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Coagulopathies

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Kylo brings me to a diner after the clinic visit. Neither of us says anything on the drive over, opting instead to ignore the elephant in the room like we usually do. Easier that way.

We’re seated in a red booth near the back next to a window and quietly browse our menus. Plates and cutlery clink, appliances beep, but I’m too tuned into Kylo’s breathing and movements to really notice. What’s he thinking? Is he as terrified as I am?

I set my menu down and pull the container of sugar packets over to sort it. I’ll just have pancakes. I’m in a pancake for lunch type of mood.

Kylo doesn’t give much away while he reads his menu. Our waiter stops by to take our orders and I glance at Kylo after, hoping he’ll say something first. He’s hard to read. Sometimes. Depends on the variety of scowl he has.

He rubs his mouth, heaving a sigh through his fingers. He avoids my eyes.

 “Well.” He slides his hand down to his jaw. “I suppose you’re pretty angry with me, Rey.”

 “…Aren’t you angry with me?”

 “Why would I be angry with you?”

 “Uh…” I laugh uncomfortably. “I’ve been snapping at you a lot lately and we might have to make this thing permanent? I mean—we don’t have it if you don’t want to. We can do whatever.”

Kylo raises his eyebrows. Our waiter stops by with our coffees and I’m surprised when Kylo dumps an absurd amount of creamer and sugar in his. I put a packet of sugar in mine and take a sip.

 “You know I want this to be permanent,” he says tersely. He peels open his third packet of sugar. “And I don’t mind your mood swings.”

 “Why?”

 “Because I love you.”

Oh Jesus—the goops are back. I try not to look shocked and excited but I stutter like an idiot anyway, because it’s crazy, because it’s too soon and neither of us should feel that way. I do too. He’s still such a mystery to me but I don’t think anyone else understands me the way he does.

Kylo rolls his empty sugar packets into tight cylinders and packs them into his empty creamer cups. I cling to my boiling hot cup of coffee and blush and feel like an asshole for not saying it back fast enough. It’s so weird to declare in a diner.

 “Same,” I say.

 “Oh, the passion is palpable.”

He laughs when I stutter more, so I huff and scowl and glare down at my coffee. Fine. He’s going to kill me with all this weird emotional stuff.

Our waiter brings us toast, thank god. Kylo folds his napkin in his lap so I follow suit, still fluttery from the confession; still nervous. This is so weird. I hated him a couple months ago. I’m not really a person worth expending energy on. Doesn’t make sense.

I’m barely done chewing when I open my mouth.

 “I don’t get it,” I blurt. I’m waving my hands a little. “I’m not smart like you—I’m impatient and rude and selfish. I don’t get it. This being permanent would be a big inconvenience for you.”

 “Loving you isn’t an inconvenience.” Kylo sips his coffee. “Usually.”

 “I don’t want you to feel like you have to settle.”

 “Loving you isn’t settling.”

My face burns. Jeez. Well—

He studies me while he sips and breaks into one of his slim smiles. Kylo sets his coffee down and watches it for a minute, rubbing his thumb on the handle. I’m so nervous. I don’t want to push him away but I also don’t want him to feel obligated to stay with me. I think he’s been through enough in life.

His tongue pushes inside his cheek.

 “It’s… it’s, uh…” He swallows, still staring at his mug. “It’s a true pleasure being able to be myself with you. I’ve spent most of my life suppressing my emotions and avoiding—” He gestures vaguely and rubs his mouth. “These things. But you accept me despite our differences—and despite our similarities.”

I squirm, smiling faintly, trying to lighten the intense mood. “And your rude emails.”

Kylo rolls his eyes, still smiling even though they’re watery. I move to his side of the table and snake my arms around his middle, burying my face in his chest as he turns to return my embrace. He squeezes hard, nuzzling my hair. It’s intimate for a restaurant but I don’t give a shit.

He exhales shakily. His hands rub up and down my back and he hugs me tighter.

 “I wasn’t rude,” he mutters.

 “You were so rude. All the time.”

 “That doesn’t sound like me.”

I pull away, incredulous, and he just laughs. I roll my eyes and turn just in time to see our food coming to the table. Yum.

