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A Tale of Monsters and Legends

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“Fuck,” Kylo growled in her ear, his warm breath making her lean back in pleasure. Her jaw was starting to ache, and she was pretty sure she had drooled like… everywhere… but somehow the gag was calming. There was no need to agonize over random thoughts or how to express what she needed, so she was free to just sort of close her eyes and let her mate and her hormones carry her away. And God, had he, she was sore and sated and mostly ready to take a nap once his knot released, if he would let her. He seemed able to predict her needs with perfect accuracy, and Rey was actually impressed with how he knew exactly what she needed even when she herself didn’t.

But right now, what she really needed was for his fucking phone to stop ringing. The strains of Renata’s backwoods country song finally ceased, for the third time, but it was quickly replaced by the Harry Potter theme from Rey’s phone. Both of which were on the coffee table, on the other side of the room.

Rey whined, plaintively, her hands drifting towards her face, and he pulled her as close as he could with his wrists still bound by the handcuffs.

“No, you leave that thing on until I say otherwise, omega. We’re not done here.” He mouthed at her mating mark, where he had bitten her again tonight, leaving it sensitive and painful. She moaned as his tongue moved over her skin, from the mark up along her neck, tracing the shell of her ear. Her inner muscles clenched around him, and she squirmed in his arms, chasing the thrill of pleasure already building in her spine.

His hands slid down, where she lay half-sprawled over him, his leg twined with hers to hold her open so he could thumb her apex while his knot stretched inside of her. A few firm circles of his strong fingers and she was cresting again, slick gushing out and giving just enough lubrication that he was able to very carefully slide out of her.

Her head fell back onto the pillow as he gently rolled her to her back and got up, cursing, to find his phone.

“What the fuck, Argent, Rey is in heat -"

The phone slid suddenly from his boneless grip, and Rey gathered herself up on her knees, fingers quickly working open the leather fastenings keeping her gagged. Kylo fell to his knees and she was there, wrapping herself around him from behind, murmuring nonsense words to calm him.

“He’s back," he whispered. “Luke Skywalker."

He didn’t move, or try to explain his shocked reaction, so Rey picked up his phone, noticing it was still on the call.

“Nat? What’s going on?"

“Skywalker claims he’s found a ‘cure’ for the polymorphism mutations,” the other woman said grimly. Because she was in heat, and had spent the last three hours gagged and being thoroughly fucked, it took her brain a second to catch on.

“Wait… A cure? Why would anyone… It’s not a disease!” Kylo gave an angry huff of agreement, and Rey spared him a quick glance. He seemed to be getting over the shock of the sudden news, but his expression was still dark.

“He announced it in a press conference. Leia was there, too." Leia? She couldn’t be on his side, could she? “She says she wouldn’t take it herself, but she thinks people should have the choice .”

"Oh.”

"Rey,” Kylo held his hand out for the phone and she handed it over obediently. He gave her a long, contemplative look before holding it up to his ear awkwardly. “Thank you, Renata. I trust you can still take over leadership duties for the next few days? We’ll make sure to keep in touch.”

He got to his feet, setting the phone on the nightstand where it was within easy reach, then turned to Rey.

“I don’t recall giving you permission to take that off, but since you did, we might as well hydrate.” He opened the mini fridge in the room and handed her a water.  Rey sat on the bed, downing it obediently under his watchful gaze, then he finished his and stared at her, his eyes taking on a familiar glaze.

“I really think we should -"

“No." 

He lifted the gag from the table and held it out again. Frowning, Rey eyed her mate, scrambling back on the bed as he tried to stand between her legs.

“Kylo, please. I’m scared. I need an explanation! What exactly is going on, why is your uncle -”

"Because the only thing Luke Skywalker hates more than me is himself. And I don’t want to talk about this right now.” He moved towards her and she darted from the bed, but with him standing between her and the and the exit, Rey was fighting a losing battle.

He was difficult enough to control during his rut when her body wasn’t sending out a flood of ‘come fuck me’ pheromones, she knew if he got close, his touch would drain the fight out of her completely. The only thing keeping her from capitulating right now was the anxiety surging through her at the thought of Luke Skywalker and Leia putting forward a ‘cure’ that could very easily become a mandatory treatment, especially given the current political climate. Thoughts of abortion activists and civil rights struggles filled her head, with images of dystopian movies and screaming evangelists playing on repeat, and she felt her heart pounding in her chest.

“Alpha," she whispered plaintively as he approached with cautious steps. Annoyed and horny as he was, he still didn’t want to hurt her, and deep inside she knew that, but… being in heat seemed to ramp up her anxiety to an eleven. “Please, I’m scared -"

Abruptly he stopped in his tracks, lifting his face to taste her scent, and his entire demeanor changed. He laid the gag on the table and held his hands out, beckoning her with the clear intention of providing comfort.

“Shhh… okay, okay. It’s alright, Rey, come here.” She sniffled, feeling tears prick her eyes, and then she broke, unable to resist the beacon of warmth and comfort and safety his arms provided. Of course it would be okay, Kylo was her mate, her alpha, he had killed for her and crossed half the globe to rescue her.

She ducked between his cuffed wrists, coming up to lay her head on his shoulder, and he held her to him, smoothing her hair and whispering soothing nonsense in her ear while she sobbed.

“I brought your medication. Do you want to take it now, or do you want to play a little more? Let me take of you, I’ll make you forget all about my stupid fucking family.” He kissed her ear, her neck, and the glands nearby, and Rey shivered as her body begged again for release. “That’s it, sweetheart, it’s alright, let go for now..."

With some help from her, given his own bindings, he slid down to his knees and pushed her legs apart, darting his tongue out to tease her, until her arousal slid warm and heavy from inside and she blossomed under his attentions.

“Fuck, you smell good. But not as good as you taste…” Suddenly he was tugging on her hips, and Rey lost her already precarious balance, letting Kylo help her to her knees. He kissed her hard as soon as she was steady, forcing his tongue into her mouth until she moaned with need. “Yes. You like it too, don’t you? Say it."

“I like the way I taste on your tongue,” she said breathlessly. She leaned in, greedy to prove it to him, and he let her suck his lip into her mouth, nipping hard before she sucked her taste from his tongue with soft whimpers of pleasure.

“Will you let me fuck you now? Be a good girl for me, sweetheart. I know you hate this, but trust me.” He caught her eyes, his own flashing golden for a brief moment, making the base animal instincts in her brain sit up and beg.

“Yes. Yes, please, Kylo. I - I’m sorry - I’ll be good, I’ll take the gag again - I trust you.” She reached blindly toward the table, finding the device and biting into it, lowering her head obediently for him to fasten.

“That’s my good, sweet omega." Slick spilled between her legs at his praise, her instincts surging with delight. Yes, yes, I’ll be so good for you, fuck me, hold me, protect me. Alpha.

“Rey." She looked up at his wide, bemused eyes. “I heard that."

Oh… She stared at him, then gave a sort of shrug. She wasn’t going to apologize for the half-coherent musing of her hormones, and there wasn’t much she could do to stop her thoughts. If he wanted to fuck her, he would have to cope with it somehow, and she reached between them and grasped him firmly with both hands, satisfying herself that he most definitely did want to fuck her.

“It’s fine, Rey. Actually, I like it.” He smiled, a sort of almost shy look of affection in his eyes that somehow made her want him inside her all the more. Good, I’m a good girl, please fuck me, knot me, I need you, I need your knot, please, alpha… “ You want my knot already?”

Wide-eyed, she nodded, and he kissed her forehead sweetly before motioning awkwardly with his arms. “Turn around and ride me then, you’re the one who can move.”

Very quickly, with limited amounts of repositioning, she managed to situate herself, straddling his lap and reaching down to fit him to her. They moaned together as she slowly sunk down, savoring every inch as he filled her, until she was stretched and filled completely. She tried to ride him like he wanted, but she wasn’t fast enough to satisfy his rut, and eventually he lifted his arms from around her and pushed her forward, rising up on his knees to fuck her with a strength that shook her entire body.

Ohgodohfuckkyloharderpleasealpha… God, you’re strong, my beautiful proud alpha, I am so lucky to have you, I would do anything for you… don’tstopdon’tstopkylo...

“If you talked like that when you were in heat, I wouldn’t have to gag you. Fuck, Rey!” He slammed into her with all his strength and she whimpered, pushed into the floor beneath him, her body singing with pleasure. His hands were on her shoulders, holding her down as he became increasingly erratic, and when his knot started to swell, she soared, waves of pleasure wracking her body as she sobbed and screamed and howled.

God that feels good, I love your knot…

“Good, because you’re going to take it all fucking night, omega.” She could feel his hands in her hair, gently moving it away from her shoulders so he could kiss the places where his fingers had bruised her, tending to her while he was swollen wide inside of her, locking them together. “Are you hurting? Was I too rough? I know you can take it, Rey, but I need you to tell me if I get carried away.”

She shook her head emphatically.

No, you’re so good… I want you to mark me… I want to see it in the mirror so I can remember how well-fucked I’ve been.

“Jesus. You’re gonna kill me with that." He found the imprint of where his hands had been and pressed his thumbs into the tender flesh until she gasped and whimpered, then kissed it soothingly. “I love you so goddamn much."

Yes , she nodded tiredly. I know.

Chapter Text

Thirteen years ago, when she was assigned to escort a phenomenally stupid omega reporter and his annoyed but apologetic photographer out of fucking Kandahar to the RAF airstrip, Renata Argent had hated omegas and everything that came with them. She hated the saccharine heat-scent that always wafted about at the worst possible time, and their seemingly innocent inability to prepare for something that happened every goddamn month at the same goddamn time. It would be like forgetting about her period, which was remarkably light for her, being an alpha, but she still got her fucking shot from the medics every month because who the hell would want to be dripping more fluid between their legs in the already hot/cold hell of these ragged foothills?

It was just basic personal responsibility, like it was her basic personal responsibility as an alpha not to try and claim the little idiot she and her team had had to divert their route to rescue and escort to safety. Even though he whined, and begged, and kept creeping up on her position to get closer to her smell, no matter how many times she had to command him to get back in formation. She had hated that little idiot more than she’d hated anyone she’d met outside of her own family, hated him when they were caught by an unexpected patrol of warlords and had to reroute, and half her people were blown to shreds by an IED in the middle of the night because she was too distracted by his whining. Hated him for still being alive, when he’d crawled to her through the wreckage of their convoy and begged her to protect him.

Alpha, please. Hated him when it became clear that they would be captured, and his begging had changed. Please. You know what they’ll do. Please. Alpha.

His scent would distract them. Argent was a renowned sniper. He could lure them away… She couldn’t hate him after that. He’d saved all their lives, even if it led to Ishida mistakenly catching her in the blast of his divine fire. They had not had the time to explain to his photographer that it had been the omega’s idea. And Renata bore the scars of her failure to protect, to do the one thing alphas were supposed to do for an omega.

Ishida was watching the review of Luke and Leia’s press conference with Innara held tightly in his lap. She watched them through the glass sliding doors of the beachfront mansion quietly for a while before stepping inside. The calm before the storm.

“Alpha!"

She caught his eyes over Innara’s head as her omega mate rushed to cling to her, to reach down and press her hand against the inside of Renata’s thigh, opposite her fire-branded right side, where the weretiger had left her mating bite. She knew he was thinking of the reporter - Daniel, it wasn’t fair to erase his name - and their argument afterwards when he’d accused of her of being the most pathetic excuse for an alpha he’d ever seen while she lay recuperating from her wounds.

I hate this. All of it. If I could just be human, I’d take it over this alpha bullshit any day. Being a cat isn’t worth it.

It had shocked him, her virile hatred of what she was, of what they were and the burdens that came with that power. But at that time, she couldn’t see it as anything but a burden, it brought her only pain and grief and self-hatred. Wolves had packs. They were common, mates were easy to find, even for a female alpha. But Renata had the audacity to be a special combination of rare, as her super ops commander had so eloquently put it. The lynx was… whatever it was, there were better totems obviously, but it made her Native American heritage unquestionable, and she took some pride in that, even if everyone in Oklahoma had some Indian blood, indigenous shifters were rare and she was welcomed warmly by tribal authorities. She could make her peace with it, knowing she carried a spiritual link to her father’s people, whom she would otherwise never have known.

Being and alpha was harder. For a while she’d tried desperately to hide it, but keeping secrets in the military was impossible, and there was no mistaking the banding on her wrist during her physical. The examining doctor had been so surprised, he had to bring in another physician, an expert on supernaturals, who wanted her permission to use her files for research. It would be anonymous, of course, and she had laughed at that.

“How many indigenous female alphas do you know?" She had asked. “How many lynxes do you know?" They were endangered for fuck’s sake. "How many have platinum hair and green eyes and abnormally keen eyesight?”

No, she emphatically refused to participate in any research, even if she were a genuine freak of genetics. She didn’t plan on having children (they weren’t even sure she could ), so there was no reason to keep records for posterity. When she was assigned overseas, she was prescribed hormone regulators to shut down her minimal monthly cycles, and an estimated dose of suppressants that had to be specially calculated for her height and weight, because alphas weren’t supposed to be short, small-boned creatures, but lynxes were compact - a lot of power crammed into a body only slightly larger than a house cat. The suppressants worked mainly by shutting down everything , even her emotions and sense of smell were numbed, but she was perfectly fine with that, and for nine fucking years she had kept her designation to herself.

And then the doctor refused to continue her high dosage suppressants while she was recovering after they shipped out of Kandahar. The base commander had given an order for emergency heat procedures, and the coward of a medic on duty had reported her. She had been almost forcibly marched to the steel outbuilding that served as the base’s heat quarters and locked in with the wide-eyed omega, an officer no less, with nothing more than a hasty apology and orders for her to ‘take care of things.’

That had been… an experience. Renata had no idea what she was doing. She’d never had sex of any kind, but she knew in a vague sort of way that she preferred women, she just didn’t really know how that… actually worked. And Captain Holdo - Amilyn - was undeniably in heat. And like twenty years older than her. She was furious at first, pacing and refusing to speak, until the last of the numbing pain medicine left her system, and everything came to her at once in a tornado of emotion and sensation. Then she felt guilty - this poor omega had been trapped away from medics for a week, it wasn’t her fault and of course Renata would help her, how could she not? And oh, fuck, why is she crying? Nonono, stop, I’m here, I’ll take care of you, I promise… She didn’t know what to do, but she wanted desperately to try, for the first time in her life some semblance of warmth and empathy for another human being flooded her empty heart and it changed her.

“It’s alright. We’ll help each other." She had such sweet eyes, this omega, wide and blue as the ocean. Electricity shocked her skin when Amilyn took her hand in trembling fingers, peeling back the bit of linen she used to cover her gland. She could feel it pulse, her eyes falling on the puffy, swollen skin in shock and embarrassment, but Captain Holdo wasn’t frightened in the least.

“Sorry, I -"

"It’s alright, alpha. I’m glad to see you’re interested.” And while she stammered shyly, the omega pressed her lips to it, and her tongue, and suddenly Renata would have gleefully murdered anyone who came in the room. “Please," she begged with those beautiful eyes.

“Tell me.” The command in her voice shocked her. She watched the other woman lick her wrist and whimper at the taste, and she found that she could do this. “Tell me what you want, omega. Exactly what you want."

It still felt unreal, afterwards. Amilyn let her go with words of gratitude, and she had gone away with a new kind of pride in herself and her body, a feeling that was almost immediately turned to shame when she faced the reaction of her unit to the knowledge that her medical leave had been extended due to an unexpected heat emergency.

“You should have told us, Argent. We would have helped you."

"Seriously, you had the Commander pair you? With a stranger?”

Scowling, she turned her back on them. “No. It’s not what you think, and it’s none of your business."

Oh, she’d tried to keep it to herself, but it was all over the base in the morning. No one said anything to her, at first, but eventually she got used to eating alone, reading the sci-fi/fantasy novels Amilyn loaned her. It didn’t matter. Renata had spent her whole life alone. Her stepfather, obviously expecting another omega he could cow and plow, had kicked her out when she presented, but even before that, she’d been a loner.

Being alone didn’t bother her. She could smell a little more acutely now, even with suppressants, so she could tell when her unit mates needed leave sometimes before they did, but after trying once to warn someone and facing the backlash, she kept her mouth shut. She got used to the increased sensitivity of her feline nose, the occasional throbbing in her wrist at a particular scent, keeping her own company… and then the questions started.

Finally accustomed to the oddity of her existence, her coworkers and compatriots decided they needed to know how it worked. Was she positive she was an alpha? How could a woman even knot someone? When did she first present, and what happened then?

She started taking her meals in the officer’s mess with Holdo, where she tried to hide how absolutely miserable she was, and the omega scented her distress and comforted her gently with fan theories about their favorite books and stories about growing up in California with the famous Leia Organa living next door. The next heat was better, she scented it early, licking her lips as the Captain settled in across from her, favoring her with her gentle smile.

“I’m sorry to ask again, but I prefer women and I… Well, I like you, Nat. But I don’t want to force it on you like before-”

"Yes. Yes, I’ll…” She had been so young and shy then, she hadn’t had the right words. “I like you, too. I think I might… fight anyone else who tried.”

This time everyone knew. They locked themselves up in Captain Holdo’s tiny but private quarters for three days. When she went back to her unit, her CO was waiting with orders for her to report to medical for psychological evaluation . Renata Argent did not cry, as a general rule. It was a waste of time she’d gotten over in her teens. But she broke down and slipped into Amilyn’s quarters that night, and every night after. She was sure they were breaking a million rules, but no one of rank enough to act on it seemed to care, and they were both too useful to be punished in any meaningful way.

And then Amilyn was promoted. She left Nat with the enchanted woven bracelet to comfortably cover her wrist, and a recommendation for promotion to special assignment, moving her into NCO status so she could take her meals in peace and didn’t have to face the disgusted stare of her sergeant. The bump in pay grade didn’t hurt either. She hunted targets in the dark with her special gear, disappearing at twilight and returning at dawn.

Two months of being utterly alone, and Renata had taken up smoking and begged the medics for the strong suppressants again. She still hated other omegas. The cigarettes only half-helped, so she took up chewing cloves like the local troops until she was caught by a flying chunk of exploding tire a year later and discharged when they decided the brain damage was permanent.

Ishida Noel had been looking for some muscle to add to his growing business, a field agent who could actually bring down targets with bounties, and she’d taken the job reluctantly after he sought her out through mutual contacts. It was surprisingly busy, and the work was fulfilling in its own way, but what really kept her attention was his sultry, doe-eyed information broker.

“Nat?” That sultry voice dragged her back to the present, sharp with fear. “What does he mean, ‘a cure’? Is that really Luke Skywalker?” Worry colored her fine features as she stared up at Renata, and she wrapped protective arms around her mate.

“Shhh..." She rested her chin on Innara’s head, inhaling her scent of tropical flowers and sandalwood, stroking her sleek, straightened hair. “No one’s going to force anything on us. Not even Skywalker. He’s just old and bitter, probably.”

"I know, Ishida’s been telling me to trust you and Kylo since I got home, but it’s just so… bizarre.” She looked up, her emerald eyes finding Renata’s. "I don’t understand why anyone would want to give this up. Like we’re diseased or something.”

Renata took a deep breath, feeling her other mate’s eyes on her.

"There was a time in my life when I thought it was a curse," she answered honestly. “Where I grew up, it was considered… wrong. Demonic, by some really religious types. I used to think I’d do anything to just be...human. But I don’t think that anymore. We have a right to exist in this world as ourselves, the way we are, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes other people, just as every other human. It’s not a disease. We don’t need to be cured.” She sighed. “I can understand why some might consider it a burden, but so is being a lesbian, and no one would dare offer to cure me of that. It’s just outdated thinking.”

Her wolf mate heaved a sigh of relief, and she watched his brow rise and fall in surprise. After everything that had happened, he’d still been uncertain. Because he knew her before.

That was thirteen years ago. So while she could look at the man on the screen, and understand something of his desire to get out from under what he felt was an unfair burden… She did not confuse sympathy for agreement.

“I mean it, Ishi. We’re in this together." She held his eyes while Innara pressed her face into Renata’s neck, sucking in her scent like it was water in the desert, and he nodded once before turning to switch off the TV.

“Any word from Kylo?"

"A little. He wasn’t entirely brain-dead alpha meat yet.” She shrugged. "He seemed as shocked as you and me. But while they’re busy, I’m in charge."

"So what do we do, Lieutenant?” Ishida asked with slight smirk at the irony of using her military title 9nce again. Renata grinned.

“For now we wait and see.” She glanced down at her watch and narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. “Finn’s back at work, what do you say we go pay him a visit? I’m sure we could all use a drink.”

“Or two," Ishida agreed. “I’ll tell Jacen."

Chapter Text

   

"What’s this?” Finn glanced at the stack of brightly-colored fliers his boss dropped on the bar by the till. His eyes fell on the bold black script, and he rubbed the back of his neck with a hand, giving Elle a little sneak of side-eye. “The Omega’s Ball? Is it time for that already?"

"One month,” his fellow jaguar gave him her brightest smile, batting expertly-applied false eyelashes. Even on a Tuesday night, Elle’s make up was perfectly applied to the last speck of glitter. Be-ringed fingers clacked over the tablet they used for credit transactions as she tallied up sales from the previous night, frowning at one line in particular. “Senjir let Zack leave his tab open again."

"Probably hoping he’ll come back tonight to clear it up,” Finn said, sharing a knowing look with her. “I’m sure he’ll be in later.”

“Certainly thinks he’s being sly, doesn’t he?” She laughed, patting Finn’s arm. "I can’t wait to see how that plays out. Put a few of these on the tables, if you don’t mind, please." She gestured to the stack of fliers. Finn sighed.

“Rose hates this thing," he complained. “I thought it was kind of..."

"Exploitive? Demeaning? Fetishizing Omegas? A disgusting display of primitive urges we should all have advanced beyond at this point?” She rolled her eyes as Finn shifted uncomfortably. He was pretty sure he’d heard every single one of those things come from his mate at one point or another.

“Ahhh… Something like that?” He hazarded. Elle was an omega, too, and he didn’t want to get into an argument with his boss, but he felt honor-bound to defend Rose’s right to her opinions. “She’s worked really hard with Amilyn Holdo to advance omega rights -”

“Of course, Finn. And she’s right, obviously, but it also makes millions of dollars for the charities involved, and this year those charities are OLGBT and the Persephone Project, so…” She shrugged. “You can rally against society while still working from within to change it.”

He shrugged, taking a stack and making a circuit of the small club, leaving a few papers on each table and another stack at the opposite end of the bar.

“It’s your club. Your rules. I’m just warning you because you know when Rose sees this -”

“When Rose sees what?" Elle was grinning, while Finn took a deep breath and slowly turned, fliers in hand, to face the woman in question. He tried his best welcoming smile.

“Hey there, my lady love -"

"Don’t.” Rose’s face was merciless as she snagged a paper from his hand and read it over. “The Omega's Ball -"

"Read the whole thing, please,” Elle said quickly, coming to lean over the bar beside them. Frowning, Rose did, and Finn took the time to give it more careful perusal as well.

“A silent auction?” Rose asked. “That’s different. A three-day event at the Moscone, wow. Usually I hate this shit, but they really made an effort this year to not be so degrading..."

Finn was looking at something else entirely. "Alpha drinking contest… Elle! You’re hosting this thing!?"

"You really don’t pay attention, do you?” She laughed at Finn’s expression of surprise. Rose elbowed him hard in the ribs.

“You cannot be serious. You didn’t tell me your boss is hosting the Omega’s Ball? Kinda important information there, Finn!” He looked at Elle for help, but she simply folded her hands under chin and rested her elbows on the bar, watching.

“I didn’t find out until just now! You know I would have told you if I knew.” He scrubbed a hand over his head, again rubbing at the back of his neck. “Why do you even care, Rose? You hate this thing!”

“Usually, yeah, but if Elle’s hosting… I don’t know.” She glanced up at the other omega, her head tilted thoughtfully. “Are you still doing the parade?”

“Ugh, no. That was the first thing we threw out. No lingerie catwalk, unless you’re interested in buying a separate ticket,” she waved Rose over and went over more of the details, while Finn listened with half an ear. Somewhere in the back of his mind he was wondering how well the Big Bad Wolf could hold his liquor. Probably better than Finn, of course, but what he really wanted to see was if he could hold it better than Renata. Now that might be worth buying tickets for.

“Finn! Earth to Finn, hellllooooo?” Rose was tugging on his arm and shouting in his ear and he shook himself, looking down at her worriedly.

“What? Something wrong?”

“No, you idiot, the ball! I want to go. Elle said she’d give us free tickets.” He blinked. Tickets this close to the event would almost certainly be beyond their collective funds. Not to mention he didn’t relish the idea of other alphas ogling his wife in her underwear…

“What? No. No way, Rose, I’m not letting you wander around in lingerie for other people to try and buy like a -”

“No, no, they’re not doing that. The main event is a silent auction just for a date and it’s open entry for any designation. There’s a… special room… for the other thing, but no, look!” She gestured at the flier excitedly. "There’s two of my favorite bands playing, and the last night is open to the public for the actual dance, and they have a DNA testing booth and look at all these pro-rights presenters…”

He looked up at Elle as if to make sure someone besides him was present and hearing these words come out of his mate’s mouth.

“Alright, alright… You said free tickets, but you don’t do anything for free,” he said pointedly. “So what’s the catch?"

"Why must you always ruin my fun?” She pouted momentarily with her purple-glitter stained lips, then heaved a sigh as Finn refused to look away. “Fine. Free admittance if you bring your entire pack. Including your ever-so-mysterious leader and his new mate.”

“Oh," Rose sighed. Finn just rolled his eyes, taking the paper away from her and handing it back to his boss.

“Yeah, I figured it was something like that." He turned to start arranging chairs and wiping down the tables, the last step before they opened for the afternoon, and both Elle and Rose gave the same whining sigh.

“Please, Finn. We could at least ask," Rose insisted. "We can talk to Rey first.”

"Really, it’s the least you could do. Have you no loyalty to your employer at all?” Elle mocked hurt feelings that he knew she did not have.

“First," he turned and met Elle’s eyes. “You’re just my boss, Lando is my employer. Secondly, if you want to get Kylo Ren to show up at your convention, you’re gonna need more than me on your side.”

“Oh, that’s a good point!" Rose scrounged for her phone in her backpack, whispering to Elle over the bar as Finn went ahead and turned the lights on and unlocked the door. He was just turning to head back behind the bar when the door opened, and he turned, expecting to see Senjir or one of their regulars.

“Innara!" Rose squealed, and the weretiger obligingly went to join her hushed conversation with Elle, while Nat claimed a seat at the bar and Ishida and Jacen wandered over to the empty pool table.

“Whiskey, something cheap, and let’s start with a double,” Kylo’s lieutenant said without preamble. Finn frowned down at her as he poured out her drink.

“You gonna explain why you’re all invading my workspace and downing hard liquor at noon?” Finn quipped as Jacen came over to ask for two more. The long-haired beta had chosen to keep his dreadlocks despite Ishida scalding a few off, getting some magic hair woman down on the coast to weave in braids of green and purple over the scars. He downed his drink before glancing at Nat, and then he answered for her.

“You guys seen the news lately?" He gestured with his head to darkened TVs hanging over either side of the bar. Unless there was a game, Elle preferred to have them off, but she turned at Jacen’s question and came over to join them, Rose and Innara still whispering over the convention flier.

“I saw it earlier on Reddit," she admitted. “I thought better of Leia Organa, honestly, but she’s never been the same since Han left us."

"What?” Finn blinked at the grim look in the three pairs of eyes regarding him, before Renata pulled out her phone and passed it across the bar with a video loaded. He hit play, and was immediately bombarded by a noisy press conference, with Leia Organa and a rather weathered, tired-looking man beside her.

“We don’t know when it will be available," the man was saying, “but I have high hopes of coming out with a reliable vaccine in the next couple of months. As for current sufferers - I mean, people who have already Changed and don’t want to be shapeshifters - that depends on the particular genes. Some are more easily isolated than others. The lycanthrope gene, for example, is easy to isolate and with the right dosage, studies and research in clinical trials have shown positive effects of long-term intervention. It may be possible to even shut down gene expression completely, but obviously, we won’t know that until we are able to review longer trials.”

“Senator Organa, will you be getting this treatment from your brother?" A reporter asked. Finn felt his eyes widen. So that was Luke Skywalker then. He knew they were twins, but the man looked a fair bit older than his sister. He wondered if that had something to do with where he’d been all this time.

“No, I will not," Leia said firmly. “I’m happy the way I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think people deserve the choice, if it’s possible." Her voice was calm, level, where her brother’s sounded scratchy from disuse and almost hostile towards the very idea of polymorphism as a whole.

“What about your son? Do you think if you’d had the chance, you would have given him this vaccine?”

Leia looked haggard. Her lips pressed into a thin line, and her face held a lifetime of difficult decisions.

“I don’t know," she said finally. “Being a wolf was always more difficult for Ben than it was for his father and I. But he has a mate now, and I wouldn’t want to rob him of the happiness he’s found.”

“Dr. Skywalker, you said some genes are more easily isolated than others. Can you tell us what tribes - what genes you can currently vaccinate for with this new drug?”

“I can tell you wolves are the easiest. Other canines are much the same. Because they’ve blended so much with the human population, and canines can interbreed with almost any other canine, it’s much easier to isolate… I can say it’s a lot harder with those afflicted by less-dilute blood, like some indigenous tribes, and there appears to be a spiritual component that we can’t quite isolate in lab trials, but that’s also because finding people with a strong cultural link to their affliction who are willing to undergo studies is quite difficult.”

“Sir, with all due respect," one brave woman spoke out. "Why do you keep referring to shapeshitfing as an affliction? I can only speak for myself, but I know there must be others out there who see it as a positive part of their lives. Isn’t it a little insulting to refer to it like an unwanted disease?”

“What’s your name?" Skywalker’s tone was gentle, he seemed genuinely interested in the reporter, but Finn heard Argent and Jacen take deep breaths, and braced himself for the rest.

“Sarah Walkingstick,” she answered proudly.

“Ah. You’re Native American?” She nodded, and Luke smiled. Finn decided he did not like that man’s smile, despite his calm tone. “Let me ask you, Sarah: When you were growing up, did anyone ask you if you wanted to be a… a shapeshifter? To have your reproductive system and other things - reflexes, sense of smell or eyesight - controlled by some base animal DNA?”

“No, I don’t think so,” she frowned into her own microphone. "I always wanted to be like my brothers."

"You have a lot brothers?” She nodded again. "How many?"

“Seven. I was the only girl.”

"Seven brothers, I can only imagine,” Luke chuckled and the audience joined in. Even Sarah smiled. Then his expression grew serious. "I’m curious, is your mother an omega?"

There was a hush, a few cries of outrage. Sarah looked shocked, then grim. With a shake of her head, she declined to ask the man any further questions, sitting down abruptly in her folded chair. Other reporters took her place, more shouting for Skywalker’s attention, but the video ended on a shot of Leia Organa, looking down at the grim-faced reporter with an expression of sympathy, doubt flashing in her eyes as she turned to watch her brother answer another query.

“What the fuck?” Finn stared at the video as if there were some kind of joke he wasn’t getting. “How can he just - what the - a vaccine ?"

"Skywalker’s an omega himself,” Elle said into the silence. "Or he was. I assume he’s ‘cured’ himself now, given his aversion to our entire existence.”

They sat in silence for a while, Jacen eventually going back to the pool table with Ishida, while Renata downed two double whiskeys and waved at Finn for another. Innara sat beside her, her head on Nat’s shoulder and one arm wound in hers, the other held tightly by a solemn-faced Rose occupying her other side.

“So, Renata," Elle jumped into the silence with surprising diplomacy. "I’ve got a stack of Benjamin’s you can drink Kylo under the table. What do you think?”

Finn pointed to the advertisement on the convention flier, and the werecat actually grinned. She rolled her head, cracking her neck with a series of pops that made her mate flinch in disgust, and took in the curious expressions around her.

“Not sure. Never tried it before. I hope your alcohol budget can cope, though, because that sounds like a good time to me.” She glanced over the rest of the flier while Finn and Rose eyed each other with barely-contained excitement. If Renata was interested in going, there was just the chance she might talk Kylo into it, too. “You know normally I hate this thing.”

“You go every year anyway,” Elle pointed out. Innara snickered.

“Lots and lots of begging and bribes, love," she explained, squeezing Renata’s arm. "And no one’s ever made an offer she’d even consider. I think she likes watching them squirm."

" You like prancing around in your underwear knowing every alpha in the room is drooling,” she rolled her eyes. "And you know there is not a single fucking thing on this planet worth a night of your time to me,” she winked, kissing Innara’s cheek in a rare display of public affection. “But I do like to see the offers. Hux offered me a yacht once."

"You never told me that! Renata, you love the ocean!”

“It was Hux ,” she hissed.

“Good point."

"Staring deep into his eyes while I folded the paper and shredded it into his drink was more entertaining than any boat I’ve ever been on,” she added. “I see you’re not doing the catwalk this year."

"We are, it’s just in a private room with an extra $100 admission,” Elle explained.

“Hmmm. Proceeds still benefit the Peresephone Project and OLGBT?"

"Of course.”

“We’ll do it," Innara said immediately. Elle smiled, reaching across the bar to squeeze Innara’s hand.

“I knew I could count on you, at least. What I’d really like is if you can convince your leader to come and join the fun -”

“He’ll go to the convention, probably," Renata agreed. Rose squeaked in delight, and Finn lifted his brows in surprise. She shrugged. “I don’t know about the private party. He’s gone a couple times, but I always hated seeing him there. Who’s going to turn down Kylo, for fuck’s sake? And if he did make a bid, then we had to deal with that fallout…”

“Surely he won’t now," Innara said. Renata laughed.

"No, of course not. I imagine Kylo and I are of the same mind as far as that goes. Not that Rey would do it anyway,” she mused, staring down into her glass.

“Are you sure?" Elle asked, blinking when all four of them nodded emphatically. “Ah, well. I had hoped - there’s a buylist going around - but I would never pressure another omega to participate. Equal rights will be strictly enforced."

"Oh, no -” Finn got out, before Rose had pulled up a few sites on her phone.

“Holy shit!" She turned it so they could all see, and even Renata’s eyebrows went up. Finn glanced towards Renata, who gave him the same look. Kylo would lose his fucking mind.

“Good thing Rey’s basically a millionaire," the werelynx said quietly into her glass. "Do me a favor and don’t anyone show that shit to her or Kylo."

Finn took one more look just to reaffirm what his eyes had told him, then handed the phone back to Rose. Inwardly, he agreed with Renata’s assessment, any involvement with omega heat-night activity would be unacceptable to Kylo, but part of him thought of stubborn, orphan Rey and her two-packs of ramen and a carton of eggs per week grocery budget and, well…

“I’d really like to show Rey just how fucking much her time is worth now," he shook his head. "She’s been broke her whole life. I know, I know how it sounds, but…”

“Half a billion dollars is a lot of money,” Rose agreed. “Like… I can think of maybe two or three things I wouldn’t do for that kind of money.”

Elle frowned at the lost chance for the house’s cut of that $550 million dollars. “Honey, that’s only the starting bid," she sighed.

"Christ,” Renata downed her drink and dropped it on the bar with a loud thunk. “All of you shut the fuck up. Rey is Kylo’s mate and our friend and she’s not ‘worth’ any amount of money. I don’t want to hear about it.”

“We’re just gossiping, Nat, it’s harmless," Innara tried to explain.

"Yeah, I mean, Rey’s my friend too," Finn complained. “I’m just saying she’d be shocked."

"Do. Not. Make. Me. Command. You.” She let her glare travel from Finn and Elle back to Innara. “Understand?"

Unhappily, they all nodded or made sounds of agreement, and Finn poured her another round while Rose and Innara went to watch the game of pool and Elle disappeared into the back office.

Renata sipped her whiskey, watching her friends and mates play pool, and tried to convince herself the ominous feeling in her gut was just a result of this fucking day, and not a warning of times to come… Fuck. She’d be glad when Rey’s heat was over and Kylo was back in charge, but then she’d have to deal with non-sexed out Kylo fuming over his shitty fucking family, and keeping their pack together when Rose and Finn seemed determined to let slip how much people were planning on offering for a heat night with Rey at the omega catwalk, and she wasn’t sure there was enough whiskey in this entire fucking bar to prepare for that meltdown...

Chapter Text

Rey didn’t cry much, normally. It was a waste of time, it never solved anything, and if anyone saw her, it made her seem vulnerable. But Kylo… She could be vulnerable around him in a way she simply couldn’t around anyone else. Perhaps because he seemed to know what it meant, the incredible intimacy that was just them. He didn’t even have to say anything, but she knew he understood. She could see it reflected in the way his eyes moved over her face, the little muscle twitch on the left that indicated he felt something equally overwhelming, if not quite the same.

Gently, he took her phone from her nerveless fingers and laid it beside his on the bedside table. Then he climbed in next to her and pulled her against him, the weight of his arms soothing and possessive, his scent wrapped around her like a blanket. Rey turned her face against his neck, practically huffing his scent, until she had enough to soothe the hard ball of lead in her chest and the sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach. Alpha is here, everything is okay, let him protect you…

“Rey? Can I…” She pulled back, a smile coming to her lips as he tried very hard to figure out what to say. While her heat seemed to be winding down a bit, Kylo’s brain had gone full rut, and she hadn’t minded, but she did have to bribe him to take a shower by promising to swallow his cock when he was through. He’d just used hot water exactly as she asked, rinsing without washing away their combined scents, which she was now extremely grateful for. She thought she might have started sobbing all over again if he came back and her stupid brain got the idea that he didn’t like her smell on him.

“I keep my promises," she assured him, slowly kissing her way down from his neck. Really any distraction would be welcome right now, but something that provided them both with relief from their physical needs she was even more happy to perform. She was kissing and nipping his inner thigh when he spoke again.

“Were you crying? Was it that video?”

“Shhh… We can talk later. I want to do this right now.” Of all the things… He’d insisted on setting the whole Skywalker thing aside before, why did he want to bring it up now?

“Okay, but… Are you upset?”

Growling, she nipped his thigh hard and was rewarded by his harsh groan of surprise and desire. Rey slowly wrapped her fingers around his cock, her eyes locked on his.

“Kylo?"

"Yes, sweetheart?”

“We will talk..." she emphasized her point with firm strokes. “Later. Right now, I want you to fuck my mouth like an alpha. Okay?”

“I might hurt you -" He moaned as she took him in, closing her eyes and inhaling the scent of him, knowing in her heat the intoxicating combination of their mingled essence and the strong musk of his arousal would relax her. “Ohhh - Rey - Please let me -"

Yes, yes, please, do whatever you want, fuck me, take me, I’m yours aren’t I?

Her mouth salivated readily as he lifted his hips, his hands on the back of her head as strong as steel, holding her while he thrust with increasing ferocity, her name rising from his pants and moans.

She had just enough sense to pull back when she felt his knot filling out, but when he spilled in her mouth she swallowed everything, and she let him hold her there until he came back to himself. He stroked her hair and face, and she let go of him finally, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and frowning at the smear of blood. Kylo’s eyes widened and he was on his knees in a second, holding her face in his hands, his thumb tracing the corner of her mouth where it had cracked slightly.

“I hurt you," he murmured, frowning. “That’s not… I shouldn’t have been so rough, I’m sorry.”

She tongued the tiny abrasion and shrugged. “It’s fine, my lips were just chapped. Don’t overreact."

"I’m not… Rey. Alphas who hurt their mates like that are… terrible people. I don’t want to be one of those people, I love you… I adore you,” he was still looking into her eyes worriedly, concern etching his every feature. “Let me… Let me take care of you, please. Anything. Anything you want, Rey, please…”

She raised an eyebrow. “Anything?"

"Name it, I swear.”

She glanced to the bedside table, and the various instruments arrayed. Kylo followed her gaze, looking slightly less certain now of his promise. Rey pointed first to the gag.

“Put it on, I’m tired of you whining at me.”

“I don’t whine -" She just met his eyes, stare for stare, until he finally conceded and put the damn thing between his teeth.

“Now," she turned, lying flat on her stomach, stretching her legs out around him languidly. "I’m exhausted, so I’m going to lie here and you’re going to fuck me while I relax and enjoy it. Let's see how many times you can make me come before you knot me. And it had better be a lot do you understand?"

She craned her head around to see his eager nod.

“Good.” She lifted her hind end a little, invitingly, and gave a moan of delight as he explored with his hands, finding her entrance slick and ready. His fingers filled her, holding her open while he nudged inside far enough to continue thrusting with his hips alone, using his hands to around her waist to pull her to him. Rey rested her forehead against the mattress, breathing in soft gasps as he pumped into her with increasing strength, the angle perfect for that deep, greedy place inside her.

“There. There , Kylo! Harder - please, alpha, fuck me, I know you can do it harder!” She could tell by the way his hands trembled around her waist that he was fighting to hold back, and Rey growled and writhed against him, needing, craving more. “I can take it, I swear. I need you to be rough, Kylo.”

She craned her head around to find his eyes, to make sure he understood that she knew what she was asking for and wanted it. His eyes held her, the whites made more vivid against his dilated pupils, watery and full of his own dark needs.

“Yes," she murmured, responding though she wasn’t even sure of the question. "Whatever you want, I’m yours."

She saw him reach towards the bedside table and ducked her head back to rest against her arms, folded beneath her. For a while he just pounded her, all of his strength and violence unleashed upon her welcoming body, pushing her up and over her crest multiple times, leaving her trembling and gulping in breaths.

He pulled back before his knot swelled, and Rey turned her head, words of protest dying on her lips when she saw him with the lubricant and the vibrator. He didn’t look up, but she could see the set of his jaw and the careful, methodical attention with which he prepared, and she had a good idea of what was coming.

Eye closed, she turned and prepared to bite down on her wrist, as his warm fingers explored above her already aching center. He was cautious at first, pausing after squeezing in a full three fingers to stroke her back and then thumb her front, drawing her teasingly close.

“I know what you’re doing, you filthy son of a bitch, and if you don’t go on, I will retrieve your stupid fucking sword from wherever you have it hidden and murder you with it,” she threatened finally, desperate to have at least some part of her filled by more than just his fingers. She didn’t need to see him to imagine the smirk that went all the way to his eyes.

