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The Ethical Dilemma (or Angst University)

Chapter Text

Rey squinted down at her phone screen with a groan.

7:05 AM

The light was way too bright, blinding even, but it had nothing on the light filtering through the windows of her dorm room.

She stretched her body out on the new, tiny, uncomfortable bed and sighed. Today was the first day of her senior year of university. She’d (somehow) secured a visa to study and eventually work in the United States two years prior, starting in her sophomore year.

As much as she hated student accommodation, she hated the responsibilities that came with apartments more. Too much stress. She just wanted to pay a lump sum in the beginning of the year and have a secure place to live for the rest of it. She didn’t care that she had to share a bathroom—she’d done much, much worse during her freshman year in Leeds, jumping from hostel to hostel despite sleeping in the library most nights. The idea of having a secure place to live for a year made her cry tears of joy the first time, but it was old hat now, being slowly but surely replaced by the fear of what she’d do after she graduated.

If she graduated. She had such a horrible hangover. Americans called this “syllabus day,” but her university had a policy that dropped students from classes if they didn’t scan in on the first day. They also had an unspoken policy of getting seniors completely and utterly blasted on the day before class started. A cruel joke, for sure.

She finally pressed her feet against the carpet. It was berber, or something like that, but it felt so plush and warm under her feet that she didn’t mind the strange texture. It was certainly a good enough distraction from the utter pounding in her head. Why had she signed up for a morning class, again?

She cursed herself as she walked towards her shared bathroom. It wouldn’t be long before her roommate scurried in there, no doubt trying to establish morning dominance. Rey couldn’t let that happen.

After her shower, she took a good, long look at herself in the mirror. The very sight made her frown. Her face was flushed, her hair looked scraggly and limp from the humidity, and her eyes—wow. She looked every bit as hungover as she felt.

Rey always liked to have a solid fifteen minutes before class to check her emails, Snapchat, and especially her GWFC account. Today, she only had time for one.

Welcome, kirakiralucky! You have 3 unread messages.

Hmm.

She clicked on her inbox and fought the grin on her cheeks.

Kylo_Ren
As much as I love talking to you on here, work’s gonna start picking up again soon.

Kylo_Ren
So here’s my number. I PROMISE I’M NOT A CREEP I just really need to continue to school you on why you’re wrong about the dark side :)

Kylo_Ren
555-800-8135

Rey was blushing. Hard. Too hard to avoid dropping her cereal bowl on the couch. It was almost empty, but there was just enough milk on the couch to necessitate immediate cleanup. She clamored to shove her phone in her back pocket and grab a rag from the kitchen. She’d have to text Kylo later. That would give her time to come up with something snarky to say, anyway.

Today’s gonna be a long day.

——

Ben Solo’s morning was going in a similarly disastrous direction. His tie had dipped into his oatmeal, and he didn’t realize it until he was on the bus. The bottom was crusty and wrinkled and decidedly not what he wanted his students to see on the first day. He had a reputation for being a bit of a hardass. Or a lot of a hardass, he didn’t really care to make the distinction. He was strict and professional and refused to let foolish undergraduates get under his skin.

Some students already had promise; they could be trusted to hold a professional job someday. Others didn’t share that promise. He believed it to be his duty to beat it into them within a single semester-long Ethics course.

The tie debacle wasn’t nearly as unsettling as the fact that he’d given his phone number to a woman that morning. He had no idea who she was, what she looked like, or where she lived, but they both loved Galaxy Wars, and that was more than he had in common with any other woman on Earth. His phone was burning a horrible hole in his pocket. He wondered if she’d just ignore the message when he felt a buzz and his heart threatened to stop beating, right there.

He pulled it out of his pocket and scoffed.

Hux, Armitage
WYA??? Holdo’s pissed

He wasn’t going to merit that with a response. He was more than on time; he wasn’t going to make it a habit to get to work fifteen minutes earlier to appease a woman with a power complex the size of the Milky Way.

After getting chewed out for his “tardiness” and appearance, and promptly realizing that he was actually just an online creep giving his number to women that clearly weren’t interested, he was in a fairly horrible mood. Too horrible to be nice to a bunch of freshmen and a handful of upperclassmen taking his course for an ‘easy’ elective. If he was a younger, he would have punched the fucking wall. But he’d been working on his mood. He didn’t want to fuck things up on the first day.

Today’s gonna be a long day, he thought, huffing while he projected the syllabus. When he finally got to the section about his tardy and absence policy, he noticed a young woman trying to slip into the back unnoticed. She had her hair in a messy bun, was in sweatpants, and had the tell-tale flush of a deeply hungover student. All the markings of a perfect victim for his first in-class outburst.

“MISS!” He called. She shot up to attention fairly quickly. “What is your name?”

“Uhh…” Rey’s heart was pounding. She couldn’t believe she was getting called out like this on the first day. She was barely ten minutes late, what was this guy’s issue? “Reychel, sir.”

He raised an eyebrow. He was scowling so hard she swore she might burst into flames if he kept looking at her. He didn't say anything. Did he want her last name too? What was he going to do, write her up?

“Fisher, sir. Reychel Fisher.”

He seemed a bit taken aback, most likely because of the accent.

“Miss Fisher,” he hissed, tapping his finger against the very clear “TARDIES AND ABSENCES POLICY” on the projected syllabus. “Can you read this for the class, please?”

“Yes, I—Yes, sir, I’m sorry, sir,” she gulped. “Two tardies are equal to one unexcused absence. Four unexcused absences will result in immediate withdrawal from the course.

“So, tell me. How many more tardies can you afford before you get kicked out?”

Rey wanted to flip her desk over. Why was he calling her out like this? Fuck, it was the first and least important day of the semester. She felt her cheeks growing bright red with embarrassment. Everyone was staring at her. Her eyes narrowed. She was going to kill this man. Murder him.

It didn’t help that he was so intimidatingly large. His hair was wavy and jet-black, and his facial structure was severe in a way that worked seamlessly. If it wasn’t for this exchange, he might have been drool worthy.

But personality mattered much more than ridiculously enticing looks. And this guy’s personality straight up fucking sucked.

“Seven, Professor Solo.”

“I’m shocked that you’re so good at math. Your time management skills clearly leave something to be desired.”

Ben didn’t feel bad. It was necessary, he thought, to beat some semblance of respect and responsibility into these kids.

Rey slumped down in her seat. She suddenly understood why this was an 8am class—only someone with an absolute power-trip complex would be so cruel as to force students out before noon. She watched him as he continued to explain the syllabus, getting into course readings now, and realized that it looked like he had dried cum on the bottom of his tie. That was her only solace for the rest of the class.

---

The rest of Rey’s day was pleasantly nondescript. She was done with all of her classes by noon on Wednesdays, which made things pleasant enough. When she finally curled up with a big bowl of ramen, she found the courage to send a text to Kylo.

From: Rey
Hey Kylo. It’s Kira from GWFC. Sorry it took so long to get to you. Had a rough morning. :(

She scooped a forkful of noodles into her mouth, and was pleasantly surprised that her phone was buzzing almost immediately after pressing send.

From: Kylooo
Hi Kira. :) I had a rough morning too. Got yelled at and dipped my tie in my oatmeal.

From: Rey
Sounds about right lol. One of my professors is just a major dick, no food related troubles for me today

From: Rey
No wait. I spilled cereal on my couch this morning.

From: Kylooo
Damn. Sounds like breakfast foods have it out for us.

From: Rey
You’re telling me lol

From: Kylooo
Couldn’t help but notice you said professor. How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?

Rey’s face flushed. Kylo could have been a super old man or a sixteen year old boy, she realized. She had no real context for his age. They’d only been lightly flirting for a few weeks, despite yelling at each other on the forums a few times over the last year.

From: Rey
I’m 22. Graduating in May. You?

From: Kylooo
Omg you’re a baby lmao I’m 33. Now I really do feel like a creep

She didn’t realize she’d been holding her breath until he texted back. 33 was fine, she could handle that.

From: Rey
I will destroy you. :-)

From: Kylooo
Don’t threaten me with a good time.

From: Rey
You ever do phone calls? I just realized there’s a lot we don’t know about each other. I could be a serial killer for all you know.

From: Kylooo
Didn’t I just say not to threaten me with a good time?

From: Kylooo
But yes, I have been known to talk on the phone on occasion. Call you tonight?

From: Rey
Okay. :)

Rey pressed her phone against her chest. Her heart was absolutely pounding, and she had no idea why. How could some possible weirdo from the internet have an affect on her?

Probably because he liked Galaxy Wars and had a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the Extended Universe. He was a man of good taste, after all.

Maybe today wasn’t going to be so bad.

It was seven before Ben worked up the nerve to call Kira. She didn’t answer immediately—of course not—and that made his heart do somersaults. He felt so foolish for caring about her at all, but she had such a quick sense of humor and was into the same dorky shit as him. It was a recipe for disaster from the first time they’d gotten into it on GWFC.

“Hello?” He heard a voice ask. He couldn’t tell if she was British or not—she sounded British, but she’d only said one thing so far and he couldn’t work up the courage to say anything else because her voice was so beautiful and it nearly broke him in half and—

“Kylo? Can you hear me?”

Yes, definitely British. He cleared his throat. “Yeah, yeah. Sorry, had you on mute.”

“Oh. I heard breathing.” Her tone was playful, but also accusatory. She sounded like she could read him, make out every line on his face just from his voice. It scared him.

So he doubled down despite wanting to drop the subject completely. “Huh. Must have been you.”

“Hmm. I’ll give it to you this time, Kylo Ren.”

“I appreciate it, Kira.”

She was giggling. He didn’t know why. It made his face turn pink, he could feel the heat in his cheeks. Why the fuck was he crushing on her, just from her voice, like a teenager? And she was only 22. Some of his students were only 22. Fuck, it was such a recipe for disaster, and she probably thought he was such a creep.

“My name isn’t really Kira. It’s Rey. Is your name actually Kylo?”

Ben cleared his throat for what felt like the millionth time in sixty seconds. “I mean… it’s what I’d prefer to be called. I have a boring name.”

“Okay, okay. Keep your secrets.”

She was giggling again. Fuck, he didn’t know why that little laugh undid him so much. He had to get her to talk or he’d embarrass himself.

“Will do. Can you tell me about your horrible day now?”

“Mm,” he heard some shuffling from her side. She sounded like she was getting comfortable. Was she laying down? He wanted to lay down beside her so bad. Oh, fuck. “Well, a professor yelled at me for being late. But he’s a dick, everyone knows that. The rest of my courses seem okay. I’m really just focused on graduating.”

