Chapter 1: Goodbye Until (No) Tomorrow
The night was waning fast. She could see it, the moon sinking into the sky through the window molded from hardened, damp sand. She could see the moonlight, fading from his deep eyes. The horizon was shifting from an inky black to a potent grey.
Rey and Ben held each other in the darkness, their naked skin pressed together and slick with sweat. They knew how to make love, and not waste time while doing it.
Because in a situation such as theirs, if they were given half a chance to experience something sweet, they grabbed it, and held fast.
Rey had cursed the Force as cruel, for taking her love away from her after only a first, all-too-brief kiss on the rocky plains of Exogol. Since the end of the war, she had settled on Tatooine, reverting back to the childlike desert of stymied growth. Lost and adrift in a landscape so endless it was a wonder she hadn't been driven mad. She still sometimes wondered if she was mad. Her entire life had perverted into a sick joke since losing her Ben. She had thought fiction couldn't be any stranger than the hell that was her life... until it got even stranger.
A year ago exactly - that would have marked the first anniversary of the Battle of Exogol, and his death - Rey had been cleaning in the former Lars homestead, as dusk fell by way of the twin suns when quite suddenly:
There he was. Ben just appeared, right in front of her. At first, she had cried, bitter in her conviction that the Force had dared and deigned to mock her, after an exhausting enough day observing this first year without him, and acknowledging as best she could his sacrifice. "You're not real," she had tearfully whispered at him, shaking her head.
Then Ben had taken her in his arms and kissed her, the touch of his lips sending a shock through her body that this was real. In a sense.
But apparently it wouldn't be for long. Somehow, the Force had deemed it fit to have Ben appear to the other half of his Dyad in flesh and blood, but only for one night each year, after which he would fade away into the Cosmic Force. In that first, frantic bout of lovemaking and canoodling afterwards post-coitus, Ben had explained that he didn't manifest as a Force Ghost in the world beyond - not yet, anyway. When or if that would ever happen, he wasn't certain, never mind what it might mean for their one-night-a-year tryst. As the sun had risen that following morning, he had faded away in Rey's embrace, promising her that he would see her again in a year hence. The image of Ben disappearing before her eyes was enough to traumatize Rey and marvel at the Force's twisted mindset.
But she had dutifully waited, counting down the days much as she had while waiting in vain for her parents on Jakku, until this second time he did appear. Rey and Ben wasted even less precious time this cycle, working out their anguish and grief through hot, raw sex.
Now, he and she were simply dozing, and willing the moon to slow to a stop, or move backwards across the heavens - anything to keep the fair but sadistic sun from arising to kill its celestial rival.
"I wish this moment could last forever," Rey murmured, snuggling her head under Ben's chin.
She felt him shift against her to smile down into her chestnut hair. "Forever? You wanna spend forever with me, Rey?"
She beamed. "I do," she moaned.
He kissed her crown. "I wish I could make it so. But I have to go soon, darling."
She whimpered, clutching to him. The gray was shifting rapidly to a bright pink. Sunrise was minutes away. "No... please... Ben..."
"At least you're here, and have a life."
Tears angrily pricked at her eyes. "Life without you is not a life at all!" she snarled. "The Force is wicked!"
Ben just chuckled. "You don't mean that."
"I mean it!" she growled, clutching at him.
"At least you're alive! My sacrifice was worth something. And if I could do it again, I would stay that course."
Rey shook her head, eyes watering. "You don't mean that."
"I do mean it. I would die on Exogol again and again and again for you, just as long as you were left alive and unharmed... and waiting for me on this other side when I got out to be with you."
Orange flecks streaked across the sands beyond. Sunrise. Watching in melodramatic horror and grief, Ben began to fade away from Rey's embrace.
"Ben!" she pleaded.
He just grinned at her. "Keep a fair-weather eye on the horizon," he murmured.
Sobbing, Rey nodded, stealing one last kiss from his lips before these were the last to disappear.