We stay on the same side while we eat, feeding each other every couple bites like we’re in some weird romcom movie. People look every so often and I stare back aggressively until they turn around, which Kylo notices on my third venomous stare. He kisses my temple and wraps his arm around my waist.

 “I wasn’t planning anything nefarious with the Supralpha,” he says. He shrugs after a pause, spearing some egg. “I wasn’t sure how else to keep you around, but I didn’t intend on harming you.”

 “I know.” I narrow my eyes at a blonde lady and she frowns, so I curl my lip. She turns away. “You’re not a criminal mastermind, you’re just rude and awkward.”

 “…Thanks, Rey.”

 “Anytime.”

I look up at him, smirking, and he shakes his head and laughs. I’m done eating but I have a weird urge to watch the restaurant—can’t really relax—so after he kisses me I resume my guard. I hate when people stare. Get a life.

 “We could do this over winter break, Rey. If you wanted to.”

I nod, trying to play it cool while I scowl at people innocently eating lunch.

 “Sure,” I say.

 “The bond is unbreakable and you’re very young, so I think you should think about it for a few weeks.”

 “Okay. Makes sense.”

Think about it; what’s there to think about? It’s not like I don’t know what I’m signing up for. I’ve seen him at his worst and his best and I know all about his checkered past. Don’t care. He’s going to be mine and I don’t want anyone else.

Kylo finishes his breakfast-lunch and stacks our plates neatly. Our waiter comes by with the check and I pay it before Kylo can start insisting on paying.

We’re quiet again for a minute. Kylo rests his cheek on top of my head and I close my eyes, leaning into his ribs. I turn my head a little to nudge his jaw and he tilts to let me lick his gland.

I think we’re there for a long time. I don’t really care.

—•—

After breakfast-lunch (I don’t know, didn’t feel quite like brunch to me) Kylo brings me to a terrifying storage container in Boston. He keeps a lot of his old belongings there but once we pull up the old building I’m thinking he’s just looking to murder me.

 “Looks great,” I say sarcastically as I get out of his car.

He locks the doors and snaps his fingers, absentmindedly offering his hand toward me. I roll my eyes as I take his hand. See? Rude.

 “I put a lot of my things here while I went to MIT,” he says. “Didn’t want to commit to moving them to my temporary job.”

 “Aren’t I supposed to be the one fearing commitment?”

Kylo gives me a Look. I smile back at him anyway.

We walk into the crumbling building and up some stairs to the second floor. It’s lined with orange rolling doors and the lighting sucks so I hurry along behind Kylo, prickly with anxiety. Yikes.

He stops at a door with a peeling ‘706’ and gets his keys. I wait.

 “This may be a little overwhelming,” he says. “I haven’t opened it in a couple years.”

I shrug. Whatever. I’ll be fine. I’m way better with the scent of Omegas than I used to be. He crouches to unlock the door and slowly brings it up until it rolls into the ceiling.

I’m assailed by a slightly different scent of him—it’s still him but lighter and sweeter. The room is crammed full of boxes that are mostly overturned or have their insides pulled out and strewn on the floor: blankets, pillows, stuffed animals. I’m staying still and digging my nails into my palms, and Kylo walks in.

I’m assuming it isn’t supposed to be a mess, because he gets stiff in the shoulders and rubs his mouth. He looks around with one hand on his hip, quiet. There’s another scent here that makes my mouth burn. Alpha, maybe. One that just visited and left.

Kylo still doesn’t speak. His hand combs through his hair and rubs his nape as he surveys the room.

I flex my fingers, watching him.

 “We can clean up,” I offer.

He nods. His back is facing me so I can’t begin to read him, and I take an unsure step closer. I don’t want to intrude on his space or turn into a crazed beast but I don’t want to silently stare at the back of his head, either. I can help.

I sidle up to him, bending over to pick up a stuffed giraffe. I’m smiling when I look up at him but his jaw is set and his dark eyes are distant and watery and angry. He doesn’t look back at me, and his throat bobs. I think he’s about to cry.

Kylo wriggles his jaw from side to side and swallows again.

 “I kept… everything here.” He raises his eyebrows, rubbing his nape. “Organized. Hoping—” He inhales sharply. “I would be able to share it with someone.”

