He’s warm around her, his face between her palms, his arms holding her to him as they kiss desperately. Knowing that they’ve done it, they’ve won, they’re together at last. All the pain and loss that paved the way to here was not vain because they have found each other, finally, in the clarity that finding their own selves has brought.
They break apart slowly, breathing hard both from injuries and the kiss, and smile at each other, nearly laughing at how happy they are.
“Ben,” she whispers, stroking his cheek as tears roll down her face.
“Rey,” he manages before his eyes roll up in his head and he falls back.
“No!” she cries, catching his head before it hits the ground. “No, no, no, Ben!” She can feel his spirit slipping away from her, away from this plane of existence. “ Ben ,” she whimpers, grasping at their bond. He’s connected to her, tethered to her, almost part of her. He can’t leave her; they’ve only had seconds together as they were meant to be, and she knows they both deserve an ending that isn’t as tragic as their lives have been without each other.
She finds the thread in her that is permanently bound to him and pulls at it with all her strength, fighting against the current that is trying to take him away from her. Fresh sweat breaks out on her body and her injuries flare anew, but she doesn’t stop, reaching for him with all the power she knows she can carry. Around them, the Force swirls up, rising in a sphere of power that holds both light and darkness, wind and stillness, so much noise there’s only silence, but Ben’s still drifting away from her despite all her efforts, fading into the quiet end that all the Jedi have.
You can do this, Rey , she thinks, just a bit more. Be with me be with me be—
Worlds away, on the Resistance base, Maz Kanata holds vigil for the fallen Princess. “May the Force be with you, Princess,” she prays, gazing down at the shrouded figure with hope and grief and reverence. “You are our last hope.”
The Force that still remains around Leia’s body gives something like a sigh and the sheet falls to the table. All that lingers is the feeling that balance has been restored and a wrong righted.
Her tears fall freely onto Ben’s face as she clings to him, his body very nearly transparent — be with me be with me be with me — and the edges of him are fuzzy and shifting and she doesn’t know how much longer she can hold on to him before his sacrifice becomes in vain but she doesn’t have it in her to let go of him, not after she’d just gotten him, not after all she’d been through to win a hopeless war and fight her own darkness—
The Force surrounding them gives one last shriek that echoes her own pain and falls silent. Ben’s body flickers, and she sobs.
A shudder runs through her, accompanied by the pang that normally comes when a Jedi passes, and she sees in her mind Leia’s body disappearing.
At the same time, their bond sparks and hums, and Rey can feel it solidifying, pulling Ben back toward her and returning color and weight to his body. And the relief she feels, as he takes a shallow breath, as she feels his pulse return to his chest, as she can no longer see through him, crashes through her body and wrenches a cry from her.
You are his home now , comes a familiar voice. And if you’d have me, I’d be honored for you to be my daughter .
She only sobs harder, blinded by her own tears but feeling the hand that comes up to cover the one resting on his cheek.
“Rey.” His other hand wipes the tracks from underneath her eyes and soothes the furrow in her brow. “Rey, don’t cry.”
“I can’t stop it,” she whispers, his face finally coming into focus. “I thought–I thought I’d lost you again.”
Ben sits up, grimacing through the pain of at least one broken rib and gathers her into his arms. “I’m here. I’m here. I’m here,” he repeats, as if he’s trying to reassure himself as well as her.
“How could you give your life for me?!” she exclaims, burying her face in his chest.
He strokes her hair, squeezing her tighter. “You’re the only thing I have to protect. I would give much more than my life for you.”
They hold each other for a moment, only focused on how alive the other person is, the warmth that miraculously runs through both of them.
“I heard my mother,” Ben finally says. “As I was dying. She spoke; she said, ‘Thank you for coming home. I love you.’ She gave the Force she had left to me.”
“She spoke to me, too,” Rey replies, sniffing. And Ben understands through the bond what Leia said and why Rey can’t get the words out through the lump in her throat.
They don’t move until Ben makes a sound of pain and Rey knows the adrenaline is wearing off.