This vibrator was thicker, she was almost afraid to think of how far inside her he had shoved it, but it soothed the ache in her belly. And when he switched it on and went back to sliding his fingers in and out of her above it… it didn’t take long for her to ascend into a moaning, sobbing climax, drawn out by the electric pulsing.

“Now," she whispered, practically boneless beneath him. She still bit her wrist in anticipation, and then to muffle her scream.

He was so big, even slathered in lubricant and aided by the relaxed state of her body in heat. She growled, low and menacing, enough for him to pause.

“Let me… breathe…”

His hand slid up her spine, his wide grip wrapping around her neck in the universal signal for submission, and she felt herself go limp under the press of her own instincts. It was a dirty trick normally, for an alpha to use base biology to override another’s will, but in this case it helped - Rey moaned as he slid deeper, filling her from above and below. She was shocked when he sheathed himself fully, his hand still firmly around her neck, keeping her still and compliant.

“Kylo..." Her voice was a hoarse whisper, sweat and tears streaking her face. " Alpha ..."

She wanted to tell him to stop, to pull back - it’s too much, please - but like always, he knew her better than she knew herself. Because when he started to move, slowly, gently, the toy still humming delightfully below him…

“Oh, God..." She did scream, until her voice was a hoarse screech. Her poor wrist was peppered with deep impressions of her teeth, but Rey was accustomed to bruises. She was not accustomed to being so thoroughly fucked her whole body throbbed in a series of blissful waves that may have just been one long, continuous climax. If she’d thought she was exhausted before… this was something far beyond it.

It was just as well Kylo took it upon himself to carry her to the shower and gently wash away the mess he’d made of her body. Rey couldn’t have moved if the room was on fire. She did give a rough squeak of protest when she smelled soap, but he soothed her with kisses and praises.

“I just want to wash your hair. I’ll be careful, I promise.” He nuzzled her neck, lapping over his mating bite for the hundredth time, and she sighed and leaned back in his arms. “You were so good, sweet little Rey. My sweet mate.”

He was doing the rut babbling thing, sounding very un-Kylo like, but Rey was too far gone to care. She let him wrap her in soft towels and comb her hair and arrange her gently in bed, spooning himself around her to whisper praise and affection in her ear.

 

 

An hour later, when he woke her with his mouth on her nipple, she whined at him partly from exhaustion and partly because she could still feel herself responding, even after all of that. Her eyes found the digital display of the bedside clock and she tried in vain to figure out if it was am or pm.

“I’m sorry, you’re sore, aren’t you?" He blinked up at her with such a tender expression, she couldn’t find it in her to turn him down.

“I am, but I still want you." She laughed at the sheer ridiculousness of all of it, and he climbed up to grace her with one of his rare, transformative smiles.

“I’m glad. I was afraid you’d have to cuff me again," he kissed her, still smiling, and Rey smiled back, lifting a hand to push firmly against his chest, shoving him over so she could crawl on top.

“Don’t get too excited, I still might.” She was sore all over, but somehow there was enough fluid for her to slide over him. Kylo gave a sudden, startled yelp and she opened her eyes to see an embarrassed flush ghosting his pale cheeks.

“Sorry," he laughed weakly. “It’s just -"

“Sore?" She guessed, gently guiding him in to his full depth, until they both sighed at the completion. Kylo reached for her and Rey leaned down, letting him wrap her in his arms as she slowly rocked her hips.

“Was it too much?"

“Why do you always act like I’ll fall apart? It never stops you.” She drew back just enough to meet his gaze. "Admit it, mate , you like to be rough."

“Okay. You’re right.” Suddenly his hand was in her hair, dragging her down so he could speak directly into her ear. “But you like it just as much as I do, mate. "

Rey smiled, rolling her hips until she felt him stiffen just slightly. “Of course I do. But maybe I want to be a little rough with you. Think you can handle it, my big sturdy alpha?”

His eyes found hers and for a moment they stared each other down, irises taking on a golden sheen, before Kylo ducked his head in a shocking show of submission.

“Do your worst, omega.”

Half a dozen thoughts flitted through her head, but given the state of their bodies, she threw out most for a later opportunity. Kylo’s eyes followed her, lips parting as she lifted herself off of him and lay back on the bed, her legs spread with a pointed stare directed his way.

“Well?” He looked for a moment as if he would argue, then he all but lunged towards her. Rey stopped him with a foot braced against his shoulder. “Wait. What are you doing?”

“Don’t you want me to eat you out?" He stilled, confusion spread across his face. "I don’t mind, Rey, just tell me-"

“Ask."

He blinked at her, slowly growing puzzled. “Ask? For what? To let me eat you out?”

At her nod, Kylo exhaled, his eager expression growing hungry and dark. He turned his head, kissing the fine bones of her ankle before slowly working his way up her leg. By the time he reached her thigh she felt herself aching, the gnawing emptiness of her heat not quite past, and she knew he could scent her from the way he looked up expectantly.

“Rey. I know you need it. Let me taste you.” He crawled over her until his hot, panting breath reached the abused nerves between her folds, and her hips twitched unintentionally. Kylo gave a sly smile, kissing her hip, her thigh, the smooth skin below her navel. If she couldn’t feel his quickened breathing, she would have thought he was almost indifferent, content to languidly torture her.

“Omega," he rasped, eyes closing as she spread her legs wider to give him room. “ Please ."

"Ahhh,” she sighed, and his eyes found her smiling. “That’s the magic word. Good boy."

With his own sigh of relief, he fell upon her, lapping up the slick that spilled from her entrance and thrusting his tongue within as deep as he could to lick it from the source. And Rey sprang her trap, locking him there with her thighs squeezed tight and her hands gripping his hair with all the strength she could muster. Kylo growled, rumbling through his chest, and she growled back, flexing her fingers.

“No, you stay there until I’m done with you," she hissed. “I’m going to fuck your face this time, don’t act like you don’t like it."

She lifted her hips in emphasis and felt his hands slide beneath her, gripping her thighs and holding her apart while she thrust against his desperate tongue. He breathed her in with his nose buried in her slick flesh, but he never tried to break free, eagerly applying himself to the task. She hardly felt his hand slide down her thigh until his finger penetrated below, and she came with a surprised moan, but refused to release him once he’d eased her through it.

“No, no… Keep going, please, Kylo!” She begged, and he responded with continued efforts, his mouth moving to suck gently at her swollen apex. “Yes, fuck! You’ll let me do this all night, won’t you?"

"Yes,” he mumbled quickly, between breaths. He laved her gently, slowly edging her beyond overuse into the realm of pleasure again, more of his fingers filling her, above and below, weathering her squeezing thighs and scratching fingernails that occasionally slipped into claws. Rey let him work her through two more climaxes before the need to be filled overwhelmed her and she let him go, pushing back on his shoulders until he rose up on his knees.

“God, you’re beautiful," she told him, admiring his flushed face and swollen lips. She got to her knees as well, kissing him and reveling in the taste of them mingled on his tongue. His huge hands clasped her shoulders, holding her still while he plunged into her mouth like he had between her legs.

“Rey," he gasped as he broke away, eyes wild with need. “Can I fuck you now? Please, any way you want, I just need to feel you.”

She was already turning, going to her hands and knees before him. It didn’t take more than a glance over her shoulder for him to understand the permission was granted, and he hastily grasped around her hips, pulling her up with one hand while the other slid down her back and pushed her shoulders down.

“I need your knot, Kylo.” She sighed as he entered her, not caring if he fucked her long enough to make her come so long as that painful ache was soothed.

“I know, sweetheart. It won’t take long."



Later, while she lie underneath him with Kylo propped on his elbows above her, kissing her neck and mouthing at his mating mark as they waited for his knot to deflate, Rey thought she could die right then and be happy with her life.

“But I would be alone again,” he whispered, kissing the tip of her ear.

“Can you hear everything I’m thinking now?" She craned her neck painfully to look at him. “I’m not sure I like that."

"Why? Don’t keep secrets from me, Rey, I am not a patient person-”

“Oh, shut it, idiot." She rolled her eyes. “What if I’m planning something nice for your birthday or something? What if we get married and you’re not supposed to see the dress? What if I’m thinking something really dirty in front of -”

“Do you want to?" His voice was suddenly low, and she frowned, trying to think of what she’d said to upset him, omega instincts whining at her to soothe, apologize, I’m sorry, alpha, I’ll make it better, please don’t be mad - “Shush, Rey. I’m not mad.” He covered the back of her neck with his teeth, gently calming her. “You said ‘what if we get married.’ Do you want that, Rey? Do you want to marry me?”

She gasped, and it had nothing to do with the softening of him inside of her. Very slowly, trying to keep her mind as empty as possible, she rolled over to see his face, searching for any kind of indication of what he wanted.

- Mother will probably give me Padme’s ring if ask, but I don’t know if she wants jewelry, maybe a klaive would be better? She won’t want anything big - beach maybe, at night, under the half-moon? -

Rey couldn’t help it, her smile was too generous, and when their eyes met, she was caught like a child with her hand in the cookie jar. “On the beach under the half-moon? I think I like that… Padme was kind to me, but you’re right, I don’t wear jewelry much. A sword though… that would be interesting…”

His eyes practically bulged, and Rey grinned apologetically. “Sorry, I don’t know how to turn it off. I suppose that’s why Obi-wan and Ezra were practically hermits…” She frowned, chewing her lip until his fingers stilled her.

“You really are the most stunning woman I’ve ever known,” he kissed her, worrying her lip with the sharp fangs of a wolf. “I’ll get you a klaive. Ishida can make them, I think.”

The most stunning woman you’ve ever known?”

“Yes, Rey, believe it or not, I have encountered my mother numerous times in my life.” He kissed her forehead. "Let’s just say, at the very least, you’re her equal, but you’re more to me. Because you’re mine .”

Chapter Text

   

"You really want to go to this thing? It sounds awful,” Rey looked from Rose to Innara. “What is this bit about a private show room for $100?”

“That’s the catwalk, love,” Innara informed her with a languid smile. “So the other alphas can see what they’re missing."

"Yeah, and bid on your heat nights, it’s disgusting,” Rose scowled. "I know what you’re thinking, but we don’t have to go to that. Look, The Alliance is playing, and there’s a guest panel on eugenics with Ahsoka and Dr. Aphra and the Persephone Project has a corner booth -”

“That’s the people who provide housing and medical resources for trafficked omegas?” She’d seen them once or twice at the Purple Panther, hosting open mic and karaoke nights. Finn always gave them half of his tip money. Amilyn Holdo, CEO of Organa Tech now that Leia had taken a more advisory position, was on their board of directors.

“They do a lot more than that," Innara explained. “Some of Nat’s targets came from them. OVPN used to host their sites and they slipped in notes when they could.”

“Renata was assassinating omega traffickers?" Rey glanced up, where Kylo and his lieutenant sat across from each other over a chessboard, occasionally growling out curses.

They - well, actually Rey and Finn, on paper - had rented the three-bedroom walkup from Lando, Finn’s employer and owner of the Purple Panther. It was that or go back to the trailer across the bay, and some of them still had jobs to get to. Not that Rey really needed to work, but San Francisco was expensive as hell, and despite what Luke Skywalker was doing, she still had some faith in Leia. Plus, Poe wasn’t great at double-checking his code, and someone had to keep Jess from spending the entire day on Reddit and Twitter. And she refused to let her designation rule her life choices. Rey would be damned if she became a house omega like Unkar Plutt predicted just because she happened to stumble into a small fortune.

Kylo and Nat were still on house arrest as well, which meant Rey and Innara had to have a verifiable address (complete with random visits from their parole officer) and even if Innara could do most of her contracting work from home, she still had to meet clients and occasionally drop off or pick up equipment. But finding a place big enough for all of them where Finn and the others could actually contribute an equal share in rent had been difficult, and three bedrooms was the best they could manage. A room divider and a pull-out couch made a fourth bedroom out of the small “office nook" at the top of the stairs for Jacen, and thankfully the place had two bathrooms, although the tiny angular shower Rose and Finn shared with him upstairs could hardly be called a “full bath."

It worked, for the most part, because they made it work - or rather, Rey and Rose and Innara made it work. Having three alphas in a pack was unheard of, and the fact that they were all thoroughly mated only barely kept them civil when tempers flared. Luckily Jacen was fully capable of holding back Finn and Kylo, while Renata had taken to just racing out the cat flap to prowl until she got herself under control.

Tonight they were all in good humor, although Rey couldn’t see it lasting once Kylo discovered what the three omegas were whispering about. She watched out of the corner of her eye as he leaned back to study the chessboard, running a hand through his hair while he thought.

“I swear, I’m gonna get a timer, Solo,” the female alpha threatened.

“Yeah, yeah -"

"Rey. Rey!” Rose waved a hand before her face and she ducked back to the flier, blushing at being caught ogling her mate. “You’ve had two heats now, girl, learn to focus!”

“Oh, I don’t know," Innara grinned over at her, a teasing smile on her lips. “He is very distracting. I always sort of hoped he’d offer, but he and Nat are too close for that, I suppose.”

“Offer? For what?" Rey caught the older woman’s bright green eyes, giving a small noise of shock at what she found there. “You mean -" her eyes darted back down to the paper, then up, and then she was on her feet, fangs sliding down into her mouth as a possessive rage filled her.

“Dammit, Innara, did you seriously just…?” Rose shook her head, rushing to get between them as Rey started to advance. “Rey! That was before you were in the picture!”

“You still like him, I saw you look!” She reached out to shove Rose aside, and found her arms held from behind, a soothing breath of warmth washing over her neck. “Kylo," she sighed.

"Rey. Why are you threatening Innara?” He asked quietly. She looked up to see the weretiger had backed away, behind the alert but calm frame of her own alpha. Of course, she was the perfect omega, wasn’t she? Soft, quiet, sexy, nonviolent. Even Rose was a gentler creature than Rey, with curves in the right places and kind, patient eyes. Rey found herself suddenly annoyed by them both, and she turned, pressing her face into Kylo’s neck.

“Tell me I’m good. Please, Kylo, I need to hear it.” She sensed his concern, the concern and wariness of everyone else mingled through it. Kylo might be their leader, but they hadn’t really established a hierarchy besides that, and Rey knew there was… something about omegas, some kind of den mother-type thing, but she wasn’t the nurturing type and she couldn’t shake the fear that maybe he would want someone else one day…

“Rey.” His arms tightened around her and a sudden sob broke from her chest. “It’s okay, hey, sweetheart, it’s alright -” He lifted her carefully, and Rey was dimly aware of the others watching as Kylo carried her out to their tiny balcony, still murmuring words of praise and affection. “I love you, you’re perfect, you’re all I want. Rey, I promise -” He set her on her feet while he shut the door firmly behind them, muffling their conversation and the sounds of Rose and Innara arguing inside.

As soon as he turned she threw herself at him, hungrily nipping at his mouth and digging her nails into his shoulders. He gave in for a minute, returning her kiss with equal fervor, carding both hands through her hair to tip her head back so he could kiss her neck and shoulders. Rey’s fingers found her bite on his wrist and she brought his arm to her mouth with both hands, sinking her teeth firmly into his flesh without warning.

“Ow! - Fuck, Rey!" She looked up at him, mouth stained with his blood, and felt no remorse whatsoever. 

“Mine," she insisted, lapping at the fresh blood and coating the wound with her saliva. "Only mine, Kylo." 

“Okay, okay." Since she refused to let go of his arm, he eased around behind her, wrapping his free arm around her middle and scenting her neck, tongue and teeth rasping over her glands and his own mark.

 “You wanna tell me what this is all about?" He suggested once she’d calmed a little from his reassuring affections.

 “That thing Rose and Innara were showing me - the Omega’s Ball. Rose wants us to go, and at first I thought I’d like to see some of the bands and Ahsoka is doing a panel, but then -” she hesitated, feeling the growl rise in her throat, and he quickly calmed her with the palm of his hand over the back of her neck. 

“Then?"

 "Innara said there’s a… a private show. Where the omegas parade around in lingerie and alphas… bid on them… It’s disgusting,” she said vehemently. "But she seems fine with it. And then she said… she always hoped you would make a bid. For her. And she was looking at you, and I -” 

He was laughing. She didn’t catch it at first because it was so low, but when she turned and saw his wide smile and his shoulders shaking, she glowered. “What? What part of that is funny to you?" 

"You.” He leaned down to kiss her forehead, then pulled her into a tight embrace. “Ah, my fierce mate. You were jealous . It’s okay, Rey. I’m jealous too. I’d never take you to that crap -” 

“Innara said you went. In the past. Before you met me.” His laughter stilled at the sight of her hard eyes, and he frowned down at her.

 “Yes. I did go." 

"Did you… Did you make offers on people? You told me when we met you’d never been with an omega -” 

Kylo sighed. “What do you want, Rey? Surely you realised - I’m thirty-one. Yeah, I’ve fucked other people. I’m sorry, but I can’t change the past. So. Do you want a list? You want a detailed description of my entire history?” 

“Have you been with another omega? Did you lie to me?" Her eyes held him, and suddenly his thoughts poured into her head in a tangled mess. 

I didn’t - they weren’t in heat - how do I say this - please, please, let me explain - “Fuck it.” He let go of her and took a step back, unable to meet her steel glare. "Yes. I lied, I guess. I didn’t think it would count -" 

“You guess ?" 

“It wasn’t the same, they weren’t in heat - Phasma was, I guess, but I never fucked her, I just had her suck - God dammit, Rey, please!” His voice rose in pitch, halfway between a whine and a snarl, and his eyes flashed. “I can smell your distress!”

“Good! I am distressed! What the fuck were you thinking? I don’t even care if someone else sucked your dick or something, you paid for it.” She shook her head, arms crossed over her chest as a traitorous tear slipped from her eye. Rey wiped at it hastily, refusing to cry, to show how much his admission hurt her, her stubborn pride ignoring the fact that he could scent her every emotion and possibly hear some of her thoughts. She felt the wild energy of shifting magic surge through her, and had to concentrate to keep from growing fangs or ears again. “It doesn’t matter how they feel about it, it’s brainwashing, we’re taught as soon as we present that omegas are different, we’re sought after like fucking purebred dogs - but we are all people, Kylo, no one should want to be treated that way -”

“It’s a huge event, Rey! Lots of people go every year and enjoy it! Are you going to get up in front of a microphone and tell them they’re not allowed to enjoy it just because you feel like it’s brainwashing?” He was annoyed now, she could tell from how he shifted into his cocky, alpha-is-speaking stance. “I thought I’d try it, okay? I was young and dumb and lonely and there was fucking Armitage with his mate and Renata had Innara and then Ishida - I just wanted to know what it was like. So I… Yeah, I paid money, because as an alpha I was taught that I deserved that! So maybe think about how all of this social brainwashing isn’t just forced on any single presentation. Do you have any idea what Renata’s life has been like? Or my fucking mother? I thought you were smarter than this -”

“Oh, so now that I say something you don’t agree with, it’s stupid? That’s brilliant, Kylo.” She crossed her arms over herself while he paced, watching him with as neutral an expression as she could manage.

“It’s not that I don’t agree! I do, alright? I do agree with you.” He sighed. "But it took me a longer time to come to that conclusion, and in between I did some shitty things. I worked for Dr. Snoke, remember? And my uncle -” 

“Right, I forgot about your lovely resume."

 She knew she’d gone to far when he stopped pacing and just turned away from her, staring out over the balcony with waves of sorrow and anguish all but pouring from him. Rey closed her eyes and forced herself to breathe. 

“I’m sorry. That was too far." 

"Yes it was.” He didn’t even turn around, and she backed slowly towards the door, wondering if she should just leave before her sharp mouth made things even worse. Alpha is angry, don’t make it worse, get out of his sight, he doesn’t need you… Her hand was on the knob when Kylo turned, his face full of open entreaty. “Please don’t." 

Wordlessly, her eyes moved over his face, locking with his as she tried and failed to force her tongue to spit out the right words. He closed the distance between them without breaking eye contact, putting his arms around her with exaggerated care.,

“I’m sorry," she managed finally. "I just… I’m not wired right to be an omega. I don’t want to be ogled by a bunch of horny alphas, or have a ton of kids, or learn to cook and keep house and… and do crafts or whatever… and I’m not soft like them, I don’t have hips like Rose or a chest like Innara’s -” She had to stop, because he had thrust his hands under her sweater and grasped both her breasts in his hands, and she couldn’t breathe with his fingers pinching her nipples.

“Your breasts are perfect, I’m happy to cook for you whenever you like, and if you’ll let me, I will gladly keep your house and… take up needlepoint or some shit, if you want to really flip all the stereotypes, okay?” He slid his arms around her again, still beneath the sweater, and she let him pepper her face and neck with kisses. “You’re my mate, I only want you. We can do this however you want. Okay?"

 She nodded, swallowing the hard lump in her throat, and hugged him with all her strength, until he grunted slightly under the pressure. “Okay." 

"Ready to go back inside now?” 

“I don’t know… Kylo, I know we’re a pack now, but… I know there’s something I’m supposed to do, you’re the leader and I’m your mate, but I… I have no idea what it means except having your kids, which I’m not doing anytime soon, so...” His eyes narrowed and he frowned down at her, the muscles of his cheek twitching in thought.

 “You’re right, but I honestly don’t know either. I think there’s a ritual of some kind… I’ll talk to Ishida. He knows the most about werewolf society, next to my -” He looked away, and Rey sighed.

“Your mother would know?” 

“Yes." He hesitated, and she waited until he dropped his eyes back to her again. “My father was an omega. He was…” He shook his head. “It was like he held everyone together. I always knew, as a kid, if I needed someone to talk to, if somebody needed a favor, like a loan or a place to stay - Han was always there. He was there for everyone, even Luke. The pack fell apart when he - when we crashed. My mom tried, but… Chewie went home to Alaska, and Luke and I had the falling out over Snoke…”

Rey listened thoughtfully, hanging on the rare moment of Kylo actually talking about his family without growling or cursing or breaking something. She had only ever met Leia, but she could almost see it, the big-hearted rock star using his money to quietly support his friends, giving up touring to care for his son while his wife built her career in politics. She could see in his eyes that Kylo had some amount of respect for his father that he didn’t have for his mother, and she wondered why, she wanted desperately to learn more about his life, but he shrugged it off.

“You remind me of him a little, Rey." He smiled at her surprised expression. Pretend all you like, my love, I know you have the same unflinching compassion. “He was always pretending to have this big bad exterior, Han Solo the hardcore rocker, living the life… But he really wasn’t like that. He was honest and kind and generous.” And I killed him… I got behind the wheel of a car I didn’t know… he knew I had more than one drink, but he trusted me...

Rey blinked, not sure if she should even mention the thoughts she picked up when he was speaking of his father. “Is that what you think of me? I’m just pretending to be fierce on the outside when really I’m hiding this friendly, kind personality inside?” She could see it in his eyes, and she smiled slightly as he tugged her close and kissed her hair.

“Yes. You are friendly, and kind and generous. But you’re not pretending to be fierce.” He laughed softly. “As long as I live, I’ll never forget you standing over me naked, covered in the blood of our enemies and ordering me to let you tend my wounds.” Too good for me… Just like Han was too good to get roped into the Skywalkers’ drama...

“Wounds I gave you." She frowned, thinking of Padme and how she spoke of her prideful husband and their children. There was no help for it, she was going to have to find a way to have a serious talk with Leia, and face Kylo’s inevitable wrath.

"You have bad aim, sure. But you fought, and you fought hard. Not just for me - for Nat and Innara and Rose, too.” He was right, there. She had seen Rose’s collar in Bazine’s filthy hands and and heard Hux taunting Kylo and been filled with a rage completely unbefitting an omega.

“Bazine. I thought she’d killed Rose. I hope she burns in hell.” Rey blinked, surprised by the violence in her thoughts, and Kylo reached around her to the door, casting her a proud look.

“We have plenty of cooks and housekeepers in this pack, my omega. But a fierce warrior who can stand at my side and wield a klaive to protect your own?” His eyes glittered eagerly in the growing darkness. “That’s something we definitely need.”

Rey took a deep breath, steeling herself to face Innara when they went back in, but she and Renata were gone, the living room was empty except for Jacen playing the Xbox alone on the couch. He glanced their way and rolled his eyes.

“Too many hormones in this house," he complained. “Are we going to the stupid ball or not, Big Bad?”

"We’ll see.”

Chapter Text

Rose had remained still in shock until the slamming of the door jerked her back to reality, then she eyed Innara with a deep scowl, but it was Finn who spoke first.

“What the hell was that about?" He searched between Rose and the dusky-skinned older woman, who ran her fingers through her long hair and shrugged.

“Apparently Rey is quite the jealous person," she glanced towards the door, then noticed Rose and Finn’s combined anger. “I only said I used to hope he would make a bid. Of course, I wouldn’t want him to now .”

Rose shook her head slowly. “I saw the way you looked at him. Don’t pretend you weren’t staring. Right in front of Rey, too! You’re older than all of us, you should know better! That’s omega etiquette 101, even I know better than that!”

Ishida stood from where he had been ignoring the entire scene behind his laptop, and she could see his eyes go to Renata over Innara’s head.

“What were you thinking, Innara?" He asked softly.

"Yeah, I’d like an explanation, too," Renata said, turning slowly to regard her mate. "But we not having this out in here like a goddamn reality TV show.”

Crossing to the kitchen table, where the pieces of their chess match still stood frozen in unfinished battle, she fumbled with her jacket until she found cigarettes and a lighter, and then stormed towards the front door, commanding Innara to follow her.

Rose waited until they were out of the apartment before she sank down on the couch next to Finn and sighed. Out on the balcony, they could hear Rey and Kylo’s raised voices, and Jacen and Finn glanced over with similar uncomfortable looks.

“Okay, I’m just gonna say it," Rose grumbled at her husband. “Either something weird is going on with them, or Innara’s got some problem with Rey and this is only going to get worse. I’ve seen the aftermath of omegas fighting over a mate, and it is brutal .”

“Rey would tear her apart," Finn chuckled, and Rose smacked his arm. Jacen Syndulla raised an eyebrow.

“Are you forgetting Innara killed Mitaka by biting his head off? Literally? Tigers are vicious, guys,” he pointed out.

“I was there," Ishida said softly. “It was… brutal."

Rose and Finn locked eyes, both considering, then Finn shook his head decisively. “Nah, Rey’d still tear her apart."

He and Jacen snickered, but Rose caught the same edge of concern in Ishida’s look that she felt herself. Talking about it hypothetically was one thing, but Rey had come very close to violence before Kylo stepped in, and Innara had seemed unapologetic at antagonizing her.

“It’s not funny! You’re right, but it’s not funny. This can’t happen. Look at us now.” She shook her head at him. "Kylo and Rey are arguing, Renata’s back to smoking and Jace looks like he’s gonna break that controller if he holds it any tighter. This is not healthy pack behavior.”

“Yeah, well, half of us are cats," Jacen smirked. “Wolves are pack animals, you’re not."

" Felis domestica commonly live in colonies or reside peacefully with other house pets,” she argued, rolling her eyes.

“Okay, sure." He glanced over at Ishida, who was peering down at his laptop screen thoughtfully. “You’ve lived with those gals long enough. What’s your take?”

“My take?" He repeated. He snapped the laptop closed and laid it on the couch where he’d been sitting. “My take is the Omega’s Ball is an antiquated bit of nonsense, regardless of the changes they’ve made this year. But Innara enjoys the attention, so we suffer through it. There are other reasons for which they’ve always attended, but I’m afraid it’s not my place to explain. Hopefully you will all know soon. In the meantime, I beg your patience.”

He turned and strode after the two women, the door closing gently but firmly behind him, and the other three stared at each other in surprise.

“Man, I think that’s the longest I’ve ever heard him talk,” Jacen said after a moment. Even Rose smiled faintly at that joke. “Must be something very weird going on there."

Finn and Rose exchanged a worried glance, but she quieted him with a hand on his arm before he could go after either couple. “Let it be, Finn. You know Rey will tell you everything later.”

“Yeah, she will," he agreed with an easy smile. Rose got to her feet and headed upstairs to get ready for her night shift supervising Organa Tech’s workshop, and Finn followed to chat with her about other things while she changed clothes.

 

For a blessed ten minutes, Jacen Syndulla enjoyed his game in peace and quiet. Rose was even quiet as she left, giving him a little wave as she slipped out the door. Finn remained upstairs and Nat and her mates remained outside. It was another five minutes before Rey and Kylo came in, and even then they spoke only briefly before retreating to the master bedroom.



"Keep fucking talking, Innara." Renata lit another cigarette, and her mate whined, protesting the scent-dampening behavior.

“You know I’ve always thought he was handsome. I can’t fathom why you’d be so angry.” She leaned against the back wall of their building, scowling as Renata exhaled smoke in the opposite direction. Up until tonight she’d gone four days without, the longest she’d ever managed. Well, fuck that, I guess.

“Really? You have no idea? Don’t be coy, I’m not interested in playing today.” She rounded on her, slamming both hands on either side of Innara’s head, leveraging herself against her hips and standing on her toes to stare down into her anguished emerald eyes. “You know what you did. I love you, but I hate this game where you pretend innocence, honey. We’re getting too old for it. It’s not cute anymore.”

Her eyes widened as she searched Renata’s face, then dropped away and flooded with tears, a soft sob escaping her chest. “How - how can you be so cruel?! I’m not pretending anything!"

They both turned at the sound of the back door shutting quietly, and Renata stepped back as Ishida came to join them. He, too, seemed none too happy with the weretiger.

“Which one are you trying to seduce, Rey or Kylo?” He spoke mildly, he always did, but his words were cutting.

"There, see? I’m not the only one who noticed." Nat folded her arms, watching Innara crumble under their combined gazes. She sighed, glancing from one to the other before her eyes rested on the sapphire wedding band she twisted nervously on her finger.

“Alright, fine. Since you’re both so determined to bully me… I don’t like living here with them. It’s… Rey and Rose are so young and beautiful and they -” she swallowed, eyes flashing quickly to Renata as she forced out a low whisper. “They have their whole lives to have children still."

“Is that why you like the bidding? Because you were hoping we’d find an alpha to -” She didn’t even need to finish the sentence, Innara’s face told her everything. “Honey, I told you. I don’t care, we can adopt -"

“But we can’t adopt a cat . It’s so rare, Nat. Do you know there are less than three hundred Bengal tigers in the whole world? Barely enough for a breeding population.” She sniffled softly. "Please, I know you understand what that means! How many indigenous American shifters are there? Do you know?”

“No. Not anymore.” She sighed, glancing over at Ishida’s troubled face.

"But you got to contribute! You gave them permission to donate what they could when you had to have the surgery to take everything out after you were burned -” Nat made a noise to cut her off, but it was too late. Innara shook her head, tears filling her voice. “You could have a child out there, and you don’t even want to know! I don’t understand it!”

Ishida wasn’t stupid, and he knew almost everything about their history. Almost everything. He was looking at Renata with a piercing suspicion in his dark eyes.

“You told me it was elective," he recalled, head tilted slightly as he regarded her.

“Some of it was," she shrugged. “But even if they used my… donations… to help someone else, they’re not my kid. I have no right to them.”

"’If,’” He reached out with his palm open, and she handed him a cigarette, surprised when he leaned forward to accept her gesture to light it for him. “You’ve never looked into it."

“No."

For a moment they stood in silence, except for Innara’s quiet sobs. Then he exhaled a puff of smoke and leaned back against the wall, sliding an arm around Innara’s shaking shoulders. “Ah, we’re a lovely mess, aren’t we?"

"Yeah,” Renata laughed. "But I love our mess.”

"Hmm," he considered her, as Innara took her declaration of love to heart and shrugged away from the wall into her alpha’s embrace. Nat held her tightly, rubbing soothing circles over her back.

“Tell her what you told me, Ishida," Innara demanded suddenly. She half turned in Renata’s arms, reaching out for his hand and looking up at their alpha imploringly.

“Now’s not the time -"

“Yes it is! It’s exactly the time!” She turned to face him fully, and Renata watched as they seemed to be having some wordless conversation. Finally Ishida ducked his head and stepped forward, swallowing thickly before looking down to meet her curious gaze.

“I want your bite, Renata. Don’t tell me it doesn’t mean anything. There are plenty of betas out there with mating bites."

“Why?"

“Why not?" He let her hold his gaze, slowly raising his head until his neck was bared to her, and she could scent fear and desire pulsing around them. Renata closed her eyes.

“I’m not… I can’t…” She swallowed and grit her teeth, knowing they could both scent her response, and her lie. As they had, many times before. Her hands curled into fists at her sides. “We’ve been through this -"

"It’s your bite that keeps me from getting pregnant,” Innara said. She was softspoken, but there was something ugly in her tone, an accusation that rattled Renata to her core. "If we both have the same bite, my resistance to him won’t be as strong."

Renata froze. Inhaling deeply, every part of her tensed tighter than a piano wire, she lifted her eyes to take in Innara at her side and Ishida before her.

“I thought you were incompatible. Wolves and cats have different DNA -”

“There’s a spell I’ve been looking into." He lifted his neck in submission to her, eyes half closed. “I have an old friend who will be in town for the convention. We’ve been talking over email and he thinks - it’s possible for me to change my totem. Temporarily.”

She looked at Innara, moving away so she could stand face to face with her omega, bracing for her response.

“This is what you want? To have a child with him?" She shook off the bitter taste of fear and rejection, so pungent around them that she wasn’t even sure who felt what. Loss, anguish, betrayal. All of it was like a forest fire to her senses, ashen and choking.

"Renata, no! I love you! We love you!” Sorrow filled her voice, and the scent of it was sharp and awful in her in nose as her wife reached for her. She stepped away without looking up, and Innara gasped. “Please, that’s not what I want, I still want to be with you - Please don’t -”

She was sobbing openly now, grabbing at Renata’s arm, her hand, desperate for any touch, but she shut down, holding herself away from the other woman, her own pain locked down tightly in her chest.

“I can’t do it," she refused to look at them, either of them, wincing slightly as Innara turned to be comforted in Ishida’s arms. Renata angrily fisted her own tears from her face and set her chin. “I can’t see my mate raise a child with someone else, and I can’t - I’m a criminal, Innara, remember? I have no place in my life for a kid, now. I love you enough to be honest, so there it is. I’m sorry.”

She took a steadying breath, then beckoned. “Come here, Ishida. I’ll be quick."

"Renata - I didn’t - We don’t want this. Please don’t turn your back on us. Now, of all times -” He tried to catch her eye, but she astutely kept her gaze cold, her shoulders firm. “I never intended to come between you. I love you both!"

"I know.” She closed her eyes. “I know. You’re both sure on this? On having a kid together?"

"I -” she felt Ishida’s sigh in the air.

“Yes," Innara said firmly. “I thought you wanted it, too. I was so happy when Ishi told me about the spell, I wanted to tell you, but -”

"But you didn’t.” She opened her eyes, looking sternly from one to the other. “I can’t be your alpha if you feel the need to keep secrets from me. Life-changing secrets."  

Ishida, at least, had the grace to look guilty. Innara just met her gaze with a kind of baffled, disbelieving expression.

“We always talked about having kids one day," she held her alpha’s eyes pleadingly. "Were you lying when you said you wanted them? Or did you change your mind and decide not to tell me?"  

"I don’t know. I just know… this is how I feel now." She turned away, focusing on Ishida. “We don't have time for anything pleasant, so this is going to hurt. I hope it’s worth it."

"I know,” he grit his teeth, holding himself still, but to his credit, he didn’t scream. Just gripped her wrist - her left wrist - in steel claws, releasing it slowly as she licked the wound clean.

She didn’t speak or turn around for a last look as she trudged to the door, letting the screen snap and clatter behind her, muffling the sounds of Innara’s crushing sobs with her stomping up the stairs. So be it , she snarled in her head. I am not meant to have attachments anyway.

 

Chapter Text

Jacen glanced at the clock when the door opened again. Almost half an hour. He noted with surprise that Renata was alone, and she slammed the door and threw the bolt behind her, leaning against it with a snarl.

“Renata?" He tried gently. Her eyes grazed over him, a wild mix of rage and anguish he was accustomed to seeing from Kylo. In all the years he’d known her, Renata was the strong, silent type of alpha, quick to lend muscle or protect the disadvantaged, but never raging, never the mess of violence and hormones that people expected from the alpha stereotype.

Now, she looked about two seconds from a Kylo Ren-level explosion, and he had no idea what to do about it, except get to his feet slowly and backpedal to put the couch between them.

“Renata?" He asked again, raising his voice in the desperate hope that Finn or Kylo would hear. Thankfully, his tactic worked, at least partly. Finn appeared at the top of the stairs, halting no doubt when he scented the chaos of the other alpha’s scent.

“Shit."

Jacen glanced up, meeting Finn’s wide eyes as Kylo Ren’s lieutenant gave a vicious growl and whirled, sinking brutal claws into the drywall beside the door. She ripped up a good chunk of it before Finn came pounding down the stairs to tackle her, and together they rolled on the floor, teeth and claws flying viciously. Jacen hesitated behind the safety of the couch, unwilling to insert himself in a fight between two alphas, but torn apart at Renata’s visible distress.

“Let go of me!" She screeched, a high tone that shocked both men, and a well-placed elbow sent Finn flying into the wall. Jacen ran to check on him as she stormed into the kitchen, tearing apart the freezer for a bottle of scotch. He had managed to get Finn to his feet when the door to Kylo and Rey’s room flew open, and Kylo rushed out with a frantic growl for Rey to stay put.

“Yeah, that’s right! You tell her… Rey’s a good omega, she knows what she wants…” Kylo narrowed his eyes at Renata over the counter, and Jacen realized she’d swallowed half the goddamn bottle of alcohol in the ten seconds it had taken him to help Finn and for Kylo to come running.

“Christ, Argent. What are you doing?"

She was too drunk to rage effectively now, which was probably on purpose, Jacen reflected, even in the depths of her personal hell, Renata was trying desperately to limit the fallout.

“Drinking," she lifted the bottle, chugging another long swallow like it was water, and falling slowly to the floor with her back against the kitchen wall. Kylo paused as he came around the counter, picking his way slowly through shattered ice cubes and frozen foods. Jacen looked Finn over, and the other man gave him a nod to indicate he was fine. Bloodied from scratches and sporting a few bruises, but otherwise nothing terrible. He seemed shocked, mostly, at having been bested by the tiny thunderstorm of an alpha years his elder.

Together they came across the room, standing at the low kitchen bar, where Kylo squatted a respectful distance from Renata, his voice uncharacteristically soft.

“What happened, Renata? I’ve never seen you like this."

"No. Nobody has.” She shook her head. "I don’t do this. I should’ve known better. Should’ve repudiated her when I went to jail. Guess I’m just… selfish.” She peered around at them all, gathering her knees to her chest in a very defensive, broken, unalpha-like gesture. “Basic training. They say it never leaves you. No family. No friends. No romance.” She swallowed more scotch before Kylo finally managed to wrench the last quarter of the bottle away from her limp grip. “No attachments. No passengers."

"What’s she talking about?” Finn whispered. Jacen gave him a sad look.

“Super ops. Hunters."

"Renata was a Hunter?” Shifters in the military were already an elite force, divided under the Marines and the Air Force, utilised in special squads that made the best use of their particular abilities. Hunters were an even more specialized group. Technically, they were their own force, drawn from all branches of the service and trained to do one thing - stalk and kill. Alone. No reinforcements, no command, no backup. They were dangerous, deadly, and very few made it to muster out.

“For two years. Until the Indigenous Species Protection Act, when they forced her out because of her Indian blood. Too much risk.” He frowned, shaking his head at the alpha who was now sobbing brokenly on Kylo’s shoulder, in between bits of random Johnny Cash lyrics sung in a low purr. “You’re not supposed to survive the Hunters, so any connections - family, love life, whatever - is strictly forbidden. They don’t want anything that might give you a sudden sense of empathy for another person. That’s why ‘no passengers.’ We were assassins, not kidnappers, not soldiers, not people. Just Hunters.”

“‘We?’" Finn raised an eyebrow and the other man shrugged.

“I met Renata through Ahsoka. Retired Hunters are pretty rare. We keep in contact.” He grimaced, watching Renata clutch their leaders arms in sharp claws. Kylo only grunted, ignoring the peppering of puncture wounds on his body. “It’s not easy to readjust when you get out. But me and Ahsoka are betas. The need to mate isn’t a critical part of our biology.”

His lips pressed together as he met Finn’s gaze. “They never should have accepted alphas or omegas, if you ask me. But the government can’t discriminate over designation anymore, thanks to Senator Organa.”

“But they can over species and tribe? That’s bullshit." He looked up as Kylo came out of the kitchen, Renata’s small, sturdy body eclipsed in his arms. They both watched him settle his lieutenant on the couch, even pulling a folded blanket over her shuddering shoulders.

“So what happened?" Finn asked as Kylo came back to settle at the dining room table with the rest of the scotch bottle in his hand.

“Innara and Ishida want to have a kid, apparently," he sighed heavily. “Renata thinks it’s better if they… separate.”

What? " Finn nearly spat. Jacen just eyed Kylo, his own emotions reserved beneath his careful facade of indifference. “But they’re… Innara’s her mate .”

“And her wife," he said in a low voice. “And it’s not any of our business. At least not right now." He raised his eyes, making the words an order to include them both. “And if Ishida or Innara comes knocking on the door, tell them to fuck off.”

He polished off the scotch, slamming the empty bottle down on the table, and climbed to his feet. “I’m going back to bed. Jace. Keep an eye on her, please?"

"Yeah, sure.”

“Wait! Why wouldn’t we let them in? We’re all part of the same pack -" Kylo shut Finn out with a shake of his head and a dark stare that would have frightened the devil himself.

“I’m the leader. I decide who’s pack." He tilted his head slightly at Finn. "What would you do, if that was your best friend?"

It went unspoken, but they all knew who Finn’s best friend was, and the lengths he would go to on her behalf. Including barring the door against Kylo himself. He gave a little nod of acknowledgment.

Kylo nodded in return, both alphas retreating to their own space, leaving Jacen alone to watch over the half-asleep, drunkenly sobbing woman on the couch. He decided it was best not to touch her, but he needed to know if she tried to get up, so he settled himself on the floor, leaning against the couch by her head, and picked up his PlayStation controller, setting the volume on mute and preparing himself for a long night. So much for his thirty minutes of peace and quiet.



