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True North

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Professor Ben Solo, Head of the Astrophysics Department at Chandrila University, stood at the front of a large lecture hall, ready to welcome another throng of new, eager students for their first Astronomy class. Most of them were taking it as a simple elective, while others were planning on pursuing a degree in either Astrophysics or Astronomy.

 

He would be there to guide them on their path – at least for this class. For those that decided that their future lie in the stars – he would mentor them as their advisor and the department head, helping them become the brilliant scientists that would make the next big discovery.

 

He waited five extra minutes for the first day stragglers to find their way in before smiling at the group, indicting to his TA that she should start handing out the syllabi. He went through his typical first day routine, his expectations from his students, as well as the assignment list on the syllabus. He dismissed class a half hour early, smiling as they scattered to the four winds, thankful to have an extra thirty minutes to themselves.

 

….

 

As Rey walked into the first class she was actually interested in, she stopped in her tracks as she caught a glimpse of the professor, Finn plucking at the sleeve of her shirt as he stopped beside her. “Peanut? You okay?” Her best friend eyed her curiously, following her gaze to where Ben stood at the front of the lecture hall.

 

“Oh… already got a crush on the professor, huh?” Finn grinned at her before pointing to empty seats in the middle of the hall. “Come on, perfect seats for you to view your new crush.”

 

Rey narrowed her eyes at Finn as she followed him. “Shut up, Finn!”

 

Finn laughed in response, winking at Rey as they settled into their seats. “What’s the matter, Peanut? Afraid he’ll hear us?”

 

“Shut. Up. Finn,” Rey enunciated every word, glaring at her friend before she glanced back at the professor. He was probably the most incredible looking man she had ever seen, with a mane of soft, wavy hair that curled just below his collar, a strong jaw and a long, aquiline nose. A smattering of moles dotted his face and neck, and as he looked out over the lecture hall, Rey noticed a pair of intense bourbon eyes that she immediately wanted to drown in.

 

This class was quickly becoming her favorite – for more reasons than the fact that she wanted to major in Astrophysics.

 

….

 

Rey tried desperately for three weeks to think of a way to approach Professor Solo, each class spent in rapt attention, hyperaware of every movement he made. Finn thought it was hilarious, of course, but Rey couldn’t help herself – she found him so alluring, for some reason, even though he had to be at least ten years older than her.

 

She had spent the first two classes eyeing his left hand carefully for any signs of a wedding ring, silently cheering when she saw nothing. Of course, she couldn’t ignore his hands after that – they were large and strong, and Rey tried not to think about what they might feel like against her skin.

 

She failed fantastically in that mission.

 

Finally, three weeks into the semester, Rey got her chance to get Professor Solo’s attention. She never spoke openly about the soulmark that rested upon her neck, a soulmark that was in the shape of the constellation Lyra. She tried not to think about it, because she had yet to find her soulmate – the other person who had the same exact mark on them.

 

What was the point in having a soulmark if you never found your soulmate? Rey knew she never would, that she was destined to be alone forever. Of course, she had tried dating while she waited, had even fancied herself in love with a couple men – but they had all left her when they saw her soulmark.

 

She was good enough for sex, but not good enough to be in a relationship with – because what was the point of being in a relationship with someone if they had a soulmate out there? They left her, much like her parents had left her as a baby.

 

When Professor Solo started his lecture on the heavenly bodies, showing a PowerPoint presentation on the eighty-eight constellations, Rey snorted when he reached the lore surrounding the constellation Lyra, causing him to stop and look out amongst the students.

 

“Miss Niima? Most females find the story behind Lyra romantic. Do you have a dissenting opinion on our cursed lovers?” Professor Solo’s dulcet voice floated through the lecture hall towards her, making goosebumps appear on her skin.

 

Standing, Rey smirked before remarking, “I do. Orpheus was a moron, and I find nothing romantic about their story. He didn’t trust enough in Eurydice to believe that she was behind him, and she met her ultimate fate because he didn’t have that faith. With all due respect, Professor Solo – Orpheus deserved the fate he met from the Thracian Maenads.”

 

“Interesting,” Professor Solo said, “Thank you for offering your opinion, Miss Niima.”

 

Rey sat down, looking over at Finn, who was grinning at her. “Nice way to get his attention, Peanut.”

 

“Shut up,” Rey murmured, watching Professor Solo as he went back to his lecture.

 

….

 

Ben had to admit, Rey Niima had an interesting view on the constellation Lyra. As he turned back to his PowerPoint, Ben rubbed at the soulmark on his neck, carefully hidden by his hair. He had his own ideas about the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, but the constellation had always been his favorite – since his soulmark was in the shape of it.

 

As the years progressed, Ben had lost hope of finding his soulmate, and at thirty, he was resigned to the fact that he would be a bachelor forever. Sure, he could date – and he had – but nothing ever worked out for him. He had grown accustomed to the loneliness by now.

 

When Rey approached him at the end of class with a question about their next assignment, Ben was captured by her hazel eyes and the smattering of freckles dotting her face. He had never been attracted to a student before, not even the ones who decided that Professor Solo was the hottest man on campus – which he never understood, since he wasn’t that special, or even good-looking. Still, as her hazel eyes met his and she smiled at him, Ben felt something blossoming to life in his chest.

 

When she turned away to leave after he answered her question, he realized why: she had the same soulmark on her neck, her hair pulled back in three buns leaving it exposed to him.

 

Maybe there was hope for him, after all. As his heart pounded in his chest, Ben tried to decide how he should bring up the subject to her, finally calling out, “Miss Niima?” before she left the lecture hall.

 

Rey had almost left the lecture hall when Professor Solo called her name out, his voice a low rumble as it reached her ears. She turned, raising a brow questioningly as she looked at him. “Yes, Professor Solo?”

 

“Stop by my office at your first possible convenience, please. There’s something I need to discuss with you regarding this class.” Ben focused on shoving papers into his messenger bag, so he didn’t have to look into her beautiful hazel eyes again.

 

Rey gulped, her face coloring before she nodded, plastering a smile on her face like nothing was wrong. “Sure. I’ll stop by after my next class.”

 

Professor Solo never answered her, instead brushing past her on his way out of the lecture hall.

 

….

 

Ben found it hard to grade papers and prepare his next lectures knowing that she would be walking through his office door sometime in the near future. How was he ever going to bring up the subject with her? Was there a protocol for such a thing?

 

After some thought, Ben pulled out a form from his desk, deciding that the only way to tell her would be while removing her from his class – which was standard protocol when Professors had a soulmate taking classes in their department. She would have to be transferred to the other faculty teaching the course – which happened to be Peter Snoke.

 

Ben stopped writing for a moment, his brow furrowing in thought. He and Snoke weren’t friendly, and he knew Snoke resented him for getting the Chairman position in the department – one that he had wanted. It would be problematic for Rey if Snoke found out she was his soulmate.

 

An hour later, while Ben was grading papers, a light knock sounded on his doorframe, and he looked up to find Rey standing there, nervously shifting from foot to foot as she waited for him to tell her to come in.

 

With a small smile, Ben waved her into his office. “Come on in, Rey, please shut the door behind you.”

 

Rey felt even more nervous as she closed the door, settling herself into the chair in front of Professor Solo’s desk. Her eyes met his, and her breath hitched in her throat at how handsome he was, especially this close to her.

 

“Rey, I am transferring you to Professor Snoke’s class, and I need you to sign this transfer sheet, please.”

 

Rey’s eyes widened, and she shook her head softly, her voice quiet as she said, “Professor Solo, I am so sorry if this is because of my answer in class today. I signed up for your class because I am going to major in Astrophysics, and you are the best Professor in that department, according to everyone I have talked to. Please, I don’t want to transfer. I think you can see how hard I work, I’ve gotten A’s on every assignment so far.”

 

Ben nodded his head in agreement. “I do see that, Miss Niima. However; we have another issue that prevents me from having you in my classes. Earlier today, when you were leaving class, I saw something I found… interesting.”