Ben wanted to throw himself off the balcony. He, himself, had just yelled at someone for being late. The guilt was overwhelming now. He wondered how the girl—Raina, was it? Or Reychel?—might feel, how she must be telling her own friends about him.

“Oh. I know all about that,” he laughed, but his laugh wasn’t as charming and he knew that. His voice was deep and scary, not small and charming. It made him feel more self conscious. “I’m actually a professor myself.”

“No. Shit. Are you serious? Are you a dick, too?”

He could hear the smile in her voice. It made him smile, too. “I mean, yeah. Someone’s gotta keep you undergraduates in line.”

“Nooo way. That’s some dark side shit, Kylo,” the fucking giggling again. And the way she said his alias, like it was sweet as sugar on her tongue… “The way you put me in my place on GWFC… I don’t doubt you’d call me out in front of the class, too. Shame on you.”

His breath hitched imagining this faceless, bodiless voice in his stupid Ethics class. He had to change the subject immediately.

“So… nothing better to do than talk to a man from the internet tonight?”

“Is this not what normal girls do?” He could hear that smile again. She had to know how interested he was, he’d been throwing himself at her mercilessly since he’d noticed her female avatar on the forums. Like a creep.

“I couldn’t tell ya. This is definitely not what normal men do with their Wednesday nights.”

“Mm, Professor Ren. Shouldn’t you be getting ready for class tomorrow?” She was teasing him. Fuck. He was hard and he didn’t know when it happened or why. All he knew was that this brilliant woman with a beautiful voice was fucking teasing him when she should have been… doing homework? Oh God. The thought made him even harder.

“I…don’t teach on Thursdays,” he huffed. He had to get off the phone. He’d call her again when he’d sorted his horrible, perverted mind out. “But I do need to prep for Friday. It’s the first real day.”

“Can you call me again tomorrow night? This is fun. Less impersonal than texting.” He could hear her pouting. It made his cock twitch. Oh God, what a creep, what an absolute creep.

“Y-yes, Rey. I’ll call you tomorrow.” I would stay on the phone but if I don’t touch myself right now I’m going to punch something. “And probably text you before that, if that’s okay?”

“Sounds good, Professor Ren.”

Another twitch. Holy fuck. He had to go.

“Goodnight, Rey. Hope tomorrow is better for you.”

He clicked the phone off before she could possibly respond and stomped straight into his bedroom.

This was gonna be a long night.

Chapter Text

Talking to Kylo on the phone had become a nightly occurrence since last Wednesday. The conversations were always short, but she assumed that was because he was a busy professor man. He always called around seven, always told her goodnight by 7:15, and wouldn’t respond to text messages after that. He was weird. A weird, very welcome source of distraction from her mounting studies.

She often wondered what she was to him. He made her heart race, and sometimes, if their texts took a particularly flirtatious turn, he could even make her blush. But it never lasted long, and it always left her feeling high, dry, and confused.

“Do you want to know what I look like?” Rey asked, tentatively. She’d learned a few things about him over the last week, learned what to avoid to keep him from cutting the conversation short. Never, ever call him Professor Ren, for one, and don’t bring up doing homework. Maybe he just felt weird about the fact that she was a student. But she wasn’t his student, so what was the problem in teasing?

He didn’t respond for a minute. She could feel him thinking. “Unless you’re worried it will ruin the mystery. In which case, I’m perfectly fine speaking to a disembodied voice,” Rey corrected herself. “Never mind. Forget I said anything. How was your day?”

“I mean,” He cleared his throat. “I really am worried about ruining the mystery. What if your beard is nicer than mine? I’d feel so emasculated.”

Rey’s eyebrows furrowed. Kylo was a strange guy. “Are you intimidated by a little 5 o’clock shadow, Kylo?”

He chuckled. He was relaxing again, and Rey silently cursed herself for putting pressure on their already tense phone calls.

“No way. Let me see the beard first, and then I’ll let you know if I’m interested in the rest of it.”

Rey murmured something like “mmhmm” and pulled the phone away from her face. She snapped a picture of herself from the nose down, smiling wide. And because she couldn’t help herself, she let the picture capture her décolletage and cleavage, too. Maybe if Kylo knew she was an attractive, normal woman, he’d stop being so apprehensive about hitting on her. It was really starting to affect her ego.

“Any year now.” Kylo grumbled. He sounded impatient. She liked that.

“No way I’m sending this to you while you’re on the phone! Too self-conscious.” Rey was giggling, but there was a hint of truth to her words. “If you gagged I’d probably die.”

“Very well, then. Goodnight, Rey. Hope tomorrow is a good day.”

“Wait!”

The line clicked and she stuck her tongue out at her phone. He was such a brat sometimes, but she figured he was just eager to know who exactly he’d been talking to over the last week. She scanned her eyes over the picture again, frowning. She thought her big, brown eyes and hairline were her best features, and they were in no way present in this image.

But this is what he joked about wanting. She couldn’t help but be a smartass when it came to him.

From: Rey
[IMG_7654]

From: Rey
See? Nothing to be scared of. :)

He didn’t respond immediately. Her heart was pounding, but much more nervously than usual. Did she take it too far with the cleavage?

She hid her phone under her pillow and promptly hid her face on top of it. She didn’t move until she felt her phone buzz, and even then, it took a minute for her to actually work up the nerve to open his message.

From: Kylooo
jesus christ Rey

From: Kylooo
i am convinced you’re trying to kill me

Rey frowned.

From: Rey
I have no idea how I’m supposed to take that lol :/

From: Kylooo
take it as a compliment. you’re absolutely stunning

From: Kylooo
i’ve never wanted to kiss someone’s nose, but yours is so cute

Rey threw her phone to the bottom of her bed and giggled. She couldn’t avoid the butterflies in her stomach, she didn’t even have a point of reference for how she felt now. Giddy? Probably.

From: Rey
Now you’re trying to kill me

From: Rey
I need to see your beard too. For science

From: Kylooo
[IMG_0034]

From: Kylooo
of course. fair is fair

Rey couldn’t believe what she was seeing. He had big, plush, red lips, a slightly crooked smile, a very well defined chin, and wow… muscles. He was ripped, at least in the shoulders. People didn’t just have ripped shoulders, though. He had to be muscular all over. She wanted to hide her phone again, but she knew Kylo would take it the wrong way if she took a while to respond.

Besides, she was turned on now. And Kylo was the closest thing she had to release for that feeling—and the cause of it, come to think of it.

From: Rey
i’ve never wanted to kiss someone’s mouth this bad

From: Kylooo
need to kiss your neck

From: Kylooo
need to kiss you everywhere

Rey blinked at her phone. Jesus Christ. She could tell he was one-handed typing, probably had been for a while. She felt a pang of…something twitch through her abdomen, right down to the spot between her legs. Fucking Kylo Ren.

From: Rey
come do it then

From: Rey
how far are you from albany? ny

An hour had already passed since his last message. Rey had grown impatient and taken care of herself, already curling into her pillow and pulling up a stupid Netflix documentary about crustaceans to help her deal with the blow. He probably wasn’t interested in meeting at all.

Something about the narrator’s voice and the rhythmic mating dances of the crustaceans on her screen had her in the phase between waking and sleep. She finally decided to give into the latter instead of waiting for a response that surely wouldn’t come.

Ben Solo was ashamed of himself.

Honestly, he shouldn’t be talking to this girl at all, much less jerking off to a picture of her lips for the third time in twelve hours. She was too young. Too funny, too pretty, too perfect for a monstrous creep like him.

He held his phone in one hand and his dick in the other. At this rate, he’d really be late for work, but he didn’t care.

Fifteen minutes later, he was washing his hands and gathering his things. He’d have to really make a run for it to get to the bus, but in his post-self-coital bliss, he still just couldn’t care.

She lived in Albany. So did he. Which meant this could be real, so this was even scarier. He had no idea what sorts of rules his university had against him dating college-aged students from other schools.

From: Ben Solo
Sorry, I fell asleep last night. I live near Albany.

It was the truth, right? Near, in. Just synonyms in this instance.

From: Ben Solo
Also sorry about last night, especially if I made you uncomfortable. I don’t do things like that, not sure what came over me.

Well, he did do things like that. Quite often. Especially since they’d met. But he never actually said horny things like “need to kiss you everywhere.” Another half-truth, which she could handle. He firmly believed that half-truths were better than full-truths that might hurt someone (or, more importantly, make him look bad.)

From: Rey
It’s ok

Ben rested his head back against the window. He could tell she was upset.

From: Rey
We’ll talk about it tonight.

Great. Even worse. His heart was pounding against his chest so hard he was sure the students beside him could hear it.

Ben was in a horrible mood when he finally got to class. He wasn’t late, but he wasn’t there fifteen minutes prior to the start time, which would mean he’d actually have to stay for the entirety of his office hours. And Rey was doubtlessly mad at him, he’d probably fucked that up too. He shook the thought out of his head and pulled up his notes for the day’s lecture.

He wasn’t even three minutes in before he heard the tell-tale sound of the door creaking open. There was Miss Fincher… Fisher? No, definitely Fincher. All of the students bled together after the first week. She was trying to sneak in, like the system wouldn’t be able to detect that she’d scanned in late.

“Miss Fincher!” He called over the auditorium. He couldn’t really see her; the room wasn’t enormous like other lecture halls, but it held at least fifty students, and she was at the back. He couldn’t really make out her details, but she looked pretty. That almost made it better for him. Sweatpants, again. She really didn’t take his class seriously.

“It’s Fisher!” She called back, just as irate as she settled into her seat. “If you’re going to yell at me every day, you might as well remember my name!”

There were snickers throughout the room. No, this would not do.

“See. Me. After. Class,” he hissed, and the lighthearted chuckles stopped. He turned on his heel and got lost in his lesson again, but the twinge of anger was still lingering.

“We’re a week and a half into the semester, and you only have FIVE tardies left,” Ben’s eyes were narrowed on Miss Fisher, whose arms were folded across her chest in clear defiance. That just made him more upset. “I am not kidding, I’ll have you out on your ass if you don’t start taking this class more seriously. I don’t care if you’re on scholarship.”

When she was this close, he could make out the lines on her face and the way her hair was so soft and delicate. She was really beautiful, in a striking sort of way. Her eyes were brown but still dripping with color, on the border between hazel and chestnut, and her gaze was absolutely piercing. He was glad she liked to sit in the back. There was no way he could look at her all day and keep his cool. Which was strange enough—he never felt any type of way towards his students, much less attraction.

