Chapter 1: Prologue
Queen Padmé Naberiee-Skywalker and King Anakin Skywalker sat on their thrones as they announced that their daughter, Leia, would be ascending the throne the following year with her husband, Han Solo. Princess Leia and Han stood to the side in their finery, their son, Ben, was behind them, shifting awkwardly. He hated being in front of crowds and would much rather have been off tinkering with the engineers in the hangar. Duty demanded he should stand here, as his mother was declared the future queen. He glanced at his grandfather, who was staring at him, encouraging him to stand straighter and lift his head, to stop shuffling his feet.
He loved his family, but he adored his grandfather. They were kindred spirits; his grandfather had taken him for his first flight, and helped him take apart and rebuild his first engine. Under his grandfather’s scrutiny, he would do his duty. He knew his grandfather disliked these ceremonies as much as he did, and if he could cope, so could Ben.
When Leia and Han began the dancing, Padmé stood to mingle with the guests, leaving Ben and Anakin alone. Anakin waved him over to his side.
“I know you hate these events, but you will learn to manage. I did.” His grandfather said. “But we will not be noticed if we disappear for a while. Follow me.”
Anakin stood, took the boy’s hand and led him onto the balcony.
“I want to give you something, to remind you of who you are.” He said as they looked over the city. He undid the knife from his belt and gave it to him. Ben’s eyes widened as he took hold of it and drew it out, looking over their family coat of arms on the hilt.
“Your grandmother had it made for me when I was struggling to fit in here. She had the coat of arms redesigned to include me. This is who you are. You’ll find your own way, but if you’re ever in doubt, hold this dagger and know I have felt that way too.” Anakin squeezed his shoulder.
Ben looked into his grandfather's eyes, tying the scabbard around his waist.
“Thank you, grandfather.” He said, wrapping his arms around his waist and squeezing.
“Come now, Ben. We must get back.”
They returned to the party.
The next few years passed quickly, with Leia stepping into her role as Queen, and Padmé and Anakin stepping away into a peaceful retirement.
Until the Revolution came. It started with strange ships landing, and their leader Snoke coming to profess friendship to the planet. Leia had been unsure, so she had sent Anakin to Coruscant to see if he could learn more from their old allies.
Ben had thrown a tantrum (most unbecoming of a prince and something he must learn to control, his mother told him) in his room that he was forbidden from going with his grandfather. It was his twelfth birthday, and surely that meant he should be able to do what he liked, including accompanying his grandfather wherever he went. Anakin had tried to calm Ben down, explaining that one day he too would be big enough to go with him, but for now he had to remain on Naboo. Anakin called from the doorway of Ben's room where he was throwing an epic tantrum. "Ben I was not going to show you this until your eighteenth birthday." Ben stopped throwing furniture around and listened. “Give me the dagger.”
Ben screamed a final time, then he relented and removed the belt, handing it to his grandfather.
“See the hilt? Push down on the right edge.” The boy took the dagger back and did as his grandfather said. The end popped open.
“That is a hiding place, but I want to give you something more to keep in there.” Anakin removed a small ring he kept on his hand. This was not his wedding ring, or royal ring, but a simple band of iron.
“This ring was made from my chains, before I was freed from slavery. I will want it back, but for now I want you to keep it, so you know I will come back. But it must stay our little secret.” Anakin placed the ring in the hollow hilt, and gave the dagger back to Ben, before enveloping him in a hug and leaving.
Ben watched his grandfather stride away. He knew he only wanted to help him and show his love, but he still felt the anger and frustration boiling within him. Instead of putting the belt back around his waist, he took the dagger back out and threw it somewhere into the mess he had made. It could stay there until his grandfather came back as far as he was concerned.
Two days later, the true invasion began. Ships started streaming from the skies, armour clad warriors disembarking and ushering people back into their homes. Some fought back, but they were shot down immediately. Ben and his family could only watch from the windows as their city was overrun. Their guards had never had any real threats to protect the family from in years, and their lack of experience was showing now as Snoke and his armies ransacked the palace. Leia thrust Ben towards Luke, her brother.
“Take him. Get him out. Please, Luke” she begged “you’ll be much quicker.”
“No, please. I want to stay with you!” Ben begged, tears in his eyes.
“Come, boy. I didn’t give up the throne to train for years to protect this family just to let you all die now!”
Luke pulled him away, down the back and secret corridors of the palace as they heard Snoke arrive in the throne room.
“Kill them” they heard, and the sound of shots filled the air. Ben fell to his knees, but Luke just picked him up and kept them moving.
They arrived in the palace hangar, filled with the troops rounding up the pilots. Luke managed to sneak Ben into one of the smaller ships, when they heard laughter behind them. Snoke’s right hand man was waiting with more troops.
“GO!” Luke shouted, shutting the canopy of the jet, leaving Ben alone, to give him one last chance.
Ben took off, deciding to head for their hideaway in the mountains to figure out what to do next, but the ship was hit. He started leaking fuel. He headed over the forest to try and land safely, but he crashed and knew no more.
Chapter 2: A Rumour in Gradsnoke
Rey has a plan
Maz isn’t sure
Kylo needs a new job
This was originally going to be two chapters but it made sense as one.
Thanks again to automatic badgirl and ksco for your betaing skills!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rey lay her scavenged parts before Plutt, waiting as always for his unfair assessment of them.
“This is worth… one and a half portions.” He stated, placing them in front of her. She took them from the large Crolute without complaint, knowing it was pointless to argue with him.
Scavenging was not how she normally made her living, but with the crackdown from First Order troops on all smuggling crews, she and Maz had needed to lie low for a while. After the military coup eighteen years ago, Naboo had been cut off from the rest of the galaxy by the Supreme Leader, Snoke, making old luxuries hard to come by. She and Maz could normally make a decent living from bringing such things in, but a warrant out for their arrest and the increased patrols meant she had to return to scavenging until they could find an opportunity to get off world.
With her portions in hand, she jumped on her hover bike to head back to Theed, the old city, where the deserted palace was. They stayed hidden in the palace’s hangar, where Maz was running repairs on the Falcon again. The ancient ship should have been retired years ago, but with Rey’s tech abilities they were able to keep her flying.
“How did it go?” Maz asked, ducking her head out the ship door
“Slim pickings. And Plutt was a bastard as usual.” Rey replied, heading up the walkway.
“They’re all bastards. I’m just glad you decided to run away with me so you’re not reliant on them anymore.”
Maz had found Rey on the scrap fields that had been left behind after the coup when she’d been looking for fresh parts for the Falcon. Rey had found some items Maz needed, and negotiated hard refusing to budge on the price. The poor, skinny child did not deserve to waste away in such a place, and so Maz had taken her under her wing. Now, Rey was running more of their schemes than she was.
“We’ll be going a little hungry tonight though,” Rey held out the meagre portions she’d been given. “Any rumours from the network?”
“The troopers are still cracking down on anyone known to be a smuggler or pirate. The Hondo ring has been caught. There’s more rumours of the Lost Prince again.” Maz rolled her eyes, “I don’t know why they’re keeping their hopes up. We have to accept that they’re gone. There are yet more rumours that His Royal Arsehole Anakin is looking for him and offering a grand reward for any news that leads to his recovery.”
Maz had been part of the royal court at one time, although not of aristocratic blood. When they had fallen, her grief had led her to curse the surviving King Anakin for the loss of her friends. It was irrational to hate King Anakin who had escaped by being off world, but loss is never rational . Ben Solo, the Lost Prince, was also rumoured to have survived, but Maz could not bear the pain of hope.
Rey hummed in response, dividing up their portions to make sure they ate that evening. Her mind had been pondering the mystery of the Lost Prince ever since word had filtered through about the reward. The number of credits that the king was offering would be enough to see them through for a long time, maybe even enough to set up somewhere new and start up an honest business. It had to be better than constantly fearful of being found and trapped here on this hell hole.
Rey had been only eight years old when her parents were killed, and they had never been rich anyway. All she knew was scraping by, until Maz had rescued her two years after the revolution. And even then, they existed job to job, never making enough to finally stop.
“The money would be nice though.” Rey admitted to her, not wanting to scare the old creature off her scheme too soon. She had to take it slowly if she didn’t want Maz to balk at the idea.
“And how would we get it? I know your looks, girl. I basically raised you. What scheme are you planning now?” Maz joined Rey at the table, taking her share of the portions as she did.
“How many years has it been since the revolution?”
“And how old was the prince when this happened?” Rey continued
“About 12…” Maz still sounded skeptical
“And how many 12 year old boys look the same at 30 as they did then?”
Maz’s eyes narrowed. “You want us to find a look-alike?!”
“Yes! We can find someone who looks close enough, you can train them in all the things they need to know, and then we’ll smuggle them off the planet and take them to his royal arsehole and run away with the reward before anyone notices something was wrong!” Rey was becoming more animated as she always did when planning her next scheme.
“You don’t know Anakin, Rey. He won’t be easy to fool.”
“Whatever happens, at least we’ll be doing something! Not hiding out here in the old palace where anyone can find us.”
“That’s not fair. We are safer here than anywhere else. No one comes round here anymore. All I’ve tried to do is keep you safe through our schemes, and this one is too risky.”
“Ok, maybe slightly, but you must see it’s worth it? With that sort of money, you can rebuild your cantina, just like you always talked about! And I can get my own ship…”
“Stop, Rey. You’re getting caught up in the fairy tale.”
“Because I’m daring to dream?” she could feel the anger begin to form in her stomach
“I’ve seen too many dreams come to nothing. We dreamed of a Naboo that was strong and prosperous, where anyone could be whatever they wanted to be. We even managed to live it for a while, that’s where King Anakin came from, after all. But the dream was dashed. All dreams end.”
“No. I refuse to believe it.” Rey grabbed her food and ran to the rear gun port to eat alone, as she had done whenever she was upset for the last 16 years. Maz had to come around.
The next day, Rey decided to scavenge from the palace instead. There wasn’t much left these days; most of the old buildings had been gutted in the years immediately following the revolution, the Supreme Leader taking the items and selling them to fund his First Order. He had moved the capital, and demanded this city be abandoned, which is what made it a perfect hiding spot for her and Maz. No one came out here anymore.
While the obvious treasure had been taken, there were still some items around that Rey had an uncanny knack for finding. Whenever she did, the mania for the old days meant she could sell it for a great price. Her hope today was slightly different than usual, though. If her scheme was to work, she had to find something they could use as proof of their fake prince’s identity.
Rey wandered through the long corridors and cavernous rooms, up to the old private quarters. Maz had long ago shown her the old faster routes, but Rey always enjoyed taking her time and absorbing the lingering glimpses of the old world, a world where even she, the daughter of a couple of drunk nobodies, could have become something greater. Sure, the First Order promised that they were all equal now, but equally poor was more like it.
She finally came to the main private residential room, where the family would gather with their closest friends, according to Maz. Maz had never been invited to this room, but she said all members of the court knew where it was. There were a few chairs knocked to the ground haphazardly, and pieces of a broken old cabinet, but nothing more interesting than that. Rey had found a few old items of jewellery under a floorboard in this space a few years ago, and felt she had exhausted it, but she gave it one careful sweep of her eyes for anything suspicious just in case.
Reassured that she had cleared this room, Rey moved on to the corridors that branched away from the residential room. Taking a moment to consider, she headed for the prince’s room. If they needed something to prove their stooge was real, something from his rooms would be a good bet. His room was the furthest away, and one Rey didn’t roam too much. His rooms overlooked the waterfalls and had some of the best views, but his room was the only one in this place that still seemed to hold life. It was ridiculous, she told herself that all the time, but there was something about it. Summoning her courage to ignore whatever she normally felt, she ventured over the threshold.
The room looked the same way it had the last time she had been there three years ago. The bed frame was broken, stripped of the gold that once adorned it, mattress tossed to the side, sheets long ago taken to be sold. There was another chair, angled towards the wall where someone must have pushed it however long ago. There was still the rug on the floor, which must have been worn before it was given to the prince, as everyone other scavenger had left it before, as Rey would do again. No one would ever believe such a worn item had come from the palace.
Rey pulled back the rug this time, hoping for some loose floorboards to check, but they were all solid. It was always the most obvious place to check, but it had yielded good results in the past. Putting the rug back in its place, she stood and looked around. The bed frame, though now bare of its gold, still had the carvings in the wooden base. She noticed that one of the carvings looked slightly different to the others, and went in for a closer look. There, yes, it was a small join. She pressed and pulled at the carved bird, feeling for any give, but she was not successful. Rey slumped back on the floor, pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. From here, she looked up at the bed again, and noticed the worn canopy on the bed. At the corner, she could see something glinting. It was only noticeable from this angle, and it looked almost as if someone had missed part of the original decoration. As she stood, she lost sight of it for a moment, dragging the chair to the corner of the bed where she had seen it.
She tentatively place one foot on the chair, testing if it could hold her weight, and finding it seemed stable enough, she stood on the chair to look closer.
Even on the chair, she could barely reach the canopy, but she felt around as far as she could, and her hand brushed against something hard and metal. She grasped what she could and pulled, but the item was lighter than she expected, and she toppled off the chair backwards. She rolled as she fell, an instinct from years of fighting, but a pain bloomed in her leg. Sitting up, she saw she held a small blade, decorated with the Naberrie/Skywalker shield on the hilt, but the blade had cut her thigh. Blood was already welling, and it was a long walk back to the hangar, so Rey ripped part of her sleeve the hem off her shirt to wrap around and stem the bleeding.
Patched up, Rey allowed herself to smile. This dagger was a better find than anything she could have hoped for. Clearly it had belonged to the family, and the prince must have thrown it up above his bed at some point, whether to hide it in the chaos of the palace raids or for some other reason she would likely never know, but Anakin would have to believe them now. Maz had to see that.
Maz did not see that.
“It is possible he’d believe us, but you don’t understand how hard it will be to pass someone else off as Ben.” She started, “he was a special boy, but very troubled. Trying to find someone who could pull it off…”
“But that’s where you’re so vital! You know all those things. You can teach them. Anything that seems off can be blamed on 18 years of hiding!”
Maz made that sound that Rey knew she was considering the plan but not fully committed yet. It was progress.
“Please, Maz. Let’s just try and find someone. If there’s no one you think can do it, we don’t do it. Can you get a message out to our contacts that we’re looking for a new partner? Needs to be about 30 years old, male, human? Ideally with dark hair and eyes? To report to us in our place in the city in three days time?”
Maz looked at Rey for a few moments, seeing the hope and excitement in her eyes.
“Ok. You win. We’re doing this.” Rey tackled her with a hug. “But ONLY if we can find the right man.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Rey rambled “You won’t regret it.”
“I guess it’s time I dug out all my old data pads on the family and from your training. If we’re going to pull this off, we’re going to need all the help we can get.”
Kylo wandered the streets of Gradsnoke, hand curling and uncurling in frustration. His anger had once again landed him with no job, and no roof over his head. He had been working in one of the last junk shops that would take him, having worked in most of the ones in the city for the past few years. He was good with his hands, and though he had been found wandering the city woods after the revolution with no idea of his identity, one day he had put a holopad back together he found laying on the street and been recruited into his first shop. Here, he discovered he had an uncanny knack for putting broken things back together, especially ships and vehicles. He gained a reputation for being quick and dedicated to his work, but that wasn’t the only thing he was known for. However good a job he got and however hard he worked, his temper would inevitably rise to the surface, either thanks to a disgruntled customer who questioned his ability to fix their items, or his boss giving him unfair wages, or for any other number of silly, little reasons, and he would be out on his ass. There were plenty of people willing to put up with poor pay and conditions, he could always be replaced. He knew this, and yet he could not get a handle on it still.
This blow up had been bad. His reputation for fixing things would not help him now. Not after blowing up in front of General Hux Jnr , son of the famous General Hux who had killed the Naberiee-Skywalker family in front of Supreme Leader Snoke himself. Once they had turned down his offer of friendship into a betrayal and tried to kill him instead, General Hux had been so quick to turn and save the Supreme Leader, and destroy the last of the family that had kept the people of Naboo under their iron grip for so many years (at least, that’s what all the propaganda said).
General Hux Jnr had come down to Phasma’s workshop knowing it housed the best engineer in the city to have his hover bike repaired. Kylo had been assigned the job, and he had taken it on, but Hux had made some major modifications that were the cause of all the issues he was having. Despite Kylo’s loving attention to the beautiful machine, removing the mods and restoring it to its original beauty leaving it running better than it ever would with the mods, Hux was not impressed. He had refused to pay, so Phasma would not pay him, and he lost it.
He raged at Hux to his face, smashing everything he could get his hands on in the process, and yelling about how he had ruined a perfectly good bike and that such behaviour should be a court martial offence. Hux had merely let him rage, then turned to Phasma and demand he be fired. Just like that, he was out on the street.
He had also been living above the shop, and so now he was homeless and jobless. He could still feel the anger pulsing through his veins. There was no one else he could go to now. Phasma had been the only one willing to put up with him, and now he had ruined it all.
The junk district was near the scrap yards, and Kylo started to consider stepping down to the lowest job he could ever imagine taking on, scavenger. They wandered the trash dumps of the rest of society looking for parts to sell to the junk traders, for portions, not even credits. But with no other options, it looked like the time had come to swallow his pride. All he could hope for was some way to escape this planet and set up in a new place where no one knew of his temper.
Lurking by the side of a dilapidated house, he rested his large frame on an old wooden box near the window.
“That’s what I heard. They need someone to help them with their latest scheme. Around 30 years old, male, human. I don’t know what they’re up to, but they always work alone.” A male voice said.
“Their schemes are risky. I hope it’s worth it. The crackdown is still going on.” A second voice responded.
“I think that’s why they’re doing it. One last ditch attempt to get off this place.” The first voice added.
Kylo knew roughly about the new problems facing the planet. The Supreme Leader wanted them all to stand on their own in the galaxy, their strength alone keeping the planet turning. As such, the military were preventing all ships from leaving, apart from official, sanctioned ships. So many had been trapped on the planet, the orders coming in over night, but there were still smugglers and pirates willing to take risks to make huge profits, or so he had heard. But because of the risks involved, he knew it was hard to find a berth in one of the crews, normally you needed to know someone to even be considered. This could be his chance to get away. A crew needed a new member, and it seemed they were having trouble finding them. If he could learn more details, introduce himself, maybe he had a chance of getting out of here.
He decided to stay and try to learn whatever else he could, but the voices had moved on to another conversation about the going rate for hyperfuel. Sighing, he stood to look for an abandoned building to rest for the night, when a small slip of a girl came barreling into him. The sound of sirens blaring behind her.
“Oooph, sorry!” she said, moving to run past him, before turning back and eyeing him up, a long staff in her hand and a bag over her shoulder. “Although, actually…”
The girl threw the staff against the wall and grabbed him by his shoulder, surprisingly strong for her size, turned so her back was against the building, and kissed him. He was so shocked by this turn of events, that she was able to pull him closer into a small alcove in the side, and the sirens blared away and past them.
Pushing him away, she checked both ways up and down the alley, and let go of him.
“What was that?” he asked.
“My disguise. Sorry to drag you into that, but you were big enough to shield me from their gaze.” The girl, woman he supposed, now he took a closer look, replied, picking her staff and bag back up from where they had been dropped. Kylo noticed her bag was full of old pieces of machines and droids, just bits of junk. She was a scavenger, then.
“Um, well, I’m glad I could help?” the still bemused Kylo commented.
“Ok. Bye then!” and she started walking back the way she had come, her three buns bouncing on the back of her head as she went. Kylo wandered after her, wondering if she might know more about this crew needing help. Everyone in this part of town knew everyone else, and scavenger’s were often looking for a way out of their lives.
“Actually, could I get a return on that favour?” He called.
The woman turned and narrowed her eyes at him. “No one exchanges favours down here, mate.”
“I didn’t ask to be kissed. All I want is some information.”
“It’ll cost you,” she said, “depending on the type of information.”
“Can I just ask my question?!” Kylo’s anger was dangerously close to the surface again. He had managed to push it back down since leaving the shop and having space to breathe, but it was never too far away.
The woman leant against her staff, gesturing with her hand to go ahead.
“Do you know of any crew that is currently hiring?” He asked. Her eyes flashed with excitement for a moment before becoming neutral again.
“I might. Who’s asking?”
“My name is Kylo Ren. I need to get out of here.”
“Go to the old city, find the old blue building in the square. Come tomorrow, alone.” The woman turned on her heel, and disappeared down the alley. She may have been a scavenger, but she may just have given him his ticket out of this place.
Hopefully the next chapter will be out on Monday! Thank you for reading, and comments and kudos always appreciated :)
Chapter 3: One step at a time
Rey updates Maz
Kylo makes a journey
Thank you to the wonderful Tasha for your beta of this chapter! You are so good to us Puffs 🥰
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She had come too close to getting caught this time. Far too close. When she approached Plutt’s shop, he had been talking with some First Order lackeys, answering their questions about anyone he may know who was planning to leave the planet soon. He had not given her away (knowing he could hold it over her the next time she came to him with her scrap), but unfortunately one of the troopers had noticed her, probably recognised her description, and started after her. She felt very fortunate to have barrelled into the strange, large man that had provided her the perfect cover to avoid them. Running from law enforcement was possible, but tricky. Hiding and avoiding detection was a lot easier, given the lack of brain cells they seemed to breed into them.
Only after the sirens had faded, she was left staring at a very handsome face towering over her. What was worse, he was the perfect age and had a look perfect for the stooge in her plot. She had seen the portraits around the old palace and there was something about his face, even with the large scar across the right side, bisecting his eye, that reminded her of the Prince. She did not want to owe the man they took with them any more than necessary. Counting her losses, she headed off, but his desire for information gave her the perfect opportunity to get them back on an equal footing. He had looked so helpless, head bowed under a cap, a scarf wrapped tightly around his neck, and large coat over him, hands stuffed deep in his pockets.
Rey gave him the information he needed, and left. Leave him wondering. She may not know him, but their secondary safe house was disposable if he did turn out to be a spy. She hoped Maz would be pleased.
Their call for help had so far resulted in, well, nothing. Everyone who had shown up so far did not have the look or any of the character that Maz said the Lost Prince would have. This one was too short. That one had the wrong eye colour. This one is passable but does not give off the right attitude, and that is something she can’t teach.
How Maz could be so sure of what that was after 18 years, Rey did not know, but having heard her describe it after each failed applicant, she thought she recognised it in this Kylo Ren. He was the right size, built like a house. He had appeared thrown and confused by her actions, but underlying it she thought she sensed a charm or confidence that Maz felt the other applicants had lacked. Although, Rey thought, it didn’t matter what she thought; it mattered what Maz thought. Without her approval, they would be going nowhere.
Back at the hangar, Rey found Maz sorting through some of the old boxes, looking for any junk or parts they may have missed before. They would not be able to continue like this for much longer without giving up on getting off world completely.
“Did you get anything good today?” Maz asked hopefully.
“The troops were patrolling the junk shops. I was almost caught. Barely got out of there.”
Maz harrumphed, “so now you want me, on my old legs, to go back there and sell it instead?”
“We’ll be ok with what we’ve got. And I may have found our Prince.”
Maz turned her glasses to their largest magnification.
“Have you now? I thought we’d given up on that scheme of yours.”
“I ran into someone. Literally. He seemed the right age and build. Let’s just meet him tomorrow and explain? He’d already heard about the scheme so someone must have told him. He just wants off the planet.” Rey explained.
“And how do we know he’s not a spy for the First Order, child?”
“I’ve sent him to our expendable safe house for tomorrow. We can watch for a while and see if anyone shows up with him. I’m not stupid, Maz. I’ve learned from that one time.” Rey said, recalling the time she had unwittingly brought law enforcement to their door.
“We will see. I still think we just need to lie low a little longer, then we can get off world when the heat dies down.” Maz replied.
“You’ll see what I mean. I really think he could help us pull this off.”
Digging through their old things, Rey managed to find a couple of portions they had stowed for a rainy day. Picking them up, she took them to their small kitchen to get them ready, hoping this would be one of the last they needed to eat.
The next morning, they packed up some things and headed to Maz’s old house on the square. It was a good safe house, but she knew it was expendable if the time came. It was easy enough for contacts to find, but just as run down and abandoned as the rest of the old city to the First Order guards whenever they did their random sweeps to ensure it remained that way.
Without a time to arrive, Rey and Maz left the old palace early, just as the sun was rising. They slipped into the sewer system, the best, private way for getting around, and they had not been used for a long time for their original purpose.
Coming up on the far side of the square from the safe house, Rey and Maz climbed the side of their lookout.
Whether Kylo arrived by hover bike or walking could reveal more about his background. She doubted he had access to a hover bike given how she had seen him the previous day. But you could never be too careful with people you didn’t know, even if they had been recommended to you by another crew. Kylo wasn’t recommended. She had just found him. So the extra caution was justified. She perched on the corner of the roof, and watched the main road for movement.
After the woman had left him, Kylo needed to figure out how to get to the old city. It made sense that people who were trying to hide away from the First Order would not want to live in their main headquarters. But the old city was a long way away from Gradsnoke by foot. He had no money left, having been thrown out on his ass with Phasma declaring she would keep it all for the damages done to her property, and no means to get around. Picking up his small bag containing the only possessions he had managed to get away from the store, he thought if he had a day to get there, he might as well start now.
Kylo had not been back to the old city since the First Order had evacuated it a couple of months after taking power. He had still been in the hospital, receiving treatment for injuries caused by the battles between the old guard and the liberating forces. That was where his memories began. According to the nurses, he’d been found in the woods behind the palace where the fighting was thickest, with a large cut across his face which now formed the ugly scar across his cheek and eye. They said he had been lucky he hadn’t lost his eye. He’d been so weak that a member of the First Order troopers had carried him back to the city, taking pity on the young man who had been so lost and weakened. All he could remember was waking up in the bed with the military nurses and doctors discussing his case and what to call him.
Now, it was time to go back. He headed towards the main road out of the city to go find a way off Naboo.