 

Rey gulped before answering in a small voice, “Y-you did?”

 

Ben nodded, reaching up to pull his hair off his neck.

 

The constellation Lyra appeared, a perfect mirror to her own soulmark.

 

With tears blurring her eyes, Rey turned and ran from the room, not knowing exactly what she was running from.

Chapter Text

Rey ran because that was what she always did. Her life had been spent running – from a drunk foster father who raised a hand to hit her, from a pervy foster brother who decided he wanted to play doctor and patient with her when she was twelve.

 

And now from her soulmate.

 

She ran because that’s what made her feel better, until she could process the information she had and decide on a course of action. In this case, her first move was to go to the large fountain in the courtyard of the college. The sound of water falling behind her as she perched on the basin of it comforted her, and Rey found her breathing evening out, and her heart rate slowing as she took in deep breaths of fresh air.

 

Professor Solo was her soulmate. Professor Solo, who was incredibly good-looking and very, very smart -  was her soulmate. What if he didn’t want her? What if he had a girlfriend already?

 

Rey knew the details of having a soulmate, and she had heard all the stories. It didn’t have to be a romantic relationship. You could have a platonic soulbond. Perhaps that would be what Professor Solo would want with her – the best of friends and nothing more. That would probably be her luck, because Rey didn’t see how a man like him could ever want a girl like her.

 

She was a nobody. She came from nowhere, from nothing.

 

Who would want someone like her for a soulmate?

 

Rey pulled out her phone and texted Finn – the only person who really knew about her background, because he came out of the foster system as well – hoping he would be able to meet her. She desperately needed someone to talk to.

 

<Rey> Finn, I need you. Can we meet somewhere ASAP?

 

….

 

An hour later, with her favorite iced coffee and a pastry in hand, Rey sat across from Finn, her best friend eyeing her with concern. Reaching out, Finn patted her hand, trying to comfort her. “What is wrong, Peanut? If you chew on your lip anymore, you’re going to make it bleed.”

 

“I… Finn… Professor Solo…” Rey gulped in a huge breath of air, her heart racing in her chest as she thought about everything. I have a soulmate. He won’t want me, oh God, I’m a failure… he won’t want me, I’ll have to transfer… what if he wants to be a friend only?

 

“Yes? Professor Hottie – I am only calling him that because I know you have a thing for him – so, what about him? Use your words, Rey.”

 

Rey rolled her eyes at Finn, finally steeling herself to talk.

 

“You… you know I have that… mark .” Rey gestured towards her neck and the soulmark resting there, visible currently to everyone who looked at her.

 

“Yeah?” Finn took a drink of his coffee, waiting for Rey to continue.

 

“He… Professor Solo…” Rey sighed, tucking some hair behind her ears and chewing on her bottom lip more before continuing, “Professor Solo has a matching mark… he… he’s my…”

 

“Soulmate.” Finn finished for Rey, watching as she nodded almost sadly.

 

“Oh, Peanut, that’s wonderful news!” Finn grabbed her free hand on top of the table and squeezed it, grinning at her. “I mean, you were already crushing on him, right? I mean, now he’s your soulmate, he can’t just tell you to go away, right? Isn’t that how this works?”

 

Rey tried to keep the tears at bay, swallowing hard before shrugging her shoulders. “I-I don’t know. You can have platonic relationships with soulmates too. I mean, he already tried to transfer me to some other Professor’s class. I… what if he doesn’t want me, Finn? What if he rejects me? I mean… everyone else has – except for you and the, like, four other people I am friends with.”

 

“Oh, Peanut, stop that. This is our new beginning, we both agreed on that, right? I think it’s great, and it’s probably protocol that he transfers you. You know, so he doesn’t show favoritism towards his soulmate? I think you need to talk to him, Rey. You’ll never know until you do, right?” Finn looked at her, squeezing her hand again, gently.

 

“I... I guess so,” Rey said softly, squeezing Finn’s hand back. “But, I think I need a couple days to process. Do you think that’s okay?”

 

“Yeah, makes sense. It’s a huge thing, you know… life changing.” Finn took a drink from his coffee and smirked at Rey. “So, this will be fun. After I ask that cute girl that sits in front of me out, you know the one? Rose Tico? I mean… we can double date!”

 

Rey groaned, rolling her eyes. “Finn, Professor Solo is, you know, older than us. Oh my God… what if that is a thing? What if he doesn’t want someone as young as me?” Rey felt her heart starting to betray her once more, taking flight like a hummingbird, and her breath hitched in her throat.

 

“Well, then I guess you stay in and have a lot of great sex?” Finn winked at her, his tone teasing as he smiled. “Just take a couple days, deal with it mentally, and go see him before next class, Rey. I am sure this will get worked out.”

 

“Yeah,” Rey mumbled, taking another drink from her cup. She wished she shared Finn’s optimism.

 

….

 

Ben watched Rey turn and run from the room, tears streaming down her face.

 

Clearly, this hadn’t worked out as he had hoped. He had hoped that Rey would be thrilled at finding him, as thrilled as he was that he had found her. Maybe she had a boyfriend already – the man she was always with and sat next to in class, for instance. She was still young, maybe it was too much for her to handle.

 

What had he done?

 

He needed to talk to Rey – should he reach out to her? He had her cell number, as well as her student email address, but somehow, Ben knew he should give her some time to process the news. He didn’t know her upbringing, or how she dealt with stress or change.

 

He could only hope that she gave him the chance to get to know her. Already, his heart was aching a little, knowing she was so close, yet so far away. Was it supposed to feel like this? Ben sighed, running a hand through his hair as he went back to grading papers, although he found it hard to concentrate.

 

What if she doesn’t want me? What if she only wants to be friends? What if she runs away and I never see her again? I’m such an idiot!!!!

 

Ben’s internal dialogue wouldn’t let him concentrate at all now, and so he stood, deciding that his teacher assistants could handle the two classes he had left for the day.

 

His long strides took him off campus quickly, and as he walked past a small coffee shop, a familiar face caught his attention. Ben stopped, looking in the window and observing Rey and Finn, their free hands grasping the other’s as they shared a private moment. Rey was obviously upset, he could see the distress in her eyes, and the man – Ben remembered his name was Finn Johnson – was obviously comforting her.

 

Finn looked up and saw him, pulling his hand away from Rey’s, and as he motioned to the window of the shop, Rey’s eyes snapped up to meet his through the glass, widening in shock and surprise.

 

Ben turned, continuing his journey down the street, his heart threatening to shatter in his chest at the thought that his soulmate might very well be in love with someone else.

 

….

 

“Um, Rey?” Finn squeezed his best friend’s hand as someone standing at the window had caught his attention. The look of pure agony in Professor Solo’s eyes was enough for Finn to know how he felt about his newly found soulmate.

 

“Yeah?” Rey looked up at Finn, following his gaze to the window. Her eyes widened in shock as she saw Professor Solo standing there, his eyes full of pain as he looked at her and Finn, their hands joined on the tabletop. Rey felt Finn pull his hand away quickly, her breath catching in her throat and tears coming to her eyes for some reason she couldn’t fathom. She felt almost guilty , like she had been caught doing something she shouldn’t.

 

Then Professor Solo was gone, his long strides carrying him down the sidewalk before Rey could even react. When she did react, she ran blindly towards the door, pushing her way out and onto the sidewalk. She could see his towering form continuing to move down the sidewalk towards his next destination, and so she took off sprinting, his name coming from her lips in a shout.

 

“Professor Solo! Wait! Please!” Rey sprinted, and as she watched, he turned, coming to a stop in front of a small delicatessen. Rey was out of breath when she reached him, and he quirked a brow at her as she bent over to try and catch her breath.

 

“Yes, Miss Niima?” He finally asked formally, trying to keep a completely neutral tone to his voice. If she was with Mr. Johnson, and only wanted to have a platonic relationship as soulmates, Ben would have to build a wall to protect his heart.