“That policy is stupid. We have lives, too.” She frowned. He could have sworn he’d heard her voice somewhere before, the accent was familiar enough.

“Yes. Despite my personal life, I am here on time every day, because it’s my job. Being a student is your job.”

The girl was sighing. “Yes, sir, Professor Solo.”

“My title is Doctor Solo, Miss Fisher. I worked hard for it. Please use the correct designation.”

Something flashed in those mesmerizing eyes. He wanted to cough or clear his throat, he felt so uncomfortable. He was no longer the formidable professor yelling at her for being tardy—no, he was just a nervous man now.

“How many times can I fuck it up before you have me kicked out of your class?” She smirked.

He thought briefly about kissing that stupid smirk off of her face, pulling her so close to him that she couldn’t help but be intimidated, if by nothing else than his sheer size advantage. He didn’t know where the thought came from, but certain parts of him enjoyed it a little too much, and he had to face away from her.

“Once. Now go, and I expect to see you on time come Monday.”

The girl nodded. He noticed her pulling out her phone, no doubt texting all of her stupid college friends about her big, mean professor. Great. He had a reputation to uphold.

He felt his phone vibrating in his pocket, and he scanned the room before he opened it.

From: Rey
My prof is such a dick. You’re a dick prof so you get it. Why does he hate me so much?

From: Ben Solo
He probably just wants to fuck you. Lol. Especially if you wear that little white tank top to class…

He cringed at himself, but God was he horny now. Between Rey and Miss Fisher, he had no idea how he was going to survive the semester.

From: Rey
I’d wear it to your class just to tease you every day

Okay. Fuck. Okay, this was happening.

From: Ben Solo
No way. I’m too professional. ;)

From: Rey
I have my ways

From: Ben Solo
I’m sure you do. I wouldn’t last a whole semester knowing I could have those lips if I wanted them

He shoved his phone back in his pocket and took in a deep breath, desperately attempting to calm himself before his next class started. Well, Rey wasn’t mad at him. Seemed like she wanted the same thing as he did.

Why did that make his anxiety skyrocket?

Chapter Text

Rey had to ignore Kylo completely over the weekend, focusing her attention on long-avoided introductory papers and assignments instead. The school year was ramping up, and she’d be damned if she lost her scholarship with two semesters to go.

Not that he’d seemed to mind too much. He had a lot of grading to do, apparently, and even lauded her for her responsibility when she told him she couldn’t talk on the phone again until later in the week.

Sunday night was a blur of caffeine and furious typing. Dr. Solo and Dr. Holdo both wanted a five-pager emailed in before the start of class on Monday, and she’d somehow justified putting them both off until the end of her weekend workload. It was four a.m. before she finally hit send on both assignments.

She flipped her laptop off with both middle fingers, one for Solo and one for Holdo, and slammed it shut.

“Alright,” she murmured to herself, finally nestling her body into her comforter. “One hour, Rey. Then it’s back to the grind.”

Her eyes shot open exactly three hours and 43 minutes later. When she checked the time, she cursed so loudly that her roommate shushed her from their kitchenette.

“Sorry, Rose!” Rey yelled. She rushed around her room to find her trusty black leggings, and tried to put them on with one hand and throw her hair up into a ponytail with the other. Needless to say, that didn’t work out. She tripped over her feet and fell knees-first, right into the dresser.

“FUCK!”

“Rey! Come on!”

Rey pulled her newly damaged knee into her hands and winced. How was she supposed to run all the way across campus with a limp? She was going to be late, no doubt about it, despite Dr. Solo’s protestations last Friday.

Okay, okay. Think, Rey.

Rey had never been one to use her looks to her advantage, but Solo was such a dick he’d just have to deal with it. She pulled her trusty white tank-top over her head, nodding at her reflection when she saw her nipples poking through the fabric. She looked like a veritable sorority nympho. She’d have to take a picture to tease Kylo with. Later.

She pulled her hair out of its messy bun and tousled it with her fingers so it would fall as seductively as possible over her shoulders. When she had it looking passably decent, she brushed her teeth and dashed out, gracefully ignoring her roommate’s chiding about keeping things peaceful in the morning.

She scanned in at 8:05. The tardies weren’t the issue, though, it was the relentless call-outs that Solo seemed to get off on that bothered her. Rey knew she wouldn’t be tardy again—today had been a special case, after all. She just didn’t want to be screamed at. Instead of sneaking in through the back of the auditorium, she shuffled towards the front entrance and walked in with her head and chest held high.

Dr. Solo didn’t even spare a glance in her direction.

She huffed gratefully and took a seat towards the front of the class.

Ben was in a rare good mood.

Today was the day they started discussing deontology, which was one of his favorite topics in ethics. Ben thrived on rules, structure, and order. Well, for the most part. He lived his life based on a rigid set of guidelines, and he’d done a good job of it. Was he sometimes cruel to the point of making undergraduates cry? Sure, but it was his duty to prepare them for the real world, immediate consequences be damned. Everything would be right eventually, when they figured out right from wrong, responsible from irresponsible.

He was so intent and focused on driving his points home that he willfully ignored the door opening and closing. If he’d known it was Miss Fisher, he might not have been so kind, but she always came in the back door.

Ben slid behind the podium at the end of the hour, scanning the crowd for empty spaces. Drop/add had ended, and this was the class he would be stuck with for the rest of the semester. There were a few faces missing and a few new ones to take their place, but overall, it didn’t look like a bad crowd.

“I’ll have your papers graded Friday morning. For the few of you that are new or have transferred from Dr. Kenobi’s class, you have until Thursday at 8am to get them in. Details are in the syllabus; email or meet me for office hours if you have any questions.”

Ben nodded his head and took a seat, signaling the end of the class period. Most of the students filtered out, but a few stayed behind to chat or finalize their notes, including Reychel Fisher. He’d have to check and see when she made it in that morning. He knew she couldn’t have been there at the start of the lecture, because he would have noticed her sitting towards the front.

Reychel must have really taken his lecture to heart, despite having been tardy again. He didn’t realize he was staring at her until she rose from her seat and stretched, exposing the smallest, most tempting sliver of toned midriff he’d ever seen. She was wearing hip-hugging leggings instead of sweatpants, and they left little of her shape to the imagination. Her neck and collarbone were fully exposed, and he could almost make out the outline of her… no. No way. Fuck.

He didn’t want to know how perky her tits were. No, that wasn’t part of the plan. He tore his gaze from her and busied himself with his phone. She was an athletic brunette with a nice décolletage, just like his Rey, which he knew was the only reason he even noticed her. He wanted Rey so badly he was desperate to see her in someone else.

Kira—wait, no. Rey. Yes, Rey. Perfect, sweet, wonderful, innocent Rey, who would certainly never wear something so inappropriate to class. He fished his phone out of his pocket and texted her immediately.

From: Ben Solo
No offense but I miss you. A lot.

There were still a few students talking in the classroom—it hadn’t been five minutes since he’d dismissed everyone, so that was normal. But he noticed Miss Fisher slump back into her seat and stare into her phone with a big, stupid grin, and he wondered if Rey looked at her phone like that when he texted her.

From: Rey
No offense but I miss you more.

From: Rey
Fuck responsibility, I wanna talk to you tonight.

His phone buzzed twice. The vibrations reverberated through the room thanks to the thick oak wood of his podium. Miss Fisher shot him a look, but didn’t say anything.

From: Ben Solo
Babyyy. I have so many papers to grade :(

From: Rey
Five minutes? :(

Ben looked up again. Miss Fisher was the only one left in the room. She was glaring down at her phone.

From: Ben Solo
I literally can’t say no to you lol. Ten minutes, I’ll call you at seven

From: Rey
I knew I liked you for a reason :)

Ben tore his gaze from his phone and cleared his throat. “Miss Fisher, do you intend to stay for my next class?”

She glared up at him and shoved her phone in her pocket. “No, sir, I wouldn’t torture myself like that.”

Ben scowled, which seemed to bring the girl much satisfaction. “Then I suggest you skedaddle already.”

She shoved her laptop in her bag and threw it over her shoulder, and texted someone furiously. Ben rolled his eyes and watched her hips sway until his phone buzzed loudly. She shot him a seemingly knowing look over her shoulder, and he retreated into himself.

From: Rey
Have I told you how much I hate my 8am prof lately? Because I really fucking hate him LMAO

From: Ben Solo
Hahahaha I can think of a few students who feel the same about me

From: Rey
They probably just want to fuck you ;) Too bad you’re all mine

From: Ben Solo
False on the first thing, definitely very true on the second thing

A few minutes later, Ben’s phone buzzed again. He nearly had a coronary when he opened it. There was Rey, pulling up that fucking tank top so he could see her perfect stomach. His eyes could easily make out those perky little nipples through the fabric.

From: Rey
What would you do if I wore this to your class?

If he wasn’t such a horndog, he might have noticed how familiar the bathroom she was in looked. Maybe.

From: Ben Solo
First I’d pass out and die. Give me a few hours to give a play-by-play of what would happen next, got a class in thirty minutes

From: Ben Solo
You’re so fucking hot

True to his word, Kylo called at 7:00 exactly. Rey answered on the first ring.

“Kylo Ren!” She giggled. “How I’ve missed hearing that dainty voice.”

She could feel Kylo rolling his eyes from the other side of the phone. “Kira... Rey! How I’ve missed hearing your… masculine voice?”

“You flatter me.” Rey scooted back onto her bed with a smug smile. “How was work today, baby?”

“Work was fine. How was school… baby?”

“It fucking sucked. I was up until four doing an assignment last night. I had a few more I wanted to get to, but I took a nap, and then… yeah. Overslept like hell. I was late to my 8am…again.”

Kylo sighed, very loudly. “I’m gonna have to do something about that tardy streak.”

“It doesn’t even affect you!”

Kylo chuckled, and it made Rey blush for some ungodly reason. She rubbed her thighs together. Just talking to him was enough to get her worked up.

“Are you gonna be late to our first date, too?”

“No,” Rey started. Her cheeks were burning red. They’d hardly talked about meeting before, but now it was becoming unavoidable. They both lived in... or near... Albany, after all. “Because you’re gonna be picking me up.”

He cleared his throat. “When?”

“Um… Friday night?”

“Okay. Uh. I’ll have you send me your address then, I guess, and—“

“No, no. I live in a dorm. I’ll meet you somewhere nearby, like a cafe or something.”