The road was long and straight. There were very few people heading out of the city at this time. Most of the scavengers were heading back in, and the rest of the vehicles belonged to the military. There was no need to travel beyond the city limits; Snoke ensured all his subjects were fed and housed enough to keep them productive, as long as you contributed to the city in some way. There was only enough to keep them going, so only those who served the Supreme Leader personally ever really had more than they needed. Kylo had done all he could to stay productive, and he would not stoop to the level of scavenger. They contributed by sorting through the scraps that others had left, so they got the most basic of sustenance.
Kylo continued past the crowds heading in for the night. A few looked up at him, and some troopers stared at him curiously. The guards on the gate stopped him.
“Why are you leaving the city?” one of them asked.
“I am going to visit my family. They run a farm, a few days walk south. They need an extra pair of hands to help with the harvest.” Kylo made up. In the early days after the revolution, he had longed for a family. Everyone else seemed to have one. Why his own had never come to find him, he did not know. He could only suppose that they had been killed in the woods behind the city in the same fight that had left him with the scar, but no one had ever mentioned finding other bodies near him. It was possible he had wandered off from where they had fallen, but so many people lost their lives in those early days he was hardly the only orphan. Over time, he had only grown angry that he was so alone - especially as he lost job after job, and had no one to support or help him - yet he knew it stemmed from the emptiness he felt a family would fill.
The guard seemed to accept his explanation, waving him through. A weight fell off his shoulders as he left the city for the first time since he had come here in the military convoy 18 years ago. He didn’t even realise he’d been carrying it, but it felt right to leave the perfectly built, ideally laid out city behind him. He’d had no reason to leave before, but now that he had, he wondered why he hadn’t gone before. He was free.
He was able to walk for a couple of hours before it started to get dark. He moved off the road, which had become more and more potholed and empty the further he traveled, and into the trees by the side looking for somewhere to rest for the night. He could see an old trail, and headed down it hoping it would lead him somewhere. Paths didn’t lead to nowhere, surely. After ten minutes, he came upon an old house. It was missing its roof, but he was sure it would protect him from the wind and give him something secure to rest against. He was often plagued by nightmares, and he needed to know nothing could sneak up on him as he rested. At least then when he awoke, he would know he was safe almost immediately.
He laid his bag down with his change of clothes and went to gather some dry wood to make a fire to keep him warm. He kept his eyes peeled for anything he could eat, but he was unsure of the fungi and berries he came across. He did want to wake up the next morning, after all. It was only the planet he wanted to be rid of, not his life.
Between his nightmares and the cold, hard ground, Kylo did not get much sleep. The sun rose early out of the city, or it seemed that way, and with no breakfast to make, he decided to continue on. He needed this crew to take him on if he was going to avoid a life as a scavenger just to make ends meet.
Kylo headed back to the road and continued on his way to the old city. The closer he got, the more drawn he felt to it. Maybe being back there would prompt his memories. Originally, the doctors said spending time amongst familiar surroundings could help, but with being moved on before he could leave the hospital, he had never bothered to try. He could get by, make a living, what did his memories matter?
Slowly, the trees began to fade and buildings began to appear again. The old city did not have walls like Gradsnoke did. The royals had not cared for their people, leaving them open to attack and invasion, he had heard in the regular broadcasts commemorating the supreme leader’s and first order’s glorious revolution. The buildings gradually grew in size and variety, and there was something in the air that seemed to resonate within Kylo as he saw the towers of the old palace looming over all, although he couldn’t say how or what it meant. He presumed it was simply what the doctors had said, about familiar places from before trying to make themselves known to him. Having been away from this place for so long, it was only natural, he was sure, to feel a connection to the old city.
He continued down the main road, hoping some instinct would kick in and help him find the square the woman had described. She had called it the main square, so surely the main road would run into it.
It was still early when he arrived at the square, and when he knocked on the door there was no response. He tried to open the door, and it swung wide with a creak.
“Hello?” he called, entering the building, “Is anyone here?”
There was no response, so he headed to the far corner of the hallway to wait, back to the wall. If this was some sort of set up, he wanted to be ready.
“He’s here. Alone. No vehicle, but he’s here a lot sooner than he should be.” Rey said, looking through her visor as Kylo marched down the main street.
“Let me see” Maz settled next to her, reaching for the device. She pushed her glasses up her head and brought the visor to her eyes.
“Hmm. I see what you mean. He could pass as the prince from this distance, at least appearance wise. Hair colour seems right. But his walk is off.”
“We’ve discussed the walk. That can be fixed.” Rey commented.
Maz put the visor down. “Very well. We see what he does in the next half hour. No sign of troops by then, we introduce ourselves.”
They climbed down the side of the building thirty minutes later when there had been no sign of troops or monitoring of Kylo himself, and ducked back into the old sewer system to cross the square. Popping up around the back of the house, they slowly entered through the rear door.
“Kylo” Rey called into the house, not seeing where he had gone after entering a half hour earlier. “We know you’re here.”
He stepped into the light, and she was struck by the large scar across his face.
“You.” He stared at her. “Why didn’t you just say it was you?”
Maz stepped around her.
“Let me through, girl. Let me see the man.”
Kylo stepped back into the shadows, keeping the wall against his back, as she looked him up and down. She squinted and stared, then looked back at Rey.
“I’ve got the job?” He asked in disbelief.
“Maybe. Depends if you still want it after we tell you more.” Rey replied.
“You could start by telling me your name.”
Rey laughed at him. “Not here. It’s not safe. Come on.”
They led him out of the house and back to the sewer.
“You want me to go in there?” Kylo asked. He needed these women to get him off the planet, but they weren’t filling him with confidence at the moment. He could understand they did not want to trust him immediately. But going through the sewers?
“Yes. They’ve not been used for years. You won’t mess up your pretty hair.” The girl replied with a hint of sarcasm.
“That’s not the problem.” He muttered, but the orange alien was already jumping through, and the girl was waiting for him. He clutched his bag close to him, secured his hat, and squeezed through the hole.
When he was through, the girl dropped down and replaced the cover.
“This way.” The alien said
“Where are we going?” He asked.
“You ask too many questions. Move!” The girl slapped his shoulder lightly. Kylo grumbled slightly, but turned his back to her and followed the small woman in front of him. He guessed his questions would have to wait.
They came out of the sewers into a dark cellar, but Maz and Rey kept him moving to the ballroom. They had discussed that when they found someone who had potential, they would bring him back here to divulge the plan. They knew it was secure, and as far as everyone else knew they were just looking for another crew mate. The more people who knew the plan, the greater the likelihood of failure, or it getting out to those who would be interested for all the wrong reasons.
Once in the ballroom, they led Kylo to the seats at the end to find out more about his past, and why he wanted to join them.
“I’m in some trouble with General Hux. I can’t get work anywhere now, except as a pathetic scavenger.” Rey tensed at his language but Maz touched her arm to calm her. “I heard someone mention you needed an extra crew member, then she came running into me. I asked, you invited me, I’m here. Can you help me or not?”
“We may be able to. But I still want to know more. What do you remember of the revolution?” Maz asked him.
“I don’t remember the main events. I was found after it all died down with this” he pointed at his scar. “No one claimed me. Not even the doctors gave me a name. It was only when the Supreme Leader visited the wounded and they couldn’t answer him that he named me Kylo Ren. He said it was after a lonely knight from stories he heard as a child. And that was it. I scraped my living in junk shops, it was the only thing I could really do. I should probably warn you, I have a temper. I lost it with General Hux, and I lost my last job. I don’t think he’ll chase me down, but the sooner I’m gone, the better.”
“And before the revolution?” Rey asked
“I don’t remember anything. I dream, sometimes, of voices raised behind closed doors, and a tall figure in a cape. But that’s it. They normally descend into nightmares, blaster shots and screams.” Kylo shook his head as if to banish the ideas from his head.
“You have no memories before then?” Maz asked curiously.
“No. How many more times will you ask?” He ground out between his teeth. He could not let his anger ruin this before he even got started with them.
“We just need to be sure. You could be exactly who we’re looking for.” Rey placed her hand on his arm, trying to disarm him. “We can introduce ourselves properly now. This is Maz, and I am Rey. And I think you could be the Lost Prince Ben Solo.”
Next chapter will drop Thursday or Friday.
Comments and kudos always appreciated!
Chapter 4: Chapter 4: Learn to do it
Kylo starts to learn about his past
Thank you all so much for reading so far and all your lovely comments. Enjoy chapter four!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“The Lost Prince who now?” Kylo asked.
“You must have heard the rumours. The only heir of the Naberrie-Skywalker line? Lost during the revolution?” Rey asked him. Maz merely sat on her chair, hands templed in front of her.
Kylo looked bemused. “But they were all killed. And why would I want to be one of them? They were terrible to the people!”
Maz slapped him.
“Ouch!” He exclaimed.
“You have heard too many lies. I agree that it is hard to believe anyone survived, but I’ve seen many people over my thousands of years of life and I knew the boy myself. You are the closest person to him I’ve ever met. The royals were the best people I have ever known and you will not talk about them that way, Ben Solo.” Maz had stood in front of him, seeming to tower above him despite her size, but she then pulled away and sat back down as quietly and serenely as she had moments before.
“My name is Kylo Ren.”
“You have the same brown eyes as the Naberrie’s. The same, strong nose of Han Solo. And with some training to smooth the edges, your walk could be Anakin himself,” Maz said, shrugging her shoulders as if there was nothing more to it.
“Kylo, look, I don’t know if you’re the Lost Prince or not. But there is someone who will know. His grandfather, Anakin Skywalker. He is looking for Ben, and we’re only risking leaving the planet if we find him. Like Maz says, you’re the closest we have and you have no memories, by your own admission, of the time you would have been the prince if you are him. The only way you’re getting off the planet with us is as the Prince. And if you’re not, the King will surely know and we can chalk it up to a mistake, and we’re all off the planet! What do you say?” Rey concluded.
Kylo was stunned. Him, a Prince? It did not make sense.
“It’s… it’s a lot to take on board. Can I think about it?” He asked
“You have one day,” Rey said. “The heat is building on Maz and I, and we need to go soon before word gets out. If you’re not decided by then… we leave without you. You’re free to stay in the palace. You can find us in the hangar when you make up your mind.” With those words, she stood and moved away, Maz going with her.
Kylo stay seated, staring at the grandeur of the room. Finally alone in the cavernous space, he felt almost cold as he looked around. It was old, dusty, but the shiver he felt down his back pricked at his mind. It was like trying to recall the rest of a song when just one line was stuck in your head. It was right there, a sense of his past, of something clicking into place, but it disappeared the longer he tried to grasp hold of it.
It must have been the conversation that unnerved him. He could not be the lost prince. It was too ludicrous. To get rid of the tension bubbling up in him, he could not stay in this room. It was too large. He stood up and decided to explore the palace. He needed to get off this rock, so surely he could see if something in this place triggered his ‘old memories’ to come back.
Even if it didn’t, he was starting to imagine the possibility that what Rey and Maz were suggesting could be true. He did not know how that would make him feel. After all, the royals were supposed to have terrorised the local populace, living lavish styles that the local people had paid for with punishing taxes. Did he really want to have come from such people? Would finding his family be worth that knowledge?
He had now wandered into what he suspected were the old private quarters of the palace. The rooms were smaller and cosier, and he felt a presence of comfort oozing from the walls. They were still bare and dusty, but he could almost imagine himself as a child, running through these rooms and down the corridors, chasing the man from his dreams in his long cloak and his heavy boots.
At the end of a forgotten hallway, he saw a painting still in its frame. It showed the old Queen and King, and he had never seen them before. All pictures of the family had been destroyed, or at least, a poor lonely orphan working away in the back of a junk shop never saw them. Their faces and shoulders filled the canvas, with the Queen slightly forward. The portrait must have been from their early days of ruling, as there were no signs of age on their faces. The Queen was wearing a white blouse, and her hair was pulled back into a simple ponytail. Her eyebrow was quirked in humour. The King, Anakin, was stood behind her and looked slightly younger. He was wearing the traditional brown robes of an assassina, which was how he had met Padme. He had been assigned to protect her, but renounced his vows, or so the legend went. This must have been painted during this time, which is maybe why it was down this old, narrow passageway and avoided the stripping the rest of the place had been through.
There was something in Queen Padme’s eyes he thought he had seen in his own at times, he supposed. Her face did seem familiar, but it was the man behind her he was drawn to more. He looked strong, but there seemed to be a pain within him that the artist had captured so vividly. It was a pain that Kylo seemed to feel in his very soul. He reached out a hand to touch the canvas, as if he could touch the man himself. When his fingers reached the canvas, though, all he felt was the rough paint left behind by the artist. He pulled his hand back as though he had been burned. This man was still alive, he remembered. He was looking for someone, had lost someone, as Kylo himself had. Could it be that they had lost the same people?
Those thoughts are what convinced Kylo to turn back and try to find the hangar. The women had not explained where to go, but he suspected it was another test. He headed away from the private residence and back into the main palace rooms. He remembered glancing the palace from the military transport as they had left the hospital, and there had been no hangar obvious from the palace square, so he headed for the back of the palace instead. The back of the palace was at the edge of the old city, which would give the ships space to come and go, or so he reasoned to himself, and he tried to head there, using the sun streaming in through the windows above as his guide.
With surprising ease, Kylo arrived at the hangar after only ten minutes of exploring. As he turned through the doors, he was greeted by the sight of a rusty, old Corellian freighter. His eyes lit up at the sight.
“You have one of these pieces of junk?” he said, but with the affection he felt for the old ships warming his harsh words.
“Careful now, boy! Only certain people are allowed to call this thing junk!” Maz warned, her finger pointing at his chest. She had appeared in front of him with no warning as he approached the vessel.
“I didn’t mean to offend,” Kylo replied, holding his hands up in defence.
Rey appeared from within the ship to see what all the commotion was about. “Don’t mind Maz, she won’t even let me call it junk. Though it decidedly is.”
Maz turned her finger towards her instead, “And it’s going to stay that way with that attitude, young lady.” And Maz disappeared up the ramp as Rey shook her head and came to stand next to Kylo, pulling the goggles from her eyes and over her head.
“Have you made a decision?” She had stopped a few feet in front of him, placing her arms across her stomach, one hip pushed to the side.
“I have. If you think it’s possible I’m this ‘lost prince’, then I certainly can’t say for certain I’m not. I’m sure the King will surely know. And you’ll get me to Coruscant and it’s all just an honest mistake.”
“So you’ll do it?” Rey held out her hand.
“I will.” Kylo grasped it and shook, but her grip was strong. “Ouch!”
“Big baby” she laughed. “Grab your things and come up into the falcon. We need to start planning.”
“How do you become the person you’ve forgotten you ever were?” Kylo asked as they sat down at the table in the freighter he had been told was called the Millenium Falcon.
“Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and remember another time. Another world,” Maz said.
Kylo burst out laughing, and Rey along with him.
“Really Maz?! That is how you’re going to help him remember?” She managed to get out as Rey took breaths to calm herself from the old alien’s comments.
“It will. He needs to embody everything that Ben Solo was. By picturing it as I describe it may help unlock some of that within him.”
Kylo looked at Maz skeptically, still not quite buying the yarn she was trying to spin him.
“Kylo, if you’re serious about this, you do it my way or you’re on your own.”
Rey had calmed down, and gave him a look that he was starting to interpret as ‘whatever you think of her, you need to listen.’
“We can try it, then. Work your magic.” Kylo sat back on the seat, stretching his legs out in front of him and closing his eyes. “I’m imagining another world now.”
“You were born in a palace by the sea. The sun was rising, and your mother struggled to bring you forth. The doctors said she could have lost her life, and that it was too risky for her to have anymore children. There were celebrations for days that she had managed to produce an heir, especially after her brother, your uncle, renounced the throne to join the monk assassins. Everyone was invited to the parties, and all, young and old, rich and poor, came together.”
Kylo opened his eyes at this point, “But I’ve always heard the royals parties were only for themselves and excluded everyone else.”
“You don’t really believe all that First Order nonsense they’ve put out over the years?” Rey replied. Kylo opened his mouth to respond with a scathing comment about growing up alone and frightened because you couldn’t even remember your damn name when Maz grabbed a nearby spanner and banged it on the table between them.
“Hush now, children. Don’t interrupt. Ben, please go back to remembering.”
“My name is not Ben.”
“It is while you’re on my ship!”
Grumbling to himself, he resumed his quiet posture as Maz’s voice took on a deep, resonant quality that made Kylo feel the words rather than hear them.
“You were a quiet child, always awkward in crowds and clinging to your mother and father. They could not give you the time you wanted or needed, and you were often left to your own devices or with the tutors. When you could manage to sneak away, you ran down here, to the hangar. You started building your first droid at age 3. It didn’t turn out especially well; but to create something at that age was extraordinary, something only Anakin himself had done before.
“When your grandfather saw what you had done, he took you under his wing. You followed that man everywhere, and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for you. He too had been a bit of an odd addition to the family, as your father had been as well. But were your father galavanted around the galaxy building a great trade network, Anakin did his best to adapt. He wanted to help you feel a part of this world too.
“You threw tantrums, and terrorised the palace staff. It felt like the whole palace was shaking when you really got going.”
“He sounds like a charming child,” Rey whispered.
“Shush. He needs to imagine.”
“This really isn’t helping,” Kylo added, cracking one of his eyes open.
“But what do these words and images bring up in you?” Maz asked.
“They feel like a story you are telling. Because that’s all they are.” He stood up to find somewhere to try and process everything he’d been told so far, but then realised he did not know where he could go. He looked blankly between them.
“If you want some space, there isn’t much on this ship. There are some old quarters off the second corridor on the left you can take a break in.” Rey said, knowing how intense Maz could be.
Kylo went to make a move but Maz started to speak again.
“These aren’t just stories. These things really happened. I know, because I was there. I wasn’t royalty, or born high class. I stumbled onto this planet after I lost my cantina on a planet far from here. I ran that place for hundreds of years. Han, your father, found me wandering with nothing to do and brought me back here. I learned to be a part of their world. If I can learn to do it, you can learn to do it. You have to try, because if you really are the lost prince, you belong with your grandfather.”
Kylo walked away anyway. Rey went to go after him, but Maz placed a hand on her shoulder and shook her head. The plan would only work with him taking part willingly, they both knew that, but she hated to see him hurting.
Kylo found the old quarters for the hangar staff easily enough, and after trying a couple of rooms found one that still had a somewhat usable bed and mattress. He threw himself down, and ran his fingers through his hair, screaming into the void.
This wasn’t what he had come here for. He just wanted to get off planet. Now, they were making him picture things and telling crazy stories that went against everything he had heard about the royals from the First Order.
And he had lied to Maz when he said it was just a story. Because the words meant something to him. When she had described the droid and the King, his heart warmed, but when Han was mentioned, his chest became tight. The two emotions were warring within him making him feel like he was being torn apart.
How was he supposed to continue on this journey? How could he let his hopes build? Could he find the courage to explore his past? He did not want to turn back now that he was here. He had never had many choices to make in his past; turn up to work and eat, don’t turn up and starve. Now there were two stark realities in front of him that he had to choose from, and both filled him with fear. He could stay here, go back to Gradsnoke and try and make a living, find someone new to hire him, then get fired the moment another idiot like Hux walked in and he lost his temper with them. Or he could really follow this path wherever it may go. Explore his past, so he could find his future.
His heart had stopped beating as wildly now, and he silently asked the universe to give him a sign, a hint, anything , to help him with this decision. As he waited, staring at the still blank ceiling, he heard a small buzzing and whirring from the corner of the room. He sat up on the bed and could see a small round white and orange shape behind a table where the sound was emanating from. Getting up, he wandered over to see a small round BB droid that had been left and forgotten about. It appeared to have have gone into power saving mode, but his presence in the room must have triggered its reboot sequence.
“Hey there, little one,” Kylo coaxed, moving the boxes that had been hiding it from the view of the door. “Are you gonna come out and play?”
He waited while the unit continued to beep and whir as it ran through its start up sequence, before spinning its viewer eye onto him. The droid rolled out and beeped at him, moving its head piece back and forward over him.
“BB-8, huh? No, I don’t know where your owner is - hey!” the droid had rolled away quickly, rushing out the room clearly trying to find his long dead owner.
Kylo ran after the droid, but it kept going, checking in all of the rooms before dashing into the hanger.
Rey had left the Falcon and was gathering some items of scrap together, and the droid froze looking at her. Kylo skidded up behind the wild creature and pounced on top of it. BB-8 did not like this, and immediately tried to get away, but Kylo’s grip was too strong. The unit beeped angrily, and Rey grabbed her staff to hit him on the head (gently, of course).
“Let go,” she said.
“But it’s confused. I found it in the old quarters, clearly forgotten about, and now it hasn’t realised how long it’s been and that its owner was probably killed. I’m trying to help!”
“By traumatising it and holding it hostage?!” Rey exclaimed.
Kylo reluctantly let go and BB-8 immediately headed to the side of Rey, beeping their thanks.
“Did the mean, old man hurt you?” She asked as she bent down. “Look, your antenna is all bent.”
“Gods give me strength,” Kylo rolled his eyes.
“There, all better. You can ignore the big, ol’ meany,” Rey concluded. BB-8 beeped rudely at Kylo.
“Hey, I’m the reason you turned back on and are back out here,” Kylo huffed back. BB-8 rolled away, continuing to look around the hanger.
“Are you feeling a bit better now?” Rey asked him, as he brushed some of his hair out of his eyes that had gotten in the way as he wrestled with the droid.
“It’s all so overwhelming. I came here looking for a way off this rock. Then to try and remember who I was because you think I’m the lost prince?” Kylo struggled to find the words.
“We’ll take it one step at a time.” She reached her hand out and took his, rubbing it gently. He looked up at her, and then the junk on the table. He opened his mouth to start asking what she was doing, when a loud banging drew their attention towards the Falcon, followed by a loud shout of, “BB-8?!”
They turned and ran back inside to check everything was ok, to see tiny Maz wrapped around the droid with tears in her eyes as the droid beeped merrily away. There were boxes strewn around them.
“Er, Maz... are you ok?” Rey asked.
“My child, this droid! It belonged to a young man called Poe who was training to be a pilot in the royal space force. Where did it come from?” She reluctantly let go of BB-8 and reached a hand to Rey for her help to stand.
“I found it,” Kylo said. “In the old quarters. Hidden behind some boxes in low power mode.”
“That does sound like Poe. You know him Rey, don’t you?”
“Oh that idiot who always introduces himself to me? Yeah. He runs some of our shipments to Crait now, doesn’t he?”
Maz nodded. “He probably always intended to come back for you, BB. But things have changed. We’ll get you back to him, don’t worry,” she said affectionately.
Kylo coughed. “What about me?”
“You young ones. Never any patience.” Maz grumbled, and merely began to pull the boxes back into some sort of order. Rey smiled and walked back out to her table, and Kylo went with her.
When she reached the table, he remembered to ask her about the junk.
“What’s all this for then?” He asked.
“We need to eat. I was going to run it to a contact in Gradsnoke who’ll get me the portions for us to stay here for a few more days, and find out when there may be a break we can use to sneak off the planet,” she explained.
“You’re a scavenger?” He asked, his eyes widening at the thought.
“Yeah. I know you seem to have a problem with them, but it’s the only way some of us can get by.” She pulled all the junk together in her bag and slung it over her shoulder, picking up her staff again and heading to the hover bike that Kylo was only now noticing in the corner.
“Can I come with you?” The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. He had asked for a sign, and BB-8 had led him right to Rey. He wasn’t an idiot. He was going to stick with her.
Rey turned and stared. “You don’t mind being a scavenger for a day?”
“Please. I misspoke earlier.” He hadn’t meant to upset her, and his issue was more with himself having to survive that way than actual dislike for those who did manage that way.
“I’m driving,” she responded, leaving Kylo to follow behind her and into the city.
I'm waiting on my beta to be done with chapter 5, but hopefully that will come out on Monday :)
Chapter 5: A Scavenger's Tale
Rey and Kylo head into the city and he learns more about her past.
Kylo learns to walk like a Prince
I’m not feeling great tonight and have a pounding headache, so sorry there is no moodboard. I hope to come back and add one when I’m feeling a little better.
Thanks to the wonderful ksco for beta’ing this chapter on very short notice and turning it around so quickly. I love you
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When they approached the outskirts of the city, Rey turned off the main road and took the bike around the outer wall. She was headed for a small gate where she could sneak in without being bothered by the guards, since they only patrolled the area a few times a day. After her last close call, she had sent a message to her contact, a member of the First Order troopers who did not like how things were done but had no way out. He had always tried to help Rey and Maz out when he could, and had agreed to sort her fresh portions given the heat that they were under.
Once through the gate, Rey zipped down some back streets until they came to one of the most neglected of the barracks. FN2187 was already waiting by the back gate. Maz and Rey had almost taken him under their wing, but he could not leave the First Order. Their grip on him was too strong.There was no point in exchanging names until they could get him out. This way, if he was found out, there was no way he could divulge their names to the interrogators.
“R, Who’s that?” FN2187 asked, raising his blaster at the strange, large man sat behind Rey.
“A friend. He’s part of our crew now,” she said straightforwardly.
Kylo’s lips quirked to be referred to as such. He had never been anyone’s friend before now. FN2187 lowered his blaster slowly, cautiously, as though unsure of whether to believe her or not.
“What do you have for me to trade for you?” he asked
Rey handed him her bag, which he accepted and began to check out.
“Yeah, this is some good stuff. I’ll take it to one of the official exchange booths. That should get me a little more, especially if you’ve got this giant to feed now as well.” The trooper turned abruptly to leave them. Rey would hole up in one of the safe houses for a couple of hours, and then come back for their portions. It was risky for a trooper to exchange junk too regularly, and they only asked it of FN2187 when their need was great. Questions would be asked if he exchanged too much, or items that he would not normally come across in his daily work.
“FN,” Rey called as he was almost around the corner. “You know we need to get off the planet. The heat has really been building on us. Do you know when we might be able to make a break for it?”
“Not right now. I’ll ask around, but I’m not sure. The heat has been strong on me as well. I might need to get off too.”
“Fine. Let me know if you hear anything. You know where we are if you need us.”
The trooper nodded and walked off with the bag.
“Ok Kylo, let’s go” She jumped back on the bike and headed back to their safe house.
