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How To Care For Your Omega

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The third time he comes inside her—the first morning, or maybe it's early afternoon, since Rey quickly loses count after that—he promises to keep her knotted for the rest of her heat.

"That's not possible," she says, even though the way he's filling her—a steady, unending supply of Alpha—shouldn't be possible either.

"You've already been empty too long." He says this matter-of-factly, palms smoothing up and down her spine. His low voice rumbles through her in all the places they're connected, deep and easy with his satisfaction. "The only time you should be empty is when I'm fucking you. So I can knot you again."

The experience of Ben Solo fucking her does not exactly qualify as empty, in Rey's opinion. She leans back and frowns at him, to the great displeasure of her Omega, which longs for her to continue rubbing as much of their skin together as possible. "Doesn't sound very practical."

"You only need to sit in my lap. Just like this." His hands slide down to her hips. Rey doesn't think she'll ever get over the way they encompass her, how easily she fits inside his palms. "I'll take care of the rest."

"But won't we need to—oh—get out of bed, eventually?"

"Don't see how that's relevant."

"How do you plan to knot me if we're not in a bed?"

The next time he fucks her, it's against the window in his giant living room, with nothing beneath her but fifteen flights of air and Ben. He moves her like she's nothing, made weightless in his arms; but his eyes, the way they cling to her face—his eyes hold her like she carries the entire world inside her.

"Doesn't matter where we are," he tells her raggedly, between each breath-stealing, toe-curling thrust. "In my bed. In my bath. In my lap. You belong on my cock, Rey. Just need to spread these pretty thighs and let me take care of it."

Her head tips back against the window. 

She lets him.

------

She lets him do a lot of things. 

Things she never imagined allowing another person to do with her. To her.

She lets him touch her body in ways no other person has ever touched her. He worships the space between her legs, smears his fingers and his tongue and his cock there like he longs to bathe in the obscene amount of slick he rouses from her. Like all her shameful, hidden places have actually been lovely all along. The most precious things in her Alpha’s entire world.

She is the center of his universe, here in his bed.

She lets him touch her in other ways too. Pinching, twisting, scraping touches that leave her breathless and whining in his palms. He scatters pink-purple constellations across her skin, star charts tracing the shape of his nails, his thumbs. His canines. He touches them later, fingers full of regret that turns hot and possessive when she tells him she likes them too. When she asks him (yes Alpha there) to put his teeth to her collar and give her another.

He christens each one with little words—his Rey, his sweetheart, his exquisite, perfect girl. A map of all the ways her Alpha adores her, laid out across her body.

She is remade, beneath his mouth. Or perhaps she is simply rediscovered.

She lets him see her—really, truly see her. Raw and flushed and stripped as naked as she’s ever been before another person. Perhaps even before herself. She lets him bring her to the brink of desperation, until she fears she might go a little mad with it. Until she can’t remember how to breathe her own air, say her own name—until she can’t remember any words that aren’t Alpha and please and Ben please yes Ben.

She lets him pull her back again. 

When her eyes grow wet and her breath stutters and her chest feels close to crumpling (because she feels so much, too much, more than she knew a person was capable of feeling)—she lets him cradle her against his wide, warm chest. A cocoon of safety. Pine and musk. Her Alpha, all around her.

She lets him call her his Omega. Over and over, his Omega, in a thousand different shapes and colors. In her hair. Against her hip. In the buzzing space between their mouths, when she thinks (she fears) he might kiss her.

She might even let him do that too, if he tried.

He doesn’t try. And Rey lets him do it all to her, even the things that feel stretched taut between the ends of too much and too little. The things that make her wonder if he is breaking her heart, or simply taking it forever for himself. 

She finds she is no longer capable of telling the difference.

------

"You like doing that."

Beneath her, his huge body sprawls like a king against his giant headboard. Ben glances up from where he's grasping her wrist, dark eyes half hidden by her twitching fingers. "Doing what?"

"Scenting me."

His mouth presses another slow kiss to the gland below her palm, sending goosebumps rippling across her body. "Is it a problem?"

“No.” Rey doesn't know how she can still feel shy, after all the ways he’s had her. Especially now—naked and sweaty in his lap while his knot pulses steadily into her body. She bites her lip. “I like it."

"I know." His eyelashes flutter, breathing the words against her skin. "I can smell it."

“Because you're an Alpha."

Eyes still closed, he smiles. “Because you’re my Omega.”

It still strikes her stupid, hearing him say that with his knot locked inside. My Omega. Rey knows—she knows—it’s only while she’s in heat. He's told her as much, in no uncertain terms. But the sound of his voice around those two little words will never stop making her dizzy with delight.

Another brush of his lips. “These little glands of yours… They like a lot of things about me."

She snaps out of her stupor long enough to understand he’s edging too close to some dangerous truths. “I wouldn't go that far."

"That won’t work with these, sweetheart.” He taps her twice on her wrist, making her jolt in his lap. “They tell me everything."

“Maybe you’re only hearing what you want to.”

“That’s what I thought too. The day you first showed up at my school." His dark eyes open again, locking on her face. "I could smell it the moment you walked in that room, you know.”

"How insufferable you were?"

"How badly you wanted me to touch you."

Her breath catches. “You couldn’t possibly have known that."

“I thought there wasn't anything for me to know."

"There isn’t.” Her body clenches involuntarily around the cock still filling her. It makes the fingers of his other hand, lazily stroking her waist, dig suddenly into her skin. “I wanted nothing to do with you."

“You wanted me to be your Alpha.”

"Alpha—ah—teaching partner."

He gives her a look that makes her face feel too warm again.

“It doesn’t matter. I didn't want that either."

