When he wakes up that morning, it’s safe to say his head is absolutely pounding. Everything hurts, his stomach is lurching, and he feels like he’s dying. It’s a classic hangover, but just like any other, it makes him feel so spectacularly shitty that he yearns for death’s sweet, sweet embrace and prays Holdo lets him have the day off.
He thinks through the events of the night before, of the office Halloween party he’d attended dressed as the dread pirate Roberts. It had been one of the greatest nights of his life; he’d danced, sang karaoke, drank like there was no tomorrow, and most importantly, he’d finally kissed Rey.
After three years of working together, after three years of pining, a touch of liquid courage and a slow dance to A Thousand Years—thanks to some twilight renaissance loving smart ass who’d taken control of the speakers—he’d finally kissed her. Actually, If he really thought about it, if he looked through the haze of alcohol and the high of sharing that kiss, she might’ve kissed him.
That kiss soon led to another, and another, and then so many more that led to her asking if they could take a Lyft to whoever’s place was closest. His had wound up winning that contest and within half an hour, they were kissing as they backed through his door, barely remembering to kick it shut before he lifted her off of her feet, and carried her to his bedroom with her legs wrapped around his hips.
As long as he lives, he’ll never forget the sounds she made, he’ll never forget how she’d cried out his name, how she’d come around his cock and nearly driven him insane as he’d followed her just a few seconds later. It was without a doubt, the best night of his life, and he hopes it will lead to many, many more good nights.
Now he’s exhausted, now his head is spinning in a way that is definitely not fun, and he’s about ready to get up and make a mad dash to the toilet, when he hears it flush, and he realizes Rey’s still here. His heart starts racing because of course, he’d hoped she’d stay, but he’d never imagined in his wildest dreams that she’d actually—
His bathroom door opens, and though it physically pains him to move, he flips over onto his other side and looks at her as she comes out. Any chance he has to just take her in like this in his bedroom, he’s taking it.
Unfortunately, she walks out fully dressed in her costume from last night. It’s not that unfortunate he supposes, Rey makes that tight Black Widow jumpsuit look sexy as all hell, but he’d half been hoping she’d have stolen one of his t-shirts or that she’d come out naked. He feels like a pervert for having the thought, but the night they’ve just spent together has brought up all these wonderful new feelings and he doesn’t know what to do with them, his brain feels like fireworks are going off in it every second.
“You okay?” she asks after a moment, and he realizes his mouth is hanging open.
“I’m fine,” he croaks, and from the sympathetic look she gives him, he can tell she knows he isn’t fine.
Rey tucks a strand of her hair behind her ear, last night’s somewhat deflated curls bouncing as the strand fails to stay in place. “I’m uh…” She blushes. “This is so awkward, I’m sorry, um… I’ve got somewhere to be, so I’m just—“
“Oh, um, it’s fine,” he tries to assure her, but he’s certain he fails.
Another awkward laugh. “Look, I had a good time, but I’ve gotta get to this meeting so—I’m gonna go, I’m—I’ll see you later?”
She’s talking just a touch too fast, and he quickly realizes it’s because she’s trying to leave. If it could possibly be for any other reason, the cause never crosses his mind, all he can think is that she doesn’t actually want to stay, and she was gonna try and leave before he woke up. His heart breaks a little in his chest as he looks at her, then gestures to the door. “See you at work,” he says, hoping he’s hidden the lump in his throat successfully.
Rey gives him another tiny, awkward grin, then she mouths another apology before she grabs something else of hers off the floor, and makes her way out of his house. Each step breaks his heart into about a thousand more tiny pieces, and all he can think about is how he’s such a fool.
They’d never admitted feelings for each other last night, all they’d said was that they wanted to go back to his place and—well—fuck. This had just been a one night stand that he’d read way too much into, and it’s his own damn fault that he’s now feeling broken on top of being hungover.
