Kylo Ren wakes to a memory.
His father is there, asleep on the bed beside him. They are back in the apartment in Hanna City. The windows are open, a balmy, late-summer breeze making the white, gauzy curtains billow and dance. He has to be three years old in this memory, alert and awake, watching the curtains and his father’s face… A song, outside, jolts him up from a dead sleep. Some jizz-wailer, singing about—
It doesn’t matter.
He checks the time on the glowpanel beside his bed and groans inwardly, finding it far too early for a complete sleep cycle to have occurred, but that, it seems, is pretty standard for his nights, lately.
Last night, however, had been different.
She had appeared before him, just like the last two times—uncontrolled, unasked-for, and totally catching him off guard.
The first time, she’d shot at him.
The second, she had called him a monster. He hadn’t denied it.
This time, she had stared at him, at his bare chest, and asked him why he’d hated his father.
Kylo rakes a hand back through his dark hair, curling his lip, just a little, at the lank heaviness he finds there. The dark side has been a pathway to certain abilities that the Jedi would deem unnatural—surviving on a little over four hours of sleep, drawing the threads from the darkness to keep himself alert and ready is one of them—but keeping himself hygienic is something that the Force cannot yet do.
So he rises, walks silently across the cool, black flooring of his minimalist quarters, and heads to the ‘fresher. His status confers him one of the nicer water-based showers, but there’s a sonic in there as well. Kylo shucks off his sleeping pants and kicks them listlessly to the side. A droid will be in to collect them, launder them, and return them, as always.
He steps under the stream of water, wincing and then relaxing as it stings on his skin, just this side of too-hot. Last night, the shameful vulnerability he’d shown the scavenger girl had nearly been his undoing, and he knows Snoke will ferret it out of him, as he has every single one of Kylo’s secrets. The girl had reached out to him, and he’d…
He’d taken her hand.
Small, and cold, and trembling.
She’d looked so beautiful sitting there by the fire. Even from his cold, distant room, he’d felt its warmth. Or maybe it had been her warmth, or the light inside of her. Everything had been so muddled together, and yet so clear and focused. So right.
Then, Luke had found them. For several long, deeply panicked, angry minutes after the bond had closed, Kylo could see nothing in his thoughts but the terrible image of his uncle, striking Rey down. He knew it was irrational; Rey was good inside, light and warmth; she was everything he was not. Luke would never.
But it didn’t mean he didn’t fear it.
There is no light left inside of him, and he is sure as he stands there that his desire is… shameful, twisted. Wrong.
He wants to have her, to possess her. He wants to train her, see her stand by his side. To embrace him—no, to respect him. He wants to teach her everything he’s come to know in the darkness, to show her that the darkness inside of her isn’t bad or wrong, but a source of power. She doesn’t have to tamp it down, try and grind it out of herself.
She’s perfect, just the way she is. If only she would allow him to—
—to feel her skin again. To touch her hand, to bring it to his face, to kiss the pulse at her wrist, to draw close enough that he can see, once more, the hazel in her eyes—
Kylo Ren growls, and turns the water temperature down, cutting the hot water completely. It takes only seconds before it is colder than midwinter on Hoth. He bites back a scream, draws in the stinging pain of cold, and tries to think dark, destructive thoughts to center himself.
Unfortunately for him, the only way to contain his painfully hard cock is to put him in carbonite. That thought makes him think of his father, though—
Why did you hate your father?
You had a father who loved you, who gave a damn about you…
—and that, at last, is what causes his ardour to wilt.
He lathers and rinses his hair out, scrubs his body with a scentless soap, washes his legs and feet, under his arms, everywhere that might cause offense to Rey, if she were close to him… Then cuts the water completely and steps out of the stall, reaching for one of his black towels.
The daycycle is early, but it’s begun.
And there’s no rest for Kylo Ren. Not when the report he is given indicates two very interesting things.
One: The main ship now has less than six hours of fuel remaining.
And two: A single-person escape pod has just been picked up via tractor beam, and is being brought into the main hangar.
Kylo Ren has a very strong idea of who, exactly, will be waiting for him when he opens it. He can feel her, now, in the Force. That vibrant spark, that smoke-bright gem.
She has come to him, as he knew she would. His vision is, at last, coming to fruition.
Snoke falls, by his apprentice’s hand.
The look of shock on the wretched old creature’s face is almost beautiful. Kylo does not allow himself to revel in it, because his whole body—the Force itself—is finally singing within him, like it’s never sung before. Fighting beside her, this feels good, it feels right. Like the missing half of his soul has finally come home. She matches him, defends him, feeds herself into him and takes everything he has to give her; their bond is sparking, for those who can perceive it.
None of the Praetorian Guards are Force-sensitive.
Soon enough, none of them are alive, either.
When he rises, and the last one falls, she looks more beautiful than anything he’s ever seen, in any world or on any moon.
And then it all goes wrong.
In the end, he’s on his knees in the dirt of the now-abandoned base. The sound of his own troopers’ boots echo through the cavern strangely, fading in and out. The vision he shared—the vision he thought he’d shared—is a lie. There is no balance, no equal. There are only enemies, only him, and her. Divided forever.
She is, as always, the first person, and the last one, that he wants to see when he looks up. When the Force pulls them back together, he does not want to see the sadness in her eyes. The disappointment.
But you left me, he thinks. Can she hear him? It feels like the pain is screaming in his mind.
I had to, comes her reply. It’s not nearly as steady or as sure as her stance would suggest. Ben, you gave me no choice.
I gave you everything, he thinks.
The door closes.
The bond shuts.
And Kylo Ren is left alone, as his father’s dice disappear from his hands.
Kylo Ren wakes to a memory.
His father, asleep on the bed. A song, jolting him up from a dead sleep. Some jizz-wailer, singing about—
It doesn’t matter.
He checks the time on the glowpanel beside his bed, and groans inwardly, finding it far too early for a complete sleep cycle to have occurred, but that, it seems, is pretty standard for his nights lately.
Last night, however, had been different.
She had appeared before him, just like the last two times—
Today feels… strange.
