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Countless Stars, Countless Lives

Chapter Text

 

 

Unpredictable [first writings / character studies of kylo ren & rey / drabbles]

 

He Will Worship Her [smut tease / canonverse / ahch-to]

 

Pretty Brown Eyes [30s!au / drama fluff / drabble]

 

Boundless Love [the road!au / tragic ending]

 

My Filthy Scavenger [shameless smut / canonverse / post tlj] 

 

Having a Little Fun [carnivale!au / naughty dance tease / open ending]

 

I Won't Watch You Burn [trailer response / canonverse / happy ending] !!! NEW !!!

Chapter Text

KYLO REN // POV

 


 

 

Galaxies and dying voids whirl around him, a symphony of potential, a glaring howl of existence. This place is hungry, selfish. He knows those emotions well. The mask concealing his face reflects in the glass of the window, metal and ghost, as the scene before him explodes with light.

Her presence echoes to him, singing along the strings of the Force like a bow willing music to his ears. She laments in the darkness, the warmth of her flesh made ice beneath that scorching sun as she walks those pale dunes.

Loneliness. Need. Anger.

Her memories fill him, tempt him. She is so delightfully chaotic in all her pieces as she seeks her truth. And that anger. He licks his lips, steadying his breath. His mask feels heavy, too heavy, and his fingers itch to wreck cities.

The silence mocks him.

He could possess her, twist the decency out of her chest like the ruthless coils of a snake. She would look lovely painted in his shade of black. Desire permeates his body, kindling a fire in his bones he was sure had been snuffed out. But fires like this one never snuff out, do they?

Because fires burn Light.

His hands curl into fists at his sides and his spine draws taut. There are some matters one cannot deny, training or not. Resistance breeds ugly things, things he buries deep, but even the crevices of a soul cannot hide the truth forever. His truth.

It calls to him, like her music, that vibrating timbre almost pleading. Or perhaps, it is he that is pleading.

Light is weakness. Darkness is power.

Though even those words tasted like a lie in the presence of her. Fires cast light. Stars cast light. Without Light, Darkness has no form, no purpose.

You are afraid you’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader.

He shoves the thoughts away, not wanting to entertain them. The Supreme Leader will sense his unease, his questions. No need to garner any unsought attention. Simple obedience… but perhaps that isn’t enough anymore.

Power answers to no one. That is what his master promised. Master…

What is power if not unpredictable.

A decision flowers in his mind, quickening his heart, and he grins. He will find her and open this Pandora’s Box of secrets. He will be unpredictable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REY // POV

 


 

 

The loss of life echoes over the beams of existence like a shuddering quake of agony and she stumbles, falls, elbows biting the ground and hands covering her tear-stricken eyes. It hurts. Everything. Hurts!

Screams. Chaos. Nothing.

Can a world actually end in white? Can such light make the shadows flee? No more definition, no more shape. Only white. Then nothing.

Guilt laces over her bones as a spider’s silk, twisting, binding, but not her guilt. Wreathing around her in possessive waves, she tastes the familiar sharpness of him. The man who desires so much to be more than his grandfather. To be forever shadow, casting as long and as far as the edges of time.

She licks her lips, tasting the salt of her own tears and… something.

Behind her lids, the vision of his kneeling form before her, black helm tilted up to her accusing glare. The smooth hiss of metal as he removes the heavy façade to reveal a bizarrely human face, tender, unsettlingly tender. Unseemly. She hated it—sought for it. Eyes almost black yet livened amber by the lights. But, she thinks, it was more wasn’t it?

That stare. That ghost of a smile. No metal. Only warm flesh, beating blood. This monster is human. Human.

Maybe that’s why he walks behind his shadow; a reversed image, an aversion to the senses. The monster he so desperately craves to be nothing more than Light rendered corporeal, a series of curves and edges marked by darkness.

He calls to her, a steady thrum of smoke along the veins of the Force. Corporeal. Human. Something inside her answers, chanting, beating as red and hot as the blood in his own heart.

She swallows, frightened, but not of him. After all, she’s crept along those stygian corridors now, too, possibilities made endless in that kind of blackness. And a chest—a Pandora’s Box—teasing at her fingertips.

What exists in that forever? A thread? A possibility?

Chapter Text

Isn’t this always how it ends? She finds him in the night, grasping at rough fabric, sharp ridges, pent up rage defined in broad shoulders and taut muscles. Glittering eyes like velvet ash quickened by hard embers.

Where did it begin? Perhaps in between the savage heartbeats as they clashed. Maybe sooner. Maybe the moment his hulking silhouette found her in the green and sunlight, breathless and invasive—a beast cloaked in violence with a fiery blade at her cheek.

How dare he.

Rey touches his face, scraping her nails over his scar, marking him again. His growl is immediate, low and forbidden, the seductive touch of dark earth, the vulgar scratch of thorns. He tastes like bitter heat, all musk and agitation as his lips slant over hers, suckling as if a child starved. She indulges him only to tattoo his lower lip with her teeth, a surprised grunt vibrating from his throat.

His fingers clasp over her wrists, yanking them above her head and whirling her around, her back pressing to his chest. She plants her feet to pivot again, but his other hand stops her, fingers digging possessively into her hip. The sensation drives the heat from below her navel down through her thighs and she squeezes her legs together, mouth thinning to a defiant line.

His breath tickles her shoulder, her neck; then, a devilish flick of tongue just below her earlobe. “Always so willful.”

Her teeth snap shut, begging for his skin to bruise.

The hot pads of his fingertips glide under her shirt, arousing a hitch in her breath, and she wriggles against him. She can hurt him, easily end this game with one swift backwards kick, though she won’t. She’d rather bite and claw and mark him until he remembers exactly who it is he belongs to.

A hungry moan falls from her lips when his hand closes around her breast. He nibbles at her neck in the most delicious rhythm of teeth and tongue as he works his fingers over her nipple, teasing until it aches to the touch. She pushes into him, forcing him back a step and he releases her hands to take her other hip.

She bows forward as he jerks her into him and he takes the advantage, lifting her shirt up to her shoulders and raking kisses along her back. The cold of the rock sends an exquisite chill down her spine from her breasts and she arches forward, throwing her head back and angling her bum against him.

His own breath hitches and she can feel him growing feverish under all that black. She glances at him over her shoulder and his nostrils flare, eyes half-lidden with need and mouth parted over gritted teeth. Those lips—shamefully evocative of his most secret wants.

They always give him away.   

She stands, letting her shirt drape back over her chest, and sliding her hands down his hips, firm and unrelenting at his thighs as she pulls him into her. He leans forward, inhaling her hair, her neck. If he wants to take her this way, he’ll have to fight her for it.

With a single spin of her heel, she knocks him off balance and they are on the ground, her legs bracketing his waist. He exhales a pained huff and glares daggers up at her. She hikes an eyebrow at him in turn, rolling her tongue over her canines as she rotates her hips, daring beyond measure when it comes to driving him into madness. If nowhere else—the edge of sanity brings out the darkness in her.

With a flick of her wrists, his arms anchor above his head, pinned by her will alone. He blows a wisp of hair from his forehead, gaze whetted to black steel. She surveys him languidly, her hands trailing fire down his neck and chest. He should really reconsider wearing all these layers.

Kylo’s teeth click shut, a snarl forming his mouth as he reads her thoughts.

She grins, tilting her head thoughtfully and pressing her tongue to her cheek.  She remembers how it was the first time they made love, raining and wild in the lightning as she shivered against him. She’d been unsure then, as unsure as he was.

But not anymore.

She begins with her hair, releasing the buns slowly, torturously. He watches, his mouth a hard line of anticipation and the tendons in his neck drawn stiff. She shouldn’t be so cruel, but seeing him below her, seeing the power she can wield over him summons a heat so deep in her bones she cannot ignore it.

Her hair fans out over her shoulders, longer now, and his tongue flits along his lower lip, reddened by desperate teeth. She combs her fingers through it casually, peering down at him. The sudden pulse of heat at her core is unexpected as he growls against her hold, his black gloves whining with the clench of his fists.

He’s magnificent like this, all feral anger and stormy eyes.

