Title: Die Alone, Live Together Author(s): TheProphetOfSullust Timeframe: Sequel Era (TROS AU) Characters: Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, Finn, Jannah, Rose Tico, Rey, OCs Genre: Drama Relationships: Rey/Ben Solo Summary: Ben had died because he had gone to Exegol alone. Under other circumstances, he might not have needed to. DIE ALONE, LIVE TOGETHER 1The memory of his father faded away, and rain mixed with tears on Ben's face. His eyes shifted to the lightsaber in his hand, and, almost driven by instinct, he hurled the cursed weapon into the sea. He stood for a long time, drenched, hurt, and so, so tired, barely registering anything around him. Alone with his pain. Alone with his memories. Alone with his regrets. "Hold it right there!" The harsh female voice crashed the reality back onto him. Two figures emerged from the sheet of rain. They pointed their weapons at him. "You!" Ben and the man of the pair recognized each other. "Where's Rey?" FN-2187 demanded. "Left. Took my ship." He couldn't quite hold back a laugh. "Unbelievable," TZ-1719 raised her energy bow and fired. Ben froze the bolt in mid-air, took a step to the site, and let it fly past him and impact the water surface. The woman blinked in astonishment, and took a few seconds to recover. Then she pulled back the string on her bow once more. "Wait, Jannah," her partner said. "He's the Supreme Leader!" "Was," Ben said. "What?" Jannah asked. "I'm done with the First Order. Besides, Palpatine will subsume that anyway." FN-2187's face grew angry. "And you expect everything you did to be just forgiven?" "No." Rey was gone. It was his luck that the first Resistance members he met would be her friends. Getting anywhere now... required an act of faith. He had to try. Do. Or do not. There is no try. He didn't know if he would see Uncle Luke standing there as a ghost or if that was another fragment of his memories. But he took the advice. Kneeling, he placed his hands behind his head. "My name is Ben Solo," he said. "I surrender to the Resistance." "This could be a trap, Finn." "It's not. Can't you tell?" She considered. "I'm not sure." Cautiously, the two approached. "What are we supposed to do with him?" Finn frowned. "I don't recall ever taking prisoners. Leia taught us all the rules, just in case--" "One of which being you can't just kill them?" "How'd you learn that? They never gave such instructions in the First Order." "Guessed based on how the Republics operated. There was little to do besides study old holotapes. And then she raised her bow. "I've never been one for following the rules." "Jannah, is it?" Ben asked. "What of it? Did you think I'd keep using that stupid index you gave me?" "So easy, isn't it?" "What?" Finn asked, confused. "Anger and violence. So tempting. So easily justified." "It is justified." Ben nodded. "Come closer." Jannah automatically took a few steps before stopping herself. Finn raised the rifle again. "What are you doing?" Ben gripped the emitter of the energy bow by the tip and pressed it against his forehead. Jannah gasped as he looked up directly into her eyes. "Do it. I won't stop you. And carry it. Have this jump into your mind for no reason. Have it haunt your dreams. The rest of your life. Live with it, if you can. Like I do." Rain around them appeared to slow down as Jannah contemplated everything he said. Then, with a grunt, she wrestled the bow away and shook her head. "We left to stop senseless killing," she said. "Great," Finn muttered. "You don't have restraints designed for Jedi in that pack of yours?" She shook her head. "So, we have to take your word?" "Nah," Finn said, and before Ben had time to react, he flipped his rifle's setting to stun and fired twice. Blue rings passed through Ben's body and the world vanished. Ben slowly came to and became aware of a chaotic rocking motion. He tried to move and found both his wrists and ankles restrained. A blue-gray sky jerked above him. A strange noise, between a whistle and a grunt, came from the right. Ben took a deep breath to orient himself. Craning his neck back, he saw a field of yellowed grass passing by. Occasionally, hairy hoofed quadruped legs flashed by in view. Now it made sense. Finn and Jannah had tied him up, loaded him on the back of a local riding animal, and brought him here. He reached into the Force and while it was there, the connection felt syrupy... sluggish... imprecise. Is this because I've been in the dark so long? he wondered. "Finn! Jannah! You're back!" a voice shouted. "And you won't believe what happened!" Finn replied. His face was suddenly in Ben's view and he was jerked up. "Come on," he said, undoing the knot on his ankles. When Ben looked around, he had to suppress laughter. Right in front of him stood the Millennium Falcon. Of all ships. "I don't believe it!" the new voice said. Poe Dameron, to whom it belonged, stepped out. Then without warning, he punched Ben in the solar plexus. Ben collapsed, wheezing, and prepared for more blows. Instead, a very familiar roar racketed the air, and Ben watched Chewbacca simultaneously restraining Poe, shouting Shyriwook vulgarities, and looking at him in a way that made Ben prefer being hit by him. "I'm sorry, Chewie," he managed, breath still not fully regained. The Wookiee halted, let Poe go, and walked away without a single word from his lips. "How'd you get him?" Poe asked Finn. "I surrendered," Ben