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Keep the Car Running

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Rey hates not driving. 

 

It’s the worst part of the carpool. 

 

She hates sitting in the passenger seat.

 

She hates the stupid coconut air fresheners Poe has hanging off his rearview mirror. 

 

But mostly she just hates not having control. 

 

At least Poe has a nice car—Rey always feels a little bad when her friends have to jam themselves into her Mini Cooper. But at least when she’s driving, it takes a mere five minutes to get to Rose and Finn’s house. Partially because it’s only a few miles away from the apartment complex Poe and Rey both live in, and partially because she’s an impatient, lead-footed speed demon. 

 

But Poe seems to be taking his sweet, sweet time today. Going exactly the speed limit. Making full and complete stops at every stop sign.

 

It’s times like these she’s lucky he’s a Beta and can’t get a read on her moods through her scent, because right now he'd be getting a nose-full of irritation. He’s blabbering on about some client he’s scored, and Rey makes sure to hum every once in a while, pretending to listen. She’s leaning against the window, half asleep, when Poe turns into the wrong neighborhood.

 

“Wait, where are you going?” She asks from her haze, sitting up straight.

 

“I told you we have a straggler this week, Rey. His car broke down, so he’s joining the carpool for a couple of days.”

 

“And when, might I ask, did you tell me this?”

 

“I don’t know…yesterday at lunch? No, wait, I texted you last night. Check your texts. It’s in there. I told you,” Poe insists.

 

Rey remembers nothing of the sort, so she whips out her phone and searches through her texts with Poe from yesterday. She’s unsurprised to find all that’s in there is his rant about the Game of Thrones finale he just got around to watching, along with a picture of the turkey BLT he made himself for dinner.

 

“No you didn’t!” She shoves her phone in front of his face. “Look!” The car swerves and a Toyota trying to pull out of their drive aggressively honks at them.

 

“Rey, I’m driving! Get your phone outta my face!” Poe swats her hand away, and Rey relents, tossing her phone in her bag. She's seething. This is so like Poe.

 

“You definitely didn’t tell me.”

 

“Must’ve forgot.” He shrugs.

 

“Well, who is it then?”

 

She folds her arms across her chest and pins him with an accusatory look. Poe stays silent as they pull into a typical, Chandrila, Ohio middle-class neighborhood. Rey’s stomach sinks, a feeling of foreboding creeping into her system. 

 

“Who is it, Poe?” She asks again, with less conviction. 

 

Poe parks in front of a well-kept Cape Cod-style house and turns to her and smiles cheekily. But there’s a nervousness in his eyes, which, in turn, sets Rey’s nerves alight. She’s about to ask again, but then she sees the front door open, and watches as the worst-case-scenario walks down the front path, all wrapped up in a fine black peacoat and scarf, and toting his stupidly expensive leather briefcase.

 

God she hates Ben Solo. 

 

He’s wearing glasses today. She especially hates it when he wears glasses. They make him look…decent. And he is not decent.

 

As soon as he opens the back door of the car, Rey is dizzy. Drunk on his pheromones. She feels like her eyes are about to burst like fireworks inside their sockets. Her tongue feels heavy and saliva fills her mouth. 

 

This is why Poe didn’t tell her. Rey can’t stand being around him. He’s an arrogant douchebag with no manners and a sense of entitlement as big as his fucking chest. And his chest is…big. 

 

But he’s also an Alpha. A really, really fucking delicious-smelling Alpha. 

 

The first day Ben Solo came to work at Resistance Technologies, she was already prepared to hate him. She’d never met him, of course, but she’d heard enough nightmarish stories from Poe, Finn, Luke and even Leia that she imagined throttling him before he could even speak to her. She knew he was an Alpha—it had been mentioned multiple times in passing—but she never considered what that would mean for her. Especially because she’s never really had a problem with one before.

 

There were a few Alphas in the office—some of them even unmated—and they did nothing for her. Most of them smelled fine--like any other guy who showers and wears a decent cologne. A couple of them smell pretty foul, but not in an unmanageable way. She can count the times she’s had a truly positive biological reaction to an Alpha on one hand, which is why she hasn’t minded sticking with Beta partners all her life. It got to a point where she’d convinced herself there was something wrong with her. 

 

And without even speaking to her, she transformed into a desperate little puddle of an Omega around Ben fucking Solo. Her boss's insufferable nephew. The CEO's insufferable son. 

 

The second she locked eyes with him at the morning meeting, her body had a visceral response; mouth flooded with saliva, panties flooded with slick. And she knew he must’ve smelled her arousal because the look he gave her was one of disgust—an intense furrowed brow, lips tight in a scowl, and she swears she could see him holding his breath throughout the meeting.

 

And maybe he was right to look at her like that. She was completely soaking through her panties in the middle of the work day, just like those weak, stereotypical Omegas that are featured in old films and pornos. 

 

But she’d never smelled anything like that. 

 

Like him. 

 

That night she called in a request for a prescription for stronger suppressants. Not that that’s made a difference in the months since.

 

Their interactions after that have been…minimal to say the least. Which has probably been purposeful on both their ends. He can't stand the way she smells, and she can't stand the way he works. He's authoritarian. Too authoritarian for someone who is only slightly higher on the totem pole than she is. And thinks he's always right in a way that is exhausting to be around. She's sure it stems from his last job, and the high rank he held there, and the asshole he worked for.

 

Her first taste of this was when they were put on a project together a few weeks after his arrival. They had a tense one-on-one meeting, wherein Ben shot down all her ideas explaining that “she doesn’t know what she’s getting into.” Then they met the client for lunch, which she thought went alright despite the client behind a total Alpha creep, and the next thing she knew she was taken off the project—at his behest. 

 

She tries hard not to resent Luke for it—there must be a good reason other than his nephew just not liking her. And she tries even harder not to resent Finn for it, since he replaced her and eventually got a promotion because of it. A promotion she so desperately wanted…But it helped him and Rose finally buy a house, so she tries not to be too bitter about it. 

 

But ever since then, she avoids his delicious-smelling, completely indecent body like the plague. And for the most part, it’s worked. But not today. Not this morning. Because this morning he is trapped with her in a steel box, with very little ventilation and no fucking escape until they reach downtown Chandrila. 

 

“Morning, Solo!” Poe chirps, as Ben closes the door behind him. His eyes meet Rey’s just for a quick second, but it’s enough to make her stomach flip. They look away from each other at the same time.

 

“Dameron,” Ben nods in Poe’s direction, then begins to adjust his seatbelt. God he’s fucking huge. Poe’s car has never looked so small. “Rey,” he says, a whole octave lower than he said Poe’s name, and God she nearly chokes. she hates the way he says her name, and how much it turns her on—her Omega clearly doesn’t give a shit about what an asshole he is.

 

He then pulls his phone out of his pocket and begins typing away, making it clear he’s much too busy to make small talk. 

 

Poe throws a quick glance and a shrug at Rey, then puts the car back in drive. Rey folds her arms across her chest and slouches in the seat, trying to think about anything other than his scent.

 

Fresh and Earthy. A bit citrusy. And just a hint of Irish Spring Soap (which she definitely hasn’t started using after she’d met him…it just happens to be on sale when she’s at the shops…every time she goes). 

 

She wonders what she must smell like to him. Based on his reaction to her from the first day they met, she’d wager it’s not great. Which is frustrating because she’s never had any complaints before. 

 

She’d never had any compliments before either, though.

 

The three of them drive in almost complete silence the entire way to Rose and Finn’s, the sound of pop radio the only thing filling the void of awkwardness. 

 

Rey doesn’t even realize they’ve made it to Rose and Finn’s house until Rose opens the door and let some fresh air in. Rey tries to inhale as much of it as she can.

 

“Morning Rey, Poe!" Rose says, cheerfully. “Oh, hi Ben! I didn’t know you were joining us today.”

 

“Glad to hear I’m not the only one you kept out of the loop,” Rey mutters to Poe. He at least has the decency to look at her with a twinge of guilt.

 

Ben’s scent spikes again, and Rey has to close her eyes and press her body into the seat to steady herself. She pushes her wrists against her thighs, thinking the pressure might make her glands stop fucking itching. She’s trying to stay grounded. Trying to ignore how gloriously nauseous she is right now. 

 

“Are you officially a part of the Carpool Crew now?” Rose inquires, dropping the cute little name they’ve given themselves. Rey cringes. That was supposed to be between the four of them.

 

“My car broke down last night. I’m waiting on a part to come in. It’s going to be a few days. And Poe offered, so…”

 

“Oh, that sucks! I hope everything gets resolved quickly—not that we aren’t happy to have you as a member of our crew, of course. Right, Finn?” 

 

Finn says nothing. And Rey thinks, based on the small jolt to her seat, Rose may have assaulted Finn’s leg with her foot.

 

“Right, yeah, man. Nice to see you.” Finn isn’t a big fan of Ben either. They have a history. They worked together at First Order Tech years ago, and he didn’t have much praise for his former superior. Could also have something to do with his status as a male Omega, though Rey knows Finn would never admit to that insecurity. They seemed to get along better after the project they worked on together, though. And that doesn’t bother Rey at all. Not one bit.

 

After another beat of silence Rose asks, “Are you okay, Ben?”

 

“Fine,” he chokes out.

 

“You don’t look fine, are you sick?”

 

“No, I just…don’t do well in the back seat. Motion sickness.”

 

Oh, so now he wants her fucking seat. 

 

Rey can’t help but turn and glare at him. His head is practically hanging between his legs, but he must sense her withering stare, because it pops up in a flash. He knits his brows at her in confusion, and Rey whips back around to stare at the road. The dashboard. The coconut air freshener swinging in the rearview mirror. Anything but him.

 

Rose makes polite conversation with Ben in the back. Rey picks up a few bits and pieces about what he’s working on in the office and what he did on the weekend. She hears something about going to Leia’s house for dinner, which--just for a second--makes Rey happy because she knows all about their tumultuous relationship. The feeling fades when he starts complaining about Luke's incompetence, though.  

 

Ben asks her questions in return, too, which is odd for him. Simple questions about their house and projects she's a part of at work. He’s always been kind to Rose in a way that makes Rey’s blood boil. She’s an Alpha. So is he. So of course he would be pleasant around her. Especially because she’s mated, and therefore non-threatening. 

 

About twenty minutes into the ride Rey becomes desperate for some fresh air and tries to roll the window down. But Poe and Finn immediately start bitching at her, complaining about the cold, so she begrudgingly rolls it back up. She feels like there is a cloud of Ben’s scent sitting stagnant in the car.

 

When they arrive at their building, Rey doesn’t wait to walk in with the group, like she usually does. She practically launches herself out of the car the second Poe is settled in the parking garage. She runs into the lobby bathroom, and quickly burrows herself in a stall to clean herself up.

 

Fucking embarrassing.

 

Most of the time, being an Omega doesn’t bother Rey. She never really feels out of control, weak, or helpless like the Omega stereotypes go. She has heat twice a year, and they are hell to be sure, but not as bad as she’s heard others describe them. 

 

But this changed too, when Ben arrived, even with a stronger suppressant. Her heats have been more intense and painful. And the nameless, faceless Alpha she would imagine to help get through the heat suddenly turned into a six-foot-three shit brick house who wears stupid fucking glasses.

 

When Rey exits the loo she practically slams into Rose, who is standing there with her arms folded across her chest, a cocked eyebrow, and an accusatory look in her eye. Rey mumbles an apology, then pushes past the smaller woman to get to the lifts. Rose follows in hot pursuit. They stand side-by-side waiting for the lift to arrive.

 

“I could smell you, you know.” Rose says, not even sparing a glance at Rey. Which, is maybe a good thing since she’s sure she’s gone completely red from embarrassment.

 

“I—"

 

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me. I’m not telling you because I’m judging or trying to shame you. I’m telling you because I know what Ben Solo does to you, and what you do to him, and if he’s going to be riding with us the next few days you need to consider taking…extra precautions. I’m mated and I still felt quite suffocated by you that whole ride.” 

 

The elevator dings and the two women enter with another woman Rey thinks she recognizes from the Chandrila Times on floor four. Rose digs around inside her purse, and once the other woman gets off, Rose hands Rey a small plastic package. For a brief moment she thinks her friend just handed her a condom, and she nearly chokes on her own tongue at the implication, but when she turns it over in her palm she sees it's an emergency blocker.

 

“Rose—"

 

“Just take it. Or the car ride home is going to be even worse. It’s supposed to last last twelve hours.”

 

Shit. She didn’t even think about the ride home.

 

When the lift arrives Rose shuffles out, shaking her head as she makes her way to her cubicle. Rey swears she hears her mutter something, though she can only see her shaking her head.

 

After Rey reaches her cubicle she sits at her desk and quickly swallows the emergency blocker dry. It feels like it’s sitting in her throat for the rest of the day. 

 

She only sees Solo twice during the next few hours; once in passing in the kitchen, and once when he stopped by Snap's desk to rudely bitch about something in harsh, low tones. He doesn’t bother to look her way on either occasion, and she tries very hard to pretend that it doesn't hurt her feelings. But she doesn’t smell him, and that’s what matters. 

 

In fact, she doesn’t smell much of anything. Her lunch doesn’t taste like much either. And the entirety of the work day feels like it’s happening under water. 

 

And that’s why she hates blockers—they dull the senses along with instincts. 

 

They remind her of her last foster father, an old, Slavic bookie called Unkar Plutt. He found her designation a nuisance, but he wanted that hefty check from the government for taking in an Omega. So he pumped her full of blockers for the entirety of the three years she stayed with him. She didn’t realize he’d been tampering with her food and drinks, giving her extra doses, on top of the pill she swallowed every morning before school. 

 

Sometimes it is hard to even remember that time in her life—everything was so clouded. Muted. Devoid of color. Devoid of happiness.

 

The second she turned eighteen she took herself off blockers and swore to only ever use them for emergencies…though she supposes today could be counted as an emergency of sorts.

 

She barely even feels the rush of excitement when she finally turns in her project proposal to Luke before lunch. And when she returns to her work station, she barely even feels the sting of rejection when she sees Luke has sent a short and politely-worded rejection of the proposal. She tries not to notice how quickly he responded.

 

So she just keeps working. Like she always does. Always has.

 

She doesn’t even realize it’s time to leave until Poe walks up behind her and kicks her chair with one of his snow boots to surprise her. He always does that. He thinks it’s funny. She does not share that sentiment. 

 

“I’ll be down in a few. I just have to finish this email,” Rey says, without sparing him a look. And for a second, she’s thankful for the blocker, as it has managed to wipe any irritation or emotion from her voice. Rose and Finn told her she bickers with him too much, so she’s been trying very hard lately not to.

 

He makes a quippy remark that she immediately forgets, and disappears. She sees Rose and Finn next, and throws her hand up to gesture she’ll only be a minute, and they nod and move hand-in-hand over to the lift too.

 

After she’s finished, she quickly packs her things and rushes to the lift. A shadow falls next to her as she waits for it’s arrival. She doesn’t have to see him, or even smell him, to know it’s Ben. He just has a dark and foreboding presence that’s hard to miss. 

 

They wait in silence, both burning a hole in the lift doors. He clears his throat a couple times, as if trying to decide whether or not he wants to use his voice. 

 

“I saw your proposal. It looked…well-researched,” he finally chokes out in typical monotone Ben fashion.

 

Rey rolls her eyes. 

 

“It was well-researched. I spent months on it. And your uncle turned it down in a mere ten minutes.”

 

“That’s just how he is. Maybe work on it a bit more and try again in a few months. He probably won’t even remember he looked at it once already.”

 

She abruptly spins on her heel and turns to face him. He's standing quite still, hugging his briefcase to his chest, and looking at her intently. But his face is slightly scrunched like he's expecting a verbal slap in the face.

 

“I know how Luke is. I’ve worked for him for four years. Even if I turn it in again a year from now he’ll still take a brief glance at it, decide it’s too ‘out there’ and continue to do things the way he’s always done them.”

 

“I could maybe say something to my mo—“

 

“I don’t need your help. I don’t want it. I can do this on my own.”

 

“I know,” he says quietly. When she dares a glance at him he’s staring at the floor, chewing on the side of his mouth.

 

“This is taking forever,” she mutters, mostly to herself, tapping her foot impatiently.

 

Ben sighs through his nose, and steps forward, reaching out to press the button panel, which she hadn't noticed wasn't lit up until just now. Apparently neither of them thought to hit it during the three minutes they’d been standing there. He steps back, and they stand in painful silence once again. She sneaks a few glances at him, unable to resist, and she's more than a little surprised to find that he looks nervous. More nervous than she's ever seen him look. He's an Alpha. He's dealt with some of the biggest names in the industry without so much as a flinch or a stutter. But right now, he looks fucking nervous.

 

“Rey—" he starts, and she doesn’t know what he's going to say, but by the tone of his voice she knows it's going to be something that will change things, that will make her feel differently. And she's not ready for that. She's not ready to not hate him.

 

So she decides it would be best just to run.

 

“I’m taking the stairs,” she yells, though she’s already halfway through the stairwell door when she yells it, so there was really no need to state the obvious. 

 

She nearly loses a boot on her way down the eight flights of stairs. 

 

She’s pleased not to see him in the lobby when she bursts through the stairwell door, and even more pleased he isn’t in the car yet. She claims the passenger seat, yet again, and slams the door behind her. She tries hard to catch her breath, and ignores the skeptical stares of Rose and Finn in the back seat.

 

“Took you long enough,” Poe says, and he begins backing out.

 

“Wait, what about Ben?” She protests quickly.

 

“He texted a few minutes ago. Said he was caught up in something for work, and he’ll be too late. He said to just go on without him.”

 

Rey slouches in the seat. 

 

He lied.  

 

Why would he lie? He was clearly leaving. 

 

She tries to justify it to herself. Maybe something came up after she ran down the stairs… 

 

But deep down she knows this has nothing to do with work and everything to do with her.

 

And she can’t help but feel…bad about it. 

 

So that’s one thing blockers can’t dull, she thinks. 

 

Guilt.

 

Chapter Text

Rey is spiraling.

 

Has been ever since the emergency blocker wore off around 9pm last night.

 

After Poe dropped her off, she begrudgingly ran to the drug store to pick up a pack of off-brand blockers. Not as high-strength as an emergency blocker, but they should do the trick.

 

She barely ate her dinner, chewed her nails down to the quick, and barely got a lick of sleep. The only thing running through her mind were three little words:

 

You upset Alpha.

 

And that only made her spiral more. Because Ben Solo is not her Alpha, nor does she give a shit about how he feels. Or, at least that’s what she’s been trying to convince herself. 

 

It doesn’t help that she has to see him again this morning.

 

Although, maybe she won’t. Maybe he’ll get a different ride like he did last night. 