“Okay.” Kylo cleared his throat again. She could feel his apprehension. “Okay, I’ll pick you up at a cafe or something on Friday night. At… seven?”

Rey chuckled. “Yeah, seven seems to work pretty well for us. Listen, though, I’m not much for… dates. Dinner and stuff, I mean. Can we just watch a movie at your place, if it's not too far from mine? Order pizza?”

Rey couldn’t tell if Kylo was choking or clearing his throat again. She knew “watch a movie at your place” was very thinly veiled code for “make out on your couch,” but they lived nearby and they’d been sending each other increasingly horny texts for a week. He had to know that’s what she wanted. Well, she wouldn’t mind dating him, too, but she was very interested in seeing what those lips felt like either way.

After what felt like an eternity, he finally said something vaguely reminiscent of “Yes, absolutely.”

“I should probably let you get back to your grading, yeah?” She asked, suddenly interested in hiding her face in her pillow until she was suffocated by her own shame. Maker, she liked this guy. He was going to be the death of her and she barely even knew what he looked like.

“Yeah, and I should let you get a head start on homework so you can go to sleep before 4 AM.”

“Probably. And…Kylo?”

“Rey?”

“I’m really looking forward to meeting you. Even if you think I’m gross in real life and never wanna touch me, I’ll be glad to have a friend here.”

She heard him shifting uncomfortably. “Me, too, Rey. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

He hung up before she could respond, like he always did. She wondered for a moment how someone so ripped with lips like that could be so awkward and bad with women, but it was a blessing in disguise as far as she was concerned.

From: Kylooo
I like you so much.

She blushed down at her phone, like she’d done a million times over the last few weeks.

From: Rey
Ditto

Chapter Text

On Tuesday night, Rey started to get suspicious.

More than suspicious, perhaps. After some research and a failed attempt at internet stalking, she realized that the nearest school to Albany was Coruscant University. That’s where she was enrolled, and Kylo basically had to be a professor there unless he was commuting two hours a day. She knew he worked at a bonafide university, not the local community college, so that was out of the question.

“Can you tell me where you teach?” Rey asked, pressing her phone against her ear with her shoulder while she got a start on her dishes. Rose had left a particularly passive aggressive note for her after class, and she had to admit she deserved it. She’d been so busy between Kylo and schoolwork, she hadn’t even had time to do her part keeping their tiny dorm clean.

She could tell Kylo was hesitating to answer. Maybe he had the same suspicions she did. “Er, Coruscant. CU. Go Jaguars, right?”

Rey’s eyes threatened to bulge out of her head. “Which department?”

“Philosophy.”

She exhaled a shaky breath. Okay, she had nothing to do with the philosophy department. Her only courses outside of her Math and Physics majors were Ethics and an online English course. Even Rey knew good and well that if he found out she was a CU student, he’d hang up the phone and never speak to her again. She didn’t want to risk it; he was flighty enough as it was, and it was dangerous to even remind him that he was a professor and she was a student anymore. He seemed to feel guilty about her age.

“Interesting! How was your day?”

Rey heard him shifting around, the foremost indicator that he was about to end the conversation. “Where do you go to school, Rey?”

“Not CU,” she lied, almost instinctively. She wanted to bang her head against her countertop for digging herself into that hole, but it was better to lie than to lose Kylo. He was the only source of sanity in her life lately. “Stranger danger, though. Can’t tell you.”

He exhaled into the receiver. Rey couldn’t tell if he sounded relieved or upset from her obvious lying; it would be nearly impossible to convince him she went to the small community college near CU. They didn’t even offer Physics. Did they even have dorms? Oh God, he has to know.

“…Okay. My day was fine, I’m still drowning in papers.” He sounded out of breath. “Undergraduates write the damndest things, and they use such horrible grammar when they do it. You?”

Rey knew she needed to change the subject immediately. “I’m doing dishes, about to drink wine and watch that Galaxy Wars holiday special.”

Kylo laughed a little too loudly into her ear. “Thank you for not subjecting me to that on our first date.”

“I’m a serial re-watcher. It’s definitely still on the table,” Rey giggled. She watched bubbles shoot from the soap bottle and into the air when she squeezed it, her favorite part of washing dishes by hand. They floated around the kitchenette until they popped on the counter. “Though I doubt we’ll be doing much watching, anyway.”

“Why’s that?”

“I’m not going to make out with you with my eyes open,” Rey teased. She pulled her arms out of the lukewarm water and rubbed them against her thighs. She had to keep him horny so he wouldn’t connect the dots before Friday, which emboldened her to talk much dirtier than she normally would. “And I don’t want you distracted when you finally put that mouth to use.”

She was blushing, but it was all for a good cause. She could forgive herself for it.

Fuck,” he hissed. She heard him shuffling. “You’re going to be the death of me, Rey.”

“I wouldn’t want you to die without tasting me first.” Rey murmured this as seductively as possible. She was leaning over the counter with her bright red face buried in her free hand, having never felt more mortified in her life. But her plan seemed to be working. “What a waste that would be.”

“J-Jesus, Rey,” he stuttered. “Fuck. I’ll text you. I have to get off the phone.”

“Mm, miss you already,” Rey giggled half-heartedly. She wanted to say more, but he disconnected the call before she could. She stood over the counter with her face hidden in both hands now, too embarrassed to even look at her vibrating phone for another half hour.

Ben struggled to define his mood the next morning. It was clear to him now that Rey was, absolutely, undoubtedly, and certainly, a CU student. He wasn’t quite sure why she lied, but he was glad as fuck that she did. She probably didn’t want a thirty year old creep to be able to track her down so easily. He’d already broken so many rules it was unreal, but he could at least plead ignorance if he was found out.

All he had to do was type her phone number into the student database. Then he’d know for sure.

No, no, then he wouldn’t have plausible deniability. He’d never felt so unethical in his life, but he’d also never wanted to touch someone so badly, and it wasn’t his fault that fate had it out for him.

You horny old pervert.

He sighed into his palms when he got to his office. She didn’t seem to be one of his students—no, he’d recognize that sweet little voice anywhere. And those lips. Though it did unsettle him that he had very little idea of what she actually looked like, from the nose up.

It didn’t matter. She was in the math and science departments, which met across campus. He rarely, if ever, had students from those departments in his Ethics or Philosophy courses, unless they were doing a Metaphysics concentration. And they hadn’t had one of those concentrations in years.

He scanned the crowd of twenty-somethings that surrounded him as he walked to the auditorium. There were almost thirty thousand students at CU; any one of them could have been Rey. They’d probably never crossed paths at all and never would. They could both feign ignorance until she graduated in seven months, or if things got more serious, and they’d face those complications when they got there.

Class went smoothly. To his surprise, no one was tardy or absent—for once.

“You’ll all notice that your first project is due two weeks from today. I’d like for you to email me your topics by the end of the day, but you’ll still receive three-quarters of the associated credit if you get it to me by Thursday night. As always, I’m wide open for questions and my office hours are on the last page of the syllabus.”

He wasn’t surprised when he was swarmed at the end of the class period. He’d given his next class—an upper-level major course—the day off, since they turned in their first fifteen pager that morning. He had all morning to talk to these lower-level students and help them get cohesive ideas into play.

Miss Fisher was at the end of the line. She was texting furiously when she got to him, and his phone was buzzing in his pocket in turn.

Rey must have gotten released from her 8am early, too. He couldn’t wait to be done with this so he could talk to her.

“Tell me about your topic, Miss Fisher,” Ben sighed, leaning back into his chair now. He felt like he could be less than formal with her for some reason—he’d certainly yelled at her enough to justify it. “Hopefully it’s as riveting as whatever you’ve been texting about.”

Her face turned slightly pink, and she shoved a rough outline of her ideas to him without saying anything. They were scribbled on a piece of paper, and he struggled to read her terrible handwriting. She was still texting all the while, and his phone was still buzzing a hole in his pocket.

“Love justifies breaking the rules, huh?” Ben asked, eyebrow raised. “Goes against everything deontology is about.”

“Yeah, it’s an argument against it.” She finally looked up from her phone and shot him a stern look. “I hate deontology. Way too rigid. Life is not black and white.”

Ben nodded, as if he expected that answer. “I’ll see if I can be convinced. That’s an okay idea, but I’m not sure you’ll find much to support this thesis statement in terms of scientific literature.”

“I’ll take that risk if it comes to that.” Rey mimicked his nodding. She pulled out her phone and typed into it while he mulled over the rest of the ideas on her paper, which again elicited a buzz from his pocket.

The number of buzzes suddenly concerned him. It didn’t have to be Rey, necessarily, and even if it was… maybe there was an emergency. “One sec, Miss Fisher. I need to check my phone. That okay?”

She looked confused for a second, but nodded. He finally pulled his phone out of his pocket and raised an eyebrow when he saw that he had fifteen text messages from Rey and one from Hux.

He scanned the paragraphs she’d sent him apologizing for the barrage of texts he’d receive shortly after her class ended, and then the subsequent ones about her ridiculously embarrassing morning and how much she wanted to die, and once he determined that there was no emergency, he laughed down at his phone.

“Girlfriend?” Miss Fisher asked, which pulled him out of his reverie.

“Am I that obvious?” He asked, clearing his throat and stuffing his phone back into his pocket.

“Oh, yeah. You’ve got it bad,” she giggled sweetly, and for some reason, that caught him off guard. He looked up from the sheet of paper and studied Miss Fisher’s face. Hazel eyes, freckled nose, beautiful cheeks, perfect lips… Slight British accent. Teasing giggle.

And that’s when he got a horrible feeling.

“What’s your first name?” He blurted, eyes wide, heart racing. Everything was coming into place. How much she hated her 8am professor, how he was suddenly attracted to a student despite never experiencing anything like that before. How his phone buzzed whenever she had her nose in her phone.

She looked like Rey. She had the same lips as Rey. Wasn’t she wearing a white tank top on Monday?

“Uh… Reychel.”

Okay. Reychel. He was being paranoid.

“But most people just call me Rey.” No.

No.

NO.

FUCK.

Ben stood up very suddenly, so quickly that it knocked the chair out from behind him. Miss Fisher—no, REY, damn it—seemed frightened. And she should have been. He caught his reflection in the reflective tint of the windows, and he looked like he’d seen a ghost.

“I—Um, okay—listen, I’m—“ he was a stuttering mess. No way was this happening. It wasn’t possible, he needed to make sure before he embarrassed himself completely. He pulled his phone out and immediately dialed Rey’s phone number—of course he knew it by heart—and put his phone down on his desk. He stared at the phone in his student’s hand to see if it would respond.

