Actions

Work Header

Songs of Innocence, Songs of Wisdom

Chapter Text

 

"Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion,
Reason and Energy, Love and Hate are necessary to Human existence.
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil.
Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.
William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

 

***

 

Cover Art for Songs of Innocence, Songs of Wisdom by the amazingly talented Reyloship82

 

 

Why did you do it?  Asked a part of his soul to the other…

Kylo Ren contemplated the empty void of the universe, standing in front of a huge bay window in his dark chambers. Stars were twinkling. Others were dying. Supernovas were born.

Snoke had crept and filled his mind ever since he could remember. Since he was a child, he always had echoing voices whispering in his sleep, in his daydreams, and in his nightmares. The empty space before him bore a strange resemblance to his own mind. Silence. He had never felt so at peace – and yet, never had he felt so disturbed.

He kept playing the scene over and over in his head…

Why did you do it?  A part of his soul kept asking, tapping on the doors of his thoughts.

He knew the answer partly, and a repressed memory filled his thoughts.

Snoke is using you for your powers…He will crush you, echoed his father’s voice in his head.

It was his birthright to rule the galaxy. He deserved to be Supreme Leader because it was his  destiny . He was the true heir of Darth Vader. It was his path to overcome his former Master. He had known then, but hadn’t fully accepted it until he heard it voiced clearly before him in his father's words. That’s when the sole idea of overthrowing Snoke and fulfilling his true destiny had finally solidified. However, without him fully realizing it, floating soft hazel eyes entered his  mind…

Or… had it been, had it been for…her?

His gloved fists clenched at his side. He recalled everything …their conversations through the Force Bond…the way she had stared at him when he appeared shirtless in front of her – oh, so disturbed  - the way they had touched hands…and what he had seen beyond that, laying behind the veil of their own future…Rey as his partner in the Dark Side, glorious and fearless, standing next to him as they both ruled the galaxy…

His fists clenched harder; they were almost shaking. A familiar feeling surged within him. Wrath.

She had betrayed him. She had abandoned him. Like his mother. Like his father. Like his uncle. Like everybody. They all despised him, the 'Fallen One.' He had dared to think she was different. He had offered her the galaxy, the spark of a new order, a life written anew. And for the second time, she had slapped him in the face. After she had looked at him with those insanely intense eyes in the elevator, after she had said she was there, saying she would help him. He had begged her to join him. How dare she humiliate him like this? This…nobody, this… scavenger, the desert rat of that junkyard called Jakku.

It was far worse. She had helped the last of the Resistance to flee, leaving him to cope with his own failure…the failure to convince her, to stop her, and to destroy the last of the disgusting rebels. Hux hadn’t failed to scold him, blaming him for everything.

His jaw clenched, anger building dangerously high once again. She was going her pay for this, her and those she dared to call friends. Those murderers and traitors...

But his fists loosened up at once. He let out a long sigh, and his features crumbled in defeat. He swallowed heavily as his pained eyes looked up at the universe through the bay window once again. He lifted his gloved hand and rested his long fingers on the cold glass. His body gave in to gravity and he lowered his head, his long dark hair covering his face as his handsome features contorted in a mix of pain, despair, and loneliness.

He couldn’t feel her through the Force anymore. He felt cold. Empty. He asked himself if the bond had been broken after Rey had left Crait, after their connection had reopened again – proving that Snoke was not the one who had created it. And then, before he realized, his thought followed another path …

Where are you now ? Will you ever call my name again ?

But suddenly, a low grunt and way-too-familiar voice tore through his inner silence, making him jump and shaking him to the core.

“You pitiful, pathetic soul!” growled the voice impatiently. Kylo turned around quickly, his eyes widening in utter fear. It couldn’t be, he was…

Snoke was standing behind him, gleaming in shades of red light, his whole body encompassed by a strange crimson aura. His features were menacing and distorted by rage.

A Force Ghost.

Impossible! How could this be? Force Ghosts could only stem from the Light side of the Force …But Snoke sure seemed real, and he was now walking slowly toward him, his usual golden robes flowing behind him. Kylo found his feet unwillingly taking several steps back. He hit the bay window with a loud thump as he pushed his whole body against it, but there was no escape.

“Look at you, you miserable wannabe heir of Lord Vader,” Snoke hissed at him, alarmingly close to his face. “You really thought she was going to take the bait of your ridiculous offer? And you betrayed me for that ?” he spat at him. “Look at you. Without me, you are nothing. A poor soul in an empty shell. I  made you what you are. She will never join you in your despicable dreams. She lured you yet again, as do all children of the Light,” he all but screamed, pointing a finger at his scar. “But soon, I will have my revenge,” he whispered to a quivering Kylo, an insane look in his blue murderous eyes, only to disappear in a cloud of smoke as quickly as he had appeared.

Kylo fell to his feet, gasping for air, his face covered in sweat and his heart racing as if he had run the Kessel Run himself. His whole body shivered in terror. He tried to control his breath. Had this been real? Had he imagined this? Had the ghost of his former Master come back to torment him or was it a ploy of his own fractured soul? He trembled on the ground for what sounded like an eternity, terrified by this vision. He clenched his eyes shut in panic as his whole body and mind screamed helplessly…

Rey…!!

 

                                                                                                         ***

 

“Rey, are you alright?” asked a concerned General Leia. Rey blinked. She thought she had just heard her name cried out in the distance, and she was sweating heavily. She looked back at Leia. Was it the hot and humid planet of Akiva, where the remaining members of the Resistance had fled after the Battle of Crait, which drew on her energy so much? Or had it been something else?

“Yeah, I’m alright, it’s just…” she looked again haphazardly around her.

“Rey, what’s wrong? Your face went blank and you turned white for a moment,”

“It’s nothing. I thought I heard something…it was probably an echo coming from the tunnels,” Rey explained, not believing a word of what she was saying.

Leia eyed her with a suspicious look on her face, clearly not believing her either; nonetheless, she didn’t push it further.

Well, part of it was true. The Resistance was indeed hiding in the gloomy labyrinthine catacombs of the jungle planet of Akiva, and the sounds echoed so strangely in this place. It had been Leia’s idea to flee to the Outer Rim, to this deserted planet where not so long ago an old ally, Norra Wexley, had fought the Empire. They were hiding underground, since Myrra, its capital, was too exposed to possible attacks.

Akiva offered very little strategic advantage or interest to the First Order, which was why it was the perfect hideout until the Resistance could gather their forces again. It had borne the spirit of the Resistance in many ways and offered, apart from old Rebellion facilities, an abandoned droid factory in its labyrinths.

Rey had spent the last few days trying to fix some old droids, her scavenger abilities and her knowledge of mechanics earning her applause from everyone in the crew. They had been working hard, trying to restore the place a bit, to give it a new life, to reorganize and prepare to fight, and to send messages to old allies.

Anything not to think of …him.

It wasn’t easy. Each time she encountered Leia’s gaze, she was reminded of him. Of his eyes, fierce, ruthless, but also, as she had seen through his cracks in his facade, so soft. She remembered the last glimpse she had of him through their bond in the Resistance base, kneeling like a dark, shattered knight…Their connection had not reopened since then. Would it ever?

Shake it off! He’s never coming back. He tried to destroy all of us; he tried to kill Luke and is partly responsible for his death, after all. You gave him a chance and he didn’t take it, the Supreme Fool!

Rey sighed, a defeated look on her face as she lowered her head.

“I better go back and help the others,” she told Leia as she rose to her feet, but Leia grabbed her hand with  that  look in her eyes, the specific one that reminded her so much of her son ; it was an inquiring look, as if she was reading her mind, as if she knew her better than she knew herself.

“Something has changed in you. I can sense it. Do not forget that I, too, can feel the Force,” Leia said, a bit defiantly.

Rey considered her. Of course she knew something was wrong. But that wasn’t the point here. She felt an unknown feeling rising through her veins. It made her guts twist in an uneasy fashion: guilt.


She hadn’t told Leia anything about her son. Kriff, she hadn’t gotten the courage to face her about anything, not even what had happened with Luke, what she had discovered about Ben’s training. That Luke had even contemplated the idea of murdering his own nephew for a brief second. She feared the pain would be too much for Leia, the last straw that would make her collapse. Although elegant, Leia's wrinkles reminded her that she was aging, and that those were the remaining marks of a tormented and torn-apart life. Leia was almost the last member of a broken family. She had lost her son. She had lost her husband. She had lost her brother. She was no one to confide in. Actually, it should have been the other way around. Leia already had too much on her mind to take anything else in.

“General, I fear that there is not much to say.” It was a blatant lie, but she had no choice. It was for her, to protect her. But Leia, the everlasting queen of sharp retorts, responded with a soft but resolved voice .

“Cut the ‘General’ thing. If you ever want an attentive ear, you know where to find it,” she offered, before adding with a faint but nonetheless generous smile, “I’m not saying this in a professional way. You know, you could be my own daughter.”

Rey’s heart sank.

Daughter. The word rattled her so deeply. She could have a lost mother. She had waited for her parents for so long, clinging to the hope that everything was a nightmare, that she would wake up, that they would be back one day…only to have a confirmation of her worst fears by none other than Ben himself.

But something else had made her heart drop. It was Leia they were talking about. Leia. Ben’s mother. She could have been her daughter, if only she had accepted Ben’s open hand and offer. She quickly recalled that she couldn’t have anyway, as she now understood that their destinies were meant to be apart and she had been  oh so wrong to think she could turn him. He had disappointed her in ways she was ashamed of confessing to herself. The vision of their common future still unsettled her to the bone…as did another most uncomfortable and intimate  vision of him she had seen through the Force Bond, but she was not going to think about that now, not in Leia’s presence.

She shook her head slightly and took Leia’s hands in hers, her eyes glistering. “Thank you. Thank you, Leia.” And she quickly ran out of the small conference room.

She left a very pensive Leia behind her, who looked at Rey as she ran through the door. She kept wondering if her son had any influence in Rey’s sudden changes. She was certain of only one thing: something was going on.

Rey ran throughout the long, still poorly lit tunnels of Akiva’s catacombs. She didn’t want to think about all this. She didn’t want to see anyone. She crawled to the surface, climbed up a ladder, and popped out of the earth right into the planet’s dense jungle.

The forest was so dense that the Millennium Falcon was completely covered by its huge trees and vegetation that displayed so many shades of green she could only marvel at it. Strange birds chirping and other sounds were constantly resonating through the trees, and sometimes a bush would move, only for her to discover yet another species of animal she had not seen before. Her favorite until now had been a sort of big jungle blue-and-yellow feline that was running through the forest with her cubs. If someone had told her something could be cuter than the Porgs only a few days ago, she would not have believed it. But those cute kitten-cubs with their distinctive yellow marks made her heart fill with a sense of childlike wonder.

She climbed through the entranceway of the Millennium Falcon and went straight to the 'fresher to put some water on her face. She was sweating heavily and had never felt such humidity in all her life. Jakku was nothing compared to this. Jakku’s climate was more of a dry heat.

She opened a closet door and retrieved the old Jedi books she had stolen before leaving Ahch-To. She didn’t quite know why she had done it, but an inner voice had told her to do it. And if there was one thing she knew, it was to always listen to that voice. If no one could teach her, perhaps she could teach herself.

But the task had proven to be far more complicated than she initially had thought. Even though she was gifted in languages and could understand many idioms, including droids and Wookies, she didn’t comprehend a word of anything written on these manuscripts. They were more ancient than anything she had ever encountered. The main problem was that the textbooks clearly used symbols and signs instead of a true ‘language.' The books were embossed with beautifully drawn blue and yellow moons, suns, stars and cosmic symbols. She felt she held so many truths in her hands, yet all of them were escaping her.

Her deep sigh betrayed how defeated and empty she felt.

It’s all a big mess. I’ll never figure this out, she thought, looking upward as if there was something there apart from the stars, which were starting to twinkle with the curtains of darkness falling onto the horizon.

Maybe he would know...?

Ben…?

 

Chapter Text

Supreme Leader, the message is ready for broadcasting,” stated a severe-looking General Hux, who, whenever he used the honorific title, took peculiar enjoyment in adding a blatantly sarcastic tone to it. He was facing Kylo aboard the Finalizer ’s bridge, his arms crossed in their usual manner behind his back. “However –  Sir  - I strongly advise pursuing our current search –”

“…that has failed yet again to provide us with their location, General,” Kylo Ren said contemptuously.  

Hux rebelliously added, “We already located them once on D’Qar. You seem to be doubting my word, Supreme Leader. I will find them. Do not doubt either my men or my competence.”

“Shall I refresh your memory that I am in command now?”  Kylo’s dark eyes threw daggers at him.

They had started a duel of staring and glaring at each other which he was not about to lose anytime soon. Very unfortunately, he knew he still needed Hux, as he was the commander of the Army, and Kylo knew all too well that the stormtroopers were loyal to him. Despite the fact he literally  loathed  the man, Kylo knew Hux was a fine strategist, but he was also a wicked, power-driven man.

There was something he could relate to in Hux; after all, he himself had murdered his father just like Hux had plotted to assassinate his with the help of Phasma. But Kylo had done it because he had thought this would release him from his internal excruciating pain, even if he had been wrong. Hux, on the contrary, had pursued that goal for power. Hux’s merciless ways were something he didn’t stand for and had opposed several times, despite his own temper which erupted at times when he could not control it. It gave him no pleasure to use brute force just for the sake of it.

He knew that if the remains of the Resistance were found by him there would be no survivors. This troubled him much more than he cared to admit. He knew Rey was with them. He couldn’t bring himself to just kill her as if she were nothing more than a fly on a wall. He wanted to hate her, yet he found himself incapable of doing so, and he loathed himself even more for it. His heart was torn apart and felt like lead, but he had to make up for appearances. He therefore had settled on a perfectly acceptable excuse in the eyes of the Order.

“General Hux, we will send this message to all systems under our control and broadcast it on local communication channels. And, if you find the remaining Resistance members, remember the girl has to be caught alive so we can give her a proper punishment for the murder of our Supreme Leader. A proper trial and condemnation would send a powerful message to every star system in the galaxy that we cannot and will not be opposed, at the same time showing we are not  just  some random vengeful murderers,” he told Hux, his tone as cold, strict and detached as he could manage. Hux’s eyes were twitching with rage, and he barely contained his disagreement with the whole issue. But Kylo gave him that dark look, the one that flatly said that he was just in absolutely no mood for his Ginger talks .

He was so exhausted.

Of course he was. It had been one of his most horrid nights. It had taken him long hours to find quiet, his mind ruminating and tormented by past events, before daunting nightmares of Snoke’s Force Ghost had assaulted his soul yet again. The former Supreme Leader had been haunting him and punishing him for his betrayal by employing Force Lightning, sending him flying in pain through the air. His body felt like it was being crushed under Snoke's power, and before he realized it, he was free-falling into a dark black void. When he finally opened his eyes, he saw Rey standing defiantly at the door of the Millennium Falcon, looking at him with a reproachful gaze filled with contempt. Before he could try to reach her, she closed the door without looking back at him and fled. He had seen Han Solo do the same countless times…

Within seconds, he was a small boy again, with fluffy, uncontrollable, curly black locks looking up at his father with his big watery eyes asking him, “Why are you leaving, Dad?”…only for Han Solo to look down at him, his usual smirk on his face but never answering the question, before sailing off into yet another adventure  without him  – and it all seemed so vivid and real that he had woken up screaming, drenched in sweat and with tears in his eyes.

“Then so be it,” Hux responded decidedly, startling the new Supreme Leader from his ruminations. “Officer, send the message to every system under our control with the order to retransmit it to all local planets. Make sure it gets to the Western Regions and Outer Rim systems’ transmissions signals.”

 

                                                                                                            ***

 

“You have to build a new cycling field energizer in the blade if you want it to work; it’s not going to be an easy task,” declared Rose, as she analyzed every component of the broken lightsaber. “And you’ll need another focusing crystal, too.”

Rey sighed, looking at the broken blade. “You’re right. I’ll also need a new energy modulation circuit since this one is visibly of no use anymore.” They were sitting between tons of mechanicals circuits and components in a dimly lit room with bright desk lights positioned above the saber for better viewing.

After their arrival on Akiva, Rose had fortunately survived her injuries. She still had a bandage on the bridge of her nose, but she actually looked quite cute with it. At first, Rey had been cautious with her about Finn. She had understood the minute she had stepped onto the Falcon that Finn and Rose had become close. She hated herself, but she had thought at that precise moment of how it would have been if Ben had joined her. Of how things could have been between them. She willed the thought out of her mind after they had arrived and focused on other things, more important things.

Finn was the first friend she had ever had. She wanted to be there for him as he had been for her on Starkiller base.  He  had come back for her. Part of her goal had been to make Rose understand that she was no threat to her relationship with Finn. Once Rose understood that, she and Rose had become closer. They discovered they shared a mutual love for mechanical projects and nerdy talks about droids and engines. Apart from being such a positive person – which she desperately needed these days - Rose was a mechanic's bible and knew so many details, all the things that Rey herself had only learned through practice over years and years of scavenging on Jakku. Rose was now helping her find a way to build the blue lightsaber again. She knew all too well that at one point she would absolutely need to defend herself again using the ways of the Force.

“I had only seen functional plans of lightsabers before; it’s such an amazing piece of engineering. Who actually invented these things?” asked an amazed Rose of her new friend, who was lost for an answer.

“Eh, um, you know…” Rey looked lost for words. “Ugh, I think I’m a terrible Jedi student. I have absolutely no idea! The only thing I know is that it works!”

Rose looked at her between bewilderment and awe. She regarded Rey as a relic of an ancient religion she had believed in all her life. The Force. The Jedi. It was all real. Rey was a Jedi. To her, she was even more of a hero than Finn, if that was possible. But hearing Rey’s confused answer made them both crack up, and they laughed lightheartedly. It felt so good to laugh. It had been so long – longer than Rey could even remember.

But the laughter was shorter than expected. Poe smashed through the door, making both of them jump in surprise. “Force sake, Poe!” they both exclaimed to the handsome pilot.

“No time for heart attacks, ladies. General Leia sent me to fetch you at once. We have a situation,” said an alarmed Poe. Rey and Rose got to their feet and followed him in Akiva’s corridors to the principal command room. Poe was always careful to let Rey pass before him, and his attitude and manners toward her unsettled her. She didn't know quite what to think of it. But for now, she would think about it later.

“General, we're here,” Poe told Leia, who looked at them with a concerned look on her face.

“We have intercepted a message from the First Order,” started Leia at once. “My s--em, Kylo Ren, is now the Supreme Leader.” She trailed off, visibly shaken, looking at Rey as if she were looking for answers. “I, I think it’s better to just watch the video transmission.” She activated the Holopad. Ben -  scratch that  - Kylo Ren’s full holo face appeared before them - and Rey let out a small gasp at the mere sight of him.

“This is an important message for all Star Systems in the galaxy. Our Supreme Leader Snoke has been killed in a highly orchestrated ambush attack.”

Rey’s mind raced at those words– an ambush attack? What-  -

“I have now ascended to be our Order’s Supreme Commander, and I will not be impressed by pitiful Rebellion forces. I will give a large reward for the capture of three live individuals in order to bring them to a trial that will decide of their proper punishment, before the eyes of the entire galaxy. However..." his voice trailed, "should we fail to locate these individuals, more Star Systems will suffer from our wrath, as did the late Republic.” His eyes were cold and threatening. “We are looking for two women and a man,” Kylo said as he stepped aside, revealing another holo...

“Her” – a giant holo of Rey's face appeared behind Kylo, who pointed a finger at her, and Rey’s heart nearly stopped. It was a holo taken of her face in Snoke’s throne room.

“Him” – and Rey’s holo shifted to one of Finn, dressed as a First Order officer -

“And finally, her,” stated Kylo as the picture changed to Rose, also dressed in First Order uniform. He added, before disappearing with a menacing dark tone, “If you have their location, you  will  bring them to us. You have been warned.”

The whole room felt dead silent. The only sound came from Leia, who fell on a chair beside her with a gasp, sweating, a pained expression in her eyes.

“General, are you – “asked Poe, before Leia cut him off.

 “I’m ok, Poe, I’m ok…”

But Rey knew. She was clearly not. She had seen her son for the first time in years – her son as Supreme Leader, kriff, her son, menacing to destroy the entire galaxy. It had shaken her to the bone.

Finn was the first one to break the terrible atmosphere. “He’s put a bounty on our heads. He’s going to destroy other Star Systems if we don’t surrender.”

But Rey’s thoughts were heading in a totally different direction. Why had Kylo said there was an orchestrated ambush? Why did he want all of them and - alive? That sounded so unlike him -

Rose’s shaken voice made her come back to reality. “What I don’t understand is…I mean, Rey, why is your head on these holos? Were you on the Supremacy?” Rey looked up at once. Everyone was watching her. Rose asked because she knew the lightsaber was broken. It didn’t take long for her to ask herself exactly how it had been broken.

Rey hadn’t told anyone about what had happened, telling herself it was better to keep it a secret. “I- I have no idea. I don’t understand any of this.” She was a terrible liar, but if they learned that she had tried to turn Ben back to the Light, at best they would think it was a terribly foolish idea – that mass murderer would  never  redeem himself - and at worst, they would think maybe she was some sort of traitor. All she had wanted was to save them, and she had succeeded. She didn’t want them to change their opinion about that anytime soon.

As if on cue, Leia, who was still seated, spoke up. “It doesn’t matter how he got it. He may have more political skills than I had previously thought. This is a clever move...” Leia trailed off before settling herself and saying, in a more decided tone, “He may be lying. It may be a plot. Maybe Snoke is still alive and they are using this as an excuse to blackmail the whole galaxy because he couldn’t destroy us on Crait, and he is tightening his grip on us. One thing is sure: we desperately need to gather our strength and be more aware and wary than ever, especially  you three,” she added, eyeing Finn, Rose, and lastly, Rey.

Rey swallowed. Was it her imagination, or did she see in Leia's eyes a flicker of warning that was addressed in a totally different fashion toward her?

Everyone nodded at Leia's statement. After all, they knew she had spent a lifetime battling political crisis, surviving assassination attempts, and fleeing from the clutches of the Empire. She had even survived the destruction of the Resistance’s crusader bridge attack, although no one truly understood how she had managed such a miracle. But the truth was, all the remaining Resistance crew relied on her for their own survival. They were the last spark of the Resistance and the last hope for liberty in the galaxy.

After a long pause, Leia stood up. “I have an idea. But I need to find an old friend. And I will need a bodyguard,” she said, looking directly at Rey, who understood right away what the general was asking  her. She nodded in agreement, trying to hide her inner turmoil. She didn’t know which was worse, to see Ben’s face once again, or if her friends started to suspect what she had really been doing before her arrival on Crait.

 

                                                                                                             ***

 

Meanwhile, aboard the Finalizer , General Hux was behaving particularly strangely, glancing behind him every other minute to check that he wasn’t being followed.

The truth was, he was walking toward the Holo database system and was being careful not to raise any suspicion as to where he was heading.

Since childhood, he had followed his sixth sense, which had never failed him in important events, and it was because of this he had attained his current position within the First Order, plotting and making allies where he most needed them. He just knew something was not right the moment he had encountered Ren knocked out in the middle of the dead Praetorian Guards, Snoke’s body cut in half, and the girl missing.

How could a  single girl  have killed the Supreme Leader and taken down eight Praetorian Guards and Ren at the same time, who, he had to admit despite his  hatred  of the man, was particularly gifted with the Force and displayed such violence in single combat? He had suffered the consequences of that strength more than he would care to admit. When he had seen Ren’s message and the holo of the girl, he had made a mental note to investigate as soon as possible.

Arriving at the database system, he unlocked the door using a subordinate's code and then locked the door behind him, turning the lights on. The long, black corridor-like room was different than the other Finalizer ’s command chambers, and millions of holos were stored in the computer that reached each side of the high ceiling room. All of the First Order’s information was stored here, and they had copies in other locations, just in case the ship was destroyed. Hux sat down on a black leather chair and started his investigation.

After some time, he finally found the throne room holos of the Supremacy, only to find out that it was missing a huge chunk of it. Someone had tampered with the recordings . It could only be Ren. But how? It was impossible.  No one could delete the files because he had personally made sure that all recordings were kept. Information was crucial to the survival of the First Order and its security, and he had designed this with his computer engineers precisely so this would never occur. So the files had to be somewhere, only they had been removed from the Holo databank system on the Finalizer. Damn him. I will find out, if that’s the last thing I ever do, he said to himself, slamming a fist on the computer. But it only confirmed his suspicion: something had happened in the throne room, and Ren was lying.

 

                                                                                                            ***

 

Back on Akiva, Rey was busy preparing to accompany Leia on her mission to find her old friend. She had said he could be crucial in helping to revive the Resistance. She had insisted she go herself and not send someone else, as her presence was absolutely essential to the mission. Rey then knew what was at stake and felt incredibly aware of her responsibility in ensuring her safety.

However, something else was also on her mind…and her thoughts drifted back to the earlier meeting…

...

...

Rey, I need a word with you.” The general had put a hand on her shoulder to keep her from leaving the meeting room as quickly as she could. Rey had tensed immediately, sensing what was to come, but all the same had turned around to face Leia. She was waiting until everyone else had cleared the room and they were left alone.

“Don’t think I did that to just let you slip out of here. Am I going to have to give you the talk? What happened Rey? I need to know. We all do,” she had told her with pleading eyes.

Rey had looked at the ground as if she were being scolded like a child. Her eyes were dangerously close to letting tears fall, and she had a lump in her throat that made her voice tremble. “Gener…Leia," she corrected herself, after the former Princess eyed her. “I - I'm so sorry. I can’t…it’s too…”

She was so scared of telling the truth, of being judged, of being hurt. She closed her eyes, and tears slipped down her face until she felt a warm embrace. She opened her eyes to find herself in Leia’s arms, and she hugged her back.

“I know all about loss, my child.”

At those words, Rey had broken down in sobs. Everything came down to that. Loss. For the parents she had lost all over again. Losing a future she had so eagerly envisioned. Losing a bond she thought would never come back. Her own failures and dashed hopes. She had felt so lonely all her life, and Ben had filled her heart with the sense that he would be there for her, that he would come back, that she wouldn’t be alone in the end. She finally allowed herself to cry bitterly for the loss of everything she had craved.

At that precise moment, her heart had felt like lead, and she had had a strange feeling that her pain didn't belong only to her but also to someone else...and it felt so heavy it hurt in her chest -

“All I ask is that you tell me before we come back to Akiva,” Leia had added, and Rey had looked into her eyes. The eyes of a mother. Between sobs, she had agreed. She had known then that she had to find the strength to compose herself so she would not speak the dreaded truth during their trip.

...

...

A voice snapped her out of the memory. “Rey, are you ready?” asked a freshly changed Leia, unrecognizable behind the makeup that was meant to disguise her as well as  the long grayish-midnight blue scarf that was neatly fashioned to cover her head and half of her face. She looked so perfect, as usual.

“Yes, let’s do this,” she replied, confident that this time she would not fail in her mission.

 

Chapter Text

Rey wasn't sure what bothered her most. Was it the white enameled mask, enhanced by a deep-blue stylish pattern over the eyes, which covered her face to hide her identity? Or was it the fact that was without her lightsaber, on a highly dangerous mission with none other than the only surviving leader of the Resistance? Worse, she had an uneasy feeling that she would need one. Not that she didn't know how to defend herself with her staff, but protecting someone else's life was a totally different matter.

She was aboard the Millennium Falcon next to Chewie, who had insisted on being part of the journey. After all, the Falcon was his only true home. The Falcon was the only valuable ship that the Resistance still had at hand since the Akivian remaining ships could never match it in speed and maneuverability. It was part of Leia's plan to rebuild their fleet, she had told Rey, although she hadn't mentioned who exactly the person was that she was looking for. However, her eyes seemed to get unfocused as if in a daydream whenever she mentioned him. It hadn't been lost on Rey that this person was a man .

But Rey also had other plans for the trip. She had managed to convince Leia to take a small detour and stop at the Ring of Kafrene, since it was one of the deep space trading outposts where she could find all the components to mend the broken lightsaber. Repairing it and enhancing its features was one of her top priorities. Rose had told her that one could find anything on Kafrene, as its asteroid belt was rich in rare minerals and materials. But the place was packed with dealers, possible spies, and bounty hunters; thus, she needed to think about a way to disguise her identity. The mask was therefore essential to go undercover, although she had a hard time getting used to it. 

Chewie growled something that would be unintelligible to half of the galaxy’s inhabitants, but Rey picked it up right away: “Here we are. General, please brace yourself, we are coming out of lightspeed,” she said as the Falcon suddenly materialized into the star-dotted blackness of space.

They flew into one of the Ring of Kafrene's illuminated ports, and Rey got to her feet. "General, I will go alone with Chewie. It's safer for you to stay here."

“For the millionth time Rey, don’t call me General. Please proceed, and be careful - this place is gloomier and shabbier than I remembered,” responded the former princess.

                                                                                                            ***

Back on the Finalizer , General Hux was sitting down in his chambers, overlooking the Stormtrooper Program Report which had just been delivered. His nose crinkled more and more as he was reading it, and his jaw clenched tightly. It was lacking important modifications he had suggested to their new Supreme Commander. They had been thoroughly neglected and ignored. He was about to go and confront the fool for deliberately opposing all of his tactical decisions, but a buzz from the command bridge interrupted him -

“Sir, we have an upcoming message from Scarif. They are sending a receipt confirmation to the Supreme Leader, but we have failed to locate him at the moment. Shall we proceed to receive the confirmation code?”

It took Hux a minute to process what the officer was telling him. A receipt confirmation? For the Supreme Leader? A Code?

There is was. How he had managed to do it? He had sent the holos to Scarif?! The Scarif data center had been rebuilt by the Empire after the battle that destroyed the communication transmitter many years ago. This occurred after some rebel scum had stolen the first Death Star plans, and the First Order had seized the planet and used it for its own storage system. By some lucky twist of fate, the information that was being transferred there had routed to him instead of going directly to Kylo Ren.

"I'll be there right away. Do not do anything until I arrive. And do not bother the Supreme Leader with such futile administrative trivia; I will take care of this myself," responded Hux with a jolt, jumping to his feet and running out of his quarters, his heart racing. It was going to be a good day after all.

                                                                                                              ***

“Ok, Chewie, I think I’ve got most of what I was looking for. Let’s get out of this horrible place,” declared Rey, her voice slightly muffled from beneath her mask.

They were walking through the massively crowded streets of Kafrene, and Rey was trying to avoid bumping into anyone, which was proving to be a rather difficult task.

But all of a sudden, a strange, familiar serpentine sound drew her attention, and she stopped dead in the middle of the street. A huge, half-alien, half-robot figure nearly crashed into her and started insulting her in a strange language. But Rey didn't even register the incident.  instead, focusing her attention on the sound. Ignoring Chewie's howls, she walked directly to where it came from. A cloaked figure was standing there, and she couldn’t see the stranger’s face. She approached him. The sound was more and more intense. She recognized it at once; it was the hum of the Force - the same sound that had drawn her to the chest back on Takodana, the same sound that had drawn her to the Force Tree on Ahch-To. She tried to decipher what exactly what was underneath the cloak, but the figure spoke to her first. The rough, cold voice instantly froze her bloodstream.

“What are you seeking, young woman?”

“I don’t know. It’s calling me,” Rey replied curtly, trying to prevent her voice from shaking.

“Calling you, you say? Force-sensitive, neh? A rather rare specimen nowadays,” said the voice under the cloak. “Come with me; I have what you seek.”

Before she knew it, Rey’s feet were following the cloaked figure into a narrow and dark alley. The stranger then stopped and took a small wooden box from underneath his cloak, and she could then see his hand - an alien blue hand. She glanced at him and got a glimpse of who was underneath the black robes. It was most surely a Twi’lek and, furthermore, the figure seemingly presented two circular forms on top of his head. Judging by his demeanor, he was up to no good in this forsaken place. “It can be yours. But you will have to pay for it,” he told her greedily, presenting the box to her.

Rey took it. Before she even opened it, she knew--

It was elegantly resting on a piece of black fabric.

A blue Kyber Crystal.

It was glowing and whispering to her.

She was so fascinated she didn’t think - and her hand lifted her mask up to take a better look at it -

“You!" cried the stranger in surprise. Thanks to years of survival instincts developed on Jakku, Rey reacted instantly before he had time to stun her with a device he had quickly taken out of his cloak. She bared her teeth and disarmed him with the Force, taking her own blaster out, ready to kill, but she missed. He dodged the blow and rolled onto the floor, making several turns at once and retrieving a blaster from his robes.

Clenching to the box, Rey ran for her life out of the alley as green shots narrowly missed her by inches. Before she knew it, Chewie, who had witnessed everything, was in front of her, taking aim at the stranger.

“Chewie don’t - run, run!" she yelled at him, while they both dashed into the crowded street, bumping, pushing and ducking their way through the merchants, dealers, and creatures back to the Falcon.

The cloaked figure didn't try to chase them. Instead, he retrieved a communication device which looked strangely like a lollipop and spat, "The girl the First Order is looking for - she is heading with a Wookie toward the spaceport. Stop them!”

                                                                                                                  ***

On the other end of the galaxy, Kylo Ren came to a dead stop. He was in the middle of intense training, the red glow of his lightsaber crackling next to him. Sweat was dripping down his black sleeveless shirt, muscular arms, and whole face. He had given the order that no one should bother him and had been training for six hours straight, trying to push himself to his limit, anything not to think of … her .

But then, he heard it, the sound. The Force opened their connection at once -

Rey was in danger.

He quickly turned around, and there she was, running in the distance - but she didn’t see him. She was facing someone, something - he didn’t quite know-

“Stop these two!” “Mark that ship!” yelled stormtrooper voices out of nowhere.

“Chewie, get in, I’ll stop them!” Rey shrieked as she aimed her blaster. One trooper was about to shoot right at her -

Acting on pure instinct, Kylo lifted his arm toward her enemy and yelled.

“Stop him!” Ben’s voice echoed in Rey’s mind -

She didn’t think - she didn’t know why , she just raised her other hand as she had seen him do to her on Takodana, the first time she had ever met him -

She froze the trooper -

She didn’t have time to process it; she turned around toward the Falcon, and then her eyes went directly to his - he was standing there, a flabbergasted expression on his features, with his unforgettable flaming lightsaber, his arm still lifted and pointed at  her. But she didn’t have time to chat; she just dashed into the ship. However, she did have time to register the fact that his arms were bare again -

“Chewie, punch it!!" she shouted. She heard a loud thumping sound of something hitting the rising ship before it had time to take flight.

Kylo only had time to watch her disappearing form within the doorway - and she was gone.

He fell to his knees, switching his lightsaber off as air came back to his lungs - when had he stopped breathing? He looked haphazardly around him. His heart was racing.

Rey…What happened?

                                                                                                           ***

“Rey, what happened?” “Chewie, hit lightspeed as fast as you can to Riosa” shrieked Leia inconsistently, as she ran toward Rey who had discarded her mask and was leaning against the Falcon’s wall, her gaze totally lost. She was completely out of breath and searching for air.

"Sit down" commanded Leia, as she took the young woman's shoulders and lead showed her toward the chessboard seat. "Here, have some water" Rey took the glass that was presented to her and drank it down in a gulp.

Ben… ” Rey whispered, closing her eyes.

The bond. It had re-opened for a brief moment. She had heard his voice in her own head. She used his technique. Kriff, she even saw him  for a few brief secondsv- his dark eyes shooting right back at her, and that gaze was enough to make her heart pump harder than ever. The bond was back.

“Ben? Force sake Rey, what are you talking about?” Leia frowned, standing over her and not understanding anything of what was happening.

Rey breathed heavily for a few seconds and then looked up at her. “Leia, I, I have something to tell you…”

                                                                                                            *

“My son…” Leia’s voice broke off as she closed her eyes. She couldn’t voice anything out from mere shock - Luke, Snoke, the Bond, everything… it was too much to process. Her head was going to explode.

“My son…” she opened them again, her head rising to meet Rey’s gaze “Offered his hand to you…?” she slowly managed to ask as if she needed confirmation of what she had just heard and her mouth was still half-opened in awe.

“I…I don’t know if you could phrase it that way…” Rey replied at once, mortified. She felt her cheeks redden by the minute and soon, the ardor was so intense she knew she had turned scarlet. She looked down and starting fumbling with her hands.

“Rey, offering someone, with a hand stretched out, to rule the galaxy together looks dangerously close to a marriage proposal to me” she retorted quickly. “ Kriff , I wished Han would have done that ” she chuckled out genuinely, obviously remembering how that part of their relationship had gone between them.

Rey’s lips curled up slightly at that, but she didn’t dare to look back at her, vivid with her logic. She had pointedly refused to consider it that way - she wasn’t ready for the consequences of what all this meant.

“I couldn’t accept it, Leia, I can’t follow him on that path - destruction, violence, ruling the galaxy with an iron fist. I want to build, to create. To construct in the Light.”

But, yes, she had hesitated. It was not lost on her that Ben had begged her, and his pleading eyes had tormented her ever since. She was mad at him at first - or was she mad at herself? - but that feeling ebbed as the days past.

"And Luke…" Leia's voice snapped her out of her reverie. "I didn't know. Luke never told me. How could I ever make amends to Ben for sending him to his uncle, after this ?” she was talking more to herself about than anything else.

"Luke had an instant of hesitation, he got scared…and he felt so ashamed it drove him into exile. This is why he was on Ahch-To." Rey recalled the memory of the Jedi Master, and how Ben had shown him his version of it, the terror he had felt, the betrayal, and how Snoke's decades' long brainwashing unleashed his dark powers free at last.

“We all failed him. Han, Luke, Me. His mother . How could I ever forgive myself?" Leia whispered, clenching her eyes, despair flowing through her torn-apart features. "I've lost him forever," she said as she put her hands over her face. Rey came closer to her and laid an arm on her back, embracing her, while her other one took Leia's hand off her face, revealing tears dropping down her cheek. Rey's heart sank - she had never seen her cry and was on the verge of crying herself.

“Don’t...please...Leia, I saw him, just now, as solid as I see you. I have no idea why, but he helped me escape the Stormtroopers” Rey said, trying to comfort her.

The Princess looked straight up at her, a small glimpse of hope illuminating her face. “What? Now? Through the Force bond?

“Yes. I can’t explain, really... But I used one of his techniques - em, well, I can’t quite figure if it was me or him, actually…but why would he help me giving the present circumstances?” Rey’s voice trailed off… “Deep down… I, I think there is still hope for him…But no one can save him, he can only save himself.”

“But you can show him the way, Rey. He killed Snoke. He chose you over his master-” insisted Leia, but Rey cut her off, decidedly “- Leia, I failed miserably to turn him - I won’t make the same mistake again.”

To that, Leia looked down again and they both fell silent for long moments, their hands intertwined, before Leia rose and glanced back at the young Jedi apprentice, her eyes filled with a mix of pain and resignation.

“Of course, you have to follow your heart. But remember: Love will always be the answer. It is, unfortunately, something I understood too late in my own life…" She glanced at the Falcon's cockpit "Meanwhile, we have a mission to complete." Rey couldn't help admiring her. The Princess was utterly devastated but still thought about how to get the Resistance back on its feet, still thought about others before herself. Rey nodded and they both set course to help Chewie out. 

                                                                                                                ***

Meanwhile, it was Hux’s day of glory. Not only had he intercepted the code for Kylo Ren’s secret holos on Scarif, but an officer had come to him personally to explain that they had located the girl on the Ring of Kafrene and that a tracker had been placed on the ship she was flying - the description matched the freighter they had seen on Crait.

Hux had listened to the information very cautiously, asking at once if the Supreme Leader had been informed of this. Since it appeared that he wasn’t, Hux had taken advantage and did not divulge the information until the morning, giving himself time to plot. He strongly disagreed with their Supreme Leader on setting a trial, but more than that, he wanted to corner Kylo Ren like a cat; he wanted to see his reaction. If he flatly refused to kill the girl when the moment presented itself - after all, she was supposed to have killed Snoke - that would be the perfect excuse to overthrow him. The trial was only a stall tactic,  he felt, and it was not lost on him that Kylo Ren had reacted strangely.. Something was going on.

He had therefore summoned some of the deadliest bounty hunters known throughout the galaxy for their efficiency. Since he knew the girl was strong with the Force, Hux had taken the precaution of not meeting these murderers on the Finalizer to avoid arising suspicion from his new boss.

He was now in a small shuttle, dispatched only for a quick meeting.

"You will seek this woman on Riosa,” he stated, as he showed Rey's holos to the hunters. "She is flying a Corellian YT-1300f light freighter called  ‘The Millennium Falcon' - a fast ship, equipped with laser cannons. Once you have located her, she has to be killed but only on my strict orders. I cannot emphasize this particular point enough," he said, with a cold, venomous glance. "I warn you: this woman is Force-sensitive and has killed our former Supreme Leader Snoke as well as bested our current one, Kylo Ren, in single combat. She must not be underestimated.”

The bounties glanced at each other uncomfortably from under their masks. “Force-sensitive?" asked one of them, who was hidden in grayish-reinforced armor. "Can she wield a lightsaber?"

“I am afraid she does - even if I cannot guarantee this information,” replied Hux, as he straightened himself and braced his arms behind him.

“If she does - the reward will have to be at least doubled. Force wielders are the most complex individuals to kill,” stated the bounty hunter. There was no bargaining. If Hux refused, there was no deal.

“If you succeed, your price will be met,” answered Hux with no hesitation.

                                                                                                                   ***

Oblivious of Hux's deadly plans, Rey, Leia, and Chewie had hidden The Millenium Falcon within the forests of Riosa, away from spaceports and possible spies after what had occurred on the Ring of Kafrene.

Leia and Chewie were asleep in their respective bunks. They had decided to go looking for their ally at dawn in order to get some well-deserved rest. But Morpheus had plainly decided not to visit Rey that night.

Storing away the wooden box where she was keeping the Kyber Crystal, Rey decided to go for a quick stroll. It was summer on this part of Riosa, but it wasn't the type of damp, humid heat she had encountered on Akiva which made her so uncomfortable. The air was warm but dry, and Rey only needed to wear a large, white sheer cotton shirt with short sleeves that loosely covered her shoulders. She didn’t bother putting anything else on but her boots and exited the ship.

There was a clearing next to the Falcon where the grass was high. The sound of her feet slowly crushing the greenish plants made her skin tingle, and the wind moving through the tree leaves sang in her ears. It carried a fresh scent of wood and earth that filled her nose with its delicate perfume. Walking through the field, she looked up at the two white moons that shone in Riosa's sky and contemplated them for a while. She felt so at peace. 

But she was abruptly disturbed by a familiar sound. The Force called and was rippling around her with its characteristic noise…

She heard him before she could even see him.

“I swear, the Force has the worst timing" Kylo's voice echoed behind her and she turned quickly to see him -

And gasped out loudly - covering her mouth with both hands as her feet jolted backward in shock -

He was lying down on what seemed to be some sort of bed - completely naked, and his pale creamy skin was drenched in sweat.

But that wasn’t half the problem. The main one was his legs were parted and he was holding his throbbing cock in his right hand, stroking it softly as he looked directly at her.

“What are you doing ?” Rey cried out innocently from underneath her hands, flushing red with a mortified look on her face.

“Thinking of you,” he blatantly confessed.

Rey didn't know she could blush so furiously . Because of her own prudishness, she just couldn’t watch , and she instantly turned her head to the side, closing her eyes in embarrassment. She had never seen a naked man, let alone one who was touching himself . His body was the incarnation of male perfection, and her stomach did flip-flops at his magnificent physique.

“Look at me…” he pleaded, and then, slowly, she dared to glance back at him, peering to the side - much more intrigued than she would ever care to admit.

“See, this is what you do to me,” he said with blunt honesty, “I don’t know what I want to do to you, kill you or bend you over and fuck your brains out,” he continued, his hand stroking his cock a bit faster, his cheeks reddening with desire and his lusty eyes never leaving hers.

Rey just stared at him. She was at a loss for words, one hand still over her mouth and another arm embracing her body, trying to keep herself from shivering. Seeing him like this, listening to what he wanted to do to her , his powerful, muscular frame gleaming with sweat, his dark eyes devouring her awoke something unknown within her, and all of a sudden she felt an unfamiliar warmth between her legs.

“You’re wet down there, aren’t you? I can feel it.” He closed his eyes for a brief moment, and his hips made a slight movement, thrusting upward, his hand grasping his manhood faster - and it was enough to turn Rey on even more.

“Look at you… those creamy shoulders, those pert breasts,” he continued, eyeing her through her way too transparent white shirt. “I want to lick you all over and spread those long legs of yours, slide my cock into you, and give you pleasure until you scream my name,” he said shamelessly, while panting and rubbing the tip of his cock.

It was impossible for her to tear her eyes off him, his rough maleness was utterly intoxicating.

“I know you want this,” he murmured to her, and she felt her core getting wetter by the minute.

“Say it…say it,” his low voice insisted, his hand stroking his cock faster now, his eyes betraying his ardent, burning desire. She could feel he was about to come apart.

Rey couldn't help it; she let out a whimper and bit her lower lip, hugging herself and crossing her legs in a desperate attempt to control the ache between her thighs..

As if answering her body language, he moaned softly, and she felt an urge of pleasure so intense she knew it didn’t belong to her. His eyes shut tight, and he rolled his head upward, letting out a low, raw growl while he jerked off, threads of white cum covering his chest.

And then he disappeared.

Rey was left alone, hot and bothered, her whole body aching for him. She tentatively touched herself between her legs, and her fingers only found dampness. She couldn’t believe what had just happened. She stayed there for a very long time, trying to calm down, her core still wet with the memory of his lusty eyes, his contorted, reddened face during his orgasm, not knowing what to think about anything that had just occurred between them.

One thing was sure. Had she doubted it before, now there was no possible denial.

She was dangerously attracted to him.



Chapter Text

Kylo opened his eyes and cracked his neck. His whole body was feeling cranky, as if he had the worst hangover ever, but the truth was he hadn't slept so well in weeks, and his whole body was still numb from the previous night. He rose from the bed, threw off the sheets and stood by the edge of it, rubbing his eyes. He was still completely naked.

Then, he remembered.

The Force had connected them again, and this time, there had been no possibility of hiding. He had been caught in fraganti in the middle of his personal pleasures by none other than the object of his wildest fantasies. But it had been so worth it, so self-satisfying. To provoke her. To see her whimper and shiver with need. He had never felt so aroused in his entire life. He had felt it - her lust growing as she watched him, unable to utter a word, crossing her legs, struggling with her own aching need. What had she done after that? Where was she now? 

A protocol droid interrupted him by buzzing at his chamber door. Sensing it was only his personal assistant droid, he opened it with a flick of his hand.

"Sir, I am afraid I must remind you that you are scheduled for a meeting in exactly one hour," said the mechanical voice. Kylo replied while yawning and stretching his arms.

“Right. Bring me something to eat will you?” He was starving.

He went to the bathroom, which boasted a large mirror on a black wall. Kylo gazed at his reflection, all of a sudden oddly self-aware of his own features. Surely he wasn’t that bad looking, was he? Although his nose was prominent, his dark eyes and pitch-black hair were rather good looking - although, at the moment, his hair was sticking out in odd spikes after his night's sleep, and he tried to flatten it down at once. He had let it grow only because he had been mocked by his fellow students at Luke's Jedi Temple for years because of his large ears. The memory itself pinched his heart and he grunted. His heavy training only had built his body into a war-machine, and he knew, at last for that part, that it could draw a woman's attention…

Last night she had clearly been attracted to him. At last he had confirmation of his hopes, and he couldn't deny that she had taken up permanent residence in his brain. Him, the Master of the Knights of Ren. The cold, heartless Jedi Killer, pleading with her to join him. How could he? What was it about her that awakened his dormant carnal needs?

He then focused on his scar, which split his right cheek in two and continued below his neck and torso. He grunted again. After all, she was the one who had scarred him - a daily reminder of his defeat. That night, on Starkiller base, she had shone like the Moon in the night, dreadful and frightening, beautiful and fearless, towering over him as he laid wounded in the snow. There had been something tantalizing about this vision of her - something he had not been able to shake out until now. Him, the heir of Lord Vader, the heir of the Jedi and the Sith, defeated by a nobody. She had marked him forever as her equal in the Force.

He splashed some water over his face, the coolness of it fully awakening him.

 

                                                                                                              ***

 

"Can you see him?" Rey whispered to Leia. They were both lying flat on the ground to avoid detection. Small green bushes loosely covered both of them.

Sticking with Leia the whole day had been an unspeakable torture. She had fought the general's quizzical glances all day, and she had found herself almost choking on her morning breakfast when the princess had asked her how she had slept. Rey had tried to keep to herself the lingering images of Leia’s naked son blurting out everything he wanted to do to her. She was all too aware that Leia not only was Force-sensitive, but she could also decipher others' thoughts as if she had been gifted with mind-reading ability. Fear kicked in that she would find out about not only what had occurred between them in the middle of the night, but far worse, her dreams of herself sweating and moaning beneath Ben's heated body, betraying her desires. By a miracle Leia had only blinked and shrugged, changing the focus of the conversation to finding her old ally.

They were above a cliff overlooking a huge crater which was an immense mining field where dozens of workers could be seen extracting precious metals. The main problem seemed to be the stormtroopers stationed in various places on the facility. The First Order had visibly taken a grip on the planet and was carrying away immense quantities of raw material.

Leia eyed the scenery with a pair of laser binoculars, trying to evaluate the situation. Earlier that day, a vital informant had tipped them off that her friend was in charge of this mining company and had gotten into serious problems with the First Order trying to protect his people from the Order's brutal and violent ways. He had even entered into a personal duel with a First Order officer and won, which had earned him even more respect from the Riosians, although he had been severely punished for his offense afterward.

“I’m searching…but I can’t see him anywhere,” Leia answered in a low voice, before gasping and grasping the binoculars a bit harder. “Oh no, wait, here he is!”

“Really? Where?” replied Rey, trying to see where the binoculars were aiming at.

“Right there.” Leia passed her the laser lenses and pointed downward. “He seems to be giving instructions to this droid over there - see, the shiny silver one.”

Rey focused the binoculars on the figure, which revealed a tall man - a tall handsome man. He looked to be in his late thirties, and there was something very regal about him. Now she was beginning to understand why Leia always seemed to get lost in her own memories whenever she thought about him. 

“That’s him?” inquired the younger women with an incredulous tone.

“Sure is,” responded the former senator with a smile on her face, sighing.. “He hasn’t changed much in all these years. His name is Ransolm Casterfoe.” Rey lowered the binoculars to focus as Leia continued. “He used to be part of the Senate with me. Huge connections. Knows half the galaxy - and he’s courageous. Exactly what we need in these desperate hours. I half to admit I was worried. He had been sentenced to death here on Riosa after a plot against him in the Senate, but I had assumed he wouldn’t let himself be killed without a fight. I see my intuition was right.”

“Ok…so, now what?” Rey cut in, aiming the binoculars once again down into the crater. “This place is packed with stormtroopers, so we can’t risk just walking in there.”

“We’ll have to wait until dusk and sneak into the main building,” Leia responded. “I have an idea. We’re going to need Chewie.”

 

                                                                                                             ***

 

His black leather cape billowing behind him, Kylo Ren walked with swift strides down the Finalizer’s corridors, decision and seriousness written on his face. He arrived at the meeting room and entered it without hesitation before stopping to consider his audience.

Five men and a woman were seated at a round table, their masks and helmets placed in an orderly fashion next to them. Their military black boots, their black thick clothes with distinctive fighting armors and imposing weapons hanging fromtheir belts commanded respect, ye, they all rose to their feet at Kylo's entrancet.

The six Knights of Ren stared at their leader, his dark eyes scanning each and every one of them.

Jaryn and Jendi Ren, aka "The Heavy" and "The Sniper," were in their late twenties. They were fraternal twins. One was brown-haired and broad-shouldered, the other had ash blond hair and a slim, almost elegant frame. One was impulsive while the other was composed. They used different weapons when fighting, one relying on his brutal strength while the other preferred more sophisticated methods and was the finest sniper of the group.

Sitting next to Jaryn was Aslik Ren, aka "The Armory," whose tactics in battle counted on a multitude of weaponry. His dark robes were filled with secret pockets and deadly weapons. He was a docile and loyal knight as well as a fine strategist.

Across him sat Gadreel Ren, aka "The Slicer," who wore a distinctive black beard. His name fit him because of the huge axe he always carried with him - and there was something terrifying about his dark, obsidian features. Kylo Ren always had a complicated relationship with him since he was disobedient, fierce, and proud.

The last man in the room, Keido Ren, aka "The Monk," was the oldest of the six knights and the wisest, his distinctive Samurai-caped outfit giving him the appearance of a dark cloaked monk.  Unlike Kylo Ren's violent outbursts, his strength was reason, and he liked to torture his victims with complicated and sophisticated riddles.

At last, the deadliest and wittiest of them all was Vrieska Ren, aka "The Rogue," a surname befitting her eternal love of freedom, as she often made decisions on her own. The woman wore tight, form-fitting robes and a long coat, although these never betrayed her gender. Enemies would swallow heavily whenever her mask came off - there was a strange, femme-fatale beauty to her. Her dark skin contrasted with her almond-shaped, crystal-blue eyes. Her long hair was pitch black. She wore it gathered as a single bun on top of her head. Vrieska had known Kylo Ren from a young age, back when he went by Ben Solo, and had always thought highly of him. He was, after all, the heir of Darth Vader himself,  and she had acknowledged having a soft spot for the man. But since he was too immersed in training and mastering the Dark Side to pay any attention to her, she had abandoned the idea long ago. Jendi, the second of the twins, had secretly loved her and pursued her for years, in vain. She was a free spirit - and a daunting killer .

Kylo had earned the title of Master of Ren after defeating all of these fine warriors in single combat. He was by far the most skilled of them all,  although the most unstable - and the knights respected and feared him at the same time. This had earned him the right to use a lightsaber, which he quickly constructed. The remaining six preferred less sophisticated but nonetheless deadly weapons.

At last, Kylo broke the solemn moment. “It has been a long time. Let us sit,” he stated, as he himself went for the biggest armchair in the room while the others sat back again. Kylo sat ceremoniously and then rested his elbows on the table and clasped his hands under his chin, peering at his knights once again.

“Skywalker is dead,” he stated with a stern tone, waiting for their reaction. There was a short silence.

“We all felt it, Master. How?” asked Keido Ren tentatively.

“He created a Force projection. The effort cost him his life,” responded Kylo with bitterness in his voice. Luke had made a fool out of him, and he was not going to go into those painful details now. Had he been more composed and less enraged by Rey’s betrayal, he would have understood what was happening from the beginning, since Luke had not left any marks on the ground and his appearance was the same as the one he recalled from years ago.

"What we left unfinished the night we burned down his Temple has now come to a close. Now that Skywalker is gone, there will be no limit to our reign. It is my wish to appoint all of you as a special council of the First Order - a much-needed Force-sensitive entity, to ponder  military decisions within the Order." All the knights peeped at each other, acknowledging Kylo's decision before their Master continued.

“I have a mission for you. I am seeking a Force-sensitive girl, the one that killed Supreme Leader Snoke. I believe she can be turned to be our ally - a powerful one.”

Vrieska’s gaze flicked up at Kylo, a crestfallen expression appearing just for an instant  before she quickly composed herself. The gesture was so subtle it was lost on all of them.

“A girl killed…?”--

-- but before Gadreel Ren could finish his inquiry, the door burst open and a triumphant General Hux interrupted the meeting. All the knights eyed him with a scorn and contempt, wondering how this insignificant fly could just interrupt their Master’s meeting.  Hux, petulant as ever, only straightened his spine, pointedly deciding not to be impressed by this despicable army with their ancient religion beliefs.

Supreme Leader, ” Hux addressed only Kylo, who was peering at him behind his clasped hands, a small smirk on his face, mostly amused by the battle of egos that had just taken place between him and his knights - “We have them.”

That erased the grin from his face.

                                                                                                                     ***

 

“Ok, Chewie, just pretend and please do give your best prisoner’s face. Boy, this brings back old memories, doesn’t it?” Leia mused and sighed to a very annoyed Wookie, who was supposedly handcuffed, as she walked beside him and Rey. The general wore a military green outfit with a helmet that modulated her voice. Rey, at her side, was holding Chewie by a rope. The young woman wore her white and blue mask, and she had covered her hair with a blue and black turban. In this attire, she was unrecognizable to anyone. 

The three of them walked into the mining factory at dusk, and Riosa's two moons soon arose in the sky. Most of the facility was quiet, since most workers had all gone back to their respective homes, and the few that watched them as they went by were in no mood to get into trouble.

Their plan seemed to be working up until now. Of course, nobody was questioning what seemed to be two bounty hunters who had captured a Wookie, probably to sell it to the mining company. Little did they know that no slaves were allowed in this particular place by order of its director, but no one was going to take the chance to just walk up to them and comment on this insignificant detail.

They entered the main building, which was gray, old, rusted, and covered in dust and sand.

A stormtrooper - a reminder of the First Order's perpetual presence - was guarding the entrance and took a step back at the sight of them. "Where are you going…with this thing ?" he said, pointing his finger at Chewie. Rey immediately approached him and used the old Jedi mind trick.

“We are taking this Wookie to Sir Casterfoe as a gift. You will let us pass and forget about this,” she said with a firm and convincing tone.

The stormtrooper straightened. "You are taking this Wookie to Sir Casterfoe as a gift. I am letting you pass and I am forgetting about this."

“Which floor is Sir Casterfoe on?” inquired Rey.

"Sir Casterfoe is on the 5th floor, to the right," said the very obedient trooper.

Chewie and Leia marveled at Rey, and the three companions proceeded to the elevator.

"It's working," said Rey to them from underneath her mask. "For now," responded Leia. "Be on your guard and keep your eyes open."

On the fifth floor they turned right and encountered an old-fashioned wooden door that was most probably the one they were looking for.

Leia knocked on it.

"Come in," said a tired voice from behind the door, which she recognized immediately.

She entered first, followed by Rey and Chewie, who had to bend in order to pass through. A blond, short-haired man with a sinewy but well-built figure with piercing blue eyes  was seated behind a desk, eyeing them with surprise and disbelief. He looked at Chewie from top to bottom, then his eyes went to Leia and finally to Rey.

“Who are…what are you doing here with this Wookie? he asked, not understanding their presence in his office.

“Are you alone?” inquired Leia, her voice distorted by the modulator.

“I beg your pardon? Do you see anyone else in the room?” he cut in sharply. From his quick and witty reply, Rey understood immediately that the man had to be a politician. It reminded her so much of Leia.

At that - and Rey recalled, way too much like her son - Leia took her mask into her hands, unlatched it and took it off, revealing her face -

- and Casterfoe’s jaw dropped to the floor . His charming blue eyes widened.

Leia…! ” he all but whispered.

"Old friend," said the former senator, her lips curving into a wide smile, and opening her arms to him as Casterfoe ran to her and pulled her into a warm embrace. "My dear old friend, how happy I am to find you alive. Last time I saw you I thought it was the last,” said Leia, hugging him back and then disentangling herself from him.

Ransolm straightened and his face darkened a bit, remembering why she was saying this. “Yes. It’s a long story, for another day. Leia, in the name of the Force, what are you doing here?” he queried, grabbing his former colleague by the shoulders and almost shaking her. “I’ve heard, I mean…the Resistance, the First Order…”

“Ransolm” responded the princess with pleading eyes, “I need your help.”

 

                                                                                                                        ***

 

Hux was standing with Kylo on the bridge of the Finalizer again. This time, the six knights of Ren were flanked, arms crossed and full masks on, behind him. The general was briefing Kylo on his findings.

“The Force-sensitive girl was spotted on the Ring of Kafrene with a Wookie,” said Hux. Kylo grimaced. The last thing he remembered of his father’s best friend was him firing a bowcaster blast that injured his side. Did this mean it was Rey who had been on the Falcon on Crait? He had ordered that junk ship to be destroyed. He shivered at the memory.. 

"They are now on Riosa," continued Hux, oblivious of Kylo's inner turmoil. "I have ordered six of the best bounty hunters to go to the planet and track their ship. They are ready to kill the girl on my orders," Hux told Kylo while gazing at him intensely since he had planned to analyze every detail of his reaction. He didn't know it yet, but he was about to bitterly regret this decision.

What did you just say?” Kylo hissed coldly through gritted teeth, his eyes darkening with burning anger.

Hux, who had fully anticipated this type of reaction, stayed fully composed. “Supreme Leader," he said defiantly, "we cannot lose a chance to kill the girl - she is a menace to --

He didn't have time to finish his sentence. The air was leaving his lungs.

Kylo was force-choking him, his face contorted in pure rage . Hux feel to his knees, an invisible force strangling him like a rope tied around his neck; he was about to faint, his reddened features disfigured and bursting.

Just seconds before it was too late, Kylo released him and ignited his lightsaber. Hux fell on the floor, gasping for air and trembling. His eyes flicked up at Kylo, who then slowly and menacingly lowered his lightsaber against his neck, the cracking sound of it filling Hux’s ears and its red gleam reflecting on his face - and Kylo saw it, at last, passing through the man’s eyes: Fear .

Without an ounce of pity, he drove the tip of the red blade into Hux perfectly ironed shirt at the bottom of his neck, and the general smelled his own flesh burning and screamed as tears formed in his eyes.

“Hux,” Kylo said in an ice-cold, murderous tone, “If you ever disobey my orders again, I will personally make sure you suffer the most excruciating death at my own hand,” hissed Kylo, his voice almost shaking. “Am I clear, General ?” he commanded, emphasizing the title with blazing sarcasm.

“Y, yes…” whispered Hux, his jaw clenching in pain and his eyes full of fear and loathing..

The whole bridge fell into deadly silence. It wasn’t lost on any of the Knights of Ren that their leader was overreacting, and the Finalizer ’s personnel were terrified.

At last, Kylo turned the lightsaber off. Casting a last scornful look at Hux, he turned around to leave, his jaw clenched and his eyes twitching. The officers stepped aside to let him through, and as he passed between his knights, he ordered without stopping, “I’ll meet you tomorrow, same time, same place,” and exited the bridge hastily, his black cape flowing behind him.

 

                                                                                                                  ***

 

“Your son is the First Order’s Supreme Leader…the black haired man?” repeated Casterfoe in disbelief to Leia.

The former senator sighed in deep pain. “I’m afraid he is, Ransolm.”

Leia had been explaining everything to her old friend, from her son’s downfall to ascension as Supreme Commander by killing his former master and torturer. The Resistance’s desperate fleeing of Crait. Rey’s Jedi training. Luke’s death. Of course, to protect Rey, she had avoided everything about her bond with the infamous Kylo Ren.

“Ransolm, I know you have many contacts throughout the galaxy. You are young and brave. I told you the last time we saw each other that you would make a fine warrior in the Resistance. I am getting too old for this.”

Ransolm contemplated her offer. He had spent the last years battling the rise of the First Order on Riosa, and he knew perfectly well that they were tightening their grip on all the planetary systems. He had survived the destruction of the Hosnian system only because he had been exiled to Riosa by the same Republic that had been annihilated.

“Leia, give me until tomorrow to think about it. I do have a trusted and compelling contact on Canto Bight - an arms dealer who would most probably be willing to sell weapons to the Resistance.”

Listening closely, Rey cut in sharply. “An arms dealer?”

Ransolm’s crystal-blue eyes looked up at her, contemplating her young features almost with amusement. “Where do you think weapons come from, my dear?” inquired Ransolm with irony.

Rey cast both Leia and him a startled look, at the same time hating herself for her for always being so naïve, even after she attempted to turn Ben. She never learned her lessons from the past. Deciding she wasn't eager to push the argument further, she proceeded to walk out of the office, making sure the hallway was empty as she opened the door and peeked out, her senses reaching out to decipher whether she would meet with any undesired encounters. There was no one.

She was lost in her own thoughts and meandering around the corridors when she abruptly felt familiar eyes aimed straight at her, and her eyes flashed up in their direction.

Kylo was standing at the end of the hallway. She didn’t move an inch but immediately noticed he had his fists tightened, his gaze showing resolve and alarm at the same time. They stared at each other in silence, both recalling the last time they had seen each other. But before she had time to blush at the memory, and as it seemed to now be a custom between them, he took several long swift steps toward her, her eyes following his, and she soon had to raise her chin in order to follow his stern gaze. Why did he have to be so tall ?

“Where are you ?” Kylo commanded without warning.

She was slightly taken aback - but common sense kicked in at once, and she sounded almost cold. “As if I would divulge such sensitive information to you . You’re still my enemy.”

“Am I really ?” he mused, a small, almost sarcastic smirk curling his generous lips.

He was obviously in a mood. His whole body was tense and alert. He hastily closed the distance between them, and his hand rose toward her. As if he could reach me , thought Rey at once.

The problem was he did .

He grabbed her - his fingers curling up tightly around her wrist. She couldn’t believe it, and her gaze went from his hand to his obsidian eyes.

Rey instinctively tried to retrieve her arm from his grasp but he didn’t allow it. Instead, he drew her against him, her own body nearly crushed against his. She was so baffled she was completely speechless.

She looked up at the man towering over her. His eyes were dark, almost feral. "Are you still on Riosa?" he inquired, eyeing her closely, painfully aware that he had never seen such shade of hazel elsewhere in the universe. Rey's mind raced. "How do you know?" she asked, her voice much weaker than she would have wanted -

“Answer me, Rey ,” he ordered her.

She didn't know which of the two - the way he said her name or her own chest heaving against his muscular frame - was what prevented her from voicing anything.. But the conversation escalated quickly anyway.  Kylo cut in, seemingly annoyed at her lack of an answer. "Rey, you're in danger. You have to get out of there."

“What? - Wait , how do you know we’re here?” she asked, confused as ever.

“There’s a tracker on that junk ship you call the Falcon. Bounty hunters are ready to kill you.”

What ?” she cried out, trying to release herself from his grasp again, her eyes suddenly throwing daggers at him. Kylo held on to her, and she was almost screaming. “What did you do ? Why are you telling me this? Let me go !” She fought to free herself, but he only tightened his grip on her arm, immobilizing her as he drew her nearer. “Listen to me, you fool! Hux wants you dead. He sent those hunters after you.”

“Why don’t you tell him to stop them, Supreme Leader ?” she spat at him boldly. The rebuke hurt him to the core, but he didn’t move a muscle. “Is that what’s happening - your subordinates are given free rein?”

Kylo shook her arm, his anger rising by the minute. “Just, shut up - and do as I say!” he hissed. She was so infuriating.

“How do I know you’re telling the truth?” she asked in a calmer fashion, one eyebrow rising, suspicion coloring her voice.

His stare was so intense it almost burned right into her. She unwittingly swallowed.

I saved your life - remember? It is mine - I can do what I want with it.” His possessive tone bubbled at the surface of his words. She wanted to protest and say she didn’t belong to him, but she fell silent, as she was oddly and ashamedly reminded that he had saved her life. She extended her senses to his Force signature, searching for a lie, but she found none.

“Besides …” Kylo trailed off, his gaze softening as he eyed her lips hungrily.

There was an awkward silence while they stood there. Was it her, Rey wondered, or was the temperature rising dramatically?

Ben… ” Rey found herself whispering, her features relaxing under his heated gaze. His hand was still grasping her wrist and his face was alarmingly close to hers.

“Ben...?” echoed a voice.

Amidst the confusion created by their intimate moment, it took her an instant to realize she hadn’t said that - and her heart suddenly sank . Both Rey and Kylo’s eyes darted to where the voice was coming.

Leia.

 





Chapter Text

“Ben…is that you?”

Leia’s eyes betrayed a mixture of astonishment and hope. She obviously saw Kylo through the Force Bond, as Luke once had too.

Rey swiftly gazed back at Kylo, and there was no doubt that he could also see her. But it had been so long that he seemed to have a hard time recognizing her. Years of pain, deaths, and war had aged the Alderaan Princess, but it was her voice that really betrayed who she was. Kylo’s face was ash-colored and his jaw was locked in an awestruck expression.

Mother and son were facing each other for the first time in many, many years.

In Kylo’s eyes, a million emotions passed by like a shooting star, and Rey struggled to sort them out. A panic seemed to wash over his features but also, simmering behind his gaze, intense pain . His temples were sprinkled with sweat and his grip had slightly tightened over Rey’s wrist as he subtly drew her a bit closer. She was actually so close to him she could almost feel his heartbeat racing, and it crossed her mind that he was using her almost like a shield against an enemy.

Rey’s gaze returned to Leia. She had reached out a trembling hand and she was cautiously approaching them, her whole body bent over as if trying to get near a corned animal.

“Ben…it’s me.”

Kylo, composing himself, immediately took a step back and eyed her with distrust, his grasp still firm on Rey. She was trapped between the two of them. Her eyes didn’t stop flickering from one to the other, and she felt completely helpless. She had no other option but to witness this most dreaded reunion.

Seeing his reaction, Leia stopped dead about two or three meters away from them, her eyes never leaving his. Her stare burned right through him. She straightened her body and her arms lowered back to her sides, but her brown eyes appeared miserable, even if, soon enough and despite the intensity of the moment, she seemed to gather herself, resolution evident in her royal features once again.

“Ben. Rey told me everything. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry,” she told Kylo softly as she shook her head, her eyebrows arched in an apologetic expression. Her feeble voice was colored with only one emotion: a mother’s despair . The awful truth had poured out of her soul, and it was clear she couldn’t have stopped it even if she had wanted to. Hearing those words, Rey’s heart raced and she glanced back at Kylo.

One of his eyebrows had raised in disbelief. His barriers were once again in place.

Liar .” His ice-cold accusation resonated in the hall, but as the information sank in his eyes were twitching. Rey could feel his fingers shaking as he held her arm, and she could tell he was waging an internal war. His voice was cold, but his gaze betrayed only hurt .

“Luke didn’t tell me…I assumed…” she couldn’t finish her thought. At Luke’s name, Kylo cut in, sneering at her, his hissing voice dangerously close to losing control.

“You didn’t know your own brother was a murderer ?”

“No, I didn’t ,” retorted Leia firmly and quickly, stressing every word she said, trying to convince him. “He told me he had done something terrible, but he didn’t mention what, and then he disappeared. You need to believe me, Ben.”

“Oh, and you never tried and find out, did you? You thought I destroyed his Temple just for…the fun of it? Too busy saving the galaxy with your pitiful Resistance ?" Kylo snapped back, emphasizing the last with blazing cynicism. 

Leia swallowed hard. Her voice was filled with guilt . “I…I thought it was Snoke. That he had corrupted you. I never thought Luke would…” She couldn’t get herself to finish the sentence.

There was a brief silence as Kylo lowered his head and his long, black hair flowed over his face. His jaw clenched as he bared his teeth. His grip on Rey’s wrist tightened hard, and Rey’s eyes immediately focused on the tall man above her, but he didn’t look at her. His gaze was unfocused, and he seemed lost...lost in the past. His whole body trembled with rage .

When he looked up again, his eyes were almost black, immersed in darkness.

“You. All of you…traitors and murderers.” He struggled to control his own angry voice; his fist was clenched so tight it trembled at his side.

“Ben, I didn’t betray you. I thought Luke could help you …”

That’s where Kylo lost it.

He lashed out on her, the last barrier of his already fragile self-control shedding away.

Liar ! You just sent me away because you didn’t know what to do with me! You were never there! I have no mother ! I never did! You ditched me with what you called a brother in a corner of the galaxy and washed your hands off of a son you never wanted to know about anymore! You didn’t even try and find out what really happened!”

He yelled at her so hard that his chest was heaving; he was out of breath. He tilted his head downward as if he wanted these memories to leave him in peace, and he was holding so tightly onto Rey that he was about to snap her wrist, although she wasn't going to complain. Seeing him yell at his mother froze her on the spot. But she couldn't take her eyes off him. She heard Leia let out a sob, whispering, "Ben …”

That’s when Rey realized the insane truth.

It all came down to her. To Leia. To his mother . She was the answer for who he was, for all his sufferings. Rey all of a sudden imagined him as a child with his black long curls, so strong with the Force that nobody knew what to do with him and even his own parents were helpless. She didn't know much of Han, nor of Leia, but she picture them fighting over him, trying to find a solution to help him - which only made things worse, and poor little Ben was left feeling guilty and responsible for his parents' constant and repeated arguments. It was all his fault. Over and over again, the guilt would bury him deep in self-loathing, just as she had thought so for so long that she had been abandoned because she hadn't been worthy. 

She then imagined him being sent away. Leia thought that Luke, being a Jedi Master, was the only one who could help Ben. She trusted him with her son. She thought it was best for him to train with his uncle, who knew the ways of the Force unlike herself, and, after months of hesitation, sent him alone, far, far away. But he was only a child. She pictured him alone at night, curled up in a bunk on a foreign, dark and cold planet, crying and calling out for his mother. In his version of the story, his mother had abandoned him and never came back for him. Luke couldn’t reach him. And then, she envisioned how he could have been turned.

Snoke.

She almost felt like the horrible master had crept into his mind as subtly and slowly as a shadow. Goosebumps formed on her arms as she remembered the horrible, white-faced, half-alien creature, with his cruel eyes and his sinister, maniacal voice. How that voice had filled Ben's lonely mind, offering him a future, telling him he was not alone, that nobody else understood him. That his destiny lay with the Dark Side.

Loneliness.

The feeling she had dealt with all her life. The feeling that brought them together through the Force bond on Ahch-To. Rey's heart suddenly ached for him as she looked at the grown-up version of this child, unloading all his secret pain and despair onto the person that was responsible for all of it in the first place.

At that precise moment her eyes were drawn back to the princess, who was closing the distance between herself and her son, her hand stretched toward him once again. Rey couldn’t help thinking that Kylo was so huge compared to her small frame; he could crush her in an instant, but Rey knew he wouldn’t. She could feel it through the bond.

Kylo stared at his mother, at a loss for words and utterly discomposed. His eyes told a thousand stories at once. He wanted to reject her, yet he couldn't; he wanted to hate her, yet his heart was bled for her touch. This time, he didn't draw back although Rey could feel his whole body shiver uncontrollably as Leia's hand sought to cup his scarred cheek.

But it only encountered an empty void.

Her hand passed through him as if he were a mere shadow.

Both mother and son gazed at each other in surprise, disappointment and disbelief showing in Leia's expression, and she looked back from Kylo to Rey, at his hand still grasping Rey’s wrist for dear life, trying to find answers. What was this? Why was the Force uniting them in this fashion?

She couldn’t touch him.

Only Rey could.

Leia’s gaze flashed back to Kylo.

“Son, I love you. I always have. I always will… Han always did too.” Her voice was firm, her eyes pleading for only one single thing: forgiveness.

He didn’t know what was worse: the words themselves or the devastating grief in his mother’s eyes at the sound of his father’s name, knowing all-too-well that he was the cause of it. He stared at her through his watery eyes with a disgraced, devastated expression. His jaw was shaking and the lump in his throat didn’t let him speak. His desperation got the best of him, and he let go of Rey’s wrist in order to try and reach Leia.

But both Rey and Leia suddenly disappeared.

Kylo was left alone in his darkened chambers back on the Finalizer. His whole body crumbled, and he fell to the ground, barely supported by his shaking arms.

Lightyears away from him, Rey and Leia were both just as distressed. The older woman’s eyes met those of the younger one. Rey was speechless. Her throat was so tight, she only managed to speak in a muffled cry. “…I’m so sorry…”

Without any warning, Leia sank to the ground. The emotion and intensity of the moment had been so hard on her that her legs had finally given out.

Leia! ” shrieked Rey, as she knelt down. The princess covered her face with her hand, an ugly cry escaping unexpectedly out the normally stoic woman.

Rey’s first reaction was to embrace her, and Leia wrapped her own arms around the Jedi apprentice’s legs. For the first time since they had met, they cried shamelessly together, as if the strings of destiny commonly united them both.

Rey barely had time to register running footsteps approaching them..

Having heard her scream, Ransolm and Chewie came racing in the hall fearfully,  their eyes wide at the sight of both women on the ground.

“What happened?” asked Casterfoe, as he knelt next to them, his eyebrows furrowing. “Is, is she alright?” Chewie howled his concern..

“She’s alright,” answered Rey as she gulped her own saliva.

"What happened? I heard you scream." Ransolm's blue eyes were searching for answers in the young woman's but found none.

What? Rey thought to herself, totally puzzled. She asked herself how it was possible that he had heard her but not Kylo, when he had screamed at the top of his lungs at his mother. Surely, the sound of it had reverberated throughout the whole building - or had it? Could it be that non-Force-sensitives could not hear him through the Force bond? But then, why couldn't Leia reach her son like she did, when she could still see him? 

She had so many questions, yet no answers.

“There’s no time to explain. We need to get out of here, fast!” Rey exclaimed, her eyes wandering back from Leia to Ransolm and Chewie.

Casterfoe looked at her with confusion. "What? Why? Can you tell me what exactly is going on, Miss Jedi ? He emphasized the last part, sounding quite annoyed with her.

“There are bounty hunters looking for us. Sir, Ransolm… whatever, we have to get out of here! Chewie, take the General with you.”

“Rey….” croaked Leia’s voice suddenly, before Chewie could reach her.

“Leia, can you stand?” asked a concerned Casterfoe to his old friend.

Leia sat up and rose slowly.

“Yes, I can…” She sounded unfazed.

While they both helped her up, Rey’s mind raced back, recalling Kylo’s warning.

There’s a tracker on that junk ship you call the Falcon. Bounty hunters are ready to kill you.

She didn’t know why, but she just knew he hadn’t lied. She had to take preventive action. Letting go of Leia’s hand, she turned to Chewie urgently.

“Chewie, we have to leave this place.” The Wookie howled fiercely, but Rey approached him and took his furry arm to calm him down.

“Listen to me. There is a tracker on the Falcon. You have to find it and remove it so they can’t find us.” Chewie tilted his head to the side and moaned.

“Yes, that’s right, we’ll get there, don’t worry, just focus on getting that thing off the ship. That is your mission. I’ll guide Leia back to the ship. Do you understand me?” Rey looked dead-serious.

The Wookie shook his head again with faint cries of protest but nonetheless obeyed. He turned hesitantly and then, casting a last glance at all of them, finally raced out of the hall with his faithful bowcaster in his furry hands.

                                                                                                                ***

He was sleep-deprived but, after all, he just knew it was going to all be worth it. General Hux arrived at an indecent hour of the Galactic Coordinated Universal Time (GCUT) at night on Scarif and taken all personnel by surprise.

After his encounter with the Supreme Leader, he had not lost one minute. He hadn’t pondered the risk he was taking when he had openly challenged Kylo Ren, and he had to admit he hadn’t expected such a reaction back on the bridge. He made a mental note not to put his own life in danger again in this manner and to use other strategic means instead. He had underestimated the Supreme Leader’s - what could you call them? - affections toward this girl, he thought, a disgusted curl forming on his lips. It was, therefore, his first and foremost important duty to check the holos that Ren had secretly transferred to Scarif. 

But Hux had taken precautions. Since it wouldn't have surprised Ren that he'd disappeared after his humiliation, he had jumped into his personal ship with only a pilot and a bodyguard for a crew, making sure the mission was as discreet and secret as possible. He had encrypted the tracking system of the ship - something he had studied profoundly as he was the one who had designed the security tracking system - that way, all records of his destination would be unknown and there would be no suspicion raised.

As for the mission on Riosa, he had taken precautions to keep the connection with the bounty hunters open at any time through his personal communication device. He hadn’t given orders to cease the mission - crucial information he had thoughtfully spared Ren, who was misled into thinking the dice were already thrown - and therefore, the hunters were still under  orders to find and kill the girl. If everything went accordingly, he would be rid of one enemy with only Kylo left to dispose of, leaving an open route for him to ascend to power.

“General, what a pleasant surprise,” stated Commander Alisto, his grayish hair poorly shoved under his military navy-blue cap and his eyes betraying few hours of sleep, as he saluted his arriving superior to the Citadel Tower on Scarif. “You didn’t advise of your arrival - I would have”-

“Forget your usual protocols, Commander,  I will only be staying here for a very short time,” responded the ginger-headed man with a polite but cold smile. He himself was feeling sleepy, and his wound on his neck was hurting despite the medical droids' labor on him; however, a strange feeling that his leadership was finally ending made him uneasy, and he couldn’t have slept had he wanted to.

“Commander,” continued the General, “Two days ago you received a transmission coming from the Finalizer ’s Holo Data Bank, if I am not mistaken,” he added, looking his subordinate straight in the eyes.

“Yes, we did General,” confirmed Alisto. “I personally sent you the confirmation code.” He then hesitated. If the file came directly from the Finalizer , why would Hux want to see them? Surely he knew what those files were about? “Is there anything wrong, Sir?” he then inquired, hesitantly.

“I’m afraid there is, Commander, and I shall personally look at these files since they were sent off by an unauthorized entity,” responded Hux, before adding, “Here is the code,” making sure there was no hesitation in his answer and no question of his authority as he handled him the encoded information on a datapad.

Alisto grabbed the device and his eyes flicked back up at him. “I understand, Sir, please follow me.”

General Hux followed him through the never-ending corridors and elevators of Scarif’s Citadel tower.

Finally, Alisto stopped and stood before a heavily guarded door. Entering the encrypted code with his fingerprint - since the battle of Scarif, one could never be too sure - he opened it at once. "Please come in," he stated, inviting him to enter a tunnel-like chamber. "We need to find the file with the remote control - a safety precaution against possible thieves," he remarked, trying to apologize for the complicated procedure.

Hux followed him inside as the man began searching the computer files.

"A rather interesting code-name, Sir," he said, peering at General Hux, slightly amused.

“I beg your pardon?” responded Hux harshly. He was lightyears from being willing to joke about anything at the moment.

Alisto straightened at once, understanding Hux’s abrasiveness. “I am very sorry, Sir, I was referring to the name of the transferred file - Moonshine - a rather peculiar name, if I may, sir.”

Moonshine …?” responded a puzzled Hux with an arching eyebrow - could it be …? He thought to himself, before changing his mind. “Very well,” he retorted, his hands crossing behind his back. “Please allow me to see the file - in private, ” he added, nodding at Alisto.

He was immediately left alone. Enjoying this newfound privacy, Hux loaded the holo. Soon enough, the triumphant expression that curled his lips soon transformed into a deadly grin.

                                                                                                               ***

Back on Riosa, Rey, Ransolm, and Leia were heading back toward the Falcon, which was now in sight, still hidden in an oak-filled forest. They were currently crossing the high-grass clearing where, no later than last night, she had witnessed Ben confessing his wildest desires to her.

She shook her head. She couldn’t think about this now. She had to focus on getting safely off the planet. 

But before she could allow herself to do so, a red blaster bolt came out of nowhere, missing her head by inches. All three of them let out a cry of surprise, and their heart thudded wildly.

“Everyone, down!” Rey shrieked at her two companions, pushing the general onto the ground as she ducked into the green grass, taking her blaster out of her tunic.

Kriff. She aimed at where the bolt had come from but found nothing. It took her several seconds to calm her pounding chest.

Silence returned to the clearing. Clouds were passing before Riosa's two moons, and whereas yesterday night she saw everything clearly, tonight it was pitch dark.  Even the huge trees had a threatening appearance.

Rey tried to calm herself, concentrating on all living things through the Force, as Luke had once thought her to do – and, at last, she felt them.

They were being watched from the shadows.

The bounty hunters. Rey’s mind raced as panic kicked in.

“Who was that?” asked Leia in a murmur after a short silence. She had fully recovered her senses, and concern filled her voice as she peered at Rey through the bushy blades of grass. They could barely see one another.

“Rey,” whispered Casterfoe, “Let’s crawl back to the ship through these thick weeds. They won’t see us.”

They? How does he know there are more than one? Rey’s heightened senses could determine the presence of six individuals, even if she couldn’t locate all of them with precision, but Ransolm? What had that man gone through in his life?

She didn’t have time to give it much thought. Leia and Casterfoe – acting instinctively as if they had trained for this for decades – were already heading toward the Falcon, making the grass move slightly under their feet.

Rey, equipped with her staff on her back and her blaster at hand, followed them closely, letting the Force guide her as she tried to sense the bounty hunters’ presence. She was prepared to aim at any moment.

But she couldn’t shake it off: she had a bad feeling about this.

They managed to crawl to the edge of the clearing without incident, but they now had to make a bold move to get to the Falcon, and there was no way to be left unseen. They would have to make a quick and desperate run for their lives.

"Ransolm, Leia, you both go; I'll cover for you," Rey said without a moment of hesitation.

“Rey, no! You’re too valuable!” Leia curtly replied, but Rey’s intense stare silenced her. There was something about it which left the general no choice but to obey the young woman. Casterfoe took her by the arm and gave Rey a nod. She nodded back.

That was when the clouds over Riosa’s moons vanished and light unveiled the clearing, making the route toward the Falcon easier than it would ever be.

“This is our chance. Now go!” Rey hurried a reluctant Leia. Nevertheless, she and Ransolm raced out of the green spot as Rey rose to her feet, instantly taking aim all around her with her blaster.

Mayhem followed soon enough. Blaster bolts came out of everywhere at once toward her.

Of course, the bounty hunters, knowing their opponent was strong in the Force, had agreed to attack her as a group and share the reward for it – or, at least, that was the initial plan. Several had already made other plans to kill their fellow temporary allies. With their laser blasters, they could see her in the dark and had identified her for some time already, whereas Rey had only the Force to sense their whereabouts.

But the Force was with her.

Acting on instinct, she raised her free arm and froze many blaster bolts coming at her in mid-air. Then, without knowing really how , with a flick of her hand the bolts raced back from whence they had come, instantly killing two of her opponents.

However, it hadn’t been enough.

Another shot went through Rey’s other arm, disarming her as she cried out loudly and held her bleeding limb. She managed to turn around. Summoning her weapon to her other hand with the Force, she sprinted toward the Falcon – only to nearly crash into the princess.

She didn’t have time to register everything that happened next. It all seemed to pass in slow motion.

All she saw was Leia was dashing toward her and yelling her name with a terrified look of anguish before she jumped right behind Rey, her arms opened wide in a cross-shape. Rey turned around and saw a man who had come out of the woods to take aim right at her back.

His rifle bolt struck right through the princess’s torso.

The last thing Rey heard was her own desperate screams echoing inside her head.

 

Chapter Text

Rey’s scream echoed through the air; the sound of it resonating in the clearing and the woods, startling a flock of birds which croaked away in the moonlit night.

Leia collapsed on the ground just before her.

Rey could sense her life was hanging by a thread.

And then, she felt it. The rising anger in her veins. The powerful, almost desperate need to kill.

The call to the Dark Side.

The bounty hunter responsible for the shot was once again aiming at her from afar. Rey, oblivious of her wounded limb, drew her staff out from behind her back, her teeth bared like a snarling wolf. She dashed toward the man in the armor, avoiding his rifle shots as she ducked to the ground on one hand, freezing the blasts with the other — but this time, she didn’t kill him by sending them back, no, she shoved them away with a piercing cry. It was too easy to kill him that way; she wanted to make him hurt .

She raced toward him and then, without a warning, jumped into the air — and landed so close that she disarmed him with a kick and hit him on the head with her staff. His mask crumpled under the blow with a loud, metallic noise, and Rey dashed to avoid his fists. Positioning herself behind the hunter, she shoved the staff under his chin and, applying more and more pressure, she slowly strangled him.

Who hired you to do this?” she hissed at him through gritted teeth, her voice shaking uncontrollably with rage. Hearing no answer from him, she pressed her staff a little more into his neck, until she could hear him choke as he kicked his feet and desperately tried to grab at the staff with his gloved hands.

She needed to know Ben had told her the truth. She needed to know if he was going to be responsible for his own mother’s death. Their encounter was too fresh in her mind. Leia’s pleading eyes. Him lashing out at her. If it turned out he had lied, she swore to herself she would be done with him, forever.

“Answer me, you piece of scum!” she spat out menacingly, her reddened face contorted with wrath. Her hands shook while she pulled the staff a little more toward her, as if she wanted to send a clear message that her intention was to break his neck if he didn’t answer.

“H..hux” choked and groaned the man’s feeble voice, spitting saliva.

Hux.

Hux wants you dead. He sent out those hunters for you. That’s what he had said. She almost didn’t believe him back there, but he hadn’t lied.

She felt an inner tension release.

Suddenly, a white light illuminated her face. She looked up swiftly, only to see that the Millenium Falcon was above, its lights almost blinding her. She nonetheless distinguished that the ramp was wide open, and Ransolm was standing there, holding the pillar with one hand.

Rey! ” he yelled at her, reaching with his free hand toward her.

Without an ounce of hesitation, she pulled the staff toward her with a swift move, killing the bounty hunter on the spot. The man crashed on the ground and she ran toward the Falcon, which was hovering above her, and reached out to Ransolm’s hand. More blaster bolts came shooting toward them, but this time, they missed their objective and Casterfoe finally grabbed Rey’s hand and pulled her onto the ramp, where she nearly fell.