Kylo cannot quite put his finger on why it feels strange, only that it does.
It’s as if he anticipates things just before they happen. The cleaning droid, coming to take his sleep pants, when he kicks them over to the port on the wall. The too-hot water in the shower. The melancholy and exhaustion, well, there are reasons for those two things. But the rest of it…
The Force moves in mysterious ways.
Ben frowns as he dons his clothing for the day. The last thing he wants is his damned uncle’s voice, taunting him.
When the officer hands him his datapad, Kylo doesn’t have to look down at it to know what it says.
“Six hours remaining on their fuel supplies,” he says, striding down the hallway, heading for the main hangar. “Good. Keep it up. The siege won’t last much longer.”
“Y-yes, sir,” Mitaka says, trying to keep pace with the taller man’s purposeful walk. “And—a transport—some kind of escape pod—”
“I’ll escort her myself,” Kylo says softly. Half to Mitaka, half to himself.
Already he can feel her: Rey. So near to him. Coming, at last, to bring his vision into being. He feels so anticipatory, so wonderfully eager, it’s almost shameful, but he can’t help it.
The sensation is almost enough to keep the sense of prescience, of repetition, from coming upon him. But it does, indeed, return, the moment Kylo steps out into the hangar.
She looks up at him, when the hatch opens, just as he knows she will.
Her eyes narrow a little, surveying his face, just as he has foreseen.
Maybe this is the will of the Force, he thinks, as she clambers slowly out of the escape pod. And then he sees it, on the back: Property of Han Solo.
Kylo Ren frowns. That, he had not foreseen.
“I’ll take her,” he says, voice cold. “She’s no threat.”
Rey looks up at him, absolute murder in her eyes. He can feel her offence radiating at him through their strange bond, the idea that he’d dare trivialize her. Already she’s letting him into her unguarded thoughts—he’s really not trying, doesn’t even have to try—about how she’d love to ignite her saber and show them just how harmless she is.
The thought… shouldn’t turn him on.
He clears his throat, and Rey stares him down, as if she, too, can sense his growing erection as the stormtroopers fit her wrists with the restraints.
Not now, he thinks—mostly to himself and his traitorous body.
Control. He must focus and find control.
His vision, his premonition, whatever it is that the dark side of the Force finally has granted him, must come to pass.
She will stand by his side.
In the elevator, Kylo practically feels the words before she says them.
When she steps closer to him, he knows where to stand, what to say.
“I saw something too,” he says, voice hushed and nearly reverent in the small lift capsule. “You, and me. When the moment comes, you’ll—”
Be the one to turn, he thinks. That’s what he’s meant to say, but instead, he says: “You’ll stand beside me. We’ll join as one. And we’ll be unstoppable.”
“Balance,” Rey breathes out.
He nods. “Yes. Balance.”
It doesn’t mean the same thing to him as it does to her, but he doesn’t care.
Rey trembles under his gaze. There is no firelight, no confession, but he feels as if everything in the Force is telling him to—
He doesn’t know.
That sense of having been here before has vanished. Now, he’s back to himself—wrong-footed before her, as always. And yet fascinated. She glances down as he works his mouth, a nervous habit, one of the many tells he had relied on the mask to conceal. Except now, the way she looks at him, it’s like she can see right through him.
“It’s not too late,” Rey says—whispers to him, stepping closer. The vision between them, it’s so powerful, so overwhelming, it’s almost like he can smell it, taste it, hear it. Rey, standing beside him. Staying with him.
“I’ll help you,” she says, and her bindings clank together, as if she’d forgotten she was wearing them. As if she’d wanted to reach up and—
The doors open.
He must do as he has foreseen.
Snoke must die, and then… then, Rey will be his, and his alone.
Snoke falls quickly this time. It’s almost too easy, to catch the gold-robed asshole as he’s monologuing, put an end to it. Kylo gasps in relief as something lifts from his thoughts, a weight, a veil—and then he looks over to Rey as she runs to the viewport.
“The fleet!” she calls out to him.
Kylo glances back at the throne, and at Snoke’s bisected body. There’s something he needs to do first, something he’s foreseen.
“Ben, tell them to stop firing!”
“This has happened before,” he says, voice sounding dazed, almost wondrous. “It’s happened before, I… I’ve seen it. I asked you to join me, to… to let old things die…”
“Ben, please!” Her voice cuts through his thoughts, but not through whatever it is about the throne that has him in its thrall.
He looks down at Snoke’s body, feeling an unnameable emotion well up inside of him. There, on his wrinkled, severed hand, he sees the ring: black obsidian in a gold etched setting. He’d always thought it foul and gaudy, but… perhaps it’s another relic, one Kylo is meant to have.
“Ben, your mother !” Rey calls to him, running over to where he now crouches down and tugs the ring off of Snoke’s hand.
When he touches it, a new vision fills him.
Peace and security.
The galaxy, united under one rule—his rule.
And Rey, sitting beside him, on a carved obsidian throne. In his vision he places a gold diadem on her brow, twin to his silver; he is the Emperor, and she—
Rey grunts in frustration as she snatches the saber from his hand. At the last minute, he catches it—yanked forcibly out of the strange, captivating vision.
All of it had been a lie, the darkness whispers to him, as she yells and strains and pulls with the Force, trying to lay claim to his saber. This is wrong. He’s made a mistake, but he can’t course-correct it.
The world shatters around him.
Kylo is thrown back, unconscious.
When he wakes, she’s gone.
Hux is there instead.
He goes down to the surface of the salt planet. Red minerals crust his boots as he kneels before her, a vision apart. Looking down at him with that sadness, that disappointment.
She’s left him—again.
What went wrong? He doesn’t understand.
Kylo Ren wakes to a memory.
Some jizz-wailer, singing about—
He sits up in the bed.
Kylo goes to the shower. Stands under the stream.
He remembers yesterday—only it wasn’t yesterday , it was today . Somehow, this is the third time he’s experienced this moment. He knows what will happen, that Mitaka will tell him they’ve brought in Rey, in an escape pod that belongs to his father. He knows they will fight, knows—he feels this with the same thrill of fear and elation, quickly tamped down and controlled—that he will kill Snoke.
