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The List

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Truth be told, Rey never minded spending her weekend nights in the computer lab.  Since the day she received her first laptop as a teenager, courtesy of her high school’s coding club, Rey has been hooked on computers. All the things they can do for her. All the things they can show her. All the paths they open up for her.

Rey has her scholarship because of her ability with computers.  She has her internship and future career in tech because of computers. She a part-time job fixing computers and because of it she can pay all her bills and has started buying milk and bread without checking the prices first. 

So Rey is not ashamed that she spends her weekend nights playing Star Wars: The Next Generation in the Science Center’s computer lab.  Her subscription is a small indulgence.  It harms no one.  She stays out of trouble.  It is relaxing.  She is good at it.

She’s just started to think that maybe, she is missing out on something.  She has started to think that because Finn has sexiled her from their apartment because Rose is coming over.  

It wasn’t like Finn had been a monk before.  He and Poe had been together for almost two years, and Poe slept over so often that Rey was half-serious when she joked about making him pay rent. 

And their apartment was a one-bedroom.  Finn paid more rent; he got the bedroom, and a door he could lock.  Rey slept on the futon in the main room, and she always slept like a log regardless of what noises Finn and Poe were making behind that closed door.  Finn and Poe’s low voices- the voices of her friends- felt like safety when she fell asleep.

But Finn and Poe didn’t want Rey around tonight because after seeming months of complicated negotiations, Rose was going to join Finn and Poe.  For sex.  Sex so complicated that they needed the entire apartment to figure it out.  Rey could only imagine.

Literally.

Rey could only imagine, because she’d never had any kind of sex at all, let alone complicated, triangular, multiplayer sex.  The closest she’d gotten was slow-dancing with Abe Rodriguez at the junior prom, when she was pretty sure he’d gotten a boner and excused himself mid-dance to go to the punch station and he didn’t speak to her again the rest of the evening. But she couldn’t be sure.  Maybe he’d just had a roll of Lifesavers in his pocket and got bored of dancing with her. 

In any event, the thought of what was happening back at her apartment- would they do it on her futon? She should have laid down some ground rules- gave her pause as she logged into her usual server. 

She checked her favorites list and saw that KyloRen was not logged in.  That was no surprise; if he were playing, he would have been at the other end of her row of PCs.  So she shrugged and picked up a few small-ish tasks.  He’d be there.  He always was this time on a Friday night.

Sure enough, after half an hour, Rey felt the shift in the air pressure as Ben came into the lab and settled his things in his usual spot.  

He didn’t greet her until he was logged in.

“Hey,” he said through the headset.

<KyloRen has joined.> her UI reported. 

“Hey you,” she responded companionably. 

“You want to pick up that new questline in Hoth?” he asked. 

Ben played every Friday and Saturday night from about 10 pm to…well, Rey wasn’t sure.  She always left first.  Rey was a night owl, but she liked to be in bed before 2 am so that she could wake up at a reasonable hour and not feel like she was wasting all the daylight.  Ben was an insomniac, and she got the feeling that he played MMOs just because there was nothing else open at night. He worked out, she knew that.  And he kept his grades up too, because he was in her Joint Educational Development Initiative program and due to graduate with his masters and bachelors of science in the following spring, at the same time as her.  But Rey played MMOs because she liked them, and she was disinclined to do any of the other things people did on Friday and Saturday nights.  She wasn’t sure if Ben’s motivations were the same.  

Before Finn started dating Poe, she came earlier and left earlier.  She used to spend more time watching the home improvement shows Finn loved back at their apartment.  But once Finn and Poe got together, Friday and Satursday nights became date nights, and Rey found reasons to stay out of the apartment and give them time alone. So she shifted her MMO time later, and started running into Ben Solo in the computer lab. 

He was already there and logged in the first time they played together.  She came in around 10 one Friday evening, and she saw the familiar UI over his shoulder as she slung her backpack off. 

At her happy sound of recognition, he swiveled around in his seat in an unsteady, abrupt motion. 

His face was shocked and nervous.  She didn’t recognize him until that moment, but of course they knew each other.  They were in the same program.  Most of the people in Joint-Ed were there for the hefty scholarship; the extra coursework was hardly worth it, otherwise.  But there were a few ring-snatchers who couldn’t resist signing up for the punishment even if someone else was covering their tuition, and Ben was one of those, she knew. 

It wasn’t that he bragged about it.  But his…friends?  She supposed they were his friends, for all that he didn’t seem to like them much.  His friends, Hux and Phasma, made it very clear that that they were in the program because they were just that hardcore, and not poor, like Finn and Rey.  

Hux, Phasma, and Ben presumably had other things to be doing with their weekends.  Like parties.  And buying things.  And oppressing the working class.  Not playing MMOs by themselves in the least-used computer lab in the building, the one that required swiping through two locked doors and climbing a set of stairs after the elevators shut down at 8 pm.  

So Ben looked shocked and nervous because he was afraid she was going to make fun of him for his hobby. It’s what Hux and Phasma would have done. 

But instead she smiled brightly at him and said, “Don’t be afraid, I play it too.”

That was two years ago, and 18 levels back.

Rey had been playing the same character, a Jedi knight named Kira, since this version had come out. Initially, Ben had played a darksider warrior named Lord Ren (because of course he did), but that limited their ability to raid together.  So without asking her, a month into their shared gaming weekends, he’d rolled a brand new Jedi scribe and started over completely so that they could go on the same raids. Which was really sweet.  So the next weekend, she brought him a sandwich. Because he was too skinny for how big he was, and food was her love language, Finn said. 

Rey wondered if her childhood was one long argument, then, if food was a love language, but she knew Ben liked her sandwiches because he always wolfed them down as soon as she unpacked them.  

So tonight she pulled her turkey, avocado, and sprouts out of her backpack and tossed one to him.  He caught it with his off-hand without looking up from his screen. 

“Yeah, we might as well. I’ve been ordered not to come back before 2, so let’s open it up,” she told him. 

“To your own apartment? That sucks,” he said absently.

They never really talked about anything personal, which had suited Rey just fine.  There wasn’t much personal about her that she cared to share, and it seemed wrong to pry into his private life when she wasn’t ready to reciprocate. 

“Yeah, but I’m glad my roommate manages a healthy sex life.  It keeps our apartment-wide average at a respectable level, and that’s what matters, right?”  she joked weakly.

Ben didn’t respond. She suppressed a sigh.  It was becoming more and more of a problem, to be honest.  Rey learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in her first year of university, and the concept made perfect sense to her.  All her life, she’d never been able to count on food, shelter, and safety long enough to think about any more complicated needs.  Placement of sex on the pyramid was something of a controversy, but it came, as Rey understood, after fulfillment of those fundamental prerequisites to staying alive.  Since Rey couldn’t count on the former, she never pursued the latter. 

But now that she had a lease, and a stipend, and a fridge full of perishable food (let’s not discuss the hidden hoard of canned soup and crackers under her futon), Rey caught herself following the curve of Finn’s back jean pocket, and the swell of Poe’s upper lip.  She was having…thoughts.  It was inappropriate.  They were her friends.  And they were definitely not going to add a fourth person to their difficult little arrangement; Rey needed to take her warm thoughts about all of them elsewhere. 

“If that’s so, my apartment is dragging down the city-wide average,” Ben finally responded. 

“Don’t you live alone?” Rey said. 

He sighed heavily. 

Oh.  

She sat up and peeked at him over the monitor.  Nobody looked good in the green-white glow of a computer screen, and it washed him to a luminescent white.  But Ben was looking better than he had two years ago.  He had contacts now.  He’d grown his hair out to mostly cover his big ears.  And he’d filled out that lanky frame a bit.  His long-sleeve thermals didn’t hang on his arms and chest any longer.  

“Really?” said Rey, still talking through her headset.   “You’re….big.”  

Why was that the word she chose?  She was glad he couldn’t see her behind her screen. 

“Oh, is that what women want?” he snarked at her.  “Let’s join that raid that leaves in three minutes. I have enough time to buff you.”

He was trying to change the subject back to the game, but something compelled Rey to follow the dangling thread of the conversation.

“Well, like 90% of porn dialogue would suggest that, yeah,” Rey said.

He snorted.  “I thought 90% of porn dialogue was like…” his voice abruptly trailed off before he could cop to whatever kind of porn he’d been watching. 

“It’s on my list,” Rey said firmly.  What had gotten into her?  Sexual liberation was catching on this evening. 

“Your list?” Ben said, finally cancelling out of the raid. 

“Yeah, you know, if I were ever going to…you know.  A list for what I’m looking for.  Theoretically.  Not actually. It’s a mental list.  For…you know.  The future. When I’m looking,” she babbled. These were not things she’d ever articulated before.

“What else is on the list?” he asked.

“Um,” she said.  “It’s really more like a to-do list.  Things I’ve never done.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t really have a social life. Since…I’m here.  In the computer lab.  But someday…I’ve been thinking.”

Ben was silent for a stretch of time.  Both of their sprites fidgeted on the screen.  “Yeah, me too,” he said.  “So what else?”  

Her cheeks burned.  He didn’t really expect her to answer, did he? All sorts of words she’d never heard anyone say out loud.  Fingering. Breast worship.  Cunnilingus.  Was that a thing that anyone ever said out loud? 

“Just, you know…sex. Sex acts.  Can we get going?” 

He didn’t point out that they’d missed their raid, and the next one wouldn’t start for another fifteen minutes.  But she flexed her hands, checked her gear unnecessarily, and browsed a few merchants who had absolutely nothing she wanted. 

After a few minutes, though, a chat window popped up.

KyloRen: <I want to see what’s on your list.>

She stilled.  Her heart thudded in her chest. 

KyloRen: <I’ll show you my list if you show me yours.>

ReyofSunshine:  <I told you, it’s more of a mental list.>

KyloRen: <Then write it down.>

ReyofSunshine: <Is yours saved on a thumb drive somewhere?>

KyloRen: <It’s more of a Pornhub.com search history, but I think I can convert it to Excel.>

She giggled.

ReyofSunshine: <Yours is probably way more advanced than mine. Mine would need to start with, like, intense hand-holding before it made its way up to mimes.>

ReyofSunshine: <Or whatever you’re into.  I don’t know why I immediately went to mimes.>

No response. 

ReyofSunshine: <Because I don’t think you’re into mimes.  And I said that because I figured nobody is.>

No response.

ReyofSunshine: <Unless you ARE into mimes, in which case that is absolutely fine, and that doesn’t hurt anyone, and you should totally try to have mime-sex someday.> 

KyloRen: <Wednesdays.>

“What?” Rey said over the headset.

KyloRen:  <Mime-sex is Wednesday.>

Rey laughed loudly at that.

ReyofSunshine: <OK, fair enough, but I think writing down my sex wish list is kind of pointless unless I’m going to do something about it.>

KyloRen: <So, do something about it.> 

ReyofSunshine: <What, like date?  Because that seems way more advanced than most stuff on the list.  Like, I’d have to buy new clothes.  And spend money.  And go on Tinder or something.> 

KyloRen:  <Why would you have to buy new clothes?>

ReyofSunshine: <Well, look at me.  Nobody’s going to go through the list with me dressed the way I am.> 

She looked down at her ensemble of 1) over-sized free t-shirt from a high-school math competition, 2) school sweatshirt (also free to incoming freshmen), and 3) plain black cotton leggings (washed nearly grey).  Athletic shoes capped off the look.  She called it the “I’m not naked” look, because that was the only good thing that could be said for it. 

KyloRen: <I would.>

Rey sucked in a deep breath. Her hands froze on the keyboard. Her fingers trembled a bit as she abruptly wondered how and where Ben had filled out over the past few years, and whether those beauty marks on his neck continued down his chest, and whether his hair was dark and full and wavy anywhere else and…

KyloRen: <I mean, if I were, hypothetically, on Tinder, I wouldn’t care what you were wearing.>

KyloRen:  <Although I’m not.  Since I don’t date, either.>

No, he was backing off. Hold on, Ben. 

ReyofSunshine: <Did you mean it?>

Another long pause. 

KyloRen:  <Mean what?>

“The list,” Rey said through her headset.

KyloRen:  <What about it?>

ReyofSunshine: <I’ll show you mine, you show me yours, and we’ll work through them.>

Long seconds tick by. They have missed the next raid now.

KyloRen:  <How would that work, exactly?> 

This was feeling like a doable project, all of a sudden.  Rey was good with logic and programming.  This was suddenly a problem to solve.  A prompt.

ReyofSunshine: <Let’s rank them.  And look for matches.  Maybe institute a veto procedure?  And some fuzzy logic to capture iterations of the same prompts…>

“Rey, do you mean…” Ben’s voice was soft and uncertain from the other side of the room. 

“You live alone, right?” Rey asked.  “We both have free time on Friday and Saturday nights between 10 and 2.”

“So, you want to….” His voice trailed off.

“You make that Excel spreadsheet,” she told him.  This was a project now.  She could do that.  “I’ll write the program tonight.  We’ll meet back here tomorrow, and see what the results are.”  

He finally stuck his head around the side of the monitor to look at her face, although his expression was unreadable.  He worked his jaw back and forth as he thought about it.

“And then?” he asked, speaking into his headset again.

“Next Friday and Saturday night…we start working though the lists.  According to the ranked-choice logic.”  

Rey logged out of Star Wars after that and started programming in SQL.  She already had a UI from a previous project that she could repurpose, and this wasn’t a very complicated database.  She found some fuzzy-logic language on the Internet, and had the program ready to test after just a couple of hours.

She wasn’t sure what Ben did during that time.  He didn’t talk to her, and she didn’t hear him talking to anyone else over the headset. Maybe he was downloading his Pornhub history, though the student network filter would probably block that. 

So instead she started working on her ranked list.

It was a little embarrassing that the first item on her list was “kissing.”  No.  She erased that.  “Making out,” she wrote.  No. That sounded like she was in tenth grade, when everyone else had crossed that item off their list.  “French kissing,” she wrote.  Surely any kind of kissing with Ben would be of the French variety.  He had nice lips.  Full. They looked soft. 

“Kissing,” she revised, then stared at row two.  

This was what was going to take a long time.  She had an ancient smartphone, but it barely got enough signal for her to coverly type in the web address of pornography website.  It felt like cheating, but she figured she could get some prompts from what everyone else was looking for.

After a few moments of scrolling through the lists most-watched videos on her phone (the thumbnails wouldn’t load, much less the video streams, but that was not the point), she was ready to add a few things to the list, but far, far down.

These were advanced. Maybe even physically impossible. Some required props.  Well, they did have a week.  Maybe Ben owned props. 

She stuck her head around the side of the monitor again.  His laptop bag was made of soft, pebbled leather.  There was a designer label on it, one she didn’t recognize. She had the vague idea that he came from money.  Maybe he had money to spend on sex toys. 

Maybe she should just put “the sexxx” on line two and leave it to him to fill in all the other prompts? 

No, that was cheating as well. 

Her cheeks flushed as she defiantly typed “oral sex” into row 2. 

No, that wasn’t specific enough.  

Would Ben want to…

“I can’t do this with you in the room,” she announced, standing up. 

“Oh,” he said, taking off his headset.  “Isn’t that going to make it difficult to actually execute on any of these ideas?”

“No, no,” Rey said. “This part is inherently solipsistic. This is about what each of us, separately wants.  We’ll talk about everything else tomorrow.  But I’m going to go down to the first-floor lab and work on my list.” 

He nodded at her, and she gathered her things. 

“Thanks for the sandwich,” he said as she left.  It was the same thing he always said.  She smiled as she went.

 *** 

Even in the company of several other computer users, finishing the list was much easier without Ben in the room.  She worked on it until 2 am, taking breaks to watch Netflix and covertly run more porn searches on her phone.  She thought she had a workable program.  If she and Ben could make it through even two or three items a weekend, they’d be able to work through the vast majority of the list before graduation, and she’d have to find someone else without a social life.  If it turned out she liked sex, that was.  She assumed she would.  Finn and Poe definitely devoted a great deal of their free time to it. 

She rode her bike the short distance to her apartment and carried it up the stairs.  She let herself in and hung her bike on its peg in the wall.  The apartment was dark and quiet.  She wondered how many people were behind Finn’s closed door.  She shrugged.  Maybe one of them knew how to make pancakes.  

She opened her laptop and scanned her e-mails while she brushed her teeth.

 

From:  B.Solo.2019@alderaan.edu

To: R.Jackson.2019@alderaan.edu

Re:  The List

 ________________________________

I finished mine.  I realized I don’t actually have your phone number. Tomorrow night at 10?

 

Very truly yours,

 

Benjamin Solo

M.S., B.S. Expected ‘19

 

Rey snorted at his signature block. 

 

From:  R.Jackson.2019@alderaan.edu 

To:  B.Solo.2019@alderaan.edu

Re: Re: The List

______________________________

same Bat-time, same Bat-place.

XO

Rey

 

***

The next evening, Ben was waiting for her when she walked into the computer lab at 10 on the dot. He was seated at his usual machine, headset on.  He wordlessly handed her a USB drive. 

“You didn’t want to attach it to an email?” she smirked at him.

“Who knows what kind of filters the university’s e-mail system uses,” he said blandly.  “I may run for high public office someday.”

“And you don’t want your future constituents to know about Mime-Sex Wednesdays, I get it,” Rey said.  

“Well, you can’t beat a mime for discretion,” Ben responded.  He waited a second.  “Literally. Because they don’t talk.” 

“Yeah, I got it the first time, Benjamin,” Rey drawled at him, taking her seat.  

She logged in and pulled up her program.  Then she opened his USB drive’s folder. 

“So, it’s the file labeled ‘2018.term.Greek.final.FINAL,’ right?” she said.

“No, it’s the one labeled ‘sex list,’” he said, refusing to be baited. 

“Right, right,” she muttered.  She dragged it to the importer.

“Moment of truth,” she said. “We’re about to find out what freaky shit we’re both into,” she warned him.

“Rey,” he said suddenly. “I don’t really care what’s on my list. We can just go off yours, if you want to.  It’s fine.  I’m sure whatever you want is fine with me.”

She snorted in laughter. “That’s a lot of trust, Solo. What if the first two items on my list are ‘pegging’ and ‘hentai?’”  Those two were alarmingly at the top of the women-centric hetero porn sites she’d browsed the previous evening.

“Then I’d say its such a lucky coincidence that my custom tentacle-dildo harness ships this week. You’ll be very pleased.”  

They both laughed at that. 

“Me?” she sputtered. “No, for you!”  

“Ohhhh,” Ben started to catch on.  “Then it sounds like we’ll both be pleased.” 

“Alright, alright,” she said.  “I appreciate the thought.  But the logic in the program assigns a score based on how high something appears on both of our lists.  So the first few things should both be things we both really want to do.” 

She heard him swallow hard. 

“Ok,” he said faintly.

She pressed the prompt that would return the highest-value match. 

<Kissing> the program returned. 

“Really?” Rey said, eyes flying open. 

“Oh God, it’s hentai, isn’t it,” Ben said. 

Rey laughed again.  “That must be really high on your list!” she said. “No, Ben, it’s just kissing.” 

“Oh,” he said, letting out a sigh of relief.  “That’s good. We’ll start small.” 

“I guess we aren’t going to need to, like, buy a bunch of toys or anything for next weekend, but really? That was high on your list?” 

“It seems pretty important,” he muttered. 

“Yeah, I agree, it was at the top of my list too, but…I thought there was no chance a guy was going to put that on a sex to-do list,” she said.

“It’s something I want to do,” he said simply.  “Something I want to be good at.”

She stood up and moved to the seat next to him.  His brown eyes were open and sincere as he watched her.  She couldn’t hide behind a screen anymore.  

She straddled the chair so she could fidget away her nervous energy as they spoke.  She couldn’t hide behind the screen any longer.  She needed to get used to being close to him.  To looking at him and being honest with him.  

“It’s not something you’ve done either?” she clarified.

He framed his face with his forefingers.  “You see what’s going on here,” he said.  “It’s not like I was more attractive to women when I weighed fifty pounds less and buzzed all my hair off for water polo.” 

“I don’t see anything wrong with your face,” she said honestly.  His features weren’t conventional, but they weren’t ugly.  And in the right angles and lights, sometimes she thought he was beautiful, she realized. 

She bit her lip, considering.  Then she stood up again and moved closer to him.  He regarded her nervously.

Bracing herself against his shoulder, she sat down sideways on his lap, knees together and feet dangling. 

He instinctively brought his arms around her to steady them, but then didn’t know where to rest his hands, so he clasped them in front of him.  This was fine. She’d sat in Finn’s lap, and Poe’s, if there wasn’t enough room on the futon and they all wanted to watch something on TV. 

She turned so their faces were only inches apart.

“Hey,” she said.

“Hey,” he said, more softly. 

“Are we really going to do this?” she asked him. 

His throat moved as he swallowed hard.  He shifted his jaw to the side, sticking his lower lip out in thought. 

“Kissing?” he finally asked.

She laughed softly.

“We could do that here, right now,” she pointed out.  “I mean the next item on the list.  Whatever it is.  The next week.  At your apartment.”  

“Maybe?” he breathed, watching her mouth.  She bridged the gap between them finally and just barely brushed her two closed lips against his bottom one.  His lips were much softer than she expected- probably softer than hers, since it was almost winter and she never had chapstick on her.  He smelled like peppermint breath mints and expensive hair products, and when he breathed she could feel the warmth on her upper lip. 

“I’m ok with maybe,” she said.  His pupils were wide and dark with arousal when he looked up at her.  She had a sudden misgiving that maybe, maybe she was playing with fire here.  Finn and Poe had lots of sex, but they loved each other.  And possibly Rose too.  She and Ben had a regular raiding schedule and a solid understanding of each other’s battle rhythms, but was that a good platform for a sexual relationship? 

Ben leaned forward and brushed his lips down the edge of her jaw, sucking in air as he went.

“You smell so good,” he whispered.  “I can always tell whenever you enter a room, because you smell so good.”

“Oh,” Rey said.  “It’s my conditioner, probably.  It’s vanilla.” 

He nodded and pressed his nose against the point of her jaw, blinking up at her.

This could work, she thought.

“E-mail me your apartment address,” she told him.  “I’ll be there next Friday at 10.  Do you still want to raid tonight?” 

He lifted his head in confusion as she hopped off his lap.  

“Uh, yeah.  Hoth?”  

“Sure thing.  Dread Master Lykas will never know what’s hit him.” 

And they didn’t discuss it again that evening.

Chapter Text

Moodboard

 

Ben sent her an e-mail with his apartment address the next day, but they otherwise did not interact for the rest of the week.  That wasn’t unusual.  They had a couple of classes together, but Rey sat with Finn in the front row, and Ben sat with his friends in the back. She occasionally fancied that she could feel his gaze on the back of her head, but of course she couldn’t very well turn around to see. 

The next Friday afternoon, Rey tried not to show her nerves while Finn and Poe stuffed chiles rellenos. She gathered that the previous weekend had gone well, and Rose was coming back over for dinner. 

“You can stay, you know,” Finn told her.  “We have plenty of food, and we’re just going to be hanging out tonight.”  

“Oh, no, it’s fine, I’ll get out of your hair,” Rey told him.  “I made other plans.  I don’t want to fourth-wheel it until you’re boring and out of things to talk about with each other again.”  

“Yeah, that’s definitely why we’re seeing Rose,” Finn told Poe.  “I’ve already heard all your stories.” 

Poe stuck his fingers under the hem of Finn’s shirt and tickled his ribs without looking up from the sauce he was stirring.  Finn flinched away, giggling. 

“Where are you headed?” Finn asked as Rey pulled her bike off the wall and stuffed her laptop into her backpack.  

“I’m going to go make out with Ben Solo at his apartment,” she told him.

He waved a hand at her.

“Fine, be mysterious,” he said.  

Ben’s apartment complex wasn’t far from her own, but it was about 30 years newer.  The place was well-lit and patrolled, so Rey locked her bike to the rack outside Ben’s unit. 

Ben’s apartment was on the third floor, so Rey took a moment after climbing up the stairs to check that her hair wasn’t flying out of its typical buns.  She had decided to take Ben at his word, and she hadn’t put on makeup or altered her usual mode of dress.  She figured comfortable clothes would be better for the evening’s agenda, and she really ought to save the single dress she owned for some item on the list that might require it.

Ben opened the door as soon as she knocked.  She was glad she hadn’t changed; Ben was in his usual thermal knits and dark jeans. His hair was wet and combed, as though he’d just stepped out of the shower.  

He had most of the lights off in his apartment beyond him; just the kitchen and a lamp were lit that Rey could see. 

“Hi Ben,” Rey said when he didn’t speak.  His expression was somewhere between terror and hunger.  She imagined hers was the same.   He lingered in the doorframe. 

“Can I come in?” she prodded him. 

“Of course,” he finally said, stepping aside.  

His apartment was similar in size and layout to Rey’s, but he had it to himself, and everything was much nicer than hers.  The floors were laminate stamped to look like tile and wood, not dingy carpet, as in Rey’s. The counters in his kitchen were real stone, and his appliances were stainless steel, instead of peeling black plastic.  He had a large television and a long black leather sofa in the living room.  Through a darkened doorway, Rey could see a bed with a neatly folded navy blue duvet.  Rey paused when she saw it, realizing that if things went as planned, she’d be losing her virginity on that bed within a few weeks.  

“Do you want a drink?” he asked her as she walked around the perimeter of the room.

“Sure, what do you have?” she asked, stopping to admire a slender gaming laptop docked before a pair of oversized monitors on a desk wedged in the breakfast nook.

Ben opened his fridge and peered into it for a long moment, his pale features illuminated by the yellow light within. 

“Um, water?” he said. “Or protein shakes?” 

“Water’s fine,” Rey said, moving into the living room.  Ben’s coffee table was an actual coffee table designed for the purpose.  She looked back into his kitchen.  The coffee table matched the desk. 

“It’s just from the Brita,” Ben said, following her to the living room and handing her a glass.     

“I’m not fancy,” Rey shrugged. 

They stood there for a moment, looking at each other.

“You’re not, like, a drug dealer are you?”  Rey asked him.

Ben blinked. “No.  Why would you ask that?”

Rey gestured around her. “You just have really nice stuff for a student who spends his free time playing MMOs with me.” 

Ben looked faintly embarrassed.  “My grandfather left some stuff to me in his will.” 

“Oh,” Rey said, embarrassed now.  She knew that she must have, in theory, biologically, had grandparents.  Four of them, even.  But they certainly hadn’t left her anything other than perhaps her shellfish allergy and crooked toes. 

Ben took a tentative step closer to her.   Rey was so rarely standing next to him.  When he was seated, he had a kind of stillness that made it easy to overlook how tall and broad he was.  But the room felt too small for him when he stood next to her.  His expressive brown eyes ticked back and forth as he studied her. 

“Do you want to sit down?” she blurted.

“Ok,” he said simply. 

When they were both seated on his couch, his knee just barely brushed her.  She leaned her own leg a bit against it, testing the pressure. He didn’t scoot away, but he looked over to the TV. 

“I could put something on,” he said, seemingly at a loss for his next move. 

Rey giggled.  “Netflix and chill, huh?” she asked.

“I have cable,” he said, slightly confused. 

“No, that’s just something people say when…” Rey trailed off.  “No, I mean, sure, whatever’s on is fine.”

Ben jutted his jaw to the left but pulled a remote from a drawer in the coffee table.  The TV flicked on to the SYFY channel.  Rey vaguely recognized a seventies space opera. That would do.  Rey grabbed the remote and turned the volume down until it was an incomprehensible murmur of background noise. 

“Right,” she said, gathering her resolve.  She turned to face Ben.  Even seated, he was half a head taller than her.  This was an awkward angle.   “Right,” she said again.  “Ready to move ahead with item one?” 