She leans over and tests the muscles of his arms, firm, unforgiving. His glare drifts down to her wandering hands and back to her face, a huff of impatience leaving his lungs. It tickles at her cheeks as she bends close, but not close enough for a kiss. He jerks upward and falls back, exasperated.

“Let me go.” A deliciously dark tone.

She bites into his neck before whispering in his ear. “No.”  

“Rey!” He exhales in a rush, his back arching. Let me go! his mind snarls.

She hovers over him, shaking her head. You want the lead? Take it from me.

His eyes widen at the challenge and she sits up, removing her shirt with agonizing slowness. It takes its warmth with it and she shivers at the coldness of the air, her nipples sensitive to the breeze. Kylo stares at them, hypnotized, and she feels a push, her hold on his body weakening.  

She reinforces her power, earning a frenzied rumble from his throat. Try harder, she coaxes.

“Rey—

She covers his mouth with hers, swallowing her name and he bucks against her, caught between the desire to take and the inevitable surrender to her torture. The texture of his surcoat creates an exquisite friction that draws a surprised moan from her lips and Kylo presses forward, his tongue demanding—begging—as he tastes her fully.

Images flow into her mind, provocative images of him worshipping her, savoring her in ways that rouse a blush to her cheeks. His head between her thighs, hair tickling her skin and tongue doing things to make her scream unabashedly, eliciting incoherent strings of words and his name. Always his name, like a prayer lifted from her lips for him. Only for him.

She can feel the ghostly touches of the memory and her insides clench. Then, she slips, her hold on him loosening, and he has her, his arms chaining around her and they are rolling, his heavy body pinning her to the ground. She looks hazily up at him, his chest heaving and the anger in him brightening, dimming, flickering as a solitary candle.

“You’re getting better.” He comments huskily.

Rey pouts at him. “Cheater.”

He smiles. “No such thing as cheating. Not with you.”

And he worshipped her. Oh, how he worshipped her.

 

 

Chapter Text

The Wall Street Crash had hit hard, harder than Rey’s new boss was willing to admit. Poe Dameron, recent widower and owner of the Manhattan Tattler, did well enough to sell fifty newspapers a week. Five cents a pop, mind you; not that anyone had even two nickels to rub together.

Most of the published content rattled on about politics and foreign tensions, anyway. Same old, same old.

Those things were not Rey’s intended score. After all, she was one of the only three journalists working with the declining publication and she meant to show Mr. Dameron he had not made a mistake hiring her… no matter how obnoxious she had been when she walked in – uninvited, but that’s not important – and demanded a job.

She’d show him. You bet she would. She’d score the greatest story Manhattan had ever seen. A story of crime, intrigue and betrayal: the recent death of the notorious Unkar Plutt, better known as Nine Lives on the darker side of the streets. The crime lord who got his start in the illegal casinos of Vegas and rose to fame after murdering his own boss to take his place.

Not only would she gain a reputation, but she would also help Mr. Dameron’s failing newspaper. After she was done, the publication would be the diamond of the press.  

Her only problem? The tall drink of water currently standing at the crime scene sporting a deck of Luckies and a flashy badge. The tip of his cigarette lit his face, highlighting its long angles in a dull orange glow against the night.

Who was he and what on earth was he doing here?

She glowered at his silhouette from several paces away, hands balling into fists. This was her story and she’d be damned if some gumshoe with pretty brown eyes was stealing her score. 

She’d be damned.

Swallowing her aggravation, Rey walked quietly up to his side. “Excuse me, what exactly is your business here, Mr…?”

The man peered down at her, smoke curling around his face. “I could ask you the same question. What’s someone like you doing wandering around in the city late at night?” he asked, ignoring her inquiry of his name.

Her hackles rose. “I am grateful for your concern –

“It isn’t concern.” he corrected her in a dulcet tone, void of any emotion. 

She inhaled a steadying breath. “Well, this is… my crime scene, so why don’t you fade off somewhere else?”

He made a point to plant his feet, crossing his arms over his chest and inhaling a long drag on the butt in his mouth. 

Rey’s jaw popped. 

Her eyebrow twitched.

“Think you’re going to solve this crime all by yourself, do you?” he needled.

Her chin lifted unconsciously. “What makes you think I can’t?”

He exhaled, a long wisp of smoke twirling around them. “Because it’s mine.”

She huffed. “I hardly see your name on it! And besides, you’re sulking around here at night –

“With a badge.” he added between her outburst.

–  same as me!”

You are a kitten in a wolf pit.”

Rey was seeing red now. “If you think you’re going to steal this from me, think again!”

He suddenly held a plastic bag out in front of her with something inside. Before she could see what it was, he yanked it back and stuffed it into his coat pocket. “I already have. And you should get back home before the wolves catch you.” He tilted his head as he surveyed her a moment longer. “A word of advice. If you’re going to snatch this case from me, you’ll have to be more… punctual.”

She frowned at his sudden change of demeanor, the coolness of him warming a little. Was he patronizing her, or challenging her? She abruptly blushed at the latter possibility, noticing for the first time how his wide-set mouth, despite its rigid frown, still retained a plush softness at its edges. 

He has the mouth of a poet, she thought.

Then, he strode past her without so much as a glance behind him and she groaned in frustration, biting her tongue and stamping her foot as the anger came flooding back. Whatever he had taken must have meant something important. Now, it was out of her reach. But there could be more, things he had missed. 

Rey allowed herself to hope.

At the end of the alleyway, he called over his shoulder. “I’m sure we’ll meet again.”

Oh, he was most definitely challenging her.

Chapter Text

Olive green–-the color of his mother’s eyes. 

Such a vibrant color. 

Ben stares into his son’s wide, questioning gaze for a long time, memories of a lush woodland flitting across his mind, easing the weariness of his soul, making him think of her again. Her lovely cheeks, so often rosy with the heat of the sun and her chestnut hair, rich and earthy in the hazy evening forest as he had chased her through the trees. 

Rey.

Her name settles slowly into his chest, piercing his heart and he flinches, visibly shaken.

“What is it daddy?”

His immediate impulse is to lie, to tell his son that it’s nothing–just the cold–only, he doesn’t. Instead he scoots over to the child’s side in the cramped cab of the semi truck and takes him into his arms, needing his warmth, his closeness. The boy’s scrawny limbs circle his chest at once and he tightens the embrace, the painful lump forming in his throat driving the blade in his heart a little deeper.

But he swallows it down, swallows all of it down and locks it away. 

In the quiet moments of his dreams it will come back to haunt him. And so be it. If dreams are all he has, then at the very least, it’s something of her. 

His son presses a cool cheek to his neck and whispers, “You were thinking of momma.”

Closing his eyes, Ben holds his chin steady. “Sleep.” he says. “We wake early tomorrow.”

“I want to see her.”

His hands begin to shake. “Sleep.” What little command he has in his voice is diminishing.

“But I’m scared.” the boy protests, hugging the wolf plush he carries. It was a gift from his late mother’s collection. They had left the rest behind, but the wolf–well, they couldn’t leave that one behind.

He exhales slowly, attempting to lessen the aching ball of tears in his throat. “I’ll be watching over you.” 

“Will you sing for me? The song mommy used to sing?”

 

 


 

 

Endless, dirty grey. Miles of cars, crumbling highway, smoke plumes from distant cities. Cannibalism. He must always worry about that. And rape. What the monsters walking this dead world would do to his son-–he would murder them first. As many as he can get his hands on. He will do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Even if that means killing his own son before they can get their hands on him.

They need to find shoes again.

“How many people do you think are still alive?” the boy asks.

Ben glances down at him. “In the world? Not many.”

The child ponders this, a familiar scowl wrinkle appearing between his brows. Han’s scowl wrinkle. He shoves the thought away quickly and takes his son’s hand.

 


 

 

It’s possibly December, but the world has grown so cold that it’s hard to tell the months apart now. He hasn’t kept a calendar in years. Maybe five, maybe six. It’s been three since–

–he scrubs harder at his scalp, the icy water from the muddy stream summoning goose flesh down his neck. Ben does what he can to work out the grime, then checks on his son. The boy had demanded he wash his own hair, so he leaves him to it for a while.

Walking out to the clearing, he checks the pistol he carries, a small revolver with a rubber grip. Only two bullets left. Two is all they’ll need if the worst should happen. 