But he can still feel Snoke’s unctuous presence in the Force, even now.
Kylo contemplates this as he showers, dries himself, and dresses.
Mitaka, waiting outside of his chambers, hardly has a chance to speak before Kylo answers the question not yet asked: “Bring me down to her.”
“Y-yes sir,” Mitaka says, eyes going wide.
The Force, he thinks; Kylo can read the weaker man’s thoughts as if they’ve been written across his face. Down in the hangar, Kylo watches for a sign of recognition, a sign of understanding, in Rey’s face.
He sees only what he has always seen: Hope, appraisal, and beneath it, that desperate yearning—to turn him to the light, to save him from himself.
What the kriffing hell is going on?
In the lift, he reaches out and hits the panel, halting the movement, leaving them suspended.
The confusion in Rey’s eyes is real.
“Is this the Force’s will?” he asks her.
“That you and I should… We’ve been here before,” he says, frustration brewing; all he can sense from her is confusion, tinted with fear. She thinks he’s unhinged. “Can’t you feel it?”
“No,” she says.
It’s the truth. But if she can’t feel it, then what is he—
“You and I,” Rey says, “I know that we saw something, when we touched hands.”
Now that, at least, is a comfort. “Yes.”
“You stood beside me,” Kylo says, earnestly. “When we go up together, after I kill Snoke, you’ll join me, and fight at my side.”
Her brows draw together. Hope laces itself through the fabric of her emotions. “I… I didn’t see that in the vision. I saw you and me, we were happy, the world was at peace.”
“You have a very strange definition of peace,” he says, with a smug smile growing on his face. It’s true that when they touched hands, he’d thought he’d seen—
But that was wrong. This is right.
This moment feels right; he knows precisely what he has to do.
The doors open.
He escorts her in.
This time, he knows everything that will happen, and it scares him, because the closer it gets to the moment where he knows he will murder Snoke the surer he is that Snoke will know what’s going on. Maybe this is a test. Maybe this is something Snoke himself has designed. But no—Snoke falls. Severed in two, easily and cleanly.
And the guards begin to swarm towards them, and Rey looks up at him with that look, hope and delight and shock and desire—
—he’s too late.
The ship collides with the fleet. The Praetorian guards surge forward, taking advantage of the distraction, ready to defend to the death their fallen lord. And Kylo is knocked off his feet as one bears down at him. He turns, expecting to see Rey there, in glorious triumph.
He expects to hear her shout his name, throw the saber at him.
Instead, one of the vibro-blades suddenly appears in the center of his chest, a blossoming cold horror spreading out from the impossible sight.
Rey turns, then, sensing his pain before he does.
“Oh,” is all that Ben can say. Stunned surprise, a mundane noise, for something so monumental.
He is Ben Solo.
He wants to live.
And yet there is a pike through his chest, and the edges of his vision are already going hazy.
The last thing he sees before the world goes dark is Rey, mercilessly cutting down the last of the guards to get to him, threads of darkness weaving around her like a halo. She is glorious, his murderess, his defender. Her eyes rage with fire when she sees that he has crumpled to the ground.
He tries to call her back from the dark, but it is too late.
He blacks out completely.
Kylo Ren wakes to a memory.
He jolts awake, the dream-song still echoing in his thoughts, gasping back to life, his hands frantically patting at the front of his chest. Searching for a wound. A scar. Anything
When he looks at himself in the mirror, in the ‘fresher, he is pale and broad and unmarked, save for the scars he has come to know so well. He traces a shaking hand down the mark that Rey gave him, touches the wound in his side, disbelieving what his eyes, senses, and mind tell him.
He has lived this day before.
Not in a dream, not in a vision. He died ; he was dead, bleeding out on the floor of the throne room, gazing up at a dark-clad Rey in horror and wonder when death had claimed him.
Yet now he lives.
It is… impossible.
Kylo closes his eyes, and lets the darkness surround him. He draws deeply from it, from the fathomless well that is always there for him, and never falters. As always, the light is there, too—but it is weak and wavering, offering him no true answers for this strangeness. Only endless admonitions: Patience, peace, surrender. He shuts it out, and focuses on the depths of his rage, his frustration, his anger… even the memory of his pain.
Now that he knows what it feels like to die, he knows how fiercely he wishes to live.
To live, and be justified.
To try again—if that is, in fact, what the Force wills.
A chime sounds at his door. The morning hour of his usual rising has come and gone, and now Mitaka waits for him. Rey waits, too—down in the hangar bay, in his father’s coffin of an escape pod.
“Take me to her,” he tells Mitaka, when the door opens and the officer opens his mouth to give the daily report.
Somehow, the six hours of fuel remaining for the Resistance fleet now has slid much, much lower on his list of priorities.
He’s late this time to the hangar. His morning distractions have pushed him past the normal time he is dressed and ready. And by the time he is, Rey has already been cuffed and detained, taken down to one of the cells. His troopers… they have no idea what they are dealing with, or who; Kylo storms past the hangar and heads down to the detention block, following the breadcrumbs of bemused light that Rey has so clearly left in her wake. Her energy is tantalizing to him, as always.
But something about him not being there to receive her has… shifted it.
When he finds her, she’s still cuffed, but only because she wants to be. She smiles up at him hesitantly, and he realizes that he’s actually smiling at her.
“Am I still your guest?” she says.
Kylo flicks with two gloved fingers, and even through the static-field barrier, the manacles fall from her wrists and clatter to the floor.
“You tell me,” he says.
Her eyes widen. Through their bond, he feels her feelings swirl, and he realizes with a start that she…
She wants him.
She desires him.
Kylo… does not know what to do with this information.
He had hoped—he’d be lying if he said otherwise—but he never would’ve confessed that to anyone, not in a million years. But he doesn’t have a million years. He has one day, this one. A day that will end with him on his knees before her.
This time, however, he wants her to look down at him with something other than resignation in her eyes.
And her desire, through the now flung-open bond between them, feeds his.