 

She holds onto this hope all the way up to the point Rose and Finn pull up outside her building in their SUV, and his dark form is filling the back seat. 

 

Rose is driving, with Finn in the passenger seat, so she has no choice but to get in the back with him. 

 

He doesn't look at her when she opens the door, though she can't help but note the tension in his shoulders as she pulls herself in. He fumbles to pull his phone from his pocket, sticking to his tactic from yesterday. At the very least, she's pleased the car doesn’t smell like it’s been drenched in Eau De Ben Solo, though she breathes through her mouth anyway.

 

“Good morning, Rey!” Rose chirps, as Rey settles in the seat behind Finn. She tries to get comfortable—though she knows she won’t have much luck.  

 

“Morning, Rose, Finn.” She says.

 

She sneaks a glance to the man at her left. His eyes are still fixed on his phone, though he doesn’t seem like he's really looking at anything. 

 

She wants him to look at her. She doesn’t know why. Probably so she knows that he’s not upset about her running away yesterday, though she’s annoyed that that is so important to her. Why should she care what he thinks of her?

 

“Good morning, Ben.” The words just tumble out of her mouth before she can stop them. 

 

And she gets what she wants. He looks over at her, and seems almost as shocked as she feels that she bothered to greet him.

 

“Good morning,” he says it so gently that something in her chest flips in a not entirely unpleasant manner. 

 

“Where’s Poe?” Finn asks from the front seat, breaking the spell.

 

“I don’t know,” Rey says, finally looking away from the Alpha next to her. She clears her throat. “He must have caught his reflection on the way out the door and lost track of time.”

 

She thinks she hears a small breathy laugh escape through Ben’s nose. And that makes her feel good. Accomplished. Proud. 

 

And that’s how she knows these fucking blockers aren’t strong enough. They’re supposed to suppress her stupid instincts, but her Omega is taking something this small way too seriously. 

 

She vows not to look at him for the rest of the car ride, as if to punish her Omega.

 

Poe arrives with a boisterous slap to the window, making Rey practically jump out of her skin. He pulls the door open and stares at her expectantly, going so far as to cross his arms and tap his foot. 

 

“What?” She asks.

 

“Move over,” he answers, like it’s obvious.

 

“Just get in the middle.”

 

“I’m not going to squish myself in the middle. You’ll be more comfortable there than I will. You’re smaller than me.”

 

“Not by much.”

 

Poe rolls his eyes at her, and stands his ground.

 

“Come on man, just get in, it’s cold and we have to go,” Finn complains.

 

“Yeah, Rey, we have to go.” Poe waves his hands at her to move.

 

“We can go once you get in your seat. Right here, in the middle.” Rey pats the hump in the middle of the back seats, and flashes him a cheeky smile.

 

But then both Finn and even Rose chime in from the front. And they take Poe’s side. And while, sure, it might make more sense for her to sit in the middle seat, Rey can’t imagine anything worse right now. But she’s sick of arguing. So she unbuckles. Then slides over, careful not to touch him, though she can feel the heat radiating off him. 

 

“Thank you, Rey,” Rose says politely, giving her a kind smile and wink through the rear-view mirror. “Everyone okay now? It’s doughnut day. There should be no fighting on doughnut day.”

 

It’s Thursday. Thursday is doughnut day. Thursday is also team meeting day—which takes up approximately two hours of their morning work time—so the doughnuts come at a price.

 

Rey lists the name of every doughnut she can remember. Chocolate. Glazed. Sprinkled. Jelly-filled. She thinks there’s one called a crueler? A crawler? She pulls out her phone to google it, then just finds herself looking through pages and pages of doughnut pictures.

 

She’ll do anything, anything to keep her mind occupied so she doesn’t remember that she’s a mere inch away from Ben Solo. The closest they've probably ever been. But all the talk of cream-filled long johns and doughnut holes starts to turn her on a little bit (par for the course when she thinks about doughnuts, to be fair) so she has to lock her phone and shut her eyes.

 

She takes an experimental deep breath, just to see if she can get a read on him. 

 

And he’s…there. He’s there for sure, but a very muted version of him. Like sniffing a sweatshirt to figure out if it was worn or not, and catching a hint of perfume. 

 

And then his scent suddenly gets slightly stronger, and she can hear him shifting, leaning towards her.

 

What is he doing?

 

Then she hears a small “sorry,” whispered in her ear, so low that really only she can hear. Her eyes fly open.

 

She can feel his breath gently caress her temple, and she knows she would bump into his nose if she turned there face towards him even slightly. So she stays still, and wills herself to respond to him.

 

“What for?” She tries to ask casually, but her voice cracks like a fourteen year old boy. She winces, and hopes he doesn’t notice her face burning red.

 

“If I weren’t here you wouldn’t have to sit in the middle. It’s probably uncomfortable. And there’s no seatbelt. Which is dangerous.”

 

Her body preens at him showing the slightest bit of concern for her. 

 

She hates this. She hates him. Why did her Omega have to show interest in this Alpha in particular? Isn’t she allowed to have one uncomplicated thing in her life?

 

“I’m fine,” she says dismissively. 

 

And as soon as she says it, Rose slams on the breaks and Rey lurches forward. She probably would have fallen face first into the center console had a large arm not thrown itself across her chest to stop her. 

 

Rey breaks her promise to herself and finally looks up at the man who the arm is attached to. His gaze is intense and concerned and he lets out a small sigh. His expressive, brandy eyes leave hers and shift their gaze to his arm. She glances down to see both of her hands gripping him like a vice. She loosens her grip, flexing her fingers, and balls them into fists, trying to hide how shaky they are. She keeps the fists planted on his arm, though, unable to give him up just yet--using him as a security blanket of sorts.

 

“Sorry, everyone! That cat came out of nowhere!” Rose apologizes, a little out of breath. A small argument breaks out between Rose, Finn, and Poe about how far the cat was from the car, but Rey can’t hear them over the sound of the blood rushing in her ears. 

 

Ben gives her a small, comforting nod, as if to reassure her she’s okay. And she is okay. She feels more than okay, really. She feels safe. She feels calm. Disgustingly calm.

 

She nods back, and he slowly extracts his arm from her. She has to suppress a weak little whine at the loss of contact.

 

He straightens out his coat, then pulls his briefcase from his side onto his lap, keeping a tight grip on it. He seems to fold in on himself as he stares out the window, practically burying his face in his coat collar.

 

She wonders what he’s thinking about. And then wonders why she would even wonder that. 

 

She clears her throat, readjusts herself in her non-seat, and tries to shake whatever the fuck just happened between her and Ben Solo out of her head. She briefly catches a quick look and raised eyebrow from Rose in the rearview mirror. She wonders how much the other woman witnessed of their brief exchange.

 

Rey doesn’t acknowledge the other woman, and tries to think about nothing but the doughnuts she’s going to smash for the rest of the car ride.

 

* * * * *

 

The Thursday meeting starts off as it normally does.

 

The team gathers in the conference room, which feels quite like being trapped in a fishbowl with its glass walls and seaweed-colored chairs.

 

She sits next to Finn at the middle of the large, oval table, and they watch Poe from across the room as he tries to chat up Kaydel. 

 

Ben shows up a bit later then everyone, arms stuffed full of folders and hand-outs that he proceeds to pass out.

 

Rey pretends to be much too deep into her conversation with Finn to even notice Ben's big arm come between them to place a pamphlet in front of her. (And she definitely doesn't think about how how that arm protected her this morning).

 

Then they wait and wait and wait for Luke to finally mosey his way in, only to listen to his low-energy greeting, and company updates.

 

Jessica and Jannah both give presentations on the company’s progress from last year and upcoming projects. And while Rey likes them a lot, she struggles to keep her eyes open during their Powerpoints.

 

She perks up when Luke gets up to give his final comments, and moves to the edge of her chair, ready to race to the break room. But then Ben interrupts Luke.

 

“Actually, I have something else to add.” He gets up and stands next to his uncle. Luke looks annoyed, but relents and sits back down. There’s an audible sigh among her coworkers, as Ben turns the monitor back on, and pulls out a flash drive.  

 

Ben pulls up a neat, organized Powerpoint which is filled with slides on what their competitors are doing, and how it is so better than what they are doing. She rolls her eyes throughout most of it, not that it's anything she didn't know. But then he gets to the last slide, and her stomach drops. 

 

“So, this brings me to my last few points, which were brought to my attention through a proposal sent to management by Miss Johnson yesterday. She suggests—"

 

“Ben,” Luke cuts him off, and it sounds like a warning. Ben looks over at him, mouth tight and determined, then shifts his gaze and zeroes in on Rey.

 

“Actually, Miss Johnson, would you like to tell us about your proposal?” He asks, he gestures to the empty space next to him.

 

“I—"

 

“Rey,” this time, Luke cuts Rey off. “I believe I gave my answer yesterday. Your proposal was well done, I applaud your hard work, but Resistance just doesn’t have the budget or manpower.”

 

“But we could if—" Ben starts.

 

“I rejected this proposal yesterday,” Luke says with finality. Suddenly Rey is painfully aware that her coworkers are witnessing this awful exchange. Every eye in there is pinning her to this uncomfortable, green chair. She wants to vomit. “I suggest we all stretch our legs and get a doughnut before getting back to work.” 

 

Luke shoots Ben a look as he stands to leave. Everyone follows suit, shuffling out of the fishbowl.

 

Normally, Rey would too.

 

Normally, she would push past her coworkers to get to the Boston Creams before anyone else did. 

 

Normally, she would eat one really quickly, then go back and sneak second one to eat after lunch.

 

Normally, Rey would try and get back to work as soon as possible.

 

But this time, she stays. Partially because she has something to say to Ben, and partially because she isn’t totally sure she’s not been completely paralyzed by what just happened.

 

Ben shuts down the Powerpoint, then begins cleaning up the miscellaneous materials and hand-outs cluttering the conference room. He doesn’t look at her until the door clicks shut. Every person has left the room, and it’s just the two of them.

 

“Why did you do that?” She asks finally, and she’s surprised at how steady it comes out. She doesn’t feel steady. She feels like she’s vibrating. Whether that is because she’s about to burst into tears or burst out in anger, she isn’t sure yet. She stays pined to the chair, staring at her clasped hands on the conference table. 

 

“I thought it would help if others could see your ideas. I’ve been working on some of my own, and I was going to present this eventually anyway, and when I saw your proposal yesterday it felt like the missing link. So I made this up last night.” He speaks with eagerness and passion, which might’ve made her feel good, had she not been so angry.

 

“I thought I told you that I didn’t need your help.”

 

“You did, but—"

 

She explodes.

 

“But nothing! You had no right to bring me into this! Luke probably thinks we are planning a coup or something! I’m probably going to get fired!” 

 

Oh god. She finally regains control of her limbs and jumps from her chair, her palm clasping her forehead, as if to keep her head from literally exploding. She paces. He watches her, but doesn’t approach.

 

“You aren’t going to get fired.” 

 

“You don’t know that!”

 

“Luke’s a fool, but he’s not fool enough to fire you.”

 

“He’s not a fool!”

 

“He is,” he says matter-of-factly. He’s not yelling back. That only spikes her anger more. Why isn’t he yelling back?

 

“Why are you always such an asshole to him?”

 

“Why are you always so quick to defend him? He’s a hack.”

 

“He’s not a hack, he’s a legend in this industry! Not to mention he’s the first person to ever give me a chance!”

 

“He’s going to run this place into the ground. My mother brought me in to prevent exactly that, and your ideas in cohesion with mine would solve a lot of the current problems that he’s caused!”

 

She didn’t realize they got so close to each other until she felt his breath blow directly on her face for the second time today. His scent is heightened to a degree that she can smell him—really smell him—and it’s tinged with the bitterness of anger, and something else that she can’t quite place.

 

He pushes his glasses up his nose with his index finger, and that sends an unexpected spike of arousal through her core. His head lowers, his lips part, and she thinks he’s going to say something—or even kiss her—but then there’s a tap on the glass wall. 

 

Like shrapnel, they jump apart, and look to see who interrupted them. 

 

It’s Rose. 

 

And she’s holding a notebook that to the glass, pointing at it vigorously.

 

EVERYONE CAN HEAR YOU! is written on it in thick, black marker.

 

Rose flips the page to reveal another note saying REY, COME SEE ME.

 

Rey storms out of the conference room without looking back.

 

Rose leads her to her closet of an office in the annex, and motions for her to sit in the flimsy looking chair jammed in the corner. 

 

“What was going on in there?” Rose asks, her voice is steady, patient, and professional. 

 

“We just…had a disagreement.” Rey tries to shrug casually, as though nothing just happened. 

 

“A loud disagreement.”

 

Rey stares at her shoes, unable to face the scrutiny in her friend’s eyes.

 

“You know, as the HR representative, I should really make a report of this. But I won’t unless you want me to. Do you want me to?” 

 

“No,” Rey says quietly.

 

“I’ll have to ask him the same question later, though I’m sure he’ll say the same thing.”

 

Rey rolls her eyes and sinks into the chair. 

 

“What is with you two? I can’t get a read on your…relationship.”

 

“Ben Solo and I do not have anything resembling a relationship.”

 

Rose purses her lips and raises her brows, but doesn't push that narrative further.

 

“Can I ask what your issue with him is, then?”

 

“Are you asking me as my friend, or as my HR rep?”

 

“As your friend.”

 

“Ever since he came to Resistance, he’s done everything in his power to undermine Luke, and he questions Leia at every turn. He shows a lack of respect for his subordinates and coworkers, and thinks his is the word of God.” Rey takes a breath from her rant. “And he got me kicked off the Death Star project.”

 

“You did not want to be a part of that shit show anyway. Trust me.” Rose does a little laugh, like the notion that Rey would want to be a part of one of the most profitable projects the company has ever done is completely ridiculous. 

 

Rey wants to scream. Everyone kept telling her she dodged a bullet after the project was finished, but it didn’t make her feel any better. She would have liked to have been the one to decide what she did and did not want to be a part of. She didn’t need some asshole Alpha making those calls for her.

 

“Well he’s a dickhead to everyone—"

 

“No, he’s not,” Rose interrupts, her words clipped and short, like she’s annoyed with her.

 

“Yes he is!”

 

“Maybe when he first came to the company, but everyone is pretty on board with him now. Except for you.”

 

“I just saw him raking Snap over the coals for no reason yesterday!”

 

“That was not for no reason, Rey.” Rose leans forward and lowers her voice. “Between you and me, Snap nearly lost one of our biggest accounts over a very stupid mistake. I’m not condoning Ben berating Snap in front of other people—that was unprofessional. But I’m also not going to defend Snap when he probably should have been fired.”

 

Rey can’t conjure a response to that, so Rose continues.

 

“Honestly, Rey, he’s been nothing but civil—and dare I go so far as to even say nice—and you’re always so ready to attack him. I don’t get it.”

 

“He’s only nice to you because you’re an Alpha.” Rey can’t help but immediately cringe at how this sounds coming out of her mouth. Like a petulant, jealous child. 

 

Rose sighs, almost looking defeated. Rey never really had a mother, but she’s watched enough movies about mothers and daughters to know this is the patented look of disappointment. 

 

“No, Rey, he’s nice to me because I’m nice to him. You should try it.” 

 

Rose shakes her head, like a disapproving mother, and pivots in her chair towards her computer, silently dismissing her. Any witty remark or comeback Rey could possible have falls short on her lips.

 

Fuck.

 

She suddenly feels cold, the adrenaline from her anger suddenly leaving her.

 

Rey walks herself back to her desk, trying to ignore the wary glances of her coworkers as she passes by. She’s reminded of the time she had to walk back to class from the headmaster’s office in primary school. They were studying dinosaurs, and she’d punched Dryden Voss in the face for saying the buns in her hair resembled a stegosaurus. It was a slight overreaction on her part, but he had it coming. 

 

The conference room is dark, Ben’s office door is closed and shuttered, and the office feels quiet in a way that makes Rey’s skin itch. 

 

To make things worse, the Boston creams are gone, and there’s only one doughnut remaining: a soggy, sad-looking glazed. 

 

She eats it anyway.

 

But she doesn’t enjoy it.

Chapter Text

Nothing in Rey Johnson’s life has been easy.

 

She was born to a pair of alcoholics, who seemed to forget they had a daughter for the first few years of her life.

 

She was abandoned in the parking lot of a B&Q somewhere in Sheffield when she was around five years old. She has a vague memory of sitting in a cold, metal trolley in the dark, until an employee found her.

 

She spent the next ten years going from one foster home to another. 

 

Then she ended up at Plutt’s at fifteen—the same year she presented as an Omega. 

 

Her mother was a Beta, she knew that much. She remembers very little about her, only that she cried a lot. She tried to find her a few times as a teenager, but the woman, quite simply, did not want to be found.


Her father left her a surname, and not much else. But records suggest he was an Alpha—or at least came from a long line of them.

 

It was a hard pill to swallow, being an Omega. Literally and figuratively. It was mandated that she either get on suppressants and low-dose blockers if she wanted to attend a secondary school, otherwise she would have to go to a public all-Omega’s school. Plutt wasn’t about to put her in an expensive Omega only school, so she had no choice but to take the drugs. And she hated it. And hated him even more for it. 

 

She moved out practically the very day she turned eighteen. She changed her name soon after. She went from Rachel to just Rey—that’s what everyone has always called her anyway— and she chose Johnson as her new surname, after one of her favorite writers, whose stories of hope and redemption got her through her formative years. 

 

Despite her difficult upbringing, she always made sure to maintain excellent grades. She spent the majority of her time at the public library—mostly because she would’ve rather been there than at any of her foster homes. And she didn’t have much of a social life, due to her natural independence and acute inability to make friends.

 

And when it came time to go to university, she had no problem fleeing across the pond, as she had no family or connections she cared to keep in England. She found herself in the middle of the U.S. at Chandrila University. 

 

Things began to look up for her there. She met Finn, whose persistence and good nature turned him into a fast friend. Her only friend, really. The last friend she could remember having was back in primary school, and the girl had moved away when they were in year five, and Rey just never bothered to make another one.

 

Through Finn, her world grew a bit more. He introduced her to Poe, which she is still unsure whether or not she can really count as a good thing. Although he helped her get an internship and Finn a position at Resistance Technologies. And it was there that met Rose. And Luke Skywalker.

 

Luke is a legend in the tech industry. Everyone knows his name, knows his contributions to the field. Without Luke, there would be no Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Elon Musk. Throughout her internship, she tried her hardest to get Luke’s attention and begged him for guidance. She finally broke him down enough to get something resembling a mentorship, and he showed her the ropes.

 

When it came time to graduate, she was already offered a position. Never had anything come to her so easily. 

 

It was her dream job. Still is. Though she has to remind herself of that on the more difficult days.