He prays it doesn’t.

“Done!” his son calls.

 

 


 

 

She’s here again, in his dreams. She makes love to him, smiling in her soft little way as she plants kisses down his chest, watching him with her lively forest eyes. He takes her swiftly, holding to her as a man lost at sea, murmuring a string of dirty promises into her ear until she comes undone below him. He nuzzles her neck, smelling her, tasting her, drinking as much of her in as he can before what he knows will inevitably come. 

It’s only when her hands fall from around his neck to cradle his face and her lips press tenderly to his forehead that he realizes…

… he’s crying.

Ben wakes with a start, coughing so violently he vomits. 

 

 


 

 

“I had a bad dream.” his son confesses.

“It’s a good thing.” Ben asserts quickly. “It means you’re still fighting, that you’re still alive.”

“Why?”

He looks out to the horizon; as dull and as lifeless as ever. “Because when you start to dream of the good things…”

Somewhere in the distance, he thinks he can hear laughter, her laughter.

“What?” the boy presses.

“You should start to worry.”

 

 


 

 

They finally find a pair shoes. For his son, of course. Ben doesn’t need a fresh set even if there are holes in the soles of his boots. He can manage just fine. 

It could be mid February now, but it’s impossible to tell. The days are short and the nights are longer than any he has ever experienced before. After the clocks had stopped on that fateful day, everything about the world had changed. Fires had consumed the forests and the cities. There had been chanting, killing, screams of judgement come.

But Rey had never faltered. If she were here now, she would take both the hand of her son and her husband, and they would walk on.

Ben recalls the night she had changed his life in a time so very different from this one. He remembers it clearly. He had been born that day in the light of her eyes. She’d found him with a gun barrel in his mouth, the cold taste of metal on his tongue, and she had slapped him. He smiles at the recollection, the terrified anger in her voice rising up from the depths of memory like the dawn. 

Before the cataclysm, before the empty grey death of the sky and the devastation of the world, he had found hope that night.  

His son suddenly motions to something in the distance. “What’s that?”

As he strains to see in the direction his son points, thunder rolls behind them. He can make out a mass of what appear to be utility poles, awkwardly leaning, strips of tangled power lines with–

His stomach lurches at the gory sight and he hastily snatches his son’s arm. “We’ll go another way.”

“But–”

“Now!” Ben hisses. “Get off the road!”

 

 


 

 

They’re trying to make it to the coast. It’s a destination. Maybe an answer. He cannot know. Not anymore. The perception of his life has grown nebulous, unreliable. 

His only constant is the child sleeping in his arms.

Coughing raggedly, he leans his head back as he tries to find his own slumber… but it never comes.

 

 


 

 

He murders a man today, a thief who tried to kill his son for the pack he carries. 

They have only one bullet left.

The boy weeps for hours in his arms once they find safety under a collapsing overpass. It’s a cruel thing, showing this child the simplistic and vicious side of survival… and so very necessary.

“Why?” his son eventually whispers, his tiny voice broken by hiccups.  

The single syllable carries with it the weight of all the worlds that have come and gone. It brings a sad bitterness, an ending he knows all too well. The question is one which stems from the death of childhood. 

And he hates himself for it.

“I told you. I’ll kill anyone who touches you.” 

As if to console himself he kisses his son’s cheeks.

 

 


 

 

"Daddy. Daddy, wake up.”

He stirs.

“You were calling for momma, again.”

 

 


 

 

They shouldn’t have entered the house. He should have known better than to think it was abandoned. It was a mistake, his mistake… and possibly their last. 

Foul dishes are heaped atop the kitchen counters. The tacky brown filth that covers them makes his stomach churn uneasily and there is a smell, a very conspicuous smell that raises the hair on the back of his neck. Grimy insects skitter across the rancid heap and he stops his son before the boy can reach out and touch one of the plates.

“No!” he admonishes sharply.

“What’s that smell?”    

A low thump comes from the floor beneath them and the two abruptly freeze.

The following silence leaves them both trembling with anticipation and Ben’s eyes follow the old pattern of the linoleum until his eyes come to the wooden frame of a cellar door. His grip tightens on his son’s shoulders as a seed of thought takes root in his mind and grows like a poisonous vine, filling him with bloodcurdling fear.

It can’t be true. What we’ve stumbled into can’t–

The noise comes a second time, louder, more persistent–and a voice, a wail. “Please!” So utterly frail and weak. 

“Someone’s down there!” the boy whispers.

Ben pulls him toward the hallway, back the way they’d come. “We need to leave!”

“But there’s someone–”

Raucous laughter explodes from outside and the two are frozen again. Only this time, Ben knows they cannot escape. He breaks from his stupor and hastily drags his son up the stairs, the poor child whimpering all the way, and shoves him into the first open door he sees, slamming it shut behind them. 

It’s a bathroom… and the sink is clogged with blood. Various gutting tools lay strewn about the vanity and an emaciated body of a woman is propped up in the tub, naked, missing a leg. 

A house of cannibals. Is this how their road ends?

The boy whines lowly at the sight, hugging his wolf plush as if a crucifix and Ben’s heart plummets at the sound of the front door opening downstairs, the cadence of several feet entering and the subsequent snickering of guttural conversation. He swiftly clamps a hand over his son’s mouth, begging him for silence. The boy’s tears slip along his dirty fingers, painting clean tracks over his skin and he suddenly finds himself lost, everything in his mind disintegrating as he glares, wild and terrified, into his son’s round pleading eyes.

“You’re strong, Ben, no matter what you say.” Rey’s voice encourages him. A long forgotten memory from one of his less than redeemable moments.

Am I? he asks the the memory. Am I really? But that question doesn’t truly matter, does it?

One of them starts up the stairs–

–and his decision is made for him. 

Setting his jaw, Ben releases the boy’s mouth and takes him by the shoulders. “Don’t be afraid.” he strains, his voice crumbling. 

“Daddy?”

He kneels down and takes the child’s hand, whispering. “Remember what I told you. If I can’t protect you…” Opening the boy’s fingers, he places the gun in his tiny hand.

“No!” The blatant terror on the child’s face shines, draining the last evidence of color from his cheeks. 

Ben’s heart twists in agony. “You have to do it.”

Because I… I can’t. 

Tears glitter down his son’s cheeks. “Daddy?” 

“Stop crying. You have to be brave.” Unlike me… 

“But…”

The steps grow closer and Ben’s stomach sinks, the sour emptiness he feels wrenching at him like a savage animal. He stares at his son, into those beautiful olive eyes, and takes the gun from his tiny hand. He won’t let them have their fun. He won’t let them bring suffering onto his boy. Aiming in front of him, he cocks the hammer.

“Will I see you again?” the child trembles, staring into the cold black abyss of the barrel. 

Ben releases a strangled sob, his hands shaking violently as memories assail him, images of her face, her smile–his son’s same smile–and her sweet voice; his mother’s stillness–his son’s same stillness–and that scowl wrinkle. His father’s… Father. Son. My son.

“I have to do this.” he grates out, barely able to breath. “I can’t let them. I have to–”

A crash sounds from downstairs.

“What the fuck?!” someone howls.

“Stop ‘em!” another follows. 

Pounding feet.

Fading.

Fading.

Ben drops the weapon and a gasp leaves his throat. He creeps over to the door and peeks out. Empty. Quiet. Turning back to the boy, he snatches his hand and brings him close. “Follow me and don’t let go of my hand.”

They run… as hard and as fast as they can. 

 

 


 

 

Days pass. 

And one would think the south to be warmer.

“I love you, daddy.”

Ben looks down at his son, tucked close and staring up at him with a hollow, hungry face. The statement sounds deeper, less childlike than before and he feels anger again. Anger at himself. At the world. He coughs, bringing the boy’s head to his chest and pulling him impossibly closer. 

 

 


 

It doesn’t surprise him when it happens. He has sensed it for a long time, though he’s deliberately denied it any thought. It’s deeper too, dragging up through his sternum like a coil of barbed wire. And he had coughed up blood earlier, hadn’t he…  

Glancing over at the tight ball beneath their shared blanket, Ben sighs heavily, the exhaustion in his bones leeching away any fire from his emotions. He’s too tired. His face contorts in anguish, but there are no tears, no moisture left in him to spare. Just too goddamn tired.