“Chewie, let’s go, go!” screamed Casterfoe to the faithful Wookie, as he helped Rey stand up and guided her through the doorway, protecting her with his body as they avoided the last of the bounty hunters’ blasts.

Rey leaned on the Falcon’s interior walls, she was panting and sweating hard. It took her a few seconds to rein herself in, to recoil from her anger, before she dared to ask. Ransolm and she gazed at each other knowingly.

“Leia?” whispered Rey, glancing around her. She still felt a glimmer of life humming from her through the Force.

“There...” said Ransolm, pointing his finger toward the lounge. Rey proceeded to walk deeper into the Falcon’s core, bumping into the walls as she held her own wounded arm, and Ransolm followed her closely.

The princess was laying on the lounge’s bunk, where Chewie probably had left her before entering the cockpit to make a desperate escape. Rey’s attack on the bounty hunter had given them an opening, since it had focused his attention on her, giving them time to rescue the Princess and start the Falcon’s engines to save Rey. They hadn’t had time to take proper care of the mortally wounded General.

Sensing her faint breathing, Rey immediately retrieved the oxygen mask from behind the lounge seats and ran toward Leia, whose chest was covered in blood.

Rey swallowed hard, both her brows arching with concern. She grabbed the Princess’s head, put the mask on, and Leia started breathing more regularly through it. Rey was trying to think of what to do, her hands lying on Leia’s torso. If only I knew how to heal…I know one can heal with the Force, but I don’t know how. She thought in vain, hating herself.

Rey turned over to Ransolm, who was eyeing the scene. Defeat flowed through his crystal blue eyes. He had just been reunited with his old friend and seeing her in this state tore his noble heart apart.

“We need to get her to a medical bay, to a bacta tank, she’s dying….” Rey’s voice trailed off as she felt a hand on her arm, and her eyes immediately flickered down, only to see Leia’s fingers on her wounded arm, her eyes slightly opened.

Leia made a gesture toward the mask, and Rey understood that she wanted her to take it off. The princess nodded at her, as if she had read her mind. She then proceeded to carefully and slowly take the oxygen mask off.

“Rey…” croaked Leia’s feeble voice, and Rey felt like an icy bolt had pierced her heart at the sound of it. She turned her face toward her, and took the cold hand that she had placed on her arm into her two warm ones, stroking them gently and affectionately. Her eyes were filled with tears.

Leia’s voice rasped, and she could hardly talk. “Rey…the Force...”

“Leia, you have to save your energy. We can get you out of this,” Rey responded, overwhelmed by guilt and desperation. It was all her fault. She felt like the whole universe was going to collapse onto her, and her heart pounded so hard against her chest she felt it was going to burst.

“No…” Leia answered in an oddly calm and resolved fashion, eyeing her with care and then closing her eyes, breathing hard. “This is my time.”

Rey swallowed, letting out a sob as she clutched her hand tighter. Tears fell soundlessly onto her cheeks and dropped onto her kneeling legs.

“Rey…listen to me. There is something… something is connecting you and Ben. I saw it, I can feel it. You have to find out what it is…”

At the sound of this revelation, Ransolm flinched behind Rey, but she didn’t have time to pay attention to him. Leia raised a trembling hand toward Rey’s face, cupping her wet cheek and stroking it softly.

“We all failed him, Rey. Please…you can help him. There is something between you, I know it…” she said with a faint smile, lowering her hand back on the bunk, her eyes piercing and reading right through hers. She gulped hard, and looked down, not knowing how to answer the dying Princess’s plea. Of course, there was “something” between her and Ben. How could she deny it? She had caught herself being strangely attracted to the man. But she knew Leia meant something else. Something she had kept wondering herself. Why was the Force connecting them?

Surely, Snoke had been lying. He was not the one who had created the bond. She knew this all too well. She had dreamt of Kylo, dressed all in black with his mask on, way before meeting him. Even before that, she had felt a young man’s presence in her dreams on Jakku, when she was so lonely, and had even heard a voice, whispering to her in her daydreams. More recently, she had seen a strange boy in the vision on Takodana, with a hovering figure which curiously resembled Snoke’s deathly appearance.

When they first met on Takodana, she sensed that Kylo had felt… something . Something he couldn’t quite place. He had said so, too. Only, she was too terrified by him to think about anything concrete at that moment. Had she also appeared in his own dreams?

But on Starkiller Base, the moment Kylo entered her mind, something had happened. Their minds had fused . An energy passed between them. She suddenly knew how to use the Force, as if she had learned from him simply by tapping into his mind. Her Force powers had awoken drastically from that moment on, and she had even been able to defeat the strong Dark Side warrior.

Then there was the Force bond. It had allowed her to see past the monster’s deeds to see the man behind the mask. To see him naked — in every meaning of that word. She had thrown her prejudice away and opened to him, and when their hands touched, she truly believed he could be saved, that he would turn. That he would stand with her . She felt it again during their fight against Snoke’s red guards. The balance. It had shown her what they could achieve together, only to be thoroughly disappointed moments later.

She had woken up in the throne room before him, and jumped to her feet. She was disoriented, almost stumbling over a dead guard, her eyes glazed.

And then she saw him, lying on the ground. For one second she feared he was dead, but then she felt his Force signature and approached him cautiously. His head rested on the obsidian marble ground, bunches of his black hair strewn over his forehead and eyes. She sighed heavily at her own dashed hopes as she considered him and his odd but nevertheless handsome features, although his brows were arched into a painful expression, even when knocked out. She remembered his vision of Luke hesitating to murder him in his sleep, and she couldn’t help aching for him. She knelt down and was about to smooth his hair away from his face but then decided against it — realizing at last that she had to flee the ship before it was too late.

She grabbed the broken saber and raced out of the room, casting him one last look as the elevator doors closed before her.

Only then did she realize that it never crossed her mind to harm him or kill him. An inner voice spoke against it, a deeply-rooted intuition that she couldn’t really pin down but knew stemmed from the Force itself.

Leia’s pained grunt shook her out of her thoughts, and her eyes flashed back to the wounded Princess once again. The Force was leaving her.

“Leia. I swear to you I will do whatever is in my power to help him. Only…I fear it’s too late.”

“It’s not,” croaked Leia. “I saw him, the way he looked at you…That’s why you had to live, Rey.” She said breathlessly, clenching her teeth. “Trust the Force, it will show you…”

Tears flowed freely as Rey closed her eyelids. She understood now. Leia had sacrificed herself to save her, because she thought she was the only one who could bring her son home. Leia’s last heroic gesture had been one of a mother. The mother who thought she had failed her son was now making one last desperate attempt to save him through her own sacrifice.

As if on cue, Chewie, who had flown the ship into lightspeed, stepped into the lounge moving toward them, growling at the sight of Leia, and casting a desperate look at Ransolm and Rey. Ransolm’s face was bathed in tears as he stood right behind Rey, witnessing Leia’s last words.

The Princess turned her head slightly and eyed her two old friends, a grin almost forming on her otherwise worrying violet-colored lips.

“I forbid you two to cry over my soul,” she told them almost jokingly, and Ransolm let out a sob, while Chewie protested, whining through muffled Wookie cries. They both took a step forward, in a desperate attempt to be closer to her as if it could buy them more time.

“Now, let me rest…” finally breathed out the Alderaanian Princess, rolling her head over again on the bunk, her royal features softly relaxing after enduring such intense suffering. She closed her eyes as she sighed, and her chest moved slightly for a few more instants.

Then, she willingly entrusted herself to the Force.

“Goodbye, my friend,” murmured Ransolm, his feeble voice breaking apart.

Rey released the Princess’s hand only for her head to collapse onto her chest as she wrapped her arms around to hug her tight. She sobbed over Leia’s body until her eyes had no more tears to offer.

 

***

 

The next two days were the hardest of Rey’s entire existence. It made her years on Jakku feel like a distant holiday.

They had come back safe to Akiva’s base, thanks to Chewie, who had taken the tracker off the Millennium Falcon just before the bounty hunters' attack.

She couldn’t process nor recall what exactly had happened from the minute she stepped out of the Millennium Falcon. Her eyes were reddened, her vocal cords shaking as she tried to voice anything to Poe, Finn, and Rose who had come dashing to welcome them.

It was Ransolm who had done most of the explaining.

They had given Leia a noble funeral and laid the princess out on a bed of colorful and exotic Akivian flowers. All of them knew the late General wouldn’t have wanted anyone to shed tears for her. But they were all mourning her in their hearts. Poe seemed most affected, as he had always been Leia’s protégé - the sort of son Leia would have dreamed Ben could be: a hot shot, daring pilot, working closely with her. Rey couldn’t imagine how Ben might have turned out, had he not been Force-sensitive.

How everything could have been , she thought bitterly to herself.

Ransolm had had no other choice but to join the fight - and he seemed to be accepting his newfound role despite his primary reluctance. He wanted to honor his old friend’s memory and he accepted new leadership responsibilities, along with Poe. Thankfully for Rey, he hadn’t divulged anything from her last conversation with Leia — after her death, they had cried together along with Chewie in the Falcon and talked through muffled tears about what Leia had told her, and Rey felt she owed him the truth. After all, he saved her back on Riosa. Ransolm had been quite shocked about the revelation; however, he seemed to understand her reasons for not divulging such sensitive information to their friends. She wanted to keep this a secret - even if she dreaded it would come out sooner or later.

During the short while they had been gone, the Resistance had transformed into a true Rebellion. Strategically, and following Leia’s last advice before leaving, Poe and what was left of the crew had started a massive propaganda signal aimed at those who were suffering from the First Order’s grasp on the galaxy. Their foothold in new systems had increased alarmingly and Rey had no idea how the new Supreme Leader could have achieved such a thing, knowing how temperamental he was. She knew there had been internal divisions, as Kylo himself had unwillingly told her during their encounter back on Riosa. Someone named Hux had sent those bounty hunters after her, despite Kylo’s disapproval. She could just imagine how that had played out between him and his subordinates.

Stories of Luke’s last sacrifice and miraculous Force Projection against the First Order’s merciless leader were spreading through the galaxy like wildfire. This had been the revival of the lost Jedi Master and his legend. It had been the spark that lit the fire of the rebellion.

Unknown faces joined the Rebellion on Akiva, and with their new ships they were slowly rebuilding a fleet, even if it was nothing compared to its past grandeur . Whenever she was introduced to new faces, they would eye her in awe and shake her hands as if she were some kind of goddess; she had never felt so awkward. Snoke’s death at the hands of an unknown female Force user provided much needed opportunities, but she absolutely hated Kylo’s guts for broadcasting her face to all known star systems and making her look like she was responsible for the deed in the first place. That was so rich of him. She still wondered why he had done it, but she had a fair amount of ideas on the topic. The point was, it made it impossible for her to go anywhere anonymously anymore. Kriff , maybe Ahch-To was the only planet she could actually go to now, since it had no modern technology; it was as if the whole planet had been frozen in time. In any case, she played the game, even with her own friends, since it served the Resistance, and they hadn’t asked her any more questions on the matter, for they seemed to have taken it for granted.

She sighed. There was too much to process.

She was so exhausted. And it was just too hot. She had barely slept over the last few days, between the humidity, the heat, and a strange pain in her chest that wouldn’t let go despite all her efforts. She decided to skip whatever was to come in the next few hours and retreat to her quarters. She whispered something to Finn, who was standing next to her, welcoming yet another signal from a long lost ally of the resistance on the radar controls, and she disappeared from everyone’s sight.

Entering her dimly lit dorm, she grabbed the broken lightsaber she had started to dismantle into several pieces as she laid on her sheets of her bunk. Her wounded arm had been taken care of, even if it was not perfect and still ached faintly. After analyzing the advancement of her work on the blade, she retrieved the Kyber crystal from it and turned it between her fingers, eyeing it through the light.

There is something… something is connecting you and Ben. Leia’s words kept reverberating in her mind like an echo.

Did he know his mother had died? Had he felt it through the Force ? She wondered where he was now, and found herself thinking about her last promise to his mother. To help him. But how?

That was the precise moment when she heard the crystal humming through the Force. It started to shine and twinkled like a star at night, its blue light reflecting on her face.

She glanced around, and then she felt it.

The Force was calling her again, only this time it was different.

It wasn’t the Force Bond, nor the strange and terrifying visions she had on Takodana. There was an odd peacefulness to the room and she could hear strange sounds murmuring to her from behind a door that led to a small closet encased within the wall. It reminded her of the time when she had been following Luke on Ahch-To, and the Force tree had whispered at her.

Curiosity getting the better of her, she rose from the bed, making sure to leave the crystal behind her and proceeded toward the door.

She stood there a few seconds, her heart beating a little faster, and opened it.

The closet had disappeared, there was only a black void before her. The voices kept whispering to her. She analyzed the entrance, perplexed.

Then, she heard a cry. A child’s cry.

Taking a deep breath, she entered the void and was immediately walking through a dark, black corridor-like room. Her heart was racing now, but she didn’t feel scared. The Force was wrapping her in a sweet coat of what seemed to be blackish mist that felt soft on her skin. The ground appeared to be made of the same substance; it wasn’t hard, it was gently giving under her weight, almost as if she were walking through some clouds.

There was a bluish light at the end of the hallway where the soft cries came from, and she continued toward it, mesmerized.

She arrived inside a small room bathed in midnight-blue light. In it was a bed, and a child - a boy - was on the floor, leaning against his bed base and curled up with his arms wrapped around his knees. He was dressed in a whitish and younger version of Luke’s Jedi robes.

It couldn’t be.

What betrayed his identity was his pitch black feathery locks, and the pale skin contrasting against them.

It was Ben.

Only, she couldn’t interact with him and was helplessly witnessing the scene, like a distant memory.

At once, little Ben lifted his chin to rest in on his knees then he hiccupped and coughed. Rey immediately remembered the vision she had on Takodana. He was about the same age. His cheeks were glistening with tears, and he looked so vulnerable.

Without any warning a door opened, and yellow lights almost blinded Ben — and Rey. A much younger version of Luke entered the room, and she was astounded to see that he had had blond hair.

“Ben. Stop crying. Get into your bed and sleep, it’s very late,” said the Jedi to his Padawan.

Ben’s tearful eyes flicked up at him, looking miserable. “Mom…?” he asked with pleading eyes.

“Your mother left, but she’ll be back,” Luke said in a kinder tone, trying to sound convincing. Although he didn’t seem to believe half of what he was saying.

“Is she mad at me?" Inquired Ben to his uncle.

“No, don’t you remember? I will be the one to teach you how to use the power you have inside you, so you can control it better.”

Rey immediately inferred that the boy felt guilty about something, and she soon found validation in his next words.

“What did I do wrong? Tell her to come back…please.” Ben begged. Luke approached him and knelt down to pat his locks.

“I’m sorry Ben, I can’t do that now. She left and will be back soon, when we start training. Go to bed now, it’s late.” Luke rose, and then walked out of the room, glancing back at him quickly before closing the door.

Rey was the only eyewitness to Ben’s reaction. Luke hadn’t been cold. But he hadn’t been very gentle either, treating Ben more like an apprentice than a nephew.

Ben wrapped his arms around his knees again, curling up even more, burying his head in his lap; he cried his heart out while calling for his mother in between his sobs and saying he loved her. Rey’s felt as if a knife had gone right through her heart. He was only a child, and he was in so much pain.

Just as she realized that she was witnessing Ben’s first night after being sent away to Luke, she felt the soil give out from under her and she only had time to cry out in shock before falling into an empty void. She was surrounded by the clouds again, and noticed she was flying through a vacuum toward a dark gray-reddish light below her.

Within moments she arrived at the source of the light. She only had time to glance around and register it was some sort of dark, gloomy cell, before she noticed a presence behind her. She turned around, suddenly frightened.

The only sound was her own scream echoing through emptiness. Her heart skipped a beat and her eyes widened in fear as she clapped both hands over her mouth.

Kylo hung in the shape of a cross, his wrists attached by heavy chains that came down from the ceiling, and his whole body was bent over on his knees which were both touching the ground. A crimson-red glow was emanating from his handcuffs and his naked chest was covered in chiseled wounds, as red, thick blood was dripping from everywhere. She couldn’t see his face, since his head was loosely hanging forward and his dark, black hair covered his whole face.

He looked dead .

“Ben!” Rey yelled as she rushed toward him, without hesitation, to hold him.

Before she could reach him, an invisible force drew her away and she desperately fought to go back, screaming his name, tears filling her eyes as she was taken away, unable to help him.

As she fell into the black void again she covered her face with her hands and sobbed as she felt her heart shatter into a million pieces.

What was this? Is Ben dead ? A thousand questions raced through her mind; dreading the worst and unable to contain her tears before the terrorizing vision, she cried out loud.

As if they had heard her, the dark clouds surrounded and soothed her gently, almost drying her tears off in a quiet breeze as she felt the Light enveloping her in powerful waves, filling her heart with hope once again.

She landed on the ground, right where her journey through the void and visions began. On the other side of the doorway was a blurry version of her room.

She walked toward the door and exited the void, casting a last glance behind her. There was nothing but darkness.

As soon as she entered her room, the void behind her disappeared, to be replaced again by her closet — and before she could register him with her eyes, she felt his Force signature flowing through her veins.

She looked off to the side, and she released the breath she never knew she had held so tight, as she saw the adult version of the small child she had just witnessed through the Force.

He was alive.

Alive, but weeping.

He was sitting on a chair, his whole body bent over a table with his head in his arms, between rolls of parchments, fountain and dip pens, and an inkwell. He was dressed in his usual black tunic, but gloveless this time. She could see his chest heaving with pain and tears.

There was only one possible explanation. He had felt it too. And now she understood that the long-lasting searing pain her own chest had not been entirely hers.

The scene reminded her so much of the small boy she had just witnessed, crying for his mother. Was this why the Force had showed her this? And why did the Force present her the other, horrific vision ?

Those visions still fresh on her mind, she approached him from behind and, without any warning, she wrapped her arms around him, locking her two hands on his chest. He almost jumped in his seat, since in his state he had not felt the bond open. Now feeling her Force signature, his whole body shivered under her touch. Before nestling her nose and cheek against his broad frame, she had time to glimpse some handsome black-inked handwritings, one of parchment displaying a title that read Moonshine , where he had drawn a crescent moon engraved within one of the words’ ‘o’s, and was amazed at the beauty of it. It seemed such an old-fashioned thing to do — and she couldn’t help thinking that she knew so little about the man in her arms.

He didn’t turn immediately to meet her eyes. Instead he just sighed, almost in relief, his whole body loosening after days of tension and self-loathing.

Not long after the Force vision had broken between him and Leia, he had felt it. His mother’s Force signature disappearing in the Force.

The little color which remained after he lashed out at his mother had washed out suddenly. He proceeded to destroy half of the Finalizer’s deck until he was left breathless, panting, his fist clenching at his side, and everyone had quickly fled the place utterly terrorized.

It was only the next morning that Hux had triumphantly— and, he noticed, with an oddly renewed fire and loathing in his eyes — announced the news to him: the Resistance’s General and Commander, Leia Organa, had been shot, and from the information they could gather, had not survived. Hux added that he would make a full report on the matter to be presented to him.

Kylo had bitten his lips almost making them bleed, partly giving away his inner turmoil but avoiding an outburst - which was already an improvement - and snapped at the ginger headed-man that he already knew, and that Hux should rethink and improve his fantastic communication channels, before turning on his heels and exiting the bridge. That surely had shut him up.

He then had proceeded to his quarters and gave orders not to be disturbed. His faithful knights were on a mission, so he knew that was already taken care of. He had retrieved his calligraphy set from a hidden closet that only he knew about, and worked on his secret art, which is what he had always done in times of intense inner torment. It was a balance for his violent tantrums, a way to find peace and company amidst his constant solitude.

He wasn’t ready to admit it to himself, but he had been hopeful the bond would open again. Yet, it hadn’t — and he was aching and felt so conflicted that it was as if his head was about to burst.

It was the last time he had ever seen her. His mother.

The image of her pleading eyes tormented him to the bone, her feeble maternal voice echoing in his head.

Son. I love you. I always have. I always will.

He wanted to believe it. Deep down, he knew it was true. But he had been incapable of verbalizing anything out loud.

At the height of his anguish, unable to contain the flowing hopelessness that filled his soul and spirit, he had finally broken down and sobbed like a child.

Rey hugged him from behind, resting her cheek on his back. It was the first time she had ever embraced him. She couldn’t stop focusing on how his rock-hard muscled form felt under her fingers, but what mostly caught her attention was his heart, which was racing as if he had run the Kessel-run. It took Kylo a moment to notice he was still so starved for touch. He wrongly thought he had given the feeling away to the Dark Side a long time ago. How wrong he was.

They stayed like that for several moments, enjoying each other’s comforting embrace through the Force. His sobs ebbed, and he turned slowly as Rey straightened herself and took a step back while he proceeded to stand at his full height, forcing Rey to lift her chin upward.

Brown eyes met hazel, and Rey’s heart sank.

His red swollen eyes conveyed the impression that decades of pain had crushed him all at once. His soul seemed split into pieces and his melancholic but nonetheless soft, almost tender gaze pierced right through her skin, suffusing her belly with warmth.

“Ben, come back. It’s not too late,” she implored in a somewhat muted voice.

He looked down, as if too ashamed to stand her intense gaze. Sensing his embarrassment, she reached out and slowly welcomed his gloveless fingers into hers.

Their connection bloomed open, strong as ever, filling each of them with the other’s energy.

They both exhaled slightly. Kylo’s eyes darted instantly back to hers, and they stared at each other in silence, knowingly.

“It is too late,” was his only response, even if he swallowed hard at the same time.

“Look at you, you have nowhere to go, nowhere to stand. You’re alone. You don’t have to be,” she insisted stubbornly. “I’m here,” she then whispered, catching his gaze as he tried to look away.

Kylo contemplated her, pursing his lips as he read her intent in her eyes and through their intertwined fingers. His eyes were glistening with his unshed tears. He shook his head. “I can’t be the man you want me to be, Rey. You call me Ben. You look for him everywhere, yet that man no longer exists.”

“You are Ben!” she exclaimed, stressing the verb.

“I’m not anymore. You want a part of me that is …half-dead,” he confessed, knowing all too well at this point that the Light burned him although he could not extinguish it. He quickly added, “And you don’t want the other. You refuse to see the darkness, the part that has always been there, inside you,” he said, pointing his chin toward her heart. He was firm, but there was no malice in his voice.

Rey’s jaw opened to contradict him, but she only stared at him, dumbfounded. She looked down. He had struck a sensitive chord, one that she had plainly refused to acknowledge until now.

Then, she remembered. The bounty hunter. The rage, the anger she had felt - the need for revenge. Bloodlust.

The call to the Dark Side.

That’s when Kylo cut in, reading her like an open book. “See. It’s there. Inside you. And yet you try and extinguish it just as I fight the Light. Let it in, Rey. Stay with me.

Her eyes looked back up at him, as if she had just realized something dreadfully important. “Ben, why is Force connecting us?”

Kylo blinked. He surely hadn’t expected that question.

Unfortunately for her, he didn’t have time to answer. All of a sudden the door burst open behind her, making her jump to her feet and breaking their connection as Kylo vanished. Finn was looking at her straight in the eyes, incredulity and suspicion spread across his features. “Rey, who in the hell are you talking to?”

Rey stared at him, her eyes slightly widening. Kriff. She had just taken notice that her position in the room could seem utterly ridiculous - she had her hand up in mid-air, her fingers stretched out, and was looking up at the ceiling.

How much had he actually heard ?

Poe came racing behind Finn and was about to open his mouth but sensed the awkward tension rising by the minute between the two friends.

“What is going on here?” he frowned.

“Rey was talking to someone,” Finn told Poe swiftly, never taking his eyes off her.

“What? But, there’s no one,” Poe retorted, arching a brow, taking in the whole room with a swift gaze.

An uncomfortable silence followed and Rey miserably looked at the floor.

“Rey. Tell us the truth,” Finn firmly commanded her. He had suspected something, ever since having seen Kylo Ren’s image of her on the Supremacy and the revelation that she had killed Snoke. Having been part of the First Order for so many years, he always highly doubted that Rey could have achieved such a thing on her own. Something else was going on - and now, he was about to find out.

Adding to Rey’s bad luck, Ransolm stepped in as well. They had all come to find her because they needed her to meet one of the newcomers.

It was then that she knew there was no escape. She was trapped.

Chapter Text

Stretching her arms and yawning after yet another dreadful, sleepless night, Rey knelt down and removed the clay pot from the crackling fire, careful not to burn herself on the simmering liquid. She begrudgingly scooped the green paste with a charred wooden spoon into an old, decrepit bowl and sat down next to the fire, waiting for it to cool.

 

She looked down, contemplating her meal and her nose wrinkled. It could never be worse than the portions on Jakku, but, in that moment eating it seemed like an impossible task; she would never get used to green milk.

 

Her gaze lost in the fire’s embers, whose warmth heated up her body, if not her soul. The red and yellowish cracks of the fire mesmerized her eyes, and its sparks caused her mind to drift away and once again she found herself reliving recent events…

 

...

 

....

 

“You have a what with Kylo Ren? Finn and Poe cried in unison, utterly bewildered.

 

“A Force Bond” she awkwardly repeated, unable to keep her sweating hands from fidgeting. How could she ever explain this to anyone who didn’t know how the Force even worked, she thought, watching their reaction with concern. “He basically shows up out of nowhere, and… I can see him, talk to him.” She consciously omitted anything about touch. She certainly didn’t mention intimate interactions, since those details were useless in this conversation. Force sake, that information was private and she already struggled enough with it, having only recently confessed to herself that she actually...

 

“So you were talking to him now? Finn asked incredulously, awe-struck and desperately wanting her to answer in the negative.

 

“Yes.” She flinched as she peered at the floor, the weight of his accusing gaze too heavy for her to sustain eye contact. She felt ashamed and suddenly she found herself questioning why: what exactly was she ashamed of? Of their bond? Of her strange attraction to a man who was her enemy? Or to her deliberately hiding the truth from those she considered her friends?

 

“So that’s it, that’s why you were on the Supremacy.” Finn said, more to himself than anything else, adding the pieces of the puzzle in a startlingly rapid fashion. “What happened there?”

 

Rey clung desperately to the belief that she could disguise why exactly she had gone there; therefore, she focused precisely on what had occurred in the Throne Room. “Kylo Ren killed Snoke.” Rey bluntly confessed, before adding, this time not totally honestly “I’m still trying to figure out his motive, and why he put the blame on me, and –”

 

Finn cut her off mid-sentence. “Because if not, Hux would accuse him of high treason and turn the armies against him.” Rey felt a rush of embarrassment; she had almost forgotten Finn knew everything about the First Order. “Kylo Ren is dangerous. He wants power, ultimate power.” He told her without any hesitation - and, given the circumstances, he thought a reminder was necessary -  his serious brown eyes unblinking as he tried to catch every detail of her reaction.

 

She swallowed hard.

 

“How long have you had this…connection with him”. Rey could see he was reluctant to say it, as if the words themselves were cursed.

 

“Since Ahch-to. It first opened when I was there.”

 

Finn frowned, as if suddenly hurt, his lips twisting in disgust. He didn’t need to inquire further, yet he wanted confirmation of his worse fears.

 

“So, you went to the Supremacy to find him.” He concluded as he opened his eyes again, his voice colored by a reproachful tone.

 

Rey stared at him and her face grew whiter.

 

Poe, who was in such a state of shock his jaw was slack and had merely been listening until now, looked back and forth from Finn to Rey. He didn’t want to believe any of it - for him, Rey was a hero - but, upon realizing how unsettled she was by the last accusation, he reacted.

 

“Rey, is this true? You sought him out deliberately? Are you out of your fucking mind ?”

 

The implication was not lost on her. Of course, it sounded terrible. Now, she felt she needed to confess everything; there was no point hiding anymore.

 

She lowered her shoulders in defeat. Her eyes flickered between Finn and Poe, and in an almost pleading tone, she started explaining. “I thought I could turn him. I had a vision on Ahch-to and believed that if I went to him, he would stand with us. I know it sounds crazy, but there is still good in him, I –“

 

“Rey this is madness!” Poe cried out as he narrowed his eyes at her, his brows settling in an angry frown. All Rey could do was stare at him as he tried, and failed, to reign in his temper. He took a step towards Rey and pointed a finger at her, almost menacingly. “I was tortured by that man. I have witnessed in flesh and bone what he is capable of. Hell, he sliced Finn’s back and almost killed both of you!” he gazed at Finn, who only nodded in approbation. “He tried to kill Luke. You weren’t there to see that but he tried to kill all of us, including his own mother,  which he finally succeeded in doing!”

 

Rey eyes widened in surprise while Finn’s face registered his emotional turmoil. She had always wondered if Poe knew about the connection between Kylo Ren and Leia; now, seeing Finn’s reaction, it seemed he was the only one who didn’t know. Poe continued, recalling long lost memories, his face bitter.

 

“Oh yeah, I knew. I knew Ben Solo before he became Kylo Ren. We were a few years apart, and even though he was younger than I was, I remember him. How could I not? He frightened everyone. And now, I know the monster he has become. Even Leia had given up on him.”

 

Upon hearing the word “monster,” Rey’s heart sank, and she recalled how she had spat the same accusation at Ben’s face.

 

But then, Ransolm, who had silently witnessed the whole conversation while leaning casually against the wall with his arms crossed, stepped in. “That is not true. As a point in Rey’s favor, I must insist that Leia’s last words were about her fallen son and how she thought there was still Light in him. It was the last thing she confessed to Rey and she asked her not to give up on him.”

 

Rey’s eyes flashed to his, and she felt a rush of gratitude for his providential help. She couldn’t help but feel like witnessing Leia’s death had created a type of bond between them, and she believed that she could trust him.

 

Poe’s eyes narrowed at him, a mix of disdain and disbelief coloring his handsome features. “Whatever she thought, the odds are strongly against it.” He glared back at her, ignoring Casterfoe. “Rey, how can you defend him? He’s responsible for Leia’s death - his own mother !”

 

Rey’s mind raced. “No, no, he didn’t” she stressed the words, trying to convince him. “He tried to warn me about the bounty hunters.”

 

An ugly look crept into Poe’s eyes as he arched an eyebrow. “It was the First Order who sent out those hunters, Ransolm and yourself told us as much. Why would he warn you about something he was responsible for in the first place?”

 

Rey opened her mouth to retort, but it was useless and she was left speechless. The contradiction was too strong. She would have to give extremely complicated explanations for him to understand what had really occurred that night. In addition, she was pretty sure it didn’t even matter, he wouldn’t believe her no matter how many details she provided. She swallowed; her eyes were glistening, her throat felt tight and now, as if to only make matters worse, Poe struck the last blow. “Has it ever crossed your mind that he could get to us through you? That he was using you, and deceiving you to obtain crucial information about the resistance? His objective has always been to crush us.”

 

Rey wanted to retort that she had thought of it, but she was unsure which option was worse: if she thought of it before and said nothing, it made her look like even more like a traitor; if she hadn’t thought about it, it made her look like a fool.

 

Instead, she eyed the floor, and gulped. “Poe, I’m sorry.”

 

Poe tried to compose himself for a few instants.

 

“As leader and for the sake of the Rebellion it is my decision that you ought to leave this base. You are endangering us, whether it was consciously done or not remains to be seen. Since you have helped and saved us in the past, I will not bring you to a trial” His voice brokered no argument.

 

She tried to protest. “But Poe -”

 

“- Am I making myself clear?”

 

She stayed silent. She knew, then, that there was no discussing the decision. He proceeded to walk out of the room, gesturing towards Finn to follow him.

 

Finn looked back at Rey whose face was now reddening with emotion, tears on the verge of dropping.

 

“Finn, please…” she begged.

 

“I can’t believe you are defending him. I can’t believe you kept this from us.” His accusing gaze pierced her heart.

 

“Finn, I… you have to believe me!”

 

“I’m sorry.” He turned away and followed Poe through the door without another glance. 

 

Rey fell to her knees and burst in tears - her worse nightmare was happening - she was being abandoned all over again.

 

...

 

...

 

A loud noise startled her out of her memories and she jumped to her feet. Chewie was banging on the door of the little stone hut and she opened it, hearing the giant Wookie grunt something to her. He extended his furry hand towards her revealing his prize: two dead porgs.

 

“Oh, is that for me? Chewie, you know I can’t eat those poor creatures. Be careful that the caretakers don’t see you or they will throw us out of this place for stealing their food!”

 

Chewie had proven, once again, to be the most loyal and faithful companion, offering his company as well as the Millennium Falcon, for wherever she needed to go. When she had appeared with Ransolm on the ramp of the Falcon, her teary eyes swollen and red from her sorrow Chewie didn’t even hesitate to make the offer. She had pulled the carpet-like Wookie into a tight hug, and he growled softly as he hugged her back. Ransolm had been the only other one to embrace her and offer some comfort after her encounter with Finn and Poe, telling her he didn’t want her to leave, but that he feared she had no choice.

 

In her misery Rey had been grateful for his gesture and his words. He helped her prepare to leave, gathering her belongings, giving her much needed supplies, and even waved goodbye from the green Akivian clearing after assuring her he would need her, sooner or later, for another mission, and she should keep checking her controls for any sign of him.

 

Only when she and Chewie had reached the empty, black void of space had Rey finally settled on her destination. Not that she had many options, did she? Her face plastered all over the galaxy thanks to Kylo Ren. She felt utterly conflicted about him now, recalling every word of Finn and Poe’s accusations, part of her hating him for everything that was happening to her. The remote planet of Ahch-To, without the technological advancements of the other more modern planets, would offer a peaceful exile. She also felt drawn to it because of Luke, the Jedi tree, the cave, and the temple. Leia’s last words were still fresh in her mind. Would she find any answers there on a second visit?

 

“You may roast those beasts in here, and I know Alcida-Auka likes you better than me ; if you steal their food I am not taking the blame. You can never be sure that they are not spying on us.” Chewie moaned a response, making her feel bad. “It’s ok, I have to concentrate, I’ll let you eat in peace.” The truth was, if green milk was disgusting enough she didn’t dare to think how a porg would taste. Annoying as they were, these puffy penguins warmed her heart and reminded her it was still capable of feeling joy. The small creatures were responsible for her most needed smiles and she could sit for hours and watch the baby porgs playing and learning to fly.

 

Rey exited the hut before Chewie started to pluck the birds’ feathers. She grabbed her staff along with one of the Jedi books, slipped into her rain-poncho, and walked towards the Jedi tree. It was overcast, and showers often occurred without any type of warning.

 

 

***

 

Meanwhile, oblivious to Rey’s fate, Kylo Ren was facing a window, lost in thought. His face was partially lit by a reddish-yellow glow coming from the desolate scene before him. Rivers of red burning and bubbling lava slid silently down the slopes of the pumice stoned landscape, joining to form larger rivers, while dense threads of white fumes came gushing out of openings scattered along the planet’s surface. The sun was dim, and Kylo could only see its outline through veil of thick dark clouds. This land was poetic yet crude. It was raw yet beautiful.

 

Mustafar.

 

It was here that Darth Vader had suffered his greatest defeat at the hands of his master.He had visited the castle before while seeking Sith artifacts with his Knights years ago and decided it was rightfully his.  In the wake of his mother’s death and his resulting despair he felt the need to come back to the tall dark castle where Vader had lived for so many years. Now that the connection was severed with his mother, he clung to the only father figure that he had ever related to and which had provided an explanation for his own darkness: his grandfather. Kylo had come to Mustafar to gather his strength for what was to come - to fulfil what he still thought had been Vader’s destiny - to fulfil what he believed was his destiny.

 

Snapping himself out of his meditations on life and fate, he began to explore the castle and its resources. Last time, due to a single-minded focus to master the dark side, he hadn’t checked Vader’s holo library and was now heading towards it.

 

Suddenly, and without a warning, a familiar Force sound rang in his ears.

 

He felt her presence behind him and he stopped dead in his tracks.

 

Rey had been sitting on the stairs of the Jedi tree and scrambled quickly to her feet, dreading the encounter as much as she was eager for it.

 

They hadn’t seen each other since Akiva. 

 

Kylo was standing before her and although she couldn’t see his face, she immediately noticed a change in his overall presence. That, and the fact that he was wearing a cowl, reminded her of their first encounter in the forest on Takodana. 

 

At first, he tried to reign his emotions, since last time he had seen her she had been kind and compassionate towards him. The memory of her warms arms embracing him and of her soft, delicate touch had launched a series of strong light-driven emotions within his soul, which he had been unable to fully overcome, and he hated himself for it. His head tilted around hesitantly, before his body turned three-quarters of the way to better face her.

 

Because of the cowl, she could barely get a glimpse of his eyes, but she shivered under his dark, almost onyx gaze. There was something. Where was he? Darkness filled the air around him.

 

She frowned and bent her chin forward with the hope of getting a better look at him. He was eying her from under the fabric, scanning each part of her body. Right away he noticed the change in her outfit and that her hair was completely loose and flowing with small curls resting lightly on her shoulders. That wasn’t all though, there was still something different about her that he couldn’t quite pin down.

 

His gloved fingers moved to the edge of the cowl, pulling it away from his face and off his head, rather dramatically, Rey thought to herself as she watched his obnoxiously good-looking hair flowing out of it.

 

The reddish-yellow glow from outside cast his features in a strange light, and his scar highlighted his regal appearance. Her jaw went slack at the sight of him, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that the glow that now illuminated his eyes was almost like fire - neither could she deny the heat which invaded her lower stomach.

 

“Where are you?” His grave voice was calm and stern and it almost made her shiver. It wasn’t lost on her that this was the second time he’d asked her where she was as soon as the bond opened.

 

“I was going to ask you the same. What’s with the cowl?” She shot back, trying to keep her voice composed. 

 

He chuckled, his pink lips quirking into a slight smirk as he took a few steps towards her. “Ladies first?”

 

“How convenient.” She paused, looking away and trying to regain her composure before eying him again, this time more steadily. She hated to acknowledge the power those eyes had over her. “Thanks to you, I have nowhere to go in the universe.” She said sounding almost detached, but her gaze betrayed the intense loneliness and sorrow she had suffered over the past several days. 

 

Picking up on those details, his face, which had lightened at the sight of her, closed slightly. He stared at her in silence as his gaze searched the windows of her soul. At last, he asked bluntly. “What about your friends?” It was less a question than a statement, his tone conveying only scorn and irony. 

 

Rey swallowed. He was quick, to say the least; or was it the Force bond that enabled him to see right through her? She gazed down at the green lawn and the stairs stretched before her.

 

“They discovered it. This. Whatever it is” she finally replied, and she noticed that her voice was almost shaking. She looked at her feet, not daring to look back up at him. She still felt so confused about him and seeing him again made her stomach do weird flips. It almost seemed like she hated him as much as she felt an unexplainable attraction towards him. 

 

“So… they sent you away?” His voice was almost triumphant. 

 

Rey’s eyes flickered back to his and she waited a couple of instants. “This is all your fault.” She whispered, frowning, her tone dry as the Jakku desert. All of a sudden she felt eager to lash out at him, and a part of her wished she could slap his handsome face. Had he simply come back to the light, had he not exposed her to the whole galaxy, none of this would have happened. She felt like a cornered cat all because of him and she utterly hated it. The fact that she had been awfully reminded that he was, even indirectly, responsible for his own mother’s death had not helped to improve her current state of mind, even as she recalled his weeping at time. Everything was a mess inside her and she realized, maybe for the first time, that her growing frustration with him was getting the best of her.

 

Kylo’s gaze went dark and his mental barriers came slamming down. His Force signature betrayed his rising anger. He took a few steps towards her, his eyes never leaving hers and soon his broad frame was looming over her. 

 

I offered you the galaxy. And you fled, leaving me behind.” He retorted, his deep low voice barely controlled.

 

His words were like a slap in the face to Rey and she was increasingly enraged by his attitude.

 

“You preferred power. I begged you not to follow that path and you still went there. You gave me no choice.” She retorted, as Finn’s words echoed in her mind.

 

“And you, with your precious Resistance, your dear friends. Look at you now. Outcast, alone, and miserable - ” She was about to cut him off to defend herself but he bent down, his face nearing hers, and he raised his voice to prevent her from saying anything “ - don’t lie to yourself, you know it’s true. This is what you chose over me!” He growled angrily, channeling all his own frustrations at her. 

 

“I will never join you to rule your beloved First Order.” She quipped unflinching under his accusing gaze while stressing the last words with blatant irony.

 

Pain and mortification washed over his features. His complexion paled in anger, and the disturbance she had caused with her words was visible on his features. His eyes twitched as he straightened himself slowly and his jaw was shaking almost imperceptibly.

 

They just stared at each other. His stubborn silence was like a threatening thunder.

 

Suddenly, his fists clenched at his side. Something in his force signature writhed and his eyes were like windows into blackness; he was drowning in the Dark side.

 

“Very well.” He finally broke off. “If that is what you want then so be it. Forgive me for thinking you had better judgement.” He snapped as his frigid low tone betrayed how furious he was.

 

Then he turned around all at once, and just left.

 

Rey was completely taken aback. She blinked helplessly, not knowing what to say or do. But upon seeing he had no intention of changing the course of his steps, desperation, days of conflict and self-doubt filled her heart. She lurched forward, her arm extending towards him as she cried out “Ben!”

 

He stopped and seemed to consider his options before his head slowly shifted towards her.

 

But his obsidian gaze only cast her a murderous look.

 

Under his icy, terrible gaze Rey gasped slightly and her feet unconsciously took a step back. 

 

Without a word, Kylo turned away again, throwing the cowl over his head, and walked out of her sight. Rey’s heart dropped to her stomach.

 

                                                                                                                        ***

 

In the absence of the Supreme Leader, General Hux had gathered the time to pay his engineers in the Supremacy's laboratory a visit. Snoke’s former mega star destroyer had been undergoing intensive repairs back on an undisclosed and secret core planet of the galaxy - as to avoid any retaliation from the Resistance. Holdo's suicide lightspeed crash with the Raddus had destroyed the right wing of the sixty kilometer Dreadnought. Fortunately enough for Hux, the laboratory had been on the opposite receiving end, and they had suffered no casualties within the scientists group working for the First Order.

 

Hux was currently overseeing procedures for a new project he had personally designed after recovering the missing holos from the throne room- which, of course, meant only mischief -  and began questioning the leader of the scientists he had trusted the desired invention with.

 

“How are you progressing with my order, Dr. Fewincks?” asked Hux, his nose pointing upright, elegant in his impeccable black First Order suit with his coat flawlessly hanging from his shoulders and his hands crossed behind his back.

 

“You will be very pleased with our progress, General. My team has managed to identify how to canalize the mysterious energy. I can assure you it will be ready within the required deadline. The only issue, as I have previously discussed with you, is that it will be impossible for my team to test it beforehand.”

 

“Yes, I remain aware of the issue, but I am afraid we have no choice. You will report to me through the accorded channels as soon as it is ready.”

 

The truth is, the new invention was top classified information. Had the Supreme Leader gained any knowledge of this secret from his general, he would have, without any glimpse of doubt, killed him on the spot. This is why Hux had taken it upon himself to oversee its progress; therefore it required the utmost discretion for him. His wicked mastermind had arranged encrypted codes and channels for this to never be discovered, nor for the information to fall into improper hands.

 

The red-headed man then proceeded to leave the laboratory, highly satisfied by his visit, and quickened his pace to ensure no one saw him sneaking around the Supremacy.

 

 

***

 

Sobbing, Rey sat on the edge of the stairs leading to the Jedi tree, her head buried in her arms which were wrapped around her knees. The ancient text book had been neglectedly discarded on the ground next to her. Despair’s leaden heaviness had filled her heart after Ben had disappeared; she felt crushed into pieces. She didn’t exactly know why, but his accusing, hateful gaze had been far worse than being banished away by her friends. Ben was the only force sensitive person who she had been able to confess to. Yet she couldn't help but feel abandoned by him like everyone else. Could she have fallen any lower? Darkness had crept into her skin and she couldn’t contain her salty tears from flowing like rivers along her cheeks.

 

When she thought she had no more tears to shed she felt a hand on her arm, causing her blurred vision to flash upwards. A young Lanai nun was standing before her, and Rey was so startled she stopped crying. The nun cocked her head, her eyes gentle and full of concern. She looked much younger than the other fish creatures - and her face actually seemed friendly. She was wearing an immaculate white robe, which added to her agreeable aspect.

 

Against all odds, the nun sat next to Rey, almost cuddling her as its fish orb eyes analyzed her.

 

At once, the youngling gestured towards her own chest - and Rey realized she was pointing at her heart ; then, the nun raised her hand and pointed towards Rey’s wounded organ. How did she know? Rey thought to herself, but then these creatures seemed to have weird divination skills.

 

She nodded. “Yes, it hurts there," she all but whispered, her nose leaking as she proceeded to wipe it on her sleeve and turned again to face her unexpected companion.

 

“What’s your name?” she asked gesturing towards her, wondering if the nun would understand her at all.

 

Against all odds, she did. “Tenai-Skendu,” she replied, before asking something back and Rey finally got the hint that the nun was returning the question. “I’m Rey.” She answered, imitating the nun, who smiled back at her.

 

Rey had all of a sudden been reminded of the cold reception she had received when fleshly arriving on Ahch-to again. Little had she known what had awaited her back then.

 

...

 

...

 

Chewie and herself had just reached the sea-covered green and blue planet within the unknown regions and landed on Ahch-to’s primitive rock-deck. She stepped out of the Falcon’s ramp, escalating yet again the Jedi steps, with an air of déjà-vu, towards the ancient hut village. 

 

Nevertheless, now that Luke was gone, the amphibian frog nuns had ferociously attacked her, throwing dead fish heads and rotten vegetable at her, and she had to defend herself with her staff, pushing the nuns away, dashing right and left to avoid the projectiles, before an elderly nun had stepped into the scene, hushing everyone to a deadly silence. The other nuns seemed to obey her and the elderly was without a doubt the chief of the tribe; she was holding an ancient wooden scepter, decorated with whitish old tarnished gems as well as the orange and white feathers of a porg.

 

Rey was amazed when the nun finally spoke in a low, raspy voice : she could actually understand her despite some struggling - it was her language she was speaking, notwithstanding a heavy, rusty accent that stressed strangely on the vowels.

 

“Alcida-Auka is my name, matron of the Lanai caretakers. What do you seek, reckless child?”

 

Rey decided it was for the best to speak the truth. She had a feeling this nun would be different than the others and her whole appearance commanded only respect.

 

Please. I have nowhere else to go. There is a bounty on my head throughout the whole galaxy.” Rey coaxed a response. 

 

Alcida-Auka’s listened carefully, pondering over her words as her gigantic fish orbs eyed her with a judgmental look, reading her every intention. The nun analyzed her features before closing the distance between them, and touched her cheek. Then, just as quickly she took a step back.

 

“A child of the Light. Yet so much raw, uncontrolled darkness. You seek knowledge. You seek your Other.” she declared in a solemn, cryptic fashion.

 

To say the least, Rey was astonished. Her Other? She had no idea what she meant, although her words reverberated strangely within her soul.

 

Then, Alcida-Auka waved her scepter, and gestured to gather the other nuns. She gave a short speech, but this time in an incomprehensible ancient language. The nuns listened to their leader, and at once, she pointed her wooden apparatus towards Rey’s face, nearly taking an eye from her. The crowd’s flat grayish faces looked in awe at Rey, who felt a sudden rush of embarrassment from the much unwanted attention. What was she telling them? When it was over, she dismissed her daughters and turned her attention back to the young woman.

 

“You may stay on the island to find your answers. You can use the old hermit’s hut, provided you do not break anything this time.” She said, pointing her scepter towards Luke’s former residence and Rey immediately recalled her first Force bond connection with Ben.  The moment she had shot at him, blasting a hole through the hut in the process. The caretakers had mended the damage during her absence.

 

Since then, she had the daily urgency of finding food, staying alive, and starving the demons of solitude that besieged her heart.

 

...

 

...

 

 

While she recalled these memories, the young Lanai had collected the Jedi book and held it carefully within her small white and grayish hands. Rey noticed she turned the pages of the book almost religiously, as if holding a sacred relic.

 

Then, she stopped on a page which bore yet another strange, enigmatic drawing. It was of a person sitting in lotus position holding what seemed to be a lightsaber in the middle, and it was divided between a white side and a black side.

 

The nun looked back at Rey, and then toward the drawing several times, and after a short period she tried to decipher a golden written sign language under the picture.

 

Tenai-Skendu’s face flushed with an eager excitement. She put a hand on the drawing and then pointed at Rey, while muttering something incomprehensible; but, given her whole demeanor, it was obviously important.

 

“What is it? I don’t understand,” Rey eyed her quizzically.

 

Tenai-Skendu got to her feet, closing the book before tucking it under her arm, then gestured for Rey to follow her.

 

A strange shiver crossed Rey’s spine, but she obeyed her newfound friend.

 

The nun led her towards the Jedi Temple, which loomed on top of the gran-crowned domes of rock. Its upright massive loaves of granite oversaw the dark, grayish sea where waves displayed threads of foam. The wind was rushing, nearly engulfing Rey who was struggling to get her flowing hair out of her face as she escalated the stairs.  The nun had proven to be a quick walker for her tiny size.

 

While walking, her thoughts shifted towards the island’s force energies. Somehow, someone had burnt the Force Tree down, and she was still trying to figure how and why this had occurred. Beneath the ashes still lived some parts of the tree, and she had tried to uncover the undamaged, old wooden halt-burnt trunk, but nothing interesting had come out of it. As she also had noticed, the destruction of the tree had changed the Force’s ebb and flow. Now, the Light side, which had previously emanated from the Tree in powerful waves, had diminished, and the cave where she had desperately tried to find answers several weeks prior showed less Darkness. The whole island had strangely become more balanced, as powerful and unknown energies poured from the Temple they were heading towards.

 

When they reached the top, the nun raced towards the center of the stone room where a curious white and black circle she had previously seen was displayed. She approached cautiously, as Tenai-Skendu knelt in front of it ceremoniously and muttering unknown words of prayer.

 

Completely dumbfounded, she eyed the engraving once again. It perfectly resembled the drawing in the Jedi Book.

 

How could she have missed this?

 

As if on cue, Tenai-Skendu handed her the book, visibly telling her to open it, which she did in a rush of excitement she hadn’t felt in weeks. Trembling, she turned the pages of the book and when she found the page at last, she gazed at the stone engraving, then back at the picture.

 

She noticed the drawing presented a golden handwriting around the circle.

 

She eyed the stone again, and saw that dust had filled some cracks, right where the inscription should have been. Setting the book aside, she knelt down and started removing the dust away with her bare hands.

 

It revealed the same sign inscription as in the book - but most importantly, someone had written a translation in tiny characters under it, and she realized she could understand it. However, it was so dirtied by the weight of the years that she had difficulties grasping what it said. Without even thinking, she tore apart a piece of her arm wrap, wetting it with some water that had fallen within the Jedi engraving, and thoroughly began scrubbing the inscription. Tenai-Skendu helped her with her small but skilled hands. 

 

At last, it appeared -

 

THREE VEILS MASK MY FACE” - “I OPEN IN THE BLOOM OF HARMONY.”

 

Rey sat before the cryptic inscription in awe. Collecting the book, she eyed the golden signs again. Two lines of hieroglyphics were also displayed there - without a glimpse of doubt, they matched the one she had recently uncovered.  

 

What did it all mean?

 

She carefully observed the drawing in the stone. It seemed to be a Jedi, sitting down holding a primitive lightsaber. One part was white and the other black. And before she knew, a voice echoed in her mind.

 

“I had warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger, his equal in the light would rise…”

 

She had never stopped to ponder Snoke’s words, for she had quickly discarding them. He was a wicked soul and he had lied about the bond, why would she have bothered? He was dead anyway. But now, his words sunk into her mind. She recalled what Alcida-Auka had cryptically told her upon her arrival, about her “Other.” Finally, she remembered Leia’s words, the certainty of a reason behind the bond strong enough for her to plead Rey to investigate it.

 

Why was the Force connecting her and Ben? Why had Snoke said “his equal in the light?" Was she a Child of the Light, as the nun had said? But then, why did she have so much darkness within her, as Ben had gracefully reminded her back on Akiva? Despite all the questions that bombarded her mind, she remained under the impression that she was slowly but surely connecting the dots, that she was ad portas of discovering something extremely meaningful, something that would change the course of her destiny.

 

She closed her eyes, breathing hard.

 

“You’re nobody. But not to me…” Ben’s twisted confession came back to her, lingering on her mind. Did he know something she did not?

 

She stayed there for hours, studying all the characters in the book and trying to match them with understandable letters and meaning from the translation which a merciful soul had carved in the stone.

 

At once, the sun had peaked into the sea, and shades of reddish sunlight slanted through the opening in the Temple. Tenai-Skendu had left hours ago, and Rey had said goodbye showing all her gratitude and that she wished to see her again - she truly hoped the nun had understood her. Rey’s stomach voiced a growling sound - and she realized she hadn’t eaten anything during the whole day. She was forced to leave the Temple, but determined to return tomorrow to further her research.

 

                                                                                                                          ***

 

The next week, she adopted a daily routine of spending her whole day within the Temple, reading the books and setting herself the task of decrypting the ancient engravings’ meaning. This had proven impossible, yet she was making tremendous progress, since she now understood parts of the sign language, having established a link between the translation and the golden handwritings in the books, and her natural abilities with communications had been her best ally in her labor. The book’s drawings had also proven to be very handy and helpful.

 

As it appeared before her eyes, the books displayed millions of instructions on how to use the Force: Force technics, heck, even Force history, and she had discovered not only that you could “Force heal” but also, that you could only construct a lightsaber by using the Force.

 

Several times she had distinctively felt that someone was watching her, but when she turned around to scan the Temple for life signs she had found none.  Returning to her work, she knew it wasn’t Ben since the familiar connection hadn’t opened again. His memory hung heavily in her heart whenever it came back to her. Despite all her new findings, sadness, guilt and longing hadn’t left her since their last encounter and she felt depressed beyond anything she had known before. Upon this realization, she confessed to herself that she actually missed him. When she could no longer hope for his esteem, she became almost jealous of finding it again. She had wept many times in her bed that week, trembling under the covers at night now that loneliness remained her only friend.

 

Yet - the improvements with the Jedi books had given her newfound hope, bringing back much needed glimpses of light within her soul and she was thrilled to discover all of the books’ teachings.

 

After yet another intense day, she headed back towards the Falcon wanting to share a meal with good old Chewie - hopefully not porgs, though. Nevertheless, she had barely set foot on the ship before the giant Wookie came racing towards her, growing uncontrollably.

 

“Chewie what is it?” She commanded, trying to calm him down. He shook his furry head, grunting and pointing at the cockpit. “What - a message?” Rey’s heart began to race as they both rushed towards the cockpit.

 

Indeed, the green light indicated that they had received a signal. With a rush of eagerness, she quickly pressed the command, and Ransolm’s voice filled the ship.  

 

- and her heart sunk.

 

Kylo Ren had been crowned Emperor.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Several days later Rey lay in bed, shivering despite the heavy woolen covers as the ice-cold, damp air penetrated her bones. The cold kept her awake, and her mind raced as she focused on the recent events.

 

The news of Ben’s ascension had shaken her to the core and left her so dumbstruck that she hadn’t been able to send a message back to Ransolm. What would she even call him now? Emperor Ben? Or was it…Emperor Ren ? She feared his lust for power and, now more than ever, she felt the need to master the Force in order to prepare for what his new status might mean.

 

She kept replaying her last encounter with him over and over again in her head. She went over his features, recalling how something had changed in him between the two last times the force bond had bloomed between them.

 

She distinctly remembered that he had been pleasant with her at first, stepping towards her—even almost cracking a joke—which was so…unkylo-ish. Upon encountering her cold reception of him—which she now was angry at herself for—he had brought up his Force barriers, and had been so utterly enraged with her that she felt devastated.  

 

The worse part though was she felt  he was her enemy all over again—that he was a stranger. They no longer had this awkward, unconfessed …what was it, a relationship? which seemed to have been growing over the past several weeks. She almost chuckled at the thought. But, against all odds, initial conflict hadtransformed into mutual understanding. And where, at first, there had been aggression and pain, soon comfort and compassion had bloomed between them. However, that felt lightyears away from how things were now and her heart felt heavy and weighed down by the aftermath of their first real argument. The absence of his attentions and their connection was becoming more and more difficult to bear as the days went on. Because of this sudden change, she now recalled clearly how, at least on some level, she had been feeling his emotions and feelings from afar.

 

Now this latent connection was dead and she feared he had severed it, which reminded her of his murderous, obsidian gaze. She gulped as she recalled this memory and tears formed in the corner of her eyes, spilling over and trailing down her cheeks, before she quickly reigned herself in, washing them off with her palm. She had cried over him enough and she just hated to think what his reaction would be if he saw her like this, weeping over him as if she was a teenage girl who had just lost her crush.

 

She turned around in her rock-hard bunk, facing the dying embers of the fire. Her eyes were sore, tired, and heavy, as she closed them, drifting to sleep quickly. All these emotions had made it impossible to sleep lately, and she was so exhausted she hadn’t even noticed the faint sounds of the Force that usually warned her of an impending connection. So little did she know that the object of all her churning emotions appeared before her, just instants after she had fallen into Morpheus’ welcoming arms.

 

Kylo was back on the Finalizer; he had just closed a meeting with his new Force Council, where he and his Knights had discussed the political organization of the new Empire. All of them supported his decision to reform the First Order, which had been Snoke’s bidding; however, his destiny lay in fulfilling his grandfather’s —the ascension to ultimate power. The First Order had gained key star systems over the past weeks, and now was the moment to make his bold move, which had taken everyone by surprise. Hux’s face had definitely been priceless, although he had caressed the man’s ever-growing ambitions by giving him a the new regime; that way he could be contained and watched. By taking over the First Order and reforming it into an Empire he fueled the partisans for order and authority in the galaxy who, like him, saw no point in democratic discussions that led to chaos, the ones that had always been eager to rebuilt what Vader and Palpatine had left behind. Now that the Republic had been annihilated by the destruction of the Hosnian system— which was not something he had wished for at the time—he turned the political turmoil to his advantage.

 

Kylo was overseeing reports while sitting in a large, black leather armchair in his personal office, one leg crossed over the other with a holopad displayed on his lap. He had received support from star systems that were willing to collaborate with the new Empire, and others that greedily wanted to build themselves a place within it. Therefore, he was meditating his next move and other, more personal plans, were forming in his mind.

 

However, upon hearing the mere sound of the familiar connection, his fists clenched, and his brow furrowed as anger kicked in but also, deep down within his pained heart, he felt a yearning. He hated to admit it and felt weak for it, but she had crawled under his skin and as much as he had fought his own feelings, as hard as he tried to hate her, he found he was incapable of doing so. Still, he was exasperated and furious with her and, for the first time, he had felt the need to cut himself off from their connection and the power those hazel eyes had over him. 

 

When the bond bloomed open and she appeared in front of him he blinked in surprise and his fists immediately loosened. He had expected many things from their next encounter but one of a sleeping beauty laid before his eyes was not one of them. She was in a bunk of sorts, her shoulders naked because the brown, thick fabric covers had fallen off them. Her body was turned towards him, lit by the warm, dim firelight which shone over her beautiful face. However, her features were oddly contracted, and her arched eyebrows betrayed her inner turmoil and sadness even while sleeping. While he had still been furious with her only moments ago, seeing her in this unusual state loosened an ice-cold aching tightness within his chest.

 

He stood up, leaving the holopad behind him and took a few steps towards her, careful not to wake her up, and he just… stood there. His face relaxed in a soft, almost tender gaze as he contemplated her. She looked so innocent while sleeping and her chest heaved ever so softly under her breathing; yet, she seemed to be was trembling slightly.  

 

He took a small step further and studied her more carefully. Indeed, goosebumps had broken over her arms.

 

He then took notice that she had recently shed tears . Her nose was red, and her eyes were swollen –  his heartbeat increased dramatically, had it been…had it been for him? Being so unsure of himself, he didn’t dare believe it, and yet, deep within him, a part of his soul felt that it was a distinct possibility.

 

He hesitated.

 

Deciding to take the risk, he bent over as his gloved, trembling fingers aimed at the thick cover that was laid over her. He gently grabbed it through the Force, and pulled it over her, covering the naked slopes of her sun-tanned shoulders; the sight of them awakening a dormant need, and he abruptly felt heat blooming between his legs.

 

“Ben…” Rey moaned in her sleep. Kylo froze; for one instant he thought she had awoken, and his heart skipped a beat before he realized that she was dreaming, and she was dreaming of none other than him. She had moaned his name in a such fashion that his desire flared dramatically and the cherry on the top was she now breathing just a bit harder, her lips parted.

 

He swallowed hard, attempting to get a hold of himself . 

 

Rey rustled under the covers and moved, now lying on her back. He could distinctively see that her cheeks had reddened - scratch that, she was now emitting faint moans and grunts which turned him on even more. It wasn’t difficult to read exactly what she was dreaming about and he was utterly unable to control the bulge that was forming in his pants upon watching her in this state. All he could think about were the unspeakable things he wanted to do to this woman.

 

One day I will give you everything you are dreaming of, he thought to himself but he soon realized that his frustration was getting the better of him. He muted a curse and thought a cold shower was more than necessary now.

 

He took a step back, and stood there for some time, contemplating her once more. 

 

A resolution, which had increasingly rooted itself after their last fight, now took a solid shape within his soul. He knew, then, that his decision was made.

 

He turned around, but not before glancing at her one last time, and gave her back her privacy as he left the room with swift strides.

 

Rey startled awakeafter the Force bond had closed on them. She could have sworn she heard Ben, that she had been with him. Her dreams had been filled with his presence and were still fresh in her mind. Her cheeks blushed at the memory; he had touched her. In fact, he had done much more than just touching, and she realized her core was actually wet.

 

She sighed, laying back in the bed, as the awful truth crept upon her; she was drowning in sexual frustration.

 

She bit her lip and almost instinctively her hands crept under the covers where she unfastened her pants and slid a hand into her panties. She hadn’t had much sexual experience in her life; Jakku was devoid of any attractive men, although sometimes a foreigner had caught her attention and had awoken some sort of interest. She had tentatively tried to give herself a release several times, and most of them had been after leaving Jakku. Since then, her imagination had finally found something to focus on—Ben. She touched her damp core, finding her bud and as she caressed it softy, her mind fled to that time on Riosa when he had appeared to her naked, sweaty, and panting, his long, thick manhood in his hands.

 

Which was, as a matter of fact, exactly what he was doing now.

 

Unable to contain his own lust he had fled to his ‘fresher without a moment of hesitation, and turned on the shower where he was now fully undressed. His dark wet hair was hanging in his face, the water dripping on his white-skinned broad frame, as one hand rested on the wall for support and another one was stroking his throbbing hardness. His eyes were closed, his jaw was slack, and his regal pink lips were parted, betraying his pleasure. It wasn’t difficult to imagine where his mind was flying to as he stroked himself faster, his eyes now clenching shut under the feeling.

 

Rey wasn’t doing any better as she recalled him, his lusty eyes telling her everything he wanted to do to her, and she shivered under her own fingers and moaned at the sole idea of him covering her body and inside her, making love to her.

 

At that moment, Kylo experienced a tremor in the Force, and he felt a rush of pleasure so strong and so raw coming from afar, he knew it was coming from her. The vibrations reverberated within him in energetic, powerful waves, causing his own climax and he rolled his head upwards, grunting loudly.

 

They were both left panting. Kylo pressed his two hands on the wall and leaned his head between them, breathing hard, as the water continued to fall onto him. Millions of lightyears away, Rey had felt the Force’s fluctuation too and she had climaxed so hard she was out of breath. A rush of emotion invaded her - what happened? Looking around the hut she could almost smell Ben’s scent next to her and she distinctively felt her connection with him had come back. A small smile crept onto her face and she giggled as she understood just how the Force had connected them in that moment - and she felt lighthearted for the first time in days, because it meant only one thing: he hadn’t severed their connection.

 

Exhausted by her own orgasm, she drifted to sleep more peacefully than she had in a very, very long time.

 

                                                                                                                   ***

 

When she woke up the next morning and stretched out, she noticed she hadn’t slept that well in ages, and she felt very numb. She laid back in her bed, wrapping herself up in the covers, recalling everything she had wanted Ben to do to her last night. She had never felt such solitary pleasure as she had yesterday, and she kept wondering why the force had connected them in that manner. After a few moments she recalled this was precisely the task she had assigned to herself—understanding this weird bond—and she stood up and proceeded to light a fire and boil some hot water. She then grabbed the books and headed back towards the Jedi temple.

 

At least was able to say that the last days had been very busy. The Jedi Book had proven to be a better teacher than anybody; even if she wasn’t making much progress at deciphering the meaning of the engravings in the Temple, she was quickly learning to master new Force techniques.

 

Other than fighting forms, Force healing had been the first skill to draw her attention, and matched herto help others. She had the distinct impression this would come in handy, recalling how Finn had been on the verge of dying, how she had helplessly lost Leia. The book gave precise instructions on how to proceed, and she had tried it on none other than herself after deliberately cutting her arm with a stone. It was said you had to concentrate on the wound, to reach for it from the inside, to feel it through the Force; she had pressed her fingers on the wound and concentrated intensely and finally, a golden aura had appeared, circling her hand while twinkling and emitting a faint, almost muted sound. The power that emanated from her hands was like a breeze, slowly moving her hair which flowed in circles. Concentrating hard, she moved her fingers over the damaged skin and the wound shrank, leaving a slight, almost imperceptible white scar. She had succeeded and—she hadn’t taken notice until then but her forehead was displaying large round beads of sweat—the Light the healing conveyed was so intense it drew much of her energy out along with it.

 

Other than healing, she had spent days deciphering some midnight blue and golden spheres in one of the books who had proven to be the most mystical of them all. Legs crossed, she sat in front of the Jedi drawing of the Temple. She was attracted to the hieroglyphic signs of this book, specifically because Light and Darkness were at its core, and she stubbornly wanted to understand the connection between the two, since she felt on a deeper level, that the answer she was seeking depended on unveiling this.

 

Today, since her much needed rest, her mind was fully concentrated as she studied the book and translated some inscriptions.

 

Suddenly, she felt a presence again behind her and quickly shifted her head towards it, only to find the Temple room empty again. Frowning, she went back to her work.

 

But the looming presence, whatever it was, was still there. She couldn’t shake off the feeling that it was lurking from the shadows, and moving in different ends of the Temple, observing her. She stubbornly focused on the book, making a point in ignoring it.

 

“Deceiving, your senses are,” abruptly echoed a stranger’s voice within the room, causing Rey’s heart to skip a beat.

 

Her eyes flashed upwards -  and she gasped in fright at what she saw, dropping the book and falling back on her arms, trying to back away.

 

A weird, small, green creature with pointed ears, half-opened eyes, and wearing old disheveled robes was standing in front of her; his two small gray-greenish hands with long nails were holding a wooden stick.

 

Rey stared at the creature. It looked…ancient and it could obviously speak her language.

 

“What… who are you?” asked Rey at once.

 

“Where are you?” came the only reply of the tiny stranger, squinting his eyes at her.  

 

Rey blinked in surprise but didn’t answer right away - she was under the strong impression that she was entering some sort of guessing game. Now less terrorized by the sudden appearance, she narrowed her senses on him and found a deep, powerful Light emanating from him. There was no doubt, he was Force sensitive. But his appearance was so ethereal she couldn’t pin down what or who he was.

 

“In a Jedi Temple,” she replied tentatively.

 

The creature seemed pleased, for he smiled back at her.

 

“Good, good. In a Jedi Temple, what finds one?” he inquired again.

 

She cocked her head to the side, eying him closely.

 

“A Jedi?” she questioned in return after some instants, slightly bemused.

 

“Correct you are, young Rey. Many Jedi, live here they do, look at you, they do.” He replied, visibly satisfied, and Rey glanced around the room suspiciously while his words sunk in. Where those the presences she had felt?

 

“How do you know my name?” Rey asked the stranger, curiosity filling her eyes.

 

“Aah, many things I know of you. Come here a lot, you do. Robbed the Jedi Books, you have.” He answered in amusement while pointing his stick at the book, but there was no accusation in his voice.

 

“I know,” she said, looking at the fallen, ancient book before her, not showing any regret for her gesture. “I am looking for answers.” Her eyes flashed back at him “And you are…?” she gestured as if she were inquiring for his identity.

 

“Yoda, my name is. The Jedi Master who instructed Luke, I am.”

 

Rey was beyond shock - her eyes widened and her jaw went slack. The Jedi Master? Who instructed Luke? But, how could -

 

“But…how is this…?” She was unable to finish the sentence. 

 

Yoda eyed her steadily.

 

“A Force ghost I am. Call them like that, I think they do.”

 

“A Force…” Rey repeated, dumbfounded, her eyebrow widening in utter incomprehension.

 

“A true Jedi Master, dies, he does not. Become one with the Force, does he,” explained Yoda quietly.

 

Rey observed the old Master, whose appearance sure was transparent enough to look like a ghost. Yet, he could talk to her as any common person - and now, she understood why she hadn’t sensed any living being in the room behind her.

 

“You’ve been watching me,” she stated, matter of factly, eying him closely, “Since I’ve discovered the Jedi inscription.”

 

“Watching you for much longer, I have indeed.” Yoda only smiled back and Rey lifted an eyebrow.

 

Now that he mentioned this, his voice sounded familiar - but where had she heard it?  It sounded like a distant memory, something far, unreachable at the moment.

 

“Master…Yoda,” she said, hesitantly, not knowing how to address him. “Why are you watching me? I am only searching for answers.”

 

“Found them, you have.” He pointed at the opened book.

 

Rey looked down at the book, and then back at him. She paused before answering.

 

“I did, partly. These hieroglyphics are very hard to understand.” And, deciding she would be honest with him, since that was a lesson she surely had learned recently - “I have a feeling…this one is more important, but I cannot decipher it.” She said, her finger aiming at the translated inscription on the grayish-granite ground.

 

Master Yoda took a few, slow steps towards the inscription, helping himself along with his wooden stick. It struck Rey how old and ancient he looked while he approached her. He glanced at the writings and then his big, yet half-closed eyes seemingly full of wisdom flickered back to Rey’s.

 

“Know about the Rule of Three do you not?” he inquired in a cryptic tone. 

 

Rey just stared at him blankly. Force, why was everyone always talking so mysteriously?

 

“No. I’m afraid I don’t,” she answered coolly, her eyes betraying her guilt and self-depreciation.

 

Yoda stepped towards her, eying her closely while pursing his long lips together. Rey felt as if he was reading her as an opened book.

 

“Young you are. But strong, you also are. Understand this, you must, to master the Force within you.”

 

Rey only nodded, but her excitement and eagerness was increasing with every word the old wise creature was telling her.

 

Master Yoda sat in front of her, right next to the Jedi engraving in the rock and pointed at the book - Rey took the hint and immediately handed it over to him. He turned the pages slowly, glancing at their symbols and signs, and stopped on a particular hieroglyphic page, which showed three spheres - one was blue, the other was golden and the one in between was parted in two, displaying both colors. Glancing at Rey he gestured for her to come closer. When she sat next to him, he started, pointing his finger at the inscriptions.

 

“The Rule of Three, Rey. Or, prefer it, maybe you will: “The Trinity”

 

Rey glanced at him, and she was on the verge of questioning him, but then decided against it.

 

 “Light. Darkness. The Force,” he continued, peering at her and saw she was listening with all her senses focused on his words. “Come by three, they always do. Not two, as the Jedi, for thousands of years, followed this they have - a grave mistake, it was.”

 

Rey eyed him again, amazed at what she was hearing. Her mind immediately fled to Luke’s prophetic words about the Jedi and their errors, before Master Yoda continued.

 

“Seek knowledge, you are. Know you should, the Rule of Three: Wisdom comes, always, as a tryptic. Without one part, Wisdom, there is not. This sign language” he then pointed at the golden signs under the spheres on the page - “three meanings, it has. See them, can you?”

 

Rey delved into his calm, steady gaze. She took the book from his hands, and eyed the signs and the drawings; she thought and reflected in silence on what she had understood in the recent weeks.

 

She hesitated before stating, “There is a first meaning - it is the sign in itself.” Her voice drifted away… “There is a second meaning - what the signs mean taken all together.” She then stopped, and looked back at the Jedi Master, who only nodded in approbation, before Rey inquired, “What is the third one then?”

 

“Meditate the meaning of the signs - to get to their essence, to the truth behind them, you must. The Third meaning, appear, it will.”

 

Rey contemplated this revelation with solemnness - and she understood, all of a sudden, that something extremely deep and meaningful had just been revealed to her. 

 

“So, those are the three veils…they unveil the Truth? That is the ‘Face’?” Rey asked, pointing at the sentence engraved in the rock, and she noticed that Yoda seemed pleased that she linked the two together. There was a pause before his reply, “Yes. The Rule of Three, to many thing of the Force, applies it does.”

 

“What about the other inscription?” she pointed her finger at the other side of the Jedi drawing and recited, “I open in the bloom of harmony.”

 

“Ah,” Yoda contemplated her, “Eager you are, to know, young Rey. Connect the two inscriptions, you do not?”

 

The Jedi Master was giving her again another task. She paused. She breathed in and out, several times, trying to master her rushing emotions. She closed her eyes and attempted to feel the Force around her. The decrease in her heart rate enabled her to further concentrate before replying .  

 

“The Rule of Three…the Three Veils, they open the Truth- but you need harmony to open it?” she asked tentatively.

 

Yoda opened his eyes wide and Rey could tell he was almost impressed. “Yes, yes. Correct, you are.” Rey’s cheeks almost blushed at the compliment, before he explained “Mediate the drawing, you must, to get to its essence. The truth, always a revelation, a gift from the Force, it is. A vision, often, it appears in.”

 

Rey seemed slightly taken aback by this, as she recalled her disastrous meditation session with Luke.

 

But then, she all of a sudden remembered something else.

 

“Master Yoda. I had a vision once - ” She hesitated, as she if she was going to pronounce forbidden words, “- of Ben Solo.”

 

His eyes scanned hers, almost as if his mind was entering her own. What were Force ghosts capable of? She thought to herself as goosebumps formed on her arms at the sheer idea that he could maybe see how exactly the force connected her and Ben; the past night’s events came flashing back into her mind, and she found herself blushing.

 

“The Force, connects you to him, it does. Find out why, you must,” said Yoda, as if he was stating an evidence, although then he seemed to ponder over her words, “The vision - what did it reveal?”

 

“A door opened in my room - a void. After I went in I saw him when he was a child, when he was sent to Luke. He was suffering. Then I saw him again, hanging in a cross-shape, bloodied, as an adult. I thought he was dead, but when I came back to my room, I found out he was alive.”

 

Yoda kept a long silence, as he closed his eyes and meditated her words.

 

He then slowly opened them again and glanced back at her. “The door - the Rule of Three, that is. Doors to the Truth, they are. Meditate you must on this vision - trying to tell you something, the Force is. Meditate you must on the Force Bond you share with young Solo. Mediate you must the books- they called to you.” He solemnly declared, as Rey recalled the Tree had called to her.

 

“Leave you now, I must” he then added steadily and Rey felt a rush of panic; she had so many unanswered questions.

 

“Will I ever see you again?” she quickly asked

 

“With you, the Force is. Through it, always, will I see you - and guide you.”

 

Rey swallowed hard, and her eyes were almost glistening. “Thank you, Master Yoda,” she said, bowing towards the old, wise creature before he disappeared as he had come in an instant.

 

She was left alone, once again as her mind raced at everything that had just occurred.

 

One thing remained certain: she had a lot of meditation to do.

 

And so, the next few days were devoted to her newfound task. She sat on the meditation rock where Luke had, several weeks - or was it now months? - instructed her on how to connect with the living Force.

 

She struggled with meditation; her rushing mind didn’t rest, which was one of the biggest problems. Clearing her mind was almost impossible. However, she soon found out it was the only way to proceed, since, when she achieved this, the Force whispered in her ears pure, harmonic and beautiful sounds, and she even saw strange images flowing before her eyes. She understood the truths she was seeking lay within them.

 

After attempting yet another time to focus herself - she decided to take a much needed break and to attempt another, more thrilling type of task: rebuild the lightsaber.

 

She sat crossed-legged on the ground of the Jedi Temple, the scattered pieces of the blade laying on the ground before her. She had gotten the idea to improve the saber and to adapt it to her own fighting techniques. Following the teachings of the books, she proceeded to assemble the pieces with the Force. Slowly and quietly, they rose and she attempted to order them in a certain fashion, but she was struggling to join them the correct way. She tried several times - not losing hope she would succeed.

 

“You’re not doing it right,” suddenly echoed a voice behind her. Rey froze on the spot.

 

That voice.

 

Impossible.

 

Her head turned around swiftly.

 

Luke Skywalker was standing before her.

 

Chapter Text

 

The galaxy was in turmoil. The proclamation of The New Empire by Kylo Ren had shaken up all the star systems across the universe. The memory of the Empire was fresh on everyone’s mind, and, although very few knew that Kylo Ren was the heir of Darth Vader, this sensitive information was spreading like wildfire. Some feared oppression, tyranny, and destruction again; some reveled in the new order that was about to rise. 

 

Kylo Ren had taken the opportunity left open by the destruction of the Republic to fill a political void. There was no political representation, and the galaxy was on the verge of chaos, as organized crime groups and spice and drugs cartels had seized the opportunity to spread mayhem, enslaving people and capturing and murdering others, while commercial dealers imposed their legal trade agreements by the use of violence. Citizens were desperate for order. There were calls for new leaders.

 

Kylo Ren had applied his strategic and well-trained political mind to the situation, and he had transformed the First Order into the New Empire by assuring the citizens of the need for authority in the wake of such chaos.

 

And now, he turned his keen mind to the most urgent matters. He was attending an important meeting with his Knights, who had been sent on regular missions to reestablish order and serve the New Empire’s purpose on different worlds. Being the last remnants of Force -sensitive humans in the galaxy, citizens feared them.  They had, therefore, no problem in subduing people and bribing leaders into bowing for the New Empire, as well as reestablishing law and order against the cartels. As it appeared, the Knights of Ren were making themselves a name across the galaxy, but Kylo was not pleased, and an unusual kind of argument had broken out between them.

 

“Old methods cannot apply in this situation,” he explained coldly, as his Knights sat unmasked before him. “I have received a disastrous report on your activities on the core planets,” he said, scrolling on a holopad displaying many open files, all scratched and with digital marks. “You cannot go on terrorizing random people now. What we need at the moment is to back up the new regime and to exert strong authority without overdoing it.”

 

Kylo recalled the old days when they had been scouting for old Sith artifacts and paying no attention to whoever crossed their roads, killing and slaughtering whenever they felt like it. This had been in the wake of Skywalker’s treason, and, at that time, he felt that mastering the Dark Side warranted the use of unbidden violence and giving in to one’s darkest passions and needs. But now his priorities had changed. The use of tactical skills was necessary. He bore in mind he had to keep the support of the star systems that had reached out to him, as well as a strong handhold on the clusters the First Order had managed to conquer recently.

 

They all shifted in their seat uncomfortably, as Kylo narrowed his eyes on each and every one of them with a cold, piercing gaze. There was silence; the tension was palpable. Kylo’s violent outbursts were all-too-familiar to all of them, and they knew the last shred of his self-control was about to break.

 

Vrieska Ren, The Rogue, was, as always, the first one to oppose his orders. Her crystal blue- eyes were challenging their leader. “Master. Terror is the only way to make these people bow to our New Empire. Fear and - "

 

Kylo cut in, narrowing his dark eyes at her. “I beg to differ. What this galaxy needs now is leaders, not a bunch of frantic, bloodlusty Force users.”

 

But Vrieska held to her point.

 

“Meanwhile, the Rebellion is taking advantage of Skywalker’s heroic stand again you, Master, to gain strength and power.” She almost snapped, her voice filled with a hint of irony.

 

That did it. 

 

Kylo stood to his full height and slammed a fist on the defenseless table, where a crack appeared under the blow. “That’s enough!” he all but howled, glaring at her.

 

Vrieska held his gaze, although its intensity would have commanded anyone else to look down. She was not going to be impressed by the mighty Kylo Ren, although she did swallow hard.

 

She had hit a nerve, and they both knew it.

 

One of his main issues was the ever -growing Rebellion - or so it had been renamed - which had gained many supporters over the last weeks. It had been brought to his attention that Luke’s last gesture had been the spark that had lit a growing fire and that it was the center of massive propaganda, much to Kylo’s disdain. The fact that the Rebellion was gloating over Luke's heroic last fight and rallying around his legend made him want to puke his guts. For all he knew, his uncle was a coward to have faced him as a mere Force projection and not in the flesh - where he could have taught him a lesson. He would never admit it, but Luke’s last words echoed in his mind, torturing him at night. He had been thinking of a way to contain the Rebellion’s growth and keep them from gaining more partisans - since he knew all too well that if they gained enough strength, there was a fair risk that the Empire would face the same fate as its predecessor.

 

“Creating fear and using unleashed violence was what ultimately caused the last Empire’s downfall. Surely you are aware of this, Vrieska. Review your history,” he quipped at once, his tone icy.

 

At this, Vrieska looked down at her gloved hands on the table before them. He knew all too well how to humiliate her. Kylo had always been the intellectual one; he knew every little detail of the galaxy’s history since he read so much in his solitary time - and he was a loner, which gave him even more space to acquire every type of knowledge. He even read old -fashioned books, real paper ones, and those relics were almost extinct in the galaxy. She had always suspected this was why he understood politics, although she had thought he wasn’t drawn to it because of his mother’s history. Of course, then he had proclaimed himself Emperor, and his position on the matter had changed.

 

Upon seeing her reaction, Kylo sat down again to get a grip on himself. He paused before glancing to his audience again, his tone firm. “Do I make myself clear?”

 

All nodded.

 

“Good. Now, I have a more important matter on my hands, one for which I am going to need your services.”

 

But at the moment he was about to explain his particular point, a familiar sound buzzed in his ears - and his heart skipped a beat.

 

Oh no. 

 

At the same time, Rey opened her eyes wide in the middle of meditation. Luke was next to her, helping her to focus on the Force, as they had many weeks ago when he was still alive. Now, as one with the Force, he felt his newfound knowledge and disembodied state was more helpful than ever to Rey. He had been guiding her for several days into the trickiest parts of meditation, which required absolute mind control; this was not something that one acquired overnight, although she was making tremendous progress and Luke felt confidence in his student. She was flawed, granted, but she was a fast learner. His ghost therefore appeared here and there, frightening her sometimes in the middle of her lectures in the Temple, as he would often vanish all of a sudden and leave her alone again.

 

Kylo and Rey gazed at each other, an astonished look on their faces. Both their hearts skipped a beat.

 

Kylo was left speechless. She was in lotus position on a rock; her hair was down, flowing in the wind, and her ocean-blue linen tunic was showing just the right amount of collarbone. The final bouquet was her lips parted at the mere sight of him.

 

Rey was left in the same state upon seeing his discomfited face for the first time after their last argument but also their last encounter through the Force, and the memory almost made her blush before she took hold of herself. Her eyes flashed up at Luke with concern; he understood right away and glanced in the direction she was looking without a word.

 

Kylo swallowed hard, glancing around him as his Knights peered at him with a puzzled look, wondering what had suddenly happened to him - and why his cheeks were reddening by the minute.

 

He desperately tried to speak - and it took him way longer than he wished.


“If you’ll excuse me, I - I just realized I have forgotten to give General Hux an essential order which cannot be deferred” he mumbled, as he rose out of his seat and stumbled out in a hurry, leaving the Knights glancing at each other in utter bewilderment. 

 

He walked right towards Rey, who nearly fell off the meditation rock, but he went right past her. She didn’t even think; she jumped off the rock to follow him, but he didn’t stop.

 

He vanished all of a sudden before her.

 

Rey released a long breath, and she suddenly noticed she had forgotten to breathe for some time.

 

“It was Ben, right?” asked Luke’s voice behind her with concern.

 

She turned around slowly, and her eyes were unfocused.

 

“Yes. And he was with a group I’ve seen before. They are… frightening. He just…walked away.”

 

Luke frowned and closed the distance between them. “Can you describe them to me?

 

“They were all clad in black armor. They had helmets on a table before them. I didn’t have time to see more,” Rey said, before recalling, “But I’ve…I’ve seen them before. In a Force flashback.”

 

Luke’s piercing blue eyes studied her as he contemplated her words, and his transparent figure stood there for a moment before his blurred gaze focused inwardly. 

 

“Those are the Knights of Ren,” he stated solemnly.

 

“The Knights of Ren, as in Kylo Ren?” Rey inquired, dumbfounded.

 

“Regarding the origin of that name, I do not know. But know them, I do. They were my students at the Temple.”

 

Rey’s eyes widened in shock as her jaw went slack. She couldn’t say anything. She felt his pain. 

 

“Ben destroyed the room, knocking me unconscious. He convinced some of my students of my treason and slaughtered the rest, the ones who resisted him.”

 

Rey suddenly felt she was about to throw up. Hearing of Ben slaughtering innocents made her thoroughly sick to her stomach, and her heart sank. She never knew how she would reconcile the man she knew through the Force bond and this history, which she unfortunately knew was all but true. He had so much blood on his hands. The mere thought of it weighed on her heart.

 

“Rey, listen to me,” Luke said, putting his transparent hands over her shoulders as Rey’s eyes flashed up at him and met his. “You need to know this if you meet them in the flesh one day. They are all Force users, but I understand Ben is their master. They all sank into darkness after the attack on the Temple, betraying me and the Jedi teachings, knowing nothing other than brute violence and delving into the depths of the Dark Side as their only companion. Be particularly aware of the most brutal one, a big, black and heavy -framed man, and, more than anything, of the woman with long, straight black hair with crystal-blue eyed. She is dangerous, not only because she is very gifted with the Force but also because she is extremely intelligent and tactical. I highly doubt she has any Light left in her.”

 

Rey listened carefully, making mental notes as the information sank in. A woman? She had a hard time imagining Ben flanked with a woman as his acolyte, and she certainly had never seen her, nor had he ever mentioned her -  and an ugly, raw feeling rose inside her at the mere thought.

 

She sighed and nodded back at Luke, whose eyebrows arched as his eyes read her most secret feelings.

 

“Your eyes are prettier than hers,” he said, almost musing, and Rey’s mortified expression then uncontrollably transformed into a roar of giggles, laughter and blushing at the realization of what he actually meant. Luke laughed with her. Who would have thought he had a sense of humor?

 

“On a more serious note, Rey. The Bond is there for a purpose. Yoda senses it as I do. Concentrate on it, feel it from the inside, meditate on what you have learned. Answers will come; you have been working hard already.”

 

***

 

She sat on the edge of her bunk a couple of days after having seen Ben for the last time through the Force bond. She meditated for a while, having progressively grown accustomed to feeling the Force soothe her mind. When she finished, she crawled into bed. Today, Luke hadn’t appeared to her, and she was asking herself the reasons for his absence. Could Force ghosts actually have something on their agendas through their now infinite life? Or did they disappear at one point from the Force? One thought led to another, and she soon found herself drifting back to her first reunion with Luke when he had abruptly appeared behind her the very first time.

 

...

 

...

 

 

Master Skywalker!” Rey’s eyes had widened, tears of joy forming in the corner of them as she raced toward him and was about to embrace him before collecting herself. There was no way a force ghost could be hugged. A blurry sky-blue aura shone around him, and his transparency betrayed his new state in the Force. “I thought I would never see you again,” she said eagerly, her face betraying how happy she was.

 

His steady gaze contemplated her serenely. “I know. I am sorry, Rey,” Luke told her truthfully. His lips pursed, and sadness filled his blue eyes. “I failed you, as I failed Ben once.”

 

She only begged to differ. “No. You saved us. You saved the Resistance. You didn’t abandon us; you came when hope was lost. Luke Skywalker came back.” She eyes him timidly, regretting the hateful thoughts she had once developed towards him. 

 

“I appreciate your positivity. I came to face Ben,” Luke said, nodding towards Rey, “and to apologize. I was hoping to sow the seeds of forgiveness in his heart, but I only saw how much hate lies within it - there was nothing else I could have done.”

 

There was a pause as he sighed, and Rey stayed silent, waiting for him to continue.

 

“I have observed him through the Force, Rey. He is as powerful now as he will ever be. He achieved his goal of becoming Emperor, and the galaxy is at his mercy.” 

 

Rey gulped, considering what he had said. “I - I know, the Resistance told me. I am …worried about what it is to come.”

 

Luke eyed her carefully. “I understand Master Yoda paid you a visit.”