 

And it was smooth-sailing for years. She was settled. She had friends. She was happy. And she should’ve known that wasn’t going to last.

 

Because then Ben Solo showed up and ruined everything.

 

Ben Solo with his fancy degree from MIT, and his family legacy, and his overwhelming Alpha presence.

 

Suddenly, going to work had an added tinge of anxiety. Suddenly, she was constantly reminded of her status as an Omega. Suddenly, her friends were treating her like a feral cat again—much like they all did when they first met her—afraid that she might run or lash out if they said or did the wrong thing.

 

Suddenly she was made aware, again, that she was a nobody from nowhere, and maybe, just maybe she didn’t deserve this job or these friends or this life.

 

She knows, of course, this is not all Ben Solo’s fault. But he was the catalyst to a series of incredibly inconvenient disruptions to her life, and she couldn’t help but hate him for it.

 

She mulls these thoughts over at her desk, where she remains for the rest of the day. She eats her lunch in her cubicle, alone, intent on avoiding any questions or comments from her coworkers. She spares herself only one bathroom break when she hears that Leia has come into the office, and she’s sure Ben is occupied in a meeting with his mother.

 

She decides not to think anymore about him, or her gossipy coworkers, or what Rose said, and focuses solely on work for the next few hours.

 

What she definitely doesn’t do is look at her project proposal and make a few changes. Changes that definitely weren’t inspired by Ben’s proposal. And 


No. She doesn’t do that. She’s very busy with other very important work, thank you very much.

 

She stands up to stretch after hours of slouching over her computer, and noticed that the office has darkened, and people are slowly trickling out.

 

“Come on, Rey, we’re heading out,” the group says as they approach her cubicle. She sighs and begins to gather her things when she notices someone is missing.

 

“Is Ben…?”

 

“He said he’ll find a different ride again,” Rose answers. 

 

“I can’t imagine why,” Poe’s voice is dripping with sarcasm, and he throws her an accusatory look.

 

Rey’s eyes flick over to Ben’s closed office door, and the dim yellow light peeking through the crack under it, and through the window blinds. 

 

“You lot go on without me, I’ll be down in a few. I just need to…grab something.”

 

“Don’t take forever this time,” Poe mutters, following Rose and Finn to the lift.

 

As soon as she sees them disappear behind the doors of the lift, she makes her way across the nearly-empty office.

 

She talks herself in and out of it at least a hundred times before she finally builds the courage to knock on Ben’s door.

 

She hears a muted “yes?” from the other side, and steps in. She’s hit with a waft of his scent, and she thinks that she would for sure be weak in the knees had she not taken that blocker this morning.

 

The moment she’s through the door, she makes direct eye contact with him. And she can’t help but think he looks a little pained by her presence. Like a guilty child, sitting there behind a big mahogany desk, waiting for a scolding. 

 

She stands in front of him, his desk serving as a barrier, hands on hips, waiting for the reason she walked in here to come to her. She looks around a bit, surprised at the simplicity of the decor. She’s never been in here before—never had a reason to be. There are two modernist chairs situated in front of his desk. A coatrack stands next to the door, where his wool coat and scarf hang. A filing cabinet sits behind him, and there’s a bookshelf tucked in the corner. She tries to distract herself by skimming the titles—surprised to see a few familiar faces—before he clearly can’t stand the discomfort of her standing there for much longer.

 

“Rey—" he starts.

 

“I need to say something,” she interrupts.

 

“Okay.” 

 

“I…I’m sorry for being so short with you earlier.”

 

He blanches, a twist of confusion morphing his features.

 

“In the conference room…”

 

“I remember.”

 

“Right. Yeah. It was…unprofessional. And I’m sorry.”

 

He opens his mouth, but she interrupts again, holding up a finger to silence him.

 

But I’m not sorry for being upset about what you did. For putting me on the spot like that. That was wrong of you.”

 

He considers her, his face softening and his eyes roaming around up and down her form—not salaciously, though. More like he’s studying her, trying to figure something out. 

 

“That’s fair,” he finally says. “I’m sorry for putting you on the spot. For embarrassing you.”

 


This time, she tries to say something, but he stops her short.

 


“But I’m not sorry for trying to showcase your talent.”

 

She can’t help but smile at that, though she tries to wipe it off her face as best she can. She can’t let him think she’s just magically okay with what he did. So she gives him a curt, satisfied nod. 

 

“Okay. Great. Truce, then?” Rey juts her hand out across his desk.

 

He stares at it for just a little too long, not budging, and she begins to question herself. But when she starts to pull back, he grabs her, and envelops her hand in his own. And it’s warm. And surprisingly soft. And huge. And she’s reminded of this morning, when that same hand protected her, and she feels that same sense of comfort now that she did then.

 

His thumb moves to her wrist, tenderly stroking the scent gland there. A shiver runs up her spine, and she can’t suppress it. His eyes are still on hers, and they are so gentle, innocent that she thinks maybe he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Like it’s instinctual. And she can’t look away from him, like something ancient and powerful is holding her there. Her brain feels like it’s turned to putty in her skull, and she has a hard time forming a coherent thought.

 

The sound of the copier running booms from the supply room across the hall, reminding Rey of where they are, and the fact that his office door is very much wide open, and they are very much not the only two people in the office.

 

“So, uh, are you catching a ride with us?” She asks, finally, gently pulling her hand back to her side.

 

Ben shakes his head, as if to clear it, and flexes his hand a few times before picking up a pen and writing nothing.

 

“N—no. I have some things to finish.”

 

“No you don’t.”

 

“How would you—”

 

“Pack your things,” she demands, moving over to his coatrack. 

 

“Rey—"

 

She grabs his coat and scarf and—oh. They smell good. Really good.

 

She moves back to his desk, and fully intends to just hand him his things, but then she pulls his coat up to her face and takes a deep breath, filling her nose and lungs and body with his scent. It’s the strongest she’s smelled him in days and she thinks that maybe she’s missed the way he smells. But that could just be her instincts talking.

 

But the feeling of euphoria is short-lived, and she wants to lay down and die when she lowers her eyes to the man sitting at his desk. The man who definitely just witnessed her trying to inhale his clothing. His brows are knit, and his mouth is parted, jaw a bit slack, and he’s clearly so confused. And maybe even a bit disturbed by it—and she can’t blame him. She lets his stuff go like it’s on fire, and it all falls across his desk.

 

“Just. Please. Just come with us,” she spits out, remembering why she came in here.

 

“I really—"

 

“I need you to.” His whole demeanor changes just then, opening up. His chest seems to get bigger, and his eyes brighter, and his scent spikes just the tiniest bit.

 

“Otherwise my friends are going to stay mad at me,” she adds, though she doesn’t know why. She doesn’t want to sound too needy. Not to him.

 

“Oh,” is all he says. And he sounds a little…disappointed? Sad? She tries not to dwell on it.

 

He chews on his plush bottom lip and sighs. Then he accepts defeat, pulling his stuff on. He shuts his laptop down, pulls his briefcase out, and begins to pack his things.

 

He stays silent as he pushes in his chair, and shuffles her out of the office, locking the door behind them.

 

He says silent during the lift ride down.

 

And he stays silent as they walk into the parking garage 

 

And really, what more could she expect from him? She knew he could be loud at times—when he was particularly angry or passionate about something—but chatty he was not.

 

Still, though, she is satisfied. And she can’t help but feel like one of those big game hunting assholes—presenting him like a trophy—as they walk to the car, her friends gaping at the pair of them through the windows. Rose in particular, can’t keep her eyes off Rey, and she knows the other woman is itching with questions. 

 

But none of them mention it when the both slide into the back—even Poe, who for once in his life shows some tact—and everyone just sits there, pretending like absolutely nothing weird happened today.

 

Ben keeps up his silent charade throughout most of the car ride. Though to be fair, no one else is really talking either. He engages a little with Finn, but there’s a thick sense of confusion and discomfort in the car that doesn’t leave room for much conversation.

 

He does whisper a goodbye to her, before she and Poe depart at their building, and she has to pretend like it doesn’t send a little thrill through her. She feels a little high, to be honest, though she can’t begin to explain why.

 

She’s not even mad when Poe texts the group chat later and says that Ben got his car back, and wants to drive them tomorrow to repay them for the rides. She thinks it’s fine. Everything is going to be fine. Just one more day.

 

* * * * *

 

When Friday morning arrives, Rey accidentally sleeps through her alarm, and wakes with weary, achy bones. But her mind is at ease in a way it hasn't been for the last few days.

 

After today, Ben Solo won’t be in the carpool anymore, and she won’t have to worry about taking a stupid blocker, or being smashed in an overcrowded car, or fighting with her friends. And maybe they’ll even get along from now on. Friends would be pushing it, but maybe she can work with him without feeling an overwhelming sense of animosity.

 

No, today was going to be a good day. It’s a Friday, and they have a long weekend, which means she’ll have three whole days to recover from the bullshit that was this week.

 

She dresses quickly, and throws her hair in a little half-up half-down do, and rushes outside to meet Poe at their usual spot. 

 

“You sick or something?” He asks, practically the second she arrives.

 

“What?”

 

“You’re never this late. And you look all flushed and shit.”

 

“I slept through my alarm. And it’s fifteen degrees out. Of course I look all flushed and shit.”

 

“Whaaatever.” He eyes her skeptically, but doesn’t push his luck.

 

A black car pulls up a few minutes later, and Rey recognizes it as Ben’s. She’s noticed it in the parking lot before—anyone who knows cars would. It’s a Falcon X, which is one of the nicest smart cars on the market right now. And one of the most expensive. Normally she might scoff at how fucking pretentious it is, and how typical it is of someone in the tech industry to own one, but holy shit she would give her left tit to have one herself.

 

Poe opens the passenger side door, but then she hears Ben tell him to get in the back. He turns and rolls his eyes at her, before popping open the back door and squishing in next to Rose and Finn.

 

Rey slides into the Falcon’s passenger seat, and she thinks that maybe this is what heaven is. It’s black and sleek, and the seats are so soft and smooth. She runs her hand across the dashboard and the glove compartment. And the touchscreen display...damn...maybe she’d give her right tit, too.

 

And the smell. It smells so good. Not at all like cheap coconut air fresheners in Poe's car. It smells like leather and plastic and him. She’s so giddy with excitement from being in the car that she almost forgets there are other people in there with her.

 

One of whom is Ben, who is staring at her like she’s just put a muddy boot on his nice, clean dashboard. 

 

What the hell?

 

She’s literally been in this car for thirty seconds, and he’s already pissed about something.

 

She thought they were okay. What happened to their truce yesterday?

 

Poe whistles for attention and says, “hey man, we gonna go or what?” 

 

Ben’s eye twitches, and his lips mash together, clearly conflicted about something. But he ultimately decides to put the car in drive and go.

 

He’s eerily silent the whole way to work. He doesn't even respond when Poe compliments the car, and Rose or Finn ask him a question about one of their clients. His face is dark and clouded, and he’s got a death grip on the wheel. It’s like he’s annoyed they’re here. Touching his precious car. Of course he's one of those assholes who is so anal about his car. Why volunteer to drive them, then?

 

She swears there's a pressure change in the car when they finally pull into a parking spot. She hears sighs of relief from the back seat, and the trio in the back scatters out of the car. She’s never seen them move so quickly. They're even faster than the time they had to run from the cops after an accidental trespassing incident at the Chili's in Akron. 

 

Rey unbuckles her seatbelt and tries to get out too, but as soon as she opens the passenger side door, it’s being closed in her face. Ben is leaning over her, large hand still on the handle. His hair—his luscious hair—is mere inches away from her nose. She looks out the window and sees Rose standing there, brows knit, wondering what’s going on. Rey nods, assuring her everything is okay, and Rose follows the boys.

 

Ben’s finger clicks the lock, then finally looks up at her. And holy shit Rey feels like she’s going to melt from his look.

 

“Your heat,” he says simply, as if that explains anything.

 

“My heat? What about my heat?”

 

“It’s coming.”

 

“It’s not due for another month,” she informs him, not that it’s any of his business. 

 

“Maybe it’s not supposed to be here until next month. But it’s coming. And soon. I can smell it.”

 

“You’re mental. There’s no way. I’m on suppressants. On top of that, I’ve been taking blockers these last few days!” Rey says, as she attempts to open the door again. He grabs her hands and holds the door shut, though he doesn’t put much force into it.

 

“So have I. Strong ones, too. Which is exactly why I’m taking you home.”

 

“No, you aren’t.” She half-heartedly struggles against him, but he’s like a goddamn boulder, and no matter how many push ups she does, she's not going to move him.

 

“Rey,” he says, so sternly, so Alpha, she stops struggling. “Please.” It's a whisper. A shot of heat jolts through her core, and his nostrils flare.

 

She allows herself to breathe him in—a mistake. A huge mistake. Because she can’t help but grab his head and run her hands through his hair—something she’s been wanting to do since the moment they met, if she's being honest. And he practically lunges for her neck, breathing her in, gently kissing her. His lips touch the edge of her gland and she’s moaning, she knows she’s moaning but she can’t find it in herself to care. Or to stop. His lips, his scent, everything is so overwhelming. 

 

She opens her eyes, so briefly, but it's long enough to make eye contact with a scandalized random passerby through the window. 

 

“Ben,” she says, tapping on his head. He grunts. She repeats his name, but he keeps suckling at her neck. His hands keep roaming around her shoulders and arms and thighs. She finally she pulls his head up by his beautiful hair. And when he meets her eyes, she's more than a little proud at how glazed over his look. How his pupils are completely blown. 

 

“We need to stop. We’re in public.” He still doesn’t quite understand. “We’re in public, Ben,” she begins to stroke his face. Then he comes back to himself all at once, throwing himself back in the driver’s seat.

 

They sit in almost-silence for a few minutes, the only sound coming from either of them are heavy breaths.

 

And finally Rey says “fine.”

 

He looks at her with a question in his eyes.

 

”You can drive me back home.”

 

They don’t talk the entire way back to her apartment. He’s not all brooding and dark like he was before, but instead looks a bit nervous. Like he wants to talk to her, but doesn’t know what to say. She's sure she looks quite the same.

 

She thinks about what she’s going to say to him once they arrive. And she can only come up with one thing, because she’s nervous, and she's not sure what his agenda is.

 

“I’m not going to have sex with you,” she says when he parks in front of her building. He looks over at her and she’s relieved to see he’s not mad. But his face is completely neutral, emotionless, which is almost a worse reaction.

 

“I didn’t expect you to,” he says quietly, his focus solely on the shiny Falcon logo on the steering wheel. 

 

“My neck says otherwise,” she scoffs, pulling her hair up, revealing budding hickeys all across her neck. His eyes flick over to look at his work, but quickly cut back to the wheel in shame.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be.”

 

Silence. Deafening silence.

 

“So—"

 

“I’m only doing this—taking the day off—to get you off my ass. I’m not in the mood for your macho Alpha bullshit today. And, I actually have a lot I can do from home, and a few vacation days saved up. So it’s like, not a big deal.”

 

“…Do you have something…someone…” he tries, his hands gripping the steering wheel so tight she can see the whites of his knuckles. She knows what he’s trying to ask.

 

“Don’t worry about me.”

 

That seems to hurt him. She can see it in the way he deflates. She can smell it, too, through these fucking cheap-ass blockers.

 

“Okay,” he’s nodding to himself, and still won’t look at her.

 

“Okay,” she says. “See you.” She pulls herself out of the buttery leather seat. 

 

It isn’t until she’s up and out of the car and feels the chilly wind on her ass, that she knows she’s wet. Very wet. So wet she’s soaked through her undies and skirt. She looks down at his seat and sees she’s left a definite stain of moisture left there. 

 

She looks at him, he looks at her, and she quickly slams the door and runs into her building in embarrassment. 

 

She can never see Ben Solo again. It’s official. Never again. She has to quit her job. She has to move. 

 

She hates him.

 

And she hates him even more when she wakes up at three in the morning to the most intense cramps she’s ever had. 

Chapter Text

Rey had always had the same routine for her heats.

 

The second she felt that lick of heat in her core she would take a cold bath, and just lay in the water for hours until she resembled a fleshy raisin. 

 

Then she’d pop a painkiller, make sure the batteries in her vibrator weren’t dead, and organize her bedroom a little—just to make sure it would be comfortable and safe for the next few days.

 

The rest of her heat was dedicated to maintaining her hydration levels, eating a balanced diet, along with frequent and furious masturbation.

 

The pain would ebb and flow, but it wasn’t anything too difficult to endure. She’d certainly endured worse.

 

But her heat was all very clinical and matter-of-fact to her. Just something she had to get through. Just another shitty, inconvenient part of being an Omega.

 

The routine got a bit more strenuous after she was exposed to Ben Solo five days a week. And she had to add a high-strength painkiller—made specifically for Omegas in heat—into her routine, just to get through the first few days. 

 

She pops one of those very same painkillers as soon as her heat cramps so rudely wake her up early Friday morning. 

 

But it does nothing. It wears off after an hour and a half, and she’s back in the same painful position she started in.

 

She tries a bath, but it feels like submerging into a vat of needles, and it makes her skin hurt and itch, and so she just lays on the bathroom floor for a while instead.

 

She tries to eat, but nothing will go down.

 

She tries to drink, but she just ends up puking the water up.

 

And the satisfaction of masturbation is fleeting and futile. 

 

Nothing is working.  

 

She tries to just sleep it off. But she just sweats through her sheets, and spends an hour rolling and writhing in frustration.

 

Just as she’s finished screaming into her pillow, she hears her phone buzz. 

 

She considers ignoring it. But it could be important. Or, at the very least, a good distraction from her current predicament.

 

She takes a deep breath before hauling herself out of her bed to her dresser.

 

< Are you okay? >

 

The text is from a number not saved in her contacts, but she knows who it is.

 

She tosses her phone back on the dresser and slides to the floor. The nice, cool, hardwood floor. She lays there until the floorboards feel too hot. 

 

She sits up and reaches for her phone again.

 

6:30am.

 

Did he really text her at 6:30am to see if she’s okay? No, he probably just wanted to see if he was right about her. He loves being right. The prick.

 

And so she decides to respond.

 

< Perfectly fine. >

 

His response his quick.

 

< Really? >

 

< Yep. Just got a little cold. >

 

< A cold. Really, Rey? >

 

< Yes. Now go spend your Saturday doing something productive instead of harassing me. >

 

She throws her phone back onto the dresser, cursing his name. And then pulls her vibrator out of the top drawer. She works herself for minutes and minutes but nothing happens. Nothing eases that fire. 

 

Nothing, nothing, nothing.

 

She thinks she may go completely mental from this. She thinks it might last forever this time. She’s going to be stuck like this until she’s dead In heat. In pain. Alone.

 

But she knows how she can get it all to stop. And she's never been more desperate than she is now.

