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Devil Spawn

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Leia Organa’s annual Halloween ball is supposed to be an event. Held in her ancestral mansion, the party spans most of the first floor and into the gardens out back.

Hours before the party is supposed to start, Rose and Finn insist on dragging Rey through every inch of the decorations, since it’s her first time there.

The setup is elaborate and gorgeous and elegant, and Rey feels out of her depth, but the others assure her that everyone from work and their spouses are invited, along with all of Leia’s personal friends and business partners. One little gatecrasher won't make a difference, and it’s not like she’s even gatecrashing since she's starting her internship at Organa, Inc, next week and would have been invited anyway.

It makes Rey feel a little bit better.

They get ready in one of the open guest rooms upstairs, and Rose’s sister Paige helps with Rey’s hair and makeup. When Paige is finished, Rey looks nothing like her usual self: she’s dewy-skinned and doe-eyed, shimmer on the apples of her cheeks. Her white dress gives the illusion of curves, and somehow her hair has been wrangled into soft glossy curls down to her shoulders. Paige put something in it to keep the curls in place for the night and settles the halo headband among them.

She looks as magical as this night deserves, and it makes her feel a little less out of place.

Ben sees her when he’s on his third cup of spiked punch.

She’s in a simple costume, as cheesy as his, and maybe it’s the fact that he’s playing a devil and she’s playing an angel, or maybe it’s the way her tanned skin contrasts with the pure white of her dress, or maybe it’s the smooth line of her throat.

Or maybe he’s a little drunk.

Whatever the reason, he sees her, and he stares, and he starts to harden in his slacks.

He wants to defile her.

Her ass is high and tight, and Ben groans deep in his chest as she lets him push her skirt up to bare it in the candlelit bathroom. They haven’t spoken a word. She blushes easily, and Ben loves it, he’s obsessed with it. He wants to see how far down the blush goes, wants to follow it with his mouth, wants to destroy her.

He’s so good at destroying things.

She’s wearing a thong. He licks up the meaty center of one of her asscheeks and she startles, reaching back to grab his hair.

He presses his teeth against her buttock, then leaves her ass alone, sliding up behind her and tugging her underwear out of the way, pressing a finger inside her cunt. His gloves lay on the counter nearby, discarded the moment they entered in his hurry to feel her skin.

Fuck. She’s so wet. For him.

He has a condom in his wallet, one he put there a long time ago in the hope something like this might happen. Back before he realized women only wanted him for his money or his family name.

He fumbles it out now, ripping the packaging open and stuffing the trash in his pocket before he rolls the latex down his aching cock. He grunts and checks its placement before pushing his fingers back inside her, leaning over her, meeting her eyes in the mirror. Hers are wide and innocent and shadowed with lust.

He’s corrupting her.

Fuck, yes.

“Are you ready for me?” he asks low, pumping his fingers in and out, hearing the obscene squelch of it.

She bites her bottom lip, white teeth pressing into her smudged pink lipstick, and nods. She arches her hips back, silently begging, and he holds the string of her thong aside and obliges, sinking into her heavenly heat.

She lets out a single, perfect groan, and he begins to lose his mind.

After, he wants to get her number, is working up his courage to ask for it while she sets her costume to rights and he disposes of the messy condom.

He's just about to do it when she leans up on her tiptoes, kisses him on the cheek, and leaves with a sweet dimpled smile tossed back over her shoulder.

He takes far too long staring after her, and by the time it occurs to him to follow, she's nowhere.

He looks the rest of the night, but it isn't until his head clears the next day that he realizes she never spoke a single word, much less her name.

“I hate kids.”

It’s vicious, unexpected, and rings through the atrium, landing in the midst of sudden silence as Rey turns away from the elevators to glance toward the entrance. A handful of coworkers do the same, but they all look away as the tall man striding their way raises his eyes.

A red-haired man to Rey’s right takes a sip of name-brand coffee and offers, “Who doesn’t?”

The tall man grunts, shucking his dark wool overcoat. “Fucking neighbors have a new baby. God, I wish they’d just smother the thing.”

An older woman to Rey’s left gasps softly, but the red-haired man just raises an eyebrow. “That’s dark even for you, Solo.”

The tall man glowers at the elevator numbers, but his cheeks flush slightly, like he's embarrassed. “I’ll lighten up when I get some fucking sleep.”

It’s only as he brushes past her into the elevator, barging through the crowd as if he owns the place (his parents do, but he doesn’t) that Rey smells a familiar cologne. It takes her back to Halloween night and a voice she hasn’t been able to get out of her head, one that promised toe-curling pleasure.

Her stomach sinks, and she has to run for the nearest bathroom to empty her breakfast into a toilet.

She had sex with Ben Fucking Solo.

And he’s a monster.

When Rey started her internship at Organa, Inc, she quickly learned that nobody liked Ben Solo. By all reports, he was miserable and abrasive, and he yelled at people. When she heard that he’d yelled at Finn in the copy room once, her mind was made up without even having to meet him: he was an irredeemable asshole.

She did not expect him to be the man from the Halloween ball, the man whose eyes convinced her to steal away with him, whose hands wandered so deliciously over her, whose voice made her think of stolen kisses and too much wine and sex.

The next time she sees him, nearly a week later, she’s headed to the copier for a printout for Amilyn Holdo.

He storms past her from the elevators and slams open the door to Leia Organa’s part of the offices. Rey can hear his raised voice but can’t make out the words, and she has to run to the bathroom when she thinks about the way she let him put his hands on her, the way she moaned when he fucked her over the sink. The eye contact he kept up in the mirror.

How much she loved it.

When she comes out, he’s still there, she can see him through the open door, harassing his mom’s assistant, and Rey is angry. Maybe she’s more mad at herself than him, but it doesn’t really matter because he’s accusing Paige of being incompetent, Paige is visibly on the verge of tears, and Rey marches forward and pushes into his space, forcing him to back off in surprise.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she hisses at him. “She doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment.”

His brows go up, then lower in indignation. “Excuse me?”

Rey crosses her arms. “You heard me.”

He leans into her space, and Rey realizes with a jolt that he doesn’t recognize her. Not in the least. She had thought, maybe… but he doesn’t. Not with her glasses and her hair pulled back and no makeup on. Not in her “Pizza Expert” tee and clearance rack blazer.

“I could have you fired,” he says, and she wants to punch him; her fists curl in preparation, but she keeps her arms crossed. She’s never felt such loathing for anyone before, and she knows he can see it all over her face.

“Isn’t this interesting,” Leia comments, and Rey looks at the same time as Ben to see the company’s owner leaning against the doorway behind them, clearly having just arrived back. She is looking between them with a curious expression, and she motions for them to preceed her into her office. “In there. Both of you.”

Ben’s jaw is stubborn, as if he expects to butt heads with his mother and is bracing for it. Rey glares at him before raising her chin and focusing on Leia.

