The time after the war is...weird. None of them really know what to do with themselves. They're soldiers, all of them, raised to fight for their cause and now the cause is won and they should all be happy. They shouldn't feel lost. Rey can sense it; they all feel the same sense of being set adrift without a course.
Well, at least she has her Jedi training with Luke and Ben. It’s not the same though, still. They work at becoming Jedi, but it’s with peace in mind—keeping peace in the fragile political situation and keeping peace within themselves, she supposes.
It's hard to be happy when they're all faced with all they had lost—the people who had died and the loss of their innocence and childhoods, sacrificed to the war. They’re all wary of the peace, expecting it to be over at any minute. None of them leave the Rebel base to forge new lives for themselves.
Rey determines to try to be happy. They don't have the threat of imminent death hanging over their heads. She has every reason to be happy. She has friends and a home; she has everything she always wanted. Sometimes, she wishes for a new war, something new to fight for. She's been fighting all her life and she doesn't feel made for peace.
So, in her effort to be happy, she sets about making other people happy. All she knows are pranks, though, from the limited amount of knowledge she was able to gleam about more mundane things on Jakku.
She may have miscalculated.
Rey decides that the best way to start is to run into Poe’s room and shout, “First Order ships, incoming!” She’s not quite sure the reaction she had hoped to get—Poe jumping up and acting less like his suave, assured self—but she was not expecting both Poe and Finn to jump up (completely naked) and burst into action, asking her what’s going on and what should they do? And she can’t answer because the sight of them (completely naked) is both embarrassing and hilarious if only because she wasn’t expecting it.
She bursts out laughing. She can’t help it—they look ridiculous with their arms crossed and worry in their eyes and they are completely naked but they still look ready to go fight the good fight. Rey laughs so hard her sides start to hurt and she doubles over. She eventually gets out—breathlessly—that there was no threat and she was just messing with them.
They soon join her laughter—she manages to ask them if they’ve ever heard of something called clothes, and this starts a new round of laughter. Later (fully dressed) they both tell her that she can’t go around scaring people like that.
A war of a different kind is ignited by her actions.
BB-8 rolls into her room one morning when Rey has only been asleep for two hours and it’s still dark outside, but the little droid tells Rey that Master Luke wants her to run around the base to help “hone her concentration.”
She should have known it was a trick, but she was too tired at the time to question it. She rolls out of bed and dutifully, getting dressed, and looks back at her bed longingly. The little bunk has never looked so comfortable, but she still turns away and sets about her task.
The base is huge. She’s had to run around the entire thing before and it took her an hour, and that was when she was fully awake and prepared to do the running. It takes her at least two hours now, tired as she is, but she pushes through. When she’s finally, mercifully done, sweat drenched and exhausted, there’s Master Luke with Ben at his side.
She hopes neither Ben nor her master can sense it, but she’s shocked at the sight of Ben; she hadn’t known he was coming back so soon. He’d been off world; Luke had sent him to find some personal inner peace. Rey had missed him while he was gone, missed their stupid Force connection thing.
“Got an early start today, Rey?” Luke asks.
She gapes at him, because this was what he wanted damn him and she feels a second away from dropping in exhaustion, and then she sees Poe and Finn in the background smirking at her. She’s pretty sure she wants to murder them. She’s fairly certain she can convince everyone it was an accident, or at the very least necessary for the continued survival of the Jedi Order, when Ben breaks her out of her reverie.
“Rey? Master Luke wants you and I to meditate together today.” Hearing his voice is jarring—he so rarely speaks out loud now.
Rey nods, following Ben to a secluded thicket of trees. And if she falls asleep instead of really meditating, it’s not her fault at all. Ben shakes her awake hours later; he makes no comment or censure and she’s glad.
Get some more rest, he pushes into her thoughts, and for once she’s not mad at the intrusion.
She looks at him, and she thinks he looks how she feels. His eyes look sunken in and they have dark bags under them. His hair—which she used to be jealous of—hangs lank and oily. More than that, though, she can feel how deeply tired he is down to his core. You too, she pushes back at him.