 

And so she sends one more text.

 

< Come over. >

 

Ten minutes go by, and there’s no response. Maybe he went to sleep. Or maybe he took her advice and actually went to do something productive with his day. Surely he wasn't sitting around waiting for her to respond. Not like she is right now. 

 

Another ten pass, and then she starts to worry. Or at least the Omega part of her does.

 

He’s still mad at me.

 

He doesn’t want to help me.

 

He’s doesn’t want me.

 

She starts to cry. Which is stupid, because she shouldn’t be upset that a man she doesn’t even like doesn’t want to help her through her heat. Not that he really even knows that’s what she was asking for, since she just straight-up lied to him.

 

She pulls the white top sheet off her bed and wraps herself in it, suddenly breaking out in a cold sweat. She lays on the floor for God knows how long, crying and shivering, until she hears a noise at her front door.

 

Her bones ache and she groans as she pushes herself off the floor. She looks at her pile of clothes stacked on a chair in the corner and considers putting something on to answer the door, but her heat-addled brain decides the sheet will do just fine.

 

The gentle knock that quickly turns into a frantic knock. Rey slowly makes her way to the to the door, her legs feeling like jelly. 

 

“Rey!” Someone yells her name from the other side of the door. It sounds so far away. Like she’s underwater.  And yet her body has a visceral response to it. The cold sweat ebbs and the fire returns to her core.

 

And then she processes the scent coming from the hallway. 

 

Even through the thick door and walls his scent is stifling. 

 

There’s a voice in the back of her brain telling her to be annoyed at him. For being here, even though she asked. For catching her in a lie. But her Omega’s voice is much, much louder right now. And so she unbolts the door with sweaty, shaky hands.

 

And then he’s standing there, filling up the doorway wrapped in his jacket, in a dark sweater and a pair of jeans.

 

He’s got his glasses on. 

 

God she loves those glasses.

 

He’s huge. Did he get bigger? His chest, his big, big chest, is heaving in and out so deeply, like maybe he ran all the way here. His pupils are blown, and his nostrils are flared. 

 

“You lied,” he says, his voice sounds gravelly. He doesn’t sound upset, though. No. He sounds pleased. 

 

A dribble of slick trails down her leg. His eyes dart down to watch it, a little transfixed.

 

“Yes,” she admits in a breath.

 

“That was…not wise of you.”

 

“No,” she agrees, though she doesn’t really mean it. Not while she’s standing here, staring at him in her doorway. This big, strong Alpha. It’s like she ordered him online and he’s been expedited directly to her door to help her through this.

 

“No,” he repeats her, shaking his head a little. 

 

She moves forward. To touch him. She just wants to touch him. To be close. To smell him better. But he holds her back for a moment, waiting for her to say something. To give permission. 

 

Rey takes a step back, a futile attempt to try to get a fresh breath of air, a last ditch attempt at sanity. But she just smells him.

 

“Tell me what you want,” he says.

 

“You know,” she squeaks out, her voice dry.

 

“I don’t. I never know what you want. I need you to say it.”

 

“Fuck me,” she whispers.

 

“A little louder—”

 

“I said, fuck me!”

 

He smirks, taking a moment to relish in some sort of victory. 

 

Then, for good measure she adds: “Alpha.”

 

That seems to do the trick. He pulls her to his chest, and holds her tightly to him. She hears him breathing deeply through his nose. She decides she really likes that noise. Loves it. She loves the way he’s nuzzling her face, her neck, inhaling her scent, nipping at the small bruises he left the day before. He must not be completely disgusted by her smell like she thought, because he seems like he can't get enough of her. But it could just be the smell of her heat confusing him.

 

He kicks the door closed with his foot, then picks her up and throws her over his shoulder, hauling her to the couch. He lays her across it and rips the sheet off her body. 

 

He looks her up and down, as if he’s trying to decide which part of her he wants to take a bite out of first. In the end, he launches himself onto the couch and goes straight for her stomach. He kisses up her chest, to her tits, paying special attention to her nipples. 

 

She moans, and grabs his hair. God, she loves his hair. He laps at her, then makes his way up to her shoulder, her neck, taking more tiny little bites. 

 

It’s when he moves to her jaw that she freezes. Because she thinks maybe he’s making his way to her mouth, and even through her haze she doesn’t think she can kiss him. Doesn’t think she should kiss him. 

 

So when his lips are on her cheek, nearing the corner of her mouth, she pushes him back, then grabs the hem of his sweater to pull it over his head. He takes the hint, and stands to undress. He starts with his glasses—which she thinks maybe she whimpers when he takes them off—then he pulls his white tee over his head and kicks off his shoes. His pants and briefs soon follow. 

 

Then it’s her turn to look him up and down salaciously.

 

She’d be lying to herself if she said she’d never pictured him naked. Every heat for the past year has been filled with images and fantasies of what she thought he’d look like naked. 

 

The real thing is so much better, though. Much, much better.

 

His skin is pale and smooth, but speckled with a few moles. His arms and legs are thick and strong. A small happy trail from his naval down to his cock. 

 

And that is huge and red and swollen. And, well…it’s the biggest one she’s ever seen. Though, to be fair, she’s only seen a few and they all belonged to Betas.

 

Her inexperience with Alpha men comes crashing down on her, then. She’s never been with one before. Never really wanted to be. Because Alpha men are more than their cocks. They come with their egos and attitudes and thats never been appealing to her.

 

But that means she’s never been knotted. Outside of her sex education class in year seven, and some very questionable designation porn, she doesn’t know shit about what its like to be with an Alpha. And maybe that scares her a little. And maybe it doesn’t help that he’s the Alpha.

 

He must sense her hesitance because he remains standing where he is, looking a little sheepish, not attempting anything more.

 

“Do you want to stop?” He asks, a bit of a grimace on his face.

 

“No,” she protests quickly. Because no. She doesn’t want to stop. She wants this. She needs this. “Just…just lay down.”

 

She stands, and he takes the place she’s just vacated and spreads himself across the couch, sitting upwards up on his elbows.

 

She chews on her lip, looking him over, but carefully avoiding his eyes—which are definitely watching her, warily waiting for her next move.

 

Then she just goes for it, because her body is fucking killing her, and has a mind of its own, and her brain can’t control it anymore.

 

She climbs on him, shoving her knees at either side of his thighs on the couch. She runs her hands down his chest to his stomach. And then without any hesitation, she takes hold of his painfully red cock, lines it up with her slick entrance, then sinks down onto him.

 

And he’s big. She knew that. But when he’s inside her he feels impossibly bigger. He almost feels never-ending, as she slides down on him. And she almost expects it to hurt, but it doesn’t. She’s hot and slick and he slips right in, fitting snugly inside. He’s perfect. 

 

Or, at least his dick is.

 

And Ben—he looks a little confused, a little shell-shocked, but mostly he just looks amazed. With her, maybe. Or maybe he just hasn’t had sex in a long time and anything would blow his mind right now. She wouldn’t know. She doesn’t know anything about his sex life. Which is probably something she should’ve considered before she decided to fuck him, but she can’t find it within herself to care right now.

 

He smooths his hands up her thighs and over her hips, and tries to push her a little, eager to get her to move. But she clasps her hands over his and forces him to stay still while she sets her own pace, grinding hard against him. And all she can think is oh fuck this is good. But she won’t say it out loud. 

 

The room is silent, save for their heavy breaths and the obscene squelching sound of two bodies connecting with each other with copious amounts of slick. And Rey thinks she hears him moaning her name, but he could be muttering anything, really. 

 

He tries a couple times to move his hands, but she won’t allow it. She needs to be in control of this. She needs to keep a semblance of her dignity here. 

 

A semblance of herself. 

 

So she moves his hands for him, keeping her smaller hands clasped over them as they move. On her thighs, her ass, her hips, her tits. Wherever she wants.

 

He seems quite pleased with that last one, though. She knows they’re nothing impressive, but he’s quite keen on squeezing what’s there. He kneads them, and even manages to pinch her nipples when her grip on him goes lax. The moan it elicits is almost humiliating. 

 

With every thrust, she feels the searing heat inside her abate, replaced with a far more pleasurable type of heat. A warm, fuzzy one. One that feels like a firework, as opposed to the actual fires of hell. 

 

When she picks up her pace, he moans in a way she’s never heard a man moan before—guttural and almost distressed—and the sound goes straight to her cunt. She tries to work his length more. She needs to hear more of that moan. She leans forward, seeking more friction, wanting to be closer. And then she starts to crest.

 

When she finally comes, it’s like all the air has left her lungs and she’s floating. She collapses on his chest, her tight heat pulsing around his cock. 

 

He makes sweet little desperate noises, and lets her come down from her high before gripping her behind and pounding into her, seeking his own orgasm.

 

She’s so blissed out she doesn’t even mind him using her. Doesn’t even hear herself beg for him to come inside her. To knot her. She’s even more pleased when she unexpectedly comes for a second time, this time in unison with him, both of them moaning deeply when that first load hits her inner walls. His knot grows, and the sensation is wild and foreign. But it's so welcome, and definitely not as unusual as she thought it would be.

 

This is what you’re body was made for, she has to remind herself. I'm an Omega. He’s an Alpha. This is right.

 

She lays herself down on his chest, both of them sated and sticky and cool with sweat.

 

And maybe it’s because she’s still a little out of her mind, or maybe it’s because she’s just come harder than she ever has in her life, but she’s feeling bold, so she asks:

 

“Why did you have me kicked off the Starkiller Project?” The question comes out a little breathless.

 

Ben tenses beneath her, and lets out a guttural groan as another spurt of come shoots into her.

 

“Are you…are you serious? You want to do this now?” He grunts.

 

She definitely recognizes that maybe this isn’t the best time or place to have this conversation. But it has to be now. Or else she doesn't know if she can continue this with him for the next few days. He is the closest thing to an archenemies she has, after all. People don’t just fuck their enemies, right? Not without a little retribution first. 

 

“Yes.”

 

“I just…I don’t want to argue with you, Rey.”

 

“We won’t argue!" She yells, and he gives her a look, so she looks away from him and calms herself. "Just—please—just tell me.”

 

He sighs deeply. Her head lifts and falls with his chest.

 

“You weren’t right for it,” he finally says. She thinks that’s exactly what he told her back then, too, and she never asked what he meant. She just accepted it, and left work early to go cry in the privacy of her own home. 

 

But today, she asks.

 

“How so?”

 

He doesn’t say anything right away. And in the silence she can practically hear the cogs in his brain trying to sort out his story.

 

“You know that I used to work at First Order Tech, right?”

 

Rey almost scoffs. 

 

Yes, of course she knows that. Everyone knows that. Firs Order Tech is the sworn enemy of Resistance—if tech companies could have sworn enemies, that is. It was yet another reason she was skeptical of him when he first came. He was hot shit over there, and took a major pay and status cut to come to Resistance. How was that not suspicious? She was sure he was some kind of corporate spy until she’d heard about his falling out with his old boss.

 

“Well the head of Starkiller Industries, Krennic, was one of our clients at First Order. I knew what he was like. I knew he’d be extremely difficult to work with. But I also knew I wanted to work with you, so I requested you as my partner, against Luke’s wishes.”

 

She knew the first part. She knew he knew Krennic, and she knew it was the only reason Resistance took on such a risky client. 

 

But she feels paralyzed as she takes in that second bit information. He had requested her to be put on that project. He believed in her. But Luke didn’t. And that stings more than anything.

 

“And after our meeting it was clear we weren’t on the same page. Then after the meeting with Krennic, it was even more clear that you and he would never be on the same page.”

 

“But Krennic never said anything—“

 

“No, he wasn’t going to argue with you. He wanted to fuck you.”

 

“What?” She lifts her head off his chest to look at him, slightly unsettled to see his dark eyes staring so intently at her. 

 

“He was coming onto you that whole meeting. And he wreaked of bad intentions. You couldn’t smell him?”

 

“I could smell him a little…But he didn’t really make an impression, so I didn’t really notice.”

 

“Well, I did. And it…upset me. I didn’t want him to try anything with you.”

 

“So you got me kicked off the project because you were upset the client wanted to fuck me?” She scowls and pins him with a withering stare.

 

“I won’t lie and say that wasn’t a contributing factor, but please don’t confuse the situation. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I knew he would never go with any of your ideas, even though they were good. And I knew he would string us along for months, and make us cater to his every whim, and then never end up using Resistance in the end. Because that’s what he did when I was at First Order. Because he’s obsessed with power and being in control and seeing how he can get people to bend over backwards for him.”

 

“Typical Alpha…” She mutters under her breath.

 

“Definitely. So I thought I’d save everyone some time and money and replace you with someone whose work would be more in line with what Krennic was looking for. Which worked out, in the end, since Finn was apparently an intern at First Order when I was there, and was familiar with Krennic, too. And he produced great work, and Krennic was eventually satisfied, and it didn’t go nearly as bad as it could have.”

 

Rey chews on her bottom lip, unsure of how to respond. A part of her wants to keep arguing. Wants to tell him that that is still unfair. That she never really got a chance. He doesn’t know for sure what would have happened had she stayed on there. But the other part is so sick of being angry about this. The other part understands where he was coming from. 

 

So she just places her head back on his smooth chest and sighs. 

 

He starts to run a hand through her hair, working his way from her scalp all the down to her mating gland. It makes her head tingle, and calms her nerves a bit.

 

“I’m sorry you didn’t get to prove yourself,” he says, as if he’s reading her thoughts. “But I had to do my job as the head of the project, as your manager, to put the right people in the right positions to get the job done. And to…keep my employees safe.”

 

“I understand,” she says, and her voice sounds so distant, but she she does understand even though it hurts to hear. “I wish you would’ve told me this a year ago.” 

 

It would’ve saved her a whole load of resentment. 

 

“I tried to,” he whispers. And maybe he did, but she did everything to avoid him after that. She probably wouldn't have let him explain himself if he tried.

 

“Krennic is in prison now, if that makes you feel any better,” he interrupts her thoughts.

 

“It does,” she smiles against his chest.

 

And they both fall into a peaceful, silent lull until his knot goes down enough for her to get off him. She gets them both some water and sits in the chair across from the couch. And they drink, naked, in awkward silence.

 

“So, uh,” she interrupts the quiet. “How’d you know which apartment was mine?”

 

“I knew this was your building from the carpool. And once I got in I just sort of…sought out your smell.”

 

“Are you telling me you sniffed me out like a dog?”

 

Ben takes a sip of his water to avoid answering, but the blush that creeps into his cheeks and ears tells her what she wants to know.

 

The cramps hit her again soon after that. And a vicious cycle begins. One that follows them for the next few hours. Days. Could be weeks, honestly, she loses all sense of time and reality.

 

Eventually they take their activities from the family room to her bedroom, because her couch is tiny and was getting uncomfortably damp with sweat and body fluids.

 

The bed seems to put them both more at ease. They can spread out and move more freely. They can sleep—which they do a lot because fucking so much in such a short period of time is incredibly exhausting.

 

He gets more talkative, too. 

 

He says things like good girl and sweet Omega—which in any other setting would’ve earned him a solid punch in the jaw, but she finds she’s quite pleased with it when he’s inside her.

 

She, for the most part, tries not to talk, afraid of what she might say to him. She's already got quite close to begging for his bite a few times. She had to bite him on his shoulder, just to keep her mouth occupied. If he notices her silence, or even cares, he doesn't say anything.

 

She’s always on top, though, and he doesn’t complain. He doesn’t try to get on top of her, or mount her like an animal. He knows what he’s there for. And she’s definitely sent him into rut, so she knows he’s holding his instincts back just to please her. And that makes her feel powerful. And maybe a little soft on him. Maybe a little more receptive to his needs.

 

He likes watching her. She can tell because anytime she spares a glance down at him he’s always staring up at her in a way no manno other person— has ever stared at her before.

 

And that scares her a little, so she tries to keep her eyes closed—pretending to be to deep in the throws of ecstasy to keep them open (which isn’t entirely untrue). Or she keeps her face buried in his neck and hair, which she finds is another pleasant alternative. Because if she looks back at him she’s afraid of what he might see in her eyes.

 

* * * * *

 

A few days in, she wakes in the middle of the afternoon to find herself straddling his thigh, writhing against him—her body seeking that connection even in her sleep. She’s surprised, though, to see that he’s fully awake, painfully erect, but laying deadly still. 

 

“Oh, you’re awake?” He asks, slightly choked.

 

“I am now,” she says, shifting herself on top of him, trying to get more friction. The heat inside her is duller now, almost gone, but God she still burns for him.

 

“I didn’t want to disturb you.”

 

“You could have,” she whispers, kissing a trail up his chest to his neck. His jaw. His ears.  

 

She doesn’t quite reach his lips, though. She hasn’t gone that far yet. 

 

She runs her hands down his chest, tracing the muscles on her way down. Then she grips his cock with both hands, and does a few slow pumps.

 

And she swears his eyes turn pitch black, and he flips them over so fast she feels like the wind has been knocked out of her.

 

This is new, she thinks. She's looking up at him, for once. She’s not unhappy with it, though. 

 

She goes to grab his cock again, but he takes hold of both her hands and pins them above her head.

 

“You need to let go, Rey,” his voice sounds…dark. Deeper. Like something’s awakened inside him that’s finally making itself known.

 

“You’re the one holding onto me,” she wiggles around beneath him. “You let go!”

 

“You don’t always need to be in control. Relax, Omega.”

 

He kisses and sucks her scent gland, and she thinks he must have some obsession with her neck. 

 

“So good,” he takes a deep breath. “You smell so good. I couldn’t handle it. From the moment…” he doesn't finish what he’s going to say—his Alpha brain clearly unable to handle more than one task at a time.

 

He moves his attention to her breasts, taking time to suck on the rosy buds there before he releases her hands, and continues his travels down her body.

 

When he meets his destination, her whole body jerks upwards, and he presses his hand on her stomach to keep her down. He laps at her agonizingly slowly, his tongue occasionally swirling around her bud. His fingers tease her entrance before diving in, and they're long enough to hit that spot inside her. And then he sucks hard on her clit. He works at her cunt like a man starved. And when she comes, slick gushes out of her, and he just laps that up.

 

Then he slides on top of her, ready to for his own release. She lifts her hips to help him guide himself inside her, and he slides right in.

 

She tries to move, tries to wriggle under him to find that spot she likes. But he holds her still and whispers “You’re still holding on...Let. Go.”

 

And for possibly the first time in her life, she does. She lets him control her. Move her. He massages her breasts, and plays with her clit, and lifts her legs to go faster, deeper. She thinks he might try and flip her, get her on her knees, and take her from behind like an animal. But instead he just gathers her close and holds her.

 

He actually holds her. His thrusts are shallow, but the drag is just right and it’s so, so good. 