Leia takes her time, gesturing them into the chairs in front of her desk and letting them stew before speaking. “Your assistant needs some help, yes?” she asks Ben. “That is what you’ve been badgering me about for the last week or so.”

Ben nods stiffly.

“I’ve been reluctant to assign any of our people to you because you make so many of them want to quit.”

He rolls his eyes.

“And you haven’t been a barrel of laughs lately. You’re exhausted, kiddo.”

“It’s that stupid baby,” he complains. “If I ever try to have kids, drown me.”

“Gladly,” Rey mutters.

Ben glares at her, but Leia laughs.

“Rey,” she says, smiling, “I hate to do this to you, but so far you’re the only one I’ve seen who can stand up to Ben. I'm hoping you can handle it.”

Rey frowns. “I’m sorry?”

“You’re going to work for him—”

Ben looks smug, and Rey starts to protest, but Leia holds up a hand, stopping them both.

“—temporarily.” She levels a stern look at her son. “You won’t be able to fire her.” His face falls, and Leia goes on. “She’ll be officially working for me and is on loan to you.”

Rey catches the scheming look he slides her and feels nauseated all over again. She holds very still and tries to breathe through her nose to stave off an unpleasant reaction. If she tries to speak, she might let out more than a token protest all over Leia’s rug.

They’re both looking at her. Waiting.

Rey gives a tiny nod.

“If I hear about any hazing, I’m going to kick your ass,” Leia informs her son.

“Yeah, yeah,” he mutters, getting to his feet and towering over them both, making Rey remember the way he covered her with his body, the heat of him and the filthy promises he whispered into her ear. He glances dismissively at Rey, rolls his eyes, and waves her up. “Come on, then.”

Rey knows that if she stands up right then, she will lose what little is left in her stomach. She feels the cold sweat on her brow, the twisting in her gut, and she can’t spot Leia’s trash can from where she’s seated.

Ben turns to face her fully, face darkening. “Stop being a child and get up!”

“Ben,” Leia says, a warning in her tone, and Ben glances his mother’s way, but Rey decides that fine. If he wants her up so bad, she’ll get up.

So she does.

She gets up, leans forward, and pukes all over his shiny shoes.

His horrified shout is music to her ears.

Leia sends her home with orders to drink plenty of fluids and rest. Rey obeys, sleeping more than she thought a person could in a single day, but she still feels tired when she wakes up. She eats some canned soup and falls back into bed, hoping to outsleep the nausea.

It’s not constant, the nausea, which is why she decides to go in the next morning. She feels reasonably okay. Still tired, but she thinks her system is bouncing back.

She is not looking forward to working for horrible, terrible, no good Ben Solo and his big hands with fingers that have been inside her, but it's a paid internship, which are few and far between, so she can't be picky.

Plus, Leia took her aside yesterday and told her she wouldn't get in trouble for standing up to Ben and refusing to take any of his shit.

So Rey girds her loins, grabs her purse, and heads into battle.

The girl is odd, with her graphic tees that don’t technically break the dress code (he checked), and her thick British accent and thicker glasses.

He gives her work he knows she’ll hate — making her fetch him coffee from across town and then complaining when she gets back and it’s cold, sending her to the wrong dry-cleaner to pick up his suits and then ignoring her calls, telling her to organize something a certain way and then changing his mind when she’s almost done so she has to do it all over again. He even calls her every woman’s name but her own.

Jane is his favorite, and he's actually surprised she hasn't run to complain to his mother, especially since he's doing exactly what his mom told him not to.

Hell, even his assistant, Mitaka, starts giving her pitying looks.

It's less than a week before she snaps, and Ben smirks throughout her tirade as she calls him every name in the book and tells him where he can shove his filing system and his overpriced coffee and all the other indignities he’s heaped upon her. She’s in the middle of detailing her skillset in a ridiculous amount of detail (as if he cares that she can type fifty-seven words per minute, defrag a harddrive, or administer a local area network) when he holds a hand up to stop her.

“Tell you what,” he says. “You do one little task for me, and I’ll stop messing with you.”

“Really,” she snarls, arms folded. “And what might that be?”

He ignores her sarcasm. “I need a document from my mother, and she can’t know it’s for me.”

Her expression turns wary, but she’s listening. “What document?”

He waves a dismissive hand, trying not to let on how hard his heart is beating. This is it. This is his shot. “Nothing important. Just a list of guests from this year’s Halloween ball.”

The girl’s brows go up, and she purses her lips for a moment, but she only says, “That’s it?”

He nods, palms sweaty with the prospect of finding her. “That’s it.”

Rey doesn’t know if he’s looking for what she thinks he’s looking for, but she knows without a shadow of a doubt that her name won’t be on any list, so she visits Paige and nonchalantly asks for it. It takes Paige only a minute to pull it up and print it off, and then it’s in her hands. She doesn’t even have to say what it’s for.

She can’t help feeling smug as she slaps it in front of Ben Solo.

He stares at it and touches it with the tips of his fingers as if a little afraid of it.

Then he glances up and clears his throat, pushing it toward her. “Organize this by gender and age demographics, then get it back to me.” He turns back to his computer, clearly dismissing her, but there’s a fine tremor in his hands that she can’t help noticing.

“Okay,” she says.

It takes her until the end of the day to finish. She has to look everyone up in the company database and has to Google a few others, and she desperately needs a nap, probably still recovering from whatever stomach bug seems to be lingering in her system, but she plows through and hands it to him just before quitting time.

Ben sets his coat down and flips away from the first page quickly, where she’s listed men by age, and then past the second, keeps going until he lands on the younger women. He hungrily devours the names there, eyes tracking back and forth, and turns to walk back over to his desk, still reading the names, when he seems to remember he’s not alone in the room. He looks up and nods at Rey. “Good work. You can head home.”

He turns back to the pages and sits at his desk, his attention unwavering, and Rey leaves him to it, gets her things together to head home and get some sleep.

She can’t quite understand why she starts to cry in the elevator.

After that, Rey is given more and more real work to do, and she does it well. She sees young women called up to Ben’s office, all of them young brunettes. Some are turned away as promptly as they arrive and others he stares at for an uncomfortable amount of time before he waves them off. The list she compiled sits on Mitaka’s desk, names highlighted, and Rey doesn’t have to sneak a closer look to know the highlighted names are all women between the ages of 18 and 30.

Ben remembers bits and pieces of that night like fragments of a dream. Toned thighs, dimples above her ass, thick lashes framing eyes whose color could have been anything at all given the dim light and the way her pupils swallowed the iris.

Pink lipstick smeared from kissing.

The way she cried out when she came, shuddering around his cock.

He remembers freckles on her shoulder, remembers shoving her wings askew to kiss them, the sheen of sweat on her skin there.

He’d been a little drunk, but he remembers enough. He looks through the employee photos first, then has Mitaka summon the ones who might be her.

But she isn’t any of the women who work at his parents' company.