“Oh, I’m getting a call…” Rey started backing out towards the door. She clearly had no idea about the epiphany he was having. “I need to answer it. I’ll… email you.”

“Rey,” Ben warned. He sprinted towards her and snatched her phone out of her hand. She started to protest, and he blanched when he saw the name on the screen.

A big, bold, and white “Kylooo” was scrolling across her screen.

“I’ll report you right now if you don’t give me my fucking phone back!” Rey screeched. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

Ben handed it back to her without protesting. This was bad. This was so bad.

This was possibly the worst thing he’d ever done.

This was so awful. Unethical. The things he said he’d do to this girl.

“Rey,” he breathed, eyes wide, face even paler than before. “Jesus Christ. Rey.”

She looked so confused and uncomfortable. Scared, even. He had to stop her from dashing out and calling campus security on him before he could explain his erratic behavior.

Kira.

“Wh-what?” Rey asked, indignant. How did he know her internet alias? Her heart was beating way too fast, she couldn’t focus on him. And now she’d missed a call from Kylo, who never called without asking first. Was it an emergency? “Why are you calling me that?”

He was staring at her with something less erratic in his eyes now. Soft, maybe even kind.

“Just—give me a second.” He turned for a moment, then turned back and stared at her, pleading. “D-don’t run away, I promise it will make sense in a minute.”

Rey’s breath hitched, and she pressed her back against the door. She was frozen.

He grabbed his phone from her desk and put it in her hands, letting her scroll through the texts she’d sent him that morning. The texts she’d sent Kylo, not her asshole professor Dr. Solo.

She dropped his phone and cringed when she heard the screen shatter. He didn’t seem to care, he seemed to even expect that reaction.

“Kylo?”

“Yes. Kylo. Me. I’m Kylo. This is bad.” He turned away from her and started pacing through the auditorium frantically.

She stared at him, taking in how fucking huge he was. He had to be 6’3—she was at least 5’7, but he dwarfed her in every way, enough that she was frightened for her life when he ran at her to steal her phone a few minutes ago.

Asshole Dr. Solo was her sweet Kylo?

“This is so bad. This is the worst thing I’ve ever done. And you can’t even drop out of the class without me having to fucking justify it—I’d lose my job. I’ll lose it either way. Holy shit.”

He was pacing, practically hyperventilating, and all Rey could do was watch him.

He. Was. So. Big.

“I didn’t realize how tall you were,” she finally murmured. “Like, you’re scary big.”

He jerked his head in her direction. “What?”

“You’re just…enormous.” He was back to facing her after a few more paces, so close that she could grab his tie and yank it down and soothe him the way she’d been dreaming of for the last month or so.

Instead, she just studied his face. Yes, that nose was very familiar, and so were those big, plush lips. And the moles. How had she not noticed how familiar Dr. Solo looked before?

Her heart was pounding so hard that she could hardly hear herself think. She was upset, angry, scared, relieved, and… excited to be around Kylo. Mostly, though, she was nervous.

“D-do you like me?” She asked, shifting nervously on her feet. “In person, I mean. Am I okay?”

“Rey,” he warned, softer this time than before, and pinched the bridge of his nose. “That’s the least of my worries right now, okay? This is…I mean, my livelihood is at stake. I figured you were a student here, but I never thought fate could be this cruel.”

Rey blinked at him, unsure of how to take that statement, but she couldn’t protest before he started yammering again.

“I should have known. This was the most obvious thing in the world. I meet my dream woman online and she’s my wayward, chronically tardy Ethics student.”

“I should go,” she whispered up at him. There were tears crowding her vision, and she couldn’t think straight. She didn’t know what to think, or where to start with her thoughts, or why she should even bother anymore. “I have to…I have homework. And other classes, soon.”

“Wait. Fuck,” Kylo…Dr. Solo…whoever the fuck was quickly shirking the short distance between them. “Rey, this isn’t your fault. Don’t think this is your fault.”

“I mean, it’s no one’s fault,” Rey murmured. She felt hot, salty tears falling from her eyes down her cheeks now.

“This has to end immediately. Whatever this is,” he motioned between them. “It has to end now.”

“O-okay,” Rey tried to speak coherently, but the word came out as more of a pained sob. “It’s over.”

“Please don’t cry,” he whispered. “You’re so sweet, Rey. You don’t deserve to cry over me.”

He leaned forward and used his thumb to wipe the tears away from her cheeks, but that only made more fall. She saw his jaw tighten in response.

“I-I have to go. I won’t tell anyone, you don’t have to—you won’t have to quit, we can pretend it never happened.” Rey was actually shaking now, there was no stopping it. She was embarrassed, hurt and so confused, and she wouldn’t feel stable again until she was under the safety of her duvet. It was a fifteen minute walk to her dorm. She could make it.

Dr. Solo grabbed her wrist before she could go. It was a soft grip, but she still felt trapped, and she tried to decipher the look on his face through her bleary-eyed vision. He looked remorseful. Pained. Was he about to cry, too?

“Rey, I’m so sorry.”

She nodded.

“Stay in the class. It will be okay, I’ll have my TAs handle grading from now on and…” He cupped her cheek with his free hand. “Listen, when you graduate… okay? When you graduate. Just… okay?”

She nodded again, though she had no idea what he was rambling on about now. She just wanted to leave.

“Okay. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.” He loosened his grip on her wrist and pulled away from her altogether so she could leave. “I am so fucking sorry, Rey.”

Rey scurried out as quickly as humanly possible, only losing her resolve when she heard a loud crash from the classroom behind her.

She had to get back home.

Chapter Text

It was seven on the dot, and Ben was pacing in his apartment. He wondered, briefly, if his downstairs neighbors would complain again, then decided he really didn’t give a fuck if they did.

It had been a little over a week since the day his world stopped turning, and also since he’d last seen Rey. He wasn’t tracking her absences in the system at all. If he had, she would have already been auto-booted from his course.

No, he was willing to give her this last week before he sent a warning email. If she wasn’t in class tomorrow, she’d have effectively forced his hand.

He had to fight a chuckle at the idea of sending a formal email when he could just pick up his phone and ask her where the hell she was hiding. But that wouldn’t be very professional. Not that his professionalism was hanging on by a very thin thread or anything. He’d only lost his temper six or seven times in the last week versus his usual two to three; things weren’t that bad. No one would notice.

He missed her. He wanted her. He didn’t give a fuck about his job anymore, he just wanted Rey on the phone for ten minutes until he got too hard to make coherent sentences and he could jerk himself into a dissociative fugue and pass out an hour later.

The feeling was… unnerving. He’d never been much for female company; he’d worked much too hard in his academic life to have time for that, and was far too gangly and awkward as a teenager to make an impression on any of the local ladies. He occasionally wanted women, and often found himself ogling awkwardly or uncomfortably at them a little too long in bars, but it never really panned out for him. Talking to them online ended up being much easier, but he was a serial ghoster, never taking things past the first few conversations. Certainly never talking on the phone, and absolutely never meeting them in person.

Rey was different, though. They already had something in common, she’d already seen his snide, asshole-ish side when he lost his temper on the forums. She didn’t care. She found him charming and funny, and was seemingly hooked on him after their very first phone call. Rey was, for all intents and purposes, possibly his only real chance at love or marriage or children or any of the normalcy that came along with that. His subconscious was probably convinced that they were soulmates.

That’s why he was so willing to overlook the Coruscant University student issue. If anything, that made their situation easier—she didn’t live two thousand miles away or anything. He might have even started to count himself lucky for the convenience of it, if not for his little epiphany last Wednesday.

Being a student at his university was one thing. Being his student… no. That couldn’t be overlooked. No matter how badly he wished it fucking could.

“Get a grip, you miserable prick,” he rasped into his bathroom mirror, when his wayward feet finally brought him there. “You can have her in a few months.”

If she still wants anything to do with you then.

No—she’d clearly agreed. She’d nodded when he asked her to wait until she graduated next semester. That was confirmation enough; he just had to miss her violently and fight a never-ending stomachache until then.

His phone chirped loudly from the living room, and he nearly tripped over himself to get to it. He kept it on loud now, always. Just in case.

From: Hux, Armitage
Hey man. I know you’re in a mood this week, but Phas is pretty pissed that you haven’t taken us out to celebrate the engagement yet. So I’m going to pretend you told me we’re meeting at the cantina tomorrow and I need you to not be a dick about it

Ben’s fingers were shaking when he opened the message. It wasn’t even Rey and he was still nervous.

From: Ben Solo
sounds good, sorry I’ve been MIA. picked up an extra class this semester. Tell Phas I love her

He threw his cracked phone onto the carpet and sunk into his couch cushions.

Rey fought the urge to drop her phone into the trash compactor when it started its daily assault on her peaceful slumber.

Her dreams were the only place she could escape the aching emptiness in her chest. She’d never had time to have her heart broken before, and she’d never make time for it again.

She checked her notifications and stuffed her phone under her pillow when she realized Dr. Solo still hadn’t texted her. She had to go to his class today, lest she risk getting booted—that would really fuck up her graduation plans. It would have been a lot easier to motivate herself if he’d sent the long apology she felt she deserved.

She stared at her reflection while she idly brushed her teeth. Her eyes were still red-rimmed, and there was a breakout threatening her chin from all the ice cream and chicken fingers she’d gorged on over the last week...not to mention the dark, foreboding circles under her eyes. She looked like hell and felt even worse.

Her fingers tugged her long, brown locks into an artful bun, and she sighed herself into her sweatpants and an old Coruscant U t-shirt. “Go jaguars, indeed,” she whispered.

Despite being in no rush to get to class, she also knew she couldn’t handle being screamed at by Dr. Solo again under the current circumstances. So she pulled some slides over her mismatched socks to complete her “I don’t give a fuck about nothin’” look, grabbed her book bag and an apple from the kitchen, and started the long walk across campus.

He was sitting at his desk with his eyebrows furrowed down at his phone when she walked in. God, he was probably already firmly committed to another forum bitch. The thought made her sick and she decided that she hated him. With all the resolve of a woman scorned, she stomped to his desk and took the final bite out of her apple.

“Mornin’, teach,” she hissed. When he didn’t immediately look up from his phone, she threw the apple core into the trash as hard as she could. That made him jump, and when he looked over to make eye contact with her, she watched his Adam’s apple bob nervously. Good. He deserved to squirm as much as she had waiting for an apology that would never come. “I had the flu. Did I miss any assignments?”