 

“Yes. He was here. His teachings were such a blessing, but I am struggling,” Rey explained awkwardly, her eyebrows arching in a pained expression, revealing she had made little progress since Master Yoda had given her the task.

 

“Master Yoda is wise. Wiser than I will ever be. Wiser than I will ever become. You need to fulfill the task he assigned you, Rey. Ben will seek you out, and you will have to face him. You need to discover why you are linked to him in this fashion. Yoda and I have discussed this. I hadn’t understood - when I saw you both in the hut, I -.” He paused, a lump in his throat. “I am sorry for what I did; it was out of cowardice, I am afraid,” he added truthfully.

 

Rey swallowed. “I was a fool for leaving. I was a fool for accusing you, for thinking he could be turned so easily. I’ve never been so wrong in my life.  I bitterly regret it. But, Master Luke…” her voice trailed off before she got ahold of herself. “I -  please don’t judge me, but I still sense there is hope. Leia thought so too, at the very end,” she said while fidgeting with her fingers and eying her boots, not daring to look him in the eye. She was almost stammering. “The- the Bond. It gives me insights into his mind. I can sense his conflict, his doubts.”

 

Luke gazed into the distance at the grayish-blue ocean which was dotted with scattered white caps of foam, his mind on past events. 

 

“Rey. We all failed him. Han, Leia, me. His family. And now that his mother is gone…” his voice drifted, and he glanced back at her. “If anyone can still help him, it is you. This…connection, it has a meaning. The Force is bonding you for some mysterious reason which I do not know,” Luke explained, with no reproach or ire in his voice, his tone steady as he gazed at her. “When I faced him, I understood this. It was too late for me to do anything, but maybe it is not too late for you. His enraged contradictory attitude when mentioning you was not lost on me. I also sensed his conflict within the ebbs and flows of the Force,” he paused, his eyes boring into hers “as well as his attraction to you.”

 

Rey’s eyes widened, and she couldn’t contain the heat which abruptly ruddied her cheeks. Her lips twitched uncomfortably, and she struggled to verbalize her thoughts, although she was happy to see Luke seconded her opinion, which had changed dramatically since the last time he saw her. She was paralyzed with embarrassment.  Stars, Luke was his uncle

 

Sensing her vocal cords had gone mute, he changed the subject.

 

“I do feel that I owe you a third lesson for helping me find my way. What was it again, that students teach their Masters lessons?” He smiled at her warmly.

 

Hearing this, Rey recovered from her embarrassed state and gave him a shy smile.

 

“I am trying to rebuild my saber - your father’s lightsaber, and I am trying to meditate,” she added cautiously, disappointment with herself filling her voice.

 

“For the moment, let’s concentrate on that blade, shall we? It called to you. It will answer you, but you need help.”

 

...

 

...

 

 

The dying embers of the fire woke her from her reverie as a trunk of wood fell noisily. She gazed at the crimson charcoals, closing her eyes and feeling more calm and serene than she had in weeks, despite all the adverse circumstances as well as the uncertain future which lay before her.

 

At that very moment of inner peace, the whispering sounds of the Force called to her again. 

 

She quickly stood up in her bunk, the harmonic and melodic sounds ringing in her ear, exactly as they had the previous time on Akiva.

 

Her eyes darted around the room, and she noticed they emanated from the very door of her hut. 

 

This was it.

 

The Second Door had opened.

 

Knowing all too well what was at stake, her heartbeat rose dramatically, and she had to breathe in and out several times to control herself and her own excitement.

 

Then, she got to her feet and proceeded slowly towards the entrance, raising her trembling fingers towards the knob, which she grabbed and gently twisted. The old door creaked under the rusty joints.

 

It revealed the same void - pitch black, made of foggy, dark clouds, which at first seemed unwelcoming, but the soothing sounds of the Force appeased the rushing blood in her veins.

 

She entered and took a few steps into the soft ground before the door closed behind her. This time, there was no light to guide her, and she was left in total obscurity; she could only hear her the sounds of her breaths.  

 

Then, two sounds echoed from different spots at once.

 

On her left, she heard heavy breathing. But it wasn’t hers.

 

On her right, from a distant place, she heard a cry - a child’s cry she knew all too well.

 

Her head turned toward the sound of the cries, and she took a few steps before young Ben materialized again. The blurred image of him became more and more clear. Her eyes squinted, trying to distinguish the scene. He was exactly in the same position as she had left him in the last Force vision - curled up like a cat in the dark blue-lit room, rocking himself in pain and despair, his black curls flowing over his arms which were wrapped around his knees.

 

He was still weeping. But then, as she was trying to get a better look at him, Rey instantly froze.

 

His dark, burning eyes emerged from under his black locks as he lifted his face, and she felt his whole soul being sucked into the Dark Side. His innocent, childish eyes became dark and feral. He looked like a wounded animal; it seemed he was ready to kill.

 

The sight of his gaze terrified her. She took a step back, but then she held herself still and noticed a golden light glowing around him. It increased, progressively surrounding him like an aura, while threads of luminous, royal-yellow light slowly arose from his body and flowed directly toward her. The filaments spread like cobwebs and went right through her as if she were a mere ghost witnessing a scene.

 

The threads seemed to be aiming at something, and all of a sudden she heard a snuffle behind her. She turned around swiftly. A woman with dark, chestnut hair, and sun-tanned skin was sitting in what seemed to be a deserted, abandoned place which, by the looks of it, was hot and arid. She was dressed in rags, betraying her impoverished state. The setting was lit by the powerful light of the sun, and the woman was holding a bulk of white, creamy thick fabric wrapped around what appeared to be a baby, which was emitting faint grunts and moans.

 

The threads went right toward the baby. They soon circled it, wrapping the little human in their light. But the mother didn’t seem to notice them. Something drew Rey’s feet uncontrollably toward her, and when she got closer, her eyes glanced at the baby, which was now enveloped in a blanket of golden filaments. She could tell the baby was a newborn as it was so small. Its facial skin was still red and swollen, even though its eyes were wide open, already looking at the world. She got closer, and then -

 

- hazel eyes met the same shade of hazel.


And the insane truth was revealed to Rey: the baby she was gazing upon was herself.

 

Her heart skipped a beat.

 

The woman was her mother.

 

Her eyes focused on the woman, and she could now see a sticking resemblance to herself. How did she miss this? But upon this realization, her heart sank - the woman did not seem pleased at all with the baby, for she had a disgusted look all over her features at the sight of her. She didn’t try to play with the newborn either - she just looked at it with contempt, while the baby was now smiling and moaning faintly.

 

Rey was in such a state of shock she was paralyzed; her heart was beating so hard it was about to burst in her chest. Then, her eyes went back from her mother to her own self, encapsulated by the golden threads of Force light. 

 

What was happening?

 

Her gaze then returned to Ben’s side. He was still there, sobbing, and in contrast to her, he was surrounded by a dark, bluish light. The golden filaments kept emanating from him, connecting him …to her.

 

It was the Force Bond.

 

She had just witnessed how darkness had first engulfed Ben like a huge wave, breaking his soul apart forever: the day he had been abandoned by his mother at Luke’s, the same day she had been born, the same day the Force had bound their destinies together.

 

The Force had created her to balance the Dark Side growing within him.

 

She was the Force’s response to his powerful darkness, his equal in the Light.

 

Everything opposed them. He was born of Royal blood, from a powerful family of strong Force users - the legacy family that loved him and cared for him yet never understood him, causing him to sink into darkness. She, in contrast, had been born in poverty, sold for drinking money, and forced to work as a slave for years until she gained her freedom, yet the powerful Light which had entered her in her mother’s womb never abandoned her. But one thing united them: loneliness. It was this common feeling that had brought them together.

 

All of a sudden, memories poured into Rey’s mind like fresh spring water in a fountain. She recalled all those nights where someone, something, had whispered to her, making sure she was not alone. She remembered seeing visions of a young boy with black curls in daydreams, in nightmares.

 

It was him. All this time, it had been Ben. He was her Other

 

Everything now fell into place like lost pieces of a puzzle. Their familiar acquaintance, the first time she laid eyes on him, the way she had sensed he also knew her, and the ease with which their minds had fused on Starkiller base, causing the bond to finally burst open as if it had been waiting for this moment for years. And now, the way she could feel him through their connection and read him sometimes like an open book.

 

They were the two opposite halves of the Force. Chemistry and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate. Two contraries which unavoidably attracted each other.

 

The golden filaments were the invisible strings of their intertwined destinies. 

 

Rey marveled at all these revelations, and only then did she notice that thick tears had wet her cheeks and her chest was heaving hard. She closed her glistening eyes in a desperate attempt to calm herself and focused on her breathing.

 

All of a sudden, the ground collapsed under her and she was sent flying through the black void.

 

As she was being carried gently by the clouds, she dreaded the worst - witnessing Ben in his bloodied, dying state all over again, as the Force vision had shown her back on Akiva.

 

But instead, she landed smoothly on her two feet - before another Door.

 

A soft golden light, as if from the sun, was illuminating it, and the Force whispered unknown words from beyond it. 

 

She stood there and eyed it quizzically. It was wooden and ancient, with missing chunks of wood, and its round knob was made of an elegant, dark bronze metal, encrusted with small blue sapphire-like stones. A golden engraving, written in the same hieroglyphic signs as the Jedi Books, was carved in the middle of the wood and displayed clearly across it.

 

She slowly moved toward it and reached out to open the door. Instead, she found it was firmly closed. She tried to push it, helping herself with her shoulders, in vain.

 

The Door and its secrets were locked.

 

She studied it again, and since she was closer now, she noticed the sign language seemed familiar.

 

 

“I open in the bloom of harmony”

 

 

It was the same inscription as the Jedi drawing on the rock - and then, she suddenly understood.

 

The ultimate truth would only be revealed to her once she was in harmony.

 

She connected the inscription with what her first vision had revealed, and this could only mean one thing.

 

She and Ben had to find balance.

 

***

 

 

Once she was back to the hut after all these revelations, Rey had one stubborn idea in mind: finding Luke to tell him what she had discovered.

 

It was already dark. The night had fallen on Ahch-To like a dark veil, but luckily for her, the moon was so bright it illuminated the stairs that led to the Jedi Temple. She raced up them, almost two at a time as if all signs of tiredness had magically left her.

 

When she got to the main room, she called out for Luke. But, upon several desperate attempts, she found no answer to her pleas.

 

Had he left the island?

 

Rey hesitated for several minutes. The urge to share the overwhelming feelings the vision had stirred was suffocating her.

 

So she raced down to the Falcón instead. If Luke wasn't here, maybe she could share them with Ransolm through the Falcon's communication channels. She realized she hadn’t even answered his message.

 

Chewie was fast asleep the vessel’s bunks, his snores rattling the neighborhood. It was a good thing the Lanai nuns were not close to the ship because sleep would not have been possible.

 

When she got to the cockpit, she immediately picked up the green light flashing from the communicator.

 

Another message? Her heart raced as she pressed the button and Ransolm’s voice echoed through the dread of the night. 

 

"Rey. I haven’t gotten an answer from you regarding my previous message. I am worried something has happened to you. I need you, for an urgent, desperate matter. Our intelligence has received an anonymous message stating that Kylo Ren is going to cut a deal with an elaborate arms dealer on Canto Bight. His only goal is to erase the Resistance from the galaxy now that he has ascended to the throne and proclaimed himself the new Emperor. If he succeeds in cutting this deal, we have very little chance of surviving. This person, the arms dealer, I know him personally. He has very elaborate weapons - the best technology. I believe Kylo Ren is after something specific. I think I can persuade this acquaintance to change his mind, but I have to act fast. Please, this is a desperate hour. I need you to come with me; you are the only person that can protect me should I fall into Kylo Ren's hands on Canto Bight. Reach out to me - Please.”

 

Rey fell on the seat behind her, her eyes aghast. She listened to the message several times before all the information sank in.

 

Ransolm needed her. She could tell by the tone of his voice he wasn’t lying. He was desperate for her help. Moreover, she recalled she had a life debt toward him. But, Ben was probably going to be in this mysterious Canto Bight which Rose had told her so much about when they were mending the saber on Akiva.

 

Nevertheless, a crystal -clear resolution formed in her mind. She would bring the Rebellion the help they sought from her, even if they had ditched her on the furthest place of the galaxy. Even if it meant facing Ben again so soon after her discoveries and she soon realized the mere thought terrorized her as much as she was eager for it.

 

                                                                                                          ***

 

She had packed her belonging and supplies faster than the speed of light, sending an urgent message to Ransolm that she was on her way as she entered the calculations on the computer on how to get to this unknown planet.

 

She had woken up Chewie, who had all but growled in protest, while she started to prepare their departure, fiddling with supplies, tools, and random pieces of metal that Chewie had used to repair the Falcon. She had raced back to her hut, taking all the Jedi Books and her personal belonging, as well as her new Lightsaber. She realized she was thrilled to maybe make a use of it soon - it had cost her many hours of deep concentration with Luke to achieve the current setting of the blade. Excitement filled her veins all over again as she embarked on another adventure.

 

Another incoming message flashed onto her screen, and she listened to it at once.

 

“Rey. Thank the Force you are safe. I feared the worst. Let us meet on Canto Bight, you need to station the Falcon on a proper deck or you will be arrested. Use your Force powers to convince them you are there on a diplomatic mission. Canto Bight is not under the Empire’s rule - the wealthy cannot be dominated nor frightened by Kylo Ren. It will stay an independent and neutral system because of its power. It’s in their interest. This gives us more freedom to do our business. Contact me through the comm’ once you are there.”

 

They made a safe journey. As Rey eyed Canto Bight from the Falcon, she found it indeed smelled of money. She could tell, having lived most of her life on a junkyard, scavenging rusted parts and selling them to lost strangers in rags. To her utter surprise, and to Ransolm’s credit, she had no problem convincing the policemen who reached her through the communication channels to let her land, although the Falcon looked like an old piece of junk next to the fancy, imposing black and white spotless vessels stationed next to her. But she liked her piece of garbage as if she had constructed it herself - and, it was the fastest ship in the galaxy, she thought smugly.

 

She tried Ransolm again, and they fixed a rendezvous point within the city. She would have to wear her enameled mask again, and she grimaced at the thought - the bounty on her head had not yet been lifted as if Ben was still desperate to find her exact location.

 

She chose distinct kind of garments. She now wore a two-piece ensemble of the same color: a granite-grey short-sleeved tight undershirt which showed her perfectly sculpted stomach, her lower back, and which enhanced her collarbone, as well as low-waist Capri-length leggings which came down to her knees. Her usual ocean-blue long linens were flowing around her, tightened by her leather belt, and she had kept her off-white arm wraps and boots. She transformed her staff straps to adjust her new lightsaber to her back instead of her side since it’s length confined her movements. Before creeping out of the Falcon, she put on her mask.

 

As she walked through the city, she was astonished by the looks of it; she had never seen such display of wealth. The neat, beautiful ancient stone build buildings were enhanced by yellow lit-framed doors, and every person she passed by was so elegantly dressed it seemed they were going to the galaxy’s fanciest ball. In contrast, and despite her appealing physique, she felt like a complete foreigner with her old-fashioned, samurai-styled garments.

 

By chance, it wasn’t difficult for her to find Ransolm’s meeting point, at the cross of two streets, and they fell in each other’s arms, as he pulled her into a tight hug. Before they separated, he put his two hands on her shoulders to better look at her eyes, despite the apparatus covering her face.

 

“I am so glad to see you are in good health. The expression in your eyes has changed. Something tells me you have much to say,” he stated, eyeing every detail of her hazel gaze.

 

Rey again admired the Casterfoe’s precision in his observations. It was obvious he had been trained by years of dealing with diplomats and politicians, trying to read and decipher what their lying faces were saying. She could certainly use a bit more of this knowledge, she told herself.

 

“I sure have - but it is a long -”

 

She stopped dead, and quickly peered around her, a frightened look washing over her features. 

 

“What is it?” inquired Ransolm at once, concern coloring his voice.

 

“Ransolm, we gotta - ”

 

She couldn’t finish the sentence, and he immediately understood why when his gaze veered to where she was glancing. 

 

A group of black flying motor-bikes had just turned around the corner, and their roaring motors were scaring all the pedestrians who were going about their daily business.

 

Rey and Ransolm simply didn’t have time to race out - the engines had already encircled them. They were utterly trapped. Acting on mere survival instinct, Rey jumped in front of Ransolm, shielding him for his protection by drawing her lightsaber out from behind her back, but she didn’t ignite it. Her heart raced so fast she felt it was going to burst open, but she still focused all her senses on their opponents.

 

Rey could now see the black-clad figures riding the bikes, all masked by differently crafted metal helmets.

She counted their number: there were seven figures.

 

The Knights of Ren, she thought to herself. Kriff. She tore her mask off her face, baring her teeth in anticipation.

 

The man at the center of the group raised his gloved hands toward his face, and before he even moved a finger - Rey already knew.

 

He unclasped the metal latch of his black-and-red helmet and pulled it over his head, his black, luscious locks flowing freely.  

 

Kylo and Rey were staring at each other in the flesh for the first time since the Throne Room.

 

 

Chapter Text

Rey’s jaw went slack at the mere sight of him.

 

Kylo was wearing a black tunic with a short collar that was open at the neck. It was reinforced by biker’s rubber protections over the elbows and shoulders and some tight, dark leather trousers with high boots. She couldn’t tear her eyes off his fitted attire which enhanced his broad figure perfectly. The truth was he looked way too appealing.

 

Slamming the helmet onto his bike seat, Kylo took a few steps towards her, his dark eyes boring into hers like burning flames.

 

Kylo was equally shaken by her appearance, especially by her bare, lean midriff and perfectly sculpted stomach - not to mention how the pair of tight fitted leggings defined the curve of her hips and the shape of her long legs. He was beyond ecstatic to see her again; however, given the circumstances, he quickly regained his composure.

 

“Well, well, what do we have here?” he finally asked, with a smug smirk on his face. Rey tried to steady herself, but her heart was pounding hard against her chest. The mere sight of him in the flesh after so much time shook her to the core. There was something… different about him she couldn’t quite pin down. Rey could read the triumphant look on his face, but she didn’t know what to expect, so she remained silent.

 

Suddenly, out of nowhere a small squadron of First Order stormtroopers came racing toward them led by a ginger-haired man who was wearing an impeccable First Order uniform. His body was straight and rigid with his hands clasped behind his back. Hux stationed his troops just behind the seven motorbikes.

 

Turning to eye him, Kylo noticed Hux recognized the girl because he frowned and gave him a disgusted look.

 

Kylo cast a warning glance at him before speaking. “General Hux, this is my business. I warn you not to interfere,” he snapped, turning his head back toward the more important matter at stake.

 

Hux only sniffed and glared at him with silent loathing, although his lips were twitching. 

 

Rey picked up on the man immediately: this was Hux, the man who was responsible for Leia’s death. How could Ben work with this piece of scum? The very idea made Rey sick to her stomach, and she felt rising anger coursing through her veins.

 

Without warning, another slim black figure got off a bike and stood there eyeing her from behind the mask. Rey could sense the Dark Side rippling around the black knight; it was so powerful that she instinctively slid her right leg behind her, settling herself into a defensive position.

 

Feeling it as well, Kylo also looked at the knight.

 

“Vrieska, don’t!” he ordered the knight, and Rey knew then the figure was a woman . Kylo veered in another direction towards a figure which had not yet moved from its vehicle.

 

“Jendi, take that man where he belongs,” Kylo ordered. “We don’t need him here.”

 

Rey quickly understood he was talking about Ransolm, and she was not going to let that happen. 

 

“You’ll touch him over my dead body, Ben!” she hissed, causing everyone to stiffen at the name.

 

Kylo frowned. Baring his teeth, an angry look washed over his features and he clenched his fists firmly at his sides.

 

Rey didn’t resist the temptation of pushing his buttons.

 

“Oh. Nobody knows of our acquaintance ?” Rey mused almost ironically, a large grin crossing her face as she stared at him.

 

That had the most unexpected consequences.

 

There was a tremor in the Force, and the slim figure that had gotten off the bike took several steps toward Rey. Luke’s warning flashed in her mind.

 

Rey raised a small staff back toward the knight, but Kylo noticed right away that something was incredibly wrong. She was holding it in a strange fashion; instead of pointing it toward her enemy, she was grabbing it horizontally with one hand. As a result, it wasn't aimed directly at her opponent.

 

Rey concentrated all her willpower. Clenching her eyes shut, she channeled the Force through her hands.

 

All of a sudden, the staff ignited on one side, and a clear sky-blue light illuminated her face. Before Kylo had time to pick up on what was happening, the other end of the staff ignited, revealing a royal-blue shade, and the saber took on a more unstable, crackling appearance.

 

Kylo’s jaw almost hit the floor. She had built a double-bladed lightsaber. Kriff , he literally couldn’t believe it.

 

Rey glanced at Kylo’s astonished, awestruck face: it was priceless.

 

She breathed again. For a short moment, she thought the blade wasn’t going to ignite. It never had . Luke had told her the blade needed a purpose to function. It would require her willing a fight since the new Kyber crystal in its core was like a living object; it required concentration toward the risk at stake, enabling the blade to respond and protect her. Upon leaving Ahch-To, Rey had been entirely unsure it would respond to her.

 

But it did . Rey marveled at the lightsaber's distinct, calm sound of one end fusing with the crackling sound of the other. She had removed and used the legacy lightsaber’s Kyber crystal and used the one robbed on Kafrene. That crystal in particular had called to her and proved itself more complicated to use while assembling the blade. Now she understood why: its spitting sounds and distinctive unstable shape reminded her of Kylo’s blade, despite the color which was deep royal-blue.

 

She didn’t marvel long before the knight dashed toward her without warning. Barely having time to register the attack, Rey screeched at Ransolm to move away. She was about to swing the lightsaber and strike the knight, but the figure dashed to the ground and rolled over her head with the dexterity of a cat, landing directly behind her.

 

Rey had only managed to turn around before a foot crashed into her saber-staff, sending it flying into the air, disarming her on the spot. Rey was about to summon it back before a fist punched her in the face. Soon, the figure was all over her, its arms wrapped around her neck and her torso, Rey could only lean forward as she tried to wrench herself from the firm grip. Bringing the warrior’s body over her back, the move only resulted in the mask coming off its owner’s head. And before she even realized, Rey had a sharp, cold knife right under her chin. Small but strong arms were strangling her.

 

When did -

 

Rey cried out as she felt hot breath on her neck and suddenly, a profile with crystal- piercing blue eyes and straight black hair appeared within her eyesight. “Don’t move,” the woman hissed. Kriff . Rey froze before her lethal beauty, with only a second to fear for dear life .  

 

“Vrieska! Stop!” Kylo’s raw scream suddenly echoed throughout the street.

 

Rey shivered slightly before she felt the woman’s resolution waver, and she saw her from the corner of her eye staring at Kylo.

 

“Master! She is a danger to us. She is a Jedi - the ones we have sworn to erase from the galaxy!” she all but snarled, the knife now pressing against Rey’s throat. She had a distinct feeling Vrieska was almost pleading with him to kill her. She couldn’t move due to the sharp blade now slowly cutting into her skin, and her eyes flickered back to Kylo’s in a rush of panic.

 

Their eyes met, and then with a foot stomp he ignited his crackling lightsaber and pointed it right toward them. Rey knew it wasn't directed at her. Now she saw his dark, venomous gaze from behind the blade directed only at Vrieska, its red and yellow light reflected against his features, lighting his eyes ablaze. 

 

“I said - Stop! That is an order! ” he howled menacingly, his voice now enraged. 

 

There was a pause. Rey felt the warrior contemplating her options, but Vrieska didn't release her from her grasp.

 

–Suddenly, the knight slammed her back, and Rey ended up on the floor before immediately rising to her feet, but Vrieska had already summoned her lightsaber to her right hand. Taking a few steps around her, Vrieska circled her like a predator ready to kill her prey, while eyeing her with hate. Her crystal-blue eyes suddenly darted back to Kylo’s as she cast him a contemptuous look.

 

Ransolm ran back toward Rey, checking to see if she was alright. They were trapped. This knight was way more dangerous than Rey could possibly have imagined. But now she knew what she had to do.

 

She turned around to face Kylo again.

 

“Let Ransolm go; he has nothing to do with this,” she pleaded, trying to sound steady as she attempted to master her rushing emotions.

 

Kylo scoffed, straightening as he turned off his lightsaber. Ransolm . He recalled that name for an unknown reason. Eyeing him closely now, his face looked oddly familiar. Where had he seen him? Taking a moment to get ahold of himself, Kylo’s eyes flickered back to hers.

 

“You’re in no position to negotiate.” His tone was almost cold, but Rey could sense he was faking it. His fragile, almost sensitive face could be read like an open book.

 

Truth be told, the sight of another man - and a handsome one at that - around the woman who had been the center of his night and daydreams for weeks was unbearable to him. And an ugly feeling caused his stomach to clench at the sight of them.

 

“So tell us, what you would give in return for letting him go?” he continued, sarcasm filling his voice while the other knights chuckled beside Vrieska.

 

Rey stood before him, a devilish glint in her eyes as she challenged him with an almost seductive tone.

 

“Me.”

 

Kylo froze .

 

In fact, everybody fell silent until Ransolm cut in. “Rey, don’t do this,” he pleaded with her. “It’s madness!”

 

Rey only flicked her eyes at him with a smile and inaudibly whispered, “I know what I’m doing.” Ransolm contemplated her with a mixture of awe and concern. He swallowed hard but added nothing.

 

The rest of the crowd glanced at Kylo, awaiting his answer to this so-called 'offer.' She had trapped him, and they both knew it. Oh, but the expression on his face had been the best reward!

 

“Jendi. Escort them to the prison. We’ll figure out what to do with them later,” he grumbled in a low voice as he summoned Rey’s lightsaber from Vrieska’s hand into his. Jendi Ren walked determinedly toward Ransolm as Rey took some steps back, which had not been lost on Kylo.

 

“If I were you, I wouldn’t put up a fight. Unless you want to watch that precious lightsaber of yours be destroyed by my own hands,” he warned her. Now that he had a grip on her, he wasn’t about to let her go.

 

“That’s called blackmail, ” she retorted. Finally, she let Jendi Ren attach cuffs to her wrists.

 

Kylo turned around, hopping on his speeder bike and gesturing toward the rest of the knights to follow him without casting her another glance. Rey and Ransolm were then led to an unknown destination.

 

Vrieska Ren remained behind, dejected as she watched her fellow knights disappear over the horizon. With a heavy sigh, she proceeded to collect her mask.

 

General Hux had stayed too, his blue eyes examining her like a laboratory rat. Approaching a stormtrooper, he gave the order for departure. Watching the squadron leave, Hux proceeded to slowly approach her.

 

Vrieska watched him as he came closer, and a defiant, superior look washed over her face at the sight of him. 

 

“May I have a word with you, Vrieska Ren?” inquired Hux in his most cordial, honeyed voice.

 

Raising a brow, she eyed him from top to bottom.

 

“It’s about your Master .”

 

                                                                                                          ***

 

Rey and Ransolm ended up in a dark and gloomy stale cell of Canto Bight’s prison. She couldn’t believe she had ended up exactly where Rose and Finn had been. Furrowing her brows, she couldn’t figure out why the place had sounded vaguely familiar. They had told her everything about their escape, and soon the memory of her lost friends made her heart sink. Her eyes flickered up toward Ransolm, who was sitting across her on a stone bunk.

 

How long was Ben going to keep them here anyway?

 

Several hours had already gone by, and self-doubt was slowly starting to consume her soul.

 

Rey retrieved the hidden communication device she kept on her always so she could keep in touch with Chewie. She recorded a quick message for him to summarize the situation, assuring him not to worry. She insisted she wanted to stay here rather than attempt an escape and asked for him to wait for her.

 

“Rey,” Ransolm suddenly asked, “Why did you surrender so easily to Kylo Ren?” There was no reproach in his question.

 

A faint, apologizing smile crossed her lips. 

 

“They were too many of them. There was no point. You saw her - that knight. Her Force signature was so strong and wicked she scared me. But, you heard him, he doesn't want any harm done to me. I can use that to set you free. I'm just - so sorry. I was more of a burden than of any help. Because of me, you got caught right away. Apparently, I'm not a good asset on these missions," she answered honestly, looking ashamed while eyeing her boots.

 

“Don’t apologize. We had no way of knowing he was here already. We had inside information stating that he wouldn’t be, but I guess we have to review the reliability of those informants,” he answered, a resigned look in his blue eyes. “Besides,” he added, “without you, I would probably already be dead. If you can get me free, I may still be able to do something. Had he found out about my mission, he would have killed me on the spot.”

 

Somehow, listening to him talk about Ben killing him made Rey extremely uncomfortable since had just saved her life from that blue-eyed woman. Sometimes, she found it hard to believe he could be such a beastly, cold-blooded killer. But then…she remembered.

 

Han .

 

He was a murderer…scratch that, he had committed patricide . The recollection made her heart contract.

 

But he had saved her life again today. Making it twice now - twice he had risked his own life, and now his honor , to save her. How was she supposed to deal with this? Kriff, how was she ever going to find balance with such a man? Why did the Force throw her, of all people in the galaxy, into this world with such an impossible mission on her hands? She lingered on their connection, and all of a sudden, her eyes went back to her companion. 

 

“Ransolm. I have something to tell you.”

 

                                                                                                           ***

 

Meanwhile, Hux led Vrieska Ren aboard the Supremacy. Being in somewhat of a hurry, he walked with long strides throughout the corridors of the mega star-destroyer. At the end of a hallway, Hux stopped before a door, abruptly turning on his heel to face her. 

 

“If you would, please…” he gestured for her to enter the room.

 

Vrieska eyed him carefully, trying to decipher if this was a trap or not. Should Kylo Ren find out about this, she would be killed in an instant. The truth was, she had been genuinely surprised when Hux dared to approach her. Moreover, he seemed to be withholding some very important piece of information. Curiosity had gotten the better of her. After watching him carefully, she found no deceptive signs on his pale face and entered the room.

 

Hux invited her to sit in a black leather chair before a counter which showed a computer screen. Hesitating before doing so, she glanced at him once again before finally obliging. 

 

Sitting at the edge of the counter facing her, Hux asked with a mysterious cold voice,

 

“Vrieska Ren, what exactly did Kylo Ren tell you about our Supreme Leader’s death?”

 

Her eyes immediately darted up to him . Did he just -?

 

She swallowed while rendering an awkward pause.

 

“He told us this girl , this Jedi , had killed Leader Snoke,” she answered, unable to contain the contempt and hatred she felt after the scene she had just witnessed. It was obvious this girl knew Kylo, considering she had offended him by calling him by his given name - an offense that anyone would have paid for with their life. Worse, Vrieska had sensed immediately she had the soul of a true Jedi, that she would never turn to the Dark Side as Kylo once said he thought she would. They had sworn to eradicate the remaining Jedi from the galaxy after Luke’s Skywalker’s betrayal. They had built the Order of the Knights of Ren for this sole purpose. She didn’t recognize that same Master who had ordered her to spare the Jedi’s life. Upon seeing all his reactions, she suspected the unthinkable , but she had been unable to confess this terrible truth to herself just yet. 

 

Hux’s piercing blue eyes met hers as he bent over the counter, his face near hers.

 

“Your Master is a liar ,” he all but whispered.

 

Vrieska’s eyes widened, shocked at the accusation before baring her teeth. How dare he?

 

“Prove it,” she sneered.

 

Hux didn’t need to be told twice. Turning the computer on, he inserted a file he had removed from his jacket into the computer. Since this piece of information was highly classified, he kept it day and night in a secret pocket he had sewn in his jacket. Selecting the file, he waited for it to be displayed on the screen. 

 

He attentively watched Vrieska’s face as she progressively lost her composure as the holo’s content unfolded, and completely so when Kylo Ren had offered this nobody to rule the galaxy with him.

 

Vrieska was completely taken aback. Her crestfallen look bespoke of her shattered dreams. Had he doubted it when he witnessed the earlier scene on Canto Bight, he was now sure that Vrieska Ren held secret feelings for her Master, deep-rooted ones, and not only of loyalty . If there was a powerful motive for betrayal nested within the human soul, it was jealousy .

 

As the holo ended, Hux switched the computer off and returned the file to his jacket once again. 

 

Vrieska’s eyes were blurred as if looking into an empty void. Her chest was heaving hard as her gloved hands grasped the edge of the seat. Her worst nightmares had morphed into reality - and she felt hurt to the very core. Kylo had not only lied about Snoke, but lied about his true intentions towards this woman. He never truly planned on them ruling the galaxy as Dark Force users; he wanted this woman by his side as an Empress . What was so special about her? Other than being a creature of the Light, the Light Kylo had specifically fought against all his life? Her mind raced. It made no sense to her as she struggled to find an explanation.

 

Hux started circling her from behind, his pace slow and calculated like that of a predator ready to pounce on his already wounded prey.

 

“Vrieska Ren, the most lethal of the Knights of Ren.  Your reputation has no equal within your Order. Your Master is a liar and a traitor . Will you let this go unpunished? Will you let him rule the galaxy with this…nobody? I hear the Dark Side users have a code of honor,” he hissed like a snake in her ears, sowing the destructive seeds of doubt and revenge within her already tainted soul.

 

Hux’s words added fuel to the raging fire. As much as she loathed the man, she was forced to admit that he was right; she had witnessed the truth behind everything mere seconds ago. Now there was no more hiding.

 

Closing her eyes, she took several seconds to think . Kylo had lied to them - lied to her - after all these years. How could he do such a thing? She then remembered the argument they had in the meeting room. How he had yelled at her, something he had never dared to do before. Then, something happened to him, and he just left the room with no explanation other than his reddened cheeks. Did it have anything to do with this girl? Recalling all these scattered elements, it was crystal clear in her mind - he had changed. And the awful truth rumbled in her mind like thunder: he had feelings for this woman. Those same feelings he had vowed to eradicate from his very soul by tapping into the Dark Side by killing his father. He had failed .

 

Slowly turning her head to face Hux again, she abruptly stood to her full height, her eyes never once leaving his. Their size difference was not an issue, as she was quite tall herself.

 

"Why are you showing me all this?" she asked at once, with an ice-cold tone.

 

“Kylo Ren is a traitor. A traitor to the First Order. A traitor to you. My men answer only to me.   With the military machine, I can overthrow him,” he told her convincingly before briefly pausing, boring his eyes into hers. “I will cut a deal with you, but only if you help me see this through.”

 

Vrieska contemplated his offer for a moment longer.

 

“Your men are nothing compared to the power of the Force. Kylo Ren is the most powerful Force user I know of,” she argued back, challenging him.

 

“You are a very valuable asset. Without you, it would be difficult, although not impossible…”

 

“It would take more than your men, and even me , to take him down,” she added defiantly, closing the small distance between them as she pointed her chin up toward him.

 

Hux quirked a brow at her in amusement.

 

“If I may, you seem to be underestimating two things: the power of surprise and the power of modern technology. You would be amazed by my latest invention, Vrieska Ren.” A malicious grin crossed over his pale features.

 

Her curiosity now piqued, she scanned his eyes for any sign of a lie but found none. She loathed the man, who was clearly her inferior, but he was cold, cruel and calculating. She could actually relate to that .

 

“Will you help me?”

 

                                                                                                              ***

 

Rey jerked from her sleep when she heard the loud noise of keys rattling. When had she fallen asleep? What time was it? She then vaguely recalled her conversation with Ransolm. She had told him everything she had discovered on Ahch-To, about her bond with Ren and how the Force had linked them since her birth. It appeared to change some things about Ransolm’s perspective over the case, but he still warned her that from what he had witnessed, Kylo was lethal and dangerous. He was astonished and amazed to hear about Luke’s Force ghost as they had talked late into the night. Then, exhausted by morning, she had most likely fallen asleep.

 

As the memories of the previous day poured into her mind, her heart sank as she realized that Ben had left her all night. As if she was mere dirt in a stale cell - and she was freezing . Judging by the small shades of sunlight pouring into the cell and the state of hunger she felt, it was probably already late in the day. Was that any way to treat a lady? Disappointment kicked in, and she hated herself for having even hoped for a better treatment. So much for his royal upbringing ; he had absolutely no manners at all.

 

She didn’t have much time to think about it, for a guard was now opening the door.

 

But soon, Rey gasped as she saw a black-clad figure hidden under a cowl approaching slowly behind the officer, and recognized his Force signature immediately. 

 

She stood up in anticipation and took a few steps towards the door. Ransolm, who had just woken up, sat on the edge of his bunk.

 

Kylo stepped into the dark cell, his hands grabbing the cowl and removing it from his head. His eyes flickered immediately to hers as their gazes met. Rey noticed he had changed back into a black tunic. This time it resembled the one he wore on Starkiller base during their first duel, only this one had long black linens that flowed around him, giving him a more regal appearance. 

 

After a few moments, his eyes moved over to Ransolm at the other side of the cell.

 

“Ransolm Casterfoe, ex-senator and opponent of Leia Organa,” he stated in a solemn voice before adding, “it took me a while to recognize you. I spent the entire evening reviewing the holo library.”

 

Ransolm arched an eyebrow, a quizzical expression washing over his features.

 

“How do you know me? I do not recall having the pleasure of being introduced,” he stated, in such a political fashion that Rey had to suppress a laugh. 

 

“In a way, I should be grateful to you. It is through you and your betrayal of Leia Organa that I learned of my true heritage,” he answered, his dark eyes scanning his blue ones to perceive every detail of his reaction to this revelation.

 

Ransolm’s eyebrows furrowed, but he said nothing.

 

Kylo turned to Rey, who was so astonished her mouth had opened in shock before Kylo explained.

 

“It seems you have a fondness for traitors, Rey. This man here,” he stated, pointing a gloved finger at Ransolm, “betrayed Leia Organa by revealing to the whole galaxy that Darth Vader was her father. An intel she had disclosed to everyone, including her own son.”

 

His gaze bore into hers so intensely it had almost burnt. But he then continued,

 

“I discovered my true heritage, that I was the grandson of Darth Vader, when Casterfoe’s speech was broadcast. It was information that Luke had also conveniently hidden from me. The coward was too afraid of the consequences that such information could have on my tormented soul,” he said with blatant cynicism. “All of them are made of the same material: liars and traitors.”

 

Ransolm cut in quickly. “I do not deny that I betrayed her. But, your skills at unveiling the truth lack precision, I am afraid. It was unintentional. I was lured by a fellow senator into believing your mother had deceived me. Leia understood this. Why do you think your mother turned to me in her most desperate hour?”

 

Kylo’s eyes narrowed at him, his face contorted with contempt. "That woman has nothing to do with me; she betrayed her own - "

 

 “Your mother was killed by none other than your own henchmen. Speaking of betrayal , you should maybe look at yourself in a mirror , Ben Solo,” Casterfoe snapped.

 

Kylo stopped dead. His fists clenched tightly at his sides, and Rey began to sense his anger rising exponentially.

 

“You know nothing of me. My mother was always an idealistic fool. Once a traitor, always a traitor,” he growled back like an animal.

 

“Your mother knew one word which doesn't appear to be part of your vocabulary: forgiveness.” Ransolm spat defiantly at him.

 

Upon hearing this , something snapped within Kylo. With a hiss, he swiftly raised his hand to attack Ransolm, but Rey anticipated the move and dashed between the two of them, facing Kylo. 

 

“Stop!” she screamed, spreading her arms so Kylo could not target Ransolm with hurting her, preventing him from harming his opponent.

 

Kylo lashed out at her. “ Why are you protecting him? Get out of the way!”

 

“Ben, that’s enough!”

 

Don’t call me that, desert rat !” he snarled, his obsidian eyes burning with bloodlust.

 

The insult was like an arrow to her heart, but Rey didn’t flinch. Standing tall, her eyes bore into his.

 

“Calm down. Please .”

 

Kylo’s chest heaved with deep, heavy breaths. He was about to hurl an insult at Rey when Ransolm’s steady voice filled the room.

 

“Leia sacrificed herself to save Rey. Please, don’t harm her. She is only protecting me because I asked her to.” Kylo’s jealous tone was not lost on Ransolm, whose observation skills were far too developed to miss such a crucial piece of information. He suddenly understood why Kylo had truly lashed out at him.

 

At this revelation, Kylo’s eyes widened in shock. Slowly lowering his hand, he stared, astonished and at a loss for words at Rey, whose own eyes were also glistening now.

 

“Is - is it true?” he asked her, his voice shaking with disbelief.

 

Rey lowered her arms hesitantly.

 

“Yes.”

 

Kylo straightened, his eyes never leaving hers as his fist unclenched at his side, allowing this unexpected information to sink in. Leia had sacrificed herself to save Rey. Guilt suddenly surged from the deepest part of his soul as he lowered his gaze, his eyes now filled with only pain.

 

Rey took the opportunity to plead her case.

 

“Please, let him go. He has nothing to do with any of this.”

 

Kylo struggled to get a grip on himself as his eyes flickered back to hers. “I cannot do that. He’s a member of the Rebellion, and I will not allow him to be set free. No matter what you say or do,” he added, as he approached her. Instinctively,  her legs were about to take a step back before he grabbed her arm. She barely had time to register the feeling of his heat through his gloves before his face neared hers. “As for you , you’re coming with me .”

 

Turning back toward the door, Kylo pulled her arm as Rey tried to wrench herself free. But, understanding he wasn’t allowing it, she had no choice but to follow.

 

She quickly turned her head around toward Ransolm, “I’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

 

“I know,” he only answered back. He didn’t know what Kylo’s intentions were, but he understood he wouldn’t harm her. Kylo cast him a scornful and contemptuous glare before leading Rey out of the cell.

 

“What are you going to do with him?” she inquired while walking next to him, his grip still possessively firm on her arm as if he were expecting her to attempt to escape.

                                                                                                                

“You seem to take a particular interest in that man,” he retorted coldly, peering at her from the corner of his eye. Rey felt the sensation of heat flood her cheeks. Was he…was he jealous ? A small smile crept across her face at the realization as she followed Kylo out of the prison.

 

He led her through the streets of Canto Bight until they reached an imposing, ancient majestic building which seemed more like a palace than anything else. He finally released her arm as they entered, and she sensed he relaxed a bit when he placed a hand on the small of her back as he guided her along.

 

She was amazed at the arcades and the succession of arches supported by engraved columns, and the high ceilings gave the overall building a sensation of vast space. An elegant deep-red thick carpet covered the floor with crimson and golden tapestries covering the walls bearing unknown insignias and blazons. The marble stairs were big enough to allow multitudes of people to ascend. The yellow, glimmering lights gave the place a dim and warm touch. The old-fashioned appearance of the building was balanced by very sophisticated technology, that of modern infrastructure, and a fancy elevator encased within a wall. Upon entering it, Kylo then selected the 5th floor.

 

When the elevator doors opened, Kylo led her through another corridor towards a modern door, where he entered a code, and it abruptly opened. He invited her to precede him.

 

The room was as elegant as the rest of the place. The interior had been furnished with large, burgundy armchairs and sofas as well as a small table in the middle. The walls were covered with wooden shelves which displayed dozens of stored files and holos. But what caught her eye the most was the old-fashioned wooden desk with a large leather armchair behind it. The desk was filled with books - real paper ones, like her own Jedi texts. She then picked up the ink, quills and old parchments rolled up on the desk. She couldn’t help thinking he had the most exquisite taste, as well as an apparent appreciation of old-fashioned customs.

 

“Your office, I presume?” she asked, turning around to face him. He finished murmuring an order she couldn’t overhear into a comlink on the wall, then turned and strode toward her. He eyed her from top to bottom, a motion so subtle Rey almost didn’t catch it.

 

“I admire your perspicacity,” he stated coolly, almost bemused.

 

Was he making fun of her?

 

She couldn’t help thinking how his behavior had changed completely now that they were alone, but before she could say anything, he closed the distance between them and his broad frame towered over her. Her eyes fluttered up to his as her lips parted slightly. His gaze was simply hypnotizing, and she couldn’t prevent herself from noticing how tender it felt.

 

Her breath hitched when he raised his gloved hand to her face, cupping her chin as he brushed his thumb against her cheek absently, almost as if he was removing something from her face while observing her closely.

 

“Which desert planet were you on in the galaxy this time? Your face is covered with dirt,” he asked, puzzlement evident in his voice.

 

Rey found herself blushing before she composed herself.

 

“You said it yourself. I’m a desert rat ,” she quipped, recalling his earlier affront.  

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

Somehow, the words ‘sorry’ and ‘Kylo Ren’ didn’t match. She stared at him in awe, completely at a loss for words. When she was just about to ask why he had been such an ass to her, he started eyeing her hair and playing with one of her locks, causing her mind to go blank.  

 

“Your hair is disgusting.”

 

She snorted. “Oh. And those are the words of an Emperor , your Highness ?” she retorted, arching an eyebrow and stressing the honorific titles with blatant sarcasm.  

 

Their eyes met again, and a faint smirk crossed his lips. Such fire in those hazel eyes , he thought. He loved when she was fierce, proud, and dared to challenge him. What he really wanted to do was press his lips to hers, but he didn’t dare make a move.

 

“And besides, it’s not that bad.” She toyed with one of her locks before her voice trailed off… Ok, well, maybe she did need a bit of cleaning.

 

“You need a bath. Desperately.” Kylo pressed the point.

 

Tempted to ask if he was going to bathe her, a sudden growl came from her stomach. Immediately wrapping her arms around herself, she eyed him with an apologetic expression.

 

“Make that a starving desert rat,” he teased.

 

Oh, she could have slapped him!

 

“I already ordered food; I figured you must be hungry,” he then explained.

 

“So kind of you. You did let me starve for a whole night in that horrid cell,” she stressed with a grimace.

 

He cleared his throat. “I guess I’ll make it up to you tonight.”

 

What -?

 

Before she could inquire what he had meant exactly by that, a bell rung and he was already walking swiftly toward the door to open it.

Chapter Text

 

She ate like a pig.

 

Kylo was sitting on the burgundy sofa across Rey, two elbows resting on his knees. She was bending over a big tray which rested in front of her on a coffee table. He blinked several times as he watched her eat - scratch that, devour her meal. He didn't know which was worse: the fact that she obviously didn't have a clue how to use cutlery and was using her hands, or that she ate so fast and with her mouth so full that she even had a hard time swallowing.

 

“Have you ever even seen a fork or a knife in your life?” he questioned, taken aback by her lack of manners.

 

“Uh? Waz ar zou sayin?” she mumbled but her mouth was so stuffed she couldn’t pronounce anything correctly.

 

Kylo raised an eyebrow and his nose wrinkled. “Swallow that first,” he commanded in disbelief.  

 

Rey obeyed, while her right hand reached for the glass of sweet fruit juice. “I’ve never eaten anything so good in my entire life!” she explained apologetically, before drinking up the liquid, eyeing him from behind the glass rim.

 

“It seems you haven’t had a proper meal in ages,” he continued, trying to find an explanation while his eyes scanned her arms and collarbone. “You’ve even lost weight.”

 

Rey pursed her lips at the observation. “I’ve been living off green milk, fish and whatever I could dig up to find to survive,” she clarified so he would stop giving her that look.

 

“Once a scavenger, always a scavenger, I guess,” he quipped, before adding, watching her now wipe her mouth with the palm of her hand, “But I will teach you how to eat properly. You’re a mess.”

 

Rey rolled her eyes before concentrating back on his smug gaze. “Not everyone was brought up with riches. And I don’t need a teacher,” she mused, and Kylo immediately picked up her reference to his former offer back on Starkiller Base. He held her gaze in silence, and Rey understood where his thoughts were heading. Before he could even mention anything, she changed the subject.

 

“Anyway, thanks for the meal,” she said genuinely, peering at him. Her arms were now hanging between her parted legs and her chest bending forward. Kylo couldn’t help noticing that the way she was sitting enhanced the curve of her hips beautifully - not even mentioning she was showing just the right amount of cleavage, and before his thought drifted elsewhere, he rose to his full height.

 

“Let me show you the apartment and your quarters,” he said invitingly.  

 

Rey blinked.

 

“My what?” she inquired in utter disbelief.

 

“You heard me. Or would you rather go back to the stale cell?” he mused.

 

Rey was so astonished, she stayed silent and just stared at him. She hadn’t known quite what to expect when she saw him coming into the dark cell back in the prison, but her sharing a place with him was not amongst her possibilities.

 

Nevertheless, now feeling genuinely curious, she got to her feet and followed him as he walked towards a door on the right side of the office. Now that she thought of it, this looked like an office, but it could also have been a very fancy vestibule where he could receive people and work.

 

After all, he was the Emperor now. The mere thought made her shiver.

 

Kylo showed her through the ‘apartment’, which only had that name to it. It was so immense she was absolutely convinced she would get lost, since it covered a whole floor of the building. It had many rooms and was as elegantly decorated as the one she had just had her meal in, with burgundy and brown leather furniture, wooden shelves, tables and chairs.

 

At last, Kylo stopped in front of a door and invited her to precede him.

 

“These are your quarters,” he stated as she entered and marveled at the place. It was in-suite and was provided with a dressing room. The walls were white and ornamented with golden patterns, while the high ceilings and large bay windows let the sunlight pour in, giving the place an enchanted appearance. It had an alcove, with a tall mirror encrusted into the wall. The furniture was wooden and old-fashioned, like the rest of the place. Of course, she immediately noticed the large canopy bed which seemed oh so inviting. Then, she was drawn to the largest window which had a wonderful view of the city and the main street of Canto Bight.

 

Rey turned around to face Kylo; he was leaning against the wall with his shoulder, while his leg was crossed in front of the other and he seemed to be watching her every move. She saw him pressing a commlink, his eyes never leaving hers “Tell Shaia to come up.”

 

Rey cocked her head, narrowing her eyes. “Who’s Shaia?” she asked tentatively.

 

"You'll see," is the only answer she got before he entered yet another adjacent door, and she suddenly heard the water run. She followed him, and it was, in fact, a ‘fresher. Kylo was bending over a marble round tub which could easily fit four people; he had started the water, which was now flowing freely and filling the tub. He straightened before taking a few steps toward her, and she lifted her chin to meet his gaze.

 

"I told you, you need a bath," he said in a steady tone, eyeing her almost with care while moving toward the door.

 

She just couldn’t resist.

 

"Aren't you taking it with me?" she asked devilishly before a small but wicked smirk drew on her lips "I've already seen everything anyway.

 

Kylo stopped dead before her and his face turned various shades of crimson, and her heart melted. The man had absolutely no clue of his good looks and the power they had over her. His previous self-confidence during their Force bond had vanished as if summoned by a magic wand and he looked utterly embarrassed.

 

But for the first time since she had caught him masturbating during their Force connection, she saw his eyes filled with lust.

 

He swallowed hard and was now eying her lips with unabashed hunger, while his generous, pouty pink mouth was slightly parted, and she just couldn't tear her eyes off it. He raised his gloved hand and settled a finger under her chin, lifting it up so her gaze would actually meet his, and his eyes were so intense they felt like burning red charcoals.

 

“You’re a demon. Don’t tempt me, or I won’t answer for my actions."

 

The sound of his low, raspy voice sent an electric chill through Rey’s spine. She was about to whisper something back to him, but, before she knew it, someone knocked on the bathroom door before was opening it, and both of them froze on the spot.

 

“Ah, there you are,” an old voice, with a strong Coruscant accent filled the ‘fresher.  

 

Kylo turned around swiftly while Rey tilted her head to the side and peered behind him.

 

“Ah, Shaia… hello,” greeted Kylo, torn between relief and frustration. He had completely forgotten he had requested her to come assist him, and it was all Rey’s fault.

 

An old—but tall, slim woman, with gray-whitish hair drawn up in a single, stylish bun and wearing a pair of half-moon golden spectacles—stood in the ‘fresher’s doorway. She appeared to be so ancient that it was difficult to estimate her age; however, when she closed the distance between them, Rey noticed she walked with steady, firm steps.

 

“So, here is the lady…” she said while her eyes moved from Kylo to Rey from behind her spectacles, while her arms were behind her back.

 

“Rey, this is Shaia. She has been assisting me since my ascension. She will take care of you. Shaia, this is Rey.”

 

Shaia glanced at Rey and extended a long, slim-fingered hand to her. “It is a pleasure to meet you, my Lady,” she said with a small bow.

 

They shook hands. Rey immediately noticed her hands were warm and welcoming and it gave her a good impression of the ancient woman. She exuded something so aristocratic and she was so elegantly dressed, with a white and black dress that suited her figure, that Rey had a hard time not staring at her, and she now noticed that her eyes were of a gray-turquoise tone with slits of yellow. A wide smile grew on Shaia's fine lips as she also studied Rey’s face.

 

Kylo cut in, “Shaia, Rey needs a proper wash-up and…you know the rest. I’ll leave her to your expert hands,” he said, glancing back at Rey while moving toward the door.

 

To that, Rey’s gaze flickered up to his and she frowned. “I don’t believe I require assistance to take a bath," she stressed indignantly while asking herself what exactly he was meaning by ‘you know the rest'.

 

Kylo only smirked, a glint of playfulness in his eyes. “After seeing you eat, I beg to differ,” and, upon seeing her growing annoyance, added, “and Shaia is an expert, trust me.”

 

“You are too kind, my Lord,” gratefully answered the woman before Rey had a chance to add anything, and they both watched Kylo leave the ‘fresher, closing the door behind him.

 

“Shall we, my dear? Do you like bubble baths?” she inquired while studying the different flasks on the edge of the tub. Rey instantly perceived the change in the way she spoke to her, with a softer, more motherly voice, but, stars, she had no idea what bubble baths were.

 

"Sure, anything…" Rey replied, trying to sound casual. She proceeded to take off her linens and removed her short sleeved t-shirt while her breast band followed shortly after when suddenly, the door opened again and Kylo dashed in out of nowhere as if he had forgotten something. "Oh and Shaia, do scrub-”

 

Rey shrieked and immediately wrapped her arms around her chest for good measure. Kylo stopped dead upon seeing her half-naked. His eyes widened in shock and his jaw went slack, but she didn't miss his wandering eyes over her bare chest, midriff, and arms, nor his cheeks going furiously red.

 

“N-Never mind,” he said quickly, gulping hard, and then he vanished as fast as he had appeared.

 

Rey and Shaia glanced at each other. There was an awkward silence, but soon, both of them giggled.

 

“My, what shall we do with that Emperor?” mused the old woman. “I dare say, that was the most amusing reaction.”

 

                                                                                                        *

 

Rey only knew one thing: bubble baths were the best thing in the galaxy. She was in the tub with foam up to her shoulders and she kept making bubbles and blowing them out with her hands, while Shaia scrubbed her hair with some shampoo, the delicate, fruity smell of it filling her nostrils.

 

“My dear, your hair is exquisite, but where have you been? It is filled with dust and … and grass?” questioned Shaia, her aristocratic, Coruscant voice filled with puzzlement.  

 

“I was on an outer-rim planet. No technology...it’s a pretty ancient place. I didn’t have anything to wash my hair properly” apologized Rey in a small voice. She didn’t know why, but the Force told her she could trust the old woman.

 

Shaia stayed silent for a moment. “Don’t you worry dear; We’ll fix that in no time. I want you to look exquisite. Emperor Ren seems to care a great deal about you, and I was thrilled to know of your arrival. It is of no doubt the man is desperately in need of a woman in his life,” stated Shaia in a casual tone, as if the aforementioned was perfectly clear to everyone.

 

Rey’s mind raced as the information sank in. How did she -? Was she insinuating-?

 

She veered around to meet her knowing gaze. But instead of inquiring about the obvious, something else drew her attention. "May I ask you why you say this, Shaia? Apparently, you have assisted him for quite some time already."

"I have," she answered nonchalantly, before clearing her hoarse throat. "When he ascended to Emperor, he sent for me. My reputation in the galaxy as a stylist and personal tailor had reached his ears," explained Shaia, pride filling her wise voice. "Politics is a complicated and cruel world, my dear. It, unfortunately, relies mainly on appearances. A detail that has not escaped him, since, from what I understand, he comes from nobility."

 

Rey flinched. How much did she really know about Ben? Her mind was processing all this information, but she said nothing, letting her fully answer her question.

 

“I have observed him carefully. Since I have moved to the Supremacy, it has been my humble duty to know his character and personal tastes for better assisting and counseling him. The truth is, my dear child,” she said, before letting out a long sigh “he is complicated, and his temper is certainly dreadful, but the man is far too lonely. I fear that he spends his sleepless nights alone, working and studying ancient books.”

 

Rey’s heart sank. That certainly sounded like something he would do. He was so lonely, as she was…

 

You’re so lonely, so afraid to leave… At night, desperate to sleep, you imagine an ocean…

 

Rey recalled his words when he first read her mind and memories back on Starkiller Base. Where she had first seen his own fears. The day their bond had finally bloomed freely, after being caught like a caged bird for so many years. Her mind drifted back to her vision on Ahch-To. They were two lost souls in the galaxy, yet bound together by their common loneliness, bound together by the Force. She could feel Ben’s loneliness in her own flesh, and her heart ached for him. She knew what she had to do, but didn’t know how to do it.

 

"My dear, are you alright?" Shaia's kind voice snapped her out of her recollection. Rey's eyes flicked back to her, and she now noticed that the old woman was rinsing away the conditioner she had put in her hair. "Yes. I-I'm sorry" she answered, her voice shaking slightly, "It's just…complicated." Rey's gaze got lost in the mists of her own foggy thoughts.

 

Shaia put the showerhead back in its position and sat again next to her on the edge of the bathtub. “Look at me, Rey,” she offered sweetly, and Rey obliged, meeting her greenish eyes again, while sadness filled her own. “I am old, and I have seen many, many things in this galaxy. If I have any piece of advice for you, time is the wisest teacher. Only time heals the deepest wounds and brings the most needed answers.” Shaia’s tone was steady and self-confident, betraying years of experience. Rey knew she spoke only the truth.

 

“Thank you Shaia. I needed to hear that,” Rey answered, gratefully. There was a motherly side to Shaia that made her easy to talk to, almost making her wish she was the mother she always sought, and she knew the old women wished only the best. For her and for Ben.

 

“Now, let’s make our Emperor proud, shall we?” smiled Shaia, as if she had been offered a challenge.

 

                                                                                                        ***

 

Meanwhile, Kylo was walking in circles in his room, and his pace only betrayed how nervous he was. He passed his hand through his dark hair yet for the billionth time. He had unsuccessfully tried to read, look over reports, and had even tried to do some calligraphy to soothe his nerves, which were as a raw and skinned as the wires of an open ship-wreckage.

 

He breathed in and out deeply, trying to rein his racing pulse.

 

He had waited for this for so long that he couldn’t master the tension. It had been weeks - scratch that, months since they’d seen each other in the flesh. Months she’d haunted his dreams. Months he had been looking for her throughout the galaxy, sometimes stopping in the middle of a crowd because he saw a slim figured which looked like her. The bond had been their sole link for so long, and it didn’t open at will.

 

And when she had spat in his face that she would never join him, he had been so angry at her, yet so miserable, he retired to his chambers at night and felt utterly abandoned. It wasn’t until he had seen her cry for him in her sleep through the bond that a small hope had blossomed again in his heart, and a true purpose had formed in his mind. She was the light he was desperately fighting against but ended up orbiting like she was everything in the universe. And the more he tried to fight it, the more she crept under his skin.

 

And now, she was here, in the same apartment, and he struggled to control himself around her. On top of it, she was such a tease. He had sworn to himself to give them the time to get acquainted, but she was making it impossible. He couldn’t shake off the challenging and desirous look in her eyes when she had deliberately provoked him earlier, and all he had wanted to do was to tear her clothes off and make love to her until she screamed his name. But, knowing she was willing… he was a nervous wreck at the singular idea. Before Rey, he’d never had any women in his life, and he felt terribly embarrassed by this fact. After walking in on her half-naked in the ‘fresher, he had never felt like such an idiot, nor felt so aroused by the sight of her delicate, sun-tanned skin.

 

He was therefore lost in his thoughts when, all of a sudden, someone knocked on his door, making him jump.

 

He opened it with a flick of his hand with the Force, and Shaia appeared before him.

 

She bowed slightly before saying, “My Lord, she is ready.”

 

Kriff, now there’s no turning back, he thought to himself.

 

But before he knew it, Shaia walked up to him and pulled at his tunic and surcoat a bit, adjusting it, then she gave a grave and concerned look at his hair, her mouth twisting in dissatisfaction while drawing a comb out of her dress.

 

“Always so nervous, Emperor Ren,” she said, pretending to scold him, a small smile on her face while she combed his dark, luxurious locks. “You’ve ruined your hair completely again.”

 

Kylo gave her a faint, apologetic gaze while he bent down a bit since not everyone was as tall as a tree as he was, and, when she was finished, she took a few steps back, eyeing him from top to bottom, searching for any flaws. She was a perfectionist, and it was something Kylo appreciated in the ancient, impeccable woman.

 

“How do I look?” inquired Kylo tentatively while arching an eyebrow, self-confidence strongly lacking in his voice.

 

“Royal.”

 

Kylo would have chuckled if he hadn’t been so nervous, and Shaia gave him an encouraging smile.

 

He then proceeded toward Rey’s chambers, while Shaia followed closely behind, her hands intertwined in front of her.

 

At last, he entered Rey's door, which was opened, and he was so eager he didn't even bother to knock.

 

And soon, he forgot to breathe.

 

She was a vison.

 

Rey was standing, her back facing him, in front of the large bay window, contemplating the city view, and the dim yellow light of the setting sun enveloped her in a golden, brilliant aura, giving her an ethereal, surreal appearance.

 

Her sun-tanned skin was highlighted by her tight, backless ruby-red dress, which fitted her hips in utmost perfection. Slowly and timidly, she shifted and faced him, and his gaze now lingered on her mermaid shaped taffeta dress. The off-the-shoulder gauzy sleeves enhanced her collarbone and the slope of her shoulders, while the V-shaped bodice had a perfect décolleté which showed just the perfect amount of cleavage, while the sheer-fabric skirt molded and enhanced the curves of her slim figure.

 

Lost for words, his eyes then flickered to her beautiful hazel eyes, which were heightened by black khôl and were almost green in the fading sunlight, contrasting with the opposing red-tone of her lipstick. Her chestnut hair, once dirty and dim, was now shiny and silky; she had it styled into a lace braided bun from which small wavy locks fell freely.

 

But what struck him most was her gaze.

 

It was soft and shy, defiant and afraid, light and dark.

 

And she looked utterly mortified.

 

“Please, don’t laugh, I -”  “- You look stunning," their voices echoed at the same time, while their gaze met, and Rey couldn't hold the intensity of his eyes nor her racing heart. She looked down at the ground to hide her blushing cheeks.

 

Seeing her reaction, Kylo only insisted. “I mean it,” he said in a low, awestruck tone. “You look...” his voice trailed off, “I-I have no words,” he then stressed. Upon hearing him, Rey raised her eyes and peered again cautiously in his direction.

 

With a swift move, Kylo took his gloves off, and with a few slow strides, he approached her before extended his bare hand. “Please do me the favor of being my Lady tonight.”

 

Rey stared at him; his awed expression betrayed a contrasting mix of despair and hope.

 

It was the Throne Room all over again. Only this time, everything had changed.

 

She didn’t flinch nor hesitate.

 

She took a step toward him, their gaze fusing as if they were one.

 

And she placed her slim hand into his warm, broad one, and his fingers gently enveloped hers. It was the first time they had touched each other in the flesh. Their connection bloomed open in a whirlwind, and both of them gasped out faintly as their energies poured into the other like fresh water in a spring, and an invisible force spurred from their hands, it ebbed and flowed, washing away in waves.

 

Rey was on the verge of tears; Kylo’s jaw twitched and quivered.

 

They both knew.

 

After a few moments, he bent down slowly, drawing her hand toward him, and he lay a soft, delicate kiss on her palm.

 

The feeling of his hot, lush lips on her naked skin was almost unbearable, and Rey's heartbeat was frantic. She couldn't tear her eyes off of him. His pitch-black hair was stylishly combed, and his rosy lips contrasted with his dark eyes and pale skin. He was wearing a mid-calf black sleeveless surcoat over another longer fitted tunic, with a broad leather belt highlighted by crimson red designs; tight pants and smooth tall leather boots completed his outfit, which enhanced his tall, muscular frame. But the most striking aspect was the thick, long black and red cape embroiled with crimson patterns, which was held by two braided scarlet cords over his chest, and it flowed freely around him.

 

Contemplating him kissing her hand, she couldn’t shake off the distinct feeling he was bowing in front of her like a Knight. And I will be your Lady, she thought, for whatever is to come tonight.

 

Kylo then straightened and their eyes locked again, his hand never releasing hers. “Shall we?”

 

“Yes.”

 

He then placed her hand in the crook of his arm and invited her to follow him.

 

As they exited Rey’s quarters, they both stopped before Shaia, who had discreetly witnessed the whole scene.

 

“I knew you would do wonders,” Kylo congratulated her.

 

“My lord, the sculptor can carve, but always will he be in need of the best material. And this was the finest material,” she answered humbly, bending her head toward Rey, who only smiled back at her, too shy to say anything else.

 

               

                                                                                                          ***

 

As she exited the elegant, cruiser car which led them to an unknown destination, she marveled at the building displayed in front of her eyes. The huge construction, whose facade was richly ornamented, had a large dome in the center and two smaller structures on the sides. It was illuminated by a yellow light that pierced through large arches and windows. Many people were walking toward an entrance, and Rey couldn’t shake how elegantly everybody was dressed. She was actually grateful to match the ambiance.

 

Kylo stood at her side while they went up the marble stairs. By chance, she had succeeded in convincing Shaia that high heels were absolutely out of the question, since she kept tripping and falling over. But the old tailor had more than one trick up her sleeve; she had drawn out a pair of wedge heels, and despite the fact they were still high, Rey could actually walk without embarrassing herself too much.

 

“Ben, what is this? Where are you taking me?" she inquired, veering her face toward him as they rose together onto a red, thick carpet and she held the tip of her dress to avoid stepping on it. 

 

“It’s an opera. The very best in the galaxy,” Kylo confessed at last while observing her reaction.

 

Rey only blinked.

 

Oh.

 

“I want to show you what I most appreciate,” he explained upon seeing her puzzled expression.

 

She took her a while to say anything, as if she were solving a complex riddle. "I already gathered you have old-fashioned tastes. I saw those books back in your office. And... quills, parchments?"

 

“Calligraphy,” he stated in a casual way.

 

She considered him while still walking up the stairs - which seemed to go on forever. It crashed over her without warning; suddenly, she realized she knew barely anything of the man she was tucked against. He was a mystery to her, even if she had gotten glimpses of his past and daily habits. He could be a violent, temperamental, and even murderous man, yet, at the same time, the most fragile and vulnerable soul, only lacking love and warmth. Shaia's words echoed in her mind and she recalled his sleepless nights and loneliness. Calligraphy seemed to fit the picture, as he clearly had a liking for paper and ink and old textbooks.

 

But, opera?

 

This, now, was a new piece of information in the vast puzzle that was Ben Solo, or, as he liked to call his dark side persona, Kylo Ren. A rush of excitement at the perspective invaded her veins, and she found out she actually liked to put the piece of his puzzle together; moreover, she had never even dreamed of stepping in such a place and had no idea about music since the eternal silence of the Jakku desert had been her only friend for most of her life. She had no place in her existence for such trivial things as music - or so she had thought, until now. 

 

She glanced up at him in silence as they came into the main entrance of the opera, and then, she could only set her eyes on all the wonders that the place displayed. The great marble stairs, the tapestries on the walls, the waiters bringing a liquor called Champagne in long flutes, the couples all dressed in black and white stylish and elaborate outfits and dresses, everything looked so fine that she thought for a moment she had stepped into a parallel dimension. But suddenly, she noticed something else and realized people were looking at them in a strange fashion.

 

“Why is everyone dressed in black and white only, while we are in black and red?” she all but whispered in Kylo’s ear.

 

To that, Kylo peered at her from the corner of his eye, a triumphant look washing over his face. Smart girl, I knew you would notice, he thought to himself.

 

“That’s because I am the Emperor. And tonight, you are my Empress,” he only answered with the smuggest tone.

 

Rey arched an eyebrow in disbelief. I know what you are trying to do here, Ben Solo, she thought to herself and she couldn’t shake the feeling that his way of acting was the most Han Solo thing he had ever done.  

 

“Are you trying to impress me?” Rey inquired, frowning at him while a mix of amusement and skepticism colored her voice.

 

Kylo said nothing but the burning, bright gaze he threw at her summed it all.

 

She gave him an incredulous gaze in return, but didn’t stress the point. She wanted to enjoy the moment, and, although he was the most stubborn man she had ever laid eyes upon, she admired his perseverance and, deep down, was touched by his attentions.

 

He led her upstairs, toward the first balcony, where the Grande Loge was situated. Kylo drew her seat and invited her to sit down, and he then sat to her left, while musical notes reverberated from the orchestra, who was tuning the instruments. 

 

They were both sitting at the edge of the balcony, offering them the best view of the arched galleries, the stage, and the high and heavily decorated ceiling above them, from which a huge, crystal chandelier hung, illuminating the space with slants of light.

 

But these same lights suddenly went off, and Kylo and Rey gazed at each other in the obscurity. Rey’s blood raced with expectation, while Kylo only heard his own heartbeat.

 

It started with a low-pitched oboe. And then, the full orchestra slowly came in, one instrument following the other, and Rey’s lips parted at the magnificent sounds filling her ears. Every note, every sound reverberated within her heart, making her skin tingle, giving her goosebumps.

 

The opera was a love story - and with each aria, filled with passion, despair, and tragedy, she felt more and more enthralled; she was brought to tears when the lead soprano sank into a beautiful yet tragic lamento about losing her lover.

 

Her own conflicted history with the none other than the man who was seated next to her was being displayed before her in metaphors, beautiful images, and archetypes. Had he done it on purpose?

 

She was in such catharsis she hadn't noticed she was leaning eagerly over the balcony while her hands rested on the edge, as thick tears spilled down her cheeks. 

 

All of a sudden, she felt bare fingers brush hers, and her eyes immediately fluttered back to Kylo’s, who was watching her carefully, the lightning of the stage illuminating his pale face.  

 

His hand grabbed hers, and he kept it in his, giving her warmth and comfort.

 

His gaze was soft, almost caring as it bore into her own blurred, glistening eyes. And through the Force, she felt his determination, and his will to show her that, beneath the monster, another man laid in the shadows, waiting for her. She felt a rush of tenderness toward him.   

 

Before Kylo even knew it, she leaned over swiftly, and his whole body shivered as she laid a soft kiss on his scarred cheek; he closed his eyes at the mere sensation of her incredibly soft lips against his touch-starved skin, and he released a long, almost relieved sigh through parted lips.

 

He opened his eyes again, and now, she was close to him, eyeing him with an sad yet affectionate gaze, and then -

 

- she smiled at him.   

 

He had long forgotten what a smile was, but hers was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in the galaxy.

 

                                                                                                           ***

 

When Rey determinedly told him she wanted to walk back home, Kylo thought that was the most plebeian idea he had ever heard of. Who would ever think of walking back from an opera? She was one in a kind; he beamed at how different they were and the way she pointedly ignored all the customs he had been raised with. He could barely envision how she had grown up, alone, in a junkyard desert, surviving as a slave. They were opposites, yet, he was attracted to her like a moth to the light.

 

They were walking side by side in silence, and Kylo was glancing at her from time to time, but she seemed immersed in her thoughts, watching the ground as they strolled. They went like this for what seemed a long time, under the bright stars that were shining in the celestial vault, and then, Rey lifted her chin upwards to contemplate them.

 

“I’d never think a dark sider could appreciate such wonderful music,” she said without looking at him.

 

They both came to a stop and Kylo’s eyes rose to the black void she was contemplating.

 

“What’s wrong with the dark side? You need darkness for the stars to shine,” he answered coolly, as they both contemplated the millions of dots filling the sky.

 

“And you need light to make them twinkle,” replied Rey, her eyes lowering to his.

 

They spoke the same language, but from different points of views. And the path towards the middle promised to be hard and painful. Sorrow filled Rey’s eyes at the realization that, although their fates were connected, she had no idea how to reach the man before her.

 

She shivered and crossed her arms, rubbing her shoulders. Kylo didn’t know if it was for the coolness of the night which was almost chilly, or the sadness that washed over her features whenever she looked at him. However, he untied his cape and with a swift move, he wrapped her up entirely. She eyed him, lost for words before his attentions, her eyes on the verge of tears.

 

“Thank you,” she said genuinely, her voice much weaker than she would have wished.

 

Nobody had ever treated her like this. Nobody had ever looked at her like he did.

 

But after tonight, and despite the wonderful moment, she knew, deep inside, she couldn’t be what he wanted her to be.

 

Kylo sighed knowingly. He eyed the ground before his gaze flickered back to hers, and it betrayed only longing. “Stay with me,” he all but whispered after a long moment.

 

Her heart sank as their gaze melted into one other. She didn’t want to be anywhere else in the galaxy; but she couldn’t give him what he most desired, and he wouldn’t come her way either. It was bittersweet and she felt her heart was made of lead. 

 

“Ben, I -” she started, but before she could finish, Kylo raised his hand and pressed a thumb on her lips. “Shh” he murmured, silencing her.

 

Then, without a word, he embraced her and pressed his forehead against hers, closing his eyes. She did too, with a long sigh. Whenever they touched, there was no need for explanations; the Force connected them on a higher, more spiritual level.

 

All of a sudden, he bent down and picked her up in his arms like if she were a mere feather, as he had once done on Takodana. She disentangled her arms from his cape and wrapped them around his strong neck, while her head rested on his chest, and she could hear his steady, rhythmic heartbeat.

 

While he walked them towards the apartment, they were completely oblivious that, from the shadows, a black figure was watching them closely from afar.

 

 

Chapter Text


When Rey woke up the next morning in the huge bed in her room, she had a hard time recalling where she was. Her body felt completely numb. Her mind was so confused after the nightmares which had disturbed her all night. Her mixed emotions and utter sadness had clearly not helped. Judging from the sunlight piercing through the curtains, it was already late.

 

All of a sudden, memories flooded her mind, and she felt her heart contract.

 

Last Night…

 

Kylo walked her to the apartment. She was still wrapped in his cape. She was exhausted by the emotional day and snuggled against his body. She didn’t want to think about anything, and his rhythmic heartbeat soothed her. He was so warm and welcoming. She buried her face in the crook of his neck while observing him discreetly. He seemed unfazed, lost in his thoughts.

 

Upon entering the flat, he brought her straight to her room, where he laid her gently on the big canopy bed. She released his neck and nestled into the big fluffy pillows, adjusting his cape which was still around her. He sat on the edge of the bed facing her, one leg folded onto the mattress while his other boot rested on the floor.

 

They stared at each other in silence. His gaze lingered on her face, her shoulders…and the rest, undressing her with his eyes. 

 

It was the most awkward situation. They both desired each other, and worse, they were both aware of it. With the bond blossoming whenever they touched, there was no possible way to hide it.  Moreover, he had already revealed his lust in the crudest fashion, and she had deliberately provoked him earlier. However, both also knew that if they tasted the forbidden fruit, there was no turning back. It was a sacred step. Neither dared to make the first move.

 

“Thank you for tonight, Ben,” she finally said, although her voice was weak and bittersweet.

 

Kylo remained silent. He lowered his gaze to his hands. Then, he did something she had never seen him do - he fiddled with his fingers. The gesture was subtle; however, it betrayed how nervous he was. She seized the moment.

 

“Ben, I have to tell you something...” her voice trailed off.

 

His gaze met hers. “I know,” he responded, but upon seeing her startled face, he quickly added, “You’ve been longing to tell me something, I mean. Although, I don’t think this is the moment,” he answered, trying to sound casual, but failing completely. She was struck by the grief in his eyes as he looked at her…and something else she wasn’t able to quite pin down.

 

At last, he rose from the bed and stood, looking down at her from his lofty height. “You should get some sleep…and I still have urgent matters to attend,” he told her, his voice unexpectedly steady.

 

What? At this hour of the night? Was he out of his mind?

 

“Ben, don’t -” She was about to ask him to stay, but he cut in sharply.

 

“For once, just do as I say.” His tone was almost cold, and the defeat and resignation in his voice pierced her heart.

 

She lifted her confused face to his, and he contemplated her in silence. Then, without another word, he just left.

 

Rey was completely taken aback.

 

It took her a moment to recover and regain her focus. 

 

She then changed into one of the nighties that Shaia had left for her. She went to the ‘fresher to wash. Then, she finally slipped into the big bed, lying there for a very long while, thinking about everything that had happened between them, asking herself why he was putting up barriers against her in this sudden fashion.

 

Soon, without even noticing, she lingered on their connection and focused all her concentration on him -

 

- and before she knew it, she felt a wave of sadness and hopelessness so raw and so intense it rattled her to the bone. 

 

What was happening to him?

 

She hesitated.

 

Then, she crept out of bed, silent as a feline, walking on her tiptoes through the apartment toward his room where she felt his Force signature. He hadn’t shown it to her for some mysterious reason, but she identified his quarters quickly enough.

 

She advanced silently towards the door. Thankfully, she had noticed beforehand the walls of the apartment were quite thin. Soon thereafter she heard a shower running, and she pressed her ear against the wall …

 

- and then, she unmistakably heard a sob.

 

In a sudden rush of panic, she focused a little more.

 

It was as if someone had ripped her soul apart. Ben was crying his heart out in the shower. Her own heart contracted as she heard him weep, cough, and struggle for air.

 

She stood there, completely at a loss. Thick tears spilled down her cheeks at the sound of him breaking apart.

 

And knowing she was the sole cause of it devastated her. 

 

She couldn’t just leave him like this. She just had to do something…anything.

 

She pressed the code on the door to open it but found it was locked from the inside.

 

Kriff. She had no other choice. Drawing on the Force, she focused on the metal clasps of the lock and forced the door open.

 

Upon hearing the sound of the door opening, Kylo stopped the shower immediately. Rey peeked into the room and advanced cautiously, but she barely had time to walk across half the room when Kylo stormed out of the ‘fresher. Rey froze.

 

He was completely naked apart from a black towel wrapped way too loosely around his hips, and water was dripping from his hair onto his shoulders and torso. Seeing him in this state should have gotten her undivided attention, but it was nothing compared to his anguished face. His eyes were swollen and glistening, and his cheeks and nose were red from his intense sobbing.

 

“I locked that door for a reason. What are you doing here?” he asked in a sharp, annoyed tone. Rey noticed his lonely eyes were filled with resentment and bitterness.

 

“Ben, I heard you and I…”

 

Her voice drifted away. His stare was so intense it commanded silence.

 

“Get out,” he coldly ordered her between short breaths. Through the Force, she sensed his rising anger.

 

“Ben, please, just listen to me!” she pleaded.

 

“You’d never understand. Please-get-out!” he growled, the look in his eyes fluctuating between ire and despair.

 

Rey stared at him, thunderstruck, but then she instinctively turned around and raced out of the room. Her heart hurt so much she feared it might break.

 

She ran to her room despite the fact that she heard him destroying half the furniture in his quarters. She quickly closed the lock behind her and buried herself in the pillows, crying desperately.

 

*

 

Rey winced at the recollection and sighed. She felt terrible about everything, and her eyes were sore and swollen. Now, thinking quietly in the solitude of her room, she tried to figure out yet another Ben Solo riddle. Granted, she had trespassed into his personal space and had walked in on him in a moment of despair and solitude, but did he have to shut her out like this? She then remembered her vision on Ahch-To when he had been left alone at Luke’s in which he had been rejected and abandoned, causing his initial slide into the Dark Side. Deep down, she knew all too well that she was the sole cause of his grief. The only explanation for his lashing out at her was his sorrow and helplessness at the situation in which they found themselves. However, she was devastated by his reaction. Never had he been so angry and resentful with her. Now she dreaded seeing him again.

 

But then, Shaia’s words echoed in her mind.

 

…He is complicated, and his temper is certainly dreadful, but the man is far too lonely.

 

Kriff. That observation was painfully accurate. How was she supposed to make him understand she wanted to be with him - but she couldn’t be the way he wished her to be? Everything was tragic, and she found no answers to her questions. She only hoped now that the storm had passed he would perhaps be more docile.

 

Gathering her strength, she slipped out of bed and glanced at herself in the mirror. She did not like what she saw. Her makeup had smeared all over her face, and she looked like a complete emotional wreck. She proceeded toward the ‘fresher and did a bit of cleaning up, making sure she was at least presentable. Then, she slipped through the door and walked through the apartment.

 

Suddenly, she stilled as she heard an unknown voice coming from the office.

 

“…Vrieska has been missing. We were all at the casino yesterday, and she didn’t appear for the whole night. You know she loves those places. I thought I’d inform you.”

 

“Where did she go after we caught Rey and Casterfoe?” Kylo’s voice echoed beyond the wall.

 

Rey’s eyes widened in realization. They were talking about the female knight. Her pulse raced, and she quickly went to the door to better hear what they were saying.

 

“I don’t know. She’s been missing since then.” It was a man’s voice, unmistakably one of his knights. He cleared his throat. “To tell you the truth, Kylo, I do think you have a lot to do with this.”

 

There was a pause.

 

“Should I ask why?” Kylo asked in a muted tone.

 

"You'll never change. How you do not see the point is beyond my understanding. Didn't you register her reaction when this girl called you by your given name?” riddled the knight.

 

Kylo didn’t answer at first. “She always wanted me to bed her, and I was never interested, nothing else,” he finally grumbled.

 

Rey’s heart skipped a beat, and she quickly put a hand over her mouth to avoid gasping out loud. Had he just spoken about bedding a woman? Her skin crawled and her heart raced, not only at the realization of what this truly meant. She knew all too well he wanted her in his bed and knowing he had rejected another woman made her heart pound in an unfamiliar fashion.

 

“You know perfectly well it’s not only that. She’s always admired you. Always been loyal to you, even if she’s a rogue and we all know that. Her and her precious freedom. She could have left us ages ago. Why do you think she stayed?” The knight shifted restlessly. “That night, the night at the Temple, we swore fealty to you. We vowed to eradicate the Jedi. We swore our loyalty to the Dark Side. And what do you do? You get infatuated with none other than the last Jedi. She represents everything we have fought against.”

 

“I am not -”

 

“Don’t deny it!” stressed the man firmly, almost as if he were scolding him. “You should have seen your face when she offered herself to you. It was painfully obvious.”

 

She heard Kylo curse, and then there was a long pause.

 

Rey’s heart beat so hard she thought it was going to explode.

 

At last, she heard him sigh.

 

“The Force connects me to her. I have no idea why. I only know my destiny is tied to hers. And I forbid you to tell this to the others,” Kylo said emphatically.

 

He didn’t deny it. Rey released a breath she hadn’t noticed she’d been holding. Who was this person he was confessing such a thing to?

 

“Ah. There it is. It took you awhile to get there,” mused the man.

 

“You never leave me a choice, do you? And you are the most trustworthy of all my knights, anyway.” Kylo’s voice was filled with resignation.

 

“And, unlike the others, I believe you. So, what really happened in Snoke’s room?”

 

“Stop it with your damn riddles. You’ve figured it out already,” Kylo spat.

 

“You killed him. The girl never could have. I know you and Supreme Leader Snoke had a…complicated relationship. He was hard on you. But he made you what you are. He made you powerful.”

 

“That snake manipulated me for my powers. It was my destiny to overthrow him. It is my destiny to be where I am. If anyone knows this, it’s you, Keido,” Kylo retorted firmly.

 

Keido. Rey took note that she had never heard that name, and she also noted the familiarity between the two. Kylo was clearly treating him as an equal - at least, in principle.

 

Keido sighed heavily.

 

“The mighty Jedi Killer…and the Last Jedi. Don’t you see a problematic contradiction here? No wonder Vrieska was so upset. Don’t forget women always figure things out.”

 

“Eventually Vrieska will understand. She is not an idiot,” Kylo said coldly.

 

"I wouldn't count too much on that if I were you. So, your plan is…what? To rule the galaxy with this girl?” Rey heard the contemptuousness in his voice. “You want to take her as Empress?” he asked in disbelief.

 

Oh, yes, Rey knew what Ben’s plans were, and her blood was now boiling. She bared her teeth. She couldn’t stand how this knight talked about her or the way they were both casually having a conversation about her as if she were some sort of toy.

 

Overcoming all her previous fears of dealing with Ben's temper, and against her better judgment, she opened the door. She was not going to be intimidated.

 

Kylo and Keido’s eyes both darted immediately in her direction.

 

Her eyes flickered between Kylo and the other knight. She barely had time to register Kylo’s astonished face, as well as the black circles under his eyes indicating she wasn't the only sleep-deprived one before her gaze locked onto Keido. 

 

“The girl has a name. It’s Rey,” she hissed as her stare darted into Keido’s eyes like arrows. 

 

Kylo immediately picked up she was pissed. Kriff, he was such an idiot. How much had she heard? Then his face registered shock as he took in her appearance. He couldn’t believe she had dared to show up in her nightie. Her short, sexy blue satin lingerie showed her smooth, long bare legs, and he almost lost his fucking wits when he realized it also showed her nipples.

 

Kriff, this woman was going to be the death of him.

 

Even Keido seemed baffled at the sight of her. But he quickly composed himself and rose to his feet, followed by Kylo.

 

Rey studied the warrior’s face and noted his whole appearance was that of a sophisticated old-fashioned monk. His face was narrow, and he wore his very long, straight chestnut hair in a bun. He also sported a trimmed goatee. His pit-black, almond-shaped eyes with long eyelashes conveyed intelligence, wit, and fire. He was wearing a black outfit with crossed linens on his chest over a longer tunic, and a huge, thick black cloak that covered him almost completely. Rey could sense he hid weapons beneath it.

 

Rey crossed her arms over her chest and changed her stance to indicate she was waiting.

 

Keido scanned her from top to bottom as if scientifically and meticulously observing a laboratory object.

 

“I didn’t know the Jedi were accustomed to eavesdropping. You’ve added another trick to their repertoire, it seems,” quipped Keido with a smirk on his face.

 

“And I didn’t know Darksiders were foolish enough to gossip about supposedly secret matters out loud,” she sneered, and she looked at Kylo, who swallowed and clenched his fists, although he met her gaze.

 

Keido’s eyebrow quirked, and he snickered.

 

“You seem like a fierce little creature, Jedi.”

 

“Try me,” sneered Rey, her gaze filled with loathing.

 

The knight’s eyes widened with a mixture of amusement and surprise, and then he turned to Kylo’s and took in his grave expression.

 

“Ah. I can sense the darkness in her indeed. Now I see why you have a…liking for her," he mused before he shifted toward Rey again as if he were about to act upon her suggestion. 

 

Kylo shook his head slightly at the knight in warning.

 

“I wouldn’t take that challenge. She took down four of Snoke’s Praetorian guards on her own.”

 

If Keido was impressed he kept it hidden, but Rey felt a tremor in his Force signature. She figured he was  Kylo’s polar opposite as his face masked his inner emotions.

 

“I see,” he replied as the information slowly sank in, his eyes never leaving Rey.

 

At last, he wrapped his cloak around him, grabbed the mask he had discarded on the coffee table, and turned to Kylo once again.

 

"You know my thoughts, but my loyalty is to you. You know how to find me," he stated cryptically and headed for the door.

 

Rey observed him as he crossed the office toward the entrance, which was on her side of the room. Before he left, his burning eyes darted to hers again.

 

“See you around, Jedi.

 

Rey watched him exit the door. There was a long silence before Rey glanced at Kylo again.

 

“Ben, how can you -”

 

“Don’t! I know what you’re going to say,” Kylo cut in.

 

“Oh no you don’t, not this time!” She advanced toward him with swift strides. She seemed so exasperated that a shiver went down Kylo’s spine. She was now very close to him, giving him that look. Acting on instinct, he sat back down on the sofa, absolutely certain she was about to scold him.

 

“Why do you refuse to talk to me?” she asked in an irritated voice as she stormed over to him with both hands on her hips.

 

He swallowed. Seeing her demeanor, he was all of a sudden reminded of his mother. Defiant, proud and …terrifying. Was it precisely this which made her so special to him? She wasn’t afraid, and she constantly challenged him and put him in his place. Yesterday, he knew she hadn’t been frightened, yet in his violent outburst he had hurt her.

 

As usual, murmured an all too familiar voice within his mind. When he felt rejected, he was utterly incapable of reining in his emotions. His fractured soul was clouded by wrath and despair. It spread like an uncontrolled wildfire, destroying everything in its wake. Including what he cared for most.

 

Ashamed of himself, he lowered his eyes and rested his elbows on his knees. Leaning forward, he pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a long sigh.

 

“I was never good at talking. I-I don’t know how to do this,” he confessed in a weak voice.

 

Oh.

