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Bad Neighbors

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Chapter One - Not Very Neighborly

 

Ben Solo is the absolute worst neighbor. Ever.

In the history of horrible, awful, unmitigated douchebag assholes, Ben Solo outshines them all. Easily.

Which is why, when he runs the stop sign a block away from their cul-de-sac, Rey is thrilled to flip on the lights of her patrol car and flare the siren in two deafening bleeps.

She is technically off-duty. But she’s had a very shitty day. And Solo just happens to be at the top of her people-I-actively-hate-list.

Especially after his latest outrage.

So, yeah. She is going to pull his ass over and find any reason she can to fuck with him…because he totally deserves it.

His rearview mirror reflects an angry flash of eyes rolling upward in sarcastic disbelief as he pulls to the curb.

She narrows her own eyes and pulls up behind him, noticing an impatient flicker of his brake lights.

What's the matter, Solo? In a hurry to get home and bathe in puppy blood or do whatever it is monsters like you do for fun?

She sits for a few minutes, taking her time. Let him stew.

She knows he hates waiting – being an Alpha, he tends to think the world should wait on him, not the other way around.

And he always seems especially eager to leave her presence...so Rey will draw this out as long and painfully as she can.

She knows he can't stand her.

Which is fine with her. The feeling is mutual. She has no interest whatsoever in the Number One Asshole of the Century, either.

…even if he does smell divine...like woodsy, spicy musk and clean sweat and expensive shampoo and a touch of something naughty…forbidden. Like raunchy sex.

She swallows and steels herself against that thought, loosening her nightstick from her belt and sweeping it along her leg.

As she approaches his vehicle, she raps the stick against the shiny black paint of his sports car.

She wishes she’d caught his speed on her scanner, but knowing he is a lawyer and will inevitably demand to see proof for himself, she excludes "breaking the speed limit" from the list of infractions she can legitimately pin on him…

His window remains up for just a fraction of a second while she waits for him this time…she is about to tap on the glass when…

Aw. Made you move first.

It has been this way since the day they met. And it has only grown worse.

“Is there a problem…Omega?” he sneers from the dark leather interior of his luxurious vehicle. He looks warm, cozy, and impatient to be on his way.

Good.

At least...good, until his scent assails her like a blast wave. Rey, had she not been trained in dealing with just this kind of…situation, would have stepped back.

Or just passed out…

Fuck. It's just so damn potent...and he's so huge and muscly and his hair is so gorgeous. Thick, black locks, longish and slightly ruffled...as if he's been running his fingers through the silky-looking strands all day...oof.

Get a grip, Niima. It's just hair. 

“Evening, Solo.” She refuses to call him by his designation or “sir” even though she is supposed to be polite when dealing with citizens.

But this is a special case.

He glances away as if disgusted by her very presence. As if he cannot bear to look at her.

“License and registration.” Her words are clipped and efficient, giving no indication whatsoever she is nearly drooling from whatever elusive scent he’s wearing…or is that just him?

Shit. I think that’s just him.

He glares at her hard enough to send a shiver down her spine, but she keeps her cool.

That stare, albeit on the face of her biggest adversary, is hot enough to spark a brush fire…

Good thing I don’t go into heat for another week, she thinks recklessly.

But she really shouldn’t put the idea of Ben Solo, that scent of his, that hair of his, and damn, especially those eyes of his, into thoughts anywhere near her heat or sex or…

His window is rolling up, ostensibly to keep the warmth inside his car while he digs out his ID and registration, but she sticks her nightstick in, blocking it from going all the way.

“Keep your hands where I can see them, please,” she snaps.

One more move like that, and I’m going to strip search him right here in the street.

She’s pretty sure the neighbors won’t mind, since they all hate his guts, too…

"Were you not aware of the stop sign back there?" she inquires, meeting his simmering gaze with a bit of smug satisfaction. 

She’s already got the ticket written up when she realizes he’s not moved an inch.

“License?”

He shoves it through the crack in the window with a nasty smirk and a rude, “Whatever, Omega…”

Oh, hell, no.

"And registration?"

“Are you even on duty right now? Or are you just harassing me because you're a poor loser?” he retorts hotly, pushing the sheet of paper through the crack in the window, too.

...it floats to the ground in the midst of their stare-off.

Oh, no. You didn’t just call me that…

“Step out of the vehicle, please,” Rey barks in a no-nonsense tone.

He huffs, frustrated, and pushes open the door of his car, muttering, “Harassment…”

“Hands on the hood of the car, please.” He puts his hands on the frigid metal of his sleek sportscar and glares at her with such distaste, she almost cringes…

“What exactly are you doing this for? Other than to be a total bitch?”

“You should not have an attitude with me right now, Solo.”

“You seem to be the one with the attitude problem, Officer.” He’s snarling-mad, now, and Rey feels a frisson of pure loathing under the heat of his anger.

“Spread ‘em,” she demands, kicking his feet into a wider stance. He rumbles a dark laugh at her that sends more shivers curling down her spine, icy-hot and treacherous.

“Are you carrying any weapons or needles today?” she hisses, snapping gloves over her hands before patting him down.

Thoroughly.

“Still need to get that pussy pounded, Omega? Smells like you just might be getting -”

He grunts and chokes back a gasp as she gets a little rough feeling his around his crotch. For weapons, of course.

Rey definitely feels her blood pressure spike as she....wait. Is he getting hard?

“If you’re that desperate for my knot, why didn’t you just say –"

"Shut up, Solo."

She moves her hands to pat his pockets, then up to his abs - rock hard - oh, he's flexing on purpose, the show-off...

"You know my offer still stands...I'd have you drooling and screaming for more in five seconds flat..."

Rey swallows. She runs her palms over his chest and shoulders, down the expensive fabric of his suit jacket stretched taut across his back and shoulders. She sweeps her hands down to his butt, only trembling a little. Damn, he has a tight ass.

"...fuck that little attitude problem right out of you...free of charge..." he taunts, a little out of breath as she gives him an extra squeeze.

Oh, definitely a mistake.

“That was the wrong thing to say to me, Mr. Solo…”

She pulls out her taser.

Things take a downhill turn from there…

 

Next Week, In Court –

Rey is really starting to feel antsy and hopes court will wrap up soon. She needs to get home, ahead of the snow, which is supposed to hit this evening and last for days.

The timing couldn’t have been worse, considering she is on the brink of going into heat… But, at least she already dropped Bee-Bee at the kennel and stocked the fridge in anticipation of the coming week. So, if she gets snowed in, at least she’ll be somewhat prepared…

She just needs to call Finn and make sure he will be there, as he always is.

But, she needs to finish this, first. Take down Ben Solo, that is.

Naturally, he’s representing himself. And naturally he looks fucking amazing in his classically-tailored three-piece suit and blood-red power tie, dark hair combed neatly, clean-shaven visage reflecting none of the true asshole hidden away inside… In other words, he looks respectable, commanding, and absolutely, devastatingly handsome…and dammit, he smells sooo good.

She’s been catching whiffs of his scent all morning, even from across the courtroom, as they wait on opposite sides until they are called forward.

Rey doesn’t need to be here, especially this close to her heat…but she really wants revenge. The Police Department has excellent lawyers who are well-versed in defending officers from people making false accusations. Trying to escape justice…

And this is a tricky case. Considering Rey’s dashcam and radio were off during the events leading to his arrest…

It’s a case of he-said, she-said, all right. And Rey wants to protect her stellar reputation.

And…because Solo is counter-suing the department for unreasonable search and seizure of property, among other things. And to recover the alleged medical expenses incurred during his arrest. And damages sustained to his fancy sports car when it was impounded…and the cost to replace his suit that was damaged when she tasered him…

Technically she didn’t do anything wrong…technically.

Everything is looking just fine, until…

...until he starts talking…

“...case to be dismissed on grounds that the arresting officer, Officer Niima, has a prior history with me and has, in fact, been out to get me since the day we met…”

…and Rey realizes she is going to get fucked more than one way today…

Her ears buzz as outrage fills her, while Poe Dameron, the best attorney on the books is just standing there.

Why isn’t he arguing?

Oh. Shit. Poe’s an Alpha, too, although doing a somewhat better job of covering his reaction to her emerging…problem… She should not be here…

She catches scraps of phrases, but is growing wholly distracted by the fact that Ben Solo’s scent is becoming increasingly appealing and the ever-expanding panic in her chest as she realizes her heat is going to be on her in hours…or less…

“…used unreasonable force during the course of my arrest for a mere traffic infraction…”

Poe and Solo stand before the bench, and Solo keeps throwing smoldering glances back at her, becoming more…agitated with each passing second.

 

A Year Ago –

Rey finally unpacks the last box from the U-Haul. She's dripping sweat and gulping down a large glass of water when she hears it.

A faint screaming…

No. Was that really?

She grabs her sidearm from the holster hanging by the front door and runs outside.

It’s cold and she’s only wearing a thin t-shirt.

New to town and scheduled to begin her new job with the City Police Department next week, Rey finds herself wondering if what she’d heard had been real.

Was it imagined? No. There it is again.

She runs to the house next door, an imposing place that looks as if it is either occupied by a family of twelve or a mysterious, beast-like creature – perhaps a vampire or Ebenezer Scrooge?  – and raps on the knocker.

The knocker is shaped like a lion’s head. 

All the blinds are closed tight when she hears it again…a woman screaming and then a rough yell…

And then nothing.

She raps on the door again and rings the bell, ready to kick down the door if someone doesn't answer soon.

The huge, heavily-carved door flings open to reveal a large, half-naked man. He has a towel wrapped around his waist. Nothing else.

His dark hair is damp with sweat, chest shiny with it, and his cheeks are flushed. He looks –

Oh. Shit.

And he smells yummy. Even with the scent of another woman on him, he smells…delicious.

He cocks an eyebrow, not deigning to speak as she surveys him, wide-eyed. Sickening comprehension dawns on her.

OhThose kinds of screams. Um.

“Hello, there,” he finally purrs…prompting Rey’s stomach to clench into tight, hot little knots at the husky rasp of his voice…

“You here to join us, sweetheart?” His full, lusciously-red lips curl into a full-blown sneer at her obvious fluster.

Rey feels her cheeks burning scarlet and blurts out, “I’m your new neighbor…”

He glances at the pistol in her hand and smirks, “You show me your gun, neighbor girl, and I’ll show you mine.”

He twitches the towel at his hips invitingly, and Rey avoids staring at his bulge only through sheer, brute willpower.

“Erm…no…thanks...”

“I’ll bet I can get you from zero to sixty in under ten seconds…” he mutters, sniffing at her obscenely, his hooded gaze flickering with interest over her sweaty t-shirt and pebbled nipples…

As tempting as he is, standing there smelling like heaven and sex and delicious Alpha…he’s just so goddamn cocky.

It’s irritating.

If she sets a precedent now, it will determine their entire neighborly relationship for as long as they live next door to each other…and the last thing she needs is some overly-self-important Alpha sniffing around her place every time he wants to get his dick wet.

“…I was wondering if you could keep it down, please?” she asks, using her best authoritative cop voice.

“Keeping it down isn’t really what I’m good at, sweetheart…why don’t you come on in and let me prove it?”

“I don’t need anything from you,” she hisses. Her eyes drift unwillingly to the notable bulge under his towel… “other than for you to please. Kindly. Keep. It. Down.”

His nostrils flare and his eyes spark with offense…

“Well, Omega, if you aren’t here to get that little pussy pounded, then please, kindly…fuck off…” he snaps rudely and slams the door in her face.

 

Eleven Months Ago –

“Niima! What the fuck?” Ben Solo glowers at her from over the hedges with pure murder in his whiskey-hued eyes.

Ah. This must be about the property line…

“What? I’m legally entitled to have the property surveyed within sixty days of closing,” Rey starts.

But, of course, Solo interrupts, “Only if you intend on establishing a fence line – we already have a fence in place, it’s been in place, and it –”

“I know the law!” Rey argues. “But that fence was not a shared expense, and since you paid for it, I'm giving you thirty days to move your stuff off my property. That’s more than fair.”

“It’s not stuff and you know it – that fence has been there for more than five years and nobody complained about it until you came along.”

“Well the law says the property line is grandfathered by default after seven years… And an easement doesn’t apply, so technically you’re encroaching.”

“I’ll fight this. I will spend every minute of my day on it if I have to,” he warns.

He looks scary and intimidating, but Rey is a cop. She’s seen scarier.

And Rey isn’t afraid. She knows she’s right.

Who’s kindly fucking off now, asshole?

 

Nine Months Ago –

It’s seven o’clock in the morning and Rey has just come home from a double shift when she hears it: A loud smash and a power tool zinging to life just outside her bedroom window.

Good. Sounds like Solo finally got the court orders to remove his “property” from Rey’s back yard…

He has thirty days. More than fair.

She runs to look out her bedroom window and lo and behold, a shirtless Ben Solo is outside taking down the fence between their backyards.

He glances up to her window and bares his teeth as he shears an inch off the board in front of him.

It’s loud. Very loud.

He takes the full thirty days to tear it down. An inch at a time.

And then he starts a new fence on the new official property line. Board by board. Every morning.

At seven o’clock on the dot.

 

Seven Months Ago –

Rey notices Ben Solo goes for a jog every day at exactly five-thirty a.m.

Still furious at the tortuous pace he’s installing the new fence, she decides five-thirty a.m. is a fabulous time to water her lawn.

How is she supposed to know the sprinkler system might spray over onto the sidewalk a bit? Or a lot?

The first time she gets him can be passed off as an accident, but the second time it happens, he knocks on her door, dripping wet and livid.

She almost has the courage to answer, but not quite as she giggles into her hand and listens to his ranting curses on her front porch…

 

Six Months Ago –

“Niima!” Ben rages from his driveway as Rey steps out of her patrol car.

Shit. It’s already been a very long day…What’s his problem, now?

“What?” Rey asks tiredly. She really just wants a cold beer and a hot bath.

But, here comes her arch-nemesis, stomping across her lawn, spitting fire and brimstone at her for reasons she can only guess…

He does look good, though. God, those shoulders.

He stands just far enough away she can only smell him a little…she does her best to ignore his tantalizing scent…

“I’ve had enough, and I want it to stop. Now.” His eyes are snapping fire…

“What do you want to stop? Being a major asshole? Great!” Rey snarks back. “Should I make up flyers and pass them around the neighborhood? To let everyone know?”

“I know it’s you tossing dog shit over my fence. Keep it up and I’m suing…” He whips a long finger at her.

Rey laughs out loud.

“It’s not me tossing turds, but you go ahead and do what you need to do, Solo.”

He whirls around and storms away while Rey smirks at his retreat.

She’s ninety-percent sure it’s probably their neighbor Sharon, whose property abuts both Ben and Rey’s back fences. Sharon is obnoxious, but if Rey has to choose, she hates Ben just slightly more.

Sharon has the most god-awful little Pomeranian, an ill-mannered yippy thing that Rey can’t stand and can’t help but compare to her wonderful little terrier Beebee.

Until recently, Sharon had been running a home catering business out of her garage. But Ben objected to it, based on it potentially lowering his property value and quashed the zoning permit, shutting down her business and pissing off half the neighbors in the process.

Sure, Sharon is the cantankerous old biddy who puts raisins in her potato salad, but…an injunction on zoning changes for the whole neighborhood is just such an asshole thing to do…

Like. Why does Ben Solo get to decide for everyone?

Who made him Zoning Tsar?

So, Rey decides to host a block party on the night before one of the biggest trials of the year…in which Solo happens to be lead defense…

She hires the local high school band, The Resistance, to play into the early morning hours…and they are thrilled to bring their own sound equipment…

Things are loud until well after two o'clock in the morning, but since the entire neighborhood is there, and since she already works for the police department, she’s pretty sure noise complaints won’t be a problem…

It’s pretty satisfying to see how haggard Solo looks the next morning when he lurches out of his house to head for work…

It’s even better when she hosts an encore party the next week…

 

Five Months Ago –

Rey answers the door to find a courier just outside. Shit. She hopes she isn’t being served papers for something…

“Hi Ma’am. I’m wondering if you can sign for this package for your neighbor, Mr. Benjamin R. Solo?”

“What is the package?” Rey asks curiously.

“Legal documents, ma’am. That’s all I know.”

“Sorry. I, um, don’t think I can take responsibility for those…”

The courier looks awkwardly uncomfortable.

“We guaranteed 24-hour delivery to the sender. If you could just see that he gets these tonight…”

“I…can't…” Rey feels bad, but not too bad…

The courier tries to convince her with a sheepish grin. “…I’m not supposed to say anything, but, this is supposed to help him win his current case…”

“Oh. Then in that case,” Rey says firmly, “definitely no.”

She slams the door in the poor guy’s face and hopes Ben Solo fucking chokes in court…

 

Four Months Ago –

“Miss Niima would you like to buy some lemonade?”

Little Rose and Paige Tico are sitting outside in the brisk early fall air. Their lemonade stand is adorable, and while not technically legal, they’ve been getting steady business all day.

Rey’s been keeping an eye on them while working on her yard.

“Sure thing!” She smiles at the girls. “Just need to grab my wallet, okay?”

Ben Solo, lurking by his mailbox, shoots her a fulminating glare.

He still hasn’t forgiven her for refusing to sign for his package last month.

“Niima…tell me you aren’t actually breaking the law by contributing to an illegally-operated business?” He’s glaring at her like he wishes she would catch on fire.

Rey's jaw drops at his veiled threat. He wouldn’t dare…

“Unless you young ladies are telling me you have permits and licenses for this little venture?” Ben snaps at Paige, who turns pale under his intense stare. Rose gapes between the two, unblinking, but she is too young to understand what’s going on.

“Lighten up, prosecutor!” Rey barks at him. “They’re just kids!”

“Watch your back, Niima,” he snarls before returning to his house.

“Did you just threaten me?” she shouts at his retreating back. Then to herself, “I could arrest his ass for that.”

 

Three Months Ago –

It’s the third time in as many weeks Rey has worked all night and come home at the crack of dawn, only to be woken an hour later by the sound of a lawnmower.

It’s almost like he’s watching her house and monitoring her schedule and picking the absolute worst times to mow, and trim, and hedge, and power wash…and basically do anything that requires an unbelievably noisy piece of equipment to run for hours…

I fucking hate him so much.

Technically, he’s not violating the noise ordinances – noise from reasonable daytime activities such as yard work and home maintenance are permitted between the hours of seven a.m. until nine p.m.

She twitches open the window blinds and watches as he pushes a mower in neat lines up and down his lawn. He is not wearing a shirt and a light sheen of sweat makes his gorgeous pecs glow in the early morning light.

Who the fuck mows at seven in the morning?

Nobody sane.

Only assholes.

And if it isn’t yard work, it’s a constant hammering and skill-sawing and sanding and grinding coming from his garage…

She crawls into bed and slams a pillow over her head, trying and failing to block the image of Ben Solo’s sweaty, naked chest muscles flexing as he pushes that lawnmower around...

 

Last Month –

Rey is getting out of the shower when the doorbell rings.

She hastily tosses on a robe and hurries to answer it. It snowed last night and someone might be stuck and need her help…

But no. It’s just Solo.

He’s wearing jeans for a change and a beanie and a black puffer jacket that makes him look young and not at all like the ruthless dog of a lawyer she knows he is…

“Niima,” he says gruffly. “My driveway…I’m snowed in.”

“What do you want me to do about it?” Rey snaps, irritated he looks so good while she looks like a hot mess.

He sounds almost conciliatory. “I know you have a snow shovel and I was wondering…”

Rey quirks a brow trying desperately to ignore the delicious scent of him combined with fresh snowfall…

“What?”

“…can I borrow it?” he growls.

“Sorry. I don’t know where it is.” It’s literally hanging next to the hedge trimmer.

“Niima…I’ve seen it hanging in your garage…I have to be in court in less than an hour…” he starts.

“Not my problem, Solo. Bye!”

Rey slams the door, satisfied with the furious pout on the face of her mortal enemy.

Her morning just got so much better.

She makes herself a cup of cocoa and hangs out by the living room window, thoroughly enjoying the show, while her evil neighbor is forced to clear his driveway with a garden spade and a broom.

It looks pretty difficult.

She almost feels sorry for him, but occasionally catches a muffled curse and the sound just kind of lifts her spirits.

 

Last Week –

“Solo!” Rey shouts from her front porch, watching as her long-legged neighbor trots down the sidewalk, going for his morning run. He is wearing a track suit and a t-shirt that is already sticking to his pecs from his warm up.

He wheels around and jogs in place, giving her the same delicious sneer he always seems to have ready just for her. His breath puffs around him visibly, sending nearly discernible clouds of his scent into the air.

“You’re a real piece of work, you know that?”

He grins, slow and sexy, flexing his muscles a bit. “I’ve been told,” he states. Way too confident.

The egotistical jerk.

He’s a defense attorney, and yet, miraculously, he’s been doing some pro-bono work, recently. A ton of it. In fucking traffic court.

Every single citation Rey has issued over the past thirty days has been overturned thanks to Ben fucking Solo.

“What’s your damage? Why are you coming after my cases?”

“Well, it’s the holidays, sweetheart…I’m just doing my part to help the town’s –”

“Seriously?” Rey bellows. “You’re making me look like –”

But Solo just smiles and drags his eyes over her figure as if he’d like to eat her alive…

Don’t feed that already massive ego of his, Rey.

He flips her the bird and jogs away, and Rey’s heart wells with fury.

That’s it. She’s going to get him. And get him good.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two - The Neighborly Thing To Do

 

“…I was already handcuffed when she tasered me, Your Honor!”

“You monster! That’s a lie!” Rey shouts from her seat, outraged, as Ackbar bangs his gavel demanding order.

She definitely tasered him first. Because she was positive she’d never have gotten handcuffs on him if he'd been able to move his arms and legs…

Ackbar hollers, “One more outburst like that Officer Niima, and I’ll charge you with contempt and throw you in lock-up for the night!”

Rey crosses her arms, seething-mad, as Solo shoots her a smug leer, both of them knowing he just got away with perjury.

Solo turns back to the bench. “Well, we’ll never really know the truth, Your Honor, because her dashcam was –”

Poe steps in – finally – to object, then falters as Solo sneers at him, “Oh? That’s it? I didn’t realize I’d be arguing against the best council in the –”

Ackbar interrupts Solo this time and threatens to throw them all in jail for the night until they learn to “get along” from sheer proximity.

Solo flashes Rey another evil smile, apparently seriously considering whether it would be worth pressing the issue…

The thought of spending a night locked in a cell with an outraged, horny Alpha who is on the verge of going into rut because of her sends a fresh surge of slick pooling between her thighs.

Solo sniffs the air and narrows his eyes at Rey.

Unfazed by the judge’s increasing ire, Solo asks rudely in mock-concern, “Your Honor, speaking of proximity, I am forced to ask why she is even allowed in the courtroom in her present condition?”

Poe objects again, but weakly.

He’s probably wondering the same thing Solo is.

This sends shame and fury flowing through Rey as Solo’s question draws attention to her already spiraling-out-of-control hormones; while she is legally entitled to attend a preliminary hearing she's directly involved in, it is in extremely bad form for her to do so this close to her heat…

The judge flatly refuses to listen to Poe’s attempt to explain and, while not ordering her to leave the room, agrees with Solo it looks very much like she is there for no other reason than, as Solo claims, “trying to distract the hell out of me, just another example of how she’s been trying to –”

Although Ackbar does change the subject, asking point-blank why Solo made such remarkable efforts to get every single one of Rey’s tickets overturned.

Solo blanches and Rey feels a bit smug now, as Ackbar listens to his fumbling reply and offers him a contempt charge as well, informing him “the court system does not exist for you to execute some childish vendetta against an officer of the law.”

Upon hearing that, Solo’s cheeks flush red, and Rey half-hopes he breaks a tooth from the pressure he exerts when his jaw clamps down.

Ha.

But Ackbar isn’t finished lecturing. He goes on about their “behavior descending into the realm of toddler-like tantrums…” and proceeds to scold them both for a solid twenty minutes, while Rey’s hormones do the inevitable thing they are supposed to do when an Omega begins her heat: Signal to every Alpha in the room she is ready to mate.

Rey catches another whiff of Solo’s intoxicating scent and realizes it is definitely getting stronger. Shit.

She is starting to panic. She is on the brink of losing her mind…

Solo is becoming obviously and overtly agitated, as well. As is Dameron.

Although Dameron is doing a marginally better job of keeping his reaction to Rey under control.

Rey’s cheeks flame with mortification when Judge Ackbar declares their case an “unbelievable disgrace and public embarrassment…that two professional members of the community cannot manage to behave like grown-ups.”

He finds them both in contempt for wasting the court’s time with their “disgusting bickering” and “shameful behavior.”

Fury rolls off of Solo and slams into Rey, causing her to shiver and blush as the force of his gaze sends a strange, gut-churning ache into her belly.

The finality of Ackbar’s gavel ringing down brings Rey’s attention back to the proceedings.

“This case is dismissed, and you two better find a way to work it out, or I’ll file a complaint with the Bar, Mr. Solo, and Officer Niima, I will have you suspended, without pay! I don’t want to see either of you back in this courtroom again unless it’s to perform an official function of your job!”

Court is dismissed, and with a muffled “thanks and sorry” to Poe, Rey practically runs for the exit, turning heads. A handful of Alphas observe her with extreme interest and everyone else watches with an air of vague scandal…

The bailiff, an Omega Rey has known since her first week as a cop, shakes her head and holds open the heavy door for Rey. She’s obviously seen the entire shitshow and isn’t entirely sympathetic to Rey’s humiliating departure.

“Girl, you’d best get your ass home before every Alpha in the building comes after you…or Ackbar’s going to slap you with another contempt charge…”

“Thanks,” Rey mutters tearfully, looking over her shoulder to meet the searing black gaze of Ben Solo…

He’s cramming papers into his briefcase and glowering at her with downright hostility.

“Niima! Wait!” he barks from across the room, sending a spike of pure adrenaline to rake along her already distraught nerves.

Shit. What is he doing? He looks…Damn. He is livid.

“Go on, Rey.”

She needs to get home and she needs to get home NOW.

Rey scurries out the door and down the hall, headed to the main exit when she hears a gruff shout, “Niima!” and glances over her shoulder to see Ben Solo fling himself from the courtroom, moving so fast he skids a bit on the slick marble tiles…

She turns and hustles outside, heading for her car, refusing to even look in Solo’s direction.

Because if he comes near her, she is either going to jump on him or murder him…

He’s damn lucky she wore a dress today and not her uniform.

If she had her sidearm on her…

 

The snowstorm of the century predicted to hit this evening seems to have made an early appearance. Several inches of fluffy white powder already stick to Rey’s car and the sidewalks and roads. More falls from the sky in heavy flurries.

She needs to make it home before the roads get much worse.

Shit. I hope Finn can get there…

For whatever reason…her entire body is crawling with anticipation, slick already starting to trickle down her legs as she pulls out her phone to call Finn.

He doesn’t answer, but she assumes he’s driving. No need to panic.

Finn lives an hour and a half away, but he is almost always there, a good friend who can help her through her heats a few times a year. They’ve been “heat buddies” for ages, ever since they dated in junior college. And Finn’s never been in a serious relationship, nor has Rey, so they agree to continue their arrangement. They get along well, but just never developed serious romantic feelings toward each other, despite their compatibility.

Finn has never once even gone near her mating gland, never even asked to. They just have a good, compatible understanding, and plenty of respect and friendship.

Not like…

Solo prowls down the steps of the courthouse looking half-wild, for all the crisp suit and polished shoes. He’s not wearing an overcoat. He must have left it behind in his hurry...

His dark head turns methodically to scan the parking lot…as if he’s hunting for something. Or someone.

His predatory gaze lands on her with the aggression of a wolf sighting in on a potential meal. Even though he’s twenty yards away, Rey hits the automatic locks on her doors and starts the engine, fully prepared to flee.

He stares at her for a full minute before heading back into the courthouse.

While Rey waits for her car to warm up, her phone buzzes from an incoming text.

Finn: Snowstorm hit early, traffic is a nightmare. Half the interstate is shut down.

Dammit. Damn fuck shit.

Finn: Rey. I don’t know when I can get there…what do you want me to do?

He’s offering to try to come to her, but Rey has seen enough weather-related accidents to know the roads are always most dangerous when it first starts snowing. Before the plows come out and while everyone is still overly-confident their superior driving skills will magically exempt them from the laws of ice and physics.

She starts driving and replies via voice-text.

Rey: Stay home, Finn. You shouldn’t be driving in this. Don’t want you stranded on the freeway.

Finn: What about you though?

Rey: I’ll figure it out. I’ll be okay.

Finn: Rey. I don’t know…not sure that’s a good idea…

Rey’s stomach cramps lightly, but insistently. Finn had to miss her heat a couple of times when he was finishing his residency and she nearly went insane from it.

But she didn’t. She got through.

Rey: I’ll be okay. I have some stuff to help, and the fridge is already stocked, so I can wait out the storm…just stay home and be safe. xo

Snow falls in whirls now, and visibility is getting worse.

Get home, tough it out. You’ve done this before…

Slick drenches her underwear as she thinks for some reason not of Finn…but of Ben Solo…

Ugh.

Dread spills into her chest as she realizes how badly the next week is going to suck

Another less-gentle cramp seizes her and she groans aloud, maneuvering into traffic.

 

By the time she pulls into her driveway, her hands tremble while the rest of her body begins to make serious demands…

A thick layer of snow coats the walkway and her legs shake as she makes her way cautiously to her front porch, knowing if she slips and falls any injuries she might accumulate will only add to the misery of being in heat and alone.

She fumbles for her keys and is unlocking the door when she vaguely notices a car screeching around the curve of the street before wildly skidding into the garage next door.

She hears a smash and a bellowed, “Goddamn, motherfuck!” and another loud crash from her neighbor's garage.

Ah. Ben’s home, too.

The thought of his darkly masculine scent from the courtroom this morning sends a wave of almost painful desire clawing through her belly.

She’s watching his garage door. It isn’t closing…

Shit. Is he hurt?

Please don’t make me have to check on him…

But he seems uninjured when he stalks outside and stands in his driveway, hands on his hips, staring at her.

For the briefest moment in time nothing but ancient instinct lingers between them.

And then –

He steps forward.

She hastily unlocks her front door and hustles inside, hands shaking, heart pounding, stomach in knots…

Was he? Is he going to? She snaps the deadbolt into place, not feeling relieved at all.

Slick is running down her thighs and suddenly her clothes are itching her skin, and everything is burning hot…

She shrugs out of her jacket, not caring that it’s inside-out when she hangs it on the hook by her door.

Shit. Shit shit shit. I need…

She’s so busy ripping off her shoes and trying to unzip her dress she almost doesn’t hear the soft, deliberate tapping at her front door.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

But she does hear it. And given the size of the shadow on the other side of the frosted glass…she knows exactly who it is.

“Niima?” His voice carries softly through the door and his gravelly undertone suggests nothing less than rampant sexual desire. “You okay, neighbor girl?”

He’s leaning against the door by the look of it…Rey suddenly feels like she’s in a horror flick where she’s about to let the vampire into her house, and she knows she shouldn’t, but she can’t resist the impulse.

She stumbles to the door, leaning against it, knowing he’s just there, on the other side.

“Wha-what do you want, Alpha?” she murmurs, not even realizing or caring she’s never referred to him by his designation until now.

A pause.

“I know your guy can’t get here – not in this snow…”

He’s practically growling against the door…

What, he’s been monitoring my visitors? He’s been…keeping track?

Her heart thuds in her chest.

Her doorknob rattles, sending a fresh wave of fear pounding through her. It has to be fear she’s feeling…isn’t it? Because he’s big and scary and furious at her?

Definitely not because she wants him...

“He can’t. Can he?” Ben asks again.

“What do you care about it?”

“You…have a problem.” He taps on the glass and tingles shoot down her spine.

“My…problem…not yours…go away!” she moans, pushing the heel of her hand between her legs to relieve the pressure…

Your problem became my problem this morning, Omega.”

Shit, shit. I should have stayed home.

“Omega,” he growls. “Let. Me. In.”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

And, oh, fuck, she wants to let him inside, but she hates him and dammit, he was suing her, and he’s such an asshole, and…

Then, almost too quiet to hear, “…let me in…I'll take care of you…”

He wants in…he wants to…

The shadow of his massive hand presses against the glass and the sight of it sends her over the edge of reason.

She flips the deadbolt, then steps back a few paces.

The handle turns slowly, almost too slowly, before the door creaks open an inch. Then two. Then his hand pushes and the door swings wide open on a blast of chilly, snowy air, to reveal a large, feral-looking Alpha lurking just on the other side of her threshold.

The crisp air from outside hits her nose, carrying with it the strong scent of a very aroused Ben Solo. This is the scent that caught her attention on the day they first met.

But she wasn’t in heat then.

And he doesn’t smell like another woman now.

He smells like…he smells like he wants to fuck her into another dimension…and he looks like he’s quite capable of doing it…

He steps inside and closes the door, flipping the deadbolt with an almost terrible, precise finality. The sound sends a clenching ache into her womb, radiating hotly outward to the tips of her fingers and toes. She feels like she’s been struck by a bolt of electricity.

He steps forward with deliberate caution. His inky-dark hair falls over his brow, disheveled, wild, and damp from the falling snow, curling around his beautifully sculpted head.

“Ackbar ordered us to work it out,” he breathes. “This count?”

Um. Probably.

He’s standing in front of her and she cannot tear her eyes from the way his suit jacket strains across the broad expanse of his chest.

Rey once again has the impression of wolfishness about him as he runs his eyes over her trembling form, lightly sniffing at her like she's...dinner.

“You have that look in your eyes. From the courthouse. When you called me a monster?”

“You are a monster,” she insists, dropping her gaze unwillingly to the crotch of his trousers, then back to his now-diabolically arrogant sneer that plainly tells her he agrees and is completely unperturbed by her unflattering assessment of his character.

“Why on earth were you in court today, Omega?” he murmurs, shrugging out of his jacket with such sinister purpose, Rey’s knees go weak.

“You…shouldn’t be here.”

“You let me in fair and square. Answer my question.” He’s unbuttoning his vest with practiced ease, his large fingers nimble on the buttons. He pulls it off and casually drops it to the floor as if it is a rag, not an expensive, hand-tailored item of clothing that costs more than Rey earns in a single paycheck…

Still. She doesn’t answer him. She’s not letting this guy cross-examine her, no matter how sexy he is.

“What were you thinking to accomplish, sweetheart, showing up today in your…condition?” he croons, narrowed eyes raking her greedily. “You must have known you were going to start something…"

"Start something?"

He nods hypnotically. "...and now, I’m going to finish it.”

He loosens his tie and pulls it from around his neck as casually as if he’s home alone, not stripping in the middle of her living room.

Never has she been rendered so helpless in the presence of an Alpha before.

Heat floods her cheeks. “Wha? What are you doing?”

“Working it out. Right now. Today.” His voice snaps with authority, then softens into an enticing caress, “Plus, it’s snowing for days out there. And I have no intention of spending the next week alone, not when there’s a perfectly good excuse to get to know my neighbor girl a little better…”

My neighbor girl. Ohhhh, my panties can’t take much more of this…

His eyes smolder into hers and she has no doubt in her mind he is totally capable of rendering her senseless for the rest of the day…or week…in the process of getting to know her...

“Where’s your bedroom?” he asks gently.

The primitive part of her captive to her biology, the Omega part, wants to let him do whatever he wants, take whatever he wants, knowing instinctively anyone who looks and smells like he does will do a very thorough job of helping her through her heat.

“You can’t just – I hate you…” she argues weakly. The logical cop who has lived next door to this asshole for a year is still trying to stay mad at him, apparently.

Her cheeks are rosy, and she isn’t sure if it’s from embarrassment at her stark rudeness or because...

Because this big, strong, broad-shouldered, delicious-smelling Alpha wants to know where her bedroom is so he can take care of her…

And he would take such good care of her…mmm, he smells so, so good...

Shit. She is in fucking heat…Right now.

Rey pauses, wondering if she can convince herself this is the neighborly thing for them to do. Help each other. Plus, it’s pretty much her fault he’s as worked up as he is…

“…you’d help me?” She can barely speak.

“Tell me you haven’t thought about it.”

She has thought about it. Especially the last few times he was outside without a shirt on…

And this morning, in court.

A cramp spears through her, making her wince and double over. “But…you hate me,” she gasps up at him.

“I don’t fucking care.” He licks his chops at her words. “Don’t you know how…delicious you smell?”

Warmth is pouring into her, literal heat flooding through her chest and face and arms and legs… Suddenly hating his guts doesn’t seem to matter so much right now. Especially considering the fresh waves of pure lust rolling off him…

His lips part, breath catching as he senses it, too.

She’s never been in such a state. Unable to speak, unable to move…maybe something is wrong with her body…

Heat isn’t supposed to make her feel icy-cold and burning-hot and weak and terrified and eager all at once…is it?

He stands inches away and begins unbuttoning his shirt and a whimper, an actual whimper escapes her lips.

She’s half-lifted her hand to touch him before she realizes what she’s doing and freezes mid-air. But he simply snags her hand and pushes it inside the open shirt, pressing it against the soft fabric covering the warm, hard pad of muscle over his rapidly-pounding heart.

And then he smiles and his eyes turn black with lust and her knees buckle under her.

He grips her arms and holds her against him, surprisingly gentle. “You. Are a naughty little Omega, did you know that?” he murmurs. “I almost came in my pants this morning when you waltzed into court…wearing that dress…smelling so scrumptious…”

The thought of him coming in his pants is making her dizzy. Wondering what he smells like…tastes like…when it happens, when he comes... Her lungs are seizing. She is definitely going to pass out.

In spite of the rough edges of his personality and status as her most-hated enemy until about five minutes ago, he’s almost tender as he sweeps a lock of hair off her face, biting his bottom lip in apparent fascination.

The gesture makes her head spin. That, and the proximity of his pretty mouth with pillowy lips that look petal-soft…

He presses a kiss against her temple and she suddenly doesn’t have the strength to stand on her own two legs. She hurts with want of him. She aches for it…

“It’s okay,” he whispers against her hair. “It’s just us now.”

He spins her and pulls her roughly against him, pressing her back to his chest, then buries his face in the side of her neck, rucking up her dress until the hem is at her hips.

“Tell me what you want, sweetheart,” he growls against her heated skin. 

She can only moan and clutch at his hands while he sucks and licks everywhere but the scent gland at the side of her neck.

An aching pull stretches through her like elastic, driving her mad with need, with desperation. In a voice not her own she begs, “Please…my neck…right…on the…”

He understands instantly and delicately flicks his tongue over her gland, until slick soaks her thighs and she quivers, open-mouthed, shrieking and panting against him.

“Mmmmm…sweet…” he breathes, sending fresh shocks of pleasure through her.

His tongue is perfect and wet and hot, and the slippery pressure of him lapping at her, tasting her, sends devastating ripples of bliss spiking into her.

She clutches his wrist as he slides a palm from her now-exposed hip into the crease between her legs, under the drenched fabric of her panties. He squeezes her slick-coated mound and spears a finger into her swollen flesh without hesitation.

“You’re…so fucking hot,” he grunts, pushing his finger inside as far as he can, curling it up into her wet heat, forcing her to ride his palm while she’s arched against him. But she’s already lost in the sensation of his hand moving against her, the friction against her clit and gentle scrape of a blunt fingernail against that spot inside…

A half-smile curves her lips and she exhales into orgasm, nearly floating, as sweet, fluttering pulses relieve some of the pressure that’s been building all morning.

“Like I said. Zero to sixty in less than ten seconds…” he chuckles conceitedly.

“That didn’t count,” Rey pants then shudders when he kisses her ear.

His words are nearly indiscernible, breath hot and steamy, as he murmurs, “Well, then let me try again…for realsies, this time…”

And, immediately, he’s doing it again, only more. He’s not stopping with his fingers and now he swipes his tongue, not over the scent gland at the side of her neck but dangerously close to the much more sensitive spot at the back of her neck.

He groans against her, licking her mating gland and just the lightest scrape of his teeth forces a choking scream of near-hysterical delight pulsing through her…and her entire body curls in on itself as a second, more powerful orgasm hits her like an earthquake.

She drenches his hand and wails and shivers against him for a small eternity. Her body is racked with such intense pleasure he has to hold her up, all the while cooing how good and pretty and perfect she is for coming all over his fingers...

Fuck. Okay.

She’ll give him that one. For realsies.

But as amazing as all of it was…it is just enough to take the edge off.

She grips his shirt and drags him to the stairs. Bedroom. Now.

He follows eagerly enough, skimming his hands over her body as they stumble across the room.

She’s on the first stair when he grips her waist, stopping her in place.

She feels her dress slide up over her hips and a rough shove forces her into a kneel several steps up. He pulls her hips and pushes on her lower back until her butt is thrust out, exposing everything, everything, to his scrutinizing gaze.

And then she feels the hot swipe of his tongue between her legs.

“Fuck!” she yells as he licks at her sopping-wet pussy like a hungry animal.

Mmmh. You like that?” he grunts, lapping at her as if he can’t get enough.

She wiggles her rear against his face and pants, close, so close to –

“Answer me, Omega.”

“Yes, yes yes I like that, just like that yes,” she babbles, huddled on the stairs while he eats her pussy like a fucking cupcake.

He moves away, and she moans in frustration.

He bites into the firm flesh of her hip and shoves two thick fingers between her legs, fucking her with them and whispering filthy things against her skin.

The penetration sends her into new heights of bliss, which she can only express with incoherent sobs of encouragement.

She’s on the verge again when he pulls away. She screams in outrage, whirling around to glare at him wrathfully. He gives her the tiniest smile, and she isn’t sure she can move it’s so fucking hot…

“Don’t come yet,” he orders roughly, slapping her ass, hard.

At the authoritative look in his eyes, she pauses.

“Next time you come is on my knot.” He sounds…so ruthless about it.

His face darkens to scary-sexy, sending deep flutters into her belly. “Now. Crawl up those stairs. Nice and slow.”

She crawls the rest of the way, his body heat and heavy breathing her only anchor to reality, although it’s difficult not to stop and beg him to knot her on the stairs.

He’s crawling behind her, nipping at her thighs and butt and sweeping his hand possessively over her skin until she’s sobbing with frustration.

Finally, finally, they reach the top of the stairs, he lifts her by the waist and drags her upright.

“This way?” he rumbles against her. “Your room?”

“Yes…” she moans.

He toes the door open and gives her a gentle push inside before he rasps, “Dress. Off.”

But she’s already unzipping, staring in awe as he peels off his button-down shirt, then sweeps his t-shirt over his head, kicking off his shoes…

The sight of his naked pecs makes her mouth go dry and every neuron in her brain seizes.

Holy shit.

She just…needs a minute…

Instead of tossing his clothing aside, he hands it to her, a question in his eyes…and she melts just a little, as she realizes what he wants her to do.

She turns to her bed, which looks ridiculously tiny all of a sudden, and she worries perhaps he won’t like it, her bed, the way she’s arranged the pillows to form a little nest, cozy and comfy…and…he’s much bigger than Finn, so she takes a few seconds to rearrange a pillow here and a cushion there…

She spreads his dress shirt over the pillow where their heads will rest, then shakes out his undershirt and spreads that over top…

So, I can smell his scent, be surrounded by it, when he –

“Is, um?” she asks, hesitantly.

He nods in approval and whispers, “Good. It’s good.”

Her heart flutters in relief and she unzips her dress.

Before she can strip it off, he’s there, helping her, lifting it over her head and smoothing his hands over her naked skin, dragging his nails so gently over her back and thighs and ribs…

“I. Need…” Her words come out in a stuttered groan.

He pushes her face down into her lovely nest of pillows. She senses him fumbling with his belt and then he’s hovering over her, naked, one knee pressed between her parted legs.

She’s burning alive, doesn’t he understand?

“Say it,” he commands hoarsely.

“Please,” she whispers urgently, near out of her mind with the need for him to fill her.

She is instantly rewarded with the slow, hard glide of him between her legs.

She screams into the bedding as he pushes into her with a feral gasp…

“…tight…fuck…” he groans as he settles himself fully inside her.

Bone-melting pleasure clenches through her with every thick glide and thrust of him filling her, as his hot skin brushes roughly against hers. He takes charge and moves her body how he wishes, shifting her to a better angle, reaching around her to pluck at her swollen nipples. Then he proceeds to fuck her into a sweaty, ragged, convulsing mess, yanking her hair hard enough to pull her head back and pounding her pussy like he’s been offering to for the past year…

She’s going to beg him to bite her if he keeps going like this, she realizes in some murky corner of her brain.

He shoves her forward, lying on top of her, groping beneath her to push the heel of his hand low and hard against her belly, and the pressure forces a blistering-hot orgasm to sweep through her.

He rolls his hips into hers with all the force of a tidal wave.

“Tell me,” he demands in a husky growl.

Knot me, Alpha…”

She becomes acutely, exquisitely aware of him swelling inside her, forcing an agonizing series of spasms from her while his body jerks heavily over hers…

Come. Come on my knot…mmmmhhhhh…” he groans, his thrusts becoming shallower, hands gripping her with bruising force.

He sweeps his tongue over her mating gland and sinks his teeth into the meat of her shoulder, making her shriek and thrash under him as she obediently loses her mind and comes hard enough to knock the air out of her lungs...

As she clenches down on him with vise-like contractions that seem to have no end, he bellows noisily against her. The passionate sound vibrates through her, and she feels a wet, filthy-delicious trickling of hot cum spurting into her as he presses her face into his shirt on the pillows and makes her squeal and buck her hips, locking them together…

He is loud when he orgasms, and she can’t seem to come down from it, her body twitching and pulsing around his knot in prolonged bliss.

“Fuck. Fuck!” he groans into her neck. “Fuck…

He rolls to his side, holding her tightly against his trembling body, and she reaches back to grip his upper thigh.

Right before she dozes off, she mumbles, “Thank you…neighbor…”

He kisses her hair and whispers, “Shit. I’m happy to help. What are neighbors for?”

 

“You didn’t have to taze me, you know.”

“I know. But I really wanted to. You deserved it after what you did with those tickets…”

“I only did the tickets to get you back for not signing for those papers…and the snow shovel…that was just mean.”

“Well, you made so much noise every morning after I had a night shift!”

“Only because you couldn’t bring yourself to sign for a simple package that could have saved an innocent man from –”

“Oh, please! We both know Snoke is guilty as sin! Besides! You scared the hell out of the Tico girls, and that was totally uncalled for!”

“That was AFTER you declined the courier! And let’s not forget your little neighborhood block party right before one of the biggest trials of my career – twice in a row!”

“Well, you deserved it for being such an asshole over the property line!”

“The property line wasn’t even an issue until you moved here, so that’s on you.”

“Ugh. Well, maybe if…”

“Maybe if you’d just taken me up on my offer on the day we met, none of that other stuff would have happened.”

“Oh, puh-leaze.”

“It’s time to let old things die…just think. We can work together and bring a new order to the neighborhood…”

“It wasn’t me with the dog shit by the way…”

“Ah. It’s Sharon, isn’t it?”

“Yep.”

“Do you know she puts raisins in her potato salad?”

“Yep.”

“What kind of a bad neighbor does that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well. She had to be stopped. I thought I was doing everyone a favor with that zoning injunction… People like that can’t be allowed to just –”

“Ben?”

“Hmmm?”

“Shut up and kiss me.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Three - Out of Order

 

He does shut up and kiss her.

And as far as she knows for the next six days, that is the only direct order he actually obeys.

She can’t really complain, since he does such a very thorough job of making sure she’s, if not taken care of the way she’s accustomed to, then at least satisfied. Physically.

As long as it’s on his terms.

It rankles her a bit that, while she knows she has the power to tell him no or make him leave, or even deny him access to certain parts of her body, such as the highly sensitive gland at the back of her neck, unless she explicitly tells him something is off-limits, he assumes it is up for grabs…

He’s definitely a lawyer. Able to find loopholes in things. Able to stonewall and delay and argue back until she’s nearly insane with frustration.

For some reason, he likes having her there, on the edge of sanity. And he holds her there easily. Without any discernible effort.

It’s mildly alarming. But still a challenge. 

She tries at one point to demand he fuck her now, and learns quickly he “won’t be ordered around” by “some jumped-up traffic cop.”

If she whines or becomes petulant, he simply laughs and deflects, and proceeds to get her entirely too worked up before he gives her what she wants...

And even then, he makes her beg him for it, first. Or ask him nicely.

She’s back to hating him in no time when he does it for the millionth time…

She’s sprawled on her bed and he’s lying next to her, biting her ear and stroking the slippery-wet flesh between her legs as languorously as if he’s about to doze off, not do his damn job and fuck her.

Aren’t Alphas supposed to help? He’s only making it worse. She’s so horny it hurts

“Just…Ben…why won’t you…?” she gasps, as he slips a large finger inside her and pumps it a few times while he nibbles on her earlobe.

“Why won’t I what? Use your words, baby…” he murmurs wickedly. His hot breath against her skin is doing all kinds of things to escalate her pulse.

“Why won’t you just fuck me?” she snaps, glaring at him, even as she parts her legs further and arches against the warmth of his hand.

Maybe guilt will work… “You said…mmmm…you said you were happy to help…ohhh!”

He slips another finger inside her and his eyes darken as he watches her carefully.

Nuzzling her neck, he growls, “I did say that…and I was happy to help…now shush…”

Did he just shush me?

Her eyes fly to his in pure outrage, and before she can stop herself she bites off an impulsive “Fuck you!”

For some reason, this seems to spur him into action. It’s good, although slightly terrifying.

He withdraws his hand and climbs on top of her with a ruthless smile and a very determined look in his pretty amber eyes.

“Well, that’s what I’d been planning on, baby, until you got so insolent…and now I think I’m going to have to make you wait a bit…”

He pins her hands into the mattress and grinds his hips into hers. He's warm and heavy and his muscles flex smoothly over her belly and thighs. He smells like raw lust and sex and she's going to lose her mind.

She tries to tempt him closer, arching her hips and craning her neck, hoping to lure him with the sight of her lightly swollen scent gland… She catches her ankles around his legs, but he won’t let her move more than that.

He’s just holding her there, pinned between him and the mattress, using the totally unfair advantage of his big muscled body and tantalizing scent and –

“I hate you…” she pouts.

“You hate me?” he croons in mock surprise, levering his lower body into hers with a lewd grind that only makes slick flow wetly down her thighs. She can feel the light scrape of the trail of hair below his navel...it's making her hot, feverish, even.

"I do hate you," she insists on a wild gasp.

Aw...That’s not very nice…” Shit. She’s just giving him more excuses to drag this out – “…apparently I still need to fuck that attitude problem out of you…”

He lowers his mouth to the tip of her breast and tugs at her nipple, dark eyes glittering into hers with mischief.

“Ben!” she whines, grabbing at his hair. “…just fucking do it, already!”

He just shakes his head and hums, “Hmmhnmh…”

Infuriated tears slide down her face before she can stop them. He pulls his mouth away, making her groan in frustration, kisses her wet cheek with a loud smack…and then…

“One more word out of you, and I’m going downstairs for something to eat…and you can stay up here and finish yourself off without me…”

She glares at him and opens her mouth, but he presses his finger over her lips… “I mean it, Omega. Shush.”

She pulls his finger into her mouth and he jerks involuntarily against her, eyes half-lowered, as he watches her suck on him…

“Mmmmmmm,” she moans defiantly. He tastes so good… She wraps her tongue around his finger and draws on it until her cheeks hollow and her pussy clenches.

Undiluted lust pours off his skin and sinks into hers… He bites off a curse and rubs against her until her eyes roll back. She moans again, louder.

“I. Said. Shut the fuck. Up,” he growls, before flipping her over and kissing his way down her spine.

She feels sharp teeth scrape over the back of her hip, then the silky brush of hair trail along her lower back. She’s panting but knows better than to test his resolve by telling him off or even making too much noise.

He’s definitely enough of an asshole to leave her in the middle of fucking heat while he helps himself to a sandwich…

He senses her caution and chuckles against her skin, “Ooohhh, that did shut you up…must mean you’re about ready to start begging again…”

He licks and nips at her until she’s aching and moaning softly and silently cursing him. But she will not say a word until he gives permission.

