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 verauko on DeviantArt.
Prompt: First day in classes, sitting beside one another.
Requirements/Genre(s): None/A bit of Humour, a bit of Angst, and a hint of potential Romance
More Important Notes: For the purpose of this one-shot, Ben is only a couple years older than Rey. Also, there's some British-isms present because, well, I'm so accustomed to, say, how John speaks (and so lovely) in real life that I prefer his actual accent to Finn's non-accent. Lastly, their appearances were inspired by verauko's amazing artwork on DeviantArt (one of which also serves as the accompanying artwork for this piece).
He sauntered into the room with purpose and the excited chatter fluttering around the intimate classroom came to a screeching halt. The room turned so still and silent all of a sudden that one might have been able to hear a pin drop.
Rey, a fun-filled, outspoken freshman, twisted around in her seat, away from her equally candid friend, Finn, having followed the trail of his suspicious, wide eyes. She spotted the reason for the abrupt silence immediately and her senses tingled with trepidation...and an avid curiosity.
The faded, ripped jeans that exposed sinewy, bony ankles, a large black hoodie that seemed to perfectly mould to a considerably tall, solid frame, and a pair of leather combat boots that echoed like some sort of sinister predicament across the concrete floor came barrelling towards her. Rey startled. Hers and the approaching disgruntled young man's eyes—brown but nearly black in hue; they were uncomfortably starless and angry—met for the briefest moment before he sharply took a seat at an empty desk beside her and glared, not at her or anyone else in particular, mostly just ahead.
Rey heard Finn audibly swallow from the desk on her opposite side; or had that been a high-pitched squeak? Either way, his strained response matched the uneasy tension that had quickly descended upon the room. Rey, like her classmates, stared openly at the newest student to have joined their class and, like them, she, too, recognised him, particularly once he threw back his hoodie and revealed a rather rawboned, ashen-coloured profile.
Well, that was Rey's guess anyway, and she normally had a fairly good first instinct about people she didn't know or had any sort of prior association with. She had heard the name before she ever started school, of course, and, even with it being her first day, she suspected her instincts were correct on this assumption.
The name was well known, after all, whispered about in their community like some sort of dreadful curse not to be uttered too loudly, and never in a favourable light. Ben Solo carried a long-standing label as a 'troublemaker' and was known to be terribly misguided, as well as a consummate thorn in people's sides. Apparently, he was a senior now, though Rey had often wondered how he managed to pass all of his classes if he gave his teachers as much grief as she had heard about. He was also notorious for being quite combative in general, getting into fist fights outside the classroom on a frequent basis, usually by his own design.
On that score, Rey could understand why it must normally arise from his own doing. She wouldn't want to physically take on such a cad as he was practically a giant, even whilst seated, too overgrown for the chair he presently sat in. His knees jutted out from beneath the desk and, with his upper body hunched and curled forward, his shoulders easily reached the edge. He looked uncomfortable, to be honest (not that Rey cared about that).
Suddenly, the as yet unidentified young man disturbed Rey again by turning his glare on her, prompting a flinch and a straightening against the back of her seat. Shit. Don't stare, Rey scolded herself. She hastily glanced away, feeling the unwanted heat of embarrassment trickling from her neck up and onto her cheeks.
"Who are you?" he tersely addressed her in a low, cutting baritone that unsettled her.
Rey hesitantly peeked over at him. The depth of his eyes were still discomforting, and even more so up close. "Erm, Rey," she answered him, despising the meekness she detected in her own voice. It wasn't like her to show fear or uneasiness.
"Rey who?" he demanded, unsurprisingly without much civility.
"I don't think that's any of your business, mate," Finn chimed in from beside her, defensive and cool as a droid. Rey shot her friend a piercing yield-and-desist glance that didn't have much impact.
The shaggy-haired senior on her right narrowed his dark eyes, glancing from Rey to Finn and back again before asking, with a curt nod towards her friend, "Do you regularly allow men to speak for you?"
Rey scowled. "No," came her swift, clipped reply.
"Then what's your name?"
"I've told you, it's Rey."
"Your full name."
Rey turned up her nose. "As my friend has said, I don't think that's any of your business, especially considering how you've failed to so much as politely offer up your own."
Those near colourless eyes softened a touch; or, perhaps, they were merely amused by her giving snark back. His lips twisted into a broad smile and Rey felt something tighten the knot forming in her stomach, something foreign and akin to...attraction? No. The bloke's disturbed. That grin was seemingly sinister and not to be trusted, and yet, despite her caution-inclined instincts, it intrigued Rey as well. A lot.
"I'm Ben. Ben Solo," he put forth, though he didn't extend a hand or offer it sweetly.
"I knew that."
Ben tilted his head. "Then why'd you ask?"
Ben's smile waned, though a glimmer of mirth still loomed in his eyes. "You're new."