The safe house was hidden in the walls of the new city, and Rey seized the opportunity to begin to go through movements with her staff. She had learned how to defend herself as a young girl, and was not about to let herself slack off in her training just because it looked like her smuggling and scavenging days were over. Kylo stood against the wall and watched her go through her forms. His large, fathomless eyes stared at her, and Rey tried not to focus on him, but rather on where she was placing her staff, arms, and legs as she went through each position.
Kylo was intrigued. He had never learned to defend himself properly. His size normally scared anyone off from trying anything. They expected him to be more prepared than he was with the way that he threw things around the workshop. The truth was that he had just worked out a lot to get rid of the ever present anger bubbling beneath the surface. It never truly went away.
“Where did you learn to do that?” He asked quietly as she finished off a movement.
“I grew up in the gutters and the streets of the old city, and after the revolution I moved onto the same here. My parents struggled to make ends meet so, even though I was just a kid, I roamed and looked after myself. It was worse after the revolution and my parents were killed in one of the battles. All there was for an eight year old to do was to scavenge- I bartered for my blanket, stole for my bread. You learn to take your chances or, well, get taken by the First Order and never seen again. I was lucky that Maz found me when she did and took me under her wing.”
“That must have been hard, losing your parents and being forced to move and scrape a living at such a young age,” Kylo said.
“It was hard work, but I’m still here,” Rey replied. “Why do you hate scavengers so much?”
“I don’t. Not really. I’m sorry it comes across that way. I just want to be more than that in my own life. I can’t picture myself doing so much work for such little reward.” Kylo shrugged, his oversized coat bouncing on his shoulders.
“But some people don’t have anything else that they can do! How did you plan on making a living when I found you? You seemed pretty down on your luck.” Rey threw back at him. “You likely would have become a scavenger yourself.”
“I’d have managed,” he said, “I’d have found something, anything, else to do. I started that way, with nothing, but I managed to show my skills and get a job.”
“Well, that clearly didn’t last, given where I found you. And I can see why, with an attitude like that.” Rey huffed and turned up the stairs, disappearing as she headed to the top of the building. Once upstairs, she climbed out a window and shimmied up the city wall. Being up here and looking out over the city had always helped clear her head. The wide open space and clean air filled her with a deep sense of peace. They still had a half an hour, at least, until FN2187 came back. She sat on the wall and pulled her knees up to herself, wrapping her arms around them. Maybe this was all a stupid idea. Maybe she should have just left Kylo, with his quirky hat and cute scarf wrapped around his neck, in the street. But it was just not in her nature to leave lost and lonely things behind. If Maz had done that with her, she would never have found more to her life. Yes, she was sensitive about scavenging, and, if Kylo really was Ben Solo, it was likely that he had never had to experience that in his life. She should let him off, it was probably a lot to take on.
She heard footsteps on the stairs, and Kylo calling out to her.
“Rey? How’d you get up there?” he asked when she poked her heard over the edge.
“I pulled myself up. I’m sure you can manage it,” she commented dryly, leaving him to figure it out for himself.
Kylo reached up, and, as Rey suspected, his hands easily reached the ledge. He pulled, and she watched his muscles bulge as they hoisted himself up onto the ledge. She shuffled further to the side as he arranged his long limbs to sit next to her.
“Gods, this is quite a view,” he cursed, looking out at the sprawling city before them. Rey found herself enjoying the golden glow of the setting sun on his face. It caught the moles and his scar in a way that highlighted the unique beauty in his face.
“It is,” she agreed, before she realised she was describing him rather than the city. Kylo didn’t seem to notice though, as he took in this new view of the city.
The last rays of the sun disappeared over the horizon as they sat in mutual silence.
“I’m sorry,” Kylo said, quietly. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“You may not have meant to, but you did,” She said softly. “Just because we think you’re royalty doesn’t mean you can stomp over other people’s feelings.”
Kylo had no response to that. There had never been any need to worry about maintaining relationships with people before. There had always been somewhere else to go, someone else who would hire him. No one ever wanted to spend time with him unless they had too.
“It’s time to go back,” Rey said, eager to find Maz and discover if they could leave soon. She swung herself down the side and into the window in one fluid motion. Kylo awkwardly followed her, and they headed back to the barracks.
FN2187 was waiting for them with their bag.
“Here you go. There should be enough there for a week or so,” he said.
“Thanks, FN. Did you hear anything about the planet patrols?” She asked.
The trooper nodded. “Yes, there’s going to be a break in the patrols for an announcement that the Supreme Leader is making to the entire planet tomorrow, mid morning. Everything will stop to allow everyone to watch it. Even the patrols.”
“Thank you. For everything. You know we’re not planning on coming back this time, right? If you want out, you’re going to need to be there at the hanger.”
“I’ll think about it,” he replied.
“Don’t take too long.” Rey said. She pulled her goggles down onto her face and sped off out of the city with Kylo.
Unbeknownst to them, another trooper saw them go. He turned around, and ran to pass on the information.
Back in the hanger, Rey divided up the portions to take with them. Only a couple of hours remained until they would leave. Maz appeared at the top of the Falcon’s ramp.
“About time you two got back. How did FN get on?” Maz asked
“Good. We’ll manage for the next few days. Enough to get us to the next system anyway.” Rey replies.
“Great. Now, Kylo, remove your coat. You need to learn to walk.”
“What’s wrong with my walk?” He asked grumpily.
“It has potential, but there is room for improvement. It should look effortless and easy.” Maz held her hand out. “Coat. Now.”
Kylo was starting to realise just how far resisting Maz would get him. Exactly nowhere. He reluctantly shrugged out of his long coat and handed it over.
“Now,” she began, walking around him, pausing at his back. “Shoulders back, and stand up tall.”
Kylo tried to correct his posture as Maz’s hands pushed at the middle of his shoulder blades. He wasn’t quite sure how she had reached so far up his back until he heard the peel of laughter from Rey at his shock.
“What are you doing?” He exclaimed, spinning around and losing the correct posture immediately.
“Kylo, turn around and let us work.” Rey ordered before lowering Maz back down to the ground.
“Remember what that just felt like,” Maz said as he turned away from them again, straightening up and pulling his shoulders back from his normal, hunched position.
“Now walk,” Maz instructed. He took a few steps forward, trying to remain upright and poised instead of reverting to his normal walk, where he tried to make himself smaller.
“No, not like that. You’re all stiff!” Maz screeched at him. “You’re thinking too much. Do not walk. Try to float.”
Rey tried to help, and drew herself up as Maz had taught her as a young girl, and walked smoothly across the hanger with BB-8 rolling by her side. Kylo could only stare. When she had gone about 50 metres, she turned and walked back to them “See? If I could learn to do it, you can learn to do it.”
Kylo let out a deep breath, and he reset his posture. He straightened his back, pulled his shoulders backwards, closed his eyes to remove the pressure of their expectant gazes, and then tried to float as gracefully as possible across the room.
“Am I floating?” He asked after a few steps.
“Like a sinking boat,” Rey muttered under her breath. His eyes snapped open and he growled.
“Don’t let her discourage you, Ben. You were getting there. Now, go again. Rey, go get the Falcon ready.”
Rey stuck her tongue out at them, but disappeared obediently into the Falcon to get it ready. Maz turned back to Kylo.
“Floating may not be the best metaphor for you. I trained Rey to float because it made sense in her head.”
“Maz, why did you train her in all this?” Kylo couldn’t help but ask.
“In our line of work, you never know where you might need to slip in and make yourself invisible. She needed to know how to slip in amongst the elite. But stop delaying. When you walk, remember that you are the most important person. You belong in this space, and your walk should reflect that. Where do you feel like that? Where do you belong?”
“I, I don’t know,” Kylo’s voice cracked.
“Alright then, where do you feel most comfortable?”
Kylo shrugged. “The only thing I have ever been good at was fixing droids or engines. Whenever I’m working on that, I kind of zone out and just work for hours. It’s what helped me keep jobs even when I let my anger show”
“I want you to take that feeling and channel it into your walk.” Maz waved her hands to get him to start moving again.
Kylo took a deep breath and thought of how we would have fixed Hux’s bike if he’d been able to. In his mind he saw the complex engine, the various issues that he would be forced to think through until they untangled themselves, and how his hands would fiddle with the intricate parts to get it to hum back to life.
With this in mind, he straightened his posture, and walked.
It was only when he reached the table that he heard Maz clapping her hands slowly.
“Much better” she said. “If you continue to practice your walk, you will be ready to present before Anakin in no time.”
Comments and kudos always appreciated.
Next chapter should be out on Friday, and we get to meet General Hux and Supreme Leader Snoke!
Chapter 6: A Revolution is a Simple Thing
We meet Armitage Hux
Maz, Rey and Kylo have a surprise visitor
How're we all feeling? At least we have fanfic, right?
Here's chapter six. I hope you enjoy it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Armitage Hux was having the worst day of his life. His hover bike had broken down, again, and he had been summoned to the Residence for an urgent meeting with Snoke. Now, instead of hurrying over quickly, he had to order a military transport to come collect him, and wait for the clunky vehicle to arrive to ferry him along. All this was taking more time than he could afford to miss. He just knew he would be berated for tardiness when he finally got to the meeting.
He blamed that useless Kylo Ren for landing him in this situation. If he had just fixed his bike instead of completely stripping it back and telling him that it was the modifications that were the issue (which Hux knew all worked perfectly fine , as he had completed them himself), then things could have progressed as normal. Instead, he had had to rebuild his entire bike including all the modifications when he had got it back, and now it wasn’t even working properly. Someone had to pay, and he was glad he had gotten the man fired, however good he supposedly was. No one ruined his bike then spoke to him that way. If only he’d had the opportunity to take him away and administer some discipline as he used to when he was a lieutenant. Any substandard troopers had fallen into line quickly, as his reputation had spread. If Ren had any idea of just who he was… but maybe not. There were always those who pushed the boundaries, tried to step outside the mold. There was only one thing people like Ren understood - pain and discipline. They would not change otherwise.
The military transport arrived and Hux was shown into the back, with a salute befitting his station. It sped off down the Main Street to the government sector of the city. He remembered the first time he had been brought here, holding his nanny’s hand, two feet behind his step-mother who was reluctant to bring the “son of a whore” to witness his father’s acceptance of the Supreme Leader Star - the highest award an officer of the First Order could receive. His father had killed the royal family when they had been about to kill the Supreme Leader, thereby saving his life. Snoke had ruled in their stead since, and Hux had decided to follow in his father’s footsteps after Hux Senior had been killed by rebels just before his eighteenth birthday.
Hux smoothed his uniform as he got out the transport and headed into the Supreme Residence, the guards standing straighter as he passed. Some would say he had worked so hard to make his father proud, but the truth was that he wanted to go further. He wanted to outdo him. He no longer wanted to be nicknamed Hux Jnr, but be the only Hux anyone would remember.
It had not been an easy road; working for the Supreme Leader came at a great cost. Snoke had taken a personal interest in his progression, given his family history, and had pushed Hux almost as much as he pushed himself. When he failed, he was punished harshly but justly for his mistake.
Hux arrived at the large, gold door that separated the inner sanctum from the rest of the building. He stood and waited until the guards inside would open them for him. Snoke would have him enter as soon as he was ready, not before. There was no point in knocking; it would only cause him to be left waiting even longer. Hux remembered clearly the first, and only, time he had ignored the directive. He was still a captain, and had been summoned to report on how the latest trooper recruits conditioning was going. Eager to announce how well the changes he had made to the programme were going, he had hurried inside. He was the son of the famous general, after all, surely that gave him the access he required? But no, it did not. He had been severely punished for his lack of reverence and compliance, and had been unable to return to his duties for weeks. His ankle still twinged when the weather was particularly bad.
With these memories in his mind, Hux remained at attention for an hour before Snoke finally granted him entry. Some of Snoke’s informants were leaving by one of the side entrances as he made his approach. He saluted the Supreme Leader, bringing his right arm over his chest then raising it in front of himself.
“Hail, Supreme Leader.” Hux said boldly. Timidity would get him nowhere. “You summoned me?”
“I did, General.” Snoke’s voice rasped. “You took longer than I have grown accustomed to waiting.”
It was a statement of fact. Any words from Hux now would be seen as a pathetic excuse. The First Order was above everything else, nothing should stop him from coming immediately. Even though that is what Hux did, his explanation of why he had to wait for a military vehicle would be seen as a failure. Snoke’s very essence made him feel he should be able to appear before him immediately. He had built up a reputation for responding faster than anyone else, and he had now broken that, thanks to Kylo Ren. There must be something he could do to rectify this.
“I know, Supreme Leader. I have failed at this task. Nothing should come before your need.”
“Good, as it should be. Now, do you know why I summoned you?”
“No, Supreme Leader.” Even hazarding a wrong guess could earn him pain. If he admitted he didn’t know, he would at least be respected for acknowledging his weakness.
“My spies have brought me word that Anakin is seeking that which was lost, despite our reminders of our generosity to him. He must be foolish indeed to think that we would let him get away with such a thing. We must remind him yet again that even our generosity has its limits. But that is not why I summoned you. No. I have summoned you for a much different, though related task.”
Hux raised his eyes to the desk where the Supreme Leader sat, hoping to gain a hint as to his task without having to ask.
“A different task, my lord?”
“Yes, General. You know I have been bringing the smugglers and privateers to heel. Word has reached me that some of them are trying to find the Lost Prince, Ben Solo, and deliver him to Anakin. This can not be allowed to happen. He is dead. The line must end if our plans for the galaxy are to be fulfilled”
“Who would dare risk it, Supreme leader?”
“There are only two who have the temerity. They have evaded us for too long, and they have grown too confident. Their arrogance will be their undoing. It must be. Maz and Rey Kanata are insects to be crushed. And their stooge is someone you yourself will be pleased to be rid of.”
“My Lord?” Hux could not help but ask.
Hux’s hand tightened into a fist. “I will see it done.” He did not know how the Supreme Leader had learned of the incident at the workshop, but he knew that Snoke could learn whatever he wanted and needed to know.
“Good. I do not want to see you back here until this matter is resolved. Use whatever resources you need.” Hux bowed, and began to back out of the room.
“Do not fail me.” Snoke added as the doors were closed by Snoke’s personal guards, their red uniforms a stark contrast to the golden doors. Hux swung around, and stalked off into the city. His first task - find a new hover bike, and speak to his informants.
When he arrived back at his house, his step-mother greeted him as she came down the stairs for lunch.
“Armitage! I hope you had a successful meeting with the Supreme Leader.” She raised her hand for him to kiss, her robes floating around her slight frame. Hux took the offered hand and lowered his lips to grace the back of her hand before she pulled it away and continued to the dining room, expecting him to merely follow behind like a puppy.
“Yes, mother.” While she was no relation to him by blood, she had insisted he call her mother ever since his father had married her. Much younger than his father, and likely attracted to him because of his position (He had been a close favourite of Snoke’s even before the revolution), she had always looked down on the proof of her husband’s dalliances with disdain. He may have been born before their marriage, but it was still common knowledge the General had been a regular attendee of the brothels until his death. That had been where he was killed by the rebels, after all. “Although the task he has set me will take me away from you for a while.”
He waited for her to take a seat to the right of the head of the table before taking the seat opposite her. His stomach roiled with jealousy over the looming presence filling the empty seat between them. He had been told numerous times that the ‘son of a whore’ would never be good enough to sit there, by her. He would prove her wrong one day.
“That is a shame. You know how lonely I become when you are apart from me. I should speak to him about it. I’m sure he can spare you from whatever wild goose chase the Supreme Leader is sending you on.” The servants placed the food on the table, and his step-mother began to help herself. She must always eat first, reminding him of his place in her eyes.
“You may try, mother, but I do not think he will acquiesce on this order. I am one of his most trusted Generals, and this is a task I am ready for.”
“That may well be the case, Armitage, but I still do not like you going off and leaving me alone. Your father may have passed on, but you know his greatest wish was for you to care for your aging mother in her time of need.” She always spoke with a tone that implied the decision was already made,
“My father also knew the Supreme Leader’s wishes came before you.” Hux bit out before he could help himself. The older woman’s eyes widened for a moment in shock at his coarse words, her hand holding the serving spoon froze in mid air, before responding.
“Very well. You may leave me. But if anything happens to me in your absence I hope you know both your father and I will haunt you until the end of your days.”
Rather you than Snoke, he thought, taking the spoon she had left in the bowl to begin serving himself.
He remained silent for the rest of the meal while his step-mother prattled on about the gossip passing between the high military ranks, most of which he was already aware of. There was no mention of the old King Anakin or the Lost Prince, though, and he assumed if anyone amongst the upper ranks of society had heard the rumours they were being wise, and keeping it to themselves.
Hux spent the remainder of the day contacting his aides and handing over the operations and projects he had been working on. Snoke would not appreciate him leaving loose ends before he went undercover to find the trouble makers seeking to undermine his rule. They would know he was on a special assignment, but that was all that anyone else could know about his work. Covert Operations were not a rare occurrence, so Hux trusted it would be an easy cover.
Throwing the final few things into his bag, Hux left the family home without saying goodbye to his step-mother and walked towards the rougher parts of the city. If the smugglers Rey and Maz were anywhere, or anyone knew what they were planning and where to find them, it would be there.
The next morning dawned bright and early. BB-8 had spent the night in Maz’s room, and beeped loudly to wake her before he rolled out to find Rey and Kylo. Maz pulled her glasses on and swung out of bed. She needed to be on her toes if she was to get them off the planet safely.
As she left her quarters, she heard Rey’s normal groans at having to get up, but Kylo’s shouts and swears at the little droid were new. She smiled smugly to herself. If that boy was not the real Ben Solo she would eat her hat (if she had one). All she had to do was see them safely to Coruscant. She offered a prayer up to the old gods that they may still be listening and see them through it.
Kylo was the first out.
“Good morning, Ben,” Maz greeted. Kylo startled and tensed at the use of the Lost Prince’s name, still not used to her belief he was Ben. He was saved from having to respond by Rey leaving her room, grumbling a greeting to them both and heading to the hanger.
Maz and Kylo followed along behind her as she went straight for the coffee pot and made herself a big mug.
“Let’s get our stuff sorted and ready to go” Rey said after drinking some while Maz and Kylo were still making their mugs.
As they finished up their breakfast, they heard the sounds of someone running and shots being fired. A Trooper came barreling through the main hanger doors. Kylo stiffened in shock, fear and adrenaline pumping through his veins at their discovery. But the Trooper ripped off his helmet as more blasts went off behind him.
"FN2187! What is going on?" Maz called.
“Get going!!” He shouted, turning to fire some more shots at those chasing him.
Maz and Rey moved instantly, while Kylo remained staring at the battle. Fortunately, most of the gear they needed had been stowed away the night before, so they just ran for the ship. As Rey headed for the cockpit to start the pre-flight checks and start the engines, Maz realised Kylo was still frozen by the table.
“BEN! KYLO! COME ON!” she shouted. Kylo turned, but still could not move his legs. That was when FN2187 grabbed his shoulder and pulled him along to the ship.
“TRAITOR!” one of the other troopers called at him as the two men hurried into the ship that had already started to take off as Rey got the Falcon moving.
Maz was waiting for them at the top of the ramp and patted them on the shoulder as she closed the door. Kylo saw a man in uniform appear behind the last of the troopers with neat, red hair. A thrill of terror went down his back as he recognized who was pursuing him.
Rey took off properly, taking a few of the troopers out before getting up and out above the forest.
“MAZ!” she called as she gained altitude, “We have company!”
“Where are the guns?” FN2187 asked Maz, who was holding the arms of the very shaken Kylo.
“Down there.” She waved him off, pulling the giant man down to her height, “Listen to me, Solo. You need to pull yourself together. This was never going to be easy. A Prince like Your Highness can do this!”
Kylo looked at her, his eyes wide, “I - I’m not sure I can.”
“You do it, or we’re dead. Get to that cockpit and help Rey. I’ll be helping shoot the people chasing us.” She tugged on his arm to pull him up, and he followed her prompting, heading forward to the cockpit while she disappeared down the way FN2187 had gone.
The ship kept shaking as it was hit, and the sounds of ships moving around them began to filter through. Kylo stumbled into the cockpit where Rey was focusing on controlling the ship, taking low passes over the trees, and heading for the junk fields, muttering “I can do this” to herself under her breath. Kylo fell into the seat beside her.
“What can I do?” he asked her.
“Just sit down and shut up.” She bit out, “I need to concentrate.”
They continued to fly, Rey performing barrel rolls and flips to evade capture. Kylo could not comprehend why this felt so familiar to him, despite having never flown before, at least to his knowledge. He didn’t have time to consider this though, as he felt his stomach start to roll as well, and the nausea started in earnest as she pulled up (FN or Maz having shot the last ship chasing them) to take them out of the atmosphere and towards the blockade.
“Don’t throw up in my ship!” She said to Kylo, noting the greenish tinge his skin had started to take on. “There’s a bucket back there if you need it.”
Kylo could not stand the thought of moving, so he just swallowed deeply and shook his head.
Snoke’s imperial fleet were waiting for them. They started shooting the moment the ship left the atmosphere. Rey’s flying showed her years behind the helm, weaving in and out of spaces between the ships that appeared only after she had headed for them. Kylo found that as he focused on her prowess, he thought less about the nausea, and now there was no gravitational pull from the planet and the artificial gravity was the only force acting on him, the flight sickness eased.
As Rey cleared the ships, she reached over him to flick a switch. As she did, the stars seemed to blend together for a moment, before a sudden lurch and they were in hyperdrive/space.
FN and Maz appeared in the doorway as Rey turned the autopilot on.
“What happened, FN?” she asked as he sat in one of the rear seats, Maz taking the one next to him.
“On my way to morning briefing, I overhead some of the troopers discussing heading to the old city to track down some smugglers who were trying to escape. I knew it meant you, and I couldn’t let you get caught. I grabbed a hoverbike and headed here immediately, but they were hot on my heels. There wasn’t time to send you a message.”
“How did they find out about us? And where to go?” Maz asked.
“It could have been my fault,” Kylo said quietly. “I recognised the general with them - General Hux Jnr. He’s why I lost my job.”
“But how would he know you were with us? Did you tell anyone anything?” Rey asked him harshly.
“No! I last saw him leaving Phasma’s workshop on his wrecked hoverbike. I don’t know how he figured out where I was.”
“But it wasn’t you they were looking for.” FN said, “There was talk of the smugglers wanting to get off planet because they’d found the Lost Prince.”
Rey and Maz blanched, and Kylo closed his eyes in despair.
“What?” FN asked, “You’re not telling me…” his eyes darted between them all, “...no!”
“That’s what I said.” Kylo commented.
“It makes getting out of there worth it.” Rey commented. “We’ll only know for sure if he’s the Lost Prince when we get to Coruscant and King Anakin declares him so.”
“I don’t know what you lot are on, but that was not worth it for him. ” FN pointed at the window, and then at Kylo. He frowned and stood up, “I’m gonna get out of this armour. Don’t disturb me.” FN walked out of the cockpit.
“I’ll go calm him down.” Maz said, leaving Rey and Kylo alone again.
“That went well,” Kylo said, slumping back into his seat.
“You shouldn’t slouch like that” Rey said to him, fiddling with some buttons and checking some readings. Kylo rolled his eyes. “You’re meant to be His Royal Highness Ben Solo. Start living like it every second or you’ll convince no one.”
“Rey, do you really think I could be royalty?”
“You know I do.”
“Then stop bossing me around!”
Rey looked like he had slapped her with that response instead of his hands, and fell silent next to him (Although he may have heard a slight mutter that sounded suspiciously like “What a temper…”). Kylo slouched again and stretched his feet out onto the console.
“Hey!” she said slapping his feet. “Off!”
“Fine. I’m going to go stretch my legs where someone won’t patronise and annoy me!” he said, walking away as Maz entered, BB-8 beeping behind her.
“Yes, BB, I think you’re right. There is an unspoken attraction.” Maz took the seat Kylo had vacated.
“Attraction?!” Rey exclaimed “Maz, if you’re going to start talking rubbish like that, you can manage the flying!”
Rey marched out of the cabin, leaving Maz alone at the helm. Just as she had been before she took the lonely little girl away from the junk fields and into her heart.
Christmas is fast approaching, but I hope to update at least once more before then. I'll then be taking a break until the New Year while I visit family, but I will still be writing and editing so I can hopefully get back to two updates a week then.
In the meantime, remember to look after yourselves. It's fake and in space, and we are bigger than one film.
Chapter 7: Totally Illegal (Lovely) Getaway
This will be the last update before Christmas, but hoping to get another done before New Year.
Hope you all enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
General Hux gathered all those involved in the assault before him.
“You have failed me, and failed the First Order.” He began, “you are no longer worthy to serve the Supreme Leader.”
He waved his hand, and the shots rang out. After dismissing the troopers he had called to execute the failures, he headed into the old palace properly, hoping he could find something to help him in his quest.
If Hux knew anything about smugglers, and the additional things he had learned about these two from the junk traders (especially a particularly ugly one named Plutt) they would not head to Coruscant first. That was the obvious choice, and they would not proceed there immediately knowing the First Order was on their tail. He hoped exploring these ruins would help him learn more about their smuggling routes, giving him somewhere to start.
As he checked the rooms off the hanger, he considered the man he had seen for only a second as he entered. It was the man who had refused to help fix his bike. Did that mean these smugglers thought Kylo Ren was the lost prince? It could not be possible. His father had ensured they were all killed. Even when the rumours first began, he did not doubt. While the Supreme Leader had given him this opportunity, he did not believe he would actually find anyone dumb enough to try and see the thing through.
But there was the man who he had sworn revenge on, taking part in this ridiculous attempt to find someone who was dead. Kylo could not be the Lost Prince. It was impossible.
Pushing the likelihood and possibilities from his mind, he decided to focus on the job at hand. It was how he had always survived. Do the job good and right, and he would be rewarded. He would be able to crush all those who had doubted him, all those who said he would never be as good as his father.
As he searched the palace, he found signs of how the smugglers had been living. There was rubbish left strewn around, and in one of the rooms he found a data pad left behind in their haste to get off the planet from his troopers. Switching it on, he found files of maps and routes that the pair had used before. This was key.
