Something startled Rey awake from a rare deep sleep. She reached for her staff stowed above her bed before realizing that she wasn’t hunkered down in the remains of an AT-AT, that her staff no longer hung on the wall, but was propped in the corner of the space.
The steady roar of the ocean brought her slowly back to awareness. She had been on Ahch-To for months now, trying to slowly pull Luke Skywalker out from the mental shell he had constructed around himself. Trying to coax what training she could from him. Trying to convince him to join forces with the Resistance again.
She had been mostly unsuccessful.
He had given her a place to sleep, shared his provisions, and broke fast with her on rare occasions. Some days he would feel compelled to instruct her on little things: meditation, focus.
He wouldn’t pick up the lightsaber.
But most days, she didn’t even know where he was, where he slept, what he ate. She left him well enough alone, figuring this slow immersion in her presence would pay off eventually. That he would someday warm to the idea of fighting that good fight again.
But she was getting anxious, and the Force was restless within her. For weeks, months, since escaping Starkiller, her skin seemed to crawl with unused energy, with something impatient to be released.
She was beginning to fall back to sleep when she felt it again. That odd, insistent tug that had so abruptly pulled her from her rest. She sat up, heart hammering, and reached for the saber laying alongside her thin pallet.
Walking from the shelter of the cave, dressed in little else than a fluttering tunic, Rey half wished she had grabbed her staff instead. Much less capable of cleaving limbs from bodies, it was nonetheless a weapon she was much more comfortable wielding.
The scrubby ground was lit with the diffused light from two crescent moons under sparse clouds, making night vision a difficult task. But she saw him clearly.
He was wearing a simplified variation on his usual black cloak–thin, wispy pieces of dark fabric fluttering in the wind. He wore no mask.
Rey slowly raised the hilt of Luke’s saber, not yet igniting it. Kylo Ren raised a hand just as slowly and Rey felt the nudge of the Force. She let him calmly lower her unlit weapon, though she didn’t let it drop to the ground.
He didn’t make an attempt to come toward her, and as soon as her saber was back at her side, the pressure from his wielding hand vanished.
But the air was charged with him. The frantic stuttering of the Force beneath her skin leapt to his presence. The Force was strong on the island and Rey was never without its insistent vibration, but having Kylo Ren mere yards from her sent an electrical storm through her very sinews. The soft matter between her bones hummed with it and she didn’t know if she should be frightened or relieved.
“I couldn’t sleep,” he said suddenly, as if he were a child afraid of the dark.
Perhaps he was.
She shook the thought from her head, gripping the saber tighter but not raising it again. “How'd you find me?”
He appeared to be alone, and she heard no idling ships. But he was here, and that unnerved her.
He shifted as if to move toward her, but stilled. “I wish that I could lose you.” He shook his head as if in regret, then gestured weakly to her saber. “I'm alone.”
She hesitated, wishing she had more on than her long tunic, a belt to shove the weapon into, perhaps. Something on her bare legs. She didn’t trust him and she felt enormously vulnerable here on the cliffs, fresh from sleep and clumsily armed. But he had yet to advance on her, and she could sense no others. Even Luke was not within her sensory range. She was breathing nothing but the briny air of the sea and Kylo Ren’s denser energy. She could asphyxiate under his unwavering gaze alone.
“Why are you here, Kylo Ren?”
He did take a small step toward her then and Rey nearly staggered under the added weight. It wasn’t a direct line of the Force like he has used before, to extort her, manipulate her, incapacitate her. It was simply the space he inhabited, the energy that flowed in and out of him. It mingled with her own and she felt like she might collapse beneath it.
“I told you,” he said, the fingers of his right hand flexing in a small tick. “I couldn’t sleep.”
The clouds shifted slowly and she could see him more clearly now, the tenebrous light of the moon finally revealing more of his face to her. She gasped.
The scar was ragged and stark. Not the livid pink of a still fresh heal, but the hardened cord of years-long mended skin. White as the moons themselves, whiter than his already pale face, it looked like the terrible tail of a comet dashed across him. Small speckles of puckered skin surrounded it like a scattering of stars, evidence of burns from the sparks of her blade. It trailed over his cheek and interrupted the opposite dark brow, cruelly dividing this side of his face from the other.
And his eyes. They truly seemed to have not found rest since the months that Rey branded him with her survival. He looked ragged, and Rey wondered what had become of him once Snoke learned of her escape. What he had gone through to make it here alone.