His body tensed, and he handed her a manilla folder. She opened it and scanned the pages. They were mostly notes, annotated by him, and a few make-up reading quizzes with a sticky note on the top that said “Bring these back when you can, and please adhere to the honor code.”

How professional of him.

“Thanks,” she nodded curtly and turned on her heel to take a seat in the far, far back. He cleared his throat to stop her, but she kept walking.

“Miss Fisher,” he sighed. He sounded resigned. She hoped to the Maker that she didn’t detect a hint of pity in his voice. “Wait—can I please see you after class?”

She turned around to face him again. “No, you can’t.”

Rey fought the urge to launch the folder at his head when he cast her a gobsmacked look. No, he didn’t get to do this. Not after the week of hell she’d been through.

Ben was confused when he watched Rey stomp away from him. While he’d never been very good with women, he could at least tell when one was angry, and damn. She seemed really angry.

Out of all the ways he imagined she’d react to seeing him again, this was possibly the worst case scenario. Fuck.

He immediately went into panic mode. Okay, she clearly wasn’t interested in waiting for him, so he’d been holding onto false hope there. He supposed that in her shock, she agreed to something without really meaning it. Which was extremely unethical and, well, wrong, but he’d let it slide. He had to let it slide. He was pretty upset about having to wait, but having things just…end. Wow.

He hid his face in his hands and tried to regulate his breathing. They weren’t dating or anything, but Rey was the closest he’d ever had to a real girlfriend, and now he was facing what was the closest he’d been to a real breakup in front of over fifty undergraduates. Pathetic.

No. He had to talk to her, and he’d find a way. Things couldn’t just end like that, and he wasn’t going to risk discussing it with her over text messages.

Okay, Ben. Breathe.

He somehow made it through the lecture without incident, until the end, when his voice wavered.

“I need anyone who missed Monday and Wednesday’s class—“ he hoped to God that was only Rey, but he honestly had no idea. “—to…uh…give me a verbal status update on their first project after class.”

There. See if she could wiggle out of that.

It took fifteen minutes, but he was finally alone with her. She looked ready to kill him, and he couldn’t possibly fathom why. If anything, he should have been upset at her for leading him on!

“Rey,” he whispered, but she put her hand up to stop him.

“Don’t you dare. You really, really hurt me, Dr. Solo.”

He blinked at her, eyes wide, suddenly forgetting how to speak. He didn’t know if he should lean back further into his chair or kneel in front of her. “I—I’m sorry about that. I knew it would be hard, but I thought… you know, after you graduated—and then you said yes, or you nodded, and I thought that meant—so I didn’t realize it was totally over, and I’m… I’m sorry.”

She blinked at him now. “What are you talking about?”

“I mean, I thought we could just wait until you graduated to—“

“Is that what you were going on about last week? Did you really think…I’d put my life on hold like that?” She was blinking at him incredulously.

Ben blinked back at her. He had every intention of putting his life on hold for her, but he wasn’t a beautiful college student, so maybe he’d misread the situation. “I…thought you might. I thought we might be worth it.”

“We?” She motioned between them, and it took him a minute to realize she was mimicking his actions from last week. “You made it clear that ‘whatever this is’ was over.”

“No, no, no no no,” Ben was blinking more erratically now. “No, I meant over for now, I just meant—I meant it would be unprofessional, dangerous for both of us, to continue…talking. You'd lose your scholarship, you could be expelled, I'd lose my job... But this is only until you graduate, then we’re in the clear, and—“

“Oh.”

Rey was frowning at him. She didn’t seem angry anymore, she seemed…placated?

“Is that okay?”

She nodded.

“Okay, Rey,” he sighed. He fought the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose again, just barely. “I’m not trying to be a dick—“

“I’m sure you are, but continue.”

He caved and wrapped his index finger and thumb around the bridge of his nose in frustration. “I see you bobbing your head, but I want to be sure you understand what we’re agreeing to. Because there was some confusion last time, and I don’t think I could possibly lose you again, even if it only lasted an hour.”

She had a smug smirk on her face, and Ben was absolutely, completely, and utterly tempted to claim her then and there. She was the most perfect creature he’d ever seen.

“You really like me that much?”

“Yes.”

“And what if that changes?”

Ben shook his head. “It won’t, Rey. Not on my end. Not ever.”

“Okay. And in the meantime, I come to class and resist the urge to text you? Have completely appropriate conversations in person, like we don’t know anything about each other, and pretend I don’t want you to bend me over that stupid podium?”

Ben’s brows furrowed, and he felt all of the blood in his body rush straight to his dick. Yeah, that was the Rey he knew and lov—liked. So fucking cheeky.

“It’s not stupid, and yeah. That’s the idea.”

Rey giggled in that sweet, unassuming way, like she was in on a joke he could never understand. “Game on, I guess, but this sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.”

Ben shut his eyes as hard as possible, trying not to think about keeping his hands off of this woman for seven Maker-forsaken months. No way they’d make it, but he prayed they at least wouldn’t get caught along the way.

“It will be.”

Chapter Text

Bars weren’t really Ben’s thing, unless there was trivia involved. Even then, he’d get a little too competitive, a little too surly, and a little too tipsy to really enjoy the scene.

He had to remind himself several times that tonight wasn’t about him. He needed to take Phasma and Hux out to celebrate their engagement, pay for all of their greasy bar food and hipster beers, and come home sober enough to sate the arousal he’d been fighting since 8am.

He squeezed his eyes shut, took a deep breath, and walked in.

The smell of beer hit him first, then a nostril-burning combination of too much perfume and too much cologne. He could already feel a headache forming behind his eyes. It seemed that the undergraduates had discovered this hidden gem, what was once the last bastion for real adults and the professors that lived in the area. He heaved his body into a too-small barstool and scanned the crowd for his friends. Phas and Hux were chronically tardy, so he doubted they were even there yet.

“Fancy seeing you here, Dr. Solo,” he heard a familiar voice murmur. He jerked his head up and blinked at Rey, who was standing across the bar with her trademark smirk. Her eyes almost looked green in the dim lighting, and he swore he could make out constellations in the freckles on her face. She looked beautiful—her hair was curled, she had makeup on, and the borderline degrading uniform that all female bartenders wore here accentuated features of her body that he’d only dreamed about so far. He fought the urge to peek over the counter to check out her hips and legs. Say something, idiot.

“Ahh, Miss Fisher. I didn’t know you… uh, had a job.” He threw his eyebrows up like it would help him maintain some air of mystery around the disgusting thoughts racing through his head. She giggled at him and pulled out a notepad. She bent over the bar, and he swore it was on purpose. His eyes couldn’t help but trace the soft, smooth curves of her cleavage.

“Chewie’s like a big, hairy uncle to me. He usually lets me pick up shifts when the girls call out, but this is the first time I’ve been in this semester.”

Ben had to fight the thoughts flooding his brain. He’d always been a possessive guy, but he was able to keep it in check for the most part, probably because he’d never had a real girlfriend. The idea of how many guys—college kids, professors, even just random men in the community—would be slipping her numbers tonight made him feel sick to his stomach. She looked entirely too good.

“Well…that’s great.” Ben cleared his throat and tapped his fingers against the wood, nervously. So much for avoiding her outside of class until May. Fate wouldn’t even let them manage a full twelve hours. “Are you going to be taking care of me tonight?”

“Yes, Dr. Solo. I’ll be taking very good care of you tonight.” She pulled her pen from behind her ear and started a new page on her notepad. “Can I get you started with something to drink?”

“Yeah—uh. I just want some Guinness. And, um, I’m waiting on my friends. One will want a rum and coke, the other just wants to get started with a glass of your cheapest red wine.” He nodded his head, mostly for his own benefit. “Since I’m paying and she’s no lightweight.”

“Three’s a crowd, sir.” He watched Rey scribble on her notepad and pull away from the bar. Even though he had been trying his damnedest to keep his eyes off her cleavage, he was still sad it was gone. “You should have invited your girlfriend.”

“She’s busy. Picked up a shift for her hairy uncle.”

He watched Rey’s cheeks redden ever so slightly, and she turned away to get his drinks ready when Phasma and Hux occupied the seats around him.

He hated sitting between them. They were always trying to clandestinely touch each other, but insisted that they never wanted to make him feel like a third wheel.

“You get her number?” Phasma asked as she settled in. “She was totally hitting on you. We watched the whole thing.”

Hux chuckled into his palm.

“Uh…no. Definitely not. Not my type,” Ben coughed uncomfortably.

Liar. She’s exactly your type.

Phasma seemed placated by his lie, and the trio finally got lost in conversation. Drinks appeared in front of them at some point, but Rey seemed to be making herself as scarce as possible. The bar was crowded and loud, and she was probably way too busy to dote on Ben the way he wanted her to. That might raise some red flags, anyway.

Phasma eventually flagged her down and recite their food orders, noting that it was ’all on her rich professor friend’s tab.’

Everything was going smoothly until Phasma got a little too drunk and started talking Rey’s ear off.

“You go to Coruscant?” Phasma slurred. Rey giggled, and Ben noted that it was a different type of giggle than the one she used on him. That made his tipsy heart flutter. “We all teach there. Never seen you, though.”

Rey explained that she was a science student, and that she recognized all three of them from the social sciences departments. “Word gets around, you know. I’ve heard you’re funny and interesting, but a notoriously hard grader.”

Phasma was beaming at this information. “Yes! That’s precisely the brand I’ve carved for myself. Ahh, thank you.”

Ben thought that the conversation might end there, but no. Phasma was too cruel for that.

“I was asking because I thought you’d be good for Benny-boy over here. But that’s clearly out of the question now.” Phasma lifted up her hand to show off the big, beautiful rock that Hux had spent months designing for her. “You a senior?”

“Yes, I’m a senior. Graduating in May.”

Phasma cast a wicked grin at Ben, who just wanted to melt into the floor and die. Had he been staring at Rey too intently? Could Phasma just detect the sexual tension between them like that? It worried him. He couldn’t afford to be obvious, not for his or Rey’s sakes.

“Well, May isn’t too far off. We’ll follow up with you about Benny then.”

“Alright, that’s enough,” Ben grumbled into his beer. “Leave the poor girl alone.”

He looked up to Rey with absolutely pleading eyes, and she returned her own, blank expression. There was nothing she could do to hide the beginnings of a smirk on her lips, though.