Getting back to the hanger, Hux ordered the troopers into the military transports that had brought them here. They had caught up with the traitor turncoat as he was sneaking around the building into the hanger, and yet they hadn’t been able to catch him.
Once back at Gradsnoke, Hux dismissed the troopers into the care of their normal commanders, and changed back out of his military gear and into his ‘rough clothes’ as he described them. Heading to the main exit station, Hux showed his papers to the staff who were able to get him on one of the cargo ships to the space station that controlled the operations of the blockade of the planet. From there, he could comandeer an available ship with hyperdrive capabilities and chase the smugglers and the supposed Lost Prince.
He could kill two porgs with one stone, fulfilling his mission and getting revenge on the man who had ruined his bike and was slowing down his career.
Kylo had sprawled out in the bench seat, and FN was busy cleaning his blaster when Rey appeared from the cockpit. Kylo sat up for a moment but she sent him a look that could kill before continuing to the quarters and rooms further back. Kylo lay back down and stared at the space above him. He wasn’t used to having nothing to do. Work had filled his life for so long. When he didn’t work, he slept and ate. That was the extent of his experience. He discovered he did not like being left alone with his thoughts. The longer he lay there, the more he considered his past, and why nothing would come to him from his childhood, or how he got his scar.
He had always merely taken the doctors explanation that it must have happened when he had been caught up in the action and fighting in the battle in the woods. But what if there was more to the story?
There was only one way to find out.
Not able to sit with his thoughts any longer, he headed back to the cockpit, figuring it was safe now that Rey had left.
“Hello Ben” Maz said as he entered. Kylo was learning to leave her to call him whatever she wanted. “Are you ok?”
“I’m not used to having nothing to do.” He said simply.
“You have plenty to do, my boy. There are some datapads back there, under the bench by the table. They hold the history of your family. You should read them.”
Kylo made a non-committal sound and headed back the way he had come.
In the lounge, FN was still cleaning his blaster.
“Aren’t you done with that yet?” Kylo snapped as he approached the bench to look for the data pads.
“I need something to do with my hands. I’m not used to being still.” That stopped Kylo in his tracks. He didn’t realise someone else could understand what that was like.
“Maz told me there some data pads under here I could look at. Would you mind?” He asked.
“Uh, sure.” FN said, standing from his spot but staring awkwardly from the side.
Kylo lifted the seat and saw the small stack of data pads as Maz had described. Grabbing two, he came back up and handed one to FN.
“You should probably change out of your armour, then you can help me if you like?” Kylo offered. FN nodded, took the pad before putting it on the table and stripping off his armour, leaving him in just black trousers and a top.
Kylo turned his own pad on. The first thing that appeared was a map of people, showing their connections to one another. Whenever he touched one of the names, it would zoom in and bring up the details of their names and interesting facts that Maz had pulled together on them. Things that only those who had lived amongst the palace gossip would have known.
One of the pictures showed a small, green alien named Yoda, who supposedly mentored his grandfather and uncle alongside another man named Obi-Wan Kenobi. Reading about them, he discovered they had both died before he was born, and Obi-Wan had passed in suspicious circumstances.
Finding the details a little heavy, he moved on to some of the people who surrounded his supposed family a little more recently, hoping it may trigger some memories. By this time, the ex-trooper had sat down next to him and turned his pad on as well.
“How can I help you?” he asked
“Just tell me what’s on it. I’ll need to know it all I guess.” Kylo replied.
“It just seems to be some etiquette guide. Living as Royalty for Dummies .”
“I’ll need that for sure” Kylo joked.
“You really think you’re the Lost Prince then?” FN asked, flicking through the titles of the book.
“I don’t know what I believe. I was looking for a way off Naboo, when Rey stormed in and dragged me on this wild shaak chase. I don’t know who I am.”
“Rey can be pretty persuasive when she wants to be. It’s how I wound up in this mess too.” FN smiled at him, a knowing look in his eye.
“Oh.” Kylo replied, feeling his stomach flip and his chest tighten, although why he did not know. Had she built a relationship with this man? Is that why he had fled with them? Why he had protected them?
“What is on your data pad then? More etiquette training manuals?” FN continued, not noticing the dilemma Kylo was wrestling with.
“No, it’s the history of the people close to the court. Their dates of birth, death, weird stuff I should probably know. Very dry reading material.”
FN nodded, “Sounds it. What should I do with this pad then?”
“What are some of the chapters? Maz and Rey have tried to teach me some stuff already but they’re too… energetic” Kylo replied, searching for the right words.
“I can imagine.” FN started to scroll through the information. “Ok we have Know your P’s from your Q’s - how to speak without sounding like a commoner, Losing those two left feet - modern dancing, Eating with your mouth closed, Swapping beds - knowing how to keep an affair secret, How - ”
“Keep an affair secret? They must have been living quite interesting lives, these royals.” interrupted Kylo.
“Shall we start with that one then?” FN winked at him. Kylo stared at him in confusion. FN laughed and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry man, we can work up to it. How about the table manners one? You might need to eat with the King.”
Kylo nodded before moving to find some cutlery while FN began reading the chapter. Practice would make perfect, right?
A couple of hours later, Rey came back through to the main area of the ship to the sight of Kylo and FN folding and unfolding napkins.
“Maz got you practicing, huh?” She commented. Kylo and FN both looked up from what they were doing, FN with a smile and Kylo’s cheeks turning an ever so slightly darker shade of pink.
“Well, you best put it away. We’re about to land on Crait.”
“Crait?!” Kylo exclaimed, throwing his napkin aside and standing in confusion. “I thought we were going to Coruscant?!”
“We are. But we need to stop here first and dump the ship. It’s too conspicuous. And the First Order probably knows why we were leaving, and where we’re ultimately heading. We’ll throw them off our scent by stopping here first.”
“Isn’t Crait just an old mining planet?” FN threw in.
“Yes, which means there are lots of old abandoned things. We’ll blend in perfectly.” Rey bit out with an air of finality to the conversation. “Start gathering what we need to take with us so we can unload quickly. Our contact will need to get us moving again pretty swiftly.”
Sufficiently chastised, FN and Kylo started to pack away the items they had been using while Rey carried on into the cockpit to help Maz with the landing procedures.
Looking out of the Falcon’s window, Kylo saw just why this location was so perfect. There were lots of run down, broken old ships that had ferried the salt off the planet and out into the galaxy. He might not be able to call the ship a piece of junk, but it certainly looked at home amongst it. Once everything was unloaded into their backpacks, Maz led the way to some cracks in the rocks. Squeezing their way through, they came out into a large, cavernous space.
“The Queen is dead.” A voice called from the gloom
“Long live the Queen” Maz replied.
A man around the same age as Kylo, with tanned skin and short, curly hair appeared holding a lantern.
“Good to see you Maz. Rey.” He nodded at the women. “Who are these two?” he indicated with his head, his other hand holding a fairly lethal looking blaster. It was longer and larger than the blasters the troopers used on Naboo.
“Poe, this is Kylo, who we believe to be Ben Solo. And this is FN2187, a trooper who gave us enough warning to flee.” Maz said simply, gesturing at the two men.
“Hi” Kylo said.
“FN2187? You don’t have a name? You didn’t name him Maz?!” Poe was surprised. Normally the old woman would name any lost stray she took under her wing within minutes.
“There hasn’t been time. These two were squabbling,” she motioned to Rey and Kylo (Rey crossed her arms and Kylo looked between them), “so I had to pilot the damn ship.”
“That’s not ok. FN, right?” Poe said, coming up to the ex-trooper, who was now stood in just the long sleeved shirt and black pants that lived beneath his armour. FN nodded. “I’m gonna call you Finn, is that alright?”
FN stood wide-eyed. All the troopers were taken as children, and given designations before they could talk. Rey and Maz hadn’t wanted to name him while he was still in the troopers as they didn’t want to risk his cover. But for someone to stop and call him by something other than just a couple of letters and numbers - it filled a hole in his chest he didn't realise he'd lived with his whole life. It somehow completed him, and the soft way this stranger was speaking to him made him feel safe and secure for the first time.
“Finn. Yeah. I like it.” Finn tried the name out in his mouth for the first time, letting it settle over him. “Hi, I’m Finn.” He held out his hand for Poe.
“Hi, I’m Poe.” Poe replied.
“Hi, I’m Finn.” He then turned to Rey, Maz and Kylo, holding his hand out to shake each of theirs as well. All of them were smiling at his happiness, although Kylo’s held a hint of sadness when he shook his hand.
Poe came along behind Finn, introducing himself to them all again. Rey quirked her head at him saying “Hi, I’m Poe” to them all again, and worried for a moment how it would make Finn feel, and whether he was doing it to mock him. But Finn just looked at the other man and laughed along.
At the end of the line, Rey stood with BB-8 to her side. They had encouraged the droid to stay hidden so as to be a surprise to his old master. When Poe reached her, the little droid poked his head out and looked up.
“Hi I’m Poe!” he said to Rey.
“Yes, Poe. And this is BB-8” she stepped to the side. Poe’s eyes widened in surprise at the little droid.
“Beebee? Is it really you? I- I thought you’d have run out of power years ago!” Poe’s eyes started to glisten with tears, his hand reaching out and touching the droid for the first time in 18 years.
BB-8 looked up at the man who he had last seen as a boy. The face structure scanned correctly, and when he realised, the droid beeped happily, rolling on the spot in excitement.
“Where did you find him?” Poe asked, but Beebee whirred and beeped a response himself.
“Kylo found him?” Poe stopped crouching and looked up at him, quickly wiping at his eyes. “Thank you!” he breathed.
“Er, you’re welcome? I didn’t really do much. I just heard him beep when I went into your old quarters in the palace and it must have triggered his reboot sequence.”
“This is a gift more than I could ever ask for.” Poe enveloped him in a hug. Kylo let out a grunt as the air was knocked out of him. “I don’t care if you’re the Lost Prince or not. I will fight for you.”
Poe knelt, crossing his arm in front of his chest.
“Get off the ground, Poe, he’s not royalty yet! Where did you leave your ship?” Maz rubbed her hands together, ready to get on their way again.
“Over at the other junk field. This way.” He turned and started to lead them down one of the many fissures and tunnels in the rocks. Kylo could see now why this was such a good place to go if you were trying to lose someone. Even if you did manage to follow someone to the planet, if you tracked them into the tunnels you could soon lose your way without the knowledge Poe and Maz seemed to have, and they could take off from another location before you ever found your way out. Kylo was fairly certain you could die in here if you got lost badly enough. The thought caused a shiver to go down his spine and filled him with a cold dread.
The tunnel wound its way down, down into the depths. They passed through many other caverns and old base rooms that the miners used in the past when the colony had been functioning, but all was empty and cold now. Poe led the group, with Maz bringing up the rear. Finn was next to Poe, then Rey, followed by Kylo.
Rey had been to Crait a number of times before, finding her way through the tunnels with Maz, but had never learned the true depths of them as Poe clearly had. She knew what she knew, but if she had to find another way through, she would be just as lost as the rest.
After a couple of hours, they started to climb again, and eventually they could start to see daylight lighting up a far end of the current old mining track they were using.
Finn started to shiver as they left the warmth of the underground behind. Poe noticed the chattering of his teeth, Finn was after all only in some thin, worn base layers, so pulled his jacket off and handed it to him.
“Here, take this. Looks like you could use it.” Finn took the jacket slowly, unsure of the kindness this man continued to show him.
“Thank you” he chattered out, “but what about you? You’re just there in a thin shirt as well.”
Poe’s face broke into a wide smile at the lonely, cold man, “I’ll be fine. I’m hot blooded.” Poe ended with a wink and took Finn’s arm to pull him back out into the bright sunlight, BB-8 leading the way.
Finn shrugged the jacket on, enjoying the warmth that was left behind from Poe.
Kylo pulled his coat back on and wrapped his scarf around his neck, pulling the lip of his cap over his eyes to shield them from the sun as he left the tunnel. Poe and Finn were stood laughing and touching one another, seemingly for no reason, so he stood to the other side of the tunnel entrance, looking around the desolate land at yet more abandoned ships. There was one here that looked a little more out of place than the rest. From Kylo’s knowledge, it was a VCX-100 , and in quite good working order.
“Is the Ghost ready?” Rey asked, pushing their things along.
“Yeah, just get loaded up, and we’ll carry on.”
Finn came alongside Rey to help start loading their gear onto the ship.
Taking off, Kylo and the gang split off into the various quarters, leaving Poe to pilot the ship. They would all need to share. Rey and Maz took one room, leaving Finn and Kylo to the other.
Kylo threw himself lazily onto the bottom bunk, desperate for the chance to rest after walking for hours through the tunnels, but Finn put his stuff down and headed back out.
“I can’t rest yet.” was all he said as he left Kylo alone.
After laying in the quiet, the hum of the engines and jumping into hyperspace, Kylo found himself drifting off into sleep.
Kylo did not have dreams. Kylo had nightmares. He had never dreamed for as long as he could remember; it was always either nothing, or nightmares. He normally kept them at bay by keeping his mind busy with the problems of fixing engines and droids, working out the kinks that kept them working, but he had now spent two whole days without that distraction. Of course the nightmares would return tonight.
This one started as all the others: He chased down a corridor after a tall figure with a sweeping cape, calling for his grandfather. However quickly he ran, the figure was always out of reach, until he stumbled into a large space that resembled the throne room on Naboo, and the figure had disappeared. Now, he was stood between a man and a woman he didn’t recognise, as a strange man wrapped in gold approached them. A blaster was pulled from within the gold fabric and was pointed at him, a bolt was fired, but the man stepped in the way, accepting it to his heart. The man did not look at the shooter, but gazed into Kylo’s eyes with such love and affection, but Kylo felt his heart tear in two. The woman next to him stumbled back, and when the strange man shot again she too stepped in the way. Kylo screamed, but nothing could stop her from dying as well. Turning his back, Kylo fled, but was stopped by General Hux.
“It’s time to face your fate, Ben Solo.”
Kylo woke with a start covered in sweat. His heart was pounding. He had never had a nightmare like that before. They were always just the tall, caped figure, sounds of blaster bolts, or dark, narrow corridors. Now, everything had taken on the locations he had explored in the old palace.
It only confused him more. The nightmares could have taken on these people’s faces and setting because he had so recently been there. Could those two people have been his parents? Kylo didn’t know.
He had always assumed that when he found out who he was, what his true name was, and what had happened to him, he would feel a sense of completeness. Everything would feel right and come back to him as a flood. But the more he thought and learned about his past, the more unsure and confused he became. In the dream, when Hux had called him Ben, there had been a sense of certainty within him. He didn’t baulk as he did whenever Maz used that name with him. There wasn’t that sick feeling at the pit of his stomach when he considered all that it meant. In the moment, it was as if that was who he was. It wasn’t a sudden sense of completeness, because despite just witnessing the horrific death of two people to save his life, he was Prince Ben Solo.
But now. Now he was awake, all those feelings came back. He was confused, and uncertain. Dreams never had any base in reality, did they? Dreams could seem as real as anything in the moment, but that didn’t make them true. Maybe he was wishing all of this too much into existence.
He was Kylo Ren. He was an orphan. He did not have any memories before he was a teenager. He had almost lost his eye at the same time as the memory loss.
And he was starting to think he just might truly be the Lost Prince.
Giving up any further idea of sleep for the moment, and still having a good day or so to travel, Kylo went in search of some food. He passed Finn in the hallway, and greeted one another with a nod. In the rec area, Kylo dug through some cupboards and found some portion packs. Making one up for himself, he sat in a corner and began to read through the data pad of the people he should know about if he was the lost prince. He looked at the pictures of his supposed parents, trying to put their faces to the ones he had seen in his dream, but their image had faded in his mind.
As he read and turned his mind to the tree of people as though it was the wires in a droid connecting all the parts that needed to work together, he found his mind clicking into that space where nothing else mattered. The details and connections started to make sense and his brain began to finally start feeling tired. As he sat there absorbing the details, he didn’t notice his eyes start to close.
He was awoken by Rey shaking his shoulder lightly.
“Kylo? Did you sleep here?” she asked. His head had fallen backwards against the wall and his legs were spread in front of him. He pushed himself back into an upright position and started rubbing his shoulder, which was already starting to ache from the awkward way he had slept on the hard seat.
“I had a bad dream. I came out here to do some research instead” he gestured to the data pad that had fallen onto the table next to his empty plate. “I must have still needed some rest,” he shrugged.
“It’s a good job you managed to get some rest, we’re here.” Rey continued. “Maybe I should have joined you, Maz snores loud enough to wake a sleeping bantha.”
“When you’ve lived as long as I have, you’re allowed to snore a little!” Maz called from across the room.
Poe’s voice crackled through the speaker system, “Good morning ladies, gentlemen, droids, and royalty, we are now landing at Coruscant main transit station. Please take your seats, fasten your seat belts, and make sure all parts are secure. I hope you had a pleasant flight with Dameron Spaceways.”
Finn joined them, taking his seat as they dropped out of hyperspace and got their first look at Coruscant.
Next time, we meet Anakin!
Chapter 8: Close the Door
Anakin Skywalker thinks back on his journey, and what has led him to this point.
A short chapter today friends. This one is unbetad, so apologies for any mistakes!
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas (if you celebrate)!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chapter 8: Close the door
Anakin Skywalker was too old for this shit. He should have known better than to search for his lost grandson. He should have known it would have brought all the bounty hunters, smugglers, and conmen out of the woodwork to try and pull the wool over his eyes.
“Send them away, Threepio” he said, looking at the long line of wannabe princes and their coaches lining the street outside his home.
“Are you sure, Sir? By my calculations, to erase any probability of finding Prince Solo we would need to interview four trillion...” The golden droid began before the dowager King held up his hand to stop him.
“Yes, Threepio, you’ve told me the numbers before. But I cannot keep doing this to myself. I look out amongst those faces and none of them are him. However much they are trained to sound like him or act like him, in the end it never is him. Send them away. No more.”
“Very well, Sir, I will do so. Come along, Artoo. I may need your talents for rudeness to dissuade the more persistent applicants.” C3PO and R2D2 left to disperse the crowd, with their master alone in his study.
Anakin turned to his window that looked over the city, and watched as the ships came in and out. There were at least a trillion people on this planet alone, and any one of them could be his grandson. Putting out a reward for his safe return was never the right way to go about finding him. He should have realised that.
It had been 18 long years since he had come here to seek help in dealing with Snoke’s appearance on his planet, but it had been too late. By the time he had arrived the invasion was complete. Despite his pleas to the senate, they had given Naboo up for lost and had merely offered him sanctuary on Coruscant. Fortunately, all the royal family funds had been kept with a bank based on Coruscant, so he was well set up here, but was it worth it when none of his family remained?
He remembered when the news of what had happened started to reach him. Apart from Snoke assuming power, there was little known for the longest time about what had actually happened, and who had survived. It was only when some of the pilots from the Nabooian Flight Squad had arrived with a number of other refugees. His heart still bore the scars of the night he was told about his wife, the one who had saved him from the darkness brewing in his soul, and his daughter and her husband had been killed in their very seat of power. His son was apparently killed in secret tunnels, trying to flee. He had fallen to the floor with a scream and could not be moved for days. Artoo had stood watch over him, and Threepio had done his best to bring him round to eat and drink.
In the end, the only thing that brought him back was word that a boy around the same age as his grandson had requested an audience with him. He allowed Threepio to pull him to his desk, and sat there wrapped in his cloak, beard on his face, eyes red and raw, to greet the boy. The boy entered with confidence, but soon shrunk back as he saw the cold, dead expression on the face of the last remaining member of the Nabooian Royal family before him.
The boy bowed, but stayed silent.
“You requested to see me?” Anakin was surprised at how deep and dry his voice had become over the past week. Whether it was from the screaming and crying or the lack of food and water, or a combination of both. Did it really matter?
“Yes, Your Highness,” the boy replied quietly.
“I - I wanted you to know. When I heard how you had taken the news from Naboo -”
“My grief is the subject of gossip amongst the lower ranks now? How times change. Barely out of power for a week and all respect is gone,” he sneered.
“You misunderstand, Your Grace.” The boy seemed to have found his voice and confidence from somewhere in his small stature. “Your people who escaped are only concerned for you. You are the representation of everything we once had and want to get back. And I wanted to offer you some hope.”
“I have no need for hope. I will end my days a lonely man with no name or family, just as I entered this galaxy. I am becoming resigned to this fate.”
“But you may not be alone. There may yet be a family member who lives.”
Anakin sat up in his chair, and truly looked at the boy for the first time. There was a twinkle of mischief in his eyes.
“Who are you?” Anakin asked.
“I’m Poe, Your Highness. I was a recruit with the Nabooian Flight Squad and escaped with them. But as we were fleeing, I saw a boy my age run into the hanger and clamber into one of our ships. The troopers were most intent on shooting him down, which is why we got away. I’d only seen him a number of times, but I believe it was your grandson. His Royal Highness Prince Ben Solo.”
Anakin instantly stood and moved toward the boy, grabbing him by his shirt.“You’re telling me my grandson is alive?”
Poe wriggled under the grip of the Dowager King, trying to break free, as he continued, “I can not be certain. We saw his ship go down in the woods. But there have been no reports of his body being found and displayed to the people as the rest of the royal family have been.”
Anakin let go of Poe and turned to face his window, unsure of what to think or feel.
“I’m very sorry that you have lost so much, Your Highness, but I wanted to share this hope with you. The rumours are already circulating amongst the refugees, but you should know most of all, and know the truth of it.”
Anakin remained staring at the city.
“Thank you, young one. You may leave me.”
Poe bowed at the King’s back and left the room.
Anakin remembered the light that had been brought back to him with that one message. It had given him purpose again. He knew the chances of his Ben surviving a crash such as Poe had described were slim, but their ships had been designed to protect pilots and keep them alive in ninety percent of all cases. Ben would have had to use all his wits to survive after the crash, to not be found out, but he was as clever as Anakin himself. He knew if Ben had lived he would find a way to survive.
Over the next few weeks, Anakin had put out a message asking for anyone with any information on Ben Solo to come forward. He hoped that if his grandson had lived, he would hear the news and come forward himself. All he got for his efforts were lies and half truths about what people had seen on the day. He had sent his own spies out to try and gather information, and even tried to send some back to Naboo itself.
That had been disastrous. Their bodies had been shipped back to him in pieces with a message from Snoke himself. It told him to give up the search, Ben Solo was dead and that the only reason Anakin himself was still alive was because they didn’t think he would cause trouble. That had only enraged him, and he sent yet more people to Naboo.
This time, the bodies did not come back, but an assassin did. It was only his old training that had helped Anakin move out of the blaster range in time. When he got back to his rooms, he received a direct comm from Snoke. The withered man’s face filled the screen.
“I will say this to you one more time, Skywalker. You will retreat into nothingness and let all rumours of your grandson die like he did, or it will not only be yourself who will die. When you are gone, I will destroy first any survivors who made it off Naboo, then I will find a new world to conquer and leave this one in blood and smoke to fade from memory. No one will return here for a thousand years. Is that what you want the legacy of the Naberrie-Skywalker’s to be?”
And the comm had ended before Anakin could reply. However much he wanted his grandson back, the words of Padme came back to him. They were servants of the people. His job was to protect them and keep them safe before anything else. As much as it caused him pain to let the search end, he needed to do it for his people. If they were ever going to stand a chance of freeing themselves from Snoke’s iron grip in the future, they needed to stop this fruitless search. If his grandson still lived, he could only hope he would find his way to him again, without the lure of a reward.
But his age was finally catching up with him. He could not let his people go without an heir, without someone to put their hope in and rally around. Without that, there would be no point to their fight. They may as well give themselves up to be slaves to Snoke for eternity.
So instead of only asking for information, he had put out the call that he would interview anyone who could be the Lost Prince to check their story for himself. Looking back on what had happened all those years ago, Anakin could only draw the conclusion that Ben had not been able to get off world when he had last looked. But the intervening 18 years may have presented him with such an opportunity. And maybe Ben had fled to one of the outer planets, hoping to hide away there, and had not heard that his grandfather still lived, or maybe he doubted Anakin still cared for him. Whatever the reason, a reward like this would spread to the furthest corners and draw him back, or so Anakin hoped. To see his grandson just one last time before he passed would help him rest easy.
But they were back here again; a long line of wannabes outside his home again, none of them right. They all spouted the same, well known stories and histories, but none of them could recount the private conversations he and Ben had shared. The men, when told they were frauds, would scamper away in fear, and their coaches would disappear as their stooges were torn down one by one.
This could not continue. It only made him weaker, and his friends Rex and Ahsoka would beg him to rest.
But that wasn’t the only reason he had to stop. Another message had arrived from Naboo the previous evening, reminding him of the threat Snoke had made all those years ago. No, if Ben had survived, Anakin would not find him before the planet was destroyed and it would all be for naught.
When the droids returned from clearing the crowd that had gathered today, he called them back to him along with Rex and Ahsoka.
“Withdraw the notice. Rex, Ahsoka, do not accept any more applicants. It is time to let the past die.” He said simply, taking his seat at the desk.
“Are you sure, your Highness?” Ahsoka asked him.
“Yes, Snips. We have other work to do. Bring me the reports on how the recruitment is proceeding.”
Ahsoka bowed and left to get the reports.
There was more than one way to free a planet, after all.
Thank you for continued support! I'm going to try and churn out a few more chapters over the next few days while I'm off work.
Chapter 9: A City Beyond All Compare
Maz and Rey give Kylo the makeover he needs.
Ahhhh I've been desparate to post this for days!! I'm so excited I could finally give this to you all. I hope you enjoy it :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chapter 9: A city beyond all compare
When they left Poe’s ship, Kylo and Finn stood in awe of the city-planet sparkling around them. Neither of the men had ever seen anything like it in their lives. Maz, Rey, and Poe smiled at them both. Coruscant could have that effect on off worlders. Rey herself had taken weeks to get used to the noise and press of bodies around them. Rey grabbed Kylo’s hand to pull him forward so the droids could unload their gear while Poe wrapped an arm around Finn to come along while he registered the ship. Maz went to hire them a transport to get them to Poe’s apartment, where they had agreed they would stay while in the city. It would be crowded and cramped, but it would serve until they could arrange to see the King.
