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Ben! 

 

The sound of her voice is desperate, frightened. Their connection sputters and blurs. Ben whips his head about, trying to follow the direction of her voice, trying to feel her in the Force, just trying to find her. But she’s everywhere and nowhere. Her voice resounds from inside his head, her energy resides within his soul. But still, he seeks for her. 

 

Rey! Where are you?

 

And then he feels a blinding pain that courses through his veins and splits his head. He recoils, folding in on himself. Yet this pain is not his. It’s hers. She’s suffering, screaming. She feels like she’s dying. And if he is only feeling an echo of her pain… 

 

I’m coming, Rey. I don’t know how I’ll find you, but I will.  

 

Ben. Please… her voice is soft. So soft he barely hears her. And it breaks around sobs. She’s fading, letting the darkness close in around her. He despondently sends his awareness out, yearning, praying, seeking.

 

But then, they connect. Just barely. Like he’s grasped her smallest finger by the tip as she dangles from a ledge. Their bond ignites and Ben takes hold of it. The surge seemingly connects to his heart, tightens some imaginary thread about it as an anchor and then goes taut. A steady pulse, a beacon thrums from the other side. Pale and dim. But she’s there.

 

A lodestar to guide him home. To her.

 

*************************

 

Their tether did not lead him wrong. He let it guide him, making his navigation adjustments by the feel of her call. And when he landed deep in the forest and opened the door, her presence filled him, overwhelmed him. He could have walked through the trees blinded and still reached her embrace. She held out her arms to him, an unnatural smile curling her lip, and then she collapsed. 

 

Ben caught her before she hit the ground, hefted her in his arms and held her tight. A quick scan with his senses made him exhale in relief. Physically, she was relatively unharmed. A few bruises and cuts that he could heal easily, if not with his limited healing powers than with bacta gel and time. Based on the pain that he felt through their bond, he’d expected to find her barely alive, bleeding out. Her scarcely marred body in his arms suddenly made his stomach drop. If her pain wasn’t physical, then that could only mean…

 

And then her head lolled until it fell against his chest and the scent of her - sunlight and rain and snow and fire; all the memories of them bombarded him when her essence overtook him and he was lost, pulling her tighter against him.

 

“I’m here, Rey. I have you. You’re safe.”

 

She mewled in his arms, a soft moan escaping her lips and she wrapped her arms about him like vines, slithering up until they laced around his neck. Her eyes opened as she teetered on the edge of consciousness, searching his. They were darker, unfocused and her thick eyelashes fluttered as she fought to keep them open. “Kylo…” She breathed out against the skin of his neck as she nuzzled against him.

 

The name jarred him, but then her eyes squeezed closed and her lips pressed against his pulse point, making his heart beat faster, “Shhh…” He hushed against her head as he started to make his way back to his ship. Her energy signature was off. Wrong. She was there. That golden cord of their bond was still there, still entangling them together. But even as he held her against him, the electricity sparking where flesh met flesh, she felt distant. Dimmed. Like her light was being obscured by a haze as black as pitch. But he felt it and as he pressed his lips to her forehead to soothe, it pulsed with warmth.

 

“You’re exhausted,” he spoke, as much to convince himself as to console her. “Rest. I have you now.”

 

I’ll make it better. His heart spoke to hers down their connection. Whatever happened, whatever is wrong, we’ll fix it.  

 

Fix it, she whimpered, her voice sounding small and strained. And then she shifted in his arms and a smooth voice purred, “Make it better.”

 

He clamored onto his ship, willing the door to shut behind him and bolting to the small sleeping quarters. There he lay her down on the simple bed, covering her up with his cape to keep her warm. A lock of hair fell in her eyes and he brushed it away, tucking it behind her ear before letting his fingers follow the curve of her neck. He curled against the skin there, fingers tracing small circles, and watched her lean into his touch. He turned to leave but felt a small hand grasp at his. 

 

“Stay with me,” she pleaded.

 

He pressed her fingertips to his lips and then peeled her hand from his. “I’m not going far, Rey. And just for a moment. I’ll come back. I promise.” 

 

A small pout painted her mouth before it relaxed to the calm of sleep. He watched her breathing for just a moment before heading back to the cockpit, pulling them up through the thick canopy of trees and cresting the atmosphere into the black of space. But then his hand hovered over the controls, unsure of what to do next. 

 

He fought the urge to return to First Order territory, wanting to be near the best care he could if she did need medical attention. But he was all but an outlaw to them now. Surely storming away, mind intent on reaching Rey as fast as possible, had given Hux the opportunity he needed to seize control. Not that he cared, with his heart wounded in the room just steps away. No, returning to the First Order was no longer an option. 

 

And then he thought briefly of taking her to the Resistance. It was banished as quickly as it came. He was still the enemy. It didn’t matter if he came with white flags waving, he’d be arrested the second he landed if he was lucky. More likely shot on sight. And whatever was going on with Rey, he knew that she needed him. In forcecuffs in a cell or dead on a hanger bay floor wouldn’t help her. No. The Resistance was not an option. 

 

So he set the autopilot for uninhabited space until he could figure out what had happened to Rey and assess exactly what she needed to heal. 

 

He made his way back to the sleeping quarters, trying to keep his heavy footsteps as light as possible to not disturb her sleep. But as he neared the door, he sensed her moving about the cabin, her signature a strong beat behind the durasteel. But it was still…off. Like a harmony played dissonant to the melody, drowning out the song he was straining to hear. A shaky hand lifted to the pad and the door slid open with a hiss. 

 

She stood, back to the door, his cloak wrapped about her shoulders and pooling on the floor like ink. She’d taken her hair down from the tie that had held it partly back and it fell in soft waves to her shoulders. Her head turned in a languid motion, looking down over her shoulder for a moment before raising just her eyes to capture his gaze. They were heavy-lidded and swirling seas of green and gold and black. Ben swallowed deeply, feeling the magnetic pull from the spell her stare cast upon him. He took a step into the room, and with a flick of her wrist, Rey shut the door behind him. Her sweet, pink tongue darted out to wet her lips as his cape slipped down her shoulder, offering him a tempting taste of creamy, freckled skin that made his own lips tingle to suck at every little sun-kissed mark. 

 

“I’ve been waiting for you,” she spoke, her voice smoky in a way that curled something in his gut. 

 

“Rey,” he let his voice clear around her name, savoring the way the syllable rolled off his tongue. “You should lay down. Rest. Let me heal—”

 

“I’ve spent my whole life waiting, trying to find my place,” she sighed. “And frankly I’m tired of it.”

 

And in one smooth motion, she turned to face him, letting his cloak slip from her shoulders and fall to the floor.

