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the shadows are whispering (again)

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Year 37 After the Battle of Yavin (ABY), 9th Standard Month -- Naboo 

Rey lets her feet dangle over the edge of the cliff, swinging them slightly, back and forth, bare toes brushing over the rocks and vines that cling to the shear wall below them. Ben sits next to her, their boots off to the side, one arm propping him up as he leans back slightly, the other crossing behind Rey's back and curling over her hip. He knows she spent years in situations more dangerous than this, growing up clinging to wrecks of starships to earn her food, but he can't help the quick tightening of his fingers when she leans forward to get a better look at the forest below. He never developed those kinds of instincts for himself; Rey brings out things in him he didn't think he was capable of. He's still getting used to defending instead of attacking. 

Rey smiles over her shoulder at him and leans back into his chest. His arm supports her as she rests her head just under his chin. He tucks his head and lands a soft kiss in her hair. She sighs, content, and rests her hand over his, squeezing lightly in appreciation. The sun sinks down towards the horizon in front of them, lining the trees with gold. The light turns molten as it fades, and they make no move to leave. They can find their way back, or stay here if they want. This isn’t the first planet they’ve explored since disappearing from the reformed Republic, but it’s one they’ve been heading towards all along. Nights on Naboo stay mild, and not much can bother the Last Jedi and her Jedi Killer. Not after everything else they've dealt with. He still wakes up covered in sweat some nights, convinced he can feel Snoke’s voice in his head, or Sidious’ lightning arcing across his skin. He knows Rey does too. At least now, they can turn towards each other in their shared bed, taking comfort in the other’s warmth. 

Further away, he hears the waterfalls that tumble over the cliffs, a dull roar in the background. They can just be seen beyond the trees. It’s not a good enough view to draw the hordes of tourists that crowd elsewhere, especially since they'd had to hike through the jungle to get here. The scent of warm, damp earth touched with lush foliage settles around them. He watches the fading light trail over Rey's skin, the warm yellows making it look almost liquid, dotted with her freckles and scars. He runs his hand over a cluster just above her wrist, and she tilts her head up to nuzzle into his neck. He feels the moment she notices the figures behind them. She stills, not yet used to them the way he is, then relaxes again, mostly. He's known they were there almost since he and Rey arrived, but the growing shadows show the blue glow of the ghosts more clearly. 

"Have they been there the whole time?" Rey asks quietly. Not afraid but curious.

He nods, chin brushing her hair as he does. "Don't mind them. The Force will let them go soon enough." In all his years of seeing them, he's never fully figured out what calls the Force ghosts to him some times rather than others, but he's accepted it as something he can't change. They won't bother them tonight; they watch the horizon as well, perhaps sensing the sacred feeling of the evening. 

It has taken them some time to come to Naboo, with all of its history, and the ghosts have been stronger here than on the empty planet they came from. His frequent shadows have watched as Rey marveled over the crystal clear waters and rolling hills of the Lake Country, as he stood silent, lost in thought, on the balcony of Varykino, where his grandparents said their vows, and then as he and Rey wandered the storied city of Theed hand in hand with faces covered by scarves. Out here, with the city reduced to a curved skyline in the distance, he and Rey have removed their extra coverings, free with only the setting sun and the spirits that haunt him to watch. 

Rey watches the blue figures behind them a moment more before settling back against his chest, turning her face to soak up the last of the sun. "So you've always seen them?" she murmurs.

He nods again. "As long as I can remember."