“We should go,” she worries, looking around at the ruins of Palpatine’s sick arena. There are ominous rumbles and shifting rock all around them, and she doesn’t trust any part of this planet. “Can you stand?”
“Not by myself,” he responds.
She nods and picks herself up, looking around and locating Luke and Leia’s lightsabers and clipping them to her belt before turning to Ben and offering him her hand. For a moment they both stare at her hand, reminded that she’s never offered it to him before. But he smiles at her, the sight causing her to blink away new tears, before taking it and letting her carefully pull him up. She slings his arm over her shoulder so she can support his broken leg, and together they limp toward Luke’s X-wing.
It’s a tight fit, with two people in a craft meant for only one, but they make it work. They have to. Rey takes them in the air, away from both the Resistance ships and the crumbling Final Order, and they leave Exegol.
No one knows he’s here except Finn, Chewie, and Lando. Rey knows Poe’s too hot-tempered to tell and Rose, well, she doesn’t know Rose that well.
Finn doesn’t say anything when he sees him. Finn hasn’t said much at all after Rey tells him she’s bringing Ben Solo with her and that he needs medical attention and the Falcon. There’s a brief, tense moment when Finn sees him where Rey isn’t sure he’s not going to try to kill Ben, but fortunately, Finn just stands there with his fists clenched.
Chewie and Lando give a warmer welcome, though she can tell Han’s death hangs over all of them.
“There’s medical supplies, food, water, and blankets,” Finn informs her. “I’m sorry that’s all I can do for you.”
She hugs him. “Thank you. I’m sorry for putting you in this position.”
“Anything for you, Rey,” he replies, and she tears up.
A whirring series of beeps makes her turn to see BB-8 barreling toward her.
“You should take him,” Finn suggests. “I’d feel better if he’s with you.”
She looks at the droid and gives a small smile. “Alright, you can come.”
BB-8 beeps again and rolls up to Ben, who raises an eyebrow.
“You should say bye to Poe, at least,” Finn says, as Ben and BB-8 commence an oddly endearing conversation.
“Yeah, you’re right. I should,” she agrees. “I just—” She looks back at Ben, who’s laughing at BB-8.
Finn sighs. “I’ll make sure he’s okay. Just go, or Poe will never forgive you.”
She nods. “Ben, I’ll be right back,” she calls, and he smiles back at her.
People wave to her and call out as she sprints by them, but she doesn’t want Ben to wait long, so she only smiles and waves back until she spots Poe in the crowd and runs toward him.
“Rey!” he exclaims as he sees her. They hug tightly, victory fresh in their minds.
“Poe,” she says sadly, taking a step back.
“What is it, Rey?” he asks, looking her in the eyes.
“I have one more thing I have to do,” she says, gesturing at the two lightsabers on her belt. “And . . . it may take a while.”
“No,” she insists. “There’s a reason you’re General. You’ll be fine without me. I just had to tell you. I’m taking BB-8 and the Falcon with me. I’ll keep in touch, so don’t worry.”
“Be safe, Rey,” he tells her, understanding that it’s what she has to do. “And come back soon.”
“I will,” she replies, turning and going back to the Falcon, back to Ben.
She and Ben look at Luke’s old home on Tatooine. The sand has covered much of it, but otherwise it’s not in terrible condition.
“Is it weird for you? Being here?” she asks, squeezing his hand.
“It’s . . . nice,” he finally says. “I’m glad you’re with me.”
Rey unhooks Luke and Leia’s lightsabers. “I thought it would be nice to bury them here.”
He nods. “They’d like that.”
She leads him over to a spot several yards from Luke’s home. Together, they make a depression in the sand and Rey wraps the lightsabers and places them at the bottom. Then Ben uses the Force to cover them back up with sand, leaving no trace of the weapons.
He grabs her hand again. “Let’s go back to the Falcon.”
