Desperation breeds necessity, and Rey has become desperate.
She makes her way to the exchange stall where Unkar Plutt rations out the only food available on Jakku. He’s utterly repulsive: rude, smelly, and somehow always coughing, but he also has constant access to food. Not good food—but edible food.
And he’s become fascinated with her for whatever reason to the point of a preposterous proposal. Revolting, horrible, nauseating proposal, as if feigning a marriage will soften the blow.
Unkar casts her a glare as she cuts to the front of the line. Rey pushes aside the Gungian at the counter and meets Unkar’s sunken, leering eyes.
“I accept,” she says primly.
He blinks. Smiles.
“Good. Come here at nightfall.” He points, irate again. “Don’t try anything stupid, girl.”
Rey rolls her eyes as she turns and leaves. This is humiliating and disgusting but she’s hungry, and thin, and increasingly sick. Her parents would want her to keep healthy, and she’ll never see them again if she drops dead from starvation.
• • •
Before nightfall comes, Rey sees a large black First Order ship descend from the cloudless sky. It heads for Niima Outpost, so she thinks nothing of it. They sometimes search for Resistance fighters in the swaths of refugees.
She takes a while to prepare herself for the inevitable: Unkar Plutt’s revolting body on top of and inside her own. She paces and takes deep breaths up until the sun has sunken low in the sky.
If she’s dead, she’ll never see her parents again. That’s what she has to remember. It’s been a long fourteen years, and her parents must be searching. She has to see them again.
Rey grabs her staff and little desert flower before she leaves for Niima Outpost.
• • •
Unkar has closed the ration stall when she arrives. It’s dark and growing cold and he beckons her along, toward the black dunes on the other side of the market. Rey grits her teeth and follows him. Hopefully this won’t be real marriage. Hopefully he drops dead.
He shuffles through the sand. “We have company, so don’t embarrass me.”
“What company?” Rey asks.
“First Order. You can stay out of the way.”
She glares at the fat rolls on the back of his bumpy neck. Rotten bastard.
They walk through the darkness to Unkar’s ramshackle home, where two Stormtroopers stand guard outside. They hardly react as Unkar opens the creaky door and leads Rey inside. She glances at their blank, frankly frightening white helmets, shivering.
It’s warm, filled with old ship furniture that doesn’t match. Rey has never visited the rotten place but is somewhat pleased with the safety it might offer and four sturdy walls rather than an open rusted-out Rebel ship. She shuts the door behind her and notices a man sitting on the large couch.
He absorbs half the space in the small sitting area, black mask reflecting weak firelight from the far corner. All of his skin is covered in black armor and clothing but Rey can feel him watching her as she awkwardly picks the chair beside Unkar’s.
He’s tall. He sits in a relaxed manner like he’s quite comfortable in possessing the space.
Unkar motions to Rey. “This is my soon-to-be wife. Little rat, but she’ll keep the bed warm.”
Rey keeps her mouth shut. She avoids the masked man, opting instead to trail her gaze along the cracked ceiling. He shifts in the corner of her eye.
But Unkar launches into talking about where the Millenium Falcon might be, an old freighter Rey remembers from tales of the Republic. It’s here, on Jakku, collected as collateral on an unpaid debt. What interest the stranger has in the ship, she doesn’t know. Maybe he’s a wealthy collector.
He seems bored by Unkar. Rey can still sense him watching her.
“My men will collect the ship.” His voice is deep, mechanical from a vocoder. He pauses. “Does this girl have a name?”
“Rey,” Unkar supplies, hesitant.
“Rey. And does Rey speak?”
She glances at their expectant stares. Unkar glares so she shrugs and speaks.
“Yes,” she snips. “I’m Rey.”
The man makes a vague gesture, imploring her to continue. There isn’t much else. She’s an orphan waiting for her family, enjoys flight simulators, and absolutely loathes Unkar Plutt.
Her ‘fiancé’ jumps in again with a dismissive laugh.
“Very simple girl. I’m sure she doesn’t follow, Supreme Leader. Now… if we can arrange payment for the ship.”
“You’ll be compensated. Continue to pester me and you’ll only be compensated with your life.”
Unkar nods, though he looks displeased. He lapses into silence while the Supreme Leader continues examining Rey from behind his mask.
Supreme Leader—Kylo Ren—she thought he’d be bigger. He’s certainly menacing and Rey squirms under his chrome and black mask, fearful of what he might be thinking. But she’s thinking too far ahead. He must have others who cater to his… needs. She’s too thin and sickly; too much sinewy muscle and bone.
He tilts his head. “And you’re to marry Unkar, Rey?”
“…Yes,” she replies.
“Tonight,” Unkar interjects. He reaches over to pat her thigh and Rey pulls away. “If I had known you’d be visiting, sir, I would’ve finished the job earlier.”
“Oh. Then I’m sure you’re eager to proceed.”
Unkar nods and licks his cracked lips. “Simple and rude, but she’ll warm the bed.” He pinches the thin fat on Rey’s upper arm and she hisses. “Put some meat on these little bones, too. Nothing better than a nice soft woman.”