 

If Rey had expected something, it hadn't been this. It pierced and melted her heart simultaneously, and her mood calmed at once. She lowered her arms and sat on the sofa across from him, glancing at him again. Through the Force, she could sense his churning emotions. She remembered him crying his heart out the previous night.

 

“Ben, I’m not leaving. I’m not going anywhere,” she stressed. "I-I can teach you how to express yourself if you just…let me in," she all but whispered the last. "And control that temper of yours, please,” she begged with a sigh.

 

The was a pause, and his eyelashes fluttered, although he didn’t move.

 

“I owe you an apology…” his voice trailed away, his expressive eyes begging for forgiveness.

 

A faint smile crossed Rey’s face.

 

“This is the second time you’ve apologized in two days. I might just think you are suffering from a strange illness,” she quipped, now playfully. 

 

“Let me take you out for lunch,” he said, hopefully, and his eyes brightened again.

 

“Only if you promise to listen to me,” she answered.

 

“I promise.” He rose to his full height “I’ll call Shaia.”

 

“Ben, I don’t need her to help me bathe,” she said quickly, a bit annoyed.

 

“I wasn’t thinking about that. You…looked so wonderful yesterday. And I want to bring you to a special place.”

 

Rey blinked. Had he just said she looked wonderful? She suddenly had the unfamiliar feeling of butterflies in her lower stomach. “Okay then…and, I really do like Shaia.”

 

“She is very fond of you,” he answered, and Rey saw that he almost smiled.  

 

***

 

Kylo offered his hand to help her from the land speeder. They were on a charming small street of Canto Bight. She gratefully took it, stepped down, and then hooked her hand in the crook of his arm as they walked together.

 

This time, she was wearing a lovely cream colored dress. The square top's thin straps were edged with fine lace, and the silk bodice fitted her waist. A sheer tiered circle skirt flowed gently in the wind with each step.

 

Next to her, Kylo mirrored her: he had changed into a simple black sleeveless tunic made of coarse fabric which came down to his knees. His usual arm guards encased his muscular arms. He was also wearing elegant black tight pants and smooth leather boots. The most distinctive aspect of his outfit was the pitch-black, single-shouldered cape which swung gracefully from his left shoulder and was held in place by several black leather cords over his chest. Rey immediately liked it since it was different than anything she had seen him wear previously.

 

“Here we are,” he said, leading her up a wooden staircase which led them to a very elegant restaurant. There was an extensive outdoor terrace with a superb view of the Cantonica seashore and bay. But the best aspect of the terrace was the gigantic tree it was built around. Its lush green branches stretched overhead, giving shade to large parts of it. In the bay, sparkling light reflected off the beautiful turquoise-colored sea. Rey’s first thought was how it was so different from Ahch-To’s dark grey sea.

 

They sat at a neat wooden table outside under the tree, and a waiter promptly arrived. “My Lord, this is a great honor. May I offer you anything to start?”

 

“A bottle of your finest white wine will do,” ordered Kylo, glancing at Rey to see if she agreed.

 

“I’ve never tried that,” she said a bit shyly. She knew what alcohol was, of course, but had never tried wine.

 

Kylo and the waiter’s eyes widened. “I can’t believe you,” said Kylo, astonished. He loved wine, even maybe more than caf.

 

“I am convinced the Lady will love it,” said the waiter, before disappearing as quickly as he had arrived.

 

Rey eyed the menu afterward. By comparison, it made the old Jedi texts look like easy reading.  She didn't understand anything about the sophisticated descriptions and was trying to stick to basic information about the dishes. She wasn't even mentioning all the forks and knives displayed before her, and she sensed she was going to embarrass herself. After a small moment, the waiter came back and installed a tray and served them two glasses of a golden-yellow content.

 

Rey lifted the cup to her lips and tasted the infamous liquid; she loved it to pieces.

 

“That’s really good,” she told Kylo before putting the glass down, and she saw him smirk.

 

“At least we agree on that,” he quipped.

 

“So…” she started, “I teach you how to express yourself...and you teach me how I am supposed to use these?” she asked jokingly, pointing at the cutlery before her.

 

“Deal,” he responded at once. “I start.”

 

He leaned over and started indicating what every fork and knife was meant for. He explained the use of different glasses and plates too. Stars, why did it have to be so complicated?

 

When Kylo finished, she peered at him with a timid smile on her face and laughed. Kylo was mildly taken aback but nonetheless reveled in her smile and amazing laughter. She was such a ray of light he couldn't suppress the grin on his face.

 

“I’ll never figure this out!” she said between peals of laughter. 

 

"You're a fast learner. You will." He beamed at her before the waiter came to take their order.

 

*

 

When they had finally finished their meal, Rey took a breath and concentrated again on the task she had to fulfill.

 

“Ben,” she said, her face serious, catching his attention again. She dropped the bomb without warning.

 

“I know why we are connected through the Force.”

 

There was a silence. His eyes were intrigued and showed eagerness. It encouraged her to continue.

 

“I was in the first Jedi Temple.”

 

“Where is that?” Kylo cut in.

 

“Let me tell you the whole story first,” she replied at once, wanting to avoid anything about the location of Ahch-To. “I found some old Jedi texts and studied them….” She then had  doubts about telling him the whole truth and found it more convenient to skip some parts. “A Force Ghost visited me. A Jedi Master called Yoda.”

 

The Master Yoda?” Kylo asked in utter disbelief. “I’ve read loads about him. And he was... Luke’s teacher,” he added, a hint of contempt in his voice.

 

“Yes. He helped me understand that the Force always acts by the Rule of Three.”

 

Kylo leaned forward a little more, his forearms and elbows now resting on the table, and Rey could tell he was genuinely intrigued.

 

"The Rule of Three," he said, " ‘Light. Darkness. The Force.’ This is why the Jedi were so wrong about wanting to eradicate Darkness.”

 

Rey’s jaw dropped to the floor. “You know this?!”

 

“Do you think I’m a mindless brute?” he inquired with a hint of amusement.

 

Rey was so astonished she didn’t answer.

 

“I spend my time studying the teachings of the Force. To master them. This is one of the reasons the Jedi have to cease to exist. One of the reasons I sought to eradicate them,” he then explained, and his steady gaze bore into hers.

 

“Should I take this warning personally?” she frowned.

 

“You’re the exception,” he answered, and his eyes lingered on her, admiring her face and her hair, which was pulled into a single bun with some of her chestnut locks flowing freely from it.

 

Rey took another breath, trying to concentrate again on her objective.

 

“Anyway, I told Yoda I had a vision, a Door opened, and-” but she stopped upon seeing Kylo’s eyes widened and his face paled in shock.

 

You opened the Doors of Truth?! That’s impossible!” he almost yelled.

 

Rey blinked. They stared at each other. Kylo looked flabbergasted.

 

“What’s wrong?” she inquired. Kylo took a few moments to compose himself.

 

"I have tried to open those all my life. And never succeeded. When those Doors open, it is to reveal very ancient and powerful secrets about the Force. I cannot believe you opened them.”

 

“I find your lack of faith in me very disturbing,” Rey answered smugly, arching an eyebrow, although his expression was priceless.

 

Kylo pointedly ignored her sarcastic tone. “What did you see? Did you open the Third one?” he asked eagerly.

 

All of a sudden, they were speaking the same language.

 

Whenever it came to the Force, everything connected them.

 

Rey breathed again, trying to control her rushing excitement. “I didn’t. This is part of what I want to tell you. If you would just listen to me,” she said teasingly. “When the first two doors opened, I had a vision...of you.

 

“Of me?”

 

“When the first one opened, I saw you on the day you were brought to Luke’s. The day you felt abandoned and rejected. The day you truly fell to the Dark Side,” Rey explained,  analyzing his every reaction. His mouth was half open as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. She could tell he was recalling the exact memory she was evoking.

 

“The second Door showed me the answer as to why I saw this scene in particular. I saw myself...being born the same day you were left at Luke’s. I was born very poor on Jakku, and my mother seemed to hate me,” she remembered, sadness filling her voice as she spoke.

“ -and then, I saw the Force bond.”

 

“You saw the Force bond?” Kylo’s jaw almost hit the ground.

 

“Yes. There were golden threads emanating from you, from your Darkness, and embracing me when I was just born.” Rey’s voice was now shaking, and the emotion of the moment was rattling her to the core.

 

Kylo said nothing. He was so astonished he couldn’t vocalize anything.

 

“Ben. I am the Force’s response to your Darkness. I am your balance. We are equals in the Force.” She composed herself before adding, “Everything leads me to believe we have to achieve harmony between my Light and your Darkness for me to open the Third Door.”

 

Kylo was shocked. He couldn’t believe it. He was slowly processing all of the insane amount of information she had just provided.

 

The took his glass of wine and gulped it all at once. “Kriff, I needed that,” he said, still staring at her. Rey smiled at him. It was his one of his almost jokes.

 

“Rey. You are only confirming what my intuition sensed long ago...” he stated, his voice trailing off. “We belong together. You. Me,” he said with inviting eyes.

 

Rey swallowed. She was on the verge of tears. She knew exactly where he was headed.

 

“I cannot be what you want me to be, Ben. I want to be with you, but I cannot be in this position, at your side, ruling the galaxy with an iron fist with these people around you,” she stressed emphatically.

 

“I’m afraid the position and I are a package deal,” he answered, trying to sound calm while his saddened eyes begged for her understanding. “Your destiny is to rule the galaxy by my side. Even the Force is showing you that.”

 

"Ben, the Force is showing me we need to balance each other, nothing else. You are literally working with the man responsible for your mother's death. I cannot, I will not, I could never approve. On top of it, your knight tried to kill me!” she said indignantly, and found his stubbornness slowly annoying her more and more as each minute went by.

 

Kylo’s eyes darkened. "Then you have already chosen your side."

 

“How can you be so stubborn?” Rey said in an irritated voice.

 

"I'm being a realist. It’s not like I have a choice. It is my destiny to be Emperor.”

 

“You always have a choice! You talk about letting the past die, but you cling to this power you think you own by what? Heritage? Legacy? You could renounce it and come with me. What has it brought you? You live alone and miserable in a place of power. You live surrounded by fear and greedy, bloodthirsty people who will try to overthrow you anyway one day!”

 

Kylo’s jaw clenched and his hand was dangerously close to breaking the glass he was holding. Deep down, he knew she was right but would never confess, let alone accept it.

 

“To go to that ridiculous and pointless Resistance of yours?” he asked sarcastically.

 

“You know perfectly well they threw me away. Thanks to you,” she retorted at once. "We could start something new if only your lust for power didn't blind you!"

 

Suddenly, Kylo rose from his seat.

 

“Let’s get out of here before I lose my temper with you again,” he spat at her.

 

Rey lifted her chin to meet his gaze, but he was already heading out before she could say anything. She sighed, completely drained. Everything was a mess.

 

***

 

Until they reached the Palace building once again, both of them were silent. The tension was at its climax, and each of them was absolutely pissed with the other.

 

They entered the building once again and went to the elevator. After entering it, they stood side by side without uttering a single word.

 

Rey couldn’t hold back anymore.

 

“When we were in another elevator back on the Supremacy, you chose to kill your past, Ben. Why continue along a path I cannot follow?” she asked, desperate to reach him, her eyes pleading for his understanding.

 

“That’s the day you betrayed me. I saved your life and you ditched me,” he retorted angrily, his tone icy once again.

 

“I came to you because I saw a future where you turned, and in your impulsiveness and greed, you went against every principle I have! You are hurting the people I care most about!”

 

The elevator came to a stop, but Kylo froze it in place with the Force. He wasn’t going to let her get away with this.

 

You forced my hand that day! What else did you expect me to do? I offered you the galaxy, I offered myself to you. And you fled after I saved your life because you didn't even think before coming there!” he hissed through gritted teeth, finally confessing everything that was in his heart.

 

“What do you mean I didn’t think? I saw you turn when we touched hands!”

 

“And what did you think I was going to do? Go and save the Resistance I have fought against all my life? You didn’t think! You acted hastily without any type of plan. And then, you didn’t take any responsibility and just left! How did you think I felt when I realized you disappeared that day?" he lashed out at her and was getting dangerously close to losing the last bit of his self-control.

 

The color drained from her face as Rey began to understand the logic from his point of view. She had never contemplated the situation in this light.

 

He then continued. “You fled. Leaving me behind. Betraying me, like everyone else!” he said furiously, his voice growing louder.

 

Kylo was so angry his chest was heaving under the intensity of his emotions. Rey was staring at him wordlessly. He had wanted to yell this at her for months.

 

He tried to rein his temper and swallowed before continuing. “And then, I never found you. I spent months looking for you, and when I finally understood you would never come back to me, I had to take drastic measures…”

 

She arched an eyebrow in disbelief, trying to decipher what he meant.

 

“Who do you think sent that message to the Resistance?” he questioned cryptically.

 

Rey’s eyes narrowed at this. No, it couldn’t be…

 

“It was I who sent the false information that I was cutting an arms deal here on Canto Bight. Do you honestly think I don’t have enough weapons to crush your precious friends? I knew that if I were to say I was doing it myself, there was a good possibility the Resistance would call you back since you are the only one to stand a chance against me."

 

Rey was stunned. She didn’t want to believe him, yet she could see the truth in his eyes. He continued without mercy, railing against her.

 

“And here you are, racing around again without thinking. Right into my grasp. Now, who is the impulsive one of us?” he sneered.

 

Rey’s blood boiled in her veins. He whole body was shaking with utter rage.

 

“Why you...you conceited... narrow-minded... arrogant snake!…How dare you toy with me like this? You don’t possess me!” 

 

Before Kylo could respond, her hand came flying against his face. With a loud slap, his head spun with the impact.

 

He was so stupefied it took him a moment to register what she had just done. No one had ever dared to slap him before. He shifted his head slowly towards her again, his cheek reddened by the hit, and under his feral, enraged eyes, she had time to actually fear his reaction.

 

He took a step toward her, and she lifted her hand in a desperate attempt to stop him. He grabbed her wrist and her clavicle and pushed her violently against the elevator wall, where her head and whole body connected with a loud thump.

 

“That’s ENOUGH!” he roared.

 

He was only a few inches from her face. His jaw was shaking uncontrollably. His dark, burning eyes were twitching, and Rey thought that this time she had crossed the red line.

 

But, against all odds -

 

- he crushed his lips against hers.

 

If he had shocked Rey before, it was nothing compared to this.

 

His kiss was frantic, almost punishing, and it took her a moment to close her eyes under the scorching feeling of his hot but oh so soft lips against hers. He ran his tongue wildly along the seam of her lips, and then, soothing the scrape of his teeth, pushed for entrance and Rey opened her mouth to him. He deepened the kiss with a low, eager groan in his throat. Their tongues circled each other fiercely. How exactly she found herself kissing back the man she had just slapped was beyond her understanding.

 

Passion was unleashed as each of them took a bite of the Forbidden Fruit. And everything else was forgotten.

 

But something else was happening. As they kissed, their Force connection blossomed; it blew like a soft breeze, its luminous golden threads spreading and enveloping them like a vine. She felt his Darkness penetrate her as he felt her Light pour into his soul, and their energies fused in the middle like two different colors merging as one. It flowed into their minds and bodies as a powerful feeling of belonging, of feeling...home.

 

It made both of them long for more. Kylo released her wrists and took his gloves off hastily, throwing them on the ground, his lips never leaving her mouth. She whimpered when his broad hands settled on her small frame and arched her body against his heated one while he caressed her back and squeezed her ass through the gauzy fabric of her skirt. One of her hands went to cup his jaw while the other threaded through his hair. She was amazed at how silky and soft it felt under her fingers.

 

It was a whirlwind of fire. The way he took her mouth over and over again was driving her insane. She felt a growing heat in her lower stomach. Suddenly, he pulled her skirt up and lifted her bare left leg, wrapping it around his own while he caressed her naked skin, her hips and ass under her panties, and she could now feel his hard and hot bulge pressing against her. 

 

Kylo felt so tight in his pants he was aching, and his back was starting to hurt from him bending so much. He released her lips and they had a moment to see each other’s red, flustered faces, their heated gazes and swollen lips, before he grabbed her buttocks and lifted her up and pressed her against the elevator wall. He settled himself between her legs, and Rey wrapped hers around him while she held onto his broad shoulders. He pressed his hardness against her and Rey muffled a cry at the unspeakable sensation of his cock rocking against her clit, sending an electric current through her whole spine. At the same time, he went straight for the spot between her earlobe and neck without mercy, tasting, kissing and licking her. Rey rolled her head and moaned out loud; her skin crawled at the incredible feeling of his sloppy tongue and hot breath all over her.

 

Kylo was dizzy with lust. Her scent invaded his nostrils, clouding his mind. He wouldn’t have noticed if Snoke himself had walked on them. He wanted more of everything. He wanted to claim her. He lowered his lips to the rest of her neck, while he ground his hips against her core. Feeling how wet she was for him through his pants as well as the smell of her arousal was driving him utterly mad.

 

Rey wasn’t doing any better; she was progressively transforming into a molten pit of lava and was panting and moaning with her eyes closed with pleasure under his ministrations. The sound of her cries turned Kylo on more if that was even possible. He pressed her harder against the wall. Holding her with one arm, he cupped one of her breasts with his hand and played with it through the fabric with his fingers. The feeling was so new and sharp she forgot to breathe.

 

She opened her eyes under the heightened sensations, and all of a sudden she realized he was going to take her right there, in the elevator.

 

A rush of panic filled her. She was a virgin and had envisioned everything but this for their first time. To make things worse, she knew that he was big and thick, and she felt frightened.

 

 

“Ben…” she moaned as he was now nestling his nose in her cleavage, trying to get to her breasts.

 

“Ben, please, wait...” she stressed, trying to gather strength to stop him in the wake of her own lust.

 

The sound of her voice snapped him back to reality. Kylo suddenly raised his face from the crook of her neck with a grunt, and when his gaze met hers, he seemed completely lost. His disheveled hair was sticking out all over the place, and his swollen red mouth was parted. He was trying to catch his breath. His eyes drank her in, questioning through their bond why she was stopping him.

 

Her chest was heaving frantically. “Ben, I - I...” she whispered, but upon seeing his desperate eyes, she was unable to speak.

 

“I want you, please... kriff, I need you...” he begged between hot breaths against her lips. His heated, languid gaze watched her as if she was the sun and the seven stars.

 

His words made her shiver with need; she wanted all of him but was scared.

 

“Wrong place?” he asked tentatively, reading her thoughts, his eyes pleading for more of her.

 

She’d settle for that. “Ye-yes,” she stuttered.

 

Relief washed over his features. Without a word, their lips met again while he opened the elevator with a flick of his hand. He carried her to the apartment between kisses and quick pecks in the same position, and she wrapped her arms around his neck for better balance.

 

Luckily for them, the entrance was close enough, but he was so impatient he shoved her against the door, and they smashed against it while he ravaged her neck again, tasting and kissing her everywhere. Then, he straightened a bit and their eyes met. He didn’t know how the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes upon had ended up in his arms, but he felt like the luckiest man in the galaxy. 

 

This time, she was the one to kiss him passionately. She embraced him, drawing his head toward hers, running her fingers through his hair, showing him without words that despite her apprehensions, she wanted only him. He was so aroused he couldn't help but rub himself against her wet panties. If he didn’t do something quickly he was going to come in his pants. Still kissing her, he tried to figure out the code to open the door with his left hand.

 

But without warning, a voice echoed in the hallway.

 

“Master?

"Open your heart" Art by the incredible Reyloship82

Chapter Text

 

Rey and Kylo froze while their sloppy lips were still intertwined. Their gazes immediately darted to the hallway where they’d heard the voice.

 

The three Knights of Ren standing in the hallway had stopped abruptly, a few meters away, upon seeing them. Kylo lowered Rey slowly to the ground; she slid her legs down, untangling herself from him and re-arranging her messy hair. Despite their masks, she recognized the lean figure of Vrieska Ren at once. She was accompanied by a huge knight behind her who carried a terrifying axe over his shoulder, and another slimmer, black-clad man who stood beside him. This was unmistakably the elegant body of Jendi Ren, the knight who had led Rey and Ransolm to the prison cell, and although he hadn’t spoken at all, she recognized his unique mask.

 

“Vrieska, I hardly think this is the moment,” snapped Kylo, his tone frustrated and full of warning. He had never been so grateful for the long tunic he wore over his pants, although the sight of the trio had almost immediately cooled his previously throbbing erection.

 

Never had Vrieska been so grateful for wearing her mask. The color had drained from her face, and she was overwhelmed by emotion.

 

Even in her wildest nightmares, there was no way she could have imagined witnessing such a scene. Kylo had been holding this…girl – crushed against the door, apparently on the verge of bedding her and had been so immersed in kissing her that he hadn’t even felt their approach. Kriff.

 

It was a bad dream. Soon enough, the faint stirrings of a scene she had tried to relegate to the mists of oblivion resurfaced like a hidden monster at the back of her mind…

 

…Seven years ago…

 

 

It had been soon after the Temple massacre. Now renamed the Knights of Ren, they had been seeking Sith artifacts for many months, embracing the Dark Side and mastering it, destroying everything along their way. After slaughtering a whole tribe to recover an ancient lightsaber, they had landed in a cantina on a remote rainy planet. That day, Ben, now Kylo Ren, had demonstrated the strangest behavior as if he had seen a vision. And that night, for the first time since she’d met him, he’d been completely drunk. She herself had been quite tipsy, and the alcohol had without a doubt helped her make her move – one that she had come to bitterly regret.

 

When they had gone to bed that night, she had followed him discreetly. Her voluptuous curves had mounted him half-naked without warning, and she’d rocked herself over his manhood. In the most seductive and heated tone, she had told him how much she wanted him to fuck her senseless. She was aware of her good looks, and many men desired her... But Kylo Ren was not just any man.

 

He had shoved her off angrily, and in his drunkenness, he had scolded her for believing that he could ever think of her that way, hissing with an enraged voice that he'd never bed her. She had been completely taken aback. Never in her life had she been so crushed. However, she’d swallowed her pride and had stayed at his side, shaking off the greatest humiliation she had ever suffered. She had been grateful enough that Kylo hadn’t spread a word of the incident to the others.

 

 

She winced at the recollection and shivered. Now, her worst nightmare stood right before her. It was a cold shower. Her heart constricted with the intense pain of seeing the man she most admired preferring another woman. And not just any woman.

 

She considered Rey from behind her mask, her whole body tensed with jealousy and rage as she saw Kylo standing in front of her, almost protecting her. Who was this Jedi girl? How did she know him? What did Kylo see in her? Why did he go against everything they had fought against for so many years just to be with her? She scanned Rey's body carefully and saw nothing special.

 

Suddenly, she was reminded of an earlier conversation, in the middle of the night, with General Hux…

 

 

“He did what?!” Hux had remarked in total disbelief as she’d stood before him aboard the Supremacy.

 

“You are all but deaf, General. He brought her to the Opera. I was following them, so there is no possible error,” she’d snapped, cold as ice.

 

“This is complete madness! He put a bounty on that girl’s head, only to take her to the Opera? Has he lost his mind? We need to do something before he decides to undermine the Empire’s reputation any further! Whenever it comes to this…girl, he loses his mind!” the red-haired general had bellowed.

 

Vrieska had silently agreed.

 

“Vrieska Ren, for the sake of your Order and our Empire, I urge you to take measures. Can you not see he will ruin everything? Have you thought about my offer?”

 

Vrieska’s gloved fists had clenched so firmly at her side that they had quivered. Though fury had coursed through her veins, her heart had been ravaged by doubt.

 

After a long moment pondering her options, she’d spoken again, her voice shaky.

 

“I-I have one condition.”

 

 

Despite her agony, she brought herself back to reality and composed herself.

 

“Master! Hux is staging a coup!” she blurted out.

 

What?!” Kylo choked in utter confusion, his brow wrinkling.

 

"You heard me. He's gathering the troops at this very moment. We came to warn you. We have to act fast!" Vrieska insisted urgently.

 

Kylo was so stupefied he stood still, trying to process the intel.

 

“You’re lying,” Rey accused quietly; Kylo shifted toward her and their gaze met.

 

“Stay out of this, you Jedi liar! Who would ever believe your kind?” Vrieska’s voice bellowed from under the mask.

 

“What’s your problem, lady? Upset because I was kissing your Master?” Rey sneered while glancing back at her, her mouth twisting in an angry snarl. She slid a leg back and instinctively adopted a defense position. She felt the rage building up as she remembered Kylo's words about her desire for him. But then, she felt a tremor in Vrieska's Force signature. She knew she had struck a nerve. Ah, suits you right, she thought to herself.

 

However, before Vrieska could retort, the huge knight behind her intervened. He took a few steps forward and towered next to her.

 

“She’s not lying. Hux is about to overthrow you,” Gadreel Ren said steadily, directing himself only to Kylo.

 

Kylo hesitated for an instant. Kriff. He had no choice.

 

“You three, wait for me downstairs. I’ll be right with you,” Kylo finally commanded as he grabbed Rey by the arm and pulled her over towards the entrance door of the apartment.

 

No, Ben what are you doing?” she cried out and tried to wrench herself out of his grasp. She was not going to let him go alone.

 

His grip tightened about her as he led her into the office, shutting the door behind him. He whirled her around toward him as she tried to free herself.

 

“Ben, there is no --” Kylo silenced her by pressing his lips to hers, steadying her by holding her firmly in place. She kissed him back, and their tongues circled each other again. Soon, he deepened the kiss with a groan while putting his hands through her hair, and she grunted under the maddening sensation of his hot mouth all over hers once again.

 

As he felt dizzy with lust again, and afraid he wouldn’t have the strength to resist her, he broke their embrace, but his hands never left her face. He bore his dark gaze into hers.

 

Please. Wait for me. I have to go,” Kylo told Rey, even though he burned with desire. 

 

“Ben, don’t!...or let me go with you!” she demanded.

 

“No, I have to do this alone; it’s my business,” he retorted without hesitation.

 

“I have a bad feeling about this, please, Ben! Don’t leave me here waiting!” She begged him, eyebrows creasing painfully.

 

His gaze fixed intensely on her beautiful hazel irises.

 

“Rey, listen to me. I have to do this alone. And besides…Vrieska hates you. I don’t want you to get hurt. She’s a fearsome killer, strong with the Dark Side,” he explained quickly, pressing the point.

 

Rey opened her mouth to plead her case, but she was left speechless as she remembered that if it hadn’t been for Ben, Vrieska would have killed her when she and Ransolm had been captured. She nevertheless chased the thought away immediately. It didn’t matter.

 

“I’m not afraid of her!” Rey insisted.

 

“I know you aren’t. And I know you are stronger than Vrieska. But I won’t let you go. Please understand me,” he stressed in a soft but pleading voice.

 

Rey was left unsure of what to say. She silently searched for a way to convince him, but there were none. Through the bond, she felt what he felt, and she knew then that she had no choice.

 

She let out a sigh of resignation and Kylo sensed she understood. Nevertheless, his fears kicked in, and panic got the best of him. He pressed his forehead against hers, stroking her hair.

 

“I beg you, don’t go. Don’t leave me again. Wait for me here,” he supplicated in a desperate whisper.

 

“I’ll wait, Ben…” she murmured weakly and then swallowed hard.

 

His hands lowered to her face, and he caressed her cheek gently while she put her hand over his broad one, stroking it tenderly, closing her eyes under his warmth. “Thank you,” he said, visibly relieved of his inner turmoil. Tears spilled down Rey’s cheeks before her eyelashes fluttered open again. She noticed then that his eyes weren’t dark…they had light in them, a deep chestnut color.

 

“And when I come back… I will make love to you,” Kylo quipped with a faint grin, his sad demeanor revealing how much it cost him to leave her.

 

Had he just thought about sex in such a moment? A rosy blush swept across her face as she peered at him shyly under his heated gaze. But before she could ask, Ben locked his mouth once more with hers. He dragged his tongue over her lips, in a desperate attempt to carve in his memory her taste, the way her lips moved under his, her scent, the softness of her skin…

 

Releasing her was torture. He left her lips with a sucking sound as his black eyelashes flickered open again. He lowered his hands from her face and took a step back toward the door.

 

“Please, be careful!” Rey pleaded as her heart swelled with an unknown feeling.

 

Why did she have the unshakable sensation she would never see him again?

 

"I will. Shaia will be with you," he replied, his voice almost cracking with emotion. His gaze was soft...almost loving. He gathered his strength and opened the door. “I’ll come back, Rey, I promise,” he vowed before disappearing through the door.

 

I’ll come back …I promise…

 

Rey’s stomach twisted into knots.

 

Those words. That voice.

 

It had been him. It hadn’t been the past. It had been the future.

 

She burst out into tears, burying her face in her hands. All this time, it had been Ben. And now, they were apart again. Even if she knew how powerful he was, he was running head first into danger. How could he take on a whole army of Stormtroopers? It was madness. Her whole body shivered as she sobbed helplessly.

 

But all of a sudden, she remembered something; she could see the main street from her quarters.

 

Not losing one minute, she ran toward the immense bay window as fast as she could, lifting her white skirt as it billowed around her. Maybe she could see where he was heading. She searched hastily through all the elegant cars and pedestrians as they attended to their evening business.

 

In the distance, the sun was starting to fade in a yellowish-orange glow as it pursued its irrevocable course down toward the twinkling turquoise sea, where it would soon disappear.

 

At last, Rey spotted them.

 

Kylo was leading the three knights in the main street, just below the palace, and they were heading toward a bunch of black bikes not so far away. His single-shoulder cape was flowing behind him.

 

Please, be safe, she pleaded deep in her soul while her hands gathered as if she were praying. As she was watching him leave, Kylo’s head turned and shifted toward the Palace. His gaze unmistakably flew right to hers. They met in silence, and Rey leaned a bit more, now pressing her hands against the window.

 

Had he heard her prayer? She would never know.

 

Instead, she saw Vrieska glance at him and then signal at the other two knights.

 

Rey’s heart skipped a beat.

 

Without warning, they jumped on Kylo who, sensing the surprise move, barely had time to react. But it was too late.

 

The huge knight had already raised his axe. He sliced Kylo’s back in a blink of an eye, and blood gushed out, while Vrieska, who had retrieved a massive metal bat from nowhere, smashed it violently against his head. Rey actually heard him scream in pain. Kylo fell to the ground, and a pool of blood started to leak from his torn tunic.

 

“BEN! NOOO!!” Rey’s heart almost stopped as she cried out at the top of her lungs, clasping her hands on her mouth, her eyes going round from utter shock. Her whole body shuddered with intense pain.

 

She was so petrified she couldn’t move. The crowd was screaming, fleeing the scene. But all she could see was Kylo’s body writhing in pain as he struggle to get to his feet, but Vrieska aimed again at the back of his head. Rey almost heard the crack of the second hit, and this time Kylo was left motionless on the ground. Jendi Ren was already bringing his arms together and tying them up.

 

“No, no, no!” Rey repeated restlessly to herself. I have to stop them!

 

Using the Force, she destroyed the window before her. It came down in pieces with a crashing sound, and Rey covered her face with her arms. The sharp cutting glass ripped her white gown and pierced her skin, leaving small cuts on her arms and chest.

 

At that very moment, she heard a voice.

 

“Rey! What is -- ” Shaia’s ancient voice shrieked.

 

Rey saw the elderly woman completely astonished before the scene, but she didn’t have time to explain. She straightened at once and looked down again toward the street.

 

But she couldn’t do anything.

 

The three knights had tied Kylo’s hands behind him, and the largest of the trio was carrying him over his shoulder. They were already reaching the bikes, leaving a trail of blood behind them. Yet they were too far for her to reach them with the Force.

 

Shaia came running toward the window, the glass cracking under her steps.

 

“Shaia!” Rey veered toward the old woman, full of alarm “They turned on him! The knights, I saw them! They sliced his back and hit his head! Look!” Rey pointed at them below.

 

Shaia’s face revealed her utter confusion. She looked out at what was now a big hole. Indeed, behind her half-moon spectacles she caught a glimpse of the three figures getting on their bikes while Kylo’s body lay, visibly unconscious and bound with a thick rope to the back seat of one of the cycles. They flew off with a whizzing sound through the crowd, escaping without a trace.

 

Before Shaia could say anything, Rey began pacing hysterically.

 

“I have to do something! My clothes, where are they?” she asked, as she started to open all the drawers in her quarters erratically.

 

Shaia closed the distance between them and grabbed her shoulders with all her strength.

 

“Rey, calm down!” she ordered as she shook her slightly, forcing her to focus.

 

“Shaia! They are going to kill him!” Rey exclaimed.

 

“Rey, calm down! I know, I saw them! Don’t lose your cool. Think!” Shaia commanded sharply. The tailor had seen way too much in the galaxy to lose her composure over a betrayal like this one.

 

At last, Rey composed herself a bit, though her chest still heaved. She looked down at the ground and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Okay…okay.” She takes in a shallow breath. “You’re right.” She filled her lungs with air and remembered Luke’s teachings. After a few seconds, she managed to get control of her frantic breaths. “Do you know where my lightsaber is? That’s the first thing I need!” she exclaimed decidedly.

 

“A lightsaber? What does it look like?” inquired Shaia, arching an eyebrow.

 

“It’s a long, metal object, like a small staff -“

 

Shaia cut in. “Oh. I know! It’s in Lord Ren’s quarters on a low cupboard. I saw it last time I went in; it drew my attention,” she explained, and Rey didn’t lose a minute. She raced through the apartment, and Shaia followed as fast as her old bones allowed.

 

This time the room wasn’t locked and Rey stormed in, surveying it quickly. Last night, she hadn’t had the chance to properly look around; however, what immediately caught her attention was the smell - it was filled with his scent...that unique mix of leather, ink, old paper, and soap. The distinctive cologne he used filled her nostrils, too.

 

She remembered everything and shivered.

 

His lips. His eyes. The blood.

 

She shook her head. She had to regain her composure. Over in the distance, she could feel the ebb and flow of his Force signature. Even if it was weak, it meant he was still alive. She would have to be comforted by that for the moment.

 

She glanced around again. Apart from the big canopy bed, there were old books, quills, and pieces of parchment laying on a big rectangular desk, as well as a screen for the HoloNet.

 

Then, she spotted it.

 

Her lightsaber was resting on top of a small wooden cupboard on a bulky burgundy cushion. She rushed toward it.

 

But something else drew her attention. The lightsaber was wrapped in the middle by a piece of parchment and an elegant crimson ribbon.

 

What was this?

 

She grabbed the lightsaber and untied the ribbon. The piece of paper instantly unrolled a bit. She took it carefully, and it unfolded in her hands.

 

Her heart sank.

 

The old parchment displayed beautiful, black-inked penmanship.

 

It read:

Moonshine Complete SISW

Art by @Reylocalligraphy

 

Moonshine

In the midst of the boundless night

At the setting of the sun and the rising of the stars

A shining Opal burning bright

Rose in the wake of eternal wars.

 

Beautiful, defiant and draped in light

It split my tormented soul apart

And in the mystical colors of twilight

Left an everlasting scar on my shattered heart.

 

With what witchcraft and beauty forbidden

Have you captured the fractured edges of my soul?

In black ink, I must confess what in my chest lies hidden

Where all that is carved within is but a shallow hole.

 

For life is but a walking shadow

Without the Moonshine’s light

Brightening the darkest nights

Soothing my outbursts of sorrow.

 

 

Rey couldn’t believe it.

 

He had written her a poem.

 

Worse. It was a declaration. Given that Kylo was incapable of expressing his feelings otherwise, he had channeled all of them through his writing.

 

All of a sudden, an image…a memory flashed in the back of her mind…

 

She had seen this once before.

 

The day the Force bond had opened, after his mother’s death... Right after her first vision of him, when she had come back through the First Door. She had glimpsed the word “Moonshine” written on a piece of parchment he’d been working on while she had hugged him from behind.

 

That’s when he had composed it.

 

She pictured him, alone and miserable in his quarters, mourning his mother. In his darkest hour, his aching, lonely heart had spilled all his affections through his ink and quill.

 

He had not only cried for his mother; he had wept for her, his Moonshine.

 

Upon recalling all this, tears silently ran down her cheeks. Her whole body ached, and she felt an intense pain in her back.

 

“My child! What is happening?” Shaia shrieked. She had finally reached Kylo’s quarters and found her.

 

Rey wailed harder, her lungs searching for air. Between short coughs and breaths, she handed her the parchment with shaking hands. Shaia took it with an intrigued look, her brows furrowing. As she read, her face progressively broke into an awestruck expression.

 

“...I-I knew...he had feelings, but this...” she said, her voice trembling as she glanced at Rey again, but upon seeing her devastated expression, she came closer and wrapped her arms around her.

 

She then took out an elegant handkerchief, edged with blue lace, from one of her pockets and started wiping Rey's face. "There, there…now focus, Rey. The Emperor needs you," she said warmly. Then, she handed the poem back to Rey, who very carefully folded it and tucked it into her dress, right over her heart.

 

Rey then blew her nose unceremoniously in the handkerchief and was about to say something-

 

Suddenly, a loud noise echoed from the office, and the two women froze.

 

Someone was knocking furiously on the entrance door.

 

“Kylo! Are you in there?” a voice bellowed.

 

Rey and Shaia stared at each other.

 

Rey grabbed the lightsaber, and both of them dashed toward the office.

 

“For Force’s sake, someone open that damn door! Or I will take it down,” the voice growled, and at last, Rey realized that it was  Keido Ren.

 

She turned to Shaia and whispered. “Shaia, quick, get to a safe place.”

 

Despite her age, Shaia was no coward. She walked to a corner of the office, shielding herself away from harm, although she hated to leave Rey even for one minute.

 

The young Jedi focused for an instant. Then, she felt a slight rush of air as she opened the door with the Force.

 

Keido Ren didn’t see it coming. Using Kylo’s technique, she froze him with the Force, holding him in place with her hand outstretched before her.

 

He had his mask off, and she could see his astonished expression. Rey carefully walked toward him, never releasing her grip as he tried to move but failed completely.

 

Without warning, a flick of her right hand made Keido kneel down before her.

 

With her left hand, Rey ignited her double-bladed lightsaber.

 

It was time to use another feature of the blade she had not yet tried. She took the saber with both hands, holding it horizontally, and concentrated. Suddenly, the blade broke in half, allowing her to wield two blue lightsabers, one in each hand.

 

It was a bold piece of engineering she had worked very hard on when assembling the two blades together.

 

Keido Ren was astonished. She approached slowly and crossed both sabers under his neck, so that she could kill him in an instant. She released her grasp on him so he could actually speak.

 

Keido took in her appearance. 

 

She looked terrifying.

 

Keido Ren couldn’t tear his eyes away from her: the sabers’ lights were reflecting off her white dress and skin. They illuminated her face with gleaming blue light. The crackling sound of the deep-blue unstable crystal echoed in the stillness. She glared at him. Her gaze was murderous.

 

Keido had a moment to fear for his life.

 

What did you do to him?” she shot at him with a low, lethal tone. 

 

Keido swallowed and his brow wrinkled. “I don’t understand…” he responded in a strangled voice as the blue light reflected in his black, almond-shaped eyes.

 

Rey’s shoulders stiffened and she snarled, “Do-not-play-with-me! Where is he?! Why did you betray him?!” Rey snapped furiously, irises aflame.

 

What?” the knight’s face showed complete incomprehension. “What are you talking about? I came here because I felt a tremor in his Force signature. It almost disappeared. I came to see if he was here.”

 

Rey was completely stunned. She reached out with her feelings, but she sensed none of the dishonesty that she had felt from Vrieska.

 

"I saw it earlier. The knights…Vrieska and a…a huge guy with an axe as well as someone called Jendi, I think. They slashed his back and hit him on the head. He was knocked unconscious. Vrieska talked about Hux staging a coup, but they betrayed him!" The words poured out of Rey's mouth like venom.

 

Upon hearing this, Keido Ren paused, and Rey could feel the confusion and anger in his Force signature.

 

“I don’t believe you,” he said defiantly.

 

Shaia appeared in the doorway behind Rey. She glanced at the knight on the ground, who immediately recognized her from the Supremacy.

 

“She is telling the truth! I saw it myself,” she told the knight with a stern and serious tone.

 

Keido held Shaia's gaze momentarily, at a loss for words. He shut his eyes and appeared to be concentrating, almost meditating.

 

When he opened them again, his expression had changed. “Yesterday...you told me your name was Rey, right?”

 

That took Rey by surprise, although she never lowered the blades from under his neck

 

“Yes,” she answered.

 

“My name is Keido. I swore loyalty to Kylo seven years ago, the night Luke Skywalker, my old Master, tried to kill him. I did not, nor will I ever betray him. He is my Master. But now that you’ve told me all this, I am starting to understand what happened.”

 

“Tell me,” commanded Rey.

 

“The knights you mentioned: Vrieska always had a soft spot for our Master. I warned Kylo about this, but he didn’t pay attention. The giant with the axe is Gadreel Ren. He always hated Kylo. He’s rebellious and defiant. He never accepted his failure in their duel, when Kylo won against all of us. Vrieska must have talked him into betraying Kylo. And the last knight, Jendi Ren - to make a long story short, he will always follow Vrieska... Until death parts them.”

 

Rey listened closely, analyzing every word he said. It all made sense. She had, in fact, heard Keido’s warning herself. He wasn’t lying.

 

“Do you know where they took him?” she inquired.

 

Keido thought for a minute.

 

“If you say that Vrieska spoke about Hux organizing a rebellion, I would say the Supremacy. But I have no way to be certain,” explained Keido while still on his knees.

 

Rey made a mental note before Keido continued hesitantly.

 

“Y-You...you are strong with the Force. I can sense your darkness, yet the Light is so powerful in you it almost burns…who are you?” asked Keido Ren. “How do you know my Master?”

 

Rey considered him in silence. She felt his question came from the heart. She pondered her answer, but the Force whispered she should tell the truth.

 

“I am his Other. The Force willed my birth to compensate for his growing Darkness. We share a Force Bond. Our destinies are tied together,” she explained, not knowing why she was doing so. She trusted the Force.

 

Keido was dumbfounded. He opened his mouth in awe, but nothing came out of it. Even Shaia, who was standing at her side, was stupefied by the revelation. Rey turned her gaze toward her.

 

“It is the truth, Shaia,” said Rey resolutely.

 

“I-I thought so...I saw it. Wh-when you touched hands,” stuttered Shaia tenderly.

 

Keido was now staring at her reverently as if she were a goddess.

 

“You are his Other...” muttered Keido with amazement. As this sank in, his normally inscrutable expression became more animated. A gleam lit his black eyes. “Kylo has been acting too strangely around you for me not to notice. I-I…,” he hesitated. “He needs you.”

 

Keido’s mind was racing. “If you let me go, I can help you. I can gather the others. We can find where they took him.”

 

Rey was surprised, but then she remembered Ben had trusted him with some very deep, personal feelings.

 

She pondered her choice for a moment. She concentrated on Keido’s Force signature, and it showed no ire or hate. Then so be it, she thought to herself and turned off the lightsabers.

 

Keido took a moment and then rose slowly. He searched for something in his cloak. Rey maintained her guard, never releasing her lightsaber hilts, just in case.

 

But didn’t try to attack her. Instead, he took a small object from his robes and handed it to her.

 

"This is how I communicate with him. Take it. I will let you know his surroundings as soon as I know anything. Do not let it fall into the wrong hands,” he said decidedly, and Rey took the strange-looking object from his hand.

 

He glanced at her again before wrapping his cloak around him. "I must go and seek the others. I will get in touch with you. You should get out of here fast before Hux invades the whole Palace."

 

Rey nodded as her brows furrowed. It sounded like a fair warning.

 

Rey watched her newfound strange ally race out like a silent panther. She clenched her teeth at the lingering pain she was feeling everywhere and had been keeping at bay all this time.

 

“Rey, are you alright?” inquired Shaia with concern.

 

The younger woman turned to her. “It’s nothing. Please, Shaia, where are my clothes? I cannot fight in this…dress,” she said, looking down at herself. The dress was torn apart in some places, and it looked more gray than white at this point.

 

They returned quickly to Rey’s quarters. Night had fallen. Shaia handed Rey her old clothes. Rey was happy to change into her tunic, which had been washed and ironed, and then put on her boots. She felt like herself again.

 

She went toward the bathroom where she had hidden the communication device she used to contact Chewie when she had first taken a bath, and pressed it hastily.

 

“Chewie, do you copy? Chewie?” After several minutes trying to get ahold of him, she finally heard a familiar growl through the device. Shaia was astounded that Rey could actually understand such a barbaric form of communication.

 

“Chewie! At last! Where are you? Are you still here?” asked Rey hurriedly. “Yes, I know, I couldn’t -what?! Ransolm came back, but he was -”

 

Rey’s face lightened as the Wookie explained something to her.

 

“Thank the Force! Of course, it was mayhem earlier on. He’s such a clever man! Wait for me; I’ll be there as soon as I can!” she said, shutting the device off and sticking it in a leather pouch hanging from her belt.

 

“Shaia! We need to get out of here!”

 

“Correction, you need to leave, and fast,” replied Shaia.

 

“What do you mean? You’re coming with me!” exclaimed an indignant Rey.

 

“My dear Rey, I am too old for this. I can barely move my limbs. My place is here, although I do not know what will become of me now. I do hope to see Lord Ren again.”

 

Rey’s chest constricted, but she nevertheless understood. And she had no time to argue.

 

“Will I ever see you again?” she asked, taking the old woman’s warm hands into hers.

 

“I certainly hope so, my dear. It was an honor to meet you. Please, do save him. I will hold both of you in my prayers,” she said, wrapping her frail arms around Rey.

 

Rey felt a lump in her throat as she hugged her tight. “Thank you, Shaia. If you ever want to contact me, try the Resistance; they will probably know where I am.”

 

Shaia beamed. “I certainly will. Now go, run! I will make up a story for these mindless commanders and that General Hux, the cunning fox. He even has hair that resembles one! I never liked him,” she said with contempt, and Rey had to suppress a chuckle.

 

It took all of Rey’s willpower to untie herself from Shaia’s motherly embrace.

 

And then, she ran. She ran as fast as her legs could carry her, despite the fact that her body was screaming in pain. The Force had gifted her with a good sense of direction, and after the never-ending desert of Jakku, Canto Bight was a piece of cake. Nobody would have paid any attention to her anyway. The knights had left chaos behind them, and the whole city was in a frenzy. She had no problem finding her way back to the main spaceport where they had landed only three days ago. So many things had changed since then.

 

She dashed up the Falcon’s ramp and almost crashed into Chewie.

 

“Chewie! Oh, am I glad to see you!” She embraced the enormous Wookie, who welcomed her between growls, howls, and moans, his huge furry hands so tight he almost choked her.

 

Ransolm came flying toward them.

 

“Ransolm, just how -?!” asked a flabbergasted Rey when she saw him appear in the Falcon’s corridor.

 

“Long story. I will explain later. We have to get out of here. The whole city is on alert. And we have a new guest aboard!”

 

“A guest…?” Rey trailed off.

 

The Wookie and the blond man raced down to the cockpit. The engines had been warming for a while, so thankfully they took off at once.

 

As Rey was checking on the Falcon, a very young boy peered in her direction shyly from the cockpit’s hallway. Rey watched him, intrigued, and she approached him with care. She quickly noticed he had a Resistance ring on his finger. Ransolm came out of the cockpit right behind him.

 

“Rey, this is Temiri. He helped me escape from the prison.” Rey cocked her head and bent down a bit to take a better look at him. There was something familiar about this boy. “I do think he’s a Force user,” explained Ransolm joyfully.

 

That was it. How -

 

But all of a sudden, she felt it. Her head spun, and her heart contracted. She sank to her knees, gasping. It was as if the Force was abandoning her. The air failed her lungs, her head was spinning madly, and she was about to faint.

 

“Rey! What’s going on? Are you all right?” Ransom crouched down immediately.

 

Ben’s signature had just disappeared from the Force.

 

“There is no horizon for us” Art by the amazingly talented Reyloship82

Chapter Text

Three days had passed.

 

Rey jolted when a warm hand shook her out of her dreadful nightmares. She shivered under the feeling, blinked and tried to focus. Ransolm was kneeling next to her bed, gently considering her, and it was obvious he didn’t like what he was seeing.

 

Truth be told, Rey looked like a ghost. Her whole skin was ashen and anemic, her lips were parted as if she had a high fever. The gray rims under her eyes added to her sick appearance. However, her exterior aspect betrayed half her inner turmoil and despair.

 

"Rey, Finn and Rose have just come back from their mission," said Ransolm, who was torn between the guilt of waking her up and the belief he was doing her a favor after seeing her shake in her bunk; she was surely having a bad dream about Kylo again. He was holding a glass of a yellow liquid and handed it to her. “Here, take this, for vitamins. You need to see a doctor.”

 

Rey used the little strength she had to straighten in her bed. She took the glass and gulped the contents. “Thank you,” she mumbled and gave it back to him. “Do…do you really think I should see them?” she inquired hesitantly.

 

“Yes. I told them you are sick. They were both worried. They wish to see you. It’s going to be okay…” Ransolm answered tenderly.

 

Rey nodded in silence.

 

“I’ll tell them to come in. They’re having some breakfast. I don’t think it’s safe for you to move too much,” Ransolm offered. Upon seeing no objection on her behalf, he stood up and left the room without closing the door.

 

Many things had changed during her exile. 

 

Part of the Rebels had moved to the planet Kuat, a shipbuilding and industrial planet located in the Kuat System, in the galaxy’s Core World region. The Rebellion was rebuilding a fleet in secrecy in the old Kuat Yard Drive, which had been the former Empire’s main Star-destroyer factory until they had lost the base in the arising of the New Republic.

 

The Rebels’ ranks were flowing with new recruits, especially after Kylo had proclaimed the new Empire. People feared tyranny again, for the memories of the last Imperial rule had left open wounds. Poe commanded the Rebels alongside Ransolm, and both of them had ascended to the rank of General. Their leading methods were opposites. They thought differently. However, Poe’s hot blood was steadied by Ransolm’s strategic and rational thinking. Both of them balanced each other and tried to overcome their differences for the greater good. Nevertheless, conflict was always looming. They had gotten into a massive argument about bringing Rey back and had quarreled bitterly right in front of her and Temiri. Casterfoe, faithful to his political background, had stated his case proudly by telling Poe that true leaders knew how to recognize their real allies despite their personal aversion and prejudice. After glaring at him, Poe had simply walked out without another glance.

 

Rey couldn’t have felt any worse and she’d dreaded seeing Finn again. Temiri had been hiding behind her during the whole heated discussion. Rey had found a bit of comfort in hugging the young Force-sensitive boy and reassuring him that everything was going to be alright. 

 

Finn and Rose, now Commanders, were not around at the time they’d landed on Kuat. They had set off on a mission to investigate the Empire’s covert dealings on Jedha and Ilum. From the intelligence they had gathered, the Empire was extracting Kyber Crystals again, although not in large quantities. The Rebellion feared another Death Star, but there were no signs of such a superweapon being constructed.

 

The Rebellion was desperate to rebuild the fleet. It had been Poe and Ransolm’s first priority and both of them took turns to oversee the process on Kuat. Now, they were hiding in an old, abandoned industrial building. It was cold and gray, which added to Rey’s misery.

 

Since she’d sensed Ben’s Force signature disappear, not only had she lost her will to live, but her health had unexplainably worsened. She thought the main reason was she almost didn’t feel the Force through her veins anymore, and that fact conveyed so many questions. She had no answers for the doubts that tormented her. Why did she suddenly lose her connection to the Force? Was it because the bond had broken? Was it because… he was dead? She had cried all the tears the had left, and her gut wrenched each time she thought of him.

 

 “Rey…”  a voice suddenly whispered, and Rey gasped in surprise. 

 

She lifted her chin and met Finn’s black gaze. As he took her appearance in, his brow furrowed.

 

With time, Finn’s past grudge had partially ebbed away. The feeling was replaced by genuine concern when he’d heard she’d accompanied Ransolm right were Kylo Ren was supposed to be. But he was still bitter. He had felt betrayed by his friend, and the wound ran deep. However, upon seeing her state now, he was alarmed and worried.

 

He took a few steps toward her hastily with his arms opened, and Rey rose to meet his embrace. They hugged tightly. Rey couldn't suppress the lump in her throat as her friend caressed her back, silently acknowledging he’d missed her.

 

When he finally untied himself from her, he checked her from top to bottom.

 

“Rey, what happened…?”

 

Rey hadn’t seen herself in a mirror, but Finn’s reaction was enough to assure her she looked horrendous. Then, Rose came slowly toward them. She gave Rey a faint smile which Rey returned, and the two women embraced each other warmly.

 

Rey was about to say something, when suddenly they heard a rustling noise in the hallways. Ransolm, who had been witnessing the reunion in the doorway, barely had time to peek into the corridor before Poe came racing in.

 

“There is a message being broadcast! It’s from the Empire!”

 

Everybody stared at him for a split second, following him in a hurry. Both Finn and Rose helped Rey walk to the dimly lit meeting room with its characteristic blue and green holos and coordinates. All the Rebels were already gathered there around the central flat screen.

 

Seeing everyone was there, Poe turned on the recording. Hux’s face appeared, and Rey flinched at the sight of his cold and cruel expression. In a wicked, frenetic tone, he began:

 

“Citizens of the Empire, important changes have occurred. Through an intense investigation, we have discovered  none other than Kylo Ren betrayed and subsequently murdered our former leader, Supreme Leader Snoke. For his treachery, he has been dismissed and removed from his functions as Emperor, permanently.”

 

 Upon hearing this, Rey’s whole body shook uncontrollably, but the message continued.

 

“From now on, I will personally assume the role of Grand Marshall. I will be assisted through my functions by the newly appointed Force Triumvirate, composed of three powerful Force users. Through the combined use of our military technology and the ancient Force, we will assure order is brought back to the Galaxy. I - ”

 

Rey didn’t hear the end of the message. Her vision blurred and she felt her legs were going to give in. She grabbed Finn’s shoulder, but it was too late. She crashed to the ground.

 

“Rey!!” Finn cried out as he immediately crouched down. While Finn wrapped his arms around her, lifting her up, everybody else raced in and circled her. He cupped her cheek in order to see her face.

 

“Rey! Are you alright?” he asked, anguish tearing him apart.

 

Everything was hazy around her. She couldn’t answer. Before everything went dark, the last thing she heard was Ransolm crying out in the room, “She needs a doctor, fast!”

 

***

 

“Look! She’s waking up!”

 

Finn was sitting next to Rey’s bed. As soon as he saw his friend move, he called the others, who had been talking about the incident outside the room. They all dashed in at once.

 

Rey rubbed her eyelids and focused. “Wh-what happened?” she croaked.

 

She straightened a bit as Poe and Rose brought in some chairs.. Soon, Finn, Poe, and Rose were sitting around her. Ransolm sat on the edge of the bed. He put a hand on her forehead as if checking for fever. “You fainted. We were so worried. The doctor came…” he explained before his voice trailed off.

 

“What did he say?” she asked faintly.

 

They all glanced at each other and shifted on their seats uneasily. Nobody uttered a word.

 

What is it?” she inquired more firmly.

 

Ransolm swallowed. “Rey…he did many exams. You are not sick. You have no virus. No apparent disease…” He peered intensely at her. “But all the vital signs indicate you’re dying.”

 

Rey’s eyes widened in shock. However, she then thought for an instant. It certainly felt as if she were dying. She knew something was terribly wrong.

 

“I…I know…” she murmured weakly.

 

“You know?” Ransolm gasped out while the other three were taken aback.

 

“The Force…I can barely use it. I can still feel it and use it a little, but it’s so weak. I am sure this has something to do with B- Kylo.” she answered, scared to pronounce his given name in front of them.

 

Poe cut in. “Rey, this is what I’ve been wanting to ask you. It is of vital importance. What happened to Kylo Ren? Hux took over…and what is this “Force Triumvirate”? And…why does all this have something to do with you?

 

She gulped. This means Ransolm hasn’t said anything, she thought to herself, as she recalled their talk in the Falcon on their way to Kuat. She glanced quickly at him for help, silently asking for advice. He nodded back in encouragement. She took a deep breath and cleared her throat.

 

She explained everything. She started with her long stay on Ahch-To. Upon hearing about Luke’s Force Ghost, they were all in awe, but it was nothing compared to the reveal about the true nature of her bond with Kylo Ren.

 

Finn grimaced with incredulity. Rose’s mouth was opened wide. Poe was in awe but he was still the most composed of the trio, as he knew about the Force more than the others. 

 

Rey then continued, avoiding for the moment all the details about what had occurred between her and Kylo on Canto Bight. 

 

“Kylo was betrayed. I saw everything. One of his knights, a woman, talked about Hux staging a coup. She probably talked two  of his other knights into turning on him. They assaulted him in the street, sliced his back and hit him on the back of his head. He fell unconscious and they took him away…” she paused, her voice cracking under emotion. Her jaw was shaking. “A-and then…his Force signature disappeared.”

 

There was a silence.

 

“That serves him right,” declared Finn, a deep frown on his features.

 

Her heart dropped to her stomach. Rey couldn’t take it anymore.  She burst into tears, leaving the four of them at a loss for anything to say. 

 

Slowly, Ransolm came closer to her and embraced her as she sobbed helplessly into his arms. He whispered into her ear, “Rey, I know there is more than what you are willing to tell us.”

 

“You have feelings for him…” Rose suddenly stated.

 

Rey froze. Ransolm let go of her while Finn and Poe stared at Rose, their nose wrinkled in disbelief and disgust. Choking on her tears, Rey peered up at Rose.

 

The two women eyed each other in silence, knowingly. Rey didn’t look down. This time, she wasn’t going to deny it.

 

“Rey… tell me that’s not true,” pleaded Finn, “He…he’s a murderer. He killed his own father! He’s a dangerous maniac!”

 

Rey glanced at him, his words cutting like a knife. Between short breaths and sniffs, she gathered her strength. Slowly, her hand reached her tunic, and she retrieved a folded piece of paper she had read countless times since her arrival. She handed it to Finn.

 

Quirking a brow, he unfolded it. Ransolm approached to read it too, curiosity getting the best of him. Rey hadn’t told him anything about her relationship with Kylo.

 

She tried to suppress a chuckle as their faces lost all composure. They were flabbergasted.

 

Poe was the first one to break the silence. “Don’t tell me…he wrote this?” he asked Rey, highly unconvinced.

 

She nodded.

 

Finn’s gaze lifted from the paper, narrowed to Rey, and then back to the letter. His mouth was wide open, and he was in such a state of shock he was speechless

 

Rose, on the contrary, looked almost amused. “It’s beautiful. That’s some declaration!” she told Rey with a grin. Her honesty was what Rey most admired. She had no shame in saying aloud what everyone else thought secretly.

 

Ransolm then spoke, a huge smirk on his handsome face. “I knew it. When he lashed out at me. He was jealous.”

 

Rey stared at him. His observation skills were, as always, spot on. Indeed, Ben had been jealous. “There is more to him than meets the eye,” she whispered.

 

“Wait, wait, wait! We’re talking about Kylo Ren? Big red lightsaber? Frightening dark tall guy with a mask?” Finn interrupted as if trying to gather the pieces of a complex puzzle.

 

“Yes. Ben Solo. Leia Organa’s son. The same one Luke Skywalker tried to murder in his sleep seven years ago.” The words spilled out of her without warning.

 

“WHAT?!” roared her four friends upon hearing this intel.

 

“Luke Skywalker!? What are you talking about!” Poe spluttered.

 

Rey held their accusing gaze. “It’s the truth. Luke told me himself. He had sensed Ben’s growing darkness. For a split second, he considered murdering him. He ignited his lightsaber before realizing what he was doing, but Ben woke up and saw him. Ben never recovered from it. He destroyed the Temple with six other students and became Kylo Ren. That’s the true reason why Luke disappeared into exile,” she explained.

 

Poe was appalled. “That’s why…that’s why Kylo Ren went berserk when Luke appeared on Crait,” he then recalled.

 

Rey straightened in her bed. “I wasn’t there. But I am sure that’s the reason. He is what he is, …because of his family. He felt betrayed. He felt everyone abandoned him. That’s why he turned on the Resistance. They represented evil for him. And, from his perspective…I can understand it,” she paused, “but you all were too immersed in your own point of view to see it clearly,” she chided.

 

Finn was lost in thought. He still held the poem in his hands and stared at it absentmindedly. At last, he asked, “I still have a hard time believing it. Did he…attempt anything on you?”

 

“If by ‘attempting’ you consider kissing me frantically in an elevator, then yes,” she stressed as a deadpan expression swept across her face.

 

Finn almost fell from his seat. Rose gasped out loud and then giggled. Poe pinched the bridge of his nose.

 

Ransolm grinned before the sarcastic put-down. “Now I understand why it took you so long to get back to us,” he mused.

 

“I can’t believe it! You made out with him!?” asked a stunned Finn.

 

“Yes,” shrugged Rey without looking at him, and she wrapped herself in the covers. She was so done with everything. She didn’t care what they thought anymore. She felt so weak and tired. “What’s the point of all this conversation anyway? He’s…he’s…” she stammered, “gone.” She was on the verge of tears again.

 

“Rey, are you sure he’s dead?” inquired Poe “Does this have anything to do with your current state?”

 

Rey peeked at him. “I can’t feel him, Poe. I think it has to do with all this, but I don’t understand either. I think the bond is broken. The only explanation I can find is that they killed him. Although it doesn’t explain why I’m in this state,” she replied wearily, sinking into her bed again, pale as ever.

 

Her friends fell silent.

 

“We should let you rest,” said Ransolm upon seeing her complexion. The conversation was obviously a strain for her. He gestured the others to follow him out of the room. Finn folded the poem again and handed it to Rey with a look of concern, but he didn’t say anything. He followed Poe toward the door.

 

However, Rose didn’t leave. She came and sat on the edge of Rey’s bed.

 

Ransolm was about to exit the room. He was waiting for Rose with his hand on the knob, but as he saw her seated next to Rey, he got the message. He left the room and closed the door behind him.

 

Rose then turned to Rey, who was pleased that she stayed. She took her friend’s cold, slim hand into her warm one.

 

“I want you to know…I support you. I’m so sorry they sent you away. I didn’t know what to do. I’ve been in this fight for such a long time. Everything about the First Order, the Empire…it really gets to me. My sister died for this cause. But…I see you, I see your eyes. You perceive something that I, Finn, Poe…we cannot see. Something bigger. Something that transcends us and that we cannot understand,” Rose said sincerely.

 

“The Force…” mumbled Rey.

 

“Yes.” There was a pause before a mischievous grin appeared on her round, soft face. “How was it?”

 

Upon seeing Rey’s questioning look, she added, “To kiss him…how was it?”

 

Rey blushed furiously and her eyebrows creased with an embarrassed expression. “Ehm…good?” he answered, not telling the entire truth. After a split second, though, she changed her mind. “Kriff, I loved everything about it. I felt so attracted to him…” she then confessed with pink cheeks. 

 

Had she just spoken of Ben in the past? She swallowed at the realization.

 

She sighed heavily before speaking again. “Rose…I can’t explain. I know it sounds terrible. I haven’t forgotten what he did nor his past deeds. I felt so conflicted about him. But now that he’s gone…I realize so many things. The memory of his kiss haunts me day and night.”

 

Rose gave her an apologetic smile. “Rey, you’re a Jedi. You can do this. Don’t lose faith,” she encouraged.

 

“Even a Jedi cannot overcome death, and I can’t go back in time,” Rey insisted.

 

“Maybe he’s not dead. Hux didn’t mention anything about that. Maybe your…bond is broken because of something else. You have to trust your feelings.” Rose emphasized as she held her hands tightly.

 

Rey considered this for a moment.

 

They settled into silence.

 

At last, Rose got to her feet. “I’ll let you rest. Ransolm is right; you’re tired. You should get some sleep.”

 

“Thanks, Rose…thank you for understanding,” murmured Rey’s strained voice. “I fear Finn will never forgive me.”

 

"Leave that to me," Rose answered cheerfully as she pointed her thumb at her chest. 

 

This almost made Rey smile.

 

Rose left her friend, completely oblivious of her inner torment.

 

Recalling her last moment with Ben had shaken Rey to the core. She felt a sharp twinge in her heart as the images flashed into her brain and the vivid sensations made her skin crawl…

 

His dark but soft eyes lingering upon hers; his squishy pink lips locked against her skin; the warmth of their two bodies pressed together; his hard arousal against her belly…

 

I’ll come back, Rey, I promise…

 

His last vow resonated in her mind like an echo in a valley. The betrayal, too. The red, thick blood gushing out of his back. It was a ghost tormenting her dreams. She couldn’t help thinking if only she had gone with him, if only she had insisted upon unveiling Vrieska’s true intentions, none of this would have happened. She blamed herself, and guilt tortured her. What she could have done. What she didn’t do. It was an endless maze and she found no way out.

 

Upon losing him forever, her true feelings had appeared clearly now that the shroud of doubt that had veiled them until now had been ripped away. Without his presence in the Force, life was meaningless. Shadows crept into her soul like hideous, sly monsters. It was a raw and crude whirlwind of desperate emotions, raging and devastating like a hurricane. She stood before an empty, dark vacuum.

 

It was so ironic. Ben had committed himself to the Dark Side, yet without him, all the Light had faded from her world. The sole purpose the Force had sent her for was gone, and she actually found death appealing.

 

Then I’ll be with you again, she thought. She struggled to breathe. She was so close to shedding tears again.

 

Death. Such a hollow mystery. What was death, anyway? The passage from one state to another? After meeting Yoda and Luke’s Force ghost, it was even more of an enigma. Only Force users appeared in this shape, but did Darksiders too? Could she hold hope to see Ben again, as she had for Luke? Did Force ghosts disappear into the ebbs and flows of the Force at one point and come back as new, reincarnated people? She always carried the feeling that something ancient lived within her. Would she meet Ben again in another life?

 

There were so many questions, yet answers escaped her like wind through one’s fingers. She’d have to wait to cross the sacred Border in order to know all of these. It was, after all, the common destiny of mortals.

 

She realized, at that very moment, she had hit rock bottom. She let herself be nursed by Morpheus’s welcoming arms. They would alleviate her from her darkest thoughts, from this insufferable aching. All she wanted was to drift into unconsciousness. She fell asleep as a tear ran down her cheek, whispering…

 

Ben...”

 

***

Rey!!

 

Rey jumped awake, eyes wide open. She surveyed the room quickly. There was no one. Warm slants of sunlight now poured into her quarters.

 

She had heard it. His voice. He’d screamed her name in agony.

 

Her heart pounded frantically. She hadn’t dreamt about this. It had been real.

 

Her mouth twisted in pain. Her back hurt as if someone had whipped her to the bone.

 

What was happening? 

 

A small, glowing light shone through all her creeping darkness as she recalled Rose’s last words. She knew there had to be a logical explanation for Ben’s Force signature to disappear. Of course, she’d thought about the worst immediately. But what if Rose was right? What if he was still alive? She dared not hope. However, it had been his voice…there was no mistake.

 

Her thoughts drifted to his mother, to Leia…

 

Hope is like the sun, if you only believe in it when you see it, you’ll never make it through the night.

 

Losing Ben was an endless night. Would she lose all hope? He’d promised he’d come back. She knew Ben was a man of his word.

 

Suddenly, an idea popped into her mind. There was maybe a way. She reached into her tunic and retrieved Keido Ren’s communication device. She examined it carefully. It was well designed: there were two little light bulbs, a red one surely to indicate messages, and a blue one for calls. None of them was flashing for now though. She pressed the red one.

 

“Keido Ren. This is Rey. I…” she doubted her words for an instant. “I wanted to know if you had been able to locate Kylo. I know his Force signature has disappeared. Surely, you’ve felt it too. But I think he may still be alive.”

 

She released the button for the message to go. She grabbed the small object with both hands and pressed it against her chest, praying for a miracle.

 

Not even a minute passed before she heard a beep coming from the device. The blue button had ignited. Keido was reaching back. She pressed the blue command hastily.

 

“Lady Ren? Can you talk?” asked Keido’s low voice.

 

Rey blinked several times and frowned in uncertainty. Lady Ren? Had she heard him correctly?

 

“Y-yes” she answered hesitantly.

 

“Thank the Force you are safe. General Hux invaded Canto Bight very soon after I left, although he couldn’t get his grip on the city. The aristocrats didn’t let him. I feared you had gotten caught, this is why I didn’t reach out, fearing the device had fallen into the wrong hands.” Rey could feel genuine relief in his voice.

 

“Oh. I fled right after you,” Rey told him. “Keido…Did you feel it?”

 

“Yes, I did. But it doesn’t fit. Kylo is the strongest Force user I know of. It’s impossible they’ve killed him. Vrieska wouldn’t dare. Who else could take him down? I trust my feelings, even if I cannot be certain. Aslik and Jaryn agree with me,” he stressed. 

 

A spark of hope ignited in Rey’s chest. “I beg your pardon. Who?” she inquired.

 

“Oh. Those are the other two knights. They cannot believe what happened with Vrieska, Gadreel, and Jendi. On top of it, Jaryn is Jendi’s twin brother. He is still in shock he followed Vrieska into this madness. He’s been trying to reach him, but with no success.”

 

“I understand. So, you don’t know where Kylo could be?” she questioned.

 

“No. We do know he’s not aboard the Supremacy. Shaia told us. She was transferred there after Hux invaded Canto Bight. He hired her. Little does he know she’ll be faithful to Kylo until the grave. That old woman is a fine strategist. She played it well. She said she tried to contact you but she couldn't find the correct channels. She, therefore, sent a young Stormtrooper who wanted to defect to seek us,” he then explained.

 

“Oh, Shaia! What a faithful insider. So the troops are divided on Hux’s ascension?” Rey was little by little recovering hope and was dying to know more.

 

“There is a small part that doesn’t agree, from what the Stormtrooper told us. Kylo Ren seemed to be appreciated by many because he’s a powerful Force user. They feared and respected him. But unfortunately, most of them are brainwashed by Hux,” lamented Keido.

 

“I know. So, if he’s not on the Supremacy, where could he be?”

 

“They probably took him somewhere else because there would be a riot on the Supremacy if Hux jailed him there. He could escape with help or something along those lines. My guess is that he's somewhere secret, somewhere we'd never think of. But I have been thinking and I don't know.”

 

“Keido…my Force abilities have shrunk dramatically in the last days. The doctor says I am dying. I am sure it has to do with him…and, I think I heard his voice a while ago. But his Force signature has disappeared for three days. I fear the worst,” she said, concern filling her voice.

 

The communication device went silent for a moment.

 

“Lady Ren. If I may. I believe that if Kylo was dead, you would probably be dead already,” rationalized Keido.

 

Rey couldn’t believe it. “Wh-why do you say this?” she stuttered.

 

“I cannot be sure. But my instincts and knowledge of the Force tell me the bond you share goes for life and death, too. Had he died, you probably would’ve followed him in death.”

 

Something whispered to her that this was true.

 

“If you are right, it means he’s alive, somewhere,” Rey stated with more certainty than ever. 

 

“I believe so. I need to leave now. If I know of anything, I will let you know,” said the knight.

 

“Thank you. It is good to know that at least some of his knights stood up for him,” she assured.

 

“Until death parts us, my Lady,” he emphasized proudly. She then heard the communication device shut off on his side.

 

She sank into the bed again as stillness filled the air. 

 

Slowly, she raised her hand a bit to take a good look at it. It was white and frail. What would the rest of her look like? She scanned the room quickly and saw there was a broken piece of mirror between old abandoned objects lying around in the middle of the dust. She stood up and went for it.

 

She contemplated her reflected figure within it and her heart dropped. Her grey face was puny and her cheeks were hollow. Her hair was opaque and dry. Her skin was wrinkled and her eyes, previously so bright, were gloomy. She looked as if she’d been sick for months. 

 

She was truly dying.

 

Could it be true? Are we bonded in life and death? Rey thought to herself after a while. Is this why I am dying because he is too?

 

She was his Other. And her Other was dying, somewhere, alone, in this vast, immense galaxy. It was as if someone had run a knife through her heart.

 

She went back to her bed.

 

I can’t let this happen. There has to be a way, she thought.

 

She reflected on everything for what seemed a very long time.

 

Soon, a resolution formed in her mind.

 

I’m a Jedi. I can do this.

 

Getting a grip on herself, she settled into a meditation position.

 

She focused on the Light within her and gathered all her remaining energies.

 

Closing her eyes, steadying her breath, she reached out with the Force.

 

But this time, she didn’t concentrate with her mind but with her heart. Little by little, it blossomed and bloomed opened like a young flower in the sun with all her love

 

She focused, again and again, intensely. She directed all her attention toward that unknown feeling she felt whenever Ben was around her, when his soft gaze lay upon her, on the way she felt strange butterflies in her stomach when she read his poem.

 

She unleashed all her most deep-rooted affections out of the cage she’d been keeping them in because of fear.

 

At last, the bird flew, free from its chains.

 

The Wings of Love spread out of her body like an ever-growing colorful aura, circling everything around her. Through the Force, they expanded beyond Kuat’s greenish-blue skies. They grew throughout the Core systems, the Colonies, the Inner and Outer Rim…

 

A deep, overwhelming feeling penetrated her entire being. A feeling of being whole. She felt the love of all living things pulsate and palpitate rhythmically within her. Millions of small glowing spheres merged with her projected aura throughout the galaxy. They whispered wonderful, harmonic sounds in her ears.

 

She’d become the universe. And the universe was within her.

 

It was the most moving and poignant experience. Such was the power of true, selfless Love.

 

The universe responded to her. Revivifying energies poured into her from all the corners of the galaxy, mending all the devastating damage done by despair, fear, and doubt.

 

She breathed in and out. She felt she now had to open her eyes. Very slowly, the world appeared before her in a new light. Reaching out to Ben with all her heart, she had ascended to a new state of consciousness.

 

Golden threads were enveloping her entirely with their yellow brightness…

 

The Force bond.

 

It was there. It wasn’t broken.

 

The threads moved gracefully around her. They twinkled and spread, reaching out beyond a point she couldn’t see.

 

At last, she felt him through them. They were like a magnificent umbilical cord bonding them throughout the endless galaxy.

 

It was a heartbeat.

 

He was alive.

 

She contemplated the shining threads around her. They illuminated her skin and clothes. They were exactly how she recalled them in her Force vision. Only this was real. They’d been there, with her, all this time, but her heightened consciousness now enabled her to actually see them.

 

All of a sudden, she remembered something.

 

Her jaw dropped as she understood everything.

 

She knew where Ben was.

Chapter Text

 

Rey was sitting next to Chewie aboard the Millennium Falcon. Her fingers raced through all the command buttons at the speed of light. Despite her paleness, her renewed energy in the knowledge that Ben was alive made her fully concentrated on the task. She entered some coordinates in the computer, which started its methodical calculations to avoid an asteroid field. Chewie, upon realizing where they were going emitted a high-pitched growl in protest. 

 

“Yes, I know, I know. We’re going back,” said Rey resolutely. “Prepare the jump to lightspeed.”

 

As the ship dove into hyperspace and settled its irrevocable course through the galaxy, Rey's thoughts drifted back to earlier…

 

“Rey this is madness! You can barely walk!” exclaimed Ransolm in disapproval. Finn was flanked adamantly at his side, watching Rey gather some medical supplies. 

 

She’d abruptly come out of her room, half limping in the corridors and meeting them in the middle of a conversation. She’d shouted that she knew where Kylo Ren was and that she was leaving this very moment. They both had blinked in disbelief and followed Rey to the Falcon to convince her to stay.

 

“I know where he is. If I leave him there, he’ll die! And so will I,” Rey exclaimed before they had a chance to express their disapproval. She was packing quickly, as though there was not one second to lose. The universe's energies were flowing through her veins now, helping her to cope with her condition. "You either come with me and help me save him, or you drop it," she warned, pointing a finger at them.

 

They went still.

 

“I can’t do that Rey. Kylo Ren is still our enemy” answered Ransolm, “The Rebellion would never forgive me,” he explained reluctantly to Rey, peeking at Finn who acknowledged with a nod.

 

Rey couldn’t control the disappointment in her voice. “Fine. I understand. But I have to go.”

 

Ransolm bit his lips before she continued.

 

“I need to see Temiri. Where is he?” she asked, barely lifting her head from the pile of clothes she was carelessly stuffing in a bag. “If you’re not coming Ransolm, find Temiri for me, would you? But Finn, please stay. I need to ask you something.”

 

Both of them quirked an eyebrow before resign swept across Ransolm’s face. “Okay…I’ll go and seek Temiri. Don’t leave before I come back.”

 

Rey nodded and in moments she was left alone with Finn.

 

Upon seeing his disappointed expression, Rey stopped her fumbling with packing her things. She took some hesitant steps toward him.

 

“Finn, I-I’m so sorry. I’m afraid you’ll…you’ll never forgive me,” she apologized, peering down.

 

Finn pursed his lips and, picked on the threads of his leather jacket absentmindedly.

 

“Rey, I…I’m not a Force user…I…don’t understand any of this. But…if it can save you, then you have to go.”

 

Rey gave him a faint smile. She leaned forward and squeezed her friend tightly as he wrapped his arms around her slim, sick figure. “Thank you…” whispered Rey. “Thank you…”

 

Then, as they untied themselves Finn inquired, “Why do you have to see Temiri? What do you want to ask me…?”

 

“Kylo is on Canto Bight. I need to access the prison without being caught.

In hindsight, she didn’t know how she hadn’t connected the dots earlier. It all made perfect sense now. Keido said Hux would’ve faced a rebellion on the Supremacy if he’d jailed Ben on the ship. The knight had also told her Ben wouldn’t be taken down so easily. Something must have occurred. Maybe Ben had put up a fight? Maybe they couldn’t transport him anywhere else without a major risk?

 

And there was something …something she had remembered from before. She was certain of his location. She only hoped it wasn't too late. She felt Ben's life held at the end of a string. The sole reason she had the energy to move was the magnificent response from the cosmic energies, which had poured life into her again. However, she was so tied to Ben’s condition that it seemed her life could snap any minute. She had to hurry. There was no time.

 

I’m coming Ben. Hang on! echoed her thoughts through the Force.

 

***

 

 

As the ship docked on the Canto Bight landing platform, she immediately knew her arrival was not going to be as smooth as the last one. However, they were landing during nighttime which made it easier to sneak around without being seen.

 

Walking down the ramp with Chewie, some policemen rushed toward them, pointing blasters at them.

 

“What are you doing here?” commanded the leader.

 

Breathing in, she concentrated on the Force and swept her hand before his face.

 

“We are here for a very important meeting with Canto Bight’s Opera singers, they need a Wookie to play a beast in their next function,” she instructed casually. She then whispered, “You won’t ask any questions. You’ll leave the ship alone and tell your men to do the same.”

 

The policeman oddly straightened.

 

“She’s here for a meeting with our Opera’s singers. We’ll leave the ship alone,” repeated the officer, waving to the others to clear the way.

 

She then gestured Chewie to come with her. His bowcaster was safely encased in a pouch hanging from his side so it wouldn’t draw attention.

 

Temiri, Rose, and Finn had given her clear instructions to enter the prison using the sewage system. The tunnels below the city had the names of the streets written on the walls, and there was an entrance that connected the sewage system to the main corridors of the prison. Using this,  she would avoid raising the alarm to the whole city.

 

Rey silently lifted a manhole cover in one of the streets, making sure nobody saw them. She had already explained the whole plan to Chewie, who was quite reluctant to enter the smelly tunnels.

 

She had to push his furry head down the manhole.  “Oh come on Chewie!  Don’t be so picky. I know you’ve been in a  trash compactor with Han before,” she scolded. The Wookie howled a complaint before lowering himself down the metallic thin ladder encased within the wall. Rey followed closely behind.

 

By a miracle, the sewage tunnel had some type of dry sidewalk, so they didn’t have to immerse themselves in the disgusting water.

 

Rey activated a flashlight she’d brought and they started traversing along the sidewalk. Fortunately, Temiri told her that he had seen holomaps of the underground tunnels before. Indeed, in doing some basic research, she’d found a holomap on the Canto Bight town hall HoloNet system. She retrieved the holopad with the information from her bag.

 

Rey and Chewie finally got to the location indicated by her friends. Rey packed the holopad back into her bag and climbed to the manhole cover at the top of the ladder.

 

Rey raised the cover just enough for her to peek out. They’d been right. The sewage system at this intersection lead right into the prison. She glanced cautiously all around the corridors. Seeing no one around, she swiftly removed the cover and retrieved her lightsaber from her bag. Chewie came up through and quietly replaced the manhole cover.  He took his bowcaster out of its pouch to ready himself.

 

Silent as a cat, and hiding behind a wall, Rey glanced at the guards. There were three of them. One was sleeping while the two others were playing some unknown card game.

 

Rey paused and motioned to Chewie to stop. It would be easier to neutralize the guards before attempting a rescue since the noise would give them away.

 

Rey knew she was too weak to attack. Instead of killing them, she thought of using Ben’s Force technique. She knew she could do it since she’d seen how he’d done it in his mind. She concentrated on the guards, on the exact spot where consciousness sprung from, and waved her hand in a broad stroke, making the trio sink into unconsciousness.

 

She was quite proud of herself. She quickly gestured Chewie to follow her.

 

Since it was already deep into the night, all the prisoners were sleeping and snores resonated within the gloomy dark cells.

 

Quickening her steps, she went right to the one where she’d been locked into with Ransolm only a week ago.

 

Two red blurry lights were glowing from afar in the cell and upon seeing them, she ran hastily.

 

Her heart skipped a beat.

 

“BEN!!” she gasped with fear.

 

She’d been right: it was her Force vision all over again.

 

No, it was worse.

 

Ben looked dead. He hung unconscious by his two arms; black heavy chains connected to his wrists from the ceiling, with his knees resting weakly on the floor. His body was in the exact same shape of a cross as in her vision. His head and his naked, bloodied torso were loosely hanging forward and his black hair fell over his face entirely. There was red, thick blood everywhere.

 

No, no, no…!!

 

Chewie howled at the sight of him.

 

Rey instantly ignited her lightsaber and destroyed the lock with one swift strike and the door opened at once. She raced to him, falling on her knees before him.

 

BEN !!”

 

She immediately put two fingers under his chin, on the arterial veins.

 

There was a faint pulse. He was alive, but barely.

 

She swept his hair out of his face and had to clasp a hand over her mouth to stifle her horror. His skin was all white. Dark bruises circled his eyes, blood trickled down out of his black hair onto his forehead, and there were crusty crimson stains coming from his nose and mouth.

 

But this was nothing compared to his body. She got up, circled and examined him quickly, completely aghast. His back and torso were coated with criss-cross, deep cuts and large reddish-blue bruises. They had lashed him to the bone and beat him to almost to death. Rey's terror began to ebb away, being replaced with heated anger.  Who did this to him?

 

Then she took a look at his wrists and ankles. They were locked by four curious looking cuffs. She couldn’t take them off. The crimson glowing light she’d seen earlier came out of them. Her mind raced. What is this? The light moved in a strange fashion, almost as if heat was emanating from them.

 

There was no time to figure out how to remove the cuffs. She had to get Ben out of there, fast.

 

“Chewie, come and help me!”

 

At the sight of his best friend’s son, Chewie’s mind had gone blank. He had lowered his bowcaster and his small blue eyes stared at Ben, making quiet sounds like whimpers. He seemed completely lost. 

 

“Chewie, please! We have to save him!” she entreated desperately. She ran to Chewie, and shook him as hard as she could. “I beg you! I know what he’s done.” Chewie moaned loudly. “I know! But…Chewie, please, I can’t do this without you! He’s going to die! And I will too…”

 

She had explained everything to her faithful friend on their way to Canto Bight, and felt she needed to remind him of this to convince him. After a few seconds looking at her haphazardly, the Wookie came out of his stupor and nodded.

 

"Thank you," she hugged him tightly and turned back to Ben. "Wait!" she had spotted his tunic, coat, and cape discarded in a corner of the cell. She quickly retrieved them and brought them over.

 

“We’ll wrap him with this. You have to support him while I cut the chain or he’ll fall down.”

 

Rey ignited her lightsaber and cut off the chains. Ben fell into Chewie’s broad but soft paws, and both of them wrapped him up with his clothes and cape.

 

The Wookie lifted him carefully in his arms. Ben’s hair dropped to the sides, revealing his scarred face.

 

Chewie looked at him, utterly horrified.  

 

Because of the noisy heavy chains, other prisoners had awoken and the air began to fill with screams.

 

“Let’s get out of here!” exclaimed Rey. 

 

The alarm suddenly rang loudly within the whole prison. Rey’s adrenaline spiked up dramatically. 

 

Kriff.

 

Two guards had recovered their senses. They came rushing toward Rey, aiming blasters at her face. “Stop!!” they both bellowed as one man.

 

Despite her weakened condition, Rey’s reflexes weren’t lost. She froze them on the spot before they had time to shoot. She had a hard time holding on, but she was so furious, so enraged from seeing Ben’s state that she tapped into the Dark Side, giving her strength. Whoever did this to Ben, they were going to pay.

 

“Chewie, get to the manhole!” she commanded hurriedly. She channeled all her rage onto the guards, almost choking them to death with the Force. Realizing she was about to kill them, she snapped their minds again and they fell unconscious.

 

Chewie had to move Ben to his shoulder in order to be able to go down the hole. Rey jumped into the manhole too and they ran away into the sewage tunnels.

 

Rey’s heart was pounding harder and harder. They raced back to the Falcon as fast as their legs could carry them. Despite her aching body, her desire to save Ben, to know he was truly alive, kept her going.

 

The prison alarm had set the whole city off. But, by the grace of the Force, all the policemen had raced toward the prison and their path was clear.

 

When they finally reached the Falcon, air was failing her lungs and her knees were about to give in.

 

“Chewie…” she breathed in and out intensely “lay him on the bunk in the main hold. Please…get us out of here.”

 

Chewie didn’t have to be told twice. He lifted Ben from his shoulder and laid him with care on the bunk. Then, he ran to the cockpit.

 

Still out of breath, Rey started examining Ben. As she felt the Falcon lift into space, she eyed the cuffs around Ben’s wrists suspiciously and scanned their structure. A light still glowed from them. They were clasped with a numeric code. Since she couldn’t simply open them, she would have to destroy them. She split the double lightsaber in two and soon, she was cutting one cuff, careful not to hurt Ben in the process. At last, the cuff gave in and broke apart freeing Ben’s wrist

 

As it gave way, Ben’s body jolted. He gasped out loud, coughed and spat blood. Rey’s eyes rounded in shock. The Force instantly came back to him and she felt his Force signature return. Suddenly, she felt her Force strength come back. At last, she understood: they were Force suppressing cuffs. Cutting him from the Force, the cuffs had also deprived her because of their connection.

 

“Ben!!” she cupped his jaw as he kept gasping and struggling for air. His eyelids were clenched tight and he whimpered helplessly as his whole body writhed in agony. 

 

“Ben, breathe. I’m here, it’s okay!” she reassured him, on the verge of tears. Who had invented such terrible devices?

 

Gradually, his eyes opened and he tried to focus on her between short breaths.

 

Rey stiffened in alarm.   

 

The light that had previously illuminated his beautiful eyes was gone. They were windows into emptiness; ones of a broken man.

 

He stared at her while his jaw shivered, but his gaze was blurred and lost.

 

“Ben…it’s me, it’s Rey,” she whispered.

 

He coughed again, staining his chest with scarlet dots.

 

Rey winced before his pain. She hadn’t known her heart could ache so much “Shhh, Ben, it’s okay.” She comforted him while caressing his face gently but he still shivered and trembled.

 

She released him from the other three cuffs. When she unlocked the last one, the Force fully came back to him, and he inhaled sharply while rough guttural sounds came from his throat.

 

She tried to calm him down before she took a good look at his naked torso. She knew his back was far worse off. He was a mess of lacerations, welts, bruises, and blood.

 

How could anyone survive this?

 

Some of the wounds were older than others. They were layers of them as if they had whipped him harder every day. Some of them had started drying off while others still bled. She feared he also had broken bones and the bruises indicated he had been kicked and beaten fiercely and repeatedly.

 

Without warning, Chewie came back, growling that he didn’t know where to set the coordinates to.

 

She turned around and pondered her options for an instant. When Hux and Vrieska found out that Ben had escaped, they were going to set every bounty hunter in the galaxy on his trail. There was only one place in the universe where he would be safe to recover.

 

“Set the course to Ahch-to,” she said decidedly. Chewie seemed almost happy with the choice.

 

Before focusing back on Ben, she raced to the ‘fresher to grab a bucket of hot water. She needed to clean the lesions. She dreaded they would already be infected. 

 

She rubbed the hot cloth gently on his face, washing the blood away. She proceeded to clean methodically the scars on his chest but his whole body shivered and twisted while his teeth bared in pain.

 

Suddenly, he grabbed her wrist with the little strength that remained in him. He peered at her and the only thing she could read was despair.

