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That Blooms in Adversity

Chapter Text

He kicked at the sand and shook his head, sweat trickling down his brow and into his ear. He growled and a low rumble emitted from his mask. He swore he could see the stromtroopers tremble and he wondered if he should grin. His lieutenant was hurrying toward him now, feet slipping in treacherous sand.

“Lord Ren, we still haven’t successfully discovered the source of the signal,” Mitaka puffed, cheeks red, a sheen of sweat on his brow. Kylo gestured for him to take some water before continuing. “However, our sensors indicate a large storm is coming. It is storm season and the sensors report that this is a large one. We should retreat to shelter and look again afterwards.”

“It is possible that the sandstorm will bury the item deeper,” Kylo pointed out.

“It may also uncover it, sir,” Mitaka replied, face paling as he realized just who he had contradicted. He paused, stuttered, and Kylo waved his hand, sealing the man’s lips shut.

“You are right,” he replied. “Let us mark this area and return to the shuttle.” Disappointment welled up as Mitaka spluttered his assent and began ordering the troops into a flurry. Kylo could sense the storm coming, a deep roiling within the Force, and something else. A tugging. It wasn’t the item he was searching for, but something else on this gods forsaken planet, a planet of gritty sand that itched its way through the crevices in his robes and under his mask, a planet whose sun was somehow more merciless than both of Tatooine’s.

Brushing aside the twinge of regret that memory brought, Kylo marched with the troops back to the shuttle, brooding in his suite while the wind whipped around the craft, battering it furiously, almost rocking it. Without thinking, Kylo extended a Force field around the shuttle, protecting it from the worst of the onslaught and pushing at the sands that threatened to swallow the ship whole. The sandstorms ate away anything of significance in Jakku, any remainder of the once verdant and thriving planet lost to time and sand.

Snoke had been very specific when he had ordered Kylo to Jakku. Recover the item that had begun beeping several standard days ago. It had something to do with the Emperor’s old Observatory. This was not the first time that Kylo had been sent here to recover something and each time he had felt a strange tug. There was something off about this planet and a part of him longed to explore it, to discover whatever was calling him.

He shut down that notion, burying it beneath logic.

Besides, he knew exactly how adventuring ended, thanks to the endless stories he grew up with as a child. No thank you.

The storm raged for hours and the crew settled in for the evening, Kylo sinking into a meditative state, allowing the storm to whip through him and hoping that it too would wear away anything left of Ben Solo.

Morning brought relief from the storm but heat still pounded viciously on the crew. Kylo gave up any pretense of a dark lord, abandoning most of his robes for a shorter, simpler overcoat, and leaving his mask behind. He had no need of it, not today, he told himself. The landscape had changed, rendered new and strange from the storm shifting dunes. Skeletons of former Star Destroyers and other ships hidden by the dunes were suddenly revealed and he could feel the Force press against him, ghosts whispering in his ears.

“Mitaka, let us try the south quadrant today,” Kylo said. “I’ll lead the men in.”

“Are you sure, sir?” Kylo ignored the question and pushed his way toward one of the ruins, the Imperial class Interrogator whose wreck beckoned to him. Half a dozen stormtroopers followed although he did not need them. He needed to focus on the whatever was calling to him, following a thread of the Force that pulled him insistently toward the ship.

It was a complete and utter wreck and had been seized upon by the scavengers who lived on this planet, he thought, as he entered the ship. He was aware of other life forms--riffraff who had squatted in the wrecks and other animals. The ion cannons had long been torn apart with only the support structures remaining. Wires dangled like vines overhead, spewing out of the sides, any precious metals long since gone. Kylo shuffled through the wreck, attuned to the pinging in the Foce in front of him.

“You two, stay and guard our rear. And you two, explore that corridor,” he snapped. The final two fell behind him even though he rolled his eyes. Despite Phasma’s insistence that they were fully trained, he didn’t trust the men.

Didn’t trust them not to report to Hux when they left this hellhole.

The air should have been cooler in the cavernous belly of the ship but it was hot, stifling, dead. Kylo blew out his breath and used the Force to discreetly tuck his hair behind his ear. An echo of his uncle floated on the still air and Kylo grimaced, brushing it away. He could feel the tugging here, more insistent, clearer, and he surveyed the large space, once a brimming hangar. Bits and bobs of TIE fighters still stuck out of the sand and he idly ran a glove across a wing panel.  

A harsh scraping sound filled the space and he heard the troopers’ guns click behind him. Kylo held up his hand, ears straining. A thunking noise then a screech, a dash of movement in the shadows. Another presence, loud and demanding, filled up the space in the Force and he shook his head as if dazed.

He sent out tendrils in the Force, feeling his way toward the noise, when a girl stumbled out, dragging a large panel. She squawked, immediately whipping out a staff and baring her teeth at the men.

“Get out!” she ordered and Kylo drew up to his full height.

“We are an exploratory force from--”

“The First Order, oh right, I know your lot,” she spat. “You can’t have it.” She made a grimacing face and Kylo drew back, taking in her rags, her dirt streaked limbs, the pile of rubbish at her feet.


“I’m not interested in that,” he said, waving his hand.

“Good, then I’ll be on my way,” she shot back, grabbing the panel and dragging it along the sand. It was a good ways to another exit and he could see the strength in her back and her arms, how she nimbly moved around other obstacles. He tilted his head and considered.

“Wait,” he commanded. She continued to pull her packet and he held up his hand, freezing her with the Force. He felt the two troopers stiffen. None of them liked the magical powers of Kylo Ren or his Knights. He bit back a smirk, the once bullied boy always reveling in the ability to turn the tables.

“Where are you taking these items?”

“I thought you said you didn’t care,” she grit out, limbs trembling as she strained against his hold. “”

“In just a moment,” he impatiently said. “Do you get paid for these finds? In credits or…”

“Portions. Food.” Each word was a fight, her cheeks bright red as she attempted to jerk out of his hold in the Force. As much as he found her need to fight him amusing, he did admire her spirit. And judging by her hoard and how cleverly she moved about, she could be quite useful.

“I will pay you. In portions,” he said, wondering what the hell those were but figured he could pluck it from her mind. “If you help me.” She stopped struggling and eyed him. He noticed for the first time how shrewd her hazel eyes were and the smattering of freckles across her nose. She must be in her late teens early twenties, he thought, but it was hard to tell. She was sinewy, strong, but perhaps a bit undernourished.

“How many?”

“How much is your time worth?” he countered.

“I would get about three quarters portions for this,” she said. He narrowed his eyes and with precision like skill, buried into her mind. He seized the image of portions and made a face. Meal packs. They traded work for food here. The girl screeched and he started.

