This was very much not appropriate. Not in the slightest regard. It hadn’t been for the last several hours since they took off from the station just outside of New York City, and he realized that the person he was going to be sharing a train car with for the next several days was a woman. Not only that, but an unmarried woman, and he was an unmarried man, and luckily they were at the back of the train car where no one would notice two people of such a status walking into the same room every night, but it still struck him as odd that they’d been allowed to book the same room.
Ben Solo was fucked, but what choice did he have? The train was completely full.
He found rather quickly, however, that he didn’t mind. Rey Kanata, his bunk mate, was perhaps the funniest woman he’d ever met. She made a mockery out of everything as long as there was no harm in it, and the quips she’d made about their situation had sent him into ruthless fits of laughter more times than he could count. It had been how they’d bonded in the first place, after all.
She made the best of their situation, offering to take the top bunk because she knew it was too close to the ceiling for a man of his height, and making jokes about how she was taller than him as she flopped about on the mattress. Already, he knew they would go on to become great friends on their journey west to Sacramento, to California where he’d been told paradise awaited them.
If he were being honest, though, he started to get a weird feeling in the back of his head that paradise’s meaning had changed.
He didn’t know what that thought meant until the first night commenced, until he was shivering in the sheets of his lower bunk bed as the train chugged through the Appalachian mountains and toward the Midwest. It was an unusually cold January, and though they’d been warm as night had fallen on the brandy that had been served and the jazz that had been playing in the dining car, now that they were sleeping by themselves, they had lost that spark of fire.
Above him, he could hear the sound of teeth chattering, and Rey groaned like she was uncomfortable as she shifted on her mattress. Sympathy swept through him as he thought of ways to alleviate her misery. Surely there had to be something he could do for her, right?
Another thought bloomed in his head that, yes, there was something he could do, but he could never—could he? Sharing a bed with a woman when one wasn’t married—publicly at least, in settings like this—was largely frowned upon. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he soon realized that they were already going to draw speculation just from sharing this car. It didn’t matter whether they actually slept together or not.
With that in mind, he cleared his throat, and prayed she was awake. “Rey?”
Luckily for him, she was. “Yeah?”
“Are you c-cold?”
“F-freezing, actually,” she stuttered back, then he heard her shift again. “Why?”
“I-I was just th-thinking we c-could share?” he asked, his voice tentative and shy as he prayed she wouldn’t take that the wrong way. “We already share a c-cabin.”
There was a hesitation in her voice as she replied, “Are you s-sure?” Then he heard her shift again, and then her feet swung over the edge of her mattress before she slipped off of it, landing smoothly like some sort of jungle cat. “B-because we b-barely know each other and—?”
“I’m f-fine with it if-if you are, I just want t-to b-be fucking warm.” It was true, he was so miserable, he would’ve shared this bed with just about anyone, and he had a lot of enemies. “Is that a yes?”
Rey rolled her eyes, but nodded, then gestured for him to scoot over before wrapping her dressing gown a little more tightly around herself, and crawling into the bed beside him. His heart beat a little faster in his chest as she laid down, and soon he felt her pressed up against his backside, he felt her arm wrapping around his waist as she settled in, and sighed against the ridges at the base of his neck. “Th-thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” he replied, already feeling warmer as she pulled him flush against her. The freezing winter air seemed unable to stop them from keeping warm, and within minutes, he was falling into a deep sleep, his dreams filled with hazel eyes and illegal wine as the hours of the night passed him by in silence.
The next morning, he woke to the sound of the train’s horn being sounded upon arrival at its first stop in the middle of Ohio. He jolted awake, then immediately felt guilty when he remembered he was no longer alone in the bed. Luckily, Rey continued to snore softly behind him, and simply held him more tightly against her as the train chugged to a gentle stop.
That morning was the warmest he’d ever felt in spite of the chill that lingered in the air. It was warm simply because he had her, because he wasn’t alone, and because he was unable to stop the smile on his face from budding further into life.
