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winning games (and maybe something else)

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The night air feels good on his skin, cool and fresh after the crowded setting of the restaurant. Jannah walks along a little ways ahead, her long black curls swaying back and forth in the breeze. He feels—content—surprisingly, with a full stomach and an ease that falls just this side of tipsy. It even feels a little strange, to feel this way after the clusterfuck that his life has been. For so long it had been because of Snoke, the First Order, and even his old destructive tendencies.

“Solo, oh my god come check this out,” Jannah calls out, her slim figure stopping in front of a crowded bar front. Ben steps closer and catches a glimpse of a pink and blue color scheme through the floor length windows. The inside is teeming with people because it’s a nice spring night; any time the rain in this city lets up the tiniest bit, people come out in full force.

“It’s late,” he points out.

“Oh don’t be a spoilsport Ben, this looks like a wicked place to hang,” Jannah says, her full lips curling into a grin. “Besides, didn’t you say you were going to show me around? Well, this counts as exactly that.”

He contemplates her words, taking in her dark russet skin and her glinting eyes.

Did he say that? That doesn’t sound like something he’d say, but then again, Jannah’s one of the few people with the particular talent of getting him to agree to things he normally wouldn’t. He blames being childhood friends for that, and of course Uncle Lando’s influence. Jannah is all Calrissian.

Besides, isn’t this what his therapist has been encouraging him to do? To reconnect with his past, to make positive connections with people? He guesses going out with an old friend counts as that.

Look at him, making progress.

He rolls his eyes. “Fine, but only for a little.”


Inside, he can tell this is the type of bar he’d never have entered on his own. It looks like he just stepped into a child’s idealized version of a carnival; all dazzling colors and pink highlights. The base reverberates through his chest as music washes over him; something new that could be vaguely defined as pop.

“I’ll get us some drinks,” Jannah shouts, leaning in to be heard over the din of people and noise.

“Let me find us a seat,” Ben replies, watching as she nods and turns around, melting into the crowd.

He spies a set of stairs off to his right which lead to a lower level. Hopefully it will be less crowded than the top floor, though he doubts it. He follows the steps down, dodging people with drinks in hand. A ping-ping-ping rings in the air as he reaches the second floor.

Oh no, he thinks, as he glances to his left.

The glow of a dozen pinball machines shine in the dim light as people mill about. And—is that a skee ball game in the back? Once Jannah catches wind of the arcade down here it’ll be ages before she’ll want to leave, and it’s already—

“How much do you want to bet I can win one of these?” someone shouts, the words rounded out with a British accent.

In front of him a young woman is currently trying to jam a crumpled dollar bill into the slot of a claw machine game.

“Is that—are those even sanitary?” a man to her right points out, shooting a nervous glance at the machine.

“I’m sure the plastic wrapped ones are fine, Finn,” she answers, straightening up from her crouched position.

She’s attractive, Ben notices, her eyes sparkling with mirth as she shoots her friend a smile, all white teeth.

“You can’t be serious,” her friend says.

“No no, she can totally do it,” a shorter asian woman chimes in.

And—oh—Ben finally looks at the prizes available to win, and it’s full of dildos. Pink and purple and flesh tone ones, all interspersed between run of the mill stuffed animals. There’s even some suctioned onto the inside walls of the machine. No wonder that Finn guy was anxious—he wouldn’t trust the cleanliness of the unwrapped ones either.

“Ok, I’m going for it,” she declares, finally getting the machine to accept her bill. Ben watches her press her face closer to the game’s plastic wall, brow furrowing as she searches for a target. After a moment of deliberation, she grabs the joystick and begins positioning the claw, moving it off center to the right. It swings back and forth as she makes minor adjustments, zeroing in on her prize before pressing the “drop” button. The claw reaches down, grasping onto an upright neon purple phallus—

“Yes!” someone shouts.

—dragging it slightly upward before its metal pinchers open and release it.

“Dammit. I swore I had it,” she groans, then laughs along with the rest of her friends as the claw moves back into position.

“Don’t tell me you actually wanted to win one of those?” Finn asks, raising an eyebrow.

She shrugs. “I wouldn’t have minded.”

Ben hadn’t played a crane game in years, not since those special days in his childhood, when Han would slip away with him to an arcade close to their house. He remembers how good it had felt, to have his father’s undivided attention for those few rare hours; just the two of them in their own private world.

But it would end eventually, with his mother calling them back home, or one of his father’s job commitments requiring his attention. The claw game was never one of his favorites: he always felt it relied too much on luck, and he’d never been particularly lucky. But Han had taught him a couple of tricks one afternoon—nothing major, but something to improve his odds nevertheless. They come to mind now as he sees this young woman and her friends debate whether or not it’s worth it to try again.