He Googles his mother’s friends but can’t find her among them. He digs further, finds their daughters, finds the daughters of his mother’s business associates. He spends days scouring every lead he can think of, every news article, every Facebook page.

He has to be missing something.

If only he could think. He hasn’t been sleeping well thanks to that damn baby next door. His head hurts, and he wants to punch something, but instead he just drums his fingers on his desk before sticking his head out of his office door to yell, “Niima! Get in here!”

Ben Solo has been more on edge lately, veering closer and closer to a breaking point. Everyone in the office can see it.

Right now, he’s going on about the company Christmas party, pacing behind his desk and asking if she thinks people will be bringing their significant others.

“I guess?” she says. She shifts in her seat. She’s not about to come clean, but she also doesn’t like watching the guy killing himself trying to find her. It makes her feel just a teensy bit guilty. Which is why she asks, “What is all this about, anyway?”

He blinks at her like she’s speaking a foreign language, and she’d think she’s made a mistake except then his cheeks turn pink and he glances away with the very definition of shifty eyes. “What is what about?”

“You’ve been meeting with women from that list. The Halloween ball, was it? And now you’re asking about spouses. What exactly is going on?”

The blood drains from his face, and he sits. Gets up and closes the door, then paces a bit more. Eventually, he runs a hand through his hair and says, “I… I met someone. At the ball.” He swallows and glances at her, blushing and almost… shy? Damn. She never would have pegged Ben Solo for shy. “But I didn’t get her name. And I… regret that.”

He says it like it’s some shameful secret to have anonymous sex with someone, like people haven’t been doing it for generations.

Rey tilts her head and asks a question that has been plaguing her: “Why is she so important to you?”

He throws himself into his chair, making it squeak, and huffs a sigh. “You may not have noticed, but I don’t exactly have a winning personality.”

She snorts, and he offers her a self-deprecating shrug.

“It’s fine. I just don’t really date, and… she felt like a chance, you know? At something normal people have.” He looks a little bit lost. “I let her slip through my fingers, like an idiot.” He stares at his keyboard for a bit, then looks up at her with a light in his eyes that makes her panic internally. She thinks he’s figured it out, that the jig is up, but then he says, “People like you, right? I mean, you’re likeable.”

Panic turns into a more familiar wariness, and she offers a careful, “I guess?”

Whatever idea he’s had seems to be exciting him, because he sits up straighter, his eyes bright. “Maybe you could ask around. Quietly. See if you can find out what everyone wore to the ball.”

Rey blinks at him. “You…” She shakes her head and holds up a hand. “You want me to find your mystery not-girlfriend?”

He nods enthusiastically, like it’s not the most bizarre request she’s ever gotten in her life. “All you have to do is ask people what they wore, find out what their friends wore. She was dressed as an angel.” He shuffles forward a bit in his chair, literally on the edge of his seat with excitement.

Rey opens her mouth to tell him no, preferably with a clever insult mixed in, but then she stops and thinks about it. If she heads the investigation, then that means no one else is heading the investigation. So she leans back in her chair and says, “Yeah, okay.”

His grin is practically gleeful and… more than a little distracting. “If you find her, I will personally pay you a thousand dollar bonus,” he promises. Then he adds, with a frown, “From my money, not company money. This is not a company task.”

She thinks wistfully of how much that money would help if she were willing to give herself away, but there’s no way, so instead she calculates how long she might get away with stalling him before he hires a real investigator.

Long enough, she supposes.

And won’t the joke be on him when he finds out?

“So… what were you dressed as?” she asks a few days later as she updates him on her gossip progress over the lunch he’s eating at his desk.

Lately, she hasn’t been able to stomach much more than popcorn and Saltines. She’s starting to get a little worried about how long this illness has lingered — the nausea and exhaustion are driving her nuts. She thought about going to a doctor, but her internship doesn’t include health insurance, so.

Sucks to be her.

Ben rolls his eyes as if he knows she’s going to mock him for his Halloween costume (which she plans to — mercilessly). “I was the devil.”

She snickers, cupping a hand over her mouth. “Seriously? The devil? And you hooked up with an angel. Could you get any more cliché?”

“Shut up,” he mutters without heat, tossing a grape her way.

She catches it and pops it in her mouth, chewing noisily even though her stomach is low level unsettled and the grape might make it worse.

Her friends have noticed how awful she’s been feeling. She keeps cancelling on them and staying home to sleep, or she’ll have to run to the bathroom in the afternoon to throw up. Rose caught her at it once and was really concerned.

It was sweet.

They don’t know about Ben. About what happened at the party, the way she bent over a bathroom vanity and let a stranger fuck her senseless.

At least he used a condom. She isn’t on birth control, hasn’t been able to afford it without insurance, and condoms work well enough until she can get an implant or an IUD.

If he hadn’t used one, she’d think…

But that’s stupid.

Because he did.

Pizza is a good motivator to get Rey to go somewhere, so Rey is predictably at the company pizza party the week before Thanksgiving. She’s only able to nibble at her food, which makes her worried friends ask questions and try to urge her to see a doctor, but she brushes them off with laughter and a topic change.

Ben is hovering by the pizza with his arms folded, standing tall and imposing and glaring at all the young brunettes in the room.

She knows he’s trying to figure out if any of them are the girl he’s looking for, but it’s very off-putting.

And it’s probably up to her to tell him so and save the masses from his stomach-curdling glower.

Her plate is mostly untouched when she stands, and his eyes snap to her. It makes a little thrill go down her spine, remembering that same intensity as he whispered filthy things into her ear, and it makes her a little lightheaded.

Or maybe that’s—

Rey wakes up to someone shining a light in her eyes, and she’s surrounded, worried expressions everywhere. She’s on the floor for some reason, and it takes her a few groggy seconds to realize that she passed out.

“Can you tell me how many fingers I’m holding up?”

She winces and takes in the man’s paramedic uniform. Had she really been out long enough for an ambulance to get here? “Three.”

“She hasn’t been eating,” Rose says from nearby, and Rey turns her head and sees tear tracks on her friend’s face. “Barely anything for weeks. She’s exhausted, too.”

“And throwing up,” Finn adds.

The paramedic frowns and feels her neck, just under her jaw. “Hm,” he says.

She looks for another face, not even thinking about it, and spots him hovering in the crowd, leaning forward like he wants to get closer but is holding himself back. He’s frowning, and he looks troubled.

She can’t help teasing him. “Aw, boss, you worried about me?”

He scoffs, but it’s clearly an act. “Worried you might have brain damage. Who’s going to do my filing then?”

“Mitaka?” she offers.

He grunts and rolls his eyes, but those eyes end up on her, and he can’t hide the concern there.

“Okay,” says the paramedic, making her realize she’s been staring at Ben for far too long. She obligingly turns her attention back to the medical professional in front of her and takes in his raised eyebrows as he checks the blood pressure cuff he’s just inflated. “We’ll take you in to get checked out, but your blood pressure is pretty low. I’m guessing that’s why you passed out.” He puts the cuff away and takes out a stethoscope. Listens to her heart. Asks her to take deep breaths.

