A/N: This was originally posted as part of a larger series, but I received multiple requests to continue this story, so here we are. This will probably be one of the last stories I'll post on FanFiction, the rest of my current works and any future stuff can be found on my AO3 account Earial13. Go and check it out!
Rey hummed softly to herself as she walked briskly down the polished obsidian halls of Starkiller Base. Another day at work, another day ensuring the giant base ran as smoothly as oiled clockwork. She shifted her shoulders as the scratchy First Order radar technician uniform scraped uncomfortably at her neck. One couldn't expect standard-issue uniforms to fit perfectly, but they might have used a bit better material.
Trust the First Order to be stingy with their employee's and lavish in their products. Rey thought with an eye roll. She promptly quashed the disloyal thought, however, she was lucky to have this job, and the First Order suffered no traitors. At least it's lunchtime. Rey's lips quirked upwards in appreciation of the small silver lining. She must have jinxed something somehow, because before she could enter the caf, her comm link pinged.
Rey groaned, already anticipating the contents of the message as she glanced at the comm. Some officer was complaining about a broken 'fresher, and Rey's boss wanted her to fix it, even though Rey was most assuredly not a plumber. None of that mattered to an officer. According to them, if you had a name tag and a 401k, any and all of the employees performed the same functions, regardless of their actual job description.
Rey bit back a sigh of frustration at the thought as she rounded a corner and heard raised voices. One she recognized as her coworker Myra, the other sounded vaguely familiar, yet she couldn't place it until the speakers came into view. The sight that met her wide eyes was a slightly amusing one.
Wires and tools lay strewn about the floor, evidently for the purpose of fixing the large panel in the wall that stood open, sparks shooting from its circuits. Smoke drifted from the black depths of the vent. Myra was squawking angrily at a gangly blonde man wearing ridiculously oversized glasses who fiddled helplessly with the wires, annoyance growing evident on his face.
Ah, the new guy. Matt, if she remembered correctly.
"Does that look like the calcinator?" Myra exclaimed, gesturing towards the sparking wire Matt held up for her inspection. "What's wrong with you? Why's it so hard for you to understand?" Her voice rose with each word, and she looked about ready to give the man a whooping his mother forgot. And Rey knew Myra, she would whoop Matt unless Rey did something.
"I don't know, but can you please stop yelling at me? You're starting to stress me out." Matt retorted, his own voice rising in irritation as he pushed his 2cm-thick glasses up his beaky nose.
Rey felt a twinge of sympathy for the man, she easily recalled her first few weeks on Starkiller base and the distinct lack of support she'd received from her new coworkers. She glanced around the hallway surreptitiously, the officer could wait a few minutes before his precious 'fresher was fixed, and she knew that Myra's supervision over Matt would only cause the both of them greater frustration.
"Hey Myra," She called, making her decision as she stepped up to the pair. "You must be hungry, do you want me to finish helping him while you go take your break?"
Myra's surprised look was only surpassed by the shocked expression on Matt's face. It was rather comical. Myra soon recovered though, and jumped on Rey's offer.
"Why sure, thanks Rey, I haven't had my muffin yet." Myra shot a baleful glower at Matt as she finished, clearly insinuating that she felt he was responsible for her muffin-deprivation.
"No problem," Rey smiled, kneeling down to inspect the open vent as the woman huffed off. "So, trying to rewire the calcinator, huh?" She commented by way of introduction to the newbie.
Matt gazed at her through his thick glasses in puzzlement and slight bewilderment. "Ah, yes...rewiring the calcinator…." He grabbed a pair of pliers upside down and waved them around as if to prove his statement. "Doing just fine, really."
Rey bit back a grin at the man's awkwardness as she pointed into the vent. "Okay, so can you reach that black box for me on the left?"
"The calcinator?" At Rey's nod, Matt hurriedly said, "Of course, that calcinator."
"Grab that red wire and wrap the ends around those two knobs on the calcinator."
Matt's large fingers dwarfed the delicate wires as he fumbled to follow Rey's instructions. He clearly was not meant to be a radar technician. Rey briefly wondered how he'd managed to get the job before pushing the thought away as unkind.
"There's not enough wire on the ends." Matt's voice echoed back from inside the vent.
Rey pushed the pliers at him through the hole. "Strip back some of the plastic coating with these."
There was a pause, a short snap, a thump, and a muffled curse.
"You alright?" Rey asked, bending down in an attempt to see farther into the vent.
"I'm fine." Came the terse reply, before a slight pause. "However, the wire is not."
Rey pursed her lips in amusement, pushing a spare spool of copper wire through the vent. "Take this," She instructed. "And it's fine, you're doing great." She added, hoping the calcinator would still be intact at the end of its rewiring.
There was another loud thunk as Matt hastily extracted his head from the vent to peer at her with big brown eyes. She hadn't noticed their color earlier, obscured as they were by the glasses. Matt squinted as if trying to deduce a problem. "Was that a...compliment?" He sounded weirdly suspicious, and yet...hopeful at the same time.
"Uh, yes?" What was she supposed to say to that?
"I like it." He said decisively. "You should say more of those to me."