A drink breaks his line of vision, interrupting him from his musings. Jannah is back from the bar, two drinks in her hands.

“They didn’t have any of that fancy whiskey I know you like—” she says, handing him his drink, “—so I got you a rum and coke. I hope I didn’t offend your delicate sensibilities. ”

“Do I look like a university student to you?”

“Be thankful I didn’t order the house special: Unicorn Jizz,” she says with a shrug. “Now what do we have here?” Her eyes light up as she catches sight of the pinball machines, already beginning to make her way closer.

Ben sighs, taking a long pull from his admittedly rather weak cocktail.

“Looks like we’re in for a fun night, wouldn’t you say?” Jannah asks, before stopping in her tracks.

Ben almost bumps into her back at the abrupt stop.

“I think I know her,” she says, pointing to the circle of friends still engrossed with the claw game, and in particular to the short Asian woman.

“Wait, I definitely know her. That’s Rose! I haven’t seen her in so long, let’s go say hello,” Jannah decides, crossing the room before he has a chance to get a word in edgewise.

He follows, realizing as he walks closer that he’s heading straight for the beautiful girl from earlier, with her smooth hair and bright smile.

Rose? Hey! It’s been so long!

“Jannah?” and then Rose is being pulled into a tight hug, the two women laughing as Ben hangs back a couple of feet.

“It’s so good to see you again. I’m here with my friend Ben,” she motions him closer.

Three pairs of eyes swing towards him, and Ben feels his skin prickle against the sudden attention. The grip around his glass tightens.

“Hello,” he answers, unsure of how to continue. Up until recently, he’d made a career out of presenting himself as rigid and intimidating. It’s been difficult to step away from that, and even then he knows what he looks like; tall and broad-shouldered with a somber face. He’s not exactly welcoming, and he’s never been known for his stellar social skills, a point made clear when he reaches over and begins shaking each of their hands like he’s still in a courthouse.

It’s all going fine until the second his hand wraps around hers, the girl’s, and it feels like a live wire has connected them, a spark jumping between their skin. His breath escapes his lungs, and he can’t break away from her gaze, her eyes wide like she feels it too.

“Don’t mind him, Ben’s shy,” Jannah gives him a shoulder bump, breaking the strange connection as he draws his hand back.

“Hey, no worries,” Rose answers, “These are my friends, Finn and Rey,” she points.

So her name’s Rey.

“We’re out celebrating her new job acceptance,” Finn explains.

Despite the low light of the bar, he watches a slight blush crawl down her neck. Ben has the vague notion he’d like to see how far down below her blouse it extends. Close on the heels of that thought though is a prickle of shame which curls at the base of his spine. He doesn’t even know her yet.

“I told them not to make a big deal out of it,” Rey says.

“Don’t, you deserve it, Rey,” Finn replies.

“Congratulations are in order, that’s great!” Jannah leans closer to clink her glass with Rey’s. “Round of shots on me,” she says, making her way back towards the bar.

Great, now Jannah’s left him alone again, but this time next to Rey, who he’s not sure he’ll be able to talk to.

It ends up being an irrelevant worry.

“That’s nice of her,” Rey says, and it takes Ben a moment to realize she’s speaking to him.

“Jannah’s always been a gracious host, even when she isn’t technically hosting. It’s been like that for as long as I’ve known her. Congratulations again on your employment status,” he says. And he’s surprised to realize he means it, too. “I’m sure it was well deserved,” he tips his drink in acknowledgment.

Rey smiles—and isn’t that something, the full force of her attention directed at him, her brilliant smile catching him off guard, causing his heart to beat faster in his chest.

She replies. “It’s a little hard to believe if I’m being honest. I’ve been working towards it for so long, y’know?”

He nods, “I know.” And though it’s only two words Rey blinks, seeming to catch the undercurrent of emotion beneath them.

Jannah returns, placing a shot of some unknown alcohol, “Tequila,” she corrects, in each of their hands.

“To Rey,” everyone cheers before knocking them back.

He finds himself mesmerized by the smooth skin of her neck as Rey leans her head back to swallow her shot.

The alcohol burns slightly when he downs it: strong, but not bitter. Jannah must have ordered something a little better, he thinks, a familiar warmth suffusing his body. It’ll take more than two drinks to get him drunk, but he does feel a little looser, his tongue not quite as thick in his mouth.

From the corner of his eye, he catches a glimpse of the claw game.

Ben turns towards Rey, liquid courage propelling him to attempt a conversation. “I saw you playing earlier. Did you manage to win a prize?”

“So you noticed us earlier?” she asks, arching an eyebrow.