 “We can clean up,” I repeat, wrapping my arm around his. “I can even roll around on stuff. Point and I roll.”

He glances down at me and smiles a little, coughing a half sob, half laugh. I nod and gesture widely to the chaos, tugging him by the arm.

 “We can do it,” I say.

 “It’s going to take the entire weekend.”

 “That’s fine.” I shrug and smile up at him and his smile comes back again, kind of weak. “I want to see all your stuff anyway. I’ve been needing a new blanket or two and I think you sewed about six hundred of them.”

He groans and rolls his eyes as tears slide down his cheeks. I snatch up a pink blanket to wipe them away but he actually breaks down into tears.

 “They take—everything from me, Rey—every little thing I have—”

I thought a grown man crying would make me uncomfortable but I’m surprised it doesn’t. Crying is good for everyone, and I’m glad he drops to his knees so I can really get my arms around him.

Kylo takes a little bit to calm down. He’s nuzzled under my chin, curled up as small as a redwood tree like him can be.

 “I’m sorry,” I say after another pause. I hug him tighter. “We can move it all out—bring it back home? Then you know it’s safe.”

Kylo sniffles.

 “I don’t want to be one of those Omegas that hoards.”

 “It’s not hoarding. You’re an Omega—these things make you happy and comfortable. You should have them at home instead of sitting in some creepy serial killer storage unit.”

He makes another laughing sob. Lips brush my neck like he’s giving me a grateful kiss and it kind of fans the flames for me. Don’t be a creep, Rey.

 “I can get rid of some of it,” he says. He sits up, wiping his eyes and looking around. “Some of this is from seminars—I should let those things go.”

 “That sounds like a good idea to me.”

Kylo nods. He rubs his face with both hands and exhales through his fingers.

 “Sorry,” he says, muffled.

 “You don’t have to be sorry for being upset. It’s a total violation of your privacy.”

Another nod. Kylo sits like that for a minute before leaning forward to draw me into a hug up on my knees. I wrap my arms loosely around his neck and bury my face in his hair.

 “Thank you,” he mumbles. “I love you.”

 “I love you, too.”

It comes out easy this time and makes my heart skip a beat. He releases and gestures to the chaos.

 “There’s something for you in here.”

 “Really?!” I clap excitedly. “Presents!”

 “Yes—you had me spinning for a handful of weeks.” Kylo shakes his head, passing a hand through his hair again. “Made four or five blankets. It was completely ridiculous.”

 “Well our first order of business is to find my present.”

He motions as if to say ‘be my guest,’ and I begin eagerly picking through the mess. Everything I pick up has a story attached to it, and Kylo seems content to sit and watch and tell me about all his things.

It’s the best weekend I’ve had in a long time.

—•—

On Monday I find out I’m suspended from attending classes on campus for a week thanks to beating the shit out of Poe. It’s just as well—I hate going to class, and now most of them are final exam prep.

Kylo reads the email over my shoulder while he’s getting ready to leave. He huffs.

 “Discrimination,” he says.

 “Yeah… no.” I shake my head, turning to look at him over the back of the couch. “I think the punishment fits the crime here.”

He huffs again, rolling his eyes. Rose is still staying with Finn and will be the foreseeable future, so I’m happy to not be wallowing alone in my dorm. I can do some cleaning—we brought back a couple of Kylo’s favorite possessions. Doesn’t make since to get everything right now when he plans of moving.

I nestle into my pink blanket, my present from his storage room. Had to really dive for it. He has a lot of blankets.

 “I’ll study while you’re gone,” I lie.

 “Liar.”

Damn. I smile a little, peeking out as he rounds the couch, and he tries not to smile back. I mean, I will study. It’s not like I want to fail.

Kylo sighs, bending to kiss my forehead. “What am I going to do with you?”

I bat my eyelashes and pucker my lips and get another kiss. He smells nice—we don’t plan on stopping our suppressants until next week but pheromones aside, I like his cologne. Cottony. Fresh.

 “Hux and I are dropping off some stuff at the shelter,” I call as Kylo is leaving. “You’re sure it’s okay to give away the stuff in the black bags, right?”

