A/N – This story is a continuation of my previous fic "A Night at the Solo Household", now a part of what I'm calling the "Reylo Journey Series". I currently have three of these mini-stories planned at the moment, so follow me on tumblr if you would like to see previews as these stories progress. This particular concept will be two chapters.
Breaking Ground – Chapter 1
Silence tarnished the once exciting atmosphere of the empty room located deep within the resistance base. The scavenger had long since claimed the space to be used for training, and more things had been destroyed in that room then Rey could count as she put new skills to the test with Leia's old saber. Today, however, Rey's mind swayed from thought to thought as she sat cross legged on the cold floor.
Boredom had set in long before the sweat began to pool into little droplets at Finn's forehead as he sat a few feet opposite of her. With a casual glance to the clock, Rey wanted to groan as the time seemed to taunt her. For nearly an hour she sat listening to Finn's grunts as he struggled with an outstretched arm; failing to summon even the simplest uses of the force. It was there, the will of the force, swirling through lively veins as Rey could feel it practically begging to be released. So, why was he trying so hard and succeeding at nothing?
Rey gave him ample time to practice while her thoughts drifted from the rumble in her stomach, to those as childish as trying to guess which creature was making noises at the other side of the room. With a shake of her head, she forced herself to stay focused the task at hand.
"Finn, you're trying to lift a stick, not struggle to use the restroom," Rey chastised playfully.
"Bathroom jokes, really?" he groaned.
"You're trying too hard. You have to feel it in your heart," she tried to explain.
"Feel what?" Finn grunted one last time before allowing his hand to rest at his side. "I don't feel anything."
"It's there, I can tell it's there. It's like…" Rey stopped herself. You're blocking yourself, she wished to say but quickly decided against it. Knowing that the claim would only stress him further. Instead, she cleared her throat nervously. "Something, is blocking your connection."
"I had felt it before. For so long I was certain of it, but now… It's like ever since the war I've been shut out," Finn sighed. "Maybe I'm not cut out for this force stuff."
"It's not your fault, Finn," Rey explained, "I told you before, I'm no Master. How can I teach you anything when I haven't even finished my own training?"
"Don't blame yourself," he groaned in dismay. For a moment, Finn played anxiously with his fingers before changing the subject. "Have you finished your lightsaber yet?"
Rey smiled weakly with a shake of the head.
"No. I don't understand what I'm doing wrong, Leia… well, we hadn't gotten that far before everything happened."
"Looks like we could both use Leia's help right now," Finn chuckled weakly.
"All of us could use Leia's help. If she were here maybe the Senators would agree on something for once," she shook her head in exasperation. "It's like listening to younglings bicker."
"No kidding. I don't understand why Poe wants to get into politics," Finn rolled his eyes.
"I think he wants to make sure Leia's voice will not be forgotten," she reminded. "It's actually comforting to see him elected."
"He's not elected yet," the man reminded.
"They hail him as a hero for leading the charge on Exegol, there is no chance that they won't vote him in."
"You don't know much about politics, do you?" Finn scoffed.
Rey merely smirked in reply.
"I suppose not. Now come on, enough distractions."
Rey adjusted her posture to sit proper, guiding him to do the same. Finn released another sigh, as if having already decided that he would fail. Just as he had before, his arm lifted with outstretched fingers towards the small stick on the ground. Rey waited as the muscles in his arms began to strain from effort. And waited.
"If you have to try that hard, the force will never help you."
Finn's body tensed all over as the new voice emerged. His eyes snapped open to glare at the intruder, while Rey smiled in welcome. Beside them, Dee-oh spun around to catch a better view of the intruder.
"S-stranger ahead," the droid declared. Rey wanted to sigh, having failed multiple attempts at fixing the droid's stuttering voice box.
"Aren't you supposed to be loading up boxes or something?" Finn groaned.
Ben scowled before glancing at the heavy package in his arms. Words weren't needed to convey his irritation as they were written in his expression. What does it look like I'm doing?
Now at Ben's feet, Dee-oh began to circle the man as he discarded the cargo in the loading bay before walking towards the pair.
"Enjoying hard labor?" Rey finally broke the silence as he neared.
"Better than rotting in a cell," Ben answered before turning his attention towards Finn who couldn't hide his distain for the former Supreme Leader even if he wanted to.
"I still can't believe it… It isn't right for you to roam freely," he grumbled.
"You have a strange understanding of the word free," Ben folded his arms across his chest. The cold lighting of the base bounced off the metal of his cuffs as if to highlight his point.
Finn ignored him, glaring back at Rey as if Ben didn't exist.
"Maybe we made a mistake in keeping his secret, if the public knew Kylo Ren was still alive…"
Rey silenced him with a glare.
"Finn, you promised."
"You're the one always telling me that Jedi should act if they feel danger is near," Finn challenged.
