Summary: "Darth Vader, or the man he was before the Dark Side took him, broke the sacred Jedi Law he had sworn to uphold and married Master Luke's mother, anyway. This must've been why, I think." A continuation of the hand-touch scene.
Notes: Yes, this story is in Rey first-person POV. (It's good though. Like you should read it.)
I reach out my hand. Slowly.
I wonder, if he drew his saber, if he slashed into the air, if he cut through my wrist, would my hand fall to the ground?
This isn't real.
It's all in my mind.
The same way I know that he won't draw his saber.
I look into his eyes. They are hesitant. But more than that — I can feel his hesitance. I can feel it as if it is my own hesitance. Maybe it is my own. My hand is shaking.
It he doesn't reach out, how foolish I'll look.
He makes up his mind in an instant by removing the glove from his hand and sliding his hand into the space.
I can feel the electricity spark between our untouching hands. What was it that Master Luke said made up all living things? Midichlorians? Or are those just inside people? Inside of us? Whatever it is, I can feel it bouncing between us. The force.
I can feel the force.
when our fingers touch,
palm against palm,
skin against skin,
the feeling intensifies tenfold.
I can see his future. The shape of it — solid, clear, hopeful. A room of red, Kylo and I surrounded by armed guards. We stand back-to-back, sabers ignited.
When the time comes, he will turn. He will fight at my side, a protector of the light.
Can he see what I can see?
I blink and feel a drop of wetness trickle down my cheek.
Ben, as always, shows no change of emotion on his face, but he doesn't need to. I can feel it. His mind — it is trembling.
We stay this way for a moment, neither of us moving. I half expect the entire galaxy to implode upon us. Aren't we breaking some rule here, after all?
I wish I knew the rules. Maybe I'd feel more stable if I knew exactly which rule I was breaking.
Ben makes it clear that he intends to continue breaking it when his fingers graze up my arm. He pushes past the thin blanket I've wrapped myself in; it falls to the side. When he travels past the wrap of fabric I wear and up to my bare shoulder, I shiver; my hairs stand up on end.
"How can I feel this?" I hear myself say. "How is this real?"
Ben doesn't give me an answer. He can't believe it either.
It is now that I realize how bizarre this must be for him especially, a man who spends his entire time gloved, masked, robed. How this must be the first time he's touched another human's flesh in several years.
I now desperately want to touch him, to give him more. He's a killer. He's a murderer. He doesn't deserve it.
I skim the pads of my fingertips up his arm and over the tightly-wrapped sleeve that binds it. I imagine what the skin would look like there, untouched by the sun's rays, pale as moonlight. He shuts his eyes, revelling in the feeling.
I think how strange we must look. A pair of enemies stroking each others' arms. We are still enemies, aren't we?
"More," my enemy commands softly, and I don't think of disobeying him for even a second.
I stand from my seat and walk to where he is kneeling. I kneel before him and reach out as slowly as I think to. I touch his cheek gently, half expecting him to jump up and away from me.
My eyes scan over the dark bags beneath his eyes, the freckles that create their own constellations, the long plane of his nose, the pink of his slightly pouted lips. You wouldn't think a villain to look just like you. You would think a villain to look scary, deformed, a monster. Not like this. Not so young, so vulnerable.
My fingers trace the scar I'd given him back on the Starkiller base.
He opens his eyes.
They are black. Greedy. Anguished. Starved. And something else I can't name or don't want to. They are the eyes of Kylo Ren. I am afraid.
I am not afraid of Ben Solo.
"Ben," I call to him. I take his ungloved hand in mine and lift it to my face. It moves without him telling it to. I should be scared that his fingers are around my neck, scared of what he could do to me, how easily he could take my life and not even bat an eye. If he choked me here and now, all these lightyears away, would I feel it? Am I strong enough to block it?
He traces my jaw, up my hairline, across my brows, down my nose. "Rey," he rumbles, coming from somewhere deep in his chest. It is the first time he has spoken my name aloud to me, and it does something to me. His eyes are back — Ben's eyes — and they are pleading.
When his touch reaches my lips, I inhale sharply.
He freezes, and I know I shouldn't have.
I hold my breath.
"More," he whispers.
I peel off his remaining glove and discard it. My hands begin, of their own accord, to unwrap the cloth that binds his arms. Once his left arm is free, I start on his right arm. He holds still, his hands on my face, as I run my palms up and down his thick arms. I feel ruds and raisings from healed battle wounds. He closes his eyes.
