They fight for hours, perfectly, frustratingly matched as equals. Clouds roll in as they trade insubstantial wounds, the earth churning to mud beneath their boots as the heavens pour down on them, rain stinging against scorched flesh and blinding their eyes. This tiny girl won’t quit, won’t give in to the overwhelming frustration as darkness settles, driven back by the scarlet and azure lightsabers that clash against each other.
Their last fight. Kylo Ren feels destiny in the air, flickering with the lightning strikes that spike through the roiling clouds. He would kill the girl and darkness would rule over the galaxy forever. Lord Snoke has ordained it be so.
The pace of the battle slows as the night drags on, muscles protesting at each swing, each block, each counter, fighters regressing to the basics as exhaustion sets in. Finally Rey errs, blocking at the wrong angle. His lightsaber shrieks as the blades skitter against each other and then he shears through the metal hilt just above her hand. The blue light dies instantly and he can hear the white hot metal hiss against her palm, her wide shocked stare bathed in harsh crimson light. Kylo grins and the girl narrows her eyes to slits.
Instead of standing tall, dying nobly like her Master had, Rey throws the detritus of his grandfather’s legacy in his face. Dodging the scrap of glowing debris foils his execution swing, gives her time to gather Force and adrenaline in a burst of speed that seems to blur her outline, circling behind him and springing at his unprotected back like a wild Nexu. He turns to follow her, but she collides with knees and elbows, high on his back and he goes down under the unexpected weight, lightsaber spitting and hissing against the wet ground. They are both soaked with mud instantly, but he can’t unseat her, can’t do much more than jab blindly behind him as she elbows him in the back of the head until galaxies spin before his eyes.
Thin fingers tear at his hair, scrambling for purchase on the dripping strands, forcing his head back to the angry sky. It’s over, destiny here at last. Kylo struggles to breathe, back arched agonizingly against her knee and something cold brushes against his neck. No real points for guessing what it could be at this stage.
“Do it.” Perhaps this is how Han Solo felt in his last moments, faced with his inevitable mortality.
The blade, cheap metal, if he feels like guessing, trembles against his skin, nicks his flesh when he swallows for what is probably the last time. The pressure on his scalp tightens, pulling him back a few agonizing inches further, and then driving him down at what feels like hypersonic speeds, face first into the rocky, muddy ground. Light explodes in his head and is immediately swallowed by darkness.
It is surprising, and a little disappointing, to wake up at all after that. Everything hurts and he can feel a lump like a Crier egg on his forehead. The bench he’s lying on shudders and the sudden feeling of deceleration indicates a ship, one pulling sharply out of hyperspace.
Footsteps ring on a metal floor and Rey appears in his peripheral vision. She looks tired, a burn on her cheek, a rough dressing on her arm and she regards him cautiously. “How are you feeling?”
“Shitty,” Kylo turns his head away from searching eyes. “Where am I?”
“Entering orbit around D’Qar,” The Jedi replies crisply, checking his injuries with a professional level of disinterest. “We’ll land in an hour. Can you sit up?”
Kylo finds he can, more or less, though the walls spin for several seconds too long before stabilizing in their proper place. Fingertips against his temples, at the edge of what feels like a blooming bruise, he takes several deep breathes, considering his next move. Maybe he could kill his nemesis now, deep in enemy space and probably tracked by several Resistance ships. Maybe he could escape, but well, what’s the point? She doesn’t seem to need a weapon to wipe the floor with him, and something bronze swings on her hip. He has the sinking feeling that she has a lightsaber, in this moment, and that he does not. “Am I a prisoner, then?”
As though sensing his thoughts, Rey twitches a fold of her long tunic forward, hiding the crosspiece of metal from his sight. “I suppose that depends on you.” She hedges, cautious. “And General Organa.”
Light flashes behind his eyes as Kylo lets his head fall back against the reinforced steel wall of the ship. “Are you sure you wouldn’t just kill me now? It would be more merciful.”
He might be wrong, but there’s the briefest flash of twinkle in her serious gaze. “It’s not my judgment to make.” A communicator crackles in the cockpit of the ship and Rey glances over to the front of the ship. “Don’t go anywhere.”
Kylo scoffs at that, lungs protesting the exertion. Out of the small sliver of windshield, he watches lush jungle rise up to meet the nimble little craft, swallowing them up as Rey brings them down in a small green clearing. It’s one thing to know she’s a skilled pilot and another to see her in action. The engine dies with a whine and she returns, offering him a hand up. Grudgingly, he takes it, a heavy hand slapping on her shoulder as forgotten injuries resurge for a moment. Rey is strong under his hand, bracing him upright until he’s able, if not willing, to limp towards the lowered ramp.
