Baseball prom and the end. Mostly.
Thanks as always to my beta reader/best friend skyeryder01. If you've stuck around this long, I'm sorry for the wait. I hope you enjoy the corny ending (because let's be real these two *have* to have a corny ending, amirite?)
Mild TW for this chapter, so see end notes for more details.
Other than an upcoming epilogue, and any other random epilogues that may tickle my fancy, our story is complete. Thanks for following along.
A New Day
Leia's friend Chester is a tall, thin, very bald, very bronzed man who has seen the business end of a Botox needle one too many times. He is fidgety, fretful, and has an annoying tendency to spout random facts, but Leia trusts him with her wardrobe, so Rey will as well.
So she has found herself in Leia's palatial dressing room. I should have expected as much , Rey thinks as she takes in the room that is probably the size of her entire house, garage included. Shelves of shoes and bags line the walls, with racks of clothing separated by style and color on the opposite side. Full length, gilt-framed mirrors reflect her unusually pale face back at her alongside Leia's serene one and Chester's shiny one. And there are not one, but three small crystal chandeliers.
"Just relax and enjoy yourself," Chester says. "This is my favorite part of the ball!"
But she finds that rather difficult when the man comes at her with an armful of dresses and an impossibly high stack of shoe boxes in his other hand. "And of course we'll schedule a full spa treatment, nails, waxing, hair, the works." Rey winces at 'the works'.
Leia, who had joined them in the dressing room, winks at Rey, toasting silently with her ever-present glass of champagne. Rey snorts as Chester unloads his burdens, deftly removing the velvet-flocked hangers from the length of his arm to the metal clothes rack and stacking the shoe boxes beneath.
This is her Cinderella moment, Rey realizes as Chester claps his hands together gleefully. She has married the prince, and now she has to go to the ball.
Or wait - was that backwards?
Months ago, when Ben had told her about what she'd jokingly called baseball prom, the idea had sounded fun - dressing up, drinking, dancing. Now that the time for the infamous Organa-Solo Major League Charity Ball, with all proceeds going to local inner-city youth leagues, has come, Rey finds that she is unbelievably nervous.
This is her first event as a Solo, and the name Solo means something in baseball land.
Ben is essentially descended from sports royalty, hell he is sports royalty, and when it comes down to it, Rey is just the nobody girl from Jakku House who married into this dynasty. It really is a Cinderella story, she thinks, taking a huge gulp from her own glass of champagne.
"Just call me Cindereylla," she mutters into the glass, then snorts, the bubbles burning her nose.
Concern flashes across Leia's face.
"What was that dear?"
Briefly, Rey considers making an excuse or flat-out lying. But Leia has done so much for her that Rey knows the guilt would be overwhelming.
"Just call me Cindereyla," she repeats, sliding further down into her chair. "It's just - it's a bit overwhelming. All of this." Waving around generally at the room, Rey stares down at the scuffed toes of her sneakers. In stark contrast to the impeccable floor, which inexplicably looks like gold that has been spun into carpet, Rey starts to tuck her feet under her bum, but then she'd probably ruin the chair, so she crosses her ankles awkwardly, trying to avoid Chester's golden gaze. "Sometimes… sometimes I don't feel good enough for Ben. We just come from different places, you know? I'm just a nobody from nowhere, and he's Ben Solo , professional baseball player, his whole family is rich and famous. I just don't know that I fit in with…this." Rey waves her hand generally at the soft lighting and full length mirrors of the dressing room. "I just…what if I do or say something to embarrass him at the charity ball? I've never been to a charity event and I can't remember the order of the silverware and I've never even used silverware that was actual silver and I just—" she breaks off.
"I'm not going to tell you that you don't come from different worlds, because you do. Very different."
Despite the softness of Leia's voice, Rey feels her face start to crumple, but Leia puts up one finger. She isn't finished.
"But that's a good thing. Did anyone ever tell you that Han lived in his car before he was signed?"
Shaking her head, Rey feels her eyes grow wide in surprise.
"He did. He had lost his scholarship due to poor academics, and decided to be a free agent in the next draft. Before he played ball in college, he lived with his dad in a tiny silver gulf stream until he was seventeen and his dad up and left while he was in school. He couch surfed for a year and no one realized, not his coaches or teachers or friends. And then when he got his scholarship to Corellia, he focused too much on baseball that he let his classes fall to the wayside, and he lost his scholarship before his second year. So he lived in that beat up old clunker for a few months and somehow managed to impress the coaches at his try-out.