“So are we going to the convention or not?" Finn asked the next morning as they shopped for groceries. It was the first time they’d had to really be alone in each other’s company since everything happened, and Rey was overwhelmed by relief to find their natural camaraderie still alive. “I mean, after last night..."

“I don’t know. Probably, but I can’t imagine Renata going." She lifted a bunch of bananas and started to put them in a produce bag, only to have him deftly pluck them from her hands. “Oh, come on, those are the greenest I could find!"

"Newsflash, Rey, we have eight people to feed! We don’t have to worry about things going bad anymore,” he explained, handing her a riper selection. "Jace will just make muffins or something if they get spots.”

“Right. We’re down to six now though.” She reminded him, nose scrunched in distaste. “Is it me, or is this whole pack thing weird still? I feel like my parents are fighting and I don’t know which side to pick, because my heart brakes for all of them.”

“Neither of us had parents, Rey." He glanced at her meaningfully and she rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean! I love Renata and I’m sorry she’s hurting, but I -”

"You think it’s wrong to shut out the others without hearing their side.” He frowned. "I know. Rose and I were talking about it last night.

"Rose doesn’t even like Innara."

Finn blinked at her in surprise, and Rey chewed her lip. Truthfully, she had no legitimate reason to know that, but she caught snippets of the other woman’s thoughts when they talked briefly before Finn and Rey left to go shopping.

She frowned down at the written list in her hand, half in Finn’s neat print and half Jacen’s looping scrawl. At the very bottom, someone had written “coffee - the good kind” and circled it boldly.

“No, she doesn’t.” He grimaced, and Rey focused on the task at hand to keep herself from prying into his thoughts. “It’s like being back in my last foster family, only I’m the adult now. Everything is so complicated.” He shrugged. "I kinda like it, though."

“You do?” She paused from eyeing the coffee and tea selection to give her friend a startled look. He grinned.

“Well, yeah. I finally got Rose to move in with me. And we get to use all of Kylo and Jacen’s sweet electronics. Overwatch is a lot more fun when you’re playing on a team with three other people who actually know how to work together.” He tossed a couple containers of powdered creamer into the cart, smirking at Rey’s grimace of disgust. “Hey, don’t blame me for offending your delicate British sensibilities. It’s not my fault Rose likes powdered fake cream. Take it up with your bosses. That’s all they have at the shop.”

“It’s not my fault Kylo likes shit coffee, either,” she complained, adding a large tub of the cheap stuff to the cart along with a few boxes of Earl Grey tea. “Not that I know what ‘good coffee’ is supposed to be."

Finn joined her in looking over the selection of whole bean coffees in increasingly pretentious packaging. "Starbuck’s?" She suggested.

“No, we tried that last time. Let’s just get a couple different bags to show we tried.” He selected some of the more pricey bags and added them. “If Renata wants to be prissy about her fancy fucking sludge, she can go get it herself. I’m not making an extra trip to Whole Paycheck just for cruelty-free hot bean juice.”

“Maybe we should. She deserves to be spoiled a little right now. Jacen put cashew milk and raw honey on the list, anyway." She pursed her lips at the paper. "What the hell is ground cauliflower for?”

“Ugh, I don’t know, but I’m not eating another lactose-free pizza." He took over the list, leaving Rey to follow him with the shopping basket. "Come on, let’s go pick out some decent meat. I don’t know how a werewolf can stand to be vegetarian, but cats are obligate carnivores.”

“I’m pretty sure Kylo is an obligate carnivore himself,” she agreed. “I’ll eat whatever I don’t have to cook, but I really wish Jace would stick to breakfast and let you do the evening meals.”

“Roasted brussel sprouts not your thing, princess?” He chuckled at her expression as they approached the meat counter and he turned to signal the clerk. “Hey, how you doing today?"

Finn was so accustomed to friendly small talk, working as a bartender, he didn’t catch the mildly hostile ‘fine’ from the man behind the counter, but Rey took a step back when the older, greasy-haired alpha leaned forward over the display case to scowl at her.

“You shop with your omega?” He sneered. His words were directed at Finn, but his watery blue eyes stayed on Rey. “You must be a shitty mate if you can’t even pick out a roast by yourself.”

She saw the moment Finn’s shoulders tensed and he lifted his eyes slowly to take another look at the sneering clerk, but it was Rey who answered, voice colder than the meat freezer in front of them.

“I want to speak with your manager. Now." The son of a bitch had to turn to Finn, seeming surprised to find a nearly-identical scowl on the werepanther’s normally friendly face.

“What are you looking at me for?” He growled, stepping back and nodding to Rey. “You heard her."

"I won’t ask again,” she said coldly.

 

Of course, the manager was apologetic, she even offered to give them whatever they wanted from the meat department free of charge, and rang up all their groceries herself before applying every discount she could think of, but Rey still left in a foul mood. As soon as they were in the car and Finn was driving, she had her phone out, Googling clinics to get back on a steady regimen of suppressants and hormone regulators. She had the Kenobi money now, she could afford the nicer places, and she decided to allow herself this one indulgence.

Finn didn’t speak while she was on the phone, setting up her appointment for the following morning to meet with a clinician for a new patient workup. They stopped briefly at the organic grocery store at Rey’s insistence, but Finn elected to keep the car running while she went inside to grab a few bags of premium coffee and Jacen’s cashew milk and honey. He remained silent until almost the very end of their drive.

“I’m sorry, Rey."

"What? You’re sorry I’m an omega? Gee, thanks Finn, I appreciate the sympathy -”

“No! Rey, no, that’s not what I meant and you know it! That guy was way out of line, I’m sorry I didn’t back you up sooner, I was so angry I just froze.” He shook his head. "You handled it perfectly though. Rose would be proud. I just wish I could have done more.”

“Ah." She stared hard at the number on their parking space as Finn pulled his little SUV into place. “Can I ask you a question? Finn?"

"Sure.” He was regarding her with warmth in his eyes when she glanced over, and Rey smiled in relief to find her friend still acting like… Well, like her friend.

“Does that… happen a lot? I know Rose doesn’t believe in suppressants, but I just… I don’t think I could handle it, facing that kind of asshole all the time.” She gave a slightly nervous laugh. "I’ll be joining Kylo and Renata with criminal charges before long."

"Rey, you’d be locked up for like a second before we bailed you out. They don’t put omegas in with the general population anyway, although in your case it’d be for their safety more than yours.” Rey’s lips twitched at the joke, but she kept her eyes on him, waiting for a real answer. Finn sighed. "Look, just because Rose is comfortable going without suppressants and stuff doesn’t mean you have to be, too. That’s your decision, Rey, it’s not any of my business. It’s not Rose’s business either. Not even Kylo’s, honestly. You just do you, alright?”

"It’s just… Before I had my first heat, everyone treated me like just another beta and I guess I just went with it because it was easier…” She frowned. “I mean, Leia knew, obviously, and Dr. Holdo, and you and Rose, of course, but…”

“You didn’t smell like an omega. Rey, I’m sorry to break it to you, but… What you were doing, pretending to be a different designation because it was easier and you didn’t want to face the discrimination? That’s… not a good thing.” He fidgeted uncomfortably, checking to make sure all the windows were rolled up and fiddling with the cheap air freshener hanging from the rearview. “Your body is your decision, I said I wouldn’t judge you, but… You accepted that internship as an omega. You work for a company that promotes equal rights as one of its founding principles. Did it ever occur to you that people are going to expect you to be… open about your identity? Or at least not ashamed of it?”

“I’m not ashamed, I just don’t want it to be the first thing people notice -”

"Rey, look at me. You know what the first thing people see about me is?” With their easy friendship, Rey had almost forgotten that Finn was an alpha, that he could look into her eyes with the same searing gaze she usually got from Kylo, his pupils narrowed in feline slits. “Before I’m a shapeshifter, or an alpha, I’m judged for something I’ve never had the luxury of hiding.”

“Oh." He’d never tried to stare her down before, but it seemed she’d stumbled into one thing Finn was willing to challenge her on, and it was worse than she could have imagined, because he was right . Rey directed her gaze downward, away from his hard expression, not realizing the significance of her action until Finn took a shallow breath. “Sorry, of course you’re right. I’ve never thought of it that way…”

“I didn’t think you’d back down like that," he said in a warmer tone. "I just wanted to make a point. You’re going to meet other omegas at this convention, and Leia Organa will expect you to set a good example. To be someone they can look up to, to prove that you can have the great internship and go to school and have the career you want in spite of your designation.”

"Right.” She sat still, mulling over the whole afternoon with a semi-vacant stare until Finn got out and opened up the back to start unloading groceries.

“Hey, you gonna help me with these, or are you just gonna sit there having an existential crisis all morning?”

“No, I’m coming.” She tried to shake herself out of the strange mood that had come over her, but Finn was too good of a friend not to notice her unusual silence as they were carrying in their bags and putting away groceries.

“Rey. Don’t think about it too much, okay? Just… Come to the Omega’s Ball and you’ll see. There are all kinds of people, not every omega is a housewife and not every alpha is a muscle-brained meathead.”

“I know that. I’ve met Renata, you know,” she rolled her eyes.

“Wait -” He called after as she turned to retreat into her bedroom to see if Kylo was awake yet. “Did you just imply me and Kylo are muscle-brained meatheads?"

"You said it, not me.” But she gave a small chuckle at his fake-offended face, and he grinned with the accomplishment of making her laugh.

She found Kylo still asleep, massive frame sprawled across the entire bed in her absence, and she sighed, kicking off her shoes and pants and climbing into bed with him. He moved around her instinctively, murmuring her name as he half woke, and she snuggled into him, her head on his shoulder and one leg thrown over him possessively.

Chapter Text

She awoke to the feeling of warm hands combing through her hair, and opened her eyes to watch the rise and fall of Kylo’s bare chest beneath her cheek.

“Hey." His voice was low from just waking, and the resonance she felt through his body made her squeeze up against him more firmly.

“Good morning, meathead." His hand stopped in her hair and she grinned, pushing herself up to meet his eyes.

“What did you just call me?"

"Finn came up with it. He was telling me not all alphas are muscle-brained meatheads.” She watched the thoughts flicker through his sleepy eyes, slightly alarmed as his expression narrowed.

“Oh, but I am?" A feral smile turned the corners of his mouth, the only warning she got before he gripped her waist and flipped their positions. He took her hand and pressed it to his chest, slowly dragging her fingertips over all the hard planes and ridges of his body, down his stomach muscles and lower without breaking eye contact. Rey’s eyes widened as he continued, finally stopping just beneath the waistband of his boxers, where he dragged her fingertips over his half-roused cock. “Is this all you see? All this rugged alpha body for you to fuck?"

“Maybe.” She closed her eyes to avoid his gaze and gave his manhood a teasing squeeze before drawing her hand out of his grasp. "You’re hearing my thoughts, aren’t you?"

“You woke me up when you came back to bed,” he kissed her, warmly, but without the demanding urgency that called for something more. “Then you fell asleep, and I saw a few glimpses from your dreams spilling over.”

"Shit." She dropped back onto his chest, and his arms came up to hold her close. She loved him for what was inside his head just as much as she loved his body, but there was a sanctity in those strong, heavy arms she’d never felt anywhere else. “What am I going to do about that?"

“You need a teacher." He frowned down at her. “I’m not wild-born, but I can show you how to focus your mind."

Rey bit her lip, nodding and hoping he could help her learn enough before they were surrounded by other shifters at this crazy convention.

“He’s right, by the way." His expression softened somewhat, and he kissed her again. "You need to be yourself, Rey. You can’t change your biology. None of us can. All you can do is accept it and learn to make it yours.”

"Not according to Luke Skywalker." It was out of her mouth before she even realized what she’d said, and Rey gasped in surprise as Kylo rolled them over so she was pinned beneath him, teeth bared in a ferocious snarl.

“Don’t say his name!” Rey flinched at the sudden venom in his voice. “Is that what you want? You want to be free of your powers, free of our mating? Just go be a ‘pure’ human instead of a vicious monster?” She whimpered, soft, but insistent, and shoved her forehead against his, eyes wide and aggressive against his alpha stare.

“No," she growled emphatically. “You know that, Kylo. I want it, I want you and my wolf form and our pack and… all of it. I want it.” She breathed in relief as he released her, dropping onto his side to watch her talk. “This omega stuff is new to me, and I don’t like new things. I’m trying, okay? I just… You and Finn and Rose, you knew what you were your whole lives." She swallowed, not wanting to wallow in self-pity. "You had parents and Finn had social workers and there’s mandatory education in California… All I had was one week of health class and that fucking slimebag Plutt. I never had anyone… to show me my place in all this.”

"I can -”

"No, Kylo. I love you, I’m glad you want to help, but I need to figure this out on my own. You’re not my parent, and it’s a little late for the sex talk now.” She smiled gently at his wounded look. "Besides, you can’t be objective when you have a vested interest."

She kissed him once more, before firmly pushing him out of her way and sitting up to find her pants. “Come on, we bought coffee and cinnamon rolls."

"Is Renata up yet?” Kylo called after her as he picked up his phone from the bedside table to check the time, ignoring three missed calls and two texts from Ishida. You wanna have a kid, figure your shit out like a fucking adult. He glared at the screen, forcing himself to breathe and put the phone down before he accidentially crushed the third device this year, although he was sure the Verizon store appreciated his business.

“I didn’t see her. I think Jacen carried her upstairs to use his bed last night. I heard them talking when I got up to get some water.” Kylo had explained some of what happened in his usual, brusque manner, and Finn had tried as well, but he knew they were omitting details Rey would consider crucial. He couldn’t help it, even with Rey, talking about Renata’s personal relationships left a distaste on his tongue, and he couldn’t bring himself to feel the sympathy for Ishida and Innara that he knew he should.

“Good. I’m sure she appreciates not having to go into their room right now." He looked up as Rey came back in the room, teeth brushed and hair pulled back into her series of buns. She was wearing a Harry Potter T-shirt with a pair of jeans and his dark blue flannel shirt over it like a jacket, and he couldn’t help but smile at the sight of her in his clothes. She caught him eyeing her and raised an eyebrow.

“Do you mind? It’s cold in here and you left it on the doorknob, so I -" She clutched his shirt more closely, and Kylo was half-tempted to drag her into bed, rip off every piece of clothing that wasn’t his and fuck her in nothing but his flannel. Rey giggled suddenly, giving him a suggestive smile. “Let’s come back to that idea another time, hmm? Besides, you’ll ruin my favorite shirt.”

“Mmm. I’ll buy you another. Not Hufflepuff, though."

"What have you got against Hufflepuffs?” She crowed in outrage, smacking his shoulder. "They’re loyal and brave -"

“Oh, please. Everyone knows they’re the Hogwarts version of remedial studies." He pulled a clean shirt from the closet and buttoned it hastily as Rey snorted and turned her back on him as she walked out of the room. “Loyal and brave and dumb."

"Says the Slytherin,” she shot back as they walked into the kitchen together, Rey slightly ahead of him. She hesitated when she saw his lieutenant, face haggard and drawn, sitting at the table with her whole body folded around the warmth of an oversize mug of coffee.

“Who says I’m a Slyther-"

"Everyone,” Renata sad firmly before Rey could open her mouth. She held up a hand, and Kylo sputtered. “Sorry, to break it to you, Solo, but I’m sure an ego your size can take the hit." She winked at Rey and gave a brave attempt at a smile, gesturing to the coffee. “Finn said you insisted on going to Whole Foods to look for something decent. You have no idea how much I needed a good cup of coffee today.”

Rey returned the smile, but he noticed Renata was extra careful not to make direct eye contact. Jacen was sitting at the table across from her, in his usual half-sprawl, intently focused on the screen of his tablet, holding his silence on their arguement, though he rolled his amber eyes at them all.

“You’re welcome, Renata" She took a deep breath, and Kylo did too, scenting something citrus-y in the strong, bitter smell of the coffee. “Is that the tangerine blend? It smells more like oranges."

“I think I like it,” the other woman said, taking an appreciative sip. "It’s definitely my favorite so far."

“Good! We’ll keep it on the list!” Rey practically beamed, and it seemed for a moment even Renata was warmed by her smile. Kylo slipped his arm over her shoulder as he scouted for the promised box of cinnamon rolls.

“I was told there was food. You mangy beasts better have left me something.”

"On the stove, Lord Voldemort,” Jacen tilted his head without looking up as Kylo grumbled about the mutinous opinions of the pack he was supposed to be leading. "Thanks for getting my stuff, too." He winked at Rey. “I know Finn wouldn’t have made the extra stop.”

“Good thing I went with him, then. Someone has to keep you kids in line.” Rey settled at the table next to Renata, watching Kylo eat two of the massive bakery rolls seemingly without chewing. He licked his fingers, catching her stare and widening his eyes.

“If I’m Voldemort, what does that make you? Bellatrix -whatever-her-name-is?" He smirked as all three of them made faces of disgust, Rey primary among them.

“That’s disgusting," Renata said distastefully, while Jacen just gave a general groan of disgust. Rey shook her head.

“Ohhhkay, I vote we table this analogy before it gets any more painful," she insisted, receiving nods from his knights. Kylo helped himself to a third pastry, realizing that left only one in the box, and frowned, trying to decide if everyone had had their fill yet. Renata never ate breakfast on a good day, and Jacen ate just as voraciously as him, so theoretically that meant neither of them would be having more…

He turned his head to see Rey eyeing him sternly. “Do you even taste anything before you drop it into that bottomless pit you call a stomach? Bring me the last one. Please?” He handed it over readily, all thoughts of claiming it for himself banished when his mate indicated her interest.

She was hardly any better than him, though she took smaller bites, she was licking her fingers clean by the time he claimed the fourth chair at the table. Jacen heaved a sigh at the faint chirp of his phone and barely glanced at it before shoving it back in his pocket, but Kylo caught the image of Ishida’s wolf form on the picture. He traded looks with the other man, before sighing and turning his attention to Renata.

“My phone is blowing up, country girl. What do you want to do about it?" He tried to keep his voice low and casual, but he did not miss Renata’s quick glance to Rey before she returned to studying her coffee mug.

“I don’t know. What the fuck am I supposed to do?" If he thought maybe another woman would ease her mood, it seemed Rey’s designation was having the opposite effect. “You lost your goddamn mind when your mate ran off, I think I’m handling myself pretty well in comparison. There’s no playbook for female alphas, we can’t go off the rails and expect sympathy.”

Rey noticed her phone buzzing in her pocket, and stealthily slipped it out to read the contact before silencing it and shoving it back in. Renata’s sharp eyes followed her movements like a falcon sighting prey.

“Ishida or Innara?" Her voice had an edge of gravel to it, the question making Kylo and Jacen freeze. Rey tried to shrug it off as if she hadn’t clearly seen Innara’s cell number. Clearly, whatever Renata had to say, she wasn’t interested in saying it around Rey, and it seemed as if her very presence was rubbing the other woman the wrong way, despite her laborious attempts to be friendly.

“I don’t know who it was, I’ll check it later," she said with a shrug. "Probably Leia or Snap calling to see why I haven’t logged in yet. Which I should go do.”

She got up from her seat and retreated back into their bedroom, closing the door and opening her laptop at the tiny corner desk where she did most of her remote work. She had just started answering the multiple help requests lurking in the queue since the last half hour of Jessika’s shift when her phone buzzed again, and she pulled it from her pocket to sit on the table. It wasn’t a number she recognized, but she had a feeling she knew who was behind it.

Rey sighed. It was going to be a long day. Even longer when she had to convince those stubborn assholes out there to stop coddling their fucking alpha best friend, and maybe encourage her to face her relationship problems like and adult. She glanced at her phone again. It wasn’t her business. It wasn’t . Kylo would be furious if he knew…

Hastily, she brought up her work email and typed out a quick note. Maybe she wouldn’t see it. Maybe there would be no response. Either way, it was a safer outreach than text messaging.

She wasn’t expecting such a quick response, nor was she expecting all of the exclaimation points and capital letters. Rey sat back and reread. And reread again. Then she picked up her phone and texted Rose, who she knew was sleeping off her night shift upstairs, but it didn’t take long for her to respond anyway.

Can I email you something in strict confidence?

Strict. Confidence. You CANNOT tell Finn.

Innara?

Yeah.

Send it to my work email.

So she did, and a few minutes later, right in the middle of a long string of Poe Dameron’s lazy code, Rose emailed her back. Rey leaned her elbows on the desk and rubbed at her temples. As if today wasn’t going to be long enough dealing with just work. Slowly, she got to her feet and went to the door of her room, spying Kylo and Renata still sitting at the kitchen table. She counted to ten, giving Rose time to come down the stairs, and waited while she unleashed her short, sleep-deprivation-fueled temper.

“Look. No one’s asking you to see them or talk to them or interact with them in any way right now, but you do not have the right -” Rose hissed at Kylo as he stood up, and Rey edged out of the bedroom to stand in the hallway where he could clearly see her, crossing her arms to indicate just how done she was with this whole thing. “-No, Kylo, sit the fuck down, this has nothing to do with you!"

Renata sat still, almost in shock at the tempest of Rose’s anger, although Rey couldn’t see her face entirely, only Kylo’s. He looked furious, but Rey met that look with equal force, and he kept himself under control while Rose said what she needed to say.

“You do not have the right to hold their things - to hold Innara’s medicine - hostage. You can leave, you can hide in Kylo’s room or our room or go onto the fucking balcony if you want,” Rose fumed. "But you don’t get to bar them from their medicine and the tools they need to work - or their clothes or anything, really - just because you don’t want to talk . I get that you’re hurting -”

“Do you?" Renata said softly, interrupting her finally. Her shoulders slumped down suddenly and she shook her head, and Rey could see a flare of compassion soften Rose’s angry glare. “Because I don’t," she went on, and now Rey could see not just compassion but actual concern in the eyes of both Rose and Kylo. “I’ve been shot, and set on fire, and hit with a roadside bomb that broke my brain so much that I literally cannot feel anything but extremem pain . But emotional pain? I don’t know how to cope. I don’t know how to hurt . But I am hurting and I… How long is this going to go on? Because I don’t think I can stand…” Suddenly her voice broke and she collapsed forward like a snapped wire, covering her head with her hands and sobbing into the dark wood of the table. "I... can't... I just fucking can't!"

Kylo looked stunned. Even Rose didn’t seem to know what to do. Rey took a breath, realizing this was where she had to step in. No one else was going to do it. Cautiously, she crouched beside the older woman’s chair, not touching her, just getting close enough that she could speak softly and be heard through Renata’s sobs.

“Is there somewhere you can go, Nat? Even a hotel for a while? We can let them in and get your room cleaned out and you can just… Take a break. Get drunk if you want. I think Jace has some edibles in the freezer. Just…” She waited as Renata gulped back her sobs, turning to look vaguely in Rey’s direction.

“Yeah. Yeah, that sounds..." She swallowed again, scrubbing her sleeve over her face. “I don’t have any family, here or anywhere else, but maybe… Do you know Amilyn Holdo?”

“Dr. Holdo?" Rose sounded uncertain, and Renata gave a choked laugh. “Oh, right, it's doctor now.  How could I forget? She was a captain when I met her.”

“Is she a friend of yours?" Rey noticed Rose take her phone out and scroll quickly through the contacts.

“She’s… Yeah, you could say that. We were always on friendly terms. Innara didn’t like it so…” She shook her head. “I don’t know. Maybe she won’t want anything to do with me. But the only family I have is in Oklahoma and I promised myself I’d never go back there, so…”

Rose was already dialing, and they all held their breath as the other end picked up.

“Dr. Holdo? I… Yeah, Rose Tico from engineering. I’m really sorry, this is so personal, but my friend needs help and you’re the only person she could think of -” Her eyes went suddenly to Renata with a slight frown. “Um, it is, actually. Okay, I’ll just… I’ll text it to you… Thank you, Dr-”

“She said she’d come," Renata whispered. Rose paused, concentrating on her text, before she looked back up.

“She knew without me telling her your name. I just said a friend -"

Renata didn’t seem surprised, she just closed her eyes and laid her head on the table. “Please don’t hate me for this. I know what it looks like.”

“What?" Kylo leaned his head down, like he could somehow catch her gaze by ducking his head under the table. “I know Amilyn Holdo works for my mom. I don’t care.”

But Renata shook her head until it bobbed heavily against the table and Kylo had to reach out reflexively with his hands to cushion the fall of her skull against the table. Rose was distracted by the bizarre scene, but Rey knew enough about Dr. Holdo to understand.

“No. Dr. Holdo’s an omega," she blurted out before she thought of keeping it to herself. But it didn’t matter, Kylo and Rose would scent it on her immediately. “And she’s… She’s a cat. Some kind of small breed like a… like a lynx.”

“A serval," Renata corrected. She lifted her head, grimacing as if bracing herself against their disapproval. “We met in Afghanistan."

"Oh.” Rose said dumbly. "Huh.” She sat on the arm of the couch, leaving Renata to face Kylo and Rey. She could hear Kylo’s thoughts swirling, and decided to cut him off before he said something he’d regret later.

“There’s no playbook for female alphas," she repeated Renata’s words from earlier. "If you trust her to help you then… That’s your business.”

“Renata," Kylo started again. “Are you sure you don’t want to… Give it some time?”

“No. Innara was always open about the future she wanted. I’m the one who changed. Giving it time isn’t going to fix anything." She got up, just as a firm knock sounded on their door. Rose answered it, but Renata wasn’t far behind her. She halted, fingers digging into the nearby couch as Rose ushered another woman into the room, and Rey blinked in surprise as the normally stoic Dr. Holdo went immediately to take Renata’s hand and pull her in for a tight hug.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. I’m so sorry," her voice was significantly gentler than Rey had ever heard her address Poe Dameron. She looked around the room, eyes catching on Kylo for a hesitant second before she occupied herself with the demandingly miserable alpha in her arms. “Come home with me, okay? I have a nice spare bedroom, you can take a bath and change clothes.”

"Amilyn. I shouldn’t have called you, I just… you were the only person I could think of, I don’t want to burden you -" Fresh tears filled her eyes, and Rey and the others looked away as Dr. Holdo gently tried to turn Renata towards the door. “I...I’m a colossal fuckup, you know?"

Holdo laughed, releasing her to arm’s length and shaking her head. “I know. I know you think that, but you’re not."

"Nah, I sure as hell fucking am. I failed my mate and she’s gonna have a kid with someone else because I don’t want to and…” she dropped her head back against the purple-haired woman’s shoulder, clinging to her with the fierced grip of anguish, as if she were drowning and desperate for anything to keep her afloat. “I never should have bitten her, you were so right, I’m sorry-”

“Shh. Shh, Renata, just come with me, okay?" Slowly, she gathered herself enough to nod and let the doctor guide her away with a firm grip on her hand. Just before the door closed behind them, Kylo jumped into motion, leaping the couch to catch Amilyn’s wrist on the knob.

“Wait, Wait! She needs her - breathing thing -" He gestured to the bedroom. The woman’s brilliant blue eyes had hardened at the touch of his hand, but they softened as he quickly removed it, backing towards the door to Renata’s bedroom. “Just wait a second, okay? Do you need anything else? Renata?”

“I’m alright, Kylo. Everything else smells like -"

"I know, but I’m sure Dr. Holdo doesn’t want you to die because you forgot to breathe in your sleep.” He was quick, coming back out with a square black bag that he handed over quickly. “I found your spare mask, too, I thought it might help. Does she know about -" He swallowed, struggling over the wording, and the older woman shook her head, violet tresses bobbing around her face.

“Do I know she’s numb as a wood post?” She laughed. “I was the medical director of the VA voc rehab in Sacramento before I moved here to work for Leia. I’ve seen her file. It’s alright, alpha. I’ll take care of her, I promise. Thank you for getting the CPAP.”

“Kylo,” Rey said softly, coming to take his hand. “You can trust Dr. Holdo, believe me.”

They all seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when the door shut, Rey firmly putting herself between Kylo and the exit in case he felt the need to follow them to the car. She could see the turmoil in his eyes, he had so few actual friends and he’d looked up to Renata, she was eight years his senior and seemed to be made of steel. Seeing her break down hurt him, and sympathy was something Kylo Ren was unaccustomed to.

When the sound of an engine starting and fading away down the street finally came, he seemed to relax, and Rey couldn’t help staring in disbelief as she locked the door and came back to where he stood.

“What?"

She shook her head, but couldn’t quite hide a small smile. “So you’re not a Slytherin after all.”

Rose rolled her eyes, heading towards the stairs. “Of course he’s not. He’s Han Solo and Senator Organa’s kid. Gryffindor on both sides.”

“That’s not even how it works!" Rey shouted, as Kylo grumbled about his parents having nothing to do with how he turned out. She pushed past him, going back to their bedroom as he followed her and did his best to convince her to take an early lunch break.

“I’d love to, sure, but until Poe stops being a lazy idiot and Jess stops spending her last thirty minutes logged in to post stupid Facebook memes, someone has to actually work .” He sat on the bed, dragging his puppy-dog eyes over her while Rey did her damnedest to ignore him. “Go call Ishida and tell him to come get his shit. You’re the pack leader, that falls solely under your responsibility. And when they’re done, you and Jace can work on getting the furniture out and cleaning everything.”

Kylo groaned, the way he did when he knew she was right but really wished she wasn’t, and she spared him a quick grin. “Go on, the more work I get done, the faster I can log off."

 

Chapter Text

It was five minutes until the end of her shift when Rey saw the new mail alert pop up on her task bar. Rolling her eyes, because she had spent all day fighting with the web developers over the definition of a secure server, she clicked on it, expecting another snarky analogy from Snap.

What she found instead compelled her to a shocked scream, hastily silenced by her hands flying up to cover her mouth. Of course, the sender was a throwaway account from a throwaway mail server, but the link was a legitimate dotcom. One of those nauseatingly chauvinistic sites that ranked nude scenes in movies and television, and compiled lists of the most fuckable celebrities by designation. The most recent post was about the upcoming Omega’s Ball, and it listed projected rates for the top one-hundred omegas rumored to be inattendance.

Idioti nonsense like these sites were exactly why Rey had shied away from being open about her designation, why it still made her uncomfortable when anyone but Kylo referenced it, and why she was grateful to finally be able to afford the high-end chemical suppressants. But even if she had no intention of participating, and she had made that intention crystal clear to Kylo and Finn’s employer… Seeing her name, with a mind-boggling price next to it… at the top of the list…

Abruptly, she slammed her laptop closed, unplugged it and shoved it in her bag with the rest of her panoply of devices regularly carted between work and home, and gathered her sweater. She stood up, glancing around to see if anyone else in her four-person cubicle hub was there, and finding it empty, she started for the elevator. It might not be quite six o’clock yet, but Rey was in no state of mind to work anyway, and really, Leia was not the kind of boss to care about her leaving two minutes early.

She was so distracted, she nearly ran into Rose as the elevator opened, exclaiming in surprise at seeing her up on the IT floor.

“Oh! I was just coming to see you,” she said, gesturing to the bag in her hand. Rey recognized Renata’s magical bag of tricks, and assumed Rose had brought it to work to give to Dr. Holdo. But she frowned as she stepped back, eyes widening as she took an involuntary breath.

“Rose, what are you doing?” Now that she knew, the scent was unmistakable, even if it was fairly faint at the moment. She dropped her voice to a whisper. “Come on, we need to get you home, you can submit your leave over email.”

“I know, I know, it came on early, I don’t know why. But I was already here, and I wanted to leave this.” Rey immediately took the bag from her hands, glancing around to ensure the hallway was empty. Holdo’s office was down at the end, next door to Leia’s. She knew one of them would still be there.

“Okay, come on, if Holdo’s gone, we can leave it with Leia. Have you called Finn yet?” She caught Rose’s hand in her free one, keeping a tight grip in case one of the obnoxious alphas in legal or robotics came by. Most of the time they were adults, but after seeing that shitty website… Rose’s name had been on there, too.

“No, I just started feeling hot on the drive over,” she frowned at Rey’s hold on her hand. “Is it really that strong?”

“Rey!”

They both froze as Leia Organa herself came hurrying out of her corner office, and Rey instinctively took a step forward, inserting herself between Rose and Leia’s faint but definitely alpha scent.

“Leia.” She noted their boss had stopped walking and simply stood a the end of the hall, regarding them both carefully. A small smile twitched over her lips as she took in Rose’s flushed features and the distinctly protective way Rey was standing between them. She glanced at the bag in Rey’s hand, a question hanging on her raised brow.

“Can I help with anything?” Leia asked finally. Rey glanced back at Rose, squeezing her hand quickly before she closed the distance and held the backpack out to her boss. Of all the times… Finally catch Leia alone, and now I don’t have the time…

She couldn’t be mad at Rose, of course, it wasn’t her fault her heat decided to sneak up on her early like this, but she really did need to spend some time, preferably in private, with her mate’s mother.

“This is Renata’s. She’s been staying with Holdo because of…” Leia’s eyes turned gentle and she gave a quick nod.

“I know,” she said, accepting it. “I’ll make sure she gets it. And I’ll approve Rose Tico for heat days immediately. Don’t worry about calling HR.”

Their eyes met briefly, and Rey smiled in gratitude. “Thank you, Leia.”

“One day soon, you and I need to talk,” her boss said in answer. “The next time you’re in the office. I’ll find you on my lunch break.”

“Right, fine.” She turned back to Rose, who gave Leia a tremulous wave.

“Thanks, Sen - Ms. Organa - Leia.” Her voice was an awkward squeak, and she turned quickly when Rey touched her arm, hiding the flame of embarrassment on her cheeks.

“You’re welcome, Rose. There’s no need to be embarrassed, it happens. Take care of yourself.”

“Yes, ma’am.” As soon as they were alone in the elevator, Rose buried her face in the fabric of Rey’s sweater. “Oh, my god, please don’t tell anyone that happened. Senator Organa - she could smell it, that’s why she came out of her office. I’ll never be able to look her in the eye.”

“Relax, she’s not nearly as scary as everyone thinks.” Rey soothed. Rose let out a choked laugh.

“Yeah, you can say that, you’re mated to her son. I’m just an engineer working in the basement.” She swallowed. “Rey, can you just drive me to -”

“I can’t drive.”

“Wait, what?” Suddenly Rose was eyeing her like she’d said she couldn’t tie her shoelaces, or something equally obvious. “What do you mean you can’t?”

Rey shrugged. “Never had much opportunity to learn. Kylo and Nat have been teaching me in her old truck, but I’d never make it out of downtown.”

Rose just stared at her, mouth momentarily agape before she came to her senses and scrambled for her phone.

“Okay, alright, I’ll just call an Uber -”

“Rose, that’s illegal. Even in a progressive place like San Francisco.”

“Right.” They stared at each other as the elevator chimed at the level off the parking lot. “So…”

“You ladies alright?”

Rey turned to find Poe Dameron giving them a hesitant smile, car keys and ID badge dangling from his hands. Fuck his terribly lazy coding, at that moment she almost kissed him.

“Actually -”

“Rey, no!” Rose grabbed at her sleeve. “I’ll ruin his car.” Poe gave her a confused, flustered look, then dragged a hand through his unruly curls and tugged on his jacket.

“Um. I’ve got some beach towels in the trunk if that would… help?” He still looked uncertain, but he was friendly and willing to offer any assistance he could.

“He could just drive your car to the bar,” Rey suggested. “It’s only a few blocks. I’ll pay for your ride back later,” she offered to Poe.

“Sure, I don’t mind. Which one’s yours?”

Rey could see the struggle in her friend’s eyes, and grimaced. Having pretty much rebuilt the old Shelby Mustang with her own hands, Rose was very protective of her car. She didn’t know Poe very well, but Rey did, and she grinned.

“You know that Mustang you were wondering about, with the unmatched paint and killer engine?”

Poe stilled, giving Rose a more careful up-and-down. “That’s yours? I get to drive that ?”

“It is,” Rose beamed as they walked towards the car, Poe giving an appreciative whistle as they got inside.

“This baby is something special,” he complimented. Rose narrowed her eyes as he adjusted the mirror, shifting carefully in her seat on top of the blanket from her backseat and Rey’s sweater. “Who put in the motor?”

“I did.” Rose smirked at his surprised glance. “I did all of it, actually. Bought the frame for a couple hundred bucks and the rest whenever I could. I’m waiting on Kaydel to get some free time in the fabrication bay so we can build the body.”

“Nice,” Poe murmured, clearly distracted by the purr of the engine and the smoothly-shifting transmission. They made it to the bar in less than ten minutes, and Rey left Rose in the car with Poe guarding her while she ran in to get Finn.

It was a crowded Thursday night, she had to fight through a line at the bar before she got to Elle, and when she explained the situation over a series of shouts, the other omega rolled her eyes in disgust at the loss of her best worker.

“No time to restock?” She clarified, as they waited for Finn to come out from the back room. She bit her glittery purple lip delicately when Rey shook her head.

“I can pitch in if you want,” she offered, noting Elle’s growing look of desperation. “Under the table?”

“Oh, sweetheart. If you weren't mated, I’d kiss you.”

Rey didn’t particularly like Elle, but something in her just couldn’t abandon a fellow omega in need like that, and she’d had some experience working (illegally) as a barback in Unkar Plutt’s filthy pub. Finn was quick to hand over his apron, giving Rey the barest of hugs and grinning like an idiot when she ordered him to take good care of Rose.

 

The next three hours were a blur - she spent a few minutes here and there chatting with Poe Dameron when they had a lull, but eventually he decided to call it a night and got his own ride, refusing Rey’s offer to pay.

“That’s an open-minded pal you’ve got,” Elle observed after he left. “Not a single humanist slur, kissed my hand and called me a lady, paid his tab and tip with cash and all. Where’d you find him?”

Rey laughed. Of course Poe would kiss her hand. He knew exactly how to chat someone up, and he didn’t really seem to have any sexual preference other than ‘yes, please.’

“Work, believe it or not. He’s a charmer, sure, but between you and me, he’s kind of shite at the job,” she told her honestly.

“Hmmm. Maybe he just needs to find a job that suits his talents better.” Elle winked, and Rey rolled her eyes.

“I’m pretty sure he does that for free.”

“Ah, must not be all that, then,” she quipped. “If you’re good at something, you should never give it away for free.”

“Speaking of which…” Rey eyed the tip jar. It was getting late, the bar was half-empty, and she had already snuck a text to ask Kylo to pick her up. Elle gave her an appraising look.

“Clever, aren’t you? Go on, tip yourself out then. A deal is a deal.” She watched as Rey counted it out and took her third, tapping her mysteriously unblemished lips with a manicured nail. “I know I don’t need to tell you a portion of that belongs to Finn.”

“No, you don’t.” Rey smiled. She intended to give it all to Finn, but she figured Elle could come to that conclusion on her own. She went to sit at a table by the window, watching for Kylo’s black Audi and idly scrolling through various tech blogs she followed.

She was so exhausted, it took her a minute to realise someone was speaking to her. Someone who had, in fact, helped themselves to the chair across from her.

“Sorry, what?”

“Oh yeah, you’re her. The accent’s right and everything.” The strange man was doing that particularly douchebag alpha thing of sitting backwards in the chair, arms wrapped around the back to display his mediocre gym commitment, and Rey’s hackles went up immediately. “Oh, don’t be like that. No one here could afford that price. I just wanted to get a closer look. And smell.”

He leaned forward, inhaling - and suddenly he was flying out of the chair, smack into the wall with Kylo’s hand wide around his neck. His obnoxious faux leather hat spun in the opposite direction, exposing a greasy mop of dirty blonde hair, grubby hands scratching at the steel grip cutting off his breath.

It happened so quickly, Rey barely had time to get to her feet, but Elle was alarmingly faster. One minute, she was behind the bar, all manicured nails and glittery makeup - the next a snarling leopard landed on the table before Rey, all teeth and claws and a prickled ridge-line of raised fur. Everything else in the bar stopped, regulars taking in the state of the room carefully while the asshole’s friends cackled at their table.

There was a faint hum off electricity, and heads turned as the bar’s owner strode slowly out from the back room, a long metal rod that looked suspiciously like a fucking cattle prod in his hands.

“Ben, put the douchebag down, please. Lord knows what kind of nasty diseases he might have.” The man grunted at Lando’s obvious disdain. “Your mother would be very unhappy with me if I let you catch rabies from some mangy dog in my bar.”

“He threatened my mate,” Kylo growled, sparing Lando Calrissian the briefest glance, though Rey knew he was once a packmate of the Solo’s. “He was sniffing .”

“I know, kid, but I cannot stand by and watch you face prosecution for murdering someone in my establishment.” He paused to tap the stick in his hands. “Even if said person very much deserves it. Police crawling all over the place is just not good for business, and your father's ghost would never forgive me.”

As soon as Kylo let him go, the man hastened back to his friends, several of whom Rey could see had their phones out, no doubt collecting video evidence. Lando and Elle advanced from either side, their established clientele parting around them. When they were close enough, he tapped the primary asshole on the shoulder and gestured to the door.

“I’m only going to say it once. The door is over there. I suggest you make use of it.” His eye traveled around to some of the regulars Rey was familiar with, drag queens and bikers and everything in between, all watching the scene with varying levels off amusement and zero sympathy for the aggressor. “Those are some nice devices. Be a shame if they made it into the wrong hands.”

Rey didn’t see the rest of it unfold, as Lando ushered her and Kylo into the storage room and out the back door, but she had a feeling none of that video would make it out.

“Hurry up and get out of here, Solo. Be one less lie I’ve got to pull over on our hard-working law enforcement.” He squeezed Rey’s shoulder, gently. “Keep safe, sweetheart. I mean it. We can’t lose another Solo.”

“She’ll be fine,” Kylo hissed, draping her with his heavy arm so she nearly staggered into him. “No one’s going to fucking touch her under my watch -”

“Then you’d better make sure you’re around to watch out for her,” Lando interrupted solemnly. “Go home, kids. Do not pass go, forget the two-hundred dollars, just go home.

Rey leaned into Kylo, so exhausted suddenly her very bones ached, and he turned away from Lando to wrap his arm more securely around her waist.

“Are you alright?”

“Just tired. God, Kylo.” He carried her the last few yards, and she let him deposit her in the passenger seat and fuss over the seatbelt before he climbed in to drive. “I have had the worst bloody day.

“Poor Rey.” He gave her a sidelong appraisal as he pulled out onto the street. “Waffles for dinner? There's whipped cream.”