He swallows dryly, his heart aching. It should be her here now, not him. Their son deserves strength.

Not weakness.

 

 


 

 

The coughing worsens.

Blood–it’s become a common taste in his mouth. He’s on his knees, forehead pressed to the icy floor and the grit biting into his skin. He feels his son come to his side, trying to pull him up to a sitting position. He turns and sees that the boy is shaking his head, a wild look of fear in his gaze. Another attack of coughs rip at his throat and he spits crimson, the fresh liquid staining his chin. 

“No!” 

Cold fingers push against his open lips as the child tries to stop the sound, as if his simple touch can will it all away. But he knows. Ben can see it etched into his face. The creeping inevitability. And so the last vestige of innocence dies within his precious boy, his son. 

Ben’s heart beats painfully and he brings his hand over the boy’s, pressing a tender kiss to his fingers. But I’m not done just yet.

 

 


 

 

They reach the sea. Though, it isn’t blue like they had hoped.

“It’s ugly.” his son opines.

He frowns, the disappointment evident in his voice. “I know. I wish it was blue for you.”

Rey had loved the blue of the sea.   

Suddenly, his vision goes dark and he senses his body collapsing, his pack falling from his shoulders and his knees connecting mercilessly with the crumbling concrete of the road. Blackness swirls around him and he thinks he hears laughter again. His body floats, leaving him wondering if he’s fallen in the water.

“Daddy! Daddy!”

It isn’t laughter it’s…

“Daddy!”

He coughs. 

He coughs until he vomits blood.

 

 


 

 

It isn’t fucking fair. None of it is fair. 

He grabs desperately at the blanket draped over his chilling body as his son hovers above him in the hazy gloom of the night sky, a fire dancing beside them and catching in his eyes. Ben reaches up, cradling his son’s cheek. The boy must have helped him to the beach and started a fire. The blanket isn’t theirs either. He’d found it, Ben realizes with a touch of pride. A survivor just like his mother.  

A cup of water is brought to his lips and he drinks. Dirty, awful tasting. He chokes, but swallows it down. 

“You’ll get better.” 

Ben closes his eyes, willing back tears. “You know that’s not true.”

“You have to.”

Why did fate take Rey, their pillar, their strength? Why would it leave this precious child a broken man scarcely able to hold his own self together, let alone raise this child in a bitter, unforgiving world with no hope? He is a failure. He was never any real father. How could he be? What has he given to this boy other than misery and grief? Ben couldn’t protect his innocent heart… and now, he won’t be able to protect his life.

His hand wavers, but the boy holds it fast to his cheek, unwilling to let it fall. “You promised you would never leave me.”

Ben’s eyes clamp down tighter. “I know.” Tears flow freely, down his cheeks, through his beard. “I’m sorry.”

“Take me with you.”

Ben bites down on his tongue, unable to speak as he swallows back rattled sobs. 

“Please? Please, daddy.” His son is now crying, too.

“You have to keep going, take the gun with you. You have to leave me and keep moving south. You have to find good people, but you can’t take chances. Do you understand?”

“Dad–”

“Tell me you understand.” Ben says unevenly, opening his eyes and glaring at the boy.

He sees sadness, complete and utter sadness, and it shatters his heart. 

“I understand.” the words come out hollow.

Ben’s fingers curl into hooks and the boy’s cheek dimples with his fingertips. The fire beside them crackles and he nuzzles his father’s hand, smearing dampness into Ben’s palm as he curls up beside him and settles on his chest, unwilling to ever let him go. Ben encircles him with a single weak arm, breathing heavily from the effort. 

Silence settles around them like a veil and they both ignore it, unwilling to let its finality sink in. Ben finds it harder to take air in as the tears build in his throat, as he pulls his son tighter and the fear blossoms in his veins, but he finally finds the will to say the truth in his heart. All of it. “I love you. I loved you from the moment I held you. You were so perfect, a god in my arms. When you looked up at me, I couldn’t believe you were real.”

The boy’s hiccups against him and buries his face deeper into his chest. 

Darkness threatens the edges of his vision, but he continues on. “You have your mother’s strength. Never forget that, okay?” 

A small nod. Then: “Will we still be able to talk to each other?” 

The question catches Ben by surprise and he finds a conviction rising in him so fierce he trembles. “I will find my way to you when you need me.”

“Do you promise?”

Doubt torments him, but he refuses its call. If he could do nothing else in life, he will do this single thing thereafter. He will find his way back, somehow, and he will be there for his son. “You have my whole heart and I swear it. I will be with you, always.”

 

 


 

 

He dreams of her for the last time, his sweet beloved, with her vibrant eyes and sun-touched skin. They are sitting by the sea, the white foam of the waves crashing against the rocky cliffs, the endless deep blue stretching into forever on the horizon. 

He had forgotten that he’d fallen asleep in her arms that day. She toys with his hair, lazily tracing the shell of his ear as she smiles down at him and he swears he’s looking up at heaven itself. 

That was the first time he told her he loved her.

 


 

 

The boy lies next to his father the whole day in the bone-chilling cold, unwilling to leave his side, but he knows… 

The hollow of his cheeks have gone grey, like the empty sky above them, and his lips match the color of the foamy waves on the desolate beach. The boy had lived on the small hope that his father would open his eyes one last time, that he could look up and see the strength and safety that had kept him alive all these years– 

–yet the face he had known all his life remains empty, lifeless.

It’s a jarring sight, one that brands the mind with the most basic of understandings: this is death. It cannot be fixed. It cannot be taken back. It simply is.

He tries talking to his father for a while, telling him of old things he remembers, old dreams, but the silence grows too heavy and he gives up, looking forlornly at his father’s wedding band. He removes it, turning it over in his fingers and watching as the dim light catches on the faded gold.

“Please don’t be mad.” he whispers as he pockets the keepsake, running his fingers over it one final time. 

It takes another hour before he can cover the face of his father with the blanket, unsure if he wants to keep looking at that empty expression, or if he’s too scared never to see it again. He cries and the tears hurt this time, bitter tears, he decides… and he hates them.

But he’s too tired to care, either. 

He ponders on this emotion, hating it, too.

Eventually, he walks away, his pack over his shoulder and the gun snugly in his hand. He pauses to look back one final time, the throb in his chest swelling and coiling around his ribs like a vice, suffocating him. He refuses to cry anymore. He’s strong like his mother. He wants to believe that, because his father said so. 

And so he walks on, not looking back again.

 

 


 

 

He doesn’t make it far along the beach before he sees the silhouette of an approaching couple. The hair on the back of his neck rises and he draws the pistol close to his heart. They come closer and he notes the large gun in the man’s hand. It’s a weapon he’s never seen before with a long double barrel and a wooden stock. He raises his pistol.

“Easy.” the man says, putting up his free hand. “I’m not here to hurt you.” 

The boy’s hands shake. “Who are you?”

The man’s companion, a woman with long ebony hair, steps forward. “We’ve been following you.” she soothes. “You and your father. We… we were worried about you.”  

They approach him carefully and the man keeps the barrel of his weapon pointed to the ground. His dark skin is smeared with filth, but his eyes remind the boy of his father’s, rich, deep amber. Warm. The woman approaches, too, the smile lighting her round face making his heart slip back down from his throat.    

“We won’t hurt you, kid.” the man lowers himself to one knee, extending his hand. “Did your dad ever teach you how to greet someone from the old world?”

The boy shakes his head.

An instant grin touches the man’s lips, a good-natured grin that reminds the boy of his mother. “It’s easy. Let me see your hand.”

Hesitation stills the boys arm from moving. “You’re not like… the others?” he asks tentatively. 

“The others?” the man echoes.

“No.” the woman assures him, understanding the boy’s question at once. “We don’t harm for the sake of being cruel and we don’t… eat people.”

The boy looks back to the man’s hand, chin trembling, and reaches out slowly. The man takes his hand in a confident grip and begins to pump it up and down in a gentle motion. “It’s a handshake.” he clarifies, his grin widening. “I’m Finn. This is Rose,” he points to the woman. “What’s your name?”