 

“You’re so beautiful,” he whispers, and she preens. “So good for me.”

 

He speeds up, and then his hips start to stutter, and he comes with her name on his lips. As his knot grows and his seed pumps inside her, his fingers find her clit again. And holy shit her vision whites out. Her body sings and trembles and it takes her a minute to come down from it. 

 

She’s not surprised he made her come that hard. He's been pretty consistent these last few days. She is surprised that there is liquid gathered in her eyes, and some of it has fallen down her cheeks. 

 

She’s crying. 

 

Fuck, that’s so embarrassing. She tries to move quickly to wipe her eyes before he notices.

 

But he notices. And he stops her hands. 

 

And then he kisses her tears and the wet streaks trailing down her cheeks. He kisses her brows. Her closed eyes. 

 

And then, after a beat, he kisses her lips.

 

And she lets him.

 

It’s not a long kiss. But he’s warm and plush and pliant. He works his mouth over his chastely, with just a little tease of his tongue. Then he stops, and she’s surprised she tries to chase his lips for more. She’s even more surprised he doesn’t give into her, and instead just peppers the rest of her face and neck with kisses before his knot deflates and he finally rolls off her. 

 

He doesn't stay too far from her for long, and gathers her in his arms, rubbing slow, gentle little circles on her stomach. And then he falls asleep. She does too, soon after, to the sound of his gentle breathing in her ear.

 

 

* * * * *

 

They’re laying on the couch again. Her head is resting on his stomach when she hears it growl ferociously. 

 

They have eaten in the past few days. Potato crisps, saltines, a couple of celery sticks, a can of tomato soup, some scrambled eggs. They even went through three whole boxes of the Girl Scout Cookies she bought from her neighbor last week—which elicits a hot debate on what the best cookie is. She says Samoas while he says Tagalongs. This then prompts an argument over peanut butter, and America’s obsession with it. 

 

But a solid meal? That hasn’t happened. She normally does her shopping on the weekend, which she is definitely unable to accomplish now. And she certainly wasn’t prepared for a very big, very hungry house guest.

 

“Should we…should we get something to eat?” She asks when his stomach rumbles again.

 

“Sure. As long as we order in.”

 

“Duh. What do you want?”

 

“I don’t know. What do you like?”

 

“I’ll eat anything, really. How about pizza?”

 

He makes a small noise in the back of his throat and she pushes herself up on her elbows to look at him. She’s shocked to find a look of disgust on his face.

 

“I’m sorry…am I to understand that you don’t like pizza?”

 

“It’s not that I don’t like pizza. It’s that I don’t like cheese.”

 

“What?”

 

On the list of all the controversial shit Ben Solo has said, this is certainly at the top.

 

“Who doesn’t like cheese?” She asks, incredulously. 

 

“Me.”

 

“How? How can someone not like cheese? It’s un-American! It’s inhuman!”

 

“It’s just always grossed me out. Especially when it’s melted. It’s like eating warm snot. And the smell is like…a sweaty foot. It’s just vile.”

 

“I knew you were mental,” she mutters, shaking her head. He smiles at that. She smiles back.

 

“Okay. No pizza, then.” Rey sighs, and pushes herself off him and makes her way over to her drawer dedicated to take-out menus.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Italian?” She holds up a menu to Bastila’s, a local pasta joint. 

 

“Italian’s fine. As long as there’s no parmesan in any of the dishes. That’s the worst of the cheeses.”

 

“Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Parmesan is an integral part of all pasta dishes!”

 

They bicker over food and sort through to-go menus for the next fifteen minutes. Then they both decide that they very much love burgers. They order three each, and some crinkle-cut fries, from Culver’s. He even allows her to get a side of cheese curds, though it takes a significant amount of begging.

 

A half hour later, Ben goes to meet their Postmates delivery driver downstairs, and comes back to her with his arms full of food. He’s never looked sexier. 

 

They eat their meal in front of the TV, with one of the Mummy movies playing in the background, but they aren’t really watching it. 

 

They start talking. Really talking. First about the movie. And then about archaeology. Ben says he would’ve liked to have been an archaeologist in another life. Says his dad was really into it. When he was young, he would take him on trips to all sorts of historical sites all over the world--much to his mothers chagrin. 

 

Then they talk about his dad for a while, and when she sees how it makes him sad, she shifts the conversation to their food. He says he hasn’t eaten fast food since he was in college, which she finds appalling. They talk about university, and how they both felt it was important and life-changing, though in different ways. It's where she found herself. It's where he lost himself.

 

Then they talk about film and books and television. He gives her some recommendations, and she does the same. They talk about England and how much he loved it there when he visited, and how much she hated it. He doesn’t pry to much into her past, which she’s thankful for. Politics even come up briefly, and she’s surprised to find their views don’t really stray far from each other. 

 

And after they are both bloated and full and finished with their food, another cramp hits Rey. She’s unsure if it’s a heat cramp, or an ‘I’ve eaten way too much’ cramp, but she jumps him anyway. 

 

She rides him on the couch again. This time it’s gentler, slower. She lets him set the rhythm, and he gently rocks her while she just sort of lays there on top of him. 

 

She wants to try something.

 

She folds over and plants a little kiss on his lips. It's light and brief and dry. His eyes widen in shock, but then he smiles, and she loves the way he smiles. She wishes he’d do it more.

 

They fall asleep soon after they’ve both come, locked together, among all the wrappers and crumbs. She’s thinks maybe she’s never felt this tranquil in her whole life. 

 

* * * * *

 

They don't fully wake up until the next morning, and the first thing he does is carry her to the bathroom to run them a bath. She must smell. It's been days and she doesn't think either of them has properly showered the entire time. 

 

As soon as they are both in the water, he makes a comment about her soap—Irish Spring—and how he uses the same brand. There's no way he would know that she only buys it because of him, but she considers drowning herself out of embarrassment anyway. He doesn't say anything more about it, and lathers the green bar into a washrag. 

 

They bathe together, which seems more intimate than anything else they’ve done the past few days. He washes her thoroughly, and she just leans back against his chest, running her hands through the water. It no longer feels like needles. It feels amazing.

 

She never thought she’d be doing this; letting someone take care of her. She’s never really had anyone take care of her. Her friends try, sometimes, but it makes her uncomfortable. She’s never sure how to pay them back for what they do. 

 

But she knows how to pay Ben back. And when they’re out of the tub and semi-dry, she gets on her knees and does exactly that.

 

He tries to go down on her, after, but she refuses, and leads him back to her bedroom.

 

They lay together for a while.

 

She thinks about what she’d be doing right now had he not come over. She’s sure she’d still be right in the thick of it. In pain. But right now she can feel that her heat is almost over, and that is thanks to him. Last night he'd made a comment that she didn't smell as strong anymore, but still made sure they both took the time to call off work today—both citing different illnesses. 

 

She thinks about what he’d be doing right now had he not come over.

 

What does he do at home? For fun? Even after spending three straight days together she doesn’t feel like she really knows him at all. Does she want to? Does he want to know her? Does fucking each other mean that they’re, like, together now or something? Is that what he thinks? Is that what he thinks she thinks? She spirals a little.

 

“Nothing’s changed, right?” She asks tentatively, testing the waters, gauging a reaction.

 

“What?” He turns on his side to get a better look at her, his brown furrowed.

 

“Nothing’s changed. Between you and me, I mean.”

 

“Do you want things to change between you and me?”

 

“I don’t…I don’t know.” 

 

He searches her face, mashing his lips lips together, clearly contemplative.

 

“Thing’s don’t have to be different. We can pretend this never happened, keep it professional, if that’s what you want.”

 

There’s an edge to his voice that makes her nervous and panic grips at her throat, making her voice feel tight and small. Is it what she wants? Is it what he wants?

 

“O…kay?”

 

He furrows his brow, then nods shortly before he moves to lay on his back again.

 

He doesn’t say anything after that, and neither does she.

 

They fall asleep shoulder to shoulder this time. Both apparently content with the fact that absolutely nothing has changed between them.

 

 

* * * * *

 

The next time she wakes she notices two things. The first is that her body doesn’t feel like shit anymore. There's no fire, no cramps. In fact, she feels quite good. Strong, even.

 


The second thing she notices is that Ben Solo is not in her bed, and she has a tiny little freak out.

 

But then hears the rattling of dishes from her kitchen and relief floods her body. She hopes its him and not a burglar with an affinity for tableware.

 

She wraps herself back up in her sheet and leaves to find him unloading a very full dishwasher. Which is odd since they used maybe five dishes in total the last few days.

 

He doesn’t really acknowledge her when she comes in the room. He’s far too busy wiping down counters and scouring the sink.

 

She spends the next few hours just watching in awe as he cleans her entire apartment. 

 

He says nothing as he does it. He looks singularly focused—a man on a very important mission.

 

He must have been truly disgusted by the state of her home to go this hard. Which is fair. She’s a pack rat who only cleans when she absolutely has to. 

 

Her sloppiness was never more evident than when she was moving out of her last apartment and had to clean up. She ended up sweeping a pile of sand into the corner of her room.

 

Sand.

 

She’s never even been to the beach in America.

 

But Ben doesn’t seem to mind the task.

 

He sweeps and even steams the hardwood. She didn’t even know she owned a steamer. 

 

He dusts her bookshelf and all the knick knacks cluttering the shelves.

 

He folds the pile of clean clothes that has been sitting on her chair for a week now, and puts everything away in her drawers.

 

He empties out and wipes down her gross fridge, and puts back only the non-expired food.

 

He gets some mysterious stains out of the couch cushions. 

 

He washes and changes the sheets, much to her chagrin. He even takes the one she has wrapped around her shoulders, and hands her a robe to put on instead.

 

And she just follows him room to room, like a little duckling, watching as he busies himself in her place. As he familiarizes himself with her things. 

 

He takes a break around seven in the evening when he eats some leftover fries and prepares them the last few cans of soup in her pantry. He serves hers to her in a mug and hands it to her in her chair. He sits far from her, on the couch, and slurps his dinner down quickly so he can get back to work.

 

By the time he’s finished, it’s nearly midnight, and he looks positively exhausted. He stands near the front hall entrance, looking awkward and uncomfortable in his wrinkled clothes. He hasn’t worn much of anything in the last few days, so it must feel weird. 

 

His eyes dance around the room—looking at his handiwork, no doubt. 

 

When his eyes meet hers, he gives her this look. 

 

And it’s not the look of a man who is desperate to say something, but the look of a man who desperately wants her to say something. 

 

And when she doesn’t, he just kind of nods and slips into his shoes.

 

When he goes for his coat, though, that’s when she starts to panic—a lingering effect of her heat, no doubt.

 

She thinks about her fresh, clean sheets and how they won’t smell like him anymore. And how she won’t wake up warm, next to him. Protected. Content. And she just…freaks out.

 

“Wait,” she says, as he slides his second arm into his black, wool coat. 

 

He stares at her. Raises a questioning eyebrow. Rey doesn’t move from her spot on her recliner.

 

“You—you can stay. For one more night. If you want to.”

 

His eyes widen, and she thinks he might say yes, but then quickly harden in a way that makes her heart fall into her stomach.

 

“We have work tomorrow.”

 

“Right. That’s right. But—"

 

“It might be suspicious if we both take too many sick days.”

 

“Not really, there’s a bug going around the office—"

 

“I don’t have any clothes here,” he stops her short. He gestures to his disheveled attire. 

 

“You could always run home before work,” she suggests, trying to suppress the anxiousness in her voice.

 

“I think—I think I should just go.”

 

“Oh,” is all she can say. If she speaks again, her voice will wobble, and she’ll cry, and she’ll be embarrassed if he sees her cry again. 

 

Then he says a quiet thank you, which is really what she should be saying to him, but she can’t make her mouth move or her brain work. Her inability to function only gets worse as she sees him slide his shoes on and walk out her door without so much as looking back.

 

Did she do something wrong?

 

She sits in that chair for a long time after he leaves, staring blankly at the door. Her phone buzzes from somewhere in the room, which breaks her trance. She finds it on her TV stand, plugged into the outlet, charging. 

 

It’s Finn. He’s just checking in on her. She sends a simple thumbs-up emoji and sets the phone back down. That’s when she notices a pair of wire-framed glasses sitting on the other side of the TV stand. 

 

She picks them up and tries them on. 

 

He’s not as blind as she thought he was. The prescription is so weak that his vision must be almost perfect.

 

She sits on the couch and flips on the telly, trying to find something to distract her. 

 

The glasses get foggy. To the point where she can’t even see the screen anymore.

 

But still. She leaves them on.

Chapter Text

Rey doesn’t remember much about her mother. 

 

But she does remember this: when her mother cried, she would get down on her knees, gently tap Rey on the chest and say always protect your heart.

 

When she was little, Rey took that advice quite literally. Whenever her mother would say it, she’d place her hands fiercely over her chest to make sure nothing could get to her heart. 

 

From then on, whenever she was hurt, she would remember what her mother said, and try to follow her advice. And she thought she understood what her mother was trying to tell her. One year after another she saw how everything and everyone she let into her heart would break it. Her foster parents, her friends, the foster system that was meant to protect her. Even her mother, who denied every attempt to reconnect. All disappointments.

 

And it hurt.

 

The pain of a broken heart became too much.

 

She decided she needed to take control.

 

So she closed herself off.

 

At first, it was unintentional. She didn’t even realize she was doing it.

 

She holed herself away in her bedroom, and would try to sleep for as long as she could.

 

She wore her headphones at lunch, mainly to avoid anyone trying to make conversation with her. Sometimes she wasn’t even listening to music. 

 

She went to the library instead of playing with the neighborhood kids.

 

It certainly didn't make her very popular.

 

That’s Rey. She’s weird. You should go pull on her hair, they would say.

 

It hurt, at first, when the other kids would whisper about her. But then she realized it was for the best. It kept them at a distance. 

 

But not always. 

 

Her hair got pulled, her backpack got stolen, her notebooks got vandalized. So sometimes she had to resort to different methods. Harsher methods. And the whispers started to change.

 

That’s Rey. She’s mean. You should stay away from her.

 

That worked like a charm. 

 

Over the years she got very good at spotting the types of people that could break her heart, and staying far, far away from them. It became instinctual. She wouldn't let anyone else break her heart.

 

Until Ben Solo.

 

He left you. 

 

He hates you. 

 

You should’ve let him be in charge.

 

You weren’t a good Omega.

 

Maybe she knew he would have this kind of power over her the second they met. Maybe that’s why she’s avoided him like the plague around the office, and been slightly volatile when he’s around her. Maybe it wasn’t entirely about Starkiller project. Maybe she knew he would make her cry, and was trying to save herself from this…heartbreak.

 

She’s been crying since he left, and she tries hard to convince herself it’s because she’s still a hormonal mess after her heat. But she knows that’s not why.

 

She knows it’s because she’s fucking tired of being lonely. And she’s never felt more alone than she did last night, after Ben Solo walked out her door. 

 

It was an all-encompassing loneliness. Like half her soul walked out with him. It was a physical thing, that has made it hard to sleep and eat and think and pull herself out of bed in the morning. She thought she was okay being alone. She's never minded coming back to an empty place. It meant that she could do whatever she wanted when she wanted to do it. She thought that was what being an independent Omega entailed. But it took having someone there—filling that space, taking care of her without question, showing her what she's been missing—to realize how fucking lonely she's been.

 

She didn't even have the comfort of his musky Alpha smell lingering in her place anymore. He so thoroughly sterilized every corner of the apartment. It makes her suspect that he didn't clean to help her out, but rather to erase the fact that he was ever there.

 

She is going to have to see him today.

 

And a part of her is desperate to see him again. The other part wants to crawl back into her bed and forget he even exists. The latter is definitely taking control.

 

Which is why she is currently sitting in her car, crying, trying to will herself to drive to work.

 

Poe sent a text earlier this morning saying he was meeting a client for breakfast, so she doesn't have to wait for him to join the carpool. She’s grateful, really. She’s glad she doesn’t have to hear some shitty comment about her red cheeks or puffy eyes. 

 

She knows if she waits any longer she’s going to make everyone late, so she wipes the tears from her eyes, checks herself in the mirror, and pulls her turtleneck higher to cover the little purple bruises left there. Then she makes her way to Rose and Finn’s place where she finds the two of them bundled up waiting on their driveway. 

 

The second Rose closes the car door, her head whips to Rey. Her nostrils are flared, and her eyes are narrowed suspiciously. And then they widen. And widen. And widen. And her mouth widens too, the corners lifting into a huge smile.

 

Fuck.  

 

She knows. 

 

“Get out,” Rose says, abruptly turning to Finn, who just buckled himself in the backseat.

 

“What? Why?” He asks from the back seat, baffled.

 

“Drive yourself to work. I need to talk to Rey.”

 

“No, that’s okay—" Rey tries to put a stop to this because this is her worst nightmare. Talking to Rose about her feelings is her worst nightmare. Having to talk about her feelings in general is her worst nightmare. But Rose, stubborn Alpha that she is, is having none of it.

 

“Rosie, what is the point of the carpool crew if we all just take our own vehicles to work?” Finn protests. They bicker for a minute, but he does eventually listen to his fiancee, and gives her a quick kiss before he exits the car.

 

And then Rey is trapped. 

 

She knows she’s not going to be able to avoid this conversation with Rose. But maybe, just maybe, if she drives fast enough…

 

She puts her tiny car in drive and takes off down the road.

 

“Slow down, Rey, Jesus!” Rose bellows from the passenger seat. 

 

Rey acquiesces, but only after she accidentally blows a stop sign and nearly runs over a squirrel.

 

Both women stay silent until they reach a stop light, and then Rose goes in for the kill.  

 

“What happened?” She asks.

 

“Noth—"

 

“Don’t even try to lie to me, Rey Johnson. I have the nose of a bloodhound!”

 

Rey sighs and pulls into the parking lot of a CVS. She’s not sure she can drive and recount the last few days at the same time.

 

“What do you know?” Rey asks, afraid of the answer.

 

“Only what my nose tells me. You were in heat. Someone helped you through it. Someone who smells a lot like Ben Solo.”

 

Rey cringes and briefly flicks her eyes over to the other woman before collapsing forward and resting her forehead on the steering wheel.

 

“So I’m right.” She’s so smug about it. 

 

Rey nods against the wheel.

 

“I thought you and Ben did not have, and I quote, anything resembling a relationship.” Rose mimics her accent.

 

“We didn’t!” Rey protests. “We don’t. He just…helped.”

 

“How?”

 

Rey cocks an eyebrow at her friend, unsure of what she wants to know.

 

“I mean, I know how he helped. But how did this happen?”

 

Rey explains what happened on Friday after they arrived at work. How he knew her heat was coming. How he took her home. How he checked up on her the next morning. How desperate she was. How good he was to her. How he didn’t want anything to change. How he left her at the end of it all.