“You’re very easy to notice.” He says it because it’s the truth; there’s an inner strength that seems inherent in the slope of her shoulders, the slant of her eyes. It captured his attention the moment he saw her and hasn’t let go since.

“In a good way, I hope.”

He nods. “A good way.”

She holds his gaze a moment longer, an indecipherable emotion reflecting in the shadow of her eyes, and Ben finds it impossible to look away.

“No.” She blinks, and the spell is broken. “I didn’t win anything.”

“You almost got the prize. These games are usually engineered to grip tight enough to win a prize one out of ten or twelve times. But there’s some tips I could show you if you’d like?”

“I didn’t think you’d be into arcade games,” Rey says with a smirk.

“An understandable assumption. The issue with these types of games is that the psi of the claw can change from a four or six to a nine on a winning catch.” Ben feels himself begin to ramble. Years spent as a corporate lawyer working for one of the most cutthroat firms in the country, and now he’s been reduced to this mess. He drops off, running a hand through his hair as Rey stares intently back at him.

“Alright. Show me what you got,” she says, tilting her head towards the claw game.

“Here,” he points to a row of toys, “See how all of those are packed closely together? None of these are a likely win, it would take too much force to dislodge them.” Ben feeds a dollar bill into the machine. “Also, most times the most attainable prizes are not the most attractive prospects,” he continues, zeroing in on a brown felt teddy bear in the lower right corner.

It’s on the top of the pile, and not too big.

He refuses to focus on any of the dildos, even as he maneuvers the crane over them.

“You want to focus on something light enough the crane will be able to pick up. Besides that, you should spend the majority of your allotted time positioning your crane.” He glances to the side and catches Rey staring at him, an amused expression curving the corners of her lips upward.

The game warns him of the timer counting down with a tinny beep, dragging his attention back to the task at hand. After one last push of the control stick he presses the down button, watching as the crane descends.

It’s a little extreme, he thinks, how badly he wants to win this stupid game as the claw grips the bear’s middle and manages to begin lifting it up. It retracts, beginning to slide over to the prize dropbox, and it’s almost there when it’s grip weakens and the bear comes falling down.

“Better luck next time” flashes above his head in yellow letters, and this, this is exactly why he never liked crane games to begin with.

“Well,” he breathes, tearing his gaze away from the lost prize to look at Rey. “I didn’t win, but it held onto the toy this time. It might be getting closer to a win, you should try again.”

She looks back at him,” Yeah, I saw what you did. I’ll give it another go.”

He steps aside so she can retake her position in front of the game; back straight and eyes determined despite the flush that sits high on her cheeks. She’s really looking this time, evaluating and dismissing potential wins before she grins, and Ben realizes which on she’s chosen as the crane begins to make its way over.

It’s another dildo—he colors slightly—pink this time, but thankfully still wrapped in its plastic packaging. It’s on the smaller size, light enough to be picked up and bulky enough with the wrapping for the crane to grab onto.

“Third time’s the charm,” Rey says, and presses drop.

They’ve accumulated an audience in the meantime; Rose, Finn, and Jannah having wandered over at some point after his loss. Everyone seems to hold their breath as the claw drops once more, opening its pincer to latch onto the dildo. It struggles for a moment, and Ben thinks it’ll let go, but no, it holds tight and starts pulling upward, sex toy included.

Whirring as it moves along, the claw finally makes its way back to the drop box where it deposits its prize with a resounding thump.

Rey whoops, her friends joining in as she reaches down to claim her prize. She looks extremely pleased with herself, dildo clutched in her fist as she turns towards him.

Rose throws her hands in the air in celebration. “I can’t believe you got it!”

“Ben helped,” Rey replies, grinning up at him.

“Well look at you.” Jannah gives him the knowing side eye.“I didn’t know you were good at these.”

Finn gives him a sympathetic what can you do sort of shrug as Ben feels himself start to color.

“Do you have any other handy tips, you know, like for pinball?” Rey asks, stowing away her prize in her purse.

“Actually,” Ben says, “I do.”

“I think I’d like to see them.”

Ben smirks. “Only if you’re prepared for a losing streak.”

He feeds a five dollar bill into the change machine and it clink-clink-clinks, dispensing a handful of quarters.

“You sound pretty certain about that.”

“I have both time and experience on my hands, so, yes,” he says, pushing two coins into a Lord of the Rings themed pinball machine. Both are technically true, whenever he got the chance to play at the arcade he spent most of his time on the pinball machines.

Jannah, Finn, and Rose have meanwhile discovered the skee ball machine and are otherwise occupied in a three-way challenge if their shouting can be taken as any indication.

“Just don’t forget who won the prize not even five minutes ago,” she answers, throwing him a challenging look.

