Whoever thought it was a great idea to go out and get wasted is a straight up dumbass.
Ben loves Rey. He really does. He would cut off his left limb for her with no hesitation, he had secretly dedicated a part of him to mark her name in permanent ink, filled the perfect role of being her roommate and protector. He loves her to pieces, don’t get him wrong, but she had such a backwards definition of unwinding when he told her she needed to relax.
After assisting on a thirty three hour surgery for a group of dedicated surgeons, she deserved nothing but a full day’s rest. He promised he’d take care of her this time.
Except Rey insisted in going out instead.
“I miss the feeling of getting drunk, Ben. Let’s go out!”
“Come on! Even my friends are down. You can invite your buddies too! It’ll be fun!”
“Ugh, I won’t throw up on you like last time, I promise! Let’s just go out for one drink.”
For a week she persisted and for another more, he finally relented.
How and why?
The answer is simple; because he’d do anything for this woman and it should be unnerving, how much power she had over him, no one could get under his skin or handle him below the surface level like she does, but fuck it. If it’s getting drunk she wants, it’s getting drunk she’s going to get.
But, “There are conditions, Rey.”
She pouted like an ill-behaved child he just reprimanded, simply crossing her arms over her chest in defiance, but also willing to listen to him as she kept from talking.
“I choose where we go and you stick by me at all times,” He can’t have her prance about anywhere in the neighborhood in the dead of night, especially if she ends up hanging out in rival territory. “But most of all, you don’t take drinks from strangers. You got that?”
On the off side, those weren’t hard conditions to disagree on. Knowing Ben, she knows how he despised being too controlling, that’s not who he is. If anything, he just wants to give her the best night out experience a girl could ask for.
However, she had to keep up her straight face.
“That’s all fair. But I have conditions too.”
Negotiations were never his thing. That’s what Hux is good for when being diplomatic or allying reigns over violence and territorial pursuit. But he also can’t deny that he’s mildly intrigued, his interest piquing.
He raises her a brow.
“Invite your buddies and I get to call what time we leave.”
They shook hands on it.
And now, Ben is anxiously getting dressed in his room, already wearing his usual dark jeans, but still shirtless. He is shoulders deep in his closet, looking for a flattering shirt. Because yes, while he disagrees on Rey’s plans for tonight, that doesn’t mean he can’t use it as an excuse to get better dressed.
After all, he can pretty much hear Rey’s excitement from the opposite wall of his room. She’s getting ready with Rose, doing what girls do, which Ben knew nothing about. He’s still struggling to find something that isn’t just a solid black or a muted gray.
“You have the most depressing wardrobe I’ve ever seen.” remarked Hux, who has been anything but helpful, sitting cross-legged on the edge of his bed while casually scrolling through his phone.
Ben groaned in complaint. He was never one to go out to bars anyway, never felt it was necessary to have an array of clothing outside of what he usually wears, which is simple enough for every day, add his leather jacket and he's already complete. But part of him thinks he should follow through Rey's request of 'wanting to see him in colors'.
"Have you got anything helpful to say or are you going to continue being useless?"
"Paper bag in the living room. Get it." Hux supplied without looking up from his screen.
Exasperated from his fruitless endeavor, he didn't question his friend's words as he retrieved a not so conspicuously-looking, large paper bag sitting on the edge of the coffee table.
It's probably just more detachable magazines for his pistol-
"You had this all along and you didn't bother to tell me right away?" He gaped at Hux, feeling betrayed.
This time, the bastard actually looked up with the actual nerve to smirk at him.
"It's fun seeing you stress about what to wear for Rey."
Honestly, Hux found it entertaining that the guy currently glaring at him is the complete juxtaposition of the guy who unflinchingly broken an informant's arm with his bare hands for betraying them quite recently. There had been bits and pieces showing Kylo's humanity even before he moved in with Rey, but after the fact, their leader paled in comparison. He has gotten more... Laid back. Cool-headed. Dare he say it, at peace? Rey’s positive effect had a huge impact on them too, but he would never admit it out loud though.
Ben grumbled something unintelligible before pulling out his different choices into one messy lump in his hands.
He picks them apart one by one, grimacing on a few questionable pieces indignantly, because there’s no way he’s fucking wearing a pretentious mustard yellow turtleneck or a solid neon pink shirt that’s a sight for sore eyes.
In the end, he chose the most decent from the pile. A light washed denim dress shirt that surprisingly fitted him perfectly.
“How do you even know that this would fit?” He cannot hide his impressive tone as he relieved the two top buttons opened, rolling the sleeves lazily over his elbows.