"And then I met him." Crossing over to the bar cart, Leia refills her glass and Rey's as well. "When I met him, I was hotheaded and ready to make a name for myself or have someone buy it for me, and he was some hotshot who might as well have been from a different planet and broke all my rules. He took me on dates to dollar movie matinees and two-for-one street-cart hot dogs, walks in the park. Nothing like the wining and dining I was used to. I was a spoiled princess with no real-world experience, and he was a scoundrel with too much. We taught each other a lot, you know. Just like you and Ben have. I guarantee that boy never would have seen himself being a father to three children. But you gave him that, something he didn't even know he needed. And him, well, he gave you the complete family that you needed.
"So I don't want to hear about not good enough or whatever bullshit. You're going to have a lovely gown because I am buying one for you—"
"Oh, no, Leia—" Rey tries to interrupt, but her mother-in-law is having none of it.
"I am buying you a gown, Rey. I'd buy you the moon for how happy you've made my son, and for bringing him back into our lives. And don't even get me started on three grandchildren where we thought we wouldn't even have one. So please, let me do this for you, Rey. Let me buy you a ridiculous gown that will knock my silly son off his feet. Let me say thank you the best way I know how."
Silver lines Leia's eyes, and Rey's own are burning as she shoves herself out of the chair and practically into the older woman's lap.
Chester, who had busied himself behind the clothes rack during Rey and Leia's heart-to-heart lets out a sob and throws his arms around both women.
"Oh I just love the mentor-mentee soul searching dynamic we've got going on here," he says with a sniffle.
Over his head, Leia and Rey make eye contact and grin.
A sense of unease settles over Ben as he returns home after depositing Jacen, Jaina, and Alema off with Rose and Kay. Like something just out of sight, or a non-existent wind raising the hairs on the back of his neck.
All day, really, he's felt off. But he can't quite place his finger on it and chalks it up to nerves.
He plans to announce his retirement soon, and maybe he's just nervous about letting it slip at the ball. He shoves his hand through his hair. Nervous, that's totally it.
It makes sense.
It doesn't .
But Ben reminds himself that there's no accounting for what makes someone anxious, so he imagines what Rey would tell him.
"Deep breath. In…good, hold it. Now out."
So he does. In, out, just like she's taught him. It helps ease the tension that has his shoulders creeping up toward his ears, but he still can't shake the feeling of unease.
Eventually, he just shoves his earbuds in to try to ignore the feeling and goes about his preparations for the charity ball; retrieving his tuxedo from the dry cleaner and chuckling as he imagines Leia's shriek of horror at his procrastination. After showering, he pulls out his arsenal of hair products, and for the thousandth time, laments Rey's bargain bin hair dryer and what was probably a decade old hairbrush. Somehow his own dryer and brushes had disappeared during his transition from his apartment to Rey's house. Each time he bemoaned her lack of adequate styling gear, Rey laughed and teased him about his regimen. But she can never stop herself from running her fingers through his hair or commenting on how soft it is, so he is obviously not going to stop.
Once his hair is coiffed to his liking, Ben carefully loads his tux into the back of the Silencer, casting wary glances around. Again, that feeling of being watched. Prickles of unease skitter across his skin, but nothing looks out of the ordinary. As quickly as he can without actually peeling out of the driveway, Ben backs out and drives to his parent's home to finish prepping for the gala.
Thundering bass reverberates through the speakers of his car, and the knot between his shoulder blades eases slightly. Cracking his neck at a stoplight, Ben sees a small, dark vehicle in his rearview mirror. It's vaguely familiar, though he can't place why, and the hair on the back of his neck prickles. When the light turns green, the car rides his bumper for several minutes before taking a tiny opening to speed around him and cut him off before burning rubber to get away. The windows are nearly completely blacked out, so he can't see the driver.
Ben hollers that the driver is a fucking asshole and feels slightly appeased.
When he finally arrives at the Organa-Solo domicile, the incident is all but forgotten. Han is the first to greet him, shoving a low ball glass of whiskey, neat, into his hands.
"Just trust me," Han says, raising his glass in a half-salute.
Ben downs the glass in one go, relishing the burn of the alcohol as it eased his anxiety. But only slightly. Silently, he holds the glass out to Han, earning him a raised eyebrow before his father gestures for Ben to follow him. Together, they go to the liquor cabinet where both Ben and Han's glasses are refilled. Double, this time.
"That bad, huh?" Ben asks after a sip of the bourbon.
"I can smell the hairspray from here." Han winces. "I'm still worried that Chester will come after me with that shit."
Ben choked on his sip of bourbon and let out a hacking cough as the alcohol burned his throat. Han eyed his son's hair.