 

She stood before him, in nothing but her breast band and her underwear. The thin white fabric of both left little to the imagination. His eyes wandered to the outline of her pebbled nipples glowing rosy and pert and just aching for his lips to lavish. Her gentle curves, filled out a bit from the moment he’d met her in the forest, sang to that dark, yet natural passion within him that she was woman and he was man and his base instincts screamed to claim

 

Her lips, swollen and flushed, turned up and again that unnatural smile quirked at her mouth. Ben paused at that strange smirk, but then she held out her hand to him, her finger curling in a “come hither” motion. “I need you,” she pleaded, whimpered, and any fear or hesitation about her current state was shoved aside by his need to feel her -alive and safe- wrapped in his arms

 

It was almost on instinct, on some subconscious level, that he took two large striding steps into the room, following that fierce and insistent pull of their bond, ignoring the way it sparked and tripped. She fell against his chest, melding her body to his and delving her fingers into his hair. Their mouths locked together, colliding with desperation, and suddenly the world was all stars and fire and heat, kindled by soft lips and wandering hands. Her tongue pleaded for entrance, feral moans rolling into his mouth as she lapped at the seam of him and slipped inside. Their tongues tasted and entangled, as her nimble fingers unfastened the hooks of his jacket, unlatched his belt, and let his outer layer join the cloak on the floor. 

 

Ben started to nudge her backward, hands encircling her waist and gripping, letting his fingers dance at the band of her underwear. She took a small stumble backward before she fisted her hand in his shirt and let her legs take long, smooth strides. Their lips were still glued together, devouring each other with clashing teeth and sparing tongues. Ben was aiming for the bed as he guided her by steering her hip bones. But the haze of passion made him misjudge, and Rey’s back slammed against the cold wall. They both groaned at the abrupt stop, but then Ben cupped her ass and hoisted her up the wall, wrapping her legs around his waist. 

 

He kissed her with deep, drugging kisses that coaxed the sweetest noises from her lips. They were swallowed greedily by his lips and tongue and he relished their change in pitch as he pressed the growing bulge in his pants against her, feeling her wetness already seep into the fabric of his pants. He groaned as he conquered her mouth, his body beginning a determined and slow grind that make her whimper as his hardness rocked against her bundle of nerves. Her hands were tangled in his hair, his own caressing her thighs, guiding her mimicking hips to rock in time with his.

 

At last, he pulled himself away from her mouth, lips making their way to suckle at the hollow of her throat. That delicate beat of her heart felt delicious to his lips, pounding a desperate tattoo against his mouth as it pumped her lifeblood to her racing heart. Her hands gripped his hair tightly, yanking him to where she wanted him, holding him in place when he found the spots to make her gasp and keen. 

 

“Force, Rey. I’ve wanted this for so long. Wanted you for so long,” he groaned out against her skin, tongue lavishing her, and imprinting his lips in purple to her neck. 

 

“Me too.” Her voice was breathy and broke around her building climax as she undulated against him. “I want you to take me, Kylo.” 

 

That name, falling from her lips for the second time, made him stutter. It sounded foreign on her tongue and it rang ominously in his ears. “Kylo?”

 

His eyes narrowed in confusion, searching her own, only to find them darkened. The green and gold that warmed her gaze were blown to rings around black. She licked at her kiss ravaged lips, rocking her hips in a torturously slow motion as she dipped her hand beneath his shirt, her nails raking across the ridges of his stomach. “Yes,” and it came out as a hiss. “I need you to fuck me, Kylo. Now.”

 

“Rey,” he reached up and took her face in his hands, holding her against the wall with his body pressed to hers as she continued to writhe against him. His thumbs stroked at her cheeks. She was breathing hard, lips parted and her chest rising and falling with rasping breaths, as she deliberately tried to arch her inhale to press her breasts against him. “What happened?”

 

“What do you think happened?” Her eyes flashed as she dared him with her question. Before he could answer, she leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “Isn’t this exactly what you wanted? Isn’t this your deepest desire?” Her force signature wrapped slick and cold around his, invading him, filling him with ice and burning his veins at the same time. He fought it, shoving the inky murk from his being as he felt her lips attached to his neck and bite her mark into his flesh. “Mine,” her voice was cold and it growled like an animal in heat. 

 

He sucked in as her teeth sank into his skin. But he refused to recoil from her, feeling something within her grasping through the black for him. So instead of pushing her away, he embraced her, letting her slide from the wall and enveloping her in his arms. “I am yours, no matter what happened. I’m yours. Just talk to me. Tell me what happened,” he pleaded against her hair.

 

She went still in his arms and gazed up at him, head cocking with an eerie slowness, “I stopped fighting, Kylo.” She brought her hands between them, pressing them to his chest, fingers flexing against the firm muscle there. Ben released his hold on her to take a hand in his and cup her cheek with the other. She tilted her head against his palm for a moment, eyes rolling into the back of her head as she nuzzled him like a loth-cat. The sweetness of the gesture was tainted by a feral quality in her movement, and suddenly her eyes snapped open. She gave him a shove and he tumbled backward onto the bed they had missed earlier, knocking the wind from him as he landed. Before he could force his lungs to work and take in breath, she pounced on him and straddled his hips. He reached to grasp her around the waist, but she caught his hands and pinned them to the bed. With a squeeze of her fingers, he felt her employ the Force to hold him in place. Ben tried to call out for her, but his voice refused to work; it came out strangled and vaguely in the shape of her name. 

 

“I stopped fighting all the desires that were bubbling inside me, festering within because I refused to let them out. You should follow suit, Kylo,” She had bent over him, her voice rough in his ear. And then she shifted her body, used her legs to rock herself against him. Her wet center slid up and down, grinding herself against his erection. “Don’t be afraid,” she panted against him, almost taunting him with the words he once whispered to her when their minds first began to twine together. “I feel it, too. I feel you. Hard and every inch the man I knew you’d be.”

 

He groaned, bucking against her on instinct, and feeling the spike of ecstasy that shivered through her as his cock stroked her clit. He knew if he didn’t regain control soon, he’d be lost to this succubus currently inhabiting the glorious body of his Rey. He felt his throat work and he began to speak but she silenced him by kissing him, long and hard, tongue delving into his mouth. “I’m wet, so wet,” her voice was a heady whine between attacks from her lips. “I’m dripping. That’s for you, Kylo. All for you.” And kriff, she was. Her underwear was a wrecked mess and his pants weren’t faring much better. For a moment as she rocked against him, he thought about how easy it would be to just undo his pants, peel her drenched panties to the side and help her slide down on him. How it would feel like heaven. Like coming home.

 

“You can have that,” she hissed, as he realized that she had slipped inside his mind. She then pulled herself up, an absolute devil smile on her face, and made a show of pressing him down harder with her mind. She ran her hands up her body, cupping her small, lovely breasts still swathed in white. And then she brought one hand up to her mouth, biting at her thumb while the other plunged into her loose hair as she began to ride him. Little gasps and sharp moans fell from her lips and dripped around the thumb in her teeth as she rolled her hips with wild abandon. “I want to know your darkness, Kylo. I want you to fuck it into me. Let me feel it. Fill me with it—with you. Make me scream. Make me cry. Make me bleed. Show me passion and pain and lust—”

 

Those words, while they thrilled him on a primal level, made the fog of lust clear in his brain. This wasn’t her. This wasn’t the woman who haunted his waking hours and dreams alike. “Rey, stop please,” he beseeched. “This isn’t right. This isn’t what I want.”

