Chapter 1: everything i wanted
Ben didn’t even bother to turn around to see who the voice belonged to, he already knew. With a roll of his eyes, he moved a couple of inches to the side but never kept his eyes from the stars above.
As soon as she was beside him, he blindly handed over a slice of lukewarm pizza that she immediately began to enthusiastically devour.
“Han and Leia say hello,” Rey with a muffled, pizza-induced mumble and a smile.
“That’s kind of them,” Ben chuffed with a shake of his shoulders. His parents loved her - truly. It wasn’t surprising, considering that Rey Sands had been a fixture in the Organa-Solo household for as long as he could remember. So, when he sat on the roof like he did most nights when the weather permitted him to, they’d never bat an eye when his very best friend walked through the door and made her way upstairs like she owned the place.
Rey let out a soft sigh as she polished off the crust of her slice. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the way she chewed her lip and knew in an instant that something was on her mind.
“What is it?”
He knew her. Could read her like a fucking book. Being friends for their whole lives had to be good for something. Countless nights spent together and neither of their parents thinking anything of it when Rey would trudge down to eat breakfast in their kitchenette. It was what they did. It was what they had always done.
Her hazel eyes, somehow magically lit by the soft, pinkish glow on the horizon from the early summer dusk, looked so impossibly far away. Ben could tell that there was something on her mind and, in normal circumstances, he would have demanded that she say what it was, or tickle it out of her.
But they were older. They were different. Sort of.
Things were about to change in a big way and Ben could feel the weight of it over them, precariously hanging on a frayed rope the longer they waited to talk about it. They weren’t little kids anymore, skinny dipping in the pool before they knew any better not to.
A smile bloomed on her freckled face, but Ben could see through it. He couldn’t resist it though, he never could. It had got him in trouble more times than he could count, but it wouldn’t trade any of their wild memories for anything.
Rey looked over over the front yard of the Organa-Solo house and toyed with a strand of long hair around her finger as they watched the slow, staccato blinks of fireflies floating lazily over the perfectly trimmed yard.
“Do you…” She breathed, looking to him for a moment before scooting closer and laying her head on his shoulder, “Do you ever feel like we are on the edge of everything? Like...like we are about to get everything we ever wanted?”
“I mean...I guess so,” Ben shrugged, laying his cheek gently atop her head and slowly inhaled the smell of her flowery shampoo with a flip of his stomach. “Almost everything, anyway.”
They settled into a silence that was...normally a comfortable one. That wasn’t to say that it wasn’t , but Ben couldn’t help but think of everything that he wanted to say to her. Everything he’d been waiting to say, but surely was far too late to do so. There were so much bigger things ahead of them. Graduation. A summer that would certainly fly by as they prepared to, for the first time in their young lives, go their separate ways - chasing their dreams to opposite sides of the country. And Ben couldn’t bear to think about it.
Avoidance was key - a talent he’d inherited from his dad - and Ben was never more grateful for his busy schedule come fall of their senior year. There wasn’t time to talk about it. Not when they had grueling rehearsals and drills to run come August to prepare for the upcoming marching band season. The piles of music were a blessed distraction, requiring their memorization as both the section leader of the drumline - and the drum major of the entire band.
By the time Christmas rolled around, along with the expansive studies they’d piled on for their senior year and the holiday concert series that kept them busy in the evenings, there still hadn’t been the time or the place to say what he wanted to. He wanted to abandon the thought, leave it behind, and just be friends the way they had been as long as he could remember. But all it took was one look across the band from the trombone section to see her deep in concentration as she gently hammered a smooth roll on the timpani, silencing the sound at its peak with a soft press of her fingertips against the drumhead, and Ben was lost all over again.
It was wrong. He shouldn’t like her like this. But, the pucker of her brow as her eyes roved over the sheets of music on her music stand, the soft parting of her lips as she moved her body from drum to drum for each expertly played note, or the subtle smile when her eyes met his, told him that he didn’t just like her. He loved her.
I love you. I’ve loved you my whole life, and I don’t want you to go.
They spent Christmas break at his family’s cabin just north of the city, and Ben wished they could have stayed there forever, but it was too much of a coward to speak up beyond their normal. What was he supposed to say? What was he supposed to do? Look up from a vigorous snowball fight after he’d tackled her into a snowbank and tell her how beautiful the flush of her cheeks looked beneath her freckles? Was he supposed to tell her that all the quiet afternoons they’d spent curled reading up on the couch together - with her using his chest as a pillow - had meant so much more to him than she knew? That, with her so close-by and her soft body in line with his, he could barely concentrate beyond the beating of his own heart, let alone the words on the page.
There was a moment. One single second when, fresh from falling snow outside, Ben had reached out and wiped a single snowflake from her cheek with the pad of his thumb. Her breath caught in her throat and for an instant, he felt something , but like the way the delicate snowflake melted away from the heat of his touch, the moment did too. The moment was lost, squandered away by him, and all too soon, they had to drag themselves away from the blessed little retreat and go back to Chicago.
Three-Thousand Eighty One.
The number of miles from Harvard to UC Berkeley was staggering. He knew because he’d looked it up the moment his acceptance letter from the legendary university had arrived in the mail late that March. The weight of it in his hands was more than he could bear as he teetered on thrilling excitement and the urge to puke as soon as the thought of leaving her behind crossed his mind.
He wanted to hold onto the news for a few days, but the moment he saw her in the cafeteria the next morning, and the subsequent one after that, when she squealed and threw herself excitedly in his arms with a letter from Berkeley in her hand, Ben knew that they only had so much time left - but not enough to say what he truly wanted to say.
“It’s going to be fine,” Rey stated, reaching over him to capture another slice of pizza, “There’s email and Facebook, and I swear that I heard your mom say that she was replacing both of our Razr’s with iPhones as a graduation present so we can text with an entire keyboard.”
“Yeah...fine,” Ben nodded, giving her a tightlipped smile, lingering in her gaze for a moment as all the things he was too much of a coward to say swam in circles in his mind. She blinked slowly with a swallow of her pizza, parting her lips like, she too, had something she wanted to say, but promptly looked away with a broad grin.
“You going to Poe’s party tomorrow?”
Ben hung his head with a loud, drawn-out groan, “Do I have to?”
“Come oooon,” Rey elongated the vowel, giving his shoulder a push with her own, “It’s the last one of the year. Everyone will be there.”
“Yeah, cause hanging out with a bunch of jocks is what I want to do on a Saturday.” Ben gave her a pointed look.
“Ben,” Rey gave him the tiniest pout - the same kind of look that would always ensnare him in whatever wacky plans that would always eventually get them in trouble...the same one that he could never say no to - with a slow bat of her thick eyelashes, “I was really hoping that you’d go with me. We’ve always done everything together-”
“...not by choice…”
“We have always done everything together and,” Rey paused to breathe a soft sigh, “It’s the last time we get to do this...and I don’t want to do it without you. I know...I know that I’m gonna have to start to learn how...I just don’t want to if I don’t have to. And you’re right here. ”
“ Fine ,” Ben grumbled with a frown that just couldn’t stay put when Rey let out an excited squeal and threw her arms around him. His practically thrummed when she pressed her lips to his cheek and he let out a trembling sigh of his own, wrapping his arms around her in return with a quiet thought.
Maybe he should swallow his pride and stop pretending that he didn’t need anyone because he did. He needed her. And she was right there in his arms, so warm and so right...what did he have to lose?
“Shut up, it’s only been five minutes.”
“Five minutes that I’ve been out here waiting for you, Sands. Are you ever going to be on time for anything in your entire life?” Ben queried with a lopsided grin as he leaned against the old Chevy Falcon with his arms crossed over his chest as he watched her precariously walk across the lawn from her house to the Organa-Solo driveway next door.
“I’m not always late,” Rey answered with a frown, holding a ridiculously small purse type thing between her teeth as she reached behind her to lift her chestnut hair from her shoulders with a twist of a pencil.
“Watch,” Ben reached out and held open the door for her, “You’re going to be late for your own wedding.”
“Doubt it,” Rey answered with a sly grin, “For the right guy, I’ll be early.”
“First time for everything, I guess,” he grumbled, shutting the door as she swung her legs inside.
He walked around the hood of his dad’s precious car, thankful that he’d trusted him enough to take it out to a party, of all places. Sliding into the driver’s seat with a huff, Ben turned the key in the ignition with a roar and threw his arms across the back of Rey’s seat like it was second nature. Except, there wasn’t anything second nature about the way her bare skin felt against his fingertips, sending a frisson of goosebumps up his arms as he dexterously cranked the wheel and back out of the driveway.
They sat in silence with only the quiet hum of Snow Patrol playing from his iPod against the low thrum of the engine. He spared a single glance across the front seat and clenched his jaw when he fully took in what Rey was wearing.
“What is that?” He snapped, sharper than he intended.
“What’s what?” Rey cast him an amused look, and Ben couldn’t help but notice the black kohl that lined her lashes and made the green in her eyes stand out in a way they never had before.
“What are you wearing?”
“A dress,” she chuffed with a roll of her eyes.
“Steve who? ” He wished that he didn’t feel the scorching coils of jealousy in his chest, but the more glances he spared, the more unbearable they became. The converses on her feet were the same ones she always wore, faded and well-worn, but everything else was different. Ben could swear that her legs couldn’t possibly be as long as they looked, but they looked like they went on for miles and miles, too long for the impossibly short dress she wore to cover. He could tell that she was nervous about something, with the press of her knees together and the way she fiddled with the ruffled hem of her skirt - painted with soft swirls of turquoise and plum - but he couldn’t put his finger on what. “Who are you so dressed up for?”
“None of your business, that’s who.” Rey snapped, turning in her seat to look out the window with a whisper, “Maybe this was a bad idea.”
Ben could hear the thumping of the music as they pulled up to the stately brick home. Rey opened her own door and they walked in silence up to the front door. She leaned forward and pressed a finger to the doorbell, and Ben sighed in the heavy quiet that followed.
He turned to her for a moment and let her name fall from his lips, softer than it ever had before, “ Rey… ”
She lifted her eyes in an instant, lips parted softly as she waited for him to speak, and oh how he wished that he did, because as soon as he opened his mouth to speak, the door flew open.
“Talk later, okay?” Rey nodded towards him as Rose Tico reached out and tugged her inside. Ben watched her get sucked into the fold of people, wishing that, for once in his fucking life, he could turn off his brain and just dive in with both feet.
He stepped inside and milled through the crowd, idly wondering if the entire Class of 2007 had been stuffed into Poe Dameron’s house. Familiar faces filled every corner and time began to blur as he moved from conversation to dull conversation, always watching her from his vantage point above the crowd.
It began to thin as the night wore on and Ben couldn’t help but roll his eyes when Bazine Netal, the most popular girl in school, sidled up beside him.
“Hey Benny,” she cooed, brushing her fingers across the red flannel sleeve of his shirt as he stared into the bottom of his red Solo cup.
“What do you want?” Ben sighed with a purse of his lips before taking a sip of lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon. He offered her a glance, tearing his eyes away from the smattering of people that had gathered in the center of the basement living room.
Tall and willowy, it hadn’t really been a surprise when the head cheerleader had been offered a modeling contract. Sure, she was pretty, but she’d never spared Ben a second glance as they grew up, not until he’d made it through his awkward and gangly phase, grown out his hair to cover his ears, and learned that Crossfit was a great way to channel his simmering temper. He was still awkward, but in a completely different way - and most of the girls had noticed.
“We’re playing a little game, and I want you to sit by me,” Bazine purred, coiling her arm through his as she held up a dark green, glass bottle with a wiggle, “Maybe you’ll get lucky.”
“Oh,” Ben chuffed with a roll of his eyes as he watched the group of teenagers circle up, “Don’t you think we’re too old for these games?”
“You’re never too old for Seven Minutes in Heaven, silly,” she grinned up at him. It melted away when she realized that she wasn’t going to get him to participate - not the way she wanted - and she promptly handed off the bottle to a passing friend.
Bazine lingered by his side as the game began with a round of raucous cheers when couple after couple disappeared into a coat closet at the bottom of the stairs. He didn’t make a move to get away from her, too distracted by the sight of Rey in the center of all her other friends, laughing loudly at something one of them at said. His breath caught in his throat when she glanced towards him and her smile melted away.
Something in his chest clenched when he watched her eyes move to Bazine, and the way her arms were twined around him, and back to his face for a split second. Rey drained the rest of her drink and strode forward to snatch the blindfold from Kaydel who’d just breathlessly emerged from the closet with a red-faced Paige Tico in tow.
“My turn!” she reached up and tied the blue scarf around her eyes with a broad grin and pulled the door shut behind her.
