“A Tale Across the Galaxy”
Chirps from plump porgs whistle in the distance, muffled from the sound of waves and wind.
I sit on a stone step—one of the steep ones I’ve had to climb day in and day out to try to figure out what’s going on here with Luke and my training. He doesn’t like the Jedi, but he doesn’t like himself either. He’s afraid. But that’s not what’s really on my mind.
I can’t stop thinking about what Kylo said. I even confronted Luke about it, and it’s true. Kylo–Ben–was betrayed by his master. I don’t think it’s too late for him. There is something going on within him. A war where he doesn’t know which side he is fighting for. I’ll help him. I need to help him.
His face. I see his face. The way his tortured eyes pleaded to me. The way his mouth quivered, and his body tensed. He walked to me and my body grew hot.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I want to see him again. I want to talk to him. I want to understand his mind, his desires.
I want to stand with him, face to face. His face close to mine, our fingers intertwining. His voice will be so low and quiet, so sweet on my breath…
Ben. I will save Ben Solo. I will. I know I will. I can feel it. Maybe… but… what he’s done is unforgivable. How could I possibly forgive him? I couldn’t even begin. But I can feel goodness in him. I can. Maybe I need to be the one to draw him completely into the light? To teach him how to live and how to atone for what he’s doing? Maybe that’s why we are connected the way we are.
There’s such a strong force between us. Such intensity and… something else I can’t describe. My heart races at a speed I’ve never experienced when I think about him. My legs grow weak and begin to shake a little. My breaths sharpen. The blood in my body grows so warm. I think of his lips, and his body tensing.
A familiar wave washes over me, dizzying me. I know this feeling. I’ve grown to love it.
It means he’s here.
“Rey,” he says. So simply, but with such strength.
“Ben,” I reply in less than a whisper.
“I’ve been waiting to see you again,” he says, walking closer to me, his black-cloaked body moving like a shuddering wave of shadows.
“I’ve been wanting to see you too,” I reply, standing up and taking a couple of steps towards him, each step on a new stone down the narrow hillside. My body glides towards him, magnetized by his presence.
We come so close together, so firmly, with such longing. I look up at him. He looks directly down at me. I stand strong but haven’t felt nerves like these before. Even when fighting the roughest of thugs in the Jakku desert, I’ve never felt this nervous.
With lips parting slowly, he whispers, “I have something I want to tell you.” The deep vibrato of his voice echoes within my chest, bumping down my rib cage. My legs grow numb.
I swallow, “What is it? Another secret?”
His dark eyes flicker softly. He is looking so deeply within me. Something about him causes me to let my guard down. I become so vulnerable. It’s hard to let someone in like this—especially him—but I want him to see me. He needs to know I am sincere, and that I’m here. Really here. For him.
“Yes,” he says gently. “Something no one knows. Something I’ve had a hard time admitting to myself for fear that Snoke would sense it–see it.”
My eyebrows furrow. “What is it?”
He steps backwards, looking away, his gloved fingers lifting to his forehead and rubbing the lines creasing between his brows. I can sense the turmoil brewing inside his mind.
“I can help you,” I say, edging even closer, “I’m here for you.”
His hand lowers as he turns to look at me.
“I’m here for you.” My eyes stay stuck on his. I stand my ground and show him I mean it.
Nodding softly, he looks down and gathers himself. Standing up straight, he returns his eyes to mine.
“I want to tell you…what really happened.”
The sounds of Ahch-To settle around me. There is nothing but him and me.
Taking off his gloves one finger at a time, Kylo begins his confession.
“Snoke has been some sort of presence around me my entire life. My own parents were afraid of me and didn’t want me, so they handed me off to Luke. I was lost. Abandoned. Miserable and confused.” Ben looks at me as he takes a seat beside me, calmly and naturally, as if he were really here. I follow his lead and sit down again on another stone step. He’s sitting so close to me our fingers are almost touching. What would happen if we glided into one another?
“Snoke took me under his wing when my own uncle wanted to kill me. I was indebted to him. I let myself be under his stewardship. I let him guide me. But I didn’t do what he wanted me to do.”
I inch closer to him, hanging onto his every word.
“He calls me petulant. He thinks of me no more than a moody child. But it isn’t true. I didn’t do what he thought I did. The thing I had to do in order not to be killed. My father knew that. He knew what I meant when I asked him to help…I shouldn’t have asked him for help…” Ben’s words turn to muffled sobs as he covers his face with his now gloveless hands. Buried in misery, his shoulders tremble, shuddering as he crumples over and sinks to his knees.