"Ben's not dangerous," Rey reminded. Not anymore.
"Why do you defend him?!" Finn rose to his feet in an instant. Glaring down at her as if he were gazing at a puzzle. "All of you, even Rose… How have all of you forgotten what he's done?"
"We haven't…" Rey began but was cut off as the man turned to face Ben.
"Let me tell you something," Finn squared his shoulder. However, no amount of flexing could embolden her friend as he stood next to the tower that was Ben. With a silent smirk, Rey could only imagine how she appeared standing beside him. The thought would have been amusing if Finn didn't appear ready to throw a punch at any moment. "You might have everyone else fooled, but not me. The moment I figure out what you're playing at, I will make sure the world knows."
Ben merely blinked.
"Threats are a tool of the darkside. Perhaps you'd like to keep that in mind while you train to be a Jedi," he warned.
"What would you know about being a Jedi?" Finn spat.
Ben remained emotionless as he stared at Finn. For a moment, Rey was thankful that he decided against flaunting his knowledge of the force that easily outranked her own studies. And then, he had to push.
"I know how to lift a stick."
Finn snapped. Had Rey not been watching the exchange so intently, she wouldn't have brought her arms up just in time to halt her friend's fist before it could collide with Ben's unmoving figure. To her amazement, she staggered as he fought her restraint.
"Finn," she warned with a grunt. "He's right. You need calm down."
"Let me go, Rey!" he grumbled against her invisible hold.
"If you can't forget the past, you'll never become a Jedi," Rey scolded; waiting another moment before slowly letting him slip from her grasp. Finn turned to glare, and she could see his pain at hearing her take Ben's side.
"If becoming a Jedi means forgiving him, then these lessons are useless," Finn growled once more before stomping away. When the door slammed behind him, Rey sighed in dismay.
"Was that necessary?" she grumbled.
"He's unbalanced," Ben mused aloud as his eyes became glued to the door where Finn had vanished. "If small taunts can set him off…"
Ben's voice trailed off into nothing. She waited for him to recover from whatever revelation had him stuck in his own thoughts, but he never pried his gaze from Finn's shadow.
"He just needs a teacher," Rey assured. "A real teacher."
Ben turned to give her a strange expression. His lips parted with the will to speak, but whatever he had intended to say vanished as his focus shifted.
"What's wrong with your lightsaber?"
Rey narrowed her gaze playfully.
"How long were you eavesdropping?"
"I didn't want to distract your friend from his lesson," he explained before returning to his original point. Beckoning with his fingers to bring it forth. "Let's see it."
Rey stared at him for a moment. Knowing that if the demand had come from anyone else, she would have reached for her staff. Instead, she smirked at his confidence that grew each day. Grateful to see him slowly growing more comfortable into the mold that was Ben Solo.
Turning away from him, she retrieved the box guarding her unfinished lightsaber.
"I can't get it to ignite," she explained while carrying the box to him. Together they sat on the cold ground as she opened the container. "And every time… Ah, Dee-oh!"
"Y-Yes, mom?" the little droid rolled to face its master.
"I told you not to mess with my things," she groaned while brushing a finger above the scrape caused by the curious machine.
"S-So sorry," Dee-oh bowed his coned head in shame and it was enough to chill her heart for raising her voice.
"It's alright," she softened her tone before grabbing a rag to buff out the scratch.
"You taught the droid to call you mom?" Ben tilted his head in question.
"Finn and Poe programmed him to say it," Rey shrugged. "They were trying to be funny."
"I could reprogram him for you," Ben offered.
"No," Rey answered a bit too quickly. Feeling her face redden, she hid her gaze by focusing on the saber. "I, I kind of like it."
She expected him to laugh or mock; or at the very least snort in derision. Instead, Ben nodded softly before holding out his hand in offering. Rey placed the saber in his open palm and he immediately began to examine the unique weapon. She was almost nervous to see him open the chamber but relaxed in an instant. Reminding herself that he knew far more than her on the subject.
"You've mixed the wires here, that's why it won't ignite. But this material holding the crystal is corroded. It's a good thing you mixed them. It would shatter in a matter of seconds. And that, is an unpleasant endeavor," he noted.
"You've shattered a lightsaber?" She asked before recalling their battle in the throne room so long ago. The tug-of-war over his grandfather's weapon had resulted in a grand explosion. Rey nearly shivered at the thought of holding a saber in hand during such an event.
"My crystal had cracked when I bled it," he explained. "It nearly tore my hand apart."
Rey flinched despite the clam demeanor she had learned to master when skirting around Ben's past deeds. The process of bleeding a lightsaber peaked her curiosity, but she wasn't certain it was right to indulge in such dark thinking.