Ben’s mind raced and his jealousy ran rampant as the bottle at the center of the circle spun, and spun, and spun, and spun , slowly coming to a stop on Poe Dameron. The cocky bastard let out a triumphant yell, and Ben felt sick when he thought of what he’d like to do to Rey in the darkness of that closet, blindfolded without any idea of who was in there beside her. He couldn’t let that happen. He shouldn’t. She was his best friend, his soulmate if that was a thing, and there was no way in hell that he was letting anyone get in that closet with her. Not anyone but him.
Before he knew what he was doing, Ben threw his hand out and abruptly fisted the fabric of Poe’s Hollister tee, flung him around, and pressed him against the wood-paneled wall.
“What the fuck, Solo?” Poe’s dark eyes were wide as Ben held him firmly in place.
“Fat fucking chance I’m letting you go in there with her, Dameron. Go back to your shitty beer and leave this alone. Leave her alone. ” Ben rumbled with a growl that would have raised the hair on anyone’s arms.
Poe threw his palms up in mock-surrender, “Jesus, fine . I won’t go in, but someone else will. She’s a hot piece of ass and there’s plenty of dudes who wanna hit that before she takes off to Berkeley. What are you going to do then, go hide in her dorm to keep her from getting laid? You know for a fact that it’s only a matter of time before she finds herself a hot ass boyfriend who isn’t afraid of her guard dog.”
Ben’s blood boiled as he looked from the jock’s smug face to the closed door where Rey was waiting.
“Aren’t you afraid that you’re holding her back?” Poe drawled with a sly smile, “I mean...if she was my best friend, I would have tapped that a long-ass time ago. So, what’s stopping you?”
Ben loosened the grip on Poe’s shirt for a moment, looking to the door again with a sigh.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Poe sneered and immediately wished he hadn’t when Ben’s eyes flashed and, with a furious swing of his fist, pummeled him in a single, dizzying punch. The room around them went wild, but he didn’t give them the satisfaction of giving in to a full-on fistfight.
He turned around with a glare and the room grew quiet when Rey’s voice called out through the closet door.
“Hello? You didn’t forget about me, did you?”
Ben let out a huff of air, releasing Poe from his iron grip as he pivoted towards the sound of her voice, rubbing the palms of his hands on his black jeans as he tried to quell the rapid beating of his heart.
The voices in the room were hushed for a moment, but the din steadily grew as everyone lost interest in the sudden rush of drama, quickly going back to things that were of greater concern, like the depth of the beer in their plastic cups.
Ben reached with a trembling hand to grasp the doorknob, taking in one last breath before pulling it open and stepping into the darkness. The door shut behind him with a perfunctory thud , sealing out the sound, and leaving them in at the center of a charged silence.
With every blink, his eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, and he was suddenly so painfully aware of how close they were to each other. There she was, face tilted towards the ceiling with her eyes hidden from view and a shy smile playing on her lips.
Ben watched her for a moment, unable to make a move, or even a sound, as he tried to think of what to do next. He knew what he should do - announce his presence, take off her blindfold, and save her the humiliation of his interference. Maybe they could go back to his house and spend the rest of the night on the roof outside his bedroom window like they’d done countless nights before. Maybe it would turn into one of their traditional sleepovers, where he’d roll over - like he’d done more times than he could count - and find her curled up in the bed beside him. Maybe, he’d pluck up the courage to wake her with a kiss, the way he always imagined he would whenever he would watch the early morning sunlight warm the contours of her face.
But he couldn’t.
He couldn’t because she was there right in front of him. Fate was there too, spurring him on as they stood in the darkness.
Her voice was the first thing to break the silence, delicate and wavering as she stood there in her feigned confidence, slowly twirling a stray strand of chestnut hair around her finger.
“You can kiss me, you know. It’s okay.”
Ben smiled softly in the darkness, slowly reaching up to gently brush the pad of his thumb over the curve of her bottom lip. Rey’s breath hitched at the intimate gesture, offering her own smile as she leaned into his touch. With her so close, and the moment so right, he wondered, just for a moment, if he just might do it. Just this once. Just a taste.
So he did.
Ben lifted his other hand and held her face in the palms of his hands, gingerly tilting her chin towards him as he ever so slowly leaned down and, with his heart thudding wildly in his chest, pressed his lips to hers.
In the span of a single moment, they rode the wave of the instantaneous thrill. Ben coiled his arm around her waist, relishing the feeling of the thin fabric of her dress beneath his hands, pulling her flush against his chest as he held firmly to the curve of her jaw, spurred on by the quiet whimper he summoned from her.
He knew kissing her would be good, but Ben never dreamed it would be as amazing as this. They were attuned to each other, effortlessly intertwined with each slow exploration of their hands and fluid movement of their mouths.
Rey was the first to deepen the kiss, letting her hands skim over the fabric on his chest as she bent up on her tiptoes and brushed her tongue over the seam of his mouth. Ben answered her with a low groan, reaching to pull her closer, but she balked at the sound and instantly tore herself away.
His heart hammered away like a runaway freight train as she tore the blindfold from her eyes and looked up at him with a wide-eyed look.
“ Ben ?”
Chapter 2: you’ve been the only thing that’s right
“Their touch was unexpected and so wonderfully warm. It caught Rey off guard and pulled a quick gasp from her lips. It was so warm and so right, she couldn’t help but lean into it as they swiped their thumb along the bottom edge of her lip. She could feel the heat of them radiating against her skin and, to her surprise, she never wanted to be kissed so badly in her entire life.
And, oh, did they kiss her.”
Bold of you to assume you know who wrote this. You’re always right...but will you be right this time?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was simultaneously the best and worst thing that had ever happened to her.
Rey had thought about what it would be like to kiss Ben Solo for as long as she could remember. Now that she had...she didn’t know what to do with herself. Now that they had, everything was different and she could barely stand it.
She wished she could go back to Saturday night, back to the darkness of that closet, tucked amongst old, musty coats, practically halfway to Narnia. Her actions were, surprising, but even more surprising was how she felt when she looked over the party and saw Bazine fucking Netal, the twat, coiled around Ben like English ivy climbing a brick wall. The sight of it turned her stomach and took her back to the moment only a couple hours before when she felt inescapably foolish for dressing up for him, hoping that he’d notice.
Ben did notice, but not in the way she hoped, and she found herself so unexpectedly self-conscious and practically naked on the seat beside him as they sat in silence on their way to the party she’d practically begged him to go to.
As soon as she closed the door in the closet, blind to everything, with only the muffled sounds of voices and the distant sound of Kanye West thumping away from upstairs, Rey regretted the rash decision she’d made. There was no telling who she’d end up in the closet with, forced to share seven minutes in Heaven.
Maybe it wouldn’t be all bad. Maybe it would be Rose and it could be something they’d laugh about later. Maybe it would be Poe, someone she might not mind kissing for a few minutes, but certainly not someone she’d want to speak to longer than she’d have to. He’d probably just want to get into her pants and that was something that was most certainly not going to happen.
Her heart hammered away as she waited, and waited, and waited , but the door never opened, and Rey started to fear that no one was coming. She was alone.
She called out the door, hoping that the tremble in her voice wouldn’t translate through the door. A moment passed. Then another.
Rey flinched when a burst of light seeped in through the blindfold she tied over her eyes. It was over as quickly as it began, but the air in the small space changed in an instant when she felt the larger than life presence that filled the other half of the small space.
Whoever it was, she could feel their eyes burning into her and, if she strained, maybe the sound of their heart...or was that her own?
They stood there in the charged silence for a beat before Rey spoke with a slow lick of her lips. Something needed to happen to help ease the lonely ache at the possibility that, whoever the bottle had landed on, didn’t want anything to do with her.
“You can kiss me if you want. It’s okay,” she murmured, hoping that it would trigger some conversation at the very least.
Their touch was unexpected and so wonderfully warm. It caught Rey off guard and pulled a quick gasp from her lips. It was so warm and so right, she couldn’t help but lean into it as they swiped their thumb along the bottom edge of her lip. She could feel the heat of them radiating against her skin and, to her surprise, she never wanted to be kissed so badly in her entire life.
And, oh, did they kiss her.
It started slow and so wonderfully soft, but the instant their lips touched, Rey wanted more . Her hands roved over a broad chest as he circled his arms around her waist and pulled her flush against him. The breath’s width between them was too far apart, and the kiss too chaste. Rey was more than happy to answer the call of the fluttering in her belly and push for more .
On the very tips of her tiptoes, with her arms wrapped over a pair of shoulders that were almost too high to reach, Rey decided to explore . With a sigh, she parted her lips and tentatively traced the tip of her tongue over the seam of his oh so kissable lips.
She must have done something right, because he answered her with a delectable groan of his own. A groan that was so familiar, it shook her to the core and she found herself tearing her lips away and tugging the blindfold from her eyes as soon as she heard it.
His name fell from her lips as she stood there, completely shellshocked, but it lasted only a moment before Rey pushed it all aside and lost herself to the feeling all over again. Like a wildfire has burst to life in her chest, Rey found herself hungrier than she had been before, and Ben matched her insatiability movement for movement.
It wasn’t what she’d imagined it would be like - it was more . So much more.
As each moment of their seven minutes passed, Rey wasn’t sure where his body ended and hers began, so tightly wrapped together, were they. Ben parted her lips with a soft tug of his teeth as he bent down and brushed his hands up the length of her thighs, hoisting her into the air like she weighed nothing at all.
Her back hit the ball of the closet with a thud , and Rey wrapped her legs around his middle as they chased the delectable feeling. A furious clash of tongues and teeth, kissing Ben was everything she ever wanted and nothing she expected.
She’d kissed other boys before, but there was something in the way he held her, something in the way he lingered in every single second, like he was memorizing the taste of her, like it was their once chance, and the second they’d step foot from the closet, everything would go back to the way it was before.
After the timer had gone off on their seven minutes, they emerged from the closet to a series of cheers and Rey swore she could feel his embarrassment before he tore off and went to God knew where in Poe’s house.
Rey wandered around, searching for him, and eventually found him outside, and alone - brooding next to the Falcon. His arms were crossed over his chest and his face sober, like he had been waiting for her and she was late... again.
They sat in a silence that was anything but comfortable on the way back home, and Rey couldn’t bear it. She chewed the inside of her lip as he leaned against his door with one hand on the steering wheel and the other in his long, dark hair. She knew something was up. She knew him and could read him like a fucking book.
“What’s wrong?” she murmured as she fiddled with the square edge of her clutch.
“Nothing,” he barked.
Another beat of silence passed and Rey wondered if she should just leave well-enough alone, but the silence was unbearable, and she needed to fill it with anything .
“Did I...did I do something?”
“Leave it,” Ben growled with a squeeze of his fingers around the steering wheel.
“ Ben, ” Rey sighed, leaning towards him to brush her fingers against his sleeve, “If this is about what happened…”
“Would you just fucking leave it ? For once in your fucking life Rey, just...you don’t have to talk something to death!”
Rey balked at his sudden outburst, and felt the tiny balloon of hope that had bloomed in her heart suddenly deflate like it had been left out in the cold. She curled her knees to her chest, watching the trees on the suburban street go by as she waited for the car to pull to a stop in front of their houses.
When it did, and Ben pulled the keys from the ignition, Rey tore open the door and began to storm across the lawn towards her front door. She heard him call her name, but the sound of it only angered her and fanned the flames of her hurt.
She spun on her heel and powered back towards him, pointing her finger to the center of his chest when he had the gall to stare at her with sad, puppy-dog eyes, like she’d slapped his nose with a newspaper.
“You’ve got some nerve, being mad at me! I may have gone in that closet, but you kissed me ! I’m sorry it was so bad for you, but, newsflash, I have always wanted to do that and I’m not fucking sorry, no matter how pissed off you may be!” No matter how she tried, she couldn’t keep the hot sting of her tears from falling with every word. Her hands trembled as she brushed them away with her fingers, not caring if she smeared her meticulously applied eyeliner in the process. “Let’s...can we just go back to the way things are? I love you, Ben . I don’t...I don’t want things to change.”
He stood silently in front of her, fingers pressed to his plush lips as he stared at his black combat boots as he slowly worked his jaw back and forth.
“I’m not mad at you, Rey,” he mumbled into the night air, so quietly that it blended in with the musical sound of the crickets playing their nightly song. “I couldn’t ever be mad at you.”
“Then what is it?” she sniffed.
“I’m mad...I’m mad at me.”
“Why?” Rey pressed again, growing more impatient with him by the second.
“None of this matters. I shouldn’t have done it. I had my hopes up for so long...and it’s just...it’s too late. You could be so happy, Rey…” Ben looked to her with a tremble of his chin, “You’re going to go to Berkeley and all these doors are going to open for you and you’re going to meet someone amazing and...and I’ll miss you more than you know.”
“You’re mad about Berkeley?”