“God, I fucking love you.”

“I know.” One of his rare, genuine smiles broke over his face, and Rey couldn't help her own foolish grin. He was always so blissfully ignorant of his own beauty, but when his controlled demeanor slipped and she glimpsed his real, unfiltered emotions, it took her breath away. He rested his hand low on her thigh, not sensually, just supportive affection, and she felt herself relaxing slowly. “Tell me what happened, sweetheart.”

Chapter Text

Rey picked up her phone for the second time in the last hour, scrolled through the contacts, and groaned in frustration, setting it aside. She adored Rose, but it was annoyingly difficult to manage her current stressors without the advice or input of her two closest friends, and sometimes she really wished they weren't mated to each other . She tapped her fingers on her desk, debating on sending another text to Kylo, but he and Jacen were supposed to be moving furniture and getting the carpets cleaned so Renata could come back home.

But this fucking website… Normally, doing a deep dive into the hellholes of the internet had been Innara’s job, but their last two email exchanges had been shortly-worded, and Rey couldn't help but share some of the pack's resentment towards her. Somewhere between ‘trial separation’ and ‘‘irreconcilable differences’ the weretiger had developed a decidedly cruel tongue, and they had all just avoided speaking more than necessary for the transfer of possessions and paperwork. But she was still keeping tabs on all the nasty entities the Knights of Ren had been formed to go after, sending her finds to the same list of contacts which included Rey and Ahsoka Tano, and lately Luke Skywalker had been added to that list of potential assholes. Something had leaked about a skin-prick vaccine, and suddenly the looming Omega’s Ball, just two weeks away, had become more than just a controversial gathering of hormones.

The potential threat was drifting about on several forums, with wildly-varied theories and a barrage of false information, but this morning an email had come through on the still-secure OVPN server confirming the existence of the vaccine. That was enough for Kylo and Rey to decide they were going, and now she had to manage buying tickets and passes, finding the necessary evening wear for the final gala, and all the practical logistics while still coordinating with Renata on the tactical side.

It was a headache of a job in itself, and Rey felt a wave of guilt at spending so many of her actual work hours on it after all her complaints about the rest of the department. At least she wasn't assigned to the help desk today.

Movement in her periphery made her turn, and she blinked at the face of her boss and future mother-in-law standing right outside her cubicle. “Leia! Ah, um-”

“Busy day?” Her deep brown eyes, so similar to Kylo’s but sharp where his were soft latched onto her screen, and Rey flushed, realizing she had been caught looking at dresses like an idiot.

“I was just… Sorry… we weren't sure we were going, and now I’m doing all these things last minute and Rose and Finn are…” But Leia was simply regarding her with a warm smile.

“It's alright, Rey. I know you're a good worker. I just came by to see if you were free for that lunch you promised me the other day.” She raised an eyebrow as Rey stuttered. “I might be able to help with some of that. My personal stylist is quite good.”

“Oh, no, that's not - I mean, yes to the lunch, but I don't think we need a stylist -”

Leia chuckled. “You're going to take Rose Tico and Renata Argent to a gala? Trust me, dear. You need a stylist. Arthur is mostly retired now, but I know he appreciates a challenge. He won't turn you down.” She pulled a slim wallet from her purse, a little leather accessory made exclusively to hold business cards, which seemed like the dumbest thing ever to Rey, and withdrew a blue card with simple white script. “Just give him a call, he'll know who you are. Now, how do you feel about curry?”

Rey tucked the card away for later, grabbing her satchel and coat and following Leia to the elevator.

“I like food,” she replied, and Leia laughed. “I’ll eat anything once, really. Just please tell me you're not vegan.”

“Just Jewish, but if you promise not to tell God about a bit of bacon on my salad, I won't tell Jacen Syndulla you don't like his curry.”




“So what do you plan to do about my brother?” Leia began without preamble, right after they had ordered their drinks. The restaurant was far too nice to do a proper curry, Rey thought, scanning the menu in an attempt to hide her reaction.

“What…” She paused. This was a potentially dangerous conversation, she couldn’t treat it with the casual disinterest Leia seemed to have. What would Renata say? She closed her menu slowly, lowering it to the table and settling the cloth napkin in her lap. “That depends on what your brother plans to do.”

There. That certainly seemed to give Leia something to chew on. She sipped her not-terrible chai and waited.

“I think I’ll have the lamb,” Leia said as if they hadn’t just traded barbs. “Not too many good places for it around this area.”

“I wouldn’t know. I’m not terribly familiar with anything in downtown other than the street carts,” she responded, smiling faintly at Leia’s sharp laugh.

“You’ll have to learn,” her boss said with a raise of her eyebrows. “I hear you’ve come up in the world, recently.”

“I have no intention of quitting,” Rey assured her. “Though I don’t suppose I need the scholarship anymore, so if you can pass that on, I’m sure there are others who desperately need the help up.”

“Hmm. That’s a good point. I’ll have to bring it up at the next board meeting.” They were interrupted by the server, bringing a plate of flatbread and a few options of chutney that went from from summer in London to the surface of the sun with no apparent order. Rey quite liked heat in her food, and she had not lied about her love of food, either. Leia watched her devour three pieces of naan slathered in tongue-scalding relish with a hint of surprise. “I’ve been told my son is decent in the kitchen. Are you sure he’s not starving you?”

“Kylo? No, he’s fine, but we share a kitchen with six people, and one of them is Jacen. Finn does most of the cooking, actually.” She shrugged. “He did make me waffles for dinner a couple days ago when I was really upset.”

“Now that’s the kind of thing a mother likes to hear.” She favored Rey with a rare smile, and she realized a genuine human connection with Leia was just as uncommon as it was with her son. She might smile a lot, and she certainly knew how to motivate people, but Leia Organa was the daughter of a politician and a long-term senator. She kept herself under lock-and-key just as much as Kylo did.

Rey returned the smile for what it was, grateful for the server who arrived to take their order and give her a moment to collect her thoughts.

“There’s this website, I don’t know if I should tell you about it or not, but -” the older woman waved her hand.

“Don’t worry about my sensibilities, obviously I’m neither a virgin nor a saint, or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Which one was it?” She just nodded when Rey told her, peering over the edge of her glasses. “I assume you’re not going to the… special showing.”

Rey played with the edge of her napkin. Obviously she didn’t want to, and Kylo had made his aversion to it very clear, but if Renata and Innara weren’t together anymore, they were going to need someone in that room. She hadn’t brought any of this up to Kylo, of course, or anyone else (because Rose and Finn weren’t available). Leia had caught her hesitation, however, and she gave Rey a stern look.

“Rey. Tell me you’re not thinking about doing this thing.”

“I wasn’t before, but… There have been some concerns about the skin vaccine.” She glanced up at Leia. “And we know it exists, so potentially someone could do a lot of damage in a short time.”

“Well they should cancel the whole thing, then! If it’s that much of a threat, why even take the risk of gathering so many targets in one place?” She sounded exasperated, and Rey wondered if she’d had a similar conversation with someone else, or if she had inside knowledge from her brother and was legitimately concerned. But if she was, wouldn’t she have her own operatives in place?

“Surely you know that’s not going to happen,” she said calmly, cursing again that she couldn’t excuse herself to go get Rose’s opinion for a few seconds in the bathroom. She was out of her league, speaking to Leia like this, and obviously Leia was well aware of it, no matter how proud of herself she was for weathering the first few minutes.

But maybe there was someone she could reach out to… Abruptly, she dabbed her lips with her napkin and got up. “I’m going to run to the ladies’ room before our food gets here. It’ll just be a minute, I promise.”

“Oh, of course,” Leia gave her a knowing smirk. “My son does know who you work for, doesn’t he?”

“We’ve discussed it several times,” she assured her as she walked away. Let Leia believe she was sneaking off to text Kylo complaining about his overprotective mother. Actually she did text him, just once to let him know where she was, before she sent a few more and crossed her fingers for a quick reply. She yelped slightly when her phone began to ring, and with no other recourse, leaned her back against the bathroom door to keep her conversation at least semi private.

“Sorry, kid, I’m old-fashioned. You in the water closet?” Rey laughed at Renata’s joking accent, remembering belatedly that both her ex-mates were British. “Just answer yes or no.”

“Yes.”

“Good girl.” It was a reflexive answer, and Rey didn’t realize she was smiling at the praise until Renata went on with her question. “You alone with the Queen?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah, she likes to trap her targets. Kylo know?”

“Yes.”

“Any chance you can flake your way out, or are you past the ordering part?”

“Ummm… No and yes?”

“Damn. Okay, here’s how you escape. The woman is a hound for any goo on her son, so if you don’t want to answer or you need to change the subject, talk about Kylo. Just… anything. Talk about his fucking hair care, it doesn’t matter, trust me, she’ll eat it up. Can you do that?”

“Yep.” Rey pressed her lips together to keep from snickering. Talk about his fucking hair care… I love you, Renata.

“Okay, second, she doesn’t like silence, so if you want her to spill whatever it is you think she knows, just give the barest minimum in response. Drives her up the wall, Han Solo was the undisputed master at it. Somehow I think you’ll be pretty good too. Is she drinking?”

“No.”

“Order a drink.”

“No… We’re-”

“Doesn’t matter, get that woman some alcohol ASAP. She’s more likable that way, anyhow. Trust me.”

“Okay,” Rey agreed, not bothering to mention that she was under the legal drinking age in America and had almost had her visa revoked after Kylo went rogue. Somehow she had a feeling Renata would consider that a cowardly excuse, especially after she’d been working for Lando under the table to help cover Finn’s heat leave. “I’ll do my best.”

“Good girl.” She almost flinched, but she didn’t have time to explain to the much-older alpha how her choice of words was borderline inappropriate. Kylo was only half-joking when he teased her about her rough upbringing, and Rey could imagine the expression on his face would be telling by itself if Renata ever slipped up in front of him. “Now, most important, do not talk about any Skywalkers unless she brings them up. Luke, Anakin, Padme, doesn’t matter, just don’t .”

“Umm….”

“She’s already brought one up, hasn’t she?”

“Yep.”

“Anakin?”

“No.”

“Ahhhh…. Definitely get that woman a drink, then. Still, my advice is the same. Stay quiet, let her ramble, don’t offer her anything like an opinion on her brother or her father. Maybe drop the story about Padme in the underworld if you think it’ll help, but only if she’s had a couple drinks. Are we good?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Be a good kid and call Kylo once you’re out, alright?”

“Okay.”

Now suitably armed, Rey left the bathroom and snuck over to the bar, which was fortunately completely walled off from the restaurant part of the establishment. Crossing her fingers that this place wasn’t full of Leia’s spies, she got the bartender’s attention and offered all the cash in her wallet - something close to two hundred dollars, which she realized was her tip money from the Purple Panther - to anonymously send a bottle of wine to their table. In a spur of genius, she told the man to send it to Rey Kenobi, scenting that he was human and hoping her face wasn’t that recognizable, and thankfully the wad of cash made him forget to ask for ID. Then she went to the bathroom, washed her hands for effect, and went back to the table, relieved to find their food hadn’t even arrived yet.

“So should I expect my son to come rushing in with some sort of fabricated emergency to rescue you?” Leia greeted her. Rey gave her a surprised, wounded frown.

“No, of course not. He’s not my master.” She shook out her napkin and sat, slipping her phone back into her satchel. “I was just checking on Renata. The boys got her room cleaned out and we need to know what kind of furniture she wants moved in.”

Leia eyed her, her expression slightly mollified.

“Ahhh… That is a difficult situation. I don’t envy any of you.” She shook her head. “So, about this convention -”

She was interrupted by the anonymous wine bottle, and Rey didn’t have to fabricate her look of irritation at all. Leia had just been about to explain herself without any silent treatment on her part at all. But it was worth it, the look Leia shot her and then the waiter was filled with unfeigned concern.

“Who sent it?” She asked sharply. The waiter, who had received his instructions from the bartender and as far as Rey knew hadn’t seen her, shrugged.

“Just an admirer, ma’am. Someone at the bar who saw the young lady pass, I suppose.”

“If he just saw her pass, how did he know her name?”

“It could have been a woman,” Rey said with a shrug. “Anyway, it’s free.”

“Rey. Do I need to remind you this is a business lunch?”

“Are we going to talk about business then?” She asked with a knowing smirk. Leia sighed.

“Alright, we’ll have one glass each. It’s too expensive to go to waste anyway.”

Their food arrived shortly after, although Leia seemed less interested in it than she did in milking Rey for any information she was willing to spill on Kylo.

“So, am I going to get a wedding invitation, or do you kids not believe in that sort of thing anymore?” Leia asked just as she had taken a bite of food, waiting impatiently while Rey reached for her wine glass to wash it down. Just talk about Kylo… Right.

“No, we umm… We’ve talked about it.” She sipped again, waiting to see if Leia would press the issue. Rey had noticed she had a tendency to drop bits of personal information when she was trying to engage her with a question.

“You’re not pregnant, are you?”

Leia !” She made a wide-eyed gestured towards her wine glass, and the older woman leaned back with a relieved sigh.

“Well, good. You’re too young. I was twenty-two when I had Ben, and I still think I was too young. Han was older, but, well… The men in my family never really grow up.” She jabbed her fork in Rey’s direction. “That goes for Ben as well.”

“I know.” She laughed. “Believe me, I know.”

“Just wait until you see him lose his temper. The Skywalkers have a flair for drama, and I’m afraid Han’s genes didn’t do much to help there.” It was all Rey could do to bite her tongue. She had seen Kylo angry, but she had been warned by both Renata and Jacen that angry and ‘full-on Skywalker melt-down’ were very different things.

During her first week at Organa Tech, she had been the unfortunate witness to Leia Organa-Solo throwing a chair at a cowering Snap Wexley. If that was a full example of his short, petite, sixty-two-year-old mother in a terror, she shuddered to think what Kylo would be like, but she had no intention of allowing him to throw things, at her or anyone else. She decided to try and deter the conversation away from Kylo, despite Renata’s advice.

“I’ve been told I’m a calming influence. Kylo said something about Han being the same way…” she paused, wondering if that was too much information, but Leia was already leaning forward eagerly. “Ah, he was an omega? Kylo - Ben’s father?”

“You’d have never guessed it if you’d just met him. Calming influence!” She snorted. “I suppose he was sometimes . Sometimes he just made me angrier. He had a sharp-tongue and a hell of a way of fighting, but a good heart beneath it all.”

Leia sipped her wine and tilted her head, giving Rey an appraising look. “Han always pllayed his cards so close, he barely looked at them himself. Kinda reminds me of someone else.” She winked, and Rey blushed. She had no idea what to think of Kylo’s mom comparing her to her dead mate, but it was a pretty common to hear that people marry their parents. “Anyway, I didn’t even know until one day Chewie called while I was out campaigning for… I don’t even remember. Some state representative. Chewie’s not the type to just call people like that, and this was before cell phones, you know, so I knew it was important. That idiot had locked himself in his trailer. I mean, he was pretty famous, even then. Could’ve had his pick of alphas, but no. Said he couldn’t stand the scent of anyone who wasn’t me. Yelled it, actually. Like it was my fault somehow. He never did like heats, even after we were bitten and got hitched, he couldn’t stand to be so -”

“Vulnerable,” Rey finished. “And needy. I hate it.”

Leia raised an eyebrow, half open mouth rounding into a laugh.

“You two would have gotten along. I’m sorry you never got to meet him. He was an orphan, like you. No one to rely on but Chewie most of his life.” Rey nodded sympathetically.

“It’s hard. I learned early on not to trust people. It’s instinct now, going into heat just feels like… my body’s betrayed me in the worst way.” She decided to reach for her water glass, feeling overexposed with such an intimate discussion. “I wanted to ask you… Kylo thought you would be able to explain to me, what is it exactly I’m supposed to do for… for the pack? He’s the leader and I’m his mate, I know there’s some responsibility -”

“You’re already doing it, Rey. The alpha is there to make the big decisions, decide when to fight, when to defend, call the shots when you’re engaged in a critical mission… But your job as omega is to shore up the pack when you’re not in a critical situation.” She smiled grimly. “Like the other day with Ms. Tico. Don’t think I missed the way you put yourself between me and her. I should be offended, I guess, but I know you were just trying to make it easier on her. And today I find you using your work hours to organize whatever it is you’re planning for this convention -”

“Sorry, I swear I don’t normally abuse my office hours, it’s just been complicated…”

“Honey, you put in twice the work Dameron does in half the time. I’m not worried about you misusing your on-the-clock hours.” She reached over to squeeze Rey’s hand. “I am worried about you doing the lingerie walk.”

“I just said I was considering it. But I’ve seen the video of past shows, and it’s quite dark off stage, plus this is in a smaller room -”

“Rey, I’m begging you. Don’t do it. Please. If you or Kylo were targeted, I couldn’t live with myself.” Her gaze widened with surprise when Rey jerked her hand away.

“Targeted? Why would we be targeted? By who?” She snapped each question more sternly then the next, giving her boss an icy stare. Leia sighed, falling back in her seat.

“I have my own people on it, Rey. Please believe me.”

“Are these the same people who allowed Armitage Hux and Bazine Netal to sic a Hellhound on us?” She demanded archly. Rey waited a moment, to see if Leia was going to admit culpability, but she just scowled into her glass, looking up only as Rey got to her feet and was shrugging on her jacket.

“The wine was a cheap trick. Who do I have to thank?”

“Renata.” Leia nodded without further comment. “I’ll see you at work, unless I’m being let go for personal reasons after this.”

“No, of course not. Give me some credit.” Leia frowned, rubbing one temple with her fingers. “You kids just can’t go a day without giving me a headache, can you?”

“I’ll make sure you get an invitation. If there’s a wedding.”

Chapter Text

“Just think about it,” Rey settled on the edge of their bed to brush her hair, still damp from the shower. Kylo had been pretending to read something on his tablet and ignore her little speech about the information Innara had gathered and her lunch with Leia, but she knew he had heard her. “Kylo -”

“Rey, thinking about it anymore makes me even less inclined to agree. I know, it’s the perfect place for the purist attack I keep hearing threats about, but that only means I don’t want you anywhere close to it.” He ran a hand through his hair, watching her with wide, nervous eyes. “Please come to bed. I’ll talk to Nat and Finn, okay? I promise, just… the alpha in me wants to tie you to the bed and put a bolt on the bedroom door. It’s not rational.”

“I’m not… adverse to the first part of that…” She turned, feeling her face flush as his eyes trapped her. Her body was already responding to the images of Kylo binding her and taking her at his leisure, and she closed her eyes when he leaned forward, lips parted slightly to better take in her scent.

“Don’t tempt me,” he warned in a low voice. She could smell him now, too, and she opened her eyes to find him crawling towards her across the bed. “Rey. I want to -”

“Yes.”

“I didn’t even say what.”

He frowned, reaching out to tip her face up towards his and claim her mouth with a searing kiss, hot and unrelenting, nipping her lip and forcing his tongue into her mouth. Rey whimpered, clutching his shoulders and bowing willingly to his forceful assault, trapping his tongue and sucking against it eagerly. They parted, both panting, and Kylo’s eyes grazed over her, taking in her faded band t-shirt and the blue flannel she had stolen from him and now used as a sort of robe.

“I don’t care. Just… I need you. I need to let go.” The week had left her with every muscle in her body tensed, and even the hottest shower she could stand still left her feeling overwhelmed and worn thin.

“Please,” she added, looking up to meet his eyes, thrilled to find them already dark with lust and need.

Kylo didn’t need anymore invitation, he dragged her into the center of the bed with one arm, the other fisting around her shirt. He used his teeth to tear it, quickly yanking away the shreds while Rey yelped in shock. She tried to shrug out of his flannel, but he hissed and pinned her wrists beside her, his lips flush against her ear.

“No. I like seeing you in my clothes.” He mouthed at her neck, tongue tracing a path from her jaw to her shoulder, where he sucked and bit recklessly, leaving a pattern of bruises in his wake. Rey sat up to reach him, her hands fumbling for his pants, but he batted them away, instead yanking the shirt back so her arms were stuck behind her. “How would you like it if I tied you up this way?”

She swallowed, looking up at the fire in his gaze, and bit her lip.

“That depends on you, I suppose. If you promise to pleasure me while I’m tied up…” She shrugged, the words braver than she felt. “I don’t know. I might like it. You might end up with a wolf in your bed.”

“Fuck.” He stared down at her flirtatious smirk and then his mouth crashed over hers, hard and hot, his teeth dragging at her lip and his tongue invading her, sucking the air from her lungs in a greedy moan.

He pulled away, hands firm but not too rough on her shoulders, clutching her body like she was a puppet he could manipulate however he wanted.

“Turn over. On your hands and knees,” he gasped, and Rey felt a flash of white-hot heat fill her stomach as she did as he commanded. She started to lie down in front, reaching for a pillow to clutch under her head, but his hand came down on her wrist to stop her.

“No. Put your hands behind your back.” Gently, he pulled her arms back behind her, and she was forced to fall down on her shoulders, but Kylo transferred his grip to one hand so he could arrange the pillow for her comfort. “Okay?”

“Yes,” she agreed in a breathy whisper. They’d never done anything like this outside of her heat. Rey preferred to be on top, or at least eye-to-eye, but she couldn’t deny how it made her feel and Kylo could certainly tell. She was unusually wet, and this position left her so exposed… Part of her was frightened, and part of her (the dominant part) begged for more.

She whimpered as he used the shreds of her sleep shirt to bind her wrists, loosely enough to provide some give for comfort, but secure. Instinctively, she wiggled her body and flexed her hands as he drew his fingers over her neck and shoulders, sweeping her hair into one hand. He leaned over her with a slight tug pulling her head back, his breath warm against the back of her neck as he whispered.

“You’re beautiful like this. Bending to me.” He mouthed down to nip at her ear and the scent glands beneath it, and Rey closed her eyes and relaxed into his hands. “Make lots of good noises for me while I pleasure you.”

“Oh, God,” she rubbed her face further into the pillow, letting out a shamefully loud howl when he moved behind her and licked her completely, from the sensitive pearl in front all the way to - to - “Kylo!”

“No? Not there?”

“I didn’t say no, it just… surprised me.” His fingers explored the wet heat of her entrance, and he gave an appreciative grunt when he found just how excited he’d made her.

“Oh, Rey. You like this.” His tongue replaced his fingers and he lapped at the slickness inside her, drawing soft whimpers from her as she silently begged him to do more, to touch her or penetrate somewhere with something besides his tongue. His voice was smug when he spoke. “Put something inside you besides my tongue?”

“Shit! I can’t control it - like this -” Her words choked off as he slid one finger deep inside her, lazily thrusting just to tease her. She could sense what he wanted to do next, and she whimpered, trying to push herself back over his hand. “You can - do that - I -” Fuck me there with your finger, it’s okay, I want to know…

He did, very carefully, slowly wriggling up to his knuckle, leaving Rey to groan and pant, muscles clenching around the intrusion.

“Relax for me, sweetheart,” he soothed. His tongue lapped at her entrance, warm and pleasing, and she sighed as her body eased. It was a familiar feeling, once she acclimated herself, and she whimpered as he slowly pushed his long digit in and dragged it out repeatedly.

“Rey?” His free hand came around to rub her shoulder, and she leaned her head against it, just enjoying the way his hands could engulf so much of her body. Kylo’s touch, his mouth and his hands and the rest of him, all of it was heat, and Rey was like a sunflower, always yearning for the warmth.

“It’s… Good, I think…” she murmured finally in answer. He thrust in and out with a cautious increase in speed, and she moaned and rubbed her face against his hand.

“I want you to come like this.” God, did he know what his voice did to her? Of course. Of course he did, she’d told him before. Before she could respond, his other hand moved down her back, brushing her bound hands and roughly squeezing her ass before seeking out the center of her pleasure in front. Fuck, fuck, fuck…

“Rey,” he breathed against her neck while both of his hands worked her body, drawing wild, ruined cries from her as she shuddered beneth them. “Will you do that for me?”

Her response was a long moan that rose to a howl, too far gone now to make any coherent words or control the state of her body. She writhed and twisted, the strange sensation of being filled from behind while he stimulated her apex with his other hand was too much and not enough at the same time, and her body jerked without really finding a rhythm. Rey growled desperately beneath the onslaught, her whole body feeling swollen and taught, seeking… seeking something more…

“Yes, yes! ” His voice was low, filled with his own unbridled lust. “Show me how much you like this, you filthy little omega.”

“Kylo!” She pleaded, sweat pooling between her shoulders and more slick than she'd ever felt outside of her heat trickling between her legs. Suddenly his tongue was there, lapping it up, rasping inside of her to taste the source, and Rey screamed.

"Good girl!" He encouraged before going back for more. "Come for me, sweetheart, I need to taste it."

Fuck, yes, please, tell me I’m good, taste me, use me, I'm yours, please alpha…

“You taste so good, Rey. Keep making those sweet noises.” He had to have heard her thoughts, but she didn’t care, let him know, let him see how much she could give him, how good she could be. His left hand found the perfect place at her front, rubbing in swift, firm circles over her sensitive nub, while his tongue and finger thrust inside her. “Be a good girl, just let go. It’s okay, I’ve got you.”

She sobbed when she finally did, clenching and thrusting her hips back and forth to chase his touch, lifted on a bright wave of delicious warmth, filling her, quieting her mind as it ebbed. Kylo’s soft hands eased her down until she twisted away with a cry from his fingers on her overstimulated body.

“Shhh… shhh… It’s alright, let me hold you.” He eased her to her side, pulling her against him him so she could feel his pulsing erection against her thigh. He kissed her ear and nibbled at her scent glands while she caught her breath.

“Well, that’s a thing now, I guess.” She breathed out a low chuckle. “I never thought I’d want to do that outside of… you know, in heat.”

“You’re a lot tighter…” he paused, and she could hear him thinking, too curious to bother backing away when it was about her. “I don’t think -”

“No. I’m sorry, but you’re rather too… alpha for me be comfortable.” She felt a wicked smile creep up and she wiggled against him purposely. “Please feel free to penetrate me in other ways, though.”

“Oh, yeah. We’re not done, sweetheart,” he growled in her ear as he wrapped his arms firmly around her and rolled onto his back. Rey panicked, struggling against her bonds until he firmly guided her to straddle him, facing away from him. “Rey. Be still and let me pose you. Trust me.”

He lifted her up onto her knees to fit them together, and she forced herself to be calm and let him move her until she was sinking back onto his deliciously hard length, and they both groaned when he filled her to completion.

“There, see?” He swept her hair out of the way, gripping it firmly in one hand while the other held tight to her bindings. Rey felt well and truly powerless this way, not only was she tied up, his hold on her hair allowed only the slightest movement.

But when he began to thrust beneath her, fucking into her with his blinding alpha strength, all she could do was moan and close her eyes as familiar heat poured through her again.

“You’re mine. My beautiful, filthy mate,” he groaned, tightening his fingers in her hair until tears pricked her eyes. “Say it. Say it!”

“Yes - God, Kylo!” Her whole body rocked with his movements, and she let out another loud howl as she crested unexpectedly, wailing as his thrusts dragged it out. “I’m yours, I’m yours, alpha!”

God, you're beautiful, I could fuck you nonstop for the rest of my life. My mate. My love. Mineminemine... Rey was absolutely sure he didn't realize she heard his thoughts, dimming to a low chant of 'mine' and 'fuck,' but now was not the time to confess. The mindless repetition of cursing and ownership had her inner omega purring, but it was the growing number of 'i love you's' added to his mantra that made her chest swell and her spine tingle.

“That’s right, omega," he encouraged, feeling her body clench around him. "My sweet love. Come with me, Rey. Please, please...” He was panting and she knew he was close, her mind open to his scrambled thoughts. She closed her eyes and shifted over him, adding what little movement she could until she felt him shuddering beneath her, the moment of frozen silence before he was cursing and groaning her name.

“Say my name when you come in me, alpha!” She liked this, the vulnerability, the willful submission of control, but Rey had to make sure he knew - she was his, yes, oh yes. But he was hers, too. "My alpha. My mate."

“Rey - fuck - yours - yes, yes -” His cries were a low growl, and she reveled in just how broken they sounded coming from a man twice her size who had her bound and completely helpless under his control. He was still a moment, his knot expanding to stretch her wide while they both tried to breathe, and then she felt his hands unwinding the fabric from her wrists. He pushed her upwards carefully, eliciting a small whine from her as his width dragged inside her, but he soothed her quickly by rolling them to their sides and wrapping her in his arms, pressing kisses to her ear and temple.

“You didn't just now, did you?" He sounded legitimately anxious, and Rey could only roll her eyes, unsure if it was injured pride or his deeply-buried need to please her at all times.

"It's fine... Really, I already -"

"Will you come on my knot?” He whispered as he nibbled her earlobe with sharp teeth, mouthing down her neck and sucking bruises into her skin. Rey shuddered as she contracted around him with a whine.

“Tell me you’re mine again. My mate, my -” She cut off with a hoarse moan as his hand delved into where they were joined, catching fluid on his fingertips and rubbing her aching nub. It took longer, but Kylo was determined, wresting another peak from her as he filled her again with more of his spend.

“I’m yours, Rey.” he panted. “Completely yours. I love you so much.”

“Good!" She gasped, chest heaving as she fought for her breath. "Good alpha. I love you, too!"

They were quiet for a time, Rey trying to keep her thoughts to herself while she processed, but he knew her too well. Kylo shifted around her until he could see her face, taking in her thoughtful frown.

“Was it too much?” He asked hesitantly.

Rey blinked in surprise. How could he not tell? “No! No, it was… It was amazing… You’re always amazing, I just, I don’t know what to make of it…”

“What to make of it?”

“Kylo, I was a virgin a month and a half ago, do you remember that?” She shook her head. “All of this is… I never expected it to be like this, and it’s a lot to take in. I didn’t think that I would like these kinds of things and now I know I do, it’s just… weird. And I never… I didn’t want to mate anyone, but I didn’t know it would be like this.”

“Rey, we don’t have to fuck like that - I’m sorry, I forget that you’re so much younger. You don’t even have to sleep with me either. I should have given you more time...” He rolled over onto his back, letting go of her as his knot deflated, and Rey shoved herself up on her elbows to scowl at him. “Fuck! Fuck, what’s wrong with me, I should never have bitten you... I’m so sorry I just -”

“No -”

“But I’m -”

“No! Stop saying that, Kylo!” She sat up, shrugging his shirt back around her and staring at him with what she hoped was a stern gaze. “Did you forget I bit you, too? And don’t tell me I’m too young to make decisions, I’ve been responsible for myself most of my life! I don’t regret anything. Even tonight. Especially not tonight! I just need some… some personal time.”

“Personal time,” he repeated darkly, and she shook her head, reaching out to him, but he turned away. “It’s alright, Rey. I understand.”

No, you clearly don’t, you bloody imbecile, but I’m not going to fight with you over it now.

She buttoned his shirt hastily, checking that it hung low enough to cover everything, and got out of bed, slipping into the bathroom to clean up. She hoped he’d compose himself a little in the few minutes while she was in there, but she opened the door to find him still lying in the same pose, one arm flung over his eyes. Drama queen .

“I need to run,” she said, hoping he would understand that, at least. “It would be nice if you came with me. Please?”

“You want me to Change with you?” He sat up, looking her over in surprise.

“Yes. There's a turnout on the PCH where you can get down to the beach a couple miles away. It’s where Jacen goes to surf.” San Francisco was a pain to live in, but it had its highlights, and the beach and the ocean were at the top of the list. “It’s cold at night, but I like it. Reminds me of when I was… well, before Obi-wan came and made me be human. It’s empty and quiet.”

“Wouldn’t it be quieter without me?” He grumbled. “I thought you wanted personal time.”

“I do, but you’re not people.” She shook her head. Why was he always so quick to jump to the conclusion that she didn’t want him? “You don’t bother me. I like your company. Always.”

“Always?”

She climbed back onto the bed, crawling up his body to take his face in her hands, and pressed her forehead to his. Apparently she wasn’t getting the message across, so she decided to make an effort to be more affectionate. Rey wasn’t, by nature, she hated to be touched without permission and only truly felt comfortable hugging Kylo and Finn, but clearly he needed more reassurance, so maybe if she drowned him in it, he would finally be satisfied.

“Yes, you bloody stupid alpha. Always.” She paused, reminded of something as she watched Kylo collect his jeans from the floor. "I want a klaive."

"You - you do?" He blinked at her, leaning in to study her expression before a hint of a smile touched his eyes. "Ah, you do!"

 

Chapter Text

Running in his wolf form never failed to soothe him, and Kylo had to admit Rey was right. It was excellent stress relief, and the world just seemed so much simpler as a wolf. The scent of salt and seawater and all the wildlife in this secluded inlet filled his nostrils, and for the moment following the more interesting trails was a welcome distraction.

Rey raced ahead of him, darting back and forth, and once again he was amazed at the speed and agility of her peppered gray-white form. He had seen wolves of pure white, but somehow Rey’s coloring made her seem brighter, the snowy tips of her ears and delicate paws standing out under the near-full moon. She was heading back towards him now, making tracks in the wet sand that were rapidly washed away by the waves.

Watching her race towards him, he felt the beginnings of an idea forming. He had promised to teach her to shield her thoughts, as well as some of his other tricks since they shared the same half-moon auspice. The beach was secluded and inaccessible to humans, a perfect place to practice mystical arts.

Rey . He met her eyes as she reached him, padding through the sand to bump her her head against his chest and rub her scent under his jaw.

What?

This is a perfect place for practicing. He stepped back and shook himself, feeling damp with the spray of water and wind. It was a chilly night, too cold to return to their human forms, but mystic arts were easier to pick up as a wolf anyway, and the moon was bright to guide them.

He walked a but further from the surf and sat on his haunches, Rey following after and settling herself likewise across from him.

Shielding first, he began. Look carefully at the moon. Around the edges, where the glow meets the sky, there’s a kind of fuzzy halo.

She turned her head up, eyes narrowed. Okay. I see what you mean.

Think of your mind as the moon. Around it, that halo, is where your internal energy meets with the outside world. In order to keep it full and clear, you have to feed it.

Feed it? Like a fire?

Yes, exactly! He would have smiled if her were human, but as a wolf his ears pricked towards her and he nodded once, firmly. But this is a slow-burning fire. You don’t need a blazing heat. Just feed it enough to keep the embers glowing.

Hmm. She closed her eyes, and he watched her, opening himself to the immaterial plane, where an imbued observer could see the glow of energy all around them, varying from the bright white of their forms to the fading dimness of driftwood on the beach.

When he was satisfied with the look of her aura, he caught her attention with a soft nudge under her chin. Good. Keep it up. Eventually it will be instinctive.

It’s not hard, she scoffed. Why didn’t you show me before?

We’re alone here. In our wolf forms. I think you’ll find it’s not so easy when you’re surrounded by people talking and laughing and being loud.

Hm.

Keep practicing, was all he could add. He could tell by the way she held her ears slightly turned, and her chin high, that she didn’t quite believe him, but there was no arguing with Rey’s stubbornness. I also want you to practice summoning my klaive. Not right now, but when we’re human again. Summon it and banish it whenever you have free time.

Um. Okay, but what if I can’t banish it back? Like if I’m in the store and I suddenly have this antique sword -

At home, Rey! I assumed you'd know that!. She had turned her head, one paw scraping at the sand as she made a sort of whining, wheezing noise that made him lean forward in concern… until she glanced upwards and he could see the laughter dancing in her eyes. Kylo huffed irritably, but it only made her snort harder. Even her tail thumped the ground a few times in the throes of her amusement.

Oh, what? The great Kylo Ren doesn’t laugh? She lowered herself suddenly on her front paws, tail flagging the air behind her, and he peered in confusion at her apparent excitement. Come on!

Sand flew as she darted to the side, racing circles around him, and Kylo realized he was completely out of his depth with her. He’d spent plenty of time in this form, training with Luke and his knights, and his parents had seen that he was comfortable in his movements, capable of recognizing scents and signs of plants and animals, what to avoid and how to pick up a trail. But none of them - even Luke and Leia, the children of a wild-born wolf - actually knew how to be a wolf, in the truest fashion. They were humans with good camouflage, and that’s all they would ever be.

But Rey… She was ducked down in front of him again, her hind end wiggling in a way that would be suggestive to a human, but was definitely not in this shape. What’s wrong with you? Too busy being a majestic beast to play?

He rolled his eyes, heaving a sigh as he climbed to all fours, shaking sand and twigs from his pelt. Play? You want me to… play with you? Like children?

There is nothing wrong with adults playing! Some kind of challenge came into her eyes, and he had a single second to recognize their gleaming intent before she crashed into him with all her strength, knocking him down and racing away. When he picked himself up, she was watching him over her shoulder from the beach, mouth half-open in a wolfish grin.

Fine. He allowed himself a low growl, muscles bunching for a mighty leap. But you’re going to be singing a different song when I catch you.

Hmph. You’d have a better chance chasing me on two legs!

We really need to train -

This is training. You’re teaching me magic, I’m teaching you how to be a wolf. There’s no law that says training can’t be fun! Why do you think animals play?

He had no real answer to that, but Rey was already racing away, and he had no choice but to take off after her and hope his stamina could outlast hers.


Kylo stayed up late that night, scouring the internet for any shred of information on wild-born shifters and the even smaller offerings on wild-born omegas. It was shocking to him how easily Rey could slip from his control, standing up to him and even meeting him eye-to-eye. There were plenty of mediocre alphas and independent omegas out there, but Kylo was imposing even for an alpha. He had dominated Hux and Renata and even his own mother with far greater ease than he did Rey, and while it didn’t necessarily bother him (actually it was a part of why he found her so arousing), he was insatiably curious by nature. Rey was a mystery, and from what he read, she was a mystery to polymorphic geneticists as a whole. Some of them doubted the existence of wild-born at all, although their alternate theories as to how toddlers came to be found wandering naked in the wild were quite bizarre. Dr. Amilyn Holdo seemed to be the closest thing to an expert on omegas, and he was in the middle of trying to get around a paywall to read her articles in the esteemed journal Fera when the jangle of keys reached his ears.

He looked up over the top of his screen to see Finn opening the door very carefully, a soundly sleeping Rose and large duffle bag filling his arms. Kylo wrinkled his nose at the faint scent that reached him in the kitchen, and Finn met his gaze apologetically.

“I didn’t want to wake her up to shower,” he murmured by way of apology. He had her bundled up in sheets and his coat, and Kylo shrugged sympathetically, knowing exactly how easily an omega in heat could be reduced to a panic just by catching the wrong scent.

“You don’t need to apologize to me, Finn. But we do need to talk for a moment, if you don’t mind.”

“Yeah, just let me get her settled -” He turned to heft his burdens up the stairs before Kylo could amend the request to ‘not right now’ and he went to the kitchen to refill his coffee while he waited for Finn.

The werepanther had bathed quickly and changed clothes before he came back, sliding into the kitchen chair across the table from Kylo almost silently enough to spook him. He grimaced as he sloshed a bit of cream on the table, wiping it up with a sleeve.

“Jesus, Finn. Make a noise or something.”

“What, did I actually sneak up on the Big Bad Wolf?” The Kylo Ren from before Rey would have been annoyed, possibly even reacted violently, but he was coming to enjoy Finn’s quick wit, and the sarcastic banter of this new pack felt far more comfortable than the toxic dynamics between him and Armitage Hux.

He favored the werecat with a self-deprecating smile. “Don’t tell anyone.”

“By anyone, do you mean Rey, too? Because I really want to see her face -”

Kylo rolled his eyes. “Rey doesn’t count,” he said absently. “She’s not people, she’s Rey.

“Oh, man.” Finn chuckled, watching the dark-haired alpha sip his coffee, trying to hide the emotions that played over his face whenever he spoke of his mate. “She’s got you wrapped around her finger.”

“Please don’t tell her that,” he pleaded quietly.

“No, I won’t. Wouldn’t want her to get even more bossy.” He agreed. “She probably already knows, though.”

“Does she?”

“You ask her to marry you yet? Officially, like with a ring and everything?” Finn asked. Kylo sighed, running a hand through his hair.

“She doesn’t want a ring. She wants a klaive.”

Finn snorted, his dark eyes wide as he shook his head slightly. “Wow.”

“Yeah.” Kylo cleared his throat. “So, uhhh… while you guys were on leave, Rey got it into her head that we have to do the catwalk.”

What?! Kylo, listen to me -”

“I know, Finn! You think I don’t have a list of a hundred reasons I don’t want her up there? She got cornered by my mother, and…” He waved a hand, forestalling Finn’s response. “And… My mother let something slip. Something is happening at the convention. She begged Rey not to go.”

“Goddammit.” Finn’s hands made fists on the table. “Telling Rey not to do something just makes her more determined -”

“I know that, too.”

“So what’s the plan, then?”

Kylo shifted uncomfortably. This was a delicate thing to suggest, and he didn’t want to start a fight with Finn by making it seem like he was ordering him to put Rose at risk. But if Rey was determined to do it, he at least wanted one person with her, preferably a member of their pack who she’d be most inclined to listen to.

“Well…”

“Fuck, Kylo! Really?”

“How about you tell your omega what Rey plans to do, and see what she says.” Rose and Rey were thick as thieves now. Finn’s chances of stopping her from following Rey into the mouth of hell were about as good as Kylo’s had been.

Goddammit!” Finn growled, fisted hands spreading into drawn claws that dug points into the table before he managed to retract them. “Shit. Whose table is this?”

“I think it came from Renata’s. Don’t worry about it.” He gave Finn a sympathetic look. “Got you wrapped around her finger, doesn’t she?”

Finn cast him a miserable look as Kylo leaned back to sip his coffee. “We are so screwed.”

“Nat will be there, too. I don’t know if she’ll bring Dr. Holdo or not, but alphas have to have a companion to get in and -” He didn’t want to give words to the ugly act of repudiation, and Finn just grimaced as he waved his hand in lieu of explanation. “Anyway, she’ll find someone reliable, I’m sure.”

“That’s… slightly reassuring?”

Kylo sighed. He could vividly recall his conversation a few hours earlier with his lieutenant, still occupying Dr. Holdo’s guest room. Mostly, he recalled a lot of yelling, and cursing.

“She said it sounded like a goddamn nightmare.”

