Emergency landings were not Rey’s favourite thing to do.
Crash landings ranked even lower down on the scale.
When the first became the second in a matter of minutes, there wasn’t much time to contemplate how annoying they were. Instead, she had been running around headlessly trying to restore power, trying to do anything to slow the descent at that point.
The annoyance came later. Alongside a heap of pain, fear, frustration and loneliness.
It should have been routine. It had been routine. Rey had taken the lonely old shuttle from Luke’s refuge, travelled to the resistance outpost to collect the supplies and communicate with General Organa. She had followed all procedures, the shuttle had even been checked before being released, and it was as she returned to the desolate planet of islands that was Ahch-To that an engine went out and as she made her way towards the planet, the second engine blew out.
Rey wasn’t sure how long ago that was. Had no way to know for sure how long she had been unconscious. When she woke, it was to agony gutting her from the core as she let out a shrill cry, trying and failing to find a release from the overwhelming pain.
Panting, she opened her eyes, blinking back the blood from a wound on her head. Shifting, her focus was drawn to the mind-whitening sensation as she tried to lift her arm and was hit by nausea rolling through her. A glance made it worse. There was a bend in the forearm where there shouldn’t have been. Pulling in air roughly through gritted teeth she – guarding protectively her left arm – tried to move, gripping to the arm rest and gathering her strength to get her legs underneath her.
Another mistake, she learnt the hard way as her legs buckled. Rey barely managed to roll so that she didn’t land on her broken arm, pain blossoming through her chest as she gasped. A cursory glance revealed the piece of shrapnel that had cut through the muscle of her calf. Her heart pounded and her breathing became distorted as she tried to calm her mind.
There had to be a medical kit somewhere on the shuttle but Rey didn’t know where, never having needed it before. The prospect of searching for it made her wince but she was bleeding and she needed to staunch the wound. Then she’d wrap her arm and try to get communications back online. She wasn’t that far from Ahch-To when the engines blew out, someone would come for her. Watching the blood trickle from her leg stopped those thoughts being calming.
She tried to focus and to think. Blood was pooling around her. Her hands went to the piece of metal currently wedged deep through her calf, the smallest touch and she cried out. There were plenty of materials around her – the natural light streaming in from where parts of the shuttle had disintegrated upon landing – but not what she needed and she grabbed leather from the passenger’s seat, yanked it back. Sliding it between her lips, with her good hand she braced herself around the metal and pulled. The world tilted, threatened to black out but she managed to get it all out without losing consciousness.
The wraps around her forearms weren’t clean but she could worry about infection after she’d ensured she hadn’t died from blood loss.
Removing them was difficult - why hadn’t she done this first? She couldn’t stand to remove the wrappings around her left arm and had to grit her teeth as she undid the fastening with her injured hand, spinning her right hand to get it off.
The next ordeal was fastening the bandage and when it was done, she was light-headed. She couldn’t afford to lose consciousness. Not yet. Not when no one knew where she was.
With the last of her energy, she leant up to the panel and typed in the distress sequence. Not even having the energy to check if it had sent, she dropped to the ground and blackness encased her.
The smell of the room was cold. Clinical. Sterile.
She recognised it from visiting Finn before she left to train with Luke. Only, it didn’t feel right. The noises were all there; beeps from the droid, the bubbling of a bacta tank, the hum of machinery. It was inside her that she felt it. A pull within her chest.
Her heart began to race. She knew it. Knew that feeling. It had been a year but she would recognise is anywhere.
“And finally she wakes,” cold mechanical words cut through her mind and ears as her eyes flew open. He stepped into her field of vision and she tried to move but she was tied down; wrists and ankles. “Please. Continue to struggle. Reopen the wounds that have only just healed.”
“Where am I?” she demanded but her voice was foreign. Hoarse. Terrified.
“You know the answer to that.”
She did. The ship thrummed beneath them. If he were there she was with the First Order, and if she was with the First Order, the specific ship mattered little. “Why?”
A droid came forwards. Her heart was hammering and despite what he said she was still struggling. How could she not? How could she sit there and do nothing? “The patient’s blood pressure and heart rate are rising dangerously,” the droid’s words were warmer than his but the sight of the needle it carried spurred her to lash out.
A sudden force pressed her into the bed, heavy and demanding and her eyes widened at him. He hadn’t even moved and she was trapped. The prick of the metal made her hiss but then everything swam. Her eyes teared, the room faded and she mumbled, “Why?”
Consciousness returned to her and disorientation followed. This was no medical bay. This was a cell.
It was truly basic. A simple cot with a toilet and sink hidden behind a small partition. She wasn’t sure what she expected but it was better than the metal chair her mind helpfully reminded her. There were a million questions in her mind. Why was she here? How did they find her? Did the Resistance know?
The middle question she had an idea about; the distress signal. In her hurry to send for help, she hadn’t set it for secured channels. Heck, she hadn’t even added a message save the default one sent out. Where had she landed? Had the planet been populated? It was entirely possible that the vessel that responded had been First Order but how that had led her here, to him, she had no idea.
Regaining her strength after who knew how long in that medical bay, she took the time to survey her wounds. Her head was fine, as was her arm but when she pulled up the gown she had been left in, the pale white line from the shrapnel was obvious, jagged as it snuck around her calf.
Rey took stock of it all. She was alive and that was something to work with. It would have been easier to let her die. That meant her life had value. Information, perhaps? The only bit of knowledge she held was Luke’s location and she hoped that if she didn’t return he would make contact with the Resistance and look for her but she wasn’t entirely sure.
The past year he had been difficult. Not because what he taught her was hard – he certainly pushed her but she could handle that – because he so rarely taught her something new. Everything was slow and Luke seemed to focus on meditation over anything else. The difficulty came with her relationship with Luke. Always distant. Always cautious. Always glad to send her back to civilisation for whatever small reason; she sincerely doubted that he missed Corellian soup as much as she was sent for it. She didn’t ask why he treated her at an arms length. For all he was calm and meditative, she felt the turmoil within him. The slightest reminders of what happened with his other apprentices could derail a session. It wasn’t easy for either of them. She still hoped he’d come for her. Or that someone would. Finn or Leia.
For that first day, Rey kept a cautious eye to the door of her cell, expecting it to open, expecting Kylo Ren to descend and unveil why she was here. The door didn’t open. A slot did. Once a day. A meagre ration that made what she had on Jakku feel like the finest cuisine would be deposited through the slot designed solely for such a purpose.
It could be poison but Rey didn’t have a choice and always ate every scrap. Food didn’t have to taste like anything. It simply had to be there. It carried on like that for a week, as best Rey could fathom. Not that it was easy to tell the passage of time with nothing to do and no light to follow.
She did the only thing she could. She tried to meditate. She failed. Whenever steps moved passed her door she would falter. Whenever the metal of her door would slide open and the packet shoved through, she would dive at it.
Rey never stopped trying to focus. Trying to feel outside her four walls. Tried to get a sense of the troops, thinking of how she might use them to her advantage. It felt like something was blocking her whenever she tried to extend herself. The sensation left her frustrated.
That frustration drained her and so she slept.
She was asleep, shivering in the cold room when the door finally opened. Her eyes snapped open in a second, shuffling to sit as the masked and caped figure entered the room.
“Why am I here?” she asked not sure if she expected an answer. Part of her was just clinging to seeing another. This close she could feel him with the Force, feel the power working through him, unlike the others around her.
“You are an asset to the Resistance.”
“What, so I’m here so they can’t have me?”
“Not solely,” he told her, crossing his arms across his body. The movement highlighted a flash of silver, the metal of his blade. She swallowed trying not to focus on it. “Try it,” he encouraged, taking it off his belt and holding it out in his hand. It was too far to reach.
It was a test. She knew it was a test but she had to do something. Rey wasn’t designed to sit in silence with nothing to do. She reached out with her mind, trying to focus on the object, feeling it slip through her fingers. Her face furrowed in concentration. It wouldn’t hold still. The Force felt slippery, out of her reach. There but not responding to her.
When he made no move as she tried and tried, no sound either, she felt something awful chill her blood. “What have you done to me?”
At last, he shifted, moving his sabre back to his belt. It was impossible to know where his gaze was under the mask but she felt it burn her all the same. “An implant.”
She swallowed and felt violated, wanting to curl up on herself. Instead she stood. “What have you done?” she demanded, clenching her hands into two fists.
“Old technology,” he told her simply. “A force inhibitor. Traditionally they needed to be worn over the skin. I had it modified and slimmed down. As long as it’s there, your powers are useless to you.”
It was like the air was pushed from her lungs as she trembled, stepping backwards and hitting the wall. In all her time on Jakku, she had never used the force, never even knew it was there but since it had been awakened within her it had become a part of her. For that to be stripped away – he may as well as taken a part of her.
“I sense your anger,” he told her and she turned her head away from him. The fight left her. “Your fear.”
“Leave me alone,” she murmured sinking down against the wall.
“As you wish,” he replied and then he was gone, leaving her to her thoughts. When the door slammed shut into place, she wept.
It took another week before she built herself up enough to realise she wasn’t going to accept this. Wasn’t willing to lie down and take it. After that she worked harder, pushed further. The force was still there, merely out of reach. If she knew where the inhibitor was she’d have scratched it out by now. Instead she simply tried to best it.
Rey wasn’t reliant on the Force. When she rallied she thought back to her life on Jakku. She had gotten out of scrapes without needing it then, she could do it now, even though this situation was somewhat bigger than anything she had faced before. She had her mind and that was all she needed.
With that mind-set, she scoured her cell searching for anything loose, even the smallest implement that she could use. There was nothing. Her fingertips hurt and a few of her nails had broken trying to tease back panels and she let out a frustrated cry, banging her hands on the wall closest to her.
Did the Resistance even know she was there? Did they even care? She halted that last thought. If they knew, they cared. Maybe she was in the middle of the First Order fleet. Maybe they had no way of knowing which ship she was on. Perhaps the implant had cut off the other’s awareness of her too.
Until an opportunity presented itself, and as much as she hated it, she needed the Resistance to save her. She buried that hope deep inside. They were coming. They were coming.
Another small pack of food was thrown into her cell and she squeezed her eyes shut, shaking on the cot.
“They’re coming. They’re coming,” she murmured to herself needing it desperately.
The silence was maddening.
No one came to her. No one asked for information. No one demanded her compliance. None of the things that she had been prepared for happened. Instead, she was left alone in the small cell. Rey counted twenty-six days but had no idea how accurate that was. She had gone through the cell time and again just searching for anything to help her escape.
There was nothing.
First Order cells weren’t designed for escape. She often wondered if they had simply forgotten that she was there but the food kept coming. Once a day. The wrappings were always removed when she slept. She had tried more than once to stay awake so that she might catch them when the door was open but those nights they simply didn’t enter her cell. It was like they knew. Maybe they did.
Rey felt herself growing desperate and hated it. Luke would tell her to meditate but she couldn’t focus with the Force there but not. It eluded her no matter what she tried and thinking on it left her more aggravated than staring at the same walls for hours at a time with nothing to do.
She needed something, anything, to occupy her mind. She wanted to know what Kylo’s plan was. She was growing desperate. She would need to get out of here soon to keep her sanity. How Luke had managed to survive on that island all that time alone was beyond her. She wasn’t like him. Wasn’t patient. She needed action and to have a use. She felt herself slipping.
The more days that passed, the more certain she became that the Resistance wasn’t coming; maybe they didn’t know she was there, maybe they couldn’t get to her. It didn’t matter. She had managed without them all that time on Jakku and escaped her cell on Starkiller without them too. She could do this. She just had no idea how or when.
Rey imagined a hundred scenarios of what she would do, what she would say, how she would act when the opportunity presented itself. Maybe it would be a power malfunction. Maybe a guard would get sloppy. Maybe the damn inhibitor would malfunction? Oh how she wished.
The heavy steps signalled his pending approach. There was something different about them. More pronounced. The others steps were always orderly; one-two, one-two, one-two. His didn’t have that. The pace changed. Sometimes he favoured his left leg, others his right. She only knew because she had heard him walk past, felt his Force signature what felt like a hundred times.
At first she had tensed, readied herself. She had expected him to enter but he always simply walked past. Maybe he was checking that she was still there. She didn’t know and didn’t care.
Now she remained on her cot, clutching around her legs and staring at the far wall.
The whoosh as her door opened surprised her a little but she didn’t’ let it show. There were two troopers behind him, guns raised as though she were going to put up a fight. What with? Her fists and legs? She felt weak and it took concentrated effort to actually turn to him.
“Come with me,” he spoke in that digitalised voice that she hated. There was nothing human about him when he had the mask on. It was a shield. Something that he stood behind to give him strength. Luke thought so anyway. Rey had a different idea.
It was the first time she’d been spoken to directly in however long and it was an order. Regardless of just how much she didn’t want to do that, a tiny part of her mind urged her on. The more she knew about this ship the better.
She stood and her feet were bare against the cold floor. The medical coverings she had worn still hung loosely from her body.
It was impossible to know but she thought he might have considered her before turning and setting a brisk pace. She fell into step behind him but took her time. There was hardly anything worse he could do to her and she had no intention of making whatever this was any easier. The guards at her back urged her on but she didn’t care for the blasters in her spine. If he wanted her dead, she’d be dead. The blasters were show.
They didn’t travel far, coming to stop at a small refresher station. She was directed inside and she considered defiantly refusing although there was no benefit. There wasn’t a proper refresher in her cell; bare essentials for bodily functions and a small sink only. Rey longed to feel clean again.
Tentatively, she glanced around and the door behind slid shut. She was alone again and immediately moved around the room. She quickly discovered it was as tightly locked down as the others. Not even the curtain around the unit would come loose; resigned, she moved inside and cleaned.
Rey scrubbed at her skin, hating everything about the First Order vessel down to the fragrance of the soap but focused on what she had seen. Her cell was one in a long row of at least twenty. There had been a console set up at one end and an elevator at the other. Maybe if she could get to the console she could get off a message. If she was ever given the opportunity to leave her damn cell. She was certainly in no state to incapacitate anyone in her current health.
She felt more awake, a little more restored as she exited and clinging to fresh ideas. Every time she thought of something new, her mind squashed it as impossible a few moments later. It was very disheartening. Grabbing the towel from the side, Rey frowning at the pile where her medical dress had been left.
There wasn’t anything for it and so she reluctantly pulled on the underwear, black trousers, heavy boots, and grey strapped top. It fit better than the dress, clung to her and left her a little less self-conscious. The nutrient bars she had for her daily meal kept her functioning but she prodded at a rib through the clothes, dissatisfied at how prominent they had become. Her hands were retying her small buns when the door opened. Kylo Ren nodded once and gestured to the door.
She wondered if she would return to her cell now and kept her eyes open as they carried on down the bleak black corridor lit with more red-lights than white. Her eyebrows rose as he took her into the elevator. Maybe now he’d interrogate her. Maybe this had been some twisted build up to it. She steeled herself.
No one spoke as they travelled. She tried to remember the route but there were too many turns and doors and checkpoints. It felt as though they must have travelled the entire length of the ship before he stilled before a door.
“Wait here,” he told the troopers who immediately straightened on either side of the opening. When the doors opened, her eyes immediately went to the large window. She took steps towards it, hands clenching on the cool metal of the frame.
There was no fleet that she could see, no planets either. Just empty space. She tried to recognise the formations of stars and failed. She was left to her own thoughts and didn’t care that he was in the room with her because she could see something real; she could taste freedom. How she longed to be amongst the lights in the darkness. It didn’t matter where. She longed for air that wasn’t recycled and wind in her hair. It was more difficult to be trapped now knowing just how many different worlds there were out there and how beautiful they were.
When she had given up trying to recognise constellations – she knew too few – she turned and he was waiting by the door, arms crossed. Again, she didn’t know what he wanted or why she was here. This was no interrogation room. Just a wide open space.
Steadying herself, she spoke first. Her voice hitched from disuse. “Why am I here?”
“You sent a distress signal. A First Order squadron responded. It was chance that I caught their request for additional orders and not someone else, or you would be dead.”
“And why aren’t I?” she asked bitingly. “Isn’t that what you want?”
“You were the one that attacked me first, remember that.”
The retort that had been forming swallowed. She could yell back and forth, try to get a rise from him but to what end? He had brought her here for a reason. A glance around the room only confused her. The central floor was padded but there was very little inside save some storage lockers and crates.
“What does the First Order want with me?”
He stepped forwards then, moving towards the window that had occupied her for so long. “My master would have me kill you or take you to him where he would break your mind open and forge you anew as a more powerful weapon,” he turned to her frozen where she was a few feet away. “Neither option benefit me.”
The way he said it - with such certainty – made her shiver. Snoke she had heard about from Leia and Luke and murmured about by various Resistance officers. The thought of her mind being broken wasn’t a pleasant one. Less still being turned into a tool. She wanted to fight the accusation but it wasn’t possible. He said it and she felt the truth in his words.
“Why would you defy your master?”
He straightened. “Do not ask that question if you wish to remain breathing.”
Rey felt fear rip through her and she wasn’t entirely sure it was hers. In understanding, she nodded and his shoulders returned to their usual position. “Your next question.”
She wasn’t sure she wanted the answer. “What do you want with me?”
His hands moved to the base of his chin, and with practice precision he hit the release button, a small hiss escaping before he removed the mask. Her chest thundered as his eyes levelled on her. They were heavy. Heavier than when they had fought on Starkiller. Rey hadn’t known what expression she had expected but this was hard, disinterested outwardly but in the centre of his gaze she saw something that terrified her. It was pleading.
Her eyes traced the deep scar that ran along his cheek. Why hadn’t he had it healed? None of this made sense. Not his expression or his actions.
Her thoughts were pulled back when he spoke, her gaze returning to his. “I want to train you.”
She swallowed and forced out a fake laugh. “Train what? You stole the Force from me, or did you forget?”
His lip twisted in a smirk and his hand fluttered around his belt. From one moment to the next she could feel it. The Force, wrapping around her, guiding her. Her eyes widened as she tried to reach out with it, but a second later it was loose and evading once more.
Rey glared, hands clenching into fists, “Why –“
“I have the power to restore your access to the Force, and to take it away again. If you choose to train with me, I will give you that access back. If not, I will return you to your cell.”
“Why would you do that?” she demanded wanting to get into his space and similarly wanting to step back. “You know that I hate you. That I would be constantly searching for a way to break free.”
He smiled then. “Good. That anger you feel, that pain, will give you strength. Your desire to escape will keep you focused.”
She turned her gaze around the room. Why would he offer her this? After what happened last time? How could he possibly expect her to accept? Her stomach clenched as she looked to her hands. The Force was there but out of reach. It made sense, horrible sense. “And this would be our training space?” she guessed mind still whirling as she walked to the centre of it, not wanting him to see her face.
“Yes,” he told her simply as she considered the room letting minutes pass in silence. Rey thought about everything that he had said and the things that he hadn’t. “The choice is yours. I don’t expect you to decide immediately – I doubt your morale’s would allow it –“
“I’ll do it,” she interrupted and enjoyed the surprise that covered his face, glancing over her shoulder as she spoke. Staying in her cell would cost her her sanity, even if her friends eventually came to rescue her. That was unlikely. If she was where she thought she was, she was on the Finalizer. It would take half of the Resistance’s ships to attack and provide enough chaos for her to escape or a dedicated team of infiltrators that were just as likely to get caught and killed as they were to find her.
There were no tools and she didn’t have her powers to help her. She could feel cracks forming in her mind and honestly, she couldn’t take it. This was the best option she’d been presented since her arrival. If he were foolish enough to give her powers back than she might actually be able to escape. No matter what he did or said, she knew herself and what she believed in. She would cling to what Luke had told her and what she felt was right. It would be enough.
Kylo moved to one of the storage lockers, punching in a code. It opened with a hiss and he drew out two wooden rods, throwing one at her blindly. She caught it easily, feeling the Force return to her as she did.
He turned, brandishing his own simple weapon. His face was entirely calm as he moved into fighting stance, she did the same.
“Then let us begin.”
Kylo Ren was infuriating. Every hit she laid against him, every strike she managed in return, was met by a smug comment on how she could improve. When she got frustrated and screamed at him to shut up, he grinned wider. She tried to focus. Tried to find the light but he was never-ending in his jibes.
It felt wrong to fight him like this; she hit him but her weapon could do no damage. They threw their entire bodies into the foray and yet, to what end? Even if she could manage to knock him out with her wooden blade – which she sincerely doubted – she wouldn’t make it far. Not with the inhibitor. It wasn’t a fight, though, he was studying her. His eyes mapped her movements and she felt wrong giving him every piece of information about how she fought. Rey did the only thing she could do in the situation, tried to hit him because it felt satisfying after so long alone and study him and search for a weakness to exploit later. It made her feel a little better at least.
They stopped when he had bested her, thrown her against the wall and disarmed her, for the fifth time in a row without her making a hit. There was disappointment in his eyes as he returned the weapons to the locker.
“We’re done for today,” he dismissed and she straightened, waiting for whatever he planned next. Collecting his mask and replacing it, he moved towards the door. The troopers remained as if they hadn’t moved in all that time and fell into step behind them.
Her chest was heaving and sweat drenched her. The path they took this time was different. Not as long, for which she was grateful, and not as dark. When he stilled before this door, he gestured it open with the Force not a pin code or card.
Rey realised what he planned the moment she stepped inside and the heady feeling of having the Force, using it, wrapping it around her, was ripped away in an instant.
“You promised –“ she demanded spinning on him.
“When we are training,” he told her simply. “These are your new quarters. You will remain here until I summon you next. There’s a datapad for you to study.”
It was then she actually looked at the room. It was nothing like the cell and exactly the same. This time there was a bed, not a cot, with a sheet over it. There was a desk – that was bolted down – and a chair made of metal. To the side she saw the door that no doubt led to her own refresher. There was a locker too, currently open and she saw more of the same outfits she had been dressed in inside.
This room had clearly been prepared for her and she let out a low breath.
A cursory glance informed her she wouldn’t find any loose panels here either and remembering the door, she cursed.
“Only a Force user can open the door?” she demanded and he shrugged.
“With time you may earn more privileges. Unless you prefer the cell?”
Her mouth clenched shut and even with the mask on she knew he was smiling. “As I thought. I will speak with you soon, my apprentice.”
Her heart skipped at the words and she wanted more than anything to tell him exactly how much that wasn’t true but she held her tongue. There was a reason for this. She was playing a game and even if it were still a cell, it was a damn sight nicer than the claustrophobic four walls of her old one. When the door shut behind him, she washed and then sat on the bed, and once again tried to meditate. It came easier now with memories of using the Force so fresh in her mind and she clung to that. She had felt the anger inside her, the pull of deeper power and resisted it as best she could. The more they had sparred, the more he had pushed, the closer it came.
Even cut off from the Force, she could feel the light and pulled at it. It didn’t encompass her like it had when she meditated with Luke but it was a warm feeling in the cold darkness of space and she made do. This was a ploy. An opportunity. She would find a moment of weakness and use that to escape.
Until then, she bid her time silently meditating, the datapad on her desk remained untouched.
There was no pattern that she could identify for when Kylo Ren would call upon her to train. Sometimes a handful of hours would pass between him returning, other times a day would come and go with nothing. The routine when he came to her was the same.
He would arrive at her door with troopers. She would be escorted into their training room. Once alone and inside, he removed his mask and released her powers, collected practice staves and then they attacked each other.
At first, there was little pattern to it. He let her attack him and went from there. As time passed, his taunts became more guiding.
“Start with your left leg,” he told her as she wiped the sweat from her forehead and moved back to the centre of the room. “Swing onto your right and use that power to strike.”
Without thinking, she did as he asked and managed to knock him back with her next step. “Better,” he told her before he hit back, she lifted her stave to block when he spun with grace and speed and took out her legs instead. She went down, landing harshly on her side, air escaping her in a gasp.
Ren stood above her, expression contemplative. “Why didn’t you see that coming?”
“I can’t read your mind!” she declared and he gave her a look. “That was an accident.”
“And you haven’t practiced since?” he shook his head. “Disappointing.”
He offered her a hand and she scrambled to her feet without it. Ren brushed it off without a comment. “Sensing surface thoughts doesn’t require as much concentration as extracting memories but can save your life.”
When he didn’t immediately resume a fighting stance, she hesitated. Fighting him was one thing, sometimes it even felt good to whack him and send him off-balance with the Force.
“Sit,” he instructed doing that and she considered him a long moment before she complied. There was an unspoken agreement between them. She did as he instructed and he gave her this freedom. He had made it clear that it made little difference to him whether she was in a cell or not.
It wasn’t the same pose Luke used to meditate. Instead, he sat upon his knees, hands resting over his thighs. She copied the movement and he nodded his approval. She tried not to feel anything at that. At his approval or pride. She didn’t want it. Didn’t need it. This was about survival and Rey was going to survive.
There was a foot of space between them which she studied rather than his face. “Rey,” he spoke quietly, softly and she reluctantly pulled her gaze up. “Stretch out with your mind. Don’t tell me what I’m thinking, just what I am feeling.”
She nodded and closed her eyes. It was easier to access the Force like that, to concentrate. It flowed through her, around her easily. It wouldn’t be difficult in this position to fling Kylo into the wall but it wouldn’t help her. She’d never make it off of the ship. It would take one push from the inhibitor and she’d lose all power. The Force was comforting even in her turmoil and she pushed with it.
She was already aware of his presence; he stood out like a beacon in a way only Force users did. She felt him, her mind skimming over his. At first there was nothing but silence but then she felt it. Anger, just under the surface, bubbling away always within reach.
“Angry,” she breathed.
“Good,” he returned just as quietly. “Try again. Look past that.”
Swallowing, she repeated the action. The anger was there, always unrelenting, but there was something hidden beneath that and when she captured it, her eyes widened. “You’re pleased?”
Ren nodded. “Once more.”
This close already, it was easier to sense. That pleasant sensation twisted into something darker, crueller and she barely managed to raise her hand in time to block the blow aimed at her stomach.
“Better,” he informed her. The point of contact spiked within her. It felt like a connection. Like that, she could feel his surface thoughts without having to extend the effort.
Surprise first at her revelation, then entertainment brushed through him. “You’re inquisitive. Good. The Force flows through everything and touch is not required to invade a mind, but can ease it.”
Their arms separated in tandem and they stood together, resuming a fighting position. Rey called the stave to her as Ren did his.
“Now. Beat me.”
It was an instruction that she ultimately failed. Gathering his surface thoughts when they were sat quietly on the floor was different from in the heat of a duel. There were too many variables; her footings, her movement, his footing and movements, combating his Force pushes and pulls whilst trying to use her own. Trying to read his mind at the same time was too much and whenever she tried, she tumbled.
The wall was a familiar friend as she bounced off of it and onto the ground, caught on her hands and knees panting. Kylo stepped towards her and she scrambled for her weapon, hand wrapping over the hilt just as his foot pressed down over the blade.
A sensation of loss filled her and she slumped, last of the energy leaving her as she dropped onto the ground. “Is that all you have?” he taunted and she felt a spike of annoyance as he grabbed her stave into his hand. “Perhaps I was mistaken, perhaps I should take you back to your cell,” fear clutched at her and then she was angry. Angry that she feared his punishment. Angry that he had that power over her.
She struggled to her feet, Force giving the strength she needed. “You can stand. Is that meant to impress me? A toddler could do as well. You have no weapon. You are weak –“
“Shut up!” she yelled, fists clenching and she shoved with her mind. He took a step backwards but didn’t falter.
“A simple push? If you wish your freedom, you’ll need more than that –“
She ran at him. There was nothing carrying her but her need to shut him up and take him down. The unexpected move wasn’t blocked by the training sticks he held and she pushed against his core. He tumbled back two steps but now she was in his arms. She brought up a fist to punch him and he dropped a stick to block her.
This close she could feel what he felt. His frustrations and disappointment riled her on and she shoved back at him, enough power to clear his space and grab the dropped stick. He lifted a brow. “You’ve been failing at this all week. What are you going to do with that now?”
With a yell of frustration, she began her attack anew. The first few blows were parried easily and he was barely moving as her entire body went into every hit. He was an unmoving statue. She didn’t like that. A simple desire to see him on the ground spurred her on, had her stretch her mind out, pull at whatever she could, sending it all at him.
He blocked the first storage crate, his mask, and then another storage locker. She saw anger in his eyes. Good. She wasn’t worthless. Or weak. Whilst he blocked the second crate, she focused on his ankle and pulled. His leg buckled, falling forwards onto one knee and she hurried close, trying to strike him.
He was fast. Whatever she was about to do, he was there a second before, bouncing the blow back. Her frustrations and anger peaked and she felt it, felt his mind.
She saw it clearly and faked a strike to the left, changing her angle at the last second and striking at his core. The hit landed and she knew she had winded him from the way his face contorted.
Dropping the stave, she threw her entire being into the push she directed at him. He flew backwards, spinning in the air. Until he landed on the ground.
Grabbing the stick back with her force she charged him. She placed her weapon over his neck, panting and scowling. He laughed. The sound twisted inside her – why was he happy? She had bested him. And then she felt it. The darkness that had spurred her on, encouraged her movement.
She froze, dread filling her. Didn’t notice the hand moving, wrapping around her ankle until she was pulled to the ground. Her chest ached as the air was pushed from her lungs.
“Good,” he praised her slowly sitting up. All she could do was stare at the ceiling. “Very good.”
She felt sick and it wasn’t because of the blows. “The power you feel – don’t fear it. Embrace it. It will save your life.”
She closed her eyes and tried to centre herself. Tried to find the light. It was still there, a little clouded but she could feel it and that helped. When her breathing returned to normal, she opened her eyes and saw Kylo was standing. The room was as it had been when they entered.
He offered her his hand as she pushed herself up and she turned away from it. Struggled on shaking legs to stand.
They didn’t speak as they walked back to her room. She was disappointed at herself, felt guilty but the anger was still there ready and willing to embrace her. She remembered Kylo’s mind; how the anger was always there. She didn’t want to be like that.
At the door, he stilled her, a hand upon her wrist. “I will be leaving for a week. Read the datapad.”
And then he was gone and Rey was panicking. He was going. That meant a week locked in the room. A week with nothing but her thoughts. As much as she hated him, as much as she hated all of this, she had begun to enjoy the release of wailing on him.
Slinking into her room, she tried to meditate.
It took three days before boredom encased her enough to pick up the damn datapad. Whatever it told her, she doubted she wanted to read it. She expected some kind of philosophical text. Some twisted viewpoints set to slowly try and convert her down the path of darkness. Knowing that would make her cautious.
“Should be a laugh,” she decided when she finally went to the table and sat on the chair, tentatively picking up the pad. Whatever she expected, it hadn’t been that.
A note, clearly from Kylo, was all that the first page held. Flicking threw she saw a list of forms, a collection of meditative postures, and instruction on abilities. She skipped the last section – there was nothing she could do with her current lack of powers but the first two were useful. How could a form be dark or light side?
It gave her something to do. She would practice forms in the morning, eat, and then try meditation. The latter was harder and growing increasingly so with every day the inhibitor remained in place. That led to frustration and clouded her mind further.
The forms were good. There was barely enough space for them but she struggled through. It relieved the tension that grew from being confined and allowed her to exert herself.
It was easier to be there than in the cell. For nothing else, she had more meals. Twice a day and it was more than just a nutrient bar. She grew accustomed to the hum of the engines in the background, to her daily routine but Rey was bored. She knew that the Resistance wouldn’t give up on her. She knew it but it was still hard when each day passed without any word. She had to berate herself for being so eager to get others to risk their lives for hers. There was no doubt that that would be the risk either. She was on Kylo’s flagship. There were literally thousands of men and women who would do their best to try and stop any rescue attempt.
Rey should be able to do this on her own and she would but she would hardly have the chance locked in her room as she was. She focused on studying. He only needed to make one mistake and she would be out of there and flying straight back to the Resistance.
When after nine days her door opened outside of her designated food times, Rey was excited not afraid. This was what she wanted. This was how she would escape.
As was usual, they didn’t speak until they were in the training room, until his mask was off and she could feel the Force flowing through her again. “You read what I left you.”
It was a question as much as it was a statement.
Kylo nodded. “Good. Let us practice the forms.”
Rey did as she was instructed, all the while her mind raced at why he hadn’t jumped into their usual training regime. The longer they stayed on the forms the more she noticed the stiffness in his movement and slowly she began to realise why.
Once the idea formed, she sat on it, waiting for further evidence as he corrected her stances. She accepted his tuition easily and chose not to think on that. Chose not to think about how his style differed from Luke’s. How he seemed more hands-on, and as much as she hated the thought, more capable. He pushed her further too. Luke had focused two weeks on her first pose and she had forced back her frustration daily. Kylo was always pushing, demanding more. It was refreshing and disconcerting at the same time.
Eventually, he moved to the side, standing before the window as he instructed her. Like this, she felt more vulnerable. His eyes saw every mistake, every hesitation and he never shied away from telling her as such.
“Where did you go?” she asked on an exhale, wanting to dislodge his gaze. “Why did you go?”
“Do you really want to know the answer to that?” he replied frowning. “Twist your right leg more.”
She did as she was told; waiting for his nod before moving into the next position. “Probably not,” she agreed. She didn’t want to know if he had been killing her friends or anyone really. It was easy to forget that her tutor was a murderer when they were like this. Not that she should. She needed to remember it. To cling to the prospect of freedom. “You’re injured.”
“How very perceptive,” he commented. “Did you sense that from my mind?”
“Your body,” she replied closing her eyes and focusing on breathing as her core strained under the position. “Right leg.”
“An explosion threw me into a wall. I dislocated my hip.”
Rey, despite herself, winced. She had only dislocated one thing; her shoulder. There was no one to help her and she had had to use the wall of the AT-AT, slowly shoved it back into the socket. She had passed out from the pain not long after and been much more careful when lowering herself with rope after that.
“Pain teaches us caution better than any words,” he interrupted her thoughts and she turned to him. His eyes were studying her face not her form. “How old were you?”
She didn’t need to ask what he was referring to. She was momentarily annoyed that he had heard her story, or felt it, she wasn’t sure. “Fifteen.”
His eyes widened but only by millimetres and she sensed the slightest hint of admiration as he began to circle her, pausing when he stood behind her. “Would you return to that barren waste of a world?”
“What do you mean?”
She fell out of the position and straightened under his gaze, glancing over her shoulder to consider him. Rather than reply he moved them to the centre of the room and sat, waiting for her to kneel before him. “If you could forget everything that had happened, go back to your life on Jakku, would you go?”
“If you could go back to your youth, when you were still Ben Solo, would you?”
It was a low blow and his eyes rolled even if the anger bubbled. He was controlling himself well although it was probably easier to do outside of battle. “Move closer.”
Reluctantly, she did. The little space between them was breached, their knees touching. “You have learnt how to sense feelings. It is time you learnt how to acquire information.”
Rey blinked. Her gut told her no. She could still remember how intrusive it felt, how awful she had felt after forcing herself into his mind.
Kylo Ren removed his gloves and took hold of her wrists even as her heart pounded. “I don’t want to,” she breathed and he shook his head.
“Take hold of my wrists.”
She did as instructed; locking her fingers around his, as his were around hers. She could feel him. Could feel his slight apprehension, his tiredness. He was absolutely exhausted and yet he had come to train her.
“You’re nervous,” he told her and she kept her tongue. “It won’t hurt unless you want it to or I struggle. Today, I won’t.”
“Why do we have to do this?”
He chuckled but gave no answer. “Earlier you asked where I went and why. I want you to find the answer for yourself.”
She swallowed. She wondered if there was a way not to do this. If she could find an excuse or a way out.
“I am only teaching you the methods, it is up to you if you use them once you leave this room.”
“And when will that be?” she bit back but he didn’t respond.
“Close your eyes, feel out and into my mind.”
Rey focused on her breathing, trying to calm, to channel the light but it was overshadowed by the darkness within him. Slowly, she reached out, his mind was already beside hers and surprisingly open. It was different, stepping inside rather than just skimming off what was at the top.
It was encompassing, surrounding her. The darkness of his mind encouraged her further and she concentrated on ignoring it as she opened her eyes.
She was no longer in their training room but a dark space. The only illuminated thing was an image of Kylo Ren before her. She knew they were in his mind. He was everywhere. The anger he kept so close raging within the walls.
“Where are we?” she asked and he shrugged.
“In my mind. This room particularly? Your construction.”
“Right,” she let out an exhale. “How do I access your memories?”
He smirked. “You tell me.”
“I thought you weren’t going to resist me?”
“There’s a difference between resisting and offering.”
She didn’t like it. It was unnatural. It was wrong. She glanced around and as she did noticed doors appearing. Hundreds of them. The more she looked, the more appeared. Some were bolted and locked with heavy chains whilst others were simple and plain.
She bit her lip as she took a step in one direction, Kylo fell into place behind her, a heavy watchful stare. “These are new memories,” she decided looking at the crisp, clean doors. Glancing up they became more tired and worn.
“How do I know which one I want?”
“Use the Force.”
Rey closed her eyes and felt. There was a shift in the lighting, something guiding her and she followed. She stilled before the door and turned to Kylo, he nodded at her, encouraging, and she slid the door open.
It was over in a flash and she jolted back into her own body, breaking the connection between them as she shuffled back. His eyes watched her wearily as she did, he rubbed his wrists. Eyes flickering to them, she saw the little crescents of her nails pressed within.
“You killed them,” she accused but even as she said the words she knew that his actions weren’t without reason. They had attacked him first. That renegade bunch of space pirates that was shifting into something bigger and more dangerous. They had their sights on colonies. All he had done was disembarked when it began.
He nodded. “They were forming an army. It would have been capable. Would have meant many deaths.”
She chewed her lip. Being in his mind, seeing as he saw, the frustration as another man went down, and knowing that it was men and women under those suits. People who had been brainwashed. Their lives were important and she was hit with a wave of guilt from all those that would have died on Starkiller. Her feelings were twisted. They would have taken lives and so she took theirs.
“Does it ever stop?”
“The cycle of death?” he either guessed from her expression or sensed from her mind. “No. Not fully. People will always die.”
“Death and slaughter are not the same things.”
“And yet they will forever dance together whilst the First Order and the Resistance clash. They cause as many deaths as we do. How many deaths do you think Luke Skywalker has been responsible for? General Organa? Even you have killed, Rey. Your hands are not clean.”
She swallowed his words and they settled uneasily on her chest.
“We’re done for today.”
“No,” the words were out of her lips before she had the sense to clamp down on them. It stilled him as he stood, let him raise his brow at her. “I don’t want to go back. Not yet. Please.”
Kylo Ren glanced around the room and nodded. “I will return in an hour.”
It wasn’t what she expected; being given what she asked for. When the doors shut behind her and her powers remained with her, she should have tried to escape. It was the first real opportunity that she’d been given. The troopers outside the door could be manipulated into opening it. From there it would be difficult but she would have a chance. It would have been nearly impossible– the moment Kylo realised that she was no longer in their training room he could use his inhibitor and if she hadn’t gotten to some form of weapon by then it would be too late – but she didn’t really think about that until later.