explained. Poe blinked several times, and very carefully looked Ben over, then looked around in wary curiosity. "Why?" he finally demanded. "To be better," he answered. "That's not much." "I didn't do it because it would be easy," he said. "I did it because it was right. I can't do anything about the past. Only about the future." Something passed in Poe's eyes. He understands. And he hates that he understands. "You want me to help? I will." Poe considered for a long time. "We'll be taking you to Resistance HQ. You'll have to face... her, Supreme Leader. How do you expect that to go?" "I really don't know.I won't shirk it. I will face mom." He smiled for the first time. "She won't do what either of us expects." "No," Poe agreed. "Bring him aboard. One of you watch him at all times." In the galley, Chewbacca roared in protest as soon as he saw Ben. Jannah, who was holding him at arrowpoint, jerked at the fury. "What'd he say?" "Not fit for polite company," Ben replied. That prompted a new set of barks. "I was talking about her, Chewie." A low grunt was followed by Chewie storming off to the rear of the ship. "Urgh," Jannah said as she said down across from Ben, wary but not instantly threatening. "I like him." "So do I," Ben admitted. "It doesn't look mutual." "Not anymore." Icy water splashed into Ben's face, startling him. "Huh?" he blinked several times before Finn's face emerged from the haze. "You just... sat there. Unmoving." "I was meditating." "Really?" "I tried to reach Rey," he admitted. "What is it between you and her?" "Force Bond," he said. "We're linked--or we used to be." "How does that work?" "Right now? It doesn't." "Huh?" "We could... appear to each other. See each other's surroundings. Talk to each other. Even touch. But now... I tried to open the connection... and nothing." "Maybe she isn't interested." "That never mattered before." "You still have the Force, right?" For an answer, Ben extended his hand. A hydrospanner flew across the cabin and fell into his grip. Poe walked in from the cockpit. "We've finished repairs," he said, "but there's something troubling the powerplant. I can't start it." "Let me see," Ben said. Poe raised his eyebrows. "You think I want to be stuck here?" "It's not so bad," Jannah defended her adopted home. "Well, I can't see what's wrong." Ben went to the engineering bay, pulled up the lid on a mechanical pit, and climbed in. "You sure you know what you're doing?" Finn demanded. Lights shut off and lit up again, then flickered out. "No," Ben muttered, and twisted a cable with a hydrospanner. The Falcon got lights back. "Dad would be so mad." The memory--and the guilt--flooded in again. He breathed, forcing himself to be still. If he lost control, if the rage crept back in... "You okay?" Finn asked. Ben took several more deep breaths. "Yeah," he replied, resuming the repairs. "Yeah. Got it." Poe, Finn, and Jannah stared at him. "We still don't have power." Ben looked past them, though. "Right there," he pointed behind them and off to the side. Chewbacca, having just left the fresher, growled angrily. "You know I'm right," Ben said. Chewie smashed a fist into a panel Ben pointed out. Noise reverberated throughout the ship, and vibration informed them the engines were working. "Told you." Chewie barked something. "No." The Wookiee headed to the cockpit. "Thanks," Poe said, and followed. Finn and Jannha started strapping themselves in at the dejarik table. Ben carefully ambulated to join them. Both still kept hands on weapons while in his presence. The Falcon shook slightly, then lifted up and launched into space. "So. We were talking about Force Bonds," Finn resumed the questioning. "I don't know," Ben admitted. "It's still there, I think. Just inactive." Finn grinned. "Maybe she's the one who has to activated it. Where could she have gone, anyway?" Ben snorted. "She doesn't tell me her plans." "She doesn't make plans to tell," Finn retorted. "Just jumps in and somehow makes it work." "That's her, alright." "Is it true?" Jannah asked. "What?" "That she's Palpatine's granddaughter." Ben nodded. "I told her." "How do you know?" "He told me. And... I think mom knew." "It doesn't matter," Finn declared. Jannah nodded. "If only that were so." "What do you mean?" "It shouldn't matter. But it does. Such legacies always do. It's not even about how others perceive you--though you can ask mom why she left the Senate. But it's also about how you perceive yourself. I don't know what Rey will emerge like on the other side." "You wanted to help her?" Ben nodded. "That's all any of us can do. Be there. I didn't have that." "You said you were the one who told her in the first place," Jannah interjected. "Yes." He met her eyes. "Ignorance is a very fragile shield, Jannah." "I suppose. So how do we fight Palpatine?" "That's up to mom, isn't it? I can tell you approximately where Exegol is, but you need the wayfinder for precise navigation." And then he burst out in laughter. "What is the matter?" Finn demanded. "The wayfinder." "That's what we were looking for in the Death Star ruins." "It was there. I destroyed it." "But the book said it was one of two." "I had the other one. It was in my ship. That's the irony. Rey has it now." "We have to find her!" "I can try my bond again, but somehow, I doubt it'll get un anywhere." "What will she do with it?" Jannah asked. "Depends." "On what?" "On what she'll do with herself."