Title: Without Her Love
Disclaimer: Star Wars and its characters belong to Disney and all their other respective owners. No infringements of these copyrights are intended, and are used here without permission purely as a means of entertainment.
Genre: Modern AU
Word Count: 1,753
Summary: It was over before it begun. Ben x Rey. Modern AU.
Having laid awake in bed for close on three hours, Ben now stood in the kitchen before the open refrigerator door. His bare legs, arms and chest were cold from the fact his black satin boxers were the only article of clothing to adorn his lean body. He didn’t know what he wanted. Sandwiches were usually his go-to snack when things got tough, but he honestly doubted food could fix the emptiness he was feeling inside.
He and Rey had been roommates for two years now. They’d hung out as mates, been study partners for every exam, heck they’d even gone out on double dates with various potential partners, and then watched cheesy romantic comedies to get over the pain of every break up.
But this time it was different. This time the breakup was theirs and he didn’t know how to get his mind through it.
With a sigh he closed the refrigerator door and suddenly the apartment was met with almost-darkness.
He moved to the end of the kitchen counter and stopped in his steps when his gaze fell on the sofa where the breakup had taken place.
There had been no words of anger. No mistrust. Nothing sensible that told them the relationship had to end.
It was their friends. His parents. His uncle.
Rey was only in her second year while he was in his fourth; he was graduating at the end of the semester and Rey still had another two years to go before she finished her degree. His leaving for New York meant they wouldn’t be able to see each other, not unless she could magically get another scholarship to finish her training in the Big Apple. But she was doing so well here, and since moving from London to Philly she’d made a lot of friends and replaced the family that had abandoned her when she was a kid.
Ben couldn’t uplift her from that. His mother told him he’d damn well better not do it either, and his own father and uncle had conspired to make sure he knew exactly how fucked he’d be if he tried.
Two years into this friendship, three days into the relationship they’d been dancing around and avoiding since the start, and it was over.
Ben felt like his legs couldn’t keep him up with the weight of all that guilt, so he sidestepped to one of the open-back barstools at the counter and sat down. It was only now that all realization of what had taken place those few hours ago began to come at him full throttle.
Though they hadn’t said the actual words to end what had barely begun between them, everything he’d dreamed of having with Rey had slipped out of his grasp.
“We’d be terrible together anyway.”
“Exactly. I mean you eat like you were raised in a barn…”
“And you’re so damn tall I’d get a crick in my neck if we ever actually tried to kiss.”
His answer to her had been a joking, ‘Imagine what kissing you would do to my neck!’
Now, though, a breath caught in his throat. He felt torn between admitting that saying they were only ever meant to be friends might, maybe, have been the truth on some level, to feeling like the best thing he had going in his life had been unfairly taken from him.
“For a while there I thought something between us was… what I wanted.”
They’d both agreed it wasn’t.
But she was what Ben wanted. Saying otherwise had been at the pressure of his family, of friends. All the love he’d felt for her in the past two years hadn’t suddenly vanished. He couldn’t erase it, much less try to escape from it.
He couldn’t and wouldn’t because… he was still very much in love with her.
Sighing, his chest heavy, Ben rose to his feet.
All of a sudden, the door to Rey’s room opened and she appeared in the doorway. Leaning against the arch with a scarcely audible sigh, she stared at the sofa as he had done those minutes ago.
He watched her for a moment. Watched as she played with her hair, just as she had done the night past when they’d agreed friendship was the best option for them.
Her hand momentarily fell to her chest then, before going to her stomach, and he noticed she was wearing an oversized New York Giants t-shirt. He smiled, thinking about how she’d always looked good in red; from her little red dress she wore on their double dates to the oversized red t-shirts she always wore in the aftermath of a breakup.
It was almost as if she had heard his thoughts, because in the limited light he could see her smiling too.
“I’ll always love you, you big lug.”
“Yeah, and I’ll always love you, squirt.”
The thought of those words, the ones he never told anyone else, not even his family, made him smile. But the smile was pained and when it faded he found himself sighing aloud.
“Ben?” Rey quickly asked, and he could hear the hint of panic in her voice.
“H-hey,” he breathed, a little startled himself.
She stared right at him. “What are you doing in the dark?”
Swallowing, Ben ran his fingers through his hair. “Nothin’. I was thinking about getting something to eat, but I…”
He didn’t finish.