His hot, open mouth lingers on her lower back, then slides back up to hover over her mating gland.

Oh, yes, there, yes…right there…

She is going to die if he doesn’t fuck her soon.

“Okay, baby…start begging…” he mutters right before swiping his tongue over her gland with a strangled grunt.

She can feel the hot length of his erection pressing against the back of her thigh and gives in to the inevitable.

“Please…Alphaplease!”

He chuckles triumphantly and finally – oh, yes! – traps her legs under his and angles her hips up before bracing his arms on either side of her and oh oh oh…yes

When he slides between her legs, she bucks against him, the relief of penetration sending her into the wild abyss.

For once, he’s doing exactly what she needs. He pumps into her steadily, punctuating each thrust with a hoarse grunt.

She comes hard and chaotic, not caring about the strangled sounds ripping out of her throat or the obscene wet slap of their bodies slamming together.

He doesn’t stop until her thighs are quivering and her insides feel like pulverized Jello.

Ooooh, yeah, you liked that didn’t you?” His huge hands trace her curves, skimming over her hot skin until she’s writhing under him, still begging for more.

“…yes! Oh, fuck, yes, Alpha! Please, please –” She’s nearly incoherent with the need to feel that incredible sensation of him stretching her, filling her…

“What did I offer to do to you, baby? You remember?”

“Fuck my attitude…away…free of charge…?” she groans and rubs her face against his t-shirt in the pillows. 

He redoubles his rhythm, and she is yelping like a goddamn dog as he fucks her across the mattress until her head bangs against the headboard of her bed.

“Who says I’m doing this for free?” he grunts. “Too much…fucking…work…I changed my mind…I’m…sending you…a bill…”

He grips her hair and braces one arm against the headboard before hissing into her ear, “I’m not…fucking…cheap…either…”

She loses the rest of whatever he's saying when she feels the delicious swell of his knot inside her. She’s gone by the time he’s firmly locked in place. And she falls apart around him while he groans against her neck and laps at her mating gland as if he owns it.

 

Next Week, In Court –

Rey stands before Judge Ackbar once again, only this time, thankfully, she is in his chambers, not in the middle of a courtroom full of overly-curious strangers.

Unfortunately, Ben Solo, her arch-nemesis and the bane of her existence, stands next to her.

She can feel the tension rolling off of him, but she ignores it.

The snow melted, and apparently with it, their tenuous truce…

This all really started with something so small and insignificant, Rey grouses to herself. Technically, it's Solo's fault. Maybe she can just explain to Ackbar...

Ackbar is reading briefs and clearly making them wait, so Rey allows her mind to wander...but not too far. Solo is too damned sexy in that suit, with that hair and those smoldering eyes...

For some reason the hostile emotion rolling off him reminds her of sex...hate sex. 

Heat hate sex.

For one thing, sex with someone you hate is quite liberating…

She’s never been in heat with anyone except for Finn before. So, the experience with Ben was sort of eye-opening.

Finn is an amazing partner, caring and sensitive and fun and sweet and…everything Rey ever thought she needed.

Until she spent approximately five minutes in the arms of her most-hated, asshole of a neighbor, Ben Solo.

Evil lawyer and generally horrible person, yes.

But.

Oh, he is quite the experience in bed.

Rey knows part of it is the lack of inhibition resulting from their mutual dislike of each other.

Finn never makes her wait. Finn does whatever she tells him to do.

Whereas Ben…

He made her crawl up the fucking stairs and then wouldn’t let her come for ages… It was practically torture. 

She's almost sure there must be laws against Alphas doing that...

Oh? You don’t like waiting? Too bad. We’re snowed in and you don’t have Alphas lining up outside to come in here so shut up and take what I give you – or would you rather I leave?

Oh, you want me to fuck you? Well, I’m in charge, and you have to wait.

If she argued with him or tried to take over, he simply flipped her around and pushed her face into his t-shirt, knowing his scent was enough to render her helpless. And then he’d make her squirm and cry and beg for it…

You want to come now? Then stop crying and ask me nicely…You don’t want to be nice? Neither do I, baby.

It is…bizarre, but she liked it.

No. She loved it.

And then there were the liberties he took with her body in general…like, having sex is one thing, but the way he has sex is…

Rey shakes her head, trying to clear it.

For one, Finn never goes near her mating gland. He won’t dream of it. He is far too respectful to ever broach the subject, especially after they’ve agreed to be just friends. They established a line, a nice safe line, and it never gets crossed.

But with Ben? He dances on the border of inappropriate to the point where…a few times last week she’d actually begged him to bite her. Like...with a capital B. 

A few times.

As relieved as she is now he didn’t go through with it...that last time, she’d been furious with him.

It’s like he deliberately did everything he could to drive her crazy and then laughed like the devil when she became angry.

He did it on purpose, the asshole.

She’s sure of it.

Probably still trying to get revenge from when she tasered him. Just another reason why she is better off avoiding him.

Ackbar clears his throat and Rey pulls her attention back to the present situation.

“As much as I’d like to dismiss you two altogether, your little scene in court less than two weeks ago is enough to reopen several unsettling issues I want explained. In addition to the current debacle that has been brought to my attention…”

Ackbar is older, and bald, with the kind of face that can be kind and grandfatherly but only to people he likes.

And he doesn’t like either of them at the moment.

“I still don’t have a satisfactory explanation for what came up in your preliminary hearing,” Ackbar grumbles ominously.

Rey gulps and Ben shifts uneasily next to her.

“Solo, do you have an explanation for your sudden display of extreme and targeted goodwill on Officer Niima’s traffic tickets last month?”

“Your Honor, I –”

Ackbar shakes his head, shutting him down almost immediately before turning his hawkish gaze to Rey.

“And I have yet to fully understand how you could have allowed a mere traffic infraction – one block away from your house, while you were off duty – to become a full arrest, including impounding of a vehicle and –”

“Your Honor, his driver’s license was expired!”

“A fact which you only realized after Mr. Solo had been booked in county lock-up!” Ackbar barks.

Dammit.

“I found you both in contempt already. That should have been punishment enough. But now, after this latest complaint…”

Rey’s heart shrivels. If she loses her job, she doesn’t know what she will do…

At Ackbar's ominous words, Solo's scent becomes tinted with distinct fury…and Rey is glad Ackbar is a Beta, or he’d probably slap another contempt charge on the Alpha next to her just for the hostile scent radiating from that sexy three-piece suit…

“You are both damned lucky Mrs. Holdo agreed not to press charges. However. I am using this as a teachable moment. You will each serve one-hundred hours of community service.”

Ackbar glares at them, and Rey knows there is no getting out of it.

Together. Starting tomorrow.”

Shit.

“Your Honor, I have cases,” Ben starts. Ackbar shoots him a forbidding glare.

“Change your schedule, counselor. You will serve together. Niima, I’ve already spoken to your supervisor.”

Rey nods meekly, glad for the small emergency fund she’s scraped up. She is positive she will be working without pay for the next couple of weeks until this latest incident is over and done with…

“It sounds as if you have something specific in mind, Your Honor?” Ben prompts shortly, hovering on the very periphery of disrespect without actually crossing over into insolence.

Ackbar blinks unhurriedly at him, completely unintimidated by Solo’s best cross-examiner stare.

“I do, in fact, have something in mind.”

Rey’s heart starts thumping at the sharp gleam in the man’s eyes. She would almost, almost rather be in heat and alone than do whatever it is Ackbar has planned.

The speculative air about him tells her whatever he's cooked up can’t be good…

“You two will serve your one-hundred hours at the Children’s Home in the Sacred Heart. You will do whatever the Matron, Ms. Kanata, requires in the way of cooking, cleaning, and otherwise helping with the children there. Perhaps in learning there are others with bigger problems than your own petty squabbling, you will learn to get along with your neighbor...”

Rey smiles. That doesn’t sound so bad. She likes children.

She glances surreptitiously over to Solo who is apparently frozen in shock at the news…

No. Not shock. Downright horror. He’s panicking. Excellent.

Okay. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

Her smile widens into a sneer at the naked dismay on Ben Solo’s face.

Anything he is going to hate will be excellent for her…

Until.

“…and to ensure you learn how to work together…you will be handcuffed to each other. For one hundred hours.”

“What?” Rey shrieks, aghast. “Your Honor?!

It’s Solo’s turn to smirk at her.

He suddenly looks like the cat that ate the canary. Or at least the cat that had the canary pretty well trapped…for a hundred hours.

 

He waits until they’ve exited Ackbar’s chambers and are out of earshot before he hisses, “I wonder if he knew how well we got along last week, he’d change his mind?”

Rey’s cheeks flame pink and she draws in a breath. But she doesn’t speak, because she is sure any reminder of just how close they’d been for most of the prior week will send her to the locker room to change her panties…

He leans in close, just a hint too close for appropriate collegial conversation, and whispers, “I wonder if I should go back in there and tell him just how friendly we were…when you were begging me to bite you…right before I knotted that pretty little pussy?”

Rey feels the color drain from her face and she glares at the arrogant half-smile playing around his full, red lips and the nefarious sparkle in his eyes.

He would do it, too. He’s just that much of an asshole.

“How dare you! I was in heat...and it...it was a fluke and an emergency, and I can’t be held responsible for –”

“It’s okay, sweetheart…you can use whatever excuse you want…but we both know you’ve never come that hard and that long and that many times in your life…”

His arrogant grin becomes a full-blown conceited leer and she feels what must be pure loathing squirm through her belly. It cannot be desire.

Absolutely not.

Just because he’s right and…fuck he smells so good…

No matter how mouthwateringly-delicious he smells right now.

She does a half-assed job of fighting a shiver.

It’s cold in here.

That’s all.

“Wanna carpool to community service with me?” His question makes her nipples hard, dammit.

Wait. No. It’s from the cold.

Why is he so happy right now? He was fuming just minutes ago. She doesn’t have time for his temperamental, mercurial bullshit.

“No!” Rey snarls rudely. “Leave me alone.”

“No can do, sweetheart…we’re stuck together for the next two weeks…”

Before she can stop him, he snatches up her hand and plants a wet kiss onto the back, searing the touch of his lips into her skin and leaving a trace of his scent there…a tiny reminder of just how hot and bothered he makes her…

She pulls away fiercely and flips him a rude gesture, making him bark with laughter.

“Any time you want, baby…all you have to do is ask me nicely.”

He winks and nonchalantly turns his back, strolling away while she glowers impotently at his broad shoulders retreating down the hallway…

Chapter Text

Chapter Four – Sweet Tooth

 

Solo strolls away and Rey stands for a minute as the hustle and bustle of the busy courthouse carries on around her.

The bailiff pops her head out of the empty courtroom Rey just exited. “Officer Niima? Judge Ackbar wonders if he could have a quick word with you?”

Rey turns and follows her back through the courtroom, into the judge’s chambers just beyond.

What now?

Ackbar regards her for a moment, waiting until the bailiff quietly closes the door.

“I wanted a private word.”

Rey’s stomach drops.

“Yes, Your Honor?” she asks tentatively.

Ackbar scowls. “You and I both know the only reason you aren’t facing a felony assault charge is that Solo refuses to confirm you intended to shoot him… And Holdo is remaining strangely close-lipped about the entire affair, only stating a gun was fired and nobody was injured. You know she’s friends with Solo’s mother?”

“I didn’t know, sir,” Rey admits carefully. She wonders why that last tidbit is relevant but keeps her mouth shut.

“Well. I have a strong suspicion the three of you minimized what happened, given how much trouble you were in already. In fact, I have a strong suspicion perhaps more occurred than any of you have admitted.”

"Why is that, sir?" 

"Because, miss. I've never seen Ben Solo so fidgety in my presence," Ackbar snaps. 

Ackbar wouldn’t have missed Solo’s shifting stance... He probably put together two and two and noticed how the attorney who has literally spent hundreds of hours in his courtroom – under serious pressure – should have been able to stand still under some mild interrogation in chambers…

“Did you do it? Shoot him?”

Rey’s heart flutters in panic and she lies, “No, sir! There was a –”

“Young lady. If you tell me there was a rabid cat or some such nonsense, I will have your badge here and now.”

The truth is, Solo had been shifting from foot to foot because she actually had shot him. Well. Just winged him, really. Right in that perfect ass of his.

Sure, her shotgun had only been loaded with rock salt…but, it would have left him smarting for days…

Still. Solo's fidgeting couldn't have been that obvious. 

How does Ackbar know we lied?

As if to answer her unspoken question, Ackbar blinks back at her placidly. “I’ve been a judge for over forty years, young lady. I know more about human nature than you can possibly imagine.”

Ackbar glowers at her from under his bushy eyebrows. “In the interest of keeping you both from committing perjury – oh, I know he lied in court and you tased him before you handcuffed him – allow me to provide you a warning: You have exhausted your very last good grace with me, miss. You have spent it and now you are done.”

Rey swallows uncomfortably and nods.

“I expect you to perform your community service with diligence and humility, and I sincerely hope you can behave in a manner befitting a newly promoted Detective.”

Rey’s heart starts thumping.

“Detective, Your Honor?” She’d applied for the promotion weeks ago, but then, with everything that happened, she let her hopes go, just thankful to have a job after…

But now…Detective?

“Your supervisor informed me this morning and appealed on your behalf. And since nobody is officially pressing charges after what happened last week…” Ackbar grumbles, trailing off for a moment before snapping his stern gaze back to her. “However. I don’t want to see one hair on your head out of line. Do you understand me, miss?”

“Yes, Your Honor.” Rey ignores the mixed metaphor and feels hot shame burn its way across her cheeks. She really should have known better. It’s just that Solo gets her so riled up. He’s just so infuriating, such an asshole.

Ackbar nods, taking in her meek embarrassment with resigned satisfaction. “Go on, then, Detective. Not one hair, you hear?”

She moves to leave but turns at the last minute. “Your Honor?”

“Humm?”

“Um. Sir? How do you know I didn’t cuff him before I tasered him?” Rey asks curiously.

He puffs an exasperated breath and rolls his eyes as if the answer is obvious. “Are you kidding me, girl? No way that boy would have let you get cuffs on him if he had full use of his arms and legs.”

 

Next morning –

She’s just throwing on her jacket when she hears two short beeps of a horn outside. Upon popping her head out the door, she sees Ben Solo’s fancy black sports car parked in her driveway.

She ducks back inside to grab her purse and house keys, then marches up to his passenger window, which he’s rolling down at her approach. She is fully prepared to tell him to move – he’s blocking her car – when he grins at her with a truly disgusting amount of charm for this early in the day.

Ugh. He must be a morning person. For some reason, this just makes him even more of an asshole in her opinion.

“Sure you don’t want to carpool? It’s already toasty in here, and I’m stopping for coffee on the way…” At the magic words “toasty” and “coffee” and maybe just a teensy bit because of his toe-curling appeal, she caves.

She slides into the passenger seat with ill grace and braces herself against his intoxicating scent, somehow even more alluring alongside the soft leather and the warm confines of his luxurious car. She fights the urge to bury her face against the supple texture of the seat…or his jacket…

How anyone can look so devastatingly handsome at this time of day is beyond her.

She huffs a grumpy “morning” to him and proceeds to frown at the dashboard in an attempt to ignore the devilish sparkle in his eyes as he possessively slides his gaze over her.

Then she whips her head back around, noticing.

“You’re wearing a suit?”

He looks at her, momentarily surprised before allowing his mask of arrogance to drop back over his face. “I always wear a suit.”

Not always. She’s seen him in sweatpants and jeans and nothing at all, too…

At the questioning lift of her brow, he amends, “I always wear a suit to work.”

“You know we are going to probably be doing manual labor, right?” Sarcasm creeps into her voice. “Have you ever done manual labor in your life?”

He snorts, turning the steering wheel smoothly as he guides his car into traffic. “You know I have. I’ve had to do all my own yard work for a while, now. Ever since someone convinced Billy Jones to stop mowing for me…”

He knows about that, huh? Damn.

He glares at her from the side of his eye, and she squirms uncomfortably. She is reminded of how many times she’s peered through her window blinds to watch his shirtless, sweaty –

Ugh, why is it so hot in here?

She looks in aggravation at the thermostat, wondering how to turn down the flow of warm air on her side of the car. She is absolutely not dwelling upon her very intimate knowledge of the way his perfectly sculpted chest looks and feels against her skin when it is faintly damp from…physical exertion.

“…although that little plan royally backfired for you didn’t it?” he goads, perceptively gauging the direction of her thoughts.

How does he do that? Read me like a book?

She shakes her head, knowing she already admitted to him last week how his early morning yard work sessions drove her crazy. Because of the noise. That’s all.

Nevertheless, it is pointless to try to argue with him.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she grouses.

He lets it go, and her spirits lift a little, as she wonders if he also knows she’s been bribing the Tico girls to not sell him Girl Scout cookies anymore.

Because once little Rose revealed he was their best customer, Rey made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

She looks away slightly guilty, and they maintain an uneasy silence, alone together for the first time since…the Incident.

She isn’t ready to talk about the Holdo Incident, yet. And apparently, neither is he.

Which is fine.

He pulls up to a coffee stand and rolls down his window.

The young woman taking their order greets Ben with a beaming smile and a very interested stare at Rey.

“What’s your poison, baby? My treat,” he asks, pulling a twenty from the inside pocket of his jacket.

Rey just wants the caffeine and has no idea what the hell kind of complicated shit is for sale here, so she blurts out an old favorite from Academy, “Um…two shots of espresso in a large drip coffee. And cream. Please.”

He repeats her order then asks the barista, “Things getting better at school, Kaydel?”

“Yes, Mr. Solo. And I really can’t tell you how much your advice helped,” Kaydel replies enthusiastically and with apparent sincerity. "I can't thank you enough."

Ben nods and glances over to Rey, who watches their exchange with rabid interest.

Ben Solo, Major Asshole, is apparently not always a total douchebag when he’s out in the wild…

How fascinating.

Rey is dying of curiosity, but her pride refuses to allow her to ask him for details. Besides. He’s still in the penalty box after last week…

Ben keeps quiet as they wait until Kaydel passes their coffees to him. He hands Rey her order with a muttered, “Philistine.”

He has some kind of mocha thing with extra whip and two large chocolate chip cookies. He offers one to her and she shakes her head, her general dislike of him becoming temporarily overpowered by the sheer amazement that anyone can consume so much sugar at this early hour.

Gah. He definitely has a sweet tooth. As if he hadn’t confirmed it last week when –

He catches her staring at the whipped cream on his drink and his lips curl up with outrageous, all-knowing conceit. A slight flare of his nostrils confirms he’s remembering, too.

 

Last week…

They’d finally made their way out of bed for sustenance on day three. Aside from Ben’s rapid sprints to the kitchen to grab ready-made snacks and Gatorade, they’d been in bed, either sleeping or fucking or dozing and chatting quietly in the aftermath of fucking…or getting ready for more fucking…

But after nearly three days of intermittently gobbled-down pre-packaged food, Rey was waning. Ben was wearing her out with sex, in spite of his constant edging and teasing and general pigheadedness in making sure she asked him nicely…or maybe because of it.

“You think you can make it down the stairs, baby? Get some real food?” Ben teased, albeit gently…

He was so much easier to deal with in the immediate aftermath of sex.

“God, I’m starving. Can…uh…can you cook?” Rey queried nervously. She wasn’t much of a chef and had grocery-shopped with the plan that Finn would be there to handle the basic culinary chores, as per their usual arrangement.

She was usually in charge of laundry and sheets when things got to the point of being downright revolting.

“Of course I can cook.” Ben’s eyes lit up, and he playfully swatted her butt. “Come on. Let’s go raid the fridge.”

Her legs shook when she hopped out of bed, and she had to brace herself against the dresser while his eyes crawled over her evaluatively.

“What’s wrong, baby? Did I dick you down too hard?”

God, what an arrogant pig.

He stood behind her and swept his hands along her sides before running them up and around to cup her breasts, brushing his thumbs gently over her nipples.

Shit. He was making her forget she was hungry.

She felt his warm breath on the side of her neck and he inhaled with a long, “Mhhhmmmm…you smell so sweet…” until her knees buckled.

He caught her and gave her another light swat on her backside.

“Hop on, I’ll give you a ride,” he grinned, turning and hooking her arms around his neck and gripping her legs under his arms so she could straddle his back. He snagged a blanket off the bed and bounced her once.

He then proceeded to trot them both down the hall buck naked, jouncing her down the stairs until she shrieked and squealed like a toddler, and into the kitchen, where he deposited her onto the counter.

She watched in semi-arousal while he raided her fridge, pulling out a few random items until his eyes landed on a can of whipped cream. He lifted it and shook it with a naughty grin and a suddenly mischievous air. She didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but Finn liked it on his ice cream…

Must be an Alpha thing. Ben looked like an excited little kid as he perused the contents of the fridge.

He caught her watching and stopped his explorations. He moved to wrap the blanket around her, planting a sloppy kiss on her mouth while she ran her hand over his pecs, unable to resist touching him constantly…

He just felt so good.

He slid a curved finger between her legs without hesitation, feeling the slick there, making her slippery-wet with light, exquisitely gentle strokes… She was going to make a mess all over her countertop…

“…so unsanitary…” he mocked lightly against her eager kisses.

He scooted closer, eyes lowering to fix upon her mouth. He wrapped her arms around his shoulders encircling them both with the blanket.

“You weren’t ready to come downstairs, yet, were you?” he mumbled into her neck. "I should have waited until you fell asleep..."

She pressed her face against him and inhaled and licked him until he trembled against her, his large hands clutching at her reflexively. 

His stomach rumbled loudly, and he moaned a little.

Finally, he bit off, “Fuck! that’s it…I’m just going to have to make sure you really can’t fucking move…apparently that’s the only way to get some goddamned food around here…”

She tightened her grip on his shoulders, not giving two shits about food. She only wanted one thing, and as she’d learned with this particular Alpha he would give her what she wanted…as long as she asked nicely.

Perhaps some preemptive submission would get things moving along more quickly…“Mmmm…Ben...won’t you please…?”

She was weak and wasn’t sure she had much begging in her after riding him down the stairs and watching him paw through her fridge like a ravenous wolf.

He grinned, knowing it, too.

She speared her fingers through his thick, silky hair and stroked her thumb over the gland under his ear. He grunted and turned his face into her hand, seeking more of her touch… and for just a moment she was sure she could see –

“Please?” she whimpered, watching as his eyes darkened with lust and something else…until he lowered his gaze to her breasts, shielding his thoughts from her view.

Disappointed, as if something important had eluded her, she scraped her nails along his back, hoping to glimpse it again.

He simply hissed and bent her over his arm, taking an aching nipple into his mouth with a gentle suck, flicking his tongue over the tip until she writhed in agony.

"Please...Alpha..."

He wrapped his very talented lips around her other nipple and pulled it into his mouth with deliberate…mocking or taunting or something until Rey grew wildly frustrated.

“Ben. Please,” she moaned with a throaty rasp. “I can’t wait like this every time…”

“Oh? You don’t like waiting? Too bad,” he growled, swiping his tongue along her sternum before moving back to her other breast.

“…please…please…I need…Alpha, please!” she sobbed against his hair.

“Oh, you want me to fuck you?” he whispered sardonically. “I’m in charge, and you have to wait.”

He pushed a blunt finger between her legs with a greedy hmmm and curled it up, flicking his thumb teasingly over her swollen clit. She pounded a fist against the thick pad of muscle on his shoulder.

“You…bastard!” she hissed, glaring at him with unmitigated rage. This was beyond bad manners.

Why is he tormenting me like this?

She haughtily reminded him, “Any other Alpha would do what I want…”

At the mention of another Alpha, however, his eyes flashed dangerously, and her belly swooped with a combination of fear and desire that stole her breath away.

He flicked his thumb over her clit again, pumping his finger into her a few more times, any earlier playfulness replaced with dark fury.

But, as menacing as he suddenly appeared, he simply muttered, “We’re snowed in, and you don’t have Alphas lining up outside to come in here…so shut up and take what I give you – or would you rather I leave?”

“No!” she gasped. “Please…don’t…oh!”

He continued to tease her with infuriatingly gentle strokes of his fingers, kissing the side of her neck and breathing hotly into her ear little phrases that made her incensed with need.

…have you ever been so wet before?

…ever needed to be fucked so badly?

…ever wanted something as much as you want my cock right now?

She groaned in frustration until he finally wedged her thighs apart, brushing the dripping head of his thick erection against her soaking cunt.

He pulled her onto him with a hoarse, “Wrap your legs around me, baby,” and a quaking thrust that hit her deep. He gripped her by the waist, stepping away from the counter as he tangled his tongue with hers and let her ride him until she melted over him with a strangled groan of pleasure-pain.

This position did not allow for a gentle assault – gravity and the angle of his cock forced him to bottom out with every thrust, hard and deep, until she could only choke and sob with every grind of his hips.

"Mmm, you're...so...deep..." she moaned.

He braced his steely arms around her and vowed, "You'll take every fucking inch of me, Omega."

"...yes...fuck, yes...oh, fuck, yes..."

He arched her back and pressed hot kisses against her chest each time she rolled her hips over him until her thighs quivered and his muscles strained with the effort of holding her…

She was close, so close...

"Don't even think about coming, yet," he snarled at her, even as he pumped into her faster. 

This was going to drive her insane. Her whole body was flushed with heat, weakened with the singular need for him to bring her to orgasm.

She begged tearfully. “Please…please let me come…”

“You want to come now? Then stop crying and ask me nicely…” he commanded, maintaining a vicious control over the depth and angle of his strokes, eyes raking her face hungrily.

“…don’t want to be nice, you fucking…asshole!” she cried, clutching his hot skin hard enough to leave marks with her fingernails.

“You don’t want to be nice? Neither do I, baby.” 

His inky-dark hair dampened with sweat and his cheeks flushed, and he scowled at her, fully intent on punishing her for calling him an asshole.

She never hated someone so much as she did at that moment.

His lips parted, his eyes burned into hers, and he breathed ferociously, “Say it…”

“…Ben…please…”

He whirled them around and slammed her against the wall next to her fridge, pinning her arms to either side of her head and repeatedly shoved himself into her with animal savagery.

Yes. Yes, this was what she needed. Skin to skin, belly to belly, his hot mouth on her body, his furious passion crashing against her until she fell apart.

“Don’t stop…oh, fuck, don’t stop, I need…”

He slid his teeth over the gland at the side of her neck, then pressed his forehead against hers so he could glare into her eyes, rubbing his sweaty muscles into her chest, and the wet friction against her nipples was going to send her over the edge.

She glared back, prepared to claw his pretty eyes out if he didn’t let her come soon. He saw her vehemence and bared his teeth at her.

"You wanna come?" he snarled.

"...yes!" 

He changed the rhythm to short, pounding strokes, hitting that spot deep inside, doing his best to fuck into her until the head of his cock dug in with relentless, mind-shaking pressure.

She curved her body into his, arching to expose the back of her neck to him. She gripped her legs around his waist with all her remaining strength as that hot, pulsing pleasure began to liquefy inside her.

“…please…bite me, Alpha…please…” she begged raggedly, lost in the swirling-black maelstrom of desire as it wracked through her body on delicious waves.

He fucked her harder and roared against her shoulder until she pulsed and clenched around him, drenching them both and she screamed again for him to fucking bite her…

"Dammit, fuck!" he bellowed.

He pulled out before he could knot her, and she felt the hot splash of cum against her belly as he choked and groaned his release against her neck.

Time slowed and bumped to a standstill in the aftermath of their mingled breaths, shivering pleasure still wracking her with jagged spasms of agonized bliss, although now tinged with a faint layer of guilt.

He watched her with an unfathomable gaze, a slight accusation there, but a tender vulnerability, too…

She returned his regard somewhat shamefacedly, knowing full well inviting him to bite her in the heat of the moment like that, particularly given their current tenuous relationship, had been beyond rude.

Under the circumstances, he had every right to leave and never speak to her again, although a tiny part of her insisted it was no more than he deserved for getting her so worked up in the first place…

"Rey..." he panted. 

“I’m sorry,” she gasped, still breathing hard.

He just shook his head, breathing heavily against her, pressing a tremulous kiss into her hair, until her legs slid from around his waist and the only thing holding her upright was his slightly shuddering body pinning her to the wall.

She couldn’t walk. There was no way she could move her legs.

"Can't walk."

She looked at him helplessly and he smirked at her, all cocky, shit-eating bastard back in full force.

“Can't you, sweetheart? Maybe now I can get something to eat, hmmm?” Smugness rolled off him in waves and she giggled, in spite of herself.

He held her and shuffled them around in a half-circle before lifting her into his arms, holding her like a baby.

She couldn’t help but trace her fingertips over his gorgeously carved pecs.

Then he simply splayed her on top of her kitchen island and grabbed the whipped cream and gave her the wickedest smile she’d ever seen.

 


 

Rey sips her coffee and avoids his wolfish gaze.

“Drink up, baby,” he instructs around a mouthful of chocolate chip cookie. “I’m sure Maz has all kinds of interesting punishments in store…”

“Maz? The Matron, you mean? Ms. Kanata?” Rey has seen her at a few community events, but it sounds as if Ben actually knows her.

“Yeah. She’s a friend of my parents. Probably why Ackbar was able to get her to go along with providing so much community service…”

“Well, I’ve been thinking, and I don’t think the whole handcuff thing is legal…” Rey trails off as Ben shakes his head.

“I think we should do whatever we’re told. You know for a fact we are both damned lucky to be getting off as easy as we are,” Ben replies. He parks the car and turns to her, draping an arm over the steering wheel and the other around her headrest, invading her space with his dominating size and smoldering eyes and body heat.

His button-down shirt stretches enticingly against the hard planes of his chest and his scent rolls into her like a furnace blast.

Rey fights a moment of overwhelming desire. She knows exactly what’s under that suit and, although she isn’t in heat anymore, she feels a familiar warmth crawling under her skin.

“You wanna talk about it?” he asks softly.

“No,” she retorts stubborn to the end.

Disappointment or something close to it flickers through his prodding gaze before he turns with a huff.

“You have to agree we’re getting off easy, though,” Ben argues. “I mean…you did shoot me…and Holdo could have easily had me arrested for indecent exposure, trespassing…”

“I barely got you!” Rey replies hotly. “I was using non-lethal rounds and you were practically out of range -”

“I didn’t know it at the time, though, did I?” Ben is getting riled up, now, too. “I thought you were trying to kill me.”

“Maybe I should have,” Rey grumbles.

Ben shifts awkwardly in his seat and scowls at her. “Well, you still got me.”

“Pfft. Rock salt.”

He shakes his head. “Whatever, Officer. Let’s get this over with…”

Detective, she thinks. I’m a Detective, now, Solo.

Knowing she needs to be on her very best behavior, she follows him up the walkway of the orphan’s home, which is next to the Sacred Heart church.

She watches Ben rap confidently at the door and stand just behind her. His body heat collides gently against her in the freezing morning air and again she resists a momentary urge to lean into him, to pull in some of that amazing scent and just –

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Ben mutters under his breath as they wait at the door.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five - Crime and Punishment

 

The door swings open to reveal a very small, very pretty woman with ebony skin and a wide grin. She looks to be several years older than Solo, but her eyes hold wisdom beyond even those years.

Solo manages to appear simultaneously appealing and irritated, but his attempts to enthrall her are unmistakable.

For her part, she takes one look at his suit and bursts into laughter. 

Rey bites her lips at the tiny woman’s obvious mirth.

Rey has a feeling Ms. Kanata is impervious to Solo’s charm.

“Maz…you know I’m better with a computer than a broomstick,” he cajoles, shuffling his feet like an awkward little kid. “I was hoping we might come to a more beneficial arrangement…”

Maz laughs again, a pleasantly voluptuous bellow that belies her small stature and rings sonorously in Rey’s ears.

“Not a chance, kiddo.” She turns to Rey and whispers in mock confidentiality. “I used to change this beast’s diapers, did you know that?”

She must be older than she looks, Rey muses. A former babysitter, if Rey must guess.

Rey senses Solo’s embarrassment and glances up to watch a blush creep over his cheeks all the way to the tips of his ears. She giggles, and he glowers ominously at her, working his jaw until he grinds his teeth together. She feels an uncharacteristic urge to soothe her palm over his cheek.

Instead, she replies quietly to Maz, “I didn’t know,” and stretches out her hand to shake Maz’s. In the spirit of showing some mercy to Solo, Rey changes the subject. “It’s very nice to meet you officially. I’m Rey Niima.”

Maz answers with a lift of her eyebrows and pulls a pair of handcuffs from her back pocket. Solo looks annoyed but resigned.

“Ackbar talked to me already, so don’t try to tell me this isn’t part of your punishment, Ben,” Maz scoffs. “I can see the lies forming behind your eyes.”

Rey is slightly disappointed, as she’d been planning on feigning shock and arguing against the handcuffs or hoping they might be forgotten, somehow.

“What if I have to use the bathroom?” Ben asks gruffly.

“Figure it out,” Maz replies smoothly.

“What if I have raging diarrhea?” he tries again, obviously going for shock value. Rey snorts in laughter, despite herself. 

“Try not to,” Maz answers, unperturbed.

Rey's amusement fades when she realizes...

Oh. This is going to be just lovely, she thinks with annoyance, trying to logic out how she’s supposed to pee when cuffed to this giant beastly jerk.

Not for the first time she realizes how irritating he is and how this is all his fault. I hate him.

Maz gestures for Rey’s hand and Rey holds her left hand for Maz to secure with one of the cuffs.

Solo is also right-handed, and Rey smirks to herself as she watches his face fall with the realization she beat him to the proverbial punch. Her dominant hand is free and his will be shackled.

Solo glares at her and shrugs out of his suit jacket before shuffling around to stand on her left side and resignedly lifting his right hand.

You snooze, you lose…

“You can take turns, you know.” Maz laughs and waves them into the house. “Come on, kids. Ackbar said I shouldn’t be afraid to make you earn every minute of punishment…”

Rey sighs, acquiescing to her fate, and follows the tiny Matron to her doom, pulling a sullen Ben Solo along with her.

 

Turns out the orphans chew a lot of gum.

After spending half a day scraping it from the bottoms of desks and chairs, Rey decides she despises chewing gum more than just about any other substance on the planet.

For his part, Solo seems happy enough he doesn’t have to actually work directly with any kids thus far. Rey finds this curious because, from what she briefly observed earlier, the children seemed to like him, and he seemed to be really good around them.

As Maz led the pair through the organized chaos of the orphan’s home, several of the orphans stared up at them, awe transforming their little features as they craned their necks at the strangers. They were especially awed with Solo.

It’s because he’s so tall, Rey thought, trying to tamp down the strange feeling at the idea of her mortal enemy being likable. The kids don’t know what an absolute terror he is.

He noticed the children, though, and smiled, appearing friendly enough to inspire one little girl to approach and shyly ask if he was a giant who could touch the clouds.

He tugged on Rey’s sleeve to stop her before he squatted down and asked the girl her name. The child replied too quietly for Rey to catch it, but she watched him hold out his uncuffed hand for the little girl to shake.

Rey did hear his softly rumbled response, “A pleasure to meet you.”

The little girl giggled and shook his hand before running away, leaving a formless emotion writhing gently but alarmingly close to the region of Rey’s heart.

That vague emotion still lingers, even now, hours later as she viciously scrapes her putty knife at a fossilized grey glob, noting disgustedly how this one chips away. It’s old.

Ugh. Gross.

She feels a sharp tug on her wrist as Solo, working on the desk next to her, shifts abruptly.

“Sorry. Sorry!” he barks before she can scold him for pulling her off-balance.

Her wrist is going to be covered in bruises by the end of the day what with his heavy-handed, brutish, inconsiderate –

“You know this would be a helluva lot easier if we just held hands, right?” he grits out, jabbing his own putty knife at the underside of his desk with the calculated fury of a fencing master.

She does know. They’d tried it for all of fifteen minutes when Maz had first slapped their cuffs on and ordered them to follow her.

As they'd approached Maz's destination, a classroom, apparently, Solo had snatched up Rey's hand in his and she had allowed it, too captivated by the warm familiarity of his touch to resist.

She’d lasted a quarter of an hour, listening with only half an ear to Maz’s instructions while doing everything she could to not sink into a pit of needy, scrambling desire as the Alpha next to her emanated an air of distinctly escalating hunger.

For his part, Solo nodded and murmured respectfully, if not distractedly, to Maz, clearly understanding the general concept of what the Matron was ordering them to do.

Maz shook her head at the color blooming in Rey’s cheeks and the rising waves of poorly-concealed lust rolling off Solo before turning to leave the classroom, presumably to wrangle some of the burgeoning chaos happening just outside.

Nevertheless, as they each took up a putty knife and knelt together to peer under their first desk, Rey quickly realized holding hands with Solo all day was going to be…pretty much torture. Because every time his large warm fingers caressed hers, or his thumb lightly ran along the inside of her wrist or over her palm or squeezed encouragingly, it sent little shivers of delight spearing through her, right down to the soles of her feet, making her toes curl inside her sneakers.

Still. After several hours of being wrenched around, Rey supposes vague arousal is preferable to the abuse her wrist is taking against his loutish man-handling.

“Fine. Fine!” she snaps, grappling roughly for his hand and holding him firmly in place. He tries to thread his fingers through hers instead, and she hisses, “Stop taking my hand!”

He grows visibly exasperated and simply drops his arm, jerking her close to him with the sudden dead weight. She scrambles to remain upright and not crash into his chest.

As it is, he’s leaning back, bracing one arm behind him, and she’s propped over him, ducked close to his face to avoid smashing her head on the underside of his desk.

His predatory gaze drops to her mouth and she freezes like startled prey. For a flash of a moment she becomes acutely aware of his physical power, of a barely-caged raw strength held ruthlessly in check. As if the restraining influence of civilization is at constant war with his devouring animal nature.

His chest rises and falls under the pristine white of his button-down shirt, and the heat of him slowly invades her space along with his unique scent of woodsy-spicy-sex.

His scent is so appealing, she wonders if it’s been specifically designed to weaken her, to flood her belly with that warm, squirming, clenching eagerness, to fill her mind with the singular, ancient impulse to submit and give this Alpha anything he wants…

She wonders if she's glimpsing a facet of his true nature of which he’d only hinted at last week. Last week, when she’d only been partially conscious of anything but the need to satisfy the base urges brought out by her heat, or when she’d been far too infuriated with him in the immediate aftermath to fully appreciate his commanding allure.

But now she can almost see it as a tangible thing. And she can almost feel his own reciprocal awareness swinging back into her.

His nostrils flare slightly and he’s sniffing the air between them, and he doesn’t look remotely like a cultured, educated man right now. He looks like a ravenous beast solely intent on devouring her.

She’s sinking into his beautiful eyes, framed with thick, curly black lashes. She’s falling into those fathomless black pools growing dilated to swallow the pretty hues of amber and whiskey and butterscotch and lure her into sweet darkness with unspoken promise.

She realizes on some level she is panting, pushing her soft breaths at him, willing him to share her air, her elemental yearning. He seems to readily inhale in return, drinking in her scent and not doing a damn thing to stop himself.

And they really should try to stop themselves.

But for just a split second, she wants to taste those lavish red lips of his. To see if they are as delicious here, now, in the real world, as they were in her safely manufactured little nest last week. She wants to know if it is maybe real, here, today. Where neither of them can cling to the excuse of her being in heat before they dive into mad yearning…

She wants to know if he tastes as dark and luscious as she thought he did when she was under the influence of overpowering hormones.

He senses it, too. Holding her gaze, he sits up until their mouths are inches away, then just an inch, then his lips cling to hers and she melts into the warm suppleness of his kiss with barely any resistance at all.

This Alpha is very pleased, she thinks, giving in just a little more to her Omega hindbrain…Don’t stop.

It’s as if he can read her mind and he deepens their kiss, pressing his mouth against hers until she braces a hand, not on the floor, but against the solid warmth of his chest.

He tilts his head and angles his mouth under hers as languorously as if he is a sultan lounging in a perfumed, pillowed harem and not on the rather dirty, cracked-tile floor of an orphanage schoolroom.

She can pull away at any time. All she must do is lift her head from the increasingly urgent prodding of his tongue, which is slipping against hers with gentle but insistent invitation.

Rey knows somewhere at the back of her mind this is dangerous, kissing him. It will only invite more trouble when they rouse themselves from their brief folly and remember they are enemies and they despise each other.

Yet she cannot muster the will to pull away from his softly questing kisses. Instead, she sighs and yields, settling more firmly against him to curl her hand around his neck, brushing a thumb against his scent gland until a racking shudder flows through him.

He returns her soft sigh of compliance with a throaty hum, a desperate sound pulled from deep within him. She wants more, wants to give him more and presses closer. 

His hum of pleasure becomes a demanding growl as she pushes her tongue back against his, offering more until she can smell his complete and total immersion in her. Until she can taste his entire will focused solely on exploring her, learning the secret parts of her. 

Yes. There’s that feeling again. She wants him. And he wants her. She can smell it. She can taste it.

It’s that same feeling as before, that compulsive need to let him take her, just like last week…only…now, this is more of a conscious choice, not a frantic necessity of biology. The wicked-desperate edge of lust is blunted here in this kiss, allowing for a less frenzied exploration, for something deeper, more permeable…

A loud crash just outside and the thundering chaos of screeching children running past interrupts her thoughts with the shocking finality of a splash of ice-cold water.

She pulls away, but he follows. He leans up, seeking to resume their feverish kissing.

She glares at him, unwilling to admit she’s more annoyed at the interruption than because they were nearly caught in a passionate embrace…

But the spell is broken. He sees it and mutters, “Dammit.” He looks momentarily disappointed. And then a rather arrogant look crosses his face. As if he’s confirmed something for himself, too.

Rey jerks away from him, temper flaring with agitation at his apparent conceit.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” he murmurs devilishly. He purses his lips, drawing attention to their wet, plump lusciousness and she almost groans out loud at how badly she wants another taste.

She pushes hard against the rock-solid wall of his chest and lands on her butt.

“Why are you so goddamned difficult?” he prods.

“Same reason you’re such a jerk, I guess!” she retorts hotly. “Born that way!”

His mouth works as if he is swallowing an angry reply that will only prove her right and he resolutely lifts his putty knife to jab at a purple glob under the desk near his face. She grabs his hand defiantly and tries vainly to ignore him for the rest of the day.

 

The second day of community service is marginally better, now that Rey knows what to expect: Pure hell.

She takes her time leaving the house this morning. She is sure to give Beebee an extra treat and double-checks that the doggie door leading to the backyard is open before heading outside to find Solo’s car inevitably parked in her driveway.

He merely greets her with a distracted smile and drives them to the same coffee shack as yesterday.

He is quiet, and Rey is glad to have a moment to collect herself, as always, in the presence of his overpowering personality and divine scent. She notes he is wearing jeans and a t-shirt under a ratty hoodie today.

Always wears a suit, my ass, she thinks smugly.

She tries not to notice how appealing he is like this, looking as if he just rolled out of bed and threw on whatever. For some reason, she feels she is getting to glimpse a side of him not many get to see.

She is aware and astute enough to guess he prefers to show the world one side of himself: Ruthless, cunning lawyer, powerful and in control at all times.

She is also well-aware how firmly he held iron control over himself last week…especially under the circumstances when he repeatedly made her lose control…

For some reason, even more so than seeing him naked and letting him fuck her into mindlessness, seeing him dressed so casually feels almost too intimate. It makes her uncomfortable. She wants to ask him to cover it up and go back to being the cold-blooded snake she's grown accustomed to despising. 

He remains quiet and pulls up to the window of the coffee shack. As he did yesterday, he takes a twenty-dollar bill from his pocket - this time from the front pocket of his jeans - and smiles good morning at the girl in the window. 

It's the same barista from yesterday, Kaydel, and she remembers Rey’s order with a friendly wave.

Rey feels like a third wheel when Ben asks if Kaydel has started her applications to grad school.

They chat for a few minutes and Rey sips her coffee, declining the massive chocolate chip cookie Solo offers her once again.

However, Solo, while still being polite and seemingly reigning in the asshole persona for a change, is notably quieter today.

Rey finds this a little perturbing and tries to make a joke when Maz cuffs them, this time on opposite sides as the prior day. “You have the right to shut the hell up…”

Solo grins at her and they make their way amicably to the kitchen.

Ah. Fuck.

Apparently, it’s dishwashing day, and the orphans have used every available pot and pan in existence.

“Maz. What the hell?” Solo groans in dismay as he takes in at least a dozen skillets with dried, crusty egg stuck on them. In fact, the whole kitchen looks like a war zone.

“The children were learning how to make omelets,” Maz explains with a gleam in her eye.

He exclaims, “Who was teaching them? Genghis fucking Khan?”

But Maz has already left the kitchen to answer the doorbell.

“It’s going to take us all day to scrub these,” Rey complains grumpily.

Solo nods and turns on the tap to fill the industrial sink with soapy water.

“Plan?” he asks gruffly.

“Um, you scrub, I rinse?” she replies.

It seems a little unfair to make him scrub, but he’s got full use of his dominant hand today. She can't help but notice how his muscles bunch and flex as he stacks some of the pots and pans next to the sink.

Luck of the draw, big guy.

He nods again. Still quiet.

“What?” she finally asks, annoyed. “We can ask Maz to switch the cuffs if you really don’t want to scrub.”

“No, it’s fine,” he mutters, pumping several large squirts of soap into the filling sink.

“Is it…?” She takes a deep breath. “Are you still mad because I shot you? Because you maybe didn’t deserve that,” she admits grudgingly. Although privately, she still thinks shooting him in the ass was definitely one of her finer moments.

He grunts noncommittally, watching the sink fill with sudsy water for a minute.

Then he turns to her, dark eyes blazing with intensity. “Rey. As much as you owe me an apology for that, I owe one to you, too. For what I said. But…I’m…gah, never mind.”

She raises her eyebrows at him, surprised. “Wait, this is about the Holdo thing? Isn’t it?”

He grunts again but stays quiet. Which is a goddamn miracle. She knows he loves to talk. Hello? Lawyer?

“Are you upset about something else?” she finally asks. Not because she cares. She just doesn’t want to spend the whole day handcuffed to someone who is in a pissy mood. She knows he can be pleasant and charming. She’s seen it. The day might be slightly less awful if he's not so glum.

Rey would even admit she prefers his sharp-bladed repartee over this surly moodiness.

To her surprise, he finally replies. “I should offer my congratulations. On your promotion.”

Oh. He heard about that.

Although he sounds less-than congratulatory.

In fact…he kind of sounds upset about it.

Shit. A touch of dread slithers through her. “Um. Thanks. Is that…are you mad about that? Is that why you’re so…?”

He turns off the tap and glares at her, blotches of color blooming across his high cheekbones. “Do you have any idea how dangerous it is? Detective work?”

Oh. He’s…angry. No. He's furious.

Wait. Did he just say…?

“What do you care?” she snaps rudely.

He bites out the next bit as if he’s rehearsed the words, “Traffic cop is one thing, but detective? You’ll be dealing with some of the biggest scumbags around – believe me, I know. You can’t…”

Oh, hell no. He did not just say that.

He stops himself, but rage is already burning in the pit of her stomach.

He’s probably one of those bigots who doesn’t believe Omegas can be just as good in traditionally Alpha-dominated career fields. She should have guessed.

He shakes his head and looks as if he’s about to finish his remark. But he simply presses his lips together and looks away, nostrils flaring with agitation.

“You are un-fucking-believable! I take it back. You absolutely deserved to be shot!” she bellows, her temper flaring to life like a lit match flung into a pool of gasoline.

She stomps her foot and yanks hard on their cuffed hands, hoping to jerk him off balance, make him stumble, make him hurt. Wipe that look off his face. Something.

The fact she can’t budge him an inch only seems to highlight how physically helpless she is when matched against his superior might.

He exhales, a sort of “are you finished acting like a child?” sigh, and she takes a deep lungful of air, making a monumental effort to reign in her temper before it gets the best of her.

He apparently refuses to be baited by her stormy outburst and simply scowls at the mountain of dishes.

Until she huffs under her breath, “Well. Whatever, asshole.”

With an indifferent sneer, he plunges his arm into the soapy water. The one that is cuffed to hers, that is.

Rey finds herself dragged forward and down as her own arm is drenched almost to the shoulder in warm suds and the sleeve of her shirt is soaked. She shrieks and yanks her wrist against his in renewed outrage and splashes water everywhere in the process.

“Hey!” she screeches, knowing now she will be spending most of the day half-wet and miserable.

“You said it, baby. I’m an asshole. Best not forget it.” And with that truthful pronouncement, he chuckles darkly, ignores her sputtering, and starts scrubbing.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six - Manners Maketh Man

 

The next ten days will be the longest of Rey’s life. She is sure of it.

Hands-down, she would rather be in heat the entire time. Alone. On a desert island.

Ben Solo’s mood goes from bad to worse after their little verbal tussle in the kitchen.

She isn’t sure why he bothers to park in her driveway every morning and drive her to the Sacred Heart when he so clearly dislikes being in her presence. It’s as if he is challenging her to force him to leave again.

The next couple of weeks are like the Holdo Incident, although admittedly with less ammunition and screaming. And more drawn out. Nevertheless, the whole thing feels like a mutually-perpetuated contest of wills. 

Who will budge first? He acts like the injured party, and she hasn't done anything wrong. Plus, she technically already apologized for shooting him. Even though she took it back.

The whole thing feels like a stand-off, regardless.

Because of this, she refuses to be the first one to back down.

If he wants to stop carpooling, let him be the one to tell her so she can accuse him of being ungentlemanly.

Until then, she senses her presence is pure annoyance and is spurring him on to new heights of sullen chivalry.

Although...Rey can’t help but wonder if she’s been overreacting to his veneer of assholery with her own waspishly defensive pride.

After reflecting on their confrontation in the orphanage kitchen, Rey privately acknowledges Solo was only pointing out something she was well-aware of already.

Detective work is tough. And dangerous.

Still, she only admits this to herself after she is safely at home that evening, where she’s cooked up a lovely dinner of macaroni and cheese and curled up on her sofa with Beebee.

She scratches Beebee’s little head and wonders how Solo learned about her promotion. As far as she knows he hasn’t spoken with Ackbar. And she is pretty sure, based on the fact he never has visitors at his mausoleum of a house, he doesn’t have any friends.

Based on her subtle observations over the past year, all he does is work, run, mow his lawn, and generally keep to himself. With the rare exception of coming around her place every now and then to keep their un-neighborly bickering alive.

Over the course of their community service, they do not speak unless it is strictly necessary to perform their assigned chores, which includes such uninspiring tasks as polishing miles of church pews, scrubbing acres of floors, both in the church and the orphanage, and especially fun when handcuffed to each other, assisting the orphans in learning how to cook.

Rey is mostly in charge of keeping an eye on the older kids as they learn how to handle knives and fire. Solo does the actual conveying of information on the process of cooking.

It’s difficult when they are cuffed to each other, but Rey grudgingly allows Solo to have his good hand free for lessons.

At least with the cooking lessons Rey gets to interact with children, which is truly enjoyable, for the most part. Except for whenever she notices Solo’s voice lower to an unthreatening purr or a soft chuckle as he speaks to anyone other than her. Which is all the time.

His proximity is doing things to her. Everything about him brings her awareness into acute, nearly-painful focus. He is big and strong and tender and smart. And he smells delicious and it is torture to stand so close to him and feel the warmth of his body and know what it feels like to touch him…to have him moving on her…in her… And although she did shoot him for being an indescribable prick, she suspects, at least when he isn’t in Lawyer Mode, he’s actually more teddy bear than overbearing pig…

He’s pretty goddamn amazing, in fact. Aside from when he’s acting like a giant douchebag, which apparently he only does in court or when directly interacting with her.

But, this will end soon enough, and Rey isn't entirely sure she's excited about it. 

After days and days of bristling silence and tension, however, Rey is relieved to have some time to relax before finally starting her new job. Even better, Finn will be making a belated trip to see her, since he missed his usual visit because of the snow.