“Get out of my head!” she shouted. He blinked once, twice, unsure if he heard her correctly. Did she feel that? He frowned.

“I can pay you in ten portions a day plus five litres of water,” he told her.

“No good. Water gets taken or gets sand in it.”

“Two litres is better than none,” he said pointedly and she made a neat rack of teeth at him. He held back a smile as he brushed the Force against her. She stiffened and he ordered himself not to respond.

Not only did he find a potential ally to locate this kriffin’ item faster, but a Force sensitive. How interesting. Suddenly a routine mission became a lot more exciting and he straightened, slowly releasing his grip on her. She shivered and bound toward him, staff whistling in the air as it cut toward him. He leapt back, lightsaber igniting with a snap hiss and slicing through the staff with ease. Her mouth dropped open but she didn’t relent, jabbing at him with the glowing end. Kylo barked an order at the stormtroopers to stay out of it.

He slid back, staff ripping his cloak and he grabbed the staff, jerking it upward. She snarled, the feral thing, and he yanked on it hard while lifting his leg and pushing. He gave a little nudge with the Force and she flew back, eyes widening.

“How are you doing that?”

“Stop fighting me and I’ll tell you!” His nostrils flared and he held her staff in his hand. He nodded toward the broken piece. “And I’ll have your staff repaired.” She eyed him warily, stock still in her half crouch. Sighing, Kylo relaxed his stance.

“FN-2145, inform Lieutenant Mitaka to contact the Finalizer and arrange for a shipment of ration packs and more water.” The crackle of the comm was loud as the soldier relayed the information. Kylo eyed the girl, mind racing through every single diplomatic lesson he ever received.

“My name is Kylo Ren,” he informed her, wisps of memories gently reminding him that sometimes he had to make a small concession to gain ground. “What’s your name?” She stood up and took him in, a sweeping look over him and the troopers.

“Where’s the rest of your unit?”

He tried not to look impressed. “Scattered about.”

“Hmmmm,” she replied.

“Is there something I can give you or show you to demonstrate that I am acting in good faith?”

“Return my staff,” she demanded imperiously, lifting her chin. Suppressing a chuckle, he tossed her one end and, using the Force, lifted the other off the ground to float it toward her.

He wasn’t above being petty and he hid a smirk at the warring suspicion and eagerness in her face.

Mitaka’s response was clear: “Ration packs will be brought down in two standard hours.” Kylo flashed her a wolfish smile.

“See? Two hours. You help us today, two maybe three hours, and I imagine twenty ration packs would feed you for quite some time. I can even increase that if you do help us locate what we are looking for.”

“What are you looking for?”

“A small blue cube.” The girl snorted.

“Not much to go on. If it were anything valuable, it would have been taken years ago.”

Kylo could see the wisdom in her words. But he gestured toward her scrap pile. “Perhaps not everything valuable was already taken. We have a tracking a beacon locked onto its signal and it suggests it is coming deep from within in this ship.”

“Beacon huh?” the girl mused, biting her bottom lip. She reached for the canteen and took a small sip. Kylo turned toward the stormtroopers.

“Please ensure she has enough water for this.” Surprise filled her face when a trooper peeled off one bottle of water from his pack and handed it to her. Kylo could feel her curiosity, her hunger, her gratitude for a small gesture. She would soon be his.

“You really can fix my staff?” Her voice seemed small and Kylo swallowed the grin, swallowed the triumph, hoping it didn’t spill out in his too sensitive eyes.

“Yes, of course.” She bit her lip.

“Rey. My name is Rey.”

Chapter Text

Rey was a resourceful little thing, Kylo thought, and he praised the Force for leading him to her. She scrambled gracefully over the bones of the ship, leading them deeper into the bowels and away from false ends. Kylo had actually argued with her for a few moments, sensing the item down one corridor and had led them down a path that ended in wires and piles of pylons with no way through. To her credit, Rey only smirked a moment before deftly leading them out of the area and back on track.

“If there’s a beacon on it, it might be in the captain’s quarters,” she informed them as she slipped under a jutting beam.

“Is that a problem?”

“Most of the front of that part is at an odd angle and potentially full of squatters. I hope you brought climbing gear or you might be out of luck.”

“Nonsense,” Kylo shot back confidently. “Plenty of luck. After all, we have you don’t we?” She scoffed at his compliment but he spied the rosy color spread across her cheeks. They followed her steadily, the minutes ticking by, as they went further in, the space growing more cramped as the ship angled deep into the sand. Kylo checked his sensor which told him to continue straight ahead.

A particularly knotty section stood in front of them. Large broken bits of durasteel prevented them from easily climbing over and continuing onward. Rey pulled a rope from her side and lassoed it over the edge, grinning as it hooked on something. She began to climb, the firm roundness of her bottom straining the thin worn fabric of her trousers. Kylo could feel a surge of lust from the troopers, startling him. He blinked owlishly and looked again at her peach shaped bottom before turning and shooting a dark look at the other men.

“Perhaps you should remain here,” he coldly stated. He could feel the shiver of fear that ran through them.

“Sorry, sir.” He sniffed imperiously and used the Force to leap over the large panel, landing gracefully on the other side. Rey did not look impressed.

“I thought the Jedi were a myth,” she mumbled.

“I’m not a Jedi,” he replied. His heart faltered for a moment as disappointment settled in her eyes. He found himself hastily adding: “There are no more Jedi.”

“Luke Skywalker was a myth, then,”she said sadly. Dread and anger whirled through the young man and he found his fists curling tightly together, the leather creaking loudly. He ground his teeth, anger pulsing through him at the mention of his cursed uncle.

They would be an albatross around his neck forever it seemed.

The two troopers joined them at last. Kylo could feel their exhaustion and he wanted to snarl. The beacon indicated that they were less than three kilometers from the item. He also noted Rey wavering on her feet and he sighed.

“Let’s take a break,” he suggested. “We have some ration packs with us now, Rey, if you would join us.” She eagerly settled on the sand and the troopers stabbed their lights into the ground, illuminating the small space. They pulled out bottles of water, protein bars, and dried meat. Kylo observed as Rey dug into the meat and wondered how long it was since she had a real meal. He offered her another protein bar and she chewed slowly, eyes brightening.

“I still don’t trust you, you know,” she said softly as they gathered their stuff.

“It’s a simple transaction,” he replied. “All you have to do is trust that I will uphold the end of my bargain. I’ve given enough good faith gestures don’t you think?” She looked away from his gaze and he pretended not to notice when she tucked some dried meat and a protein bar into her bag. They marched through the narrow space, Rey leading the way, bright orange glowstick in hand. Sunlight pierced the hull in a few places here and Kylo recognized that they were in the depths of the ship now, probably living quarters and offices. The beacon continued to thrum and they followed it, Kylo ducking to keep his head from banging on the ever lowering ceiling.