Ben smiles sadly at her. “I’ll try,” he says.
“How long has it been since you slept? I feel like shit and I just missed one night,” Rey’s not sure why she feels more comfortable with him in this moment than she ever has, but she does. Maybe its because she’s so tired, tired enough not to keep her carefully constructed walls up.
“I’m not entirely sure,” Ben replies, rubbing the back of his neck. “I keep expecting…” he trails off, but Rey can sense what the end of his sentence was going to be, the other shoe to drop.
She pats his shoulder as she walks by, her thoughts consumed with falling into her bed.
The next day, she plans her revenge on Finn and Poe. Unfortunately, the only other ‘prank’ she knows is a flinging food at a person, and she’s still hesitant to waste food in that manner. Sitting down at her lunch table, she fights with herself for the better part of her lunch break before taking the smallest amount of food she can, and aims it at Finn’s head. Of course another pilot steps between her and her target immediately after she’d let the food sail through the air, and it’s too late to stop it.
What erupts is a full-blown food fight.
They all end up covered in globs of food, smiles blown across each and every one of their faces. Rey hopes she isn’t being too obvious about it, but she searches the crowd for Ben. She’s disappointed when he’s not there.
Later, General Organa tries to berate the lot of them, but she can’t help the twinkle in her eyes that lets everyone know she wants to laugh.
And if Rey hints to the General that Finn and Poe started the fight and should clean it up, well, it’s their own fault for not letting her get a full nights sleep.
They retaliate quickly, having BB-8 project an image of poisonous kouhuns on her bunk. She knew they weren’t real, but it was hard to get comfortable in her bed after that, damn them.
The cycle repeats for the whole week, over and over—Rey pranks Finn and Poe and they prank her and she can’t sleep at night because that’s when they strike. It’s taking its toll, but she’s determined to win, or at the very least have fun. It’s when she walks into her room to find her mattress completely missing that she decides to give up for the night.
She just wants to sleep. Ben and Luke had gone to the Dagobah System to ‘pick something up,’ so there are two empty rooms available to her. She picks Ben’s. It seems like the best option, all things considered, and she doesn’t think he’ll mind.
The next morning, she carries a pot through the air above her head (with the help of the Force, and that might be a misuse of her power but they stole her bed and they deserve this) filled with ice-cold water down the hall to Finn and Poe’s room. If she doesn’t get any sleep because of them, they’re not going to get any sleep because of her.
And then she runs into a solid expanse of chest. The water falls over both of them; Rey gasps at the shock of it, feels her hair stick to her face and her clothes form to her body. So fucking cold, she laments, and then she hears a loud laugh above her. She looks up in absolute shock to see Ben before her, his clothes soaked to his body, a huge smile on his face. He continues laughing—she picks up the edge of his thoughts she looks like a drowned womp rat.
She feels her face twist from the indignity of it all, and storms away. Rey turns back though after a moment to see him still laughing. It’s…weird. She can feel him, his emotions, and he feels more at peace than he ever has in her presence. More than that he feels…joyful.
Later, remembering the sound of his laughter, the way it softened him and his features, hard to do now courtesy of the scar she gave him, took away the edge of sadness that seemed to always be there, she determines that she wants to make him feel that way again.
It’s more difficult than she had anticipated. All the tricks and little jokes she knows fail spectacularly. He doesn’t seem particularly given to happiness; the sadness returns quickly and the lingering guilt. A part of her thinks he deserves it, but another part of her thinks he deserves to be happy. Maybe it’s because she can sense that he doesn’t feel he deserves to be happy. They’ve all been through so much, honestly; it would be nice if they could all be happy again.
Maybe she should just drop water on herself in front of him and hope for the same reaction he gave her the first time.
“Maybe try bad jokes?” Poe suggests; her and Finn and Poe have declared a temporary truce in order to focus on her new mission.