 

“Professor Solo, I…” Rey stood up finally, looking into the deep chocolate eyes of her soulmate. She saw so many things swimming in their depths – sadness, loneliness, fear and longing all danced together – and Rey longed to soothe all those negative feelings away. “I’m sorry for running earlier. It was just a shock, and… well, I’m sorry.”

 

Ben regarded Rey for a moment, their eyes meeting and holding, her apology sinking into his soul and soothing a little bit of the ache that rested there. He nodded after a long moment. “Ben, by the way. I think given our current situation, we can do away with the formalities. I am sorry if I interrupted your time with Mr. Johnson. I was just passing by and happened to see you in there.”

 

Rey bit her bottom lip nervously, feeling guilty about Pro- Ben! – she reminded herself, seeing her with Finn, even though it had been a completely platonic thing going on. “Finn knows. About us being soulmates. I was upset, so we got some coffee. I… we had decided that I would take a few days to process everything, and then I would come see you before class. That’s my plan. So… see you in a couple days before class?” Rey kept her eyes on his, trying to get a feel for how he was handling this revelation.

 

“Very well. I’ll see you then, Rey. You have my email and cell number on the syllabus if you need anything,” Ben turned to walk away, not wanting her to witness his probable breakdown as he thought about the fact that she had a boyfriend already.

 

She has a boyfriend. My soulmate has a boyfriend. I won’t ask her to give him up, that’s no fair. Platonic relationship, it’ll have to be. Of course – because why do I deserve something good?

 

It was a good thing he was used to the loneliness of being single.

 

….

 

Rey tried to keep her mind off Ben during the next two days, but she found herself thinking about him all the time. She picked up her phone several times, just to call him and apologize again, and she had even composed an eloquently worded email to him – although she couldn’t bring herself to send it. No, this was something they needed to discuss in person. By the time she went to bed the night before she was planning to speak to Ben, Rey was resolved in her decision.

 

She was all in.

 

She was hoping Ben would want a real relationship, but if it was only friends – she would deal with it. As long as he didn’t leave her.

 

She had realized something in her silent ruminations of the last several days: a soulmate was a beautiful thing to have. They were the one person that was always there for you, that would never leave or betray you – simply because they would feel it just as much as you did. Rey was finally getting the one thing she had always wanted, the one thing she had wished for, but never had: stability.

 

….

 

Ben had spent the last two days in silent agony, trying to build a wall around his heart. He tried not to think about Rey, but the snapshot of her holding Finn’s hand in the coffee shop kept popping into his brain at the worst times – in the middle of a lecture on microquasars, in the shower, at the gym, as he sat watching Stargate SG-1 on Hulu for the hundredth time. He wished it could be him holding Rey’s hand and comforting her as she cried. It made him feel even worse knowing he had been the source of those tears.

 

As he went to bed, both dreading and looking forward to seeing her the next morning, Ben was resolved to be whatever kind of soulmate Rey wanted and needed. He just wanted to be in her life.

 

….

 

Rey knocked on the doorframe of Ben’s office the next morning, and when he looked up at her, she wanted to go to him immediately, because his eyes were so sad that she instantly knew he expected the worst from her.

 

My poor, sweet man, Rey thought to herself, waiting for him to gesture her inside before she stepped into his office, closing the door behind her. Sliding into the chair in front of his desk, Rey took a deep breath before speaking, his name hovering in the air between them before dissipating into the silence of the leather bound books and paper that were housed in the room.

 

“Ben,” Rey had said his name to her bathroom mirror so many times over the last couple of days, trying to get a feel for the way it slid off her tongue – and she had found she loved saying his name. “I… I don’t know where to begin. This is all new to me. I’m not used to having… well, anything, really.”

 

Ben nodded, determined to hear her out. Whatever she had to say, he would listen, and after she left, he would have a breakdown. He wouldn’t subject her to the pain of her forthcoming rejection.

 

“First of all, let me sign the transfer slip. I understand why you need to move me to another class. Secondly, we need to discuss this, our expectations from this, because if we don’t want the same things from each other we need to know it now.” Rey looked at Ben, watching as he nodded. His eyes were full of emotion, yet he kept his face a blank slate as he reached into a drawer, withdrawing the paper he had filled out the day he saw her soulmark. He slid the paper across the desk to her, watching as she signed it before sliding it back to him.

 

Ben put the paper to one side, simply watching Rey as she sat before him. Looking into her eyes didn’t assuage any of the anxiety he was feeling inside, although he thought he could bask in that hazel colored warmth for hours.

 

Rey took a deep breath before beginning, “I’m all in, Ben. I’m sorry I ran from you the other day, I truly am. It was just… overwhelming. I needed to process everything. I need to know what you’re thinking, what you want.”

 

You… Just you… Ben thought to himself, his eyes searching hers for any clues about how she might expect him to answer. Ben opened his mouth, closed it and sighed heavily before deciding that bluntness was his best course of action.

 

“What does your boyfriend think about that?” Ben asked, watching her face as her brows furrowed together in confusion.

 

“Boyfriend? I don’t… oh gosh, you thought Finn and I? We were dating?” Rey watched Ben’s face, realizing as his face flushed that he had spent the last few days thinking she was in a relationship. “Oh, Ben,” Rey’s eyes widened as she kept looking at him, “I’m sorry. I should have handled that whole thing differently.”

 

“So, you and Mr. Johnson aren’t dating? Are you dating anyone?” Ben asked softly, wanting to make sure she was completely untethered before he let the wall around his heart waver even a tiny bit.

 

Rey shook her head softly before letting a small smile drift onto her lips. “I am kinda hoping that after today I might be dating someone, but, you know, I need to know if he might be interested in it as well.”

 

It took a second for Ben to react, but he let a tiny smirk ghost onto his face, lifting one side of his lips slightly. “You…” He stopped to clear his throat nervously, “I didn’t want to assume that you were interested in me romantically, despite the soulmarks. You could have been with someone and wanted nothing more than a close friendship. When I saw you and Mr. Johnson holding hands, I assumed he was your boyfriend. What, exactly, is he to you, anyways?” Ben searched her eyes, finding nothing but happiness there.

 

“Finn? He’s my best friend. We went through similar experiences growing up,” Rey explained. Ben was even better looking up close, and she found herself wanting to run a hand through his hair to see if it was as soft as it looked. “You know, I have had a crush on you since the first day of class?” Rey smiled at Ben, watching as the already present blush deepened now.

 

“Y-you did? I… wow. Guess that makes this easier then, huh?” Ben gave her a full smile now, and Rey felt her heart swell with emotion the simple gesture made. This man was her soulmate , and he was amazing.

 

“That depends,” Rey leaned forward, her eyes still on Ben’s as she said, “You still haven’t told me what you want from this. For all I know, you could be married and only want to be my friend.”

 

But please don’t. I want you for myself , Rey thought.

 

“Oh! Um, no. No wife. No girlfriend. I… I was hoping we could, you know, be more than just platonic soulmates, Rey. I want us to be together. I really, really want that. I hope you want that too. Gosh, I sound like I am back in high school.”

 

“I’d like that, Ben. Us being… a couple? I mean, the age difference… I’m only twenty. How old are you?” Rey really didn’t care how old Ben was, but it could matter to him, of course.

 

“Thirty. Does that bother you? I mean, it doesn’t bother me. You seem very goal-oriented, which is a good thing.” Ben shrugged, looking down at his hands. He really didn’t care how old Rey was, as long as she was legal.

 

“No, it doesn’t bother me, Ben. So, um, how do we do this? I mean, I’m really bad at dating, and, people, I guess.” Now it was Rey’s turn to shrug, and she was shocked when Ben let out a laugh.

 

“Yeah, me too. I guess, maybe, we should start by… going on a date? So, Rey, would you like to have dinner tonight with me?” Ben hadn’t smiled as much as he had this morning in a very long time. He found it was soothing to be near her, and simple. He didn’t feel that with anyone else, ever, so he could only surmise it was the fact that she was the perfect match for him – his soulmate.