She flinches when she senses him stroke along the edges of her mind. He would never force her, not there, not anywhere; he is not that kind of man. But she is vulnerable to him like this, and it’s like she’s stripping away layer after layer after layer of her garments.
“Is that what you dream of?” he breathes, when she offers him the vision—the very darkest and most shameful of her desires. The things he does to her—the things she does to him—
Rey closes her eyes.
It takes nothing at all to destroy the locks on the cell. Nothing but a gentle sigh to crush the cameras that watch them. The field dissipates with a faint noise, and then: silence. Nothing but the thrum of the ship around them, their shared, pulsing desire between them.
Soon, he thinks, the ship will collide with the Supremacy .
They only have this moment, and then: he knows they survive, if they are in the throne room.
He cannot guarantee that they’ll survive down here.
But maybe they are meant to die together.
Either way, when he reaches for her, and she sends him the simple request— Take your gloves off for me, Ben —he obeys.
Bare skin touches bare skin.
Both of them gasp and shudder at the contact: his hand, her shoulder. She whimpers as he unwraps the bindings from that arm, trails his fingers down her forearm, feels the hairs rise, trailing after his touch.
She is new to this; she doesn’t need to say it, just as he doesn’t need to say the same. But he knows her body, feels it keenly, tenderly, as she opens to him. And he isn’t afraid to open for her. All of that darkness, that fear, that self-loathing—she sees it, and holds him, peering into his soul unflinchingly.
“I was so afraid,” he gasps out, in response to her gentle, unspoken question: “that he would… try to hurt you, too. That he would see...”
The darkness, he thinks—but he cannot bear to say it, because in this moment, she never saw him fall. Never drew on the darkness, never turned. She doesn’t even acknowledge it in herself, he realizes; she is trying so hard to be good. So Kylo hides that thought away from her and pours his honest desire in instead.
“He didn’t,” Rey replies, whimpering as he caresses her skin. And then: “I fought him, before I left. He told me the truth and I… Ben, I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve that. No one does.”
Her raw honesty humbles him. She wants him—nobody has ever said that to him before, not like this.
“I’m just glad you’re safe,” he says.
Rey’s all hesitance and tender fear through their bond; how can she ask for what she wants, when she doesn’t know if she should, if it’s safe, if he wants the same.
“I feel it too,” he says.
And the tension breaks.
She nods. Gives him permission.
This is what they both want.
Kylo looks down and watches his own hands pull aside the fabric that covers her chest. Somehow her belt is already off, cast to the floor. Rey is as caught up in the moment as he is, and fuck if his hands don’t look huge against her. The sight of it does something to him. He had no idea, none at all, that this was what awaited him: Her little breasts, tucked beneath a shirt that…
He can see her nipples, peach-pink under the pale cream fabric.
He wants to thumb at them, make her squirm, and so he does. He wants to taste them, so he does that too. It’s just all so good, so heady, so perfect. He wants what she wants what he wants, around and around in a perfect spiral that ends in their combustion.
“Ben,” she whimpers. “Ben, please…”
There’s a flat metal bunk in the cell, hardly comfortable, but serviceable. He leads her down to it, or she leads him—it’s all fuzzy at this point, and his heart is pounding in his ears. She’s on her back, knees bent, shirt gone, as he tugs her trousers off roughly, urgently. How much time do they have? He doesn’t know. But there’s a heaviness to his senses, a feeling of foreboding.
He’s doomed her, keeping her down here.
Selfish, he’s so selfish.
He doesn’t care.
He parts her thighs, and puts his mouth where they both want it to go.
Maybe this was what the Force wanted.
Ben learns her body quickly, listening to her urging, spoken and felt. There’s a space there, sensitive, unbearably sensitive, but she loves it when he presses the flat of his tongue there, when he licks and licks and licks. He can’t believe his sheer, dumb luck: this girl, this one, of all of the people in the galaxy, has come to him, and him alone. She lets him taste her; he can deny her nothing. He is her captive, willingly, eagerly.
“Inside… please…” Rey pants, and he obeys her.
One thick finger—she feels him slide in as if he’s massive, her thoughts tangled and heady, thinking about how much she loves his hand, which is enough to give him the largest ego boost he’s ever felt—goes inside of her body, where she is slick and wet and where her muscles throb and flutter. He feels as triumphant as she does when he brings her to the peak, feeling in his own body the echoes of her pleasure.
The Resistance ship collides with the Supremacy .
He is not in the throne room. He is not safe. But he’s not alone, at least.
The world explodes, and the two of them are lost.
But ah, what a way to go.
He wakes alone in his bed, head echoing with the memory of the jizz-wailer’s voice. He licks his lips, and it’s like he can almost recall the taste of her—salt and musk and sweet.
The day—this same, kriffing day—has begun anew.
But as glorious as that iteration had been, he knows that it had been wrong. Perhaps this is the long-awaited personal growth and strength of character that Uncle Luke had always been yammering about, who can say. He could wait, find her in the cell, take her again and again, the first time, every time.
That is… tantalizing. More tempting than the darkness has ever been. But… he already feels as if he’s losing touch with himself, with reality. Surely the Force means him to be doing something. Something other than eat Rey’s beautiful pussy for eternity. Again, tempting. There’s clearly something he is missing, some detail that he needs to get right, some choice he needs to make, or else the Force wouldn’t be looping him in this same day, to live it over and over again.
He rises, and skips the morning shower, in order to be ready before Mitaka arrives. He cannot tempt himself any further by seeing Rey in the detention cell again, or he will…
Kylo shakes off this thought, and dresses quickly.
Mitaka is there.
The two of them head down to the hangar.
He holds her saber—no, it’s his saber; by rights, it belongs to him—and stands with his hand clasped around his wrist, behind her in lift.
She stays cuffed. He can’t get the sound of those cuffs falling to the floor of the detention block out of his mind. He needs to focus.
Every little detail has to be correct, this time. He has to do things right.
“You don’t have to do this,” Rey says. “I feel the conflict within you; it’s tearing you apart.”