 

Rey doesn’t realize she has tears in her eyes again until she turns to look at her friend and see’s nothing but a black and white blob. She blinks the tears out of her eyes, revealing a solemn-looking Rose, staring at her intently.

 

“Can I ask you a question without you getting…defensive?” Rose asks sheepishly.

 

“I don’t get defensive,” Rey retorts, wiping the tears off her face.

 

Rose raises her eyebrow in a way that says really? And Rey just nods in defeat.

 

“Would it have been so bad if things between you and Ben did change?”

 

Rey thinks about it. 

 

She’s fucking scared of Ben Solo. She’s scared that he could destroy her heart in a way no one has been able to in a really long time. He threatens the seemingly indestructible foundations she’s built for her life. 

 

But through her night of tossing and turning she realized something: she likes him. 

 

She likes Ben Solo. 

 

She misunderstood him. She judged him so harshly before she knew anything about him, and then subsequently kept him at a distance so that could never happen.

 

He might’ve done bad things in the past. But he is not the bad man she thought he was. Quite the opposite.

 

And she missed him when he left. 

 

Not just the sex (though she did miss that, even after days and days of it). And not just because she’s genetically programmed to want him. She missed his company while she watched TV, and his strong opinions on seemingly pointless things, and the way he cared for her.

 

She just missed him.

 

In any case, he made it pretty clear he didn’t feel the same way after he left her.

 

“I don’t think he wanted anything to change,” she says, and it hurts to admit that out loud. “Why else would he suggest that?”

 

Rose barks out a laugh. 

 

“Rey, there are two things I know for sure in this world. The first is that Casey Anthony definitely did it. The second is that Ben Solo would literally give up his life for you if you asked him to. He’s that into you.”

 

“Oh, please. He can’t stand me.” Or he can’t stand her anymore, anyway.

 

“He helped you through your heat, did he not?”

 

“Probably because he’s just a typical horny Alpha.”

 

“Hey, I resent that,” Rose complains. “But I promise you that’s not why.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“Did you ever consider that he could’ve gotten an Uber to work last week? He’s filthy rich, Rey. His car costs more than my house. He definitely didn’t need to jam himself in the back of our cars. I think he did it to be closer to you.”

 

“Maybe he was just trying to be environmentally conscious,” Rey suggests.

 

“Maybe. But my nose doesn’t lie,” Rose taps on her petite little nose. “He was literally dying in the car every morning of the carpool. And you should've seen his face when I handed him an emergency blocker. He looked like he was going to cry.”

 

She gave him one too? 

 

“He wants you, Rey. But you made it seem like you didn’t want him and it hurt his pride. Alpha’s don’t take rejection very well.”

 

“I didn’t reject him.”

 

“You did, but I don't think you meant to. When you were testing him, he was testing you. And you dummies both failed.”

 

Rey tries to prepare herself for the very real possibility that Rose is right. About everything. 

 

Rey was protecting her heart without even realizing it, yet again.

 

“What do I do now?”

 

“That’s entirely up to you. But I think you need to figure out what you want. And then you should talk to him.” Rose says that like it’s the easiest thing in the world. 

 

"Do you need a hug?” Her friend asks tentatively.

 

And normally Rey would say no. Not even because she doesn’t want a hug, but just as a reflex. She hasn't been hugged much in her life, and she isn’t sure she really enjoys them all that much. But today, right now, she thinks that’s just what she needs. So without responding, Rey initiates the hug and her normally astute Alpha friend is momentarily frozen in shock. 

 

But then she melts into Rey. Rey doesn’t think she’s ever hugged Rose—she’s hugged Finn plenty, and she knows how much Rose loves hugs, but they’ve just…never gotten there. 

 

The two friends embrace, and it soothes her. Rey doesn’t remember what it was like to hug her mother, but she thinks it must’ve felt something like this.

 

They pull apart from each other after a while and Rey takes a deep breath, catching a whiff of her friends natural chamomile and leather scent.

 

“You can always talk to me, you know. About anything. And if you don’t want to talk to me, I know someone else you can talk to.”

 

She goes through her bag and pulls a small white card with “Dr. Amilyn Holdo” printed on it with an address and phone number.

 

“I go to her. She’s good. It’s just a thought. No pressure, though.”

 

Rey isn’t sure she’s ready for that. But she nods, accepts the card, and tucks it into her purse all the same. 

 

They sit in a comfortable silence for a while, staring at the blazing red CVS sign in front of them. 

 

And then Rose asks “So…was it any good?”

 

A cheeky smile breaks out on both women’s faces. It feels good to smile. 

 

“So good,” Rey answers a bit breathlessly.

 

“I knew it,” Rose mutters to herself. 

 

* * * * *

 

They arrive at work forty-five minutes late, but no one says anything. Finn shoots them both a withering glare when they walk in, but they ignore him, and shuffle to their respective desks.

 

Rey’s never felt grateful for being stationed in a cubicle before. They’re small and suffocating and she can never see what’s going on around the office. But today, it’s ideal. Partially because it prevents her nosy coworkers from seeing her swollen face, but mostly because it blocks her view of Ben’s door. She would drive herself crazy staring at it if there weren’t for the grey half-wall in front of her.

 

She didn’t see him when she walked in, but she did notice his door was closed.

 

She starts to get suspicious after lunch, though. She hasn’t seen—or smelled—him for hours. 

 

She finds little reasons to get up and walk around the office. 

 

At 1:15pm she takes a bathroom break. 

 

At 1:30pm she moseys on over to the water cooler, even though her bottle is practically full.

 

At 1:45pm she asks to borrow a stapler from Kay, despite her own stapler having plenty of staples.

 

There’s still zero sign of him.

 

Finally, on her way back from another bathroom break, she stops at Snap’s cubicle.

 

“Hey, Snap,” she tries to say casually.

 

He mutters a hello, but doesn’t bother to turn away from his computer.

 

“Do you, um, happen to know where Solo is? I need him. For something work-related.”

 

“I heard he had some meeting up in Columbus.”

 

“Oh? Do you know when he’ll be back?”

 

“No.”

 

“Right. Thanks.”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

Rey returns to her own cubicle and pulls her bag into her lap. She pulls out the pouch where she stored his glasses. She checks to make sure they’re still intact, then sets the frames next to her computer.

 

Her eyes flit to them every few minutes for the rest of the day. 

 

Ben never shows.

 

* * * * *

 

Her stomach has been in knots since Wednesday night.

 

Did he not show up to work because of me? She can’t help but wonder. The paranoia eats her alive.

 

She thinks about what she’s going to say to him the whole ride to work on Thursday morning. She misses out on a very riveting conversation about Poe’s meal prep for the week while she prepares her speech in her head. Maybe she should make him a Powerpoint...

 

She feels like she’s going to puke by the time they walk into the conference room for the team meeting. She can’t handle the anticipation of seeing him again. 

 

He’s not in there when she arrives, which is simultaneously a relief and a worry.

 

What if he never comes back? What if the thought of being around me made him quit?

 

She takes her usual spot next to Finn, and tries to pay attention to whatever he’s saying about some movie he and Rose watched last night. But she sits at an angle so she can see the door out of the corner of her eyes, and that's all she can focus on.

 

She smells him before she sees him. The hair on her arms and neck raises, and she breaks out into a sweat. And when he finally walks in she realizes she maybe should’ve taken a blocker this morning because God he looks good. 

 

She can’t believe she got to see him naked. Got to fuck him. 

 

She looks around the room and thinks none of you know what he looks like under that white button down and those black slacks. The Omega in her wants to shout it, brag about it, but she doesn’t, of course. She sits perfectly still and waits for him to sit down. Waits for him to notice her. 

 

He doesn’t look at her when he walks in with Luke. He takes his usual seat on the other side of the table, and pulls his phone out. He doesn’t so much as sneeze in her direction.

 

Any hope that she held that he might not be upset with her—that he was just tired, that he wanted to sleep in his own bed, that he didn’t leave because he didn’t want to be with her—is crushed to bits

 

He puts his phone down when Luke starts the meeting. 

 

Rey can’t help but stare at him like a creep throughout the meeting. She feels a little bad that she doesn’t pay attention to anyone’s presentations, but she is looking for any sign that might tell her how he’s feeling. 

 

Luke takes Jess’s place at the head of the table after her presentation. He clasps his hands in front of him and sighs.

 

“Before we conclude this meeting, I have an important announcement to make.”

 

His tone is solemn, not at all like his usual self, so Rey completely stops staring at Ben and looks up at her boss.

 

“I will be retiring next month,” He says. An audible gasp echoes through the room. “No need to worry, there’s nothing wrong. It’s just the right time. I would also like to announce that Ben will be taking my place as the head of Resistance Tech starting in March. I know he will do well by the company, and you will all be able to trust him with whatever you need. He's been working incredibly hard the last few weeks to make this transition as easy as possible for everyone.”

 

Rey’s mouth parts, her jaw dropping a little. 

 

When was this decided? And how long has Ben known about it?

 

Ben leaves his seat to stand next to Luke. And glances at her for the just the briefest moment. And it’s an empty look. One that makes her heart seize and her chest hurt.

 

“There will be a small party at the Ach-To Bar tomorrow after work to honor Luke Open bar starting at 6:00pm. We hope you can join us.” Ben announces, voice cold but professional. Nothing out of the ordinary there, really.

 

The room starts to clap, and Rey has a slight delayed reaction before she starts clapping, too.

 

Ben is the first to leave, and everyone piles out after him, making it difficult to get anywhere near him. 

 

His office door is closed when she walks past it, so she decides to go get her doughnut instead, and returns to her desk to eat it.

 

After she finishes her Boston cream, she starts chewing her nails and picking at her fingers.

 

She spots his glasses she left next to her computer. They’re the perfect excuse to go talk to him. She grabs them and wipes a salty tear mark off the lens before heading to his office. 

 

She has a sense of de ja vu as she stands outside of her door, trying to find the confidence to knock.

 

And when she finally does, she’s shocked to hear a woman’s voice comes from the other side tell her to come in. Rey pushes the door open and sees Leia sitting in a chair across from Ben’s desk. Rey closes the glasses in her fist and clasps her hands behind her back.

 

Rey is always surprised by how small Leia is, especially for an Alpha. She makes up for it with her business savvy mind and sharp wit. 

 

“Oh! Sorry, Ms. Organa, I didn’t realize you were in today—"

 

“No bother, Miss Johnson. Just a quick meeting. I was just about to leave. What did you need, dear?”

 

She looks over at Ben, who is pointedly avoiding her presence by staring at his big hands folded on his desk. She racks her brain for a viable excuse.

 

“I needed to talk to Ben—Mr. Solo—about uh…my proposal…my project proposal to help bring in new clients at Resistance—" It's the first excuse she can think of. The first work-related excuse, anyway.

 

“Oh yes! Ben mentioned that to me a while ago. It seems you have some very modern, innovative ideas, Miss Johnson. So of course Luke hated it!” Leia laughs. “Send me a copy if you have a chance dear, I would love to look at it! Especially since Ben seems eager to implement your ideas!”

 

“Th—thank you, Ms. Organa. I will.” Rey says. She’s practically glowing with pride.

 

“No, thank you for your hard work. I think I’m going to order the office some pizza for lunch to celebrate, how does that sound?” The tiny woman stands up and pulls out her phone. 

 

“Ben doesn’t like pizza,” Rey says, almost reflexively.

 

Ben’s head pops to Rey, and he gapes at her.

 

Leia narrows her eyes, looking between her employee and her son with mild suspicion. But then her face relaxes and she smiles. 

 

“Oh yes, that’s right! I forgot about the cheese thing. Probably because it's so ridiculous. Who doesn't like cheese? That boy, I tell you..."

 

Rey can only smile and nod nervously at the CEO. The mother of the man she spent a whole weekend fucking.

 

"I’ll order you a cheese-less veggie, then,” Leia says before bidding them farewell.

 

She leaves the office, the door clicking shut behind her. 

 

And then they are alone for the first time since he left her apartment.

 

He’s not looking at her anymore. 

 

In fact, he pretends as if she’s not even there, and pulls out a file from his drawer and begins scribbling something on the papers within.

 

After a minute of agonizing silence, she realizes he’s not going to talk to her. He is upset with her. And she doesn’t know what to say to make it better. But she has to try.

 

So she sits in the chair Leia just left and tries to think of something to ask him. Something to ease him into the conversation she really wants to have.

 

“So when you kept saying you had work to do…you really had work to do? It wasn’t an excuse?” 

 

“No, Miss Johnson, it was not an excuse.”

 

His voice cuts into her like a knife. She rolls her eyes.

 

“Miss Johnson,” she mocks his formal tone. “Really, Ben?”

 

“I’m just trying to keep things professional. Nothing’s changed.” he says. “Like you wanted.” He finally looks at her, but she really wishes he didn’t. He’s never looked at her that harshly in his life—even when they were fighting.

 

“That’s…” Rey loses her words. Every speech she had rehearsed in her head is gone. “That’s not what I—"

 

“Did you need anything else, Miss Johnson?” He cuts her off, and the ice in his voice and sourness of his scent sends a chill through her core. 

 

She doesn’t answer. She can’t answer. Her voice is gone.

 

So she just stands and gently places his glasses in front of him. His eyes leave her and become transfixed with the frames in front of him.

 

She goes to leave, and her fingers are wrapped around the handle when she hears him ask “Why me?”

 

“What?” She turns.

 

“Why did you tell me to come over?”

 

“I was in a lot of pain,” she says. And it’s the truth, but it makes his face fall. So she tells another truth. “And I think…I think I just knew I could trust you.”

 

His scent spikes a little, and he peers at her through his lashes, mashing his lips together like he’s deciding something. But he says nothing, and she can’t bear look at him any longer because it hurts.

 

“Congratulations on your promotion, Ben. You deserve it,” she says, and then she flees the room.

 

* * * * *

 

The rest of the day passes by quite quickly, which is a God send.

 

She compartmentalizes.

 

She has to, or she won’t get anything done. So she does some work and actually has a pleasant pizza lunch with Rose and Finn.

 

Ben takes his cheese-less abomination in his own office.

 

She can’t help but notice a new energy in the office. And how instantaneous the ass-kissing began after Ben’s promotion was announced.

 

Snap compliments his shoes, even though they’re the same shiny black leather ones he wears almost every day.

 

Kaydel practically jumps out of her desk to hold the door open for him when he goes to the bathroom.

 

Poe brings a coffee to his office after lunch.

 

It makes her angry, all these people being nice to him because he has power now. Because they want something from him.

 

But that’s sort of what she did, isn’t it? She’s just as guilty as they are. She used him too. God, she’s a hypocrite.

 

Her anger really spikes when she goes to refill her water bottle in the break room and finds Bazine—the Receptionist and Omega—talking very close to Ben. And when her manicured hand strokes his arm quite intimately, Rey squeezes her bottle so tight the lid flies off and rolls all the way over to Bazine's heels.

 

A wave of pure, unadulterated possessiveness falls over her.  

 

He’s mine, she thinks. My Alpha. Her instincts are telling her the other woman is a threat. That she must be eliminated. It takes everything in her to just stay in the doorway.

 

Ben at least has the decency to look a little sheepish when he sees her. He backs away from the other woman. Bazine just smiles and picks up the lid, She hands it back to Rey with a wink on her way out..

 

He doesn’t move from his spot next to the espresso machine, one hand in his pocket and the other holding a mug, but not drinking out of it. They just stare at each other, scents spiked, filling the break room with a noxious perfume. 

 

Idiot, she thinks. Fucking idiot. Why do I have to like this idiot?

 

Another wave of anger rushes over her, so she stomps off to fill her bottle with the shitty tap water in the bathroom.

 

She stares at herself in the mirror for a while, trying to calm down. She wonders what Ben sees in her. What any of her friends see in her.

 

She’s aloof. She’s quick to judgement. She can be volatile. 

 

She’s like a weathered vase. Parts of her have been broken off by her mother and her father and her foster parents and a society that constantly tells her she’s a weak, pathetic Omega and nothing more. She’s glued herself back together over the years—albeit quiet shoddily. But one wrong move and she’ll be shattered forever. 

 

It’s hard. Living like this. Trying to protect herself from anyone that might knock her over. Trying to maintain control over everything, at all times. It takes a lot out of her.

 

And if she thinks about it too much, she'll break down and it'll take days for her to feel right again.

 

So she sighs, splashes water on her face, and returns to work. Because that's all she can do. That's the only thing she has control over right now.

 

She goes back and forth between a few tasks, starting a lot, but not quite finishing anything. 

 

And then she finally reopens the proposal she turned into Luke last week. The one he didn't like. The one that Ben loved. The one that Leia was interested in. 

 

She reads over it again. She makes a few tweaks. A few minor changes. But overall she’s satisfied with her work. Proud, even. And she can’t believe it took Ben fucking Solo to make her see that. 

 

So she sends it to Leia, and a little jolt of excitement runs through her. A slice of hope returns to her broken heart. 

 

 

* * * * *

 

Rey Johnson leaves work sure of three things:

 

She is going to call Dr. Holdo. She’s sick of feeling like a broken vase.

 

She wants Ben Solo. Badly.

 

And she’s going to make him talk to her.

Chapter Text

It is common knowledge that drinking tea boosts an Omega’s natural scent. 

 

It's not a huge boost, but it makes enough of a difference that centuries ago Alphas banned Omegas from consuming it without their consent. They were afraid the wicked, wicked Omegas would use it against them. To control them. Even today, there are still special teas made specifically for Omegas to make sure they don’t drive Alphas wild. 

 

There’s even a whole stupid stereotype that Omegas from Britain and Asia are the best smelling Omegas in the world. She remembers when she was in secondary school, Jeremy Franks told her she must be the exception to that rule. She retaliated by “accidentally” sneezing on his face.

 

Certain teas have been proven slightly more potent than others. Red Ginseng tea being at the top of that list. Something about antioxidants and estrogen levels. Rey’s really never bothered to do the research.

 

So why she chooses that particular flavor during her Thursday night grocery shopping spree is anyone’s guess.

 

It’s a subconscious decision. She hasn’t had tea in a while—favoring coffee since she’s moved to America—and suddenly got a hankering for it. She just grabs a couple boxes and throws them into her cart. She doesn’t even look at the labels. 

 

She only notices what she’s bought after she gets home and starts putting everything away.

 

And then the first part of a half hazard plan forms.

 

* * * * *

 

She brews a cup of Red Ginseng the next morning. 

 

She sips it as she stands in front of her wardrobe in just her knickers, trying to decide what to wear.

 

She still has yellowing bruises on her neck, so she has to opt for another turtleneck, or risk questioning from Poe (and probably Finn if Rose hasn’t already blabbed).