The door slams shut with her exit, and Ben groans as he rolls over in bed, his urge to be sick growing as the time passes. Eventually, he knows he’s going to have to get up, and make a mad dash to the toilet to satisfy his stomach’s primary desire, but this is not that moment. He’s not ready to get up yet. He’s going to wallow in self-pity for a few moments longer and try to think about what they’ll say to each other when they come into work again on Monday.
Then Monday comes and goes without them saying more than four words to each other. At first it hurts him, and he just tries to hold on to his precious memories of their time together, and he tries not to remember what she looked like naked when she asks him for a pencil one time. She smiles at him when she passes him in the halls, a shy little thing that has his heart melting in his chest, but it always fades as she walks away.
He feels like he fucked up somehow, and he doesn’t know what to do.
The days start to pass, and he has to put the whole thing behind him. He must accept now that whatever it was between them was just a one-time thing, and the soft, adorable little relationship he’s been picturing is never going to happen. He’s never going to take her out to dinner or bring her coffee in the mornings, he’s never going to wake up with her in his arms and her hair in his face, and he’s never going to get the chance to tell her he loves her because he blew it.
This is how his life is for three weeks.
At the end of this three week period is the week of thanksgiving. Ben’s always thought the holiday was stupid, a mistake of marketing and a terrible misinterpretation of history, and he’s in a bad mood when he walks into the office that Monday, but his mood shifts once he notices something funny.
For one, Rey comes into work late, which is a rarity, since she’s usually one of the first people in the office. When she eventually does come in, she looks pale and wobbles a bit on her feet like she’s lightheaded. He watches her sit in her chair and cross her arms over her stomach before she bends over, and rests her head on the desk.
For another, she’s wearing loose, comfortable clothing that only passes for business casual because of the black blazer she’s thrown on, and her hair looks professional because of the half-ponytail she’s thrown it up in instead of her usual three buns. He feels almost like a creep realizing he knows all these things about her, but before they hooked up at the Halloween party, they’d been friends. They weren’t super close, but he still knew a lot of things about her, and close proximity meant they both knew each other’s habits.
Sympathy floods him as he realizes that Rey is sick, and definitely fighting off some kind of nausea. A lightbulb turns on in the back of his mind, but he’s not aware of it yet. All he knows is that something seems a bit fishy about his coworker, and it isn’t just because she’s been avoiding him for three weeks—particularly for the last few days—it’s something else.
But he can’t quite put his finger on it.
He tries to focus on his work, and for about half an hour, he’s successful, then his attention is captured by Rey standing up abruptly from her desk—which is about fifteen feet from his—and making a mad dash to the restroom. This wouldn’t be that abnormal, through the years he’s seen many of his coworkers have an unfortunate illness strike them in the middle of the day, but something about the way her hands are clutching her gut has his alarm bells going off.
He can’t go back to work, not completely. He’s typing at approximately one word per minute and he needs to get stuff done, but there’s a feeling in the pit of his stomach that something is wrong. This feeling only grows when Rey leaves the bathroom again looking fairly green, only to run right back in nearly doubled over.
Concern is running rampant through his veins, but he doesn’t know what to do. They’ve barely spoken since that night three weeks ago, and what is he supposed to say to her now? How is he supposed to suggest to her that she take a sick day and he’ll help her with whatever she needs so she can work from home?
Wait. His brain has just had a thought, a clue as to why Rey is suddenly abnormally ill and running to the bathroom every five minutes. The rest of him turns white as a sheet as he starts counting back the days, keeping track of the time that’s passed. It’s been three weeks and a few days since they hooked up at that one party, and he swears he remembers using a condom, but he also knows sometimes they fail, and—
“Holy shit,” he breathes, feeling as if he’s going to faint. He knows what this must mean. Nausea? The clothing? Avoiding him? She’s… fuck . He can’t even think the word he’s barely through processing what the conclusion of this latest train of thought is.
All he can think is oh no, oh no, oh no, and he feels so guilty he doesn’t even know what to do or say beyond that. He’s in shock. Denial never quite reaches his mind, but shock holds him in an iron grip, and his head finds its way into his hands. Holy shit. He’s not ready for this.
