Her legs ache, her lungs burn; Rey relishes the wordless challenge Ahch-to lays down before her every time she returns more than her reason for being here. Idly, she wonders if this is her lot in life, chasing after rogue Skywalkers and dragging them back into society.
Well. Not society, not in this case. But there’s use for a man like Ben Organa out in the galaxy, and Rey is climbing a damn mountain to remind him of that fact.
She can feel the jagged edges of him through the Force as she nears the top of the island. Not a wound, not anymore, but something barely healed over. It pulls her in, as much as she’d like to think she came up with this all by herself.
Thanks. His voice rustles drily across the open stretch of grass and rock between them as she crests the ancient steps, echoes in her mind. She rolls her eyes, not bothering to respond mentally or otherwise, tucking her hands into the pockets of her pants.
The dark smear of him sits cross-legged on a precipice - about as far from the outcrop where she’d first handed Luke his father’s lightsaber as a person could be and not fall into the ocean. He doesn’t turn as she approaches, doesn’t even open his eyes. But she can see his hands from a distance, pale and ungloved and resting on his knees. She the way long fingers curl in on themselves the closer she gets.
His presence in the Force vibrates, an energy barely leashed by his willpower. She hasn’t even touched him yet.
“I’d say I can come back later, if you’re busy,” she says, squinting out at the horizon. Other islands dot the endless ocean, all of them empty. Even with navigation to this planet better known about these days, no one seems to want to come here. “But I’m not going to.”
He stills, an impressive feat for someone who already wasn’t moving much. Even his breathing stops, like he’s waiting for her to correct herself before he tries to speak.
Rey says nothing.
“What,” he manages finally, “are you talking about?”
She shrugs. “At first I thought, all right, this makes sense. Your mind was in a delicate place, and so was your handle on the Force. No one knew if you were going to snap and fall right back to the Dark Side again if given half the chance, so giving you a planet’s worth of space seemed like a good idea.”
“I was not in a delicate place.”
Hollow words, and they both know it. Rey had flayed him open and carved out what she found there, laying it out for the light to get to. Putting him back together had been a…task, and one she still isn’t sure had been completed.
What she is sure about is that Ahch-to is not the place for finishing anything. Ahch-to is a held breath, a place where the entire universe is put on pause. Rey refuses to live like that.
She’s not convinced it’s living at all.
“I didn’t come here to argue semantics,” she snaps. Stars, but he has that way of getting under her skin, even after all this time. She’d never had much of a temper, not until she’d encountered Kylo Ren. He might have retired the name, but that didn’t mean the person had just disappeared into the ether. Ben Organa is a promise still unfulfilled, to her mind.
He unfolds himself in a single motion, towering over her. The scar is stark against the pallor of his face, and her fingers itch to trace the furrow she’s left in his flesh, like they do every time they meet again. Her chin juts out, feet working into the dirt. There’s nothing he can do or say to threaten her these days, and no one has ever out-stubborned Rey.
For a second it seems like he’s going to try anyway, but she clocks the sag to his shoulders before he sighs, dark eyes focussing somewhere over her left shoulder. The Force sings with the strength of him, but he keeps it reined in tight, careful not to brush up against her.
“Then why did you come here?”
“To give you a chance.”
“Half the galaxy would argue you’ve already given me too many of those.”
“More like three quarters.” She grins despite herself, bites it back. He closes his eyes in one slow motion, and it’s unclear if that’s supposed to be a long-suffering gesture, or - or a defence against her smile.
(She’s not an idiot. She knows what lies between them, vast and unspoken and shuddering with possibility).
“I’m glad you’re entertained,” he mutters. “You haven’t answered the question.”
“All right. Try this. Neither of us clawed our way back to the Light to spend a life in quiet contemplation, and if I owe a debt to the galaxy, you’re practically bankrupt.”
His eyes snap open, and there’s that old fire. Corralled now but no less full of heat for it, and Rey can’t deny that her heartrate picks up at seeing it. Not bothering with subtlety, she places her hand on her lightsaber hilt a warning.
He doesn’t notice. His powers of observation, she’s noticed, tend to fail when his emotions get going.