“It can be quite overwhelming,” Rey said to Kylo, who was still gawping at all the ships and droids he could see.
“I’ve read about all of these ships and droids, but never imagined I would see them in my life.” Kylo replied. No one ever came to Naboo. All their ships and droids were created by the First Order, to serve the First Order. Anything else was starting to truly be outdated from the old days, and was mostly scrapped for parts. Even if Kylo found he wasn’t the lost Prince, he knew he could find work easily here. With this many droids and ships, there must be plenty of shops he could work in. And plenty spare for when his temper eventually came to bite him in the ass.
Maz came back with the keys/card to a transport, and Poe and Finn met them shortly afterwards with the ship checked in to a hanger.
“Still in the same place Poe?” Maz asked as they reached the smaller ship that would ferry them across the city to Poe’s apartments.
“Yes, don’t you want me to drive, though?”
“No, you can take a break.” Maz jumped behind the wheel. Rey took the seat next to her, leaving the boys to squash in the back. BB-8 beeped wildly at them, unable to get himself in the transport.
“Hold on, buddy.” Poe said, clambering back out. “Can he go with you Rey? There’s not much space back there.”
“Of course!” Rey pulled her legs out of the way so BB could go in the little space in front of her.
When Poe was back in and settled, Maz took off and joined the speeding traffic above to the Resistance Apartments.
“Home, sweet home!” Poe said as they entered his small, two bedroom apartment. Space was at a premium here on Coruscant, and even though the King had given him a tidy sum to look after him for bringing word of the prince’s possible survival, this was still all he had been able to buy with the money. There was a small living space with kitchenette, two sofas, and a holoscreen, a small bathroom, and two bedrooms. One had a bed and a view of the narrow street between this building and the next, and the other had no windows and barely fit a bed. The place was a mess; when Poe wasn’t flying supposed lost prince’s across the galaxy, he ran cargo shipments but would not disclose who for. Rey and Maz had provided some of that cargo for him a couple of times, which is how they had arranged this transport. Poe had originally flown for the Coruscant Space Force, but he had butted heads with one too many generals and been kicked out on his ass by the last one (one General Holdo) and left to fend for himself. Fortunately, Anakin had kept an eye on the boy who had brought him hope and kept him from ending it all, and had manoeuvred things to find him a means to keep himself Poe in a living.
“Wow, you have so much space!” Finn said enthusiastically. He ran in and sat down on the sofa, “So comfortable too!”
Poe smiled at the ex-trooper. “I’m glad you like it. Do you want some fresh clothes, buddy?”
Finn was still wearing Poe’s jacket and his black trooper under shirt and pants.
“Yeah, you probably want this back.” He tried to hand the jacket back.
“No, man, you can keep it. It looks good on you. Anyway, let me show you to my wardrobe. This way!” Poe pulled Finn up off the sofa and towards his bedroom. Rey and Maz shared a look, knowing they wouldn’t see the pair for a while.
Maz headed to the kitchenette to dig through Poe’s cupboards to rustle up some breakfast. Rey and Kylo sat down.
“What do we do know?” Kylo asked, “When do I get to meet King Anakin?”
“Slow down. We need to get you dressed up first. You can’t meet him dressed like that.” Rey replied.
“Dressed like what? This is all I have.”
“Don’t worry, I know. I saw the size of your bag.” snorted Rey.
“Hey! It’s not like you’re dressed any better than me!” Kylo shot back.
“Now now, you two.” Maz called from the kitchen. “Play nice!”
Kylo stuck his tongue out at Rey, who just smirked at his childish behaviour.
“Oh yes, very princely behaviour. We’re going to take you shopping dumbass. We’re all gonna need fresh clothes. Finn might be to same size as Poe but you would burst those seams before you could even do up the buttons.” Rey joked.
“But first, food.” Maz handed them each a bowl and a spoon, and they ate their first true food in days.
“Aren’t Finn and Poe going to join us?” Kylo asked as they headed out to the transport to begin their shopping spree.
“Didn’t you see the way Poe was eyeing him up? Be glad we got out of there before he managed to seduce the man properly.” Maz replied. Kylo’s eyes widened and mouth popped open without intending it to.
“Come on,” Rey hit him playfully on the shoulder. “You never realised two men can be romantically involved before?”
“Yes” he hissed, “I’m not stupid. I just didn’t realise it could happen so fast.”
“Oh that was slow for Poe. If he hadn’t needed us to get here so soon he would have won him over on the ship. Anyway, we have clothes to buy!” Maz sped them off.
Kylo continued to look around the city as they went. There was always something new, or some other strange alien he hadn’t encountered before to look at, but then they had moved on and it was something different to catch his eye. A new style of dress, or a new type of ship, or just the height and design of the buildings.
They pulled up at a building that was full of upmarket shops and restaurants. Maz parked the transport, and they got out to start exploring. Kylo felt Rey’s hand pulling him along as he was getting easily distracted still.
Finally reaching a shop of menswear, they went inside.
“Isn’t this all going to be too expensive?” Kylo said to them. “You didn’t seem to be exactly swimming in credits back on Naboo.”
“Maz has an account here. But Credits aren’t exactly accepted on Naboo anymore. We have enough to get us ready for this. It’ll cost us a few months worth of savings, but we’re considering it an investment.” Rey winked at him as a protocol droid came over to them.
“Hello. I am 4X3A. How may I be of assistance today?”
“Hello 4X3A, we need a number of suits appropriate for this gentleman. He may not look it, but he is of high rank and his clothes need to reflect that. What do you have on offer?” Maz said matter-of-factly.
“We have some of the very latest designs in stock. Please, take a seat and if the gentleman can follow me, I will show him to our changing rooms where I will bring a selection for him.”
Kylo followed the droid to a small room with a chair, full length mirror, and a rail for hanging the items on.
“Please wait here, sir. A tailoring droid will be along shortly to take your measurements. Please remove your outer clothes.”
Kylo was left alone. This space was alien to him. It was so clean, and here he was, wearing the same set of clothes from three days ago, that were worn and had too many holes to count. Sighing and resigning himself to this happening, he took off his coat, scarf, and hat, and hung them up, just as a small tailoring droid floated in and started scanning his height.
“PLEASE. STAND. STRAIGHT.” it’s robotic voice beeped at him, and taking the measurement again.
“LIFT. YOUR. ARMS.” it continued to boss Kylo about, following its directions, then disappeared the way it had come. Meanwhile, 4X3A had brought some items in and hung them up.
“Very good, sir. When you have decided on the best items, we will make them in your size and send them on to you. Shall we start with an everyday look? This is something your servant suggested we should start with.” Kylo was confused for a moment, but thought the droid must have considered Maz to be his servant. He wondered how they were getting on out there. Probably enjoyed the drinks and nibbles he saw on the side and laughing about how awkward he must be in here.
“I’ll try it on then. Can I have some privacy?” Kylo asked. He wasn’t entirely sure of the protocol here, but it was worth a shot. He had never changed in front of anyone. Not since his stay in the hospital, where the doctors and nurses had ordered him to dress and undress numerous times for various examinations. They always waited with him as he did so, probably concerned he might forget how to do it given everything else he had forgotten, but he had never lost the sense of shame it had created in him.
“Oh, of course, sir. Apologies for disturbing your privacy. Please call me when you are ready for the next item.” The protocol droid bustled out. Kylo had always hated whenever someone had entered the shop with one of the droids. They always got in the way and made things more difficult. They had their uses, but this would be a trying experience.
Slipping off his worn trousers and shirt, Kylo pulled on the grey trousers first. They were a little tight, but they were the softest thing Kylo had ever felt. Next, he pulled on the blue shirt and high necked jacket. As he fastened them up, he was surprised to find it did not feel constricted or restrained, but it held him in the posture he was trying to hold since his lesson with Maz, and made it easier to maintain. There was a strange cloak still on the hanger. He took it off and put his arms through the holes, and the grey fabric fell wonderfully down his back. There were a pair of boots on the floor, so he pulled those on as well and stared at himself in the mirror. It was the first time he felt he looked like the prince he was supposed to be, and not some poor mechanic from the base of the First Order.
“Are you getting on ok, sir?” 4X3A said from outside the door. “Your servant and girlfriend would like to see, if you ready?”
Kylo swallowed. His girlfriend? Rey was pretending to be his girlfriend? He thought she only saw him as a means to an end. How would her being his girlfriend help with the plan? But there wasn’t time to consider such things now.
“Sure. I’ll be right out.” Taking a deep breath, he headed back out to the shop floor.
And stopped immediately when he saw Rey in a floor length gown of the purest silk. It was a deep navy and floated to the floor. He had only seen her in rough and ready clothes so far, practical and warm, for scrabbling about and scavenging. This was something else. Her hair had been pulled into a high bun on her head, and some jewels were glistening around her neck, white gloves pulled up her arm.
“Wow. You scrub up good, Kylo.” Rey said while he stood mute, staring at her.
“Hmmm, he does. And you have the true air of the Prince now.” Maz added.
Kylo finally remembered how to speak. “Thank you. You look stunning, Rey,” he managed to stumble out.
“Thanks. I needed a new gown or two ready for the party. You should probably go try on the tux, I think it’s called? That’s the new outfit that’s all the rage for Coruscant events these days.”
“Indeed it is, mistress.” 4X3A chimed in. “I can get that for you now, sir, if you follow me?” Kylo returned to the changing room, and the protocol droid brought the black outfit with white shirt and strange black strip of fabric with it.
“When you are dressed, sir, I can assist you with the tie, if you would like.”
“Yes, yes, whatever.” He pushed the droid back out and rested his back against the door. He was still not over Rey in the stunning blue dress.
Quickly stripping off his current outfit, he pulled on the black trousers and white shirt quickly. When the shirt was on, he called the droid back in, who made quick work of tying the black strip of cloth around his neck in a tie.
“You just need the jacket and shoes now, sir, then you can show the ladies again.”
Kylo nodded, putting those items on quickly, wondering if he would see Rey in anything else.
He was disappointed to see her back in her old grey tunic and long sleeves. Her hair was half down now, though, and he was still struck by her beauty in a way he had not previously noticed. She was laughing with Maz, and they hadn’t yet noticed his appearance. He felt his heart warm as he watched her, and was about to ask what they were laughing about when that bloody protocol droid barged in.
“Ladies, what do you think?” the droid asked.
They turned around and looked at Kylo in the tux. Maz smiled, turning her glasses to the highest magnification so she could give him a good look up and down. Rey’s mouth slipped open as she raked her eyes over his body.
“I must say, sir, you wear it very well. You will be the highlight of all the parties. Your girlfriend there will certainly have to guard you jealousy.” 4X3A said.
Kylo thought he noticed Rey’s cheeks turn a slight pink when the droid referred to her as his girlfriend. Kylo smirked. Maybe she hadn’t been saying such things after all.
“My eyes would never wander from her, I can assure you.” He said to the droid, deciding to milk this moment for all it was worth. “What do you think, sweetheart?”
Her shock turned into a glare, but there was no way she could let him win this round.
“You look just as handsome as you did when I met you,” she replied, “but a little cleaner.”
“Perfect. Do you want to look at anything else?”
Kylo was thrown. How much was all this costing? Could he look at anything else?
“That will be enough for now, 4X3A,” Maz rescued him. “You have the list of items we need. Kylo, go get back into your old clothes, we have much to do.”
Kylo nodded, and headed back to change.
With all the items promised to be delivered the next morning, Maz and Rey led him to a beauty parlour.
“Why do I need to go in there?” He asked.
“Your nails are a disgrace, your hair needs a trim, and you need to lose the beard.” Maz replied. Grumbling ignored, he let himself be dragged inside.
It all took much longer than expected, but it was not as bad as he had anticipated. He was allowed to keep the length in his hair, but he had to agree it looked much better by the time they left. It had lost the greasy, flat look he had grown to manage, and was looking soft and fluffy at the edges. Rey kept sneaking appreciative glances at it when she thought he wasn’t looking, especially when he ran his fingers through it. His nails were also clean and all the same length for the first time in his memory, and his face was bare. He’d had a beard ever since he could grow one. It made him feel safe, secure, like a mask he could hide behind. But Maz decreed that no Royal in the Naberiee-Skywalker family had ever worn a beard, and they were not about to start now.
The loss was small, but he felt like every emotion would now be clear to see upon his face. Rey even called him “baby” when she first saw him, pinching his cheek. He grumbled at her, but then Maz was whisking them to one of the restaurants to have lunch so Kylo could prove he had mastered table manners with Finn on the Falcon.
When they came back into the apartment, after Maz had deemed his skills “passable”, Poe and Finn were cuddled together on one of the sofas in comfortable clothes. Finn was resting his head on Poe’s shoulder, BB-8 at their feet, watching a drama on the holonet.
“Did you guys have fun?” Poe asked.
Maz and Rey smiled at each other, Kylo merely grumbled.
“Lots. Even His Royal Sulkiness there, even though he won’t admit it. How about you guys?” Rey replied.
Finn turned his face into Poe’s chest in embarrassment.
“Told you,” she said to Kylo. “If we hadn’t of gone out, nothing in the galaxy could make you forget the sounds those two will have been making.”
Kylo shuddered, and the others laughed. Making him uncomfortable seemed to be a new favourite pastime.
Maz sat on the other sofa, but Rey called Kylo towards the second bedroom.
“There’s something I need to show you now. We’re hoping to see the King tomorrow, and you need to give him it when you get there.”
Kylo went with her, wondering what it could be.
As Rey and Kylo left the room, Poe started to run his hand along Finn’s leg. Maz threw one of the cushions at Poe.
“Did you manage to reach her?” she asked him, needing to get an update before she couldn’t stop them going at each other.
“Oy! I did. She said not to bother.”
“You’re telling me this now?!” Maz exclaimed.
“Calm down. I’ve talked to her. You can still present him to Anakin. She just said not to bother bringing him as all the other prospective Lost Prince’s have been. When she heard Kylo had come from Naboo, she said he’s the first one to come from there, and when I showed her his image she agreed that we could go to the party tomorrow evening. She’ll get our names on the list. But we can’t be obvious about it. Anakin has given up the search officially.”
Maz sat back and pondered for a moment. “This does make it harder to get him into the King’s presence. And without a chance to talk about his past, we need to make sure he simple oozes the Royal presence so Anakin can’t help but be overwhelmed and see nothing but his grandson before him again.”
“Do you want to speak to Ahsoka yourself?” Poe asked.
“Yes” Maz replied.
Rey rummaged in one of the bags by her bed.
“Here it is.” she said, and pulled out the dagger she had found in the Prince’s old rooms.
“What is that?” Kylo asked, that now familiar pricking sensation starting at the back of his neck.
“I found it in the old palace, in the Prince’s-your rooms. It was on top of the canopy of the bed. I don’t know how you got it up there.” She said “but it’s time I gave it back to you.” She knelt, with only a hint of mocking, and held the dagger out to him.
“Thanks, I guess” Kylo took the dagger from her offered hand, and turned it back and forth. It had a good weight to it, and it seemed to fit his hand well. As he moved the blade back and forth, his eye caught the decoration on the hilt. “What’s this?” he asked, holding it towards Rey.
“That’s the crest of the Royal family.”
“Are you sure that’s all it is? It seems like an odd thing to have on a hilt.” he replied, inspecting it with his finger, tracing the crest.
“What else would it be?”
“I’m not…” Kylo pressed down on part of the design that seemed to give way to his fingers. The end of the dagger hilt flipped open. Kylo and Rey looked at each other for a moment, both surprised and confused, before Kylo looked into the compartment that had opened.
“...a hiding place?” Rey asked as he stared. He had fallen completely silent. Holding the dagger up, he let a small item fall into his hand.
“It’s a ring” he said, “how did I find that?”
“Don’t ask me,” Rey responded. “You’re supposed to be the Lost Prince. If you are, that is exactly the sort of thing you’d know about this dagger, wouldn’t it?”
“But I didn’t know” Kylo replied.
Rey shrugged, “Maybe not consciously.”
The ring displayed the same symbol, and Kylo couldn’t help but turn it over in his hand admiring the jewels. Looking at it now, he felt a warmth in his chest, and it felt right to slip it on. Closing the hidden spot in the dagger’s hilt, he took it with him and followed Rey back into the living space.
“Where did you two disappear to?” Poe raised his eyebrows at them.
“Never you mind, Dameron.” Rey playfully hit him on the head.
“Enough fooling around. We need to do some more training with our Prince here. Do you know how to dance?” Maz cut in.
“Dance?” Kylo looked confused. “Don’t I just need to meet with the King and explain about my past and let him see if I’m the real deal?”
“Well, there’s been a slight change of plan…” Maz began.
“Oh no. No no no no no. I did not sign up to dancing or anything like that. I came along to learn about my past and try to figure out who I am!” Kylo marched out of the room, his anger and frustration at being directed and dictated too for the past week finally bubbling over. He ran up the stairs two at a time. He needed to breathe. He needed space. Poe had mentioned a rooftop garden. Maybe that would help.
After climbing for a few minutes, most of his anger had sweated out of him, but he kept going until he reached the top. It was cold, or would have been if not for the glass walls and ceiling protecting the space from the high winds of this altitude.
He looked and saw the sun setting in the distance, filling the garden with a golden glow.
Taking a deep breath, he sat on the bench, and found himself playing with the ring now resting on his right ring finger.
“This isn’t how we saw this going either, you know.” Rey said, having followed him up in the elevator.
Kylo remained staring at the sunset.
“We were supposed to present you to Anakin, and it would all be over and done with. You’d have your grandfather back, and we would be able to move on with our lives without returning to Naboo.”
“I don’t want to have to prove myself.” Kylo replied, leaning forward on the bench and resting his head in his hands.
“You don’t. Not to me. Not to Maz. Not even to Anakin. This is, like you said, discovering who you truly are. Whatever happens tomorrow at the ball, you will know more about yourself than you did today. And you will know how to dance.” Rey held her hand out to him.
“A man as handsome as yourself will be asked to dance at some point in your life. It is definitely a potential life saving skill.”
“Is that correct?” Kylo joked back, taking her hand and letting her pull him up. “Could you maybe rectify this gaping hole in my knowledge?”
“I will certainly do my best.” They were both standing now in the golden light as the transports and ships buzzed around their bubble.
“Place one hand on my waist, and hold my hand with the other.” Rey said, positioning him correctly. “Good, now, we move to the music. Except I didn’t bring any up with me. It’s generally three beats, so one, two, three, go!”
“Ouch!” Kylo yelped, unprepared for Rey to suddenly start moving and step on his foot.
“Sorry,” she replied. “You really don’t know how to do this, do you?”
Kylo shook his head.
“I can’t teach you this alone. Can I call Maz up here? I promise you, she only wants to help you find your way.”
“I guess,” he replied. The anger had disappeared so quickly this time. Being off Naboo was doing him good, he concluded, if the anger that would normally lasted days was gone in minutes. Or maybe it was the company he was keeping now?
Rey had commed down to Maz, who appeared a few moments later.
“I’m sorry she stepped on your toes, Ben. I have a fair few of my own bruised from when I taught her.” Rey stuck her tongue out at her adopted mother. “I also brought some music. It helps. Now, show me how you held her.”
They resumed the position. Maz clicked her tongue. “Very good. Now, step forward on one, to the side on two, then bring the first foot back to join it. On my count.” Maz began counting and Kylo tried to follow her directions. They made sense in his head, but he kept staring at his feet.
“No. No, Rey. You don’t lead! I’ve told you that a thousand times. Let him.” Kylo looked up.
“What?” he asked
Maz replied, “You need to lead the moves. And stop looking at your feet. Look into your partner’s face.”
Kylo looked into Rey’s eyes, and the music Maz had brought began. It was a gentle tune with a steady rhythm, Maz kept count, and Kylo moved his feet. It was disconcerting at first, he was unused to moving in such a way, but as he focused on Rey’s eyes and moving her where he wanted to go, the stiffness began to fall away from his shoulders.
“You looked pretty” he said, needing to distract himself from the way the city lights were starting to glitter in her eyes.
“Hmm?” She replied.
“When you were wearing that dress. In the shop…” he continued. “Your - you should wear it.”
Rey smiled, “I will, thank you. That’s why I was trying it on”
“Now spin her out” Maz called, and Kylo did as she suggested, opening his arm for Rey to move away from him. She moved gracefully, then returned back to his arms and they continued to move.
“Oh, yes, of course. I was just - trying to - er…”
“Give me a compliment?”
The music continued, and they fell silent as they continued to gaze at one another. Maz could see everything before her. Everything that could happen and everything that was likely to happen. She had seen the eyes the two were making at one another in so many before them.
“Kylo…” Rey began, not tearing her eyes from his.
“I’m starting to feel a little dizzy.”
“Then maybe we should. Stop. Spinning.” The music had slowed, and so had their own footsteps.
“We have stopped…” Rey’s eyes started to close, and Kylo moved in towards her.
A loud, annoyed beep rang through the garden. Rey instantly jumped back as if she had been burned, and Kylo felt lost at the lack of her touch.
“You’re doing good. You’ll be ok for tomorrow, anyway,” and she fled the garden. Kylo whirled on Maz, who shrugged, and knelt down to see what BB-8 had wanted.
“BB-8 says dinner is ready. Let’s go, Solo.” she said, and the two returned to the tiny apartment.
Rey did not come back for dinner, and Kylo was silent as they ate the small meal Poe had created. Maz, Poe, and Finn talked and laughed together, but nothing they did could draw Kylo into their conversation. They would all attend the Republic day ball tomorrow, Ahsoka had gotten them on the list, and they could only hope they managed to get Kylo before Anakin. Maz was more convinced than ever that he was the real deal, but whether the short time they had at the ball would be enough to prove it to Anakin was another matter.
After dinner, there was still no sign of Rey. Maz did not seem concerned, so the others left the issue alone. Poe took Finn to his room, and Maz had the smaller room, leaving Kylo with the couch. He was too long for it, but he had slept in worse places. Taking the blanket he had been given, he curled up as small as he could, and tried to sleep.
A half hour later he was still trying to get comfortable, when he heard the apartment door open, and saw a small form take the other sofa. She curled up, and fell asleep almost instantly, envying her ease of sleep, Kylo tossed and turned a while longer. He only knew he was asleep when the nightmare started.
Next chapter is one of my favourites from this fic and I'm restraining myself from posting it early, but if enough of you ask I won't take much persuading to post it on New Year's Day (and by the way, it's where the fic earns it E rating...)
Chapter 10: In a Crowd of Thousands
Happy New Year! Enjoy this new year's gift. The fic finally earns its E rating ;)
Also, I finally know how many chapters this has! Wahoo!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chapter 10: In a crowd of thousands
The screams returned. This time, Kylo was running away from the sound and the blaster shots, but arrived in the woods with no warning. His face stung where his scar was, and all the faces of the people he had been learning about so far surrounded him.
“Who are you?” One asked.
“I don’t know.” Kylo replied.
“How can you not know who you are?” Another said to him.
“Knowing is not important, understanding is,” a small green alien contributed.
“He is the Prince!” Someone else shouted.
“Then where has he been?”
“How could he leave us?”
“Why did he survive?”
The voices rose around him, and the people began to crowd and grab at him. It was too much. He screamed, and the crowd dispersed. He saw the tall figure in a cloak sweep by.
“Grandfather!” Kylo cried
“You are no grandson of mine,” and the figure walked away.
“KYLO! BEN! Wake up!” Kylo opened his eyes to Rey shaking his shoulder. He was covered in sweat, tears on his cheek, his white vest tight on his chest. She was wide eyed, her hair back in her three-bun style, and she was still holding his shoulders.
“Are you ok?” She asked him.
Kylo shook his head. “I- I have nightmares. So many voices. And I don’t know who I am.”
Rey wrapped her arms around him, pulling him into a hug as tears streamed down his face. Awkwardly, he put one of his own around her back. They stayed that way for several minutes, until his tears had started to slow.
“I’m sorry,” Kylo said.
“It’s ok.” Rey replied, pulling away a little more, rocking back onto her heels from her knees where she had crouched next to the couch. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Kylo shook his head. “It’s already fading. I’ve had them for so long.”
“I had nightmares too after I left Naboo for the first time. Maz used to distract me with stories.”
“I could do with a story about now.” Kylo said, looking down at her.
“Oh, I don’t tell hers as well as she does. But you should ask her for one sometime.”
“Can’t you tell me a story of your own?” He asked.
“I guess.” Rey replied. “ Can I join you up there?”
Kylo nodded and shuffled back. Rey got up off the floor and sat next to him as he lay on the couch.
“It was summer. I was six. I still think of that day now and then. There was a parade, and a boy, and a crowd of thousands. My parents had taken us along to watch the royal parade for Queen Leia’s coronation. I wanted to get closer, to see what was happening, but I wasn’t allowed. The parade passed us, but I slipped out of my mother’s hand and ran to the palace. I wanted to get in and see all the people in their finery. So I snuck through a side door. I found myself in the gardens, and there was a lonely boy, a few years older than me, sat on a bench. He was sad, scared, and muttering about standing tall and proud and not getting anything wrong. He saw me and as our eyes connected I realised he was the Prince. He looked at me in my torn clothes and a smile appeared on his sad face. A golden protocol droid arrived and berated him for not being in the throne room, and I turned away to sneak out before I could get in trouble. But If I were still there, I’d find him again.” She finished.
“You’re making me feel like I was there too.” Kylo commented.
“Maybe you were. Make it a part of your story.” Rey smiled at him, encouraging him to start talking.
“A parade.” Rey nodded, encouraging him to continue and taking his hand.
“There was a parade on the day of the coronation. It was hot, not a cloud in the sky. I was worried, because it was time for me to step into my role as heir apparent. I hated to listen and stand around as the adults did everything. I felt like a spare part, so I decided to hide in the garden and talk myself into not screwing up like I did everything else, until I was needed. Then a girl appeared in the corner. She was thin, not too clean, and I wondered how she had dodged in between the guards. I smiled at her as she came to approach me…”
Rey was nodding along, but Kylo could not see her. He saw the small girl she once was, felt the warm sun on his neck, “and then she bowed!”