 

“Yes, Ben. I would love to have dinner with you tonight,” Rey said, the smile on her face so bright it was like his own personal sun. “And I would love to date you as well, be your girlfriend. Like I said, I’m all in.”

 

Ben sighed contentedly, “Me too, Rey. I’m all in too.”

Chapter Text

She was going on a date with Professor Solo. She, Rey Niima, nobody from nowhere, had a soulmate . A soulmate who happened to be a really hot, really smart Professor. She was going on a date with Professor Solo – no! – She was going on a date with Ben. Her soul mate.

 

Rey floated through her classes that morning, and when she met Finn for lunch, he couldn’t help but notice the smile on her face.

 

“I take it that you and Professor Solo came to an understanding? Did you kiss him yet?” Finn teased her, a grin splitting his lips as they stood in line to get their burritos from one of the restaurants in the student union.

 

Rey smacked him lightly on the shoulder as the line inched forward. “No, but we have a date tonight!”

 

“Way to go, Peanut! So, you gonna kiss him tonight?” Finn kept the grin on his face before it faded slightly as he asked, “Do you… I mean, he’s a bit older, isn’t he? Is that weird? What if he thinks it’s weird? I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”

 

Rey smiled at Finn. “We actually talked about that a little this morning. He’s thirty. We’ll work through it.”

 

“Okay, good. Because he’s bigger than I am. I don’t want to have to kick his ass for hurting you or anything.” Rey shook her head at Finn as the line moved forward again. “Although, I may have to protect him from a couple of the girls in class. You should hear the things they were saying about him today,” Finn continued, eyeing Rey sideways.

 

“Oh?” She asked, her eyes narrowing slightly as she tried to fight off the intense feelings of jealousy and possessiveness that were swirling around inside her. Hands off, bitches. That fine specimen of a man belongs to me.

 

Finn snorted at her expression. “Oh, Rey… I’m just teasing, Peanut. Everyone in class is terrified of him. I mean, he’s not mean or anything – just strict. You know how he is.”

 

“Yeah. But hey – I’ll have good help for homework now, right?” Rey grinned as they finally got to the front of the line. As they ordered their lunch, Rey turned her head slightly, watching as Ben walked towards the bookstore with a petite, pretty brunette at his side. She was laughing at something he said, her arm looped through his, and Rey let out a tiny, feral growl at the sight.

 

“Peanut?” Finn asked before he caught sight of what had Rey so upset. “We’ll take that to go,” Finn said to the clerk that had taken their order as he noticed tears pooling in Rey’s eyes. After he collected their bags of food, Finn took Rey’s hand, pulling her along as she stared at the bookstore.

 

“I… Finn…” Rey’s voice was small sounding as they stepped outside, into the quad.

 

“Deep breaths, Peanut. In through the nose, out through the mouth.” Finn guided them to a picnic table, settling Rey down on one side before sliding onto the bench on the opposite side. Reaching out, he grabbed her hand, squeezing it until she looked at him.

 

“I…I’ll be okay, Finn. You just, you know my, my issues… W-what if I’m not enough? What if he decides that we’re just friends? He said he was single… but she had her hand on him. W-what if he changed his mind, and he’s just gonna let me down easy on our date?” Rey’s eyes were wide and panicked, and Finn could tell she was close to an anxiety attack.

 

“No, Peanut. You can’t think like that. He just told you this morning that he was single, and he wanted to date you. He said he was all in, right?” Finn watched Rey take in a few deep gulps of air, finally nodding at her friend.

 

“Y-yes…” Rey said, still fighting back the rising panic inside.

 

“OK, so here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to eat your lunch, and then you’re going to your classes like a normal human, with a normal life and a soulmate. Then you’re going to go home and… do whatever it is you girls do before a date. And then, you’re going to go on said date, with said soul mate, and you’re going to live happily ever after. Got it?” Finn squeezed Rey’s hand and smiled at her, hoping he could bring her back from whatever precipice she was dangerously close to falling over.

 

“G-got it,” Rey said, taking another deep breath. She would act normal, for Finn, even if inside her heart was racing in her chest. Ben wouldn’t lie to her – would he? He wouldn’t have told her he wanted to date her unless he meant it.

 

As Finn took their food out of the bag and slid hers across the table towards her, Rey smiled gratefully at her best friend. “Thanks, Peanut. I… I’m terrified. As much as I know having a soulmate is, pretty much, the best kind of relationship, I just… I’ve had so many people walk away. People who said they would never leave, but then they do. It’s scary. If… if Ben did that to me, I don’t know if I could handle that.”

 

Finn nodded as he started to eat. “I know, Peanut. I know.”

 

….

 

Rey tried to concentrate in her afternoon class, but she found she simply couldn’t. After silently packing her laptop up into her bag, she slid out of the large doors of the lecture hall, making her way across campus to Ben’s office. She knew he didn’t have office hours right now, but she would wait for him. She needed answers, and she hoped he wouldn’t take long to return to his office. Her heart was thrumming in her chest, tears threatened to fall at any moment, and as she paced the hall in front of Ben’s office, she could once again feel the panic rising in her body.

 

I’m not good enough… he’s not going to want me. Why would he want a soulmate like me when that woman with him was so beautiful, and I’m not… I’m too young and he’s going to end up leaving me like everyone else has…

 

It was during one of those internal monologues that Rey felt the air stir behind her, and a large hand grasped her upper arm gently, turning her so that she was looking up into the eyes of Ben, who looked utterly terrified in seeing her in such a state.

 

Without saying a word, he unlocked his office door, pulling her inside before shutting the door behind them and handing Rey some tissues from a box tucked away on his desk.

 

She hadn’t even realized she had been crying, but as she dabbed at her eyes with the tissues, Rey was simply too glad to see Ben to even care that he had caught her in the midst of a full-fledged panic attack.

 

“Rey, what’s wrong? Is… is everything okay?” Ben’s left eye was twitching, and he was working his jaw furiously as his eyes looked her over, like she might be injured or something.

 

Rey drew in a deep breath, her words tumbling over themselves in her haste to speak, “I know I’m young, and I’m not the prettiest woman, and sometimes I tell really stupid jokes, and I know far too many pop culture references. I’m not perfect, I don’t have the perfect body, and I am so very sorry for that, and I… I’ll understand if you only want to be platonic soulmates and not romantic ones… I, just, I don’t know if I can handle you leaving me completely, even though we just found out.”

 

Another sob was wrenched from her throat as she finished speaking, her eyes glossed over with tears and her vision hazy as she saw Ben come around his desk, his arms going around her to pull her into an embrace.

 

“Rey, what… what brought this on? First of all, I said I wanted to date you, didn’t I? Secondly, you’re probably the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on. Third, I can’t wait to hear your jokes, and my pop culture knowledge is definitely on par with yours, I think. I’m not leaving you. I’m not going anywhere.”

 

“I… I saw you earlier. In the union, headed into the bookstore with this really pretty woman, and she had her arm wrapped around yours. I can never compete with that – or at least that’s what my brain told me… and here I am, looking like a complete mess in front of you.” Rey hiccupped softly as she tried to stop her tears, Ben’s words sinking in finally and taking seat in her brain. 

 

“Y-you think I’m beautiful?”

 

“I do,” Ben said, using one long finger to lift her chin, so he could look into her eyes as he pulled away from her slightly. “Rey, that woman you saw me with in the student union?” Ben’s eyes searched hers for a moment, and Rey took a deep breath before she let one word leave her lips, hoping she didn’t sound like a desperate child.

 

“Yes?”

 

Ben cupped her face with both hands, using his thumb to trace the path of her tears down her cheeks before answering her softly. “That was my sister, Jaina Solo-Fel. She’s a professor here as well, in the engineering department. We met up for lunch, then we had to go to the bookstore to check on some orders we placed for our respective classes.”

 

“Oh,” Rey said, practically breathless with the feel of his hands on her face. “D-does she know about us? About me?” Her eyes stayed locked with his, the honeyed bourbon of his eyes drawing her in completely.

