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There is a point of him being inside her, a point when he breaks down. Not a dam bursting, not quite, but one slowly cracking open: his hands tighten around her hips, his breath grows hotter against her skin, and there is a slight tremor in his voice as he whispers: “Rey.”

Sometimes he adds, “Please,” or “Yes,” or inane praises that make her smile and blush. Often it’s just, “Rey,” repeated over and over as his thrusts become faster and shallower, as his head buries in her throat, as his cock becomes impossibly harder and larger inside her.

Rey lies back, closes her eyes, and absorbs his pleasure into herself.

 

 

He stares at her for several seconds, first blinking and then… not.  

It’s probably just because he isn’t able to place her. The green Subway uniform is a far cry from the blouses and slacks she used to wear while working for his mother, even if those had been bought from the sale rack at Target; not to mention that Ben Solo was Snoke’s right hand all along, and Rey had just been… Rey. Little more than an intern.

Solo cannot possibly remember her.

“Toasted?” she asks, her eyes on the slices of provolone lining the sandwich. But Solo doesn’t answer, so she looks up and—he’s still staring. Still unblinking. Rey points to the oven behind her. “Would you like me to toast your—”

“Rey.” 

She freezes. But it’s only for a few beats. Okay, so maybe he does remember her. No big deal. She gathers her fake smile, and repeats, “Hey. So, would you like it toasted or—”

“Rey.”

He sounds… less like the jerk she knows him to be, saying her name like that, low and ever so out of breath. But he still looks the part, with his expensive suit and his tall build and those dark, tilted eyes. 

Rey stiffens. “Yes?”

“What are you doing here?”

She can’t roll her eyes. Her manager is five feet away from her, and when people don’t have their immigration papers in order, they can’t afford to get fired for informing customers that they are being slow and ridiculously annoying. “I am toasting your sandwich. Unless you’d rather I didn’t, in which case I’ll be happy to add the veggies of your choosing and—”

“You are in engineering school.”

That... that is a low blow. And how does he even know, anyway? It’s not like she’d ever told him. They had barely talked, back then. Back when

“Clearly, I am not.” Her customer service face slips for just a second. “Would you like eggs or avocados—”

“Why are you working here?”

It’s such—such a privileged, Ben Solo thing to ask. “Amazing benefits.” She smiles breezily. “You should see the 401k Plan. And the sandwiches are phenomenal—apropos of that, did you want yours toasted, or—”

“Is anything wrong?” Plutt, her slug of a manager, puts away his phone and waddles towards Rey, staring at her pointedly. “Is she giving you any trouble, sir?”

Rey’s hand tightens on the pieces of bread. And then relaxes when Ben says, “No. No, I… Toasted, please. Lettuce, tomato, and black olives.”

When he hands her his credit card, Rey makes a point of not meeting his eyes.

“Did you know that guy?” Simon asks her once Plutt is back to playing Angry Birds. 

Rey busies herself cutting cucumbers. “Which one?”

“The tall one. Fancy suit. Black hair.”

She almost slices her index finger through the glove. “Not really. He’s just—we used to work together. We would… interact, sometimes.” Mostly looks. And a couple of emails. One tense, stilted conversation in the elevator. “But not really.”

“Mmm.” Simon leans against the counter. “Was that Wendy’s? No, McDonald’s, right?”

Rey bites the inside of her cheek. “Something like that.” 

 

 

“Are you?” 

He has kept her up until… until way too late, with his fingers deep inside her cunt and his cock deeper inside her throat, and when she looks up from her bowl of cereal she has to blink quickly to focus on him. 

“Sorry, what did you say? I was…?”

He smiles fondly and cups her face with his large hand, his thumb coming up to brush residues of sleep from the corner of her eyes. He leans forward to kiss her brow, which is weird but not that weird, considering where else his mouth has been on her body.

Which is everywhere.

They have developed small, silent rituals that revolve around touch, but they don’t talk much. Mostly logistics and organizing for their next meeting. A few sparse questions: is Rey hungry, or tired, or does she needs anything? He is clean and so is she, can they do without protection? Yes? Great. Updates on her immigration papers, which he is working on fixing for her. Whispered reminders that she feels amazing, that her little pussy is so tight, that they don’t have to do that if she doesn’t want to, he’s perfectly happy to just fuck her missionary once again. Rey always shushes him and lets him do whatever he likes—it’s not as if she minds. As if she doesn’t want him to.

“I asked if you are free next week.”

Oh. “Right. Sorry.” She smiles, apologetic, and he smiles back. “Which night?”

He shrugs and loops his tie around his neck. “All of them.”

“All nights? Of next week?” 

Ben nods, and Rey fills her mouth with a spoonful of cereal. It’s the organic, more expensive brand of the ones she usually has for breakfast. It gives her a weird, masochistic pleasure, knowing that it’s not as good as the knockoff version she can afford. 

“You have a lot of money to spend, don’t you?” she asks as she finishes swallowing. 

He lifts one eyebrow, but continues to work on his necktie. 

“Do you really need this much sex?”

It’s perhaps an unfair question. The inside of her thighs are sore and tender from last night, and she knows precisely how much sex he needs. But Ben doesn’t seem to interpret her tone as accusing, which is a relief. Rey is just… just curious about this. About him.

“I don’t need sex at all.” His voice is quiet and soothing in the soft morning light. “I just like having it with you.”