 

And she stopped, her hips almost twitching to continue to grind. And then came that savage tilt of her head and the demon glint in her eyes as she sank her teeth into her bottom lip again. “Ah, you want to be on top, don’t you? I should have known my dark lover would want to be in control.” The Force hold on his wrists released, and immediately she was rolling them, pulling him to fall on top of her and between her split thighs, arching up into his body with a lascivious moan. 

 

Before he was even able to register their new position, her hands were fumbling at the buttons of his pants, sliding beneath the loosened band. Her beneath him, begging for him was everything he’d ever wanted. He was aching to feel her wrap those small fingers about his throbbing length, his baser part pleading with the rational part of his brain to let her keep going. But her swirling, darkened aura caused reason to win out and he grabbed her hands from out of his pants, holding them tightly at her stomach. “Rey, no. Not like this.”

 

That beautifully plump lip of hers, wet and crimson from his kisses, pouted and she whimpered. A shiver ran down his spine at the sound, so needy and full of want. Her hands strained against his hold, trying to break free, crawling at his flesh, and twisting against him. He knew her strength and it was deceiving for such a little thing, but he was stronger, if for nothing else than by sheer size. In a swift motion, he pinned her wrists above her head and covered her completely with his body, ceasing her struggling. “I knew you’d like it rough,” she spoke as a bitter laugh bubbled from her lips. “You’ve thought about holding me down and making me scream, haven’t you?”

 

“Rey. Stop,” his deep voice commanded, bellowing through the room, and she obeyed, though the glint in her eyes told him that she wouldn’t stay still for long. And then all the pieces fell into place. Her screams through their bond, the cold in her eyes, her feverish and insatiable actions, the talk of passion, of darkness. “He found you, didn’t he? Palpatine. He got to you.”

 

For the briefest of moments, a hint of fear flashed across her face and the faintest of cries, shaped like his true name, echoed in a ghostly ripple down their thread. Then her eyes went cold again, and the echo was silenced. 

 

A pit formed in his stomach and with a shaky hand, he dared to assess the damage that he couldn’t see, beyond any physical harm. He gently placed his fingers at her temple, still holding her wrists down to keep her in place. As gently as he could manage, he grazed his senses into her mind, stroking to coax her to open to him. She purred at his mental caress, and let him sink inside. 

 

His heart broke. 

 

Her once crystalline consciousness was cracked, painted red. He could feel and see and practically touch were Palpatine had ripped into her mind, delved and split and tortured her soul until everything within her shattered, and left her broken and bleeding her light somewhere cold and dark and feeling all alone. 

 

“Oh Rey,” he choked out, tears falling from his eyes and splashing on her cheeks. “Sweetheart, no. I should have known. I should have been there. Let me… let me try—”

 

Force healing was not his strength. It never had been. And the wounds caused by Palpatine’s torture were internal and extensive and ran deep. But for her, Ben mustered every ounce of light that lay within him, poured his heart and his fear and his desperation to fill out the rest, and let it leach into his hand at her mind. He felt it course from his fingertips, surging forward to seek to mend. The sharp edges of her tortured quintessence cut him as he sought to restore and soothe, and she thrashed away from his touch, cutting short his healing attempt. 

 

“Pain instructs. Destruction brings about new birth,” she repeated as if on autopilot, with no thought behind her words. And then something hitched in her throat and tears pooled in her eyes. “He showed me my parents, Kylo. Showed me my family. Where I’m from.” Her voice came out soft and for a moment, he was unsure if it was his Rey or the twisted variation Palpatine had created that spoke, “And I could sense the darkness in my father.”

 

He pulled back a little, releasing her hands to prop himself up. “But, I’ve seen them, Rey. I wasn’t lying to you. They were—”

 

“Drunks and nobodies. Yes. They were.” Her fingers wrapped about his ears and played with the hair that curled there. “He squandered his power in favor of pleasure and drink. But he passed that power on to me. I was born of the dark, Kylo. That’s why I’m so horrible at being Jedi. Why I employ my emotions and my passion and my anger. Why I’ve felt so out of place. And then there’s you.” Her fingered carded through his hair, fisting at his nape with one hand while the other grabbed his chin. “My Dark Knight. The way I crave you, the way my body desires you… it’s sinful for a Jedi. Forbidden. But for a Sith…” She wrapped her legs and arms around him, rocking against him until he was again pressing at her entrance. She pulled his hips into her with her legs, making him thrust against her, just a few layers of fabric separating them. “We can embrace this passion now, Kylo. Let it rule us. You and me; we are like twin flames, ready to consume each other, and blaze out of control. We can raze our enemies to the ground, conquer worlds. And then raze and conquer each other over the carnage. Bring forth children unmatched in the Force who we can mold to the perfect warriors their blood will surely demand of them. Just think, Kylo.” Her eyes were wild in her speech, blazing with a dark fire. And then something shifted. Something within her softened, saddened. There was a bitter edge to her tone when she spoke next, still not his Rey coming forward, but only a shadow of the vixen from a moment ago, “You once asked me to join you in the dark, didn’t you? Well, here I am. All you’ve ever wanted.”

 

He shook his head vehemently, “No, Rey. I never wanted you to turn to the Dark. Never,” he pressed his forehead to hers, his hand weaving into her hair above her ear. “I wanted you, Rey. Only you.”

 

“This is me,” She added a roll of her hips for emphasis. “The true me. There’s nothing to stand between us now, Kylo.” She paused, her hips drawing small circles on the sheet beneath them as she rocked against his aching hardness. He may be fighting the good fight against the darkness that had possessed her, but his body still yearned to shealth itself in the heat that she rubbed and dragged against him. He groaned as he let himself join her erotic dance, rolling his hips into her, making her cry out. Her shriek morphed into a soft and sensual moan pressed against the shell of his ear and she whispered, “Or should I call you Master ?”

 

And his hips stuttered. “You should call me Ben,” he said. “Not Master. Not Kylo. Ben. My Rey always calls me Ben.” Her scent, her warmth, her breath at his ear, the way she moved beneath him - it all almost undid him. But the lack of the way his true name would fall with ease from her lips, the sound of it ringing in his ears that always made his heart skip a beat, that pulled him from the miasma of her seduction. He let out a frustrated cry. “Did he really make you think this would be my fantasy? Rey. You, turned, devoid of your light… Sweetheart, this is my worst nightmare.”

 

And the seductress beneath him stopped writhing. She stared up at him, eyes suddenly wide, painted with hurt. He felt a stab of rejection radiate from her and her smooth, sensual voice wavered, “Y-you… you don’t want me?”

 

He hushed her, the tears gathering in her eyes sparking that primal need to protect and soothe and fix all that was making her cry. “Rey, you know that’s not true. I think it would be obvious how very much I want you.” He gave a small but firm thrust of his hips, brushing the hair from her eyes and feeling her meet his motions. “Can’t you feel what you do to me, darling? But I won’t take you like this. This Darkness isn’t you. And yes. Maybe you were born of the Dark, but your Light, Rey…Force, it’s blinding. I fell for your Light. It permeates my very being and thaws places of me that I thought were lost forever.” 

 

His hands cradled her head and he kissed her forehead. That little flicker in the haze pulsed, grew brighter. The Dark that wrapped about her seemed almost to recoil in its glow, and the link between their souls sang. 