He lifted his eyebrows slightly.  “If you are,” he murmured. 

“Yes,” she said.  She had done her research.  Mostly YouTube videos of “50 Greatest Film Kisses.”  She wanted to kiss like Robin Wright in the Princess Bride.  The proper use of tongue was a problematic inquiry.   Opinions varied.  Rey decided she would systematically explore its use both in and out of her own mouth, and draw conclusions after rigorous sampling. 

She grabbed Ben’s shoulder and leaned in.  Halfway there, she realized that the angle simply would not work.  They might get their mouths in the same general area, but she would end up with a crick in her neck and he was going to get a mouth of her hairline. 

Ben reared back in confusion as she used her grip on his shirt to hoist herself up and over his lap until she knelt, straddling him, on the couch.

“Is this alright?” she asked him, taking in his wide eyes. 

“Yes,” he said, “but you can’t see the movie.” 

“Not actually here for the movie,” she reminded him, and finally leaned in to kiss him.

This angle was much better. Their faces were on the same level. There was minimal nose bumping. Finding his lips with hers was effortless.  And oh, they are soft.  She rubs her lips back and forth along his own just to enjoy the texture of them. 

Rey lifted her second hand and bunched it on Ben’s other shoulder.   She felt Ben’s hands link up behind her lower back, but he almost immediately dropped one and brought it up to cup the side of her face.  It was big and warm against her cheek, and she leaned into it. 

She opened her mouth and he matched her, but it seemed that neither wanted to be the first to take the next step.  Well, nothing ventured, she thought, and ran her tongue along his full lower lip. 

That provoked a reaction.  Ben made a little sound in the back of his throat and pulled her toward him by pressing his hand on the curve of her spine.  She slid further down his legs, spreading her own.  The boy had muscular thighs, and Rey suddenly wished she had gone to more of those hot yoga classes Finn liked, because there was a little burning stretch in her hips to accommodate the breadth of him.

Spoilers, she thought. 

Encouraged by that little noise, though, Rey traced his lips with the tip of her tongue before testing the edge of his lower teeth.  Ben gripped the side of her face tighter, until the pressure was almost painful. Rey didn’t think she minded, especially when she opened her eyes to peek at Ben and saw how hard he had his lids screwed shut.

It was even better, though, when he finally thrust his tongue into her mouth, grazing the roof. When she’d thought about it abstractly, having someone else’s tongue in her mouth had not sounded that appealing. Lips she liked.  Arms she liked.  Tongues and spit and teeth were neutral, at best.  But when actually twisting and pressing against her own, she found she liked them very much.  She liked sucking on his tongue.  She liked his breath on her face and the point of his nose digging into her cheek. She liked the taste of him.   It had to be pheromones, or something like that. 

She tried tilting her head to the other side, and decided she liked the first way best.  She tried kissing the corners and curves of his lips, and decided that was nice for variety.  She tried kissing Ben’s jaw and cheek and nose, but he kept chasing down her lips with his own and she couldn’t get a good read on whether she liked kissing him anywhere else or not. 

Then she remembered that she had hands she could use too.

She started putting those to use touching Ben in the places she’d stared at across the computer lab.  His wide shoulders.  His soft, thick, dark curls.  The delicate line of his jaw.  

Ben’s hand was rubbing up and down her back.   Rey was starting to feel a little warm, so she leaned away from him so that she could pull her sweatshirt off and toss it over her shoulder.  Ben’s eyes caught on the slice of her stomach below her t-shirt that her movement exposed. 

“Spoilers,” she whispered, and he smiled at her.   

 * * * 

Kissing was fun.  Rey was a little disappointed in herself for making it to 22 without having done very much of it at all.  She wasn’t sure, looking back at her life, who else she thought she should have been kissing, but she thought she could have been kissing Ben Solo a long time previous.  And probably enjoying Mime-Sex-Wednesdays by this point.  Rey felt like her body was an unused computer, turning on and running through system configuration for the first time. 

But that was all water under the bridge, and she was glad that her schedule now included kissing. It was only at the point where she thought she’d exhausted the places on and around Ben’s mouth she could kiss him that she finally decided to call for a break and get another glass of water. 

Ben’s face twisted oddly though when she rolled off of him, and when she looked down at where she’d been sitting, she could see why.  Apparently Ben tucked in the same direction she’d rolled, and the outline of his cock was clearly visible through his jeans. 

Ben followed her line of sight and reddened, looking away, muttering apologies.

“Sorry about that.”

Rey gulped down the rest of her water and wiped her face on her arm. 

“Don’t be sorry,” she said. “I mean, it’s a good thing.”

“How is losing control like a fourteen-year-old a good thing?” he said, still not meeting her eyes. 

Rey grinned at him. “You know, like that Mickey Mouse meme. It’s a surprise tool that will help us later?” 

At least the first four or five inches of it, she thought. The mechanics of the entire shape she could discern through the denim were a little daunting. 

Ben looked unconvinced. 

“Ben,” she said, getting on her knees and pulling him back to face her.  “Really.  Don’t worry. I feel it too.” 

He looked up at her doubtfully.  So she took a deep breath and grabbed the waistband of her leggings, shoving them down past her kneecaps.  She had on a nondescript pair of grey cotton bikini briefs underneath.  She hadn’t, after all, thought that anyone would see them but her. 

Still kneeling, she spread her legs until the quarter-sized wet spot in the front of her panties was visible.  She was too embarrassed to meet Ben’s eyes, so she shut her own.  

Voice a little shaky, she told him, “See?  Nothing to be worried about.”

After a few moments of listening to her own quick breathing, she opened her eyes just in time to see Ben reaching out one cautious finger to brush that tiny damp circle with a look of soft wonder on his face.  The pressure of his fingertip was almost too gentle to discern, but she gasped nonetheless. 

Spoilers, she thought again, hurriedly pulling up her leggings.  Ben pulled his hand back and balled his hands into tight fists. 

“So, you know,” she said, voice squeaky with adrenaline, “I think we should work on this more.  Item one.  Maybe tomorrow?  If you’re not doing anything else tomorrow?”

“I’m free,” he said, with forced casualness. 

“That’s good. Good.  Like you said.  Kissing is very important,” Rey babbled. 

Ben nodded, looking away for a moment.

“What’s after that?” he asked. 

Oh.  He didn’t know.   Only Rey had the program.  She already knew- had been trying not to think too hard about it- but she made a show of going to her backpack and pulling out her laptop to check it. 

Ben looked content to wait for her answer, so Rey could only delay it by booting the ancient thing up and executing the program.  

“So, item two is- well, it’s oral sex. Um.  Not generally.  Specifically. On…a woman.  So, you on me.  Um, to be specific,” Rey said. 

Ben nodded solemnly, but Rey couldn’t stop talking. 

“But that sounds really advanced, right?  Like high-level, graduate-level smutty. So, you know, if you don’t want to, we could just skip it and move on, you know, maybe item three is less…”

“I want to,” Ben said, leaning forward and bracing his elbows on his knees.   His face was intent. 

Rey swallowed hard. 

“You do,” she said faintly.

Ben’s voice was very earnest.  “I think I can make you come like that.   I want to. I want to be able to do that.  I think…everything else that follows.  I can figure it out.  We can figure it out.  But I think I’d be able to make you come with my mouth.”

Looking at him, feeling the way she does in that instant- with her bruised, chapped lips, and her aching hips, and her damp underwear-  Rey doesn’t have a single doubt about that. 

Chapter Text

Rey had to consciously suppress the tapping of her foot against her knee as her statistics professor mumbled his way through the end of her Friday afternoon courses.  Anticipation gave her a nervous energy that had had her waking up an hour early so that she could shower and shave places normally neglected this far into fall.  She was tempted to try out wax or hair removal cream, but she did not want to either establish unrealistic expectations in terms of her personal grooming habits or risk some kind of chemical burn from her inexperience with feminine hygiene products.   

PROB 321 was failing to hold her attention, so Rey opened her laptop.  Finn, seated to her left, was scanning some sort of sports blog. The girl to her right was browsing over-the-knee boots on Zappos.  So Rey felt justified in checking on the latest Star Wars: the Next Generation updates. 

A chat bubble popped up in the lower left-hand corner of her screen. 

KyloRen: <10 pm still good for you?>

ReyofSunshine: <Yeah, do you want me to bring anything? My roommate’s bf made chicken and rice last night.>

KyloRen: <I think you’re the only thing on the menu tonight.>

Rey resisted the urge to shove her laptop screen down and turn to glare at Ben where he was sitting in the back row.  As if that wouldn’t draw more attention. 

ReyofSunshine: <WE ARE IN CLASS>

KyloRen:  <You’re on Discord watching gaming videos.  I am worried about your retention of this lecture.>

ReyofSunshine: <Stop looking at my screen.>

KyloRen: <Stop sitting in the front row.>

Trying to turn casually, as though suddenly fascinated by the view of the quad behind her left shoulder, Rey made a face at Ben, who wasn’t even pretending not to be looking at her.

KyloRen: <Do I need to get anything?>

Rey considered that, but couldn’t come up with anything beyond the equipment God had given them.

ReyofSunshine: <Maybe just be sure to shave?> 

KyloRen: <If you want me to.> 

ReyofSunshine: <Far from an expert, but it seems easier if we’re both bare for Item 2.> 

KyloRen: <Are you? Totally bare?>

ReyofSunshine: <It’s more of a “lion cut.”>

KyloRen: <I need a picture of this to help me properly visualize.>

ReyofSunshine: <Pictures are forever, Solo.  And again….>

ReyofSunshine: <WE ARE IN CLASS> 

KyloRen: <1.  You have a list of my hundred greatest sexual fantasies in your possession.  Not a single one is "quiet missionary, in a dark room, with my wife, for the purpose of procreation."  I think mutually assured destruction would keep your pictures safe.  2.  Your respect for our educational institution is questionable at best, you’re just looking at Overwatch cosplay videos.> 

ReyofSunshine:  <I thought you wore contacts.  How can you see this far?> 

KyloRen: <I was just guessing.  And you were just changing the subject.>

Rey huffed in derision and opened her browser.  She Googled “cat lion cut” and sent Ben a picture of an angry Persian cat being lowered into a bath at the groomer’s.  

KyloRen: <Are we still talking about the same thing?>

ReyofSunshine: <That’s a quality wet, shaved pussy picture.>

Ben laughed so loud that the professor paused and scanned the back row to identify the source of the sound. 

* * * 

Rey had an idea that afternoon.  The idea involved wearing a skirt.  Unfortunately, Rey didn’t own one.  But since she figured that she and Rose were something like kin now that Rose was dating her roommate and his boyfriend, Rey called her to ask for a favor. 

“I think the only one I still have in your size was part of my high school uniform,” Rose told her.  

“A uniform?” Rey asked dubiously.  Her own high school’s uniform had been sexless navy polo shirts and baggy khaki trousers- an outfit seemingly designed to suppress the desirability of its students and thereby promote delayed parenthood.  An overly successful push, in Rey’s case. 

“Yeah, I went to Catholic school.  It’s a whole Peter Pan collar, pleated skirt, and knee socks thing.  Priests are pervy, man,” Rose said. 

“That sounds perfect, actually,” Rey said.  “Can you bring it with you tonight?  Just the skirt, I mean.  The rest sounds a little over the top.”

“For real,” Rose said. “Why, do you have a hot date?” She sounded excited by the prospect. Rey wouldn’t think Rose would be interested by Rey’s own romantic exploits when she was dating two hot guys simultaneously.  

“Sort of?” Rey said tentatively.  “Don’t tell Poe and Finn.  It’s really new.”  

The skirt fit Rey perfectly around the waist, but neither Rey nor Rose had taken into account the difference in their heights.  What had fallen demurely above high-school Rose’s knees barely covered Rey’s ass. 

That wasn’t necessarily a problem in this instance, except that Rey had to make it over to Ben’s apartment with her dignity intact.  She pulled leggings on under the skirt. 

Whether it was nerves or the layers, though, Rey felt overheated by the time she made it to Ben’s apartment.  

Ben had barely opened the door this time but Rey was brushing past him and asking if she could use his shower. 

“Uh,” he said intelligently, watching her back as she passed.  “I’m not going to say that you can’t be wet and naked in my apartment…”

She turned her head to smile at him.  He looked freshly showered himself; as in the two prior visits, his hair was wet and combed back.  She also thought she spotted a fresh nick on his chin.  

She was a little early; Ben’s monitors were on and showed Assassin’s Creed on pause. 

Rey scampered quickly through Ben’s bedroom- still virgin territory for her, so to speak- and entered his bathroom for the first time.  It was surprisingly, pleasantly clean.  Finn was a good roommate, but his hygiene standards were not as high as Rey’s, and grime tended to collect in corners and cracks until Rey couldn’t stand it any longer and bleached the entire thing into antiseptic purity again. But Ben’s bathroom was far cleaner than expected, despite smelling strongly of Axe bodywash.  She peeked into the shower- yes, he had the entire suite of grooming products in “Charcoal and Clean.”  Luckily, he had plain Dove soap as well, so Rey wasn’t going to come out of the shower smelling like a teenage boy. 

Rey turned on the shower, which was still humid and wet from Ben’s previous ministrations.

She heard a knock. 

“Rey?”  Ben called beyond the closed door. 

“Yeah?” she asked, stripping out of her clothes. 

“Did I- was that a missed cue?  Am I supposed to come in there with you?” he asked after a brief pause. 

Rey froze in place, imagining Ben in nothing but his skin and the shower spray.  So much skin.  She hasn’t seen him naked yet.  Hasn’t seen any man naked yet. 

“That’s a…that’s a great idea,” Rey said, quickly following with, “but I’ll actually just be a second. Another time?  When we have more time for the shower?”

Another pause. “Sounds good,” Ben called.

Rey quickly splashed herself clean and found a clean towel folded under Ben’s sink console.  It was black.  Rey had never seen a black bath towel before.  She wondered whether he special ordered them. 

Rey redressed herself- minus a few particulars.  She wiped the mirror clear of steam and smiled at her flushed cheeks in the mirror. 

When Rey padded back into the living room, barefoot, hair curling, she found that Ben was back at his computer.  He pushed back from the desk and swiveled his chair to take her in. The lift of his eyebrows as he focused on her bare legs was flattering. 

He braced his fingers on the ends of his armrests as though to stand, but Rey caught him first.  She sat on his lap, knees together, and kicked off the floor to spin them back around on the chair. 

“What are you playing?” she asked him, leaning back against his chest. 

“The beta of the new expansion,” he mumbled, wrapping his arms around her and setting his chin on her shoulder. 

She wiggled a bit in his lap to get comfortable- and to make his breath quicken. 

“How did you get on the list for the beta?” she asked, leaning forward to look at it.  Her shift in position shoved her hips back against him. 

“First hundred pre-orders,” he said, voice tight. 

She flicked his hand off the mouse when he would have minimized the screen. 

“This isn’t even on YouTube yet,” she said, spreading her legs so they fell on either side of Ben’s. 

“Closed beta,” he said, mouthing at the curve of her neck. 

She hummed in appreciation. She rubbed one bare foot experimentally along the outside of Ben’s calf.  He moved one wide palm to her knee 

“I haven’t seen you in a skirt before,” he said.  “I may need to add a few items to that list.”

“Oh?” Rey asked, letting her head fall back. 

“Mmmhmm,” he said, shifting his hand so that it cupped the inside of her thigh, just above the knee. “I may be developing a thing for schoolgirls.”

“There’s a blouse and knee socks that go with this,” Rey confessed. 

“Sounds promising,” Ben breathed, sliding his hand slowly north. 

Rey gripped the armrests as Ben wrapped his other arm around her waist and continued the upward slide of his right hand. 

He abruptly stopped. “You’re not wearing underwear?” he asked in a strangled voice, although he’d surely discerned the answer already. 

Rey did her best to shrug, but he was wrapped so tightly around her that it was hard to move. 

“Seemed unnecessary,” she whispered.

“Hnnngh,” said Ben, fingers spreading against her body.  He brushed his fingertips feather-light over her folds. 

Rey sighed and closed her eyes as he gently explored the extent of her grooming.  His fingers brushed back and forth, touching her as though she were delicate china. 

“Can I see you?” he asked in a soft voice.  “It was driving me crazy, imagining you in my shower.  Naked in my own bath.” 

“Where?” she asked, thinking about his couch, and his bed, and even his shower.  She wasn’t sure what the done thing was in this situation.

“Bed,” Ben said firmly. He kept one arm around her waist but slipped the other under her knees, lifting her up from his lap as though she weighed nothing. 

She yelped in surprise when he stood to carry her bridal-style into his bedroom.  Yelped again when he tossed her onto this bed. She managed to twist in the air and land on her back. 

He was on her before she properly had her bearings, bouncing on his forearms as he followed her down. 

He kissed her firmly. 

“You. Are.  Making. Me. Insane.” He kissed her on different corners of her mouth between each word.   He slipped down her body, hands carving her outline as he went.  When he reached his knees on the floor at the end of the bed, he gripped her ankles and hauled her closer to him.  She slid as she went, skirt riding up to her waistband.

Once she was splayed out in front of him, hips at the edge of the bed, Ben paused. 

“What is it?” Rey asked nervously, lifting her head.  His eyebrows were drawn together as he looked at her. 

“Nothing. You’re- you’re beautiful.  It’s just-“ his voice trailed off.  He chewed on the inside of his cheek, the way he did when he was solving a difficult problem in the lab.  Rey’s eyes widened in confusion. 

God, she was sure the man had seen some number of vaginas before.  In porn, if nothing else.  Was she somehow deformed?

“Just trying to figure out where to start,” he finally confessed.  “Which part is your clit?”

“Jesus, I’m not sure,” Rey said, closing her eyes and lying back, arm over her forehead. 

“How do you not know?” Ben pressed her, sounding a little heated.  He leaned in as he said that, and the puffs of air as he spoke felt good against her, at least. 

“It’s not like I took the labels off!” she told him, frustrated.

“Ok.  Ok,” Ben said.  “I’ll just-“ his voice cut off as pushed her legs open wider and leaned in.

Without any more warning than that, she felt the broad, warm swipe of his tongue rise from the crease of her ass all the way to her mound.  

She squeaked in surprise, stomach muscles contracting.  Then he did it again.  

“Ben!” she yelped.  He didn’t stop. 

“Ben!” she said again, patting at the top of his head.  “That’s my- you don’t have to start all the way back there.” 

He lifted his head just a centimeter.  “I do have some knowledge of basic anatomy, yes.  It’s fine.  Didn’t you just take a shower?” 

Rey pressed her hands to her suddenly blazing cheeks. 

“Then why…”

His shoulders condensed in a shrug.  “Just scoping out the territory.  Do you not like it?”

Rey considered for a second.

“I don’t not like it,” she confessed. 

“Ok,” he agreed.  He did it a third time, more slowly.  

“Oh,” her voice puffed out. Somehow, she could feel him smile against her body. 

“You’ve got butt stuff on your list, don’t you,” she accused him after a few minutes. 

He nodded, mouth still pressed intimately against her.

She put her arm back over her forehead.  Fine then. She’d add it to her list. Somewhere.  Far down the list.  Possibly after mimes. 

Surveying apparently complete, Ben tilted his head up to focus his efforts on more conventional territory.  

He released his grip on her inner thighs to bring his hands up between her legs.  His thumbs gently spread her as he muscled his shoulders between her knees.  Ben’s tongue grazed a particularly sensitive spot and she shivered.  It was something like ticklish.  It wasn’t, however, inducing that same glowing tension in her midsection she’d felt building while straddling Ben on his couch. 

“Ben can you…can you come up here for a second?” she begged him. He popped his head up over the level of her pelvis, concerned. 

“Is this doing anything for you?” he asked.  “I was about to try the alphabet trick.” 

“I don’t know what that is, but could you just- I liked kissing you.  Could you come up here and kiss me again?  For a little while?”

Ben obediently crawled up her body and arranged his big body over her own.  He was heavy, just this side of suffocating, but his weight- suspended on his forearms and pressing against her waist more than her chest- was satisfying in a very basic way.  She could feel his arousal pressing hard against her hip when he leaned down to kiss her.

His hair brushed the sides of her face from this position.  His mouth was swollen and wet from what he’d been doing, but Rey was reassured that her own taste on his mouth was faint and not unpleasant.  Rey ran her hands down his wide back and was rewarded by a roll of his hips against hers.  She spread her legs until they cradled his body and Ben moaned into her mouth. Yes. Yes, this.  This was the feeling she’d been chasing.  

When she found herself rocking against the fly of his heavy denim jeans, she set her hands on the tops of his shoulders and pushed him down again. 

“Ok, let’s have that alphabet trick then,” she told him, and he nipped the tip of her nose before complying. 

More wound up than before, she found herself rocking her hips up against him when he resumed his passionate ministrations against her bare pussy.  She didn’t think she’d ever be able to honestly make the kinds of noises she heard in porn, but she didn’t hold back the heavy breaths she began to produce when he- finally- found what she assumed was her clit.  Based on how it felt when he wrapped his lips around it and gave a tentative suck. 

“There?”  Ben asked, breaking away only long enough to speak the words against her body.

“Yep!” Rey said, mentally wincing at her word choice. 

He didn’t require any more elucidation than that- he altered his focus, but deploying a mixture of swirls, sucks, and even a careful graze of his lower teeth that made her stomach muscles clench.

Her orgasm took her by surprise.  She’d had a few before.  More frequently at the tail end of some of her favorite dreams than under her own hand, but she knew what they felt like.  The rippling, buzzing, champagne fizz sensation that swept out from her core and curled around her breasts and thighs was better than all those before it, though. 

Her breath stuck in the back of her throat, and so there was no shouting, no whining, none of the noises she might have expected.   But Rey realized she was gripping Ben’s head with her thighs and forced herself to relax before she accidentally suffocated him.  

“Oh!  Sorry!  I didn’t realize…” she panted, swinging one leg over his head so that she could roll onto her side. 

Ben pulled the neck of his t-shirt over his lower face to wipe it and then crawled onto the bed, facing her. 

“Did you just come?” he asked, eagerly. 

“Yeah,” she reassured him. She reached out a thumb and touched his full lower lip.  “Thank you. I mean, are you ok?” 

He smiled, lifting one hand to cup his own lower jaw.  “Sore jaw muscles.  May need to chew gum or something to work on endurance.” 

“It’s bad for your teeth,” she told him seriously. 

“Then I’ll just go down on you a lot,” he said with equal solemnity. 

A thought occurred to Rey. 

“Should I- do you need to, um.   Is there something I need to help you with now?”  Somehow, despite what they’d done,  raising the possibility of other acts they had not yet explored felt taboo.

Ben grimaced.  “I’m afraid that’s no longer an option.”  He rolled to his feet and hooked a thumb in the direction of his bathroom.  “I’m going to go clean up.” 

“Oh,” Rey said, eying the deflated front of Ben’s jeans. 

Ben walked a bit stiffly to his bathroom and closed the door behind him. 

Rey bit her lip, collapsing on her back.  This had been a truly excellent project thus far.  Ben was exceeding all expectations.  But she still didn’t have the courage to knock on the door and ask if she could join Ben and return the favor, so to speak.  She’d have to wait for shower sex to turn up on the list. She sighed, too contented to worry at herself very much.  

She heard the shower turn on.  She didn’t feel sleepy, like men were supposed to get.  But she didn’t feel very inclined to move, either, even though she was beginning to feel a bit chilly, given that she was bare but for the skirt from the waist down. 

When she heard the water stop, she forced herself to stand.  She looked around Ben’s bedroom before recalling the location of the remainder of her clothes.  She rapped on the bathroom door.

“Ben?” she called. “Could you hand me my underwear?” 

The door cracked open, exhaling a warm surge of steam and revealing a pink-faced and grinning Ben Solo. He had one hand holding his towel shut around his waist and the other dangling her underwear by one finger.

“I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life for someone to ask me that,” he responded, jerking her panties out of her grasp when she reached for them.

“Ben!” she scolded him, trying not to get distracted by his wet, bare chest.  Was that an eight-pack?  Why was Ben Solo shredded?  “I can’t exactly go home without my underwear.”

“You could stay,” he said with forced casualness, swinging them around his forefinger. 

Rey snorted.  “Yeah, and my roommate would report me missing to the campus police.  I’m supposed to be playing video games at the lab.”  

“I have video games,” Ben responded. 

“And my underwear,” Rey insisted.  She didn’t own so many pairs she could afford to lose any to be some sort of kinky trophy.  He hadn’t even taken this pair off of her.  It wouldn’t be sporting.  

He eventually handed them over and she slipped them back on, enduring Ben’s frown when she bent forward demurely to pull them up.   She put one hand on a slippery shoulder and went to her tip-toes to kiss his cheek. 

“See you next week,” she told him, turning to go. 

“Hey wait,” he called after her.  “What’s next week?”

“Oh,” she paused, remembering.  “Hand-job. In a hot tub.  But I don’t know if that’s doable.  I mean, obviously my part of it is, that’s fine.  But the hot tub in my apartment complex is super sketchy. You might get a staph infection on a part you’d miss.”

She looked back to see a hopeful smile dawning on Ben’s face.  “I’ll send you an address,” he promised.  “I know one we can use.” 

Chapter Text

The address Ben sent her belonged to a large new-build townhouse in the museum district.  Rey studied it on Google Maps, but was unable to discern any connection it might have to Ben.  It was too far for her to ride her bike.  She pondered asking Ben for a ride, but that felt oddly outside of the confines they had set for this thing between them. 

So she borrowed Poe’s car. Borrowing his silver Camaro was a bit of a political move.  It threatened the peace of the household, as Finn had yet to be allowed behind the wheel. Rey’s own driving privileges were hard-won by dint of much free labor beneath the car’s undercarriage, toiling alongside Poe to install dubiously legal after-market modifications. It now cruised the streets of the city atop a pool of orange light.   

But Rey felt fairly certain Poe could erase the sullen pout that his easy toss of the keys to Rey engendered on Finn’s face.   They had plans to attend some kind of campus protest that involved live music, body paint, and perhaps free food.  Rey would normally have gone with them.  She'd protest anything for free food.  Rey left her own plans vague when she demurred.  

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” Poe warned her, swooping in to buss her cheek.  

“What about anyone?” she clarified, grinning.  “Otherwise, that’s not much of a restriction.”   He playfully swatted her out the door.

Rey and Poe were of a height, so she didn’t have to adjust the seats.   But she turned the radio from NPR to the 80s station and waited for something upbeat to come on before she revved the engine and pulled up her smartphone directions.  Billie Jean was not her lover, but she had one of her own.  

In her four years in the city, she’d never visited the museum district, not even to go to a museum. She’d certainly had no reason to travel down this residential street, where three-story townhomes rubbed shoulders with zero-lot-line McMansions. 

Rey checked and double-checked the address when she reached her destination.  The red-brick residence had nothing on the mailbox or front door to indicate its ownership or residents.  There was a rigorously geometric grouping of boxwoods on the postage-stamp-sized front lawn, and a spotless doormat in black and sisal chevrons, but no personality to distinguish the townhome from the half-dozen identical buildings to each side. 

Rey felt very conspicuous parking Poe’s car on the front curb.  The fast and sleek machine was out of place in this habitat for Volvos and foreign crossovers.  She hoped that nobody called the cops on her.  

She rapped tentatively at the front door. 

Immediately, there was a burst of noise and action behind it.  Some animal warbled a high-pitched series of chirps and growls and caused a corresponding set of thuds against the door- at about the height of her knees.

“Princess!  Give it a rest!”  she heard Ben’s voice echo, muffled through the wood.  Rey smiled. 

When the door opened, Ben held a tricolored creature in one large hand.  It was sharp of nose and pointed of ear, and wriggled convulsively in his grip, whining to get nearer to the interloper in its territory.