Kylo swallows. She’s right; he is conflicted, but he’s so guarded, she can only guess at what the source of it is, this time. He stares straight ahead, willing himself not to think about her taste, her little breasts, her writhing beneath him as they—
“Ben,” she says. “When we touched hands, I saw your future. Just the shape of it, but solid, and clear.”
He’s heard these words before. They still shake him, every time.
“You will not bow before Snoke.” Rey takes a step closer to him, just like the first time. And, like that first time, he can’t breathe when she is there. When she’s close enough that he can see her hazel eyes.
“You’ll turn,” she says. “I’ll help you…”
She can’t know, he thinks. He can’t let her know the true nature of his thoughts, what he’s seen, what they’ve done. What she begged him to do.
“I saw something, too,” he says, thinking about seeing between her legs, to where she was pink and soft and ripe—shielding himself as strongly as he can. “Because of what I saw, I know when the moment comes, you’ll be the one to turn. You’ll stand with me.”
She doesn’t believe him. She can’t let herself believe him—that much is obvious, just like it was the first time. And the next words hurt him to say, because he knows, now, how much they hurt her to hear. But she has to know.
“Rey, I saw who your parents were.”
She winces at this, just as he knows she will.
Again, she backs away from him, and the lift slows, and the door opens behind her.
Snoke is waiting.
It goes right this time. Same as the first time. He has to wait there, on one knee, and listen to Rey as she struggles and screams. It’s horrible. The first time he’d lived this moment, his mind had been in turmoil. He had found his resolve, feeling her suffer through their bond. He had felt that there was someone, at last, in this whole wide galaxy who was like him. Who understood the depths of pain and loneliness, who felt the way he felt, and wanted what he wanted. Union, togetherness; something to stem the tide of horrible gutting loneliness that fills his every waking hour. And then, she had appeared.
And he’d known.
And yet… as Rey’s mind had been torn open by Snoke, Kylo had been revolted not only at Snoke’s callous plunder of Rey’s mind, but also by the insight that this was what Snoke had done to him—this is what it must’ve looked like, if anyone had been there to witness it.
“Foolish boy,” Snoke says. There’s laughter in his voice. A knowing sort of laughter.
Kylo looks up. Sees, to his dawning horror, that something has, yet again, gone sideways. Rey is hovering in midair, no longer screaming, no longer conscious. Snoke is rising to his feet.
Ben reaches for the saber on the floor, but finds it isn’t there.
“I see your mind,” Snoke crows. “I see your every intent. Your Skywalker blood is of no use to me if it cannot be steadfast.”
He closes his eyes.
There is no death; there is the Force.
This time, the next time, he follows everything from that first moment to the letter.
He shields his thoughts.
He waits. He says the lines like he’s an actor in a holodrama. He doesn’t think about Rey, wreathed in the darkness, or Rey, on her back with her legs spread or Rey being like him.
Snoke dies by his hand, as it was meant to be. That, at least, feels right.
But when he turns, and sees that Rey is running to the viewport, something inside of him just breaks. She should be here, with him; her past betrayed her, left her in the sand, and yet she still runs back to beg on her knees to save it. It doesn’t matter.
Let the past die.
She is distracted for long enough that Kylo can disassemble the saber he’s holding, the one she’d thrown at him. His grandfather’s weapon.
He pulls out the kyber crystal, holds it in his hands.
Rey turns back to look at him, wild-eyed and desperate. “The fleet!”
“They’ll be dead before I can call off the attack,” he says.
And it’s the truth.
She doesn’t want to hear it.
“You kriffing coward!” Rey rounds on him, reaching for his saber, easily taking it into her hands like before. “Your mother’s on that ship, and you’re just going to let her die?”
“That isn’t—” he can’t find the words; his mother is there, and he can feel her in the Force, distantly, but—
“You’re a coward ,” Rey advances on him, the saber lit red in her hands. “You’ll never come back to the light. I see that now. This was all just a ploy to get me to help you seize power!”
Kriff. He can feel her panic overwhelming her. He’s fucked it up, yet again, like he always does, like he always will. Kylo lets the blue kyber crystal fall to the ground, where it hits with a little plink. Such a tiny noise for such a weighty piece of history.
It makes sense, he thinks, as he drops to his knees before her, when he understands Rey’s intentions. How fervently she has swung not to the dark this time, but to the light. It makes sense that the light would tell her to put him down like this. Better to die at her feet than be goaded into a fight.
He’s so tired of fighting.
Rey shakes her head, though, and turns off the saber.
“There’s an escape shuttle,” he says, dully, looking up into her eyes. “Leave, and you’ll survive what’s coming.”
“Is that a threat?”
He shakes his head. “No. I—I can’t save the fleet. I can’t give that to you. I would if I could but—Rey, you have to survive. You’ll be good enough, you’ll be all the things I never was, and can never be.”
Rey stands there for a moment longer, as much time as she can afford. Then, apparently, seeing no malice there in his intentions, she nods, and follows the route she’s taken from his mind. Running to Snoke’s escape shuttle.
He doesn’t pursue her.
What’s the point? he thinks. Nothing he does matters. He tries so hard, and every time, it ends wrong.
He is still there on his knees when Hux comes in.
This time, he bows his head, and lets the man do what he’s been wanting to do each time he’s found him.
What does it matter.
He’ll wake again with the dawn—or what passes for it, here on this wretched ship.
Kylo wakes to a memory.
He lays in his narrow, uncomfortable bed, and thinks about the song that haunts his dreams.
It wasn’t even one that his father particularly liked. It had just been… a song.
Now, he can’t get the tune out of his head.
He closes his eyes, ignoring Mitaka’s insistent chime at his door. What’s the point of it. What’s the point of any of it? He can’t win. He’ll never succeed. He’ll die, or watch her die, and he doesn’t know which thing is worse. Why this day, of all days? That’s what he wants to know. Why couldn’t the Force or whatever it is responsible for this repetition have picked some other day, literally any other—
Well. Not any other.
There are some things he doesn’t want to repeat.
He doesn’t want to think about those days.