“No,” he shook his head, looking at her like she was completely missing the point, but Rey couldn’t help but hear that her choice of school was the entire reason for how strange he’d been acting. “I don’t want to hold you back. More than anything...I just want to see you take a glorious bite out of the whole world and leave all of this behind . It’s...it’s so selfish of me to want you to stay…”
“I don’t understand...you’re going too…”
“Just as far away…”
“ I know… ”
“So...I still don’t understand,” Rey looked at the worn toes of her Converses before she threw up her hands in aggravation, “You keep your excuses, Ben. I don’t care. ”
She didn’t look back after that. He didn’t chase her. She didn’t text him goodnight. He didn’t call. She didn’t climb the trellis to get in bed with him like she wanted when she couldn’t sleep. He didn’t leave the light on for her to tell her that she could. She didn’t want to ride with him to school the next day. He didn’t wait for her, anyway.
They saw each other eventually and it was...odd. Odd in the fact that it was like nothing had changed - except everything had .
Rey had bumped into him - literally - when she emerged from the AP Chem lab, letting out a loud yelp when she made contact with his chest and he reached out to keep her from falling by curling his long fingers around her waist.
“Hey,” he breathed down at her.
“Hi,” she mumbled in return.
“Where you headed?”
“Ben…” Rey lifted an eyebrow and gave him a look.
“Wind Symphony, huh? Then lunch?” He nodded with a lopsided grin as they started down the corridor.
“Yep,” she answered with a perfunctory pop at the end of the word, “Same schedule as always. Same schedule as you. At least for three more days.”
It loomed like a shadow, weighing heavily on her shoulders as they walked side by side down the long hallway. The more she thought about it, the less ready she felt. She’d been thrilled beyond belief when she got her letter from UC Berkeley. The idea of beginning her adult life in California was more exciting than she could begin to describe. When Ben told her he’d been accepted into Harvard, she was so proud of him, she could cry. But...
Three-Thousand Eighty One.
She’d looked up the miles from Harvard to Berkeley as soon as she got home, then proceeded to sob into her pillow when she thought of just how far she was going to be from him, and how much the thought of it terrified her.
They’d done everything together. Everything.
Rey’s family had moved in next door to the Organa-Solos when she was six, and she could vividly remember meeting this boy at the playground who, she found out as they took turns on the swingset, shared a love of Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon. He shared his peanut butter and jelly, she gave him half her pop tart , and the rest was history.
She’d got him in trouble more times than she could count, but always made up for it by sneaking sweets to him when she’d climb through his window to the roof - a habit that began when they’d reached double digits, much to his mother’s chagrin.
A regular fixture at the Organa-Solo household, Rey loved Han and Leia like they were her own parents and laughed at their level of trust of her and Ben. They’d never bat an eye when she’d traipse down the stairs in the morning, stealing a piece of toast from Han before bounding out the door to get ready for school in her own room after spending the night in Ben’s.
Ben was her life. Her everything. And it hurt her than she cared to admit that things were about to change.
She’d noticed how, as the months went by and, the closer graduation got, the more they avoided the talk of the upcoming year. The longer they waited, the harder she knew their subsequent goodbye was bound to be.
The day after they kissed in the delectable darkness of their seven minutes in heaven, when Ben was so clearly pretending that nothing had happened, Rey couldn’t keep her eyes from him...or her thoughts away.
Normally, the weight of the mallets in her hands was a blessed thing, something to anchor her as she brought the bits of black between bars on a sheet of music to life on the head of a drum. Monday’s were hard for a lot of people, but she was finding hers more difficult than normal. There was a buzz in the air, a sense of anticipation of what was to come for the Seniors who were graduating at the end of the week. It was palpable. You could cut through it with a knife, but Rey couldn’t even bring herself to think about it.
She watched him from her perch at the top of the risers, tucked behind four copper timpani with the rest of the percussion section, counting her rests as their conductor waved his baton with each beat of the music. His dark eyes were narrowed in concentration as he deftly moved the slide of his trombone from position to position, and all Rey could think about as he played was his mouth.
The more she thought about it, her body responded in strange ways. Her belly twisted with a delightful curl as a stuttering sigh tumbled from her lips. She pressed her thighs together to try and quell the feeling, but, when her eyes kept going back to him, the more she wished that she could go back to that moment from Saturday night. That moment when everything changed.
She could practically feel his hands brushing along the curve of her thigh, how he held her so firmly, and she knew, without a doubt in her mind, that he’d never let her fall.
The ghost of his kiss was on her lips, and they burned with the memory of it. Rey tucked her bottom lip between her teeth with a swipe of her tongue and a sigh, blinking slowly as the slow, unfurling heat in her core grew and grew.
She missed her cue when she was too busy thinking of his mouth in other places. And again when she blinked and saw the image of them twisted up together in his bed in the back of her mind.
Rey was right. Everything had changed , and the thought of saying goodbye was getting harder than ever.
They went through the motions the rest of the day, going through each hour like it was muscle memory, but Rey avoided his touch as much as she could, afraid that, if she let him, she’d do something they’d both regret.
As soon as the Falcon pulled into the driveway, Rey hollered her goodbyes and excuses to Ben, and jogged towards her house without looking back.
Thankful for the blessed quiet in the empty house, Rey ran up the stairs and slammed the door behind her, using it as a steady place to lean on as she caught her breath, and let out the groan she’d been holding in since fourth period.
Her body was charged like a live wire and Rey didn’t know what to do with herself. She paced back and forth across the room, looked across the wall of polaroids tucked beneath a string of twinkle lights. Countless versions of Ben looked back at her, from a deep scowl to the broadest, goofiest grin.
He was everywhere, all the time. The memory of him was in the Papasan chair in the corner, always a little too big for any piece of furniture. He was leaning against her dresser, complaining that she really ought to be more organized as he picked through the mishmash of jewelry on top. No matter where she looked, there was another memory to remind of what had been...and what had changed since a couple days before.
Rey threw herself on the bed, and he was there too. She picked up the hoodie, black, like so many of his things, gingerly lifting it to her nose to breath in the smell of him that lingered in the fabric.
All at once, the thought of his body pressed up against hers flooded her mind all over again, burning her from the inside out. She squirmed with a sigh, pressing her thighs together to try and ease the dull ache between them, begging her body to just shut the fuck up, and leave her in peace.
She rolled to her back with a sigh, blinking slowly at the scrawl of handwriting on the ceiling. It summoned a lazy smile, sending it blooming across her face when she remembered when Ben told her he was going to write a secret message there and she thought he was joking.
I love you, Stupid.
There it was. The reminder of them . The reminder of his touch. Of his kiss. Of his body against hers.
Rey bit her lip as her eyelashes fluttered closed, finally delightfully alone, and able to think of him freely without the entire band there to watch her come completely undone by the thought of her best friend .
She skimmed her palms over the thin fabric of her tank top, something that was perfect for the balmy Illinois weather in early June, and thin enough that she sent a shiver down to her toes when, just for a moment, Rey imagined that her touch was Ben’s.
What would it hurt to explore the feeling if it was just her? What would it mean if she thought of him?
Without waiting to think about it any longer, Rey let her body take control, drawing her hands down her flat stomach to her jean shorts, wasting no time to flip open the button. Tucking her thumb into the waistband, she shimmied them down, just enough that she could reach the peak of her sex. It ached before she touched herself, pulling her hand away to dip her fingers into her mouth for a moment before hurriedly diving back down below.
“ Ah …” she sighed with the first, tentative swirl of her fingers over her clit, tilting her head back with a low sigh as she dipped her fingers lower and back up again. Rey was no stranger to touching herself, but it had almost always been after reading a steamy piece of fanfiction about her favorite ship, never about a real person. Her cunt ached more than it ever had before - an ache that only seemed to grow, no matter how she chased the release she so desperately craved.
Cramming her eyes shut, Rey rolled her hips against the heel of her hand, hoping that including the rest of her body in the dance would help to move things along. She wound her fingers over the tender bud, gasping softly with every zing of pleasure, but it wasn’t quite enough. She needed something - a catalyst - and Rey knew exactly what it was.
“ Rey .” She heard his low, rumbling voice in her head and, with a whimper, Rey allowed herself to see the vision of him in her mind. She allowed herself a moment to imagine what could be - what she wanted - and let it unfold in its entirety in her mind.
In her mind, Ben took the lead, coiling his hands around her waist, slowly pulling her dress from her body as he peppered her shoulder with molten kisses. The thought of it sent a shiver ricocheting across her entire body. It was working, for now, so she continued on.
The vision of him lifted her feet from the floor and laid her across her bed, roving his mouth over hers as his hands mapped every inch of her skin on their way to her core. The pleasure built in her core with every slow swirl of her fingers around her clit, growing to a higher level with each second she lingered in her reverie.
She was getting closer, she could feel it, and the imaginary version of Ben was spurring her on. He carried her closer, holding her hand with his own as she explored her body, dipping her fingers through her soaked folds, riding the wave of pleasure as she delved her fingers inside. With a roll of her hips against the heel of her hand, Rey let out a quiet whimper, gasping for breath as the thought of him touching her body pushed her over the edge.
With a muffle cry into her pillow, Rey’s body jerked as she tumbled down from her peak, breathless and reeling as she rolled to her back and looked up at his handwriting on the ceiling.
She was completely, royally, fucked. And completely, totally, in love with her best friend.
A big shoutout to Snow Patrol, for being awesome and filling my imagination with words.
Chapter 3: never be the same
As she hammered away at her snare, spinning her sticks between her fingers between sixteenth and thirty-second notes, Rey idly wondered if she had the best view in all the band. Ben stood at the front, dressed in his crisp, black drum major’s uniform with the brim of his shako pulled low over his face. The voluminous plume atop his hat bounced with every precise movement of his arms as he conducted the band in crisp, sharp beats.
She lived every moment of her life to the steady beat. Her hands were always moving, always tapping to the never-ending cadence in her mind. Even the beat of her heart lent itself to the bob of her head and the timing of her feet, but Rey was always happiest with a drum harness on her shoulders with the weight of her snare pressed against her abdomen, and her sticks in her hands.
The drumline was her team. They played so seamlessly together that, sometimes, it felt like they shared one train of thought. If she thought about it, Rey kinda wondered if they actually did - it was that same rhythm that coursed through her that surely wound its way through the rest of them.
Rey couldn’t help the smile from her face that she normally kept somber beneath the brim of her shako, but the beat of the bass drums thundered through her chest as the snare line expertly pivoted in a windmill as they hammered out note after nimble note at a dizzying pace.
Her feet moved like lightning, practically gliding over the gymnasium floor as the Corellia High School Marching Band gave one final performance at the end of the year pep rally. The enthusiasm of the student body was contagious, and Rey couldn’t help but laugh when they screamed in a collective roar when the snares all tossed a stick down the line with a descending snap of their heads.
They loved to put on a show, and Rey reveled in every second of the electrifying feeling it gave her.
As she hammered away at her snare, spinning her sticks between her fingers between sixteenth and thirty-second notes, Rey idly wondered if she had the best view in all the band. Ben stood at the front, dressed in his crisp, black drum major’s uniform with the brim of his shako pulled low over his face. The voluminous plume atop his hat bounced with every precise movement of his arms as he conducted the band in crisp, sharp beats.
Rey met his eye for a split second, and her heart did a flip when the corner of his mouth twitched into a semblance of a smile. Ben always kept a military precision when it came to his role as the Drum Major. He was a natural-born leader who took the weight of the responsibility of his band seriously. So seriously, that all the Freshmen shook in their boots when Ben walked into the band room.
It never failed to make Rey laugh when she saw how serious he was around everyone. Everyone but her.
They’d gone through the motions again that day, sticking to the same routine as always, but there was the excited buzz in the air leading up to the pep rally that Rey couldn’t ignore. She’d been looking forward to it for weeks, wishing that rehearsals and drill runs would last just a little bit longer, and allow them more time in the life they’d known for the last four years.
Rey had already auditioned for Cal Band, the legendary marching band for UC Berkeley, and had made it out on top - completely overjoyed to learn that she’d don the black and gold uniform as a member of the battery in the same role of snare she so loved to play.
It was going to be fun. It was going to be an adventure, to be sure, but none of it would compare to the time she’d spent with the Marching Rebels, donned from head to toe in black and orange, with him by her side.
Her heart clenched in her chest as the thought of them going their separate ways crossed her mind, but Rey powered through, pushing on with the steady flow of the rhythm. Her focus was centered on the beat, the syncopated staccato clicks of her stick on the rim of her drum, pulling it in for an open roll before charging forth with an intense cadence that made the crowd roar.
With a roll of her feet and shoulders square, Rey kept her eye trained on Ben, slowly licking her lips as the beat increased and they moved into another fast windmill drill across the floor. Her heart hammered along with every step, perfectly in tune with the rapid one-and-two-and-three-and-four as her focus started to slip.