The Supreme Leader doesn’t respond. Everything is quiet again for a long minute and tension mounts in the small room. Rey examines her nails.
Then he folds his large gloved hands in his lap and nods toward her.
“Sir,” Unkar splutters, “Supreme—”
Kylo sweeps his hand like he’s batting a fly. Unkar is flung into the door hard enough that he’s thrown straight out. It swings shut behind him.
Rey looks over her shoulder at the spectacle and quickly turns back. Kylo is still watching her, very much at his leisure and unperturbed by Unkar shouting outside. Her heart flutters. Does he really want her to just… take off her clothes?
He rests his head on his closed fist. The fire crackles and shadows lengthen across the dirty floor.
“Proceed,” he says.
Rey hesitates, but stands, knees knocking. She isn’t going to deny him after the show of strength and quickly divests herself of the dusty robes she’s worn for years. Her cheeks burn during the process but it’s dark enough that she hopes Kylo can’t see.
He doesn’t move. He’s quiet as her clothes rustle in a pile to the floor, which she picks up and sets aside on the chair behind her. It leaves her in chest bindings and the small shorts she uses as underwear. Nervous, she flexes her hands while she waits for him to speak.
Kylo motions in a circle. “Turn. Slowly.”
“Sir—Supreme Leader.” Rey swallows a lump, glancing towards the door. “Unkar and I have a tenuous agreement and—”
His voice is harder. She stiffens her upper lip as she turns in a small circle, fists balled at her sides. Is he trying to humiliate her? Is he going to mock her ribs and bruises and calluses?
When she meets his black mask again, he taps his fingers on the side. Unkar is still complaining and the Stormtroopers are telling him to stay back.
“How old are you?” Kylo asks.
“Have you ever menstruated?”
Rey reddens and folds her arms over her chest. “No, I haven’t.”
It’s because she’s thin and malnourished. It’s a blessing in disguise: she doesn’t need to worry about catching and disposing of the blood.
Kylo Ren goes back to silence. He taps his helmet.
“Remove the rest.”
“Surely only my husband should see that,” she snaps.
That draws out a long sigh. He’s risking her agreement with Unkar: what if she’s spoiled now and he doesn’t want her? This is access to food and survival, and the whims of the Supreme Leader don’t matter at all to Rey. Her existence is much smaller and simpler.
Kylo rises to his feet. Rey bristles, instinct telling her to run, but he takes two steps and is looming before her. There’s no escape from him.
He grasps the top of her bindings and rips them open with a single rough tug. She jerks back and he brings her forward, two fingers hooked over the hem of her underwear, which tug down as well to remove them. All these things fall to the floor, leaving Rey naked and mortified.
He’s going to ruin her, then leave and never come back.
Kylo gently cups a breast in his rough glove, squeezing as if he’s sampling a fruit. He brushes a thumb across her nipple and Rey suppresses a nervous shudder.
His fingers trail down her ribs like he’s counting them and alight on her prominent hip bone. He’s warm and smells like something fragrant and soft that Rey doesn’t recognize. She glares at his chest.
Something unclips. His cape flutters around her shoulders, heavy, warm, and conceals her body down to her ankles. Rey blinks as Kylo touches her arm and gestures to the door with his long fingers.
She pulls the cape tighter and doesn’t object. He isn’t a man to be objecting with.
Unkar paces outside. The Stormtroopers catch him when he charges toward Kylo and Rey, shouting and cursing. She shivers in the cold, teeth chattering, watching Kylo wave off the Stormtroopers. They step aside and let Unkar through.
“What are you doing?!” he demands. “She’s mine! You can’t—!”
Kylo doesn’t lift his hand, but it looks like something seizes Unkar’s throat. He gags, pudgy face flooding purple, and clutches his neck with wide eyes.
The Supreme Leader saunters closer. He circles Unkar, silent, intimidating in the icy darkness. Rey considers making a break for it, casting a look across the inky black sand dunes. Travel at night through the desert is dangerous, but so is this.
“Primae noctis, Plutt,” Kylo murmurs, amused. He grabs the front of Unkar’s shirt and drags him up on his tiptoes to the chrome eyelet of the helmet. “Your Supreme Leader can take whatever peasant girls he pleases. Can’t he?”
“She… she… That’s not a law!”
Kylo pulls him closer. “I am the law.”
Unkar is thrown to the ground in a cloud of sand. The Stormtroopers flank Rey and urge her on with the butts of their blasters. She stumbles forward twice before obediently walking.
“She’ll be returned to your possession,” Kylo continues. He nudges Unkar’s belly with his boot. “Once I’ve had my fill of her this evening.”
Rey’s stomach flips. She stops and is shoved onward, past where Unkar is groaning on the ground. His fill—that word makes her hair stand on end. Is Kylo even human? What if he’s something frightening underneath the helmet?
Her bare feet pad through cold soft sand and she stares at the back of the Supreme Leader’s head. Why is he doing this? Is he really so cruel?