Rey paused and knelt, pulling out a knife and working on an odd shaped piece of metal.

“What is that?”

“It’s an argon pump for laser cannons. It’ll get me at least three portions,” she explained as she wrenched the piece off the hull. Kylo stifled a sigh, fists clenching tightly. He could feel the item pulling harder, a siren’s song  that was becoming harder to ignore.

“If you just...give me a few minute…”she got out as she struggled to extract the rest of the piece. Igniting another glow stick, Kylo stomped into the darkness, impatience pouring off of him.

“Hey I said wait!” she called.

“I’m fine.”

“No you don’t know--” a sudden rumble shook the ground and she continued: “what’s out there.” Kylo paused and flicked a cold look in her direction.

“Earthquake?” Rey bit her lip and touched the ground with her fingers, eyes half closing. A shiver raced down Kylo’s spine as he felt the Force whorl around her. He wondered if she even knew what she was doing and doubted it. He knew there was a Church of the Force group nearby and wondered if she had spent some time with the former acolytes of his uncle.

“Nightworm,” she whispered and he cocked a brow.

“Is that going to be a problem?” But she didn’t answer, leaping up to run back from where they came.

“What are you doing?” he hollered as the ground shook again, sand dripping from the ceiling and sliding beneath his feet. At that moment a monster reared its head, roaring loudly, and the troopers stumbled back. Kylo took a step, fear racing through him, before he gritted his teeth and anger surged into its place. He seized it, poured his power through it, and ignited his lightsaber. He took a flying jump toward the creature but was knocked out of the way by the butt of a staff.

“He’s just hungry!” the scavenger snarled, picking up one of the argon pump pieces and hurling it at the beast. Kylo growled at her, rolling to his feet. The ground shook beneath them, his balance precarious, and he fell to one knee, teeth bared at the alien.

The nighworm gulped down the metal and Rey ripped another piece of complicated machinery--what was left of a dataport, he thought--off the wall and tossed it at the creature. His jaws snapped around it and seemingly placated, he slithered beneath the sand. Waves of grains knocked troopers into the hull and Kylo onto his back, Rey tumbling into his lap. He felt a surge of interest from her, something that almost stank of lust but not quite, as she scrambled to push off of him.

He sat up and growled. “You will not interfere with me like that again.”

“Listen, you. I’m in charge here, you do what I say,” she snapped back.

“You’re in charge?” he cried incredulously. “I’m the commander.”

“Of the First Order!” she snarled. “I am not a member of your dreadful group.” The regret flittered once in her eyes as she realized what she had said. But she only sat up straighter, steel for a spine. He admired her courage even as he sputtered his rage.

“You find us dreadful but you’ll take our food. Interesting.”

“We all need to survive.”

“Don’t we just,” he replied, the threat thick in the air. She met his gaze, her eyes steady, and he felt something within him flicker, something that had died long ago. He licked his lips and pushed the feeling back. She was a brat, a feral animal, he argued as he clambered to his feet. He checked on his troops, half thinking she was going to turn around and flee. He cast a quick glance at her, sensing the turmoil roiling within: a desire to punch him in the face, a thread of fear, and a constant edge of hunger gnawing at her.

He considered his options.

“How much would you have received for those pieces?” he asked casually.

“About three portions,” she said through stiff lips. He nodded curtly.

“Make sure she is compensated for the loss,” he ordered the troopers. He felt the surprise flood through her, gratitude, then disbelief followed by a sense of righteousness. He snorted and gestured for her to continue. She lifted her chin and picked up her glowstick, marching past him and into the gloom.

It wasn’t much longer after that they reached a half submerged captain’s quarters.

“How are you going to get through?” she asked curiously. Kylo ignited his lightsaber and she jumped back, smothering a laugh at her own skittishness. He smirked and stabbed the door, waiting as the lightsaber ate away at the material. A moment later he kicked at the melted door and sand slid through the opening. They were at a tilt now, about thirty degrees and his feet wanted to slip underneath him as he entered the quarters. Wires hung from the ceiling and he looked away, spying the remains in the corner.

“Don’t look,” he said, astonished at his own gentleness. She shot him a skeptical look.

“I’ve seen it before,” she replied confidently and he imagined she had. He felt a twinge of sadness at the life she might lead and wondered if he could convince her to come with him. He must, after all; he could sense the power in her.

Another apprentice, he mused, perhaps one dedicated just to him. His mind offered another image, this time of her slim body underneath his, her mouth half open as she panted his name. He blinked rapidly and shook his head, clamping down on the noisome thoughts. Where the kriff did that come from, he thought bewildered.

“What are we looking for?” she asked while she sorted through some scrap in the corner, placing some in her bag.

“A box, about 30 centimeters high.”

“Oh yeah that’ll be easy,” she drawled and he snorted. He spent a few minutes setting glowsticks around the space, bathing the room in an uneven orange light. The storm troopers brushed through the dirt but Kylo ignored them, closing his eyes to focus on the tugging in his mind. He could sense her mind, bright and pulsing and forced himself to ignore it, turning his attention to the sharp light. There, underneath the skeleton, within the sand itself. It called him, it demanded his attention.

A holocron containing some of the last words and wisdom of Gallius Rex.

Kylo walked as if in a trance toward the desk, easily moving it aside with the Force. He was dimly aware of Rey’s gasp of surprise and felt her intrigue demand his attention. Focus!, he ordered himself as he used the Force to part the sand and draw the holocron up to him. It floated up in the sky, spinning slowly, throwing off bright blue and red sparks.

“What is that?” he heard the scavenger ask in awe. The holocron floated until it sat in his hand and he closed his fist triumphantly around it. He smiled broadly and turned around, slammed by the troopers’ worry and surprise by the smile and by the interest coming off of her.

She liked the smile.

He shut off the smile rapidly, schooling his face into harsh lines.

“Let’s move out,” he said. He nodded toward the pile by Rey. “Do you require assistance?

“Uh, no, uh,” she stuttered, cheeks turning pink. She shoved her items into a bag and trailed him out of the room.

The walk back was significantly shorter than in, he noted, as they easily scrambled over the fallen bits of metal and threaded through the dangling wires. He let Rey walk in front of him, ceding his role of leader to her, and he suspected she aware of that. It also allowed that treacherous part of himself to observe her easy gait, the way she held her back ramrod straight, her furtive little manner of glancing at him over her shoulder as she pretended to check the line.