“Yeah,” he says when he’s done, slinging the stethoscope back around his neck. “Most likely the low blood pressure, probably from not eating. I definitely want you to see a doctor, though.”

Rey grimaces. “I don’t have insurance.”

“For God’s sake, Niima,” Ben explodes. “Get your ass in the damn ambulance.”

She turns a stubborn glare his way. “No.”

He takes a step forward like he’s going to pick her up and throw her in, but then Leia places a hand on his chest.

Rey hadn’t seen her in the crowd. Maybe because she’s so short.

“Ambulances are expensive,” Leia tells him. Then she turns to Rey. “There’s a free clinic we donate to. I’ll drive you, okay? That’ll keep costs down.”

Rey glances at the paramedic, who nods.

“So long as she sees someone,” he says. “And having someone to drive her is a good idea. I don’t want her passing out behind the wheel.”

She looks back to Leia. “Okay, then. Thank you.”

“Of course, sweetie.”

It takes a very long time for Rey to be seen, even with Leia’s pull. The clinic is busy and everyone else looks like they’re here for something legit.

When they do get to her, they tell her to pee in a cup. Someone takes her blood. A nurse gets her medical history.

Leia offers to wait in the lobby, but Rey asks her to hold her hand for a while.

Rey hates to admit it, but… she’s scared.

She doesn’t want to be alone for this.

It takes another half hour, but finally the doctor comes in and, without preamble or looking up from his chart, says, "Well, you're pregnant."

After the world drops out from under Rey, and Leia witnesses her minor but still very embarrassing freakout, she finally splutters, "I can't be. He—"

And then, remembering exactly who he is, she glances at his mother seated beside her and turns bright red.

Leia gracefully excuses herself, and Rey waits for her to be gone before she wrings her hands and tells the doctor, "He used a condom."

The doctor shrugs and settles into the computer chair, bringing up her file with a swipe of his employee badge. "Condoms aren't foolproof. It could have been old or worn. He could have put it on incorrectly. It could have been defective. Any number of reasons."

Rey wants to sob, to throw something, to beat her fists, but the doctor is already moving on like this is business as usual and her life isn’t over.

“You should pick up some prenatal vitamins. Your iron is low, which isn’t unusual for your condition, but it’s also not ideal. Once you get that back up, you shouldn’t be feeling quite as tired.

“Try to eat at least one meal a day. I know the nausea can get pretty severe, but if you’re able to keep something down you should make the effort. Leafy greens and fruit would be best. Plenty of fluids.

“Do you have a primary doctor?” At her head shake, he nods. “Okay, well, you should really get in for a prenatal visit at the family planning clinic on Hurst Avenue. Do you know it?”

Another head shake.

“I can give you a referral. Do you know how far along you might be?”

“Halloween,” she murmurs, still reeling. “It was… it was on Halloween.”

He taps that information into her file. “Okay. You’ll want to get a prenatal visit set up as soon as they can fit you in. I’ll give you their information before you go.”

Rey walks out clutching a handful of papers and feeling overwhelmed, so when Leia pulls her into a hug without having to ask if she needs it, Rey breaks down and cries on her shoulder.

“It’ll be okay,” Leia murmurs as she pets Rey’s hair.

“Please don’t tell anyone,” Rey begs as Leia drives her home. It’s after work hours now. She and Leia had spent most of the day waiting in the clinic.

“Of course not, sweetheart. It’s up to you, however you want to handle it.”

Rey nods and looks anxiously out the window, biting the tip of her thumb.

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to,” Leia says softly a minute later, “but I’m guessing the father isn’t in the picture?”

Rey feels tears well up again. “I… he…”

Leia pats Rey’s knee. “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

Rey swallows as hot tears start to run down her face again. She thinks about Ben, about all the times he’s complained about the baby next door to him, about the story Finn told with relish in her first week about how Ben Solo hid in his office during Bring Your Child to Work Day.

As Leia pulls up in front of Rey’s apartment building, Rey murmurs, “He doesn’t want kids.”

“Oh, honey.” Leia places a hand on Rey’s shoulder, offering that bit of comfort, and sits with her while she cries.

She has a ton of messages from Finn and Rose, begging for an update, so she texts back and asks them to come over.

This seems like the kind of news she should give in person.

They make it in record time, and when she opens the door, their eyes widen at her obvious distress. She hasn’t bothered to look at herself in a mirror, but she knows the amount of crying she’s done has to be obvious.

So, of course, she bursts into fresh tears.

“Rey, it’s okay,” Finn says, sharing a worried look with Rose as they surround her and hug her, wrapping her with their arms and words of support. “Whatever it is, we’ll get through it.”

Rose’s eyes fill, but her voice is fierce. “What he said. We’re here for you. And we’re not going anywhere.”

Rey stammers out an, “I’m so stupid,” but they shush her.

“You’re not stupid,” they assure her, and Rey shakes her head.

“I’m pregnant,” she gets out, and they go very still.

“Oh, Rey,” Finn breathes, and she flinches at the sadness in his voice. It’s for her, she knows. Pity that she’d be so careless, that she’d get herself into this mess. Such an easily preventable mess.

“It’s all my fault,” Rey admits, trying to cover her face, but Rose gently pulls her hands away.

“It takes two to make a baby, Rey,” she says gently. “It’s not just your fault. Okay?”

Rey sniffles.

“We didn’t know you were seeing anyone,” Finn says, sharing another look with Rose.

Rey shakes her head and barks a humorless laugh. “I’m not. It was a one night stand. Just a dumb… dumb impulsive mistake.” She sniffles and covers her mouth to stifle her sobs.

“Okay, well,” Finn says, clearly at a loss. “You’re not dying. So that’s a win, right?”

Rey laughs through her tears, and Rose give Finn a very unimpressed look. “Yeah. Yeah, there’s that.”

Rose guides them over to the couch and urges Rey to sit. “Do you have the guy’s number?”

Rey shakes her head, and it's technically true. She's never needed to ask for Ben's number since she sees him every day. “No. But I could find him if I wanted to.”

Finn seems like he’s walking on eggshells, unsure about the whole situation. “And… do you want to?”

Rey bites her lip. “I don’t know.”

“Okay,” Rose says, nodding rapidly. “That’s okay.” She’s clearly just trying to be supportive, saying whatever will make Rey feel better, but the thing is — it works.

Rey offers her a watery smile. “Thanks.” She reaches and takes Finn’s hand in one of hers, lets Rose capture her other. “Both of you.” She buries her head in Rose’s shoulder. “I felt so fucking alone today.”

“You’re not,” Rose promises. “You’re not. We’re here.”

Rey doesn’t tell her friends about Ben. She doesn’t tell anyone about Ben.