“Agreed.” Finn rose abruptly and began searching the refrigerator, coming back with an energy drink and an orange. “So, again, you’re the one in charge here, alpha. Got any ideas?”

Kylo’s jaw worked for a moment as he tried to formulate the right words, his eyes fixed blankly on his coffee. So many things could go wrong, he couldn’t stop running worst-case scenarios in his head, all of which only got even more gruesome when he tried to pick them apart. A large part of him was itching to run more, to walk the streets instead of the sand and follow the scents of criminals...

“I have a few cards left,” he sighed finally. “But I need more to go on.” He grimaced, then looked up to meet Finn’s eye briefly. “We need to arrange a sit-down with your bosses.”

“I can do that,” the other alpha assured immediately. He pulled his phone from his pocket and scrolled through the contacts with a thumb. “What should I say?”

Kylo was ready this time. He’d been steeling his nerves ever since Lando had helped defend Rey from the random assholes at the bar.

“Tell Calrissian… Ben Solo needs a favor.”

Finn glanced up, taking in the grim set of the other man’s jaw, his mouth pressed into a near-snarl and his eyes far away. He coughed, capturing Kylo’s attention, and leaned over to show him his phone. At his leader’s nod, Finn thumbed the send button.

I was told that Ben Solo needs a favor from you.

 

Always calling in favors, those Solos.

I’ll be in the office at noon tomorrow.

 

Thanks, we appreciate it.

 

Tell Ben it’s good to hear from him.

And he should call his mother.

 

Kylo rolled his eyes when Finn showed him the rest of the text chain, downing the rest of his coffee and climbing to his feet.

“I’m going to drive down while it’s empty and see if I can scope the perimeter,” he said from the kitchen. “I can’t sleep unless I work off some of this nervous energy.”

“I know what you mean,” Finn agreed, pushing his chair back. “Do you mind if I… I mean, do you want some backup?”

Kylo paused, studying the broad, dark-skinned young man with a startled expression as it slowly dawned on him that Finn was a powerful alpha in his own right. Maybe not as experienced, but definitely reliable. Normally, he would ask Renata or Jacen - or Phasma, before - but they weren’t home. He knew Rey would insist she could hold her own, and she was probably right, but he couldn’t focus on anything if he thought her safety might be at risk. He didn’t have to worry about another alpha like he would his mate.

“You know what, Finn? I could use another pair of eyes.”

Finn smiled, a genuine smile with a quick flash of teeth. “Okay. Great!”

“I’ll get my keys -”

“Wait. Where’s Jacen?” Finn cast a glance around the empty living room. “I don’t want to just leave Rose alone…”

“She’s not alone.” They both froze, as Kylo turned to the doorway to his bedroom and came face-to-face with Rey, eyes narrowed and arms crossed over her chest.

“Goddammit!” Finn growled, but Kylo just shook his head.

“Going somewhere…?” Her hazel eyes held his with brutal mirth. “To scope out the convention center maybe?”

He realized she had some printed pages in one hand, opposite the other holding his coat and keys. Schematics and engineering maps of the Moscone that he had been studying earlier, he realized as he took them.

“How did you know -”

“Because I know you. You’re going to worry at this ceaselessly for the next two weeks.” Rey smirked. “It took me less than a minute to get into your Google account and search for ‘convention center.’ Did you forget what I do for a living, or did you really think ‘reysolo98’ was that brilliant of a password?”

Kylo winced, running a hand through his hair and stuttering, while Finn chuckled and Rey watched him with a tender smile.

“I… uh… I didn’t expect you to be the one guessing it,” he managed lamely. She stepped forward to give him a little peck on the cheek. His voice dropped to a whisper. “Is that all you looked at? My notes on the Moscone?”

“You’re adorable. I promise I didn’t read your smutty fanfiction or poetic odes to my ass.” Rey grinned, holding out his keys and jacket.

He caught her mischievously glinting eyes and reached up to hold her cheek, his thumb pressed in a gentle warning against her throat. “I’m very displeased with you, omega.” Her breath hitched as he leaned forward to press his forehead to hers.

“I’m sorry for snooping. I won’t do it again,” she whispered. “I really didn’t look at anything else.”

“Hmm. I hope for your sake that’s true.” He peered down at her, his eyes flashing gold in the dark, and Rey met his searching gaze stubbornly. He released her with a growl. “You owe me a penance, Rey.”

“Okay. Alright, I can see that.” Breathing in deeply, she closed her eyes to center herself. His mild censure had awakened her in some way, and he wished he could stay and explore those feelings at their leisure.

Finn coughed loudly behind them, and Rey stepped back from him with a resigned sigh.

“Go, I’ll take care of Rose.”

“She’s gonna need -”

Rey rolled her eyes. “I know how heat works, Finn. Go.”

She met his gaze steadily as Kylo collected his coat and keys, and the two alphas shared a brief look of understanding.

“We good?” Kylo pressed.

Finn glanced to Rey and nodded. “Yeah, we’re good.”

 

 

Once she got the boys to take off for their midnight scouting, Rey settled herself on the stairwell so she could hear if Rose stirred as well as watch the door for Jacen to return. She held her hand out, eyes flashing golden, and practiced reaching through the air, like fingers trailing through a pond, feeling around until she gripped hard leather. She drew the Skywalker sword with its crackling red aura and blue-jeweled hilt and flipped it idly in her hand, gaining a feel for the weapon.

She had defended herself plenty of times with improvised weapons - lead pipes, sturdy branches, rusted radiator pipes - the specialized home was not a nice place to grow up, and Unkar Plutt wasn’t any better. Rey might wield the sword without grace or finesse, but that did not make her any less dangerous. The more she thought about Luke Skywalker and his ‘cure’, or Armitage Hux and his obsession with Anakin’s cloning research, the more determined she became to protect the ones she loved.

Humans made everything so complicated, and Rey had fallen into that habit as well, before she remembered who she really was. Chasing and playing with her mate had brought back a visceral, deep connection with her inner heart, and the simple, ancient wisdom of wolves everywhere. Rey had lived alone her whole human life, before Finn and then Kylo had come along and given her a place to belong. A pack.

Her pack.

Her mate.

Her family.

Pride, jealousy, bitterness - no personal pain was more important than loyalty. To the pack, her family and kin and mate, her devotion was simple and unfaltering. Omega she might be, but she was a fighter as well. Let their enemies underestimate her because of her designation. It would only make them easier to defeat.

The gem on the pommel of Kylo’s klaive glowed in her hand, blue like the faint light of an old television reflected on the walls.

“Don’t be afraid, Rey.”

She nearly jumped into her wolf form, dropping the sword and only narrowly missing her own toes. “Wha - who?”

“I said ‘don’t be afraid.’ I’m not here to hurt you. I just want to help.”

“But who - how?” She stared at the weapon, stuttering. “How is a sword talking?”

“I’m Anakin Skywalker, this is my sword, and I’m reaching out from the spirit world through my mystical connection with it. If you want a more detailed explanation, you’ll have to ask someone else, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention in Haunting 101.”

“Oh.” She picked up the sword again, gingerly, returning to her seat in the stairwell. He was definitely Kylo’s family with that acerbic wit. “How exactly are you going to help?”

“Kylo has some fancy tricks, but you’re wild-born. You have more power than any human shifter could dream of, even my sadly misguided children. And you’re going to need it.”

“How do you know that?” She hissed out in a loud whisper. “Do you know - can you see the future?”

“No. Not… entirely. Too much is in flux. But I know what Luke is planning.” He gave her a minute for that to sink in, before continuing. “Let me teach you. There’s no reason to fear. Luke’s ‘cure’ won’t work on you.”

Rey stared down at the sword, unconsciously chewing her lip. Before, when she’d had time to think clearly as her heat waned, she had wondered about that very same thing. In fact, something in her knew that such a thing wasn’t really possible - the inner beast could be blocked, perhaps, held back by an influx of strong chemicals, but it would always be there, waiting for the right call…

“You are that call, Rey. The heart of a beast calls to its like.”

“Couldn’t Ezra do it too, then?” She murmured curiously.

“Ezra is a beta. The gifts of the wild-born aren’t as strong with them. But an omega like you can call to anyone…”

She nodded, still giving the sword a sideways glance and praying Rose or Jacen didn’t catch her talking to an inanimate object on the stairway at two a.m. dressed in only Kylo’s flannel shirt.

“Fine. Show me.”

Chapter Text

“I am not putting that on.” Renata leveled a glower at Leia’s short, balding stylist after taking in the vibrant yellow slip dress he had just hung on the rack. Rey sighed, and the alpha rolled her eyes away from Arthur to Rey and Rose. “Explain to me why I cannot wear my dress uniform, same as I always have to this stupid thing?”

“You’re sort of single now,” Rose pointed out. Rey’s eyes widened and she gave her head a little shake of warning. Renata crossed her arms.

“And? I’m gay and over thirty, I think that entitles me to pants and a jacket, at least.”

“But my dear,” Arthur tried again. “With your perfect hourglass figure, a jacket would be an insult! Why would you wish to hide all these beautiful curves?”

It was true. Rey hadn’t even realized how well-proportioned the older woman’s petite frame was until Arthur had her standing on the pedestal in her bra and undershorts. Her hair was free of its standard braid, and flowed just past her shoulders, a pale wheat-blonde that contrasted against her warm dusky skin. Renata was a study in contrasts, beautiful but deadly, the platinum hair of an Icelandic goddess and the high cheekbones and bronze skin of a Native American warrior. All of which she seemed determined to hide from any casual observer. She was as baffled by her own beauty as a certain other alpha Rey knew well. No wonder they were friends.

“Let her try on what she’s comfortable with, please Arthur,” Rey begged. He was already doing them a huge favor just by helping them shop, she hated to beg for more concessions, but Renata had a right to wear what felt natural to her. “I’ve seen Leia wear suits plenty of times.”

“Mrs. Solo is not a newly-single young woman with a perfect waist…” He shrugged at Renata’s warning glare. “Fine, fine!”

He scurried off, and Kylo’s lieutenant turned to Rey. “Aren’t you going to try anything on, or is it just Tico and me suffering this torture?”

“No… I will, I just wanted to sort you guys out first,” she half-muttered. Really, she wasn’t looking forward to the experience at all, and she wanted to make sure she had the energy to devote to her packmates before she drained herself beyond capacity.

“Rey can’t focus on herself when there’s someone else who might need her,” Rose said with a fond smile. “She's like our mom, only younger than us.”

“Hmmm. It’s been a while since I was around a dominant omega.” She gave Rey a searching look. “Of course Kylo would find one to mate. That man is needy as all hell.”

Rose giggled, and even Rey gave an indulgent smile.

“I like to feel needed,” she said softly. Renata nodded sagely.

“Of course you do. You’re definitely a dominant. For fuck’s sake, Ben Solo…” She shook her head. “I don’t know how I missed it. I’ll bet fucking Leia recognized it after two seconds -” She broke off and turned as Arthur came back with a selection of suits and jackets, leaving Rey buzzing with questions while her attention was taken up by the possibilities on offer. “Is that a goddamn bolo tie ?”

“Er… I think it’s just a suggestion, you know, the turquoise pairs well with the white jacket -” Arthur looked mortified, and Renata grinned.

“Turquoise. My granny would be so proud.” Her eyes sparkled with some personal amusement as she examined the rest of the suit. “Fuck it. I’ll try this one. I’ve got a nice white hat that’ll match.”

“Ahem. A hat is really not necessary -”

“Do not tell me when and where I can wear a hat, little man. I come from Oklahoma. I was issued a cowboy hat and a concealed carry permit at birth.” Arthur’s narrow blue eyes practically glazed over in fear, and Rose hid her snickering in Rey’s shoulder while Renata went on, oblivious. “The gold lining is nice, too, reminds me of old Lando's capes -”

Rey and Rose suppressed their laughter until she went off to change, the cream-and-gold combo tucked over her arm, Arthur tutting after her numbly like he’d just been party to a violent train wreck. They barely managed to compose themselves when he came back around the corner with an assistant carrying piles of gowns over her arms.

“Now, Miss Tico… May I suggest jewel tones to start with? This emerald gown is an update on an old style by an up and coming designer I am quite fond of…” Arthur had a much more willing subject in Rose, who suffered the opposite of Renata’s problem, overwhelmed by the gorgeous dresses the short little man was delighted to suggest. She obediently followed his suggestions and tried on the proffered accessories until her arm snagged on a tag, and she nearly fainted at the neatly printed four digits.

“OH MY GOD! I shouldn’t even be touching this - I have permanent oil stains under my nails - Rey, no, I know you said not to worry about it, but…” She backed away from the dark blue confection of lace skirts and sparkling accents Arthur was holding, shaking her head. “Are those real diamonds? Please tell me they’re not -”

“Just try it on, Rose, please?” She pleaded, glancing over to where Renata stood patiently in her suit while Arthur’s assistant made adjustments. The alpha seemed to sense their distress, glancing over to give the dress and Rose a speculative look.

“If I have to behave, Tico, you’d better play along too. Blue is Finn’s favorite color, isn’t it?” Her voice was mild, but Rey caught the pleased smirk dancing in her eyes when Rose gave a little squeak at the reminder that she would be wearing her dress in attendance with her mate. She winked at Rey before casually continuing. “Amilyn has some sapphire jewelry that you could probably borrow to match.”

Rey silently mouthed a ‘thank you’ after Rose agreed to go back into the changing room, and she gave a surreptitious nod. Once the assistant was done with her measurements, she came to peruse the rack Arthur had set aside for Rey, her mouth still set in a faint smile.

“Nat, what do you mean by ‘dominant omega?’ I’ve never heard anyone called that before.” She caught the other woman’s eye briefly before she looked back down at the plastic-covered gowns, Anakin’s peculiar words from the night before repeated in her mind. An omega like you...

“It’s an archaic phrase. Most people don’t make the distinction anymore, but I was raised in less civilized parts...” She smiled ruefully, but Rey noted a glimmer of old pain in her green eyes. “It just means an omega with leadership qualities and more commanding pack dynamics… It’s not always black and white, people are different, but, there’s a few definite tells...”

She was giving Rey a sort of mischievous smile. “An omega dominant will not take orders from anyone but their own alpha. And they can even stare him down on occasion. So if I - or Finn, I guess - were to give you an alpha command it ought to shake right off like water from a duck’s back.”

“I have stared Kylo down before,” Rey said, not noticing the surprise on Renata’s face. “And… I’ve never had a problem with alpha commands.” She frowned slightly. “Finn stared me down once, but I deserved it, so…”

She looked up and gasped as the other woman’s green eyes flashed reflectively in the offset lighting, slit-pupiled and intense.

“Kneel, omega.”

A moment passed where Rey just stared and Renata stared back, and then the blonde woman gave a throaty laugh, nodding her concession. “Yeah, I thought so.”

“Did you just… try to command me?”

Kylo Ren’s lieutenant looked slightly injured. “You didn’t feel a damn thing, did you?”

Rey shrugged, shaking her head in a mix of curiosity and amusement. A dominant omega. She wondered if it were something to do with her origins, as Anakin seemed to imply, or just her natural stubbornness that flew in the face of traditional gender roles. “Not really, no.”

“Are you ready to begin, Miss Kenobi?” Arthur interrupted, deftly wedging his short, squat self between them to get at the clothing rack. “Hmmm. Mr. Ren has always favored dark colors, but perhaps a deep red…”

He selected a few that Rey agreed to try, but something caught her eyes just as she was turning, and she looked back at the end of the aisle, where a silvery gown with black lace and a floor-length train hung inconspicuously amid other light-colored dresses. Wedding dresses, she realized.

“Miss Kenobi?”

“Oh, right, sorry! Be right back!” She tore her eyes away, hurrying off towards the changing rooms. Renata and Rose watched her go, exchanging a puzzled frown. Then the dark-haired girl caught the aisle where Rey’s gaze had lingered, and she nudged Renata until she glanced over as well.

“Arthur,” Renata said softly to catch the stylist’s attention. “That dress there… Could you put it on hold for a while?”

His little eyes danced back and forth, between the dress and the changing rooms where Rey had disappeared, and then he gave a little trill of excitement and clapped his hands.

“Oh, yes, Ms. Argent. How soon do you think?”

“Soon,” Rose said. “Very soon, if Kylo gets his way.”

“Oh my. Well. Miss Kenobi has my card, of course.”

“Your discretion would be appreciated,” Renata said quickly, eyes glinting. “ Very appreciated.”

“Of course, of course.”




Rey had almost forgotten about the other half of their shopping day when they finally made it to the car with all three outfits neatly zipped up in their protective bags, the shop clerk insisting that he would settle up with Leia despite Rey and Renata’s vehement arguments.

“Now then, this bit is somewhat more discrete, so I will be handing you off to a friend, if you don’t mind,” Arthur informed them after giving instructions to the driver. “I assure you, she’s very trustworthy.”

“Umm…” Rey started, while Rose’s eyes widened in fear.

“Relax, ladies.” Renata said with a little bow. “You have your own personal alpha escort.”

“Er. Renata.” Rose’s cheeks were burning. “I don’t mean to be offensive, but um. I’m not sure it’s…”

“If you’re not comfortable with me seeing you, how are you going to strut down a stage in front a couple hundred thirsty shifters and assorted pairs of eyes?”

Rey took a deep breath, squeezed Rose’s hand in hers, and gave both Arthur and Renata her best warm smile. “Thank you, both of you. I’m sure your friend will be helpful, and we appreciate everything you’ve done for us, Arthur.”

He nodded, shutting the car door for them, and Rey heaved a sigh, closing her eyes and pinching the bridge of her nose against an oncoming headache.

“I have orders to send pictures,” Renata informed them, holding up a brand new iPhone. “Kylo bought me a pretty new gift so I can be part of the next generation.”

“Pictures?”

“Your nosey mates want veto power.”

“Oh. Right, sure. Okay.” Rose hid her face in Rey’s sleeve, and Renata quirked a brow in concern. “Just kill me now, okay?”

“Rose, you don’t have to do this -” She repeated for the ten thousandth time. Her sweet, stubborn best friend gripped her wrist and shook her head, still hiding her face.

“Finn said I could wear a mask. Some people do.”

“It’s usually very dark, anyway,” Renata reassured them. “You’ll get a number so there’s no names involved. Of course, everyone knows everyone in this community, but they do attempt to keep it anonymous at first.”

Rey shook her head. She didn’t feel much better than Rose about parading about in some slutty garbage for strangers to offer Kylo an ungodly amount of money to have sex with her, but a darkened room full of sexual tension and omegas displaying a lot of open skin? That sounded like a perfect place to sneak in one or two people with a handful of easily-concealed syringes filled with Skywalker's "cure."

“Who usually goes to this thing, Renata? Anyone we know?”

“Oh, sure. Lando and Elle are always there, of course. Sometimes Ahsoka shows up, but she’s very picky for a beta. Hux was always there, I suppose a few of his old frat buddies will still show up. Canady, the old bear. He’s gross. Tarkin’s boys, trust-fund brats. Watch out for them, they’re handsy.” She frowned thoughtfully. “Alphas can’t enter without a date, so that keeps away some of the younger, less-restrained crowd. Some of Leia’s people will be there, Kaydel probably if she can get a date. Larma D’acy, although I don’t know why she comes, unless it’s just to sit back and judge everyone else. I’ll be there, if I can get a date… Amilyn’s open to it, but...” She sighed. “I hope they don’t, but it’s possible Innara and Ishida will come and I don’t want to cause a scene. I might just drag Jacen along. Confuse everyone so they leave me the fuck alone.”

“Oh, Nat… I’m sorry -” Rose finally peeked out from hiding her face, her concern overriding her social discomfort. “We’ll keep her away from you, won’t we, Rey?”

“Yes.” She met Renata’s conflicted gaze. “Regardless of who’s at fault, she’s been an absolute cunt, and we don’t have time for drama with all the other threats.”

“Thank you,” the alpha replied rather hoarsely. She turned her head to look out the window, but Rey could scent the saltiness of tears in the air. “We’re here.”

Absolutely not!

Everything is covered. And red’s your favorite color.

I said no!!!!!

Rey looked at the selection of pictures on her phone, trying to decide which to send next. They had simply tried on everything and taken pictures as quickly as possible, both Rey and Rose eager to get out of the ensembles. Now they were simply sitting on the bench in the changing room, looking through the pictures Renata had taken from her phone and Rey’s and sending them to the boys. So far the best response they’d gotten was a ‘maybe’ from Finn.

Renata rolled her eyes at the entire situation, only commenting to complain about the things Innara wore, and the even more risque get-ups she’d seen in the past.

“Oh, come on. These are all perfectly fine. Like you said, everything’s covered!” She groaned as Rey showed her Kylo’s most recent response. “Hey, Lyra! Do you have any of those see-through robes? Like with the feathers or whatever?”

Arthur’s friend chuckled, ducking back in to check on them. “No dice with the mates?”

“Not really.”

“Eh, well. Alphas are alphas. Present company excluded, obviously.” She winked at Renata. “I’ll be right back.”

Of course, then they had to put the things back on, along with the sheer chiffon and lace cover-ups that did absolutely nothing but get in the way of the ridiculous heels Lyra had insisted on. Rey was almost certain she was going to break her ankle just practicing walking in the things, but at least they were easy to slip off if anything happened. 

 

By the time Kylo, and Finn, were satisfied with their choices, it was growing dark outside and Renata herded them into the car like a mother hen.

“I don’t like this neighborhood, especially after dark,” she explained. “Also I’m starving.”

“Ugh, I’m too tired to be hungry,” Rose complained. Renata cast her green eyes on Rey with a grin, knowing she was always ready to eat.

“What do you think, little one?”

“Home,” Rey said firmly. “Pajamas and pizza and a movie.”

“You’re staying,” Rose interjected with a glare at Renata. “Don’t leave us alone with our jealous mates, please. I’m too tired to perform and too tired to resist.”

“Oh, don’t tell me Finn’s that kind of alpha -”

“You don’t know him that way, Rey,” Rose shook her head. “Besides you’re not… I mean, no offense, but you’re not very… omega.”

“I’m not offended. Renata said the same thing earlier.” She frowned. “But, Rose… Just because you’re his mate doesn’t mean you have to do everything he wants at all times… If that’s how Finn’s treating you, I’ll tear him apart, I swear -”

“Nonono… Please let’s not argue,” Rose begged. “I’m fine, it’s okay, I like it. Finn’s not taking advantage of me, believe me.”

Rey frowned, noting Renata’s pensive gaze as Rose tugged on her arm, begging her to relax and not bring anything up with Finn.

“Kylo doesn’t command you?” She asked finally, in a strangely quiet voice.

“What do you mean? I mean he… I mostly do what he wants, but…” She felt her cheeks flush, not quite sure she was ready to give out the details of their sex life to Rose and Renata.

“Yeah, but he commands you, right? ‘Turn around, omega,’ ‘Lie down, omega,’ ‘on your knees,’ - you know?” Rose explained. “You just do what they want unless they smell fear or pain and back off… The decent ones anyway.”

Rey flushed, missing the dark look Renata was giving Rose, promising a world of hurt for whatever alpha had been indecent. “Well... he says those things, yes. And I do what he asks, most of the time, unless he’s being a prick about it, but it’s not… He doesn’t command me, like alpha commands. That would just piss me off.”

Rose gaped. Renata shook her head, a faint smirk on her pale lips. Rey glanced between them in confusion. “What?”

“You’re not serious… He doesn’t use his commands? Like at all?” Rose was giving her an incredulous look as she pursed her lips in a frown. “ He asks?

“I mean… sometimes in my heat when I get… anxious or panicky, he breaks out the alpha voice and stares me down, but not just like… regular sex.” She blinked up at them both, trying not to imagine the other details of their heat sex and what her friends would make of them. “Is that not… Not normal?”

“No, Rey. Most omegas bend easily to our will. That’s the whole point. It's a chain of command - the alpha needs complete obedience to protect, and the rest of the pack will follow the omega -"

“It’s not just that,” Rose flushed as she glanced over to Renata and back, staring into her lap. “We… most people I know, anyway, go into this sort of submissive trance… Where you just kind of… let go. You don’t have to think, you just - it’s nice, you know -”

“Oh. Yes.” Rey shook herself before she could fall into the memory of her first heat, when she’d been so scared and reluctant and stubborn, but needing that moment of letting go, and how it felt when Kylo finally managed to get her there. Her cheeks were probably scarlet, and the inside of the car was suddenly far too confined.

“Yeah,” she coughed. “Um. We do that, but… It’s hard for me. I don’t - I don’t submit easily. It’s complicated. But Kylo always knows how to - You know what? Can we just not talk about this?”

“Yes, please,” Rose echoed.

“Absolutely.” Renata flashed her a tight smile, looking distinctly restless as she fished through her pockets for a packet of nicotine gum and shoved a piece in her mouth. “I apologize if I’ve made either of you girls uncomfortable. I have no interest in your private lives, I’m just old and far less easily embarrassed.”

She chewed her gum for a minute while Rey rolled down the window slightly and Rose pulled a bottle of scented lotion from her purse, all three of them purposely seeking relief from any stray scents in the small space.

“So ah… Rey. Since you had such a nice chat with Her Highness, I think it’s time you asked about Han.” She pulled a pair of sunglasses from her pocket, hiding her eyes despite the encroaching night. “If you want answers to all the questions I’m sure you’re dying to ask about willful and independent omegas - ask the woman who was mated to one for twenty-some years. You never quite knew who was in charge with them. Or if they were even on the same page.”

“Oh. ” Of course, that’s what they’d all been telling her, hadn’t they? Kylo in his roundabout way, talking about his father. Leia at their rather combative lunch. Anakin’s ghost when he offered to teach her the powers of the wild-born. Only Renata had given it specific wording, something from her own painful childhood, an old title that had fallen out of use.

“She’s right,” Rose said suddenly, giving Rey an appraising look. “We assume Kylo’s in charge because he’s the alpha, but… Rey really is our den mother,” she repeated with a final shrug. “I guess it makes sense that she’s not as submissive. You know what they say about a mother and her cubs.”

“A female protecting her family is by far the most dangerous type of predator to come across in the wild,” Renata agreed. “I’ve encountered quite a few. Even rabbits can be vicious, violent creatures.” She was giving Rey a thoughtful look, the same quiet intensity from before that had startled her. “There’s -”

They were cut off suddenly by the violent jerking of the small limo, wheels screeching against pavement amid shrieks of panic. Rey had a single moment to react, sinking down into her seat away from the door and windows, while Renata leapt forward, flinging her body protectively over the other two, before the crash of metal and sickening thud of bodies colliding with hard surfaces filled her ears, and the interior lights flickered out, engulfing them all in darkness.

 

Chapter Text

“Well, firstly, we’re gonna need reinforcements.” Kylo closed the tabs he had open about omegas and pulled up schematics from the convention center on his tablet, spinning the screen so Finn and the others could see it too. “This is the first floor, where the main event will be. It’ll mostly be booths and vendors and shit -”

“I know, I’ve been there. It’s chaos. Fun chaos, usually.” Lando frowned. “How did you even get these maps?”

“It’s amazing what people will tell you over the phone if you know how to ask,” Kylo grinned. “And it’s ridiculous how many places use ‘password1’ or the name of their company. Ninety percent of what I do is just knowing who to call.”

“Damn, man. That’s terrifying.” Kylo shrugged, as Finn shook his head. “Okay, so the first day is just the main floor and these side rooms for panels -”

“Ahsoka and Holdo’s panel will probably draw the biggest crowd.” Elle cut in smoothly. “I’ve already talked to them both, I think we can trust they’ll keep their territory safe. Renata will be at the door, just in case.” Finn nodded and she continued. “Then of course, there’s the concert after hours -”

“Yeah, The Resistance, Rose loves them. We’ll be there for that, I’m sure they’ve got their own security as well.” He sighed, idly peeling the label from his beer. “No offense, guys, but look - we have no idea what we’re up against here. We know about the skin vax, but what if they just gas the whole place? What… what are the signs? Should we be trying to get oxygen masks or… I mean… I don’t know. We need more information.”

“We know where to get it.” Kylo sighed. He shared a somber look with Lando. “I know, anyway. Right now, let’s focus on making sure we’ve got people on the floor at every crucial event. As for oxygen masks...” He gestured where the map gave a detailed, color-coded engineering plan. “Do you think Rose could rig up some way to alert us if anything’s amiss? She’s small enough to get in and out through a cracked door without drawing too much attention -”

“It would be quite simple to repurpose an air quality inspector and fit it over one of these exit vents,” Elle pursed her glittery golden lips thoughtfully. Kylo couldn’t help but notice they matched the dark gold acrylic nails she’d had redone after breaking into totem form to defend Rey. She could be a bit over the top, but he knew underneath the glitter and false eyelashes, Lando’s mate had a shiny steel spine, honed from years of being marginalized as a transgendered, mixed-race omega... and holding down rough bar crowds full of shifters in the heart of San Francisco. “I doubt anyone will notice a stray cat wandering around the staff exits, but I can stay close and make sure she gets in and out safely.”

“Yeah. I’ll bet she can do it.” Finn smiled with pride, confident in his brilliant and capable omega. “And I appreciate you looking out for her.” Elle gave him a brief smile. “Maybe we can hide extra oxygen masks in the booths somehow?”

“I’m sure I can talk a few vendors into that,” Lando said easily. He tilted his head towards Kylo, dark eyes searching. “What exactly are we looking for besides psychos with needles and mysterious fumes?”

“Luke Skywalker,” Kylo said firmly, eyes widening at Lando’s grunt of surprise. “I have a feeling he’ll want to see the results of his work first-hand. He has a couple flunkies that I’d assume are still working with him, although I don’t know for sure - it’s been three years since we killed Snoke.”

“It’s been even longer since I’ve seen Luke,” Lando mused. “I still can’t believe he’s doing this. We were never on good terms after I… Well, I did some things I’m not proud of, but Han and Leia were gracious enough to forgive me. Luke though….”

Kylo pulled up pictures of the most prominent scientists in Luke’s labs, a white-haired man he remembered from occasional family gatherings, Wedge Antilles, and a younger, red-haired woman he’d never personally met but knew from correspondence.

“Wedge has been Luke’s best friend since high school,” he explained. “And Mara Jade was sharing his bed when I last heard from him. Wedge is a beta, a wolf like Luke, but Mara’s a fox. Ahsoka and Renata have been on her tail half a dozen times, but she’s good at disappearing.”

“Ah, Mara Jade…” Lando’s smile and tone were faintly obscene, and Elle cast him a disgusted look. “Such a beautiful woman -”

“Only if you’re speaking of her looks,” his mate interrupted sharply. “Under the skin she’s a cold-hearted, snobby little whore.”

Finn and Kylo shared a look, both surprised at Elle’s vicious words.

“You’ve met her?” Kylo asked.

“Several times,” Lando confirmed.

“Unfortunately,” Elle added. “She was Anakin’s bodyguard when he was working for the Russians, then she took up with Luke. Leia hated it.”

“So that’s why he left the pack,” Kylo said thoughtfully. “Leia always said it was just a difference of opinions…”

“Leia?”

He sighed at Lando’s sharp look. “My mother. Whatever.”

“You sound like a moody teenager,” Elle quipped. “She’s not that bad.”

“She arranged to have us hunted by Hellhounds!” Kylo fumed. “And deliberately misled Jacen to think I supported Hux’s necromancy -”

“It was just one Hellhound,” Finn pointed out, wincing as his pack leader turned his wrath-filled gaze towards him.

“Are you on her side now?”

“Ben,” Lando said coolly, laying a hand on the younger man’s arm. “Relax. We’re all on the same side now.”

“My mother is not on our side. You know she’s protecting Luke!”

“I do believe we are losing track of this conversation -” Elle began, but the sound of rapid, panicked knocking on the back door cut her off.

Kylo loped around the corner, one step ahead of Finn, but as soon as he reached the outside door, he caught sight of who it was through the glass and stepped back. Finn opened it, throwing his arms wide to take in a naked, trembling and scuffed up Rose. Blood and grit stained her face and trails of crumbled asphalt and dirt streaked her body, her hair a wild mess. She sobbed into Finn’s shoulder, nimble fingers digging in with frantic strength.

“Rose - what - What happened?” Finn’s hands swiped over her body, checking for injuries before he hugged her close, and she buried her face in his shoulder to cry. “Shhh… It’s okay, babe, you’re safe, I’ve got you…”

Without a word, Elle removed her long embroidered jacket and draped it over the sobbing woman’s shoulders, as Finn did his best to stroke her hair and soothe her enough to talk. Her eyes found Kylo’s over Finn’s broad shoulder.

“The limo turned over -” She gasped. “Some shifter gang shot the driver. Northerners - seals or orca or something. Rey and Nat -”

Kylo was already moving, his focus suddenly singled down in a narrow, color-limited canine view. Lando was right behind him, Finn joining them as they ran to his sleek Hyundai parked outside on the street.

“Finn, you should stay with Rose,” Kylo said almost absently. But the werecat shook his head.

“She told me to go with you. Demanded it, actually.” He shrugged, clearly unhappy at leaving even as he climbed into the passenger seat. Lando leaned forward from behind them.

“Elle will take care of her. You know how fast the glitter flies when she’s on the warpath.” He reassured Finn. “Besides, I have a feeling we’re gonna need all the backup we can get.”

“Did she tell you where we’re going?” Kylo hissed. Finn nodded.

“It’s not far.”



Rey swung the silver-etched klaive in a controlled twirl, adjusting her grip as she became more accustomed to the weight. Renata’s solid weight brushed against her back, her deadly gaze and trusted handgun focused on the leader of their ambushers.

“I shoot to kill,” the alpha growled, her voice filled with gravel. “This is the only warning you’ll get.”

There were five of them, and they must have gotten bad information, because they seemed to think this gave them the upper hand. Rey grimly set her sights on the two targets before her, trusting Renata to close with the leader if they refused to back down. She shifted her eyes to make out more detail in the shadow of the streetlights. They were some sort of seafaring pack, covered in ritual tattoos with bone jewelry piercing septums and lips and other places that looked extremely painful. One was armed with a silver-edged knife, the other a kind of club spiked with shark teeth. Seriously, only in California would these cretins be wandering around unnoticed in public.

She was sure the appearance was supposed to be intimidating, the obvious conclusion being these were shapeshifters with little regard for human society or conventional norms. But Rey grew up with the roughest of orphaned creatures, and had plenty of experience later with the worthless creeps who lurked around Unkar’s getting drunk and handsy. She wasn’t afraid, and from Renata’s scent, she detected only intense focus with a dangerous edge of cold fury.

“Fire at your leisure, kitten,” she heard the leader taunt. “We have thick hide -”

The werecat had planted her feet, her body bracing slightly against Rey’s the moment the man began speaking. She fired before he had time to register her movements, and fell to the ground already expired. Rey didn’t dare turn to look, but she heard his mates cursing and shouting, and smelled the acrid smoke of burned fat.

“No one has a thick enough hide for incendiaries to the skull,” the assassin drawled, her accent slipping out. “I dunno who hired y’all for this job, but someone didn’t do the assigned homework. Killing people is what I do for a living. Used to do. Anyway, I’m damned good at it.”

Despite her disinterested tone, Rey had spent enough time around Renata in the last few weeks to garner a few grisly details about her experience and training. The alpha’s words were not a brag, they were a warning and a statement of fact. She was being generous, giving them time to run away after the loss of their leader, and anyone with any sense would have. Rey eyed her opponents in the few spare moments while Renata was speaking, hoping they would take the out. She was not in the least surprised when another shot rang out from behind her, although she noted the youngster with the knife visibly flinched.

“What the fu -” Another voice was quickly silenced by a second gunshot, followed by cursing. Either he’d moved, or Renata was purposely aiming to main, possibly uncomfortable with slaughtering a third person in a single day. Rey sensed her shifting focus, but the two before her had begun to move already, the larger man with the club and spiked purple mohawk launching himself in an attempt to knock her to the ground.

She side-stepped quickly, leaving him stumbling directly into Renata’s claws, and closed with the knife-wielder. This close, she could smell the ocean on the young man, a teenager, really. Rey could tell from his scent he had just recently presented.

Stand down, omega .”

She grinned, bringing the Skywalker klaive down to grind against his knife. Cocky little bastard, aren’t you?

He blinked at her, eyes on the place where their weapons met just above of his head, lips working as he tried to figure out why his infallible alpha command hadn’t worked. She took advantage of his surprise to bring her knee directly into his groin and he howled, falling back to clutch his jewels pathetically.

“Rey!” Renata’s voice demanded her attention, and she turned just in time to parry a heavy over-hand blow from the mohawked man, her klaive slicing halfway through his weapon before either of them could pull away. With a gleeful shout, he gave a hard yank, lifting Rey up as she clung to the sword and flinging her and her weapon to the side.

She barely had time to register what happened before the pavement rose up to meet her face, and another gunshot rang out over her head. For a moment, Rey lie where she was, feeling her body, running a hand over the side of her head where a bruise was rapidly forming just above her right eye. Anakin’s sword was still in her hand, buried in the shark-tooth club, and she climbed to her feet to try and separate them, shoving her foot against the cured wood and pulling with all her strength.

“NOT ON MY WATCH YOU GAP-TOOTHED SEA MONSTERS!”

Renata’s voice was loud in her ear as the alpha crashed into her, knocking Rey back to the ground and sending her recovered weapon flying from her grasp. Ears ringing with the impact, she stilled as the other woman’s body went limp against her, a low, agonized gasp breaking from her lips.

Her instincts kicked in, eyes and nose and ears compiling the scene, and Rey rose, trembling only slightly, with Renata’s gun clenched in both hands. She was focused on the mohawked vermin and his scrappy teenage mate, but the image of Kylo’s lieutenant, limp and motionless with a tiny syringe protruding from her neck seared itself into her mind’s eye. The alpha’s compact body trembled in pain, and Rey couldn’t imagine the amount of hurt it would take to get through to Renata’s damaged senses.

She could smell actual fear in Renata’s scent, and it drove her fury as she fired without hesitation, twice to stop the burly man, once again at the younger one. My pack. She was not as a good a shot, the gun recoiled more than she expected, and she wasn’t sure if either opponent was actually down for good, but they were both down and she could smell their burning flesh and the swelling scent of fear and pain. Good. Suffer, you vile pieces of garbage!

Panting, sobbing and exhausted, Rey dropped to the pavement at Renata’s side, gently brushing sweaty, pale strands of hair from her proud features as she felt for a pulse.

“Please - please be okay,” she begged.

Her pulse was too fast, but at least it was there, and she sagged in relief. Renata was struggling, unconscious but twitching, whimpering and tossing her head. Her scent flickered wildly - fear and pain and rage pouring out in waves - and Rey’s fingers found the hateful little needle and yanked it away. She almost threw it down the ditch beside the road, before she thought better of it. Kylo was a student of Luke’s at one point. Maybe… maybe he could come up with an antidote, if he had the poison.

Or maybe… She cast around, looking for the Skywalker klaive, recalling Anakin’s lesson last night. The beast is never really gone… That’s impossible. You just need to wake it up…

Renata groaned, a low, anguished sound, and Rey found her hand and grasped it between both of hers.

“You’re going to be okay,” she whispered, pressing her forehead to the lifeless curl of the werecat’s calloused fingers. “I believe that.”

“You really are naive, aren’t you?”

Fear curled inside her at the voice, her spine straightening instinctively as she looked up to find the source.

Luke Skywalker stood down the road, beside the crunched door of the ambushers’ SUV. He was covered in a hooded cloak, long and heavy enough to cover the unclothed body beneath. She could sense he had just shifted, and she scowled, raking her gaze over his worn face as he shrugged off his hood.

“I thought you’d have ‘cured’ yourself, since you hate our existence so much,” she snarled. “Or are you as much of a hypocrite as your sister?”

“Careful, Rey. That’s no way to talk about your employer.” He prowled closer, halting at the sound of an engine roaring up from behind her. His gray-blue eyes, so different from his sister and nephew, narrowed sharply. “I thought we’d have more time to talk. I am sorry about thi-”

Rey stood, the Skywalker klaive coming to her call as she held out her hand instinctively towards it. She took a step, positioning herself in front of Renata, the silver of the blade glinting brightly in the highway lights.

“What are you doing here? What purpose can there be in forcing your poison on an unwilling victim?” She did her best to banish the tears in her eyes, but her voice trembled with emotion. It was awful - truly awful, what he had done to her friend, her packmate, her sister - and Rey’s heart filled with righteous fury as she advanced on him. “Answer me!”

Luke Skywalker backed away, a tiny wave of fear-scent reaching her from him. He pulled his hood up, a mirthless smile twisting beneath his scruffy beard.

“A wild-born omega. Truly exquisite.” He gave a regretful sigh. “If only Leia knew, if I had gotten to you first...”

“What -” She glared indignantly. What would he have done if Leia turned her over to him before she met Kylo? She felt nausea rising at the thought. “No, I don’t want to know. You’re a fool and a coward -”

“You have no idea, Rey. You think Ben is the right one here? You don’t know half of what I know. What he’s done!” He glanced behind her, at the twitching, whimpering form of Renata. “She deserves every ounce of suffering! Do you know how many people she’s killed? All the blood on their hands - your precious alphas ! You think they’re strong? They’re rabid beasts! Give them a single second of disobedience and they’ll have your throat so fast you won’t even have time to apologize!”

“I’ve disobeyed Kylo plenty of times,” she shook her head in frustration. “Look at me! I’m the one defending Renata with your father s weapon! And your stupid ‘cure’ isn’t permanent! Anakin showed me, I can reverse it. You can suppress the beast within, but you can’t banish it entirely!”

Those wild gray eyes widened, and Rey caught the look of surprise that was quickly buried in a spiteful snarl.

“You’ve sold yourself to the first alpha you met! You could have been so much more - just like Anakin!” Rey could hear the screech of tires and distant sirens coming closer, as Luke turned away with a haggard frown. “Instead you’re a slave, just like him. No wonder he’s helping you.”

He turned his back, and there was a shimmer in the air like a pocket of heat radiating from the pavement, then Luke disappeared, similar to the way Kylo’s klaive disappeared when banished to the aether. Rey stared at the space even after all traces of the man were gone, a vicious snarl curling her lips.

“Rey! Rey, are you alright?” She turned just as Kylo reached her, stumbling into his arms and soaking in the comfort of his warmth, his scent, the soothing presence of her alpha. He was as much hers as she was his, regardless of Luke’s attempt to twist the complicated give and take of the omega-alpha bond.