He didn’t seem able to move any closer, so she went to him. She didn’t know why she felt so compelled to drown more thoroughly in the torturous cloud around him. But the closer she got, the more she needed of it. She recognized this allure, from the night in the snow, the moments in the interrogation chair. This strange clicking into place, like complementing cogs in a rusted machine.
His face was so open, so raw, and she saw how it was affecting him to have her so near. He could barely breathe.
“Would you kill me, spectre?”
Her skin itched to touch him, to sink more deeply into this tidal rush. The saber slipped from her hand and clunked softly to the ground.
“Please.” He fell to his knees, snatching the saber from where it had fallen. Her heart stuttered, but he thrust it at her, only desperation washing his face. “I need peace from you. The whole of the galaxy isn’t room enough to breathe!”
His head reached near her sternum from where he kneeled on the ground. In his eyes shown tears, glistening in the light of the moons and adding more stars to the savage constellation cleaving his face. Something within him seemed to shatter.
“Why wouldn’t you just kill me?” Her question held no reproach, no mockery. She was stunned at this great force of a man so cowed before her, driving the weapon by which he wanted to die into her unwilling hands.
He shuddered at her words, gripping the loose fabric of her tunic. He buried his face into it, careful not to make contact with her body. “You'd still haunt me. The Force within you is too strong to be hindered by your death.”
She dropped the saber again. He tensed and gripped tighter at her tunic. Quivering.
She made a decision then. Slowly, she laced fingers through his hair, black as night and thick as a thernbee pelt. He shuddered a sob and dug his head into the softness just below her ribs, nearly knocking the air from her lungs. At this graceless embrace, she felt again that feeling of overwhelming completion. He let go the fabric of her clothes and gripped powerful arms around her hips, quaking with not quite silent tears, whether from fear or relief, she didn’t know.
“What is this, Rey?” Her name was a wet, craggy thing from his lips, and she gazed down at him in wonder. Each path her fingers took ignited more, and she began to understand the basis of his madness.
“I don’t know, Kylo Ren.”
His fingers dug into her back and he pressed all the harder into her stomach, convulsing with his grip on her.
“I don’t know… Ben,” she amended quietly. Taking great care, she loosened his arms from her middle and sank down to him. The saber still lay between them, quietly gleaming in what starlight it could catch. He was staring hard at it, his breaths heavy and labored, his fingers mindlessly toying with the hem of her shirt lying across her bare thighs.
“Do you still want me to kill you?” she asked softly as he began to rock almost imperceptibly. “Is that the mercy you want?”
He looked into her face at that, so torn in misery, tormented by the very air she breathed.
“I want you to release me of whatever hold you have on me. I want to be free of the Light. It's too heavy a burden.” His voice was low, manic. “I'm so close to breaking.”
She pushed the saber from between them and moved her fingers through his hair again. He pressed into her hand with a pained tightness to his eyes.
“Break, Ben,” she whispered. “Shatter. Trust that I'll help to put the pieces back together.”
She rose on her knees and pressed a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth.
An agonized groan ground from him as he turned his mouth into hers. He kissed her with such desperation, such boundless urgency that she was sure he would consume her entirely. Perhaps this swirling torrent of energy would commit the unlikeliest of alchemies and join them into one singular, breathless existence. The crashing together of forces to create a new star, a new galaxy. As his teeth dragged inelegantly along her bottom lip, she thought it was not so terrible a fate.
She urged him atop her and his large hands lowered her with such gentleness to the ground that she thought her heart would break from it. His kisses trailed wet from her lips to the corners of her eyes, her temple, her hairline, the curve of her ear. His hands cupped her face, ran hard fingers down the delicate line of her neck, gripped tightly at her arms. She pressed soft fingertips into the scar on his face, the dappling of smaller scars making for a wonderful texture. She wanted to discover every line, memorize every hurt that she might know it in this existence they shared.
His mouth worked lower, down her neck to the jut of her clavicle. She arched into him at the scrape of his teeth over the sensitive ridge. His hands were insistent, almost bruising, as he attempted to touch as much of her as any one moment would allow. Steadily he moved down the line of her body, using deft fingers to discover and tally the wealth of her body. She gasped at the rough tug of her tunic up over her hips, gasp morphing into a stuttered moan as he placed hot open mouth kisses to the bottom curve of her ribcage. He followed the line up to sear her with kisses along her sternum, to eviscerate her when he took a breast into his mouth.
