A/N: I'm fulfilling a couple Reylo prompts over on my Tumblr account (which you can follow if you want to. Same username: crmediagal). I'll be adding these prompts as they're completed here at FFN, Tumblr, and my AO3 account, in the off chance someone else out there might enjoy them...
Disclaimer: Star Wars is copyrighted to and belongs to George Lucas, Disney, etc. I'm just playing with one of their cruisers and enjoying myself. No money, just fun. Artwork is credited to daylight-moderations on Tumblr.
Prompt: Ben tries to tell Rey that he loves her.
Requirements: Angst and Fluff
"You ready?" she inquired as she plopped herself down on the floor in front of him and shoved both legs underneath her weight.
Ben provided a rather curt, unconvincing nod and kept his lips tightly bound together. His palms were sweaty, and he made to conceal them by cramming them together in his lap.
Rey didn't pick up on anything too strange or askew—well, nothing more than what she now considered the 'norm' when it came to Ben Solo. His everyday quirks meant Rey expected a certain level of...peculiarity.
The man was a paradox of fascinating oddities that had taken her nearly two full years to decode. Much in him had drastically changed, and for the better, since their first not-so-lovely encounter on Takodona, where he had taken her hostage as his former, much more sinister identity, Kylo Ren. Ren was a twisted, highly unstable commander moulded by Supreme Leader Snoke and his sickening, overpowering influence, instigation, and craft.
That intense, blood-thirsty Knight of Darkness hardly resembled the (seemingly) calm, though somewhat fidgety, Jedi of the Light who was seated cross-legged in front of her today; who had fought so hard and come so far in his personal journey back to the Light. The exquisite proof of that agonising struggle made Rey quietly appreciative of all he had endured in order to reach this point.
"Let's get started," she suggested with a gentle extend of her hand. Ben's pained expression stopped her short of touching him. "Is something wrong?"
Ben's pale, scrunched face quickly morphed into one of carefree buoyancy, though she noted that he kept rubbing his hands together, much like a nervous, overly anxious teenager rather than a grown man in control of his emotions. Perhaps she had been mistaken in believing Ben had progressed to the point of no return. He was acting unusually sketchy, uninterested in having her peer into his mind. Would she regret what she discovered? Was he keeping something from her?
"No, not at all," he replied with forced cheerfulness, shooting Rey a smile she immediately knew to be disingenuous.
"All the more reason to have a meditation today. You seem...distracted."
"I am not."
Rey refrained from rolling her eyes. Would she forever be wrestling Ben over his capricious emotional states? Granted, he had made tremendous strides in learning how to discipline himself over this past year, but his natural instincts still remained to occlude, deny, and push his feelings—and her—away when situations became uncomfortable. Still, progress, she reminded herself.
Issuing a small sigh, Rey reached out fully and touched Ben's forehead. Her bright eyes locked on his, but he deterred from holding his gaze, causing enough of a distraction that Rey wound up hissing to him telepathically.
Ben, she warned as she began filtering through the tip of his mind, quit it, would you?
I'm not doing anything! he huffed back defensively; she could almost sense him crisscrossing his arms over his chest like a child on the verge of a temper tantrum, and snorted before speedily moving along. She wasn't here to impose her thoughts on him, after all. Rather, Ben was meant to share with her willingly everything that he had been meditating on this past week—his struggles, his wishes, his fears, his woes, whatever they may be. It was all meant to help clear the man's mind; to help unload the emotional burdens he had been carrying around within himself since he was a child, step by step.
Rey ignored the prickly attitude she picked up on as she pushed through dense fog, fighting her way to the front gates meant to bar intruders from entrance. Ben had created a number of complicated, heavy-handed mental blocks over the years, mostly to keep Snoke from uncovering his deepest, most detrimental secrets that would have landed him six feet under. (His feeble, steadfast yearning to return to the Light was one of the most prominent of all). It wasn't surprising to Rey to encounter locked doors and thick vapour meant to block her out.