Especially not Ben.

Leia lets her know that she’s available if Rey needs to talk, and her friends promised to keep a lid on the pregnancy until she has a chance to figure out what she’s going to do.

She thinks it might be a good idea to have that prenatal visit before she tells anyone anything she can’t take back.

Ben’s office shares space with a few others, including Hux (who Ben seems to have a weird rivalry with), a woman named Phasma who always looks like she’s done with everyone else’s shit, and a guy named Calrissian who is never ever in his office. Rey doesn’t think she’s seen him even once, even in passing.

So she’s startled one morning after the Thanksgiving break (and thankfully all the questions about her health have died down) when she gets in and somebody is at the desk outside Calrissian’s office, the desk Ben had been letting her use while it was empty.

The man there hops up and holds out his hand when he sees her, a ridiculously charming smile on his face. “Hi! I’m Poe.”

Rey shakes his hand and wonders where the crap she should put her stuff.

Poe ends up charming the hell out of everyone he meets.

Everyone except Ben, who only grunts and glares at him.

When Finn comes up on his break to check on Rey and make sure she’s eaten something, Poe introduces himself and they end up wrapped up in a conversation that completely excludes her for the entirety of Finn’s break and several minutes beyond — until he checks the time and curses, bidding Poe and (belatedly) Rey a hurried goodbye.

Poe starts eating lunch with Finn (and thus Rose and occasionally Rey when Ben releases her long enough to join them), so Rey gets to know him a little better — he’s Lando Calrissian’s personal assistant, and they’ve been at the Brazil office, and it’s good to be home, and Lando’s a great guy. Poe tells story after story of his adventures with Lando, and he has an effortless way of bringing people from other tables into the conversation, making them feel like they’re included and matter, like he’s talking just to them even while he entertains the whole room.

The way he climbs on the table and acts out parts of his adventures may have something to do with that.

He and Finn hit it off so well that Rey thinks Rose feels a little left out, so she tries to pick up the slack when she can. Rose seems to curl up into herself a little more every time Finn turns away from her and toward Poe, and sometimes Rey comes down to find Rose sitting with Paige and Paige's work friends.

Rey tries to distract Rose, but she can't always be there to help smooth things, and she knows the whole thing will come to a head eventually. She doesn’t even know if Finn likes Poe as just a friend or more than that, but the way he’s treating Rose is rude.

Rey doesn’t think he realizes. He’s not cruel. Just oblivious sometimes.

Rey spends more and more of her working lunches with Ben. When he sends her off to pick something up for him, she uses his credit card to grab herself something, and he grumbles but lets her. She eats with him in his office on those days, nibbling at whatever seemed least offensive to her stomach, and they discuss everything except how her side project is going.

She knows he wonders. He gives her the side-eye too often for him not to be curious. But ever since her fainting spell, he’s been surprisingly gentle toward her. Still grumpy and sharp-tongued, but also watchful in a way he wasn’t before.

It’s almost… sweet.

Ben hates Poe Dameron.

He only vaguely remembers him from the week or two before Lando went to Brazil, when Poe had been new and eager, and he assumes that he hated Poe then, too.

The thing he hates most is that Poe flirts with pretty much everyone.

Even Mitaka.

Even Rey.

Poe is always making her laugh, and she always stops by his desk for a quick flirt whenever she needs to head to the copier.

Ben stops sending her to make copies, but she finds reasons to visit Poe anyway.

She’s wasting valuable company time. He wants to chew her out about it, but they’ve been getting along lately and he doesn’t want to ruin that.

She drops details about herself when she joins him for lunch in his office, like how excited she is for the World Cup (soccer; he has to look it up), and how she hates beaches but loves the ocean, or how she’d rather have a dog than a cat, which he promptly informs her is the stupidest choice and proceeds to lay out all the evidence why. She rolls her eyes at him for it, but he can see the little smile teasing at her mouth, and he feels like that’s enough of a win even though she continues to have the wrong opinion on dogs vs cats.

He takes up watching “The IT Crowd” because she said she loves it, and he’s not sure he gets its alleged humor but it still makes him feel closer to her.

Not that he wants to feel closer to her. For any reason. She’s just a dumb, belligerent intern with her stupid glasses and that “0 Days Without Sarcasm” shirt she showed him while dimpling, her nose wrinkling in that adorable way she has—

Ohhh shit.

It was always bound to happen. She couldn’t keep her pregnancy a secret forever.

The way it does happen, though, is this: Hux is his usual asshole self, and after he leaves the breakroom Finn nudges Rey and murmurs, “Bet you’re glad that guy’s not your baby daddy.”

Except that Poe is right there, and his head snaps up in surprise, and he says (much too loudly), “You’re pregnant?”

Several heads turn their way, and Rey is feeling a little sick as their eyes land on her. She swallows thickly. God, even her own saliva upsets her stomach sometimes.

She talked to the family planning clinic about her options a few days ago, at her first prenatal appointment. They were very kind, sympathetic, supportive. They told her it was okay if she didn’t want to be a mother.

But Rey was an abandoned child herself, and she can’t bring herself to consider terminating the pregnancy.

She hates being pregnant. It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable and her life is going to be so much harder, but…

She can't do that.

“Congratulations,” Poe says, grinning as Finn stares at her like a deer in headlights. Rey accepts Poe’s hug and shrugs at Finn over his shoulder. She tries to convey that it’s okay, even though it’s not.

She was never going to be able to keep it a secret forever. Not once she starts showing, and she’s too trim for the baby to be anything but glaringly obvious.

Her saving grace is that Ben isn’t there when people find out, and she doesn’t think anyone will tell him. She’s the only person he gossips with.

She honestly thinks that if he finds out, it will probably be because of Poe’s big mouth.

But that’s not how it happens.

The way people treat her around the building changes very slightly. Some people stop talking when she walks by, and she knows they’re talking about her. Two people offer her some old baby clothes, which she gratefully says yes to, and quite a few people ask her what the gender is, and Rey wonders if she should know by now.

Mitaka is sweeter to her, bringing her ginger ale and pretzels from the vending machine. One day he even hands her a tiny yellow teddy bear, something he clearly picked up on a whim. Rey smiles and hugs him, then bursts into tears over it.

She might wonder what’s wrong with her, but she knows. Mood swings.

It isn’t long before Ben has one of his extra crabby days, coming in complaining about babies and inconsiderate neighbors and proceeding to snap orders at his subordinates, including Rey.

It’s early afternoon, and he has circles under his eyes, and he’s chewing her out over something; she’s not even sure what. She stopped listening a few seconds in and is just waiting for him to finish so it’s out of his system and they can go about their day.

But then Mitaka, sweet gentle Mitaka who never raises his voice and is normally terrified of Ben, stands up and growls, “That’s enough!”

Ben stops to stare at his assistant; Rey stares, Poe stares, everyone in hearing range stares.