“I guess we’ll have to see.” Ben pulls the plunger to release the game’s metallic ball.

 As it turns out, Ben and Rey are pretty evenly matched pinball players. What Ben has in strategy and familiarity, Rey makes up for with quick reflexes and enthusiasm. Like right now, she waits with her back slightly hunched over the pinball machine, tracking the ball as it bounces against the game’s bumpers and springs, a determined set to her brow.

The game beeps, lighting up as she continues to score points, catching up to Ben’s own record.

Playing arcade games at a bar would never have been his first choice of leisure activity, but he finds himself having what could be construed as—fun. Rey is a good opponent, doesn’t back down from a challenge and gives as good as she gets. He wants to spend more time with her, so when Rey’s turn ends—a few points shy of his score—he leans over and asks, “Would you like another drink?”

“No, but—,” and his stomach seems to drop out from under him before he catches the rest of what she’s saying, “—we can grab some ice cream if you want. There’s a little place just a block down.”

“Yes, of course,” he answers, almost unconsciously, his mind too preoccupied with the way her teeth peek out as she bites her bottom lip.

“Great, I’ll just let them know we’re stepping out for a moment, be right back,” and then she’s no longer beside him, weaving her way through the machines to reach her friends.

Ben watches as Finn and Rose glance his way once Rey’s made her way over, nodding as she explains where they’re going. Jannah stands behind them, shooting Ben a sly glance over the tops of their heads. He pretends not to notice her as Rey makes her way back.

“Come on,” Rey says, walking past him and guiding him up the stairs to the upper level, past the throngs of people, out of the bar and into the clear dark night. 


The smell of sugar and waffles linger in his nose as he and Rey take a seat on a bench just outside the ice cream shop. The street lamp casts a yellow light over them both, the bar’s music muffled and distant. He’d ordered a scoop of chocolate ice cream in a cup, while Rey had chosen their flavor of the day; earl grey in a waffle cone. The sweetness melts on his tongue as he takes another spoonful, and he realizes he can’t remember the last time he even had ice cream.

He’d sent Jannah a quick text to let her know he’d stepped out with Rey, and she’d responded with a thumbs up emoji.

“I didn’t think you’d agree to ice cream,” Rey says, taking a long lick from her cone.

“I didn’t think you’d accept my offer at all,” he replies.

She shrugs her slight shoulders, “No one has ever tried to flirt with me by trying to give me arcade game tips. You get points for originality.”

Well, she’s decided to be out here with him, so he supposes originality got him quite far indeed.

“So, tell me what else you do, besides giving helpful advice in bars?”

How to even answer that?

Having to mentally revisit his time at First Order still feels like pressing against a fresh bruise. He’s still coming to terms with the role he played in their organization, just imagining having to explain it to Rey makes him clench his jaw.

“At the moment? Nothing, but I’m a lawyer by trade, although currently unemployed.”

“I knew there was a reason I didn’t take you as a tech bro,” she says with a grin.

Ben raises his eyebrows. “A what?”

“You know,” she waves her hand, seeming to encompass the neighborhood they find themselves in, “a techie, those subsets of people who work at places like Amazon and Microsoft and then think they’re better than everyone else.”

He shakes his head. “Ah, no, nothing like that. But my former employer, First Order Industries was trying to broker a deal between Google’s drone technology and the United States military. “

Rey falls silent beside him, and he knows how this sounds. Knows the First Order has been scrutinized in the press for their questionable practices before.

“The First Order? I’ve never heard anything good about them.”

Ben huffs a bitter laugh. “No, I don’t suppose you would have.”

He hadn’t wanted to bring it up at all, but in the interest of transparency...

“But you’re not with them anymore?” Rey’s eyes are clear as she looks at him, attention shifting from the cone in her hand to his face.

“No, not anymore.”

Rey’s breathes out, releasing some of the tension apparent in the line of her shoulders. She casts an evaluating look his way, but he can’t blame her wariness. No one at First Order was ever known to play nice.

“But what about you, what do you do?”

“I’m actually a newly licensed mechanical engineer,” she says, an undercurrent of pride palpable in her voice.

Ben blinks, taking a moment to process the fact that he tried to explain a child’s game to an actual engineer. He’s surprised she didn’t laugh him out of the bar when he came up to her.

“You must have thought me coming up to you was ironic,” he manages to reply through the rising level of his embarrassment.

“A little, but I hadn’t known it was rigged to get a prize after a certain number of tries.”

“But still—”

“I liked it. It was endearing to see you earnestly trying to help me win,” she says, patting her purse where she’s stored aforementioned win. “Like I said, you intrigue me.”

“Even after you’ve learned where I used to work?” he adds, unable to let it go.