"Don't lie to me, Rey.” His mouth returns to her gland, breath hot and humid across over-sensitive skin. "You hoped I would be there. In the lecture hall. You were imagining it."

"I was not."

Another look, and her face is even warmer.

"And even if I was, it wouldn't be because I—oh, Ben, that feels—I didn't know you would be my Alpha." 

Rey is sure she didn't include anything in this statement that might be misconstrued for agreement—but something about the sound of these words in her mouth clearly fills him with deep satisfaction. The air thickens, oxygen crowded out by the musky thickness of his pleasure. "Tell me what you thought, then."

"Thought you’d be… observing me."

"Observing you."

"Yes. As a—a trial. With another teaching partner."

Beneath her, Ben goes very still. "With someone else."

“I… suppose you didn’t strike me as much of a teacher.”

“You truly believed that."

His dark eyes spark with a very different energy from the lazy kisses he was just giving her. It makes Rey’s breath come a little faster. “Don’t know why,” she says unsteadily. “Your famously cheerful disposition, perhaps.”

Slowly, he sits up from the headboard, eyes raking over her face. He looms over her like this, wide and powerful and completely in control. Rey's stomach squirms.

“Or your helpful, welcoming nature. It’s the first thing people mention about you, you know.”

“You truly believed I would let anyone else touch you."

She struggles to summon a glare. “As if you’d have any say in the matter.”

Ben flips her onto her back so quickly that her breath rushes out of her lungs in a whoosh. His eyes, rapidly darkening, probe her own. “I wonder if you’d be with another teaching partner right now. Seeing you through your heat.”

Rey's glare comes much more naturally this time. “I wouldn’t even be in heat right now if it weren’t for you.”

“Yes." The word leaves him on half a groan. His hips begin to grind into her again. The sensation of his knot, pressing and pulling at the rim of her entrance, sends her eyes rolling back into her head. “That's right. You did this all for me, didn’t you? My good, good girl.”

Rey wants to tell him she didn’t do any of this—not on purpose, anyway, and certainly not for him. But her mouth is stretched around a high, needy whimper, and she can’t remember how to make it form words properly. Especially once his knot slips loose, and he immediately wraps his hands around her waist and begins to fuck her again—hard, driving thrusts that she can feel all the way in her teeth.

She supposes she can tell him later.

------

There is, after all, more talking than she expected.

Rey’s heats have always been spent alone. She’s never imagined a heat that might be enjoyable, the way Ben described it during their class—never mind one where she might be lucid enough to carry a conversation. 

But it’s different, this time. Ben’s presence here gifts her sweet snatches of lucidity in between. For so many long, wonderful moments, the hot pulse of her Alpha’s relief quiets the roar of the flames that beat and beat inside her—and she finds herself with unfamiliar clarity.

She likes it. The talking. She likes, of course, the way he talks when they’re fucking—all the filthy, urgent things he murmurs in her ear, splitting her body in two, over and over. The ragged edge his voice gets when he’s a moment away from coming, panting in her hair, telling her how well she’s taking her Alpha’s cock: the whole thing, my good girl, look how wide your little hole stretches to fit me.

He could make her come, saying these things. He wouldn’t even need to touch her.

But she likes the talking afterward, too. The sprawling, blissful moments that follow, when there is nowhere for either of them to run while his knot pumps relief (the sweetest drug) into her body. When there’s nowhere for her to look but at his face, gazing back into her own. He looks so soft, in those moments. His dark eyes hold some bottomless, terrifying emotion, and Rey would look away if she could, but there’s simply nowhere else for her to look. Nowhere she could possibly be but here, in his lap, staring back at him. 

She doesn’t look away. 

These moments contain some of their longest conversations to date. He tells her about the scar on his left knuckle, the box of broken things in his closet that he can’t bring himself to fix or throw away. She tells him about how she chose a flat with less space but more windows, about the way she looks out past the blinds and dreams of spreading her arms and flying, forever, straight to the horizon.

“I wouldn’t stop until I get there,” she tells the broad curve of his shoulder, soft against her cheek and pale with the moon that sifts through his curtains.

“And what if it always keeps going?”

“Then I guess I would never stop.”

“Let me go with you,” he tells her, and he sounds so sincere that she needs to remind the tightness in her chest that this is all just pretend.

It’s hard, remembering that. She’s finding she likes the after part—almost as much as she likes the parts before it. And it frightens her. God, how it frightens her. It feels too much like something they could do without a heat in the middle—this easy flow of conversation, the way he meets her banter quip for quip. 

It frightens her, how much she’s finding she likes him.

There are quiet moments, too. Moments without talking or fucking—where they simply sit together and breathe. She curls tight in his lap and listens to the sound of their hearts follow one another back down to earth, and the growing distance between each beat leaves space for her to see him, without the rest of it. Without the scowls, or the sharp words he wields like a broadsword, or all the dirty, distracting things he says while he pleasures her.

There are moments glimpsed between half-closed eyelids, watching him sleep. He must be very tired—her Alpha works so hard to care for her, and he said (her stomach squirms with guilty pleasure) he said he didn’t sleep at all that first night, while he searched for her. He didn’t rest a single moment. He looks even softer, when he sleeps. Nothing like the academy’s most intimidating instructor, the man who scares off students and staff and teaching assistants in droves. She wants to touch the little moles on his jaw, the soft slope of his brow. She wants to nibble on the tip of his massive, perfect nose. 

She wants to see if his lips are as plush as they feel when they’re between her legs, making her squirm; when they’re tracing her glands or her ribs or her eyelids. She wants to sink down on his lap and put her tongue in his mouth and ride him until there is no air left in her, until there is nothing but Ben filling every empty space inside her body.

