Ben is awake...and alive.
Thanks to skyeryder01 for reading my weird ideas.
Awake and Alive
With a very loud sound that was somewhere between a smack and a thud, Benjamin Chewbacca Organa Solo found himself out of breath and flat on his back in sand of all things. Kriff, he hated sand, if only because it reminded him of her.
How could he be dead and feel sand beneath his fingers?
Finally his overwrought mind caught up.
He was, in fact, not dead.
Ben fumbled for the Force and felt relief wash over him when he felt the soothing warmth of its light side. So long had he resisted the pull of the light, that allowing it to wash over him completely was a balm to his ruined soul.
His ruined soul.
His ruined soul that was split in half without her.
Anger and fear and…
The tiny scrap of the bond that remained flickered for one heart stopping moment, but it did not go out. Relief flooded him in a cold, rushing wave.
Oh, no, that was an actual wave.
Was he on a beach?
Pushing aside memories of the last time he'd been drenched in seawater, Ben scrambled upright, trying to avoid the next round of waves.
He was not successful.
Drenched completely, Ben sighed and used a Force shield to keep the next wave from battering his ravaged body back into the sand. Slowly pulling himself beyond the waterline, Ben felt a gentle tap through the Force that usually meant he was being watched, but he ignored it until he could completely extricate himself from the frigid water. Once free of the pull of the waves, Ben allowed himself to collapse on the rocky shore, using the Force try to get a feel for what was watching him and keeping his guard up.
He'd already died once today; it would not happen again.
The person watching him felt small and female, though her Force signature was unlike anything he'd felt before.
"You look like a drowned rat." The voice was definitely feminine but with a cold sharpness that instantly had his guard up.
Through the Force, Ben could feel that his lightsaber was gone, lost on Exegol or in the blackness through which he'd fallen. So he was weaponless. It was less than ideal, but he focused on his breathing and tried to feel his observer's intention. She felt…wary and ancient and cold and fearsome. But she did not feel like an enemy. Yet.
There was a distinct feeling that she could be if she felt threatened.
A tiny hand with red-lacquered nails and encrusted in jewels appeared before his hazy vision and he gingerly took it, not really intending to use her help to stand.
The tiny hand yanked him upright, and his injuries barked in protest at the unexpected strength of the movement.
The barking pain of his wounds cleared Ben's vision enough that he was able to finally look down at the woman. She was tiny, especially compared to his large frame, with chin-length, jet black hair honed to a razor's edge. Delicately pointed ears rose from the inky curtains of her hair. Her smoky grey eyes blazed with intensity, and Ben took a step back, away from the tiny woman.
"You fell through, too," she said.
He nodded, vague images of falling through starlit darkness flitting through his mind.
She was tiny and terrifying and ancient in a way that vaguely reminded him of Maz Kanata, if Maz ever looked like she wanted to taste his blood.
"The High Lord felt you coming," she said, "so he sent me to find you. There aren't many who can travel between realms, and you didn't enter through the Fire-Breather's door, so he was…concerned."
Ben blinked in response.
The tiny woman poked him in the ribs and he flinched away from her.
"Cat got your tongue?" Her smile made her even more terrifying.
"W-what? No," he said. "It's been a very long day. I died." His voice sounded hoarse and raw, as if he'd been screaming.
"Oh, those days are the worst," she said, turning and walking away, her black hair swinging in a short sheet around her face. "Come along. You don't look in any state to cause harm. We'll let the healers look at you and then let the High Lord decided what to do with you."
Bewildered, Ben paused just long enough to roughly Force-heal his injuries and let the tiny woman lead him away from the ocean.
After an hour of shivering and silent walking behind the tiny woman, Ben found himself on the outskirts of a glittering city. The sun had begun setting as they walked, and the colors streaking across the sky were like none he'd ever seen, even on the dozens of worlds he'd visited. Amethyst and crimson buildings lay across the city, echoing the brilliantly colored sky, and Ben felt a pang, knowing how much Rey would have loved to see the colors of the beautiful city.
As small as she was, Ben thought he would have to walk quickly not to to lose the tiny woman on the crowded streets, but as soon as they entered, the crowd parted for them. Ben wondered if the woman was using some Force-repelling technique he hadn't thought of in his waterlogged, recently dead state. But, no. The people were staring at her in awe, and possibly a little fear, murmuring but not looking directly at her. Some even bowing outright as she passed, though the woman made no indication that she had noticed their reactions to her, and Ben wondered if perhaps he should reassess his evaluation of her. And so they continued through the lovely city, with Ben close on the heels of the tiny who woman who acknowledged no one, but cleared a path through the throngs anyway.
The city was filled with species Ben had never encountered, despite his rather broad travels. Some were green-skinned and long-limbed, while others were humanoid with large, membranous black wings. It appeared that the city was divided into sections: for clothing, for food, for artists… and Ben found himself longing to explore with Rey.
Except he was gone.
And he had no idea where he was, or where she was, or how he could return to her, or if he even could.
A familiar, unwelcome coldness began creeping along his spine, but he shoved it away, focusing instead on the here and now. On the familiar words now thrumming like a drumbeat in his head.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no emotion…
But that wasn't true.
He was full of emotion.
Full of love, for Rey, for his family. Full of joy at seeing her one last time, for feeling his mother's parting gift to him.
And yes, full of fear and anger and sadness.
As he walked, he turned over the codes of the Jedi and the Sith in his head. Though he hadn't been Sith, he had adopted some of their ideologies, but now, neither rang true.
He was still pondering when he ran right into the back of the tiny, now angry, woman.