“I think...” She begins, then stops, gathering her thoughts. “I think, what’s important is that you left. That you decided you weren’t going to continue supporting what they do.”

She’s looking at him earnestly, with a determined slant to her mouth. Ben realizes she truly believes what she’s saying, that they’re not just empty platitudes. It’s her conviction, more than anything else that leads him to continue.

“I thought about leaving for a long time, but I didn’t because at that point I’d sacrificed so much; friendships, my relationship with my family, my health, it felt like I had no other choice. And I recognize that’s a bullshit excuse,” he says with a twist in his mouth. “But leaving felt as good as admitting defeat, like everything I’d done was for nothing.”

“It’s never too late to recognize that you’ve been wrong,” Rey argues.

Ben shuts his eyes.

“In some ways it was. Do you know what finally pushed me to leave? My father was diagnosed with cancer, and the beginning prognoses were good, so I didn’t make time to visit.” Even now the memories make bile rise in his throat. “Because I was stubborn and still resented him for things that had happened years ago. And then—and then the cancer spread, metastasized in a matter of weeks, and still I didn’t—” He felt the telltale prick of tears sting the back of his eyes. “I thought there would be more time.”

“But there wasn’t,” Rey offers gently.

He nods. “There wasn’t. I received the call that he’d passed when I was in a meeting. The news, just, destroyed me. And Snoke, my boss, I told him what happened, and then he ordered me to stop wasting time on frivolous banalities and get back to work. And I could no longer ignore my father’s words that Snoke was just using me. It was the beginning of the end for my time at First Order.”

“And how long ago was that?”

“Not that long,” Ben answers. “I moved across the country to get away from it all, and Seattle seemed as good a place as any, even with all the rain.”

“Really? I can’t get enough of it,” Rey muses. “It’s one of the reasons I decided to come here. My hometown is nothing but desert for miles and miles. I promised myself, growing up, that one day I’d be somewhere green.”

He catches the slight crack in her voice when she says the words.

“Anyways,” she continues, shaking her head, “did you always want to be a lawyer?”

“No, not at the beginning,” Ben says. “But I found I had the focus and the drive to do it, so I did. First Order recruited me right out of law school, and at first, I went because I believed in their mission. But also because I was still angry at my parents.”

Rey pauses, taking a moment before she asks, “Were they bad parents?”

His knee jerk reaction for so long had been to say yes, even if he’s begun to understand differently.

“I thought so for the longest time. But it was a combination of things. Their marriage was young, and my mother’s political career was still relatively new. I was a problem child who needed more attention and time than they could give me. They thought shipping me off to my uncle was for the best, but it just made everything worse. It felt like,—” and the words stick in his throat,”—it felt like being abandoned.”

There, the words are out now, someone else besides his therapist has heard them. It feels liberating, in a way, before worry settles over him.

“This is probably not what you were expecting. I didn’t mean to upend my childhood trauma on you,” he says with a grimace and runs a hand through his hair.

“Well,” Rey begins, shifting on the bench to bring her leg up, resting her arm on her knee, “I know a little about what that’s like. I grew up in the foster care system, not here but in a little podunk town in Arizona.” She huffs. “Can’t even find it on a map. But anyways, it was—bad. Not, not like that,” Rey amends, catching the worry on his face.

“I never got hit or anything like that. But I basically raised myself, made my own dinners since I was six, never had clothes that fit, my shoes always had holes in them. The worst though,” she says, pausing a moment before taking a deep breath, “was my whole life growing up I just, felt so alone. Like there was something wrong with me.”

The words leave her mouth and for a moment she looks so much younger than her years, young and a little lost.

“I always—I always hoped my parents would come back from me. But they never did,” she whispers.

Ben has only known Rey for a short time, but that doesn’t prevent the waves of emotions rising within him at her admission. He feels that familiar burn of anger threatening to escape when faced with the injustices she’s had to face.

“Whatever you think, you didn’t deserve any of what happened to you. Rey, you were a child. I’m sorry, that you had to go through that. And fuck the system that failed you, you deserved better.

“And besides,” he says, looking into her eyes, knowing as he says the words he means them truly, “You’re not alone.”

Rey gasps, this little huff of breathe that escapes between her slightly parted lips, her hand reaching out to skim her fingers across the skin of his knuckles.

“Neither are you.”

Ben realizes he’s spoken more with Rey in twenty minutes than he’s talked with anyone in years, and about things only a few people in his life know about. It’s terrifying, but addicting in a way, because Rey pays attention, laser-focused on him and the words he says. He feels seen when she looks at him, like she’s pushing past the veneer he’s held in place for so long and reaching for what lays underneath.

