Ben Solo took a step away and stretched his shoulders, bending back to look up at the clear gray sky of Lah’mu. It looked like rain but there was nothing to precipitate it, which is why he was out here trying to fix the ancient water vaporator. The sharp, clean scent of grasses filled the foggy air, clearing his head and soothing his thoughts. They had come here to get away from it all, if even temporarily, and this planet’s isolated calm was just right for healing and preparing.
Ben sighed as he turned back to the malfunctioning piece of equipment, determined to finish this today. While he wasn’t mechanically inept by a long shot, Rey had better knowledge of Imperial-era technology than he did and she probably would’ve been able to identify the issue by now. It was his own fault for insisting on doing the job so she could rest.
The commlink on his belt crackled, startling him.
“Ben, come here!”
Ben scrambled to respond, dropping the hydrospanner he’d been using to fix the sensor to activate his commlink. “Are you alright? Rey?”
“Come quickly. Please.”
Ben abandoned his project and made for the homestead, wading through the field of thick grasses that rose up to his waist. He knew she was alright – besides knowing she could defend herself, the bond told him that she wasn’t frightened, at least not because Rey was in danger. No, Rey had the same anxiety and uncertainty he felt squeezing his own heart whenever he thought of her. A kind of breathlessness and desperation and excitement all tied together in impossible knots.
He didn’t take his boots off in his haste, tracking the black mineral-rich tephra past the entrance and into the living quarters. He could clean it up later.
He found her sitting on the lounge seat, her breakfast of warm grain and meiloorun forgotten on the side table.
Rey smiled up at him. “Hi.”
Ben stepped closer, trying to read her face. Her eyes glowed with nervous energy. “What is it?”
He lowered himself next to her, placing an arm over her shoulders, and she took his hand, guiding it to her swollen belly.
“Wait for it,” Rey said.
He stared at their hands, his overlaid with hers. He loved her hands, smaller than his but just as strong, calloused from years of work and struggle. Hands that had given him so much, even when he didn’t deserve it. He hoped his hands could give her as much.
He felt it. A fleeting pressure against his palm where it rested on Rey’s stomach over her soft tunic. He looked up at her in astonishment.
“Did you feel her?”
Ben nodded, speechless.
“She’s awake,” Rey said. “I didn’t want you to miss it.”
He’d felt his daughter before, a tiny, nebulous spark within the vastness of the Force, growing stronger every day. He had never felt quite that exact torrent of emotion as when Rey had told him that he’d be a father. But this was close, realizing that one day very soon, he would be able to see her and hold her and play with her.
Ben didn’t notice the salty tears slipping down his cheeks as he shifted, laying his head on Rey’s lap and curling his body on the lounge seat. Her fingers were in his hair, running over his scalp in a soothing pattern.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
He chuckled, the sound getting caught in his throat on the way out. “Yes. Yes, I’m good.”
“Your boots are getting dirt all over the seat.”
“You’re going to clean it up,” she chided. He could hear the smile in her voice.
“I know,” he answered.
“I love you.”