They spend a few days in the Falcon, camped near Luke’s home. Ben is worse off than Rey, so she takes care of him in the captain’s cabin. They heal together, sleeping a lot and not talking much. There isn’t much to talk about, the war and their own brief deaths too fresh in both of their minds for idle chatter, and the bond communicates most of their needs. BB-8 is actually a great help, distracting them and allowing them to laugh at his antics. But mostly, they spend time together, holding hands and holding each other. Always touching, always reassuring each other and themselves of their vitality.
I’m alive. I’m here. I’m with you . They repeat this mantra to themselves, to the other.
Eventually, they know they’re ready to move on. They don’t need to speak to confirm where they’re going, they just leave.
Ahch-To looks the same as it did when she left it, though Kylo’s ship no longer burns.
“So that’s what you did with it,” Ben remarks upon seeing the wreckage. “I can’t say I blame you.” He stares at it for a while.
“I . . .” she begins, not sure what to say. What can she say?
“It doesn’t matter, Rey. We can’t change what happened.” Through the bond, she knows he can feel her discomfort. Taking her hand, he squeezes it as he raises his other hand, lifting the ship up into the air and letting it sink into the waters.
“Thank you,” she says, squeezing back.
BB-8 whirs quietly behind them, evidently also reassured.
They spend the night in the Falcon, and both of them feel more at peace than before. They fall asleep next to each other, holding hands.
In the middle of the night, Rey wakes with a scream. Immediately, Ben is holding her, cradling her gently, stroking her hair and whispering, “I’m here. I’m here, Rey. You’re okay. You’re okay.”
She sobs and clutches his arms, avoiding his broken rib. “It was Palpatine, telling me I don’t deserve to call myself a Skywalker.”
“He’s gone, Rey,” Ben soothes, rubbing her back.
“I know. I know.” Her tears have stopped, and she just sniffles, tucking herself into Ben.
“Rey, you can call yourself whatever you want.” Ben’s voice is certain, sure and low and rumbling through her. “You’re not defined by your birth name. You could choose your own name. You could call yourself Skywalker.” He swallows, and this time there is anxiety in his voice. “You . . . could call yourself Solo. If you wanted.” The last part is a whisper, as if he thinks she could never even entertain the thought.
Her breath catches in her throat. Leia had said the same thing, but it’s different hearing it from Ben. “Solo?” she whispers back.
“Only if you wanted to,” he says again.
She turns toward him, their faces inches apart. “Ben,” she starts, her voice breaking, “I’d love that. Truly.”
He smiles, and her heart melts. They lean forward at the same time and accidentally bump noses, causing them both to start giggling. Soon they’re both laughing loudly, all traces of tension gone.
“Ouch,” Ben says, clutching his rib but still chuckling.
Rey calms down, still smiling widely. She turns toward him, studying his face, years younger without the scar. “You’re not defined by your birth name either. Not Skywalker, Organa, or Solo.”
He’s silent, and she can see his eyes shine with unshed tears. “Thank you, Rey.” Then he offers, “If you want, we can just be Ben and Rey. I–I won’t feel bad if you don’t want the Solo name.”
She rises onto her elbows and looks down at him, wiping away his tears. “Ben, I’d love to be Rey Solo. And I’d love for you to be Ben Solo, too.”
His smile is wide and soft, and for the second time, he pulls her into a kiss. It’s gentle, loving, and easy. They have time, finally. They’re both here, and the Force can’t pull them apart like it has so many times before.
That night they spend hours just kissing, learning each other and beginning to make up for lost time.
Over the next week, they visit Luke’s hut and the Jedi temple. They don’t stay long at either of those places. Instead, they spend most of their time scoping out a new spot for their new home. It’s slow with Ben’s leg, but he’s healing quickly, and Rey has been Force healing him in his sleep, just a little so he won’t notice.
They’re sitting on a rock looking at the water when Ben says, “Rey, I’ll heal on my own. You don’t need to heal me.”
“How do you—?” she begins, before realizing that it’s impossible to hide anything from him through the bond. They have completely let each other in now, and it’s such a relief being this close to him. “I just hate that you’re in pain,” she tells him.