He doesn’t know who leans in first, only that one second he is looking at Rey, and the next his eyes are sliding close and then they're kissing, her lips soft and sweet beneath his own. It’s been so long since he’s kissed someone, probably years at this point, Ben can’t remember, but he shivers when Rey slides a small hand into the thick nest of his hair to pull herself closer to him.

It’s a chaste kiss at first, just the barest press of lips together before Ben sighs, opening his mouth to the wet slide of Rey’s tongue slipping along his. His blood thrums in his veins as he kisses her back; she tastes sweet, like the ice cream they just ate, and he tries to stifle the groan that threatens to spill out.

Rey pulls back, and he blearily blinks his eyes open, it takes him a moment to focus on her, her flushed skin and bright eyes.

“I don’t usually do this,” she says, “But, I really like you, Ben.”

“Good,” he says softly, “Because I really like you too.”

He wants her, wants whatever she’s willing to give him.

“I’m not sure what you have in mind, we don’t have to go any further if that’s what you decide. But,—I’d really like to spend some more time with you,” Ben admits.

Ben isn’t ready for the night to end, and he hopes Rey feels the same way.

She runs her fingers through his hair, playing with the ends of the strands as she contemplates her words.

“I don’t either,” she nods. “How far away is your place?”

He wonders if she can hear how fast his heart is beating at the suggestion in her words.

“Not very far, a couple of blocks.”

From beside him, Rey stands up from the bench, reaching out a hand to help him up.

“Then let’s go.” 


Ben had texted Jannah once they’d left, letting her know not to wait up for him, that he’d be with Rey. She responds with a string on emojis, one of which might be an eggplant, before letting him know he owes her an outing to her choice of restaurant as recompense.

The text bubble beneath that one warns him not to do anything dumb.

Rey pulls out her own phone, presumably to let her own friends know where she’s going as well.

The uber ride back is silent, both Rey and Ben aware of the presence of their driver. They sit on opposite sides in the back but rest their hands close enough on the middle seat that their fingers brush after every bump in the road.

This is good, Ben thinks, sobering up as they make their way to his apartment. He meant it when he mentioned only going as far as Rey wanted. So much of his career had been focused on doggedly pursuing cases that to leave the act of instigation in someone else’s court makes him nervous, but then again, everything about Rey makes him nervous and excited in equal measure.

“This is me,” he says, guiding her inside the building once their Uber has dropped them off. The building is a high rise, all steel and glass, sleek and modern. He ushers Rey in, watching as she takes in the large lobby and marble tiled floors.

“I thought you said you were unemployed?” she asks as soon as the elevator doors slide closed behind them.

Ben winces, turning to lean his back on the support railing.

“I am. My grandfather owned a successful shipping company, at one point in time. After he passed, my mother and uncle, his children, sold it off for a not insignificant sum of money. Some of that was passed on to me,” he says, watching the floor numbers tick by as the elevator continued to ascend.

“Have you ever thought about donating any of it? Plenty of charities could use some help.”

Ben looks at her, a little ashamed to say he’s never put serious thought into it. He remembers how he use to disparage his mother’s handful of charities as ineffective money sinks. A year ago the mere mention would have made him scoff, but now he’s not so sure.

“It’s something I’ll look into,” he promises. “But right now,” he steps closer to the heat of Rey’s body, “right now there’s someone else I would like to focus on.”

Ben raises his hand to brush his fingers across her jaw, feeling the warm skin beneath his touch.

Rey’s pulse pulses in the hollow of her throat, slight as a hummingbird’s wing beat, and the desire to kiss her there threatens to overwhelm him. She looks at him like she’s caught on to what he wants to do, and she leans forward to come chest to chest with him. Before either of them can go any further the elevator dings, opening up to his floor.

Instead Ben reaches for her hand, guiding her down the long corridor until they make it to his door. The echo of his keys turning into the lock reverberates loudly in his ears, every sense heightened towards the woman who waits behind him. They step inside, Ben reaching over to flick on a low-level lamp which illuminates the room in soft golden light. The air rushes out of his lungs as he takes a deep breath and turns towards Rey.

“Remember what I said, we can go as far as you’d like.”

“If I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t be here,” she answers. “I want this.”

And then she’s the one crowding him, sliding her warm hands up the planes of his chest as she pushes him against a wall. Rey kisses him, hard, the slide of her lips against his insistent and curious. Ben presses a hand to the small of her back, while the other cradles her hip, wanting to feel her solid and real beneath his touch. When she slips her tongue between his lips all he can focus on is the deliciously dirty feel of it, wet and warm.

He can feel himself getting hard already, just from this, just from kissing Rey. She presses tighter against him, and the increased pressure causes him to moan. There’s no way she can miss the feel of him, hot and insistent against her lithe body. He thinks he’d feel embarrassed under any other circumstance, but when they pull apart for a second she’s just as affected as he is; her own eyes are dark and shadowed, the ring of her iris nearly swallowed by the black of her pupils.