Rey smiles, not really believing him. “It’s like a superpower I have. Being good at sex. Without even having had that much of it, either. Kind of flattering.” He doesn’t answer, so she continues. “I’m free next week, but I might not be able to make it on Thursday. If my friend Rose manages to get off work early we’ll watch the soccer game at her place. If not…” She shrugs.

“You like soccer?”

“Yes. Well, only women’s soccer.”

“And you only want to watch the game with your friend?”

“It’s more that I don’t have a TV or decent wi-fi at my place, so…” She shrugs again. “But the other nights I am. Available, that is.” She doesn’t mind it, really. Being here with him. It definitely beats bumming around her studio apartment, alone. It feels a little like earning money just by existing, this arrangement.

”Okay, then.”

Rey slides another spoonful of cereal in her mouth, and nods with her mouth full. And then reaches up to tighten his tie, just so.

 

 

He comes back exactly a week later. And again a few days after. Both times the same three things happen: Ben’s gaze zeroes on her; his lips press together as his eyes slides to Plutt; and the sandwich he buys gets thrown in the trashcan right outside the store, the one clearly visible through the glass door.

It doesn’t seem like a good sign.

The third time he stops by, when Rey finds him leaning against the lone sidewalk tree after the end of her shift, she is not particularly surprised.

She sighs, staring at her own shoes. “No sandwich today?”

There is no point in avoiding him. He’ll get what he wants, eventually; people like him always do.

“No.” He grimace. “That stuff’s gross.”

Rey’s company pride does not extend to arguing with Ben Solo over a veggie sub. “Did you need anything?” 

“Just to know what you’re doing here, really.” He walks closer. He’s wearing dark jeans and a sweater, this time, and he looks young. Or younger, less like a CFO—or whatever fancy title Snoke gave him for the shady things he does for First Order. He looks handsome, because he is. Rey has always thought so, even when she and Finn had spent their nights commiserating Leia for having such a wayward son.

“Just my job. You know.” Her cheeks feel tight when she smiles.

“Your job.”

Rey shrugs. 

“Six months ago you were attending one of the best schools in the country and working for Leia. How does one go from being employed by one of the most prestigious companies in the world to—”

“Maybe the way FO ran the company into the ground had something to do with it.” It comes out more bitter than Rey expected it would. She sucks in a deep breath and takes a small step back. The last thing she needs is to get into a fight with someone right outside her workplace. “I don’t understand why you care. We don’t even really know each other.”

He studies her for a long moment. “Humor me.”

“I’d rather not.” It might be the very last thing she wants to do. And yet, she hears herself continue with a sigh. “Resistance went bankrupt—you know that, since you… yeah. I was laid off, which meant that I couldn’t pay for school, that I lost my standing and my visa. Unfortunately, my body and my landlord still had the gall to demand food and rent, respectively. So.” She gestures to the store behind her, turning briefly to glance at the green countertops.

He scans her face for a long moment. “There are better jobs. And your manager is clearly an asshole. The way he stares at you…” He looks away, as if greatly bothered by Plutt’s existence.

“Yeah, well.” Rey huffs out a laugh. “As it turns out, if your immigration papers aren’t in order your options are limited.” 

His jaw rolls. He seems… hesitant. Like he’s thinking something over. Deciding. Trying to make up his mind. And then, when he finally does: 

“Still. There are better jobs.” He slides his hand in the back of his pocket and offers her a piece of paper. She accept it automatically, and when her fingers graze his she has to suppress a shiver. Must be nerves. Right?

She is not sure.

“What is this?” It takes Rey a moment to recognize his business card, but as soon as she does her eyes widen. “I’m not going to work for Snoke.” She shakes her head vehemently. “Not after what he—”

“You’re not.” He swallows visibly. “That’s not what I was suggesting. You’d be working for me.”

“That’s the same. First Order is not a company I—”

“For me. Outside of First Order.”

She frowns. “And do… what? Make you sandwiches? Proofread your documents? You must have a PA.”

“I do.”

“Then what—”

“Rey.”

Maybe it’s the way he says her name, low and slightly reluctant. Like he’s trying to restrain himself, like he thinks he shouldn’t, like there is a world of want behind it. Maybe it’s just how he’s looking at her, pointed and nudging and above all intense. No matter what gives it away, all of a sudden Rey knows. Knows.

He must be able to tell the exact moment his request dawns on her—probably by her loud gasp, or the quick step back she takes.  “I can pay for you to finish school,” he continues conversationally. Like he’s not offering her to— that she— what“And I can get your papers in order, if you want that. A place to stay. Whatever it is that you need, I could get it for you.”

She should be indignant. Offended. Appalled. Should she call the police? Or Leia? Should she knee him in the groin?

Rey is confused.

“I… Why?” There are nothing but girls in the world. And he is—it’s not like he needs to pay for it. Look at him. At his stupidly broad shoulders and his hair and his lips. Even the nose is sort of charming.

“Because,” he says calmly, “I would like to spend time with you.”

She actually laughs. Out loud. “Spend… time.”

“Yes.” He is unfazed. 

“Spend time with me.”

He nods. This is—this is unbelievable. Impossible. He has never given her the time of day. Why would he even…

“Why me?”

He doesn’t bother answering. He gives her one last look, just a touch lingering, with just an edge of something, and says, “My number is on the card. Give me a call if you’re interested.”

She stares at his back until he turns the corner.

