She saw his worst nightmare.
Ben gasped, staring at the girl before him.
Rey saw him kill his father.
His blood ran cold. Her words was tearing open his never healed wound, bringing him back to that cursed night, when he let go of his past, ending Ben Solo's life in the meantime.
He felt as if underwater, trying to catch his breathe, lost his ability to move or speak.
The first emotion he had felt in a long time was, not unexpectedly, guilt.
That night, they were standing on the roof, waiting for the shuttle. The trainers would use the Newbies' first assignment to familiarize them with the whole procedure.
Unless they didn't survive this time, the practice would always benefit them in their next ones.
It wasn't uncommon for Reboots to die during their first assignment.
Ben hadn't been exchanging any word with Rey since the incident in the training room. The dark part of him thought briefly of destroying her for bringing up his past, but the idea was soon took over by even deeper guilt.
Ben didn't like her for triggering his emotions.
Rey ninety-seven was standing next to him, her hands nervously gripping the bottom of her black jacket. Her breath was uneven, and the serious look on her face was not doing so good at hiding her anxiety.
Certain he couldn't be feeling protective of Rey ninety-seven.
"Don't be afraid. I feel it too." Ben said without thinking twice, breaking the silence. Then, coming to realization of what he was saying, warmth creeped onto his face. Apparently Rey caught his moment of unease, because an emotion that could almost be described as understanding appeared in her beautiful hazel eyes.
He certainly didn't want to describe her eyes as beautiful. He must have been admiring the strength and determination, which brightened her eyes, making her seem like a spark in the dark.
"You are lying." She said, her attention fully occupied by the arriving shuttle. The air around them started moving as the vehicle approached. "You, Kylo one-eighty-three, doesn't feel. And I am not afraid."
He almost smirked, amused by her feigned bravery. "We all know who's a bigger liar, ninety-seven."
Rey pressed her lips into a thin line before she spoke again. "Well, at least one of my statements is true. "
She turned around to look at him. He felt bare before her, like she could see through his s-
No, Ben Solo no longer had a soul. He was hardly a vessel of inflicting memories and long buried terror.
Her gaze lingered on his face for a moment longer. "Can't you just call me Rey?"her tone was lighter than usual. Some hair were dancing beside her face in the airstream.
Ben couldn't help but lean towards her, reach out and tuck it behind her ear.
They both froze.
Ben was usually very good at concealing his feelings.
He almost lost control this time, though.
He was expecting a disgusted look from Rey. No one wanted to have skin-to-skin contact with one-eighty-three. Surely they wouldn't want to be touched by a walking corpse.
Rey's cheek slightly flushed, but she wasn't shown to be humiliated or disgusted. If she did feel so internally, she didn't let it show.
Ben's hand dropped to his sides.
"Alright, Rey. Let's aboard the shuttle. "
Rey couldn't stop replaying the moment ih her head, and by that she was very irritated.
A simple action of caring.
She didn't know he could probably care about anyone other than herself.
Her mind wandered to his cold fingers brushing against her auricle, him being so close that she could feel his shallow breath. It was a thing much too human of Kylo one-eighty-three to do.
She tried to shift her attention to something more important. The first thing that came into her mind was the assignment.
Right. The assignment.
"Tell me about our assignment. "She said to Kylo, who was sitting beside her. Too close. Rey suddenly felt a little uncomfortable, so she moved in her seat, putting more distance between them.
Although a part of her, unreasonably, had wanted the opposite.
"Eric Smith. -five. Charged with murder. The victim is his own 7-year-old child, who rebooted one month prior. "
Rey sensed a hint of rage in his voice. The sudden burst of emotion brought some life onto his skin, that at that moment, Rey almost forgot who he was.
She almost .
She wasn't sure what had angered him until she thought about his past.
Someone stabbed him straight through the chest when he was fourteen.
That would do it.
"Who did it?"She spoke her thoughts, then immediately regretted it. She thought back to his threat before, all her conflicting feelings for the boy crumbled. Kylo Ren was a monster, a murderous snake, a creature in the mask, and his death wouldn't make his crimes against ethics forgivable.
"Who did what? "
"Never mind. "the shuttle slanted to the left, the whole vehicle shaked hard. The light above them flickered a few times before it went totally dark. HARC got their transport as part of the trophy from the battle against Reboots, therefore the shuttles were a bit aged and small problems like this sometimes occurred.
The hair on Rey's back stood as she thought about sitting next to Kylo one-eighty-twhen in the darkness. She laced her fingers together, hoping the lights to come back on soon.