 

And he understood.

 

“Rey. My light. My goddess. Sweetheart. Come back to me. Please.”

 

He gently pressed his lips to hers, slowly, sweetly. He poured his soul into the space where their mouths met before breathing out, “I love you.”

 

A warmth ignited in her eyes then, just a glow but there. “You… you love me?” She stammered.

 

“Yes,” he said, and something in his chest swelled, filled his heart almost to bursting as he gazed into her eyes, watching them start to clear, the green and the gold blooming through the black. His lips again pressed to the spot between her eyebrows. “I love you,” he repeated, kissing one closed eyelid —“I love you”— and then the other. “I love you.” And his mouth took hers, searing and passionate and adoring. 

 

He held her, arms wrapping her up and pulling her tight to his body as his mouth and his tongue delved and lapped and lavished. He continued to send those three little words, I love you, to her through their bond and gradually, he felt her begin to melt in his embrace. Her hands that had been tangled in his hair loosened and fell to the pillow at her head. He took the briefest of moments to release her mouth, grabbing the edges of his shirt to pull it over his head, before settling back over her. 

 

She stared at him, confused, as he caged her between his strong arms and the sheets. “I thought you wouldn’t take me like this?” She asked, just a hint of that arrogance the Dark influence had brought out in her still there. 

 

“I won’t ‘fuck my Darkness into you’, as you put it, no. But you were right about one thing. We can’t deny this thing between us anymore; I am drawn to you like a moth to the flame and I desire you in a way that I didn’t think my heart was capable of.” He nuzzled at her neck, suckling light kisses there and feeling her shiver. “So no, I am not going to fuck you. But I am going to worship you. I’m going to kiss and caress and coax my Rey to come back from the abyss.” He let his hands wander up and down her sides before following the curve of her arms, laying prone by her head and lacing their fingers. “And then, sweetheart, I’m going to make love to you.”

 

Her breath caught in her throat, eyes shining with yet unshed tears. “You should know, Kyl—” and she turned her head while biting her lip, as if his name was hovering on her tongue, but the Dark was barring it from escaping. With an exhale, she continued, “You should know, you’d be the first. My first.” And she squeezed her eyes shut, screwing her face as she seemed to fight something internally. “The Darkness keeps whispering that I was to be your prize to claim.”

 

He let out a breath with the lightest of moans, his lips pursing to kiss at the curve of her neck. “Then I’ll go slow,” he said, his fingertips of one hand tracing the soft skin of the underside of her arm before landing at her breastband, untucking the end from its confines. “And you’re still mine to claim. But not as a prize. As a lover. As my equal. As I am yours. We shall claim each other tonight.”

 

“You—” she breathed out.

 

“Rey, did you really think there could ever be anyone else?” His forehead connected with hers as his fingers played at the frayed end of her breastband. “I think—I think, my love, I’ve been waiting for you from the moment I was born.”

 

He leaned in and their lips connected. But gone was the desperation and the frantic flurry of limbs and teeth from earlier. He tasted, he savored the flavor of her mouth, taking the time to map out the curve of her lips. Soft, sweet sounds floated from her and he swallowed them, taking them within him and transforming them into his own groans of pleasure. Steady and careful hands tugged at the fabric wrapped about her chest, unraveling it and pulling it off to leave her bare to him. 

 

But he didn’t immediately palm at her, though his fingers trembled with the need to do so. He felt her take a sharp inhale as the cool air hit the heated flesh of her breasts, and he could sense the roses color her cheeks, and he smiled. The vixen was fading and Rey was beginning to surface once more. And with the Darkness receding from her soul, his goddess was suddenly shy. So he continued to kiss her, reassuring her, loving her. His hand rested softly at her ribs, just barely grazing where her flesh swelled. He slowed their embrace, stilling his lips before pulling back and relishing how her almost clear eyes fluttered to look at him in wonder. 

 

He took the time to memorize her face, taking in each freckle and the places where her cheeks dipped in when she smiled, her delicate nose and the way her lips were stained by his mouth, the way her eyes sparkled like sea glass and gold again, being lit by her brightness within. He then followed down the slope of her neck, where he could see the marks of his earlier attentions, to the subtle ridge of that fragile-looking collar bone. And at last, he let his eyes fall upon her breasts. 

 

He’d dreamed of seeing her like this, guessed at what she might look like underneath her linens. But even his imagination’s best rendering paled to the vision before him. They were small, yes, but perfect. Pale globes with rosey tips that were already puckered up into buds. His hand moved slowly, fingers feather-light, tracing the gentle swell of her in circles going inward until he reached its dusty peak. And then he began again, caressing each one, taking his time to garner each one with affection. The thrill of watching goosebumps erupt across her skin, watching her head arch back and hearing her soft noises as her breath picked up went straight to his already throbbing member. She captured her lip with her teeth when he took the nipple of one carefully between his thumb and middle finger and rolled it, giving it the slightest of tugs. A sweet little cry muffled as she worried at her lip. With a roguish smile, Ben grasped one of her tits by the base, gathering it up, and he brought his lips to peck gently at the pink little tip. She keened, arching up to meet him. With a gentle squeeze, he wrapped his lips around her nipple, rolling it with his tongue before taking as much of her breast into his mouth as he could. 

 

“Oh, stars!” She cried out, gripping at the pillow and following the pull of his mouth with small arches of her body. He released her breast with a pop before repeating his action on its twin, eliciting the same tender moans. Then he laid a trail of kisses up and down her sternum as he massaged his saliva into her skin like a salve.

 

“My perfect, beautiful girl,” he spoke against her stomach, and he felt the shadow pass over her. He could sense the last of that Darkness still hanging on. Doubt and fear began to spike from her, cresting over their bond like a tumultuous wave, feeding that small wisp of the Dark still residing within her. Flashes of the slimy words that had been fed to her by Palpatine, bolstering ingrained fears and repercussions of a tortured childhood suddenly burst forward - the Dark’s death rattle - and she twisted to turn away from him. 

 

He didn’t hold her down, but he shifted to place a warm, heavy hand beneath his lips at her abdomen, stroking her skin, sending a pulse of calm to her, and she stilled. He reached out along their thread, but was met with a blockade of her own defenses. “Rey,” he said, pulling himself up on an elbow to meet her eyes, which were squeezed closed. “Look at me. Please.”

 

Slowly, her lashes fluttered open and when her eyes met his, something in their bond gave way, and he was flooded with a deluge from her: Not perfect. No one wanted me. They abandoned me. He’ll leave me, too. I’m nothing. I’m no one.

 

“Not nothing. Not no one,” he asserted. “Those words are my greatest shame.” He found her hand and brought it to his lips, laying a reverent kiss to the back of it like a knight to his lady. “You are everything to me. I don’t care where you came from, what made you. We both have past-life baggage and we’ll shoulder the load together. I just know what you are.”

 

“And that is?” And the light in her eyes, warming the last breaths of the cold and fog from that glorious hazel, blazed straight to his soul.

 

“You are mine, Rey,” he said. “You are the beat of my heart. The song of my soul. My other. My love. And I’ll be by your side from this day forward. You’ll never have to take another step without me.”