“Like what?” she asks, wringing her hands. She wants to win, wants to make him laugh and feel happy again. She’s willing to do very nearly anything.
“Like, why’d Anakin Skywalker cross the road?” Finn speaks, and Poe and Rey wait for the punch line. “To get to the Dark Side!”
They all laugh and finally Rey says, wiping a tear from her eye, “You’re right, that’s terrible. But I don’t think that’s going to work on Ben.”
Later, when she sneaks up behind him and pokes him in the sides—Finn’s suggestion—Ben decides to ask her what the hell she thinks she’s doing lately?
She doesn’t see the use in lying to him. “Trying to force a laugh out of you, Ben,” she waits for his reaction, scrunching her nose in expectation.
He huffs at her, crossing his arms in exasperation. “Was that a force pun?” he shakes his head at her slowly. “Let’s go through the drills.”
Rey feels her spirits sink; she pouts at him, but he seems to be ignoring her as he retrieves two practice swords. They set about fighting each other—there’s usually an ease to their practice. They’ve fought enough times with deadly intent to know each other’s styles and weaknesses; they fight in slow motion now. They spend most of their time giving each other pointers, identifying particularly bad weak spots. At least, that was what Rey was expecting. Instead, he says, “Luke wants us to do more actual sparing.”
They throw themselves into their fight. He anticipates each of her attacks, parrying her blow for blow, advancing on her steadily. “Guard your thoughts, Rey,” he grits out at her, breath heaving.
“I’m trying,” she returns, throwing up her mental walls. It gives her the advantage she needs. She kicks his sword out of his hand—hears him grunt in pain—then smirks at him. Ben fights back, though, tackling her to the ground in a swift motion. He grabs her sword wrist; she struggles underneath him, trying to wiggle out and regain her advantage when he—former Dark Lord that he is—reaches down and tickles the back of her knee.
She jerks in surprise, and the only way she can think to describe the sound that comes out of her mouth is a squawk.
“Ticklish, are we?” he asks, smiling at her.
She huffs indignantly, but it turns into a laugh as he tickles her again, his fingers dancing along her ribs.
“That’ll teach you to try to make me laugh,” he says, still smiling as he stands up in one fluid motion and offers a hand to help her up.
Maybe his smile is enough for now.
Later, she decides to play to her advantages. The General adores her, so maybe she can give her some tips.
“Rey, what a nice surprise,” Leia says. Rey can see the similarities between Leia and her son now—the sadness touches their eyes the same. “What can I do for you?”
“What makes Ben laugh?” she’s never really been good at leading up to a question, so it just comes out.
The General visibly starts at the question. She smiles sadly at Rey before saying, “You know, he never laughed much. He was such a sad child,” she pauses, giving Rey a knowing look (and if Rey blushes from the scrutiny, it’s only because of Leia’s cutting gaze). “If you want to make him laugh, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own.”
Rey sighs, defeated, and leaves, mulling over her options. Dumping water over herself seems more and more like the best option. It worked the first time. Or maybe I should just dump water on him so he can see how it feels.
She settles on the second option for now—she’s still a little hurt, if she’s being honest, that the reason he had been laughing was because he was laughing at her and okay, she might want just a little bit of revenge. So she sneaks into his room again, and sets up a bucket to drop on him as he walks through the door.
Rey is waiting for him, so she picks up on his Force signature when he starts to come toward his room, and quickly moves to sit primly on his bed. Ben opens the door and the (freezing cold) water drops over his head. He stands still in shock-mouth working up and down, his hand frozen on his door.
She starts laughing—she understands now why he had laughed so hard at her in the hall. “Now who looks like a drowned womp rat?” she chokes out in between her laughter. He looks absolutely taken aback, and for some reason seeing him so caught off guard makes her laugh harder. She rocks on the bed, clutching her stomach. And then she snorts. The sound catches her off guard and her laughter dies abruptly.