She spun on a minuscule heel, and he threw himself into a defensive position. The smoke in her eyes curled and he thought he might have seen fire blaze for moment, but she only gazed at him, taking in his stance.
"Hmm," was all she said as she continued to stare at him. She gestured at the door before him that was marked with what was apparently a universal symbol for healing. The door slid open before he could go forward, and a pair of blue hands gestured them inside. Once the door had closed behind him, Ben found himself in a waiting room of sorts, with a sapphire skinned female with sky blue hair ushered them forward while smiling, if a bit nervously.
"We're here to see Madja," his escort said to the blue female.
"Of course!" The blue female trilled. "Please have a seat. It will just be a moment." She walked down a hallway and spoke in low tones outside a closed door. She nodded when she returned, and though Ben folded himself into a small chair in a corner, the tiny woman who had brought him here remained standing, folding her arms over her chest.
There was little to look at and nothing to do, so Ben folded his hands and let them hang as he braced his elbows on his knees, staring blankly at the floor.
He had died.
He had died.
When he'd brought Rey back, he'd known he would die. He'd been prepared for it. He had not, however, been prepared for the kiss she'd planted on him, and in that moment he'd desperately wished, prayed, begged, for some kind of miracle. To not die. To be with her.
She'd wished and begged and prayed for someone to be with her, too. Before he'd died. While he was still Supreme Leader, he'd felt her begging the Jedi to be with her because he wasn't. Because he didn't know how to be the man she needed him to be. Expected him to be.
Not that he deserved her anyway.
Ben's head sagged deeper and he ran his fingers through salt-rough hair. He would not go down this path. Especially not now that he was gone and it no longer mattered.
The female nurse returned, bringing a bit of light with her.
"Madja's ready. Please follow me."
The tiny, black-haired female snapped to attention and followed the other female, so Ben unfolded himself from the chair and followed them down the hallway to a room that looked like every other examination room he'd been in. Inside, a tiny ancient looking female waited, perched on the edge of a table. She nodded hello to the black haired woman as the other female gently shut the door behind her. Ben stood in the doorway, fisting his hands in his pockets, unsure of what to do as the older woman got to her feet and came over to peer up at him.
"What's your name, boy?" She asked gently.
"He doesn't talk much," the other female interjected.
Ben raised an eyebrow but didn't look at her. She hadn't spoken much, either.
"My name is Ben," he rasped.
The old woman came and stood before Ben, peering up at him. She reached out with both hands, and she paused when he flinched away.
"I just need to touch you for my magic to be sure everything is all right. Nothing invasive, and I'll heal what I can. Is that all right?" the old woman, Madja, said.
Magic? Some corners of his galaxy still considered the force to be magic, so maybe she was just using the Force. Rey had healed him, and he her, so perhaps it was the same. Or similar enough.
So he nodded in agreement, though he felt a bit trepidatious. Madja's hands were cool and dry as she wrapped small, strong fingers around his wrists and closed her eyes. Small flashes of warm energy tingled through his veins and over his nerves, lingering over old and new injuries.
Broken ribs and a leg. The slicing burn over his face. The bowcaster wound. Older, deeper scars on his back.
Ben felt Madja tense as her magic, or Force, or whatever it was, passed over those places, but she didn't speak. Little stings as the healer made finer adjustments to the rough Force- healing he'd attempted when he'd fallen through the darkness. As her magic rose up his body, Ben, knowing what would likely come next, threw up his mental shields and focused solely on keeping them in place. He felt the healer's light brush of against his consciousness, but she made no attempt to push beyond his barriers. When she was finished, the healer opened her eyes and released his wrists, while looking up into his eyes. The healer's eyes were old and a little sad, with the wisdom of her age shining through. Ben wondered how sad and wise his mother's eyes had been when she'd died..
Sadness and... regret? flickered in the force for a moment as he thought of Leia.
But the healer continued.
"He needs to speak with the High Lord." she commanded.
"Yes," said the tiny. black-haired one. "I am bringing him to - " .
The healer held up a wrinkled hand.
"No." Her voice was gentle, but strong.
"He needs to speak with the High Lord."
Speak with, she'd said. Not be interrogated or tortured or imprisoned by.
Ben didn't have time to ponder her words as the tiny one considered him.
"Ah," was all she said, though he felt a slight shift in her bearing toward him. She stared intently at him, tapping a pointed, red nail on her too-white teeth. "Let's go then." And she spun on a heel with a curt nod to Madja, another for the assistant, and she was nearly out the door before Ben realized she'd left the room.
Ben made an awkward half-wave, half- shuffle motion with his arms and hurried to follow after her.
Heels clicking on the cobblestones, the tiny woman had covered a lot of ground in the time it took his mind to catch up to her leaving, but the crowd still parted around her enough that Ben was able to quickly find her. Her stride was even more determined that it had been before they'd visited the healer, and her feet were a blur over the stones as she led him through the city. Much faster than they'd reached the healer, the woman practically dragged him with her and then stropped abruptly.
Ben remained wary, but turned his head slightly to take in their surroundings. The woman had brought him to a gate that lay on the edge of an estate within the city. The estate was made of white stone, with copious amounts of enormous, white-curtained windows. It lay sprawling before a sparkling blue gem of a river, with verdant lawns rolling all the way down to its banks. The tiny woman waved her hand over the black stretch of metal where a lock should be, and the massive piece of wrought metal swung forward to allow them in.
Behind the woman, Ben slowed to take in the mansion before him, apprehension growing. Who was the High Lord? And what were they going to do with him?