Well, financially he’s better than most people would be, he’s making more than seventy-five grand a year, and so is she, he’s not saved up any money for a college fund, but he could do that over time. He’s got a nice house, but it’s only two bedrooms, they’d have to move somewhere else, and that’s only if she doesn’t want to sleep in the same room as him.
Fuck, would she want to get married? He knows that plenty of people who find themselves suddenly expecting have shotgun weddings, but would she want that? What kind of ring would she want? He’s already picturing a pretty, white diamond—and has been since before they slept together—and a gold band on her finger, a similarly colored dress and veil highlighting her smile as she tells him, “I do.”
It makes him smile for half a second before he remembers why they’d be getting married, and he starts picturing a tiny little infant with dark, wavy curls, her eyes, his lips, her nose, and— god— his ears. He hasn’t ever thought about having kids, he’s been too busy paying off his student loans and too single to worry about knocking anyone up until now, but he’s coming to another conclusion very, very quickly.
He would go to the ends of the earth for this one, for his possible child and Rey? He would go to war. He’d do anything for them, anything she asked. He’s already thinking about it, after all.
Fuck, there’s so much he has to do now. His life has just changed drastically. He’s got to find out how much babies really cost, the odds of having more than one, names, schools, diapers, wedding expenses, ring costs, what color Rey wants in a diamond, whether or not she loves him, if she wants to move in—
But first, he’s got to talk to her. He can’t sit in his chair in shock forever—he’s got to start this conversation. He’s got to start being a father to this poor child he didn’t mean to conceive. With a shaky breath, Ben slowly unfolds his head from his hands, and he realizes his entire body is trembling with the weight of the realization he’s just had.
His steps are wobbly as he stands up, and slowly makes his way over to the bathroom—a unisex, single-stall piece of shit that only works half the time—preparing for the worst as he raises his hand, and gets ready to knock on the door.
Either luckily or unfortunately, Rey opens it first and jolts slightly when she realizes someone’s in the doorframe. She looks so pale, so miserable, so sick, and he feels a fresh wave of guilt for having done this to her. God, he’s such an idiot. “Ben,” she breathes, laughing nervously as she runs a hand through her hair, and looks down at the ground—avoiding him again, he can’t help but notice. “What are you doing?”
His breathing is still uneven as he tries to find the words, but fails, and instead, he reaches out, and takes her hand, pulling her back into the bathroom before he locks the door, and turns around. “I know.”
Her eyes are wide as she looks at him, blinking like he’s just told her two plus two is equal to five. He watches her lips open and close a few times, jaw falling slack for a second before she finally speaks. “You know… what?”
This time, he’s the one who blinks at her . “Rey, I’ve seen you running in and out of the bathroom since you got here, and you’ve been avoiding me for days,” he says, fighting back the urge to gesticulate wildly as he looks at her. “I know the signs.”
“What signs?” she asks, sounding thoroughly bewildered. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“It’s mine, right?” He runs a hand through his hair, looking at the ground as he speaks because he’s unable to look at her right now. He doesn’t trust himself to look at her. “Unless you were with someone else before me. I did this to you, didn’t I?”
A silence falls over them both, and for a moment, he’s ready to take it as a confirmation, and he shivers as he leans back against the wall, putting his head in his hands for a moment before straightening, and getting himself together. He’s got to be strong for this, and so he steps forward, and reaches out for her hand, surprised when she lets him take it even as she stares at him with confusion in her eyes. “Rey, I know we haven’t spoken since that night, but… I’ll do whatever you need me to, I’m serious. I’ll be whatever you need me to be, if you need something, I’ll be by your side in an instant. If you need me, I’ll be the best partner, father, boyfriend--whatever you need me to be, I’ll be that.”
“I’ll do it all for you, Rey, and…” He gestures down to her flat stomach. “And the baby.”
“The what now?” she asks, sounding alarmed but also relieved, but he doesn’t think the relief stems from the question.