 

 

As it turns out, sex, if had every night, multiple times a night, can hurt. Especially with Ben, who is… large, and enthusiastic, and maybe a little rough. Especially on the third day in a row of Ben being large, enthusiastic, and a little rough. Rey realizes it at work, when she can’t quite stand still on her feet while slicing tomatoes, and in the shower, as she cleans up before going to his place, and then on Ben’s couch, when he touches her ever so gently between her legs and—

She flinches.

“You okay?” He’s getting to that point—that point when his breathing speeds up and his eyes go black and unfocused, and he groans into her skin every time she so much as brushes against him. He’s getting to that point, but he’s not quite there yet. “Does it hurt?”

“No. A little. Just—it’s been more often than…” He is usually out of town a lot. Or busy with work. Or other things that Rey doesn’t know, but it’s usually not every night, that he has her over. “I’ll just… Maybe for tonight we can do something else…” She makes to lower herself down his body with a half-smile. She really doesn’t mind going down on him: he always smells delicious, in a woodsy, sweaty, masculine way that she wishes she could bottle, and he—he just goes crazy about it, when she puts her mouth on him. Absolutely crazy. About her. “I can—”

He stops her with a hand around her upper arm, and when Rey looks up his expression is closed off. “Rey. You need to tell me these things.” He pulls her back up, and then to his side. “If I hurt you. Or if you’re sick.”

“I’m not sick. And you didn’t hurt me, not at the time. I’m just sore.” She pushes her hair back from her forehead. “And I would be glad to do other things, if you—”

“No.” His tone is firm. “We don’t have to do anything.”

She blinks, skeptical. ”Okay… Do you want me to go home?” It’s not as if his erection is not twitching against her thigh. And he has paid her already.

“No.”

“Then... what should I do?”

“Nothing.” There is something impatient, almost frustrated in the way he stares at her. “You don’t have to do anything, Rey.”

“Well, then why…” She looks around, trying to figure out why they’re all of a sudden not understanding each other anymore. They’re still speaking in English, right? “If I’m not doing anything, then why would I be here?”

There is something gently heartbreaking about the way his eyes shift as he stares at her, the way the clear brown darkens with something close to disappointment. But it’s as soft as it’s fleeting, and Rey wonders if maybe it was never there at all. Ben’s grip slides down her arm to find her hand, dragging it inside his jeans and to his cock. His fingers close around hers, moving them slowly up and down. 

“Just do this,” he murmurs. “With your pretty little fist.”

He doesn’t let go. Her continues guiding her, giving her a rhythm, and the way her hand is swallowed by his is oddly freeing; the warmth of him inside and outside her fingers, the pleasant softness of his skin, the feeling of being useful without the fear of not knowing what to do. His hand, his cock—he is so large. Scorching. She cannot remember ever giving a hand job before, and is about to say so when he leans into her, his lips firm and uncoordinated against her.

They kiss throughout, and Rey wonders if Pretty Woman might have had a point. If feels too intimate and sweet and pleasant, to kiss so much and so messily, and after he trembles and ejaculates all over her hand, after he asks her to lick it up, after he tells her hoarsely how perfect she is, Rey is so horny that she’s afraid she’ll burst open and explode. But Ben somehow works her until she is propped on his face, and tells her to move against his mouth the way she wants. A way that doesn’t hurt. 

Minutes later, when she collapses on his face, he licks her dry with gentle, kittenish swipes. Then he wraps her in a blanket and takes her to bed, and it’s the best sleep she has ever had. 

 

 

“Would there be sex?” she asks as soon as he picks up the phone. Her knee is bouncing frantically, and in the last ten minutes she has bitten her thumb nail to the flesh. 

“Who is… Rey?”

“Or—of course there would be sex. It’s the whole point. But are you into… I don’t know, are you into something weird?”

“I am into you,” he says, voice deep and scratchy with sleep, and Rey glances at the clock for the first time in a while. It’s two fifty-four a.m. On a Wednesday. Shit, she must have woken him up.

“So you don’t want to—I don’t even know, flog me or have a threesome with your ferret or make me have sex with a lacrosse team while you watch?”

“I don’t own a flog. Or a ferret.” A rustling sound—it must be Ben turning in bed. Maybe sitting up. “And the last thing I want is to think of you having sex with anyone else.”

Rey swallows, and doesn’t investigate further. “How much would you pay me? Per… per time. Per night.”

“How much would you like me to pay you?”

The number she names is so high, it’s half a joke. In all likelihood not even escorts who speak five languages, can tie cherry stems with their tongues, and do Kegels six days a week can command that sum. And yet Ben doesn’t hesitate.

“Then that’s what I’ll pay you.”

“In advance? Every time?”

“Yes, in advance and every time.”

Oh god. This is getting way too good to pass up. Except that it was way too good to pass up from the very first—from the moment he said he’d fix her papers. 

“And you mentioned you could help me with my immigration status?”

“That is correct.” His voice is getting sharper, more focused. Because he’s slowly becoming more awake. If Rey goes through with this, it’s likely that she’ll know exactly what he looks like, when some idiot wakes him up at three a.m. because she has no sense of time and is too keyed up to sleep. She’d know the ins and outs of Ben Solo’s bed.

“How long would it last? Our… this thing?”

“I don’t know. Until you don’t want to anymore, I guess?”

“What if you don’t want to anymore.”

He clicks his tongue. “I doubt it.”

“You can’t know beforehand. Maybe you won’t like the way I… The way I have sex, and—”

“I doubt it,” he repeats, inflexible. She lets it go and inhales deeply.