The safety belt was too loose to keep Rey in her seat. Her position changed as the ship jolted again, this time her head bumped on something hard.
She reached out blindly to examine the thing she bumped onto, her hand landed on fabric. The texture was familiar, typical chemical fiber that all the Reboots wore. She adjusted her posture to let her fingers travel upwards…
Until she touched flesh. Cold as marble.
And she felt a heartbeat. Steady, slowly, like a distant thunder.
And a strand of smooth curly hair.
Rey retrieved her hand as if it would be set on fire within another skin contact. She gripped her safety belt and tried to sat upright.
"I'm not going to the showers with you, in case you're wondering. "His whisper exploded in her ear, his tone teasing and sarcastic.
"You are thinking so low of me for assuming that i would ever want to touch a murderer like you. "
Far too intimate.
He hated the ridiculous warm feeling swiveling in his stomach when she playfully-or maybe accidentally-touched his hair. He hated his wordlessness when he clearly had to say something to stop her from influencing him like that. He hated how attracted he felt towards her, like an animal instinct.
Her words, though, inflicted him more than everything.
He knew it was the truth. No one would want to touch Kylo one-eighty-three.
He was no better than a walking dead.
A pregnant, annoying silence filled the space between them once again as they exit the shuttle. The sounds of boots colliding with the solid pavement formed an ordered, pleasant rhythm made his mood a bit lighter.
He didn't have moods. He reminded himself. He needed to focus on the assignment.
He glanced at the other trainers and their newbies. Kaydel was lecturing Poe Dameron seventy-three on something, judging from her serious expression.
He remembered seventy-three's name only because his trainee seemed to be in a good relationship with that guy. He felt a bit envy of Rey for her ability making friends.
No one had wanted to befriend Kylo one-eighty-three.
"Can you read the map?"Kylo took out a map of Austin from his pocket, then unfolded it in front of her. She struggled to make out the lines under the dim light of the street lamps. Reboots' eyes were more sensitive than the humans', but their pupils still spent a rather long time adjusting to the darkness.
"Yes. "It took her a few seconds to decide. When she was back in Rosa, maps were one of the necessities if you didn't want to lost your way among the destructed buildings. However, after she had memorized a map of her living area in her mind, the tool was used less often. She didn't forget all about it, though, just a bit out-of-practice.
"His house is here. Head north. "Kylo pointed to a red dot on that map and instructed her to head in another direction. Rey shot him a grateful glance, only to remember that he wasn't her friend. He was barely a mission partner. Mostly a trainer.
She shoved the jumbled thoughts aside, running forward. She amazed herself by the incredible speed, which she hoped she'd possessed as a human who had to run from danger more often.
"Don't waste too much of your energy. "Kylo warned her from behind, his voice muffled by the helmet. Rey took his advice and slowed down.
There were no games to play with your own life, after all. A useful suggestion ought to be taken, even the one who brought it up wasn't even worth of respect.
Suddenly he grabbed her hand, making hee come toa dead halt. "There it is. "
Eric Smith, their assignment, had a house of his own. It was one of the ugly bungalows lining the street. Judging from the outside, the wooden house was only next to falling apart.
Rey wrinkled her nose at the smell. It reminded her of the days in Rosa, her hometown. She lived in what was left of an old vehicle that could no longer be identified as anything other than garbage. The smell of sickness and death never stopped haunting her even if she had covered her head with the holed blanket.
She hated that life. Hated being wary throughout the night, hated worrying about her safety, hated having to work hard for barely subsisting.
And now when she finally earned herself a life more than survival, HARC was throwing her back onto the streets. Panic penetrated her bones, urging her to scream.
She needed to focus on the assignment.
She tightened her grip on the gun, feeling the weight of it in her hand.
Kylo knocked on the door to Eric's house.
"An act of respecting human rights. "He explained. The claim was too absurd to be heard in Kylo's voice that Rey wanted to laugh.
"Very nice of HARC to have such regulations. "She commented. He turned to stare at her with a confusing look in his eyes before raising a hand and counted one to five.
He kicked the door open at "Five", revealing a few furnitures backed against the door. They were too weak a blockage for a Reboot, not to mention the strongest one.
Rey followed him in, heart pounding in her ears. She jumped at the slightest sounds as she paced on the cracked wooden floor, suppressing the desire to scream.
"Eric Smith, "Kylo shouted, startling Rey. "HARC knew what you had done. Maybe you'd prefer to-"
Rey closed her eyes, expecting the pain that never came.