“Oh, Rose just chose the largest size. It’s all purely coincidental.”
He rolls his eyes, unsurprised over the woman’s involvement.
After examining his appearance on the mirror of his closet, a natural frown gives way on his face.
“I look ridiculous.” It was a silly thought. He was never bothered by his looks, had long accepted the fact that he is intimidating by nature, which was a distinct advantage on what he does. But right now, he looks like he was desperately trying to pass as a terrible undercover substitute, a delinquent trying to be normal.
Hux sighed loudly, already tired of Ben’s weird tendency to brood and sulk in better days such as this one.
“For once, you actually look normal.” He scoffed, but actually felt the need to reassure the man.
“Rey might actually like it.” Hux glanced over his wrist watch. The time read 9:27. “Now let’s go call the girls. We’ll be late if we don’t tell them to hurry.”
With a final glance over, Ben sauntered out of his room, lagging behind Hux, who’s rapping a knuckle at Rey’s adjacent door.
“Hey, we’re leaving in five minutes! You two better be dressed already.”
“Just a second!” hollered Rose from the other side.
She was halfway giggling at Rey’s slightly puckered expression. Her best friend was never a fan of makeup nor dressing up in general, which is such a shame because she’s practically a doll to Rose she enjoyed playing with. She was glad to have forced the brunette to wear this cute emerald green dress with thin straps that's just hanging dormant in her closet, it perfectly highlights her long legs and slim frame. She looks gorgeous!
“I’m so scared. You’re going to poke my eye with that—that thing!” Rey stared at the mascara wand as if offended by its mere existence, leaning back to put more distance between them.
“Relax, sunshine. The sooner we can get this done, the sooner we can leave. They’re already waiting for us. Come on,” Rose just thought it would be so pretty for Rey to have an extra thickness to her lashes to make her irises pop, she is blessed by mesmerizing hazel eyes after all.
Ben would definitely trip over himself.
That’s the goal.
Sighing in resignation, Rey reluctantly pushes herself forward, concentrating on not flinching as Rose did her thing.
“Why do you enjoy torturing me?” Rey whined, earning an eye roll from her friend as she coated her right lashes.
“It’s just makeup. Nothing to be dramatic over.”
“You say while you’re close to poking my eyeball.”
Rose shrugs it off with a dismissive hand. “It’s just a small sacrifice.”
Thankfully, her former roommate is done with her eyes, but not with the rest of her face as she grabbed a cylindrical crystal bottle with a smaller wand this time, which is ten times less intimidating.
The pink gloss glides through her lips wetly, smacking them a couple of times at the unusual texture. Rey was still trying to figure out whether she liked it or not when Rose peered at her with intrigue.
“Hux told me Ben’s taking us to Starkiller,”
At the mention of the infamous bar, Rey can’t help herself from grinning widely.
“I know,” She screamed Ben’s ear off when he told her yesterday. “I’ve never been but I heard it’s the hottest bar in town like famous people go there!”
“Very exclusive too! And don’t forget expensive,” Rose giggles lightly. “How did Ben even get us all on the guest list?
“Who knows? Maybe he forged our names in the list or bribed someone.”
Rey’s attempt at humor made Rose pause, somehow. She had dropped what she was doing of making final touches with a fluffy brush.
“Do you have any idea what Ben does for a living?”
She doesn’t question where the conversation is heading. Come to think of it, in two years that she lived with Ben, he was never clear about his job. She can only recall a form of an answer one fine dinner the first time he cooked for her in its impressive fancy glory.
She never followed up since.
“He just told me he runs the family business.”
“Which is?” Rose was looking at her as if she should know the answer.
And she narrows her eyes back.
“I don’t know. Accounting?” She guessed off-handedly, even though she has never seen him wear a crisp suit or any office wear before.
Her friend snorts, pulling back to throw her a more serious look.
“Has it ever occurred to you that Ben might be dangerous?”
Okay, Rey was being ridiculous about the whole accounting thing, but Rose was talking nonsense right then. Suggesting that her roommate is dangerous is just... Unimaginable.
She can’t help the sound of protest in the back of her throat as she naturally takes in a defensive stance.
“That’s ridiculous. Ben wouldn’t hurt a fly,” He’s just a harmless man who lags around their apartment like a hibernating bear. Sure, his steps are heavy and he makes any living space miniature, which are both unintentional anyway. But he's the most harmless guy she knows.
“His favorite movie is the Iron Giant and he cries during the Superman scene every time.” She added to further prove her point.
“That’s fair and all, but I also think your feelings for him cloud your judgment.”