He could see it so clearly in his mind.
“I- I didn’t tell you that.” Rey stared at him, eyes wide and unsure.
“You… you didn’t need to. I- I remember it!” He exclaimed. “I took your hand, kissed it, and then Threepio was calling for me. You - you disappeared after I turned to speak to him…” Kylo’s hand stroked her cheek as tears were now falling from her eyes as well as his.
“I always wanted to find you,” he whispered.
“Your Highness…” Rey began, but Kylo leant forward and kissed her like he had wanted to on the rooftop.
The fireworks he felt in his stomach were unexpected. He knew who he was, and he was kissing the girl who had found him, helped him remember, who he loved -. He stopped himself, and pulled away to check she was ok. Her eyes were glistening, but she seemed fine.
“Call me Ben.” He said, and kissed her again.
The kiss was full of the unspoken words and longing he had felt since their first kiss in the alleyway on Naboo. His hand moved from her face as she licked at his lip. His mouth opened as he invited her in, pulling her down on to him as she pushed the blanket down his body. Her hands began to run up and down his chest. One of her hands brushed his nipple, and he moaned into her mouth.
“I can’t believe I found you again,” she said to him. His hands had found their way to her ass and were squeezing and kneading it. Her mouth moved from his and to lick and nibble up his jawline to his ears. As she sucked on his lobe, his whole body convulsed off the couch and back down.
Rey continued her ministrations, as her knees slipped either side of Ben on the couch. Ben rubbed his hand up her back, reaching into her hair and pulling her mouth roughly back to his, dipping his tongue inside and drawing hers back into his mouth.
Rey felt herself become wetter as she kissed him hard. This man who she had dragged along for this ride was just who she had wanted to pass him off as. When she had first kissed him, she was just trying to escape from her existence, from those who chased her. She had not expected to find such a warm yet infuriating man. And he was kissing her. This Royal Prince was kissing her, a lowly scavenger girl.
Her knee started to ache, trapped between his thigh and the back of the couch. His eyes searched hers as she pulled away.
“Can we… move? Maybe?” She asked, sitting herself back up.
“It is a little cramped,” he laughed as she clambered off his lap and he swung his legs round. Rey stood as she caught her breath, Ben staring at her. Neither wanted to move, to risk breaking the spell.
“Come here.” Ben said, reaching for her hand and pulling so she could straddle him. Rey felt his hard length beneath her as his lips caught hers again.
“We can just do this.” He breathed out between kisses, his hands starting to run up and down her arms.
“Touch me,” she begged, pressing herself against him.
He kissed her again, one large hand grasping her breast completely. She gasped, her head tipping back.
Ben was amazed at how responsive she was. The beauty in her face as he wrought this pleasure out of her. As he massaged her breast, her nipple began to harden beneath the fabric. She grew impatient and pushed his hand off, pulling the top off, then reaching for his.
He let her pull the vest up and over his head, and she reached to his now exposed chest. It was large and firm beneath her touch.
Ben couldn’t wait any longer; his mouth dipped to her chest and pulled the nipple into his mouth, sucking and biting gently. Rey gasped and her hand found his hair. She had longed to run her fingers through it. His other hand played with her other breast, sending warmth to her core, making her moan.
“You like that?” He asked
“Gods, yes .”
“Good,” he replied, returning his mouth to its ministrations but moving the hand into the waistband of her trousers. Rey whimpered and moaned as he rubbed one long finger along her slit.
Rey leaned her head against his shoulder, her lips finding his neck and kissing as he rubbed against her, muffling her sounds there so as not to wake the rest of the apartment. She did not want Maz or the others to hear her and come find them in such a state of undress.
Ben nudged her head to coax her up to kiss her again, his finger continuing to spread her wetness and circle her clit.
Rey grasped for his belt as the sensations built within her. He shifted his hips together for better access. As she started to push them down, he removed his hand from her and let her stand, pulling him with her. She made quick work of his trousers, then pushed hers down and off as he stepped out.
Unable to stay parted for more than the few moments it took, their arms wrapped around each other again and they came together in a kiss, Ben sinking to the couch.
Rey knelt above him.
“Are you sure? Is this ok?” Rey asked this time. He had only just learned who he was. She did not want to take advantage.
Ben nodded, “Yes.”
He grabbed her hips and, gods, his hands spread over so much of her skin. He pushed her down towards his cock, now free and hard beneath her. He was big, larger than she was expecting despite feeling him through the fabric mere moments before.
She couldn’t help the small moan that escaped her lips as he pushed his way in, or the small sigh that slipped out of both their lips as he eased in fully as she grew more used to him.
“So good… so wet… warm… Rey you’re amazing,” he murmured between kisses.
Rey began to move. Slowly at first, then finding her rhythm.
Their hands never stopped moving, stroking, feeling each other, connected by more than just skin and flesh. Rey had never let herself go like this before, and Ben had only found release in strange women for a night and no more. This felt like more. This felt stronger. She had found him, not just on the streets of Gradsnoke, but the small little boy that had been locked inside for so long who had lost so much. She had been the key, and she was so beautiful as she rode him, finding her pleasure with him as he found his in her.
He felt his balls begin to tighten. He moved his hand from her nipple and slipped it to her clit, running it in circles, nibbling on her neck.
“Come for me.” he whispered as he felt her walls flutter around him, her breathing becoming more erratic.
“Come for me.” he repeated between thrusts. Rey focused on his demanding voice and she heard the authority and strength of her Prince, and she shattered around him, his other arm the only thing keeping her upright as he too came undone beneath her.
As they both came down from their high, their arms stroking one another’s backs and breathing deeply, Ben gave her one more kiss
“Incredible” she replied, kissing him back. He held her in his arms for a long moment as they absorbed the reality of what had passed between them.
They pulled some clothes back on, not wanting to be found naked, but they did pull the sheets off the sofas and lay next to one another on the living space floor, Ben wrapping his arm around Rey and pulling her close. They fell asleep quickly, and neither knew anything until the quiet cough of Maz awoke them in the early morning light.
“Good morning,” Maz said to them. Rey jumped up off the floor as Ben looked to the floor, running a hand through his hair.
Rey disappeared to the bathroom, leaving Ben and Maz alone.
“I remember, Maz. You were right. I’m him. I’m - Ben.”
“I’ve known you were for a while. How did you remember?” Maz replied.
“I had a nightmare, Rey started telling me about how she got into the palace gardens one time. And I remembered as she told me. I remembered part of the story she didn’t tell me, that only I could know.” He stood off the floor as he talked, pulling the blankets up and folding them. He placed them on the side of the couch as Maz got the coffee maker going.
“That won’t be enough to prove it to Anakin, I’m afraid.” She replied, “What else do you remember?”
“It’s still patchy, but my grandfather will remember me. He has too.” Ben said, his hand reaching for the ring again and twisting it around his finger. “Look! We have the ring from the dagger!”
Maz smiled sadly. “That is also something we could have found anywhere. I want you to be ready for anything today could throw at you.”
Ben took a mug from her and drank it quietly. Poe and Finn appeared moments later, coaxed out by the smell, and the sound of the fresher finally stopped, but Rey moved quickly from the bathroom into the small bedroom. Ben’s eyes followed her, and he went to stand, but Maz pushed him back into his seat with a glare and went to the small bedroom herself. Maz knocked on the door, and went inside.
“What happened? He told me he remembers he’s the Prince now. And I see him wearing Anakin’s ring - where did he get that?”
Rey was running a brush through her damp hair, Maz against the door.
“You know what happened. We had sex.”
“Oh I know that part. I heard you. You know you can’t hide that from me. I saw it coming from day one, child. But how did he remember?”
“I told him about the day I met him. He remembered I bowed, not curtseyed. Bowed. Someone who wasn’t there may have embellished with a curtsey, but that wouldn’t have been me. You know that. When I knew it was him, when he remembered… it just happened.” Rey sat on the bed, Maz came to sit next to her. “But it was stupid. We shouldn’t have done that. He’s about to become the Prince. Prince’s don’t marry scavengers. This is a one-time thing. It can only be a one-time thing. This time tomorrow, he’ll be back where he is meant to be.”
“You can’t know that. His mother married a smuggler!” Maz replied.
Rey just shook her head. “It can’t happen. I’ll remember what we had forever, but he can’t be distracted by this tonight. We have a job to do.”
“Just... try not to break his heart?” Maz said as Rey stood to head back out and face him. She nodded, and left.
Ben’s eyes lit up the moment he saw her, and he moved to the couch to sit with her.
“Morning, sweetheart,” he greeted
“Hi.” She replied. Ben moved to kiss her but she turned her cheek towards him instead. He sat back, looking at her with his brow furrowed.
Poe and Finn watched them silently, Poe with his arm around the back of Finn’s chair, before deciding to break the tension.
“Are we all ready for tonight?” Poe asked.
“I hope so.” Ben replied. “I still don’t recall everything, but at least I know who I am now.”
The apartment door buzzed and Poe went to the comm unit to answer. The clothes they had ordered had arrived.
Rey got up to go down with Poe to collect them, leaving Finn and Ben alone.
“You’re really him then?” Finn asked while the others were away.
“Yeah. I just…. Rey helped me remember.”
“She did more than that if those noises were anything to go by last night,” Finn joked.
“Oh hells, you heard that?”
“The entire complex did, man. But don’t worry. Poe has had to field off some complaints about the noises we were making yesterday.” Finn pushed him lightly on the shoulder, “Who’d have thought we’d get so lucky? Escaping that awful place and finding romance.” He smiled and headed back to Poe’s room to change, leaving Ben alone.
What a night. What a morning. It was all too much for Ben’s brain to keep up with. He knew who he was, and he had the girl of his dreams, who had helped him realise it all.
He didn’t have a chance to talk to Rey about what had happened as Maz was drilling him on all the things he needed to know for the evening. It was a crash course in all things royal. As he was drilled, more memories began to spark in his mind of the rough tutoring he experienced under his Uncle, but also of daily palace life. Whenever a memory rose to the surface, he’d tell Maz who would help give context, or explain more about the people and things he was remembering.
“We can’t spend too long on that though. That will continue to come back to you. Now, walk for me again!” She snapped.
Rey disappeared with Finn and Poe after a couple of hours to collect lunch and the boys’ clothes for the evening.
Ben longed for a break, but Maz was insistent they stay and train. Finally, Maz paused to get them some water.
“About what happened last night, between you and Rey,” she began
Ben nearly choked on his water. He coughed it up and replied, “Yeah. About that. I’m sorry if you heard…”
Maz raised her hand to stop him. “That’s not what I’m worried about. There’s not much you can sneak under my nose. No, Solo. I want to know if you were serious about it.”
Ben placed his water on the side. “I’m completely serious. Why, isn’t she?”
Was that why Rey had been avoiding him? It hadn’t felt like a one-time thing, but maybe he had misread the situation.
“No, my boy. I believe she is just as serious as you. And that scares her.”
Maz pulled back from Ben as they heard the door handle turn. Rey, the boys, and BB-8 were laughing as they came through the doorway, although Rey stopped when she saw Ben and Maz talking.
Placing the bags she was holding down on the table, she excused herself.
“I need to get ready for this evening! Maz, I’ll use your room!”
Ben moved to grab her arm but she was too quick, and disappeared into the small bedroom.
When they had eaten, Maz dismissed the boys, including Ben, to get changed. Ahsoka had arranged a transport for them that would be arriving in an hour to take them to the ball. Once changed, they lined up for Maz to inspect. Rey finally reappeared from the small bedroom, and Ben was speechless again. With Maz’s approval, Poe and Finn linked arms and headed out. Remembering his training, Ben offered his arm to Rey. To his surprise, she took it and they followed the boys out with Maz bringing up the rear.
“You look very handsome tonight,” Rey whispered as they walked.
“Thank you, you look beautiful. In the dress. And out of the dress. But not… fuck. I’m making a mess of this.” Ben looked down at her, as she was pressing her gloved hand to her mouth to stop her snickering
“I know what you mean, Ben. And thank you.”
They took the transport Ahsoka had sent for them to the Saber Hotel where the Republic Day Ball was to be held. Ben bounced his legs in the back as Rey tried to calm him by holding his hand and telling him to breathe. He didn’t know if this would be enough, if he could show his Grandfather he was who he knew himself to be. The tux felt uncomfortably warm, but Rey’s hand in her white glove was keeping him centered. She had seen him this far, he could trust her to see him that bit further. Things had been strange today, but he had come to trust her implicitly. She would not do anything now to hurt him.
Finn and Poe were out first, arm in arm waving at all the cameras that were snapping at the rest of the rich and famous, even though they were not, and a blonde woman with a headset came over to usher them up the stairs.
Ben heard a quick “Hi Kaydel” from Poe to the woman, before Maz was out as well.
“Are you ready?” Rey asked him. Looking and feeling like he was about to vomit, Ben nodded anyway and that was enough for her to pull him out too.
The flashes went off around them, and no one seemed to know who they were. They were merely taken aback by the tall man with the scar across his handsome face holding the hand of a slim, beautiful woman.
She didn’t leave them standing on the welcome carpet too long, instead pulling him along quickly. Kaydel checked them off on the list and ushered them inside. Poe was already chatting to a number of people, introducing Finn, and had a drink in his hand. He was describing one of his cargo runs that had been a little more dangerous than their own escape from Naboo.
Rey caught up with Maz, who was talking to a large Wookie near the bar.
“Come on,” she said, “This’ll be a lot easier with some liquid courage inside you.”
Anakin stood towards the back of the room, talking with some senators about the latest trade wars. Well, Ashoka was talking and he was silently looking around the room for anything else to distract himself with, nodding whenever the Togruta looked his way. She would always update him later. The woman was a good aide and an invaluable friend. She knew how hard he had taken giving up the search, but she would be there for him through the continued grief, and pick up the slack he left behind. Rex was there at the door, his ever present bodyguard, keeping watch for any potential threats that may come his way, but he doubted the old man could protect him from Snoke’s assassins.
Finishing off his drink, he touched Ahsoka’s arm to indicate he was going for a refill. As he made his way through the crowd, he was struck by the sight of a tall man, head above the crowd, arm in arm with a girl - and was that Maz? That wasn’t important. The boy - man, stood exactly as his grandson had. The eyes were like looking at Padme, come alive again. But there was a large scar across his face. Was that what had kept him away for so long?
He could not think this way.
He had decided to refuse to hope any longer, hadn’t he? He would never find his grandson. This was just another fake, and knowing Maz that was exactly what this man was. A very good fake, but a fake nonetheless. He threw his glass on the floor and marched off to the window. This had all been a very bad idea.
Ben saw the man he knew was his grandfather starting to move towards the bar, but catching his eye, throw his empty glass and walk away. Ben swallowed hard as Rey turned to face him, handing him a champagne flute.
“To us! To finding yourself, and your grandfather!” She said proudly, lifting her glass. Ben continued to stare in the direction he had seen his grandfather go. Rey looked over her shoulder.
“What’s up?” She asked, and she caught sight of the cloak his grandfather had been wearing. That damn cloak.
He was so frightened. Rey could see it in the tense way he held his shoulders and the way his eyes were so fixed on the space the cloak had left behind him. He had to keep his nerve and see this through. It was why they had come here. Why they had fought so much to get off the planet. He was about to find his home and his family, discover what it meant to be loved as she had when Maz had taken her in.
“Come on.” She said, taking his hand as she had so many times in such a short space of time. “We’re reuniting you right now.”
Ben followed behind her as she pushed their way through the crowd towards the large windows where they had seen Anakin retreat. If these people only knew who he was they would be tripping over themselves to get out of there.
She bumped into the back of a Togruta woman.
“Sorry!” She said to her, but the woman grasped her shoulder. Damn it, she was so close to Anakin.
“Who are you, and why are you trying to reach His Majesty?” The woman, who she now recognised as Ahsoka Tano, Maz’s contact with the Prince, asked with a hint of a threat in her tone.
“Please tell His Majesty, King Anakin Skywalker, that I have come to present his grandson, Prince Ben Solo to him. I have found his lost family member.”
Ahsoka stepped back, eyes narrowing as she looked at Rey and then at Ben. Rey could just see Anakin’s shoulders tense and she knew that motion so well after seeing the same pose in Ben numerous times, yet more proof in her own mind that she had made the right decision all those days ago.
“You may tell that woman I have seen enough Prince Ben Solo’s to last me a lifetime,” he bit out viciously.
“This may not have been such a great idea…” Ahsoka whispered to her, “You should go… tell Maz I’m sorry.”
“Go tell her yourself. Ben - Stay here.” Rey snapped, pushing past her.
“Your Highness, my name is Rey Kanata. I was born and lived on Naboo for many years before Maz Kanata found me and brought me up as her own. I met your grandson once before the invasion, and I believe the man I have found is him. If you would only meet him and talk to him yourself, you would see.”
Anakin rounded on her.
“Rey Kanata?! I should have known Maz would have come crawling with her grubby little hands as soon as she heard about the reward. She may have managed to palm her other little smuggler off on my daughter but she will not take any more from me. I’ve heard all about your scheme to find someone to pass off as my grandson so you can escape that life and rebuild her cantina. I will not stand for it.” He waved his hands widely at her. “You deserve to go back to that small, pathetic rock and scavenge under that brute Snoke for the rest of your days.”
“You listen here, your Royal Highness, ” Rey spat back at him, “that man is your grandson whether you believe me or not, and you will meet him and everyone will get their own happy ever after, do you hear me? ”
A bearded, greying man grabbed her arm and looked over her shoulder.
“Everything alright, sir?” he asked the Dowager King.
“Yes Rex, it is now. Please remove her from my sight.”
“Come along now dear.” He pulled her along, back towards the entrance, and Maz ran along with her. Even with Maz’s cries to her old friend to let Rey go, they were thrust outside and the guards there would not let them re-enter.
“Well, that went well.” Maz hit her on the arm. “You leaving Ben alone in there to face the piranhas.”
Rey had sat on the steps, head resting on her knees. She hadn't wanted that to go down that way. She had royally screwed up.
“What do you mean? I thought he had gone back to you. I told him to wait for me nearby but when I didn’t see him come with me I assumed he had gone to wait with you or Poe and Finn.”
Maz shook her head. “He wasn’t anywhere there.”
“Where could he have gone? I hope he wasn’t upset by anything Anakin or I said…”
Ben had heard every word, and marched off as he realised this had all been a game to her. He couldn’t believe he’d been taken in by it. He pushed through the crowds, some turning to look at the man with the scar, and as he found a quiet corridor to calm down, he didn’t notice the ginger man behind him, or the syringe he held, until it plunged into his neck and he fell against the wall…
Oh no! What's happened to Ben? Will Anakin ever believe that he is the Lost Prince?
Find out on Friday! (I've decided to update three times a week, so this should be finished in just under two weeks!)
Chapter 11: An Act of Desperation
Ben awoke to a dark room with a single light hung above him, and a slap across the face.
“Damn you, you piece of shit.” a voice rang through his head. His arms were tied behind his back, and it hurt to open his eyes. His head was pounding, but that voice was familiar.
“Are you awake yet?” the voice shouted close to his ear. Ben pulled away.
You're spoiled with three updates this week! We're really ramping up towards the conclusion now!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chapter 11: An act of desperation
If Kylo Ren was really going to pass himself off as the Lost Prince, Hux knew he would have to head to Coruscant eventually. He had decided against following them to wherever they would hide out and trying to catch them there, as smugglers’ routes would be full of booby traps and he was more likely to lose them or tip them off. It was better to let them think they had lost him.
The Supreme Leader had not taken the news that the band of traitors had escaped, and with one of their own troopers to boot, very well. Hux had been threatened with more punishment, such as he hadn’t experienced since his early days in service, if he failed again.
Hux had taken his ship and left immediately for the base of the Republic, where he knew the Dowager King lived and was seeking his lost grandson. By the time he arrived, the announcement had been made that he was no longer accepting visitors claiming to be Prince Solo, but he was sure that would not stop the smugglers from trying to pass Kylo Ren off as him. There was more than one way to meet Anakin, after all. The Supreme Leader would not be satisfied with the job incomplete - the job was to prevent the Kanata’s from taking anyone to Anakin and passing him off as Prince Solo. Whether the task looked likely or not was not the point. He had to stop them, end them, and kill the pretender. There could be no doubt about his existence. The Supreme Leader had been clear. And Hux would see it done.
When he learned of the Republic Day Ball happening in a couple of days time, he knew he had his opportunity. The Dowager King Anakin always attended, a guest of honour as the exiled and only member of the once royal family of Naboo. All Hux had to do was get inside, and he was sure there would be no way the Kanata’s missed this opportunity to pass off their imposter, especially if this would be a rare opportunity to succeed.
Hux decided to approach the catering team for the event, looking for work. These sorts of events never turned down help, and his cover was secure enough that the simple background check required wouldn’t flag anything too unusual. Being a waiter would grant him full access to the event, but make him mostly invisible to everyone else present. No one paid attention to who brought them their food and drink, as long as it was there. It was perfect.
The day of the ball arrived, and Hux arrived early with the rest of the staff to start setting up the room and be briefed on the correct etiquette for this event. Hux nodded along with the training, and ignored everyone else around him. He continued to check on the long, thin syringe he kept in his pocket with the sleeping serum in it. As long as he managed to deliver it to the imposter near the back stairs, he’d be able to get him out to his transport as a guest who had too much to drink and he was trying to get home discreetly. It happened all the time at these kinds of events.
The hours ticked by, and the guests finally began to arrive. Anakin and his party were some of the first to arrive, but Hux ignored them. If the Kanata’s and Ren weren’t with them yet, he’d need to keep his eyes peeled for when they did arrive.
The crowds continued to thicken, making it harder for him to move around them, but he managed to keep his eyes on the doors. He noticed the traitor trooper who had warned the smugglers of their approach to the old palace enter first with a strange man he didn’t recognise. The two were holding hands, and had such large, bright smiles on their faces, Hux felt his lips curl into a sneer before he could stop himself.
One of the other waiters nudged him, “Put that snarl away or you’ll never work here again!”
Hux ignored the man, and walked closer to the bar that the two had headed towards, and saw Maz enter with Rey and Kylo on her heels. Rey and Kylo were also holding hands, and Kylo looked as if he was about to be sick, but Hux didn’t care. It would mean he was more likely to be distracted. He just needed to continue to move in their circle and wait for the man to break off from the others into a quiet corridor. He was so close.
As he moved around the guests, Maz looked at him a little from across the space, but he was able to turn his back and serve some other people before she could get too good a look at him. The old alien may have only seen him briefly in the hanger at the old palace, but he suspected those glasses she wore gave her sight better than a hawk.
He saw the girl and Kylo move away from the group, and thought his chance may be close, until he saw them approach Anakin. If they got to see him, it could all be over for him. He could not go back to Snoke if that happened. He would have to try and get away, hide in a corner of the galaxy where the First Order could never find him.
But a Togruta woman stopped them, yet the girl slipped past. This could be his chance. He was still a little way off, but Kylo remained standing where Rey had left him. Hux needed him to move away somewhere quieter.
Observing Rey and the Dowager King, their voices were becoming raised and their gestures more wild as Kylo’s eyes darted between them, every expression written on his face for anyone to see. Hux was glad he only ever displayed the rage and disgust he felt on the surface, then no one knew just what was lying beneath.
Kylo suddenly turned, Hux had been too busy focusing on appearing inconspicuous to have heard what was said, but he appeared upset. Good. Kylo would not be paying attention to what was happening around him. Hux followed Kylo out of the room and towards exactly the corridor Hux had hoped he would go down. Hux gripped the syringe in his hand as Kylo leant against the wall. He had no clue Hux was right there, and he took great pleasure in stabbing the needle into his neck.
Kylo let out a small huff of surprise, and collapsed into Hux’s arms. He was able to grab Kylo under the arms while slipping the syringe into his pocket, just as the waiter who had reprimanded him came down to refill his tray from the kitchens.
“Another one?” the man asked resignedly. “There’s always a few. Can you manage him?”
Hux was immediately, not grateful (because he never felt such emotions and would manage by himself if he had to), but relieved that this would all be over quicker.
“Please.” He grunted out, and the other man took the arm hanging by Kylo’s side.
“There’s a room this way he can sleep it off in.” The waiter said.
“No! No… I have a transport waiting for him. He,” Hux had always been quick on his feet, “He asked me to take him home myself if this happened. It’s why I’ve been on the waiting staff here. He doesn’t want to cause a scene. He’ll pay me double what I’ll get for tonight. Just help me get him out?” Hux asked. The waiter narrowed his eyes slightly, but eventually nodded, continuing to drag the hulking figure between them, down the corridor and stairs, to the waiting transport.
With Kylo safely stowed in the passenger seat, Hux shook the hand of the other waiter, jumped in and sped off into the city.
Ben awoke to a dark room with a single light hung above him, and a slap across the face.
“Damn you, you piece of shit.” a voice rang through his head. His arms were tied behind his back, and it hurt to open his eyes. His head was pounding, but that voice was familiar.
“Are you awake yet?” the voice shouted close to his ear. Ben pulled away.
“H..u….x??” He managed to get out, his voice scratchy and throat sore.
“Yes, it’s me. General Hux Junior as you called me, ranting about how I was a screw up and would never be as good as my father if I couldn’t even upgrade a hover bike right. But I caught you, Your Highness. Isn’t that what I should be calling you now?” Hux leant down and braced himself against Ben’s knees, looking him straight in the eyes. “Well, you better have enjoyed that little reunion with your Granddaddy because this is where your happy ending ends. You are NOT the lost prince because my father killed him. You are nothing but an imposter, and I shall kill you, and then kill those who sought to ruin his legacy. Maz, and that traitor FN2187 and his little boyfriend? Oh and not forgetting that lovely Rey. I think I’ll make her suffer before I kill her as well. I may not like standing in my father’s shadow, but being better than him is the one thought that has motivated me my entire life and I’ll be damned if I let you and your friends’ ruin his legacy and tear me down as well!”
Hux slapped his other cheek, and Ben felt his teeth bite the inside and draw blood.