“Pain is a sign that I’m alive. I don’t regret what caused it, and I don’t want you spending your life Force on things that will heal given some time.” He cups her cheek, his gaze seeing straight through her. “We have so much time, Rey. We don’t need to rush.”
“You’re right,” she sighs, turning her head to kiss his palm. “We have time.”
A month later, they’ve finished their modest house. It has one bedroom and one sitting room that is also a kitchen. It’s small, and it’s larger and homier than anywhere Rey’s ever lived. They didn’t talk about it, but their bedroom only has one bed, and the implications of that Rey tries not to think about. It’s something she both wants to talk to him about and doesn’t, something she’s both excited and nervous about.
“Rey?” Ben’s back from his walk, something he’s taken to doing everyday as the barest form of exercise he can do with his leg. He uses Rey’s staff as a crutch, and she doesn’t go with him. She knows he’s fighting his own battle, and she doesn’t want to get in the way.
“I’m in here,” she calls from the bedroom. She’s standing, staring at the bed. She’d been intending to take a walk with BB-8, but she’d come in for her cloak and had started thinking about the singular bed they hadn’t slept in yet and how maybe she’s ready to take the next step but she’s not quite sure how to go about this because they’ve never talked about it and she never had a mother around to explain this to her and she wished Leia were here to help but she couldn’t exactly ask Leia about having sex with her son—
“Rey, are you okay?” he asks, coming into the bedroom. The ceilings in their house are high because he’s so tall, and they were made so he wouldn’t have to duck under any doorways.
“Yeah, why?” She schools her expression into something neutral.
“You’re thinking so loudly I could hear it from outside,” he remarks, taking his cloak off.
She stares at his broad shoulders that taper down to narrow hips and tries not to think of the muscle she knows lies under his shirt. “Oh, really? I was just . . . well, I—” She stops. This is ridiculous , she thinks. Ben feels the same way about her, and she knows this. He couldn’t lie to her if he tried, so she has no reason to be scared.
Ben holds his arms out to her. “Come here,” he offers, and she gratefully steps into him. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” she replies, smiling up at him. “Everything’s perfect.” And it is.
They have dinner outside, watching the sunset. Or rather, Ben watches the sunset. Rey watches him, the sun on his face and the absolute peace that radiates from him. The lines on his face have completely relaxed and when he looks over, catching her staring, he sends her a smile that echoes that happiness.
“I love you,” she says without thinking. They both freeze, neither of them having said those words before. But it’s true, and Ben knows it’s true, can feel through the bond the truth of her words resonating through them.
He leans forward and kisses her softly. “I love you, too,” he says. He stands slowly and offers his hand to Rey, who takes it and lets him lead her inside the house.
They don’t sleep much that night, but it’s the best night of their lives.
Another month of pure bliss elapses, busy with sunsets and sunrises, late nights and indulgent mornings, and only happiness between Rey and Ben. BB-8 is a little restless, but he distracts himself by playing with the porgs. Rey knows at some point she’ll need to go back and help the Resistance cope with the aftermath of the war, but she has to pick up the pieces of her own self first, or she won’t be any help to them. Occasionally, she or Ben or both of them wake up in the night sweating from one nightmare or another. Sometimes it’s the same nightmare. But neither of them are alone anymore, and the one person in the universe who understands them is next to them, holding them tight, kissing them until the shaking stops and their breathing slows and they remember that in this moment, they are safe and loved.
Ben’s leg has healed abnormally quickly, but they both think it’s due to Rey’s healing (which she stopped when he told her to), the Force that practically hums around them on Ahch-To, and the fact that neither of them have ever been able to just heal from an injury so leisurely, with no need to fight or train or command. He’s still not able to run much, but he can walk fairly well and they’re able to be a little less careful at night.
She’s coming home one afternoon from meditating on the top of a rock formation, something she’s discovered she actually enjoys now, and finds him with his back to her, fiddling with a small metal part. He’s so engrossed in whatever he’s doing that she manages to see that it’s silver and shiny before he senses her and turns around, pocketing whatever he was holding.