“What is that,” Rey gasped, staring. 

Ben gave it a dour look, nonetheless holding it securely tucked against his side. 

“A rat,” he said.

Rey bent in for a closer look.  The tiny animal licked the tip of her nose, short legs rapidly beating against the air.

“It’s a puppy,” she said, nuzzling the top of its head.

Ben sighed.  “Rat morphology, dog physiology.  She doesn’t get any bigger than this.”

“Ohhhhh,” Rey cooed, reaching out for her.  

Ben carefully transferred her into Rey’s arms, setting off another spasm of licks and whimpers. 

“What’s her name?” Rey asked, not taking her eyes off the little dog.

“Princess Bonifacia Bonadventura the Ninth,” Ben said, rolling his eyes.  “Or, ‘Shut up, Princess,’ as I like to call her.”  

“You don’t,” Rey gasped in sympathetic outrage. 

Ben gave her a long-suffering look.  “She barks unless I let her sleep in the bed with me.  And then she snores.” 

“Smart little Princess,” Rey said to the dog, passing her back to Ben. 

“Yeah, that’s not something I’ve said to her,” Ben said, taking her back.  The dog licked his hand. 

Rey raised her eyebrows. 

Ben looked at the little dog in his hands for a moment.

“…she’s not a bad dog,” he muttered after a beat.  “It’s not her fault her noble wolf ancestors sold their children out for kibble and scritches.” 

He stepped aside to allow Rey to enter behind him, then carefully closed the door before setting the dog down.  

“Go in your crate, Princess,” he told her, and she obediently trotted off, pencil-thin legs working in a blur. 

“Whose house is this?” Rey finally asked as they walked up a set of carpeted stairs to the large open space taking up most of the second floor. 

The room was decorated entirely in shades of linen and oak.  Rey suppressed the urge to blink and check that her color vision was still working. The furniture looked both expensive and fragile, and liable to stain if she breathed on it too hard.  Rey belatedly pulled her sneakers off.  The creamy carpet bore no evidence that it had ever been trodden before that day.  On the walls, elaborate frames captured pale art in the same color scheme as the rest of the room. 

“This house was built with FAITH,” proclaimed a piece of reclaimed wood sculpture over the tufted-wool ottoman in the center of a grouping of over-stuffed couches. 

Rey felt like an intruder in her faded jeans and t-shirt, but Ben, in his black henley and sweatpants, was no more appropriate to the scene than she was.

Ben snorted.  “This is Hux’ house,” he said.

“No,” Rey breathed, looking around the flawlessly bland space.  It made a sick kind of sense.  She couldn’t imagine Hux wearing plastic flip-flops in a communal shower, but…

“How can he possibly afford this place?” she said.  

“His parents bought it for him,” Ben told her.  “And decorated it too, as you see.  They wanted a pied-a-terre in the city.  For when his mommy visits her baby boy.”  

Rey gave Ben a look full of doubt, and he snorted.  “Yes, Hux does have parents, and by all accounts, they love him very much.  Life is weird.”  

Really, really weird, Rey thought, staring at the ostentatiously Christian centerpiece.  Hux had loving parents and a toy rat terrier.  The universe worked in strange and marvelous ways.

“And why are we here?” Rey prodded Ben.  He scratched the back of his head.

“I am dog-sitting. While Hux is at the Young Republican convention.  I think. Maybe Federalist Society.  John Birch.  Blackshirts.  Not sure. Anyway, there’s a Jacuzzi on the roof.”

You are dog-sitting,” Rey repeated, twisting her head to stare up at Ben in wonder. 

He twisted his mouth in amusement.  “Name another friend Hux could ask,” he said.  

Rey made a helpless gesture with her hands.  Phasma probably blended small dogs into her post-lift smoothies.  She'd burn the place down and then spend the insurance money out of spite.  “Let’s see this Jacuzzi, then,” Rey said. 

They passed a third level of bedrooms and ascended to a fourth floor, which was fully enclosed by a pony wall of wide pine terminating in vinyl windows on all four walls. 

Murky Dismal the decorator had not been able to do much harm to the rooftop lounge, which had large ferns hanging from the ceiling beams and a set of teak outdoor dining furniture.  Although it was drizzling and cold outside, the space was warm and humid from the bubbling Jacuzzi dominating the small room.  

Rey hummed her appreciation.  

“I’ll just go change,” she said, hooking a thumb down the stairs. 

Ben frowned. “Change?” he said.

“Yeah, for the pool,” Rey spelled out, not understanding his confusion.   “I can’t go in in my jeans,” she pointed out.

“Oh, right,” Ben said. “Of course.”  He was still giving her a strange look, which she wrote off to nerves. 

That resolved, Rey retreated to the first bedroom on the third floor.  It was obviously the guest room; Rey couldn’t imagine Hux placing quite so many embroidered throw pillows on his four-poster bed.  She quickly changed into the black tank-top and underwear she’d brought along. She didn’t own a bathing suit, but she imagined her getup would serve the same purpose.  It wasn’t like they were going to do laps. 

She beat Ben back to the rooftop and slipped into the Jacuzzi, sighing audibly as the hot water slipped around her body. It had jets that massaged her lower back and little inflatable pillows against the edges.  Rey pulled her hair up into a messy bun atop her head and leaned back, relaxing.

She heard the sounds of Ben’s heavy tread up the stairs and the swing of the door behind her.  She put her arms behind her head and slid down another couple of centimeters. 

“This is nice,” she said, then turned around to look up at Ben when he didn’t join her in the water.

He was peering down at her, holding a towel awkwardly- both hands clenching the fabric in front. 

Rey lazily looked him up and down.  His chest was as pale and defined as a Greek marble, but built more to the scale of the David.  He had a faint line of black fur descending to the edge of the towel, and Rey eyed it with consideration. 

She resolved to lick that slender line of fuzz flat before letting Ben put his clothes back on. 

“Do you have anything on under the towel?” she inquired.  

He tilted his head to the side and gave her a tight, nervous smile through closed lips.  She supposed that was a no. 

Rey scooted to the opposite side of the tub for a better view.  She crossed her legs and spread her arms across the edge of the Jacuzzi to get herself totally braced.

“Right, well, go on,” she said.  “Let’s see the entire kit, then.” 

Ben took a deep breath, chest inflating and stomach tightening.  He dropped the towel.

Oh.  Oh wow.  Well. Ok then.

Rey did her best to school her features into something like calm, stoic appreciation.  She should have practiced that look in the mirror, because Ben’s half-hard cock, pointing just south of straight at her, was giving her some serious self-doubt. 

We’re gonna need a bigger boat, she thought.   How was Tab A supposed to fit into any of Slot A, Slot B, or Slot C?   She needed to go online and see if someone had uploaded the user manual for handling a very well endowed, very inexperienced, very eager man who was now gingerly lowering himself into the water, hand wrapped around the base of the body part under scrutiny.  She was surprised he didn’t need to use both hands.   

Seriously, her phone was going to get the electronic strain of herpes from the searches she was going to run. 

He hissed a little when the hot water swept up his abdomen.  He sat down next to her, but not close enough to touch. Except with her eyes. 

“Hi,” Rey said.  Ben responded with a kind of self-deprecating chuckle.  She scooted closer to him and craned her head up to kiss the point of his jaw to give herself a little time to think. 

She’d done her research for this, of course.  Rose favored the kind of glossy women’s magazines that promised career advice, fashion tips, and TEN WAYS TO TURN HIS BRAIN INTO CONGEALED OATMEAL WITH YOUR FEET.  Rey had helped herself to several back issues in the course of moving Rose's armchair into Rey and Finn’s apartment. 

The problem was that all of the articles were mutually contradictory.  One said that the key to a good handjob was to gently pull the balls and press the spot directly at the base of the lucky guy’s dick.  A second swore that the taint (a body part Rey had not yet positively identified in the wild) was the true source of a man’s pleasure. And a third was emphatic that no man would truly attain orgasm until Rey stuck her thumb up his ass and caressed the prostate (an organ whose existence Rey had long forgotten.)  It wasn’t that Rey was opposed to doing any of the above, but it sounded more complicated than patting her head and rubbing her belly at the same time. 

“Um,” said Ben, after the seconds ticked on. “Do you still want to…?”

“Of course,” Rey said, staring down through the swirling water at Ben’s erection.  “Just trying to figure out where to start.” 

“...where?” Ben said, confused. 

“Yeah, like where you’d like to be touched, and everything,” Rey said, scooting even closer to him.  How was she going to gain access to anything from this angle?  Maybe he’d need to stand?

“Just, ah, normal stuff,” he said.  His big hand flexed a little around his cock, and Rey took note.  

“Ok, but, like, what should I try to do with my other hand?  Can you point out where your ‘taint’ is?” she asked politely.

“Rey.  Please, just touch my dick.  Please,” he moaned, shutting his eyes. 

Rey closed her mouth and decided that she would await further instruction if she wasn’t conducting the right kind of symphony with her hands.  She put her hand over Ben’s first and slid it forward to the tip of his cock, leaving her touch gentle. 

Oh, that was a nice thing to touch.  His skin was so soft, and his body was so hard. 

Ben turned his head and kissed the top of her shoulder, sighing as some of the tension left his body. She tentatively pumped her hand down to the base, then back up to the tip.

“Like this?” she asked. 

“Yeah.  But harder,” he said.  She tightened her hand a little and he nodded.  That was simple enough.  Up and down.  He spread his legs further, and she snuggled up to his body to get a better angle. He was otherwise silent as she worked him.  She got a little fancier with her hand movements, twisting on the way up from the base, and he smiled his approval, eyes sinking to half-lidded.  She fell into a rhythm, and her mind picked back up.  

This was….not that exciting, actually.  She wasn’t positive it was even that great for him.  He was probably much better at this, himself.  She was probably not that good at this.  He probably wasn’t even going to come, and that’s why it was taking so long.

“Ben?” she asked tentatively, and he jumped a little from the reverie he’d sunk into.  His big golden-brown eyes flicked fully open.  “Is there something else I should be doing?  Should we discuss the existence of your taint again?”

His lips thinned, and then he licked them.

“I think…” he paused, teeth running over that full lower lip.  “I think it would help if you took your shirt off.” 

She hadn’t considered that. She guessed that he probably looked at boobs when he did this.  Or thought about boobs.  Real boobs, not the tiny mole-hills Rey possessed. She frowned, looking down at the space on her chest where boobs would be, if she had any.  Which she didn’t. 

“Really?  I mean, they’re not-“ 

“They’re great,” he cut her off.  “I spend a lot of time thinking about them, actually.”

“Really?” Rey asked, unconvinced.  He nodded.

“And even if they weren’t- and they are- they’re yours.” He spoke that last word fervently, as though Rey’s tits had won some sort of a competition to join her hips and ass in barely filling out Rey’s misses-size undergarments, beating out a sea of other, lesser tits.  

Rey shrugged, finally figuring that she’d be asked to do far more disappointing things on this list, and pulled her sodden tank-top over her head.  She wrung it out and piled it on the edge of the Jacuzzi.  She turned back to see Ben running his hand over his cock again.

“So,” she said, trying to regain some dignity against the certain disappointment of her breasts, “that’s me.  I hope that helps, rather than….well, I know they’re not the greatest.  Nothing like your-“ 

“I think,” said Ben, towing her gently over to him by her arm, “that I can fit a whole one in my mouth. Let me see.”

Her eyes flew open as he arranged her over his lap so that she was kneeling astride him.  His own eyes were closed and his expression reverent when he licked a half circle below one breast before sucking it in. 

He could, as it turned out, fit her entire breast in his mouth.  And it felt like heaven, much better than she imagined her own little hand on his cock felt.  She tried to regain a rhythm while his mouth slipped around her chest to pinch her other nibble in his lips, but the hot, wet heat of his mouth was….super distracting.  

His hands slid up her hips to her chest, and he held her up while his thumbs caressed the undersides of her breasts. 

“This is supposed to be for you,” she reminded him, her voice higher and tighter than she appreciated.  

Ben’s lips popped off her left nipple momentarily.

“Oh, believe me, this is,” he affirmed.  He switched back to the right.  Rey’s hips involuntarily bucked against his knees, and he smirked against her body when he realized what she was doing.  

This was not fair. And not how this was supposed to happen. She deployed her other hand to hold the base of Ben’s cock while the first slipped around the head, but he barely seemed to care, still focused on her breasts.

She pulled back and told him firmly,

“Alright, I’m rubbish at this, you’re going to need to sit up on the ledge.”

His eyes narrowed. 

“If this is about my taint, I promise it’s not necessary,” he told her, then gently ran his lower teeth against the tip of one nipple.  Rey shivered, her cunt convulsing.

“No!” she said, and he jerked back, alarmed.  

“No to the taint thing,” she quickly amended.  “You can do that with my- I mean, yes, please do that.  Do that a lot.  But also sit. Up.”

After she pushed at his shoulders (she couldn’t actually move them, brick house that he was), he eventually sat up on the edge, leaving her kneeling between his knees.  His expression was wavering between doubt and anticipation, and Rey struggled to keep her own expression from betraying her personal trepidation. 

She had not been reading ahead.  She doesn’t know the best practices for doing this with her mouth.  But she’s suddenly eager to try, and that has a lot to do with coming eye to eye with Ben’s cock, now fully erect and pointing up nearly to his navel.  It was kind of majestic, the way that sea mammals, government buildings, and desert rock formations were.  Ben reached out to reclaim her breasts, thick thumbs toying with both nipples. 

Rey slid her hands up his knees and pulled herself closer.  Ben’s eyes bored into her, wide and intent as she lowered her mouth to the head of his cock. She let the tip of her tongue graze the little triangular indentation below the slit. 

She heard Ben suck in a raspy breath of air above her and figured that was a good place.  It tasted like nothing- just chlorine and heat.  She swept her tongue in a circle around the entire head and caught a hint of salt.  

Encouraged by the way Ben’s fingers were stuttering on her breasts, she opened her mouth wider and gave a shallow pull on the head. 

She imagined that she looked like a garden snake trying to swallow an ostrich egg, but when she flicked her eyes up at Ben, his eyes were screwed shut.  So she didn’t need to worry about that.  But since she had an opportunity to look at him unobserved, she savored the way his lower lip was pouting and round, forming a little ‘o’.  She took a deep breath and took him deeper.

This seemed to be far more productive than using her hands.  Ben kept losing concentration and then squeezing when he remembered that he had his hands on her tits.  He was making some very encouraging noises: little puffs of air and hard swallows and dry gurgles.  And it seemed that barely any time at all had passed before Ben’s eyes flew open and he gave a valiant effort to push her away. 

It wasn’t fast enough. One hot surge of his spend struck her lips, and the rest lashed her chin and neck, a few last drips hitting her chest. Rey’s hands reflexively flew up to touch it, and just as quickly came away sticky.

“Oh shit,” Ben breathed. “I am so sorry.  Shit.  Shit, I did not mean to do that.” 

Rey finally swallowed, feeling a bit shocky.  That was quite a taste.  Like boiling seawater.  She licked her lips and saw his pupils widen again. 

She was the one with the mouth full of cum, and he was the one who looked ready to choke. 

“A little warning next time?” she suggested weakly.  He sagged down, elbows on his knees,  then slid back into the water.  He splashed some of the water over her chest to clean her, then lifted both big hands up to frame her face.  He leaned in and ran his tongue over her lips and chin until they felt raw and pink.

“Just so long as there is a next time,” he whispered.  “You surprised me.” 

“Yeah, me too,” she joked, squirming around until she was seated next to Ben again with his arm around her shoulders.  Her heart was pounding and her body still felt tight and alive.  Ben, on the other hand, felt like a load of sandbags over her shoulder, his entire weight relaxed and loose around her. 

“Think Hux cleans this tub often?” she inquired.

He smirked, not bothering to open his eyes from where his thick lashes rested atop his cheekbones. “Not before he uses it again, I bet,” he said.

Chapter Text

 

Whining. Begging.  Pleading.  Shouting. Even a little bit of crying.

Finn has been through a very wide range of emotions with his little robot, and Rey has never been gladder that Ben Solo (and not her roommate) is her lab partner.

Finn’s robot is spinning its wheels in the air, a turtle on its back, instead of navigating the shoebox maze per the project instructions.  His own lab partner looked ready to kill him. 

“I thought you got the front sensor working, Finnegan,” Phasma said in a voice designed to crack metal and crush balls. 

Finn’s full name wasn’t Finnegan.  Rey has heard him tell Phasma that more than once.

“I’m sorry, I was too busy explaining to the professor how we deserved the chance to start this project over from the beginning a month into the development timeline,” Finn retorted.  

The class project’s goal was to design a wheeled robot that could navigate a simple cardboard maze without contemporaneous input from an operator.  Finn and Phasma’s first model had set the maze on fire, then wheeled in a straight line through the ashes.  Professor Ackbar had disallowed that design.  With prejudice.  

(Rey personally thought it was an ingenious and elegant solution. Rather like slicing through the Gordian Knot. And Phasma was right: the instructions hadn’t said anything about the maze being unharmed at the end of the test.  Finn had not appreciated Rey pointing that out.  Something something traitor Dark Side, which was an exaggeration.)

Rey and Ben’s ‘bot was much more conventional.  It was placidly dodging around the computer lab like a Roomba, chirping happily when it encountered an obstacle it could avoid.  (Ben’s initial design had not chirped.  But they had agreed that Rey would be hardware, and Ben would be software. Not to be outdone by Phasma, Ben’s first draft of the plans had included wholly-unnecessary heat vents over the primary wheels.  Rey vetoed.)

Seeing that Finn and Phasma were about to start tearing into each other for the third time that afternoon, Rey opened her backpack and took out her Tupperware full of chocolate and peanut butter-coated snack mix.  She shoved it under Finn’s nose. 

“Puppy chow?” she asked Finn, then offered it to Phasma.

“What kind of white trash concoction is this?” Phasma said, suspicious.

The delicious kind, Rey retorted.  Her second foster mom had been a mean drunk but a real wizard with a microwave and a pantry full of shelf-stable commodity foods. 

Phasma’s nose was firmly in the air as she begrudgingly accepted a few morsels, but as soon as Rey set the container down, she was sneaking out seconds and then thirds.  

Rey relaxed now that the tension in the air had cooled.  

Rey looked up and caught Ben’s eye.  

For me? he mouthed the words at her, indicating the puppy chow.  She nodded.  Ben glared laser blasts at Finn.  Interloper. My snack.  How dare. 

Rey shrugged.  What could she do?  Resolving emotional tension in others with food was kind of her thing.  Ben could deal.  

Ben’s eyes narrowed. He leaned back in his chair, ostentatiously rolling his broad shoulders.  Then he lifted his hands above his head in a completely unnecessary stretch.  His knit shirt slid up his stomach, exposing ridges of muscle and that line of downy fur. 

“You know what?” Rey said, scooping up her little robot and standing.  “I think it’s getting hot in here.  I’m going to head home.”

“I thought you were going to stay and play that computer game you like,” Finn said, smiling up at her sweetly while he crunched her snacks open-mouthed. 

“Oh, I’d just be distracted. Distracting.” 

“Okay peanut, see you at home,” Finn told her. 

“I’m packing it in too,” Ben said, with a smirk just for Rey. 

He grabbed his backpack and coat off the floor, then paused to scoop up a large handful of the snack mix from the bowl in Finn’s lap.  It was an aggressive move, and Finn gasped in outrage. 

Rey quickly made her escape.  

The science building was still buzzing with activity this early in the evening, with students and faculty moving between the classrooms and labs.  She was not prepared for someone to seize her wrist and pull her into a small alcove created by an interior pillar and the corner of a classroom.

Rey gasped as 200 pounds of warm male body pressed her into the wall.  The sound was quickly smothered by the invasion of Ben’s lips and tongue.  He crowded her against the wall, pressing his denim-covered pelvis up against her hips.  

Her hands were fluttering uselessly by her sides, but as soon as she remembered their potential onlookers, she brought them up to his chest and pushed him back. 

Instantly, there was space between them, although she was caged in by his hands against the wall behind her.  Ben licked his lips and gave her a predatory grin. 

“You taste like peanut butter and chocolate,” he said. 

“What are you doing?” she asked, dazed. 

“You didn’t bring enough to share with the class,” he said. 

“I’ll make you some more,” she sighed. 

“Good.  When are you coming over again?" 

Rey looked around them. Nobody had stopped to stare at her in a lip clinch with her lab partner (such goings-on were not uncommon among the folk of the science building), but they were still far more exposed than Rey would like. 

“Walk me to the bike rack,” she said. 

Ben nodded.  “Of course,” he said. 

It was dark and cold outside, and Rey was glad that for once she had a bigger, warmer body to huddle against as they walked around the corner of the building.   Snow was starting to fall in fuzzy clumps around them.  

Rey’s bicycle was the only one locked to the rack; most students lived on campus or drove and parked in the student lot.  Only the strong rode bicycles in the middle of an Alderaan winter, Rey told herself. The strong and the poor. 

“So,” said Rey, as she knelt to unlock the front wheel.  “We do need to prepare this week.  It’s, um, the week.  You know.” 

“I know?” said Ben. 

“You do.  The do.  You know.” 

“I really don’t,” Ben said, frowning now. 

Rey got the lock off and pulled the chain away.  She locked it around her waist for her trip home.  Ben watched with some interest.  Oh, that could be promising, she thought. 

Rey huffed.  “Okay, it’s ‘over a desk,’” she blurted out. “Which means sex.”

“Oh,” Ben said.  “I do know.  Yeah, that was pretty high on my list.”

“Right,” Rey said. She straightened and prepared to toss a leg over her bike, only for Ben to hold a hand out to stall her. 

“It’s cold out here,” she whined.  “Can’t I text you about this instead?”

Ben lifted her bike in one large hand, dangling it over his shoulder effortlessly. 

“I’ll give you a ride home,” he said.  “And we can talk in the car.”

She looked at him with doubt.  “You drive a Prius, right?  I don’t think my bike will fit in your trunk.”

Her bike wasn’t the convenient, collapsible type.  You couldn’t even get the front wheel off without a screwdriver and a lot of WD-40. On the bright side, even bike thieves wouldn’t touch it, if they had any kind of taste. 

Ben shrugged.  “I have a bike rack on the back.”

She frowned.  She’d seen his car.  She didn’t remember a bike rack. Or, come to think of it, Ben on a bike. She had to be misremembering it.

She followed him to the student lot, and sure enough, there was a shiny, expensive-looking black rack mounted over the trunk.  She had to assist Ben in loading her bike onto it, and she wondered when he ever used it. 

But she was certainly glad of the heated leather seats and climate-controlled interior inside the Prius. Ben pointed out the satellite radio controls and let her browse the presets.  She found a classic-rock station and tilted her seat back.  She pressed a button on the front console and the glass moon roof was exposed 

“Looking up into a snowstorm is like accelerating to light speed,” she told him.  

He chuckled softly. “I didn’t realize you did so much space travel,” he said.

“Maybe someday,” she told him.  “When I’m a tech bazillionaire and have so much money I don’t know what to do with it.  I wouldn’t just send my car to space like Elon Musk.  I’d go with it.” 

“I’ll miss you,” he said, with more feeling than she usually attributed to Ben Solo.

She took his hand. “Well fine.  You can come too.  Be co-pilot.  Choose the music.  If I’m a bazillionaire, I’ll be able to swing the extra ticket.”    

He still hadn’t put the car in gear, but it was warm, and Jethro Tull was playing on the stereo, and it was very nice to be cozy and dry while outside it was cold and wet.

“So,” Rey said, looking away from Ben’s smiling face, because for some reason it made her chest clench. “For this item on the list, we’ll obviously need some stuff.  I’ll make an appointment to go get on birth control, but before that you have to wear a condom.  Is that ok?” 

“Of course it is,” Ben said, as though offended she’d asked.  “And you don’t have to go on…birth control.  I mean, I don’t mind wearing a condom.  It’s not like I know the difference.  And you shouldn’t have to put a bunch of hormones, or whatever, in your body just for me.” 

Rey patted his hand. “No, really, it’s fine.  I read the failure statistics on our options. 13% is better than nothing, but I’d rather do something more reliable over a longer time-period.  13% over multiple dice-rolls is a non-negligible risk. And honestly, putting hormones in my body is a lot less concerning than your…well.  You.” 

“Oh,” Ben said. His ears were turning red, which was good, because Rey thought her cheeks were blazing. “I see your point.” 

“So,” Rey said, feeling like her face was vibrating from embarrassment.  “Will you buy condoms?”  

“I can do that,” Ben said, sucking in a deep breath of resolve.  “What else?” 

Rey tucked her hair back behind her ears.  “I don’t think we need anything else.  You have that big desk in your apartment, right?  Or did you mean one of the ones in the classrooms?  There are a few in the basement of the language lab that don’t have windows to the outside.  We could check if they have locks this week.” 

“Either is fine,” Ben said impatiently.  “But what about- you know, for the first time?  What else do you want?” 

Rey tucked her hands up under her chin and rolled over to face him in the seat.  “Nothing else comes to mind.  Condoms, desk.  We’ve got the equipment god gave us.”  

Ben frowned down at her. “Wait, Rey, you don’t mean you want to skip straight to being pounded over a desk.”  He said it like it was a fact, but Rey was confused as to why he would think that.

“Well, it was the next thing on the list,” she said.  “And you were the one who said you didn’t have a thing for quiet missionary in a dark room.”  

Ben ran both hands through his hair, pulling it down over his ears.  It was a nervous tic she’d begun to recognize in him. 

“It doesn’t matter what I want,” he said.  “What did you want for your first time, Rey?”

“I want you to bend me over a desk, Solo,” she said, getting a little heated with him.  Why was he making this complicated?  “I wouldn’t have started writing down a list if I were waiting for my boyfriend to light candles and sprinkle rose petals over the bed and tell me how much he loves me while looking deep into my eyes and making polite and gentle love to my trembling body.” 

Ben was quiet for a minute, staring out into the falling snow.  A few students stumbled through the headlights.  

“Your boyfriend, huh?” he said softly.  “And what am I?”

Her throat bobbed. She was fine with talking about the list.  With talking about what they were doing.  Why they were doing it was a more difficult question.

“You’re my…”  none of the words fit.  Boyfriend, certainly not.  He’d never given her a second glance that way before she announced her campaign to educate herself sexually.  More than a friend now.  ‘Fuckbuddy’ didn’t quite capture it, because it wasn’t like they were just trying to blow off steam.  Fellow traveler? Classmate? Lab partner for a very special kind of experiment? 

“You’re my off-tank,” she said eventually.  “With a buffing co-specialty.”

He coughed out a quiet laugh, then pulled the gearshift down to back out of the lot. He didn't respond to the label she'd applied.  

She had to give him directions- he’d never been to her apartment before.

He didn’t say anything when they reached her apartment complex, but his lips thinned as he took in the overflowing dumpsters and broken beer bottles in the parking lot. 

“This is it,” Rey said, pointing up at her apartment.  The window was dark- Finn was still back at the lab, and neither Poe nor Rose was there.

Ben turned off the engine. 

“I’ll walk you up,” he said. She opened her mouth to say that he didn’t have to, but closed it again when she saw his expression.  He shut his car door with a little more force than was strictly necessary, but was gentle with her bike when he lifted off the rack.   

He carried it up the two flights of stairs for her.  

“So, this is me,” she said at the front door.  He nodded, and took a step back.  She was a little relieved she didn’t have to wonder whether to invite him in.  Her apartment was fairly clean, but so much shabbier than his, and she was certain he was not going to think highly of the sleeping arrangements.

Also, Finn could be home at any moment. 

“Friday?” she said, biting her lower lip.  He’d acted so strangely, and she wasn’t sure he was still onboard with the desk prompt. 