Instead, she sat down in the centre of the padded floor and looked out to the stars. The formations had changed and they weren’t the only thing. Kylo Ren was not a good person. There was good within him, locked away tighter than any of those doors in his mind, but he wasn’t good. He cared little for the lives that he took but feeling his thoughts she knew that he did the best for those in his command. It was not out of compassion and kindness but a desire to win.
Rey thought about the sacrifices the Resistance made. How many they sent out on missions, knowing most would not make it out. Where was the difference?
The Resistance didn’t harm civilians and yet there were plenty of First Order run worlds where the civilians looked to the order for protection and order. There was conflict within her heart and it scared her. Scared her how far away the light was and how close the darkness felt. She thought about her friends – where were they?
Were they even looking for her?
Did they know she was still alive?
She bit her lip. Things were not as clear as they had once been and she could feel it but didn’t know how to stop it or what to think.
The door opened behind her and she hadn’t moved. Rather than say anything he simply sat down beside her and kept his vision on the stars. She turned to face him, studied his expression. He looked too calm and peaceful for one fraught with such anger. His mind reminded her of words unspoken; of whatever it was that was clearly hovering over him and she wanted to know what it was. What in the universe could make Kylo Ren almost look pleading? There was something more and she wasn’t entirely sure what it was but it didn’t feel evil or dark. Not that she knew what that meant or felt like besides the anger she had felt in him and her when they fought together on Starkiller.
“Are they looking for me?” she asked watching every movement.
“There have been no attempted rescues nor have we heard anything from our operatives relating to you,” he told her after a minute. “Other than that, I cannot say.”
She nodded something settling in her stomach. “I would like to practice forms.”
“As you wish.”
There was a shift inside her. Something fundamental. She wasn’t sure what it was except that it coincided with the door to her room ceasing to be sealed. The knowledge sat there untouched for a week. What was stopping her, she didn’t know, but the room was safe. No one had tried to hurt her here. The opposite really, considering she would have died without their intervention. Eventually she gathered herself enough to explore. She’d need to know the layout when she escaped after all.
The guards nodded to her as she passed, the one on the left asking, “Do you need directions?”
“No,” she stated and then hesitated. “Where are we?”
“Twentieth floor. Section C. Room 146.”
“Thank you,” she nodded and departed. The troopers ignored her as she passed, a few of the officers considered her more, but none said anything. Her feet moved, took her to the one room she knew.
Cautiously, she stepped inside. It was exactly as it always was and within a minute, she felt her powers returning to her. Her brow furrowed as she lifted a crate and then a smile broke out. She laughed.
For whatever reason, in that room her powers were her own. The inhibitor would come back into effect outside of those doors but inside she was free to feel as she should.
There wasn’t much to do inside the room except feel the force flow through her and so she practiced. She spent hours just holding things with her mind as she moved through positions, practiced fighting against no real opponent.
She felt when he approached, felt him hover outside the door before taking a step inside. The mask was removed before she turned to him.
“I see you discovered your new privileges.”
Carefully, she lowered the various crates that she was hovering. “Thank you.”
Kylo shook his head. “You earnt this, Rey.”
She wanted to ask how but she also didn’t want to know the answer. Her mind wasn’t working as it should. She wasn’t thinking the thoughts she knew she was meant to be. Silence settled over them and she shouldn’t have felt content but she did.
“I am leaving for a few days,” he told her and she bit back against the wave of disappointment in her mind. It would be easier this time, if she could look around and occupy herself with that. “I would like you to join me.”
Her mind twisted. She turned to him but his face was steady. There was apprehension upon the surface of his thoughts. She didn’t look any deeper than that. What did he expect of her? What would he show her?
“Reports of pirates in Ando Sector need investigating.”
“Pirates?” she asked, surprised. “I thought that would be beneath you.”
“We’re close and battle keeps your abilities honed.”
“Do you expect there will be fighting?” she asked watching as he stood, offering her a hand.
“Probably.” She accepted, his strength reverberating through her as he hauled her to her feet as though she weighed nothing. “The planet will be cold. You should have something suitable in your room. I will collect you when the shuttle is ready.”
Rey ducked out of the room and went the opposite direction to him – taking the route so often treaded she could manage it with her eyes closed. There were no guards at her door as she headed inside and moved over to the locker. The majority of it was the same as what she always wore. Black trousers and a grey top but at the edge she noticed the thicker grey shawl. As she pulled it out she realised it was less of a shawl and more of a robe. It hung heavily over her and she used a thin scarf as a belt, wrapping it around the middle as many times as she could. The fabric was heavy and warm, almost stifling after so long in just a strapped top.
She was still fiddling with the fit when her door opened. He didn’t enter but she moved out, falling into step beside him. She paid attention to the route down into the shuttle bay and blinked back memories of the sight of his black shuttle. The last time she had been on that thing it had not been voluntarily.
If he noted her apprehension, he ignored it. There were a group of Stormtroopers awaiting his arrival. Again, they did not question her or what she was doing, waiting until the two of them were aboard before filing on and filling the many seats at the back.
She took the seat next to Kylo in the cockpit, a nameless Stormtrooper punching in co-ordinates before they departed.
When they exited she saw the tie-fighter’s flying around them. It would be a dominating sight for many in the galaxy. Rey didn’t feel scared.
The world of Ando was primarily water, Rey discovered as they descended, her eyes caught on the endless rippling waves. She felt Kylo’s amusement as she leant forwards in her seat to view it more. It was like Ahch-To but so very different.
Every new world was so different, Rey thought, wondering if she would ever get tired of seeing a new one. Land slowly came into view, a settlement including a construct that was built partially into the water. There was a landing pad close to it.
They descended and stood together, Kylo moving to the ramp before it began to descend.
“Here,” he passed her a pistol and she frowned at it. “Just take it.”
Accepting it, she tucked it into her make-shift belt and watched the swamp-like surface come into view. They were greeted by a dignitary who spluttered nervously about how glad they were for the First Order to be visiting, how honoured that the mighty Kylo Ren would deign to visit them himself.
Rey snorted under her breath, drawing a withered look from the dignitary.
Kylo raised his hand to stop the man dead. “We are here to investigate reports that ships originating in this sector have been pirating goods from vessels including First Order vessels.”
“My lord,” the man stammered. “We would never –“
“Silence,” Kylo shut him up and without access to the Force, she wasn’t sure if it was Kylo’s influence or the man’s love of his life that cut his vocal chords. “Leave us.”
The man bowed as he quickly departed and Rey watched the ease in which Kylo ordered his men into different squads. They disappeared into the various facilities and buildings without question and Rey felt a little sick at the thought of Finn being one of those.
She pushed that feeling back as he stepped into the main building. There were plenty of people of a variety of species inside, most none too happy at the sight of him. The looks cast her way were warier, uncertain, where they knew nothing good could come from Kylo Ren’s arrival.
No one stood in their way as they as they navigated the main halls and corridors. Something didn’t feel right. She wished she could investigate more but she couldn’t, instead as they entered another winding corridor, she turned to him.
He considered her and nodded, leading them into a room which was, for all purposes, just storage.
“There’s something through there,” Rey told him. The Force was slippery but she could feel that much.
He lifted the boxes away, none too careful where they landed, revealing the door. Kylo drew his sabre and she her blaster, wishing too much for her own sabre. She didn’t even know where it was or if it had survived the crash. The door creaked in protest as Kylo forced it open and the smell cut through her, made her want to gag.
It was rotten with blood and goodness knows what else. Kylo stepped inside first but the room was dark save the red hue of his blade. Even then she could see the pile of bodies and the implements of torture. She felt her stomach twist at the pile of clothing; Stormtrooper, Resistance, and civilian apparel alike.
“This is sick,” she spoke roughly, unwilling to breathe in again.
She backed out of the room, wanting to collapse from what she had seen when a small beeping sounded behind her.
“Rey!” her name was shouted and she was thrown away, into something solid the moment before the place where she had been standing exploded. She gasped at the pain that blossomed up her side as she struggled to stand; the sounds of blaster bolts filled the air around her.
She reacted quickly, moving into a crouch and aiming her gun at the stream of attackers filling in. They were not the same people they had first seen. These men were vicious. Just to look at them she knew that these were the killers. These were the blood-thirsty monsters. She wanted to know why but the image of the bodies, the severed limps and eyeless sockets spurred her on as she fired, glad as Kylo cut through them.
She felt no remorse as the body pile grew, adding a few to the selection herself, until the room silenced save only the hum of his blade and their breathing.
“Get here now,” Kylo commanded and she knew it wasn’t to her. “If anyone resists, kill them. I am returning to the shuttle. Clean this mess up.”
The reply wasn’t available to her as she stood, wincing at the pain. Kylo moved to her, killing his sabre and holstering it. “Are you injured?” he asked, catching her wrist as she poked her side and winced. She shook her head.
“Let me check,” he insisted and she held still as he pushed up her robe and the shirt beneath it. She glanced at the ceiling when he removed his glove and felt along the cut she had missed. It was shallow and would heal naturally with time. Tracing the line with her eyes she did not see him still or close his eyes only felt it as his power poured into her, gasped as the pain receded to a dull ache. He stood, letting the fabric drop.
“We should go.”
She followed him, readjusting her clothing as she did, not looking down as she stepped over the pile at the entrance to the corridor. No one else confronted them as they retreated to the ship. Once outside, she saw a growing pile of bodies and couldn’t find sympathy.
The shuttle was clean and the smell retreated from her senses even if the sights didn’t. She sat and waited as orders were given out outside the shuttle. Instead, she focused on the ocean. It was easier that way, to see the beauty and not the bodies behind it.
It was a while before the other’s returned and not all the seats were full.
“Credits. Parts. Information,” Kylo shrugged.
“You’ve seen this before?”
“Similar,” he admitted and that made her feel sick all over again. The hand that landed against her knee wasn’t expected but she didn’t shrug it off. It was comforting, even though it shouldn’t have been.
They were quiet after that as they headed back to his ship.
The lock on her door didn’t return.
Rey slowly spent her time getting to grips with the ship. It was massive and she got lost a few times but the panels responded to her touch, showing her points of interest and her current position even if they wouldn’t tell anything else. Short of prying of the panel to try and rewire it, there was little enough she could do about that.
She found the cells where she had been kept and she found the medical bay where she had first woken up. Other things, like the shuttle bay, the mess hall, general crew quarters were discovered without even trying. The ship had logic to its layout. Made it easy enough to follow once she had the general gist of it.
No one ever stopped her wanderings.
When she was done, she returned to her room and didn’t feel as much as a captive as she once had. She still was a prisoner. The lock on her powers a tease at the back of her mind. At least she was able to go to the training room and feel it wrap around her, a small comfort when she was at her worst.
He trained her consistently and with a slow growing pride that she couldn’t admit she enjoyed. Besting him in combat, perfecting a form, guessing what he was thinking – they all brought that same admiration back into his eyes that warmed her chest.
The bruising on her side dissipated faster than it should have – Kylo’s influence, she had little doubt – and she wanted to talk about it. It never came up.
Their conversations increased past discussion on her training slowly. Painfully so. Kylo made little attempt to discuss what was happening outside of the walls they found themselves trapped in for hours. Rey didn’t want to challenge it. There was a tentative truce between them and her mind was too confused and conflicted to push it away and seek back that animosity.
“Why did you do it?” Rey asked staring at the ceiling. She’d been knocked unconscious for a minute and was slowly coming around, the room having finally stopped spinning. Kylo was crouched over her and though his expression was calm she could sense concern. Remembering how it had felt to fly through the air, she imagined it had made quite a sight with her flipping backwards. The apprehension which usually kept her thoughts at bay was gone and her mind was focused on the one thing she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to forgive.
“Do what?” he asked sitting back on his ankles now her eyes were open. She made no movement yet, her back hurt and her ribs and her leg.
“Kill him. Your father.”
A low sigh filled the space and then nothing. Rey waited.
“My master instructed me to.”
“And so you did it?” she turned to him, brow furrowed. “No questions at all?”
“It was not the picture as you paint it,” he turned his gaze away from her and was shielding his mind. She wanted to push but at the same time she didn’t. She doubted there would be anything he could say to change her mind on the whole incident but if there was – where would that put her?
“You didn’t have a choice?” he didn’t respond and she struggled to piece everything together. What would force someone to kill their own father like that? What would it take? She thought about it for a long minute and remembered the anger but beneath it the fear that they didn’t speak about. “To fail would have meant your death.”
“Not necessarily but something close to it,” Kylo informed her and she hated it. She would never understand how he could turn so readily to the dark. How he could work for someone like Snoke. Someone without a hint of humanity or compassion.
“I don’t think I like your master.”
A chuckle escaped Kylo’s lips but it was bitter. “No, I don’t expect that you would.”
“Why do you serve him?”
That was the question that had Kylo turn and silence her questions with a look. A warning. A plea. Still, she wanted to push. Rey could see the glimmer. That spark of good, the tiniest part of him that was not hopelessly swallowed in darkness.
“I’ll never serve him.”
“That is the idea,” Kylo rolled his shoulders and stood. There was something that he wasn’t telling her. She had known from the first moment that he had brought her into the training room. Every now and then a piece would slip through and she was slowing building up the puzzle. It intrigued her. Whatever it was she had decided that he needed her. Rey wanted to know what it was so she could finally make her decision on him but she knew better than to do so outright.
As always, he turned back to her and offered her his hand. She stared at it but made no movement. “I don’t know who my father is,” she told him plainly. “Or my mother. Or any family. They abandoned me on Jakku as a girl. I would have given anything to have them just come back to me but they didn’t. They left me there. They’re never coming back.”
“You aren’t alone, Rey,” he told her simply, eyes searching hers. “You don’t have to be alone ever again.”
She pursed her lips at him. It was a tempting offer.
“I won’t join them. Or him and I certainly won’t kill someone close to me just because you tell me to.”
His fingers held firm. “I know.”
Nodding, she slid her hand into his. His hands were warm and his strength obvious in how he helped her rise. He lowered her hand without dropping it.
“How do you feel?”
“My back hurts but I’ll be fine.”
“Take your time in the refresher,” he advised her finally stepping backwards. “It’ll help.”
Silently, they walked out of the training room and Kylo no longer felt the need to walk her back to her room, leaving her and disappearing to areas unknown. Rey’s heart only began to settle when she was back in her room.
Things were blurring.
Whoever she had spoken to about the Force had always defined it as two sides; good and bad, right and wrong, dark and light. Rey knew the light. It flowed through her easily as it had Master Skywalker. It was protective and offered guidance. Rey had also felt the darkness in Kylo, and more intimidatingly, within herself. There was a seduction to it, a power that seemed tremendous and unrivalled.
Everyone wanted to place things into one of the two sides. The Resistance were good and the First Order were bad. Luke Skywalker represented the light and Kylo Ren the darkness. Rey didn’t know where she fit in. The light called to her but it was constraining. Luke lived by the Jedi code and it was solitary and restricted. There was darkness within her too. She could feel it. Fear and anger stepping stones that offered her the path deeper within. It promised freedom and power but Rey didn’t want power.
Neither side would truly give her that. To align with the light was to side with the Resistance. She would become a powerful tool and she would help because it was the right thing to do. Darkness was a trickier path. She knew from Kylo that he wasn’t truly free. Whatever he did ultimately came from his master’s bidding. Both sides led to death.
She wasn’t as blind as Kylo to think that both sides were equally bad. The Resistance was there to stop the massacres and dictatorship that the First Order would enforce. The light still called to her but was it so terrible to dabble with both?
If there was a line to walk, between good and bad, that was where Rey was.
Exploring quickly became the tool to ease her boredom between training sessions. Loathe as she was to admit it, they were the most enjoyable part of her day, and not solely for the physical exertion. There was a twisted enjoyment whenever she bested him in a manoeuvre or succeeded in something he had instructed her to do but his company was not as horrendous as she once thought. It felt like a betrayal to even admit that to herself.
This was her prison. He was her captor.
She told herself it time and time again but that felt less true the more that time passed. There was something deeper that he couldn’t explain and she accepted that for now. She wasn’t sure how long she could accept his warnings to not voice those questions but she believed he had a reason for wanting to train her. There were other clues as well. Absences she had noticed. And it was hard to feel like a true prisoner when given free rein on the ship with no guard. It was more than she was given on the Resistance bases whenever she first arrived.
That’s different, she shook her head. They gave her guides more than guards. Somewhere along the way she had noticed the way her mind was shifting, how subtly it twisted against the resistance. She still believed in their cause. It was just hard to keep that close when she hadn’t heard or seen from them in a few months.
It wasn’t even like Kylo was vilifying them to her either. Sometimes they would get into debates about the First Order and the Resistance but he was hardly lecturing her or outwardly trying to convert her. In fact, a lot of the time that the Resistance came up it was because she mentioned it. Kylo seemed more than content enough to simply focus conversation to training her although he did indulge her conversations. It had been two days since their talk about Han Solo and there had been no repercussions. She highly doubted there were many other people who could do the same.
She was milling about on a viewing platform overlooking one of the hangar bays. She watched the hustle of the troopers, always in a hurry, and many departures and arrivals of transports or fighters too. This wasn’t the only hangar bay but was clearly one of the busiest. Rey was watching a particularly ungraceful landing when she felt his approach.
Without her access to the Force, she seemed more drawn to his. She could still sense outwards a little to see but not touch and his affinity with the Force was a beacon to her straining powers. It would have been easy to slip away but she didn’t feel the need to.
The heavy tread of his boots filtered into the room and she turned from where she had squeezed herself into the window ledge when she tired of standing. The mask was on. Furrowing her brow, she turned back to the window.
“Some of your pilots need work. That last landing was sloppy,” she told him as his steps drew closer still. The mask still unnerved her taking her back to the forest of Takodana, reminding her the fear she felt when she had first seen him emerge from the woods.
The hiss of the mask releasing was a familiar sound and the tension that had built deflated with it. He placed the heavy piece of equipment down by her feet. “Perhaps you would wish to train them?”
She snorted. “I doubt that my style would fit theirs and it’s not bad, just sloppy.”
“How did you learn to fly?”
“I fixed a lot of things on Jakku,” she explained watching a tie-fighter lift off. It wobbled as it lifted and she shook her head. “Including an old Y-Wing. It had flight simulations, language abilities and starship schematics. I took it back and practiced flying. There really isn’t a lot to do on Jakku at night.”
“You’re self-taught then? That’s impressive.”
There was warmth in his tone and flicking her gaze towards him, she instantly wished she hadn’t. He looked so much more human now. An average person who could make mistakes like everyone else. It was too easy to forget who he was like this. Even more so when he was looking at her like that. There was pride in his eyes for her accomplishments, glad that she had succeeded and it made her chest warm. No one had ever been proud of her like that before and certainly not for actions she had done years before evening meeting them. Plutt might have appreciated her skill but it was only so he could exploit it. She didn’t feel exploited now.
“What brings you down here?” she asked to change the topic away from her.
“I could ask you the same thing,” he noted, eyes considering the hangar below her. “Some of my men landed shortly. I want their report. Do you wish to come? I cannot guarantee it will be more entertaining than watching ships.”
“What kind of report?”
“Just an update from the rest of the fleet.”
Rey swung her legs off of the window ledge and considered him directly. Sitting whilst he stood wasn’t her smartest idea as he towered over her. It could have been intimidating but there was no anger in his eyes that moment and certainly no desire to harm her. She remembered back to Ando, how he had checked over her. His mask was still on, his voice augmented but she had felt the concern. Remembering it now her stomach tightened. She wasn’t used to the way he looked at her and certainly not to the way she felt when being protected by him. Swallowing hard she pushed it aside, “Where are the rest of the fleet? I heard of a General Hux.”
His eyebrow twitched, clearly in frustration. “Hux is with the bulk of the fleet no doubt finding a new base of operations and whatever else my master would have him do.”
“Sorry but I’m not sorry about destroying your last base. All things considered.”
“No. I don’t imagine you would be. Starkiller was capable of mass destruction in an instant.”
“Would it have affected you if you had succeeded? If your weapon destroyed the Resistance base? Killed your mother?”
“It was not my plan,” he told her collecting his mask but he turned to her before he put it on, adding, “But yes.”
There were stories about Darth Vader. About the sound of his breathing and she was glad that Kylo’s mask had nothing like that save the mechanical tone of his voice. They walked in silence down a set of corridors she wasn’t entirely sure she’d traversed before. It was entirely possible that she hadn’t. The ship was bigger than the entirety of Nima Outpost.
Either way, Rey paid attention to the route that they followed, filing away any information that might be useful to her in the future. Even if those thoughts seemed to get further away with each passing day.
Weeks turned into months and her thoughts became more focused on her training, wanting to improve, to master the skills he taught her. Her initial driving force for doing so sitting at the back of her mind, only occasionally rearing itself.
The droid he had brought in for her to fight was nothing but a pile of smoking parts as she panted, leaning on her knees as Kylo came to her side. He squeezed her shoulder. The touches had grown in frequency too. He helped guide her forms and through moves with more than just his mind or voice. She felt grounded when he did.
“Good,” he commented. “We’re done for the day.”
She straightened and his hand fell away. She used the force to levitate the pieces of the droid into a crate as he moved to collect his mask. He held it in his hands as she finished up, contemplating her from the window.
It had been a long session today and she felt drained in every sense of the word. Her hair was matted to her face from where it had fallen loose of her buns and she could feel the dampness of her clothes as they clung to her. A glance to Kylo who had never removed the outermost layer of his clothing made her wonder how he managed it. He was hardly a passive instructor.
“A source of information has presented itself. I am required to go and collect it. Would you like to join me?”
The difference between his voice without the mask compared to with was palpable. Normally she didn't notice, at least not consciously, but she couldn't help noticing it now. It was smooth and inviting where the other was distant and cold. Hearing him speak as naturally as anyone else reminded him he was a person who could make mistakes like everyone else. After a moment of silence, she realised she was staring and turned away, feeling her cheeks blush when she tried to recall what he had said. Her mind was filled with the images that had haunted her dreams. It made her hesitate. “Where?”
“The Corellian System. Drall, to be specific.”
A vague recognition of the system name swept over her. Memories came back to her of where she had heard of it. It was the home of quite a few in the Resistance. One in particular she didn’t want to think about so close to his killer. “Isn’t it under Resistance control?”
“We’ll be quiet and careful. It’s only information I intend to gather.”
“What sort of information?”
“Trade routes and flight plans primarily.”
There was something in his eyes when they met, almost imploring her to ask more. Rey didn’t need to, didn’t want to. Whatever peace she had found would be threatened if the information was on who she thought it was. She refused to even admit it to herself.
“How many are going?”
“Just you and I.”
Rey’s chest beat a little faster and she wasn’t sure why. Words failed her and after a minute, Kylo stood off of the window and came to stand by her side.
“I promise you, it will be nothing like what you experienced last time.”
“I’m not afraid,” she insisted feeling a hint of frustration as he shrugged.
“I would not blame you if you were. What we saw on Ando was… unsettling,” Rey nodded. There had been nightmares, not often, but occasionally. Just remembering the mangled nature of the bodies, how they had been tossed away with such lack of care or respect – but Kylo had not agreed with it either. She drew on that. Maybe there were worst monsters out there than she thought. “But Drall is, would be, a very different experience.”
“I will go,” she agreed before she could think further on it, in no part because she wanted to prove her memories weren't holding her back. Obviously. There were other factors that helped sway her decision, not least getting off of the ship and to experience somewhere new.
Kylo seemed pleased and that made the decision more bearable. As much as she had hated aspects of her situation, she had grown appreciative of the care he took with her and the time. He had superior knowledge and helped her understand her powers. When she finally succeeded on a lesson, he was there beaming alongside her and praising her. Her heart pounded when he smiled at her and it was becoming harder to deny why.
Rey returned to her room alone. It took until after she had washed to realise that her powers hadn’t been taken away. The thrum of the Force was just below her skin. Exiting the refresher with just a towel around her she considered her abode. There were no guards outside her door. With what he had given her in knowledge she could easily lift ship schematics from a Stormtrooper. From there she could grab a shuttle and escape. It wouldn’t matter if he took her powers back after that – the Resistance would help her.
Her thoughts twisted at the Resistance. She knew that they hadn’t betrayed her or abandoned her but it felt that way. Someone must have gone to her shuttle sight at some point. What would they have thought when they hadn’t noticed a body? Why hadn’t they searched harder?
Rey shook her head. She had spent hours thinking about this same thing when she had first arrived here and it never got her anywhere. It would have been easy to get caught up in an internal debate about her situation and what she was doing. Brushing it all aside, she went to inspect the package of clothing that had been left on her desk and brought them over to her bed.
It was civilian and plain. They were going under the radar and she was genuinely excited about it. She changed quickly and undid her hair, letting it hang loosely around her face. Moving over to the mirror she blinked at the sight. She didn’t quite look as she used to. Her hair was longer, loose waves from where it had been bound tightly, but in her face there was something different. She couldn’t put her finger on it and turned away, readjusting the fabric of her arm.
The clothes itched, the fabric not as good as what she wore the rest of the time. The top was made of a woollen blend and had a rough finish but clung to her body like her old clothes from Jakku had. The skirt was long enough, just past her knees but no skin was showing with boots covering her lower legs. It wasn’t as flexible either but she understood the purpose. They needed to fit in.
Rey was considering what sort of world these clothes would work for; what temperatures, what climate – they were too heavy for Jakku and too thin for Ahch-To. It was always a mystery going to a new planet and she wanted to see them all, see the different colours the universe could offer her.
Rey sensed Kylo approaching and was fiddling with the boot fastenings when he entered. Flicking her gaze up, she was surprised. Rey had seen more of Kylo Ren than most but she’d never seen him look so casual and so easy-going. The outfit suited him. His face was hooded, a sheet of fabric wrapped around the lower half of his face to hide his appearance. The hood stretched down and attached to a leather jacket, a soft brown in colour, that clung to the muscled outline of his arms. The top beneath hung against to his form, heavy trousers clinging to his hips.
In another world, he could have been a Resistance officer with a fleet of women after him. The thought made her bristle and that made her blush and turn her gaze away. She stood before he got close enough to offer assistance and he crossed his arms, considering her.
“The outfit fits?”
Nodding she affixed the loose belt around her hips. “Have you been to Drall before?”
“Yes. A few times. Mostly in my youth,” that drew her attention but he was shaking his head when their eyes met. “These outfits are entirely typical.”
“Isn’t that the point? Anything else might draw attention.”
Taking a step closer to her, he swept some loose strands of hair behind her ear. “Fearing you are drawing attention can draw more than you would think,” he told her before reaching behind his back and pulling out a blaster like she had taken on Ando.
Contemplatively, she holstered it within the belt. “I’ve never been trained with a pistol or a blaster. Not properly.”
His eyebrow lifted. “I would have assumed that the Resistance -“
“Encouraged me to go to Skywalker immediately after Starkiller,” she interrupted. “No time for blaster training before then.” Nothing more than a few words at any rate.
“Make sure your hand is steady and let the force guide you. After that, it becomes easy.”
“I shouldn’t need this today though,” she flicked her gaze back at him. “Will I?”
“No,” he reassured and it did calm her. Ando was one thing. Drall was Resistance-controlled. Any violence would not bode well for them. “Are you ready?”
She turned to the door and felt their joint eagerness. Kylo wanted the thrill of a mission, Rey just wanted to feel fresh air on her skin and to experience somewhere new. They walked in silence towards the shuttle bay. The journey was convoluted from her room and she drew many curious glances whilst the Stormtroopers averted their gaze from Kylo.
It spoke poorly of his outfit’s ability to disguise until the sabre at his belt was considered, alongside his height which was substantial. Especially compared to her. Something he had used to his advantage many times when they were sparring.
When he stilled them, she blinked. Instead of boarding his usual sleek shuttle, they went to an old beaten thing that looked like a few good knocks and it would be out for the count.
Rey lifted her brow as they headed on board. There was no compliment of Stormtroopers this time. None around save them.
He shook his head. “It’s sturdier than it looks.”
“Does it even have Hyperdrive?”
Kylo gestured to the pilot’s seat. “See for yourself.”
Her eyes widened. “Really?”
“The co-ordinates have already been inputted. We can leave when you are ready.”
Gleefully was the only way to describe how she scrambled into the seat and began preparing the launch. Kylo sat beside her and watched. She was used to his gaze. It didn’t bother her as it should. Not a lot of things did. She chose not to think on it. When the shuttle thrummed to life, she beamed ear to ear.
A crackle came through the comms and she hesitated until the smooth voice came through, “Shuttle 5638 you are clear for take-off.”
“Copy that,” Rey answered and then quickly turned the radio off, glancing at the array of controls before her. She let everything sink into her and began initiating take off. It shuddered under them but as they gained height, the vessel levelled off as she guided them out of the Hangar. A thousand stars greeted her and she felt her chest expand.
“Not bad, actually,” she declared, turning to Kylo. He wasn’t practically vibrating with excitement as Rey was, more collected in his response as he nodded to her. The giveaway was the way the edges of his lips lifted.
“It should suffice. Provided you manage not to crash land us.”
“Ha,” she drawled. “So funny.”
“I have every faith in your piloting abilities,” he told her with open sincerity which seared through her chest and did things to her stomach she wasn’t used to.
“Let’s hope you’re still saying that when we reach Drall.”
A light chuckle filled the cabin and Rey had to focus on what she was doing and put the ship into hyperdrive because she had no idea what to do with the bubbling sensation spreading through her. As the stars began to blur around them, Rey settled back, mind completely clear of all thoughts save that of the mission ahead of them.
Not once did she consider the true opportunity before her or make moves to take advantage of it.
Drall was not as cold as Ando or as windy as Ahch-To. It was somewhere in the middle, somewhere where the sun could be felt against her skin and warmed it without burning. There were always clouds in the sky and she could have watched them for hours.
They had a job to do, however. Rey landed the shuttle where Kylo told her and locked the console with a code that only they knew before heading out.
The city bustled around them. There were market stalls open and traders trying to sell their wares as soon as they left the port. The smell of fish was strong but she breathed it all in. There was so much life around them, it was all she could do not to let the force flow out of her and feel the many different minds.
Kylo tucked her arm in his and she didn’t falter, seeing many pairs walking as such through the market. “You could if you want to, although any of those sensitive to the Force in the area would sense you immediately.”
She froze, flicking her gaze to his face. His lips were covered but she could see the amusement in his eyes, felt it too. “You think that I simply forgot? No, Rey. Your powers are yours. I never intended to keep them from you permanently.”
A great weight lifted off her chest and she could have done anything. Anything at all. There were no lines of Stormtroopers to apprehend her and she doubted if Kylo Ren would want to reveal himself here. Instead, she carried on walking, their arms linked. She wanted to see this through. At least, that’s what she told herself.
“Where are we going?” she asked as he guided them with sure steps.
“A little cantina not far from here. Our target should be in the back.”
She was almost reticent to head inside when there was so much life bustling outside. The urgency inside Kylo pushed her on. This close his feelings bubbled into hers and hers back at him. It was comforting, to know there was someone there alongside her, someone who knew how it felt. She’d purposefully avoided asking details as they had journeyed so each step and turn was a surprise to her.
The cantina was dark and dingy. A band played a melody that she didn’t recognise. The bartender scowled at them as they walked by. They ignored everything as Kylo moved them to the staircase at the back. The steps creaked beneath his weight but her steps were lighter, silent. There was an odd smell in the air that agitated her nose and she had a sensation crawling up her neck that made her want to just get out of there.
Kylo didn’t hesitate as he walked towards the door as if he’d travelled these steps a thousand times. It was the confidence. Whether he knew where he was going or not, he looked like he did and so people didn’t question.
He knocked on an old door and a gruff, voice called out, “Whatd’ya want?”
“To discuss something of value. You are expecting me.”
Kylo’s voice was smooth as silk uninhibited by his mask. Almost a verbal caress, calming and reassuring but without any compulsion from the use of the Force. Footsteps came close to the door before it opened. An old, haggard looking human greeted them, doing a quick once-over the pair before stepping inside. She cast Kylo a curious glance as they entered from the sight – and stench – of him he was exactly the sort she had avoided on Nima Outpost.
“You got what I asked for?” he grunted sitting back in his chair.
“Five thousand credits, ready to go into your account the moment I have what I came for.”
The old man sneered. “That’s not a lot, nowadays. Not with the Resistance breathing down my neck, watching my every move. I need something more.”
She felt the twitch of annoyance as she came to stand beside Kylo, brushed her arm along his. “And what is it you would like?”
“Transport off this world. Ten thousand credits and a promise of protection in the future.”
The silkiness of his voice was gone. “You ask too much, old man.”
“You think I don’t know what this information is worth?” he snorted. “Go back to your masters, I’ll be here till the end of the week.” The old man’s eyes shifted to Rey, considering her openly, sly smile growing that made her skin crawl. “Leave the girl here. I’ll keep her company. Heck, I’ll even shave off a thousand credits off the asking price for the privilege. Two if she’s good.”
A noise of disgust left her throat. She wanted to hit him or at least insult him but Kylo was faster; his lightsabre flew from his belt and was in his hand in a blink. The humming filled the room and the red of it reflected off the man’s face. Rey tasted the man’s fear as he scampered back into his chair. He went for a gun on the table but it wouldn’t lift. Rey had no intention of a fire-fight and held it with little concentration.
“You will give me the information now and be thankful I let you keep your life,” Kylo gritted without the mask to augment his voice the disgust and hatred was thick.
The man shook his head. “I don’t have it. Not on me. I sent it to a friend on Corellia for safe keeping! If you kill me, you’ll never get it.”
Kylo shook his head, voice dangerously low as he spoke. “What makes you think I need to leave this room to get what I need? You have the information. You’ve seen it.”
Rey was pulled back to a time not long in the past where she was sat in the old man’s position. When she had something that Kylo Ren needed and wasn’t willing to pass it on. Her stomach twisted and she stepped between them.
Outrage broke out over Kylo’s face but before he could speak, she placed her finger over his lips. “Let me.”
She remembered what he had said. It only hurt if they resisted or if the intruder wanted it to and Kylo clearly wanted to hurt this man and Rey had no need to protect him but she wouldn’t see him die. His hand wrapped around her wrist and lowered her arm, but he was accepting her proposition.
Rey turned to the man, knelt before him. There was such confusion and fear. She could lessen his pain if nothing else. He was shaking as she placed her hands upon his knees, forcing their eyes to meet. “I can help you,” she told him softly but his gaze kept flicking back to Kylo’s. “We won’t leave this room without that information, so don’t try to fight it. This will be easier if you just let me have it. Please.”
“I have your word? I’ll keep my life? I swear, I didn’t know it was him,” he hissed and Rey smiled softly, trying to calm.
“You have my word.”
The old man closed his eyes and shuddered, nodding once and Rey felt out with her unbidden power. It was different this time. He was no force user. He didn’t have the room to greet her, didn’t have hundreds of doors. Instead, she just lifted the memories. The star-maps, the trade routes, the upcoming shipment of ammunition which would kill thousands in the name of saving them.
She took it all and dug a little deeper, tried to find anything else he might be hiding. When she was sure she had everything, she stood and turned her Kylo, not sparing the man behind another glance. Her hand wrapped around Kylo’s to make it easier as she closed her eyes and she fed everything across to him, unbidden.
“Did I miss anything?” she asked when she opened her eyes and he was staring down at her in wonderment.
“No,” his voice was uneven. “Wipe his memory. He didn’t see us.”
She bit her lip. “I’ve never done that before.”
He threaded his fingers through hers. “I’ll guide you,” he murmured and she felt the instructions slot into place. It seemed cruel but she knew the alternative and this was much better.
So she knelt before him and slipped into his mind a second time. Plucked the last half an hour from his memory and burned away the images, the sights, the sounds. When she was done, he slumped forwards, blood running from his nose.
Kylo helped her stand. “Come.”
Without hesitating, she followed, out of the cantina, back into the hustle and bustle of the market. She expected to be taken straight back to the shuttle but he didn’t, leading her a new route. Her mind was racing as they walked until the buildings thinned until they stood before a clearing, a field which held long thing grains that moved with the winds. Past that, there was a woods where the trees called to her. They were nothing compared to Takodana’s tall indomitable ones and she could see fruit hanging from them. It was beautiful. It wasn’t fear of where that took hold of her mind but realisation of what she had just done willingly.
She didn’t realise that their hands were still grasped until he squeezed hers, stopping them before they could enter the field. She turned expecting an answer but his expression was cut off from her, eyes focused on some place behind or through her. She tried to feel his surface thoughts but they were blocked from her too. Her brow furrowed as she considered him.
Slowly, he released her hand, only to lift her other arm and slide back the fabric. “Do you trust me?” he murmured, reaching into his belt and pulling out a small dagger. Her eyes widened but she forced herself to calm.
“Yes,” if he wanted to kill her, he had had a thousand or more chances.
“This will hurt,” he murmured and she gasped as the blade cut into her flesh, clutched her fist together, trying to focus that into her core, use it later as he had taught her. She closed her eyes when he swapped the dagger for a tweezers-like implement. She wanted to fall to her knees as he moved beneath her skin but forced herself to be strong.
When he moved the tool, she felt as something was pulled out of her and shuddered. The chip was there, out in the open, stained with her blood. Without being told she knew what it was, what this meant.
He placed it into her free hand before covering the wound, letting the force flow between them, letting his energy heal her. She sagged forwards and he caught her in his arms, guiding them both to the ground on their knees.
“You are free,” he told her brushing fingers into her loose hair, the motion sending shivers down her spine. “If you wish to leave, I will not stop you.”
Her eyes turned to him, wide, uncertain. “Why?”
“I cannot keep you, cannot train you anymore if you don’t want to stay. Neither of us will benefit if this is forced on you. The choice is yours, Rey.”
“And if I leave, you promise to let me go?”
Kylo breathed the word into her mind so she knew it was the truth. Yes.
Her heart shuddered and pounded as she sat on a precipice she hadn’t expected to arrive. Not then. Kylo Ren was offering her freedom. Had brought her to a Resistance world. It would be so easy to step into the crowds and find her way back to D’Qar and Luke. Her mind rebelled against the thought. She felt powerful, trusted, appreciated and she didn’t want to let that go. There was more that she didn’t want to let go too.
He had no way to control her now. None. If she stayed, it would be her choice.
That power washed through her as she leant up to him, so that they were eye-to-eye, she let her hands land upon his chest and felt the thundering beneath. “You may train me,” she whispered as he watched her intently. “But we are equals.”
Kylo nodded. “I have never seen you as anything less.”
Rey struggled to stand. The weight of indecision felt like it could crush her but there were only two choices here. All she had to do was make hers and commit. Kylo Ren watched her as her finger traced the line he had cut her, as she turned and looked back to the city they had left. She didn’t believe in his cause. She didn’t trust his people but she did trust him.
Slowly, she lowered her hand and offered her outstretched hand to him, a parody on a move he had made a hundred times.
Kylo accepted, eyes unblinking as he stood and brought her into his arms. “Let’s go.”
Rey breathed it in, felt the power between them and for once wasn’t scared by it. Their hands stayed connected as they walked back to the shuttle and Rey didn’t look back at the broken chips she had crushed with her mind and left on the ground. Neither did he.