"More," he thinks to me.
I reach for my own sleeves and begin to undo them. The moment my arms are free, I move his hands to them. He comes alive at once, making sure he leaves burn marks on each arm, branding them as his.
He stands swiftly, and with his hands still on me, I stand, too. At his full height, he hovers menacingly over me. My heart races, and I'm embarrassed that he can hear it. Without a word, his hands go to my belt. He undoes it and I let him. It falls to the ground at my feet. I then undo his; my nervous fingers fumble with the latch. I toss it to the side.
My tunic is easy; I simply lift my arms over my head while he grabs at the hem and pulls it up and off of me. He savors my neck and shoulders with his fingertips. His is a little more complex and takes some twisting and looping, but he helps me out. All he wears beneath it is a thin black cotton piece, and I nearly rip it off out of impatience. I remember the sight of his bare chest from the last time we'd connected like this — broad and smooth — and how it'd both frightened and excited me, like the first time I'd stolen in to a broken-down speeder while its captain slept to strip it for parts so I could eat supper. (I'd justified it to myself by the fact that he was going to have to repair it, anyway. I was nine years old, and it has been a long, long time since I've felt guilty or attempted to justify my actions in such moments.) This time I am seeing Kylo Ren up close, and I am seeing him because I want to, and that is as much justification as I need. I slide my hands over his wide pectoral muscles, around his broad shoulders, back around and down the scar, down his firm abdomen. When my touch travels too near the waistline of his trousers, I hear his breathing become shaky.
He grabs at my hips and waist over the tight and revealing undergarment I wear. His gaze floods over all of me, all at once. I am drowning. My heart is pounding. I have never felt so vulnerable as his eyes touch every part of me, committing me entirely to memory.
I can feel his self-loathing, so raw it is nearly melting off of him. He is disgusted with himself for how badly he wants me. One word keeps replaying itself on a loop in his head: "beautiful".
"You enrage me, Rey the Scavenger," he says in his deep baritone, and it ignites me. "Why does it have to be you."
"I-I don't know." I wish it wasn't. Everything would be so much easier.
"Mm," he agrees, reading my thoughts.
"What shall we do about it, then?"
My knees are shaking, but he holds me up. But he doesn't really. It's all in my head. None of this is real. Maybe I'm holding myself up. But how can I tell? What's real and what isn't?
Is Ben real? Does he live in my head, an amalgamation of things that Master Luke has told me? This man that holds me now — is he Kylo Ren?
"I can sense your unease. I know what plagues you." His eyes dart back and forth between both of mine as he reads my thoughts. "I am Kylo Ren. I am the commander of the Knights of Ren, the apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke. I am your enemy." I know that no matter what I had forseen, right now, he is still that. "You worry that there is nothing you can say to turn me."
"That is not what worries me," I tell him honestly. I can feel his mind probing mine, searching for the true source of my worry. My fingers trace his bare chest once more. They linger on the scar. "I've never felt anything quite like this before," I whisper.
"I don't think anyone has."
So it's just us.
"Does that frighten you?" he asks, his voice low.
He steps closer — dangerously close — and I do not back away, although I think to. I wonder if, in his head, in this version of not-real that he is seeing, he sees me back away, because I have thought it. Perhaps he does, because he takes another step, almost overwhelming me.
And then, his voice even lower, "Do I frighten you?"
I swallow and put on a brave face. "N—" I begin. But before I've finished, my mouth is being otherwise occupied.
Darth Vader, or the man he was before the Dark Side took him, broke the sacred Jedi Law he had sworn to uphold and married Master Luke's mother, anyway.
This must've been why, I think.
His lips are large, as is all of him, and they completely envelope mine in the most innocent way. I get the sense that he has never done this before and he isn't quite sure how — (when one's agenda is to conquer and abolish the free universe, one's schedule must leave very little time for social fraternizing) — but his attempt makes a mockery of me, makes me weak. He kisses me a second time, a third, a fourth, each time more decisive and confident.
I can see into his mind, feel his anger for giving into his emotions, his desire for me versus his conflict with the light I exude. Is it my duty as the next Jedi Knight to use everything at my disposal to get the galaxy's second most powerful sith to become an ally of the light?