But—some other day. Like, the night when Luke had tried to kill him, for example. Ben would have slept with his saber in his hands, and been ready. He would’ve struck down the old fool and truly been what everyone seems to fear he is.
He wouldn’t have.
Kylo rolls to his side, and stares at the blank wall across from his bed.
He wouldn’t have struck down Luke. He couldn’t do it then, not really, and wouldn’t have wanted to. The moment he’d screamed, and his saber had sliced through thin air, he’d known it to be true. Feeling his uncle pass, become one with the Force, had—
Kylo’s eyes go wide.
Maybe that’s the part of the day where he’s going wrong. Maybe it’s not this part, the part with Rey, but what comes after.
It’s too late, now, to change it.
But maybe if he can get down to Rey, she’ll be in custody, and he can end his day in the cell like… like that one time. The time he wishes he would wake up dreaming about, instead of that kriffing song, that kriffing memory.
Kylo leaps out of bed and dresses hastily, even sloppily.
But by the time he reaches the end of the hall, Snoke is there, in his mind—
Come to me, apprentice , he says.
And Kylo feels a sinking sense of wrongness that he cannot foresee at all.
“I have pulled the information from the girl’s mind,” Snoke says, as Kylo looks down at Rey’s prone body on the floor. There’s life in her, but such a thin trickle of it that he can’t…
He can’t breathe.
He can’t hear what Snoke is saying at all.
He closes his eyes, and takes the saber from his belt, igniting it into his own chest in one swift and deadly motion.
After that, the repetitions begin to blur together.
Kylo begins to detach from himself, from the narrative he knows, from the first or second or third attempts.
He begins to learn the pattern of the day he cannot escape. How many seconds it takes for things to happen. What changes if he waits here, goes there. Says this, doesn’t say that.
All he learns is that he cannot do what Rey wants him to do. He cannot be who Rey wants him to be. He is stuck, and he is scared, and he doesn’t know if he is Ben Solo or Kylo Ren or something else, someone else, entirely.
After a certain point, he starts to play with the day.
He can be endlessly cruel, take out his frustrations on more than just furniture and bulkheads and control panels, and it’s all reset for him the next day. No consequences, save for the ones in his own mind.
He can wake up, ingest every stimulant that the med-droid can be convinced to give him, and float away on a haze of nebulous unconsciousness.
He can walk out an airlock, try to flirt with something, anything, that will make the day, and his anguish end.
None of it, absolutely none of it makes any goddamn kriffing difference.
His mind slips, ever so slightly.
And at some point, he stops wallowing in his despair, and it all becomes hysterically funny to him, in a darkly absurd kind of way. One iteration, he just starts repeating what people have said—will say—are saying, before they can say it. Mitaka looks horrified. Snoke looks genuinely terrified. It doesn’t end well, but it’s fun, darkly comedic. He dies anyway.
The time after that—or is it? He’s losing count—Kylo just starts laughing in the throne room, right to Snoke’s face. It’s just so easy. He knows exactly where the Praetorian Guard will strike him; he fights them, one-handed, laughing wildly the whole time.
Kylo learns what face Hux makes when he kisses the man. How quickly the blow comes from Hux’s fist, afterwards. He learns what it feels like to ignore Snoke, steal a ship, and then crash into the side of the Supremacy . He lives a hundred lives, a thousand of them, and none of it does him any good.
So one morning—the same morning—when he wakes, he decides to do something he’s never done before. Something he hasn’t done in a long, long time.
There’s an air of calm that surrounds him as he walks the halls of the Supremacy . He’s obtained a regular worker’s outfit, drab olive-gray with a wild orange vest over top of it. A quick push in the Force, a subtle suggestion, and everyone who passes by thinks he’s a blonde radar technician. It’s so simple; the others are so impressionable. And so long as he doesn’t get distracted by Rey being pulled out of the escape pod and taken to her cell, he is a man on a mission.
It hurts, leaving Rey behind.
He knows what Snoke will do to her, and he knows that, if all the other things he’s done, the terrible and the absurd and the wretched, weren’t enough to stop these loops from happening, this won’t be enough either. Half of his soul cries out as he steals a ship and flies towards the Raddus , but he keeps going.
They don’t shoot him down.
He knows why.
He lets them put cuffs on his wrists, but both he and the frail old woman sitting there in the medbay know he doesn’t notice them, they wouldn’t hold him.
Why had it been so easy for him to come here? Him, of all people.
And Leia smirks. “Because I told them to let you.”
Ben shakes his head. “I… Mom, I’m so sorry.”
“I know you are.”
It rankles him, that knowing, tenderly smug voice she has; it always has. By what right should she know his mind better than he does? All at once he feels as if he is eight years old again, after one of his outbursts, waiting patiently for the comfort he needs to come down. Or an infant, fussing and distressed. How many times had she sighed and tried to quiet him, her own Force-senses reaching out to soothe his distress. Except now, they both know there was always more to the story. More she didn’t see, more he didn’t know. More darkness within him, but not of him, that always danced away from her touch.
“What do I do?”
Leia sighs, and reaches out to pat his hand. Her skin feels tender, delicate, fragile. All of her is fragile—in the Force, she’s a flame in a hurricane. And he is part of the storm that seeks to diminish her.
It tears at his soul.
“When the time comes,” she says, “you have to make the right choice. That’s all any of us can do. Make the right choice, and then the next one, and the next. And keep going.”
Then her eyes widen, and he turns, and sees Poe Dameron standing behind him.
“So,” he says, leveling a gun at him, a steely look in his eye: “You couldn’t seriously think this would end well for you, do you?”
“Poe, now isn’t—”
But Kylo is way too angry to hear reason, even his mother’s recently-imparted reason. He stands to his full height, and starts towards Dameron.
Kylo Ren wakes to a memory.
He’d like to say that the despair is gone from his life, but that isn’t true.
He’s lived, and died, and lived, and died thousands of times. This same day, this same moment, again and again, endlessly.
When the time comes, his mother’s voice echoes in his thoughts, you have to make the right choice.
But what choice is that?
And is it just one choice, one tiny detail, or is it something else?