Rey misses her friend and looks forward to spending time with someone who isn’t scowling at her as if she’s a turd tossed over the fence by an angry neighbor…

She glances at the angry neighbor in question and feels an unwelcome flutter in her belly.

She looks forward to being distracted from the very broody Alpha who lives next door.

 

The Holdo Incident.

She’d just shakily changed the sheets and crawled back into bed, exhausted and ready for something to eat. He was downstairs fixing them both some breakfast. Naked, since his only clothing happened to be scattered all over her house.

Not that either of them had much need for clothing, since they’d spent the past week pretty much either fucking or sleeping, interspersed with brief stints in the shower.

She’d been worn out, fatigued and completely uncaring at this point of anything but letting Alpha fuck her silly, any way, any how.

He’d grown slightly less patient over the last day or so. Rather than drawing out her orgasm for ages, he seemed more interested in getting them both there, quickly and efficiently, so they could lie together quietly and sleep.

She sensed he was wearing out, too. He had to be as exhausted as she was.

She didn’t mind at all; resting curled against the warm breadth of him was strangely comforting. She wondered vaguely if it had something to do with the old mantra “keep your enemies closer” – maybe because she knew what he was up to, then she knew he wouldn’t be next door plotting his next outrage… It couldn’t be because of the way his broad shoulders sheltered her or how his syrupy-slow smile drew across his face each time she grew urgent with need, making her melt against him…

On that thought, he walked into the room with a heaping plate of eggs and toast. Groceries were probably growing scarce. He ate like a freaking carthorse.

The smell of food teased her nose and she sat up eagerly.

Mmmm. Food and Alpha.

“Hungry?” he inquired, sitting on the edge of her bed. She scooted closer.

“Starving,” she said, opening her mouth to eat the forkful of eggs he held for her. They were delicious. He fed her methodically for a few minutes, occasionally taking a bite for himself. 

“You are running dangerously low on groceries, baby,” he murmured, watching her mouth as she chewed. “The snow is melting. I might run next door and grab some stuff from my place…”

“No, need,” she told him carelessly around the bite of eggs she was chewing. “I’m sure this heat will be over soon enough, and then you can get back to your regularly scheduled life...”

She opened her mouth for another bite, then met his eyes when he stilled, fork halfway between her and the plate in his lap.

Something flashed across his face before he quickly obscured it. Something alarmingly close to hurt.

Shit. That wasn’t what she meant.

“Well,” he said carefully, “that is a relief.”

He set the plate to the side, and she registered with only half her mind how his scent had shifted subtly…

“Until then,” he growled with a tinge of sarcasm, “let’s make good and sure you’re all set, shall we?”

He caught her by the hips and dragged her down until she lay sprawled in front of him, legs dangling over the edge of her bed while he stood between them.

“Ben,” she gasped as he pushed her back into the mattress with a none-too-gentle shove. “I didn’t mean –”

“Shut up, Omega.”

He raked his palm from the center of her chest down to hover over her belly, splaying his fingers until they spanned the protrusions of her hipbones. He pressed down, rubbing his palm against the soft flesh under her belly button, seemingly captivated by the sight of his large hand on her.

She watched his eyes darken and shutter themselves and felt a strange urge to soothe him.

“Ben…” she whispered. His gaze flickered up to hers, blank now except for a familiar smoldering desire. She glanced down and saw him growing hard. The sight took her breath away.

He interrupted her train of thought. “Why hasn’t that other guy done it already?” he asked abruptly.

Done it? But she knew exactly what he was referring to.

She almost confessed that Finn had never brought her to the point of her asking him to claim her. She almost told him the “other guy” was just a friend and neither one of them were interested in escalating their relationship.

But she remained quiet, sensing any reference to another Alpha at this particular moment would be…hazardous, somehow, even if Ben had been the one to bring it up.

“Next time you tell me to, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop myself.” He sounded threatening, almost as if he was daring her.

“Who says there’s going to be a next time?” she argued weakly, knowing she was on very shaky ground. She’d already asked him to twice, now.

Once in the kitchen, and then again yesterday…

And now…she was so turned on she was on the brink of asking him again and he’d hardly even touched her, yet.

"This is just sex..." she said quietly, searching his eyes for something, anything more...

The corner of his mouth lifted ominously. “So you’ve pointed out. Several times. Explicitly.”

He gripped his increasing erection and pumped his fist slowly up and down, letting her watch until she was panting and slick and practically drooling.

“That’s all you want, isn’t it?” he murmured, caressing his thumb over the moisture beading at the tip of his cock, until he was engorged and flushed and glistening with his own wetness.

Shit. She did want it.

“Yes.”

Tingles shot through her as he released his impressive arousal to slowly, deliberately push her knees apart, bending them up and out until she was pinned wide open for his thorough inspection.

“…I’m just here to fuck you…right?” he asked harshly. “You don’t fucking care whose dick it is, as long as it’s ready on demand? Is that it?”

“…yes…” she whispered defiantly, knowing she was lying, but not really caring all that much because…that’s all this was to him, right? Just sex?

Oh, shit, he’s so beautiful and –

He aligned himself at her entrance and she eagerly grasped the hot, hard length of him to guide him inside. He hissed and closed his eyes and for just a moment she felt powerful.

As if her touch could maybe unravel him a bit. As if something as simple as the brush of her hand on that silky-hot skin could shake him. That she might have the influence to rout such a strong, incredible creature…maybe just a little.

The head of his erection kissed the velvet-wet heat between her legs and his eyes flashed open to lock on hers.

He grinned at her with a devil’s smile, tempting, mocking, and burning with merciless lust.

“I am going to wear you the fuck out,” he promised wickedly. And she understood her sense of power was just an illusion. It was vanity.

He pushed against her and she braced her hands on his pecs, seeking something to ground her to reality.

But reality did not exist and could not be found. Not with him moving over her, blocking out the light with the width of his shoulders. Not like this, this all-consuming invasion. 

Her head flung back, and she cried out, already destroyed, as he pushed into her with a slow, devastating ruthlessness that would surely break her sanity.

It was she who was being unraveled and torn apart, split wide open. Ravished, even.

He sank in to the hilt, groaning softly as he roughly bumped at the depth of her, his full lips forming a rasping “oh!” when it happened.

As if that singular moment was incomprehensibly exquisite to him.

“Mmmm, so good…” he mouthed against her face.

And then he started flexing his hips into hers and she was gone.

He bit his bottom lip and gripped her thighs, angling her to better receive his ever-demanding thrusts.

She twisted her hips, digging her nails into the warm muscles bunching rhythmically against her fingertips, trying to draw him in and hold him still, because every drag and pull of him against her inner walls was sending insane little shockwaves through her…

But, he refused to give in, withdrawing nearly all the way before plunging back in with a brutal grind and a guttural, “Mmh, fuck, yeah.”

She welcomed each push with a throaty moan until her voice cracked and broke on his name.

At that, his eyes lit with near-militant aggression, and he slid his hands up her legs to bend her knees over his arms, bracing himself as he levered into her, stealing the thoughts from her mind and the breath from her body.

He ducked his chin and watched her face and fucked her until she could only grip his arms weakly and stare back at him. As if he were the anchor and lodestone and center of her universe.

She couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe or even push back.

She could only lie there and take it.

The noises he made were sinfully hungry, as if he couldn’t contain the decadence of having her. As if he were tasting and enjoying and unable to contain his pleasure.

She wanted to drink in those sounds and keep them somehow, so she could play them back later. When she was alone.

His face tensed, and he bent into the crook of her neck, sweeping his tongue over her scent gland until she was so slippery he was able to pump into her faster and harder and deeper.

“You…taste...so good,” he grunted, almost unwillingly. “Fuck.”

He bowed his head lower to chase a bouncing nipple with his tongue and she groaned when he fastened his mouth around the sensitive peak and suckled gently, in exquisite contrast to the ruthless pounding of his hips.

An aching tremble shot down her thighs and tightened low in her belly…

He pulled on her nipple and stroked the tip with his tongue and if she’d been groaning before, now she was squealing hoarsely in time to his perfect assault. A bead of sweat trailed down his forehead and she wanted to taste it. She clutched her hands into his hair and brought him close, but he dragged a finger across her clit and she sobbed, utterly distracted.

He kissed her, open-mouthed and ravenous, as if he meant to swallow her cries, while the stroke of his finger over her clit wound her into a tightly coiled spring.

“Look at me,” he growled against her mouth.

She opened her eyes and met his.

“Now tell me,” he demanded with another stroke of his finger and a rough thrust. “Tell me what you really want.”

“…bite…” she gasped helplessly.

Some unnamable emotion crossed his face…and she noticed it immediately.

She tried to properly focus, but he pulled out and flipped her over, dragging his hand over her sex to spread her open before shoving himself hard between her legs until she screamed and bucked against him.

He wrapped her hair in his fist and she could feel his sweat-slicked chest sliding against her back as he snarled into her ear, “You know I can take whatever I want?”

Yes, Alpha. Take it, take it, please fucking take it.

His tongue swept over that spot and for the briefest moment she was sure he was going to –

At the scrape of his teeth against the gland at the back of her neck, white-hot pleasure fluttered through her.

“…yespleasebite me there…please…” she sobbed, as filthy-hot contractions began to stutter and pulse around him.

He dragged his teeth over her again, and she fell apart, a tangled, writhing mess of boiling sensation, coming so hard it almost hurt.

He gripped her roughly, forcing her into stillness with a squeeze against her throat and a wordless shout. She could feel his knot swell inside her, stretching her, she could feel his teeth sink into her shoulder and even as she quivered and shuddered as he knotted her, she felt a vague anger that he hadn’t done it. That he hadn't done the thing she'd practically dared him to do...

He rolled partially to the side, pulling her into his stuttering breaths and trembling chest, draping a heavy thigh over her while they came down, gasping and twitching together.

Silently, she tried to pull away, but she couldn’t and logically she knew they would be literally stuck together for at least an hour or so. A tear of frustrated anger slid down her cheek.

He hadn’t claimed her, and she was furious. He’d had her there, on the precipice. He'd brought her there deliberately. He’d as much as told her he could – what was it? – take whatever he wanted?

Clearly, he hadn’t wanted to. Another tear slipped out and she fought to catch her breath.

“Settle down,” he said huskily. “Shhh…I know you’re mad.”

She refused to speak to him, but he seemed content enough to know she wasn’t trying to do the near-impossible and get up and leave.

He cautiously brushed her hair back and kissed the side of her neck in a strangely apologetic gesture.

Eventually, his breathing slowed into the regular cadence of sleep, which she now recognized after spending most of the past six days in his arms.

She dozed, knowing it would be over soon enough.

Then she could go back to her regularly scheduled life, too.

She woke when he gently pulled away from her and rolled to sit on the edge of her bed.

After her catnap, her anger had subsided significantly. She should probably apologize for treating him like a prize stallion and for once again asking him to bite her when they were so obviously not planning on spending the rest of their lives together…

She stared at his back, a masterpiece of Alpha perfection, carved with heavy muscle and a lovely furrow along his spine that led to two faint dimples above his buttocks. The whole glorious display was dotted with beauty marks, like the rest of him, and she wanted to trace her fingers over the pale flesh one last time.

However, he turned to look at her and had clearly donned his mask of imperturbable bastard, once again. If the cocky smirk he flashed her meant anything.

Oh. Right. This was just fucking, Rey.

“Well. As much fun as that was…like you said, I should get back to my real life. What happened to my shirt?”

His…shirt? She’d kind of been planning on hanging on to it for the rest of her life.

“Do you, um…?” She wet her lips and tried again. “You don’t have to leave right away.”

She tried to grasp a reason for him to stick around. She slipped out of bed to throw on a fluffy bathrobe.

This was unbelievably awkward.

Finn usually hung out for an extra day or two when her heat was over. They played cards and watched movies so she wouldn’t be lonely. Going from all that physical closeness to abrupt solitude was rather jarring for a single Omega girl. Finn understood that.

Obviously, Ben wasn’t of a similar mindset. In fact, he looked like he was in a goddamned hurry.

Which, although mildly insulting, was probably for the best.

Ben was pacing around her room, apparently looking for his dress shirt or his t-shirt. Not that he would find them, because she’d stashed them both under her mattress last time she changed the sheets.

Except now he couldn’t leave without his clothes. She probably could have thought that through a little better.

“Yes. I need to leave. I have all kinds of shit I’ve neglected. Not that I didn’t have fun, baby,” he muttered distractedly. 

Of all the things he could have said, this was probably the very worst.

“Um. Okay. Sorry this was such a hassle?” Now she was getting pissed off as he poked at a few of the pillows and blankets littering the floor, ignoring her. “Glad you had a great time,” she gritted out.

He wasn’t even fucking looking at her.

He really should have quit while he was ahead, but apparently for all his super-classy, probably very expensive lawyer education he just wasn’t that smart. Based on what he said next.

“I did. It’s good to know my neighbor girl can show some manners after all...”

It was a good thing he was quick, because she didn’t even register she’d grabbed the lamp on her nightstand and hurled it at him until the damn thing smashed against the wall. Where his arrogant head had been a split second before.

“Shit! What the fuck?!” he yelled, staring at her incredulously, but she was glaring at him with rabid fury, now.

He backed away, hands up, as if to ward her off. Belated realization dawned on his face and he tried a different tactic. “Okay…That was rude, and I’m sorry. Can I please have my pants, now?”

His pants were somewhere, probably kicked under her bed, but she could only hear his words echoing in her ears.

He couldn’t have made it more obvious he’d just been dying to get his hands on her so he could teach her a lesson and make her beg. Then walk away like the callous dog he was.

She reached into her closet so smoothly and quickly he didn’t have time to react.

“You should definitely leave,” she snarled at him as she brought out her pump-action shotgun.

His eyebrows shot up and his mouth gaped open.

“Rey. I just need to grab my pants. And then…”

“Now.” She smoothly brought the gun into position. Any feelings she might have had were apparently one-sided or brought about by the exceptional circumstances of her damn hormones.

He turned and hustled down the hall as she stalked after him.

“Can I just grab my -?”

He stopped halfway down the stairs and that was a very bad idea.

“No. Did you really just fucking mention fucking manners to me?” She was going to choke on her fury, she was sure of it.

But he looked like he was going to try to argue, too. As if he had the goddamn right.

“Are you seriously going to shoot me for making one stupid remark? After everything?” he asked.

Clearly, he thought she could be reasoned with right now.

Clearly he didn’t know her at all.

“After what? After you spent the entire week edging me and driving me crazy and making me ask fucking nicely and eating every bite of food in this house and making me –” she stopped, not willing to admit the next part.

He saw her hesitation and assumed it meant it gave him an opening. He stepped forward.

“Making you what?” She almost gave in to those pretty brown eyes. Until he said with a grin, “Don’t be like that, baby. If you want me to hang out, just say it.”

Say it. Say it? Was he fucking serious?

His eyes flared with alarm as she gripped her shotgun one-handed and pumped it, snarling, “Get out. Now!”

He turned and ran, but he was half-laughing. He obviously did not understand how serious she was.

He got to the front door and she was hustling down the stairs after him, when he hollered back at her, “I’ll come over and pound that pussy any time, baby!”

At her wild screech of rage, he bolted.

She may have only been threatening to shoot him up to this point. But she hadn’t planned on actually doing it until…until he flung over his shoulder as he scampered naked across her yard, “…just ask me nicely!”

And then everything became very simple.

He was running for his house, but there was no fucking way she was letting him off that easy. She fired off a round a few paces ahead of him, between him and his front porch. The small eruption of dirt and snow forced him to veer away and run instead for the relative safety of Amilyn Holdo’s house, next to his.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who was involved, Holdo had just stepped outside to pick up her newspaper.

Ben was moving fast, and Rey knew he was near the end of her range, when he turned and shot her the cockiest sneer imaginable. As if to say you wouldn’t dare – not in front of a witness.

Her next shot hit the ground in front of him in reply.

Oh yes, I fucking would. Last shot, asshole.

She took aim, noting with grim satisfaction the panic in his eyes. He blanched and ran for Holdo’s open front door, which was much closer than his own, but Rey’s next shot definitely got him before he disappeared inside.

That yelp of surprise would keep her warm for days, she decided. No. Weeks.

Getting shot in the ass was no less than that cocky son-of-a-bitch deserved.

God, she fucking hated him.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven – Three’s a Crowd

 

It is Friday afternoon, and their final day of community service has finally arrived.

Rey is tired and cranky and ready for it to be over. Ten, ten-hour days in a row, the equivalent of one-hundred hours – handcuffed to a surly, brooding Alpha – is not an experience she wishes to repeat, ever.

Ben has maintained a chilly aloofness since their argument in the kitchen, although he has been exceptionally polite. To Rey’s surprise, he never once complains about carpooling, and he pays for her coffee every day.

She knows he can afford it. As he’d told her, he wasn’t fucking cheap. She might have looked him up online when her curiosity wouldn’t let her sleep the other night…

As they approach the end of their final day of community service, Rey finds herself drifting between excitement over the prospect of seeing her best friend Finn this evening and a weird sort of dismay her enforced time with Ben is coming to an end.

Ben seems to grow almost despondent as the week progresses, and she wonders how all of this is impacting his work. He has developed deep circles under his eyes and looks like he’s even lost a bit of weight. She’s noticed the lights on at his house well into the early morning hours more than once over the past ten days.

She tries to ask him about it, but he merely flashes her a shadow of a smile and tells her he’s fine, just tired. But he's definitely putting a wall between them, and she can tell he is holding her at a distance for some reason. 

Rey has a feeling she’s sort of missed something, maybe the point he was trying to make about her promotion. The more she dwells on it, the more she realizes he’d been conflicted when he tried to talk to her about it, but, despite their physically enforced proximity, Rey cannot think of a way to bring up the topic again. She doesn’t want to fight, and this new quiet, sullen version of Ben is an unknown quantity. She is walking on eggshells, and it is stressful.

She feels a sense of approaching doom, a foreboding that, once they are uncuffed for the last time, it will be a loss.

Not that she isn’t desperate to be done with the handcuffs, which Maz has only deigned to remove during their regularly-enforced morning and afternoon breaks, but Rey has grown used to Ben’s constant nearness, the familiarity of his scent. Even their stilted communications over mundane things such as “pass the scrub brush” or “you missed a spot” have become a sort of anticipated thing she cannot define but that she craves.

As painfully drawn-out as the past ten days have been, Rey admits they did eventually figure out a way to, as Ackbar ordered, work it out. Nevertheless, today is especially tense, as if they both look forward to and simultaneously dread the end of all this.

Because when they have to interact again in the real world, how exactly will it work? Will they go back to hating each other? Rey can only imagine if they do, things will simply escalate from the Holdo Incident…and beyond shooting him, any escalation of that sort of behavior will result in actual jail time, at the very least.

So, where do they go after this enforced cease-fire is over?

Are they friends, now? And even more tenuous…what happens next time she’s in heat?

This question alone is the source of hours of agonizing. Rey loves Finn as a friend but now she’s had a taste of truly uninhibited…whatever it was with Solo…she isn’t sure she can go backward.

If anything, Ben showed her a side of herself she never knew existed. Even worse, he gave her something she fears she’s grown addicted to – and even if they ended on a somewhat sour note, Rey is positive she will never be happy with anything less than total, all-consuming passion ever again.

She is sure, particularly with the perspective that grows as time distances her emotions from the events of that week, she wants more.

Much more.

Finn is one of the few people she has ever felt close enough to really trust. She knows he feels the same, too.

Which is why, when she called him last week to tell him about her promotion, she was slightly surprised his reaction mirrored Solo’s. He had been happy for her, of course. But he, too, pointed out the dangers involved and even went so far as to ask if she would be partnered with an Alpha who could keep her safe in the line of duty.

Instead of raging at Finn as she had with Ben, she’d just sat there, stunned. And while Finn explained he totally believed in her, but he loved her and wanted her to be safe and admitted he was always going to be protective of her, even if they never went beyond just friends…she sort of had an eye-opening realization.

Not about Finn.

About Ben Solo.

And, even though she's been literally chained to the person at the center of her conundrum, she realizes distance has provided a bit of clarity.

She senses he feels it, too, but maybe neither of them are sure how to articulate this strange dance they’ve been locked in. They’ve immersed themselves in unfamiliar territory, an impasse that maybe isn’t insurmountable, but that is nevertheless complex and rife with treacherous emotional terrain.

For her part, Rey is unwilling to go back to the flat yet simple plane of mindless hatred. More has happened to move her beyond that place, and something is there.

She just needs to acknowledge it.

And time is running out.

They have just finished putting away the last of the clean dishes from the orphans’ dinner, and they still have half an hour to go. She can’t look at him for some reason. Even after ten days cuffed to each other, eye contact just feels too much like it might…reveal something she’s not ready for.

“Rey,” Ben says quietly, breaking her train of thoughts. “I’m…sorry for what I said.”

“Me too,” Rey answers quickly. Too quickly. “I shouldn’t have been so quick to jump to conclusions. About what you meant. About my being promoted.”

She glances at him cautiously. He takes a deep breath, and her heart is going to pound right out of her chest.

“I think – ” But, whatever he is about to say is interrupted by Maz.

“You kids all done?” Maz asks smartly, running a critical eye over the immaculate kitchen.

“Yeah, I think we got it all,” Ben replies with a smile, and Rey turns in relief, glad for the distraction from whatever was about to happen.

She feels like she was standing on the edge of a cliff and wasn’t sure if she could make the jump to the other side. Now she doesn't have to try. Not just yet.

Maz motions them over and holds up the handcuff key with a mock-grim frown. “Come on. I’ll let you off early if you promise not to tell Ackbar.”

Together, they outstretch their hands and Maz unlinks them. Rey feels a strange sense of loss as the weight of the cuffs falls away to free Ben’s hand from hers.

Maz watches them keenly. Nobody speaks for a moment. Then Maz sighs, “Rey. Your ride is here.”

“Ride? But I came here with Ben…” Rey blinks in confusion. And then. “Oh! It’s Finn! It must be him!”

She looks at Ben who, for the first time since they’ve met, appears openly thunderstruck.

Then his mask of indifference slams into place so quickly, Rey wonders if she missed his initial reaction, after all.

“Finn was planning on coming over later, but…he must be early…” Rey tries to explain. Not that Solo deserves an explanation. But. He looked so shaken for a moment.

“Was there something you wanted to tell me? Before I go?” she prompts gently, remembering he’d been about to say something just before Maz came in.

His mouth works itself into a pout and he regards her for a moment. Maz is avidly watching their exchange.

“Have a good night, Rey,” he finally mutters. “Thanks, Maz!”

And with that, he leaves out the back door, not even bothering to grab his sweatshirt from the coat rack in the front hall.

Rey shakes her head in bewilderment. Then she remembers, “Maz! Where’s Finn?”

Finn waits for her in the front hall, and he sweeps her into a giant bear hug as she runs into his arms.

“Finn!” she exclaims. “I missed you!”

She allows herself to press her face into his familiar leather jacket and be enveloped in his comfortable, friendly scent, even as he presses a kiss into her hair with an excited, “Hi, Peanut! I came early, I hope it’s okay.”

Of course it is okay, she tells herself, willing away the flash of irritation that Ben was obviously upset about it. For some reason, Rey feels whatever had been about to happen with Ben was somehow thwarted by Finn’s early arrival.

“I’m glad you’re here, Finn,” she tells him, looking into his twinkling dark eyes. “I just really…need a friend.”

He tilts his head and she knows he can see she is upset.

“Well. Let’s go grab a drink and you can tell me all about it. I have something I want to tell you, too.”

Other than to direct Finn to the local watering hole, Rey is quiet on the drive. She really wants a drink in her hand before she tries to explain why she might be feeling upset.

She’s been talking and texting Finn over the past few days, of course. That’s how he knew she would be at Sacred Heart this evening.

He also knows about Solo, Rey’s arch-nemesis. He’s patiently listened to her rants about him for the past year and been very supportive, even to the point of offering to beat the shit out of him for her.

And Finn knows Rey spent her last heat with Ben. Finn even knows she shot him in the ass pretty much immediately after that.

But Finn doesn’t know Rey’s more recently been feeling conflicted and sad and confused and annoyed and stubborn and terrified. Rey isn’t sure how she’s going to explain it all to Finn…

…she’s pretty sure she’s developed some feelings for Ben Solo. And she’s pretty sure Ben was just now going to either confirm or deny he maybe might just be having some feelings for her.

But what if he doesn’t?  

And there it is. The million-dollar question.

She doesn’t know what to do.

For his part, Finn senses her need to be quiet and he keeps his own typical effervescent chatter to a minimum.

That’s the great thing about Finn. He never pushes. He gives her space. Rey glances over at him as he drives.

Finn is one of those extraordinarily likable Alphas who gets whatever he wants, not by force of will so much as by sheer charisma. His exceptional good looks don’t hurt, either.

Finn possesses beautiful smooth dark skin and the world’s most charming smile. His eyes are coffee-brown, dark and sweet, and his black hair is always close-cropped and clean-cut. His very full lips are usually quirked up into a grin, inviting everyone around him to feel welcomed and comfortable, although Rey has seen him look grim and serious a few times. He’s got a gorgeous body, and while not as tall as Ben, he’s muscular and physically quite striking to look at.

Rey has grown used to his extreme good looks but never misses the way others’ eyes wander over him as if he’s quite a treat, a fact she is always quick to tease him over. Best of all, though, in her opinion, Finn’s genuine caring persona shines through in everything he does.

Rey adores him and asks herself for the millionth time why she never fell in love with him. He is the quintessential “catch” any Omega would be thrilled to be bonded to.

Maybe we can sort it out over hard alcohol, she thinks, as they enter the bar.

The boozy-warm air inside Mos Eisley Cantina greets her as she slips past Finn, who holds the door for her.

She glances around, noticing the place is nearly empty except for a lone Alpha sitting at the bar and another…dammit.

Another Alpha is sitting at a booth at the back of the bar and Rey’s belly swoops as it always does at the sight of him.

Like a magnet, she is pulled into his gaze and something is there. Something tangible, like a string, connects them as surely as if they are still handcuffed to each other.

Finn, astute as ever, murmurs, “Uh, is that a friend? Should we go say hi?”

Rey licks her lips and smiles too hard, too bright.

“That’s the uh, Alpha I’ve been telling you about,” she replies out of the corner of her mouth.

“Oh.” And maybe Rey has never fully appreciated just how Alpha Finn really is until this moment. Not until he says darkly, “Then we should definitely go say hi.”

Finn dons a guarded smile and guides her to the booth where Solo, upon seeing them, has lifted a hand in salutation.

Based on the way Solo takes in their approach with an arrogant curl of his lip, from Finn’s hand at her waist to their fake-ass smiles, Rey knows Solo’s greeting is nothing less than a full-blown dare.

Rey can practically hear Ben’s thoughts in her head. Bring your guy over here, baby. Let’s see how he measures up.

Shit shit. This is a bad idea.

Ben greets them politely enough, silently gesturing for them to please, have a seat.

But whatever is emanating from the pores of his skin is definitely hostile and hazardous and Rey feels mildly alarmed that Finn is going to get somehow unfairly caught up in –

Rey slides into the booth seat opposite Ben and immediately scents the two Alphas sizing each other up.

Oh, lovely. Territorial pissing match commences in…three, two, one…

Ben extends his hand and cocks his chin back. “Nice to meet you. I’m Ben Solo.”

Finn takes his hand readily enough and shakes it politely in return.

Ah. Round One. The classic “let’s see if we can squeeze each other’s fingers off” handshake.

They let go after a moment and Rey is relieved to see their extra-firm grips did not descend into an outright arm-wrestling contest.

Because she is fully aware these two are circling each other like wolves and somebody is going to get his head ripped off if she can’t put a stop to it. Finn might generally be a sweetheart and a gentle, funny, kindhearted person, but he is still all Alpha and possesses a cutting wit that he wields quite effectively if the occasion calls for it.

In Finn’s defense, Rey knows this occasion probably calls for it.

“Ben, this is Finn Storm, an old friend of mine from junior college.” She turns to Finn with a warning look. Be nice. “Finn, Ben is my neighbor and one of the county’s top defense attorneys.”

“State, baby. One of the best in the state,” Ben interjects, eying Finn’s beat-up leather jacket and casual attire. “What do you do to pay the rent?” he asks with just the very faintest touch of condescension on the word ‘rent’.

Damn. Asshole Ben has come out to play.

Finn settles back in his seat and replies coolly, “Neurosurgery.”

Round Two. The staredown.

He returns Ben’s stare with his own haughty disdain, and Rey’s stomach drops.

Ben lifts a brow and Finn continues gently, “I’m really good with my hands. Aren’t I, Peanut?”

Rey turns red at his implication and Ben’s Asshole Lawyer mask settles even more firmly in place.

He glowers at the server, who approaches to take their order. Ben already has a drink in front of him, and he doesn’t bother to ask what they want. He bites off, “They’ll have what I’m having. On me.”

The server nods and glances at Finn then Rey for confirmation before noticing the palpable tension and wisely scuttling away.

“So. Surgeon, eh? Good for you,” Ben says conversationally, taking a slow, elegant sip of his bourbon. “I thought about going into medicine myself but decided on law when I realized I could make three times more than a doctor. Better hours, too.” 

Fucking awesome. Round Three. Whose metaphorical dick is bigger?

Rey’s nerves are jumping at the Alpha posturing, but she stays quiet, not wanting to call attention to herself, the obvious bone around which these two are circling.

Finn smiles back disarmingly, and Rey’s stomach clenches with unease. He’s going to shred poor Ben to pieces and Ben won’t even know what happened…

“I considered law school before I decided on neurosurgery. And you’re right,” Finn agrees readily enough. “The pay sucks and the hours are worse…but I do sleep sooo well at night. Knowing I’m doing something to save lives every day. I couldn’t live with myself knowing I was putting dirtbags back on the streets for mere money.”

Ben takes another sip and something dark flickers behind his eyes. But he smiles agreeably and simply replies, “Touché, doctor. I do have an excellent record for getting people off.” He turns to Rey. “That reminds me, sweetheart. How’re the wrists? From the handcuffs?”

Ben smiles wolfishly, and Rey’s stomach flips over from intense, immediate arousal.

The remainder of the conversation deteriorates from there. Rey wonders how much longer they should stick around under the pretense of being polite when clearly these two are never going to be friends…

They trade thinly-veiled barbs with each other until Rey excuses herself to powder her nose. Perhaps the interruption and her absence will force them to play nice.

I swear to God, if I go back out there and they are comparing actual dick lengths, I’m leaving.

As she exits the ladies’ room, she walks past the bar. A large, rough hand grips her arm and she shrugs it away, turning to glare at the smirking Alpha who dared such presumptuous contact.

Shit. He could probably smell me getting all turned on by Ben fucking Solo…

“Hey pretty,” he growls in a gravelly voice ruined from what Rey guesses are at least twenty years of smoking cigarettes. Unfiltered cigarettes by the smell of it. “Noticed you have two Alphas over there and wondered if you needed a third?”

“Excuse me?” she hisses. The bartender is at the other end of the bar and cannot hear this insult, otherwise, she is sure this piece of shit would never have dared touch her.

“Well…you have three holes for a reason, girlie, so I just thought I’d…” He stops when she stomps down hard on his foot and whirls back to the booth where she sees…

Oh, fuck.

Both Finn and Ben are glaring in her direction and they look murderous. They saw what just happened and…they want blood spilled, she’s sure of it.

And while she is thankful they apparently no longer want to kill each other, the level of pure testosterone in the atmosphere has spiked exponentially.

Shit. Defuse this before it turns into a situation. I start my new job next week and cannot afford yet another scene involving Solo.

At her hasty approach, they both stand. Ben’s eyes are black fire and Finn has never looked so cold-blooded. He takes her arm none-too-gently.

“What did that piece of shit say to you, Peanut?”

“Nothing, he was just being an ass.”

“Rey.” Ben barks her name with such command, she shrinks into automatic submission.

Answer him. Now.

She explains what that Alpha said, and Finn loosens his grip on her arm. He holds Ben’s stare, almost as if they are having a telepathic conversation right in front of her.

Finn says quietly, “Rey can’t be a witness. She is a cop, you know.”

“A witness to what?” she snaps.

“I’ll do it. You need to protect those life-saving surgeon’s hands of yours,” Ben grunts sarcastically, rolling his shoulders back. “Get her out of here.”

Finn nods once shortly, and grabs Rey’s arm, dragging her to the exit.

“Finn! Stop it! Ben – what the hell?”

But neither of them say another word. Finn simply uses his undefinable Alpha-ness to hustle her out of the bar. She glances over her shoulder to see Ben approach the man who accosted her.  Ben is wearing a malevolent sneer.

He looks fucking deadly.

Shit.

They get to the car and Rey finally wrenches her arm out of Finn’s grasp.

“What is he doing in there?” she cries, exasperated. Finn steps in front of her as if he means to block her from running back into the bar.

“He is doing his job and teaching that fucker a well-deserved lesson in manners.”

His job? He’s a lawyer. Oh, wait. He’s doing his job as an Alpha.

Rey would have laughed at the irony of Ben Solo teaching anyone manners, had she not been worried sick about him and furious with Finn for dragging her away.

“What if he gets hurt?”

“I have a feeling this won’t take long,” Finn murmurs. “Get in the car, Peanut.”

“We can’t just abandon him here!” she says. But even as the words leave her mouth she sees Ben exit the bar and stride quickly toward them.

Ben tosses his car keys to Rey and she catches them reflexively. “I’ve been drinking, baby. Drive the Silencer home for me?”

She rolls her eyes and crosses the street to Ben’s car. But he doesn’t follow her as she expects him to. Instead, she watches him slip into the passenger seat of Finn’s car, casual as fuck.

Finn lifts his eyebrows at her.

As infuriated as she is at their little display of caveman barbarity, she is wildly interested in this rapid and highly unexpected turn of events. Something has obviously changed since she left them to powder her nose. She isn’t sure it was just that scene with that Alpha.

What the hell is happening?

She turns Ben’s car around and heads for home, glancing frequently in the rear-view mirror as Finn follows her.

They seem to be talking the whole time, from what she can see.

And she has a sneaking suspicion they are talking about her.

She pulls into Solo’s driveway and notices the automatic garage door open. She parks his fabulous car inside, taking a very brief moment to rub her nose along the leather headrest – fuck, it smells like him, so delicious – before peeking around curiously. The darkened half of the garage looks to be filled with woodworking tools and wood shavings.

Well. That would explain all the noise of power tools she’s been listening to for ages.

She’d poke around some more but is hesitant to leave her best friend and worst enemy together for any longer than necessary.

She half jogs over to her driveway as they both exit Finn’s car.

Neither one of them looks upset with each other, but Ben is… something. She’s never seen him like this before.

He looks feral, almost. He doesn’t acknowledge her, he just immediately heads for his house.

Before she can get close enough to smell him, maybe figure out what’s wrong, Finn takes her arm and guides her into the house with a, “I hope you have some booze in your cupboards. Now I’m the one who needs a drink.”

Ben didn’t say a word. He didn’t even look at her.

What the fuck just happened?

“Is he okay?” Rey asks as they go inside. Beebee yips with excitement at their visitor and she absently leans down to pet him.

“Yeah, he’ll be all right,” Finn mutters. “Just needs to chill out.”

Rey lifts a brow. “You mean after he assaulted that guy?”

Finn regards her quietly. “Let’s just say he’s fighting-mad and has no way to take it out on anyone.”

Rey tries to digest that information, but it’s difficult. She’s seen Ben angry before, but whatever she just witnessed wasn’t anger, exactly.

No. It was a near-loss of his carefully-schooled discipline, she realizes. Even when he’s incensed about something, Ben always demonstrates self-restraint.

Whether in the throes of passion or fury or under the extreme pressure of lawyering, he never, ever unleashes himself.

He is always in control.

Rey gulps and wonders if what she just witnessed was the emotional equivalent of a rabid dog nearly slipping its chain before being reined in with monumental effort.

But her mind is turned from whatever that was at Finn’s next words.

“Rey. We need to talk. I want you to have a seat. I have some news.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight - What A Difference A Day Makes

 

He never expected to actually have a taste of her just a week after she’d tasered him. Sure he'd thought about it. Constantly. Since the day they met. But still.

When she showed up to court wearing a skimpy little dress on the verge of going into heat, he had an instant, almost uncontrollable urge to throw her onto the nearest table and fuck the living shit out of her.

And then. After court, when it was snowing, and she’d run away? He knew it. She was running away from him. What was she afraid of?

As soon as the gavel banged down, he had scrambled to clear up his paperwork, even calling for her. But she was going, and fast. He’d abandoned his papers and chased after her like a lovesick dog, before remembering he had to grab his shit first. Then he bolted for his car, urgent to get home, knowing she was headed there, too.

And he’d known full well what condition she was in. He’d been inhaling her delectable scent all morning.

He broke a million traffic laws to get home in record time.

She’d still been in her driveway when he’d whipped his car around the corner, speeding into his garage so quickly he’d knocked over a stack of boxes. His loud cursing was more reflexive than anything. Because right before his frantic skid into the garage, he’d definitely noted the absence of a certain car in her driveway.

The other guy was not there. Not like the last few times she’d been in heat.

Which meant she was alone.

He stood outside to make absolutely sure and caught her staring his way before she scurried into her house.

She was running. Running away from him, and it triggered his most predatory instincts.

He fucking wanted her.

And he had the perfect opportunity...

He almost couldn’t believe it when she’d let him inside.

He’d barely registered his surroundings when he’d stepped into her house. If asked later, he couldn’t have described anything in the room, not the furniture or color of the walls…at the time he could only see…

Just her.

Her usual mouthwatering scent lingered heavily in the air, now underlined with a specific, distinct note of feminine lust that made his blood pound.

She was looking at him with a mixture of disbelief and, yes, perhaps a little dislike, a touch of distrust, but she was in bad shape, he could tell.

Because mostly she was looking at him like a hungry little Omega in need of a thorough fucking.

She needed him. Urgently.

He’d vowed he would take care of her, and he’d meant every word. She'd allowed him to put his hands on her, put his mouth on her, and the instant he did, he knew.

She was the One.

He’d dragged her skirt over her sweetly rounded hips and tasted her and made her come, almost too easily, just with his fingers. And he’d imagined it so many times, he’d been a bit smug about it...but also completely floored, unraveled and undone at the utter miracle of what had just happened.

Until she’d informed him breathlessly, “That didn’t count.”

That. Didn't count?

And he was abruptly reminded he was not her One.

So he tried again and she came again, and he decided he'd make her crawl and wait for it just a little. 

He was reminded even more blatantly when they’d gone into her room. She’d already made a fucking nest for some other guy. That had rankled his pride when he’d seen it.

He was the Understudy, the Stand-in, and only here because her preferred choice couldn’t be.

So, he’d given her his shirts. Maybe to erase the other Alpha from her mind. Maybe to mark his territory, even if temporarily.

In that moment, he decided to do his very best not to get emotionally attached and simply take this fateful gift for what it was: Six days of amazing, gut-wrenching sex that would absolutely destroy him for any other woman after this.

He would worry about that last part later.

For now?

She'd just admitted she'd purposely been a nightmare for the past year. She’d actually fucking tasered him a bare week ago. She sounded kind of smug about it. She totally deserved a little punishment. A bit of revenge, sure, so long as nobody got hurt.

Perhaps Ben could kill two birds with one stone and scratch the itch he’d been unable to satisfy since the day she'd moved in next door.

She was stuck with him now. He’d take what he could get and scrape together some pretty memories to ruminate upon later. When he was alone.

Besides, beggars couldn’t be choosers, and she was already begging him with those beautiful eyes.

Maybe it was low-handed and maybe it made him a total bastard, but over the next six days, he dug into the bedrock of his resolve and chained that hot-headed animal inside him before proceeding to take his pound of flesh from her very pretty hide.

He’d made her ask him nicely…made her need him until she could only see him, only feel him.

As he’d promised himself, he’d made her beg and scream and fall apart so hard he was sure he was going to fucking break her…but she kept going, and so he kept pushing, and maybe it was cruel and unfair, but life is cruel and unfair.

He’d tried his best to get her out of his system. Except he couldn’t.

…and the harder he tried, the more he realized with ever-increasing panic perhaps he would be the one to break…

Because he wanted to fucking melt into those hazel eyes of hers and never come back. He wanted to tell her she was perfect and gorgeous and so so good and give her anything and everything. He wanted to mark her and claim her, make her his in every possible way.

He wanted to and he couldn’t.

It would be so unfair to her. Taking advantage and pressing weaknesses was a particular skill of his, but he couldn’t bring himself to do something so reprehensible as actually claim her. Not when he knew for a fact how much she despised him.

She was getting marked up from him, though, and that was quite satisfactory. He loved the way his fingertips had bruised the delicate flesh around her hips and thighs. He adored the slight imprints his teeth had made along her shoulders, he revered those red marks he’d sucked onto her breasts and neck. Those would be there for a while. Reminders. Good.

If he couldn’t fully have her, he still felt the urge to sink his teeth into her soft sweet flesh as frequently as possible. Preferably when she was screaming his name. It did sound nice coming from those pouty pink lips, that honeyed mouth he couldn’t get enough of.

Even if she was poison, he’d sip her and die a happy man.

As the days wore on, he realized she might be killing him, demolishing him with her pretty moans and her soft skin and her pleading eyes and why the fuck would anyone turn this down?

Ben was positive he would have walked naked through a goddamn blizzard to get to this. He would have found a way and made it happen.

The other guy was an idiot not to stake his claim.

Although, Ben had been handed the opportunity on a silver fucking platter, too. 

She’d begged him to bite her when he’d been screwing her against the wall in the kitchen. But she’d been weak, and he’d been basically edging her off and on for days.

It wouldn’t have been right.

He couldn’t quite bring himself to let go and give in. He’d pulled out in the nick of time. He was later glad for his well-honed restraint.

The second time she’d asked him had been upstairs. They’d had to shower after she remarked how sticky and itchy she was from sweat and…the rest of it…

If he could have had his way, he’d have banged her in the same sheets until they were filthy from sex, until the walls of her room reeked of the both of them and her mattress was utterly beyond redemption. If it had been up to him, he’d have fucked her into their raunchy stench until she could never get the smell of him off her.

But he knew that was pretty revolting, and she wouldn’t like it. So, he’d carried her into the bathroom and held her under the shower until she started kissing him and he’d had to fuck her against the tiles until the hot water ran cold.

She’d screamed again for him to just fucking do it, to bite her, and her voice had been raspy with lust...and he’d almost lost himself again before having the presence of mind to pull out.

He’d almost bitten her on sheer primal reflex before reminding himself he was only the Temporary, the Replacement. The Alternate.

He’d left her huddled under a towel and stuttering from cold and orgasm to collect his thoughts and change the sheets and carry her to bed so he could fuck her again, maybe knot her this time and fall asleep pretending she belonged to him and not some other guy.

And that last day, he’d known it was winding down, coming to an end... He’d wanted it to last just a while longer, and he had been so terribly tempted to just lay himself out there, see if maybe she might consider…

When he’d brought her a plate of eggs and fed her and offered to get more food from his place – he’d eaten about every scrap of food in the house – he’d kind of been hoping…

But, she’d told him in no uncertain terms she was almost done with him and he could “go back” and it was “just sex.”  And then he’d known.

So he’d fucked her once more and brought her to the point of asking one last time because he knew exactly how to do it by now. Only this time he’d knotted her, so she’d have to lie next to him for a while...

It had soothed his wounded vanity, even though she’d been so angry, and he’d hated himself.

As soon as he could, he jumped out of bed, searching for his clothes, knowing if he even fucking looked at her he’d be lost. One glance into her eyes and he’d throw himself at her mercy, and she had none for the likes of him.

He’d done what any wounded dog does when it knows it’s about to be kicked again. Retreat, lick futilely at its injuries, and snap at anyone who approaches…

Until his snapping accidentally pushed her into fighting back. And oh, her temper had been something to behold. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.

She was magnificent. She’d almost taken his head off with that lamp, and something inside him flared powerfully. That rage she displayed was not a form of passion based on biological necessity.

He couldn’t help but egg her on, so he could glimpse a bit more of her spirit…capture a bit more of that light, seize one last morsel of radiance to clutch miser-like to his woefully parched heart.

Her temper had lightened him and given him a tinge of hope.

Maybe it was a sign she felt something…

Well. She’d definitely felt something strong enough to chase him down with a gun.

When he’d finally made it back to his own house, after borrowing a robe from a shocked Amilyn Holdo and doing his lawyerly best to explain the unbelievable kerfuffle to his neighbor lady, who happened to be a dear friend of his mother’s, – shit, I’m sure she’s telling Mother about this, dammit! – Ben observed in the bathroom mirror the bright red marks made by Rey’s rock salt pelting into his right ass cheek.

It could have been worse, he thought smugly.

He recalled the fire in Rey’s eyes when she’d aimed her shotgun at him…and damn, he realized he just might be in love.

 

Exactly Ten Days Ago –

His first day of Community Service handcuffed to Rey Niima went much better than he’d expected. Although it was near-torture being so close to her, he couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she was softening towards him just a little.

Yesterday’s confrontation in Ackbar’s chambers had been a bit of a shock. As he’d suspected, Holdo had done as promised and kept the most incriminating portions of the Incident to herself, but word had gotten around to Ackbar, and Ben had feared the worst.

Being handcuffed to a pretty Omega for one-hundred hours of community service at the orphanage was getting off easy, although initially, the thought of being around children had been mildly appalling.

But Rey, oh, the look on her face when Ackbar told them they’d be handcuffed, that had been priceless.

She was running from him, all right. Only scared creatures ran. What are you afraid of, baby? Feelings?

He wondered fondly what he was going to do about her as he entered his big, empty, funeral home of a house. For the first time in ages, if not ever, he felt pleasant anticipation about a girl.

He’d kissed her today at the orphanage and she’d tasted divine. And she’d kissed him back, despite everything. God, she’d smelled so good.

Maybe tomorrow he could try for more…

His cell phone buzzed, and he was surprised to see it was Snoke calling personally. Ben’s joy subsided as quickly as a wave sinking into the sand.

He answered the call immediately, as it was his turn to take after-hours calls since he’d been busy last week.

Snoke did not tolerate excuses like driving or being in the shower or sleeping. Missing phone calls was not optional. Period.

He wondered what Hux, his partner at the law firm, did to stay on top of Snoke’s constant demands.

“Yessir, Mr. Snoke?” Ben answered politely. After-hours calls were billed at double-rates, so he really shouldn’t complain.

But at Snoke’s next words, any thoughts of money or wrangling Rey into a dark corner and kissing her senseless disintegrated.

“Your girl, your neighbor, it’s Rey Niima, yes?” Snoke’s voice was gravelly with age but still quite pleasant. Ben suddenly realized he hated it.

Ben gulped uncomfortably, “Yessir.”

“She’s the reason you were not available to take my calls all last week?” Something about the man’s tone was oily and horrible. Cold and slithery. Like a creature Ben didn’t want to touch.

“Yes…?” That was a highly personal query. Had anyone else dared refer to the Omega with whom he’d spent a week helping through a heat, they would have received the blade-sharp edge of his tongue. Hux must have said something.

“She’s recently been promoted to Detective with City Police,” Snoke informed him.

Ben’s stomach dropped to his feet. Dammit, what?

“Sir?” Ben prodded very quietly, trying to keep his voice even against the panic blooming in his throat. No.

“I need you to do something for me, boy. And you will do it. I’m calling in my favor…”

Ben went ice-cold.

Oh, no. 


Recently at Mos Eisley Cantina...

Finn slides back into the booth after Rey excuses herself to the ladies’ room. He takes a deep breath.

Ben waits for more ill-disguised insults to flow from the impressively quick-witted Alpha across from him, but none come.

Instead, Finn sips his drink and mutters, “Actually, meeting you is a huge relief.”

What? Is this a game? Some change of tactic meant to disarm me?

Ben waits for the other shoe to drop, not fooled for a minute. “Why is that, doctor?” he sneers acidly.

“You are exactly what she says you are. A tenacious, cunning asshole who drives her crazy.”

Well. That’s pretty accurate, actually.

“Um…thank you? Should I say likewise?” Ben replies, more surprised than angered. He’s been called far worse. “Why does it make you relieved?”

“Because. I know your little secret. You want her. You’re half in love with her, aren’t you?” Finn drops this tidbit casually as if everyone knows.

Ben clenches his jaw. Is it that fucking obvious? Fuck.

Finn regards him for a few seconds and Ben feels a momentary respect at the other man’s ability to keep his features from revealing a damn thing.

“I’ve been listening to her talk about you for the past year, Solo. And don’t tell me you couldn’t catch her scent just now.”

Ben chokes on his drink.

He had scented her. She’d been aroused and adorably flustered after he’d quite pointedly asked her about the handcuffs.

Why aren’t your hackles up, kid? I am about ready to beat the crap out of you.

He glares at Finn, unreasonably furious at him for mentioning Rey in such a personal way. Although he really didn’t have the right to be upset…

Finn regards him calmly, openly assessing Ben as if he is up for public inspection.

Finally, Finn says bluntly, “I’m leaving. I’ve put it off for over a year, but I’m taking a job at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, and it’s going to be damned near impossible for me to keep a close eye on Rey from the West Coast.”

Ben holds himself quiet, knowing silence often invites confession more effectively than sharply-pointed questioning. His plans to get thoroughly drunk this evening have miraculously dissolved at Finn’s pronouncement.

Ben nods. Go on.

Finn holds his gaze with a touch of steel and Ben finds himself meeting it, not with rage as he would have expected. But with mutual respect.

“Rey is something special. She’s my dearest friend and one of the few people I’ve ever known who deserves the world. And she deserves to be with someone she loves with her whole heart. And if she hasn’t fallen for me by now, she’s never going to. It would be unfair for me to stick around and keep her from finding what she needs.”

Ben lets that sink in.

“That’s remarkably unselfish of you,” Ben says in a deceptively calm tone, still not fully trusting what is happening here.

“I deserve the same as she does, Solo.” Finn’s eyes are hard. He is unfazed by Ben’s indirect cross-examination. “It does neither of us any good for me to keep putting off my own goals and dreams. I wonder sometimes if I haven’t been enabling her to stay stuck in her comfort zone.”

Finn seems to have a very strong grip on the situation, whereas Ben feels uncomfortably as if he is treading unfamiliar waters. He doesn’t let it show.

Finn smiles at him, genuine for the first time, and Ben feels an unwanted liking for the man. If Finn is worried about Rey, that’s as it should be…but this Alpha is hinting he’s stepping out of the picture altogether, leaving the way free and clear for Ben.

It is both an intoxicating and alarming prospect. For the first time in his adult life, Ben feels a rush of something frighteningly close to hope, followed by a strong surge of anxiety.

Ben had been forced to work next to her for the past ten days, nine of them under the cloud of Snoke’s so-called favor.

He needed to figure out what to do, and he’d distanced himself the way he always did, with petty words and a standoffish attitude. Since Snoke’s call, he knew he’d been a complete asshole…but Asshole was and always would be his best and most reliable defense.

Until tonight, when they’d been in Maz’s kitchen and she’d been looking at him and he almost just spilled everything out, right then and there.

He’d been ready to say fuck it to everything.

Fuck Snoke.

But then the other guy had shown up, and Ben could clearly see she had feelings for him by the way her eyes lit up.

Ben was an emotional wreck and unreasonably jealous. He went to the bar, hoping to drown his sorrows, except…

When Rey and Finn had entered the bar, the sight of Finn’s hands on her had sent Ben even further into jealous, possessive Alpha mode.

He has no right to her. For so many reasons.

He can’t forget Snoke’s orders, either.

“You’re her best friend,” Ben states quietly before taking a sip of bourbon to distract himself from that last thought. “Leaving is either going to break her heart or make her follow you.”

“Nah, she won’t follow. She worked too damn hard to get where she is.” Ben shifts guiltily at the reminder of her recent promotion and everything it entails.

Finn continues, “She’ll be upset I’m leaving, though. But I can’t –”

He stops and they both take a sip of bourbon.

“She hates my guts,” Ben mutters, coming dangerously close to admitting vulnerability. His feelings for Rey are something he’s barely been able to acknowledge only recently to himself.