Her blush from earlier has returned, and now that they’re alone Ben plans to map it across her skin with his lips and tongue.

Rey reaches up to place an open-mouthed kiss to whatever skin she can reach; in this case the underside of his jaw. She hums in pleasure, and he can feel it beneath her lips. When she slides a hand over his clothed length it catches him off guard, his hips bucking into the pressure.

“Oh god, Rey” he moans.

Her lips curl into a wicked smile.

She squeezes him, and he knows if he doesn’t stop now he’ll be done before they’ve even started.

“What’s wrong?” she asks after he encircles her wrist, pulling it gently away from him.

“Nothing. It’s good, you’re good. But, if you don’t give me a moment to cool off, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll last.”

He kisses her again, and she opens up sweetly beneath his mouth.

“I want to try something. Lay on the bed,” he says between kisses.

Ben guides her to his room and helps her pull her pants off before she sits down on the mattress. Her long, toned legs look beautiful against the dark sheets of his bed. Ben kneels down, placing a kiss to the tip of one knee.

“I haven’t done this in a while,” he confesses, ghosting warm air across the creamy skin of her thigh. “But I want to make you feel good. Can I try?”

From her place above him Rey looks down on him, and Ben stills, waiting for her decision.

“I would—very much like you to.” She smiles, leaning down to place a kiss against the crown of his head before reclining fully against his bed.

It’s true that he hasn’t done this for a long time, but he remembers the basics. He focuses on Rey’s warm skin beneath his lips as he skims his hands up her legs, from her ankles, up her calves, across her knees before coming to rest them on her thighs. His lips follow the trail of his touch as he nips the soft skin of her inner thigh, delighting in the slight jump she gives him. Ben runs his nose across the line of her underwear, over the jut of her hip bone, towards the center of her.

When he runs a finger across her underwear, against the outlines of her lips, he groans at how damp he finds the fabric already. Without a moment left to lose Ben slides her underwear off, and then she’s bare beneath him, the softest part of her hidden beneath a tuft of curls.

Unable to resist, Ben leans forward and finally, finally, swipes his tongue across her slit.

A stuttered breathe escapes Rey’s lips.

She’s soft, soft and impossibly wet underneath his tongue. He traces the length of her, taking his time to trace every part of her. His nose brushes against her clit and he feels the muscles of her thighs tense.

“Ben,” she moans, as he tries to trace his tongue against that sensitive part of her. He works it with the tip of his tongue, paying attention to every moan and sigh Rey makes, adjusting the pressure and speed until he feels her hips jerking beneath his mouth.

“More, need more.” She gasps, grasping a handful of dark hair and pulling him closer.

He doesn’t expect it, how quickly and easily she accepts him when he slides a finger into her cunt. Just imagining how she’ll feel around him has him pressing a palm against his length, trying to maintain some semblance of control. But more than that, he wants to see Rey fall apart beneath his hands and mouth.

Ben moves his finger in and out of her, lapping at the edge of her entrance where his digit enters.

“Good, that’s good.” Her moans curl around him. “But Ben, your finger,—curl it up.”

“Like this?” and he presses upwards, feeling something spongy within her.

“Yes, just like that.”

The noises she makes are beautiful, every gasp and cry a sound he wants to hear again and again. She writhes beneath him, trembling when he adds another finger. When he wraps his lips around her clit and hollows his cheeks she breaks, back arching off the bed as he feels her walls tighten around his fingers, coating his mouth in a new rush of wetness.

He continues to lap at her slit as she comes down, slow and deep, feeling the tremors of her aftershocks while he works her through them.

“That’s good,” she says eventually, pulling gently on his hair to draw his mouth off her, but she’s smiling when he looks at her, a satisfied expression on her face.

Ben can’t help himself, he kisses her, cupping her face between his large hands. The relief he feels when she unzips his pants causes him to buck into her hand, remembering all of a sudden the sweet agony of his aching cock.

“You’re wearing too many clothes,” Rey says with a grin.

He doesn’t think he’s ever stripped quicker in his life. When he pulls his boxers off he catches Rey staring at his groin. He can’t help the bolt of male pride that rushes down his spine at her appreciative gaze.

“Now I think you’re the one who’s overdressed.”

Rey might be naked from the waist down, but she still has her top on. She remedies that just as quickly, nimble fingers reaching first for her shirt, and then unclasping her bra, letting it fall away.

Everything narrows down to the two of them, him and Rey as he feels her heart beating beneath his palm, his other hand coming to cup her slight breast.

