyes start to feel heavy and instead of fighting the lull of sleep that comes to her she welcomes it, fluttering her eyes shut.

The low groan of the shutter opening up disrupts her hazy dream about free bacon, rousing her out of her deep slumber.

Rey gingerly sits up on her forearms, blinking the sleep away as she inspects the tall figure. Even if it wasn’t for the nervous rambling that spilled uncontrollably out from his mouth, she would know that figure anywhere. She’s memorised it. It’s been burned into the left side of her brain.

“Jesus Christ, it’s so hot out there I don’t know how people can stand it, now unlike last time I did message ahead saying I was coming but that probably doesn’t matter because you never check your phone anyway but Han asked if I could stop by and check on you because you have this thing where you nap after work and it fucks up your circadian rhythm, and why the fuck does he know this and I don’t, but anyway Thursday is date night for Han and Leia so Han sent me, and he said he mentioned it to you, but...shit.”

Ben’s voice stops abruptly and Rey watches him with amusement as he quickly turns his back to her, before slowly spinning back around to face her, blinking stupidly, his cheeks and ears flushed red.

“You’re not wearing a shirt.”

Huh. Rey glances down at the sweaty shirt that lies outside of the perimeter of her shitty fans that are now barely blowing air -hot or cold- at her.

“I guess I’m not.”

“You’re not wearing a shirt,” he repeats, lips barely moving in a rumble that is so low it might as well be to himself as his gaze examines her bare torso, the dip of her waist, the jut of her collarbones, the sharp angle of her shoulders before finally settling on her breasts.

“You’re not looking away.” To be fair, Rey doesn’t want him to look away. She likes the way his eyes darken, she enjoys feeling the weight of his gaze and the tingles it sends across her skin.

“You’re not covering up,” he rasps, biting down on his bottom lip, tugging at it before letting out an “S & M?”

Rey glances down at her chest. She forgot about the two black silicone letters that cover up the buds of her nipples which are rapidly tightening under Ben’s heated gaze.

“Um...yeah, Poe got them for me for Christmas. I think it was supposed to be a joke,” Rey offers awkwardly.

“...like Sado-Masochism? Because if you’re into that we could do that? I’ve never really done it before but it could be interesting, and if it’s with you and if it’s something you want to do then-”

God, he’s adorable when he’s flustered. Rey is usually so caught up in her own flustered state, hoping that Ben doesn’t notice that she hasn’t taken the time to appreciate how sinfully good flustered Ben is.

“Sandra and Margaret,” Rey cuts across his flustered rambling. “My tits. They’re called Sandra and Margaret.”

“Oh.”

“Are you disappointed?” Rey asks coyly, leaning back on the palms of her hand, arching her back slightly so that her tits are thrust out for his view.

“No, I mean...we can just add it on the list.”

“The list?”

“Yeah, the list of things we’re going together,” he says earnestly. He says it with such sincerity, tenderness and affection that it jars with the topic of discussion, sado-masochism and the juxtaposition lifts the lust-induced haze from her eyes, throwing her back into reality.

“Ben...we should talk.”

Ben stiffens at that his gaze shifts from heated to panicked, and his Adam’s apple bobs before he lets out a timid, “okay.”

“What,” Rey starts. “What exactly are we doing? What are-,” she trails off hoping that Ben would fill in the blank with what he wanted.

“Well, I like you,” Ben says simply. “And I think you like me too. So we should be together.”

“Fuck, Ben I don’t think it works like that. I don’t think it can just be that simple.”

“Why not?” his voice is petulant, childish and reminds her of that arsehole he used to be, the arsehole he was before she knew him, that arsehole he occasionally is- but never to her. He’s never been that arsehole to her.

“Because Ben, we can’t just jump straight into it. There’s so much that’s already there and you have to think about the consequences and-.” Rey pauses when she realizes Ben is starting to shrug off his shirt. “What are you doing?” she asks in a panicked, slightly hysterical voice.

“I can’t have this conversation while you’re shirtless. Can you just wear mi-”

“No. I’ve seen you shirtless five times. You can handle seeing me shirtless this once.”

“I plan on seeing you more than shirtless, more than once,” he shoots back a small smirk playing on his lips.