Finally. Rey hummed in delight as she surveyed the canteen for an open seat, holding her tray expectantly. With Matt's unexpected rewiring lesson and the broken 'fresher, she had had to take her lunch almost two hours later than normal.
She spotted a quiet table in the corner and made a beeline for it, plunking down on the hard metal bench with a relieved sigh of gratitude. She was famished, but before she could swallow a bite, someone sat down right next to her. Literally, right next to her, their legs brushing hers. Was personal space no longer a thing or something?
Rey turned her head, about to ask the impudent individual to kindly use the rest of the expansive table available for their use, but the words dried in her throat. It was Matt.
Great. Forcing a fake smile, she grinned and greeted the radar tech cheerfully. "Hey Matt, sorry I didn't realize that was you."
"Most people don't." He said offhandedly, scraping his spoon against the tin food tray.
What is that supposed to mean? Rey wondered, taking a quick bite of her food to escape more conversation. She had originally meant to be helpful and kind to this Matt guy, as she knew how difficult it was being the odd man out, but he was quickly growing weirder by the minute. She almost choked on her lunch at his next nonchalant comment.
"I saw you in your room this morning."
"In your office," He continued, apparently not noticing her violent reaction as he ate his food. "You were talking with your subordinate."
Rey frowned, rehearsing her morning schedule in her mind. "That's not my office, that's our boss's office, and I was talking with our boss." She replied, confused as to Matt's naivete, even given the fact he was a new hire. These were things even a rookie should know.
Matt didn't miss a beat. "Well, you should be the boss, you were clearly destined to rule."
"Rule? Ha, that's a big jump from radar technician, don't you think?" Rey snorted, dismissing the idea. She did actually want to become a supervisor, and was hoping the next promotion would reward her for her hard work. She wasn't going to tell Matt any of that, though.
Her lunch suddenly didn't seem as appealing anymore, and she pushed the table away as she quickly stood. "Good chat, Matt, but I have to get back to work." Rey fibbed, grabbing her tray and making her escape, ignoring Matt's words that floated out after her.
"...should still have 20:00 standard minutes, according to the official First Order employee handbook…"
It was the end of another long work day. Rey massaged her head, hoping a migraine didn't crop up, she'd had enough headache material for the day. She rummaged in her locker for her bag, eyes falling on the picture of her grandfather. Papa Palps was the reason she had this job to begin with, but Rey preferred to keep her ancestry out of the spotlight. She wanted to earn her place at Starkiller, not have it handed to her like some inheritance. She'd prove she was every bit the leader her grandfather was; she would make him proud.
Rey shut the metal door to her work locker with finality, and jumped when she turned around and found Matt a meter away. "Oh, hi Matt, I didn't see you there." She laughed breathily, trying to cover up the fact he had surprised the kriff out of her.
"I wanted to thank you for helping me today, and for eating lunch with me." He stated solemnly, dark brown eyes unblinking behind his glasses. "I appreciate someone treating me nicely."
"Oh, you're welcome, I remember how I felt when I first got this job. Pretty lonely. Guess the First Order's not big on teamwork, huh?" She cracked a grin at the attempted joke, but Matt remained stoic.
"So you know how it feels to be alone, then?" He observed, pointedly ignoring her last comment.
She paused, uncomfortable with the sudden direction the conversation was taking. "Yeah, sure, I mean, doesn't everybody? We all feel alone once in awhile." She tried to laugh off her uneasiness and the past memories Matt's words were bringing to her mind.
"No, not everybody feels alone." More staring. "Not most people." He was leaning closer to her now.
Rey squirmed and glanced around the room, desperate for something to divert the man's laser-focused attention. Her gaze landed on an open locker, Matt's she supposed, that bore a large poster of Kylo Ren.
"Big fan of the boss?" She asked, pointing towards the poster. Mercifully, Matt turned and followed her gaze.
"Yes, Kylo Ren is the best. Did you know that he has an eight-pack? That he's shredded?"
Rey's comm suddenly beeped and her boss's voice rasped over it, "Rey, you better not be off the clock yet, I need you in Quadrant A113 immediately!" Rey silently thanked the powers that be for saving her from answering Matt's awkward questions, even if it meant overtime. If there was one thought that had never entered her mind before today, it was the number of Kylo Ren's abs. Oh stars, I never want to think of Kylo Ren and eight-packs in the same sentence again.
"Well, I have to go, but it was nice talking to you, and I'll see you tomorrow!" She called over her shoulder to Matt as she practically raced out the door.
Matt aka Kyo Ren watched her leave with a measure of regret. In the midst of the literal hell that was being a (even temporary) radar technician, Rey had been the one bright spot in his day. She was nice to him, simply because….she was nice. There were no ulterior motives (that he knew of anyways), she talked to him and helped him because she wanted to, not because he was their boss that could fire and/or kill them on a moment's notice.
He paused to appreciate the lovely poster of himself, shut the horrid little locker, and stalked out of the room, deep in thought. He almost wouldn't mind staying a radar technician for a few more days, if it meant he could interact more with Rey. His lips twitched upwards at the thought, but his countenance quickly turned sour when he recalled her evident desire to escape his company moments ago. His feelings, err, enjoyment of their shared company was obviously not mutual.
Maybe proving he had a eight-pack would help.