Then he stirs. His black eyes find her in the dark. Sleep makes his voice deep and rumbly as he reaches for her, fingers arranging her limbs where he wants them. “Shhh. I know, baby. You’re hungry again, aren’t you? Just open your thighs a little, so I can—there we go. Perfect. My perfect girl. Now I’m just going to put it—fuck. How are you still so tight here? I said to hold still, Omega. Yes, I know. It hurts right now, but—fuck—just a little more, and—”

And it begins again.

------

"Another."

Draped back across his lap, Rey whines. The warmth of her Alpha’s broad, firm chest, a wall of sinewy muscle at her back, cradles her. It's not enough. Her belly is starting to ache again, the slow-growing burn of steady oxygen applied to hot coals. 

"Need more," she whimpers.

"You need food." Ben's mouth lines up perfectly with her ear like this, chin nudging her head to the side. "Then you'll get more."

The knot trapping relief in her body for the past thirty-something minutes is beginning to recede. She knows this, of course, from the intensifying burn in her abdomen—but also from the changes she's learning to expect in him too. His hips begin to grind against her thighs, small little jerks that she knows will soon lead to him flipping her onto her back again. Or, since they're in his kitchen, over the table.

There's also his fingers, which grow restless and rough when he doesn't give them something to do. Perhaps that's why he focuses so intently on feeding her. A plump purple grape appears before her face, followed by his fingers, stroking her jaw.

"Another."

"But I—ahh—I don't want—"

"Stop squirming." Ben's hand squeezes her waist again, hard enough to make her chest flutter. "You need to eat something, sweetheart. It's been two days."

Two days? Rey's not sure if it feels longer or shorter than that. Time hasn't been working in the usual ways here, measured not by minutes or hours but in the distance between her last moment of relief and the building tension of the next one. "But I don't need food. I—I need more."

"Poor Omega." His tongue clicks in her ear. "Burning up while her Alpha tries to take care of her."

"Yes." The word comes out as little more than a whimper. Her head falls back against his shoulder, breath quickening. "Burns."

“Won't be long before it's too much for you to take again." The dark pleasure in his voice betrays just how much he enjoys that part. "That's why you need to eat now. While you can still bear it.” His mouth moves against her ear, too much like a kiss. ”Just a little longer, Rey. Then I'll make you come."

She makes a despairing noise. “How many?”

“The rest of the bowl.” His hips have begun to rock, a slow, undulating motion that makes her shudder in his lap.

"Ngghh."

"No more whining. Open up."

Rey turns her head, so she can look him directly in the eye. Her face feels very warm as she offers her tongue to his fingers. Ben's gaze darkens, dipping to her mouth, as he pushes the grape between her lips.

"That’s my good girl." His voice drops low and deep, the way it sounds when he's on the edge of fucking her again. It makes her Omega shiver with anticipation. “Just a few more."

Rey doesn't remove her eyes from his as he finds another from the bowl on the table. This time, she pulls his fingers into her mouth with the grape, suckling gently. Ben groans.

"What did I say about squirming?"

She pulls off his fingers so she can fix him with a glare. At least, she means to glare; it probably ends up looking closer to a pout. "Can't stay still when you—oh, when you're doing that."

His grinding has morphed into the slowest, shallowest thrusts. It's made even worse by his large hand, grasping her hip and pressing her firmly in place. Down onto him.

"But I thought you needed more." 

“I do.” She feels so small on his big thighs, pinned to the place where he stuffs her. "More, Alpha. Please."

"Maybe we can do both."

The fingers at her waist slide down, down, down between her damp thighs. Until they're tracing the sensitive, straining flesh that stretches wide and tight around him. He curses in her ear.

"Greedy girl. Can't fit anything else inside you here."

“Then—then maybe you can just—fuck me again.” Rey looks up at him through her lashes, and he must find something enticing in her face because he groans a second time. “Just for a minute. And then we can eat.”

“Don’t try to be clever, Omega. There are still grapes in this bowl.”

“But I could finish the bowl after. And another bowl after that. I’d eat—as many as you wanted, Alpha, if it means you’ll—oh please, yes—if you'll fuck me again.”

“So fucking impatient.” His voice overflows with new tension, gravelly and urgent. “We said the whole thing, Rey. Now be a good girl and—fuck, I need you to—sit still so I can—" 

The bowl clatters to the floor when he finally bends her over the table, grapes rolling in every direction across the tile.

------

He is not always so merciful.

More than once, he spends many hours rubbing and stroking and fingering her with no relief. Balancing her precariously on the highest peak of madness. He is fascinated by the slick she produces for him, the way she ruins his blankets and his sheets and the mattress underneath. "You won't be satisfied until we get it all out, Omega," he murmurs in her ear, when he pulls away again at the last moment and she keens and struggles breathlessly beneath his steel grip. "You still have some more left to give me."

His fingers rock inside her, over and over, until she can hardly understand what he's saying anymore; until she is incoherent with need for him. When he finally lifts her shaking legs over his shoulders, the sob that squeezes her lungs is one of pure relief.

"This is why you get so wet here," he tells her in a broken voice. "Your body knows how rough you need to be handled, baby. It's easier like this, isn't it? To fuck you the way you need."

And from the way she opens for him—like every single inch of her truly was created just for him, the way he insists whenever he's gasping in her hair and using his huge, powerful body to pleasure her—it really is easier, after all his methodical preparation. The easiest thing in the world.

Rey comes so easily that her vision bleeds white at the edges, blinded by the force of all the pleasure her Alpha allows her.