“Ben,” she groans, trying to ignore the flutter in her heart, and the heat that pools in the pit of her stomach at his words. “That’s not helping.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Ben says quickly as he shrugs his shirt back on, his arms flexing with the movement. “Listen, I don’t think this is as complicated as you think it is.”

“Well, how complicated do you think I think it is?”

“I’m not going to pretend that I know exactly what you’re thinking, because I don’t and that’d be way too presumptuous of me. But Rey, I know you and I think you’re overcomplicating this.”

“I really don’t think I am,” she says letting out a shaky laugh. “I like you- a lot, Ben. Like way too much. And for way too long. Like since I met you long. And I’ve objectified you slightly, fantasized about you, about our relationships, about our future life together and that’s not fair on you. Because I’ve created this fantasy of what we would be and if we were to become a thing, I’d just place that expectation upon you and that wouldn’t be fair. That wouldn’t be fair, on you or on me. So as much as I loved that picnic, that date. I don’t know if we should go beyond that. Can’t we just be friends that pine over each other, but are happy because we have each other anyway?”

“No.”

Rey inhales sharply and then physically reminds herself to exhale.

“No?”

“No,” Ben shakes his head walking towards her, gingerly stepping over the fans that have run out of power, lowering down to the ground so that they are face to face. “I don’t think we can be that. I think we’re past that, Rey.” His voice is gentle, a tender caress.

“I think what you just described is just the natural shit that comes with really, really liking someone. And it’s not like I haven’t been dreaming about what colour we’d paint our bedroom wall, or whether we’d use wallpaper, or arguing over whether we should invest in a thermomix or not. But I just kind of figured that it doesn’t matter if those fantasies and dreams never translate to reality. Because the common denominator in all those fantasies, is,” he lifts his hand and carefully brushes an astray strand of hair behind her ear. “You and me. Together. Romantically. And yeah it’s scary. But life is scary. And I reckon if you give me the chance, I can make it less scary for you.”

He leans forward, his nose gently brushing against hers before pulling back to look into her eyes imploringly. “Will you give me that chance?”

Rey bites her lip, tilts her head slightly towards him and nods.

“Yeah?” his breath brushes against her lips.

“Yeah,” she confirms closing the distance between them, pressing her lips gently against his. Dear God . His lips. They’re plush and soft, and everything that she expected but more. His movements are tentative. Measured. Silently telling her that she’s in control, that the ball is in her park. She desperately grabs at the fabric of his shirt, moving a hand to the back of his neck, sliding it into his soft hair and tugging at it inciting a low gasp from him and god- that gasp, that noise will be her undoing. His tongue slips between her lips, deepening the kiss, teeth nibbling at her lower lip and his hands move from her jaw to the dip of her waist, to where they settle on her hips, his fingertips rubbing tantalizing circles on her hip bones and it’s all too much and not enough.

She lets out a slight whine when he removes his lips from hers, but it quickly transitions into a breathy moan as he flutters kisses against the length of her jaw.

“Shit,” she hisses as he nuzzles a particularly sensitive spot on her neck, nipping at it before soothing it with a swipe of his tongue. “Just...stay there for a sec’.”

Ben chuckles against her neck but dutifully follows her instruction and she hums, basking in the pleasure as he sucks at her sensitive flesh.

She tugs him back up to her, peppering kisses across his cheeks, the upturned dimples of his smile, and licks a hot stripe up his neck, carefully tucking his hair behind his ear so that she can nibble at it before finally pulling back to address the source of her distress ever since she met him- his chest.

“Off,” she commands, gesturing to his shirt impatiently. Ben quickly complies, tugging it off in one smooth motion.

Her hands move on their own volition, seemingly disconnected with her mind but doing everything her mind has thought about doing for months. She traces over the hard line of his abs with shaky hands, her fingers reverently tracing every dip. She experimentally lays a kiss across his collarbone. And then another, before moving down to his nipples and that barbell piercing that has haunted her dreams for months. She presses kisses against the cluster of moles on his left pectoral, finally getting to play dot to dot with them like she wanted to ever since she discovered them.

She tentatively moves towards his nipple circling her tongue around it, looking up through her lashes to measure his reaction. Ben looks down at her through hooded eyes, and the way that he bites down at his lower lip encourages her to swallow the bud of his nipple, flicking harshly with her tongue at the circular end of the barbell, before repeating it on the other end. Ben lets out a low groan that shoots straight to her core, and she couldn’t help but smirk because she was the reason for that noise and she doesn’t think she’ll ever get over that. As she kisses her way to his left pec and sucks his nipple into her mouth, her hands move towards his jeans, hastily attempting and failing to unbuckle his belt.