I kiss him back, and this makes him angrier. I wonder why anger is his first instinct, and if Snoke had taught him this as a means of control, perhaps. I bring my hands up to his face experimentally. I stroke his cheeks, his hair. With every touch the light seeps through his cracks. My stomach flips over and over; my other arm comes up to rake itself around his neck and pull him down closer, and I stand on my toes, and I sigh and I think to him — "Ben," — and then I'm flying across the room.
My back hits the wall, hard. I lose my vision for a moment.
So he can use the force against me now.
I am angry. How dare he. How dare he! Have I done nothing but reciprocate his actions?! Have I done nothing but what he'd asked of me?
"Have I done something to offend you?"
The villain smirks, and then he marches towards me, through the fire which he cannot see or feel, and he catches me once more with his mouth, and he traps me between the wall and his body.
When I reach into his mind, I see much sinister things than I had before, and all of my nerve endings begin to buzz with delight.
His kisses become harder, more desperate. I can hardly breathe. Maybe he has done this before. A wave of jealousy washes over me, and I grasp at the muscles of his back. Ben slams a palm against the brick behind me and drags it up the wall, drags me up the wall using the force. This is good; I can reach him much easier this way. My arms wrap tightly around his neck, my hands in that glorious hair that I've wanted to touch since the first time he'd lifted his mask off for me.
Now at the same height, Ben's tongue forces its way past my teeth, something I hadn't even thought to try myself. I get jealous again. I wonder what wealthy, tall, beautiful daughter of a First Order Commander has been kissed by Ben Solo before. But I am not wealthy, nor a commander's daughter, nor am I particularly tall. I am a scavenger. So I kiss him like a scavenger — dirty, starved, open-mouthed, and with nothing to lose.
"Trust me,"he thinks at me. "No other experience would dare compare."
I wonder for the first time who it is that is kissing me, but the passion which with he executes each movement of his body against mine tells me that I think I already know. I hitch my leg up experimentally around his hip, hooking my ankle at his thigh, and he makes a wonderful sound that thrills me. His grip slides up my thigh unsteadily. His mouth parts from mine to plant sloppy kisses down my jawline. He pushes images at me, images full of lust that show the two of us in scandalous positions.
The sensible part of my brain raises a red flag that this is a sith tactic to lure me to the Dark Side, to poke at my weakest spot — the spot that craves companionship and a sense of belonging. Then, when he nips at the sensitive skin of my neck right beneath my ear, I know that it is. I push an image right back to him. One where he is clad in a soft gray color, his saber glowing an electric blue. One where we are living, fighting, working side-by-side, together.
He wants it. I can feel it.
A fistful of my hair in his hand, he yanks my head back, but the action feels more passionate than violent. "That is not what I want," he growls.
We pant, breathing heavy like we're taking our very first or our very last. "You can't hide your true feelings from me, Ben."
It's just us.
He squeezes my upper thigh, and I suck in another sharp intake of breath. "I'm not hiding anything. It is you who hides your true feelings from me."
"I feel I've been very transparent with you," I object. Bare might be a better word.
His eyes are probing. "What do you want, Rey."
"I want you to turn. To help me take down the First Order."
"No. That's what the Resistance wants." He brushes a lock of hair out of my face. "What do you want?"
He is toying with me, tricking me; I know it. But I am weak. I tell him what he wants to hear. I tell him the truth. "I want to figure out my place in all this. I want to not feel so lonely all the time. I want..." I can't finish the thought that I know is wrong but that I can't help but to feel.
"Yes?" He kisses my neck.
"I want... I want..."
"I want you."
He tosses me like a ragdoll with the force, but I'd seen in his mind that he'd been about to and I guide the force to land me gently on my feet on the opposite side of the fire. His eyes rake over me. His thoughts go wild. He likes the way I look, how disheveled my appearance is, and all because of him, his hands, his teeth, his hips.
He calls the forgotten blanket over with the force and lays it out at my feet, straightening out the wrinkles. I undo my boots and leave them behind as I kneel down on it. He walks to me, and he steps out of his own boots. He kneels before me, and his thoughts have become boyish, innocent, wary. He looks at me for a long moment. He touches my face.
"What will your friends think," he thinks to me, "to know you've been touched by Kylo Ren."
I don't tell him that I know the difference between when Ben is touching me and when Kylo is touching me, and right now the former's thumbs stroke my cheeks beneath my eyes.
"What will yours think," I counter, "to know that you have let Luke's padawan survive?"
"You're lucky on both accounts," his thoughts ring out. "You're my only friend."
This admittance shatters me into pieces. I reach for him.