Rey stepped away from the arch, slowly stepped into the lounge as he did. “How… how are you uh… I mean….”
The words were hard for her. They were hard for him too.
“I’ve been better,” he said, not wanting to lie to her. “You?”
Staring at one another for a long few moments, they both took a step forward.
She smiled, and he did too.
“You go first,” she said.
“Nah, you go ahead…”
She paused, pursing her lips sweetly for a moment. “Are you sure?”
“I’d just say something… stupid,” he said with a shrug.
“No. You wouldn’t.”
He smiled. “Thanks for saying so.”
“You’re a smart guy, Ben.”
He huffed, the words ‘in my own stupid way’ going through his mind. “If I was so smart, Rey. Then you and I…”
His words caused her breath to visibly catch. “Me and you…?” she asked, voice gentle.
“It…” Ben took a step toward her, paused to catch his breath at the realization there were only a few steps distance between them now. “It would have worked out different. More… right.”
He saw her bite her lower lip. Watched as unshed tears shimmered in her eyes as she gently shook her head. “It’s not just you, Ben. Things got all…” Taking in a breath and holding it, she sighed softly. “Because of us both.”
“Not one bit of it is your fault, Rey. I’m the one leaving for New York in a few weeks…”
“I’m the one who’s stuck here for two more years.”
Ben took a step towards Rey again, and she matched his step with one of her own, her chest beginning to rise and fall quickly.
“The timing was all wrong…”
They were only two steps away now. Two steps away from being back where they’d began. Ben’s heart raced at the thought. Raced because he feared he’d lose it again.
“We’re…” he began.
“…good friends…” they both said.
Hearing the words on his own lips, and hers, Ben sighed heavily. “God, this is so damn unfair.”
“I know, sweetie,” Rey said, closing the gap between them and placing her left hand on his chest. “It is.”
She’d never called him sweetie before. She’d reserved it for Finn, Poe and Rose.
Hesitantly, and the voices of his family and their friends telling him to do otherwise, he tenderly placed both hands on Rey’s hips. “I’ve dreamt about this… about us, for so long… and now… I can’t just… I can’t…”
“…push it away?” she asked, gazing up at him.
He nodded. “I know it sounds selfish…”
Like a beat, his breath caught and he parted his lips to ask, “Doesn’t it?” breathlessly.
Shaking her head, she whispered, “Not to me.”
Standing silent for a moment that felt like it was far too long, Ben drew Rey a little closer to him. “What are we meant to do, Rey?” he asked, his voice soft, unsure.
“Honestly…?” She searched his eyes. “I’m not sure.”
Saddened, he cast his gaze downward.
“But one thing I do know…” Rey began, and she lightly bit her lower lip in thought. “I don’t want to just… shut off all these…” A pause and she closed her eyes as she leaned her forehead against his chest. Sighing softly, she whispered, “…these incredible feelings I feel inside of me.”
Ben murmured, “I don’t either.”
He could feel the warmth of her body coursing through him. Could feel her every slow, even breath against his bare chest. His eyes drifted shut and he craned his neck to press a slow, tender kiss to the top of Rey’s head.
They stood there like that for the longest while, when Rey moved and Ben soon felt her lips as they brushed against his chest.
Opening his eyes slowly, he felt her lips leaving another kiss. “…Rey…?”
Saying nothing, she moved from his chest to his collarbone, where her kisses grew deeper, sending a radiance of warmth out into his arms and legs.
“Rey…” His murmur faint, Ben’s eyes drifted shut again.
He felt her lips at his neck then.
She moved to his throat.
She kissed the side of his mouth, teasingly.
Slowly and deeply, she pressed her lips to his in the sweetest kiss. He circled his arms around her ever tighter, pulling her closer still. Her lips were soft, her kisses deep, and he prayed they’d never end.
When, “I haven’t either,” she finally murmured. Their lips had parted and he opened his eyes to hers. “We don’t have to do this, Ben…”
“No. I want to. I mean… if it’s what you want…”
“It is,” she whispered, a lone tear rolling down her right cheek. “I love you, Ben. And, I don’t care how we make it work. I want this. I want us. I want you.”
“Me too,” he said, sounding a touch more excited than he’d intended to.
It made Rey smile, and Ben couldn’t help but smile back before capturing her mouth with a heated kiss of his own.