“Rey, sweetheart-” his hands gently remove her hands from his belt, entwining them with his instead. She removes her mouth from his nipple with a pop, giving him a questioning glance. “What?”

“I’d love to...continue this,” he says slowly. “But can we do this, not here?” Rey looks around blinking slowly, remembering that she’s in the dingy workshop of her garage.

“Right, yeah sure,” she nods. “I’ll just lock up and we’ll walk to mine?”

“Thanks,” Ben says pressing a firm kiss on her forehead, her cheeks and a final one on her lips, a slow languid kiss that leaves her slightly breathless. “I love this place, and one day I will fuck you here,” he promises in such a grave tone that it would be comical if it wasn’t so unbelievably sexy. “But not today.”

Rey nods and she steals one more kiss from him before picking up her shirt, wrinkling her nose as she shrugs on the sweat-damp shirt.

Ben silently helps her lock-up, turning off the light before offering his hand, palm outstretched towards her and she happily takes it, entwining her hand around his, and it’s not a perfect fit-his hands resemble paws too much for it to-and their palms are sweaty and gross and really with this heat, if it was anyone else Rey would’ve shaken her hand out of their grip, but it’s Ben so she holds on to his hand, squeezing it while he rubs tiny circles against the back of her hand, swinging them back of forth in a grossly adorable display of affection.

When she rummages through her bag for her keys at the door, Ben curls around her, his chest against her back his nose nuzzling her hair and wait- is he sniffing her hair? Rey falters in her search for her keys.

“Are you smelling my hair?” she asks not unkindly, but a little self-consciously because she’s probably disgustingly sweaty and that can’t be the most attractive thing in the world.

“Yes.” His voice is muffled by her hair and his breath brushes against her neck in a delicious way. “You smell good,” he says taking inhaling deeper, nuzzling further into her hair.

“I doubt that,” she replies dryly relaxing back into his embrace, her search for her keys long forgotten.

“No you do,” he insists and she can feel his smile against her neck. “It’s nice. It’s calming and light,” - he takes in another inhale- “it’s fresh but smoky...maybe it isn’t. I don't know.” He shakes his head slightly. “It feels nice. I know that’s not a smell but-”

“No, I know what you mean,” Rey cuts him off, turning her head slightly to look at him.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Rey breathes in a whisper because she feels like if she speaks this moment, this feeling that they’ve been locked into will disappear.

Ben brushes her hair to the side gently and his nuzzling transitions into soft brushes of his lips against the nape of her neck.

His hand moves down from where it’s wrapped around her waist, slowly trailing down her stomach, skimming her pelvic bone before making its way down to her left hip, tapping against it briefly before dipping into her bag which hangs against her left thigh. Her breath stills as she feels the rummaging movements of his hand through the soft leather of the bag before a tiny adorable victorious cry leaves his lips as she hears the melodic jingle of keys as he trails the cold metal against the slither of skin between her shirt and shorts. As he brushes light kisses down the side of her neck he slides the key into the keyhole, twisting it to the side in one smooth motion and really unlocking a door shouldn’t be as sexy as he’s making it out to be but god, it really is.

With a firm push, Ben shoves the door open and holds it open with a steady hand above her head.

“Rey,” he whispers.

“Yes.”

“Let’s go inside.”

“Ah, right. Yes.” Rey untangles herself from his embrace but Ben keeps in contact with her, his hand low on her back guiding her through the door.

As she flicks on the light, Ben closes the door and Rey turns to him. “This is weird, right?”

“What?”

“This is weird,” she repeats. “Like how is this supposed to happen? I don’t know how this works I never do this. Do we just have sex now? Is that it? Or does it happen more organically?”

“Um…” Poor Ben looks at a loss for words, and she can see his mind scrambling to come up with a response. That comforts her. “I guess, I mean I don’t really know I never do this. I didn’t really think it was weird but now that you mention it, it is kind of weird isn’t it? The whole anticipation of it.” He tilts his head to the slightly, deep in thought. “I mean,” he begins slowly. “I didn’t think we’d just fuck here.” He gestures at the doorway and shakes his head in this endearing way that hurts but also feels really, really good. “I kind of thought we’d, you know, build up to it.” He waggles his eyebrows at her and then immediately grimaces, averting his eyes to the floor. “I don’t know why I did that.”