They arrived at the entrance an hour later, the sun low in the sky. She looked around, let out a little screech, and raced off toward something. Kylo followed with the troops hustling behind. He spied an odd little creature near a red landspeeder and Rey pummeling him with the broken ends of her staff, using them as separate pieces to whirl and to smack and to ram. He admired her movements, the furious way in which she hammered the other creature, sending him stumbling back and screaming at her in an alien language.

Using the Force, Kylo languidly lifted the creature into the sky. Rey faltered and shot him a glare through narrowed eyes.

“I was handling it!” she seethed.

“And I’m ending it. Quickly,” he coolly said. He nodded toward her landspeeder. “What’s missing?”

“A ton,” she groaned. “It looks like it won’t be ready to ride unless I get some key parts.” She looked up at the alien twisting in the sky. “Please let him go.”

“Why do you care so much for these people?”

“Why don’t you?” The challenge was heavy in her voice and Kylo found himself grinning. Her resistance was refreshing. He lowered the alien, allowing him to plop heavily onto the ground. He pointed at Rey. “Finish your business here. We will tow your landspeeder back and I will arrange for the parts you need.”

“I’ve already been paid.”

“You saved the lives of men. Ration packs are cheap for us. You want what? Thirty of them? That’s maybe twenty credits. Let me compensate you adequately. Without your assistance we would have had more issues with the creature and in locating the holocron.”

Rey scoffed. “I hardly assisted you.”

“Not true,” Kylo smoothly interjected. “I could locate it with the Force but you cut through large swathes of the ship. We would have stumbled about down false ends, as I demonstrated. Don’t sell yourself short, Rey of Jakku. Plenty of others will.” He held her gaze for a few steady beats until she cracked a small smile. Tiny, miniscule even, he thought, but he recognized the concession.

Kriff, she would be a pleasure to teach, he thought, as he turned to order his troops to make arrangements for her landspeeder to be taken back to the shuttle. He heard the curt way she dealt with the other creature and tried not to smile.

She would be a magnificent addition to his  Knights. He just needed to get off this ridiculous planet. He imagined food and security would be the way and worked on his pitch as they all trekked to the command shuttle.

“Inform Supreme Leader Snoke that we have the item,” Kylo told Mitaka. “And work with this young woman here. She was an invaluable asset in locating it. Her price is meal packs and replacement parts for her landspeeder.”

“And is that the landspeeder?” Mitaka asked in a strangled voice, eyeing the odd contraption.

“It is. Don’t worry Mitaka. She doesn’t bite. Much.” Kylo hid a smirk as he strolled into his lounge and flopped down on a seat. He scrubbed his face and thought about the girl. He pondered how he would offer her the position. He thought about where she would fit in and how Snoke would covet her.

A small voice offered that perhaps she would be safer here. He slapped it down. He had no use for that voice anymore. That boy was weak and foolish and gone. Quietly, the voice pointed out how Kylo reacted to the girl. Even now, thinking about how her hair glinted in the sunlight, the dusting of freckles across her pert nose, the delicate curve of her breast underneath her wrappings, had his blood singing loudly.

Kylo lived an ascetic life, had lived one for so long that even that night at Canto Bight years ago seemed like a dream. He recalled his awkward fumblings with the girl and even more awkward ones the night that he had won the leadership of the Knights. But this pursuit of power had no space for any women, especially not one he sought to train. He couldn’t have those lines confused.

He knew his mission and had to achieve it.

Chapter Text

Rey enjoyed a real meal with the First Order, scraping her plate eagerly, the troopers watching in shock as she cleaned two plates in a record time. Kylo pitied the young woman and she caught the look on his face, dropping the bread sullenly.

“I should be going,” she announced.

“I’ll accompany you,” he said, standing with her.

“Sir--”Mitaka started and Kylo helped up a hand.

“She cannot cross the desert with her landspeeder broken. Am I correct in thinking your dwelling is far from here?” She nodded and he continued: “I will accompany her, towing the landspeeder behind me. I believe we have speeder bikes?” A trooper got up and headed toward the back, Kylo following him. A sleek black speeder, two blasters in the front, and a tow cable, was brought out. Rey worked with the trooper to secure her belongings, chatting amiably with FN 2187. Kylo checked his weapons and made sure her ration packs were properly stowed, adding a several liters of water despite her protests.

“I put it in a really battered can with a secure lid,” he said, brushing off her concerns. She shook her head and looked around nervously, scanning the sky. Mitaka jogged out of the shuttle and handed her the staff, a new jagged line around the middle.

“If we had more time we could sand it down but it’s welded back together,” he told her. She smiled brightly and Kylo felt that tug again. He wondered what the Force wanted with her. Did it really envision him as her teacher? He had strained during his meditations, hoping to seek an answer earlier, but the Force had remained stubbornly silent.

“We should be going,” she said, almost reluctantly. “It’s going to be dark soon and I wouldn’t want for you to get lost.”

“That’s kind of you, especially toward someone associated with something so dreadful,” he teased. She blushed and the tightness in his belly increased. He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. “After you.”

“Oh no, I’ll drive. I know the fastest way.” She braced herself as if expecting a protest.

“Fine by me,” he replied, knowing that left his hands free in case of an attack. The sun was kissing the horizon and he hoped she wasn’t too far. He didn’t want to ride back in the complete dark although Mitaka said he would activate the homing beacon to help draw Kylo to the shuttle.

She hopped on the bike and he settled behind her, wrapping an arm lightly around her waist. She scooted back until she pressed against him and he suddenly wished for his mask, certain surprise was splashed on his features.

“Hang on tight,” she grinned and gunned the engine, rocketing forward. He clutched tighter and she let out a hoot of laughter.

“Faster than yours?”


“I would tell you to keep it but…” She laughed again.

“You can’t keep giving me these things.” He nestled his chin on her shoulder and placed his lips near her ears.

“Consider it an enticement. There is much I can offer you, Rey.” He felt her shudder, the curl of anticipation and curiosity and the heavy tang of lust. He wondered if she had been with a man--or a woman--before. If she viewed it merely as transactional as she had their interchanges throughout the day or if she had sought something else. He was startled by the wisp of jealousy that coursed through his veins.

He had no claim on her, that small voice, that voice he sought to crush, whispered.

Not yet, the sinister side of him snickered.

He pulled her back to him, let her feel his heat along her spine and she shivered. He let his lips graze against the shell of her ear and he felt more than heard a response as the bike ate up the kilometers to her dwelling. He wasn’t sure what the hell he was doing but it felt incredible, especially with her response in the Force humming inside of him.

Perhaps this was what the Force wanted?

Warm and encouraged, he allowed his fingers to trail up her belly to rest just under her breasts. He nuzzled her jaw, lips feathering over surprisingly soft skin. As he pressed a kiss to her temple, blaster fire flew past, forcing Rey to jerk hard on the brake. He nearly tumbled off the bike, twisting around to see an alien similar to the one by her landspeeder earlier.