 

“Yes. She is the only person I have told so far, besides those I needed to inform in the Dean’s office. She’s thrilled for us, and she can’t wait to meet you.” Ben smiled at her before remarking, “You stopped trembling, are you feeling better now?”

 

“I think so. I… I’m sorry, Ben. I… I’ll have to explain more to you about why I reacted like that.” Rey chewed on her bottom lip nervously. “Maybe at dinner tonight?”

 

Ben’s thumb skimmed over her bottom lip, and he looked back into her eyes finally, after a few long moments of staring at her lips. Rey’s heart was thrumming in her chest, like a hummingbird flitting from feeder to feeder. “I’d like that, Rey. I’d like to know everything about you. We’ve got time, though.”

 

He wants to be with me. He’s not leaving! I finally have a home, have someone to call my own.

 

Rey smiled at Ben. “Yeah, I guess we do.”

 

….

 

Ben had agreed to pick her up at her apartment for their date. She rented a tiny studio apartment above a funeral home, of all places, but it was cheap – and people left her alone. Rey had grown so used to being alone that she enjoyed the solitude of her own space. She worked hard to have a place of her own and a small car to get her around – a job at a local diner and a job with the tutoring center on campus allowed her to scrape by every month.

 

A knock sounded on her door, and Rey gave herself one last once over in the full length mirror hanging on her closet door before making her way to the door and opening it to reveal her soulmate standing just outside, a tiny smirk of amusement on his face.

 

“I bet you don’t get many visitors,” Ben said gently, taking a moment to look at Rey. “You look stunning,” he said softly. His eyes told her everything she needed to know about her appearance. Rey thought his eyes could tell her anything she wanted to know about him, they were so expressive.

 

“Thanks. You look amazing as well, Ben,” Rey said shyly, stepping outside her door and turning to lock it. Turning back around, Ben reached out and grabbed her hand, his large fingers wrapping around hers as he guided her down the flight of stairs to his car, where he opened the door for her, waiting until she was safely in all the way before closing it and trotting around the car to slide into the driver’s seat.

 

The low tones of Alanis Morrisette filled the car, and Rey quirked a brow at Ben, a smile coming to her lips. “I guess I never would have pegged you for liking nineties alternative, but okay…”

 

Ben shrugged, an easy smile coming to his lips. “I bet I’ll surprise you a lot. I like a lot of different music, from classical to heavy metal. It just depends on if it catches my attention or not. Let me guess, you pegged me for the classical type?”

 

“Yeah, pretty much. I mean, you’re a Professor, right? So, Debussey and Beethoven must be your go-to music.” The smile stayed on her face as she looked over at Ben.

 

“Well, this Professor also likes Alanis Morrisette, Green Day and Metallica. Is this a deal breaker? Should I get used to the fact that we can only be friends now?” Ben let a smirk drift onto his lips, and Rey found that it was the most delicious, adorable thing she had ever seen.

 

“Oh, I think we can work with that,” Rey remarked.

 

The restaurant Ben had chosen was out of the way and cozy, offering candlelight and a variety of menu items that had Rey actually indecisive about what to order. Ben simply watched her over the flicker of the candlelight, a tiny smile on his face and his eyes dancing with happiness.

 

She was beautiful, and he was still in a state of disbelief that she was his soulmate.

 

Rey’s eyes met his, and she flushed, biting her bottom lip before asking, “What? Am I doing something wrong?”

 

Ben shook his head, the smile staying on his face. “No, it’s just… you’re beautiful, and I’m still realizing that you’re my soulmate. It’s incredible.”

 

“I… wow. Ben, that’s probably the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.” Rey stared into his eyes softly as Ben reached across the table to tangle his fingers in hers. “I…” Rey licked her lips nervously before starting to speak again, “I was a foster kid. Shuffled from house to house, never good enough to be adopted. Never had anyone I could call my own – until I got placed with Maz. She had two of us – me and Finn. She was the only one who ever cared about us, who ever fed me and made sure I had whatever I needed. She treated Finn and I like we belonged with her. We were both fifteen, and those were the happiest three years of my life.”

 

Rey stopped briefly as the waitress approached to take their orders. She loved how Ben ordered for them both, and the rich timbre of his voice calmed her like nothing ever had before. After she had their orders and moved on, Rey continued, Ben’s eyes never leaving hers as she spoke.

 

“I never had a family, really, or anyone to call my own, or a home… you get the picture,” Rey said, and she felt Ben squeeze her hand gently as he nodded, his eyes filled with sadness for her. “Everyone left me, and no one ever wanted me. I mean – my parents left me in a box at the doors of a police station as a baby – you can’t get more unwanted than that!” Rey let out a sigh, trying to ignore the prick of tears behind her eyelids as she continued. Ben had to know why she reacted so badly earlier.

 

“So, when I saw you earlier with your sister, I… well, I assumed it was just another case of being abandoned. I’m sorry, Ben. I’ve tried to deal with it with therapy, but it’s so ingrained in my head, you know? It’s hard not to just jump to it automatically. It’s like a reflex.” Rey gave Ben a tight smile, hoping he understood.

 

“That had to have been terrible for you, Rey. You seem so strong, though, so very determined to get what you want from life. I admire that in you. You’re a fighter. I understand why you felt that way earlier.” Ben squeezed her hand again, giving her the privilege of seeing a true smile come to his face. “Thank you for telling me. I need to understand these things, because I need to take care of you if I can.”

 

Now the tears that had been threatening came, and Rey did her best to swipe them away before they ruined her makeup. “You… you want to take care of me? I mean… we just… you know. Found each other.”

 

He wanted to take care of her. Isn’t that what she had always longed for? Someone to take care of her, to love her and cherish her? A place and a person to call hers?

 

Now she had that, and it was overwhelming.

 

“Rey, I have wanted that since I first noticed the mark on my neck when I was ten. I knew you were out there somewhere. I vowed then – even as a young boy – that when I found my soulmate, I would always take care of them and protect them no matter what. I think that’s why my love life failed every single time – because they weren’t you.” Ben kept the smile on his face, his eyes sparkling with what Rey could only describe as adoration.

 

The waitress arrived with their food, and Rey felt a certain sadness when Ben withdrew his hand from hers to eat. She enjoyed the warmth of his hand against hers. It just felt right to her, which she supposed was because they were meant for each other.

 

As they ate, they talked, asking each other questions – simple things like favorite colors, music and foods – and Rey found that Ben was quite simple in his tastes. She was as well – growing up in the situation that she had, she had learned not to expect more than the basics.

 

It seemed like they were looking into each other’s eyes the whole time, which neither Rey nor Ben found unpleasant. Indeed, Rey thought she could look into those gorgeous eyes of his forever, and it still wouldn’t be long enough.

 

When the meal was eaten and the bill paid, they stood outside the restaurant, one of Rey’s hands in Ben's, their fingers twined through the others. “Do you want to take a walk beside the lake?” Ben asked her softly, and Rey nodded in answer. Large bodies of water had always been calming to her, much like the man standing beside her seemed to be.

 

Is that what it would be like for them from now on? Contentment and domestic bliss?

 

The lakefront was within walking distance, and as they walked, they continued the easy conversation they had started over dinner. Rey found that Ben was kind, sweet, and by far the most intelligent person she had ever met. He was, of course, easy on the eyes, as well.

 

Finally, they reached the start of the beach, and Ben turned his eyes towards the sky, pointing out constellations and heavenly bodies to her. At some point, Rey turned to face him, her arms going around his waist as she snuggled close to him in the slightly chilly night air. Her eyes were turned skyward as well, the low rumble of Ben’s voice vibrating against her cheek.

 

“That,” Ben pointed to a star above them, “is Polaris. You know what that is, right?”

 

Rey nodded against his chest, her eyes remaining on the tiny pinpoint of light above. “The North Star.”