“You’re back early,” he says, greeting her with a kiss.
She smiles into him, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I missed you.”
He deepens the kiss, his arm around her waist pulling her closer. “I missed you, too,” he murmurs into her lips, the vibration causing her to laugh a bit.
“What were you doing?” she asks, leaning back and peering up at him.
Oddly enough, he flushes. “Just playing with a spare bolt,” he mutters, looking away.
She knows this isn’t the whole truth, but she also knows he’ll tell her when he’s ready, so she simply smiles and kisses him again. “I’m thinking of going back to the Resistance base. They need help, and . . . I can’t leave them alone. Not after everything.”
He nods, clearly not thrilled at the idea but knowing she has to. “I should probably stay here. I don’t think most of the Resistance would be too happy about me being there.”
She sighs. “No, probably not. I hate to leave you, though. It feels too soon.”
His smile and the hand on her back is comforting as he points out, “We still have the bond, though. I think, now that we’ve let each other in, we’ll be able to at least sense each other wherever we are.”
Rey’s reminded of his face, blank and empty, of her frantically clinging to the bond in order to keep him there, of the Force screaming around them as she fought to save him, and she unconsciously grips his shirt tighter. “I’ll always be able to find you,” she tells him. “No matter where you are, I’ll be there.” Her voice is a little desperate and it shakes, but he doesn’t say anything, only pulling her into a hug.
That night they cling to each other, reminded that time is finite and space is vast.
The next morning, Rey is checking the Falcon with BB-8’s help to prepare to go back to the base.
“I can’t believe we don’t need any parts,” she tells BB-8.
BB-8 beeps in response.
“Yeah, you’re right; I shouldn’t jinx it.” She turns back toward the house she and Ben built, the one that’s already home , and sees him walking toward her. The light that surrounds him seems to bounce everywhere, and the Force practically keens with happiness and balance.
“Rey,” he calls, his low voice still making her stomach flip.
“Ben,” she replies, walking toward him.
He stops in front of her, looking uncharacteristically shy. “Since you’re leaving, I thought . . . I wanted to give you something. To remind you of me. And,” he swallows, “so I know you’ll come back.”
She looks at him, confused, as he sinks to one knee and pulls out of his pocket a small, cloth-wrapped bundle. “Ben?”
He bites his lip, then continues. “Rey, I know I have done horrible things to you, your friends, well, a lot of people. And I know we’ve only had a short time together. I have nothing to offer you, no money, land, or worldly possessions. Not even a lightsaber. But I love you, and you know I would die for you, a thousand times over. So it’s selfish, but I need you more than I have ever needed anything else. Rey, will you marry me?”
She’s completely still, her mind not quite processing his words as he unwraps the cloth and shows her two rings, one a dainty silver twist, the other a thicker silver band with a single twist. She looks back at him, seeing the uncertainty in his eyes, the slight tremor in his hands, the discomfort in the once-broken leg that has been forced into a kneel.
“Yes, Ben,” she breathes, vision blurring with tears. “Yes, I’ll marry you.” She isn’t sure what he does with the rings but he picks her up and spins her, letting out a whoop that suddenly reminds her of his father but manages to convey everything that he’s feeling. Then he’s kissing her, and she can’t tell if her feet are on the ground but it doesn’t matter, she’s too happy.
When they finally break apart, it takes them a moment to realize they’re five feet in the air, and they laugh together as they sink back to the earth. Ben takes the rings from his pocket and slides hers on her finger. She does the same for him, and they take a moment to admire the silver, the twist in both a symbol of their bond.
“Where’d you get these?” she wonders, tracing the band with her finger.
“I told you, I was playing with a spare bolt,” he explains. “I made them.”
“They’re beautiful. You’re beautiful,” she whispers, blinking back tears.
He smiles that wide, beautiful smile and brushes her hair back from her face. “Leave now, or I won’t be able to let you go.”
They kiss one more time, then he kisses her forehead. “I’ll see you soon, Rey Solo.”