He freezes when he sees who is waiting on the other side of the clearing, and Rey is having none of it. Strong fingers grab him by the scruff of his robes and a few curls of hair in her fist as well as she propels him forward. The absurd disparity between their heights forces him to lean at an absurd angle as she shoves him through the tall grass. She stops short, another pull on his tender scalp and high-collared shirt and inclines her head to the regal woman in a dark blue flight suit. “General Organa, I have returned from my mission.”
Eyes turned ancient with sadness stare at Kylo Ren for a very, very long time and it takes him several seconds to realize the pressure on his scalp, on his neck has abated and he can stand straight before the raking eyes of the resistance leader. “I can see that. Rey, please, excuse us.”
“Are you sure that’s wise, General?” Kylo can feel the Force gathering around the General, his mother, at the Jedi’s question, an instinctual, defensive reaction.
General Leia Organa huffs a small, empty laugh. “I am sure of nothing any more, my dear. However, I would like to speak to my son. Alone.”
“As you wish.” He felt, rather than saw, Rey give a short bow and back off to the tree line, power flickering on the edge of his vision as the knight takes up her post on the edge of earshot.
Then it’s just him and Leia Organa-Solo. Alone together for the first time that he can remember. He’s never known what to say to this woman, this driven, political creature who inhabits spheres beyond his comprehension. So he says nothing and simply looks at her, simply feels her weathered strength through the Force.
Her lower lip twitches and she reaches her hand out, slowly, like he’s a wild animal that might turn and flee at a sudden gesture. “Oh, Ben-“
The name brings him to his knees before her, head bowed, the back of his neck exposed to her for an execution. “Please,” Kylo Ren can’t look at her, he has no power here. Even his pleading is less than the wind rustling the leaves around them. “I am unworthy.”
With a sigh and the creak of old bones Leia kneels before him, tugging him from a prostrate position until he can rest his head on her shoulder. “Worth has nothing to do with it, my dear, dear boy.” Her voice trembles, but beneath him she is strong.
There’s a trial, which is expected. You don’t join an order that blows up two thirds of the ruling government, get captured and not have to pay the balance. It’s a small, private event, the five most powerful members of the resistance, plus Rey standing guard, and that is a surprise. A mother’s sentimentality maybe, or perhaps a calculated move not to alienate.
Kylo ignores the words, the serious discussion on his past actions. He watches Rey instead, the subtle play of emotions as her eyes flick restlessly between the speakers, always coming back to his face. He doesn’t know what to think about that.
The Resistance does not pardon him, not exactly, but they declare Kylo Ren dead and offer him a new identity, a new lease on life if he serves their cause. Kylo wonders how many of opportunities those a person can reasonably expect to get in a life. This is his third. Perhaps there is a god; if so he has a rather nasty sense of humor about the whole thing.
Rey waits with him, as the men and women in serious dark uniforms filter out of the room, and touches his shoulder, ever so lightly. “Are you okay?”
He doesn’t know how to respond to that. It’s the first time anyone’s asked that of him.
It’s not fair to say that Kylo Ren comes home. The base where the resistance fighters live has never been his home, but General Organa, for he cannot think of her as mother, they have both gone too far, made too many choices that can’t simply be undone by wishing, finds him a place to sleep and keeps his secrets.
He is just Kylo, here, a traitor to the First Order. It’s close enough to the truth, he supposes.
There is work here for him, intel that he transcribes for the leaders at first, pages and pages of notes drawn from memory, everything he knows from twenty years in the First Order. He writes without thinking too much about the why, until his hand cramps and he sleeps, briefly, fitfully, forehead pressed against the stacks of papers that accumulate on the desk that becomes his.
When he has no more to add, they find him new tasks, train him to new functions. Kylo learns how to fix the mismatched blasters they have in the armory, how to manage the logistics of the growing movement. Against all odds, Rey seeks him out, hunts him down in his dusty office and eases into the space.
“How’re you holding up?”
Kylo’s getting better at answering that question; he shrugs, “Fine. Can I help you with something?” He asks eventually, because she’s just standing there looking at him with too old, too kind eyes and he doesn’t know how to handle it.
“Uh, yeah,” Rey drops her eyes and gives him the shyest look he’s ever seen from a girl, bar none. “I was wondering,” She takes a deep breath and then burbles out, too quickly, “Would you consider, maybe, joining me for sparring in the mornings? If it’s not too much trouble, I mean.”
Kylo blinks, stares, tries to get his mind and mouth aligned in something more useful than dumb-struck idiocy.
Rey turns as red as a pom-fruit, ducks her head and turns to go, “Of course you wouldn’t, I’m sorry I asked.”