“This is—I mean, you’re a lawyer. You know what this is, right?” It feels like she owes it to herself, to say the word out loud. And maybe she wants to taunt him with it a bit, too. To see exactly how blasé he is about this. “It’s basically… It’s prostitution.”

A pause. “I am aware.”

“Not that there’s anything intrinsically bad with buying or selling sex, but…” As long as they’re clear about this. She just wants this to be clear. Not something that will unravel and tangle her life any further. “When—could we have one trial night? In which we try to…” To have sex. To see if I can go through with it. To see how it makes me feel. To see if you actually like me. “You know.”

“Of course.” He sounds really alert now. “When would you like to do that?”

“What about tomorrow, after my shift? Does that work?”

When Rey wakes up the following morning, the money is already in her bank account.

 

 

She doesn’t think much of it, when he offers to pick her up at her apartment; it’s the moment he takes a left turn on the highway that it occurs to Rey that they might not be going to his place.

“Wait—weren’t you supposed to take exit two?” She looks around, trying to re-orient herself. 

“No,” he tells her. And nothing else.

“You know that your place is that way, right?” It’d be easier if he weren’t wearing sunglasses. If she could catch his eyes through the shades. It’s not that she feels unsafe with him—for some probably misplaced reason, she never does—but she’s not used to not being able to read him.

“Is it?”

“Ben.” He must hear the press in her tone, because he finally turns to her. “Where are we going?”

He bites the inside of his cheek. “I just thought we’d go out tonight. Do something different.”

“Different?” She has no idea what he means. Different like dinner together? Or different like some sort of depraved BDSM sex club? Because Rey is very much not interested in the latter. The former… she can’t imagine why Ben would want to spend his time with her like that when what he pays her for is having sex. “Different… how?”

He shrugs and signals for the next exit. “You said your friend Rose couldn’t get time off work to watch the game with you. And your team is playing right here in the city.”

Rey doesn’t even remember telling Ben any of it. “Right. But what does this have to do with—”

He takes a right, and—the stadium is gigantic and not exactly easy to miss, but it takes several moments for Rey to register where they are.  

Then she gasps. No—she screeches with happiness. Ben flinches, but he is also smiling.

 

 

She had a feeling that he’d be full of directives. A protocol, or maybe a checklist. Before First Order, Ben had been at Resistance with his parents, and a lot of the bureaucratic infrastructures he’d implemented were still in place by the time Rey had come around: precise, detailed, meticulous. Unforgiving. Rey had always pictured him as a man with vision.

Perhaps she was wrong. The truth is that, once she finds herself in his apartment, he seems almost comically lost. He asks her if she needs to use the restroom, if she wants something to drink, if the temperature is alright. He asks her if there’s anything she’d like to do (the ’before’ is implied), and Rey wonders if this is why he’d wanted to take her out for dinner: because he needs to work his way up to what she’s actually here for. Then Rey should have probably taken him up on it. 

She finds herself having to be the one to walk into him, to undo his tie, to slide his jacket off his broad shoulders while he holds himself rigid and fists his hands to his side. It makes Rey want to laugh, almost ask if he’s never done this (which is impossible, but wouldn’t it be amusing if Rey’s high school and college boyfriends amounted to more experience than Ben Solo’s, with his ridiculous muscles and beautiful lips and expensive suits?) 

It’s certainly clear that he’s never paid for sex before—even to someone like Rey, who’s never been paid for sex. In a way, his insecurity seems to help. To make the transactional nature of the situation less forbidden and more grounded in practicality. Ben needs something—sex—and doesn’t mind giving something else—money—in exchange. Rey needs the money, and sex has never been that big of a deal to her. Definitely not as big as food, or making rent. She really can go through with this, and she won’t even hate herself or him for it.

So she pulls back and takes off her shirt and jeans with a quick movement, feeling a frisson of something lick down her spine at the spellbound way he stares at her, a liquid warmth coiling taut at the bottom of her stomach.

“Where is your room?” she asks.

He swallows as he points to the hallway, and then immediately follows her. Rey can feel his eyes on her ass, and it’s not necessarily unpleasant. Maybe more like the opposite.

She is not surprised when he finds her damp, but he is. He gasps and flushes hot on his cheekbones, and the arm propping him above her trembles, his large bicep tensing even more, dark eyes losing their focus.

“God,” he mouths. He touches her again under her panties, blunt fingers tracing between her labia, and his grunts are getting her a little more than just damp, now. They kiss, deep and choppy and not fully coordinated, and it’s probably the most sensual thing that has ever happened to her. Go figure.

“Condom?” she breathes out, because he seems like he might lose control soon. Like he might need Rey to pace him. 

He nods, but he can’t quite put it on. Not because he doesn’t know what he’s doing but because his hands are shaking and he can’t tear his eyes from her. So Rey grabs the condom from his fingers and does a barely half-decent job of rolling it on his dick, which is about twice as large as the largest she’s ever seen before. She’d be worried, but she is about twice as wet as she’s ever been. Prostitution, apparently, becomes her. 

“I can’t believe you’re wet,” he murmurs, hot and humid on her cheek, and he aligns to her entrance and nudges inside. “Fuck, Rey. I can’t believe this.”

Rey can’t either. Or maybe she can. Thinking is hard, at the moment. “Wait.” She stops him with a hand on his abs, and he immediately pulls back to look down at her. “Do you want me to… Should I fake it?”

He frowns. “Fake what?”