The boy swallows, glancing back over his shoulder to the beach, then deliberately, he turns back to them, tightening his fingers around Finn’s hand. “I’m…” 

Chapter Text

She knows better. There’s no point in denying it.

She’s always known better.

But she’s tired. Maybe it’s the cramped quarters aboard the Falcon, or maybe it’s the never-ending space travel, the planets she can never quite call home, Poe’s constant hounding about loyalty to the cause, or maybe it’s this damn itch between her fingers.

The truth is… it’s just been too long. Far too long.

Around her wrists, the binders are a reassuring weight as she approaches, the soles of her boots imprinting blurry tracks into the coarse desert sand and the eerie morning light dying the horizon a deep, erotic red. The six stormtroopers at her flanks encircle her as she comes to a halt before him, keeping her gaze carefully neutral, the fire behind her skin igniting at the very connection of his eyes. That swirling cosmos of black and gold.

She’s so close, closer than they’ve been in months.

Not since last time. Or the time before that, or the time before–

His Force signature bears down upon her like a howling abyss, swallowing her, snapping the moors of her conscious mind and sending her adrift to a world of memories. From behind him, the Knights of Ren stand as stoic as death, their detestable black helms glinting crimson and their weapons poised for attack.

Ben remains silent, staring at her with such intensity she feels the stormtroopers shrinking away in fear. The indescribable manner of his expression only heightens as the sun fully crests the horizon behind them, throwing the shadows long and casting his face in wine-colored darkness amid his windswept hair.

Rey eventually drags her eyes away, unable to look at him any longer without the kindling heat in her veins consuming her completely. She swallows, licks her lips, exhales.

This was a mistake, but this isn’t the first time she has made a mistake for Ben Solo.

At last, the stormtrooper in charge speaks, his tone wary. “She came willingly. We didn’t know what else to do with her, supreme leader.”

Ben’s gaze never leaves her. “Of course you wouldn’t. You and your squad are dismissed, lieutenant.”

“Sir?” the lieutenant begins. “The general—”

Another silences him with a sharp elbow to the ribs.

Rey watches the exchange with feigned interest as she feels Ben’s stare drinking in the rest of her body, his attention moving as electricity moves over her nerve-endings, sparking life into all the dark, obscure places inside her. When he arrives back to her face she can practically feel his thoughts like the gravitational weight of a star, demanding her attention.

But she can’t, not yet.

Her pulse twitters wildly at her throat as the air around her seems to thin, the static drumming of her heart drowning out the rest of the world except for him. She never dreamed she’d ever fall in love, nor had she considered the possibility that she would be loved in return. Especially by someone like him. Of all the people in the universe…

And she would have it no other way. Not then. Not now.

The stormtroopers depart and Ben immediately throws a cursory glance at his knights. They bow their heads, stepping back and allowing him to lead her to his command shuttle. She boards it quietly, minding the way his hand clasps at her bicep, not wandering. They do not exchange any words all the way back to the Supremacy with Kylo keeping a deliberate distance from her, his desire carefully disguised.

She thinks back to Takodana, wondering how Kylo Ren must have looked as he’d carried an unconscious Rey aboard his ship. To Starkiller, why no hatred had ever entered his eyes when she’d scarred him. To Ahch-to, where it had all changed…

And countless other hidden moments they shared, secreted between both the Resistance and the First Order. Precious moments.

Though secrets live on borrowed time–as do they all–and she has willingly just truncated their timeline. The little game that had begun between them almost two years ago after Crait was never supposed to end this way. It was never supposed to end at all.

Their unspoken commitment consists of two rules, only two: no surrender, no capture.

Her eyes stray to where he sits at his command seat and she sees it–the anger, the excitement and the fear. One of them was bound to make a foolish decision sooner or later. The veiled acceptance in his expression tells her he wasn’t far from committing some similarly ludicrous act.

Thirst is a cruel thing and she should know. The desert permits no relief from the empty heat of the sun and they have both been left out in the sweltering environment of waiting for too long with not a drop of pleasure to alleviate their ache, the brutal desert winds of time etching away at their resolve.   

The loading bay is overflowing with movement, white helmets and pale, blank faces turning to her with wonder and dread as they proceed down the ramp of the shuttle, the knights creating a protective barrier between her and Ben as he sweeps ahead. She blinks at the harsh sterile lights of the Supremacy, remembering the moment her escape pod had opened–in some other distant life, eons ago–the mechanical hiss, the pain of the brightness… and his impassive face.

If others discover the truth what will history say about them, she wonders. Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, the Jedi Killer, the father slayer and last living scion of Darth Vader. A monster with limitless power, a man, lonely and broken, and loved. Loved by the enemy.

She knows what he would say looking back on the damaged ghost story of his life. If nothing else, at least I was loved.

The thought makes her heart ache.  

As they arrive at the elevator, Ben turns to dismiss his knights. They linger a moment, their vacant masks assessing Rey distrustfully before disappearing down the corridor like a procession of black phantoms. Ben takes Rey’s bicep again, ushering her onto the lift as the doors begin to close. The mechanical click is deafening, the air around them building with anticipation.  

Seconds tick by while the lights fluctuate, a soft glow and flutter.

Ben shifts imperceptibly toward her direction and she swallows reflexively at the abrupt flare of his Force signature, an alluring beacon in the darkness. Closing her eyes, she draws in a meticulous and calming breath.

The last time they stood here Ben had sworn she’d stand with him. He had leaned into her, his velvet eyes slipping through her defenses like smoke, his scent smoldering around her like a burning fuse, threatening to ignite them both into a licking conflagration of flames.

And now?

His hand skims her back, gloved fingertips slipping under her jacket and over her tunic to curl around her side. A furtive, innocent gesture; one most would not even notice. She bows her back into his touch, allowing more of her body to connect with his forearm.

He exhales through his nostrils, a controlled rush of air.

“I’ve missed you.” she murmurs, her voice soft even to her ears.

His grip tightens as he releases another controlled exhale and she can feel the intensity of his hunger. It makes her toes curl and she presses her thighs together, surrendering a ragged breath of her own. Then his fingers are traveling up, up, up, his hand coming around as he moves closer. She bites her lower lip when she feels his thumb graze her already hardened nipple through the fabric and he stiffens, noting the lack of layers.

She had stopped wearing breast wraps months ago, struck by the sudden urge to overcome her shyness and simply let her chest sit naturally. That and she found she thoroughly loved the rough texture of various materials moving freely against her nipples.

“You shouldn’t be here.” he reprimands huskily, his large hand splaying across her chest, pressing her back and into him.

She thrills at the serrated edge of his voice, melting into his hold as his forearm traps her against him, the solid feel of his taut muscles awakening every nerve-ending in her body. “No.” Her answer turns to a breathless moan as he pinches punishingly at her breast, sending the sensation straight to her core. She crushes her thighs together. “And I should be going to a prison cell, supreme leader.”

He growls into her hair, her use of his title in such a dark, earthy tone rendering him a lecherous animal, all signs of his earlier restraint evaporating in an instant and she smirks.There you are. He snakes his other arm around her waist, wasting no time journeying his hand down between her legs. She knows he can feel her heat through the fabric of her leggings, knows he’s getting painfully hard just thinking of how wet she is.

“What are you doing here, Rey?” Her name falls, a ragged syllable from his lips and she pushes back into him, relishing the solid feel of his erection. “This was foolish. Dangerous.”

“And this wouldn’t be the first time, would it?” she whispers, taking her cuffed hands and guiding his beneath the hem of her pants.

His other hand at her breast slides under her top and she lulls her head back as she feels his gloved fingers stimulating both of her nipples, then the one below teasing her clit. She mewls contentedly as his index and middle finger glide along her folds while his thumb and index finger above pinch to the point of tenderness.

They had turned it into a sort of game, seeing how long he could last before he simply had to remove his gloves. He had surprised her more than once, but this standard day reveals a man at the end of his rope; and to accentuate his desperation he tattoos her neck with his teeth. She cries out, squeezing his wrist in a vice grip as she urges him to relieve the ache between her thighs, but he refrains.

Not yet, his mind chides.

Now! she commands, craning her head around and glaring at him.

“Should I stop the elevator? Take you right here?” he asks, enunciating the word ‘here’ with his index finger circling her clit and applying a very pointed pressure.