He sighed. “Friday. I’ll get everything we need.”  

“Good,” Rey said, feeling shy again.  She went on tiptoe to kiss his cheek.  He turned his face just in time and caught her lips.  He kissed her gently this time, with lips instead of tongue.  His breath was warm and sweet.  He pulled away to give her half a smile.  Then he stuck his hands in his pockets and walked back down the stairs without looking back.

* * *

That Friday afternoon, back at her apartment after class, Ray contemplated the two outfits laid out on her futon with concern.   On the left was the outfit she’d normally put on.  Fleece-lined leggings, t-shirt, hooded knit sweater.  On the right, the only dress she owned.  It wasn’t fancy.  It was skater-style, blue.  A little tight, and a little short.  It was cold outside, but she could always wear it over thick, cable-knit tights and boots. 

She ought to wear the normal outfit.  Virginity was a social construct.  A vestige of the patriarchy.  A pseudo-biological artifact from a time when access to her sexuality was a woman’s sole social currency. 

(Rey had taken both of her required social science electives in the Women’s & Gender Studies department, to great success). 

But maybe Ben would like to see her in a dress?  He’d liked the skirt.  

“You ready yet?” Rose called from the other room. 

“Just a minute!” Rey yelled, pulling her towel more closely around her. 

Rose and Finn were planning to go to the mall.  Poe’s birthday was Sunday. 

Trying not to think too hard about what it meant, Rey grabbed the dress.

“I’ll be dressed in a minute, don’t take off your clothes!” she yelled towards the bedroom.

“Too late!” Rose yelled. 

* * *

Alderaan had three malls, of which this was the least fancy.  Still, Rey couldn’t afford much, so after acquiring a new bed for Poe’s corgi in the colors of his alma mater, she went to the food court and sat to wait for Rose and Finn to be done with their shopping.  She had half an hour until she was due to meet Ben, but she was sure she could get Rose to drop her off on their way home.  She and Ben did have that ongoing class project to use as a cover. 

She picked up a bag of cinnamon-sugar pretzel nuggets from Auntie Anne’s and took a seat on the edge of the indoor water feature. 

She pulled her phone out to check her texts, and was surprised to see a message from Ben.

<KyloRen> Rey? You got a minute?

She checked the time stamp. Only five minutes ago.

<ReyofSunshine> sure, what’s up?

<KyloRen> I may be a little late.

<ReyofSunshine> np. what time do u want me there?

<KyloRen>  Well there’s another problem.

Rey frowned, stomach sinking.  Was he trying to back out?

<ReyofSunshine> anything i can help with?

<KyloRen> No. 

<KyloRen> I mean yes. Not with the current problem, but another problem.

<KyloRen> So I was trying to buy condoms. 

<KyloRen> At the campus pharmacy.

<KyloRen> But there were many options.

<KyloRen>  And I was apparently taking a long time.

There was a pause.  Rey tried to figure out where this was going.

<KyloRen> The store clerk was very rude about it.

Uh oh.  Rey had a sudden inkling where this was going.

<KyloRen>  So, long story short, he got me arrested by the campus police.

Oh, shit.  Oh, Ben.  Rey put her pretzel bites down so that she could rest her forehead on her hand.

<ReyofSunshine> Ben are you in JAIL?  do u need me to bail you out????  lead with that next time!!!  

<KyloRen>  No, no, as soon as they reviewed the CCTV footage they saw he hit me first.  And he already admitted that nothing is broken.

Rey bit her knuckles. 

<KyloRen>  But I can’t leave until I meet with an administrator and sign a “campus dispute resolution form.”  That should be in the next fifteen minutes.

<KyloRen>  And I still don’t have condoms.

Rey sighed.

<ReyofSunshine> i will buy condoms.  c u in 45 min. 

She brushed the last grains of cinnamon sugar off her fingers and stood. 

She wasn’t certain where one bought condoms.  There wasn’t a pharmacy in the mall.  Worst came to worst, she could always ask Rose to stop at a pharmacy on the way and claim that she had explosive diarrhea or some other embarrassing ailment, but she didn’t want to chance Finn or Rose seeing her head to the family planning aisle. 

She saw Rose and Finn head into Kaydel’s Comix and followed them in.  

Kaydel’s sold comic books, but also collectible figurines, cosplay supplies, toys, fandom t-shirts, and other items to fulfill the needs of the nerdy public. 

Rose and Finn were absorbed by a new display full of rare Pokemon cards, so Rey drifted over to the shelves containing “novelties.”  She thought there might be….yes. 

Some of it was clearly devoted to bachelorette party supplies, but there were also fuzzy handcuffs, feather-trimmed bustiers and merry widows, a wooden paddle with a bat-signal cutout, edible body paints, and a section of sex toys.  And condoms!

“Rey, you about ready to go?”  Finn called from the other side of the store.  “We found the perfect thing for him.” 

“One second!” Rey called, grabbing the first package of condoms she saw. 

That had been easy. She palmed the small package and sidled up to the checkout register, grabbing a Betty and Veronica off a carousel near the register to conceal her true purchase.

The titular Kaydel scanned the comic book, then held the package of condoms up to the light. 

“Oooh, camouflage, nice,” Kaydel said, squinting at the package.  She grinned at Rey.  “Never see him coming, hey?”  She snickered.

Rey grabbed the condoms out of her hand, stuffing them into the side pocket of her purse.  

“I guess that’s the goal,” she mumbled.  Kaydel winked at her.

Kaydel slid the comic book into a bag and passed it across the counter.

“All set?” Finn said, bumping her with his hip.  He set a red t-shirt on the checkout desk.  It read, “This shirt is blue when I run fast enough.”  Rey groaned.  

“He’ll love it,” Finn said defensively.  Poe probably would.  The nerd loved to run.  

Rose came around to Rey’s other side and pulled her from the counter, arm around her waist.

“I sawwww what you were looking at,” she said, grinning at Rey.  “Are you going to tell me who he is?  The one you wore the skirt for?” 

“Ben Solo,” Rey admitted. 

“Ben Solo what?” Finn said, turning around.

“Ben Solo promised to bend me over a desk tonight, but he just got arrested,” Rey said, rolling her eyes.

“Busy boy,” Finn said, pulling out his wallet and turning back to the checkout register.  “Hope he’s drinking his milk.  You know, you can tell me anything, peanut.  If you ever want to tell me what’s been going on with you recently, you can tell me.”  

Rey sighed.  “Sometime soon,” she told him.

* * *  

Ben was home by the time Rey reached his front door.  She waved at Rose and Finn, idling in Rose’s little coupe down in the parking lot until Ben opened the door. 

Ben looked none the worse for wear for his stint in the slammer. 

“Hey jailbird,” she said. “Were you lonely up in the big house or did you make new friends?” 

“Laugh it up, Jackson,” he said, grasping the waist of her dress and pulling her closer to him. “I’ve seen things I can’t unsee. Two frat boys passed out in their own sick.  A freshman girl who drew a dick on her own face to frame her roommate.” 

“I hope your life experiences haven’t hardened you too much,” she told him.

“I’ll show you what’s hard,” he muttered, leaning down to kiss her.  She leaned into it, nipping his lower lip.  She really did love his mouth.  He had the kind of full red lips that were generally wasted on boys.  She was glad he was finally getting some kind of use out of them.

When he pulled back and opened up the room to her, she sniffed the air.

It smelled- strong. Of things.  Several things, in fact.  And the light was-

“Are you burning scented candles?” she asked.  She smelled something like pumpkin spice.  And also something like freesia.  The smells were locked in serious combat in her nasal passages.  

Ben rubbed the back of his neck.  “The bodega down at the corner didn’t have a ton of selection, and I didn’t have much time, so….” 

She looked past him to the breakfast nook that had contained his computer desk.  The computer and monitors were gone, and instead there were several pillar candles of various sizes and colors arranged along the windowsill.  

Rey took several more steps into the apartment, heart suddenly feeling painful and tight in her chest.  There was something scattered over the desk too, some kind of dirt, or-

She took a pinch of it in her fingers.  It was yellow, organic.  She looked to the kitchen and saw several long stems protruding from the sink.  

Ben cleared his throat. “They didn’t have roses.  Or daisies.  Just…mums, and it wasn’t easy to get the petals off. . .”  His voice trailed away. 

Rey’s lower lip quivered. This big, angry boy, who had gotten into a fistfight and been arrested earlier in the day, had bought scented candles and mums for her.   To decorate the desk where she had demanded he deflower her. 

“It’s perfect,” she said, voice trembling.  She went up on her toes again to kiss him, threading her hands into his hair. He wrapped his arms around her this time, one hand rubbing her lower back, the other reaching down below her ass to lift her up against him. 

She kissed each of his cheeks and the tip of his nose.  She tugged at the bottom of his shirt.  “Let’s see those prison tattoos.  Did you choose a gang yet?" 

Ben didn’t respond, instead kissing trails down her neck.  She sighed and let him go to it.  She scooted back against the desk and let him pull off her boots and tights, fingers trickling over her hips like water.  He acted like he wanted to make certain his fingertips covered every inch of her body as it was exposed, tracing the insides of her knees and the arches of her feet.  His lips followed where his fingers forged ahead, pressing ardently against calves and toes and wrists.  

It didn’t feel ticklish. It felt like a candle’s flame, setting her body alight wherever his lips and fingers passed.  He pulled her dress over her head and dipped his head between her breasts.  She didn’t have to wear a bra with that dress, and he groaned his appreciation for that fact before taking both breasts in his hands and kissing one, then the other as he plumped them for his lips.   

She managed to wrestle him out of his shirt and press her their bare chests together for a delicious, shivery moment, but when she grabbed the waistband of his blue jeans and curved her fingers underneath it, all she could feel was crisp hair and hot skin. He pulled away from her, gently untangling her fingers. 

“Need to keep these on for a while,” he murmured, spinning her around.  With a broad hand between her shoulder blades, he pushed her forward until she was face down on the desk.  He bent over her for one moment, letting her feel the thud of his heartbeat against her back.  Then she felt his fingers tugging at the ties in her hair.  It fell out over her shoulders, and he shook it around her face until she couldn’t see around her. 

It was a little like being blindfolded, and she shuddered in anticipation. 

Ben started a slow descent down her spine, lips kissing each individual vertebra while his hands carved her edges.  His thumbs pressed into her hips while he made his way down her body, then snagged on the edges of her underwear. 

“Are you ready?” Ben’s voice rumbled.

Rey nodded, then realized that he couldn’t see her from his position. 

“I’m ready,” she said, after a false start when her voice croaked. 

Ben slid her underwear down, kissing her sacrum as his thumbs dug into the backs of her thighs. His hands were large enough to cup her legs directly below her ass, and he pulled them apart as he crouched behind her. 

She squirmed a little, trying to imagine his point of view.   He swatted her lightly on the rear, just a flick of his fingertips, but she stilled.

“You’re beautiful,” he said fiercely.  “Especially from this angle.”  

Rey sucked in a deep breath and crossed her hands, gripping her wrists fiercely.

He let her expect it for a few moments.  He even let his breath play over her, and she twisted her hips again when the warm, moist air hit her clit. 

But finally she felt his thumbs spread her wide, and his tongue delicately pressed against her.

He was being very light and deliberate with his licks this time.  She squirmed and tried to press back against his face, but he only pulled away every time she did that.

A gentle circuit around the edges of her lips.  A fluttering kiss against her core.  The barest sweep of his lower lip against her clit. 

“Ben,” she whined. 

He shushed her.  Let his tongue press against her entrance. Then withdrew. 

“Ben, please,” she said. Her body felt hot and tight and anxious.  

She felt one fingertip trace through her folds. 

“Not yet, I don’t think,” Ben said thoughtfully.

He repeated the same sequence.  A light circle.  The kiss. The pass of his lips.  It was easier this time, her slick now coating her folds. 

“Ben!” she said more authoritatively. 

“Something I can do for you?” he asked, as though she was poking him in class to borrow a pen. 

“Ben, you said you were going to fuck me over this desk,” she reminded him. 

“I will,” he promised. “When you’re ready."  

He stroked a knuckle along her entrance, as gently as the lashing of a cat’s tail.  He leaned in and wrapped those full lips around her clit. Her cunt clenched.  It felt amazing.  But for the first time, she wanted something inside her. 

“Ben,” she begged, almost sobbing.

“Okay,” he said, laving one last little lick across her cunt.  “Where are the condoms?” 

“Purse,” she said, pointing at it where she’d tossed it into his bedroom. 

“Stay put,” he said, nodding.  

Rey closed her eyes and let her forehead rest on her crossed arms.  Deep breaths.  Don’t tense up.  She tried to repeat those instructions to herself, though repeating the instructions made her pant shallowly and tense up.

Ben was taking a while. Was he reading the instructions? That was probably for the best, but still…

“Rey?” his voice sounded a little high and tight.  “Can you come in here?”  

She quickly pushed off the desk and entered his dark bedroom.

Ben was fully naked now, which made her tummy clench and chest flush.  He had his cock in his left hand, dark and hard and ready, but he held the condom package in his right.  He was standing next to his bedside lamp, squinting down at the writing. 

He passed the package to her.  “Read the back,” he said.

Rey drew closer to the light and pressed her hip up against him as she read.

In tiny font on the back, below all the licenses and trademarks, it read, “Novelty.  Not for use as a contraceptive.” 

“Oh balls,” she said. 

She dropped it and slumped down on Ben’s bed, face first.

“I am so sorry,” she said.

Ben sighed heavily. She felt him fall onto the bed next to her, rattling the frame like a tree falling in a forest.

“Please excuse me,” he said. “I’m going to take a cold shower and possibly batter my head against the tiles until I fall unconscious.” 

“I’m sorry!” she wailed again.  “I was in a hurry.  Who even makes fake condoms?  That’s got to be, like, a product liability issue.” 

“Yes, let’s discuss the regulatory failures that led to this moment.  At length,” Ben snarked.  “But do you mind if I go take that shower first?  Please turn me over and check my airway if you don’t hear from me in fifteen minutes.” 

Rey bit her lip.  “I could go try to find a pharmacy that’s still open?” she offered.  

Ben sighed heavily. “We’ll just reschedule.  I will probably already be deceased by the time you return.”  

She scooted closer to him and patted him on his broad back. 

“For what it’s worth, I didn’t think your stupidly big penis was going to fit anyway.  It would have been terrible and it would have all ended in tears.  Do you want me to suck you off instead?”

“It would have fit,” Ben huffed, still face down against the mattress. 

“No, no, don’t think that way,” Rey reassured him.  “It would have been bloodier than the Red Wedding and more painful than that Angel/Cordelia romance arc.  You might have sworn off sex entirely.”

“No,” Ben insisted.  “It would have been fine.  Even over the desk.”

Rey sighed.  “I don’t think you’re understanding what I’m saying. It’s a simple issue of two solid objects not being able to exist in the same place at the same time.  Namely, your penis, and my hoo-hah."

Ben scoffed.  “Look,” he said.  He rolled over a bit.  He was still hard, and he held up his hand next to his cock.  “Like two fingers, maybe three,” he said.   

Rey was dubious. “Yeah, and you have big hands too,” she said.  “It’s all intimidating.  That’s why my expectations were not high for this evening.  Not dying of exsanguination was really the only hope.”

Ben sighed.  “Look, come here,” he said.  “Even stupid people make this work.  That’s why there’s so many of them in the world.  It’s not complicated.”

He grabbed her shoulder and she thought he was going to flip her, but instead he pulled her back against his chest.  He nestled closer to her.  She could feel his cock hard and insistent, cradled in the crack of her ass and pointing up at her lower back.  The heat rolling off him was soothing. 

He reached over her body to lift her top knee, pulling it back and over his hip, spreading her open. He kissed the place between her shoulder and neck, hair tickling her pulse point. 

Ben reached back across her body and cupped her mound with his hand.  

“Okay if I show you?” he asked.  She nodded, and he sucked another kiss into her neck. 

One finger gently split her labia and slid into her.  She was still wet from his earlier efforts, and even though the intrusion was a new and shocking feeling, he entered her easily. 

He pumped the finger in and out slowly, then drew it in a slow circle inside her.

“See?” he whispered. “Like the TARDIS.  Bigger on the inside.” 

She choked back a laugh as his finger explored the spaces inside her. Her hips twitched when he crooked his finger and hit a new spot.

“There? Ah, there,” he said. He rubbed it a little harder, then let his finger vibrate against her.  She gasped when her body clenched around him involuntarily.

He withdrew his finger and she whimpered in protest. 

“Think you can handle two?” he asked her, his voice more smug now. 

She nodded.  She wasn’t sure, but she wanted his finger back inside her.

The press of two fingers into her wasn’t as easy.  There was a little edge of pain, a slight burn as he stretched her open.  But there was a corresponding satisfaction from the fullness. 

“You can take it,” he said into the crook of her neck as she squirmed around him. “You’ll do so well.” He pumped his two fingers in and out of her slowly until they were coated in her slick.  Rey bucked her hips against his palm, and he caught on, pressing on her clit with the heel of his hand. 

Rey gasped when her body began to flutter around his fingers.  “You’re right,” she stuttered.  “It would have been great.  I’m sorry I ruined it.” 

“You didn’t ruin it,” he sighed.  His arm was pressing her very tightly against him, and his cock was leaking pre-cum against her lower back. "I'm going to fuck you over that desk some day.  And everywhere else.  In every hole.  In every way.  I'm going to have my hands, and my mouth, and my cock on every single inch of your body."

Rey gasped and shuddered.  She was so wet now that his fingers made obscene noises as they slipped in and out of her.  

“But tonight," Ben said, "I’m just going to get you off like this then take a cold shower.  Unless that blowjob is still on the table?” 

“It definitely is,” she promised.  “Just another- minute,” she gasped when his fingers brushed that wonderful, hidden spot inside her.

“Three fingers?” he asked, biting her shoulder gently.  “Then you’ll know.” 

She hesitated.  This was a terrible idea.  A wonderful idea, but also a terrible idea.

“Just put it inside me,” she finally burst out.  “Just for a minute. Then I’ll know,” she said.

Ben froze, fingers still inside her.  She bucked her hips impatiently, and he resumed the small circles he’d been making. 

“Are you sure?” he said, voice quaking a little.

She nodded, clenching her eyes shut.  “I trust you,” she said. 

He pulled his fingers out of her, and her body protested the sudden emptiness.  He rolled away, leaving her back cold.  But then his broad palm was pushing her down on the bed again. 

She startled in surprise when he arranged her face down, and when he nudged her knees apart with his own. He paused, then grabbed a pillow from the head of the bed.  She obligingly lifted her pelvis when he thrust it underneath her.

“Just for a minute,” he repeated and she nodded, tucking her chin against her chest.

Deep breaths.  Don’t tense up. 

She thought he was touching her again with his fingers at first- just a gentle touch at her entrance. But then she realized it was the silky, broad head of his cock, barely slotted against her.  He pressed minutely forward and she closed her eyes. 

There was a moment where she thought something was wrong.  That her body was not built for this.  That he had the wrong place, or the wrong body part.  But then he slid inside an inch, then another, and she realized that she was made for this.  And then he was sliding into place, like two puzzle pieces snapping together.

“Is that all of it?” she gasped. 

“Most of it,” he grunted out.  He leaned forward, chest falling against her back, and kissed the nape of her neck. Most of his weight was suspended on his forearms, but there was enough to hold her firm against the mattress beneath him. 

She shuffled her hips a bit from side to side, testing her range of motion, and his own hips stuttered a bit, driving minutely forward inside her.  They both sucked in air at the same time, for different reasons.

“Rey, you need to hold still,” Ben said, a note of panic in his voice.

“I can’t, I-“ Rey was still squirming, trying to find a comfortable position.  Her body seemed determined to flex around the intrusion no matter how she shifted.

“Please, Rey,” Ben begged her.  He pulled back perhaps an inch, and Rey’s hips lifted to chase him.  He groaned and slid back inside her, opening her further. Her body spasmed around him again.  

“You can move, Ben,” she said.  Asked him. Pleaded with him.  She pushed back against his pelvis in one long, sinuous move. 

And that’s all it took for him to rip his body away from hers in one quick, painful stroke.  She felt bereft, empty.

And then shocked when she felt the searing fall of his spend across her ass.

“Fuck, Rey, just-“ Ben let out a long sigh as he finished coming.  She was cold and hot at once. 

He slumped to his side next to her, face showing a mix of astonishment, embarrassment, and wonder. He blinked rapidly, regaining himself. Then leaned forward to kiss her. He pushed at her shoulder to roll her over to her back. 

“Think you can…?” he asked, letting his fingers trail down her body to her cleft. 

“Yes,” she said instantly. “Please.” 

It took only a few moments of his thumb rubbing a circle around her clit before she closed her eyes and arched her back.  It was almost painful when she came, her body throbbing where he’d been.  But she heard his sigh of relief when he withdrew his fingers and pulled her into his arms again. 

“Does that count?” he mumbled against her ear. 

“It totally counts,” she said, understanding his meaning.  “But you’re not off the hook about the desk.  I’m reserving the language lab for next week.”

Chapter Text

Moodboard

 

 

It wasn’t all afterglow. There was the awkward issue of Rey being covered with semen, the awkward business of wiping it off, and then the (also awkward) responsibility of changing the bed sheets. 

Rey escaped to Ben’s shower for the last of these.  Once the noise of the spray filled the room, Rey accounted for her personal wellbeing. Body?  No more than marginally sore, considering.  More ‘good workout, bro,’ than ‘I survived the Battle of Blackwater.’  Mental faculties?  Alert, oriented.  Hormones were definitely a thing, and even now, normal bloodflow was only just returning to her extremities, but she didn’t feel impaired.  Mood?  Well…

Rey did a brief jig under the hot water, feet pounding the tiles.  

She was going to give Ben a giant high-five when she got out.  They were doing it.

As if summoned, he knocked politely on the door and asked to come in.

“Sure,” Rey called, thinking that if he needed to use the facilities, that was going to be uncomfortable for both of them, since his shower stall was one of those modern glass-walled affairs.  But instead, he walked confidently into the bathroom, opened the shower door, dropped the crumpled t-shirt he’d held modestly in front of his bits, and climbed in with her.  

“Pardon me,” he said, reaching around her for the body wash. 

Well, she thought, of course he needs to get clean too.  And it did conserve water.  It was very eco-conscious of him. 

“Please excuse me,” he said, reaching around her other side to replace the bottle.

It was just a little difficult to concentrate on shampooing her hair with Ben Solo looming large and wet and naked behind her, briskly rubbing all those muscles down with his liquid soap, even if that soap did smell like her seventh-grade homeroom.  

Even more difficult to concentrate when Ben courteously offered to help her get clean.  There was no reason to decline, especially when he grabbed the unscented bar soap and began tracing it across her body. Theoretically to clean her. Certainly her ass had gotten dirty. Her thighs too, she supposed.  She didn’t really recall her breasts needing quite the level of attention he was giving them, but she didn’t object. 

The jig was definitely up when she felt something poking her in the lower back/kidney area.

Was shower sex on the list? Would they be breaking protocol? She didn’t recall putting it on hers, so she figured it was an acceptable amendment to item four, and obligingly sank to her knees.

The tiles were hard, so she ended up kneeling on top of Ben’s long, crooked feet, cheek pressed hard against the taut, smooth skin of his abdomen.  His left hand tangled in her wet hair, scratching her scalp, while he stroked himself off with his right.  She loosely draped her own fingers over his.  Taking notes.  Longer strokes at first.  Then harder and shorter.  He was using his conditioner as lube.  This felt like an important piece of information towards solving the mystery that was his beautiful hair.  

“I’m gonna think about you every time I do this from now on,” he sighed.  She nodded against his tummy.  That was only right.  She’d barely had a sexuality before Ben. 

He sighed again when he came, gripping her hair painfully. But then he kneeled down with her and cupped her face with both hands.  His thumbs rubbed her cheekbones soothingly.  

“That was amazing,” he mumbled, eyes hooded with satisfaction. 

“I barely did anything. All night,” Rey reminded him. “You’re the one who’s some kind of savant at this.”  

That brought a pleased smile to his face. 

“I think I’ve probably just spent more time thinking about it,” he said.  

Rey wasn’t sure that was true either.  At least not since they’d started this. 

He told her that his water heater would crap out at any second, so they hurried out of the shower and Rey wrapped herself in one of his black towels.  Before she could even finish combing her hair out with one of the tiny black things boys used, Ben was back in the bathroom and offering her an over-sized black t-shirt that proclaimed the wearer to be a member of the Chandrila Boys’ Latin Mathletics Team ’13. 

When she pulled it on, he grinned at her like he’d done something clever then went back to his dresser to pull on a pair of waffle-knit sleep pants.  

He saw her watching him and sat down on the edge of his bed.

“Are you tired?  Do you want to watch some TV?  Or, uh…do something else?”

His eyebrows left no question as to which activities he included in ‘something else.’ 

“Um,” Rey said. “Probably a little sore for anything else.” 

He blushed, frowning. “I forgot.  Of course.  Hold on." 

Rey wrapped a black hand towel around her head while he left the room.  He reappeared quickly holding a bag of frozen chopped spinach. 

“Um,” Rey said again. “What?” 

“Here, lie down,” Ben said, gesturing at his bed.  Rey wasn’t sure what he was doing, but he hadn’t had a bad idea all night, so she arranged herself on his bed.  On what she thought had to be his side, given the delicious smell of the pillowcase. She was going to get it all wet with her hair.  Oh well. Worse things had happened to his linens.  

Rey stared blankly at him when he passed her the bag of frozen spinach.

“You know,” he said. “For your…”  An inelegant gesture towards her crotch. 

She snorted.  “Really Ben?” 

“It helps when I pull something on leg day,” he said defensively. 

So that’s how she ended up in his bed, straddling the package of frozen spinach.  Ben finished what had to be his evening routine, turning out lights and checking the locks on his front door.  

Rey bit her lip.  She didn’t have her bike.  Or a toothbrush, or a change of clothes, or…. 

A plan for how to handle Ben Solo, still shirtless and climbing into bed with her.

“Um.  You could drive me home tonight.  I could just put my clothes back on.” 

“I already put them in the washer,” he said, giving her a guileless look.   “I’ll put them in the dryer when I hear the beep, but that’ll be hours.” 

“I don’t even have underwear.  Or a toothbrush,” she said. 

“I don’t mind if you use mine,” he said.

“And…I really need to go to the student health clinic.  Like first thing tomorrow morning,” Rey said, staring down at her abdomen as if she could spy any rogue gametes traveling under the wire. 

Ben ran his hand through his drying hair.  It was already forming beautiful waves.  Apparently it just did that.  Rey had wondered if he had a secret stash of foam rollers under his sink console, but no, God was just unfair to women.

“Yeah, you’re right, but I’ll drive you, of course,” he said. 

“Oh, I wouldn’t make you do that,” Rey said.  “It’ll be the worst, so embarrassing, and it’s not your fault.” 

Ben frowned at her, lower lip jutting aggressively.  “You don’t have to make me.  And it is my fault you have to go.” 

 Rey opened her mouth to form another objection, and Ben cut her off.

“…and I bought a bunch of fruit this week.  It’ll go bad if I don’t make it into smoothies tomorrow.  And there’s too much for just me.”

Rey squinted at him. “What kind of fruit?” 

Ben took the mostly-defrosted spinach from her, tossed it at the trashcan across the room, and then flipped his duvet over both of them. 

“Strawberries and mango,” he said.  “And I have some Greek yogurt that’s expiring too.” 

“Hmm,” she said.   She couldn’t let food go bad.  That was, like, against her religion.

Sensing his advantage, Ben told her that he would make scrambled eggs too, and Rey could hardly demand to be taken home in the face of such logic. 

