It was a night like many others, a young Ben Solo stood amongst the stars, watching from his perch at his window as the sun made it's quick descent on the horizon - bleeding an assortment of colours that dulled as more time passed until Chandrilla was bathed in darkness. Lights around the city flickered to life to battle the shadows away whilst Ben sat by his window and basked in the serenity of it all, the voices that whispered and lingered inside his mind were quiet for once; something that maybe he should've questioned but he was just so tired that the thought slipped from his mind without much of a fuss.
The voices and people bathed in blue weren’t always sinister or evil, some were soft and kind; appearing when he was alone and needing them the most. But, the kind ones were few and steadily growing more rare to see since the dark shadow had begun looming within his mind.
However, there was one woman he would never forget; one who had appeared the most, who didn’t hesitate to wipe his tears and embrace him when he was feeling sad, so he was surrounded by her hair full of flowers. She never spoke, just peered at him with those sad, sad eyes and would hold him close to her chest.
Despite many abandoning him, she remained by his side; both in his dreams and when he was alone.
The young boy leaned heavily against the wall next to him, eyes brimming full of stars as he reached out with the force to feel eveything around him.
Further into the city, a bright light burst into the world - wailing for the comfort of the warmth she had just left - and he felt the overwhelming joy from two parents as they smiled and couldn't stop smiling at this child that was theirs; evidence of their love.
He couldn’t help but wonder what his own parents had felt when he had been brought into the world... Did his mother feel fear? Knowing her own mother had died during childbirth wouldn’t inspire much confidence. Did his father feel this overwhelming love these other beings did? After all, he had been abandoned as a child, so maybe he had felt nothing but bitterness for something he never had.
(Or, he had he been filled with a sense of purpose and duty and love at the sight of his child? The thought terrified him because, how was someone capable of containing such feelings inside them? And how could that be directed at him?)
Hurt welled up in his own chest at the reminder of his own parents, after all, they were absent and uncaring towards anything he achieved, only seeing fit to intervene when it benefited them and their legacy.
(That wasn’t right, something deep within whispered at how unfair he was being, it pushed forward soft, golden like memories.
Feeing weightless as he was lifted above his father with an over exaggerated grunt, giggles escaping his lips as his father imitated engine noises, whilst he was taken on the Kessel Run within his own bedroom - the stars hanging from his ceiling barely brushing his head as his father weaved him through them. Laughter spilling from both of them as his dad recounted the story with the events most probably twisted beyond recognition.
His cheeks were flushed from the happiness he felt, and tears trekked down his creased cheeks, as their joy echoed loudly throughout his room.
Later, he would be upset that his dad was going away for a while, and his mother would climb the tree he had scaled after he had learned of this. It was a common occurrence for him to climb this tree when he was upset, just as it was as common for her to appear maybe 20 minutes after he had been there; her regal attire becoming stained with the green moss from the bark. She would sit next to him, hand resting on his knee that dangled over the edge of the branch, and she would begin pointing out constellations that littered the night sky; retelling the tales as to why they were named such ridiculous names.
Eventually they would both tire, Ben would slump against her side - head resting on her shoulder, and she would draw a blanket around them both and join him in his slumber. Both would be feeling infinitely better in the morning. She hadn’t run out of stories yet, but, he knew she never would, despite there only being 23 official constellations.)
He mentally shoved aside the emotions thoughts of his parents evoked and released them to the force, breathing steadily as he did. Short lessons from his uncle filtering through his mind.
In an attempt to balance himself, he reached further within the force and ran with creatures that hunted during the night; feeling adrenaline pulsing through them as they focused on the kill, then, there were birds that soared freely in the open sky; weaving and diving past obstacles, searching for food within the water.
The fish scattered as they caught sight of the predators looming above them, some retreating into the depths of the sea and others; either bold, stupid or uncaring, remained near the surface, making an easy meal for the birds that would dive gracefully to reach them before flinging themselves out of the water to soar away with their catch firmly secure in their talons; droplets of water arcing and splattering being the only proof they had been there.
Deciding that he had seen enough, Ben returned to himself; wrapping the force around him like a comforting blanket, a comfort he needed as he thought about how his mother had told him earlier that he had to go with Luke - to train to become what she never did. The thought sent a wave of anger coursing through him: why did she get to decide his future?
From the moment he was born, it was him being taught to follow in both her and his grandfathers footsteps, it was Ben 'you would be an exellent senator', or it was his father encourging him to join him in being a smuggler.
And maybe he was being selfish, but he wanted something for himself, something where he wouldn't be shadowed by high expectations from everyone because 'oh, you're Leia and Han Organa's kid' - he wished for something he could choose for himself.
