Because I already have this chapter posted on ao3 too, I figured I should upload this here now.
That night, Rey laid in her bed just staring at the ceiling. The mission would take several days and so for the time being Rey was alone. It was somewhere in the very late hours of the night (or very early hours of the morning, really), and Rey couldn't sleep. Not even close.
Her mind betrayed her and wandered to Ben Solo once again and to all the regret she held. He could help her. Ben could help her. She believed that now. It was just the question of who would bend, because they couldn't be together (in any way, really) as long as they stood on opposite sides of this fight.
But Rey was done with sides. She was exhausted by it all. She had seen more Ben Solo than Kylo Ren by this point, and she wondered if they were really so different after everything was said and done. Maybe she misjudged him when he asked her to come with him. Maybe he really was trying to do a good thing out there taking over from Snoke. He did take him out after all, that had to mean something, didn't it? But it didn't matter because Rey didn't know how to fix this – whatever it was between them, not after all the time she had let pass.
She closed her eyes and laid on her back willing sleep to come, but it wouldn't.
Then the air changed, and she knew, because she'd felt this feeling so many times in the last few months, that this meant Ben was there with her now.
Tired and alone for too long, Rey opened her eyes and looked for him in her small room. It didn't take much searching though. He was right beside her on the bed, laid out on his back, his eyes closed and his hair in his face as he slept.
Rey's heart sped up, and for the first time in months she was looking at him and she let out a shaky breath and just… let herself look at him. It was such a selfish thing to look at him now when he couldn't know that she saw him, that she really did see him too whenever he was seeing her, but she couldn't help it. Whatever reason the Force continued to bring them together, she was taking this chance now to really look at him before she would have to look away again forever (but there was a tug in her chest even at the thought, and she knew, somewhere deep inside that she was lying if she said she would—that she could—lock Ben Solo out again like she had for so long).
His face scrunched up in distress and his limbs twitched, ghosting movement from his dreams. He must have been having a nightmare. Rey frowned and wondered suddenly if he had them often. Just one more way he suffered, and she wasn't there for him (I'll help you she had promised him that day, and yet she turned her back on him and why? Even after he continued to help her see her own truths as ugly as they were, but she never did anything for him, never helped him like she said she would). Rey gently reached over and touched the pads of her fingers to his forehead and smoothed the crinkled lines under her touch. Rey trailed her fingers down his face until she could let her hand rest on his cheek softly. It didn't take long before Ben's whole body seemed to relax, his breathing calming along with the rest of him. (And really that just reminded Rey how unfair this was, this touch, because it was only for her and Ben may never know that she cared about him like he cared about her. But she was selfish, so selfish, because she was done feeling alone and sad, and this touch, as small as it was, was already healing her wounded heart).
Ben sighed softly and leaned into her touch. Rey bit her lip, but she couldn't help the tear that fell from her eye. Why couldn't they just be like this? No light side or dark side, no anything, just together? Rey moved her hand to brush the hair out of Ben's eyes, using her fingers to gently comb it away from his face until she could see his whole expression, slack and peaceful in his slumber.
"Rey…" and it was just the quietest whisper, soft and slurred with sleep, but it broke down the last of Rey's reserves and there were more tears flowing suddenly (And how was it that this was the first time she had looked at him for months? That this was the first time she had touched him?)
"Oh, Ben…" She found herself now cradling his head in her lap, gazing at his face, her hands still in his hair, still brushing it all back and wishing she had made different decisions, that the galaxy were kinder to the two of them a long time ago.
And then his eyes opened in true, and she saw his eyes (really truly saw his eyes) for the first time in months and she smiled through the tears at him (and oh his eyes - they were the same eyes that she felt longing for her for months from across the room a galaxy away, burning her for her sins and lies against him, and now those eyes were looking into her eyes and there was that longing still there and she was seeing it raw and for the first time now with her own eyes, only now there was more to his gaze. Disbelief but hope, caution but desire, and Rey wondered what he saw when he looked into her eyes. She felt her regret, her sorrow, her apology most of all, her plea for forgiveness, and desire, always desire).
"R-Rey?" She knew he must have thought he was still dreaming (because oh, how in nights when she was lonely did she find her own dreams filled with finally going to Ben, or having always gone with him, or having known him forever. Though in the morning when she awoke she forced all feelings from her mind and continued her course of ignoring, never letting herself give into the fantasies her unconscious mind taunted her with).
That was all it took, the sound of his voice so deep and tender in the dim light of the room coupled with the look in his dark, soulful eyes, and suddenly the flood gates were opened and Rey was speaking to him (finally, after months, and she was ashamed that the first words she had to tell him were an apology, but she had to say it now, had dreamed of telling him for so long, in a secret part of herself, in the hopes that he wouldn't hate her forever. That he would still want her after he knew the truth).