Finn flashes him a sympathetic smile. “I think I know Rey pretty well. I’ve known her for a long time. She would never spend so much time and energy dissecting something or someone she truly doesn’t like.”

Ben freezes. What is this guy saying?

Finn continues, “You are all she talks about. Believe me. It’s exhausting. I love her, but…there’s such a thing as too much information.”

Ben wills himself not to blush like a schoolgirl at Finn’s open admission.

Finn says flatly, “She told me what happened two weeks ago. When she was in heat.”

Ben feels a slight flush climb over his cheeks. What, now we have to compare bedroom performances?

“She told me she asked you to bite her,” Finn says bluntly.

“I didn’t,” Ben snaps.

“I know,” Finn replies evenly. Of course he knows. He would have scented it immediately.

“What your point?” Ben never loses the thread of conversation, but he’s grappling, now.

“You didn’t do it…because you knew it wasn’t best for her, even if she was an asshole to ask...” Finn isn't wrong, but still. He shouldn't talk that way about Rey.

“I know,” Ben snarls, imitating Finn. This conversation is pissing him off. 

“So do I. That’s what I’ve been trying to elucidate. You’re half in love with her. And she just needs time to realize you two are perfect for each other. You're both total assholes."

Finn lifts his glass in a mocking toast, "I cannot wait to see how this goes down.”

Ben barely resists the urge to clobber him. But Finn merely flashes a fully-fledged, shit-eating grin and swigs back the rest of his bourbon.

Ben is struck with the sudden realization that Finn’s Alpha posturing is all for show. A test to determine if Ben’s resolve is up to par.

“Anyone ever tell you you’re a damned wily bastard?” Ben huffs.

“If you are trying to compliment my intelligence, Solo, let me remind you I am a brain surgeon,” Finn smirks with an arrogant cock of his brow.

Ben would laugh, but Rey is exiting the ladies’ room and he sees an Alpha at the bar grab her arm as she walks past him. At his scowl, Finn turns around and they watch together as she snaps an angry reply and stomps on the Alpha’s foot.

And every primitive instinct roiling under the surface, the animal inside not brushed and cultivated under a veneer of polite civility, tries to claw its way out of his skin.

That scum is fucking dead.

“I saw it too,” Finn hisses. “You can’t take care of her if you are in prison for murder, Solo.”

Ben isn’t sure he can hear or see anything but a red haze of rage as Rey approaches them with a worried look. She’s trying to downplay what just happened and Ben won’t allow it.

After she tells him what was said, Ben’s vision sort of goes murky and time slows to a near standstill.

Mine. He’s dead. He touched her.

He looks at Finn and sees the other Alpha’s acquiescence. 

He remembers Finn propelling Rey outside.

He remembers approaching the scum who touched her and spoke obscenely to her and made her have to fucking defend herself and, no, that is not how an Alpha treats a lady, ever, period, you fucking piece of shit, do you fucking understand?

Ben is pretty sure he breaks the scum’s nose when he smashes his face into the wall next to the bar. He vaguely remembers the satisfying ‘pop!’ of a shoulder being dislocated, some weak begging, a pathetic haymaker easily dodged and one more head-smash into the wall before the scum isn’t moving.

The bartender apathetically checks the scum’s pulse and assures Ben, from what he can tell, the scum has been drinking all day, went to the restroom and tripped, falling into the wall. A couple of times.

It is very unsatisfying, and not nearly enough of the scum’s blood has been spilled. Ben, still trembling with rage, knows there is no fucking way he should drive right now.

He’s planning on walking home, although it is miles and miles. Maybe he can let off some steam. Think about what to do. Think about what Finn said.

She needs time. She just needs time to realize - 

But when he exits the bar, they are waiting for him. She is waiting for him.

At the sight of Rey, he has a second revelation: Any proximity to her with his blood up like this will absolutely end in lust and sex and biting. And that will trigger another heat, which will send him spiraling into rut, which sounds fucking awesome, except he knows she starts her new job in less than three days and probably cannot afford to miss another day of work.

Not to mention the Snoke problem.

And the tiny rational non-selfish part of his brain left functional reminds him Rey will also very shortly be learning her best friend is moving to the opposite side of the country.

No matter how Ben will try to make it up to her, that will still be hard on her.  

He tosses his keys to Rey and seats himself in Finn’s car, trying to ignore the relief that crosses her face at the sight of him. He wants to crush her into his arms and fall apart and he can't. She has no idea what just happened. 

However, he knows the other Alpha understands exactly what is happening, even if Rey is confused and bewildered.

And what Finn explains on the way home only reinforces the fact that Ben cannot, under any circumstances, allow himself to be near her until he calms the fuck down.

Or he is going to do something incredibly stupid.

Which is exactly what Snoke would love for him to do…

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine –Time to Try Something New

 

About a Month Ago –

Rey Niima is the absolute worst neighbor. Ever.

In the history of irritating, annoying, thorns in his side, Rey Niima outranks them all.

Easily.

Which is why, when he runs the stop sign a block away from their cul-de-sac, Ben is aggravated to see the flash of lights from her patrol car followed immediately by two deafening bleeps.

He wonders if she is even on duty. He’s had a very shitty day. And Niima happens to be at the top of his list of people he doesn’t want to deal with right now.

Especially after her latest insult last month. Couldn’t let me borrow that snow shovel, Niima? I saw it hanging in your garage…

He’d been twenty minutes late to court and Ackbar had completely reamed him for it. He’d decided if she could be petty, so could he. He’d dedicated a ridiculous amount of time over the past month to get her citations overturned.

So, yeah. If she is going to pull his ass over and fuck with him…he won’t make it easy for her.

He glances in the rearview mirror and pumps the brakes a few times, hoping the flashing of lights will reflect his sincere agitation.

He’s impatient to get home and out of his suit. Eat something not from the courthouse vending machine. Maybe read a book and relax for an hour before trying to see if insomnia is going to haunt him tonight, as it does every night.

What's the matter, Niima? Need to issue a few more tickets to meet your quota by the end of the month?

She sits for a few minutes, taking her time. His rage begins to stew like acid in his chest.

He hates waiting – especially pointless waiting on annoying people who –

Don’t lie to yourself, Solo. You’ve been avoiding her for ages. You know why.

He knows she can't stand him.

Which is fine with him. As far as he wants her to know, the feeling is mutual.

…he would die of embarrassment if she ever found out what he really thinks…if she ever knew what he really wanted to do to her.

Because to him, she smells perfect.

If he could personally curate a scent to effortlessly attract him, it would be her spellbinding citrusy-light feminine musk, overlaid with his absolute favorite of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies…and maybe something a little unusual for an Omega: She smells like a challenge.

He can’t really define this last part, he just knows she is a girl who will give him some resistance, enough to make the winning of her all the more satisfying. As if she’s going to make him put in some real effort first before she gives him everything.

Not that it will ever happen. She already has someone to take care of her, and her frosty attitude hasn’t slipped a notch since the day they met.

And that’s been the source of his angst for the past year: The instant they’d met he’d been rude as hell, which had catalyzed them into a back and forth exchange of increasingly vengeful acts, culminating in this very moment, right now.

Well, fuck. Maybe the pro-bono traffic court thing had been over the top.

He swallows the bitter acknowledgment that this is all his fault and steels himself, glancing in the side mirror to see her loosening her nightstick from her belt and sweeping it along her leg.

As she approaches his vehicle, she raps the stick against his car.

Dammit. She’d better not scratch the paint…

He wonders if she caught his speed on her scanner. He’s pretty sure he was going well over the limit.

He waits until the last second to roll down his window, bracing himself against her agonizingly sweet scent.

He dons his mask of indifference, unwilling to let her see him as anything other than what she believes him to be: Asshole lawyer who refuses to put up with her shit.

It has been this way since the day they met. And it has only gotten worse.

“Is there a problem…Omega?” he sneers from the dark leather interior of his luxurious vehicle, impatient to be on his way.

Her gorgeous hazel eyes scan him, and he can’t get a read on her at all. He tries not to stare at the way her uniform gently but distinctively outlines the curves of her breasts and hips under the hideous fabric. He tries and fails not to notice how the chilly air brings a flush to her cheeks or the shape of her mouth or the way the weak winter light softens her skin to appear like velvet.

And then her scent assails him like a blast wave. Had he not been dealing with it for the past year, he would open his door and pull her into his lap and swipe his tongue over her neck until she begs him to fuck her.

But no. She would never do that. She hates him.

“Evening, Solo.” She never refers to him by his designation or his first name…He wonders what it would sound like if she were to scream it when she orgasms. Fucking hell. Pay fucking attention, Solo.

He glances away because her very presence is making him hard.

“License and registration.” Her words are clipped and efficient.

He glares at her, trying for intimidating, but she keeps her cool.

He catches another faint whiff of her and tries not to drool, knowing she’s about due for another heat. Within a week, if I had to guess.

Dammit. He needs to get home.

The scent of her, the shape of her, even her bitchy, stand-offish little attitude are doing things to him, and damn, he’s going to humiliate himself if she doesn’t just hurry up and –

Right. License and registration.

He tries to roll up his window while he digs out his ID and registration, but she sticks her nightstick in, blocking it from going up all the way. So he can’t block her mouthwatering scent and fuck. She’s so damn sexy with that nightstick. He can feel his mind slipping further into the gutter and tries one last time to pull it together.

“Keep your hands where I can see them, please,” she snaps.

The way she’s talking to him is making him fantasize about stripping her right here in the street and showing her who’s in charge. He’d lay her out on the hood of his car and eat her pussy until she begged him to make her come…

He’s pretty sure the neighbors would mind, since they all hate his guts, but still…

"Were you not aware of the stop sign back there?" she inquires, meeting his simmering gaze with a bit of smug enjoyment.

Looks like she’s already got the ticket written up, and he’s not moved an inch. Shit. Why is she doing this now of all times?

“License?”

His license is expired, and he knows it. He hasn’t had time to stop by DMV and renew it. He wonders if he can distract her from noticing…

He shoves it through the crack in the window with what he hopes is an off-putting, “Whatever, Omega…

"And registration?"

"Are you even on duty right now? Or are you just harassing me because you're a poor loser?” he snaps, thinking she might be a little upset about him overturning all of her traffic tickets. Admittedly, it had been rather petty. But he never claimed to be a saint.

He pushes the registration through the crack in the window, too.

...it floats to the ground in the midst of their stare-off.

“Step out of the vehicle, please,” Rey barks in a no-nonsense tone.

He huffs, frustrated, and pushes open the door of his car, muttering, “Harassment…”

“Hands on the hood of the car, please.” He puts his hands on the frigid metal of his sleek sportscar and glares at her with his best quelling stare…

It’s cold and he can see the very faintest outline of her nipples through her uniform. Fuck.

“What exactly are you doing this for? Other than to be a total bitch?” He can’t stop wondering what those nipples look like…

“You should not have an attitude with me right now, Solo.”

“You seem to be the one with the attitude problem, Officer.” He’s snarling-mad, now, and his temper is about to get the best of him.

“Spread ‘em,” she demands, kicking his feet into a wider stance. He rumbles a dark laugh and tries not to imagine spreading her wide and sinking into the slippery-wet heat between her legs. Watching her eyes darken with need…feeling her cunt tighten around him…

“Are you carrying any weapons or needles today?” she hisses, snapping gloves over her hands before patting him down and pulling him from his very pleasant fantasy that had quickly grown into a full-blown debauch…

What does she need the gloves for?

She smells a little bit like she’s getting aroused and he is losing fucking control.

“Still need to get that pussy pounded, Omega? Smells like you just might be getting -” he grunts and chokes back a gasp as she gets a little rough feeling his around his crotch.

Double-fuck. Her hands sweeping all over him do not help with the boner he’s fighting.

“If you’re that desperate for my knot, why didn’t you just say –"

"Shut up, Solo." She’s trying to sound stern, but he can definitely smell her getting turned on.

Interesting.

She moves to pat his pockets, then up to his abs – he flexes deliberately, knowing she’s getting hot and bothered…

"You know my offer still stands...I'd have you drooling and screaming for more in five seconds flat..." He can’t help himself at this point. She’s killing him.

She runs her palms over his chest, across his back and shoulders. She sweeps her hands down to his butt, and he’s sure he feels her tremble.

But she hates him. This bitch is toying with him. Well, he can toy back.

"...fuck that little attitude problem right out of you...free of charge..." he taunts, a little out of breath.

She gives him an extra squeeze.

Oh, that was definitely a mistake.

“That was the wrong thing to say to me, Mr. Solo…”

She pulls out her taser.

Aw, shiiiit…

 

Now –

Ben wakes up in a cold sweat. His mind is still groggy from dreaming of the unfortunate incident a month ago, when Rey pulled him over, which culminated in being tasered, arrested, and subsequently tossed into a metaphorical hot frying pan with his so-called worst enemy.

The memory of 1200 volts of electric rage still tingles through him as he drags himself out of sleep.

It’s the middle of the night. He’s home. He’s still dressed, having dozed on the sofa in his den, a room where he spends most of his time when not working or cooking or in the garage doing his woodworking projects.

The pleasant clutter of books on every available surface lessens the austerity of the carved mahogany paneling, ornate crown molding, and ostentatiously painted ceiling. The room was a formal dining room prior to Ben’s residence, but he has no need for formal dining since he never has formal dinners. Or diners.

He tries to untangle his dreams from the prior evening’s emotional roller-coaster. He remembers why he had to storm away before he hauled Rey onto her front lawn and climbed on top of her and...

Rey. Mine.

You are all she talks about.

There is no fucking way he’ll be able to get back to sleep. Not after…

She just needs time to realize you two are perfect for each other. 

He wonders if she’s okay, knowing Finn was planning on dropping the bomb about moving to Seattle.

Ben sits up, recalling his ride home with Finn the night before...

Outside of Mos Eisley, he’d watched Rey turn his car around and head for home. He wanted to purr with contentment knowing she was ensconced in soft, expensive leather, tucked safely behind the wheel of his one extravagance. He was sure she would appreciate the Silencer’s smooth handling and powerful engine.

He wanted her in his space, his world, sharing his possessions.

He wanted her there, surrounded by his scent. He hoped she might realize, even if only in some vague corner of her mind, he can afford expensive things and give them to her. He can provide, give her anything she wants.

“She won’t be swayed by material crap, you know,” Finn mentioned, drawing Ben from his musings. Ben gritted his teeth, annoyed at being so easily read.

“She’s not like other Omegas. She’s worked ten times harder to prove herself against tough odds. In college, they used to call her The Scavenger because she signed up for every extra credit project she could get her hands on. She’d argue every point and scrape together every scholarship dollar she could… In Police Academy, she worked her ass off next to other Alphas and Betas. She was the only Omega in her class. And she graduated at the very top.”

In spite of his roiling emotions, Ben felt a surge of pride for her. He scrambled for a semblance of an answer, some reply that might keep Finn talking. “Ah. That’s why she overreacted when I told her detective work was dangerous…”

Finn nodded. “I told her the same thing.”

Ben surreptitiously scanned the Alpha next to him, saying ruefully, “She doesn’t need an asshole like me in her life.”

Finn replied, “As I mentioned earlier, and as I’m sure you well know, if what she’s told me over the past year is accurate, she can be a bit of a handful. She needs…someone who won’t put up with her bullshit and who will still treat her like a princess.”

No, you’re wrong, Ben thought. Not a princess. A warrior-queen.

Finn went on, “She’ll probably kill me if she knew I told you this, but...” Finn paused, and Ben, still riled up from the events of the evening leaving him feeling unsatisfactorily vengeful, glared at him.

“Tell me.” His tone may have been laced with authority, but it did not trigger the usual response of instant obedience Ben had grown accustomed to. Fucking Alphas.

Finn drove for a few long minutes, following Rey in the car ahead and remaining supremely unconcerned at the volatile rage bubbling out of his passenger.

Finally, Finn spoke, and Ben listened, fuming. “Rey grew up in the system. She was sold off for drug money when she was four and found abandoned in a locked car a few days later. She did not have an easy time in her foster homes, and things got worse when she presented as an Omega. Her foster families were Betas, for obvious reasons, but they were not sympathetic, and she basically had to…figure it out on her own.”

Molten-hot rage poured into Ben at the idea of Rey, his Rey, being sold. For drug money.

Wrath threatened to choke him, and he had no means to unleash it, no venue in which he might direct his anger. He wanted to kill somebody or smash something. He briefly considered asking Finn to turn around, so he could finish beating the ever-living fuck out of the Alpha back at Mos Eisley.

Finn wisely kept driving and gave Ben time to process.

They were getting close to arriving back home.

Fresh anger filled him as he considered the second half of Finn's revelation. What it might have been like for her to go through the turmoil of learning she would be basically a prisoner of her biology for the rest of her life.

Ben had always felt a vague sympathy for Omegas, glad he had been designated by fate to rule the species, not be ruled. And now this privilege had become a glaring distinction, and one with a very personal implication. Particularly in light of Snoke recently commanding him to take advantage of her circumstances…

Ben wasn’t sure why he did it, but the weight of his secret had become too much to carry on his own. And he knew this other Alpha – Finn – was trustworthy.

“I have a problem. And Rey’s been pulled into it.”

Finn looked over in surprise.

Ben clenched his jaw. “You need to know that everything I’m about to tell you is a breach of confidence and it’s totally illegal. And could probably get me killed if…a certain person ever found out I talked about it.”

Finn inhaled. “Maybe you shouldn’t tell me, then.”

Ben swallowed. “No. Someone needs to know. In case. In case something happens. Someone needs to warn her, in case…in case I can’t.”

Finn nodded. “Tell me,” he mutters, echoing Ben’s earlier words.

So, Ben explained. He explained how he’d made a mistake, years ago when he was fresh out of law school.

He explained how the person who knew about it had evidence and had promised to refrain from releasing it in exchange for a favor sometime in the future.

And as much of a relief as it was for Ben to get the heavy burden off his chest, he had never felt so exposed. Trusting people was not his strong suit. But he would do it for her. Because, unless he could figure out a way to fix this, one way or another, he was fucked.

“And now, he’s called in the favor, and I’ve basically been ordered to…have a very public affair with her…” Ben grunted. And take her. Make it permanent and undeniable, Snoke had ordered.

“What?!” Finn snarled in outrage and gripped the steering wheel nearly hard enough to snap it in half. Finn was smart enough to come to the obvious conclusions, after what Ben had told him.

Ben glared out the window, also pissed, although he had no right to be. It was his own stupidity brought about by arrogance and youthful trust that had brought him here. And now Rey was dragged into it, unknowingly. He had no right to be angry when this whole problem was his fault.

“I won’t say anything, Solo. I trust you are telling me because you have a plan to un-fuck this, right?”

“Yeah,” Ben lied. “I just need some time…”

“Good. Because if she gets hurt from being caught up on the middle of this, I’m just a plane ride away. Make no mistake, I’ll come back here and put your lanky ass directly in the ER.”

Ben felt his hackles rising, even though he knew better. Finn was right, and they both knew it.

Finn softened the blow a little with his next words, although it did absolutely nothing to calm Ben down.

“She’s got her own baggage, and I know nobody’s perfect…I just want her to be happy. And in spite of what you just told me…I still think my leaving is the right thing to do.”

A wave of possessiveness rushed through Ben, unlike anything he’d felt before. Mine.

Finally, Ben growled, “When we get back…just…get her inside and…keep her away from me for a little while.”

Thankfully, Finn had done as requested and Ben had distracted himself by combing through dozens of legal books and old case files looking for a way to extract himself from his current predicament.

He fell asleep on the sofa dreaming about her…

She was sold off for drug money…she basically had to…figure it out on her own.

Ben runs his hands through his hair as he tries to get a grip on his outrage over Rey’s past and the impossible entanglement of the present. Abandoned and basically left to raise herself…of course she would take any criticism of her chosen career as a personal insult.

He takes a few long breaths and considers his strategy.

All his life Ben has relied upon shrewd cunning and planning and careful masking of emotions to hide the truth of his feelings, even from his parents, who, although they love him, tend to be a little distant. Wrapped up in their own careers and problems.

Winning Rey's trust is going to be an exercise in restraint. Something with which Ben has much-vaunted experience.

Rey needs a firm hand and an Alpha who would die to get to her. She needs someone who belongs entirely to her and with whom she can belong, wholly. 

But she also needs someone who is willing to let her make her own decisions. Be her own person.

She doesn’t need to be rescued. She’s not a damsel. She’s a fighter. Scrappy, tenacious, and mean as hell when backed into a corner. He knows it. Because he is exactly the same.

Her deepest fear is not being left alone, as Finn implied earlier. She’s been alone and she knows how handle it. No, her deepest fear is the same as Ben’s: It’s betrayal.

Ben knows, no matter how much she begged in the past, claiming her in the heat of the moment would be the most devastating thing he can do, taking the choice from her, using her biology against her. The worst possible treachery.

And as much as he feels the need to go next door, march upstairs to Rey’s room, rip off the nightgown or t-shirt or whatever she wears to sleep, and sink his teeth into the back of her neck, Ben knows if he is to do the right thing, the good thing, he will need to wait.

Not until she begs him to do it. But until she commands him to.

Besides. Finn, for all his understanding, would probably kill him if Ben just barged in and bit her…especially knowing what he knows about Snoke.

What a fucking mess.

If she ever finds out he’s been ordered to take her…she’ll be devastated by the duplicity. Still, Ben knows he’s never wanted something as much as he wants her. But, if he is going to be worthy of Rey, he must wait for her to truly trust him, not just want him.

He sits, head in hands, and tries to figure out how to untangle himself from this clusterfuck.

 

He’s dozed off again for an hour or two and wakes at the sharp rap on his front door.

Fuzzy-headed but having snatched a bit more sleep than he’d expected, Ben groggily answers the door. For all his midnight plotting, he’s woefully short on strategy. Although he is no longer in a killing rage or dangerously close to going feral.

Which is a good thing since Rey stands there. She looks small, and not just because she’s half his size. She looks…diminished.

It occurs to Ben he has rarely seen her like this. As if some of her light has been extinguished, lowered somehow. Dimmed.

She’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and he recognizes his sweatshirt, which she’s holding out for him to take.

“You left this at Maz’s last night. And then again in Finn’s car…”

Ben glances to her driveway and notices Finn’s car is gone.

“He left already?” Ben asks, his voice still scratchy from sleep.

Wrong thing to say, Solo.

Her lips tremble and she nods. Her eyes are enormous, and Ben has never seen a more pitifully distressed person in his life.

He’s seen her cry before but usually because she was spitting mad. Usually because of something he’s done.

An errant tear snakes down her cheek, sending alarm and panic and something else he shouldn’t think about spiking a hot poker into his gut.

She’s fucking crying. Shit. Do something!

“Oh, sweetheart,” he mutters feebly. “Don’t be sad…” Pathetic. That’s pathetic, Solo.

She looks at him helplessly, another tear trailing along in the wake of the first one.

For all his strategizing and plotting and the fucked-up situation with Snoke, he really only wants to do one thing.

Take care of her…

He reaches out but instead of taking his sweatshirt, he takes hold of her forearm and pulls her inside. She doesn’t even resist.

He guides her into his house and closes the door in one smooth motion.

This is either the best idea I’ve ever had or the worst, Ben thinks vaguely. He takes a deep breath, noticing how the scent of her already lightens the entryway, mingling pleasantly with his deeper scent.

She’s blinking up at him like a lost kitten and the hardened shell he’d so carefully constructed around his heart just sort of…melts.

Mine. My Omega.

He sweeps her into his arms and carries her straight to the sofa in his den, his favorite spot. He holds her in his lap and murmurs nonsense words and hugs her while his heart breaks at the wretched sobs that erupt from her as she bawls her eyes out all over his chest.

The irony does not escape him. He’s comforting her over her friend leaving, the same person who unknowingly sent Ben into what he now admits were fits of jealous rage for the past year or so.

And now that problem has taken himself off, moved across the country, in fact, after basically giving Ben and Rey his blessing, or the closest thing to one as can be had for a lonely little orphan nobody from nowhere.

She has no one, she comes from nothing…but that doesn’t mean she means nothing to me…

And although he’s growing uncomfortably aroused at the warm weight of her pressed against him, he’s going to be good and listen and try not to be an asshole for five whole minutes.

See if he can try something new for a change.

Eventually, she calms down and wipes feebly at the tear-dampened front of his t-shirt, apologizing, but much to his satisfaction, making no effort to move out of his hold.

“Don’t be sorry. Of course you’re sad,” he assures her. “You’ve known him forever, right?”

She sniffs and nods, “Best friends for ages. Ever since...” She pauses and blinks at him with eyes so full of lonely despair it’s going to crush him.

“I know. Everybody needs a friend.” I know. I know the shape of solitude. I know the taste of loneliness. I know what it's like to feel abandoned. I know…

“…and then he said it was time for both of us to move on, and he’s leaving for Seattle and,” she hiccups, and Ben’s heart tightens at how cute and precious she is. “I’ve never felt so alone.”

Unable to help himself, Ben kisses her wet cheek, trying not to notice the sweetness of her breath or the way the silky strands of her hair slip through his fingers as he gently tilts her head to meet his gaze.

“You’re not alone,” he insists quietly. I’m here. I’m right here.

Maybe some of his own lonesomeness slips through the cracks in his usual mask, because she sniffles and stares back at him for a few heartbeats before she replies, just as insistently as he had done, “Neither are you.”

And Ben knows at that moment in time, in that instant when there should have been claps of thunder or bolts of lightning or angels’ voices falling from the sky or something, anything, to prove without a doubt Finn Storm was sooo wrong.

Ben isn’t half in love with her.

He is irrevocably, whole-heartedly, and with every fiber of his being, head over heels desperately in love with this girl.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten – All’s Fair

 

He loves her. And there’s no turning back.

She’s perfect. Her scent, her smile, her smart, mouthy, bossiness. Even her flaws are perfect. He loves that she’s always ready for a fight. He loves that she can resist him, that she is completely undaunted by his intimidating persona. He loves the way she flies into a temper at the slightest nudge and with absolutely zero fear of him.

She stands up to him.

She made him move the fence line, even though he’d known it was off the whole time. Sprayed him down with her goddamned sprinkler to get back at him for making so much noise putting the fence up. Talked the neighbor kids out of mowing his lawn and selling him cookies and even tasered him and arrested him. Refused to budge an inch or do him any favors, not even sign for a delivery or loan him a snow shovel.

She tormented him for a year, and then she let him into her house. She let him touch her and fell apart in his arms dozens of times, uninhibited and beautiful and perfect.

And when he acted like a selfish asshole, she threw a lamp at his head and chased him down with a shotgun and shot rock salt at him. She called him a monster in court and kissed him with sweet, gorgeous passion on the dirty floor of an orphanage.

And despite her constant running and avoiding her feelings, she came here today under the pretense of returning his sweatshirt and cried her eyes out.

She came to him. And that means something. Because she recognizes something in Ben that mirrors herself; she knows they belong together, even if he has a feeling she’s going to be stubborn about getting around to acknowledging it.

She’s definitely the One.

Anyone as obstinate as she is will love with her whole heart. And that is what Ben wants, he's decided. He wants it desperately.

The revelation eases him, somehow.

Whatever Snoke is plotting is secondary to Ben’s life-altering need to get this girl to come around to the idea of loving him back.

He will do whatever it takes, and he will succeed. Because he is very good at getting what he wants.

He shifts on his sofa, carefully moving her so she’s not sitting on his very interested dick.

She takes a shuddering breath and visibly attempts to pull herself together. He waits patiently until she is ready to talk.

Finally, she takes up his hand and inspects it curiously. He knows she won’t find scraped knuckles or signs of punching or hitting…He had the presence of mind not to leave any evidence behind, with the exception of the bartender as a witness. And the scum, of course.

Her tongue darts over her bottom lip and she watches him for a moment before saying, “What exactly did you do to that guy at the bar last night?”

“Off the record?” he smirks gently, unable to keep from staring at her mouth.

She rolls her eyes. “Why? Afraid I’m going to arrest you again?”

He grins. “You just love having me in handcuffs, don’t you?”

Her startled amusement warms him, spilling light like sunshine into his heart. She lightly smacks his shoulder and he is nearly overcome with adoration.

He clutches her loosely fisted hand, holding it against him. “Anyone ever tell you how awfully quick you are to resort to violence, baby?”

“Ha! Look who’s talking! What did you do to that guy?” she persists. Stubborn as hell. He loves it.

He grows just a bit serious. “He shouldn’t have touched you. He shouldn’t have been disrespectful. I just reminded him of his place…”

“You reminded him? Pffft. He’s an Alpha. You’re all at the top of the food chain,” she teases, but bitterly.

Ben thinks uncomfortably once again of the privilege and power to which his designation entitles him, although he hates being lumped into the same category as that scum from the bar.

“And so we have a responsibility to maintain order. And justice.”

“Oh, really?” she retorts, growing annoyed. “And how does getting criminals out of jail and back on the streets sit with your definition of justice?”

His jaw clenches against an angry retort. God, she can rile him faster than anyone he’s ever met. She squirms and is back to sitting directly on top of his erection. He wonders if she is doing it on purpose. Part of some sexy-as-hell interrogation technique. Because it’s definitely working.

“Our legal system is built on order and justice,” he says firmly.

“For people who can afford it!” she reminds him.

He really can’t argue with her like this, so instead, he brings her hand to his mouth, kissing the flat of her palm, then her wrist.

“Tell me what you did, and I promise I won’t arrest you,” she commands, although breathier than before because he’s tracing his tongue along her wrist and watching her face…

“Well, first I reminded him to be respectful,” Ben finally says, curling her arm around his neck so he can pull her closer. “And then I smashed his face into the wall a few times, so it would really sink in…and then I tried to break his arm, but I think I only popped his shoulder out of the socket…and then I knocked him out cold.”

And then I left before I killed him with my bare hands. I’m a very responsible Alpha, see?

Rey stares at him and shakes her head just slightly. “What if he presses charges?”

“Don’t worry, baby. He won’t.” Ben is positive anyone who behaved the way the scum had wouldn’t be too interested in bringing his reprehensible behavior to light when Ben explains why he’d needed to beat that shitbag to a pulp…His jaw clenches again and he feels adrenaline prickling at him, making his fingertips tingle and his breath catch.

Rey threads her free hand through his hair, lightly scraping her fingernails against his scalp and he wants to moan loudly at how good it feels, an instant soothing distraction.

He hasn’t been this emotionally volatile since…since he was a teenager, he realizes vaguely. And it’s all her fault. He really needs to get a fucking grip.

“Why didn’t you ride home with me last night?” she asks, a shadow darkening her eyes.

“Didn’t Finn tell you?”

She shakes her head and she’s unconsciously playing with his hair and he is going to die from being so good and not just taking her. He wants her and this is surely sending him into an early grave.

“Because if I was within arm’s reach of you, I probably would have…” He stops himself. She’s staring at his mouth. “…done something stupid…”

“Like what?” she murmurs.

“Like this.”

He gives in to the urge to taste her because he cannot help himself. He absolutely cannot resist. Her eyes flutter closed as his mouth lands on hers, her lips cling to his and for just a few seconds, a brief infinity, he is in heaven.

He still isn’t fully sure he will be able to stop himself from taking things too far…Her grip tightens on his hair, and he sits up so he can pull her into him some more, push his tongue between her lips and get more of that delicious flavor.

“Why is this stupid?” she whispers into his mouth and he shudders uncontrollably at the taste of her breath. She has no idea how she’s affecting him.

“We’re not going to do anything more than kissing today,” he tells her seriously. 

“Why not?” she asks, pushing her bottom lip into a pout that strains his self-control to the breaking point.

“Because,” he replies between kisses on her cheeks and nose and mouth, “you are emotionally compromised, and I might be an asshole, but not a big enough asshole to take advantage of you within hours of you learning your best friend is moving across the country.”

And because I’m a selfish bastard. I’m not going to fuck you while you are freshly heartbroken over some other guy, I don’t care if you’re just friends or no…

He’s honest enough to admit to himself that he wants her attention wholly and completely focused on him next time he has her naked and at his mercy. A deep shudder racks him at the thought.

She concedes, but grudgingly. Nevertheless, he needs to collect himself and hustle her out before he does something unwise. He’s still not completely reigned in his rampaging instincts from the previous evening. He isn’t sure if, once that animal is out of the cage, he’ll ever be able to confine it again.

He sits up, positioning Rey so she can stand. He’s pleased to notice her legs wobble before she walks to the door, her hand trailing behind, pulling him along.

She turns and murmurs softly, “Well thank you. For being here and…” Her eyes are huge, and he’s never wanted anything more than to sink his teeth into her right fucking now.

Just a little more.

He backs her against the door with nothing more than slight pressure on her arm. Like a dance.

She sucks in a breath when her back touches the heavily carved wood.

Don’t scare her, idiot.

If possible, her eyes become even larger. No, that’s not it. Her pupils are wide with fear? No. Sadness? A little. Maybe.

But something obscures all else.

Want.

“Let’s have a do-over,” Ben whispers, tracing the back of his finger down the velvety-soft skin of her cheek.

Fuck, she’s so soft and pretty…

“A…do-over?” she breathes, staring up at him.

“Yeah.” He strokes his finger down, stopping just next to the scent gland on her neck. “New rule. Let the past die. We’ll have a do-over.”

She gives him a tremulous smile and it sears into him like a branding iron. “And what are the terms of this do-over?” He loves that she’s clear-headed enough to make at least a pretense of playing along…

He rests his hand lightly at her throat, noticing the delicate tendons and exquisite texture of her skin under his fingertips. The marks he sucked into her neck weeks ago have faded, all but disappeared, and he swallows the urge to immediately put some new ones in their place.

He can feel her pulse going a mile a minute, and he squeezes lightly, making her eyes widen even more, if possible.

You’re mine, little Omega. It’s just a matter of time...  

His blood starts humming in his veins as he crowds against her, invading her personal space with a deliberate shuffle of feet, a careful positioning of himself to imprison her there, against his door. He leans in and breathes her scent.

He is salivating. But he has the presence of mind to say, “The first one of us to break the do-over has to cede something to the other.”

He’s breathing on her neck, and he can tell she’s getting rattled. “O-okay,” she gasps.

Fuck. I want her. I want –

“Hi. I’m Ben. Welcome to the neighborhood…” he licks the side of her neck and warm shivers spill through him at the taste of her.

“Um…Hi…I’m Rey…” she replies breathlessly. “Are you, um, always this friendly when you meet your new neighbors?”

Ben hides his grin against her neck, remembering how friendly he was the very first time they met. When he’d asked her to join him in a threesome and almost dropped his towel on purpose so she could check out his dick…

“Sometimes,” he purrs. “Depends on the neighbor…”

“Oh…”

“So, neighbor girl, I want to renegotiate the property line,” he murmurs against her ear. His finger is gentle as he slides it along the inside of her collar.

She’s flustered, and he can smell it. She blinks up at him in confusion. “What? You just put the fence up!”

Like taking candy from a baby. “How do you know I just put it up?” he croons, nibbling at the impossibly tender flesh of her earlobe.

“Because I watched you do it and it took forever.” She glares at him, just a touch upset. She still hasn’t forgiven him for making all that racket for months.

He grins, and this time he lets her see it.

“I thought you just moved in, Rey, the new neighbor girl…?” he asks softly. His eyes twinkle into hers.

“That’s not what I meant…”

He kisses his way down her neck and tucks his hands firmly under her t-shirt, lightly holding her waist, nearly able to span his hands around her.

“Point of order.”

“What?”

“You just violated the rule, baby.”

“What rule?” she whispers, blinking at him stupidly.

“You mentioned the past, and we were supposed to let it die...you broke the do-over…” he clucks his tongue. “Under the terms of our agreement, you have to cede something to me.”

“You…tricked me!” she laughs, quietly rueful. She’s staring at his mouth and bites her lip and that little unconscious gesture drives him wild.

His hand makes its way down the front of her jeans.

“All’s fair,” he murmurs, pushing his hand into the crotch of her pants. Her jeans are tight. It’s difficult for him to move with his hand wedged against her underwear, but he can feel the heat pouring off her and a slick dampness that makes his head spin.

“What’s the um…?”

He squeezes, slow and soft, savoring each tremble, every shiver and breath. “I think I found something I’m interested in...”

“Isn’t that a bit much for my first offense?” she asks wide-eyed, draping her arms around his shoulders. Still trying to play it cool.

Not for long, baby.

He reaches around and takes a handful of her lusciously-rounded ass, pressing her between his hands, molding her into the hard edges of his fingers until she moans, clutching lightly at his chest.

Hmmm…” he hums, and he bows his head again, drawing the tip of his nose against the other side of her neck this time. She arches, exposing her neck to him and dark, possessive satisfaction curls in his gut. At her wordless invitation, he moves unerringly to kiss that raspy little patch of skin that smells sooo fucking good. He traces his tongue there, teasing her until she’s squirming against his hands and growing hotter and wetter under those jeans of hers…

“Mmmm, damn, baby…you smell like my very favorite thing to eat…” he tells her between laps of his tongue, ardently pressing his mouth over her gland and suckling gently until she quivers and goes boneless, trapped between him and the door and his hands…

“Ben!” she groans… “Oh!”

Her jeans are too tight for him to cram his fingers down further, which is probably a damned good thing. He grunts, slipping his hands around to clutch her hips and roughly press his aching hardness against the soft cradle of her belly, grinding them together in a simulation of sex. Her nails dig into him and he vaguely realizes his arms are shaking with the effort of holding back.

Fuck. If he doesn’t stop now, there’ll be no turning back…

He is tall enough he can tuck her under his chin, feeling the heat of her breath sink into his chest through his t-shirt.

She is most definitely aroused, and he is on the very edge of rationality, brought so quickly to the brink he’s nearly insensate with lust.

“Rey. You should go. Before I –” She nods, and he strokes his finger along the seam at the crotch of her jeans. “You go back home. Okay? Right now. Make yourself come. And next time I see you, you’re going to tell me all about it,” he grunts hoarsely. He presses his face into her hair and inhales as if it’s the last breath he’ll ever draw.

He sincerely hopes she is able to pull herself away because he can’t move.

“Yes,” she whispers, turning and hurtling out the door before he can grab her by the hair and drag her back inside and throw her down and fuck her like a ravaging animal right there on the floor.

He takes a few shuddering breaths and bolts the door with a resolution to stay inside until he absolutely has to leave the house.

We’re not done, yet. Not even close.

 

Rey’s first day at her new job is something of an eye-opener.

The Police Department is located in the same building as the courthouse, which means spotting Ben on court days is a frequent and pleasantly nerve-wracking experience.

While her previous position as a patrol officer also required her to be in the building, she often worked evenings or graveyard shifts, which meant the likelihood of running into her neighbor was very low.

But, now, she realizes she is going to see him all the time. Which could be a problem, since every time she catches a glimpse of his tall, broad-shouldered frame, her mouth goes dry and her heart hammers in her chest and her concentration is utterly destroyed.

If there is anything sexier than Ben Solo in a suit, she can’t think of it.

How is she supposed to think about anything when he’s walking through the building with that loose-hipped swagger and that hair that’s always just a little ruffled and his huge, expensive-looking shoes slapping confidently down on the marble tiles as if he owns everything in twelve block radius? How is she supposed to concentrate when his scent wafts to her and her body knows he’s close before her brain can even register it?

Thankfully she's located at the back of the department now, so there's less chance of her glimpsing him through the wall of windows lining the corridor. 

Previously she had a shared desk assigned to her at the bullpen of cubicles located at the front of the department. Now she has her very own cubicle next to Lieutenant Phasma’s office, which is next door to the Captain’s office.

Phasma herself was recently promoted and took Rey under her wing from the start. Phasma has always been a no-nonsense type, but despite her very tall, ice-blond, intimidating persona, she’s friendly enough.

She seems quite pleased to have Rey nearby, and since Rey now reports directly to the Captain, Phasma immediately points out it would no longer be inappropriate for them to grab drinks and fraternize.

“It’s tough being a woman cop, and we need to stick together,” Phas insists at Rey’s shy acceptance to hang out sometime.

Truer words have never been spoken.

“Thank you, by the way,” Rey tells her new friend. “Judge Ackbar said you spoke on my behalf, er, a few weeks ago.” After the Holdo Incident.

“Oh, for sure. I was surprised he made such a big deal over it. I’ve had a few run-ins with Solo. Wouldn’t have surprised me if you actually had shot him. Although he is quite a sexy thing, isn’t he?” She waggles her eyebrows suggestively.

Rey blushes and Phasma, being the highly astute cop she is, notices immediately.

“Did you really chase him down with a shotgun?” Phasma asks, bright blue eyes sweeping from side to side to check for eavesdroppers. “Naked?”

Rey chokes with mirth at the inquisitive look on Phasma’s face. Ah, what the hell.

“Can I tell you a secret?” Rey laughs, unable to keep it to herself for another moment.

“Um, yes, please,” Phasma returns, deadpan. “I adore secrets. Especially juicy ones.”

“He totally deserved it,” Rey starts.

“So he was naked?” Phasma pries, like a dog with a bone. “Because you two…?”

Rey nods encouragingly. “Oh, yes. We definitely.”

“Really? That’s it. I need to know everything.” Phasma props a hip against Rey’s desk and crosses her arms. “Spill it. I want to know all about the Neighborhood Sex God.”

“Well,” Rey chuckles, meeting Phasma’s intensely interested stare, “I’ve never been fucked so hard in my entire life.”

They both burst into giggles until a sarcastic voice from the Captain’s office cuts through.

“Can you two please find something productive to chatter about? Like maybe catching criminals?”

Rey turns beet red and claps her hand over her mouth in horror, as she realizes the Captain overheard their conversation. On her first day in her new position.

Phasma bites her lips and snorts, mouthing a “Sorry” and “Drinks, later?” before hustling out of Rey’s cubicle.

 

It’s been three days in her new job, and in spite of that awkward moment, Rey thinks she is going to enjoy the more challenging aspects of being a Detective. Phasma seems like a good friend in the making, and Rey is nearly skipping as she heads to the cafeteria to grab some lunch.

She stands in front of the cafeteria’s hot lunch offerings, debating between lasagna or clam chowder when a sexy voice says in her ear, “I’d go with the chowder if I were you…I think that lasagna is leftover from last week…”

A thrill chases over her skin, making her nipples instantly hard as all the tiny hairs at the back of her neck stand on end.

She tells the young man behind the register she’d like a chowder please, and Ben says from behind her, “Make that two, Bobby. Please.” He pushes a twenty across the counter before she can dig out her wallet and she turns to finally make eye contact with him, which she’d been avoiding…

He’s so good-looking it makes her teeth hurt. And he smells sooo divine… She is instantly transported back to this weekend, at his house when he held her and soothed her and pushed her against the door and kissed her until her knees buckled and she knew he’d been on the brink of losing control.

She wills herself to not melt into a puddle on the floor at the idea of him actually…unleashing his self-discipline.

“Um, thank you,” she says. “But you don’t have to buy my lunch…”

“Sure I do, baby,” he smiles, “as congrats on your new job.”

She searches his face briefly for any sign of his earlier conflict over her promotion, but he’s grinning down at her like the Cheshire Cat and he looks so damn cocky she laughs.

“Fine. But maybe you shouldn’t call me that when we are both at work,” she mutters, hoping Bobby the lunch boy didn’t overhear their little exchange.

Bobby appears supremely disinterested, however. Thank goodness. He pushes two containers of chowder on a tray toward them. “Lunch special includes a beverage,” he tells them apathetically, nodding toward the soda fountain.

Ben winks at him and says, “Keep the change, Bobby.”

“Thanks, Mr. Solo.”

Ben takes the tray and Rey follows him to the soda fountain. “That was a huge tip, Ben,” she points out.

“I know,” Ben says quietly. “But, his mom just got laid off a couple of months ago. He told me when I…” He stops abruptly.

“When you what?” she asks curiously.

Ben’s mouth works into a not-a-smirk as he presses his lips between his teeth. But he’s obviously quite amused.

“When. You. What?” she repeats, more insistently this time.

“Uh. When I got her out of the speeding ticket you issued her a while back…” he says, nonchalantly pulling a paper cup from the stack and filling it with Dr. Pepper.

Oh. Oh.

She shakes her head and helps herself to some unsweetened iced tea.

“No sugar, baby?” He’s grinning at her now, and she is tempted to toss her drink on him just to wipe that arrogant smirk off his face.

Instead, she decides maybe taking the high ground just this once is not going to kill her.

She humphs and finds an empty table nearby.

“May I join you?” Ben asks politely. She wonders what he would do if she said no, but decides he’d just do what he wants, regardless of what she says.

Sure enough, he doesn’t wait for her reply, seating himself next to her, instead of across.

He leans close and her heart skips a beat.

“You smell so fucking good,” he tells her in a confidential undertone that reminds her of sex and sweet nothings whispered in the aftermath. He lowers his voice. “Did you touch yourself this weekend? And think about me?”

Of course she did. A few times. She couldn’t stop thinking of him.

But he’s looking at her with his usual supercilious leer and she decides his ego is big enough.

She ignores him and crushes her saltine crackers in their plastic packet before dumping the crumbs onto her chowder.

“My God, you really are a little barbarian, aren’t you?” he grunts, watching her with a shake of his head.

“What?” she asks surprised. “And so what if I was raised by wolves?”

His eyes twinkle at her joke, but something more serious flickers there.

“What about you?” she asks, changing the subject away from her upbringing. “Who raised you?”

He’s still smiling at her, but his expression darkens. He takes a bite of chowder and pats his paper napkin to his lips before he replies. “Actually, I don’t speak to my family. Not for a really long time.”

Rey is rabidly curious about this tidbit, one of the rare pieces of personal information she’s gleaned from him since they’ve met. It occurs to her she knows hardly anything about him. Other than he tends to be high-handed, arrogant, pig-headed, and generally drives her crazy when he isn’t making her think of hot kisses and steamy sex.

She wants to ask why he hasn’t spoken to his family, but Ben continues, “That’s actually what I was going to tell you on Friday. Right before Finn showed up at the orphanage.”

“You were going to tell me you don’t speak to your family?” she asked, unsure how this information would have been relevant to her at the time.

“Yeah. I – most of my relatives are in law enforcement and that’s why I…when you told me about getting promoted...why I might have overreacted,” he explains. Rey is sure there’s more. Her cop senses are buzzing off the scale.

However, the Captain is marching toward them with a thunderous scowl locked on Ben of all people, and Rey sits up straight, instantly alert.

She wonders if they know each other. Ben, being a very famous defense attorney, has probably pissed off all kinds of people in the process of doing his job…

Rey senses some kind of undefinable tension from Ben as he grows very still next to her.

Rey wonders what he possibly could have done to make the Captain look so furious.

“Um.” Rey wonders if she should introduce them. But it turns out an introduction is completely unnecessary.

Rey’s jaw drops as Captain Organa grunts, “Benny.”

Ben’s ears turn pink as he glances at Rey before reluctantly replying, “Hullo, Mother.”

Captain Organa turns her steely-eyed gaze to Rey before glaring back at Ben. “Or should I call you Neighborhood Sex God?”

Rey feels her own blush rise to match Ben’s and she wills herself not to pass out from total and utter mortification.

For his part, Ben remains silent, although the color tinting his high cheekbones creeps down his neck, as well.

Leia looks between the two of them for a moment before turning to Ben. “Amilyn told me what happened…and she says you have yet to return her bathrobe from when you ran naked through the neighborhood and uninvited into her house, Benny. I thought I taught you better manners than that.”

Rey can only sit and stare like she’s watching a train wreck happen in slow motion and can’t do a damned thing to stop it.

Captain Organa shakes her head, assessing their lunches before she heads for the cafeteria line with a muttered, “Shit. The only thing worse than goddamned clam chowder is leftover lasagna.”

Cheeks still pink, Ben picks up his plastic soup spoon and dunks it into his chowder. “Well. Now you know who raised me.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven – Food for Thought

 

Knowing she’s been working for her evil neighbor’s mother for the past year brings Rey’s brain to a complete standstill.

So much has become immediately clear to her. Ben Solo was raised by Captain Bitch herself. Of course he’s a raging asshole. It all makes perfect sense, now.

Because Leia fucking Organa? Yeah. On a good day, she is nothing less than a stone-cold terror.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since she’s in charge of a bunch of cops and she's an Omega, to boot.

Rey understands what it takes to build a career like that, particularly as an Omega.

But Rey senses it would have left other things, things like family and friends, wanting for attention. Especially for someone as sensitive as Ben Solo. There would have been times he would have worried sick about his mother. Had she had parents of any kind, Rey knows she would have felt the same.

Sympathy pours into Rey as she eats her chowder and wonders what it must have been like to have Leia Organa as a mother, working her way up the chain of command in the police force.

Ben mentioned having family in law enforcement, but this? This is not what Rey expected.

Ben hulks silently next to her, eating his chowder as calmly and steadily as if the most embarrassing thing in the world never just happened. The only evidence he was ever rattled is the fading pink on his high cheekbones and a conspicuous lack of eye contact.

But he must sense her surreptitious glances in his direction, because he eventually whispers, “So…Neighborhood Sex God, huh? Where on earth did my mother hear such a thing?”

Rey chokes on her sip of iced tea and scrambles for an explanation. She can’t find anything remotely un-embarrassing, so she tries to change the subject, instead.

“How did I not know the Captain is your mother?” she hisses. Unless Ben Solo was hatched from an egg, Rey finds it difficult to believe her cold-blooded, ruthless boss ever mothered a child.

“Well, tell me how many friendly little chats you’ve had about her family since you’ve started working for her, and that will probably answer your question.” Ben’s right and he sounds bitter. Having a conversation about something personal with Leia Organa is as likely as Rey spontaneously sprouting wings and a tail.

Ben finishes his chowder and pulls a Snickers bar from his jacket pocket, focusing a little too intently on opening the wrapper before offering her a bite.

She declines with a shake of her head. She smiles, trying for a joke. “You must have given your parents quite a dentist's bill what with all the sweets you eat.”

His eyes lighten a touch as if he appreciates her attempt at humor even if he has become uncharacteristically morose at the appearance of his mother.

Rey cranes her neck and spots Leia paying for her lunch. “What if she comes back over here and wants to eat with us?” Rey whispers.

That would be majorly awkward. And horrible. And awful. And terrible.

“She won’t,” Ben assures her. Sure enough, Leia has ordered her lunch to go. Rey sighs in slight relief until Leia walks past with a steely glare. She leans over her son and says low-voiced, “I think it’s time we bury the hatchet. Invite your girlfriend for Sunday dinner, Benny.”

Ben, for his part looks horrified, and Rey has never seen him speechless before.

“Enough is enough. I’m making a pot roast. You’re in charge of dessert.” Ben sighs and his resistance seems to evaporate under the stern gaze of his mother. “Niima, you have sixteen minutes of break left. And then I want your ass in my office.”

Ben seems to prickle at Leia’s brisk tone but remains quiet.

Rey, who is totally used to the abrupt way Leia speaks to her, simply nods and replies, “Yes, Captain.”

But Leia has already turned and is walking away.

For someone barely over five-feet tall, Captain Organa sure knows how to clear a path. People step aside or back out of her way looking at anything but her as she strides through the cafeteria, presumably to head back to her office. Or her lair, as Rey prefers to call it privately.

“Do you think she meant a literal hatchet?” Rey muses out loud. She wouldn’t put it past the Captain.

“It’s possible,” Ben mutters.

Ben glances at his watch and sees Rey has finished eating, for the most part.

“Come on, Niima,” he says, suddenly stern. “You have fifteen minutes of your lunch break left, and I still have to cross-examine you about what happened this weekend after you left my house.”

Rey’s stomach flips over as he stands and courteously guides her from the cafeteria with a very intent look on his handsome face.

She isn’t sure how he does it, but he immediately finds an empty broom closet and shoves her inside without hesitation.

Weak light filters through a small window at the back. The astringent odor of cleaning products underscores the dominant scent in the small space: Horny Alpha.

He barely waits until the door is closed before he threads his fingers into her loosely tied hair and tilts her face for a scorching-hot kiss that weakens her knees and makes her groan with instant, powerful desire.