 

She chooses a tight black one, and puts a thin black bra underneath.

 

She pairs it with a houndstooth pencil skirt that cuts just above the knee. She’s has never really had the confidence to wear it before. She only bought it because it’s high-waisted and makes her ass look great. But today she’s decided she's going to be confident. Take risks. The thought makes her want to vomit, but also kind of excites her. 

 

She’s never tried to seduce anyone before. She doesn’t really even know what a seduction would entail outside of what she’s seen in films and television shows.

 

She feels very Mrs. Robinson as she pulls a pair of black tights up her long legs. She even considers wearing the one pair of black pumps she owns, but decides even Ben Solo isn’t worth that level of pain. So she slips on a pair of one-inch heeled booties and runs outside to meet Poe for the carpool before she can change her mind about her outfit.

 

When they arrive at Finn and Rose’s, Rey decides to let Finn take the front seat, and slips in the back with Rose, who is delighted with the switch-up.

 

They all make pleasant conversation for a while until Poe and Finn taper off into their own discussion about the Packers—which Rey and Rose want absolutely no part of.

 

“I called that number you gave me,” Rey says, voice low so the boys can’t hear. Having the conversation with Rose was hard enough, she doesn’t want to have it with them just yet, either.

 

Her friend knits her brows, confused for a moment. Rey can see the moment of recognition spread across her face, and the soft look that follows.


“I have an appointment next weekend,” she adds.

 

“Oh, Rey. I’m so glad,” Rose says sweetly. She grabs Rey’s hand and squeezes.

 

“Me too,” Rey says, squeezing back.

 

“And what about the Solo situation?”

 

“That’s more of a work in progress.”

 

“Ah,” Rose nods. “But you’ll let me know how it goes?”

 

Rey agrees, and then two switch subjects to share theories about who left the tuna salad to rot in the fridge over the long weekend. Rey thinks it was Jannah (serial tuna salad eater), but Rose swears it was Snap. 

 

Then Rose seems to catch the scent of something in the middle of their conversation, like a shark to blood. Her eyes seem to dance around the Jeep until they land back on Rey.

 

“You smell good today. New perfume?” There’s no malice or suspicion in her question, just genuine interest, which helps quell the mini heart attack Rey is having.

 

“Something like that,”  Rey gulps.

 

* * * * *

 

When the group saunters into the office, Rey is not prepared to see him so soon. She thought she’d have more time to prepare. More time to hype herself up. 

 

But Ben is standing at reception, looking at something on a clipboard. He also seems to be making small talk with Bazine. Which immediately alarms her, and her instinct is to go into panic mode. To get possessive again.

 

But not today.

 

Today she is confident Rey. 

 

So she throws her shoulders back and tries to walk with a little sway in her hips as she passes by. She doesn’t miss how his eyes follow her. How his scent spikes a little.

 

Mission accomplished. This whole seduction thing is going swimmingly, she thinks. I don’t even know what I was nervous about.

 

“What’s wrong with you?” Poe interrupts her self-congratulatory speech.

 

“Excuse me?” She asks, her voice clipped.

 

“Why are you walking like that? You hurt your back or something? Hemorrhoids, maybe?”

 

She slouches in defeat and pins him with a withering glare.

 

“Shut up, Poe,” she mutters, rushing to her desk. She’s sure her face is completely aflame, so she hides out in her cubicle until she can build her confidence back up. 

 

Once she’s given herself a pep-talk (and texted Rose for some sage words of wisdom), she starts the next part of her plan. Which, in short, is to spend the rest of her morning trying to get his attention.

 

Whenever she hears his voice or office door open, she decides that is the perfect time to get up and stretch. Or make some more tea. Or use the restroom. 

 

She flips her hair as she passes him, and works on walking less constipated and more sensually. As the day progresses, she gets quite bold and starts to find stupid reasons to interrupt or insert herself into his conversations with others. She tries flirting. At first with him—which doesn’t work—and then with the people around him, just to see if he’ll react.

 

He doesn’t. Not really.

 

She catches him side-eyeing her. And she notes a hint sourness in his fresh, citrusy scent, so she knows he’s noticed. But he doesn’t react. He keeps a firm upper lip and maintains his “business as usual” demeanor. 

 

Her coworkers are starting to look at her like she’s grown two heads. Which is fair. She's never really bothered to interact with them before. And she’s acting crazy. She knows it. She’s like some kind of desperate teenage girl whose self-worth is entirely dependent on getting the popular boy to like her. 

 

But she just can’t find it within herself to care right now. So what if they think she has a crush on him? She does. And at this point, the sooner everyone knows it, the better. 

 

Ben, though. Ben just seems to get progressively more confused throughout the morning. Which is the exact opposite of what she wants. His reactions go from slightly bemused to positively bewildered. She's got his attention, she’s sure of that. Just not the attention she wanted.

 

Because he hasn’t talked to her. Not even once. 

 

* * * * *

 

It’s lunchtime, and Rey and Finn are having a heated discussion about the recent ending of the much-loved Solar Wars films. 

 

She’s avoided having this conversation with her friend up until this point. She knew that he liked it and he knew damn well that she did not. And they both think they’re right. So they thought it best not to talk about it around each other, so as to avoid a fight. Until today.

 

“It made no sense, Finn! It completely disregarded all the character development from the last film!”

 

“It made plenty of sense—It answered all the questions I had! There’s no way Kira could be that powerful without a powerful lineage! It’s the eighth film that didn’t make any sense!”

 

Rey is about to throw a slice of bologna at his head when Ben walks into the break room. His brown eyes meet her hazel ones as soon as he walks in, but he quickly looks away and heads to the coffee pot.

 

“Well, I didn’t think it was too bad,” says Rose, diplomatic as always. “But I’m not as into those films as you two are.”

 

“What did you think of the last Solar Wars film?” Rey asks, addressing the one other person in the room.

 

It's silent, and he probably doesn't even realize she's talking to him until he turns from the coffee maker to see them all staring at him. He scrunches his face at her—probably confused as to why she’s brought him into this. Especially because he knows that she already knows his answer. They'd already had this same conversation a few days ago. It was one of the first things they bonded over.

 

He clears his throat, and answers the question anyway. 

 

“I think it’s an insult to the Solar Wars legacy,” he says bluntly. Finn bellows a protest, but Ben begins to wax-poetic about narrative choices, plot holes, and weak dialogue. He does try to be reasonable and pepper in a few things he did like. He goes on and on and she thinks she could listen to him talk about this all day. She would listen to him talk about anything all day, really.

 

She’s got it bad. 

 

He finishes by saying he's glad Finn enjoyed it, but he'll forever remain disappointed at the lost potential.

 

She glances over at Finn to see his arms crossed over his chest and his jaw set. He looks pissed that Ben took her side, and maybe even a little defeated. Rey can’t help but rub it in.

 

“Exactly what he said!" She barks, turning to Finn. Then she glances back at the other man. "Thank you, Solo.”

 

Ben’s eyes linger on her for a moment longer. It’s a loaded look. Agitated. Heated. And she can’t help but feel like she made the wrong move again. Her paranoia rises when his gaze flits to her cup of tea. Does he know what she's drinking? Does he know why?

 

He doesn't say anything. He just takes a sip of his coffee, and mutters “you’re welcome” before leaving the room.

 

As soon as he's gone, Finn starts to backtrack. Starts to talk about Poe, and how he liked the film, too. Rose gently reminds him that Poe thinks the Fast and the Furious movies are a triumph in filmmaking, and so his opinion doesn't necessarily help Finn’s case.

 

Rey might’ve laughed, but she’s not really listening. Because he finally said something to her. 

 

She can’t help but grin. Her first success of the day.

 

She’s high from it.

 

She wants to continue riding that wave.

 

So when Kaydel casually mentions she needs some paperwork signed by Solo, Rey immediately volunteers to take care of that for her.

 

Rey knocks on his door once, and doesn’t even give him the opportunity to invite her in before she’s pushed the door open. She closes it quickly behind her, trapping them in this tiny, terribly ventilated room together. 

 

His brow is furrowed and his mouth is set and he looks almost annoyed that she’s in there. She can’t let that hinder her plan, though. 

 

“Uh...I have some some paperwork for you to sign. For Kaydel. She was busy, so she asked me to…”

 

He still says nothing, and impatiently gestures to the space in front of him and picks up a pen.

 

She doesn’t drop it in front of him, though. Instead, she circles around his desk to stand next to him.

 

He stiffens, like a cat under threat, expecting an attack.

 

She holds the folder in front of his face, and he pulls it gently from her hands. He opens Kay's work and begins to skim the abstract. He mindlessly flips through the first few pages.

 

“Where…where do I need to sign?” His voice sounds worn, rough, like he’s been talking all day. But she’s so pleased to hear it, and so pleased that he’s talking to her.

 

Rey leans over him a little, her arm gently brushing his, and she flips through a few more pages.

 

“Here,” she says, pointing to the dotted line at the bottom of the page.

 

“Anywhere else?”

 

“Yes,” she purrs—or at least, she tries to—and flips through a couple more pages of the packet. She points to another dotted line and can’t help but notices her short nails and torn cuticles. She has to force herself not to be self-conscious about it.

They go through the rest of the work together, and by the time she’s on the final page, their faces are quite close to each other. She can smell him so clearly. The citrus, the Irish Spring, and the slightly chemical twinge of a blocker. Is he still taking them?

 

She notices his eyes aren’t scanning the pages of Kay’s document anymore. They are instead completely and utterly fixated on her neck. 

 

She brushes her hair behind her ears and leans a little closer. She wants to give him a better view.

 

She’s about to say his name. About to try to have the conversation now that she has his full and undivided attention.

 

But a knock on the door interrupts them. Because of course Poe Dameron thought this would be the best time to bring his new boss some coffee. 

 

Ben swallows and then blinks like he’s coming out of a spell. And then he tears his gaze from her and she knows she’s lost him again. He calls Poe in, closes the manila folder, and slides it over to her. 

 

“Soloooooo! I thought you’d like another cuppa Joe!” Poe pushes in and sets a Starbucks cup on Ben’s desk. “Sorry,  Johnson, none for you.”

 

“Shut up, Poe,” she mutters as she pushes past him.

 

* * * * *

 

Ben doesn’t leave his office once for the rest of the afternoon. And as hard as she tries, she can’t find another excuse to walk back in there.

 

He’s busy. And she needs to respect that, as much as it kills her to leave things unsaid.

 

She’s feeling absolutely defeated. And embarrassed. She should’ve never tried to seduce him. She shouldn’t have consumed seven cups of Red Ginseng. She shouldn’t have worn this stupid skirt or taken extra time on her hair. This is just not her style.

 

Although, she doesn’t really know what her style is. Her past relationships have been quick, the longest one lasting only three months. And she was never really sad to see them go. Up until a week ago, she would’ve been happy just to dismiss Ben Solo and act like nothing ever happened. But then she very inconveniently realized she liked him and entered into a whole new territory. 

 

When the carpool crew gathers behind her to leave,  she pulls on her coat and starts to gather her things. Ready to go home and bury herself under her comforter.

 

It's not until Poe mentions Luke's retirement party that she remembers they had all planned to go to that tonight.

 

Her eyes flick to Ben's office, and the light streaming from under his door helps her form one last idea.

 

“Go on without me,” she says, sitting back down in her chair. “I, uh, have to respond to an inquiry. I’ll just walk.” 

 

She sees Poe roll his eyes. “Seriously, Rey? This again?" he asks. "It’s almost dark out and it’s like 15 degrees, you can’t—"

 

“Shut up, Poe,” Rose snaps, a small, knowing smirk on her face. “Let’s go.” 

 

The tiny woman drags the boys out of the office, and Rey sits at her desk, bundled in her jacket, and waits patiently for Ben to come out.

 

He takes forever. It’s like he wants her to roast out here in her winter clothes. She thinks about taking her jacket off, and making herself comfortable. She might as well get some more work done if she 

 

But then his door opens. She flies out of her chair and approaches him from behind, giving him a little fright.

 

“You’re still here?” He asks as they stand in front of the lifts. His tone is cool, collected--giving nothing away.

 

“Uh, yes. Had to get some stuff done. Important stuff. Couldn’t leave until now.”

 

He side-eyes her skeptically, and continues his way to the lift.

 

She pushes the down button, and they side by side, eerily reminiscent of last week. For a moment she worries that he’ll take revenge on her. This is the perfect opportunity. And maybe he should run down the stairs and ditch her up here like she did to him. But he doesn’t. He stands next to her quietly. Patiently.

 

They walk into the garage together, and he heads straight for his car. And she follows him, like an idiot. Because he hasn’t exactly offered her a ride, has he? She stops short of the Falcon and looks around the empty garage.

 

“Did you…not drive today?” He asks, hesitantly. 

 

“Oh, no,” she admits. “Poe did.”

 

Ben’s face scrunches.

 

“And he just left without you?”

 

“I guess so,” she tries to shrug nonchalantly. “I can walk. It’s not that far.” 

 

He doesn’t say anything. And for a second she worries that he won’t offer to drive her. That she really will have to walk those three blocks in the cold.

 

But he sighs and grumbles “get in,” before he himself falls into the driver’s seat.

 

As soon as she’s in, she makes sure there isn’t a moment of silence between them. Partially because she doesn't want any awkwardness, and partially because it smells so good that she tries to keep her brain from straying. 

 

So she immediately starts doting over the car. Which is what she wanted to do the other day, but never really got the opportunity. The drive to Ach-To isn’t long, though, and he sharply cuts off her ramblings as soon as they are in the parking lot.

 

“What is with you today?” He asks.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“You’re acting weird. You’ve been acting weird all day.”

 

She’s not surprised to hear it, but it still hurts.

 

“I just…I was trying to be nice to you.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Do I need a reason to be nice to you?”

 

“It’s just that you usually aren’t.”

 

“Right,” she admits. And he is right. She hasn’t been nice to him. She just…never really thought he noticed. He’s not exactly Mr. Cheerfull all the time himself. Maybe she thought him impenetrable. Emotionless. And that’s why she never really considered that he has feelings too.

 

“Is it because I’m going to be your boss?” He asks. She discerns a little hesitance in his words, like he doesn’t want to know the answer.

 

“You’re already my boss.”

 

“You know what I mean.”

 

“I just—I should’ve—I don’t know, I just think maybe I should’ve given you a chance before. I should’ve tried become your friend much sooner. It would’ve saved us a lot of this.” She gestures to the space between them, like there’s a physical manifestation of their discomfort with each other there.

 

Ben purses his lips and nods. He mutters the word “friend” to himself, and laughs a little bitterly. 

 

“What’s wrong?” She asks. She thought she’d said the right thing.

 

“Nothing,” he says. But she knows he doesn’t mean it.


“No, tell me. We need to talk!” she demands. 

 

“I feel stupid, Rey!” He’s never really yelled at her before, so she’s a bit taken aback.

 

“Why?”

 

“I’ve spent months trying to win you over. I wanted you to like me. Or to at least just to tolerate me. And you’ve done everything in your power to make sure I couldn’t get in a five foot radius of you. And so I thought, fine, she doesn’t like me. I’ll move on. But then I finally get you, and I really thought that maybe I was wrong. Maybe I didn’t completely fuck it up. Maybe she feels it too. I had hope. But I can see now that it didn’t mean anything to you. I feel like an idiot! And I’m just embarrassed. And you definitely haven’t made it any easier with all your antics today.”


She gapes at him. Is she really so socially inept that she missed all the signs? That she lead him to believe that sharing her heat nothing? She kissed him. She shared her food! Is he so socially inept that he can’t tell when a woman is trying to seduce him? 

 

“Let’s just got inside,” he mutters.

 

He unbuckles, shuts his car off, and pulls himself out of the car at lightening speed. Rey almost strangles herself in the seatbelt in her rush to go after him.

 

She barges into the bar after him, running into Snap’s back and nearly knocking Bazine’s blue drink onto her blouse. She searches for his dark head, but he’s completely disappeared into the crowd—which is impressive for someone so tall and domineering.

 

She spots Rose, Finn, Poe, and Kaydel all canoodling over at a table in the very corner of the bar. She goes to them, and Rose and Finn immediately clock her distress. Poe does not.

 

“I can’t believe you really walked!” He laughs.

 

“Shut up, Poe,” Finn says. He and Rose gesture for her to sit on their side of the table.

 


“You okay?” They ask, almost in unison.

 

“Absolutely not,” she grumbles.

 

“You want me to buy you a drink?” Finn asks, already getting out of his chair.

 

“Definitely.”

 

Once she’s sat down, she finally spots him standing near the bar. God he’s fucking unbelievable. How can he just talk with Luke and Snap and look so unbothered? 

 

She tries to be sociable. She tries to drink the very delicious-looking appletini Finn so kindly purchased for her, but can only get down a few sips. She tries to dance with her friends when their favorite ABBA tunes come on, but runs out of energy quite quickly. She tries to participate in a little bar game, but she can’t focus, and keeps losing. Because she spends most of the night glancing across the room at stupid Ben Solo talking to their stupid coworkers. 

 

She can’t enjoy herself. Not like this. Not when so much needs to be said.

 

So when sees him disappear down the hall with the bathrooms, she follows him. She stands in the blissfully empty corridor, leaning against the wall, and waits.

 

As soon as he’s pushed the door open, she says “It didn’t mean nothing to me.” 

 

She makes him jump for the second time this evening. When he spots her, he clenches his jaw and rolls his eyes.

 

“Well you have a funny way of showing it,” he says.

 

“I have a funny way of showing it? Me? How about you!”

 

Their argument is stifled when D'Acy emerges from the women's room, and walks between them. 

 

“What about me?” he says lowly, getting into her space, pinning her closer to the wall.

 

“You say you’ve spent months trying to win me over. But I don’t remember anything of the sort. All I remember from the very moment you came to Resistance were your snide comments about my work and you acting like my entire existence is a nuisance! Even in the carpool you couldn’t be arsed to look up from your phone and engage with anyone!”

 

“I don’t know how to talk to people, Rey! I never really have but I’ve been working on it! It’s not a good excuse, but believe me when I say I thought I was being complimentary. I thought I was being helpful. And the carpool…don’t even get me started on the carpool.”

 

“What about the carpool?” She demands. He scoffs at her, like it’s supposed to be obvious. “No, really. What?”

 

“The second I got in that car you acted like I was a leper. You made it very clear you didn’t want me there, even though your body was saying something different. And if I hadn’t found a way to distract myself during those car rides, I probably would’ve tried to mount you right there, in front of all your friends, which wasn’t exactly the impression I was trying to make. You have no idea what your scent does to me, Rey. ”

 

Oh. Oh. That…that makes sense. He was suffering just like the was. Rose did say she had to give him an emergency blocker, too.