There were never any Stormtroopers at her door anymore. In fact, she only ever saw them as she passed through the ship. Rey was given access codes and an I.D. so that she could use whatever facilities his ship had to offer. The latter made her smirk at the ridiculousness of it, keeping it tucked away in her pocket and only using it when necessary. She shouldn’t have been surprised but she had never expected the First Order to be so reliant on such things as I.D. cards. The ship still felt foreign to her even though she was a familiar face to those around. Her meals were no longer brought to her door, instead she went to the mess hall. She tried to avoid the busier hours, preferring to dine alone where possible not completely at ease seeing the people underneath the masks the troopers wore.
She had been on her way there when a thought occurred to her, a question she no longer felt caution in asking. Something that she hadn’t considered in a while, her mind reminding her as she recapped the events on Drall triggering her thoughts.
Rey stopped walking in the middle of the corridor and spread her mind out. There were thousands of lives on the ship but she was searching for one in particular. His mind still felt like a beacon to her, and she began to walk in the general direction she felt him, using the Force to guide her the closer she got. It was a part of the ship that she had never been to before having never had need to venture here. There were no hangars to investigate or weapon lockers to search through. Security was tighter the closer she became, more troopers, more access codes. Some seemed surprised when hers had clearance but said nothing as she wandered through. And then there was nothing.
Save one other person. The isolation within this section of the ship was unnerving.
Rey stilled before a door. It was no different than any other on the ship save who was behind it. Without doubt she knew this to be his private quarters. She thought about knocking as her eyes flickered between the console by the side of it but decided against it and was instead considering opening it with the Force when it slid open.
There was no one to greet her on the other side as she stepped inside, shiver running through her. It was cold. Colder than any other part of the ship she had visited. The room was larger than she expected; easily three times the size of her own. The main difference was the window that ran half the length of the room. He was sat before it.
The mask was off. As were his gloves, the cape, his shirt. He sat with his upper half bare.
His legs were crossed and he could be considered peaceful if not for that whirlwind of rage and pain just under the surface. She moved closer, was about a foot away from him when he sighed, releasing his shoulders and the tenseness of his back dropped.
“Rey,” he greeted turning and her eyes ran over his bare skin without permission, took in the many crosses of scars that mimicked those she had outlined on his back as she approached him. There were easily tens of them in varying lengths, sizes and severity but the worst of all was on his chest. It glistened pink sitting over his left ribs and seemed to sit oddly on his skin. Her eyes returned to his and she felt herself blush under his raised brow. “What brings you here?”
“I had a question,” she told him, watching as he walked over to a pile of neatly folded clothes. He stilled as he picked up the first piece of black fabric, running his thumb along it as if to remove fluff.
“And it couldn’t wait until our next training session?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder.
“It probably could have,” she admitted feeling a little sheepish as he tugged the undershirt on. It left his arms bare, the fabric making his muscled arms seeming more prominent than less.
“Well then,” he moved to a desk with a bottle and procured two small metal cups, pouring the golden liquid into each of them as she leant against the wall near his clothes. “What is this question?”
“Do you have my lightsabre?”
He passed her the cup and she accepted, bringing it to her nose. The smell was strong and she furrowed her brow as she tasted it, gasping as it burnt her throat like liquid fire.
A chuckle emanated from where he stood opposite her. “An acquired taste perhaps.”
It fascinated her as he swallowed with ease, no visible response as his throat bobbed. She waited for his answer and he took his time giving it, studying her in a way that had stopped being uncomfortable a while ago.
“You were not found with it,” he stated, finishing his beverage and placing it back down on the table she leant against. “I sent a team back to search for it after you had been retrieved alas by then the wreckage had been scavenged.”
“So it’s lost?” she guessed a touch of regret colouring her tone as she took another sip of the drink. It was better this time when she was prepared for the burn.
“Not quite,” he moved over to the desk where the bottle was sitting and pressed a code into the surface, with a hiss a draw appeared in the side, inconspicuous unless you knew it was there. “It took over a week to track down those who had scavenged it and another three to collect it.”
He reached into the draw and removed the sabre. She smiled unbidden as he walked towards her and deposited it in her hand. He didn’t flinch when she lit it, when she swung it in a perfect arc with one hand away from them.
“Your control is much improved,” he commented as she stowed the blade in her belt.
“Thank you for finding it.”
“I thought a time may come when you would need it.”
There was an undercurrent in his words. The tone took her back to when this all started and he told her not to ask why he was training her. His eyes conveyed the same warning then too.
“Is something coming?” she asked and he rolled his shoulders, refusing to answer but his eyes, his eyes were open and her stomach twisted.
A beep began from his comm console by the door and she jumped. “Should I go?” she asked as he walked towards realising how out of place she was there but he waved a hand at her to stay. After a moment she moved to consider the strange bottle, needing a focus.
Corellian brandy. She wrinkled her nose.
Kylo was barking orders behind her and she rolled her eyes as she placed the bottle down. With nothing else to do, she considered his room. It wasn’t a surprise it was bigger than hers. The bed was larger, dressed in dark fabric which glistened under the harsh lighting, the floor space was wide too. She could see the door leading to his cleaning chambers and was curious if they were similarly sized or extravagant. The First Order was hardly praised for luxury but this place, despite the cold, was oddly comforting for her.
There was a stand clearly meant for armour and a shelf above the bed for his sabre. Other than that, it was scarcely personalised. She wondered how long he had been on this ship. Wondered why there was so little decoration to make it homely.
Really, she knew the answer. It wasn’t his way. He was detached. A weapon. It was very dramatic when he began a spiel about power. It also wasn’t for her. Not like it was for him, anyway.
He returned a few moments later, considering her as he leant against the desk. “Have you eaten?”
The thought made her stomach twist as she shook her head. “I was about to before I came here.”
His lip pulled up. “So eager to ask that you stopped what you were doing to come find me?”
“Not entirely but yes.”
“And what if I had been indisposed?”
Rey shrugged. Honestly, she hadn’t thought that far ahead. All she knew is she had an important question and she needed an answer. It was probably a good thing that he was amused by her intrusion rather than annoyed by it.
“Food will arrive shortly. You can join me,” he told her and there was no question in it but it wasn’t a command, simply a statement that she accepted.
They waited in relative silence as he moved to a table, shifting through reports and she returned to her appraisal of his room. There was nothing within the space that could explain how comfortable she felt within. Almost nothing. Wanting her thoughts to focus on anything else, she leapt at the chance to investigate what was sitting on the stand in the far corner. There was something upon it but it wasn’t clear. When she drew close she identified it as a mask however melted and disfigured it was.
The material was not metallic like his own and she wondered who’s it was. Intrinsically, she knew that it wasn’t Kylo’s. Not an older mask that he had replaced. It was someone’s. Someone powerful. Certain objects could be imbedded with the Force and she could sense it radiating. She wanted to touch it but she was also scared to do so.
Footsteps moved towards her and she turned as he stilled behind her, chest close enough to almost touch her back. “Impressive, isn’t it?”
“Who’s was it?” she asked reaching out but not quite touching, unsure if she should or could.
“Darth Vader’s,” he told her and her spine chilled at the mention. The sensation she felt made sense, the heady power and what she recognised now as the pull of darkness. She knew well enough what he had done. How he had risen to power. “My grandfather.”
At that she turned. She had never really correlated it all before, what Luke had told her, what Leia had, what she knew from her childhood and what it all meant but now it stood before her glaringly. Her chest pounded.
“Are you afraid?” he asked at her expression, keeping his own calm as he brushed loose strands of hair from her face. It was always loose now. She hadn’t wanted to fasten it like she used to wear it. The style no longer suited her. Instead she let it flow free; two braids keeping most of it out of her face.
“No,” she exhaled because it was true she couldn’t be afraid around him. She knew who he was, what he had done but at the same time the man before her was not the one she had met in the forest or fought on Starkiller. There was something different. Changed. His hand lingered on her cheek and her eyes flittered closed. Her throat was dry as she spoke, needing to break this feeling inside her that was growing, “Your family really is messed up.”
The moment broke as he chuckled. The warmth within it negated the cold of the room entirely and she smiled back at him as she opened her eyes. She hadn’t expected mentioning his family to go well but he didn’t seem cross at her.
“I suppose it is.”
A beep sounded at the door and he stepped away, Rey focusing on calming her heart as she went to her seat. It pounded still and not because she realised who he was, and who his family were and all the horrible things that were resulting from just three generations. It wasn’t even because of the sensation around Darth Vader’s mask. It was because of his proximity, the look in his eyes as he spoke to her.
She was not oblivious to the difference in tone, mannerisms and demands. To anyone else he barked orders, to her he made requests. They could speak as equals. And she doubted anyone else on the ship could make him smile, let alone laugh. It was a heady feeling growing inside her.
Kylo settled a tray before them and she idly wondered if he always ate alone as he lifted the lid and placed a plate before each of them. When he filled her cup this time it was with water.
The food was good, better than what she had been served in her room and better than what was typically given out in the mess hall. She told him as much.
“You’re welcome to join me for meals, Rey,” he said with a smile.
The smiles were still disconcerting. If the enemy saw one, so open and inviting, she doubted Kylo Ren would be quite so intimidating. “It’s a long walk here,” she teased. “Why do you keep yourself so secluded?”
“I find it helps me relax and focus without so many minds close to me.”
Rey chewed on her cheek. She knew the sensation. It had never bothered her, the thrum of life ebbing and flowing, but it was always a bit of a shock when she returned from Ahch-To to civilisation once again and was hit by so many minds close together. “Did you feel it? When those planets were destroyed?”
Kylo inclined his head. “There are ways to shield yourself and benefits to it. I have taught you some. My seclusion on the ship allows me to release those shields.”
“So, you finally get a break then?”
“Something like that,” his eyes were locked upon her and she smiled into her next mouthful.
They returned to their dinner and she didn’t know what half of it was but she ate it anyway. It wasn’t until she left Jakku that she realised food could taste nice or that it could be enjoyed. It was enough to content her as she tried the different combinations.
Kylo finished first and watched her. He was considering something. He always was.
“What’s the next test going to be?” she asked after swallowing down her water to finish the meal. “My next trial?”
It was only light teasing but he shook his head seriously. “I have no more tests for you, Rey. You’ve passed them all.”
She paused. “You really tested me?”
“A few times,” he waved to dismiss it, standing up and stacking the plates back on the tray, walking it to the door and leaving it outside. It was very domestic but she was more focused on what he was saying.
“What do you mean?”
“Think about it, Rey,” he insisted as he returned to his seat. “Or take the answer from me.”
She glowered, not in the mood for more mental exercises today. So instead, she thought. Thought back to what he might construe as a test. Her heart sunk when she realised. “On Drall.”
“Your final test.”
“So, you lied to me?”
“No. If you’d have chosen to walk away, I would have let you,” he leant his hands out on the table, clasping them together. “I could train you no longer if you resisted me. You needed to make a choice. A proper one not like last time.”
She chewed the inside of her cheek at his words and blushed. “So you knew about that?”
“That you planned to escape?” he raised his brow. “Of course. It would have been interesting to see how you’d have done it.”
“So you’re disappointed then?”
“Rey,” his hands separated and flattened out on the table, fingers stretched towards her. An invitation.
Slowly, she reached and let their palms touch. He let her feel his apprehension in that moment on Drall, his fear that she would leave, and his conviction that he would let her. The biggest emotion was his relief and joy when she had chosen to stay. It calmed her mind, reinforced her decision as the correct one. There was something else as well. An undercurrent and not one of anger or fear or anything negative as she expected of him. It was lighter.
The intensity of it scared her, had her withdraw from his mind as he intertwined their fingers. “One day, I am going to ask for your help with something. Will you say yes?”
“That depends entirely on what it is,” she lifted her brow and he lowered his gaze. Fear spiked between them.
“I can’t explain. Can’t even think about the details but you should know it does affect you. I will fail if I try this on my own. If I fail, I will die.”
The words caught in her chest. For all she had hated him, that had shifted. Now she cared. It was stupid, idiotic and she shouldn’t but she cared. “Alright,” she swallowed hard. “I promise.”
Releasing one of her hands hand, he brought the other to his face, kissed her knuckles. “Thank you.” Her face burned as her heart raced unable to stop staring at their joined hands until he spoke and pulled her back to herself. “Now,” he lowered her hand and she slowly slid it back, feeling the blush deepen. “On a different issue, there’s a resistance minefield that is crippling ships. I intend to enter the facility controlling the mines and destroy them.”
“Is that,” she swallowed when her voice pitched and began again. “Is that an invitation to come along?”
“You could stay aboard if you prefer.”
Her lips pulled up, despite the moment which both of them letting it pass without comment. “When are we leaving?”
Getting into the facility had been easy.
Seeing the signage of the Resistance as she entered standing beside Kylo Ren was harder. It was simpler to handle this when it was nameless individuals, pirates or informants that she was dealing with. The Resistance had been there for her, accepted her first. She had friends there too but she had chosen to come along knowing what it would mean and it had not been enough to sway her decision. Part of her still felt betrayed by them. It had been months and they hadn’t even searched for her.
At least, not very well.
What if she hadn’t been found by the First Order? Would they have even gotten to her quickly enough to save her life? Rey pushed those thoughts aside as Kylo began issuing orders.
He took the lead as they entered the base. That their arrival was a surprise was obvious by the hastily thrown together defence that they broke through in less than five minutes. It was all over before she could even draw her blade and honestly, she was glad about that. Those Resistance members that survived the initial onslaught who surrendered kept their lives, at her insistence. Kylo did not counter her command as she ordered them bound, stored and guarded.
Kylo ordered a small compliment of men stay by the airlock and for a moment when he turned to her, she thought he might tell her to stay with them. Rey would have accepted. She knew her abilities would be better suited elsewhere but the thought of seeing someone she knew tore through her. The idea that it could be Finn –
“Rey,” his voice brought her back to herself. It wasn’t enough to calm her completely, not when it was muffled and twisted through the mask. He gestured and two troopers came to stand at either side of her. “Go with them. They are to set charges in the eastern side of the complex.”
“Alright,” she straightened her shoulders. There were too many people around for any words of comfort but he squeezed her shoulder and that was enough. “Let’s go.”
“Yes ma’am,” the troopers said in unison and began to move through the facility. It was clearly patch-work, nothing like the pristine lines of a First Order vessel. It looked old. Worn but still going, a symbol of the Resistance.
She allowed the Force to flow through her, searching for life and so relieved when she couldn’t. The two troopers entered a room that whirred loudly, worse than an old freighter that’s engine was about to give out. She stood and watched as they worked with precision, handling fine wires with ease even through heavy gloves. It was an impressive feat.
Rey found herself entrenched watching them work, figuring out what they were re-wiring and how the devices that they had bought with them were being intertwined. Some form of disruptor but Rey knew there were bigger pieces of equipment to ensure this facility wouldn’t be fixed with just a quick recalibration. The station would survive but barely.
Kylo would have chastised her distraction that she did not sense the solider moving towards them until he was behind her. She had just enough time to swing her blade and deflect the bullet aimed roughly at the two crouched before her.
She turned and pulled the gun to her, ripping it from the alliance officer’s hand. His eyes widened. “You – you’re her.”
“What?” she asked and she wanted to know. How did he know her? She heard a gun cock behind her and raised her hand before they could fire. “No,” she demanded. He was young, about her age, but his hair was blond, tufts of it sticking out at every angle. He didn’t even wear armour, had probably only been woken when they boarded. “Get back to work. Are we finished yet?”
“Get down on your knees and put your hands over your head,” Rey ordered but the man remained standing stubborn. She didn’t want to do this but he wasn’t leaving her a choice. It was not difficult to enter his mind, focused as it was on fear alone. It would be easier to steal information but she merely sent him to the floor, crumpling into unconsciousness.
“We’re done,” the troopers moved to her side and one pointed their gun at the heap on the floor. “Shall I take that one?”
Rey shook her head, unease settling through her to the core. “Get back to the shuttle. We don’t have time.”
Their steps were fast-paced as they hurried to the airlock. Her eyes were wild as she searched around but there were too many people missing. Something had happened. “Where’s Kylo Ren?” she demanded to the commander in charge of holding the air lock.
“Lord Ren’s group has not reported back, yet.”
Rey calmed herself enough to search out for him and when she did saw the problem immediately. “Ten minutes,” she told the Stormtroopers. “Prepare the shuttle.”
With a salute, they snapped to her instruction. Rey ran through corridors she had never tread with expertise that wasn’t her own. The closer she came, the more bodies she found – both First Order and Resistance – and the sounds of blaster rifles filled the air. There had been nothing on her path. It also seemed that their troopers ‘search’ of the compound had been rather lacking. There’d be time to complain about that later, and she hurried forwards. This had been the true last stand.
She stopped herself from rounding the corner and barrelling into the shoot-out. Both sides were entrenched behind cover, blasters fire alternating between both camps. She was surprised Kylo hadn’t simply cut through the enemies.
Rey took a breath and lit her sabre, turning the corner. She sent the first three into unconsciousness, exploiting their fearful minds. There were too many for her to take out like that, her focus not what it needed to be and when the bodies dropped, it was with a distinctive thud which had forces turn directly at her. A mixture of fear and disbelief held their eyes as they considered her.
“There’s two of them!” one called, and half fighters span; two of them taking hits in their distracted state from Kylo’s men.
“Lay down your weapons and you can get out of this alive!” she yelled over the fire, lightsabre humming ominously in her hand. A few considered her, right until the moment one of them shot at her. It was enough to spur the rest and from one moment to the next, she was deflecting and throwing some of them back into a crate.
“Do you think Kylo Ren will give you the same offer?” she demanded at the ones struggling to their feet, deflecting a bullet into the leg of another. “The damage is done. You have been defeated. Give up,” she hissed and she saw their faces twist but none of them waivered.
Her distraction had worked, however, and they stood no chance. Not with the First Order advancing, given the opportunity by their weakened front line. She was angry that they hadn’t listened to her. Angry that they had turned on her when she hadn’t done anything to them. She bit her tongue as Kylo closed in on them, his red blade carving its way through the soldier’s spine before he crumpled, moving quickly to her side.
“Why didn’t you listen?” she turned from the lifeless eyes and up to Kylo. He was close to her, hand resting on her hip.
“Leave them. They chose their path, as you did.”
Rey turned off her sabre and pressed it to her belt. They walked back to the shuttle side-by-side, their men falling into position behind. He was silent as they navigated the corridors, anger driving his steps. She felt it pulsing through her but she didn’t give into it, focusing on getting away from here and the sensation.
Their shuttle departed as the facility began to shake behind them. She buckled into her seat beside Kylo and tried to meditate and focus her breathing. Kylo said not a word. If it were not entirely like him to do so, she might have questioned. Instead she was left in the dark.
She did not notice what he was hiding from her in the hours it took to return to the Finalizer and when she did, it was only because he faltered. Rey stood and turned to him, watching as his hand clutched to chair, legs shaking.
It was then that she saw the blood, so easily disguised by his clothing. She went to his side immediately. “We need to get you to the medbay.”
“No,” he hissed the metallic noise grating on her now more than usual.
“You’re bleeding! Why didn’t you say?”
With a wave of frustration, she wrapped his arm around her shoulder, and held onto his waist, taking his weight as they descended the ramp together. That he was silent and let her spoke volumes. She could feel his blood seeping into her clothes from where they were pressed together but he never uttered a word or moan of pain. It was all she could do on focus on getting him back to his quarters knowing an argument would get them nowhere. He was stubborn as a Bantha.
Rey took the most direct route she knew but it still felt like they were walking miles when she knew that couldn’t be possible, becoming more concerned with each moment that passed with him bleeding. When they finally reached the isolated corridor a breath escaped her of relief. She threw his door open with the Force before they even reached it, stumbling over the threshold as the weight of him hit her. She leant him against the first solid surface she came to.
“Where are your medical supplies?”
“Refresher. Under the sink,” he gritted, throwing off the mask. She moved quickly yanking the kit free and hurrying back into the main area where he was struggling to remove his cape.
Without hesitating, she dropped the kit beside him and began unfastening every buckle on his upper clothing, sliding away the fabric with precision. When she got under the top layer, she felt the moisture of blood on her hands.
The undershirt had a clear hole the size of a blaster shot. She bit back her comment as she saw it overlapped his previous blaster wound. Instead of trying to take the fabric off, she simply tore it from the weakened part to clear her path to his skin.
His heart was pounding and there was a slow trickle of blood seeping from the wound. Some parts had already begun to scab. It became a bit clearer why he had so many scars as she went back to the kit and spread bacta all over the wound. He hissed out under his breath as she worked but she remained concentrated, pulling out a bacta patch and laying it over the wound. It barely covered the wound.
“Hold this,” she pulled his hand into position as she gathered the bandages, and started to wrap them around the bacta and his chest. Her fingers moved surely as she unravelled it and moved around his body, wrapping her arms around him to feed the bandage around his ribs until there was none left and the patch was secure. He grunted as she pulled it taught and tied the ends together.
“Were you injured anywhere else?” she asked, wiping her hand across her forehead, not caring that it most likely left a smear of blood over her face.
When he didn’t reply, she turned her gaze to his, flawed with the intensity of which he was staring at her. There was something primal inside that cautioned her and twisted her stomach but she ignored her body’s warnings. “Kylo?” she asked as he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him.
Her heart drummed on her ribs and she swallowed when his hand pushed her hair from her face. She tried to remain calm. “I said, do you –“
“I heard what you said,” he spoke with a clarity she hadn’t expected given his injury. The interruption still grated against her.
“Then why don’t you answer? You could be bleeding out you great fool!” she thumped her hand into his chest careful that it wasn’t enough to hurt or anywhere near his injury.
“Rey,” he said the word at the same moment he lifted a mental block she hadn’t realised had been there and he forced her to see it all. He unleashed upon her that undercurrent she had always felt in his thoughts, the lightness that had scared her. Let her feel exactly what it was. The intensity of it ran far deeper than he had ever let her be aware of, all that she had sensed from him had been the faintest of hints but now it threatened to crush her.
She gasped, her head dropping forwards onto his chest as it rushed her, her fingers flexing against his chest. It was desire in its purest form. He wanted her. Needed her. It was all-encompassing.
“That’s not an excuse,” she murmured unable to think straight as she saw his blood coating her fingers. “For not answering my question.”
He chuckled but it was breathy, unsteady, and tilted her chin up. “There are no more wounds.”
“Good,” she spoke before merging their lips. The sensation, the soft press of his lips against hers, the way his hand gripped her hip made her head swim just as much as his admission. Rey knew how kisses worked but not like this. Not when his tongue danced along the seam of her lips and she felt his tongue working against hers. Not when her knees threatened to buckle and her heart to explode. She felt hopelessly out of her element but he was there for her. He tilted her face, guided her and didn’t break away.
It was too much and not enough and she clutched at him and whimpered.
“I’ve got you,” he murmured when the kiss broke and she claimed air again. The second kiss, he initiated and she moved into. Her hands moved up his body and around his neck, as she pressed into the space he made for her between his legs. There was something building within her at the base of her stomach that wanted more, every touch spurring it on, letting it grow.
He wanted her. Her. For everything that she was or wasn’t, he wanted her. It was a heady feeling and overwhelming. Fear spiked within her; the feelings too new and foreign. She broke away from him, wide-eyed but his were open, warm and so inviting.
“You should rest,” she spoke the words quickly and tried to step backwards but his arms were around her waist and he made no move to let her go.
“I happen to find this very relaxing.”
His smirk helped her deflate, helped the anxiousness abate. The realisation of what she was doing was still there and she forced herself to protest. Forced herself to work against this. Parts of her minds were screaming at her to get away, to protect herself from the pain if this was stolen from her.
“I’m covered in blood.”
“Then use my ‘fresher.”
“I need a change of clothes.”
“Take something of mine.”
Her excuses were weak and she knew it. Rey had given into this long before she had kissed him, she just hadn’t realised how fully that submission went. It would have been amusing just how readily and easily he took down every reason she threw down at him until only one remained. “I’m terrified,” she admitted and he squeezed her. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
His fingers guided her into another kiss, a gentle one that rekindled that sensation within her before the fear had taken over. When he pulled back, he stared at her with soft eyes. Not sympathy or pity. If she had seen that she’d have left his room in an instant.
“Go,” he let moved his hands away from her. “Use my refresher if you wish to talk after or you can go back to your room. I leave the decision in your hands.”
He was Kylo Ren and he was dangerous. He was the monster people told their children about to get them to behave. He was the person she had fought against on Starkiller and who Luke had been training her to defeat again. He was probably one of the most dangerous people alive but his eyes were soft and his hands warm against the cold. When they were apart, that coldness took over but together they could fight it. Together they were stronger. Together she felt things she had never felt before. She didn’t want it to stop.
Although his body had released hers, she remained between his legs, arms around his neck. It was comforting and she felt safe there and damn it all she had chosen him already. Slowly, his arms returned to her and completed the sensation.
“I think I’ll stay,” she murmured into his collarbone.
Relief flooded her mind and it wasn’t just hers as he bent forward to kiss her again. She let him lead.
In the end, she did use the refresher. There was a pile of fresh – far too big – clothes for her when she exited the water. They smelt like him as she slipped them on and it was comforting in a way she hadn’t been able to expect. It allowed her to release that it wasn’t the room that she felt relaxed in, the room didn’t matter, it was as long as they were together.
When he had released his feelings onto her, it should have been a surprise but it hadn’t been. Instead, it felt like the final piece slotting into position: the way he looked at her always, how he would touch her, why her opinion mattered to him. She was not immune to her own feelings, and to what his body installed in hers. He was more than her instructor, had always been more than that.
The nerves were still there when she stared at herself in the mirror and ran her towel through her hair, combing out the knots with her fingers, and then just assessing herself in the mirror. She didn’t feel lost anymore or alone. The change she had noted in her face made sense; there was a light in her eyes that made them seem different. Was it just her who could see the change? What did he see when he looked at her now? The thought reminded her that he was waiting on the other side of the door. Waiting for her. The strength she needed to exit the room came to her. There was a little jitter in her chest but her heart was no longer pounding.
Rey’s eyes immediately went to where Kylo had moved. He had changed into fresh clothes but they hung looser from his body, more like nightclothes or those you would work out in than the trousers he wore in the day. He had no top, instead letting her take in the muscles on his chest, and the sight of the bandage around his body. He was sat on the edge of the bed, hands clasped as they hung between his legs and his eyes never deviated from her as she entered the room properly.
She moved towards him, slotted between his legs. He widened them for her, unlocking his hands to slide around her waist. “You know,” he murmured fingers trailing along her back, one dipping beneath the fabric. She tried not to show just how much the action affected her. “I really don’t deserve you.”
Pushing her hands into his hair, lifting his head she cocked an eyebrow. “Is that true? Should I leave then?”
His hands became possessive and tight, his legs tightening around her, “I am not sure I can let you. Not now.”
It should have scared her. Should have made her run but instead it coiled the deeper into her. “I am here. I chose to stay and it wasn’t for your cause. You know that.”
“I do,” he admitted. Lies were rarely voiced between them. Not when either of them could pick apart that untruth so easily. Instead it was words that weren’t said.
She was so much smaller than him. Even though he was seated, he was only a little bit lower than her as she bent herself to brush her lips across the scar that marred his cheek. It felt natural, so right to offer him this easy affection. His hands pushed further beneath her clothing, up her spine, a fingertip brushing against the side of her breast and she gasped.
“I said we could talk. Let us do so now,” he murmured into her ear, fingers not ceasing in their gentle caress. “I want you, Rey. I’ve wanted you as long as I have known you. Perhaps longer.”
“What do you mean?” she exhaled and rested their foreheads together. “How can you have wanted me longer than you’ve known me?”
“I have felt empty for so long. It was like I was waiting for something, someone.”
“I feel it too.” Her heart fluttered and she closed her eyes. His words burned through her, carving out a space inside her precisely for him but still, she had the tiniest bit of doubt. If she was to do this, to open herself to him completely, she needed to be sure. “Is it more than that? Than just a want?”
“Yes,” she shuddered under his touch. “I need you like I need air. Your mind, your body, everything,” his voice was lower and it caressed the desire inside her. “And what of you? Do you want this? I won’t force you even though it might kill me to let you go now. You have a choice. I’ll always let you have a choice.”
Her finger traced his lower lip and his mouth opened, she dipped the digit inside and he caressed it with his tongue. She felt her hairs stand on end. “You know the answer.”
“I need to hear you say it, Rey.”
Kylo’s voice demanded her gaze and when she opened her eyes, his were piercing, impossible to deflect. The last strand of refrain held inside that would only break with her word. “I want it. I am not sure that I should but I do anyway.”
Their lips merged and she clutched at him but offered no resistance as his tongue entered her mouth and coaxed hers. Rey was all too happy to let him take charge here. One of the hands on her back moved in gentle increments, until it was underneath the front of her shirt, resting between her breasts, thumb lightly stroking the soft tissue. She panted for breath and he held her gaze, waiting for her sign, waiting for her to pull back and stop this but she didn’t. She wasn’t sure she ever would or could. Not as his hand captured the mound, as he caressed it, made her gasp when the tips brushed over the tip.
He pulled her back into kisses that were demanding and made her legs want to buckle, moving her arms around his neck for extra support as his other hand dropped down, splaying against her stomach and caressing the skin there before he lifted the band of her trousers. Rey widened her stance and shuddered as long fingers stroked along her where no one else had ever touched.
She swallowed hard and a high groan pulled itself from her throat as he separated her folds. Her eyes shut, squeezed as she clutched his shoulders. Slowly, his other hand moved off her breast and pushed his too-big trousers off her hips and down to the ground. She could have felt self-conscious but not when he gazed at her like something prized and treasured, like she was perfect.
His eyes were darker than she had ever seen them. She felt confident under his gaze, brazen enough to push him backwards to straddle his hips. His hands were warm and possessive as they grasped her thighs. Rey wanted as she pushed their lips back together and he moved his fingers back to the warmth between her legs, stroking and building the sensation within her.
She started to rock against him as her hands clutched into his hair. His movements pulled noises from her, low and needy and when he entered her, she squeezed his hair and groaned, “Kylo.”
“Rey,” he returned, withdrawing his hand and she would have protested but he moved them, guided her back onto the bed as he lay between her spread thighs. She wrapped her legs around him, lifting her arms as he removed the shirt, unveiling her to him completely. She bit her lips as his eyes devoured her, as he leant against her core and she felt him, hard and unyielding. Her hand travelled to his trousers, struggling with the fastenings before reaching inside.
It was soft, so soft with her hand as she experimentally wrapped around him, pulling gently. His hand wrapped around hers, guided her into a pattern that had his hand drop back, guttural gasps pulling from his throat. His hands came back to her, finger entering her again but with purposes, sliding in and crooking, searching for a spot that had her hands fist in the bedding, eyes shuttering as she gasped. His thumb moved to the spot higher up and began to rub. The combination was an assault against her and when he bent forwards and merged their lips, let her dip into the heady sensation building within him as well, it was too much.
She exploded, legs clenching shut as she moaned, the sound foreign to her. Her entire body shook, Goosebumps lighting along her skin. Slowly, his hand stilled and removed and he took her hand away, standing, quickly divesting everything else that stood between them.
Her eyes, half-lidded, took in the sight of him. He was lean muscles and she was unsure if it was her desire or his she felt as he climbed back onto the bed and slowly pushed her legs apart. They went easily, accepting him as he lay down over her, one hand at the base of him. Slowly he brushed against her and she exhaled, nerves raising as her own completion began to recede.
“Do you trust me?” he asked as he stilled at her entrance, waiting there for her decision.
“Yes,” she exhaled breath quickly hitching as he breached her, his hips making small notions which buried him deeper and deeper. He felt solid and so hot as she was stretched unsure how she could possibly take him all but she trusted in him.
He groaned as he hilted inside her, hands like vices against her hips and she pulled him down, needing to feel his lips on hers, needing a distraction because it hurt and her legs were quivering. He kissed her easily and knew it all, waited for the pain to lessen before drawing out.
Her body arched as he did, receiving him eagerly as he came back to her. She clutched tightly to him and clung to the pleasure in his mind as he started to set a pace. The pain slowly passed and as it did she felt the shift. His body brushed her perfectly and the tone of her noises changed. Kylo sensed it, changed his angle again so she felt it over and over. Until every thrust left her gasping and her fingers clawed at him in need to ground herself.
It was different with him inside her, more powerful than just his fingers and she moaned his name, a litany of just his name, as it grew until the crescendo crashed through her with a cry. He swallowed it with his lips, his hips moving, his thrusts losing order as he followed after her, pumping hard into her.
Their combined releases wormed through both of them and it was only when the haze from that faded that she felt the pain. This time, not her own. Her moved off of her and collapsed on his side and she moved to cover him, checking his bandages.
“You’re an idiot,” she chastised glad the wound hadn’t reopened, fingers not steady, heart beating wildly and mind protesting at being made to think. “It could have waited.”
He chuckled and pulled her down for another kiss she was helpless but to give. “We have waited long enough. Sometimes a little pain is worth it for the pleasure.”
She pinched his arm and he simply held her tighter. The last piece had shifted and she was completely his. It didn’t matter who he was or what he did because when they were together, they weren’t alone. They could be something else, something better. In the end, it turned out it was easy not to give a damn about where she should be when where she was felt so right.
When Rey’s consciousness fluttered back with a jolt at the unexpected pressure against her back, shaking it off as she scrambled away, heart pounding. Rey was upright, ready to run or fight when a tired voice called, “Lights.”
Then it came back to her. Where she was, who she was with. She wasn’t on Jakku. That part of her life was over. Her cheeks were very red when he met her gaze. “Good morning to you too,” he grouched but there was no real venom in the words. She wasn’t sure there could be when his hair was sticking out angles like that.
“Your hair isn’t perfect either,” he told her rolling on his back and throwing his arm over his face.
“Did you just read my thoughts?” she accused heart still uneven but his chuckle stopped any real anger.
“No. You’re all but screaming thoughts and feelings at me. Apparently your mental shields are all but non-existent first thing when you wake. You should probably work on that.”
Scraping her hands down her face she wasn’t sure she was ready for this. The thought was countered by a strong hand pulling her back down into the bed and against him. She yelped in shock, her heart hammering, even more so when he shifted so his entire body was encasing hers.
“I’m just not used to waking up with someone else,” she told him shutting her eyes against his gaze. It was entirely too penetrating for this time of the morning.
A hand trailed down her side. “Is it a problem?”
“No,” she exhaled not entirely sure it was the truth. “I just – I didn’t expect it and I reacted. Sorry for shoving you away.”
“Rey, open your eyes,” he murmured and his voice was too damn imploring and she hated that she wanted to do it, for him. So she did. And was hit full-force with his admiration for her, how much he cared and it floored her.
Slowly, she slid her hands up his chest and around his neck. He responded by merging their lips, slowly and first but it gained momentum and when he slipped his legs between hers she found out that there were very good things about waking up beside someone else.
His every touch was possessive and he drew noises from her, foreign to her own ears. What they had started had curled through them both. The want and need she felt for him was just as strong inside him. The intensity of it threatened to destroy them both.
Kylo stood first from the bed and moved to fetch a drink. She followed a bead of sweat travel from the base of his neck down his spine and Rey felt whole. She pulled her legs to her chest and placed her head on her knees as she silently watched him.
“Are you going to sit there and watch me all day?” he asked but it wasn’t unkind. In fact, it was amused, lips picking up at the edges as he glanced back to her.
“I want to check your wound,” she ignored his question completely.
“It’s fine,” he waved settling the glass down. Rey frowned.
“Why didn’t you heal it?”
Kylo looked away from her and out of the window before him. “It is not as easy. Using the Force to heal draws from a side I am not inclined towards.”
“But you healed me.”
He gave her a beseeching look and she didn’t push further. It hurt but they all had lines. “Maybe when we train next, you should practice deflecting shots then.”
“Rey,” he murmured and came back to the bed, pulled her onto his lap as he kissed her hair. “Check if you must.”
Not moving out of his embrace, she did just that. It had stopped bleeding and the bacta had soothed the wound, encouraged the skin to knit back together. It would be sore for a few days most likely but it was fine. She still felt better for having looked.
“I am unused to having someone who cares,” he mumbled and it was as close to an apology as she was going to receive for his gruffness and accepted it with a kiss. His arms wrapped tightly around her but his words opposed the action. “Unless you do wish to spend the day in bed,” her nose twitched and she felt the rumble in his chest. “We should probably use the ‘fresher.”
Rey hummed her agreement and was more than willing to follow him under the flow of water.
A little while later, when they were dressing she was unsure what to do with herself. Should she return to her room? Should she train? Kylo no doubt had things to attend and she did not wish to keep him and yet she found herself without a real purpose and it bothered her. She felt adrift.
When Kylo moved to the shelf above the bed and collected not one, but two lightsabres, she calmed again. She hadn’t even realised he had stored them last night. He passed hers across and she clipped it onto the belt she had borrowed. That helped her sort her priorities. She needed to change. Get back into her own clothes. As much as she enjoyed feeling wrapped inside his clothing, she also felt like she was about to trip over.
“You have that look again,” he told her as he came to stand behind her, taking her hips in his hands. The casual nature of the touch still made her heart flicker as she sank back into his chest.
“Like you’re preparing yourself for something unpleasant but determined to do it anyway.”
She turned around and wrapped her hands around him, pressing her head into his chest. “I need something to do. More than just training and meditating.”
He stroked hair out of her face. “What would you like to do?”
“I don’t know. Something.”
He kissed her forehead. “Come with me to the bridge. I would value your input.”
“I need to change.”
“After then,” he released her. “But do not put so little value in training and the toll it takes. Most trained for years before they were considered proficient enough to leave their master’s side.”
“And is that who you are?” her eyes glinted as she looked at him. “My master?”
His eyes darkened and he pulled her back against his body and merged their lips, waiting until she was panting to whisper in her ear, “It would have been forbidden for a master to do to their apprentice what I do to you.”
She shivered and forced herself to step away. “I should go before we end up here for another hour.”
“Yes,” he swallowed and she enjoyed that she did this to him; a few words to derail plans. “And you are my equal, you know that.”
Rey smiled and stepped towards the door. “I’ll find you when I’m ready.”
It would be easy to feel subconscious as she walked back to her room but she didn’t. With her head held high, she noted that some of those she passed would even avert their gaze. It unsettled her but no more than anything about the First Order.
There was a voice in the back of her mind that spoke to her when she rounded the corridor to her bedroom. It wasn’t hers. It sounded like Luke but it wasn’t at him, just a projection or a memory from their time together and the lessons he had taught her. It questioned her decision, spoke of a future that she was all but throwing away. It was ironically late.
She had never asked to be a Jedi. Never wanted to be a hero. All she had wanted was her family to come back but they didn’t. Instead she had started to forge her own family in the Resistance but she was kept away from Finn as she trained, and Luke was distant and cautious with her.
Kylo had not held anything back from her training and she needed that. Needed the trust and the companionship. She didn’t want to join the First Order, they weren’t the right group and she knew it but she wanted to leave even less. She wanted to be with Kylo and if that meant staying on the ship, so be it.
The bridge was larger than anything she had ever seen. There must have been well over a hundred people, busily working on the console before them as others ran from place to place, passing messages. She knew it would take a lot of working to keep a ship of this size functional but she felt a little out of her element as she walked towards Kylo.