 

“Yes,” Ben said softly. “After I found my soul mark, I used to look up at it every night to wish my soulmate good night. I would always imagine them looking at the same star and saying the same thing. Now I’ve found you, and I can say good night to you in person instead.” Ben looked down at her briefly and smiled before looking back up at the sky, one large finger pointing at a constellation, dim in the ambient lights from the city.

 

“And that, of course, is Lyra. Our constellation. Still my favorite, even if my soulmate hates the story behind it.” Ben looked down at Rey again, grinning at her. “May I kiss you, Rey?” His voice was low, like the opening strains of a grand concerto, building until the grand finale.

 

Rey licked her lips before nodding. “I...I’d like that. Yes.”

 

Ben’s lips against hers were the most glorious thing Rey had ever felt, and he was gentle with his ministrations. His arms around her were strong, and Rey knew they would always be her home, her safe place in the world. She felt his tongue gently skim across her bottom lip, asking permission for entrance, and Rey obliged him by opening up her mouth slightly, their tongues gliding over the other’s in some intricate dance that couldn’t be explained in words.

 

It was the perfect kiss, in the perfect place, with the perfect man.

 

It was everything she’d ever imagined, but never expected she would have.

 

Finally, Ben pulled his lips from hers, both of them panting a bit, and he leaned his forehead against hers, looking into her eyes.

 

“You’re beautiful, and I am so glad you’re mine. I don’t mean that to sound possessive, either, please don’t think that. I’m just… my heart is happy. It seems like the world is right now, because we found each other.”

 

“Oh, Ben… that is the most romantic, perfect thing anyone has ever said to me. I feel the same, I really do. Everything just feels different now.” Tears pooled in Rey’s eyes, threatening to spill over onto her cheeks.

 

“Hey… it’s okay, Rey. We’ve got each other now.” Ben cradled her face in his hands, using his thumbs to wipe away her tears. 

 

Rey smiled at him through the tears and nodded. “I know. Happy tears. You’re pretty much everything I hoped for – but with my life, I just figured I’d never find you. I’m so glad I did.” Rey kissed him again softly, and when he pulled away this time, she let out a small sigh.

 

Ben grabbed her hand, twining his fingers into hers as he remarked, “I should get you home. I’ve got an early class, and I am sure you have homework still.”

 

Rey nodded, and as they walked back to where his car was parked outside the restaurant, she asked him softly, “So… how does this all work? I mean… how do we make this work?”

 

Ben shrugged. “I suppose we just do what normal couples do. We go out on dates, call and text each other, spend time together… build something strong between us for the future. That’s what I see, anyways. I mean, yes, we have a soul bond, but we still have to take care of the basics, right?”

 

“Yeah,” Rey replied, “We do.”

 

As they drove back to her apartment, Ben’s hand stayed in hers the entire time, and as he walked with her up the stairs to her apartment door, Rey could have sworn the world was humming happily in the undertones of the noise created by humans.

 

She turned towards Ben before she unlocked her door, her arms going around his waist as she molded her body to his. “Thank you, Ben, for everything.”

 

He chuckled, a low rumble in his chest caressing her cheek. “I could say the same to you, my Rey.”

 

She looked up and their eyes locked, their lips meeting in a slow, loving kiss before Ben pulled away. “I’ll see you tomorrow, sweetheart.”

 

Rey watched him walk to his car with a smile on her lips, waving to him as he pulled out of the parking lot, and once she was inside, she let out a giddy little shriek.

 

She had a soulmate. A soulmate who wanted her and who looked at her like she was the sun, and he was a planet orbiting around her.

 

As she lay in bed later that night, she heard her phone chime with a text message.

 

<Ben> I have been trying to sleep, but all I can think about is you, and how much you already mean to me, Rey.

 

<Rey> How much is that, Ben?

 

<Ben> Eisai o ilios kai ta asteria mou. Eisai o galaxias mou. Translate that, and you’ll know.  

Sleep well, sweetheart.

 

Rey quickly found a translator on her phone. Tears came to her eyes as she read the words Ben had asked her to transcribe. As she fell asleep, she knew she had finally found her true north – her one constant in the world.

 

You are my sun and stars. You are my galaxy.

Chapter Text

Days and weeks flew by like dandelion fluff on a spring breeze, and Rey was blissfully happy. Her life was full of work, classes, and stolen kisses in Ben’s office. That was also paired with longing glances across the quad between classes and quick brushes of skin against skin as they passed each other in corridors.

 

Sometimes, when they both had days off, they would spend them together at Ben’s house, which was perched on the shore of the lake almost directly across from the spot on the beach where they had shared their first kiss. Rey would work on homework, trying not to distract Ben as he graded papers and prepared lectures for his classes. He was also responsible for writing grants as the head of the department, which he did on his own time. They would share meals together before settling onto the couch to watch a movie. Most of the time the movie was forgotten as they got lost in kissing the other, their hands making slow explorations of each other’s bodies.

 

While being able to kiss and touch her soulmate was complete and utter heaven to her - Rey craved for more, and in the back of her head, she wondered just what was keeping Ben from taking the next step with her.

 

She was studying for a final, her headphones on, as she sat on Ben’s couch one night, oblivious to anything but the music and her notes when she felt a gentle kiss on the top of her head. She looked up to find Ben smiling at her, a take-out bag from her favorite burger joint dangling from one hand. His eyes shone with love every time he looked at her - and Rey wondered how she had ever gotten through life before him.

 

“Brain food. Not that you need it…” Ben remarked before going to the kitchen to retrieve a plate to put the burger and fries on. Coming back to stand before Rey now with a plate full of food, his heart stuttered in his chest when she smiled up at him.

 

He never thought he could ever love someone as much as her. She was his universe, and Ben wanted to give her the world on a platter. He knew about her upbringing, knew how much she had worked and fought to get the scholarship for college. He knew she didn’t like being handed anything, but Ben couldn’t help himself sometimes. She deserved to be spoiled - and he was the man to do it.

 

Even it was just a burger and fries from her favorite greasy spoon diner while she was studying for finals.

 

Ben watched her eating, smiling as he sat beside her with his own food. When she was finished, he cleaned their dishes off before loading the dishwasher, and a smile drifted onto his face when he saw her focused back onto her notes.

 

She was a dedicated student, and Ben already knew she had the makings of a good Astronomer. She was observant and detail oriented, and Ben couldn’t wait to see her become the scientist he knew she could be. He retreated into his office to grade papers, keeping the door open knowing that all he had to do was look up to see her on the couch. Three hours later, he looked up to see her standing in the doorway, smiling as she watched him work.

 

“Hey,” Rey said softly, moving across the room to him and perching herself on his lap, her arms circling his neck. “I love watching you work…” she murmured softly as she leaned in to kiss him gently.

 

“Yeah?” His voice was a low rumble, and his arms circled her back, pulling her closer to him as he nuzzled her neck. “How long have you been standing there?”

 

“A few minutes. I was starting to see double, so I decided to stop for the night. You were so engrossed in what you were doing I didn’t want to interrupt you.” Rey smiled at him, and Ben’s heart stopped beating for just a moment.

 

Her smile was pure sunshine to him. He never wanted to go a day without it.

 

“Grant writing is so… well, it’s the bane of my existence, honestly. A necessary evil for the department.” Ben smiled back at her and Rey giggled, leaving him to wonder just what he had been doing to get that reaction from her.

 

“Is that why you made that face?” 

 

“What face? I do not make faces!” Ben said as he reached up to tuck some hair behind her ear with a long-fingered hand. “Do I?”

 

Rey bit her bottom lip to try to keep her giggle inside, but failed as she saw the horror dawn in his eyes. “Yeah, you make this adorable face when you’re deep in thought.” She let herself giggle again before explaining more: “Your forehead kinda scrunches up and you pinch the bridge of your nose a lot. It’s so damn cute.”

 

“You’re too damn cute,” Ben murmured, before leaning in and kissing her again. “It’s getting late. Are you ready to go home?”

 

Rey’s face fell, and her eyes lost some of their light as she let out an inaudible sigh before looking up at him, her teeth worrying her bottom lip. “W-why do you always want me to go home, Ben? Why can’t I stay? Is… is there something stopping you from wanting me here with you?”