He rises, and showers, and dresses himself. He follows the original plan for the day, walking mechanically, calmly through the steps of it. Rey, in the escape pod—his father’s pod, but that no longer stings when he reads the words. Property of… she is property of no one, not his father, not his mother, not him, although that is what he wants with the very strongest desires of his heart.
He lets that go.
And it’s hard—kriffing impossible, because he has to let go of the need to belong to her, too. But that can’t be the answer. That selfishness, it must be something more.
He walks her to the throne room, content and focused this time. He has to go back to the start, to understand the variables.
And everything goes as it first did. When he’s on his knees, down in the abandoned base on Crait, he looks up at Rey.
This time, he asks her a question: “Where did I go wrong? What did you need me to do?”
She doesn’t answer him with her words. But he feels, through the bond, her utter despair. And instead of pushing it away, he embraces it. Lets it all in. Feels how much she had been hoping, how much he had let her down.
He’d misunderstood her, right from the start.
But maybe there’s something he can still do.
He has choices, after all. It’s time he started choosing differently.
The next time he wakes, he is just as careful as the first. Instead of being paralyzed by fear, he is…
The light is inside of him, has always been inside of him. He doesn’t have to light himself on fire, to douse the world in flame to see the light. It’s a small, precious thing, a spark caught in his cupped hands. Not enough to see into the shadowed, murky corners of his mind, but enough, just enough, to light the way.
The darkness will always be there.
That, he understands. (Luke didn’t; he couldn’t, because the dark was inside him, too, and it frightened him, and the thought of training a boy, training his nephew, and failing to purge it in him had been—)
Choices, he thinks.
He is Kylo Ren.
He is Ben Solo.
He has choices.
So he makes them.
Rey watches him with the same calm wariness as she always has, here in the elevator together.
She says his name, and a thrill goes through him.
“When we touched hands, I saw your future. Just the shape of it, but solid, and clear.”
“I saw something too,” he says. Stepping closer to her, gazing down into her eyes.
For a moment, they connect. He remembers what it was like, touching her hand. He remembers, too, what it was like when they were… together.
He clips her saber to his belt, beside his own. And slowly tugs off one of his gloves.
Rey looks down at his bare hand.
“What do you want from me,” she asks him—voice no louder than a whisper. “I don’t understand…”
She’s always the confident one, the collected one, isn’t she? She’s perfect and he’s the mess. But the fact that she’s asking him—it floors him.
He reaches over, stilling the ascent of the elevator with a touch of his hand on the control panel.
“I wish we had more time,” he sighs.
She furrows her brow at him. But her hand finds his. Tentatively, but surely. He clutches at her fingers and gasps as he feels a tear roll down his cheek.
Another flick of his still-gloved hand, and the bindings fall to the floor.
The only thing that confines people like him, and like her, are the prisons they build in their own minds. And he’s crying now, not trying to hide it from her at all. She reaches up with her newly-freed hand, swipes at the tears on his cheek.
“We have all the time we want, Ben.”
But he shakes his head. Now that they’re touching, skin to skin, he can feel the echoes of that vision they’d shared. It’s too raw, too delicate to think about. He doesn’t deserve a world at peace, holding her hand in a field of soft green and growing things. He doesn’t deserve any of it. And so he’d pushed that away, too.
He deserves to hurt, and to fail, and to suffer. He deserves to be the monster who can be skewered and shamed. The one who can be pointed at: Here is the example. Here is the cautionary tale.
“No, Ben, no,” Rey murmurs, rising up on her toes, kissing his wet cheek. “You’re not—”
“I am ,” he says. “I killed my own father, how can—”
His words break off into a sob. He’s weak, he’s pathetic. Snoke is waiting to show him, to correct him.
“No,” Rey says it again, more firmly this time. Her hand is in his hand, her other, cupped around his cheek, her thumb tracing away the wet tears there as he cries. “You told me… you told me you loved him. You thought it would make you stronger, and you were wrong. You made a mistake, a… a terrible mistake, and you paid for it. But you’re the last hope. You’re the one who can end this.”
“I’m so tired,” Ben says, on a shuddering exhale. “I’m tired of… being the one… I’m tired of legacy, of making mistakes… I relive that moment over and over, I wake to a dream of him...”
Wordlessly, he shares the dream-memory with Rey: Not the moment when his saber had pierced his father’s heart, but the one he wakes to this endless, repeating day. Her little hand hand tightens in his.
“You’re not alone,” she says. “We can break this… together.”
His eyes widen, startled by the realization that he’s shared more than just the jizz-wailer’s tune. He’s shared everything with her—the days and days of despair and frustration and suffering. He feels through their bond that she’s bewildered by it, unsure whether to take it literally. And, in consolation, she shares with him her own hell: the marks on the wall of her dwelling. Day after day after day.
“I’m not alone,” Ben says. Half to himself, half to her.
Everything happens in a rush, after that.
Skin on skin is what he craves; she craves it, too.
And they’ve both been alone for so long. Alone, holding the weight of legacy on their shoulders. He kisses her bare shoulders when she pulls aside her tunic for him. He groans when her hands find the closures of his own garments, pulling them open, bare hands sliding up over his scarred and sensitive torso. He flinches away from her fingertips as his mouth sucks wetly at the juncture between her neck and shoulder. He’s… he’s not hurt, he’s ticklish .
He laughs out loud at this revelation.
No one’s ever touched him there. Not like this, not ever.
Everything feels so good.
He feels like he’s dying. Like he’s drowning, and she’s the air, the water—his metaphors are all tangled up, and their limbs are, too. Stuck in clothing and eager and rushing headlong into pushing as much skin to skin as they collectively can manage.
She elbows him in the gut when she growls and yanks at her breast-binding.
He kicks off a boot, just the one, but her hands push his trousers down and the other one is completely forgotten as she wraps a hand around his cock.