“You’re bleeding!” Kylo’s hands gently probed her forehead, above her eye, and another long scrape across her upper arm that she hadn’t even noticed.

“I’m alright,” she said firmly, but she let him keep his hold on her hand as they walked back to where Finn and Lando knelt beside Renata. Finn’s eyes searched hers, frantic and shocked.

“What happened?”

Rey sniffed, tears reaching her eyes again. “We were ambushed. They… they meant to hit me with it.” She reached in her pocket, withdrawing the syringe and holding it out to Kylo. He took it, snapping the needle off for safety, fury darkening his hawkish features.

They all looked down to where Renata jerked and hissed in pain, sweat beading across her light bronze skin. Finn reached out to lift her, but Kylo stepped forward quickly after giving Rey’s hand a brief, reassuring squeeze.

“I’ll take her, Finn.”

“Ben?” Lando stood at the driver’s side, eyebrows raised in inquiry. With a slight grimace of disgust, Kylo nodded.

“You know where to go,” he said cryptically. Apparently this meant something to Lando, who slid in behind the wheel as Kylo carefully maneuvered himself and his burden into the backseat, Rey joining him on the other side.

Finn was left to take the passenger seat, eyeing the wreckage and fallen bodies on the highway.

“Uhh… Are we just gonna…?” He gestured, encompassing the whole scene, and Lando shrugged.

“Don’t worry about it, kid. The authorities will figure it out.” He backed the car up, turning them around. “And when they do, this is the last place any of us want to be,” he added with a wink.

Chapter Text

 

“She’s stable and awake.”

Rey leapt up from where she had been lying, resting her head in Kylo’s lap for the past two hours while they waited in anxious silence for Dr. Holdo and her staff to assess Renata. The other woman gave Rey a tired, faint smile, but her expression was pained, and Rey could scent her anxiety and sorrow.

“Amilyn?” Leia was on her feet, too, crossing the small waiting area to reach out to her friend, guiding her gently to a chair. “Just tell us, bad news first.”

Kylo came to stand behind Rey, quietly taking her hand and pulling her into his embrace and resting his chin over her shoulder. He had been mostly silent during their long wait, sipping the coffee Leia brought and stroking Rey’s hair like she was a cat curled up in his lap, but she knew he was worried. Tension filled his every action, his expression tight and his hands trembled despite his death-grip on his emotions.

Amilyn Holdo’s wide blue eyes took them in, along with Leia and Lando beside them, and she swallowed, squeezing Leia’s hand.

“I don’t even know where to start. The… injection... was meant to target canines so the good news is, her bloodwork came back normal. She’s still a lynx and an alpha by blood, but… Skywalker’s formula also contains a dangerous dose of suppressants and beta-blockers.” She glanced from Leia to Rey, but her gaze seemed to linger on Kylo, whose grip was starting to become uncomfortable as he nodded in understanding.

“Which suppressants? What kind of beta-blockers?” Kylo demanded immediately, before the weary omega could explain just what kind of damage those drugs might have done. She frowned at him, one hand coming up to rub her temple.

“Canine suppressants - Lupex, Romulin -” Kylo gave a horrified start, letting go of Rey to turn around, and Rey had to fight to concentrate against the flood of rage pouring off of him. Amilyn looked equally uncomfortable at the onslaught of alpha distress, and she went to sit beside her, hoping to be a more calming presence than Kylo Ren and his mother, who radiated a near-equal but slightly better-controlled fury.

“I’m sorry, what does… Why would canine suppressants hurt her? And what’s a beta-blocker?”

“Cats have a very delicate immune system,” the doctor in her seemed to take over as she explained, her focus shifted to Rey. “Wolves, on the other hand require a much stronger, broad-spectrum hormone suppressant. Even an accidental slip can render a more delicate shifter sterile, or cause a harmful elevation in white blood cells, high fevers can leave the patient blind or deaf, it can permanently disrupt the heat/rut mechanism… I’ve seen patients stuck on sedatives for life, in a permanent heat or chemically castrated… There’s no way to tell, really until a hormone reaction is triggered….”

“Beta-blockers lower blood pressure and disrupt the fight-or-flight mechanism,” Kylo explained in a low voice, still facing the wall. “For an alpha, too much can be deadly, our systems are geared to fight so we have naturally higher adrenaline - we need it, actually - otherwise -”

“Disrupts higher brain functions,” Leia supplied. “Dementia, depression, memory loss…” She waved a hand irritably at her friend and son, giving her similar surprised looks. “We are in the Breha Organa Center for Polymorphic Research . Do you think I just gave thirty million dollars to build a hospital without at least attending the free lectures?”

“You said she’s awake?” Kylo looked to Dr. Holdo again, who nodded. “Does she know -?”

“Kylo, it’s Renata. Of course she knows.” The omega gave a long-suffering sigh. “She’s been asking for you. Rey, too, and Rose. I don’t think she’ll believe you’re both safe until she gets her eyes on you.”

 

Rey’s eyes followed Kylo into the room, but she stayed for a moment, sensing Amilyn might need more than just a brief moment of hand-holding. Lando seemed to understand too, stepping in to suggest Leia help him acquire more coffee and give Kylo a moment alone with his lieutenant.

Once the waiting room was free of alphas, Rey took Dr. Holdo’s hand again, drawing her attention so she could look - really look - at the well of emotions swimming in her tired eyes.

“Are you okay, Doctor?”

“Please call me Amilyn.” She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose between long, shaky fingers. “I’m alright, Rey. It’s… It’s difficult to see her like this, but I’m not sure… I just want to comfort her. Just stupid omega instincts, I know, but...”

Rey nodded, glad she had taken the time to check. Of course, Renata wasn’t her mate , but they were living together and single and they’d had that connection before. Anyone would struggle with such an awkward situation, and with all the biology pushing her to help, to comfort, to tend…

“I think it would be okay for you to hold her.” She smiled at the widening of the older woman’s eyes. “I know you’re worried about boundaries, but… It’s not like it can go anywhere dangerous in a hospital. And it’s Nat - you’ll know if she doesn’t want it.”

Holdo gave her a careful, measuring look. “How old are you?”

“Twenty,” Rey grinned at her startled response. “But I’m wild-born so… I’ve always been a bit wise for my age.”

“Hmm. I don’t suppose you’d be interested in any research projects? There’s not a lot of data on wild-born -” She shook herself, still smiled, and got to her feet. “Now’s not the time. Just promise me you’ll think about it, please?”

Rey shrugged. “Kylo won’t like it.”

“Ahhh… Will he stop you?” Those blue eyes danced with a hint of amusement, and Rey grinned.

“Of course not!”


“You brought coffee!” Nat’s eyes sparkled as Kylo set the venti disposable cup on the little tray over her bed, finding a space for it amid print-outs of the convention center’s engineering rooms and her battered, combat-shielded old laptop.

“I didn’t know you still had that thing,” he smirked at the computer. “Are you still using AOL, too?”

“Shut it, you,” Rey grinned as she shut the door behind them, giving Renata a wink. “I set it up for her. Well, Rose and I set it up, I’m not great with hardware, especially laptops, but… It’s as up-to-date as we could make it.”

“So… circa 2008 instead of 1998?” Kylo quipped, flopping down on the visitor’s couch. Rey glanced down at how he took up more than half the small piece of furniture, and promptly seated herself on his lap. He snaked one arm around her waist immediately and Renata gave them a sideways glare.

“You kids better keep it PG. I’m not allowed to even think about sex for another week.” She sighed, picking up the coffee and inhaling greedily. “Ahhh… black like my villainous, dark heart…”

“So,” Kylo gestured at the table. “Been busy have you?”

“What the fuck else am I supposed to do? You know I don’t sit still well.” She frowned, shifting through the papers on her table. “They won’t let me out to smoke or give me my gum, either. And I’m not sticking on one of those God-awful patches. Here -”

She held out a color-coded map of the main floor, pointing at little red ‘x’s she’d marked here and there. Kylo held it so Rey could see it too.

“I marked the places I thought were most suspect. Blind corners, booths with a lot of traffic, electrical hubs.” She sipped her coffee with a hum of pleasure as they looked over her work. “Rey, what do you think about the wifi setup? It’s not like they can spread this shit via the internet, but the heating system and electric are both controlled by remote access.”

“I…” Rey frowned. “I actually have no idea what kind of setup they have, but I’ll bring it up to Elle. A place like the Moscone ought to have everything important on a separate, secure server, but…”

“You never know.” Kylo pressed his lips into a grim line. “I’ve seen some truly surprising places still using 'password1.'”

“Yeah, me too.”

Renata nodded absently, suddenly finding something fascinating behind the screen of her computer, and Kylo gave Rey a questioning look. She sighed, eyes rolling.

“Is there something you don’t want to tell us?” She tried to avoid sounding patronizing, she really did, but alphas and their ridiculous, juvenile egos…

“It’s not that I don’t want to tell you,” Nat snapped. “I just don’t want anyone to overreact.”

Now it was Rey’s turn to quirk an eyebrow at Kylo, but he only gave a slight shake of his head, as clueless as was. Renata closed her laptop and gave them both a hard stare.

“I promise I won’t overreact,” Rey said soothingly. Nat gave Kylo a look, and he sighed. Rey adjusted herself so she was more firmly resting her weight on his lap, holding him down as much as possible.

“Just don’t go all Skywalker on me, please?” She held his eyes for a moment before glancing up at the door, and then down to where her new phone sat amidst her table of research. “See… I’ve been talking to Ishida.”

“Okay,” Rey said, feeling Kylo’s hand tighten around her waist. She sensed that wasn’t all, and just wanted Renata to get on with it, but she covered his hand with her own hoping to soothe against whatever was coming with her touch. “And…?”

“He’s coming to see me. This afternoon.” She sighed, tugging at the sloppy platinum braid that hung over her shoulder. “Things aren’t… working out. With him and Innara.”

Rey had been a fool to ever think she could hold Kylo Ren down, even with all her weight across his lap. He lifted her like she weighed no more than a feather, unceremoniously dumping her into the couch as he lurched to his feet, radiating anger and arrogance.

“No! Absolutely not!” Kylo stormed to the door, bracing himself against it as if he planned to lurk there all day, preventing entry to anyone he deemed unworthy. Namely, ex-mates who had the audacity to rethink their choices.

“It’s not your decision, Kylo!” Renata’s voice was barely less than a shout, and her hands clenched into fists around the edges of the table. “I will talk to whoever I please!”

“We both know what you’re thinking! Do you really expect me to believe you brought this up just so you two could talk ?” He stepped closer, leaning over the smaller alpha, his towering bulk making her appear more frail and weak than she already was. “I am not going to let that - that traitorous coward - come crawling back to us -”

“Kylo!” Rey had reclaimed her feet, and she reached across Renata’s bed without a second thought, the slap of her hand on his cheek shockingly loud in the small hospital room.

Both alphas gave her similar looks of pure shock, but Rey refused to grant them even a moment to process, shoving herself between her angry mate and his lieutenant, meeting Kylo stare for stare.

“How could you? She’s sick! She almost died , and we don’t even know what will come of your uncle’s stupid ‘cure!’” She was practically spitting in his face. “Ishida didn’t betray us - he made a choice in a complicated situation that would honestly be difficult for anyone! There’s nothing traitorous about being forced to choose between two people you love, and just because he picked the one who isn’t your best friend, doesn’t mean you have any right to judge him for it!”

“Rey, you don’t understand - she wants us to let him back into our pack -”

“I know that, you idiot! But it’s not a dictatorship! We’re not at war - this is a personal matter, and at the very least, everyone should get a vote -”

He whirled away from her, turning to slam his fist into the wall, then yanked open the door, nearly flinging it off of its hinges, and stormed out of the room. Something crashed down the hall, and Rey and Renata both shared a wince.

She leaned back, meeting the other woman’s bemused gaze. “A vote, hmm?”

Rey shrugged. “It only seems fair. It’s not like he did anything violent or went and spread lies to our enemies.”

Renata shook her head, a slight smile touching her pale mouth. “The den mother has spoken.”

“We're not boyscouts," Rey rolled her eyes. "Do you think he’s coming back?”

“What do you think?”

“He’ll come back.” Rey sighed. “I just hope he’s ready to apologize when he does.”

Renata smirked, patting her hand where it rested on the side of the bed reassuringly. “Don’t worry, honey. That was surprisingly restrained for a Kylo meltdown.”

“That was restrained ?”

Chapter Text

She was the last person he wanted to see right then, so of course his mother had to be the one to find him. Not even saying anything, just standing there and watching her son take out his aggression on a faulty vending machine. Judging , as his father called it. Leia doesn’t even have to say anything, you can smell the judgment a mile away.

When he’d succeeded in putting his foot through the plastic panel on the front, and blown the thing’s electricity, he finally stopped, turning to regard her with his chest heaving from exertion.

“Oh, don’t mind me. By all means, continue.” The wry smile didn’t quite reach her eyes, the familiar dark humor that Ben Solo inherited from both sides. “I’m sure that thing deserves it.”

“Just stop. Christ.” He surveyed the damage he’d done and wondered who he would be writing a check to. Fuck. He bent to recovered a shattered piece of plastic with the service number and his jaw worked as he searched his pockets for his phone.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll -”

“No! No, goddammit!” He kicked the next nearest machine, denting a bit of metal at the bottom. “I don’t need your help!”

“Well, I suppose there’s plenty left in your trust fund. Frankly, I was beginning to think you’d never touch it. But you’re not just supporting yourself anymore, are you?” He glanced over, not meeting her eyes as he collected broken shards and crammed them into a nearby trash can. “I’m glad you found each other.”

“Really? Because your brother seemed to think she’d be better off if you turned her over to him!” This time he did meet her eyes, stepping closer just to force her to look up at him. Leia’s lips pursed into a narrow frown. “What would he have done? Used her for his - his fucking eugenics research?”

“I was never going to turn her over to Luke,” she said, returning his glare. “When I came across the application, I knew there was something special about her. An unclaimed omega coming out of the foster system? That’s almost unheard of.”

“That’s disgusting!”

“Yes, it is. But that doesn’t make it not true.” Leia Organa sighed. She started to lift a hand towards him, then thought better of it and clenched her fist at her side instead. “Ben, listen to me. You know I never had the knack for moon-magic like you and Luke, but I’m not entirely powerless. Right after I met Rey, I knew. I just knew she was meant for you. And you need each other -”

“So you arranged for her to cross my path, is that it? Send her to a few conventions, we work in the same field, after all -” He scowled. “Did you know she was going into heat and send her to that goddamn networking thing with Dameron?”

“No! Ben, no! I would never - what kind of person do you think I am? I am an alpha just like you!” Now she did reach out, grabbing hold of the stiff leather collar of his jacket and yanking, dragging him down and hoisting herself up on her toes. “I wanted you to meet, yes, but I would never have jeopardized her safety like that! I’m just glad you were there!”

Kylo smirked, reminded again of Han Solo’s words. Only your mother can look down on you from below your chin. He stepped back, prompting her to let go of his collar, and broke eye contact.

“Now tell me what happened with Luke. I know Rey saw him.” Her voice was softer, asking instead of commanding. “What did he say to make her so scared of him?”

“If you want to talk about Luke, Mother,” he couldn't quite hold back the sneer in the word, “I think you should be the one to start.”

Leia considered him, taking in the pain in his eyes and the dark, vengeful tone of an alpha ready to go to war to protect his people, and sighed.

“You’ve grown up,” she said softly, almost proudly. “Found a place where you belong. You would never have fought so hard for Armitage Hux or Bazine Netal.”

“No. They weren’t my friends. I called them my pack, but they weren’t.” He chewed the inside of his mouth thoughtfully. “Renata was. Is.”

“I know.” Leia smiled. “I knew she would side with you. And I’m sorry about -”

“No,” Kylo shut her down quickly. “Tell me about Luke.”

“Alright, son. Alright.” She looked tired as her eyes passed over him again. “Come on, my office is this way. You can write a check for the vending machine company while we’re there.”

 

“Tell me again,” Dr. Holdo asked, leaning forward intently. She had stopped writing in her notebook, closing the cover around the pen tucked inside. “Exactly what Skywalker told you.”

“It’s not just what he said ,” Rey tried to emphasize. “He showed me, but I don’t know how to explain it -”

“Could you do it on anyone? Just as practice?” Rey frowned at Ishida’s interruption. It wasn’t that she particularly minded him being there, he had been nothing but kind and helpful, but being questioned by the two of them made her feel like she was back in school.

“I mean, I guess I could.” She looked around uncomfortably. “But it - I told you what he said, it will trigger -”

“Presentation. A heat or rut in an established target. Yes, I understand,” Amylin said, glancing back at her notes.

“What if you used it on me?” Ishida suggested. “Can it force a hormonal presentation in betas, too?”

“I don’t… I don’t think it’s a good idea…” Rey closed her eyes, trying to review her memory as carefully as possible. “I think he said it might . But even Anakin only used it once, so it’s not like he had a lot of experience to go on.”

“Did he say who it was?” Dr. Holdo had her notebook open again, and Rey hesitated. “It’s okay if you’d rather not say. Someone close to him?”

“Not particularly, but… she was a friend of Padme’s” At their blank look, she continued, “Ben’s grandmother, Padme Amidala Skywalker. Leia’s birth mother. One of her friends was desperate for a baby and she was past the age where she had regular heats.”

She sighed, deciding at this point she might as well tell the whole story, although she hoped she could at least trust them not to repeat it to anyone involved.

“The thing is… Anakin learned it from someone else. Actually, it was a cursed place, a shadowland called Mortis, somewhere in Egypt… He wouldn’t tell me where, said it was best if no one tried to go back there.” It was not a nice story, but it explained some things about Ahsoka and her hatred of anyone trying to manipulate shapeshifter genetics. And how Anakin got the idea such things could be altered in the first place. “He was with Ahsoka and Obi-wan. They found an old tomb with an altar and…”

Obi-wan just had to touch it, he couldn’t ever stop being curious about anything, even stupid, dangerous ancient artifacts. Ahsoka wasn’t any better, I’m just glad he got to it first. If it had been her going through that… I don’t know. I like to think we were better than that, but it wasn’t easy to fight off, and I never had the same rivalry with her that I did with Obi-wan. I got us out, I kept him safe, but I don’t really know if what I did was right…

Thankfully, neither of them remembered much, but sometimes I’d see her looking at me, really looking, like she was trying to put together a puzzle or something in her head. The best I could do was deflect, anytime it came up, pretend I didn’t remember anymore than they did, but… I remembered. I remembered all of it.

“Oh,” Ishida said, drawing Rey out of the retelling. When Anakin had told the story she had been privy to glimpses and hints of emotion from his memory, making it just as uncomfortable now as she trailed off and waited for Amilyn and Ishida to come to their own conclusions.

“Just to be clear -” Holdo began, and Rey shook her head slightly. “- Obi-wan and Ahsoka…?”

“They were both betas,” Ishida filled in. “But obviously that’s not all there is to it, is there? Whatever this magic is that calls to the inner beast, it’s still sort of predictable, isn’t it? I mean, there’s no way Ahsoka would have ever presented as omega. That’s obvious. I didn’t know Obi-wan, of course, but -”

“He was definitely not alpha material,” Holdo confirmed. Rey glanced between the two of them in surprise. either Anakin hadn’t realized it, or he had withheld that information, and she didn’t know either of them well enough to make that leap. “So we can guess… The altar induced a heat-like presentation in Obi-wan, Ahsoka touched it after him and the combination brought out alpha instincts in her… Anakin had to drag her off while not succumbing to the temptation himself…”

“And they left Obi-wan there to suffer for however long it took to wear off. Charming story,” Ishida shook his head. “No wonder they were all… weird afterwards. Even if they didn’t remember, there are instinctive responses to presentation. Biological changes that may have been left over…”

“Yes, it’s all very interesting and tragic, but I think we’re losing track of our discussion,” Amilyn had her notebook open again, jotting down a few hasty scribbles. “So, one would assume that were you to use this power on Ishida, the changes would not be permanent, but it might cause lasting side effects. Easily mitigated under the right conditions, perhaps. Do you have an… alpha friend who could make it easier on you if you decide to go through with this?”

He chuckled, giving her a gentle smile. “I do, but she’s made it fairly clear she’s not interested in me that way.”

Holdo looked up, blue eyes sharp, and inhaled rapidly when she understood his implications. She tilted her head thoughtfully, bringing the pen in her hand to tap against her lips.

“Perhaps, since this is solely for said alpha’s benefit, we should involve her before we make any assumptions,” she offered finally.

Rey sighed in relief, grateful for at least the momentary reprieve. Also because there was no way Renata would allow her to experiment on either of them, but she decided to let them figure that one out on their own.

 

As it happened, Rey was absolutely correct in her assumptions. After being stunned for a moment at the possibly of such a thing, Renata adamantly refused to allow either of them to be “experimented” on.

And then Kylo, her brilliant, loyal, infuriating mate had listened to the ensuing argument for all of five seconds before turning to and quietly asking why she couldn’t just use her magic on him .

“I didn’t…” Rey swallowed under the all the attention in the room suddenly focused on her. “I didn’t think of it…”

“Can you?” His eyes held hers steadily, and she felt warmth flooding her body at the idea of Kylo, half-mad, dopey, rutting Kylo under her spell.

“Yes,” she whispered.

 

Chapter Text

They stopped at the townhouse long enough to pack a bag and to tell Finn and Jacen the plan, both of whom seemed far more concerned for Kylo’s welfare than either of them had expected. Jacen tried very hard to volunteer himself instead, until Finn asked what he thought he’d present as, sparking a whole other argument, because while Ishida was obviously submissive, Jacen wasn’t so easy to guess at. Kylo, who’d known him longest and had met the occasional friend or one-night stand he brought home, finally asked if he had anyone to hook-up with either way, and he admitted the man he was seeing was not even a shapeshifter at all. And they had only recently agreed to be exclusive, something that was apparently not Jacen’s usual practice.

“You care about this guy a lot,” Finn pressed. “You can’t just do this without telling him. Damn, Syndulla, that’s not how relationships work!”

Jacen sighed and threw up his hands in defeat. “Alright, fine! Go get your brain fried by some weird wild-born magic, I guess Finn’s been a pretty decent alpha so far, I trust him to lead us.”

Kylo and Finn both blinked at that.

“You… you’re leaving me in charge?” Finn asked slowly.

“Well, Renata’s still my lieutenant, but… Chain of command leaves you, I guess. If Rey and I are occupied and she’s in the hospital…” He shrugged, glancing at Jacen again. “If Jace trusts you…”

“Trust him to be in charge of who? Me and his mate?” Jacen laughed. “Yeah, Kylo, I think Finn can handle that.”

“There are other things we have to work on!”

“Yeah, I know.” The other man rolled his deep amber eyes, getting up from the couch, where he had been settled reading something on his tablet. He passed the device over to Finn, who glanced down at it quickly. “I went over the info you forwarded from your boss. That’s a list of the ten largest-scale booths at the convention, and their known associations.”

“Thanks.” Finn grinned at Kylo. “See? We’re working on things.”

“Right. Okay.”

“We’re cool, Solo. You can go do the dangerous stuff, while us peons hold the fort,” Jacen teased, crossing his arms. His amber eyes sparked with amusement as Kylo glanced around the house again, shifting the bag on his shoulder. “Go on, man. We’re good here.”

Finn glanced at Jacen, and a slow smirk crept over his face as he moved his eyes over their leader, and then Rey.

“Yeah, man. I thought you were in a hurry.” He winked at Rey, and she blinked in surprise. “Or did you need something else from us? Like some sense of self-preservation, maybe?”

“No, no,” Kylo ran a hand nervously through his hair, and she laid a hand on his arm soothingly.

“Kylo?”

“You okay there, man?”

“Shut up, Jacen,” he said with a growl, turning to wrap his arm around Rey’s waist, ignoring the snickering as he guided her out the door. “Rey won’t hurt me. Let’s go.”

 

It was a short drive to the beach house, but Kylo gripped the wheel with both hands the entire way. They had decided to go somewhere more private than a hotel, in case Rey’s magic unleashed side effects they weren’t prepared to deal with in public, but she could still sense his unease growing as they pulled into the driveway. He turned off the car, but didn't immediately reach for the door, and for a moment they sat in silence as he tapped his fingers against the steering wheel.

“What is it?” Rey asked softly, sensing his distress and seeking to soothe her alpha. She had keep a tight rein on herself to stop from seeking out his thoughts. “I feel like you’re not telling me something.”

Slowly, he turned his head, those wide, dark eyes rolling towards her without actually stopping on her face. Instead, he reached down to take hold of her hand, and kept his gaze on their intertwined fingers as Rey rubbed her thumb across his palm in calming strokes.

“What about you, Rey?”

“What?” She looked up, making a distressed noise as he again avoided her eyes. “Kylo! Look at me!”

When he finally did, she was shocked to see the open conflict plaguing his expressive features. Pinned by her eyes, he shifted restlessly, lifting his hand from her lap to caress her cheek with a tenderness that stole her breath away. Rey studied his face carefully, trying to puzzle together why he looked so torn apart.

“What do you mean ‘what about me?’ You’re the one volunteering to be my test subject,” she said quietly. Kylo gave a slight shake of his head.

“I know. But if it goes badly - Rey,” he exhaled in a hoarse sigh. “Do you have any idea how gentle I’ve been with you? I know you need your space, I’ve admired your spirit, but I could break you.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Part of me wants to. It’s not a strong urge, but, it’s there, and I - I want you so badly, I need you so much - It scares me sometimes.” His hand was hot as he cupped her cheek, and Rey leaned into the contact, her eyes never breaking from his gaze. “When you ran from me, I sent Renata. I could have tracked you myself, but I knew if I found you and you refused me… I’m not strong enough to let you go. I’m selfish and impulsive. I lash out when things don’t go my way. I know you trust me, but I’m not sure you should, and I can’t… I can’t be objective about this, so…”

“You can’t break me if I want you, Kylo.” Now it was her turn to try and look away, but he brought her chin down gently with his hand, forcing her to keep her eyes on him. Rey bit her lip. He’d been brutally honest with her just now, surely he deserved the truth from her, too. “You think you’re not strong enough to let me go? You think if I run, you’ll hurt me? Then do it. I want to know. I want to know if…” It was hard to issue the challenge with his eyes locked on hers, but eventually, she managed a low whisper. “...If my alpha is truly worthy of me…”

She could see his pupils widen, the hint of gold in his irises, before he leaned forward and kissed her, his hand sliding behind her head, holding her still with sharp claws tangling in her hair. Rey moaned, suddenly desperate both to get out of the car and be closer to him, half of her considering just climbing over the console into his lap, as his lips and teeth practically devoured her, biting and sucking and rough.

Abruptly, he released her, dragging himself back and climbing out of the car, his bag slung over his shoulder as he jogged towards the house.

“Hurry up, I don’t want to be out here when it gets dark.” Hastily, he unlocked the door, throwing his back inside and then reaching for hers as she joined him under the porch. “Do you need anything special to do this?”

Rey shook her head, aroused and nervous at the change her admission had wrought in her previously caring, affectionate mate. She could tell that part of him was still there, somewhere, but this decisively arrogant, brusque Kylo was new to her. Though it wasn’t entirely surprising to see it in him, she had had plenty of glimpses of his pride and raw power before, it made her nervous to see how quickly such a change had come over him.

Without speaking, she undressed as quickly as possible, waiting for him to do the same, and then she closed her eyes and laid her hands on his bare chest, lowering the shield she had only just learned to construct.

Kylo.

That wasn’t right. She needed his true name, to summon the blood of the wolf passed down by his ancestors.

Ben. Ben Solo. Skywalker's heir.

Yes - there. Images reached her of a little boy with a shock of dark, black curls. A solemn teenager with his head buried in a book. A young man, gangly and awkward and overdramatic, dressed in black under a bright, cloudless sky. A hint of a scent, tantalizing and fascinating - there you are.

Skywalker.

Solo.

Ben.

Dark eyes turned to her, a vision of the past peering out from his mind, flashing to yellow as she whispered to him.

“Ben Solo.” A warning snarl reached her ears, and Rey’s mouth curved into a sensual smile. “Alpha.”

Catch me, if you can.


She was running along the sand before he even had the time to realize she was gone, and Ben lifted his voice in a deafening roar as he took off after her, consumed with need, his mind a whirlwind of base emotions. The scent of her had his mouth watering, his powerful, wild omega, a precious prize that he intended to claim again and again, to bend to his will until she knew nothing else.

His bite scarred her neck just as his wrist bore the mark of her teeth, but Rey was a willful creature, only half-tamed. This time he would take her at full-force, prove to her that he was indeed worthy of such a prize, and leave her without even the illusion that she was anything but utterly, completely his.

Come to me, Ben.


Rey could hardly breathe, but she refused to stop, even knowing he was gaining on her and would, inevitably, be upon her soon. It was important that she put every shred of effort she possessed into resisting him, or she would never know for certain that he’d won her fairly, and she needed to be sure. They both needed it.

So she fought back even when he bore her to the ground, rolling and clawing and spitting in his face, taking off again, only to be caught a second time. And then a third, and final time. Ben panted on top of her, his weight pinning her to the ground, and she cursed as he grabbed her wrists with bruising strength, firmly twisting them behind her back.

“Dammit… Rey! Stop, just stop!” She gave a low growl as he transferred her wrists to one hand and lifted her to her knees with the other. “Just… let me…”

Do it. Take me.

He was truthful when he said he’d been holding back. Even the first time he caught her, he had held some of his strength in check. It was good to know that he had a kind heart, Rey thought, even under her spell his natural inclination did not lean toward violence. But she forced it from him anyway, and his body wore the marks of her defiance, deep gouges down his chest and teeth marks on his arms and one hand. The one she could feel now, ruthlessly pressing her wrists against her back and holding her to the ground, while the other forced her legs apart despite her snarls and attempts to jerk away.

“For fuck’s sake, Rey! I knew this wouldn’t be easy, but it’s over , okay? I can smell you, sweetheart.” His fingers pressed inside her, thick and hard, and she whined, knowing what he would find. “And you’re so ready for me. Why are you fighting me? Please ...”

“Yes, Ben,” she conceded softly. “ Yes.

Take me, fill me. Alpha. Mate.

She closed her eyes and they sighed together as he thrust his length inside her, filling her full and deep from behind. Rey moaned in pleasure, finally relaxing under his hands as he pulled out and slid back in a slow inch at a time.

“God, you feel good,” he exhaled into her ear, and she leaned her neck aside, begging him for more contact. “You want me, I know you do. Why-”

“I had to know,” she gasped, struggling to get enough breath to answer. “I’m sorry, alpha.”

“You’re mine now.” His mouth descended on her exposed flesh, nipping and licking and kissing, drawing hoarse moans from her dry throat. “No more fighting.”

“Yes.” Always yours.

She whimpered while he slammed into her, over and over against her trembling, tired body, his breath and mouth hot on her neck and shoulders. He was rough and fast, giving her nothing for her insolence, only taking the prize he had earned, but Rey expected no less.

“If I’m hurting you, tell me,” he panted. “I’m sorry, I can’t… I need you, the magic is too strong…”

Stubbornly, she shook her head, opening her thoughts a little for him to see how she felt, reassuring him wordlessly that she was alright, he had her consent, even for this.

“This is really what you wanted?” He pressed his lips to her ear, speaking in low whispers as he gasped and thrust, tired but determined to complete their coupling. “Rey?”

I’m sorry, I love you, I don’t want to hurt you… This spell just… I can’t fight it. His jumbled thoughts reached her as she lowered her mental barriers, and she focused on responding to him in definite words.

You are not hurting me… I don’t want you to fight it. He was brutal and ragged, but her body hummed with relief to have him inside of her, finally claiming her and mating her after that long chase and test of strength, her wildest instincts thrilled to find he was worthy of her in every way. I love you, too.

“Please, forgive me. Ben. I needed you to… to claim me like this…” She closed her eyes, fighting to form words. “It feels so right ...”

Ben. Mate. Strong, fast, solid. Good alpha.

“God, Rey!” He pressed his head against her shoulder, his breathing ragged, and she felt his knot swelling. “That chase almost killed me, you know… You are... very fast. I’m going to bite you and knot you like this. Alright?”

Her verbal response was an unintelligible, wild moan, but her mind soared at the thought, and she lowered her shields completely so he could see how much she wanted him to do just that.

YES! Yes, knot, bite, yours, please!

“Fuck!”

She gasped as he swelled within her, satisfying the deep, primal need they’d been chasing for the last hour, her slick heat clenching around him. Then his teeth sank into her neck and she screamed, dragged into a sudden swell of ecstasy, a rush of emotion flooding her thoughts and body with the reminder of their bonding.

“Oh, God, Ben!”

“Yes, good girl!” He slipped a hand around to rub between her thighs, and she whimpered, shuddering under the onslaught of an unexpected climax, drawn out by his stroking fingers and the soft swipe of his tongue lapping over her neck.

“Sweet, sweet omega, Rey. My precious wildflower.”

“Wildflower?” Rey chuckled, completely exhausted but recognizing the exaggerated praise of her silly, rut-minded mate. “You’re ridiculous.”

“Are you alright?”

“Are you?”

“I’m still inside of you, so yes, why wouldn’t I be?” She was glad he couldn’t see her eyes rolling from above her. “I love you, Rey. I don’t say that enough.”

He really did , but she never got tired of hearing it, so she let him think that. Besides, she was bone-tired physically and mentally, and Kylo was hard to argue with, even half-crazy rutting Kylo.

“Rey?” She was embarrassingly close to falling asleep when his voice broke the silence a few minutes later, jolting her awake as his knot was deflating.

“Mmm?”

“Where are we?”

 

He was carrying her when she woke up, and Rey was embarrassingly certain he had been for a while. She groaned, feeling as if every muscle in her body had been beaten by the pounding surf nearby, and Kylo kissed her forehead when she finally opened her eyes.

“There you are.”

“How long have you been walking?” It was getting dark, and she felt like they should have reached the house by now. The last she remembered, Kylo had dragged her to feet, and they’d stumbled along for… maybe ten minutes, as she tried to follow her nose back the way they’d come. “Did I faint?”

“Like a lady in a corset.” He smirked down at her. “I tried to wake you up by licking your clit, but you just moaned a lot.”

“Fantastic. You didn’t… ahh… do anything else... while I was out?” She raised her eyebrow at his embarrassed expression. “Did you?”

“No, that’s why I wanted you to wake up. I don’t mind carrying you, but it’s kind of…” He blushed adorably, and Rey laughed.

“Hard?”

“I wasn’t going to say that, but yes, it is.”

“Okay, put me down.” She patted his chest reassuringly. “Let me take care of you, alpha.”

Kylo stopped, his eyes on her wide with surprise and concern.

“Just like that?”

“Well, if you don’t want me to, we can keep going, I guess, but you seem uncomfortable and you’ve been carrying me, so…” She shrugged. A few minutes ago he had forced her to her stomach and fucked her like a wild animal, regardless of her comfort, now he was worried about a blow job? “Please, alpha, I can tell by your scent, you need me.”

He set her onto her feet with care, stiffening as she took him in hand before she even got to her knees.

“Rey, sweetheart. Can’t I do anything for you?”

“When we get home and I have a quick wash and a bed, sure.”

He groaned as she swallowed his length as far as he would go, bobbing her head and applying her tongue eagerly. Warm hands stroked her cheeks, and he murmured encouragement and praise, warning her to pull back just before he finished.

Rey tried to stop him, but he batted her hands away and swung her into his arms again like she weighed little more than a handful of sand, and the deep, primal beast in her heart purred contently.

Strong, good alpha. Perfect mate.

“I have a name, omega,” he smiled warmly as he peered down at her, and Rey sighed. “Your wolf thoughts are incredibly erotic, though.”

“Ah,” she mumbled intelligently, clamping down on her shields. “Well, at least there’s that.”

“What was that, Rey? I felt so… God, I hope this is a priavte beach! I mean, I chased you down and fucked you out in the open like -”

“Like an animal?” She rolled her eyes. “It was my magic, remember? You agreed to be my guinea pig”

“Yeah, you could say that. Fuck! You cannot use that on Renata. Not if it affects you, too.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry, Rey.”

Truthfully, now that she had time to examine it through more objective eyes, she thought her spell had worked on her as much as it had on him. Certainly, she had succeeded in summoning his inner wolf, but it seemed her inner wolf had needed something, too. Something she should feel… mortally ashamed of, her human brain told her. She knew she would be if anyone else learned about it, but with just Kylo, she felt safe being honest.

“No, there’s no apology needed. I didn’t expect my magic to affect me, too, but apparently… I needed that.” She laid her head tiredly against his chest. “I don’t know why, but… I feel… better. Closer to you.”

“Closer to me?”

“My wolf thoughts are hard to explain,” she shrugged. “But just know… I loved every second of that and… whatever it was… I needed it. We needed it, I think.”

“Huh.” He was quiet, until they finally reached the back of Leia’s house, their nakedness thankfully covered by the rising blanket of nightfall. He waited until he could set her on her feet on the smooth wooden deck, then he peered down into her face with wide, searching eyes. “You’re really okay?”

“Yes, Ben.” Something flared in his eyes, and his expression narrowed slightly. “Alpha?”

His voice was low, but full of warmth when he replied.

“Say it again. Say my name. Call me alpha.”

“Ben.” She smiled at the sight of his widened pupils, the way his mouth opened slightly as the single syllable rolled from her lips. “My alpha.”

"Marry me."

"What?" She blinked stupidly as he waved his hand in the air, summoning Anakin's klaive, the red crackles of energy around the silver-etched blade bright in the dim light. "Ben -"

"Please, Rey." He dropped to his knee and she pressed her hand over her mouth, swallowing thickly, watching as he presented her with his ancestral weapon, held out in his open palms. "Take it. Take everything I have, if you want, but at least take my name."

"Yes." She sniffed, blinking back tears as her hand found the hilt of the sword and closed over it. His eyes on her were warm and more than a little watery when she met his gaze, smiling because she didn't know how to stop. "Yes, Ben."

 

Later, after she finally managed to get her alpha to sleep on the third or fourth try, Rey dug through her bag and fished out her phone, finding the number she wanted and typing out a quick text. Kylo had said he thought Ishida or Jacen would know how to make a klaive, but Rey had a better idea, and this way she could be absolutely certain of surprising him with it.

The shipping would be exorbitant, but if they going to be having a wedding anyway... Perhaps she could just buy her contact a plane ticket...

Chapter Text

Visiting hours were technically over, but when the doctor overseeing your care is also a close personal friend, enforcement of hospital rules is somewhat lacking. Renata looked up at the knock on her half-open door, not expecting anyone, but unsurprised to have company. She was expecting Jacen or Rose, and she sat up straighter as Ishida slipped into the room holding a large pet-carrier half-covered by his coat. The scent of newborn kitten was unmistakable, and her ears caught the faint sound of petulant cries.

“What the hell have you brought me?” Her tone clearly wasn’t as stern as she thought, because he proceeded to set the large, hard-cornered soft carrier beside her on the bed with a grin.

“They were brought to the lab when I was working with Dr. Holdo. Someone took them to the SPCA thinking they were domestic, and they called the Totem Reclaimation Project based here. You're the only registered Indian and lynx in all of Northern California.” She slid over and turned on her side, giving the carrier more room, and watched with interest as he unzipped the side and gently removed the tiniest scrap of fur she’d ever seen. “It takes a lot of time and patience to bottle-feed infants, but we thought… you’re not exactly busy right now, and injured wildlife tend to do better in totemic care, so…”

“Oh, honestly!” Renata scowled at him as she accepted the little kit, carefully holding it to her chest. She couldn’t help the low purr that resonated in her chest, it was instinctive, and it responded immediately, snuggling in against her warm body. “Poor little guy. How many are there?”

“Three. That’s the male, the other two are females.” He watched silently as she unzipped the leather case, allowing the two remaining infants to wriggle towards her warm, resonating body.

“Shhh,” she soothed, licking her thumb and stroking one of the females with a firm hand. “You’re alright. Hush, now.”

When she looked up at Ishida, her eyes flashed reflectively over an irritable frown, and she snatched up the formula and dropper he held out brusquely. “I hate you all.”

Ishida smiled faintly.

“I assumed you would say say that.” He settled onto the little visitors’ couch beside Renata’s hospital bed and took charge of a kitten and a dropper. “I also knew for a fact you’d never turn them down.”

Renata’s eyes fell on his lap, where he held the tiny lynx by the scruff of its neck and tried to feed it.

“You’re doing it wrong,” she growled sharply. “Hold her in your hand, like this. They can’t swallow if you’re holding their scruff. Stupid wolf."

The lynx kittens required her full attention, so she didn’t see the emerald eyes watching from the door, pouring over the sight of Nat, fully engrossed with her task, purring and murmuring softly to her three tiny charges. Ishida glanced up when he caught the familiar scent, but she was already turning away. He made excuses to Renata as quickly as he could, rushing to catch up to her at the elevator, his hand catching the door at the last second.

“Why doesn’t she want to be a mother? Did you see how gentle she was?” Emerald eyes filled with tears, and Ishida shoved his way into the elevator and let Innara sob into his patient embrace. “I just want… I wanted… that.”

“I know,” he sighed.

“She’s my mate. I don’t want anyone else! I want to have a baby with my mate! ” He just nodded, stroking Innara’s sleek black hair and trying to make soothing sounds. “Why doesn’t she want me? What happened to us?”

“I don’t know, Innara. Maybe you should go ask her.”

“I can’t. I can’t stand it - why did you have to bring her kittens , Ishi?” She pulled away, sniffing and dabbing at her smeared makeup gingerly. “What on earth possessed you?”

“It was Holdo’s idea. She thought Nat needed something to -”

 

He shouldn’t have mentioned Holdo. Innara had been so close, she’d even come to the door, and if only Renata had seen her, maybe…

For a while, he just stood there in the hospital lobby, mentally berating himself for making such a stupid slip up, after he’d been trying so hard just to get them to talk to each other without malice. When Amilyn had spoken to him about the lynx kits, he’d been thrilled, knowing Nat could never resist the alpha instinct to care for and protect something so small and innocent. Of course, he’d wanted Innara to come see them, too. How often did wild bobcats leave their kittens around for stupid hikers to find, and how often would any werecat get a chance to be involved in the care of their totem species?