 

He swallowed heavily several times and tried to speak.

 

“Let…let me go…” he croaked at last with a raspy, strained voice.

 

Let me go? “Ben, what do you mean?” she asked him softly in return. Her face was close to his, so she could hear him.

 

His chest heaved hard. He was struggling to talk. 

 

“Let me die…” he finally managed to whisper.

 

Distress rose in her chest and her eyes stung with tears. How could he say such a thing?

 

Then, the horrible truth fell upon her like thunder: the wounds weren’t only physical. They had shattered him on another, psychological level.

 

“I will never let you just die. I’ll save you, Ben, if that’s the last thing I ever do,” she replied firmly, while thick tears now ran down her cheeks. She grabbed his face with her two hands and bore her eyes into his hopeless ones “Ben, I-I need you, don’t leave me, I beg you,” she leaned forward and pressed her forehead to his. “Please…”

 

She pulled back to look at him again. Their eyes met but he stayed silent and just stared at her, his expression completely blank.

 

Her guts wrenched under his emotionless gaze.

 

What had they done to him? Would he ever be the same again?

 

Now, she understood why the Force had shown her the future. She’d asked, just before the vision, how she could help him. The Force had answered and showed her the way back to him in his darkest hour. She had remembered the cell she'd been locked in herself, and she realized why it had seemed so familiar to her that day. But it was only when she’d seen the golden threads back in her room on Kuat that she’d linked the Force vision and the prison cell together.

 

Still shaking, she tried to compose herself. “I’m going to heal you. Hang on, Ben,” she murmured to him tenderly and released his face.

 

She focused all the Light within her to one point in her body: her hands. She scanned him first and realized she'd been right. He had several broken ribs as well as one of his shoulders. His left femur was also fractured. She’d mended wounds before, but bones were a completely different thing.

Without giving it much thought for the moment, she tried to move his body to reach his back first. The knight’s axe had sliced him there, and the cut ran very deep. She tried to shift him over the shoulder that wasn’t broken, but it was a difficult task since he was so big and heavy. When she finally managed to turn him, Ben cried out in agony.

 

Please!…don’t!…” he sobbed through gritted teeth.

 

Rey winced, feeling his physical pain through the bond. “I have to do this Ben, it will be over soon I promise,” she apologized, hating herself for having to make him suffer.

 

She washed his back before her hands slowly went over his torn, jagged flesh. A whitish glow came out of the end of her fingertips and the cuts progressively sealed, knitting tissue, tendons, and muscle back together.

 

Ben slightly shuddered when his skin closed up, but the process didn’t seem to hurt him. Meanwhile, Rey was sweating under her intense concentration. Healing took everything out of her, but since she felt the Force flowing freely within her again, she wasn’t about to stop.

                                                                                

 

 *

 

 

Rey didn’t know how much time had passed when Chewie came to announce they were going to come out of hyperspace and he needed to know where to land. She was exhausted. Ben had fallen asleep or fallen unconscious again, while the intense healing process continued.

 

Before rising, she touched his arm and noticed he was very cold. In fact, his whole body was nearly freezing. He’d also suffer a major blood loss which had lowered his defenses and body temperature, and the coldness of space only made it worse. She tucked several blankets around him before running to the cockpit.

 

“Chewie, we’re not going to land on the usual spot, before the stairs. Instead, we’re going to land on the beach on the other side of the island,” explained Rey who had an idea in mind.

And so they did. They flew over the Lanai village and landed the Falcon on the beach right next to it. 

 

“Chewie, I need you to carry Ben out there, please. I started to heal him but he's still in bad shape," she begged her loyal companion.

 

He howled agreement and she helped her giant friend to pick him up.

 

However, Ben woke up with a pained cry when Chewie lifted him into his arms. Slowly, Ben focused and narrowed his dark eyes to the Wookie’s small blue ones.

 

Chewie and his best friend’s son were gazing directly at each other for the first time in over twenty years.

 

“Chewie…” muttered Ben, before surveying his surroundings. All of a sudden, Rey could tell he realized where he was and started to panic.  

 

“N-no…dad…” Ben stuttered and shook uncontrollably. He coughed again and a trail of blood ran down from the corner of his mouth. Rey immediately neared him to calm him down but he lost consciousness without warning.

 

“Follow me, we need to get him somewhere warm,” she told Chewie. Upon seeing his distressed face, she patted him kindly. “I know it’s hard…I understand. It pains me too, believe me.”

 

Force, she was the only one who truly knew Ben and nobody but her could understand the conflict within him. Deep down, she knew he regretted his actions. He would have to come to terms with this fact and with Chewie, sooner or later. And she had a distinct premonition given their current situation that it was going to be sooner rather than later.

 

She quickly packed some personal items and Ben’s clothes. When they exited the ship, the Lanai caretakers were running toward the Falcon with Alcida-Aukia leading them with her characteristic scepter. The nuns encircled them.

 

Rey knelt down to meet the Lanai Mother’s big fish orbs. But Alcida-Aukai barely paid attention to her. Instead, she was focused on exactly what was in Chewie’s arms. She took several steps toward them, and Rey grinned at the height difference. Kindly, Chewie crouched down to present Ben to their host.

 

Alcida-Aukia examined him carefully, as she had for Rey when she had come back to Ahch-to already several months ago. She moved Ben’s hair from his face, removed the cover around him with her wooden device and observed his wounds.

 

At last, she turned to Rey. “Your Other,” she stated solemnly.

 

“Yes…”  Rey replied faintly.

 

“Bad state he is in,” continued the leader. 

 

“Yes. I brought him here because he needs help. The ones that did this to him, they will seek him again. I need to hide and protect him until he recovers,” pleaded Rey.

 

“Never must Darkness lose the Light. And the Light, understand Darkness it must. Unbalanced would the Force be." Alcida-Aukai declared cryptically. “We will help you.”

 

"Thank you...thank you, Mother," said Rey with a grateful bow.

 

The Lanai chief then spoke briefly to the other daughters, gesturing all of them to follow back to their village. Rey spotted Tenai-Skendu and waved at her, and she waved back timidly. Rey and Chewie followed the group closely to their huts.

 

Alcida-Aukai led them to an uninhabited hut. It was dark but welcoming inside. There were sea-creatures’ skeletons, white cloths as curtains and lamps made of fish bones. A chimney was encased in the wall. Many baskets were laying around as well as some old pots and pans. It had a small type of mattress in a corner.

 

Just when Rey thought Ben would never fit on that bed, several Lanais entered with other small hay-stuffed mattresses, and placed them one next to the other, forming a much bigger one.

 

While Chewie placed Ben over it, Rey rushed to the chimney to make a fire. The Lanais were bringing water in large pots, closing the curtains and dusting the place hurriedly. Rey had hoped they would help since she had grown familiar with them during the time she’d spent on Ahch-to. She’d come to the village several times before to see Tenai-Skendu.

 

After contemplating an unconscious Ben for several moments, Chewie and the nuns walked toward the door. 


“Chewie…thank you," Rey stressed with a smile. "And thank you too, caretakers” she then addressed the nuns. 

 

The Wookie moaned faintly and left. His home was the Falcon after all.

 

She turned back to Ben. His skin was very pale. His lips were parted, dry and almost blue. He was visibly suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. She touched his forehead. It was very hot. Kriff, he’s got a fever. That means the wounds got infected, she thought. She wrapped him tightly with all the covers and extra ones she found in the hut. Soon, the fire was crackling and the whole place got warmer. She put some water to boil in the chimney.

 

Then, there was a knock on the door. Alcida-Aukai came in with a pot in her hand from which steam came out in circles.

 

“Healing medicine. For interior lesions,” said the Mother nun, handing her the pot. “It will alleviate the pain.”

 

Rey observed the yellowish-green mixture of plants and other components she couldn’t recognize. She trusted the Lanai. “Thank you, Alcida.”

 

When the Lanai leader then left the hut, Rey noticed that all the nuns were gathered outside, peeking through the windows to see what was happening.

 

Rey dipped a cloth in the water she’d put to boil. Gently, she rubbed the fabric on Ben’s face, and soon enough, he moved. His dark, lightless gaze met her hazel one. She observed him closely.

 

“Ben…can you hear me?”

 

He nodded.

 

“You need to drink something,” she grabbed a small cup and scooped some of the Lanai medicine. “Come on…” she placed a hand behind his head, helping him up a bit, and brought the cup to his lips. He took a few mouthfuls but suddenly coughed and arched his head back.

 

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” she assured him.

 

However, his left hand then aimed for the cup. She helped him a second time, straightening his head while he gulped the liquid more eagerly than ever. When it was empty, he asked for more. They repeated the process several times until he emptied Alcida’s pot. Poor thing, he’s dry as the Jakku desert, she thought.

 

It had been almost five days since the betrayal. Had they let him starve and die of thirst all this time?

 

At last, he dropped the cup, inhaled sharply and rested his head back on the mattress. He then gulped and licked his dry lips, trying to moist them a bit.

 

He peered at her but the usual fire in his eyes, whenever he looked at her, had disappeared. His lifeless expression wrecked her. This wasn’t the Ben she knew.

 

She couldn’t hold back anymore.

 

Without warning, she cupped his jaw with both hands and pressed her lips to his.

 

Her heart sank when he didn’t kiss her back.

 

She crushed her lips a little harder, in a desperate attempt to reach him.

 

Please…

 

Then, slowly, Ben opened his mouth to her and she tasted iron. Blood. She didn’t care. Their tongues interlaced, but this time, it was nothing like the passionate kiss he’d given her. It was slow, almost sorrowful. Through the bond, she got a glimpse of all the suffering he had gone through. They had fractured his soul to the brink of madness.

 

She responded to all this hate and violence by pouring all her love through her kiss, letting the Light within her soothe him. The golden threads surrounded them with their twinkling yellow lights, binding them together.

 

At one point, she released his mouth and his chin lifted up a bit, almost hurt she’d stopped.

 

His mouth was opened and he eyed her lips in silence.

 

She caught his mouth again, and this time, he kissed her back. His tongue circled hers and he released a low groan in the back of his throat when she deepened the kiss. She felt his short stubble under her fingers, and the raspy sensation sent an electric current down her spine. She slid a hand under his head, ran her fingers through his hair and pulled his face closer to hers. He muffled a moan, making Rey shiver.

 

He tried to lift himself up on his right arm, but suddenly he winced and broke the kiss. She watched him as his brow arched and his mouth curled in pain because of his broken shoulder. She glanced at the hand that had been holding his head: it was crimson.

 

“Ben, your right shoulder is broken. D-don’t move it… I - let me mend that wound in your hair,” she stuttered, still shaken by the feeling of his mouth against hers and realizing how much she wanted him.

 

Ben let Rey tilt his head to the side. She cautiously rubbed the hot cloth on his skull, washing off the dried and fresh blood. It was the wound caused by Vrieska’s hits. Under her fingers, she felt the bumps and lesion. If I ever lay eyes on that woman again, I will kill her in the cruelest and most painful way, she thought as she healed him with the Force.

 

Alcida’s medicine was starting to take effect and the heat of the fire made him warmed. She could feel him relax. Gently, Rey removed the covers a bit to proceed with the cuts on his chest.

 

He veered his head towards her again and watched her in the stillness of the hut. His obsidian eyes were mirrors into a dark vacuum. His exhausted and ravaged expression tore her apart.

 

The wounds ran deep. Too deep.

 

She trailed his jawline with her fingers and caressed his cheek, giving him comfort. He closed his eyes, welcoming her soft touch.

 

His breath steadied and his chest soon heaved rhythmically. Contemplating him now, she realized she had never seen him sleep. Even in his dreams, his anguished features showed his torment. But despite what he had gone through, she couldn’t help thinking how handsome he was. His current state made her heart melt for him more than she could possibly have imagined.

 

She let out a long sigh.

 

Rey knew all too well his physical wounds would mend soon.

 

However, deep down, she knew only two things would heal the terrible ones carved into his soul: time and love.

 

Chapter Text

 

Kylo woke up bolting upright with a loud gasp. He’d just had a horrible nightmare and was completely disoriented and panicked. As he adjusted to reality again, he felt a familiar presence next to him. He focused and frowned as he looked down: Rey was sleeping peacefully at his side.

 

Wha - How -?

 

He surveyed the place with confused eyes.

 

Where am I? He had no memories of this place, or ever being here before.

 

He looked down to focus on Rey again, and his breathing steadied. He laid back and rested his head against the mattress again while watching her breathe rhythmically. She was facing him, wrapped tightly under the covers next to him. He contemplated her for a while as conflicted emotions rose in his chest.

 

He felt completely numb and his eyelids heavy, as if he’d overslept. Blurry scattered memories of his injuries came back to his mind and he removed the covers a bit and scanned his chest, but the only trace of his wounds were thin whitish scars on his chest. 

 

How is that possible? Did she -?

 

What was this place, anyway? He asked himself silently as he scanned the room again and removed the covers from his body. He tried to stand up but quickly sat back down on the mattress. His whole body felt like lead.

 

After a few minutes, he shifted onto his knees and lifted himself up slowly. Rey moved, tucking herself with the covers. Kylo pulled the blanket down over her feet which were sticking out.

 

The day was chilly but he didn’t bother with the cold. His mind was so clouded; he needed some fresh air.

 

He spotted his clothes spread on a stool over Rey’s clothes. He didn’t bother to put his undershirt on and slipped into his padded tunic, leaving his arms bare. He then aimed for the exit, careful to close the door without waking Rey up.

 

It was overcast and the light hurt his eyes after being kept in darkness for so long. He squinted as he surveyed his surroundings. Several Lanais stared at him in awe completely forgetting what they were doing, as if they had suddenly seen some sort of divinity. Kylo quirked an eyebrow before the curious creatures, observing them suspiciously.

 

He proceeded to walk towards the sea and the beach, which had drawn his attention, trying not to pay attention to the fish creatures that moved to the side to let him go by.

 

He got to the edge of the beach and he surveyed the whole landscape.

 

Massive granite cliffs were towering over a lush green grass land. Some stairs led to the top of the highest cliff, where a huge rock dome loomed over the whole area.

 

Its shape reminded him of the island he’d seen in Rey’s mind.

 

What is this place? Why is it so…familiar? He thought as he looked up to the entrance where the stairs led to. Is it what I saw in her mind…or are these my own memories?

 

He glanced from the huge rocks over to the blue-gray sea, where the wind formed and played with the waves’ foam. He breathed in and out, slowly. The fresh smell of salt water and the cool breeze soothed Kylo’s agonizing soul. It smelled like rain. In the distance, bloated gray clouds menaced to burst open any minute.

 

He walked towards the cliffs to get a better view of the place. Strange looking puffins were glancing at him with their big, round orbs. They approached him easily and flew over him. Kriff, what are these annoying things?

 

Kylo stood on the edge for a long while, watching the waves crash in millions of white drops at the bottom of the cliff. The sea swelled and engulfed the rocks.

 

He stared absentmindedly at the horizon.

 

Suddenly, thin drops began to fall from the gray skies. It started to rain. Kylo opened the palm of his hand to receive the droplets. He rolled his head upward toward the sky, welcoming the rain onto his blemished face.

 

Water

 

It seemed like a déjà-vu.

 

As the fresh raindrops fell on his skin, he suddenly remembered everything

 

 

 

 

 

The three Knights of Ren were bringing Kylo to Hux’s ship, who had previously landed at Canto Bight’s docking station. His sight was blurred and he felt a terrible pain in his back and skull. However, when his ears picked up Vrieska’s voice talking to Hux, he understood what was truly happening.

 

“We have him. But it won’t be long until he regains consciousness. You have to lock him up on the Supremacy, fast.” Vrieska urged Hux.

 

Listening to her, Kylo regained his full senses.

 

Rey. Where was Rey?

 

He moved but his legs and wrists were tied up so tightly the rope was slicing his skin. He looked up and met Vrieska’s ice-cold stare.

 

Kriff, too late!” Vrieska shrieked at the sight of him.

 

He struggled to free himself but it was impossible. He was laying on the ground of Hux’s ship.

 

“Vrieska what are you doing!” he sneered to her through gritted teeth.

 

She glared at him. “You know exactly what and why I am doing this!” she bellowed.

 

Kylo stayed silent. Yes, he knew. But he never thought she’d go through with it this way.

 

Hux approached him “So, what do we have here, Emperor” he sneered, stressing the honorific title with blatant sarcasm.

 

“You treacherous creature,” Kylo spat at Hux’s face. “You’ll pay for this treason with your life!” He twisted himself to free his hands but he couldn't. Despite the pain, he drew on the Force and, he jolted upward to get on his feet.

 

However, Gadreel Ren was behind him and pushed him sharply. He fell to his knees with a loud thump sound. Then, the knight raised his axe dangerously close to his neck. “Don’t move, or I’ll cut your neck.”

 

“Try me, you weak, pathetic bastard,” Kylo snapped, pure loathing filling his voice.

 

“I see you’re not going to cooperate,” said Hux. “Let’s see if this will calm you down.” He mocked and took out from a square black box some strange looking cuffs. Kylo had never seen anything like them.

 

Kylo scoffed. “You think that is going to silence me, you fool?”

 

Hux kneeled behind him to grab his wrist, but Kylo kicked him swiftly with his elbow and crashed on top of him before Gadreel grabbed him. The knight was so tall that, as he raised Kylo by his collar, his feet left the ground and his head tilted backward.

 

“Silence this traitor, would you, Gadreel?” commanded Hux almost casually.

 

Gadreel punched Kylo in the face. The blow was so hard his head spun roughly. But the knight was merciless, his heart filled with hate and revengeful thoughts. His fist pounded Kylo relentlessly as blood gushed from his mouth and nose.

 

“Gadreel, that’s enough!!” roared Vrieska at once.

 

Hux took advantage of Kylo’s position to put the cuffs on him. When Hux locked his last ankle, Kylo gasped out and froze.

 

What is this - the Force…I can’t...

 

Gadreel released him, and he crashed to the ground. His lungs searched for air. He was struggling to move. His jaw was in terrible pain and red liquid trickled down from his mouth onto the floor.

 

All of a sudden, an officer came rushing toward Hux and clapped his heels together before him and saluted “General! We have a problem.”

 

The three knights eyed Hux suspiciously as he spoke to his lieutenant.

 

After a quiet conversation, the ginger-haired man turned back towards the knights, visibly furious. “We cannot bring him on the Supremacy. My troops are about to invade Canto Bight now, but some have heard about the Coup and are defecting. I fear that bringing him there would worsen things. We’ll have to keep him here.”

 

“The prison,” suggested Jendi Ren, who had merely witnessed the whole scene until now.

 

“That is an option. Once we invade the territory, we’ll subdue the aristocrats in our favor. We can keep him there until further notice. When things calm down, I’ll transfer him to the Supremacy,” declared Hux, whose mind was racing. “Bring him to the prison now. The cuffs are visibly working” he mused as he watched Kylo recoil on the ground.

 

Kylo was almost petrified. His whole body didn’t respond anymore. He was cut off from the Force.

 

Without warning, he felt a hit on his head and everything went dark again.

He jolted as cold water splashed onto his face, making him come back to his senses at once. When he came back to himself, the room he was in was dark, gloomy and cold. A Stormtrooper was next to him. Hux, the three traitors and more troopers were standing before him.

 

His whole torso was naked, for they had removed his tunic and coat. He tried to move, but his wrist didn’t allow him to. He quickly scanned his sides and saw two black, thick chains holding his cuffed hands to the ceiling. A red glow came out from the cuffs. He tried to stand up, but his ankles were also cuffed so he could only stay on his knees. The strength that stemmed from the Force had disappeared and his energies were simply gone.

 

He surveyed his surroundings and was astonished to realize he was into the same cell Rey had been locked in. His thoughts drifted immediately to her.

 

As he searched for her familiar presence, terror washed upon his features. He didn't feel her anymore. Her Force signature was nowhere to be found. He instinctively reached out through the bond but was met with nothingness. Only a void, as if it had vanished.

 

Before he could figure out what was happening, Hux took a few steps toward him, and soon, he towered over him menacingly, observing him as a predator assessing his prey. Kylo’s irises darted to him. They were like piercing arrows. A silent war was raging between two the ex-allies. 

 

Vrieska crossed her arms over her chest behind the General. Gadreel and Jendi were flanked at her side.

 

Without warning, Hux sharply demanded, "Where is the girl?"

 

Kylo was surprised, but he stayed silent. He was relieved to know Hux hadn’t found her, but why had she left the apartment? She’d promised him she was going to wait for him to return.

 

It can’t be…don’t tell me…please...

 

An old, ugly familiar feeling raised in his stomach. A feeling he’d had many times in his childhood and youth.

 

Hux kneeled before him and cupped his chin. His mouth twisted as he repeated “Where. Is. She?”

 

Kylo spat in his face. It took Hux a second to realize what he’d just done. In response, he slapped him with all his might. Kylo’s head snapped back with the impact.

 

With disgust, Hux took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped himself.

 

“I knew you wouldn’t speak. You’re protecting her, as the traitor you are. First, you kill our Supreme Leader.” Kylo flinched at the reveal, “…and then, you cavort with the Resistance members. With the enemy. A poor example of loyalty for an Emperor,” he jeered.

 

Kylo bared his teeth but kept silent. He would never acknowledge his surprise, only the Force knew what that would do to this man’s ego.

 

A maniacal, devilish smirk crossed Hux’s face.

 

“You are probably asking yourself how I found out. It’s simple. It was luck, I suppose. The confirmation code of the holos arriving on Scarif landed in my hands instead of yours. I went to retrieve the holos personally, while you were too busy seducing this Jedi girl of yours,” Hux explained, snickering. 

 

Kylo swallowed. Kriff, he hated to admit it, but he hadn’t been careful enough in hiding the holos.

 

“And now, I invade this place and find out that this Jedi you were keeping in your apartment has disappeared. You know where she is. As well as the remaining Rebellion. And you’re going to tell me,” Hux commanded. 

 

“Even if I knew, I’d never tell you anything!” Kylo barked ferociously.

 

Hux’s eyebrow quirked in an amused expression. “Really? We’ll see about that. Maybe a bit of persuasion will help you? First, let’s try the old methods since you have a taste for old-fashioned things," he chuckled darkly.

 

He snapped his fingers and a Stormtrooper walked towards him. He was holding a huge leather whip in his hands.

 

Kylo scoffed. He knew pain. He’d been used to suffering his whole life. Physically and mentally. He had developed his body into a war machine, undergoing an unbearable training routine. Snoke had tortured him many times over the years, too many times to count.  Whenever his apprenticeship required so. Whenever he was weak. Whenever he failed. There was nothing worse than Force lightning. For some strange reason, it was a darksider skill he had never mastered.

 

“You know what to do. Show no mercy,” Hux ordered.

 

The trooper raised the whip and lashed his back, which had already been cut by Gadreel’s axe and Kylo cried out loud.

 

He abruptly realized he had severely underestimated one thing: Hux’s technological gadgets. Without the Force, he was a mere mortal. Without the Force to heal and soothe the pain, the leather whip was excruciating.

 

The more the trooper lashed out at him, the more he screamed in agony. His whole body writhed and trembled. Blood was starting to leak onto the floor.

 

Hux raised his hand and commanded the trooper to stop. He approached Kylo again. “So, are you willing to talk now?”

 

He'd rather die before giving her whereabouts. He had a fair idea of where she was since he'd seen the Resistance's location in her head when they kissed. The images had flown inside him as if their minds were merged together.

 

“Never,” he huffed in a raspy voice.

 

Hux clenched his jaw and wrinkled his nose. “Vrieska. I know you have mind-reading powers. Get that information out of him.”

 

“I take orders from no one. Especially not you,” she sneered. Kylo’s gaze met hers. She looked down at him, and Kylo didn’t know why, but her expression betrayed a mix of horror and disgust at the sight of him.

 

“Vrieska Ren. Would you like me to continue torturing him to death? Surely, your condition would go against this.”

 

Condition? What was Hux talking about?

 

Vrieska glared at him. There was a pause.

 

Then, slowly, she approached Kylo and kneeled before him.

 

“Give him the information. Don’t be stupid,” she told him dryly. “Why are you protecting her?”

 

Kylo grinned nastily and sneered. “You know perfectly well why…”

 

Vrieska’s heart skipped a beat. She straightened at once and raised her hands toward his face, penetrating his mind without warning.

 

Despite his physical pain, Kylo’s mental barriers were strong. His mind was trained to hide his deepest secrets from Snoke. Vrieska had to push into him several times and was struggling. Kylo had always excelled at this type of exercise. They were fighting a silent battle. He only allowed her to see certain thoughts and specific images and, as she wandered into his mind, her face was progressively coming apart.

 

Unexpectedly, she retrieved her hand with a jolt. He glared at her defiantly while she was left completely aghast.

 

She turned on her heels and raced out of the cell without another glance.

 

Hux and the two other knights were left staring at one another.  

 

The general then turned back to Kylo and scowled at him. “Very well. You leave me no choice.”

The next thing Kylo knew when he regained consciousness, is he didn’t feel his body. He didn’t know where it started or ended. He’d fallen unconscious under the intense torture. When he’d pointedly refused to give Hux Rey’s location, the cunning fox used more sophisticated methods, like electrical wires. Without the Force, it had made Force lightning seem nice. It had pushed him over the edge. His eyelids were so heavy he couldn’t open them. His mouth was dry and furry. Whenever he tried to breathe, his ribs hurt dreadfully. His head was hanging loosely between his arms and he had no strength to move.

 

Everything was blurry and confused, almost as if he were dreaming. His thoughts traveled back to Rey.

 

He didn’t know how long he’d been here, but one thing was clear: she wasn’t coming for him.

 

He remembered her answer in the Throne Room when he’d offered her the galaxy, begging her to join him. Then his thoughts shifted to what she told him in the restaurant, that she didn’t want to rule at his side. She’d even slapped him and stopped him back in the elevator.

 

It only meant one thing: she’d left him, alone. Abandoned him. All over again. She’d broken her promise.

 

How foolish had he been to think she would stay? To think she meant her words? He was the one who had lured her there in the first place. She hadn’t come to him of her own free will.

 

His heart turned to ice in his chest.

 

He never thought it was possible for him to feel so alone. Never in his life had he felt so worthless. His body and soul were in such pain he was convinced he stood on the brink of death.

 

And now, he wanted to die. That’s what he deserved.

 

He felt blood drip over his bloated, swollen face and he heard a sound. When he managed to open his eyelids, they rounded in utter fear and his body jerked back in shock.

 

Snoke’s Force ghost was before him, standing in the middle of the red lake of Kylo’s blood on the floor, eyeing him with his familiar, cruel stare.

 

“My apprentice” purred Snoke’s creepy voice, making Kylo shiver from head to toe, “Look at you, you pathetic failure. My revenge is complete.”

 

Snoke stepped closer to him with a glint of madness and glee.

 

Kylo tried to move, but it was impossible. He didn’t know if panic had petrified him on the spot or if his limbs were so wrecked, he was unable to use his body.

 

Snoke put a finger under Kylo’s chin and lifted his scarred face toward his, contemplating him.

 

“Yes. You still cling to it. You still hope someone will love you for what you are. Don’t you see? Nobody ever wanted you. Your sins are carved into your skin.” Snoke roughly tilted his head to the side, squeezing his bloodied cheeks. "Everybody betrayed you because that's what you are worth. This girl will abandon you, like everyone else did. It is your destiny.”

 

Kylo’s irises stung with tears.

 

No.

 

Not her.

 

Soon, Snoke’s ghost vanished and terror crept upon Kylo’s features: his father was standing before him, holding his cheek, with the same devastated expression on his face as when Kylo ran his lightsaber through him.

 

It couldn’t be.

 

Suddenly, red trickles of blood came gushing from his father's mouth.

 

“Son…” Han muttered.

 

Kylo shook his face helplessly.

 

No! Dad! he cried out.

 

His head spun like a whirlwind. He was utterly terrified.

 

He shut his eyes in a hopeless attempt to make the ghosts go away. But when he opened them again, Han’s figure had morphed into Rey.

 

She was there, beautiful as ever...But she eyed him with the coldest, venomous stare. The same look she’d thrown him in the forest on Starkiller Base.

 

“How could you ever believe I’d want to be with someone like you? You are a monster. A murderous creature.”

 

She cast him a last hateful gaze before turning her heels on him and walking away without another glance.

 

Kylo’s whole body shook in convulsion. His teeth quivered uncontrollably. He tried to reach for her, but she vanished before him.

 

No...

 

Not you...

 

Don’t leave me!

 

“REY!!” echoed his desperate cry throughout the universe.

 

 

….

 

….

 

 

 

“Ben!!” resonated Rey’s voice in the distance.

 

Kylo snapped back to reality. His head veered to where the sound was coming from. He only noticed now that the rain was falling vigorously around him.

 

Rey was coming toward him. Her hair was wet, falling onto her shoulders. Her eyes were wide with concern and her chest was heaving. She’d obviously been running.

 

“Thank the Force! I was looking for you everywhere,” she told him breathlessly.

 

They stared at each other in silence while she steadied herself. Kylo tore his gaze away from her, and instead, looked at the sea.

 

“Why did you save me?” he asked, almost casually, without looking at her.

 

Upon hearing him, a bewildered look washed over Rey’s features.

 

“Ben, what are you talking about? You think I’d leave you there, in that cell, agonizing? Leave you to die?” she questioned, clearly not believing what she was hearing.

 

“It took you days to come,” he replied almost in a whisper, shifting toward her again.

 

Rey’s mouth dropped to the floor.

 

Kylo didn’t see it coming. She took several long strides and, ignoring their height difference, grabbed him by his collar and pulled him down towards her.

 

“Y-you big moof milker! Don’t you dare ask why I saved you! I thought you were dead! Your Force signature disappeared!” she barked at his face with her jaw trembling. Tears were forming in her impossibly beautiful eyes. “I-I cried for days believing you were gone! I was about to welcome death myself!” 

 

Without any type of warning, she pulled him into a tight embrace and burst into tears.

 

Kylo was so shocked it took him a moment to know what to do. Was she really crying for him? Everything was so confusing, he didn’t believe it. After a short moment, he allowed his spine to bend and he wrapped his arms around her slowly. She was so small and frail. She sobbed helplessly, digging and snuggling her nose into his chest, hugging him as tight as possible. He felt a lump in his throat but he couldn’t cry. His heart felt numb and ice-cold.

 

The rain was falling over them. They were drenched.

 

While they embraced, a growl came from Kylo’s stomach. She untangled herself from him a bit and peered up at him. Raindrops were falling from his jaw and black hair. He gave her an apologetic look.

 

“You’re starving…” she said. It was more a statement than a question.

 

He didn’t answer but puckered his lips. Indeed, starving was an understatement.

 

“Come, I’ll cook something for you,” she told him as she took his hand and led her toward the village “And how dare you stay in this cold rain in your state?”

 

                                                                     

                                                                                                            *

 

 

After a while, they were both seated in the hut around the chimney. The crackling fire was illuminating them with its yellowish light. Kylo was wrapped in some blankets after taking his soaked tunic off. He’d let Rey dry his hair with another blanket and tuck him in some warm ones, making sure he wasn’t cold.

 

By chance, the Lanais had caught some fish the same day and kindly offered her a huge piece. She’d grilled it on the fire and made some type of local vegetable soup for him.

 

He watched her in the hut in silence, surveying her every movement. Nobody had ever taken care of him like this and he didn’t quite know what to make of it. He was starving. He didn’t remember when was the last time he ate something. He devoured everything she gave him frantically as if it had been his last supper.

 

While he ate, she put some hot water to boil with more of Alcida-Aukai’s plant mix. When finished eating, she handed a cup to him. As he drank, she sat across him on a trunk and served herself too.

 

There was a pause.

 

“Rey, where are we? What is this place?” he questioned, breaking the silence.

 

“This is Ahch-to. It’s where the first Jedi Temple was built,” she explained before hesitating. “It’s where Luke went into exile. This is the only place we could be completely hidden.”

 

Upon hearing his uncle’s name, Kylo’s body tensed. He avoided Rey’s scrutinizing gaze and took a sip of the hot drink without responding anything.

 

Sensing his inner turmoil, she changed the subject. She would have to deal with this later. They were so many things they had to talk about.

 

“Ben…what happened?” she asked him kindly. 

 

His watched her from behind the cup’s rim. He gulped and then peered at the mesmerizing fire.

 

“It’s okay…You can tell me,” she encouraged.

 

Kylo sighed in defeat. 

 

“Where should I start?” he questioned. She couldn’t shake how weak and sad his voice was.

 

“After they betrayed you. I saw everything from my window” she replied, and she noticed he shifted uncomfortably over his seat.  

 

She bit her knuckles and winced as he told her everything from the beginning. However, he didn’t tell her why he’d been tortured so brutally and he skipped over his hallucinations as well. He didn’t know what to think about those himself. They had looked and felt so real. They were still driving him insane.

 

She will abandon you, like everybody else. It is your destiny.

 

He peered at Rey almost suspiciously. She’d come back for him. It had taken her days, but she was here. She’d healed him and took care of him. However, the most mortal enemy of the human soul still ravaged and consumed him: doubt.

 

Rey sensed his conflicted emotions, although there was something she couldn’t pin down. She came over and sat next to him. “You’re here now. They can’t hurt you anymore,” she whispered kindly and her gaze trailed from his dark eyes to his plush lips and then to his angular chest. She hated to acknowledge how attractive he looked and the power it actually had over her. She threw him a languid look.

 

He stared at her as silence filled the hut. When she leaned over to kiss him, he dropped the blanket covering him and got to his feet.

 

Rey’s heart sank.

 

“Ben…what is it?” she begged, trying to understand.

 

Kylo remained silent, but immediately sensed her disappointment through the bond.

 

Of course, he was disappointing her. As he had disappointed everyone else. His family and even his closest allies had betrayed him. Everyone had rejected him, the Fallen One.

 

He’d tried to kill his past and move beyond a family that hated him and tried to murder him in his sleep. But even embracing his grandfather’s grand destiny had failed miserably.

 

He felt completely worthless.

 

How could he ever love anyone? He didn’t know how to love. He had so much blood on his hands. How could he ever repay his sins? Even if he tried, he would ultimately drive her away, as he had with everybody else. He had no clue how to return her feelings.

 

No. He was scared of returning them. Scared to be hurt by the woman he most desired. The only one he felt as his equal. The only one he ever looked up to. The only one who’d ever drawn his attention and awoken his dormant needs.

 

The old ghost of abandonment loomed over him like a terrifying demon ready to jump onto his prey. Fear and doubt crippled and cut his wings.

 

His shoulders lowered in defeat. He was terrified to look back at her, at the pain he was causing her. He went to sit on a wooden bunk against a wall. His whole body was shivering as he bent over and pinched the bridge of his nose. He let out a long, almost desperate sigh.

 

Rey was watching him carefully. She sensed the conflict and this inner torment. She was disheartened to see him in this state. At a loss for anything to say, she reached out through their bond with her feelings. She concentrated on him and felt his churning emotions through the Force. 

 

There it was. Of course. At last, she understood. He was crumbling under the shadows lurking in his soul. She couldn't shake the feeling that his physical and inner scars were a reminder of all his sins. It was the price to pay for everything he’d done.

 

Getting to her feet, she came toward him and soon, she towered over him.

 

“Ben…” she murmured, removing his hair from his face. She cupped his jaw and lifted his chin toward her. “I’m here, with you. I’m not leaving you. You’re not the only one who’s afraid of being hurt. I’m scared of being thrown away too” she assured him with a faint but genuine smile. Taking a deep breath, she continued. “But…I want you, I want to be with you,” she whispered tenderly. She almost lost him once. She wasn’t about to lose him again.

 

Kylo was overwhelmed by emotion. His eyes were glassy, his jaw was quivering and he was unable to utter a single word.

 

He surprised Rey by wrapping his arms around her waist firmly, burying his face in her midriff and sobbing. Rey snuggled against him. While he cried and coughed helplessly, she scratched his scalp and caressed his naked, muscular back, tracing the lines of the thin scars that healing had left. His skin was soft and creamy and she couldn’t help staring at how broad he was. Hearing him unable to control his weeping completely wrecked her. She tried to soothe him. “It’s okay Ben, it’s okay…let it out, I’m here,” she encouraged him as he nestled his nose deeper into her stomach and hiccupped, holding on to her for dear life.

 

He cried his soul out. All Rey could do was hold him tight and caress his fluffy black locks.

 

At last, his wet eyelashes fluttered open and he peeked up at her. His whole face was swollen and red.

 

“Y-you d-don’t want to be with me, Rey, I’m a complete f-failure. Y-you d-deserve better than this…I-I‘ll never be able to return your feelings, I d-don’t know how to,” he spluttered in a cracking voice while thick tears ran down his cheeks.

 

Rey stared at him. She knew he had hit rock-bottom. The poor man was crushed by his own fears and self-loathing. He was broken to the core.

 

She knew there was nothing she could say at this moment.

 

Instead, Rey grabbed his cheeks, bent down and smashed her lips against his. It was the only way to reach him. She didn't give him a choice. She licked his plush bottom lip and sank her tongue into him, whether he liked it or not.

 

Kylo muffled a surprised sound and sniffled between tears, but offered no resistance. When she pushed him against the wall and daringly climbed on top of him to straddle him, he whimpered but automatically reacted to her assault by capturing her tongue to hers and kneading her thighs. He started kissing her back more eagerly.

 

Finally, he was letting her in and lowering his barriers. She unleashed all her stirring, dormant passion onto him.

 

They discovered each other with the natural instinct of two people who had grown thoroughly touch-starved. It was awkward but passionate. When she’d healed him, she’d been so concentrated on his wounds that she didn’t pay attention to how he actually felt. And now, Rey ran her hands everywhere she could reach: over his rock-muscled chest, his broad shoulders, his smooth back and through his hair. All the while Kylo’s huge hands traveled from her thighs to her back, and, as he slid his hands under her shirt, he caressed all her naked skin. His rough male scent and his short beard rubbing her chin triggered a warm sensation between her legs and spread in her lower stomach. She adjusted herself over his lap and deepened the kiss.

 

There was no possible lying: despite his fears, in spite of everything, his body responded to hers immediately and she felt his growing hardness under her.

 

She instinctively started rubbing herself against his swollen manhood. He shifted his hands over to her chest and slid them under her shirt, cupping her pert breasts at last. He rubbed and squeezed her nipples with his soft fingers. It was such a raw sensation that Rey stopped kissing him and moaned out loud.

 

While he discovered her breasts, she arched her whole body over the outline of his erection. It felt so right. It was impossible to distinguish where their pleasure started and ended, for all their heightened sensations poured into the other as if they were one.

 

She caught his mouth again and rocked herself rhythmically over his cock while he grunted more and more with pleasure. Suddenly, she ground her hips against his, and he broke the kiss, inhaling sharply. His opened his eyes slightly to meet her needy ones. “I-if you continue, I’m going to come” he finally managed to gasp between hot breaths, flushing with embarrassment. 

 

She bore her gaze into his with a devilish glint. Instead of stopping, she continued more fiercely. He reached around to cup her ass with both hands and pressed her harder against him. Desperate for more of everything, he began thrusting slowly against her. The scent of her arousal and the feeling of her wetness was an attack on his senses. He was a bundle of electric nerves in his pants and he knew there was no way he was going to last but he couldn’t stop.

 

Her clit kept rubbing against the fabric of her pants and the feeling of his cock against her core made her soaking wet. The feeling was so sharp she thought her head was going to explode.

 

At last, his thrusts provided enough stimulation on the perfect spot. “Ben...” she whimpered in his ear and she let out a long, sinful moan as she climaxed on top of him, brushing herself onto him just enough to push him over the edge. The sound of her whispering his name was the final trigger. Unable to control himself, he rolled his head backward and closed his eyes. His whole body quivered in waves of intense pleasure. A low growl came from his throat as he felt a hot dampness fill his pants and soak him even more.

 

Rey watched him closely while he came apart. There was something incredibly enticing about seeing this man give in to pleasure, and knowing she was responsible for it swelled her chest with pride.

 

And finally, he’d come back to himself a bit.

 

His chest was heaving. He couldn’t believe what she’d just done. He slowly lifted his languid face toward hers.

 

“Do you believe me now when I say I want you?” Rey questioned with a breathy smile.

 

He swallowed hard. He seemed almost ashamed of himself.

 

“On Canto Bight…in the elevator, when you pushed me back, I-”

 

Rey frowned and cut him off sharply by cupping his face and shaking him. “Ben. I got scared…things were happening so fast” her voice trailed off. “It’s... I mean, I’ve- I’ve never…” she stuttered before blushing furiously and looking away quickly in embarrassment. She couldn’t even finish the sentence.

 

He didn’t know if it was her blushing or the confession it itself; all he knew was that it was the most adorable thing he’d ever witnessed.

 

And, there was something more important. 

 

She was untouched. Just like him.

 

He pursed his lips and gently cupped and lowered her chin to meet his soft gaze, “Does it help if I tell you I haven’t either?” he quietly confessed.

 

Rey’s eyes widened the size of a Star Destroyer. She stared at him with her mouth wide open.

 

“Please…don’t laugh. It’s a long story,” Kylo quickly added, looking down while his cheeks reddened by the minute again and he started picking a thread on her pants.

 

She composed herself immediately. “Ben, of course not…,” she said warmly while his puppy dog gaze darted up to hers again. “It’s true, I mean… I, I thought you already had. But I’m so happy I’ll be your first, too” she said lightheartedly, wrapping her arms around his neck with flat, timid smile that made his stomach do weird flips.

 

She didn’t say “if”. She said “will”. A wave of relief washed over his features upon realizing she really wanted him to be the first. He sensed she actually felt relieved about this, too. 

 

“Casterfoe was so protective of you, and you’ve been around all the Rebellion for months. I just…thought that…” Kylo’s voice vanished. 

 

“You thought I’d prefer another man?” she asked bluntly, remembering how jealous he’d been around Ransolm.

 

He frowned. “Rey, you said it yourself. I’m a monster. I’m not worthy of your feelings. And... I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know if I ever will,” he insisted and looked down, full of sorrow.

 

Rey cupped both his cheeks once again and raised his face, demanding he looked into her eyes. He almost swallowed under her scolding irises. "Ben, you are your own worst enemy. What I said back then was full of prejudice. But now, I look at you, and you know what I see? I see a handsome man, whose family has failed him, a man tortured by his past and afraid to love, afraid of the Light,” she challenged. “Do you think I’d come back for you if I thought you were worthless? Do you think I’d save you and bring you to the most remote planet in this galaxy to hide you if I wasn’t sure?” she asked with an arched eyebrow, daring him to denounce the truth of her words.

 

Her gaze was so intense it pierced right through him. Kylo finally swallowed. Deep down, he knew she was telling the truth.

 

“Besides,” she continued “Nobody with such talent at poetry is worthless,” she mused kindly.

 

This time, Kylo turned tomato red. “So you found it…” he said, and then, he quickly changed the subject before becoming more embarrassed. He recalled something he’d wanted to ask earlier, “Actually, how did you find me? I couldn’t feel you. The bond was gone.”

 

Rey gently traced the scar on his face with her finger. “I reached out for you with my feelings through the Universe. Our bond appeared to me. I saw it, and I felt your heartbeat. And then, I remembered I had a vision of you.”

 

Kylo blinked. He had expected many answers but this one wasn’t among them.

 

“It was several months ago, after your mother’s death. I asked the Force how I could help you, and that’s when the First Door of Truth opened to me.  When the First Door opened, I had a vision of you in that cell. And then I remembered the cell because it was the same one I’d been locked in it too, remember?”

 

Despite his surprise, he acknowledged.

 

“Ben, the Force showed me the way back to you,” she whispered, playing with a stray lock of his hair. “This is meant to be. We are meant to be.” She smiled at him and the sight of her curled lips suddenly made the day much brighter.

 

Their gazes locked in silence as he realized that maybe, as impossible as it seemed, Rey really did want to be with him. Whether he was ready to meet the challenge was another issue, but the previous ice-cold tightness he felt loosened its grip on his chest. 

 

Then, out of nowhere, he sneezed.

 

Rey squinted in concern and put a hand on his forehead. It was scorching hot. “I’m afraid you have a fever. The rain certainly didn’t help,” she declared as she noticed the bags under his eyes.

 

He nodded tiredly.

 

She brushed his cheek softly. "You look exhausted. You need to rest and we need to nurse that fever," she said, before running her hand through his tousled, messy hair and wrinkling her nose. Then, looked down at the dampness between both of them. "I think this time, you’re the one who will need a hot bath. I’ll ask the Lanais if there is a way to do that. Will you let a desert rat give you one?” she asked teasingly.

 

“Does it appear I’m a position to argue?” he inquired with a hint of amusement in his voice while he eyed her still sitting on his lap, preventing him from moving. She clearly wasn't going to give him a choice.

 

She suppressed a chuckle and grinned with such a glint of mischievousness in her eyes that Kylo’s lower stomach tingled.

 

He had a distinct premonition that bath was going to be the best of his life.

 

 

Chapter Text

Kylo felt completely drained. The way his skin ached and prickled made him think that, indeed, he had a fever. The night was falling on Ahch-to and the temperature was dropping dramatically. After his little encounter with Rey, he’d done a bit of cleaning himself up and he now lay in bed while Rey was carefully tucking him under some thick blankets, for the cold was chilling him to the bone.

 

Rey sat on the edge of the bed and caressed his tiresome face. She’d put more wood into the fire and the dim, yellowish light was giving her features a soft, almost maternal expression as she watched him.

 

After a few minutes, she tried to get to her feet, but Kylo grabbed her wrist and she gave him a startled look.

 

“Don’t go,” he pleaded.

 

She sat back on the mattress. “I’m not going anywhere, Ben,” she assured him. “I just wanted to ask the Lanais about your bath,” she explained while watching him closely.

 

He rested his head on the mattress. There was a short pause before he spoke. “I wanted to ask you…how did you heal me? The wounds were so deep, and now there’s nothing left of them” he inquired.

 

“I healed you with the Force,” she answered, showing her hands.

 

He considered her. “I’ve never been able to Force heal. That’s a Light side ability I never could learn,” he said tiresomely “How does it work?”

 

“I don’t know about it being a Light side ability” she replied, “but I can tell you it takes everything out of you. It requires to be able to channel all the love you have inside you,” she explained.

 

Kylo sighed. “See…you just provided the perfect explanation of why I can’t do that.”

 

“Only because you’re afraid. I can feel it” she insisted, putting a hand over his heart, “here”, she whispered.

 

He stared at her. “Rey, I don’t understand. What is it you see in me,” he stated quietly. He really couldn’t figure out why she gave a damn about him.

 

“Maybe I see something you cannot see for yourself?” she said with a smile while brushing his cheek with two fingers.

 

Kylo’s lips twisted, but he stayed silent and pondered her words. Sensing he would give no response, she changed the subject.

 

“Anyway, it’s getting late and I want to ask the Lanai for your bath before they turn in for the night. Please try to rest,” she said, rising from the bed “but before I go, I’ll make you more of that medicine. It should help with your fever.”

 

He adjusted the covers over himself and watched her prepare the hot drink. She handed it to him and then proceeded to exit the hut. When she stopped to glance back at him, making sure he was all right, a small, imperceptible smile crept on Kylo’s features.

 

His thoughts recalled everything that had occurred between them before exhaustion took the best of him and he drifted to sleep.

 

 

                                                                                                         ***

 

 

The next morning, Kylo woke up so comfortable he didn’t want to move a finger. There was a sweet scent filling his nose and a warm feeling all over his torso. His mouth felt thick though, as if he hadn’t drunk water in ages, but he didn’t pay any attention. Without thinking, he squeezed the hot bundle he felt in his arms, only to wake up fully when he realized what his arms were grabbing. His eyes snapped open immediately and he had to stifle a gasp. Rey’s warm back was tucked against his chest as he had unconsciously wrapped his arms around her in the night and his hand was dangerously close to cupping her breast.

 

He was spooning Rey’s entire body tightly and upon feeling him move, she slid one of her legs between his and arched her backside to snuggle against his torso.

 

When his thoughts finally clicked in, he almost jumped when he realized just what exactly her backside was brushing up against.

 

Oh kriff.

 

He had an issue between his legs. He turned crimson at just the thought of her waking up with his erection pressed against her ass. Force, he’d rather jump off a cliff.

 

How can I get hard even in my sleep for this woman? He chided to himself, and before losing the last shred of his decency, he gently pulled himself apart from her, careful not to wake her up.

 

Forget the hot bath, he needed a cold shower!

 

Fortunately, Rey only grumbled in displeasure when he rolled over onto his back. He looked on as she turned over and was now facing him in her sleep. He tried to rein in himself and his hardness - since they sometimes seemed to be two separate entities - and instead he watched and contemplated her peaceful face.

 

Waking up next to the woman who had been at the center of his thoughts for months felt so surreal. And yet there she was, beautiful and radiant, even as she slept. Next to him.

 

She seemed…happy. She looked so at peace next to him that an unfamiliar sensation of warmth radiated from his heart, making the ice-cold tightness that had previously resided there seem like a distant storm.

 

He’d never slept next to anyone before, especially a woman. Yesterday morning, he’d been too lost to give her his full attention when waking up. But today, the warm feeling in his chest was so new and surprising, he took a moment to watch her breathe rhythmically while she slept. He admired the way her long black eyelashes contrasted on her tanned cheek and the relaxed curve of her eyebrows. He carefully removed a lock of her hair with his finger to better admire her.

 

Almost as if his stare had been too intense, Rey’s eyelashes slowly fluttered open. Her sleepy gaze met his. She rubbed her eyelids tiredly before she peered at him again.

 

“Hi…” she said timidly.

 

“Hello,” resonated his low voice, a shade raspier than usual.  It made Rey shiver.

 

“How long have you been watching me?” she asked while her lips curled into a smirk.

 

“A couple of hours?” he replied with a lopsided grin.

 

She chuckled as a pink blush spread over her face. “How’s your fever?” she asked more seriously. She pulled herself over him and put a hand on his forehead and he instinctively set a hand on her waist.

 

“Better. I think I slept a lot” he answered, eyeing her on top of him.

 

“You certainly did. When I came back to the hut, you were fast asleep. You didn’t even flinch when I tucked myself under the covers, and - ” her voice trailed off; she fell silent under the intensity of his look and his hand moving from her waist to wander over her back.

 

He raised his other hand and cupped her jaw, brushing her cheek with his thumb, before sliding back her hair which was falling over her face. He pulled her to him, and their noses bumped into each other before he tilted his head to the side and caught her mouth. She’d never get tired of the way his spongy lips gave in under hers, and how he sought her tongue so impatiently. He tasted and savored her and listened to every whimper she made while he allowed himself to play with her tongue. His hand trailed down her back to her buttock and he squeezed it gently.

 

Kylo straightened to roll Rey onto her back and settled himself between her legs. She only had time to grab his shoulder with both hands before he sucked on her bottom lip and kissed her again, pushing her head deeper into the mattress. The weight of his body and the way he locked her tiny frame beneath his caused a slow pool of warmth to gather in her lower abdomen. He tilted his head to one side and then the other, capturing her lips over and over again. Under the intensity of his kisses, Rey was powerless to stop low grunts and moans erupting from her throat.

 

He was on the verge of sliding a hand under her shirt when, all of a sudden, a loud sound resonated through the door both of them came to a sudden halt.  

 

They blinked. 

 

“I think it must be the nuns knocking,” Rey whispered breathlessly.

 

“Can I fry these creatures for breakfast?” Kylo deadpanned.

 

She hit his shoulder and gave him a mock horrified look. He rolled off Rey and ducked under the blankets again, making sure his lower parts were covered for good measure while she went for the door.

 

She opened it, and, indeed, Alcida-Aukai was patiently waiting in the entrance.

 

Rey greeted her and stepped outside pulling the door closed behind her.

 

“How is he?” asked Alcida-Aukai.

 

“Much better, Mother, thank you. Your medicine is wonderful.” Rey answered quickly, trying to avoid just exactly how Ben was before they were interrupted.

 

Alcida-Aukai nodded and her huge fish mouth curled into a sort of smile. “As we spoke of yesterday, the bath is ready, my child,” she said, clarifying the motive of her visit, and the way she spoke reminded Rey of Master Yoda.

 

“Oh. That’s wonderful!” exclaimed Rey. “I’ll go seek Ben. Please wait for me.”

 

Rey dashed into the hut again. “Ben, we -” she stopped when she saw he was already standing up and slipping into his tunic.

 

"I heard," Kylo said while zipping it on. He was actually impatient to get clean. Between the dried blood, the sweat from his fever and his eagerness yesterday, he’d never felt so dirty in his entire life.

 

Alcida-Aukai greeted Kylo with a respectful bow and then, her big orbs seemed to analyze him methodically. “The Child of Darkness. Such a long time. So much Light buried in your fearful eyes, my child,” she almost chided him, pointing her wooden scepter at him.

 

Kylo was utterly taken aback. What? A long time? He glanced over and arched a questioning eyebrow at Rey who was standing next to him. However, she gave him an apologetic look and shrugged. The Lanai Mother always seemed to know more about her than she knew about herself. Also, she was right. Ben did have fear and buried light in his gaze.

 

“Follow me,” stated Alcida-Aukai.

 

Kylo shook his head, wondering why these strange creatures were treating him like this while the elder Lanai led them both to another hut in the center of the village.

 

She opened the door and steam game gushing out of it. She instructed them to go in.

 

Rey and Kylo entered the hut and could barely see a thing. It was dim-lit and filled with steam, which flowed freely all around the room. It was obviously the laundry hut since long white linens, as well as the nuns' white dresses, were hanging from strings drawn from one wall to another.

 

Alcida-Aukai walked to the center of the hut, where several tub-sized wooden buckets were displayed. One of them was empty, but the biggest one was already half-filled with hot water. Nearby, two giant pots were in the chimney over the yellow-orange flames of the fire.

 

“Rey, the rest of the water is boiling. Also, we wash with this,” the nun explained as she handed Rey a pot of a creamy green paste. “Do not throw the water out when you are done. Precious thing it is, even on this Island. Enjoy the bath,” she said cheerfully as she left them alone in the hut.

 

An awkward silence settled between them.

 

“Em, well…I’ll get the rest of the water then,” Rey said tightly, failing completely to sound casual.

 

Without a word, Kylo disappeared behind the huge white linens. Rey tried not to think about the fact he was undressing only steps away from her, and instead, attempted not to burn herself with the pots of boiling water. It turned out to be more difficult than she’d initially planned, mainly because her thoughts were light years away from her task.

 

She successfully emptied the pots in the largest wooden bucket. Steam imbued the hut even more. At that very moment, she heard the linens brush open and veered toward the sound, still holding the second pot.

 

Rey forgot to breathe. She actually dropped the pot. Her jaw went slack at the sheer sight of him.

 

He was standing before her in all his naked glory; white, ethereal stream seemed to be dancing around him as he pulled back the sheet to the side with his right hand.

 

Her lips parted as she instinctively scanned his body up and down - trying not to lock her gaze on his manhood, which was exactly as big as she remembered. She tried to look to the side, but there was a raw, primal magnetism to him that made it impossible for her to tear her eyes off him. She could feel her cheeks redden by the second and heat invaded the spot between her thighs.

 

He took a few steps toward her and soon she had to lift her chin to meet his obsidian gaze. While Galactic Laws should have forbidden such male perfection, his youthful face and eyes were so vulnerable and fragile that the contrast nearly melted her heart on the spot.  She was unable to utter a word. He looked upon her with such a nervous, bashful expression that she was certain it was the first time he’d ever been naked in front of a woman. Rey suddenly realized what it meant him, a man who’d been hiding all his life behind black layers of clothes, to do such a thing; he was truly showing himself to her, body and soul.

 

He inhaled deeply and chewed on his lips.

 

"I feel it's quite unfair I'm the only naked one here," he said softly while he lifted his hand and brushed a finger alongside the bare spot on her shoulder. The contact was enough to send an electric current down Rey's spine before he continued "Will you take the bath with me?"

 

Rey tried to compose herself and swallowed. “O-okay…” was the only thing managed to stutter. If he’d had the courage to undress before her, she would do the same for him.

 

Gathering her strength and before she could change her mind, she quickly kicked off her boots and pulled her low-waist leggings down, taking her panties off at the same time. There was no point in trying to be sexy - she didn’t do sexy and she wasn’t about to try now.

 

Kylo’s eyes went wide. He never expected her to just undress right there in front of him. But he’d forgotten Rey never did anything as he expected.

 

Straightening herself, Rey grabbed the hem of her shirt and started pulling it over her head when she felt his hands tugging the shirt off with her. She threw the garment aside swiftly and covered her chest with her arms since she wasn’t wearing her breast band. She stuck her gaze down at her feet, much too embarrassed to meet his eyes. For just like Kylo, she had never been naked in front of a man.

 

"Don't…" she heard him say before she saw his hand curled over her forearm and pulled it gently.

 

She peeked up at him. Instead of the intense, burning expression she’d seen in him before, his expression was soft and subdued. He grabbed her wrist a little tighter. “Let me see you…don’t be afraid,” he murmured.

 

Their gaze locked, and Rey shyly lowered her arms to the side. Both of them were now bare; there was nothing left to hide.

 

It was Kylo’s turn to eye her from top to bottom. He lingered on her breasts and the way her waist connected with her hips, as well as the small bunch of black hair between her long, lean legs. Thank the Force, Rey thought: Shaia had been so proactive, she’d used a laser to shave Rey permanently while on Canto Bight, leaving her legs smooth and just the right amount of pubic hair. However, she noticed Kylo wasn’t eyeing her hungrily…he was just…contemplating her. 

 

Nevertheless, Rey blushed furiously under his scrutinizing stare. "I'm not afraid. I-I've just…never felt much like a woman," she confessed.

 

Dark eyes met hazel. Kylo stepped forward and his nose was only inches away from hers. “I think your body is beautiful,” he said, before nearing his face and pressing his plush lips to hers. He slid his hand down her back, pressing her body against his warm one and Rey felt his manhood brush against her skin. She shivered from head to toe, and it wasn’t because she was cold.

 

“L-let’s get into the water?” she asked awkwardly, pulling her head back.

 

“Let’s,” he whispered back.

 

She reluctantly unwrapped herself from him and he held his hand out to help her to go in first. She got into the water and it was at the perfect temperature. She tried not to let her eyes roam over his perfect body when he stepped into the bucket, his manhood swinging before he dove into the water. Each settled across from one another with their legs tangled, and the warm water both soothed and relaxed them. He sank his head in the water, and when his wet face emerged on the surface, Rey didn’t know he could look even more handsome. Small drops of water dripped from his pit-black locks and his jaw while his dark gaze peeked at her like a predator waiting for his prey in the sea.

 

Something passed between them; it was like an electric current. 

 

With a newfound glint of mischievousness, Rey tentatively brushed his leg and then ran her foot up his muscular chest. He watched challengingly as he caught her foot and brought it to his lips, kissing it while he ran his hands up and down her smooth leg. Rey felt a rush of heat in her veins at the sight of his plush lips suckling and teasing her toes.

 

At one point, he let go of her leg and sat straight. "I'd like to wash your hair. Will you let me?" he asked, now eyeing her with unabashed hunger.

 

Rey chuckled with a mixture of embarrassment and excitement. She nodded.

 

“Come here then,” he pointed to the spot right in front of him while throwing her an inviting expression.

 

She moved to settle her back between his legs, trying to ignore the fact that her backside was basically brushing up against his half-hard length.

 

He cupped water with his hands and started wetting her hair. Rey tilted her head backward.

He intended to concentrate on her head instead of her shoulders and her breasts, which were just peeking out of the water. He gathered a bit of the paste in his hand and started softly massaging the mix over Rey’s scalp. It made strange bubbles while he kneaded her head and Rey’s body tensed a bit under his touch.

 

The tension in the air between them was so thick one could have cut it with a knife.

 

Reining in her heartbeat, Rey tried to find any excuse to say something. The silence between them was making her more nervous than she’d care to confess.

 

"I loved the bubble bath Shaia gave me on Canto Bight," she told him, a bit agitated. "I'd never taken a bath like that before. Actually, it was the first bath I ever took in my life."

 

Kylo stopped and brushed his fingers against her back, making Rey almost jump. “Your skin is so tanned. Growing up on Jakku must have been hard.” He said, rinsing the soapy paste out of her hair now. “I was hardly ever in the sun. I preferred to stay indoors and read holos and old texts. I guess that’s why my skin is so pale compared to yours,” he explained while examining her skin with his hands, making her shudder and inhale sharply. 

 

“You’re shivering,” he all but whispered, his hot breath now in her neck.

 

She stayed silent, waiting for the inevitable. Her heart was pounding in her chest.

 

He gently moved her wet hair to one side of her neck and licked the spot between her ear and her neck. Rey gasped, tilting her head to the side to give him better access. His wet hands ran up and down her arms as he continued to kiss and nibble on her ear, giving her goosebumps.

 

She twisted her head to the side to meet his languid gaze and he caught her mouth. His tongue eagerly circled hers, and he slid his hands under her arms and cupped her breast under the water while Rey moaned against his lips. He caressed, rubbed and squeezed her breasts, teasing her nipples, which pebbled under his thumbs. Rey felt his hardness swelling against her back. Her body melted into his broad chest as she allowed him to touch her everywhere.

 

The feeling of his soft plush lips and his hot hands all over her body made her core throb with desire. As if he read her mind, his hand traveled down below her navel and found her folds. He brushed her clit with his middle finger and Rey whimpered loudly under the raw sensation, pulling her mouth away from him. She tilted her head backward, resting it in the crook of his neck and arched her hips towards his hand while she raised her arm to grasp and pull at the hair on the back his neck.

 

Stars, it felt so good.

 

Feeling her pleasure through the bond, he licked her neck again and rubbed his fingers over her bud and down her entrance. Rey couldn’t prevent herself from moaning. Even in the water, he could feel her syrupy juices, and he hardened even more.

 

Feeling his erection pressed against her back, she wanted to touch him so much. She turned her body just enough to reach him and she curled her fingers over his shaft. Kylo’s brain short-circuited and he grunted, closing his eyelid shut.

 

Kriff. He was so massive her hand barely wrapped around him.

 

“W-wait…you first,” he murmured breathlessly in her ear. He wanted nothing more than to hear her come as he had the day before and he was utterly unable to concentrate on what he was doing with her hand on him like that.

 

Oh.

 

Rey released him, lifting her chin toward him.

 

His eyelashes fluttered open and, as their gazes locked, they both felt the other’s lust through the bond. He circled her bud with his right hand, and Rey arched her back against his chest and instinctively spread her legs, a subtle motion which Kylo found so arousing he thought he might just come on the spot.

 

He slid his hand down further and slipped a finger tentatively into her core, making Rey gasp out sharply. He kept thinking how right he’d been to study women’s anatomy beforehand - he’d watched some most needed holos in his most solitary hours - and it made it much easier to navigate in these unknown territories. At least, he had the theory of what to do, and the bond helped him feel what she needed and most wanted from him. The feeling of her warm walls and wet juices made his head dizzy, exciting him further.

 

Meanwhile, Rey kept wondering how in the name of the Force he was so good at this. His first digit was soon followed by a second, and she felt so much pleasure she shuddered to even imagine how good his cock would feel inside her.

 

At one point, she lowered her hand from his hair and grabbed his fingers, moving them upward to her bud again, showing him where to most pleasure her. She blushed as he glanced down at her with a questioning look.

 

“I-I l-like it better there…” she stammered.

 

She felt Kylo’s cock stiffen behind her back at her words and he kissed her again eagerly while he now moved his fingers relentlessly over her bud and she felt waves of pleasure progressively build up. She surrendered to him completely, panting hard against his face as he kept massaging her most sensitive parts.

 

Yes...don’t stop…” she begged before biting her lips, her face flushed red with desire while thick drops of sweat and water trickled down her forehead. 

 

He rubbed his fingers faster over her clit, making her reach her peak with a loud moan. Her body shivered in his embrace and she whimpered repeatedly into his ears. Watching her tremble in waves of pleasure in his arms was the most gratifying experience Kylo had ever experienced.

 

Recuperating her breath as she came down from her climax, she wasted no time. She turned around a bit and wrapped her hand around his throbbing erection once more. Despite her orgasm, she was eager to please him, and she could feel his lust flowing through her as if it were her own.

 

Kylo’s mind went completely blank. He ached for her like he’d never needed anything more in the universe.

 

Rey remembered how he maneuvered during the Force bond they shared many months ago - how could she ever forget? She started stroking him slowly and turned her upper body towards Ben so she could see his expression. She knew she was doing it right because he clenched his eyes and his lips parted under the sharp feeling. Even if Rey couldn't see what she was doing, she could feel everything, and it was almost better than the sight. Experiencing his length - not to mention his width - and how the veins throbbed under the pressure of her hand made her desire spike up again. She was surprised at how much she wanted this:  to touch him. To see him come undone in her hands.

 

While she slid her fingers up and down his shaft, he opened his eyes to look at her again and Rey panicked.

 

“Am I doing it alright?” she asked in a rush of embarrassment and slowed down while straightening her body a bit. 

 

He almost couldn’t speak. “Kriff…don’t stop, it’s so good. Just a little harder,” he panted breathlessly and Rey started again and this time she tightened her grip and picked up her pace. He didn’t care if he didn’t last long.

 

“Kiss me…” he pleaded. Rey leaned towards him and kissed him so eagerly, thrusting her tongue in his mouth that he came apart in seconds. She felt his cock go rigid under her intense stroking and he came in jolts of pleasure, groaning against her lips while she felt a hot liquid spurt out of his tip. She kept stroking his cock helping him to ride out his orgasm until he was fully done, watching him closely and enjoying the look of ecstasy on his face. Soon, he rested his back against the big wooden bucket and tilted his head over the edge, trying to regain his breath. 

 

His heartbeat steadying, he peered to her while she settled her chest over his.  

 

“Kriff, how are you so good at this?” he asked after a few seconds between hot pants.

 

“I was going to ask you the same,” she teased, now resting her chin against his chest. “It’s like I can feel you…through the bond. Almost like…your pleasure fuses with mine,” she explained.

 

“I feel it too,” he said with a nod, and then, he brushed the hair behind her ears. “Kriff, I’m sorry I came into the bath. But that’s your fault.” he then added.

 

She laughed as she lowered the rest of her body into the water. “It is not my fault. You’re the one who stripped naked in the first place. At least this time, you won’t have to clean yourself up,” she mused lightheartedly.

 

He almost smiled at her. It was the kind of half-grin, half-smile that made her heart leap.

 

“Was washing my hair just an excuse?” she taunted him. “I think your hair needs a cleaning more than mine, bad boy.”

 

He arched an eyebrow at the nickname. The way she teased him and provoked him always made his stomach have strange bubbly sensations.

 

“Not my fault that you have such beautiful breasts,” he defended himself as he reached to cup one in his hand.

 

“Hey, stop that! You’re so naughty!” she laughed, swatting his hand away.

 

“Yes I am,” he murmured truthfully with a devilish glint and Rey was reminded of one of their first encounters.

 

She leaned forward and kissed him, before releasing his mouth since he was responding so impatiently again. “Now it’s my turn to wash your hair,” she said with a wide smile.

 

Kylo obeyed and turned around, wetting his own hair first and then presenting his dipping locks to her. She started rubbing his scalp with the paste. She removed all the dried blood out of his hair by massaging him in small circles, and soon, she had the mighty Kylo Ren purring under her attentions.

 

He never thought he would love the way her fingers dug into his head so much, and she was amazed at the soft silkiness of his hair. Then she started scrubbing his back, which still had red bloodied traces. She trailed a white scar with her fingers, making him shudder.

 

Suddenly she realized something. The scars on his body were symbols...symbols of all his sins. His back was scarred from top to bottom just as he had slid his lightsaber through Finn’s back. His head still bore the marks of how he tortured Poe. And his cheek bore the indelible scar of what he had done to his father…by her own hand. She had no doubt the Force was responsible for him going through all these sufferings. He was paying back all his misdeeds. And it had been in the cruelest fashion.

 

She hesitated a moment. “When I found you on Canto bight, you were in such an awful state. I thought you were dead…” she started. “Why…why did they do this to you? Weren’t they supposed to be your allies?” she inquired hesitantly.

 

The way he sighed gave her the clue there was more to it than he had previously explained. “Tell me…please,” she insisted.

 

He didn’t want to tell her, but he didn’t want to lie either. She deserved the truth. “Hux was after you. He was determined to find out where you were.” Kylo looked down at the soapy water. “I refused to talk.”

 

Rey’s heart dropped to her stomach and her hands stilled on his body.

 

“You…they tortured you…because of me?” she questioned in a weak voice, not believing what she was hearing.

 

Kylo‘s head slightly nodded, and Rey swallowed. He endured so much suffering…to protect me? The sole idea brought tears to her eyes. 

 

She slid her hands around his chest from behind and hugged him, overwhelmed by emotion.

 

Kylo smelled her tears even before they dropped. He unwrapped himself from her embrace and turned around to sit before her. She was looking down and he lifted her chin up. “Don’t cry. There’s no way I would let that bastard harm you, you know that.”

 

“But, he nearly killed you!” she exclaimed, tears now falling down her cheeks.

 

“It was worth it. You came for me. You faced all those dangers, to save me,” he comforted her, nudging her cheek gently.

 

“How could anyone survive such treatment?” she insisted although her voice was cracking.

 

Kylo stayed silent but looked down a bit.

 

“Ben,…how did you know where I was? The Force bond had vanished” she managed to inquire.

 

“I saw it in your mind. When we kissed before I left. Akiva…?”

 

“It was the old base,” she confessed. “Ransolm took me to another planet afterward.”

 

“Why?” he questioned at once, and Rey couldn’t help noticing the hint of possessiveness in his voice.

 

“Because I was dying,” she said bluntly.

 

Kylo’s his dark eyes narrowed to hers. “What?”

 

He’d told her the truth and now she needed to do the same. She took a deep breath before continuing.

 

“The bond… You and I...We are inextricably linked more than we can imagine. You were dying and cut off from the Force in that cell. And, at the same time...I was dying and I couldn’t feel the Force anymore. Doctors couldn’t explain what was happening to me, except that I was dying.”

 

Kylo stared at her with his mouth open in disbelief. “So, you mean…”

 

“We are bonded in life and death. Yes, I believe so,” she finished before he could continue as she read where his thoughts were heading to.

 

Kylo was astounded. He knew the bond was strong. But this…if she was right, it put everything in a new light.

 

"I want to show you something after we finish this," she continued.

 

“Show me now. Let’s get out, my hands are starting to prune. I think I’m clean enough” he said, and Rey could feel his eagerness through their bond.

                                                                                                     

 

                                                                                                            ***

 

 

After getting fully dressed, both of them were climbing the steps toward the Jedi Temple. The day was overcast and the sky threatened to rain again any minute. The wind was rushing throughout the land, making Kylo’s black hair flow, but Rey’s was stylishly pulled up in a single, samurai-looking bun. She had previously retrieved the Jedi texts from the Falcon while Kylo had pointedly refused to go near the ship, preferring to wait for her up over the cliffs of Ahch-to. Rey hadn’t pushed the point. He’d come to terms with it in his own time.

 

At last, they reached the Temple. Rey entered and went straight for the Jedi mosaic on the floor. 

 

When she got to it, she turned around to invite Kylo to sit with her, but he was standing in the entrance of the Temple, obviously awe-struck.

 

Kylo glanced around the place and analyzed everything within. He felt a sudden tug in the Force.

 

Why -?

 

He knew this place, but he had no idea why. The Force was so strong, and he immediately noticed something.

 

The Force inside the Temple had no Light nor Darkness; it was perfectly balanced.

 

He peered at Rey, who was kneeling in the center, next to some strange looking carvings. He walked toward her, and soon, he stopped, scanning the drawing.

 

“The Prime Jedi” he said at once.

 

Rey frowned. She was flabbergasted. “How do you know?”

 

“You forget I spend a lot of time studying the Force. This is the First Jedi Temple; it was logical it’d be the Prime Jedi. And, I’ve seen this drawing before. It’s an old legend.”

 

“Tell me,” she asked eagerly as she invited him to sit next to her. He crouched down and sat, crossing his legs, across from her. He took a deep breath.

 

“The Prime Jedi legend is the story of the first Jedi who ever existed. The legend says he was the one who divided the Force. It was One before that,” Kylo narrated.

 

Rey gave him a puzzled look. “I don’t understand.”

 

“A long long time ago, there was neither Light nor Dark sides of the Force. The Force was One. The Prime Jedi divided the Force. I don’t know how he did that, or why, but that’s the story,” Kylo explained patiently, and then, he pointed a finger at the drawing. “You see, human beings are three-folded. The drawing represents the archetypes. The white side represents the Force user’s noble aspects, mainly, love and compassion, but also Thinking. Lightsiders think and use their reason before they act. Then, the black side represents the need for power, for passion, but also, it represents the Will. Most Darksiders act before anything before reason gets in their way. The lightsaber, in the middle of the engraving, is the first Kyber crystal to be forged as a sword. It represents the ability to Feel. Feeling, not as an emotion, but as a capacity, must be used to balance the Force between the two sides. And what do you do when you weave a Lightsaber?”

 

“You feel…You feel the Force,” Rey answered immediately. She was drinking in his every word. She couldn’t tear her eyes off of him and the way he was so composed while he related all this.

 

“That’s right” he answered.

 

There was a pause while she thought about everything he’d just revealed. From this point of view, she couldn’t help noticing he had much more Light than he would ever care to confess, for his brain and thinking seemed to work faster than anyone else, even if he was impulsive and his churning emotions betrayed him. On the other hand, she herself often acted without thinking, relying on her instincts rather than reason. Both of them seemed to shelter both Light and Darkness in their souls in different ways.

 

“You’re not such a bad teacher after all,” she teased kindly after a few moments.

 

Now you say that,” he answered, deadpanned, rolling his eyes.

 

“So, maybe you can help me with this,” she said, getting closer to the inscription under the drawing. “You see, here, ” she showed and Kylo got nearer. He read :

 

 

                                                     THREE VEILS MASK MY FACE - I OPEN IN THE BLOOM OF HARMONY.

 

 

“See, I figured out many things from these Jedi texts," she said while opening the books. “Thanks to that inscription.”

 

“Not bad for a beginner,” he smirked.

 

She gave him a scolding look, the precise one which reminded him so much of his mother before she returned her attention to the inscription.

 

“So,” she resumed, “I figured out the Rule of Three, as I told you. But I still cannot determine what it means to be in harmony. I think it means to be in balance. That the Third Door will open to me only when we are in balance.”

 

Kylo pondered her words for a long moment while he analyzed the inscription and the drawing again.

 

“I don’t think so. To me, it seems like ‘Balance’ and ‘Harmony’ are two different things,” he finally replied.

 

A voice unexpectedly echoed within the Temple.

 

“That is correct, young Solo.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Kylo and Rey jolted at the same time and their faces veered toward the voice.

 

An old man, with silvery short hair and beard with wise, elegant features was standing in the Jedi Temple. He was wearing long creamy Jedi robes as well as a loose brown coat with wide sleeves. His ethereal transparency and the blueish aura which surrounded him gave away what he was.

 

A Force Ghost.

 

Kylo got to his feet immediately. Rey glanced at him to see if he recognized him but she met the same astounded expression on his face as when she'd met Yoda. He didn't know the man either. She imitated Kylo and slowly stood up.

 

“At last, we meet,” stated the elder with a notable Coruscant accent, and he took a few steps toward them.

 

That voice.

 

It sounded familiar to Rey. Where had she -?

 

“Who are you?” asked Kylo suspiciously while his brows furrowed.

 

“My name is Obi-wan Kenobi, or, as most people called me, Ben Kenobi” he said while his eyes flickered between both of them. “And you are Ben Solo,” he stated, steadying his gaze on Kylo, who was in such a state of shock he couldn’t speak. 

 

“And you, my young one, are Rey,” Obi-wan then affirmed, nodding to her.

 

Upon hearing her name, a distant sound resonated in Rey’s mind.

 

Rey…these are your first steps

 

“Your voice…I’ve heard it before. In a Force vision I had,” Rey told the elder, a bit bewildered.

 

“Oh yes. I have been watching you for a long time,” explained the old man.

 

Kylo cut in. “You’re a Jedi Master. You were once my grandfather’s Master…” his voice trailed off.

 

“You are right. It also has come to my ears your parents named you after me,” he told Kylo with a smile.

 

Upon hearing his parents mentioned, Kylo frowned and swallowed while his fists clenched at his side. Oh yes, he knew. He hated being named after a Jedi.

 

Rey took advantage of the pause. “You’re a Force Ghost. Like Master Yoda and Luke,” she said before clasping a hand over her mouth and peering at Kylo as if she’d said something wrong.

 

Kylo’s gaze darted to hers. “What did you say? Luke is a Force Ghost?” he asked in disbelief and Rey could sense his rising anger through the bond upon hearing this intel.

 

“Oh yes, he is. As well as your grandfather, Anakin,” stated Obi-wan very calmly.

 

But Kylo was already surveying his surrounding in panic as if Luke's ghost were to appear any minute behind him. Rey couldn't be certain, but was that a shade of fear she felt in his Force signature?

 

Kylo glanced back at Obi-wan’s and Rey shuddered. It was dark and full of hate. “Why are you here? I don’t trust you, Jedi. You’re the one who betrayed my grandfather,” Kylo hissed.

 

Rey was horrified to feel the intense rage coming from him.

 

“Is that what Snoke told you? Obi-wan chuckled lightly. “I see he was an expert at twisting the truth. Speaking of which, I need to correct you. I was a Jedi. Now, I am one with the Force. I am its humble servant,” replied Obi-wan, never losing the elegant and wise touch in his voice.

 

Kylo bared his teeth. “Liar!  I know how your kind operates,” he snickered. 

 

“Ben! Don’t -” Rey shouted, but upon meeting Kylo’s cold glance, she froze on the spot.

 

“Rey stay out of this, please,” he said shakenly as he rose a hand, trying to avoid sounding rude to her before he turned back to the Jedi Master. Rey’s heart sank. Through the bond, she sensed Kylo descend deeper into anger and darkness.

 

Obi-wan didn’t seem impressed. “Your uncle made the same mistake your grandfather did. In time, you will understand what it is to fear losing everything you most love. That is what caused your grandfather’s true downfall,” he explained.

 

It was almost imperceptible, but Kylo flinched. 

 

“My grandfather chose the dark side. He didn’t “fall”. The dark side was his destiny. He died to save my uncle, who wasn’t worth saving. As far as I can tell, he should have let him die,” Kylo spat.

 

Rey winced as she remembered how Luke had been so afflicted about his failing with Ben.

 

Obi-wan took a step closer to Kylo, who stood firmly in place. A duel of intimidating stares initiated between the two.

 

But the elder Jedi didn’t flinch nor lose his serenity. “Anakin was seduced to the Dark Side by the Emperor, who made him think he could save the woman he loved from a death he’d foreseen. That caused his downfall. Downfall was his destiny.”

 

Kylo looked at him in horror. His fists were shaking at his sides.

 

“I don’t believe you,” he muted angrily.

 

“Search your feelings, Ben. You know it to be true,” replied the older Ben.

 

Kylo’s chest was heaving under his intense emotions. He found nothing to spit back to the Force Ghost and stayed skeptically silent. His mind was visibly racing.

 

Obi-wan then turned to Rey.

 

“Now you two have quite a different task ahead, if I may say,” he said cryptically.

 

“Wh-what do you mean?” inquired Rey while glancing at Kylo, whose features showed a deep, distrustful frown but nevertheless seemed intrigued by what the Ghost was saying. 

 

“You share a Force bond. And quite a powerful one at that.  One stronger than ever seen before! And... you have a Door to open, a critical step,” he clarified.

 

“You were saying that Ben was right, about the difference between Harmony and Balance,” she replied, eager to understand what she’d been pondering for ages and changing the subject of their fight.

 

“Yes,” Obi-wan answered and eyed Kylo again, “He is right. Do you know the difference between the two my young friend?” Obi-wan asked him.

 

Kylo was about to bark at him for daring to call him “friend”; nevertheless, he took the challenge and pondered his answer.

 

“Harmony is when a person feels and accepts both sides of the Force within himself. Balance is when the Force itself is in perfect equilibrium between the two sides,” he answered with a hint of defiance.

 

This time, Obi-wan was almost impressed. “Very good. Your experience serves you well. I can see you have studied a great deal,” he told him while Kylo’s nose wrinkled. “That is the task that awaits you both,” he stated, grey irises flickering between them.

 

Rey and Kylo’s gazes locked.

 

“That’s impossible” snapped Kylo after a short moment, looking back at the Jedi. “I cannot harmonize the two sides within me. I am of the Dark.”

 

“Oh, that is what you desperately want to believe. But a true, committed Dark Lord would never have gotten the right answer. You need to have Light within you to understand this crucial difference or else, the Dark Side clouds everything. How can you understand what is Harmony when you don’t even know what the Light is?” he answered, musingly, with a flat smile on his features. 

 

Kylo’s jaw went slack. He stared at the elder in bewilderment.

 

Upon hearing no answer from him Obi-wan continued “I know, you believe love is a weakness. But even as hard as Snoke tried, he never could extinguish the Light in you. It’s always been there.”

 

Rey’s eyes shot to Kylo. “Do you really believe it’s a weakness?” she questioned in utter disbelief, and this time, Kylo felt called out. He swallowed and looked down, avoiding her scrutinizing gaze. He hated to feel how hurt she was. He knew, he felt her feelings for him and realizing he could think of her as weak for it weighted his heart.

 

As much as he hated to admit it, the old man was right. He’d fled the Light because it burnt him alive. But despite his greatest efforts at extinguishing it, it was still there. It called to him. Whenever he was around Rey, he felt it rise through his veins. It scared him senseless, though he would never confess it. At the same time, he was powerless to prevent himself from seeking her as if his whole life depended on it. He was so confused.

 

Rey turned her attention back to the elder Jedi. “But Master Obi-wan, there’s something I don’t understand. Why do we both have to find Harmony? I opened the first two Doors alone,” questioned Rey, tilting her head.

 

"Your question is something I cannot answer. In time, you will understand. But you, and only you, can open the Third Door. But you will need him to do that,” he replied, nodding towards  Kylo.

 

“What do I have to do with that?” inquired Kylo warily.

 

Obi-wan peered at him. “Quite a bit. Much more than you believe. See, our young Light Sider here is as frightened of Darkness as you are of the Light.” He told Kylo before turning back to Rey, “You, young woman, will have to master it in order to open the Door. The Force is wise. It wills cooperation to unveil its deepest secrets.” enlightened Obi-wan.

 

Rey and Kylo were both dumbstruck.

 

“And now, I must leave you,” he stated solemnly as he eyed and nodded to both of them. “The Force will be with you, always.”

 

And then, he disappeared as mysteriously as he’d appeared.

 

Kylo slipped to the ground as if his knees had given in and the slope of his shoulders sank. He pinched the bridge of his nose.

 

There was a long, awkward pause. Rey looked down at him, at a loss for anything to say. After a moment, she sat down across him and reflected upon everything the Jedi Master had told them. About their mission, about her ultimate goal. Everything was such a mystery and her head hurt trying to make loose ends come together.

 

She stared at Kylo, who refused to look back. He felt she was mad, or annoyed at the very least, with him. 

 

“It seems you are going to be my teacher after all,” she sighed.

 

He glanced up at her and the way she exhaled noisily showed him she wasn’t pleased by this fact. “I don’t understand any of this. I don’t trust him, either.”

 

“Master Yoda was right about the Rule of Three and the Doors. Why would Obi-wan not tell us the truth? He’s trying to help us,” she insisted.

 

Kylo stayed silent.

 

Rey couldn’t believe it. She only knew one thing: she had underestimated how damaged Ben was. He’d been manipulated by that horrible monster Snoke, and at the same time, his family had obviously lied to him and concealed some important truths. He distrusted everyone. And she suspected he probably distrusted her, too. On the one hand, this made her pity and ache for him, but on the other hand, knowing he believed love was a weakness just …disappointed her. The sole idea that he’d think of her as weak for having feelings for him just made her stomach churn.

 

She got to her feet, gathered the Jedi texts and went for the exit without a word.

 

“Where are you going?” asked Kylo in a rush of panic.

 

“I’m going somewhere. There’s nothing more I can do here,” she said coldly, without turning around. She felt Kylo rise instantly to follow her. 

 

Indeed, she didn’t go back to the village. She took another route that led exactly to the opposite direction and soon, Kylo saw an array of huts appear on the horizon. He didn’t dare ask where she was going and just strolled behind her.

 

Soon, they reached some old, gray-stoned huts and Rey aimed towards a specific one, while he scanned his surroundings. Some nuns were working on the huts while others were scrubbing the scales on some fish. Why does everything just seem so familiar? He thought to himself once more.

 

“Ben, come,” he heard Rey’s voice and looked back towards her.

 

She was standing at the entrance door of a hut up on a high part of the area. He walked toward her and followed her as she disappeared inside.

 

Adjusting to the lack of light, he surveyed the hut. There was a central chimney and some burnt logs of wood, as well as a small mattress, while some objects laid on a stone shelf incrusted in the wall. There was…something. It immediately drew his attention and he went toward it.

 

There was a red kyber crystal framed as a crusader pendant, as well as a compass he recognized all too well. It was his old compass. His heart started to pound in his chest.

 

He turned around to Rey quickly, alarm and distress all over his features.

 

Rey didn’t give him the time to ask anything. “This was Luke’s hut while he was in exile here. I stayed here several weeks, maybe months,” she told him decidedly. 

 

Kylo’s eyebrows curved in a pained expression. “Why did you bring me here?” he asked in a weak voice.

 

“Because Luke went into exile because of you. You need to know the truth. To confront it. This. Everything,” she stressed and her accusing tone was not lost on him.  

 

His eye pricked with tears as she bore her eyes into him, but he couldn’t stand her gaze and lowered his own. 

 

He inhaled sharply, chewed on his lips and swallowed. He wanted to be angry at her, he wanted to give her a snarky retort but found he simply couldn't. He couldn’t deal with confronting his uncle’s faith and past. The image of him trying to murder him still loomed over him and rage ran through his veins. But at the same time, he knew she was right. And what he’d just learn from Obi-wan nested doubt in his heart. Nobody ever told him the truth about anything. He didn’t know where or how to start to unveil it, to confront it. All he knew was he hurt, and he only wanted to be free of all the pain tearing him apart. Soon, tears uncontrollably ran down his cheeks. She looked upon him as all his defenses crippled and he put a hand over his face as if he wanted to hide. 

 

Hearing him cry was gut-wrenching. Her heart softened immediately. She got closer to him and hugged him tightly. His spine folded in and he nestled his damp face in the crook of her neck. He never found solace with anyone when, alone at night, he’d cry his own loneliness away, which made him cry even harder under her gentle touch: his tears morphed into thick sobs. She ran her hand through his lush locks and lulled him, trying to soothe him.

 

“It’s okay…I’m here, I’m sorry I’m hard on you…I just want to help you,” she whispered in his ear.

 

At last, his tears receded and he slowly straightened. His swollen red eyes cast her a miserable look. "I'm the one who should be sorry," he said, full of self-loathing. He bit his wet lips and then, aimed to catch hers. She let him and her eyelids shut under the feeling. His kiss was sorrowful but also almost possessive, as if he’d been scared of losing her. 

 

All of a sudden, thunder crashed outside and lightning shone through the door, making them break their embrace. Faint sounds of raindrops could be heard, before breaking into a full-fledged downpour.

 

“Well...I think we’re going to be stuck here. I know these storms, they last for hours,” Rey told him.

 

“What? You want to stay here?" Kylo asked, suddenly panicked.

 

The sole idea of being in a place where Luke had resided for so long seemed to be the last place he wanted to be in the whole Galaxy. Which was precisely what Rey wanted. 

 

“Yes. Help me get some wood in for the fire and gather some stuff for the night,” she said, stepping outside the hut. “Come on, don’t just stand there!” she chastised him. 

 

He sighed in defeat. Rey always had the last word it seemed.

 

She definitely was going to be the death of him.

 

 

                                                                                                    ***

 

 

Two hours later, they both sat, wrapped in covers around the roaring fire. Rey had fetched some weird looking blue milk and insisted he didn’t go with her for some unknown reason. They’d cooked some food together - he wasn’t so bad at it himself - and they were both relaxing with a cup of hot local plant liquid in their hands.

 

“This planet is really remote,” Kylo told her at one point. “I can’t believe there’s absolutely no technology here.”

 

“Yes. Just when I thought Jakku was the most desolate place in the Galaxy, I ended up here for months,” she deadpanned. “But you know, I figured there’s a reason.”

 

Kylo quirked an eyebrow, almost amused. “Which would be…?

 

“This is where the first Jedi Temple was built. And I figured that technology draws you away from your inner self. It subjugates you. I’d never been able to meditate like here. I think technology is a distraction for internal peace, for finding one’s inner Light, which is why there is none here,” she reasoned. 