Flashes of his face went through her mind. His hands on her waist. Her fingers in his hair. Their mouths moving and shifting in the most intoxicating way. Her body thrumming and begging for more. But then, in the blink of an eye, Rey was thinking of other things his body could do. How it would feel beneath the fabric of his impossibly soft tee shirts. What his hands would feel like on her skin.
Rey blinked rapidly, looking down at the broken stick in her hand, wasting no time to throw it away and pluck a fresh replacement from the pouch on the side of her drum. She looked up and saw that Ben was giving her a quizzical gaze, silently inquiring if she was okay. With a subtle shake of her head, Rey gave him a silent answer that everything was fine.
Except it wasn’t.
The pep rally continued on like normal, and the drumline finished with an explosive precision, with stick tricks one after the other as the student body went wilder with each one. They tossed them from hand to hand, spun them over their heads, flipped them high into the air, spinning them from end to end as they moved in a wave of motion - like human dominos - bringing the performance to close with a wild, challenging rhythm that had taken them weeks to master.
The joy they felt once they’d marched, stone-faced, from the gymnasium to a chorus of cheers from their audience, was palpable, and Rey wished she could bathe in the feeling. She met Ben’s eye for a moment in the gleeful cacophony before she was pulled away in the river of teenagers heading down the hall and back to the band room.
They played a raucous cadence, shouting a chant with the beat that echoed through the empty hallways as they casually marched along.
Little by little, as it was the end of the school day, and graduation was just two days away, the members of the band slowly shirked their uniforms and placed their instruments back in their cases to carry them home.
Like always, Rey lingered behind, always one of the last to leave, with Ben by her side. As the Drum Major and peer leader of the band, he stayed behind, offering high fives to the youngest members that were brave enough to approach him. He’d wish them a good summer and instruct them to study hard, and not forget to practice.
Rey disappeared into a storage room at the back of the band room, shutting the door softly behind her. She let out a groan as she lifted her snare from its harness, letting out a sigh with a stretch of her neck once she was free from the weight as she lovingly placed it in its storage crate. The next thing to go was the harness, and once it was hanging on the wall, Rey let her fingers linger on the head of the snare, and let a whoosh of air past her lips as she whispered a silent goodbye to her partner for the last four years.
She pulled the thick, woolen uniform from her shoulders, shivering when the cool, air-conditioned air hit her balmy, sweat-sheened skin. It was an odd thing, hanging up the livery that had been such a huge part of her life one last time. Things were coming to an end, and it left a bittersweet ache in her heart the more she thought about it.
After letting her coveralls fall to the floor, Rey tugged on a pair of tattered jean shorts and a faded yellow crop top. She knew the shorts were too short and the top too “revealing” for school rules, but she was so close to the end, she couldn’t bring herself to care.
Rey bent down, curling her fingers beneath the lid of the drum crate and, with a trembling sigh, placed it over the top of her snare. She chewed her bottom lip between her teeth as she brushed her fingers over the top before collecting her hung uniform and stepping out the door.
A smattering of people were left as the band directors talked animatedly in the band room office, and so was Ben.
He’d changed back into his street clothes - a black tee that was so stereotypical for him, and a pair of black jeans - and sat on the edge of a desk with a book balanced on his knee as he lazily swung his faded Vans back and forth.
As she closed the door behind her, Ben looked up from her book and offered her a small smile.
“Hey,” Rey murmured, chewing her lip for the thousandth time that day with a sigh, turning away to stride across the room and hang her uniform on a rack. With her hands now empty, she let out a sigh and softly traced the seam of her mouth with the tip of her finger, waiting for a moment before turning around to face him again.
He’d closed the book and had pulled himself from the desk, and closer to her in the process. A flush crept up her cheeks as he stared at her, and she thought - just for a moment - that maybe he could see what she was thinking, and he could tell what she’d done the previous afternoon.
A charged silence sizzled between them as Ben took another step closer.
“You did great today.”
“Thanks. I’m gonna miss these guys, we’re really in tune with each other, you know?” Rey scrubbed the back of her neck with her trembling hands before reaching into her back pocket to pull out her sticks. She squeezed her fingers around them, feeling instantly comforted by the weight of them in her hands as he took another step closer.
“You mean, like we’re in tune?”
Rey reached up and hugged her arm to her side, drumsticks in hand, peering up at Ben with a nervous swallow, “Yeah. Like us.”
“Can we...can we talk about this?” Ben pressed, looking from side to side at the few students who loitered in the different corners of the band room, split off into pairs, absorbed in their own conversations.
“Um….yeah. Sure, we can...talk,” Rey shifted from side to side on her feet, so oddly aware of the anxious clamminess of her hands.
“Not here,” he growled, eyeing her from top to bottom before reaching out with his hand, twining their fingers together and hauling her to the back of the cavernous room. He yanked open a door into a back hall that connected the adjoining, secondary band room, and through another that led to the backstage of the school’s auditorium.
He pulled her along at a dizzying pace, towing her up a towering staircase along the furthest wall, stepping through the - surprisingly unlocked - door at the top, and into the darkness. Rey’s ears buzzed as their footsteps echoed down the empty, narrow hallway that was dimly lit by a green exit sign at the end.
Rey lifted her hand to shield her eyes from the sudden wash of light when Ben flipped the switch, illuminating the long line of round, globed lightbulbs atop the wall-length mirror. She’d been in the dressing rooms above the band room before, but never when this was this empty, never when it was this quiet, and never as alone as she was with Ben.
They stood frozen, filled to the brim with fear and excitement as the air between them lit like a live wire, rigged and set to blow. The sound of their breathing, somewhere between ragged and trembling, filled the room with an echo, as they both waited for someone to break the silence and speak.
Ben looked at her an odd way, like they shared a single thought, like he’d been thinking about their time in the closet at Poe’s house as much as she had - in exactly the same way. His chest rose and fell with each labored breath, stretching the fabric of his black tee over his broad chest with each one. Rey’s eyes shifted for only a moment, before turning her gaze back to him as she parted her lips to speak.
She never got the chance to say anything beyond the quiet whimper that fell from her mouth when Ben surged forward and took her in his arms, sending her drum sticks to the floor with a clatter, and devouring the sound of her voice in a searing kiss that would be ingrained in her brain for the rest of her life.
For a moment, Rey idly thought that it was like the closet all over again, but it was so, so much more. In an instant, Ben curled his hands around her, lifting her from the floor in a single, fluid motion. His mouth never left her for a second, twining his tongue hungrily with hers as he blindly stepped to the counter beneath the mirror.
Rey let out a quiet grunt when the bare skin on the back of her thighs touched the cool surface of the counter, but Ben stole that sound, too. Her breath came in sharp waves as they moved from moment to moment. Her mind buzzed as her fingers twined themselves in his hair, holding him more firmly as she eagerly explored the taste of his kiss.
Things moved quickly, more quickly than she ever thought would ever actually happen. Everything had been in the precious confines of her own imagination, as she curiously explored what her body had urged her to do. But it wasn’t her imagination. It wasn’t a dream. Ben was there, warm and right in her arms, kissing her soundly in the muted quiet of the darkened dressing room.
Ben’s mouth began to wander, leaving a trail of kisses along the line of her jaw, nipping softly at the supple skin as he mapped every freckle with his mouth. They let their bodies lead the way, listening to every hormone-fueled desire as their hands began to wander beyond the boundaries of their friendship.
Rey let out a quiet gasp when his hot hands dipped beneath the fabric of her top, skimming gently over her electrified flesh, exploring further until his thumb oh so softly traced the curve of her breast.
Ben pulled away for a breathless moment, leaning his forehead against hers with a ragged breath, asking a silent question as his hands stilled. Rey’s entire body practically vibrated with the thrilling excitement and nervous anticipation. She’d never been kissed like that, not in a way that felt like it did with him, and she’d certainly never been touched, but now that she had, all she could think about was more.
She didn’t need to think about it. She was sure.
She loved him .
She loved him and wanted to show him, wanted to lose herself to the feeling, eager to make up for lost time, and just... be.
Rey let out a quiet sigh, chewing the inside of her throbbing lip as she lifted her hand to brush her fingers against his mole-speckled face. A smile played in the corner of her mouth for a moment as they remained in the charged silence, with only the sound of their breathing and the beat of their hearts to show the passing of time.
Stretching the moment out, Rey leaned forward, letting her eyes linger on the supple curve of his mouth, before giving him an almost imperceptible nod. Ben let out a quiet gasp as Rey surged forward and brushed her lips against his. There wasn’t anything innocent about it. It was hot - fiery, even - and full to the brim of every stray, decidedly un- friend-like thought she’d ever had of him.
They’d been there for ages, sneaking in when she’d least expect it, causing her doubt and swirling vats of guilt for even thinking for a split second that he’d ever feel that way about her. Rey had never been so relieved to be wrong, and never been so remorseful that she’d never been brave enough to try before it was too late.
It didn’t take long for the fury of their explorative kissing to take a turn. Ben took Rey up on her invitation to touch, grazing his hands over her body, and pulling the tiniest mewls that she never thought she’d be capable of making as he rolled her pebbled nipple between his thumb and forefinger.
Rey unceremoniously tore at his tee, letting out a quiet titter of laughter against his mouth when she struggled to pull the fabric from his shoulders. Her heart hammered harder and harder with each passing second as they teetered on the edge between something and everything , wondering idly if someone was bound to go looking for them - and what position they would find themselves in if they were caught.
She’d seen him before, more times than she could count, and always held an appreciation for his body. But now. Now that she could look and touch to her heart’s content, Rey thought he was more beautiful than should be allowed. Reaching out with the tips of her trembling fingers, Rey brushed her hands along the center, taking a detour to map the space between his moles with the tip of her finger, slowing down as she came to his belly button.
Lifting her eyes to meet his burning gaze, chewing her lip with a hum as she let her touch wander to the trail of hair that led below the waistband of his jeans. Ben closed his eyes with a gravelly groan, reaching for the hem of her shirt with a questioning gaze.
“Is this okay?”
Rey looked up at him, trying to think of all the things she wished they would have done, and what she wanted to do with him now that their feelings were - sort of - out in the open, and for a second, she thought that her hopes were so high, that his kiss might kill her. And oh , what a wonderful way to die it would be.
When Rey gave him a nod, Ben coiled the hem around his fingertips, and gently pulled the fabric from her shoulders. Rey lifted her arms in the air, elegantly pointing the tips of her fingers like a ballet dancer as Ben drew it over her arms and threw it hastily on the floor with his own.
“God…” Ben breathed, swallowing nervously as he looked over her body. A blush crept up beneath her freckles as his eyes burned her to the very core. Rey moved to cover herself, but he still her hands with his own, reaching out to cup the curve of her cheek in his palm. “Don’t. Please.”
“I’ve...I’ve never…” Rey stuttered, suddenly more shy than she’d even been in her entire life.
“It’s okay. We’re okay,” Ben leaned down to trace the tip of his nose against hers, “Just...tell me what you want me to do, okay?”
“O-okay,” Rey nodded, lifting her chin to press her lips to his. The kiss was different before. It was slow and soft, and everything they needed at that moment. They lost themselves to the feeling of it, leisurely exploring the sensation as he drew the tip of his tongue against hers.
Rey melted into his touch as it lingered on her face, his thumb tracing the softest circles against the tender flesh behind her ear. Her hands blindly skimmed over the broad plains of carved muscles, tracing a line down the center of his spine, to pull him closer to her so that there was no space left between them and she could feel the steady rhythm of his heart against her breast.
The rhythm. The center of her daily universe, Rey found it all things, and her delectable tryst with Ben was no exception. The cadence of his kiss was something she could get used to, losing herself to the beat as they found themselves more closely intertwined than ever.
The tempo of his touch was intoxicating, her body craved more of it, urging her to push harder, explore further, and see just how far they could go. Rey followed the feeling of the scorching heat that furled out in her belly. In tune, as they always were, Ben didn’t miss a beat when Rey breathlessly tore herself away from their kissing to whimper against his lips.
“I want you to touch me.”
Ben leaned towards her, his breath ragged and uneven as he looked down at her with a flush creeping up his own fair cheeks.
“Are...are you sure?”
“ Ben ,” Rey breathed, reaching down to tear open the button of her jean shorts before clumsily shimmying them over the curve of her ass, “There’s so much that’s about to happen, so much we don’t know. But this . This is the only thing I am sure of right now. So please, I am begging you... touch me .”
He answered her with a wordless growl, smiling softly in the dim light before leaning down to devour her mouth in another searing kiss. Always one with an inquisitive mind, and eager to learn, Rey idly wondered how much research Ben had done in his spare time. She knew that she’d done her own form of exploration, but his touch on her body was so much more than she was ever able to do on her own.
