She showered, scrubbed her teeth, and slipped into the simple white nightgown she’d found in a retractable wardrobe. As the skirt pooled around her feet and the neckline plunged between her small breasts, the weight of the sleeveless garment threatening to slip off her shoulders, Rey realized that she’d been given someone else’s clothes. A taller, bustier someone else.
Rey gathered the skirt over her arm so she wouldn’t trip and held the neckline against her chest as she dug fruitlessly for a shirt or pants in the wardrobe. It was full of gowns with delicate embellishments and rich fabrics, each one more expensive than anything Rey had ever owned in her life, and none of which were suitable for sleeping.
She considered her own clothes, but they’d begun to smell, and sleeping nude was out of the question when her Force bond could open and expose her.
No, she would have to suck it up and ask tomorrow for something else to wear. She needed real clothes, not this ridiculous collection of wearable art.
She climbed into bed, twisting and jerking the damn nightgown around because it wanted desperately to clump underneath her in a pile of uncomfortable fabric. Rey got mad at it, but she persevered.
Once she positioned the skirt into a more comfortable position, she curled up under her blanket and tried to shut her brain off.
It didn’t work.
She brushed her fingers across her lips, the ghost of Ben’s caress lingering there, and smiled to herself in the darkness.
She lay there dreamily for far too long before she sat up straight with a curse.
“No, no no no,” she muttered as she threw the blanket off and swung her legs out of bed. The bodice of the nightgown twisted with the movement, baring a breast, and Rey wrenched it back into place.
She moved the skirt out of her way before she stood and proceeded to grab a soft knit blanket from the sitting area outside her room. She wrapped it around her torso like a shawl, solving one annoyance. There was no way she could leave her quarters with her breasts halfway on display.
Rey found her blood-smeared boots and pulled them on. There had been silken slippers in the wardrobe, but she knew better than to try and wear too-big shoes. She had enough problems walking in that damn nightgown without tripping over her own footwear.
Rey opened her door, the one that led to the hallway, and asked her guards to come inside. With a wary glance toward the door she shared with Ben, she faced them.
“Helmets off, please.”
They obeyed, revealing themselves as the top two candidates she’d interviewed that evening–hardcase and a woman with grey eyes and brown skin whose file said she had significant experience in guerrilla tactics.
Rey looked between them and took a deep breath. “I need to make a call.”
The brown-skinned woman, designation AS-2874, led the way to a lesser-used communications room. Rey followed with her skirt in one hand and the hardcase behind her to keep an eye out for trouble. She’d explained to them that the mission was personal but would probably piss a lot of people off.
Especially Kylo Ren.
She gave them the option to back out. Told them they didn’t need to accompany her, that they could go get some sleep and let her handle the fallout alone.
The hardcase narrowed his eyes and asked the question: “Is it important, ma’am?”
If Rey wanted them to trust her, she needed to trust them. “I have friends who, when they hear I’m getting married, might try to rescue me from Kylo Ren’s evil clutches.” She gave the words appropriate dramatic flair, then sighed. “Not that I’d blame them. He and I didn’t always get along, and they have no reason to think that’s changed.” She bit her lip, gauging their reactions. Patient. Professional. A little bit curious. “The problem,” she said carefully, “is that my friends are in the Resistance. Contacting them could be… misconstrued.”
Silence. Then, finally, the woman pursed her lips. “You could make a recording, ma’am.”
Rey frowned and motioned for her to elaborate.
“Of the call. That way, anybody who’s worried can examine it themselves. It doesn’t mean you’re not using secret codes to send classified information, but it’s better than nothing.”
Rey thought about that and smiled. “I thought you said in your interview that you were bad at diplomacy, AS-2874.”
“Strategy isn’t diplomacy, ma’am.”
Rey looked to the hardcase. “Are you up for this?”
He shrugged. “I’m up for anything, ma’am.”
“Rule one of being my guards,” she said as they walked. “Never get in Kylo Ren’s way when he’s angry.” She thought about it for a moment and added. “Especially when he’s out for my blood.”
She felt their attention, but they didn’t ask any questions. They simply ushered her to the correct room and paused outside of it with her.
“Wait out here. If anyone questions you, you’re here under orders. If you’re challenged by a superior, insist they get the Supreme Leader. Stall if you can, but cover your asses if things go south.” She glanced at them both, hating the helmets that hid them from her. “What’s the first rule?”
“Get the fuck out of Kylo Ren’s way.”
She nodded, faced the door, and squared her shoulders. “Let’s do this.”
Rey had expected a skeleton crew at this time of night, and luck was on her side. The single crewmember inside the small communications room cleared out with a gentle push of the Force, scurrying off to take a nap.
Rey immediately got to work. She secured the transmission so that it couldn’t be tracked, sent out a request that someone Resistance-side would hopefully pick up, and enabled recording.
Then all she had to do was wait.
Rey didn’t know how long it would take or how soon she’d be discovered, so she tucked her voluminous skirt around herself, pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders, and tried to ignore how the cold seeped into her boots to nip at her toes.
She chewed over what she ought to say, all the arguments her friends could throw at her, all the evading she would have to do.