Rey giggles and raises her hand to delicately cup his cheek. “Bedroom?” she proposes through her laughter.

The corners of Ben’s mouth twitch up and he moves his head slightly to the side to brush a kiss against her hand.

“Yes.”

“‘Kay.”

Rey takes his hand and leads him to her room, spinning around to sit on the bed. She gestures grandly to her room as if he’s never seen it before.

“Welcome to my humble abo-” her sentence is cut off by the press of Ben’s lips against hers, her hands immediately coming to rest on the back of his neck- and shit, when did he take his shirt off?

“This is what we’re going to do,” he murmurs against her lips. “We’re going to get you out of those pretty little clothes of yours so I can acquaint myself with Sandra and Margaret and I’m going to thoroughly destroy those weird fucking nipple stickers you have because I don’t want something that Poe bought you on your chest, I’m sorry, I’m an innately jealous man like that.” He pushes her back down so that she’s lying on the bed and wedges a knee between her thighs, before lowering himself back down and insistently attacking her lips again. “After that, I’m going to go down on you. Because that’s been on my bucket list ever since I met you and I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust at any moment so before that happens I just really want to taste you. Please.” He pauses, pulling away from her for a moment to look deep into her eyes. “If you want those things of course,” he adds hastily.

“Shut the fuck up,” Rey murmurs, threading her fingers through his hair and tugging him back to her. “Of course I do.” She kisses him slowly as if they have all the time in the world and it’s kind of messy, an inelegant clash of teeth and tongue, but it feels like home. Suddenly a thought crosses her mind and she pulls back, frowning slightly. “And then you’re going to fuck me right?”

“Yes, Rey.” Ben chuckles as his fingers tease under the hem of her shirt. “Then I’m going to fuck you.”

He impatiently tugs off her shirt over her head, throwing it behind him, immediately turning his attention to her breasts. “Your tits,” he sighed. “Are so fucking pretty. Jesus Christ, when I saw you shirtless earlier-” He tugs at the ‘S’ of her nipple sticker, flicking the edges up gently with his finger. “Hello Sandra,” he whispers as he flutters kisses around the sticker, tracing the shape of it with his tongue.

“Shit,” Rey yelped as Ben suddenly yanks off the nipple cover.

“Sorry.” Ben immediately soothes the pain away, taking her nipple into his mouth, flicking it with his tongue, before sucking hard on it.

“No,” Rey moans. “That was…” Rey loses herself in the sensation of Ben laving affection on her breast, arching her back into it. “Good. It was good.”

“Good?” Ben detaches himself from Sandra, to peer up at her through his lashes, a smile playing on his lips.

Rey can only nod, and Ben moves over to Margaret.

“Hello Margaret,” he whispers against her skin and Rey barks out a laugh because he’s such a goof, what the fuck.

Ben repeats his treatment but instead of ripping off the ‘M’ from her chest he pokes his tongue around the edges of it, gently tugging it off with his teeth before swallowing her breast into his mouth. “You’re so,” Ben groans. “Fucking amazing.”

He tugs at her nipple one last time before kissing and licking elaborate patterns down her torso to her shorts that make her squirm.

“May I?” he asks, fiddling with the button of her shorts.

Rey wiggles impatiently. “I don’t know if you’re being polite or being a tease, but just...please, ” she huffs.

The way Ben trails kisses at the newly exposed skin as he peels her shorts of her answers her query and an impatient whine escapes her lips.
Rey resists the temptation to smack the bastard for being such a tease when she feels his smirk against the inside of her thigh but all thoughts of violence disappear as Ben licks a long hot stripe across her slit.

She moans.

It wasn’t a quiet, subdued moan that could have easily been muffled by the back of her hand. It was loud, slightly ostentatious. It was the kind of moan that said ‘yeah, I knew I was about to get eaten out but I didn’t expect that and I certainly didn’t mentally prepare myself for that .’

“You okay?” He is definitely smirking, she can just hear it in his voice, that bastard.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” she hisses. “You’re not that good, it’s just been a while.”