 

Ben felt his heart stutter at her obvious distress, and he immediately shook his head at his soulmate. “No, sweetheart, it’s nothing like that. I… I’m just… nervous. You’re my soulmate. I want this to be absolutely perfect in every way our first time together. Which brings me to something I was going to ask you, anyways. I have a reservation at a secluded little inn on the ocean for next weekend - after finals. Would you go away with me for three days? We can stay in, order in, whatever you want. I just want to spend time with you. ”

 

Then Rey was launching herself towards him, her lips slanting against his over and over. Finally, she pulled away, breathing hard as she looked into his eyes. “I… I thought there was something wrong with me. That you didn’t want me or something. I… I want to spend time with you, too, Ben. I want to be with you in every way.  I’d love to go away with you.”

 

Ben was relieved, and he swept forward to kiss her again, standing and pulling her into his arms. Looking down at her, he whispered, "Galaxies strovilizoun sta vathi ton mation sou, pio lamperoi ki apo ton ilio pou diaschizoi ta mesourania."

 

Rey smiled at him, letting her fingers go to his hair, where she carded through his silky locks before replying, “What does that mean? I love hearing you speak Greek.”

 

Ben just smiled down at her, adjusting her in his arms so that he could place a soft kiss to the pulse point on her neck. His voice was a whisper as he translated for her. “There are galaxies spinning in the depths of your eyes, brighter than the sun crossing the middle of the sky.”

 

Rey’s arms tightened around his neck, her eyes dreamy and soft as she looked into his. “I love you so much, Ben,” Rey whispered.

 

“I love you, too, asteri mou. My star.”

 

….

 

Finals week was always the worst - for both students and faculty. For Rey, it was made worse because Ben and her were both so busy they were only able to manage a short phone call before falling asleep each night. Rey felt the need to ace all of her finals, especially Astronomy.

 

Snoke was not making it easy on her - in fact, he was harder on her than anyone else in her class. The man would sneer at her every time he looked at her, leaving scathing remarks on her homework assignments and papers. His tests were already horrifically difficult, and she would forever be scarred by the memory of him calling her to the front of the lecture hall after her first class with him.

 

“Just because you are bound to Professor Solo, Miss Niima, does not mean you get a free pass in my class. In fact, I will do all I can to find fault with your work. I am positive that Solo will help you with your work, and I find that reprehensible. Do you understand?”

 

Rey had simply nodded her head, resolving herself to study even harder for this class. She wanted Ben to be proud of her, especially in a class in his field of study.

 

Somehow, she was managing to get an ‘A’, even with Snoke’s harsh grading. Rey knew she should be talking to the Dean about Snoke’s treatment of her, or she could tell Ben - but she was stubborn, and she wanted to prove to herself that she could handle things on her own. Ben had enough to worry about with running the department, he didn’t need to worry about a professor being harsh on her.

 

It wasn’t the first time she had dealt with people like Professor Snoke, and it wouldn’t be the last. She had learned to be tough and to stand up for herself at an early age. By now it was so ingrained in her psyche she knew no other way to act.

 

She missed Ben, though, and every time she let her mind wander, it went to him. She would find herself wondering about how his day was going, or if he missed her as much as she missed him. Rey had never fathomed having a soul mate would be quite like this. Every time she thought of Ben, there was a warmth that spread through her, and her heart would start to beat faster. She couldn’t imagine a future without him.

 

She looked forward to their brief conversations every night.

 

The week flew by much faster than either of them thought it would, and on Friday afternoon, Rey found herself nestled in Ben’s arms on his couch. They would leave the next morning for their getaway, and Rey couldn’t wait to have Ben to herself for three days. She nuzzled his neck, placing a soft kiss there before smiling up at him. He was reading a book, and was more relaxed than she had seen him since meeting him at the beginning of the semester. 

 

Setting the book aside, Ben ran his long fingers through her hair, his voice breaking through the relative quiet of his home as he asked, “What’s on your mind, my star?”

 

“Will we be like this in five years, Ben? Spending quiet nights in, with you reading and me watching shows on television that I know drive you insane?” Rey grinned up at him while Ben twirled a lock of her hair around his finger.

 

“I think so. We might buy a house by then, in case we decide to start a family. I don’t see it being any other way.” Ben shrugged before tucking her hair back behind her ear. 

 

“Y-you want to start a family? With me?” Rey’s voice sounded small and unsure, even to her, as she looked up at her soul mate. No one had ever wanted to keep her - her entire life had been spent being shuffled from one home to another, never being able to call anything her own. She was still grappling with the fact that she had a soul mate, and that her soul mate wanted her in return.

 

She wasn’t even sure what kind of mother she would be - she had nothing to model that on. But Rey was certain of something - Ben would be a wonderful father.

 

“Yes, I do, Rey. Why wouldn’t I? You’re hardworking, intelligent, loyal and dedicated. You’ll be an incredible mother. I know you worry, and I know sometimes you think you don’t deserve happiness - but you do, asteri mou. You do, and I will keep doing my best to show you that every day.” Ben leaned down, his lips meeting her forehead gently.

 

“Thank you,” Rey whispered, her eyes searching his for a moment. “Thank you for being mine.”

 

….

 

Rey stood on the balcony of their room the next afternoon, gazing out over the horizon as the sound of the waves crashing on the shore lulled her into a relaxed frame of mind. She had spent the night before sleeping in Ben’s guest bedroom - and it took everything in her not to go to his bed. She had wanted to be with him for a long time, and waiting and respecting Ben’s wishes had been hard to do.

 

But here they were. Together for three days with only the ocean breezes and salty air to keep them company. Growing up in the desert - for the most part - meant that Rey had a deep fascination with large bodies of water, and as she stared out at the shimmering waves, she smiled when Ben’s arms circled around her from behind, and she melted back into his body as his nose nuzzled the top of her head.

 

“Like the view?” Rey smiled as his voice rumbled through her chest, and she turned, looking him up and down with a smirk.

 

“Tall, dark and handsome? Yeah, I guess you can say I like this view a lot.”

 

Ben’s face flushed with her admiration, and Rey reached up to touch his cheek softly. “You’re  the best thing in my life, you know. I feel like the luckiest woman in the world every time you look at me. Finn just laughs whenever he sees us together. He thinks it’s hilarious how different you are in the classroom than when you are with me.”

 

“Well, perhaps if he put in a little more effort in my class along with the other students, I would be a bit more jocular with them.” Ben leaned in to kiss her lovingly, letting his long fingers ghost over her cheek as he did so. “Let’s not talk about that, though. Let’s not talk, in fact. I believe I promised you ordering in and staying in bed all weekend with the windows open?”

 

“I believe you did, Professor Solo… so, how do we go about starting this?” Rey smiled at Ben, her heart thrumming in her chest as he smiled back at her.

 

“Well…” Ben stopped, pursing his lips and bringing one long finger up to tap on his lips. “First, I believe we have to kiss… and then take it from there.”

 

“Kiss… yes, seems like a good place to start.” Rey smiled again, moving forward until her lips were pressed to his. The kiss started out almost chaste, but then Ben was pulling her closer, and Rey let her body mold to his as their hands started a slow exploration of each other’s bodies. They had heavy petting sessions before this, of course - but now there was a delicate tension in the air.

 

This time - Ben wasn’t going to hold back. He wasn’t going to pull away to take her home for the night before things went too far. No, this was the night they were finally going to be together completely. Their kisses deepened, one flowing into the next, and before Rey knew it, Ben had picked her up and carried her to the bed, her slight frame covered by his much larger one. His lips were on her neck, planting soft kisses there as his hands roamed over her body until he reached down, his long fingers curling around the hem of her shirt and lifting upwards. The fabric lifted easily off her body, and Ben tossed it off the side of the bed. 

 

He let his heated gaze travel over her bare skin, his eyes finally coming back to hers as he murmured, “You are stunning. I am so lucky, Rey.” His mouth came back to hers, their tongues tangling as his hands ghosted over her bare skin.