 

Kylo listened attentively. What she said made sense to him. He too experienced that he could connect to his inner self better when alone, and most of all, when he wrote and did his art, which required no technology.

 

“Maybe that’s why I have a liking for old-fashioned arts,” he guessed.

 

“Yes, it struck me on Canto Bight. I mean…calligraphy? That’s old-fashioned!” she laughed.

 

Hearing her laugh mended his aching heart. He looked down at the fire, and its crackling sound and soft orangey light mesmerized him.

 

“I wanted to ask you…” Rey’s voice hesitated. Seeing he made no objection, she continued. “Do you know anything about your grandmother?”

 

It was a simple, plain question. Yet he looked at her as if she’d asked him to explain the mysteries of the universe.

 

"You're asking…because of what Obi-wan said," he said, and it was a statement, not a question. "No, I don't. No one in the family talked about her really. Mainly about Anakin, but never referring to him as Darth Vader. You already know how I found that one out…" he expounded, glancing over at her.

 

“Yes, I remember. It was Ransolm’s discourse,” she nodded.

 

“They all lied to me. I don’t know how to figure out the truth. But…” he hesitated.

 

There was a pause.

 

“What is it?” she asked, intrigued by his sudden silence.

 

“When I was on Mustafar, where my grandfather’s castle still remains, I found a holo…of a woman. She was beautiful. It caught my attention. I know my grandmother’s name and origin. She was Naboo’s queen and then senator…before she died. But I don’t know how exactly she died.” Kylo detailed. “There are so many things I have tried to learn about my grandfather, but…not her.”

 

“Maybe this is the right time, don’t you think? Obi-wan said your grandfather fell to the Dark Side because of his love for her, believing he could save her,” Rey reminded him. 

 

Kylo let out a long sigh. 

 

“I don’t know. It sounds…so unlike him,” stated Kylo, full of suspicion.

 

Rey got to her feet and came to sit next to him. He welcomed her near him by opening his blanket and wrapping her into it with him, warming her up. She slid an arm around his strong one and looked up at him straight, demanding his full attention.

 

“Ben, listen to me. You need to open yourself to the possibility he’s telling the truth. To trust. Him. Me…” she pleaded.

 

“How can I trust when everyone has betrayed me?” he immediately responded.

 

She observed him closely. “Have I not shown you can trust me, at the very least?” she entreated.

 

Kylo gazed at her while he pondered her words. “I trust you, I-I just…,” his voice trailed off.

 

"Ben, I'm scared too. I was thrown out like trash when I was so small…nobody wanted me," she said, as a knot formed in her throat and tears stung her eyes. "How do you think I feel when you say you think love is a weakness? That I'm weak for having feelings? Like it means nothing? Like it means, you're… what? Just playing around with me? That you're just going to throw me away too?" her voice shook with emotion and her irises filled with sadness as she peeked up at him.

 

His heart sank to his stomach. It was a bucket of ice-cold water. He realized how much the thought had hurt her.

 

He turned his body toward her and rose a hand to cup her trembling chin.

 

“I would never throw you away, Rey. I think you’re the strongest person in the Universe. I-I’m sorry, I’m just…so confused about everything. Everyone was so scared of me. Everyone rejected me. I tried to kill my past and move on, I tried to destroy the Light by embracing the Dark Side… but it keeps coming back to me. And…I c-can’t help seeking you. You were right, yesterday…I-I’m just afraid,” he finally confessed, stammering.

 

Rey’s eyelashes fluttered as his words sank in and she felt her heart warm up. He needed her as much as she needed him. And for the moment, she would settle for that until time would heal the wounds carved into his soul. 

 

She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulled him to her and caught his mouth. The intensity of his response could only be explained by his own desperation with himself.  If he couldn’t express anything, at least, he could show her. He moved his lips passionately over hers and circled her tongue fiercely as if silently apologizing. It only triggered their blooming desire and all Rey could manage to do was to moan into his mouth and run her fingers into his silky hair.

 

He only broke the kiss to run his tongue over the spot under her earlobe and Rey rolled her head, giving him all the freedom to explore her neck. The feeling of his hot and wet lips made her shiver and she was progressively turning into jelly.

 

At this point, Kylo was desperate. He wanted her in a way he never believed he could want her. And he was done with waiting.

 

Never releasing her neck, he aimed to tug on her belt and met no resistance from Rey, who, on the contrary, untied it for him. She wanted this as much as he did. He proceeded to slide her linens down and aimed for the hem of her shirt, pulling it over her head. It revealed her breasts and Rey peeked shyly at him. Silently, he licked the seam of her lips again and immediately cupped one of her breasts. Rey whimpered under the feeling of his warm hand on her chest.

 

He deepened the kiss and as he slid an arm around her back, Rey suddenly found herself tilting backward. He pulled her into his strong arms and carried her to where the mattress was on the ground. He cautiously laid her there before straightening and taking his tunic off. Rey could only shiver as she admired his broad muscular torso and caught a glimpse of the prominent bulge in his pants.

 

He knelt down and soon hovered over her, his warm body pressed to hers. He started kissing her mouth and her neck again. He licked and suckled on her skin until his tongue found her breasts and she forgot to breathe. She moaned out loud and arched her back under the feeling of his hot mouth, making her nipples harden under his tongue.

 

As he licked and suckled her breasts, Rey felt her panties getting wetter by the minute. At this point, Kylo was a mess of lust and expectation and his cock was already so hard it’s confinement in his pants hurt. He pulled her leggings down, taking off her panties at the same time and proceeded to settle next to her.

 

“Take your pants off too, it’s not fair I’m the only naked one” she then murmured to him teasingly, recalling his earlier ploy.

 

His cock twitched and he never obeyed an order so promptly in his entire life. He kicked his boots off and unzipped and pulled his pants down, revealing he wore nothing under and his cock sprung free at last. Rey bit her lips in anticipation as he settled himself next to her. Kriff, he was massive, like the rest of him. She could now see his throbbing veins and tip leaking and she couldn’t prevent herself from touching him. His tip was so soft it felt like velvet. Kylo watched her with unabashed hunger as she wrapped her long fingers around his length and his jaw went slack. He grunted as she started to stroke him slowly, trying not to lose every shred of reason that was left in him. He slipped a hand between her legs, and as his fingers brushed against her entrance, he peered at her.

 

She was soaking wet. She flushed red in embarrassment under his scrutinizing gaze and chewed on her lips while he moved his fingers and caressed her bud with her juices. She only stroked him harder. He bent over to catch her lips before whispering in her ear, “You’re so wet…”

 

He lifted his head and he saw her blush even more. Then he stopped and hesitated. “A-are you sure you want this?” he asked while he admired her beautiful hazel irises in the dim yellow light that filled the hut.

 

There was something so touching about the way he asked, and how he looked upon her as if she were the brightest star in the galaxy that Rey was overwhelmed by emotion. In his eyes, she read what his tongue couldn’t speak. How deep his feelings truly ran. She took air in her lungs and breathed out to steady herself.

 

“Yes,” she answered, casting away any shred of doubt. “I want you,” she whispered.

 

Kylo contemplated her silently as her words sank in. An unknown feeling, deep and strong, burst from his heart. It was warm and light and fluttered like butterflies. He pressed his lips to hers and channeled all this newfound feeling through his kiss as he settled himself over her.  Rey wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back, pouring her most deep-rooted love for him through her lips. Through her heightened senses, she could feel the golden threads of their bond encircling them with their twinkling lights while the music of the universe resonated through them.

 

The storm echoed outside as they embraced. The rain was dropping loudly on the roof tiles. The elements seemed to respond to their union as if celebrating it.

 

Kylo straightened over her and spread her legs apart a bit, revealing her pink moistened flesh. The sight of her made him dizzy with desire. He grabbed his length and rubbed himself a bit over her entrance, and his soft tip made her shiver with pleasure.

 

Then, he slowly and cautiously entered her moist warmth. They both gasped out loud, closing their eyelids under the sharp, raw sensation and both were overwhelmed by distant visions, images of the past and future. Thunder from outside reverberated loudly around them. He opened his eyes, and white lightning flashed inside the hut. Rey was watching him closely. He didn't know what had just happened but she'd felt it too and she was gripping his arms expectantly. Carefully, he started moving inside her but she winced in pain and Kylo felt it immediately.

 

“I’m hurting you,” he said in a rush of panic.

 

“It-s just, y-your so big” she grimaced under him.

 

Kylo immediately pulled out and Rey cried. “No, don’t -“ she started but he silenced her by putting a finger over her lips and hushing her.

 

“I felt I opened you…this is like a wound, I-I read about this…but you can Force heal yourself.”

 

She blinked. “You read about this?”

 

He grinned but stayed silent and instead of answering, started kissing her neck, her breast and ran his tongue down her navel until he reached the spot between her thighs.

 

“Ben what are -”

 

Before she could say anything else, he shoved her two legs over both shoulders and pulled her toward him and Rey realized what exactly he was about to do. Of course, she’d imagined this before, but seeing it for real was a completely different experience. She shivered from head to toe as she watched his black locks sink between her legs, and Kylo peered at her with such a devilish glint in his eyes that Rey swallowed. He turned his attention to the apex of her thighs and swiped his sloppy tongue over her pink, swollen flesh.

 

She gasped out and the world stopped.

 

It was most delicious sensation she’d ever felt in her whole life. She arched her body and mewled as he sealed his lips to her and licked her with long strides, suckled on her flesh, and caressed and teased her with short licks on her bud.

 

Stars, his mouth was the incarnation of sin. She swore it had been made to do this. She parted her legs a bit more, moving her hips to grant him better access and a low growl came from his throat as he continued to suckle her, finishing a long lick by pressing his lips together on her clit. He was clean-shaven as he'd found a knife in the laundry hut after their bath and shaved his short beard, but the still raspy feeling over her clit drove her insane.

 

Before Rey, the idea of going down on a woman was something he’d found rather disgusting. However, with her, it was a completely different story. Her wetness tasted like sweet and sour and he licked and swallowed all her juices eagerly, making his cock even harder. He knew he would never get tired of feeling her shiver and moan under his ministrations. 

 

“Come on, heal yourself,” he insisted teasingly between two licks.

 

“Ahh, I-I can’t - con-concentrate…,” she panted hard. If he stopped she was going to scream.

 

His experimentally dug his tongue into her core while his nose nuzzled on her bud and he lapped all her slickness fervently. Rey didn’t know which part aroused her more, if it was seeing him, feeling him or hearing the suckling sounds of his plush mouth. He quickly discovered where to most please her, and when he started licking and sucking her bud with renewed ardor and cupped a breast with one hand, circling and squeezing her nipple, she grabbed and pulled his hair, arching her spine and her mouth opened wide with a crude moan. The feeling of his spongy lips and his tongue incessantly swiping her clit was building up her pleasure fast and her whole body started to shudder. 

 

That’s exactly when Kylo stopped and Rey whined loudly.

 

“Why-” she protested.

 

“Please, heal yourself,” he entailed her as he started caressing her clit with his fingers. “I want you…you’re so wet,” he added with blatant honesty as he licked his lips and she could see his chin glistening with her juices. He’d never felt so aroused and needy in his entire life, and he felt his cock was about to burst. He wiped his mouth with the back of his palm and the gesture was so raw and primal that Rey shivered with need.

 

She put a hand over her spot between her legs and attempted to concentrate all her energies on healing her insides, while Kylo continued to stroke her wet clit encouragingly. After healing Ben’s wounds, this seemed like a practical joke. Kylo saw her hands glow with yellow light as her hand hovered over her body.

 

“Okay…I think it’s better,” she said.

 

Kylo gave several long stripes on her folds with his tongue and released her with a loud smack, making her shiver again. He straightened, settling his hips between her legs. She admired the view before he grabbed his throbbing cock and stroked it gently, spreading pre-cum over his tip. He cast her the most blazing lustful look she’d ever seen on his features, and she licked her lips in anticipation.

 

He wetted his smooth tip with her fluids; he entered her again slowly, and this time, he met no resistance as he bottomed out inside her. Rey’s whole body arched and rolled her head, gasping out while he shut his eyes under the exquisite sensation of her inner, damp walls clenching his erection. He'd imagined this countless times, but even his wildest dreams had fallen ridiculous short. Rey couldn't believe how perfect he felt. His cock filled her as the piece of a missing puzzle as if they'd been designed for each other.

 

He opened his eyelids and when their gazes locked, Kylo had a distinct déjà-vu experience as he marveled at the woman under him. He tried to cast the feeling aside as he started to move inside her with deep, slow thrusts, causing her lips to part.

 

Their lovemaking was the most mystical experience. Never had she felt more like a woman in her existence. And never had he felt more like a man as when he entrusted himself into her. They felt the other's pleasure as if it were their own. There was no distinction between their bodies; their minds fused as they abandoned themselves to their Other. Together, they felt whole: when he was inside her, they were One. 

 

 

He continued rocking his hips into her and Rey grabbed his two broad muscular arms. He bent over and pressed his mouth to hers, kissing her ardently, and then he brushed her skin with his lips, lowering until he was fully bent over her, and licked and suckled her breasts.

 

Rey revered in the intensity of his lovemaking. With each deep thrust, she was helpless to prevent her low, throaty sounds and her pleasure was building up fast again, as she'd been on the brink of her orgasm just before. Was she imagining things, or was the hut shaking slightly?

 

He lifted himself from her chest and straightened, watching her pant as he picked up his pace and started pumping a bit faster, causing her to head throw back. He watched mesmerized as his cock sank deep into her repeatedly and the sight aroused him even more. She stroked a foot over his calf as she shifted her pelvis a bit. She parted her legs just a little more and pulled them to her chest, causing him to grunt out loud, for her walls tightened around his cock in utter perfection.

 

“You’re so kriffing good,” he muttered breathlessly over her.

 

The newfound angle was simply delicious. His body brushed perfectly over her clit as he kept thrusting into her. She was a molten pit of lava and she shivered from head to toe as waves of pleasure kept building up. Kylo couldn’t tear his gaze from her lusty one and watching her under him reassured him in strange ways. He felt her pleasure rise as each thrust took her higher and higher, nearing her to her release. The more he pleasured her, the more the hut and the ground shook during their lovemaking; the pots and pans making clattering sounds while the storm raged more intense outside.

 

Her hands soon traveled down his now sweaty broad back and lowered to his ass, grabbing and squeezing him, showing him she wanted more. He complied and buried himself deeper into her soaked core. He felt the muscles in his lower stomach start to tense as he pounded in and out of her.

 

“Ohhh... yesss,” she whispered in a low moan, tightening her walls around his thick cock.

 

Upon hearing her, he felt he was about to come and stopped moving, clenching his eyes as he struggled to control himself.

 

Don’t stop - please, Ben!” Rey winced and shouted shamelessly at him. Kylo stared at her. He couldn’t take it. He rutted into her folds with several more erratic thrusts and finally ground his hips deep into hers as he came crashing at full speed, grunting her name out loud like a prayer, causing Rey to open her mouth wide with a silent scream and to see stars as her bliss hit her more gloriously than ever. The whole hut was now shaking and vibrating as they both hit their climax, and some bricks came crashing down, while her every muscle clenched around his erection, milking him, and she felt his hot liquids spur into her as their bodies both withered under the intensity of their shared orgasm. Thunder and lighting erupted outside, and white light flashed again as Kylo collapsed in the crook of her neck, panting hard while she tried to catch her own breath.

 

A few moments passed where the hut and the elements seemed to settle again, and the rain receded. Rey ran her fingers into his sweaty hair, massaging his scalp. At last, he pulled out of her slowly and she crossed her legs to prevent his juices from leaking out. He shifted his weight over to the side and she could now breathe better.

 

He glanced at her with his flushed face. “I-I’m sorry I couldn’t hold it, I didn’t want to come before you,” he apologized with puppy dog irises while still out of breath.

 

“Ben, yours brought mine, don’t worry,” she soothed him, caressing her reddened cheek. “It was so good and I’m kind of...flattered you couldn’t hold,” she murmured, trying to reassure him.

 

She then looked at the bricks which had fallen down as rain was starting to drop inside the hut.

 

“Kriff, I think we made a mess,” she chuckled. “The nuns are going to kill us.”

 

“It was worth every falling brick,” Kylo answered, glancing from the hole in the ceiling back to her. She smiled widely and pulled him toward her, giving him a thankful kiss.

 

While they kissed, both of them were completely oblivious that two glowing figures were standing in the rain, a couple of meters away outside the hut. A small, pointed ear creature stood with a wooden stick in his hand, and a taller, bearded man with long robes was flanked at his side. The rain didn’t seem to affect them, for it went right through their transparent bodies.

 

“I cannot believe they are actually desecrating this sacred island, and doing this in my own hut,” deadpanned the bearded man.

 

The smaller green creature chuckled. “Ah, Luke, always so tight with Jedi customs are you. Never let of the past go, do you.”

 

A third voice resonated from behind them. "He's right, son. You're the only one who stuck to that Jedi code, anyway.”

 

Luke’s Force Ghost veered toward the voice. Anakin Skywalker was standing there, wearing his brown Jedi robes, with his youthful dirty-blond locks.

 

“Oh Father, don’t start. Master Yoda never broke it,” he said eyeing his green friend, who stayed silent.

 

"Master Yoda, don't tell me -" asked Luke, properly horrified.

 

“Always so sure, are you. A thousand years lived, have I. A long time, that is. Before a Jedi I became, a wife had I. Not so bad looking either, was I. But abandoned her, did I, to fulfill my destiny,” revealed Yoda.

 

“Master Yoda!” Luke put a hand on his face. “Oh Force, don’t go into details.”

 

Anakin laughed lightheartedly. Luke addressed his father again. “Well, we all knew you broke that code, anyway” he rolled his eye.

 

“And you wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t,” replied Anakin musingly. “At least the boy has more of me than you.”

 

“Oh he has too much of you, that’s part of the problem,” stressed Luke.

 

“He will find his way. You have to give them time,” said a fourth voice, and the figure of Obi-wan appeared next to Anakin. “And, coming back to this, you know as well as we do that the Force wills this mystical union between them.”

 

“Yes, yes,” said Yoda. “Transcended, the carnal act is, when blooms love truly, between woman and man. Learn this, the force users must. Help him, she shall. Through the ages, always, has she. Always, will she. Such nature it is, that of true, unconditional love.”

 

The three other Ghosts nodded to the elder and watched the hut which had fallen silent, as Kylo and Rey were already fast asleep.

 

“Well, that sure is a nice hole in the wall. Not bad for his first time. My grandson is quite gifted I’d say, don’t you think Luke?” grinned Anakin.

 

Luke facepalmed again. “I can’t believe I’m hearing this.”

 

Anakin stepped closer and put a hand on his son’s shoulder and both contemplated the last of Skywalkers as he slept peacefully in his lover’s arms.

 

Chapter Text

 

With each passing day, Rey unveiled new facets of Ben’s multi-layered personality. There were sides she’d always suspected existed, hidden under the ruins of his splintered self: a gentle man who was capable of caring. She felt it whenever he made love to her - and she’d lost count of how many time he’d done that - or whenever he caressed her face or caught him watching her in the morning. Nevertheless, he could change in a split second from honey to solid rock wherever his fears kicked in, and he’d retreat in his shell. It took all her effort to talk him into opening again.

 

One thing was certain: the man was a challenge. The good part was she’d spent a lifetime waiting and she knew everything about patience.

 

She felt her stomach twinge every time she thought about these stolen, happy moments, cut off from the rest of the universe. It was too good to last forever. She only wished they could eternally run away from the everlasting war ripping the Galaxy apart. However, her instincts told her they were to be short-lived and the storm would engulf them again soon enough. 

 

She tried to clear her mind as she stood with Ben over the cliffs of Ahch-to, her saberstaff in her hands. Through their time on the island, he’d proven to be a much better teacher she’d ever care to admit, instructing her in the fighting Forms and teaching her about the Dark Side and how the Jedi philosophy had to end. Since she’d never been properly trained, she relied on her instincts, natural strength and Force abilities to fight. Little did she know the whole thing was a true art.

 

Kylo reveled in how fast she learned. In less than a couple of days, she'd successfully mastered the first six Forms. Of course, she'd been very keen on learning the sixth form, Niman, designed for double-bladed lightsaber use. Kylo, on the other hand, had always favored the seventh form, Juyo, the most aggressive and unpredictable way of fighting, which enabled him to unleash the eternal boiling anger in his veins. Rey was struggling to manage this ultimate form since it relied on tapping fully into the darkness.

 

She’d been practicing her Forms alone with the lightsaber and whenever he showed or corrected her, they’d shift to large sticks they’d carved from a trunk to avoid any injuries. But today, Kylo wanted to test her. Since Starkiller base, he’d secretly craved another fight. While they were apart, he’d thrown himself into the most intense training regime - although, at the time, his main objective had been to do anything not to think of her. And now that she needed to master the Dark Side, it gave him the perfect opportunity to attempt unleashing it.

 

Rey grabbed the saberstaff and split it in two with a sharp move, watching him since he didn’t know of this feature.

 

Kylo’s stricken face was epic. His mouth dropped to the floor. His gaze flickered from the saber to her face with such a dumbfounded expression it made Rey giggle.

 

He took the two lightsabers carefully from her hands and started observing them, scrutinizing the designs and mechanics. He recognized the Kyber crystal. His grandfather's was in one. But the crystal in the other…?

 

“Where did you find the other Kyber crystal?” he questioned skeptically.

 

“It called to me…I…” she hesitated to tell the truth, “I stole it from someone…on the Ring of Kafrene,” she detailed.

 

“You…stole it?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow. “I thought Jedi didn’t steal,” he mused with a wry grin.

 

“The ‘seller’ recognized me because of the bounty you’d put on my head,” she quipped back quicker than lightning, “He tried to capture me.”

 

Kylo’s grin vanished off his face as fast as it had appeared.

 

Rey continued. “It was then that our bond opened again,” she now said, waiting for his reaction.

 

It didn’t miss. Kylo’s eyes narrowed and brightened in realization. “That’s when you used my technique…you froze the Stormtroopers…” his voice trailed.

 

“Yes. I was in danger. I felt you…you helped me,” she whispered.

 

Upon hearing her soft voice, Kylo’s heated gaze traveled from her hazel irises to her pink mouth. Why was she so attractive when she whispered like this?

 

He was already nearing his face to kiss her and Rey took the opportunity to tease him, taking a step back.

 

“So, teacher, are we going to spar?” she teased, taking her lightsabers back and stressing the title with such a mischievous grin that his cock twitched.

 

The things I would teach you, he thought and controlled himself before his desire took every thread of reason away again. “Exactly what I was about to say,” he lied blatantly, putting on a serious face now.

 

Rey chuckled before glancing at the lightsabers in her hands. “I think it’s only fair you fight with your grandfather’s Kyber crystal. It called to us as equals, and the other I consider mine.”

 

Kylo nodded and she threw him the lightsaber. “If you break it, you’ll answer to me,” she warned.

 

He snorted and ignited it. The blue light illuminated his face and its smooth buzzing sound filled the air. Kylo observed the lightsaber, which was at the same time so similar and so different from the one which previously had encased his grandfather's crystal. Yet it was the same powerful and familiar tug he felt in the Force as before.

 

Rey couldn’t help thinking how his face and countenance changed with his grandfather’s lightsaber compared to his red-crossguard one. The soft blue light gave him a melancholic appearance to his features instead of the angry one she’d known when they’d fought on Starkiller. It seemed that somehow, his red crackling blade was part of him now. 

 

She turned her lightsaber on. The deep blue blade and spitting sound caught Kylo’s attention immediately, reminding him of something he’d already noticed on Canto Bight.

 

He looked at her gravely and now, his face showed only seriousness. “Do you realize that blade is as unstable as yourself?” he asked cryptically.

 

She blinked, betraying she didn’t. “What do you mean?”

 

“The Kyber Crystal reflects our deepest self. Haven’t you noticed mine crackles? It’s a reflection of my soul. So is your blade,” he enlightened her, and his low tone almost gave her chills.

 

She shrugged and then hesitated, “You mean…it reflects my duality, the dark side?”

 

“That’s correct. It’s there,” he replied, now aiming his blade toward her face as he narrowed his dark irises to hers “And now, I’m going to unleash it, or you’ll bow to me,” he said almost dangerously. 

 

She swallowed. His low voice and obsidian eyes made her spine shiver but she caught the glint of seductiveness in his voice. He was challenging her now.

 

She glided a foot backward and settled in a defense position, remembering the Forms.

 

In the blink of an eye, he was on her. She dashed his hit, which nevertheless cut a lock of her hair before he towered before her again.

 

“Fight me, Rey,” he warned and he twisted the saber in his hand with such smugness she cocked an eyebrow.

 

She crossed the saber before her, shielding herself while she skidded a leg to the side for balance. 

 

He spun the saber with all his might as she dashed forward, the blades coming to crash in a thunderous sound while whitish sparks flew around them.

 

Rey smirked. 

 

“Defense won’t do it. You need to attack,” he whispered heatedly from the silvery-blue light of the blade.

 

He didn’t have to tell her twice. She lunged forward at full speed, and their blades crashed repeatedly while the blood and adrenaline in their veins spiked in a new type of fight, a more animalistic one. He wanted to claim her on another, new level.

 

The way they moved and circled each other was like a dance; his primal maleness whirled her around her like a peacock in search for his female, while she, eyelashes fluttering and arrogant, let herself approach before rejecting him with her blade, bending her knee to have the right amount of strength to send him flying away, only for him to retaliate back more fiercely, chasing her over the rocky landscape of the Island in the setting sun.

 

He was trying to impress and dominate her. It was a new, dark courtship. Raw and dangerous. Both with ferocious eyes while their gazes locked, they panted and huffed under the others’ attack and the heat of their bodies set them on fire as they brushed skin to skin. It was pure ecstasy.

 

At last, their blades crashed again while she blocked him over her head. 

 

“I could crush you in an instant,” he provoked her “Unleash it!”

 

“Try me,” she grunted defiantly.

 

With a twist of the blue saber, he whirled hers around, forcing her to defend herself and locked their sizzling blades near her face. This time, she hadn’t foreseen the move and she cried out but held on tight, baring her teeth. His blade was millimeters away from her. It was the forest all over again.

 

“Are you going to bow to me? Let your anger out, let go!” he howled, pushing a little more.

 

She looked at him, dumbfounded.

 

She couldn’t be angry at him.

 

Sensing where her thoughts here heading, he used another strategy. “Think of your parents. Think of how they abandoned you in that junkyard,” he snapped, tapping into her weakness.

 

She looked at him, dazed, as he continued to shove the blade toward her, making her sweat and press on the hilt to avoid him burning her skin.

 

She couldn't do it. It wasn’t working. The powerful anger she’d felt before didn’t come out. 

 

And if he continued, he was going to cut her neck.

 

"Ben!" she screamed, "Please, I yield!

 

Kylo’s shivered as felt her desperate plea through the bond.

 

He pulled back and turned off the lightsaber off at once, making Rey nearly fall down. She released the air she hadn’t noticed she’d been holding. It had been so close it actually scared her. She bent over and rested her hands on her knees, panting and recuperating her breath.

 

"I- I can't…I'm sorry..." she said, puffing hard.

 

Kylo steadied his lungs too and wiped the sweat off his forehead. “In the Throne Room, I felt it. I felt the Dark Side in you. You just need to give in to it, to accept it. Embrace your passion. And the darkness that’s already inside you,” he said, pointing a finger at her chest.

 

Rey considered him for a moment. “There has to be a way, but I don’t know how…” she answered, still out of breath.

 

Kylo looked at the saber in his hands. “You did a good job with this. I could feel the Crystal as before.”

 

“Keido Ren was also very impressed when I split it in two before him.”

 

It came out spontaneously. It’s only when she saw Kylo’s puzzled face that she gasped and recalled.

 

“I didn’t tell you! How could I have forgotten this! When they betrayed you…Keido came to the apartment. I faced him. That’s when he revealed he had no idea of what was going on. He didn’t know about Vrieska and the others betraying you.”

 

Kylo’s face remained inscrutable. “What happened then?” he asked, his tone straying neutral.

 

“To make a long story short. Keido asked me…who I was exactly and I told him. His attitude changed radically from then on. He told me to flee Canto Bight, as he knew the troops were to invade the place. He gave me your communicator to keep in touch while he sought you. We spoke once, while I was very sick and desperate to find you. I’ll give you the device back if you need him. He seems like…an intelligent and reliable person.”

 

Kylo hadn’t known exactly what had gone on between his Knights, but he suspected something as such, even if the betrayal still painfully weighed his shoulders. However, learning that his most faithful advisor had stayed loyal to him eased his bleeding heart.

 

“Indeed, I’d doubted of his allegiance. When the moment comes, I will need him to take my revenge on Hux and Vrieska and regain the Empire.”

 

Rey turned white.

 

The smile on her face curled down into a scowl and her expression filled with dismay.

 

Kylo’s stern gaze met hers and through the Force, he felt her sudden rush of alarm. “You truly thought I was going to sit on this rock forever and not claim what is rightfully mine?”

 

No… no, no, please…she silently begged.

 

“Ben, I didn’t risk my life to save you so you could just go back like nothing happened. I mean, I’d understand you’d want to punish Vrieska for her offense, but gaining back the Empire? It’s what led to your destruction. If I hadn’t been there, you would have died,” she said, disconcerted, trying to control her rattled emotions.

 

“That’s my destiny, I-”

 

“No! It’s not!” she cut him off, shaken by his lack of understanding. “You heard what Obi-wan said. Your destiny is to find harmony within yourself!”

 

Kylo’s anger was rising like a threatening thunder. “My faith in the Jedi ended when Luke tried to murder me. My destiny is to fulfill what my grandfather left unfinished and no one can convince me of the contrary,” he hissed.

 

“Then why are you helping me master the Dark Side if you don’t believe anything he says?” she inquired, trying to corner him in his contradictions.

 

“Because I want you to open that Third Door,” he answered bluntly.

 

Rey opened her mouth and shook her head in utter disbelief.

 

“You’re so selfish! So you’re doing all this…for what? When I open the Door, you’ll just leave again?”

 

“I want you to come with me. Together we can end this senseless war,” he said, locking his expectant irises to hers.

 

She arched a wary eyebrow. “And to do what exactly? Rule at your side your precious Empire?” she snapped with blatant sarcasm. “We already had this conversation!”

 

Kylo stayed silent. Of course, that was what you always had in mind, she thought bitterly to herself.

 

“Have you not learned anything?” she stressed desperately, brows furrowing. “Your greed for power was your downfall. How can you not see this? And now you want, to what, kill all of them? Let go of the Darkness, Ben, please!” she entreated.

 

She got no answer as he just glowered at her. She felt wrath rise within her.

 

“You’re not even capable of facing your past! You haven’t even stepped within an acceptable range of the Falcon since we’ve been here,” she railed against him. She’d never seen such stubbornness before.

 

“That piece of junk means nothing to me,” he spat coldly, but she knew that was a flat lie.

 

“For your information, that piece of junk is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a home. You’re just a coward,” she snapped indignantly and turned around to leave.

 

Rey didn’t catch it, but a red light flashed in his dark eyes.

 

“What did you just call me?” he whispered warningly, grabbing her arm and whirling her back toward him with a sharp tug.

 

She met his cold stare challengingly. 

 

“You know perfectly well what I said. You’re a coward.” Her tone was of ice, filled with disappointment. “You saved my life. I saved yours. We are equals. Do what you want, but I’m never going with you, it’s against everything you need to do,” she sneered, wrenching herself free from his tight grasp.

 

She summoned her lightsaber from his hand without taking the time to assemble it and just left.

 

Kylo’s chest was heaving under his intense, raging emotions. His nostrils flared and he huffed. 

 

“Come BACK here!!” he howled, walking toward her with long strides and soon, he stood in front of her, blocking her way.

 

She lifted her chin to meet his furious black eyes. She crossed her arms, shifted her weight to the side, and pursed her lips, not buying any of it. She waited for him to say something. Kylo sensed the change in her demeanor and tried to rein himself a little.

 

“You are coming with me. You’re mine, and your place has always been with me,” he stressed, smug and arrogant.

 

That did it.

 

She uncrossed her arms, approached him and put a finger on his solid chest. Her furrowed brows and wrinkled nose augured nothing good.

 

“Listen to me, you big nerfherder. Us sleeping together doesn’t mean that you own me. It doesn’t work like that. I don’t belong to you.”

 

His features tensed with outrage.   

 

“So what does that mean…? That you can just…what, go and fuck anyone else?” His words whooshed out of his mouth before he could stop himself, possessiveness bubbling in his veins.

 

She winced. He heart pounded like a hammer in her chest. The use of that word stung. It stung and burned. She recalled what he’d said about him thinking of her sleeping with other men in the Resistance.

 

“Is that…is that who you think I am? I’ve given myself to you, and now...what, you think I’d just go and sleep with anyone? Like…like some kind of whore?” she stammered, furious and heartbroken.

 

“I didn’t -“ he started to protest.

 

Her simmering anger came to a boil.

 

“That’s exactly what you’re implying! You twist everything! Love doesn’t mean to possess someone, as if I were a silly object you could carry along and do whatever you pleased with! My refusal to go with you doesn’t mean I’m going to go have sex with anyone else!” she screamed, full of indignation.

 

Kylo was speechless under her burning stare but his anger didn’t recede. Rey tried to compose herself, failing miserably in the attempt. Her fist curled at her side.

 

“Several days ago,” she started with a trembling voice and peered at the ground “I received a message from the Resistance. They asked if I was in one piece and where I was. They need me to come back and fight. I didn’t answer because… I didn’t know what to tell them. I didn’t know what to do…because of you,” she said, now locking her eyes to Kylo’s again. “But now, seeing what your plans are, I know what I have to do,” she spat defiantly. She turned around to leave again, this time casting him a long last glance filled with disillusion.

 

Her gaze wasn’t lost on Kylo; but anger clouded his mind. There was no way she was getting away with this. He lunged forward and grabbed her elbow again firmly. “You’re not going anywhere!” he growled menacingly at her.

 

“Don’t touch me!” she hissed like a snake and slapped his hand. “I’m free to do as I want! And if that means going back to help my friends, trust me, I will. You don’t control me! And until you face your past, get a grip on yourself, and figure out that I’m not your prized possession, I don’t want to see you,” she barked, leaving again.

 

If the rebuke rattled him, he didn't show it. Instead, he reached for her arm again, preventing her from moving and he was curling his fingers around her so tight it hurt. She knew she would bruise.

 

“Let.me.GO!” she snarled, losing patience.

 

“Where are you going?” he demanded.

 

“I’m sleeping in Luke’s hut tonight, alone. And don’t you dare follow me anymore,” she warned, wrenching herself free and eying him one last time before she continued her course. Rey knew it would hurt him to the core. But his words broke her heart and she needed to be alone. He’d burned all her patience and she was done with him, for the time being.

 

Kylo blinked, utterly disconcerted. He watched her climb the slopes of Ahch-to and disappear into the fading sunlight, against the white puffy clouds, without giving him another glance. How did she dare leave him like this?

 

Rage and confused feelings invaded his heart. He wanted to hate her. But soon, he found it was impossible. His fists clenched so hard that blood started to seep from his hands; he clenched his teeth so tight his jaw shook. He felt his chest was about to burst open in agony. He wanted to punch something.

 

He screamed and cursed out loud, releasing his tension and turmoil. He sank to the ground on his knees, and rammed his fist into the ground violently, making his knuckles bleed as they buried in the soil. At last, he sighed, disheartened, and just stayed sitting there on the cold land, shoulder slumped.

 

As the daylight disappeared, he replayed the whole scene in his head so many times he lost count.

 

Love doesn’t mean to possess someone…

 

He pondered this thought over and over again until his brains short-circuited. What was love if you didn’t possess the person? He’d always consider Rey as rightfully his. The idea of another man around her, touching her, was unbearable, and more so since he’d made love to her. He meant his words, he feared she would leave him for someone else. He’d grown powerful to make things bend to his will, only to find out the one and only person he most wanted was slipping through his hands like water through a sieve. Seeing her fiercely opposing him only made his burning desire for her skyrocket.

 

But now, he could feel how angry she was, and she’d withdrawn herself from him like never before. When he nudged on the bond, he realized she’d closed him off. His heart pinched as he recalled her earlier words and that haunting look of disappointment on her face. 

 

You’re not even capable of facing your past...

 

You’re just a coward...

 

I don’t want to see you.

 

He knew her well enough to be certain she’d keep her word. Pain swelled in his chest and he exhaled, long and slow. He ran his hand through his hair.

 

Kriff, she was right, and his mind self-censored adding ‘as usual.’ He was terrified to go into the Falcon. The ship brought back the most dreaded memories. Ones he’d fought against all his life. Ones he’d hidden deep into the corners of his memory. Ones he’d sworn would disappear when he killed his father. Only they were still there, lurking and haunting him.

 

He dwelled on these thoughts until he lost track of time; it was pitch dark. Eventually, the full moon rose behind the clouds of Ahch-to; its light shone and twinkled on the sea, giving the land a mystical and enchanted appearance.

 

Kylo lifted his head towards it and the moon bathed and embraced his face with its soft, welcoming light. He gazed upon it, mesmerized, as if Rey had appeared in a beautiful revelation and shown him a glorious metaphor of his eternal conflict. His tormented soul wanted to reach for the light, as a moth desperately attracted to the light, even if it meant burning alive.

 

Moonshine.

 

She was his moonshine.

 

The moonshine that illuminated his darkness.

 

Without her, there was no light. There was only darkness for eternity.

 

His shaking fingers wrapped and gripped his calf. She gave him no choice.

 

He got to his feet, brushed the dirt away, squared his shoulders and cracked his neck. He solemnly swore to himself it was the last time he gave her a reason to call him a coward.

 

He proceeded to walk toward the beach. The clouds had vanished from the sky and the moonlight guided him through the rocky parts of the island until he saw a firelight illuminating the Falcon. He approached cautiously and quietly.

 

Chewie was sitting next to the fire, visibly roasting what Kylo could distinguish as those puffin creatures that infested the island. He’d only seen Chewie from afar since he’d recovered from his wounds and seeing his father’s best friend closely now made his guts wrench.

 

With the Force, he distracted Chewie by making a rock fall behind him so he wouldn’t catch him slip into the ship. 

 

As he’d planned, Chewie went to check the sound and Kylo crept up the Falcon’s ramp.

 

He took air into his lungs as he entered the Corellian freighter for the first time in years. Longer than he could even remember. He stopped at the entrance, rooted on the spot while his fist rapped uncontrollably at his side. This is where his father always stood when he left him behind, closing the door and diving into yet another adventure without him. Where Rey had closed the door on him at Crait.

 

His glance swiveled and his nose wrinkled. The ship was in even worse condition than last time he’d come on board. The walls were yellow, tainted permanently with dust and encrusted with dirtiness.

 

Kylo proceeded uneasily, with slow and heavy steps, inside the corridors toward the main hold.

 

While he walked, bright memories flooded his mind. Of his father making him fly around in his arms whenever he came back. Of Han and Chewie repairing the ship with their hands full of grease, cracking jokes about how she was the fastest ship in the Galaxy and how they’d done the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. Of how he hid, still a small kid, in the secret smuggling compartments until his father found him.

 

Soon, he reached the cockpit and scanned it with a glance. It was dustier, untidy and rotten as ever, but still intact, just as he recalled.

 

But he stilled when he picked up the scent.

 

It was Rey’s scent. It was everywhere, unmistakably filling his nostrils.

 

That piece of junk is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a home…

 

His heart dropped to his stomach as he remembered her words. Why, of all ships in the Galaxy, she had to choose this one to build something she called a home? However, he soon found he couldn't blame her for wanting one. He was homeless too and knew the feeling all too well.

 

 

He laid a shivering hand on the pilot's seat and brushed it with his fingers. Scrubbing the dust, it uncovered an old mark, of a remote, long-lost time: ‘B.S'.

 

Those were his initials, permanently engraved just where he had carved them as a kid. The day he’d sworn to his dad he’d surpass him as best pilot in the Galaxy. A time where he still felt the Falcon was his home. Kylo chewed on the inside of this mouth.

 

Then, he raised his chin.

 

They will still there. In the same place. 

 

His father’s dice.

 

He grabbed them and this time, they were no Force projection. They were real and weren't going to disappear. His heart hammered in his chest as he contemplated the long-lost golden object.

 

Soon, a voice echoed from the past.

 

 

Why do you keep those hanging here, Dad?

 

They’re for luck, Ben. I’ve had them all my life.

 

How did you get them?

 

An old friend gave them to me. One day, they'll be yours, kid.

 

 

Kylo shuddered and wrapped his fingers tightly around the dice. He squeezed his eyes shut and when his teeth bit his lips, he tasted iron.

 

He seized the pilot and copilot seats and his whole body bent over as he winced in pain.

 

The ship was his whole childhood. She was part of the past he desperately wanted to erase from his life. But it was there. Solid and clear. Disgusting and in decay, but there nonetheless. 

 

Before he knew it, the vision on Canto Bight poured back into his mind. The blood spilling from Han’s mouth. The horrible stare his father gave him when he realized his only son had ended his life. He saw his father’s last heartbroken gesture over his cheek, begging for forgiveness.  

 

Dad…

 

Kylo’s body jerked up, crashing into the wall behind him, clasping his hands over his face and dropping the dice, desperately trying to flee the images that assaulted him.

 

Shaking his head, he bashed into every wall in his effort to reach the main hold again. At last, he leaned against the metal structure, gasping for air, as sweat now dotted his forehead and his body shivered uncontrollably.

 

Kylo was in such torture he didn’t sense it; he only heard a loud growl and when he turned around, he felt a furry first against his face and he was sent flying across the main hold and crashed against the Falcon’s walls. 

 

He winced in pain. He tried to straighten himself, opening his eyes just a bit, but he only found a Wookie spitting and roaring in his face.

 

Chewie howled at him so hard Kylo was cornered and plastered against the wall. The Wookie was going to skin him alive but he didn't want to use the Force against him.

 

Suddenly, a distant memory came back, clear as a summer day, from the depths of oblivion.

 

He saw himself, so small he didn't recall his age, standing in the exact same spot. The same Wookie eyed, grunted and tilted his huge head curiously at him. Little Ben had entered the Falcón without his father's permission and Chewie had found him. But instead of reprimanding him, he embraced and scooped him in his strong furry arms, taking him back to his family. It was the very first memory he had of Chewbacca’s sky-blue irises. They had become best friends from then on whenever Ben came near the ship. The Wookie would toss him around and play hide and seek until his father grounded both of them.

 

How could he ever have forgotten?

 

“Chewie…” he muttered, recoiling under his intense growling. And, the worse part was understanding everything the giant furball was yelling at him.

 

Why? WHY? You were his son! He loved you!

 

Kylo lowered his face to his chest and his hair fell over his face while Chewie kept yowling furiously at him.

 

“I’m sorry…” Kylo muttered while a thick lump in his throat made him swallow. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he repeated like a mantra.

 

Upon hearing him, Chewie went dead silent. After a while, he started moaning and whining, which only stung Kylo’s heart a little more.

 

I miss him so much…why did you do this? Insisted the Wookie.

 

Kylo lifted his chin and now dared to meet his old friend's eyes.

 

“I’m sorry. I-I shouldn’t’-” he stammered, staring at him. Hot tears burned his irises. He was unable to continue meeting Chewie’s gaze and looked at the floor instead. “I never should have listened to him! To Snoke. He got into my mind, he manipulated me into thinking it was my duty to kill him, to fully embrace the Dark Side. And he said it would make the pain go away. But it didn’t! It’s worse!” The words spilled out of him as his defenses finally relinquished. He blinked and the salty liquid slid down his cheeks and into his mouth. He broke into a thick sob, bringing his knees to his chest and hugging himself.

 

Chewie was alone now.

 

He was alone.

 

His father was dead, at his own, tainted hands. His mother was gone. His uncle had become one with the Force. And everything was his fault.

 

And now Rey…Rey had pushed him away. He wept a little harder as he recalled her cold demeanor earlier on.

 

She wanted nothing to do with him and she was right. He only destroyed everyone and everything around him. How could anybody love a monster like him?

 

Then, he heard Chewie sniff, and soon his heavy footsteps exited the main hold. Kylo didn’t dare lift his head. It was already a miracle the Wookie hadn’t killed him on the spot.

 

Kylo wailed and gasped for air for long moments.

 

“Ben…” A voice suddenly shook him out of his muffled cries.  

 

Kylo’s heart jolted and he stopped crying at once.

 

No. That voice…

 

He rose his head up from his knees and his face distorted in fear as he gasped out loud.

 

Luke was standing before him, a blue, transparent aura surrounding his eerie body.

 

Kylo pushed himself back against the wall, terrified by the sudden appearance. He instinctively reached for his belt but his lightsaber was nowhere to be found and panic washed all over his features.

 

Luke knelt before him. “I’m not going to hurt you, Ben.”

 

“Get away from me!” Kylo cried out loudly.

 

Luke raised both hands up in the air, eyeing his old student closely to show he wasn’t seeking any harm.

 

“Go away!” hissed Kylo.

 

“Sorry kid, I’m not going anywhere,” retorted Luke steadily as he sat down and crossed his legs, accommodating himself.

 

Kylo’s heart pounded as he contemplated the apparition, eyebrows knotted into a deep frown. He wiped the dampness smeared over his face. He knew Luke was a Force Ghost now, but seeing him in this state shook him on many levels.

 

He looked much older than when he’d seen him appear on Crait. His beard and longer, messier hair were whiter. And now, he had to acknowledge how Luke had truly died. He had sacrificed his life to save the Resistance and above all, Rey and his mother, from none other than himself. Of course, Kylo had known then. He’d known from the very instant he’d realized his uncle had Force projected himself. But contemplating him now, united with the Force, made him swallow in realization.  

 

“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Kylo inquired guardedly.

 

“You want to be alone, now? You don’t seem to be in a such a good state,” answered Luke warmly, pointing at his red swollen face.

 

“When has my well-being ever been of your concern?” he spat angrily.

 

 “It is,” said his old mentor. “As it was your mother’s and your father’s concern. Even if you didn’t acknowledge it at the time.”

 

His uncle mentioning his father, in this place, of any other in the galaxy, was enough to make Kylo’s nerves prickle.  

 

“Why did you do it?” asked Luke, eyebrows wrinkling his forehead.

 

Kylo considered him. “Why what?” he asked angrily.

 

“Why did you kill Han?” inquired Luke straightforwardly.

 

Kylo fell silent. He narrowed his gaze skeptically, trying to decipher his true intentions. Scanning his presence in the Force, he found it quite different from the last time he’d felt his old master. Wiser, nobler. He sensed no secret agenda from him and the question was genuine. He truly wanted to know.

 

“I thought Force Ghosts were omniscient once united in the Force,” he chided.

 

“I am asking you, Ben, not the Force,” answered Luke.

 

Kylo sighed, long and sorrowful.

 

“Snoke convinced me that killing him would snuff away the light I had in me. It would erase the past. That only then would I truly embrace the Dark Side. I thought it would enable me to move on, to ease the pain...” explained a resigned Kylo.

 

“Did it?” questioned Luke.

 

Kylo chewed on the lip which had previously bled.

 

“No. It made it worse,” he replied honestly. “As if the image of you trying to murder me wasn’t enough to torment my nights,” he then added with a hint of disgust and sarcasm.

 

Kylo watched Luke fiddle with his fingers, visibly seeming uneasy. It was such a familiar gesture, one he would make whenever he felt uncomfortable, that it took him aback.

 

“Ben, how do you feel about losing Rey?” inquired the old Master.

 

Kylo eyes widened before the question and his brow creased. He observed Luke with concern. “Why are you asking me that?” he murmured warily.

 

“Please answer the question. How do you feel about the idea?” insisted Luke.

 

Kylo’s mouth seemed to seal. A deep frown appeared on his features and upon hearing no answer from him, Luke dug the knife in just a little more.

 

“You have feelings for her. Deep and strong. Ones you can’t control, don’t you?” questioned the elder.

 

Kylo’s lips pursed and his cheeks turned pink. Luke lifted his eyebrows and bore his blue irises into his, silently asking for confirmation.

 

“That’s the last thing I would ever talk about with you,” Kylo finally retorted.

 

“I’ll take that for a yes then,” quipped Luke with a flat smile and Kylo jerked his gaze away from him.

 

“I’m scared to lose her,” he confessed bluntly, blushing a bit harder, without looking at him.

 

There was a pause.

 

“Ben, look at me,” entreated his uncle and Kylo peeked at him. “You would eliminate any threat that could make you lose Rey, wouldn’t you? This is exactly what happened to me,” started Luke. “When I saw the amount of Darkness inside you, I was suddenly frightened you would destroy everything I had built, everything I had fought for, everything I loved. Out of pure instinct, I thought I could erase the threat. I ignited my lightsaber…and the feeling passed like a fleeting shadow. I realized the insane idea that had crossed my mind of sacrificing someone I loved to save the rest, but it was too late…you had already awoken and seen a master that had failed you, of an uncle that had betrayed you…” he explained, his eyes full of shame and guilt.

 

Kylo turned pale and shifted his head in disbelief at the raw, naked honesty.

 

He stared at his uncle, at a loss for anything to say before the comparison he’d just made. Indeed, he would do anything not to lose Rey, and that meant killing, too.

 

“I’m so sorry, Ben,” whispered Luke in a desperate plea.

 

Kylo’s throat was dry. He looked upon his uncle in utter bewilderment. Words seemed to have died on his tongue.

 

“I’m not asking you to forgive me. I’m asking you to understand,” Luke implored. “I was weak. I failed to trust you and because of that, I couldn’t prevent you from falling to the Dark Side. I failed to let go of my fears, I was scared of losing everything. And in my fear, I created the reality I most dreaded,” explained Luke as his voice filled with regret. “Rey was the one who showed me how wrong I’d been.”

 

Upon hearing this, Kylo shivered from head to toe.

 

It crashed upon him like lightning. He now understood what had truly happened that night at the Temple, already seven years ago. The image that had haunted him day and night, almost to the brink of madness. His uncle, looming over him in the middle of the night with his flashing green lightsaber ready to strike him down. It had been out of fear of losing what he most loved.

 

“We all love you Ben. Me, your mother, your father,” Luke’s voice cut the thick air. “And Rey too.”

 

Upon hearing this, Kylo lips and jaw trembled. His thoughts flashed to Rey. His stomach twisted into knots. Was he going to lose her too, as his uncle lost him, because of his fears?

 

Sensing where his thoughts were heading, Luke continued. “Ben, you need to trust her. She will help you. Let her in” he said a bit cryptically.

 

“I’ve realized... I don’t know... how to love,” answered Kylo painfully.

 

“You will. You will…” Luke replied comfortingly. “I’m sorry we didn’t do a good job at giving you the right example.”

 

There was a short pause. 

 

“That’s maybe the only right thing you’ve said in thirty years,” said Kylo, unable to avoid the sarcasm to his voice.

 

Luke’s lips curled into a small, repentant grin and he gave an apologizing nod.

 

“That’s the problem with family. It’s always complicated. But you can’t escape it nor prevent yourself from loving it. You just have to cope with it.”

 

Kylo considered what he’d just said and found that, deep inside, Luke was right. He’d tried to escape it, to kill it, in every meaning of the term, only for it to come back screaming in his face and haunting him every night.

 

All of a sudden, a low growl came from the hallway. Chewie had come back in and was staring at Luke’s Force Ghost. He’d known Luke could appear because Rey had told him so. He wasn’t surprised to see him, but he was of witnessing such a scene.

 

“Chewie…old friend,” said Luke.

 

The Wookie grunted out loud again. Both Luke and Kylo froze.

 

Why are you talking to that traitor?

 

Kylo lowered his head, almost ashamed, not daring to meet his accusing stare. 

 

Traitor…

 

The insult reminded him of something…When he’d called FN-2187 a traitor. The first faint stirrings of guilt nagged at the back of his mind, shedding light on a truth he’d pointedly shielded away.

 

“Chewie, it’s complicated. We’re trying to settle things here old’ buddy,” explained Luke upon seeing Ben’s reaction. “And, for the record, we’re both traitors here,” he continued, glancing at Ben again, who peered at him.

 

Kylo was almost grateful for that last one.

 

Chewie observed the two, and he just left again with a shrug.

 

“You’ll have to make amends with him, kid. You know…what Han meant to him,” said Luke gently.

 

“I could never make amends. It’s too late,” answered Kylo gloomily. 

 

“You know what this ship meant to Han. It was everything. His pride and joy. Maybe you should…”

 

Kylo glanced at him gravely. “What are you implying -?”

 

“That you should recover what is yours. Help Chewie with it, repair it, maintain it,” his uncle cut in.

 

“It’s a piece of junk and you know it,” Kylo scolded him.

 

“Not bad for a piece of junk then,” the old Jedi Master said, glancing around at the Falcón. “And you’re the only one who can honor it. You’re the best pilot in the galaxy now. The last of the Skywalkers.”

 

The praise shook Kylo to the core. It was maybe the first time someone from his family sincerely complimented him on something. It made his bleeding heart ache a little more.

 

“I have to leave you now, Ben.” Luke bore his blue eyes into his nephew’s deep brown ones. “I guess I’ll see you around then, kid.”

 

Kylo picked up it wasn’t a question. It was a statement. He nodded back silently.

 

“May the Force be with you, always” was the last thing he heard from his uncle as he vanished with a warm smile on his face, leaving Kylo alone again in the sounds of silence of the Millennium Falcon.

 

But at that very moment, he heard drops of water echo on the Falcon’s outer structure. It started to rain.

 

Kylo shivered. It was cold.

 

He sighed and rubbed his arms for warmth.

 

He was about to spend his first night alone in days. The first one he wouldn’t make love to Rey. And her scent was everywhere, torturing his senses. He felt as if it were a punishment.

 

It was going to be a very long and lonely night.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

The cold penetrated deep into her bones. Her whole being shivered helplessly.

 

Dismay filled her soul as she contemplated the tall man before her, the man her heart beat for. He was glaring at her with such contempt that an icy current ran down her spine.

 

“I’m leaving this useless rock, right now. And I don’t care if you’re coming with me or not.” Kylo snapped at Rey and he turned away from her, blasting off with long strides down the green slopes of the island.

 

Rey stared at him in shock. Through the Force, she felt it didn’t matter to him what she did or not. He was going to leave her, here, alone.

 

No, please…

 

Full of distress, she ran toward him:

 

“Ben! Wait!”

 

He didn't stop. She lunged forward to reach his arm, but he turned around before she could blink and seized her wrist so tight his nails dug into her skin hard, and she yelped and winced.

 

He shook her with pure wrath. “You’re just a scavenger, a useless garbage picker. Any other woman would be better as my Empress than you. You’re no one, a nobody from a desert junkyard.  You have no place in this story,” he hissed into her face and shoved her back so hard she lost her balance and crashed onto the ground, shaken and speechless. “How could you ever think I could have feelings for you? You’re nothing to me,” he sneered and whirled around to leave.

 

A powerful and repressed feeling invaded her as she watched him walk away without sparing her another look.

 

She realized, without a shade of doubt, that the impossible had come about.

 

She loved him.

 

And he wanted nothing of her. She was never going to see him again.

 

At the realization, she cried out in pain; she felt her chest burst open and looked down at it. It was full of red, crimson blood, gushing all over her clothes and down to the ground as if someone had ripped her heart right out of her body. She bent forward, only to receive the bloody organ in her hands. It was red and throbbing, palpitating as a skinless newborn creature.

 

She shut her eyelids in horror and the next thing she heard was her agonizing scream, ripping through the air.

 

“BEN!!”

 

Rey bolted awake, gasping for breath. Her eyes were wide with fear and darted around to take in her surroundings as she clutched her chest with both hands and looked down. It was there, hammering against her ribs, but intact.

 

A dream… It’s okay…it was only a dream.

 

She attempted to steady her racing pulse by taking in deep breaths to recover from the fright of the nightmare. Silence filled Luke's hut and light was pouring through the cracks as she wiped the sweat away from her forehead

 

Her thoughts instantly traveled back to Ben. She reached for him through the bond.

 

He was still on the island. She couldn’t place where exactly, but he was here. She closed her eyelashes and exhaled in relief. 

 

There was something...different in his Force signature. It emitted…what was it? Dejection? Sorrow? And it was also…subdued? She couldn’t pin a name on the impressions coming from him.

 

He’d probably slept in the Lanai hut, alone. Her heart ached as she recalled their first real fight. It hurt even more after the dream. She truly felt she’d lost him forever. In the dream, she acknowledged the very feeling her conscious self hadn’t been able to admit until now. The image of her bleeding heart in her hands and the excruciating pain she felt as he rejected her still blazed in her mind.

 

She shook her head.

 

She only wanted to hold him. Sleeping without him had been close to torture. He had broken her heart the day before and she’d still wished he were there, spooning her with his warm broad body, with his lips nudging her earlobes and his manhood making her feel like the most desired woman in the universe. She’d struggled for hours to find sleep, turning over and over on the mattress where his masculine scent irrevocably permeated, making it impossible for her thoughts to drift away from him. At last, she had fallen asleep from pure exhaustion.

 

She didn't lose a minute. She rose from the mattress to put her clothes on hastily and grabbed her belongings before running down the misty green slopes of Ahch-to in search of her lover.

 

Eventually, she reached the Lanai village, where everything was calm and asleep. It was still very early, for the faint rays of yellow sunlight were peeking on the horizon.

 

Rey raced for their hut. She opened the door in a rush, only to find the room empty and cold. There was no leftover fire. It hadn’t been slept in.

 

She blinked in disbelief.

 

Where-?

 

She scanned his Force signature again. She hadn’t previously thought of another place where he could have slept, not bothering to focus on where to seek him.

 

Then, it hit her.

 

No, it couldn’t -

 

She walked hurriedly toward the beach, laying an astonished glance on the ship.

 

The Falcon?

 

She cringed as she immediately remembered her harsh words.

 

You haven’t even stepped within an acceptable range of the Falcon…

 

You’re a coward.

 

Guilt was quickly replaced by excitement and eagerness. She picked up her pace, and her feet sank into the sand under her weight as she rushed toward it.

 

The ramp was open but Chewie was nowhere in sight. She climbed up, and her heart drummed in her chest as she confirmed he was indeed in the ship.

 

Correction. She sensed him in the cockpit.

 

She slowed down, taking careful steps. She’d hoped for this moment so many times she’d lost count, and now, on the brink of it finally happening, she was invaded by anxiety. She dreaded to see him here, in his father’s ship.

 

Carefully, she reached the cockpit and peeked in, only for her lips to part in astonishment.

 

Ben was wrapped into a blanket, lying in the pilot’s seat, his long legs spread up and crossed over the console before him. His face was tilted toward her and his black hair was scattered over his pale features while his chest was heaving in a slow, rhythmical pace.

 

But another detail made her heart constrict: his father’s golden dice hung from a hand that was slightly sticking out of the cover. A treacherous tear worked itself out of Rey’s eye corner. 

 

Even in her wildest dreams, she hadn’t dared to envision such a scene. He came onto the ship because she provoked him. He faced his fears after she called him a coward. Out of every other corner of the ship, he had fallen asleep here. In his father’s seat.

 

Her chest swelled with a new and warm feeling toward him: pride.

 

She crouched before him, tipping her head to the side to take a better look at him. As if on cue, he stirred and his black long eyelashes fluttered. He straightened a bit, recovering his senses, eyes thick with sleep. Saying he looked exhausted and miserable was an understatement. It pinched her heart.  

 

“Rey?” he blinked and croaked with a hoarse voice, clearly disoriented for he dropped the dice without even noticing.

 

She raised a hand to cup and caress his cheek. “It’s me…I’m here,” she comforted him, eyebrows furrowing as she felt his pain. She couldn’t hold it in. Before he could do or say anything, she closed the meager space between them and brought her lips to his. He stiffened at first under the feeling at first, but soon, his lips dissolved into hers. He drank her honeyed taste again as their mouths opened and closed around the other. He pushed the cover to run a hand through her hair, bringing her face closer to his.

 

Their bond danced and sang in a magical, invisible wave, surrounding them.

 

The feeling of his hot lips consumed her entire body once again.  Why did she ache so much for him?

 

In an urge she couldn’t explain, she pulled her face from his and rose up to settle herself over his lap, straddling him, and his hands immediately grabbed her buttocks. She cupped his jaw with both hands and their languorous gazes met.

 

She remembered her dream. His dark, hateful gaze. Her bleeding, torn apart organ.

 

"I'm sorry," she exhaled in a hot-breathed murmur.

 

I'd never dreamed I'd love somebody like you

 

No, it's me…I'm sorry," his soft and desperate gaze pleaded honestly. He looked upon her as if she were the moon, the sun, and the seven stars.

 

No one can save me but you

 

Before she could break into a sob, she grabbed his moistened plush lips with hers again.

 

The world was on fire

 

She pushed his head into the seat as her tongue sought his with fervor. He had so many things he wanted to tell her but his mind pushed everything aside as his desire flared. Kiss now - talk later, ordered his brain. She felt him harden in seconds under her passionate kiss.

 

To his greatest delight, he noticed she didn’t have her shirt on but only her breast band, over which she’d drawn her linens. He slipped his large hand over her back, caressing her naked skin and then, he cupped her ass as she instinctively started to rock herself over the outline of his erection.

 

A deep, dark and unknown craving rose within the depths of Rey’s body. Now, she wanted to claim him.

 

Gathering all his remaining strength, Kylo broke the kiss at once and lifted her upward against him before shoving her into his strong arms, as if she were his bride. She instinctively wrapped herself around his neck, she gasped half in surprise, half in protest.

 

“Ben - what?” she questioned with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Not in here,” was the only thing he managed to say before carrying her throughout the Falcon’s corridors. Rey beamed at him walking deep into the ship and it was so surreal she wanted to pinch herself to be sure she wasn’t dreaming.

 

They reached the crew bedroom and he closed the door with a flick of his fingers, locking it for good measure, before laying her on the bed. It was old and wrecked but still mildly purple.

 

“Couldn’t sleep here. Your scent is everywhere,” he mumbled aiming to kiss her, but instead, she straightened and sat on the edge of the bed while he was still standing before her. 

 

She watched him and smirked from below with an unfamiliar expression. Her blazing gaze had something more…something feral.

 

She rose her hand and laid it over the bulge in his pants and caressed him, making his cock twitch.

 

He almost cursed as her grin grew wider  - was she-?

 

Although he had pleasured Rey several times with his mouth, she hadn’t tried the same with him…yet. Somehow, he’d sensed she was still shy about it and he didn’t want to rush her. Since he was…well proportioned, he thought she might dread the act. Of course, he’d dreamt about this more than he'd ever care to admit. A rush of lust and excitement washed over him as he watched her, sitting on the edge of the bed, legs spread open to the side while her hand teased his manhood. 

 

She attempted to lift his tunic, but he was faster. He grabbed the hem and ripped it over his head, revealing his muscular, naked torso to her. He threw the garment on the floor with a sharp tug and squared his shoulders. The motion was enough to make Rey’s desire spike dramatically.

 

Without a word, she reached to pants and unzipped him, tugging it down a bit. His cock came springing out in all its glory, snapping Rey’s complete attention to it

 

As she wrapped her fingers around his width, she observed his smooth pink head and throbbing veins and her mouth watered. The man was a feast, and she was about to taste all of him.

 

She started stroking him slowly, making him shudder with pleasure and releasing pre-cum that she smeared over his tip. While doing so, she peered up at him with such a mischievous glint he almost blushed. Had he even wanted to, it was impossible for him to tear his eyes off what she was about to do.

 

She gave a tentative lick on his tip and Kylo’s mind went blank. She lifted his shaft to her mouth and slid her tongue down his length, before sliding him inside her mouth and clasping her lips around him.

 

He whined. He actually whined.

 

She started to suck his cock up and down and his spine gave in as his head rolled back, his curls forming a wild, black halo. The way her tongue teased his slit and her delicate mouth locked onto his cock, squeezing him up and down, was simply mind-blowing. He had failed brilliantly at imagining how good this would feel and his wildest imaginations had been strikingly lacking next to the real thing.

 

He shifted his head forward, not wanting to miss one ounce of the visual aspect of Rey’s mouth on him. Her hands gripped both sides of his hips, and her cheeks hollowed as she swallowed his throbbing cock over and over again, making soft pleasurable humming sounds, which showed she was enjoying every inch of him.

 

It was so good. He bared his teeth and growled in the back of his throat.

 

She didn’t know really how to do this, but she let his reactions guide her through their bond. Observing the expression on his face, he didn't seem like he was about to complain. She rolled her tongue around his hard, salty manhood, and then, sensing he needed more of a stimulation, she took him deeper, and as a result, his cock bumped at the back of her throat. 

 

His eyelids clenched under the incredible feeling.

 

“Fuck, Rey…” he hissed in delight as she continued to work on him. He couldn’t resist it. He rocked his hips a bit and slid a hand in her chestnut hair, pushing her gently her toward him, encouraging her so she wouldn’t stop.

 

But he was big, and his cock hit her throat a bit too hard, making her gag slightly.

 

Instinctively, he released her hair, but she didn’t stop. Instead, she grabbed his shaft and started stroking it as she continued to wrap her lips around him. Once, she’d overcome her prudishness and, out of curiosity, she’d seen this on some holos, wondering how you ever did such a thing. But sucking him proved to be harder than expected -  she didn’t know really how to stroke and suck at the same time. As she peeked up at him, he seemed to be in such ecstasy she was sure she must be doing at least part of it right. 

 

Quite on the contrary, his pleasure was so intense he looked as if he were in pain. His lips were parted opened, panting as his gaze was locked down while he watched her pleasure him. She felt his desire escalate as she continued her attentions, her hand working on his length while her tongue rolled and sucked on his delicious cock.

 

She never thought she would love taking him in her mouth so much. He tasted salty, his skin was soft as velvet and she loved it. She felt powerful when hearing his increasing whimpers as she sucked on him harder. She felt as if she had been set on fire. Her core was wet and tingling as she felt his pleasure as if it were her own.

 

She started sucking on him faster, wanting to bring him to climax.

 

Kylo cursed inwardly. It was too good. His whole body shivered. His jaw clenched hard. He was about to come.

 

He grabbed her hair and pulled out of her mouth and she stifled a scream of protest.

 

“Why - ?” she inquired breathlessly, her moistened lips full of his juices.

 

His chest heaved and he winced as if pulling out had been torture. “I don’t want to come in your mouth…” he answered, out of breath.

 

“Why not?” she blurted incredulously. Kylo’s eyes rounded and he gulped.

 

Before every nerve in his body urged him to thrust himself into her mouth again, he pushed her down on the bed and hovered over her. He kissed her fervently, tasting his liquids in her mouth.

 

“Because I want you to come around my cock,” he whispered with such heated hunger in her ear that Rey’s insides throbbed with anticipation. 

 

He tugged her breast band down in the middle of her linens and cupped her breast, running his fingers over her pebbled nipples. He licked her earlobes and neck with his hot tongue.

 

She tilted her head backward on the mattress for him to reach all her most sensitive parts, and faint, low moans came from her throat. He suckled on one breast as his hand rubbed and played with the other.

 

Then, he reached down, took her boots off and tugged off her leggings and panties, sliding them down her long, smooth legs and leaving her linens on. He grabbed her hips and pulled her on the edge of the bed, kneeling before her like a Knight before his Queen.

 

He spread her legs and proceeded to nibble and lick on the inside of her thighs toward her center. Then he stared at her pink, wet flesh. He looked upon her as if he'd found the answers to the universe's deepest mysteries. Rey straightened up on her elbows, granting her a perfect view of what he was about to do. He licked his lips as if he was about to eat his last meal, and raised his fingers to brush her folds.

 

He smirked. “You’re soaked,” he murmured, peeking up at her. “I take it you liked sucking my cock?” he asked devilishly and her cheeks turned slightly pink.

 

She took the bait.

 

No, she raised him.

 

“Yes... and next time, I want you to come in my mouth,” she answered, eyeing him brazenly, while she bit her bottom lips.

 

Kylo blinked and his cock jerked upwards uncontrollably. What in the name of the Force had gotten into her? He’d never felt so much unabashed lust coming from her.

 

At her words, his eyes seem to morph into burning charcoals. Without his gaze ever leaving hers, he leaned forward for his lips to find the apex of her thighs and he ran his tongue along her drenched folds with a long, slow lick. Rey’s lips parted and she moaned, boring her irises into his dark lusty ones.

 

He squeezed her ass tight and moved her hips up to his mouth while his tongue made gentle, slow trails up and down her flesh. It was as if her nerves had been skinned bare and she felt electric shocks down her spine, making her body tremble with need.

 

He spread her folds with his fingers, burying his tongue inside her and she couldn’t help but press down into him while he groaned into her pussy, the vibrating sound making her dizzy with pleasure and ache for more. She threw her head backward, inhaling sharply and whimpering while she spread her legs wider. When he inserted a digit inside her and then a second one, opening her a bit more, she reached out for his hair, pulling and scratching his scalp with every slow motion of his fingers, while her walls clenched around him, her wetness soaking his hands.

 

He retrieved his fingers to plunge his tongue inside her core, over and over again, while his nose nuzzled into her clit. He lapped and swallowed all of her slickness with sinful sounds. It felt so amazing she instinctively moved her hips rhythmically over his tongue, pleasuring herself while whimpers erupted from her throat.

 

“Fuck, I love to have you for breakfast, you taste so good,” he whispered obscenely, giving her a respite as he peered at her flushed face, his lips slick with her arousal.

 

He continued licking her up and down; his tongue circled and curled around her folds mercilessly…and he was slow. And that slight detail was driving her completely insane. His jaw worked steadily upon her pussy, his stubble grazing her bundle of nerves. He suckled longly on her clit, making her gasp for air and shiver uncontrollably.

 

“Oh yes, I love that,” she urged hotly, eyelids closed.

 

But just as Rey thought it couldn’t get any better, she opened her eyes and saw his arm reach down between his legs but she couldn’t see below. His muscular bicep started moving and she felt a rush of pleasure coming from him. She struggled to utter a word, swallowing hard since he was now teasing and playing with her bud.

 

“Ar-are you touching yourself?” she dared to ask, eyeing his pink tongue move lazily over her core.

 

He peeked at her and released her clit with a smacking sound.

 

“Yes. You make me so hard," he answered truthfully and stroke himself faster now, his burning obsidian irises watching her from between her thighs. 

 

Force sake.

 

She bit her lips. "I want you inside me," she begged helplessly but he had returned his attention to her pussy, running his tongue nice and slow over it, and the energy was starting to bundle and gather so much she didn't know how she would last.

 

Please,” she entailed. “I want you.”

 

Upon hearing her, he stopped and rose a bit, only to grab her hips and shift her over on her stomach as if she were only a feather.

 

“Get on your hands and knees,” he ordered her with a low, feral voice.

 

She never took orders from anyone. But this time, she obeyed so promptly that Kylo raised an incredulous eyebrow. They'd never tried this position before and her whole body was trembling with eagerness. She could tell that he liked it best when he could he see her every reaction of what he was doing to her. His lovemaking was often gentle and caring, but today, lust was consuming both of them, and she'd never wanted him so much.

 

However, instead of straightening, Kylo cupped her ass with both hands and buried his lips and mouth into her folds again and Rey gasped out loud. He’d never tasted her in this position before. His short beard now rubbed against her clit and the sensation was so sharp she couldn’t prevent herself from huffing hard. He spread out his tongue out and trailed her pussy and ass completely, discovering her everywhere. In this position, Rey felt she was at his mercy, but she soon found out she actually adored the feeling of abandoning herself to his wildest desires.

 

But kriff, if he continued, she was simply going to come onto his face. 

 

As if he’s sensed this, he finally rose to his feet and positioned himself behind her. She peeked behind, watching him as he wiped his mouth and jaw and grabbed his stiff cock.

 

Oh yes, please…she prayed silently. He was finally going to enter her and she bit her lip expectantly.

 

Only, she hadn’t counted on him deciding to make the fun last.

 

He rubbed and wetted himself over her folds, and just entered the tip of his cock before retrieving it in a slow, languorous motion. He repeated the gesture once, twice and Rey felt she was about to burst in agony. Every atom in her body was screaming for his cock.

 

On the third time, she exploded.

 

“S-stop teasing me and just fuck me, Kylo!” she yelped in frustration, exhaling the air she’d been keeping in her lungs.

 

Kylo froze, stunned at the use of the name.

 

“Kylo…?” he inquired, dumbfounded.

 

Rey swallowed and panted in frustration, “Yes, I-I want you so bad… I want you to show me the Dark Side. I want you to unleash the darkness inside you…When you’re inside me, I can experience everything within you...like if we were only One,” she explained “Please…” she begged shamelessly.

 

“So…you want Kylo to do this?” he asked, seeking confirmation.

 

“Yes…” she flushed red under his scrutinizing gaze.

 

“Are…are you sure about this?” he still couldn’t believe it. That’s why she’d been so…provocative. She wanted to unleash something inside him. Something he’d pointedly kept at bay until now whenever he’d made love to her. Now he understood. By channeling her own desperate lust, she wanted to tap into his darkness, it was a way to accept it inside her, accept him inside her. His Dark Side persona. She was asking for his help…and the way she was doing it made his head spin.

 

“Yes, just…give it to me,” she pleaded while the last remains of her prudishness vanished into oblivion.

 

Kylo realized she didn’t want their daily love-making. She wanted it hard and rough - she wanted him to fuck her -  and the very thought turned his cock into steel.  

 

He groaned as he pressed the upper part of her back down, arching her whole chest to the mattress as he still towered over the edge of the bed, giving him the perfect view of her pink, drenched pussy waiting for him. The fact she still had her linens on was the cherry on the top.

 

He angled his hips behind her and filled her with one, long deep thrust, until his hilt almost hit her ass, and Rey cried out in a delightful bliss, “Yes, fuck, yes…” she exhaled, pushing herself backward for more of him, more friction, more of everything. It felt so incredible that Kylo muttered a curse. 

 

He grabbed and lifted her buttocks and sank into her repeatedly, the angle stretching her impossibly tight and moist core. Her damp, plush walls welcomed him while she panted and trembled with every one of his thrusts.

 

“Fuck Rey, you feel so fucking good,” he groaned, sliding into her.

 

Force, she’d had glimpses of his tendency for dirty talks before. And today, oh, she was ready for all of it. There was something in the way he talked so filthy to her that turned her on even more.

 

“You like my cock, don’t you?” he taunted teasingly while he changed his pace now, and pushed in and out of her excruciatingly slow.

 

Hearing the smirk in his voice made her skin tingle.

 

Kriff, yes, you’re so thick,” she huffed back, “please, give it to me faster,”

 

Kylo grinned as sweat was starting to come down his forehead. He squeezed both her buttocks now and plunged again into her core, moving a bit more quickly now while pulling her hips along with his movement and hitting all the perfect spots. Rey’s eyes shut as she started to feel her wetness drip down her thighs.

 

He stopped thrusting and, never leaving her pussy, he climbed onto the bed behind her, pushing her forward a bit.

 

Then, he bent down over her, spooning her with his heat. He drew a line over her spine with his tongue, tasting her sweat, and slipped his arms around her chest before he grabbed her breasts between her linens, playing with them. Soon, he pulled her up toward his chest and their bodies locked as her back melted into his rock-hard torso.

 

While still inside her, he massaged and rubbed her breasts, pinching her nipples while his hot breathing was in her hair, smelling and taking her aroused scent in. He lifted a hand to cup her chin backward and he brushed her damp hair to the side. She closed her eyelids and tilted her head in delight, granting Kylo to lick her neck and nibble on her earlobe as he wished.

 

“You’re mine,” he whispered in her ear, “Say it …say your mine,” he commanded, while he locked a possessive hand around her neck and another around her breast, and the manly vibration of his voice made Rey feel utterly intoxicated.

 

“Yes…yes, I’m yours, just take me,” she managed to moan back as she arched her body and he thrusted deep and slow into her again, making her pant. “I don’t want you to do this with anyone else,” she added full of possessiveness, and Kylo purred.

 

He was an addiction. Her addiction. If this was the Dark Side, then so be it.

 

Her craving for him awoke the darkest, most animalistic desires in Kylo. 

 

He curled his fingers around her chin, turning her head over so she would face him, and she opened her eyes to meet his magnetic dark ones. He grabbed her lips into a greedy, heated kiss and she slid a hand into his curls, bringing him closer. Then, released her lips and pushed her upper back onto the mattress again, brushing her linens out of the way. She fell on her elbows and he drove himself into her again before he spanked her ass.

 

Rey mewled under him, the gesture so primal it gave her goosebumps. She felt the Dark Side rising within him like a threatening cloud ready to burst.

 

The Millennium Falcon was starting to shudder under them as if suddenly awoken by his Force powers.

 

“Touch yourself, my dirty Jedi girl,” he ordered her in a low, savage tone.

 

Rey hesitated, puffing hard with while his thick flesh kept satisfying her core and he caressed the freckles on her ass avidly. 

 

“Do it, touch yourself while I feed that hungry pussy of yours,” he said as he tightened his fingers over her waist now and angled himself from above a bit more, driving relentlessly in and out of her dripping folds. “I’m going to fill you with so much cum.” In his voice, there was uncontrolled lust.

 

“Oh yes, please, just…- fill me," she begged in a euphoric huff.

 

Suddenly, it hit her. All his darkest feelings and emotions poured into her at once. Greed, possession, jealousy…It was as if the seven sins had taken possession of her fucking mind. It was a feeling of power and thirst for more...for power, for domination, and she felt her veins boil and burn with untamed desire.

 

She was starving for him.

 

She slid a hand between her legs and rubbed her fingers on her swollen, dripping clit. 

 

Kylo felt it immediately. “That’s right, pleasure yourself while your pussy swallows my cock,” he said eagerly, watching his throbbing manhood dive impatiently inside and outside of her, slick and shiny with her juices. He’d never felt so aroused and lustful in his entire life. He unleashed his raw maleness onto her in such fashion that Rey couldn’t help but cry out in blissful moans. 

 

The Falcon went wild with their intense love-making. The lights started to flash and commands to work up and down, triggered by the two force users. The whole ship moved as if Kylo’s rocking into her also moved the entire ship.

 

He slid his hand into her damp hair, grasping it and pulling it toward him, making her back arch just a little and her linens fall off her shoulder, the position making her slippery walls tightened around his cock and he stretched her in utmost perfection.

 

“Fuck, your pussy’s so tight and wet. Just for me,” he panted possessively.

 

“Your cock is so good - I love when you fuck me,” she implored, moaning beneath him, drowning in their shared lust.

 

“Oh yes, you like it, my dirty girl...take it - take all of it in,” he hissed heatedly, giving her everything she wanted.

 

Rey bit her bottom lips, unable to utter another word under his mind-wrecking ministrations.

 

Suddenly they heard a loud crack and the ship shifted to the side. They heard Chewie growl in indignation and protest and then, he banged furiously on the door, but neither of them cared to stop, and they accommodated themselves a bit to the new angle of the bed.

 

She whimpered and moaned loudly, her mouth irrevocably locked in an o-shaped as he continued to fuck every cell of her body. Between her fingering and feeling his flesh smacking into her, her pleasure was so intense, so wild, it was becoming painful to bear, and tears of delight formed in the corner of her eyes. Her muscles squeezed and clenched around his length, welcoming all of him inside her. Welcoming his darkness.

 

Now she understood why the Jedi order disapproved of sex - it was dark, raw and all-consuming. And she wanted all of it. She surrendered to Kylo completely, she surrendered to the Dark Side like she never thought she could surrender and welcomed the darkness inside herself. She was almost there. A desperate need rushed in her blood.

 

Kylo sensed it; he let go of her hair and bent his torso over her. “A-are you going to be a…g-good girl and come for me?” he stuttered with a hot breath in her ear, barely capable of speaking while sweat dripped along his back and his black curls were drenched with perspiration. Truth was, Rey was giving the mighty Kylo Ren the sweat of his life.

 

“It - de-pends” she managed to tease.

 

“On - what?” he asked, half choking on his words, filling her over and over.

 

“On - if - you fuck me harder and faster,” she panted challengingly, tapping fully into darkness now, one hand on her clit while the other dug into the mattress.

 

Oh fuck.

 

He obeyed her command immediately. He straightened himself a bit and the hollow of his hips slammed into the curve of her round ass, fusing them together. He grabbed the edge of her hips impossibly tight with both hands and he pounded into her soaked folds with hard thrusts, their sweaty skins slapping together making the most obscene sounds. The mood lightning and all the lights flashed on and off, the cabinets and drawers of the ship flickered, opened and closed in a frenzy and soon, the alarms went berserk. The whole ship shook as if an earthquake had hit the island. But Kylo paid no attention and continued to ravage her senseless until her body shivered uncontrollably and a wild, intense energy rose and balled up from depths of her insides. 

 

At last, his cock hit the perfect spot countless times, and tsunami waves broke the barriers and burst freely -

 

- and Rey saw stars. White light flashed before her sight as he pushed her into an abyss of mindblowing ecstasy she didn’t know even existed.

 

“Yes! Yes! Kylo!” she cried out blissfully, her screams rocking out the whole neighborhood while floods of pleasure washed over her and her entire being practically convulsed in his hands. Hearing her yelling that name triggered Kylo's own powerful climax. His black locks spun backward and his whole body withered and jerked with electric jolts as he ground his hips and buried himself deep inside her, grunting like a wild animal when thick ropes of milk spilled out of him, coating her womb.

 

He was still inside her, riding out the final waves of his orgasm when they heard a loud crack and the Falcon sank down but then steadied itself-  and both of them jumped. Neither of them realized that their combined power as they merged together in the Dark Side actually cracked open the whole ground under the ship. 

 

Kylo collapsed onto Rey’s back, trying to catch his racing pulse and frantic breath. He was so exhausted he could barely move. They were both gasping for air. When he finally pulled out of her, she didn’t even care if his liquids spurred all over the place. She knew only one thing: there was no way she was going to walk correctly after this. Kylo rolled next to her on his back, brushing the sweat of his flushed face. Still on her stomach, she peered at him, still heaving hard and their tired but satisfied gazes met. 

 

"I-I hope we didn't wreck the ship..." she managed to stutter between two breaths.

 

“She’ll be fine…” he puffed, “but kriff, next time, please warn me when you need this type of lesson,” he grinned breathlessly.

 

She chuckled.

 

“It was worth it, teacher. I felt it, I felt you inside me,” she said softly now.

 

They both blinked at how ridiculous that sounded after how much he’d smashed into her. Kylo snorted.

 

She hit his chest “your darkness, you big moofmilker!” she laughed.

 

And then, her world shattered.

 

Kylo smiled at her. Wide and beautiful. Bright and light like a half-moon shining in a pitch-dark sky.

 

Her heart leapt. She felt butterflies flutter in her stomach.

 

Upon seeing her astounded face, his smile faltered and he quirked an eyebrow. “What is it?”

 

She returned his smile. “Nothing. I’m just…looking at you,” she answered warmly and trailed a finger on the outline of his sweaty jaw.

 

“I felt it too,” he acknowledged, now more seriously. “Kriff, what got into you?”

 

Rey contemplated her lover. “I had a nightmare,” she started. “In which you abandoned me here, alone. You said any woman would be better than me. That I was nothing to you. I woke up as if it had really happened and then…I found you here…” her voice trailed off.

 

“Rey, you know none of that is true,” he comforted her with affection in his irises.

 

He observed her carefully and decided it was the moment to tell her what had happened.

 

“Luke was here,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant and failing miserably.

 

Rey's eyes widened a big as Star Destroyers. She jolted upward on her elbows. "What?! Now you tell me?”

 

“I…didn’t want to break the moment. Our moment,” he replied kindly, raising a hand to play with one of her locks while his other arms settled behind his head.

 

Oh.

 

Fair enough.

 

“What happened? Did…did you fight?” she asked quickly, curiosity and apprehension now skyrocketing.

 

He pondered his answer for a short moment and then, he told her everything. How Luke had appeared before him, frightening him. How he used the metaphor to explain what truly happened the night the Temple was destroyed. He also decided to tell her what happened with Chewie. Kylo watched her reactions closely but she only drank in his words in solemn silence.

 

When he finished, she was speechless for a lump in her throat prevented her from speaking. She knew exactly what it meant. What it meant for him, for Luke and for Chewie.

 

She tried to rein her churning emotions. “I’ve never seen such repentance in a human being before meeting Luke. His gaze filled with tears whenever he mentioned you,” she finally managed to explain.

 

Kylo stayed stubbornly silent but his flickering, glassy irises mirrored his confused thoughts.

 

She leaned into him, a hand soon caressing his solid chest and she traced his scar up to his face.

 

She caught his eyes, asking for his full attention. “I’m so proud of you. I’m sorry I called you a coward,” she said truthfully and full of guilt now. Then, she hesitated for a split second, before gathering her courage.

 

“I love you.”

 

The Galaxy came to a sudden stop.

 

Kylo stared at her, lips parted, utterly stunned.

 

He fell silent, and the only thing he heard was his heart. How could three single words make his chest hammer so frantically?

 

He blinked and try to voice something out but words died on his tongue; he chewed on the inside of his mouth.

 

“Rey, I -“ he started but she put a finger over his lips, “Shhh”, she hushed him silent. She saw his confusion but also the adoration in his expression. “You don’t need to say anything.”

 

But he did - he wanted to. She had earned it. “Rey, I’m so lost - about everything. I realized yesterday that…I mean, I told you, already...I don’t know how to love, I’m so confused,” he eyed her painfully and swallowed. “But I feel so much for you. I’m terrified of losing you,” he confessed with naked honesty.

 

Rey could have drowned in the intensity of his feelings. She watched him warmly. “I can help you. You and Kylo.”

 

That’s when Kylo knew. She had accepted him. Him, and the darkness that was part of his being and existence, tied to him by destiny.

 

She melted under the tender gaze he gave her back. He lunged forward and pressed her lips to hers in an ardent kiss, letting all his true, unspeakable feelings flow through their bond and silently saying ‘thank you.’

 

I love you. All of you. The light and the dark. Ben and Kylo, she confessed to herself as she returned his kiss fervently.

 

She’d never felt such peace.

 

At that very moment, the Force whispered to her. The magical music of the universe came rushing in her ears. It murmured and sang around them and tickled her hearing.

 

She broke the kiss, eyes wide in sudden realization. She bolted upward, ignoring Kylo’s incredulous look as she scanned the bedroom. 

 

It could only mean one thing.

 

That’s when she saw it. It was there.

 

At last.

 

The Third Door had opened.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Rey stared at the door as if Unkar Plutt had suddenly given her a lifetime of portions on Jakku.

 

“I can’t believe it! It opened!” she exclaimed eagerly, jumping to her feet. Never mind the fact she had some difficulties walking straight.

 

Kylo watched her, startled. “What?”

 

She gave him such a confused expression that he blinked and actually found himself repeating the question. “What is it, Rey?”

 

“Y-you can’t see it?” she inquired, baffled.

 

Kylo glanced around the room searchingly. “Well…I know the ship moved a lot but…”

 

“Ben, the Third Door… it’s there! It’s open!” she cried out, pointing at the metal structure.

 

Kylo’s face drew a deep, angular frown. Straightening himself, he sat on the edge of the bed and looked where Rey was pointing. “I don’t see anything.”

 

Rey’s brow furrowed and her eyelashes fluttered repeatedly as if she were trying to solve a complicated mechanical problem. After a few seconds had passed, an idea came to her and she spoke with new found determination. 

 

“Get dressed, quick,” she commanded, while she hastily slid her breast band back up between her linens and reached for her discarded leggings and boots. Seeing Kylo wasn’t moving and instead was just gaping at her, she hurried him. “Come on. I’m not joking, get dressed!”

 

Abandoning all hope of understanding anything, he obeyed and reached for his balled-up tunic.

 

Rey kept peering at the door every few seconds to make sure it hadn’t disappeared. Soft, low voices kept calling for her from behind it - the Force beckoning her to enter.

 

At last, Kylo was ready. He came to stand next to her, his mind racing. She obviously was perceiving something he didn’t sense, and he had no clue what to make of it.

 

“Ben, look at me,” Rey stated, asking for his attention. Kylo turned to face her. “Do you trust me?”

 

“Yes, I do,” he replied solemnly. In his voice, there was no shred of doubt.

 

“Pray this works…I’m not going in without you,” she stated cryptically and raised her bare hand, offering it to him and frowning in concentration.

 

Kylo took her long slim fingers into his thick ones.

 

As their hands met, a gust of wind sprang up, swirling around them and whipping their hair.  Now, Kylo actually saw a yellow glow emanating from their hands and illuminating their faces. Threads of golden light slowly spiraled around their wrists - scratch that, physically binding their hands together as if a magical spell had been cast upon them. Kylo’s lips parted in awe as he watched the golden threads twine around them. It was beautiful and surreal. At last, the wind receded, leaving the yellowish glowing strings circling both of them.

