SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE BATTLE OF CRAIT
The war between the Rebellion and the First Order raged on. It had been years of this, the Force connecting them in times of need, desperation, and conflict. And each time they watched in silence until the other had evaporated into the air. Nothing had changed and so nothing was to be said. It was not until now, on this day, Leia's last day, that Ben felt that familiar pull toward the Light. He watched in silence as Rey was only one aware of his presence at the funeral.
His father's death by his hand was one he could barely carry on his shoulders. What kept him from breaking was the idea that he controlled that outcome. But he could not control this, the inevitable. Her death was imminent. As was every death. He could control it no more than Anakin could control Padme's fate. It was pointless to try and fail, to repeat history for what had been attempted by the desperate a thousand times before.
Painful it was to lose his mother. To lose Luke. To have committed the act of murder on his own flesh and blood, Han Solo.
Excruciating, he thought.
All of a sudden it was as if the air had been sucked out of the room. Like a window had been opened in the dead of deep space. He did not turn around. He dared not to. Not with this pain so clear on his face, his heart on his sleeve, bleeding with everything he kept buried in his chest. His fists clench in an attempt to return to his safe place where he could feel none of this. He was nearly there.
Then suddenly, a voice.
“Ben?” Rey whispers brokenly.
He exhales shakily.
“Don't.” he says, feeling her reach through this bond to touch him.
Rey pauses briefly.
He stood tense in his quarters. It was a firm stance, but a fragile one. But it was not until the moment she continued to reach forward, her hand touching the center of his back, that he nearly crumbled onto the floor.
Still he manages to step away from her. “NO!” he growls with rage.
“Talk to me, Ben.” she begs.
It was then that he snapped, turning around to face her.
He towered over her, as usual. And while he tried to intimidate her he knew she would not waver.
He lets out a trembling breath once more and Rey swears she can feel it on her face, warm as if he were in the same room as her. “You shut me out. Remember? You don't get to do that. To beg me for answers. That part has ended.”
“You chose wrong, Ben. You chose the First Order! You shut me out!” she breaks.
“I chose a future. With you. That is what I chose.” he argues.
She shakes her head at him as several tears run down her cheeks. “You hunt me down to the ends of the galaxy. That is no future. You kill my people, Leia's people-”
“Don't bring her into this!”
His hand flies up, curving around the shape of her neck without even touching her. She steps back, tripping over her own surroundings as he approaches her. Through this link they shared he could do no harm to her. Even if he could he would not hurt her. He had more control than that, contrary to what the First Order thought of him. He was . . . impulsive.
Once she was backed into a corner his hand met her throat. And it stayed there for only a moment until his fingertips trailed up and across her cheekbone. He brushed the hair away from her face and let his fingers trail back down along the edge of her jaw. Rey's hand catches his just as it drops and she holds his palm against her cheek. Her eyes were closed, unable to see the corner of his mouth twitch with the bliss that filled his chest.
He was nearly at her level, his mouth easily able to caress hers.
But just like that she evaporated back into her own reality, the last word to escape his lips becoming only an echo as she faded away.
“Rey . . .”
General Hux stood nearly hunched over as he watched over the control room. At his side stood Kylo Ren, Supreme Leader.
He scoffs without realizing he had done so. A child, he thought.
Kylo Ren turns his head slowly, looking and Hux through new eyes. He had not seen him in some weeks and noticed the decline of Hux's health as if the life were slowly being drained from his body in microscopic amounts. The dark circles under his eyes were like perpetual bruises. His cheeks were sunken in. A small hump formed where his shoulders had once stretched so broad and pointed on either side. The soft red hair that once gave him a youthful look was turning white.
Of course, Kylo Ren took this new view of him and kept it in the back of his mind to use against him later.
He often felt Hux's fingers twitching with the desire to pull his blaster from his belt and hit Ren straight through the heart. But the coward was not enough of a fool to do it here. Not that in a small space, alone in a room, would make much of a difference.
Ren would snap his neck like a twig before Hux could reach the trigger.
“Any luck on pinpointing the location of the Jedi girl?” Hux wonders out loud.
That was the mission these past few years. Find the girl, find the heart of the Resistance.
Strike them down.
Kylo Ren knew where she was now. The moments he had spent at Leia's funeral gave him time to notice the planet they were on. But he said nothing that may hint at where that was.
“You handle the rebels.” Ren says with his eyes straightforward. “I will handle the girl.”
He turns to leave and Hux – sickly and reminiscent – cannot help but get the last word in. “Just as you did the last time you brought her onto our base?”
Ren turns his head just enough to eye Hux menacingly. He sweeps his fingers gently, as if he were tugging on a string. Hux sweeps forward from where he stood, over the railing, landing just two inches from the floor which would have broken his skull into pieces had he not been caught. His eyes are practically sewed shut, waiting for the impending strike, when Kylo Ren pauses him and drops him the last two inches, breaking what would have been a fatal fall.
“Keep your words to yourself, General.” Ren warns him. “Next time I will not be so merciful.”