Moving very slowly and deliberately, Ben inched nearer to her in the bed, pulling her closer to him and arranging her so that her head was pillowed on his chest.  

“I might snore and I definitely drool,” she warned him. 

“’S fine,” Ben said, yawning. He brushed her hair with his knuckles.

Rey didn’t see how it could be fine.  Or that comfortable for him.  And wasn’t he supposed to be some kind of insomniac?  He’d messaged her at random, small-numbered hours before, about homework and game updates and stuff like that. 

She squirmed, and he started running his hand across her back between her shoulder blades.  It felt good.  Really good, actually.  And his chest was warm, and the thud of his heartbeat was white noise, and…

And Rey fell asleep.

 * * * 

“Hi, this is Rey Jackson, I’d like to make a birth control appointment?”

Rey had to borrow Ben’s phone; hers was dead and Ben told her he didn’t have a appropriate charger because her phone ought to have been collected in a museum display alongside punch card computers, vacuum tubes, and other obsolete technologies.  

It was hard to curse him out with a mouthful of delicious scrambled eggs, though. 

“Sure thing, sweetie, how does the 4th at 3 work?” the receptionist asked, naming a date midway through the next week.

“Oh,” Rey said, watching Ben as he efficiently washed and dried the dishes.  He still didn’t have a shirt on, though he’d provided Rey with a pair of boxer shorts in black plaid to put on under his Mathletes jersey. “Um.  Do you have anything sooner?  I kind of need to see someone about birth control…now-ish.” 

Rey heard the medical receptionist stop typing and adjust her hold on the phone.

“Have you had unprotected intercourse in the last 72 hours?” the woman asked briskly.

Rey wondered if that approximate minute and forty-five seconds the previous evening was relevant to the inquiry, but she remembered that she and Ben had decided it counted.

“Assume yes,” she said.  

There was a brief, non-judgmental silence while the receptionist clicked on the other end of the phone. 

“Dr. Holdo can fit you in at 9:45, if you can make it,” the receptionist told her. 

Rey confirmed the appointment and hung up. 

“Everything okay?” Ben asked, coming up from behind her.  She nodded, then meeped a bit when he wrapped his arms around her and rested his chin on her shoulder. It was very confusing, how much he touched her.   If Rey were to take the average of the days of her life she could remember, the number of times she was touched per day was…zero.  

The state did not encourage foster parents to be physically demonstrative with their charges, for liability reasons.  She couldn’t really recall her parents, but they hadn’t been the hugging type, obviously. Finn was warm and affectionate, but it was generally limited to a high five or a soft punch on the shoulder. 

She was fairly certain she’d been touched more in the past 12 hours than the previous 12 years.  

“Mmmhmm,” Rey said.

 * * *  

Rey was familiar with the student health clinic; it was where she got her flu shot every fall, and she’d been once for an ear infection and once for a nasty gash when she was knocked off her bike by a distracted sorority girl doing 35 in the drop-off zone of the administrative building.  She didn’t have a doctor, per se.  She’d just seen whoever was available.  Mostly residents from the medical school getting clinic hours.

Dr. Holdo was obviously not a resident, and Rey was positive she would have remembered anyone with lavender hair, nails painted to match, and a watercolor tattoo of the cover of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH across her chest, peeking out above her white coat.  

“So, what are you thinking for long-term birth control?” Dr. Holdo asked her once the small talk was over.  

Rey appreciated the gesture of the small talk, but it was hard to make pleasant conversation while her ass was in the air on the exam table, even if the stirrups were covered in pink faux fur and the room was well-heated. 

Rey shrugged.  “The Pill, I guess.  I’m pretty responsible.”  Dr. Holdo gave her a slightly skeptical look.

“Present circumstances excepted, I guess,” Rey mumbled.  

Dr. Holdo flipped her chart over.

“Is that your young man in the waiting room?” she asked.

“Sorry?” Rey said, confused.   “My what?”

Dr. Holdo smiled at her. “I can’t keep up with the lingo, and I can’t begin to parse what makes someone your boyfriend under the modern test, but if the young man working his way through last summer’s People magazine in the waiting room is your long-term partner, I could recommend an IUD instead of the Pill.  There’s one that works immediately, so I won’t have to prescribe emergency birth control.” 

Rey blushed.  It wasn’t like she could say Ben and she were long-term, but she scarcely thought she’d be sleeping with anyone else.

“Can I afford that?” she asked.  She’d already budgeted for a monthly medication, but didn’t have a lot of cash for anything fancy.

“Should be free under Organacare,” Dr. Holdo said, going to a cabinet in her office and pulling out a shrink-wrapped box.  She passed it to Rey and explained a few of the side effects.  The picture depicted a t-shaped device wrapped in copper wire.  It looked tiny and harmless, and certainly the smallest thing that would have entered her body in the previous solar cycle.  Rey readily agreed. 

“Do you want me to go get him to hold your hand for the insertion? It can pinch a little,” Dr. Holdo warned her. 

Rey wanted to throw herself out the window at the mere thought of asking Ben to come in and observe this, and shook her head violently. 

“Alright, then,” Dr. Holdo said, shrugging cheerfully and ducking under the edge of Rey’s exam gown. 

“Pinch a little” turned out to be a vast understatement, and Rey’s understanding of her own anatomy was turned on its head.  It did NOT go where things had gone the previous evening, but into places unknown and best left undisturbed. 

“Motherforking shirtballs!” she yelped, making Dr. Holdo chuckle. 

“I watch that show too!” Dr. Holdo said.  “It’s so good.” 

Rey tried to make her snarl into a look of understanding, but wasn’t certain she succeeded.  She’d thought the painful part was over.

“Mind if I go out and say ‘hi’ to him?” Dr. Holdo asked, once Rey had swapped out her paper robe for her dress and boots, and was signing her discharge paperwork.  “I’m actually good friends with his mother.”

“What?” Rey said, head snapping up.  She had not realized Dr. Holdo actually knew Ben.  “I thought Ben was from Chandrila?”

“Well, of course,” Dr. Holdo said, tilting her head.  “But Leia lives here in Alderaan now.  Because of the Senate.” 

Rey was confused- if Ben’s mother lived in the city, why had he never mentioned her in four years? Rey didn’t know what normal families did, but Rose met her sister for brunch every week, and she had the vague recollection that Poe called his own parents every Sunday. 

“Um,” Rey stuttered, trying to buy time to think, but Dr. Holdo had taken her silence as consent, and was already opening the door to the waiting room.

Ben definitely knew who she was- he dropped the magazine he was holding and stood up, face turning white, and then red.

“Ben!” Dr. Holdo said, opening her arms.  Ben didn’t move.   Dr. Holdo wasn’t about to be deterred by a little thing like that, it seemed, and squeezed his shoulders before looping one over them.  “I haven’t seen you in years.  Just look at you.”  She squeezed again.   “All grown up.”  And still making poor decisions, like having unprotected sex with some random girl without any family, was the subtext Rey heard. 

Ben scowled, unconsciously tugging his hair over his ears.

“Your mother talks about you all the time,” Dr. Holdo said gently. 

“I doubt she means anything by it,” Ben said in a bitter tone of voice.

Rey tried to edge towards the door. 

“You should call her. She misses you,” Dr. Holdo continued on, undaunted.

“Just stop,” Ben snarled. “She knows where I live.  You don’t know anything about it.” 

Rey tried to turn the latch quietly, but Ben heard.  Both he and Dr. Holdo stared at her.  Rey made that grimace-smile again.

“Excuse me.  We need to go,” Ben said to Dr. Holdo, stomping towards Rey and taking the doorknob from her.

Oh.  So they were leaving together. 

Ben’s face remained stormy as he piloted her back to the student parking lot, fingertips pressed against her lower back. 

It was a lot.  The past day, this morning, whatever that had been with Dr. Holdo- a lot.

“Hey,” said Rey. “Instead of dropping me off, do you want to go play some Next Gen?  Lab shouldn’t be too full on a Saturday.” 

Ben stopped. Looked at her. Although he’d been touching her, she could tell his head was off somewhere completely different.  He focused now.

“Yeah,” he said. “The game sounds good.”

 * * * 

They’d fallen behind in the meta, and it took several hours of hard work before Rey and Ben felt that their characters were back up to relative position.   Ben ordered a pizza, so they didn’t leave for lunch.  But late afternoon was a dead time for raids, and by 4 pm or so, they were both done with playing and ready to leave.  Rey’s knight had a new shield, and Ben leveled up for the first time in weeks.  And Ben, at least, looked a lot calmer than when he’d left the health clinic with her. She walked with him to his car, since she still didn’t have her bike back. 

They didn’t have to talk much.  Nothing outside the bounds of their comfortable friendship. Nothing that would suggest  to a neutral, third party observer that she knew what kind of underwear he preferred (none).  

It still felt a little…sad. Somehow sad when he pulled up to her apartment.   She didn’t know why.  It had, after all, gone exceedingly well, in comparison to some of the horror stories she’d heard whispered in hallways and locker rooms over the years.  Yes, the whole health clinic diversion was somewhat unfortunate, but not in any kind of irreversible way.  And it wasn’t over, by any means- they were just getting started on a list that included amazing and forbidden delights of the NSFW variety. 

Maybe it was just that it felt like they had more left unsaid.  Rey would have to think about that.

She gave him a lingering kiss before opening her car door, and gently rebuffed his offer to walk her up. 

She was a little worried about what Finn would say when she came home; it wasn’t like she made a habit of staying out all night.  And her phone had been off.  He’d probably lecture her.

So she was already dreading it when she opened the door.

It was like a scene out of her nightmares. 

They were naked.  All of them.  ALL NAKED.

Her brain could not quite process what exactly was going on, but it was happening on HER FUTON. 

NAKED.

Poe squawked first, so she didn’t have to.  Finn dove to the floor, grabbing at a throw pillow to recover his modesty. 

And Rose started laughing- it was tinged with hysteria, certainly, but it was laughter.

For Rey’s part, her brain completed its hard restart, she decided that the only acceptable course of action was to take a step back and gently shut the door.

She was running back down the stairs before she could really articulate what her plan was. 

“Ben!” she yelled when she reached the first floor landing.

It was unnecessary; when she made it all the way down the stairs, she saw that he was still parked there, looking at his phone.  His eyes widened when he saw her running, and he opened his door. 

“What’s wrong?” he asked, alarmed.  He probably thought she’d seen dead bodies or something from the look on her face.  If they didn’t have to be her friends’ dead bodies, that would have been preferable to seeing Poe’s penis.  As she now knew, it was very hard to get the fact that she’d seen someone’s penis out of her head when she had to interact with him in other, non-naked situations. 

“Oh God, do not ask me. I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. 

Ben’s eyes were still wide. “Should I go up and check?  Do I need to call the cops?”

“No!” she yelled, bracing herself against the car. “No.  Do not go up there.  You won’t be able to unsee it.  The naked. On my futon.” 

Ben stared at her for a second while his mind caught up with that, then relaxed.  He snorted.  “Okay, I’ll take your word for it.  Do you need help buying a new futon?”

They can buy me a new futon,” she said.  “Or dry clean it, or something.  Cover it with salt and burn it.  God.” 

Ben closed his door, then leaned across to open hers.

She reluctantly sat back down in his car.  

“I’m sorry to ask.  Do you mind if I stay over again?” she bit her lip.  She hated to impose on him.  He’d been so nice about everything. 

“Don’t be sorry.  And never.  I mean, I never mind.” 

Rey sighed, closing her eyes and relaxing against his leather seats.  

Ben sat there with her quietly for a minute, then turned on the stereo.  It was still on the classic rock channel. 

“Do you want to get dinner?” he asked.  “We could go out somewhere…"

“Oh, you don’t have to. I can cook.  It’s the least I can do. And I should probably hit up the grocery store for a toothbrush and some girl-smelling soap.  If it’s not a hassle.” 

He perked up quite a bit at that, and drove them down to a big suburban supermarket that was usually out of Rey’s reach during the winter.  It had a much bigger selection than the local bodega where Rey had to buy most of their groceries, not to mention better prices, so Rey loaded up on toothbrushes, deodorant, razors, clean underwear, and other dry goods she usually had difficulty acquiring.  Ben viewed the entire process with solemn calm. 

Ben was even unflinching when she tossed a box of tampons into the grocery cart.  He gave her a level stare, then tossed in a bottle of lube from the other side of the aisle.  Challenge accepted, Ben Solo.  Challenge accepted. 

“So, what’s the next thing on the list?” he asked conversationally as she poked through the sale bin in the hopes of finding cheap steak. 

Rey jerked and looked around before she realized that nobody else could possibly know what they were talking about.  Then she smiled.

“Well, we still need to finish up item 4,” she reminded him.  “But item 5 is cosplay.” 

“Wait, what?” Ben said. “I’m positive I didn’t put that on my list.  I don’t do cosplay.”  

Rey waived an airy hand. “You had roleplay on it.”  Ah ha, there was a package of tenderloin down beneath a pile of pork butt.  

Ben frowned at her. “That is very different from cosplay.” 

“The program didn’t think so,” Rey told him.  “It’s just pretending to be someone else.”  She could make Mongolian beef.  That one always went over well with Finn and Poe.  

“I want to see your source code,” Ben said.  “Equating roleplay with cosplay sounds more like furry logic than fuzzy logic.”

“Har har, I’m not a furry,” Rey said.  She moved to the produce aisle in search of broccoli. 

“What do you cosplay as then?” Ben asked. 

“Kira, my Star Wars character,” she told him, unembarrassed.  Her costume was awesome and had taken her forever to make.  “I’m going to a con next weekend with my asshole roommate and his asshole boyfriend and his adorable asshole girlfriend.”

Ben rubbed the back of his neck.  “That’s not really cosplay,” he said, unconvincingly.  “I have a Lord Ren costume from high school.”

“Well, there you go,” Rey told him.  “You can come to the con.  It’s just local, so it’s not sold out.” 

“But that means we’d have to wait until next week to get to item 5,” he said, mind still apparently on one track as she verified his possession of rice and soy sauce and garlic. 

“You want to skip ahead?” she said. 

“Maybe, what is it?” 

“Ropes, I think,” Rey said. “Not sure on whom.  If you want me to tie you up, you have to give me some time to research it.  I don’t want to strangle you or anything.”  

Ben paused, falling behind Rey as she rolled the cart down the aisle.  When she looked back at him he jogged to catch up to her. 

“I was an Eagle Scout,” he whispered into her ear. 

“That sounds promising,” she said. 

“I know far more than the eight basic knots,” he said, doing his level best to sound seductive.

“Uh huh,” she said. 

“To get my climbing badge, I had to learn how to tie knots that would support my entire body weight,” he said, now with his lips pressed below her ear.

“You know,” said Rey. “We could just get a frozen lasagna and cut the food prep time.” 

“Agree,” said Ben.

 * * * 

Ben refused to wear the helmet, but the box of climbing gear that Ben pulled out of his closet was otherwise more than sufficient for their needs. 

Rey tried to help, but Ben told her that in this situation, literally her job was to get naked and lean on the desk while he trussed her up with the climbing rope. 

“Woman,” he said. “Let me work.” 

So Rey complied, but not before reminding him that she was a fast learner and if he left her in some kind of embarrassing position, he was going to discover that turnabout was fair play when it came time for hentai week.

“Noted,” he said. “But for now, I would suggest that you stop wiggling around, because struggling will only make the knots tighter.”

And something about the way that he said that made damp and anxious, though he hadn’t touched her at all other than as necessary to bind her wrists together. 

He was all but whistling a happy tune as he kicked her ankles apart with a bare and gentle foot to tie them to separate legs of the desk. 

But when it was done and Rey couldn’t do anything more than lift her head, he paused.  She flexed her wrists.  He’d done a good job; she couldn’t move but she didn’t think her circulation was in any danger.  She tried to look back at him, but didn’t have that much flexibility.   

“Shhh,” he said, resting his big hand on her back.  “Don’t worry about it.  You know I can do anything I want, so you don’t have to worry about it.” 

“Um,” said Rey.  “That is exactly why I am worried about it.” 

He walked around the desk, taking in the results of his handiwork. 

He wasn’t naked yet, but he was palming his cock through the soft, faded sweatpants he wore.  He came around in front of her and squatted on the ground. 

“Everything feel good?” he inquired. 

“Well.  Yes,” Rey admitted.  “But it could get better.   Like, you could do something now that I’m all tied down.” 

“Hmmm,” said Ben.  He stood up.  Put his hands on his hips.  Walked back around behind her.

She felt his gaze on her exposed backside like a ray of sunlight, but he still didn’t touch her.

“I’m actually kind of hungry,” he said.  

Their lasagna was in the oven, but the timer still showed 40 minutes left.

“I think I’ll have an orange while I wait.”

“What?” Rey sputtered. “You’re just going to leave me here?”

“Not forever,” he said. “Hold on.”    And he actually walked back into his kitchen and grabbed an orange from the fruit bowl. 

He was making a big deal out of his nonchalance, but Rey could see his hands shaking minutely as he started peeling the orange.  Not to mention the large, triangular shape in the front of his pants. 

“Want some?” he asked after he’d sectioned the orange.  He popped a slice in his mouth, offered it to her.  She shook her head, cheeks burning.

“More for me,” he shrugged. He quickly but calmly ate the rest, leaving the peel on the floor in front of her.  “Oh,” he said.  “Now my fingers are all sticky.  Lick them clean for me?”

He pressed a thumb to her lips, and Rey obligingly sucked it into her mouth.  She could hear his breath pick up as she licked the juice off his fingers, so she retaliated by nipping a little.

“I really don’t think you want to misbehave while you’re in this position,” he warned her. 

“Promises, promises,” she said.  “What are you going to do about it, Solo?” 

He paused.  Maybe he hadn’t thought that far ahead.

“Uh, spank you?  I think?”  

“Think so?”

His eyes darkened at the challenge.  She heard him circle back around her.  His hand swept over her rear end.   He clutched the globe of one cheek, fingers digging in a little.  

Another pause, while she imagined him working up the nerve.  Then a quick swat, so brief it made no noise.

She wiggled.  “I barely felt that,” she said. 

The second one was harder, and it made a satisfying noise. 

“Mmm, I’m still not convinced you mean it,” Rey told him. The third one was hard enough to sting, and Rey bit back a yelp, but it was swiftly followed by the cooling balm of Ben’s mouth.

He swiped his tongue across her folds, wetter and bolder than the previous night.  The thumb she’d sucked clean pressed against her.

“You already feel really good,” he said, voice thick and rich.  “I think you like this.”

“Yeah,” Rey panting, a little pained at the admission.  “I do.”

“What do you like?” he said, two fingers running alongside her clit.  “The ropes?  The spanking? The position?” 

“You,” Rey said, gasping when his thumb slid back inside her.

Ben paused again, and she wondered if that was too much to say.  But then she heard the rustle of cloth as he kicked off his pants. 

She heard the click of some kind of bottle, and his fingers were wet when they touched her again. The cool of it was soothing, even when he pushed two of them inside her. 

“I like you too,” he said faintly.  “Everything we do.”  

Rey nodded, her throat tight. 

Ben cleared his throat. “And I’m going to fuck you now, okay? Harder than before?”

“That’s still a question?” she said, trying to turn her head so that he could see her smile.

The press of his cock as he breached her still took her breath away.  Despite his words, the first few thrusts were slow and tentative. Then he gave a little sigh and leaned forward, body covering hers.  He gripped the edge of the table next to her shoulders. 

The next thrust was hard and punishing.  Rey squeaked in surprise, body clenching around him.  He groaned in response.  Then did it again.  And again. It hurt, a little.  But it was somehow worse that she…liked that.  Felt a warm wave of pleasure with each small pain.  

Rey could barely brace herself by pushing her hips against the desk.  She couldn’t lift up off of the top, couldn’t hold on.  All she could do was relax her hips and take it, his thrusts coming faster and faster until she could feel his balls swinging against her clit with every snap of his hips.

He shifted his weight until his cheek was pressed against her neck.  Ben opened his mouth and pressed a sucking kiss there, shoulders caging her own.  

“I’m close,” he muttered. His hips were moving so quickly that she could no longer follow the rhythm, or try to match it.

“Do it,” she said, her own body clenching around him at the thought of it.

She could feel it inside her when he came.  It was almost a stinging sensation, and she remembered how hot it felt when he came across her ass.  It was like he was just a few degrees warmer than her.  His hips bucked against hers a few more times, much more slowly.  And she felt it with an almost painful sense of loss when he slipped out of her. 

He didn’t let her up though, limbs becoming almost unbearably heavy.  He pressed the side of his face against hers, and a bead of his sweat slipped down her neck.

Ben ran both hands down her back, sighing. 

“Are you okay?” he asked.  

“Mmmmhmm,” Rey said. She didn’t think she could talk. Ben quickly went to the knots at her ankles with shaking fingers, and as good as his word, quickly had her free.

She felt a little shaky too. Her fingers weren’t blue or anything, but she had pins and needles, and unfamiliar hormones in her body, and she stared down at her hands.

Ben cocked his head and looked at her again. 

“You’re sure you’re okay?” he repeated.

“Uh huh,” Rey said. Something about her must have looked not okay, though, because Ben wrapped an arm around her shoulders and piloted her back into his bedroom. 

She let him wrap his duvet around her like a burrito and lie her down on the bed.

“Was it the spanking? Was that too much?” he asked, worrying his lower lip. 

She shook her head. “No,” she said.  “It was just…I liked it a lot.”  She swallowed hard.  “I think I might have a few wires crossed.” 

Ben collapsed next to her, something like relief on his face. 

“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, me too.” 

Chapter Text

Ben was a restless sleeper. Or maybe she was.  She’d slept in a bed before, of course, but it was hardly the usual place of rest for her across the average of her life.  Couches and futons and makeshift pallets on the floor were much more her thing. 

Anyway, she awoke fleetingly throughout the night to find herself arranged against Ben in different configurations:  sprawled across his chest, pinned beneath his heavy leg, even clinging to his broad back like a tiny, sweaty spider-monkey.  Always in contact with him, even if it was just his toes tucked up against the back of her ankle. And Rey would stir only long enough to register and catalog the contact before sinking into sleep again. 

The last time that she awoke, she found herself facing him and lying across most of the pillows. His head was below hers, and his black curls were tickling her nose.  One of his hands was splayed over her knee.  There was light filtering in around the edges of the plantation shutters over his bedroom window; it had to be at least eight o’clock. 

Ben was still soundly asleep though, his breath coming slow and deep. Rey savored the opportunity to stare at him unobserved.  His features were soft and slack, his lower lip slightly ajar.  Moving very gently, Rey eased the duvet back down the bed, exposing their bodies to the light.

Ben wore only a pair of cut-off sweatpants, and Rey only an oversized, worn t-shirt depicting the Torchwood Institute logo.  She had tentatively decided that she was keeping it, subject only to any difficulties that might arise in smuggling it out of Ben’s apartment. 

Rey tentatively rubbed her thighs together, imagining that she could push Ben onto his back and straddle him before he woke up.  But the answering twinge between her legs told her that was a losing proposition. She needed to develop….callouses, or something.  Whatever people got so that they didn’t have to say ‘it’s been a while’ before they had sex. She wasn’t certain exactly what bodily adaptations she could expect, but she welcomed them. 

In their absence, however, she shimmied down the bed, unveiling Ben’s soft, warm underbelly as she went. The scent of his skin in the morning light was delicious, and she chased it down his stomach, pressing butterfly-light kisses along his center.  She rubbed her cheek against the downy line of black fur that descended to his waistband. 

His eyes were still closed when she peeked up at him, but she thought she saw the hint of a smile on his face when she nibbled at the little indentation between the rise of his stomach and his hip.  So she grasped the waistband of his shorts and tugged them down to his knees.

She had never really seen him naked when he wasn’t fully erect before, and she enjoyed the opportunity to explore his colors and textures at her leisure.  He was was still thick and heavy, yet somehow tender when she brushed him with her cheek.  

Ben made a sleepy murmur of satisfaction when she began to run kisses around the curve of his hip, through his soft patch of black curls, and down the lengthening expanse of his cock. 

“This is a good dream,” he murmured when she laid an open-mouthed kiss on his tip. 

The experience felt softer like this: on their sides, the light morning-white, Ben’s breaths of satisfaction the only noise in the room.  Rey relaxed her lips and throat and experimentally slid further.  She couldn’t slide all the way down, not hardly, but Ben’s hands fisted on empty air, and then slid into her loose and messy hair.  His hands did not push or pull, but instead stroked through her hair at the rhythm he wanted. 

It was slower than before, but she knew how deeply he was affected by the way he throbbed between her lips.  They met halfway between the movements of her head and the tilt of his hips. 

She lifted her hands between them, using one to bridge the gap between her lips and Ben’s base and the other to cradle his balls.

“Further back,” Ben told her.

“Hmmm?” she hummed around his cock.

“Reach further back behind…that’s my taint,” Ben said, shifting his top leg back to allow her access. “I think, anyway.” 

Rey slid her hand back, pressing her hand up against his body.  It didn’t feel like anything special, but Ben coughed and bit down on a couple of knuckles when she slid two fingers against him. 

“Will you swallow this time?” were the next words he said to her, his voice still thick from sleep. She sucked a little harder as she nodded, and his breaths stuttered.  “Good, I’m close,” he said.  

Rey tightened her lips around his cock, humming her approval at the minute thrusts of his hips.  

“Rey,” he sighed when he came, her name like a prayer.  And this act felt somehow more intimate than the sex they’d had the night before. It made her close her eyes and hide her face against his stomach after she drank him down, even though he was pulling up at her shoulders. 

“Come up here, I wanna kiss you,” he mumbled.  Rey laughed into his bellybutton, tickling it with her nose.

“No, no, I’ve now got the worst case of morning breath you could imagine,” she giggled.  

“It’ll be more like morning wood breath, and I don’t care,” Ben grumbled, finally pushing off the headboard to scoot down to her level. 

He grabbed her face with both hands, and was close to kissing her over her growing shrieks of protest when they heard the shrill electronic buzz of his doorbell.  They froze. 

“Ignore it, just the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Ben said.

A second later, the doorbell buzzed again.

“They must really know your soul needs extra saving this weekend,” Rey suggested. 

Ben didn’t respond as he listened to the knocking, face intent.

After a moment, Rey heard the faint noise of the front door scraping open. 

“Benjamin Amidala Organa Solo!” a woman’s voice rang out, only slightly muffled by Ben’s bedroom door.

“Oh, fuck goats,” Ben swore viciously, his entire body freezing taut.  “That’s my mom.”

 * * * 

Rey was stuck like a rat in a trap after Ben wordlessly slipped through his bedroom door and shut it behind him.  She couldn’t even go to the bathroom, because she didn’t know if the other door was open to the living room, and making eye contact with Ben’s mother while closing his bathroom door was the stuff of nightmares. 

So Rey was left behind in the bedroom, listening to bits and phrases of Ben arguing with his mother in increasingly loud voices. 

Loud angry voices were Rey’s kryptonite.  There weren’t enough baked goods in the world for her to smooth over the things they were saying to each other.

“…and so this is, what, a box you need to check to ensure you retain the moral high ground?” Ben yelled.

“…like you weren’t throwing down the gauntlet, that I should hear from Amilyn how well you’re doing instead of…” his mother yelled right back at him.

“…could have just made something up, you’re good at that…”

Eventually, Rey couldn’t stand it any longer.  She rummaged through Ben’s drawers in a panic until she found a pair of drawstring exercise pants that would hold up around her waist if knotted tightly enough.  She stole a sweatshirt next, glad that it was loose enough to conceal her bra-less state.  Athletic socks.  She’d have to find her own boots; she cringed when she recalled that they were puddled in Ben’s living room alongside her dress and, oh god, her underwear, Ben’s mom might see her dirty underwear right on the floor. 

