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The Battle Within

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Kylo woke with a sudden sense of foreboding. A sense that something happening today could change everything. His brow furrowed as he sat up and began stretching. There had been no problems from the Resistance since Crait months ago. Is Hux up to something again? I swear I'll-

Before he could dwell further on what could be coming, a knock sounded on his door and he got out of bed to continue another long and tedious day of being Supreme Leader.


 

Rey tried to calm herself as she was led through the narrow walkways of the ship. When Poe had contacted her in a panicked voice, she knew she had to abort her mission and return as soon as possible. Rey hadn't slept for two days as she traveled across the galaxy. She had never imagined she would be too late and as she followed Poe with his uncharacteristically slouched posture, a slight longing began in her heart for something she refused to name.


 

Kylo had just finished a briefing when he felt a whisper of a something that he hadn't felt in a long time. As he slowly recognized the feeling, he canceled his appointments for the rest of the day and locked himself into his rooms to wait.


 

Poe closed the door behind him, leaving Rey alone in the cold room. She hugged herself tightly around the stomach, hoping that if she squeezed tight enough she could keep her emotions contained. It was no use. She was slowly breaking into pieces and losing direction. She didn't know what she was supposed to do, how she was supposed to go on. How could she continue her work with no guidance? She never should have left. If she had stayed she would have had more time. She had lost so many people already, and yet it was never easier.

Rey's thoughts and emotions were spiraling out of control. She felt as if she was going to explode and she didn't know how to stop it and—


 

Kylo wondered to himself what had happened as he sat on his bed meditating. Rey had kept him cut off for so long, and he knew that something drastic must have happened for her to have let her guard down. Perhaps one of her absurd, puny, rebellion friends had gotten themselves caught. It would serve them right.

His belittling of the Resistance kept him occupied as he waited for the inevitable. He knew that a connection was coming and he promised himself he would not give into the weak, unbalanced, sentimental, fool that he always seemed to become around her.

It did not take long for Rey's appearance, and it took even less time for him to break his promises to himself.


 

"You look different." Rey stiffened in recognition of the snide voice behind her but did not allow herself to look at him.

"What's changed? It's been months since I last saw you." She could feel Ben's presence like a fire scorching her back, and yet she refused to turn.


 

It didn't take long for Kylo to realize that something was terribly wrong. He could feel Rey's bizarre emotions as though they were his own and he felt his chest tighten as he began guessing.


 

"Rey." The guilt building up in her chest threatened to overflow when she heard him say her name.

"Something must have happened. You've kept me away for so long," He sounded tentative as he continued, "Did something happen to one of your…friends?"

The tears started falling as she felt his hand on her shoulder. She flinched knowing that he could now see her surroundings, but it was too late.

Rey tried to contain her sobs as she looked down at Leia's still body.


 

The air he tried to take in hurt like shards of glass. Kylo felt himself start to shake. Why didn't I feel it? Had he been so consumed with himself, so distant from her that he hadn't realized she was gone? His mother lay before him looking as beautiful and dignified and… as still as he'd ever seen her and he hadn't felt a thing. What happe-

"I should have stayed." Kylo's thoughts cut off as he looked up to see Rey shudder through another sob.

"She wanted me to go. I think she knew. I-I wasn't even here to say goodbye, I was too late." Kylo's hand left her shoulder as she fell to her knees and he lost sight of Leia.

"Why must they always go, Ben? It's just not fair." Rey's face was streaked with tears and Kylo watched her, struggling with a response. He longed to comfort her, to tell her he had the same question. But the words didn't come through his grief and he instead sat down beside her, hoping his presence might be enough.


 

Despite the months since she had last seen him, Rey's connection to Ben seemed stronger than ever. She couldn't decide if it was him or the distraction he brought that had calmed her slightly. But regardless, she wiped her arm under her nose, attempting to stop it from running as she watched Ben lower himself to the ground.

He sat against the casket and Rey felt that he did so with an unconscious and childlike hope. In his mind maybe if he couldn't see Leia, then he could go on without coming to terms with her death.

His face seemed contorted and she could feel the confusion of his emotions. Rey felt her heart drop as the realization finally seemed to sink in. Ben's mother had just died. His mother. While Rey may have cared for and loved her, Leia had not raised Rey. Leia was not her mother.

A tear began to fall from the corner of Ben's eye as he stared at the floor. Before she knew what she was doing, Rey reached out and wiped it away.

She could see his surprise as Rey lowered her shaking hand from his face. Her face flushed, but before she could turn away from him he took her hand in his.

Now it was Rey's turn to be surprised as Ben's large hand encased her own. She gently squeezed his hand before letting go, shifting around to sit shoulder to shoulder with him. She then reached for his hand and they sat together staring at their intertwined hands as Rey softly said, "I'm so sorry Ben." His grip on her hand tightened and he leaned his head back and stared at the wall.


 

In the quiet Kylo focused on the sounds of the ship and Rey's breathing beside him. He marveled at Rey's ability to comfort him. Despite all he had done, and all they had gone through, she managed to put everything aside and be there for him. Kylo felt like an idiot for the way he had been acting as he had waited for Rey, for the way his insecurities seemed to bring out the monster in him.

He could feel Rey moving and turned to see her head drooping. As she slowly laid against his shoulder, he realized that he always wanted Rey to feel this safe with him. He felt her hand loosen around his as she fell asleep and knew that though he may deny it, his attachment to Rey was only growing stronger through their renewed contact.

He wanted to worry for the future, for what could be coming and what could push her further away, but instead, he closed his eyes and fell asleep, missing his mother and dreamed of a different place where life wasn't so complicated.