"Oh, Ben, I'm so sorry." And when she spoke, she could see the change in his eyes and he knew it was really her, and he was sitting up, and his hand was taking hers in both of his and he was watching her so intensely like he always did, but there was no sorrow here now, just shock and hope (and something else, but Rey dared not try and name it else she was wrong and her whole soul would hurt later on because of it) But now that she had started, Rey couldn't stop talking, and though she loved the color of his eyes (and had they always been that shade of brown?) she had to look away because she couldn't look him in the eyes and admit her shame. "I'm sorry I made you think there was no connection between us."
And then she looked into his eyes, because she had to make sure he understood what she was saying, that she really meant it with all that she was. "It started as just ignoring you and then it just became habit and then you were convinced it was over - that there was no connection left, and I didn't know how to tell you I was here, but Ben, I was always here, and every time I was about to reach out, finally, and tell you how much I…" she didn't know what words she needed here, she wasn't entirely sure what she felt, if she could say it out loud. (But Ben was watching her, and her hand was in his and his lips grazed against her knuckles in a delicate, dangerous way that Rey had never considered she could be touched). She forced herself to look into his eyes again, to be brave, just say it (he would want to hear her say it). "But every time, you were already gone. And now you're here… oh, Ben… please don't disappear now. Please, please, Ben, please…" Her hands were on his face and his shoulders and then he finally reached up and pulled her to him the rest of the way. His arms wound around her, and his face pressed into the crook of her neck (and oh, the sweet way his lips brushed against her skin made her tingle and she wondered if he knew what it was doing to her) and he was crying now too and telling her it didn't matter (mumbling against her skin between kisses to her wherever his lips happened to be, and she wondered why she shut him out for so long, what reason she had for denying herself this comfort of familiarity and love for so long. This belonging.)
None of that mattered anymore, she didn't need to be sorry. Let the past die.
They held each other until the tears were exhausted and there was only this warmth and comfort and fullness between them that came for Rey from finally looking at him again and leaning on him for the emotional support she'd been looking for this whole time.
He held her against him like she would run, like he never wanted to be without her again and when her breathing finally seemed to even out, he whispered her name once more into her neck.
"Rey," Ben pulled back enough to look her in the eyes. Rey got lost in his eyes and intense emotion there for a few moments and there was a warmth that sparked in her chest prompting her to glance down to his lips and back up again (those lips which she still felt like flames on her hands and her neck and her chin where he had dragged them across and…).
"Yes?" She asked quietly, but whatever he was thinking of saying was lost as he looked at her lips and then they were both leaning in and his lips were on hers and it was nothing like she could have imagined, but it was somehow better than everything and it was all she could do to pull him closer.
"Ben," she gasped between kisses when she got the chance and suddenly he was gazing into her eyes again and his gaze was so electric, and she felt like he could see into her soul. She couldn't look away (and she never really wanted to).
"Oh, Rey…" And he kissed her cheeks and her nose, and he seemed to be distracted momentarily by mapping her face with kisses. "I missed you, Rey." And then he made his way to one of her ears and he whispered sweetly and so softly, that it caused a shiver to run through her, "I missed the sound of your voice."
"I missed you too." And it was true, though her throat was tight because she knew it was her own fault that she missed him, though she never would have thought in the beginning that she could miss him, yet she did. And even now in his arms she still missed him. It ached that he was so far away, so far out of reach despite the fact that she could feel him here in her arms. "I felt so alone."
"I never left." He leaned his forehead against hers and his eyes were still locked on hers intensely for a moment and then he was kissing her again, and she was kissing him back with a matching passion and the hole that she once felt was so empty in her chest was filled with a blazing furnace and she found he was like oxygen, adding more to the fire and it burned brighter and hotter the more she touched him.
And then, like it always did, the connection ended, suddenly and without warning and where one moment she was wrapped in the arms of Ben Solo, the very next Rey was surrounded by nothing and there was only cold air and the draft from the vents in her arms and she was alone again.
But something was different now, and the aching in her heart was gone and replaced by a different kind of ache somewhere else. The Force sat within her stronger than it had before, and she didn't feel alone anymore (you're not alone), and although Ben was gone again for a while, Rey had this light sense of optimism in her chest that felt like a promise.
It was a feeling Rey decided she didn't want to ignore. In fact, she found she didn't want to ignore any of her feelings anymore. She was done with that part of her life. Even if she was hungry or thirsty or lonely or if it was too hot outside or too cold or she couldn't find it in her to sleep… she didn't want to ignore what she was feeling anymore.