Ben seems to harness every bit of his own lust and direct it into kissing her senseless. His velvet-soft lips suck and pull at hers until she moans helplessly. She vaguely realizes he’s pinned her against the door with his hips pressed eagerly against hers in a position very reminiscent of this weekend…

He tastes like candy, she thinks, pushing her tongue against his in search of more.

“So tell me what you did after I sent you home, sweetheart,” he coaxes, skating his hands over her clothes as if he has every right to, unerringly finding a pebbled nipple and rubbing it through the satiny fabric of her blouse. She’s slightly grateful she is no longer required to wear a hideous uniform, although she is sure if Ben keeps this up she is going to need to change her slacks.

She smooths her palms flat against the warm linen of his dress shirt, pushing beneath his suit jacket to sculpt her hands over his pecs and wishing they had time to strip down so she can look at him.

She digs her fingernails into him, feeling his muscles flex under her hands.

“…I went back home…” she murmurs, “…went upstairs to my room.”

He hums against her neck and licks her encouragingly and she feels herself clenching with need at the delicious rasp of his tongue.

“…I stripped off my jeans…” He moans against her neck, and she is sure the gravelly sound and the weight of his hands on her breasts will send her over the edge…

His fingers unerringly find her blouse buttons and he’s undoing them quite deftly.

She’s so turned on she isn’t sure she would be able to do it herself. But he’s managed to slide the halves of her blouse open, pushing her suit jacket aside as much as he can around the shoulder holster she’s wearing, untucking her camisole, and grunting loudly when he finds she isn’t wearing a bra.

“Rey, fuck. Are you trying to murder me?” he groans, squeezing and stroking her aching breasts until she’s whimpering and pushing herself against his hands.

He wraps an arm around her and hefts her onto his leg, lifting her closer so she can grind against the angle of his thigh. The friction makes her whimper again, louder.

“What happened after you stripped?” he asks relentlessly, as his tongue slips along her collarbone and she groans.

He’s plucking at her nipples and rubbing his thigh between her legs and how the hell is she supposed to speak right now?

“Tell me,” he commands as he pushes up her camisole and wraps his lips around a puckered nipple.

“Ben!” she moans. There’s no way she can talk when he’s doing that.

“Fuck,” he grunts against her, rapidly unbuttoning her pants and kneeling in front of her, pushing her pants roughly down her hips. He snags her hand and guides it between her legs. “Show me then, baby.”

She moves, feeling her wet slick flesh, his hand gripping hers as she traces her fingers over herself. He’s watching, riveted, and his breath catches when he pushes a finger inside.

He’s being so slow and careful, his face inches away. He gently fucks her with his long, thick finger while she plays with her clit and she’s going to come and she’s sure she has to be in his mother’s office any minute now and…

“God. Fuck, that’s hot,” he grunts.

A shudder racks through her when his long nose nudges her hand away before he slides his tongue in its place with a hungry moan.

His breath heats her swollen flesh and she feels a trickle of slick follow a clenching spasm, almost orgasming right then and there.

He’s licking her, sucking on the tender bundle of nerves at the apex of her thighs, pushing his fingers between her legs until she’s bucking and squirming and coming all over his hand. It’s fast and hard and hot and he grunts muffled encouragement and steadily flicks his tongue against her until she’s gasping.

She’s braced her fists on the breadth of his shoulders and vaguely realizes she’s made a mess, but he’s kissing her and bringing her back down to earth with a few languid strokes and murmurs of praise.

She catches her breath while he casually flicks a handkerchief from the front pocket of his suit and gently and very thoroughly cleans up her pussy. He flashes her a naughty grin as he tucks the handkerchief into his inside pocket and she knows he’ll keep it there, so he can smell her on it for the rest of the day.

“Ben…” she whispers. “Shit.” He doesn’t answer, merely tucks her clothes back into place and zips her pants, standing smoothly before he kisses her while buttoning up her blouse.

She can taste herself on him now, along with candy bar and Ben. It’s a heady combination.

He pulls away all too quickly and breathes, “I have to be in court in twenty minutes.”

“I have to go, too…” she mutters, bemused. She wonders if his mother is going to smell him on her. Probably. It’s rumored the Captain has the nose of a goddamn bloodhound.

“I know,” he says, kissing the back of her hand. “Rey. Would you like to come to dinner at my parents’ house this Sunday?” He sounds so formal but playfulness dances in his eyes.

She smiles, a hint of flirtation twitching her lips in return. “That sounds lovely. And your mother did call me your girlfriend. I would hate to disappoint her. You know how she gets.” Rey’s heart is pounding at the idea. Ben didn’t object when Leia said it…

“Yes, I do. And as for girlfriend…I like it. We should definitely talk some more about that.” Rey’s pulse kicks up again as he grins and checks his watch. “You’ve got two minutes,” he tells her. “Working late again tonight?”

“Yeah…yeah, probably for the rest of the week,” she says quietly. Something is happening here. Something she thinks she might want but is very afraid to admit to herself.

“Can we…talk tonight? I’ll be working late, too, but I can pick up something for dinner, if you want?”

“Just dinner, okay?” she asks cautiously. Her blood is pounding. In spite of what just happened, she needs time to think. She needs space to clear her head. Sleeping with her hot neighbor guy is not by any means going to clear her head.

But she really, really wants to kiss him again. He wants to talk. He wants to bring her dinner. The thought of having him back in her house is enough to send her belly into a series of wild flip-flops.

“Yeah. Just dinner. Maybe some heavy petting. But that’s it. Promise,” he says with a soft smile. Apparently, he can read her thoughts. “Besides, we just met, right?”

He’s referring to the stupid do-over. She shakes her head and turns to leave.

“Rey,” he says, stopping her before she opens the door. Something in his eyes stops her short. Something terrifying and ancient and beautiful. Flutters of neediness fill her chest and she wants to kiss him again. She wants to kiss him forever.

She cocks her head in question, not sure she can speak.

“Please be careful out there, okay?” He’s sincere and obviously trying to cover up the extent of his concern. But she can see it. It flashes across his eyes and she can sense a depth of feeling she’s never noticed before.

She nods and slips out the door before she throws herself into his arms and…she fears she might just be a little bit in love.

 

Ben has an excellent afternoon in court, and he is pleasantly surprised when he returns to the office to find Hux is with clients for the rest of the day and Mitaka has already cleared most of the busy work from his desk.

He decides he will cook something for her, instead of bringing take-out.

This way, he can really show off his skills, so she can see what a catch he is. Maybe deflect her attention from the fact he can sometimes be a major asshole. Or that his mother is a barracuda who would just as soon rip his arm off as hug him. Or that one of the worst criminals around has him on retainer.

A shadow crosses his heart at the thought of Snoke. He is sure Snoke wants to leverage their bond somehow, once Ben goes through with it. Either to get Rey off a case or to tamper with evidence or some such nefarious plan. Ben has worked for Snoke long enough to know the man is heavily involved in organized crime.

Ben hates that he’s ensnared himself in Snoke’s machinations, but he knows a solution will present itself, eventually.

And it isn’t as if Ben doesn’t want to be with Rey, regardless of Snoke’s orders...but he wants to be with her on his terms. Not because some rich criminal is trying to take advantage of him. 

Ben has very little trouble breaking into Rey’s house and wonders if she knows her back deadbolt needs an upgrade. Her terrier Beebee greets him with a friendly wag, and Ben stoops down to pet the little dog.

“Beebee, if your mommy knew you were sneaking off to visit me every night, she would be so pissed,” Ben tells the dog, scratching his head with a grim chuckle.

Ben found the hole Beebee dug and used to escape into Ben’s yard ages ago. Ben is glad his back yard is fenced, and the dog hasn’t fled the neighborhood. Rey seems to adore the little creature.

Ben kind of likes the company, too, so he installed a doggie door in his own back kitchen door. Now, Beebee can come over and visit whenever he wants.

Ben even bought a set of food and water dishes. Just in case Beebee gets hungry.

Besides, Rey works a lot and Ben works from home more often than not. Beebee probably gets lonely.

Ben sets the groceries he brought on Rey’s kitchen island and inhales. He wills himself not to go upstairs and roll around in her sheets or rub her dirty laundry all over his skin or do something similarly creepy and disgusting to get her scent all over him. She’ll be home soon enough and then, if he plays his cards right he can get another taste of her.

He tries not to think about what they did in that broom closet earlier. Their conversation after told him everything he needed to know. She’s interested. And scared. He will need to slow it down a bit. Give her time and space but still make his presence known. They were mortal enemies just a few short weeks ago, after all. And she's not going to be one to trust easily, no matter how he pushes. 

He’s already pushed the boundaries of appropriate by breaking into her house and secretly befriending her dog, so, instead of pawing through her dirty underwear or licking her toothbrush or burying his face in her pillow or rubbing it all over his crotch, he starts chopping vegetables and plotting how he’s going to survive dinner at his parents’ house on Sunday…

Today at the courthouse he’d been playing with fire, but it was totally worth the near-unbearable arousal to get her scent on his handkerchief and remind himself she’d agreed to have dinner with him tonight and again at his parents’ on Sunday. Which is quite something, considering he knows she knows exactly what his mother is like.

He smashes the garlic and leaves it to rest and starts prepping the rest of his ingredients.

 

The rattle of keys at her front door and a sharp yip from Beebee alerts him she’s home, and as it always does at the thought of her in close proximity, his heart starts thudding at time-and-a-half.

“Omigod!” he hears her exclaim as she enters the house. “What is that amazing smell?”

That, sweetheart, is my secret weapon, Ben thinks smugly. Guaranteed to put you in a very friendly mood.

She wanders into the kitchen, completely unconcerned that he quite obviously broke in. She’s packing, he reasons, and he knows from experience she won’t hesitate to shoot someone if she feels she needs to. He resists the urge to run a palm over his right ass cheek where she got him with the rock salt.

He flips the dial on the stovetop to boil water for the pasta and hands her a glass of wine.

“What is that?” she asks again, practically hypnotized by his Grandma Padme’s homemade from scratch marinara sauce.

“That,” he replies smoothly, “is dinner.” Ben stole the recipe card from his mother’s kitchen before he moved out and isn’t remotely sorry. His grandmother passed away long before he was born, but apparently the woman was quite a chef.

Rey looks tired, but her eyes light up at the wine and it’s all Ben can do not to toss her over his shoulder and carry her upstairs to bed.

“No, this is a miracle,” Rey murmurs, taking in the pots on the stovetop and neat little piles of basil and shredded parmesan in her otherwise immaculate kitchen as she sips at her wine.

“Well, I clean as I go,” Ben retorts, moving to stand in front of her so he can kiss the wine from her lips. “I hope it’s okay I broke in.”

She shakes her head. “I’m adding it to my list of your law-breaking activities, so I can pin them on you all at once.”

He grins at her, absolutely captivated by her smile. “Well, then, I’m at your mercy. Maybe I can do something to make up for it.”

She grins up at him and shoots back, “I don’t know. You’re pretty bad.”

Sweetheart, you have no fucking idea.

She sips her wine before he can duck his head and kiss her, which is probably a good thing, since he needs to finish dinner.

“How was your day, baby?” he asks, turning back to the stove.

“Oh, it was interesting as all heck,” Rey replies.

A smug grin crosses his face – he can’t help himself – and he prompts her to tell him about it.

“Well. The morning started out great, but boring. Then at lunch I learned something new about my neighbor guy -”

“The Sex God?” he interrupts with a wicked smirk.

“As a matter of fact, yes!” she exclaims, eyes widening in mock surprise. “Turns out, his mother is my boss.”

“No! What a horrible coincidence. And then what happened?” he prods.

“And then I had a few very interesting moments in a broom closet, and then I was assigned my first big case!”

Ben’s heart starts pounding. Big case. That sounds dangerous.

“Really?” He puts the noodles into the boiling water and wills himself to stay calm. She’s watching him like a hawk and she is actually a cop, so she most likely has all kinds of tricks for reading body language and –

“Yep,” she replies smartly before taking a huge swig of wine. Her eyes are all over him, so he decides to change the subject.

He wipes his hands with a towel and cocks his hip against the counter, putting on his very best smolder.

“Well, you reminded me…we never finished our discussion from the other day,” he tells her.

He can see the wheels turning in her head as she backtracks, trying to remember where they’d left off.

“About why you wouldn’t sleep with me?”

“Did that make you sad? Because I wouldn’t?” he murmurs, trying to get a read on her.

“Well…no. I think I understand why…” She turns red with embarrassment and suddenly he gets it. Oh. How he gets it.

“Make no mistake I want to, Rey.”

He walks over to where she’s perched herself on a barstool at the end of her kitchen island and lightly takes her wineglass, sipping it and savoring the dry, berry-tinged flavor. She’s still watching him avidly, but now with more than a hint of sexual interest.

Good.

“You do?” Her voice is scratchy with untapped yearning and talons of aching want sink into his gut.

“Ahhh, I do,” he murmurs. “But I guarantee, baby girl, next time I fuck you, I’m making damned good and sure I do it in my bed.”

“Oh.” Her chest rises and falls with shaky breaths. “Why is that?”

“Because,” he tells her matter-of-factly, “I want to smell you there for days.” Forever, actually. But days will do for now.

“Oh.”

“Anyhow, I was referring to the other part of our conversation. You broke the do-over and agreed to cede something to me,” he reminds her.

“Oh!” Her cheeks turn a lovely shade of pink, but she holds his gaze steady. “Well…as I recall, I think we needed to renegotiate the terms…I might be willing to cede something, although I’m not sure I can accommodate your initial…request.”

Fuck, he loves it when she plays along with him. Even though he’s going to win every time…he decides to adeptly change his tactics, just so he can keep her a little off-balance.

“Hmmmm….” He peeks down the front of her blouse, knowing full well it’s presumptuous as hell. “In that case…”

He leans in close, not touching her but close enough to feel the heat rising from her skin. Close enough to smell the light trace of sex and remnants of passion from earlier that day. Close enough if he were to stick out his tongue, he could drag it over the enticing little patch of skin on her neck that tastes like Rey and everything he loves.

Mine.

Her eyes have dilated and she’s watching him, almost suspiciously. He wonders if he looks a bit untamed, a bit wild right now. It would just take a pull of her hair, a push of her head to expose the back of her neck, a lick and a bite, and it would be over for both of them.

“Ben,” she whispers.

“I want rights to the Girl Scouts cookies again,” he murmurs in her ear.

“Wha-what?” she gasps.

He bites his lip and worries it between his teeth for a few seconds. She’s watching, and she looks half-starved.

Half-starved. Hungry. Dinner.

Ben drags himself away from her and moves to check the pasta. It’s done.

He drains it, reserving a bit of liquid from boiling to pour back into the strained, cooked noodles.

“Every time I ask Rosie or Paige when they’re selling cookies again, they tell me they’re out,” Ben says sternly. “But I know they’re not. I saw them knocking at Holdo’s door the other day, and she bought a few boxes.”

Rey flushes. She looks guilty as sin.

Ha. I fucking knew it.

“Fine,” she whispers. “I’ll see what I can do.”

He serves her a plate of noodles and sauce, sprinkling fresh basil and parmesan over top before setting her plate in front of her at the kitchen counter.

Apparently neither one of them owns a dining table.

“What is this?” she finally asks, twirling her spaghetti noodles like an amateur.

“What is spaghetti?” he replies, setting a spoon next to her plate so she can…never mind, she’s just going for it, slurping her noodles and making sex noises and fuck, watching her is making him hard as a rock.

She chews an enormous mouthful of noodles and rolls her eyes, “What’s happening with us?”

What is happening? What’s happening is that I’ve fallen in love with you, and I’ve fucked everything up, and I want you more than I’ve wanted anything in my life, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what to do next. All I know is if we sleep together I’m probably going to lose it and just bite you, and then you’ll hate me. Especially if you ever find out Snoke is trying to blackmail me into doing it, probably because he thinks I’ll be able to manipulate you if we’re bonded, because he has no fucking clue as to how loyal and stubborn and good you are. And. Because I want to make you mine without the shadow of that evil piece of shit hanging over our heads.

He licks his lips.

“Well. I think it’s safe to say we don’t hate each other,” he starts. She’s stopped eating and she isn’t arguing, so he goes on. “I also think we have an undeniable physical chemistry together.”

She’s not breathing. Her cheeks are tinted pink. This is a fucking difficult conversation.

“I think one of the reasons I spent the past year being a bit of an asshole -” she interrupts that with a snort and he frowns at her “okay, a huge asshole, is because I…” he swallows. He isn’t ready to declare himself just yet, but damn, he doesn’t want her to think he isn’t interested…

“What?” she whispers. “You what?”

“I want you,” he finally says. The words are stark and plain and do nothing to convey the depth and breadth of feeling behind them. He’s said somehow too much and not enough. “I want to get to know you. And I want to maybe do something that doesn’t involve fighting or fucking or going to court or getting ourselves into ridiculous trouble. Can we do that?”

She nods and takes a careful sip of wine. “Is my job going to be a problem for you?”

Ben swallows, uncomfortable. It occurs to him that his livelihood involves liberating some of the very people Rey spends her days arresting.

His heart pounds at the thought of people like Snoke being turned loose on society to prey upon people like Rey…getting out of well-deserved justice on technicalities and appeals because of people like him. Suddenly he’s feeling rather sick to his stomach.

“We’ll see. Is my job going to be a problem for you?” he retorts, always the lawyer, deflecting and redirecting the line of questioning to suit his preference.

She shrugs. “We’ll see.”

“Do you still want to go to dinner on Sunday? My family can be a bit…much,” he says lamely.

At this, her seriousness fades and she smirks at him. “Are you kidding? A chance to see the Captain in her den? Find out if it’s lined with human skulls? See where she keeps the hearts of her vanquished enemies? I wouldn’t miss that for the world…”

A startled laugh escapes him and Rey smiles, and they both seem glad to have lightened the atmosphere on their own, together.

She takes another huge bite of spaghetti and mumbles, “This is fucking delicious, by the way. You can break into my house anytime as long as you make this…”

He shakes his head and teases, “Baby, as long as you chew with your mouth closed, I’ll make you anything you want.”

She opens her mouth to reveal a half-chewed wad of spaghetti and he sniffs in mock disgust, “Philistine.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve – Favors Owed

 

It’s been nearly three weeks since Sunday dinner at Ben’s parents’ house, and Rey agrees to meet Phasma after work for a few drinks and some downtime before she heads home for the weekend.

Phasma isn’t at the bar yet, but Rey knows she will be right behind her, so she orders a gin and tonic for both of them and finds a table at the back of Mos Eisley.

While there are a few other much nicer bars in town, Mos Eisley is the wretched hive of scum and villainy where Rey feels most at home.

She smiles and remembers the last time she was here with Finn and Ben. How Ben had jumped to her defense and she’d had no idea why he was so protective...

But now she knows exactly why.

Because he is the One.

And the last few weeks have been amazing. The first night he made her spaghetti, and he’d been true to his word. He’d stayed until dinner was done, helped with the dishes, wrapped his arms around her and kissed her almost innocently, with hardly any tongue or anything. And as promised, he’d kept it to just kissing. Which, although frustrating, is also something Rey appreciates.

He’s giving her just enough space to let her think, but he is always there when she comes home from work, usually outside working on his yard as spring begins to make an appearance. Without fail, as she pulls into her driveway each night, he waves and smiles and trots over to say hello, his glorious bouncy stride sending her heartbeat skipping into double-time.

A few times he’s come over and cooked for her again, and on those evenings, Rey finds it difficult to resist the patient watchfulness in his eyes. He’s waiting for her.

She realizes her earlier suspicions were correct and he is more teddy bear than asshole. Now that his soft, low-voiced purr is directed at her with his typical fathomless intensity, Rey finds herself in a near constant state of arousal. However, he still maintains a sharp wit and a competitiveness that Rey knows is a deeply engrained part of his character. She supposes these traits serve him very well in his chosen profession, and he has no qualms regaling her with stories of past conquests and the tactics he employed to win at all costs.

She wonders how much of this story-telling is a deliberate but unspoken promise to her. He’s made no secret of his desire for her, frequently and openly telling her he wants her and what, specifically he wants to do to her. As often as not, Rey is rendered speechless with the colorful and sexy images he puts into her head, usually right as he’s walking out the door after kissing her with a meticulous diligence that leaves her breathless and wanting much more.

The do-over has been a rather fun joke between them. Several weeks ago, Ben commented on “territorial Omegas and their damned property lines” and Rey was quick to point out he broke the do-over. She made him cede something in the form of a favor. He fixed her back-door deadbolt with a smile and a shake of his beautiful dark head, but as he screwed in the last piece, she’d mentioned the power tools he used to fire up at very early hours.

He immediately pointed out that was also in the past, so she’d had to cede a spare key. Which is really a win for both of them.

And then there is Beebee. Ben hasn’t said a word about it, but Rey is a cop and eventually noticed Beebee often welcomed her in the morning smelling of a certain delicious Alpha. When Rey wandered into the backyard and found the hole under the fence, she knew immediately Beebee has been sneaking off…

Ben hasn’t said anything, yet, but Rey has a plan to get him good. Maybe something to get Ben to finally move things beyond kissing…

She knows he wants her, and she wants him. But he seems oddly reticent to move things into sex, despite their history. Even the orgasm he gave her in that broom closet is a faint, fading memory.

She recalls the first time she met Ben and for the millionth time wonders who he’d been with that day. If it had been a random hook-up, or if, like Finn with her, he’d been helping a friend through a heat.

Rey can’t help but be curious, having lost her virginity to her college boyfriend, Finn, after years of increasingly miserable heats that she handled on her own until he came along. Her foster families had zero sympathy for her predicament and barely made allowances for her to huddle into her blankets a few times a year and wonder in agony if she was going to die…

But when Rey went to college and met Finn, they hit it off and she’d been on the brink of a heat and he’d helped her through it, Rey learned to accept that part of her biology.

Rey wonders how Finn is handling his new life in Seattle and reminds herself to call him and check in. And to tell him about Ben…

She has a feeling Ben is exercising monumental discipline over himself, and she thinks she knows why. Because next time…next time they sleep together, he’s going to do it.

Rey has never had sex without being in heat. She knows a mating bite will trigger an unscheduled heat and a corresponding rut in the Alpha…the mere thought of that is enough to send her belly into wild flutters.

The thought of Ben, like that, turned loose on her, near-feral with lust...

Still, she appreciates how he is obviously trying to be noble or gentlemanly or something and actually take some time to court her. Which is heaven.

And slightly hellish, too.

Rey is just starting to wonder if she’s mistaken the meeting place, when Phasma finally makes an appearance, striding on ridiculously long legs to the booth and wearing a long-suffering expression.

Phasma huffs and seats herself across from Rey, immediately reaching for her cocktail and draining half of it before greeting her friend.

“Niima, I swear if the men in our department didn’t have us there helping them, things would descend into the realm of playground antics in two days flat.”

“Oh, no! What happened?”

“Stupid Artoo doesn’t know how to keep the evidence log away from my coffee, is what.”

“Shit,” Rey mutters, knowing if the Captain finds out there will be hell to pay.

“Yeah, spilled it everywhere and we had to rework the last page. It’s why it took me so long to get here…I swear to God if any of that shit is needed and chain of custody gets questioned, I’m resigning before Ackbar or the Captain kill me first…”

“I’m sure it’s fine,” Rey assures her. “It’s not like we ever have ground-breaking trials or anything major around here. What was in the evidence, anyhow?”

“Pah, nothing interesting. I don’t know. Let’s talk about something fun. How’re things going with you and the Sex God?”

Rey’s attention is immediately rerouted to her favorite subject: Dissecting her relationship with Ben and positing with Phasma on when he’s going to make a move.

She keeps her intuition about the bite to herself, though. Some things are too personal, even for girl talk.

 

 

Ben Solo is in love with the most wonderful girl in the world. Everything she does is perfect, precious, adorable, amazing. He is crazy about her.

She smells like heaven and when she smiles his heart practically glows from it.

He’s found the most perfect woman and he’s going to make her his and he just needs to be patient for a little while longer.

He’s sure she feels it, too. She lights up like a Christmas tree every time her eyes land on him…

She is scared. Scared it isn’t real. Scared it’s too good to be true, what they are building together. She’s been abandoned and forced to live a relatively solitary life. She is independent and needs to learn she can trust him. It cannot happen overnight, as much as Ben wishes it would. Aside from her friend Finn, Ben knows she doesn’t really trust anyone.

Although, Ben isn’t too worried about Finn. Finn has taken himself off, leaving the way free and clear.

The only storm cloud on the otherwise wonderful horizon is Snoke.

As if he’s conjured the man just by thinking of him, Ben’s phone buzzes.

It’s Snoke and he really doesn’t want to answer it, but he knows he must, or it will be worse next time they speak.

“What took you so long, boy?”

“Sorry sir…I was –”

“Stop talking. And listen to me.”

Ben takes a breath. He has a feeling this call is going to be thoroughly unpleasant.

“I thought I told you well over a month ago and in no uncertain terms I want that cop, that Omega slut, bonded to you. I am running out of patience.”

“I understand sir, but –”

“No. You don’t understand. That’s my point, you idiot.”

Ben remains quiet.

“Why haven’t you done it yet, boy?”

“Sir?”

“Do not make me repeat myself.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but this isn’t something I can just rush into,” Ben tries again.

And he has been having a somewhat public affair with her, despite himself. Everyone is talking about it. He was half-hoping Snoke would get word of it and leave the rest alone until Ben can figure out what to do. Until he knows what Snoke is up to.

“I don’t care to hear your pitiful excuses. Have you forgotten what is at stake?” Snoke gets deadly quiet when he’s upset. Ben can hardly hear him.

Ben is getting angry, too. “We’re talking about the rest of my life, sir. I can’t just…”

“Just what? Do what nature and biology have dictated for your kind since the beginning of time?”

“I can’t,” Ben argues feebly. He’s a fucking lawyer and this is the best he can come up with? Pathetic.

Snoke’s voice takes on a greasy slither that makes Ben’s skin crawl. “Ahhh. I understand. It's the girl. You have compassion for her.”

Every internal alarm Ben owns flares to red alert. It’s one thing for Snoke to blackmail Ben for past indiscretions, but entirely another for Snoke to insinuate he’s prepared to use Rey as a bargaining chip.

“Sir. No, that’s not it at all,” Ben forces the lie, calm and cool. “It would just help if I had some context as to why the urgency.”

Snoke is silent and Ben wonders for a moment if the call has become disconnected.

“All right. I’ll explain. Your bitch mother has been holding onto a cold case and I want it reopened.”

“Sir. I’m sorry…but what does that have to do with…?”

“Shut up. God, your ignorance is as endless as it is exasperating.”

Ben swallows a mouthful of bitter rage.

Snoke continues, “You think what? I want you bonded to that slutty little cop over something small? Something petty? That I don’t have reasons? Plans?” Snoke cackles and Ben’s nerves are instantly frayed.

“Plans to interfere with police business?” Ben asks carefully, concealing his contempt with effort.

“Think bigger. Think broader.”

Ben is clueless, but he hopes Snoke will expand his answer.

“Tasu Leech and his gang currently control the harbor. Let’s just say new evidence has come to light, evidence that will put Leech and half his gang away for good, if that old case is reopened. And I want Leech taken out.”

“This is about the harbor?”

“Don’t interrupt me again…”

“Sorry sir,” Ben’s reply is reflexive.

“I’m moving some new, very lucrative business interests into town. With the First Order.”

“Sir?” Ben’s breath catches in his throat. This is much bigger than he’d been expecting. The First Order is the largest American mafia on the East Coast. If Snoke wants them moving into town, then it will be bad, bad, bad. Crime rates in the area will go through the roof. The local small-town cops won’t have the resources to combat something like the First Order.

“I need to get rid of Leech and put my pieces into play. And that girl of yours is the key. An Omega cop with access to the Captain of the police force is one thing, but bonded to the Captain's son? She will feed information to your mother. You will control the girl. And I will control you.” Snoke leaves his statement hanging in the air and Ben wants to vomit.

Snoke will never let him go. Ever.

“I could say something, come forward,” Ben rasps, low threat in his voice.

“Don’t be a fool. Say a word, a hint, and you will go to prison where I will have you put down like a dog…and your little slut? Well, she’s a pretty thing. I’m sure I can find someone accommodating to help her get over her grief." Snoke pauses and Ben is filled with raw, acidic hatred. "You know, I originally had planned for Hux to take her, but your recent… involvement with her and your family connections make you a much better choice, or so I thought. Still, I have options. Thinking I won’t use them would be a grievous error on your part.”

Snoke’s voice drips with insinuation and Ben momentarily struggles not to hurl his phone across the room. Ben knows full well Hux is a manipulative snake with the conscience of a reptile, a trait that serves him well as a lawyer, yes, but in this new context makes him decidedly less-than tolerable. Ben’s hands shake as he realizes had Hux been in his place, Hux would have already claimed Rey by now, one way or the other.

“You already have an insider in the department, someone who reports to you.” Ben points out. He realized this weeks ago when he wondered how Snoke knew about Rey’s promotion.

“Yes. And I have other plans for that asset, who I don't want near the Leech situation. If your mother suspects, she will rout me from inside, and put her damned nose where it doesn’t belong. And she will keep that cold case on ice. I want it reopened and Leech put out of commission. And I want my asset in place. Soon.”

“What if the information I spill isn’t enough to persuade Rey to share it with my mother?” Ben asks.

“For your sake, I sincerely hope it is. I trust your skills at pillow talk will be sufficiently convincing to your new mate…”

Ben’s gut churns at the idea of using Rey that way.

“Once your mother believes the girl to be a good source of information, she will be so misdirected by the time the First Order is established, it will be too late. Then, when her spectacular failure is made glaringly evident, she will be forced into an early retirement, and my replacement can step in and take over clean. Without the appearance of being directly involved. The First Order will then be able to operate with relative immunity in the district.”

Ben can’t speak for fear of bellowing into the phone and fucking up everything. 

“What if my mother doesn’t trust Rey? What if she doesn’t trust the information I’m feeding Rey?”

“She already trusts the girl. I know it. And she’ll continue to trust it because you have no reason to lie. Not when your life is at risk. Which it will be. Tread carefully, boy.”

Fuck.

“The First Order is moving in over the next few months. They’ve already begun preliminary…advances. And you need to fully appreciate how serious I am when say my disappointment in you thus far cannot be overstated. If I have any suspicion you are going to turn on me, please believe I will not hesitate to do what needs to be done to ensure my plans are carried out.”

Snoke disconnects the call, and Ben’s mood has gone from vaguely preoccupied to downright malignant. He decides the only thing that will make him feel better is Rey, and since she has plans for part of the evening, he will pop over to her house on some pretense and hang out and sniff her couch cushions and brood until she returns. Her scent soothes him and if he doesn’t calm down he is going to do something stupid. He needs to fucking think.

He uses his key and enters the dim quiet of her kitchen, which has become quite familiar to him over the past few weeks.

Beebee’s nails scrabble on the tiled floor and he doesn’t bark in warning at Ben’s appearance. Ben doesn’t hesitate to lift the little dog and carry him into the living room. Deep in thought, Ben leaves the lights off and seats himself on Rey’s sofa, patting Beebee and trying to assemble some kind of coherent plan under the immense weight of Snoke’s bald threats.

After a few minutes a static noise filters through his troubled thoughts. Ben quickly locates the source – Rey left her police scanner on, he realizes, looking to the side table next to him. He reaches to switch it off but stops when he hears the nasally voice of Charlie Threepio filtering across the airwaves from dispatch.

“…copy that Antilles…shots fired…officer down…all available units to twelve-hundred warehouse district, the old Alderaan building…immediate backup requested…reports of automatic weapons fired in the area…

Ben’s heart thuds in his chest. Rey is off duty. She’s having drinks with Phasma tonight...she’d mentioned it earlier this afternoon when he ran into her outside the courtroom. But if she’s at Mos Eisley, that’s only a few blocks away from…

“…officer down, all available units please respond…shooting in progress…suspects have officers pinned down…backup requested…”

Rey. She’ll have her phone on, and so will Phasma –

He jumps up from the couch and runs for his car.

 

 

Phasma and Rey both stare at their phones at the same time, as they buzz insistently over the din of the bar.

Rey reads the dispatch alert translated to text and hitches her purse over her shoulder, sliding from the booth in sync with Phasma.

“Damn, we’re close, we need to get over there and help,” Phasma mutters.

Rey’s adrenaline pulses through her at the words automatic gunfire. That sounds like the First Order, which she’s been investigating quietly at Leia’s request.

Quietly as in nobody else needs to know.

That day, the day she found out Captain Organa is Ben’s mother, was the same day Leia assigned the case to Rey.

Leia told her flatly she does not trust anyone in the department. She also implied there was possibly a dirty cop involved with evidence tampering.

If brought to light with an Internal Affairs investigation, the mole might be tipped off and never caught; Leia prefers to handle in-house business in house.

Rey, knowing what a huge amount of trust is required for the Captain to tell her anything, has kept things to herself.

But what Rey has found so far in the course of her investigation is not at all to her liking. An increase in First Order activity in nearby counties as well as suspicious activity along the harbor? Her instincts tell her something big is happening. Something bad.

And now this? Automatic gunfire is not typical for a smaller town like theirs. It only confirms something larger and more dangerous is coming…No. It's already here.

They head for Phasma’s car, which is equipped with an undercover siren and strobe lights that Phasma deigns to keep turned off. They are close enough to the warehouse they will likely be first on the scene. Phasma won't want to tip off anyone to their approach until they can be sure the area is secure.

“I only have my Glock,” Rey mutters as Phasma speeds to the site of reported gunfire.

“I have mine and a 12-gauge in the trunk,” Phasma mutters coolly. “I have two extra clips for the .45s in the glove box, so we can each take one.”

Rey doesn’t hesitate to pull Phasma’s ammunition from the compartment in front of her and check her Glock out of habit. Between the two of them they will have a total of forty rounds, plus Phasma’s Remington, which holds five rounds at a time.

Knowing Phasma, the shotgun will be loaded with hollow-point slugs, which are lethal and destructive, especially at close range. 

Still. Going up against automatic fire, Rey feels woefully outgunned.

“Who’s down?”

“Antilles called it in, so must be Piggy,” Phas reasons. Wedge Antilles and Jek Porkins, affectionately nicknamed Piggy, have been partners for twelve years. Rey hopes Piggy is okay. She’s always liked his blustery good-natured friendliness.

Phasma pulls up to the warehouse and parks next to Wedge’s patrol car. They rush to the trunk, Rey providing cover while Phasma quickly removes and checks her shotgun.

Deadly silence hangs in the twilight air. Rey listens intently for the sounds of voices or footsteps, sweeping the shadows with her Glock, looking for signs of movement. She sniffs the air but only catches a faint acrimonious sting of gunfire drifting from the old warehouse on the dock that sits decrepitly over the harbor.

Either the suspects are reloading or –

A hail of bullets smacks into the side of Phasma’s car and Rey’s last sane thought is to wonder if Ben is waiting up for her, as he does every night. Or is this a night when he's planning on surprising her with dinner?

More bullets thwack loudly into the car, shattering glass and exploding the air from the tires, and Rey's training takes over as she bolts for cover.

 

 

It’s over by the time Ben makes his way across town and to the warehouse district. The police have already partitioned off the area with yellow tape, and flashing lights from patrol cars and an ambulance indicate every cop in town is there.

Only pure coincidence puts Ben in his mother’s path before he can duck under the tape and bellow for Rey. He can see his mother talking to a uniformed officer and he jogs up to the tape, lifting it, ready to bend under it.

However, his mother catches sight of him out of the corner of her eye and lifts her hand to halt him from twenty yards away. She’s still talking to the officer, but Ben senses his mother’s acute awareness of him standing there.

He pauses, somewhat reverting to childhood, instantly obedient to his mother’s not-so-subtle command. He frantically glances around for Rey, nearly choking on his panic.

Leia quickly finishes issuing orders and turns to Ben, marching smartly in his direction, flipping the crime scene tape over her head with a practiced motion, and grabbing his arm none too gently. She hauls him to a nearby patrol car and shoves him against the side.

“What the hell are you doing here?” she barks, dark eyes snapping with fury.

“Rey,” is the only word he can get out.

“She’s fine,” Leia bites off, taking in his wild appearance and flaring her nostrils to catch his scent. “If you go beyond that tape, I will arrest your ass for interfering with an official investigation. Ben!

He drags his gaze back to his mother. He’s scanning for a glimpse of Rey. He can’t see her. He harnesses every ounce of control left in him not to shove his way past his mother and find her.

“You should not be here, Benny, especially considering who you work for. Your presence is putting all of us in a very precarious situation…” Leia hisses.

His mouth works around an angry reply before he probes, “This has something to do with Snoke then, is that what you’re saying, Mother?”

“You know I can’t tell you a goddamned thing. Rey’s fine, and you need to leave. Now,” Leia commands. Authority crackles from her voice and if he didn’t tower over her by a good foot, if his own barely-leashed Alpha weren’t chewing its way out of his chest, he would have obeyed instantly.

As it is, he draws a shuddering breath. “I’m not leaving without her. I’ll wait. I’ll wait right here,” he finally says, rebellion flaring inside him.

The fuck I’m leaving. You’re going to have to drag me away. But I’m not going anywhere until I see her.

They are staring at each other, both stubborn as hell and not willing to budge an inch until Rey calls out, “Captain!”

Leia turns at the interruption and all the tension in Ben immediately releases itself at the sight of Rey.

She’s still dressed for work, wearing one of her pantsuits and a plain button-down blouse. She looks disheveled, but she’s moving and talking and his pulse thunders loudly in his ears. Ben has never seen a more beautiful sight.

She’s okay. It wasn’t her. She’s okay.

Rey does a double-take at the sight of him and runs straight into his arms.

Mine.

He pulls her into a bear hug and clutches her to him glaring at his mother, daring Leia to stop them. His arms tremble with relief and Rey is shaking against him, burying her face into his chest and breathing in his scent in great gulping breaths.

He pushes his nose into her hair, eyes still locked on his mother. Rey smells different. She smells like –

“Is that blood?” he growls, unable to control the catch in his throat as he finally searches Rey’s face.

“Not mine,” she breathes. “Not mine. I shot…someone…” He can see she’s going to start crying and his own eyes burn at the sight of her distress.

Leia looks on coolly and finally says not unkindly. “Niima, you gave a verbal report?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Rey shudders, trying to catch her breath. “I’m sorry, I just…”

“It’s fine. I’m putting you on two week’s paid administrative leave, effective immediately. I expect your full written report when you return.”

“Two weeks?” Rey asks, wide-eyed. “But, why?”

“Mandatory when you shoot…kill a suspect in the line of duty, Niima.”

“Oh…”

“First time?” Leia asks shrewdly. She already knows the answer, but Ben knows the question is for his benefit, not Rey’s. He swallows a wrathful comment about his mother’s apparent cold-bloodedness and returns his attention to Rey. She just killed someone. He can’t imagine…

“Yes ma’am.”

Leia returns her attention to Ben. “Benjamin Rian Solo. If you ever arrive at an active crime scene again without explicit invitation, I will personally press charges. Do you understand me?” Ben glowers at her, but he knows she is well within her rights to threaten him with that and worse. Leia waits until he nods once, short and abrupt, but clear enough.

“Rey, you are excused.”

Rey sags against him for brief moment and Ben resists the urge to pick her up and carry her to his car. He does resist, though, knowing any other officers watching might interpret that behavior unfavorably. He was raised by a cop and is well aware of how certain actions are viewed as weakness, particularly for Omegas.

And that would not be what’s best for Rey.

Fuck it. She's mine.

Instead, he murmurs, “Come on, sweetheart. Let’s get you home.”

But, he cannot help but put his arm around her and guide her to his car, so he can take her back to his place and wash the stench of blood and fear off her and replace it with the scent of him. Permanently.

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen – Love Bites

 

Rey can smell the blood on her clothes and she knows intuitively Ben is…volatile.

Ben guides her to his car, politely and almost aloofly holding the door for her, every movement an exercise in restraint. There is no room for additional talking or unnecessary motion. His actions are brisk and efficient as he starts the car and drives them home.

His behavior reminds her of the night he rode home with Finn. As if he is hauling himself in by a tautly-pulled chain, hand-over-hand, with painstaking effort.

From what he’s restraining is the thing sending shivering flutters spilling into her.

She is afraid to break the silence. He is not angry, not at her, but a sinister tempestuousness lingers nonetheless.

His phone buzzes loudly in the silence and he hooks a Bluetooth earpiece over his ear, answering with a gruff, “Ben Solo.”

She’s slightly curious but not enough to do more than listen to his brief, one-sided conversation.

“Yessir.”

“That won’t be necessary, sir.”

“Yes. I’m taking care of it…as soon as possible.”

He glances at her with a dark scowl.

“Yes. I’m aware of it.”

He doesn’t say goodbye or indicate the call has ended, but by the way he roughly yanks the earpiece away, she senses it's over and has disturbed him, somehow.

“Everything okay?” she asks.

He scowls harder at the road ahead and nods shortly, resolute and apparently deep in thought.

She stares out the window, mind adrift amidst his delicious Alpha scent. She inhales, and she is soothed by it, comforted to be surrounded by Ben’s familiar deep muskiness. She looks out unseeing, not really noticing the town’s buildings in the evening light, idly recognizing the familiar suburban landscape as Ben drives her back to their neighborhood.

He doesn’t speak a word, doesn’t even look at her, but she senses his acute awareness of her presence.

She should be in shock right now, she thinks. But her mind seems clear and she wonders if it is a delayed reaction that will hit her later.

I killed a man tonight. Crokind Shand. I had slipped around to flank the shooters, Phasma drawing them off with the shotgun. My clothes were dark enough to hide me in the shadows. Antilles was on the other side, and Shand was sneaking up on him. I ordered him to freeze and he didn’t. He turned and pointed a gun at me. So, I shot him at nearly point-blank range. There was so much blood. I didn’t think…

The look on his face. He was…so surprised.

Antilles was able to subdue the other suspect, the one shooting at Phasma. The suspect was arrested, and he didn’t speak a word after he found out Shand was dead. He just looked at me. His eyes were…

Delphi Kloda. That’s his name. He knew the man I killed, and he looked at me. I should be feeling something, sorrow or remorse or horror.

I killed someone, but all I can think about is to wonder how the hell Kanjiklub got their hands on AK-47s. I think they might have stolen them or gotten them from the First Order.

I killed someone…And Ben was there. After.

His eyes. He was…

She glances discreetly at Ben, who is driving with an almost exquisite precision, and if she couldn’t scent his emotional turmoil, nearly tangible, she would swear everything is fine.

All I can think about is Ben and I’m going with him and he’s holding it together by a thread…

“How did you know where I was?” she asks quietly.

“I heard on the police scanner. I was at your place…”

The neighborhood is quiet when they arrive, lights on and curtains drawn in their neighbor’s homes and Rey can’t believe how normal everything is. She killed someone tonight.

Ben pulls the Silencer into his garage, closing the automatic door behind him. The bright fluorescent lighting overhead is harsh on her eyes when she opens the door and slides from the passenger seat.

There was never any question she was going home with him. Not from the instant he hugged her with near-crushing desperation.

For something as monumental as what is about to happen, the normalcy of her surroundings throws two things into sharp relief.

One. She wants him.

She loves him.

Two. He is going to take her. Tonight. And she is going to let him.

“Rey.” He finally speaks but his voice breaks over her name.

His eyes burn. Before entering his house through the garage, he simply sweeps a glance over her blood-stained clothes and says, “I want you to come inside with me. I want you. And if you want me back, I’m not going to make it easy for you to leave. So if you don't want...you should leave now before–”

She interrupts him. She has never felt so sure of anything.

“I want to go with you. You can take whatever you want. It’s yours.”

And as simple as that, he nods, opening the door to lead her through his laundry room into his kitchen. The kitchen is dark, except for a light on the fridge and the ambient light spilling in from the laundry room through which they just entered.

He stops to ask if she needs anything. He is giving me one last chance to run for it, she thinks wryly, deep flutters of anticipation curling through her.

“Um. Water?” she asks. She is nervous but not afraid.

He nods and moves to the cupboard, every motion economic and unhurried. He draws a glass of cold water from the spout on his fridge and extends it to her. She wraps her hands around his and pulls a few long sips from the glass. She was thirsty.

He’s watching her the way a cat watches a mouse, not taking his eyes off her. He cups his other hand around hers and brings the glass to his own lips. She has to reach up, given his height. She admires the smooth flex of his throat as he swallows. He finishes the last few sips and sets the glass aside.

He watches her appraisingly for a minute. “Your clothes,” he finally says.

She instantly strips her jacket and drops it to the floor. It is covered in blood and the smell is foul.

Suddenly the only thing in the world she wants is to please him.

She sets her Glock on his countertop, checking it first out of habit, then places her belt with her badge and handcuffs alongside the weapon. His eyes flash briefly as she unsnaps the empty shoulder holster from under her arm and drops it on the floor next to her jacket.

I killed someone tonight and all I can think about is the way Ben is looking at me right now…

She keeps going, and he grows very, very still as she begins to unbutton her blouse.

The blood from the man she killed is still wet in places, clinging to the fabric of her silk camisole, which in turn sticks to her skin.

She peels off her blouse, mirroring Ben’s earlier economy of movement with her own. There’s no need to draw this out with coyness. She knows they both want the same thing. The garment falls to the floor, followed by her camisole, which she pulls carefully over her head so as not to get blood on her face or hair.

She ducks her chin to unzip her slacks, then peeks up at Ben. He’s still motionless but for his eyes crawling hungrily over her, lingering especially on the places where Shand’s blood has streaked and begun to dry. She can feel something coming off him, something awfully close to horror as he takes in the gruesome sight.

“Ben. It’s okay,” she assures him. This statement snaps him into action as nothing else has.

“Okay? No. Nothing about any of this is okay.”

In two swift steps he stands before her, inches away. He roughly yanks her pants off her hips, snagging her panties with his thumbs and pushing those down, too, while she awkwardly kicks off her serviceable shoes. He bends her legs at the knee, one after the other, forcing her to brace against his shoulders while he slides her socks off in turn.

He seems…furious now if he wasn’t before.

“What?” She doesn’t understand.

She’s naked and he straightens, looming moodily over her. He strips out of his long-sleeved t-shirt, also smeared with blood from when he hugged her earlier. He’s so tall. He could break me in half if he wanted to.

“You think this is fucking okay. I disagree.” His words are clipped and low, bit off with a deceptively calm brusqueness.

His hand lands on the curve of her waist and his thumb smears over her blood-streaked abdomen, digging in hard along the protrusion of her hipbone as if to make his point. “You are covered in blood from some fucking animal who could have…” He swallows and the rest of his statement lingers between them.

“That’s not what happened. I’m fine –”

His caress moves higher, until he’s lightly cupping a hand over her breast, then tracing up to her shoulder before trailing down her arm to grasp her hand.

“Look. Look at us,” he says softly as he holds their hands up between them, splaying their fingers wide to demonstrate his point. “Look at how much smaller you are. How…defenseless…and...”

She isn’t defenseless, but she obeys his command, regarding the way his fingers outstretch hers by a full knuckle-length, how the width of his palm encompasses her own slender hand, nearly swallowing it. As if to further emphasize his point, he wraps his hand around hers, softly crushing it into a fist before encircling her wrist, easily.

“I'm twice your size. I could take you apart piece by piece, if I had a mind to,” he murmurs threateningly. “If I were a criminal…” He pauses. “If someone wanted to…if I wanted to hurt you, it would be all too easy. That is not okay.”

“Ben,” she replies, “I’m fine. And you’re not going to hurt me. I trust you. It's okay.”

“Do you have any idea what the fuck it’s like to hear ‘officer down’ and ‘automatic gunfire’ and know it might be referring to the only thing in the world you care about?” His breath is coming out in short, harsh pants now, lips trembling. “I’m not okay. This isn’t okay, and you could have been killed tonight. And now…”

He stops.  Rey senses a seething fury escaping past his characteristically vast self-control. He’s unraveling before her eyes and she should pay attention.

“I’m right here, Ben. Nothing happened…”

“Something happened, all right,” he grits out. “Ahhh, dammit…” His nostrils flare and he leans in, close to her ear. “You have no idea what you’re doing to me, Rey. Shhh.”

She shakes her head and sets her hand on his neck, caressing the spot that makes him smell so mouthwateringly like Ben before tracing over his beautifully sculpted collarbone and down to hover over the slab of muscle over his heart. Her gesture soothes him, and something dark and primitive pours from his eyes and off his skin.

“Did you mean it? You care about me?” she asks gently. “Ben…”

She threads her fingers into his hair and pulls his mouth to hers. He kisses her, gently at first, but with an increased urgency that ignites into something hotter in seconds until they are both gasping and panting and trying to devour each other.

“I care about you, too…” she tells him breathily, wide-eyed and sincere, when they come up for air. “I think…I think I might be in love with you…”

He searches her gaze eagerly, unguarded and exposed. “Yes,” he says simply before pulling her against him for a crushing kiss. Her bare chest presses against his and she wants to rub herself all over him until she is saturated with his scent, with Ben. “Yes, I fucking care…” He slams his mouth down onto hers again, hungry and hot and delicious.

“You smell so good, Ben,” she gasps against his clinging lips. “I want you…want you to bite me. Will you?”

He nods and presses her against him, hard and urgent. She can hear the steady thump of his heartbeat and melts against him, arms clinging to his broad, naked back.

“If I take you upstairs…you aren’t coming down for a week. Do you understand?” He sounds firm and authoritative and again she is calmed.

“…yes…”

“How much do you...? Have you been told…what to expect?” he asks in low tones, taking charge and redirecting the conversation into more pragmatic territory. He’s grown serious and seems to have lost the edge of feverish urgency from a minute ago.

She knows the basics. Growing up, Rey didn’t know very many bonded couples, and certainly none she felt comfortable enough to ask for details about the most intimate moments of their sex lives. She’s gleaned enough from her surreptitious searches through the library, through a few curious searches online after she presented as an Omega. Her foster families had been less-than useless in answering her questions or reassuring her or explaining anything. She tried to figure things out for herself and quickly found the available information on a mating bite to be either unsatisfyingly textbook-like or straight up pornographic videos, with outlandish overacting that made the scenes so absurd as to being unwatchable.

She recalls a passage she read from an old health textbook: The hormonal stimulus from a claiming bite outside of a mating cycle will trigger a corresponding reaction forcing the Omega into heat. The Alpha, in turn, will enter a rut, which is the natural physiological response to the proximity of the Omega’s pheromonal and hormonal exposition. Because hormonal compilation does not build slowly, as during a scheduled heat cycle, the ensuing sexual response typically manifests as immediate and dynamic. Side effects may include pain at the site of the bite, weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and fever...

She finally answers, hesitant. “Um. Yes, I mean, I researched it…I was raised by Betas and they didn’t care to…explain much. But I want it. I want you to do that to me...”

He is her Alpha, and he will take care of her, and that is all that matters.

His jaw clenches and his nostrils flare, and she can smell his desire rolling off him in hot waves.

“I’ll take care of you, baby. I just…don’t want to hurt you.” He cups a hand around her face, pulling her gaze into his. Faint color tints his cheeks as he searches for the words to explain, to reassure her. His thumb strokes along her jaw and she turns into his hand, kissing his palm. “You know it might hurt? You’ll be…not like other times. You’ll be…pretty much at my mercy…”

She smiles at the irony of her erstwhile evil neighbor now almost shyly explaining the facts of life to her. After everything they’ve done to each other, this might be the most awkward, endearing moment of her life.

“Yes, Alpha,” she replies, his designation falling from her lips as easily as breathing. She’s never done that before. Not out of heat and stone-cold sober and in full control over her faculties.

“I might not be…as helpful as I was last time,” he mutters almost to himself. “I don’t know if…I don’t know specifically how far gone we might get…”

He’s worried about maybe food and laundry? The mundane details of a heat cycle are usually worked out in advance.

“We’ll figure it out. It’s okay.” She doesn’t want to wait. Not one minute longer.