When the voices outside the room reached a crescendo, Rey swiftly opened the door and walked out as though she knew what she was doing. 

Ben’s mother was smaller than Rey might have expected, but flawlessly dressed from her steel-grey chignon to a stylish felt kimono jacket to her pleated silk trousers.  

Rey lunged for her boots as Ben’s mother studied her.

“Ben, you didn’t tell me your girlfriend was here,” she said to him in a sharp tone of voice. 

Ben was in the kitchen, unpacking a large, brown paper sack of food.  Bagels and tubs of cream cheese and a waxed paper package of some kind of smoked fish.  He didn’t turn around at his mother’s latest rebuke.

“Oh!” said Rey, who was trying to knock her wadded clothes out of sight under the coffee table. “It’s okay.  I’m not his girlfriend.  Just a friend.” 

Rey made the kind of apologetic grimace-smile she reserved for school administrators and the dental hygienists.   She wobbled as she tried to stuff a leg clad in oversized men’s clothing into her brown leather boots.  Had to sit down on the couch.  

Ben’s mother took the opportunity to stick out a hand. 

“Leia,” she said, eyebrow quirked in challenge.   Leia was beautiful: Rey could see where Ben got his strong but clear-cut features.

Rey briefly touched Leia’s hand, repeating her name. 

Then Rey jerked her hand back when she remembered that the last thing those hands had touched was this woman’s son’s genitals.

“Are you Rey?” Leia asked, still as calm and collected as a frozen pond.  

“Yep!  That’s me,” Rey said, making that rictus-smile again before the intrusive, horrifying thought that she might have Ben’s sperm still stuck between her teeth had her snapping her jaw closed. 

“Well, I hope you are staying for breakfast,” Leia said, shifting to glare at her son’s back.  Ben stiffened but did not turn around. 

“Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly intrude,” Rey whimpered, searching the room for her purse.  She found it behind the couch and lunged for the door.  “I was just stopping by,” she lied weakly.

Ben finally turned and stared at her, his face blank. 

This had to be even worse for him, Rey thought.  His mother catching him with some random girl.  If she were a stronger person, she could have hid in his closet or something until Leia left.  If she’d dealt with the naked roommate situation on her own, she wouldn’t even have had to impose on him.  But she was weak, and now she had to flee before Leia could begin the interrogation she clearly wished to lay on them both. 

Rey bleated something along the lines of ‘nice to meet you,’ before hurling herself out Ben’s front door. She made it all the way into the parking lot before she recalled that she didn’t have her bike.  And it was starting to snow.

 * * * 

After two cold, uncomfortable miles wearing bits and pieces of Ben’s clothing, Rey finally limped home. She would have summoned a cab or something, but her phone was a useless dead brick.  Rey couldn’t put her finger on exactly which of her life choices had led her to this moment when she summited the three flights of stairs to her apartment, but the three faces that greeted her when she opened her own front door were clearly of one opinion:  Rey had fucked up. 

All three of them were arrayed on Rey’s futon.  Their posture was identical: crossed arms.  Finn looked furious.  Poe looked reproachful.  Rose…looked mildly guilty.  

“Where have you been, young lady?” Finn growled at her.  

Rey stared at them. She’d already fled one tense situation that morning.  She had no food to distract them.  She possessed a very limited toolkit to deal with emotionally charged interactions, and she’d already exhausted it.  

So she cried. 

Instantly, she was surrounded by the press of three concerned bodies, who wanted to pat her head and back, check her for injuries, and question her as to her whereabouts and apparent distress. 

“I tried to come home yesterday!” she sobbed through the maze of remonstrations and reassurances, all of which were occurring at least partially in languages she didn’t speak. “But you were d-d-doing it on my futon!”  She thought it was very important not to let their own responsibility for this situation be lost. 

“I’m sorry!” Rose gasped. “We did text you.  But the light was perfect and we didn’t think you’d be back-“ Rose started. 

Rose didn’t think you’d be back, because she was the only one who knew you were off screwing Ben Solo-” Finn broke in. 

“And I didn’t have a clue what that meant but I was still very worried!” Poe finished.  

Rey sorted through those statements as they were flung at her and grabbed one strand at random. 

“What do you mean the light? You were filming yourselves in here??” 

Instantly, there was more distance around her as the three of her friends found urgent household tasks to complete. 

“Well, you know…” Finn said weakly.  “Rose is making kind of a movie.  It’s really good.  Not that kind of movie!  It has a plot.”

Apparently bad choices had abounded this weekend.  

“If you’re having real sex in the movie I’m pretty sure it’s a porn,” Rey told him. 

Finn shook his head at her. “No, no, she’s editing out a lot of the…stuff.  Including our faces.”  He led her to her futon and pressed her to sit on it.  

“What kind of movie edits out the actor’s faces?” she questioned him.  

“Oh, it’s about werewolves!” Rose called from the kitchen, where she was putting a kettle on. 

Rey decided to pursue the question no further, even when Poe began to argue that he’d really rather be a jaguar-shifter with the air of a man who has made his position known before. 

“Anyway, I’m sorry you had to see that, Peanut,” Finn said.  “And we’ll work out some kind of sock-on-the-doorknob signal in the future. But really, we need to talk about you. Ben?  Really?”

Rey snuffled and wiped her nose on the sleeve of Ben’s sweatshirt.  “What’s wrong with Ben?” she said.  

“Other than the guy looks like a grown-up Wednesday Addams who juices?  Maybe because he’s an asshole?  And his friends are all assholes?  Peanut, you can do so much better.” 

Rey shook her head, tears still stuffing up her nasal passages.  “He’s not an asshole.  What did he ever do to you?”

Finn pouted at her. “Remember that time that Hux accused me of cheating off his test just because I got the same score as him?  Or when Phasma shocked me in the optical engineering lab with an incomplete circuit and told the whole class I peed myself? I remember, because those things happened this month!” 

Rey sniffed back her tears. “That’s not him.  You can’t put those things on him.”  

Rose came into the living room to press a mug of chamomile tea into Rey’s hands, and Rey smiled at her gratefully.  “And besides, I gave him a squeezer in Hux’ Jacuzzi.  We can call it revenge on your behalf,” Rey explained.  

Finn covered his face with his hands.  “I don’t wanna know what you get up to with him!  I don’t like it.” 

Poe dropped down next to Finn on the futon.  “Your little girl’s growing up, dad,” he said, putting an arm around Finn’s shoulders. “Was bound to happen some day.”  

Finn groaned, and Poe squeezed his shoulders and kissed his forehead.  

“It looks like you two have some talking to do.  Rose and I will get out of your hair,” Poe said lightly. 

Rose gave Rey a tight hug before they left.  “If he makes you happy, that’s the only thing that matters,” she whispered.  “My sister isn’t exactly thrilled that I’m dating two guys who were in a relationship together, but she’s happy for me.  Finn’s gonna feel the same way.” 

Once Poe and Rose were gone, Rey let the entire story dribble out to Finn. Her friendship with Ben. The program.  His mother.  (She went lightly over the details of the program inputs and outputs). 

Finn was a little wide-eyed when it was over, but he ultimately promised that he would support her choices to the best of his ability. 

“Which means telling you to take a shower now, Peanut, because you smell like a teenage boy,” he concluded.  Rey nodded and hid her face in his neck because she was afraid she was going to start crying again. 

Sunday was typically her day for homework, so she spent the day catching up on the week ahead.  And a little stress-baking.  And keeping an eye on the users list in her Discord server, which remained distressingly greyed out.  It wasn’t like she was expecting to hear from Ben. They usually didn’t see each other on Sundays.  And he was probably super-busy dealing with…family stuff.  Which Rey couldn’t possibly understand.  

But her heart leapt into her throat in the early evening when she heard a brief knock on the door.  

Finn rushed to be the one to get it, no doubt hoping to display male dominance in some subtle way, but Ben barely looked at him once the door was open.  He looked only at Rey. 

She couldn’t explain why she’d put Ben’s sweatshirt back on after she showered and changed.  It did smell strongly of teenage boy body spray. 

Ben didn’t make a move to come in. 

“I just wanted to make sure you got home safely,” he said, voice flat and restrained. “I tried to call a few times, but your phone was off.”

“Oh,” said Rey. “It still isn’t charged.  I’m sorry, I forgot.”

Ben nodded, face closed off. He took a minute step backwards as though he planned to leave, just like that. 

“Um,” said Rey, voice squeaking as she pushed it past her tight throat.  “Have you had dinner yet?  I was just going to eat leftovers for dinner, but they’re pretty good.  And then there’s, um.  Lots of dessert.”

Ben’s jaw was still tight, but he lifted his eyebrows a bit at that. 

“I made rice krispie treats,” Rey stammered on.  “Also brownies.  With nuts, if that’s a dealbreaker.  And there’s also some Oreo balls?” 

“That’s a lot,” Ben observed, his face softening further.

“Yeah, I, uh,” Rey said. “Baked my feelings?  If that’s a thing.”

Ben nodded, swerving past Finn to enter the apartment.

Rey patted the futon next to her.  “Finn says they had towels down,” she reassured Ben as he took a seat next to her, his broad frame seeming to make the room feel about two sizes too small. 

“Over-sharing, Peanut,” Finn muttered.

Ben turned to look at Finn, and something wordless passed between the two men.    Finn threw his hands up.

“I’ll be in my room,” he muttered, leaving them alone.

Ben’s weight on the futon caused it to dip in his direction.  He looked around him, and Rey mentally cringed, seeing the small, shabby space through his eyes.

“Where is your room?” he asked, looking at Finn’s door.

“Oh,” Rey said.  “It’s a one-bedroom.  This is my futon.” 

Ben didn’t say anything, but there was a little wrinkle between his eyebrows. 

“I don’t want to take out loans just to have a bigger place,” Rey said. 

Ben nodded, still not saying anything.  

Rey cleared her throat. 

“Did…was it okay? With your mom?” she asked, because she couldn’t really pretend that this morning hadn’t happened. 

Ben combed his hair with his fingers.  

“As well as it ever does,” he muttered.  “But she’s going to drop off my Lord Ren costume this week.   Or her secretary will, probably.”  

Rey felt something unclench in her at the underlying acknowledgement that he was still planning on going with her to the con the next weekend. 

Ben cleared his throat. “And we’re both invited for dinner. In two weeks.  You don’t have to come if you don't want to.” 

“I-“ Rey stuttered, confused. What possible part of her performance that morning led Leia to want to see her again? 

“Do you want me to come?” she asked. 

Ben looked away.  “I haven’t been home in six years.  It might-- it might help.” 

Rey reached out and wrapped a hand around Ben’s bicep.  He reflexively tightened it, then consciously relaxed. 

“Okay,” Rey agreed. Ben sighed and then toppled slowly until his head was in her lap.  His curls spilled out over her thighs.  He looked up at the ceiling. 

Rey brushed his hair back from his face, feeling confused and tender and sad for him at once. 

“They sent me away,” he said, throat bobbing.  “To my uncle’s boarding school.  And I said I’d never come back if they did.  I got kicked out, and I didn’t go home.”

It sounded like chapter titles picked at random from a book she’d never read. 

“It’s okay,” Rey repeated, because that was a thing people said, even when it wasn’t.

Finn’s door swung open. 

“Figure you two deserve the run of the apartment for a bit,” he said gruffly.  “I’m going to get dinner on campus then study a bit.  Won’t be back before midnight.” 

Rey’s heart squeezed at how he was trying.  She nodded at him, and he left her alone with Ben. 

“Did you finish all your homework?” she asked him.  “Do you want to watch something?”

Ben’s look was still faraway and blank, so Rey seized the initiative and set up her laptop on the makeshift coffee table constructed of a sheet of plywood and Finn’s old textbooks.  

“You ever see The Vision of Escaflowne?” she asked Ben, who shook his head.  “It’s one of my favorites.  The dubbing was horrible, though, so we’ll just watch it with subtitles.” 

“Of course,” he said. 

Rey pushed Ben away long enough to go to the kitchen and pile the biggest plate she had with her baked goods.  She arranged them next to her laptop, feeling like a poor host. 

“You’ve got to pay attention to the first episode, because it sets the stage for the whole series,” she instructed him.  He nodded wordlessly.

He put his head back in her lap. 

After the first episode, Rey got up and turned out the light.  

After the second episode, she rearranged herself and Ben on the futon so that he lay behind her.   It was a tight fit, but they were neither in danger of rolling off.  He rested his chin on top of her head and tossed an arm around the dip of her waist.  

After the third episode, she got up and changed into pajamas.

By the fifth episode, Ben was asleep.  She turned down the sound, just reading the subtitles.  

When she woke up, the tenth episode was playing, and Finn’s Dragon Ball Z fleece covered her and Ben both. 

When she woke up again, it was morning, and Ben was already gone. 

Chapter Text

 Ben and Rey in Comp Lab

 

“Ow.”

“Sorry,” Finn said, not sounding very sorry at all.

Rey couldn’t see Ben very well, seated as he was on Finn’s other side, but she could feel the force of his thoughts even from the other side of the backseat.

This car is for tiny peopleWhy are we taking the tiny person car, Rey?

Rey’s reasons for piling all five of them into Rose’s tiny coupe had seemed a lot more compelling when she’d first proposed it. She was feeling strong regrets on this interminable drive through downtown Alderaan traffic, with Finn’s horns poking Rey and Ben both in the eyes every time they went over a pothole.

Poe and Rose were tiptoeing around Rey like she was ready to explode, and Finn and Ben had been flat-out avoiding her.  While claiming, every time she managed to corner one of them, that they weren’t. 

Ben had his eyes glued to his computer screen during PROB 321.  Listened attentively to the professor during EENG 480.   Took notes during their senior seminar.  Notes. In a seminar.  She knew it was because he didn’t want to make eye contact with her for some reason. 

So, in the group text dedicated to planning this visit to AlderCon, Rey enthusiastically proposed that they all go together.  Hoping that they would somehow all come out of the experience as friends.  Because her social skills for resolving whatever the hurt feelings were about the previous weekend were not much better evolved than mashing the faces of her Barbies together and yelling “now kiss!” 

Rose was driving, because she had the only car that (theoretically) seated five.  Poe claimed the passenger seat, arguing that the extra room was necessary to accommodate his saber-staff.   Finn took the center seat in the back to accommodate his horns. Which left Ben and Rey squished against opposite windows.

“When did you finish your costume?” Rey asked Rose, trying to develop a neutral-ground conversation.

“Oh, Bethany Hawke is pretty easy,” Rose explained.  “I already had the scarf, and you can throw a peasant blouse together with the grey leggings and the chainmail panels pretty easily.”

“Isn’t it kinda weird that you two are dressing up as brother and sister while you’re dating?” Ben interjected, apparently giving Poe the largest portion of side-eye. 

Poe scratched his new beard ostentatiously.  His Garrett Hawke costume wasn’t new, but the beard was a real commitment to authenticity. Rey could see the glance he shared with Rose through the rearview mirror.  That glance said that the erotic potential of the brother/sister pairing had been noted and was being duly explored.  Gross.

“Isn’t it stranger that Finn is the villain of Act 2?” Poe responded mildly.

“Oh, everyone knows that Hawke and the Arishok had more raw sexual chemistry than any of the canon pairings!” Rose said. 

“Amen,” Finn grunted. He narrowly missed Ben with his horn again.

Ben and Rey sighed in unison.  The con was not off to a promising start.  

 * * * 

Rey was freezing her ass off for the sake of her art.  Kira the Jedi Knight hailed from a desert planet and wore light, flowing linen gear (plus a pair of off-brand Uggs, since Rey wasn’t a fucking cobbler).  Alderaan’s winter wind went straight through it.  Rey’s teeth chattered as she and Ben waited in the check-in line, which snaked out the conference center’s lobby and wrapped around the corner.

Ben, of course, looked plenty warm in his black cloak, not to mention the full helmet.  Rey was tempted to huddle up against him, but Ben had spent the previous week giving Rey ostentatious amounts of space.   

“If you wanna go wait inside, I can stand in line,” Ben finally said when Rey’s teeth began to audibly chatter.

“N-n-no, I’m fine,” Rey said, trying to rub the goosebumps down on her exposed shoulders. 

Ben sighed, the sound echoing through his mask.  The mask was the best part of his outfit.  It was well-made and looked like a custom piece.  

“Come here,” he said.  He pulled her in front of him and wrapped the edges of his cape around her.  His radiant body heat instantly warmed her.  His arms circled her loosely. 

“Th-thanks,” Rey chattered at him. 

“You could have gone as a dalek or something,” he said.  “Nice and toasty in the trash can.”  

“But we wouldn’t match, then,” Rey said.  “Now we can have lightsaber duels.”  Ben’s lightsaber was a fancy catalogue piece with LED lights and chrome finish, but Rey had built her own lightsaber with a police baton as the base, and she was pretty sure she could wreck Ben’s sword in ten seconds flat. 

“If you don’t freeze to death first.  What do we even do at these things again?” Ben said, still not sounding like a happy man. 

“Um, what can’t you do?  There’s going to be demo booths for new games, lots of special edition merch, developer panels…and that’s just the official stuff.  We can meet other fans, do costume contests, people watch….” Rey trailed off, sensing a lack of corresponding interest from Ben. 

“It just sounds like stuff you’d want to do without me,” Ben said.  “Since I’ve never been to one.”  

Rey squirmed in his arms, heart sinking.  After a moment, she said, more quietly, “I thought it might be fun.  Since we play the same game.  But if you don’t want to be here, I’ll understand if you want to leave. It’s okay.” 

Ben was silent for a minute. “I want to be here if you want me to be here.  I just didn’t want to intrude if this is something you do with your friends.” 

“You’re my friend too,” she said in her smallest voice. 

He didn’t respond, but his arms tightened around her.  It felt like he was trying to rest his chin on the top of her head but his helmet was getting in the way.

The line moved until they were finally through the doors of the convention center and could see the check-in desk covered in heaps of conference materials. 

Ben cleared his throat. “So, why did your friends get a hotel room?”  That was why Rey had to pick up all five check-in badges—the others were checking in to the attached hotel. 

“It’s a lot more fun if you do, but I didn’t want to spend the money since this con is local.  Most people change at least once a day, and you need a place to work on your costume and makeup.  Plus, everyone gets pretty drunk and there’s parties in the evening. Easier to pass out in your own hotel room.  Or someone else’s, I guess.”

Rey had no personal experience in this, of course, but she’d gone to a couple of cons with Finn while he was single.  

“We could get our own hotel room, if you want,” Ben said. 

“No, no, Poe said we could change in theirs,” Rey said absently. It looked like Sunstorm Games was handing out free t-shirts, and Rey craned her neck to see if it looked like they had her size.  

“Then where are we executing Item Five?” Ben asked conversationally.

Rey straightened up.  

“Oh.  Oh!  Yeah, do you have any…thoughts on that?” she asked, as the outdoor cold was completely forgotten.  “I guess anywhere can be a deserted rebel base on the ice planet Hoth if your imagination is good enough.”

“Hoth, huh?  It sounds like you’ve got something in mind?” Ben said. She couldn’t see his face because of the helmet, but his voice was warm and amused.

“A few, you darksider monster.  Everyone knows your kind are incorrigible,” she said.  

“It’s one of my best qualities,” he agreed. “So, I had a few ideas too.”  He patted his leather shoulder bag  “I ordered some things.” 

“Ooh, let me see,” Rey said, turning and pulling it off of him before he could protest.

She unbuckled the top flap and peered inside.  There was a new bottle of lube, which would doubtless come in handy no matter what happened, several lengths of fabric, which would be useful as either blindfolds or restraints, and a small object made of shiny black silicon.  Rey pulled it out to examine it more closely. 

It was about the length of her pointer finger and slightly curved before widening to a flaring base. Below the base, an inch-wide ring was attached.  Rey wasn’t positive whether it was classified as a dildo or a butt plug, but it was surely the kinkiest item she’d ever handled.  She looked at it more closely and saw that the black silicon was shot through with tiny glittering stars.  She smiled. 

“This object is strong with the dark side of the Force,” she told Ben solemnly, tossing it in her hands.

“Should you maybe put that away for now?” Ben said, looking around them with some nervousness.  Nobody was looking at them; there was a Lunafreya cosplayer celebrating a mock wedding to Prince Noctis in the other side of the entrance hall, and most of the people still waiting in line were taking pictures. 

“Nah,” Rey said.  Sex toys were nothing unusual to be slung around at a con, which involved some very broad-minded people.   Some of whom had established fursonas.  “So, I’m not opposed, by any means, but how does this line up with Item Five exactly?” 

“Well,” said Ben. “Like you said, Kylo Ren is a Sith Lord. Everyone knows they’re into butt stuff.”

Rey chortled in agreement. “Okay, okay, but whose butt does this go in?”  She let Ben retrieve the little toy and stow it away in his shoulder bag.

“I think that’s properly resolved in the course of the endless battle between the light and the dark,” he said.  “Maybe we wager on that lightsaber duel?”

“You’re SO on,” Rey agreed. “And the terms?” 

“The loser, shall we say…gives in to the dark side of the Force?” Ben purred.  

“Aw,” Rey said. “You named our butt plug.  Agreed.” 

 * * * 

“Sooo, Ben seems nice,” Rose told Rey as she rooted through a box of Squirrel Girl comics. 

“He is nice,” Rey said. She wasn’t planning on buying anything for herself; she was still uncomfortable accumulating more possessions than could be easily transported in one large trash sack.  But she kept an eye out for anything Ben might like for his apartment.  He didn’t have anything up on the walls, and Rey was half-contemplating the purchase of a Star Wars poster or possibly some model spaceships. 

Ben, for his part, was testing the demo of a new multiplayer shooter with Poe and Finn at the next booth over.  Rey could hear the latter two hooting and whooping over faint explosions, and it heartened her to hear them all (theoretically) playing nicely together. 

“Do you think it’s getting serious?” Rose prodded her. 

Rey shook her head, flipping through a stack of autographed game covers. 

“It’s not really like that. At least, he’s never said anything about it.  I don’t even know what he’s doing after graduation, or where he’s going to be.  When we started…seeing each other, we said up front it was just going to be….well, physical.”

“Hmm,” Rose said, lips thinning and eyebrows lifting.  “Boy seems to be catching feelings for you, if you’re spending all this time together with your clothes on.”

“O-oh?” Rey said, looking over at Ben.  He was hunched over his controller, tip of his tongue caught between his teeth, face screwed up in concentration.   There was another echoing explosion noise, and Finn and Poe groaned in unison.  Ben grinned in triumph.  

“Or maybe you’re coming down with the feels yourself?” Rose said slyly, bumping Rey with her elbow.  Rey stiffened and took a step away from Rose, pretending to be absorbed in another stack of merchandise. 

“I- I don’t know. There were a couple of times last weekend I thought maybe- but then he’s been super weird this week.  I don’t know,” she admitted. 

Rose shrugged.  “You keep spending time together, you’ll figure it out.  Are you going to that class on wiring props for sound effects this afternoon?  That seems like something you’d both enjoy.”

“Yeah, are you guys?” Rey asked.   Of course Rey wanted to add sound effects to her lightsaber. Whoosh!

“Nah, we have to meet the realtor,” Rose said, scrunching her nose in disappointment.

“You’re moving? Why do you need both guys to go with you?” Rey asked, confused.  She had the vague recollection that Rose lived in a studio near the main research hospital where she worked.

“Because we all need to approve the lease?  Wait, I thought Finn talked to you about this?” Rose asked, face suddenly going blank. 

Rey’s heart stuttered. “You- Finn’s moving out?” she said, voice tight and squeaky.  

“Not until the end of your lease!  Oh god, he said he was going to talk with you about it this week and make sure you were okay with it.   I swear I didn’t know he hadn’t yet.”  Rose said in a rush. 

Rey's stomach dropped.

Her throat followed it.

Even her face felt cold and heavy.  

“But our lease is up in two and a half months.  Like, the day after graduation,” Rey protested.  Her throat felt painful and tight, and she felt the alarming prick of tears behind her eyes.  This always, always happened.  Just when she got comfortable somewhere, she was kicked out and off to the next place.   And this time, she didn’t even know if she had a place to go. 

“I- but- he can’t just renew the lease for another year, we’re always in your hair, and it wouldn’t make sense for Poe and me to get our own place without him,” Rose said, looking like she was ready to cry herself. “I’m so sorry, this is coming out all wrong. I really fucked up.  Don’t hate me for this.” 

Rey muttered something soothing and noncommittal in response.  She was reeling.  She wanted to sit down somewhere with her head between her knees.  She wanted to go to the bathroom and throw up.  She wanted to tip over the nearest table and roar at the top of her lungs. 

She didn’t have a family to go home to.  She didn’t even have a permanent job offer yet.  Finn was the only person who hadn’t been paid by the government to take her in. He was all she had, and he was throwing her out. 

What had she done? She hadn’t done anything.  She’d been the best roommate.  Always paid her rent on time.  Did more of the cleaning than he did.  Never complained about his stupid boyfriend and girlfriend being over all the time.  Hadn’t been inappropriately naked on his things even once

This was not fair. 

Her fists clenched at her sides. 

Rey felt anger and anxiety mix in her chest.  It surged through her veins and pooled at her fingertips. She ignored Rose's continued explanations and simply walked away.  

Ben turned around as she stalked up behind him.  The goofy grin on his face faded a he took in her expression, although she wasn’t certain what it looked like to him. 

“Everything okay?” he said, putting his controller on the floor and standing.  His helmet and sword were neatly stored beneath his chair with his bag.

“I think-“  Rey clenched and unclenched her fists.  “I think I’m ready for that lightsaber duel right now.”  

“You sure?” Ben asked, expression becoming rapt and intent.  “I took three semesters of Olympic fencing at Chandrila Boys Latin. And a deal’s a deal.  If I win, your ass is mine.” 

Rey scoffed. “Yeah?  Well, I went to public school in Jakku.  If anyone’s ass is in danger, it’s yours.”

Ben fit his helmet on carefully.

“Famous last words, Jedi. Prepare to feel the true power of the dark side.” 

"Perhaps.  But I'm feeling lucky today," she gritted through clenched teeth.

 * * * 

After fifteen minutes of hard-fought battle, Ben Solo sprawled on the floor, chest heaving. His lightsaber lay in pieces to his side.

“That was awesome,” said a nearby Wookiee. 

“Yeah, I think I’ve got a semi-chub,” said his Mon Calamari companion.  Ben and Rey's fight had attracted quite a crowd of onlookers. 

[BeginAuthorNote://

What, you wanted a fight scene?  I missed that class at writer’s school.  Go watch the Princess Bride if you want to see a duel.  It went kind of like that.  Except when Ben said, ‘You must expect me to respond with Capofeio!’ Rey retorted, “Yeah, well I learned this move after second period gym class!’

//EndAuthorNote.]

Rey pointed her lightsaber down at Ben’s throat.  

“It appears you are my prisoner, darksider,” she said.  

The exercise, not to mention the satisfaction of whacking Ben about the upper body with her sword, had made her feel a little better.  But now that her blood was racing, she was eager to keep the action going. 

Ben pulled his helmet off and flung it away. 

“I’m ready to see the mercy of the light,” he said, breathing hard through his grin.  He staggered to his feet.  Rey kept her sword aimed at him.

“No mercy for you, you monster,” she said.  Then she grabbed him by the front of his tunic and hauled him to her.  She went on tiptoe to kiss him roughly, biting at his lower lip.

The remaining members of the crowd cheered as they exited, stage left.   

There were approximately a dozen walls between the conference center floor and the room Poe had rented in the attached hotel.  Rey did her best to throw Ben up against each and every one. By the time they crashed through the door, shedding clothing and accessories and the room key, Ben’s lips were wet and swollen, and his eyes were wide pools of dark arousal.  