With his larger than life hands planted on her hips, Ben curled the waistband of her underwear around his fingers. Rey let out a trembling breath as he kept his eyes glued to hers, leisurely drawing the already moist fabric down the long length of her legs.
Her body was practically vibrating when he tugged her hips forward on the counter, pausing for a moment to get her approval before he went any further.
Rey nodded, tilting her chin to capture his mouth in a kiss, moaning against his lips when his fingers brushed ever so gently against the soft nest of hair at the apex between her thighs. She tore her mouth away for a moment to catch her ragged and broken breath, pressing her lips together with a sigh as his touch explored between her soaked folds and he slowly - so slowly - eased a single finger inside.
Shoulder quaking, Rey pressed her forehead against his shoulder when he stilled.
“Are you okay?” Ben whispered, tentatively swiping the pad of his thumb over her clit in a way that made her body shudder in the best kind of way.
“Better than okay,” she whispered, trailing the tip of her nose against his ear, hungrily licking her lips as she panted, “More please.”
“Mmm,” he answered her with a growl, drawing his jaw against hers to bring them together for another kiss, entangling his tongue with hers as he pressed another digit in with the first.
Rey’s focus was broken, she was sure of it. Her head spun, and the beating of her heart was practically out of control, hammering away like a runaway train as her body took the wheel, and she found herself doing things, and making noises that she was sure existed only in the digital prose of her favorite fanfic.
Ben was so gentle, so sweet in his touch, moving slowly with every whimper inducing thrust of his fingers inside her core as he continued tender ministrations against her aching clit. Rey wasn’t sure who she was, or where she was , perhaps floating somewhere amongst the ceiling as her head rolled back against the mirror and her knees drew themselves skyward, eager and aching for more of his touch.
She tried to quell the sound of her moans with the back of her hand, but they echoed around the room all the same with every heaving movement of her breasts with each labored breath.
“God, you are so beautiful, babe,” he rumbled against the column of her throat, “I love the noises you are making, but you gotta be quiet.”
“What?” Rey gasped with a coquettish grin, “Afraid...afraid that we are going...going to...to get caught?”
“Not exactly,” he dragged his mouth against the line of her jaw, increasing the pace of his actions, “If you keep on like that...I’m afraid that I am going to lose it…”
“L-lose it? Ahh, god, I...I...this... Ben… ” Rey’s speech became completely incoherent when he pressed harder against the sensitive bundle of nerves, sending a deliciously foreign shiver through her body. Something inside her had always been there, but Ben had awakened it, and Rey was suddenly afraid of the feeling that was building in her core.
Her heart hammered in her ears as the sensation grew and grew, before cresting like the top of an icy winter wave on Lake Michigan. She came crashing down with a cry so loud, Ben’s eyes bolted to hers and he silenced her with a kiss and a stuttering groan of his own.
“ Fuck ,” Ben grumbled, his shoulders quaking with a shudder as he let out another deep, echoing groan into his shoulder. He carried her down from her release - her first orgasm with someone else - pumping his fingers to draw out the last of her quiet mewls.
“Is...is that all?” Rey keened, lifting her lips to pepper his face with a series of the softest kisses, “Can we...can we try something else? Can I touch you?”
She was so eager to explore, to press on and see all the places they could go, like the grownup version of the Doctor Suess book all the teachers handed out at graduation, but so much better , but Ben answered her with a disappointed look.
“I’d love to, Sweetheart, but…” he slowly licked his lips as he drew his hand away and leaned down for a lingering kiss, “I think it’s time we go home. We’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
Like she’d deflated, Rey felt the instantaneous sting of tears behind her eyelashes as Ben bent down and gathered up her clothes.
In her joy of their coming together, she’d almost forgotten about their coming apart.
Like always, so effortlessly in tune like they always were, Ben hooked a finger beneath her chin and lifted her gaze to meet his, murmuring softly before sealing his promise with a kiss.
“It’s going to be okay.”
Chapter 4: sucker for the way that you move
With one taste, Ben Solo was in her blood, in her veins, and in her head. She was a sucker for him in all the best ways, forever in love. All it took was a single touch, and Rey knew that she would never be the same.
I am so happy that you are enjoying your fic.
Can't wait to see if you guess me right.
The first and only
Thank you Kirsten for the moodie! I love it!!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rey pulled at the duvet, curling it to the center of her chest as she rolled towards the moonlight that was streaming in through the window. A quick glance at the clock on her bedside table told her that she surely should be sleeping, especially since the rest of the world was, and her graduation would happen the next day whether she was well-rested or not.
She’d run the words of her Valedictorian speech over and over in her head until she was afraid that she knew it too well .
Her black cap and gown hung from the door of her closet, hung with a golden stole and a collection of colored cords that represented her entire high school career. It served as a constant reminder of the monumental event that was about to take place, as they closed that chapter of their lives, looking forward towards bright futures with endless possibilities that awaited them.
But, all Rey could think about was him.
Perhaps, that was the reason for her sleeplessness. Maybe it was the memory of his lips on hers, the unexpectedly illicit sounds he’d pulled from her mouth when they forever crossed the line that best friends should never cross. Not unless you were Ben Solo and Rey Sands. It could have something to do with the smile he gave her when they’d emerged back in the band room, forever changed from the people they were before. Maybe it was the fluttering in her heart when he kissed her in the front seat of the Falcon when he drove her home.
No matter what it was, none of those things, or all of them , Ben Solo was a fixture in her mind as she tossed and turned, finding only sleeplessness at every turn. In a tangle of covers, Rey let out a sigh, staring at the ceiling as sleep continued to elude her.
With a few blinks, her eyes adjusted on the spot on the ceiling where she knew Ben had written her those few words in the handwriting that was so unmistakably his. They’d been there for months, serving as a reminder of their friendship that she treasured more than life itself, but as she stared at the words, something became a little clearer.
I love you, Stupid.
Rey toyed with a strand of her hair, sliding one foot lazily over the other with a tilt of her head as she read them again.
I love you, Stupid.
He loved her.
She loved him.
They loved each other.
Rolling to one shoulder, Rey tilted her head just right so she could see Ben’s bedroom window next door. It was dark, with the exception of a solitary lamp that cast a dreamlike glow into the dark space between the two houses.
One that had nearly always been extended to her, and one she took him up on more times than she could count. But this time...this time it meant something else. It meant something more .
The nervous flutter in her stomach sent her head spinning in a dizzying blur. It was a feeling that she couldn’t ignore. Not anymore.
With another dreamy sigh, Rey rolled to her back, tucking her bottom lip between her teeth as she remembered the feeling of his kiss with a smile.
I love you, Stupid.
They wasted enough time, and they didn’t have any more to lose.
In a single, fluid motion, Rey threw the duvet from her bare legs, untangling herself from the nest she’d unintentionally built herself, sliding her feet to the floor with an anxious tremble of her chin.
She tiptoed across her bedroom, delighting in the feeling of her fuzzy rug beneath her bare feet as she made her way to the window.
It gave a sudden screech when she pushed it skyward, sticking in the frame from the increased humidity in the air with the oncoming summer warmth. Rey froze in a split second, thankful she’d got it open just enough to be able to slip out to the gable just outside her window.
Practically muscle memory, after twelve years of doing the same thing night after night, Rey slid down the eave to the trellis, making quick work of it as she made her way down. She laughed to herself when she thought of all the times she and Ben had talked about the creation of a bridge from one side of the fence to the other, offering an easy escape to the other whenever one of them would need it.
She hopped down into the moist grass and ran with a nimbleness so fair, that she might be a faerie amongst the fireflies, making her way through a loose board in the fence with a silent aptitude of someone who’d done it a thousand times before.
Mere seconds had passed by the time Rey made it to the trellis on the other side, climbing with the vines of an inky plum clematis as she drew herself higher and higher, until she was finally outside his window.
With a single look as his sleeping form in his bed at the center of the room, every ounce of anxious doubt she’d held in her mind faded away, and she knew in her heart she was making the right decision.
Pressing her palms against the cool glass, Rey lifted the pane and silently slid it upwards, just enough that she could slip her way in. A slow, quiet breath fell from her lips as she tiptoed across the dark rug, smiling softly when she saw the way he’d curled himself around a fistful of blankets in his sleep.
Tucking her thumbs into the waistband of her linen sleep shorts, Rey slid them over the curve of her ass, and let them fall silently to her feet as she willed her heart to quiet itself, even if just for a moment.
Rey grasped the corner of his dark duvet, lifting it ever so slightly so she could tuck her feet beneath and settle in on the mattress beside him. It bent beneath her added weight, jostling him just softly enough that it didn’t wake him.
A smile bloomed across her face as she reached out with a trembling hand, brushing her touch over the bare skin of his shoulder to curl her arm around his middle.
The gesture was simple enough, an old habit that would never die, and she’d usually curl up against his back, falling into a deep sleep with the gentle lull of his steady breathing, but tonight was different. Tonight was everything.
That afternoon had changed them , making their bodies so perfectly in tune that, as soon as her flesh brushed up against his, Ben began to stir.
He rolled over slowly, carefully lifting his elbow to sleepily gaze over his shoulder to look upon her face.
“Hey,” he grumbled, lifting his hands to rub the sleep from his eyes.
“Hey,” she whispered in return, letting her touch linger as he moved to his back.
“You okay? Can’t sleep?” Ben reached out and curled his fingers over her hand.
“Something like that, yeah,” she sighed, laying her chin over her hands on his chest, tilting her head to the side as they silently regarded each other.
“What is it?” Ben’s brow bent into a concerned pucker, blinking slowly in the muted light as Rey lifted herself from the mattress, and reached out to brush a stray strand of his dark hair from his forehead. She traced her touch down the long line of his face, lingering once she reached his mouth, just as a smile bloomed across her own.
Before she had a chance to change her mind, Rey leaned down and pressed a kiss that was as light as air to his lips. They parted softly when she drew herself away with an airy sigh, leaving only a moment before he bent his head up and stole a kiss for his own.
All at once, they fell into the slow, unhurried rhythm. Ben’s hands caged the bend of her hips holding her firmly as she swung her leg over the top of him, bringing them closer to taste him for fully.
Sitting up astride him, Rey crossed her arms in front of her chest, lifting the oversized Knights of Ren tee she’d stolen from him Freshman year, and tossed it blindly into the room behind her. Ben let out a low growl as he looked over her, reaching out to palm the curve of her breast in his hand.
Spurred on by the touch of her flesh, Ben wrapped his arms around her waist and deftly flipped her back to the mattress. He shushed her when she let out the softest giggle, silencing the sound with a kiss that could have kept her quiet forever.
Skimming the pad of his thumb over the curve of her jaw, Ben explored all the ways he could kiss her, all the ways he should kiss her, unhurriedly moving his mouth against hers with a slow twist of his tongue with hers.
Every moment they spent intertwined, with wandering hands and delectable kisses, filled her with every feeling in the book Rey was almost sure she’d always be waiting for. But Ben was there, so unbelievably unexpected, but everything she’d ever wished for when she’d blow out her birthday candles.
With every second that ticked by, the hungrier and more demanding their touch became, Rey gave a tentative roll of her hips, gasping softly when she felt the bulge of something hard against her core. Ben let out a low groan as she did it again... and again .
Oh , what a joy to know that she was affecting him too. Rey had a feeling when he’d dropped her back off at home that things in the dressing room had ended in a similarly explosive way for Ben as it did for her. The subtle flush in his cheeks was something she should have been more attuned to, but with all the overwhelming feelings they were experiencing, Rey was glad to have a second chance right then.
“ Rey, ” Ben growled, anchoring his forehead against her shoulder when she chased the feeling of his growing erection against her clit. Every part of her ached to be filled by him, to explore the next step in the exploration of their bodies, “I... I want to ...but…”
“ I want to ,” Rey’s voice was unwavering, unfaltering in the clarity of what she wanted - him. Them. Together.
The corners of his mouth quirked up into a lopsided smile, leaving no time to waste as he shirked his thin sleep pants from his narrow hips as Rey did away with her cotton briefs.
Ben rose to his knees, bending over her to his bedside table, clumsily rifling through the drawer with a swear until he came up victorious. Rey peered up at him though her eyelashes with a quiet giggle when he held the shiny, foil packet aloft with a victorious smile. A smile that faded away when he met her gaze for an instant before drawing his darkened gaze down the length of her naked body.
She should have felt shy. She should have felt the need to keep herself covered, but with Ben, it felt good to let him look upon her.
Her breath came in sharp, stuttering waves, filled with an unexpected courage as she drew herself up from the mattress, reaching her fingertips to his chest to still his movements and offer him a shy smile.
“It’s my turn,” Rey whispered, turning him around with a gentle push to get him to sit with his back against the headboard, keeping her eyes on him as she walked her hands down his abdomen.