Her thigh muscles twitch and quiver. “You could take me on the bridge right in front of general Hux for all I care.” she snarls provocatively.

The boldness of her statement leaves him speechless, his plush lips falling open and the cimmerian abyss of his eyes deepening, beckoning her further and further down. Slowly, he removes his hand from beneath her blouse and reaches forward, pressing the emergency override on the elevator control panel. The lift hums to a gentle halt.

Rey turns, wasting not time draping her arms over his neck and yanking him forward. His mouth crashes into hers and she hastily seizes his lower lip, leaving him no room for escape. He moans, an uneven pulse of sound that quickens the ache between her legs, enticing more wetness, more heat, and she curls into him, wanting no more separation between them.

“You shouldn’t have come here.” he pants as she releases him.

She pulls him down to her mouth again, letting that be answer enough. The wrist binds make it impossible to plunge her hands into his hair and scrape her nails viciously along his scalp, but it’s irrelevant. She’s tired, tired of fighting, of running, of hiding.

You’re tired, too. She whispers. But you’re so stubborn…

He jerks her hips into him and shoves her flush against the wall–his answer, obviously. Always so dramatic.

With one swift movement, she fastens her legs securely around his waist and he releases a throaty chuckle, his tongue quickly darting out and claiming her mouth in that dark, familiar way she adores. It drugs her, dares her, coaxing her to the edge of that perfect precipice, edged in brilliance and draped in profound sensation.

She’s already so close…

… and he’s unhooking her legs from his middle, settling her feet to the floor and sliding her pants down her thighs. Gooseflesh blankets her exposed skin and she shivers, mashing her body as close to him as she can. He places a hand on her inner thigh, rubbing the slick of her arousal slowly back up through the folds of her sex and she pulls away, mewling in protest.

His eyes are hooded, almost lazy, save for the blazing animal fever within them, and this is always his favorite part of their intimacy–her impatience; an impatience so desperately on the verge of petulance that it always makes him grin from ear-to-ear. And she would punish him if his face didn’t always look so beautiful in those moments.  

Like now.

“Monster.” she grumbles.

His gaze drifts to her lips and he applies welcoming pressure to her clit. “Yes.”

She shoots forward abruptly, latching her teeth onto his neck and sucking brutally. Enough foreplay.

He gets the message, loud and clear, and then he’s putting only enough distance between them to unbutton his pants, he’s lifting up her tunic to expose her breasts and he’s suckling. First one breast, then the other: teeth and tongue, swipe, suckle, teeth, tongue, bite.  

Rey throws her head back, forgetting her surroundings and banging her skull against the durasteel wall. The pain dimly registers next to the raging onslaught her lover weighs upon her body and she moans a feeble curse before he suddenly whirls her around, pinning her bound wrists above her head and grinding her into the wall.

The sensation of the cold steel on her nipples, the delightful caress of his cock between her thighs, his excited breath panting over her shoulder–she can’t take it anymore. She bows forward, pressing her ass into him and bending her legs, beginning to lower herself to the floor. He follows her obediently, draping his body over her as he settles on his knees and kisses the back of her head, nuzzling her with his nose in a quiet moment of fondness. She sighs blissfully, angling the top of her body further down to the floor and spreading her legs, opening herself for him. 

The wait had driven her so close to madness these long, empty months. She’d never thought a thing possible, to desire the sensation of being filled, stretched, driven into a haunted frenzy of desperation, ready and willing to break, to shatter into a thousand pleasure-stricken pieces, yet here she is.

She jolts at the unexpected sensation of his bare fingers sweeping along her thighs, the Force vibrating pleasurably, heightening as his touch curves around to tease her entrance. He uses his other hand to run tip of his cock rhythmically up and down her sex, tapping as he reaches her clit, then repeating again.  

It’s beautiful, frustrating, damning–

It’s pure torture.

“Ben!” she snarls, her voice too low, too primal. She scarcely recognizes herself in these moments, but it doesn’t frighten her anymore.

He leans forward, nibbling a delicious trail up her neck to the sensitive spot below her ear and bites, hard. At the same time, he nudges the head of his shaft at her entrance, but only just. “I enjoy you like this.” he breathes against her ear. “Wet and open for me.” 

She whines impatiently and shoves her lower half into him, attempting to get him closer, deeper, yet his hands still her hips. 

“You changed everything.” his voice goes ragged. “You ruined me, Rey.” 

Her core pulses at the words and she forces her cheek into the cold floor, any ounce of pride she might have carried evaporating completely. His confession works its way deep into her skin, settling in her bones like the warmth of fire and she turns her head, pressing her other cheek against the floor, the chilliness of the metal anchoring her.

From above Ben loosens her hair, letting it feather around her shoulders and down her back in lengthy waves. He doesn’t say, but she knows he likes it, likes to curl the locks around his fingers and breathe her in, adores it when she is on top and fucking him into oblivion, her honeyed tresses blocking out the world around them.  

Lifting up onto her hands, the metal binders pinching slightly at her wrists, she tilts her chin over her shoulder and latches onto his stare. His half-lidded eyes glitter, his expression exultant as he takes her hips and presses forward. Her mouth falls open, a gasp escaping her at the sensation of being filled, her walls stretching, pulsing, but her eyes never leave his.

He is the first to break contact, his eyes rolling back and a groan rumbling up from his chest in that dark, primal way that makes her quiver. Her breath hitches and she bows forward again, angling her hips as wide as her body will allow, her spine coiled low and her nipples brushing the floor. The collusion of hard cold and stretching heat leaves her grasping uselessly for purchase at the metal, but she only succeeds in painfully scraping her binders.

After allowing her body a moment to adjust, he begins slowly, relishing the slick feel of their bodies as he pumps: in and out, in and out, in… out.

She moans through her teeth as she bites down on her lip, sliding her breasts roughly against the floor, her tunic riding uncomfortably under her arms, but such things are irrelevent. Nothing else matters, only this building crescendo.

Ben changes his tempo temporarily, drawing back to thrust shallowly, once, twice, three times; then, diving deep, sheathing himself to the hilt inside her and the acute strain sparks through her bliss, flaring it to new heights. She cries out, clawing at the floor.

His pace quickens, riding into her sound with delirious enthusiasm and she throws another glance over her shoulder, watching him. She could do this forever–drink in that godly expression, that wild black hair, that taut jaw, those muscles along that throat drawn tight, begging for her to sink her own teeth in, to mark him.

His mind hears her and he instantly finds her prying eyes, the animal gleam within his own swirling, cresting on the verge of chaos. Insanity. This is what she does to him. She smiles lecherously, plunging further into him. Soon enough, she cannot tell where he begins and she ends. Beautiful.   

All mine.

Her body thrills at the echo of his own thoughts and her head lulls back, remembering all the secret moments between them, committing this new one to memory as the Force coalesces, building and building.

His thrusts grow erratic and savage, the slap of their flesh saturating the elevator with the lewd melody of their love-making and she grins. Snoke had been a fool, an arrogant fool. A filthy part of her wonders what his expression would have been had the elevator doors opened at this exact moment. She licks her lips at the thought and Ben groans from behind her.

Kriff Rey!” His tone grates with unhinged desire. Filthy little scavenger, his mind growls. My filthy, filthy little scavenger!

Her body curls as the orgasm hits, drawing a scream from her mouth she never thought possible and Ben kneels forward, pressing her almost completely into the floor and his jagged snarl tingling over her neck as he spills into her, his cock pulsing with each release. 

They lie there for a long time afterward, panting and shivering, Ben’s rapid heartbeat thundering against her back and her own twittering fiercely behind her ribs. The Force hums, content as they come down from their euphoria.

Rey rubs her forehead into the cool metal until her breathing levels out. It takes her a moment to realize Ben has lifted up on his hands. His breath ghosts along her spine as he whispers a string of indistinct words between her shoulder blades.

She strains to look around and he smiles the second their eyes meet, his hand coming up to wipe a wayward strand of hair from her face. “Hi.” he says.

“Hello.” she answers back.

Chapter Text


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"When it comes to livin', dyin' is the easy part!"

- Sampson, Carnivale

.


  

 

 

- o -

 

Ben Solo does not stare at her. He absolutely does not stare.