"Not that he needs to come after you with it," Han jokes with a wink.
" Some of us don't enjoy looking scruffy," Ben says, rolling his eyes. "Do you know how long they'll be?"
"Not a clue," Han replies, peering upward, toward the second floor that was mainly taken over with Leia's closets and dressing room.
"Should I…" Ben trails off, also staring up at the ceiling.
"Not if you value your safety. The last time I checked in on them, about an hour ago, Chester threatened me with tweezers and moisturizer." With a shudder, Han drains his glass.
Chuckling, Ben mirrors the movement, then sets his glass on the sideboard. Maybe it's the whiskey, or some weird masochistic curiosity, but he retrieves his tux from the coatrack near the door and heads up the stairs in search of his wife.
Soft piano music trickles down the stairs, along with a flowery scent he associates with Leia, and Ben pauses, praying to whatever gods that Chester hasn't doused Rey in the same perfume his mother wears. Gods. He'll be scarred for life if that were the case.
He is reaching for the doorknob when it's wrenched open from the other side and a shiny, bronzed pate pokes out.
"Go on, you. She'll be ready soon." Chester waves his manicured fingers in Ben's face before pointing behind him at the stairwell.
Following orders, and swearing under his breath, Ben turns back to the stairs, but goes up instead of down, heading to the library.
He's picked up and put down roughly a dozen books and eventually gone downstairs to change into his tux and is currently brooding silently on an overly formal sofa when the door opens. He's left the overhead lights off, with the only light in the room coming from a small lamp that's now blocked by the newly opened door and the flood of light from the hallway.
The soft yellow light in the hallway show casts Rey in a silhouette while hiding her face. He can't see what she's wearing, but the outline of her body is sinful.
And then she steps out of the light and into the duskiness of the room. As his vision adjusts again, Ben realizes that sin was indeed the correct word. Her hair is neatly pinned to fall over one shoulder, with a single wave nearly hiding one eye. Her eyes are lined with a black that is much more dramatic than her usual soft brown, and as such completely changes the angle and color of her eyes. And her lips…
Her lips are dark red, nearly black, like liquid sin has been painted on her mouth. And Ben can only think of that pretty mouth wrapped around his cock.
"Ahem," Rey clears her throat pointedly, and Ben's ears burn.
"Thank you. I think." She chuckles nervously, taking a step forward so that he can see the dress.
Black velvet skims over her arms and to the floor, draping around her almost demurely. But the cut of the dress is anything but demure. The bodice falls over her breasts in a deep vee, with soft golden flesh and just the hint of the curve of her breasts peeking from beneath the soft black fabric. As she takes another step forward, the dress falls open to reveal a slit nearly to her hip, and Ben nearly swallows his tongue. From the way his eyes can trace the soft roundness of her breasts down to the flare of her hips and lower, he can tell she wears nothing beneath.
"Fuck, Rey," he rasps out.
"You said that already."
"Yeah, but it's accurate. You look…fuck." Normally, he prides himself on being fairly articulate for a large professional athlete, but the sight of his wife in his signature color has rendered him a speechless caveman.
"You like it?," Rey asks, reaching up, seemingly to touch her hair but stopping her hand halfway.
"Like it?" Ben asks and closes the distance between them and smooths his hand over her waist. His fingers brush over bare skin on her back, and he has to remind himself to breathe, and not to shove her up against the bookshelves and ruck the skirt up around her waist and—
"I feel…stressed," she says and ducks her head.
"If it makes you feel better, I feel stressed too." Ben focuses on rubbing small circles on her back and not sliding his hand beneath the fabric. Until she lets out a soft little sound as his fingers roam over a spot in her back where she's usually tense. And then he gets an idea. Slowly, he leans back just enough that he's looking down at her, and gods , the view down the front of her dress is incredible.
Drawing his hands around to rest on her hips, he leans down and brushes his lips over her painted ones. Almost instantly, he feels her body loosen in his hands and he slowly traces his hands up and over her ribs to rest just beneath her breasts. As her mouth opens to his, he slowly brushes his thumbs over her velvet-covered nipples, and she arches closer to him, burying her hands in his hair. She turns her head in invitation, and Ben presses his lips to the soft skin beneath her ear before following the line of her throat and biting lightly at her collarbone. Chest heaving beneath him, Rey gasps as Ben dips his head lower, kissing over the curve of her breast that the dress revealed.
"This is in the way," he growls against her skin as he slides his fingers under the soft black fabric and pushes it back to bare her nipple. In the near-dark he couldn't see the dusky pink skin, but his body knew hers so well that his mouth was able to close over the small bud without him needing to see it.