He pulls up the skin at her pubic bone to expose her clit and delicately circles his tongue around it causing another moan to erupt from Rey’s throat.

“Uh-huh,” Ben groans as he takes a lick at her folds, taking her labia between his lips and sucking on them, before lazily dipping his tongue in her centre, collecting the wetness that pools there. “Whatever you say.”

His voice, in general, does sinful, unforgivable things to her body, but with his voice so close to her core it vibrates against her skin in a way that has her tense, stomach contracted in anticipation of his next move.

She feels herself gush a little when he gathers the wetness that has dripped down to the outskirts of her folds, pushing it back to her centre with his tongue before lapping at with small kittenish swipes, collecting every last drop as if he was scared that it’d go to waste.

Moaning, Rey grinds impatiently against his face and her moan turns into a breathless gasp as he presses her hips down with his muscled forearm.

“You,” he runs his tongue hard against her slit. “Taste so fucking good,” each word punctuated by a nibble at the inside of her thigh.

“I could,” his voice thick with awe as he traces her labia with his index finger. “Do this all day.”

He teases the spot right next to her clit as he pushes a finger inside her, and she lets out a yelp at the sensation because Jesus Christ that’s just one finger and she feels deliciously stretched.

“Are you okay?” Ben asks, eyes full of concern at her yelp raising his face (and consequently his lips) away from her dripping centre.

“Yes,” she gasps, squirming against his finger, trying to get it to rub against that spot. “Just keep going.”

Ben happily complies, adding another finger, pressing hard up against her front wall and insistently rubbing and he sucks hard on her clit, alternating in pressure, occasionally flicking his tongue against it in this senseless rhythm except its not entirely senseless because-

He’s methodological in his approach but not in a way that feels clinical. More in a way that makes her feel cared for, as he drinks in her responses, examines them and figures out a way to make it better for her as if she’s not already putty in his hands.

Rey doesn’t know if it’s the way that his dark eyes lock onto hers filled with so much tender affection, or whether it’s the way his fingers shift to the right by a millimetre but suddenly she feels like she’s going to burst, explode, and she’s feeling so many sensations at once that she’s not entirely sure she’s going to survive this.

“Fuck, Ben please- hngggg just right there. fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckFUck.”

Ben ups his game, something she didn’t know was possible, sucking harder at her clit, hollowing his cheeks around it and his fingers curl up and shallowly rub at the spot that makes her see stars and suddenly she is-

She is gasping for air, her head spinning, her body jerking uncontrollably, her hands threaded through Ben’s hair tugging, and she is muttering nonsense that consists of mostly Ben’s name and a cacophony of vowel sounds. Ben works her through it, his fingers rubbing her gently, giving her something to clench around and Ben presses kisses on the inside of her thigh, occasionally nuzzling at her clit with his nose.

After her body spasms one last time, she scratches at Ben’s shoulders bringing him up towards her for a messy, wet kiss. His lips are red and slick with her arousal and Rey thinks that he’s never looked more beautiful.

 

“Inside me,” she says in between kisses. “Now.”

Ben hastily unbuckles his belt, throwing it behind him with a clank and he peels off his jeans with such school-boy eagerness it would be funny if Rey wasn’t as desperate as she was, and as he was.

When he pulls down his boxers and his cock juts out proudly, Rey forgets how to breathe.

“Holy shit Ben,” she whispers. “Your dick .”

It twitches when she mentions it and Rey has to remind herself to close her mouth so that she doesn’t drool. She knew he would be big, be proportionate, but now that his dick is in front of her, everything- his size, him feels so much more real.

“Okay?” he asks, and bless him he’s blushing slightly and his eyes are turned to the ground slightly as if he’s embarrassed about the splendour that is his dick.

“More than okay,” she breathes and her hand moves to stroke the tip of it resulting in a sharp inhale from him. “Come here,” she says patting the spot beside her. Ben complies and once he’s sat comfortably, Rey swings her legs over his, straddling him.

“I have an IUD,” she murmurs as she nibbles at the ear that always blushes so beautifully for her. “And I’m clean. You?”

“Clean,” he gasps as she traces the outline of his ear with the tip of her tongue.

“Great.”

She grabs his cock and guides it towards her centre, slowly moving down so that the head of his cock catches at her entrance looking at him through hazy eyes. They both inhale as she slides down until he bottoms out inside her, her arse hitting his thighs.