“Teedo!” Rey screamed.

“Tell me what you want me to do,” Kylo prompted her.

“Take him out,” Rey gritted, focused on keeping the keeping the bike racing over the dunes. Kylo turned and raised his hand, narrowing his eyes as he spied a range of luggabeasts. There was an alien on each one, each armed with ion spear. He grabbed the threads of their signatures in the Force and yanked, aliens teetering on the beasts. Shots sped across the desert at them and he ignited his blade with a snap hiss, deflecting them as they neared the bike.

Rey cried out as one of the ports grazed her skin, a burn gleaming on her arm. Guilt clutched Kylo and he screamed an apology at her. He looked up, noticing luggabeasts framing a path between two dunes. And something silvery glittering in the evening sky.

“Look out!” he hollered just as she lifted up, narrowly avoiding the net. Without thinking, Kylo flipped off the bike and raced toward them, feet flying over the sand aided by the Force, his blade a vicious thing as it hacked and sliced through the creatures. An ion spear boomed and the blue bolt raced toward him. He deflected with his hand, sending the bolt careening back into the alien.

“Anyone else?” he screamed at the sky, rage boiling beneath his skin. The Teedos eyed him carefully and slowly, laboriously, turned their beasts around and trudged back into the peach colored sky. Kylo snarled, his blood singing at him to chase them down, to punish them for harming his Rey, for forcing him to accidentally harm his Rey.

Rocked by the sudden possessiveness, Kylo shut down his blade and watched Rey draw the bike up to him.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“I’ll be fine.” She looked into the distance, squinting while Kylo surveyed the mess.

“Hopefully that scared them off.”

“Oh it wasn’t you,” Rey breathed, lifting an arm and pointing into the distance. “It’s X’us’Riia. It’s coming again.” Kylo followed her point to see a dark curtain of sand, gulping back the fear clawing up his throat.

“That looks like a vicious bastard,” he commented as he hopped behind her. Rey didn’t respond, kicking the bike into high gear, and fleeing over the dunes. She pushed it harder and faster and Kylo swore he could hear the wind churning behind him.

At last a fallen AT-AT appeared in the distance and the breath fell out of him. He was incredulous.

“That’s your home?!”

“We need to get in fast! Grab the food and water!” She skidded to a halt, bringing the bike to the lee side while Kylo picked up the water and ration packs. He could see the sandstorm now, close, barely a kilometer away, a howling hungry thing, lightning flashing within dark purple clouds. He followed her inside, wincing as his head banged the top of the AT-AT. She sealed up behind him, locking the door, and putting scraps of fabric around the seals. Rey raced around, hanging cloth up and blocking possible entrances.

“We’ll still get some sand but nothing too bad,” she told him as she lead him into the belly of the AT-AT. She lit a few lamps and Kylo did his best not to gasp. He quietly examined the hammock in the corner, the small potted flower, a pilot training system, and a wall of marks. He put the food and water down and took a step toward the wall, spying a small doll in the corner, wearing the orange flight suit of an X wing pilot and a Rebellion badge.

Just like he had as a child.

“What are these?” he asked, aware that he was intruding on something private. He glanced back at her, at the naked pain in her face. She lifted her chin haughtily and crossed the small space, drawing another mark on the wall. There must be thousands, he thought, chilled by the implications.

“Another mark, another day that I survived,” she said simply and began stowing away the water and food. “The storm will most likely last all night. You should get comfortable.”

Chapter Text

At her command to get settled, Kylo folded himself onto the floor, trying to take up as little space as possible.

“Is there something I can do to help?” he asked. She dropped a sack of scavenged pieces in front of him and collapsed across from him, crossing her legs.

“I need to clean these before I take them to Plutt tomorrow.”

“Who is Plutt?” He picked up a scrap of a rag and squirted some cleanser on the materials, noting how she used a brush to get the sand off first. The wind battered against the AT-AT, groans and pings sounding throughout the small space. Rey offered him a crooked smile.

“We’ve gone through worse.” Kylo pressed his lips together and reached into his belt. He extracted a bacta pad and handed it to her.

“For your arm.”

“Go through these often?” she teased as she pulled off the cover and slapped it on the slight burn. She sighed and closed her eyes and he felt the relief coursing through her.

“Far too often,” he agreed and began to work on the pieces. They worked together silently, listening to the storm buffeting the AT-AT. He wondered if they would be buried here.

“So,” Rey began casually. “Why are you with the First Order?”

“Why are you on Jakku? With your talents you could be almost anywhere else.”

“Ah yes, the offer.”
“You are powerful. I could feel the Force flowing through you.”

“The Force?” The girl crinkled her nose and laughed. “I’m no Jedi.”

“There is more to the galaxy than Jedi, Rey. There’s plenty of uses for your power.”

“I don’t have any power,” Rey said stubbornly. “Besides, I have to stay here.”

“What for?” he countered, heat thick in his voice.  She studied him, tilting her head, and he knew she was taking his measure. How much trust could she put in him, the man who threatened her this afternoon, before dumping a month’s worth of food and water on her? The man she could force outside and let the sands strip the flesh from his bones?

“For my family,” she said into the quiet.

“Where are they?”

“I don’t know,” she replied honestly. “They said they would be back. And they will be. They’ll come back to get me.” Biting his lip, Kylo let himself skim the surface of her thoughts, delicately, tenderly, and tried not to shudder at what he saw. A child, a space ship lifting into the sky, the terror and loss on her face as she screamed for them to come back. She continued to scrub at a piece, as if unaware of what he had done.

“You’ve survived for a long time on your own then.” He kept his eyes downcast, hoped she wouldn’t see the tears misting his eyes. Stupid, ridiculous, self. He had fought to kill this side of it but she had coaxed it out with ease. There is nothing wrong with sympathy, the small voice chided. She shrugged.

“I do what I need to get by.” Her simple answer spoke volumes and Kylo ordered himself to hold it together, to not let the stupid small voice spill out and offer her comfort. He hunched down, staring at his worn leather boots, and argued against himself. His hand moved off its own accord to cross the space between them and rest on her knee.

“I’m sure they’ll come for you.” He spoke the lie easily and she quickly accepted it. She gave him a thin smile and cleared her throat.

“You’re a bit of an odd one. Not a Jedi but you can use the Force. And that soldier, FN 2187 swears you’re a space monk.”

“A space monk?” he smirked. “No, I just dedicate my life to serving Supreme Leader Snoke and the Force.”

“That leaves little time for else then?” she asked pointedly and he snorted.

“It isn’t easy to bring order to the galaxy.”

“Why do it then?”