"I thought you were stressed," she gasps as his teeth scrape over her nipple, tugging the flesh tighter.
"Helping you relax helps me relax," he whispers into her skin, and she moans as his free hand bares her other nipple to roll between his thumb and forefinger. Returning his mouth to hers, he gently pushes her back toward the nearest bookshelf until her back is pressed against it. Tracing his hands over her torso to her shoulders, he pushes the upper sleeves of the gown down over her shoulders to fully bare her breasts. Ben hummed in satisfaction to see her half-bared and half-clothed in the formal gown. Working one hand down the length of her body, Ben finds the high slit of her dress and slowly hooks his fingers into it, tugging the fabric upward past her hip.
He'd known she wasn't wearing anything underneath but seeing the lack of it does something to him, especially the fact that she's completely bare.
"Fuck, Rey." He drags his eyes away from her sweet, smooth pussy to her face. Her eyes are glazed and her mouth is open in a pant.
"You said that already," she says on a gasp as Ben presses his fingers between her legs, slipping into her soft, damp heat.
"Would it make you happy if I said 'goddamnit' instead?" he grunts. "Because goddamn, Rey. This dress is… you are amazing." Burying his face against her neck, he sinks a finger into her cleft, drawing her wetness up and over her swollen clit. His name is a whimper on Rey's lips as he traces a small circle into the tight nub. Opening her legs further, Rey hooks one ankle behind him to pull him closer while her hands reach between them to deftly undo his belt and shove his pants down enough to free the erection that he's been dutifully ignoring in order to bring his wife pleasure.
He can no longer ignore it as she wraps her hand around him, stroking and flicking her thumb over the tip, before canting her hips forward to stroke herself using his cock. Until she seems to lose herself entirely and pushes down hard enough that she fully sheathes him inside her. Their heads fall back in unison with matching groans leaving their lips.
"Ben, we have to hurry." Her hips push against him, and he needs no further encouragement. Wrapping his hands around her hips, Ben rocks into her, pressing her back into the bookshelf.
How convenient that the shelf she rested on was the perfect height for fucking.
Through his shirt, Ben can feel Rey's nails scratching at his back, and he fucks her harder, primal sounds leaving both their mouths with each stroke. When her inner muscles start contracting against him, Ben holds her tighter and slams his cock into her so hard he knows it has to hurt, but her eyes roll back and her head falls against the shelf behind her as her legs squeeze tight around him. With a grunt, Ben empties himself inside her, shuddering as he falls over her, catching himself with one hand braced on the shelf beside her. Once they both catch their breath, he leans back and grins down at her.
"Do you feel less stressed?" he asks, hooking a finger into the neckline of the dress, tugging it into place with an extra brush over her nipple for good measure. She huffs a laugh.
"Mmm…and considerably more fucked." She smiles softly, adjusting her dress. "I love you." She stands on her toes to press a kiss to his lips, which is fairly chaste considering that they'd just fucked against a bookshelf with the door open, no less.
"You're welcome. Stay here and I'll get something to help you clean up."
"And have Chester come in while I have cum dripping down my thighs? No thanks." Snorting, she follows him to the nearest bathroom where, after he'd finished cleaning her, he'd spent a lamentably short quarter of an hour with her propped on the marble countertop and his head between her legs.
When they finally emerged back downstairs, holding hands and grinning like idiots, they found the rest of the house empty and a note taped to his phone.
Leave it to Leia to write a note and leave it on his phone rather than send a text.
"Well, they left us, but a car should be here…now?"
"Nice timing," Rey chuckles. "Let's get this over with."
The ride to the gala is uneventful, if a bit handsy, but the moment they emerge from the car, that odd sense of being watched falls over him again. Beside him, Rey shudders.
With her brows furrowed, she nods.
"I feel it too." Her hazel eyes peer up at him with concern, and Ben wraps an arm over her shoulder and pulls her into his side as if he can protect her from whatever is coming.
Thunderous heartbeats sound in Rey's ears as she and Ben step forward through the double glass doors that are being held open for them. Inside, the amount of noise is constant and calming, in a way. At least it drowns out the rapidity of her pulse and doesn't leave any room for intrusive thoughts.
Out of nowhere, Poe and Finn appear before her. Poe is dressed in a surprisingly standard tuxedo, and the couple are incredibly dashing with their matching First Order Red ties.