She gasps loudly as she throws Rose a slightly offended look.
“Okay. Rude,” But also accurate.
“Just promise you’ll ask? It shouldn’t take too long, right?”
Frowning, Rey nodded her head.
"If it helps you sleep at night."
She would have to agree anyway if she wants to get Rose off her back. If she doesn't, the persistent woman would just badger her on another day. She loves her best friend, she really does, but tonight of all nights, all she wants to do is be stupid and get recklessly drunk. One night is all she could hope for, then they could all get back to the adult reality of her as a head nurse and Ben as the phantom roommate with an irregular schedule, all while hiding her true feelings for him.
Great. Sounds like a solid plan.
"Now you're smoking." Rose finally concluded as she handed her a round mirror large enough to see her whole appearance.
Rey audibly gasps at the sight. She can't help it. She can barely recognize herself even with the barest amount of makeup dusted on her face, it was still a hundred times better than the half-hearted attempt of a winged eyeliner during a John Mayer concert. But now, she can appreciate her cheekbones and the color of her eyes, Rose is an irreplaceable fairy godmother.
"Oh my god, Rose! I look... Gorgeous!"
"Yeah, you do." Rose smirked, very much pleased with herself. "Now let's go and make the guys drool."
"Wait! Before I forget," Rey grabbed her trusty leather jacket carefully laid out on her desk chair. She folds it over the crook of her arm before unlocking her door, stepping away first just in time to gauge Rose rolling her eyes at her.
"I look forward to the day you stop wearing that thing."
She grins, holding the precious jacket tighter. "Never."
However, her tinkering laughter quickly catches in her throat as soon as she saw the flash of washed up baby blue in the living room. She can't help but do a double take at what she's seeing as she approaches closer. Ben isn't in fact wearing a black shirt, but rather, the softest looking denim dress shirt she has ever seen. And he looks unfairly attractive in it, like that should be questioned. Of course Ben would look good in denim, he can pull off anything.
"What do you think?" He had the audacity to ask, his hands jammed in his jeans with that haughty smirk on his stupidly handsome face. "Not bad for your no black shirt rule?"
"No," Her voice came out as a breathless whisper. "Not bad at all."
Maybe Hux is right. Maybe he's onto something. Maybe Rey does like what she sees. He puffs out more of his chest as he lets his eyes wander, never staying in one place. Rey has always been beautiful to him, but tonight, something about the dress and the hair and makeup pulled a tightness in his rib cage... Amongst other places.
"What about me? What do you think?" She does a cute little twirl for him, the skirt of the short dress slightly billowing flirtatiously and flash him a glorious second of her bare thighs.
Ben's throat visibly bobbed as he swallowed.
"Well I think you're a complete head turner, sweetheart." He winks at her and she follows up with a soft giggle, a faint blush that clearly isn't from the makeup rising from her cheeks.
"Ugh, even we're not that sickening," Hux tells Rose with a groan.
Just like that, his off-handed comment causes the pair's tiny heated bubble to collapse, thrusting them back into the loaded awkwardness between two people who claimed each other as just friends and roommates, trying to mask their obvious flirting with a laughter that sounded much too nervous.
No one buys it.
"Let's just go. I don't want to stay longer and hear how bad you two are at flirting."
"Shut the fuck up–" glared Ben.
"We're not flirting!" exclaimed Rey.
It's been a while since he stepped foot in Starkiller, Hux and the Knights included.
Seems like nothing has changed. Aside from the fact that Ben made sure the staff or anyone who might recognize him won’t call him Kylo Ren, then everything felt the same.
The crowd is still willingly dancing to lyricless club music, booths tucked in corners filled with socialites, the loft open below occupied with VIP rooms for the rich, the famous, and the dangerous. Sometimes, all three. If you can afford the esteemed Red Suite.
Ben had only taken two steps inside and the entire place drastically shifted, like he parted the sea in front of their eyes, it’s a combination between being mortified or admired.
Nothing definitely changed.
The Knights of Ren remains the most well-known even off territory and their notorious leader still has that ice cold effect on anyone.
“Didn’t think the Golden Man had it in him,” Hux stood beside him, unfazed by the unwarranted attention they were getting. He points his head in the direction of the dance floor, from there, Threepio is a sight for sore eyes, embellished in shining gold while doing the robot.
“Where’s Artoo?” Ben asks, looking for the more... Receptive between the two. They usually go together hand-in-hand.
Hux snorts derisively this time before retorting,“Definitely smart enough to save himself from the embarrassment,”
“A shame. Would be good to talk to him,” Maybe he’ll run into him for a smoke break, thank him personally for their recent alliance.