Fed by a sliver of nervous doubt at her own capabilities, Rey leaned up and kissed him - something she was sure she could do until she died - and blindly drew her trembling hand to him. And oh . OH .
The skin was so satiny soft, and even though she had no idea what to expect, it certainly wasn’t that , but the sound that tore from Ben’s mouth when she touched him was enough to urge her on.
Rey couldn’t help her smile when Ben pulled away from her kiss and leaned his head against the headboard with a thunk as she curled her fingers around his length - or tried to - and tested the theory of if she could make him make other sounds, giving a hesitant pump with a gentle, but firm grip.
Ben closed his eyes and his mouth drifted open into a soft oh as Rey explored the things she could do to him, only encouraged by his body language as she carried herself further down.
She’d read so much - too much, probably - and had the image of her one true ship in her mind, practically an instruction booklet of all the things she was desperate to try, only now, she was the one twined with the words and the boy she loved.
Faced with the next step in her spur of the moment plan. Rey met Ben’s eye with a shaky sigh and a nervous smile as she ran her thumb over the head, chewing her lip to hold onto the quiet moan when she saw that - just like her body was for him - he was responding to her. Thick and weeping at the tip, Rey held his cock firmly in her hands as she anchored herself between his knees.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Rey fancied herself as someone who was fearless - mostly. At the center of the band, she’d lose herself to the task at hand, letting the rhythm surround her, taking it head-on without a care of how difficult it would be to master. This was just another new piece of music, sight reading at its best, and she’d almost always get it on the first try.
Praying that she would do it right, Rey remembered all the things she read and thought for a moment - just try - and slowly ran her tongue up the long length of his shaft. The sound that came from Ben nearly shook the bed, and made her smile, spurred on to take it further.
Ben’s hand found its way to her hair, tangling in the chestnut strands as she took him in her mouth, parting her lips around him to take as much of him as she could. With her hands wrapped around the base, Rey pressed on, twining her tongue around the sensitive head in a way that pulled a low hum from him. She bobbed her head slowly at first, closing her eyes to center herself in the steady rhythm of her ministrations.
His voice was gravelly, like he was barely hanging on, begging for her to still her movements and peer up at him through her lashes. She released him with a pop , laving her tongue over her lips to remember the feeling of him - the taste of him .
“Y-yeah?” She whispered in the muted light, still hovering where she’d so confidently anchored herself only moments before, “Was that okay? Did I...did I do it right?”
“A little too good,” Ben reached for her, pulling her to his mouth to kiss her soundly. She melted into him with a sigh, parting her lips to entangle her tongue with his as she rolled her hips against him without thinking. He let out a low groan, wrapping his arms around her waist to hold her firmly as he reluctantly tore his mouth away. “If...if we want to do what we want to do...we need... I need you to stop. You did it perfectly, babe. So fucking perfect...but I’m selfish, and I want more than that.”
“Me... me too ,” Rey whispered, moving slowly with him as Ben leaned forward from where he sat, carrying her gently - so effortlessly - to lay her back against the soft cushion of the mattress. She shifted her shoulders, wiggling down into the downy softness of his pillow as Ben rose up and tore open the foil packet with his teeth.
“Where did you get that?” she teased, lifting her foot to skim it along the curve of his firmly muscled thigh, unable to keep herself from touching him for long. “Did you just have it...laying around?”
A flutter of jealousy twisted in her gut, causing an embarrassed flush to creep up her cheeks when she thought of Ben doing things - doing these things - with someone else.
“Han gave it to me on my birthday,” he huffed out a quiet chuckle. His smile melted away as he focused on carefully rolling it over the tip, stretching it to the base until he brought his eyes back to her with a deep sigh, “I’ve been saving it for a special occasion.”
A special occasion. Her. Maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t as alone in her inexperience as she thought.
Like he could read her mind - so perfectly in tune were they - Ben bent down, brushing the warmth of his bare chest against hers to place a tender kiss on her lips. His dark hair hung in a curtain around his face, letting in soft shards of moonlight that streamed in through the window that lit the contours of his lovely face. Her body shivered when he reached between their bodies and lined himself up at her entrance, shoulders trembling as he pressed his lips together, slowly working his jaw back and forth as they teetered on the cusp between something and everything .
“Are...are you sure you want to?” Ben choked out, his dark eyes shifting rapidly between hers as he anxiously awaited her answer.
Rey lifted her hands to brush the curve of his cheek with her fingertips, and regarded him like he was something precious, something that needed savoring - lingering for only a moment before she tilted her head and gave him her answer with a kiss.
With their gazes glued together, Ben eased into her with a groan, coming to a halt when Rey arched her back and let out a quiet cry at the sudden burst of pain.
“Are you okay?” he croaked, “Did I hurt you? Do you want me to stop? We can stop…”
Rey held his shoulders as her body shook, gasping for air in the best kind of way as she adjusted to the foreign feeling. Never before had she felt so deliciously full . It was strangely terrifying and wonderfully exhilarating - and she wanted more .
Tucking her bottom lip between her teeth, Rey let out a breezy whine with a nod, capturing his mouth in a kiss with a needy roll of her hips, drawing him in further until he was sheathed to the hilt inside her.
They laid there together, their hearts thudding wildly in their ears with their broken gasps for breath intertwined. Rey kept her hands planted firmly on his shoulders, lifting her knees to better accommodate the size of him with a whimper.
Ben lifted his heavy head from her shoulder, his dark eyes burning into her intensely, practically vibrating from the intensity of their new, shared sensations.
“I...I love you, Rey. I always have.”
Rey blinked softly in the moonlight, unable to keep the tears from stinging her eyes and falling in bright, silvery tracks down her freckled cheeks.
“I love you, too. Forever.”
Ben let out a strangled laugh, pressing his forehead to hers with a groan, “I guess we should have done this sooner, huh? With Graduation and Berkel-”
“Shut up.” Rey whispered with a tremble of her chin.
“Shut up.” she repeated as a fresh wash of tears slipped from her eyelashes, “I don’t want to talk about that right now. I don’t even want to think about it. Can we...can we just be here, together in this moment without thinking about anything else ?”
“Sure, kid. We can do that,” he mumbled with the ghost of a smile hovering on his mouth.
Rey’s back arched with a honeyed whine as he began to move. She tried to quell the sound, but couldn’t control the shudder of unexpected pleasure that coursed through her once the initial pain faded away.
Ben silenced her with another kiss and a smile, “Be quiet, or we’ll get caught, or I’m gonna come. And I....I wanna make this last as long as we can.”
“I-I can’t help it...it feels... you feel ,” Rey closed her eyes, darting her tongue over the curve of her mouth, practically buzzing from the deliciously dizzy feeling that overcame her with the slow and steady rhythm of his measured thrusts.
Ben let out an animalistic groan, tracing his teeth along the long line of her shoulder as his movements began to slow, becoming more erratic with each one until, with a rush of air past his lips, he stilled.
“ Fuuuck. ” The word was more of a sound than anything else, and Rey couldn’t help but laugh as she slowly traced her fingertips up and down the length of his quaking spine.
“I’m sorry,” Ben grunted into the pillow behind her, rolling his face towards her as he collapsed on the bed beside her. He gathered her up in his arms, holding her firmly to his chest - so close, that Rey could feel the hammering of his heart against her breast. “Next time, it’ll be longer, I swear... I hope …”
“Next time?” Rey murmured, delicately connecting the space between the moles and beauty marks on his alabaster chest as she nestled her head against his shoulder. The sound of his voice reverberated deeply beneath her cheek, summoning an instantaneous smile when he responded in kind.
“Only if you want to,” he rumbled, reaching down to lift her chin and bring her gaze to meet his, “Now that we’ve... you know …”
“Yeah, that…” A pink tinge climbed up his fair cheeks, “Now that we have...you better believe that we are going to try that again.”
“But, graduation is tomorrow…”
“Shut up,” Ben repeated her words from a few moments before, leaning down to leave a lingering kiss on her lips, “Rey Sands, I love you , and the only thing I want to do right now is... not talk . Can we please not talk ? All I want is you.”
Rey’s head swam as his mouth began to wander, peppering the line of her jaw in molten kisses, wandering further and further down, stopping to map the freckles across the tops of her breast before venturing further down.
Her fingers tangled in her hair, letting out a quiet titter of laugher when he growled against her belly button.
“I have an entire box in that drawer, Redbull in my desk, and plenty of things I wanna try if you’d let me.”
“Wh-what kind of things?” Rey crooned, lifting her back from the bed with a quiet cry when Ben eased a finger inside her.
“ Plenty. ” He rumbled with a leisurely pump of his fingers. She could hear the smile in his voice and couldn’t help the flush in her cheeks as he added another, “Those fan fiction things you read are... educational , Rey. I have learned so much, and I plan on doing all of those things with you, if that’s okay.”
“I...you...you read them?”
“We do everything together, Rey. I know everything about you. Plus...it’s not like we haven’t done an all-nighter, before. Why not now? Why not like this?”
Rey lost all sense of coherent thought, offering him a lazy smile as she stretched her hands over her head like a cat in the sun, letting him carry her away on the waves of her pleasure.
They chased it together, exploring each other’s bodies with their mouths and their hands, learning everything they could in the subtle quiet of the moonlight. They made a study of each other, chronicling each moment of the time they had left, over and over, until the sun began to peek over the horizon and wash the room with light.
It signified a new day, a fresh start. The beginning of a brand-new adventure, painting the world anew, and them with it. They were forever changed, forever bound to each other, and Rey would be forever grateful for it.
Before his parents could wake, and not quite sure she wanted to brave interrupting their breakfast like she’d always done before, Rey stood by the window, back in her shorts and a new tee shirt she’d stolen from Ben’s drawer, peering up at his through her eyelashes with a sigh.
“I’ll see you later,” she whispered, reaching up on her tiptoes to press a kiss to his lips with a sigh, “Look for me, will you? I’m wearing a dress I know you’ll want to see.”
“I don’t doubt it, kid,” Ben’s fingers lingered on her waist, unwilling to let her go...not just yet. The sun beckoned her, anyway, blended with the musical titter of the birds in the trees, announcing to Rey that, no matter how badly she didn’t want to, it was time to leave.
One last lingering kiss and a firm hug, Rey ducked through the window, scaling her way to the edge of the roof where’d they’d spent so many sunsets, and vaulted herself to the grass, blowing Ben a kiss once she’d slipped through the fence and made it to her own window.
With one last glance back, Rey smiled when she saw Ben looking back at her. She let out a sigh, lifting her fingers to wave, unable to keep the thoughts of their looming graduation away any longer. Part of her wondered if they should have ever crossed that line, but she couldn’t bring herself to be sorry.
With one taste, Ben Solo was in her blood, in her veins, and in her head. She was a sucker for him in all the best ways, forever in love. All it took was a single touch, and Rey knew that she would never be the same.
Chapter 5: somebody to someone
“Now that it’s here, I wish that it wasn’t. Graduation means so many things. It means new beginnings. It means that we’ve accomplished something to be proud of, but it also means saying goodbye, looking forward to the future that is ahead of us. The part of me that wishes it wasn’t here, that today wasn’t today, is because I am not ready to say goodbye."
Thank you again to the Captain for the moodie!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rey sucked in a shaky breath, quietly fidgeting with the edge of her golden stole, folding and unfolding the satiny fabric over and over until she was afraid it might fray. She looked up at the stage, only half-aware of the words coming from the district’s superintendent as he stood at the podium.
It was finally time.
The moment of truth, the thing they’d been waiting for, been working for their entire lives thus far. They’d been prepared. They’d been taught. And now it was time to take that stepping stone into a brand-new life.
In only moments, Rey would step across the stage sprawled out in front of her. On one side, she was still a student. Still be a child. But on the other - on the other side of a waiting handshake and a piece of paper - she was an adult.
“Rey,” Ben’s voice shook her from her deafening thoughts. Shifting her gaze to his hand - so large compared to hers - holding hers fast and true as a cacophony of applause rang out from the rows upon rows of her fellow students at her back.
“What is it?” She leaned over with a whisper.
“They just called your name, Stupid. Get up there and give your speech,” his voice was low and hushed, pushing her from her seat as she rose to stand in a daze.
Rey looked back at him, wobbling just a little on her sky-high wedges that made her legs look amazing beneath her black cap and gown. He offered her a proud smile, rising to his feet to applaud louder than anyone else.
The turf of the football field felt like it might swallow her whole as she placed one foot in front of the other, climbing the handful of steps to the stage that felt more like a mountain to scale.
She smiled at the collection of faculty gathered along the back, dressed in elegant regalia - with velveteen gowns and tams atop their head with their own stoles to represent each of their departments. Rey had memories of them all, having had them teach her valuable lessons at one time or another. Without them, she knew she wouldn’t have made it as far as she did.
