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Rey stared at Ben, his outstretched hand, her heart breaking. “Let them go.”

His brows twitched. “They don’t matter. They’re the past.”

“They’re my present,” she countered softly, desperately. “They’re the first friends I ever made. Please, let them go.” She took a half step forward, changing tack. Bargaining. Her life for theirs. “Let them go, and I’ll stay.”

Anger flashed in his eyes, and his fingers trembled as if he wanted to clench them into a fist. She’d hurt him. “You would stay for them?”

Another half step. “They’re not a family I was born into. They’re a family I chose. Call it off, Ben. Please.” Indecision crossed his face at the sound of his name. He just needed a little push. “I can’t stay if you kill my friends. I just can’t.”

And she wanted to. Not for the First Order, not for power, but for him. She let that truth burn in her eyes, let it soak their connection. She didn’t know if he would see it or understand it if he did, but she left herself open to him. Vulnerable.

“Please, they’re dying.” Her voice had become a sob. She heard the destruction behind her in the view port and felt hot tears on her skin. She didn’t dare turn to look, unable to face more death with the bodies of Snoke’s guards scattered at her feet.

Something must have gotten through, because his face turned stony and he turned on his heel. For a moment, she thought he’d rescinded his offer, that he was walking away from her, but then he stopped at a control panel and spoke into it. She couldn’t hear him over the humming in her ears, but when he turned it was to hold his hand back out to her, his face closed off. “It’s done.”

Rey swung to peer into the screen. The small fleet of transports continued toward the planet below unmolested.

Her heart swelled so full, it hurt. They would live. He’d done it.

He’d done it for her.

She turned back to him, his hand no longer a request but a demand. He’d upheld his end of the bargain, and now he expected her to uphold hers.

Rey walked to him and placed her hand in his.