She swallows any further argument and looks at him expectantly. She meant it when she said whatever he wanted.

“You’ll do whatever I say?” he growls softly.

“Yes, Alpha.”

He squeezes her hip in acknowledgement. His eyes glint with satisfaction and he seems to settle whatever internal debate he’s been wrestling with all evening.

“Good…Omega.”

He lifts her into his arms and carries her through his house, up the stairs and down a hallway to his bedroom.

The room is dark and cool, but his scent is even stronger here than in the rest of his house, delicious and intoxicating. She moans slightly at the overwhelming sensation of being fully enveloped in him.

He carries her into the master bath and sets her on the edge of a large tub. She doesn’t speak, just watches as he turns on the hot water in the walk-in shower and strips out of his slacks and boxer-briefs.

She inhales as his scent wafts to her, and now he’s naked, and she sinks further into the moment. She’s never felt so…present.

He really is a gorgeous creature, all Alpha, without question. His muscles are smooth and defined, an animal magnificence she will never tire of: Broad shoulders, thickly muscled pectorals, long, defined arms, and dark hair lightly dusting his forearms and legs. She is especially fascinated by the scruff trailing enticingly from his navel to his groin.

He isn’t posing, but he stands before her, confident as always, whether he’s wearing a three-piece suit or nothing at all. He gives her a minute to inspect him thoroughly, and a hint of his towering ego, never far from the surface, finds its way into the slight smirk on his face.

The sight of him is making her wet with slick, making her nipples hard and she feels a blush tint her cheeks at her wanton eagerness, even though she shakes her head slightly and smiles back at him.

Cocky bastard.

He opens the shower door, tilting his head in silent command for her to go in.

She obeys, stepping into the steamy water to rinse the blood from her skin. Ben follows, and shuffles around so she is under the spray. He lathers a bar of soap and scrubs it over her, businesslike.

He is neither harsh nor gentle, but he handles her with a familiarity that heats her blood. He’s put his hands on her before, but never so…intentionally.

He might run a soft cloth over his expensive sportscar with the same detached care. She’s peeped through her window blinds and watched him do it a million times, actually. Wash his fabulous car in his driveway, rinsing, scrubbing, rinsing again…

He’s handling her the same careful, thorough way, as if she is something valuable that belongs to him and he is taking good care of it. But although his actions seem impersonal, she knows he is not unaffected.

She allows her thoughts to drift under the firm pressure of his hands, as he scrubs some expensive-smelling shampoo into her hair, careful to avoid her scent glands, which seem to have grown exponentially sensitive in anticipation of what is happening.

He finishes rinsing her down and turns off the water, stepping around to pull a thick towel from a stack nearby.

And then the scent of his arousal hits her, all but knocking her to her knees.

He’s sporting a massive erection, and any thought that her scrub down just now was an impersonal interlude evaporates.

Nevertheless, Ben clenches his jaw and calmly towels her dry, before methodically scrubbing the towel over himself.

“Go to the bed,” he orders. He’s hardly spoken at all.

She obeys, immediately. She is shaking with desire and feels a trickle of slick run down her thigh.

His room is cool and dim light filters in through the blinds. It’s enough for her to see her way to his bed, much larger than hers.

She climbs on, crawling to the middle, before turning around to look at him.

I love him.

He stands in the doorway, framed by a silhouette of light, appearing beastlike in shadow. They regard each other in silence and Rey’s heart pounds under her ribs.

She wants this, she wants him, but this is nerve-wracking. She might understand the rudiments of what she’s read about, but she isn’t exactly sure how this works in reality.

“You know once I…bite you…what happens…?”

Tension snaps between them, sharp and taut, as something deeper tugs in her belly. She drags in a deep breath and realizes these are her last few moments of belonging solely to herself.

She nods and whispers, “Yes, Alpha.”

Her lips part on a faint gasp at the thought, and ever-perceptive, he catches it, biting his own in response.

“Are you sure?” Neither one of them has said it, and yet she knows exactly what he’s asking.

“Yes,” she replies. I want him. He’s mine.

He pulls himself away from the doorframe and strolls to her. He moves unhurriedly, switching on the lamp over his nightstand.

He climbs onto the bed and once again she is struck by the size of him, the leashed power of him.

As if to underscore that thought, he flips her onto her back and hovers over her.

His eyes soften as she murmurs a wordless plea for him to touch her. He crouches back on his heels and parts her legs to spread on either side of him. She's splayed out, wide open, looking up in mindless wonder.

“You’re going to smell like me for the rest of your life.” He grins arrogantly at her and lust drops like a hot stone straight to her core.

He smooths his hands over her thighs, down the outside, up the inside before he scoots down, draping her legs over his shoulders, carefully. He rubs the side of his neck along the smooth flesh of her inner thighs, brushing his scent glands over her in a prelude to ensuring she will indeed smell like him forever.

His hair tickles and his hot breath teases her as he slowly and meticulously drives every thought from her head except him and what he’s doing to her.

“Soooo soft,” he murmurs. He puts his mouth on her, and her vision whites out a little at the slow lap of his tongue, at the sensation of his fingers digging into her legs, holding her open for him, at the way he stops every few seconds and drags his neck over her inner thighs, marking her.

She threads her fingers though his hair and wails loudly when his perfect mouth fastens around her swollen clit.

He hums, hungrily sucking at her and she is lost…ripples of pleasure shudder through her, her hips pulsing gently up into his face, seeking his hot, sucking mouth.

He takes her to the brink of orgasm before stopping, but she understands why this time. He’s not edging her, not teasing her. He’s preparing her for what is to come.

He kisses his way up her belly, brushing the sides of his neck over her breasts until her nipples peak, until she’s practically vibrating with need.

“Are you gonna be a good girl and ask me nicely?” he teases gently, nipping lightly at her breasts.

In response, she pushes him back and kneels in front of him, sweeping her hands over his chest and arms, up his thighs and over the ridge of his hips. His breath catches when she carefully wraps her hand around the base of his cock. He’s looking at her like a cat ready to pounce as she bends to take the head of him into her mouth, licking away the salty wetness dripping forth, tasting his essence with a soft moan.

He clutches at her hair almost hesitantly, no reverently, as she works her mouth over him, eagerly sucking at him, savoring his pulsing-hot flesh…

Finally, he hisses, “Enough. I can’t…”

She doesn’t say anything, but she kneels again, facing away from him. She pulls her damp hair aside, slowly, exposing the back of her neck to him. Deliberately. She meets his eyes in the mirror over the long dresser across from his bed.

She arches her neck, locking eyes with his in the reflection, asking with her body if not her words.

"Now that is very nice..." he purrs approvingly.

She watches as he shuffles into place behind her. She can feel his body heat. His massive hands sweep her hair further aside before skating down her sides to clutch the softly rounded flesh of her hips.

A shiver of fear runs along her spine in the wake of that caress. When he does it, when he bites her, it might hurt…he’ll have to bite hard enough to break the skin. Hard enough to scar.

She draws a shaking breath and he murmurs against her neck, “Don’t be afraid. I feel it too.”

He grips her firmly, pulling her until her back is flush along his chest. A warm forearm snakes around her neck, lightly caging her against him. His other hand slips around to cup between her legs.

She has never felt so safe, so possessed… Her fear of what’s to come dissipates, to be wholly replaced with untamed urgency.

“Ben. I want you. I want you to do it,” she commands in low voice not her own.

His thick fingers part her slippery flesh and she feels his erection prodding at her entrance.

“You want this?” he growls softly against her scent gland.

“Yes.”

“You want me?” he says, more urgently, swiping the flat of his tongue over the spot.

“…ohhh! Yes!” Her eyes flutter closed at the sweet, wet pressure as he sucks on it until she’s squirming in his arms and mewling desperately.

His arm tightens around her neck.

“Look. Look at us,” he grunts. Her eyes snap open and catch their reflection in the mirror again.

He’s huge, kneeling behind her, his legs trapping hers, shoulders dominating her much smaller frame. His dark eyes, now snapping with black fire, hold hers and she cannot look away.

He prods between her legs again and whispers, “Mine. You’re mine, Omega.”

“Yes…”

“This is mine,” he tells her, spreading the slick and swollen lips of her sex. She watches the flushed head of his erection push against her, feeling the hot slide of him press between her thighs.

He bends her forward slightly and drives in with an almost cruel curl of his lip.

“You’re mine,” he says again, and she cannot speak now because he’s taking her, he’s pushing in, making a space for himself inside her, and he’s hot and hard, and she can’t stop watching and he’s watching too as his thick length splits her in two.

She’s trembling uncontrollably, and he grips her harder.

“You like that?”

She can only groan and clutch behind her, digging her nails into the firm muscle of his hips as they flex against her.

“You like that, baby? Doesn’t that feel good?”

She cannot tear her eyes from the shadowed space between her slightly parted legs as he slowly impales her, pulling her onto him with a grunt. Another groan escapes her, louder this time.

He smiles wickedly, watching himself in the mirror as he shifts his knees and jerks her down, hard. He bumps against her cervix with a heavy pulse of his hips.

“So fucking good. Fuck.”

She whimpers, eyes riveted to the sight of their bodies connected and feels a clenching fullness, a need for movement, for friction.

“More,” she demands, arching her head back under the weight of his forearm bearing down on her.

At that he slides out again, nearly all the way, glaring into her eyes in the mirror across the room.

His next thrust is swift and devastating, and she cries out, ragged and broken at the overwhelming ownership of it. His forearm tightens again, and he smiles at her, dark and possessive.

Her breasts bounce against his arm as he rocks into her, watching with half-lidded eyes, teeth catching at his bottom lip, dark hair brushing softly alongside her neck.

She can’t stop watching him, can’t stop looking at the way they look together, the way his huge body crushes against hers, the way her soft curves mold into him, making way for him…

“Tell me how much. How much you like it,” he orders, beginning a relentless series of thrusts that knocks the air out of her lungs.

“…so good, Ben…you feel soo good…” she gasps.

“…yeah?”

“Yes!”

“Are you mine?”

“Yes!”

“…gonna let me fuck you?”

“Yes!”

“Gonna let me bite you?”

“Yes…” At that, he licks her mating gland and scrapes his teeth over it greedily. She grunts and moans as tingles spill through her, making her toes curl and her hands clutch hard into his flesh.

“This is mine?” he mouths against her, against that spot…it’s his, she wants him to have it, needs him to fucking take it…

“Yes!” She’s close, close to losing her mind. “Yes, Alpha!” she sobs.

“Mine,” he rumbles with ancient promise and licks her again. “Mmmmm, fuck, yes…”

His eyes flash to hers as she clenches hard around him…and the arm braced around front of her cocks up, circling around her neck, his fingers thread through her hair and he pulls her head to the side, exposing the length of her neck to him.

He’s gasping in gravelly huffs that heat her skin in time to his fucking, her own breaths coming out in rhythmic whimpers to match him.

He fucks into her hard, pulling her head down and forward into a pose of timeless submission.

“You ready?”

Yes, Alpha.

“…yesss…”

In that moment, she is not just Rey anymore. She is his Omega. She’s going to smell like him for the rest of her life.

He sinks his teeth into the back of her neck with a ferocious growl, and molten fire spills through her veins as she’s instantly hurtled into a heat unlike anything she’s ever experienced before.

It’s as if a rubber band snaps or a glass shatters or a dam breaks.

It’s all of those things and more, as something bursts inside her to be caught up by him. He meets her every bounce with a punishing thrust, spasming uncontrollably as bliss floods through her on a tidal wave of pleasure-pain.

His harsh cry collides into her as his teeth sink in, his mouth pulling and sealing her to him, firmly, leaving her no escape, bending her supplicant body to his will.

It's too much sensation, and slick spills down her thighs, drenching around him and dripping onto the bed below. He grunts, a primal, guttural sound, and she screams as fresh pleasure pulses though her so swiftly and overwhelmingly she cannot draw a breath.

She feels a hot trickle from the back of her neck and realizes vaguely she’s bleeding and it’s good because he’s marked her and she’s his. His tongue swipes over it, hot and wet, and her entire being folds in on itself, pulling him in, too, as she gives over to him.

Mine.

They have the same thought and he slams his hips into hers, knotting her so thoroughly she is rendered immobile. She screams again as he burrows in, hard enough to bruise and hot enough to brand them together, always.  

“Fuck!” he bellows, licking her mating gland again, drawing a ragged shriek of delight from her.

He lets himself go with a savage roar and a bone-quaking shudder…

“Oh, fuck,” he chokes out, “Fuck you feel so good…so good…”

He’s everywhere, all around her, pushing and licking and coming, gripping her hard and pinning her to him, her anchor in an endless vortex.

“…be a good girl…come for me again…” he rasps out. 

He clutches her to his sweat-slicked chest, ardently kissing her neck and her gland and stroking where they are connected, playing with her slippery-wet clit until she shatters around him over and over, until he sweeps her into a newly-shared darkness, an altered eternity.

She’s no longer just Rey. She’s no longer just anything, except his.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen – A Matter of Time

 

“Rey?”

“…mmmmmhhhhhmmmm…”

“Baby?”

“…hmmm?”

“You gotta eat something, baby. C’mon. I brought you a sandwich. And some Gatorade…look.”

“Not hungry…for food…”

She reaches around, still waking up, feeling blindly in the direction of the voice behind her, seeking him. She’s warm, so warm she’s burning up, and she needs –

Her groping hand lands on a hard, hairy thigh and she slides it up, zeroing in with remarkable efficiency on the one thing she definitely wants.

She turns her head to watch him set a plate of sandwiches next to a red Gatorade on the nightstand before he slips under the sheets and pulls her on top of him.

“You have to eat something sweetheart, or you’re going to –” The rest of his statement is cut off with a hiss of air as she leans over him to lick at his pecs, far too glorious to ignore in her opinion.

She’ll eat eventually.

But for now, she needs a taste of him. Just one more.

She kisses her way up his neck and squirms a little as he smooths his hands down her sides, bracing her on top of him.

She nips at the gland aside his neck and he grunts a low moan of encouragement, clutching her reflexively when she starts sucking on the hot skin there.

“Rey…” he growls, bucking under her.

“Hmmm?” she murmurs, biting his earlobe and rubbing her breasts against his chest like a cat.

He flips her over and pins her hands over her head, glaring at her with mock severity. As much as they both like having her on top, it never seems to last long… 

“You need to eat something, baby.” His face is scratchy with three days’ scruff and she wants him to scour it all over her skin, to mark her everywhere so she can see it. 

“You eat something first, Alpha,” she whispers sultrily, hooking her legs around his hips.

He shakes his head and grins. “God, you're bossy…”

He hefts her thighs over his arms and leans back, arching her up at an obscene angle.

He lifts her a bit more and sinks his face between her legs with a ferocious growl.

She’ll eat eventually.

 

 

“I know you like blue, sweetheart, but I only have red. Next time,” Ben promises, setting the empty Gatorade bottle on his bedside table.

He will get her anything she wants. His kiss deepens into a groan, complete with tongue and gasping and clinging to each other until reality fades again and it’s just them in their own little world.

Just Ben and Rey, Rey and Ben, kissing and touching and belonging to each other.

 

 

“Sweetheart? You awake?”

She’s gone boneless, lying on her stomach and he wants her. He threads his fingers through her hair, close to the scalp, and lifts her head so he can see her face.

She’s awake, but wearing a drooly, glazed smile, eyes half-closed.

“…’m awake…”

He slides a hand over the dip of her waist, around the curve of her butt, to cup between her legs.

“I want…”

“Yes, Alpha…”

She cocks her hips up for him and it’s all the encouragement he needs.

She’s his. He can take whatever he wants…

 

 

“Rey?” He kisses her hair, pulling her against him so they can lie close, spooning together in a brief moment of sanity before lust overtakes them again. “I have to tell you something…”

She reaches behind her and combs her fingers through his dark, ruffled hair. She will never get tired of touching him. Ever.

She breathes in their scent, now permanently mingled together. As if he’s thinking the same thought, he kisses the now-tender place at the back of her neck, right between her shoulder blades. That’s his spot, and every time he touches it he’s so very careful, acting as if the lightest touch might hurt her... Echoes of pleasure pulse through her and her nails dig into his scalp.  

He’s mine.

“What do you need to tell me?” she whispers, toying with his hair and half-hoping he will stop talking and kiss her some more.

“I did something. And I don’t want you to be mad…” he starts, kissing her again.

She arches against him, pressing her back into his chest. He feels so good, all warm skin and hard muscle and silky hair…

“I already know everything,” she murmurs.

Ben goes still.

“About Beebee? And how you two have formed a little alliance behind my back?” She turns in his arms to look at him. “Because I figured that out ages ago.”

“You did?” His voice is raspy with surprise.

“Yeah. You know women always figure out the truth, right? Plus, I’m a cop, remember?” She buries her nose against his neck, inhaling his delicious scent now mixed with hers, and a wave of heat sweeps through her.

He skims over her back, lightly dragging his blunt fingernails across her skin. Tingles spill over her and an aching need claws into her belly. For a moment his eyes are dark, almost haunted-looking, but it must be a trick of the dim light in the room because he smiles loftily at her as he rolls her underneath him.

“Was that it?” she murmurs against his mouth.

“I also installed a doggie door,” Ben utters, cupping her face in his hands.

She giggles. “Well…I guess I have to forgive you, since I forgot I owned a dog until just now…”

Ben’s eyes darken, and he frowns just slightly. Just enough to make her wonder if everything is really okay.

She pauses. “Ben. Really, it’s fine. Is Beebee all right?”

“Yeah,” Ben replies hoarsely, “He’s good. Just hanging out. I put on the TV for him…he’s watching Game of Thrones reruns…”

“Ben! His innocent eyes!” she laughs, wrapping a leg around his hip.

“He likes it,” Ben insists before he captures her mouth with his and wrings all thoughts from her head except to kiss him back.

 

A Few Sundays Ago –

If having dinner at Leia Organa’s house can be any more awkward, Rey cannot immediately think of how.

Ben picks her up in the early afternoon, looking unbearably handsome in a soft, dark gray cable-knit sweater that does nothing to cover the finely sculpted muscles beneath. He’s combed his hair, and it still looks slightly damp. There’s something about him, freshly showered and clean-shaven and carrying a bright pink bakery box, that makes him positively appetizing.

For her part, Rey has opted for a simple knit dress – the same one she wore to court ages ago – one of the few she owns that is both comfortable and pretty. And for some reason, she wants to remind Ben of their past…of the last time he saw her in that dress.

Dinner with his family will be a test of sorts, in more ways than one.

When she answers the door, his eyes sweep hungrily over her and she smiles up at him, knowing he is remembering the last time she wore this dress and just precisely how he helped her out of it.

“Fuck, Rey. Do you really want to go eat pot roast at my mother’s? We could always just stay here…” he mutters, taking her jacket from her hands and holding it open so she can slip her arms in.

She chuckles softly and reminds him, “Your mother wants to bury the hatchet. Let’s not tempt her into burying it in one of us. Besides, I’m starving.”

He grunts and leads the way across their yards to his car, parked in his driveway. Once she is seated, he hands her the box that presumably contains dessert, as Leia had requested.

“What’s in here?” Rey asks curiously.

“Cake,” Ben replies.

“Mmmm,” she returns, but her mind drifts to thoughts of work.

Earlier that week, Rey made it to Leia’s office in the nick of time. She knew she probably reeked of Ben after that very intense moment in the broom closet… But Leia simply greeted her with her typical acerbic bluntness and Rey was glad the Captain was all business, not mentioning their encounter less than a half hour ago.

Other than the very faintest flicker of her nostrils, Leia gave no indication she could guess what had happened in the preceding fifteen minutes. She waved Rey into the guest chair across her cluttered desk.

Rey stealthily peered around for pictures or signs the Captain had a family but didn’t spy anything immediately indicative her boss even had a personal life, let alone a son or a husband.

Rey tried very hard not to think about Leia overhearing her call Ben a Sex God while bragging about how hard he’d fucked her…

Fortunately, Leia’s only interest appeared to be discussing Rey’s case load and assigning a few new files to her. One case in particular was to be kept very quiet. Especially from Ben.

Rey’s eyes had flashed up in confusion at the mention of Ben, but Leia simply said, “He works for Snoke and I don’t want him accidentally mentioning anything. Snoke is not connected to this case as of yet, but…my gut tells me he’s involved somehow. Can I trust you not to say anything? Or do I need to assign the case to someone else?”

“You can trust me, ma’am,” Rey said uncomfortably, although she meant what she said. 

The rest of the conversation was mundane until Leia stated baldly she believed there was a mole in the Department. For the millionth time that day, Rey’s heart began pounding hard in her chest as she wondered why Leia was telling her all this. She asked the question out loud, and Leia simply said, “Because I trust you. And you are new enough that you couldn’t be the mole. Things have been happening before you came along.”

Intuition hit her like a brick. “That’s why you promoted me, isn’t it, Captain?”

Leia eyed her grimly before answering honestly, “One of the reasons, yes. But you are also a damned good cop when you aren’t letting your impulsive temper get the best of you. I need you to learn that.”

Rey swallowed uncomfortably, thinking of the Holdo Incident, which Leia obviously knew all about. Not to mention Rey's recent appearance in court over arresting Ben Solo with a taser…

Rey pressed her lips together and wondered how to reply, but Leia was already moving on to the paperwork on her desk, dismissing her with a hint of a smile.

“See you Sunday.”

Ben is quiet on the ride to his parents’ house and when they arrive, Rey is struck by the ordinary suburban-ness of their home, complete with an old basketball hoop over the garage and a few neglected-looking ceramic garden trolls peeping out from behind the slightly overgrown shrubbery.

Rey is nervous, having virtually no direct experience with things like Sunday dinners and families and…she stops, and Ben turns to her.

“I know,” he murmurs, glaring at the nearest garden troll. “It looks harmless enough on the outside, but…are you all right?”

Rey is staring at the front door, clutching the cake box to her chest, rather petrified. She mutters to herself, “I can do this, I can do this.”

Ben wraps an arm around her and rings the doorbell. His scent envelops her and she calms.

“We can do this, you mean,” he says quietly. “Don’t worry. Mom might be a holy terror, but my father is a fucking delight. He’ll love you, I’m sure of it.”

Sure enough, the door opens, and Rey’s fears dissipate at the sight of an older man who can only be Ben’s father. Ben is the spitting image of him but for the eyes, which are all Leia’s.

Instead of a handshake, Ben's father snags the bakery box from Rey, shoving it into Ben’s hands with a cocky half-smile that makes Rey laugh it is so reminiscent of Ben's. 

Then he takes both her hands in his, giving her a brief once-over before wrapping her in a bear hug.

He smells like old, comfortable Alpha and a hint of scotch.

He is wearing a shit-eating grin, and Rey wonders why Ben doesn’t talk to his family.

“You must be Ben’s girlfriend. I don’t know what he did to snag a pretty thing like you, but I’m positive it wasn’t anything he said…I’m Han Solo.”

Rey giggles, temporarily taken aback by the friendly greeting before peeking up at Ben, who rolls his eyes.

“Come on in. I’ll show you around while Benny takes the cake to the kitchen.”

“How did you know it’s cake?” Rey asks, shooting a vaguely panicked look towards Ben as Han drags her by the arm into the house.

“Lucky guess,” Han winks at her. “Come on sweetheart, Leia’s in the kitchen and she’ll be a while. Ben. You should go help your mother.”

“Luke’s not here?” Ben asks.

“Nah. Your uncle couldn’t make it,” Han says, noting the shadow on Ben’s expression before he turns to Rey. “Would you like to look at naked baby pictures of my son until it’s time to eat?”

“Absolutely!”

She follows Han into the den as Ben stares after them with bemused resignation.

True to his word, Han had a small collection of photo albums laid out on the coffee table, and Rey has a feeling they’ve been brought out specifically for her perusal. Much to her delight, Ben’s parents had taken dozens and dozens of photographs throughout his childhood. She giggles with amazement as several of them are indeed of him as a baby, naked in the bathtub.

"He's so little!" she exclaims.

“Don’t know where the poor kid got the ears from, but must have been my side, because Leia and Luke have great –"

“Dinner’s ready,” Leia announces cryptically from the doorway.

Rey glances up and smiles at her hostess. Leia gives her a faint smile and a polite hello before turning and leading them to the dining room where Ben is carving a pot roast at the table.

“How many photo albums did he make you look at, Rey?” Ben asks in his cross-examiner's voice. He looks slightly stressed out, but as if he is making an effort to be pleasant, and Rey wonders if he and his mother had words.

“All of them, and I adored every minute of it,” she answers smartly, sitting in the chair Han holds for her before seating his wife at the end of the table.

Ben looks up briefly and grins at her, giving her a wink before finishing with the pot roast and seating himself across from her. Han takes his seat at the head of the table and Rey is briefly surprised, half-expecting her domineering boss to take the head of the table for some reason. She restrains a chuckle and looks at Ben, pressing her lips together as he catches her look and reads her thoughts correctly. He smirks at her and seems to lighten up a bit more.

Dinner is relatively quiet until halfway through when Leia asks Rey how she had decided to become a police officer.

Rey senses they were all avoiding talking about Ben or their own family’s past, particularly why Ben hasn’t spoken to any of them for ages. Although everyone seems friendly enough for now, Rey senses undercurrents of old history they are all ignoring.

Rey tenses slightly as she explains she had become interested in law enforcement after she presented as an Omega and realized very few Omegas chose that career path.

“…and as an Omega, I can represent others and make real headway, show them anything is possible…”

Ben watches her with an unfathomable scrutiny and Han is staring at his wife.

Leia softens for the first time since they met, and it changes the entire room. Rey has a feeling it is very rare indeed when Leia Organa smiles sincerely, but when she does both Ben and Han relax infinitesimally.

They finish eating and Rey compliments the pot roast.

Leia replies, “Well, I had to make it from memory, since all of mother’s recipe cards went missing right around the time Ben moved out…” She narrows her eyes at Ben, who keeps his face blank. But, the tips of his ears turn pink and Rey knows he took them.

She isn’t sure if she should laugh, so she changes the subject to dessert as Han brings the cake to the table and proceeds to cut a slice for everyone.

“…would have taken more than Luke’s favorite dessert to get back on his good side,” Han mutters to Ben as he hands him a slice.

Ben’s eyes flash daggers at his father.

Rey takes a bite of cake and notes the immediate, palpable tension in the room at the mention of Luke’s name once again.

Ben looks like he wants to flip the dining table over, so Rey does the only thing she can think of, kicking off her shoe and stretching her leg until her foot lands on Ben’s shin.

Distracted, his gaze meets hers as she strokes his leg with her foot. She can’t take things too far – Han and Leia will easily smell any kind of arousal and that would be a faux pas beyond embarrassing.

Nevertheless, Ben grabs her foot and holds it in his hand, stroking the nylon-clad arch with his thumb while he shovels cake into his mouth and glowers at his father for the remainder of the meal. Leia remains very quiet, but Rey senses she is sad, not upset over Ben’s slight display of temper.

All in all, Sunday dinner goes better than Rey expects, although by the time they finally leave Rey feels she's lived through several weeks' worth of dinners. Leia sends Ben home with the leftover cake, insisting neither she nor Han need any inducement into further sugar shock, and everyone departs with civil if not overly-friendly waves and brief hugs.

By the time Ben delivers her to her front porch, though, Rey is exhausted. Getting a glimpse into her evil neighbor’s past and family life has given her much to think about. She finds herself a little annoyed Ben took his family for granted, in spite of whatever unspoken argument stirred old grudges…

Ben pushes open her front door and backs her into the house, using his large body and indefinable Alpha-ness to herd her inside. 

“You have a very nice family,” Rey tells him sternly, searching for a topic of conversation to interrupt whatever is happening…she can easily give in and ask him to come upstairs and…

“Hmmm,” Ben grunts, resting his hands at the curve of her waist and squeezing until she steps closer. Until she is close enough to feel the heat of him through the jersey knit of her dress…until she can smell the spicy-sexy musk of him and her mouth starts to water over it.

His chin is up, and he stares down at her with a haughty arch of his brow. She is wearing heels, and she drapes her arms over his shoulders.

“I don’t want to talk about them,” he intones, low and intense. “Rey. You’re going to have to kick me out. I can’t –”

She cups her hands around his neck, running her thumbs over his scent glands until his arms tremble violently and his mouth slams down onto hers with a groan. He kisses her like he is dying of thirst. Like he is a parched desert and she is water, cold and pure and healing.

His mouth moves over hers, lazily seeking to learn every part of her, his tongue teasing at her lips until she opens for him, then running along the edges of her teeth, pushing his breath into her mouth, taking her over until she is weak and clinging helplessly to his shoulders, until he grips her close, drawing shivers down her spine and faint gasps from her.

He kisses her thoroughly, until her insides are liquid with desire and she can only taste him, until she never wants him to stop. Until she is panting his name and seriously contemplating how to tempt him upstairs to her room. Until she is going to invite him to do something much more permanent in the way of making her smell like him forever…

He groans into her, reading her thoughts, and she is sure he can smell her escalating desire for him…and she decides she could kiss him for the rest of her life, flaws or no. 

 

 

The first time he came downstairs after claiming her, he was so hungry he barely noticed anything but how starving he was. He beelined for the fridge, grabbing a container of leftover pasta primavera, four red Gatorades, and a box of Girl Scout cookies. He stumbled over Rey’s blood-spattered suit, still on the kitchen floor and vowed he would buy her a new one, as many as she wanted so long as she promised never to risk her life again…

That thought made him sprint back up the stairs to find her passed out cold in his bed. Still there. And still his. He set the food on his nightstand and climbed in next to her, carefully drawing her hair away from the back of her neck so he could see it with his own eyes. He hadn’t been dreaming.

He inhaled deeply and kissed her hair, cautiously aware of the place where he’d bitten her, knowing she would be sore and tender for a while. His jaw tingled as it filled with saliva at her mouthwatering scent.

“Ben?” she murmured sleepily.

“Didn’t mean to wake you, sweetheart,” he said, stroking her arm, then her hip as she wiggled against him.

She was burning hot and dripping wet and suddenly he forgot everything as he probed between her legs, pulling her hips back to receive him, pushing into her tight welcoming flesh as they both groaned loudly at the exquisite pleasure…

She was perfect and eager and so beautiful it hurt. He pulsed his hips against her, pulling her roughly against him as he murmured sweet nothings in her ear, feeling her clench around him as he pushed harder inside, staking his claim as methodically and thoroughly as he could. Until she fell apart in his arms, writhing and pleading for him to join her in ecstasy.

 

 

Probably the need to make sure Rey was taken care of helped spur him into doing things like throwing leftovers from the freezer into the crock pot or adding food to Beebee’s bowl or shooting off a hasty text to Hux – he’s going to be pissed at me for taking more time, but fuck it – before running back up the stairs to make sure she is still sleeping, tucked safely into his bed, where she belongs. To make sure he isn’t hallucinating, and this isn’t a wild dream.

It is real, and she is really his, and he has to figure out a way to explain things, but if he is being completely honest with himself, claiming her had nothing at all to do with Snoke’s prompting and everything to do with taking what was rightfully his.

And because they had both wanted the same thing and because his instincts took over. He’d needed to take the most life-affirming action he could in the face of nearly losing her.

At the end of the day, she’d almost died, she’d taken a life to defend her own, and to not commit himself to her, to ensure their destinies would be forever intertwined, would have destroyed him.

She’s mine.

That will always underscore his decision, and he has no regrets for it.

Besides, somewhere in the midst of all this, he’s finally figured out what to do about Snoke.

He knows what he has to do, he just doesn’t know if he has the strength to do it…but for Rey, he will do his best.

He will do anything. He has to try.

No matter what comes next, they will get through it together.

 

Rey wakes in a daze, and blinks into the sun-filled room. Ben is not there, but she knows he will be nearby, as he has been all week.

She had been, just as he’d told her she would be, at his mercy, physically incapacitated by a heat unlike anything she’d experienced before.

Like waking from a deep sleep, she feels slightly disoriented, but she can recall clearly most everything that happened. She reaches to the back of her neck to feel the newly-forming scar there. It is tender, but even the slight sting is not enough to deter her from pressing lightly on it, testing the extent of…damage doesn’t seem like the right word, but for lack of a better one… She presses again, feeling where his teeth had broken the skin, where she will carry his mark on her for the rest of her life.

“You okay?” Ben asks, coming into the room with a tray of something that smells amazing.

Her stomach rumbles enthusiastically, and she wonders if she is hungry for food or Ben. She wonders wryly if a glimpse of her naked mate will forever inspire a near-desperate appetite at the mere sight of him.

She sits up, feeling the stretch and pull of overused muscles from the previous seven days of relentless activity.

Ben smiles softly at her and waits until she is settled before placing the tray over her lap.

“Mmm. What is it?” she asks eagerly.

“Leftover stew I threw in the crock pot,” he tells her, scooting next to her carefully before taking up the spoon and holding a bit to her mouth.

“You own a crock pot?” she snickers.

"Shut up and eat," he grins back at her.

For once she is more interested in the food, a sure sign her heat is over or near enough to being over that she can function on her own again.

She smiles into his eyes, and dutifully opens her mouth, taking a bite of stew. His eyes follow her every move and he is quiet. Almost… sober.

She feels too connected to him, as if his slightest emotion is overwhelmingly obvious.

Something is wrong.

“Ben?” she asks. “What…?”

He blinks, and the look disappears, but she knows he is hiding it from her.

He’s still upset about the shooting?

She presses her lips together as she recalls with vivid clarity the events that led up to her ending up at Ben’s, in his bed, mated to him…

She killed someone. Crokind Shand.

It hits her like a crashing wave, and Ben is watching the emotions wash across her face with increasing alarm.

“Rey. Rey! You had no choice,” he insists gruffly.

Suddenly she isn’t hungry at all. Suddenly she wants to curl into a ball and die. Shame writhes through her as she remembers the look of surprise when her bullet slammed into Shand’s chest.

Nearly point-blank range. He wouldn’t have stood a chance.

“Rey!” Ben lifts the tray off her lap and pulls her into his lap. She’s shaking with horror and humiliation and an emotion she can’t name. Logically, she knows she had no choice, and Shand would have slaughtered her and Antilles and Phasma, too, if he’d had the chance.

Still, she cannot speak, she cannot catch her breath. Tears pour down her face as she sobs against the solid wall of muscle and heat of Ben.

He seems to understand and holds her lightly in his arms until she’s cried out all her tears.

“You tired?” he finally asks when her sobs ebb into spasmodic hiccups.

“Can we…can we go downstairs, maybe?” she finally asks tearfully.

“Of course we can, sweetheart. Do you…do you wanna see Beebee?” Ben smiles tentatively. “I think the little guy misses his mommy.”

Rey sniffs and nods and Ben scoots them to the end of the bed, snagging his comforter and wrapping her in it before lifting her into his arms and carrying her down the stairs.

 

She needs time. I need to tell her, but I can’t…not when she’s dealing with all this other shit right now.

Ben half wishes Shand was still alive, so he can kill him all over again for upsetting Rey by forcing her to shoot him in self-defense.

Illogical, maybe. But, still. Ben doesn’t think he’d be quite as upset over taking that scum’s life as Rey is…

Ben tucks her into the sofa in his den and brings her phone to her. She says she probably should check for messages and let people know she is okay... Beebee runs into the room and hops into her lap with a joyous yip and a frantic wagging of his little tail and Rey beams at him.

Ben’s heart swells at the sight. God, he loves her.

He heads upstairs, throwing on sweats and a t-shirt. He grabs another t-shirt for Rey.

He can run over to her place later and grab her some clothes. Whatever she wants.

Anything she needs, as long as she knows she’s staying with him from now on.

He comes downstairs and hears her talking on the phone.

“…something happened, Finn, and I want you to listen…”

A slight pause. She giggles and Ben’s heart warms. She still has her friend, even if Ben can admit he’s a little jealous of it. Ultimately, Rey belongs to him, and that is all he cares about.

He hands her a t-shirt and remembers the tray of stew cooling on his bedroom floor.

“Be right back,” he mouths, and she winks at him, shrugging into his t-shirt awkwardly while still holding the phone to her ear.

“Yes…and then...”

Ben trots back upstairs to grab the tray and wonders vaguely what they might do this afternoon. He thinks about the steaks he’d pulled out of the freezer and wonders if they’ve thawed enough for him to grill for dinner.

He’s still pondering what else to have with the steak – all the vegetables in the house are long-gone – when Rey’s voice reaches him…she sounds upset…

He hurries into the den and freezes.

“Finn…I don’t understand…”

She’s white as a sheet, still on the phone.

“You’re telling me…he bit me because his fucking boss told him to?” she whispers into the phone, a look of dawning horror on her face as her eyes flash to meet his.

Shit.

Double-shit fuck damn.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen – Enough is Enough

 

Rey holds up her hand as Ben opens his mouth to explain. Finn is still on the other end of the line, after having just asked Rey if she’s okay.

Ben can hear Finn’s raised voice from where he stands across the room.

“Rey? Peanut, I thought you knew! I thought he would have explained everything before he – that son of a bitch! Do you need me to –”

Rey disconnects the call, staring at Ben holding the tray of cold stew and wearing a shocked expression.

“He knew about this? Finn knew?” she asks quietly.

“He knew enough. But, Rey –”

“How long has he…? Since that night? Weeks and weeks ago?” She’s calm. Way too calm.

“Rey.” He’s not even breathing, he’s paralyzed with the fear she will leave him.

He steps forward and sets the tray on the floor.

“You Alphas!” She bursts into tears, and his first wish is to murder whoever hurt her. Until he realizes this is unquestionably his fault. “Always thinking you know what’s best, always taking charge, making sure the little Omega doesn’t do something stupid to hurt herself, is that it?”

“Rey. Stop it. That’s not what this is at all…”

“Don’t even think about coming near me right now or…” Her voice breaks but her gaze is steady. “Where are my clothes?”

She wants her clothes so she can leave. Ben swallows the lump forming in his throat. She can’t leave, she just can’t.

“Rey. Please. You have to listen to me.”

She shakes her head and he knows he’s losing ground, she’s growing more determined with each passing second, scrubbing the tears from her face with the corner of his blanket.

“My. Clothes.”

“I threw them out,” he admits, pleading with everything he has. “They weren’t salvageable, and I was going to –”

“Don’t tell me you were going to…just don’t.”

She stands on shaky legs, wrapping the blanket around herself like a queen. My warrior-queen, he thinks...

“Where are the rest of my things?” Her voice shakes, and he can smell her pain across their newly-forged bond. She hates him, and he wants to die.

“Please. Rey.” Something awful is climbing up his windpipe, something remarkably close to tears of his own.

She shakes her head again, and walks away, into the kitchen, presumably to look for her gun and badge and…

She is pale as a sheet and moving, now. She intends to take her things and leave. “Why did you do it? Why that night? The night I killed…him?”

Ben’s heart starts kicking hard inside his chest.

“The night I picked you up, I got a phone call,” he begins. It’s still too dangerous for her to know everything. He must warn her, though. “Rey. He’s got plans, but I’m trying to…I have a way to take care of this, but not until…”

“Not until what?” she prods.

He shakes his head, refusing to answer. Telling her everything he knows will put a bulls-eye on her back and get her killed as surely as if he pulls the trigger himself. But until he can take certain steps, he can’t risk telling her everything. He won’t.

He’d stashed her things on top of the fridge for safekeeping, so he follows her into the kitchen.

“Won’t you please listen to me? There’s more to this than you know.” He’s begging now, desperate to keep her here. He reaches out to touch her, to stop the inevitable. She whirls on him so quickly he halts so he doesn’t slam into her. The fury in her eyes backs him off a step.

“Know? I know everything I need to know about you.” She’s so horribly calm and, aside from a few stray tears, she’s furious, using anger to fuel herself. He knows exactly what she’s doing, because he’s done it a million times.

He hurt her, he knows it, and it’s killing him. Because when her anger wears off…

She’s shaking her head and saying tearfully, “You were right. You warned me yourself you were an asshole and I shouldn’t forget it. I don’t know if I hate myself more for not believing it or you for making it true…”

She spies her holster on top of his fridge and stands on tiptoe to reach it. She shifts her blanket awkwardly to check her gun, and Ben wonders briefly if she might just shoot him and put him out of his misery before remembering the gun is not loaded.

Their eyes meet, his hollow with the knowledge he’s fucked up beyond redemption and hers flinty with betrayal.

“Rey…” he chokes.

His cheeks are hot, burning with shame…something he hasn’t felt in a very long time. He pulls his lips together, trying to make his mouth form the words that will keep her there.

She regards him for a long minute before whispering, “I’m leaving. I’d appreciate it if you leave me alone…”

He clenches his jaw against the inevitability in her expression. “There’s no fucking way you’re leaving me,” he growls. “You can’t.”

He’s searching for a way to argue her out of leaving, but he can see he’s not winning this one and suddenly all the air has been sucked out of the room.

He’ll beg. He’ll crawl. He doesn’t care. He just needs her to listen. He stretches out a hand, palm up, begging her to wait, just give him an inch of leeway so he can explain.

She draws a shaking breath. She looks unsure, so he presses in. “You’re mine,” he insists, a hint of belligerence touching his voice as he begins clutching at straws, hoping to grasp some valid argument that will make her stay.

His words seem to strengthen her resolve, however. The more he speaks, the worse it’s getting and this is not an occurrence he’s used to.

She’s leaving and there’s not a damned thing he can do about it. Not one.

She shakes her head in denial and walks to the front door. “Stay the hell away from me, Solo. I’m better off alone than with an asshole like you,” she spits viciously.

“I’ll let you go for now,” he finally says, voice husky with sorrow. “You need some time. But I’m not letting you leave me, Rey. There’s more to this and we will talk about it.”

Her eyes glint with more tears, and he wonders how the hell she’s holding it together. Because his whole universe is ripping itself apart, right now, right in front of his eyes.

She opens the door and steps outside. Something hot and horrible is lurching up from the pit of his gut, and the Alpha part of him demands he drag her back inside and force her to listen to him, kiss her senseless and use their damn bond to make her –

She turns around and tears spill from her eyes and her lips quiver around her parting words. But words never come.

She whistles for Beebee who runs through the house and together they walk out the door and out of his life.

 

He could have used their bond to force her into obedience, to compel her to listen to him.

He could have made her stay, had he used her designation and a bit of willpower…

But after everything else he’s done, after he already changed the trajectory of her destiny to intertwine with his…he just couldn’t. He can’t.

Time passes with agonizing slowness. He spends most of his free time staring out the window, watching her house. This results in long stretches of boredom punctuated by rare, heart-stopping glimpses of her.

On the few occasions she’s come outside, she does not even look at his house, hasn’t turned her head to notice him standing in the window. The first few times he'd spotted her, he ran outside and tried to talk to her, but she marched back inside before he could reach her.

Her door slamming in his face and the click of her deadbolt is the only answer he's received. So he stays away, now.

He works, and he watches her house, and he tries to sleep, but he can’t bring himself to sleep in the bed they shared or wash the scent of her off his sheets, so he mostly drowses on the sofa in his den. He barely eats, and he doesn’t want to abandon his lookout by the window.

He tries to convince himself he is giving her time because that is what she needs, and at some point they are going to resolve this impasse. But if he examines his heart too closely, he might also find himself afraid. 

This is only for so long, sweetheart.

He tells himself that every minute of every day as he tries to exist. Really, he’s just waiting until she gives him a sign she’s ready to talk to him again, but so far she's given nothing…

In the meantime, time does pass and they both return to their jobs, and he spends most of his first week back in his office catching up, while Hux fills him in on what he missed.

He tries to be professional, especially after Hux’s snide congratulations on his “new Omega smell” – at least that will keep Snoke off his back and keep Rey safe – but Ben can barely restrain himself from laying Hux out flat after remembering Snoke had initially planned on sending Hux after Rey. The thought of a reptile like Hux even looking at her curdles Ben’s innards like nothing else.

Hux would never understand how to take care of an Omega like Rey, would never consider her need for autonomy or appreciate her wit and spirit. Hux would never give her space to work out her emotions or try to understand her stubborn streak. And the idea of Hux putting his hands on Rey is enough to make Ben’s blood boil.

But she’s safe for now, just pissed off and obstinately refusing to speak to him.   

However, the longer they are apart, the more anxious Ben becomes for her safety. Snoke is plotting something, and Rey is back at work and Ben knows the First Order will be trying to move in any minute. He’s put his own plan into motion to prevent it from happening, but it will take time and careful coordination.

In the meantime, Ben doesn’t know how he’s able to do normal daily things when his whole heart has been ripped out. Their broken connection is a constant dull ache, and Ben wonders if Rey feels similarly empty.

But he knows her, down to the marrow of her bones. She’ll come around.

She told him she loved him. She’s just being stubborn.

She can’t have left him for good.

She just can’t have.

 

 

Two Weeks Later –

He’s haunting the corridors outside the police department, hoping to catch a glimpse of her, hoping to catch a hint of her scent.

Ben feels like a century has passed since he’s last seen her up close.

“…congrats on your promotion, Wedge! Sergeant! That’s amaz –”

Ben whirls at the sound of her voice. She’s noticed him, and she isn’t happy about it; he can tell from where he stands down the hall, while vaguely pretending to peruse the court roster posted outside the courtroom door closest to the police department.

Which is ridiculous, since the roster is for traffic court and he has no explicable reason to be there.

She looks thin and pale, but otherwise okay. She looks like she’s handling their separation much better than he is, actually.

Their eyes meet, and she immediately frosts over, drawing a shuddering breath and turning back to the officer accompanying her.

“Tell Piggy I said hello and send best wishes for a speedy recovery,” she says, ignoring Ben who has strolled up to stand a few feet away.

“Will do and thank you. Glad to have you back, Niima,” Wedge Antilles says with a curious glance at Ben.

Wedge is a Beta, but even without the ability to scent the connection between Rey and Ben, he can probably cut the tension between them with a knife.

Antilles leaves without further comment and Ben hurries to catch Rey before she can follow her colleague and escape behind the glass and metal door of the police department.

“I’d rather not do this now,” she starts as he steps into her path. Her voice shakes and his heart cracks wide open all over again. She’s more affected by this than he’d realized.

Maybe she isn’t quite ready to talk to him, but he’s run out of patience.

And they can’t keep going like this.

“Rey,” he bites out sharply, disregarding the urge to be too gentle. “We need to talk, and I’m not leaving until we do.”

He is resolute and just a bit volatile from lack of proper food and sleep. His voice carries an edge of authority, and she responds immediately. He realizes how much stronger their connection is now that they are bonded. Just his soft command brings her to an instant halt.

Being this close to her is painful, physically cruel. She’s so pretty and she looks sad and he knows he fucked up, but they need to talk.

She looks as hurt as he feels, and he almost groans with relief when she gestures for him to follow her. He does not miss the way she carefully rakes him with her gaze, taking in his hollow cheeks and the deep circles beneath his eyes.

She whirls around and stomps down the hall, away from possible curious eyes. He follows closely, glancing discreetly for onlookers, but nobody else is really paying attention to either of them. He braces himself to touch her, pulling her into the doorway of an empty courtroom.

She tries halfheartedly to shrug off his grip, but he pushes her firmly against the wall and straightens his arm, forming a cage of sorts, trapping her there. Finally.

He inhales, steeling himself against the sensation of her warmth under his hand, not caring if he’s acting like a domineering asshole.

…something is off…

He sniffs more obviously against her neck and she turns her head, whether in submission or away from him, he doesn’t know or care.

The scent of her, of them, is muted, barely a hint of what it should be when it should be enough to bring him to his knees at this proximity.

“Rey, what the hell?” he growls, gripping her jaw and forcing her face around until her hazel eyes warily meet his.

“What?” she asks guiltily, trying and failing to hold his strict glare.

“Why don’t you smell…” He flares his nostrils and snarls “…like me?”

Her cheeks flame red, and she returns his stare with a touch of defiance. “I can’t, all right?”

“No, no, it isn’t all right. What do you fucking mean you can’t?” Rage spikes into him at the thought of her covering their scent. Why would she do that? He is going to crack a molar from gritting his teeth.

“I mean,” she sighs, and she almost sounds sorry, “I can’t because I have to cover my scent for work. I’m wearing a scent suppressant.”

“For work?” he barks in outrage. “What work? What the fuck does that mean?”

She shakes her head, refusing further explanation.

Oh, hell, no.

He recalls that moment ages ago in Mos Eisley, right after that Alpha had assaulted her. He’d compelled her to immediately obey his command and explain to him what had happened.

He hates the idea of using her own nature against her, and he hasn’t done it since. But enough is enough.

For the second time since he’s met her, he employs his innate Alpha to compel her into instant obedience.

“Answer me, Omega,” he orders, eyes glittering black with command. He isn’t above using physical intimidation to get what he wants if that is the only option she’s leaving him.

She looks at him helplessly, with a touch of annoyance and maybe even hatred. He doesn’t care, so long as she answers him. Now.

Her eyes darken, and she tries to shake her head. But he’s captured her gaze with his, and like a snake-charmer, he holds her attention and pulls any resistance from her, almost too easily.

“Just because you’re angry with me – as you have every right to be – doesn’t mean we’re not still bonded, Rey,” he breathes. The memory alone is enough to make his dick twitch and his scent glands tingle.

Plus, he hasn’t touched her in forever, and it’s killing him to hold himself back from ripping her clothes off here and now and fucking her into unconsciousness against the wall of a public corridor.

Nevertheless, he inches closer, letting the heat from his body seep into her, letting his scent, their scent, infiltrate her space… He bows his head and whispers against her neck.

“You can’t stay away from me forever, sweetheart,” he murmurs.

She sighs and melts against the wall, and he presses his advantage. It’s been too long. Maybe it’s time to remind her what they share. He traces the tip of his tongue over her scent gland and resists the wild impulse to peel back the collar of her shirt so he can look at his mark on the back of her neck.

That thought sends a possessive shudder through him, and when she presses her hands against his chest his self-control dissolves on the spot.

The sweetness of her breath is driving him insane, the soft heat of her trapped against the wall sends every primitive instinct in him to the surface, and he wants

He buries his face against the velvety skin of her neck and the brush of her silky hair against his lips is enough to tumble him over the edge of reason.

He breathes in her ear, “Miss me?”

She moans softly, and he knows she did. But she’s strong, stronger than she knows, and she doesn’t answer him. Instead, she presses further against the wall behind her, moving incrementally away from his persistent advance.

“Rey, what are you up to?”

He’s putting every ounce of Alpha into his effort, now, ruthlessly using their bond to bend her to his will. He can hate himself for doing it later, but right now his senses are ringing at full alert. She’s up to something, something he won’t like, and she’s trying to hide it from him.

And that is un-fucking-acceptable. He will do whatever it takes to protect her and to hell with the rest of the world if they think he won’t.

“Ben, please,” she moans. “Please don’t go this way…”

He licks his lips and tilts her chin up. “If you think for one hot minute I’m letting you out of my sight again without knowing exactly what you’re planning, you are crazy, sweetheart.”

He can see in her eyes the battle she’s fighting against herself and the nature of their bond. God, she’s so fucking pig-headed.

“Rey. You can take as much time as you need to be angry with me. I know I fucked up,” he starts, fishing for the right thing to say while trying to pull himself out of the lust spiral he’s dropping into from being so close to her.

She pushes against his chest, but he doesn’t budge an inch.

“Ben. You know it’s more complicated than that,” she argues weakly. Her hands on him is affecting them both.

“I know, sweetheart…but you are about to do something dangerous,” he purrs. His sanity is connected by a bare thread, slipping loosely through his fingers. “You are up to something, and I want to know what it is. This isn’t about me fucking up. I know I did, and we will talk about it. But right now, I can’t keep you safe if I don’t know what is going on…”

“Keep me safe from what? Or should I ask who?” she snaps, eyes flashing. “Snoke?” Her lips curl back into a sneer, as if saying the name alone is poison in her mouth.

His cheeks burn hotly at her caustic reminder.

“Maybe,” he nods. “Snoke is a bad guy, Rey. He made some demands...some threats…” If Ben tells her what Snoke is doing, she will only pursue him with even more tenacity. He needs to keep her away, not tempt her into getting closer, goddammit.