The podium loomed large, slightly terrifying and very daunting. Rey stepped up behind it, softly clearing her throat as she ran her fingers over the speech she’d prepared that was waiting for her upon polish maple.
With a thousand eyes watching her, Rey’s hands trembled, somewhere between sweltering and freezing cold. She tried to still them by pulling her long hair - curled in soft, chestnut waves - over her shoulders before lifting her gaze to meet Ben’s eye. And, suddenly, with him standing by her side - in the figurative sense - Rey felt like she could do anything.
“Wow,” The words echoed through the speakers on the pressbox of Rebel Stadium, ringing in Rey’s ears as she struggled to settle the furious beating of her heart, anchoring her hands on either side of the podium with a sigh as she continued, “Look at us. Who would have thought that, four years ago, we’d be sitting right here?”
“ I did!”
Rey, along with the contents of the entire, jam-packed stadium, let out a wave of laughter when Ben’s unmistakable voice rang out through the quiet.
“Well, some of us never thought this day would come. We prayed that it would come swiftly, marking each day with a big, red X as we counted down the days.”
She turned to glance behind her at the grinning faces of the faculty, “Doctor Holdo, among so many of the other faculty have been such an inspiration to me,” she stated before turning back to the sea of faces speckled in ebony and orange, “It’s been a long road. Such a long road. We’ve counted down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds...but now that it’s here,” her eyes met Ben’s, who stared back at her with a look of such pride, she thought she might burst into tears on the spot, suddenly reminded that, before she knew it - they would be apart.
“Now that it’s here, I wish that it wasn’t. Graduation means so many things. It means new beginnings. It means that we’ve accomplished something to be proud of, but it also means saying goodbye, looking forward to the future that is ahead of us. The part of me that wishes it wasn’t here, that today wasn’t today, is because I am not ready to say goodbye.
There have been so many friends we’ve made here, going on adventures of all kinds with every passing year. We came of age with Holden and Salinger, went to a party with Gatsby and Fitzgerald, and fell in tragic love with Juliet and her Romeo. But, not only did we make friends of the literary kind. I look at your faces, and I see characters of a different kind. I see a world so far superior to the ones on the page. I look at your faces and see a world populated with colorful characters that are not quite as eccentric as Miss Havisham, locked away in the attic in her wedding gown with her Great Expectations, but ones who are supremely real, made of flesh and bone. Ones who hold my heart in more ways than one.
These people - they know who they are - but they’ve shaped my life in unimaginable ways. They fill my life with love and light, who are my inspiration for everything that I do. They are the pillars without whom I could not stand.”
Rey stopped to catch her breath, suddenly aware that she had strayed far away from her pre-written speech, and was well on her way into foreign territory. She looked to Ben, who stared at her in an odd way, lips pursed as he hung on her every word with the glimmer of tears in his dark eyes.
Sucking in a deep breath, Rey pressed on.
“When we were little kids, our parents would always ask what we wanted to be when we grew up. I am certain that many of the answers were something like, a Zoologist, Astronaut, a drummer in a rock band,” she paused when everyone laughed, knowing full-well that Rey had practically been born with a pair of sticks in her hand. “They asked again when we were older, and a lot of the answers were probably a little bit different, changing with us as we grew older. Maybe they were a dentist, the President, or in my case... a drummer . Really, though, it’s okay if we don’t know. It’s okay if you still don’t know. I know that, now that we are “ grown-up ”, they want a real answer. I’m here to tell you that, it’s okay if your dreams look different than what they expect,” Rey paused to turn around and offer a sympathetic smile to the faculty, “No offense”
“I have an answer for you all. Who the hell knows, and who cares ? We are young . This isn’t the time to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives , this is the time to make mistakes. This is the time to make a wrong turn so that, eventually, you can find your way back home. Nothing is permanent. Things change. It’s okay to change your mind...and then change it again. Go on an adventure. Make mistakes, because, once you do...the next time they ask, you’ll be sure.
See, I….I have only ever been sure about one thing . One thing that wasn’t drumming, but that’s not what I am here to talk about. That one thing. That one person . I am so scared of so many things. I am scared of making those mistakes I talked about. I am scared about what’s going to happen when I leave here. I am scared of being away from you. I am scared of being so fucking scared.”
Rey laughed along with the rest of the student body, tucking her bottom lip between her teeth with a bashful smile with a tuck of her chin to her chest, taking a deep breath to try and ease the scorching blush that rose up in her cheeks.
“It isn’t always that way,” Rey lifted her eyes and spoke directly to the boy in the front row. The one who’d held her heart for as long as she could remember. The one she loved. “I look at you and I feel hope . This burning spark of what might be. An endless series of possibilities. We are at the start of a journey, and no matter how scared I feel, I know that you’ll always be with me because no one is ever really gone.
It’s easy to feel hope on a day like today, surrounded by our families with you so close-by, but I know that it won’t always be easy. There’s going to be dark days, sometimes. There’s going to be days when I miss you so much, I might break. There’s going to be days when you feel alone, but I want you to know that - you aren’t. I want you to remember that when hope feels lost, because that’s going to be when we need our hope the most.
No matter how lost or buried it gets, I want you - all of you - to hold onto that hope. Keep the spark of it alive. We will be greater than our mistakes. We will be greater than the things that we suffer. My hope is for you to become that spark. Be the spark that lights the fire that will keep that spark alive.
I know...I know that it feels like we are saying goodbye, but I know that we will all carry a piece of each other into the next phase of our lives. It’ll remind us of who we are, and who we are meant to be.
We don’t know when we will see each other again, that’s true. I know I will miss you when I least expect it. I’ll try to fall asleep on the other side of the country, wishing that I could be home. But . I know in my heart that, wherever you are....is home.
These four years have been more than I could have ever dreamed for. This life, really. All of you have changed my life in some way. You’ve changed each other’s lives. And, while we look to the future, it is important to remember our history. As we get older, it gets rewritten in small ways. We might not notice it at first, but it’s important to notice how the passing of time makes you appreciate the smallest of things.
You will go with me wherever I go, because this was truly the best of times. Mistakes were made, hearts were certainly broken, and I’m hopeful that we all learned a lesson or two. We are going to get older. We are going to learn new lessons, but it is important to remember that the time we spent together meant something. We were together during this time that will define who we are, outlining this time in our lives we will never forget. I certainly won’t. I know that I won’t exactly remember how it happened…”
Rey faltered, meeting his gaze one last time as she came to a close, thinking of the infinite amount of memories she had with him by her side. She wasn’t sure when she knew...when he knew, but, over time, Ben Solo had become the truest fixture in her life. Her first love - and her last.
“...but I will always remember how it felt. Ben, you are my solid ground. My North Star. And the small, clear voice in my heart that will be with me... always .”
As she stepped away from the podium, the crowd burst into a wild flurry of applause, boisterous and filled to the brim with effervescent joy. Rey couldn’t help her bashful smile as she walked past the faculty, who each proudly slapped their hands together with a laugh, looking on as she turned her attention to the boy who stood waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs.
Ben held his hand out to her, wearing a smile that held their secret fast and true as he curled his arm around her waist and - for the entire school to see - leaned down to press a lingering kiss to her lips.
Holding firmly to the black graduation cap that had been precariously pinned into her hair, Rey held his shoulder with the other, laughing against his lips when the crowd roared all the louder because of it.
“Alright, alright! Settle down!” Doctor Holdo’s voice rang out with amusement through the stadium as she stepped up to the podium, “If our Valedictorian and Salutatorian could please take their seats, I have a commencement to conduct, if that is okay with you.”
Ben let out a deep chuckle, twining his fingers with hers as Dr. Holdo shook her head from the stage. He pulled them back to their seats, keeping his hand with hers as they waited patiently for their names to be called.
Rey’s heart hammered away with each passing second, hearing name after name that drew them closer to the monumental moment that would declare their childhood done and over with.
The sun began to shift as the faculty made their way down the long list of names, shaking hand after hand with the flip of a tassel from one side of their hats to the other.
Rey wished she could slow down the time - rewind it, even. She wanted so desperately to go back to the night before. Back when things were simpler - when it was just she and him in the dark quiet of his bedroom.
She wanted to go back to the night of the party and never fight about what had happened in the closet. Back to six months ago, one year ago, four years ago. Back to a time when they still had time .
She wished that they’d never wasted a second of their precious love, and now that she’d had a taste of the great things that their love was capable, Rey wasn’t ready to let go.
When the superintendent and their headmaster came to the S names, Rey let out a sigh, holding firmly to Ben’s hand as they called up her name.
With a trembling hand, Rey wiped her palms on her gown as she stepped up to the stage, meeting Dr. Holdo’s smiling face with one of her own as she stepped forward across the stage. And just like that - with a firm handshake and the flash of a camera - Rey had graduated from high school.
She settled back in her seat, looking - just for a moment - to the empty seat beside her. They called out more names, so painfully slow, but at least she had the best view of Ben’s serious gaze. Like he’d always done in front of the band, his long face was serious, deep in thought, steeped in the soberness of the occasion. They called out for Schaefer. Schmidt. Smith. Solo.
When Ben stepped forward to receive his diploma, Rey cheered louder than the rest of them.
The rest of the ceremony went by in a blur. Name after name was called until they finally reached the last one. Rey held firmly to Ben’s hand, meeting his eye for a bittersweet smile as Dr. Holdo made the declaration they’d all been excitedly waiting to hear.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Graduating Class of 2007!”
A resounding roar burst forth through the stadium, and a flurry of graduation caps launched simultaneously into the air. Rey turned to Ben as they all floated down around them like autumn leaves on the wind, throwing her arms around his shoulders to stretch up on her toes, and place a kiss on his lips to remember the moment forever by.
The rest of the day went by in a blur as they were crowded by their families, wrapped up in hugs, and forced to take picture after picture. Han and Leia had excitedly allowed them to take a few photos together, completely overjoyed when Ben and Rey were unable to hide their mutual affection any longer - especially after they’d officially outed themselves in front of the student body.
Reluctantly, they were pulled in separate directions as the festivities continued on with their own families, but as the moon rose high in the sky and the rest of the world fell asleep, Rey found herself where she always did at night when she was desperate to sleep - by his side.
They tried to make the summer go by slowly, but try as they might, it never worked out the way that they planned.
Rey was determined to make the most out of every second with Ben, insisting that they go on a real date, just a few days past graduation. He’d happily agreed. One date turned into two, which turned into four, and on and on until all of their friends became officially sick of the two of them together as a couple.
When the warm summer evenings in June melted into the heat of July, Rey had insisted that they take the Falcon further North where it was cooler. There, tucked in the solitude of the woods, they spent a glorious, secluded week together while the rest of the world ate hotdogs and watched fireworks on the Fourth of July.
When August rolled around, the weight of what was to come began to grow heavier on Rey’s shoulders. No matter how they took advantage of the time together, spending every moment they could by each other’s side, and intertwined all the rest. All blurred together like it was some kind of dream, the summer was certainly a memorable one - but none of it prevented what was to come.
She sat on his bed - a place they’d spent countless, well-practiced hours - watching him with a sigh as he packed his bags for Harvard. Her own possessions were all tucked neatly into her suitcases, something Ben made sure that she did.
Part of her wondered that, if they lingered a little longer, maybe the time would stretch, and the last day would feel like five. But no matter how she tried - it was time.
Rey was holding on - but barely - and for once in her life, she was quiet. Even her constantly-drumming hands were still as she stared out the window at the passing traffic on the interstate.
She’d already said her goodbyes at home, insisting that the only person she wanted to drive her to the airport was the one behind the wheel. Sneaking a glance across the front seat, Rey let out a trembling sigh when she looked upon Ben’s profile.
His eyes were focused on the task at hand with his hand casually hung over the peak, tapping slowly to the steady rhythm of the music coming from his iPod.
Leaving home was something she’d thought of before. It had always been like a scene from a movie, with a small car, packed full to the brim with odd-shaped bags and suitcases. She’d lift her hand by way of goodbye, smiling proudly up at her childhood home as her parents cried on the porch. Every time, he was there too, watching her from his side of the lawn, smiling softly, like he held a secret that she wished she knew.
In some ways, that was easier, because now she knew what the secret was, Rey wasn’t ready to go.
The engine of the Falcon thundered along, falling into a deep idle as Ben pulled up to the busy curb at the airport, and suddenly, Rey was frozen.
It was time.
The time that they had been counting down to since the beginning of senior year, the time that they’d avoided talking about since...since forever was here. Rey knew that, ultimately, it wasn’t something she could stop, and she’d be fine . They’d be fine. But it didn’t stop the cold sense of dread that washed over her. How was she supposed to say goodbye to the only person who knew her?
She had other friends. Other people. People who said that they knew her, but no one did. Not like he did.