God, she didn’t even know if Finn was out of his coma.
She wanted to get up and pace–movement always made her feel better–but the damn nightgown made walking too complicated.
At some point, Rey pulled her feet out of her boots and tucked them under her on the steel chair, hoping the frivolous skirts would help trap heat and warm her icy toes.
She didn’t know how long she’d been waiting when the console beeped. Rey checked that the recording was running and pulled up the video feed.
Suddenly, she was face-to-face with Finn.
His face split into a huge grin. “Rey!”
“Finn!” She laughed, a sudden pressure behind her eyes making them ache. She hadn’t realized until just that moment how much she’d missed him or how worried she’d been.
“Where are you?” he asked eagerly. “Are you okay? What happened? I thought you were off training to be a Jedi.”
“I was. Now I’m not. It’s a long story.”
“So long as you’re safe,” he said. “I’ve been worried about you coming back while we had the Supremacy on our asses. You won’t believe what we’ve been up to. Rose and I–oh, right, you haven’t met Rose–well, we went to hire this codebreaker, and–”
“–we found a different codebreaker, and he was going to help us sneak onto Supremacy to shut down its tracking system, but the asshole betrayed us–”
“Finn,” she tried again.
“Oh, hey, here’s Rose.” He looked past the camera and cupped his hands around his mouth. “Rose!”
A short woman with shoulder-length black hair and a round face appeared, bending at the waist to look over Finn’s shoulder.
“This is Rose,” said Finn. “Rose, this is Rey.”
Rose’s almond-shaped eyes widened. She settled a hand almost absently on Finn’s shoulder to steady herself as she leaned closer. “You’re Rey? I’ve heard so much about you. Wow.” Rose’s expression faltered for a moment. “You’re really pretty.”
“Oh. Um. Thank you.”
“Sorry,” Rose said. “You’re kind of a legend around here. And Finn talks about you all the time.” There was a trace of emotion when Rose said that, the faintest tightening of her smile. If Rey had had time, she would have liked to get the story behind that look out of Finn, but she reluctantly set her curiosity aside.
“Speaking of Finn,” Rey said, focusing on him in the viewscreen. “I really need to–”
A handsome man popped into view, vying for space with Finn. “Who are we talking to?”
Finn elbowed the man out of his personal space. “It’s Rey.”
“Oh, hi!” The man grinned. “I’m Poe. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Rey smiled, unable to help herself in the face of such blinding good looks. “Nice to meet you.”
At that exact moment, a familiar droid rolled past in the background. It disappeared behind Finn but didn’t reappear on the other side of him. After a moment, BB-8 rolled backward into her line of sight and rotated to look at the terminal.
He beeped in excited shock.
Rey laughed. “Hi, BB.”
He beeped again and took off at top speed back the way he’d come, nearly tripping Poe.
“So what are you calling about?” asked Finn. “When are you coming home?”
“That’s… actually… I’m not.”
Finn’s smile fled. “What do you mean, you’re not?”
“I’m getting married.”
Finn’s eyes showed white all around. Poe whistled, brows almost in his hairline. He glanced at Finn and shifted subtly backward as if he didn’t want to be in the middle of this.
“Congratulations,” said Rose, sweetly cheerful.
And then the explosion. “What?!” Finn lunged from his seat, hands planting on the terminal desk in front of him, stunned and confused as he stared at her. “When did this happen?” He drew back a little. “Skywalker?”
“No,” she said quickly, laughing at the suggestion. “Absolutely not. No.”
A loud warble interrupted them, and the image on the screen in front of her exploded into a flurry of activity and fur as Chewbacca pushed his way in front of Finn, his face filling the viewscreen for a moment. BB-8 chirruped cheerfully in his wake.
“Hi, Chewy.” She smiled softly, listening to him with a laugh. “Yeah, I missed you, too.”
He moaned a question about her mission.
She forced her smile to stay steady. “It… didn’t go exactly as planned. I was just telling Finn… I’m getting married. To Kylo Ren.”
Chewbacca tilted his head and looked thoughtful. He’d known of her attempt to bring Ben home, and she thought maybe he was filling in gaps with the puzzle pieces he possessed.
The others, on the other hand…
“Why?” asked Finn, looking shocked and, yes, a little disgusted. Even BB-8 beeped at her in alarm. “You hate him. You hate everything he stands for!”
“Not so much anymore,” she admitted. “It’s… complicated.”
She heard voices outside the communication room door. Her guards were speaking to someone. Rey’s nerves twisted, and she turned back with renewed purpose.
“Listen,” she said, silencing their questions. “I don’t have a lot of time left. I didn’t ask permission to use this console, and I think the natives are noticing. I wanted you to hear the news from me, because you deserve to hear it from me, and because…” the prickling behind her eyes returned, “I don’t want you to think I need rescuing. I’m not a prisoner. I haven’t been coerced or brainwashed. I’m safe, comfortable, and…” she choked on the word “happy,” because she wasn’t. It was impossible in this cold metal ship with its brutal purpose. Instead, she shrugged. “It’s not my first choice of situations, but I’m okay. I don’t need help.”
“You don’t have to do this,” Finn told her gently. “We can get you out.”
