when she speaks, the monster bends.

a promise.

Sometimes, it was easier to forget that he had once been a boy. That, while he was always a pale child, he carried a bit more of a healthy tan to him before the mask and long robes bonded to his skin. Even now, as she looks in to his eyes from across the gaping abyss in the earth of Starkiller, she doesn't quite see the monster she had heralded him just minutes before. There's something broken in him, something fundamental in every human being that he lacks. What is it? It's hard to place really, what happened to this man? Rey struck him down, wasn't all that hard really. He hadn't really fought back, not with the intent to leave her laying dead in the snow. He wanted to teach her, to show her the ways of the Force, whatever that meant. But the Force had called to her in mid fight, and he let it.

Their eyes connected then, much like they had now. There's something more at play here, something she's missing that she knows she really ought to remember. Is it sympathy for the monster? Sympathy for a man who had just impaled his own flesh and blood through the chest? Possibly, because looks can tell a thousand words in a heartbeat, whereas one cannot put in to sentences in a hundred years. It's a different look he has on now, Rey is skilled with reading people, she's always had to be. And she's read at least 3 different emotions pass Ren's face in the span of 3 seconds. Awe, then fear, and soon pride. He offered to be her teacher, and right now he's looking as if she had just passed his first test. Yet she never accepted his proposition. Kylo Ren is propped up on one elbow now, his mouth is moving, but she can't hear the words. There's really nothing to say, not to him, not to a monster. You run from monsters, you fight them, kill them. Rey has not followed through with the final act just yet, but it is still so easy - a mere hurdle and she can finish him off.

She doesn't.

Her window of opportunity is slipping, if she acts too late, she can either botch the fall and die altogether, or she'll be stuck with his corpse on the other side, away from Finn. If he's even still alive. Her eyes zero in on the abyss, then to Ren, two paths are once again open to her. She finds this freedom to be intoxicating. An opportunity to decide one's fate as well as your own stumps her, she almost doesn't breathe. It was always her own skin she had to look after, she took care of herself. Now, she has friends, allies that have risked tooth and nail to find her. One has died tonight already, at Kylo Ren's hand at that, the other may be joining him soon. This fills her with rage now, the same rage that struck Ren down in the first place. A foreign empowerment of strength, will, and hatred surged through her like a conduit, and all of it centered around this man. So what to do? It doesn't take long for her to figure it out.

She jumps.

The girl he's heard so much about apparently has more in store for him. He is elated, and concerned for his health all at the same time. He's certain of who this woman is now, whereas before he held his suspicions close to his chest, he is damn near a hundred percent sure - that this girl,is Rey.

His Rey, from so long ago.

FN-2187 screamed her name as if she was gone forever, as if he had wounded her beyond repair.

Fat chance of that now, for he's the one lying in the snow, waiting for his executioner. That look in her eyes is back now, it's almost as if it'd never left. He hates that look now more than ever, she shouldn't be looking at him like that. Not after the times they've had, after the stories they've shared. There's history here, and although she may not remember it at this moment, but he swears that before she kills him, he'll do whatever he must to make sure she does. One step towards him is all she takes though, the crunch of snow beneath heel seems to shatter her concentration, as she blinks once then twice, before remembering where she is. She looks back now, the rift that was required a small hurdle was now a gaping hole in the earth. Uncrossable.

He can hear a whisper of despair, an "Oh no," as she realizes she may be trapped on the wrong side with the monster, away from that blasted traitor. He's sure there are worse ways to go than to be trapped with him. Her back is still turned to him, and the lightsaber (his) is now powered down. Now or never, Kylo thinks.

And so, he speaks.

"I should have known it would be you to kill me. I should have known that one day you would break your promise, not surprised really at the rate I was going." He coughs, a hacking noise of internal injuries that were pounded to near-infection.

They've come back to haunt him now, there's blood seeping slowly through the thick fabric and unto the snow. Once Snoke found out about Kylo's unnatural pain tolerance, he made sure to exploit it. Pain is both your friend, and foe. And you will know him very well. A harsh lesson, but he thanks his lucky stars that he has had the chance to learn it.

Rey snaps around at the sound of his voice, she seems surprised that he has a working set of vocal cords or something. It must be easy that way, to just write him off as some irredeemable beast, and in some ways - he was. Just another dark man in a mask doing horrible, incomprehensible things. But it's never that easy.

She should know by now though, that humans hide behind masks the most, and while he certainly does not deserve forgiveness, she needs to stop living in whatever fantasy land she's got cooked up in her head. This galaxy is full of horrible people, and if she knows about Darth Vader, then she's sure to know about the thousands of other masked killers that have scoured this galaxy. Everyone knows.

