A/N: So I got back from my third viewing of The Last Jedi and holy crap I still love it. And I still love the Reylo. They had such interesting interactions and fantastic chemistry, how could I not ship them? Plus all that drama…
I was pretty curious how exactly Rey ended up confiding to Ben in that hut scene, how that conversation would have started and evolved to get them to that point. So I took my shot at writing it. I hope y'all enjoy!
par·a·digm shift (noun): a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.
She loses track of how long she remains at the base of the mirror, collapsed and shivering. The discomfort is inconsequential to the disappointment and despair weighing like a planet on her shoulders. She'd been—she'd been so sure she'd find answers here—answers that were different from the knowledge, whispering in her heart, that she'd carefully, consciously, ignored—
Her breath hitches. Rey swallows back a fresh wave of tears. My parents are coming back, she tells herself, they're aren't like everyone else on Jakku. They left me for a good reason. They're special. I'll see them again.
The usual mantra rings hollow in her ears. In her minds' eye, she sees the endless trail of Reys, stretching forever into eternity, all seeking an answer that was not there. Her shoulders bow just a little more, and Rey feels like she'll never regain the strength to leave this spot, that she'll stay there forever like the ancient Jedi tree, putting down roots into stone.
It's only when her teeth start chattering in earnest that Jakku-honed survival skills kick in. She's cold, freezing to death. Freezing from water, not night's chill, but it's familiar enough that it stirs her to action. Her knees pop as she slowly stands. Rey rubs her arms, feeling goosebumps prickle under her fingers. Her clothes cling to her skin, sopping wet. It only exacerbates how miserable she feels. Warmth and a change in outfit has never sounded better.
She's trudged up to the village and is opening the door to her hut when she senses his presence. This—whatever it is—it's unmistakable. It's the sound of a soft buzz, or maybe a kitten's purr, in her ears, and the feeling of something tugging at the back of her mind, stretching out and out until it snaps and everything goes silent.
Rey groans. "I'm not in the mood."
As the words leave her mouth, she is involuntarily thrown back to the last time she said something similar: "I'd rather not do this right now." "Yeah, me too." Then turning and finding Kylo Ren shirtless in front of her, all rippling muscles and hooded eyes. And within her, a desire to touch. He's fully clothed now, but the memory brings color to her cheeks, and Rey's grateful for the darkness that hides it. She hopes. He's cast in the same shadows as her, but she doesn't know if that's because of the lighting on her end or the lighting on his.
Her certainty falters. Is her blush really hidden? Or is he seeing her in perfect detail? Stars. This entire thing is just so—frustrating and inconvenient.
Abandoning her plan of changing out of her wet clothes now that he's here—she certainly isn't going to give him an eyeful—Rey instead moves to stoke a fire. Kylo watches her; she could read his face, if she chose, his eyes and expressions are always so open. No wonder he used to wear a mask.
But she wasn't lying when she said she wasn't in the mood to speak with him, and she doesn't want to see the emotion written across his visage. Their last conversation got too vulnerable for her liking, too familiar; he'd offered some kind of twisted advice, and she'd actually asked him about his father, tearing up against her will as she recalled the kind, if somewhat sardonic, man who'd seen something in her. And he'd been too sincere when responding about not hating Han Solo, and she'd read in his face that it was the truth. Then he'd told her about—Master Skywalker trying to—
It had all been too much, a dizzying rush of emotions she wasn't ready for. It had made her wonder why instead of just hating him—it had given her glimpses of the man behind the mask, and damn it—it had made something stir in her, something other than the dying hate she should be feeling—
No. No, it was far too familiar for her liking. She's already thinking of him as "Kylo" instead of "Ren" or "monster"; further consequences are not to be explored. So she keeps her gazed averted and her words clipped. "Can't you just—go away? Surely you have better things to do, people to conquer, lives to destroy…"
He doesn't respond to the bait. "That's not how this works and you know it."
She does. It's the one thing she knows for sure about this connection: they have no control over it. It terrifies Rey, just as the Force within her used to. Only this time there is nothing she can do to master this power.
Sparks light. Baby flames unfurl in the darkness. Rey tosses more firewood onto them, letting them feed. She can practically feel his eyes roaming over her, taking in her wet clothes and the hair plastered to the back of her neck instead of in buns. "What happened?"
"Don't," she grinds out. The fire is flourishing, hungry orange tongues licking the air, and she turns away to fetch a blanket.
"Don't pretend like you want to know, or that you care. You don't."
Rey pauses in the midst of unfolding the blanket. Bites her lip. Finally relents and glances back at him, and oh, that is such a mistake. The words had sounded challenging, but his face—damn it, there's that raw honesty again. He's genuinely curious, and underlying it is something that seems dangerously close to concern, or sympathy, or some other tender emotion that does not belong on someone like him.
She almost rejects his offer outright. But as she meets his eyes, she remembers overwhelming misery and loss as she cried in front of a mirror. The pain, even now, is so great that it will surely crush her if she doesn't share the burden with someone else.
She remembers how there is no one else for her here; Finn and BB-8 are lightyears away, the locals only tolerate her, and Master Skywalker is a distant teacher. It shames her to feel that way about a legend, but that's what it is. The only one left is Chewie, and...she just doesn't think he'd understand.
But there's someone who may. Ultimately, she remembers the loneliness she'd seen in Kylo's soul, back on Starkiller as she breached his mind, a twin to her own. And it's because of that, that she says, without fighting, "Okay."
He looks pleasantly surprised for a moment, before trying to bury it under a stoic façade. But she sees it. I see you. I see the forlornness. I feel it too.
Rey sits on the log, wrapping the blanket around her, and he follows. The details of his clothes, face, hair, are so striking, it's almost as if he really is there. And—it's a stupid thought, really—that comforts her. It makes her feel a little less alone. She doesn't know how this is going to end, but at least, for now, she has someone who understands.
And as Rey begins to talk, she knows there's no going back.