Eventually, though, they had to wake up and face the day, but when they did, Ben found something oddly endearing in the way Rey turned to face him upon waking, in the way the light caught in her eyes when the sunlight streamed through the window. It only became more enchanting as she smiled at him and said, “Good morning.”
It became abundantly clear to him as he stuttered out his response that she had him wrapped around her finger, and this was not going to remain strictly platonic much longer. How could it when she looked at him like that? When she lingered so close without moving away? When her hand rested on his bicep and one of her heels was hooked around his calf like she wanted to hold him in place?
It wouldn’t stay platonic. It couldn’t. It was only a matter of time, and three more days to Sacramento.
They spent the day after that reading newspapers, books, and dining with the other passengers on the train. Just from their arrival to the dining car together and the way they sat by each other’s side, the other passengers began talking. The funny thing about that, though, was that he’d been so lost in conversation, so far gone to her eyes and her smile, and the way she could light up a room just by saying “hello,” that he’d failed to notice this until they’d retreated back to their cabin.
The second night she didn’t even bother climbing into her bunk first, she just snuggled up with him in his, her head resting on his chest as he wrapped both arms around her, and reveled in her warmth. His eyes closed, but didn’t remain so for long, springing open again a few seconds later when he heard her deep voice drip like honey into his ear. “Ben, what is this?”
“What is what?” he asked, genuinely confused by the meaning of her question.
“Between us. I just—“ She took a deep breath, then balled up the fabric of his nightshirt in her fist. “I am not normally this person. I am used to sitting in the cold and waiting for the worst to pass when things get bad, but you… all you had to do was ask and I came running for shelter.”
“It was cold, Rey. It still is.”
“I’ve had far colder nights, and yet I came in here last night and tonight and held you and let you hold me, so what the hell is this? What does it mean?”
He didn’t know how to answer that. All he could do was sit there with his mouth opening and closing like a grouper fish, then he actually tried to think. She clearly didn’t seem to mind if there was something between them, if he wanted her as something more than just a traveling companion, so what could be the worst thing about telling her?
Looking into those eyes, the ones that held entire rainbows and worlds of color within them, he knew he had a limited range of options for what to do. He took a deep breath, then he brought one of his hands to her cheeks, watching her reaction to his every move closely as he drifted toward her, as he moved closer and closer, and they had to shift, her back pressing into the mattress and her arms wrapping around his neck as the gap between them got smaller.
Her fingers had just started to card through his hair when he finally kissed her, and the world spun out of control. She kissed him like no one else had, the way he’d always wanted to be kissed, soft, sensual, slow, explorative, and sweet. It made him think that he’d been missing something all his life, searching corners of rooms, under mattresses and hidden compartments of drawers, but never finding that thing he’d been looking for because it had been right in front of his eyes all along.
It made him feel dizzy in the best possible way, and he smiled against her lips as he shifted again, pulling her on top of him as the train chugged on through the midwestern night, on through Illinois and out west into Iowa and beyond.
They’d wound up kissing through half the night. It never escalated beyond that, never transcended a simple kiss, but it felt nice, and so they did it, kissing until they grew too tired to keep going, and only then did they stop and pull away. Only then did they kiss briefly one last time before snuggling up beside one another again, and succumbing to the throes of sleep.
The next day saw them unable to break apart from each other, and that really had passengers talking, but he didn’t care. He’d never see any of these people again after they reached California, and half of them were too drunk on liquor they weren’t supposed to be having to remember their remarks anyway. This allowed him to enjoy his time with Rey, to enjoy the way she teased him and kissed him when she thought no one was looking—and the way she did those things when they were alone—and he found himself almost dreading what would happen when they reached Sacramento, when they arrived at their final destination and had to go their separate ways.
He voiced that fear to her that night. They were lying beside one another again, kissing lazily off and on as his fingers stroked gingerly up her arm. “Rey?” he asked quietly, his voice barely a whisper between kisses.
“What happens when we reach California?”