"You look so surprised, you should really see the look on your face." It's kind of funny, and he wants to laugh at it all, so he does. The previous nonsensical rage of the Dark has lifted, and now he can see again. It's been a while since he has had a good laugh at anything noteworthy, and judging from the way she winces, it must sound like it. He can't even laugh correctly anymore, a failure all around indeed.

"Wh-what? What are you talking about?" She's shaken, she doesn't know what the hell is going on, and with all this blood loss he really doesn't know either.

"I know you, I wasn't sure if I did a few days ago, but I sure as hell do now. It is you." He's doing a shit job already, cryptic words are not the way to go it seems. Too Luke Skywalkery. Rey has this dumb look on her face though, like she still can't believe that this shit is for real, but she's catching on, smart girl that she is.

She regains herself then, perhaps the allure of someone who knows her past is her weakness, if he was his master's pupil through and through, he would have exploited this fact by now. But all it does is give him some semblance of hope to latch on to, something he can use to bridge this gap between them. As if his thoughts are on display, she closes the distance between them by a few steps, and hovers over his body like the executioner she ought to be. "Explain, what are you talking about? How do you know me, explain damn it! There's no way, there's no way-" She trails off, her little hands drop the lightsaber to the ground beside them, and they latch on to his robes and pull him up so she can shake the answers out of him.

Which isn't helping any of these fucking injuries at all.

She's looking in to his eyes, desperation replaces rage and hate. He can see the torment in them, and if he was feeling especially cruel, he could prolong this conversation, or just flat out not give her anything like she had done to him during his botched interrogation. But he isn't, there's no point now, not when he's finally found Rey after all this time, not when he has a chance to not only save his own ass, but to take this shot in the dark and possibly bring her to his side. Not the First Order's, not Snoke's, but his own. Whatever the hell that means, he's not sure who he is anymore after today.

"Well?! Talk, talk damn you, you bastard! What are you talking about?" She's getting angry now, truly a tempest, always has been, always will be. "Just what I said, I know you Rey, I know you very well. Don't you remember our promises? That I'd never forget about you where I'm going, and that you'd never think of me as a monster? Seems we're both shit at keeping promises." A bitter smile splits his face, much like the searing scar. She drops him now, as if he was acid to her touch, she's looking at him in disbelief, must be whatever the hell it is between them awakening again.

He latches on to it with what remains of his sanity, he needs her to remember, so instead of invading her mind for information, he repairs it, like bacta to a wound. He stitches the seams back together, and rides the wave of memories that storm her brain. He can see it all now, her finding him in isolated corners of Luke's old academy during one of her first time's exploring the place by herself. She found him like it was nothing back then, despite his usually successful attempts at avoiding civilization. Funny how it was he who had found her now. It was a shame he didn't find her first though, before that traitor Trooper did. She falls down on her backside then, and he's tempted to reach out for her, seeing as how the chasm has grown now, and there's barely a yard or two between her and it. Rey only recovers enough to whisper, "You do."

There's a beeping sound emanating from close by, and distantly, Rey acknowledges that.

It's usually the preamble to a detonation, the last thing some unfortunate sods hear after scavenging in places they shouldn't be.

If Kylo Ren's idea of revenge was to assault her mind once again followed by blowing them up, then he's a mad genius indeed. She'll give him that. Whatever he's done to her mind this time has unlocked something even more strange within her, and memories that shouldn't be hers jump to the front of the line, absolutely cutting the ones that are her's. She sees a little girl getting carried on the back of a boy that is barely breaching his teenage years, and she has no choice but to accept that the duo strangely resemble herself and Kylo. Although this Kylo and whomever this young man is, are miles apart in terms of morality, if she's anyone's guess. The boy is smiling for one, laughing carefree, whereas this wreck on the snow before her probably hasn't had a happy thought in decades.

"You used to pretend to be Han Solo, the 'super-duper amazing smuggler' as you'd call him," that same bitter smile is on his face, and his hand is holding the wound in his side where Chewbacca shot him. She has half a mind to press a boot to it, to watch him squirm, but she knows he won't. If anything, he'll probably end up hurting himself.

"And I was the Falcon. You were a shit pilot by the way, but I guess that's changed now huh?" His words are slurring, he must be barely lucid, because the tone of this conversation is uncharacteristically good-natured (?) as if they were old friends, and judging from the way he's speaking they were.