“I—I’m not going to come. But if you want, I can—”

“Why?”

“Oh.” For the first time tonight, she feels herself flush. It’s such an intimate thing to admit. Weirdly, more intimate that flashing someone her boobs. “I just don’t. During sex, no matter what. I never do, but you’re—you’re paying for this, so you should get what you want, and I can—”

“I don’t want you to fake anything with me.” He is shaking his head, and she can feel his cock pulsate inside her, even through the condom. That’s how large he is. Unbelievable. “I can’t slow down now, but I’ll eat you out after this. It’s on my list, anyway.”

“… List?”

“The things I think about doing to you when I…” He stops himself, and inhales sharply when the head of his cock dips a little further. “The things I hope you’ll let me do.”

It actually makes her laugh, even if she has never been this full. And for some reason she can’t help reaching up and cupping his face. Ben Solo works for First Order and has made his parents cry; he is definitely not someone for whom she’d ever thought she could feel affection. In fact, she has always been very ready to despise him. But he seems so young and earnest now, here between her legs. “Ben, this is not how prostitution works. It’s supposed to be about you coming and—”

She stops talking because the air rushes out of her lungs. The very second his cock pushes as deep as Rey can hold him there is simply no more room for anything else inside of her, and the only thing she can do is clasp her arms around his shoulder and hold him as he thrusts clumsily, a little overeager; press him into herself as he bites her flesh and moans his pleasure against her throat. Once or twice he slips out of her and has to use his hand to push himself back in, and when he does he takes his time and rubs his head against her clit, making her shiver and moan. He is just so large—he touches her in so many different places, within and without, and Rey feels her abdomen tightening and her eyes rolling back.  

When Ben comes it’s for a long time, his hands shaking, carving bruises into her hips. Rey doesn’t come at all, but it’s as close as she’s ever gotten. He does lick her cunt afterwards, and the noises she makes as she digs her heels into his shoulder blades, they are not hers. They are unheard of. He seems to like them, though, judging from the way she has to press his head away after rolling down from her third orgasm.

Then he brings her some cut up fruit and a glass of water and orders her to eat; he tells her, a touch shyly, that if it’s okay he’d like to fuck her one more time before going to bed. Rey presses her lips together to avoid smiling, and nods before letting her legs fall open.

 

 

She is full of hot dogs and cheese nachos when they come back, and her abs hurt from laughing at the story Ben is telling her about an impromptu soccer match on the beach when he was in his early twenties. It’s late—much later than their usual bedtime, even considering that they don’t exactly sleep as soon as they get into bed.

“So you had no idea who they were?” Rey takes off her jeans and sweater.

“No. We just thought they were a bunch of college girls.”

Rey giggles. “And how did you find out?”

“That they were professional soccer players?” He gives her a scathing look when she starts laughing again. “Well, we got our first clue when they scored thirteen goals in the first seven minutes of the match.” He throws his clothes in the hamper and plops into bed. “That of course was after we had decided that the losing team would pay for drinks.”

“Oh, god.”

Ben pulls her into his body and shifts them to their sides. “It was only moderately humiliating.”

She laughs again. “Right.”

“Dignity’s overrated anyway.”

“Hmm. Of course.”

“And we did manage to score one goal. When their keeper got some sand in her eyes.”

“Did you throw sand in that poor girl’s eyes?”

“I think Poe did. I was too busy being megged by someone who was half my height and a third of my weight.”

“Amazing.” Rey sighs out her amusement. “Do you want to…?” She can feel his erection. And yet, just as tangible, she can feel his lack of interest in having sex with her at the moment. What he gets out of holding her into the curve of his body, as if trying to shield her from some kind of attack, she has no idea.

Though she has to admit that they’re nice, his breath tickling her nape and the weight of his arm on her ribs. Not being alone. Or: being with someone who’s just as alone as she is.

“Nah.” He twines his fingers with hers. “Go to sleep, Rey.”

 

 

When she pads barefoot in his kitchen the following morning, this time paying attention to her surroundings and to how nice the apartment is, Ben nods at her and pushes a plate of eggs, cheese, and a handful of vegetables in her direction. He is wearing one of his swanky suits, and Rey wonders if by waking up at seven thirty-three she made him late for work. 

She also wonders why on Earth he’d bother preparing food for her, but decides that he must have just screwed up the portions and made too much for himself.

“Thank you.” She takes a seat on one of the high stools while he pours her a mug of coffee and some apple juice. “This is nice. I never have real food for breakfast.”

He glances up and—God, he really is good looking. He should spend five minutes in a bar, he’d find all the free sex his heart desires. Hell, Rey would have free sex with him. It’s not as though last night was much of a hardship. “What do you usually have for breakfast?”

“Cereal. The square ones, with chocolate inside.”

He frowns but nods, as if storing the information.

“It wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be,” she says conversationally through a mouthful of eggs, her hand covering her lips. “Having sex in exchange for money.” After swallowing, she feels compelled to add: “With you.”

He doesn’t seem annoyed by her reminder that this is a service he’s buying. Despite how focused on her he was during the sex, or the fact that he made her eggs, he doesn’t appear to be interested in lying to himself: he knows that Rey wouldn’t be here without the money, and accepts it as the natural state of things. 

There is something that bothers her about this, but she can’t put her finger on it.

“Did it feel weird? Paying for sex?”