Mitaka is fuming, standing up to Ben in a way he never has for himself. “You do not talk to a pregnant woman that way.”

Ben blinks at him.

Rey pales.

And then, slowly, so slowly, Ben turns his head to meet her eyes. “You’re—”

She doesn’t say it’s yours. She doesn’t say surprise!

No, she doesn’t do anything except cover her mouth with a shaking hand, her eyes filling, and run away.

Ben wants to throw something, smash things, destroy his entire fucking office.

But if he does that, everyone will know that he cares that Rey is pregnant. That he cares very much, more than he should as her boss.

She’s pregnant.

He should have known someone like her wouldn’t be single. She never mentioned a boyfriend, but why would she? Ben is just the asshole who sends her on his frivolous errands, not a friend.

She didn’t even mention being pregnant, when even Mitaka knew.

Ben needs a break. He needs sleep. He needs to get out of here.

He goes to his parents’ house. It’s quiet there, even though he knows his dad is probably around somewhere. And if not Dad, then the butler definitely is.

Ben has been avoiding the place since Halloween, but he doesn’t feel the same all-encompassing need when he pauses by the bathroom where he’d been with the angel.

She’s a nice memory.

But she isn’t Rey.

Who is pregnant with another man’s child.

Ben punches the doorway, and he hears a crack, but it’s not the wood that gives.

He holds his injured hand and lets out a long litany of ever more creative curses.

That’s how his dad finds him. Clutching a broken hand and cursing his entire existence.

His dad takes him to his study and offers him a stiff drink.

Ben takes it. Then another. By his third, he’s loose enough to tell his dad about Rey, about finding out she’s pregnant—

“Yours?” his dad asks.

Ben winces and shakes his head.

His dad grunts and nods. “Sorry, kid.”

It’s probably the most meaningful conversation they’ve had in years.

Rey finds Ben much more lenient after Mitaka blurted out her secret to him. She finds a green smoothie on her desk the next day, and she would think it’s from Mitaka except for the yellow post-it on top with the word Sorry scrawled across it in Ben’s lovely handwriting.

She’s almost into her second trimester, and the reality of her situation is starting to sink in.

She looks at cribs and carriers and car seats and all of it is just so… expensive.

The baby’s father has more than enough money, she sometimes thinks. It wouldn’t kill him to part with a little of it for child support.

But she still doesn’t tell him.

She doesn’t know how.

And he really, really hates kids.

As the nausea and exhaustion start to abate, she realizes exactly how tired he looks every single day.

So when he hands her his credit card for lunch, she takes it and looks up some product reviews online, then heads out with a spring in her step to find what she’s looking for.

While she’s making her purchase, she sees the baby aisle and picks up three boxes of diapers. She lugs them all the way to his building, knocks on his neighbor’s door, and it opens to a young woman who greets her with a confused smile.

“Hi!” Rey says brightly. “I’m your neighbor’s assistant’s assistant. He wanted you guys to have these, as an apology for being a dick.”

The young woman looks at the boxes of diapers but doesn’t move forward or open the door any wider. “Um…” she finally says once Rey’s smile starts to feel strained. “The Thompsons only use organic cloth diapers.”

Rey’s smile finally collapses, and she stares at the young woman in front of her in dismay. “But…” Free diapers. Free. Diapers. “It’s a peace offering.”

“I’m sorry,” the young woman says, grimacing and starting to shut the door. “I’m just the nanny.”

Rey sucks in a breath, her face heating, and watches the door close in front of her.

She turns to the boxes beside her. Almost a hundred dollars worth of diapers.

She could take them. Keep them for her baby. Ben probably wouldn’t mind, and it is his kid, so technically he should be paying for this kind of stuff anyway.

But that feels more than just dishonest.

It feels like stealing.

So, even though she’s tired and wants to cry, she sucks it up and returns the diapers to the store.

If she does cry a little bit on the way, that’s between her and the other bus passengers.

She really hates hormones.

Ben gets an alert on his phone about a purchase at Target of all places, when the card in question ought to be with Rey who should be getting his lunch.

Of course, he confronts her when she gets back, two hours later, and…

To his horror, she begins to weep.

Mitaka and Dameron both glare at him, starting to stand up, and Ben wonders if she’s doing this to avoid getting in trouble.

But it’s half-hearted when he mutters, “This still doesn’t explain the charges…”

“It’s not… I’m not… I’m okay!” she wails, and that still doesn’t explain the charges.

“Just… in my office, okay? And stop crying.”

“I’m trying!” she snaps, and that seems to stop the tears for a second, but then she goes back to rubbing at her eyes. “I hate this,” she says too low for anyone else to hear.

He guides her into his office and shuts the door as she takes a seat. His face feels hot, and there’s this sense of shame, like he’s done something wrong, and he hates it. It makes him angry. “I’m not trying to interrogate you,” he grumbles.

“And I’m not trying to manipulate you,” she snarls back at him, fierce despite her red eyes and wet face. “I’m not crying to make you feel like shit, Ben; I’m pregnant. It just happens!” She waves her hands wildly. “I cried over a puppy yesterday. A puppy! It was just so brown and floppy-eared, and it tripped over its own paws, and I started crying so hard that complete strangers in the park asked me if I was okay!

“And last week, I spilled a milkshake, and Finn thought something had happened to the baby when I called him because I couldn’t even talk with how upset I was!

This is my life now. I’m a fucking mess, and you’re just going to have to deal!”

Ben wonders when he’d started leaning away from her, but he knows in his bones that he is legitimately terrified of this woman. So he clears his throat, straightens something on his desk, and says hesitantly, “Can I ask about Target now?”

She digs a Target sack out of her tote bag and dumps it on his desk in front of him. He hesitates to look inside, but at her impatient wave, he unearths… headphones.

He turns the box over in his hands.

“They’re noise-cancelling,” she says softly. “And there are some earplugs down in the bottom.” She gestures toward the sack, and he digs until he finds a tiny box with two pairs of earplugs. “They’re cheap, but.” She looks at her hands in her lap. “I thought it might help you sleep.”

He pulls the receipt out and notes one item (times three) is crossed off. “Diapers?” He looks up at her. She looks guilty, and sad, and he has the uncomfortable thought that she bought them for herself. With his card. Because why else—?

“I thought it would be a nice peace offering with your neighbors,” she says, and he can see fresh tears sliding down her cheeks. “But they didn’t want them.”

She sounds… crushed.

He makes his voice as gentle as he can when he says, “So you returned them?”

She nods and sniffles and tries to apologize for being so emotional.

Ben looks at the headphones and the earplugs and then at the crying woman in front of him. He rounds his desk and pulls her into his arms, fuck whether it’s appropriate workplace touching. “Thank you.”

She sobs against his chest for a bit, and he makes soothing nonsense noises.

He likes it. Having her in his arms like this. Being allowed to comfort her.

He hopes it can happen again sometime.