"Hey, Peanut," Finn says, throwing his arms around her. A calm, different from that she feels from being with Ben, settles over her as she hugs him back. "You clean up nice!" He holds her at arms length, eyeing her appreciatively. When she meets his eyes, a lot of unspoken words pass between them, and Rey knows he's thinking of their shared past and where they've found themselves now.
"You don't look too bad, either," Rey says, squeezing his hand and blinking back tears.
"What about me?" Poe pouts, dramatically fluttering his lashes before sticking his hands in his jacket pockets to spread them and spinning around.
"You know you look hot." Finn wraps his hand around Poe's wrist, sliding his hand down and twining their fingers together. "Which I have already six, now seven times. You don't have to fish for compliments, babe."
Rey laughs as Poe stomps a foot in mock indignation, but the slight feeling of unease remains in her chest.
"I was aiming for ten," Poe grouses.
Ben, who has paid attention to precisely none of the conversation, peers at them in confusion.
"Ten what? Drinks?"
"No, but that's a good idea too!" A waiter passes by with a tray of champagne glasses, and Poe flags him down, shoving the delicate glassware into Finn, Rey, and Ben's hands.
Champagne glass in hand, Rey reminds herself to breathe and take in the glamorous party. The massive open space is filled with hundreds of people in formal clothing. Some, like Finn and Poe, sport fashion in their teams' colors. The room has pockets of the same colors, but enough are dispersed throughout to make a scattered rainbow, and Rey is amused at the irony of all the intermingling colors, when the teams are usually separate by default.
The decorations are lovely and simple so as not to clash with the brightly colored fashions; white floral arrangements with small silver and gold accents. But Rey's favorite part lies around the edges of the space. Each Major League team has a station with white-clothed chefs serving tasting menus from the teams' regions. The Takodana taco station seems a bit too on the nose, but she's thrilled anyway. She interrupts Poe to gesture at the various types of foods of which there are entirely too many for them to try alone.
"Divide and conquer?" she asks, grinning and pointing around the room.
Ben looks uneasy, casting his eyes around, but he heads to a section and grabs a plate.
Rey continues to wander through the regional offerings, grateful that so few people here knew her, allowing her to skip the socializing. More frequently than is necessary, she casts her eyes over her shoulder, searching for Ben in a sea of unknown people. With his distinctive height and hair, it's hard to miss him, and each time she finds him, her anxiety calms and she's able to wander again for a few moments until she feels nervous again.
Until she looks and looks and looks, but he's not there.
Plate in hand, Rey frantically scans for Ben in the crowd. He wouldn't leave her here alone, so something must have happened.
Leia. Leia probably needed him.
But, no, there's Leia in a white and silver gown, dancing with Han.
So where is he?
A flash of red silk nearby, and Rey is shoving her plate into a bewildered Gwen's hands, mumbling incoherently about the bathroom.
Ben probably just needed air, she thinks, so she pushes through the crowded entrance until she can feel cold air on her over-heated cheeks, and she breathes it in in gulps.
Rey hears Ben before she sees him, his voice low, but deep enough to cut through the sounds around her. He's speaking low and fast, and she can't quite make out the words, but instantly she knows something is wrong. When she spots him, he's half-hidden in shadow, gesturing before turning to walk away when an arm reaches out to grab his, yanking him fully into the darkness of an alley.
Before she's aware of what's happening, Rey hikes her dress up with one hand and races toward the spot where Ben disappeared, shoving people out of the way if they don't clear out fast enough. The bad feeling she's had all day reaches a crescendo in her head, and all she can think is no no no bad bad bad until she's rounding the alleyway and Ben is there.
So is another man, someone she's never officially met but instantly recognizes. He's dressed immaculately, in a crisp, well-made suit, as if he were on his way to a team press conference and just happened to drop in to harangue his former protege.
"Snoke." She hisses the name and it tastes like ash and blood on her tongue.
"Ah, and here's the little bitch who's caused so many problems." Snoke's voice is cold and unctuous, sending chills down her spine. An inhuman noise comes from Ben, and she feels waves of fury, not for herself, but for Ben.
"Leave, Rey, please." His voice shakes.
"That's right girl, do what you're told." Snoke shifts his jacket, and Rey sees a shadow beneath it and freezes. Ben, distracted by Snoke's words, doesn't see the gun, and he tries to shove past Rey.
But she can't let him be shot, so tiny, defenseless Rey steps in front of Ben, putting herself between the two men. Her slight size has never been more apparent as Ben and Snoke tower over her.
The old man stares her down with tiny, bloodshot eyes. Before, when he'd attacked Ben, he'd been drunk, Ben had said.