“Don’t worry, he’ll tip you real good for all the trouble I’ve caused.” Phasma winked at Rey, who giggled again and walked away.

Ben stared at his drink. Yes, he’d love to give her a good tip. Then watch her sweet little face contort when she took the whole enormous thing in what he was sure was the tightest, prettiest cunt in human history.

Calm. Down.

He sucked in a breath and tried, more successfully than he had hoped, to be a normal, decent, totally not creepy human being for the rest of the night.

Phasma and Hux eventually left, but not before Hux slid a $20 to Rey to buy her forgiveness for Phasma’s “deeply inappropriate behavior.” They left Ben sitting there, still too tipsy to stop himself from watching Rey work the room. It was nearly midnight, and the crowd was starting to thin out.

Rey approached him a few minutes later. She must have caught him staring or something. He knew his cheeks were red but he couldn’t really feel them anymore. Shit, was he tipsy or drunk?

“Need help calling an Uber?” She asked, one eyebrow raised.

He shook his head. “No, I’m just—”

“Enjoying the view?” Her smirk widened when she cut him off. Now he really could feel his cheeks.

She turned away from him and bent over to grab something from the other side of the bar. He couldn’t help himself and watched her, eyes studying that perfect, peachy ass that threatened to poke out from beneath her skimpy shorts. She stayed like that for a little longer than necessary and stood back up, brandishing a wine glass and a half-empty bottle.

“Employee stash,” she explained with a wink. She poured herself a splash of clear liquid and took a sip, eyes never leaving his burning face. “Mm. I’m facing an…ethical dilemma. Can I ask you about it?”

Ben blinked at her, nodding.

“Well, I have to wait to be with someone. It’s for both our best interests. But we keep running into each other, and the way he looks at me…” She trailed off for a moment and smiled, shaking her head. “I can tell he doesn’t wanna wait, either. Not really.”

“Rey,” he croaked. It was supposed to be a warning, but he couldn’t possibly manage that. Was this a wet dream? Was he about to wake up covered in sweat and sticky cum?

“I mean, we have to wait. I can’t even really talk to him in the meantime. Like I said, though, we keep running into each other. Is it wrong if I can’t help but tease him when that happens?”

“Extremely wrong,” Ben frowned. “Especially when that man is already so, so close to saying ‘fuck it all’ and calling your sweet little bluff.”

Rey’s head cocked, ever so slightly, to the left. “Is that a threat?”

“Yes, sweetheart.”

“Mmhmm.” Rey hummed and swished the drink around in her glass. “How unprofessional.”

Rey woke up the next morning with aching legs and an empty bed. She remembered briefly toying with the idea of convincing Ben to let her go home with him, but she was sober and he clearly wasn’t, and that made her feel like a predator.

She loved drunk Ben. He was forward and unbothered in a way that sober Ben could never hope to be, but she supposed that was all part of his charm.

To her surprise, she had five texts waiting for her. The timestamps started at 1:15am, which would have given him just enough time to get home after she finally cut him off and made him leave.

From: Kylooo
you looked so fucking hot tonight

literally thought i was having a wet dream

Wish yuo were here’ Id never let you leave

gonna ruin you for every other man babygirl

Rey shifted her thighs together to sate…whatever the fuck was going on down there. She read over the first four texts over and over before she even acknowledged the last one, which was sent around nine am. She already knew what it was.

From: Kylooo
I am so sorry, Rey. I would never in my right mind speak to you like that. Please delete those and forgive me for being such a creepy drunk. I wish I could trust myself to be an adult in this situation without putting the onus on you. Don’t worry about responding to this.

“Sorry, Dr. Solo,” she muttered into her phone screen. “You can’t trust me to be an adult either.”

From: Rey
You can’t just tell me you’ll ruin me for other men and expect me not to respond. I think it’s stupid that we can’t text, anyway.

It took about fifteen minutes, but she finally got a response.

From: Kylooo
It is stupid. I’ve missed you so much.

From: Rey
Was that so hard?

I’ve missed you too.

Rey bit her lip and stared down at her phone for what felt like days, but was probably closer to half an hour. She hid her phone under her pillow and limped towards the shower.

She forgot how much she hated bartending. It was six or seven hours of being on her feet, stomping around, fulfilling requests from drunk people that hit on her and refused to tip fairly. Regardless, she’d brought in about $200 last night.

Mostly because Ben tipped her $50, and Hux had slipped her another $20 as an apology for his beautiful, drunk fiancee.

That made her feel predatory, too, she decided as she worked shampoo through her hair. She insisted Ben didn’t tip her at all, but he’d paid with his card and she couldn’t just… undo it. She was grateful, and maybe he owed her that for coffee anyway—she’d be pulling an all-nighter tonight to finish his stupid term project.

He finally responded when she got back to her bedroom.

From: Kylooo
Am I still Kylo in your phone? You’re Kira in mine now. Should be good enough to fend off the shit storm we’re inevitably going to bring on ourselves.

From: Rey
Oh, ye of little faith. The only way someone would find out is if one of us told. Which isn’t happening.

From: Kylooo
What if someone sees us together?

From: Rey
I thought you weren’t going to touch me until May

From: Kylooo
LMAO

We both know that’s not happening

From: Rey
I thought you were serious

From: Kylooo
I was. Until I saw your ass last night. Now it’s over with, only a matter of time before I bend you over that stupid podium

From: Rey
I thought you said it wasn’t stupid.

Are you drunk again?

From: Kylooo
Guilty. Hair of the dog, right?

From: Rey
Omg. Leave me alone hahaha I have to finish your ~ stupid ~ project

Rey didn’t bother reading his response before she stuffed her phone under her pillow again and hid her face in her hands.

They were risking so much just texting like that, but it felt so, so right. For both of them. Typically she’d be turned on from a conversation like that, but her heart was just pounding anxiously in her chest.

Drunk Ben might feel confident enough to flirt over texts, but Sober Ben was decidedly not going to touch her before May, and it wasn't even fun to pretend otherwise. It just hurt.

She hadn’t given much thought to how absolutely unfair their situation was. Ben had expressed a similar sentiment during their first fight, but the gravity of it didn’t hit her until now.

She wanted to wake up beside him every morning, breathe softly into the crook of his neck until he pulled her so close she felt like she was suffocating. She was supposed to have that, but now they couldn’t even touch each other without putting their livelihoods at risk. They were drawn to each other in an almost supernatural way, like an all-knowing force was binding their fates or some absolute bullshit like that. But every baby step they took towards sating their own basic human needs for comfort and touch and love was dangerous, more personally harmful than rewarding.

She sighed into her palms and slipped off of her bed. She slumped into her desk chair with renewed vigor, ready to make the world’s most compelling argument in favor of breaking the rules, ignoring the consequences, and reveling in love.

If she couldn’t indulge her fantasies in her personal life, she could at least indulge them in academia.

Chapter Text

Ben sat pensively, one thumb between his teeth and the other hovering over the “send” button.

He was becoming more and more preoccupied with Rey, and less and less of a hardass as a result. She was well past her allotted tardies and absences, but he manually overrode the system every time so she wouldn’t be auto-booted. He did the same for his other wayward students. Rey worked hard, so maybe they did, too.

He’d even taken to warning students about some of the surprise reading quizzes. Not this one, but…

He’d broken enough rules already. He shouldn’t feel guilty for giving her special treatment. It’s not like he handled her grading anymore.

From: Ben Solo
Might be a good idea to do those assigned readings this weekend.

From: Kira
I always do. ;)

From: Ben Solo
I know.

He bit down on his thumb and tore his gaze away from the phone in his hand. It was nearly December now, which meant Rey would no longer be his student in…

Three weeks, four days, three hours and 28 minutes. But who’s counting?

They hadn’t taken anything past text message during this time, not even phone calls, and they never spoke in class. He was proud of his resolve and even more proud that he resisted the urge to make her stay after lectures. She came in, listened, took notes, and slipped out without a word. She texted him good morning and wished him goodnight (at an ungodly hour) every day, but ever since the “drunk sexting” incident, she’d put some serious walls up and established a number of ground rules. Sometimes she’d send a message to let him know he looked particularly handsome in class—just the thought of those made him blush a deep crimson—but other than that, they hardly even flirted.

He didn’t mind the change of pace. It was for the best, and it was actually very helpful in his endless pursuit of keeping his hands off of her. He was glad one of them had some foresight; it was just another reason to adore her.

He wasn’t entirely innocent. Her social media was very public, and he lurked on it every chance he got. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. No selfie was safe from him or his very excitable cock. He had just about everything saved to his phone, considering he had until May to delete it before she’d find out.

Was he maybe the slightest bit obsessed with Reychel Fisher?

Yeah. No shit.

He tapped his free hand on his desk. There were tons of papers and quizzes to grade this weekend, but he didn’t care. He wouldn’t be able to focus until she texted back.

If she texted back.

From: Kira
Picked up a shift tonight. Don’t be mad when your goodnight text comes at 4 am :p

From: Ben Solo
You need a ride home? I don’t like you walking that late.

He exhaled a shaky breath. He’d never been so bold, but God, he was weak today. She hadn’t been in class on Friday—with his permission, of course—and he was aching to at least see her.

From: Kira
Downtown will be crawling with college kids. Probably not a good idea.

Ben smirked down at his phone. It took him a while to stop feeling offended when she outright rejected him like this, but now he found it sweet. As obsessed as he was with her, she was somehow even more obsessed with keeping him out of trouble. No self-preservation, it was all about protecting Ben from himself.

His impulse control went with the first DM on GWFC and she knew.

From: Ben Solo
I’ll wear a wig?

From: Kira
lol

sure. come get me in your wig.

Ben knew she was being sarcastic. VERY sarcastic. But he could plead innocence, and she wouldn’t make that twenty minute trek home alone. He didn’t even respond, just tossed his phone to the couch so he wouldn’t see any protests.

It was coming on 1:30am, which is when Chewie issued his last call for drinks. Everyone had to be out by 2:15, no exceptions. The bar was cleaned up by 3am, and if Rey was lucky, she’d make the walk home by 3:25, have a shower by 3:45, and be dead asleep by 4. She typically didn’t shower until the morning—too exhausted—but tonight smelled like fizzy beer and wine thanks to a few unlucky spills.

She bent over to scoop some ice out of their freezer, and caught her reflection on the way back up. Eyeliner was smudged haphazardly under her eyes, her hair was falling out of its restrictive bun, and she could see the tell-tale beginnings of dark, purple bags under the smudged eyeliner.