The bags under Ben’s eyes start to disappear, and he gets nicer in general but to Rey in particular. It makes her happy to see his rare smile when they’re having lunch together, and a handful of times she even makes him laugh.

She’s finally out of the nausea and exhaustion phase when he says, “Can I… ask?” And gestures hesitantly at her midsection.

She swallows and looks down at the meatball sub she’s been scarfing. With the return of her appetite, she’s been stuffing her face as much as possible. Ben hasn’t bothered to hide his amusement at how much she can eat in one sitting, and she hasn’t hesitated to chew with her mouth open when he makes an ass of himself.

“It was… unexpected,” she says, fixing her eyes on her sub.

“Finn is helping?”

The question startles her into looking up. “Finn?”

“The…” he gestures at her midsection again, “father? You mentioned him a while ago.”

“Oh, no. Finn’s not. The father is…” She stops herself. What is the father? You would be accurate, but… she’s a coward. He doesn’t ask about her progress on finding his angel, but he also hasn’t told her to stop looking. His affections are engaged with a phantom girl from a drunken hookup. A girl who doesn’t exist, not the way he thinks she does. “He doesn’t like kids.”

He leans forward, bracing an arm on his desk and frowning. “He won’t support you?”

She looks away, unable to hold his gaze. “I… I haven’t told him.”

He’s silent for a few seconds, and then he bursts out with, “That’s bullshit.”

Rey’s head snaps up, and she stares at him. He looks furious.

“You need to tell him,” he says, and it’s practically a command. There’s no give in his expression. “He needs to know.”

“He doesn’t want kids,” she replies, and it makes a pang pulse in her heart.

“I don’t give a fuck what he wants. He can man up and take responsibility for his actions. Even if he doesn’t want to help raise the kid, he should pay child support.”

“Would you?” she asks. She realizes it’s the wrong question when he stares at her, eyes wide and cheeks pink.

But he blinks and swallows and seems to come out of the stupor her question had thrown him into. “If I got someone pregnant, yeah. Of course.”

Her heart thumps double-time. “So… if the girl from Halloween called you up and said, hey, you knocked me up, give me money. You’d… be okay with that?”

He winces. “I mean, it’d be a lot. But yeah. If it really was mine,” and he emphasizes this part, adding eye contact to suggest how unlikely he’d find it, “I’d make sure it was taken care of financially.”

She thinks about that, lets it sink into her and loosen something in her sternum while it tightens something in her stomach. “I don’t want to just hit him up for money like that.”

He leans forward, piercing her with that stare that she tries to remember just right when she has her vibrator out at night.

(That’s another thing she didn’t expect about being pregnant: how horny she is all the time.)

“Rey, do you love that thing?” He points at her midriff, and she bristles a little at it being called a thing, her hands coming up to cover it.

But she answers. “I… yeah. I do.”

“Do you want what’s best for it?”

She nods.

“You’re not asking for money for yourself. You’re asking for money for your kid. For his kid. You’re asking so it can have food and clothes and braces and shit. This isn’t about you. It’s about doing what’s best for your baby.”

She lets that sink in and nods. Sighs and rubs her hand absently over the hint of a bump she can feel if she presses down. “He’s going to be really mad.”

Ben scoffs. “Fuck him. His feelings aren’t your responsibility.”

That makes her laugh, but it makes her sad, too. “You’re kind of smart, for a jackass.”

He grins. “Thanks.”

She tells her friends first. They react with predictable surprise, but they get over it pretty quickly.

She needs them in her corner for this, in case it all goes as badly as she fears it will. And she needs ideas for how to break the news.

“Dress up in your Halloween costume and head in to work. Bam,” Finn says.

Rose rolls her eyes, and Rey grimaces.

“Go over to his apartment,” Rose says. “Or invite him to yours. You’ll want privacy, and it’s better not to do it at work.”

“Yeah, but what if he murders me?” It’s not a real worry, but she expects him to be very very angry. He might yell.

No, he will definitely yell. He might throw something. Probably not at her, since she’s never seen him do that to anyone in the office, but maybe he was just holding back? Maybe he likes throwing things at people. Maybe it’s his favorite sport.

“He won’t murder you,” Rose replies, rolling her eyes at Rey now. “And we’ll know exactly where you are, so he’d totally get caught if he did.”

“You know, I’m kind of concerned by all this murder talk,” Finn offers. “What if he really does try to hurt her?”

“He won’t,” Rey says, the words coming before she has time to think about them. She knows he won’t, not on purpose.

Not physically, anyway.

She reminds herself that this was Ben’s idea as she knocks on his apartment door.

He can’t get pissed at her for doing exactly what he said to do.


He seems surprised to see her, of course he does, he wasn’t expecting her. He’s dressed down, in a navy sweatshirt and jeans, and he frowns but moves aside when she asks to come in.

She pulls a photo out of her tote bag and hands it to him, freshly downloaded and printed from Rose’s Instagram.

This one shows her, Rose, Paige, and Finn all crowded together for a selfie. The angel costume is bright and obvious and unmistakable.

And it’s unmistakably Rey in the bright light of the flash. Anyone who’s spent any time with her would know that.

Ben goes very still, staring at it, and Rey can’t help herself. “You’re kind of an idiot,” she murmurs fondly. “There have been pictures of that party up on Instagram for ages. Tagged, even.”

He covers his mouth with one hand, brows coming together. The photo shakes in his hand, and he moves his eyes to look at her. Sets the photo aside. “Why didn’t you say something?” He looks hurt, confused, upset.

“You were kind of a dick,” she offers.

He winces.

“At first,” she clarifies. “And then… the longer it went, the harder it was to tell you the truth. And it’s not like you—”

His hand falls away from his mouth. “Not like I what?” There’s that aggression she’d expected. It doesn’t make it any easier to face.

She looks down at her hands. “You would have been disappointed. If you’d known it was me.”

“Do not presume to tell me what I would have felt,” he snaps, fury wiping away the last traces of vulnerability.

She flinches. Nods. “Okay.”

“So when I asked you to look for… for you… that’s when you figured it out?”

She shakes her head. “I knew the first time I ran into you again. You were saying something about wanting your neighbors to smother their baby.”

"Ah." He grimaces, and his cheeks go pink.

“It’s a big reason why I hesitated to tell you about… about this,” she says, pressing a hand to her abdomen. Then, because he clearly doesn’t understand yet, she adds, “The doctor said your condom must have been really shitty.” She’s embarrassed by the way her voice breaks and the way her eyes fill. “I mean, obviously you’ll want to confirm it. We can do a paternity test, I don’t mind, but there’s no one else it could be, so…”

She cuts off when his mouth covers hers, his large palms cupping her shoulders. She gasps, and he takes advantage of her parted lips, sliding his tongue inside.

The sensation goes straight between her legs.

She wrangles enough of her self-control to push him away, and she has to ignore the way his lips and cheeks are flushed. “Is this because I’m her?” she asks, wary.