Rey had never been to the bridge before. In fact, she’d snooped around many parts of the ship but had actively avoided the bridge. To head up into it now felt intimidating. It also made her aware that this was more than a ship. It was more like a colony for all the people aboard and what it was capable of. She doubted that if she needed to get out of there that she could do it. A pilot she may be but she doubted it would be as easy to settle in here as it had been on the Falcon, hoping into the ship and going. Here she wouldn’t even know which seat to hop into.
Kylo was talking to a woman, an officer clearly by her outfit, and if number of badges was an indication of rank, she seemed to be quite high. The woman had blonde hair, tied neatly into a small bun that rested at the base of her cap and was quite striking. Her lips were even pulled slightly at the edges – not enough to be considered a smile – as she spoke to Kylo but her eyes remained cold and hard. Whilst she knew that Kylo had probably been tracking her progress since before she entered the ship, it was the woman who turned to her approach first.
“Lady Rey,” she inclined her head in greeting when they were close enough to speak, Rey stilling at Kylo’s side. “A pleasure to meet you at last. I am General Ancora.”
Rey turned to Kylo but his mask hardly offered any real assistance in determining how she should react. “I presume you have replaced General Hux?”
“Only on the Finalizer, my lady,” she turned as another officer approached and handed her a datapad, considering it briefly before looking at Rey once again. “Excuse me.”
When the woman was gone, she lifted her brows. “She seems different than Hux.”
“Hux is blinded by his need for power,” Kylo turned and walked her towards the window. It was as secluded a spot as allowed on the densely occupied bridge. “Ancora is better able to see the whole picture. It was why I chose her.”
“You said Hux was with the rest of the fleet.”
“Our missions are separate,” Kylo’s tone was dismissive but Rey simply crossed her arms and waited. “Those on this vessel report to me.”
“You really don’t like him.”
“Neither would you, had you ever met him.”
“I heard enough to know that I despise him already.” There was amusement radiating from Kylo even though his back remained straight and his entire persona dominating. “I do need to question, ‘Lady Rey’ though?”
“A tradition of sorts,” he explained crossing his arms behind his backs. “We do not hold ranks within the Order such as ‘general’ or ‘lieutenant’. Our position as Force users grants us the title of Lord, or,” he turned to her. “Lady.”
“Isn’t your title officially Master of the Knights of Ren?”
She conceded that point and slowly turned around to consider the room fully. “It’s hectic.”
“And yet this one room is more organised than the entirety of the Resistance,” he began to walk and she fell into step at his side. “I am searching for information. Information I believe the Resistance to have acquired.”
“It is proving more difficult to track than I had initially expected.”
“This sounds familiar,” she commented, letting her lip tilt upwards.
“Yes,” he drawled. “I hope it more easy to locate than last time.”
“This isn’t about him is it?”
“No,” he dismissed. “I care little for where Skywalker has gone. This is more important. Vital to our mission.”
Rey felt the chill work through her. She knew that she couldn’t ask but she was more invested now. “What would you have me do?”
“I cannot trust my men with this,” he admitted. “I plan to search for the information myself. Come with me.”
They stilled before a control panel where General Ancora was giving commands through a comm piece attached to the side of her face. “This won’t be like Drall or the space station, will it?”
“No,” he admitted and she wished that his mask was gone so she could see his face. He stepped closer to her, placing a hand upon her hip. “This will be more than one mission. I suspect it will be a while before we even get close to the information,” he told her and she let his touch calm her. “There will be deaths, though you can limit those as you did last time, if you wish.”
“They won’t listen.”
“Not all,” he admitted and his thumb stroked her, raising the fabric of her shirt to reach her skin. The leather dragged more but wasn’t exactly unpleasant. “But you can try.”
Rey felt her heart pounding. This was her choice. It was always her choice. But she didn’t want him to go alone. Couldn’t stand the thought of him being injured or captured or killed without her and she wanted to help. The station would most likely have been completely obliterated if not for her. At least twenty lives had been spared just because she wanted them to be.
“Good. We will resume training between missions. Ancora?”
“Our informants tell us a resistance officer passed through the Serenno System. What they were doing out there is questionable. They left over two weeks ago but locals may have seen or spoken to the officer.”
“We will depart tomorrow. Have my shuttle prepared and restocked.”
“Of course, my lord. Do you require a platoon?”
“No,” Rey answered. “Such a force would likely send any with information into hiding. We’ll go alone.”
“As you wish, my lady.”
Kylo lowered his hand from her hip and offered his arm as they departed the bridge. They made it half way down the corridor before Kylo turned them, bringing her into an empty room. She considered it with confusion until he turned her, mask gone and brought their lips together.
She groaned as he pulled her body tightly against his, threading her fingers through his hair. “I prefer you in my clothes,” he murmured, letting a finger trail from her chin, down her neck and lower, resting it between her breasts.
“I would gladly wear them,” her heart pounded as he walked her back to a table and perched her on the edge of it. “If they weren’t so big.”
“Perhaps it is time we fashioned you a new outfit then,” he let his lips trail down to her neck and bit.
“Kylo,” she gasped as the pain twisted deeper within her. “So this is why you didn’t want to go to Serenno today.”
He smirked as he came back to her lips. “Not entirely,” he murmured between kisses. She was very aware of where his hands rest against her but they didn’t move lower, even when she felt his hardness pressing against her.
Eventually, he broke their kiss and she released her fingers from his hair, let him straighten over her. “I thought you might want to rest before being forced on a long journey.”
“You’re the one who had a hole in his chest not a day ago.”
He brushed a hand through her hair, voice low, “It has been an intense few days, Rey,” he kissed her cheek. “I would not want you to come with me and regret it.”
She pulled back. “So you want me to sleep on it?”
“Yes.” She exhaled softly and didn’t know what to say. Kylo’s hands wrapped onto her hips and pulled her closer to him. “I might have other reasons, too.”
A breathy laugh escaped her as she tapped his chest, pushing him back but with no real force. “And here I was thinking you cared.”
“Don’t ever doubt that I do,” his words burned through her as he stepped backwards and slid her off of the table. “I need to go and prepare. I know little of this world and I would change that.”
“It would be nice to know how to dress,” she admitted, straightened her clothes and her hair.
“My offer stands about that,” he glanced over his shoulder. “You can choose your own outfits. It was merely convenient before to give you what recruits wore.”
“Is that what this is?” she asked glancing down at the plain grey shirt, trousers, and heavy boots she’d been wearing for months. “I’ll think about it. I think I’m going to meditate.”
He collected his mask but didn’t put it on as he turned to consider her. “Join me for dinner?”
Her lips pulled up. As if there was any doubt. “Should I bring a change of clothing this time?”
It was his time to smile as he slid the mask back on.
It was never officially stated and her room was always there for her but Rey hadn’t slept there in two months. Any belongings she had gathered resided in his chambers where he had carved out space for her. She slowly got used to easy affections, to waking up in another’s embrace. She stopped thinking of it as being trapped. Rey felt protected in his arms and she didn’t need it but that didn’t mean she didn’t want the comfort that came from sleeping beside another.
Rey was not the only one who had nightmares and fears, however.
The sudden movement of the bed jolted her awake. Rey didn’t need the lights to make out his figure in the darkness, sat up with his arms supporting him. His eyes were wide, mouth open as he sucked in breath.
“Kylo?” she mumbled, her mouth not as responsive when her tongue was still thick with sleep. She shifted upright when no response came, letting the covers pool around her waist. “Kylo? What’s wrong?” she asked touching his arm.
His response was immediate as he pulled her into his chest, arms like a vice around her. She felt the beat of his heart pounding in his chest, swallowed as she tasted his fear, it becoming hers. An image came to her. A twisted, dark thing.
It was her but not as she was now but dressed as she used to in whites and creams, hair in three tight knots. Bloodied and broken, eyes wide and unseeing. There was a hole in her chest and the tool that had put it there humming and glowing, casting a red light on the scene, in a leather gloved hand.
She gasped and had to struggle not to pull away from him, had to force herself to calm. This was his nightmare. His fear. The room was silent save for their heaving breaths as she fed her arms up his chest and around his neck.
“Look at me,” she insisted waiting for his eyes to unclench. They were pained when they did. “It’s just a nightmare,” she told him, letting her fingers thread into the hair at the nape of his neck. “Not real.”
“It could have been,” he shuddered and squeezed her again.
“But it’s not,” she insisted. He kept one hand around her as he brought the other to her face. She nuzzled into it, kissed the palm. “I’m here.”
She leant forwards and kissed his forehead, his nose and then finally his lips. He pulled her onto him, settling her in his lap, as he kissed back. The movements were hard and driven by an intense need to feel her. Rey was starting to think there was more to the image than he was letting on. She clutched her fingers into his hair and pulled, a growl escaping his throat. He shuffled backwards so his back was resting against the frame of the bed as his lips went to her neck, hand to her breast, shoving up the fabric of his shirt she wore.
She keened as he caressed them, groaning as he pinched her skin between his teeth. “Kylo,” she moaned and his lips returned to hers.
“I need you,” she shivered at his tone, the rough edge, her body responding.
She sat forwards as he pushed his trousers down and rocked against his hard line when she lowered herself. He groaned as she slid over him, brushing past her core and then back up. “Don’t tease me,” he complained when she made another sweep over him, hovering with him at her entrance before sliding back up.
“I’ll tease you all I want,” she told him but did as he requested, sitting up on her knees and snaking her hand around her. His hands came to her hips and encouraged her down, both of them moaning at the sensation. He buried his head between her head and shoulder as she took him all, panting. “Look at me,” she encouraged as she lifted herself up, waiting for their gaze to lock before moving down again. “This is real.”
She placed her hands on his shoulders to get better traction, keeping their eyes locked no matter how much she wanted to just throw her head back or kiss him.
His eyes were dark but the pain was passing. The hand on her hip squeezed and he started to thrust into her and she moaned. “You’re beautiful,” he told her moving his other hand to her core, rubbing her. It was harder to focus as her stomach coiled, as she felt her release building.
“I’m yours, Kylo,” she gasped and gave in, breaking her gaze away as his thrusts met hers, as her pleasure came to the front of her mind.
“I’ll never let you go,” he warned as his breathing becoming erratic.
“Ah – Kylo!” she screwed her eyes shut and he pulled her to him, merging their lips for frantic kisses, taking over thrusting as her pace faltered, pounding into her as she gasped.
“Rey,” he hissed and buried into her as deeply as he could as his own release crashed through him.
He held her tightly to him and she clung back. “Thank you,” he murmured into her ear.
She waited for her heart to calm before moving off of him, legs shaking and happy to collapse at his side. He pulled her back to his chest, kissing her shoulder. “I won’t ever hurt you,” he promised and she smiled, closing her eyes.
The morning came too soon, a beep from the comm pulling Kylo from their bed and taking him away to the bridge. Rey waited for him to return but when after an hour, she was still alone, she got up and started to ready herself for the day.
His fresher was better than hers and she spent a long time under it, scrubbing the remnants of their night off of her skin and letting the warm water sooth any aching muscles. Rey dried off in silence, still feeling exhausted as she went to the locker in his room and pulled out fresh clothes and laid them out of the bed.
They suited her better than the training gear she had first worn; trousers tighter against her skin like her old clothes and a tunic that fell to her thighs, pinched at her waist by a belt, the sleeves fell three quarters of the way down her forearms but were cut out at the shoulder. It reminded her of her old clothing a little but the fabric was black. She had a long cape too for when their travels took them to a colder climate but she left that off as she headed out.
There were few people who looked at her curiously any more, most inclining their heads towards her as she past, few mumbling, “My lady.”
Rey wasn’t used to the title but did not complain about it as she entered the bridge and found Kylo speaking with Ancora. They were in deep conversation and she felt his tension on her approach.
“ – could be a trap,” Ancora stated, crossing her arms over her chest with a frown. “It just seems too easy.”
“None of this has been easy.”
Rey felt his frustrations. They had gone to what felt like countless worlds looking for this information and they always reached a dead end whenever they thought they were close. It was aggravating. More so for how she tried to minimalize causalities every time and so often they made it impossible for her. Sometimes there was nowhere to reflect the blaster shot except back into its owner. It was hard to lose sleep over it when they would take her down without hesitation if they could. Kylo never let them get close enough.
“No and that is what makes this tip feel twisted. Too easily obtained. It’s possible that they know what information you seek and are trying to capture you.”
“And yet, we cannot let this opportunity pass by.”
“It is your choice, my lord,” Ancora inclined her head when Rey approached. “My lady.”
Rey turned to Kylo. She knew what this meant to him but if she chose, he would stay his hand. Send troopers instead.
“Where would we be going?”
“A facility on Nishr.”
“How reliable is the tip?”
“Very,” Ancora answered. “I have little doubt that the information you are searching for is there.”
“They’re dangling bait then,” Rey shook her head. “We should go. If it is a trap, we stand a better chance of avoiding it or getting out of it.”
“I’ll have your shuttle prepared.”
Ancora turned back to her duties but Kylo’s gaze was burning into her and she waited. Waited until they had left the bridge and made it back to their room before she finally fell into it, asking, “What?”
Kylo removed his mask and settled it on the desk, crossing his arms. “I don’t think it’s me they want to capture.”
“We’ve been over this,” she lamented going to a draw to collect her gloves. She didn’t like the feel of leather but there were advantages to an extra layer of protection.
“Our last reports indicated that you had been identified by the Resistance. You were referred to by name and not just a knight of Ren or a potential apprentice.”
“If you are trying to tell me to stay here whilst you go and do this dangerous mission –“
“I’m not,” he raised his hands to placate her anger. “Merely that you should be prepared.”
“For such an attempt. The General will use everything at her disposal if she thinks she stands a chance of taking you back.”
“It would be the first time they’d shown interest,” Rey bit rather than let the conflicting feelings be released inside of her.
“Rey,” he held his hand out to her and she went to him, let him wrap his arms around her. “I won’t let them take you.”
“I know.” She leant up to kiss him before he let her go and she went back to her preparations. “What’s Nishr like?”
“Where we’re going, wet.”
Rey went to the locker and pulled on her cape. “Let’s go.”
The facility was large but Kylo refused to let them separate and she did not force the issue. Instead, the troopers that they brought with them split into three groups and headed in different directions, a few staying with them. Their information told them the main computer housed the information and the route they were taking meant they were close.
Rey didn’t feel easy as they entered a large open room, staked with containers and machinery. There had been too little resistance.
“I don’t like it,” she murmured.
“It’s the only way through.”
Rey nodded and carried on moving. She was throwing her mind out, searching for any life-forms or traps. They made it past a set of crates and the door was in sight. She felt like she should run to it but kept her head as they finished the room.
She was relieved as they entered a narrower room, about to make a comment when the ground beneath her shook and she was thrown to the wall.
The world was black and her ears were ringing as she tried to move. “Rey!” she heard his voice in the air and through her mind, forcing her to struggle up. “Get up. Quickly,” Kylo insisted and she opened her eyes. There was something pink between them. It took a moment to realise that it was trapping him and not her.
His sabre crackled against it, unable to penetrate the field. Rey glanced around and saw bodies, felt something trickling down her face and brought her hand to it. Wincing at the blood.
“Ancora wins,” she mumbled, her mind foggy.
“You need to get to that control panel. It’s to your right.”
Rey nodded and regretted the decision, legs stumbling, not completely following her instructions as she made it to the panel. When she reached it, the flashing lights made her head spin and she had to clutch at it to stay upright.
“Let me in,” he asked and she dropped her shields haphazardly, feeling the Force rush through her, tinged slightly with a sensation that was akin to him alone. She felt him look through her eyes. He showed her the sequence of buttons to press and when she began, he receded to the back of her mind but stayed there, helping push back the confusion, helping her focus. His gaze was solely on her.
The door opened at the other end of the room as she pressed the penultimate button, hand resting on the sliding switch which would release Kylo when she heard the gun’s cock. It was the call of the achingly familiar voice that stilled her hand.
“Rey!” She turned to him and wished that she hadn’t. Finn stood surrounded by resistance soldiers and there were easily twenty guns directed at her. His remained by his side. “Stop. Don’t do it, Rey. Move away from the console with your hands in the air.”
Rey had thought about what she would do if she saw him again a hundred times but nothing could prepare her for it to be like this. “And why would I do that?” she held his gaze and had to fight to not let his pain stop her. “Stay back or this won’t end well for you.”
“Rey,” Finn moved until there was only a few feet between them. “What are you doing?” the words were whispered and demanded. Confusion tore through him. Kylo was there in the back of her mind, helping her keep a clear head but he was silent for any comment. “Why are you working with him? He killed his own father, Rey!”
“Finn, walk away,” she begged.
“No. No I won’t,” he took another step. “I know you. The real you not whatever he’s twisted you into. You’ve been a prisoner a long time. Things happen. People break. I know. You don’t have to stay with him. You don’t need to be a prisoner anymore. You can come home!”
“What makes you think this isn’t the real me?” she demanded. “Why must he have broken me?”
“Rey, it hurts. I know. I remember. You’re confused. Fight it. Fight him. Step away from the console. We’ll take care of the rest.”
“You’ll take care of it?” she asked with disbelief.
“Yes. Luke’s waiting for you. He’ll know what to do. How to get him out of your head.”
Rey shook her head. The mention of Luke brought it all back. What it was like to be alone and isolated. “I won’t leave him.”
“People will die. Good people,” Finn pleaded and he was close enough to touch now. Her heart was racing.
“What about the people you just killed! You could have killed me!”
Her voice hitched and he stepped closer, holding his hand out to her. “Come back. We can sort this out. It’s not too late.”
Rey looked out across the room to where Kylo was standing. He hadn’t moved an inch, hadn’t said a word to her. It was her choice. It was always her choice. “I’m sorry, Finn.”
He tried to grab her but she was faster, sending him flying into a wall with one hand as she yanked the switch down with another. The pink hue of the shield disappeared in an instant but Rey was staring at the hundred bullets, frozen in the air. With a mental direction, she ducked and they were released into the wall where she had once stood.
The Resistance were a second too late in realising what had just happened, half of them brushed aside under the unrelenting Force of Kylo’s raged push, bodies cracking against the walls. Rey worked her way into any weak mind and sent them unconsciously to the ground and ignored the cries of those cut down in Kylo’s path as he moved to her side. There was only a handful left when he reached her. She moved and he caught her weight, gave her physical support as they both deflected bolts, pushed and pulled free until there was a path before them.
“The computer’s through there,” Rey protested when Kylo began taking her the other way.
“We’re leaving,” he stated with a tone that left little room for argument. Stumbling as she was, leaning her weight on Kylo just to keep moving, she couldn’t protest. Silence settled over them as they moved once more across the large room that would lead them on the path back to their shuttle. They were about to disappear out the other end when she heard her name, pleading, but she didn’t look back at Finn.
There was no more opposition as they headed back to the shuttle, the other groups having already returned empty-handed from their destinations and she realised that they had placed everything on that one ambush. Kylo had been right.
He was gentle as he lowered her into the co-pilot’s seat and took the controls, his men closing the hatch behind them. There were questions in her mind, feelings too but Kylo slowly slipped away from her to focus on their retreat. The dizziness came back at once and she crawled in on herself.
Kylo turned and caught her before she fell, shouting an order to someone but everything twisted into darkness.
Rey woke to bright lights and winced, trying to block it. Before she could fully lift her arm, it was encapsulated by a warm, gentle hand and lowered. Feeling his touch calmed her, allowed her to think back to what had happened. Kylo’s concern beat through her and she squeezed his hand, although the action was floppy. Her head was pounding and when she raised her free hand, he didn’t stop it, she felt along the soft bandages wrapped around her forehead.
Kylo kissed her knuckles as she lowered her hand. “How long was I out?”
“Just a few hours.”
“I feel awful.”
The sterile smell of the med bay wafted up her nose and she wrinkled her face. Memories of these places were rarely pleasant. Memories of this particular room, even less so. Her eyes flicked to the droid in the corner, the one who had administered her sedative when she had first woken here those months ago. “We can go back to our room soon,” he soothed and she clung to that.
“Thank you,” she breathed waiting until their eyes met to continue. “For stopping the blasters.”
He let out a shaking breath. “If I hadn’t sensed your thoughts – hadn’t know what you were about to do - it would have ended very differently.”
She squeezed his hand. “They would have killed me.”
“Yes,” the word was angry, bitter. “And the galaxy would have burned for it.”
It should have made her afraid. Like always, it didn’t. “Help me up?”
Slowly, she sat up with Kylo’s help, waiting a minute before she moved to stand. He offered her support as they left the medical bay and headed back, arm around her waist.
It took its toll, standing for so long, trying to keep her mind focused. Multiple times she had to stop as nausea rolled through her. There was a silent offer to carry her back but she resisted. She could do this. When they finally made it back to the room, he guided her to the bed and she was glad for the soft embrace of the fabric.
“Do you need anything?” he asked and she shook her head, regretted it, and spoke.
“No. Just rest.”
“Take your time. I’ll be here.”
With that promise, and with the comfort wrapping around her as she curled up in the sheets, she drifted.
Rey’s head was pounding as he helped her stand and shower. The last time she’d woken he’d told her it was a concussion and it would pass in a few days. She hated the feel of grogginess that descended over her. How she could barely stay awake more than a few hours at a time. How she felt nauseous endlessly when she was awake. Twice, she was checked up on by a doctor and a medical droid and both times they told her to just relax until it passed. She didn’t want to just sit there anymore but she couldn’t manage much else.
Kylo remained by her side through most of it. Only disappearing to take care of business and usually it was when she was asleep. Rey couldn’t begrudge him that time, understanding he had work to do and chest thrumming with warmth that he was giving up so much just to watch her and help her in the few hours she managed to stay awake. If anything, she was jealous. The room was starting to seem a little too small.
If it wasn’t for the window that she could stare out of for hours, or the knowledge that there was nothing keeping her in the room save her own bodies ailment, she would have snapped. Instead, she listened to what Kylo told her about what was happening around them, tried to meditate, and let herself heal.
A week of this passed before she began to feel herself again. It had been about an hour since she woken when Kylo returned, removing his mask before noticing she was sat up in the bed.
“How do you feel?” he asked and she shrugged.
“Like bantha fodder but the room isn’t spinning anymore when I stand up.”
Kylo came to sit beside her, letting his finger trail along the faint scar just below her hairline where the skin had broken. She dropped her head on his shoulder when he was finished and his arms wrapped around her. “About now, I’d rather take the shot to the chest.”
He exhaled but his eyes were sharp, slightly disapproving. “Head injuries always feel worse.”
“Thank you,” she pulled back so she could stare into his eyes. “For holding back the pain before.”
He brushed her hair. “Thank you for letting the shield down.”
She bit her lip. “Do we need to talk about that?”
“No,” he insisted and she felt relief sweep through her. “I told you the General would do everything she could to sway you.”
“Finn,” she swallowed hard at the memory of the hurt in his eyes and the pain in his voice when they were leaving together. “He was my first friend.”
“And she knew that and tried to use it against you. You did not want to hurt him and it would have been easier to let him take you away than it was to do what you did.”
“I couldn’t leave you.”
“I know,” he kissed her forehead. “I was not worried.”
It made her scrunch up her nose but she was smiling. “Not even a little bit?”
“I – was only concerned that I did not know how deeply you cared for the traitor.”
“There’s only ever been you,” she promised. He kissed her softly and there was no intention of taking it further than that but still she sank into it. When they broke away, she frowned remembering that their mission was ultimately a failure. “We still need that information.”
“I was speaking to Ancora. We have some ideas but they will take a while to come to fruition. Time you can use to rest.”
“I’m not tired yet,” she insisted.
Kylo stroked her hair and kissed her again. Rey realised that even though she was injured and hadn’t left the room in over a week, that she was happy. It didn’t matter where she was as long as she was with Kylo and that coiled through her. Kylo was right, there was never any doubt over what path she would take.
It took another three days before Rey felt close to normal. She started testing herself with small walks around the deck and lengthened them, pushed herself until she was confident she wasn’t going to pass out. Rey really, really didn’t like head-injuries. They had even managed a training session in their old room that day – nothing too physical, just running through forms, and it had felt good to get back to it.
She still tired quicker than Kylo and felt ridiculous when he all but tucked her into bed before returning to his desk to do work but he wasn’t judging her. Rey was still hung up on the fact that a broken bone could be fixed with a few hours in a bacta tank but a head injury took her out of it for nearly two weeks. She supposed it was to do with the fact there wasn’t any injury left per se, but her brain had been rattled. Kylo told her he could teach her techniques to stave off the worst of it but she hadn’t been able to focus enough to learn until after she was starting to feel well again.
The room was silent and Rey was supposed to be asleep but she was having trouble finding it. For all they had spoken about what had happened and she was sure her decision was the right one; her dreams were always troubled. Filled with faces from the Resistance, people calling out to her. She pushed them away. She didn’t want to leave him and she couldn’t be part of the Resistance if she didn’t. It made the decision easy.
Do not give into it, the voice was so clear that it could have been whispered into her ear. The Dark Side does not have what you seek. It won’t keep her safe. You can’t do this alone. I have seen -
Her eyes flew open and she sat up, scanning around. What she found stilled her.
Kylo was gripping tight enough to the datapad in his hand to break it and his eyes were hollow.
“Kylo?” she asked, voice hoarse as she hurried out of the bed, he didn’t move and she sank down to the floor before him, gripping his knees. “Kylo!” she called.
His mind was locked to her, sealed and empty as if he wasn’t there. A thousand thoughts ran through her head as she grabbed his face between her hands and tried to pull him back. With a curse, she leant backwards and slapped him clean across the face.
His head whipped to the side and as she prepared for another blow, his hand shot out to grab her wrist and he sucked in a shuddering breath. His eyes landed on her and he pulled her up and into his lap, grabbing her as if she were about to disappear.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, staying attached but pulling her face back enough to meet his gaze which was only just beginning to focus. “What was that voice?”
“Skywalker,” he breathed the name and she felt it was true. It had his signature, something in the Force that told her it was him. “He’s close.”
“Should we go after him?” she asked but he shook his head.
“No. It was – he offered me a warning.”
“A warning for what?”
Rather than reply, he carefully moved her so that he could stand and began to pace. It was too much. More of that horrible dread at the back of her mind that he never did any more than allude to.
“Kylo Ren!” she yelled and stilled him with the force, locked his legs into position. He didn’t fight her, if he did he could break free easily. She moved to stand in front of him, pointed a finger in his chest. “Stop keeping me out. I let you in, it’s about damn time that you do the same for me.”
She let him go braced for anger and not prepared for the simple agreement. Kylo nodded, brushed a hand through his hair and backed onto the bed. She moved to his side, sat beside him, pulled her legs under her.
“I can’t say it,” he told her simply. “But I can show you.”
Rey nodded and sat back as they fell into a well-practiced position, kneeling before each other. This time, when they connected their hands, their fingers interlocked. He closed his eyes first and she exhaled, feeling out with her mind.
The same dark room pulled her in and Kylo was there to great her. The grimace on his face matched the one in the real world as she stepped towards him and took his hand.
“Show me,” she asked and he nodded.
There was a door, she had noticed it last time, with what felt like a thousand locks upon it. It was sturdier than the rest too. Kylo came to stop behind her and squeezed her hand before the locks disintegrated. And she was sucked inside.
Darkness everywhere. It wraps around her like a cape. It’s cold. These ruins are old, desolate.
There’s a pain in her side, and she lifts her right hand to cover the spot under her left rib. The scarring is fresh, and the wound is large. She recognises it instantly, has traced it a hundred times with fingers and kisses.
She swallows as she steps forwards. The dais is raised, an ethereal glow cast down onto the throne and its occupier.
Snoke something tells her as she steps forwards. When Snoke speaks the words reverberate through her core, splitting her insides more acutely than any dagger could.
“You have failed me, Kylo Ren.”
She falls to her knees. The action isn’t hers but it is and the voice that comes out isn’t her own. The words not what she would say. “I beg forgiveness, master. She is strong in the Force.”
“She has never been trained. Tell me, Master of the Knights of Ren, how does it feel to be defeated by a pup?”
The agony and failure are crushing. “I was injured –“ it’s an excuse and she stops before she finishes it. The punishment comes regardless.
The wound, still fresh, opens with painstaking precision under her heavy robes. She gasps and falls further to the ground, fingers clutching pointlessly at the stone floor. She tries to channel it but Snoke won’t let her, forces her to agonise inside the pain.
“Perhaps, I should have ordered Hux to return with her and not you.”
“Silence!” her voice is lost to him. “Enjoy your punishment, Kylo Ren.”
The agony sweeps through her once again. There’s an apology in the back of her mind, something distant and yet right there, and the ground shifts, time moves forwards but the torture lasts for hours, Snoke pulling her away from the brink only so she can suffer it all a second time. And a third. And a forth and a fifth.
Her mind flitters through time; images of agonising training, or bone-breaking pain. It’s supposed to make her feel stronger but she only feels weaker. She is supposed to be strong. That’s why she killed him. That’s why he’s gone. The thought cuts through her more brightly than anything Snoke can make her endure. The sensation isn’t hers but it burns her to the core and she feels raw agony with every breath since that moment.
Snoke is wrong, she realises with sickening clarity.
What else has he lied about?
The doubts, once they start, only grow and hunger. She throws everything into his training to make the doubt go away.
Snoke makes her fight. Over and over. Again and again. Bodies lie in her wake and for what reason? There’s blood on her hands but it’s not what he promised. She feels no different than she did on the bridge before. She’s faster, quicker, stronger but no more powerful. Not where it counts. The doubt remains.
Months of this flitter through her mind. She feels each strike against her as if it were fresh but she pushes on. She has to do this. Then she’s back in the chamber. Snoke is staring her down and Hux is by her side. He’s smug. She wants to destroy him. She doesn’t. Instead she focuses, keeps those thoughts aside. First she needs to get out of here.
“Kylo Ren has completed his training,” Snoke deigns from his platform. She doesn’t feel like she has. Something has shifted but she doesn’t let it show. Is careful not to let anything slide across her face or thoughts. “Almost. He has one task remaining.”
Of course, she thinks. Some other way to suffer. Some other pointless lesson.
“He is to take the Finalizer and kill the remaining Jedi. You will control the rest of our fleet, Hux. When this task is complete, he will join you. Or,” Snoke looks up and she feels it bore through her. Not the memories, directly into her, “The girl will.”
The vision shifts a final time. She’s back in space, back on her ship, staring out her window.
She knows what she needs to do. She needs to kill him.
Rey felt like she was thrown back into her body. It was different to any memory she had been shown before and it scared her how vivid it was. He had let her in completely – she hadn’t watched what happened to him, she had felt it, lived it. For a moment she was in awe of his strength to have survived what he had been forced through and then she realised she was shaking and Kylo was distant, eyes still closed. It drew her back to the moment.
Everything made sense. The need for secrecy, the reason he could never say the words out loud and why he always seemed so apprehensive. Everything slotted together except one thing.
“Why did you save me?” she asked and her voice shook with the words. He wanted to kill Snoke – still did – but it would be so much easier to get closer to him, to gain his trust if he had simply killed her when the opportunity was laid down before him.
“I can’t do this alone, Rey,” he told her sincerely, eyes opening on her with the same intensity they had when he first asked her to train with him.
She understood completely. It had only been a taste of the power at Snoke’s disposal when she had watched through Kylo’s eyes but there was always an inkling of something so much greater than that in the background. This was what she had promised to help him do. This was why he had trained her, why it had all started, why she was sitting here now opposite him. She squeezed their hands together, grounding both of them. “How do we do this?”
Kylo lowered his gaze to their joint hands, lifted them to his lips. “Plans have changed – if what Skywalker said was true –“
Rey’s mind flicked back to the message that she caught. It seemed an age ago now. “That we will fail?”
Kylo inclined his head, the smallest increment. “It seems he is offering something. You didn’t hear the full message. I blocked it from you when I realised you could hear it.”
“To protect you from this,” he exhaled. “I knew I had to tell you soon but not yet – not until we had the information. What the Resistance knows about… what they know.”
She closed the space between them, leaning up into him. “You don’t need to protect me. I’m here and will do this by your side. Let me help. Let me in.”
His hand stroked along her face, his lips pressing into her forehead. “It isn’t you I do not wish to let in.”
She felt how much content he held for his old master, how deep those ugly angered feelings went. Kylo didn’t just hate Skywalker he loathed him and she knew why.
“He failed you,” she soothed his chest and his heart thundered. “You blame him.”
Kylo dropped his head to hers. That discussion was for another time. “If what he says is true, if we do this as I had planned, we both die. I can’t let that happen.”
“And I can’t let you go alone.”
He smiled, bitterly. “Then it appears we have little choice. Time is not in our favour.”
“All we have to do is listen. From then we can make our own decision. I stand with you.”
He kissed her conveying just how much he appreciated her, how much he adored her. She groaned as he guided her back into the bed. They both needed it. Tomorrow they would need to discuss this further, plan what they were going to do, but now they had each other to fall into.
“Can we trust Ancora?” Rey asked as she fixed her belt, ready to head to the bridge. It was later than they usually left but Kylo had been meditating and communicating with Skywalker. His mood was still foul and she had the feeling if she weren’t in the room, he may well have destroyed it in anger.
As it was, every movement was filled with aggravation, down to the way he yanked his boots on or pulled his lightsabre to his hand with the Force rather than walking the five steps to where it rested over their bed; she made a point of doing so immediately after to collect hers.
Kylo sighed, deflating at the raised brow she cast him. His mask sat before him on the table but he hesitated as he looked from it to her. She understood his aggravation and if it weren’t for this, weren’t for her, he would have ignored Luke’s warning. Probably gone after Snoke on his own and gotten himself killed. Now they were discussing peace talks between them. A temporary measure but one Rey was not about to oppose. She had seen Snoke’s lair and it was terrifying just to recall it. Slowly, his shoulder’s dropped and he stepped towards her, one hand resting on her shoulder as he caressed her cheek with the other.
“Better yet?” she asked, kissing the palm of the leather.
“No and to answer your other questions, no we can’t. I handpicked Ancora but how far her loyalty goes I do not know. If another ordered her to give a full report, I suspect she would give it. May have already given it.”
“So if we leave, there’s no coming back? We do this – go to talk with them – and he’ll know you’re up to something?”
“Most likely. Although not immediately and what I am planning should remain unknown. We have always been on dangerous water,” he told her, tucking loose hair behind her ear. Rey was coming to realise it was a nervous habit. “Either your presence at my side is already known and it is being allowed or you are an unknown entity.”
“Which is better?”
“I don’t know. The idea that he knows about you being here with me and not as my prisoner is concerning. What game is being played then? Have our steps already been countered? Is this why Skywalker says we will fail?” he shook his head. “I would say it was better that your presence at my side remained unknown but even that has disadvantages. I was given a year, Rey. It’s been nearly seven months since you came to be here and time had passed before then.”
“So how long do we have?”
“Three months until I will be summoned. I can tell Ancora I am going directly after the last remaining Jedi. That will buy us time but it will be better if this is done before then.”
“If it’s not?”
“We will have the entirety of the First Order turn its attention onto us. They are less likely than the Resistance to want us captured alive.”
“A delightful thought,” she drawled.
“It isn’t too late for you,” the words surprised her as he pressed their foreheads together so she couldn’t see his face. It was infuriating but he didn’t stop her when she pulled back and saw the slight fear there. If he thought she would leave him now, he truly didn’t understand how deep this went for her.
“Actually,” she threaded her fingers into his and squeezed their hands together. “It is.”
It took another week of treading on eggshells with her words aboard the Finalizer before everything was arranged. The apprehension he had felt, the same that had stayed his hand from telling her, prevented him for ever saying the words out loud even after. There were eyes and ears always. Thousands of people on the vessel. It would only take one to be reporting directly to Snoke or to Hux. Although she wasn’t sure why. Her presence on the ship was in violation of Snoke’s orders but the way Kylo acted it was though even murmuring the Supreme Leader’s name would bring his ire onto them. It wasn’t an idea she dared to test.
Rey tried to carry on as she always did; she stayed in their rooms with him, joined him in discussions with Ancora on where they would need to look next, and they continued to train together. Only she did not feel as she should. She knew how easily this could come crashing down around them and felt her stomach twist whenever he left for more than a few hours, staying closer to him whenever she could. Rey wondered how he had managed the last half a year knowing this and continuing through the motions.
They couldn’t plan or make any advanced arrangements save for those Kylo made with Skywalker. He didn’t include her in those mental conversations and she was honestly glad. He wasn’t the only one nervous about going back. She understood the change in him now; why he was different from when she had fought him on Starkiller. His plan didn’t make him good but it was not purely revenge that guided his hand against Snoke. Rey didn’t dig that up. Couldn’t afford to. There was too much pressure already around them and she had made her decision.
When he rose from the bed in the middle of the night, she followed. They quickly washed, dressed and prepared themselves as if for another mission. Walking towards the shuttle bay, lightsabres strapped to their sides, that’s exactly what it looked like and what Ancora thought they were doing. There was nothing on the ship that she wanted to take with her that wasn’t already going. It was Kylo who was taking the bigger jump, the largest risk and she hoped he had plenty of back-up plans. She doubted even the most forgiving in the Resistance could simply welcome them back with open arms.
They didn’t speak as they boarded the shuttle and Kylo got them clearance to leave, his mechanical voice leaving little room for question with the control room. If there was anyone on the ship reporting directly to Snoke or Hux, they would think it was another mission. It would be at least three weeks before their scheduled check-in. By then, it would hopefully be too late to track them. As she piloted them out of the system, Kylo was ripping out and destroying any devices that would have them traced.
They travelled for over a day before arriving, landing on a large open field, and they didn’t speak much in that time. They both had demons to face and she knew his eclipsed hers but it didn’t make her feel better about the situation. There was another shuttle already waiting. Figures she couldn’t recognise from that far but she knew at least one of them. Rey squeezed his hand as she lowered the shuttle, her stomach a tight knot. They had scanned the planet for other lifeforms and found nothing else but the indigenous flora and fauna. It seemed strange to her that an entire planet could be empty save for those gathered here.
“Ready?” he asked as he moved to the ramp and keyed a code to lower it.
“Are you?” she returned. Neither of them answered the question as they stepped into the field side-by-side. There was wheat growing around them creating a yellow river that came up to her knees. They kept their blades holstered; the same concession their opposition made with their blasters. The two shuttles were forty feet apart. Short enough for them to make a hasty escape should it come to that. Once, the prospect of being returned to the Resistance would have filled her with nothing but joy. Now she was afraid of it.
Eyes considered the both of them and not a single gaze at her came without a wave of disappointment. Finn’s eyes were the hardest to meet. There was no residual damage from when she had sent him with into the wall with the Force but the betrayal burned brightly. Luke’s expression was the calmest, but even his lips were downturned. Leia’s eyes were solely for her son.
It wasn’t a surprise to see the Millennium Falcon or its pilot stood at the back, close but not participating in these negotiations.
“Your family is messed up,” she reminded him and he chuckled unevenly, squeezing her hand when it brushed his. The sound was strained and too low for anyone else to hear.
They stopped, a few feet still between the two opposite parties.
No one seemed to know what to say and for a few minutes, they simply stared. Eventually Leia stepped forwards, face stern as she demanded, “Take off that damn mask.”