Ben, for goodness' sake, she groused after a minute of trying to unsuccessfully dodge his mental shields that forcefully propelled her backward, quit occluding me and let me— Suddenly, the latches lifted and the smoke cleared like the snapping of fingers, and their disappearance revealed something she hadn't expected. In... she finished with breathless wonderment.
Rey stepped forward, puzzlement lines forming along her brow. She saw the back of a female's head and recognised it at once as belonging to her. She was reclining on a well acquainted bench not far from their Jedi training site—her 'sacred spot' as she often referred to it, where she tended to meditate in leisure solitude as the sun set over the sea; or so she had thought she was alone during these silent moments.
Rey no longer felt as though she was privy to a private moment of hers, though. Instead, it felt more like ease-dropping on herself, watching admiringly from afar. Her thoughts, not her own, were coiled and obstructed so as not to awaken the person—herself—who meditated naively with her back turned away from the observer. Ben, Rey realised. She felt a sudden warm, ingenuous adoration for the nape of her neck—how the setting sunlight so wonderfully bathed its contours in shades of delicate pinks and oranges—only it wasn't her feelings she was sensing but...his.
The tranquil scene suddenly shifted. A black vapour materialised and swirled about her, casting the scenery into another setting entirely. Rey was stunned to find herself the subject of yet another one of Ben's confidential moments. Here, she was seated across from him after a long day of what had surely been fight practice. They were both sweaty, grimy from the exercise, and devouring their meals with more vigour than was considered gracious, but neither party cared. The timing was definitely from at least a year ago, around the period when Ben first began his re-training to become a Master of the Light with Rey's and Master Luke's assistance, for she noted her shorter, chin-length hair and the pair of leather boots she was wearing that had since been discarded.
She and Ben were laughing heartily over something Rey had long since forgotten, but the topic of conversation wasn't important. It was the feeling she experienced as she gazed at herself: a sensational, nervous fluttering that floated up from the pit of her stomach and seeped into her fingertips and toes, persistent and near dizzying. Her smile kept reinforcing these giddy sensations, the radiance of her young, wide open face drawing the observer closer, much like a smitten moth lured to a magnetic flame.
Rey stared on, dumbfounded. She had never seen the awe and allure her own Light could carry from another's perspective, and there was no doubt of the tremendous pull it was having on Ben, for the connection he bore towards her and her Light was remarkably strong, tempting, a magnificently painful pining her present self had difficulty grasping. It made it hard for her to breathe. Each time the old Rey smiled or laughed, that fluttering in her stomach roused and started all over again.
Had Ben been so completely and utterly drawn to her, and in such a magnetic way for as long as a whole year, and she hadn't had a ruddy clue? She certainly sensed something foreign, yet strangely wonderful, happening, and it kept repeating itself with every encounter they shared—at least, from his angle. Even his cheeks were flushing and his heart thudded faster when she spoke, drumming to a bit of an edgy beat.
Ben had never mentioned any of these feelings to her...and Rey hadn't a clue what to make of them, only that she desired for all of it to carry on a little while longer. Please...
As if on cue, the backdrop abruptly changed again, whirling into darkness before transferring into another day and another moment... With me?
Rey blinked several times as she took in this fresh setting: it hadn't been long ago, for she remembered it well. She and Ben had had a break in their training and spent much of the day casually strolling along a sandy beach, every so often picking up rocks and returning them to the hungry seas. They had wound up talking for hours, about everything and nothing, their sense of time slipping their grasp until the moon finally shone in the night sky.
By this point, Rey was staring down on herself, and there was a sudden ache in hers—Ben's—chest that felt unnatural, though not alarming. It was more akin to longing; a rueful need; the desperate wanting... To touch my hair. She sensed Ben's hand twitching at his side, itching to reach out and merely tuck a couple wild strands that were whipping at Rey's face behind her ear; and yet, he held off. He refused to reach for her, no matter how intense the desire gnawed at him, and Rey could feel that burn churning inside, so desperate to be assuaged and put to rest.