He finishes chewing on his bell pepper and shrugs. “I don’t think so, no.” He seems to ponder the issue as he sips on his coffee. “All things I’ve really wanted in life, I’ve had to pay for. One way or another.”

Something occurs to her. “Have you done this before? This… arrangement?”

He shakes his head, and Rey wonders what it says about the things he’s wanted before her.  

 

 

The day Rey comes while he’s inside her, Ben completely loses it. 

It’s in no way a special occasion—he feeds her pasta for dinner, sits next to her on the couch doing some (probably morally repugnant) work while she watches something through his HBO subscription, and only takes her to bed when she smiles at him and begins to drum her fingers on his knee. 

It's happening more and more, her initiating sex. Rey tells herself that it’s because she’d feel guilty not to. Because that’s what he’s paying her for. Because it’s—this is really the best job she’s ever had. The only job that doesn’t feel like a job. Ben is often docile as he follows her lead. And then, equally often, not quite so docile anymore.    

It’s not something different in what he does. He is just thrusting up inside her, her knees around his hips as he holds her down to his chest with his teeth in her shoulder, and—it always feels good when he moves in her. It’s always enjoyable and lovely and even pleasurable. But this time there is a heat to it, an odd fever that blooms in her belly and swells up her spine, licks down her limbs until her heart, her cunt, her arms clench as hard as they can around him. 

Rey whimpers, breathless.  

Ben groans and pulls back to look at her, lips full and pupils blown black. “Did you just come?” From anyone else it would sound like a poor attempt at dirty talk. Ben, though, Ben just seems astonished. 

Rey nods. She is—she thinks she might still be coming. There are aftershocks, and contractions, and delicious little shivers making her arch her spine, and—it’s not like the other ones he’s given her. It’s completely different, this orgasm. It starts deeper inside her and rolls slowly through her body and has her reaching for something to clench her nails into—which happens to be Ben’s sweaty back.

“Did you just come on my cock?” he repeats, his eyes going fuzzy.

“I did,” she manages between shudders.

“Fuck,” he says. “Oh, fuck.”

He flips them around until Rey is on her back. Usually, in this position he holds himself up to avoid pressing his weight into her, but now he seems unable to. He shoves her legs open with his palms and thrusts even deeper, holding himself at the mouth of her cervix, and somehow it’s exactly what she needs. Rey arches up and closes her eyes and everything recedes.

“You are still coming.” His voice is raspy. Wonderstruck. “From me fucking you.”

Rey can barely gasp a yes.

“Do you like it? My cock in your cunt?” It’s Ben, which means that this is not a rhetorical question. It’s just him, needing to be told. And Rey—she really doesn’t mind, nodding the truth.

He shudders. He makes beastly noises. “Good.” He can’t quite hold still for her anymore. He begins to thrust, shallow and clumsy, a little battering but perfect. “Good, because I like it so much, Rey. I like fucking you so much. I think about your little wet cunt all the time.” When he comes, he bites her collarbone so hard that he almost draws blood.

Rey wakes up on her side in the middle of the night, with him still inside her, still hard, still asleep. He looks—not younger, in sleep, but less somber. Like he could be happy, maybe. Less full of shadows. Without thinking she leans forward for a kiss, and he immediately wakes. 

They stay there for—forever. Hours. Just kissing, with lips and tongues and mouths. Ben pulsating quietly inside her, and Rey growing wetter and wetter. Both trembling from the tension and the pleasure. She laughs at some point, when he sucks a hickey in the skin of her throat, and he laughs too. She sighs his name, and he tells her that she is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen, that he will never let go of her, that he wishes she were his own.

Then she shifts her hips just so, and they come at the same time, moaning the avalanche of pleasure in each others’ mouths. 

   

 

“Do you want to…” Rey’s hand clutches the handle on the passenger door in Ben’s car. She pulls it until she hears the click, and then opens it just a couple of inches, breathing in the cool morning air of her neighborhood. “Was last night what you expected? What you wanted?”

His Adam’s apple bobs. He studies the steering wheel for a moment before nodding. 

“Okay.” If there is something Rey has historically been good at, it’s work. It’s nice to know that it’s still true. “Feel free to call me. If you want to do it again.” She smiles before getting out of the car. “You were right, by the way. Much better working for you than for my asshole manager.”

He doesn’t wave goodbye to her. But five minutes later, when she opens her bedroom window to water her plantain lilies, Ben’s car is still parked in the same spot.

 

 

<Don’t come tonight.>

 

Rey stares at her phone for way too long, considering that the text is exactly three words, and three very common ones at that. There are two slightly-off things about it: that Ben is asking her not to come over for the first night in forever, and that he’s doing it via text. He has only ever phoned her, so far. Their text history is just blue bubbles—mostly Rey asking him to buzz her in when his doorman is absent, or telling him that she’ll be a few minutes late.

She calls immediately.

“Hey. What’s wrong?” Her heart is beating a little faster than it should.

“Nothing.” His voice is nasal. Gravely. Even lower than usual.

“Ben. Are you sick?”

“No. Just a little.” He sounds croaky, like he’s about to pass out. 

“God, Ben. Do you need anything? Soup? Orange juice?” 

“A swift and merciful death.”

Rey exhales a laugh. “I can help with that. I’d love to expand my service portfolio.”

“I bet you’d be great at euthanasia.”

“I can be there in—”

“Nah, don’t come over.” He clears his throat. “It’s some virus. You’d get it too.”

“I never get sick.”