There are other ways he tortures her, too. Ways that feel at once opposite to these moments and exactly the same.

It often begins after he knots her. This is, after all, the only way she's supposed to come. (Though at one point she manages to steal one from his fingers, and afterward his wide, flat palms make her ass burn as red-hot as the flames in her belly, and this somehow gets her there even faster and harder and longer than she did with three of his fingers stuffed all the way to the third knuckle. He doesn't seem to mind.)

But this, this is the only way her Alpha told her she is allowed to come. And he clearly enjoys making her do that as often as possible, when they're joined like this. When he traps her flush to his naked body until she weeps with the intensity of it.

"Can't," she manages wetly, shaking her head back against his shoulder. "Please."

"But you gave me eight last time." His fingers drum between her legs, impatient, and Rey's moan splits on a sob. "We're hardly up to five."

"F-f-five?"

"That's what I said."

"But we're—we're only at—" Her voice is weak and raspy from all the ways he's made her beg. "Just f-four."

"This one right here, Omega. This will make five."

Ben pinches her clit between two huge, clever fingers. It feels both like a fleeting taste of heaven and the most terrible thing in the world, the orgasm that shudders over her. Terrible, because it's gone in less than a moment—and it's made even worse when he doesn't remove his fingers from her clit afterward, over-stimulated and painfully sensitive.

"I know," he coos in her ear, when she begins to pant and thrash again. Between her legs, his fingertip rolls and rolls its relentless, steady rhythm. "It can't be helped. My Omega's little orgasms are the best thing in the world. Like you—fuck, like you want to squeeze every last drop from my knot. Will you ever forgive me?"

She won't. She will never forgive him. Not for the long, exquisite torture he dares to subject her to in her heat—the cruelest Alpha in the world, she will never understand it. But especially not for the way he's utterly ruining her for every heat that will follow this one. 

Because she sees, even now, that none of them will ever hold a candle to these few terrible, torturous, tremendous days that Ben Solo has carved out in her heart.

She opens her mouth to tell him as much—but Ben is already moving onto six, his teeth scraping at the gland behind her ear. 

He gets her past eight this time around. 

Rey will never forgive him for that either.

------

On the fifth day, Rey wakes to sunlight.

This isn’t much different, she supposes, from the past four days. They must have contained at least a little sunshine too. Except that Rey has often been too distracted to notice such trivial details as the time on the clock or the amount of sun streaming through the window. The past week has been fragmented into a sprawling patchwork of moments, nights and purple dawns stitched together only by her Alpha’s fingers and tongue.

Rey opens her eyes and notices how sticky they feel with sleep. How sticky she feels in other places, too—a sensation she hasn’t considered much since the fire started raging within her Monday evening. 

She notices that, for the first time since she arrived here, she is completely alone.

Slowly, Rey sits up. 

Her body is sore in every place it can be sore—along with some places it shouldn't be. But it’s not unpleasant. The kind of aching satisfaction that follows a good workout, or the stretch of her stomach around a filling meal.

She supposes she’s had both of those things in plenty, the past few days.

Ben Solo’s bedroom is a mess. Most of the bedding was cast to the floor on the first day, after it was clear they had no use for it (and Rey had burned so hot, she could hardly stand the feeling of anything that wasn’t her Alpha’s skin). The papers from the corner desk have also been scattered across the carpet, after Ben abruptly cleared its contents with one sweeping arm before— 

(—gonna fuck you like this in my office one day—over the desk in my classroom—Christ, yes, hold onto the edge here so I can—fuck. Yes. My good fucking girl. Anywhere you’ll let me, Rey. Everywhere.)  

—before making her fall apart over it.

At some point, she must have been driven to nest. A small collection of Ben’s clothes—torn from his closet or his hamper, she is too embarrassed to figure out which—is piled in the corner. Rey has some vague recollection of blinking up at him from its musky cocoon, the flutter in her stomach at the way his lips curved upward. I’ll be your nest, he murmured in her ear, scooping her into his massive arms. Keep you safe and warm right here, little Omega. Right here.

He’s not right here anymore, though. The bedroom is empty. Rey wipes her face—clammy with her breaking fever—and tries to remember what he said would happen, when her heat passed. She tries to remember the reason for all this dread rising inside her.

With shaky legs, she climbs out of bed.

He’s not in the bathroom, but Rey lingers there to splash some water over her face. It feels fresh and cool on her skin. She hopes it might offer some clarity—but the new sharpness of her thoughts only deepens the definition of the panic that colors them. 

Why would her Alpha leave her, just as her heat is beginning to crest? 

Her reflection is nearly unrecognizable after several endless days of his attention, chronicled in the countless bites and scrapes and kisses he’s left across her skin. Rey stares at the Omega in the mirror and wracks her memory for something, anything she might have done to offend him. Is it because her heat is fading? Her stomach churns. Isn’t that what he said, when they started all this? That this was all just… a favor he’s been doing for her. An immeasurably noble act of pity, after Rey lost all control of herself—of her reckless, feral Omega. It’s no wonder he would leave, she thinks, head spinning as she stares at her reflection. Was she really so foolish to believe that such a model Alpha—Ben Solo—would truly be interested in her? A nobody, from nowhere, possessing nothing of value that anyone might desire, least of all—

“Where do you think you’re going?”

The flood of her Omega’s relief is almost dizzying, an ecstatic chant that infuses every pore in her body: He's here, he stayed, he’s still here— 

Rey whirls around. 

Ben leans against the doorframe. Casual, and completely nude. Something about seeing him this way, without the fog of her heat smothering the novelty of it all, makes her heart skip several beats. She doesn’t think she’ll ever get over how large this man is. His presence, his stature. His body. 