That soulful yearning wasn't met that night, just as it never came during the other moments Ben was disclosing to her for the first time. Rey found herself gutted...and disappointed in the emptiness she now felt. She disliked this overpowering sadness that crept into her very bones; this terrible, unfulfilled wish of Ben's that he kept trying to squash and exterminate, though to no suitable end.
She was ready to pull out of his mind. She needed to face him; to no longer see herself from his pained point of view. The feelings were so overwhelming that, if she didn't get out, she was convinced she might drown in their despair.
Rey whisked out of Ben's mind a little too hastily. She came to, blinking several times to clear her fuzzy sight. Ben's eyelids weren't flickering along with hers, however. They were staring determinedly at the floor, and Rey noted a tint of colour on his cheeks that hadn't been there before.
"Ben, I..." she started and stopped, trying to clutch at words. None seemed suitable.
Before she could manage to continue, a soft, sore whisper escaped him first. "I'm sorry."
Rey straightened at once. "What? Why?"
Alas, he still refused to meet her gaze. "Because you... You shouldn't have been exposed to any of that."
That, at last, garnered Ben's attention. His dark, profound eyes bore into hers but they were openly afraid, petrified of what these next moments might bring...or sadly alter in their close relationship.
"I... I never wanted to make things awkward for us. I mean, for you," he tried to explain. His voice was hoarse and uneasy.
"But...you haven't, Ben," Rey didn't hesitate to assure him, though he didn't appear convinced. His jaw tightened and he fell decidedly silent, prompting her to inch closer to him, wanting to be nearer. "When did you... When did your feelings change towards me?"
There was a thoughtful, drawn out pause before Ben quietly answered, "When you left me in the snow at Starkiller Base."
"Really?" Rey's mouth dropped and her pupils broadened in shock; she hadn't anticipated that answer. "That long ago? You've felt this way since...then?"
Ben's stoic, still expression was painfully acute. "Yes..." he whispered.
At that tender, low confession, Rey scooted onto her knees and stared deep into his eyes for a time, sensing the grim, expected rejection—the clenching hurt she had so sharply felt in his private meditations not meant for her to glimpse—and her eyes welled up with tears; but they weren't out of pity. No. They were out of love.
"You love me?" Rey could hardly believe she was sputtering the words, let alone attempting to coax them out of a reluctant Ben; but she suddenly realised that nothing would please her more than to hear those very words from his own precious lips.
It felt like an age and a half before the confirmation finally came, but then it unexpectedly did. "Yes, Rey," Ben uttered, his voice trembling despite his normally tenacious ability these days to control his emotions, "I'm in love with you...and I'm so sor—"
In haste, Rey put her hand to his mouth. "No. Don't be. Don't you dare. I don't want you to be sorry, Ben. I want..."
Feathery, petal-like fingertips began a slow graze of the curves of his mouth, assigning their soft ridges and texture to memory. Growing bolder, Rey chanced leaning into him. Ben had all but turned to stone but he didn't rear back at her steady advance, allowing Rey to excitedly press her lips to his. In seconds, their shared connection was affirmed by an innocent, thoroughly pleasant kiss.
Rey flew back, blushing to the roots of her hair, but Ben was blushing, too, and that had giggles bubbling up inside of her. She wound up laughing lightly which encouraged him to join her in this newness; this fresh adoration. There was a glimmer of enlightenment in Ben's eyes. The rest of his body released its pent-up tension with a long sigh of relief.
Rey bent near him again and a suggestive smile lit up her face, the soul-crushing kind that, for two years, had driven Ben absolutely mad. "Tell me again?" she murmured, begged, and was soothed by the breathtaking smirk that broke Ben's formerly rigid, silent stance. His Force connected with hers, protective and comforting, igniting a recognisable fluttering that started in her stomach and expanded to the rest of her body.
"I love you, Rey... I love you."
A/N #2: Thank you for reading and reviewing. Reviews are always greatly appreciated.