He just wanted something more then their legacy, he wanted to carve out his own place in the galaxy, even if it was agonising and painful and made his hands bleed at the effort. He would gladly go through the effort and pain because it would be his, not something he was given.
He wanted more than what they planned - he didn't want to follow a long dead order or be a slave to a new and growing senate - both would shackle him in place and not allow him to assist those who truly needed help. He didn't want to be a smuggler; didn't want to constantly move in fear of those who he wronged accuminated until he had no where left to hide, and if he ever found someone to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the galaxy, he didn't want to force them to live like that either.
Ben sighed and pushed himself away from the window, running his hand through his hair as he went, he wanted to cry until he drowned, or scream his frustrations to the world. But, deep down he knew they wouldn't hear him no matter how loud he screamed because they didn't want a son who wanted nothing to do with their legacy, and the thought hurt, it burrowed deep down into his soul, tearing into his already weakened love for them.
He yearned for a family who had nothing to do but love each other, who didn't have to leave due to a higher calling, a family not balancing on the tip of a knife that wobbled precariously everytime his parents were in a room together.
And maybe that was selfish of him - for wanting so much... But, surely everyone deserved a family?
In an attempt to stop these negative thoughts from continuing, he buried his head in his hands and sat heavily on his bed whilst once more resisting the urge to loudly voice his inner demons, then, he noticed that from between his fingertips he could see an eriee blue glow begin to shine from somewhere in front of him.
Shocked, he swiftly lifted his head to look upon a young looking man who shone with an etheral glow, the taller man began walking towards the younger of the two without speaking. Ben, torn between wanting to ask a million questions or get the hell away from this strange being - one that not only was obscured slightly by the hood hiding his identity but by the force as well - and could only watch as he advanced further, until he was within arms reach of the boy sitting on the bed.
Once he had stopped walking, he reached up and tugged the hood down, and Ben could finally see his face - something that didn't cause relief to crash through him because he still had no clue who this man was.
He had a scar - dangerously close to his left eye - brown curly hair framed his face and fell just above his shoulders, and his blue eyes were highlighted even further by the glow that eminated from his very being. The man appeared to also be doing a physical assessment of Ben, head tilted to the side in contemplation, then, he spoke, "Do you know who I am?" and then frowned when he shook his head in response.
The man hummed softly and spoke, "It doesn't matter now, I'm dead," he seemed to be amused as Ben choked on nothing but air in shock - a bitter smile warping his lips at the sound (one full of resentment and anger at himself) - he then made a sharp gesture with his hand, one that caused the force to pool thickly around him and dart towards Ben, who could do nothing but jolt slightly as it came in contact with him and memories began to invade his mind, ones that didn't- no they did belong to him. But not him, a future him. He couldn't help but press his head into his hands as it overwhelmed him.
"In trying to find who you were... You gripped onto who you thought I was, but allow me to show you grandson... Let me show you the truth," the ghost whispered over the screaming in his head, and his words revealed just who he was - answering the previous question he had asked Ben.
Then, between one moment and the next, he is shown a young boy being lured into a trap of safety, of being understood and cared for - his vision of the past is swiftly overlapped with his own future - and what has happened and what will merged until he could no longer tell the difference.
His only friend; the voice curling soothingly around his mind, would soon demand him to do unspeakable things and he would allow it as he would believe this person was the only one who truly cared.
He would be betrayed by those closest to him and he would break - shatter beyond all recognition, and the time would come when someone (light blazing so bright,
bright like the fire of the lava bubbling below, bright like the weapon that fired into the night sky and lit the universe aflame) would try and stop him; trying to bring him back to the light in one last futile attempt, and they would die - betrayal and anguish peering at him as his body would tumble down, down- and then he was looking down at him, his expression mirroring the others as he burned and writhed and screamed and-
Words echoed through his mind; lessons screaming to be learnt; mistakes not wanting to be remade.
“Stay with me mum.”
“Will you help me?”
Holding a woman close to his chest as he screamed with grief and anger and whywhywhywhyherwhymymotherwhywoukdthejediletthishappen and then rage as he ignited his ‘saber which did nothing to chase the darkness filling his soul as he cut down those who dare hurt his family; his mother- and then his face is suddenly illuminated by crimson as the darkness blotted out the sun, and the roar of his weapon did not silence the three screams that echoed in the space around them as the forth fell and fell and did not stop falling-
“I wasn’t strong enough to save you mum.”
“You’re scared that you will never be as strong as Darth Vader.”
The need to be more, to be stronger, courses through him, and he vows to never allow anyone he loves to die again (telling himself it’s from a place of anger and not fear that digs its talons into his chest and constricts his breathing)- and that same emotion is coursing through him again but this time he has much more difficulty hiding it because she’s inmyhead and imscaredsoscaredidontwannabebetrayedagain-
“I killed them all.”