But then, before Ben could voice out his thoughts, his gaze accidentally lands on a distinctive stout man with pre-historic wrinkles on his jowled face. His expression immediately sours as if he can smell the stench of the Hutt’s filth from where he's standing.
“What the fuck is Jabba doing here?” Ben snarled sketchily.
As far as he is concerned, his gang remain neutral around turf wars, but everyone knew better than to trust the Hutts, let alone, strike a deal with them.
“I don’t know but it’s best not to indulge him. It’s always a good tactic to pretend that he doesn’t exist.”
“Ben!” Suddenly, Rey is clutching his arm, bouncing on her feet as she marveled at how amazing Starkiller is, totally oblivious to how she just pulled him from another world completely.
“This is amazing! I’ve never been to a bar this fancy before! I mean—it’s like being in a dark ice palace. I love it! You’re the best!” Without prompt, she flexed herself on her tiptoes, planting a kiss on his cheek.
He immediately turns to face her, and she is just as wide-eyed as he is, like she didn’t know what she was doing. His heart flipped wildly in his chest, thankful that the bass line of the echoing music muted his nerves.
Ben pulls off an easy grin, leaning down to whisper in her ear.
“Why don’t you find us a place to sit? We’ll handle the drinks,”
She almost immediately returns to herself with a radiant smile before nodding and sauntering to her friends. He can’t deny himself the pride that swelled in seeing that she’s already enjoying herself, with Finn, Poe and Rose not far behind.
On the other hand, he, together with his gang head over on the opposite direction, where Phasma, the bar owner is already waiting for them in her own private bar.
“Back so soon?” Ben doesn’t miss the woman’s passive aggressive tone. “Thought you’re done doing official business here?”
“I am. I’m just here with friends.”
Phasma cocks a brow at him before scooting further into the booth to accommodate her two additional guests.
“And that woman is just your friend?”
He wills himself to remain impassive, although he could feel his own face betraying him by heating up deliberately. She definitely saw Rey’s display of affection earlier...
“Believe me, Ben’s been handling the whole friend thing very poorly.”
While he shoots Hux with a threatening look, Phasma’s laughter echoes in all its boisterous glory, embarrassing him further and all he could do in the end, is to try and fold himself smaller, sighing in resignation.
“I have to say, domestic life suits you, Ren.” She says while raising her glass of Cosmopolitan in greeting.
Somewhere a couple of tables down, Rey is watching the whole interaction with a pensive gaze, morbidly curious by what they could be talking about, especially when the blonde woman laughed unapologetically.
“She’s very beautiful.” Rey can’t help but remark. “Like an elegant ancient Roman goddess,” She leaves out the part of how Ben is practically from the same species.
“Jealous already?” Rose teased, although Rey already can’t handle the uneasy tumble in her stomach.
Still, “I’m not. I’m just saying,” She takes another glance to see the guys still wrapped up in their small chat. “They seem to have a history together. The three of them.”
“Um, excuse me?”
A timid voice interrupts their conversation.
A woman, dark-skinned and accommodating, starts lowering different colored drinks from her tray.
“What’s all this for?” She’s only partly suspicious, already enticed by the Margarita while Finn and Poe argued over the only Pina Colada on the table.
“Compliments to Mr. Ren’s guests,” is all the woman says like that answers every problem of the universe. Your toilet clogged? Mr. Ren will take care of it. Lost the TV remote? Mr. Ren got you covered. Mr. Ren. Mr. Ren. Mr Ren.
“It seems like this mysterious entity follows me everywhere,” She huffs in annoyance, but also taking a sip of her drink.
“He does, doesn’t he?”
“It’s not funny.”
“Hey, if it keeps the drinks flowing then just let it happen.” Poe chided, sipping from his hard fought Pina Colada as they fall back into an easy conversation.
It took about three generous sips—no, an entire drink, before Ben and Hux found their table, holding two trays of drinks on their own. Rey automatically brightens upon their approach, standing up to assist the two, but also help herself with another cocktail.
“I told you not to accept drinks from strangers,” Ben clicks his tongue in disapproval, glaring at the empty glass on the table.
“Listen, that Mr. Ren guy’s been giving me a lot of trouble lately. The least he could do is get me a drink,”
“What do you mean?” He asks as he settled down beside her.
“A bartender came here earlier, said they were compliments for his guests,” She brushes off with a dismissive hand. “Listen man, I still don’t know who this guy is, but I’ll take the drinks.” She concludes by clinking her glass with his.
Ben felt an uneasy twist in his stomach.
The night has just begun.