“I don’t have a lightsaber.” Kylo blurts out because he has to say something and it’s impossible that he could deserve this kind of chance, but unless he’s hallucinating it’s right here in front of him. If he can stop being a huge prat for just thirty seconds. Awkwardly, he runs a hand through the tangled mess that his hair’s become.
“Neither do I,” The corner of her mouth twitches in smile. “Is seven, tomorrow, okay?”
They become friends, after a fashion, and Kylo finds he likes it; likes having someone who seeks him out at meals and leisure time. She’s learning, adapting to this life the same way he is, and when everyone else seems like lunatics, she’s normal.
Fighting with her is fun, now that they’re not trying to kill each other. Armed with green sticks cut from the jungle they fence and he learns that she’s a dyed in the wool cheater, proud and quick tempered, but underneath, gentle. She beats him and offers her hand to help him up. He learns to take it gracefully, and to offer her his hand when he gets the edge on her.
She laughs when he helps her up, as though he hasn’t just sent her crashing through underbrush into a mud pit with a cleverly timed Force push. She seems to like touching him, and Kylo doesn’t know how to handle that either, except maybe he’s starting to think he likes it too.
She’s also driving him crazy. Her friends are different, physical, aggressive and it makes Kylo uncomfortable to see her playing grav-ball with them, disappearing under oversized male frames, kicking, screaming with laughter that makes his guts twist like there’s sandworms taking up residence in his intestines until she resurfaces with a grin and a wave to him, where he sits on the edge of the field with a textbook on the management of distribution networks.
For the first time in his living memory he’s given leisure time. He spends it hunched over books in the library or hiking through the jungle alone. He’s absorbed in an ancient work of fiction, lunch abandoned by his elbow, when a shadow falls over the pages of his book and thin fingers tug lightly on a wild lock of his hair. He can only think of one person who would dare greet him in this manner, and so he dog ears his page and puts the book down, looking up at mischievous green eyes. “Yeah?”
“Anyone home in there?” The knight smiles as she sits across from him, plate piled high as is her standard.
“Nah,” Kylo flicks her hand away and stirs his congealing stew with severely limited interest. “What’s up?”
“My name’s been pulled for a mission,” Rey eats properly now, more or less, no more shoveling food in like it might be her last meal, but still quick and efficient. “Coruscant, two weeks recon. I’m leaving tomorrow.”
His hands drift closer to hers as he absorbs the news. It’ll be the longest separation since she dragged him, kicking and screaming back home. “Worried I’m going to revert to my evil ways without you here to keep me on the straight and narrow?”
“Don’t even joke about that,” Rey grits her teeth and tosses her fork down. Her fingers find his and she threads her fingers around his, rubbing along callouses that have grown from his constant use of pens and machinist’s tools.
Kylo shivers under the touch and he tries to find the words to give this amazing woman what she’s searching for. “It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. You’ll be fine.”
“I know that,” Rey protests, “Just,” She seems as lost for words as he is, and instead stands, hinging forward at the waist to brush her lips against his cheek, run a finger along his jaw. “I’ll see you in two weeks, I guess.” She drops his hand and though she doesn’t quite run away she does leave her almost entirely untouched lunch behind.
Kylo knows that counts for something, but he doesn’t know what.
There’s a knock on his door one evening, after light’s out is called and the halls are dark. Kylo’s sprawled out reading the biography of Landro Calrissian, suspended in the perfect state between being tired enough to sleep and awake enough to go do something productive. He knows who it is, there’s only ever been one person who would come seek him out and it’s been a little over two weeks since she left. “It’s open.”
For an instant, Rey’s silhouetted against the dim lights in the hall, then she slips in and the sliver of light is extinguished. “Hey.”
Kylo sits up, suddenly self-conscious that he’s only half dressed in soft pants, that his chest is bare and he really doesn’t know how to deal with this scenario at all. “What’s up?” It seems like a relatively safe opener.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Rey stares at him for a moment, then blushes to the tips of her ears and looks at the worn carpet under her boots. “Can I, do you mind if I sit?”
“Knock yourself out,” He moves his legs to the side, giving her space on the edge of the bed. “How’d it go?”
Rey perches on the very edge of the bed, and it takes her a minute to comprehend the question, “Oh, fine, I guess. I just got out of debriefing. The General was pleased.”
Kylo frowns, taking in her tired eyes, the worn flight suit with the sleeves tied off around her narrow waist. “You came here immediately after debriefing?”
It’s hard to tell in the dark, but he thinks she blushes. “I just kept thinking, these last weeks, the way we departed. I wanted to see you.”
Abruptly he sits up, tosses the book aside. “I’m glad you’re back.” In the dark he finds her hand, wraps his fingers around hers, and cautiously, gently gives her wrist a tug.
“I missed you so much,” She doesn’t fall as much as launch herself against him, hands coming up to his face, tangling in his hair as she kisses him like the world is ending.