"It's alright if you don't remember, you will, and once you do, you can kill me if you so wish. It'll probably hurt more than ever once you see what I've done, and what I did to you." His tone is somber now, as if he's seeing these images right along with her. She's on her knees now, clutching her head. He was right about the pain, this does hurt, and if he's right, it'll only get worse.

She dreads that more than anything.

She just wants to go home.

Just wants to go back to Jakku.

But Jakku isn't your home Rey.

That man's voice, it's so beautiful, so much warmth to it. It's so kriffing cold out here, is all she can think, the only thought that seems to be hers anymore.

That same man told her about "her first steps" and now he's back again, telling her something she has already known, but has no choice but to lie to herself again and again.

Jakku is not my home, but that is where I need to be.

I just want to go back.

"There's nothing waiting for you there damn it!" Kylo rages, he's trying to sit up now, she forgot he's in her mind too.

"Jakku is a wasteland, it's where you were dropped off, where you were told to stay to wait for your family, right?"

He asks like he already knows the answer, he shouldn't.

"How-how do you know?" Rey didn't even waste her sanity on denying it, and something compels her to seek his gaze; she finds he's already giving it.

"Because it was me who dropped you off there."

It takes a while for it to sink in, his words have to be lies, they just can't be true. and yet there's something inside her, not her mind, but her heart. There is something within her that corresponds to his admission, and it validates his statement as fact. She wonder's then how it could be so, and as the pain in her mind subsides, a harmony soon takes its place. It's as if everything just sort of clicks for the first time ever, a relief in her mind that comes from knowing that she won't have to worry, ever again. The piece to the puzzle that you thought you would never find, but it turns out it was right in front of you the whole time. In this moment, she has no need to go back to Jakku, because right now she already is. The Dark blue hue of Starkiller has dissolved in to the familiar orange tan of Jakku, complete with it's humility. She's face to face with Kylo Ren once again, but he still resembles that same teenage boy - in the face at least. He looks so haunted, like he has just got finished committing a horrible deed that has left him with a void in his heart. Rey herself stands a few feet shorter than she does now, and she realizes not for the first time, that she and the girl are one and the same. She's reaching out for him, as he is to her, but he drops his hand. Confused, she hears words forming on his lips, but he stops them prematurely before he ever really gets them out.

She's crying she realizes, and her little hand is trembling, she feels a love for Kylo Ren that cannot be hers, not now at least. If this was them before any of this shit happened, then she's well and truly lost, just as much as the teenage boy with the long limbs and big ears complete with a mop of dark, inky hair that can only belong to the man behind the mask. Speaking of, Kylo Ren drops to a knee in front of her, no mask at all, but his clothing closely resembles the ones he wears in the present day, just not as snug, and he has no mask to hide behind. He grabs her hands, his much larger ones engulfs them, and his pleading, unstable stare scares her, yet she can't look away.

"Rey, you have to promise me, you have to promise me something. Alright?" His words are rushed, as if he doesn't have much time left.

"Ben, Ben please don't go, pleas-" She can hear the whimpers, the sobbing, she hasn't cried like this in a long time, not since her earlier years of scavenging. She feels embarrassed, but at the same time, she feels nothing at all.

"Rey, I can't, I'm so sorry, but I just, can't be here with you right now. Be strong, please, I need you to promise me, alright? You already know what I'm talking about, so please, just promise me." He's so unhinged, one would think he was a deranged man about to harm a little girl, but somehow, she knew better, she knew him better.

She shouldn't.

Eventually, she nods her head, and gives her assent, Kylo in turn nods and continues, "Promise me, that no matter what, you won't think of me as a monster. This is for the good of everyone, for your own good. Promise me Rey." The same promise, he hasn't lied after all about that.

"And you won't ever forget me right Ben? You'll be back?" Her eyes and hands hold on to him, as if her entire life depends on this answer.

"I promise. Do you?" He smiles, and she recognizes it instantly, it's one his signature broken grimaces that betray his inner turmoil. It's almost as if he's broken his promise already, and it seems that many years later, he has.

And like the naive little girl she is, she answers, ready and willing to believe in the best of him, "I promise."

From there, Kylo Ren picks her up, and gives her to Unkar Plutt, then drops something heavy looking in to a pouch and gives it to that blasted man. He growls something low in his voice, it sounds strangely like "Take care of her, or else..." And she can't hear the rest, but she knows now it's a threat. He has already slipping in to the monster, he just doesn't have the mask to complete the piece. He takes one more mournful look at her, then turns his back and strides quickly to a shuttle that must be his.

He never turned back.