His discovery of her body was acutely intimate, clumsy and irregular and painfully sweet. He had no way of knowing how to touch a woman, she thought, and she had little experience in being touched. It was this unflagging adoration, a blind need to consume her inch by inch that so entrapped her.
Nervous laughter mixed headily with cries of delicious surprise as he dragged his mouth to the line of her hip, to the very center of her. With lips and tongue and teeth and curious fingers, he began to unravel her very core, like the tumblers of easily picked lock. She felt shuddering spasms at his need to know, to discern this spell that bound them together. Rey felt that delightful pressure build for the question his mouth was asking her body, and it rippled over her skin.
He shuddered at the shared feeling of reaching that zenith, and dove to discover her release again, to unlock her further with clever lips and fingers buried so deep.
She pulled at him, needing the closeness of his beautifully ruined face. He growled in protest as he set his mouth again to the sensitive skin at the joining of her thighs. When she finally coaxed him back up her body, with many indulgent pauses along the way, his kiss was slick with her. The rawness of his passion tore through her. She tried to rid him of his clothes, or at least ruck them up like her simple tunic had been. To discover his body as well.
He helped in impatient tugs, eager to get his mouth back on her, irritated that his ministrations were interrupted at all. She managed to bare him to the waist, fingers brushing over the wide expanses of moonlit skin. Rey could feel the hot need of him pressing into her belly and she dug fingers into the valleys between his ribs.
“More,” she groaned and he bit her shoulder, losing control of the moment. With the sparest of movements, she managed to tug down his trousers, to wrap eager fingers around him. He was hard, achingly hard, and the noises of near pain he growled into her neck let her know of his urgent need.
She guided him to her, but he hesitated, removed himself from her grasp. Kylo Ren brought his fingers back to her wet heat instead, grinding his length crudely into her hip.
“Can’t I have you, too?” she pleaded.
His lips were along the column of her neck, wet and swollen and avid. He wouldn’t answer her.
“Trust me to fix you, Ben. I told you I'd collect your pieces if you break.”
He shook his head against her skin, his energy finally beginning to wane. “I can’t.”
She moved her hands to hold his face, to compel him to look at her. “You can. Let me have you.” She kissed his lower lip, tasted the slightest tang of blood. “Please.”
She removed one hand from his face and found him again, brought him to her. Shifted her hips. Took him in.
She watched his face as he entered her, so slowly, so carefully. She felt so full with him inside her, stretched and aching. Wonderful in the foreignness of it. He searched her face for more of those elusive answers, and as she began to move beneath him, his eyes widened in stunned comprehension. He slowly matched her rhythm, watching her so closely, apparent wonder at a soul, his soul, made whole again.
Bracing himself on his elbows, he cupped her head in his hands as he drove into her with determination. He was close, so close, and his eyes squeezed shut under the weight of the coming onslaught.
“Look at me, Ben,” Rey urged. “Trust me.”
His eyes snapped open at her request, looking deeper into her than she had ever experienced. He bared his teeth and groaned in painful release before collapsing heavily on her. She gathered him to her, wrapped shaking legs around his equally shaking body. Feeling him go soft inside her. His breath came in hot pants against her skin and she realized it was her name that he breathed, over and over.
“Rey. Oh, Rey.”
She held him so tightly she thought her strength might give out. She was so focused on containing him should he shatter around her that she had forgotten how splintered she had been as well.
As his breath grew steady, the hot stickiness of his skin cooling in the night air, Rey roused them both. “Come inside, Ben. Rest with me.”
He nodded slowly, and they made their slow way back to the thin pallet on the cave floor. He slept almost instantly, beyond exhausted, his head heavy on her breast. But Rey stayed awake for a few minutes longer, looking down at the boy who made such broken love to her. Slipping fingers through his hair again–would she ever tire of that sensation?–she nestled closely into him, leaving further questions for morning so she might examine them in full light.
Luke found the saber laying in the scrubby grass the next morning, and the half dressed bodies of his two would-be padawans huddled close together in Rey’s pallet. He felt something strange at the sight of them together, at the peaceful face of a dreaming Ben Solo. Unguarded and honest in sleep. A conclusion not so foregone as he had thought.
He backed quietly out of the cave and walked to the saber still in the grass. He considered it for a long moment before reaching to pick it up. The image of the two disparate halves of the Force curled into each other inside the cave flashed before him. In balance and at peace.
He clicked the lightsaber on with a decisive whur, and nodded once.
It was finally time to leave.