“Still—” He coughs. “It’d be better if you didn’t—” More noise, this time distant, as if he is trying to hide it from Rey by muting his phone with his hand. A few seconds and several sneezes later he comes back on the line. “I gotta go. But don’t worry. It sounds worse than it feels.”

“Right.”

“I’ll see you.“

“Tomorrow?”

“… maybe in a couple of days?”

“Hmm. Okay,” she says, hanging up on him and immediately putting on her denim jacket and grabbing her house keys. She stops briefly at the bodega on her block, and when her Lyft drops her off in front of Ben’s apartment the doorman (a very sweet elderly man who is clearly convinced that she is Ben’s girlfriend and, to her constant unease, keeps asking her when she’ll finally move in) lets her up without even announcing her. 

Ben comes to the door wearing a white tee over low-slung sweats, and looking like death personified.

“Rey.” It’s just a word, but somehow his tone says it all: I am surprised to see you here because I explicitly told you not to come, but I am also too miserable and exhausted to make a big deal out of this. Or really, a deal of any size. “I’m probably very contagious, so you should—”

“I told you.” She brushes past him and heads to the kitchen. “I never get sick.”

She makes him sit at the kitchen island, where he fed her breakfast after their first night together, and smiles at his chapped lips and flushed cheekbones while he stares distrustfully at the glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice she thrusts in his hand. Then she takes out the flour, the chicken, carrots and celery, and loses herself in the soothing rhythm of chopping, kneading, whisking.

Ben’s voice almost startles her. “I didn’t know you could cook.” His eyes are glassy with fever, but he is following her every movement, just as avidly as he stared at the clumsy striptease she improvised for him last week. 

“I work at Subway. I am literally a cook.” His raised eyebrow has her chuckling. “Maybe not literally.” The eyebrow lifts higher. “Or not at all,” she concedes. “But I can make chicken and dumplings. Growing up I would always crave it, when I felt poorly.”

“I thought you never got sick?”

“As an adult.” She flashes him a grin. “It’s a newly acquired superpower.” 

He frowns. “If you do get sick, I want you to come to me immediately. At the first symptom. So I can take you to the doctor and get you medicines and look after you and—”

“Ben.” She pours more juice in his empty glass and pats his hand. “Shh.”

He doesn’t compliment her cooking, but he grunts in pleasure at the first bite of dumplings—a familiar sound that Rey recognizes very well—and asks for three helpings, which, when it comes to Ben Solo and food, is nothing but a glowing endorsement. When he’s finished the last spoonful he just sits there, clearly still feverish but a little less flushed.

“You didn’t have to come over. Or cook,” he tells her, as if she didn’t know that already.

“Oh, I loved this. I never get to cook for anyone but me, which is a shame. I used to dream of opening a restaurant.”

“Really?”

“Hmm. Just for a brief phase. Then Engineering won.”

“You would have been a great chef.” 

“Really?” She tilts her head, a little flirtatious. “Am I as good at dumplings as I am at sex?”

“Almost.” He smiles around the rim of his glass. “Not quite.” 

“Hmm. Sounds like I should stick with the sex then, career-wise.” Ben stiffens, and his knuckles go white. “It was a joke.”

“It’s okay.” He shrugs, but between the fever and the topic, it comes out less nonchalant than he means it to be. “It doesn’t matter.” 

Except that it does. It matters to him, and for some reason it matters to her, too.

“This thing… I don’t think I could do this with anyone else,” she says. And even though it had never occurred to her before, even though she has never formulated the thought in her head, she instantly knows it to be true. “Maybe before… but now…” She frowns. It is true, but she is still not sure why. “You are the one who should change careers, anyway.”

“Me?”

“First Order is the worst.” 

Rey busies herself moving the plates to the sink and rinsing them, not particularly eager to see his annoyed face, or to listen to him defending Snoke. But instead he surprises her by saying, “I know,” and she can’t help looking up at him.

“You know?”

He shrugs.

“Why are you still there, then? You’re so good at what you do. You could be anywhere else.”

He holds her eyes for a long moment. “Could I?”

Oddly, it doesn’t feel like a rhetorical question. Ben sounds genuinely surprised by the possibility that he could be more than what he currently is. When he seems to fall deep in thoughts after she nods and smiles reassuringly, Rey just leaves him be and begins to put bowls and pots inside the dishwasher. 

“Are you going back to your place?” he asks a few minutes later, when the counter is spotless again.

Rey thinks of her apartment, cold and miserable. Even though it’s not quite true: it’s not miserable at all, full of her beloved knickknacks and second-hand furniture and bright, mismatched colors. Ben’s place might be technically nicer, in that I-obviously-paid-someone-what-some-people-make-in-a-year-to-have-it-decorated way, but Rey has never been crazy about black and grey palettes. Plus, her apartment is not cold. It’s not even cold outside, since it’s late spring.

“Do you mind if I crash here?”

“Not at all. I think the cleaner keeps the guest room in decent conditions, so you can—”

Rey rolls her eyes and grabs his hand, tugging him towards his bedroom like she’s herding a five year old who happens to be six-three and weigh two hundred pounds. Logic dictates that it should probably occur to her that he offered a bed that is not his own because he’d rather sleep off his flu alone, but she knows very well, deep in a place that has recently begun to hold a tentative kind of warmth, that he would always rather be with her than… not.