She finally wanted to just let it all go. The habit of ignoring may have been necessary for her to survive all those years in the Jakku desert, but those days were dead and gone now, and she needed to let it live in the past and die in the present (kill it, if you have to). She wasn't the same girl as she was back then.
Admitting this to herself lifted another enormous weight off her shoulders.
Rey admitted to herself that she had probably wrong about Ben that day on the Supremacy (that day when they fought back to back and took down what seemed like every obstacle in the way of their being together). She probably should have just taken his hand all that time ago (and maybe it wouldn't have been easy, but Rey thinks there must have been some way that she could have been by his side to help him make the decisions he faced because he was actually in power to influence the tide of things in this war, in the whole galaxy, maybe. Maybe with the title of Supreme Leader and an equal to help him in his decisions they could have started something better for the galaxy just like he said. Maybe she shouldn't have been so afraid of everything he was suggesting then, but she hadn't been ready, not like she was now). Now she just had to figure out how they could reconcile because she couldn't imagine one more day where she had to ignore the fact that…
Well, that she was in love with him and she wanted to be with him, be by his side (and maybe she always did want to be with him, but she wasn't willing then to think about what he wanted and why those things could have been just as valid as what she wanted).
But now she wanted to know what he wanted. She was ready to listen to him now, more than she ever had been before, and she wanted to try and figure out how they could meet somewhere in the middle with their desires and be together (and maybe that was going to be the hardest part because now it had been months since that day on the Supremacy and although it was true that Leia still wanted her son back just as much as Rey wanted to be with Ben, was it even possible that he could just come back to them? Because nobody would trust him, and it would take years and a lifetime before some people would probably even treat him civilly because of the things that he'd done).
And despite the whirlwind of thoughts in her mind, Rey felt herself finally falling asleep, basking in the glowing feeling that filled her heart and spread through to her whole body and soul, keeping her warm in her dreams of eyes that look at her like she was glorious and everything.
When the sun rose, and Rey finally woke up again, Rey still felt strong in the Force like she had when she fell asleep, and just as she let her thoughts wander to Ben there was a pull in her heart somewhere and he suddenly appeared again as if he had been there the whole time, sitting on the edge of her bed. But it was different this time when they connected. It wasn't unexpected like it always was before, she felt as if she had drawn him to her somehow. Like she was in control. Ben turned his head and caught sight of her and he seemed surprised, but his expression quickly melted into something much deeper, something so meaningful and Rey felt her stomach flip at what it might mean.
"Did… did I do that?" Rey asked in shock, her gaze still caught in the emotion of his eyes. The look on his face told her the story of a hundred days of loneliness, desperation, and explained the endless stream of longing looks and why they never went away despite his broken hope that she might even meet his eyes.
"You mean… this whole time?" Ben glanced down at his hands and then back up at her again. He seemed shy, reserved, like he was afraid she would take back everything she said and did from the previous night and ignore him again now that it was morning and the sun was shining on their faces baring their kisses in the night like blood red sins that she would scorn him for and ignore him once again because of it (but she couldn't ignore him, not anymore).
He was looking at his hands in his lap, his shoulders hunched forward as if he were confessing all of his worst sins to her and couldn't look her in the eye. "I had to see you, even if I thought you couldn't see me too." He looked up at her and it seemed like he wanted to reach out, she could see it in his eyes, but he held himself back (and Rey wondered if she had rejected his offers too many times for him to trust her to accept him now despite the way she clung to him so desperately just hours before, wishing those few minutes with him then could have been hours). Then Ben was looking back down at his hands and heaving a big breath. "It was an accident the first few times I used the Force to see you, and after that I just couldn't stay away." (and she understood that, because she didn't think she could stay away from him now either). Ben had been the one initiating all the contact they had been having the past few months, even after he thought she was blind to him, and the revelation shook Rey to her core.
Ben was avoiding her gaze, looking down at his lap like she would be angry at him and he was waiting for her to do something, scold him? Yell? But Rey wasn't angry. He tortured himself with seeing her? Spent day after day reaching out, pulling her to him just to see her face even though he thought it was hopeless?