The sound makes him chuckle, his mouth moving into a full-blown smile instead of his usual sardonic smirk. Then he’s laughing, loud, and his mirth lights up his eyes. He eventually doubles over, still griping the door. The sound of his laughter is so infectious that she joins him. Tears stream down both their faces—her stomach hurts at the end of it from laughing so hard.
Eventually, he joins her on his bed, striping his sopping wet shirt over his head as he does so (and if she stares at his bare chest, it’s his fault and not hers). “You seem to like it here,” he states suddenly, laughter still in his voice. “You’ve been in my bed before.”
She looks at him in shock. “You knew?”
“Hmmm,” he hums out. He moves to lean back against the wall. She really tries not to follow the planes of his chest as he does so. “I felt your Force signature when came back.” I’m attuned to you, he finishes through their link.
They sit there in companionable silence for a while, Rey looking everywhere but his chest. Stupid fucking boys not wearing their fucking clothes, she thinks to herself and hopes against hope he doesn’t hear.
He laughs, though, again. She turns to him and sees the wicked glint in his eye. “You’re doing it on purpose,” she accuses.
He laughs harder. “Maybe you shouldn’t try to make me laugh if you’re not willing to face the consequences,” is his reply.
Rey glares at him—really, he is so frustrating and at the moment she’s not sure she likes Ben more than Kylo Ren, she’d honestly prefer he was still Ren now because then she could use her lightsaber to stop that stupid smile spreading across his face. She knows she wanted him to laugh, but now all she wants is for him to shut the hell up.
So she does the logical thing. She surges across the distance between them, crashing her lips against his. She hadn’t known she wanted this until she started really, and it’s his fault for flaunting his stupid muscles. She hears his muffled sound of shock; she grabs his hair to tug him closer to her. Rey nips his bottom lip, and he groans into her mouth. She smirks against his lips, and he finally gathers her in his arms, kissing her deeply, giving as much as he gets.
They break apart, panting, and he leans his forehead against hers. One hand moves to cup her cheek; he smiles down at her, the motion crinkling the sides of his eyes. She smiles back, forgetting her earlier irritation.
If they fall asleep together, Ben getting the first full night of sleep he’s had in a long time, well, Rey supposes that is her fault. And if both of them wake up smiling, well…that’s all thanks to her as well.
Snippets of times Ben and Rey made each other smile.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
She smiles a lot now, more than she ever has in her life, maybe even more than she thought one person could smile. Rey notices it on everyone—laughter and smiles come easily now. No more solemn nods when they leave on missions; they leave with waves and wide smiles. It’s nice to see it, even on the faces of people she never thought would smile again, people who lost so much. They’re all moving on, slowly, but surely.
She realizes that, for the first time, she’s completely happy.
Sure, Finn and Poe contribute now that they’ve restarted their prank war. They’re good at making her laugh. But it’s Ben, too; every time she so much as sees him, she can’t stop the smile that stretches across her face.
Rey slips into his bed one night; she’d been on a mission with Luke for nearly a month and she’d missed everyone on the base. It had been hard to sleep without the presence of Ben, though, warm and solid behind her, so she supposes, if pressed, she would say that she had missed him the most.
So, she slips into his bed and wraps herself around his sleeping form. Her feet are freezing, and his legs are warm, so she presses her feet up against him. Ben jumps a little, murmuring sleepily. She smiles against his back, snuggling closer to him, inhaling the scent that is so him and that she had missed.
“Your feet are cold, Rey,” he mutters. But there’s a smile in his voice, and she knows he’s glad that she’s back.
“I missed you,” she breathes, pressing a kiss to his ear.
He sighs, turning in her arms and presses a kiss against her forehead, a smile still on his lips. “I missed you, too. But your feet are still cold.”
“Move in with me?” he asks in the morning, smiling at her from his wardrobe as he pulls on his tunic and robes.
“What?” she asks, pushing up on one elbow, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes with her other hand. Rey’s not opposed to the idea, just surprised that he was the one to bring it up.
“All your stuff is here already, we might as well make it official, right?”