Now though, the man's eyes are eerily clear. Cold rage twists his already grotesque features, and Rey can see that the man is truly unhinged.
"Move, girl," he orders again, looking past her to Ben.
Behind her, Rey can feel that Ben is frozen in place, nearly vibrating with anger.
"I won't," she says. "Leave him alone. You're done hurting him."
"Rey, no-" Ben's voice is hoarse, croaking.
A dark chuckle rips from the old man's throat.
"Who's going to stop me, girl? You?" He laughs again.
"Actually," a new voice comes from the entrance to the alley. "I am." A figure is wreathed in shadows until they step forward and Rey tenses further when she sees who it is.
"Luke Skywalker, how nice of you to join us."
For his part, Luke completely ignores snoke, peering beyond Rey to stare intently at his nephew. Ben releases her and shifts behind Rey, to run or get between Rey and his former coaches, she isn't sure. So she steps backward, pressing her back into his chest. The usual wash of heat that usually comes from Ben doesn't press into Rey's skin, but the pounding of his heartbeat does.
"You okay, kid?" Luke still ignores the other old man, causing Snoke's face to grow even redder and uglier than before.
"What do you want?" Rey hisses when Ben doesn't answer, narrowing her eyes and shifting her feet to position her body to face both old men at once.
"To atone," Luke says and smiles sadly, then turns to face Snoke. "Marcus."
"You're a disgrace to your legacy!" Snoke hurls the words, spittle spraying. "Both of you!"
Slowly, Luke takes a few steps toward them, narrowing the space between himself and the other old man. "That was always your problem, Marcus. Too focused on the past, never in the here and now." With a final step, Luke closes the distance between himself and Snoke, creating a triangle and forcing Snoke to choose which of his opponents to face.
It would be funny, like a scene in a movie, if Rey weren't afraid of what Snoke might do. Because he still has the gun tucked into the waistband of his crisply pleated slacks.
Luke doesn't know.
As slowly as she can, Rey starts to turn her body, and by extension, Ben, sideways, to try to shift them away from whatever is about to go down between Snoke and Luke.
A weird calm settles over Rey. It's jarring after the anxiety of the day, being on edge and waiting for lightning to strike. Whatever happens now, afterward, it'll all be over. A blink, and it's like she's separated from herself, looking down at the scene from above. Snoke, agitated and still ranting about legacies. Luke, looking between Ben and Snoke. Ben, frozen in a way she's never seen him before. And Rey, in the center of all of them.
"-kin Skywalker would never have let some girl come between him and winning!"
Rey comes back to herself in another blink, with Snoke still spewing bullshit.
"He did win you fucking idiot ." Rey snaps, speaking directly to Snoke.
"He didn't lead my team to victory!" Snoke snarls.
"It's not your team! Maybe if you'd actually try, I don't know, leading instead of forcing injured players to hurt themselves further you might have won a pennant ."
Snoke's face devolves into a mask of pure rage.
"Anakin died without Padme. He died alone and angry. And so will you." From behind her, Ben's voice is quiet, but it cuts through Snoke's hissing and spitting. " You are the one who's useless." His voice is stronger, and he shifts Rey to the side to come out from behind her. "What did you ever do? How many years of coaching and you never won a single Series?" Snoke starts to speak, but Ben isn't done. "You- what- you heard my name and thought you'd ride my name all the way to the top? I'm not Anakin Skywalker. I'm not going to fight and cheat my way to winning."
Snoke shifts, casting an uneven shadow onto the brick wall behind him.
"Nice speech, boy." Crooked yellow teeth split into a frightening grin. "Did you practice in the mirror? Did she tell you what to say?"
"Shut up, I'm not done." Gravel coats Ben's voice. "And you ," turning to face Luke, he comes out from behind Rey. " You ." His voice is shaking with rage and sadness, and Rey's heart cracks at the pain she hears.
"I know." Luke's voice is low, but not weak. "I know." Louder, this time. "I saw how angry you got at losing when you were younger, and I thought…"
" I AM NOT ANAKIN SKYWALKER! I DID NOT MAKE HIS MISTAKES!" Ben practically roars. Now, he's in front of Rey, holding his hands in front of him, and a sick feeling surges through Rey.
He doesn't know about the gun.
With Snoke's attention fully on Ben, Rey is able to flick her fingers low by her side to get Luke's attention.
Gun, she mouths. He's got a gun. She makes a gun with her hands to emphasize. A hint of a nod is the only confirmation that Luke understands.