 

Tears pearled up and rolled down her cheeks in rivers. “Say it again,” she breathed out, with no edge of arrogance or chill to her voice. Just warmth and sweetness. And hope.

 

His thumb traced the trails of her tears and wiped them away, “You’re not alone, Rey.”

 

She giggled, the sound ringing like the sweetest chimes in his ears, and a smile that finally beamed true to her spread across her face as she shook her head, “Not that, you oaf.”

 

And now it was his turn to smile, beaming wide before laying a long kiss to her abdomen. He lifted his head, locked her gaze, and said, “I love you, sweetheart.”

 

And what she said next came with ease, without any hesitation or struggle with the Darkness. “And I love you, Ben.” 

 

Ben. It rolled over her tongue, slipped from her lips and sunk deep into his heart. He released the breath from his lungs as a joyous sob racked his body, burying his face against her stomach. “Gods, Rey. Say it again.”

 

She sat up, pulling him up with her. Her fingers tangled in his hair, holding him tightly, his face a breath away from hers. “I love you,” she repeated.

 

He let out a small chuckle. “Well yes. That. Please never stop saying that.” His hands found her shoulders, stroking her skin, thumb reading the bumps and ridges of the scar there. “But I meant when you said my name.”

 

“Ben,” she spoke, just barely above a whisper. That name he once cursed and tried to bury beneath the sands of time was now like nectar to his soul. “Ben,” it sang in that gentle lilt of her voice and he surged forward and pressed his lips to hers. “Ben, Ben, Ben.” She repeated it over and over, and he kissed her soundly between each refrain. 

 

“Rey, darling,” he snuck his words out when they parted to gasp for breath between embraces, “I still wish— I still want— If you’ll allow me, of course— to let me— make love to you— Please—”

 

“Ben,” She said as she placed two fingers on his lips to stop him from babbling on. “I was just riding your erection, clad in my underwear, begging you to basically fuck my brains out. You don’t have to be so noble.” She gave his face a gentle push with her fingers and let herself fall back on the bed, her hair splaying out around her like a halo, opening her arms to welcome him. “So please, shut up, take off your pants and take me, Solo.”

 

That was all the encouragement that Ben needed. He sprang to his feet and kicked off his boots as fast as he could pry them away, sending them flying across the room with his socks still inside them. His undone pants and underwear quickly followed, and it was with a primal surge of pride that he relished how her eyes went wide as his aching cock sprang from its confines. 

 

“Every inch the man I thought you’d be, indeed,” she gaped at him. And then with a playful curl of her finger, she beckoned him to return to her. The gesture was now sweet and coy, yet still as seductive as her darker side’s version. 

 

Ben took a stride towards her, keeping his eyes locking with hers. But his feet caught up in the tangle of leather and fabric pooled at this feet. He heard her snort and giggle as he fell forward, catching himself on the edge of the bed. Glaring at her playfully, he righted himself and started to crawl his way up to her, an intensity suddenly taking over his motions that made her gulp. She scurried backward on the bed, a subtle game of cat and mouse that they both knew would only last seconds. Two swift crawls and he grasped at her ankle and yanked her down as she squealed, bubbling over into a laugh when he attacked her neck with his lips. 

 

His hands made their way to her hips and fingers dipped under the band at her waist. “I think your little wanton act wrecked these, sweetheart.” He gathered the edge of it in his fist, feeling the fabric strain against his hold. “And I’m completely naked. Seems only fair…” and then he gave a sharp pull and the fabric gave and shredded in his hands. She made a cry of protest, but he stopped her mouth with his, kissing her deeply, until she melted beneath him. “Besides, I’m nowhere near done worshipping you.”

 

He kissed all down her neck, lapping at the dip of her collar bone at the base of it. Hands covered her breasts again, massaging and grasping, fingers plucking the hardened buds just to hear that sweet little cry she made. His lips bypassed her breasts this time, licking a line straight down to her belly. Her muscles tensed and kissed over every ridge of her abdomen, swirling into her bellybutton. She arched up into him and he fit his hands perfectly to the bones of her hips and he moved to the gentle, feminine swell that lay just above the dark patch of curls at the center of her. 

 

Carefully, he guided her to bend her legs and she opened for him like a flower, all womanly musk and pink petals. A deep breath, full of the scent of her, filled his nostrils. And then he noticed a slight shake in her knees and he felt a little tremble dance down their bond. He placed a gentle kiss to the side of her knee and then nuzzled into her thigh, looking up between her legs to see her lovely face was flushed the most becoming shade of pink. “Rey, love. If this is too fast, we can stop—”

 

“No. It’s not that,” she shook her head. “It’s just— Ben, I’m naked. It’s strange.”

 

“Says the girl who waited for me in her underwear and my cloak.”

 

“Oh, R’iia, I did, didn’t I?” She hid her face in her hands. “You can thank the Darkness for that little stunt.”

 

“I mean, please don’t ever turn again,” he said as he nibbled and kissed at her thighs. “But anytime you want to greet me in your undergarments and draped seductively in my clothing, I will not complain.” His kisses landed lower, until he was able to hover just over her glistening center, letting his breath warm the skin there. “Just be warned, you will end up completely naked, on your back, with me between your thighs, doing this.”

 

And he let his tongue carve through from bottom to top of her drenched folds in one hot motion, swirling around the little nub at the top before wrapping his lips about it. She arched straight off the bed, sucking in air so sharply she nearly choked. Her tartness exploded on his tongue and he drank her up greedily, burying his face in her essence and humming as he felt it drip down his chin.

 

“Oh Ben!” She cried out as she thrashed against the sheets. “Oh gods, please. Please don’t stop.”

 

“Fuck, sweetheart. You’re so wet,” he said as he lay his tongue flat and lapped to collect as much of her sweetness as he could. She wriggled away with a squeal and he placed his arm across her hips to hold her in place. “The taste of you, Rey. And it’s like I can taste just how wound up you are. Your desire is sweet on my tongue. And I can feel it in our bond, too. You’re close already, aren’t you?”

 

She made a garbled “yes”, with a violent nod. Her head then thrust back as he suckled at her clit, now a swollen jewel beneath his lips, before sliding his tongue down and dipping inside her. His arm flexed with the strength he had to employ to keep her from thrashing away, but her cries - a mix of expletives and his name and moans of pure elevation - echoed in the small quarters. “So sweet. And so ready, I bet I could just—”

 

He trailed off as he brought his hand up, quickly slicking his middle finger on his tongue before easing it into her body. He slid in with little effort, but she squeezed and tensed around him, her walls already beginning to flutter and quiver. A curl of his fingers and a calloused fingertip mapped out the ridges within her. He watched her face and sought to repeat any action that made her cry out louder, that caused that delicious ripple of pleasure to wash over him from her. He eased another finger to join the first, feeling her slick walls stretch slowly to accommodate his thick digits. It wasn’t long before she guided him to a rhythm that caused that ripple to grow, feeding into his own desire, his hips bucking against the bed to take some of the edge off. Wrapping his lips about that sweet little bud, he rolled it back and forth with his tongue before sealing it up and sucking hard. The ripple turned into a wave and he moaned against her as it washed over him, taking himself in hand and stroking himself as his sucked and lapped. 

