Rey lounged in her bunk in the sleeping quarters with one of the jedi texts she had stolen from Luke propped up against her knees. They were in hyperspace on the way to Ilum and expected to be for some time, and though Rey was in desperate need of sleep, she also was in desperate need of more knowledge about the force.
Ben walked into the small room barefoot with only his black high-waisted pants on. “Refresher’s open, if you want to clean up. Watch out though, Growlie’s in there trying to attack his reflection.”
Rey glanced up at him and blushed at his bare chest. She had always wondered if she had caught him fresh out of the shower that time, and it certainly seemed to be the case. “I might go later. I’m almost done with this chapter.”
Ben sat down on the bunk opposite her. Rey felt mixed relief at discovering his ship’s sleeping quarters were not designed for sleeping together. She felt oddly liberated by having someone to share intimacy with, but she also wasn’t sure how far she was ready to take things. Furthermore, she had no way of protecting herself from pregnancy, and she knew she wasn’t ready for that. Separate bunks were a good thing for now, at least.
“That’s one of the ancient jedi texts. I recognize that book,” Ben said.
“I’m not surprised. I took it from Luke when he refused to help the Resistance,” Rey said and smiled at him. “He wasn’t using it, after all.”
Ben snorted and grinned at her affectionately. “Scavenger,” he said.
“Did you just laugh?” Rey asked. Ben shrugged, still smiling. “I want to hear it again,” she said, but he shook his head. “Oh come on, please?”
“Maybe later,” Ben said. Rey pouted at him and went back to her book. “I’ve been wondering: How did you learn to read? You were sold too young to be very literate, if literate at all, and you had no friends in that place.”
“Someone would come in from the Tuanul settlement once a week to teach locals basic things like reading and math. Unkar Plutt, that’s the one who bought me, knew that literate scavengers brought in better goods, so he didn’t try to stop it even though they fed us when they came. It was the one reliable meal I got, and it saved my life many times over.” Rey glanced up from her book and saw a disturbed look on Ben’s face. “What?”
“I’m not sure you want to know.”
Rey pursed her lips to the side, set the book down, and faced Ben fully with her legs dangling off the bunk. “Tell me,” she said, staring at Ben.
Ben sighed deeply and leaned forward with his hands clasped. “You heard Finn accuse me of destroying a village. The village he saw me destroy was the Tuanul settlement on Jakku.” Rey gasped in horror, but Ben continued. “They were harboring a man named Lor San Tekka, who had the missing map piece to Luke Skywalker.”
“So when I found BB-8…”
“He had been fleeing me,” Ben said. “I made a bad bargain. I told San Tekka I would preserve his village if he gave me the map, but not if he withheld it. I did not think he would forfeit the lives of everyone there for someone as worthless as Skywalker, but he did.”
Rey narrowed her eyes. “You didn’t have to follow through on your threat!”
“Yes, I did!” Ben shouted, his anger exploding from him as he slammed the compartment underneath his bunk.
Rey’s eyes shot open in shock at the sudden display of violence. She waited a few seconds for him to say or do something, but he was still. “Ben?” she asked tentatively.
“I regretted it,” he said hoarsely. “I knew I couldn’t go back on my word, I knew Snoke would be proud of me, but I regretted putting their lives on the line. I didn’t intend for innocent people to die.” He took a deep breath and looked Rey directly in the eye. “I regret killing my father too. I’m sorry I took him from you. He was a lousy father, but you cared for him all the same. I did too. At the time, I thought killing him would erase the pain, but... I wish...”
Ben’s voice broke into sobbing. Rey sniffed as her own eyes filled with tears. She climbed from the bunk and stepped up against him, hugging his head to her stomach as he grieved. “Me too,” she said, and Ben wrapped his arms tightly around her waist.
They stayed like that until Ben’s breathing calmed to normal. “Thank you,” he said, rubbing his face on her shirt briefly before looking up at her with eyes red from crying.
“You’re welcome,” Rey said and leaned down to kiss him gently on the forehead. She moved to sit next to him on his bunk with their sides pressed together. His chest was warm, solid, and very distracting.
“The Tuanal settlement is gone, but I can use my power as Supreme Leader to improve the lives on Jakku. Was Unkar Plutt a reasonable man?”