 

“This is the Bond, Ben…” whispered Rey. “Our Bond.” She paused, visibly shaken by emotion. “When we touch, we can feel one another…like earlier. Now you can feel what lives inside me, see what I see. This is how you can come through the Door with me,” she explained, shifting toward the Falcon’s crew quarters’ door once more, where the Third Door appeared.

 

Kylo glanced at the spot where she was looking, and his jaw dropped to the floor.

 

The Door was encased within the Falcon's structure as if someone had simply replaced the crew quarters' door with another wooden one. What kind of Force enchantment was this? It seemed very ancient, made of dark wood, with missing chunks here and there. Its bronze metal knob was encrusted with small elegant blue sapphire stones.

 

Hands clasped together, they approached carefully and stood before it.

 

Rey noticed it was the Door which had appeared in the second vision, for it bore the inscription she’d previously seen. It was the golden engraving written in hieroglyphic signs, the same as the inscription in the stone back in the Temple.

 

 

I OPEN IN THE BLOOM OF HARMONY

 

 

Indeed, she had felt it. The inner peace that came with the balancing of both sides of the Force. The equilibrium within herself. Perfect harmony.

 

She trailed a finger on the gilt inscription, and, without warning, the Door opened.

 

It revealed a dark void.

 

Kylo was utterly astonished by what he was witnessing. His heart hammered so hard it rang in his ears at this utterly new and unforeseen experience.

 

“Together?” she inquired expectantly.

 

“Together,” he replied, his stare blazing into her irises. Rey shivered. In the deep timbre of his voice, she could sense the stirrings of a promise, an unbreakable vow for the future, mending old, deep wounds still chiseled within her soul. 

 

She smiled at him and took a deep breath.

 

“Here we go…”

 

They both stepped through the Door into the blackness.

 

Kylo almost flinched at the consistency of the…what was it? Soil? Ground? It was spongy, and it sank under their feet as if they were walking through clouds.

 

The Door closed behind them, leaving them in complete obscurity except for the golden filaments binding their hands together, which reflected dimly and outlined their features.

 

“Let’s walk,” encouraged Rey.

 

He followed her cautiously as she led him through the misty dark void.

 

A soft, orange light appeared on the distant horizon. “There,” she pointed, and they walked toward it for what seemed like a very long time. 

 

The closer they got to the place, the more their eyebrows curved like rainbows.

 

It was the Jedi Temple.

 

Only, it was slightly different. There was no mosaic or circular lines and patterns carved into the stone floor. However, the structure itself was unchanged, and fading sunlight was pouring in from the rooftop and the opening of the natural Sanctuary.  

 

Two people were in the center of the Temple. A man in a meditative pose and a woman sitting across from him on the grey granite ground. The man’s skin was dark, toasted by the sun, and his long black hair was shaved on the sides and drawn up in a big monk-like bun over his head. Two long, pearl-shaped black wooden earrings swung on both sides of his face. The woman, in contrast, was fair skinned, with distinctive freckles. Her reddish-chestnut straight hair was gathered in two buns, similar to the man’s but smaller on the sides. She wore similar earrings as the man, but hers were green. Both were dressed in large, symmetrical-collared old-fashioned Jedi robes and were concentrating in what seemed to be intense meditation, eyelids tightly shut, beads of sweat dotting their foreheads. The man was wielding what resembled an ancient type of white lightsaber before him, the buzzing sound of the blade humming throughout the Temple’s structure.

 

Kylo focused on the man. He bent down to whisper in Rey’s ear. “What is this? He looks like the Prime Jedi.”

 

Rey hushed him. “The Force is showing us something. This must be of a remote past. He does look like the mosaic on the Jedi Temple. We can’t interact…this is like living inside someone’s memory…” she explained before exclaiming loudly, “Wait, look!”

 

The unknown man lifted his head, eyelids still closed. He turned the lightsaber off, chest heaving wildly as if he’d achieved something incredibly difficult. His eyes opened.

 

Those eyes.

 

Something clicked in Rey’s mind. Her heart skipped a beat. She swiftly turned to watch Kylo who was utterly stupefied.

 

He’d seen it too.

 

“Ben, those eyes…that’s…that’s…” she stammered, “you!” she managed to articulate, despite her own shock.

 

At the same moment, the red-haired woman’s eyelashes flickered opened to face her companion, and Rey had to stifle a cry and clasp a hand over her mouth.

 

Those eyes were hers. The same almond-shaped hazel ones she’d seen countless times in the mirror.

 

A distant voice flashed in her mind.

 

If you live long enough, you see the same eyes in different people.

 

Maz. The thousand-year-old elder had spoken those words, knowingly. Rey shivered from head to toe. The mind-blowing truth poured into her soul as if someone had suddenly turned on the light in an obscure chamber.

 

Those two people…were her and Ben! Years - ages ago. In the First Jedi Temple.

 

She turned to Kylo, who was speechless, his jaw slack. He glanced at Rey’s eyes and then back to the woman’s.

 

Kylo’s heart was like racing Fathiers.

 

It can’t be. That’s just impossible...

 

But before his brain could search for the beginning of an explanation, the woman spoke in a soft but worried voice.   

 

“The effort to hold both sides within your soul is slowly killing you, Nimaj’neb, but achieving it you are.”

 

“Dividing the Force in two has taken all my energy. I’m struggling to support both sides, the Light and the Darkness. But it is too late to turn back, Ari’k,” said the man in a strained, raspy voice.

 

“The Light side calls to me. It’s there; I can feel it, warm and soft,” said the young woman, lifting her chin up to the sunlight.

 

“Yes…But you are angry with me for this,” he said with concern. There was hurt and pain as well as love and adoration in his voice.

 

Ari’k looked aside, as if ashamed. “This means I have to renounce you…and your love. For the greater good,” she told him sadly.

 

“Yes. This is my sacrifice for the higher purpose. You know the Force itself commands this. You see now, as I do, that Light and Darkness are true teachers, that they allow us to grow and evolve as Force wielders,” the young man explained.

 

“I know. The two sides of the Force are so powerful. Darkness scares me. But the Force is now off balance because of this - I still wonder why the Force wills itself to be split in two.” She shook her head with a look of complete incomprehension.

 

There was a pause while the man pondered his answer.

 

“For us, the Jedi, to evolve, we must make errors and take the challenges offered by the two sides and learn from them. If one is always in perfect balance, how can one truly learn and grow? I sense that a time will come when the Force will need to be One again because the Jedi will finally wholly understand the teachings of both sides within themselves. When that time comes, we will need to reunite the two sides of the Force again, by balancing it within our souls with our own strength and understanding. Balance will have to be achieved and not given, as it is now,” he emphasized, casting light upon the mystery.

 

“So, it all comes down to learning and experience. It’s about Wisdom…and, you and I, we represent the two sides…” Ari’k’s voice trailed off in wonder and awe.

 

“I believe so,” he smiled earnestly. “Now you see how much Darkness lives inside me. And how much I struggle against it. Without you and your immense Light living there inside you without you even knowing about it, it would have been impossible for me to split the Force. Without you, I could never have achieved the Sacred Division, nor could I hold the two splintered sides in my soul without all your support and love,” Nimaj’neb added warmly to her.

 

She offered a sad smile, which betrayed how much she truly held him in her heart, and then, she swallowed. “Yes…but I’ll be left behind with your legacy to sustain, alone…without you,” she lamented, her voice shaking with emotion. 

 

“The Jedi Order must carry on. This is essential, Ari’k. You are responsible, as am I, for this. The Sacred Tree needs to be planted to balance the Force within this island, for the Temple to know powerful Light and powerful Darkness. The caretakers will help you with the task,” he reminded encouragingly.

 

Ari’k peered at him, her expression full of sorrow. She stayed silent for a short moment, visibly heartbroken. “But, you are dying, sacrificing yourself…”

 

Nimaj’neb cut in. “Don’t be sad. I am struggling. I will welcome death with open arms and become one with the Force. You know as well as I do that it means we will meet again.”

 

With newfound confidence, Ari’k cast him a hopeful glance.

 

He then offered his hand to her. “We will always be together. My Ray of Light.”

 

Tears spilled on Ari’k’s cheeks, but a smile slowly graced her beautiful face. She gently raised her fingers to rest them inside his open, broad palm.

 

A great wind sprang up around them, lifting tendrils of their hair and drying the tears on their cheeks. Royal-yellow threads wrapped around Ari’k and Nimaj’neb’s joined hands, binding them together.

 

Kylo and Rey were completely stunned. They contemplated the scene, looking down at their own entwined, glowing bound hands, in an eerie sense of deja-vu.  


The filaments between the man and woman’s hands grew like vines and spread throughout the whole Temple. Soon, the vines arose and reached Kylo and Rey, encircling them. Amazed, they glanced down. The threads entwining their hands glowed and twinkled. Soon, they felt an unmistakable pulse. A beat. Like an umbilical cord from a mother to her child.

 

They had witnessed the birth of their Bond.

 

They contemplated each other, standing in the stillness of the misty scenery. The velvety fading sunlight of the Jedi Temple, thousands of years ago, bathed their faces.

 

While twilight was setting on the horizon, the first beams of dawn illuminated a new life. Their life.

 

Understanding emerged like a solid figure from the fog, out of the Force’s deepest mysteries.

 

They contemplated each other as if the other had suddenly been unveiled in a new, miraculous light. 

 

Kylo was on the brink of tears.

 

He felt in his bones that it was true, all of it. Rey was his Other. His long-lost wife. Both of them reincarnated, together again. 

 

That was why he had dreamt of her, long before she had even been born. A woman had appeared in his dreams since he was a child: loving, caring, and beautiful. With a smile as bright as the Moonshine. As different dreams occurred over the years, she didn’t always have the same face, but he always knew she was the same person. That was why he had been so intrigued when he heard over and over about a girl. He had sensed it was something important - someone he had to seek out, by any means, no matter the consequences.

 

This explained everything.

 

“It is you,” whispered Kylo’s voice. He turned so they were facing each and other, gently cupping Rey’s cheek with his free hand. Kylo struggled to control his churning emotions. “I saw this woman in my dreams, just as I saw you so many times. And I saw her when I made love to you the first time. I - what-” he gasped, unable to finish his sentence, for the ground had opened underneath them.

 

The Temple scene vanished. They were free-falling into the void. They drifted around in circles, floating into emptiness, bound by their hands. They heard only the sound of their own breathing. The dark clouds welcomed them, caressing their skin and soothing them with their softness.

 

Suddenly they were sucked into a pitch-dark tunnel, and hectic, scattered images flashed before them. Of ancient times. Of unknown people. Of the Jedi Order. Of the Sith. Of the evolution of the Force. Thousands of years of history crystallized in their minds in an instant.

 

Eventually, they were released into emptiness again. It was impossible to tell top from bottom, north from south. Powerless to control their fall, they nonetheless welcomed the sensation; it was like floating in open space, and their breath steadied a bit. Before they knew it, they landed on the plush, misty soil once again.

 

Rey’s mind raced. If this vision was the same as the other two, something was about to happen.

 

And it did.

 

A cry echoed behind them. They stiffened. It was a baby’s cry. A new scene was displayed before them.

 

A woman in disheveled grey robes was holding a naked baby in a cream-colored hut. The walls were smooth and the sunlight so bright that it was an assault on their sight. It was scorching hot; the woman was drenched in sweat. She played with the baby - and Rey’s heart contracted. She was immediately reminded of her own mother - only this woman looked as if she actually cared about the child in her arms, who was now emitting faint mewls.

 

“Anakin…my little Ani, my miracle child…” she cooed at the baby, smiling at him and resting her head on his forehead.

 

Kylo froze instantly.

 

Anakin.

 

This was his grandfather.

 

Which meant - the woman was his great-grandmother. Kylo realized he didn’t know her name.

 

Out of nowhere, disembodied voices echoed loudly while the woman was still nursing the child.

 

There was no father.

 

He’s the Chosen one.

 

You were supposed to stop them, not join them!

 

He’s more machine than man now.

 

Anakin! No! screamed a woman’s voice from behind them, and Kylo shuddered at the sound of the distress in that voice. He shifted to see where the cry was coming from.

 

“Rey, look!” Kylo pulled Rey’s hand and she suddenly saw a woman dressed in white on an operation table. The young woman was sobbing while a droid was between her legs, which were hidden by a green metal structure. A blond-haired man with a beard stood next to the weeping lady who was now screaming in pain.

 

A medical droid retrieved a crying newborn from underneath the metal structure and presented it to the blond man, who carried it to his mother.

 

“Luke…” said the woman.

 

Kylo and Rey gasped at the same time, their hearts struck with realization. Kylo gawked at his grandmother, Padmé, giving birth to his uncle. She was beautiful. But in such pain. His mind raced. Where is my grandfather? Who is this man next to her?

 

Ghostly voices echoed again, reverberating loudly.

 

Luke, trust the Force!

 

He’s our only hope.

 

I’m a Jedi, like my father before me!

 

There is another…

 

“Ben…” another familiar voice intoned behind Kylo and Rey. They both turned around at the same time, recognizing immediately whose voice this was.

 

Leia.

 

Kylo’s heart skipped a beat. His mother appeared with a white bundle in her arms.  

 

Solid and clear, Han stood next to her, watching the boy. “My son…how the hell did that happen?” asked Han incredulously.

 

Leia smiled knowingly. She got to her feet. “I need a shower, dear. Hold him, will you?” Han took the baby awkwardly into his arms. While the princess retreated to the ‘fresher, the famous smuggler was left with chubby baby Ben with his tousled black hair. He gently put him in his cradle. Ben burbled. Han leaned forward, arms crossed on the rail, beaming at the child.

 

The ethereal voices continued to surround them.

 

There is still Light in him, I know it.

 

The potential of your Bloodline.

 

The First Order rose from the Dark side. You did not.

 

Darkness rises and Light to meet it.

 

“Hey, it’s you and me kid…all the damn galaxy against us,” Han told him in a soft tone while the other voices disappeared. There was a wide grin on his handsome face while he caressed his son’s red cheek.

 

Kylo remembered his father’s last gesture. The same he was witnessing now. His hand on his right cheek, just as he thrust his red, crossguard saber through him.

 

He willed his heart to stop hammering so much, but it refused to comply. Tears pricked him as he stared at the scene, speechless, his chest in hollow agony. Full-fledged merciless guilt now invaded his heart, nasty and implacable, as the truth finally broke upon him like a bursting rainstorm.

 

His father loved him.

 

Dad loved me.

 

His father’s last words resonated in his mind. “Come home, we miss you.”

 

“Dad…” whispered Kylo, as devastation enveloped him.

 

Rey looked at him with concern and gently squeezed his hand within hers, causing him to break free of his thoughts and look down at her. He blinked, and salty tears trailed down his cheeks and dripped from his jaw.

 

Rey turned to face him and wrapped both arms around the large span of his back, pulling him tight against her as Han and baby Ben disappeared to be replaced by the blackness of space once again.

 

Bending over, he embraced her firmly and buried his nose in the crook of her neck in the stillness.

 

There were no words to say. The only sounds were their labored breathing and his sniffling,  Kylo fought to compose himself as he let his Other mend the scattered pieces of his broken soul.

 

Why did the Force show me - show us - all this? He had so many questions…yet no answers.

 

He only felt excruciating pain.

 

The ground vanished under them and there were floating again, clinging to one another. The luminous threads of the bond sang and danced around them in a whirlwind, binding them through ages and time.

 

Eventually, their feet hit the squashy substance of the ground again. Rey saw the Door had opened once again and light was shining from the other side of the Veil.

 

It was time to go back.

 

“Ben,” she murmured, straightening herself as he lifted his head, towering over her. “We need to walk out of here. Come with me,” she invited gently, leading him by their clasped hands.

 

With his free hand, Kylo wiped the tears off his face as he followed her.

 

They came back into the Falcon through the Door, which disappeared as magically as it had appeared. At the same time, the golden strings which united them faded away, freeing their hands. But now Kylo sensed them, invisible but working their way through the wheeling mysteries of the mechanics of Time.

 

Kylo’s knees gave out. His back collapsed against the Falcon’s metal walls, and he sank to the ground. He exhaled, releasing the air he didn’t realize he was holding in his lungs.

 

Rey crouched before him. She was as shaken by the visions as he was, and her mind was racing to connect the dots, trying to make sense of everything they had just witnessed.

 

But how did it all fall into place?

 

Kylo shook his head in disbelief.

 

What...was that?”

 

Rey took a deep breath in, held it, and exhaled slowly, pondering her answer. “I don’t understand the second part of what was shown to us. But...I do think I understood part of the first.”

 

Kylo stayed silent, awaiting her explanation.

 

You are the Prime Jedi - reincarnated.”

 

Kylo rolled his eyes - he still couldn’t believe it. Reincarnation - Force sake, did that even exist? But still, he had witnessed it himself. There was no possible doubt, and, maybe worse, it actually made sense to him. Was he losing his mind?

 

“But it’s true. You saw it, as I did. Those two people in the Temple were us, a very long time ago,” she stressed, before continuing, “And then...your...past self...” she struggled to find a way to articulate this, “explained that the Force had to be divided, as you told me the other day. And this was to fully learn both sides’ teachings,” she recalled.

 

Kylo stared at the floor for a long moment, searching his inner feelings before he spoke.

 

“The Jedi always sought the Light, just as the Sith sought the Darkness. But the Sith came to an abrupt end when Vader killed the Emperor and died and now...Luke is gone. The Jedi are gone, but Light still exists. The Sith are gone, but Darkness remains. The Jedi feared Darkness as if it were sin. They refused to know it. So, I thought that there had to be a New Order, without the Jedi or the Sith, but a third path... Kriff! All this is very puzzling to me.”

 

Rey tilted her head. “‘Let the past die’...that’s what you told me. “Let it all die.’”

 

“Yes, I believed that was true,” Kylo sighed. “But my past has been catching up with me in the most...cruel ways.” He swallowed and bit his lips, recalling his father in the vision, and a lump formed in the back of his throat.

 

“But that doesn’t mean your initial intuition was wrong. There is...something. Maybe you sensed a truth. Something you have to do,” she stated, convinced that she was stressing a crucial point.   

 

The realization hit him - of what all this could truly mean. “You’re saying... what this man  - what I said-” he corrected himself, “about reuniting the Force...” He frowned, waiting for her to continue.

 

“Maybe...this is the right time for the Force to unite again. For you to do it. The third path you spoke about,” she suggested tentatively.

 

Me? Rey, how am I going to ever reunite the Force? I don’t even know how to reach harmony within myself!” he shouted in protest.

 

She ignored him and sat backward, her arms resting behind her on the Falcon’s cold floor.

 

“Trust me, I don’t know what to do with it either. And about the second part...all I know is that in the other two visions, the second part was always extremely relevant to the first. The Force was giving me an answer to the first part of the revelation. But here…” she trailed off, unable to resolve the enigmatic puzzle.

 

Kylo shook his head again. “I have no clue. I’m so confused.” He brought his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, resting his chin on his forearms as he recalled how he had witnessed his grandfather’s, his uncle’s, and his own birth. “All I know is that I saw my whole family in that vision. What is the Force trying to tell us?” he inquired, more to himself than anyone else.

 

A long sigh escaped him.

 

His heart was torn between the warm feeling of knowing that, through ages and times, Rey and he were truly meant for each other, a feeling of eternal belonging he had been seeking since he was a boy - and the new and heavy burden that now lay on his shoulders.

 

Earlier, as he crossed the Sacred threshold from the Third Door back into the Falcon, he sensed his life was changed, forever. He didn’t know why. He didn’t know how. All he knew was innocence had been buried deep, replaced by the chains and weight of experience. Light had unveiled the truth within the shadows in which he had retreated for so many years - fleeing his past, feeling his family, fleeing himself, in the walls of this life he had raised around him, bathed in a sea of blood and darkness.

 

It was all an illusion.

 

Stardust before the grand scheme of Destiny.

 

And Destiny had crawled into their lives in the most unexpected and unfathomable way.

 

Sensing his turmoil, Rey stood up and came to sit next to him against the steel wall. She slid an arm around his broad shoulders. She contemplated him in awe as if she’d found an ancient treasure.

 

Her long-lost lover. 

 

They found each other again and again, through the settings of the sun and eternal wars.

 

Returning to each other as fate had set their paths toward their other half, lost between the millions of stars in the wonders and vastness of the Galaxy.

 

Seeing herself with Ben, thousands of years ago, had been an epiphany. Now she understood her place. She had finally figured out why the Island had been so familiar, why she had seen the Force Tree in her dreams. She was truly the ‘Child of the Light,’ balancing Ben’s Darkness. He had fallen into it the day he was sent to Luke’s, being easy prey for Snoke, thus losing his way back to Harmony and Balance. She was meant to conquer it in order to guide him. The Force had willed her birth in order to fulfill her destiny: to love him and show him the way back.

 

She welcomed the Force’s wishes with the most powerful strength that love can bring to a heart: Trust.

 

In the Force. In herself. In Ben and his dark persona, Kylo Ren.

 

“I’m here. With you. We can do this, together,” she encouraged, grasping his bicep and gently shaking him out of his introspection.

 

Kylo remained silent. For so many years, he had carried Darkness within himself, with only two companions flanked at his side: pain and loneliness. But now, he looked at the woman next to him, mesmerized by her eyes; they were windows into her heart, mirrors reflecting the Light she embodied. The Light he had precisely tried to flee for so long. He realized how wrong he had been: she was the Lighthouse in his endless abyss of obscurity and solitude.

 

“You’re not alone. I’ve always been here...” Rey whispered tenderly.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

How exactly she’d ended up crushed against the Falcon’s walls with Ben’s tongue down her throat yet again was beyond Rey’s understanding. They’d been sitting on the crew quarter’s floor when Ben had literally attacked her with his plush mouth and now his body was half-spread over her legs, and he was cornering her against the wall.

 

Or was it because I told him I was always here?

 

In the wake of the Door's revelations and the ensuing confusion, Kylo launched onto her with such renewed ardor that Rey felt heat starting to pool once more in her lower stomach. His kiss was more passionate than ever as if the ultimate truth had unleashed something dormant within him.

 

Eventually, Kylo broke the kiss and his swollen spongy lips parted as he contemplated her flushed face.

 

“It was always you…all this time,” he whispered as if hypnotized.

 

His words churned within her and settled as realization made its way to her brain. 

 

Something between them had changed.

 

“Yes…” she mumbled under his stare, “I mean, I knew our bond was strong; I saw when it linked us in this life…but, I never could have imagined this,” she responded, straightening a bit while his powerful frame was still engulfing hers.

 

Upon hearing her, Kylo recalled the vision.

 

New questions stirred from the depths of the Force’s mysteries, and the fleeting answers seemed to be out his grasp. Who was he truly? His own identity seemed lost within the endless tunnels of space and time. In a certain way, he felt unbalanced, for his former ideals and goals as Kylo Ren, as well as the mission he had always considered for himself,  had been obliterated by what he learned beyond the Veil. He struggled to settle with the new feelings and thoughts running through him. Ones where he contemplated his ancient self, entrusted with a mission the Force had given him with all his might - a sacrifice. He’d sacrificed himself to serve a higher purpose - something the present Ben had never contemplated. It shed a new light on his present circumstances. And it frightened him.

 

There was still resistance in his mind; it struggled to accept this most unexpected evidence. Yet there was a solid rock in the middle of all the stirring waters. As his gaze lingered on the woman before him, certainty rose from within the deepest part of his soul. His beating heart left him with no doubt; it had always beaten only for her. Whether she morphed into a red-haired, fair-skinned woman or a fierce and spiteful chestnut haired girl with freckles on her bony cheeks. The immortal spark within her remained, although the chalice which held it transformed. As he supposed the same happened to him.

 

At last, he spoke the truth he had withheld for some time.

 

“I saw the woman from the vision, the night we made love for the first time,” he enlightened Rey. “When thunder struck outside, there was a flash of light, and…” his voice trailed off.

 

Her eyebrows quirked. “Déjà-vu?”

 

“It was the strangest feeling ever. But now it makes so much sense. Everything. I’ve had dreams of a woman since I was a child, as I dreamt of you so many times.” His felt his cheeks redden slightly under the confession. “You were always looking after me, beaming at me in the darkness of the nights. Always a Ray of Light.”

 

Rey’s throat constricted as Ben used Nimaj’neb’s words but, this time, it wasn’t because of pain. No, her heart swelled with happiness. How different to consider their lives as reincarnated lovers, desperately searching and reaching for their Other through dreams. How different to consider death now, knowing that whatever happened, they would find each other again, through the endless echoes of time. The idea was a small flame, secretly nested within her soul. It answered so many questions. It soothed deep-rooted fears. It brought hope.

 

A wide, white smile appeared on her face and Kylo knew he’d never get tired of seeing those bright teeth shining through her pink lips.

 

He let out a long sigh and raised his hand to play with a lock of her hair. His attitude was more serious now.

 

“There is something I need to do, Rey.”

 

“Tell me,” she entreated.

 

He paused as if choosing his words correctly.

 

“I’m confused about everything. But my senses tell me part of understanding who I really am and what all this means is to understand the second part of the vision. The woman in the medical block was my grandmother, giving birth to Luke. And there was another man there, but there was no sign of my grandfather.” Kylo’s eye twitched and he chewed on the inside of his lips. “I want to know the truth. I need to know.”

 

Rey considered him attentively. "I think that man was Master Obi-wan when he was young. I recognized him - although I cannot be completely certain."

 

Kylo’s eyes rounded. It was nor fear, nor shock. There was something else, simmering behind his chestnut brown irises. Incomprehension.

 

“But - why?” he asked hoarsely, stressing the question.

 

Rey shook her head slightly and shrugged. “You need to find out. It’s the only way,” she encouraged.

 

“I need to go to Naboo,” he declared bluntly.

 

Rey blinked.

 

“Naboo?” she spluttered in disbelief.

 

“Yes. My grandmother was Naboo’s Queen and Senator. That’s the only thing my mother ever told me about her. She wasn’t raised by my grandmother but by the Royal family of Alderaan - adopted by them. But how and why did my grandmother die?”

 

Rey was slightly awe-struck. She gaped at Ben and had a hard time voicing anything out. Thus, Kylo allowed himself to form the question which was remaining. “Will you come with me?”

 

It wasn’t an offer. It was a plea.

 

She took an instant to think of her answer, but it flashed clearly before her. She nodded.

 

“Yes. I want to help you. And now I’m curious too,” she answered honestly; then, adding with a teasing smirk, “so, you truly are a Prince, aren’t you?”  The temptation of taunting him about his upbringing was always stronger than her will to resist it.

 

Kylo’s eyes rolled. “I guess you could say so. The Prince and the Scavenger, how does that sound?” he quipped in retaliation while his lips twitched upward.

 

Rey’s mouth dropped. She scowled indignantly and her hand flew to smack his shoulder for good measure “Oh! You impossible -” she gave a second hit on his chest, for Kylo was now mocking her with a grin on his face “annoying -” and soon a third punch hit his abdomen just below his ribs  “moofmilker!”

 

Oh, the expression on her face was worth at least million credits.

 

Kylo always found an indescribable pleasure at teasing her - more so whenever she had this type of furious yet devastatingly sweet reaction. He shielded himself from her blows as she continued to assault him, although he was dangerously close to bursting because it actually tickled. Quite despite himself, he was soon openly laughing and Rey stopped breathing when she heard his low laugh. It was intoxicating.

 

Rey suddenly found herself wondering -- was he -?

 

She jumped onto him and tilted him backward until he crashed on the solid floor, causing his hair to spread around his face in a black halo. His wide, beautiful white smile contrasted with his dark locks but she didn’t have time to admire how handsome he looked - she straddled him and attacked him, tickling his ribs, his sides, and under his arms through the fabric of his tunic, and soon he was roaring with laughter and shamelessly pleading for mercy.

 

She couldn’t believe it. He was ticklish! How could this marble mountain ever be ticklish?

 

By the time she receded in her assault, Kylo was choking, begging her to stop and gasping for air. Rey’s smile was wider than ever. He blushed furiously. If there was something he’d always been ashamed of, it was how ticklish he could be. Although nobody had truly discovered his secret since he was always shielded under layers of thick clothes.

 

Rey gazed at him, as he shivered under her, exhaling sharply, his cheeks pink with both shame and chuckles. There was a part of her that asked how he could be such a contradiction. However, another thought came from the back of her mind, reminding her the marble mountain was also a touch-starved man. When did anybody ever touch and play with him like this before her? When did anyone tickle him and laugh as they were now? He was a lonely and wounded soul. The thoughts sent aching arrows to her heart.

 

“When was the last time you laughed like this?” she inquired, locking his wrists to the ground and beaming at him.

 

He rested his head back onto the floor, still catching his breath. His whole body was slowly recovering from the previous muscle tension.

 

“I can’t remember,” he answered between two breaths.

 

Rey’s eyebrow curved into a sorrowful expression. She bent over him to press her lips to his, covering his body like a small blanket as he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her toward him, deepening her kiss. His tongue sought hers eagerly again. The way she was trapped over him, her breast pressed against his chest and her hips rubbing against his crotch was giving him ideas once more.

 

Rey sensed it immediately and had to use all her willpower to free her mouth from his.

 

His confused expression betrayed he hadn’t imagined her actually stopping him.

 

“I- I think I should go take a shower…” she apologized, confused and flushed.

 

“Can I take a shower with you?” he asked hopefully.

 

She snorted. “There’s no way a giant tree like you can fit with me in that ridiculously tiny shower.”

 

Kylo grumbled. He was slightly taken aback, although he admitted his defeat. After all, he knew that shower was impossibly small but some nice hot water seemed like a marvelous horizon in his current state. He could use a proper cleaning and his hair was desperate for a good wash. “I’ll go after you,” he replied.

 

Rey rose to her feet and started rustling around in search for something while Kylo also stood up and aimed for the bed, crashing upon it as he waited. He was exhausted - it had already been such a roller coaster and he suddenly remembered he was starving. He made a mental note to seek food as soon as he came out of the shower.

 

Soon, Rey appeared from the drawers and handed him a fresh folded midnight blue towel with a wink, before she exited the crew quarters toward the ‘fresher.

 

All of a sudden, a roaring sound came from the corridors, causing Kylo to jerk upward in surprise and nearly hit his head on the bed's mood lighting. So much for being a big tree.

 

Chewie’s yowling continued while Rey was making a desperate attempt to calm him down.

 

“Chewie, no, it’s not like that!”

 

Kylo turned white when he understood what exactly the Wookie was yelling at her.

 

You were mating with him! Are you insane? What has gotten into you!

 

There were no words to describe how Rey looked - her whole demeanor was a mixture of terrible embarrassment and desire to defend herself. But she just let the Wookie reprimand her like a child while her head was bent down, cheeks red.

 

How can you even mate with this traitor! And worse, you two caused a literal earthquake! I've been trying to evaluate the damage done to the ship!

 

Then, Chewie’s blue irises darted toward the crew quarters and met Kylo’s, who swallowed heavily despite himself.

 

The Wookie roared at him even louder. Don't you dare touch her! You foul-!

 

“Chewie, that’s ENOUGH!”

 

Rey’s enraged voice tore the air like a knife, causing her furry friend to freeze on the spot.

 

“I know what I’m doing! He knows he’s done terrible things but he’s trying - and you should too! And I didn’t mate - I made love with him because I love him,” she asserted.

 

Kylo was stunned. He was transfixed, gaping at her; only his heart galloped at an impossible pace. She had just defended him - by professing her love for him, openly and without any trace of doubt or shame.

 

He suddenly felt so unworthy of her feelings. Hearing Chewie accuse him indignantly as if he were degrading her made him feel sick to his stomach. He felt so much for the woman, cared so much - it was almost painful.

 

As Rey finished speaking, Chewie moaned and dashed out of the corridor without a word.  Rey called after him but it was no use.

 

She turned around to face Kylo again. His devastated expression made her heart clench and she came into the quarters again.

 

Kylo lowered his gaze and stubbornly looked at the floor. Of course, how could Chewie ever forgive him? He was right, he was a monster. A parricide. He tainted everything he touched. The hate and disappointment in the eyes of his old childhood friend were as if a dagger had pierced right through him.

 

“Ben, look at me,” implored Rey, pulling him out of his gloomy state.

 

He did.

 

Her sweet, concerned and caring face made his throat constrict. He felt so unworthy of her attention, so unworthy of receiving her love.

 

A million thoughts flashed through his mind but he stayed silent and just stared at her. His dark eyes were windows into his tormented soul and Rey could already guess where his treacherous ideas were leading him.

 

“I’m here. You. Me,” she pressed, putting a hand on his shoulders. She neared and pressed her lips to his soft but scarred cheek. “You need to make things better with Chewie. He’ll soften, but it has to come from you.”

 

Kylo was suddenly reminded of his uncle’s words.

 

You should recover what is yours. Help Chewie with it, repair it, maintain it

 

“Did Chewie say the ship was wrecked?” he asked out of nowhere.

 

Rey had a sudden rush of panic.

 

“Yes, kriff, what have we done! I have to go see this, or we’re going nowhere! I’ll go shower and get to it! Can you start inspecting the damage?”

 

Without letting him answer, she raced back to the ‘fresher, leaving him alone.

 

He heard the water turn on, and his thoughts drifted away...

 

At first, had solemnly sworn himself not to follow his uncle’s “advice”. He had promised himself never to do so again, the night he destroyed his Temple.

 

But now, it seemed he wasn’t going to have a choice.

 

 

***

 

After a warm shower and a full belly, Rey and Kylo surveyed the whole ship. Kylo kept a comfortable distance from Chewie as he continued scolding both of them for being so reckless and irresponsible. They turned various shades of pink at the same time, looking away from the giant Wookie. But indeed, Chewie's reprimand wasn't in vain: the damage was worse than expected. The ship was leaking in some parts, many fuses and cables had gone loose under the Force's powers and the central computer had gone berserk. In the absence of a droid, they would have to figure out how to get the computer working.

 

But what was most impressive was the huge crevice they’d opened under the ship. The Falcon needed to be moved away, for the hole in the ground was threatening to widen and bits and parts of rocks were falling down.

 

So much for being discreet during sex, Kylo thought to himself.

 

Despite the situation, Kylo was secretly proud. He had actually wrecked his father’s ship by doing some other type of wrecking. A part of him - his ego - swelled ridiculously as he remembered the performance - remembered her begging him for more of his cock, moaning and panting under him as he fucked her senseless - and a grin was about to crack on his face at any moment.

 

And anyway, it couldn’t get any worse - could it?

 

Rey was inspecting the rooftop of the ship, when, over in the distance, she saw a group of Lanais heading toward them, let by Alcida-Aukai.

 

“Looks like we’ve got company,” she told Kylo, who had taken his shirt off and was now repairing a sheet of corrugated metal that had gone loose on the ship’s structure. It was, fortunately for them, a warm day and there were no rain clouds in the sky.

 

She slid down the Falcon's side and landed on solid ground. Alcida-Aukai was advancing toward her, her great fish orbs solemn. She eyed Rey from top to bottom as if scanning her entire being and reading her thoughts.

 

Did she -

 

“Hum. I knew this quake wasn’t a usual one. You caused it, right? With him?” she asked, pointing a small grey-greenish finger toward Kylo, whose forehead began to sweat.

 

Kriff. It did get worse, he thought to himself.

 

He avoided everyone’s gaze and pretended to focus on his task as if nothing happened, but Rey could see he was turning as red as she was.

 

“Em, we had…an intense sparring session,” she blatantly lied, although she had little faith it would work.

 

“Intense indeed,” replied Alcida. Was it Rey, or was there the beginning of an ironic smirk on her old green and rugged lips?

 

At this point, all Rey wanted to do was to jump into the crevice behind them.

 

“Seen the truth, you have, my Child?” continued Alcida, her tone morphing into a serious one.

 

Was there anything this caretaker didn’t know?

 

Rey stared at her intensely. From the corner of her eye, she saw Kylo peek at their direction.

She crouched down to meet Alcida’s fish orbs.

 

“Yes. I opened the Third Door. With his help,” she explained.

 

Alcida’s usual steady stare widened just enough to show interest and eagerness.

 

“So, you know…it has been a long time. The Lanai have been waiting for you to return.”

 

“You…you were waiting for me?”

 

“You, and him” she said, turned toward Kylo who was now approaching and causing the other younger Lanai nuns to giggle at the sight of him. Rey couldn’t blame them - he truly looked like a divinity, with his working gloves in the sunlight, which was shining upon his obnoxiously glorious black hair. At least he had the decency to put his shower towel around his neck, covering at least some parts of his broad chest.

 

Kylo studied the old Lanai with a scrutinizing gaze. “You knew who I was, didn’t you? That’s is why you told me ‘it’s been a long time’? That’s why this island seemed so familiar.”

 

"Yes. The Child of Darkness. Lost along the path, he was and still is. Seeking the Light, in the person of his Other. I knew, yes, I knew. This tale has gone from mother to child, from great-great-grandmother to great-grandchild with the Lanai. We knew the day would come."

 

“Why didn’t you tell me, Alcida?” inquired Rey, her tone slightly annoyed.

 

All she received for an answer was a hit of the Lanai’s scepter on her skull. “Ouch! What did I say?” complained Rey, rubbing her head.

 

“Have you learned nothing, you reckless child?” chided the elder.

 

Rey shook her head. Alcida dug the scepter decidedly again in the soil and straightened to frown at her.

 

“The truth, never does it reveal itself without one seeking it. Without wanting it, desperately, with all your willpower.”

 

Upon hearing this, Kylo cut in. “Elder Lanai,” he asked, seeking her attention and Alcida gave it to him. “There was a part in the vision…about my family. How will I know what it truly means?”

 

Alcida-Aukai contemplated him.

 

“I believe you already know. Seek the answer in your heart. A mission you have, my young friend,” said the old fish nun cryptically.

 

The rest of the young caretakers were now openly staring at Kylo.

 

A mission? What did that have to do with the vision of his family?

 

“Alcida-” urged Rey, “I-I wanted to ask you something.”

 

“What it is, my child?”

 

“In the vision. There woman called Ari’k. Do you know…what happened to her after her companion died?” She’d been asking herself this question ever since the reveal. What had happened to her in that past life? She sensed it was important.

 

The Lanai mother pondered her answer as she observed Rey with every shade of skepticism.

 

“Don’t you already know?” she questioned.

 

“She died…alone?” answered Rey hesitantly.

 

The old caretaker cleared her old throat.

 

“The history of the Prime Jedi is clouded by time. But the legend says Ari’k continued Nimaj’neb’s Order. She planted the Force tree, over there” Alcida pointed toward the burnt trunk, which was all that was left of the ancient tree, “and made the mosaic in the Temple in honor of his memory.”

 

Rey was awe-struck. So it was true. She had planted the tree - it made so much sense. The dreams. The Island. It felt so familiar to her. But before she could give it more thought, the caretaker continued.

 

“She also made a wish to the Force before dying, the legend tells.”

 

Rey quirked an eyebrow, staying silent but encouraging her to proceed, apprehension now creeping into her veins.

 

“She wished that she’d never die alone again,” enlightened Alcida, her ancient voice filled with wisdom. “I take her wish was granted,” she added as she contemplated the couple before her.

 

Rey and Kylo’s mouths dropped in realization and their gaze met.

 

Their Bond. It was unbreakable. In life. In death.

 

Deep down, they’d always known. But now, it was unveiled and displayed clearly before them as well as what this truly meant.

 

“Neither can die while the other survives,” muffled Rey.  

 

The Elder contented herself with a small, stern nod.

 

However, Kylo cut in. “But wait…you just said ‘the history of the Prime Jedi’. But, there was only one Prime Jedi, right? Because now you were talking about… well, about Rey.”

 

This time, Alcida smirked unambiguously.

 

“Attentive you are, my dear, and sharp, as always. You know as well as I do that ‘Jedi’ can be singular or plural. One split the Force. The Other helped him and was the first Jedi disciple in the Light. One is nothing without his Other, like Light and Darkness. They work in tandem with each other.”

 

“Isn’t the Light the opposite of Darkness, it’s sworn enemy?” asked Kylo, a bit challengingly.

 

“Search your feelings. Their existences are complementary. Darkness doesn’t exist without the Light, for the candlelight creates the shadow. How can one know true Light without knowing Darkness as a contrast?” Answered the elder. “A truth the Jedi, as you know, got wrong for so long.”

 

Kylo fell silent, contemplating what she'd just said. Indeed, he knew. But like all deep truths, he was powerless to know how to face its consequences.

 

Seeing questions had ended, Alcida-Aukai turned her old back toward her daughters and they started slowly back to the village. “Good luck with that ship,” she encouraged before departing.

 

Rey and Kylo both watched the Lanai disappear on the horizon as a soft breeze blew on the Ahch-to beach.

 

***

 

Several hours later, Chewie, Rey, and Kylo were busy working on the ship and Kylo was now swearing to himself he would keep his Force powers in check for next time. It was a mess. His gloved hands were untangling the most complicated switchboard he'd ever seen since the cables had quite literally balled up into a knot. Next to him on his right, Chewie was busy welding a loose structure and to his left, the central computer was displaying the strangest messages while Rey struggled to understand the binary language code it was speaking.

 

Scandalized? This is an outrage? Was that what the computer was telling her? Rey facepalmed. How in the name of the Force did a computer know they were having sex? Was there anybody that didn’t know at this point?

 

“Chewie, where did you guys get this computer from? It’s…got quite some manners!” inquired Rey.

 

The Wookie grunted a reply at her.

 

“What? It was a droid? How can a droid…oh. You plugged a droid’s memory in here?” she frowned.

 

She only got a curt nod from Chewie.

 

Kylo’s eyebrow quirked in curiosity “That was Lando’s infamous droid, L3 I take it...I heard this story before. What is it saying?”

 

“No-nothing! Never mind” she flushed, not bothering to press the matter and ask who were ‘Lando’ and ‘L3’, and anyway, she got a glimpse of the cables Kylo was trying to connect and had to intervene before it was too late.

 

“No, no, not that one! You need to connect that red cable with the other red one, into the switchboard, that blue one is going to short circuit everything,” Rey scolded him, but he ignored her and stubbornly connected the cables, making a rain of sparks fly out of them, causing the ship’s lights to go on and off.

 

Chewie roared at him. Kylo’s mouth twisted downward and he chewed on his lips. That was not what he had intended. He glanced on both sides at the Wookie and Rey who were both frowning.

 

“Hey, I’m just trying to help here! Chewie, pass me those pliers over there? I’m just going to cut it and plug it back into the switchboard.”

 

“No, Ben wait!” Rey reached for the cable and snatched it from his hand. “Let me do it.”

 

But Kylo grabbed the cable back. “Hey, I’m doing this.”

 

“You’re only making it worse,” she reprimanded with a huff.

 

“Oh, and how do you know this better than I do?” he punned. “I’ve worked with ships all my life.”

 

“Well, maybe your aristocratic upbringing didn’t let you put your hands in the grease. I’ve been dismantling ships since I was four years old - I’m just a scavenger, remember?” she quipped and connected the cables back into their rightful places. The lights came back to normality at once.

 

She then offered him the most arrogant smirk and shoved the pliers onto his solid, naked chest, granting him a wink before leaving the room, moving her ass in the most attractive and devilish fashion.

 

His eyes rounded. There was no way she didn’t do that on purpose. Kriff…was she teasing him? The worst part was it was working for his cock made a treacherous twitch in his pants.

 

“Women,” sighed Kylo, before he heard Chewie emit a muffled sound that gave the impression of a snicker behind him. “Hey, what are you laughing about?” deadpanned Kylo with hurt pride.

 

Chewie moaned repeatedly, clearly making fun of him.

 

“Hey, you big fuzzball, I am not a disaster with females,” protested Kylo indignantly.

 

But suddenly, the Wookie growled in quite a different tone and was soon spitting in his face and glaring at him.

 

Yes, you’re a disaster. She likes you, you foolish kid. If you dare hurt her, I will tear you apart and this time I won’t aim for your side.  Do you hear me?

 

Kylo stared incredulously at his old friend, who was only centimeters away from his face now, as the intel sank in. His flank still bore the mark of his bowcaster back on Starkiller Base. But what did this mean? He’d purposely aimed at his side just to wound but not kill? After what he’d done to his best friend - to his own father?

 

Flashbacks of old times with ‘Uncle Chewie’ appeared before him. Now he remembered the last time he had laughed until he couldn't breathe. It was with Chewie. He was so small and they both played a trick on his dad. He recalled that, for so long, he played with Chewie more than with his own parents. When his mom and dad fought, Chewie would come and comfort him. Until he was sent to Luke and never saw him again.

 

He pictured Chewie that day, looming over the catwalk, aiming at him, probably remembering he was his best friend’s son. Remembering how close they used to be. He imagined the Wookie couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger over his heart…instead, he’d lower the aim, just a bit, so it would hurt but not kill.

 

Soon, the Force vision nagged at the corner of his mind. His father’s hand on his cheek as a baby. Observing his only son with pride.

 

Come home, we miss you.

 

His throat constricted so tightly he couldn’t swallow. Chewie’s blue irises were like hot oil, burning right through him.

 

He was in the Falcon. His father’s home. With his best friend. But Han would never come back.

 

He leaned against the wall on one hand and covered his face with his other one. Tears made their way to the corner of his eyes but didn't fall.

 

He suddenly felt a furry soft paw over his back and faint whimper. He peered on the side and saw Chewie bending down to peer at him, now whining a bit louder.

 

Just - don’t hurt her. She’s my only friend now.

 

Kylo’s jaw was trembling.

 

“I’d never…she’s everything to me,” he finally managed to croak, struggling not to cry, before he composed himself and gathered his strength. “Chewie - I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I know it’s too late... maybe you don’t care -but I need to tell you this. I regretted it the moment I did it - but now…I really regret it. What I did - to dad, to Han.”

 

There. He said his father’s name.

 

The Wookie just looked at him, staying painfully silent.

 

Unable to withhold the uncomfortable tension in the air, Kylo broke it. "L- let me repair the Falcon with you. I'll try and make it up to you."

 

Chewie grumbled but then, his head moved to make a slight nod.

 

Kylo exhaled the air he’d been holding and realized how much this meant to both of them. He gave him a flat smile in return but was unable to speak further for he was on the verge of breaking apart.

 

Kylo didn’t see it coming. The Wookie suddenly wrapped his huge arms around him and pulled him to a hug while he moaned loudly, telling him he was the most foolish kid in the galaxy but he was still his kiddo, Han’s kiddo. His head buried into his old friend’s torso, while Kylo lowered his defenses and salty drops rolled down his cheeks as he hugged him back.

 

It had been so long.

 

Little did he know that Rey was witnessing the scene, hiding and peeking from behind the door. She was struggling to compose herself and her heart swelled with emotion.

 

Ben was home.

 

 ***

 

 

Several hours passed, between loud bangs, welding, fire sparks and computer reprogramming. They had fallen into a routine of passing tools and cursing out loud, because, hell, there was a lot of work to do.

 

Rey was working on repairing the toxic air fluids she had once fixed with Finn, below, in a smuggling compartment. She was on her knees, attempting to lift a lever which was rusty and stuck. She was failing miserably at it when suddenly a voice startled her.

 

“Need a hand with that?”

 

Ben’s face was hanging from the ceiling into the compartment, his black hair dipping down.

 

“No! I’m good, just-” Her teeth gritted as she tried again, her nose wrinkling with the effort.

 

Soon, she heard the sound of someone slipping inside and peered behind her back.

 

Ben was hanging from the ceiling from his arms, balancing himself like a kid having fun. He glanced over at her - or was he openly checking out her ass?

 

Finally, the lever gave in but snapped her fingers in the process. “Ouch! Kriff! Bloody thing!” she swore as she got to her feet. She wasn’t wearing any gloves and blood spilled over her hand. She licked and suckled on the wounded parts. 

 

Finally, Kylo let go of the ceiling and landed smoothly on the floor. His pale torso was stained with black grease, sweat was dripping from his chest and he'd run his hand into his hair which, instead of its raven shine, was messy and untidy now. His brown leather gloves made him look like a mechanic in one of those manufacturing spaceports. He reminded her of herself, covered in dirt in the hot Jakku desert. Kriff, he looked so good. She told herself she’d scavenge him any time before realizing exactly what she was thinking.

 

He took a few steps forward, glancing at her hand. “Hey, did you hurt yourself?” he asked with a concerned voice.

 

Rey frowned. "I'm ok, just-" The air left her lungs when he took his gloves off and tossed them on the ground, then took her bleeding hand into his warm, broad ones. He brought it to his lips and brushed it with a kiss while his eyes darted and peered right through hers.

 

“You don’t have to show how strong you are with me,” he assured her, and before Rey could protest, he continued. “I know you’re a fighter. You don’t have to prove anything to me,” he said seriously as his mouth grazed her hand gently. “Be careful with those nice hands. They don’t only serve to repair ships - they also heal.”

 

His words took her completely off guard.

 

She swallowed. Nobody had ever told her anything like this before. For all her life, she struggled to show no weakness. She had to be strong, no matter how much she wanted to cry. But now, she didn't need to show or pretend anymore. With him, there were no lies. He saw her for what she was inside. Her heart swelled with gratitude and her vision blurred ever so lightly.

 

"I-I…" her voice trailed. His gaze was so intense she found herself blushing. The air was suddenly sucked out of the room. “Stop staring at me like that,” she hushed.

 

“Why?” he asked, the ghost of a smile forming on his features.

 

“Because-” she didn’t have time to finish. Kylo caught her lips and helped himself inside her mouth with his tongue.

 

Oh, she knew right where this was going to, and she had to stop before it was too late.

 

She unwillingly broke the kiss. “I-I have to continue working” she stammered, clearly not convinced but nevertheless turning her back to him to face the task again.

 

But Kylo was a stubborn man.

 

Stubborn. And hot-headed.

 

Wrong cocktail.

 

She should have known better.

 

“Hey, it’s the second time you’ve pushed me back,” he accused begrudgingly as he closed the distance she put between them, while she pretended to connect two cables. He laid both hands on her naked shoulders - she was only wearing a tank top and no breast band, granting him with a perfect view of her cleavage beneath the fabric- and caressed her arms up and down, sending an electric current down Rey’s spine.

 

But she straightforwardly shivered when he pushed her hair aside and his plush lips brushed behind her neck and his hair fell over her shoulders, tickling her. His scent filled her nostrils - the smell of sweat and his raw, manly body scent.

 

“What is it? You don’t want your big bad boy?” he teased and he then tasted her neck - the sweet rich perfume of her skin mixed with that of soap and grease. The taste of her awakened that part of his body which was only eager to savor more of her.

 

Force Sake, Rey cursed inwardly. She was cornered like an animal.

 

“It’s just…” she hesitated, embarrassment filling her voice. “I’m really sore.”

 

Oh.

 

This was even better than the mile-long crevice under the Falcon. His primal maleness swelled with pride and vanity as he remembered exactly why she was sore. His features darkened with lust and his lips now curled into a full-fledged grin.

 

“There’s no complaining. You asked for it. Nice and hard,” he mused smugly and she could hear the smirk in his voice.

 

Oh, damn him.

 

Then, he scooted himself nearer and dared to rub his hardness against her ass and continued to slip his warm hands down her arms, finally reaching the curve of her hips. “It’s not my fault if you moved that cute ass of yours around the ship the whole day. I’m only a man,” he chided with no reprimand in his voice.

 

His other hand wrapped around her neck and tilted her head to rest on his chest, allowing him to nibble the spot under her earlobe. She whimpered under the feeling. His hot breath in her ear and his body heat engulfing her small frame was driving her mad. A tingling sensation reached the spot between her legs and before the sheer thought of turning around and kissing him senseless crossed the horizon of her consciousness, she remembered they couldn’t.

 

“We can’t. Chewie would kill us,” she murmured.

 

“We can be discreet. No sounds, no screaming this time,” he replied, challenging her, his plush lips scraping more of her skin, leaving a humid spot and making the small hairs on her neck spear.

 

“I’m still sore,” she replied, trying to find an excuse to avoid the unavoidable.

 

“I can take care of that,” he insisted in a deep soft voice.

 

Oh yes, she knew exactly how he could take care of it. Which was precisely the problem. Kriff, why was this man just so irresistible? How could she already feel damp in her panties after just a few kisses? She made a mental note to check on her hormones.

 

Kylo slid a hand down into her pants onto the naked arch of her ass and caressed and squeezed it gently. Was it her, or was there an impression of newfound tenderness in his gestures?

 

“I can’t fight it. I’ve been wanting you since that Door. I want to make love to you, pleasure you. Just you,” he confessed in a muffled, low tone. “You were always the only one.”

 

She was completely out of breath and she didn’t know if it were for his words or his deep voice which resonated on her flesh and made her whole body tingle with desire.

 

“Yes, all this time, it was you…” she managed to reply before he turned her around with a flick of his hand on her waist, trapped her in his arms and caught her lips hungrily with a hint of possessiveness. He pushed her head backward, which merged with the metal structure with a thump sound and a whirlwind of passion engulfed both of them as their tongues sought the other’s as if their life depended on it.

 

She wrapped her arms around his bare neck, ran her hand in his hair and waved goodbye to any attempt her brain would make to prevent her from drowning into temptation.

 

Temptation had never been so appealing.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

There were no words to describe the mind-blowing sensation of his mouth running over her nipples. Kylo had pinned her against the wall of the smuggling compartment preventing her from moving with her tank top was around her waist. She was trapped by his broad frame roaming over her body. While his tongue circled the nipple on one breast, his hand cupped the other, massaging it slowly between his fingers. Rey rolled her head to the side, her mouth already incapable of staying shut under the feeling of his raspy tongue on her sensitive skin.

 

His other hand settled on the curve of her hips and grabbed the hem of her pants. Soon he crouched in front of her, taking the garment - and her panties - down at the same time. He peered up at her playfully while her trousers fell around her feet, revealing her slim legs, impeccable stomach and the few pubic hairs scattered on the apex of her thighs. His hand grabbed her calf and he lifted her leg over his shoulder and wrapped his arm around it, giving him perfect admittance to her pink folds. At this point, Rey was already shivering with need.

 

She saw him lick his lips before his gaze darted to hers - and she was hypnotized by the dark, lust-driven look he gave her before diving his mouth into her pussy. 

 

His hot tongue brushed her sore skin with a long slick lick- and Rey had to suppress a cry. His soft wet lips moving over her swollen flesh sent a soothing sensation throughout her body - almost like a cold compress over burned skin. She instinctively buried her hand in his thick hair, pressing his head just a bit more against her - urging him not to stop - and he hummed approvingly. One of his hand parted her folds, opening them wider to grant his tongue better access while the other hand squeezed her ass.

 

It felt divine.

 

He locked his lips to her velvety flesh; he craved her so much that he lapped and licked her up and down fervently. He buried his tongue inside her just like she liked it, slow enough for her to emit low muffled sounds which filled his ears like beautiful music. The sweet feminine taste of her arousal made his head spin. He suckled and flickered his tongue over her clit, careful not to hurt her.

 

Force sake, now she felt on fire. She bit her lips in order not to whimper too loud.

 

Still between her legs and playing with her bud with his tongue, Rey spied Kylo unzipping his pants, the sound of it distinctive and rather loud in the smuggling compartment. His hardened cock burst forward, like a bird set free from its cage. He grabbed it with his free hand and stroked it in a rush of ardor while Rey watched what he was doing.

 

It was one hell of a view.

 

Rey had to stop herself from whining at the sight of him masturbating while he was still pleasuring her with his sinful mouth. She was reminded of their Force bond when she had caught him red-handed in the middle of his personal gratification.

 

He sucked her clit relentlessly, still palming his erection. When she was certain she was going to come and scream out loud, he released her with a popping sound and looked up at her.

 

“You taste so good… I could eat you all day,” he whispered smugly as he ran his tongue over his lips, making sure she actually saw the gesture, before he sealed his mouth again to her pussy, continuing to pleasure her and himself as though he couldn’t get enough of it.

 

Rey was starting to shake all over, and being silent became utter torture. She struggled not to moan under his attentions, and seeing him stroke himself wildly with desire, kneeling before her as if she were some type of goddess, was clearly not helping.

 

Without any warning, he got to his feet, lowering her legs down and towered over her once more, his dark eyes devouring her, his lips glassy, still wet with her arousal and his cock pressing against her stomach. Her wetness actually gushed down her thighs. 

 

“Is that better? Now you think you can take my cock?” he asked mischievously as he licked his lips, his eyes bright with excitement.

 

Oh, now he was dirty-talking again. It only made her shiver with need. Part of her wicked brain thought to suck him off, to hear him moan as she made him come in her mouth. But at the same time, she desperately needed him inside her. The second option won over the first.

 

“Take me… please” was all she could answer - the sound coming out of her much dirtier and pleading than she intended, for he arched a prideful eyebrow at her.

 

“As my lady wishes,” he teased, sealing his lips to hers and she could taste herself on him. He cupped her ass and lifted her up. Rey barely had time to settle her arms around his thick neck for balance before he took a few steps to the side and sat her on top of a smuggling trunk which was encased within the Falcon’s structure.

 

He laid a hand on her chest and silently invited her to lay down before him. He trunk was cold but his warmth sank into her skin. He reached over her to grab her lips, granting her with a tender, loving kiss, and, soon, he roamed over her body and proceeded to kiss, lick and suckle on every piece of flesh he could find as he moved down until his tongue reached her pubis.

 

He pressed one last a last kiss on her thighs and he parted her legs, taking a quick glance at her as if she were his most prized gift; he admired the view with a smirk on his face. She was so wet for him her cheeks turned pink.

 

Through their bond, Kylo could feel how much she wanted him, how much she craved him, yet a second time in the same day - and he felt so much pride at the thought, he could have roared like a wild feline. 

 

He bent over to rub and wet the tip of his cock in her juices, sliding his erection up and down her wet slit.

 

“Is this what you want?” he asked musingly, his eyes never leaving hers.

 

“Yes...and not just one serving,” she teased back challengingly.

 

Kylo almost chuckled at that.

 

He gripped his length and swiped it over her plush flesh once more, before he slid himself into her damp core, slowly pushing in to the hilt. His hands came to rest on both sides of her body, his frame caging hers and his body heat covering her like an invisible blanket.

 

Rey gasped under the feeling of his thick manhood inside her. She could never get enough of him. She watched his eyelashes close shut with pleasure and his mouth open with a silent moan, adjusting to the feeling of her tightness squirming around his cock. He stretched her open once more, careful not to hurt her already swollen folds.

 

They merged, making them One. It felt like a true nature.

 

He watched her silently from above, admiring her flushed features, the way she bit her lips as she welcomed him within her most intimate parts. Their eyes locked and he remembered the vision on the first night they had made love. Now, the realization of their connection, so deep and mysterious was like balm to his soul, although his mind still had difficulties wrapping around it fully. Though, when he was inside her, he felt it on a more intimate, instinctual level.

 

She was his soulmate. They were two souls linked by the Force for all time.

 

When he finally began to move inside her, his thrusts were slow and controlled, their bodies fitting like missing pieces of a puzzle. Consumed with need after his oral attentions, she parted her legs a bit more, granting him to enter a bit deeper. He bumped perfectly in all the right places.

 

“Why do you always feel so good…?” he mumbled breathlessly.

 

Stars, how he was able to speak? It went beyond her understanding. It felt so amazing she was about to scream - but she refrained for she dreaded to think of Chewie’s reaction if he found them mating again for the second time in only a couple of hours. She tried in vain to stifle her moans as his lovemaking morphed into a deep and rhythmic pace, every move sending a shiver down her spine.

 

His cock plunged into her mercilessly; she could feel every inch of him enter and slide out of her drenched core. His tight balls pressed against her ass and their juices merging made soft but dirty, obscene sounds. His pubic hairs brushed over her bud in the most delicious fashion, bringing her close to climax at a dangerously quick speed. Her cheeks were turning redder by the minute and her mouth was irrevocably parted as she panted under the feeling of his body heat combined with her growing bliss. She moved her hand to his broad back, caressing his delicate skin up and down before squeezing his perfectly sculpted ass, silently showing him how much she wanted him.

 

Kylo continued to appreciate the sight of her enjoying his hardness. Sweat was beginning to bead on his forehead. He had a sudden, instinctual need to thrust a bit harder, but Rey let out a loud gasp. It resulted in him clasping a hand over her mouth, preventing her to make any sound except her steady moans.

 

“Shhhh…keep quiet or he’ll hear us,” Kylo whispered, his hot breath and black locks falling on her face. He was struggling to keep his Force powers in check, but the slow movements enabled him to maintain control. 

 

Rey’s lips emitted a faint sound of protest against his fingers, but he tightened his grip. Never leaving her eyes, he thrust a bit harder and deeper now, relishing her flushed features. Her head tilted back in spasmodic shivers as he filled every corner of her sumptuous pussy. His huge body moved over hers relentlessly but his movements were completely different from earlier. This time, he was making love to her. He took deep breaths as he savored the moment and the spectacle of her underneath him as he claimed her as his one and only Other. The yellow vines of their bond danced and spread, circling their bodies as if fusing them together while the Force hummed in a low vibration in the air.

 

“You like that, don’t you?” Kylo managed to mumble as her inner walls were beginning to clench around his length and her body started to tremble from head to toe. With hooded lids and cheeks red, she whined under his hand; the muffled, desperate sounds of her ecstasy sending a rush of excitement through Kylo's body.

 

“Come for me, my beautiful scavenger,” he gasped faintly, “show me how you like when I fuck you,” he pleaded.

 

There was something incredibly thrilling about all of it. He had her pinned down against a trunk, hand tightly clasped against her mouth, ravaging her senseless but at an excruciatingly slow pace. The contrast between the way his maleness dominating her and his sweet, caring gestures made every cell in Rey’s body beg and ache for him more than usual. Her insides were pulsating like wild flames.

 

His pace sped up just enough for the combined feeling of her bud being caressed by his skin and her pussy being filled to merge into endless rapture. Her climax hit her, making her whole body shudder and squirm. She was helpless to moan under his hand as he continued to pump into her, helping her ride her climax in the most divine way.

 

Her pussy muscles tightened around his shaft - and Kylo had to bite his lips firmly not to grunt as he bucked his hips against hers. For the first time, he saw stars before his vision and his eyelids clenched under the wild feeling of his milk spreading into her core. It evoked his wildest fantasies - some he wasn’t ready to assume. Rey marveled at the sight of his pleasure, squeezing him harder to make it more enjoyable. At last, he exhaled, long and slow, releasing the air he withheld in his lungs and nestled his nose into the crook of her neck. 

 

They both caught their breath as Rey played with one of his black locks.

 

It was probably the best sex they’d ever had - the sexual act in and of itself heightened by the knowledge of their true connection.

 

When Kylo straightened, his unfocused, sleepy expression showed a tiredness that was fulfilling rather than exhausting.

 

“Bedtime?” he mumbled.

 

Rey smiled and nodded. It had been the most intense day of her existence. 

 

But at least this time, Chewie hadn’t caught them.

 

***

 

When Rey opened her eyes the next morning, it took her some time to process where she was. Any indication of time and location felt lost into the oblivion of sleep. She only felt the soft rumble of a body as she moved and heat

 

It took her an instant to realize his hand was cupping one of her breasts through the fabric of her shirt and she giggled.

 

Even in his sleep, he was obsessed with her breasts.

 

Not that she was about to complain.

 

She attempted a tactical rotation to face him, but Kylo jerked awake immediately. His long black eyelashes fluttered open and Rey pulled back to take a better look at him. Her lips curved into a smile

 

“Hey…”

 

“Hi…” he croaked, voice raspy with sleep, “been awake long?”

 

“No, just now…”

 

Rey loved waking up next to him. In the mornings, he was a lighter, more innocent person. The one that was dormant inside of him. Only in the daytime would he put his mask on and sometimes shield himself from her. A part of her asked herself, now that they both knew the truth about their connection, if their relationship would change on a daily basis.

 

Kylo stretched and yawned, his body bumping into every wall of the crew quarters bed and Rey chuckled.

 

“They obviously didn’t design this bed for overgrown trees like you,” she mused.

 

“Better an overgrown tree than a tiny desert rat,” he quipped and she whacked his shoulder for insulting her again.

 

“No, no no!” he pleaded nervously, “no tickling this time!”

 

Part of her wanted to jump onto him and tickle him to death, but another, merciful part of her brain told her to keep the tickling menace latent to coerce him in doing whatever she pleased another time.

 

As if reading her mind, Kylo changed the subject.

 

“Breakfast? I’m starved.”

 

“Sure!”

 

If there was something that always worked to shift her attention, it was most definitely the perspective of food.

 

 

They sat down in the small kitchen of the Falcon, now fully cleaned and dressed. They were both attacking the portion of fresh grains and cereals mixed with green milk when Kylo spoke.

 

“I wanted to ask you something.”

 

“Mmph?” was all Rey could answer since her mouth was too full to articulate any words. She tried to swallow everything at once, but failed miserably and almost choked; she hit her own chest frantically and she coughed loudly, eyes prickling with tears.

 

Kylo snorted. She truly had no manners. “Are you all right? Or should I inform you that stuffing your mouth will not get food down to your stomach quicker?”

 

She recovered her breath steadily. “Thanks, teacher,” she deadpanned. “Now tell me.”

 

“The other day, you said Keido came to the apartment on Canto Bight,” he stopped to analyze her reaction.

 

“Yes, that’s right. Why?”

 

“You mentioned…a communicator?” he inquired, lifting an eyebrow.

 

Rey’s eyes rounded in realization. “Oh. Yes! I have it, wait.” She got to her feet and dashed out of the kitchen. When she returned, she handed him the black lollipop-shaped comm’link. He examined it carefully. The red light was twinkling, indicating incoming messages. He pressed it and Keido’s voice filled the kitchen repeatedly throughout various messages.

 

“Lady Ren! I have just sensed Kylo’s Force signature again! Do you copy?” “Lady Ren, are you all right? Kylo’s force signature is back but weak. Where are you?” “Lady Ren, do you copy?”

 

Kylo cast Rey an an inquisitive glance. "Lady Ren?”

 

Rey laughed knowingly. “I don’t know why but he called me that the first time we spoke over the comm’link. He told me he’d contact me as soon as he had information on you.”

 

Kylo’s jaw clenched and his expression darkened. He peered at her suspiciously. Rey sensed a tremor in his Force signature. She tilted her head and scratched her nose.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Nothing.” His tone was much colder than expected and his shields went up.

 

She closed the distance between them and reached for his arm. “You’re a pitiful liar Ben. What is it? Tell me, please.”

 

His defenses broke loose under her innocent question. He shifted his vision away from her, unable to meet her eyes, ducking his head down as if ashamed of himself.

 

“Nothing - it’s just, I all of a sudden wondered if…”

 

“If what?” she asked warmly, bending to try to catch his gaze, unsuccessfully.

 

“It’s foolish. I -”

 

Rey was struck with realization. “Are you jealous?” she puffed, struggling to contain her approaching laughter.

 

Kylo’s cheeks turned a deep shade of pink. He ran his hand through his hair and then around his neck and refused to look at her.

 

“It’s just…I recalled, when, well… when you appeared in your sleepwear on Canto Bight. I know Keido too well to know he didn’t just look at you as an enemy. I mean, you were half-naked.”

 

Rey took a deep breath and grabbed him by the shoulders, urging his attention. "Ben, he never, in any way, showed himself to be a rival for my attention. He was worried sick about you when you were taken away and always referred to you with utmost esteem. He calls me that…because of you, I think."

 

Kylo stared at her and considered her in silence. But Rey remembered something else.

 

“Actually, now that I think of it, he mentioned he thought we were bonded in life and death.”

 

What?” Kylo’s brow furrowed skeptically. 

 

“He told me before I reached for you through the Universe. He thought that’s why I was dying,” Rey explained.

 

“How would he know? I mean, he was always extremely intuitive. But this - even I didn’t know!” Kylo scoffed with indignation.

 

“Well, we better find out, right?” she encouraged.

 

Kylo nodded. He grabbed the comm’link and pressed the blue button.

 

“Hey, Keido, do you copy? It’s Kylo.”

 

He turned off the call, supposing it would take Keido some time to answer. He didn’t know how long they’d been on Ahch-to but surely it was long enough for Keido to have lost patience. He sat down on the chair next to the dining table. He was thoroughly surprised when the blue button flashed and a small beep resonated in the kitchen, indicating an urgent call. Kylo opened the communication channel at once.

 

“KYLO REN! You better have a KRIFFING good excuse for disappearing like this! Where the HELL have you been?” Keido roared over the microphone, causing Kylo to pull the device from his face as far as his arm would allow.

 

Rey’s eyebrows curved up like rainbows. She fought to avoid giggling at Kylo’s stunned expression.

 

“Ahem” Kylo cleared his voice. “Yes, Keido…” he replied awkwardly, chewing on his lips.

 

Rey was secretly struggling to compose herself. There was the mighty Kylo Ren - presumed Emperor of the Galaxy, responding to his Knight like a child who had been scolded. Rey bit the inside of her cheek to prevent herself from bursting into laughter.

 

“Maker, Kylo,” answered Keido with concern. “Where have you been? What happened? We were so worried! How is Lady Ren?”

 

Kylo’s gaze darted to Rey’s and she shrugged.

 

“…Lady Ren?” Kylo inquired skeptically.

 

“Rey had your communicator, so I know she’s with you. I’ve had no news from her since we felt your Force Signature come back. We assumed she found you but had no clue to where you both were,” explained Keido more calmly. “But several days ago, we felt a massive ripple in the Force. It felt like an eruption from both of you...so we figured you were together.”

 

Kylo veered toward Rey, who rolled her eyes and face-palmed. Now there was no doubt left, everyone in the galaxy knew they’d had sex.

 

Kylo cleared his throat and diverted the conversation to another, more appropriate topic. 

 

“You said “we”? Who are you with?”

 

“Jaryn and Aslik. We’ve been surveilling on the others and trying to get information on the Empire’s moves.”

 

“Keido, you need to come here. I’ll send you the coordinates because this is possibly the most remote place in the galaxy.” Kylo rose from his seat, exiting the kitchen toward the cockpit.

 

“Understood. We’ll be there in no time,” is all Rey heard before he left the room.

 

***

 

While they waited for the Knights, Kylo and Rey continued to work on the Falcon. The hyperdrive needed to be tested for repeatedly crashing. Kylo was in the engine room, biting his tongue and intensely fiddling and focusing on a particularly complicated part of the hyperdrive motivator with a tool. The titanium-chromium components, which stabilized the drive, seemed to be overheating, causing the motivator to collapse before everything melted under the heat. At last, Kylo exhaled as he finally determined the problem. As he suspected, their Force powers had shaken and partly destroyed the refrigerating cables which cooled down the components. He cautiously replaced the damaged cables with new ones.

 

Something was telling him the hyperdrive had to be their top priority.

 

“Rey, are you there?” yelled Kylo, putting his hand around his mouth so she could hear him better. 

 

“Yes! So? Did you find the problem?” she shouted back. 

 

“Yes, can you check it now? Start the computer and program the hyperdrive to see if it keeps heating or not.”

 

“Got it!”

 

While sitting on the edge of the pilot’s seat, Rey programmed the computer, before something outside caught her attention. She focused on the horizon. Unmistakably, the shape of a black imperial-like ship became visible.

 

Kriff.

 

“Ben!! There’s a ship coming toward us!...It looks like it’s Empire!” She hollered at the top of her lungs. She prayed it was Keido and the other knights, or they were in big trouble.

 

She heard a curse come from the engine room and soon, Kylo’s heavy steps came towards the cockpit. He threw his working gloves on the floor sharply and squatted  between the two seats of the cockpit to look out the window.

 

Rey pointed at the black figure. “There! Look!”

 

A deep scowl drew on his features and his lips curved down. “That’s not the ship the Knights use. Let’s get out there. Take your lightsaber,” he commanded at once.

 

Rey raced to the storage compartment, heart pounding in her chest. She retrieved the blaster Han had once given her. She tucked it behind the back, tightly into the hem of her pants. Then, she grabbed her double-bladed lightsaber and broke it in two parts.

 

“Here, Ben, take this!” She threw Anakin’s Kyber crystal blade and Kylo caught it effortlessly.

 

He studied the blade for a split second and his free hand balled up in a tight fist. “Let’s go.”

 

Rey nodded and followed him down the Falcon’s ramp.

 

But no sooner had they reached the ground when Kylo stopped dead.

 

“What is it?” questioned Rey, eyeing him with an apprehensive look. However, Kylo breathed out, obviously relieved.

 

“It’s Keido. I can feel his Force signature.”

 

Oh, thank the Force, she thought to herself. For a moment she thought they had been discovered. 

 

The vessel seemed like a Tyridium Imperial Lambda-class shuttle, similar to the ones Rey had once scavenged back on Jakku. It was a newer model but resembled the old Imperial version. Its distinctive three-prong wingspan made it recognizable from afar, and this model was elegant, all cast in black. It felt like the right kind of ship for the Knights of Ren to travel around the galaxy. It made it look like they were still Imperial agents.

 

It circled the island several times, aiming for a place to land. At last, it came down smoothly on the other side of the beach, causing the sand to kick up all around it. It carefully avoided the huge crevice Rey and Kylo had spawned during their lovemaking.

 

Instinctively, they both walked toward the ship. Observing his demeanor from the corner of her eye, Rey could sense in Kylo was tense. The tension in his jaw, his fist curled, his right hand gripping the lightsaber so tight it was almost shaking...she hadn’t seen him like this in weeks, maybe since they’d first met on Canto Bight.

 

How could she blame him? The last time he’d been in contact with his Knights, they had backstabbed him and slashed his back open. He still bore a white scar where that blade cut through his skin. They had crushed him almost to a point of no return, not only physically but emotionally. She recalled his mutilated body and what it had taken for him to recover from the exterior and inner wounds. She knew how much he had suffered, how much it took for him to trust and see the Light when there was only Darkness. In these last few weeks, he had made so much progress. She had been granted a glimpse of the man he could be - and her chest swelled with pride. Now, she feared the return of his Knights would open old wounds which weren’t properly healed. But there was no other way; he had to face them and the terrible betrayal of his closest allies.

 

At last, the Imperial-class shuttle’s ramp slid down, and three unmasked Knights came out of the ship. All of them were wearing layers of black clothing and eyeing their surroundings both in suspicion and awe, talking amongst themselves as one of them pointed toward the Jedi Temple. Keido was exactly the same as Rey remembered, with his distinctive samurai-looking bun and his distinctive trimmed goatee. However, she had never seen the other two without their masks. They couldn't be more different. One was imposing, with brown hair and a trimmed beard, fair skin, a square jaw and somewhat of a brutal demeanor. In contrast, the other man was lean, with a muscular figure, but the most distinctive aspect was his brown skin and black long dreadlocks which were partly pulled up over his head. His pitch black eyes betrayed a quick mind. He somewhat reminded her of Finn.

 

Kylo stopped as his gaze met Keido’s.

 

The Knights took a few steps before they stopped. Keido observed Kylo from top to bottom in such fashion it reminded Rey of Alcida-Aukai's seemingly x-ray gaze. His dark eyes settled on Kylo's long enough so the air was sucked away despite them being in open space. The tension could be cut with a knife.

 

Abruptly, Keido fell on one of his knees and his head tilted downward.

 

“Master.”

 

There was an uncomfortable silence, while the other Knights imitated Keido and bowed to their leader. Rey could sense Ben’s churning emotions. He wasn’t the same he’d been only several minutes ago. He was standing very straight, his arms rigid at his sides, his expression wary and his lips were twitching uncomfortably. After what seemed a very long moment, he spoke.

 

“So…you didn’t know?”

 

The three Knights lifted their heads at the same time. There was only seriousness and concern on their features. Keido frowned deeply and was about to speak. However, it was Jaryn who broke the silence. “Master. I don’t know what got into Jendi. He must have followed Vrieska. I’ve been attempting to make contact with him in vain.”

 

Keido cut in. "He's telling the truth. Ever since their betrayal, we've been conducting surveillance on them. Shaia has given us crucial information since she is now in Hux's close quarters." Kylo's lips curled in disgust upon hearing the ex-general's name, although he said nothing and let him continue. “Hux ascended to Grand Marshall and formed a Force Triumvirate. They are now planning to make a crucial attack on the growing Rebellion.”

 

Rey gasped audibly, causing Kylo to glance at her quickly, but he stayed stubbornly silent, giving Rey the perfect opportunity.

 

“Do you know where the Rebels are?” she interrupted. Her heart was racing. Her friends were in danger and she’s been so selfish to ignore them. Guilt instantly rushed in her blood like poison.

 

Keido’s eyes narrowed to Kylo, as if asking for permission to give the piece of information he withheld, and he nodded in approval.

 

Keido cleared his throat. "Lady Ren…" Kylo's eyes imperceptibly twitched "it has come to our attention the Rebels are gathering small groups of resistance cells throughout the galaxy.  Their main headquarters have been relocated to Batuu. We believe the Empire is going to blockade the planet to corner the main Generals who plan to gather there."

 

“Batuu? That smugglers’ hideout?” spat Kylo condescendingly before Rey gave him that look and he refrained from making any other commentary.

 

“Yes, Master, this is what Shaia has told us…although she also said Vrieska has been looking for you ever since your Force signature reappeared. She is…frightened, I believe.” Keido explained before bowing his head down again.

 

Kylo bared his teeth, his nostrils flared and his force powers thrummed, making the soil shake from pure rage.

 

“Ben, calm down,” urged Rey, putting a hand on his shoulder to appease him.

 

The three Knights didn’t dare to move, although Kylo’s energy level soon lowered. He took a deep breath, trying to control himself. He quickly changed the subject.

 

“Keido, why do you call Rey ‘Lady Ren’?”

 

Keido’s head flew upwards in surprise and he blinked. “Master…she’s your Other.”

 

“How do you know this?” asked Kylo while one of his eyebrows rose.

 

“She told me. The night you went missing. And then, she was dying when your Force signature disappeared. I only put the pieces of the puzzle together. And now…” Keido’s voice trailed.

 

“Now what?”

 

Keido looked at him straightforwardly. “Now, something in your eyes has changed.”

 

Kylo’s lips parted in shock. He frowned as if trying to solve a riddle but he wanted to avoid this conversation for now, as the topic itself was meant for a serious discussion. Now was not the moment.

 

“Rise. All of you,” was Kylo’s only answer.

 

They did, and Keido took a closer look at his Master before his eyes settled on Rey and he bowed in recognition and respect. “My Lady, I am relieved to see you saved our Master and took good care of him.”

 

Rey suddenly found herself blushing. Taking good care was…one way of putting it. She made a desperate attempt not to think of all the times she’d been screaming his name in ecstasy the last few weeks.

 

Kylo put a hand over his mouth and coughed loudly, unsuccessfully trying to cover his smirk.  Thankfully, the two other Knights approached and Kylo made the necessary introductions.

 

“Rey, this is Jaryn and this is Aslik.”

 

Truth be told, Rey was still puzzled about Kylo’s Knights. Part of her was wary of them, but another part had been convinced by Keido’s words. Now, witnessing the Knights’ first reaction to learning Kylo was alive and immediately rushing from the other end of the galaxy had finally convinced her of their honesty. All she wanted was for Ben to be able to rely on someone other than herself and to be able to trust. She took their hands gladly and was pleasantly surprised to find no deceit in their Force signature.

 

Rey released the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding.

 

“Master... what is this place?” asked Aslik after shaking Rey’s hand.

 

“Yes, the Force’s presence fills the air...” Keido’s voice fell away as he scanned the landscape with a glance.

 

"This is where the first Jedi Temple was built, thousands of generations ago," coolly answered Kylo.

 

The Knights all looked at each other, flabbergasted.

 

“Now I understand...Is this why you went silent for so long? You discovered something, right?” Keido asked, casting him an inquisitive glance.

 

Kylo and Rey eyed at each other knowingly. It was Kylo who answered. “Indeed, I have. In due time, I will tell you, it is of utmost importance. This place was also where Skywalker was hiding for all these years.” In Kylo’s voice there was still a hint of disgust while he mentioned his old mentor; however, Rey noticed that wrath had left his words, to be replaced by something nearing acceptance.

 

If Keido was impressed, he didn’t show it. “Is that so...this is why we never found him. He truly did go looking for the First Jedi temple in the end, didn’t he?”

 

Kylo made a quick nod.

 

After several minutes of chatting about the Island, the Force Tree and the native tribe of Lanais, a beep resonated out of nowhere, before Keido realized it was coming from the inside of his robes. 

 

Rey and Kylo gazed curiously upon the comm’link that Keido retrieved out one of his secret pockets in a rush. It was very similar to the one they had used to communicate.

 

One of the comm’s lights, the blue one, which indicated an urgent incoming call, was flashing and buzzing repeatedly.

 

“It’s Shaia!” exclaimed Keido.

 

As he pressed the button, the group suddenly heard several loud cracks coming from above, tearing apart the sacred island’s peaceful and silent landscape.

 

Rey and Kylo’s eyes darted upward at unison, while Shaia’s ancient, anguished voice echoed from the comm’link.

 

“Keido! They know where you are! You need to get out of there!”

 

As they looked up, a full fleet of Empire Star Destroyers was coming out of hyperspace, staining the beautiful blue skies of Ahch-to.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Are you absolutely sure he’s on this planet? It must be the most remote place in the Galaxy,” asked a woman with cat-like blue eyes, a hint of skepticism dawning on her features.

 

A ginger haired-man, standing straight as a board, looked throughout viewport towards the blueish-green planet. “Positive. Precisely why we never thought of looking anywhere near here.”

 

“How can you be so certain? We are taking an awful risk at blowing our cover.”

 

Hux scoffed. “It’s too late anyway. They may have noticed we are here by now, don’t you think?”

 

Vrieska closed the distance between them in the blink of an eye. Her nose wrinkled as he addressed him. “Don’t get insolent with me, Grand Marshall,” she snapped with irritation. “Answer my question.”

 

The man pursed his lips. His piercing eyes narrowed to hers. “The Knight’s ship has been equipped with a tracker. They have been wandering throughout the galaxy for weeks, and now, they raced here out of nowhere. We know they have been seeking their esteemed Master. Where else would they be racing off to so suddenly?”

 

Vrieska glanced at the horizon through the viewport. Her demeanor was grave. “Hmh. If you say so.”

 

Hux arched a quizzical eyebrow; the dark side user was almost shaking. There was fear in her voice, fear that mirrored his own. He had to finish the Emperor now he had the chance. “General, prepare the laser cannons. Fire at will on that ship. Send all our squadrons of tie-fighters toward the spot where it landed! I want him dead.”

 

Little did the Grand Marshall know that the cause of Vrieska’s fear was very different from his own. She closed her eyes, swallowed and her features turned white. 

 

 

“Ben! We need to leave, NOW!” Rey roared from the ship’s ramp.

 

“We’ll meet at a rendezvous point! Get out of here and stop at the nearest spaceport! Scan that ship, you’re being tracked!” Kylo screamed in a commanding tone to Keido as he moved backwards toward the Falcon, not wanting to leave his Knights without proper instructions.

 

Eyeing them race back to their ship, Kylo turned toward the Millennium Falcon and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. His already frantic heartbeat was accelerating at an alarming pace.

 

Rey disappeared within the ship as he reached the ramp. She was already at the coms with Chewie by her side when he dashed into the cockpit, muscles tight, brow furrowed, eyes alert.

 

“Get to the laser cannons! I’ll pilot!” he shouted, leaving no space for protest.

 

Rey cast him the most awe-struck gaze she’d ever given him. “What?!”

 

“No time to discuss! I’m the only who knows how to divert their attention. That fleet will roast us like fried Porgs if I don't distract them!” he said, motioning for her to move.

 

Rey’s mouth was agape; she was so stupefied she didn’t protest. Instead, she stood up and raced out of the cockpit toward the gun turret.

 

Kylo jumped into the pilot's seat, pushing all the commands on, one by one and using the Force to switch on others. “Okay now let’s see what this piece of junk can really do," he mumbled to himself but nevertheless heard Chewie's loud growl of protest.

 

“It is a piece of junk!” he hissed through gritted teeth, “Rey! Are you ready?”

 

“Yes! What are you waiting for, get off of the island!”

 

“What do you think I’m doing here!? Taking a holiday? This thing is slower than a huttsie slug!” he barked as the ship finally whisked upwards.

 

“Chewie, start the hyperdrive calculations, we need to have it ready any minute!” Kylo ordered at once.

 

But Chewie only howled at him.

 

“I don’t know! Anywhere!” he shouted as he used the controls to make the ship rise vertically.

 

As they were zooming away from the Island, a tremendous blow resonated from behind them; creating an unexpected wave of energy which hit the Falcon, making it wobble.

 

“Ben!! The Star destroyers, they fired! It hit the other Island in front of the Temple!” cried Rey desperately.

 

Kriff. Were they aiming for Keido and the others, who had taken off that way? Was it because of the tracker? He hoped the blast hadn't hit them and had no time to concentrate on the Force's flow. If he didn’t get them out of there quickly, the Falcon would soon be identified, the famous ship being the Empire’s top checked databank since Crait.

 

He didn’t have time to give it much thought. The horizon was now dotted by small, round, black objects while enemy ships began to appear on their radar. No one better be flying my Tie Silencer, he thought bitterly, or he’d personally see to that pilot's slow death. Kylo's quick mind was already plotting a way to overcome the incoming fighters. 

 

“Rey! We’ve got company. Buckle in and blast those traitors!”

 

“Don’t need to be told twice, your highness!”

 

Soon they were surrounded by a swarm of fighters.

 

“There are so many!” shouted Rey, anxiety getting the best of her.

 

“I’ll fly low to confuse their tracking system!” he said, before pulling the commands again toward him, making the ship do a back-flip.

 

Rey hawkeyed and blasted several ships down, before Kylo steadied the Falcon right above the sea level, creating a huge wave that engulfed them as they raced across the planet’s seaside towards another island. The tie fighters were having a hard time obtaining missile lock through the trail of water.


“Good thinking!” encouraged Rey, still targeting a fighter right above her.

 

“Keep aiming at them! Chewie, put some pressure on that motivator and go help Rey, I’ve got this, or we’ll never make it out of here alive with that fleet waiting for us,” said Kylo, brow knitted darkly. 

 

The Wookie growled before hitting a few buttons and obeying. After all, Ben was Han’s son. A daring and expert pilot, he knew he could trust him with the controls. Chewie raced with heavy steps toward the laser cannons.

 

“Chewie, what-? Ben, what are you doing!?” she screamed before firing and, striking another fighter behind them.

 

“Just - fasten that seat belt!” was all she got for an answer, and she swallowed in anticipation.

 

Indeed, the Falcon sharply on the side, and all Rey could see were granite rocks. Ben was zooming the ship within an island's inner crevices, trying to lose the fighters. Soon, he was spinning it repeatedly while some tie fighters crashed on the rocks, the explosions resonating deep within the structure and Rey's jaw clenched with tension and sweat started to dot her forehead.

 

The ship burst out from the rocks into open space, but right behind them, the island they had just flown away from vanished in a wild, terrible explosion.

 

Rey jumped on her seat and gasped out loud. “Ben!! The fleet! They just destroyed-! They found us!!”

 

But this time, she got no answer. She felt the rush of adrenaline come from Ben’s Force signature. The Falcon did a back-flip yet again, drawing a circle in the sky before diving downward, in full vertical position toward the sea. She could see the tie fighters on their trail again and was preparing to aim.

 

They were utterly trapped between the destroyers from above and the tie-fighters here. And if Ben didn’t straighten their position, they were going to crash.

 

“BEN!!” yelled Rey for dear life; Chewie roared outrageously.

 

To her utter bewilderment, he didn’t set it upright.

 

Suddenly, the engines plainly stopped; her heart almost did, too.

 

The Falcon plunged into the sea with a loud thump sound, causing it to immediately decrease its pace. The impact propelled Rey sharply against the seatbelt restraining her to her seat. Steadying her breath, she opened her eyes - when had she closed them?

 

What?

 

As soon as Rey was able, she unbuckled from the seat and sprinted toward the cockpit, pinballing between the walls because the ship kept moving. “Ben! What -”

 

Her eyes rounded and her lips parted as she saw the new landscape from the Falcon’s cockpit. They were slowly sinking into the sea.

 

“Are we drowning?” she asked in disbelief.

 

“No. We’re fine, I turned off the engines, shifted all powers to the front deflector shields and used the Force to cushion the impact, so we didn’t crash. We have to wait a good moment until we get deeper, so they won't be able to see us below the surface,” he answered hastily, short of breath. He was standing solidly, fiddling with dozens of shifts and commands, concentrating on the task. His heavy breathing and the beads of sweat on his forehead showed he had made a huge effort in order for them not to be pulverized by the impact with the water.