He had stumbled into the tent haphazardly he tells himself. Some primal human curiosity tickling the base of his spine which had led him to this dark, smoky place with the smell of male sweat and raucous howls, seedy lighting and rough jazz notes. Three sensuous bodies dancing in the yellow glow of the feathered table lamps, their flesh put on display and their faces painted so pretty for these disgusting vultures.

He moves through the crowd, his eyes centering on her as she sways in tandem with the summer blonde at her side, her modest lips puckered in a pout and bangled bra twinkling. The blonde is her sister, while the third, an older brunette to their right, is their mother. They perform erotic dancing for a particular group of visitors to the carnival and he has done everything in his power to avoid this tent — her —since he’d been shanghaied into this mess.

Yet here he is.

His dick twitches traitorously as he watches her, swallowing a gasp of air when her gaze passes over the men disinterestedly before settling on him. And remaining.

Stop looking at her. Stop it!

But that isn’t why he had stumbled in here, is it? To stop? No. So he continues staring, tongue wetting his lower lip and fingers flexing, curling. Hardening into fists.

The girl never falters, holding him in place like a prey animal dangling from a rope, her liquid eyes and sun-kissed skin beckoning the blood in his veins to a chaotic boil.   

Like what you see, farm boy? Her expression taunts him as her hands skim up her sides, cupping her barely clad chest and squeezing. You want to touch these. A ghost of a smile teases her lips—

—and a hoarse groan escapes him, though it’s lost in the clamorous throng of titillated men. The girl’s lashes flicker, conveying to him that she knows. Despite not hearing him, she knows.

A thrill runs up from his toes to his scalp before plummeting back down to his groin, sparking along his nerve endings like a wild storm and hardening his erection to the point of pain. He squints, letting his eyes slip closed for a moment to regain some composure.

When he opens them again, he is startled to find that he has made his way closer to the stage. How? But it doesn’t matter. She’s looking down at him now, close enough he can smell the perfume and feminine musk of her skin. Her half-lidded gaze seems almost lost as she focuses on him, swinging the long string of white pearls around her neck in one hand, while the other toys with the lip of her panties.

Hungry shouts grate his ears as other men reach for her.

“Take ‘em off!”

“Let us see it, sugar!”

Ire breaks through him like a wave, spiraling up his chest and coaxing his fists to wind back, to find a face and crack it open. Any face, really. All of them, a possessive growl wells up within him. If he had been of rational mind, he would have questioned its sudden and unexpected emergence right then. However, seeing as the object of his focus has just tossed him a saucy wink from the stage he can do little more than withstand this uninvited guest.

And to make matters worse, she coaxes on the crowd, eyeing Ben all the while with shadows contouring the planes of her face in warm depth. He scowls at her challenge, his dick twitching violently this time, begging for a clinging body and tight slippery heat, the slap of skin, breathless screams.

Get out of here! Get away! He berates himself.

These women are whores. She doesn’t care about you, doesn’t know you. You’re just the stranger they found back in Tatooine. She’s only taunting you.

Yet she continues to flirt with him, chestnut tendrils kissing her forehead and fingertips grazing up her sternum, circling outward over her breasts and teasing them until her nipples press hard against the material.

Pain stabs at his jaw. He’s bitten his tongue he realizes remotely. More remote still is the taste of blood.

“Give me some of that sweet spunk!”

“Yeah! Let’s see that pretty pink—”

Thankfully, bouncers working at the foot of the stage do what they should have done five minutes ago and knock the drooling idiots back to a safe distance, which allows Ben a moment to turn his rage down a notch… if a notch.

The other two dancers finally notice him gawking at their partner and attempt to divert his attention towards them, but he’s far too fixated to break away from that damning stare of hers.

And he is damned.

When he’d stumbled out of that bizarre trailer they’d cooped him up in wearing nothing but the bearded lady’s bathrobes, when he’d fallen into a puddle of mud seconds later only to look up into her carefully blank face, he’d known. The rest of them had laughed, but she had remained terrifyingly silent, eyes wide and long limbs shivering like a doe.

What were you thinking then? He had wondered for days. You felt it, too, didn’t you?

Yesterday one of the rousties ended up mentioning her name. Rey. Ben had felt an indefinable exhilaration upon hearing it. He had whispered it aloud, letting his lips play with the sound, enjoying its simplicity. But that was before this morning, before Rey had offered him sneering ridicule alongside her sister and the rest of them.

In a show of freaks I’m the outcast. I’m the monster. Thanks for reminding me of that, Rey.

Driven by defensive instinct, he suddenly projects all his veiled malice into a hateful glare, hurling it at her like a stone. Her mouth falls slack in response and a delightful shade of red imbues her cheeks. The earlier defiance she had brandished so intrepidly dims, replaced by… shame .

He blinks.

She seems so young wearing that expression, so unsure, a shockingly pleasant contrast to her scandalous lingerie. One that makes her even more appetizing.

His foot drags back a step.

The way she is looking at him—

—like she could dredge up even his deepest secrets with one lazy flick of her wrist.

He retreats another step, bumping into the men behind him and earning a brutal shove that almost lands him on the unforgiving dirt floor. He has half a mind to turn around and bash their brains in, yet he stops midway, feeling her attention prickling over his shoulders, commanding him to face her.

He attempts to resist it, he truly does, but he succumbs without the slightest hesitation, his body obeying as if suspended on marionette strings. He quickly discovers that Rey has broken ranks with her fellow dancers and is now on all fours, shimmying her shoulders slowly, letting the lamp light catch those pretty gold bangles over her tits. She crawls forward, so close to the edge of the stage, close to him.

And them, the possessive beast in him snarls.  

She plays with the pearls at her neck, pulling them tight and rising up on her knees. Men howl as she cants her hips forward and slides her free hand down to cradle the silken fabric over her cunt. Ben’s insides combust into a conflagration of hellish flames as her eyes push into his, breaking into him like a thief and stealing him blind, save for the pulsing need to climb up on that stage and fuck her in front of everyone. Let every man in this tent know she is his.

No. He viciously forces the desire away. This is wrong. I shouldn’t be here.

I am just fine on my own. Like always.  

Leave. Now. he hisses to himself.

Without daring a another glance at her, he turns and hurries out of the tent, his dick throbbing wretchedly and his insides churning like a restless sea. He stops only after he’s made it to the snake charmer’s trailer and leans against its side with a weighted sigh, rubbing his eyes and willing the fire in him to dwindle, but it never entirely dies out.

After a long time of idling against the trailer with his head back and his eyes closed, he grabs a match and a cigarette from his pants pocket. His hands are finally steady again. Once the cigarette is lit he flicks the match to the ground and takes a prolonged drag, gazing up at the stars.

He doesn’t know how long he stands there, but he vaguely recalls going through another cigarette when he notices that most of the carnival goers have departed, heading back to their families with their safe homes and welcoming beds.

He hasn’t sleep on a proper bed in months. If a prison cot counts, anyway.

“Can I bum one off you?” a voice startles him.

Rey.

He gapes at her, distracted by the tousled quality of her hair and the careless love bite on her neck. The purple mark floods him with disdain and he turns away from her.

“No!” he snaps.

Silence.

If his words affect her, she hides it well.

He peers furtively at her feet, his desire to look into her eyes almost overwhelming, but he refuses to give her the satisfaction.

Releasing a blustery sigh, she sinks against the trailer beside him, pulling loose her buns the rest of the way and pouting at the glow of his cigarette. Too close. He moves away.

Undeterred, she follows, her body heat warming his side. “I was just having a little fun this morning.”

“Fun?” he sniffs, exhaling a long breath.

She watches the smoke fade. “Yeah. Fun. What? You’ve never had fun, farm boy?”

“If that’s your idea of fun, then count me out.”

She smirks and he realizes only too late that he’s looking into her eyes. Shit.    

“I don’t know. I think you kind of liked it.”

His lips peel back. “Which part? The part where you tricked me? Or the part where one of your carny friends tried to knock my teeth out.”

“I think you did far worse to him.” she chuckles.

Ben looks out over the midway, concentrating on the hanging lights.

A owl hoots in the distance.

Rey opens her mouth, meaning to say something; then closes it, lips pursed.