 “Yes, it’s fine. I have plenty more to replace it all.”

Good. He really does. We threw some stuff away and piled all the clean blankets into bags to be donated. The scent is great for Alphas who are unmedicated, or they can wash them and give them to Omegas. Better than collecting dust somewhere.

Kylo looks back at me and I blow him a sarcastic kiss. He pretends to catch it, smiling, then immediately frowns and points a long finger at me.

 “Study,” he calls as he walks out the door.

Mm. Maybe. I wriggle under my blanket, yawning. I’m kinda busy today.

—•—

On the day of my last final, I skip my Supralpha.

Kylo offers it to me in the morning—now I usually sleep over so we’ve fallen into a rhythm with it—and he raises his eyebrows when I shake my head. He’s half-asleep and his hair is all tousled and I have to remind myself that I’ll fail calculus if I miss the final by staying home to fuck him.

And he’ll probably get in trouble, too.

I’m busy putting my hair in three buns and pretend not to notice him staring at me. I catch his blank expression in the bathroom mirror though and smile awkwardly, raising my eyebrows.

 “What?” I ask.

 “…Are you sure?”

 “Why wouldn’t I be?”

 “You’re eighteen.” He rolls the pink pill in his palm, gazing right through me. “It’s a permanent commitment.”

I roll my eyes. Well I already bit him and that was a permanent commitment, too.

 “Well—” I shrug, busying myself with wiping out the sink. “I know what I want.”

I’m expecting more pushback from him, about how I need to think about it longer and how I don’t know what I want. But when I risk a peek he’s just watching me quietly, head tilted. He’s wearing an old Grand Canyon t-shirt with some small holes in it and boxers. Somehow he still looks hot.

Kylo throws my pill in the trash.

We finish getting ready, both quiet and wrapped up in our thoughts. He skips his suppressant, too, and watches me while we eat breakfast. I keep pretending not to notice, slowly stuffing my face with waffles.

He taps his plate with his fork. I think it’s to catch my attention but I’m determined not to keep talking about this whole thing. He doesn’t have to make it weird. We already discussed it a few weeks ago.

But he doesn’t speak. He keeps tapping, only letting up when I’m done and take his plate. That’s enough of that.

 “I’m concerned you don’t understand that this is permanent,” he says to the back of my head.

 “Well, I’m conscious and I speak English, so I think I get the gist of it.”

 “…You’re right.” His chair drags on the floor; I think he’s standing. “I don’t mean to patronize.”

I get a kiss on my temple and a light pat on my butt and he wanders off to finish getting ready. Yes—thank you. I know what I want. I’m well aware of what this means for the rest of our lives. It’s still what I want, and he doesn’t need to check up on me.

It’s a quiet drive to the campus and we’re quiet on our way inside. It’s fully frigid now and Kylo is bundled in his black coat and the pink scarf, freshly layered with my pheromones and wrapped around half his face. He hates the cold—he gets cold easily and complains until he’s swaddled like the baby he is.

Unfortunately we aren’t going to be in the same exam room: I’m given a different proctor and a different exam, just so the school knows I’m not cheating—as if  Kylo would ever let me cheat.

My proctor meets us near the doors to the lecture hall. She’s nice and gives me a second to kiss Kylo goodbye like he’s going off to war. It’s only an hour and a half long. After this I’m hoping we’ll go straight home and take a nap.

I kiss my bite on his throat. “See you soon.”

 “Mm,” he mumbles distractedly. He tilts his chin a little, relaxing into the nibbles like usual, then the proctor clears her throat. “Ah—sorry, Miss Helm.”

We part ways. I take a deep breath and follow Miss Helm down the hall to my exam room, and Kylo steps into the lecture hall.

—•—

Hux invites us to lunch after the exam is over. Apparently Phasma is in town with one of her Omegas, Mitaka; the one she’s permanently bonded to. She has others, though. I wonder how that works.

I’m excited and nervous once we’re seated in our booth waiting for her. Hux is on one side of me, Kylo on the other, and Kylo is scowling.

He pushes his glasses up his nose. “Always late.”

 “Oh, relax,” Hux says. He’s browsing his menu, whistling a tune. “Not like you two have anywhere to be, and Rey should meet another Alpha woman.”