For a moment, neither of them are breathing just resting their foreheads against each other, staring deep into the other’s eyes. Rey breaks the silence with a guttural “fuck” and Ben groans against her, one hand moving from her waist to cup her face drawing her into a gentle kiss.

“You feel so good,” he moans, each word punctuated with a languid kiss.

She lets out a shaky exhale in response, shifting her hips slightly as she adjusts to the painfully delicious stretch.

Bringing her hands to his shoulders, Rey starts to move slowly, relishing in the way he fills and stretches her as she moves up and down his cock. He thrusts up into her, meeting her rhythm perfectly, and he bends down to capture her nipple (Sandra) between his lips.

“You’re so incredible,” Ben murmurs around her breast. “I can’t believe we’re doing this right now, you make me so incredibly happy.”

“God, I feel so full. I feel so full and you’re here right now. With me.”

Ben moves his hands to her waist before flipping her over and whispering in her ear “always, sweetheart.”

Rey whines a complaint when he draws himself out of her, but it quickly turns into a breathy moan when he rubs his cock against her slit, his tip nudging her clit.

“You’re so perfect, Rey. And wet. For me.”

He hooks one of her legs up on his shoulder and as he slides his cock inside her as he nibbles at the back of her knee.

“We look so good together,” he groans as he rocks into her, creating an even pace that is tantalizingly slow and perfectly hard. "You stretch around me so beautifully, sweetheart."

She swings a leg over his hips, heels digging into his arse urging him to go at a faster pace and suddenly he hits a deeper spot, one where his tip drags so sweetly against her g-spot and she suddenly feels lighter, her cunt fluttering around his dick in response.

“There?” he asks as he sucks a mark into the crook of her neck.

Rey can only nod desperately in agreement, a garbled sound escaping her lips that could- perhaps in some language in some universe pass as a ‘yes’.

Ben increases the speed of his thrusts slightly and Rey can only moan in response, trying to show her appreciation through desperate kisses that she flutters across his chest.

“I love those little sounds you make. They’re just for me aren’t they Rey? They’re so good,” he purrs. “You’re so good. Is it good Rey?”

“Yes,” she gasps and her voice comes out at a higher pitch then intended because suddenly he is rubbing mercilessly at her clit and she is choking on her moans, she can’t breathe, and her cunt is fluttering around his cock as she is comingcomingcoming. She feels entirely disconnected from her body as Ben rides out her orgasm with sharp thrusts whispering words of praise as he presses kisses against her hair, her forehead, her cheeks, her mouth. He soothes the tremors that rack her body, holding her closer to him as he continues to piston into her, his rhythm becoming increasingly frantic before he comes with a stuttered groan and Rey runs her fingers through his hair as she feels the warmth of his spend fill her, his breath hot against her forehead.

He gingerly pulls himself out when he has regained his breath, and he quickly pushes back the cum that drips out of her into her centre, smearing some across her labia before pressing the finger that is coated in a mixture of their spend between her lips for her to suck. She takes it enthusiastically, licking at it with kittenish swipes of her tongue, smiling at him as he looks at her through glassy eyes.

“I love you,” he blurts out and he immediately turns red at the confession. “And I’m not just saying that as a post-sex thing, out of a post-orgasmic haze.” He looks down at her, and though his eyes are still hazy his gaze is serious and his words are sincere. “I love you.”

Rey can’t help but smile- a full-blown smile, with teeth that reaches her eyes and tugs him down to lay next to her entwining their hands together, raising her lips to his knuckles brushing soft kisses against them.

“I love you too.”

Ben smiles back at her, and kisses her enthusiastically with too much tongue and too much teeth, but Rey can’t bring herself to care because the messy kisses between her and Ben feel like freedom, and euphoria- like they don’t really care because they have each other and that is enough. More than enough.

She giggles as Ben moves his lips from hers to press wet kisses to every inch of her face, murmuring declarations of love as he goes. He moves his way down her shoulder, to her arm and then to her hand which is still entangled in his. Ben pauses his kisses and after a moment Ben squints a little and brings it up to his face, his breath tickling her fingers.

“Is that-” Ben starts, his voice a mixture of hope, affection and a tinge of pride. “Are you wearing go-go geisha?”