She leaves Ahch-To with happy tears in her eyes and a new, gentle weight on her finger.
The Resistance base is buzzing with activity. She can tell that most of it has been rebuilt, and there are many new faces. More new faces than old.
Finn and Chewie are relieved to see her. Leadership suits Poe, or maybe Poe has grown into it, but in the two months since she’s seen him, he seems more at ease.
Finn only gives her a look and a hug when he sees her ring, and she’s careful to hide it from Poe. It hurts to hide something so precious from such a good friend, but she knows it will take time and patience to be able to show everyone who Ben Solo really is.
It’s hard work dealing with the aftermath. So many governments have collapsed, half the Senate has fled or turned dark, and there are tens of thousands of Stormtroopers that they can’t just ignore. It takes a month to set up a Stormtrooper rehabilitation center, headed by Finn, that offers therapy and training for other trades. Another month to resurrect what’s left of the Senate, with a new constitution called the Organa Charter.
Rey talks to Ben every night. Though Ben hadn’t intended it, the rings serve as a Force conduit, making it easier for them to reach through the bond. They tell each other everything, and Ben’s political experience is invaluable in creating the new charter. She misses him terribly, but she knows she’s nearly fulfilled her duty. A little bit longer, and she can return to him.
It’s been nearly three months when Rey finally stops working. She’s set up a search for Force-sensitive children, and Ben has begun rebuilding the old Jedi temple. They’re going to open a school. It will be a different version of the Jedi, a more accepting one that hopefully won’t end like the last one did. Rey’s confident they can do it, Ben not so much. But it’s a purpose, one that’s compelling, and Finn will let her know when they’ve found enough kids to send over.
“You’re leaving again, aren’t you?” Poe asks resignedly.
She nods. “I have to. I . . . have a home now.” With Ben .
He gives her a small, knowing smile. “With whoever gave you that ring?”
Her eyes shoot up to his, but there’s no accusation in his face. “I . . .”
“Your face shows everything you’re thinking, Rey,” he remarks. “And every time you look at that ring, you glow. I probably don’t want to know who it is right now, but I hope that in the future, I’ll be able to meet the person that makes you this happy.”
She smiles softly. “I hope so, too.”
Finn takes her departure a little better. “I’ll visit you once things quiet down,” he promises. “I hope you and Ben are happy. You seem happy. I’m glad.”
“You seem happy, too,” she observes, glancing over at Rose, who’s talking to Maz on the other side of the room.
He ducks his head, embarrassed. “It’s been nice.”
“Only nice?” she teases.
“Shut up,” he says, in a very Poe-like way.
“I’ll see you, Finn.” They hug, and she heads back to the Falcon, BB-8 in tow.
Once they’re in hyperspace, she turns to BB-8. “Excited to go home?”
BB-8 whirs happily.
“Yeah, I can’t wait to see him. . . .” Her mind drifts to the last time she saw him, happiness etched onto his face. What will it be like after three months? Will it be awkward? How will he feel when she tells him she got her implant removed?
BB-8 beeps soothingly.
“You’re right,” she agrees. “I shouldn’t worry about it.”
As she prepares to land on Ahch-To, she sees him waiting for her, wind ruffling his hair. As soon as the ramp lowers, she runs toward him, and they collide, hands everywhere, kissing, touching, greeting each other, tangling fingers in each other’s hair.
“I missed you,” she whispers, reveling in the warmth and familiarity of him.
“Me too,” he replies. “Everyday.” His thumb traces her ring, and she can feel through the bond how relieved he is she’s still wearing it, how happy he is to know she’s his, and she sends her own happiness back to him.
She kisses him slowly, sweetly, and relishes in the smile he gives her, the same perfect smile he’d given her after their first kiss.
“Are you ready to go home, Rey?” he asks, threading his fingers through hers.
The sun is setting, casting orange and pink streaks across the sky and sparkling in the clear waters below. BB-8 is beside them, looking toward their humble house. Around them, the Force is quiet, content to let them simply live.
And she replies, “I am home, Ben.”