Kylo’s not so sure it’s not, really, but she fits against him like he was made for her and she’s all soft and hard and strong and sweet. Then her nails card against his scalp and he groans against her mouth, arching up. Ever the scavenging opportunist, she chases after the sound, exploring the cavern of his mouth, laving against his.
He’s never kissed anyone before her, but he knows with a wild, reckless certainty, that there will never be anyone after her either, and he kisses back, careful at first, and then more enthusiastically as she shivers against him and whimpers.
“I want to try something,” Rey says and Kylo doesn’t even have to think about it.
“Anything,” He means it, too. The strong, proud knight who’s all but moved in to his living space has given him so much, practically rebuilt him from scratch, that he figures anything she wants is hers for the taking, body and mind.
She’s looking at him from under her long dark lashes and it gives him a thrill to turn her face up to his with the lightest tough on her chin, spikes heat through his veins to press the lightest kiss on her mouth. “Just tell me what to do.”
Rey nips back, sighing in a quiet pleasure that springs from her soul, stretching over his lap and threading her fingers through his hair. “Okay, okay.”
Kylo groans at the sensation of her nails against his scalp. There’s nothing he knows that it can compare with. It’s warm and sweet and absolutely perfect. He watches as she slips from his lap, clad in one of his shirts and precious little else and stands in the middle of his room, head cocked to the side in thought.
“Can you sit up? Swing your legs over the side of the bed?”
Utterly mystified, he obeys, watching as she reaches up and frees her hair from its buns, shaking her tresses out so they dance just below her pale shoulders. “Like this?”
“Yeah,” Her smile, as far as he’s concerned, is the light side of the Force. “Perfect,” She closes the distance between them, bracing her hands on his knees and peppering his face with quick touches of her mouth, nipping delicately at his neck and smirking at his groan. “Shhh,” She soothes the bite with her tongue and whispers against his skin, “They’ll hear you.”
It is inconceivable that anyone could have mistaken this woman for anything as banal as an avatar of light. She’s white hot and cool-calm, good and wicked, perfectly human and perfect for him. “I’ll be good,” He smooths free flowing hair out of her face and murmurs the promise against the shell of her ear. It earns him a delicious shiver and her nails digging into his back.
“You’d better, or you’ll be hearing it from Poe tomorrow,” Rey threatens, peppering kisses down his sternum.
Kylo opens his mouth to say something generally offensive about the pilot who really should stop claiming to be the number one flier now that Rey’s got her wings but her tongue, soft and warm, flicks against his nipple and whites out his mind. She teases him with her mouth and fingers, along his ribs and abdominals. He burns where she touches him. If this is all she wants to try then he’ll die happy and not think twice about it.
Rey hesitates imperceptibly when her lips brush against the rough denim of his work pants and he hoists himself up on his elbows so he’s looking down at her, clever fingers undoing the fly on his pants and exposing his cock to the air. “Remember, you said you’d be good,” Her eyes glitter and she presses her lips against the freely weeping tip.
One hand knots itself in the blanket covering the bed and Kylo digs his nails into the meat of his thigh hard enough to bruise as he watches her kiss the head, pink tongue flicking out to taste the bead of clear fluid and mouths her way with lips and tongue down the sensitive underside and dear god he’s never even considered the possibility of this and the sensation swamps him. Her eyes are too bright and too dark, looking up at him from between his knees as she licks a torturous strip back up his length and he’s never been so turned on without worshipping her before, he has no idea how he’s not going to come too early and make a complete ass out of all of it. “Rey.”
She huffs a tiny sensual laugh, the warm air teasing his exposed skin even more. “You’re supposed to enjoy it, Kylo.” Gently she frees his hand from where he’s raising angry welts on his leg and nuzzles his palm, kisses his finger tips and with another luminous smile sucks lightly on his index finger before placing his hand in her hair.
“Oh,” It seems like the only reasonable thing to say as she opens her lips and takes his dick into her mouth, so soft and warm and wet that his eyes roll up in his skull for what feels like an eternity. Vision returns as she slides back up, that divine perfect mouth of hers doing something utterly indescribable to his senses. She slides back down and he can’t help himself, can’t contain the sigh that comes from deep in his soul or the way his fingers twist against her silky hair.
No one’s ever given him anything like this before, never looked at him the way she is, never clung to him the way she digs her fingers into the divots of his hips. It’s a terrible way to pay her back, but she undoes him so completely that his hips stutter and somehow she swallows him deeper and she hums while she does that and he comes with a guttural cry. Her arms pressing down on his thighs ground him as he comes down, as she plants a kiss by his hip and then squirms back up to his chest, lacing her arms around his neck and kissing him soundly. He tastes himself on her and he holds her like he’ll never let her go.