And then he had to go and name-drop Amilyn Holdo, right when Innara was already crying and upset. Shoulders slumped, he turned back to the bank of elevators, his attention immediately grabbed by an overexcited Rose and Finn, coming in from the parking lot. Renata must have called them while he’d been walking Innara out and lurking in misery as she walked away.

“I can’t believe you found lynx kittens!” Rose was nearly buzzing with excitement. “That’s so cool!”

“I can’t believe you convinced Renata to bottle-feed a bunch of two-day-old babies,” Finn said with a shake of his head. “I never pictured her as the nurturing type.”

“I’ve known Renata for a long time. She’ll growl and complain about it, but she’d never turn down someone in need.” He sighed. If only Innara were as easy to predict, he might have succeeded, but the weretiger had always been a secretive and private person, even to her mates. “You just have to ask the right way.”

"What exactly is the 'right way' to ask Renata to do something?" Finn pressed.

"Ah. Well." He fiddled with his glasses, wiping them with a corner of his shirt as they waited for the elevator. "You leave out the asking part."

"Seriously, Noel?! Did you just waltz into the room of a hospitalized alpha with a bag of kittens and hope for the best, because you knew she'd say no if you asked?"

"Obviously, it worked," Rose grinned at him. "Smart plan. You'd have to be soul-less to say no to helpless kittens."

"We don't know she has a soul, Rose." Finn pursed his lips as she swatted his arm, giving him a dark look that made Ishida want to disappear from the small metal box they were trapped in as soon as possible. "What?"

"Renata has a soul, Finn!" When just shrugged in reply, she turned her sharp eyes on Ishida, leaning carefully against the back wall. "Come on, you know her best. She said she knew you before she even met Innara! You agree she has a soul, right?"

"That depends on what you mean by 'soul.'" He said in as calm a manner as possible. "If you were to ask my Japanese grandmother, she would say Renata has two souls, as do all hengeyokai. I'm not certain of the specific Creek Indian beliefs, but in general, Native Americans believe in a dual-soul as well, although I admit I am not well-informed on their specific beliefs on skinchangers or shapeshifters. I know Renata performed a spirit quest after her First Change, overseen by her father's family, and reported speaking to what she believes to be a sort of goddess or progenitor of some kind, whom she refers to as 'Grandmother Bobcat.' It seems unlikely she would be able to perform such a feat as traveling to spirit world if she were truly without a soul, so, in answer to your question -"

The elevator dinged to signal their floor, and he was surprised to see Finn take Rose's hand and lead her quickly down the hallway, leaving Ishida to catch up. He sighed as he heard them speaking animatedly to Renata, wondering what it was he'd done to render them both so uncomfortable.

Perhaps he had been a bit - what would Renata call it? Wordy? Or perhaps they were simply excited to see the tiny little creatures now curled up on her chest, covered partially by a soft blanket. Rose 'oohed' and 'awwed' as he looked on from the doorway, knowing better than to disturb the infants but mesmerized by the sight and sound of the sleeping kittens. 

"They'll eat again in a few hours," Renata was telling her quietly. "Then there's the aftercare. I'd appreciate the help if you -"

"Oh yeah, we're staying." Finn grinned in response to Rose's happy silent clapping, both of them settling into the visitor's couch to wait and speak softly with Renata.

"I'll send you a text tomorrow," Ishida said, equally softly. Her eyes narrowed as he gave a farewell wave, that alpha gaze holding him still. "Nat. I'm available anytime if you need me."

"Alright." She nodded. "I'm working on Kylo."

"Good luck." 

I hope it's better than mine.

 

 

Jacen Syndulla didn’t really hate his mother, he wasn’t some edgy alpha with anything to prove, but she could be a bit… much. Especially when she thought he might, possibly, be on the verge of having an actual steady relationship. And when that relationship involved her favorite student and Leia Organa’s personal protege, who had been begging him to finally come clean that her match-making was successful, well…

“Okay, you were right, I give,” Poe leaned over to whisper as Hera Syndulla disappeared into the kitchen with a pile of dirty plates that she had refused help with. “I’ve never been raked over the coals so hard in my life, and I had to interview with Leia twice.”

Poe cast an injured look towards the kitchen. “I really thought your mother liked me. Why start inviting me over all the time for dinner if she doesn’t want us to date? I kinda thought it was a setup anyway.”

“Yeah, the thing is, Poe… She does like you. My mother’s been trying to set me up with people for years, and she’s never invited anyone back after the first try.” He sighed, tipping his chair back and laying an arm over the back of Poe’s for leverage. “Now she knows we’re a thing, she’s not gonna give up until she’s drained you for every minor detail imaginable. I hope you weren’t planning on doing any else tonight -”

The doorbell sounded, and Jacen cursed as he nearly fell over, jolting in surprise and catching himself ungracefully on the arm of his snickering companion.

“What happened to all that natural power and grace, wolfman?”

“Get the door, Jacen!”

Rolling his eyes at the dual onslaught of Poe Dameron and his mother, he climbed to his feet and jogged down the hall, neglecting to get a good look through the window before he opened the door wide.

There was a shrill squeal and a blur of color, and then he was all but tackled by his excited, grinning little sister.

“Oh, my God, you’re actually here! Holeeeeeey shiiiiit, Jacen!!”

He couldn’t really think of anything to say, so he just hugged her close, breathing in her familiar scent with his eyes closed and his arms wrapped tightly around her somewhat fuller than he remembered frame. Had it been that long since he’d seen her? He tried to remember… probably last Christmas, yesh, that was  over nine months ago.

“Jaina. I’ve missed you.”

“Really? Because I come home to the same house every weekend, Jace.” She disentangled herself with a snicker, and he heaved a sigh, finally able to look her over.

As per usual, Jaina’s hair was about five different colors, smoothed and twisted into three braided buns, one over each ear and another in the back. She was dressed in scuffed black jeans and a faded Dragonball-Z t-shirt he was pretty sure had been his at some point, and appeared to have grown several inches in height as well as finally filling out her lanky frame. Jaina was an adult woman now, there was no denying that, and it was hard to wrap his mind around the fact that the tiny thing he’d held when she was first born had sprouted into this wild creature.

She interrupted his perusal, snapping her fingers in his face. “Mom said you brought someone over?”

“I’ll bet she did,” he grumbled, turning as his sister pushed past him down the hall while he shut and locked the door again. “This is totally a set-up,” he complained to the dark-skinned, amber-eyed young man in the mirror. His reflection stared back, looking just as hopeless as he felt.

“Hi, there.” Poe Dameron’s voice came from up the hall, and Jaina promptly pounced on his unprepared date, grabbing his arm as he stood in the hallway and letting out a low whistle. Poe quirked an eyebrow, but all Jacen could do was shake his head, smirking as he tried to offer Jaina a handshake and she insisted on hugging him instead.

“Ah-ah, little man. We hug in this family.” She had the audacity to turn and wink at her brother as she squeezed the life out of Poe. “Nice catch, by the way.”

Poe chuckled, disentangling himself carefully from the divine force that was Jaina Kallus, smiling but looking a little overwhelmed. Thankfully, Hera came to greet her daughter as well, and the wide-eyed young man hastened into the protection of Jacen’s arm, his own sliding around his waist like an anchor.

“You didn’t tell me your sister would be here, Jace,” he half-whispered in as low a tone as Poe Dameron ever managed. Jaina could no doubt hear him quite clearly, but he didn’t want to freak Poe out even more.

“Because I didn’t know,” he murmured, seeing her turn towards them and clutching at Poe somewhat worriedly. “Jaina, don’t -”

But she was already tilting her head, eyeing Poe up and down like she was the final arbiter of what was good and proper in her family’s house. Jacen supposed she was, now that her father was gone and it was just Hera and her alone. Unlike him, Jaina had presented as an alpha at the early age of fourteen, and also unlike him, she’d had the nerve to stand up to her verbally-abusive father, successfully kicking him to the curb and relocating their mother with Jacen’s covert assistance.

But having runaway and left his mother and sister under the toxic influence of his step-father as a teenager had left him with a lot of lingering guilt. Something he had in common with his pack leader and former employer. Add in the indecent things he’d gotten caught up in before he joined the military to get away from it all, alongside the isolation of his soul-crushing time as a Hunter, and it was difficult for him to face the people who knew him before his life had fallen apart. Before I became a fuck-up, as Solo would say.

People who remembered his fifteenth birthday at Disneyland, who sat patiently through all of his gold medal ceremonies from junior martial arts competitions, and attended the high school graduation where he stood in front of his class and read Dr. Suess.

People who believed in him, even now, willing and ready to welcome him into their lives as much as he could bare.

Which apparently included Poe Dameron, now.

God dammit, Solo.  

Jaina had never held the past against him, always excited when he came home, if a bit annoyed that he didn’t come around more often. His mother had made it clear that her door was always open to him, but working for Kylo Ren and knowing how his leader felt about his own mother, Jacen had tread lightly. He stopped by for holidays, kept up with them on social media, and sent his mother flowers occasionally for her birthday.

And for a few years, that had been enough. He appreciated the freedom to hit the waves when he wanted, enjoyed the solitude of pitting himself against the wind and sea. But without someone at home to worry about his safety (besides Renata’s silent knowing looks) he had been more than a little reckless, thinking he didn’t much care if he slipped up one day and lost himself to the ocean.

Since Rey had come and uprooted everything, however, he’d seen Kylo changing, less bitter and angry the more he opened up to the people around him, and when he came to dinner and met Poe Dameron earlier in the summer… Well, his mother had a point. He wasn’t getting any younger, and the man was an unfair combination of attractive and charming. He gave the ex-Hunter a reason, and slowly, as he let Poe into his life, he had begun finding other reasons to take interest in the rest of his existence as well. He wasn’t a shapeshifter, but as much as he thought that would be an issue, he had been surprised to find it really wasn’t. Hux and Bazine would have sneered down their noses, and for all that they were a ‘pack,’ he didn’t miss those arrogant bastards one iota. He would have missed Kylo, and maybe Renata. Thankfully, Leia’s ploy had worked out in their favor, though he still hated her for taking the risk, and himself for falling for it.

“So you’re what? Twenty-one?”

“Twenty-five,” Jaina corrected, frowning as Poe chuckled. “What? Why are you laughing at?”

“Twenty-five, about to graduate med school, top of your class, alpha female?” Poe grinned. “You’re buttering me up for Holdo’s internship.”

“I-”

Smiling faintly, he watched as Poe successfully charmed his sister, breaking away to let her loop her arm through his, pulling him into the living room to continue her barrage of reasons why she valued him for more than his reference. Vacillating between somewhat annoyed and somewhat amused, Jacen followed them through the house, taking up a silent position leaning against the doorway, at least until Jaina reached over to clear off the scarves decorating his mother’s hope chest. He knew very well what was in there, and had no intention of letting her bring any of it out.

“Hey, now, no baby pictures!” He stepped down into the room, seating himself beside Poe, firmly draping a heavy arm over the chest’s lid. “Seriously, Jaina. I think Poe’s had enough Syndulla-family orientation tonight.”

“‘Family orientation?’” Poe repeated, blinking at him. Jacen rolled his eyes. “Seriously, Jacen. Your family is great.”

 “I’m glad you think so.” 

“Jacen!” His mother came into the living room with a fucking tray of cookies, and he had to stop himself from launching out the nearest window. When did Hera ever take up baking ? Probably about the time she started inviting Poe Dameron for dinner on a regular basis. Fuck, they were pulling out all the stops tonight, weren’t they? “Would you like a cup of coffee, Poe?” 

“Oh, no, Hera, thank you. I’ve had a lovely time meeting you both, but I think Jace has a lot on his mind right now. All that stuff going on with Renata and the, uh, convention coming up has him very busy -”

“Oh, yeah!” He groaned, seeing the way his sister’s eyes lit up. Of course, Jaina was planning to go. Of all the years, why did she have to pick this year to break her strict rules against participating in ‘patriarchal gender enforcement?’ “Hey, Jace, I was gonna ask you. Is -”

“No,” he said firmly. Poe slapped his thigh, giving him a glare, but he focused his gaze on his sister. “Jaina, please, you don’t know what’s going on -”

“Then tell me! I’m not a kid anymore, I’m twenty-five now and I’m a frigging alpha! I’ll be a doctor next year, you know that?” She met his eyes furiously, and he did try to stare her down, he put all he could into it, but Jaina was a force of nature. And she’d been staring him down her whole life. “Let me help you, Jacen! Why do you think mom asked me to be here?”

He turned to lay a wary eye on his mother. His kind-hearted, pure human mother, who had somehow weathered two tumultuous relationships with shifters and worked at the side of Leia Organa most of her life, without letting any of it break her down.

Hera gave him a knowing look.

“Why did you come tonight, Jacen?” His mother asked quietly. “I know you and Poe have been dating, but why the sudden choice to be open about it?”

“I -”

It was a question only his mother would be wise enough to ask, and the old rebellion flared in his chest, the inclination to deflect, to keep his private life private , sprang to the forefront of his mind. He closed his eyes to find focus, but they flew open as Poe took his hand, folding his fingers between his and squeezing firmly.

“God dammit, Poe.” 

“What? You think I don’t listen when you talk, Jace?” He met his eyes, even as they flashed yellow briefly, and Jacen sighed again. “Ben Solo does a one-eighty in the few months since he found a mate, and suddenly you guys are talking to each other and you’re learning things you never knew about him and Renata. You like Finn, and Rey, because unlike your former ‘pack’ you actually feel like they’d have your back in a fight, and you like that. You need people to trust, babe. Everyone does, but you especially need them now .” 

“Let us help you,” Jaina chimed in. “Please. I’ve seen Skywalker lecture, he has to be stopped!” 

“Is this an intervention or something, Mother?” He tried not sound dismissive, he knew Poe hated it when he deflected serious questions with humor, but their scrutiny was making him uneasy. “You gathered everyone here to tell me I have a - what? - an intimacy problem?” 

“Yeah, actually,” Poe said, still holding onto his hand. “Among other things.”

“This was your idea?” He rounded on his new boyfriend, narrowly examining the other man’s casual shrug.

“Hera brought it up and I thought it was worth a try. You’re easier to access than Kylo and I know Leia’s been trying, but those two can’t be in a room together for five minutes without billing someone for damages, so…” He spread his hands pleadingly. “Look, you said you needed reinforcements, but didn’t have enough people you trust. So, I found some people you can trust. And just so you don’t think it’s one-sided, I have some information on Leia’s plans as well. But only for an equal exchange.” 

“Oh, God damn you all,” he huffed. “I need a minute to think.” 

Jacen closed his eyes again, threading the fingers of his free hand between his ocean-forged dreadlocks and rubbing the side of his head. He could feel a headache coming on, and he desperately wanted to run everything by Kylo, but of course the man had to be out fucking his new girl like a couple of rabbits. If Rey came back pregnant, he was going to have to seriously consider how to invite Poe to move in, or at least bring their relationship more into the open. Let Renata be the third or fifth wheel for a little while.

“Alright, look. Kylo’s… involved in something right now, but I’ll call Finn, okay? I just - I appreciate the offer, Jaina, Poe - I do. I know you’re right…” He opened his eyes to see Poe watching him and smiled faintly. “You’re both right, obviously. But I need to let the others know before I cut you in. If I can’t get Finn, Nat will probably okay it. Alright? Just let me run it by them.”

Poe glanced at Jaina, who grinned and did a fist pump. 

“Yeah, let’s do this! Fuck Luke Skywalker!” 

“Jaina!” 

“Sorry, Mom.” She blinked at her brother innocently. “But we are gonna… totally kick his ass, right? I mean, I promised my roommates I’d at least get a punch in, any time I had the chance.” 

“Wonderful.” Poe squeezed his hand again, and he gave the other man a quick glance. He had no right to look so happy… and absolutely delectable… sitting there on his mother’s pink velour couch like a cat licking cream from its paws. “You owe me, Dameron.” 

“Is that a promise?”

 

Chapter Text

Finn was hypnotized by the sight of the tiny kitten in his palm, lapping greedily as he squeezed droplets of formula from the dropper into its little mouth. It took him too long to realize that weird buzzing was his phone, especially given the amount of purring coming from the two women in the room, one of whom was curled up beside him cuddling a sleeping kitten in a contented way that was putting some very strange thoughts into Finn’s head.

“Sorry, it’s Jacen,” he said, excusing himself. Renata glanced up sharply, but gave an understanding nod as he stepped outside and called back. “Hey man, sorry about that, you’ll never guess - wait, what?”

He listened, for a good ten minutes, half of those taken up by Jacen’s sister stealing the phone and demanding he give her contact information for himself as well as Kylo and Renata. It made sense, of course, and Kylo had been speaking to Lando about reinforcements. A plan formed in his head as he paced the darkened hospital hallway, speaking softly so as not to disturb the other residents in the Polymorphic Inpatient Wing. He gave Jacen all the details he could, waiting while he questioned his sister and whoever else seemed to be in residence, though he claimed he was at his mother’s house.

“So your sister’s in pre-med?” That was more ambitious than he expected from someone related to Jacen Syndulla, beach bum extraordinaire, but he remembered the man had been a Hunter and wisely kept his mouth shut. “It’ll be good to have some back up working to counter Skywalker in case Rey’s magic fails. Dr. Holdo has been great, but she can’t take on all this extra work and stay on top of her job at Organa Tech.”

Jacen’s sister had a few choice words regarding Skywalker, and he snickered before he bid goodbye, assuring them he’d talk it over with Renata and send them a text as soon as he could.

The door was cracked when he turned back to the room, and given the expressions of the two women inside, Finn knew at least his part of the conversation had been overheard. He should have known better, he was a cat himself, but panthers were big cats who specialized in sneaking and chasing, not so much hiding and listening. Or maybe that was just a female thing.

“Eh, uh… So that was Jacen…”

“We heard,” Rose said, raising an eyebrow. Renata said nothing, merely looking at him with a patient expression that was oddly terrifying. “So?” Rose prompted again.

“Well, I guess his sister is in town and… You know, Kylo was looking to organize some reinforcements, so… Apparently she’s got friends and…” He glanced around, closing the door firmly before he moved in and sat down beside Rose, hunching his shoulders and leaning in close. “Okay, this doesn’t leave the pack, alright? Renata?”

“You’re in charge, Tico.”

“Right.” Finn swallowed. “You know that guy Jacen’s been getting sort of serious with? Apparently, it’s Poe Dameron - and - AND - ” he had to resort to a sort of yelling whisper to talk over their expressions of shock and surprise - “Poe Dameron is leading a task force set up by Leia Organa of human allies and relatives who are ready to stand with us against any kind of forced vaccine or government-sanctioned ‘cures.’ Jacen’s mother is part of it, too.”

“Oh, wow!” Rose breathed. “Go Leia!”

“That is… a fittingly clever tactic,” Renata conceded. “I knew The Queen Mum was smart, I assume both of Kylo’s parents were fucking geniuses, given what they produced, but… Involving human allies to circumvent her brother’s suspicions… Clever and brave. Ten points for Gryffindor.”

“So, should I give him the go-ahead to tap them in? Pass along our info?” Finn looked to Renata, who cocked her head thoughtfully, giving him a playfully mocking smirk. “Well?”

“Well? Kylo left you in charge for a reason, Finn.” She gestured to the IV in her arm and several monitors trailing through the low neck of her flannel pajama top. “I’m drugged the fuck out. This is your call.”

“Okay, okay.” He breathed in and exhaled in a rush, trying to gather himself. “I knew that, yeah. I’m in charge. Just thought I’d run it by you, get your input.”

“Well, there you go. I think it’s clever. If Kylo has a problem going forward, I’ll back you.” She nodded to him encouragingly, and Rose patted his arm to show her support as well. “I don’t think he will, to be honest.”

“Really?”

“Just one word of advice, kid. Stand by your decision. Get your reasoning squared away in your head, and stick by it.” She met his eyes pointedly before glancing away, granting him respect without a challenge. “We’re in the thick of battle. Can’t have squabbles in command now.”

Finn returned her gesture with a solemn nod, recognizing the implications of the older, combat veteran alpha placing her faith in him. Before, when she sent him and Rey off to find shelter and trusted them with the safety of her mates, they’d had little choice in the matter. This time, she had every right to question him and the time to do it, but remained steadfast. He might not have the same service background, having spent his time in support positions far behind the front line, but he knew what it meant to have his authority supported by the most senior member of his team.

“Thank you, Renata.”

 

Jacen jumped when his phone began ringing only a few minutes after he spoke with Finn, eyeing it doubtfully before he picked up. Given that Kylo was nearly impossible to get ahold of and Renata was apparently busy with her own project in addition to being hospitalized, he hadn’t expected the werepanther to come back with a quick response, much less a call instead of a text.

Poe caught his eye as he answered, watching to gauge his reaction and get an inkling of the response, looking decidedly nervous. He took the other man’s hand lightly, a tentative attempt at reassurance.

“Hey man, did you -”

“Can you and your family meet us somewhere? Lando’s maybe, if it’s not too far?” He didn’t sound tense at all, if anything Finn sounded relieved, and Jacen felt his shoulders relax slightly, too, as the alpha continued in a friendly tone. “If that’s too rowdy for your mom, we can meet at the townhouse -”

He covered the microphone while he glanced around the room, catching his sister and then his mother’s eyes and mouthing ‘Lando’s?’ while Finn went on.

“- we’ll get Renata and Rose on speaker if it’s quiet enough, they’re kinda held up right now. Also I was thinking of asking Ahsoka to join if you know how to contact her -”

“Yeah, I can call Ahsoka. She knows my mom pretty well, it might be easier.” He took a quick inventory, noting the nods all around, and gave Finn his assent. “Lando’s is fine. We can be there in an hour, give or take. My mom’s house is across the bay, so you never know what traffic is gonna be like, but we’ll make haste.”

“I’ll call Ahsoka on the way,” Hera said, getting to her feet to collect her things, ordering Poe to follow in her wake and leaving Jacen and Jaina to lock up the house. She had the tin of cookies under one arm, he noted as they entered the garage.

He explained the plan to Finn, agreeing to stop by and get both of their devices from the townhouse on the way in, then hung up to see his sister giving him a bemused stare from the side of his mother’s SUV.

“What’s up, Jaina?”

“Nothing. You know…” But she refused to continue, just rolling her eyes and gesturing him to the backseat, where Poe was already buckling in. “I called shotgun. Let’s go.”

“Wait -” He grabbed her elbow, glancing to where his mother and his boyfriend were inside the car, his military instincts too strong to let him leave without clarification, especially after what happened to Renata and Rey and Rose. “If anything happens, you cover Mom, okay? Don’t worry about me - or Poe - just grab her and get out, okay?”

“If you think I’m just gonna leave you two -” Her eyes widened as he tightened his grip, forcing her to meet his eyes, though he struggled to maintain his stare. “What the fuck, Jace?”

“Just listen,” he hissed as she jerked her arm away from his grasp. “Skywalker’s already got to one person I care about. He’s got some kind of cocktail of strong suppressants and other drugs packaged with his ‘cure’ that are particularly harmful to alphas. Renata’s been in the hospital for three days under Dr. Holdo’s constant care. I don’t want to see you there, too. Okay? Please, Jaina.”

“I’m not letting that jackass anywhere near me, thank you.” She scoffed. “I can take care of myself, believe it or not, and I don’t need you to tell me to watch out for Mom -”

“I know you can fight. I know,” he made himself meet her eye again, if only briefly. “ I know , alright? I’m asking you not to , because I can’t concentrate if you’re in danger, and no matter how scrappy you are as a fighter, you’re not a killer. So get Mom, get the hell away, and let me do what I’ve been trained to do. Please -”

“I’m not -” she cut off as Hera honked the horn impatiently, reaching for the door handle, and Jacen leaned over and slammed his palm down to hold it closed.

“Promise me, Jaina. Don’t make me involve Mom. You know she’ll side with me.” She cast her eyes down with a sigh, and he looked over her closed expression sadly. It was a cheap thing to say, but he couldn’t afford to hold anything back for the sake of his pride - or his sister’s. “Promise me.”

“Fine,” she spat vehemently, shoving his hand out of the way and yanking the door open. “Just don’t get yourself killed. We just got you back.”

He blinked, slack-jawed in surprise, before the rear passenger door opened and Poe leaned out, beckoning to him impatiently.

“Let’s go, Jacen. Whatever you’re arguing about, it can wait.”

He stared at the back of the headrest in front of him, at Jaina’s rainbow buns bobbing as she chatted amiably with Hera and Poe, and let his mind and thoughts race until they settled and he could pick them apart. He knew she cared, of course. Both of them cared, they had made it perfectly clear anytime he happened by, but he wasn’t prepared for the added weight having his family involved would put on his heart.

He turned his head as Poe’s sudden question caught his ear, just catching that it was something about the convention.

“There’s a lot of open access this year,” she was saying. “My friend Kat is running an adult outreach booth… She could probably use another volunteer, if you want to get involved.”

“Yeah, I mean,” Poe’s dark eyes found his, an open question in them. “If you’re okay with that. I don’t want to invade your space or anything.”

“You want to volunteer to sit at an outreach booth for the Omega’s Ball? For my sake?” He tilted his head, watching the nervous expression spread over the other man’s handsome face.

“Well, I do work for Leia Organa, I know quite a few shifters, but Jaina’s friend is doing a sort of ‘adult education’ thing for, you know, nosey people who just have to have explicit details.” He raised an eyebrow. “You know… Um, I don’t care what people know, but if you’d rather I not -”

“Oh.” He smirked, catching Jaina making a disgusted face in the rearview mirror. “You mean Kat the ‘Sexplanation’ girl?”

He had a vague memory of a lanky blonde woman with a bunch of piercings, and an even vaguer memory of her minus the piercings and a little chubbier from Jaina’s middle school days. She had a radio show now, he knew, in addition to pursuing a graduate degree in something racey that translated basically to 'sex therapy for shapeshifters.'

“Yep, that’s her.” His sister had turned to look at them both, eyes glinting with mischief. “She gets so many calls about polymorphic genders and mating and whatnot, she decided since this is open access and adults only, might as well put herself out there.”

“People are too nosey,” Hera snorted. “She shouldn’t encourage them. Bedroom activities are private.”

“If you want to spend hours answering completely inappropriate questions with grace and sarcasm, have fun,” Jacen chuckled. He couldn’t help but grin. Poe Dameron was exactly the kind of person you wanted around when faced with a nosey public. Charming and witty and handsome in a very traditional way, with a completely disarming smile. “I think you’ll be great at it. You loved the tech convention, even after Rey ditched you.”

“What, really?” Poe gaped at him in surprise, and he heard Jaina giggle. “You’re cool with me just explaining our sex life to random strangers? No catch?”

“I don’t really care what people know about my personal life, if you’re comfortable sharing that sort of thing. As long as I don’t have to be there to hear it.” He shrugged, suddenly feeling his affection for Poe rise to warm his chest. “You really want to come out and tell everyone we’re together? Your work colleagues will be there. Leia, Rey, Dr. Holdo… This is a big step, you know?”

“Yeah, I know, babe. It’s okay.”

“Okay.” He rested his wide hand on Poe’s knee, giving it a gentle squeeze. “It’ll give you a good position to help keep an eye on the crowd, too. Plus, if something does happen, it’ll be nice to have someone who’s immune to Skywalker’s poison at hand.”

“Always strategizing,” his boyfriend chided gently. “It’s good to be included this time. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

 

 

This time, when he applied his mouth to her, giving long, slow licks to the faintly swollen pink flesh between her legs, Rey woke up, his name a breathy growl on her lips.

“What time is it?” She stretched an arm out, reaching for the table beside the bed where her phone lie charging, but Kylo caught it and folded it easily behind her back. “I’m sore, Ben,” she chided. “Be gentle, please.”

That wasn’t an outright ‘no,’ or ‘get the fuck off me’ like the last two times he tried to wake her up, so he continued tentatively, shifting his hand on her wrist to hold it more loosely. Rey was on her stomach, her breath coming in shorter gasps as he dipped his tongue into her entrance, tasting the fresh slick that leaked out in response to his attentions.

He groaned appreciatively, diving in deeper, moving his free hand to hold her apart so he could reach more of her, the heel of his palm applying slight pressure in front that Rey slowly began to grind against. She whimpered sharply and he paused, glancing up to catch her looking over her shoulder.

“Should I stop?”

“No.” She groaned as he continued eagerly, releasing her wrist so he could push her thighs apart further, relishing the way her body moved towards him, groggily seeking pressure and stimulation. “Oh, God, Kylo!”

“Good?” He paused, debating on flipping her over so he could tongue the top of her folds more easily, but she seemed to shy away from any direct stimulation there.

“It’s good, just…” To his delight, she pushed up to her knees, grabbing a handful of pillows to pull under her head and arms. “Go slow.”

“Can I fuck you?”

She whined as he withdrew his mouth, waiting for her answer before he went any further. Kylo knew he was pestering her, and he’d tried to be as careful of her shared enjoyment as possible, but his alpha brain was still in partial rut and Rey was there, warm and slick and soft. Self-control was never really his strong point, even at the best of times.

Thankfully, she’d finally cracked and actually chased him off in the early hours of the morning, threatening him with a spray bottle of his mother’s favorite perfume scavenged from the en suite bathroom.

That was four hours ago. He’d watched the clock. She’d only asked for two, so he had been rather proud of himself for waiting, but as much as he was happy to have her consent, he truly didn’t want to cause her harm, and he could tell how exhausted she was. But she nodded eagerly in response to his question, lifting that perfect round bottom and splaying her legs wider for him.

“Yes, please.”

Her desire sent more moisture to ease their joining, he could taste it, hot and sweet in the air, but he tested her with a finger first, carefully easing it in and listening to her breathing catch. He worked it in and out, in a slow rhythm, and Rey breathed out an eager sound.

“Okay?”

“Mmm… yes.” She moved around him, her walls contracting against his finger, and he took this as an invitation to add another, stretching her while he pressed warm, sloppy kisses to her thighs and round, soft cheeks. He couldn’t stop himself from nibbling on her taut skin, and Rey gasped at the touch of his teeth.

“Sorry.”

“Are you really?” Her body twitched as she laughed. “Nevermind, it’s okay. You just surprised me.”

“Hmm,” he tested her with another gentle gnawing just where her thigh met the curve of her backside, and this time she moaned in a more pleasant tone. “You don’t seem to mind.”

“I like it when you bite,” she gasped as he added more pressure, sucking at the skin between his teeth. “Oh, fuck! Do that again!”

He did, and he felt her respond favorably, muscles clenching and pushing against his fingers, her hands digging into the sheet around her head.

“Ben!” His fingers slipped in and out of her easily now, and he growled low, excited at having discovered a whole new part of her body he could lick and mark and lay claim to. “Please… I’m ready for you, alpha.”

He had been waiting for such invitation, and he had to bite his tongue until his mouth flooded with a metallic taste to keep from just pounding her without mercy. Instead he channeled his need to dominate into firm slaps on her ass, enjoying the thoroughly surprised and aroused moans she made in response.

“Oh, Rey.” He groaned in relief as he sank into her slick heat, slowly pushing all the way inside and stilling to give her a light slap on each side with the flat of his palm. “You feel so good. I need you so bad, sweetheart.”

“I know,” she panted. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” He repeated in confusion. “For what?”

“I… I chased you away so I could rest…” She yelped as he brought his left hand down on her in two quick, hard slaps. “I deserve that.”

“Do you? Do you want me to punish you?” He leaned over her, growling against her ear, mouthing her soft skin with more nips as she tilted her head to expose her neck.

“Maybe a little.”

She snarled back at him when he bit down hard, digging his fingers into her hips and pulling her flush against him, a counterpoint to the slow, easy movements he was making within her. This way, he barely separated from her at all, just rocking his pelvis against her and letting his cock stroke deep and full while he sucked a bruise beneath her ear.

“I’ve never left you to endure a heat alone, even for a single hour,” he reminded her. “You chased me away. I’ve been watching the clock tick in the living room and fucking my hand for four hours . What sort of punishment do you think you deserve?”

“I wouldn’t know,” she snapped with a shake of her head. “Isn’t that your job?”

“Insolent bitch.”

The words were out of his mouth before he really realised they were there, and for a second he froze.

But then Rey whimpered, and he felt her shift and squeeze him, and his thinking mind was shoved into the passenger seat as his rutting alpha brain took over.

“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to fuck you like this, slow and gentle like you asked, for as long as I can stand it. Draw it out nice and long, maybe we can make it a full hour.”

“God, Ben, I don’t know -” He seized her hair, not pulling, just taking it in his hand, but she cut off anyway, waiting.

“Shhh,” he leaned down again to whisper, tugging her head to the side with the lightest pull. “I wasn’t done. You interrupted.”

“I’m sorry, alpha,” she breathed. He could feel her panting with desire and arousal beneath him, fighting to keep herself still, and he smiled, kissing her neck and ear with warm, soothing lips.

“You’re forgiven, this time. Now,” he continued. “I want you to be as still as you can and not make a single sound while I’m fucking you. Move, or make noise and…” He caressed her right ass cheek with a tender palm, then gave it a little, light slap. “The more you screw up, the harder I slap and the harder I fuck you. Got it, omega?”

Rey was still, perfect and motionless beneath him, but her chest heaved with the effort to control her breathing. Unexpectedly, he felt the light touch of her thoughts brushing his, her way of agreeing to his punishment without moving or making a noise.

“I need you to say yes out loud, Rey. Just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will suffice.”

“Yes,” agreed in a clear voice, and he smiled at the crisp consonants.

Asking Rey to be silent during sex when she wasn’t overanxious and in heat was very nearly a punishment for him as well, but he was making this shit up on the spot, and he didn’t have a lot to work with.

“Good,” he purred, releasing her hair and letting it spill over her shoulders, away from the firm hand he placed in the center of her back, holding her steady.

Kylo watched the digital clock on the cable box beneath the TV, keeping half his attention on counting out each minute so he didn’t have to fight as hard to maintain his painfully slow thrusts. Just being inside her was a delight all its own, although his body ached with the impetus to move and his cock twitched each time he felt her walls tense and pulse.

It was an impressive five minutes before he caught her hands flexing in the crumpled up sheets, and he made a tsking sound with his tongue, leaning over her to twine his fingers through hers and move her hands where he could hold them still beside her head.

“I said no movements, Rey. None.” A soft exhalation was her only response, stopping just short of a vocalization, but he felt her tense up in expectation, though her fingers went lax. “Good girl. I’m going to spank you now, twice. I want you to count to three.”

Fuck! This would be a lot easier if she wasn’t so goddamn responsive to being punished. “God, you’re wet already. Count, sweetheart.”

“One.”

Her voice was cool and clear. Almost amused, he thought.

“Two.”

She tensed, but he couldn’t fault her for her instincts. He probably would have done the same.

“Three.”

The first slap evoked nothing but a tightening of her muscles. The second drew a very faint mewl, but he pretended not to notice, instead massaging the redness he left on her skin soothingly.

“Good.” He gripped her hips again, edging into slightly harder, firmer thrusts. “Tell me if this is too much, Rey.”

Again, he sensed her hesitation, then the soft touch of her mind. This time he could feel her pleasure clearly, as well as the increased slick between them, and he grunted in satisfaction, seeking out the clock again.

He had been way to confident in his ability to hold steady, he realised, but he couldn't go back on his word now. The downtime in a rut was almost nonexistent. Could he hold out his knot and come in her twice?Once the idea occurred to him, he couldn’t let it go, and eventually he cursed, pulling out entirely to cool off.

“I want to come inside you twice.” He half-mumbled. “I won’t knot you the first time. You know how fast it comes back when we’re like this. Tell me no, Rey. Yes or no.”

He looked up to see her face, where she lay on the pile of pillows with her arms beneath her, looking unreasonably relaxed though her muscles twitched and her chest quaked with the effort of each breath. Her eyes were still, somehow, regarding him with a touch of amusement sparkling around her wide pupils.

“‘Yes or no?’” She gave a slight shake of her head. “You’re ridiculous. The answer is yes, but before you ruin me, check my bag in the bathroom. Renata gave me some of that… stuff.” He made a face and she giggled. “Don’t worry, it’s unopened. Also, I’d like you to get your handcuffs, please.”

He stared at his mate as if she’d grown horns. Heat Rey was so anxious and needful, she melded so perfectly with his rut the last time, he forgot that she wasn’t going to bend for him the same way now. No, his Rey might be an omega, but she certainly wasn’t bending for him, giving him orders and watching him with that confidant, slightly condescending smile.

“Go on, what are you waiting for?”

“I don’t know,” he shook himself, scrambling to get the things she’d asked for - politely demanded, really - returning to let her cuff him, draping the small cord with the key around her neck.

“I can’t really spank you like this,” he pointed out.

“We’ll save it for another time. I’ll just have to keep a count of what I owe you.” He watched as she settled herself back down, wriggling to get comfortable and then jerking her lovely ass expectantly. “Come on!”

“Silent and still. And you’d better remember what you owe me,” he said, confidently positioning himself with a helpful bit of bottled lubrication. “Ready? Yes or -”

“Yes, alpha.”

He slid into her welcoming heat so smoothly he almost climaxed on the first thrust, but he gathered himself, intent on seeing how well she would keep still in the heights of her own pleasure.

Of course, Kylo should not have been surprised to find her tensed and shaking, sweat pooling on her neck and the small of her back, determined to keep as silent and still as possible while he drove into her, harder for each little betraying whimper, until her control snapped like a broken wire. She came hard , with a beautiful, broken sob that pulled him with her, his low moan triumphant and feral, overwhelming her quiet, desperate gasps.

Rey’s small body shivered beneath him, and her muscles refused to hold her up any longer after such abuse. She collapsed with a little, pained moan, and something about it struck him the wrong way. Even in his post-orgasmic haze, the alpha in him recognized a sound of true distress, and he was glad he’d stopped himself from knotting as he quickly pulled her onto her back and saw the glassy look of fear in her eyes.

Instinct took him over and he jumped to his feet, slightly dizzy but ready to defend her against whatever it was that had her frightened. But as he calmed and gathered his wits, not seeing any immediate threats, noting the bedroom door was still locked and he didn’t hear anything beyond the sounds of their ragged breathing, he turned back to Rey worriedly.

“Sweetheart, what is it? You look terrified.” She reached for him desperately and he went immediately, pulling her into his arms and making soothing nonsense noises.

“I need -” she swallowed, looking around again, and he was struck by another wave of fear-scent from her. Which couldn’t be right, he was right here. Was she afraid of him? Had he hurt her?

“Rey? Did I hurt you? Are you alright?”

“No, you didn’t… I need my medicine. In my bag.” He hands fumbled with key to his handcuffs, and after several shaky, frustrated attempts, she was a sobbing mess. “I can’t - I’m sorry -”

“It’s alright, Rey, hush. I’ll just Change, okay?”

Changing was dangerous during a hormonal phase, but Kylo knew himself well enough to trust that he would be fine for the few seconds it took. With a rush of air and a shake of thick black fur, he was free of the handcuffs and dashing to the bathroom, easily regaining his human form without incident. Rey’s bag was full of crap, and he dumped the whole thing unceremoniously on the countertop, grabbing the prescription bottle and running her a glass of water from the tap.

She was curled up between the bed and the wall when he returned to the room, wrapped up in his discarded shirt and the comforter from the bed, eyes wide and frantic.

“Kylo?” She inhaled as he came towards her. “Where did you go?”

“To get your pills.” He sat on the opposite side of the bed, reaching across to hold out one of the little white tablets and the water cup. “Here.”

Rey eyed his hand warrily and he rattled off a flurry of mental curses. Completely forgetting that she was telepathic, and in her state of terror, her shields were completely nonexistent. The look in her eyes shot him clear through the chest, and he quickly withdrew, concentrating on his deep and unfaltering adoration of her instead of his worries.

“Shhh… I love you, Rey. I’m not here to hurt you.” He caught sight of his flannel draped around her and smiled. “You’re wearing my shirt.”

“I like it. It smells safe,” she defended.

“I smell like that, too, sweetheart.” He put the water down on the bedside table and extended his wrist for her to smell. “See? Go ahead.”

Tentatively, she edged forward, just far enough to nose his fingers, and Kylo breathed a sigh of relief when her whole demeanor changed. Her eyes fell on the mating scar on his wrist and she leaned into him, lapping at it with tentative strokes of her small tongue.

“Oh.” She looked around her, still unwilling to crawl out of the nest she’d made of the sheets and blanket, though she had thankfully accepted him. “Will you come hold me?”

“I can’t fit down there, Rey, but if you take your pill, I’ll figure out something.”

He was more than concerned about the extent of her nesting behavior, and the way she acted mistrustful even of him, but Kylo couldn’t risk her picking that up so he buried it as deeply as he could. Instead he visualized holding her, wrapping his arms around her smaller body and the pleasure of tucking his face into her neck and repeated the image like a mantra.

“You promise to hold me?”

“Absolutely.”

Nodding, she leaned forward and opened her mouth, and he quickly grabbed the pill and put it on her tongue, holding out the water for her to sip as well. Apparently in her panic she had reverted to very deep-set, animalistic nesting behavior, and while he’d seen her have an attack once before, it was nothing like this. This was something else, something he intended to call Dr. Holdo about as soon as he got Rey back to being a functional human being.

He had to shove aside half the furniture in the room, handing over all the pillows and blankets and bedding at Rey’s demand, until she was satisfied with her nest and he was sure there was room for him.

“Okay.” She gave him a quick nod. “I need my mate now.”

He folded himself up behind her in the cramped space, tucking her against his chest with his legs bent around her, and resigned himself to an aching back and knees (and cock, but that was an afterthought at this point) until she was snoring heavily in his arms. Then, and only then, did he stretch himself across the mattress to grab her phone, tossed there while he was moving the bed, and find Renata’s number.

Text back, I have a silent 911.

 

Wtf??

 

Rey had the worst panic attack I’ve ever seen.

Just got her to sleep.

I am sitting on the floor between the bed and the wall with all the bedding down here with us. Help.

 

You sure she’s not knocked up?

 

Possible, but unlikely.

She doesn’t smell like it.

Unless it happened like fifteen minutes ago.

 

Fuck.

Wait.

During?

 

After. Sort of.

 

Ok, no details.

I paged Amilyn.