“If you think I’m going to crawl back to the tatters of the Republic to bow and scrape and beg for forgiveness–”
“I don’t,” she bites off. “Although we both know you’d deserve that. You’re a war criminal, Ben, and the fact that I’m here at all–”
Makes her complicit. But Rey has long since come to terms with that. There are things she’s willing to live with, and things she can’t survive, and this man straddles the divide in ways that are…difficult to deal with. That keep her up at night, well into the morning, exhausting herself with the same argument time and again while knowing the answer won’t change.
She has given him too many chances. She won’t take any of them back. They are tied together, Ben and Rey and Kylo, and she has to find a way to live with that.
She sucks in a breath, calming herself. Ahch-to helps, in its own quiet way, the crash of water on rock soothing the irritation simmering in her chest.
“Stay here if you want to,” she says. “Hide away from the galaxy and the hurt you’ve caused, if that’s what it takes to keep it safe from you, and you safe from it. But I won’t be returning here as long as this is where you remain. I have work to do. You’re welcome to join me.”
Incredulity is a good look on him, or maybe Rey just enjoys taking him by surprise. His expression twists, made worse by the scar, and she gives in to the urge to touch it. The calloused pads of her fingers dip gently over the scored flesh, and there he is, holding his breath again.
“Is this you trying to convince me?” he growls.
If it was, it’d be working. But she keeps that to herself (maybe because it’s another thing they both know), letting her hand drop back to her side.
He reaches for her wrist before he can stop himself, large hand curling around it. Not tight enough to hurt, just maintaining the contact.
“No,” she says. “It’s not my job to convince you of anything. I’m not here to save you. I’m here to let you know you have a choice.”
“To spend the rest of my life serving people who have every reason to hate me?”
Rey gives a single-shouldered shrug. “If that’s how you want to look at it. No one controls how you think any more. You have to decide what you can live with. I’m just here to let you know what I can live with.”
And she slowly, gently, removes his hand from her. The air itself seems to shiver with disappointment when they’re no longer touching, but she’s gotten good at ignoring that sort of thing. She draws in a breath and takes a firm step backwards. And then another, and another, until she’s pivoted on her heel and his making her way back to the stairs.
“Is this it?” The wind catches his words and tosses them after her, but she thinks the desperation on them is all his. “I come with you now, or I never see you again?”
“It doesn’t have to be now,” she shouts back. “I’m not here to give you timelines, either.”
Silence. She makes her way down those ancient steps without being interrupted by anything more than the squall of wildlife and the incessant rumble of the sea.
It’s not disappointment sitting in her chest, as she lowers herself into the pilot’s seat. But there is something heavy there, something that she’s going to have to take a closer look at one of these. Maybe when–
The Force shifts. Not dramatically, or violently. Just one of a trillion small yet significant motions that it goes through every day. Something tickles in the back of her mind. His voice.
There is a bit more if you were wondering. It’ll be up relatively soon, and once everything is assembled, I will post everything on The B-Plot.
Sometimes, they trained.
(Keisuke’s voice would say, “Punch from the hip, everyone!”
Luffy’s would respond in a deafening shout of, “BUT MY PUNCH IS LIKE A PISTOL!”
“I don’t care if it’s a cannon! Learn how to throw one in case you can’t use your powers!” And Gaara never learned exactly how Keisuke expected Luffy to fight without his Gomu Gomu no Mi past that, because Naruto and Ace got into a brawl again.)
“Rose,” Malcolm says into the intercom, frowning when she fails to reply. “Rose!” he repeats, and smacks the intercom in irritation before stomping to the door and yanking it open.
“–very, very good at it,” some intern is saying to Rose in the hall.
“I’ll bet you are,” she says with a laugh, and Malcolm freezes when he sees a variation of the flirty, tongue-touched grin she gives the boy–his smile. “Oh, sorry Tucker, did you need something?”
“My PA, for starters,” he says, eyes shooting daggers at the intern. “I believe that’s your job title, Miss Tyler. In your own fucking time.”
He pivots and strides back into his office, blood boiling as he calls himself every sort of idiot his extensive vocabulary can come up with. He briefly toys with the idea of getting the intern sacked, but dismisses it quickly. Forget the fucking nights at his flat, or the fucking dreams, forget the fucking, period. She’s half his age, she’s his PA, for christ’s sake. So what if she’s making eyes at some young intern? Of course she would be, it’s to be expected. It wasn’t as if it was a fucking romance. It was a dalliance, an affair…one that absolutely was not tearing his heart out just thinking about.
“Done flirting, then?” he asks when she steps into his office, and she gives him an odd look.