“You’re pregnant, aren’t you? That’s why you’re sick? Why you’ve been avoiding me?”
At this, she does something he doesn’t expect; she starts laughing. Rey is laughing at him, her fingers wrapping around his as she leans back against the wall of the bathroom, and covers her face with her other one as she turns bright red. He can feel himself turning a similar color as a new realization dawns on him, as she peeks at him from between her fingers and smiles shyly like she’s embarrassed. “No, I’m not pregnant, Ben.”
“Really?” he asks, and relief courses through his veins. He’d be grateful to fall in love with her in any way shape or form, but he wants to get to know her before they ever even consider having this kind of conversation again, and so he’s relieved, elated even.
“Really,” she promises him, then she sniffles quietly as she wipes away a tear that has formed in her eye from how hard she’s laughing. “I got my period yesterday, and I can’t cook chicken for shit. Cramping, hormonal body plus undercooked meat equals food poisoning.”
Suddenly it all makes sense, why she’s suddenly sick, the comfortable clothing, the tardiness--Rey’s just god a bad case of food poisoning. He sighs contentedly as he tugs on her hand, and pulls her a little bit closer. “That, uh, that makes a lot of sense, actually. Sorry I assumed, it’s just… I thought after what happened between us--”
“No, no, that was just…” A blush creeps up her cheeks, then she glances up at him cautiously. “Um… I’m sorry I’ve been avoiding you, I just--I didn’t think you’d want to talk to me after what happened, I thought it was just a one night stand, quick thing for you.”
“What? No, never, Rey, I’ve been--” Fuck , this is really about to come out, isn’t it? “I’ve been in love with you since just about the moment we started working together.”
Lucky for him, she’s smiling in the aftermath of his revelation, looking at him like he’s the sun, and he’s just given her the light she’s been looking for after a long journey. “So all that stuff you said about being a good partner? A good boyfriend? You meant it?”
“Every word,” he says, then he steps forward, and brushes a strand of her hair behind her ear, remembering how she’d tried and failed to do so when she’d left his place weeks earlier. “That offer’s still available, if you want it.”
“I want it,” she tells him, and he feels one of her hands find his waist, fingers splaying out behind his back as she pulls him in closer, and for a moment he thinks it’s because she’s going to kiss him, but before his heart can start racing she pulls back and rests her head on his shoulder instead. “But maybe later when I’m not so sick.”
He snorts softly. “That’s fair,” he replies, then he takes her face in his hands anyway, and pulls her back slightly, just enough for him to be able to see the thin sheen of sweat that’s developed there. He doesn’t give a shit, and if he’s going to have a future with her, he can’t give a shit. He loves this woman at her best and her worst, and he knows this is just somewhere in between that.
Lips twitching into a tiny hint of a smile, he instead leans forward, and presses a kiss to her forehead, feeling her sigh against him, wrapping her arms around his waist as she leans into his touch, reveling in it. “You really meant it.”
He laughs as he pulls away, then he begins to stroke her hair gently with his other hand as he looks between her eyes. “Can I bring you soup tonight?”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to keep it down, but thanks.”
“Maybe I’ll just keep you company, then,” he says with a shrug.
“Where at my apartment?”
“If you want.”
“... this is a really shitty first date,” she mutters, and buries her face in his shoulder again. “I’m so sorry.”
“I don’t see how any date with you could be shitty, but that’s fine. We’ll just have one hell of a story.”
“Mmm… holding my hair back while I puke bile? Great thing to tell our friends.”
“Classic,” he confirms, then he wraps his arms around her shoulders properly. “I just want you to feel better, cause the sooner you do the sooner I can kiss you again.”
“... how good is your soup?”
“I won’t give you food poisoning.”
She thinks for a moment, then she pulls back enough to look him in the eye before she grins, and gives him a nod. “Yeah, it’s a date.”
“Yeah. I want to kiss you, too,” she assures him, then Ben’s positive he’s melting as she embraces him again, as she makes the last three weeks of agony and the world’s worst hangover worth it...
As they commence the official start of their relationship.