“I’m not the one who left,” she says, and she hates how small her voice sounds. She hates it.

“Just to get you some water.” He holds out a glass. “You were thirsty.”

“I didn’t tell you that.”

“Didn’t need to.” Ben steps away from the door, giving the glass a little shake. “Drink.”

Rey doesn’t look away from his face as she empties it in several long swallows.

“You’re coming out of heat,” he says.

She suddenly wishes she hadn’t finished the water so fast, so she might take another sip instead of answering. “Am I?”

“You’re speaking in full sentences again.”

“I always speak in full sentences.”

“I suppose please might qualify as a sentence.” He's moving slowly across the bathroom, until he stands directly in front of her. “More, not so much.”

“How about… more, please?”

“Such manners.” His knuckles stroke her jaw. “Still doesn’t count, I’m afraid.”

“More, please... Alpha?"

"Very sweet. You need a verb."

"Stop talking and fuck me again." The words rush out before she can stop them. "There. That's two verbs." 

The hungry taste of his scent spikes in the small bathroom. "Three, technically." 

“You ought to teach grammar.”

“I rather enjoy my current focus of study.”

He backs her against the sink. Rey’s heart quickens as she looks up at him, eyes wide with sudden uncertainty. 

“Is this... still allowed?" Her voice quavers. "Now that I’m not… you know…”

“Desperate with heat."

A thick swallow. “Yes.”

“I don’t need your heat to make you desperate, Rey.”

Oh. Large fingers graze her inner thighs, which have somehow grown damp again in the short time since he appeared in the door.

“Besides… You still have a little left for me here, I think.”

She has a lot left for him, it turns out. He takes his time coaxing it out of her. First with his fingers, curled and stroking deep inside her body until she is melting in his arms. Then with his mouth—one leg slung over his shoulder, her hands scrabbling for purchase on the ceramic sink behind her. Until he finally carries her to his bed and fucks the breath from her lungs, the way he’s learned to do so well this week, a perfect science of how to dismantle her inside-out. Until he is groaning her name, over and over—Rey, in her tangled hair, Rey, gasped into the crook of her neck, the kisses he gives to her gland. Rey. My Rey. My precious, lovely girl.

Until she is knotted again. Blissed out with the long, tingling waves of pleasure that roll over her body after each hot pulse of his cum.

It’s only when it’s over, when his arms clutch her tight and warm and safe to his broad body, the same way he’s held her for five days straight—it’s only when it’s over she remembers there will be a last time they do this. Sometime today, there will be a last time.

She lets him hold her and hopes it isn’t now.

------

He insists on making her pancakes.

It isn’t necessary, of course. None of this is necessary. Ben Solo sacrificing an entire week of his life to care for his irresponsible Omega of a co-worker wasn’t necessary, either. But Rey’s thoughts still move too slowly, heavy and hungover from the past week’s intoxication, and when Ben proposes to cook for her, stretched out beneath her on his bed—she only blinks at him. Her throat is too tight to form any response.

“There are blueberries,” he says, as though she needs any more enticing. As though her mouth still remembers how to say no to him. “You like blueberries.”

She does like blueberries. She likes them so much, in fact, that when she follows him to the kitchen, wrapped in an oversized blanket, she sneaks several from the plastic container while he's distracted with the pancake batter. Which leads to him bending her over his granite countertop, sans blanket, and licking between her thighs until she admits that yes, I did it, Alpha, I ate them, now can you please just—oh god—yes, please just put it inside please please please—

The batter sizzles and smokes as it burns on the stovetop.

He insists, afterward, that she still needs to eat. Even if it means (one small pan fire later) that they need to leave his apartment to do so. Which feels… a little dangerous, if she’s being honest. The longer this drags on, the more distance she puts between herself and the peak of her cycle—the less this feels like something they’re doing out of necessity. As though they’re flirting with something far more significant than a few days of heat-fueled madness. 

Rey apparently still cannot remember how to say no. She opens her mouth to try, but instead it comes out in the form of a question, asking if she can use his shower first.

Ben brings her to the bathroom to show her how to turn it on. Then he shows her how to fuck her in it. Slowly, it turns out, with the whole front of her body pressed up against the cool glass wall—tits and palms and the side of her face, all sliding against wet glass—while he thrusts up into her from behind. It's so tight like this, her thighs nearly pressed together; his palm at the small of her back, making her arch. Rey can only rub her cheek against the glass and quake.

“Never gonna wash me off of you." He growls the words into her wet hair between slow, squeezing thrusts, making room inside her body for him. "No matter how hard you try, Omega. Always gonna smell like you're mine."

She never wants to wash him off. She tells him as much—or tries to, anyway, between the breathless noises he pulls out of her—but he seems to understand. He doesn't last much longer after that.

He never does, once she starts begging him to fill her again.

When they're finished, Ben washes her. It is—surprisingly intimate. Even after everything they've done the past few days. His trapped knot still pulsing inside her, he traces all her edges with soapy fingers. Washing her with slow, patient tenderness, as though each touch might leave a small piece of himself in its wake, rather than strip something away from her. 

There is nothing for Rey to do but melt in his arms, tip-toes slipping against the wet floor. Letting him take care of her. 

She almost doesn't think about endings or last times, when he slips out of her again. 

------

"You're quiet."

They're in his car. Dressed. Ben insisted they run her clothes through the laundry before they left, since his Omega deserves only the softest, cleanest of clothes (though Rey suspects he only wanted an excuse to keep her out of them a little longer; even after they'd been through the wash, it took several attempts to get her in them again, not least because he couldn't stop touching her each time she tried).