He glances at her shrewdly. “What?”

“I just… I’m sorry about earlier.”

His stomach gives an anxious flip. “It doesn’t mean anything. Don’t worry about.”

“Doesn’t mean anything?” She bulks.

He ignores her, lifting his hand to take another drag when she abruptly rips the cigarette from him and finishes it off, sucking the ashes down to the filter and throwing it to the ground. Her foot stomps on it emphatically as if to prove a point.

“Let’s get one thing straight, hayseed, I don’t just go giving my apologies for nothing. I mean my words, but I don’t have to have you throwing it back in my face!”

Ben turns on her, invading her space. “Let’s get another thing straight, cootch girl , I don’t take well to liars. And your words are about as honest as your profession.”

She slaps him. Hard. So hard his teeth sing.

He had expected as much, hoped for it even, and she thankfully didn’t disappoint. Her retreating form disappears into the hazy shadow of tents as he watches, a small smile teasing his lips.  

Chapter Text

The hot desert air burns her lungs, the noon suns brilliant and unforgiving on her skin as she sprints across the sand with the scream of his ship nearly rending her skull in two. Within the Force his signature barrels straight for her like a wall of pain, a howling screeching thing that is more animal than man.

However, he doesn’t fire.

He can’t… no matter how much a vengeful part of him desires it.  

Finn’s signature thunders in the Force like a battle drum as he watches from a distant escarpment of rocks with Poe, his nails no doubt chewn down to the quick. She concentrates, keeping Ben’s attention on her, clouding his periphery with every memory they’ve ever shared. This will work. It has to work. She has faith. Of all the junctures in her life, each new crossroads more painful than the last, this one is the the one that matters most.

She pumps her legs harder, wind whistling through her dry lips like a storm and the grit coating her tongue as she opens herself completely within the Force. She flares out like a wild beacon and her lightsaber follows suit, brightening to a near blinding white as he closes in, a moth to the flame.

His ship cuts low to the ground, kicking up the desert sand like a razor. She can feel his eyes on her, centering on the seductive whip of her white silk tails as they dance behind her, calling him closer, closer…

Closer Ben.

She takes one final deep breath, dragging as much into her lungs as she can and hones her focus into a single line of action, legs tingling, body humming, head spinning—

—then she’s jumping, thrusting herself high into the air and somersaulting above his ship. Its wall of velocity shocks her, like a tangible thing of flesh and bone pushing her higher. Her lightsaber vibrates turbulently in her hands with the unadulterated energy of this moment and she grips it tighter, promising herself she won’t let go. She won’t let either of them go this time.

The ship speeds beneath her as her heart counts down. 3… His head jerks up, eyes following her. 2... Her name verbally leaves his lips in awe. 1! And she thrusts down, piercing the hull of his ship with all the power she can muster.   

Her blade hits the mark and the ship malfunctions. Time slows as he goes down, digging through the sand like a dagger and cutting a long ugly wound until the machine slinks to a stop a few hundred yards away. She tumbles through the ship’s wake and lands unsteadily on her knees, a bark of pain shooting up her spine.

The world stops completely and she waits, shielding her eyes from the sun with a shaking hand. Nothing but smoke rises from the crash, a dead silence closing in around them. Her eyes travel fleetingly to Finn and Poe, finding their distant silhouettes moving hastily down the rocks. She rises to her feet, looking again to the downed ship. Still no movement.

Making up her mind she waves the boys off and they pause over the sand, eyeing her anxiously as she starts for the ship. Her heart rages in her chest at his silence, feeling his glare even from such a distance. She whispers through the Force, Come out Ben.  

A sharp response follows, involuntary, brimming with so much emotion it rips her breath away. Like uprooting a knife from the flesh , she thinks. Then, the glass of the ship’s viewport smashes outward and his hulking silhouette materializes as if a mirage, wavering black against gold. Her foot almost stops, hesitating ever-so-slightly at the sight of him, but she pushes forward, walking faster.

This will work.

It has to.  

He approaches her, a turbulent shadow on the desert with the harsh sun casting his ivory face in pure light. He hasn’t slept in weeks, the grime and blood dotting his cheeks like constellations of a foreign sky she herself knows. War.

His stride slows as he closes in, his lightsaber yet to be ignited and his cape billowing in the wind. She stops, waiting for him. At thirty paces between them he halts, his body falling deathly still. His hair toys in the breeze and Rey hears the Force siphoning around them, surrounding them in a vortex of pure energy.

Rey opens her mouth to speak, but no words come out. At last she settles on his name instead. “Ben.”

“Don’t call me that.” his retort lashes out at her like a whip.

She scowls, ignoring his command. “Ben. Why did you come here?”

He doesn’t reply.

“I didn’t call you here to fight.” She licks her lips, gauging his reaction, but only finding a tranquil mask of death. Continuing, she dares a step closer. “I refuse to continue this vicious cycle.”

“Then you should have taken my offer.” He says coldly.

She chuckles despite herself, tears balling in her throat. “And what was that offer exactly? Rule with you on a throne of ashes? Because that’s what would have been left! You want to kill the past, but you can’t kill what’s inside you, Ben! But you would have tried. You’d have burned yourself to the ground and what would I have been left with?” They’re falling now, uninterrupted and hot down her cheeks.

“That’s not—”

“You’ve never lied to me before, Ben Solo. Best not start now.” Rey interjects icily.

The two of them circle one another, but she isn’t sure how moves first. Her or him? Maybe they both did.

“You don’t belong where you are.” he murmurs, his hand hovering over his lightsaber.

“Neither do you!” she shouts and suddenly advances on him, forcing him to draw his weapon.

It snarls as he brings it to life and she raises her own, their glares entangled, but as she brings it over her head she switches tactics, suddenly slamming it into the ground with knee bent. The sand spits and sizzles around it, and he stops his blade just short of her neck. She looks up at him, the red of his blade dying her eyes a grisly maroon.

Like the forest…

So long ago now.

“Are you going to kill me, Ben? Because I refuse to stand idly by and watch you destroy yourself.” Despite all the chaos of energy around them, her heartbeat slows. Resolute. “So either you kill me now, or you come with me.”

His mask falters, his mouth falling open and his saber quaking in an unsteady hand.

She deactivates hers and rises up. “I know what you want. I know your pain… and your regrets.”

He swallows, throat working vigorously.

She takes another step closer. “Being the Supreme Leader isn’t what you really wanted, was it? It was an excuse to start over. But your father is gone. You killed him, Ben.”

His chin jerks as if physically slapped.

Another step.

His lightsaber dips, as if it might fall from his grasp, but then he thrusts it forward at her like an accusatory finger. “Why didn’t you just say yes?”

She smiles through her tears, sad, tired. “The same reason you didn’t come with me.”

That gives him pause, his hardened eyes raking over her and his feet shuffling unconsciously forward. She allows herself a taste of the longing she feels around him, letting it sink into her flesh like the heat of the suns above them.

“Make your choice.” she whispers, hooking her lightsaber to her belt.

Finn and the others survey the scene with baited breath as Rey waits, her attention focused solely on Ben. Several emotions flits across his face: rage, hurt, regret, longing and finally… determination . Her eyes widen as he abruptly deactivates his saber and stalks toward her, capturing her in his arms and hoisting her up off the ground. He hugs her like a man lost at sea and she holds him, burying her face into his neck and hooking her fingers like claws into his surcoat.

He utters an apology near her ear, his voice barely audible. It doesn’t matter. She pulls back to look at him, wanting to look into his velvet dark eyes, so like his mother’s, but he doesn’t give her a chance. The soft touch of his lips short circuits her mind and her toes curl at the pleasant sensation. They are warm, if a little cracked, and the desperate swipe of his tongue makes a foreign heat pool in her stomach. He does it again, as if wanting to commit her taste to memory and she indulges him, wrapping her hands possessively around his neck while he cradles her face with his free hand.

I’m sorry, too. The words pour from her heart into him and he drinks them greedily. She tries to speak the words aloud, wanting Ben to hear them, but he won’t let her go, deepening the kiss.

No. He begs. Just… for a moment.

She understands at once and drags him closer, letting her fingers skim over his own moist cheeks. I won’t let you be alone. She promises. Ever again, Solo. You hear me?