Rey shook her head to clear her focus and answer his question. “Not at all. He was a filthy cheating snake, and hopefully dead from blood loss now. Chewie ripped his arm off on Takodana when he followed me there.”
Ben quirked his head to the side and raised both eyebrows. “Chewie actually ripped his arm off?” Rey nodded. “To think it wasn’t all talk. Dad had been going on about Chewie ripping arms off for ages. He used to threaten me with it when I was a kid, but it never happened.”
Rey smiled at him. “Of course not. Chewie would never do that to a kid… Unkar Plutt… I would have put a lightsaber through him if I had one at the time. I did try to shoot him, but my safety was still on, and I was caught. Chewie saved me.” She paused, lost in her memories. “I had forgotten that Chewie was part of your family too. He’s… he’s still with the Resistance, you know, if you’d like to come visit.”
Ben frowned. “The last time Chewie and I were near each other he shot me in the side with his bowcaster. I don’t think he wants to see me.”
Rey bit her lip. Ben had a point. “He could have aimed at your head though,” Rey said. Ben raised an eyebrow at her. “I’m sure he would be willing to give you another chance. He knew I was going to you, you know. He was the one who flew the Falcon close enough that I could get to the Supremacy in an escape pod. He never tried to talk me out of it or anything. I think he’s been hoping as much as anyone that the Ben he knew was still underneath that mask.”
She caressed his cheek, letting her hand linger on his jawline. He leaned forward and kissed her. “I’m not the Ben he knew.”
Rey gently grasped his chin, turning his face so she could look at it. “No, but you’re not the Kylo Ren that Snoke created either. You’re someone else now. Someone who wanted to help me even after I tried to kill you. Someone who destroyed a monster to save the girl. Someone who took a chance to know his enemies as friends. Someone who adopted a porg and named it Growlie,” she said, chuckling as she finished speaking. “You’re someone who saw a nobody scavenger who came from nothing and offered her the galaxy.”
She yawned and offered him a sleepy smile, for though she wanted to stay awake with him, the exhaustion of the day was finally catching up to her. Ben took her hand from his chin and kissed it before setting it down on his knee.
“I’m someone who sees a beautiful woman who needs to get her rest. You should change before bed. Where are the pajamas I got you?”
Rey frowned as she tried to recall what he was talking about. “Pajamas? Oh, right… you said you would get me some.” She furrowed her brow trying to think through the clothes he had left with her. “I don’t think there were pajamas.”
“What?” Ben said.
“All those clothes… I don’t remember seeing pajamas.”
Ben’s gaped at her. “You’re certain?”
Rey shrugged, got up, and pulled open the duffel bag of clothes, dumping its contents on the floor. “Dress, dress, combat clothes, dress, unmentionables, robe, dress, more combat clothes, more unmentionables…” She tossed each item in its own pile on her bunk until there was nothing left on the floor. “No pajamas. It’s fine. I’ll just sleep in what I’m wearing.”
“That can’t be comfortable,” Ben said, scanning her up and down. Rey glanced down at her own clothes, the same vest, sleeveless tunic, and capris she had been wearing during their battle with Snoke, and she realized then she probably hadn’t bathed since then either. There simply hadn’t been time with everything else going on and being locked in while on the Falcon.
She blushed as she realized she must stink as well, though Ben was probably too refined to ever complain. He was noble in his way, and as Rey thought about it, she remembered that his mother had been referred to as Princess Leia by some, which meant there was a very good chance that she was standing in front of a literal prince while she wore clothes and bodily filth that had not been cleaned in several days or battles.
“Maybe you’re right, but I’ll go visit the refresher and get clean first.” She fumbled through the pile of clothes and pulled out a combat outfit that didn’t look awful and some random lingerie, since she needed something to wear underneath. “This should do, right?”
“Wait,” Ben said. He stood up and reached into a compartment, pulling out some of his own clothes. He held up a simple, black, long-sleeve shirt against her. It was long enough that it reached mid-thigh on her. “Wear this. It’s soft.”
Rey took the shirt. “Okay,” she said, hugging the shirt to her. It smelled like him, and she struggled not to blush at the thought of his smell being wrapped around her as she slept. Her legs would be awfully exposed in the shirt though without pants. She looked at the combat pants she held, which were a rough, rugged material designed for durability over comfort, and then thought about how he might react to seeing her legs as exposed as his chest.
She left everything but the shirt and lingerie behind as she left for the refresher.