"Here," he mumbled before digging through the contents of the box. When his fingers rose from the rummaged parts, he lifted a piece she had long since discarded. "Use this."
"That? It's not even the right shape," she argued as he placed the saber back into her own hands.
"So bend it into shape," he answered.
On instinct, Rey began pressing against the material between her palms. Pushing and pulling at multiple angles. After a minute of failing to alter the metal even the slightest, Rey realized that she had misunderstood. She could feel her face redden as she hid her gaze into the floor.
"You meant with the force," she realized aloud. Ben merely nodded without even the slightest hint of a glare and Rey couldn't help but grin. "You're a lot more patient then Luke was."
Ben exhaled with a stifled laugh as Rey fell silent again and closed her eyes to concentrate on the task at hand. Slowly beginning to dismantle the failed design. Though she couldn't see the parts twirling around in the air, she could feel the force moving all around her. When the saber was dismantled, she reached for the memories of Leia's teachings to build the weapon properly this time.
When the simple thought of her former master tugged at her heart, the force began to flee. Desperate to tame her emotions Rey released a deep breath. However, once her heart began to bleed with Leia's memory healing never seemed to come easy. A moment later the parts fell to the floor with a clang.
"What are you thinking about?" Ben asked.
Rey sighed, not wanting to answer.
"Your mother," she admitted quietly. "I miss her."
"Don't think about her death. Concentrate on her memory, on moments you enjoyed. Think of your friends. And your little droid son," he spoke softly.
Rey nearly snorted at his last comment. She steadied her breath; breathing in slowly and back out. After a moment of meditation, she could feel the parts began to rise once more.
Rey sifted through memories that had once made her smile. Thinking of Finn and Poe's humorous bickering as they played holochess on the Falcon. Of Rose's gleeful smile as she shared stories of her first moments with Finn. Of Chewie playfully shoving Lando as they reminisced of old times. But mostly she thought of Ben.
The force ebbed as she recalled that terrible year apart. Where for so long she suffered, rebelling against that strange ache in her chest that she hadn't understood. The stars had witnessed many tears on those nights when she dwelled on his rejection. She had thought to have freed him after the defeat of Snoke, having given him an avenue away from the dark; a path alongside her own. Instead, he chad lung to a darkness that she could never follow.
Rey recalled trying countless tactics to convince herself that the feeling would fade with time. Since anger had seemed to be the best way to cope, she had clung to it; embraced it even. How close it had put her in the darkside's reach. When Ben pushed her too far on the ruins of the death star, she had become lost to it. The anger had fueled her vicious strikes until it had encouraged her to plunge his own blade through his stomach.
"Focus," Ben whispered. Only then did Rey realize she was shaking. "Happy memories."
She took another breath and thought of where they were now. Though Ben was not free, he was far better off than where he had been months ago. Most of the resistance no longer gave the name Kylo Ren any thought, having eagerly believed his body to be rotting away in the caverns of Exegol. Just weeks ago, Ben had been released from his cell to complete brutish tasks so long as he continued to wear the cuffs that broke his connection to the force. No matter how much he grumbled about the work, Rey knew it was far preferred over being stuck in that tiny cell.
Rey thought of their moments together, of the way he seemed to smile more often. Of the feeling of his kiss when they finally managed to sneak a private moment. Hidden away in dark hallways where traffic was minimal and that one time she had 'accidentally' brokethe lock to the maintenance closest after they entered to grab tools for a job. The act had nearly given them an hour before Rose managed to break them out. No matter how brief their moments could be, they were always perfect.
"Open your eyes," Ben ordered gently.
Rey did as he asked to find the saber floating just beyond her grasp. Components that had been loose had locked into place and for the first time she could feel the call of her crystal; beckoning itself to her hand.
"Is it…" Rey started to ask if the build had been successful but could already feel that it was so.
"Go ahead," Ben encouraged.
"What if it explodes?" she asked nervously.
"I'll take you to the medbay," he answered far too calmly.
"I don't think they'll be able to help much if my whole arm is missing," she joked.
"Something tells me you'd be able to adapt easily," he shrugged.
"Should I be worried about your lack of concern over me losing a limb?" she challenged playfully.
Ben finally smirked. He reached forward and took her hand in his own before bringing it to his lips. A shiver raced through her spine as he placed a kiss at her knuckles.
"I would be in a state of misery if anything were to happen to your arm," he promised before releasing her hand. "But, seeing as I watched you assemble every part perfectly, I am confident in your chances of keeping it intact for another day."
Rey shook her head with a grin before taking the saber in her palm. She took a nervous breath as she pointed it in a safe direction and after a moment of coaxing, the blade ignited with a flash of yellow. For a moment, she stared in disbelief; awed by what she had made.
"Unique color," Ben mused allowed. "Guardians of the Jedi Temple used to wield similar blades."