“Because there is too much chaos, too much suffering. We need to end it.”

“And you think the First Order is the way to do it?” she challenged. So it’s to be that type of conversation, he thought glumly, and threw his shoulders back.

“The New Republic abandons systems as they squabble over the best method to lead. Look at Ryloth. There are in another year of drought and their people of starving. Worst of all, a trade blockade prevents them from seeking help. It’s been like that for six years until the First Order showed up, ended the blockade, and provided food. During that time, the New Republic did nothing.”

“Perhaps they wanted to be on their own,” Rey shrugged.

“We are all connected, Rey. None of us can stand alone.”

“I do,” she said proudly and Kylo shook his head. He didn’t want to point out that she relied on the First Order not coming in and taking over the graveyard, the she relied on this Plutt fellow to offer a fair exchange, that she relied on Jakku being an important waypoint for travelers before entering the Unknown Regions, thus requiring they had parts on hand. He refused to continue the argument, dropping a cleaned piece into her pile before picking up another.

“FN 2187 says that you spend a lot of time alone,” she said carefully. Kylo wondered what her point was.

“Using the Force requires a lot of meditation,” he said through stiff lips. She snorted and shot him a gamine smile.

“We’re going to be here all night,” she said confidently, standing up and stretching. She removed her boots and dropped some of her dressings so that she stood only in her tattered grey tunic and beige trousers. She nodded toward him.

“You should get comfortable.” Confused at the abrupt turn, Kylo unfastened his cape and spread it on the ground where he thought he might rest. He also tugged off his boots and gloves.

“How long will you remain in Jakku?”

“Until this storm is over. We have what we want,” he replied before looking up at her. “Unless you reconsider my offer.” Rey shook her head.

“Thank you though.”

“Is it me or the First Order that’s preventing you from saying yes? The galaxy is a vast place. I have extensive resources. We can find your family. Perhaps they are detained and cannot get to you. I can help you locate them.”

“In return for what?” Rey snapped. He could sense the hope flaring to life inside of her and wondered if he finally found her number.

“You would be my apprentice and I would teach you the ways of the Force.” Rey snorted.

“I don’t have the Force.”

“No one has it. Some of us just have the ability to tap into it, to work with it. The Force is everything. It surrounds us, binds us, penetrates us. It speaks to us everyday and a user, like yourself, knows how to listen.” She stared at him, fascination and wonder on her face, making her look younger than she was. She was an interesting creature, he thought, intrigued by him yet repulsed at the same time. He could feel her struggling and sat back, deciding to let her solve it. He would win nothing by pressing his case.

And beneath it all, was the heady thread of lust.

She found him attractive. Especially when he smiled. He had done it twice in her presence and she liked how it lit up his face. She was practically screaming it into the air and he felt a little pity for her that she found him attractive. There were far better looking men in the galaxy.

But she would never know that, a part of him whispered. She only knows the creatures here. He tilted his head and considered her. He probably wasn’t the first human male she had encountered but maybe one of the few that she had spent quite some time with rather than a brief visit. He mused over that thought. Much to consider during the long night.

“What else did FN 2187 say?” he asked curiously, thinking he would need to talk with Phasma about her chatty soldiers when he returned to the Finalizer.

“He said he thought you were a space monk and you quarreled with leadership. He didn’t think you ever looked at a woman.” Curiosity raging as to how that topic came up, Kylo shot her a puzzled look. She was staring at him, lips half parted, hunger in her hazel eyes. He suddenly sensed how she would like to spend the night and worry gnawed on him. He was terribly inexperienced. He sensed she was not. He didn’t see how this would end well. He reached into the Force, almost begging for it to guide him.

“I’m looking at you aren’t I?” he half whispered. And she flowed into his lap, surprise short circuiting his thought process as she settled around him, legs on other side. Her kisses were hungry, short, demanding, and he could hardly catch his breath. His thick hands fumbled with her ridiculous three buns, tearing the bands out, and carding his fingers through her surprisingly soft strands (although he did note the presence of a few gritty bits of sand. Were she his, she would have liters of water at her disposal. A true bounty, he guessed, thoughts cut short as she slipped her tongue between his lips).

He nearly froze beneath her, unsure of how to respond, sensing her giddiness and her half guessed, half intuited idea that he was inexperienced. Growling at the slight mocking he heard in her thoughts, he tapped into the Force, wrapping a tendril around her mind and probing for her fantasies. He moved stealthily, hoping to avoid her own sense triggered by his invasion. Memories wisped past him: a sail barge, a golden skinned man, weeks spent in pleasure, a visiting med ship, an implant injection, eager kisses from a visiting traveler who promised her information on her parents only to abandon her when she refused to take his cock in her mouth.

But then her fantasies, shoved in a corner of her mind, her lithe figure panting as she touched herself, fingers curled inward, as she dreamt of tenderness and love. Kylo cradled her to him, softening his kisses, and she moaned slightly, leaning into him.

He could give her this, he thought, then take her away with him. Love, not things, was the key to contain her.

He crushed her to him, opening his mouth, letting her explore his while strumming his fingers up her spine. Heat pooled in his belly and he had her key, he knew what to give her to wrap her around his fingers. He could take this, use it, use her. But that small voice reared its ugly head again, reminded him how coarse and callous he sounded. How he wasn’t raised this way.

Kylo could feel her body humming, need pounding through her with each beat of her heart, a slight feeling that perhaps he might cherish her tonight.

“Why Rey?” he questioned between kisses, pulling back to catch his breath.

“Why not?” she murmured as she peppered his cheeks with little pecks. He caught her shoulders and pulled her back, taking in her blown wide pupils and swollen lips.

“You just don’t strike me as the type of girl…”he trailed off as he caught the disdain in one carefully raised brow.

“You made me feel good, just for a moment,” she told him clearly. “When you complimented me.” She blushed and he hazarded that she was not praised often. He smiled languidly and brushed the strands off her shoulder, cupping her cheek.

“You’re gorgeous,” he told her. “Any man would notice how talented and beautiful you are.”

“I sense in a but in that statement,” she replied wryly even as her eyes shone.

“But...I could give you so much more, sweetheart. I could help you grow in your power.”

“This is not a power I want,” she shot back stubbornly. He sighed and ran his thumb along her cheek, along her plump bottom lip.

“As you wish,” he said, sensing his defeat already. The AT-AT shuddered underneath the screaming wind and Kylo could feel little bits of sand gritting their way through metal panels. Rey glanced worriedly away and he caught her face, pulling her down to him, to kiss her sensuously.

She responded eagerly, grinding down on his lap, lips hungrily seeking his as he slipped back to the floor, letting her take the lead. She fell over him, warmth from her skin pressing against him sending ripples of pleasure throughout his frame.

