Cumbersome, dainty footwear can't stop her from stomping down the halls toward his quarters, though they do add a determined click to her every step. Rey keeps the fine layers of the gown's iridescent skirt fisted in her hands so she doesn't trip. If he isn't ready -
The door to his room slides open and she stops short, breath caught in her chest. "You're not even dressed yet?"
He flinches at her shout from his place on the bed, turning his head away. "Please, lower your voice."
"Your mother will have my head if you're late to this dinner," she proclaims, striding fully into the room to stand in front of him. His hair's a mess. He's still shirtless. Still pantless. Even as a blush heats the back of her neck as she makes that last observation, she rages on, "I'm responsible for you, Senator Solo, and I'll be damned if I'll let you shirk your duties to the Republic."
"Rey, I - " he starts, running his hand down his face, then back up to push his untidy hair away.
They have no time for excuses. "Negotiations can't happen if you aren't there," she reminds him. "So, put something on and let's go."
"You aren't listening." He looks up at her, face long and sullen. "I feel like death."
Rey rolls her eyes. Skywalkers - she's learned in her months as Ben's guard after years training with his uncle, Luke - have a flair for drama. Though she admits he looks paler than usual, it can't be as bad as he claims.
"Stop being overdram - " As she speaks, Rey reaches for his forehead to assure him he's blowing this out of proportion. His clammy skin sears against her palm. "Oh!"
Rey crouches in front of him, the fluid-like skirt pooling around her in a halo. She slides her hand from his brow to his cheeks, resting the back of her hand against both to confirm her amateur diagnosis. "Ben, you're burning up."
"I feel like death," he reiterates, lips lifting. Maybe it's supposed to be one of his I-told-you-so grins that routinely end with playful punches to his shoulder, but it turns into something more akin to a grimace.
"Right," Rey agrees, running through simulations in her mind, altering the plan to keep them from completely falling out of the sky. Since her appointment, she's come to the conclusion that navigating the political asteroid field is just as dangerous and delicate as flying through a literal ring of orbiting rocks. With a new plan tentatively sorted, she stands and moves to leave, swearing under her breath.
"Rey?" Ben calls. "Where are you going?"
"I need to find a medical droid to come look at you. Then I need to contact General Organa. She's going to have to find a way to postpone. Maybe I can go apologize to the Chiss in your stead. And I'll need to form a contingency plan in case they refuse another meeting. Or on the slim chance they plan to retaliate. And I should- What are you doing?!"
He's standing. That's what he's doing, though he isn't doing it very well; he stumbles over his own feet and has to brace himself against the nearest wall. "I'm getting ready."
"What?" she asks incredulously. "No, n-n-no, Ben. You're sick."
"Yes," he confirms, inching his way along the wall and reaching for the robes hanging from the stand next to his vanity. "And it seems to be a major inconvenience for you."
"For me?" She'd laugh if he didn't seem so serious about it. His fever has to be interfering with his cognitive capacity. Even more reason he should get back in bed. "Ben, you can't go anywhere. You can barely stand."
He's doubled over again, looking like he might retch on the polished floor when he responds with, "Good thing I'll be eating dinner seated."
The exhalation that stutters past her lips is exaggerated for his benefit. They've been together long enough for her to know when his stubborn notions of duty will override any kind of common sense that might reside between his big ears. "Fine. But if you keel over during dessert, I'm eating your cake."
Ben turns a bit green at the mention of food, but he holds out the black robes and pants for her to take. "Help me?"
Rey starts with the pants. He rests his hands on her shoulders as she hunches over to slip his feet into the holes in the fabric. Once his feet are back on the floor, she hikes them up. The thighs give her a bit of trouble, and he shimmies his hips to persuade the snug garment to settle over his rear. Gently, she adjusts the front of him, making sure everything is tucked inside.
His fingertips dig into her shoulder blades. "Rey. . ."
"Shh. . ." she soothes, pressing a chaste kiss to his belly button before securing the fastening at his waist. "You're sick, remember?"
He's perked up a bit by the time she stands and tugs his undershirt over his head, taking care with each of his arms. Once they're through the openings, he places them back on her shoulders, as much for stability as a desire to have her close.
"Funny how my clothes go on faster than they come off," he comments, eyebrow peaked and a soft smile on his lips.
A faint blush colors her cheeks as she blows a strand of escaped hair from her face and casts his robes over his broad shoulders. Her excuse is a mutter. "We're in a rush."
The dark brow draws even higher on his forehead. "And we're not when-?"
She kisses him to shut him up. It's short, closed lipped, and dry except for the sweat lining his upper lip. Ben pulls back, shocked from his haze. "Rey, I could be contagious."
She shakes her head, humming in a dismissive way. "We haven't been out of each other's space for more than a few hours at a time since the election. If I could catch it, I'd have it by now."
She smooths his hair, still worried about the heat of his skin beneath her fingers, the way his unfocused eyes dart from her to the floor, as if unable to decide which he'd like to curl against. He really shouldn't be going anywhere that isn't within five yards of a 'fresher, but perhaps his hard-headedness will be balm enough to get them through the next couple of hours.
Rey adds on his accessories: polished black boots and a matching belt that holds his saber. Even in times of peace, the weapon maintains its presence; she visualizes him placing it on the silver tray at the beginning of the dinner - a sign of trust. Last of all are his gloves, which take several attempts given the perspiration on his palms.
"Are you sure you need these?" Rey asks, fighting with his fingers and the leather.
"Our guests would find it indecent." He stretches the digits wide to coax them into the second glove, then takes her hand in his, squeezing it with firm reassurance. "I'll get through this, Rey. If you'll stand with me."
She squeezes back with a small smile. "You know I'm here for you."
He straightens as much as he's able, then offers her his arm. She hesitates; normally, they walk several feet apart. They aren't exactly trying to advertise what they have, though General Organa and her Jedi brother had discovered their bond shortly after it began.
Rey slides her arm to hook under his, quickly realizing he needs her for stability. They shuffle toward the dining hall, going at the pace Ben sets even if it is going to make them later than strictly fashionable. By the time they're in front of the hall doors, his forehead is dotted with sweat and his breathing's gone ragged.
"Maybe we - " Rey starts, then amends, "You should be in bed."
He brushes his lips against her creased brow and now she knows he's far gone in his fever because he'd never make such an intimate display in front of the guards waiting to open the dining hall doors.
He whispers against her hair, "I understand your desire to undress me and get me into bed - "
"You're delusional," she mutters under her breath, only half-joking.
" - but there will be time for all of that after dinner." As he pulls away he winks at her, winks with his pretty eyes that crinkle at the corners when he smiles.
"Absolutely mad," Rey returns as she pats his chest and shakes her head. "The only thing happening after dinner will be me eating your cake."