Rey toed off her pants and boots, but kept a firm grip on her sword.  

“Your redemption starts here, Sith Lord,” she gasped.  “But only if I let you live long enough.  Can you be useful to the Jedi?” 

Ben carefully peeled himself out of his pants and tunic, leaving only his black boxer briefs on.  

“Oh yes, very useful. Please let me show you,” he panted. He sank to his knees in front of her. 

Rey wasn’t positive he could do a whole lot from that position, but she was willing to let him try. 

“Convince me,” she ordered him. 

With a smirk, he shuffled forward on his knees.  He pulled her underwear down over her hips, running the tip of his tongue across the little red marks the elastic left behind. 

He pressed a chaste kiss to the flattened curls at her mound, then gently spread her legs by running the backs of his hands up between her inner thighs.  His thumbs pressed into her cleft.  But instead of following his thumbs with his lips, he liked a wide stripe up the inside of her left thigh, just to the crease of her leg.  Then again on the right.  His big hands cupped the globes of her ass lightly.  When she thought he’d move on, he started over, an inch to the left, as though he was painting her between her legs. 

“Stop toying with me, darksider!” she barked.

Ben grinned and leaned forward again. His tongue finally swept up her slit, and gosh, it seemed like he could actually do quite a bit from this position.

Her flesh felt slick and heated after their fight (and the long minutes in the elevator up pressing her body against his), but his mouth only made her hotter.  The drag of his lips on her clit was slow torture.   It just wound her up further without any destination she could see.  He was keeping a slow pace, point of his tongue delicately circling her clit, and the flat lapping more at her lips than where she wanted—needed—it to be. 

After Rey mumbled something to that effect, Ben redoubled his effort, leaning in to thrust his tongue into her aggressively. 

That was better, but…

“Get on the bed, Kylo Ren,” she told him, gesturing with her sword.  “I’m still unconvinced.” 

“Happy to be of service,” Ben said, ostentatiously wiping his face on her inner thighs to make her squeal at the ticklish sensation.

He jumped onto the bed with an acrobatic leap, flipping in the air.  He was showing off his abdominal muscles.  Rey appreciated them.

Next, he started peeling off his underwear, but Rey pointed to the head of the bed. 

“Right there,” she said.

He scooted back, eyebrows raised in interest. 

“Right,” said Rey. “Now, just sit there and look pretty. Apparently I have to do everything around here.” 

Laughter bubbled between his lips as he complied. 

As Ben sat up against the headboard, Rey crawled across his lap until she straddled him face to face. She brought her sword along.  His eyes widened when she laid it lightly across his throat, barely pressing down.  It moved when he swallowed. 

“Just to ensure your good behavior, Sith Lord,” she told him. 

“No, no, totally understand.  Taking notes.  Will behave,” he promised her.  

“I don’t know about that,” Rey said, reaching down with her free hand to slide his underwear over his hips until his hard, ready cock sprang free.  “I hear you’ve been a very bad boy, Kylo Ren.”  

“The worst,” he said, leaning forward to nibble on her collarbone. She shoved his head further down until his lips found her breast.

“You’ve killed dozens,” she said, her hips rocking forward as his tongue made a slow circuit of her nipple.  Her cunt brushed his lower abdomen, and his stomach muscles tightened in response.  

“Oh, lots more,” he said, making an exaggerated expression of remorse.  He switched to the other nipple, letting his lower teeth graze the hard peak. 

“Millions,” she revised. “You deserve everything I can do to you.”

“Absolutely,” he said. “Please, do your worst.”

With that she took a firm grip on his hair and levered herself up and onto the tip of his cock. Ben closed his eyes and tipped his head back, mouth falling open.

She was wet and soft, but the slide down his cock still burned a little bit, just from his size. (She assumed, having no basis for comparison).  It took a little bit of wiggling to make it all the way down, but once he was fully seated inside her, she took a deep breath and stilled just to enjoy the sensation of being completely filled. 

Her mind abruptly jerked to the Dark Side Of The Force, still safely stowed in Ben’s bag, and she was grateful she wasn’t going to have to figure out today how she’d ever make room for anything more than just Ben. 

When she returned to the situation at hand, she found Ben staring down at the place where their bodies were joined together, his expression awed.  She got that clenching feeling in her chest again when his hands stroked up and down her lower back.  She looked down too, as though she could see through her tummy to see him nestled deep inside her. 

She tightened her grip on his hair.  “Focus, Ben,” she said.  She straightened her body, letting him slide out a couple of inches.  His eyes were wide when he looked up at her through his thick, dark lashes.

“I will.  I mean-“ he licked his lips, and craned his head up to run them down the edge of her jaw.  He pressed his cheek against the side of her neck.  “You’re just so beautiful like this,” he finished on an exhale of breath. 

“D-don’t say that,” Rey said, closing her eyes and cautiously beginning to lift herself up and down over him.  “You’ll make me cry and we’ll both be out of character.  Kylo Ren doesn’t say sweet things.”

“Fuck Kylo Ren,” Ben said, kissing her up and down her neck before finding a spot just above her collarbone to suck. 

“I’m trying,” Rey stuttered out, feeling like she had to laugh to keep herself from crying for real.

“Okay.  Okay, Rey,” Ben sighed, slipping one hand between them. “Let’s just do this for now, then.” 

Rey flexed her thighs to move against him, enjoying the decadent slide of his body in and out of hers. His knuckle pressed against her clit with every thrust.  In and out. 

Ben groaned, and slid further down in the bed.  She felt his knees bend up behind her as he braced his shoulders against the headboard.  

“Please,” he begged her, and she knew what he was asking for.   As he began to thrust up into her, she ground down on his lap.  Harder.  Faster. He was so deep within her she felt like an extension of his body, as though his heart was beating deep inside her cunt.  

When her orgasm finally came, it felt different with his cock pressed as far inside her as it could fit. There was the now-familiar champagne fizz lift of sensation from her thighs up through her nipples, dissipating in her flaming cheeks.  But the vibration of her body around Ben’s—that was new.  Exquisite.  Perfect. 

“Oh fuck,” Ben breathed. “I can feel you.  Christ, Rey.  Fuck.”  His body bucked beneath hers.  He curled his arms under hers and pulled her by her shoulders down onto him.  He thrust into her limp body no more than three more times before she felt the hot rush of his spend inside her.  

Rey lowered her forehead against his.  They were both of them flushed and sweating, but she savored the second spot of contact between them.  Inside her, she felt his cock throbbing, still half hard.  

Ben lifted a hand to cup the back of her head.  He kissed her more sweetly than she deserved, and she did her best to express herself in the curl of her lips around his.    

Untangling their bodies was slightly complicated from their position, but Rey felt that she stuck the dismount, even if Ben did groan when she pulled off of him. 

Ben and Rey lay next to each other, both still breathing more heavily than normal. 

“I guess I will not succumb to The Dark Side Of The Force today,” Ben sighed.

“Is that a complaint, Solo?” Rey asked, eyebrow raised.  “Do you doubt my dedication to your redemption?”

Ben looked down his body. His penis, as though aware it was being queried, twitched with interest. 

Ben rolled his sweaty body up against Rey’s.  He kissed her shoulder, then nipped the same spot.

“Give me three minutes in the bathroom to clean up and drink some water from the sink,” he vowed, rolling to his other side and off the bed with a purpose.

Rey waited until she heard the shower turn on before she carefully maneuvered herself off the bed. She wasn’t sure what the ladylike thing was after doing it raw, and she had no better ideas than penguin-waddling to the box of tissues and doing some spot-cleaning.  

Pressed for time, she then went through Ben’s pants for his cell phone.  She needed to run a quick Google search on ‘how to butt plug’ before she and The Dark Side Of The Force were due in the shower.

Ben’s phone was unlocked, and she was startled to see herself on the background picture.  She had been totally unaware that he’d ever taken a picture of her.  It wasn’t something creepy of her naked or asleep.  It looked like she was in the computer lab, headset on, leaning toward the screen.  Ponytails. No makeup.  She squinted at it.  She couldn’t remember wearing that particular hoodie since spilling Dr. Pepper on it at Finn’s birthday party. Had he taken this before they started the list?

She looked at the picture so long she forgot why she’d first grabbed his phone, only startling back into purpose when she heard Ben’s voice from the shower.  

But he wasn’t calling for her.  He was singing.  He sang in the shower.  It was hard to tell, but she thought it was Oasis. 

Rey was transfixed. He was terrible, off-key, but he was singing, and it made a tender warmth spread through her chest. 

Oh god, Rose was right. She was catching feels from Ben Solo.

Flustered, Rey ran her search, coming up with little she could take in over 30 seconds of browsing in the way of instruction other than:1) use lots of lube, and 2) put it in the butt. 

Rey hurriedly grabbed the lube and The Dark Side Of The Force out of Ben’s bag, summoned her courage, and followed Ben into the shower.

* * *  

It was easier than she thought.  The Dark Side Of The Force was not very big, as such things went, and Ben was very obliging with her inexperience, bracing his hands against the walls of the shower and spreading his legs wide.  

Rey felt like a porn star when she worked it in and Ben groaned in satisfaction.  He was hard as a rock again, cock curving up toward his abdomen.  Rey ended up pressing her chest against his back, stroking him off with both hands wrapped around his waist.  She murmured Lady Kira’s battle cries and grenade barks in his ear to make him laugh as she stroked up and down his length.  He was laughing so hard he started coughing when he came against the walls of the shower, and Rey pounded on his back, telling him that if he choked he’d ruin his own afterglow and shock the EMTs to death besides when they found him that way in the shower.

Rey got out of the shower first, since Ben now needed to clean up a second time.  She wrapped a fluffy towel around herself and found her own phone where it had slid under the bed with her underwear.  (Lady Kira had to store her phone and debit card in her belt pouch). 

Her warm, golden glow of wellbeing vanished when she saw that she had four missed calls from Finn and half a dozen text messages.

<Pick up Peanut> 

<I’m so sorry> 

<Please pick up>

<I wanted to talk about this with you>

<Don’t be mad before I have a chance to explain>

<Please pick up>

Rey tossed her phone to the ground, all her emotions from earlier in the day rushing back in.   She couldn’t afford her own place.  She’d have to find someone on Craigslist or the university listserv to room with and hope they weren’t a serial killer or a foot fetishist or a Republican. 

She’d have to start all over being the best version of herself, hoping that some stranger would like her and take care of her and not hurt her. Just like she’d done her entire life. Because nobody kept her.  She curled on her side on the bed, contemplating a good pity cry.

The bathroom door opened and the warm humid air and Ben Solo emerged at the same time.  She was facing away from him, so he evidently mistook her fetal position as fatigue, rather than the pity party it was. 

“Oh my god, Rey, I’m such a fucking pervert,” he crowed.  “That was amazing.  It turns out I am all about my butt.” 

The bed bounced as he sat down next to her. 

“I cleaned off The Dark Side, and it is…Rey?  Rey?” His fingers gently pulled at her shoulder to turn her to face him, but Rey resisted them. 

“Rey?” he said more hesitantly.  “Is it something…was it the stuff in the shower?  I was just kidding, we don’t really have to…”

Rey’s tears finally brimmed over, and one rolled down her cheek.

“I’m really sorry, I had no idea,” Ben said, increasingly frantic.  “We don’t ever have to do that again.  I’ll throw it out.  Out the window, if you want me to.  You can tell me who to aim it at.”  

Rey giggled through her tears, making a little snot drip from her nose.  Then she cried harder.

She wrapped herself around Ben from behind, hiding her face in his hip. 

“N-no, it’s nothing you did. My stupid roommate.  He’s moving out.”

“He- what?  When?” Ben said, trying to squirm out of her grasp to look at her.  She held on tighter. 

“What did he do?” he asked again, a note of anger entering his voice.

Rey rubbed at her eyes with her fists.  That gave Ben the freedom to escape her grip and roll her over to look up at him.  Her towel gaped open, but he didn’t look at her boobs. 

“Right after graduation. He’s moving in with Rose and Finn. I’m not invited.”  

Ben’s face softened a little.  

“I’m sorry, Rey.”

Rey sniffled back tears and snot.  “Not your fault,” she said.  

“You’re going to be fine, though,” Ben said firmly.  He rolled her over to her other side and lay down spooning her.  He pulled her wet hair out of her face and kissed her jaw.  “You have time to figure things out.”

“But what if I don’t?” Rey asked.  “What if I can’t find a new roommate, and I don’t get a job out of my internship, and I run out of money, and I have to live in a cardboard box down by the river offering handjobs and uninstalls of the McAfee toolbar just for enough money to eat?” 

“I’m not going to let you be homeless, s-sweetheart,” Ben said.  He was trying to be smooth, Rey could tell, but he stuttered a little over the endearment.  She found it unexpectedly charming.  She didn’t want to be charmed by Ben just then.  

“But I just gave you a handjob for free, and you’d never download commercial anti-virus software…” Rey tried to sniffle at him, but Ben tossed his leg over her and pinned her down on the bed. 

“If you don’t find a place you’d rather stay, you’ll stay with me,” he said firmly.  

Rey wiped at her nose with the back of her hand.  God, she was gross.  She was an undesirable roommate and she was gross. 

“Why would you even want a roommate?  Would you even have room for my futon?  I promised I cleaned it, but your couch is too small-“ 

Ben sighed.  “No, Rey.  You’d stay in the big bed.  With me.”

“I- what?  Wouldn’t you get tired of me in your space all the time?” Rey asked, feeling like all her skin was transparent and she was totally vulnerable because of it.  

“No,” Ben said.  It was a simple, declarative statement. 

“You totally would,” Rey babbled on.  “You didn’t even want to talk to me this week, because I was all in your business last weekend, and-“

“No, Rey,” Ben said again. “That wasn’t it.”

“I don’t understand,” Rey finally confessed. 

Ben wrapped his thick, naked arms around her and pressed his nose into her wet hair.

“I’ve always wanted you with me.  As much of you as you’ll let me have.  I’m not ever going to get tired of you,” he mumbled into her hair.  “I just want you to be on the same page as me.” 

Rey tucked his hands under her chin and closed her eyes. She tried to voluntarily relax the muscles of her body, the way yoga instructors always told her to.  They both dripped water on the bed, but Ben didn't relax his grip on her.  Eventually, she could feel both of their heartbeats slow down.  

“Let’s make it really obvious we had sex in here,” she finally said.  “And then I want you to take me home.” 

“Home to-“ Ben said.  

Rey swallowed.  “Your apartment,” she said. 

Chapter Text

 

Ben heard her huffing and puffing up the stairs and had the door open before she reached the last step. He glared at her as though she’d kicked his puppy and took the grocery sacks from her more forcefully than necessary.

“How did you even get these back from the store on your bike?” he asked.  He didn’t like that she was buying groceries and carrying them home alone, balanced on her handlebars, even though it was the same way she’d fed herself for the better part of a decade. 

Rey kissed her biceps one after the other. 

Ben huffed in dismay and started putting groceries away.  In all the wrong places. 

Rey let him.  She’d wait until he fell asleep and then put them where they were supposed to go.  

“I’ve got food for the week, and we can just order takeout if we run out,” were Ben’s famous last words the day after Aldercon.   

Rey thought takeout was for suckers who didn’t know how to cook, or emergencies that required pizza. And Rey thought it was a miracle Ben had survived on his own with no one to feed him.  

Ben had what he considered a reasonable amount of food on hand: some fruit in a bowl, a few bags of frozen chicken breasts in the freezer, and the sludgy protein crap he drank for breakfast in his fridge.  Rey personally did not feel comfortable until her mental tally of the foodstuffs in whatever home she was resident in allowed her to survive hypothetical events up to and including nuclear winter, so she’d smiled and nodded and gone grocery shopping.  

She was filling in the gaps in Ben’s larder.  Spices. Canned goods.  Sugar and condensed milk and mini chocolate chips. 

Ben watched it all with a tender mix of confusion and gratitude.  He ate everything she cooked and wrapped the leftovers carefully in foil. 

“You don’t have to do all the cooking,” Ben told her. “I can cook.”  He viewed Rey’s newest contributions to the pantry with some trepidation.

Ben did not share Rey’s doomsday-prepper appreciation for canned goods. But it wasn’t like the 15 Chinese restaurants whose menus Rey found stuffed in the drawer where his spatulas should have gone would have served up anything with less sodium.

“You don’t cook,” Rey pointed out.  “You heat protein to a temperature sufficient to kill most pathogens.”

Rey personally thought it was a shame that so many salmons had given their lives only to be consumed by Ben Solo without seasoning. 

“But that’s- canned corn? And olives?” he said.  “They go in the same thing with the shredded cheddar?”

She put an arm around his shoulders.  “It’s tagliarini.  It’s Italian. It’s a special occasion dish.”  

Ben shook his head and went back to play more video games while she cooked.  

She was surprised he’d never heard of it, as privileged as his background seemed to be.

He refused her offer to chip in for rent.  He didn’t seem to worry about money; Rey had quickly learned not to worry aloud about not having something she wanted on hand, because he was liable to order it on Amazon Prime without even looking at the price.  

But they now had a hypoallergenic duvet and a hairdryer and a brownie pan. 

“You’re still paying rent at your old place,” he pointed out, not unreasonably. 

He didn’t need to remind her.  The existence of her futon and half her clothes and her favorite coffee mug in a different apartment two miles away was a weight on her mind, even if Ben had cleared out drawers, cabinets, and bathroom-counter space as though he expected her to stay forever.  

And she almost thought it would be…easy.  Just live with Ben and play video games, eat casseroles, and have lots of sex.  Never talk to Finn again.  Not think too hard about any of it.  Ben was certainly all for that approach. 

He’d spent the week efficiently enmeshing her in his day-to-day life; they had synced their class calendars, agreed on breakfast and dinner times, and bent each other over most of the furniture in his apartment and some outside of it (they had a 30 minute break between their senior seminar and Complex Analysis and spent it in the abandoned fourth floor of the science library).  

It gave her a little pause, though.  That he hadn’t mentioned Finn after stopping by her apartment to pick up her clothes and face wash. That he had not asked about her plans after graduation.  That he had not disclosed his own.  That they had not even discussed their impending dinner at his mother’s house, much less why it was his first in six years.  

It caused her, honestly, more concern than the actual situation with Finn.  She didn’t know what might have passed between the two men on Monday, but when she arrived at her first Joint-Ed class, Ben had a space saved for her in the back row between himself and Phasma, and Finn looked merely resigned. 

There were text messages. And e-mails.  She would read them at some point.  She really would.  She even made it halfway through one—some kind of scheme to move her into Paige Tico’s spare bedroom in the same complex as the rest of them—but Ben announced that the new Doctor Who episode was up on Hulu, and she was happy for the excuse. To just not think too hard about it. 

She told her garbage brain that shrieked internally --this is the Good Place Season 1, this is New Caprica, this is FF6 in the World of Balance--to be quiet. 

The oven timer went off, and Ben fished her casserole out of the oven.  They dished it out and ate it on the couch while Jodie Whitaker chewed up the scenery.  Doubts about the compatibility of black olives, cream corn, and cheddar cheese allayed, Ben pulled her into his lap and nuzzled  her hair. 

“What should I wear? Tomorrow night?”  Rey asked, hesitant to disturb the mood. 

“Don’t worry about it,” Ben said after a pause. 

 * * * 

Rey stood at the gates of Organa House holding a Buffalo chicken ring (the fanciest appetizer in her repertoire, one which never failed to impress when Finn invited his fantasy football league in for the draft) and wished she’d worn a dress.  Wished Leia hadn’t already seen the only dress she owned crumpled under Ben’s coffee table.  Wished she was the kind of person who owned many dresses.  Wished she was the kind of person who knew what to do at dinner in a house she’d first mistaken for City Hall. 

Organa House was a federal-style monolith, with an excess of pergolas and columns and promenades and other architectural flourishes absent from any dwelling in the entirety of Jakku. Ben parked in the middle of the front drive and tossed his keys to the security guard in a golf cart who’d trailed them from the manned front gate. 

“What is happening, what, what, what,” Rey mumbled to herself as she smoothed her collared, white interview blouse down over her leggings and retrieved her chicken ring from the back seat.  Ben came from money, she’d assumed that, but to her money meant Hux’ house: clean carpet, more bedrooms than family members, more than one set of dinner dishes.  

But before Rey could ask Ben why his mother’s house had a historical marker on the front gate, Ben took her elbow in a painful grip and tugged her with him to the front door.  The door opened before Ben could reach one of the bronze lions’ heads that ornamented it, and a tall, thin-man in gold wire spectacles wrung his hands in excitement.

“Ah, young Ben and Miss Jackson,” he burbled.  “I am so pleased you could make it.”

“I said we’d come,” Ben mumbled ungracefully, and stepped past him without introducing Rey.

Rey looked back over her shoulder as Ben marched them through the foyer.  That couldn’t be Ben’s father, could it? 

The place was lavish but tasteful, like a movie set from a bygone era.  Worn Oriental rugs, potted palm trees, and gilt-edged mirrors.  More interesting to Rey:  oil paintings of vaguely familiar men and women looked at her with Ben’s sad, dark eyes.  Rey hoped, through her spinning sense of disassociation, that there would be a tour at some point. 

Ben stomped into an empty kitchen.  Rey began to count the visible refrigerators, while Ben spun, hands on his hips.

“Mom!” he yelled. “Where is dinner?" 

“No need to bellow, Ben, we’re in the Green Room,” a distant voice called out.

“For fuck’s sake,” Ben muttered under his breath.  He finally acknowledged Rey, whose hands were trembling on her foil-wrapped dish. “Sorry about this.  I should have known she’d be extra about this.  I hope she didn’t invite too many people.”

“This is your house?” Rey whispered. 

Ben wiped a hand over his face as though to cleanse himself of the thought. 

“No,” he said.  “I never lived here.” 

“But- isn’t this- one of your middle names is Organa? Like this place?” 

Ben blinked his beautiful eyes at her. 

“You know my mom is a senator, right?  And so was her adoptive father?” he said.

Rey blinked right back, a wave of nausea wafting through her. 

“I did not,” Rey said, enunciating clearly. 

“Well,” Ben said, looking around the echoing, flawless space as though seeing it with new eyes. “Don’t worry about it.  It’s nothing to do with you and me.”

 * * * 

The Green Room was so named, Rey assumed, because of the jade-colored silk that hung on the walls above the heavy wooden wainscoting and parquet floors.  The table that dominated it, covered in ivory linen, could have comfortably seated two dozen people.  Doubtless it did, at times, but tonight it was set for five.  There were far more plates and cutlery than Rey was accustomed to, but she’d memorized an etiquette guide before leaving Jakku and that didn’t worry her.  No, the source of Rey’s concern was the four people seated around her.  Leia, the man who had greeted them at the front door, a squat, bearded elder whose kind eyes never quite landed on her, and Ben.

“You know,” said Ben, in an opening volley, “when Phasma’s mother wanted to meet her girlfriend, they all went to Buca di Beppo.”

“It will be much easier to talk here, don’t you think?” Leia said, dismissing Ben’s criticism with an airy wave of a hand weighted with many carats of gemstones. 

“Yes,” said Ben. “Just a casual family dinner in the Green Room with you, your campaign manager, and your secretary.  I assume your rabbi couldn’t make it?”

Leia refilled her glass of chardonnay.  Ben being Jewish felt like the least relevant revelation of this evening.  He’d stared at his mother in defiant silence while she lit the candles and sang the blessings over a cup of red wine that everyone ignored, like the little bowl of gefilte fish Leia placed with great ceremony in the center of the table, where nobody might accidentally serve themself from it.  Rey wracked her memory for what else that might mean for this evening’s dinner, but after the initial formality of the Shabbat prayers, it only seemed to reflect a license to drink a great deal of wine.

“Chewie’s still in Chandrila,” Leia answered Ben, unruffled.  

Rey’s chicken ring was unwrapped on its paper plate between Ben and Leia.  An appalled-looking caterer had made a move as though to take it away, and Ben had nearly stabbed the poor man with his fork in his haste to stop him.  The table was now adorned with a number of dishes: a whole roast chicken garnished with preserved lemons, a cold beet salad, and an apple kugel, not to mention several loaves of challah on a silver platter.  Ben was nonetheless working steadily through her chicken ring to the exclusion of the other options.  Rey saw Leia watching him and volunteered that Ben had helped her make it.

Leia smiled politely and refilled her wine. 

“Did your parents teach you to cook?” she inquired. 

It was a normal-enough question, though one that had Rey gulping from her own wine glass. 

“Sort of,” she mumbled. Foster mother two had taught her to cook.  She couldn’t recall whether her own parents had ever cooked, though her CPS files indicated that feeding her had not been on the top of their list of priorities. 

“Rey’s a great cook,” Ben said, with an edge that had her wincing.  

“Not one of my skills,” Leia said as though in an aside to Rey. 

“I…just follow the recipes,” Rey offered.  

Leia made a little moue of regret.  “I just wish I had the time.” 

“Story of her life,” Ben muttered, not quite sotto voce.

Rey had been mentally searching for the exits for quite some time, but short of pulling the fire alarm in the butler’s pantry, she wasn’t sure how she’d get out.  And Ben had a grip on her knee under the table that made her think she’d have to carry him with her. 

Leia’s campaign manager, whose name Rey thought was something like “Artoo,” managed to change the conversation to Rey’s course of study and plans for the future.

Regardless of the tensions between Leia and her son, she had a practiced ease with drawing a person out, and, now lubricated with half a bottle of chardonnay, Rey found herself describing her internship, her coding projects, and her hopes for a permanent position.

The chicken was stripped to its bones by the time this line of conversation was concluded.

“I’m always so glad to meet young people in STEM fields,” Leia said.  “Amilyn told me Ben’s girlfriend was an impressive young lady, but I’m looking forward to hearing about your career.”  There was a little line between her eyebrows as she said that, as though she expected Rey to contradict her on the previously debatable proposition that she was Ben’s girlfriend.

But Rey had had the opportunity to do a bit of thinking about that during the previous week. She’d come to the conclusion that “girlfriend” was not a binary value, but instead one that was perhaps isomorphic with the complex field.  Imaginary girlfriends.  Fractional girlfriends. Irrational girlfriends.  She wasn’t certain where she lay on that field, but she would allow that she was on it. 

Irrational, certainly, that she was the one Ben wanted here with him tonight, his hand still holding her knee like a lifeline. 

“Ben’s just as impressive,” Rey offered up.  “He’s even better at mechanical engineering than I am.  We got an A on our robotics project.”

“Oh?” Leia said, eyebrows lifting.

Rey nodded while Ben pushed shreds of chicken on his plate.

“Phasma and I have funding lined up for a startup,” Ben said without lifting his eyes. “Drone technology. For gaming.”

“Oh?” Leia said again, visibly suppressing a grimace. 

“Sure,” Ben said. “There’s a big market for big game hunting, but a lot of trophy animals are endangered or have short seasons.  So Phasma came up with the idea that we’d gamify the experience:  use drones for video capture and laser sights to record the ‘kills.’” 

“Ben,” Leia sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.  “You are working on a game where the players hunt endangered animals for sport.” 

“Virtually,” Ben said. “That way you don’t need hunting licenses.”

Leia gave a long exhale of breath and shared glances with the two men flanking her, who shook their heads in dismay.  

Rey personally thought it was a great idea, and even if the animals didn’t like the drones, they probably liked being poached even less.

“Ben,” Leia began again. “I just spoke to the dean of Chandrila Law last week and she said she’d be willing to extend the deadline if you’d just finish your application.” 

Rey startled a bit at that. She had no idea that law school was even on Ben’s radar. 

Ben tossed back the remainder of his glass of wine and refilled it. 