Fuck, I look like shit.

She frowned when she noticed a blonde guy sidle up to the bar. She was only staring at him out of the corner of her eye, but she could tell he was extremely, ridiculously her type. She felt a pang of guilt in her chest—she hadn’t so much as looked at a man that wasn’t Kylo in the last three months, hadn’t wanted to. But for some reason, there was some magnetic, weird, sexy chemistry that she could feel from there.

“One sec!” She called over her shoulder, bending back over to hide for a second. She didn’t have to feel guilty about this. She wasn’t dating Kylo, couldn’t date him until May, and all she’d done was look at someone.

She straightened her arms and walked over to the bar and refused to meet his eyes again. Usually she’d bend over it to get some pressure off of her aching legs, but she didn’t want to tempt his piercing gaze any more than she had to. “What can I get you? Last call is in five minutes, so you better drink fast.”

“I drove here, you know. How am I supposed to drink and take you home?” Rey’s facial expression turned cold and her eyebrows furrowed. Yes, there was some weirdly magnetic chemistry there, but they hadn’t even spoken yet! “How dare you, you presumptuous little—“

She blanched when she finally met the man’s gaze.

Oh.

“You—what the fuck, Kylo?” She all but hissed at him. He seemed pleased with himself, which made her want to toss the contents of her cup in his face.

Ben adjusted the orange straps of the vest he was wearing and winked at her. “I came to pick you up. You said it was alright, if I wore a wig.”

She saw some apprehension on his face, which pleased her. He must have realized how mad she was. “I’m not even dignifying that with a response.”

“Are you mad, sweetheart?” He asked, one eyebrow up and his lips quirked into a smirk.

She finally let herself lean over the counter. She loved the way his eyes travelled her body, and it was so tantalizing to tease him when she knew he couldn’t touch her. Besides, he deserved it right now.

“Not mad. Appalled, really, that you’d do something so foolish, but not as surprised as you may think.”

He leaned over the counter, too, letting their pinkies brush. Rey immediately blanched at the contact—it was literally the most they’d touched each other aside from the time he’d lovingly stroked tears off of her cheeks. But she didn’t move away. Why bother? She’d hardly recognized him in his little Halloween costume. He was a radar technician from Galaxy Wars, but he almost resembled a normal blue collar worker. Almost. The wig was a little too convincing, meaning he probably had it specially made for cosplay or something. And there were different glasses on his face. If she couldn’t tell who he was, no one could.

“I missed you on Friday.”

Rey sighed. “I missed you, too.”

Ben had gotten extremely intense lately. She could tell that he at least thought he was in love with her. She figured it was his coping mechanism for their predicament. He couldn’t have her in person, so he really had her in his mind.

Rey only worried that she wouldn’t be able to measure up to the woman he’d fabricated in his head. But she was also guilty of idealizing the man across the counter, so she couldn’t say too much about it without being a hypocrite.

He just stared at her, and she sighed again to relay some mock displeasure. “I’ll get off soon.”

Ben sat patiently, watching her and waiting for her shift and closing work to be over. When she told him she was ready to go, he laced their fingers together. It was the most intimate and erotic contact she’d ever felt in her life, and they were only standing palm to palm in the middle of a dark bar. Her heart pounded in her chest and she felt wetness pool between her thighs almost immediately. She wanted to be mad at him for touching her, but it felt entirely too good. So she let him, even giving his hand an encouraging squeeze.

“Why do you have that costume?” She finally squeaked, attempting to make conversation while they settled into his car.

“Cosplay,” he blushed into his steering wheel. She fought a laugh; seemed to be a sore subject.

But she was no saint. There was teasing in order. “What would you do if your students knew their fearsome leader cosplayed in his spare time?”

“Die.”

“Finally, some leverage,” she giggled.

He gave her a weird look while he started the car. “Leverage, huh?”

Her face flushed. Surely he knew she was joking? “Just being sarcastic. Sorry.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Oh. Sorry, I’m not at the top of my game tonight.”

“That’s fine.” Ben leaned over to give her thigh a squeeze. She let out a sound like a cough and a moan had an awkward lovechild. “I’m definitely at the top of mine.”

Where the fuck did her awkward Ethics professor go? The man in the driver’s seat was hungrier than ever, and she felt like she was serving herself to him on a silver platter.

“Maybe don’t do that,” she blushed. His hand was still on her thigh. “It’s counterproductive, all things considered.”

“Your skin is so soft. Especially your hands. I wonder what the rest of your body feels like.”

“Ben!” Rey never used his real name, but the situation seemed to warrant it.

“Sorry. You’re irresistible in that get-up.” He chuckled and removed his hand. She had no earthly clue what had possessed him, but she did know how ridiculously turned on she was, and she could still feel the ghost of his touch on her.

“You shouldn’t have come,” Rey grumbled, eyebrows furrowed in frustration. “We’re going to fuck it all up.”

“Only if I’m lucky.”

“What is wrong with you?!” Rey demanded, which seemed to break him out of his momentary loss of sense.

He blinked at her for a moment, then shrugged and started the car without another word.

Ben’s heart was racing the entire ride to the dorms. Had he fucked it all up? Was he being too forward?

He’d definitely talked to her worse via text message, but it had been a while. He didn’t plan on pulling anything until she squeezed his hand. For some reason that opened up his horny floodgates. He honestly thought they might get somewhere after that. He wanted to touch Rey more than he cared about his job, health, eating, drinking, sleeping, even the very thing he’d dedicated his academic life to studying. And having her right there in his passenger seat made him feel bold for some reason. So, so bold. Fuck May, fuck professionalism, fuck responsibility. He’d give her an A+ just to see her smile.

He finally broke the silence when they pulled in front of her building. “I’m really sorry, Rey. I lose my mind when it comes to you.”

Rey sighed beside him. The sound made him squirm. “Yeah. I know.”

He stared at her, and she stared out of the window. An uncomfortable amount of time passed, neither of them making the first move.

“Are you mad?”

“No. Just sexually frustrated and wishing I’d never taken a gap year.”

Ben flushed, but he didn’t look away from her. “I wish things were different, too. And you’re right. This was a mistake.”

That got her attention, it seemed. She threw her head around and glared at him. “I should slap you!”

Honestly, it didn’t sound like a bad deal. At least she’d touch him again.

“I’m sorry.”

She sighed, exasperated this time. “It’s okay.”

They stared at each other for another uncomfortable period of time. It could have been a few seconds or a few hours.

“Why don’t we just start dating in December?” Ben blurted. He’d been thinking about it a lot lately. “You won’t be my student anymore. I mean, we’ll have to sneak around, but—“

“They’d look into it if anyone found out. Especially since I’ve had you for a class. You’d still get fired, and best case scenario I’d have to re-take another Ethics course. If I don’t lose my credits for this semester altogether or get expelled.”

“Honestly, Rey,” Ben started. He reached his hand out for her to grab, and she did so, hesitantly. “Just seeing the texts would be enough for them to assume. I mean, it’s true. And I have given you special treatment—“

“I didn’t ask you to!”

“I know. But I literally can’t help it.”

She huffed. Ben frowned. No one said anything again until she broke the silence herself.

“I have to go up now. Need a shower.”

Ben found his confidence again, somehow. He was desperate to keep her in this car. “Rey, all I’m saying is we’ll get in trouble anyway, even if things never progress past this point. And I feel like I’m drowning. I want you so fucking badly.”

“I would never forgive myself if you got in trouble on my behalf. I care about you way too much for that, Ben. This isn’t just a stupid fucking fling. These parameters, these restrictions… they’re so fucking painful, but they’re worth it because I know for a fact that I’m protecting you.” He saw tears forming in the corners of her eyes, and it was too much for him. He wanted to stop her, but she cut him off before he could even open his mouth.

“I really think we have a shot at something incredible. But I want it to happen the right way, I don’t want to sneak around any more than we already are, and I don’t want to do anything that could hurt you in any way.”

“What am I supposed to do, Rey? Pretend like you don’t occupy my every waking thought?” Ben’s grip tightened on the steering wheel. He felt a sharp pain in his knuckles, he was holding it so tight. “I’m confused. I miss the touch of someone I’ve never felt. The risk is worth it to me. It would be my fault, not yours.”

Rey really was crying now. Ben’s eyes trailed down her cheeks in rhythm with her tears.

“Fuck it. Fuck it all,” Ben growled. He unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned over her, using his thumbs to wipe away her tears. She just stared at him. When her face was clean enough, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her into the driver’s seat with him. She didn’t hit the steering wheel, thank the Maker. His horn was loud and he didn’t really want to attract any attention to what he was about to do.

She went limp in his arms immediately, save for nuzzling her face into his neck. The contact made him sigh. She felt like her body was made to be crumpled against his chest, her face was made for his neck, her ass was made for his crotch. He squeezed her to him and she moaned contentedly. Their hearts pounded in time. Ben was being reckless, and she was allowing it, and they both hated themselves for it but…

Rey pulled back from him. He immediately missed the contact, her warmth on his neck. She kissed his nose first, and he shuddered as she peppered a few kisses on his cheek, and then the corner of his mouth. Every kiss felt like more than he deserved, but nothing could prepare him for how it felt when she finally pressed her lips against his.

It was electric. Dizzying and unfathomably perfect. Her lips still tasted salty from tears, but he wasn’t deterred. He pulled her even closer into his body and she ground against him automatically. The contact made her moan into his mouth, and he took that opportunity to press his tongue into hers. The kiss was sweet at first, but then it devolved into something hungry and lusty, something only months that felt like decades of repressed feelings could inspire. She was grinding against him intentionally now, and Ben was sure that he’d spend himself right there in the front seat if she didn’t stop.

His hands moved from her waist to her hips to still her. She grumbled against him, but didn’t break the contact of their lips. In fact, she somehow deepened it to make up for her inability to grind herself into him.

He never thought he would be the one to disengage, but he finally did. He turned his head and breathed so hard that it made condensation appear on the window. He willed himself to calm down while Rey crumpled into his chest from the intensity of the passion. He moved his hands from her hips back to her waist and pressed her into him as hard as he could without hurting her.

“I’m sorry. If we didn’t stop there, I wouldn’t have stopped, and this isn’t… this isn’t where I want to do that.”

Rey nodded, managing a breathless but snarky response regardless of how dizzy she was. “Where do you want to do it?”

“My bed.”

“Then let's go to your place.”

Thirty seconds later, they were both back in their appropriate seats, buckled in safely and racing to Ben’s apartment.