He was the one. The one person who knew her. Who loved her like he did. Who she wanted to spend every waking moment with - and all the rest too - and be really, truly happy.
How was she supposed to say goodbye without feeling like she’d lost a part of herself?
He was the one that, when she felt like things were falling apart, he showed her that things were as bad as they seemed. All the times that they’d spent laughing and talking, just like normal, there was nothing better than just being with him.
Part of her wished they could go back to that moment when they first met on the playground. Only little kids at the time, the memory was still vivid in her mind, and Rey wished she could relive them all , if only so it might prolong their goodbye.
“It’s going to be fine. It’s going to be good ,” Ben’s voice reached through her thoughts. He placed the car in park and their knees almost brushed when he turned towards her. She wants to whisper to him, tell him she loves him, make all her wishes known to him, tell him just how badly she doesn’t want to go, but the look on his face stopped her in her tracks.
“I know,” Rey summoned a smile, a mask to hide her true feelings. The conversation felt planned, and it was. A plan of all the things she wanted to say to prevent her from completely falling apart in a time when she knew that Ben would want her to be proud.
She could see it in his eyes, though, the same ache that bloomed in her heart. With a swallow, she looked down at the seat and idly picked at a loose thread in the upholstery, sitting a little straighter as Ben let out a shaky sigh.
“We’ll talk every day, okay?”
“And we’ll both come home for Christmas, okay?” Rey lifted her eyes, wondering if he could hear the timid fragility of her voice.
A quick glance at her watch told her that it was time. Time to say the dreaded goodbye.
Rey slowly licked her lips, parting them softly with a whisper, “I guess....it’s time for me to go. My flight is boarding soon.”
“Your flight...right…” Ben fidgeted in his seat, awkwardly scrambling for the door handle to step outside. Rey pulled open her own door, instantly overwhelmed by the smell of airplane exhaust hanging in the air. Her eyes lingered everywhere, drifting from person to person as the rhythm of time began to slow.
There was the exhausted-looking curb-side check-in agent leaning against the counter with his faded yellow vest, the distant sound of a police whistle, directing drivers in and out of the busy drop-off lane, and an overwhelmed looking mother towing a wide-eyed toddler through the airport door.
A soft gust of wind fluttered the hair around her face, circling around her bare legs to settle around the toes of her Converses as she lifted her eyes to watch Ben step up on to the curb beside her.
Time slowed once more, as if her mind needed to capture the moment, to take a picture - a keepsake - to give her the strength in the time it would surely take to adjust to her brand-new life.
Then, after an immeasurable length of time went by, the thunderous sound of a jet flying overhead shook Rey - literally - to her very core, bringing her back to the moment as if it were the clock, the only time-keeper that mattered.
Rey shifted the heavy weight of her backpack on her shoulders, letting out another sigh in the series of many , lifting her eyes to his as he stepped up beside her.
“Safe travels,” Ben mumbled, reaching out to brush his fingers against her arm. Everything felt so odd, like they weren’t properly equipped to say all the things they wanted to, all the things they’d so expertly avoided saying. Rey could taste it on the tip of her tongue. How much she loved him, how she knew that their love would keep them together, even when they felt alone. That, all they had to do was stretch out in their minds, and she’d be there for him.
She knew it . The trouble was, she couldn’t say it.
“I will,” Rey chewed her lip, unable to summon anything beyond the perfunctory murmur of words that held so much more than what her voice could say.
A garbled voice came over the loudspeaker, and in a sudden burst, Rey surged forward and wrapped her arms around him, pulling away in a flash to leave the swiftest of kisses on his lips.
She had to do it. She had to leave before she completely fell to pieces, before she changed her mind and didn’t go to college at all.
“Bye…” They murmured in tandem as Rey tiptoed backward, holding on to the worn straps of her backpack for dear life, blinking away the tears that wanted to come as she turned away.
With her back to him, the dam finally broke, and Rey’s shoulders shook as she reached up to dash her tears away with the back of her hand. The airport was a flurry of activity, and she so desperately wanted to immerse herself in the wild rhythm of it, to understand it and study it, but the cloud of emotion that surrounded her was too strong to let her think of anything else.
Rey pushed her way through, boarding pass clutched firmly in her hand as she bounced between strangers like the silver ball in a game of pinball. To the passing observer, so was just part of a moving mass, just another wheel in a cog. It overwhelmed her, altogether too much on top of the grief of their rushed goodbye that went nothing like she’d expected.
Her ears began to ring, growing dizzier with each passing second, until a voice broke through the haze.
“ Rey .”
Tears blurred her vision, so much so, that she couldn’t be sure he was real, but as soon as Ben Solo’s arms wrapped around her, with tears shining in his own eyes, Rey collapsed into his touch.
She didn’t question it, she didn’t wonder why he was there, or where he’d left the car. All that mattered at that moment was the feeling. The feeling of the warmth of his chest beneath her cheek, or his nose in her hair, or the feeling of his booming voice reverberating through his barrel chest.
“ You’re here ,” her voice was so impossibly small between her quaking sobs. She lifted her chin to look up at his own tear-strewn face, smiling softly when his mouth curved up into a bittersweet one of his own.
“I was always here, kid. I always will be,” he leaned down and pressed a lingering kiss to her lips, impossibly sweet with a salty tang of their combined tears. He ran his tongue over his bottom lip, tucking it between his teeth as he brushed the hair away from her face with his fingertips. “I couldn’t let you go without a proper goodbye.”
There, in the center of the airport, with thousands of people milling around them - each on their way to a thousand different destinations - Ben kissed her.
It wasn’t a kiss of goodbye or hello. It was a kiss of promise. One steeped with every ounce of what he felt for her, what he’d carried in his heart for as long as he could remember. The feeling of his lips against hers, and his arms wrapped around her so firmly, told her everything that she needed to know. She could feel it in her soul - he’d always be with her.
Time was fleeting, and the next four years was bound to pass by just as quickly as the last.
Who knew where they’d find themselves then?
the first and only
Chapter 6: every breath, every hour
It wasn’t always easy. Love never was.
This isn't going to go the way you think....
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rey lived her life by it, let it twine around her through every moment of her life. From the steps of her feet, the constant tapping of her fingers, and the beat of her heart. Of all things she didn’t expect it to be, the rhythm of her heart wasn’t at all anxious. It was steady. It was sure.
She sat by the window, soaking in the warmth of the California sunshine that streamed in through the marbled windows of the cozy little cabin. It was something she’d grown to love over time, taking every chance she could to take in the rays, watching with wild wonder as she grew more and more freckled every day.
A soft smile bloomed across her face as she twisted a chestnut curl around her finger, letting out the quietest of sighs as she reached out to scrub the soft, crinkled fur behind the ears of the Goldendoodle sleeping on the floor beside her.
Chewie was just one note in a series of happy pages that had filled the book of their story since the day they’d said goodbye at the airport. So much had happened since then, that oftentimes, Rey felt it had been an entire lifetime since she stepped foot on the airplane that carried her all the way to the Bay Area.
Berkeley was incredible. Amazing, even, and so, so much more than she had expected.
Han and Leia had delivered on their promise of nurturing hers and Ben’s relationship, sending her the very first care package during her time at school. It had arrived late one Friday afternoon - an iPhone in the hand of their son - Ben Solo.
She had squealed and leaped into his arms like a little girl on Christmas morning, so full of joy, tears streamed from her eyes.
They’d said goodbye, again, after an eventful weekend, spent exploring the redwood forests and eating sourdough bread in San Francisco. Afterward, in between texts from Ben, Rey lost herself to that same rhythm. Cal Band kept her busy during her free time, filled with loud music, challenging drills, and unforgettable new friends.
Christmas came and passed by too quickly. Three glorious weeks that passed by in a whirlwind, and as soon as she was home in Berkeley, the rest of the year flew by so quickly, Rey couldn’t quite believe they’d made it through the first year unscathed.
It wasn’t always easy. Love never was.
Being without her best friend had been an adjustment, to say the least. Lulls happened. Arguments, too, and their sophomore years at school had been the hardest.
The distance began to take its toll. They got busier. Made more friends. Got jealous .
If she was honest with herself, there were times that Rey wasn’t sure that they were going to make it, but nothing good ever comes easy, and Ben was worth the work.
Come September of their third year, Rey moved out of the dorms and into an apartment of her own - with Ben by her side.
It had only taken a single heartache for Ben to decide that Boston was too far. Too great a distance away from his love. His dreams were nothing at all compared to his dream of doing everything with her.
Securing a transfer had been a challenge, one that Ben was more than happy to take on. It was all worth it when he lifted her from her feet and walked over the threshold of their tiny apartment. The first thing that was theirs .
Chewie came soon after, along with the challenges of learning how to live together - on top of their studies.
Like everything else, it all went by in a flash, and before they knew it, they were side by side all over again, dressed in caps and gowns, graduating onto an entirely new - and breathlessly exciting - adventure. This time, though, Rey wasn’t afraid, because Ben was there. And he always would be.
He proved it to be so a few months later, when they’d both lucked out and found jobs they’d only ever dreamed of having, tucked against the metropolitan hillsides of San Francisco. There, as they danced on the hardwood floors of their empty apartment amongst the empty Chinese food cartons and stacks of moving boxes, Ben knelt down in the candlelight and asked her to be his - forever.
Now, a year, and a dizzying amount of planning, later, Rey sat alone in the warmth of the early summer sunshine, staring contently at the ivory wedding gown that hung on the back of the door.
She let out a sigh, blinking softly in the warm strands of light as she read and re-read the letter that had arrived a few minutes prior. Tracing her fingertip along the edge of the teardrop diamond earring that had arrived with it, Rey blinked back her tears as she read it all over again.
Today, I have never been more confident in any decision that I have ever made. When I asked you to marry me a year ago, I confess, I wanted to do it a long time prior to that night. I have known since the moment I met you - yes, that long - that I wanted to spend my entire life with you. The months, days, and moments leading up to our wedding have been nothing short of extraordinary, and you have reminded me time and again why I fell in love with you in the first place. You are the most beautiful person I know - inside and out - and I am certain that I don’t tell you that enough.
When two people are getting married, you tend to hear a lot about “cold feet”. I think it’s a pretty normal thing for couples to experience it. Marriage is a big deal. A life-altering commitment. However...this is a feeling I know I will never experience.
As I am writing this letter, rather than being scared of what the future will hold or what could have been without you, I am sitting here, completely content with how my life has played out. If I could live my life one thousand times over again, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a thing. This might surprise you, as I have heard you say over and over that you wished we’d never been apart. But...hear me out...that time meant something. You yourself said that we ought to make mistakes so that, when the time came that we were asked what we wanted to be, we’d be sure. So here I am. Sure about you. And because of that, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Rey, you are truly the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. From the moment we met on that playground, I had this feeling about you. Maybe it was the Dragon Ball. Maybe it was the Sailor Moon, or it could have been the peanut butter sandwich. All I know is that there was something special about you.
It was a feeling that I hung onto as we got older, all throughout school high school, and those pesky college years, too. It’s the feeling that kept our relationship strong through sickness and in health, and will continue to do so. That feeling is, of course, love. My love for you.
I promise to hold onto that feeling for as long as I live, and beyond that too. You can consider this a preemptive “I do”. It is a promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. It’s a promise to love you and honor you for all the days of my life.
Your husband to be,
Don’t be late.
A soft knock came through the door, drawing Rey’s eyes away from the letter with a smile when Leia’s head popped in.
“You ready, kiddo?”
“I’ve been ready since the first grade,” Rey grinned, rising to stand as she released a heavy sigh of anticipation.
With her soon-to-be mother-in-law’s help, Rey slipped on her lace wedding gown, smiling softly when she ran her hands over the delicate fabric as it settled around the curve of her shoulders.
Her heart beat fast, filled to the brim with colors and promises of a life well-lived as her thoughts went to him, imagining him waiting for her at the end of the aisle, just moments away from becoming her husband.
Ben had taught her so many things over the course of their lives. How to be brave. How to be strong. With him by her side, she’d never been afraid to fall.
Taking her bouquet from Leia, Rey tucked her nose into the carefully chosen collection of pink dahlias, and blinked back a silver glimmer of happy tears as she strode towards the door.
The din of their guest had become hushed as a string quartet played a delicate melody from behind the altar. Rey closed her eyes as the sunlight kissed the corners of her face, taking a moment to herself before the doors were pulled open and she laid her eyes on the future that was waiting for her.
There, tucked amongst redwoods that stretched further that you could see, dripping with pale gardenias and orange blossoms that had been strung over their heads, was him. Her future.
With one step closer, and a single look in his dark eyes, the time stood still. Every day, every breath, every hour had come to this.
And, as she’d said was she was still eighteen...for the right man...she was early.
The wedding venue I imagined in my head is Island Farm, in San Gregorio, CA.