He pushed aside everything his ridiculous uncle said, every word Snoke taught him, and allowed himself to become drunk on the taste of her tongue dragging along his, the flavor of her lips on his. Warmth pulsed in time with his heart and he shifted beneath her, trousers uncomfortably tight.

“Undress me.” Her hoarse voice prompted him to roll her to her side, fingers scrambling to tug her trousers down. His lips felt cracked and dry and she was the only elixir that could soothe the burning in his throat. He knew that she absorbed his gaze raking over her lithe bronze limbs, that there was a hunger in his eyes, and recognized her starved flesh as the mirror to his own.

He understood from what he gleaned in Canto Bight, what he plucked from her mind, what she was hoping for and only prayed that he could deliver. The hull shuddered from the storm’s onslaught as he lifted her tunic and tossed it aside so that she lay beneath him. He cupped her breasts, calloused thumb rasping across delicate flesh. A soft cry escaped and she arched into his palms. She was small, full, and warm, and he forced himself to be slow, syrupy, caressing in the ways she had fantasized. Sweat trickled down his spine, his breath growing thick in his throat, as his need for her only grew.

She was a long limbed beauty, golden and pure, and he devoted precious minutes to kissing every inch, tracing constellations between freckles with the brush of his lips, hot breath skating over pebbled skin. Nails raked over his back, tugging at his overcoat, until she figured out how to open his belt. His overcoat shortly followed and she sighed happily as she dragged heated palms down his sweat sheened back.

“Do I give you that much heat?” she whispered.

“You make me boil,” he answered honestly as he took her breast in his mouth, moaning around the softness filling him. She rocked her hips against him, one hand snaking between them to ease some of the pleasure that pounded through her, heavy and insistent, clamoring for his attention. At one point, he wasn’t sure where she began and he ended, as their limbs entwined, a bond snapping in place, a feedback loop settled into the Force. When he skimmed his hands down to her hips, when he left soft open mouth kisses on her inner thighs, he could feel her sobbing in need. When he lapped at her damp flesh, burning her taste into his memory, her writhing melted into his own.

The bundle of enthusiasm came beneath him, her body arching off the floor, her harsh intake of breath a symphony that he would treasure. She flipped him over, a burst of energy, as she greedily worked off his trousers, teeth scraping over skin, as she stripped him bare. He bit his lip, uncertainty flooding their intimate space and she surged up, finger under his jaw. She brushed his hair and smiled cozily.

“You are an absolute figure of grace and beauty,” she told him, laying a trail of kisses down his face, pausing to explore his collarbone, his hands fisting in the cloak beneath them. She took her time kissing and tracing intricate patterns around his nipples with her tongue and his body shook under the torrent of her pleasure, a satisfied hum in her little body.

He grabbed her hips and none too gently thrust into her. She threw her head back and he swore she was a feral creature, sent to tempt him, and couldn’t care less that he had succumbed. This was what she wanted, her thoughts pounded into him. She wanted to be filled, she wanted to be treasured, she wanted to have a night where nothing mattered but what could bloom between them.

Kylo wondered how many of those thoughts were his but he didn’t know, he didn’t care, he wasn’t sure he could care. He reared up and his mouth became a hot seal around those perfectly pert and rosy tipped breasts. She was tailored for him, she fulfilled every hidden and shameful fantasy, she was tight around him, little whines escaping as she rocked against him. She was searching for something, needing something, and he latched onto it, sliding one hand between them to crook within her curls, thumb grazing her sensitive nerve, and she came undone around him. He followed with a harsh cry that sent shockwaves through them both and she collapsed on top of him, face buried in the crook of his neck.

He floated down from the haze shimmering between them, and used the Force to nudge it into her mind. He felt her stiffen for a moment and wondered how she would react before she relaxed into it, sighing as he soothingly stroked her back.

“I should have mentioned it earlier, but I have an implant,” she said, all muffled into his neck. Kylo chuckled.

“I know.”

“How?” There was an edge of righteousness in her voice and he held her tighter.

“Hmmm, the Force.” She sat up and stared at him skeptically.

“The Force can find implants?” At his nod, she blew out her breath and shook her head. “The Force is a dangerous thing.”

“You’re a dangerous thing,” he replied with a slight smirk. She grinned at that, pleased with the idea, and lifted off of him, draping her body along his, head on his chest. He continued to stroke her back, listening to her gather her breath and lull her heart into a steady beat.

“I don’t want to say thank you,” she began reluctantly, “but thank you.”

“No. Thank you.” He dropped a kiss on her forehead and let his fingers swim through the honey colored hair. The storm continued to howl outside and sand skittered across the floor.

“It brings relief, you know,” she told him and he lifted his brows at her honesty. Yes, it did relieve the heat that had been swelling up within them, but this was something more. He knew it and she could sense it.

“I enjoy being with you,” he finally said. She let out a shuddery sigh and he gathered her to him, kissing the silvery tears that spilled from her eyes. He kissed her eyelids, her temples, her cheeks, and clutched her tightly while she struggled to maintain a sense of dignity.

“They will come back to you,” he lied, understanding the stress that wracked her frame. She longed for something, a connection, and had forged it tonight. He could feel the conflict warring within her. She knew that when the storm abated, he would leave and never think of her again. While she counted the stars every night, drew another mark on the wall, and waited until her family returned to her.

Kylo wondered if he could find them and bring them to her. He wondered if that would send her flowing into his arms. He wondered how long this potential happiness would last.

Until Snoke found her and broke her and re-made her. Just like how he did to Ben Solo.

The need to protect her roared through him and he inhaled sharply, catching her scent, warm and tangy, a hint of citrus.

He would never let Snoke find her, he vowed, and rifled through his memories until he remembered how to build a Force void net. He would erect it around her home, keep her safe here. She could still tap into the Force but it would mask her signature. He suspected she used it passively, that she relied on it while scavenging, but wouldn’t know when she was actively using it until she was in great danger.

He would keep her safe.

A gift he could never let her know about.

The need for her arose in him, nearly strangling him with its insistence, and he recognized she was in the same shape, desire tingling in each limb, telling her to hurry, telling her to drink her fill. He rolled her underneath him and thrust into her, swallowing her moans with demanding kisses. She yanked on his hair, lifting him up, to suck deep bruises into his neck, to score long lines down his back as she rocked her hips, a slow rolling rhythm that had him nearly pulling out completely before plunging in again. She needed this like water, he needed it like oxygen, and they wrapped their bond around one another, a warm and hazy blanket that rocketed their senses into each other. She gasped as she understood how she fluttered around him, he nearly choked on the sense of fullness, a deep aching need, that resonated as he snapped his hips into her. They were desperate now, slick slapping sounds rivaling their ragged breathing, an odd jerky rhythm to their movements as they fed off one another, teeth and lips tangling in clumsy kisses as he sought to draw her into him.