“What do you mean?”
“Sacramento. I assume we’re not going to the same place.”
“Well, that depends, where are you going?”
“Downtown, my father owns a shop I’m taking ove—“
“So am I. My mother has fallen ill and I’m going to be staying with her indefinitely until she either dies or chases me from her property,” she told him, then she rested a hand on his cheek. “Don’t worry, Ben, I’m not going anywhere. I won’t leave you when the train stops.”
“You’ve known me for two days.”
“I said I wouldn’t leave you when the train stopped, I didn’t say anything about what happened after, you presumptuous ass,” she said, but her voice was light and teasing. “But regardless, I don’t think I’ll leave.”
His eyebrow quirked. “No?”
“No,” she whispered, pulling him in for another soft, brief kiss before she began to press her lips along the line of his jaw, commencing a descent that would alter the course of his life forever. “I’m…” kiss . “Not…” kiss. “Going…” kiss. “Anywhere…” kiss.
His breath was coming in short, sharp little pants as she descended along his neck, leaving a mark by his collar bone, just beneath where his shirt would conceal it from view as she went further and further down. “Rey…”
“Is this okay?” she asked, kissing him over the clothed expanse of his left pectoral muscle.
Though it took him a minute to find the words to say, Ben nodded, and placed his hand on her cheek as his lip quivered until he could speak. “More than okay,” he croaked, then she kept descending, reaching for the button of his trousers before sliding them down his hips, before crawling back on the bed, and making him certain he could actually see stars.
They crossed over Colorado the following morning. As they passed through the Rocky Mountains, the view was lost to them both. They were too caught up in each other, too lost in finding ways to make each other come apart that didn’t involve the risk of conceiving a child when they hadn’t brought any sort of contraceptive with them. He hadn’t exactly been planning on meeting her, after all, he’d just thought he’d be crossing the country.
The memory of what she’d done to him the night before was fresh in his mind as he did the same thing to her. He could remember how hard he’d become as her lips descended down his body, how he’d gasped her name when she’d taken him in her hand, how he’d come apart inside her mouth as she went down on him. He wanted to return that favor for her, and so he did after they finished eating lunch.
Rey’s legs were on either side of his face, and his tongue was buried between her thighs as she tried not to writhe on top of him. Her hands had never been more tight in his hair, her grip had never felt more intense as she tried her hardest not to moan his name loudly enough for the entire train to hear.
It only spurred him on further. He practically drank her in, like he couldn’t get enough of her, and he really couldn’t. Each sound she made, each tug of his hair, each twitch of her legs made him come alive, and so he didn’t stop, he didn’t cease his pace, he just kept going until he felt her come apart, until she came against his mouth screaming his name.
When she kissed him, when she collapsed on top of him after, he knew for sure that he’d never be able to let her out of his life again. He knew his destiny lay with hers, and as his fingers twined in the fringe of her dress, as they exchanged sloppy, drunken kisses, he whispered those promises to her, relief flooding him when she nodded and promised him she felt the same.
She was still panting, still flushed and pink and slightly sweaty from what he’d done to her as she pressed her hands to his chest, sitting back so that she was straddling his hips. “When the train stops at Sacramento, I’ll get off with you.”
“You will?” he asked, still unable to believe his luck. “You’ll come with me?”
“Yes, I want us to have a proper dinner and dance in a speakeasy before I go to see my mother, I want to deny reality for a little bit longer,” she told him, her fingers gently stroking the bare skin of his chest where she’d undone his buttons minutes earlier. “And then I want us to do it every night.”
“Every night until you grow tired of me.”
He laughed, then placed his hand over hers. “My dear, I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of you,” he promised her.
“And I won’t tire of you either.”
“Oh no, whatever will we do?” he muttered sarcastically, then she laughed as she kissed him fiercely, and pinned him back down to the mattress, holding him close as the train chugged onward to Sacramento, toward their destination, their families, their lives...
Toward all of those many, many nights they’d just promised to each other.