It feels alien, all this fabric. It feels even more alien to see him covered up and clothed. Much too near to normal, after all the abnormalities of the past week. Ben emerged from his bedroom in a sweater and slacks, far more sophisticated than the well-loved joggers and graphic tee Rey threw on before heading to the school Tuesday. Just the sight of Ben Solo, expensive and tall and terribly handsome in his cashmere, brings their imminent return to reality that much closer to shattering the world they've happily occupied these past several days.

Rey feels uncomfortably juvenile, curled in his passenger seat in her sweats. Extremely out of place.

"I can be quiet sometimes," she says, frowning at her lap. 

"You never stop talking."

"What?" She looks up sharply. "I do so." 

"And when would that be?"

“Right now. Obviously."

His brow furrows as he turns a corner. "That doesn’t count."

“Fine. When I'm sleeping.”

"You still talk when you sleep."

Rey gapes at him. "I do not.”

"You do. We had an entire conversation the other night." His lips twitch. "You even snore a little."

"Now you're just making things up."

"You're right. You snore a lot."

"Then how about when we're doing—other things?" It’s a cheap distraction, but it’s worth it to change the subject. “Can't talk while you keep my mouth so busy."

Ben doesn’t disappoint. The look he slides across the car is positively smoldering. "Wouldn't say you're quiet then, either."

"So there's your problem. That's all we've been doing."

"Only recently." He finally steers his dark gaze back to the road, and Rey feels like she can breathe again. "You were still quite talkative before that."

"When we were arguing about work, you mean."

"Arguing?" He blinks at the road, looking genuinely confused. "We've never argued."

Rey can't help the laugh that escapes her. "Then what would you call—oh, I don't know... basically every conversation we've ever had about your ridiculous curriculum?"

"Heated disagreements."

"More commonly known as an argument."

"You're very spirited, when you're angry." His mouth is twitching again. "I like it."

Rey looks out his window into the passing spring morning, so she doesn't have to watch him smirk. But mostly so he doesn't see how hot her face is getting. "In other words, you've got no idea what I'm like when we're not doing either of those things."

"Which things?"

"Arguing. And..."

"And...?"

She keeps her burning face fixed on the window. "Fucking."

"I'd say I know you pretty well."

"In those two contexts, maybe."

"Maybe."

The budding trees of his neighborhood have given way to pitted sidewalks as they draw closer to the city's populous center. To reality. "For all you know, I could be the quietest person in the world."

"Highly unlikely."

"I could be a serial killer. Like the one in the news that goes after terrible Alphas."

"Slightly more likely." Amusement colors his tone. "But you would have finished the job already."

"I could have fallen for you. One of those tragic love stories where the spy can't bring herself to off the big bad guy."

"A love story?"

Her heart skips. Shit. "A tragic one."

A long beat passes. Rey struggles to keep her eyes on the window.

"That's the most unlikely one of all," he finally says, as they roll to a stop at an intersection. "You can't be both a spy and a serial killer."

"I could be multi-talented."

"No amount of talent would allow a serial killer to keep a low profile as a spy."

"Which is why you've never heard of me. I could be the most wanted girl in Coruscant."

"You could."

"The bane of bad Alphas everywhere."

"Or you could be my mate."

Ben's voice is so serious that Rey can no longer look at the window. When she turns, she finds him staring intently back at her, the air thick with tension.

"Your mate?"

His eyes glint. "Hypothetically. Of course."

"Sure. Right. And I could also be an astronaut."

"My mate has many talents."

"That rules me out then. Not a drop of talent to be found here."

"I know you too well for that now, Rey."

He's wearing that expression again. The one that makes her chest hurt. Rey swallows thickly. "You know less than you think."

"Don't be so sure." He looks back to the road. "I know you have a talent for devouring breakfast food." 

The car pulls up to the curb, and she realizes that, god damnit, they've already arrived. A fifteen-minute car ride in which she was supposed to figure out how she's going to leave at the end of it, and he's instead somehow tricked her into talking the entire time.

She supposes there's nothing left to do but follow him inside and eat his stupidly tasty pancakes.

When Ben opens the door to the café, they are immediately ensconced in the scent of morning foods: freshly roasted coffee beans, melting butter, the starchy scent of newly baked bread. It's heavenly. Rey takes a long whiff of it, before she notices the way his eyes glimmer, watching her, from the corner of her own. She rearranges her expression into a glare before he can make fun of her for it.

It's quiet this morning. Rey isn't completely sure what day it is, but she supposes it's a weekend, from the lack of suits and pencil skirts among the patrons inside. The tables are mostly filled with other couples, clearly only recently departed from their beds. Making effortless, casual conversation after another evening spent together.

Rey wonders what it might be like, to spend multiple weekends with a person. Enough evenings and easy mornings to have a favorite breakfast spot.

Ben's gaze is heavy on her when they finally sit at an open table. Instead of meeting his eye, Rey decides to peruse the menu. As though she hasn't been thinking about those blueberry pancakes since the first day they came here together. Regret clenches in her chest as her eyes pass over each dish. She'll never be able to come back here again, now that he's decided to bring her here after her goddamn heat.

"You're doing it again," Ben says softly.

"Doing what?"

"Being quiet."

Rey looks up to find him still watching her. "Just... trying to decide what I want."

"I thought you already knew."

"I can't choose."

"Then we'll order one of everything."

"Don't tempt me."

"I like tempting you."

Her stomach flutters. "We'd be here all day. I've got to go home eventually."

A pause. "Then we'll order two of everything."

"Ben."

"This café stays open very late."

"I'm serious."

"And if it closes, we'll finish the rest at my place."