"So?" Rey challenged, her own eyes sliding into slits. His eyes flickered in return, but that was the only reaction her snippy tone garnered. Rey didn't feel badly, though. Her hunch, even without Ben Solo's seedy reputation to go on, told her not to get friendly with the troubled teen.
"So..." he continued slowly, thinking, surveying her long and hard. "You may want to invest in getting to know who and whom to avoid around here."
"What, like you?" Finn interrupted a second time, much to Rey's aggravation.
Rey whipped her head around and hissed at her friend to be quiet before turning back to Ben, who was smirking again, as if he was pleased with all the discomfort his presence was arousing. "If I want someone's input, I'll ask for it."
"Not even some friendly advice?"
"No, thank you."
"I'm doing you a favour."
"Speak for yourself," she snipped out of the corner of her mouth, to which Ben merely shrugged and looked away.
"Suit yourself. Your loss."
Rey watched with increasing annoyance as Ben Solo placed his razor-sharp gaze on the front of the classroom. His glare intensified at a couple of skittish students seated in front of them, all fresh youngsters like herself, who had clearly been listening in on Rey's and Ben's heated exchange. By the scary stare Ben shot them, they briskly turned around in their seats, none wishing to draw the most notorious rouser in the school's attention. Rey noisily scoffed at them for their fright, not realising that not only had Ben overheard her but he had also caught her subsequent eye roll.
"Something funny?" he pressed, this time with a most tense glower she didn't see, for she refused to meet his eye.
"No... Just your reputation certainly does proceed you."
"Do enlighten me."
Rey could sense from that prickly response that that was not what Ben wanted, which, of course, provided her all the incentive she required to do precisely so. "Rude. Coarse. Intimidating everyone who crosses your path, thinking that by being ill-mannered you'll be able to coerce others into doing what you want."
"'Ill-mannered'? 'Coarse'? Have you listened to yourself, little girl?"
'Little girl'?! Rey tried not to rise to such a jab, sensing that that was probably what Ben Solo wanted. She could feel the temperature in her face rising, though. "Ah, and insults," she added with another dramatic roll of her eyes. "Mustn't forget those either."
"Well, seeing as you're so testy, you seem to know an awful lot about me."
Rey openly sneered but still wouldn't look at Ben. "Well, I've heard enough about you, you know, so now I can make my own judge of your character."
"Is that so?"
There was such ill-intended provocation in that inquiry but Rey refused to bite. "None of it's positive, naturally."
"Shocker. You really do know a lot."
Rey couldn't withstand the mockery any longer. She turned to him, unable to resist his goading, and her expression mirrored the problematic senior's own growing agitation and defence. The break in their argument was giving her the chance to fully take in his appearance, however.
It was easy to understand how Ben Solo might strike fear in the hearts of other younger students, but Rey was more taken by features that both trickled along the surface but hinted at far more than what met the eye. His striking alabaster skin, paler than any complexion she had ever seen (it was almost sickly), made his jet-black hair and ominous presence all the moodier. There were a few notable freckles that dotted his cheeks, too, set off by a prominent nose Rey hadn't really noticed until now; it rather engulfed his face but it was also striking and noble.
Most notable of all, though, aside from those deeply troubling pair of eyes, were the accompanying dark, purple circles beneath them that Rey connected to at once. He doesn't sleep, she determined and could have sworn, by the subtle shift in Ben's expression, that he, too, sensed her findings. Like me...
"You know it's impolite to stare," he snarled, though he also declined to break eye contact.
"Then perhaps you should follow your own tact."
An understated sense of surprise danced across his face. Perhaps Ben Solo wasn't accustomed to receiving much lip service in return when he chose to pick fights? Rey hadn't a clue, really, but the way he was staring at her felt entirely invasive, as though he could read her private thoughts or see past her carefully constructed walls. Then again, it was fairly obvious that Ben Solo carried his own share of barriers, one—or several—of them being that there were issues in his troubled life that kept him up at night as well, just as they did her.
At her cross suggestion, Ben spat a spirited, "With pleasure," and determinedly glared at the chalk board. He thrashed his hoodie over his head to conceal his face from view and fell silent.
Rey and Finn smothered a laugh and shook their heads at one another. Then their teacher of this elective course, a loony-looking man with a wiry, grey beard and messy hair, rushed into the classroom, panting and sputtering an apology for his tardiness, and Rey and Ben didn't exchange another word for the next hour.
Every so often, Rey found herself peering over at Ben Solo, thinking he might be eyeing her, too; but she never caught him staring. He kept his hood up, every so often letting out a cumbersome sigh or issuing a snide remark about the instructor, Mr Skywalker, under his breath. Rey expected him to throw a fit eventually, perhaps convey his displeasure about the class loud enough that Mr Skywalker might overhear and an argument ensue, but he never did. He remained surprisingly restrained, though halfway through the class his head slumped forward against his desk and didn't move for the remainder.