Her cry was loud and surprised, their orgasms ripped from them and pouring into each other. Wave after wave flooded them until they were limp, graceless, and sated, sharing tender, half awake kisses as they drifted into slumber. He slept with her tucked beside him, head under his chin, cloak half flung over them. She held his hand, fingers twined together, as the storm raged through the night.

Chapter Text

Morning found them at one another again, Kylo kneeling behind her, Rey whining piteously as she rocked back onto his cock. He circled her clit, rough and hasty, a half memory of her own method as she sought relief on lonely nights. She groaned his name and he nearly faltered, her breathy voice urging him on. He wasn’t tender or gentle, he savored her wet and dripping cunt clenching tightly around him, a demanding throb building up in the base of his spine. Somehow their morning tenderness had twisted into something primal and in that moment, he couldn’t care as she came around him, astonished at the speed which the pleasure tore through her body, leaving her shivering and gasping for air. He held her to him as he followed, breath burning his throat, surprise chasing every heart beat.

He had no idea it could be this incredible. A thought Rey was voicing as she collapsed to the floor.

They lay together, each intent on claiming their breath again, fingertips touching, until Rey sat up and took a swig of water. He picked up his own canteen and grimaced, wishing for caf. The storm had abated sometime before dawn and Rey busied herself with cleaning up the place, avoiding his gaze. She threw on her clothes and began to sweep up the dust. Amused, Kylo gathered all the bits of sand and buffeted them toward the door, using the Force to seek out granules in every nook and cranny. Rey stripped the cloth off the wall, letting early morning light into the cramped space.

He bent over and slipped on his trousers and shirt, noticing her admiring his overcoat. He licked his lips and jerked his chin toward it.

“Keep it,” he suggested lightly. Her eyes widened and for the first time, she turned to look at him.

“I couldn’t possibly…”

“You can and you will. I’m sure it gets cold here...sometimes.” She cracked a half grin and nodded, pulling the coat tight to her chest and inhaling deeply.

“It smells like you,” came her muffled voice, a wobble at the end. His heart fluttered and he cleared his throat.

“I, uh, I should go back to my ship now,” he stated. She closed her eyes. “Rey, I can look for your parents. With your permission. If I find them…”

“They will come back for me,” she said with more force than necessary. He was approaching her belief system, threatening to bring it down, and he hastily backed away.

“Of course,” he reassured her. “I’m just offering to find out more information. If you want.” She looked at him from under her lashes, lower face hidden by his overcoat. She gave a brief nod and he pressed his lips together, accepting her response.

He stepped closer to her, hunched over so his head didn’t hit the ceiling. Kylo ran his knuckles down her cheek and sighed.

“I wish you would reconsider.”

“This is my home.”

“I could be your home.” The neediness in his voice shamed him but he wouldn’t back away now.

“No, you couldn’t,” she answered. He felt the truth in her words and he reluctantly agreed. He bent forward and kissed her tenderly. Rey withdrew halfway, refusing to look at him.

“It’s better if it’s a clean break,” she said softly, her words almost swallowed by her sorrow. It stretched between, taut and lean, and he wanted to smash it into bits, tell her the truth, and bring her home with him. Instead, he closed his eyes and wove the Force void around her home, giving her one last layer of protection.

“Do you, uh, do you want my comm link number?” he asked somewhat awkwardly. Her cheeks turned pink and she nodded. Feeling like an awkward teenager on Hosnia again, he scratched out the numbers onto a small table.

“If ever you need anything…”he trailed off, uncertain how to end it. She stepped into him, resting her cheek on his chest, and he settled his arms around her.

“Thank you,” she told him. And he knew she wasn’t thanking him for the sex but for the closeness, the intimacy, the cocoon they had created around each other, a night of safety and devotion. She relaxed into him and he returned the movement. She sensed his respect and his care and reciprocated it along their bond.

She was a unique and wonderful woman and kriff it all to hell, he was sure he felt something more than lust for her. He wanted to give her the galaxy, show her things that she missed on this hellish place, give her a sense of happiness and safety. Wake up and share caf with her. Wrap his legs over hers as they fell asleep together. Cover her in diaphanous and lush fabrics, encircle her throat with jewels that rivaled nebulae, and watch as worlds fell at her feet.

Disentangling himself both from her and the dream, he stepped back and offered a thin smile. She wiped at her tear stained cheeks and lead him out. He helped her remove the sand and to clear the area around the AT-AT, using the Force to speed up the process. The Force quickly cleaned both bikes and she spent a few moments checking the engines before assuring him his was ready to drive.

“Well, if I ever come back to Jakku--”

“Why would you? It’s a junkyard to someone like you.” He smiled crookedly at her wry assessment and cupped her cheek.

“It holds a great treasure,” he told her tenderly and she blushed, rubbing her cheek into his palm before swatting it away.

“Get out of here before you turn my mind and make me foolish,” she ordered, voice wavering. Sensing her rising distress, he cleared his throat, opened his mouth, before closing it quickly.

There was nothing else to say.

“Goodbye, Rey,” he choked out before he climbed on the bike and roared off, engine chugging for a moment before roaring along the dunes. As he pulled away, he could feel the Force void snap into place and her signature disappeared off the wind. He sighed in relief and radioed Mitaka, ordering him to activate the homing beacon.

And, of course, learned he was going the wrong way. He adjusted course and headed toward his ship, crafting a place in his memory palace where a broken AT-AT and a vicious, vibrant girl could reside.



A few months later...


Kylo stared down at Jakku, studying the map, especially the Goazon Badlands, memories battering at him. He slapped them away, grateful his mask was omnipresent nowadays so his sorrow wouldn’t be plain for everyone to see. He had spent a few weeks trying to track down Rey’s parents until the war took his attention. Beside, his intelligence seemed to suggest what he suspected: her parents were dead and she was clinging to a broken dream.

He didn’t know how to tell her.

He sensed Mitaka approaching behind him, apprehension rolling off in waves. He sighed and listened to Mitaka’s report, brow furrowing in concern.

The droid stole a freighter?

“Not exactly sir. It had help. We don’t have confirmation yet but FN 2187 may have helped---”

Rage tore through him. That kriffin’ stormtrooper. He had warned Phasma. He ripped apart the console (a growing habit since he left Jakku, he thought, as his lightsaber slashed through expensive machinery. He could already hear Hux screaming)

“Anything else?” he ground out.

“The two were accompanied by a girl.”

His head lifted. Mitaka flew into his grip.

“What girl?”