I should, yes. So far it’s Leia and Ahsoka and I was too freaked out to ask either of them much.

Kylo keeps his hand planted firmly on my thigh while we wait, and he squeezes hard when a tall blonde woman comes in the front door. A short man with dark hair follows close behind her, kinda scurrying like a mouse in her wake. It’s… weird.

Phasma brightens when she sees us and waves. She’s pretty, with a round face and big blue eyes, and her registration bracelet has four or five tags dangling from it. She hugs Hux and ignores Kylo, then reaches out to shake my hand. Strong grip.

 “So nice to see you all!” she says. “And so nice to meet you, Rey. I’ve heard so much.”

She’s wearing a nice blue sweater dress and some silver jewelry, and I can’t help but notice Mitaka looks a little raggedy in comparison. He’s clean, but he doesn’t introduce himself and keeps his eyes on the floor. Phasma casually hands him her coat and he scurries away to hang it up.

 “Peavey is whining at me to come home,” she says, rolling her eyes as she sits. “He’s been so misbehaved lately—I told him he’ll need to find a shelter if he can’t learn how to watch his mouth.”

There isn’t a bite mark on her neck. I thought she and Mitaka were permanently mated, but I get a crawling sensation as I realize I must be mistaken. Weird.

He comes back and doesn’t sit until she gestures for him to. She continues to ignore him while she chats with Hux, and Kylo gently presses his weight to my side. Mitaka definitely has a big bite on the side of his neck, so I’m guessing Phasma keeps a harem.

 “Don’t speak to him,” Kylo mutters in my ear. “Phasma hasn’t given permission. It’s why she hasn’t spoken to me, either.”

 “Aren’t you two friends?”

 “Hardly, but friendship is secondary to our hierarchy.”

Increasingly creeped out, I clear my throat.

 “Kylo told me a lot about you, Phasma,” I say. I glance back at him and he sarcastically raises his eyebrows, pressing his lips together. “And a little about Mitaka.”

 “Oh, my little Dopheld?” Phasma smiles and finally acknowledges his presence, and Mitaka smiles faintly. “He’s one of five. I also have Peavey, Snap, Jessika, and Thanisson all waiting for me at home.”

Jesus. I nod, trying to smile politely. Five Omegas. Kylo can be sort of exhausting sometimes. I can’t imagine having or wanting five more of him.

Phasma runs her hand through Mitaka’s hair. “Dopheld was my first, though. I found him around the time Ren was pestering me to take him instead.”

 “As if I wanted to be one of your servants for the rest of my life,” Kylo snaps.

Clearly he’s been waiting for an excuse to argue. Hux laughs nervously as a lull settles in the conversation, Phasma’s smile turning tight, and Mitaka examines his hands. Her fingers are still idly moving in his hair.

 “You’re still such an unpleasant Omega.” Phasma glances at me. “Don’t you find him irksome and difficult, Rey? I know a very nice young male in Connecticut around your age—he’s very sweet. This one should be retired to a shelter. Wouldn’t want to pass on his foul attitude to your offspring.”

I’m floored by her callous attitude. I don’t respond for a couple seconds, shocked that she would encourage me to dump her friend at a shelter because he isn’t my personal servant like her harem is to her. I’m afraid all the female Alphas are like this, and suddenly acutely aware that I might never fit in with my kind.

I don’t really know what to say. I’m not interested in a public fight, and I don’t think I have anything to gain from speaking to her any longer.

Kylo is stiff and angry when I turn and kiss his brand. His throat bobs under my lips but he doesn’t relax.

 “Rey and Kylo are going to make things permanent,” Hux says. “Right, guys?”

I nod but don’t reply. I think Hux is trying to salvage the lunch but that’s not going to happen. I pat Kylo’s thigh and motion for him to get up.

 “Let’s go home,” I say.

He stands, so agitated that I feel it hot and thrumming across our bond. Phasma groans as I grab our coats and help Kylo into his.

 “Always so dramatic,” she complains. “Rey, don’t waste yourself on this one. Look how absurd and childish he is—isn’t he, Hux?”

 “Come on, Phasma; why do you always start on him…”

They start arguing just as we’re leaving, and I’m happy not to have to listen to it.