There was a twitch of amusement from him as he acquiesced, removing the metal and ruffling his hair, placing the mask under his arm. “Better?” he asked condescendingly.
If there was a definitive on-off switch inside Leia, that was it. Without hesitating, she stepped towards him and struck him clean across the face. “That was for your father. You deserve more.”
He bowed his head only a moment but Rey felt how dear that strike had landed. They didn’t speak about what she had seen in his mind but there was regret. Miles of it. It was the breaking point, the moment he realised Snoke was wrong and it cut keener than any blade that it was a realisation come too late.
“Now that is done, can we turn to matters at hand?”
Finn was wide-eyed in shock and failed to get the similar disbelief from any of the other’s gathered around them. Maybe it was the residual part of him that was still a Stormtrooper that considered Kylo Ren above things such as admonishments. It could have been much worse but Leia quickly stepped back and let Luke lead this. Maybe it was too much for her. Maybe there was an unspoken agreement. Rey wasn’t sure.
“You accepted my warning. That’s more than I expected,” his gaze flickered to Rey and back. “Although I suspect you have vested interests in stopping it coming to pass.”
Kylo’s spine tensed and he turned to her. She placed her hand over his arm. She was here. Visions were just that: visions. She was real, not what Luke had seen.
“We are willing to offer a temporary truce and sanctuary for you – both of you – within our bases as we plan our attack.”
“And if, in the highly unlikely event we succeed and are still standing when all is said and done, then what?” Kylo asked and it was a good question.
“That depends on you,” Leia responded.
“There’s surely more to it than that,” Kylo crossed his arms over his chest and glowered down at those across from them. “What are your terms?”
Rey was surprised that it was Finn that stepped forwards then to speak, copying Kylo’s folded arm glare, staring directly at the man, refusing to even spare a glance to Rey. It hurt. More than she wanted to admit. “Any weapons will be confiscated and you will submit to questioning about Snoke and the First Order. We get an inkling that you’re lying to us and there’ll be consequences. Rey will be taken to a separate base until the time of the mission.”
“Unacceptable,” Kylo stated coldly, no need for the mask to make his voice menacing and dangerous in that moment.
“Considering what you’ve done, it’s a better offer than you have earnt. We’re putting a lot of trust in this not being a trick,” Leia’s voice was calm and steady but Rey was watching Luke, who was in turn staring between them.
“And you expect me to just let you take her from me?”
The disappointment rolled off of Luke in waves as he shook his head. “She has been under your influence long enough, Ben. Let her go.”
“No,” he growled. Her heart swelled as she let out an uneven breath.
“Take our weapons,” Rey began feeling Kylo’s rage bubbling beneath his skin. He was ready to lash out and it wasn’t going to get them anywhere. “Throw us in a cell if you want but this won’t work if you try and separate us.”
“Let’s not forget, you’re the ones asking for our help,” Finn’s words were bitter and hurt. Rey understood, remembered his pleading from last time. For all Finn was upset with her, he clearly still believed it was all Kylo’s fault. He would probably never be able to believe that she chose this willingly. And that scared Rey more. If they separated them; she had no idea what would happen to her or him.
Rey would rather go at this alone with Kylo by her side than spent the next however many months wondering if he were alright. A small flicker to his face ensured her that he was thinking the same thing.
“For a mission that will benefit you more than us,” Kylo gritted.
“Try and separate us and we’ll find something else,” Rey affirmed. “If we fail, you’ll suffer too.”
Luke and Leia shared a look before turning their gaze back to her. Leia considered her with sympathy and Luke with frustration. Finn had thrown his hand in the air and was pacing behind the two. If this was an indication for how things were to work, it was off to a great start, Rey thought. Kylo rested a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. It calmed the both of them.
They were on a precipice that she doubted either group thought would occur. She certainly hadn’t imagined it coming to this when she had first woken on the Finalizer. It was only a few steps between them but it could just have easily been a chasm.
“We would consider keeping you together,” Leia eventually breached the space. “Under the condition that we question you both separately on arrival. If certain parties express a desire to be separated then, we would do so.”
Kylo murmured something under his breath and Rey narrowed her gaze.
“Fine,” Kylo bit after a minute, a snarl in his voice but his lips were turned up. “But we will share quarters when no such desires are expressed.”
If Rey had been able to sit back and consider the situation as it was; a mother and son arguing over where she’d be sleeping, she might have laughed. As it was, standing opposite the heads of the resistance who would easily see them separated indefinitely, she had no such humour.
“You’ve got to be kidding me?” Finn hissed but Leia raised her hand.
“If that’s what she wants.”
“I am standing right here,” Rey murmured. “I chose this.”
“You’ll have to excuse us for finding that hard to believe,” Leia returned. “The pair of you will submit to questioning on arrival. After that you will be called upon for information and input on strategies to attack. When not questioned you will be returned to your cell.”
“Excellent,” Kylo drawled. “When we should be preparing for battle we will let out muscles atrophy in a cell.”
“Once your trustworthiness is less in doubt, these rules may be revised. Do you agree?”
“One addendum,” Kylo held his hand up. “Try to take Rey away from me by force and I will show no mercy.”
“Noted,” Leia said dryly and Luke – despite his years of training, despite his commitment to the Jedi way – rolled his eyes.
Kylo glanced to Rey, waited for her agreement before lowering his arm and exhaling. “Then we agree to your terms.”
The planet they landed on was cold. Cold enough that she could see her breath but there was no snow or blankets of white like there had been on Starkiller. Rey tugged her cloak closer to her body as they were marched into an old-looking metal bunker-type building. They weren’t on D’Qar or any of the other bases she’d seen in her time with the Resistance. This place looked practically desolate and she wondered if that was by design. Rey kept her questions to herself as the cold was cut off behind them behind a blast door. A veritable platoon of soldiers greeted them with blasters pointed at their faces. Rey was getting a little fed-up of Resistance hospitality.
“Weapons,” one of the soldiers demanded as Leia and Finn moved between the barricade and elsewhere, leaving Luke to watch over them as she unhooked her sabre and handed it across. “Now.”
Kylo was glaring at the man as he reluctantly threw his blade across, the man catching it almost fell on himself as he juggled it. Rey supressed her smirk at how it was handled so cautiously after that. If it made the Resistance feel better, so be it, but if either of them decided to leave it was hardly as though taking their sabres away would stop them.
The next order came from a different soldier carrying the shackles in his hands. Rey pursed her lips at the cool feel of metal around her wrists but knew she couldn’t be surprised at them. Idly she wondered if she’d have had the same treatment had she let them separate her. They clearly had one idea of how things had happened and she wondered how much of it was correct.
“This way,” a third soldier declared warily turning. The others filled into shape around them. The guns were never lowered as they walked through a veritable maze of doors. They didn’t see another soul as they moved and Rey was a little relieved for a reprieve from Finn’s disappointing gaze. The ride here had not been pleasant for either of them.
They were led deeper into the compound and she saw various rooms but didn’t focus on them. Kylo was already doing that, trying to learn the route out. If there was anything of import he would share it with her later. They came to a stop before another blast door and when this one opened, Leia was waiting on the other side.
“Who’s first?” she asked gesturing between them.
Rey stepped forwards. “I am.”
“Good,” Leia glanced behind them and Luke came to the front. Rey flicked her gaze to Kylo before heading inside the room; his eyes were dark and jaw clenched but he nodded to her. Probably about the limits of his ability in that given moment. That he hadn’t lashed out was a testament to how much he knew that they needed to do this.
The room was small. Just a table, three chairs and a recording device in the corner. It wouldn’t have taken much for her to disable or destroy it but she refrained. Leia gestured to a seat and she went to it, settling her hands on the table and trying not to fidget as Leia and Luke took their respective seats.
The silence was uncomfortable but it only lasted a moment before Luke looked at her and narrowed his gaze. “We want to speak to you alone, Rey.”
Rolling her eyes, she raised a weak mental shield. Luke had taught her better than never mind everything Kylo had taught her but she was not particularly inclined to keep Kylo out. Luke didn’t push. Instead she felt the Force creep over her, like a blanket that was thick and muffled and so overwhelmingly light. She had almost forgotten the strength of it within him. Rey didn’t protest. If she really wanted Kylo to hear her, all she’d have to do was shout. She could sense him on the other side of the door after all.
Leia’s gaze gentled after that, her hands reaching across the small metal table to collect Rey’s. They were soft and small but the way she was held was firm and reminded her of Kylo. They were comforting in a way Rey didn’t want but she resisted the urge to pull back. They were willing to offer them help.
Whatever she had thought to try and prepare for this conversation, she knew she wasn’t really ready to face all the questions. Those justifications that she had clung to on the Finalizer about the Resistance not caring were falling away at the soft, concerned eyes and in the face of the people who had taken her in, no questions asked.
“Rey, what happened to you? We know your shuttle crash-landed but all we found inside was blood,” Her eyes were pained and Rey knew then that they had searched, before Leia had said anything else she knew that she hadn’t been forgotten and her stomach knotted. “We led searches but there was no evidence of where you’d gone. Or … where your body was. From the amount of blood… we expected the worse. Right until you appeared on the space station.”
Rey had her own questions. So they had searched but for how long? Where had they looked? How could they have had no idea where she’d gone when Kylo’s men had found her so easily? Surely there was something they could have tracked? Although the thoughts bubbled in her mind, she let out a deep breath. It was her mind reaching, clinging to anger that she had held onto in the beginning when she needed to justify her decisions. That didn’t matter anymore. Not since she had chosen to stay by his side. If she could go back and be found by the Resistance instead, she wouldn’t. What had happened had led her to him and she wouldn’t give that up now she knew how it felt.
“The starboard engine failed whilst I was in Hyperdrive. I managed to get a ship over a hospitable planet when the port engine blew out. I sent out a distress signal before I lost consciousness.”
“How severe were your injuries?”
“My left arm was broken, shrapnel sheared through my calf and I was bleeding somewhere on my face,” she shrugged never having figured to ask for more detail about her wounds. There could easily have been internal bleeding too. Kylo had once commented in passing that she was in the medical bay for eleven days before she first regained consciousness. Waking up with the First Order, it seemed inconsequential relative to the concerns staring her in the face
Leia’s face darkened. “Where did you crash?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know. Kylo might. His men found me.”
“His men?” Luke asked with a mask of indifference. Leia was giving things away, Luke was not. In the past, Rey had always believed Leia to be the indomitable one but right then and there it was Luke's responses she was more afraid of. Maybe this was more personal for him. Maybe when Kylo came in here next, Leia would be the unrelenting force and Luke the caring one. She wasn't sure. “Not him?”
“No. I woke up on the Finalizer. It was only then I realised I’d been captured. My injuries had been healed.”
Leia seemed relieved at her words, squeezing her hand, “So you realise you were captured. Good. What happened?”
Rey explained the basics; she woke up in a cell alone, he came to speak with her once and left her again. She was rationed and there was no way to escape that room. They asked her relentlessly about the details of the cell, of what she could sense from the ship. Eventually, when they let her, she explained how he came to her and offered to train her. It was then that things became more strained.
“And you simply agreed?” Leia asked with clear surprise, sharing a worried look with her brother. Luke was staring at her trying to ascertain something.
“I didn’t see another choice,” Rey lamented feeling her frustrations rise and pulling her hands away, wrapping them around her chest. “It had been a long time in that cell. There was no sign of rescue and there was nothing in that I could have used to escape.”
Luke’s gaze was penetrating so she ignored him, focusing on Leia’s indignation. “I thought that if I agreed to be trained that I might find an opportunity to escape.”
“And did you?” Luke’s voice was cold.
Rey bit her lip and stared at the door. “There were occasions where I could have tried.”
“But you didn’t. Why?”
“I’d have never made it off the ship. Even if I miraculously had, I’d have never made it out of the star system.”
“So,” Leia placed her hand on Luke’s forearm, stilling the question he was about to throw at her. Rey was almost relieved. “You agreed to be his apprentice. Then what? How did we get from you using this to escape to what happened on Nishr?”
“I was moved out of a cell and into a room,” she doubted they would know how significant that turned out to be. She knew that she was lying, not outwardly, buy by failure to admit about the inhibitor. Rey was scared. Still scared of what it could do. They had once looked out for her and protected her but she couldn’t trust them. Not when Luke kept looking at her so coldly and Finn was so mad. She wouldn’t give them any fuel to use against her and Kylo. “We continued to train and eventually we went out together on a mission to Ando. We stopped pirates. They were killing everyone who entered the sector whether they were Resistance, First Order or civilians.”
They questioned her heavily on the mission; they hadn’t known about Ando or what was happening there. They wanted names of the Resistance soldiers she had seen. Rey had never bothered to look. Instead she had to recall what she had seen, feeling sick at the questioning. It was difficult for them to deny that their reactions there were the right ones, provided what she said was true and they made sure to emphasise that part.
The questions never seemed to cease, spending at least an hour discussing her missions with him. Rey was angry. Every other question had some insinuation or connotation that Kylo had twisted things, Luke rephrasing what she had said to be seen in another light. They didn’t know. They hadn’t been there.
“Drall,” Luke stated after they had sat silently, Rey staring at the table top, frustration bubbling under her skin. She had just explained her most recent missions; the places she had gone with him, the information that they had been searching for. Leia’s face had soured then. “Sources indicate he was there and not alone.”
Rey nodded. She had nothing to hide. “I was there.”
“Your informant had no recollection of ever seeing you. Odd given his reputation for simply killing those when their uses are fulfilled,” Luke’s eyes were pointed and she turned to Leia whose lips were pursed.
“I took the information from him and altered his memory.”
“Why?” Leia demanded with such a clear lack of understanding.
“Kylo would have killed him,” Rey exhaled and let her shoulders straighten.
“And you gave him the information about the Resistance?”
“I did,” she didn’t try to deny it. This was the path that she had chosen. Luke clenched his hand once before it was relaxed and settled against his leg again.
“There’s more to it. I felt a shift in the Force. A dark cloud around that time.”
“What do you want me to tell you?” she demanded because she was tired and they weren’t understanding. She wasn’t sure they’d ever understand. “That was the day that I chose to stop thinking about escape, because I wanted to stay where I was? I didn’t want to leave so I chose him.”
“But why?” Leia asked and she was straining so hard to understand. “Was it to stop Snoke?”
Rey shook her head. “I didn’t learn about that until recently.”
“He kept you in the dark, why? Perhaps there is more to this than he has told you.”
Luke’s words prickled anger within her. He was unrelenting. “He was trying to keep me safe and frankly, he’s done a better job of it that the Resistance ever did.”
His response was silent. A reminder of Starkiller. Kylo had not always had her best interests at heart. A thick fog descended over them and Rey tore her gaze to the door, wanted to pull her legs up onto the chair.
“The soldier you spared on the space station is here,” Leia told her, trying to diffuse the anger that was getting the best of her. Rey forced herself to calm and listen to what the General was saying. “You saved his life.”
“I don’t see the point in slaughter. I could prevent it, so I did.”
“So you haven’t completely fallen,” Luke informed her and she bristled, glaring at her former master.
“I gave the option for them to leave, to put down their gun’s and every time, they shot at me. Or do you not remember what happened on Nishr?”
“Yes,” Luke resettled his arms over his chest. “We recall what happened quite clearly.”
“Your men nearly killed me. Kylo saved me.”
“Do you feel indebted to him?” Leia asked. It was searching. They were searching. They wanted to know why she had joined him. She could see the confusion on their faces whenever she showed distaste for the First Order but was there fighting alongside them.
“You don’t believe in the First Order’s philosophies and yet you helped him acquire information about the Resistance. You try to save lives but are happy to let him kill. Have killed yourself in the name of the First Order! I’m sorry, Rey, and I’m trying, but I’m putting two and two together and not getting four,” Leia turned to Luke, eyes almost beseeching. “Can you look into her mind? Has he manipulated her into this? Is it like what Finn said with re-education centres?”
Luke shook his head. “I don’t think so and I could look in her mind but you’re missing one important detail,” when his gaze turned back to Rey it was heavy. The blow that came was worse. “Rey, are you in love with him?”
Her cheeks burned brightly and Leia inhaled sharply, and sat back in her chair, as Rey looked at her lap and nodded.
“Well,” Leia spoke when recovered. “That makes certain things make sense,” she turned to glare at her brother. “You knew about this all this time?”
The Jedi master let out a heavy sigh. “I had a suspicion. The vision I had spoke of a great connection between them. More than that of master and apprentice.”
Rey bit her lip but remained quiet on the subject. Kylo had told her what Luke had showed him but she hadn’t seen this vision Luke spoke of, wondered idly if Kylo had. It was a question for later. What had happened within it that alluded to their relationship?
“And you couldn’t have told me earlier?” Leia bristled flicking her eyes back to where Rey was sitting quietly. “This changes things,” the general decided, tucking a loose strand of her behind her ear as her lips pursed. “And leaves me with a thousand new questions. Ones I’m not sure I want the answers to.”
“I think it would be best if we were done for today,” Luke spoke after a minutes of awkward silence between them and stood, moving to the door. Rey followed and dropped the mental block, finding Kylo’s presence bubbling with anger, frustration and no small amount of fear. He was waiting outside the door when she exited the room, a strong unmoving figure until his eyes found hers. without hesitation, he stepped towards her and collected their hands, squeezed them together.
“Ben,” Luke called and the word was anything but neutral; a thousand emotions vying as he called to his nephew.
Kylo lowered her hands, stepped aside and the door slammed shut behind them. Kylo might have stood as a statue the last hour but Rey slid down against the wall hating when the beacon in her mind was cut off from her. Rey clasped her hands together and tried to meditate, ignorant to the soldiers still glaring at her.
It was hours before the door opened again. The guards changed half-way so they were still standing to attention, blasters still trained on her when the door finally opened and Kylo joined her. He was as uncaring as she of the guns as he came to help her stand and pulled her flush with his chest when he was done.
“I am already regretting this,” he murmured into her ear and she wanted to smirk but the mirth wasn’t there. Instead she lightly shoved him away as their guards made a noise of protest and a demand that they follow them.
“It won’t be that bad,” she hedged having no idea if that was the truth or not.
They were led away from their interrogation room and towards a corridor that required six access codes to enter. Rey wished that she could say it was overkill but if they truly wanted to escape, that wouldn’t stop them. Leia had to know that.
The final room they came to was smaller than her room on the Finalizer and incredibly basic. There was a small alcove that fed into the refresher and in the main space there was nothing save a bunkbed, each containing a folded pile of clothes, a table with two chairs and a single storage locker.
The men paused them to remove their shackles but there were no words as they stepped inside and the door shut and sealed behind them. At least the walls were solid. There was a camera and Rey reached out and crushed the inner workings without a second thought as Kylo moved over to the bunks, grabbing the mattresses and laying them onto the floor. She moved over to him and helped him with the second one.
“Who would have thought the First Order would be more accommodating?” she jested as she glanced around the tiny space, feeling better now it was just them again.
He sighed and wrapped his arms around her. She went easily, accepted the kiss he gave her. “My mother doesn’t approve,” he murmured into her ear as he withdrew. Her nose twitched. “She feels my influence is corrupting.”
“Completely,” she shot back, sliding her hands up onto his face.
His finger trailed down her jaw. “Shall I corrupt you some more?”
She shuddered pressing into him, letting him lower her to their make-shift bed. She could have been worried about being heard or seen but she wasn’t. As soon as he sank into her, nothing mattered except them. They moved together quickly, both needing to reaffirm that they were together, that they were real as he covered her with his body. They needed this.
It was after, when they were lying in a strange room on a foreign planet, wrapped in each other’s arms, sweat drying on their skin, that they discussed their separate interrogations. She recalled hers with feigned disinterest but he questioned what he had sensed from them; the spike in her anger that had managed to breach Luke’s shield. She glossed over the final few comments that had drawn her interrogation to a close and turned to him.
The questions that had been levelled at him were more pointed than hers. They did ask about her, some of the same questions but quickly moved to discussing his master, what they knew and what he knew. A thousand details that Rey had not known. The more he spoke, the more dominating their mission became. He kissed her on the shoulder, wrapped around her from behind, soothing his words with actions. It helped.
“Is that everything?” she asked turning to consider him when he had stopped describing and explaining the true size of the task before them.
“Not quite,” he admitted, face turning grave. “My mother asked my intentions with you. She fears that I am using you. Leading you on for my own goals.”
She stroked her hand over his face, letting it rest upon his cheek. “I know you aren’t.”
“And now so do they,” he murmured, pressing their lips together. “She was surprised to hear that you loved me.”
Rey’s heart fluttered and her cheeks bloomed. “You know I do.”
“And yet I have never heard the words out loud.”
She pinched him. “Don’t tease me.”
He chuckled and gathered her closer, twisting so that she lay atop him. Her heart pounded when his humour died down and his expression sobered. “I love you, Rey. More than I thought possible. This is not going to be easy for us.”
She swallowed. She’d never been loved before. Not that she could remember. It shouldn’t have affected her so much. She already knew he cared, how profoundly he cared for her, but it was different hearing it out loud. It tore through her and buried itself deep within her heart where she could protect it. “I love you,” she exhaled.
“I know,” he promised her, holding her tighter still. He killed the lights, using his powers against the switch on the far wall and she drifted in the security of his arms.
They were clean and dressed in their new jumpsuits when the sharp knock landed on their door the following morning. Rey stepped out first, Kylo following her, hands placed on her shoulder as they moved through the base. It drew a few looks, more pointedly a few glares, as they walked. It felt odd to be back in a Resistance base. After so long with the First Order she was used to pristine, clean, new and functional equipment unlike the mismatch of old and rusted, hold together by tape and replacement parts. There was a sense of belonging that she felt in her bones being so used to spending time with scrap but there was a deeper sense that she was out of place. Once, she might have belonged here. Now, she wasn’t sure.
As they walked in silence, Rey couldn’t help but ponder what Kylo was thinking. He had grown up around all of this too. Was the internal conflict there within him? Or did he have different, bigger concerns that she didn’t know about?
The moment the thought passed through her, he squeezed her shoulder and she swallowed. He let some things bleed across to her, let her feel his apprehension for a moment, let her know she wasn’t alone before it closed off again to stop Skywalker picking things up. Kylo was definitely going through things being here.
They were taken to a different room from before, along paths that Rey doubted she could remember. This room was larger with a much bigger table and Rey had the sinking feeling that she would not be leaving that room anytime soon as they settled inside.
They sat down at the table, side by side, and two bowls were deposited in front of them. Rey poked at it. It was porridge but particularly watery porridge. Regardless, Rey ate. She knew the value of food and when Kylo looked set to turn his nose up at it, she glowered at him a sharp reminder not to waste.
Rolling his eyes, he complied. They were left alone for about half an hour in which time they did not speak words. Instead, any messages were passed in the glances; raised brows, terse lips, shrugged shoulders. When the door opened, Rey tried to hold her head high as they were joined by Leia, Luke, Poe Dameron, and Admiral Ackbar. Poe seemed the most chipper even if his expression visibly soured when he saw Kylo, deepening further when he saw her sat beside him. She wondered what Finn had told him. Wondered what those in the Resistance knew about her reappearance beside the enemy.
“Supreme Leader Snoke,” Leia spoke the words with distaste, wasting no time in getting to the heart of the matter once everyone was sat down, “Is a dangerous threat. We have the knowledge to take him out. We need to come up with a plan for how.”
They all listened as Leia laid out the information they had gathered; locations, fleet numbers, weapon capabilities. It was all the information that they had been searching for those past few weeks, laid out before them with no qualms. Rey was hit by the waste of life trying to learn these things.
The longer she listed defences and capabilities the more impossible their task became, when she finally finished, Kylo chipped in, correcting some information before adding, “And that’s to stop you getting inside. When you do there will be the remaining Knights of Ren, who Snoke will use as his personal guard, and of course, his supreme majesty.”
“We’ve faced worse odds,” Leia insisted and Poe snorted.
“Really?” he turned to Kylo and Rey. “Are you sure this isn’t just a trap to get us into throwing away half of our fleet? Because that’s what’s going to happen if we try and attack this place.”
“It is in all of our interests that the Supreme Leader is eliminated,” Kylo said, anger infusing his words.
Poe didn’t back down. “Oh yeah, and how’s it helping you, buddy?” Kylo flicked his gaze to Rey and she met it, held it. She knew why he was acting and it wasn’t solely for himself. Not now. “Who is to say we aren’t cutting off the head of the viper only for two, more dangerous ones, to grow in its stead?”
“Rey has no interest in that mantle,” he told Poe who balked.
“And you expect us to believe that? And what about you? I don’t like this, General.”
“Be that as it may,” Leia interceded. “This is where we are. You’re quite right, a direct assault could be catastrophic. We need distractions and strike teams. Someone to take out anti-aircraft defensive weapons, another to destroy their hangar bays and a third to confront Snoke.”
“And the rest,” Poe shook his head. “And who’s going to be leading us? Him?”
“Rey and I will be going after Snoke.”
“Not alone,” Luke spoke cutting through them. “You need a team.”
“Count me out,” Poe crossed his arms and sat back, only to straighten under Leia’s tight gaze.
“We’ll work out the logistics before working on teams.”
Rey had never before realised how tedious and nerve-grating ‘logistics’ were before that day. For hours they questioned Kylo about any extra information, weak points in enemy lines, weapons or ships. He gave all the information willingly, pointed out any flaws in their plans that he could see. It was the first time that she had seen him be a true leader. Not a leader of a small squad but a tactician who saw weaknesses on both sides and had suggestions on how to improve upon them. It awed her to watch.
As the day wore on, Rey noticed his comments were taken on board more readily. It was all she could do to view it. Rey was a fighter and a survivor but she wasn’t a leader. Not like this. She didn’t have the knowledge that Kylo had either. Rey idly wondered as a back and forth started between Poe and Kylo on X-wing capabilities against Tie-fighters, how Leia must be feeling. When she spoke it was with a clear, level voice, but since the initial explanations and following Kylo’s increased input she had become quiet and contemplative, often sharing looks with her brother.
Luke’s gaze was tight and flickered often between her and Kylo. She didn’t like it. There was knowledge in his eyes that scared her. He knew something that he wasn’t letting on. In the entire time that they were trapped in the room that first day, he didn’t say a word. Between Kylo’s knowledge, Poe’s begrudging affirmations, and Admiral Ackbar’s slowly improving mood, she started to believe they might be able to pull it off.
One look to Luke warned her that they might, but at what cost?
It took a few days before they weren’t needed for twelve-hour sessions in a room with very little breaks as Kylo was milked for all information. She was amazed how much he knew and the schematics he had just handed over, sliding over a datapad she hadn’t even realised he had taken from the Finalizer. It was a show of his dedication to this path which seemed to win them a few favours; it could have been her imagination but the food seemed better, and the clothes they gave fit without her having to roll the legs up.
Eventually, the meetings slowed and they were dismissed so that the heads of the Resistance could look at the feasibility of such a plan without Kylo overhearing anything delicate about the Resistance. She supposed that she fell into that category too now.
When that day’s meeting finished after only an hour, Leia declaring they had the information they needed to scout, Rey had been looking forwards to the prospect of spending time alone with Kylo. The only time they really spoke had been in the evenings and even then he was often too tense to actually talk about how he was feeling. Often he would pace around their small space or, if she was lucky, meditate with her.
Knowing what was on his mind didn’t make it easier for any of them. The shadows only seemed to grow as the days passed and more than once she was woken in the night by his nightmares. She wanted to help him but she didn’t know how.
When instead of heading back to their room, their guards took them elsewhere, she was immediately frustrated. When they entered a large, mostly-empty room, she became suspicious. She knew the function of such a space well. Kylo was tense by her side, even more so when Luke entered.
“You need to prepare,” Luke told them, standing at the side of the room. The Force flowed through him, around him, he was a beacon of light but he was also cut-off from her. He seemed peaceful but otherwise devoid of emotion. “This fight will test your abilities. Grab a training sword and position yourselves in the centre of the room.”
“You aren’t my master,” Kylo hissed and his anger reverberated around them.
“No, I am here to help. No one is keeping you here. Go back to your cell if you prefer.”
Rey took his hand and squeezed. There was a temptation in both of them for just that but Luke was right. It had been a while since they had trained and being cooped up in a cell as they had was doing nothing to help him contain his frustrations. She felt him close his eyes and force a breath out. Gently guiding, she collected weapons for them and moved into the centre of the room. “Just you and me,” she told him before letting go and moving to stand opposite him.
They nodded towards each other and then began.
Their moves were well-practiced and known. They flowed around each other. Luke was standing in the corner watching with a grave expression but neither paid him any mind when they started to parry. Kylo had strength in his blows and was fluid but she was faster, her forms not as well studied.
Their weeks doing this had built them into a machine of hits, spins, and neither shied away from integrating the force into the battle.
Rey made a sweeping arc, Kylo cut her off and pulled at her leg. “Strengthen your core,” he admonished when she stumbled, offering no reprieve as she rebalanced and immediately had to block the heavy blow he aimed at her shoulder.
She threw him off and kicked out using his chest to give herself distance to breathe. She could feel him invading her mind and cut him off, drawing a smile from the man. “Better. Put that into your blows.”
Rey didn’t give into the anger like he did. She felt it, drew on it in the truly dire straits but couldn’t concentrate if it pulsed beneath her every action. She ran back to him, parrying to low blows before leaping over him, she spun in the air but he was already there to great her when she landed with a shove of the Force. Her feet landed firmly, her core holding her through it.
“Your face gave away your intent,” he told her when their faces were close, the training sticks crossed between them. “Focus.”
The anger bubbled beneath her as she paralysed his left leg and shoved him back through his weapon. He stumbled but before she could use the advantage, the force snared her around her middle, kept her planted exactly where she was.
“Let me go,” she hissed and he chuckled.
Together they dropped their holds and moved back, circling. There was nothing fancy in what came next; a trade of blows. He caught her wrist and she returned with a whack to his shoulder. The next set of knocks were as powerful as the first and still they flowed around each other. Minutes passed and slowly their actions were tiring from the constant exertion of body and mind.
There was an opening, against his neck and she could have levelled a vicious hit against it but even their training weapons could hurt and so she hesitated. She was rewarded by his leg snaking around her ankle as she deliberated her next blow. The world tilted as she dropped let out a little moan at the hard floor. Their other training room had been softer and she sorely missed that as she stared up at the ceiling trying to catch her breath.
Kylo came into view and offered a hand. “You should have taken the strike.”
Threading her fingers through his, she was pulled up and he steadied her with an arm around her waist. “I don’t want to hurt you,” she told him, softly before narrowing her gaze and adding. “I couldn’t deal with you complaining about a bad neck for the next week.”
“When do I ever complain?” he offered with a smile that made her shove at his shoulder. The arm around her didn’t release.
Steps towards them broke them from their little revere, reminded them why they were training and the floor wasn’t quite so soft. They turned together and Rey blanched when she noticed the audience, and one particular man within it. She hadn’t seen him since they’d arrived and his eyes were burning.
Luke was still considering them shrewdly, hands disappearing into his robes as he held his forearms. “You offer instruction well and she takes your word instantly,” his gaze flickered to her. “Something you had not done when I trained you.”
Kylo’s hold around her tightened. “I hold no secrets from Rey.”
“So you say,” Luke deliberated the space between them before addressing Rey whilst looking at Kylo. “He wants to speak to you. Alone. The room is large enough and I would speak to my nephew.”
Kylo was disgruntled at the term, it rolled off of him in waves, but with a glance to her for her opinion, he stepped away. The pair walked to the corner of the room and Rey found where Finn had moved away from the other Resistance fighters who still seemed shocked at what they had seen.
She blocked them out as she sat down on the bench beside Finn. He looked straight out, gaze not focused on anything in particular. She waited.
“So, you and him then?” his voice was trying to be cold, uncaring but she tasted the pain and anger there.
“Yeah. Me and him.”
“Tell me, did he seduce you to the dark side before or after he seduced you?”
She flinched at his words. They always wanted to assume that it was Kylo’s fault. That he had done something to her. Maybe it was easier to accept than the thought that she had betrayed them. Turned away from the Resistance that left her. It didn’t matter that they had searched for her. If things had gone differently, she would have died alone on a cold planet.
“I wasn’t turned to the dark side,” she said, admitting it out loud for the first time. She wasn’t entirely good, she knew that, she wasn’t a Jedi like everyone had wanted but she was hardly a Knight of Ren. “I didn’t pick a side. I just chose him.”
“And that’s why you helped him steal information on the Resistance? Maps, trade routes? I was there with Poe when he found the leak on Drall. The man told us the contact never turned up – the bartender knew differently. Told us a man and a woman had entered together. The description matched, I just didn’t want to believe it was you – but the reports kept coming, Rey. You say you chose him but you’ve been working for the First Order all the same.”
She bit her lip and let him get it off of his chest. Nothing she could say would make it better so she didn’t try.
“I just want to know how. How did you go from fighting him on Starkiller – beating him – to joining him?”
“He was there for me,” she said softly.
“So were we! God dammit, Rey. Why didn’t you reach out with the Force? We didn’t know they had you but if we had we would have come. You know that. Why didn’t you try? Why didn’t you reach out to Skywalker like he did to Kylo?”
“I couldn’t!” she balled her hands into fists and stood up and he caught hold of her wrist, stopped her getting away from him.
“Why? Because you’d be betraying him? You don’t think he’ll do the same to you the first opportunity he gets?”
She turned to him, the anger raced through both of them and was underpinned by pain in two sets of eyes as she yanked her arm free of his hold, “No, he wouldn’t. You don’t know anything, Finn. You don’t know what happened on the Finalizer. You’ll never understand why –“
“So,” he seized the opportunity. “He did force you. I knew it! He did something to you, Rey. What was it?”
She turned her head down to the side. “Finn, drop it.”
“No,” he grasped her shoulders and shook her. “What did he do to you? Tell me and we can get you out of this.”
She chuckled bitterly, darkly. “Don’t you get it? I don’t want to get out of this. I won’t leave him.”
“That’s not you, that’s him!” Finn insisted. “Look at me. Just, look at me. I’ve been on their ships. I know what they can do to people, how they can break them open. We won’t judge you.”
Rey opened her eyes and met his. He was desperate, clutching and it hurt. Hurt to see and to feel. There were tears in her eyes and he crushed her against his chest. “Come on,” he ushered. “Let’s get you out of here. Luke can help undo what he did.”
“He didn’t do anything!” she insisted pulling out of his arms. He wouldn’t let her go. “He gave me a choice which is more than the Resistance is doing!”
“And what choice was that? Join him or die? You have to see that this is wrong, Rey. He tried to kill us – almost killed me, tortured Poe and you’re crawling into bed with the guy!”
“Would you prefer she was joining you at night?” Kylo’s voice was surprisingly calm as he moved to stand at her side. Finn flinched and finally dropped his hold on her. Rey hadn’t noticed Kylo’s approach either, they were too embroiled.
“If it kept her away from you,” Finn stood. “Hell yeah, I would. What did you do to her? A year ago, she never would have joined you.”
Kylo crossed his arms over his chest, “I simply asked.”
“Bantha fodder,” Finn copied the movement. “If it’s her damn choice why won’t you leave her alone? Why are you so afraid of letting her out of your sight?”
“She already has spoken to you outside of my influence. And if she wants to leave, she may.” He turned his gaze to her and she brushed the tears off of her face. “What do you want?”
Her legs were shaking but she didn’t hesitate as she took a step closer to him, purposefully threading her fingers through his. Finn turned his head away in disgust.
“No. I can’t accept this – not until someone’s looked inside your head and told me he didn’t do this.”
“No one can force that on her, Finn,” Luke’s voice was uncompassionate as he spoke. “To do so would be no better than the people we fight.”
“Rey,” Finn turned to her, eyes open and pleading. “I’m begging here. Just – let him in. What are you so afraid of him seeing?”
Rey knew exactly what she feared. Kylo knew it too and lowered his head. There was an apology flowing between them.
“Don’t do it,” she told him as the thought formed, turning to Kylo and shoving him in the chest. “No.”
“The information could be used when we fight Snoke.”
Rey shuddered. “And who’s to stop it being used against us after? Not again, Kylo.”
“I alone have this knowledge of how it is made and will keep it hidden.”
“And what’s to stop them figuring out their own way when it’s done?”
“What the hell are you two talking about?” Finn demanded and Luke was considering them very, very carefully.
“Ben,” Luke said patiently. It wasn’t a command or a question. Just an opening.
“I will submit to your invasion,” he told Luke, standing forwards as Rey battered against his mind begging him not to do that. “And afterwards, you will leave our relationship alone and stop trying to separate us.”
“If it proves that you haven’t manipulated her,” Luke added which was greeted by a stilted agreement by Kylo. “Go. Rest. We will begin in the morning.”
Rey refused to speak to him on the way back to their room.
The door slammed behind her and she was angry. It was all she could feel, vibrating through as she paced the small space. He hadn’t listened to her. He was going to tell Luke how to effectively eliminate them as opposition. She wanted to scream, wanted to punch him.
Kylo watched her pace, leaning against the door. Waiting.
He felt everything that she felt, she made no attempt to block her feelings. It bore down on her and she wanted him to know it.
“They’ll use it against us.” Rey finally raged spinning on him, keeping space between them, taking a deep breath to stop herself lashing out. The allure was great and terrifying. “I can’t feel that again, Kylo. You don’t know what it’s like – the agony – “
“I know exactly how it feels. I felt your pain and isolation then and can sense your fear of it now.”
If she had something to throw at him, she would have. Instead she had to turn around, digging her nails into her palms as she counted. “You knew? You knew and you did it anyway?” she hissed. “That feeling – it was one of the worst of my life!”
“What would you have me done? I needed to speak with you and you wouldn’t have let me.”
“You could have tried!”
He stepped forwards and any calm he had mustered was gone. “To what end? So we could fight until one or both of us were dead?”
Rey remembered her feelings at the time and she knew that she wouldn’t have listened to him when she woke on the Finalizer, never would have agreed to his training. Rey didn’t want to feel logic in that moment. She wanted to be angry and mad and frustrated but staring into his eyes she understood the true feelings that were guiding her. The fear that threatened to cripple her.
It was a tool that hurt her in a way nothing else ever had. Even on Jakku, she had herself, her body, and her mind. Whatever she didn’t have physically, she had within herself. That device went beneath her skin, stripped away a part of her. She remembered the fear that threatened to break her. If Kylo had left her alone in that cell indefinitely, he would have done just that.
The idea of anyone having it was terrifying. Staring at him, meeting his eyes, she tasted all that fear and felt it be compounded with the knowledge that if the situations had been different, if the Resistance had had that power and somehow managed to catch Kylo they would damn well use it. She also doubted that he would be given the out that he gave her.
Kylo saw some of this in her face and dropped her arm gently. She saw the desire within him to touch her but she was too raw, too inflamed. Instead, he gave her space and spoke softly, almost pleadingly, “It was the only way.”
Rey turned her head away from him and tried to contain the cacophony of emotions inside her. It was a long time before she felt able to speak and even then her voice was low, words barely there, “If you give them that knowledge then they will use it against us.”
“I am not giving them the knowledge,” he insisted and he was so close to touch but neither of them breached the space. “I promise you, Rey. I will give nothing but the knowledge that such a device exists. I won’t let them hurt you.”