“You’ll get sick,” he whines again in his bedroom, petulant like only adult sick men can be. Rey just strips down to her t-shirt and panties and turns off the light, not at all surprised when he pulls her into himself until her back is flush to his chest, when his nose begins to inhale the smell of her hair. It’s their position, after all. How Rey sleeps best, and Ben, too. Except that today he is glowing. Positively burning up.  

And Rey, she is burning up too. There is a terrible knot of heat lodged in her chest.

“Ben?”

“Hmm.” He is almost asleep. Drained by his fever.

“Could you not pay me for being here tonight? Please?”

She has no idea where her tears are coming from. She has no idea why she can’t stop them, but they continue soaking his pillow.

“Rey,” he just says. Pulling her even closer at the same time.

A few minutes later, when his breathing evens out, Rey is still crying.

 

 

His voice on the phone has a reluctant tinge when he asks her if she is available that night. Hesitant and wary, like Rey would picture a teenage boy asking his crush out for a school dance. She hangs up the phone after making plans for eight p.m., and three hours later, while putting together her fourth tuna melt in a row, she catches herself thinking about the fact that Ben Solo’s gruffness can be charming and maybe also endearing, after all. She has to forcibly remind herself that this is the same Ben Solo who helped Snoke tear apart his parents' company for no reason whatsoever.

He may not be into weird, kinky stuff, but he is into something. Rey can’t quite put her finger on it, but the thought begins to take shape on that second night: that there might be something about him. About this. It’s in how he lays her face down on his bed, between sheets that smell like him and laundry detergent; in the time he takes to nibble his way down her spine, to spread her ass open, to lick her until she is loose and squirming; it’s in the violent ways he murmurs her name against her neck as he empties his orgasm inside her, in the frustrated grunt he lets out when he realizes that she hasn’t come yet, in the sheepish, self-deprecating smile he gives her as he brings her off with his fingers around her clit. The bright pleasure makes her vision blur and go white, her hands clutched tightly into the soft pillow. It’s something layered and tentative and intense, and the following morning, when she wakes up to the smell of coffee and cinnamon and French toast, Rey puts on her jeans and resolves not to think about it too much.

 

 

She doesn’t go to his place thinking she’ll burst into tears the second he opens the door, but she does it nonetheless; when his eyes widen in panic and he picks her up to carry her to the chair by the window, like she is his personal princess bride, she can’t help giggling wetly at the absurdity of the situation.

“What’s wrong?” He sits with her in his lap, angling her so that his forehead is pressing against hers. There are creases of worry on his face, bracketing his eyes. 

“Nothing.” She has to laugh at herself. She is so ridiculous. A child, really. “Just Plutt. My manager. He’s such a tosser.”

“A tosser?”

“He is—he’s horrible. He fired someone for no good reason today, he’s going to deduct something from my and Simon’s pay, and he’s been pocketing our tips, not that we make much on them anyway, but—he’s so rude and mean all the time, he...” She lets out a frustrated groan and then—then she is crying again, her cheeks sticky and wet and splotchy again.

“Rey. Sweetheart.”

“I hate him. He—he abuses his power. I wish I could report him or… or—”

His hand slides up to her nape, cupping it tight. “Let me take care of this.”

“What? No.” She wipes her cheek with the back of her hand. “No, I just—I just needed to vent—”

He holds her eyes, something pained and stubborn and pleading mixed to the dark brown. “I will pay you anything you want, if you let me take care of this for you.”

A laugh bubbles out of her, because it’s such a... such… such a Ben Solo thing to say. Really, Ben Solo in a sentence. In more or less ten words. Ben Solo in a look, reserved and beseeching and focused on her.

I will pay you anything you want.

Rey pulls back a little, and his hand immediately drops from her neck to her lower back, as if to give her the space she asked for while still supporting her, perched as she is on his lap. She wipes her cheeks again, this time with the hem of her shirt, and then takes a deep breath.

“Can I ask you a question?”

He is still worried, but a little less. Just a shallow vertical line between his brows as he looks at her, waiting patiently.

“Why did you not just… ask me out? On a date?”

He scans her face, confused. Not making a connection, any connection. Her Ben, so smart and yet so… not. “What do you mean?”

“Months ago, when you gave me your business card. Did it ever occur to you, that I might have been interested in being with you without your money as incentive?”

“Ah.” His eyes clear. And then he shakes his head, untroubled. “No.” It’s clear that the thought still hasn’t occurred to him.

Rey tilts her head, her cheeks still warm with drying tears, and wonders if maybe he’s not wrong. Maybe she had been less than charitable towards him, at the time. She wonders what it would feel like to him, a big, sweeping, dramatic gesture—maybe a declaration, or returning all the money he has given her for sex that she would have… well.

She won’t, anyway. Because she needs the money, and it’s First Order money, anyway, and Ben has so much of it, it means next to nothing to him. 

Still.

“Okay. Well. That—that’s what we have done. But I think it’s enough, now.” She pushes a strand of hair from his forehead. “Would you agree?”

“I… What?”

“It’s enough, Ben.”

“Are you…” He frowns. She can feel his heart beating hard in his chest. “Do you want to stop? Our arrangement?”

She rolls her eyes. He really is a bit slow. “I’m not saying I won’t ask you for more money.” She shrugs. “I might need a loan to finish grad school.”

“Rey—”

“It’s okay.” She cups his cheek and smiles, feeling lighter. It was time, really. For some honesty. “It can just be you, now.”

She waits until she sees the understanding dawn in his eyes. Then she leans forward, and his lips tremble under hers, ever so slightly.