“I’m not going back to Chandrila,” he said evenly. 

Leia shot her eyes over at Rey and then looked back at Ben.

“Rey’s degree is very portable,” Leia noted.  

Ben shrugged.  “It is.  But we’re staying in Alderaan.  We have a life here.” 

This was news to Rey, even if not unwelcome news.  She sipped her wine, watching the two of them with wide eyes. 

Leia shook her head against Ben’s words.  “It doesn’t have to be Chandrila.  With your grades and scores, you could get into any grad school in the country. And…” 

“Why do you want me out of Alderaan so badly?” Ben asked, his voice still calm, but his hand bruising on Rey’s leg.   He cocked his head at his mother.  She did not immediately answer as she opened a new bottle of wine. 

 “You’re finally doing it. You’re running for consul-general,” Ben said softly.

“We have only just announced the exploratory committee-“ the man with the gold spectacles began to explain before Leia lifted a hand to cut him off.   Her eyes were sad as she regarded her son. 

“And you don’t want me in Alderaan during the campaign,” Ben concluded.  Rey looked back and forth, confused and concerned.

“The spotlight of the campaign…” Artoo began. 

Ben’s fist crashed on the table next to his dirty plate, making it jump.

“Do I embarrass you?” he hissed at his mother.  

Leia crumpled her napkin over her plate.

“No, Ben, no.  But Artoo’s right, and the last time the press started digging into our family-” 

“You burned down a building,” the secretary (Threepio?) finished in a smug tone of voice.

“It was a soccer equipment storage shed!” Ben yelled.

A muscle in Leia’s cheek jumped.  She was very deliberate with her movements as she lifted her dish and handed it to the caterers to be replaced with a dessert plate.

Rey heard the tinkling of a cart full of crystal glasses and silver domes enter the room.  The Dean’s Awards’ ceremony the previous year had featured a dessert cart, but Ben was right- having a dessert cart at a family dinner was very much extra.  

“Regardless, you have to admit that having a horde of muckrakers picking through your life would be uncomfortable for everyone,” Leia said in a voice that was hard and smooth as the crystal goblets on the table. 

Ben yanked at the hair over his ears. 

“I was fifteen and I wanted someone to pay attention to me,” Ben said, his voice catching in a way that hurt Rey’s heart. 

Leia fiddled with her desert fork. 

“You were arrested three weeks ago,” she pointed out in a low tone. 

Rey’s breath caught in her throat, and she could hear the same freezing gasp in Ben’s chest. The whole table was silent for a long pause. 

“That was a mistake,” Ben said, his voice dangerous.  “They reviewed the tapes and they let me go.”

Leia sighed, her expression sorrowful.  “Oh, Ben. Is that what you think?  They saw your name and called my office.” 

Ben’s hand finally left Rey’s knee so that it could curl into a fist next to its twin.  Ben bent his head, staring at his lap.

“Tell them you’re an Organa,” he said.  “Tell them you’re not married and you don’t have a relationship with your son.  Tell them you never knew Anakin Skywalker. Just leave me out of it.”  On that last, vicious whisper, he stood up abruptly.  His knee caught the tablecloth as he slid his chair back, and his plate clattered to the floor, shattering into a dozen pieces.  

He stared at it for a moment.   Everyone did.   But then Ben spun, rushing from the room. 

When Rey turned her head back at the other three diners, it was their expressions that did it.  

Unhappy, of course. Perhaps a little scared.  But also…satisfied.  Knowing. This was what they’d expected. That Ben would yell and break things. They didn’t think any better of him. Didn’t know any better. 

“Your mother’s wedding china,” Threepio said, making an exaggerated expression of dismay at the broken pieces of floral china on the ground.  “No more dinners for more than a dozen with that set, then.”

Rey was filled with a sudden sense of resolve.

“Pardon me,” she said, laying her napkin aside her plate and rising with all the dignity she could muster. She picked up her plate, the twin of Ben’s.  She considered it for a moment.  There were little enamel roses along the border.  Hand-painted, perhaps.  Looking Leia directly in the eye, Rey snapped the plate in two.  She dropped the pieces on the floor.

 “Please excuse me,” Rey said as they gaped at her.  “I’m a little drunk.  I’m going to go find my boyfriend.”

 * * *

Rey found Ben pacing in the foyer.  He didn’t lift his head at the sound of her footsteps.  

“Can you drive?” Rey asked. Ben shook his head, still staring blindly at the expensive rug. 

“Take an Uber?” she offered. He shook his head again. 

“Would only have to come back for my car.  And she’ll have something else prepared by then,” he said, voice raspy.

“Let’s go find a bedroom to wait in until we sober up,” Rey told him.  “We can barricade the doors if they come for us.”

That minor witticism failed to alter Ben’s expression, but when she wrapped an arm through his, he turned and led them from the room. 

They went up two flights of stairs (one marble, one carpeted) to a long hallway of closed doors. Ben opened and peered within three before pulling her into a dark room.

Inside it, a full bed was made with a plaid comforter and navy sheets.  Above it hung various pieces of sports memorabilia, including a signed baseball bat.  Ben brushed off her hand and went to a cork bulletin board, apparently transfixed by an old calendar and pinned tickets.

“Is this…your room?” Rey asked, confused.  It looked like a teenage boy’s bedroom.  

Ben was quiet for a long minute before answering.  He flicked the calendar with his fingers.  “Varsity water polo sophomore year.  I’d just made the team.” He turned to look in her direction, but his eyes went right through her.  “It’s my furniture.  She must have just moved it all here when she sold the house in Chandrila after the divorce.”   

More lyrics from a song she’d never heard. 

Before she could open her mouth again, he stepped nearer.  Ran his hands down her arms.  Rey lifted a hand to touch his face, but she hesitated at the last second and dropped it to his chest instead. 

He seemed to take that as some kind of sign, because his hands fell to the hem of her blouse and he began to pull it up. 

He’d been rough with her and he’d been gentle with her.  She’d asked for both in the past at different times, and he’d always been obliging.

But tonight was different from both as he mechanically undid buttons and clasps and undressed them. She didn’t know what place and year his mind was in but it wasn’t in the room with her, even as he was efficiently rendering them naked. 

He couldn’t be that drunk, because when he pushed his pants down he was hard and ready.  His fingers plucked at her breasts as his hips guided her backwards towards the bed.  He looked in her direction, but not at her. 

When Rey’s thighs hit the mattress, she sat down and scooted back.  Ben followed, looming over her, his expression unreadable.  He licked the first two fingers of his hand and ran them into her cleft.  After a moment’s deliberative exploration he lifted a knee to spread her thighs.

Rey wanted to hold her breath when he gripped the base of his cock and guided it to her entrance. But she knew from experience that made the initial glide burn, so she exhaled and leaned up to rest her forehead on Ben’s shoulder as he nudged himself inside.  It usually didn’t sting anymore, but tonight it did: both of their minds were not really synced with what their bodies were doing.  Ben grabbed the headboard with one hand and used it as leverage to pull himself in to the hilt. 

But once he was there—their bodies aligned, hips pressed intimately together, his balls snug against her ass, his stomach pressing into the hollow below her ribs with every inhalation—it was as though he woke up.  Sobered up, perhaps. 

“Rey,” he breathed, looking down at her, and then at where their bodies were joined.  

Rey pulled her knees up to cradle his body. 

He hadn’t moved yet, and his expression was a little horrified.  

“Rey, I-“ His lips pressed together as he tried to summon words. 

“Shhh,” Rey said, finally lifting her hands through the cage of his shoulders to cup his face.  “It’s okay.”

He bit his lips and ducked his head out of her grasp, sliding from her an inch or two as he pressed his face to the side of her neck.

She wasn’t surprised to feel the hot moisture of tears on her skin, but she was, a little, at his words. 

“Don’t leave me,” he said, voice small.  His hips were barely moving above hers—just a small rocking motion that was easy for her body to accommodate. 

“Ben,” she said.  She threaded her arms below his and wrapped them around his broad shoulders as best she could.  “Ben, shhh, I won’t.”  

He pushed back in and stilled.  “I know I’m not- I’m not good.  At much. But I think I can learn.” 

She squeezed him tighter. “That’s not true, Ben, if someone ever said it to you, it’s not-“

He pulled back to get some leverage from his knees, then prized her arms off of him.  He took both her wrists in one hand and pinned them above her head before settling his body over hers again.  Another tear splashed over her breastbone. 

“You don’t have to say that. I know what I am.  But I think- I can do everything on your list, at least. And if you tell me what else you want, I can do that too.  I can be good to you, at least,” he clarified. 

Rey tried to tilt her head to catch his eyes but he evaded her and bent his head over her shoulder again.

She spread her legs wider and tried to wrap them around his hips, but he was a large man and he seemed determined to pin her in place.

The next item on the list, calculated the previous weekend, was ‘edging.’  They had not needed to discuss who was going to learn to live on the edge; it wasn’t that Rey was ever going to sleep unsatisfied, but there was an unspoken agreement that ten thrusts was more of a starter home than a place where Ben wanted to live on a long-term basis. 

And it was paying off—Ben’s movements, once he had her arranged to his liking, were efficient and almost punishing in their completeness.  And once he propped himself on one palm and pressed his hand between them, Rey found herself squirming and pleasantly anticipating a better orgasm than she’d hoped for tonight.  Until his hand stopped moving.  He spread his two fingers to straddle the place where he was inside her. 

“Say it,” he said.

“Say what,” Rey repeated numbly.  She tried to grind against him but his body was too heavy, and he had her pinned. 

“Say you won’t leave me,” Ben said, his voice still hoarse.  “And then I’ll make you come.” 

“I won’t leave you,” Rey said, trying not to moan.

“Promise,” Ben said, pulling out only to snap his hips back into her. 

“I promise,” Rey agreed, feeling tears prick her own eyes.

“Not ever,” he demanded, finally moving his fingers again.  He caught her clit between his fingers as he moved his body more deliberately against hers. 

He wasn’t waiting to hear her say it, but she repeated “not ever,” finally letting the tears come. His lips hit hers sloppily, then moved to her cheeks and her eyelids.  She wasn’t certain which one of them was crying harder. 

Ben’s stamina had gotten a lot better over the course of the week, but didn’t extend to moving past the point where he felt her body clenching around his cock.  When Rey closed her eyes and arched her back, he groaned and ground his body deeply into hers, hands clenching on the comforter as they rode out their orgasms more or less in unison. 

He didn’t move, afterwards, even to slip out of her.  His weight was pleasant, like a weighted blanket, and Rey lightly caressed his sweaty shoulder.

“Ben, did we just have quiet missionary in a dark room?” she asked, after a moment. 

He didn’t lift his head as he chuckled into her neck. 

“Doesn’t count.  We’re not married yet and we’ve been trying hard not to procreate.”

You’ve been trying hard?” Rey twitted him, determinedly not thinking of that important use of the word ‘yet.’

“Intentionality matters,” he said, shifting a bit on top of her. 

They were quiet, and the only sound in the room was breaths and slowing heartbeats. 

“How long until you’re sober enough to drive us home?” Rey asked when Ben finally rolled off of her to stare up at the model ships hanging from the ceiling. 

“I was just calculating my blood alcohol level,” Ben said.  “Thirteen minutes from now if I haven’t lost any weight this week due to your casseroles.”

“You love my casseroles,” Rey said.

“I know,” Ben said.

 * * * 

The kind of intent, watchful contentment that Ben regarded her with for the rest of the weekend made the words hard to get out. 

Rey had to work the next day, and then Phasma somehow had them volunteered to mix Jell-O shots for Hux’ birthday that Saturday evening, so it was Sunday afternoon before she had the chance.

“We need to talk, Ben,” Rey said after storing her three-bean chili in Ben’s freezer with defrosting instructions. 

Ben looked up from where he was coding his homework on his computer

His expression was neutral, but his lips were a flat line.

“No,” he said shortly, turning back to his keyboard. 

Rey huffed out a laugh and put her hands on her lips.

“I don’t think that’s how it works.  I don’t think you’re allowed to just say ‘no’ if I want to talk.”

Ben rolled his chair away from the desk and stood.  He straightened to his full height when he stalked across the kitchen to her.  Her heart rate picked up a bit as he loomed over her.  But she knew what she had to do.

“You promised,” he said, looking down at her, eyes liquid. 

She nodded.  “I’m not leaving you,” she vowed.  “But we do need to talk.  About where I’m living until graduation.” 

Ben’s jaw worked back and forth as he thought about that. 

“Fine,” he said.  “But we’ll do it my way.” 

He reached out and pushed down the gym shorts she’d thrown on to do her laundry.  His fingers caught in the waistband of the laundry day underwear she’d donned and he pulled at those too until they were loose enough to slide down to her ankles. 

“Um,” Rey said.  She was wearing his Torchwood t-shirt and his athletic socks.  He seemed content to leave those on her body when he pulled her gently by the wrist to his couch.  He sat down first and spread his legs.  Grasped her hips with both hands and pulled her backwards down between them.  Spread her knees to parallel his.

“Um,” she said again when his hand rubbed once across her stomach and began to trace south through her curls.  “This doesn’t feel like talking.  This feels a lot like sex.”

Ben’s finger continued its descent through her folds.  It circled once around her clit then delicately dipped to her entrance. 

“You can talk,” Ben clarified.  “When I’m inside you I know you’re not leaving me.” 

Rey nodded.  It made a strange kind of sense.

“I think I should live in my apartment until my lease is up,” Rey began.

Ben’s other arm wrapped more securely around her stomach, clenching her against him.  His finger pressed deeper inside her and crooked, hitting one of Rey’s favorite spots.

“And I think you should stay here.  And be naked more often,” Ben countered. 

“Ben, I-“ he slipped another finger inside her, made her gasp.  She recovered.  “I’m just starting to see the shape of this.  And it’s big.  But it’s like trying to see the shape of the Milky Way from inside it.” 

“What’s to see?” Ben said, biting down at her shoulder through the t-shirt.  “This is good.  Your roommate is a prick.  I’m here.”

“Yes,” Rey said, trying to keep a clear head and stick to her talking points.  “But I think I should gain a little experience in forgiving someone.  I might need it someday.  And Finn’s my best friend.” 

Ben’s hand moved more slowly as he considered that, then he slipped his left hand under the hem of the shirt to palm a breast.

“Forgive him from here,” Ben said.  “I’m not going to try to keep you from seeing your friends.”

“It’s not just that,” Rey admitted. 

“Ah,” Ben said, pinching a nipple.  It hurt, a little.  Less when his other hand began rubbing slow circles around her clit.  “You are trying to leave me.  A little.  No.”

“NO,” Rey reiterated. “Ben, I think we should…date, maybe?”

Ben didn’t stop this time, but he bent his head to lick a stripe behind her ear and make her shudder.  

“Dating is what people do before they have sex and move in together,” Ben explained, as though she were not very bright.

“It’s also when they talk,” Rey said.  “And I’m not proposing that the sex stop.”

“Encouraging,” said Ben, directly below her earlobe.  “But what do we have to talk about when I already know that I love you?”

Rey closed her eyes. It was hard to keep a clear head when the pleasure in her body and the riot in her heart threatened to drown out every coherent thought she had.

“Did you know I don’t have a family?” she finally asked.  “I was in foster care for twelve years.  Finn’s my emergency contact.  He gets my grades in the mail.  We used to laugh about it.”

Give Ben some credit, he didn’t say anything in response immediately.  He only gently pulled her closer to his chest and pressed the pads of his two fingers together against her body, vibrating them in the way he’d learned that she liked until she shook against his chest. 

“I didn’t know that,” he said, after she’d come down, and she was lying bonelessly over his lap. He stroked her hair out of her face with his clean hand so that she could look up at him. 

“I didn’t know anything about your family,” Rey said.  “And maybe it won’t be important.  And mine won’t be important.  But maybe it will?” 

Ben’s eyes were sad as they regarded her. 

“Nobody has ever liked me more when they’ve gotten to know me better,” he finally said. 

Rey reached up with one hand and traced his bottom lip.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said.  “Because I already love you.”

Chapter Text

The Alderaan Audubon Society was very pleased to gain a futon at their most remote raptor conservation station in the interior of Alderaan National Park.

“This is fantastic, the volunteers will really appreciate getting to sleep off the ground,” Ranger Namit told the group.  

Finn was still rubbing his back ostentatiously; the trail from the nearest parking to the cabin was a good two and a half miles, and not particularly well-maintained.  Rey imagined that carrying her futon that distance had been difficult.  This thought pleased her.  Poe was taking it all in stride as a lovely day’s hike with his corgi, but of course he had not been doing nearly so much groveling over the past two months as Finn. 

“I’m just glad I could find a good home for it,” Rey told Ranger Namit, gesturing to her futon where it now made up the sole piece of permanent furniture in the concrete and cinderblock cabin.  There were sheltered mews outside for falcons in the last stages of rehabilitation and release, but the human volunteers had previously been expected to rough it. 

“I can’t promise no sex has been had on this futon,” Rey felt compelled to admit. 

Ranger Namit waves a hand in understanding.  “Doesn’t bother me,” he said.  “I spent yesterday trying to convince an endangered hawk to have sex with my hat.”

They stared at him for a second while they parsed that, then fell all over each other to demand details, pictures, logistics.  Poor Ranger Namit had not been prepared to deliver an impromptu lecture on the love life of his babies, but gamely folded his hands behind his back and launched into an explanation of the Audubon Society’s efforts to breed the Lesser Spotted Kestrel.  

Rose pulled out her phone to take notes.  Rey wasn’t positive whether Rose was developing an interest in falconry or beginning to choreograph some kind of falcon-breeding-kink scene, but Rey felt a deep satisfaction that she would never have to find out. 

The disposition of her futon meant that all of her belongings were out of her old apartment. 

And she had a date with Ben at Ikea that afternoon.

* * *  

Rey saw no reason to proceed any differently with Project: Relationship than Project: The Sexx (as her previous database had been titled).  Ben seemed to think that mere time and proximity would be sufficient to smooth out any rough edges.  Rey told him that he’d never get anything accomplished in life with that kind of task management and sent him a Trello notecard for a .csv deliverable of relationship goals by the end of the week.

The second list was nearly the same length as the first.  Ben wanted the two lists integrated, which was a fun bit of coding for them both that first weekend after Organa House. 

After a few late-night debugging sessions and a stress-relieving BJ in the second-floor Science Center lab, they had prompts that went a bit like this: 

  1. Picnic on campus green; date
  2. With lingerie on, including but not limited to merry-widow and garter belt (REY)
  3. Explain family tree; discussion
  4. 69
  5. Dinner at restaurant with tablecloths, BEN TO PAY; date
  6. Reverse cowgirl; REY TO ACQUIRE HAT
  7. Abandonment issues, source of; discussion

These were not all complete successes.  Ben packed the basket for their picnic, and Rey was highly suspicious of some of the foods he included.  Cheese, in her experience, came in two varieties; white and yellow, and tasted generally the same regardless of the color, which was added during processing for aesthetics.  Blues and greens meant it had gone off and should be discarded.  

“It’s Roquefort,” Ben explained, waving it under her nose.  The smell of it didn’t do anything to convince her otherwise, but when he smeared it on a bit of baguette with honey, she reluctantly tried a few bites just to be game.

“It’s gone bad,” Rey said, wincing.  “Did the grocery store try to tell you it was still good?  Don’t be embarrassed, I don’t mind doing the grocery shopping from now on…”

Ben just grinned at her and kept eating his spoiled cheese. It was a date, Rey thought.  Nobody went to eat picnics on the green with their friends, or their fuck-buddies, or their lab partners.  She, Rey Jackson, was on a date.  A date involving spoiled cheese and the man she'd been sleeping with for over a month, but still.  She dated.  

Rey also told herself she was a bad person when her first thought was ‘I told you so’ after Ben broke out in hives.  Of course, she attempted to render medical assistance thereafter. 

“Stick your fingers down your throat!” she told him, wiping the remaining crumbs off her own fingers. “I don’t have a gag reflex but it’s not too late for you to save yourself from the cheese-“

Ben sneezed.  “It’s not the cheese,” he said, eyes watering. “I’m allergic to grass.”

Rey looked around the green. There were dozens of other students enjoying the rare warm spring day, playing Frisbee, reading, and napping. Nobody who looked competent to handle a grass allergy, much less help her carry her boyfriend if he went into anaphylactic shock.  

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, packing up their basket and hustling Ben back towards his car. He sneezed again.

“In seventh grade I heard my dad complain to one of his friends when I went out for water polo instead of lacrosse,” he told her.  “Being allergic to grass isn’t my manliest quality.”  This was yet another metaphor for his entire childhood, so Rey didn't scold him again for holding back and focused on getting him to safety.   

Rey drove him straight back to her apartment with her stash of Benedryl and dosed him into somnolence. He did not look very manly with his puffy eyes and running nose either, but she felt an unfamiliar and ferocious tenderness overwhelm her once he was passed out, snoring, on her futon. 

Rey didn’t have a pet. Or younger relatives.  Or anyone who had looked to her for care, that she could recall. 

It felt a little silly to feel protective of Ben Solo.  He was tall and broad and brilliant.  Their professors did not treat him lightly.  He was not jostled when they walked through the halls of their school.

But when Rey gazed down at him, she had the sudden wish that she could have met him earlier, and kept him safe.   Not as a child, but as the woman she was.  She wanted to cradle him in her arms as an infant. She wanted to wipe his tears as a lonely child.  She wanted to embrace him as a young man and tell him that he was beautiful. 

She laboriously rolled him over and climbed in behind him on the futon.  She held him until he woke up.

* * *  

The morning of their move Rey and Ben were surprised to find that their new apartment was not entirely empty. 

On the center island of their new kitchen there was a Kitchenaid mixer matching their sleek silver appliances.  (Ben’s VC funding had come through and Rey tried not to think too hard about the kind of investor that went in heavily on “Poacher: the Video Game.”  Rey’s new job had at least come with a signing bonus sufficient to buy an Ikea daybed for the guest bedroom).  

Rey was busy cooing over the long-coveted kitchen gadget and did not initially notice the small wooden recipe box next to the mixer.  Ben opened it and began flicking through the yellowed cards within.  There was a cheerful pattern of daisies around the edges of the cards, each of which was written out in a flowing cursive.

“Who?” Rey asked, not specifying the sender as opposed to the author of the recipe cards.

Ben cleared his throat. “My grandmother,” he said, showing Rey a card explaining the preparation of “Chicken La Fonda.”  

“…Padme?” Rey asked after a moment, thinking back to the flowcharts Ben created to explain his lineage. 

He shook his head. 

“No, Jaina.  Padme and Breha were governors.  They probably had people cook for them all their lives.” 

“…so it’s from your dad?” Rey asked, confused. 

Ben put the card carefully back in the box.

“My dad, if he ever thought to give us a housewarming gift, would send liquor and cigarettes.  No, must be my mom.”  

Rey looked around the apartment in wonder.  Their furniture wasn’t even in yet.  Rose was still texting Rey’s phone about the progress of the movers back at Ben's old apartment.  

“How did she know?” Rey wondered. 

Ben snorted.  “My mother knows everything.  I’ll bet she knew before the office approved our security deposit.” 

Rey ran an appreciative hand over the mixer.

“It’s, um, horribly intrusive.  And kinda creepy.  And she should have called you or something.  And we can’t keep it, right?” she said, trying to keep the wistful note from her voice.  

“I’ll allow the gross abuse of power as long as it’s for good,” Ben said.  “It’s the Skywalker way.” 

 * * *  

It took many months to make it through the new list.  Rey and Ben found that some goals took more than one weekend to address.  Some didn’t work at all (like 69: she fell on Ben’s face and gave him a bloody lip and they never tried it again). 

“Address irrational fear of partner leaving,” for example, was not really a discussion but a work in progress. 

“Fix friends/family so they’re less awful" also took some time and patience.  Ben offered to pay actors to attend life events up to and including their engagement party or eventual wedding, but Rey preferred to read self-help books on communication and tell Finn how his behavior made her feel after a few rounds of Midori Sours at the campus pub.  Finn matched her two drinks for her every one until he felt all her feelings and confessed every sin he’d ever committed against her or anyone else.  Rey considered him appropriately punished after his hangover the next day.  And delivering her futon to the Audubon Center.  And helping her move.  And giving her first refusal on the television until the end of their lease. And cooking her coconut rice whenever she demanded it (which was often). 

However, eventually Ben and Rey came to the end of the list, long after the butt stuff and the mime sex and his grandmother's emerald ring.  

“So, I got us something to celebrate,” Rey told her fiancé, handing him a wrapped package. 

Ben didn’t give her many presents, since he’d known the difference between giving gifts and giving love since earliest childhood, and thus they’d passed many gift-giving occasions with the exchange of nothing more than home-cooked meals and sexual favors.

His expression was intrigued when he opened it, though, and it shifted rapidly to delight when he pulled the oddly-shaped device out.

“Is this…?” he said, turning it over. 

“A custom-built tentacle dildo harness,” Rey said proudly.  “With a detachable vibrator.  For her. Well, for me.” 

The tentacle end was soft, premium silicon, and the harness was adjustable.    It was a high-end piece, and Rey was proud of the thought and design that had gone into it.

“I’d say you shouldn’t have, but really I should have ordered this that first weekend.  I can’t believe we never added this to the list,” Ben said, wrapping his arms around her.

Rey leaned up to kiss the man who had been doing his best to make all her dreams come true since their first raid together.  

“Wanna clean up and try it out?” Rey asked Ben. 

Ben, who was as much about the butt stuff as he’d been since turning to the Dark Side of the Force, readily agreed.

When he was out of the shower and lubed up on all fours on their bed, Rey pulled up a very special soundtrack on her phone and connected it to the speaker.

“What video game is that?” Ben asked, frowning at the little Bluetooth hub. The 32 bits of sound tinkled merrily.  It was the best the Super Nintendo had offered.   

Rey shrugged, trying to keep her face from disclosing her glee.  He hadn’t recognized it yet.  

“Not sure,” she said. “It’s just nice and upbeat.”

She got herself rigged into the harness and swallowed an <umph> when she flipped on the vibrator. This little toy was going to get a lot of rotation, she already knew it. 

She ran her hands over Ben’s taut ass, resisting the urge to pinch. 

“Hey, what’ve we got here?” Rey quoted.  Ben gave her a curious look—he had nothing she had not seen before—but still didn’t pick up on it.

“Gwee-hee-hhe, you’re up the creek without a paddle!” Rey continued, pulling out a blindfold she’d stashed under the bed for just such an occasion. 

Ben didn’t resist when she wrapped the black fabric around his eyes, but he now looked mildly concerned.

“Um, sweetie?” he asked, but Rey was determined. 

“Ink spell!  Does this make me a bad octopus?” she demanded, tightening the blindfold around his head and letting him feel the tip of the tentacle at his ass.

She could feel the exact moment he figured it out.  He tightened up.   

“Oh God,” he said. “Please tell me this isn’t a Final Fantasy VI scene.”  

“You’re a tasty morsel! I can’t wait to get my tentacles around you,” Rey replied, leaning in so that the tip barely penetrated him.

Ben’s laugh turned into a snort, and then a choke. 

“Noooo,” he moaned in fake distress.  “I played this game as a little kid.”

Rey rocked her tentacle against him, edging in bit by bit.  It had to be deep enough now that he could feel the vibrations.  His hands fisted in the sheets.

“I can’t believe I’m being fucked by Ultros,” he gasped. 

“And I can’t believe I memorized all this dialogue,” Rey retorted, grabbing his hips and pulling them back toward her.  “Don’t make me forget my lines.  ‘Sploosh.’”

“I love you so much,” Ben sighed, shoulder muscles tightening as Rey gave a first hard thrust. 

“I love you too,” Rey said. “’Sploosh.  Seafood soup.’”