 

Rey could feel the goosebumps breaking out on her skin as Ben’s hand touched her. He cupped her breast as his kisses moved down her neck, and Rey let out a small, needy moan as he pinched her already taut nipples gently between his thumb and finger as his lips moved lower on her skin. His hand moved to her other nipple as his lips claimed the first, his tongue flicking against the skin there, and with great effort, Rey said his name, pulling his attention away from his ministrations.

 

Ben’s eyes were lidded with passion, and the flames she saw burning in their chocolate depths was almost enough to make her come right then and there. “I want to undress you,” Rey said huskily, her tongue coming out to lick her bottom lip anxiously. Ben let out a low groan as Rey’s hands crept under his shirt as she explored all the planes of his wide chest. Their lips met again, and Rey did her best to unbutton his shirt as their tongues danced together. Finally, the last button opened, and she shoved the material off his shoulders, pulling away to stare at his naked torso hungrily.

 

“I need you, Ben,” she whispered as she reached out, letting her fingers travel over his skin once more. 

 

“You’re incredible,” Ben whispered back before kissing her again. This time, one kiss melded into the next, and somewhere in the process they both shed the rest of their clothes, leaving them bare skinned and gasping for breath as their hands explored the other’s skin with wild abandon.

 

As she felt Ben slide down her body and nudging her legs apart so he could slide his shoulders between them, Rey surely thought she might be in heaven. His lips left soft, wet kisses on her thighs before he licked a stripe between her swollen lips, and Rey left out a low moan, shivering at the feelings he was invoking deep within her. His mouth felt divine against her swollen and dripping core, and as he was licking slow circles around her, he eased a finger inside, causing her hips to buck upwards. A sound she had never made before left her lips, and Rey reached down to curl her fingers in Ben’s silky hair.

 

He continued his ministrations, and Rey was dissolved into a limp, moaning mess, her hips bucking against Ben’s lips and tongue. After a few minutes, Ben added a second finger inside her, and Rey keened out loud, gasping for air as her head spun from the sensation. She could only imagine what it would feel like when Ben was sheathed completely within her, and that thought alone brought her over the precipice she had been on the edge of, hurtling her into exhilarating nothingness until she came crashing down, Ben’s tongue still working her insistently through it all.

 

When the waves of pleasure ceded, Ben’s warm body covered hers once more, his thick cock heavy and ready against her thigh as he kissed her deeply. She loved the musky taste of herself on his lips, and the way his eyes burned for her as they met hers.

 

He leaned his forehead against hers, stroking soft patterns on her upper arm as he asked softly, “I assume you made it to the student health center the day after we talked about it?”

 

Rey nodded. “I’m all set. I got an IUD.” Rey ran her hands through Ben’s hair, giving a small chuckle. “I think I’m as anxious to feel you inside me as you are.”

 

“You have no idea, Rey,” Ben let out a low groan as Rey’s hand left his hair to travel between them, gripping his length and stroking it slowly. “You do that much longer, I won’t last long.”

 

“Guess you better get started, then,” Rey teased, and Ben surged forward, their lips meeting again in a scorching kiss as Rey positioned his cock at her sopping entrance. Ben pushed in slowly, giving her body a moment to adjust as their lips stayed locked, their tongues dancing sensually.

 

Rey gave a slight twist of her hips, letting him know he could proceed, and still Ben took it slow, sliding inch by glorious inch until he was seated fully within her, the delicious feel of her walls pulling and tugging at his sensitive skin making him delirious with need for more.

 

He let his hands skim over her flawless skin as he kissed her deeply again. Reaching down to grab her hips, Ben pulled out slightly so that he could plunge back inside her a moment later. He set a slow, steady pace, their hips meeting in the middle as they moved as one being, both feeling something settle over them that they’d never felt before. Perhaps it was their souls twining closer together as they made love for the first time - the cosmic forces of the universe singing happily at their union.

 

Ben knew that he had been made for Rey, and she for him, because nothing felt as good or as right as right now, being sheathed inside her as they moved together. Ben knew he was close, so he grabbed her legs, positioning them around him more so he had a deeper angle. A moment later he was cresting a wave of passion so intense it left him gasping and shuddering as he rode it as long as he could before crashing back to earth. Rey was with him the whole time, her nails digging into the skin of his back as she cried his name over and over.

 

Ben swept her into his arms, rolling so that Rey was tucked into his side, and she hummed happily as she burrowed as close to him as she could. Neither spoke for a long time until Ben placed a kiss to the top of her head. “I love you, star,” he said gently, one long finger twirling a piece of her hair around it.

 

Rey let out a happy, contented sigh before turning so she was facing Ben. “I love you,” she murmured, looking at him and smiling.

 

“I love you, too. Rey… that was… incredible. Better than anything I have ever experienced before with anyone. I felt so connected to you, on some cosmic level. Yes, I am fully aware that I sound like some new age weirdo here - but it’s true. I just can’t wait to see what the future holds for us, sweetheart.” Ben planted a soft kiss to her lips, and when he pulled away he pulled her closer, letting her settle her head against his chest.

 

“I still think I am living in an alternate universe sometimes,” Rey blurted out suddenly, her fingers tracing soft patterns on Ben’s chest. “I’ve fought so hard in my life, you know, and here I am, handed something so perfect and beautiful. My soul mate. I’m just scared it is a different reality, and that I am going to wake up one day and be all alone again.”

 

“I can promise you, my star, I am very real, and I will do whatever it takes to make you happy. You’re the other half to my soul - why would I ever want to make you sad?”

 

“Even if we’re in a heated discussion about orbital dynamics and thrust-to-weight ratios?” Rey smirked at him, giving a tiny squeak as Ben pulled her on top of him suddenly, his thickness against her telling her that he was very, very interested in her thoughts on those topics.

 

“You make that sound so fucking sexy, Rey. Talk geek to me some more.” Ben kissed her hard, and Rey smirked as she pulled away to look down at him.

 

“How about we don’t talk, but give each other very thorough and rigorous demonstrations?”

 

Ben didn’t answer, choosing to kiss her once more.

 

….

 

The three days passed quicker than either of them wanted, and as they packed their bags to head home, Ben’s cellphone rang. It had been quiet all weekend, so he eyed with surprise as he swiped to answer it.

 

“Professor Solo,” he said, in what Rey liked to call his ‘asshole Professor tone.’ She stopped packing to watch as Ben sank down on the bed, one hand running through his hair as a smile came to his face. “You’re kidding me? They approved it? That’s fantastic news! Yes, yes, of course I will! I’ll be in touch tomorrow, thanks.”

 

Ben ended the call, a grin on his face as he looked up at Rey.

 

“What’s going on?” she asked, coming to stand in front of him. His excitement was palpable, his legs were bouncing, and he was practically vibrating with joy.

 

“I just got the funds to go to ALMA for a year to do research in the observatory there. I’ll be taking shifts watching the data with other scientists, and in my free time I can conduct my own research. I applied for this three years ago, Rey. This is amazing, I can’t believe I finally got approval.”

 

“That’s great, Ben! I’m so proud of you! ALMA… that’s the observatory in Chile, right?” Rey wrapped her arms around Ben, giving him a celebratory kiss.

 

“Yes, I’ll be monitoring during my shifts, and then doing research when I am off. They are getting some incredible data back…” Ben let his voice trail off as he looked at Rey, who had tears brimming in her eyes.

 

Of course… of course this would be hard on her. We’ve just found each other, and now I am going to be gone for a year. It probably feels like I am abandoning her…

 

Before he could say anything, Rey turned away, going back to packing as she said gently, “We need to check out soon, Ben.”

 

….

 

As they drove back towards Ben’s apartment, Rey couldn’t help feeling that her worst fear had come true - this was an alternate universe, and Ben would be leaving her soon. As she watched the passing scenery, she couldn’t help but let a few tears slip down her cheeks at the thought of him leaving her like everyone else in her life had.