Traffic rolls by slowly outside, and Kylo stops at the edge of the sidewalk, tapping a brown ball of slush with his boot. His hands are in his pockets and he doesn’t look back at me for a minute, breath curling gray in the cold air.

He looks down, then glances over his shoulder at me. It’s quick so I don’t see his expression well.

I’m saddened again. That doesn’t seem like a life anyone would want, and it makes me sad that Kylo was willing to settle for it.

The door chime jingles behind me and I edge forward a couple steps to get out of the way. I shiver, meandering to Kylo’s side to watch the traffic with him. We’re quiet for a minute.

 “Mitaka creeps me out,” I confess. Kylo looks down at me and I laugh, shaking my head. “I’m sorry, but what kind of Twilight Zone shit was that?”

That draws a slim smile. He nods, scanning the road again. “It’s a little unsettling.”

I loop my arm through Kylo’s, gently steering him along the sidewalk towards his car. There are plenty of other diners for us to visit.

 “Their kids would be like those twins from The Shining,” I add.

He laughs, shaking his head. I keep listing off all the horror movie similarities I can think of while we stroll down the sidewalk, and soon he rests his cheek on top of my head.

—•—

Three days after we stop our suppressants, I wake to chirping. It’s the middle of the night, and I’m confused by the empty spot beside me in bed. I yawn as I sit up, wincing at a strange ache in my jaw.

 “Kylo?” I rasp. I rub my eyes. “You there?”

Rustling follows but he doesn’t answer. My eyes adjust to the darkness, and I notice the closet door is open with a couple blankets spilling out on the floor.

My heart skips a beat when I see his hands emerge from the recesses of the closet, smoothing the blanket out on the floor. We’ve been very lucid since stopping our medication and I’ve been wondering which of us would start cycling first.

Kylo chirps again, lilting into a purr that’s alien and strange and makes my spine prickle. It’s odd watching a grown man making a nest of blankets in his closet, but it still arouses me. It’s been weird getting used to that being hot. Very weird.

I slip out of bed to get a glass of water, tiptoeing past the closet so I don’t disturb him. We’re starting to pack stuff for our move to the new place but it’s best to wait until the cycling and mating and stuff is over. We’re trying to avoid even going outside until it’s all done. Risky stuff.

But it’s exciting. I’m really excited. I bounce on my toes while I drink my water, listening for the sound of Kylo moving around in the bedroom. I can’t wait. I know I’ll be thinking differently when I’m in rut and he’s pinning me down but that’s all hormones. I know what I want.

I rinse out my glass and turn.

Kylo is there, looming in the doorframe. I squeak in surprise and jerk back into the counter, and he takes a sharp step forward. He’s only wearing briefs and another old T-shirt and his hair is damp. Must’ve showered.

I laugh, breathless. “Sorry—you scared me. You’re really quiet when you want to be.”

He doesn’t answer. He stares, and it gives me that excited, nervous tingle in my stomach. He’s in it now. I don’t think he can bite me until I’m in it, too.

Kylo shuffles a couple steps closer. His hesitance keeps my alarm bells from going off and I’m only a bit apprehensive by the time he gently wraps his arms around my middle, dipping his mouth to my neck. He chirps until he’s too busy kissing me to keep going.

The second I feel his teeth, I hiss. It’s involuntary and loud and he tightens his embrace, softening his kisses and resuming chirping. The flash of irritation fades and I relax into his arms while he kisses along my throat and up to my jaw. It’s nice. Feels like a massage.

He leans down to scoop me up, and I’m agitated again, growling and squirming in his arms. The kisses only keep me placated until we reach the bedroom, where he sets me on my feet and closes the door. I’m bristling even though I have no reason to be, and I bare my teeth when he turns to look at me.

 “Everything is all ready.” His voice is rough from disuse and he absentmindedly rubs his bite mark, gazing at me. “Just need you.”

My growl rises a pitch as he starts toward me. He chirps, moving slowly—but I bolt for the window anyway.

He catches me around the waist. He’s strong, but I knew that already. I’m dragged back a couple feet until I manage to knock him over, sending us spilling to the floor.