"Snoke!" Luke shouts, pulling the other man's attention away from Ben. As slowly as she can, she reaches out to grab his hand and squeezes. Hard . Hard enough to convey that something is wrong. He squeezes back, but Rey has no way to tell him about the gun now that he's in front of her.
A streetlight on the corner goes out with a loud pop, sending more weird shadows skittering down the alley.
Startled, Snoke does what she's known he's going to do since she saw it — he pulls the gun and points in point-blank at Ben's chest.
"Marcus." Warning tinges Luke's voice, but it's like Snoke can only see Ben.
Ben, however, acts as if he doesn't even see the gun. Heaving breaths shake his back, and his arms are spread wide— to grab Snoke or hide Rey from him— she doesn't know.
"Anakin died without Padme. You're right." From behind Ben, Rey can't see when Snoke shifts his attention or the gleam in his eye, but she hears it in his words.
Tensing, Rey settles into a crouch, ready to tackle Ben round the knees to keep him from lunging at Snoke when she sees a flutter of movement out of the corner of her eye and
Then another — BANG—
Screaming echoes throughout the alley along with the screech of sirens. People flood into the alley, and Rey realizes the screaming is coming from her mouth.
Several heartbeats drown out the noise before Rey realizes that the black wall in front of her isn't a wall. It's her husband, shaking and confused, but whole.
A groan sounds from the ground. Two pools of blood spread slowly across the cracked asphalt, one large, the other smaller. Catching her breath, Rey tracks the larger pool of blood back to a deathly still Snoke. Luke, however, is not still. He's halfway lying on the ground, and clutching his arm to his chest.
"What happened?" Rey breathes.
"It's over," a new voice says. Han.
" What happened ?" Ben echoes Rey's words.
"Well," Han runs his hand through his hair in a gesture identical to the way Ben does it. "Your mom thought she saw him—" the word is punctuated with a thumb jerked toward Snoke's body, "so she sent me to find him and get him out. Unfortunately by the time I realized he'd left, he had Ben and you two had showed up." He stares Rey and Luke down. Luke looks very pale. So does Han, for that matter. "Chewie here," and now Chewie emerges from the shadows, "had a feeling. So we retrieved this and headed out. Watched for a while, then the light gave us the distraction we needed, but then that bastard pulled a gun."
"So you shot him."
"He was threatening my family." Han inspects the gun, clicking the safety back on before shoving it under his jacket.
"And you?" Ben stares down at Luke.
"I was trying to grab the gun away while he was distracted with you. Grazed my shoulder."
"And your speech?"
"Look, kid, I was wrong. I know that now. Hell, I knew it at the Series. I was just too mad to see it." Chewie and Han help Luke get to his feet. "I'm sorry for all of it, kid. And you too." Turning to Rey, he continues. "I'm sorry for…what I said."
"You're damn right you're sorry!" Leia appears, shoving through the crowd like a haughty queen come to glare at her subjects. "If you weren't bleeding I'd slap your sorry face. I'm still considering it!" The tiny woman fumes at all the larger men around her until her face softens. "Are you all right?" She hadn't directed the question at anyone in particular, so they all murmur their assent, except for Luke, who mutters about his shoulder.
"It's over." Like he hasn't the strength to hold himself up any longer, Ben sinks to the ground.
Alarmed, Rey falls with him, taking his hands in hers and holding them to her chest. But when she looks into his face, it's…light that she sees. Any hint of lingering darkness and shadow that had remained is…gone.
A smile spreads across his face, broader than she's ever seen.
"It's over," he repeats, and crushes Rey into his chest. He's chanting the words while he holds her, and it hits Rey just how deeply he still felt the trauma dealt by the words and hands of the man lying dead on the ground.
She has half a mind to empty Han's clip into the man's head just to be sure that he's truly gone.
"It's over." Rey says the words into his ear, then stands, holding her hand out to him. Leia goes to him at once, squeezing him with small, strong arms, before gesturing at the others to join them. Chewie, towering over everyone, wraps his long arms around them all, even Luke, who, along with Ben, looks wary.
"What?" half the people in the circle shriek.
But Rey knows what he means. It's over. He can be finished and put the past behind him.
"I'm…I'm leaving the team."
"That…are you sure?" Han speaks first.
"Didn't you always say it's best to go out on top?" Ben's voice is so…light. She's heard him happy, but this is different. So much weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
Han laughs, and Leia fusses, but Rey knows she'll ultimately agree with whatever Ben decides, and her heart melts when he continues.
"I want to finish my degree and…and teach. Or-or coach maybe. But I want to do something good . Help people."
Han and Leia's eyes soften, and Luke nods solemnly.