“I saw in your mind. You want to use it against Snoke. We don’t need to tell them to do that!”
“I need resources to create another chip and to modify a weapon that would imbed it,” he insisted but there was something else.
“Why would you let him into your mind?” she asked, beseeched. She knew the pain. Knew he was uncomfortable with her doing it, couldn’t imagine what it would be like for him to allow Luke to do so.
“Do you think I like what they say? Do you think it doesn’t bother me that they think I have manipulated you into my arms? That I am using you? That my mother had to ask what plans I had? That they think me a twisted monster using you for some perverted purpose?”
Her emotions shifted again and she felt drained, tentatively letting her hands rest on his chest, sliding up around his neck. The anger and fear slid back when his hand stroked her hip. “I love you,” she breathed her heart pounding from the heady mix of emotions flowing through them. “I don’t care what they think. I am at your side.”
His free hand travelled to her cheek, their foreheads dropping together. “They can rot for all I care but I see their schemes. For however long they think such they will try and separate us at the first available opportunity. Regardless of what you say or how you act. My mind is strong and I am better able to conceal things than you are, even with someone in my head. If this means I won’t lose you, I don’t care that I have to do it.”
“You shouldn’t have to, Kylo. I know this hasn’t been easy.”
“Rey,” he turned his head away, looked to the ceiling as he slotted her under his chin, trapped in the warmth of his arms. “I just want it to be done. So that I don’t fear that the moment I turn your back, I will have lost the only thing that matters.”
“They don’t have the right to ask this,” she mumbled into his chest. No one should be able to demand that knowledge. How they had ended up here, in each other’s arms was a private matter. This felt like a violation.
“I will show him snippets. Moments of change. Enough so that they realise I didn’t torture you into this.”
“Don’t do this. No matter what happens I would always come back. Break out if I had to. They wouldn’t ever succeed in keeping us apart.”
“You shouldn’t have to and I won’t chance it,” he exhaled and they were pressed close, his hand caressing the hairs at the nape of her spine. “I am doing this for you.”
Rey pulled back to meet brown eyes, found them steeled. “There’s no changing your mind on this?”
He shook his head. “I had been considering telling them about the inhibitor regardless. Snoke is too strong without it. I’ve seen it. Felt it. We need an edge.”
“I want to be there,” Rey told him. “I’ll help make sure he sees only what you want him to.”
Their eyes held for a long minute, an unspoken conversation that ended with his lips pressing against hers. She fell into it, letting out a small noise as his tongue pressed to the seam of her lips for entrance that she gave willingly. He guided her backwards, hands undoing her clothes as she undid his. There was no fear when he touched her, no apprehension as he laid her down and covered her.
She rolled them, changing positions so that she was staring down at him. His eyes sparkled as they devoured hers and she bit her lip as she placed him and slid down. They took their time, slow heady movements that washed away the anger and resentment with gentle touches and moans.
After, when they had both cried each other’s names, he held her tightly, moving them onto their sides.
“I love you,” he murmured and she felt it sink into her as the words always did, lighting a path through her.
“And I love you,” she returned, noticing the same burning through him. They fit together, Rey realised, two pieces of the same part. She rested her hands on his chest.
“I should warn you,” he told her fingers stroking down her face. “That I can’t ever let you go. That if something happens to you, I will burn it all down. I don’t care.”
Rey felt the intensity of his words. They burnt her, scarred her. “I will always choose you.”
“And I will stand by your whatever comes after.”
After. The thought was foreign to her. Up until that moment, she had never thought of after. Of a future more than just the two of them in the moment. The idea of it was weighty and too thick to wade through when her eyes were already threatening to droop. “We can decide together.”
“If the Resistance don’t kill us the moment Snoke’s dead, or throw us into a cell.”
“We need a back-up plan,” she decided and he nodded, burying the thought for later.
First, he needed to let Luke Skywalker into his mind. Rey brushed that back when the thought began to fester and kissed him instead. They didn’t need any more pain that evening.
They had only just exited the refresher when the door opened. Leia stepped forwards and her gaze swept over the make-shift bed before she rolled her eyes. Rey avoided her gaze, turning to Kylo who met his mother’s with neutrality.
“I am surprised that you don’t approve. Rey was one of yours after all,” he poked at the wound and she wanted to chastise but this was harder for him than it was for her. He didn’t want to talk about the multitude of feelings that whirled through him but she felt the backlash of it in her mind. He wasn’t meant to be caged, certainly not by the Resistance. If it weren’t the only way to benefit their goal, he would have left long ago.
Leia’s gaze hardened. “Your room’s a mess. Did you at least have the sense to get an implant?” Leia asked Rey who blushed profusely.
“It was taken care of,” Kylo answered for her. She didn’t want to recall the trip to the medical bay the day after they first started but it flashed before her eyes. Rey was glad it had been a droid and not someone who could judge.
“Good. Luke’s waiting.”
They followed in silence, Kylo sliding their hands together as they moved. She wasn’t sure if it was for him or for her but it hardly mattered. They both benefited from the point of contact.
It was a new room that they entered. Larger than their planning room and smaller than the training space. It was lit with bright white lights. Luke Skywalker sat in the centre, only opening his eyes when they entered.
“Ben,” he greeted. “Rey.”
She bowed her head in deference, Kylo made no acknowledgment whatsoever. Together they moved and sat before Luke, mimicking his posture as they formed a small circle.
“I trust you know how this works?” Luke asked, gaze flickering primarily to Rey.
“I’ve done it before,” she replied.
If Luke was disappointed or impressed, nothing showed outwardly. “And you will be listening in, I presume?”
“Then let’s begin.”
The vision is different this time. She is no longer walking in Kylo ’s shoes, this time she is observing, following from behind. Close enough that his thoughts and feelings wash over her but far enough away that she keeps her own mind too. They are guests here and the reluctance travels through her. Luke is by her side, careful and out of place.
They are in his room on the Finalizer. He is sifting through reports when the comm panel beeps.
“Report, ” he demands, barely taking his eyes off of the pad in his hand. Rey sees the terse line of his back, feels the pressure he is under. She knows why but Luke is curious, she offers no explanation.
“Sorry to intrude, my lord. The scouting party in Vish Sector have uncovered a girl. Believed to be the one from Starkiller. She is injured. They request additional orders. ”
His mind splutters and stops. Snoke ’s orders spring forth alongside his decision afterwards. It would be easy to win his masters favour. It would also be the end of any hope he had of defeating him.
“What ’s her condition? ”
“Bring her to me, ” he orders without thinking and stands, old reports forgotten as his mind races.
It shifts. Time moves forwards. Rey lays unconscious on the bed. An image of her arrival drifts through her mind. She ’s all but healed, the scar on her leg the only remaining reminder. She ’s secure. He watches her. Sometimes for hours. Sometimes just to ensure she ’s still there. His thoughts are always the same. Will she listen? Will she help?
He ’s about to leave when he feels her mind stir. He stills and turns back. Her consciousness is racing but her eyes remain closed. He waits a minute, two, before speaking.
“And finally she wakes, ” his words have the intended affect. Her eyes fly open and she moves against the restraints. He feels her pain at the action. He feels no satisfaction in having her captured like this. There is no skill in stealing away someone who cannot defend themselves. “Please. Continue to struggle. Reopen the wounds that have only just healed. ”
He wants to call her an idiot but it won ’t get him anywhere. Rey feels her flash of annoyance and keeps it at bay. This is no easier to watch as it was to live.
“Where am I? ” the words are small, afraid. He realises that she needs to calm. There ’s no point trying to reason with her like this. She ’ll never understand.
“You know the answer to that. ”
He calls the droid with a discrete button by her bed. She doesn ’t notice, thrashing and terrified as she is.
“The patient’s blood pressure and heart rate are rising dangerously, ” the droid decides and Kylo is almost pleased he doesn ’t have to just instruct it to sedate her.
She realises too and tries to move, to use the Force. He presses her into the bed, using her weakened state, her unfocused mind to stop her as the needle punctures her skin.
“Why? ” she mumbles and he turns away as her eyes slide shut.
She is dangerous. Too dangerous to try and contain. He has made that mistake once before. “Keep her sedated, ” he orders as he moves away. A thought occurs to him, a memory of a passing mention of a device that would serve his purposes. Give him chance to speak to her.
Kylo Ren returns to his room and studies. She sees datapads but all names, any indication of where he found his information is too fuzzy to see clearly. Time passes. Longer than she realised before he returns to her. Luke ’s attention is enraptured, not on the datapads and knowledge that she fears but on Kylo. The way he thinks of her, how he is planning. Luke is filing all this knowledge away and that scares her more than the sight of the needle.
Rey feels her stomach twist as she watches Kylo carrying a needle. She knows what ’s inside it even if Luke doesn ’t. She is mute as the foreign presence beside her that is watching as the metal is implanted. Even unconscious her mind rebels, face twisting and contorting in the bed. Kylo ’s hand strokes soothingly down her arm and she calms, if only minutely. She doesn ’t remember any of this.
“Take her to a cell. Let the sedative wear off, ” Kylo orders, a new attachment added to his belt.
Rey feels Luke's presence by her side and it's the first time that she feels as though she is the one being watched as the time flickers forwards once again. She keeps watching, fascinated. Rey looks smaller in his eyes in the cell than she has ever felt. It ’s Kylo's interpretation. He feels her apprehension. There's no mental block now. If he still wished to know Skywalker's location, he could simply pluck it from her mind.
“Why am I here? ” she asks and he feels her discomfort. To be cut off by the Force was no small thing. He did not consider the pain it would cause when he implanted her and now he feels uneasy as her mind clutches desperately at his just to feel the Force.
“You are an asset to the Resistance. ”
“What, so I ’m here so they can ’t have me? ”
Her voice seems petulant but there is so much more. He tastes her fear. She did not expect to be taken prisoner. Was not prepared. Neither is he. He considers her and how much to say. His master listens closely. To mutter such words on such a vessel would bring death swiftly. “Not solely, ” he informs her crossing his arms, thinking. He sees her gaze travel to his blade. He unhooks it with precision, “Try it, ” he suggests.
He feels her mind, and for one second, he hopes. The Force wraps around his blade only to slip away. Her frustration is mirrored within him. He continues to watch as she tries the slow creep of dread flooding through her.
"What have you done to me? ”
The accusation is broken and he feels a wave of nausea roll through him. His eyes burn into her as she tries to keep back her tears. He re-holsters his weapon, convinced now that it has worked. “An implant. ”
Her emotions are unconstrained, volatile. She stands despite the way she sways hands clenching into fists. “What have you done? ” she demands a second time, voice cracking. It hits him.
“Old technology, ” his voice was calm, explanatory. “A force inhibitor. Traditionally they needed to be worn over the skin. I had it modified and slimmed down. As long as it ’s there, your powers are useless to you. ”
There's a temptation to step towards her when she falls back into the wall, to help steady her. The knowledge does little to calm the raw edge in her mind. He feels how deeply he has violated her and clenches his fist. She doesn ’t notice. It’s done now, he reminds himself. There’s a reason he needs her to listen. Luke presses further into Kylo, searching for something more. If he finds it or not, she isn’t sure, the memories moving forwards regardless.
“I sense your anger, ” he begins. He needs her to be strong. This is temporary though she doesn’t know that. “Your fear. ”
“Leave me alone, ” she mumbles and he is faced with a small girl no longer the woman who had fought him with such tenacity and power. Like this, he cannot help her and she cannot help him.
“As you wish, ” he replies and steps away but he keeps an eye on her mind. He listens. Waits.
When a week later, her resolve strengthens once again, he is the one to feel hope. He waits. Waits for it to build. He has to be sure before he goes to her.
He has felt her coil against him. She wishes for freedom. He cannot offer her that. Not yet. Instead, he decides to start. Rey is strong in her mind. She will resist him; he knows as he prepares the room to train as he gathers clothing for her. It may take weeks or more before she agrees and he is prepared for it. Snoke has given him a year in not so many words.
She is bitter as she walks, no longer caring for the guns at her back. Her thoughts have been shifting back and forth between those she considers friends. She is slowly coming to understand that she cannot rely on anyone besides herself.
When she exits the refresher, her hair damp and skin holding more life, he has to divert his gaze. To add his own desires, outside of those to survive, into the mix would benefit neither of them. She doesn ’t question or demand but he feels her observe everything. Searching.
When they enter the room he has prepared, her eyes light up as she moves to the window. He feels her regain a piece of herself, strengthen at the reminder there was more than the four walls of her cell. He has little intention of breaking her this time. He needs her whole.
He waits the hour before she turns to him, standing by the door, watching and letting her thoughts merge with his. He could feel guilty about that but she is projecting, mind unused to the loss of her natural shielding.
“Why am I here? ” she demands and this is less about the room and more about how.
“You sent a distress signal. Some of my men responded. It was by chance that I caught their request for additional commands and not someone else, or you would be dead. ”
“And why aren’t I? ” she asks bitingly. She doesn’t understand. Maybe she never will. She doesn’t need to. Not fully. “Isn’t that what you want? ”
“You were the one that attacked me first, remember that. ”
She swallows and he does as well. He thinks of the forest of Takodana and to their first true fight on in the snowy woods of Starkiller. Back then, he did not have plans for what he wished other than something telling him how important she was. How valuable. Now he knows.
“What does the First Order want with me? ”
Slowly, he steps forwards and takes a space glancing out to the stars. He keeps his distance. He doesn’t want to make her afraid. Of him at least. “My master would have me kill you or take you to him where he would break your mind open and forge you anew as a more powerful weapon, ” he turns to face her, sensing how his words gripped her. He feels a surge inside him. Possibility. She’s finally listening. He could tell her everything but she isn’t ready for it yet. Would think it a trick. “Neither option benefit me. ”
She shivers and he wants to tell her it ’s okay but he knows that it isn ’t.
“Why would you defy your master? ”
He straightens apprehension running through him at the mere mention. This room has been cleared already but still he fears. “Do not ask that question if you wish to remain breathing. ”
To his surprise, she listens to him. He lets the edge of caution drop. “Your next question. ”
“What do you want with me? ”
It is the moment he has prepared for and he knows he cannot do this from behind a mask. She doesn ’t trust it. Instead, with ease, he releases the mask, holding it under his arm. The severity of what he was doing weighs on him as he considers her. Her eyes widen as she traces his face, the wound he let heal naturally. She feels Luke surprise.
He has offered her this once before and she had turned him down. He feels the same apprehension as he asks, a second time, “I want to train you. ”
The laugh is fake but her concern is real. “Train what? You stole the force from me, or did you forget? ”
This is why he keeps the transmitter on his belt and he smiles as he reaches around to it. He presses it briefly, waits long enough for her to feel it, to know he has not maimed her irrevocably. It is a precaution. Nothing more.
He closes the channel again and her hands clench. “Why? ”
“I have the power to restore your access to the Force, and to take it away again. If you choose to train with me, I will give you that access back. If not, I will return you to your cell. ”
“Why would you do that? ” he sees her argument. She despises him and everything he stands for. She wants to escape. He’ll let her, once she’s heard him out. She doesn’t need to know that. Forcing her then will benefit neither of them but now she needs to listen. “You know that I hate you. That I would be constantly searching for a way to break free. ”
Her emotions call to him and he knows how to help her draw from them. He knows how to train her. “Good. That anger you feel, that pain, will give you strength. ”
Her mind rebels but he ’s fuelled her mind enough that she ’s searching. Good. Rey sees the decision as it forms.
“And this would be our training space? ”
“Yes, ” he tries to keep his hope low as he continues, “The choice is yours. I don’t expect you to decide immediately – I doubt your morale’s would allow it –“
“I’ll do it, ” the interruption stills him. He has planned for weeks of resistance; her easy agreement unseats him but he recovers quickly. Escape is still at the forefront of her mind and he understands it well.
Slow, he moves to the storage locker and extracts too wooden swords. They were no match to a real lightsabre but would satisfy this purpose. He throws hers backwards, knowing she has caught it, having already released her powers again.
“Then let us begin. ”
They train. Rey watches their skirmishes from a different set of eyes. It's a heady sensation. She’s more than a tool, even then. She feels a bitterness grow around her. He sees her weaknesses and exploits them until she changes, learns. She doesn’t resist him and he hates that it ’s for fear and not out of respect. It matters little. He works with what she gives him. They work as often as his schedule allows. Leaving the ship is hard but he needs information on what the Resistance are doing. He also needs to know what they know about his master.
So far away he has no idea what she is thinking or feeling. When he approaches her room, feels her relief at his return, he buries it. When she asks for more time with her powers, he gives it her. He does not relish her anguish when he severs her connection to the force.
Time speeds up and Rey sees segments. His tests whenever he gave her more freedom. He is always waiting for her to escape and always surprised and pleased when she stays. She feels his admiration and pride, feels his desires growing as she pants beneath him when they spar, when she finally takes his hand as he offers her support.
She sees Ando from his eyes and feels his fear when he sees the explosive as he rips her out of the way. The concern as he checks her injuries, relief when she shakes it off. He gives her more freedom and begins to truly hope.
When he takes her to Drall – her final test – he is nervous. Months of work rests on her choice and he knows she still despises the First Order. When she stands before him, goes to protect the man he is ready to kill, he hates himself for hoping. Of course, she ’d never turn, of course it was foolish to even think.
Her finger against his lip sends shivers through him. “Let me. ”
Two words and he is broken by her. He lets her unable to speak the words and watches her with nothing but amazement. She is soft where he is hard, gentle where he is cruel. The information comes easily to her and when she stands he wants to pull her into him but it isn ’t over yet.
He takes her to the edge of the city where no one is watching. Her enjoyment at the new sight makes him smile but he tampers that back, pulls back from her completely. It needs to be her choice or everything will fail. If she doesn ’t choose him, Snoke will use that against them. Snoke will manipulate her and he will have trained his own death. Might have regardless.
She senses something and turns to him as he squeezes her hand before letting it go. He remembers exactly where he placed the inhibitor. Collects her arm and pushes the fabric back. She’s apprehensive when he pulls out the dagger. “Do you trust me? ”
They are words that he doesn’t want to ask for fear of her response. When she says, “Yes, ” he hesitates.
“This will hurt, ” he tells her softly and wants to apologise but doesn’t. He slices quickly and she gasps in pain, clutching and trying to channel the feeling as he has taught her. He’s proud that she stands it but wants it to end as he collects the tweezers. The inhibitor is just below the skin and he pulls it, the squelch of her blood sickening him.
When the implant is in the air, she turns to him and her eyes are wide. She understands but not completely. He places it in her hand and covers her skin with his flesh. He has never been fond of healing, too close to the light, but he does it for her. There ’s a tiny sliver of white, a minute scar when he ’s done but her focus is on him.
Her legs give out and he catches her, guides her down. He can ’t resist brushing his fingers through her hair. He prefers it like this, wild like they both are. No one should have tried to tame them.
“You are free, ” he tells her as she shivers. “If you wish to leave, I will not stop you. ”
There’s moisture in her humble brown eyes as she asks, “Why? ”
“I cannot keep you, cannot train you as you need if you don’t want to stay. The choice is yours, Rey. ”
“And if I leave, you promise to let me go? ”
Kylo has prepared for this moment but the blow is still painful. He doesn ’t think of it as a waste. His training will help protect her when Snoke comes for her, which he will. Instead of replying, not trusting his voice, he breathes the word into her mind. Yes.
He expects her to stand and walk away without a backwards glance and it’s too much to hope when she doesn ’t.
When she speaks, her voice is firm, her decision made. “You may train me, but we are equals. ”
He nods because he would have always agreed to her terms. She still hates the First Order but he cannot allow himself to believe another reason for her staying. It cannot be for him. “I have never seen you as anything less than. ”
Slowly she stands and he watches her, still waiting for her to vocalise her decision. When she offers her hand to him, he eagerly slides their hands together. The elation is too much and he doesn’t speak as they retreat to their shuttle. When she falls asleep on the return, he watches her for hours. He doesn’t deserve her. It would have been better if she had left but he won ’t convince her of that. He can’t.
The world came back around her and she became aware of the cramp in her legs, the ache from sitting in one position too long. More than that, she was aware of Kylo by her side and she turned to him, ignoring everyone else in the room and wrapped her arms around him. Squeezed.
“You’re an idiot,” she told him, mumbled into his ear. “Of course, it was because of you.”
“I know that now,” his voice was light as he returned the embrace, clinging to her. “I am sorry,” he told her and she felt it rumble in his heart. “If I had known how it would affect you –“
“It’s done,” she silenced and he nodded. It was heady, to have felt his emotions, to understand what drove him. It had been impossible to ignore how he cared, how that grew. She was glad that he had stopped where he had.
A heavy sigh sounded from behind them and they turned as Luke sat up, pulling his legs up and wrapping his hands around them. “It is as she said. Rey was first his prisoner but that changed months ago,” he confirmed to his sister and both were entirely unhappy about it. “But Rey has never accepted the First Order, whatever that is worth. Kylo has always known it and never pushed.”
Leia’s face was twisted unhappily. “We will consider that after.”
Luke considered Kylo carefully. “You can build another?”
He nodded. “I can.”
Luke turned slowly, contemplating his beard with his hand. “A device that is capable of inhibiting the Supreme Leader’s abilities with the Force. The details are withheld from me. Kylo will need to build it.”
“Give me a list of equipment,” Leia ordered, standing.
Luke left after and they had a few minutes alone before they were moved. They spent it simply touching and holding, no words needing to pass between them.
Rey was meditating, as much as she could with the conflicting edges within her. Kylo was being questioned again about something that she didn’t need to be there for. They had settled enough that he no longer feared them stealing her away from him and it meant that she had some time to herself. Time that she hadn’t realised she needed until she had sat down to meditate and felt her own turmoil.
She felt pain, anger, frustration and a voice telling her to simply let it go but to what end? She didn’t want to close herself from emotions and become an unmoving stone like Luke had. There were occasions that she saw flickers of real emotions within him but they were closed and locked away so quickly. To live was to feel pain and fear and anguish but also joy and love.
Rey wouldn’t trade the latter two for anything else in the universe.
Still, there was something to be said about simply sitting and letting the world pass around her. The apprehension from being apart from Kylo may have been gone, lessened noticeably by the fact she could feel his presence in the building, but she was still anxious. She felt confident to sit and meditate in the training room from before. There were guards at the door to watch her, other than that she had been left alone and she wondered why she was being allowed but didn’t ask.
Time flowed around her. Trepidations and concerns about their mission slowly twisted and changed shape and for that brief time there was no weight on her shoulders. Rey was scared. Attacking Snoke on his own terms was suicidal but if they didn’t try her life would be forfeit alongside Kylo’s; it might be either way. She needed the silence to just let that go before it could crush her.
It was unsurprisingly but still infuriating when the door opened and her peace was destroyed. Rey kept her position as footsteps drew near her, only relinquishing the tight line of her back and slouching to glare at the intruder.
“If you’re here to lecture me,” she began uncrossing her arms and considering if he would let her simply go back to her room or not, “You can save your breath.”
“I am more interested in saving you,” Luke’s voice was off. Not stoic and cold like when he had instructed her last but earnest in a way that stilled her actions.
“I don’t need to be saved.”
“Maybe not yet,” he told her plainly in that authoritative way which reminded her of his decades of experience. “But a time will come where you will. I have seen it. Like I see the darkness within you. You keep it back, controlled, but it’s there. As long as you hold onto it – it will call out to you. As long as you remain on this path, you will fail.”
“We all have darkness inside of us, Luke,” she retorted because it was true. Every human being feared and became angry. That in itself was the darkness. The Force was a tool to be moulded and wielded; her powers weren’t light or dark. It was what she did with them that were considered as such.
“Some more than others,” he drawled. “My nephew has it in him. I saw it and aimed to nurture it to the light when he was a boy.”
“Then you didn’t do a very good job.”
“Perhaps not. I have spent many hours meditating on it. What if I had kept him closer? What if I had isolated him when I saw the darkness grow not recede? What if I had never taken him as an apprentice? In the end, it was his choice. Snoke was in his mind, polluting, manipulating, encouraging but it was my nephew who lifted his blade against those he had called friends and cut them down.”
“He was a boy,” Rey defended and she didn’t know why save the anger that she felt at this man trying to pass the blame on.
“He knew the consequences of his actions well enough, Rey.”
“He was misled! Promised things, everything he could have ever wanted. Tempted and groomed for it. How did you not see Snoke in the shadows?” she demanded standing and glowering, regardless of the fact he was taller than her.
“And what if he were promised those things again? Then what? Do you think you could stop him? Eliminating Snoke won’t destroy the First Order. Everything will be there only now he’ll be able to take it all for himself. Will you rule beside him as his Empress?”
Rey’s eyes narrowed and her fists clenched and she was angry. She was so angry because she couldn’t see the lie. The missions that she had been on by his side, and the lives she had taken, had been justified. They shot first. The information was vital. If she didn’t take that person down, one of her men would die. What would it be after? What would happen when Snoke was gone? Could she still do it?
“I can’t leave him. I won’t leave him. I’ll stand by his side regardless.”
“So you think you can live with the endless slaughter? With the evil inside him? I know that I can’t,” he shook his head. “I see the darkness, Rey, but I also see the good. You can save him. You’re the only one who can,” Luke stepped forwards and gripped her shoulders, squeezed them. “And if you can’t save him, you are the only one who can stop him for good.”
“I will not kill him,” she yanked herself free and didn’t care for finesse when she shoved him in the chest hard. He didn’t waver, letting her anger bounce off of him. “How dare you? You failed and come to me to fix your mistake. I won’t do it,” she hissed. “How can you even ask that? He’s your nephew! Why not try to save him?”
“Even I know there are some battles I cannot win,” Luke didn’t react. Resentment raged just under her skin. “Let me ask you this final thing. What will you do if he is killed?”
Her blood roared at the idea and her chest burned, pain making it hard to breathe as she narrowed her gaze, trying to make out if it were a threat. “Whoever did it would pay with their lives.”
“Some would consider that a fair trade to rid the world of such an evil.”
It was too much. She felt vulnerable and wide open but he was still the same unmoving statue. “I love him.” It was a statement and a defence, for what she wasn’t sure, but the look in his eyes only shifted to pity.
“My mother died for the love of her husband and my father killed her trying to protect her. Love is not your friend. Not like this.”
“I won’t ever leave him. I don’t care what happens, I can’t.”
“Then may the weight of his killings sit on your shoulders as well.”
Luke left the room in silence and all Rey could do was stare at the spot he had just vacated.
Kylo had returned to their shared accommodation before she had. It wasn’t explicitly stated but Rey felt as though there were more eyes upon him than on her, more guns at his back than hers. He was sat on the table, a pile of equipment before him, tinkering. Rey knew what he was doing and screwed her nose up at the sight of it.
The equipment had arrived three days ago and half of it still sat in the box. Some didn’t even have a use save to confuse the Resistance if they ever tried to make such a device. Rey refused to ask how it was created.
He stilled when she entered, lowering the screwdriver in his hand.
“Skywalker spoke to you.”
Not a question.
“He did. Tried to convince me to swap sides. So much for their word to leave me be. Apparently he aims to save me.”
For one moment, Kylo froze, fear in his eyes deep enough to burn under her skin only for it to be gone with an exhale, his face once more a neutral, mask, “It’s to be expected. Together we are more powerful than they can handle. Apart we would destroy each other.”
Her lip quirked but she still felt strange inside. Luke’s words played on her, toyed with her, and she wanted it all to stop. She closed her eyes to breathe and try and clear her head, opening them when his finger hooked under her chin to lift it, and his arm travelled around her waist, securing her against him.
“Tell me,” the words weren’t an order but a quiet plea.
She dropped her head onto his chest and for minutes they remained like that; holding and being held. “I won’t ever leave you,” she promised him and felt the slightest reduction in the tension keeping his body taut.
“And I’ll never leave you.”
“And if – if you,” her voice caught with the mere idea of saying it, chest tightening uncomfortably as his hands worked to soothe her. “I swear, Kylo, if you die –“ she had to stop because her throat constricted. “I’ll never forgive you.”
He squeezed her tightly but lifted her chin, forced her eyes to his. “What did he say to you?”
“It doesn’t matter,” she insisted with a shake of her head, focusing on taking in deep breaths. “Just – don’t do anything stupid when we go after him, alright?”
“Rey,” his voice was placating, warm and she clung to it. “I hadn’t cared about my own life in a long time. Even when I first brought you to the Finalizer – as long as Snoke died, I didn’t care. But now I have you, I can’t let you go. We’re here because I need you to survive and I need to survive alongside you. To live. To have this. Whatever disagreements I have with the General she’s good at making the impossible possible.”
She leant up and merged their lips, letting the well of emotions that she’d been fighting back so well escape when he clutched at her. The kisses were messy, a little uncoordinated but she didn’t care because he was there and alive and for all Luke might have threatened the greater good, none of that mattered when he was there. Rey was never giving this up and damn anyone who tried to stop her.
Rey gasped when he lifted her, pushing her back into the nearest wall and her hands started clawing at his clothing. The feel of them was off, still strange to be in alliance colours. The change threw her movements but didn’t slow her as she yearned to feel his skin against hers.
He was equally as eager and it was only a minute before he was surging into her as she clutched to his back. It didn’t matter that there was a guard at the door as the loud keening sound tore through her throat. His hands clutched her thighs to hold her against the wall and the angle was fantastic but more so the feeling of it being him and him pushing at her everything he felt, how much he would do for her.
It wasn’t long before she was cresting, crying out his name.
He didn’t last much longer and she shivered at the feel of him pulsing inside her, his forehead pressed against her shoulder, both of their chests panting. Slowly, she lowered her legs shakily and he took to the task of removing her clothes properly, not just shoving them out of the way before guiding her down to the bed.
Her heart was pounding as she positioned herself leaning on his chest, staring into his eyes as he held his face up with an arm, the other wrapped around her body.
“I hit him,” she murmured and his chuckle made her smile, bringing back the joy with the love.
“No doubt deservedly. Probably the first time in his life anyone has. Everyone else is too busy staring at him in revered awe.” Rey’s brow furrowed and Kylo leant up to kiss it smooth. “I think,” he began, finger teasing up and down her spine. “I would have liked to see it.”
Her nose twitched in amusement before she exhaled. “I was angry. I probably shouldn’t have.”
Kylo made a small noise of disagreement. “He isn’t your master anymore, Rey. He has spent so long with people clinging to his every word he forgets what it is to feel. You no doubt reminded him. Jedi are not so above as they would have others believe.”
“I remember the first time he told me the Jedi code, ‘There is no emotion, there is peace’.” She furrowed her brow. “How can that be? I don’t want to live like that. I never wanted to live like that.”
“Maybe I saved you then,” he was smirking, mirth in his eyes. “From a life of misery and loneliness.”
She chuckled back and rolled onto him. She felt lighter. It was easier by his side but as the sound died and she met his eyes, she felt the twist. That fear that had threatened to crush her only moments ago. When she spoke her voice was low and serious. “We’re going to win. And whatever happens after we do it together.”
“I have a few ideas about that already,” he murmured but before she could push he’d sent the room into darkness, blocking her from seeing his expression. Rey settled her head against his chest to listen to the steady thrum of his heart, and pulled the covers up and over them. “You can come to the meeting tomorrow, if you don’t want another run in with Skywalker.”
She snuffed a noise and snuggled closer to him. “I’d rather chance it. That Admiral – Ackbar? Stares at me.”
His tone was amused. “Sleep, Rey.”
It was still relatively early but she felt exhausted as if she’d run circuits around the base. She closed her eyes and let herself fall into the idea of sitting somewhere entirely new with Kylo at her side and deciding, together, what they were going to do next.
Kylo left early when the guards came to escort him to the meeting room. From what he told her most of the day was him answering questions about the First Order; bases, capabilities, fleet numbers, and a relatively small portion dedicated to the Supreme leader. It was drawing closer. They weren’t ready yet and were still within the three-week window they’d given themselves on the Finalizer. The Resistance wouldn’t be ready for at least another month. It agitated her because all this information could change; their entire plan could be derailed if Snoke figured out they were coming for him.
Rey was glad that they were on a secluded base – they weren’t even allowed to know the name of the planet. There were only a handful of personnel who left the surface and that severely reduced the chances of anyone in the First Order finding out what they were up to. She should have been able to relax in the base but she was constantly on edge, more so when Kylo was elsewhere and after her conversation with Luke.
The table was occupied by the inhibitor that Kylo was building and she avoided it, instead sitting in the shell of the bottom bunk of the bed, pulling her knees up to her chest. She didn’t want to be here or on the Finalizer or back on Jakku. She didn’t know where she wanted to be apart from beside Kylo and she had no idea how that would work after they fought Snoke. Provided they actually won, she doubted severely that the Resistance would just let them go if that’s what they wanted to do.
They’d only spoken about it once. Rey was nervous.
When her door opened without being knocked on, she glowered to the floor. She found herself in a mood to contemplate and did not want that disturbed. It was far too early for Kylo never mind that she could feel him half-way across the base. She supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised by the visitor.
“General Organa,” Rey greeted and sat forwards on the bed.
Leia considered the room, lifting her nose up as she glanced around. Rey didn’t even want to consider what she was thinking about her and Kylo and everything else. Sometimes it was easy to forget that she was his mother. That day was no such day.
Eventually she settled, pulling one of the chairs from the desk around and sitting close to the door, the width of the room between them.
“I don’t like it,” Leia told her plainly and she knew exactly what they were talking about. “Honestly, you deserve better than him.”
Rey bit her lip. She wondered if Leia had any idea how much Kylo was like her. “If I followed Luke’s rules, I wouldn’t have had anyone.”
Leia rolled her shoulders. “There are too few of you to stick to the old ways. Luke knows that, but I’m not here to argue with you. Luke wants to save you, Finn misses you and Poe is angry that you can stand to be in the same room as Kylo. I want to save my son.”
“Calm down, I’m not about to lecture you. I know that trying to separate you two won’t benefit any of us. As far as I’m concerned, for however long you are here working against the First Order, you can stay together.”
It seemed that was what everyone was caught up with.
Leia held her gaze and repeated herself, “However long you are here working against the First Order, you can stay together.”
Rey dropped her head forwards. She knew how she felt but she had to ask, “How can you forgive him?”
“I’m not sure I can,” Leia replied truthfully. “But he will always be my son.”
There was a cacophony of feelings inside her head. Rey didn’t regret that it ended up the way that it did but that didn’t mean she was happy with how some things went down. “I didn’t mean to do this,” she told Leia, admitted out loud for the first time.
“And I never intended to have you locked in one of my cells,” Leia returned crossing her arms over the chest. Even in the mess of their room with equipment filling the table to her side and a bed half-made on the floor she looked entirely at ease and in control. As if none of this fazed her. “Although I didn’t expect to have my son come to me for help either.”
Rey didn’t know what to say to that. It was hardly like she had brought him home. They were here with a purpose and after? She had no idea about that. Leia considered the room and briefly glanced at the pile of equipment at the side. “How is it coming along?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “I don’t want to touch it.”
“Luke told me about the chip. Sounds horrible.”
“The worst part was that I could still feel the Force I just had no control over it.”
Leia hummed. “How about you work on something else for me?”
Rey’s eyebrows shot up.
“I don’t like waste and leaving you in here when there’re perfectly good ships that need fixing is exactly that. You’ll have a supervisor to report to. And I could issue a multitude of threats but we both know if you wanted to leave you’d be gone.”
Rey inclined her head, to both parts. Leia stood but Rey wasn’t sure if she was about to come forwards or step backwards. “Luke wishes to speak to you.”
“I – I don’t really want to talk to him.”
“Understandable. I heard your last conversation got heated,” Leia moved towards her and collected her hands together. “Did Luke ever tell you how he defeated the Emperor?”
Rey shook her head.
“He didn’t. Our father did. Darth Vader turned his back on two decades of darkness to save his son. In the end, it has to be their decision to step back from the darkness. All we can do is help guide the way.”
Silence followed her words and Rey was conflicted by it. She didn’t like how easily Kylo killed people or how the anger always threatened to overcome him but she didn’t want to lose him. There wasn’t a situation where Kylo could come away from all of this a free man and they both knew it. Whatever Leia was offering might just be the best of a bad situation.
“I can have things set up for tomorrow.”
Rey considered what it would mean. There was a lot of time here where she had nothing to do save sit in a cell or meditate. It felt a little too much like settling.
Maybe having people around her wouldn’t be the worst thing. Not when her mind had startled to spiral. When the threat from Snoke came closer and closer. The idea of facing him still chilled her especially when she knew that it could so easily end in their deaths. Visions of the future sounded so much like myths but she could not deny the Force. Luke had seen something and showed it to Kylo. It had been powerful enough to stir both men into action. It made her think.
“Has Luke had any more visions?”
Leia shook her head. “Viewing the future through the Force is tricky and clouded by the dark side,” at Rey’s rejected look, she added, “Time will tell.”
At that Leia left and Rey considered her room and how she had ended up here. She felt conflicted, caught between two Forces, a piece of her on each side. After it took four more hours before Kylo returned frustrated at the day’s events, she decided what she was going to do.
Guards collected her not long after Kylo had been called upon for his interrogation. They may not have needed his knowledge on Snoke that day but the Resistance were wasting no time milking other information whilst he was being so accommodating. This hangar was smaller than those she was used to but it was still a sizeable room brimming with spare parts and equipment enough to feed her for a year on Jakku.
She was anticipating getting back to something real right until she was stopped before a familiar pilot. She’d only seen him a few times in meetings and spoken even less. He seemed noticeably less frustrated to spot her then than before. Maybe it was the lack of a certain Knight of Ren.
“Rey,” Poe greeted straightening from under the X-wing he’d been working on. The familiar orange-and-white droid rolling up beside him.
“Poe,” she returned before smiling down at the droid. “BB-8.”
“Seems like I’m going to be your supervisor. Grab a wrench and get going. The X-wing behind me has an engine malfunction I can’t trace.”
Like that, he turned and dismissed her. The guard that had brought her was already walking away and Rey felt a little lost. Steadily, she went to a tool box and collected a selection of tools and headed under the X-wing and got to work.
She stayed in mostly silence for the first few hours, only commenting on what she found or responding to what he had as they worked together on the ship. There was a busted power converter that she had to replace before realising the network of fuel cells valves were leaking and she got to work on that.
Her arms were straining and she was covered in grease and dirt but it felt good to be useful. There had been a lot of downtime on the Finalizer where she’d felt useless. Rey was too used to needing to be active, to keep going to stay alive.
Eventually, Poe sidled up to her, passing her tools as he watched her change what would hopefully be the last cell. “What’s it like banging the bad guy?”
Rey dropped the tool in her hand. It clanked loudly and she blushed profusely as he handed it back to her, eyes entirely serious.
“What kind of question is that?”
“It was that or ‘how the hell are you able to stay in the same room as that murdering bastard’. This one seemed more neutral.”
She wanted to deny that he was a bad guy but knew that wouldn’t get her anywhere. Not when it was mostly the truth. “He gave up everything to work with the Resistance.”
“For you?” Poe drawled. “Seems intense. Sure he didn’t just want to ensure he lives so he has a mantle to step into?”