“Kill them all.”
The two overlap, one was broken yet unwavering as reality crashed down on his weary soul, as Anakin broke through the haze that was Darth Vader, and then other was an order by a boy hiding behind a mask, a boy who didn’t want to face the atrocity he had just committed.
“I’m not the Jedi I should be, I want more and I know I shouldn’t.”
“He’s got too much of Darth Vader in him.”
Ambition and love clouded his gaze and didn’t allow him to see what was right in front of him; too scared of the future his visions predicted, that he ended up being the one to cause them. The title of Jedi only adding more pressure to his already cracking mind-
A name that held too much weight fell heavy on the young Solo’s shoulders, and he soon learned that names changed everyone’s judgement of you - their expectations; their fears. Especially as his raw power began to show - as it painfully reminded others of his grandfather, whilst Snokes presence tainted his force signature beyond recognition and soon enough, he and Kylo Ren were one and the same.
“Be mindful of your thoughts Anakin, they betray you.”
“Careful Ren that your personal interests not interfere with orders from Leader Snoke.”
A Master who tried his best considering the war and the emotional turmoil he faced at losing his own teacher whose last words were not from a place of love, but duty. He tried so hard to teach and encourage him, but Anakin was already too old and wanting something to call his own after being a slave all his life, lessons of attachment fell on deaf ears and his attempts to speak to the Council of his worries went unanswered, then his padawan was knighted and he fell into the background as the war raged on around them.
Then, there was a Master who cared so little for him, his once tempting promises and kind reassurances became nothing but empty words that did little to soothe his raging mind, and maybe that was the point - he would become the ultimate Sith once he had been completely broken mentally and destroyed anything connecting him to the Light. He should’ve known he had been lied to from the very beginning, but, he didn’t. And this is where it led him: alone, uncared for and hated. It was too late for him to return to his old life, especially after all he had done in the name of the First Order, and so, Ben Solo was discarded and Kylo Ren thrived.
"I dont sleep well anymore and when I'm with you again im in agony.”
"I'm being torn apart.”
Two pleas of help from lost children going unheard as the one they speak to have no idea how exactly to assist them, but oh how they want to help.
“The boy you dream of, gone he is.”
“Your son is gone.”
Both are statements, firm and unwavering in the belief that all is lost. The first, is from the perspective of one who had never given any thought to change what had long become an Order shackled to a Senate that wanted nothing to do with true peace, from someone who had never wanted to change, and so is blind to the change that could happen. The other is from a boy refusing to fail the only one who had ever been there for him, wanting to believe that he had killed any shadow of his former identity from within himself by commiting patricide, by sacrificing a man who was capable of pulling him back to the light. But, they are both lies, and lies wither as time passes; until nothing is left but ash.
"There is no conflict."
“I know what I have to do but I don't know if I have the strength to do it."
Two souls believing they have control over how they feel, believing they are alone inside their turbulent minds, but their belief is fickle and wavering so it shows their hesitance to any who truly see.
For one, it is a son he thought he had killed before he had been delivered into the world - trapped inside his beloved as she choked on his regret and anger - and his childlike hope urges him to reconsider the path he had taken, he couldn't help but be reminded of his lost love, and he smiles despite the tears threatening to fall because, of course, she lives on within their children.
For the other, it was a father who seemed all too distant growing up; unknowing of the all-consuming love he felt for him, and he fell after showing an inch of what he felt for son through haunted eyes and a hand pressed to his cheek before falling, falling and never returning. No, that's a lie, he returns but as a memory, one that he wishes to draw into a hug as he says what he had longed all his life to hear. He is finally loved by the one he had always searched endlessly for approval, and he throws away all rements of his mistakes into the unforgiving water; not wanting to watch as it surged around what had become of his life, tears mingled with the salty air around him and he yearned to scream because of course he found the Light just a little too late. His family is already dead.
“I have failed you Anakin."
“I failed you Ben."
Regret. Teachers wallowing in nothing but regret and pain as they realise they have failed the one who trusted them the most. Students who not only sought out teachings and knowledge, but comfort and friendship too, and recieved only the former as they yearned for someone to fufil the latter - a need easily exploited by those searching for power. Soon, it was apparent just how easily one action could tear apart the galaxy and the lives of everyone in it.
In one lifetime it was a multitude of small things that continuously built, and wouldn't stop building a tower of anger and hate, and what toppled it was the distrusting Jedi Council that he had viewed as family... They demanded he give up everything for nothing in return - his mother, his past, his padawan and his wife, and he couldn't do it anymore. But their deaths didn't bring any of the relief he was promised, if anything it brought only more pain and anger - emotions he channelled into pure rage and slaughtered any who stood in opposition.