 

It was two hours before he got a response, and Kylo dozed fitfully, aware of every slight movement Rey made, every vague noise of sleep she made. He grabbed the phone the second it vibrated, knowing if he could feel it buzz across the floor then so could she.

 

Solo. What did you do to that poor girl?

 

Nothing. She was fine.

That’s not how panic works!

There’s no cause I can think of.

 

She used her wild magic? Magic takes a toll.

I assume it worked the way she described.

How many times have you had sex in the last 24 hours?

 

He started to count, glancing at the time, and realized he might have, actually, fucked up. Rey wouldn’t blame him, he wasn’t in an entirely sane state of mind, but he was older by almost a decade and had far more experience in the realm of magic than his young, overconfident mate.

Kylo raked a hand down his face, eyeing the text conversation and trying to come up with an accurate answer. Assuming everything that might count, although it had been more than twenty-four hours since she cast her spell, they hadn’t done a lot of sleeping… or eating… or…

 

Fuck.

Just send someone to drive use to the hospital.

She might be dehydrated.

I didn’t realize…

 

You will BOTH prepare to be admitted overnight!

Unless you fed and watered yourself and neglected your omega.

I know you didn’t, Solo.

 

“Fuck!” Rey stirred in his arms at the sound of his voice, blinking up at him in confusion as she took in their state of disarray. “Shh, sweetheart, it’s okay.”

“Why are we… on the floor?” She looked around, and Kylo sighed in relief to see some sense come back into her eyes, though Rey looked thoroughly embarrassed. “I… I made a pillow fort, didn’t I? Brilliant. Brilliant, Rey, yeah… Just… Fucking amazing, really.”

“Stop that.” He could sense her train of thought, apparently she hadn’t gathered her wits enough to cut him off, and he tightened his arms around her fiercely. “Don’t you dare run from me. We both fucked up, it’s a little embarrassing, yeah, but we’re going to get through it, okay?”

“Excuse me? What exactly have you done, Ben?” She gestured at the room around them. “Alphas don’t resort to panic-induced nesting last I checked.”

She seemed to notice he’d moved the furniture to get close to her, and paused her tirade, gazing up at him in unfounded awe. “Did you… did you climb in here to be with me?”

“Well, you wouldn’t come out and you wanted me to hold you, so… Is there something else I should have done? Rey?” He could see tears forming on her dark lashes and leaned around her, desperate to catch her expression. “Rey, baby, sweetheart, what is it? What can I do?”

“N-Nothing, you -” She wriggled free of his hold, only to turn and throw her arms around his neck, sobbing openly, her slim shoulders shaking. “Ben. You’re - you’re perfect - how did you know?”

“How did I know what?” He was completely lost, searching for a reason for her to be crying when her tone of voice was so overwhelmingly happy. “Why are you crying, baby?”

You stayed. ” She nestled her head against his shoulder again, practically radiating contentment. “ Ben.

 

Rey was asleep again when his mother and very hesitant Ishida Noel arrived, Leia unlocking the bedroom door and going to the living room while he hurried into his jeans and sneakers after searching fruitlessly for socks and underwear and giving up. He found Rey’s panties at least, and managed to get her roused enough to put them on and actually get her arms through the sleeves of his shirt so he could button it.

He wrapped her in the bed sheet and blanket, hoping the scent would comfort her if she awoke in a strange car (and not giving a damn how his mother or Ishida felt about it), and quickly stuffed the rest of their necessities in Rey’s bag before climbing into the backseat of his mother’s Land Rover.

He wanted to hold her, but safety necessitated otherwise, although he kept one hand somewhere on her at all times during the slow drive to the hospital.

“I called Dr. Kanata,” Ishida told him quietly. “Holdo is busy with her research and Renata’s care, and you don’t really need a gene therapist to be treated for exhaustion and dehydration.”

“That’s fine.”

“I trust Maz,” Leia said warmly. “She was an old friend of Han’s -”

“Yeah, that’s great, Mom, but half the country knows Han Solo, I’m sure they weren’t BFFs forever.”

“I was just trying to make conversation,” Leia retorted. “Honestly, you kids! I can’t believe you’d do something so stupid! Did you even open the refrigerator, Benjamin? It’s not like you were stranded in the desert!”

“Oh, thanks, I wasn’t feel guilty enough, that extra topping really kicked it up a notch! Do you think before you say things, Leia?” He was angry at himself, but couldn’t let it out for fear of upsetting Rey, now his mother had kindly offered herself as an outlet and he was too stressed not to take the opportunity to vent some steam. “I’m sure the perfect Han Solo never did any drugs or overextended himself on stage, you never took that trip to Tahoe where Chewie had to come bail you out of a snowstorm, no nothing like that ever!”

“It was a blizzard, Ben, we were there for five days with no power -”

“They had weather forecasts in the ‘80’s, Leia!”

“Will you stop calling me that?! I am your mother ! I almost died giving birth to you!” Her knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. “We tried so hard to have another baby, your father wanted a girl so badly and it’s risky for an alpha to get pregnant - I had three miscarriages -”

“Good! I’m glad you didn’t bring any more kids into the world to fuck up!”

That was probably too far, but fuck it. The woman was harboring a potential fucking terrorist because he happened to be her precious twin brother, and all she would tell him was to make his preparations and have faith.

“HOW DARE YOU!!” Her beringed hand clenched into a fist, waving threateningly. “When we get out of this car I will slap you to pieces, you ungrateful little brat! Sometimes I wish you’d been someone else's kid!”

“ME, TOO!!”

“If you’re both quite finished,” Rey said in her iciest tone. “Leia, you missed the exit. And Ben, I don’t ever want to hear you say that again. I’m very glad you’re alive, and I’m grateful to whatever circumstances brought you into existence.”

“Well, shit!” Leia looked around at the interstate signs irritably. “How in Hell do I get back to -”

“Just take the next exit and go up two blocks, then make a left at the light,” Kylo directed, perfectly calmly.

Having hurt each other as much as possible, they were both left somber and quiet, the anger leeched out as the shock of the verbal battle resounded through the car.

“Thank you," Leia offered politely.

"You're welcome. I'm sorry. Mother." 

She sighed, gently resting her forehead against the steering wheel as they waited at an intersection, gathering herself with deep breaths.

"I know, son. For what it's worth, so am I."

"Thank you."

 

Chapter Text

Of course, the first thing she sensed was Kylo, his agitated scent and scathing tone biting through whatever sedative the emergency room had given her.

“Where the hell is -”

“I’m right here,” Rey mumbled, forcing her eyes to open. Her head was absolutely pounding , a side effect of dehydration she remembered from being locked in a room for unbearably long hours as a young child. “Ben -”

There was light, too much of it, and it took her a moment to realise he was holding his hand out to her, though something about it seemed odd. Rey took it, frowning, and grunted as Kylo’s considerable strength hauled her to her feet, his hand sliding around her waist to steady her as she stumbled.

“Where are we? This isn’t the hospital…”

Blinking, she looked around, trying to make sense of the strange, but hauntingly familiar setting, the light bright, but too white to be sunlight, reflecting off of thick mists rolling over a dark flooring… Moving her feet, she noticed she was barefoot, and her toes slid on a caving surface that she recognized to be sand. Black sand.

“Are you alright?” Kylo eyed her worriedly and she nodded, but grabbed his hand as he made as if to let go of her. “I think this is part of the spirit world. I’ve never been here with someone else, though. Unless you’re just a dream.”

“If you were dreaming of me, I have a feeling I’d be wearing something besides jeans and your old shirt,” she smirked at his raised eyebrow. “Or maybe just the shirt.”

He stepped in closer, eyes dropping from her face to trail down over her lips and neck, and his hands found the hem of her shirt hungrily. “Well, if it is a dream -”

“Whoa, whoa, okay - it is a dream, but you’re not alone, kids!”

Rey flushed as she saw the roguish young man walking up behind Kylo, one hand scrubbing through his rumpled blond hair in a familiar gesture that made her smile inwardly.

“Sorry to shut you down, but we need to talk,” Anakin explained as Kylo turned on his heel to face him. Perhaps unconsciously, he had placed himself solidly between his grandfather and Rey, and Anakin Skywalker chuckled. “I’m not going to attack, Ben.”

“It’s Kylo -” He glowered as his grandfather waved him away and cut him off.

“Okay, sure, Kylo.” He nodded at Rey. “Nice to see you again. I take it he’s treating you alright?”

“What’s that supposed to mean? Of course , I’m treating her well!” Kylo started to snarl, stopping only because Rey elbowed him sharply in the ribs as she came to stand beside him.

“Stop it, you’re wasting time.” She nodded to Anakin in a friendly greeting, but remained at her mate’s side, if only for his comfort. “I suppose there’s something you want to say to us?”

“Ah. Well, yes, actually.” He responded to Rey taking charge of their meeting about as well as Kylo would have, his expression startled and slightly confused, but he gathered himself quickly. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but you need to work with Leia. At least for now. I won’t deny, she’s done her share of misdeeds, but -”

Misdeeds? She left me alone in the house with Luke when I was just a kid! I assume you know what happened there!” He started to cross his arms, but gave in when she insisted on taking his hand, though he held on a little tightly. “Luke attacked me. Her own son! And she still protected him - she’s protecting him now, although I guess you know that.”

“Kylo,” Anakin sighed, gesturing to the same fallen log nearby that Rey and Padmè had visited on while she was in limbo after Hux tried to kill her. “Will you just sit for a minute?”

“Fine. But I am not apologizing to her -”

“And I’m not asking you to.” Kylo sat, pulling Rey down beside him, and Anakin leaned up against a higher part of the tree on his other side. “That’s your right. Your mother should know, she never forgave me, either.”

“You didn’t know her. What was there to forgive?”

“Well, for one thing, it was my meddling that resulted in your grandmother’s death. I’ve never forgiven myself for that, though, so I don’t expect Leia will.” He frowned slightly. “Luke seemed to, but… It’s hard to know what goes on in that man’s head -”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Poor, pitiful Luke -”

“You don’t know his history, you can’t imagine what his life has been like -”

“I don’t care! Jesus Christ, I hate this family,” with a firm push, Kylo threw himself to his feet, turning to face his grandfather with his back to the swirling mists around them. “You’re all fucking insane, you know that?”

“Hmm,” Anakin was wisely silent, but his expression held a clear response that made Rey’s eyes roll.

“You’re both ridiculous. I can’t fathom how there’s enough room in your heads for all that alpha ego.” She crossed her arms, staring down Kylo and then Anakin. “Ben’s right, for the record, but you might as well finish what you brought us here to say.”

“Oh, she gets to call you Ben, but your family -”

“I SWEAR TO GOD, I WILL LEAVE RIGHT. FUCKING. NOW!!!!”

“Alright, alright!” The older Skywalker took a deep breath, one hand held over his eyes as if he needed darkness to help him think. “Look, despite giving him a place to live, Leia doesn’t trust Luke either. And if you know your mother - don’t look at me like that, I know you do - you know she’s good at scheming and organizing people. She’s a politician, it’s what they do. Whatever Luke does while he’s there, she’s got eyes and ears on him, trust me. And give her a little credit, she’s not stupid. She knows he’d smell a shapeshifter from a mile off, but she’s resourceful. Why use a shifter when she’s got a half a dozen loyal humans working under her?”

“Oh, sure! Like I trust that idiot Dameron to keep tabs on Luke? Please. You’re wasting our time,” Kylo sneered, but his volume had dropped considerably, and he nodded for Anakin to continue. “Is there anything else?”

“Rey’s magic.” She looked up when Anakin said her name, meeting his shadowed blue eyes, the same color as Luke Skywalker’s. “It may be wild-born, but anyone can learn it. There’s a bit of a trick to teaching it, but otherwise - your friend, the wildcat - her mate can learn it. If she’ll allow it, anyway…”

Kylo was chewing the inside of his cheek to keep from spitting out more aggression, Rey could tell from the way his shoulders hunched inward and tensed, but he kept his silence.

“What’s the trick?”

“You and he need to be in your wolf forms. You’ll have to sort of… put it into his head. Like you do when you speak telepathically.”

She nodded. That was simple enough, she knew from experience Ishida was somewhat easier to reach mentally than the others, and he had a talent for magic.

“Well, you can try and talk them into it, but you know…” Kylo blinked, then shook his head. “Nevermind. It’s none of my business.”

“Is there anything else?” Rey looked to Anakin, waiting for an answer, and he shook his head slightly.

“Not for you, there isn’t. I’d like to talk to my grandson alone for a while.”

“You sure about that, old man?” Said grandson scoffed, eyeing up Anakin like he was trying to decide if it was worth throwing the first punch.

“Okay, ‘like’ is the wrong word, but… Regardless of how you or I feel, we do need to talk, so get over it, kiddo.” He bowed his head once to Rey. “Thank you, for putting up with all of… us.”



Even under a haze of anti-anxiety medications, no creature with sensitive hearing and a keen nose could sleep for long in a hospital, with an IV in one hand, blood pressure cuff on the opposite arm, and a half-open door letting in all the light and sound from outside.

Rey slept fitfully for the first two hours after waking from the spirit dream, but she was wide awake after the tech came in to check their vitals, watching Ben snore softly, folded up on what looked like a very uncomfortable old floral-patterned couch, dragged as close to her bed as possible. His head had been resting against her arm when she woke, but she had since stuffed pillows under it and was now stroking her fingers soothingly through his tangled, unwashed hair. He had a needle in one of his large hands, attached to a second machine quietly dripping with a saline solution, and Rey wondered why he didn’t have his own bed.

Probably because the stubborn idiot had refused to leave her side, she reflected. A part of her was grateful for that, to see her alpha so intent on protecting her, and she had to admit, she most likely would have panicked if she woke up and he was gone. But she didn’t want to leave him in such an uncomfortable position, and tried valiantly to shake him awake so she could convince him to trade places with her.

“Ben? Kylo?”

Hey, idiot! Wake up!

Nothing. Either he and Anakin were having a very long heart-to-heart, or time moved very differently in the spirit world. She even tried tracing his ear with the barest edge of a finger, knowing how sensitive he was, but he only growled and his skin turned to fur under her hand, the soft velvet tip twitching wildly before resuming its human shape.

“I see you didn’t have any more luck than I did.” Rey looked up at the sound of Leia’s voice in the door, offering a faint smile in exchange for the coffee she set in front of her. “I hope you’re not pregnant, there’s just no point in decaf coffee.”

“I’m not,” she said simply, rather than explain the details. “Thank you.”

The ER doctor had given her a shot of suppressants and contraceptives even though she had an implant, after seeing the look of absolute horror on both their faces when she mentioned how fertile an alpha in rut could potentially be. She was somewhat uncomfortable now, the extra medication kick-starting her cycle with a vengeance, but it was better than waiting a week to find out if their biology had overruled their efforts.

“Do you want to sit?” She offered as Leia stood at the foot of her bed, looking torn and hesitant. “I don’t think he’s going to wake up.”

There was a wobbly little chair on the opposite side of the bed, beneath the powered-off television. Rey gestured at it with a nod, assuming her mate wouldn't want to share his seat, even while he slept, and Leia dragged it over closer so they could talk quietly.

“He won’t wake up until he's ready. I remember when he crashed like that as a boy, Han or Chewie had to carry him. There’s no moving him now.” She chuckled, settling herself into the small chair. “I don’t know how he does it. I’ve always been a light sleeper.”

“Most of the time, he is too,” Rey sighed. She was not about to mention Anakin’s little forced field trip for their dreaming selves, which she assumed was keeping him from waking. “But sometimes he just… won’t stop until his body overrules him.”

“That’s one way of putting it.” Leia eyed her son fondly, her expression soft now that he couldn’t immediately trigger her ire. “He was my shadow until he was about thirteen. We were never as close after his First Change. But before that, we were inseparable. Used to drive Han nuts.”

“What happened when he was thirteen?” Ben had said something about Luke attacking him when they were left alone, but she hadn’t had the chance to ask for details. “That seems a bit... early for it.”

“Ah. That was a bad year. My brother was… going through a hard time. The hospital wouldn’t release him without someone willing to take responsibility, so Han and I let Luke move in. It was only supposed to be temporary, until the therapists cleared him, but it ended up a lot longer than we’d intended.” Leia sipped her coffee, then peered down into the cup, gathering her thoughts. “I don’t really know what happened. Neither of them wanted to talk much. You know that snowstorm Ben mentioned in the car?”

Rey remembered almost every word of that conversation, so she nodded silently, hoping to encourage Leia to continue. Kylo never talked about his past beyond Snoke and Hux and to disparage Luke. The most she had picked up were bits and pieces of a life lived from one extreme to another between his famous, constantly arguing parents.

“Well… Ben was home on break for the holidays. We thought he would be okay for a few days, it was a big house and he had Chewie. Luke was living in the guest house out back, there was no reason for them to have to interact.” She looked up again, and Rey did her best to keep her expression neutral, though she had her own thoughts on that. “Of course we knew there would be some snow, but it was too late to cancel without paying for the first night, and Han hated to spend money he didn’t need to - we could have, you know, it’s not like we had to save every penny - he grew up poor, and I guess it never leaves you. So, we left Ben with plenty of money and food in the fridge and he had his games and all those books, and… He was thirteen. He didn’t really want our attention, even when we were around. I thought he would be fine for a few days.”

“And then you got stuck,” Rey said, remembering from the car. “Chewie came to get you, and Ben was home alone with Luke.”

“Luke had no reason to go in the house,” Leia said irritably. “But he was always like that, too curious for his own good, always trying to do what he thought was right, and push his morals on other people. He’d been involved with Anakin’s cult for a while then, but I had no idea… Of course, he had to try and convert my son.”

“What cult?” Rey frowned. Kylo had talked about Luke and his grandfather being involved in some shady genetic experiments in Russia, but he’d never mentioned any kind of… religion… involved. For that matter, neither had Anakin. “Your father started a cult?”

“Oh, yes. The Knights of Fenris. Fenris being their wolf-progenitor-god, from the Norse mythology. It’s making a come back, so I hear.”

Rey blinked. Was that where Kylo had gotten his ideas about calling his pack knights? A sort of rival order, working against the cultists?

She had heard of the Fenris-worshipping, pro-shapeshifter superiority nutcases, but mostly in a historical text, as they had been heavily involved behind the scenes of World War II. But Rey couldn't believe they were still in existence, and in America of all places! Had Luke himself started that? But no - the way he’d spoken made it sound like he hated alphas, and the Fenris cult held them in the highest regard. He must have had a change of heart in between, from one extreme to another.

Either way, she knew Ben would make it his mission to stop Luke for good this time, and Rey intended to fight by his side, knowing the others would as well. The Knights of Ren indeed.

She eyed Leia suspiciously.

“I’m sorry, but… why are you letting him stay there again? Clearly he’s still deeply disturbed and belongs in jail, or at the very least an in-patient psychiatric facility.” Her fingers tightened in the blanket around her, and she met Leia's alpha gaze unflinching. “What he did to Renata is just… I know she doesn’t exactly have a stellar record, but she put herself in danger for me and… I have no intention of letting him and whatever cult he's involved in get away with it.”

“I know. Believe me, I don’t either. I thought he’d finally seen the error of his ways,” she sighed, looking away in defeat. “When he first came to stay, it was apology after apology, and then he started reading my books, doing internet research on secondary genders and social conventions… I didn’t realized he’d just flipped from one side to another, with the same fanaticism. Now it’s ‘alpha male privilege is the real enemy’ and he’s on a crusade to end secondary gender presentation completely.”

Rey frowned, not sure how to respond to that revelation. Honestly, it sounded like a cause she might have sympathized with, had she not seen how violent and untested his methods were. Her eyes alighted on the coffee, and she sipped it, grateful for the excuse to cover up the lengthening break in conversation. But Leia Organa had been a politician and an alpha for far too long to overlook the meaning of her uncharacteristic pause.

“You agree with him,” she said darkly.

“No. I do think it’s a… I think shapeshifter society as whole has that issue, yes. But I don’t think using genetics to eliminate genders, or attacking alphas and omegas with dangerous cocktails of drugs is the answer, and I’d never give my child a vaccination against it.” She looked up, meeting Leia’s gaze again. “What happened when Ben was thirteen? What’s his version?”

“We drove all night to get back, we didn’t even stop other than to get gas. I was worried, you know, Chewie had warned Ben to stay away from Luke, but it was Han who really pushed us to get back.” She paused, her eyes focusing on where Rey’s fingers smoothed over her son’s head, almost enviously. “Ben was waiting for us in the garage. He had Han’s gun out, and he’d shoved the washing machine up against the interior door. I’ve never seen anyone so terrified in my life. He told us he’d seen his uncle going through my office late at night, talking to himself with notepads and weird cult pamphlets everywhere. He never confronted Luke, he just went back to his room and closed and locked the door, but he woke up again in the middle of the night. Luke was standing over his bed with a…”

“...a syringe.” Ben’s voice was hoarse, but clear.

One large hand came up to wrap around the hand in his hair, keeping a hold of it as he sat up to face his mother, his dark expression somewhat spoiled by the imprint of the pillows over his cheek.

“Say it, Mother. Your precious twin tried to test his home-brewed concoction on your thirteen-year-old son.”

“Yes, alright. He was standing over Ben with a syringe.” Leia sounded exhausted suddenly, but Rey couldn’t find it in her to sympathize much.

“What did you do?” She asked breathlessly. Kylo slipped an arm around her, pulling her as close as he could get her to his chest. “Ben?”

“I Changed. I don’t remember much after that. Luke’s lucky he survived.”

Rey almost wished he hadn’t, but her heart broke for the thirteen-year-old boy who would then have had to face the fact that he killed his own family member. Syringe or no, she knew Kylo well enough to understand the burden it would have left him with, regardless of whether or not he deemed it deserving.

“When I could think again, I was in my parents’ room. I guess it makes sense for a kid who’s just Changed for the first time, running to wherever smelled safe. I don’t know where Luke went. I just grabbed some of my dad’s clothes and his pistol and hid in the garage, praying my parents would get home before he found me.”

Rey could feel his jaw move as he swallowed down more hateful words, reining himself in, and she made a soft noise of comfort, laying her free hand against his chest.

Kylo glanced down with wide eyes, as if he’d forgotten she was there, or was maybe just surprised at the unfamiliar gesture, and kissed the top of her head firmly. “I was out there for hours, just waiting. I couldn’t really get to a phone or anything, and I was… miserable. Luke managed to get me with some of his… concoction, and I was sick and delirious.”

“The garage was a mess,” Leia added. “We had to have the whole thing redone. You destroyed Han’s Aston Martin.”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot the true tragedy of all the money I cost you.”

“Ben, please! That’s not what I -”

“Finish the story. Tell Rey what you did, when you came home and found your son had been poisoned by your own brother!” Kylo sounded slightly manic, although Rey didn’t blame him. She took a deep breath, opening her shields enough to sense his mind and projecting love and warmth and her unswerving loyalty, and his hand squeezed her hip in acknowledgment.

“Tell her,” he said in a calmer tone. “Please, Mother.”

“Alright, fine.” Leia inhaled again, not looking at either one of them, though Rey continued to watch her. “Han insisted he needed medical treatment, but… I was afraid of what would happen to Luke, if we gave the authorities Ben’s side of the story. We fought bitterly, I even tried to command him, but he and Chewie got Ben in the car and left. So I went to find Luke, and he told me… His version. That he heard noise from outside and came in to find Ben rampaging through the house. He gave him… something to calm him… but he was afraid to get too close to a newly-Changed alpha.”

“Right. Luke was afraid of me.” Kylo snorted. “That’s why I barricaded myself away from him. Sure.”

“I was trying to get him to tell me what the hell he gave you!” Leia rolled her eyes. “You and I used to be so close, do you remember that? And then one thing happened, and suddenly I might as well be the daughter of the devil -”

“Aren't you?” Kylo interrupted, his voice low. “Anakin Skywalker's gene meddling killed your mother, and you've never forgiven him. Even when Luke told you how he destroyed his own work to save his son - your precious twin - you never believed it. How is it you can forgive Luke so easily, and still hold a grudge against a dead man you've never met?”

“Anakin was vile, you have no idea - Luke is mentally ill!” Leia's voice took on a shrill edge, and Rey winced. “He needs me -”

“I needed you!” Kylo shouted back. “You've practically begged to be a part of my life for years, but whenever I let you in… you just fuck it up! Why can't you take my side for a single fucking second, Mother ?”

Rey could feel his lips moving, his breath hot on her scalp, and her heart ached at the pain she sensed in his heart. Everyone had warned her how dangerous this man was in his anger, but she had never seen it, or at least not the full-on meltdown he was supposedly capable of, and now she understood why. It wasn’t anger that made Ben Solo lash out, it was pain .

“Stop making this about sides!” Leia bit back, just as furiously. “Luke is my twin brother -”

“I am your son . You think I don't remember when we were close? I loved you. I trusted you,” he said in a halting whisper. “Do you think I wanted Han, or Chewie, or Dr. Kanata? I paced around in that garage, crying and half-crazy, and I kept telling myself ‘Mom will be home soon.’ “Mom will protect me. She won’t let Luke near me ever again.’ ‘I just have to wait for my mother .’ And what did you do? You left me with Han, and went straight to Luke. You abandoned me!”

Leia made a small sound, a sort of shuddering whine, and Rey realised she was sobbing, her weathered, beringed hands covering her face.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Ben - I made a mistake. I don't know what else there is to say! Please -”

“No. Just leave. I don't want to do this right now.”

His mother only nodded, getting up from her chair and quietly gathering her coat and purse and coffee, still crying softly and she glanced up at Rey.

“You’ll let me know when you get home?”

“I’ll text you.”

She paused at the door, looking back over them both, and Rey met her gaze unflinchingly, keeping her expression neutral, but unsympathetic.

“Thanks for the coffee, Leia,” she said with a little wave, reminding her that she was in the act of leaving.

“Of course.”

Leia nodded, blinking back tears, and made her escape, pulling the door closed behind her. Rey braced herself as much as she could against the onslaught of emotion coming from her mate, the raw scent of old wounds, rage and betrayal and disgust, pouring from him alongside the tears.

She said nothing, both because there was nothing to say and because she didn’t need to. She just held him, stroking his face and hair, making soothing noises, letting him bury his nose and face in her hair and inhale her scent. Slowly, the sobs ceased, but he trembled still, his mouth opening on her neck and licking, sucking, biting .

“Ben!” She hissed in pain.

“Sorry,” he mumbled his apology even as he licked at the wound, still sore and sensitive from the day before when he’d taken her so roughly under the effects of her spell. “I didn’t think about it… I just…”

“I know,” she whispered into his hair. “God, how did we even find each other? I know I’m possessive and needy, but…”

“You're not nearly as bad as I am.” He chuckled. “And to be completely honest… I love it, Rey. I love hearing you defend me, how you always know when I need you to soothe me, the way you whine and grab me when I try to get out of bed before you're awake...”

“Do I really? Whine and grab at you?”

“It's really… sweet, actually.” He pulled away from her neck to lock eyes with her. “Sometimes I worry that you're not as invested in this - I know, I know, it's stupid - but then you do these little things and I think maybe you're the only person in the world who really gets it.”

“Yeah, I do. I’m not going anywhere, Ben.” She smiled as he looked up at her, eyes red and damp, her blood still on his lips, watching her speak. Rey felt his need, sensed his spiking self-doubt, and seized his head in both hands, clawed fingers digging into his scalp as she stared into his wide eyes. “You’re mine. I haven’t had much in my life that was completely mine, so of course I’m a bit protective. Your mother may be my boss, I may respect her work, but she abandoned you and that’s unforgivable in my book. If she can't forgive Anakin, she has no right to ask for forgiveness from you.”

Understanding spread over his face and he relaxed visibly, lowering his head to press his forehead against hers. “Do you hear me, Ben Solo? You do not owe her anything. Not even a guilty conscience.”

“Okay,” he growled hoarsely. “Thank you… No one’s taken my side since…” Rey felt him breathe deeply and exhale. “Well, since my father died, really. I just assumed you’d want me to… try and make amends. Like everyone else.”

“No.” Rey shook her head firmly. “You were thirteen. She was your mother . I can’t believe… Who told you it was your job to make amends? For what?”

“I haven’t been very nice to her since. People always tell me I need to let it go, because she's my mother and I'll regret it.” He closed his eyes, biting the inside of his cheek again. “Especially after my father died. Luke showed up a lot more once my father wasn't there to make a scene. He apologized, of course. My mother insisted. That’s why I went to work for him. They thought… My family figured he’d cleaned up for good. Got a degree, started a respectable company...”

“And he led you straight to Snoke.”

“Basically.”

“I’m going to resign as soon as the Omega’s Ball is over,” Rey decided. “I still believe in your mother's work, but I don't think it's my place to be there. We can start our own company. Jacen and Renata need jobs, anyway.”

He snorted at that, but opened his eyes questioningly.

“You really want to? What about your visa?”

“I don’t need a work visa if my mate and husband is American,” she said in a hushed tone. “We can file our intentions and as long as we get married within the year -”

“Oh.”

“‘Oh?’” Rey raised her eyebrows. “Did you forget you proposed?”

“Ahh…”

She raised her hand, summoning the Skywalker klaive with a practiced ease and spinning it slowly in her grip.

“Remember this?”

“Yeah, I -”

“Miss Kenobi!”

The nurse had come in while they were distracted, her eyes wide with shock at the sight of them - Ben half on top of her already, his face close to hers and streaked with tears and blood - and Rey idly spinning the crackling silver-etched sword in one hand like a toy, her eyes feral and dark.

There was a clatter of dropped medicine, and then she was backing out of the room, calling for them to page Dr. Kanata immediately and cursing about all the damned shapeshifters and their need to constantly have sex in the worst places.

Rey snickered, sobering as he stared at the closed door, then shrugged and climbed on top of her, pressing heated kisses against her neck and reaching for the hem of her shirt. Hastily, she grabbed his hands, pulling them off of her with some effort.

“You might want to slow down there, big guy,” she said apologetically. “I’m not exactly open for business right now.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” He pushed up on his arms, his eyes wide and bewildered.

“You’re a pretty terrible werewolf if you can’t tell,” she smirked as he leaned closer, inhaling up against her sternum. “They gave me an emergency contraceptive.”

“Oh.”

“Anyway, Dr. Kanata would be very unhappy with us. Irresponsible fucking is what got us into this,” she shrugged, squirming out from under him. “You should have the bed, though. That couch was not made for an alpha werewolf.”

He let her talk him into settling down on the bed on his back, but pulled her down over him rather than allow her to lie on the couch.

“Ben -”

“Shh. We sleep like this all the time when you’re in heat,” he looked up at her pleadingly. “I just want you close.”

Unable to say no to that emotional entreaty, Rey did her best to curl up on his chest, her legs straddling his waist as he wrapped her firmly in an immovable embrace.

And promptly fell back asleep, snoring softly and warmer than the blazing sun.

Rey sighed and started practicing her shielding techniques, preparing herself for a long, uncomfortable night.

Chapter Text

 

“I cannot believe you would be such idiots,” Rose rolled her eyes from the visitor’s couch of Renata’s hospital room, where Rey and Kylo had gone as soon as Dr. Kanata cleared them for discharge. “Kylo I can sorta see, but Rey… Seriously! I expect better from you!”

“Oh, let them be,” Nat told her good-naturedly. “We’ve all had our experience with heat emergencies. That’s how I met Amilyn.”

“Oooh, I want to hear this,” Rose encouraged as she made room for Rey to sit beside her, taking an interest in the sleepy kittens visible through the mesh sides of the half-open carrier.

“Yeah, me too,” Kylo said unexpectedly from where he leaned against the wall. “The great, stoic ex-Hunter had a momentary lapse in judgment? Surely that’s never happened.”

“It wasn’t like that - she was trapped away from base for a couple of weeks, missed suppressants and - uhhh,” she coughed, glancing around at their attentive gazes, and took a long sip of her coffee. “I’m not supposed to be thinking along those lines, guys. Lay off.”

“Oh, so it’s a good story,” Rey teased. “I take it that means you took care of her?”

“Well, I - I mean, I’d never - Look, really, kids. I’ll tell you another time, okay?” She shook her head at the chorus of gentle teasing. “I promise, I owe you alright? Now tell us what happened with Rey’s magic.”

“Um. It worked?” Rey hazarded.

“Somewhat more than intended,” Kylo added with a suggestive smirk. “Apparently, it has its effects on the caster, as well.”

“I see.” Renata raised an eyebrow, glancing between the two of them, and Rey found herself blushing slightly in the growing silence. “So you can’t use it on me, then.”

“I don’t know, have you got hundreds of millions of dollars lying around somewhere, Argent?” Kylo smirked, but Rey froze, her wide eyes finding his immediately.

“Even if I did, I’m not insane,” Renata replied, clearly interpreting his comment as a joke, and Rey sighed inwardly in relief. “Have you seen the VIP room list? I’ve never even heard of some of those people.”

“Well, it’s a big convention, of course there’s going to be new people,” Rose pointed out. “I’m sure Elle is keeping a close eye on everyone.”

“Where do you think I got the list?” Nat gave Kylo a dark look. “Qi’ra’s on it. Ransolm Casterfo, too. You can bet either of them’s got the funds to bid on our girls here.”

“Casterfo’s not as bad as he seems,” Rose shrugged. “Not that I expect Finn to take any offers, although I can’t think of very many people I wouldn’t do for a hundred million dollars.”

“We need a better plan than just not accepting bids,” Rey spoke her thoughts out loud, drawing thoughtful expressions from Rose and Nat, and a stormy look from her mate. “If these people start throwing money around and no one is selling, it’s going to look like we’re just there to show off. Alpha pride can be pretty touchy.”

“I don’t care about their pride, there isn’t enough money in the world -”

“Yeah, yeah, we know, Solo,” Renata waved his declaration away. “But Rey has a point. If you don’t want to cause a scene, you need to have a ‘buyer’ already lined up. You and Finn could arrange it, I guess.”

“No one’s going to believe Finn has that kind of money,” Rose said quickly. “Besides, it’ll be obvious. It needs to be someone we’re not normally associated with…”

“I’ve got some friends coming in from out of town. Distant cousins, actually,” Nat suggested. “They’re Tribe members, so if they double-crossed me it’d be ugly.”

“I want to meet them first,” Kylo insisted. “And no one goes anywhere alone with strangers, unless we’re absolutely sure -”

“Alright, oh great and wise leader,” Rose snickered. “I’m sure Rey would wear a leash if you asked nicely.”

“I would not -”

“That’s not a bad idea.” Renata's eyes flashed with mirth. “Lots of people do it -”

No!

“We'll discuss it later,” Kylo said firmly, stubbornly avoiding Rey's dark glower. “Tell me about Jacen’s end of things.”

“Ehh…” Nat glanced at Rose, some unreadable look passing between them. “You should let Finn explain, he's the one who talked to them all.”

“I will. But I value your input,” he tilted his head slightly toward Rose. “No insults to Finn, but a good leader takes the time to consider every possible angle.”

“Hmm.” Again, the two cats shared a look, and Renata nodded at the younger woman encouragingly. “You work with Leia's people. You have the most experience out of all of us.”

“Rey works there, too.”

“Yeah, for six months,” Rey was quick to point out. “Besides, I only really know Poe Dameron and Snap Wexley.”

“You're friends with Dameron? Is he trustworthy?” Nat queried, eyes moving from Rose to Rey. “I don't want to see Jacen get hurt.”

“Jacen is dating Poe ?” She didn't mean to sound so shocked, and Rey instinctively brought her hand to cover her mouth. “Sorry, it's just - Poe's not - I mean, he's a decent guy, I guess, but -”

“You didn’t know he was gay?” Renata asked keenly.

“No, no,” Rey laughed. “As far as I know, Poe’s sexual preferences are ‘yes, please.’ I’m just surprised that he’s committed to anyone.”

“Yeah, he’s ummm…” Rose blushed, nodding in agreement with Rey. “He does have a reputation. I mean, he can do whatever he wants, it’s not our business -”

“Except it is now. Jacen is our pack,” Renata said firmly.

“No, it’s still their business,” Rey deflected. “We are not going to sit here and talk about Jacen’s private choices. Or Poe’s. I’m sorry, I had to no right to speak of him that way.”

“Well, at least we’ve been warned.” Kylo rolled his eyes. “More importantly, do you trust Poe Dameron to provide back up in the case of an emergency? Or is he going to be too busy getting head in a closet somewhere?”

“Kylo!”

“You’ve actually been to the Omega’s Ball, right?” Rose interrupted, before Rey could begin to scold him further. “It’s basically a giant orgy after the first day. Everyone’s going to be busy getting head in a closet. There are three emergency heat trailers in the parking lot with armed guards.”

Our armed guards now,” Renata smirked. “Ishida called in a favor from an independent security firm he did some magical wards for a few years ago.”

“You guys and your currency of favors,” Kylo pressed his lips together unhappily, but she just shrugged. “Which security firm?”

“Kaneshige.”

Kylo looked surprised, and a long look passed between the two friends, something that spoke of a history that Rey didn’t dare ask about.

“If you’re comfortable with them…” Kylo murmured quietly. “I won’t overrule it.”

“We need people we can trust. They’re professional and she runs a tight ship.” Renata fiddled absently with the black band of tungsten she still wore on her ring finger. “Besides, I won’t be there.”

“Wait, what?” Rose and Rey both spoke at the same time, and she favored them with a slight smile.

“Amilyn won’t release me, and since I’m still on probation and have to be under the eye of an omega at all times…” She shook her head, holding up her hands plaintively at the chorus of cursing and disbelief. “Hey, hey! Don’t yell at me, I didn’t plan to get poked by Skywalker’s poison.”

“Anakin told Rey the magic could be passed on…” Kylo began, gathering everyone’s attention. “We ah… had a shared dream,” he explained. “Sort of a vision, actually. But he told her she could put it in someone’s mind telepathically.”

“Specifically someone with a talent for magic,” Rey elaborated. “He mentioned Ishida, and I really think it would work.”

Renata drummed her fingers on the tray over her lap, her expression grim as she peered off into space for a long moment.

“You’re sure it won’t injure him in any way? He won’t switch genders permanently?”

“Yes, and no,” Rey replied to each question. “But it’s up to you.”

“The convention starts this weekend,” she said, glancing around the room before her eyes settled on the tiny pile of slumbering kittens behind the woven panels of their carrier. “That doesn’t give us a lot of time to think about it.”

“Call him,” Kylo said suddenly. He met Renata’s eyes as she looked up, a sympathetic expression on his face. “He cares about you, Nat. You know I wouldn’t bullshit about this.”

“Yeah, I know.” She studied the shiny new iPhone on her tray beside her ancient laptop and sighed. “Alright, get the fuck out, all of you. I need to think.”

 

 

It was after midnight, Rey and Kylo curled up alone on the living room couch, watching an old black-and-white horror flick after everyone else had gone to bed, when a firm knock on the door startled them. Rey got up to peek through the window while Kylo scrambled to clean up the half-eaten bowl of popcorn he’d dropped on the floor.

He nearly leapt out of his skin when she opened it without hesitation, a snarl of warning dying on his lips as he caught the scent of their late-night visitor. Instead, he stood still, inhaling the distinctive scent of jasmine and earl grey and tiger .

“I’m very sorry to bother you so late,” she was apologizing to Rey. “I’ve just… I’ve been at the hospital for the last several hours and I was going to go home and call you in the morning, but I realised I’d never be able to sleep.”

“It’s fine, Innara.” Rey shut the door behind her, looking pointed at Kylo. “Isn’t it?”

He tilted his head, eyeing the weretiger up and down. Her hair was frizzy and tangled, her eyes red and her face a mess of smeared and hastily-blotted make-up. Beneath her normal scent, she radiated omega distress.

“Kylo.” He turned when Rey said his name. “It’s alright if she comes in for a bit, isn’t it?”

“You’re going to help Renata?”

Emerald eyes, still glassy with tears, locked onto his for a brief moment before she looked away, head lowered submissively.

“Yes.” Innara sniffed, and Rey handed her a paper towel dampened at the kitchen sink. “If - if there’s a way - I can’t bare to see her suffer like that. I know I’ve been terrible to you all, and I’m sorry for that. I thought if I just pushed everyone away it would be easier, but… No matter what I do, I’m just miserable. So…” She wiped her eyes one last time, then fixed her gaze on Rey. “Please, teach me your magic. I know Ishida says he’s willing, and I’m glad he loves her, but… It’s not his place. You understand, don’t you, love? You’re an omega, too.”

“I…” Rey looked over at Kylo, some unreadable thought passing through her eyes that he wished he could overhear. She turned back to Innara and smiled, taking the other woman’s hand. “Actually, I do.”

“Again, I apologize… I’ve been a bit nasty to all of you and you didn’t deserve it.”

“We accept your apology,” Kylo said, finally deciding to speak. “You’re here now, when we need you. That’s all that matters.”

“Thank you.” She dipped her head towards him, and then to Rey.

“Don’t worry about it. Sit here for a minute and I’ll get you a blanket. You’ve got to be in totem form.” She effectively herded Kylo ahead of her into their bedroom, pulling herself up with her hands around his neck to give him an affectionate kiss. “Thank you for that.”

“For what? She apologized, she’s going to help to Renata.” He frowned. “What did you think I would say?”

“I hoped it would be that. But, you were so angry with them at first, and you might not have noticed, but you’re very protective of Nat.” She kissed him again, then began quickly undressing to take her wolf form, ducking away from his caressing eyes with a smirk. “Hold those thoughts for me. I’ll come back when it’s done.”

He watched her pad out of the room, the plush throw blanket from the bottom of their bed snagged between her teeth, then sat down slowly and retrieved his phone from the bedside table. There was a text message alert, unsurprisingly from Renata.

Don’t get pissed, Solo, but I’m taking my mates back. Damn wide-eyed omegas.

We agreed to table the kids discussion until my parole is over. Pretty sure Ishida orchestrated the kitten distraction to work on us both.

Kylo wasn’t in the least surprised about the last part. He’d assumed it was something like that as soon as she mentioned it was Ishida who brought them.

Innara’s here, he texted back. Ishida’s a clever bastard.

 

Well, fuck.

I don’t know what I expected.

 

Rey’s teaching her the wild magic.

I’d leave the lights on and chug some water, if I were you.

 

Haha. Thanks for the professional tip.

Btw, she wants to talk to your mother about adoption.

 

God help us all.