Kylo rolls over on top of me before I can scramble away, grunting when I flail my legs and hiss and snarl. He pins me on my stomach, and a cold lump settles in my stomach but it’s exhilarating and hot, and I pant heavily into the carpet. My heart races, blood pounding in my ears. I love this part.

He drags me into the closet. It’s filled with soft stuff that I kick at as I roll on my back, struggling against him. Kylo prowls on top of me, teeth bared, growling the way I am. It makes my belly clench.

 “Behave, Miss Niima,” he says in a low, firm tone.

His fingers wrap around my neck, hesitant like he’s waiting for me to freak out. I close my eyes instead, loving it for the same reason I love him chasing me around and pinning me down, and he tightens his grip until my head swims. Good, good. Now he doesn’t remind me to tell him if I don’t like something—he knows I’ll just tell him. I don’t need prompting. I’m not a moron.

But Kylo loosens his grip, sliding his hands down to pull my pants off. I twist over on my stomach when he pulls the buttons free on my shirt and tosses it aside, too, and he rolls me on back again. He hovers over me, one hand on either side of my head, and smiles.

 “Are you going to be a good girl for me, Rey?” I shake my head and his smile widens. “Good.”

He leans back on his knees to take his shirt off, then his briefs come off, too. I growl as he grasps my hip to turn me on my stomach and drag my butt up off the blankets. I struggle against him for a minute, and he locks his long forearm around my hips to pull me up where he wants me.

Kylo sinks inside my body in one smooth stroke. I whimper, eyes rolling back as he draws back, dragging along my walls before he pushes in again.

 “All mine,” he breathes.

His hand slips between my legs and I buck against his fingers, already panting. I’m less attuned to him biting me and more concerned with coming, thighs trembling as he quickly brings me to that brink, and I tumble over. It smells nice in here; warm and safe. Soon I’m delirious from the soft scent of Kylo and the sheer pleasure of his rough fingers touching me. Orgasms aside—this is blissful.

My body tightens around him, and I feel his warm breath on my neck a handful of times. He lies beside me when we’re too spent to stay up on our knees and gathers a couple blankets over us. I’m drowsy and sated and can feel him gently moving inside me, one hand cupping my breast.

 “I missed this,” he mumbles in my hair. His thumb languidly circles my nipple, and he sighs sleepily. “You make me very happy, Rey. I love you.”

I grunt. “Love you too.”

His cock twitches and he exhales on my nape, slowly rolling his hips. Pleasant warmth wanders along our bond up into the nape of my neck, and teeth graze the thin skin there. I shift, frowning, but too tired to bother growling or anything. I want him to—I definitely want him to—but it’s so nerve-wracking.

 “Just relax,” Kylo whispers. Teeth graze once more and another tingle slithers down my spine. “Shh… shh…”

He bites, and the world tilts on its axis.

—•—

I’m alone in the bed when I wake up.

It’s warm and smells like heaven, and I’m pretty sure Kylo cleaned me up while I was asleep. I huff, squeezing my eyes tightly shut, kinda disappointed that he isn’t around. Where could he have gone? Kind of rude to leave me alone like this.

I start to sit up, wincing at how stiff my neck is. When I rub my nape I feel the indentations from Kylo’s teeth and it gives me another wave of anxiety. It’s done. I mean, it’s what I wanted, but it’s done, and I’m not used to committing like this—and I’m sobbing before I can help myself. Uh oh. Oh no—oh no—

There are quick footsteps in the hallway. I try to get a hold of myself before Kylo reaches the door but he does, wearing a pink apron with his black hair tied back, and the sight of him makes me burst out laughing.

He smiles only faintly in return as he comes over to me, peeling the thing off. I sway back into sobs again and reach out—I don’t know for what—and he picks me up like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

 “It’s okay,” he whispers. He’s carrying me to the closet, and I’m not seized by my usual apprehension. “I cleaned the nest out and thought I would have breakfast done before you woke up—I’m sorry, Rey.”

I’m deposited in a large pile of blankets, and Kylo sets a pillow behind my head. He wraps me in them and I’m surprised and a little freaked out at how quickly it calms me. I sniffle as he tucks a blanket under my chin, again with casual ease like he’s done it before. Like instinct. Did he know I’d wake up like this?