“I can guess,” she huffs. “Which is why you bit me…” Her eyes well with tears. He brushes a thumb over her cheek and groans a little when her lips part at his touch.

“Baby, that has nothing to do with it, and you goddamn well know it.”

“Do I?” Ah, hell, she’s doubting him.

Part of him knows her past would make it tough for her to trust, but this is just mulishness beyond belief.

He threads his fingers through her hair and presses closer. “Ah, you do,” he murmurs softly against her. “I would have done it sooner if it hadn’t been for Snoke…”

“What?!” she gasps, smacking her hand against his chest. He can hear it in her voice she wants to believe him.

“It’s true,” he tells her hoarsely.

He can’t resist any longer, so he moves to kiss her, hovering a millimeter above her lips, watching cautiously. He waits until he sees the compliance in her eyes before he finally presses his mouth over hers and immediately is pulled into her kiss like quicksand. She tastes sweet and soft and sad and he strokes her lips into parting for him, pushing his tongue in, tasting more, taking in her pain, drawing it away as best he can.

He knows he hurt her. But he knows she’ll forgive him. He can taste it.

He shifts, imperceptibly bracing himself against her. He can feel the hard angles of her Kevlar vest pressing into him instead of the soft curves of her breasts and for some reason it incenses him…

One arm braces against the wall and the other wraps around her waist, digging his fingers beneath the body armor, suddenly intent on putting his scent back on her… He pulls her roughly against him, not bothering to disguise his blatant desire.

He presses her into him, hard, and deepens his kiss, demanding she at least acknowledge their physical connection, if not the rest of it.

Hot triumph licks its way up his spine when she curls her hands around his skull, pushing her fingers into his hair and kissing him back with all the sweet compliance of a willing mate. His mate.

He growls into her mouth and presses harder, fully intent on showing her just how much he’d missed her. How sorry he is.

The courthouse clock in the tower chimes the half-hour in the distance, calling them back to reality like a splash of ice water to the face.

She draws away first, but he can see it in her eyes. She’s wavering, close to spilling everything. He just needs another minute and maybe he can figure out what she’s doing, why she’s covered up their scent and why she’s not telling him –

“I need to go, Ben.” She pushes at his arm, still locked in place against the wall, braced against her inevitable escape. “Ben. I need to go.”

“Where?” he demands, drilling his eyes and every bit of his formidable willpower into her.

She swallows. “I’m going to arrest him. Snoke. Ackbar signed a warrant, and if our search goes as planned, then…”

Shit. This is worse than he thought… His pulse kicks over from lust to panic in a single heartbeat.

“You can’t,” Ben hisses desperately. “You can’t do it, Rey, I’m fucking begging you. Don’t go. I have a bad feeling about this.”

Snoke will stop at nothing, ever. He will have no problem shooting his way out of an arrest and figuring out a way to slip loose from justice later.

“Ben. I have to. It’s my job.” She ducks under his arm and walks away, spine straight and stiff and Ben pounds his fist futilely against the wall, hot coals of helpless frustration burning inside him.

“He doesn’t know we’re coming today,” Rey assures him over her shoulder.

You will control the girl. And I will control you.

Ben throws caution to the wind and calls after her. “Rey, there’s a mole inside the police department. He definitely knows you’re coming.”

Rey spins, eyebrows lifting at his revelation, but she is not as surprised as she should be. Which means she already knows about the mole.

“He doesn’t know we are coming today,” she insists. “That’s all I can tell you, Ben.”

“How am I supposed to let you walk into danger, Rey?”

He knows the worst thing he can do is remind her of her vulnerability right now, but he can’t help himself from asking. He was raised by a cop. He knows how important it is for them to stay mentally focused.

“I’m wearing body armor. I’ll be okay. I promise.” She smiles a touch of shy forgiveness there, and it shreds his heart to pieces, right in his chest. “We can talk," she says. "Tonight. When I’m home from work.”

Ben scowls at her deliberate ignorance. She expects him to wait for her while she marches straight into danger to arrest his boss. She thinks she will walk away unscathed...

And later… She wants to work things out.

Dammit. She’s already gone inside, and if Ben follows her, then Snoke’s spy will surely report it.

He can’t behave suspiciously…but what he’s about to do will destroy any forgiveness she might have summoned for him.

The taste of her mingles on his tongue with bitterness, as he realizes he is about to piss her off beyond imagining.

But, at the end of the day, Ben will do whatever it takes to keep her safe, even if she hates him for it. He can clean up the mess later.

For now, he has a phone call to make.

 

 

When Rey and two others arrive to serve the warrant at Snoke’s mansion, they find it empty of people, servants, and everyone but Snoke and an attorney she recognizes as Ben’s partner, Armitage Hux.

Hux’s lips curl back as he examines the warrant, and Rey knows he will find it in order. They’d triple-checked everything to make sure…

She watches Hux read the search warrant and feels a sinking disappointment as she realizes they’ve been tipped off. They knew they were coming that day, after all…

Dammit.

Ben. He must have warned Snoke to keep her from arresting him. That’s the only explanation for this fiasco.

Nevertheless, she politely directs her officers to search the premises, knowing damn well they will find nothing. While she waits, Hux’s eyes crawl over her and Rey wants to cringe away. She wishes with all her heart she hadn’t muted Ben’s scent, sensing somehow it might have protected her or at the very least comforted her under Hux’s vile scrutiny.

Every instinct she has tells her to cover herself from the red-haired Alpha’s devouring eyes. Under his cold blue gaze, she feels dirty, indecent, as if he’s stripping her down and touching her against her will.

Rey swallows a surge of bile. This Alpha has zero problem holding back his inherent dominance, and only the fact Rey is already bonded to another Alpha keeps her from literally shrinking away from this creature.

She is suddenly glad for the scent suppressant she wears – although Snoke is a Beta, Hux isn’t, and he sniffs at her suspiciously, not bothering to hide it. He’s threatening her and making no secret of it. Trying to catch a hint of fear or something else…

She wrenches her attention back to the problem at hand. Hux can’t touch her now, as insulting as he’s being.

Snoke is excruciatingly polite, going so far as to inquire about the “recently injured officer” – referring to Piggy, who was still recovering from the shooting weeks ago – and to wish the man all the best.

But Rey can sense his fury and a danger unlike anything she’s ever felt before slinks over her skin. Hux might be a conscious-less snake who has no problem wielding his designation to get his way, but Snoke is menacing in the way of a man with true power.

This man is dangerous, evil, and utterly ruthless.

He is going to kill her. He wants to. She doesn’t need to scent it to know it is true, she can see it in his ice-blue eyes.

She wills herself to remember Leia’s instructions and remains calm and polite. Her body camera is on and pointed at Snoke the entire time. Three patrol cars are waiting just outside the perimeter, ready to provide backup if needed.

Rey hears footsteps coming down the stairs behind her.

“Nothing, Detective,” Phasma reports quietly, walking into the entryway where Rey waits with Snoke and Hux. “Didn’t find a damn thing.”

Antilles stands quietly just behind Phasma, looking ready for anything.

Hux licks his lips and sneers, “Maybe next time, Omega. Looking forward to seeing you again…”

Phasma exchanges a glare with Hux and Rey feels another sharp wave of disappointment. Then anger. It had to be Ben. Dammit.

All the adrenaline she’s been storing up in anticipation of this arrest is immediately redirected to the Alpha in question.

Ben Solo.

He’s in so much fucking trouble.

He was right. They need to talk.

 

He’s waiting for her on her front porch when she finally makes her way home after filing an inordinate amount of paperwork and reporting her suspicions about Snoke being tipped off to Captain Organa.

Ben’s mother is not happy, not at all, and Leia’s ire only emphasizes Rey’s own anger.

She slams the door of her car and stomps over to him, her fury finally unleashing itself in the wake of the intense emotional roller-coaster she’s been on for weeks…

He looks guilty as hell and she immediately knows she was right. He warned his boss she was coming.

“I ought to arrest you right fucking now,” she threatens, marching up to him until he backs up a step.

But he is glaring at her, too, and she scents his own simmering anger.

“What the hell took you so long?” he hisses. “I’ve been worried fucking sick.”

Her jaw drops at his audacity. After everything he’s done? Oh, hell, no.

She draws her arm back, fully intent on slapping him across the face, but he blocks her swing and fresh wrath darkens his eyes.

“That’s enough of that, Omega,” he snarls, snagging her fist in his and wrenching her arm down. She tries to pull away, but he simply adjusts his hold and drags her into her house with a near-brutal shove.

This only emphasizes how much bigger and stronger he is, and how physically powerless she is against him or any other Alpha.

Hux’s icy blue eyes flash through her mind and she takes another wild swing, this time landing a solid punch to his arm.

“Enough!” he barks, snagging her wrist and scowling. 

Rey seethes with fury, breathing heavily with unresolved emotions boiling to the surface. A hot tear slides down her cheek. All her disappointment and grief over Ben’s latest duplicity crashes into her and she wonders how much longer she can stay strong. She draws on her deep well of pain, dug over a lifetime of betrayals and disappointments.

And he sees it. He pauses, nostrils flaring at the scent of her. The suppressants she sprayed over herself this morning have long since worn off and suddenly the tension between them snaps with an altogether different emotion.

“I hate you,” she mutters wretchedly, furious at her own weakness more than anything, even as her body grows warm at the sight of him. He’s bristling with defensive rage and remnants of fear for her safety and burgeoning desire that weakens her knees…

“I know,” he whispers huskily, dark eyes blazing with something akin to danger that sends her nerves into a wild skitter.

He licks his lips and the memory of Hux doing the same thing earlier slams into her. Ben catches her expression and flares his nostrils again.

“You. You’re afraid. Why?” He’s demanding an answer and she’s weak from being strong all day.

She’s weak from being strong all her life.

Enough is enough.

Another hot tear slides down her cheek and she finally lets go. Ben is here and despite the mountain of unresolved bullshit between them, his presence is a comfort.

“Alpha,” she sobs and before she can blink, he’s wrapped her in his arms and he’s lifting her, and her legs are wrapped around his waist and he’s moving.

She feels him jerk her shirt from the waistband of her pants, and she’s kissing every inch of him she can reach.

“What happened, baby?” he grunts. “Why are you like this? Hmmm? Tell me…”

She draws a shaking breath and answers simply, “Hux was there today.”

His fingers dig into her reflexively and she hears him sniffing at her, worried this time. “What the fuck happened, Rey?”

“He was looking at me, and…” she trails off, hating how her voice quavers, how she sounds so fucking weak…

Every muscle in Ben’s body grows taut. “And what?” he bites out from between clenched teeth as he glares at her, compelling an answer.

“It just made me feel so gross…like he was…like he wanted to…” She buries her face in his neck and clings to him reveling in his strong arms and reassuring scent as he carries her to the sofa.

He turns and seats them so she straddles his lap.  

“Like he wanted to touch you?” Ben growls, yanking her belt out of the way, fumbling with her buttons trying to strip her down as quickly as he can.

She nods, and Ben looks murderous. “I’m going to fucking kill him,” he promises, sliding her shirt over her head before pulling her close for a hard kiss to the lips before cupping her head against his shoulder and pushing her hair away from the back of her neck.

She knows he’s looking at it, the fading pink scar that will eventually turn silvery-white. She buries her face against his neck and feels him carefully trace a finger over the spot. His spot.

And there’s so much between them, so much unresolved and unsaid, but that light tentative touch pushes everything but one singular need away…as if all the rest of it is dust in the wind and the only solid thing in existence is her Alpha.

He swallows and breathes into her hair. “I missed you, Rey. So much. Let me…”

Suddenly nothing matters except letting him sweep Hux's leer and the past two weeks of empty pain and loneliness from her mind.

“Yes, Alpha.”

They can figure out the rest of it later.

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen – Pride and Penitence

 

Ben is going to fucking murder his business partner the very next time they meet.

Rey is sobbing from all the pent-up emotion and he curls a hand around the back of her head, frantic to make it stop. He can only imagine the lewd glint in the other Alpha’s eyes when Rey encountered Hux earlier that day. He knows damn well his partner’s proclivity for making young, pretty Omegas submit and simultaneously shrink away from him.

Fucking Hux.

Rey must be really upset if she’s clinging to Ben of all people. Scared of Hux. And Snoke, too, Ben thinks grimly.

Hux might be a rabid cur on a chain, but Snoke is an ice-cold villain, through and through.

Ben is thankful Rey is safe in his arms now, but it doesn’t quite chase away the boiling-hot rage bubbling out of him once again.

Only this time he’s furious with himself.

The only reason she was ever in that situation in the first place is because of him. If he had the balls to call out Snoke after the very first threat against Rey…

Actually, if Ben is being realistic, he knows Snoke would have found a way to cut his losses and have them all summarily executed.

Still.

It’s totally Ben’s fault they are in this situation at all.

Rey tugs at his shirt and Ben vaguely realizes through his red haze she is trying to get him bare-chested, too.

Rey. His mate. Bound to him for all eternity.

And they haven’t touched each other for weeks. Suddenly skin-to-skin contact is the only thing he can think about, so he sits up and lets her help him peel his shirt over his head.

The sensation of her skin rubbing against his is enough to derail his train of thought entirely...

He breathes in, close to the warmth at the crook of her neck and sighs.

She smells right again, although tainted with fear and frustration and fury.

He can’t fix everything instantly, but maybe this is one thing he can make better. Maybe he can chase the fear from her eyes, make her smile again. Then they can talk.

And then maybe he can start to repair some of the damage he’s caused.

“You’re okay, it’s okay,” he mutters deeply, stroking his hands up and down her spine, relishing the soft smoothness, the warm heat of her sinking into him.

Ben hugs her tight and trembles as her soft curves mold against the hard planes of his chest. He holds her hair back from the nape of her neck so he can peer at his mark on her once again.

The sight of it sends a wild protectiveness ricocheting through him, making his breath catch and his hands shake.

“We’ll make it all better, baby,” Ben promises with a tender kiss, his rage instantly abandoned over the more prevalent need to provide consolation. Rey’s cheeks are wet with tears and he tucks her under his chin, carefully stroking his spot on the back of her neck until she’s quieted.

He smooths his hands down her back, tucking them under her slacks, loosened from when he unbelted and unbuckled them just moments ago.

He slides his fingers under the elastic of her underwear and murmurs comforting words against her hair, holding himself in check until she can collect herself, until her hot tears stop splashing all over his collarbone and shoulder.

 “…mmmsssfffmmmphfff…” she mumbles.

“Hmmm?”

She catches her breath and leans up to look at him, lashes spiked with tears, lips trembling. Goddammit, her eyes are so pretty.

“…missed you, Ben…” The hurt in her voice just about destroys him. It is all his fault they’ve both been lonely and miserable for the past few weeks and he’s never felt like such an asshole.

He strokes his thumb over her cheek.

“I’m so, so sorry, baby,” he whispers, pathetically aware his words are totally inadequate to cover the extent of his sins.

She regards him quietly for a moment, and he briefly wonders if she’s considering leaving him again. He grips her involuntarily at the thought.

She can’t. Please, fuck, no, she can’t…

Because now that he has her here, in his arms, particularly now, when she so obviously needs him, wretched bastard that he is, he cannot imagine letting her loose again.

He lets go of his pride, fully prepared to do whatever it takes. “I’m sorry, Rey.”

He tries to get a grip on his spiking desire, uneasily aware she’s thinking. Maybe she's thinking about leaving him. The realization strikes him like a lightning bolt. Maybe she doesn’t want him as much as he wants her.

She shifts in his lap and he tries to reign in the ravaging beast trying to claw its way out of him, the Alpha who has most definitely missed his mate for the past few weeks, who will do anything, use any tool at his disposal to keep her right where she is now, right where she belongs.

He shuts down the urge with monumental effort and waits for her to say something.

She tells him almost abstractedly, “I’ve never in my life had sex outside of a heat before. Did you know that?”

He didn’t know. Didn’t even think of it. He shakes his head guiltily, wondering if this is yet another way he’s failed to understand her.

It almost kills him say it, but he finally says, “We don’t have to, sweetheart. If you don’t want to.”

“What if I’m not any good at it?”

What? Not good at sex?  “Are you fucking serious?” he asks incredulously. Of all the things for her to worry about at a time like this, he’s utterly thrown off guard.

“Well…yeah…” she mutters shyly.

“Baby. I promise. You’re good at it. You’re mine, remember?” He smiles encouragingly then his heart drops. He reiterates his earlier comment. “But if you don’t want to right now, it’s okay. I...I understand.”

She’s staring at his mouth before her eyes flash up to his. “I do want to. Want you to…make me forget, Ben. Just for a little while.”

“What do you need, Omega?” he asks carefully, ducking his chin so he can look her directly in the eyes. In this instance, his use of her designation is an admission of deference. The verbal equivalent of him bowing to her, of him placing the reigns solely into her hands.

She considers him for a moment before she catches his hands in hers, threading her fingers through his, gripping them to either side, using his bent arms for leverage as she adjusts herself into a more solid straddle.

“What I need is for you to shut the hell up and do whatever I say for a change,” she scolds gently.

His blood thunders in his ears and he shudders with relief, at once submitting himself to whatever punishment she intends to dish out. He’s getting off way too easy and they both know it.

She puts her mouth on his and their kiss is instantly incendiary. He pours every ounce of penitence and passion into it, until their bond flares to life like a spark on dry tinder. He revels in her hot tongue moving over his, in the way she tugs his hair, pulling at him, trying to get him closer. Which is fine, it’s perfect, fucking amazing.

She’s been on top before, but this feels different. She’s taking charge and Ben decides it’s not so terrible, letting her be the boss. In fact…it’s pretty goddamn spectacular. He likes it, and he understands instantly what she needs before she does.

“You should probably punish me for being such a dick,” he tells her when they come up for air. He lifts his hips to bump invitingly against the heat of her parted thighs.

She loosens her grip and fixes him with a severe glower.

Or. Maybe he shouldn’t call attention to his bad behavior –

“You are a very bad boy,” she hisses.

He nods, readily agreeing with her. She’s not wrong. He’s bad. He totally deserves to be chastised.

Her open palm flies out of nowhere, striking his cheek, hard. But not nearly as hard as it could have. He knows exactly how much of a whollup she packs.

Ah. This game.

He works the slight sting out of his jaw with a shake of his head and a provoking smirk. She glares at him and catches his hands again, pinning them to either side of his head on the sofa.

He narrows his eyes and prompts, “Oooh, baby, you gonna rough me up?”

She inhales and scowls at him, “You’re damn right I am, Alpha.”

He could easily take over, but at the light in her eyes at his semi-playful suggestion, he simply grins with all the arrogance he can muster, daring her to do her worst.

This is a game he knows well, although he’s never played this side before…She grinds against him, and he decides letting his little kitten sheath her claws in his guilt-riddled hide is about the best damn thing that’s ever happened to him. Especially if it will make her feel better.

Besides, his ego can probably take a few hits. More than a few, if he’s really being truthful.

He knocks his hips into hers again, pushing against her hands in a mock struggle for supremacy.

She pushes back harder, pinning him down more firmly.

Oh, goddamn, she feels good.

She bends to lick the gland aside his neck and he grunts at the sweet pressure of her hot little mouth. Her teeth sink in none-too-gently, just enough to sting before she licks the place she bit.

He bites out a sharp “Fuck!” and forces himself not to throw her onto her back so he can screw her brains out –

Nope. He’ll be good. She's in charge, no matter what comes next, even if it kills him.

She sucks hard on his neck and warns him, “I’m gonna make you beg me, how does that sound?”

He smirks, cocky bastard rising up to play. “You can try, baby,” he chuckles.

She sits up and huffs fiercely, “Oh, I’m going to.”

At the militant light in her eyes, a frisson of alarm strikes him. What the fuck is she going to do? Even more importantly…what is he willing to let her do?

It’s odd to be on the receiving end of someone else’s whims…his stomach knots a bit, then a little more as he realizes she’s received a very in-depth education in edging, and that from his very own hands… She could probably torture him pretty thoroughly if she had a mind to…

Shit.

Before full panic can set in, her mouth slams down onto his, and her sharp little teeth scrape along his bottom lip, warning him to maybe shut the fuck up for a minute and kiss her back, push his tongue into her mouth and coat it with the sweet sexy taste of her.

He supposes he’ll pretty much let her do whatever the hell she wants. Because she tastes like heaven and he loves her beyond any and all discernible explanation.

“Sit up,” she mutters, sucking his bottom lip into her mouth. He sits up obediently, following her as she pulls him.

“Good boy.” He wants to purr when she says that, and he closes his eyes and opens his mouth when her lips land on his with a hungry hum.

She kisses him so passionately he doesn’t even realize she’s loosened her grip on his left hand. He doesn't notice when she’s fumbling behind her and dragging his arm down and crooking it behind his back. He hears a metallic clink and feels the familiar embrace of cold metal around his wrist, then his right arm is wrenched behind his back to be cuffed to the other hand.

Oh, double-shit.

He supposes she’s in charge, after all. Well, okay, then.

“You’re so fucking hot,” he tells her, slightly out of breath and utterly impressed and turned on. He leans back, settling his now cuffed wrists into the cushions as casually as if she didn’t just get the jump on him.

She bites her lip and runs her palm over his pecs and down to his hardening cock, giving him a rough squeeze before she moves away, and he almost orders her to stay put.

She stands up and shimmies out of her pants.

The sight of her, the smell of her, is already turning him into mush. Well, most of him.

His dick is getting rock hard.

The air between them fills with the mouthwatering scent of arousal, a sultry cloud surrounding them.

She stands between his spread knees, glaring at him hard enough to make him briefly reconsider the handcuffs.

“Do you have any idea how furious I am with you, Solo?” she snaps. God, she sounds like a cop, now, all bossy authoritative demanding bitch. He fucking loves it.

“Do you?” she repeats, and he nods.

He has an idea. Definitely. “I’m sorry,” he says seriously, trying to say it to her face and not her bare pussy, which is distractingly at eye level.

“I ought to light you up with my taser again,” she tells him sternly, and this time his eyes flash to hers in anxiety.

Wait. What?

He swallows and chokes out, “Please don’t,” before he can stop himself. That would fucking suck.

She presses her lips together as if she’s seriously considering it. Another frisson of fear crawls over his skin.

He wonders if he can jump up and run out the door before she can get hold of her damn taser…

Her nostrils flare at the scent of his fear, quite apparent over their bond.

But instead of digging through the discarded clothes and tactical belt on the floor, she leans in and unbuttons his pants, making sure to stop and slide her warm hand over his throbbing dick every few seconds.

His head fills with a strange buzzing and he wants to toss her over his shoulder and carry her upstairs but he can’t do a damn thing –

She’s got his pants undone and he lifts his hips so she can slide them and his boxers over his thighs to pool around his ankles. As she does it, she scrapes him roughly with her fingernails until all his blood surges directly to his groin and he’s gasping for mercy.

She’s staring at his dick, and it grows painfully hard under her hot gaze.

Her head is right there, her lips inches away, and he wonders if she’ll put her mouth on him, but before he can ask her to, she glances up at him from under a frown.

Nope. She’s still infuriated with him. Best save that for another time…

But she does slide her hand over the satiny skin as if she can’t resist, and he flexes his hips up to rub himself against her, seeking relief. He grunts again louder when she moves her hand away, and his own palms practically itch to touch her.

She scrapes her nails over his abdomen and he lifts his hips again as if to tempt her with his erection, already leaking moisture from the tip, his knot already beginning to form at the base... But she’s standing again and suddenly he can’t tear his eyes away from the sight of her.

“Rey…” he mutters. “Baby…”

A wave of her sweet scent, of their scent together, washes over him, seeping into his pores.

His lips part, ready to apologize again. But she smiles at him wickedly, as if she knows his exact thoughts, and pushes her fingers between her legs. His jaw drops, riveted and totally envious of her fingers because that’s where he wants to be, right where he needs to be, filling her up and making her gasp and moan, but no, she’s doing it to herself not two feet away…a quiet rumble climbs out of his throat.

“Sweetheart,” he pleads, using every ounce of persuasion at his disposal, “Don’t you want…?”

She leans over him, running her fingers in a hot wet trail from his navel to his chin before pushing them into his mouth. He sucks eagerly, not breaking eye contact and making no effort to hide the extent of his desire.

She smiles faintly and moans watching his mouth, clearly lost in the throes of what she’s doing, too.

“Rey,” he implores when she pulls her fingers away.

She ignores him and stands between his spread knees again. He’s panting like he’s run a few miles, slow and measured, but definitely worked up.

Their gazes lock and she moves her hands between her legs again. She spreads the lips of her sex so he can see the glossy pink flesh there. The sight alone is going to make him come. He growls eagerly, surrendering himself to the animal chained inside, licking his chops.

“You want this?” she whispers. 

“…yes…” is all he can bite out, his arms jerking against the handcuffs once again.

“I know you do, Alpha.” She sniffs at the air between them before glancing over the floor and spotting her belt.

She turns away and bends slowly to pick it up and Ben is having honest-to-god heart palpitations. She looks at him over her shoulder and he grunts like a beast.

The sight of her presenting herself to him like that, whether intentional or not, sends a primal want through him like nothing ever has before. He rattles and jerks at the handcuffs holding his arms back, frustration mounting, desperate to free his hands so he can put them on her.

She wiggles her rear, still bent at the waist. “You like that, Alpha?” she asks.

Oh, hell, yes, he likes it.

She’s going to fucking murder him.

She’s swaying back and forth right under his damned nose and he drinks in the sight of her round hips and dripping wet pussy like a man dying of thirst. A bead of sweat slides down his forehead. She’s fucking teasing him into a drooling mess, the minx.

She turns and reaches for something on the floor before standing and showing him the handcuffs key.

“You want this?” she asks again and he’s practically howling. Fuck, yes, he wants it.

“What do you think?” he rumbles.

Her eyes are dark with lust, and he knows she’s almost as far gone as he is. Almost. He grunts again and lifts his hips, directing her attention to the rigid length of his erection.

She cocks her head at him. “Maybe you need to ask me nicely…?”

“P-please,” he stutters. “Baby, you’re killing me.”

“What was that? I didn’t quite catch it…” she purses her lips.

“Please.” The words pour from him, unstoppable. “Please, sweetheart. Please let me touch you. Just, please come over here.”

She climbs into his lap and he almost yowls with relief. He gasps as her thighs cradle him, as her wet heat rides against his stiff arousal.

"Good boy. Begs me so nice..." she tells him and his heart is going to beat out of his chest. He's sure he's going to die any second, now. He's sure of it.

She grasps him with one hand and rubs the head of his dick between her legs and he’s panting like a dog. She’s going to send him into rut if she keeps this up, and wouldn’t that suck while he’s handcuffed and helpless?

“…have you ever needed anything as much as you need my pussy right now?” she mutters in his ear before swirling her tongue around the edge of it.

Ah, fuck, he taught her too damn well.

She’s reduced him to grunts and moans as he shakes his head. Another bead of sweat slides down his forehead and he flips his hair out of his face, begging with his eyes as he whimpers, “…fuuuuuck…please…”

Her scent and the sensation of her brushing over his sensitive tip is unraveling his fucking mind.

She kisses him, and he feels her stretch her arms around his ribs, so she can unlock the cuffs. He leans forward, happy to give her better access, some tiny part of his brain impressed she’s able to manage the key while kissing him into a hot puddle of lust.

He doesn’t wait for her to unlock both cuffs, and the instant his hands are free he whips them around to grip desperately at her hips and lift her onto him with a throaty groan.

Their cries mingle together as she pushes down with all the ferocity of a tigress.

He can feel every tendon in his body strain and stretch as she impales herself, while his eyes lock onto the sight of them joined together. She braces herself against his chest and her nails dig into the hard pads of muscle there.

He’s lost, enraptured at the sight of her body taking him in, of himself sinking in to the hilt, sheathed in her wet, velvety-tight heat. They were apart for far too long.

He loves her so fucking much.

He splays his palm over her taut abdomen, fingers pointed down. He presses the heel of his hand into her belly and slides his middle finger against the slippery bundle of nerves between her legs.

“You feel me there?” he growls, voice dark and gravelly.

“Mmmhmmm.” She’s starting to sound a little less in control, so he strokes her clit again. Perfect.

If he’s going to lose his mind, so should she.

He leans up and licks a broad stripe up the side of her neck, groaning when he reaches her scent gland and his tongue is covered in the sweet flavor of her.

She’s losing control and his is long gone…

Her fingers dig into him harder and she growls eagerly as he sucks on her gland and flicks his finger over her clit until she’s clenching around him, hot and wet and tight. Molten-hot fire whips through his veins when she begins to bounce on him.

She grasps his hair and yanks it hard, forcing his face to tilt into hers. He knows exactly what to do, and grabs her ass with both hands, pushing her onto him harder.

“Don’t even think about coming, yet,” she groans, guiding one of his hands back between her legs so he can rub her into an orgasm.

“I won’t, baby,” he promises dutifully, even though he’s definitely thinking about it, scooting to the edge of the sofa so he can grip her more firmly and drag her onto him as forcefully as he can.

The clink of metal would remind him he’s still got handcuffs dangling from one wrist, but she’s sliding up and down, her tight body pulling at him, and he’s stroking her so deep they cry out in unison every time he bottoms out.

His arms shake, and she's wet, fluttering and flexing around him and he’s fucking drooling on her and sweating on her as she sinks her teeth into the meat of his shoulder. Carnal need coils at the base of his spine and twists through him like a blade.

Mine. She’s mine.

He grips her head with one hand, bending her and arching his neck so he can kiss and suck and lick and scrape his teeth over his spot, his mark, she fucking belongs to me.

“Mine,” he grunts, unable to control himself any longer. He needs to make sure she understands.

He jerks her hair, forcing her head back so he can see her face, confirm with his own eyes that she knows.

A hot gush of slick slides around him as he fucks into her, jostling them until her breasts bounce and her nipples brush against his chest. Her eyes glaze over and he grips her hair and her hip so she stays put, right where she belongs, riding his cock with breathless little shrieks that turn his belly into tight, tense ecstasy.

“Mine,” he snarls, pumping into her ruthlessly. She’s a sweaty little rag doll now, as helplessly lost as he is.

“Yes,” she keens with a lingering series of contractions, squeezing him hard.

“And I’m yours, baby, don’t you forget that,” he affirms with brutal surety.

“Yes…”

He rumbles against her as her thighs tighten, as she shudders and spasms and screams brokenly against him. His knot swells thickly inside her and he lets himself go, surrendering to the bone-melting inferno with a ragged shout and an urgent kiss.

She quivers around him and kisses him back, and he quakes under her with a deep satisfaction knowing his Omega is well pleased with him.

For a change.

 

He drags a throw from the edge of the sofa and spreads it over them both as she nuzzles at his neck.

“Well, sweetheart,” he murmurs gently, “I think we can both agree you are fantastic at sex.”

“Mmmmm…”

They doze after a bit of shuffling so he’s lying on his back, with her draped over him.

After an hour or so, he wakes when she does. He disengages their bodies, shifting so she’s still lying on top of him, but hopefully a little more comfortably.

She tucks her head under his chin and he strokes her back.  

He feels a hot wetness against his neck and notices she’s crying again. Aw, fuck, no.

“I missed you so much, Rey,” he says helplessly into her hair. “I’m so sorry…I should have…I fucked everything up.”

She sniffles and tilts her head up to regard him with watery eyes. “I just don’t understand why you didn’t tell me about Snoke…I’m so angry…” Her face crumbles again and she buries her face against his neck as if she can’t bear to look at him.

Guilt writhes through him, hot and gut-wrenching.

Anger is a secondary emotion. She’s only angry because he betrayed her after she trusted him.

He rubs her back and holds her for a few minutes, trying to figure out what to say.

“Snoke called in a favor after our first day of community service,” Ben finally admits. 

“Why didn’t you just tell me then?” Rey asks tearfully.

Why didn’t he?

Why is it so hard to just fucking say it? Words are supposed to be his specialty, and he literally uses his powers of persuasion to convince people to believe things all the time.

But he’s never really had to examine his own motives before. He isn’t sure he’s liking what he’s finding. Not at all.

She’s waiting for an answer and he decides to be brutally honest. His ego is about to take another hit. That is not as important as making Rey feel better, he knows.

“Because,” he finally says. “I thought I could handle it on my own. Snoke has been blackmailing me. For a while now.”

That glaring admission is the one thing he realizes he is more ashamed of than anything. Because it means that he’s been a fool, and if there’s anything Ben Solo cannot abide it’s a fool…

“He tricked you?” Rey asks quietly.

“No,” Ben says, swallowing the rest of his pride, “I…made a mistake. A while ago. It…caused a rift between my uncle Luke and me. And Snoke says he has the proof. And it can get me thrown in prison for a long time…”

Rey blinks at his admission, but stays where she is. He can sense through their bond she’s not disgusted by his stupidity. She’s not flinching away from him. Even though it is his fault they are in this mess.

“Why couldn’t you tell me…before?” she prods.

“What would you have done if I’d told you?” he asks, trying not to be overly defensive. “Listened to me? Tried to help me? After I was a complete bastard to you?”

She sniffs and regards him solemnly.

He tries again. “There just really wasn’t a great time, okay? When was I supposed to drop this on you? That first time we were together? When you were in heat and you told me it was just sex between us? In the middle of community service when I was pretty sure you still hated me? Or after your boyfriend showed up and –”

“Finn’s not my boyfriend!” she retorts hotly. “You know that.”

He knows, but he keeps going. “After he left, then? When you were heartbroken? The night you killed Shand?”

She sucks in a lungful of air and he can see she almost, almost resorts to her default impulsiveness. But she’s reigning it in.

“No.” She narrows her eyes. “You could have said something that first night you made me dinner…”

He thinks back to that night in her kitchen when he’d cooked pasta for her, and he knows she’s totally right.

What’s happening is that I’ve fallen in love with you, and I’ve fucked everything up, and I want you more than I’ve wanted anything in my life, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what to do next. All I know is if we sleep together I’m probably going to lose it and just bite you, and then you’ll hate me…

“Why did he want you to do it?” Rey asks, shifting his attention back to the present.

“So I could feed you information about a cold case without having to compromise the mole he has in place in the department,” Ben admits. “And to open the path for the First Order to take over the harbor. He thinks I can control you using our bond.”

Her lips press into a thin line and Ben’s heart sinks.

“Can’t you?” she asks somberly.

He swallows. “Just because I got you to tell me what you were doing this morning doesn’t mean…”

A sharp knock on the front door snaps them both into awareness. It sounds urgent.

Rey shuffles off him, wrapping the blanket around herself and looking adorably disheveled.

Another knock, more insistently this time, forces Ben into action.

He drags his pants from around his ankles to answer it, swinging the door wide.

“Solo! What the –?”

Ben recognizes the fury in Finn’s dark eyes immediately, but before he can get a word in, Finn’s fist is flying at his face and knocks him out cold.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen – All Rise

 

Next Month, In Court

…is shaping up to be the trial of the Century. The events leading to this case have rocked the small community of Jakku, propelling it into the national spotlight overnight, as the First Order is routed less than an hour ago in a massive joint sting operation...

…in an ironic twist, Prosecutor Luke Skywalker will face down his own nephew, notorious defense attorney, Benjamin Solo, who is representing himself today…

Solo has previously represented Albert Snoke, who is now a person of interest in several cases involving the First Order since the arrest of...

…Snoke is personally attending the proceedings today, ostensibly in a show of support for his best attorney, and is himself no stranger to the courtroom, although his record remains surprisingly clean; in the past year he’s avoided the worst of charges that included racketeering and a variety of other gang-related crimes, due in no small part to the efforts of his excellent legal team Solo, Hux, and Canady… 

Further complicating the story, lead defense, Ben Solo, an Alpha by designation, is rumored to be mated to Rey Niima, key witness for the prosecution and Solo’s next-door neighbor. Niima, a Detective with the Jakku Police Department, has a history of violent behavior against Solo, including use of a taser during a routine traffic stop and a rumored but unconfirmed shooting…Niima, whose testimony today will be essential in ensuring the Prosecution’s case…

…Solo today faces charges for interfering in an official police investigation and collusion with Albert Snoke, who faces his own trial next month. Snoke, charged with...

…Niima and Solo have had several run-ins, as one neighbor tells us…we have her on the phone, exclusively talking to Channel Nine, TROS. Sharon, are you there? Thank you for joining us. Sharon, you live next to both Niima and Solo. What can you tell us about the unusual events leading to this case?

…in yet another twist, Captain of the Jakku Police Department, Leia Organa, announces her retirement today, after serving nearly forty years as an Omega law enforcement officer…and – wait is that right? –  yes, to make the story even more bizarre, Organa happens to be the defendant’s mother as well as sister to State Prosecutor Luke Skywalker. Wait. Bob, are you sure that’s…? Really? Okay, it’s real. This is turning into quite the family saga, folks. Stay tuned…

 

Rey tries to ignore the voices of reporters all around as she sits stiffly in the first row of spectators, right behind the bar between the gallery and counsel tables. Ben lounges at the table to the right, Snoke seated just behind him.

By the looks Ben keeps shooting her way, he isn’t even remotely close to okay.

He looks like he’s not eaten a proper meal in ages.

It hurts to think about it, to think about him, to know he’s truly sorry and to see him like this. She hasn’t seen him for a month.

She tries not to stare as the reporters continue to shuffle at the back of the room and drone on. Court is scheduled to be in session soon, and the courtroom fills with curious spectators and lawyers and more reporters and cops, until the place is packed with people and anticipation hovers thickly around them all.

As the room fills, Phasma sits next to Rey, patting her leg with occasional murmurs of sympathy and providing a friendly, reassuring presence, and Ben continues to glance at her from the corner of his eye, looking for all the world like a kicked puppy.

Rey hears Antilles and Piggy speaking in low undertones behind her and wonders if any members of the First Order are among the room’s audience, although she doubts they will announce their presence with any conspicuous behavior or loud, incriminating declarations of their own criminal activity.

Nevertheless, if Snoke is present, then he undoubtedly has minions nearby. Rey wonders if Hux will appear, although she is relieved she doesn’t have to encounter his reptilian gaze just yet.

A shock of electric energy zaps through the courtroom as the heavy doors open and a smallish, older man walks quickly to the table where Poe Dameron waits. The man wears an elegantly-cut three-piece suit in charcoal gray, silver hair brushed neatly aside, beard trimmed around his still-youthful face. His blue eyes spark with intelligence and charisma, and he captures Rey’s attention immediately.

She knows exactly who it is, of course.

Ben’s uncle. Luke Skywalker, who is here to prosecute Ben and personally set into motion the demolition of the First Order in the wake of a coordinated joint sting operation that resulted in the mass-arrest of the First Order’s leaders, thanks to an anonymous tip.

Rey knows if they can make the charges stick to Ben today, then the rest of the First Order will be routed and crushed, falling like dominos, starting with Snoke. That Snoke is present will only make it easier for him to be detained and arrested if Luke wins the day.

Still, Rey thinks it odd that Snoke isn’t hiding out somewhere safer. He must know his cronies have all been taken into custody not an hour ago…

Reporters swarm Luke, but he evades them all effortlessly, making his way to the table next to Ben’s at the front of the courtroom directly in front of Rey.

He places his briefcase on the table and turns to Leia, who sits stonily on Rey’s other side.

“Hey, sis. Long time. You changed your hair.” As a greeting between siblings, it isn’t what Rey would have expected, but Leia takes it in stride and shakes her head at her brother, taking his outstretched hand amid cameras flashing and reporters hissing into microphones.

Luke’s eyes wander to Rey, and she straightens her spine unconsciously. She squirms uneasily in her seat under Skywalker’s omniscient gaze.

“Detective Niima, your testimony is imperative to today’s case. I assume you’ve been prepped by Dameron and his staff?”

Rey swallows and nods, “Yessir.” Her eyes swing unwillingly to Ben, who is watching Luke for a change. She turns quickly back to Luke.

“I, um, I hear you’re really good. One of the best in the state,” she says lamely, trying to cover her straying glance...

One of the best in the state, Ben had once bragged to Finn in a dimly-lit bar forever ago.

Luke smirks, and if Rey couldn’t see the family resemblance before, she sees it now. That cocky arrogance is devastatingly familiar. She’s witnessed it on Ben Solo’s face a million times.

As if to underscore her thought, Luke tilts his chin and raises both eyebrows. “Not one of the best. I’m the best. Period.”

He nods to Phasma politely and turns to face the front of the courtroom, not glancing in Ben’s direction even once. Ben looks shaken and worried, but determined.

Rey’s stomach churns nervously and she wonders if today is going to play out the way she thinks...

“All rise!”

Rey's mind drifts as the room is brought to order and the trial proceeds, but her attention snaps to focus at the sound of Ben's name. 

“I call Benjamin Rian Solo to the stand,” Luke states almost quietly to the courtroom. Pandemonium erupts behind him as every reporter leaps into action.

Ackbar’s gavel bangs down for thirty full seconds before quiet, or relative quiet, reigns again as Ben takes the stand.

He is sworn in and states his name for the record, staring straight ahead. Rey knows he is concentrating intently and she finds herself holding her breath.

The air in the room is charged between Solo and Skywalker, and for a moment, Rey wonders if anything else exists in the world except the emotional current flowing freely between the two.

It quickly becomes clear Ben has no intention of playing nicely. He openly glares at his uncle, who does not falter under Ben's formidable frown.

Luke's polite, almost apologetic demeanor contrasts sharply with Ben's, who is nearly spitting with animosity.

“On the morning Mr. Snoke’s warrant was served, can you please describe what you were doing at the courthouse?” Luke asks courteously.

Ben’s eyes flicker to Rey’s. “I was there to speak with Detective Niima.”

"Speak to her in an official capacity?"

"No."

"So you had no official business with her that day?"

Ben swallows, and Rey catches a flicker of nerves. "No."

“You were only at the courthouse to speak to Detective Niima?"

Ben nods. "Yes."

"Speak to her about what?” Luke shakes his head as if confused.

Ben glares at him. “Personal things.”

“Can you please explain the nature of your conversation?” Luke inquires politely.

Ben glowers at him. “The conversation was of a personal nature,” he answers evasively, scorn dripping from his voice. Rey feels a slight flush creep over her cheeks at the rustle and hiss of reporters whispering into cameras behind her.

Luke nods. “I understand. Did the topic of Mr. Snoke’s warrant arise at any point during this personal conversation?” Luke places a very slight emphasis on the word personal, and Rey's cheeks burn as she recalls the way Ben caged her up against that wall and kissed her...

Ben does not respond and Ackbar prompts, "Answer the question, counselor."

A trickle of apprehension races along Rey’s spine. “I decline to answer and invoke my right to the Fifth Amendment.”

Snoke smirks, and Rey catches it from the side of her eye. Next to her Leia holds her breath.

Rey exhales slowly, hoping this isn’t all going to blow up in Ben’s face. She was expecting him to do that.

Luke sighs.

“Did you speak to Mr. Snoke at all that morning? After your conversation with Detective Niima at the courthouse?”

Ben states again, harsher this time, “I decline to answer. Fifth Amendment.”

Luke nods again, as if he’s expecting this. He asks a few more questions, all of which Ben declines to answer, before finally excusing Ben from the stand.

Rey’s pulse picks up as Ben strolls smoothly back to his place at the defense table. 

“Next witness?” Ackbar asks.

Rey’s nerves leap under her skin like water on a hot frying pan.

It’s time. Her turn.

Luke says clearly and loudly, “I call Detective Rey Niima to the stand, Your Honor.”

Rey stands and makes her way to the front of the courtroom, seating herself in the witness box next to Ackbar.

She is sworn in and states her name for the record, nervously meeting Luke’s eyes and avoiding Ben’s.

“I object to this witness, Your Honor.” Ben speaks clearly and firmly, and the room erupts into quiet rumbling until Ackbar’s gavel slams down bringing everyone to quiet.

“Mr. Solo?”

“I object on grounds of Spousal Testimonial Privilege. Under United States Federal law, spousal testimony may be barred in case of  –”

“I am aware of the law, counselor. However, Detective Niima is not technically your spouse,” Ackbar growls.

Ben shoots her a burning look and Rey sits up straight.

“She isn’t technically, Your Honor. Yet. An oversight which I plan to rectify as soon as possible, if she will allow it. However, I’m asking for you to make a ruling to grant Spousal Privilege based on the nature of our bond. We’re mated, sir, and that is unbreakable, even in a court of law.” His voice snaps with authority, austere and just loud enough to carry through to every corner of the room.

“Based on the permanence of your bond, you are asking to be treated as a married couple, considered as one person?” Ackbar asks, tapping his fingers together thoughtfully.

“We are, Your Honor. She’s mine…and…we belong to each other, sir.”

Ben says that last directly to her from across the room, his eyes blazing into hers, hot enough to melt steel. Rey’s stomach rolls with a million little flutters.

He looks so serious and handsome, she mouths “I love you” before she even realizes what she’s doing, before considering the implications of doing it in front of dozens of cameras, reporters, and a courtroom full of curious onlookers.

Ben winks back and mouths “I know” back to her, seemingly uncaring that every spectator in the room is eating it up.

Ackbar, sharp as ever, doesn’t miss the exchange. “Precedent for this, Mr. Solo?”

“There is none, Your Honor.”

“I might agree to rule in favor of that, Mr. Solo, if Detective Niima agrees –”

Rey speaks clearly, “I do, Your Honor. We’re as good as married.” She smiles shyly at Ben, her heart beating wildly. She had not been expecting Ben to do that

Ackbar pauses, jowls working as he purses his lips in consideration.

“Very well. I’ll allow it. Dawn,” he says to the court transcriber, “let the record show my ruling that a mating bond shall be considered the equivalent of marriage when exercising the right of Spousal Testimonial Privilege.” He turns to Rey with a gruff whisper. “You may take your seat, Detective. And I’m glad to see you two finally worked things out.”

Rey mutters a thank you and goes back to her seat, avoiding Luke’s gaze as her cheeks flare with heat.

She sits between Phasma and Leia again, and mutters, “I’m sorry, Captain, I just couldn’t…”

Leia just pats her leg and the barest hint of a smile twitches at her lips. 

Phasma shifts next to her and Rey glances over. She catches another glimpse of Snoke, seated across from them on the other side of the aisle.

Now that the Prosecution has apparently lost Rey as a key witness, Snoke is practically radiating smug superiority.

“Next witness?” Ackbar asks again, deep voice resonating through the room.

Luke speaks loudly to the room at large, “I call Officer Wedge Antilles to the stand.”

Every eye in the room turns to the officer in question, seated just behind Rey.

He makes his way to the witness box, and Rey steals another glance at Snoke.

Antilles is sworn in and Rey’s skin is crawling with nervous awareness. 

Luke paces a minute before he asks, “Officer. Can you please confirm whether Mr. Solo was present in the corridor outside the Police Department on the morning you assisted Detective Niima in serving Mr. Snoke's warrant?”

Antilles looks back and forth between Ben’s dark stare and Rey’s serious frown. “Yes. He was there.”

"Do you remember the time?"

"It was about quarter after nine, or so, I guess." 

"Please describe what Detective Niima and you discussed in the corridor immediately prior to Mr. Solo's appearance that morning."

"She asked if I would help her serve a warrant and mentioned her best wishes for Officer Porkins' speedy recovery."

"And then Mr. Solo appeared, and you went into the Police Department?"

"Yes."

“Did you hear any part of their conversation?” Luke inquires. 

Antilles swallows and leans back in his seat. “No…I went inside before I could hear anything they said…”

"Did Detective Niima mention anyone else who knew about that warrant and when it would be served?"

"No, sir. She said only a few people knew...she asked me to keep it confidential."

"And did you?"

"Yes."

Luke evaluates him for a moment, before saying off-handedly to Ben. “Your witness.”

Ben stands to cross-examine, and a small ripple of excitement runs through the courtroom.

Luke shakes his head next to Poe in a hushed conversation.

Rey steals another glance at Snoke, but he is speaking to the bodyguard next to him, looking cold and oily as ever.

Her pulse is going a mile a minute as Ben begins his questioning.

“Officer Antilles. On the morning in question – the day Mr. Snoke’s warrant was served – can you tell me when you specifically became aware the warrant would be served that day?”

“I was informed by Detective Niima, immediately before she spoke to you outside the Police Department,” Antilles hisses. Whereas he was aloof with Luke, with Ben he is openly venomous.

Rey’s pulse kicks up a notch.

"Until that point, who else knew about the warrant?” Ben asks.

“Objection! He’s asking the witness to speculate, Your Honor.”

“Sustained,” Ackbar grunts, furrowing his brows in warning at Ben.

Ben continues, unruffled, “Officer Antilles, aside from Detective Niima, were any other officers there to serve the warrant that morning?”

“Yes. Lieutenant Phasma was with us,” Antilles mutters, but quietly, glaring at Phasma.

“And the three of you rode together? On the way to Mr. Snoke’s?”

“Relevance?” Luke interrupts.

“I have a point, Your Honor,” Ben replies smoothly.

“Then make it.” Ackbar looks irritated.

“Did any of the three of you, on the way to Mr. Snoke’s residence, make any calls or communications of any kind?”

“Yes,” Wedge says. Now he’s scowling at Phasma outright. “Detective Niima made a call to the station.”

“Can you please describe the call she made?”

“She asked for all available patrol cars to follow us to Mr. Snoke’s for backup.”

“Anything else?” Ben asks silkily.

“She told them she intended to serve a warrant at Mr. Snoke’s address.”

“So…then the officers she called to provide backup did not know of the warrant until Detective Niima made that call in the car, on the way to Mr. Snoke’s?”

“No – I mean...I don't -”

“Objection! I move to strike that from the record, Your Honor! Mr. Solo is once again asking the witness to speculate...” Luke sounds annoyed and he’s glaring sternly at his nephew.

“Sustained. Mr. Solo, you are walking a fine line,” Ackbar growls in warning.

Rey’s heart is going to beat out of her chest, but Ben looks calm and in control...

“Was backup present at the time the warrant was served?” Ben asks.

“Yes.”

“To your knowledge, Officer, when was backup called for the first time?”

Antilles looks at Luke, but Luke is not objecting, so he must answer the question. “In the car. On the way to Mr. Snoke’s.”

“And how long was the drive there? To Mr. Snoke’s?”

“About ten minutes. Maybe fifteen.”

“So, to your knowledge, Officer, the only people who would have been aware of that warrant, who would have had time to warn Snoke to be ready with his lawyer present, were the three cops serving it, the Captain who issued it, and the judge who signed it? And myself, assuming that was a topic of conversation between Niima and me in the hallway that morning?”

The courtroom catches Ben’s implication. He is not denying Snoke was forewarned. Rey hears restless murmuring all around...

“Objection!” Skywalker shouts, this time startling her.

Ben pushes through over the buzz of voices. “Your Honor, I suggest it is possible someone other than myself tipped Snoke off. Someone who had enough time to warn him and a motive to do so.”

The courtroom erupts into chaos. Snoke looks furious.

“Objection overruled, and if I have to silence this courtroom again, I will CLEAR the room!” Ackbar roars magnificently, fully in his element given the added  theatrics of the camera crews and lawyers.

Everyone settles down, and Ben takes a deep breath and sweeps a glance back to Rey before turning to Antilles, a wolf going in for the kill…

“Officer Antilles. One last question.”

 

Last Month –

Ben blinks hazily up into dark brown eyes scowling down at him. When he comprehends it is Finn Storm and the fucker punched his lights out, Ben is ready to come up swinging.

But a soft, restraining hand holds him back, and he pauses. Rey.

Finn holds a penlight into Ben’s eyes and frowns as he concentrates.

“Doesn’t look like a concussion, Peanut. Not that he doesn’t deserve anything less.”

Finn shakes his hand grumpily and Ben hopes the surgeon cracked a knuckle, life-saving hands be damned.

“Finn! I wish you’d have let me explain before you just –” Rey huffs.

“Before I what? Did what I promised I would do if he ever hurt you?”

“What?” Rey sounds exasperated. Finn should probably quit while he's ahead, but Ben isn't about to do him any favors and warn him.

“I told this piece of shit if he couldn’t figure out a way to un-fuck the mess with his boss and it came back to hurt you, I’d personally send him to the ER…” Finn growls. 