 

“I just don’t understand you, Rey. Wasn’t it you who said you wanted to pretend this never happened?”

 

“I…I suppose I did, but I only said that because I thought that’s what you wanted!”

 

“When did I give you that impression?”

 

“Well, when you suggested it, I just assumed—“

 

“That’s your problem, Rey. You’re always assuming things about me. Jumping to conclusions. You create these narratives in your head about everyone to justify you keeping your distance. I only ever suggesting keeping things professional because you insisted nothing was going to change. You said that, so I gave you an out and you took it.”

 

“That—That was a mistake. I was…scared.” 

 

She doesn’t have a good defense. She did do that. She did. And she fucking regrets it now. Especially seeing how much grief it’s caused. They shouldn’t be shouting each other in public, at a work event, with “Mr. Brightside" blasting in the background. Nothing about this is right. 

 

“What are you so afraid of?” He asks, his voice gentle. When she looks up at his eyes, she’s elated to see at how they’ve softened. How intent they are.

 

She’s afraid of a lot. She’s afraid of letting him in. Getting her heart broken. Not knowing how to recover from it. 

 

She’s afraid of giving up control. Of giving herself to someone so wholly. Of being a stereotypical Omega who falls for an Alpha and lets him dominate her life. 

 

It is hard for her to even admit this even to herself, much less him. So she stands there a little speechless, and he talks before she can make up her mind.

 

“Figure that out, Rey, and then we’ll talk about being friends.”

 

He tries to walk away from her again, but she grabs his arm and pulls him back to her.

 

“No,” she says. “You are going to listen to me.”

 

He looks stunned at this, maybe a little intrigued, but he doesn’t argue.

 

“I can’t take back anything I’ve said or done now. But I can apologize. I know I am not always easy to deal with, okay? I know that. I’m sorry I made you feel like I didn’t want you or like it was a mistake to let you help me through my heat. I’m sorry. I did want you there. I wanted you to stay, but I didn’t know how to ask for it. I have some things to work on, too, you know. I'm not perfect.” 

 

His scent shifts. It sweetens, almost. And he looks like he’s going to kiss her for a second, his head bobs towards her. But then he moves his head back and works his jaw, pressing his lips together tightly as if he’s trying to control them.

 

But she wants to kiss him. So she does. She grabs his shirt collar and pulls him down to her and places a desperate, wet kiss on his lips.

 

He responds to her, gives into her only for a second. But then he stops her. And he dips his head into his chest, sighs deeply. He shakes it ever so slight before pushing himself off the wall, leaving her standing there, alone and confused.

 

She walks slowly out of the corridor, and watches from across the bar as he grabs his coat and scarf from a table and leaves. And she’s so fucking sick of watching him walk away from her. So she runs to her table, grabs her things, says rushed goodbyes to Rose and co, and follows him out. 

 

She yells out his name, and he stops still next to his car. He stays still as she approaches.

 

“Why do you even like me?” It sounds so juvenile, but she’s desperate to know.

 

After everything, how could he still want someone like her? She’s rude and messy and insecure. And he’s so...put together. It makes no sense. 

 

She doesn’t expect him to look so sad when he turns around, but he does. He looks devastated. He shakes his head, almost like he doesn’t know, like he’s never really thought about it.

 


“Because…you’re brilliant. And passionate. And beautiful. And from the moment I met you I just knew you were meant to be in my life. Call it instinct. I don’t know.”

 

She shuffles her feet across the pavement, not sure how to respond. She feels the same way about him, and she's embarrassed at how long it took her to get there. From the beginning, there was no denying that they were compatible. Not in personality at first, but certainly in their biology. 

 

“What do you want from me, Rey?” He just sounds so fucking exhausted. And God so is she.

 

“I—I just want to be happy.”

 

That answer seems to surprise him. Maybe he was expecting something a bit more direct. Or maybe more callous. He probably didn’t expect her to admit, out loud, that she was an unhappy person.

 

“And…you think you could be happy with me?”

 

“Yes,” she says, and she means it. She knows it. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all night, you idiot. I just want to be with you. If you would’ve just—"

 

She doesn’t get to finish her sentence because he surges forward and grabs her face, pulling her lips to his. 

 

“Okay, then,” he says, pulling her head back so he can look straight into her eyes. Her soul. “I’ll be with you, Rey.”

 

She thinks he whispers always against her lips, but maybe it’s just her hopeful imagination.

 

His mouth meet hers again, but this time far more urgently. He moves his hands from her face down to her waist, and presses them together. She prods him with her tongue to get him to open up—she wants to taste more of him. She wants more of him.

 

Her hips begin to grind on his thigh, and his pelvis responds by grinding into her stomach. They back into his car, and lean against it for more leverage.

 

"God, you smell so fucking good," he moans, his words jolting with the rhythm of his hips. She thinks about the liter of red ginseng she consumed today, and blushes a little. Not that that is any more embarrassing than what they are doing now.

 

If anyone were to look out the windows of the bar right now, they would see Ben Solo basically dry humping Rey Johnson on top of his car like a horny teenager. The embarrassment eludes her, and instead the thought is kind of thrilling-- it sends a little shiver up her spine.

 

“You’re freezing,” he says, pulling back. He cups her face again, warming up her cheeks and nose. She hadn’t even notice the cold until now—her heavy panting breaths making clouds in the night air. 

 

He pulls her closer, burying her face in his scarf to keep it warm. She wraps her arms around him, hugging him, rocking him a little. He has one hand pressed firmly against the back of her head, as if to keep it warm. The other explores the back of her neck, stroking her gland and sending pleasurable shock waves throughout her body.

 

“Come home with me,” he says, sounding so hopeful. There’s still hesitance in his voice—or maybe it’s disbelief. 

 

She extracts her face from his warm scarf to look up at him. His eyes are wide and optimistic. 

 

She nods.

 

He takes no time to make his next move. His hands leave her head, and he opens the passenger-side door. He ushers her in and runs to the other side to get in the drivers seat. He takes off so quickly she practically gets whiplash. 

 

The drive back to his is filled with anticipation. She keeps her hand on his thigh the whole way, squeezing it when she’s feeling particularly boisterous. He grunts when she does it, which only makes the situation in her panties worse, but she can’t stop herself. He's hers.

 

As soon as they've arrived at his house, and the garage door has closed behind them, Rey decides she can’t wait any longer.

 

She’s not going to waste any more time. They’ve already wasted so much.

 

She practically launches herself into the back seat.

 

The Falcon X is quite spacious. This will do just fine, she thinks.

 

He just stares at her, a little bewildered, probably thinking “surely this madwoman doesn’t want to fuck in the back of my $100,000 car."

 

But oh how she does.

 

So she sits back and spreads her legs Basic Instinct-style so he can get a full view of her wet knickers. She kicks off her booties, and then lifts her leg to poke his shoulder with her hosed foot.

 

He captures that foot. He gently brushes her heel with his thumb, and stares at it lustfully for just a moment he launches himself at her. He fumbles over the seat after her, losing his coat and just one shoe on the way. 

 

Ben immediately takes charge, repositioning them to lay across the seats. He straddles her thighs, trapping her legs together, making her squirm, desperate for friction. He starts to undress her.

 

He pulls her coat off. Her turtleneck. Her bra. He hikes her skirt further up her hips because he can’t seem to find the zipper, and she’s too blissed out to tell him. He hits his head on the car roof when he sits back to pull her tights off, so he just rips them instead, then pulls her panties off. He throws everything in a careless pile on the drivers seat. 

 

He half undresses himself. His trousers and briefs fall down to his knees, because he’s huge and doesn’t have the room to comfortably pull them off without wasting precious seconds. His erect member bobs in her face and Rey can’t help but think it’s gotten bigger since the last time she saw it. 

 

Then he he pulls off his tie, and Rey helps him unbutton his dress shirt, though neither of them bother to push it off his arms. She runs her hands up his smooth chest, marveling at his pale, marble physique. 

 

He spreads her legs and lifts her hips, pulling them flush with his as slides himself into her with ease. She’s so incredibly wet and her walls clamp around him like a vise. It’s been less than a week since they’ve done this, but she feels like it’s been way too long since they’ve done this.

 

“Fuck,” she hisses as he starts to move.

 

He pumps in and out of her, hard and fast, but still so gloriously smooth. His pace is panicked almost. Frenzied. He keeps his eyes on hers and gazes down at her like she’s something precious. But there’s a hint of fear there, as if he’s worried she’ll disappear if he stops looking. 

I won’t, she tries to tell him with her own eyes. I won’t leave you, I promise. 

 

She takes a moment to cradle his cheek with her palm to comfort him. He leans into it, then kisses it before she moves it to his shoulder. 

 

He lifts one of her legs up onto his shoulder, pushing him in further, but it starts to put strain on her neck. She moans—and not in a good way—when his frenzied thrusts start to push her head into the door. Her neck starts to ache.

 

He notices and throws her an apologetic look. He pulls out of her, and quickly repositions them.

 

He flips her onto her stomach and lets her adjust herself onto her knees. He keeps one of his knees on the seat, and the other on the floor. She braces herself against the door and arches her back as pulls her hips back and reenters her. It's a long, and agonizingly wonderful feeling.

 

He slouches over her, getting deeper than she ever thought possible. She reaches back and tangles one of her hands in his hair, desperately pawing at his face to get it closer to hers. He grabs her jaw and angles her face so he can kiss her. 

 

“God you smell fucking amazing,” he moans against her mating gland. He starts to suckle on it, and she cries out.

 

"One day," he whispers against her neck, licking the gland there. Whether he's saying it to her or himself, she doesn't know. But she hopes it's a promise.

 

He runs his hands up to her breasts, pinching and playing with her over-sensitive nipples. It sends a jolt of fire down to her core and it's like she loses her grip on reality.

 

“Ben,” she moans. “Ben, Ben, Ben.” 

 

The sound of his name coming from her lips seems to spur him to go faster. To please her more. So he pistons inside her, and his fingers start to circle her clit, which makes her clench.

 

"Ah, Fuck. Omega," he moans. "Rey."

 

The divine pressure becomes too much and her body explodes. Her long legs vibrate and shake as she goes through the waves of pleasure. 

 

And then he's coming, too. His hips stutter, completely erratic, and then he moans, dark and deep from his gut.

 

She can feel him twitching, growing inside her, filling her up. And it's so fucking good she thinks she might cry again.

 

They come down from their high, locked together, spooning across the back seat. The car is steamed up with the smell of sex and their scents intertwined. In a lesser car, this might be incredibly uncomfortable. With a lesser man this might be incredibly uncomfortable. 

 

But it’s not uncomfortable. It’s perfect. 

 

“I think…I think I could love you," she says, though she doesn't know why she says it like that. It just slips out.

 

She hopes he understands her meaning. She hopes he understands that this is her way of saying she wants to be with him. She wants to try new things with him—including love. But that she can't promise anything just yet.

 

She is opening her heart to him. 

 

“I think I’m already halfway there,” he responds softly, sweetly. There's no expectation in his voice. Just contentedness.

 

He starts stroking her stomach, and placing eager, open-mouthed kisses across her shoulders and neck.

 

And then she starts to laugh. And then he joins her. She doesn't know why they are laughing--maybe it's because they've both been so ridiculous. Because they could’ve been doing this for a while if they had just talked to each other instead of making stupid assumptions. 


But they can’t change that now. And so they laugh. And it’s joyous and deep and she thinks that maybe this is what it feels like to be happy. Truly happy. 

 

And God it feels good.

 

* * * * *

 

Rey doesn't think anything could have matched the happiness she felt during her weekend spent at Ben's place, in his house, in his arms.

 

That is, until she sees Poe's bewildered face on Monday morning.

 

She gets kind of a truly sick glee from the abject confusion on Poe Dameron’s face when they pull up in Ben's Falcon. It was her turn to drive, so she’s quite sure he expected her to pull up to their usual spot in her Countryman.

 

Rose and Finn are already in the back, and thank God they didn't notice any odd smells or stains as they slid in this morning. The two of them bully Poe into getting in between them.

 

"Woah. Ben. I didn't realize you were carpooling with us again," he says, as he squeezes himself into his seat. At least the Falcon has a seatbelt for him.

 

“He’s joining on a more permanent basis. We all decided, remember?” Rey says, unable to suppress a cheeky smile.

 

"When did we decide this? I don't remember that."

 

"Check your texts. I'm sure it's in there." Poe pulls his phone out and begins to search his texts-- not realizing she's throwing his words from a few weeks ago right back at him.

 

She, Rose and Finn all break into a giggle fit as he accuses them of having a separate group chat without him. 

 

Ben laughs, too, and then goes to move the joystick into drive. Rey places her hand on his. He takes hold of it, pulling it to his lips and kissing her knuckles. 

 

“Wait…" Poe interjects from the back, pausing his rant. He's staring at their entwined hands, brows knit, face dripping with confusion. "When did this happen?”

 

“Oh my God Poe, you’re so dumb,” Rose says, slapping him gently in the chest, laughing.

 

“Yeah, keep up, man,” Finn says.

 

Rey and Ben smile at each other—amused at her friends arguing and laughing in the back seat like a bunch of children. And in that moment Rey knows that she doesn’t need to protect her heart anymore. It’s in safe hands. 

Chapter Text

Rey Johnson has found that she doesn’t mind being in the passenger seat sometimes. 

 

Especially if it’s the passenger seat of a Falcon X.

 

Especially if it’s her boyfriend driving said Falcon X.

 

Especially if her boyfriend is driving said Falcon X on a balmy, summer Friday evening on their way home from work.

 

She loves Fridays. She’s always loved Fridays—who doesn't? But she’s loved them so much more since she and Ben Solo started dating.

 

Because on Fridays, they don’t join the carpool.

 

On Fridays they wake up extra early together. They drive up to Junari Point, run two kilometers and watch as the sun comes up. Then they go home and shower—usually together—and get ready for work at a leisurely pace. 

 

They check in on each other all day. They leave stupid little notes on each other's desks. They eat lunch in the break room with their friends. At first they tried private lunches in Rey’s office—which is Ben’s old one she earned after her promotion—but they decided it was best not to after Finn caught them in a slightly compromising position. That prompted a very uncomfortable visit to HR. Rose could barely contain her laughter.

 

Then they leave the office a little early (one of the perks of dating the boss) and go on a date.

 

Sometimes they go out to dinner. Sometimes they see a film. Sometimes they meet up with Rose and Finn, and even Leia on occasion. 

 

But her favorite Friday activity is taking long drives around Chandrila in the Falcon, which is what they decided to do today.

 

She rolls down her window and rests her head on her arm, letting the warm wind whip into her face and roll through her hair.  

 

She sneaks glances at him every few minutes, just to check that he’s still real. That she hasn’t just imagined the past year and a half of her life.

 

Her heart still leaps when she looks at his beautiful, strong profile.

 

She loves him. He loves her.

 

The confessed that to each other only a few months into dating. 

 

It happened on a Sunday afternoon. She was curled up on his couch, reading, and he was doing a puzzle a few feet away from her at the kitchen table. It was all very peaceful. Domestic. The sun was streaming through the windows, and the room was comfortably silent.

 

She was starting to get tired of her book, and she took to peeking over the rim of it every few minutes to look at him, hoping he’d be winding down his intense puzzling and they could do something else.

 

But he was just as focused as ever. She’s always liked watching him work, though, so she decided to lay her book flat on her chest and just observe her Alpha. 

 

He was haunched over the table, eyes scanning the pile of ridiculously small puzzle pieces for the right one. His glasses would slide down his nose every minute like clockwork, and he would mindlessly push them back up with his index finger and sigh. She didn't know why she found it so endearing, but the gesture made her heart swell.

 

“I love you,” she blurted out, breaking the silence. 

 

And it felt so natural to say. 

 

It felt so right. 

 

She’d never been so sure of something in her life.

 

But he didn’t even look up from the puzzle. 

 

She thought maybe he didn’t hear her. She thought about saying it again, or just smothering herself with a decorative pillow instead. But then he spoke up.

 

“I know,” he responded, his voice casual.

 

She blanched.

 

“I know?” She repeated his tone, incredulously. “That’s all you have to say? I just told you I love you, Ben! I’ve never told anyone that before!”

 

“I know,” he said again.

 

Oh and how she saw red.

 

She jumped up from the sofa, book falling to the ground. She couldn’t believe how flippant he was being. She was ready to stomp out of the room—about to get her keys and drive back to her place. She was going to ignore him for hours, maybe even days, until he found a way to make this slight up to her.

 

But then she saw the little smirk on his face.

 

“Are you trying to get under my skin?”

 

“Maybe,” he said. He finally looked up at her, and his smile only grew bigger. 

 

She grumbled, and then sauntered over to him. He stopped his puzzling to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her in for a hug. He rested his head against her stomach and stroked her back. The gesture, his scent, the closeness to him—it all made her anger melt away.

 

“God, you’re infuriating sometimes.” She sighed, running her hands through his hair.

 

“I know,” he said again, and she couldn’t resist pulling on his hair a little.

 

He laughed and started to nuzzle her stomach. Started to lift her shirt with his nose and mouth at her bare skin.

 

“I just like the way you smell when you get all riled up,” he murmured against her rib. 

 

He then pulled her down onto his lap and drew her face towards his to plant a sweet kiss on her lips. He pulled back and looked her in the eyes, face soft, but slightly serious.

 

“I love you, too,” he said finally, and placed his head in the crook of her neck, nosing at her mating gland.

 

The words found their way deep into her soul. They made her feel light and pure. Because no one’s really said that to her before, either. Not that she can remember, anyway.

 

And because she knew he meant it. 

 

And she knows he means it still.

 

He says it to her every morning when they wake up. Every night before bed. Every time they have to part—even if it’s just for a few hours.

 

Rey Johnson knows love. 

 

She knows what platonic love is with her friends—though it took her a while to recognize it. It was there all along, but she just didn’t how to accept it. She didn’t know how to properly return it. 

 

She knows what romantic love is with Ben Solo. It didn’t take her long to get there—it was almost instinctual to love him. It was a little tough, at first, trying to understand each other’s love language. Neither of them had much experience with romantic partnership before each other. But they caught on quickly. And she has no doubt in her mind that one day she’ll call him her husband. The father of her children. Her mate. There’s no other way around it. He is hers. She is his. They belong to one another.

 

And Rey knows what it is to love herself, now—though that was a much longer journey. One that took hours and hours of talking about her mother, the foster system, her designation, and the insecurities and obsessive desire for control that manifested as a result of it all.

 

It was difficult getting here. To this place in her life. To the passenger seat in the car of her once sworn enemy, now lover. To happiness.

 

And she knows the journey probably isn’t over—that she’ll probably always have to wrestle with demons and work on herself.

 

But it will be worth it.

 

Because what a wonderful thing it is to be so happy.