He kisses my forehead, cupping my cheek. I gaze up at him and can’t seem to find any words. Warmth creeps over my brain—it’s him. It’s the bond and holy shit does it feel different.

Kylo kisses me again. “Better?” I nod, sniffling. “Good. I washed your favorite blanket and scented it again. Do you want that while you wait for breakfast?”

I nod. He smiles and leaves me to get it, and a cold sensation trails from the left side of my chest. I bark in distress, squirming in my blankets, and I’m relieved that he quickly returns with the pink blanket.

He kneels, shushing me. “Shh, shh—just relax, Rey. I know it’s very overwhelming.” He fans the blanket across me. “I’m going to go finish cooking, okay? I won’t be far if you need me.”

 “Don’t go,” I rasp. “Don’t go.”

 “You should eat something. We had a very long night.”

Probably, but the thought of him leaving again gives me unspeakable anxiety. I stare at him with my watery eyes until he groans.

 “Let me turn off the stove,” he says.

I watch him go, and the icy sensation yanks at my chest again. It crawls into my arms and up my throat and I feel like I’m suffocating, so I bury my face in the blankets and take a deep breath. It helps, somewhat. I can’t believe how much it hurts—did he feel this way when we were apart after I bit him?

Kylo returns and closes the closet door a bit behind him. He joins me in my blanket fort and I’m suffused in warmth and calm once he wraps his arms around me. I nuzzle under his chin, shivering. He’s going to have to carry me everywhere like a baby koala. I don’t think I can tolerate being apart.

 “Sorry,” I whisper.

 “Don’t be sorry.” He kisses my hair, sighing and hugging me. “This is like my catnip.”

We doze off after a few minutes, and my stomach grumbles.

—•—

The next time I wake, I’m alone in the closet.

I’m not gripped with mortal terror like I was earlier. I slowly sit up, clutching my pink blanket, and notice Kylo left me a bottle of water. I take a sip, which turns into guzzling the entire thing. He also left me a piece of chocolate and I nibble on that.

I smell something cooking down the hall and my stomach grumbles. Trembling, I get to my feet, still clinging to my blanket, and follow the knot in my heart down the hall to the kitchen. I’m very hungry. Shaky. But I don’t feel like I’m on the verge of tears.

Kylo is standing at the stove moving something around in a pan with a spatula. He’s wearing his apron again, and looks up and smiles at me. I smile back.

He gestures to the kitchen table. “Should be ready soon, if you want to sit?”

 “Oh… great.”

I sit. He keeps smiling at me but eventually peels his eyes away to focus on cooking.

Kylo prepares me a plate of bacon and eggs and toast, and gives me a glass of orange juice—with pulp. I thank him as he settles my blanket around my shoulders, but frown when he sits across from me.

 “Pulp?” I ask.

He cocks his head, fanning his napkin on his lap. “Don’t you like it?”

 “…Yeah. But how’d you know?”

Kylo doesn’t answer for a minute. He hesitates, and avoids my eyes when he speaks.

 “Whenever we get breakfast you feel vaguely disappointed with the orange juice.” He clears his throat. “I know you’re not picky enough to pay attention to the brand, so I assumed you liked the pulp.” He raises his eyebrows, muttering. “Repulsive as that may be.”

…Oh. I nod, watching him dump sugar and milk into his coffee like he always does. Right.

 “Thank you,” I say.

 “Sure.” Kylo shrugs. “I’m finely attuned to these things. I like learning your preferences. Even when they’re repulsive.”

He sips his coffee and I stare at him for another minute.

I push out from the table and he glances up, grunting when I hug him around the neck. There’s a flicker of surprise followed by a swell of warmth.

 “I love you,” I mumble.

 “I love you, too.”

We’re quiet. I don’t really want to move. I’m overwhelmed by how much I love him and how happy he makes me, and how nice it is feeling him like this.

Kylo pats my butt lightly. “You need to eat.”

 “Oh—right.” I straighten and rub my eyes before the tears come. “Sorry.”

He smiles at me when I’m seated again, and I smile back at him before I start eating.

I’ve never been certain of anything in my life, but I’m certain that I love him more than anything.