“Perfect,” he murmurs against her lips, before tracing kisses against her jaw, down the slim column of her neck, following the path of the blush that’s been driving him to distraction all night.

“Wait, Ben, do you have a condom?” Rey asks.

Ben stills. It feels like a bucket of ice water has been poured over him. Because no, he’s pretty sure he doesn’t have single condom stashed away anywhere.

“No,” he admits, resting his forehead against her shoulder. “I haven’t had use for them in some time. Do you?”

But he can already feel Rey shaking her head.

“I don’t either.”

Ben nods, accepting their reality. He places another kiss against her neck.

“Alright, that’s fine. There’s plenty of other ways we can do this.”

“Wait,” Rey says, pushing against his shoulder so she can look him in the eyes. “It’s been a while for both of us, but I have an IUD. I’m clean, too.”

He blinks, a frisson of confusion hitting him, not wanting to assume.

“I’m clean as well,” he says instead.

“Ok,” Rey nods her head. “Ok,” she repeats, this time with a determined lilt to her tone. “We can continue if you’d like.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” she answers, wrapping her arms around him and pulling Ben against her, causing them to fall back onto his bed.

It’s surreal to think that this is real, that Rey is here with him, in his home, beneath him. That she knows more about him than almost anyone else and still she chose to be here with him. She chose him, and he chose her, and he’s never been more grateful that he walked into that bar. It already feels like a hundred years ago, despite only occurring earlier that night; already he is starting to categorize his life as a before Rey, and an after. He hopes she’ll want to see him again after tonight, because he’d really like to see her.

“Hey, it’s ok Ben. I can practically see the wheels turning in your head.”

“I want to see you,” he says, grasping his cock as he runs it against the wet heat of her slit.

“You are seeing me.” She runs her hands up and down his back.

Ben shakes his head. “No, I mean, tomorrow. Again.”

Her eyes soften, even as she spreads her legs, making room for him to slot his hips against hers.

“You really want to?” she asks, a current of disbelief lacing through the words.

“Of course.” He brushes his lips against hers. “Of course.”

And then he begins pushing into her.

He’s—not prepared, at all. For how she feels around him, hot and wet and impossibly tight. He’s not even halfway in yet and already he has to focus on not coming. Rey gasps beneath him as he rocks his hips, sliding a little further in, bit by bit. Her earlier orgasm helped relax her, but Ben still has to b careful not to thrust in too quickly.

“Give me a second.” Rey moans, grabbing tightly onto his shoulders, her body getting used to his. “You’re a lot.”

A few seemingly eternal moments pass, made better by Ben pressing featherlight kisses to the apples of her cheeks, the bridge of her nose. When Rey nods her ok to keep going Ben thrusts, bottoming out in one final stroke.

“Fuck,” he hisses.

He pulls out slightly, feeling every inch, and then thrusts back in. It takes everything within him not to start rutting into her wildly. Instead, he works to build a steady rhythm, pulling almost all the way out before thrusting back in. Rey gasps beneath him, eyes glassy with pleasure, her hand snaking up to tug and pinch at her breast.

The sound his hips hitting against hers fills the room, trying to thrust into her as deeply as possible. But already he can feel the coil of pressure building at the base of his spine. He reaches down between them, finding the place where they’re joined and rubbing tight circles against her clit.

“Please Rey, come on,” he moans.

“Ben,” Rey replies, repeating his name over and over, like a mantra.

Ben can already feel himself careening towards the precipice of his own pleasure, but he wants Rey to fall before he’ll follow her. On hand reaches up, pushing her own aside to trace her pink nipple, fingers grazing it slightly before he pinches it between his fingers. It works, because a second later is tightening around him, mouth open in a soundless cry as comes.

Her walls clutch him tighter, creating friction that’s impossible to resist, and after one final thrust he too, is coming undone. His pleasure arcs through him, and the world whites out for a moment. When he comes back to himself, Rey is kissing him, her mouth soft and slack beneath his own. Ben catches the satisfied look on her face as he slides out of her, not wanting to crush her beneath his weight. Their harsh breathes echo loudly in the otherwise quiet room.

After a moment Ben pulls a blanket up over them, fighting to stay awake as bone-deep satisfaction rolls over him.

“Is this ok?” he says, wrapping his arm around Rey’s shoulders and pulling her into the crook of his body. She nods, settling herself against his side.

“You don’t have to leave first thing in the morning if you don’t want to.”

For a moment Rey doesn’t answer. Ben is beginning to drift off before he feels a pair of lips press a kiss to the meat of his shoulder.

“I won’t.”

He nods, feeling something like a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. The last thing he’s aware of is the warmth of Rey’s body beside his own, solid and there before he drifts to sleep.