“And once I’m done with you, I’ll rid this galaxy of the little band of rebels that wanted to put you on that pedestal. Oh yes, Kylo, I am going to enjoy this.” Hux rolled up his sleeves as Ben looked up at him from under his eyelashes.
“My name” he coughed “is Ben!”
Hux’s fist connected with his gut.
“Where could he have gone? I hope he wasn’t upset by anything Anakin or I said…” Rey trailed off, uncertain suddenly of whether her actions had been the right thing to do, or whether they should have merely waited until there was another opportunity to present Anakin with his lost grandson. But they hadn’t had time to wait, and Rey could not let herself be spoken to that way, whatever rank this man, this asshole supposedly had.
Ahsoka came running out of the building to where Rey and Maz were stood.
“I’ve spoken to Anakin. He wasn’t happy to discover I’d been part of this, but I may be able to get you invited to a few more things… maybe don’t be quite so direct about the whole thing. I could tell…” She stopped babbling on, finally noticing the tension between the two. “What’s going on?”
“We can’t find Ben. We don’t know where he went.” Maz said calmly.
“Well that’s the whole point, isn’t it? He’s lost!” Ahsoka’s attempt at humour was met by one angry face and the other disappointed.
“Ahsoka, now is not the time for jokes.” Maz started.
“Did anyone see where he went?” Rey asked sharply.
“I’ll go see what anyone knows. Let me call you a transport and get you out of here, though. The guards don’t seem too happy you’re still hanging around. I’ll tell them I was just making sure you knew not to bother his Highness again.” She gave them a wink and a smile, using her comm to call a transport.
Back at Poe’s apartment, Maz made up a pot of coffee as Rey paced the floor, unsure and uncertain of what to do with herself. She could not believe she had let this happen. She was meant to look after the Lost Prince and be the hero who found him. Not the idiot who found him just to lose him again. There had to be something more she could do than merely pace and worry. She needed to get out there and search, but Maz wouldn’t let her.
“We’re better off waiting here just in case he was upset and needed some air. He’ll know how to find his way back.” She had said when they had first arrived. But Rey could not let it rest.
Poe and Finn eventually waltzed in from the party, having avoided being removed from the hotel as they had. They were tipsy, but still looked nervous and uncertain.
“We didn’t see him any more while we were there. He could have left early and gone exploring?” Poe proposed hopefully. Rey glared at him and continued her pacing.
“Ahsoka said she’d comm us when everything was over and she had some more information. You should really rest and try to calm down, Rey.” Finn added. This earned him a grunt and a shove as Rey pushed past him trying to comfort her and continued her march.
Shrugging, Poe plopped himself on the couch, BB-8 coming to rest near his feet, Finn cuddling up, and finding some inane show to watch while they waited for Ahsoka’s comm. At one point, Rey did feel her legs become tired, and she sat at the table. But her restlessness shifted to tapping her fingers on the table until Poe threw a pillow at her to stop. She was about to go up to the rooftop garden again when they started to receive a comm from Ahsoka. They all gathered around the screen as her face appeared.
“Any news?” Rey asked before anyone else could mutter a sound.
“Hi everyone. I spoke to Rex who talked with all the guards, and I spoke to the waiting staff and droids. One of the guards saw Kylo - Ben - whatever - disappear down one of the corridors and a waiter said he helped another member of the team carry him to a transport. That took a lot of persuading, and with a little bit more influence he told me the other waiter had said this was a pre-existing arrangement?” The bemused faces of the group told Ahsoka all she needed to know and had already suspected. “Clearly not. Anyway, they said the man had indulged a little too much and that was why he was helping him out. That sort of thing happens a lot at these parties.”
“Did he remember what the other waiter looked like? Or where the transport went?” Rey asked anxiously.
“We got a fairly good description, and fortunately the venue takes pictures of all their catering staff before they start so they have a record. Do you recognise this man?”
She pulled up an image of a ginger, grumpy man.
“That’s the man who chased us out of the hanger, as we were fleeing Naboo.” Maz commented.
“Finn… Are you ok buddy?” Poe asked. Finn had turned pale and was backing away from the screen. With a slight nod, he swallowed, and began.
“That’s - That’s General Hux.” He sat back on the couch and brought his hand to his mouth, as if to stop the cries that seemed to be welling behind his eyes. Poe moved over to him, taking the fist and turning Finn’s face so he could look him in the eyes. Rey and Maz, and Ahsoka through the screen, waited with bated breath.
“Finn, look at me. You’re not there anymore. He is an image on a screen. You are safe. You are with me.” Finn took some steady breaths as Poe rubbed the back of his hands. “Can you tell us anything more? This is for Ben.”
Finn nodded, but continued to stare at Poe as he began, using his face to ground him in the here and now.
“General Hux is Snoke’s go to man. He will do anything, anything , to rise to power. He commanded my battalion at one point, and while the First Order’s methods are bad by anyone’s standards… His-” Finn pointed at the screen. “He was the devil come to life. If you failed him, you were sent to the - sent to solitary. And there would be pain… and…”
Finn shook his head, unable to continue. Poe brought his head to his chest, rubbing his back.
“I - I need to get him away from the picture.” Poe said apologetically as he ushered Finn into the back room. Rey and Maz turned back to Ahsoka.
“So what do we do now?” Rey asked.
“If he’s really that bad, we need to find him. Fast. How can we do that?” Maz looked back to Ahsoka.
“I can’t do much more without involving Anakin. He’ll be able to pull the strings we need with law enforcement to trace the transport. But I’m not sure he’ll agree to see you again.” She said doubtfully.
Rey brought her hand to her head. “Please, Ahsoka, Ben is who we’re telling you he is. He remembers things he shouldn’t if we’d just trained him up. I,” she paused for a moment to take a breath, “I don’t want him to lose out on his family because I lost my temper and drove him away. And if Hux is as bad as Finn says, he may not have time to wait for me to right my mistakes.”
Ahsoka smiled sadly at the young woman, “I’ll do my best. It may not help much now, but do register him as kidnapped with law enforcement. At least if I can get Anakin on side, they’ll already have his details stored.”
“Thank you, Ahsoka. I won’t forget this.” Maz said.
“As if I’d let you.” She tried to lighten the mood before turning the comm off. Rey immediately brought up another call and started the process of recording Ben as missing and presumed kidnapped. At least it would keep her busy for a little while.
Only four chapters left! I can't believe it!
This has been such an act of love for me and I hope you are all continuing to enjoy it.
Chapter 12: A Man Makes Painful Choices
He would not let her or the man into his life.
However much he looked like Ben.
Sounded like him.
Walked like him.
Dramatically left a room like him.
Yes, he had seen him leave. He could perfectly see the way his words were pulling and tearing at his heart as he ripped into the girl. He saw the precise moment he left, full of rage and sorrow. He could still see the look in his eyes.
The look he had seen in his own when he first realised Padme could never love him back.
Fuck. What if it was him? What if he had destroyed the hope of finding his grandson by denying even the possibility of it being real?
Chapter 12: A man makes painful choices
After his confrontation with the girl, Rey, at the ball, Anakin had excused himself quickly and driven himself back to his apartments. He was distraught, all his emotions coiled and rolled within him. The man had looked so much like his grandson, but he had put that hope aside. And that Maz had found him. It was not fair. She had been coming and going from Naboo for years and only now brought his grandson back to him?
If anyone could pass another person off as a member of his family, it was her. She had always been far too friendly with Han and Chewbacca from their early days before palace life. How and why she had come with them, he did not know. She had never seemed to fit with the palace way of life. Padme had always talked about how it was important that anyone could become more than they started out, as he himself had done, but even he felt there were limits. His beloved Padme would hear none of it, however. Always insisting Maz be included with party invites. It had only gotten worse when Leia had stepped into her mother’s place.
And the girl she had adopted. A scavenger, or so he had learned from his network when he had got back to his study. She had taken Rey under her wing and raised her as her own. And even before she had acted so rudely before him, he had recognised the longing in her eyes when she looked at the man supposed to be Ben.
It would not do.
Whether she was looking at him with longing from love or from the money she hoped he would bring her, he would not let her or the man into his life.
However much he looked like Ben.
Sounded like him.
Walked like him.
Dramatically left a room like him.
Yes, he had seen him leave. He could perfectly see the way his words were pulling and tearing at his heart as he ripped into the girl. He saw the precise moment he left, full of rage and sorrow. He could still see the look in his eyes.
The look he had seen in his own when he first realised Padme could never love him back.
Fuck. What if it was him? What if he had destroyed the hope of finding his grandson by denying even the possibility of it being real?
“AHSOKA!” he yelled, hoping his assistant would be back from covering for him at the party.
Rex poked his head through the doors.
“I’m sorry, sir. She left to make a comm.”
“Get her back. Now. I need her.”
“Right away, sir.” Rex saluted and ran off to find Anakin’s missing assistant.
A few minutes later, she ran into the study. “I’m here, Your Highness.” She said, catching her breath. “I’m sorry, I was dealing with another matter.”
“You’re meant to be my assistant, Snips.” He replied roughly, “Anyway. I need you to bring the girl and the man she claimed is my grandson back to see me. I will give it one more chance.”
Ahsoka would never normally miss an opportunity to joke about him changing his mind, but she shifted nervously from foot to foot, twisting her hands in front of her.
“Well, Your Highness, the thing is…”
Anakin rose to his feet. “Ahsoka. What’s going on?”
“That is the other matter I was dealing with. Ben disappeared from the ball after he left his friends. We believe he’s been kidnapped by a man called Hux, a General of the First Order.”
“We?” He snapped.
“Yes. I was speaking to his friends, the Kanata’s and Poe Dameron, and an ex-trooper called Finn.”
“I knew you were behind this!” He shouted.
“YES! Because I trust Maz, Anakin. She wouldn’t put anyone she didn’t believe was really Ben in front of you.” Anakin waved his arms at her and stalked away. “ANAKIN! I would not have brought them back before you so soon if it wasn’t for the fact he’s been kidnapped.”
Anakin stopped his pacing and looked at her.
“Do you believe he’s truly my grandson?” he asked calmly, the emotions roiling beneath the surface under control for the moment. He remembered General Hux who had arrived with Snoke at the beginning. Whether this man was the same or not, he would not let a potentially innocent person suffer at his hands. He just wanted to be sure of who he was rescuing.
“I believe Maz. That’s enough for me.”
“Then I will trust your belief, but hold off on a final decision until I meet him. And I will meet him. Get me the head of law enforcement.”
After calling law enforcement, Ahsoka commed Maz again, to update her on the situation. They agreed they should head there immediately to help answer law enforcement’s questions.
Rey was so wound up by the time they arrived at Anakin’s residence. Finn had calmed down enough for both Poe and him to come with them and help out. Maz was the first one inside, and Rey was holding on to her staff, her comfort, as much as she could. BB-8 rolled in alongside them. They were shown into the study where the detective was talking with the old man who had been a King.
“Ah, these people should be able to give you more information,” He said, rising from his seat and gesturing to them. “I believe they first reported him missing.”
Rey was surprised at the change in his demeanour. He was cordial and polite, no hint of the anger and hate he had shown her only a few hours ago.
“Please, tell us what more you know. We already have the first details you gave us, but if we’re to make progress, we need some more information.”
Rey nodded and began telling them all she knew. Ahsoka came in when Rey’s knowledge waned, and she passed on the details of the transport Hux and Ben had been seen leaving in.
Once the detectives had enough information to start the trace, Anakin invited Maz and her team to sit down around his desk, calling for R2 and Threepio to bring refreshments.
“Now, Rey, Maz, I should apologise for the way I reacted. It has been very hard for me the past eighteen years, and while I can not promise that I will accept this man as my grandson, I will not let him suffer because others believe it so. Whatever else he is, he is one of my subjects. However far removed from them I am, I am responsible for them, and I will do what I can for those I can.”
Rey and Maz were stunned. Maz had never seen him so regal. It seemed he had absorbed or was projecting part of Padme and Leia. Maybe their loss had helped him realise what he was meant to be, how he was meant to behave, or he just wanted to honour their memory. Whatever it was, this was not the King she had expected to meet.
“I too am sorry, your highness.” Rey replied. “I reacted in a way I should not have, but I am so convinced of your grandson’s identity I let my enthusiasm take over. I only hope we find him soon so you can both be together again.”
Threepio and R2 entered at this, and BB-8 beeped excitedly and rolled over to them. R2 beeped back.
“Oh, hello there. We haven’t seen you for a long time.” C3PO said, carrying the tray of drinks to the desk and setting it down.
Anakin smiled politely at the new droid in his midst. “You got your droid back I see,” he said to Poe.
“Yes, Sire.” He replied, “Thank you, for looking after me all these years, as well.”
“You weren’t supposed to know about that.” Anakin glared at Ahsoka who shrugged.
“Are we just going to wait around here?” Maz asked. “If I know you, that is not like you.”
“Of course not. I was just making sure you were refreshed before we started.” Anakin finished his drink, and called for Rex and the other guards to come in. “Did you find it?”
“Yes sir. The transport headed to the lower levels of the city, and disappeared into some back streets. We eventually picked it up again on foot outside one of the old, abandoned cantinas. We didn’t want to do anymore without you. We know you want to be there.”
“Good job, men. Come on then. Let’s go rescue my grandson.”
They finished their drinks, and stood.
Standing a few streets away from where they believed Ben was being held, Rey gripped her staff as they went over the plan one more time. Their hope was to catch Hux unaware and take him down quickly. They suspected he was working alone, and that they would enter via the front and back, with Rex and his men around the perimeter to prevent escape through the windows. Poe and Finn had blasters, as did Maz. Ahsoka held two long swords as well as a blaster in her waistband, and Anakin was armed to the teeth with blasters, knives, and a long sword as well. He may have been old now, but he had kept his skills honed from his early life as a monk assassin before he fell in love with Padme. He never knew when he might need to kill someone, like now.
“Are we ready?” he asked the group. Each gave him a slight nod, some more tentative than others. Rey was unsure, she just hoped Ben was doing ok in there. But she knew she had to pull herself together if she was going to be of any use. As she neared the back entrance, they heard a scream and her heart tore in two.
Ben hurt all over. He could not tell where one pain ended and another started. This was it. He was going to die here, knowing who he was but unable to be reunited with his only family. He was going to die without seeing Rey’s beautiful face and telling her how he felt. Without trying to talk to her about what had happened between them, and the real reason she had brought him here. Hux had left him alone for a few moments, and he could taste the blood from the pain on his lip, his right eye was swollen shut, stretching his scar. He imagined he’d have a few more by the time Hux was done. If he was allowed to live.
Hux had said something about taking him back to the Supreme Leader, to present him as a gift to show the work was done, but he wasn’t sure if that meant dead or alive. Maybe the Supreme Leader would want to kill him himself. He was sure of one thing though, Hux would take whichever option that would give him the best reward, the biggest achievement. Hux was after power, and Ben suspected he wanted the very seat in which Snoke sat.
Ben tried to fiddle with the restraints at his back, wiggling his hands back and forth looking for any give they might have. As he did, his hand brushed against the hilt of the dagger he had forgotten was in the back of his trousers. The restraints felt like fabric, if he could just grab them…
“Have you recovered enough for us to begin again?” Hux said, entering the room again with a vicious smile.
“”Fuck you” Ben replied. He would not break for this man. Not now he had found his family. If his family accepted him or not, he no longer cared. He knew who they were, that would be enough. And he could start his own family - with Rey.
“Such language from the mouth of Royalty! I am surprised. Maybe I should cut out your tongue, teach you how proper men are meant to speak. But no, I want you to speak your traitorous lies that will condemn you. Instead, I don’t think you need your fingers, do you? Or your hand?” Hux pulled a red hot blade out from behind his back and walked towards were he sat. Ben couldn’t help trying to wriggle away, and as he did, he tried to reach the blade at his back. The heat coming from the blade was more than he could stand as Hux leant it towards his face as he freed the hand he was going to cut. Ben couldn’t help the cry that came from within him due to heat.
Hux cried out as a blaster bolt hit him in the shoulder, but Ben’s hand was free. He grabbed the blade and swung it at Hux’s neck, but he dived out of the way as his new friends stormed the room he was in. Hux was crouching behind a table, letting bolts fly, and then he saw his grandfather sweep in, the blade he had been given so many years ago fell from his hand as he watched the man walk calmly through the blaster fire and pick Hux up by his neck and started to squeeze.
Ben could only stare as the man who had pursued him and would have eventually killed him began to lose consciousness. Rey was then suddenly at his side, freeing his other arm and releasing his leg. He looked at her, trying to see her eyes, but she kept hers focused on the ropes. Ben ran from the chair and pushed his grandfather’s hand away from Hux as the man’s eyes rolled shut.
Thank you for your continued support of this fic! Only three chapters left to go!
Chapter 13: The only thing I lose is...
Anakin stared at the man who had the strength to stop his death grip - this man who, now he was closer, was clearly his grandson. Even through the black eye, cuts, and marks that had been left by the monster now slumped unconscious at his feet, still breathing unfortunately, he was certain. The man was also holding the dagger he had given Ben all those years ago, and the Naberrie-Skywalker ring was on his hand.
“Ben?” he asked quietly, not quite believing it even now.
“Grandfather?” Ben replied, just as quietly. Anakin dropped the sword he had been holding and pulled the man into a hug, tears streaming freely down his face.
Ahsoka had called Rex and the other guards in as soon as Hux had dropped. They bound his arms and carried him out to deliver him to law enforcement. Rey, Maz, and the boys stood near the chair Ben had been kept in, watching the reunion take place before them. Rey felt her eyes begin to prick with tears.
This was it. She was losing him. After the night they had spent together, she wanted to be wrong about everything; who he was, what his identity would mean, so that they could stay together. Ben would need to marry someone of his station, someone high up from another planet up may be able to help create the political force necessary to oust Snoke from Naboo. She could not hold that clout. Better for her to disappear, to fade away. Be a memory he could remember and smile about, because she had helped him find his family. Because she a smuggler and conwoman, and a scavenger. Prince’s did not settle down with the likes of her.
As Anakin and Ben pulled apart so he could look over his bruised body and call for medical assistance, and the others rushed forward to make sure he was ok, Rey slipped out the back. Of course Ben would be ok.
He had everything now.
And she was left with nothing again.
She didn’t even want the reward any more.
She would slip away on a cargo ship leaving the planet and set herself up somewhere new. It could be done. She just had to get away.
Rey found a transport waiting for her just around a few more streets, left quite haphazardly by their owner. If they hadn’t wanted someone to take it, they shouldn’t have left it there. This was the dodgy part of Coruscant after all. Booting it up, she headed straight back to Poe’s place to grab her few belongings and some credits. It didn’t take her long. She had left most of her things on the Falcon, figuring they’d pick it up again in a few days. It would be a shame, but she was used to managing without. She could just set up somewhere new and make a new life.
Finding a data pad, she typed up a quick note to Maz.
I’m so sorry to leave this way, but I can not remain here any longer. Our task is complete, and I do not want the reward money. I can make ends meet, you taught me well.
I don’t know where I’m going or what I’ll do, but I can not stay here. You lived their life, you were a part of the Royal Court before, and as I looked at you all with the King and Prince again, I knew I would never fit in there.
I hope you can forgive me for leaving. You will always be the mother I never had, and I hope our paths will cross again, but please don’t look for me.
Her eyes began to water again as she thought of him. His large, dark eyes. His long, black, curly hair that felt so silky through her fingers. His large heart beneath years of hurt and uncertainty that created his hard, angry shell. The way he had held her as they slept as if she was the most precious thing in the galaxy. She pushed her rising feelings back down hard.
Tell Ben I hope he is happy now he has found his family, and he got what he wanted. I wish him a long and happy life.
She set the data pad on the table and left the apartment, heading to find a ship to take her as far away as she could get.
Ben collapsed as the medical droids helped him out of the abandoned cantina, the stress his body had endured the past few hours finally taking its toll on him. Anakin remained by his side, watching every move the droids made to make sure they were treating him well. They wanted to take him to one of the hospitals, but Anakin demanded to be returned to his residence as he commed for his personal doctors to meet him there and prepare for their arrival.
Maz and the boys held back, talking and making plans with Ahsoka to come along in the morning to check up on him. Maz had noticed Rey leave, but expected to find her back at the apartment. The girl had been full of tension the past few hours, she probably just needed some time to go and rest away from the others after seeing Ben was safe and reunited with his grandfather.
Poe and Finn were bubbling over with excitement after the action; talking about heading to a store before going back to the apartment to grab some drinks and food and party the night away.
“Calm down, boys,” Maz cautioned. “We need to make sure Rey is ok with your plans. I may be able to tolerate it but she seems a little wrung out by everything.”
Poe and Finn wisely chose to look chastened as Maz waved their farewell to Ahsoka and they went back to the apartment.
As soon as they entered, Maz knew Rey wasn’t there. Her things hadn’t been dumped were they fell as she often did when tired and heading straight to rest. Maz did notice the data pad propped up against a cup on the table, and she dashed over to see the note that had been left.
“Is everything ok, Maz?” Finn asked.
“She’s gone.” Maz replied simply, sitting at the table, her head resting on her hand. “I should have seen it coming. How do I explain this to their Majesties?”
Poe opened his mouth to respond. “That was rhetorical, Dameron,” she cut him off, “That means there is no answer.”
Finn went to sit with her, but Maz gave him a look that suggested she wanted to be left alone.
Poe took his hand, and they headed back to his room. There was nothing to be done. This was all they could do. Rey had decided to leave, and Maz would need to tell Ben. And that was it.
Anakin watched his grandson float in the bacta tank. Ahsoka and Rex had both tried to convince him to go to bed, and had even sent C3PO to stand with him and spout facts about the problems insomnia could cause. But he couldn’t take it in. It was just white noise. His only living family was before him. And Ben was hurt, thanks to him. He would not leave Ben’s side until he was whole and healed again. Anakin had gone for days on the floor of his study when he thought they were all dead. He could go for a day or two while his heart started to come back together again.
“I’m sorry I didn’t believe her.” Anakin said as he watched. “I’m sorry it took you being beaten and tortured for me to put aside my hurt and listen.”
Anakin watched and waited, apologising for the things he had done wrong. He gripped the dagger he had given this man when he was a boy. He could hardly wait to hear the stories of how he had survived, of what had happened, of why he hadn’t come back to him sooner, but there would be plenty of time for stories in the future. For now, he would stand and wait.
Ben awoke in a warm, comfortable bed. The room was bright, and there was an old man in a seat by the bed, slouched in sleep. Ben’s head hurt, but most of his wounds seemed to be healed. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he recognised the sleeping man as his grandfather. He coughed lightly, hoping to rouse the man from sleep. The old man stirred and sat up in his chair again.
“Ben? You’re awake! How do you feel?” Anakin asked.
“Better than I probably should.” He tried to sit up a little straighter and winced. “Although it still hurts.”
“The doctors say you should be back up and about in a few days. You just need some rest. The bacta tank has done most of the work.”
Ben nodded, but was surprised to see there was no one else there. “Where’s Rey?”
“Your friends went back to their apartment to rest, but they will be here in a couple of hours. You can see her then. But Ben - I have so many questions!”
“I’m sure you do.” Ben replied. When Anakin realised he was not going to get any more voluntarily, he asked the question at the forefront of his mind.
“Why did you not come back to me sooner?”
“I had no memory of you. After the invasion, I was found in the woods with this,” he pointed at his scar “on my face. I was taken to the medics, and I spent weeks healing. I barely spoke. I did not know my name or anything about what happened. It’s only since being with Maz and Rey, who so firmly believed in who I was,” he swallowed, unsure on that fact now “that I started to remember who I was. My nightmares that had haunted me for so long - the people in them became more focused. I could see your faces. You called me Ben.”
Anakin listened well, letting him speak without interrupting with all the further questions in his mind. Now Ben was speaking, he didn’t want to risk stopping him.
“Then, they showed me the dagger you gave me, and I had the worst nightmare I have ever experienced. Rey was there, and she told me a story of how she met me as a child. And I remembered as she spoke. She invited me to recite it to her, to encourage my memory, although maybe she just wanted something else I could tell you to convince you of my identity. But anyway, I remembered something she hadn’t said. Even she was shocked.”
“And since then?” Anakin prodded.
“I’ve remembered more pieces. Not everything, but I remember you giving me the dagger, and showing me the hiding place for the ring. I remember parts of the last days before the invasion. I think I got into a ship but it was shot down. That’s how I probably ended up in the woods with this scar.”
“I had heard of your escape. I hoped that you had survived, even though Snoke tried to convince me to give up the chase. I just hope it’s not too late to save our people now.”
“What do you mean, our people?” Ben asked. “You abandoned them. Did you even try and fight for us? We’ve lived for so long under his power!” He could feel his anger starting to bubble away, but tried to focus on the happiness he had felt at first finding his grandfather. He didn’t want this to be the way their reunion went, but he had been one of those ‘people’ of his grandfather’s. Why hadn’t he done more?
“I know. I tried, Ben. I sought the support of the senate, but I was never the politician your grandmother or mother were. I don’t know why they sent me to find help, but they did. The senate wouldn’t listen, because by the time I got here it was too late. Everyone was - they were-”
Ben reached over for his grandfather’s hand where he had come to stand next to him by the bed. Anakin took a steadying breath before continuing.
“When I first learned you may have survived from Poe, I started a search immediately. But Snoke’s reach is far. He threatened the planet, threatened to blow it up and leave it behind. Knowing you may still be living there, I gave up the search and hoped you’d find a way back to me eventually.”
“Then why did you send out another call to find me? Doesn’t Snoke’s threat still stand?”
“It does, but, Ben. I’m dying. I’m an old man, and I know I must soon pass away. The chance to see you one last time…”
“I’m glad you did, Grandfather. I have always wondered who I am, and now I have you back for whatever time we have left.”
C3PO entered the room. “I’m sorry to disturb you, sir, but the doctors have advised you both get some rest.”
“Thank you Threepio.” Anakin said. “Try to sleep some more. Your friends will be here soon.”
Anakin moved away from the bed, and Ben rested his head back on the pillows. He did not want to sleep. He wanted to see Rey. He needed to know why she had truly recruited him to her scheme, and whether he was just a credit bantha. Why had she slept with him? Had it all meant nothing to her?