“Because the First Order would just accept him back after spending all this time with the Resistance telling them everything he knows,” she scoffed and he shrugged.
“Weirder things have happened,” his eyes travelled over her as he crossed his arms. “Like this.”
Rey wanted to cover her face with her hands but compared to most reactions, it was relatively mild. “I don’t know what you want to hear, Poe.”
The pilot shook his head. “Sorry. I just can’t honestly believe that you chose Kylo Ren. He murdered his own father, he tortured you – and trust me, I know how that goes. That’s not someone you fall in love with.”
“He’s not a monster.”
“I am not going to argue with you on that point,” Poe told her plainly. “Just – be careful. He’s killed mercilessly before. If you’re telling me you trust him, in my mind that means one of two things. Either you’re just a love-struck gal who can’t see straight,” his glare became piercing. “Or he’s changed. At least a little bit.”
“I trust him with my life. Just maybe not with yours.”
Poe smirked at that but his eyes were still cautious. Rey turned from them and focused on finishing up. “Be careful. I don’t want to see you dead or at the end of my blaster.”
“That’s more acceptance than I usually get.”
Poe shrugged and helped her slide the panel back on, tightening the bolts on one side. “I’d say it’s no one’s business who you’re fucking but I think it’s better to say – this is the closest we’ve been able to get to him for years. Maybe we have a shot at turning him back around,” he glanced at her. “Or something.”
Rey had no words for him, rotating back to the vehicle. When they were done, he stood back from the ship, tested the ignition as she watched. It took a few minutes before he went through the check-list and demeaned the fix a success, coming to rest where she had been observing him.
She knew what she wanted to ask but the words refused to leave her mind, instead she settled for saying, “Look after Finn for me. I don’t want to hurt him.”
Poe nodded, eyes dead ahead at the ship they’d just repaired. “If there were any clue at all that the First Order had taken you, we would have come for you.”
“What about after?”
“After you saw me. Realised I was with him. Why didn’t you try anything after that?”
“Luke refused,” Poe told her and the words hit home harder than she’d have expected. “Said that if you’d turned to the dark side, we’d just be wasting lives. It took Finn a long time to get the go ahead for Nishr.”
Silence descended over them as people came and went. A bang on the far side of the room made her jump and Poe chuckle. It was a friendlier reception than she could have hoped for from someone who had more reason than most to hate Kylo.
“Do you think it’ll make a difference?” Rey asked and it was mostly just thinking out loud. All of this, dealing with the Resistance, seeing betrayal in her friend’s eyes, Kylo turning himself over to his enemies, was done to change one set of events. A set of events she wasn’t even certain it was possible to change. “Or are we just throwing away lives?”
“That depends on you guys. Do you know how it went down? Was it more firepower you needed or more time?”
Rey shook her head. She didn’t know anything except that the results were not particularly favourable for her.
“Bah, I don’t like this second-guessing. Get going. And good job today. I could use more mechanics like you.”
Rey managed the faintest of smiles before heading back. For most of the afternoon, with the hustle and bustle of the hangar, she had been able to forget the truth. With the gun at her back as she was walked into a small door with a multitude of codes and access keys to get to, the reminder was stark. As Rey entered her cell and headed towards the refresher, she had a lot of things on her mind.
It was quiet. Rey was supposed to be asleep but she couldn’t. Her mind was whirring with what Luke and Leia had said to her, with what Kylo had, with how they had ended up back here. Rey had been a prisoner before; on Jakku, even if she wasn’t in a cell, on Starkiller, on the Finalizer, but she never expected to be a prisoner of the Resistance. Sometimes it didn’t feel like it but it was weighing on her.
Kylo would never have come here willingly if not for that vision of Luke’s and it was killing her. It had showed them both dying but there was more to it than that. She sensed something deeper, strong enough to spur Luke to contact them and for Kylo to listen. Careful not to wake Kylo, she got out of the bed. She needed to focus and meditate but the prospect of sitting and trying to do so didn’t appeal.
Instead she walked to the cell door and glanced through the small window, clutching arms tightly around her chest. There were a few soldiers at the far end of the corridor and she hated this feeling of being trapped again. It would take very little effort for her to escape.
“We’re here for a reason,” the groggy voice called out to her and she startled, turning to glance at him. The room was dark, the only light streaming in from the corridor was blocked by her body but she could make out the shape of him as he sat up, leaning on one arm, rubbing his hand over his face. “Leaving now will benefit us little.”
“I hate feeling trapped.”
“I know,” he exhaled and stood. His body was warm as he wrapped his arms around her. Whatever this was for her was worse for him. She left the Resistance months ago, he had turned his back on them years ago. Her crimes were nothing compared to his. There were people here who still sought to turn her away from him but he was considered too far gone. Rey disagreed. He was not the uncaring monster of death and destruction that they painted him as.
“If we stay here, we’ll always be trapped, won’t we? Sealed in behind a locked door.”
“It seems likely, doesn’t it?”
She let out a deep exhale. They’d spoken about it earlier that evening but they were still undecided on their path. More so her than him. Although that wasn’t what was keeping her awake this evening.
“Talk to me.”
She leant into his hand against her face, kissed his palm. “You saw Luke’s vision, didn’t you?”
He stiffened immediately. “Rey –“
“I need to see it,” she insisted, sliding her hands along his chest.
“You know what happens. We both die,” he swallowed hard, running his fingers into her hair, pulling her into his chest. “You don’t need to see how.”
The room filled with apprehension and fear, she tasted it and gasped from the strength of it. “I don’t think I can live through that again,” he whispered and the emotion behind her hit her at the back of her throat.
Her breath hitched. “Please.”
Silence descended between them. Rey didn’t push further just waited for him to decide. One hand stroked through her hair, the other tracing patterns along her spine as she just clutched to his chest, felt the beat quicken beneath her fingers. When he withdrew, he collected her hand and guided her back to bed.
She let him position her between his legs, his hands joining with hers and resting over her stomach, a kiss placed against the crown of her head. “It’s just a vision,” he murmured and she didn’t know if he was reassuring himself or her but she nodded anyway. “Close your eyes.”
They’d done this so many times that as her eyes closed on the darkness of their cell, she slipped into his mind, opening to the sight of him standing before her. He didn’t look happy.
“You don’t have to do this,” he reminded her as she stepped forwards to picked up his hand.
“I need to know.”
Before it had been enough to know but there was something clawing within her. A need to know more. To understand the motives of those around her.
“It’s not going to happen,” he promised her. “That’s why we’re here and not on the Finalizer.”
“I still – I still need to know.”
“It won’t be like the other things I’ve shown you,” he warned her as he stepped through his mind, guided her. “Visions are … less coherent. Flashes.”
He stilled before a door that hurt to look at. It was more heavily padlocked and hidden than the one which held his secret his renouncing of Snoke. She felt his pain as he stepped towards it, felt his step falter as it began to open. All she could do, was hold his hand as they were sucked into it.
Bodies. Blood. The floor uneven.
Three lightsabres collide. Two work in tandem; a team in every sense of the word. Strike. Defend. Strike. Defend. There ’s blood streaming down her arm and Kylo stumbles every other step.
Snoke is laughing, encouraging.
Time shifts and they ’re on opposite sides of the room, Snoke galling them, “Good. Good. ”
They try to move but it ’s impossible. He ’s trapped them and they ’re both fighting their own battles to break his hold and its Rey he steps towards. “I expected one of you but both is better. ”
“Get away from her! ” Kylo hisses and manages to pull free a step before Snoke turns to him and he ’s thrown to the wall again, breath pushed out from him. There ’s a sick sound of something cracking.
“Kylo! ” she shouts but she can ’t make him out in the darkness.
Rey feel sick when Snoke ’s hand caresses her face, picks her chin up, forces her to meet his gaze. “So you are the girl who has subverted my apprentice. ”
Rey breaks his hold but keeps still, ready to attack. “But she hasn ’t embraced the darkness. Pity. ”
A cry breaks through her and her eyes wince shut, Rey feels a ricochet of the pain and knows it ’s nothing compared to the real thing. She crumples to her knees as Snoke reignites his blade. Kylo is moving, he ’s almost there but the blade is at her throat.
“Another move and she dies, ” Snoke taunts, holding her hostage, sounding almost bored. Rey feels her resolve strengthen. “Your plan was ambitious. More than I thought you capable of. It failed. ”
“You will submit to me, Master of the Knights of Ren. I will keep your pet here with me and you will learn your place. ”
“No! ” Rey shouts and turns to Kylo beseechingly when his hand wavers and he considers. “Don ’t do it. I won ’t be a prisoner again, Kylo. ”
Snoke ’s free hand slides into her hair and he drags her before him, his blade hovering over her neck, the hiss of it sickening and she ’s terrified but she won ’t let him do this. “I will break her, Kylo. She will serve you. Follow your every desire. Drop your weapon. ”
“No, ” she ’s begging, and there ’s liquid streaming down her cheeks from pain and everything else. “Don ’t. Please. ”
Kylo ’s grip strengthens on his blade and he takes another step. “I don ’t want a slave. ”
Snoke laughs. The noise is terrifying, booming as it fills the room. “Determined and stupid. Some things never change. ”
Rey tries not to scream as Snoke draws his sabre down the side of her cheek, spluttering noises whilst trying not to move, trying desperately not to make it worse. “Now you match, ” Snoke declares and her legs threaten to buckles. Kylo seethes with rage but he doesn ’t move, doesn ’t step any closer. “This is your last warning, your last chance to save the life of the woman you love …” Snoke ’s grin turns to a wicked smirk, “And the child she carries. ”
The room is silent save their breathing as Kylo ’s mind whirs.
“No, ” he mutters but he ’s breaking and she sees it. “That ’s not possible, ”
“Oh it is, ” Snoke forces her to stand, moves his hand down to her stomach, keeping her in place by the blade at her neck. It crackles and hisses similarly to Kylo ’s. His hand is heavy and pointed as it rests over her abdomen. “Can you not sense it Master of the Knights of Ren? Search out you ’re your mind, you know it ’s true. Submit and save her. Save them. ”
Rey watches and feels herself die inside. She won ’t let him do it. Kylo ’s hand opens to drop his blade but she ’s faster. There ’s no blood when it happens.
The blade leaves his hand and flies to hers. Buries within her.
The cry that fills the cabin is not hers.
The vision shifts and Snoke is dead. Kylo crawls to her, clutching his side. Her vision is clouding and he cradles her head. “Why? ” he gasps and it ’s a sob, trapping his hand over the gaping wound to no avail.
“Now we ’re free. ”
There were tears on her face when she came back to her own body and his arms are wrapped tightly around her, his forehead pressed into her shoulder. There weren’t words for how she felt. For an immeasurable amount of time they both simply sat like that and she tried to process what she saw. What Snoke had said.
His hand was pressed tightly on her stomach, covering the spot where she had been impaled. She tasted blood and had to swallow. “What Snoke said –” she didn’t know how to finish that sentence.
“I don’t know,” he answered anyway.
“The implant,” she was struggling and he kissed her shoulder.
“I know. I don’t sense anything,” he exhaled. “Maybe it happened later. Maybe it won’t happen now. I don’t know.”
“We would have stopped Snoke,” her mind was too sluggish at processing things, jumping too quickly from one memory to the next.
“It wasn’t worth the cost,” he insisted and she turned. Kylo pulled his legs up and cradled her against his chest, her legs settling on either side of his hips. “How could you?” he asked and she caught his face in her hands.
“I won’t ever work for him or be his prisoner,” she vowed. It wasn’t her in the vision. Not completely but she knew her reasoning all the same, felt the actions as her own. “And I couldn’t let you go back to him.”
“I would have found a way to save you.”
“I would rather die than us be his prisoner,” she whispered and his eyes were wide and pained. “I am sorry.”
It took a minute for him to respond, a gust of air leaving his lung as he pressed their foreheads together. “There’s a lot of things that I could live with,” he eventually admitted. “But the thought of losing you isn’t one of them. I knew that you would always sacrifice yourself. You forced my hand to come here.”
She chuckled and it was strained, breaking at the end into a gasp. “He was so powerful,” she mumbled and it terrified her. They hadn’t seen everything but the sheer unrelenting weight of the Force when he yielded it – she still felt herself crushed beneath it.
“It won’t be the same,” he promised her but the word was uncertain. They had no idea how bringing the Resistance into this would change the outcome. There had already been other bodies in the room.
“Knights of Ren,” Kylo informed her and she didn’t care how he knew. There were no shields between them. “Given the context –Snoke used them against us.”
“So, can we expect that this time?”
Kylo nodded. “This vision has uses but – we cannot rely on it. The whole point was to change it.”
“Why did Luke tell us?” she asked burying herself into his chest, feeling his heart beat against her cheek. “For the Resistance – it was a win. The Supreme leader and his protégé dead. It solved a lot of problems.”
Resting his chin on her head, he exhaled deeply. “I don’t know.”
“Maybe,” she spoke cautiously but she wasn’t afraid of Kylo. He wouldn’t ever hurt her. “Maybe he didn’t want to lose his nephew.”
A grunt left his throat. “Or maybe he didn’t wish to lose his latest apprentice. It’s you he still thinks he can save.”
Rey shivered and Kylo pulled the blanket over them, neither of them wanting to disentangle. It was still too raw. She understood completely why he had clutched at her on the Finalizer after Luke had shown him this.
“I love you,” she told him as she closed her eyes.
“I love you,” he reciprocated and the hand on her spine hesitated, a shaky breathing coming before what followed. “And I – I will always protect our family.”
Rey felt her heart swell and fresh tears brim at her lips as he settled them more comfortably on the mattress. She had no idea what time it was or how much longer they would have like that. It didn’t matter. Kylo held her tightly and when the sobs bubbled from her chest as the silence descended, he simply held her through it.
It didn’t get any easier for either of them to deal with Luke.
Kylo would tolerate sparring and occasionally manage to move through forms guided by the Jedi but meditation or even conversation were out of the question. The anger that was always there but usually contained crackled and spat fire whenever he was close to his old master. Rey wondered what had happened to make him so resentful. She knew he felt betrayed but there was something else, something deeper.
It was something they didn’t talk about. There were a lot of things that they didn’t talk about. There were no secrets between them and she knew if she asked that he would try but she also felt how damn reluctant he was to talk about it. Even mentioning Luke or Leia often had him closing off from her.
They were in their room and they were both tired. Rey had done some work in the hangar before her training session with Luke and Kylo which had ended fantastically with Kylo storming away from them only to be halted at the door by guards with blasters. It was the closest she had ever seen him to wrenching the weapons clear out of their owner’s hands and he barely refrained. A backwards glance to her all that stopped him from flying into a fit of rage.
Hours later and he was only just starting to calm, tinkering with the chip. It wasn’t finished but it was close. He alternated between work on that and on modifying a blaster. The Resistance had removed the components that would make it functional as a true weapon. Instead it served merely as a ranged syringe.
She watched him for half an hour from the bed before standing and coming to rest behind him, wrapping her arms around him from behind. The tense line of his back held for a minute as she placed kisses on the nape of his neck.
Eventually, he began to relax, hasty movements slowing putting the tools he held down to collect her hands. He paused, turning her left hand over and she winced.
“I burnt myself on an engine,” the skin was a little red but she’d thrown some bacta on it. Kylo gently brought it to his lips and kissed it. She closed her eyes and leant further into him, letting his body support hers. Slowly, he pulled her around so that she was sat in his lap. She slid her sleeve up knowing it would save questions later to reveal the raw skin. “A mild electric shock from the console.”
Kylo let out a breath through his nose. “Anything else?”
“I walked into the tool box, I’m fairly certain it will bruise.”
“You need to be more careful.”
She snorted. “It’s hardly like the time I electrocuted myself on that shield generator on Serenno. Or when I got blasted by that grenade on Ando or concussed on Nishr.”
Kylo groaned and pulled her tighter into his embrace. “Stop before I take you away somewhere well away from any danger. I won’t lose you Those reminders do not help ease my mind about what will happen when we go against Snoke.”
“Oh, because I’m the one who isn’t careful. Tell me, Kylo, how many times have you taken a shot here?” she asked, poking his rib and he caught her wrist before she could press down too harshly.
“Just –“ he exhaled and shook his head, loose strands framing his face as she looked into the warmth of his eyes. “If we do all this and you don’t make it out –“
“It’s just a small burn,” she soothed taking his face and kissing his lips. Kylo captured her, sliding his hand into her hair to keep her there as he lengthened it. She made no protest as he turned her so that her legs were straddling his, slid his hands under her clothes so that they pressed directly into her flesh.
She broke the kiss, panting, breathing onto his lips, “There’s a bed right behind us.”
He smirked and lifted her onto the table instead, scattering components.
Rey let herself be pulled under.
“Have you spoken to General Organa lately?” Rey asked as she ran a towel through her hair. He was finishing off in the refresher and there was never a good time to talk about this but his mood was always noticeably improved after sex.
Kylo’s response was still gruff. “Why would I?”
“She came to see me,” she admitted. The conversation had been skimmed over that evening after. Rey mentioned they’d spoken but not that Leia had specifically come to their cell again. “I thought she might wish to talk to you too.”
“What could she have to say to me?” the words were angered but not at her.
“She is your mother.”
“Rey,” his tone was frustrated and slightly pleading.
“You should talk to her.”
“Why? There is nothing we could discuss.”
She raised her brow and crossed her arms. “Pretend all you want but she’ll always be your mother. I wish I knew mine.”
It was a subtle reminder of their familiar differences to calm him but it didn’t work.
“Her son died years ago.”
Rey hated that logic. She knew that was what he had told Han too before. People changed but that didn’t mean they stopped being who they were before. Not completely.
“Well clearly she doesn’t think so or we wouldn’t be here now. Instead we’d be dead in some desolate temple.”
Kylo clenched his fists together.
“If we somehow make it out of this alive, you’ll owe that to her.”
“What do you want from me?”
His voice was pained and very tempered. She was treading on ice, the good mood from before gone. His eyes were dark, lost. Carefully she stepped towards him, collecting his hands They were too tightly clenched for her to thread hers through so she took one and raised it to her lips, kissed it.
“Just tell her your sorry about what happened with Han. It’s the truth and the least she deserves.”
He dropped his head against hers and his body was vibrating.
“To what end? To install within her false hope? Ben Solo is dead and gone and not coming back. I will never be that naïve boy again. If that’s what she or you want -”
“I don’t want Ben Solo,” she told him, holding his hand to her chest. “I love Kylo Ren.”
“Because Han didn’t die for nothing and she should know that.”
“Would it be any consolation for you if for some reason, I had died, but at least it wasn’t for nothing?”
She bit her lip. It wouldn’t. “It broke you free of Snoke’s control. Let her have that.”
Kylo sighed heavily and wrapped his arms around her chest. “I will consider it.”
The room felt heavy after such a conversation, too quiet. She listened to his breathing, felt the beat of his heart against her chest. It wouldn’t be long now. Soon, this bizarre peace that they had achieved would be shattered one way or another. Even the thought of Snoke terrified her, let alone the memories of how it might happen. She still had questions but neither of them had answers.
Whatever happened with Snoke would change them. Change this. Rey just hoped they were prepared enough. For Snoke and for what followed after.
Kylo could not abide these meetings. He had never been able to stand them even when he was on the Finalizer. At least then he had the power to overwrite annoying underlings and punish their ineptitude. Now, when he was forced to repeat himself for the umpteenth time, all he was allowed to do was spit out through gritted teeth that they had been through this already.
Their response was always the same, “One more time.”
At first he believed that it was some kind of game. That they would make him repeat himself again and again to see if they could catch him out in a lie. There were plenty of people in this room alone that would love a reason to discredit him or see their mission declared too high risk and instead throw him into a cell and keep him there until they were all dead. Now he knew that they were just that inept.
The datapads changed hands often, new faces with new questions. He had no idea how classified this information was but it seemed information was not shared particularly well. Some days were better than others; today, for example, he had only had to repeat the fleets capabilities three times.
There were other reasons he hated being trapped in the four walls made to sit and talk and listen to their drivel; Rey. For however long he was here, she was elsewhere. He did not like that she had started working in the hangar bay nor how far away it was from his current holding. The distance would not stop him if he needed to get to her but it would certainly slow him down significantly.
More still, he did not like leaving her to the Resistance. It had been her choice to join him and to stay but he still held doubts. Doubts that he could not voice. He trusted her completely but he did not trust those around them. There were things that they had not discussed since that night he had shown her the vision and the thoughts lurked in his mind nonetheless.
Snoke might well have been lying, a last attempt to turn Kylo back to him but it had not felt that way. He had watched her closely since he had first seen the vision but there had been nothing. Luke had seen the vision too, he knew, and Kylo hated it. Hated him for what had happened. Rey was his and he was hers and Skywalker had no place in that. He was afraid and it was his fault.
Kylo needed to be stronger than that. He had to be strong for Rey, strong for whatever might come after. Time away from her, time where she was accosted by the Jedi and those people who she had once called friends, left him agitated and on edge but he could not tell her such. She would try to but inevitably she would not understand, would not see the true danger in remaining within the Resistance.
He had been trapped in his thoughts a handful of minutes before a cough sounded opposite. He blinked and tried to school his surprise at the sight before him. He had not noticed her enter.
“General,” he kept his face still, fingers interlaced on the table as she narrowed her gaze at him.
“Would it kill you to call me ‘mother’?” she was all stone and unyielding but he could see the cracks now as easily as he could then. When Han and Leia would argue so loudly that the walls reverberated with it. When Han would storm out and her around their home. He would go to her when the anger stopped and she would smile, offer to make him something to eat but the cracks would be there; the pain in her eyes, the quiver in her smile.
There was no smile anymore but the quiver and pain remained. He should tell her the truth; her son is dead but the words die in his throat. The same weakness Snoke had promised would flee with Han’s dead prevailing. He felt bitter resentment at the reminder.
“Chewbacca’s returned,” Leia began side-stepping his lack of response. “He wants to speak to you.”
Kylo’s brow was raised before he can still the action and her lip pulled up as if to say ‘got you’. “If he has questions regarding the mission, I am sure he can simply read the reports.”
Leia crossed her arms over her chest. “The things he wants to know can’t be found in reports.”
“And I suppose you would like the answers as well?” he drawled feigning disinterest but her response didn’t rise to it.
Kylo felt his heckles rise and would have shut down if not for Rey’s words. He disagreed vehemently that it was necessary but her argument had been sound. If this worked and Rey survived, he would owe her more than an explanation. That was not to say that all debts get repaid.
“I am sure Rey could explain.”
“She probably could,” Leia agreed. “But I am not asking her. I’m asking my son. Why did you do it, Ben? How could you?”
He wondered what spurred this on. They’d been on this planet over a month and he did not understand the sudden fascination. Perhaps there had been more to what Rey had been saying. He was still unused to the driving Force behind the Resistance; the sense of nobility, and justness which had them fling themselves in the path of an immovable, unyielding power set surely to crush them. He had no place to complain at their foolhardy nature now, not when he was using it to his own end.
“I did what was required of me.”
Leia’s lip snared and her fist clenched. Anger but underneath it, she was driven by pain. Whatever they had been, Leia had loved Han dearly. It was harder to think of now knowing that Han was gone.
“Do you want to know the last thing I said to Han?” Leia spoke softly but the question was rhetorical. “I told him to bring you home.”
It hit dearer than he would have liked. That in some twisted way, that was exactly what he had done. Not as he wanted. There was a weight on his chest and a desire to let her know but it was too much.
“I –“ he began but his voice wavered and he dropped his gaze. Rey was stronger than him in this regard.
“Avoid the question if you want,” Leia finally spoke, voice low. “But your father loved you. I love you. And if you want to come back – I’ll do what I can for you.”
“Is this you great plea?” he snorted. Anger came easily, anger always came easily. He had wondered when this was coming. Or if it wouldn’t come at all. “I expected better.”
Leia shook her head at him, the level of disappointment made him once again feel like a small boy. “Speak to Rey. She might not want to go where you’ll lead her.”
“She made her decision.”
Leia sighed before she stood, expression frustrated save the pain in her eyes. “One day, you might know what it means to be a parent. Then you might understand what I’m trying to do. I just hope it’s not too late by then.”
Given the past few days, it struck a little too close to home. He waited until she was at the door, using that time to mentally deliberate. In the end, it was Rey that allowed his voice freedom. “If it weren’t for what he did,” Kylo said voice low as his hands clenched tightly to the arms of his chair, stilling her as she reached for the handle. “I never would have turned away from my master.”
Leia’s shoulders straightened but she made no word as she left.
Kylo was glad when the door opened next, it was his guards to take him back and not another interrogator, his mood foul and mind in disarray. He knew what he should be, he knew what he wanted to be but he was also aware of what he was. They were three very different things.
Rey beat him home for once and he felt the tense line of his shoulders dropped as he considered her. She was covered in grease and dirt; hair in a high pony tail for convenience, the overalls they wore removed at the top, sleeves tied around her chest leaving her in a tight strapped top that clung to her form and revealed a slither of her stomach. For all of that though, it was the sight of her eyes when she saw him, the light that burned brighter, the upturn of her lip that tore through him. There would never be a place for him without her.
He held out his hand to her and is still amazed by how easily she accepted, how warm her skin was against his, how soft. To consider her physically, it would be easy to assume she was weak and breakable but such an assumption would only leave you as dust in her wake. She was unyielding and powerful. Strong and sure. Together, no one could oppose them. Not if she gave into the darkness that swirled just beneath her skin but she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t ever accept the darkness and he wouldn’t want her to. Not if it changed this.
“You okay?” she asked when he pulled her into his chest and kept her there.
He rested his cheek on the top of her hair, uncaring of the grease and the dirt. “Yes,” and there was no lie in his words. There was a part of his mind in turmoil, the part of him that had shifted when he stepped away from Snoke and had grown when she accepted him, spreading her light wherever she went. It was not enough to eclipse the darkness inside of him but it acted as a beacon home, should he ever get lost again.
“I need to shower,” she told him stepping back. He let her go only because he knew she would come back again. “Join me?”
There was never any doubt.
A week was all that remained before they got onto ships and headed out to a backwater planet to take down the Supreme Leader. Seven days until they found out if all of this frustration and anger would be worth it. The idea of meeting Snoke twisted her stomach and her dreams had been hijacked by memories and flashes of the vision Kylo had shared with her.
It was different. They wouldn’t be alone for one. Not in the same way. The Resistance had promised all the forces that they could spare for this. They wouldn’t all be in that room however. Rey could taste Snoke’s power, felt a ripple off it run through her.
In the end, it would still be her and Kylo against Snoke. She just hoped that they had done enough. In her spare time, she had thrown herself into repairing whatever came her way, desperately needing the distraction of her hands. Luke took more of their time too, insisting on training sessions, meditation, forms. Their bodies were ready but that did not mean her mind was. Kylo had become quieter the closer that they drew, more focused.
The battle plan had been fine-tuned and was as filled out as possible until their scouts reported back. Whatever Kylo knew about numbers, fleet formations, and capabilities, was considered outdated. Their window of return to the First Order had been and gone. Snoke would know that Kylo had left and she expected that he would have dug deeply enough to uncover their relationship too.
Rey honestly had no idea what the best case scenario was. What was it better for Snoke to know? Regardless Rey did fear one thing. A niggling doubt that she knew she should not have, that it hurt to think about. Kylo was not good. There was darkness within him. Darkness that could be manipulated and twisted.
Rey pushed those thoughts back as easily as they came. At no point last time did he turn on her. It would be the same this time. The lightness that shone from Luke was familiar and had used to be comforting but she felt more content to stand with the man by her side, tinged in darkness as he was.
Kylo was silent as Admiral Ackbar explained the details of the plan for the hundredth time that Rey had heard, his eyes intense on the hologram of the planet they would be attacking. Pure focus. It was as enlightening as always to see him in such a way. Flight squadrons had already been assigned. The leaders stood around them. Leia was there too, listening quietly.
Their role would be simple; penetrate the temple and find Snoke. Everything else was an elaborate distraction. If they were lucky, the Knights of Ren would be drawn into the fighting too.
When they were dismissed, Luke came to her side as Kylo was called up by Leia and Admiral Ackbar. The pair shared a brief glance, Rey nodding that she was alright before he moved off.
“Rey,” he greeted, crossed his arms over his chest and began to walk towards the exit. She followed him out. There was an increase in urgency in those around them. Not as much as there would be on the day they flew but enough that everyone knew something was happening. She was surprised when he took her out onto the surface.
In all her time on the base, she had never been outside save that first time she arrived. In the hangar she could see the outdoors, even feel the breeze on occasion, but that was nothing compared to being able to hear the trees whistle, see leaves carried away on the wind, to feel the sun on her face. She had spent too long indoors, even before she arrived here.
They came to rest just before a small brook. She watched the water, sitting down before it. Luke copied her action, watching as she trailed her fingers into the stream.
“How are you feeling?” he asked and she turned to him. Didn’t ask what he was referring to.
He hummed. “Clear your mind. Snoke will see fear and use it against you.”
“Easier said than done,” she murmured but closed her eyes, let the sound of the water bubbling around her take control, trying to let the anxiety be washed away with the stream.
They sat together in silence for a very long time. Rey did feel better for it when she finally opened her eyes. Luke’s were already wide, watching her.
“Has Ben told you why he is so angry at me?”
Rey blinked and shook her head, wondering where this was going. Conversations about Kylo rarely ended well between them.
“There was a moment just after he had turned when the academy was engulfed in flames and filled with death. A moment between us. A moment in which I could have killed him.”
Rey clenched her teeth and daren’t say a word as she watched the pain ripple on the old Jedi’s face. “He is angry because I couldn’t do it. Everything was staring me in the face. What he was, who he could become, the suffering he would cause. I knew what I should do but I just couldn’t. I was too weak.” He shook his head. “He wanted to be stopped - the light within him begged me to do it.”
“Some embrace the darkness completely. The Emperor did, Snoke does. There has always been great potential in my family for light or for darkness.”
“What are you asking of me?”
Rey spoke with a steady voice even if it was low. So many put expectations upon her; be a Jedi, defeat Kylo Ren, destroy Snoke, what was one more?
“I am not asking anything of you. In the end, the decision will be yours and his. Just – everyone can be redeemed.”
Luke stood and left her to her thoughts and for once following a conversation with her former master, she felt inclined to consider what he said.
Kylo was unsurprised to see Finn when he returned to his cell. He had sensed the traitor’s presence there long before he entered. He merely raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms. Finn was standing on the opposite side of the cell to him, waiting, eyes narrowing.
“If you have come to speak to Rey,” Kylo filled the air between them. “She is outside with Skywalker.”
“It’s creepy that you just know that,” Finn returned and Kylo shrugged. For all Finn had spent their time here ignoring Rey, Kylo had been forced to deal with him a large amount. Initially it had been fact corroboration but then it became tactical. There were things about the First Order troopers that the traitor understood better than him. Their increased time together had made them more open to insults. Enough for others to interfere on occasion. Considering his presence alone in Kylo’s quarters, he assumed there would be no one stepping in today. “And that’s not why I’m here.”
Kylo could sense the anger within the other. “I would not have thought you would wish for another fight given the previous outcome.”
Finn’s eyes narrowed. “Those were hardly even grounds.”
“Yes, I was bleeding profusely at the time. It would be even easier this time.”
Finn clenched his jaw.
The air grew tense and Kylo was willing to remain as such but doing so would force him to endure the traitor’s company for longer than he desired. “I take it you are here to make vague threats?”
“No. Rey’s her own person and since everyone else seems to believe she actually cares about you, I’ll accept it.”
“How open of you.”
“I don’t trust you. What are you getting from this?”
“What does anyone ‘get’ from a relationship?” Kylo couldn’t help the quirk of his lip or the amusement in his eyes as Finn shuffled awkwardly.
“You brought it up,” Kylo reminded leaning back on the door.
“That’s not what I meant. You aren’t the type of guy who gives a crap – I bet you don’t know anything about her. Sure you might know how she fights but what about the real stuff? Family? Dreams? Heck, even her favourite colour!”
“I do not need to pander to your games,” Kylo informed him. “But it’s green.”
Finn narrowed his gaze. “Why?”
“It is the colour of life and the first she saw in quantity following her departure from Jakku. Does that satisfy you? Or do you need me to answer more menial things? Perhaps her favourite fruit or favourite ship? The position she favours sleeping in?”
Finn clenched his jaw. “Knowing facts isn’t the same as knowing her.”
“I do know her. I know her more intimately than you ever will. She is mine and I am hers. Why don’t we skip to the part where you admit why you are really here?”
“Fine,” Finn straightened and stepped closer, drastically reducing the space between them. “You’re dangerous. Volatile. How long until you lash out in anger and Rey’s the one caught in the crossfire? You can’t keep her safe.”
“Funny,” Kylo bit back. “That I am the one who has been doing just that. Or do you not recall the pile of blood from the crash?”
“Yeah, I remember it. Also remember how damn quickly your men got to the scene. The First Order didn’t have any presence in that system. Still don’t. And one engine blowing out is one thing but two?”
“What are you suggesting?”
“You know damn well what.”
“Perhaps if the Resistance could build a shuttle without components salvaged from the Clone Wars, engines dying wouldn’t be such a problem for you.”
“One day she’s going to find out and this little thing you’ve built between you is going to come crashing down.”
“I appreciate your belief that I am so all-powerful but I did not bring down her ship and I certainly didn’t place troops on that planet.”
“Then who did?” Finn’s words were angered but Kylo felt them hit. He had not considered before what the First Order troops had been doing there at the time.
Kylo considered it only a moment before turning back to the point at hand. “You do not have the right to tell me not to hurt her or to insist that I let her go. Regardless, I will give you this. There is nothing I would not to do keep her safe.”
Some of the fury died in Finn’s eyes as he stepped away, turning to stare at the desk to the side of them. Kylo let him, not interested in keeping this conversation going on any longer. “And if you think Rey is incapable of protecting herself, you are sorely mistaken. She’s a survivor.”
“And you’re a walking disaster.”
Finn left the room without another word and Kylo might have slashed out had it not meant giving into what the traitor had said. Instead, he sat at the table and went back to modifying his inhibitor, actions jerky and frustrated.
Unable to restrain himself, he threw out his senses around the compound, sensing Rey still with Skywalker. He felt her uncertainty. Felt his own. The sooner that they were done with this, the better. He had done his time being a prisoner for the Resistance and once it was over he would not be one again.
The few days before their departure was hard on both of them. Beside from the meetings that seemed to just reaffirm the same plan of action, came the training. Luke had decided that they gained little from sparring each other and opened the court up to any in the Resistance willing to test their metal. There were many eager officers to go against them; at least in the beginning.
They always drew an audience too. Finn watched them and she was unnerved by how he always did it with a shrewd eye as if learning for himself. He never stuck around long enough for her to manage to speak with him and she tried not to let it hurt her. She understood why he did it. She hurt him first after all. Physically and the rest. They had been friends once, maybe they would get that chance again, she wasn’t sure.
When the call came for the final selection of ground crew, it was for volunteers. The Resistance refused to send anyone who didn’t wish to go. Not with such high stakes. Rey couldn’t blame Leia for taking this precaution. For all that they would need all the help they could muster to ensure that First Order troops didn’t find their way down to the real fight, she knew for some it would be a demand too much. There were still a lot of people to be assigned when the time came. It gave her back some of the faith she had lost in the Resistance seeing those willing to do what it took just because it was the right thing to do. No ulterior motives save wanting a better future.
Rey wasn’t overly surprised when Finn volunteered. More so when Poe offered to lead the attack squadrons after his vehement refusal in that first meeting. Luke was the last of the big names, insisting that he be with the team sent for Snoke. Kylo had raged privately to her that evening but he knew not to refuse his help, not for that anyway.
They spent that evening in each other’s arms, not speaking about what was coming next, just holding and being held.
The hangar bay was bustling with life when they were escorted to it. Kylo was a comforting presence by her side, stopping the nerves she had been working so hard to contain from breaking free. Their guard disappeared as they came to stand beside the Millennium Falcon; Leia appeared a moment later.
“You’ll be needing these,” she stated and lifted her arms, a sabre in each. It had been so long but the blade still sung to her as she collected it, attaching it to her belt. Kylo did the same. Leia watched them carefully, eyes flickering between them both. “Rey, Finn wants to talk to you and I have a few things to say to my son.”
She squeezed Kylo’s hand before departing but was eager to let him go. Leia and Kylo’s conversations had always been stilted but there was light growing inside Kylo. Light that he wasn’t running away from. She supposed it made things easier. It didn’t even begin to eclipse the darkness within him but he no longer buried it either. There was a symmetry between them; she held the light, a piece of it within him and him the dark, a piece of it within her. They balanced each other.
She had been considering the Falcon, the newest modifications when she sensed him behind her.
“Finn,” she said the word softly. He wasn’t as angry as he had been. Now when she looked into his eyes, it was hurt instead.
“Rey,” he replied considering her. “Have you noticed you match your clothes with him? All dark and grey.”
They were back in the outfits they had arrived in, somewhere along the way they had been cleaned and had found their way back into their space these past few days. It felt better and worse to be back in her proper clothes and not the jumpsuits they’d been wearing on the base.
“I like the way it moves.”
“I miss your old clothes.”
Rey thought back to the haberdashery of her old cream, stained bandages and strips of cloth that had formed her outfit on Jakku, raising her brow.
“You look too much like him now.”
Rey sighed, not wanting to rehash the same arguments. “Finn-“
He lifted his arm to silence her. “Look, I don’t get. I don’t think I ever will. I just wanted you to know, that I still give a damn. You’re my friend. I’m going to be watching for the moment he changes back, the second he takes Snoke’s place – and I’m going to take him down.”
Rey didn’t have words, so she nodded.
“You know,” he exhaled. “We got to your ship thirteen hours after it went down and I can’t stop thinking how different things had been if we were even a couple hours faster. For that, I’m sorry.”
She blinked, she suspected but had never been told. “You were at the site?”
Rubbing a hand through his hair, he nodded. “Yeah. Poe flew the shuttle. There was nothing when we got there but scrap metal and a pile of blood.”
She leant forwards and squeezed his arm. “If they hadn’t got there, it would have been a bigger pile of blood with me in the centre. He saved my life, Finn. Think about that.”
She walked away so that they wouldn’t argue and moved to Kylo’s side. Leia had just departed. He pulled her close to his chest and breathed her in.
“Finn’s probably going to try and kill you,” she told him openly and he shrugged.
“If I try to hurt you, he’s welcome to it.”
“How very dramatic of you.”
“What can I say?” he asked picking up her chin and kissing her. It was chaste. There were too many people around for it to be anything else. When they pulled back, their hands remained joined as they headed onto the Millennium Falcon.
They sat together on the ship, well away from the cockpit and everyone else. Kylo wrapped around her from behind, resting his hand over her stomach. She didn’t feel any different and she hadn’t got a clue if it was different now, but she appreciated it all the same. They hadn’t spoken about this bit in all the time since the first night but she hadn’t requested to go to the med bay either. It wouldn’t change anything that they had to do.
She dropped her head onto his shoulder and he kissed her cheek. “Promise me you’re not going to do anything stupid,” she exhaled closing her eyes.
“I will make that promise, if you make the same.”
She made a noise of frustration in her throat.