 

That’s it, my love. My Rey. Come for me, he spoke through their connection, refusing to let up on his ministrations at her center for even a moment with her so close to her edge. Her fingers dug into his scalp and pulled. With another slow crook within and a swirl around her throbbing clit, he felt that wave crest and break. Her body went still for a moment save for the violent spasm around his fingers. And she began to writhe beneath him, her voice finding its way out of her throat and screaming his name. He took the rolls of her orgasm in him, riding them with her. He continued to work her through the fluttering of her body until she gave his forehead a little push and he released her with a slick sound. 

 

Her legs gave out and fell against the bed. He watched with rapt attention as her hands flew up to cover her eyes, her chest rising and falling rapidly as she struggled to catch her breath. Her cheeks, her chest, even her arms were flushed with post-orgasmic color and Ben took in the sight of her beautifully wrecked and couldn't help but beam. She finally came back to herself enough to peek one eye open to look down at him. 

 

“You have the most arrogantly smug look on your face right now,” she said, her breath still labored.

 

“Well, I’ve succeeded in bringing you back from the Dark with love as my only weapon,” he said, with over-dramatic flare. “And then,” he started a slow crawl up her body, laying light, playful kisses along the path, “I made you come in less than 5 minutes. I think I’ve earned the right to be a little smug.”

 

Her brow creased and her fingers over her eyes went to rub her temples. “Ben, it still… I can still feel it. That influence. The Darkness that overtook me. I’m me, but—” He propped himself up on one elbow, one hand laying heavy and comforting on her belly. “It’s like I’m tainted now. Broken.”

 

“No, love. You’re not broken.” He pressed her lips firmly to her forehead and sent his energy through her. The cracks and cuts within her mind were no longer bleeding crimson, but they throbbed as he grazed past them. The sharp edges that had cut his own consciousness before were dulled, but that didn’t mean they didn’t sting as he tried to send his soothing touch to mend them. 

 

Ben was covered in scars, physical and mental, from his years of tutelage in the Darkness. And now his Rey also bore the brand of the Dark side. He stroked her face as he spoke, “It’ll take time for the damage he did to heal. And you’ll never be rid of the Darkness completely. It was already within you. That ember of Dark that has always been inside you, we’ll learn how to embrace it together.” He wrapped his arms about her, his broad naked chest pressing against her breasts and their legs entwining. “I’ll help you.”

 

Their bodies fit together like pieces of a puzzle. He slotted his hips between her legs, her knees cradling him. A small shift of her hips and his cock slid through her drenched folds, hardening to durasteel as her wetness coated him. To be honest, had been painfully hard since the moment he walked in to see her clad in next to nothing - with that “next to” comprised of her underwear and his clothes. He buried his face into her shoulder and rocked himself back and forth, letting out a contented sigh. 

 

“I don’t think that’s the proper Jedi way to help me, Ben,” she said with a chuckle as she matched the motion of his hips. 

 

“Why do you think the old ways need to die?” His hands wrapped around her, supporting his weight on his forearms while cradling her head with both hands. “And anyway, I’m no Jedi. And neither are you, sweetheart. Right now, I’m just a man, with a beautiful woman naked beneath him, who wants to show her just how much he adores her.”

 

“Please, Ben,” she pleaded, still moving with him. Then he felt as he nudged at her entrance and he pushed just the tip of himself inside her. Her eyes opened and found his, just a touch of nervous fear in them.

 

“I have you, love,” he assured, pressing his forehead to hers. “I have you. I want you. And I love you.”

 

He felt her nod, heard her swallow deeply and exhale a warm steady breath before whispering, “I love you.”

 

And then he pushed, slowly, gently, into her warm core. His eyes never left hers as inch by inch, he sank within her. 

 

She opened around him. Her heat and her wetness enveloped him, while her walls squeezed and pulled him deeper inside. He paused for a moment, the intensity of every sensation almost too much. When he pulled back, she gripped at his length within her, creating a drag that allowed him to feel every little ridge within her with his swollen head. A careful push back within started with more ease. And then he hit an impasse, a resistance to going further. 

 

“I don’t want to hurt you, sweetheart,” he said, pulling his head up to find those beautiful eyes of hers, almost forest green and dusted with gold, looking up at him with complete trust. “Take a deep breath with me.” And they breathed together, their bodies rising in tandem. “And out.” And as their breath mingled in the air, he gave a firm thrust forward, feeling her body give and allow him to seat himself fully within her.

 

“Force, Rey. You feel amazing,” he said, collapsing a little to rest his head on her shoulder. He then noticed her binding her arms around him tightly, one hand digging into the skin on his back and the other firmly knotted in his hair. He kissed at her shoulder, her neck, anywhere he could reach until her hold lessened enough to prop himself back up. Tears streaked her cheeks and wet her hair beneath her head. “Love, are you okay? I didn’t feel any pain from you—“

 

“No, it doesn’t hurt. I mean, it’s a lot. You’re a lot.” She said, her words tripping over laughter and tears at once. And then she shook her head. “It’s silly.”

 

“I’m sure it’s not. Especially if it’s making you cry.”

 

With a shaking inhale, she said, “Don’t you dare leave me. I wouldn’t survive now.” Her eyes squeezed shut and more tears cascaded down her cheeks. “Not with this… this thing in my head.”

 

He kissed her then, tenderly, relishing her lips and pouring his heart into the embrace. He withdrew his hips as his tongue delved into her mouth, then plunged back in as he breathed out, “Never.”

 

A glorious moan came from her, like lust wrapped in silk. Soft and oh so sensual. It coiled inside him, pulled at the desire within his belly and stoked the fire within him. He let it feed him, spur him on as he rocked in and out of her tight, wet body. Every stroke, every push and pull brought him deeper within her. She molded to him and he to her. It was as if the stardust that formed their souls had burst from the same point of light, knowing it would someday find its other half and once again become one. 

 

And as they were one soul in two bodies, one heart with two beats, they shared that same ember of Darkness. Ben acknowledged that part of him, his primal part, wanted to let go completely and ride out his lust. Let it consume him as he bruised her hips in his grasp and pounded into her tight cunt. To make her scream as she had begged him to earlier.

 

Someday. Someday they would explore the darker side of this passion. But tonight was meant for healing and starlight, not lust and darkness. Passion, yes, but passion born completely and purely of love.

 

So he held her in his arms. He kissed away her tears. He captured her moans and sweet sounds. They moved together, her meeting the measured and steady thrusts of his hips. Her fingers danced along the flexing muscles of his back, twisted about the damp locks of his hair, cupped his backside to help angle him where she needed him most.

 

“There, Ben!” She gasped out suddenly. He felt her tense about his cock, her core growing slicker as she gripped him tighter. Her hips tilted and her back arched. 

 

“Is that the spot, sweetheart?” He rasped, watching her face, reaching out through their connection and feeling that coiling, tightening warmth bubbling over within her. She was close, so close and he wasn’t far behind. Her mounting pleasure bled into his, making his balls tighten and that tingle grow at the base of his spine. “Oh Force, Rey,” He grunted. “Come again for me. Come with me deep inside you.” 