When the police arrive, they take statements from everyone involved and all those who witnessed the events of the night. Rey explains about searching for Ben only to see him get pulled into the alley. Ben says he got a strange text from someone pretending to be Rose from a new phone, saying something was wrong with one of the kids. When he'd gone outside, Snoke had appeared.
Bile rises in Rey's throat at that, finding out just how closely Snoke had watched them, and she wonders how long he'd watched Ben. Watched her and the kids. Prickles of fear spider-walk down her spine, and Rey shudders until Ben pulls her close against his side.
The police continue asking questions, ending with-
"Who shot first?"
The question was directed at Han.
"Snoke," Ben, Rey, Luke, and Chewie answered in unison.
Han's eyebrow twitched, but that was his only reaction.
Somehow, they're all released to rejoin the gala, which has devolved into a full-blown raging party. She asks Ben if he wants to go home, but he must still be riding the adrenaline high because he wraps his arms around her and whispers in her ear that he owes her a dance.
Someone, Poe probably, has found a smoke machine and lowered the lights to near darkness, and when Ben and Rey step onto the dance floor, it's like they're the only people left in the room. Ben's arms wrap around her, pulling their bodies flush together. Dark hair tickles her nose as Ben lets his forehead fall to rest against hers as they slowly sway to the music. Warmth and peace settle over Rey, and she leans back to brush her lips over Ben's.
Tucking her head under Ben's chin, Rey continues to sway with him in time with the music while his hand strokes over the bare skin of her back.
" Mom! Dad!"
Through the blissed out haze of the fade of adrenaline, Rey hears what sounds like a kid yelling for their parents. But there aren't any kids at the gala. Weird. She settles in closer, closing her eyes and blocking out the world again. Ben makes a sound of contentment deep in his chest, and it rumbles in her ear as the kid yells for his parents again, closer this time.
Then out of nowhere, Rey's surrounded by small people who are wrapping their arms around her, and she realizes that they're her kids and they're calling her mom .
In all the time she's been with the three kids, they've never called her mom. The last of her adrenaline rush fades, and she collapses on the floor, bringing Jacen, Jaina, Alema, Ben, and Rose down with her.
"What are you doing here ?" she hisses to Rose, trying to hold back tears.
"Ah, I might have told her. About what happened," Ben supplies helpfully, sliding his hand through his hair. Alema settles on his lap, and Jaina flops onto Rey's. Jacen sits cross-legged on the floor, one of his knees touching each of them.
"And Jacen was still awake, so I told him, and…here we are?" Rose shrugs. Both her and Jacen's faces are bone-white with eyes like saucers.
Jacen slides his fingers into Rey's, and his hand is like ice as she squeezes gently. His little gesture sends her over the edge into full-blown sobbing.
"It's okay, we're okay," Ben chants as he gathers all of them into his arms— even Rose, who still looks a little sick.
When they're all calmer and breathing easier without tears, Ben launches into an explanation, with Rey filling in her side. Others join the little knot of people on the floor; Finn and Poe with cocktails for the adults and lemonade for the kids; Gwen and Armie with plates piled high with all of the regional delicacies. Han, Leia, and Holdo hover on the edge of the group, listening in silence while the whole ordeal is recounted for them all.
To the kids, it's more like an adventure story, something to be in awe of before moving on to the next exciting thing. Jacen grasps the gravity of the situation more than the girls, and he's rattled, but the adults who've joined them are all speechless and stone-faced.
Eventually, the police call, and Rey, Ben, Han, and Leia have to go to the police station to provide their statements. Rose and Jacen carry the sleeping girls out to the car, only after eliciting promises that everyone will keep them updated on the situation. Behind the glass panels of the station doors, Rey hears a distant tinny yelling, and turns to see a tv with a video of Snoke playing in a glass-enclosed office, but the sound disappears when a door is shut, and Rey shudders. Statements are given, papers are signed, and Ben and Rey are released.
They're slowly picking their way down the steps, when Ben tugs on her hand to stop her.
"Look," he says, pointing ahead.
The sky is a deep blue, tinged with pink and grey, and the first hints of sunlight are peeking through the buildings, with the rays reflecting off the glass and metal, casting shattered patterns on the cracked pavement in front of them.
"Rey, it's a new day." He tugs her to him, and when she looks up, his smile is the most beautiful thing she's ever seen.
***TW- Ben faces Snoke and is unable to react. Mild blood and gunshots. It's not gruesome, but if you'd like to skip this, don't read between the paragraphs "So is another man" and "what happened".
Thanks for reading!