We remove the remainder of each others' clothing, and the fire flickers above our heads and casts beautiful shadows across his milk-white skin. He lays me down gently, and I notice when he lowers himself down atop me that his elbows shake, and I don't think that it's from holding up his own weight.
"I've never done this before," I admit to him softly.
"What do you want?" He asks me.
I swallow nervously. He'd asked me this very question only moments ago, but this time there is a hugely different connotation to it, I know. I try to think selfishly. I try to think like a scavenger. For I am no jedi yet. If my actions tonight have proven anything, they have proven this.
"Everything," I tell him.
Then it is him who swallows.
He begins with his hands. I let him touch me everywhere he wants to, and he does. Everywhere. His gaze never leaves my face as he gauges my reaction to each new part of my body he lays claim to. Next, he marks his territory with kisses, from my mouth to my navel and back again. My stars, I've never felt anything remotely like this. All I can do is hold on to him and try to remember to breathe. Again, I wonder how he knows what he's doing, but his thoughts turn to shame and he silences me with more kisses.
"She's no one," he thinks to me. "We had nothing."
"Show me," I whisper. "Show me what you did with her."
He nods once, his face grave, and then.
He moves to me, and I with him, and he gives me everything he has, everything he is, everything he wants to be but doesn't know that he can be, but I know that he can be. And I realize that I'd been wrong in assuming the reason that Anakin Skywalker had abandoned the jedi code.
For surely this is why.
I pull him close, closer, closer. I can't get close enough. His skin slick against mine, his breath warm on my face, his hair weaving through my fingers, the muscles of his back and shoulders rippling beneath my palms, his mouth and tongue and teeth all over me. And he is amazed, astounded, dazzled, even; says it's never been like this before — "Not like this."
After, when the ship he is aboard rushes to lightspeed and collides with Ahch-To, when the black hole we have accidentally created swallows the entire galaxy whole, when he collapses atop me, spent, I wonder if what I've done is an act of betrayal towards the Resistance, or was it a key that unlocked something inside of Kylo Ren, a crack in the glass cage that holds Ben Solo — a crack that will turn into a fissure which will lead to his ultimate freedom?
Our breathing in sync, we lie there together for an immeasurable amount of minutes. How is this man in my arms the same man who destroyed Luke's training temple, who enabled genocide on who knows how many planets, who murdered his own father?! At least I have proof now that there is still good in him, that Ben is still alive.
And here I am, after what we've just done together, still justifying the way I feel about the disaster of a man that is Kylo Ren versus my committment to Luke Skywalker's teachings and Leia Organa's cause.
I worry that he'd been reading my thoughts as he sits up to look at me. "This doesn't change anything, you know," he says. "I am still the apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke, and you the apprentice of a washed-up has-been."
"You mean Luke," I say. I brush his hair, wild and unruly, back and out of his eyes.
He slides the pad of his thumb across my bottom lip, bright red and swollen. "We aren't even physically inhabiting the same star system at the moment."
To think that all of this had occurred only in our minds. I shudder involuntarily as the thought occurs to me that I'd like to know what it'd be like in person.
"You're going to come to me." It sounds like a command, as all of his utterances tend to do, but it isn't. He is reading my thoughts again.
"I will have no choice but to bring you before the Supreme Leader, and he will deal with you as he sees fit."
"There is always a choice."
His eyes bore into mine helplessly. "Don't come," he says silently. "Stay here. With Skywalker, you are safe."
I trace his scar again. I lift my head up to place a small kiss atop it. I know that my choice has already been made... perhaps it was made for me a very long time ago by forces I cannot control.
"You will not let him hurt me," I whisper.
His thoughts now echo doubt. Doubt that he would stop his master from hurting me, or doubt that he even could, I do not know.
Ben feels Luke's presence before I do. His jaw clenches. "Remember what I told you."
I'm not alone.
Luke enters in a rage, throwing the door open violently with the force. I blink and I am sitting at the fire once more, wrapped in a damp blanket, and there is Ben, fully clothed, across from me, kneeling, arm outstretched, fingertips touching mine. He is looking at Luke; his face shows no terror, only sadness. I blink again and Ben is gone and Luke is yelling.
Luke is angry, and he created Kylo Ren; he created the creature that keeps me from Ben; it is storming out, and Luke is yelling, and I am angry, and I am awake, and I am alive. Ben is gone, and Kylo with him.
I call my staff to me.
I know what I have to do.