I want to place my hand on his shoulder. I want to envelop him in an embrace, but I know he isn’t really here, and I’m afraid he’d disappear if I tried.
“Then again, maybe he knows,” Kylo mutters, lifting his head from his hands, his hair veiling his face from me. “Maybe he can sense it. He thinks I’m soft, and maybe he can feel that I couldn’t do it myself. It’s just a matter before…” Ben fixes his gaze on me, lowering his face to be closer to mine, “before he figures it out.”
“Figures what out?”
Ben swallows hard. The muscles in his jaw clench. His eyes return to me as he prepares to tell me what he’s been keeping from everyone. I hold my gaze, hoping he can sense what I feel.
It’s okay, Ben. You can tell me.
“I didn’t kill my father,” he says. My eyebrows furrow and my eyes glare at him. Air rushes sharply through my nostrils.
“I saw you,” I say, agitated but trying to keep my cool as best as I can. What is he trying to do?
“I didn’t want to kill him…I…I knew I had to, and my dad knew I had to…he knew what I was thinking when I told him I was afraid. He offered to help me. He knew what I wanted him to do, so he pushed that button for me. He ignited my saber so I wouldn’t be killed by Snoke.” Ben’s voice cracks and he buries his face in his hands, mustering the strength not to sob. He doesn’t want to show weakness, or maybe admit that he has weaknesses. That he has a heart.
My head spins like mad. All of these secrets. All of these truths. It’s hard to know what is real and what isn’t anymore. Only days ago I thought I’d be searching for Luke Skywalker in desperation with Kylo Ren as my mortal enemy, but now here I am, consoling the man I swore I hated and trying not to hate the one I sought to rescue.
I look at Ben with even newer eyes than before. Can this be the man I once despised? The man I see now with the broken soul and wanting eyes, longing for love and rescue. I want to wrap myself within him. He has such strength and passion. He is seeking guidance. I can help.
“I wanted to tell you,” he says, “because you are the person I see in the mirror—the one I try to repress—and I’ve always been so intoxicated by you. Even more lately, you’re the person I want to see. Beside me. I want to… Well, I wanted you to know the real me. The one I have tried to destroy. The one I still might destroy. I don’t know what I want anymore…” he trails off and gathers himself before straightening his back and looking at me with a collected atmosphere. “I want to know your secrets, as you know mine.” I feel myself swallow. It’s hard to breathe. Secrets. I know his…I long to learn more. The secrets he tells me whisper fire to my soul. With each breath, I come alive.
I can tell him mine. I want to. I want him. To help him, I mean. If I helped him, the fate of the galaxy could be saved. Yes. That’s why I long to know…that’s why I care.
I study his face and allow myself to feel everything I’ve tried to suppress. There’s something within him that is making a part of me come alive. A part of me I didn’t know was there. A burning. A longing. A desire.
“Maybe my father did what he did to redeem what he did to me,” Ben says, breaking the thoughts madly racing through my head. “My own parents were too afraid to love me, Rey. They didn’t want me. They shipped me off to Skywalker and then Skywalker tried to finish the job. No one wanted me. I was alone. I was young and vulnerable. Scared. Snoke saved me, but…he’s no savior. He’s a demon. He’s only used me to serve him. I’ve only ever been used and tossed aside, and it’s happened again with Snoke. I have no one. No one.”
“No,” I say sternly. His head perks up behind his dark curtains of hair. “You’re not alone.” I move my hands close to where his face would be if he were really here. I want to touch him, but I know I can’t. I lower my hands and whisper to him, hoping he can feel it on his lips. “You have me.” I swallow and inch as close as I can without falling into him. “I’m here for you, Ben. I’m always here.” His eyes search mine. His body tenses and I can feel his breaths grow rapid and sharp. His face is both washed over with relief and contorted with surprise and simply not knowing what to do next.
“I’m here.” I whisper once more, “You know where to turn when you need someone.” My whispers grow slower, deeper. My body is shuddering slightly as I look into his eyes without looking away. He looks back, his dark eyes brewing with longing. Slowly, one of his hands rises towards mine. I watch our hands find their way to each other. Just before they do, I feel a familiar jolt that pains me. No. Not yet. Please.
I look up to Ben, afraid and desperate. He shares the look but is more controlled. He lifts his hand close to my cheek and says, “I’ll see you soon.” Then he’s gone. I’m back on the island. So alone, and racing with a tempest of passions I have never felt before.
Why does he trust me? Does he feel in me what I feel in him?
I can’t take these unanswered questions. I need to see him again. I want to know what happens next.
Read the rest of the chapters of ‘The Madness that Binds Us’ here.