Ben decides to stay put, sensing Rey’s ire isn’t directed fully at him for a change. It's kind of nice.

“So, you knew about Snoke blackmailing him this whole time and kept it from me?” Yep. Rey’s definitely upset, and not at Ben. Rather a pleasant experience, Ben thinks smugly. He shoots Finn a malicious grin. 

“Well. Now, Peanut…”

“Don’t you call me that, Finn. Don’t even think I’m letting you off the hook for this!”

A wave of dizziness hits Ben as they snipe at each other. Their raised voices are sending spikes of pain into his head.

“Guys!” Ben finally moans, clutching his throbbing skull. “Please. Fuck! Can you keep it down?”

Rey whirls on him and snaps, “Move one inch and I will put you out again, Ben!”

“Why are you yelling at me? What did I do?” Ben asks, affronted. She was literally melting in his arms before her ex-boyfriend showed up and punched him –

Ben glares at Finn, and Finn glares back.

“You warned your damn boss I was coming for him today!” Rey accuses.

Finn’s eyes narrow at Ben.

“I didn’t!” Ben shouts, not eager to tussle with Finn at the moment, who looks like he’s gearing up for another punch.

“He knew!

“Yeah, he knew,” Ben mutters. “But he already knew when I called him this morning. Someone else told him first. I was just about to explain before -”

“What?” Rey sinks onto the sofa, still wrapped in just a throw. “But…nobody else could have, Ben.”

“Tell me.” Ben prods gently.

“Ackbar signed the warrant. The Captain knew, too. And me, and…” Rey pauses.

“Who else?”

Rey stares at him, mouth agape.

“Who else knew about that warrant, Rey?” Ben prods again.

“Just Phasma. And Antilles. I spoke with Phasma an hour before I ran into you. And Antilles didn't know until the last minute...but...so, one of them is the mole? That can't be right.”

“It’s not Phasma.” Ben sounds sure of it. 

“But, Ben. Antilles didn't know until the last minute," Rey repeats. "I only asked him to come along, because…”

“It can’t be Phasma, Rey,” Ben assures her. “Snoke referred to his source as a ‘him’ and a ‘he’.”

“You’re sure?” Rey asks.

“Positive.”

"Captain Organa told me she had a strong suspicion on the mole's identity..."

“Rey. What were they doing there that night at the warehouse? Porkins and Antilles?” Ben asks quietly. “The night you killed Shand?”

Rey shakes her head.

“That night…the night you shot Shand,” Ben says intently, “Mother told me my presence was putting everyone in danger. She must have had strong suspicions that the mole was there, at the crime scene. Snoke told me earlier that same day new evidence had come to light...but that he didn't want his mole involved with the Leech situation...but it has to be Antilles. Porkins was out of commission that night - he was shot by the time I showed up, remember? But Antilles wasn't - he was there, after. When mother warned me I was putting everyone in danger...she meant because Antilles was watching..."

“Porkins…” Rey whispers. "He knew, too."

"What?"

Rey blinks at him and he can see her fitting the puzzle pieces together.

Rey swallows. "Oh, shit. I called him this morning. Right after I spoke with Phasma. I asked him if he was up for it, but he said he had a doctor's appointment and couldn't make it...he said he was out of it from the painkillers, still. And then, when I talked to Antilles I reminded him to say hello and tell Porkins to feel better, and…but Porkins already knew about that warrant. Because I told him."

His mind works rapidly as they both come to the same conclusion.

“What if there are two moles?” Rey asks. "Leia must have suspected and sent them to that warehouse...?"

"Yes. She got the jump on Snoke. She guessed they were working for him. She sent them there to take out Leech or stop the First Order, either of which would have thwarted Snoke's plan. It's the only explanation. Mother was trying to protect us all, I think. She didn’t know Snoke had already ordered me to …”

He can’t say it out loud, but she finishes the sentence seamlessly and without rancor. “…to bite me?”

“Yeah. She wanted to keep us apart – she mentioned it when I helped her with dinner ages ago. She hinted strongly that you were…”

“Was what?”

Just using me for sex. Ben looks at her solemnly. “That you were too good for me,” he says instead.

“But before dinner, she called me your girlfriend and told you to bring me along…?”

“She assigned you the Snoke case right after she said that. Then at dinner, she tried to hint we shouldn't be together...”

“Yes. The day she assigned me Snoke's case, she would have scented…you all over me…from that…from what we did in the closet…”

“She would have figured out we were attracted to each other…but later, when she spoke to me at dinner, she was trying to protect you…and me…keep us apart…”

“So...she must have found out something between the time she invited me to dinner and the time we actually went. Something proving Antilles and Porkins were dirty cops. When I went with you, she gave me two weeks off…and when I came back to work smelling like…”

“Me. Yeah…and Luke knew, too. He called me on the way home, when I was driving, remember?”

“I didn’t know it was Luke who called.” 

Ben recalls conversation.

“Ben?”

“Yessir.”

“Leia called me just now. Said you showed up at a crime scene where you had no business being…Do you know how suspicious that looks? Do I need to pursue an investigation on this?”

“That won’t be necessary, sir.”

“Ben. I want to believe in you. I want to believe Snoke didn’t tell you to be there. I know he’s got a hold on you. I want to believe you are working to get out from whatever it is…tell me you are, and I’ll drop it.”

“Yes. I’m taking care of it…as soon as possible.”

“Leia’s worried about you and Rey – the Omega? Your girlfriend? Rey is investigating your boss, and that’s putting her at plenty of risk as it is. Your being involved with her is only going to increase the danger to you both. You know that, right?”

“Yes. I’m aware of it.”

But nobody but Snoke and Ben knew that Snoke had already ordered Ben to take her weeks before, so he could manipulate her…

Ben feels a tiny spark of hope as understanding dawns in Rey’s eyes.

“So…you put it off for as long as you could…” Rey breathes.

As admirable as that might have been, Ben decides outright honesty is what she deserves from now on. No matter what.

He looks at her and gives her his brutally honest answer, come hell or what may. “Rey.The only reason I bit you that night was because you belong to me. I would have done it sooner, but...that night, Snoke had nothing to do with it. Neither did Luke or my mother. Or you killing Crokind Shand. That night…that was between you and me alone. I swear it. And, yes, I should have told you everything else sooner, much sooner, but…I was trying to figure out a way to get rid of Snoke on my own…”

“How?” Rey asks, eyes gleaming with fresh tears. But this time they are tears of sympathy…and forgiveness.

Finn grunts next to him as he realizes Ben lied to him about having a plan to un-fuck the Snoke problem.

Ben looks back to Rey, and he can see it in her eyes. She’s already forgiven him for all of it.

Ben’s heart swells as he realizes his extreme good fortune in having such a compassionate mate.

“I have to take down the First Order. The whole thing, in one fell swoop.”

“You can’t! They’ll have you killed.”

“Not if I can get him where I’m best. In court. If I can get Snoke on the stand...”

Rey shakes her head, remembering the deadly gleam in his eyes earlier that morning. Snoke would never willingly take the stand.

“Luke can help. With his connections with the FBI and Homeland, he can get something bigger set up to really root out the First Order for good," Ben insists. "Arrest Snoke before that, and it’s only chopping the head off a hydra.”

Finn interjects interestedly, “Take the head, two more grow back.”

Ben nods in agreement. “Exactly. We need to get all the heads, at the same time.”

“They had AK-47s that night,” Rey muses. “First Order weaponry.”

“And Snoke told me the First Order was already moving in…he wants the Tasu Leech cold case reopened…”

“Yes, I can reopen it and nail those guys while I’m at it!” She smiles. “Antilles and Piggy found some very incriminating evidence against Kanjiklub that night…”

Ben recalls Snoke’s words. Some new evidence has recently come to light.

Rey is watching him, waiting for him to confirm they might just have a plan.

She will reopen the cold case and Ben will be, in Snoke’s eyes, following orders. Porkins and Antilles will be on high alert and on Snoke's bad side for fucking up at the warehouse. He'll be too focused on their fuck-up to focus too much on Rey or Ben...

It’s not bad, as far as plans go.

Reopening the case means Snoke will be feeling safe, thinking Ben is following orders and Rey is doing as instructed. 

“I’ll talk to Luke. It’s better for you not to be involved,” she tells Ben, “And then, when the time comes, I’ll testify on your behalf. Help you take down Snoke…”

“You’d take the stand for me?” he murmurs. “After I was such an asshole all this time?”

Rey smiles. “Even better. I’m telling your mother on you. For interfering in an official investigation.”

Ben smirks. Leia would appear to be on a false trail, too, he realizes, if she arrests Ben. The moles will think they are totally safe…

And it won’t surprise anyone who knows Leia Organa that she would arrest her only son, cold-blooded bitch that she is. Nobody would bat an eye over it.

But Ben might have to be in jail for months until everything can be brought to trial.

Ben hates the idea of being separated from Rey again so soon...

“Ben. It’s okay. I’ll help you,” she promises softly.

Hell. She’s strong enough to be without him for a while. Stronger than he could ever be.

He smiles at her, making his decision. “You’d be just enough of an asshole to tell on me, wouldn’t you?”

Finn looks at them both with a dubious shake of his head.

“I knew you were perfect for each other,” he grins. “Both of you are assholes.”

 

In Court –

Antilles looks coldly defiant, but Rey can see the guilt on his face. Her heart sinks. Phasma sits stiffly next to her.

Ben regards Antilles for a few long seconds for full dramatic effect.

He really is quite something, Rey thinks to herself.

“How long have you and your partner been working for Albert Snoke?”

Wedge’s mouth gapes open, and Rey’s stomach lurches, hard, as she loosens the leather strap on her holster.

Rey is listening to Ben, but she’s watching Snoke.

Her gut tells her Snoke has no intention of taking the stand or allowing Antilles to answer that question. 

Wedge stares at Ben and Ackbar growls at him to answer, but nobody else is watching Snoke, and they can’t see what Rey can see – Snoke lifts his hand almost imperceptibly, and one of his bodyguards moves strangely at his side.

No!

Snoke’s man is lifting a gun and pointing it at Ben and moving so smoothly it’s almost in slow motion.

In that moment, in that heartbeat of time, Rey can smell and hear and see every fine detail, down to the weave of the fabric on Ben’s suit jacket. 

He’s mine.

Rey reacts on pure instinct and does the only thing her brain is screaming at her to do, now, do it now fucking do it!

Snoke’s man’s arm straightens, Phasma turns in shock to Rey, but nobody else is paying attention because they are all watching panic and guilt cross Antilles’s face…

She pulls her trigger, and the bodyguard drops like a rock across the room to the deafening bang of her gunshot and the bodyguard's own wild shot, gone off at nearly the same time.

“Get DOWN!” she shrieks to Ben, even as his face turns white and she whirls to meet the threat behind her.

But, she has no idea if he ever hears her over the people screaming and panicking as several more shots echo into the instant chaos.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eighteen – Love Thy Neighbor

 

Two Months Later, Sunday Dinner –

“Pass the salt,” Han mutters to his brother-in-law.

Luke stretches his hand for the salt shaker at the same time as Rey, and she draws her hand back, letting Luke take it.

“I know it’s under-seasoned, Han! Ben took those damn recipe cards, and –” Leia snipes from her seat at the end of the table.

Rey ducks her head and presses her lips together, suppressing a giggle. Ben did take those cards, she’s sure of it.

“How’s packing going?” Leia turns a beady eye to Rey.

Rey chews her bite of chicken and replies vaguely, “It’s going all right. Ben has a ton of books. Thirty-seven boxes, so far.”

Luke smiles at her, bright blue eyes twinkling. “I can’t believe he’s donating all of them to the high school. He always loved his books.”

Rey nods. “Yeah, well, he figures since he’s going to be working there when he gets back from Washington, he’ll still be able to look at them whenever he wants. And, we won’t have room for them at my place…um. Our place.”

Han grunts, “Boy’s finally doing the right thing.”

Rey looks at Ben’s father in mild query. Han could be referring to several possible changes Ben is making.

“Selling that mausoleum of a house.” Han confirms. “I never understood why he bought the damn thing in the first place.”

Rey grins and cuts another bite of under-seasoned chicken. She would bet money Ben bought the place to be an asshole show-off and annoy his family. “Well, I’m glad he was there when I moved in next door, or we would never have met.”

Leia purses her lips and lifts a brow to Han. "I'm glad, too, although Amilyn has bitched about the occasional noise and gunshots..."

Rey swallows guiltily and meets Leia's eyes, but Leia is grinning. Rey, still unused to seeing this softer side of her boss, smiles back somewhat shyly.

Luke says around a bite of salad, “Well, I spoke to Ben this morning, and I was going to wait until dessert before announcing it, but…”

Rey drops her fork and gasps. “What?”

“Ben’s testimony in federal court is going really well. Snoke is up for several life sentences, as are a few other First Order leaders. Ben cut a helluva plea bargain – Hux wasn’t so lucky – but the Snoke trial is wrapping up in the next day or two. Ben should be home soon.”

Rey’s heart flutters at the thought.

Good. She's going crazy without him, and if he's home before her next heat he might just kick start it a few days early...

She takes another bite of chicken and wills herself not to blush, knowing the others can probably smell her near-desperate longing for her mate.

He’s been in Washington D.C. for months, working with the FBI and federal prosecutors, appearing in court to do his part to take down the First Order. While they speak on the phone every night, it isn't even close to the same as being with him, touching his face and hair, and feeling the warmth of him sink into her, and inhaling his marvelous scent...

Han smirks, bringing Rey’s thoughts back to the present. “I can’t wait to see how he does around a roomful of high-schoolers. I always thought Ben avoided kids like the plague. Figured he didn't like 'em.”

Not necessarily, Rey almost says, remembering how great he was teaching the kids at Sacred Heart. He was so patient and gentle. For some reason she wants to keep those moments to herself, those private little memories of their time at the orphanage, so she doesn't argue with Han's statement. 

Still, she recalls her own mild surprise Ben was so willing to apply for a teaching job that pays next to nothing. Especially in comparison to his lawyer salary. 

But, when Maz hinted the high school needed a woodshop teacher, Ben agreed to help out. He has the appropriate level of education and enough practical experience to justify the hire to the community, not that anyone is arguing against it. Ben seems continuously surprised at the generous and forgiving nature of the people in their small town. If anything, it has derailed his ego quite a bit, not that there isn't plenty still left...

Nevertheless, when they talk about it, Ben seems almost relieved he will have something to do when he returns. He also agreed to coach the school’s debate team, which he claims, with the right leadership, might even make it to state competition next year. This statement comes as no surprise at all to Rey, who knows Ben’s innate, ferocious competitiveness will filter down into his students, as well.

During one of their calls, Ben mentioned his worry that people would not want a criminal around their kids, but Rey argued he was doing the right thing in the end, and if anyone deserved a second chance it was him. And considering Maz, Ackbar, and Holdo were all on the school board, Rey assured him he had people championing him and willing to help him turn over a new leaf.

Her faith in him helped get them both through the next couple of months apart. Rey suspects it’s been near-torture for him, although he’s maintained an almost heartbreaking effort to stay positive. Rey can see right through the brave façade, knowing he has never relied so much on others for help, and knowing he hates feeling beholden to anyone.

And their separation hasn’t been easy for her, either.

Her heart aches with an almost terrible emptiness. She misses him dreadfully. Every passing minute seems to drag into a small eternity.

Still. When he’s done, he’ll be home for good, and they will have the rest of their lives to make up for lost time.

Luke quietly watches Rey, reading her thoughts with his typical omniscience. “Don’t be sad, Rey. He’ll be home soon enough! Now. Who wants dessert? I brought cake.”

Rey forces a smile and reminds herself she has plenty to keep her busy before Ben returns, including finishing packing and moving his things to her place.

She helps Luke clear the table, checking the time. Phasma will be coming over later to help, which will be a good distraction. 

Phasma has been a wonderful help and support, and Rey has made particular efforts to cultivate that friendship. Rey suspects she enjoys Phas's company because Phasma emanates the same cocky, self-superior vibe as Ben. She knows it will be interesting to watch those two form a friendship…

And Finn stays in close contact, too, especially after the terrifying events of Ben’s trial.

Rey even made a weekend trip out to Seattle to hang out with Finn. Finn is thriving there, and he seems happier than he’s ever been.

He casually mentioned he’d been texting Ben, checking up on him, Alpha-to-Alpha, since Ben didn’t seem to have many friends. Rey loves him for that.

Finn also finally came clean and told her everything that happened that night at Mos Eisley.

It was pretty much as she’d suspected, and Rey shook her head and muttered something about Alpha assholes taking over the world, but there was no heat in her accusation. She could see Finn knew he was forgiven.

She wishes she’d had time to talk to Antilles and Porkins before things went the way they did. She would have liked to at least try to understand what made them do it, what would make them betray everyone, the community, for Snoke’s heartless regime. It hurts to think two people she thought she knew well turned out to be so corrupt.

Wedge and Piggy had gone to that warehouse that night under the pretense of following Leia's orders. But really they'd intended to rid themselves of witnesses in a double-cross against Kanjiklub. Snoke had offered a much more lucrative deal with the First Order, although from what Rey had been able to piece together from Ben, Snoke had not sanctioned that particular action – Snoke had planned to keep the two far away from the Leech case. Which is why he’d come to Ben’s trial with thugs and guns.

Her gut tightens with remorse as she recalls that day in court, months ago.

After she shot Snoke’s man, her only concern had been getting to Ben. But something tangible had crossed their bond when he looked at her in sheer panic, something that had screamed of danger just behind her. Ben later told her he’d never had a more terrifying moment in his life when he saw Porkins raise his gun at Rey’s back.

Nobody had been paying attention to Porkins, except for Phasma. Fortunately, Phasma had been watching the undercurrents between Antilles on the stand and Porkins seated behind them. She was smart enough to put two and two together.

Porkins had raised his gun and pointed it at Rey, and Rey, at the look in Ben’s eyes, had whipped around to face the danger behind her, sure she was going to die.

But, Phasma shot him in the nick of time.

Ironically Porkins’s stray bullet ended up across the room, in his partner, instead.

Wedge Antilles died instantly, still in his seat in the witness box, shock and guilt the last expression on his face.

A few of Snoke’s men were trying to shoot at Ben, but the chaos made it hard for them to find him - he’d ducked when Rey ordered him to, but only instinctively, before he started trying to scramble to her.

Snoke himself had grabbed up the gun dropped by the man Rey shot. He had it pointed at Ben, who was scrambling across the aisle to get to Rey…but Rey was watching Snoke, not Ben.

She lifted her gun to shoot him, when from behind her, Leia called out, “Snoke!”

The distraction was enough for Snoke to raise his gun, turning his attention away from Ben.

Leia herself shot Snoke in the arm, a helluva shot from across the room. 

Suddenly everything had become dead quiet as the crowd shuffled and Ackbar poked his head up from behind the bench.

After the pandemonium, the relative silence emphasized the collective shock. Thankfully no civilians had been injured.

Ben was taken into custody until the trial could be finished. Snoke was given medical attention and then was also arrested. When Rey asked Leia why she didn't just kill the villain, Leia told her coldly that life in prison was a far better punishment than a quick, clean death.

However, Snoke didn't hesitate to spill the beans about what he’d been holding over Ben all this time.

But, Snoke hadn't been counting on Luke Skywalker taking Ben's side; Luke promised he would help. Luke did everything he could, pulled every string he had, to help Ben cut a deal that won't land him in prison.

While Ben lost his license to practice law and agreed to provide testimony in Washington D.C. in exchange for serving time in prison, it meant it would be months before he could return to Rey.

Less concerning to both of them, Ben will be on house arrest until school starts in September. He will no longer be able to afford his extravagant house or car or lifestyle.

Rey knows that is the least of his worries.

On their phone call the night before, she fretted over how he feels about so much change, finally asking him outright. He just laughed and told her he doesn’t give a shit about that stuff. He only cares about being with her for as long as she'll have him.

She asked if he had a problem with her being a cop and he told her she could be anything she wanted. He thanked her for saving his life. He had sounded so proud of her, and she knew he meant every word. He called her his warrior queen and told her he didn't care what she does for a living, so long as it makes her happy and so long as she keeps the handcuffs.

At the thought of handcuffs, she feels her face heat and she pulls her thoughts back to the moment. Sunday dinner with Ben’s family.

Luke slides her a piece of cake with a wink and a smile. 

Han grunts and takes a bite of cake and Leia flashes him a grin so full of love, it stops Rey in her tracks. She's their family, too, she realizes. And they are hers. 

Somehow she just knows everything is going to work out fine.

 

She’s on the verge of going into heat again and distracting herself with chores.

Ben is due to be home any minute, now, and she doesn’t feel ready… She’s nervous as hell and she hasn’t seen him for ages and ages…

She hears the rhythmic snipping of hedge trimmers on the other side of the fence and even after Sharon talked to those reporters at Ben’s trial, Rey doesn’t have the energy to pick a fight.

She stares at the hole under the fence and hefts her spade, ready to fill it in. Beebee will probably dig it up again, as he’s done twice already, and Rey is going to need to find a more permanent solution.

A shiver runs down her spine.

He’s here.

“Are you gonna marry me, now?” his voice is soft as he approaches quietly.

As it always does, her stomach flutters wildly at his nearness. She leans her spade against the fence and turns to greet him.

“Are you going to ask me nicely?” she retorts, eyes sparking mischievously.

To her surprise, he bends to one knee, right there in the garden. Rey is oddly touched as he takes her hand and stares earnestly up at her.

“Rey. I’m…I don’t know what to say. After the danger I put you in. After all of it…at the end of the day I’m a total asshole and I don’t deserve you,” he looks up at her, sincerity written all over his handsome face. “The only thing I’ve ever done right in my whole life is fall in love with you.”

Rey laughs as he pulls her close, hugging her to him, pressing his head against her belly.

“Will you marry me, baby? I love you so much.”

Rey nods and murmurs, “Yes, Alpha.”

They hear rapid snipping resume on the other side of the fence, and she giggles, knowing Sharon’s been eavesdropping on their conversation.

“How is that ankle bracelet not going off right now?” Rey murmurs as he grins and stands up.

“Maybe they used the old property line to set the boundary?”

Rey frowns. “Well, they need to update their system…we can’t have criminals like you on the loose…not in a nice neighborhood like this.”

His grin widens into a full-blown smirk. The one he always has ready, just for her.

Cocky bastard.

“Territorial Omegas and their damned property lines…” he grunts as he sweeps her into his arms, bridal style.

“Hey! You broke the do-over…”

“Kill the past…let it die…”

“We should have another do-over and just pretend none of the stuff over the past year and a half ever happened.” She raises her voice so Sharon can hear. If the damned woman is eavesdropping, she might as well hear something worthwhile... “We should just forgive and forget and –”

“Rey?”

“Hmmm?”

“Shut up and kiss me.”

 

  

EPILOGUE ~

 

“Dearly Beloved. We are gathered here today to finally make an honest man out of one of the sneakiest assholes ever to set foot in my courtroom. I don’t know how the hell this sonofabitch managed to catch such a prize as Niima here, but the –”

“Judge!”

“– the damn girl seems to like him, so I might as well legalize their union before –”

“Judge!”

“– she realizes…it’s a trap!”

Your Honor!” Rey cuts through the judge’s bellowing, finally. People are starting to stare.

“Wha-?”

“You already married us an hour ago! You’ve been drinking the punch, haven’t you?” Rey asks, slightly exasperated.

Ackbar looks blearily at the half-empty plastic cup in his hand before turning to Mrs. Holdo. “Is this your doing, ma’am?”

Holdo looks a bit tipsy herself and says in a confessional tone, “Judge, you have no idea how much alcohol I've needed over the past year, what with the goings-on in this neighborhood…lemme tell you…”

Ben has a feeling Holdo might mention the Incident, so he whirls his wife to the other side of the dance floor for some relative peace. The Resistance band is playing an eighties rock ballad with increased enthusiasm and volume, bringing their backyard barbeque slash wedding reception into full swing.

He spies Maz and his parents seated in mismatched lawn chairs at a folding table under the large canopy. They appear to be deep in conversation, although his mother looks years younger since she retired. Han laughs at something Maz says and Ben’s heart constricts just a little at the sound. He missed the sound of his dad laughing. He missed his mother’s sarcastic tones and his uncle’s slightly arrogant know-it-all superiority. He missed his family.

He catches Rey watching him and smiles down at her, pulling her close until she’s pressed against him and he’s half aroused and he should probably stop…

Just then, the Tico girls lead a line of kids from the Sacred Heart through the middle of the dance floor on a wild chase. They look to be playing some kind of game and all of them are shrieking with laughter.

Rey smiles at them before looking up to Ben. “You better be sure to thank Rosie and Paige for bringing cookies to the potluck. They said it was their last couple boxes of Samoas for a while…”

Ben whips his head to the table where the potluck food is spread out. He spies a familiar box and resists the urge to snag it and hide it before his uncle Luke gets his hands on it.

“I only see one box over there…” He glances at Rey, then back to his uncle again, and sure enough, Luke is eyeballing those cookies with pure avarice.

“Don’t worry. I saved a box and hid it in the house,” Rey smirks, bracing her arms around his neck, “and if you’re a good boy later, I might even share…”

Ben decides Luke should have whatever he wants after all his efforts to keep Ben out of prison. He grins down at Rey. “God, I love you.”

She smiles back. “I know.”

The music kicks into full volume, and the party becomes a full-swing celebration.

They decided a neighborhood potluck would be the best way to celebrate their wedding. Plus, Ben is still on house arrest...and hosting the party in Ben’s huge backyard seems like a good send-off before he puts the house on the market.

Ben spies Sharon hovering around the potluck table and wonders if she put raisins in the potato salad again. She catches his eye and sniffs, apparently still affronted over their longstanding quarreling.

“Sharon still hasn’t forgiven me for that zoning injunction…” Ben murmurs. “If she tosses dog shit over the fence again, I’m going to make her sorry…I swear to God…if she wants war, I’ll give her –”

Rey presses a finger over his lips, cutting off the threat, and they dance in silence for a few minutes.

He notices Kaydel Connix sitting with Finn and Poe Dameron, who seem to have formed an instant, unholy alliance. She’s talking to a few teenagers and glancing at Ben and wearing a shit-eating grin.

Rey giggles and asks, “Do you think we’re being too loud? The party, I mean?”

“Nah, besides, the whole neighborhood is here. We’re fine. And everyone already knows what bad neighbors we are anyhow, so it’s no big –”

“Mister Solo?”

Ben turns to greet the fresh-faced teenager approaching him. A few other kids hang back, watching and snickering. They look like they are up to something.

Oh, this can’t be good…

“Are you really going to coach our debate team next year?”

“Yep. I sure am.”

“Kaydel says you debated in college and went to nationals.”

“I did.”

“So…would you say you’re a master debater?” The kids snicker lewdly and Ben scowls at them, feeling his cheeks heat just a little. The little monsters.

A few nearby adults who overheard the exchange are grinning, too.

“Did you put them up to that?” he pulls Rey close and growls. Her eyes are sparking with mischief as he hugs her and shuffles her in a circle on the dance floor, burying his nose against her neck.

“I swear it was all Kaydel,” Rey laughs. “I just mentioned your trophies…” After Rey found his debate trophies when she was packing, she insisted on displaying them his new office, formerly her spare bedroom.

Ben huffs. “See if I help her again.”

“What did you tell her that was so helpful? Back when we were doing community service?” Rey asks curiously.

“Oh!” Ben blushes a bit, as if being caught in an act of kindness is a little embarrassing. “Well, she had to give a speech and she was nervous about it. So I told her to think of the cockiest asshole she knew and pretend she was him.”

Rey humphs. “Such a role model you are. Cocky asshole is pretty accurate, though, so…”

“Hmmm. I am a cocky asshole.” He kisses her ear and murmurs, “Did you know I’m a cunning linguist, too?”

She smacks his arm and hisses, “Behave!”

She rests her head on his chest and he grunts, “I might need you to check out my briefs later…or I could give you a debriefing…”

His chest shakes with silent laughter and she buries her face against him, trying not to make a scene.

“I can do this all day, sweetheart,” he mutters against her hair.

Good, she thinks.

She hopes he will do this for the rest of their lives.

Chapter Text

Epilogue, Part Nineteen

 

One Year Later…

“When was your last rut, Mr. Solo?”

Ben flushes as he stammers to answer the older woman checking his temperature. Dr. Kalonia is nearly twice his age and matter-of-fact as can be, but it doesn’t change his initial mortification at such a question.

He’s here for flu-like symptoms, not a goddamned interrogation on his sex life.

The doctor cocks a steely brow and waits patiently for him to get over himself.

“Uh…late August,” he eventually replies with the reluctance only a true Alpha demonstrates when forced to submit to another’s persistent questioning.

It was months ago, a year to the day Rey agreed to marry him. The thought sends a hot rush of blood to his groin and, under the doctor’s intense scrutiny, his embarrassment with the current conversation battles with the instant semi-arousal brought on by not-so-recent memories.

“Say, ahhh,” Kalonia directs, and Ben opens his mouth, complying with ill-concealed pique. “Hmmm. So, you’ve been achy, feverish, moody and agitated for the past few weeks, and it’s getting worse?”

Ben grumbles, “Yeah.”

He’s annoyed. Mostly because the good doctor quite correctly guessed the moody and agitated part.

“Your partner is due for a heat soon?” She prods at his scent gland with a gloved finger and Ben resists the illogical urge to slap her hand away.

“In a month. What of it?” he snaps, barely polite.

He only came in because Rey insisted. If he is getting sick, she won’t want anything to do with him and she’ll make him sleep on the couch until she’s sure he’s no longer contagious.

But lately, Ben’s been feeling…out of sorts. Especially over the past couple of weeks. Like a storm is coming and he can’t stop it.

Unperturbed by her patient’s flare of aggression, the doctor makes some notes on her clipboard. Ben can’t stop his leg from bobbing up and down with agitation.

Finally, the doctor looks up from her notes. “Well. I think it is safe to say you aren’t contagious. Or even ill.”

Ben sighs, relieved, letting up on his attitude just a notch. The doctor’s news is good. Sleeping on the couch with Bee-bee is definitely not Ben’s idea of a fun time.

Speaking of a fun time.

He glances at the clock on the wall in the examining room and knows Rey is probably on her way home from work right now.

“Is it my blockers?” Ben asks grumpily. He’s had to increase his dose to the highest possible strength since he started teaching, despite his being mated. School policy mandates blockers for all Alpha faculty on account of the inescapable fact a high school is a pheromonal and hormonal shitstorm.

The doctor hums noncommittally, watching him carefully. “Have you and your partner discussed starting a family any time soon, Mr. Solo?”

That casual question aggravates him like nothing else. Unconsciously, he falls into Asshole Alpha mode. “My wife,” he emphasizes the word wife, “and I have discussed it. What’s your point?”

“How’s home life?”

“Peachy-fucking keen,” Ben growls then sighs, knowing he’s behaving like an asshole and Rey would reproach him for it if she were here.

“Everything smooth sailing? Work going all right?” Kalonia prods.

“Everything is smooth and perfect and utterly fucking dreamy. It’s a goddamned utopia.” Ben can feel his hackles rising, even though he speaks the truth. Life has been…beautiful since he married Rey.

He loves her to death, loves living with her in their little house next door to his old house, loves bickering with Sharon the obnoxious neighbor lady, loves Saturday barbeques, and loves it that Rey has friends and drags him out to be social every once in a while. Hell, he even loves his job.

He has the perfect fucking life.

And it’s driving him insane.

Because he knows he doesn’t deserve it…and even worse…he wants more.

He can’t get the idea of having kids out of his head, of the thought of getting Rey pregnant. He can’t stop obsessing over his urge to seal their bond with something even more permanent and lasting. To make sure everybody knows she’s his, even beyond just a mating bite. To ensure she belongs to him, body and soul, in the most primeval way possible.  

Which is such an asshole mentality. Rey is her own person, even though they’re bonded. She has her own hopes and dreams and a good job that she likes…

Rey is a police detective and babies would derail her career in a hot minute. Although she insists she wants a family, too, Ben still feels selfish every time he wants to bring it up.

After all the things he’s done to fuck up Rey’s life, he’s pretty sure he doesn’t deserve quite such a happy ending.

The doctor interrupts his thoughts. “Mr. Solo. I am going to ask you a few personal questions, and I want you to be honest with me. Try not to be embarrassed. I am a medical professional and I’ve seen and heard it all.”

Ben tries to get a grip and sighs again. “Ask away.”

“When is the last time you had a hard rut?”

Ben shakes his head. Things felt pretty hardcore the last few times Rey was in heat.

He says so, rather bluntly.

“You were able to function, though? Get food, have an occasional shower, that sort of thing?”

“…well, yeah…” Ben’s furious blush competes with his desire to run out of the room and never come back.

She raises her eyebrows, undaunted by his obvious discomfort. Ben is positive this is the most awkward conversation he’s ever had in his whole life, including the time his father tried to discuss the facts of life with him after he presented as an Alpha.

“Well. I am thinking you’ve never allowed yourself to go…ah…closer to feral? Let your Alpha powers of compulsion come out? During a rut?”

“That would be self-indulgent in the extreme, doctor,” Ben warns, mildly shocked she would even hint at such a thing.

He could hurt somebody, especially Rey. He’s a big guy and he knows better than to let himself loose all the way. He came close a few times last year. And it’s been harder to reign in that side of himself. Nevertheless, he knows better.

The doctor gives him a smile. “Ah. Civilized. Responsible. Good for you.”

He cocks his head, unsure how to respond to the doctor’s comment.

She evaluates him for a few seconds before saying, “I’m going to be very blunt with you. You’ve lived your whole life under a set of social rules and norms that tell you to be mindful and cautious of your Alpha nature, to restrain your natural dominance in exchange for a more…enlightened perspective. Nobody would argue this is a bad thing, and I’m certainly not suggesting we as a society need to step backward, particularly considering the inherent disadvantages and discriminations still faced by non-Alphas. But…on the whole, we’ve softened the rougher edges of ourselves. We’ve…added a veneer of refinement under the unassailable concept that restraint is always and unequivocally the right way, the better way. Ninety-nine percent of the time, perhaps it is.”

Ben’s pulse is going a mile a minute. What is she saying?

“…but…at the end of the day, you’re an Alpha. I’m guessing you’ve been holding your…er…basest self in check for years now, and frankly, it’s wearing on you. You are going to burn out under all this heavy-handed self-discipline. You’ve found your mate and you’ve bonded with her and you have very nobly been holding back to respect a social norm. But that virtuousness isn’t realistic for a particularly strong-willed Alpha like you, nor is it fair to your mate.”

Ben prickles at this. Not fair to Rey? He glowers at the doctor for her unfair insinuation, but she continues, unperturbed, “A thousand years ago we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because nobody would ever have questioned it if you’d properly let yourself…er…be true to your instinctual needs...and with your own mate, no less.”

Ben has no problem reading between the lines of what the doctor is quite eloquently hinting at.

I’ve already taken so much, and she’s saying I should take even more…

He shakes his head. It’s been drilled into him all his life to be very, very cautious about letting his Alpha all the way off the chain. He says so to the doctor.

“Yes, and this isn’t a bad thing. But, well…” Kalonia nods, not unkindly. “I think with the right mate, under the right circumstances, it would be just the thing. We’ve grown so repressed, I often find our bodies, our animal natures are so severely curbed by shame and modern ideals of behavior that we forego what we really need. And then we get sick and grumpy from it.”

She glances pointedly at his bouncing leg. “You’re feeling out of sorts because you’ve always been under the influence of chemicals to control the worst of it and a very admirable force of will for the rest. You said you’ve only ever deliberately employed Alpha compulsion twice?”

The doctor sounds impressed as she checks that last statement against the notes in his chart, even though Ben’s chest floods with shame as he remembers each of the occasions with vivid clarity. The first time had been before they’d been bonded, when Rey had been accosted at Mos Eisley, the night he met Finn. He’d done it without thinking, demanding an instant answer. He was sure that had been part of what had sent him into a near-feral state after.

The second time was the day she’d been about to serve Snoke’s search warrant. And that time, she’d fought him, he’d sensed it across their bond, clear as day. He’d practically been able to taste her bitter resistance, but even that had dissipated by the end of their conversation.

And then she’d gone off and served the warrant anyway, and Ben had spent the rest of the day in a frenzy of worry about her, again, close to feral.

“…and how was she after each of those times…?” the doctor prompts.

Ben thinks about it. After Mos Eisley, she’d been more worried he was going to get himself in trouble, but she’d never said a word about what he’d done. She’d even come over the next day and opened up to him about Finn leaving…and then she’d kissed him, and they’d gotten themselves quite worked up…

And the second time, at the courthouse, she’d done as he’d commanded and told him what he wanted to know. But she’d promised to meet him later…she hadn’t been angry with him then, even though she’d fought him. She’d only been furious with him for calling Snoke…

The doctor gives him time to think about it, and Ben grudgingly admits to himself she might be right. From a certain point of view.

She makes a few more notes on her clipboard and Ben’s leg goes from bouncing to practically vibrating with tension.

The doctor’s words are ringing true. Ben swallows. She’s right. Still, he’s a lawyer through and through, and he wants everything spelled out. “What exactly are you implying doctor?”

She winks at him and smiles. “You don’t have the flu. You are just moving into the next natural phase of life. You want a family. The urge to procreate and have a robust family dynamic is strong when an Alpha finds a truly compatible mate. And that necessitates a fully developed Alpha/Omega bond – including you taking up your natural role to lead, even to rule.”

He scoffs, “I’d like to see anyone try to rule my wife.” This new aged philosophizing might work on normal couples…but not with Rey and him.

The doctor laughs, and it irks him. “I’m not suggesting anything too drastic. But you can open up a bit, employ a bit of willpower on her in those areas of your lives where she wants some boundaries.”

“Boundaries?”

“Boundaries,” the doctor repeats firmly. “They make people feel safe. Some people like to live by them or enforce them. And some like to set them. And that’s a part of who you are.”

“I’m not sure she’ll go for that…” Ben argues weakly. Rey is tough and independent to the point of outright obstinacy.

But Doctor Kalonia merely shrugs. “This isn’t about just you, you know. It’s up to you both to fully explore your bond.”

Ben bites back an angry retort resulting from the immediate guilt he feels. If he’s been even unintentionally neglecting his responsibility to give Rey whatever she needs, then he should pay attention.

“Mr. Solo. I am prescribing you a set of mental exercises and bonding activities I want you and your wife to work on over the next month leading up to her heat. I’m assuming your workplace has special leave as part of your health care policy? Because if you really want to get started on a family, I think you might benefit from extra time, in addition to your usually scheduled leave.”

“School policy is pretty straightforward about the amount of time allowed,” Ben hints.

“Yes, but this is part of family leave, assuming your wife agrees. I’ll write you a note to allow for an exception. And I recommend you minimize your exposure to students during that last week. Nothing more than an hour or two. You might consider taking that final week away from work altogether. Rest. Eat lots of junk food. Meditate.” She scribbles a prescription on her notepad while Ben watches, somewhat confused.

“No teaching the week before? And then I’ll need the next week, too?” Ben tries to figure out if they can swing it financially for him to take two weeks off instead of just the one they planned on…once again he fights a surge of self-disgust at the knowledge that had he not been such an idiot, he’d still be practicing law and making plenty of money to support them.

The doctor nods, signing with a flourish and handing him a prescription.

Eff. immediately, practice Alpha cmplsn. (i.e. small, day-to-day decisions) & in all one-on-one convos.

1 week prior to prtnr's heat, limit work (no more than 2 hrs at a time, pref. none), meditate, rest, junk food

“Meditate?” he asks. “Junk food?”

She nods. “Yes. Stock up on calories. Practice your natural ability to employ compulsion in a safe way, do a few pre-planned attempts before you go all out. You might be surprised at the extent of your bond when you aren’t working so hard to respect your wife’s autonomy.” The doctor winks at him and Ben shifts uncomfortably at her blatant political incorrectness.

Rey will probably be fine with this, he knows, deep down, and a thrill races through him. The thought of bringing that dynamic into their sex life is both exciting and terrifying.

Ben feels a twinge of doubt. “What if…what if she doesn’t want to just yet?”

Kalonia smiles and says encouragingly, “…but what if she does?”

 

Ben stops by the grocery store on his way home and buys a dozen roses from the floral department.

In his lawyering days, he’d have been able to afford a helluva lot nicer arrangement than the twenty-dollar bundle of flowers, but he knows Rey doesn’t give a shit about material crap, just as Finn told him ages ago.

Still, flowers never hurt, he figures, especially after he tells her what the doctor said.

He also picks up a case of red Gatorade and a case of blue. He hasn’t been able to turn Rey’s preference around to red, yet, but he’s working on it. And he can grudgingly admit blue isn’t too bad in a pinch.

He can’t stop thinking about the doctor’s words, and her parting advice that he should let things happen naturally and trust Rey to be able to handle it with him. Strangely, he feels better knowing a virtual stranger has given him permission to loosen his hold on something he’d always felt quite duty-bound to confine.

He thinks about needing to stock the freezer in preparation for Rey’s next heat. He’s sure they will need plenty of easy-to-prepare meals since Rey still can’t cook to save her life.

And there’s no way in hell he’s going to leave himself at her mercy when it comes to her cooking. Not for a whole week. The idea makes him shudder.

He calls her on the way home, using his Bluetooth because he knows if she catches him driving unsafely, he’ll catch hell and more. She’s told him some stories of things she’s seen, especially in the days when she was a traffic cop.

She doesn’t answer, but he leaves a message so she can mentally brace herself.

“Baby, I went to the doctor about my flu and…we need to talk when you get home…”

 

Rey made it home before him and is already changed from her work clothes into yoga pants and a ratty t-shirt from her days at police academy. She drapes her arms around his neck and welcomes him with such enthusiasm he is momentarily distracted, temporarily debating the merits of putting off their conversation in favor of bending her over the couch…

No. We need to talk. He pulls away with a sigh and hands her the roses. She quirks a brow.

“Uh oh,” she smirks, swaying her ass as she strolls into the kitchen to put her flowers in water. “You have an interesting doctor’s visit, babe?”

He follows and tries to focus on answering her question instead of dragging her upstairs.

“It was interesting.” He’s unsure how to start.

He remembers the doctor’s words and decides now is as good a time as any.

He pushes that primitive side of himself to the forefront and for the third time since he met Rey, he lets his Alpha do the talking.

“…I want to knock you up,” he says bluntly. But he doesn’t just say it. He says it. Across their bond. He instantly senses something new…something he’s never noticed before.

She feels it too.

Turning from the sink, she braces her hands against the edge as he keeps walking, all the way, until he’s pressed against her.

“Ben!” she murmurs, pleasantly surprised at his aggressive bluntness.

He rolls his hips against her and grips her butt, swooping in for a sizzling kiss. He sends a silent command for her to submit, the barest tendril of will, the slightest flex of power, and she does, falling bonelessly against him and moaning softly.

He holds the thread between them and pulls back to stare into her dazed eyes.

“You know what I’m doing right now?” he asks curiously, kissing her again because he can’t not kiss her.

“…mmmmhhhh…yes, Alpha,” she purrs against his mouth and she gently scratches her nails down his chest. Even through his shirt he feels tingles over his skin at her immediate submission.

She likes this.

“Omigod, Ben, what…?” she moans.

“Tell me,” he commands, careful not to push it.

He nuzzles at her scent gland and she gasps eagerly, “Ben…I want to…want to have your babies…I’ve…been…” She arches her neck for him and groans when he licks at her gland, and he can feel the heat of her, not just her body, but her…her essence

“I’ve been thinking of it and dreaming of it for ages, and I didn’t want to say…” she admits.

“Why?” he rasps. The thought of her not wanting to tell him something like that hurts, but she soothes it over immediately, stroking her fingers over his scent glands.

“Because you…” She licks her lips and he gives her time. She’s not fighting him, he can tell. She’s trying to find words.

Don’t use words. Tell me.

Her eyes grow dark. “I think you’ve been wanting it too, but...every time I brought it up you would tell me all the reasons why I shouldn’t. Because of my job, our life, how everything I worked for would be disrupted…”

His jaw works as he tries to wrap his mind around what she’s telling him.

“You’ve been trying so hard to be such a…a perfect version of a good Alpha for me…always letting me have a say in everything, supporting my career, taking such good care of me…but you’re never selfish…you never…”

“Never what?”

“You take what you want, but you never take what you need.” She says it bluntly and it is so much more succinct than what the doctor had been hinting at. It cuts right to the quick.

He shakes his head. He loves her so much, but how can he explain?

“I’ve done enough to you. I’ve been selfish enough. You forgave me for it, I know, but…”

But she’s smiling and kissing him and telling him to stop worrying so much and she trusts him.

And that is the crux of it.

She trusts him, and he doesn’t deserve it. He still feels so much residual guilt over almost getting her killed in court that day, not to mention the risks he’d put her through just by working for Snoke…plus all the hurt he’d put her through for not being upfront about everything before he’d claimed her...

“Ben. I love you. And I want to have babies with you and spend the rest of our days bickering and making love and I want you to be you, Ben. You’re my Alpha. I know you love me. You’re not going to hurt me. I forgave you ages and ages ago, and…maybe it’s time you let the past die.”

God, he fucking loves her.

And he finally lets it go, that hard, prickly little bundle of guilt he’s been carrying around.

“So when I do this, when I…” He doesn’t know the right words to use. How strange. “When I compel...your will…you don’t mind it?” He pulls back but not all the way.

“Mmm, no. I…kind of love it,” she admits. “I’ve been rather curious, but you’re such a…model Alpha…and you’ve already been feeling so guilty, I didn’t want to push it.”

He’s astounded. She’s so much more perceptive than he could ever be.

“But the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more it’s been bothering you,” she tells him seriously. “So, I’ve been trying to keep it to myself. And you’ve been so…”

“Grumpy?” he smirks, thinking of the doctor’s words.

“Yes! I thought you were getting sick.”

“It doesn’t…frighten you? Or…make you feel bad?” She laughs and smacks his chest, but lightly.

“I’m an Omega, Ben. I can handle whatever you throw at me. I…want to…”

He is positive he’ll have her pregnant by the end of her next heat, and although she tries to tempt him into a pre-heat preview, he insists they wait, loosening his hold on his Alpha just long enough to explain.

“We’re going to follow doctor’s orders, then. And I’m going to say no sex until you’re in heat.” He adds that last, knowing in his gut if they wait, it will be better, as much as it will torture him over the next month.

To his surprise, she doesn’t argue. She bows her head and agrees with a pouty huff, “Oh, fine.”

She’s taken him at his word that he knows what is best and it is…liberating. He can sense a similar relief from her, through their bond. As if they are each taking up their ancient natural roles.

And it is good. More than good.

Even as they go about their days over the next few weeks, Ben can swear he senses her at the back of his mind, always present through their deepened bond.

If before he sensed her like a whisper, now he clearly and distinctly perceives her thoughts and feelings, even at a distance. He asks her about it, interested, and she replies casually she feels the same from him.

She trusts this is the natural progression of things and assures him she still feels like herself, still feels independent and strong and no less diminished as a person despite allowing him to cautiously and progressively take the reins.

He wonders how far he can push it, testing the limits of her willingness to submit to him, but whatever he does, even blatantly ordering her meals when they go out, or telling her what to wear to work, she agrees, seeming to slip happily into the classic role of subservient, submissive Omega.

It is this that pleases him on a primitive level, even though he tries even harder to assure her he doesn’t want her to change. But he finds himself surprised at how willing she is to let go of the little autonomous things he always assumed she needed.

“Ben, honestly sometimes it’s a relief to have someone else make all the decisions. I have to be in charge all day at work, and sometimes when I come home and have to figure out dinner or pick what movie to watch…it can be overwhelming. Does that make sense?”

“You really feel that way?”

“Well…yeah. And…besides, I like to know you’re getting what you really want. I like it when I don’t have to decide every little thing.”

“Having kids is a bigger decision than picking whether or not we want pizza or Chinese take out for dinner,” Ben argues.

But she just twirls a lock of his hair around her finger and murmurs happily, “You’re going to be such a good daddy…”

 

Four Weeks Later…

It’s Friday afternoon, and per the doctor’s advice, Ben has spent most of the past week resting and eating junk food and watching daytime TV with Beebee.

He can’t meditate. She’s always there, and their mutual anticipation has been killing him for days. They’ve grown unbelievably close, each one able to reach out almost casually throughout the day for a touch. Every time he does it, he can almost catch flickers of her thoughts, sometimes even sensing where she is or how she’s feeling.

Soon.

He’s pretty sure he’s going to lose his fucking mind.

He’s glad the doctor recommended he stay away from school this week – the hormonal teenagers in proximity to his increasingly agitated state of mind would have driven him insane.

Although he did have to make a small exception this afternoon.

He hasn’t been to work for days, he only came in for an hour for Debate Club, since he’s the only faculty available. The doctor assured him an hour or two would be fine, despite how close Rey is to starting her heat.

The Club just finished their meeting and it’s all he can do to wave goodbye as the last student exits his classroom.

He is positive he’s never felt such anticipation before in his life.

He’s already arranged to take the next week off, too, and he’s practically crawling out of his skin to get home…except…

She’s going into heat. Right now. He can feel it, a warmth flooding his veins, near-painful deep flutters of want low in his gut.

Get home, get to her.

His hands shake as he dials Rey’s cell. Shit. I don’t think I can.

He is just about to push “send” and sees her calling.

He can hear the tension in her voice and sense it across their bond, even though they are miles away.

“Ben? I…had to call you…” Rey’s voice is sharp and she’s in cop mode right now, he’s sure of it. She’s not supposed to be home until later this evening, but…

“…I don’t think I can drive…” he mutters.

“What? Why? Ben, I need…I think it’s time, and…” She pauses and just the sound of her breathing is making his dick twitch. “I feel it too.”

All he can think about is sinking his teeth into her as he spreads her legs and fills her up…

“Baby…you’re a better driver than I am…and I can’t wait for a cab…I…think I need you to come and get me…”

He can feel it coming on, like thunderheads rolling across the sky before a hurricane.

“…Yes…wait. Come get you? Are you at school?”

“Yeah. Come and get me. Hurry,” he growls.

“I’ll be there in four minutes.”

He waits in his classroom until the last possible second, hoping to God he doesn’t run into anyone as he practically sprints out of the building and bolts for the parking lot.

Hurry, hurry. Get to her…

He checks his watch and watches as her car comes screeching around the corner four minutes and twelve seconds after their call.

A tiny corner of his mind wants to remember this moment forever, so he can tease her about it later – her speeding through a school zone to come pick up his horny ass – but mostly he’s just ready to tear his clothes off and ravage his wife.

She skids up to him and he jumps in the car, barely waiting for her to come to a full stop.

“Hey, there, handsome.” She grins and licks her lips. He hears her sniff at him and starts salivating. “Ooooh, Ben. You smell…ooooh.”

Her voice gets all soft and husky and he can’t even look at her or he’s going to jump on her and try to knot her while she’s driving and kill them both before she can get them home.

“Yeah. I didn’t realize it would be this bad,” Ben mutters, unable to keep from looking at her for one second longer. Mine.

She’s focused on the road, but he senses her acute awareness of him, a hyper-alertness that strains every tendon in his body to the breaking point. He can already scent her growing submission, her escalating arousal, softening, yielding.

“Couldn’t make it home, huh?” she says with a tight smile. “I thought I’d be a few more hours at least…I’m always underestimating…”

Ben decides he has about twelve seconds of rational thought left before he loosens his grip. “Are we really doing this?”

She nods, keeping her eyes on the road. The scent in the car is driving him insane. She’s ripe for his seed, he can fucking taste it.

He fixes his attention on her hands on the steering wheel and nearly bursts into flame knowing what’s coming in a few short minutes.

He can’t stop thinking about how delicate she is, how, when he pins her wrists to the mattress his grasp will easily encircle her…

“Whatcha thinkin’ about, Ben? You okay?” she murmurs breathlessly.

“Just…get us home,” he grits out, unable to stop himself from flipping the switch. “I can fucking smell how bad you want it…”

“Okay. Hang on.”