“Okay,” she says, pushing herself out of his—their—bed and nearly tripping over her feet in her haste to get to him and plant kisses all over his face. When she pulls back, they’re both smiling. “What brought this on, though?”
His arms wrap around her waist. “I really, really missed you.”
Leia stops her one day to ask her, “What are your intentions with my son?” The General’s arms are crossed over her chest, but there’s a smile on her face that reminds Rey of Ben’s smile.
Rey’s not entirely sure how to respond; she sputters for a moment. “I—“
Leia’s arms uncross, and she pulls Rey in for a hug. “You make him happy,” she says (there’s a sadness in her eyes, and somehow Rey knows she’s thinking of Han and Rey wonders at her strength). “I’m glad,” is all she gives voice to, though.
“I want him to be happy,” she says back, looking across the cafeteria where Ben is waiting for her with Poe and Finn. He turns to look at them, smiling and waving.
The general’s smile grows, “That’s all I ever wanted, too.” She joins them for lunch, smiling when Ben’s hand finds Rey’s.
Ben takes her to Naboo, and she suspects it’s just to see how excited she gets at all the water and green (she won’t tell anyone, and she makes him swear not to tell, the shrill noise that escaped her mouth when they landed). He takes her to his grandmother’s old house, perfectly preserved, and she teases him about getting his fashion sense from her. He tickles her neck for her teasing; somehow, they end up in a laughing heap on the floor.
He takes her to Hoth, and she sees snow for the first time. It’s so cold, she thinks in wonder. Ben throws a snowball at her back. This, of course, starts a full-blown snowball fight. Somehow, they end up in a laughing heap in the snow.
Rey takes him to Corellia; she’s unsure at first if he’ll appreciate it, and when she sees the tears in his eyes, she thinks she’s made a horrible mistake. “Thank you,” he says, though. They find Han’s old house, and it’s broken down, but it’s nice to be there anyway. Ben smiles at her sadly as they leave, whispering again, “Thank you.”
He takes her to Coruscant and she hates it; she hates how busy it is and how many people are there. They make fun of the preening politicians, though, and end up laughing over their drinks. He gives her a small japor necklace as they’re leaving.
“What’s this?” she asks, accepting it and fixing it around her neck.
“My grandfather gave one to my grandmother,” he hesitates, smiling at her, “I though it would be a nice gesture.”
“I love it,” she says, because it’s true. She smiles as she kisses him, and she can feel his lips stretched in a smile under hers.
She loves him, she knows it with certain clarity, but she hasn’t told him yet. Rey’s been very careful to hid it from him—blocking that part of her mind. She wants it to be special and perfect, something she’ll remember every detail about forever. He means so much to her, and she just wants it to be a perfect holofilm moment.
He beats her to it.
“I love you,” he says, and the words come out like he can barely keep them in. They’re eating dinner in their room, wanting privacy, and it’s not the perfect situation she imagined, but somehow it is perfect.
Rey gasps in delight, smiling at him. “I love you too,” and it feels so right to say it (and so nice to see just how big his smile can get) that she wonders why she ever wanted to wait in the first place.
They’re on the Falcon, doing little repairs to pass the time, when he asks her. “Marry me?” and there’s grease across his face and hers and it’s so perfect and them that she can’t answer him for laughing. He waits patiently, though, smiling up at her.
“Yes,” she finally gets out, so blissfully happy. “Of course.”
Nothing could have prepared her for the look on his face as she walks toward him. Their friends and family are all there (and at least half the base as well), but all she can see is him. Rey thinks there’s a sheen of tears in his eyes, but the smile, his smile that she loves so stretched from ear to ear is lighting up his every feature and makes him look so at peace and so, so happy. She returns with a smile of her own, all teeth and scrunched eyes; by the end of their wedding day, her cheeks hurt, but she doesn’t care. She’s never been happier.
Her problems are…different now. They’re not even really problems; she wonders at that sometimes, that they’ve been at peace long enough for her to think of inconsequential things as ‘problems.’ They’re not problems, though, not really.