The voices outside her door became more agitated. A new voice had joined the chorus, and Rey felt the seconds slipping out of her grasp.
“That is exactly what I don’t want,” she said firmly. “I do not want people I care about barging onto a First Order ship and getting slaughtered in a misguided attempt to free me.” She met Finn’s eye, and he winced at the expression in hers. “I don’t need saving. I can take care of myself.”
“I don’t understand,” he said softly.
Just as softly, she replied, “I don’t expect you to.”
She felt power swell and move in her direction. She turned her head to the door, apprehensive. “He’s coming.”
A shadow crossed Finn’s face. “Will you be okay?”
“He won’t hurt me.” She knew this, but Finn didn’t. He couldn’t. Rey understood his doubt, but she was reluctant to expose the depth of her connection to Ben. It felt too private, too intimate to share even with her closest friend.
“I wish I had time to make you understand. I trust him. I just needed you to know that I’m okay, I’m safe, and I’m going into this with my eyes open.” She felt the tears swell, making her vision waver and her voice crack. “Please don’t come for me. Don’t send anyone. Just stay away and be safe.”
“Rey,” said Finn helplessly.
The amount of hurt and confusion on his face made the tears fall. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, and she severed the connection.
She hugged her knees and rubbed her wet face on her makeshift shawl, waiting miserably for the reckoning she felt zeroing in on her.
She glanced over her shoulder when the door hissed open. Ben stood there, fury in his eyes and ice in his voice. “What have you done?”
General Hux elbowed his way inside, surging to the terminal to assess the damage. “She’s contacted the Resistance,” he spat, whirling on her and reaching for his blaster. “Traitorous bitch.”
Rey could have defended herself, but she didn’t have to. The general flew bodily into the far wall, crashing down onto the corner of the console.
“Leave,” snapped Ben.
The general pulled himself to his feet, moving as if in pain, his perfectly combed hair mussed. Fury flashed in his eyes, snapping like a rabid dog, and he glared over Rey’s head. “She–”
“Is mine,” growled Ben. Despite the cold tone, the words made her shiver.
General Hux clenched his jaw as if he wanted to continue arguing, but he merely tugged his jacket straight and left the room.
Once the door closed behind the other man, Ben’s large hands grabbed the empty chair beside her, lifted it, and flung it into a wall.
Rey stared at the coiled fury as he turned and circled her, stalking like a predator, his eyes on fire.
“There’s a recording,” she said softly.
He stopped mid-stalk, focusing.
She hunched her shoulders into her blanket. “Someone suggested that I record it, so I did.” She gestured toward the communications console. “There’s a recording.” The words tasted flat in her mouth.
“Why?” he demanded. “Why contact the Resistance at all?”
“I don’t know, Ben. Why would I want to tell people who care about me that I’m okay?” She waited for him to say something, but he didn’t. After the silence drew out long enough to become uncomfortable, she placed her bare feet on the floor, standing carefully so that she didn’t trip on her skirt, and wrapped her arms around herself. “If we’re done here, I’d like to go to bed. I’m tired.”
He stepped forward and looked down at her, wary. After a moment, he raised a hand and cupped her chin, rubbing his thumb across her damp cheek. “You’ve been crying.”
She leaned into his touch. Telling Finn had been harder than she’d expected, and now she hurt. She didn’t know if Finn would ever forgive her for joining the First Order, even if she didn’t plan on fighting against the Resistance. She hadn’t had time to tell him that. She didn’t know if it would have made a difference.
She leaned into Ben so that her forehead touched his chest. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, his touch tentative.
“I may have just lost my best friend.”
His other arm came up, and he held her gently. “You have me.”
She smiled against him, a fresh tear spilling. “You’re the only good part in any of this.”
His arms tightened around her.
“What if they never trust me again?” She shook her head, scoffing. “God, why would they? I’m marrying their enemy. If I hadn’t told them myself, they wouldn’t have believed it.”
“I’ll take you back to your room.”
“No need. I’ll take my guards.” She glanced at the communications console. “I know you want to watch it.”
“Your guards have been relieved of duty.”
Her gaze flew to his. “What? Why?”
He only looked at her.
“Ben,” she said, gripping his arm, “please don’t punish them for something I did. I ordered them to bring me here. It’s not their fault.” When he frowned at her, she moved closer. “Please, Ben.”
He hesitated a few moments more, then gave in with a sigh. “I’ll speak to Hux.”
He escorted her out of the room, a hand on her waist, and ordered his officer flunky to send a copy of the transmission to his room immediately.
General Hux pounced the moment Ben stopped speaking. “I’ve assigned new guards to keep the girl in her room–”
“Cancel that order,” said Ben. “Rey wants her old guards.”
General Hux stared at him. “You’re joking.”
“They followed an order from a superior. Return them to her.” He leveled a warning stare at the other man. “That is an order, general.”
General Hux looked like he might explode. Rey almost wanted to applaud when he managed to grit out, “Yes, Supreme Leader.” It had clearly taken a lot of effort.
Ben led her away, and the last she heard before they rounded the corner was General Hux entering the communications room and yelling, “I want a copy of that recording as well!”