 

“Ben! Oh, please don’t stop!” She was flushed, panting and clawing at his arms, nails digging into his flesh. He felt her pussy begin to flutter and spasm around him, and then, with parted lips and her head thrown back in complete ecstasy, she let out a cry and burst around him.

 

“That’s it, my love. Let go,” he coaxed as he continued to roll his hips, his movement becoming less controlled as she pulsed about him. His arms wove around her back, pressing him against her, burying his face in her hair as her whole being seemed to shutter at her release. 

 

And then she gasped out his name, voice breaking around the single syllable as her orgasm continued to ebb and flow and shot electricity down their connecting thread, and he came undone. One more thrust to anchor himself deep and he gave himself over to bliss, holding himself still as he spilled within her and the warmth of his spend mixed with her heated essence and sank into her body. Her name fell from his lips over and over again until it blended together into one long, shuttering cry of complete joy. 

 

They lay there, tangled and spent within each other’s arms, Ben unwilling to leave her body just yet. A knotted mess of sweaty limbs and heaving chests, gasping breaths soon turned to sobs and it was only after a few moments that Ben realized they were both crying. She buried her face into the crook of his arm and he in her hair and let their tears mingle together. 

 

“I thought I lost you,” Ben spoke first, running his hands through her hair and brushing away the fresh tears rolling down her face. “First when I felt him torturing you, then again when I had you in my arms, but I could barely find your Light. I really thought I lost you.”

 

“I thought I lost myself, Ben. But you,” she placed tender hands at his cheeks and mimicked his actions, rubbing his tears into his skin with her thumbs. “You found me. You grasped on to me and refused to give up until you had pulled me back to you. You saved me. Again.”

 

“Do you feel this?” He placed a hand over her heart, it still thundering beneath his fingertips. “And this.” He took one of her hands and placed it over his own. 

 

A smile slowly spread over her face, her shining eyes lighting up. “They’re in sync,” she said in amazement. 

 

“And they are connected. Our bond, it’s like it’s tied right here.” He nodded towards her hand pressed against his heart. “And anchored here.” He pressed gently against her own heart, so strong against his palm. “I’ll always come for you. I’ll always find you. Because of this .”

 

“Ben, we have to destroy him.” Her voice was suddenly serious, frightened. “We have to destroy him or he will destroy us. He’ll destroy this .” And her hand pressed to his chest tighter.

 

“I know,” he said as he finally rolled, tucking her under his arm and solidly to his side. She slotted into that space next to his heart, the perfection in which their bodies fit together in so many ways making his heart swell. “But you need to heal. You’re not strong enough yet—”

 

“I’m stronger with you,” she interjected. 

 

“And you’ll get stronger. But we can’t go charging into battle with your mind still so wounded.” He carded his fingers through her hair, stopping to massage at her scalp. The wounds in her being were almost tangible to his fingertips with their bond so open and interlocked. “Let me take you somewhere, Rey. Just for a few days. Somewhere quiet, where we can heal together and formulate a plan.”

 

He felt a smile bloom against his pec and she teased, “You just want to take me somewhere where we can lock ourselves in a room and ravage each other for days in the name of keeping me on the side of Light.” He opened his mouth to begin to protest but she swiftly pressed two fingers to his lips to hush him. “And I know what you’re thinking, Ben Solo, so don’t even try to deny it. You can’t lie to your bondmate.”

 

“Well, I don’t make the rules, sweetheart.” He sighed for dramatic effect. “But if burying myself in you over and over again and making you cry out my name is the way to keep you from falling to the Dark again, well, I’ll just have to suffer through.”

 

A laugh shook her body as she smacked his chest lightly. “You are a hopeless fool.”

 

“For you, yes, I am.” His lips found the top of her head and pressed into her hair, while his hands traced delicate patterns on her skin with the lightest of touches, causing little goosebumps to rise. Soon her breathing slowed down and her energy signature quieted to a steady, soothing hum. “Sleep, my love,” he whispered against her hair. 

 

He lay there, staring at the ceiling, just counting her breath. His fingers worked into her scalp and very gently snuck into her mind to continue to heal those wounds. But there was only so much he could do to mend the damage that had ripped her apart. He had sewn her back together, yes, but the stitches were delicate and thin. They would strengthen them with time, together. But that meant finding sanctuary for at least a little while. This war may not allow them more than that, so they’d have to take what they could.

 

He gently unwound her arms from his body and slipped out of the bed, tucking her in again with his cloak in hopes that the scent of it would trick her into thinking he was there beside her for the few moments he needed to leave her. Searching around the room, he found his discarded pants in a pile and wrangled them back onto his legs. Instinctively, he reached out to call his lightsaber to him and the cool metal was soon in his hands. Devoid of his belt, he stuck it in his pocket, feeling more secure to have it within his grasp.

 

Making his way to the cockpit, he sat in the pilot’s seat and stared at the navigation controls. Rey needed rest, someplace she could silence her mind and the whispers of Palpatine’s influence that would probably plague her all her life. She deserved somewhere green and full of life. Someplace beautiful. His desert flower had spent too many years in the sand and burning sun. 

 

And then it came to him. 

 

Varykino. He’d take her to Naboo, to his grandmother’s homeworld. 

 

They could stop somewhere along the way, buy some clothes to make them look like a young couple enjoying a vacation away. And the galaxy at large was not aware that Ben Solo and Kylo Ren were one and the same. He could probably still use his ancestral claim there to buy them a few days of peace. Rey would heal surrounded by beautiful flowers and crystal clear water and fresh air. He’d push aside the painful memories of happy childhood days spent visiting the halls where his grandparents had walked. For her.

 

Yes, they’d go to Naboo. He quickly shifted the coordinates and guided their ship onto the right path before setting the autopilot. He leaned back in the chair, hands behind his head, and took a deep breath that spread all the way to his toes. 

 

Then he felt it. A tug and twist at the bond. A ripple of sheer terror. And then a scream pierced through the hum of the ship’s mechanics. 

 

Ben bolted from the cockpit, hand flying to his saber and igniting it as he sprinted down the hall. He slid to a halt before the door to the sleeping quarters and pounded on the control pad, about to slice through the damn steel if the blasted thing didn’t open any faster. A lifetime stretched out into a few seconds, all the while Rey’s screams rang in his head, making the bile rise in his throat and adrenaline pump like wildfire through his veins. Finally, the opening in the door was big enough for him to squeeze through and burst forward, lightsaber ready to obliterate whoever or whatever was attacking the other half of his heart. He spun in a circle, scanning the room with eyes and mind.

 

There was nothing there. 

 

Only a trembling and terrified Rey sitting up, arms wrapped about her knees and pulled up to her naked chest, staring at him with wide, reddened eyes. 

 

“Ben?” She spoke, her voice quivering and tears cascading down her face. 

 

He flicked his saber off and crossed the room and a few long strides, throwing the saber to the side and gathering her up in his arms as he sat on the bed. “Rey. Sweetheart. You scared me. I thought…I thought…” he swallowed deeply, unable to breathe his fears to life with words.