Rey can’t decide what to name her—their—son. She’s stuck between Anakin and Han, not entirely sure that either is fitting. She thinks their son might need a new name, something untainted. A name wholly his own to forge his own path. But the history of the two men, what they mean to Ben and Rey, isn’t something she’s sure she should pass over. Thus, her dilemma.
He doesn’t know yet. Ben’s gone off somewhere with Master Luke because it was his turn, and she went last time and they’ve been gone for nearly three months scouting for Jedi relics. She’s on the base, helping General Leia with paperwork and repairs and she honestly doesn’t think a pregnancy is the kind of thing she should tell him over a comm or even over their bond. She wants to tell him face to face. No one knows, and it’s driving her crazy. She wants to tell everyone she comes across—Poe and Finn and Leia and the jumble of nameless people occupying the base.
She smiles, though, pressing a hand to her barely-there-bump. Rey’s been smiling a lot lately, and she suspects one Ben Solo is completely to blame. Well, not completely, but she finds herself smiling whenever she thinks of him, and now the life growing in her makes her smile as well.
She’d like to keep it to herself a little longer, in any case. Rey can hardly believe that it’s true, but her changing body confirms it. Soon, she knows, people will start to notice. And she’d not sure Leia hasn’t noticed, or if she’s waiting for Rey to say something. Ben’s mother was Force sensitive after all—surely, she must sense her grandchild’s Force signature. But Rey wasn’t sure how it worked. She could sense it, knew she was having a son, but she didn’t know if other people could sense life as it was growing in someone. She hadn’t been around enough pregnant women to notice.
One night, he finally slips into their bed, pressing his mouth against her neck in a kiss, and she’s already awake because she knew the minute he landed because she'd been waiting for him. “I’m pregnant,” she says, unable to keep it in a moment longer.
He laughs, incredulous, his arms coming around her.
“Are you happy?” Rey asks, suddenly unsure.
Ben’s arms tighten around her. “Of course,” he says, with another small laugh. “Are you?”
“Yes,” she answers without hesitation, grabbing his hands to press them against her stomach. She laughs a little too, feeling how happy he is across their bond. This is the happiest I’ve ever been, she thinks, and he presses a kiss behind her ear.
Later, when he thinks she’s asleep, he whispers, “I’m always happy when I’m with you.”
Their son is born on a quiet day—she swears she’s never going to sleep with Ben again ever, and Leia smirks at her from her place on Rey’s other side. Ben just pushes her hair back from her sweaty face and doesn’t offer a word of complaint.
Later, she wakes up to find Ben smiling down at their son in his arms; he’s got her hair, two shades lighter than Ben’s, but he has his father’s dark eyes. “I think we should pick a name for him now, don’t you?” she asks from the bed in a quiet whisper. He breaks his gaze from their son to smile over at her.
“What did you have in mind?” he returns, and she wonders how they forgot to talk about this with all the time they had to prepare.
“Abner, maybe?” she says, smiling tiredly as Ben brings their son over to her, placing him in her arms.
“I like it,” he says, and that’s the end of that.
They have a daughter when Abner is three. “Dara,” Ben had suggested when they were talking about names, which they did before she was born this time around.
“It’s perfect,” she says, smiling as she thinks about a daughter with his hair and her eyes.
Their children are both Force sensitive, which makes life interesting at the very least. And, okay, Rey might have been the one to suggest to the pair that they help her play a trick on their father. They’re very good at levitating buckets of water without detection. And Ben always looks positively hilarious when he’s drenched with water.
He sputters indignantly, predictably, but then he chases the three of them through the little house they’ve moved into. They all end up in a laughing heap on the floor, Ben dripping water on all of them.
Her children’s laughter mingled with Ben’s and hers is her favorite sound in the entire galaxy.
Abner means "my father is luminous" in Hebrew, which I thought was fitting, especially since Luke, Leia, and Ben are all Hebrew names. Dara means "star" and I just liked it :)