 

She glanced back outside. It was all deep greenish-blue waters; light poured from the surface, giving it an enchanted appearance. Fish and creatures of all sizes and shapes were whirling around, some of them curious about the new intruder; red-orangey seaweeds as tall as giant as trees sprinkled the landscape, oscillating with the currents. It was a whole other world, unknown and sitting right there, below them the whole time.

 

Chewie came in and landed in the copilot’s seat again, shutting on and off some commands, but Rey barely paid any attention to him.

 

It was completely silent; such contrast from all the turmoil above the surface. But soon, she jolted: dozens of laser bolts entered the waters and died within a small range. It was a rain of colors and foam and bubbles. The tie-fighters were obviously trying to reach for them and failing miserably.

 

Kylo chuckled. “They won’t get us here.”

 

He pushed his hair backwards with a quick move and sat back down in the pilot’s seat. When they had sunk deep enough, he started the engines slowly again. The Falcon oozed off slowly into the waters as Ben was steering it away.

 

“I- I didn’t know the Falcon could go underwater,” Rey managed to mumble laxly.

 

Kylo glanced at her over his shoulder and shrugged.

 

“I heard my father say it could once. I had no choice; you saw it, we were trapped. They would have shot us down. They can’t follow us here, and water also scrambles tracking signals.”

 

“That…was very clever of you. I never would have thought of it,” she acknowledged absent-mindedly, putting a hand on his arm and rubbing it gently. 

 

“Well, I am the best pilot in the Galaxy” Kylo grinned smugly, which now earned him an annoyed slap on the shoulder and a scoff.

 

“So sure of yourself…” she huffed in faked indignation before smirking. “Ok, I grant you that was a smart move. So, now what? They’ll still be there when we come out of here.”

 

Kylo stayed silent and thought for a short moment. He veered toward Chewie.

 

“Chewie…did Han ever jump to lightspeed from ground base?” he asked, hesitantly.

 

The Wookie groaned but Rey cut him off. “Oh, I can answer that. He absolutely did. I was with him and he scared the living hell out of me,” replied Rey as she recalled when they fled from Kanja Club and the Guavian Death Gang in the Falcon while rathtars were on the loose.

 

Kylo turned to consider her. He never liked the fact that Rey thought of his own dad as a father figure. But now, somehow, he remembered how daring his dad had always been as a pilot, and how this would drive his mother insane. His charms and personality were magnetic; something Kylo knew he’d never have and envied, in a way. He remembered what’d seen in Rey’s mind back on Starkiller. And afterward, while she was on Ahch-to when they touched hands. Her parents, discarding her on a desert junkyard. Now, he understood why she’d been drawn to Han.

 

“Kriff, and here I was thinking I was going to be the first one to try that,” he said, sounding slightly disappointed.

 

“I’d say that’s the most Solo thing you’ve ever thought of,” she chuckled, instantly alleviating the stress from their situation.

 

Kylo’s expression stayed unfathomable but a small curve threatened to break on his lips.

 

They continued their journey throughout the sea, slipping through underground tunnels and massive granite caves, encountering only once a huge mammal creature that Rey mind-convinced to follow his path with the Force.

 

“How long do you want to stay down here?” asked Rey eventually.

 

“I’d like to stay enough for them to think we’re dead. But we can’t stay here too long because it’s putting too much pressure on the ship’s structure,” he said, glancing at the pressure counter on the control panel.

 

“I agree. A leak would be a disaster. We still have to repair some parts,” said Rey with concern.

 

“And we’re going to need full engine power to get out of the sea first, the impulse required will be higher than within open airspace. Rey, can you check the motivator? Set it at full capacity.”

 

“On it,” she said before speeding out of the cockpit. Kylo heard her open the Falcon’s metal structure and slip inside the ship’s core. Meanwhile, he settled the computer for final calculations. But, scanning the information, something caught his eye.

 

“Chewie, what are these coordinates? What planet is this?”

 

The Wookie grumbled an explanation.

 

“Friends? What do you mean, friends? You’re not taking me to the Rebellion, are you?” Kylo asked full of suspicion, lowering his voice for Rey not to hear him.

 

Chewie groaned and moaned, long and slow.

 

“Yes, Chewie, I know, but we are going to Naboo, I have to go there” he explained, before the Wookie protested. “What? Yes, I know the ship needs a good repair and spare parts, but I’m sure we can find…”

 

The conversation was turning into a full-fledged argument. Chewie reminded Kylo that he had no idea if the Empire was on Naboo or not, and was going to endanger all of them if he didn’t go to a safe location first.

 

As much as he hated it, he knew the Kashyyk native had a point. Kylo sighed in defeat. He couldn’t risk going to Naboo prior to verification of the Empire’s latest moves, without a plan, and without proper repair. On Ahch-to, they’d crucially lacked the adequate tools and materials. The hyperdrive could fail them any moment.

 

“Do I have your word they are not Rebels?” demanded Kylo, his gaze turning stern.

 

The Wookie nodded and moaned, fumbling with some commands and avoiding his look, an attitude which made Kylo quirk a quizzical eyebrow. Through the Force, he could sense an inner turmoil. And he didn't like any of it.

 

I've got a bad feeling about this, Kylo thought to himself, although he didn’t press the point. He didn’t have time to go through the whole space navigational charts to check where exactly the Wookie had set the hyperdrive to, and Chewie would probably rip his arm off if he tried to change them now. Anyway, where would he go? He was known throughout the whole galaxy and that ginger-haired traitor had probably put a million bounties on his head by this time. Plus he didn’t have his lightsaber, for his old one had been taken by Vrieska; his fists balled up at the very thought. There was no choice but to trust his old furry friend, something he hadn’t done in a very long time.

 

His broody thoughts were diverted when Rey came back into the cockpit.

 

“It’s done. We’re ready,” she said.

 

“Good. Sit down and tighten that belt, this could be a bit rough, I don’t want you getting hurt,” commanded Kylo. He didn’t notice Chewie glance at him, before turning toward Rey and groaned in endorsement of Kylo's order.

 

“Hey, I can take care of myself…it’s like I have two bodyguards here,” she joked as she buckled in. She smiled at herself, for it was actually the best thing in the universe to have people who actually cared if she got hurt or not.

 

“Chewie, reverse the auxiliary powers. All energy to the main drive, start the accelerator slowly to see how it reacts,” directed Kylo with confidence.

 

The ship’s engine hummed louder and louder, and soon they roared at full power, making the whole structure shake, as if it was a wild animal contained in a cage, ready to burst out free.

 

Meanwhile, Rey stared at Ben’s every move in awe; there was no doubt he was a highly skilled and professionally trained pilot. She’d been an autodidact all her life and her piloting skills had been learned on the fly, without any training; only the Force had been her teacher. But Ben…it was different. He calculated every move, knew all the steps, verified all the information; he knew the ship as if he’d built it himself. His bold move earlier was true brilliance, although she’d never acknowledge it as such. He was such an intelligent and quick-witted man. She couldn’t shake the warm feeling of pride that swelled in her chest as she saw him there, in this father’s piloting seat with Chewie working alongside him, ready to join their skills and knowledge to get them out of this mess. At that very moment, she realized how deep her feelings ran for him.

 

“Okay, I think we’re good. Calculations are double-checked. I’m making the jump to lightspeed, hang on!”

 

He pulled the hyperdrive lever with a swift move, and with a crescendoing sound, a familiar, white-striped landscape appeared before them. The Falcon dashed out of Ahch-to, and they barely had time to see they'd come out of the sea that they were already into deep space.

 

At last, Kylo sat backward and leaned his head back, releasing the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding all this time. “Kriff, that was close…whenever I find Hux I’m going to tear him apart with my bare hands.”

 

Chewie got to his feet and grunted he was going to check if there was any damage from the water’s pressure.

 

As soon as he left, Rey unbuckled and came near him, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. Kylo continued, staring at the horizon “I-I hope Keido and the others made it…”

 

“We’ll try to communicate with them once we come out of hyperspace. You were amazing. I’m so proud of you.”

 

Kylo swiftly turned to face her; her scrutiny was so close, her words so kind, he found himself flushing.

 

When did anyone ever give this poor man a compliment? Rey thought to herself, her eyes shining with love.

 

He didn’t have time to say anything, for Rey tilted her head and grabbed his lips into an eager kiss, drawing his face nearer with her hands. 

 

If Kylo was surprised, he definitely wasn’t about to stop and tell her.

 

*

 

While the Falcon traveled in hyperspace, Rey decided to rest, since the day had strained her completely; she was exhausted. She asked Chewie where they were heading to, but he just answered brusquely “to a place where we can properly get the ship repaired.”

 

He seemed in a strange mood, so Rey shrugged and didn’t press the point. The Wookie had gone back to check on the hyperdrive’s cooling system, while Kylo was in the cockpit making some calculations. He had declined the offer for a rest, whispering in her ear in the most devious way that he preferred to avoid being “tempted”, causing Rey to giggle.

 

Fine. She was set for a nap by herself.

 

She was already undressed, nice and cozy in the crew quarters' bed and drifting slowly to sleep when she heard a tremendous scream.

 

She awoke, still groggy with sleep. However, she clearly understood Ben’s guttural roar at Chewie.

 

“And you didn’t think I’d check the navigational chart? Are you out of your kriffin’ mind ? I’m not going there and you’re a liar!”

 

The Wookie growled at him demonstratively, sounding more irritated than ever: You can’t go anywhere else anyway! He’s not a Rebel, I didn’t lie to you! You’re just a coward!

 

“I'm a coward?” thundered Ben’s voice from the corridor.

 

What is going on? Thought Rey to herself. She shot to her feet, shoved her tunic over her head and raced out to find the massive Wookie towering over Ben in the common space, each sputtering incoherent insults in different languages.

 

"Hey, what's going on?" she asked, but neither of them stopped, and they were now escalating up to a full-fledged fight. It was getting out of hand. She felt Ben's Force signature rise to an incredibly dangerous level of wrath; his fists were tight and trembling, his eyes wide. She knew she had to intervene.

 

She took a few steps forward and pushed both of them apart using the Force, causing them to stumble backwards.

 

“STOP! BOTH OF YOU!” she bellowed.

 

Seeing them unsettled and somewhat more subdued, she asked again. “Ben, what in the name of the Force going on?”

 

Chewie growled he was just a coward, causing Ben’s nostrils to flare and he was flexing his clenched jaw. His eyes had become so dark that, for an instant, she almost didn’t recognize him. He was drowning in the Dark Side.

 

Alarmed by his state, she tried to reach for him with her hand, but he avoided her.

 

“Leave me alone. And you,” he aimed a menacing finger toward Chewie, “Go wherever you want, I’m not getting off this ship,” he warned and promptly left with heavy steps, crashing the crew quarters’ door behind him.

 

Rey was in such a state of shock she was left with her mouth open, at a loss for anything to say. For weeks, Ben had been so…different, so sweet and gentle. He’d made so much progress. And now, he was transformed into this… enraged beast again. Her eyes watered before she could help herself.

 

Sometime later, she went to Chewie, who had gone back into the cockpit. The Wookie grumbled he didn’t want to talk. Rey offered him a gentle pat on the shoulder, and before leaving, she still tried to comfort him. 

 

“Chewie. I know it’s hard. For both of you. He’s trying. I can guarantee you he is. And I know you are, too. He’s just…he has so much anger and pain inside him.”

 

The Wookie only gave her a curt nod and she decided to leave him alone. She didn’t dare go to Ben, for she sensed he needed to be left alone for a while before she attempted to talk to him.

 

She sighed. It was going to be a long and lonely ride. She went to the storage compartment to fetch a cover.

 

Wrapping herself into one of them, she laid on the bunk where Leia had left this world, and thought for a very long time about the dozens of events which had occurred after the Princess’s death. Ben’s mother. She realized she never told him where his mother had died, and figured that, for the time being, this information should stay sealed within her heart. It would shake Ben to the core, not making his relationship with the Falcon any easier. It was already complicated enough.

 

Exhausted, she slowly surrendered to Morpheus’s welcoming arms.

 

 

It was another type of arm, this time furry but soft nonetheless, that woke her up. She blinked and focused, only for her vision to settle on Chewie, who had come to announce they arrived.

 

What? How?

 

“Chewie, did you pilot alone? Did I sleep so deep?” asked Rey, stunned she hadn’t woken up with the Falcon disengaging out of lightspeed.

 

She scanned her surroundings. Ben was nowhere to be seen. She frowned and rubbed her chin with her finger, focusing on his Force signature. It had been hours and he hadn’t come out of the crew quarters, but his signature didn’t betray any hard feelings or turmoil anymore, only pain…and, was that fear? Her brow creased in a worried expression.

 

Chewie went to disengage the Falcon’s ramp, stepping out into their mysterious destination.

 

However, before following him, Rey first went to the crew quarters but found it locked from the inside. She knocked on the door but met no answer. “Ben, it’s me. Please, let me in…we arrived.”

 

Silence.

 

“Ben, please, I’m worried for you.”

 

A small, raspy voice came from within.

 

“Please leave me alone.”

 

It could have broken her heart on the spot. She swallowed hard and was about to try and convince him to come out, but she decided she couldn't force him. He had to find the strength by himself.

 

What could be on this planet that Ben fears so much as to lock himself in? she thought. His whole family was dead, yet Chewie seemed convinced to go to this particular spot in the galaxy; a place whose name alone triggered such a reaction in him.

 

At this point, she herself was shaking with anticipation and anxiety. She bit her lips and her hands were sweating.

 

"I'll be waiting for you. Please come out when you are up to it. I-I don't want to be alone out there, without you," she pleaded through the door and turned around. A small part of her hoped her leaving would make him come out. She was disappointed to see it didn't and her ego was a bit bruised.

 

Shoulders down and defeated, she exited the Falcon, only to meet a huge, crowded city, with ships flying around round-shaped skyscrapers. It felt so strange to be back to civilization after so many weeks isolated on Ahch-to.

 

“Well, Chewie, you certainly didn’t mention you had a crew onboard!” echoed a cheerful voice behind her.

 

Rey's eye darted to where the Wookie was standing. A tall, rather well-built man with dark-brown skin, black-graying short hair and a white, bright smile on his face was next to him. But what most caught her attention was the elegant suit and the shiny, velvety cape he wore.

 

The stranger walked toward Rey and offered his hand.

 

“And very pretty, on top of that, but unattended it seems; where have you been hanging around now, you old pirate, for the pretty lady to be in this state?” said the man jokingly.

 

She hadn’t looked at herself in a mirror, but after weeks on Ahch-to, she must have looked like a rag; she flushed in embarrassment as she saw the man’s impeccable and spotless suit.

 

“I-I’m sorry, we’ve been on a non-technological planet for a while,” apologized Rey as she turned various shades of pink and offered her hand in return.

 

“Not to worry, we’ll take good care of you here, little one. My name is Lando Calrissian, an old friend of this Wookie, and Baron Administrator of Cloud City…and you are…?” he asked, brow creasing in question while he grasped her hand in both of his warm ones.

 

“Don’t touch her,” warned a deep, low voice behind them, preventing Rey from answering.

 

Before Rey whirled around, she saw the stranger’s previously confident features utterly disintegrate.

 

Ben was standing next to the Falcon’s ramp, fists balled up with a dark look on his face.

 

“Well, well. If it isn’t Ben Solo, himself.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Rey expected many things about the mysterious location where Chewie had been leading them; but finding herself taken hostage in a silent stare down was not amongst those possibilities.

 

There was a long beat of silence.

 

Rey’s head ping-ponged between Ben, standing next to the Falcon in a defiant manner, fists balled up at his side, and the mysterious host, whose name, had she understood correctly, was Lando. After his initial shock, the man shifted his weight on one leg and put his hands on his waist, cocking his head to the side. He shook it in disbelief, still not believing was he was witnessing. 

 

“Kid, you are literally the last person in the Galaxy I thought of seeing today. If it wasn’t for your face being all over the holonet, I may never have recognized you,” he said, pausing for an instant. “And what’s with that …scar on your face?” he asked, mimicking the gash.

 

Kylo snorted lightly. His lips curved down and he frowned. He pointed toward Rey with his chin. “She gave it to me.”

 

Lando’s eye widened and he straight out laughed. "Having lady problems, are we? Need couples counseling? Is that why you came to see good old Uncle Lando?"

 

Rey’s mouth dropped. Wha-? He’s Ben’s …? She turned to face Ben for answers, but upon seeing his gritted teeth, she abandoned her question.

 

Trying as hard as he could to rein his threatening stormy temper, Kylo spoke again. “To be clear, Chewie’s the one who brought us here. The Falcon is a mess, for a change,” he spat.

 

“Hey, don’t talk trash about that ship, kid. It was once mine, before your old man stole it from me,” warned Lando, pointing a finger at him.

 

“He didn’t-

 

“I’m just kidding!” broke Lando in a roar of laughter with a wicked smile on his face. He approached Rey again.

 

Kylo’s lips twisted but he stayed silent, giving Lando the opportunity to continue taunting him.

 

“Where did your sense of humor go?” he mused, still chuckling. “Why don’t you all come in? I’ll see what I can do for the Falcon,” he offered, presenting his arm to Rey.

 

That’s when Kylo lost it. “Don’t touch her-” he hissed protectively, now closing the distance between them. He settled between Lando and Rey, whose arm he possessively tucked under his and Lando backed up, both hands in the air in surrender.

 

“Hey, hey, no harm meant. Isn't that right lady?”

 

Strategically, Rey smiled widely at Lando, still holding Kylo’s arm. “Yes. Thank you for welcoming us, Mister Calrissian.”

 

“Oh, please, call me Lando,” he said with the most honeyed voice, and Rey pressed her lips in order to avoid cackling.

 

Kylo cast her a dark look and Rey smirked. There was something so thrilling about teasing this jealous man; she was thoroughly enjoying herself. She pulled Kylo's arm, forcing him to come with her so they could follow Lando inside.

 

Kylo had no other choice but to begrudgingly obey, trailing next to her in silence.

                                                                    


*

 

“Ben Solo, can you please explain; what is this place? Who is this Lando guy?” inquired Rey as they were left by their host in a spacious, sparkling white room, provisioned with a large double bed and a beautiful shower - both of which Rey was eternally grateful for after having spent weeks on Ahch-to.

 

Kylo sat on the edge of a sofa, his tall, black figure contrasting against the spotless white furniture. He sighed, long and slow and looked at his feet. “Lando was my father’s best friend. They played cards and smuggled together for years. The Falcon was once his - but my father won it in a Sabbacc game. He’s a gambler and a smuggler, the worse type in the galaxy.”

 

“Well, if I may point out, for one thing, he seems to really like you. Despite everything.”

 

Kylo swallowed. “We used to be very close; but that was more than twenty years ago.”

 

Rey came to sit next to him and put a hand on his lap. He didn’t raise his gaze to meet hers;  she ignored it and spoke her mind. “I like him. I saw a lot of scum on Jakku. Scumbags were my daily routine. He doesn’t seem like the worst type in the galaxy.”

 

Kylo grunted, unconvinced. He rubbed his eyelids and his posture slumped slightly. His mouth moved as if he was trying to vocalize something but couldn't find the right words. Finally, he gathered his thoughts.

 

“I was just a kid the last time I saw him. Growing older, I developed quite a distaste for gamblers and smugglers. It-it’s the only thing my father knew how to do,” he stuttered, “It’s also what drove him to leave me - and mom - all the time.”

 

Ah. Now we’re getting to the real cause of his earlier outburst, thought Rey. She stayed silent, nodding for him to continue, but he didn’t.

 

Instead, he stood up, and went to the window, gazing absentmindedly outside at Cloud City, as if recalling earlier times of his life.

 

He was about to speak again, but a buzz at the door drew Rey to her feet. Lando was on the doorstep accompanied by a middle-aged woman all dressed in white. She was carrying what seemed like neatly folded clothing in some transparent soft cases.

 

“May I come in?” he politely asked.

 

“Yes, please,” Rey moved to the side to let him through.

 

He took in Ben's appearance again. "Kid, when did you outgrow me? he asked incredulously, shaking his head, trying to match some old, blurred vision of the past with what he was currently witnessing. "I brought you and your lady some clothing. You'll be my guests for tonight's dinner. Will you join me?" he ventured, casting Rey a glance.

 

“Oh, of course. Won’t we, Ben?” she turned hopefully towards him. 

 

Kylo stayed silent. It was the most awkward situation; Rey held the air in her lungs. His dark eyes narrowed to Lando, as if he were trying to decipher any trace of deceit. He found none.

 

“Yes, of course,” he confirmed, causing Lando’s lips to curve into a wide, white smile.

 

“That’s my boy!” he exclaimed, arms raising joyfully. “Here, I’ll leave the clothing for both of you. You’re both a mess. I hope I got your overgrown tree size right, kid” He pointed at the cases on the dining table.

 

“Thank you very much, Lando,” said Rey.

 

“Oh it’s nothing, my dear,” answered Lando playfully. “Listen kid, you can’t neglect your wife like this. Look at her; such a beauty - on which disgusting planet were you torturing her on?” he taunted Kylo while brushing some dirt off Rey’s face.

 

Kylo’s eyes rounded. He gulped heavily at the use of the noun. “She-she’s not my wife”, he stuttered, flushing various shades of crimson, “It’s just - I mean, we-we’re not married,” he corrected hastily, now rubbing his neck and running a hand through his hair, putting his locks behind his ears. He truly wanted to jump out the window behind him.

 

“Not yet,” taunted Lando with a grin and he winked at him, causing Ben’s ears to turn red.

 

Pink also crept onto Rey’s cheeks. She fiddled with her fingers and had to suppress a giggle upon seeing Ben’s face: it was worth at least a million credits.

 

Lando ceased his teasing. “I’ll come get you in two hours for dinner”, he said as he aimed for the door.

 

As soon as he left, Kylo wiped his face with his palm, staring decidedly at the ground. This was precisely what he dreaded from the whole situation. He knew Lando all too well to know he was incapable of shutting his big mouth. He’d never felt so embarrassed in his life and didn’t dare to even look at Rey.

 

Thankfully, she made the best of the situation. “I-I’ll go take a much-needed shower.”

 

Kylo nodded, desperate to be alone.

                                                                     


*

 

A standard hour later, Rey was sitting in front of a wide mirror, desperately attempting to put on some make-up and was progressively growing infuriated with the whole process. Who even invented this thing? she hissed, annoyed, as she tried for the fifth time to draw a visible black and straight line over her eyelid. Make-up was the worst in the universe. It smeared everywhere and the big gruesome black substance glued her eyelashes together. Being a lady was far more difficult than she ever imagined and she hated this girlish expectation. 

 

Not to mention her hair, which was still loosely hanging on her shoulders. She’d already given up trying to do anything sophisticated with it and was now painfully regretting Shaia and her magical hands. How did she do these things so neatly? She almost missed Ahch-to’s savage coast and rough life. It was easier, in a way.

 

Rey sighed. So much for growing up in a desert junkyard.

 

Before she could continue to grieve her lack of skills, a sudden knock came from their bedroom door. She turned around swiftly and, as the door creaked opened, she had to stifle a gasp.

 

Ben was standing in the doorway, hair still wet and dressed like a prince. He was sporting a fine midnight blue surcoat. It had an elegant samurai-like collar, small but wide sleeves with the bottom hem of the surcoat ending just above his knees. It was wonderfully waist-fitted with a wide belt made of a soft fabric, over a darker long-sleeved tunic, molding his V-shaped muscular body. Tight black pants and shiny black boots replaced his old, beaten ones. An ankle-long cape, similar to the one Lando used and made of the same shiny fabric as his surcoat, matched his outfit, flowing freely around him.

 

Kylo glanced about for help; he grimaced, unsure of himself. “How do I look?”

 

Rey was speechless. She blinked a couple of times, trying to find the words which had abandoned her

 

“Majestic,” she managed to articulate, shaking her head as if she’d seen a vision. “How is it you always look incredible with so little?” she asked, almost annoyed.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

She huffed, exasperated with her task. “I hate trying to be something I’m not. I have no clue how to do my hair or put make-up on. I’m just useless with this,” she lamented, turning away from him. 

 

Kylo took several steps toward her and soon, his reflection appeared in Rey’s mirror. She took a glimpse of him, still trying to draw a line over her eye.

 

“Do you want me to braid your hair?” he inquired.

 

Rey blinked. “What?”

 

“I can braid your hair,” he explained as his fingers seized several of her locks.

 

She quirked an eyebrow. “How would you ever know how to braid hair?”

 

“I used to braid my mother’s hair all the time when I was young. Braids are an Alderaanian tradition,” he explained without shying away.

 

Oh.

 

She fell silent under Ben's ministrations; he grabbed a comb from her dressing table and parted her hair with expert hands, biting on his lips as he concentrated on the task. Rey watched him attentively in the mirror before her as he progressively gave shape to her mane. He maneuvered her hair expertly, forming two braids which transformed into a crown around her head. Finally, he placed two pins in her hair to fasten it.

 

“There you go,” he said, watching her reaction in the mirror. 

 

She contemplated the perfect hairdo from different angles in the mirror. She couldn’t believe it.

 

Kylo Ren, Emperor of the Galaxy, knew how to braid women's hair. Now she’d seen everything.

 

“Ben Solo, you’ll never cease to amaze me,” she said, shaking her head. She stood up and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him to a kiss which Kylo was eager to respond to. He slid his hands over her back, slowly caressing her until he reached her ass and squeezed it sliding his tongue into her mouth greedily.

 

Rey felt heat pool between her legs and regrettably had to pull away before giving in to temptation again; she bore her eyes into his lusty ones.

 

“Not now,” she smiled teasingly, “Or do you want Uncle Lando to catch you bedding your wife?” she quipped.

 

Kylo quirked an eyebrow and his cheeks reddened a bit. “I'd never hear the end of it. But it’s not my fault if your ass is so tempting,” he protested, giving it one more squeeze. 

 

A part of Rey’s mind - or rather, her ego - secretly wondered what Ben thought about her possibly being his wife. Not that she had any clear idea on the matter herself, but she was curious. However, since he didn’t pick up on her question, she untangled herself from him and changed the subject. “How’s the dress?” she asked, brushing and smoothing the spotless creamy white fabric.

 

With a twirl of his hand, he indicated her to turn around.

 

The chiffon backless halter dress hung from her neckline, morphing into a fitted bodice from which a gauzy knee-length skirt flew. It was elegant but not exaggerated and emphasized the slope of her shoulder and waistline impeccably. The braided crown just added to her beauty.

 

Kylo couldn’t prevent himself from thinking she looked like his bride. Pride swelled in his chest. She’s my girl. And nobody will take her away from me, he thought possessively. As his eyes roamed over her clean skin, curves, and her smooth back, he employed great mental effort to not give in to lifting her skirt over her luscious hips and taking her over that dressing table. 

 

“You look wonderful, but that’s your natural state,” he complimented her, failing to find the right words to express the warm feeling spreading from his heart.

 

“My make-up is a mess,” she complained.

 

“I don’t think so. And I like you better without it, anyway. I like being able to see all your freckles,” he said, approaching and laying a kiss on his cheek as his hand drifted toward her ass once more.

 

She giggled. “Stop that, you-”

 

A buzz came from the door again and they both jolted.

 

“See, you’re going to get us caught again,” she mused in a whisper as she went to open the door. Lando was in the doorway, and openly admired her from top to bottom and whistled. “A true jewel!” he said. Kylo quickly came into view and Lando pressed his lips together in acknowledgment. “Looking good, kid, pure royalty, as your mother always was.”

 

Kylo eyed him but stayed silent. Rey accepted the arm he offered her.

 

"Please follow me, I want you to meet someone, Ben," Lando said mysteriously as he led the couple to a dining room where a young woman was already seated, maybe a bit older than Rey. As she saw them come in, she rose from her seat. She was tall, with brown skin, small nose, plush lips, and almond-shaped black eyes. Her black hair was up in a single high bun, framed by a golden rim. She had a curvy body with prominent breast and hips. She matched the definition of gorgeous.

 

Lando came behind her and put his two hands over her shoulders. “Ben, this is my daughter, Nyri.”

 

Kylo blinked. “Your daughter?” he exclaimed in downright disbelief, eyes flickering between Lando and the woman.

 

“You were sent to your uncle almost at the same time she was born, that’s why you never met,” explained Lando,

 

“My father never mentioned.”

 

“Well, I’m sure he thought you had other things on your mind. And anyway, she stayed with her mother the first years. Didn’t you dear?” added Lando, casting a wide smile at Nyri, who was eyeing Kylo with circumspection. “Nyri, this is Ben Solo, I’m sure you’ve heard of him?”

 

“How couldn’t I?” she said, offering her hand to Kylo, who took it. “You’re the Emperor. You go by the name of Kylo Ren. I hear you were betrayed,” she said with a well-guarded tone.

 

Kylo’s brow knitted but he didn’t let go of her hand. “Indeed. As of my status, I do not know these days,” answered Kylo truthfully, seemingly bewildered as he looked at her. Rey didn’t know if it was for her good looks or Ben's reaction to her existence, but a strange, dark feeling surged within her stomach. Kylo glanced over his side and introduced her. “This is Rey.”

 

Rey bore her eyes into the young woman’s ones, which lit with recognition when she focused on her. “Rey…I know your face, too. You’re on the Rebellion’s posters all over the galaxy.”

 

Rey quirked an eyebrow. “Am I?”

 

Lando cut in. “Nyri may be young, but she is our political and economic strategist here at Cloud City. A key element for our mining business. There’s not one event that goes on in this galaxy that she doesn’t know of.”

 

They were suddenly interrupted by Chewie who came groaning in.

 

“Hey, Chewie, how are the repairs on the Falcon going?” inquired Lando, to which the Wookie let out a long moan and several grunts.

 

“My men will help you fix the hyperdrive,” he assured, before motioning his arms "Please, everyone, let's sit down and enjoy our meal."

 

Lando snapped his fingers at some attendant who was waiting by the side of the room while Kylo and Rey sat across from him and Nyri. As they were served some delicacies and copious amounts of wine, Rey noted that Lando carefully avoided coming back to what Nyri had come up with about Ben; his betrayal or even his father, as if he was avoiding the topic. He focused the conversation on the mining business and how Nyri and him had succeeded in reaching new markets, providing ship manufacturing industries with metals. He also mentioned his engineers had developed a fighting droid prototype - and intel not lost on Rey, who always held at the back of her conscience the fact she needed to get back to the Rebellion, whether it was accompanied by Ben or not. She kept pushing back the inevitable but knew all too well she would have to face a choice sooner or later.

 

Nyri was extremely charming. She had everything Rey had ever dreamed of, aside from losing her mother during childhood. But she had a father who loved her and cherished her like the most precious gem in the galaxy. She’d attended the most prestigious educational institutions; there was no doubt the woman was intelligent and witty. However, what Rey mostly disliked was the way Ben kept glancing at her and Lando with the strangest expression on his features, causing Rey’s heart to sink to her stomach. Through the Force, she could feel the faint stirrings of a turmoil within him.

 

The conversation ended on a debate on whether democracy was something worth defending; Ben stating the case for order and more authoritarian rule within a responsible dose of representation, and Nyri stating direct democracy was the only way the galaxy could truly rule itself. She’d made such a good argument that Ben had been forced to stay silent as he sipped his wine and stared at Nyri behind the rim of his glass. Rey’s inner turmoil at what she was witnessing between Ben and Nyri reached a pinnacle of pain.

 

At the conclusion of the meal, Lando invited them to join him for some liquor. Chewie declined, stating he had to return to repair the ship. Rey, unable to take Ben staring at Nyri any longer, excused herself too, claiming she wasn't feeling well.

 

“I’ll just go back to our quarters, please excuse me,” she said, casting Ben a dark glance. To her surprise, he reacted immediately.

 

“What’s wrong?” he asked her.

 

“Nothing. I just need some air,” was her gruff reply, not looking at him. She made a curt polite nod at Lando and Nyri and thanks them for the meal before leaving.

 

As she was walking away in the white corridors, Kylo came running after her. He stopped her by putting a hand on her shoulder, forcing her to turn and look up at him. “Rey, what’s wrong? I can feel something’s not right. You can’t hide that from me, you know that.”

 

Rey heaved a sigh. She didn’t know why the sight of him, talking to his beautiful woman, had rattled her so much. She looked away from him and put her hand on her forehead, rubbing it. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

He tried to catch her gaze. “Please, tell me. You’re always asking what’s wrong with me.”

 

She decided to be truthful. “I-I just didn’t like the way you looked at her,” she confessed.

 

He blinked. “Looked at who?” he asked innocently.

 

The question only irritated her more. “Her. Nyri,” she stressed.

 

“What are you talking about? I wasn’t-”

 

Rey cut him off, deep insecurities getting the best of her. “I saw you! You were stripping her bare with your eyes!” she accused, full of indignation.

 

“Rey, no! I wasn't- you’re inventing things!” he defended himself.

 

“Oh now I'm inventing things?” she hissed in exasperation. “Why don’t you just leave me alone?” she snapped, walking away from him. He continued to follow her, trailing behind her.

 

“Rey - I don’t know what you’re talking about. Would you just stop and look at me,” he begged.

 

She stopped, faced him, and pushed a finger into his solid chest, eyes blazing. “I don’t know what’s worse - that you just out straight lie to me or pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about!” she shouted.

 

“I don’t have any interest in that woman!” he now roared back.

 

"I felt your turmoil through the Force, you're a liar!" she cried out, full of wrath. "I need to be alone for a while. Don't follow me!" she added, anger boiling at the surface of her words. She wheeled on her feet and stormed away.

 

“Rey!” he called out but she ignored him and continued her route, fists tight and arms moving rigidly on her sides, leaving Kylo utterly stunned.

 

What did I do? he asked himself miserably as he saw her race out of his sight. He understood she wanted to be alone but he was left astonished at her sudden anger toward him. His shoulders slumped in defeat. He had no idea why she didn't believe him since he was saying the truth. Although he was discomfited she was mad at him, the prideful part of him silently whispered she was being jealous, and the sole idea brought a tremendous sense of satisfaction to his ego. 

 

He was left with no choice but to go back to the dining room since Rey would probably kick him out of their quarters if he tried to sneak in. He could feel her anger through the Force and decided women were impossible.

 

When he reached the dining room again, Lando was smoking a cigar and enjoying the rest of the champagne. In the meanwhile, Nyri had left. Kylo sat across his long lost friend, who quirked an eyebrow.

 

“Something tells me you are having woman problems,” he said as if on cue.

 

Kylo grimaced and sighed but remained silent.

 

“Say what kid, why don’t we go to the living room and have a drink together, for the sake of good ol’times? I have some potent liquors, the type I’m sure even you, Mighty Emperor, have never tried,” he teased.

 

Against his better judgment, Kylo accepted the offer. Lando led him into the next-door room; a spacious, round-shaped living area supplied with plush small individual sofas around a coffee table. His host invited him to make himself comfortable while he went to fetch the liquor. Lando retrieved some glasses and a green, pre-Clone-wars looking bottle from out of a shelf. As Lando was uncorking it, Kylo examined the dusty, green bottle: it was a Savareen brandy. He knew of it only by name; it was a distilled seagrape liquor and was planet Savareen's main export.

 

“I’ve had this bottle for ages. But that liquor is like me: it gets better as the years go by,” chuckled Lando, as he poured the drink into some small shot glasses. He sat down and handed one to Kylo.

 

“How did you acquire that bottle? It seems very old indeed,” asked the younger one.

 

“Oh, maybe you don’t want to know,” answered the elder with a grin. He raised his glass and gulped it down straight. Kylo imitated his uncle and nearly ended up choking himself! Attempting to save his own dignity, he coughed roughly, making it seem as if the liquid had gone down the wrong way. The brandy was much stronger than he expected; it burnt down his throat and propelled him to full alertness.

 

“That’s a man’s drink, isn’t it?” smirked Lando as he served him again.

 

Kylo nodded, tear at the corner of his eyes, but he nevertheless accepted the refill of his glass.

 

Lando relaxed on the sofa and studied Kylo, who was sitting with slouched shoulders across from him. 

 

“Kid, why did you kill your old man?”

 

Kylo’s gaze lifted to his; he gaped at him, while all the color left his face. The question came at the most unexpected moment. In Lando’s eyes, he could now see only seriousness. Kylo sent Lando the most agonizing look before his chin dropped to his chest, breaking eye contact, his body crumpling in on itself. He stared at his full glass for a moment, then drank it up at once. It was so strong he shook his head, feeling the liquid leave a hot trail in his veins.

 

Lando leaned forward to serve him again but stayed persistently silent, waiting for him to answer.

 

Kylo swallowed, and despite all the liquids, his throat was as dry as the Tatooine desert. He pressed his lips, tried to say something, but his vocal chords seemed to have tied. 

 

In light of his lack of response, Lando spoke again. “Han was a good man. Maybe not a good father, but he was a good man.”

 

Still averting his gaze, Kylo sipped on the brandy again, hoping in the back of his mind that the liquor could give him the strength to speak. He rubbed his nose and took a deep, pained breath.

 

“I-I was tricked…into thinking killing him would ease my inner conflict,” his cracked voice answered, daring to meet Lando’s eye again and quickly adding. “I was wrong.”

 

“Was it Snoke?” the elder then questioned, eyebrow rising.

 

“Yes.”

 

Lando drank his liquor and thought for a while, pondering his next words.

 

“Han never understood this…power you have. The Force. He tried; trust me, he tried. And you, being so strong with the Force, were the testimony of this power. But it put a distance between you and him. He felt useless and powerless to help you with your inner struggles; he felt it was better if he didn’t put more burden on your shoulders, that you would be better off without him,” explained Lando. “But that doesn’t mean he didn’t love you.”

 

Kylo’s heart contracted. He had never considered his father’s attitude as a feeling of uselessness toward him, and that, as a non-force sensitive, Han couldn’t understand him; he’d always thought he just didn’t care. He realized now, now that it was too late, how wrong he had been. Guilt rose within his chest, poisoning his mind and heart. He lowered his head again, and the pain was so excruciating there were no words to express it.

 

“I know,” was all he could coax.

 

Lando then moved on the edge of his seat, pouring them each another serving.

 

“As you probably know, I once betrayed your father. Here. Where they carbon-froze him. I had no choice. I teamed up with your mom and Luke to save his ass in the end, but still, I regretted my actions for the rest of my life. I know what it means to live with guilt, Ben.”

 

Kylo's jaw clenched and he pressed his lips together nervously as he replayed the events that day; his lightsaber igniting and piercing his father's body when all he'd wanted was to help Kylo. As his thoughts filled with self-loathing, Lando spoke again.

 

“You can’t undo the past, kid. But you can make the present better. Learn from your mistakes. Feed your will to make things better from that guilt, there, inside your chest.”

 

Kylo’s head raised, eyebrow quirked. “How can I make the present better?” he asked with a hint of hopefulness.

 

Lando took a gulp of his liquor and leaned a bit more forward.

 

“You could start by swearing to yourself you won’t betray the people who love you. Fight for them. And make things better with your girl tonight. Open your heart and make sure she knows how you feel.”

 

Kylo’s thoughts went back to Rey and his heart sank. Through the Force, he could feel her pain. Was she crying? Because of him? He felt terrible and had no clue how to make the situation better. He drank his glass straight once again and soon, he felt a certain, but not unpleasant, dizziness.

                                                       


*

 

Rey suddenly awoke on the wide bed in their quarters. The room was pitch-black; night had fallen outside.

 

I must have fallen asleep, she thought, before realizing Ben had not come back to their room.

 

She remembered storming back to their quarters and crashing on the bed, giving in to the pain and crying her soul out. She’d cursed the man until she had no tears left, and finally drifted to sleep after the day's emotions. Fear of abandonment had crept into her bloodstream like venom and she’d reacted poorly upon seeing him just look at his other gorgeous woman that was everything Rey had once hoped to be. She was witty with a curvy, feminine body and a father who adored her. Jealousy had sprung from the darkest side of her heart.

 

And now, Ben was nowhere to be seen. Anxiety and panic washed over her. She reached for him instinctively with the Force. He was in the compound, surely, but his Force signature was...strange. She felt spikes of confusion, joy, regret; a mix of churning emotions she didn’t quite recognize in him.

 

She quickly rose from the bed, still wearing her white dress. Not even bothering to put some shoes on, she raced barefoot throughout the corridors of Cloud City, meeting no one. It was probably very late at night.

 

She opened the dining room door but there was no one in sight.

 

Where could he be? She tried to calm her burning nerves down and focus on his Force signature, when sudden laughs came out of the next room and she stilled, recognizing his voice.

 

What -?

 

She raced to the door and slipped into what was an adjacent living room. She froze on the spot as Lando and Kylo’s gaze both dashed toward the entrance, their laughter dying as they saw her.

 

Rey’s eyes instantly met Kylo’s, whose lips parted. 

 

“Darling!” exclaimed a flamboyant Lando, “Come and join us!” he moved his arm, warmly inviting her in with a huge smile on his face. “I was just giving the little starfighter a lesson about life!”

 

She came a bit shyly to sit on a sofa between both of them. She scanned the table where two bottles were laying, one of them empty and the other one missing half. She eyed Kylo skeptically; his hair was disheveled as if he’d run his hand through it too many times, and he observed her with small, bloodshot eyes and pink cheeks. He directed himself to Lando. “Don-t-call-me-that” he slurred, the reaction coming suspiciously late.

 

There was a beat of silence.

 

Rey’s eyebrow curved in rainbows as she realized. “Ben, are you drunk?”

 

He blinked and tried to straighten himself, but was dizzy and imbalanced, searching for his words.

 

“Am not,” he shot out suddenly.

 

Rey giggled. “You are,” she teased. 

 

Kylo tried to focus but was having the hardest time. At this point, he couldn't see straight and the world around him was spinning. Words died on his tongue as soon as he tried to speak and when he could finally vocalize something, it only resulted in him tripping over his tongue. He’d never felt so dizzy in his entire existence. He gave up trying to pretend.

 

"Totally wasted," he told her with blatant honesty, which now poured from him as much as the liquor had sunk into his cells.

 

Rey snorted. She'd never seen him drunk before, and she was strangely enjoying him losing all sense of control. It was so rare coming from a man who struggled to keep his barriers up all the time. She made a mental note to enjoy herself instead of scowling at him. In the back of her mind, she was also happy to see he'd obviously been having a chat with his long-lost "uncle" and that Nyri had disappeared. She secretly wondered what they'd been talking about.

 

Lando, who seemed thoroughly more composed than Ben - the years of experience could explain that - went to fetch something on the shelves. Kylo took advantage of the situation to attempt explaining himself, shame burning on his cheeks.

 

“Uncle wanwo kept pou-pouring that stuff into my gl-glass,” he stuttered her, which only resulted in Rey roaring of laughter.

 

“Uncle wanwo?” she repeated, laughing, her white smile from ear to ear.

 

“That’s what the little pirate called me when he was a kid,” now explained a joyful Lando, putting a glass in front of Rey and pouring her a drink as Kylo turned tomato red; it was the sweetest thing Rey had ever witnessed. “Here my dear, have a drink with us,” said Lando, pushing the glass toward her.

 

If Kylo wanted to protest, he found he was unable. He rubbed his eyes and grumpily laid back in the sofa in defeat, his huge legs opened before him as he held his empty glass carelessly. Lando was making him lose every shred of dignity he had left and he decided not to open his mouth again.

 

He peered at Rey, who was bringing the drink to her lips. She tried a sip and opened her eyes wide and coughed.

 

“Uf! That’s…strong!” she said, trying to gulp the liquid down. Now, she glanced at the empty bottles in front of her and understood why Ben was in this state.

 

“The best brandy in the Galaxy, from Savareen,” said Lando happily.

 

Lando and Rey started to chat about alcohols and different type of brandy, while Kylo stayed stubbornly quiet. Rey soon found out she knew nothing about alcohol. Stars, the first time she’d taste wine was on Canto Bight with Ben. The liquids burned her throat and she soon found out that only two glasses of said liquor already made her tongue twist. She dared not to think of how Ben was feeling.

 

When she glanced over at him again, he was eyeing her in the most pitiful state; his puppy-dog eyes were loving but full of shame. She had the distinct sensation he wanted to say something to her.

 

“Why don’t I bring you to bed, big boy?” she said, laying a caring hand on his lap.

 

He reacted slowly with a nod and unfocused stare.

 

Lando laughed out loudly again. “Drink some water before you sleep little pirate, or tomorrow is going to be the worst day of your life!” he teased as he stored away the bottles. “I’m off to bed myself, it’s late and I’m too old too for this. You'll take care of him, right?” Lando cast a glance at Rey, who acknowledged. 

 

“Good night, Lando,” she answered, before getting to her feet, slightly lightheaded herself. She took a step toward Kylo, who tried to stand up but ended up crashing back into the sofa. Rey had to refrain a giggle.

 

She lifted his arm and wrapped it around her shoulder. “Let me help you,” she said, “Come on, try and get up.” She tugged on his arm.

 

Kylo had never felt so embarrassed. He bent forward and helped himself up, while Rey tucked his arm around her, helping him to keep balance. When he finally got up, the room spun under his feet. He was so dizzy he couldn’t walk.

 

“Kriff…” he murmured and rubbed his eyes; Rey glanced up at him with a grin. He stumbled and staggered, wincing and grumbling faintly, as she led him through the corridors in the dead of the night. Only small night-lamps showed her the way. 

 

When they finally reached the quarters, she helped him onto the bed and lit a small light on the night table. She was about to go fetch some water, but, in a tremendous effort, he grabbed her wrist.

 

“Do-don’t leave me,” he slurred, “I-I’m sorry.”

 

Rey sat on the edge of the bed, watching him closely. “Sorry for being a drunk womanizer?” she deadpanned.

 

His face broke in a painful expression at her words and she regretted them immediately.

 

"Rey- I, I was watching her, yes…" he started, and Rey's heart felt as if someone had struck an arrow right through it before he continued. "But not because of what you think," he finished slowly.

 

She creased an eyebrow. “What were you thinking, Ben?” she asked, her tone softening this time.

 

“I was looking at her…and I was thinking about what it would be like to have a daughter…with you,” he explained sloppily.

 

The icey tightness in Rey’s stomach melted instantly. If she knew anything about alcohol, it was that it loosened one’s tongue; drunk people always told the truth. She felt so ashamed by her previous assumptions she couldn’t voice a word. She’d been sure he was inspecting Nyri, but she'd assumed for all the wrong reasons.

 

Kylo felt her inner turmoil through the Force, thus giving him strength to continue. He raised a dizzy hand and cupped her cheek as she watched him from above in the dim yellow light of the room. She put her small hand over his broad one, caressing it softly.

 

“If I could…I’d escape this endless war, kidnap you to a desert planet, and make a baby with you,” he confessed truthfully, opening his heart wide to her and dropping every semblance of control and inner barriers.

 

Rey stilled. Her throat constricted under the revelation. Her jaw quivered without her wanting it to. Happiness and warmth erupted in flames throughout her whole body. Eyes brimming with threatening tears, she wrapped her arms around him and buried her nose in the crook of his strong neck.

 

“I’m the one who should be sorry, I distrusted you. I’m so sorry. I-I love… I love you” she conceded, attempting not to burst out crying under the weight of her guilt and the power of his confession.

 

Lando’s words flashed in Kylo’s mind.

 

Don’t betray the people who love you. Fight for them. Make things right. Speak your heart.

 

Maybe he didn’t know how to love, but at least he could tell her everything he truly wanted from her; with her.

 

“I know,” he said, patting her head and wrapping his arms around her frail body firmly, “I’m sorry... I’m such a mess, but…” he hesitated a split second, “I-I realized, I mean - I’d like a family with you,” he whispered, his tongue echoing the growing feeling in his heart.

 

Rey let tears of joy invade her eyes. He had never told her he loved her, but this was more significant and potent than any other words would ever be. He wanted a family with her; it what she had always most wished for. A family of her own, where she would be loved unconditionally.

 

She untied herself from him and bore her eyes into his dark, tired ones, thanking him silently. Then, she grabbed his lips, ignoring the strong scent of alcohol and hungrily thrust her tongue into his mouth, pushing his head deeper into the mattress. Despite the alcohol and his drunken state, Kylo responded to her eagerly, his heart content to see that his truthfulness had paid off.

 

Opening his heart had not been such a bad idea after all. Uncle Lando was right.

 

Rey's tongue circled his ferociously as if he were water in a dry desert. She had a sudden urge to assault him, lust and love mixing together in her bloodstream. She let go of his mouth and tugged on his belt, untying it and shoving it on the ground, before urging him to take off his tunic. He staggeringly obeyed, and she helped him, yanking on his tunic above his head. She never took her clothes off so quickly in her entire life. Soon, her cold skin laid on the hot skin of his angular chest, and she laid soft kisses everywhere. She felt the bulge in his pants start to harden under her ministrations.

 

“Rey…” he croaked lazily, as the world was still spinning a bit around him.

 

“What is it?” she asked, without stopping to kiss and lick his god-like body.

 

“I-I don’t know if I can make love to you…”

 

She stopped and eyed him from below, her lips curving into the ghost of a mischievous grin.

 

“You don’t have to,” she whispered languorously, trailing down his chest again. Kylo watched her quizzically as she unzipped his pants. His eyes rounded like death stars when he finally understood what she was about to do, just as she started licking and wrapping her tongue around his now rock-hard cock.  

 

The rest of the universe soon sank into sweet oblivion.

 

Opening his heart had definitely been a good advice.

 

Chapter Text

Kylo decided there was nothing as orgasmic as having Rey’s mouth tightly wrapped around his cock, while she pumped his shaft slowly and threw him the dirtiest glances while moaning profusely. Even his wildest fantasies had vanished like smoke next to this. His body had turned into melted lust and since his drunken state had the secondary effect of erasing all inner barriers, he was now whimpering loudly under her ministrations.

 

She stopped, and soon, she trailed his cock up and down, rolling her tongue all around the sides, before licking his tip and taking it into her mouth so slowly he was about to scream.

 

Fuck, Rey…” he moaned in pleasure, unable to unlock his eyes from her.

 

She then eagerly but cautiously took his entire hardness in her mouth causing her cheeks to hollow. Blessing the Force she was careful with her teeth, Kylo threw his head backwards into the pillow, and panted shamelessly.

 

“Yes, fuck yes…don’t stop.”

 

How had she learned to actually master this so fast? She had only given him head once, but she now sucked him with such dexterity and skill he was about to lose his kriffin’ mind. In his drunkenness, he recalled how easy it was for him to lick her because of their Force Bond. He’d never cherished their bond more than in this precise instant.

 

He applied a huge effort to lift his head again, and straightening just slightly, he rested on his elbows. She was palming his cock a bit harder while her tongue rolled and slurped all of him. It was wet and sloppy and her grunts of pleasure turned him on so much he could have come instantly in her mouth.

 

The bed started shaking under his uncontrolled Force power and Rey licked him upward before letting go of his flesh. “Ben, control yourself, we don’t want another earthquake. Just imagine Uncle wanwo’s face if he knew you destroyed the city because you were getting your cock sucked off,” she teased with a glint of mischief and Kylo eye-rolled. Indeed, that was the last thing he needed. His drunken state made it hard to focus, but he managed to keep his powers in check, granting him, at the same time, the ability to direct his attention on what this beautiful woman was doing to him.

 

She continued her ministrations on his hardness with such eagerness it was making his head spin. Through their bond, he could feel how much she was enjoying him. She peered up at him, eyes blazing with passion, while his cock was half-way thrusted in her mouth and Kylo had to apply all his willpower to prevent him from spurting his liquids inside her delectable mouth at that very moment.

 

All of a sudden, his brain lit with an idea.

 

“Why don’t you sit on my face?”

 

Without releasing him at first, she glanced up at him, bewildered.

 

"Hmphf?" she tried to question but ended up almost choking on him. Her lips parted from his cock. "What?" she queried with more dignity.

 

“I wanna lick your pussy” he slurred “Come sit over my mouth while you suck my cock,” he pleaded, almost as if this it was the new horizon of his life.

 

Rey blinked. Several times.

 

Oh.

 

It took her a split second to understand what exactly he had in mind, and she felt heat pool on her cheeks. Prudishness rushed in her bloodstream at the idea of sitting on him like that. They’d never done this before, however, she never refused a new challenge. She launched forward, sat over his cock, rubbed herself over him teasingly before she grabbed his lips into a filthy kiss. Their tongues intertwined passionately; the scent of his arousal on her tainted lips filled Kylo’s nostrils, while her chin, covered with his juices, sent a shiver of pleasure and anticipation in his spine. While they kissed, she awkwardly removed her panties, the only garment she hadn’t taken off because she’d been certain he was in no state to do anything else but being sucked on.

 

Her lips parted from his with a loud smack, and she turned around and crawled over him, settling her ass right over his face with both legs framing his head. 

 

Rey chuckled as she realized Kylo had forgotten a slight detail. Her ass was in perfect position but there was no way her mouth could reach his cock. She bent her head down, peering at him underneath her when he was just about to aim for her pussy.

 

“I hate to kill the party but I think we have a problem, mister overgrown tree,” she teased, “I can’t reach you.”

 

“What?” he asked, eyebrows rising in rainbows. “Oh.”

 

His crestfallen expression matched the definition of epic. He pressed his lips while his brow frowned, searching for a solution, before reaching for the pillows gathered on the bed.

 

“Wait, I got this,” he piled up the cushions under his neck, allowing him to straighten so he could reach her better. He would have to bend his neck a bit, but it was worth every neck problem in the universe.

 

He lifted her pert behind up like a feather, and Rey was grateful she was flexible. He flattened a hand on her lower back and arched her body, almost as if he were to take her from behind. He accommodated himself between her thighs again, shoulders resting on the bunch of pillows behind him. When she peered back, she could only see the black locks on the top of his head. His broad hands now roamed on her ass, caressing her delicate skin gently and offering her balance in the process.

 

He’d seen her pussy from many angles in the last past weeks, however, this position was entirely new to both of them, and Kylo marveled at his own idea. He squeezed her ass and parted her buttocks, giving him the most amazing view of her pink, velvety pussy. He licked his lips impatiently before his neck reached forward, long tongue plunging straight into her. 

 

Rey unwillingly froze over the long, slow lick he gave her, causing her to shiver and moan under the intense sensation of his hot tongue over her already wet folds.

 

“Oh, yes,” she whispered encouragingly, wrapping her mind over his idea with much more enthusiasm now.

 

Kylo buried his mouth into her folds, suckling gently as she attempted to return her attentions to his hardness. She extended her body forward a bit more, and ran her tongue over his shaft again, wetting it with her saliva, before taking him into her mouth -

 

- and Kylo released a strangled whine.

 

“Yes…suck it hard, my dirty scavenger,” he begged obscenely.

 

And she did - her right hand rested on the bed while her other pumped his cock from the base, stroking his flesh upward while her mouth worked on the higher part. Kylo moved his decadent tongue again on her pussy, this time scraping her clit and suckling gently on it with sloppy sounds, causing Rey to grunt.

 

Through their Force Bond, their pleasure was intensified and maximized, for neither knew where their own pleasure started nor ended; they were one burning flame of lust and desire, the carnal decadence of the newfound position attacking their senses, catapulting all sense of inhibition into oblivion.

 

His lips, slippery with her arousal, closed around her clit repeatedly. Kylo didn’t know if he felt dizzier with lust or alcohol. He wanted to devour her. He slapped her ass, once, and then twice and Rey’s low rumble of approval aroused him even more.

 

Rey also keened for more of everything. His eagerness in eating her out made her feel as if she were the last star in the universe. His cock had become durasteel and she bobbed her mouth up and down the bloated veins, enjoying his thickness and how salty pre-cum leaked from his tip, which she smeared all over with her tongue. Feeling through the force what he wanted, she started to suck and stroke him harder and faster. His desperate whimpers increased, the low vibration of his voice in her folds sending a shiver along her spine.

 

With a loud noise, he released her pussy from his ravenous mouth and she felt him roll his head backwards and thrust his hips forward.

 

“Fuck…it’s so good, please…,” he entreated with unabashed hunger. 

 

Instinctively, her hand resting on the bed trailed along his thigh to reach his balls, and she gently cupped and massage them, never stopping her hot tongue sliding around him and pumping his shaft.

 

“Oh fuck, yes,” he croaked.

 

Her hand over his most sensitive parts provided him with the final stimulation he needed - Rey felt his stomach, cock and balls tense and tighten beneath her touch. He sinfully growled her name before his whole body quivered and jolted; thick ropes of cum escaped his tip right into her mouth. Rey had been mentally preparing herself - but she’d failed to estimate the amount he released - she swallowed half of it - almost choking in the process - while the other half dripped out of her mouth onto her chin and his cock. She freed him from her mouth with a pop sound and helped him ride the wave of his orgasm by gently stroking his drenched flesh. With her free hand, she wiped his cum off her chin. She would never admit it out loud, but the dirtiness of the act was thrilling. 

 

Kylo panted under her, and before she had time to say anything, he grabbed her ass again, sank into the bed, flattened his head against the mattress and pulled her over his mouth. Rey gasped and straightened, settling herself over his face and resting her hands on his muscular abs for balance.

 

"Your turn," he mumbled before he gripped her hips and tugged her down. His tongue dove into her again, and he lapped her slickness several times, making her whimper and shudder. She bit her lips hard as he focused his attention on her clit, for he knew it was her most sensitive part. His tongue flickered over it fervently, emitting wet, obscene sounds.

 

“Oh yes…there, please,” she begged hotly.

 

Lust and desire increased dramatically as he slurped her skin and squeezed her ass, her body trembling and hovering over his face. He licked her over and over again, causing Rey’s head to tip back, her mouth parting and locking into an o-shape. It was so good she could barely keep herself sitting up.

 

Instinctively, she rolled her hips over his lips, causing Kylo to hum in approval; he stuck his tongue out, letting her enjoy herself over him, as her rocking movement allowed her to stroke her clit directly onto his pink flesh. 

 

Force sake, she swore his mouth was made to be sat on.

 

“Ben…” she sobbed helplessly. “Fuck, now I want your cock inside me,”

 

He tightened his mouth around her clit, suckling loudly on it, and let her go for a split second and Rey winced.

 

“Tell me what you want, my dirty girl,” he entreated lustfully before his hands grabbed her ass, immobilizing her. His hand journeyed to her pussy and he slid two fingers into her core, making her groan.

 

At this point, Rey was drowning in desire. She closed her eyes as the thin walls of her barriers were about to break at any moment, she tried to roll again onto his mouth but his tight grip prevented her - reminding her he was the one in control.

 

“Tell me,” he commanded before he took his drenched fingers out of her, and his velvety lips suckled and lapped her sensitive flesh again, tongue rolling hungrily over her clit.

 

“Fuck, I-I want to you to take me to that desert planet - ah!” she cried out, incapable of focusing for more than two seconds - “and-and I want you to fuck me and fill me so much that my belly grows with your child,” her voice trailed “Ben…fuck it’s so good,” she moaned as the mental picture of them fucking over and over made its way to her dirty mind, and she pictured him taking her in every possible position, filling her over and over with his fat cock. Unwillingly, her limbs shivered and quivered under her fantasies. 

 

The mental stimulation broke into a ravaging bliss of pleasure. Her pussy clenched over his mouth and soon, spasms invaded her like a wild electric wire. Her heart was about to stop, air failed her lungs. “Ben…Ben,” she whined hotly as she threw her head backwards, reaching her climax with a loud, long cry. Kylo never ceased his ministrations, helping her attain her peak.

 

At last, her shivers ebbed away, and she took a deep breath she’d been holding for too long. Panting, she moved forward, freeing Ben’s face from her ass, and came crashing next to him onto the mattress, still catching her breath. He opened his arms wide for her to nestle into his embrace and she willingly laid there, letting the coolness of the night caress her scorching hot body.

 

“I swear, your tongue is the incarnation of sin,” she declared breathlessly.

 

He tilted his head to the side, “So I take it that wasn’t such a bad idea?”

 

She giggled on his chest. “I absolutely hated it,” she teased, chuckling.

 

His gaze lingered on her white, broad smile. It was a half-moon in the shadows of the night.

 

“So, you want me to fuck you until I get you pregnant?” he taunted, coming back to what she’d confessed.

 

It earned him an indignant slap on his solid chest but her nervous laugh made him smirk. She looked away, seriousness now drawing on her features.

 

“I mean…I don’t think it’s time for us to even think of children. Hell, in the middle of this war?...” she trailed off, sadness now dripping in her words. 

 

Kylo pondered what she said. "I know…but I mean…we, well, we've had a lot of sex already...," he implied.

 

She bit her lips as if she were on the brink of confessing something important. She looked away. "When I was with the Rebellion, protocol is to have everyone on birth control. I have an implant," she said, showing her wrist, which showed a small scar he'd never noticed. "I mean, my body rejected it at first…but they put another one, and this one seemed to work," she explained.

 

Rey was stunned when his facial expression completely dropped. This man was as transparent as crystalline water. He’d been genuinely hit by the revelation.

 

“Oh,” was all he managed to mumble, looking utterly disappointed.

 

She felt a strong urge to appease him. “Ben…when we are ready, I-I’ll have it removed. I do want a family with you. It’s what I most want,” she stressed emphatically, leaving him no doubt about her intentions. He’d been so opened with her and it was so rare; the least she could do in return was to be honest with him, to set away her own fears of rejection. She launched her head forward to press her lips to his and through the Force, she felt how her words had soothed his stormy and gloomy thoughts.

 

She rested her head in his arms and her eyes brushed him like a caress.

 

He contemplated her in the midst of the night, her skin bathed by a dim, bluish light. “I still can’t believe that from all men in the galaxy you would chose me,” he whispered tiredly.

 

“And yet, I did,” she said, snuggling against him. “I found you again.”

 

His lips arched into a small smile. “It was always you…Just you.”

 

She noticed his eyelids were closing under exhaustion.

 

“Goodnight Ben.”

 

She wrapped her arm around his broad chest and heard him mumble a barely inaudible goodnight. She sank her nose into his shoulder and both of them flew to Morpheus' kingdom.

 

 

*

 

 

The next morning, Kylo tried to open his eyelids, but they pointedly refused to obey. His body felt like lead, as if he hadn’t moved for the whole night. Finally, he managed to blink lazily a couple of times, before frowning and groaning, for the light sent an electric jolt to his brain. He felt an intense pain in his head and eye sockets as if someone had plainly impaled a lightsaber right through his skull. He licked his dry lips; his mouth was thick and doughy as if he hadn't drunk water in a galactic year.

 

Ugh.

 

His hand lifted to his eyes and skull, and he rubbed his throbbing temples. When he managed to open his eyes fully, the white bedroom felt strangely out of place. 

 

Where am I ? He thought, disoriented, before memories of the previous day resurfaced.

 

Oh. Right. Cloud City. Lando. Rey.

 

Scattered images of Rey, sucking his cock and rubbing her pussy thoroughly over his mouth and telling him the dirtiest things he’d ever heard, as well as Uncle Lando’s hands filling his glass over and over with that Savareen brandy came back to his memory.

 

Kriff, I didn’t drink any water yesterday, I’m such an idiot, he complained to himself, remembering how his brain had definitely told him not to accept Lando’s offer, yet he had, with the predictable consequences. He slowly straightened in the sheets.

 

He scanned his surroundings again and realized not only was he completely naked but Rey wasn’t next to him in bed.

 

Maybe she’d gone for breakfast?

 

Unhurriedly, he sat on the edge of the bed, rubbed his eyes and passed his palm over his face, before gathering the courage to stand up. The world seemed blurry and unsteady as he walked to the ‘fresher. He didn’t bother to dress, exposing all his intimate parts.

 

Upon entering it, he froze as he saw his reflection in the mirror.

 

He looked...like shit, for a lack of a better term. His eyelids were half-opened, with deep grey-reddish rims, his face was bloated and his hair was tangled with locks sticking out in different spots, while his lips were cracked and dry. He cursed underneath his breath and fetched a glass in a cupboard, filling it with water, gulping it down and repeating the process several times. He could have drunk a whole lake his mouth was so dry.

 

He heard a sound coming from the door opening in the living room, and wiped his chin and grabbed a towel, hastily wrapping it around his waist. In the mirror, he saw Rey’s reflection pass by toward the bedroom. He turned around, trying as best as he could to appear casual.

 

Rey glanced into the room but upon encountering it empty, she veered her head swiftly and met his eye.

 

“Hey…” she said with a wide smile on her face, before closing the distance between them.

 

Despite his pitiful state, Kylo couldn't prevent himself from thinking how beautiful she appeared in the morning light, her smile now as white as the dress she was wearing.

 

She came to stand before him. “You finally awoke; I was beginning to think you’d sleep the whole day. How is the best pussy licker in the galaxy after that drunken night?” she teased with a grin and a wink.

 

Kylo snorted. He felt heat rush to his cheeks. He decided to take the bait.

 

“Do you want me to praise your cock sucking skills?” he mused in retaliation, while the ghost of a smirk formed on his plush lips.

 

It was her turn to chuckle nervously and she quickly changed the subject.

 

“You were about to take a shower I presume?” she queried, cocking her head to the side. “You look dreadful.”

 

 “So licking your pussy until you screamed my name wasn’t enough to forgive me for getting wasted?” he deadpanned.

 

The corner of her lips menaced to crack into a widespread laugh at any moment; she flattened a hand on his chest, pushing him teasingly.

 

“I’m not scolding you, you big moofmilker.” Her expression then turned serious. “Keido has made contact through the comm’link,” she explained, “I came to tell you.”

 

His tired eyes rounded. Keido! How could he have forgotten! With the previous day’s succession of events and emotions, he had completely forgotten to check on his Knights upon arrival on Cloud City. Bitter shame filled his chest.

 

“Kriff! I can’t believe I forgot. How are they?” he asked hastily.

 

"They made it. Their ship has suffered severe damage though. They were able to reach a spaceport but they need to change ships. They are awaiting your orders."

 

He let out of sigh of relief. “Oh good. When I find that traitorous, Hux I’m going to eviscerate him,” he said, rage bubbling in his blood and he tightened a fist, before wincing in pain. The ache in his head was like a hammer on his skull. He rubbed his temple again, eyebrows creasing in.

 

Rey laughed straight in his face. “Maybe the mighty Master of the Knights of Ren should take a shower to ease his hangover first? It seems your head hurts, your highness?” she cackled and mocked.

 

He shot her a puppy-dog glance.

 

“Off you go,” she said as if she were addressing a child.

 

Grumbling to himself, he ran a hand in his hair, turned around and started the shower while she stepped out of the 'fresher.

 

“I’ll go tell Lando you will join us. It’s already time for lunch,” she said casually.

 

“Lunch? I-I slept that long?”

 

She turned and nodded to him. “Come to the dining room after you finish.” She disappeared once more leaving him to enjoy the benefits of cold water on his aching body. 

 

*

 

He emerged from their quarters a renewed man. He marveled on the power of cold water; it was truly a miracle, although the persistent headache reminded him of the remaining alcohol in his blood. He cursed himself for not being able to Force heal himself and being too coward as to ask Rey if she could do anything. He had his pride, after all.

 

As soon as he stepped into the dining room, he was greeted by a jovial voice.

 

“Little pirate! How’s the hangover doing? I thought you’d never make it to lunch!” cheered Lando.

 

If it hadn’t been for Rey and Nyri’s gaze darting straight at him in the doorway, Kylo would have face-palmed. Couldn’t he just stop being such a flamboyant eccentric? Was he ever in a bad mood, especially with a hangover?

 

“How come you don’t have a hangover?” he spat back, puzzled as he walked around the long table.

 

“Wisdom of the years, Ben, I drank lots of water before sleeping,” he declared.

 

Well, I drank other things yesterday, he thought mischievously, flashing a glance at Rey, who innocently indicated the seat next to her. He grumbled before taking a seat next to Rey and giving a polite and very controlled nod at Nyri. No more misunderstandings, he hoped.

 

Lando invited everyone to start. Kylo had to admit that, to his favor, the whiffs of the food on the table made his stomach groan and he realized how hungry he truly was. To say he’d suffered after having eaten raw fish and green milk on Ahch-to for weeks was an understatement.

 

He eagerly grabbed a piece of bread before him and dug into a wouldn't of meat with his fork. He brought the bread to his mouth before his jaw stopped chewing at once.

 

“Is this…Five blossom bread? From Naboo?” he inquired to his guest.

 

“Such fine taste. I knew you’d recognize that one. You loved it as a kid!” smiled Lando.

 

Under the bread’s flavor, ancient but vivid memories came back to his mind from the closed doors of time. Five blossom bread was made from a special kind of flour mixture on Naboo. It was served only on rare and special occasions on the planet but was also sold in certain parts of the Galaxy.  Ben loved it because it had the taste of the sun; the wheat was grown in sunny springs, thus its name. His mom was particularly fond of it because it shared its origination with her mother, a former Queen of Naboo.

 

An image of Leia crouching down before him and handing him a piece of the precious bread in her soft, pale hand back on Chandrila when he was just a boy came flashing back before his eyes. It was a sunny, bright day, and he remembered his laughter and joy when he saw the prized food, launching forward to take it as his mom stroked his locks. Then, another memory arose. He now remembered greeting his father, coming home with a loaf of bread in a special cardbox from one of his trips. Han always brought some home…as an adult, Kylo had focused his rage on how it was only a payback for abandoning him; a guilty bribe. Now, he understood it was Han's way to cheer him up for not being able to relate to him. His heart constricted under the memories and his eyes prickled; the forgotten images reminded him of a time which had long gone with the wind.

 

Rey’s hand landing on his arm kicked him back to the present. His unfocused gaze lifted to hers. Shaking his head, he then directed it toward Lando. There was no way this was a coincidence. The fact that Lando, who was the only connection left to his childhood, had taken the time to fetch the precious bread for him spread a new, warm feeling in his closed heart, a feeling he had a hard time to pin down: gratitude.

 

“You still like it, don’t you?” asked Lando, eyebrow rising in inquiry, while he chewed on a piece of the bread himself.

 

“Ye-yes. I do. It was always my favorite.” He eyed the piece in his hand. “I haven’t eaten this in…years,” he confessed quietly. As an adult, he had pointedly refused to eat it, for it reminded him of events he didn’t wish to recall. But now…everything was different.

 

There was a long echo of silence, broken only by the sounds of clinking silverware and chewing, before he spoke again. "I need to go to Naboo," he said.

 

Lando and Nyri’s looked at each other, as if their ears hadn’t registered the information correctly. “Naboo?” they both said at unison.

 

“Yes. I need to go there.”

 

Nyri frowned, grabbed her chin and rubbed it. “If I am not mistaken, one of your family’s side comes from there.”

 

“Indeed, yes. My grandmother, I believe, was Queen of Naboo just before the Clone Wars,” he stated.

 

“You must know that since the proclamation of the new Empire, many of Palpatine’s followers have gathered again on his home planet, causing many disturbances to the current Queen. If you go there, you may find trouble as you are both the Empire’s heir and a Naboo Royal Family's direct descendant. Your appearance there would not go unnoticed by the Empire,” warned the young woman.

 

“Yes, we’d have to be discreet,” he said, more to himself than anything else.

 

Lando intervened. “Speaking of which, the Falcon has been repaired. Chewie has been supervising everything. I put my best technicians on it.”

 

Upon hearing this intel, Kylo directed a glance towards Rey, who had a stern expression on her face. “It’s your decision, really,” she stressed, placing a hand over his and remembering how important it was for him to discover the truth about his family - about his grandfather and grandmother more specifically. As someone who had grown up not knowing anything about her family, she could relate to Ben’s situation and the fact he’d been lied to all his life. Despair for wanting to know the truth was a consuming need, a burning flame that never extinguished, as she’d painfully learned. The ghost of her own past sometimes still assailed her dreams and haunted her like a hidden monster under the bed at night. However, having found Ben again, in this life slowly wooed away the ghosts. Despite his faults and inclination to the dark, she found the sense of belonging she'd always desired. And, even if he had never explicitly told her, her heart knew how much he loved her. It was enough for her to let the past die and look toward her future with him, for what she was meant to be.

 

Kylo pondered their options. He knew the trip would be dangerous, but his pride whispered that there was no way he’d let Hux keep him from getting the information he needed. If Hux chased them over there, he had no fear in facing him; Rey was the strongest Force user he knew aside from him. Together they were invincible.

 

“We’ll go,” he declared firmly.

 

Rey’s eye lit with a newfound glint of determination. “Okay. We better contact Keido then.”

 

Nyri cut the couple off. “I can make preliminary contact with the Royal house. I happen to know someone who works closely with the Queen. He’s her economic advisor and a schoolmate of mine. He will help you get in touch with the Queen without awakening suspicions. You will have to travel undercover though.”

 

Rey glanced at her. “Oh that would be wonderful, Thank you, Nyri,” said Rey, forgetting all her previous dislike of the woman. Her jealousy had prevented her from seeing the good heart within her and she internally scolded herself for being so weak and silly. 

 

Lando’s lips broke into a smile. “See! She knows half the galaxy! Listen, if you need men, I can make some arrangements for you. Safe, reliable assistants of mine that can go with you on the trip,” he offered kindly.

 

Kylo addressed him. “I usually would decline that offer, but given the present circumstances on Naboo, I will accept.” He already had in mind to keep Rey safe in case things went wrong. He could leave her with Lando’s men while he took care of that treacherous ex-general of his. And his former Knights. 

 

“Deal, kid!”

 

Chapter Text

The familiar engines of the Falcón roared as they dashed into hyperspace; their destination the Mid Rim. Sitting behind Ben and Chewie, who were piloting and chatting about the ship’s repairs, Rey’s gaze became unfocused and her mind drifted away, back to the last couple of days.

 

They had prepared their departure in advance with Lando and Nyri’s help. Nyri had contacted her friend, Valenkys Kiyanu, the permanent economic advisor to Queen Syoo and part of the Royal Advisory Council. Valenkys seemed like a very charming young man in the holos. He immediately informed his majesty that Kylo Ren, aka, Ben Organa Solo desired an audience with the Queen. It turned out the Queen was excited with the news. She was eager to meet the former Emperor in person, but warned that they should take precautions: the Empire’s partisans had been causing trouble in different points of Naboo. In order to avoid any more problems, Kylo and Rey would have to disguise their identities upon arrival to Theed. They would be welcomed in the outskirts of the city by Valenkys, who would escort them to the Royal Palace.

 

Lando’s personal tailor had fashioned the pair new outfits and eye masks to hide their faces. He’d taken particular care to make both of them appear as royal as possible, repeating many times to Ben not to forget his noble ascendency. It revived his already pompous aristocratic side, causing Rey several outbursts of laughter. Lifting his chin haughtily, Kylo had called her a “desert rat” in retaliation with a smug, satisfied grin. Some things never changed, although Rey had taken a liking to their birth circumstances. It reminded her that their bond went beyond political and social differences; the thought sent a wave of warmth to her chest.

 

Yet, there was something she was forced to hide from Ben. When he was sleeping, she had secretly talked to Lando about the state of the Resistance and its faith, explaining what had been happening since Crait. She was grateful that Lando didn’t ask why she - a Resistance member - was with Ben, the former Emperor, her supposed sworn enemy. Lando seemed to understand that the Force had its own agenda and never entered those uncomfortable waters. He’d also explained he never received Leia’s distress signal from Crait and was devastated when he heard the news of her death. Had he known, he would have personally gone to the rescue with his best troops.

 

The new information was heartwarming to Rey since it showed his loyalty to the Princess. Furthermore, it had given her the perfect opportunity to ask him for help. Together, they agreed upon a plan which included very little involvement from Ben. Rey’s divided loyalties made the task ahead difficult; however, the Force whispered she had to act on behalf of her friends. She made a mental note to send a message to them upon arriving on Naboo. She really felt terrible about —

 

“Rey?” Ben’s low voice snapped her out of her inner thoughts. Her eyes darted up to his. “Is everything all right?”

 

She blinked. Had he…had she actually let her walls down so he could read her thoughts? She tried to fake nonchalance and promptly changed the subject. “Yes, of course. Have you made contact with Keido?”

 

“Yes, before boarding. He’ll meet us on Naboo after changing ships and verifying that this time they are not being tracked.”

 

“That sounds like a good plan. We don’t want Hux all over Naboo. Are the others following us?” she inquired.

 

The “others” were Lando’s men, trailing closely behind in their own ship. They’d been assigned to ensure the couple's safety. Lando’s personal chief of staff was sent on the mission and the Cloud City administrator made sure that contact channels remained opened with Rey in case they needed it.

 

“Yes. They made contact as we moved into hyperspace,” answered Kylo, focusing on the controls.

 

The rest of the journey was spent chit-chatting about Naboo. Chewie explained it was one of the most beautiful planets he knew of. Rey asked if Ben had ever been there, and to her utmost surprise, he hadn’t. It turned out Leia hadn’t been so keen on talking about that part of her past to Ben; or at least, she’d never openly talked to him about it. Rey wondered why his family had kept so many secrets from him. A part of her wished they wouldn't discover any truths that would affect Ben adversely, while another part of her rejoiced he would finally find answers.

 

Eventually a high pitched alarm indicated them they were getting close. 

 

Kylo warned their friends through radio about their arrival and disengaged the hyperdrive of the Falcon, whose speed decreased suddenly. The bright blue planet of Naboo emerged out of black space. They all admired it for several seconds before Kylo and Chewie made a dive for the capital.  

 

The Falcon glided over the planet’s landscapes and Rey was more and more stunned as the minutes went by.

 

Beautiful was an understatement. This planet was straight out of a children’s fairytale. Like the ones she’d heard mothers tell their children back on Jakku, when she spied them gathering around the campfires at night. Naboo matched all the images of those old legendary stories: the enchanted, green-hill slopes and landscapes, the vast swampy lakes and cascades and, last but not least, the perfect visage of Theed. The picturesque city displayed shining rose-granite buildings and castles, colorful green rooftops and streets with banners flying in the wind. Waterfalls only added to the magic of it all. Rey couldn’t close her mouth; now she understood why Lando had heavily insisted on them appearing royal.

 

Rey noticed even Ben seemed impressed; he was gaping openly at the magnificence of Theed, lips parted in awe.

 

So this is the land and the people my grandmother ruled and fought for, Kylo thought with a rush of pride. He knew nothing about her, but the grandeur of the place swayed him more than his aristocratic blood would care to admit.

 

He cautiously flew the Falcon over the Capital city, to the outskirts where Valenkys had told him to land. Indeed, the counselor had spoken of an alternative landing area that he found soon enough, disguised within the heavy forest just outside the city. Red lights had been turned on especially for their arrival, making the place easy to locate within the lush green trees.

 

As soon as they landed, Kylo got to his feet, nodding to Rey to join him. They unpacked two suitcases, and Chewie growled he would take them.

 

Kylo aimed for the exit ramp but stopped upon opening it.  He glanced at Rey.

 

She picked a disturbance in his Force signature. “What is it?” she queried, tilting her neck and landing a hand on his broad arm.

 

His adam apple moved under his swallowing. “I’m a bit nervous,” he answered truthfully. “How do I look?” he asked, as he already had on Cloud City, scrubbing the dirt off his ankle long black cape. His outfit was strikingly similar to his usual outfits; he’d asked Lando to replicate his old ones. These, however, were made out of the finest material and his tunic was longer than usual, down to his knee. His cape was also lighter, and flowed more behind him, as Lando’s did. A personal touch from “uncle wanwo.”

 

“Ben, at this point, I’m more worried about the Queen falling for you than anything else,” she joked. Her sweet laugh immediately alleviated his nervousness and made his cheeks burn. “You’ll be fine. I should be the one worried,” she scoffed, pressing her lips and looking down at herself. She opted for a grey long jacket over a creamy jedi-like tunic which fell to her knees and was adjusted by a double belt from where her lightsaber hung. Tight grey pants and high boots made of the finest cognac colored leather added to her Jedi master-like appearance. After all, she was a Jedi. Not some imitation of a countess.

 

He smiled at her; his crooked, imperfect perfect smile. “You look like a moonshine in a dark night,” he complimented her. “My moonshine,” he added with affection. It was now Rey’s lips that curved shyly, showing her dimples.

 

Kylo inhaled sharply and steadied himself before walking down the ramp. Rey followed him closely, as well as Chewie who carried the suitcases. Lando’s men's ship landed behind them, and Rey communicated to the Chief of Staff to please wait until they had more information on what was happening.

 

As they had previously agreed, Valenkys was waiting for them, flanked with a full-fledged Royal Delegation at his side. Rey couldn’t prevent herself from thinking they were rolling out the red carpet because they were receiving the former Emperor - and his ties with the Empire weren’t clear. She still had a hard time wrapping her mind around that fact, but it was nonetheless the truth: the man she loved was powerful in many different ways.

 

Upon seeing Kylo, Valenkys, a tall, thin young man, straightened and walked toward him, offering him his hand very solemnly.

 

“Lord Ren, at last, it is a pleasure to meet you,” he said, bowing his head respectfully as he shook Kylo’s hand. Then, he turned his gaze over to her, and offered his hand too, which Rey granted him. He curtsied her, bending to her hand but careful not to touch her skin, as protocol commanded. Rey could sense Ben’s eyes burning into him, but he released her hand promptly and greeted her as Kylo’s spouse, causing both of them to redden. Although, this time, neither denied the title; it would be too complicated to get into explanations.

 

Now that he was talking to Kylo and introducing him to the other Delegates, Rey observed the Queen’s counselor closely. Of course, Nyri had told them he was her age, but his youthful features struck Rey all the same. The blonde, golden locks framing his impeccable fair skin and blue-green eyes gave him a captivating appearance. She was impressed that he had ascended to such responsibility so young; being on the permanent Royal Counseling Board was no meager achievement.

 

Valenkys invited both of them to wear the masks they had talked about and Rey hastily went to retrieve them from the suitcases. She took advantage to tell Chewie it was maybe best if he stayed to watch the ship, and the giant was more than happy to oblige. 

 

Slipping the black enameled masks on, which revealed only half their faces, both of them took seats in a small transport. The roof opened-up, offering them a wonderful view of the City as they traveled towards the Royal Palace.

 

“The Queen is very eager to meet you, Lord Ren,” said Valenkys as he sat next to the driver and commented on the buildings and landmarks across Theed. Rey and Kylo enthusiastically listened to all the details about the old City’s history. Kylo commented regularly on several points he knew about Naboo’s tormented past with the Republic and the Empire. Gazing at the cityscape, Rey could tell Theed was steeped with culture. The elegant architecture, with its tasteful decorated buildings and domes, maintained the impression the city had been built in a remote past; it was harmonious and graceful.

 

The transport climbed a tremendous cliff, where the city’s central district was located. The Theed Royal Palace sat on the top of the hill, imposing and majestic. Rey soon thrummed with excitement as Ben offered her his hand to slip out of the vehicle before making their way up to the Palace.

 

“The Queen is in a meeting with her closest advisors. Please, follow me; you may take your masks off now,” said Valenkys before speaking into a comm’link. He led them through the large, zigzagging corridors of the Palace. By the time they’d made it to the meeting room, Rey’s neck hurt from staring up at the imposing architecture so much.

 

Once they made their way into the vast room, Rey’s eyes settled on the Queen, who was sitting on a large throne. Her Majesty was extremely young, maybe even her own age. Her clothing was different from anything she’d seen in the Galaxy; it was quite unique. Her ashen-blonde hair was pulled up in a complex three-folded bun held by a complex, well-crafted golden headband. The heavy, long-sleeved traditional-looking dress was of a midnight blue material that reached her feet. It was embroidered in gold with a large belt that maintained her small chest. While her dress was remarkable, the most striking element of the ensemble was the Queen's face. It was soft and harmonious but painted in white while red dots were drawn on the forehead and cheeks. Her lips were parted by a single red line. Had Rey not known of her Royal status, the monarch's appearance itself was enough to betray it.

 

Upon seeing them enter, the Queen got to her feet. A glint of eagerness passed on her features as her eyes laid on Kylo, who stopped before her and bowed down respectfully. Rey imitated the gesture. 

 

Valenkys introduced them. “Queen Syoo, please let me introduce Lord Ren and his wife, Jedi Master Rey,” he said in grave solemnity.

 

“Lord Ren, so, we finally meet,” the Queen stressed, before glancing at Rey. “It is also my pleasure to meet you, Rey. I hold the Jedi in great esteem.”

 

Rey bowed her head down again in silence with a small smile. She already liked the Queen.

 

“Please, let us sit,” said Syoo as she sat back onto her throne.

 

Time flew by without them really noticing. Discussions focused on the state of the Galaxy, General Hux’s betrayal and how they could come to an agreement whenever the political situation would finally stabilize in Kylo’s favor. The Queen invited Kylo to take measures to respect people’s will and reinstate the Democratic Galactic Senate if he ever regained control of the Empire. She noted Naboo was a stable and pragmatic compromise between monarchy and democracy, a system which had not failed the Naboo in centuries, thus stressing the benefits of democracy to her guest. Kylo recognized that Naboo's political system was indeed a unique form of government and assured the Queen that he’d consider the option. Rey listened attentively, paying great attention to all the details that were discussed. She also noticed Kylo did not mention his intention to regain the Empire. It was a subject they carefully avoided since their last fight about it.

 

Against all odds, the Queen soon dismissed her advisors. Valenkys shook hands with Kylo and Rey, and assured them he was at their service.

 

As soon as they left, the queen spoke, this time a very different tone.

 

“Kylo Ren…or, may I call you Ben Organa Solo? There is something more personal I wish to talk to you about and why I was so eager to finally get a chance to meet you in person,” she said warmly. “I believe you and I are linked by blood.”

 

The reveal came crashing upon Kylo and Rey; they looked at the Queen with wild eyes. Kylo frowned quizzically. “How?

 

“My name is Syoo Naberrie, daughter of Pooja Naberrie. Your grandmother, Padmé Amidala, was my mother’s aunt. This makes us second cousins.”

 

Kylo scratched his forehead lightly with the tip of his fingers, trying to make the connections. “Th-that's unbelievable. I had no idea,” he stuttered, trying to recover from the news. He pressed his lips together before speaking again. "It is fortunate you mention this because I have also come here for a personal reason. I wish to know what happened to my grandmother and her husband, Anakin Skywalker." 

 

Syoo's elegant features turned into a bright smile. "Oh, it is perfect then. When I learned you were coming, I asked my mother, Pooja, to organize a dinner at our family house tonight. I will slip out from my duties to attend. We would be honored to have you as our guests. She was at your grandmother's funeral. I believe she can help you."

 

Kylo’s eyes darted to Rey as to question if she agreed and she immediately nodded to the Queen. “Thank you, your majesty. We would be honored to attend.”

 

“Wonderful. In the meantime, I insist upon you staying at the Royal Palace. Valenkys will show you to your room and attend to you until we leave for my house. Meanwhile, I unfortunately have to join several other meetings. I will come for you tonight at seven. And please, there is no need for formality,” she made clear.

 

Their meeting came to an end and all three stood up. Kylo and Rey paid their respects to the Queen while she pressed a button and Valenkys stepped in after a few minutes. When the charming young man arrived, his rapt attention was directed towards the Queen, who gave him instructions. He then took Syoo’s hand, bowed and kissed it. Rey couldn’t help noticing that, against protocol, his lips had touched her skin. The enamored look Valenkys had cast Syoo before leaving had not been lost on Rey, too, and she giggled internally. 

 

                                                                     

***

 

Faithful to her word, the Queen indeed came to pick them up at seven. Rey found it most difficult to recognize her. She was dressed less formally, although the long, yellow sheer dress she was wearing was so elegant one could hardly call it “casual.” She had removed her make-up, revealing a freckled, young face, with green-gray eyes and ashen-blonde hair which now flowed freely down her back. There was something so ethereal about her that she appeared to stand out of this world. Rey wondered why the Naboo had chosen such a young Queen, and made a mental note to ask Ben about it.

 

Kylo and Rey, masks on again, were now strolling within the heart of the Theed, following the Queen, who had drawn a large yellow shawl over her head and face. They lost themselves within the maze of small streets. Kylo scanned the city and his natural inclination for the Galaxy’s history made the walk all the more interesting. He observed that the family house was not located in the richest parts of the city, but, on the contrary, was in a modest neighborhood. He wondered what Padmé’s life was like before becoming Queen. At last, they stood before an old house with a long stairway up to an arched entrance.

 

“This is our house,” Syoo told them. “It’s been in the family for generations.”

 

Syoo climbed the old stairs and pushed the door open, offering them to enter. The inside showed a humble, old-fashioned house and Kylo's acute Force sensitivity breathed centuries of lifetimes within the walls. The house gave onto a charming garden, with well-kept plants and flowerbeds.

 

“Ben Solo…” whispered a voice behind them at once, and Kylo turned around swiftly.

 

An old curly gray-haired woman with chestnut witty eyes stepped into the living room. She was medium height, dressed with a casual but tasteful gray-white dress which matched her hair. Her ancient hooded eyes scanned Kylo’s; they were as penetrating as a laser beam.

 

Kylo didn’t know exactly why, but he felt his throat go dry under her scr