 

“Ben! You’re okay!” She sobbed into his chest, her fingers practically bruising his ribs as she clung to him. 

 

“Of course I’m okay, love.” His hands stroked at her hair and rubbed her back. He again sent his awareness out, this time focusing on Rey. He scanned her body, her mind. Other than fear surging through her in waves, he sensed no change in her. He pulled her back from him enough to read her eyes as he asked, “What happened, Rey?”

 

“I was Dark again.” Her words came in a rush and her eyes squeezed shut like she was struggling to remember every detail to recall to him. “But it was hazy and I wasn’t me. And yet I was. I don’t know if that makes sense.” She buried her face in her hands, pressing her palms into her eyes and then letting them gather her tears as she pushed them off her cheeks. “I was looking at myself from the outside, but I could also see everything that version of me was seeing. I was wearing dark robes with a hood. Ben, I looked… wrong; there was some strange, unnatural glow to my skin and my eyes were cold and black. Oh R’iia, did I look like that earlier?

 

“Less unnatural than that,” he responded. “I could still sense you .” He leaned into her a little and lowered his voice. “Oh, and fewer clothes.”

 

She smirked slightly but it faded quickly. “Ben, I had a new saber. It was double-hilted, hinged to swing out to a staff with two blades.” Her voice shook as her bright eyes rose to his. “They were red. And jagged; unstable like yours.”

 

He shook his head. “I know what you’re thinking and no, your saber would not be red if you turned it on right now. Love, you’d have to bleed your crystal to turn it that color. It doesn’t just change.” He pressed his forehead to hers, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “And if mine cracked when I bled it… Rey, let’s just say I’d rather die than let you go through what you would need to go through to turn your saber red.”

 

“That’s not all,” Fresh tears rimmed her eyes. “When I saw through her eyes, you were there. You were pleading with me to put down my saber. To come back with you. That you would help fix me again. And this voice—his voice—just resounded in my head, drowning out your pleas, urging me to strike, to kill. And suddenly I couldn’t hear you anymore. Just that voice, spurring me on. It filled me. Consumed me. And then…then…oh, Ben!”

 

She sobbed and collapsed against his chest. His arms created a protective cage about her and he kissed her hair and rubbed soothing circles on her back, all while his heart ached for her.

 

“Shhh…it was just a nightmare. A side effect of the Darkness.” Her crying softened a little, but her shoulders still quivered as she hiccoughed through her tears. “I’ve had that one, too. Except for me, it's the throne room and you’re on your knees before me. I let Snoke get in my head and I ignite my saber instead of yours.”

 

“So—So it wasn’t a vision?” She stuttered. She looked almost child-like in that moment, eyes wide and glistening, looking up at him seeking comfort. And he wondered if she’d ever had anyone who’d cared for her enough to dry her tears and tell her it would be okay. Wondered how many nights she’d woken up screaming from some terror in that little home she’d made for herself in the desert, reaching for someone, anyone for solace and finding only darkness and sand. 

 

He couldn’t go back and comfort that child in the dark. But he could hold the woman in his arms. “No vision, love,” he soothed with the soft, dulcet tone of his voice and lips pressed to her head. “Just a horrible dream.” 

 

“I struck and you fell,” she said in a trembling voice. “And then there was just this cold, maniacal laughter. And then I woke up. And you were gone and I—” Her voice broke off into another sob, burying her face in the crook of his neck. 

 

“Hey, it wasn’t real. It was just a dream. And I’m here now, Rey. I’m here,” she squirmed in his arms and he helped her adjust to straddle his waist and settle into his lap. As intimate as the position would have been in any other circumstance, at that moment it let them surround each other. He cradled her to him, breathing in the scent of her, hands covering the expanse of her back. Her arms encircled his neck and her lips pressed, more seeking comfort than desire, at the spot below his ear. 

 

Her tears began to cease and he noticed her shivering a little and nestling closer to his body. He scanned the room and saw his shirt laying just out of reach on the floor next to the bed. Employing the Force, it was soon in his hand, and he eased her away from him enough to help her fit his shirt over her head. It hung loosely over one shoulder and pooled in their laps. He brushed the hair from her face and looked up into those eyes that stole his breath. “Maker, you’re beautiful.”

 

She let out an exasperated laugh while her cheeks pinked, “Ben, I’m a mess.”

 

“A beautiful mess. You’re stunning. Have I ever told you that?” She shook her head. “I thought you were beautiful when I met you in the forest with fire in your eyes as you called me a monster. I thought you were beautiful as you fought in the throne room like a goddess. Force, I even thought you beautiful when you slammed our bond shut. And now,” his face searched hers for a moment and his lips curled into a smile, “all kiss stained lips and sparkling eyes and tear-stained cheeks. You’re so beautiful.”

 

She leaned in and the warmth of her lips covered his. They moved slowly, savoring each other. He took the breath from her lungs into him and gave him her own until they breathed together as one. 

 

When they parted, her forehead pressed to his, her fingers finding his hair and his hands landing on her hips. “I’m taking you to Naboo, Rey,” he said softly. “We can lay low for a little bit there. We can heal your mind. Prepare for what’s next.” He pulled his head back to look at her. “And it’s green. So green and full of life. You’ll love it.”

 

“Green,” she stuttered out. “No burning sand and blazing sun. No freezing dark with only stars.”

 

“None of that. A soft bed and plenty of food.” He coaxed her to lay down again, this time undoing the small blanket and draping it over them both. She slipped into place in the nook next to his heart and under his arm. He lowered his voice a little then, speaking into the crown of her head, “And I fully intend on making love to you in the grass by the lake there.”

 

She giggled, “Ben, we’ll get caught.”

 

“No, we won’t. And if we do, I can just wave my hand and make them forget everything they saw.” He gesticulated dramatically as she laughed harder and then he hugged her tighter to him. “It’ll be perfect. A culmination of all the things you’ve been denied. Water, greenery, companionship, love.” 

 

“Semi-public sex,” she teased, looking up at him and the smile she gave him melted his heart. 

 

He kissed her between her eyes before his voice sobered. “We won’t have the luxury of much time. I want to make every moment count. Get you as strong as we can.” The way her signature pulsed with warmth and light all around him filled him with hope. “We’ll do this together, Rey. I’ll hold you every night and be there when you wake every morning. I’ll keep the demons away and the few that I can’t, I’ll kiss away their memory. I promise you, Rey.”

 

“And then I’ll stand with you,” she said, pausing for a moment to let that statement sink in, the bittersweet memory of their vision bursting forward, along with all the promise that it held just starting to come to fruition. “We’ll destroy him, Ben. I’ll help you. Together.”

 

“Together, sweetheart.”

 

She burrowed herself deep into his embrace and within moments, her signature was again a calm hum to accompany the steady rise and fall of her chest. Ben stayed awake for a long time, just holding her, watching the stars streak past in the small circular window in the room. 

 

Yes. They’d face the incoming storm head-on. They’d change the tides. United together. Bonded by love.

 

************************ 

 

The dark is generous, and it is patient, and it always wins—but in the heart of its strength lies weakness: one lone candle is enough to hold it back.
Love is more than a candle.
Love can ignite the stars.