Rey tested the weight of her new weapon with a few swipes in the air before deactivating it. The feeling of having something of her own was greater than she ever imagined. The handle was lighter than Luke's had been and though she had yet to master a perfect art to the design, there was room for further adjustments in the future.
"I'd like to make it double bladed one day," she stated. Thinking of how familiar it would feel.
Ben merely nodded, as if he could read her thoughts. With a dip of her heart she thought about the brief time when they had been able to do just that. When for that one perfect moment, they had been one.
No matter how desperately she fought the council to free Ben Solo, to truly free him, she was met with swift denial. She started to wonder if Ben would ever be allowed to roam without the cuffs and if they would ever experience the bliss of their dyad ever again. However, she supposed that she shouldn't be greedy. After all, his very presence in that moment outside of his tiny cell was victory in itself.
A whirl of movement broke her thoughts as Dee-oh took to racing laps around them both.
"He's energetic for such an old unit," Ben pondered aloud.
Rey couldn't help but smile.
"I gave him a new battery just yesterday. He had hardly been able to hold a charge," she explained while trying to follow the droid's path. "I had to redesign the compartment just to fit it, but now he's good as new."
Well, mostly new. Ben looked the droid over, taking in the scratches and dents from years of neglect.
"These units had a short lifespan, they stopped making them decades ago. It was deemed that they didn't have much value other than simple translations of common tongue. I'm surprised to see one fully functionial," he explained.
"He's valuable to me," Rey stated a bit too firmly. She had become tired of careless voices condemning her little droid for nothing of worth rather than spare parts.
"I wasn't belittling him," Ben assured.
As if only just realizing the conversation centered around him, Dee-oh paused in his solo race to focus on the pair.
"Might have a few screws loose though," Ben smirked at the late greeting. Then he began to reach for the droid. "Or a loose antenna…"
"N-no thank you," Dee-oh scurried backwards, leaving Ben staring after the droid with a surprising level of hurt. Rey smiled reassuringly and reached for the hand resting upon his knee.
"It's alright, Dee-oh. See, he's a friend," Rey spoke softly.
"F-friend," the droid's cone face rose and fell to take in Ben's form. As if memorizing the shape of his body. "H-hello friend."
Before Ben could react, the little machine resumed his pointless circles. Rey couldn't help but chuckle as she watched the droid test the range of his new components.
"He was treated poorly in the past, it takes him a bit of time to warm to newcomers," Rey explained.
Ben hummed in understanding before his gaze fell to the hand covering his own. She nearly pulled away on instinct, knowing that her careless touch threatened to reveal their secret. However, with only a droid for an audience she instead moved to tighten her hold.
For a moment, Rey remained motionless. Still unable to bear the direct sight of Ben's gaze. Her heart had already begun to race as it always seemed to when they managed to find themselves alone; drumming in anticipation of how quickly they would reach for one another. She had planned to do just that, but by the time she felt herself leaning forward Dee-oh whirled beside them.
"F-friend approaching," he exclaimed.
Rey pulled away in an instant just before Rose stepped into the room. She sighed in relief to find her friend's eyes stuck on the data pad in her hands, glancing to the pair only when she stood a few feet from them.
"Heads up Ben, your parole officer is looking for you," Rose smirked.
Ben looked ready to roll his eyes.
"Maz knows exactly where to find me," he answered evenly.
"It's your funeral," she shrugged with a smile before growing serious. "Have you seen Finn? He seems…"
"Stubborn? Grouchy? Immature?" Rey answered half-bitterly. The girl shifted uncomfortably.
"I'm worried about him," Rose admitted. "He's… different."
Rey opened her mouth to ensure her that Finn was fine, that there was nothing to worry about when it came to the formal Stormtrooper. But before she could speak the words, Ben was glaring at Rose.
"When did you start to notice the change?" he asked.
Rose stared at him, surprised that he was addressing her personally.
"He's been acting weird since the end of the war, but he didn't start acting like this until a couple weeks ago," she answered.
Ben didn't speak anything further. His expression was calculating, causing Rey to worry about what she had simply cast aside as a childish grudge.
"Ben, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," he answered quickly. Rey watched him turn to grab the cargo he had been tasked to retrieve in the first place and nodded to her as if he hadn't just lied so blatantly. "I should get these back to Maz."
Her own eyes narrowed in concern, but she quickly decided against confronting him in front of Rose. Rey stared after him as he darted from her gaze.
"He's lying isn't he? I should be worried," Rose spoke nervously.
"Ben's never lied to me, not even when… Well, you know." Rey swallowed when her throat began to swell. "Now I understand why. He's terrible at it."
A/N – I apologize if the quality seems a bit lower than usual, I'm trying to get these written a bit more quickly since I'm not sure how much longer my fandom flame will burn and I have so much content I'd like to write in this series!