In this timeline, in all other timelines, he’s utterly new at this. So is she—but he has the benefit of that one, glorious moment, where she’d let him put his mouth on her. This amazing woman, so strong, so unbreakable, she breaks beneath him when she pulls him down to the floor. He can feel through her senses how much she loves his body: how wide he is, how strong, how he could pin her down with ease, how much she would love to do the same. He shudders and just about comes right there at that mental picture. With a groan, she pulls his discarded boot out from beneath her shoulder blades, throws it at the door. Something, somewhere, chimes. Both of them ignore it.
“Tell me what to do,” he groans, cock leaking and insistent, slipping against her folds but not going in where he—where they both need it, want it, crave it. “Tell me, Rey.”
He isn’t just talking about sex.
He’s begging her for wisdom, what does she want, he’ll give her everything she wants, so long as it means he wakes tomorrow with her in his arms.
“Inside,” Rey gasps, rubs the head of him against her folds, slicking him back and forth, trying to find it... “Ben, inside—”
It's like before, but different, so different. He shifts his hips, she gasps, and he’s there .
“Oh fuck,” he pants, “Oh fuck, oh fuck—”
It’s over shamefully quickly for them. He’s no suave lover, has nothing to give her except himself, but she rubs at herself above where they are joined, and he feels the honesty of her pleasure when he’s still shaking apart. She lets him see it all—nights, alone, in a hammock, when the sandstorms would howl against the shell of her home, and she’d comfort herself like this, bring herself off with her hand on her slick center. It’s a gift, a gift. She pulses around him, bright white and lovely, and she flows into him as he spurts inelegantly into her. The physical, the intangible, it all blurs together.
And then, after, when they are panting on top of a discarded pile of clothing, the elevator starts to move again.
Ben doesn’t panic. He’s way, way too relaxed to panic. And as much as he’d like to take another attempt at losing his virginity—it’s not exactly the best, most holovid-perfect version that the Force has ever seen—he is determined that this day, this one right here, is the last time he’s going to relive today. Because as messy as it is, as imperfect as it was, it cannot possibly get any better than this.
He won’t allow it.
“We’re going to kill Snoke,” he says, like an endearment, brushing a loose tendril of Rey’s hair back from her cheek.
She smiles at him.
He doesn’t have to say a thing.
Neither of them have to hide.
They dress hastily, sloppily.
The moment the elevator doors open, Snoke’s triumphant face fades into a look of bewilderment.
Whatever he was expecting to see coming in through the doorway, this isn’t it: Two half-dressed Force-users, in a post-coital glow that extends around them both like a shimmering bubble of light.
He doesn’t even get a word in before Rey lifts him up with the Force—Ben marvels at her power, the way the dark and the light twine around them both, the way she saw it, in his past visions, how many times Snoke had done the same to her.
He doesn’t even get to call for his guards before Ben has sent the lit saber flying at him.
He falls to pieces, gold robe smoking.
After that, the guards fall easily, one after the other, after the other.
Inside, Ben thinks. She let me inside. She took me inside—
And this is a high that pushes him to a wilder edge than any of the narcotics the med-droids had given him. The fight is, finally, different. The timing is off, but they work together. They take them down, in a ballet of death and beauty that makes Ben want to fall to his knees and worship at her feet for as many days as the Force allows him.
He’s inside of her, feeling what she feels. And she’s there, with him, steadying him just by existing.
In the end, they both drop their sabers to the ground, when the last guard falls. The weapons are from an old and dying age; they understand that, now. Both of them.
Rey pants, weary from the fight, all of the energy fleeing from her as the Ninka collides with the Supremacy .
So Ben carries her to the shuttle. But not before transmitting one single code—his first, and last act as Supreme Leader.
Rey slumps into the passenger seat of the shuttle as Ben pilots them both away from the wreckage of the Supremacy .
Let Hux try and salvage this one. Ben had used his personal codes to blast to every available listening ear the security protocols of the entire First Order. Within moments, everyone will know—about the weapons facilities on Hays Minor, the ones on Kerroc, about the stormtrooper training program, the records of every planet they’ve plundered and robbed. Hux will be scrambling; those are his pet projects, his cunning plans. A few fleeing vessels will not distract him now. Ben can feel it, in the Force. Hux will call off the attack, attempt to salvage the much juicier morsel.
Let the past die.
Let the future die, too—any future that means repeating the same mistakes, dancing in the same tempting illusions as the past.
He doesn’t chart a course at all.
He lets the Force guide him.
The bond’s never been this open before. He’s never let her in, but he won’t push her out now. The man he was before was hollow, an automaton. Sad and scared and alone.
You’re not alone, she says to him, her mouth unmoving, smiling gently at him.
He knows. Force, how he knows.
And off in the distance, he feels it: A farewell.
The Force floods with it: Peace and Purpose. Ben wipes at the tears coming from his eyes, and knows that something inside of him has changed. He remembers another day, a vitriolic showdown on a salt planet, white and carved red beneath his feet.
He hadn’t come to save Ben’s soul.
He’d come to apologize.
“Where are we going?” Rey asks him, reaching across the center console, taking Ben’s hand. He’d lost his gloves somewhere, and has no desire to ever put them on again.
Ben’s answer is their vision—the true and honest vision, the one he’d been trying so hard to tell himself he didn’t deserve.
Somewhere peaceful, green and growing.
Somewhere with a space for a little house, on the edge of a forest.
Somewhere delicate, and free from war.
He flies, trusting in the Force fully, and eventually, the two of them fall back to the shuttle’s single bed, curled up together like two passion-bud vines, legs and arms pulled close.
Ben Solo wakes to the feeling of Rey in his arms.
Above them, an alarm is blaring—noisy and a bit obnoxious, an alert that they’ve made planetfall and the atmosphere is cleared to exit the shuttle—and it’s the best kriffing sound Ben has ever heard.
Together, the Force is singing a new song.
The light in the dark, the dark in the light. It’s never felt like this before for him, and he knows Rey feels the same. He knows it, because even before she opens her hazel eyes, she’s smiling. The bond is thrown wide open between them. He feels so much.
He never wants it to stop.
“Where are we?” she asks, her voice groggy and a bit raw from sleep yet.
Ben kisses the top of her hair.
“Home,” he says.
And they rise, and open the door, and walk down into the green world that awaits them.