Rey opened her mouth, but found her throat choked with emotion (oh, how could she have done this for so long? Because while he tortured himself with seeing her, she tortured them both a thousand times again by pretending none of it was real). Rey reached out to him, one hand on his shoulder and the other lifting his chin so she could look into his eyes. "Ben?" He looked miserable, and his eyes pled with her silently and Rey was struck by the realization that he was at her mercy. He didn't expect anything from her after she denied him for so long, he would let her do what she wanted even if that meant not being with him. She hated that this was her fault, this distance between them (how different things could have been). She was the only one who could fix this. He had already been doing all he could, and it had been her shutting him out time and time again. "I know I hurt you, pretending you weren't there for so long, but believe me, there's nothing I regret more than shutting you out. I shouldn't have done it, I—"
"It's okay, Rey." He cut her off, his voice surprisingly biting (and was that the tone she'd heard from him before when she had called him Kylo Ren?), pulling away from her touch like he was ashamed. "You've said it before and it's true: I'm a monster. You don't have to explain yourself." He stood up, taking a few steps away from her into the room. There was pain and regret in the heavy set of his shoulders and Rey wanted to stop him from walking away, but she didn't know how after she had pushed him away for so long. She had no right to force him into anything after what she did (but a quiet part of her was stinging at this rejection and wondered why today they were so disconnected when last night Ben had hugged her so tightly and told her he didn't care that she ignored him or why because she was there now. Well what about now when she was here again?).
"But, Ben… that's just it," Rey stood and purposefully followed his steps until she stood slightly back from him. "You are a monster. You've done awful things and hurt people, even people I love, and yes, you're a monster. But not to me." He was watching her now (and he must know that those were his own words thrown back at him, just as true here as they were for Rey then). "You've made bad choices, we all have in some ways, but you're not a bad person, Ben." He looked away as she said this and she watched his shoulders rise and fall in a deep breath (maybe he would see that she was right, that he didn't have to be a monster just because of his past) "I've seen you these past months and –"
"Don't say that." He turned to face her, his eyes meeting hers again, and where before there was only pain, now there was anger in them too, hiding the hurt Rey knew must still be there.
Rey stopped short, her mouth hanging slightly open, unsure what she said to make him flip like he did. "Ben?"
He shook his head in disbelief. "You said you'd 'seen me'. Rey, until yesterday—" his voice broke and he was softer again, some of the anger melting back to pain in his eyes. "—you didn't look at me for months." When he said it out loud it became more real than it ever was before, and Rey felt her chest tighten, her eyes water and she looked at the floor unsure what else she could do or say. She thought after yesterday things would be okay (the way he held her, spoke to her, kissed her, it had all felt like a promise, and now she felt betrayed, like he broke that promise), but apparently something changed overnight and suddenly Rey wondered if this was even Ben in front of her still.
"I know…" Rey looked up at him through her tears. "But I'm here, now, and no matter what you do, I'm not leaving this time." She set her jaw tight, staring him down. He had every right to be upset at her, but running now would never solve this (and despite the awful way her heart ached at this whole conversation she knew she still wanted to make this work with him. For better or for worse, Rey wanted to be with Ben Solo).
That made Kylo stop short and though there was still pain and anger in his gaze, something else surfaced at her words (desire, but oh, how his anger mixed with that desire… the passion and heat, he was raw emotions when he was with her and she barely knew what to do with all that he showed her through his eyes). And maybe she saw Ben start to reach out to her, like he was going to do something impulsive and dangerous (and Rey felt her heartbeat quicken in anticipation and she hoped he would touch her, that he could see that she was really here to stay, that she really was sorry) But before anything could happen (before Rey knew for sure that Ben – and wasn't he acting like Kylo right now? What was with that? – really was reaching for her to make amends with her and not lash out somewhere in anger), the force disconnected them and Rey was alone again (and maybe now she knew what she wanted but she was more confused than ever about where she stood with Ben).
"Oh, kriff it all." Rey let out a shuddering breath and fell back on her bed behind her.
(The closer she got to him, the further away he seemed and right now he might as well have been in another universe.)
Despite all the did the night before and even this morning, it wasn't enough yet to have Ben Solo hold her just to hold her. She hugged her arms to her chest and sighed, feeling the ache in her chest as her still-quickly-beating heart returned to normal.
She would just have to be persistent now, like he had been all those months, it was the least she could do.
After all, the way he changed overnight told Rey there was a lot more going on inside of Ben than she knew. She could help him (she had already promised him that when they were on the Supremacy together). She would help him.
He just had to let her in now.
And that was hypocritical when she brushed him off for so long, but Rey never claimed to be perfect, and it wasn't like he was either (and so once again, their pain was reflected in the other, and her imperfections fit his and they would stand together like she saw, she knew it).
A/N: I tried to give this a happy resolve right here, but neither of them would stop fighting, so instead of the happiness they BOTH WANT, I was stuck writing even more angst. Thanks, Kylo *sigh* but really, this is the way it had to be. Ben is upsetti spaghetti :(
Thanks for reading, drop me a review ;)