Then in the other, he had woken abruptly to fearangersadness echoing in the force and his master was towering above him with his lightsaber raised to strike him down, he summoned his own weapon to defend himself and his Master screamed "No," and he couldn't help but laugh because he was begging for mercy after attempting to kill his nephew in his sleep and he raised his hand and brought the roof down on someone he thought he trusted and loved to get away. Later, he would learn of all his friends who had died within the temple - slaughtered by a fire that had raged suddenly during the night - and he would believe it to be his fault, and he would silently mourn those lost. Then, he was ordered to hunt the survivors; echoing an order of so long ago, and instead of turning them to the Dark, he killed them so they wouldn't feel the pain he did.
“Anakin Skywalker, was weak. I destroyed him."
“He was weak and foolish, just like his father so I destroyed him"
It was the absolute belief that all had been lost as hatred and rage curled around their words that dripped from their foaming mouth like poison. It was the Darkness clouding everything that had once been good and warping it into something completely unrecognisable, and leading themselves to believe they had destroyed any remnants of the Light.
But, the universal laws do not just allow matter to be destroyed, it is instead converted into something new.
So maybe, just maybe, they were wrong, and that small piece of doubt tore them apart internally as time passed. After all, the smallest, painless wounds were the ones that would shatter your world, leaving you to glue it back together - it never being the same as before.
“I feel the good in you, the conflict."
"I feel the conflict in you, it's tearing you apart."
Then, amidst the darkness and the ash and the burning of the universe, there was a Light; one that was half of a whole he barely knew, one that was raised in the sand protected by an old and weary Light from another time; one that loved and believed in him. His son turns to the emperor and throws away his lightsaber, choosing death over darkness. He had put reason over impulsiveness. Darth Vader found his way back to the Light by seeing his son Luke become everything he never could be, and for the first time in centuries Anakin Skywalker looked around him, felt the wide, open chasm in the Force, and mourned and raged, and then he died. But, she is there, reaching out with a gentleness remembered from long ago, and they are reunited among the stars.
A similar phrase is uttered to another by a girl; a beacon of Light, and she believes in Ben, she loves Ben, and so he chooses her over another, and then he is reaching for her, arm outstretched for eternity as his heart falters and cracks. But in the end; despite the betrayal, he cups her Life in his hands and gives her his own, a smile gracing his fading face as he is with family again.
(However, what many overlook is the similarities between father and son. The overconfidence when hopelessly outnumbered, attempts to be stern failing terribly, and the cockiness to hit targets without aiming.
And oh- the all consuming love they felt for any they cared for, one that was hidden beneath the bluster and showmanship. Something that was shared in moments of pure content - an embrace shared after a battle won, or tenderly holding a child under the cover of stars; raising him high in the sky as his small hands reached for the twinkling lights.
It was the reason many failed to picture a man behind the mask - they wished to believe no living being was capable of such cruelty, and so he was known as nothing but a monster.)
And then this child; after witnessing what had past and what he would become, looked at the ghost with tears blooming in his eyes and whispered all so quietly, "Thank you, grandfather," and when the other went to speak, Ben did not interupt (he was taught better manners than that), his eyes betrayed his want to say more so Anakin paused; now knowing the importance of such subtly - a skill he wished he had developed in his youth, and allowed the younger of the two to continue, "Thank you, for being the only one telling me the truth."
Anakin, stunned by this positive response, felt tears pool in his own eyes because where he had expected anger, he saw grattitude, and where he had wanted the young child to accept what he had said, he didn't actually think that would be true. And he knew, and he was so grateful, that he had gotten to speak to him in time - before the Dark shadow had corrupted his Light and twisted him until he became something he no longer wished to be, and he smiled.
For the first time in centuries, Anakin Skywalker smiled and smiled and couldn't stop smiling because Ben Solo - the boy named after a man made of persuasive words and a heart of kyber, would do what he could not; he would look into the Abyss and when it looked back he wouldn't Fall, no, he would stare right back and refuse to stand down with his head held high as he screamed in defiance. And with this one interaction, the timeline veered off course, the future reformed into another. One where there was still pain and hope, but, not at the cost of Ben Solo.
He looked once more at the child, really looked, and saw a boy who had aged all too quickly to understand what was happening inside his mind, a deep sadness curled around his heart and urged him to embrace Ben and never let him go, his arms made an aborted motion before they fell back to his sides. Instead, Anakin spoke, voice thick with emotion, "No Ben, thank you."
Ben returned the smile with his own and embraced Anakin, who opened his mouth in warning but prompty shut it when he felt the warm body pressed against his own; shocked that the child was able to touch him, he then wrapped his arms around the other and the two stood there, smiling despite the sadness clinging to their very souls.