When the bell finally rang, signalling the end of the lesson, Rey held back, despite Finn tugging at her arm. "Let him be," he insisted, whispering through gritted teeth as others speedily shuffled around the supposed sleeping teen to get out of the room. "Bloke's an arse anyway."
"That he may be, but he shouldn't miss his next course." Rey nodded to Finn. "You go on ahead; I'll catch up in a minute."
Finn surveyed his friend as if she had chosen to stay back and hang with Snoke. "I'll save you a seat," he promised before dashing from the classroom.
Rey sunk back into her chair and reached across the gap between her desk and Ben's to poke him awake. "Hey. Hey. Wake up."
Ben jerked, nearly toppling sideways out of his chair, and his hands flew to his face. His hoodie fell away as his squinting eyes adjusted to the harsh lighting. Slowly but steadily, they came to recognise where he was and lastly settled upon Rey, their depths morphing from fatigue to confusion to...was it offence?
"Erm, you fell asleep during the lesson," Rey tried to explain, though she wasn't sure why she was bothering. He appeared affronted that she had disrupted his rest; or was it because of the ridiculous fact that she had actually touched him? Oh, good grief, I hope not.
Ben gave an awkward grunt and brushed a hand through his tousled locks. A few strands escaped his fingers and swept into his eyes. "I'm sure I didn't miss much," he mumbled into his shoulder, to which Rey couldn't help but snort in agreement.
"Yeah, no, not really."
To her utter surprise, Ben offered a wee smile and they both shared an unexpected, brief laugh at that. "Mr Skywalker's a bit of a crackpot," said Ben, leaning forward at his desk and his chin dropping into his hand, "but he means well, and he knows his stuff."
"You've had him before?"
"Mmm. He's my instructor for most of my Jedi studies."
Rey jolted forward with excitement. "So, you - you're a Padawan then?" she gasped, to which Ben smirked proudly.
"Yeah. Soon-to-be Jedi Knight."
"Wow..." Rey breathed, eyes glazing over. She had heard that before, too, but having it confirmed was inspiring.
"You're hoping to become a Jedi?"
Rey's eyes drifted back into focus and an elated smile broke out on her face. "Yes, I am. I had no idea Mr Skywalker was a Jedi instructor. Well, I mean, I'd heard he used to be but that, since the fall of the Empire,—"
"You seem to 'hear' a lot of things," Ben inserted, staring at her pensively and without judgment.
Rey shrugged. "I also have instincts, and they tend to be pretty solid." Ben furrowed his brow, waiting, and Rey's gaze softened. "You don't sleep much, do you?" she brought forth in a low voice.
Ben's eyebrows came together, though it was hard to discern whether he was nettled by her prying or curious that she had struck the mark. He opened his mouth, as though he was going to respond, but then he wound up bringing his lips tightly together.
"You don't have to answer that," Rey replied as she made to gather up her things and toss them into a satchel at her feet; she had stayed too long. "It's just that, I have trouble sleeping, too." She made a gesture towards the bags beneath Ben's eyes before continuing to assemble her belongings. "Meditation has helped me a lot with that. I know Jedi's already have their own meditative training, but if, erm, if you ever wanted to give my methods a try sometime, I'd be happy to..." Shut up! her mind was screeching in horror. What are you saying, Rey? You've heard about Ben Solo; you've seen how he acts! What in the name of Jakku is wrong with—
Rey, who had been placing the last of her textbooks into her satchel, spun around in her chair with her mouth hanging open. "Oh!" Ben was staring at her, pallid countenance a mixture of remarkable calm and, perhaps, intrigue; or something more. "I... Great!" she stammered and shot to her feet.
Ben followed suit, towering over her but no longer with the menacing air from earlier. "I'd like that," he declared as he reached out a large hand for her to shake; Rey gradually eased her much daintier hand into his, taken aback by its softness and warmth, as Ben added a soft-spoken, "very much," that left her mind clouded and reeling.
Once she was able to form a coherent thought, Rey nervously extended an olive branch. "I'm, erm, I'm sorry for the things I called you before..."
"Nah," Ben shocked her by reassuring, as he rubbed his fingers through his disheveled hair again, "you didn't speak anything that wasn't the truth, you know. I'm a bit of an arsehole, and I know it."
Rey's reactive smile was feeble but sincere. "Well...perhaps that's something...we could..."
"Work on?" he finished, suppressing the urge to laugh, and she did likewise.
The bell abruptly rang, prompting the swift end to their discussion. Rey's hand slid out of Ben's. She slung her satchel over her shoulder and tore out of the room, fumbling an anxious call of, "Great! I'll - I'll see you later then!" before disappearing.
She never caught Ben's considerate, subsequent smile as she hurried off to her next class. That was probably for the best, for the knot in her stomach had tightened even more. By the time she exited the school at the end of her first day, it had dissolved into a flutter of excited jitters and nerves.
A/N #2: Thank you for reading. Reviews are always greatly appreciated.