Her protests get lost on their journey to her mouth. "Your place?"

"Or yours." He looks far too thoughtful, for such a ludicrous suggestion. "Though you did say you only have a twin bed."

Indignation courses through her. "I've got a table, too, you know."

"Good point." His mouth curls. "A table might also work."

"For eating," Rey says quickly, before she can start blushing again. "I meant for eating."

"So did I." But from the simmering heat in his gaze, it's clear he's imagining something other than pancakes spread out across his plate. 

Despite her best efforts, Rey finds she is blushing anyway. "Just a normal amount of breakfast today." There, she thinks. That's much better. Firm. Decisive. "I need to go home, Ben. We'll have... class. Eventually."

"Then we'll come back next weekend."

"Next weekend?" Shit. That was... far less decisive. But the suggestion derails her, and her hungover Omega-brain has nothing to offer but flustered confusion.

"There's a lot to try on this menu."

"I won't be in heat then."

"You weren't in heat the first time we came here." His Alpha peeks out at her through his darkening eyes. "Though I wouldn't have minded."

Oh. "That's not what I meant," she says, unsteadily. "We didn't go back to your apartment after."

"I wouldn't have minded that either."

There is a pause filled only with the sounds of the café, the scraping forks and whirling kitchen doors, punctuated by a burst of laughter from a nearby table. "You wouldn't?"

"I wouldn't mind being there for all your heats, Rey."

The room tilts a little. Are they still playing their roles? What the hell is he doing? "I don't think I'll have another one of those before the semester is over." Before you leave, she doesn't add.

"Right. Of course." His jaw tightens. "But after the semester ends. Should you ever find yourself in another heat." A loaded pause. "I could be there then, too."

Rey's heart is beating so quickly she can feel it against the inside of her ribs. "I... don't get them often."

"That's all right," he says, very softly. "I would wait."

Rey knows all about waiting. Her entire life, she's been waiting. Every single good thing that's ever happened to her has required her to wait.

That someone else might be willing to wait instead—to wait for her, as though she were something worth having patience for...

Before she can think better of it, Rey reaches across the table and touches his hand.

Ben inhales sharply. His eyes snap to where they're touching, then back to her face. 

Slowly, his large fingers open, fanning outward. Allowing hers to slip between them.

"Or maybe..." she says. "Maybe we don't need to wait."

The rawness in his expression, the aching sincerity—it's so intoxicating that Rey almost doesn't notice the man approaching their table until he addresses them.

"What an unexpected surprise."

The transformation that warps Ben's face is instant. From soft vulnerability to powerful loathing in the space of a glance. Releasing her hand, he rises so quickly the utensils jump and shudder on the table. Every single one of his muscles are tense with the snapping energy of an animal prepared to strike.

But the new man only smirks. "No need to stand, Ren. There's an open seat right here."

And to Rey's horror, he sits right at their table. Directly next to her.

The man is slender and tall, with lank, orange hair that falls over his ears and forehead. His sallow face is arranged into an expression of dripping condescension, fixed straight toward Ben. Rey's dislike for him is immediate and intense.

Ben doesn't sit. His rage crackles with the black sulfur of a thundercloud, looming over the table. "You have ten seconds to leave this building with all your bones intact, Hux."

Hux. Rey searches her memory. Why does that name sound so familiar?

"And get you banned from your favorite new eatery?" The man named Hux speaks as though he has a pinch in his throat. "You've been coming here quite often lately, haven't you?"

Ben snarls. "He still has you following me."

"Who's following you? It's merely an observation."

"Let's observe how long it takes for your nose to break beneath my fist. I think one clean strike would do."

"Always with the violence." Hux shakes his head, completely unperturbed. "Just a few weeks away from the center, and look how you've already regressed."

Rey is unable to keep her mouth shut any longer. "If anyone's feeling violent, it's because you've rudely interrupted our breakfast."

For the first time, Hux turns his infuriating sneer on her. "How adorable. This must be your newest helper." The stranger's eyes drag over her oversized clothes, making her skin crawl unpleasantly beneath. "A bit ratty for your tastes, no?"

It happens so quickly, Rey doesn't even have time to flinch. Ben lunges across the table with a violent scrape his chair, yanking Hux up out of his seat by the collar of his jacket. Water spills off the edge of the table from a toppled glass in the line of his trajectory. Ben doesn't seem to notice.

"Say that again," he hisses.

"How precious." Half-dangling from Ben's grasp, Hux releases a cold, breathless laugh. "The great Kylo Ren. I can't believe it. You've actually fallen in love with this one, haven't you?"

Rey isn't sure what's more of a punch to the gut: The mere thought of Ben falling in love—or that awful name, ominously familiar. She repeats it before she can stop herself: "Kylo Ren?" 

Ben's eyes fly to her. An unexpected flicker of fear passes over them. Hux looks back and forth between them both, a slow grin spreading across his sharp face. "Oh, that's adorable. You mean you haven't told her?"

"Told me what?"

"Is everything all right over here?"

A server has appeared beside their table. For the first time, Rey realizes that most of the diners at the surrounding tables have fallen completely silent. Several are staring with open mouths.

A muscle spasms visibly in Ben's jaw. A long moment passes, before he slowly releases the red-headed stranger, placing him back on the ground.

Hux straightens his jacket. "You know how it is with these types." He winks at the server. "He just gets a little excited sometimes."

Rey has to restrain herself from lunging at him too. These types—?!  Who the hell does he think he is, talking about her Alpha that way?

She expects Ben to react in a similar fashion, but he only sits back in his chair. Steaming and silent. Rey tries to catch his eye—but his gaze is fixed fiercely, intently, on Hux, who is taking the liberty of ordering them all coffee.