He frowns and blinks. “What?”

“The angel,” she clarifies. “You’ve been looking for her, building her up in your head. I’m not some fantasy lay, Ben. I’m a person. With another person growing inside me. I’m not interested in games.”

He shakes his head. “I don’t give two fucks about the angel. I haven’t for a while. I want you because you’re you.” He runs a hand through his hair and looks around like he expects someone to come out and yell that it was all just a prank, and then he tosses her a shrug that makes him look a lot more like his irritable self. “I’m not saying I’m not angry. But…” His gaze softens, and he reaches for her, tugs her in, and she goes. She lets him pull her against his body. “I’ve liked you for a while.”

She raises an amused brow at him, trying to hide her relief. “You think because I slept with you and am carrying your illegitimate child that I like you back?”

He presses his forehead to hers and murmurs, “I’m willing to risk it.”

“Have you taken your prenatal vitamins today?”

Rey rolls her eyes from where she’s talking to Mitaka. “Yes, Dad.”

Ben just smirks and winks, setting a drink with a straw on Mitaka’s desk by her hand. “Good girl.”

Rey picks the drink up and sips, sighing when thick sweet milkshake hits her tongue. Chocolate, just like the one she sent him out for last night. “You’re an angel.”

“Nah, that was you,” he shoots back, then disappears into his office.

Mitaka looks between her and Ben’s office door, brow furrowed. “Do I want to know?”

“Probably not,” she admits and takes another long drag.

Rose does finally blow up — at both Poe and Finn, and both men are beside themselves trying to apologize. From what Rey hears, Finn didn’t know Rose felt left out, and Poe didn’t realize that Rose and Finn used to date. Poe apparently has a pretty strict “don’t date your friends’ exes” policy.

“There was this whole thing with my friend Zorii before I left for Brazil,” Poe says, “where I hooked up with her ex-girlfriend, like The One Who Got Away kind of ex-girlfriend, and I just… I’d rather keep good friends than complicate everything with sex, you know?”

Finn looks a little disappointed at that, but later it comes out that Poe doesn’t believe in monogamy, and Finn looks surprised but maybe also like he dodged a bullet.

Because Finn believes in monogamy. He believes in monogamy very much.

Before long, she’s happy to see her friend group fall into a comfortable give-and-take where Rose doesn’t feel left out, and Finn can laugh at Poe’s flirtations without looking like he’s missed out on true love.

Maybe the balance between the three of them will shift again some day, or someone else new will come in to disrupt things, but for now everything is peaceful and good.

For Rey’s part, she spends most of her spare time with Ben, who (like Finn) also believes in monogamy, and she makes him have her friends over for dinner a few times. She tells him he has to be nice, but when she sees him with Finn and Poe and Rose and Paige, being charming in a way she only ever really sees when they’re alone, she realizes she had nothing to worry about.

Ben tells Finn how he thought Finn was the father of Rey’s baby, and Finn laughs so hard that he chokes. After Poe pounds him on the back a few times and Finn catches his breath, he assures Ben that there’s never been anything between himself and Rey. Rey has already told Ben that, so he knows. Still, he seems pleased to hear it again, and the “Finn is Rey’s baby daddy” becomes an in-joke that somehow gets mentioned in front of the wrong person at work because soon it’s all over the office.

She and Ben don’t bother correcting anyone — it’s actually funny except for the handful of people who look at her growing belly and turn their noses up at her now.

They still haven't corrected anyone when she’s eight months along and Mitaka organizes an office baby shower for her.

People are very confused when Ben sits by her side for it and Finn throws his arm around the back of Rose’s chair, looking on with a grin.

Rey knows her friend well enough to know that he is lapping up those reactions as they look from him to Rey to Ben and back. Some are quicker on the uptake than others, and Rey has to stifle a laugh herself at the first few lightbulb moments.

She thinks no one has the guts to comment, but then Poe leans forward and says, “So, Solo. Rey won’t tell us the story of how you knocked her up. Care to share?”

Ben turns delightfully red, and Rey feels her own face heat. For one, Leia is right there (giving Poe a quelling look; she actually knows they met at her Halloween ball; and, though they didn’t mention that they defiled her bathroom, it’s pretty obvious that’s when they hooked up).

“I do not care to, no,” Ben says mildly, his fingers twitching on his knees in what she knows is a nervous tic. “Also, I could definitely report you to HR for that.”

Rey twines the fingers of her left hand with his right and rests her head on his shoulder. Her hair is longer, fuller and shinier, one of the few positive side-effects of pregnancy, and she has let it grow out to enjoy it while it lasts. “We met before I started working here,” she offers, and looks up at Ben with a private smile; his lips twitch upward in response. “That was before I knew he was an asshole.” Her smile deepens, and Ben predictably rolls his eyes, but they’ve been over that ground enough that he knows how she feels.

He’s an asshole, but she loves him anyway. To which he calls her a brat, and they end up making out until Rey can’t stand it anymore and rips off her panties so she can push him down and ride him — the only comfortable position anymore with her huge belly in the way.

(She’s only gotten hornier as the pregnancy has progressed, but she hasn’t heard any complaints.)

Finn shoves a large gift their way, breaking the moment. “Open ours!”

“We went in on it together,” Rose says, leaning forward with an excited smile, and Poe wiggles in his chair.

Rey reads the tag. “From Finn, Rose, and Poe.”

It’s a stroller. A really adorable stroller in pink and purple with white polka dots.

Ben grimaces. “Am I going to have to be seen pushing that?”

“Yes,” Rey tells him, grinning. “Yes, you are.”

“I will pay money for photos,” Finn assures her.

“Hear hear!” calls Mitaka with a cheerful grin. He’s less intimidated by Ben now, or maybe Ben is less intimidating. Either way, he doesn’t stop smiling when Ben glares.

“Have you picked a name for her yet?”

Rey catches Ben’s eye, and he bites his lip. “We were thinking maybe something after one of Ben’s grandmas.”

“Padmé and Breha,” he offers, with a glance at his mom.

“I just want to point out,” Poe says, lifting a finger and capturing the room’s attention, “that ‘Poe’ is a great name for boys and girls.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” Rey says, squinting suspiciously at him as several people chuckle.

Leia has already given them a crib that transitions into a toddler bed, but she hands them a gift card for $200, and Rey hugs her with wet eyes. She’s never not going to feel indebted to this woman for her kindness and generosity; Leia was good to her even before she knew it was her grandbaby growing in Rey’s belly, and she’s only gotten more loving since they told her the truth.

Ben’s dad gave them a bottle of Jack Daniels when he found out, saying they’d need it. “After the baby,” he clarified with a glance at Rey’s belly.

All in all, Rey feels remarkably lucky that her pregnancy has resolved into such warmth and love. She’s still scared, doesn’t know if she’ll ever not be scared of messing up the little life within her as badly as her parents messed her up.

But it all feels so much more possible when she’s not facing it alone.