“That’s what I thought,” he wasn’t smug as he might usually be for winning something. Instead his voice was uneven as he dipped his fingers below her top, resting them directly on her skin. “When this is done,” he breathed into her ear, so low she struggled to hear it. “I want you to make me that promise. Maybe some other’s too.”
“Alright,” she agreed swallowing. “But that means you have to be there with me. No sacrifices.”
“I should be the one telling you that.”
She brought her knees up and his came around hers, keeping them together in the small bunk in the living area of the Falcon. It would have been so easy, curled up like that, to just pretend they weren’t going to go face Snoke. That they were fine and it was just another mission.
“I love you,” he murmured into her ear, kissing the shell of it as she threaded their fingers together.
“We’re going to be fine,” she tried to insist but it was hard to be certain.
“Come here,” he murmured and she knew what he meant, closing her eyes and slipping into his mind. Together they were stronger.
There were two parts to the facility; the upper half which was entirely modern and filled with First Order troops, and the lower half which was an old temple, not too unlike the Jedi Temple on Ahch-To. It was darker, much darker and the light didn’t seem to penetrate whether from the sun or the Force.
Two teams headed into the main facility whilst the four of them; Finn, Kylo, Luke and Rey, headed lower. Kylo had had them all close their minds before they approached and she clutched his hand as they walked down broken stone steps.
There was an air of familiarity here that wasn’t her own. This place felt older than Ahch-To, older than anywhere she had been before. There were carvings on the wall that she wanted to study but they didn’t have that luxury.
“Shouldn’t there be troops here?” Finn broke the tense silence by asking.
Rey chewed her lip as she glanced to Kylo. He stilled them; the door to Snoke’s room in sight. Rey felt exposed when she glanced upwards and saw the multitude of ships both X-Wing and Tie fighters dodging around each other.
“It is unlikely that the explosion upstairs drew everyone,” Kylo agreed turning to Luke. “Can you sense anything?”
Kylo nodded, hand twitching beside his belted lightsabre. “It is likely Snoke has defences,” he unclipped the weapon instead and threw it over to Finn who caught it easily. “You have three shots. Wait until he’s distracted or weakened. Do not miss.”
Finn studied the gun a moment before holstering it, turning to Rey. “What’s the plan?”
“Hang back,” she told both of them. “We need you alive – if he notices that weapon, it’ll be all over.”
Before them, the doors to the chamber opened of their own accord. Rey’s eyes met Kylo’s and she felt fairs light down her spine. “Calm your mind,” he told her, squeezing her hand before letting it go.
“We can do this.”
The last few steps were broken stone of indeterminable age and Rey was careful, movements measured and matched by Kylo’s. It felt like she had walked this path before as she entered the open doors and was plunged into darkness. The only light came from the blueish hue of the dais wherein the monster sat.
As they arrived, he merely smiled.
“Kylo Ren,” he greeted coldly and Rey felt a cold chill drive down her spine as they came to a stop, keeping a few feet between them. Luke and Finn kept more of a distance, skirting the walls, their presence comforting nonetheless. “And the girl who defeated you. What a pleasant surprise.”
“Master,” Kylo greeted igniting his blade and swinging it in a large loop to his side. Rey’s blade remained in her hand, unlit as she considered the monster who had plagued her dreams who was responsible for Han Solo’s death, who would be Kylo’s own undoing if left alive.
“Perhaps you misheard me when I instructed you to kill the remaining Jedi,” the Supreme leader mused seeming entirely unaffected by their appearance before them. “Unless you intend to remedy that here?”
“I follow your orders no more.”
A dark chuckle filled the room and it choked Rey, each reverberation pressing down upon them. “Is that so? Then why are you here? To kill me?” he sneered hand clenching against the arm of his chair. “How very foolish you have become.”
Rey swallowed heavily, fingers tight around her blade as Snoke stood, rolling his shoulders, entirely relaxed. Too relaxed. Something was wrong. The moment she realised his gaze settled upon her.
His eyes were cold black holes allowing nothing but darkness to lie within. From one second to the next, her breath was cut off from her. It was a heavy blanket of the force around her, suffocating. He hadn’t even moved.
“I can see the allure, Kylo Ren,” he continued on as she gasped and clutched at her throat, feeling it tighten in steadily increasing increments. “I can feel the power within her.”
“You will release her and fight me,” Kylo demanded stepping forwards, eyes focused on Snoke, trying to bring Snoke’s attention back around.
“If you didn’t want me to break her, you never should have brought her here. Your weakness now is more than just you compassion for the girl.”
Rey felt a hand on her shoulder, cold and metal but with it the darkness was pushed away, swept to the side. It left her panting, heaving for air that burned her throat.
“Returning to your old master? How very predictable. You have always been too easily led.”
“I have no master.”
Slowly, Snoke withdrew his curved hilted-blade from his belt and measured it in his hand before positioning it to the side; a deep red hue lighting the darkness that enveloped him. “Let us see how wrong you are.”
The first flurry was fast and she felt Kylo’s rage echoing through the room as he moved and her own spike of fear at the side.
“Stay here,” she ordered Finn and Luke, throwing off her cloak as she moved up the dais. Kylo’s movements were fluid, strong but Snoke was barely reacting as he blocked Kylo’s strikes.
Rey was close, igniting her blade as she prepared to make her first blow. Snoke turned to glance at her and from a blink to the next he was gone.
It was like watching a creature how lithely he cleared their heads, landing on the stone floor before Luke. The room shook and it would have been easy to believe it cause something other than the Resistance’s bombardment beginning in earnest.
“Another apprentice you have failed,” Snoke taunted Luke who simply drew his blade and held it before him.
“It is you who have failed, dark one,” Luke returned easily. “There is still lightness within them both.”
“That will soon change.”
Rey shot a beseeching look at Kylo as the two older men began to trade blows. Without thought he nodded to her and they ran forwards together. It took too much focus on her own movements to watch Kylo’s but she was well aware of exactly what he was doing, of how he was moving and worked to combat it, jumping back as he swung an arc, waiting until Kylo had engaged him to strike, forcing Snoke to retreat.
Their barrage soon drew Snoke’s attention away from Luke whose movements were not quite sharp enough. Rey caught the sight of him retreating in the corner of her eye but could offer no more focus to his movements than that.
Rey saw Snoke strain under the flurry; wondered when the last time he had fought like this was, but the Force was only pressing her for a second before she was barrelled over, back hitting the stone wall of the room. Snoke’s laugh was booming and she groaned as she stood, spying Kylo across the room from her, on his hands and knees. Their eyes caught once and it was too much like last time, seeing Kylo’s fear double when Snoke moved towards her, leaving him.
Rey stood unsteadily and had just gotten into a defensive form when he swung at her. There was no denying his strength was more than hers as she stumbled under his power, just focusing on defending herself as Kylo drew closer.
It wasn’t enough. Hit. Deflect. Hit. Parry. Every move was counted before it could get close enough to strike his skin by blade or the force tugging and pushing them around. Her chest was pounding as she searched for the weakness, waited for some sign that they could do this.
And then the temperature of the room dropped drastically. She wanted to turn, wanted to see the cause but when blaster fire filled the room a moment later, she knew. “Kylo!” she shouted but he was already aware that they were no longer alone.
Not that it mattered. They couldn’t break their focus and she had to hope Luke and Finn could hold themselves.
Kylo’s attack was unrelenting as he made a downward strike that Snoke turned into the last minute, throwing him off easily. Rey used the distraction to go for his side but her blade diverted just shy of touching him and she cried out in frustration. He had a shield. The inhibitor would be useless unless they could wear that down first.
Trying to hit Snoke was like trying to catch the air. He moved like water, her eyes not quite fast enough to catch up with his movements. Kylo’s actions were too slow to catch him but Rey’s were too weak to push him back whenever their sabres crossed, always the one thrown when they broke.
Snoke worked to keep them on two fronts and had just sent her reeling backwards with the force when she saw the crackle of lightning. It engulfed Kylo, catching him on the side and sent him to his knees.
“Kylo!” she called and ran forwards, striking haphazardly at Snoke, just wanting to distract him. It worked but not as she wanted. Her legs were taken out from under her with a raised hand, as she fell face-first to the cold stone. Her chin cracked against it, sending pain through her. Snoke loomed, his hand coming out towards her, brandishing his blade towards her. The red of his sabre crackled more violently than Kylo’s and she rolled, desperate to get out of the way when red met red, Kylo holding him back over her.
“Move!” he ordered as she scrambled to get her feet under her and stood by Kylo’s side. Snoke smiled as he began to batter at them both again. Kylo could barely hold his ground against Snoke’s attacks but she knew that they couldn’t keep this up and swapped tactics, focusing less on strikes and more on defending both her and Kylo from the array of pushes, pulls and throws Snoke tried to level on them.
Rey grunted at the strain but when Snoke pushed out, this time they held their ground, his eyes narrowing. The cry of pain cut through any momentary victory she might have felt as she turned her head to Finn and Luke; the former was clutching his arm, blood streaming through his fingers. They were outnumbered.
“They need help,” Rey ordered stepping forwards again back close to Kylo’s side where they began to circle Snoke.
“They’re here for a reason.”
“Kylo,” it was beseeching and she felt his uncertainty, his desire to stay by her side.
“Luke!” he shouted and the older Jedi moved without question, Finn falling back and shooting at the knights before him, taking Kylo’s place beside Rey.
“Not what I meant,” Rey huffed to herself as she ducked out of the way of Snoke’s blow and Luke parried it away from her. He was fluid, graceful and the Force surrounded him, moved through his every action. More than once Snoke stole a glance behind him and it forced Rey onwards. The Knights of Ren had meant to be a distraction designed to slow them down and give him time to escape. She wouldn’t let him. A desire to end this man, this monster, fed her on as Luke parried his blows and she moved in between him and his exit.
“Brave, stupid, little girl,” Snoke deigned, blocking Luke’s hits barely looking at him.
Rey’s grip tightened on her blade, both hands holding the hilt close to her face. “You’ve hurt him for the last time.”
“I don’t think so,” the words were matched with a grunt and a gasp she’d recognise anywhere, turning to see Kylo stumbling backwards and onto one knee, clutching his chest, with a Knight of Ren standing over him.
A second later a blaster shot sent the knight down. The glance took only a moment but when she blinked, Snoke was impossibly close to her. She brought her blade up just in time to cross with his, his breath close enough that she could feel it on her skin as he smirked at her. Scrambling for something, feeling the press of his powers on more than just her blade, pushing into her entire body, she tried to reach into his mind but all that was there was anger and emptiness. He didn’t feel real. Didn’t feel alive. The thought scared her. His grin grew wider and she was forced to her knees beneath his power. The weight on her shoulders crushed her, every inch where she could feel his power burned her as keenly as acid, threatening to split her open.
Rey cried out, eyes blurring under the moisture surrounding them. Somewhere she heard her name but it was distant beneath the agony. Her sabre dropped as her hands landed on the cold stone, trying to support herself.
The blow, when it landed, scored down her left arm, cleaving away the fabric and burning the skin where it touched. She screamed and scrambled backwards but Snoke was thrown off centre before he could reach her. She trembled and tried to stand, the hum of a sabre threateningly close to her still, body feeling like jelly. There was a hand offered to her and she felt light chase away the residual agony when she slid her palm against his. Luke tugged her up the moment her hand was locked in his, a large stone falling in the space she had just occupied. The shaking of the ground was growing in frequency and intensity.
They were running out of time.
“Thank you,” she gasped and if this were a training session, she would be done but it wasn’t and her reprieve could have only come from one thing.
There was a pile of bodies where the Knights of Ren had made their final stand and a clash of sabres behind her. “Kylo,” she whispered to herself before moving. Her legs threatened to buckle but she couldn’t leave him alone. The pain in her arm became secondary to her need to reach where Kylo traded blows with Snoke, calling her blade to her out of the rubble as she went. Snoke who didn’t even look out of breath. Snoke whose eyes were alive and lips turned up at the corner.
She reached his side in time for him to stumble, to fall to one knee. With all the might within her she levelled a blow against the blade moving down to decapitate. Snoke’s sabre halted and she hoped Kylo had moved because the strain was already too much.
“Good,” Snoke galled as he considered her, pulling his blade back unceremoniously, moving it down to his side as he straightened, eyes lighting over her. “Very good.”
Kylo stumbled to his feet and took a step forwards, moving between her and him but the action was frozen mid-way through. Her panic had broken her focus and she felt the blanket of darkness descend over them, locking them in position.
“No!” Kylo yelled when Snoke stepped towards her.
“He has trained you well. Better than I expected.”
“Get away from her!” Kylo hissed and she saw the struggle, felt his anger surge as he broke free of Snoke’s hold. It lasted a moment before Snoke turned to him and threw him into the far wall. Rey heard him groan and clenched her jaw at the crack that could mean nothing good.
“Kylo!” she shouted, eyes searching but the room was dark, stone falling from the ceiling unevenly around them.
There was nothing she could do as she tried to break free of the darkness clouding her when his hand caressed her cheek, his fingers cold and unnatural as they collected her chin, pinching it hardly as he forced her gaze to his. It was the same as before and Rey’s fear crushed her, she couldn’t get a handle on the Force, couldn’t push him away or break free like she so desperately needed.
“You could end this here, save him,” Snoke’s voice was like velvet and his eyes penetrated past all her defences, drawing forth images from her mind. She saw herself as a girl on Jakku crying after a shuttle. “Save yourself. You’ll never be weak again. No one could stand against you. You could have everything you ever wanted, all you need to do,” her heart was pounding and she could feel the perspiration falling down her face. Each word burnt into her core. “Is kill the last Jedi.”
There were steps behind her, the thrum of a sabre. “Let her go,” Luke’s voice was commanding without the edge of anger hers or Kylo’s held. He was entirely calm and she felt a battle around her; Luke versus Snoke and she was in the middle of it. Sinking in an ocean of darkness and light. There was something twisting within her, a clawing desire to do as he said as he dug into her every desire and showed her how easily they could come true should she simply let him in.
“Without them, you will be free,” Snoke murmured. “No one to imprison you. No one to take away your child. Do you think that they’ll let you keep it?”
“Rey,” Luke’s voice was steady. “Don’t listen to him.”
“You’re a threat to them,” Snoke goaded. “They’ll never let you be free.”
Each word was twisted inside her. It sounded so true. She could see an image, or perhaps a vision. Luke holding an infant, swaddled in cloth. She holds her hands out towards it. Luke turns and walks away. She cries and yells and kicks but he gets further and further away. Taking the infant. Taking her child.
Rey felt everything twist. Her vision felt blurred. The anger and darkness inside her coming forward as the vision faded and she saw Luke.
“I promise you,” Luke insisted. “We will never take away your child. Please, Rey. Block him out.”
“I would never separate you,” Snoke purred. “They already tried, didn't they? But last time you had leverage. Now though -" he shook his head. "You could rule the galaxy together. All I ask is to end this now. Kill him.”
Rey clenched her fists together struggling to break through the haze of her mind. “I –“ her voice quavered, uncertain. A movement to the side caught her eye and she could see Kylo struggling to stand. Saw the blood staining his hand.
He did this. She reminded herself.
“I will never join you,” she hissed at Snoke through gritted teeth. There was one moment where she recognised his surprise before it moved to disappointment.
“Pity,” he said nonchalantly as he moved his hand from her cheek into her hair and yanked. It was all she could do to clutch to her sabre as Snoke dragged her into his arms. He held her with one arm around her waist, the other levelling a blade against her throat, a mockery of a lover’s embrace. “Another move and she dies.”
Snoke’s powers were still wrapped around her tightly but she felt a break in his hold; a slither of light that she could cling to and she did, pouring herself into what she soon realised was Luke’s influence. Steadily, together they began to push away the cloak trapping her but that did little to stop his arm clutching to her.
Rey watched the horror in Kylo’s eyes as he hobbled to Luke’s side and tried not to let fear crush her again. Her link to Luke was tentative at best and she had to believe that there was a chance. It was different Luke was here. Finn was – where was Finn?
“Your plan was ambitious. More than I thought you capable of. It failed,” Rey closed her eyes and tried to focus, letting everything else play out. She couldn’t tell Finn what to do but she hoped that he’d do it anyway. “You will submit to me, Master of the Knights of Ren. I will keep your pet here with me and you will learn your place.”
“I will kill you and enjoy every second of it,” Kylo bit as Rey steadied herself. There wouldn’t be any second chances at this.
Snoke chuckled darkly. “Do you not remember how this goes, Kylo Ren?” His hand moved to her abdomen. “Or will you let her sacrifice everything you have come to care about? You think I did not know of your treachery? All of this has already played out and in the end, the darkness shall prevail.”
She tore her eyes away from Kylo to stare at Luke, hoping that he understood. Last time, she had not been able to take hold off Snoke’s mind but when she closed her eyes she was no longer alone. She used the contact of his hand on her skin to invade his mind. It was just as cold and unyielding as before but there was a beacon behind her and she knew what she needed to do.
The sabre remained at her throat as she slipped once more into the blacked darkness and seized control of the creature behind her. It was a frozen wasteland that threatened to devour her but there was a tether back; a light in the distance to guide her home. She ground her teeth together as he immediately began to fight her, and she let him move one foot backwards to keep his hands still as she moved her own to wrench the belt away from him throwing it and the shielding device to the floor. “Finn!” she called feeling Snoke surge against her, crying out as he clawed and bit and spit to throw her out of his mind. Her body swayed, tasting blood as his hand flexed, nails scraping over the skin of her stomach as he began to speak.
The words were silenced by the sound of two shots; she felt them as though they buried in her spine, screamed at the pain as if it were her powers being stripped. The lightsabre was yanked from Snoke’s hand to the side as she was pulled into arms, crumpling to the ground away from him. Quickly, she released the sickening thoughts, clutching to her head as Kylo held his blade over Snoke’s form, walking him backwards, kicking his blade away where it had been released in shock.
“You will hurt my family no more,” he declared and Rey watched as Kylo swept down and Snoke’s head left his body, the sound of limbs hitting the stone numb to her ears as she swayed and dropped alongside him.
Kylo stood over the body for only a moment before he staggered to Rey’s side; a twisting sense of both relief and unease settling over him. Snoke was a monster and Kylo wished only that he could have done more than simply kill him. It mattered little as he quickly moved to focusing on what was before him now, retrieving what he needed from the body before collecting Rey’s lightsabre and fastening to his belt. Luke was standing over her but took a step backwards as Kylo came close, dropping to his knees by her side. There was blood running from her nose and ears. If not for the strong beat of her heart in her chest, he wasn’t sure what he would do.
“There was still a connection between Rey and Snoke’s mind when his powers were severed. He clung to her in desperation,” Luke murmured as Kylo collected her off of the rubble and onto his lap, ignoring the pain it caused him. The room was still shaking, rocks still falling around them.
“What does that mean?” he demanded brushing aside the loose hair from her face.
“She felt his pain as hers.”
He leant forwards, fear building in his mind. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Pressing their foreheads together, he searched for her consciousness. He’d carry her if needs be. Her mind was darkened and he struggled to recognise parts of it as he searched for her hoping it was simply her unconsciousness that had twisted things.
When he found the spark and encouraged it to unfurl uncaring in that moment of what happened around him, helping push the encroaching darkness away.
She gasped and clutched at his arms as she shot forwards and he clung right back to her as she heaved in breaths. “Kylo?” her voice was distant and he squeezed her as though she were about to disappear.
“I thought I’d lost you,” he murmured and she slowly loosened her hold on his arm and slid her hand to his face.
He helped her stand but she tumbled again when the room shook around them. He pulled her to the side out of the way of falling rocks but the entire room was coming down on them.
Luke gave them space but was close enough to step in and Kylo nodded in appreciation until the floor was even before them. Rey was not yet herself but with each step she became surer of the next.
“He’s gone?” she asked and he gave his affirmation.
“He will never hurt us again.”
Luke pursed his lips and went to speak only for the sound to be replaced with that of a gun-cocking. Kylo’s gaze flickered between Finn’s intense look and Luke’s resigned one.
“Snoke’s dead. Rey needs medical attention and you need to hand over your weapons.”
“You wish to do this now?” he gritted in aggravation, ensuring Rey could stand before he withdrew his arm from around her waist.
“I have my orders.”
“You have only one chip remaining,” Kylo cautioned. “You could not stop us both.”
“That’s what you think,” Finn retorted but he could see the bluff in his eyes.
“And who’s orders are those?”
“There is no need for further violence,” Luke tried to calm, raising a hand to Finn to lower his weapon. “I am sure that they will come willingly.”
“We can’t,” Rey’s voice wavered, her eyes sad and her lips lifted in a sad smile.
“Why can’t you?” Finn demanded. “There’s nothing for you alone. Where do you expect to go?”
“That is not your concern,” Kylo asserted and locked his gaze with Rey’s. It was a conversation without words. Concluded with the smallest of inclines of each of their chins.
“I am sorry that it’s come to this,” Rey was the one to speak; clearly with determination. Before Finn could process the words, the gun was wrenched from his hands, and into hers where she secured it on her belt. There was nothing violent in the action.
“Don’t do this, don’t let Snoke win,” Luke pleaded but he made no effort to lift his blade.
“We will never be your prisoners,” Kylo promised, handing her back her blade.
“Goodbye, Finn,” Rey smiled tightly and he saw her desire. It would have been so easy for her to stay and explain but she was not unaware of the platoon of Resistance soldiers currently making their way to the chamber.
“Rey –” there was a note of warning in Luke’s tone but neither of them listened as they turned, and ran. Ran as best as they could, given the injuries they both held.
Rey’s world felt off-centre as she moved, Finn cursing and firing off a few shots but with no real aim as Luke stood and watched them. She felt weak and drained but things were becoming clearer with each moment and she knew what they needed to do. The facility, or the level they were on, was larger than Kylo had told the Resistance. At the back of the temple, concealed by hidden doors and passages, was a tertiary hangar with one function.
The shuttle, when they reached it, was sleek and small. Fast and silent. Most ships would only detect such a vessel as a blip on their sensors, especially when a dogfight raged around them. Kylo had never used this. They had put a lot of faith on Snoke having such a back-up plan when they had made their decisions.
The hangar opened above them and Kylo stayed to ensure no one would be following them as she ran inside to initiate take-off. He only remained behind her a moment before the floor shook. Leaning against the panel she saw the pile of rubble blocking the archway they had just run through. When Kylo entered the cockpit, shutting the ramp behind him, she glanced over her shoulder.
“Had to work with what I had,” he panted, quickly destroying any devices or equipment that the First Order might use to track them. When he was done, he sat beside her with a low grunt. She cast him a glance but her focus then was getting them out of there.
The battle was still raging over head; tie-fighters, x-wings, and some larger vessels too, fighting even though the outcome had been decided. Rey watched an X-wing do a manoeuvre she was certain she couldn’t have pulled off and felt a stab of guilt. Something that was quickly squashed when a hand landed against her shoulder and squeezed.
“Ready?” she asked as she punched in the co-ordinates that she had spent the last week memorising.
Kylo made a noise of disgust and brought his hand to his head.
“What is it?”
“Skywalker,” he murmured, shaking his head. “Go, quickly.”
Rey sent the ship into hyperspace silently. She missed the juddering of the Falcon. Moving away from the console when they were safely on their path, she turned towards Kylo, wincing as she saw him.
“My leg, ribs and chest.”
Rey moved around the shuttle, searching for an aid kit, disgruntled with what she found. She sat down before him. “What’s worse?”
He tried to straighten his leg and he shuddered, eyes threatening to roll into his head. “Broken,” he informed her and she had a moment of sheer amazement that he had still managed to keep pace with her through the facility on such an injury, before she was brought back by his words, “Nothing you can do for that here. Chest, however,” his voice waivered and she worked him out of his clothes with precision, trying to minimise the movement, feeling every jolt as he did.
When she saw it she had to take in a deep breath. It wasn’t a blaster shot but a blade, a thin wound that poured like a tap. She stood and searched for a medi-kit, coming back and cleaning it first as he hissed, chastising, “You always talk about my posture and yet you’re always taking blows to your chest. You do realise that’s where all your vital organs are?”
“Not all,” he reminded tapping his head and she shook hers.
She placed the bacta patch on his chest with her right hand. There was only one set of bandages and she needed to check his leg out before deciding where they went. He took over holding it as she sat back, wincing as she pushed the fabric up, her left arm protesting.
“Did you know you always yell at me when I’m injured?” he said idly as she considered the jagged cut that covered the shin of his unbroken leg. The bandages needed to go there, she decided, once again cleaning the wound before ripping open a bacta patch and smoothing the cool blue fabric over the cut.
“Yes,” she retorted, biting back her own pain as she wrapped his leg.
“You do it because you are scared.”
She punched his good thigh. “Damn right I am. If I lose you, then what? I’m all alone again.”
“You could go back to the Resistance,” he told her settling back in the chair as she tied a knot around the bandages. There was only one bacta patch left. “You know that my mother would take you back with open arms.”
“Ugh,” she lamented as she began to remove her clothing, careful as she pried the scorched clothing free of the burn on her arm. She was lucky it had only been the layer of skin – it could have easily taken her entire arm off. Snoke had not wanted to maim her though, no, he had wanted her to feel it. She tore the remnants of her top into strips with the help of the dagger from his belt. Tying them together she made the bandages she needed to secure the bacta patch against his torso. “And then Luke will train me again and everything would go back to what it was?” she concluded shaking her head. “I’m not that person anymore, Kylo.”
When she was done with him, she lifted the last bacta pack and he took it from her. “Here,” he said placing his hands over the wound. She felt his power pour through her, felt the worst of the injury recede. When he stopped, he sagged, let her take over spreading the bacta over what remained over the wound.
“Thank you,” she breathed. “You really do need to teach me that.”
He chuckled and the sound settled within her. She leant up, rested her head against his knee as he threaded fingers through her hair. They simply breathed and calmed and healed. It wasn’t a surprise that Finn had tried to capture them. That was what this plan was all for. They wouldn’t spend their lives in a gilded prison. Especially not with everything they had yet to figure out.
“Do you still have the pistol?” he asked sensing her thoughts and she nodded, pointing vaguely to the corner.
She did, without even lifting her head from his lap. “Did you destroy the chip inside Snoke?”
“Yes,” he exhaled. “The second was more difficult,” Kylo placed his hand in his pocket and held out the two bloody chips. He crushed them in the centre of his hand. “Now, the only knowledge remains within us.”
“Good,” she felt more comfortable at that. In time, the Resistance might fashion something similar but for now it wasn’t a concern. Kylo had been very careful leaving no trail when he had acquired his knowledge.
“How do you feel?” he asked, pressing his fingers to her ears, wiping away the blood. “You held him – I never expected you to do that. Luke said that you felt-”
Rey winced and cut off his words as she tried to verbalise what she had felt. “His mind was like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” she shuddered and felt the need to bathe for a very long time in very hot water. “I couldn’t have managed it much longer.”
“I thought – I thought it was going to end the same way. When he grabbed you – I swear, Rey.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” she hadn’t wanted to put him through that. Hadn’t want to live it either. His fingers moved into her hair, smoothing away Snoke’s touch.
“Snoke knew,” Kylo’s voice was disbelieving. “He knew what was going to happen.”
“Not all of it,” she reminded.
“Why didn’t he change it though? Kylo shook his head. “He could have moved his base or brought in more guards.”
She ran her hand up his good thigh, tasting his apprehension as her own. “I don’t know.”
Kylo let out a frustrated breath and she would have debated with him more but she was exhausted. The hand in her hair faltered briefly before he shifted, “There’s a bed in the back.”
“If you think I’m sleeping in Snoke’s bed –“
Kylo chuckled and it was so light it stirred things in her heart. “Fair point. Lay on the benches. You should be resting.”
Her nose twitched. “So should you.”
“Yes but,” his voice wavered and she knew what he meant even before he glanced at her stomach.
“Will you be disappointed if I’m not?” she looked up and saw the conflict within his eyes as he pursed his lips.
“It would be easier,” he admitted as she moved to stand and helped him up, shaking off his cloak and handing it to her. She wrapped it around herself without hesitation. “And we could always try again later.”
Her lips pulled up. “I never saw you as the paternal type.”
He laughed and ran a hand through his hair. “Neither did I but I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I’m not opposed to the idea of being a father.”
Rey settled in his arms and he pressed their lips together. Their hearts were still racing and she doubted that her mind would calm for some time yet.
The planet that they landed on was beautiful. There were large lakes that spanned a good chunk of the surface and great plains of grass where cattle roamed free. She wanted to just stare out at it for hours but it wasn’t safe. Kylo took over piloting when they got close and landed them on a secluded island of land that, from above, she could see a small house.
When Kylo sent a code, a patch of grass opened up to reveal a hidden hangar that hid their ship. The space where they disembarked was large and warm, bright lights overhead allowing her to see everything around them. A droid came forwards, bowing and clutching its hands.
“Master Ren, Lady Rey,” it greeted. “Everything has been prepared as per your request. If you would follow me to the medical suite.”
Rey glanced at Kylo, smiling wryly at him. “At least you realise you need medical attention this time.”
“Who says it’s for me?” he glanced at her arm. “Your arm was seared.”
“You were stabbed in the chest.”
He rolled his eyes but she glared until he relented. “Fine.”
“You are the most stubborn human in the entire galaxy, you know that?”
“No,” he replied as they entered a small chamber fitted with various tools, a bacta tank and a medical droid that came to greet them. Before it could usher them into treatments, Kylo wrapped around her waist. “Because that title goes to the woman I love. The woman I intend to marry.”
“Oh?” she tried to keep her face level but couldn’t fully stop her lips from picking up at the corners as she ran her hands up his chest and around his neck. “Is that what you intend to do?”
He hummed and merged their lips.
“Excuse me,” the medical droid interrupted. “I have performed preliminary scans and believe it beneficial to begin treatment for your wounds immediately.”
Kylo stepped back and glared at the droid which stood before them and gestured Kylo to one of the cots. Rey was entirely amused as she watched him be prodded into the cot. “If you’d have actually taught me that whole healing with the Force thing when you mentioned it,” she declared, leaning on the cot opposite him and folding her arms over her chest. “This could have been avoided.”
“I got a little distracted,” he admitted, glowering as the droid cut his shirt down the middle and began mumbling things to itself as it went to a tray to collect all sorts of pointing things that made Rey wince sympathetically.
“You look pale,” he commented and opened his hand out to her. She reached out and squeezed it. “Go and sit.”
“I’m good here.”
Rey watched with morbid fascination as the needle punctured his skin. Kylo had closed his eyes and was focusing on breathing. “Can I assume from the fact that you are still here, that you agree?”
She squeezed his hand. “Was that ever in doubt?”
He chuckled and then winced, the sound dying with a frown. “Mother would be pleased.”
“Considering everything, I don’t think getting married will be top of her list of grievances.”
Kylo settled further into the bed. “Then you really don’t know my mother.”
The priority was their immediate wounds.
Rey had a look of pity on her face for the medical droid as it ran between the two of them. The focus was mainly upon Kylo and in the time it took for the medical droid to be satisfied with his treatment, Rey had already been cleared to leave if she chose. She didn’t. Kylo grumbled and drew hard lines when it came to certain treatments such as using the bacta tank. Whenever he felt that he was about to storm out, she found space to squeeze his hand and he deflated.
At least a little.
When all was said and done they had been in the room hours which he had lost count of. He still had questions mostly about Rey but he saw her exhaustion. Mentally and physically. She needed time.
Kylo had no intentions of forcing the issue. After what they had been through, the trauma he could see in her silent stares and moments of nothingness from her time in Snoke’s head, he knew that they could wait to find out. For that night, it was simply enough that they were here, alive, together. The medical droid had tried to insist that they stay in the medical suite for the night but Kylo had refused. He would not force Rey to sleep here and he had no intention of leaving even the width of the room between them.
Instead, he stood, ignoring the pain that still ricocheted through him and collected her hand. She was silent as he guided her through the house he had acquired for them. His intention was to retire but as they were moving towards the staircase they passed a glass door, curtains undrawn. The moon filtered through onto the wooden floor, glistening as water would. He followed her lead to the balcony. There was a chill in the air but not enough to stop them as she placed her arms on the stone barrier and he wrapped around her, standing behind her.
“It’s beautiful,” she murmured and he kissed her forehead still not entirely able to believe that they were her.
“It’s ours. There is no way for the Resistance or the First Order to trace us here. If by some miracle they managed it, I have a few other places.”
She turned and there were lights dancing in her eyes, a spark of her that had filtered in and out since the fight. He was glad to see it back. “I didn’t think you were the type to own property.”
“I wasn’t,” he assured her. “Not until this. Before we left the Finalizer, I had put plans into place. Not all are like this. Some are apartments in cities. Others even more secluded than this. Contingencies.”
She slid her hand over his where it rested on her stomach. He felt a protectiveness surge within him. There wasn’t a thing he wouldn’t do for her. “We’re here, we’re alive, what are we going to do?”
“As much as I would keep you here, I do not think it will be safe,” he told her and it was reluctantly. It was not the first time he had felt regret for his actions but he was burned by it again then. He would not see her hurt because of him. “Not yet. I have enemies. We have enemies. Staying in one place for too long courts danger.”
“It worked for Luke.”
He bristled at the reminder of his former master.
“Alright,” she soothed and turned in his arms, let her hands rest on his chest. The action calmed the edges of his mind. There was no one else he would be here with. No one else he would have done this for. “Options?”
He let his eyes cast upwards to the sky. “I do not want to be a target. I will not place you in constant danger. And –“ he took a breath before speaking further. Until they went back to the medical bay, it could be nothing. “I would not raise a child like that.”
“I know we need to find out,” she dropped her head. “Just – not right now.”
“We don’t have to do any of this right now,” he reminded softly. The way she looked at him never failed to tear down any walls he had. Once, he had thought he was able to best her. He never could have guessed just how wrong he was. He had always been at her will.
He collected her hand and guided her. Their steps slowed on the stairs; his by injury, hers by exhaustion. When they finally reached the bedroom, the only thing keeping them standing was the sight of the destination. Still, he helped her out of the clothes she had changed into in the med bay and helped her down before he stumbled in himself.
“I love you,” she murmured, eyes already closing as he wrapped around her body.
“And I you.”
Rey had no idea what time it was. It felt like they slept for over a day before they woke and even then she was fairly confident she could manage another twenty-four. Kylo was the one to insist they get up, going somewhere and returning with a large plate filled with a variety of fresh fruit.
She chose randomly and nibbled at the unfamiliar fruit, deciding what she liked and didn’t like as he watched her. “That’s very distracting,” she told him as she put down a too-sweet brown fruit with white flesh, picking up a green one instead.
“My apologies,” he murmured and finally took a piece of fruit and biting into it.
There was something different inside him. Weighted. Perhaps even more so than before. She reached across their plate and squeezed his hand. He squeezed back but offered no further explanation save the look he gave her.
“You’re considering going back to the First Order,” she guessed tilting her head. She tried to keep her stomach level as she did, tried to remain neutral for the little flip she felt in her stomach.
“I am,” he admitted easily. “To protect you.”
“I don’t need their protection. I don’t need protecting at all,” she reminded. She knew what she had said to Luke and Leia about staying with him regardless and whilst she didn’t know where she wanted to be, she did fear. “And I doubt the First Order vessels are what we might need.”
He conceded that, inclining his head, “And we would have to deal with Hux first.”
Rey exhaled and buried her face into her knees. “We should probably do that anyway. Or at least give the Resistance the information they need to. I doubt he will let us just go about living a happy retirement.”
“Nor will the Resistance.”
“I don’t know,” Rey hedged. “Luke could have done more to stop us. If he had wanted.”
There was a tense minute before Kylo exhaled. “You wish to return to the Resistance.”
“I didn’t say that,” Rey looked up and into his face. The conflict of emotions was rife. Kylo wasn’t good and she wasn’t bad. Not completely. “But maybe they’d be more willing to let us be than the First Order would.”
He sighed. “Another parley?” he guessed scrubbing a hand through his hair. “Take down Hux and what? Earn our freedom? Let us live in peace?”
“Maybe it’s worth a try.”
“Perhaps. I will not go back to that cell though, Rey.”
He peeled her arms back from her legs and she easily went into his embrace, letting him sooth the frayed edges of their mind. There was more to consider this time and Rey honestly wasn’t sure how they were going to manage but as long as they were together, it didn’t matter. His hand came to rest on her stomach as she leant her head on his shoulder.
“I think before we do anything else we should go downstairs,” Rey murmured feeling a thousand knots inside her stomach. She didn’t need to expand her meaning and Kylo offered her his hand as she stood.
They dressed in relative silence but he was there when they descended and took the route back to the medical suite of the house. Remained by her side as the droid came up to greet her.
“Lady Rey,” the droid inclined its head. “Master Ren, what can I do for you?”
“Can contraceptive implants fail?” she blurted feeling her face burn. Kylo kissed her forehead and said nothing.
“Failure rating for contraceptive implants currently sit at zero-point-one per cent. For maximum efficiency, it is recommended that it is changed every five years and checked once a year. Would you like your implant to be checked for efficiency?”
Rey nodded, not quite able to form words as the droid collected a tool with a scanning tool. Rey offered her arm. The droid’s fingers were cold and she tried not to wince as Kylo settled behind her, resting his hands upon her hips.
The droid stared at the screen and tilted its head to the side, removed the tool and replaced it. After a minute, it addressed them. “It appears that your implant has failed. The chip is no longer administering hormones. I recommend immediate removal and replacement.”
“Can you tell when it failed?” Kylo asked and his hands were tighter on her hips, she fell backwards into his chest.
“Approximately three months ago.”
“Three months ago?” Rey exclaimed, feeling Kylo’s hand tighten on her hip. “How?”
“Although failure is low there are many things that can account for failure. Excessive force on the chip, exposure to foreign current, or merely a faulty with the implant are some examples.”
Rey turned to Kylo and couldn’t decipher the emotion on his face. He might as well have been wearing the mask. “What is it?”
There was something in her tone which pulled him back, had him press their foreheads together. “It doesn’t matter. Are you okay?”
“We still don’t know for sure.”
“If you would like to lay down, I can perform an examination immediately,” the droid interrupted and Rey couldn’t even be mad. It took a minute for her feet to respond to her command to move. When she finally did, Kylo kept his steps with hers, sitting by the side of her head.
“No matter if you’re carrying my child now, or in a few years, we’ll do better for them,” he promised her, brushing hair out of her face. “No leaving them behind. No sending them off to train on a frigid planet. We’ll keep them safe.”
“I love you,” she murmured wincing as a cold fingers pressed onto the exposed flesh of her stomach and the droid held a scanner over her stomach. “We’ll do this together.”
“Of all the decisions in my life, this is the one I don’t regret at all.”
Rey’s heart swelled. She had no idea how they were going to manage it but as long as they were together, it didn’t matter. Their eyes were locked onto each other and silence reigned over the room.
And then they heard a steady thud fill the room.
Woah! This was only 40,000 words when I first drafted it.
I have ended this story where I intended to when I first wrote it but along the way I did get inspiration for a potential sequel that I might do if there's interest to see where they go next :)
Thank you everyone for reading, commenting and liking! It's been a fab ride and a pleasure to write! ♥