The server finally leaves, and a heavy silence falls over the table. When Ben finally speaks again, his voice, low and dangerous, sends goosebumps rippling across Rey's body:

"Tell me what he wants."

"Come now. You already know." Hux leans back in his chair. "He wants his favorite pet back where he belongs. Well, I believe he used the word apprentice. But we've both always known what that really means."

"I don't give a shit which word he used," Ben says through clenched teeth. "Tell him to stop following me."

"You can drop the charade, Ren. It's only us here. Besides, you've only got another week or two now, don't you? Until your little experiment has run its course?"

Dread returns to Rey in a cold rush at the mention of that name again. "Ben," she says quietly. "Why does he keep calling you that?"

This finally catches his attention. Ben's eyes snap back to her, that same spark of fear returning from before. "I'll explain later."

"Oh, I bet he will," Hux says, oozing delight, and Ben shoots him a deadly glare.

"Why the fuck are you still here?"

"Goodness, you've really got it bad for this one, don't you?" Hux turns to Rey with another awful smirk. "Don't get too attached, sweetheart. Snoke forbids them from taking Omegas."

Sweetheart. That name is only for Ben. Whispered against her neck, or between her thighs. Rey resists the urge to bare her teeth. "Don't call me that," she says, voice tight with anger. "And what has Snoke got to do with any of this?"

"Oh, he's the reason I'm here, of course." Hux's eyes harden as they swing back to Ben. "Snoke thought Kylo Ren might need a reminder of his vow."

Creeping tendrils of dread begin to knot in Rey's stomach. "His vow? As in... a First Order vow?" No. It can't be true. It can't. "But... doesn't that mean..." The room is spinning a little. It makes it hard for her to find the words. "Ben... Did you go through the re-education center?"

Hux begins to laugh. "Oh, wow. She really doesn't know, does she?" His smile is terrible and cold, turned back upon her. "Sweetheart, Kylo Ren is the one who does the re-educating."

Everything—the sounds of the café, the conversation, even her own breathing—all of it grinds to a halt.

No.

No, no, no.

She cannot believe it. She won't. But at the same time, it explains—so much. Too much. All his terrible assumptions about Omegas. His stupid curriculum like a bad textbook, written by someone who couldn't care less about any designation but his own. The toxic Alpha aggression that constantly pours from his body, a dark energy too potent for him to contain.

Kylo Ren.

It's no wonder that name is so familiar. He is Kylo Ren. He works for those monsters, doesn't he? He's the one who—god, he practically built their entire cursed center from the ground up.

This must be the real reason he's leaving, she realizes. He is returning to work for Snoke.

For the First Order.

Rey can't bear to look at him. Her eyes find him anyway—staring back at her across the table, the way they are always staring at her. Her Alpha, she thinks. Her Alpha is Kylo Ren.

"Tell me it's not true."

"Rey." Ben's voice sounds broken. The way it has so often these past few days, as he bared himself before her. But she sees now he wasn't really showing himself to her at all. Not really.

"Tell me," she says—a little more loudly than she means to, but she doesn't care. "Tell me he's lying."

"Yes," Hux says, watching them both with undisguised glee. "Tell her, Kylo."

"It's..." Ben's voice wavers. He swallows. "Please, Rey. It's not how it sounds."

"It's a yes or no question, Ben. Do you work for Snoke?"

"I did. Yes. For a time." His jaw works furiously. "I left."

"For a time?" She thinks she might be sick. "But... Kylo Ren... he's the one that helped Snoke start everything, isn't he?" Her voice comes out uneven. Watery. "You're the whole reason the First Order exists."

Ben only looks at her. It doesn't matter; the slight tremble in his gaze is the only answer she needs.

Abruptly, Rey stands from the table. Her knees shake a little—from the exhausting week she's had, or under the weight of all this new, terrible knowledge, she's not sure. "I've got to go."

His expression cracks, and she can barely look at him, for all the terror and distress underneath. "But you didn't eat."

"I'm not hungry."

"Omega—"

"Stop calling me that," she snaps. "I'll see you in class."

She almost expects him to come after her, as she winds through the tables. He doesn't. Of course he doesn't. This Hux person has come to remind him of his place, hasn't he? His vow.

The one Kylo Ren practically wrote.

Rey truly thinks she might throw up. Right here, all over the shiny linoleum floor.

Blessedly, she makes it outside before that can happen. 

The morning air settles her fast-moving thoughts long enough to figure out where she's going. She's still got some credits in her bank account after her last rent check. She can splurge on a taxi, so that she won't need to stare at the blurry faces of strangers on the bus uptown.

And if her eyes start leaking a little, she won't need to worry about anyone staring.

It's a wise choice. Her eyes start leaking a lot, once she's in the back seat of the cab. She can't help it. The longer she thinks about it, the more enraged she becomes. 

The most incredible week of her life, and she unknowingly spent it with Kylo Ren.

It's no wonder she disliked him, when they first met. It's no wonder he was so arrogant and dismissive. Little surprise, when he's spent the past decade indoctrinating vulnerable Alphas into Snoke's poisonous cult.

Rey wipes her eyes and watches the city pass through the smudged taxi window. She wishes she had trusted her instincts. Her real instincts—the ones that have helped her survive all these years. Not whatever nonsense her idiot of an Omega has been feeding her.

At least he was honest about one thing, that day he first laid out the terms of their arrangement. 

He is very, very good at pretending.

By the time the cab rolls up in front of her building, her eyes are dry again. 

Rey climbs the long stairwell to her flat and eats breakfast alone.