But his eyes grew heavy, his body winning the battle with his mind, and pulling him back into dreamless slumber.
He was woken a few hours later by R2D2 beeping at him, telling him his friends were here. He went to get out, but the droid insisted he stay there. His friends would come to him. Poe and Finn entered first, with BB-8 at their feet, and Maz behind them. He craned his neck awkwardly, waiting for Rey to appear.
“How’re you doing? You look pretty good for someone who was beaten half to death!” Poe joked. Finn hit him playfully on the arm.
“You can’t say that!” He hissed at his partner.
“Well I just did.”
Ben barely heard them, staring at Maz, who was avoiding his gaze.
“Maz. Where’s Rey?” He asked coldly.
Ben’s hands tightened on the sheets, his heart racing.
“She took her reward and didn’t even bother to see I’m alright?! Where is she?!” He shouted, throwing the bed cover aside and marching out to the corridor shouting her name.
C3PO saw Ben leave and waved his arms as he followed Ben, telling him he must return to bed. But Ben ignored him. He marched around the residence, looking out of every window for the retreating figure of a woman with three buns on her head.
Anakin heard the shouting and was distressed to see Ben in nothing but his pyjamas stalking around his home.
“Ben! What is going on? Why aren’t you in bed?!”
“Where is Rey? Why hasn’t she come to see me before claiming her precious reward?!” He spat at his grandfather’s feet.
“I’ve not seen her. She didn’t come with the other’s and there has been no talk of rewards yet. I thought you would want to be included in those discussions.”
“She didn’t come?” Ben asked, his eyes widening, all anger falling away and confusion rushing in. “Why would she leave?” Everything he knew, or thought he knew, did not explain her leaving.
“Maybe you should ask her friends.” Anakin replied, turning back to his study. “And get back to bed!”
Ben stood for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts as C3PO came up behind him.
“Please, sir, you should not be out of bed.” Ben followed the golden droid back to his bedroom where his friends were sat looking around awkwardly as he came back in. Once he was settled, he turned to Maz.
“Where did she go? Why did she leave?”
“She was gone by the time we got back from the cantina. She did leave me a note, saying her job was done now you had found your family. She said she was glad you found what you always wanted. I don’t know where she has gone and she asked me not to go looking. I intend to let her go.”
Ben nodded and let the issue lie while his guests were there. He thanked them for finding him, and all they had done to reunite him and his grandfather. They agreed to discuss rewards and the future at another point, when he was feeling fully healed and they said their goodbyes.
Ben was left alone in the bed with only his thoughts for company.
Thank you for reading and all the comments. It really means so much to me.
Chapter 14: Keep your nerve and see this through
Rey had to wait a night at the hotel near the space port as there was no room on any ships leaving that night. She spent the evening resting in her room, thinking through all the decisions again. She repacked her things, and noticed the dress she had worn to the ball, running the silk through her fingers. Remembering running her hand through the silky locks of Ben’s hair.
No. She wouldn’t think of him.
The next morning, she caught the cargo vessel heading to Takodena. She had heard there was a mechanic shop looking for a new hand, and she hoped they’d take her on. She used the last of her and Maz’s money on the ticket - she hoped Maz wouldn’t mind. Maz would, after all, be getting her share of the reward money - so she thought she was ok to use their remaining funds on this. Maz would want her safe.
Meeting her pilot on the runway, she took one last look towards the direction of the King’s residence before following him up into the ship. She didn’t notice the woman watching her and sending a message back to Naboo, and the Supreme Leader.
Two days later, she arrived. She had ignored the crew and stuck to her quarters as much as possible, sending a comm to the mechanic shop to see if they’d take her, and trying to figure out what she was going to do with the rest of her life. Her new manager met her at the cantina, and showed her the shop. It was simple, and basic, but she was making a new start. There were worse places she could be.
“She’s on a cargo freighter, headed to Takodena. She’ll be there in two days” Bazine spoke quickly and quietly into the communicator, and sent the message to the Supreme Leader. Snoke sat back in his throne and considered.
This had not gone the way he had expected. Hux has never failed him before, but when word from his spies came back that he had been captured and the boy had been reunited with Anakin, he knew he could not let it stand.
”Like I always say: if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Snoke said to himself.
Anakin and Ben would be too well protected, for the moment, for him to instigate his plan for them. No. It would require patience to take them out. And there would be more ways to hurt them. This girl - Rey - who had caused the reunion would be an easy target now that she had left the safety she could have had by remaining with the Dowager King.
“Prepare me a ship. A small, indistinct one. I am leaving the planet.” Snoke said to one of his guards. He would start with her. It would be a warning that Anakin and Ben would not be able to ignore.
Ben was given the all clear from his bed rest 24 hours later. He was immediately presented with fresh clothes and introduced to the royal household. He had already met Ahsoka and Rex, and the droids C3PO and R2D2, but there were still a surprising number of people to meet. He was beginning to remember more of his past, and he spent each afternoon talking with Anakin about their history and family, so he could remember as much of them as he could. He had finally found the family he had always wanted, but he wasn’t happy. Anakin noticed the tension in his posture, and finally decided to address it.
“What is wrong, Ben?”
“Nothing. I’m glad to be back with you.”
“I know you are, but I suspect that this is not what you expected it to be.” Anakin prompted.
Ben paused, unsure how to approach this subject. Maz had shown him the note that Rey had left, and he suspected Rey may have left because she was now uncomfortable with his station. There had to be something he could do to show her he didn’t care, but he didn’t know how to approach it, or even begin to find her now that she had left without a trace. He knew his grandfather had come from a lower background than his grandmother, so maybe that was a good place to start. “How did you cope with rising to royalty? From nothing?” Ben asked.
“It was hard, but with Padme’s encouragement I managed. You do deserve this, Ben. I know it must be hard for you-”
“You misunderstand. I’m… I’m thinking of Rey.”
“The girl?” Anakin asked. “Why are you thinking of her? She was pleased with what she did, and she left. I’m quite glad she proved me wrong about her chara-”
“Grandfather, I-” Ben interrupted, “I thought we were - more than just acquaintances. More than someone she was trying to help…”
“Ah.” Anakin replied, seeing so much more than he had been willing to see before. “You love her, and want to know why she left you?”
“I cannot tell you that. Was it because she didn’t want the Royal life? Or did she not really care for you? Are those the questions you are considering?”
“Yes. I - We - The night before the ball, I thought we had come to an understanding. Then she was withdrawn and disappeared right after you found me…”
“You have two options, Ben.” Anakin said simply, Ben turning to look him squarely in the eyes. “You can sit here, mope, and always wonder. Or you can go find her and ask the damn question.”
“But how will I find her?” Ben asked.
Anakin shook his head in disbelief, “We found you, who was kidnapped and taken somewhere deliberately chosen to not be found, and you wonder how you will find a girl who merely took a ship off the planet, probably without covering her tracks?” He laughed and ruffled Ben’s hair. “We can find her.”
Anakin called for Ahsoka, and explained their desire to trace Rey. She disappeared, and they called for Poe. “If you want to get to her fast, wherever she is, you’re going to need the best pilot.” He said by way of explanation to Ben, who was still sat next to the fire, amazed at the speed Royalty and money gave to everything. “Go pack.” Anakin said to him, waving him off to his room.
As he packed his new belongings into his new luggage, Ben’s hands were drawn to his old coat and hat. They may be worn and damaged, but they were what he had come here in. These were the clothes he had worn when he first met, when he first kissed, Rey. He considered packing them and wearing them for when he saw her again, but decided against it. If he wanted to know the truth of why she had left and what the future for both of them held, he must present the truth of who he was.
As he closed the case, there was a small cough behind him. He turned to see Maz there, waiting.
“I see you finally decided to go after her. About damn time.”
“But her note said not to find her?” Ben asked.
“That was to me. And I hoped you would go, so I wouldn’t have to. She loves you, you know.”
“I don’t think so…” Ben began.
“She does. I’ve known that girl since she was 9 years old, I know when she’s in love.”
“So why did she leave?” He snapped.
“That is a question you must ask her. I don’t know if she’ll come back with you, and who knows? You may be the one to stay with her. Just go safely, and look after my girl.” Maz wagged her finger at him, then pulled him in for a hug. “I’m glad we found you, Ben Solo.”
Ben let himself relax, and hugged the small woman back.
“Are you ready, Master Ben?” C3PO said from the doorway. “His Highness asked me to collect you. They have found where Miss Kanata went and Mr Dameron is ready to take you there.”
“Already?” Ben said, pulling away from Maz, who was wiping her eyes.
“Yes sir.” Threepio replied, “I can take your luggage for you.”
“Goodbye, Maz” Ben called as he left the room, Threepio at his back. She nodded, and turned the opposite way down the corridor.
“Are you ready?” Anakin asked his grandson, his own bags packed and being pulled along by R2.
Ben nodded, “As I’ll ever be. Are you coming to, grandfather?”
“I am. I have stayed on Coruscant for too long. It is time I saw a different sky, a different world, and felt space beneath my feet again before I die. And there is something you are forgetting.” Ben looked at his bags, confused about what Anakin could be referring to.
“I don’t think so…” He began, when Anakin pulled the dagger from behind his back.
“I gave you this to you as a child so you remember who you were, that you are royalty. I don’t want to need to give it to you again. Wear it always, as a reminder of who you are.”
Ben took the dagger from Anakin’s hand and slipped it into his boot. Anakin pursed his lips, not entirely approving of where he had put it, but trying to let Ben have the reins of his new identity. He had to remember that while this was his grandson, he was a man now, not the boy he had left behind.
Poe appeared a moment later, and they left with him to his ship. They didn’t want to make a big fuss, or risk Rey learning they were coming after her, so they were keeping the party small. Rex was coming along as bodyguard, and Finn wouldn’t leave Poe’s side. Maz and Ahsoka stood and watched as the cargo ship took off, and left the atmosphere.
A day later they arrived on Takedona, able to move more quickly than the average cargo freighter in Poe’s more advanced ship. The journey had been tense, and Ben barely left his room. Now they had landed, he was desperate to see Rey. Anakin’s network of spies and informants had given them the details of the precise workshop Rey was working in. Anakin, Rex, Poe and Finn all agreed to go to the cantina first and get some rooms for the night. As they discussed payment with the bartender, Ben shifted from foot to foot, glancing at the door and out towards the woods.
“I’m going for a walk.” Ben declared. “I have to try and find her.”
“Ben, you need to wait for us. Let’s get settled in first.” Anakin rested a hand on his arm, trying to soothe his fractured nerves.
“No. I’m going.”
“This isn’t Coruscant, and Rex won’t leave me. You need someone to watch your back. Snoke has people everywhere. You need to stay with us.” Anakin tried to reason.
“I went for years on Naboo without protection.” Ben shook his grandfather’s arm off.
“That’s because no one knew who you were. ” Anakin hissed.
“And no one here does. You’ve not made an official announcement yet.” Ben shrugged. “I have the dagger, and if it makes you feel better I’ll take BB-8 with me. He can signal you if I get into trouble.”
Anakin looked at the droid and back up at his grandson. “Fine. Take the droid. I hope you find the answers you’re looking for.” The group turned back to the barman, and Ben moved off into the trees to find the workshop.
Only one chapter left! It'll drop on Friday, so keep your eyes on your inbox if you're a subscriber. I can't believe this journey is almost over!!
Chapter 15: Bring Me Home At Last!
Oh my gosh I can't believe this is the final chapter.
Before you dive in to this, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has left a comment, kudos, or encouraged me in the dozen or so other ways I have been while I wrote this. To everyone who sprinted with me and gave me feedback. To the numerous beta's. To the ones who suggested chapter titles. This is dedicated to each and every one of you.
And, mostly, to Lauren. You have cheered me on since the start. You kept me going when it all got tough and I couldn't see a way forward. We bonded over this fic so, so much, and this is for you. I hope you love it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chapter 15: Bring me home at last
In the short week since she had arrived, Rey had settled rather quickly into her life on Takedona. She awoke early and went through her forms with the staff. She may not be smuggling or scavenging any more, but the galaxy was still an unsafe place for a woman alone. She needed to keep her skills up.
After an hour of practice, she would have her breakfast before heading into the main workshop, picking up the engine pieces she had been given to work on and put back together. The planet was unaligned, and as such followed no rules or regulations others placed on them. It made it a perfect spot to disappear, as no one who visited mentioned it to others, and it was a great place to find work, as someone always needed repairs.
As she was putting the finishing touches to the latest engine piece to take it back to the ship to install, a figure filled the entrance and cast a shadow over the intricate parts she was fiddling with.
“If you could move out of my light, I’ll finish up on this and then I can help you” she called, but the figure didn’t move. Rey looked up, but due to the way the person was standing, all she could see was their silhouette.
“You don’t need to finish that to help me, Ms Kanata,” a harsh, gravelly voice said. It was familiar in the worst possible way. The figure finally moved, taking a step towards her station, and his face caught the light. It was Snoke himself.
“You.” she said, standing and taking a step backwards.
“You sound surprised to see me. You should not be,” He replied, continuing to move towards her. Rey looked around for anyone else, but the others were all working on ships in the yard. She was alone.
Snoke continued, “As someone who grew up under the rule of the First Order, you should have known I would eventually track down every traitor. Kill ever descenter. It was only a matter of time Ms Kanata.”
Rey continued to back up, reaching for any long item she could use as a staff. Why had she left hers in her room?
“You never leave the planet.” Rey whispered. She had heard stories of his viciousness and suspected he would make what Hux did to Ben look like a picnic.
“Oh, don’t I? Just because I give the impression that is how I work, I can assure you I deliver my punishments personally when the crime is large enough. And treason is the highest crime you can commit.”
Rey was now backed against the wall, and she had nothing to hand. Snoke reached for her neck, and while she struggled, she was helpless as he lifted her from the ground and squeezed. He was so much stronger than he had appeared.
Snoke tutted, “You didn’t even kneel for your Supreme Leader. It will not be a waste to remove you from the galaxy, although if I could have turned you to work for me… oh you would have been magnificent. ”
Rey’s mouth had gone dry. Her feet were flailing, trying to kick or find purchase so she could breathe, but there was nothing to be done. This was it. The corners of her vision began to darken…
Ben saw the workshop in the distance, and as he walked towards it, he saw a tall figure approach the door. He hoped it was just another customer, coming to discuss repairs or alterations to their ship, but the man looked around before making his way into the open space. Ben caught his profile, and gasped. He would recognise that face anywhere. Snoke had come for Rey.
“BB-8, call the others!” he shouted as he started running. Ben did not know how or why this was happening, but he couldn’t let Snoke have her. The sight that greeted his eyes as he entered was startling. The old man had Rey by the neck and was slowly choking the life from her.
Taking every effort to move quietly, Ben weaved between the work stations and parts laying around.
“Good. You will never see another day.” Snoke was saying to the weakened form of Rey. Ben reached into his boot and pulled out the dagger. Rey’s eyes fluttered shut, and his arm plunged into Snoke’s back. Snoke let out a startled cry and turned on Ben. The dagger was wrenched from his hand, but he had managed to grab the sword that was hanging around Snoke’s waist.
“That was for Rey.” He said, as the old man’s eyes widened then narrowed in surprise and anger.
“This is for my family,” he continued as he stabbed Snoke with his own blade. Ben came right up to his face, and snarled at the man who had seemed so great and strong, who had caused so much hurt and pain.
“And this, this is for me,” he whispered in Snoke’s ear as he pulled the blade out and swiped it across the man’s middle with such force, and the blade was so sharp, it passed straight through him. The Supreme Leader was no more.
Ben stared down at him for a moment, before remembering the body next to the once Supreme Leader.
“Rey! Rey, sweetheart, please!” he was crouched next to her, gently shaking her shoulders. She coughed harshly, and Ben watched as her eyes flutter open.
“K… Ben?” she asked, “Is it really you? Or am I dead?”
Ben felt the tears fall down his face as he held her so close but so tenderly in his arms, afraid to hurt her more than had already happened to him. If he had his way, he would never let her go again.
“No, darling. You’re alive. You’re still here.” He pulled her closer to him, and she was able to sit up without his support, but didn’t pull away. She just rested her head on his shoulder. “You’re not alone.” he whispered to her.
“Neither are you.” she whispered back.
They sat that way for a while, not noticing when Anakin, Rex, Poe, and Finn found them, holding each other next to the corpse of Snoke.
When Rey’s boss arrived, he allowed the boys to take her back with them. Ben carried her every step of the way, and tucked her into his bed. The group left them alone after bringing them some food and water. There was much to discuss.
After eating some of the broth and finishing her drink, Ben started to gather his thoughts to ask the question most pressing in his mind.
“Thank you for saving me.” Rey said before he could begin.
“Er, you’re welcome” Ben replied. “But you wouldn’t have needed saving if you’d stayed on Coruscant.”
Rey looked at her hands.
“I couldn’t stay”
“Bullshit.” Ben replied simply.
“No, Rey. Why couldn’t you stay? I thought we had something!” Ben stood and walked towards the window
“We did… we do!” She called to his back. She could see his shoulders tense and curve as his anger built. “Ben… I… I got scared.”
“Scared?” He turned back to face her. “What were you scared of?”
“The truth. That this was real. That now you knew you were you would not want me.”
Ben rushed back over to her “Rey - you helped me realise who I was . How could I not want you? You’re beautiful and clever and made my life wonderful. Why wouldn’t I want to share that with you?”
“I, I don’t know. When you put it like that, it is stupid. But it’s how I felt. I didn’t want to get hurt. I was worried that what happened between us that night was just from the emotions we were caught up in, not real or true. And that you’d forget it. I was protecting myself.”
Ben took her hand, “I’m so sorry you felt that way. Sweetheart… it wasn’t a one time thing for me. I don’t know who I am without you. Yes, I’ve found my family… but it means nothing to me.”
Rey looked up at him with her eyes wide. He had always wondered who he was. How could it mean nothing to him now?
“It means nothing without the woman I love beside me.”
And his lips were on hers. All the passion, fear, and relief of the last week poured out in their touch. Rey’s arms slipped around his neck as she moaned lightly into his mouth.
Far too soon, the kiss ended as Ben pulled away, his forehead resting on hers. Rey bit her lip, then looked into his eyes longingly.
“I’m sorry. We shouldn’t push you further just yet. You need to recover.” Ben rumbled.
Rey sighed as he pulled back, her hands slipping from his neck to rub lightly at her own.
“I suppose you’re right.” She replied, “so what’s the plan now?”
“Honestly? I’m not sure. We wanted to get you to safety first. I guess we’ll go back to Coruscant, if you’ll come back?”
Rey nodded, and the smile across Ben’s face was like the sun dawning into the first day of spring after the longest winter.
“Great! Good. You can rest up, and then I guess we figure out the rest.”
Rey laughed softly, although it hurt her to do so.
“I didn’t just mean our future. What about Naboo? The Supreme Leader is dead now…”
Ben’s eyes widened, suddenly remembering that yes, he had killed someone. The someone who had killed his parents, his grandmother, and enslaved his people for almost two decades.
“Oh… I’m not sure. I guess we may be able to go back, if we can get the support of the senate. We’ll have to speak to my grandfather first. I’m sure he’s already got some ideas. Whatever happens though, you’ll come with me?”
His lips found hers again, sealing her promise into his soul.
Back on Coruscant, Ben showed Rey to her room in his grandfather’s residence. Maz had moved in already, and Poe, Finn and BB-8 were settled into his place, so this was the best place for her.
“How are you feeling?” he asked as she began to explore the space. It was the largest room she had ever had. The Falcon was fairly small, and although she’d lived in the old palace’s pilot quarters, they were nothing compared to this. There was a large, four poster bed in the centre, with ornate drawers and closets. There was a bathroom off to the side, and a window that took up the whole of one wall that overlooked the city.
“Good. I think. The doctors gave me a thorough check, and they say I’m ok, so…” Rey shrugged her shoulders and sat on the edge of the bed, taking in the whole space.
“I’m so glad. When I saw you, in his grip, the life slipping away from your eyes… I don’t know what I’d have done if I’d been just a few minutes too late and lost you for good.” He rested against the bed next to her, not pressing his weight too hard on the bed just yet. Rey turned her body towards him.
“You know what else it means? That I’m well, I mean…” Ben’s eyes looked at hers with a deep desire and longing that made Rey’s stomach drop in anticipation. She looked down, then back up at him from beneath her lashes, before launching herself at him and catching his lips with hers.
She had caught him off guard, but with his legs against the bed he was able to let her momentum push him back on the bed. She straddled him with her legs as he shuffled up the bed, their mouths never leaving each other. When both settled in the center, Rey moved her lips down his neck and towards his ear, nipping and biting as she went, causing him to hiss and moan from the ticklish but pleasurable sensation pulsing between her mouth and his groin.
“Rey, baby, please…” He gasped, his large hands wrapped around her hips, rubbing and grasping in turn as the pulses of desire rose in him. She moaned as she bruised his neck with her mouth as her hands explored his chest.
“I’ve wanted to do this so much. One night would never be enough of you.” She whispered into his ear. Ben used the opportunity to lick and suck on her neck instead, causing her to moan and her back to arch. He wrapped one arm around her back and placed the other on her hip before rolling them to the side so he caught her body beneath his, flipping their positions.
Pulling away from her neck, much to Rey’s dismay, he took a moment to just look at her. She had pushed her way into his life, took him by the hand and dragged him on the craziest adventure, and now he got to spend what he hoped was the rest of his life with her.
“I love you” he said sweetly before capturing her lips again, his hands moving her breasts and starting to rub and circle them.
Rey gasped, caught by surprise by his confession, but feeling her panties flood at the sweet, sensual confession he had made. When he pulled away from her mouth, she couldn’t help the confession that fell from her own, “I love you too, Ben.”
He kissed her neck as his hand moved down her stomach from her breast to the hem of her top, slipping underneath to palm at her again. She wasn’t wearing a bra, not doing much that would require one for her small breasts, and Ben nibbled at her jawline. He certainly didn’t seem to mind their size, enjoying covering them completely with his large hand.
“Off.” He said, tugging at the top, “I want to see you.”
She pushed him back and grabbed the hem of her top, pulling it up and over her head. He stared in rapture as if seeing her for the first time, and he pulled his top off in return. They stared at each other for a moment longer, taking in the moment that they had found each other again and were truly going to be able to experience this together again. The past week had seen them almost lose each other twice, and they needed a moment to take it all in.
Then their hands reached for one another almost simultaneously, mouths colliding again.
“Lay back again,” Ben said between desperate kisses. Rey followed his direction, and he loomed over her, a look of mischief in his eyes.
“Stay still.” He placed his hand on her stomach to emphasise his point. She nodded her understanding and laid her head down on the mountains of pillows. Ben's hands headed straight to her waist band and tugged on both the leggings and her underwear, removing them smoothly and surprisingly swiftly.
“Beautiful” he said, taking her all in. Rey found her hands covering her face. She had never been this bare for anyone to see.
“Rey, hands down.” He commanded, using his prince’s tone that he had started to adopt under Anakin’s tuition. Rey shivered, but obeyed immediately.
“Good girl.” He said, then spread her legs before looking at her closely, enjoying the sight/
“Ben… please…” she whined.
“Patience, sweetheart” and he pressed a kiss to her inner thigh as his hand found her centre. “So wet already. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you like you took care of me.”
His fingers started circling her clit, and Rey gasped at the sudden contact, moaning and sighing his name.
Ben watched as he moved his fingers, alternating between slow circles and firm strokes.
“I’m going to put my fingers in you now, is that alright, Rey?”
“Urgh… gods… yes…”
He needed no more encouragement, and slipped one long finger inside her hot, wet heat. The way she clenched around him sent a thrill of desire to his cock, his balls tightening at the thought he would soon be in her again. Looking at her glistening core, he had to taste her as well.
Rey gasped as his mouth covered her clit, his tongue dancing over the nub and moaning at her taste.
His moan sent vibrations from her core to her head and back again. Her skin felt like electricity was passing back and forth across her. She could feel the tension start to build within her
“Ben, please, more…”
“Don’t worry, baby. I got you.” He paused his ministrations for a moment to talk before diving back like a starving man to a feast and slipped another finger inside, curving them to rub against the fleshy spot within her that caused her to moan from deep within.
And then suddenly she was coming. Her vision went white and full of stars as the waves of pleasure flooded everything. She screamed his name and Ben lapped up every drop of her come.
As she started to come down, Ben lessened the movements with his hand and mouth. Giving her clit one last kiss, he pulled away to look at her flushed and satisfied face.
Rey could only hum in response, looking up at him from under lidded eyes.
“Good. Because I’m not done with you yet.” Ben rose up her body and kissed her again, his pulsing dick pressing into her stomach. “Are you ready for more?” he asked her sweetly.
“Ben…” she sighed, and the smile that burst across his face at hearing his name, his true name, fall from her lips was stunning. As she watched his face, she felt him nudge at her entrance, and then he was in her again, filling her up mind, body, and soul. He was gasping her name as he thrust inside, revelling in her tight, warm, body.
“Rey… sweetheart. I won’t last long. You feel too good,” he whimpered between movements, his hand reaching down to rub at her again, “please, come for me again…”
Rey was still reeling from her previous orgasm, riding on the waves, so with a few strokes she was coming again. As her walls clenched around Ben’s cock, he grunted into her shoulder as he spilled inside her.
They lay still for a few moments, gasping in breaths from the force of what had passed between them.
“Ben… Can’t… breath…” Rey gasped from under him, where he had collapsed on her.
“Oh, sorry.” he pulled back and rolled to the side, before pulling her into his chest and wrapping his arms around her. “Be with me?”
So, there you have it! What did you think?
As an extra thank you, here is a thing I really wanted to add that I couldn't see a way to include. There is a meme of Obi-Wan removing his cloak mirroring the scene at the start of Anastasia where they audition girls and one of them removes her fur cloak and goes 'Grandma! It's me. Anastasia!". It's lurking around Pinterest somewhere, and I looked so hard for a way to include it, but it just didn't fit!
Anyway, Thank you again for sticking with this. It is the longest fic I have written (so far) and it has reignited my love for writing so much.
Catch you in my next fic.
Hint: It include sparkly vampires ;)