His dark hair obscures part of his face. He moves towards me with a subtle grace, shadows crawling from beneath his feet. As if comfortable in every way, he stands right in front of me in his fitted black pants. And that’s it. That’s all he’s wearing. Why is that all he’s wearing?
Kylo looks at me and I want to say something, but I can’t look directly at him without my face going red.
“Can you put on a cowl or something?” I ask.
“Did you ask him?” he says, his voice eager. “Did you ask Luke about what I did?”
An odd noise escapes my mouth. I just look at him, completely without words. I don’t understand. Does he want me to think he’s a monster?
I look up at his face. His body tightens and his eyes peer down at me with softness. I see the yearning in his eyes—the eyes of someone who wants approval, or compassion even. I don’t understand. He is acting like he actually cares what I think—about what I think of what he did. Does he want praise in some twisted, sick way?
“He did, actually. He told me what you did. That you destroyed that temple and killed all those—”
“He didn’t tell you,” Kylo interjects. A loud scoff scuttles out from the back of his throat. “Figures.” His mouth twitches, and for a moment I can’t tell if he’s smiling or frowning.
The weight shifts in my legs. Shaking my head slowly, I reply, “What are you talking about? I just said—”
“He told you a lie.” Kylo’s voice is so booming that I hear the words echo around me in a chorus of chaos. “He demonized me in that tale he spun for you.” His lips clench together, his hands forming fists. Then, they release. His face softens. Calmly, he asks, “Do you want to know what really happened?”
Waves crash against the cliff below. Mist sprinkles my hair. I look up at him, his body tightening and releasing. Why does he want me to know so badly? He’s so tense…so eager…
“Yes,” I say.
Kylo begins pacing. I try not to notice the way he glides and the way his missing shirt is making my skin burn.
Turning his face towards me, he begins to walk my way. The closer he gets, the shorter my breaths.
“I was training under his mentorship. He was my master, and I was training to be like him. I had been feeling conflict within myself for a while, but I let the light side prevail. But…” His eyes stay fixed on mine. What is he trying to say? “That night…that night Skywalker claims I tried to kill him and that I got up and destroyed everything without a second thought, without warning, that isn’t true.” My eyes widen. I look away for a moment, putting together his words in my mind. What? What is he talking about?
I look to him again. His face is waiting for me to continue listening, waiting for me to listen to his side of the story. He wants me to know. I nod for him to go on. “That might even be what people have believed all over the galaxy, but it isn’t the truth.”
He steps closer.
I let him.
I want him to.
“What happened?” I ask. Movement and noises are clashing all around us, but all I care about is this man standing inches from me. His nose is almost touching mine. His breath skates against my skin as he continues.
“I was sleeping. It was a normal day, but I had felt something off about Luke for a while, and it was building. Fear. It was consuming him. The way he looked at me, even when I was far off and he was with another student. He was always watching me, scared. Incredulous. As if he didn’t know what my next move would be, or what my true motives were…” his voice trails off. The rims of Kylo’s eyes redden before he looks away, his fingers tapping against his sides. “I was so young.” His voice cracks. “I was just Ben Solo, son of two legends and grandson to Darth Vader. I wasn’t planning anything, I—” He looks down to gather himself. I feel it now. The emotion. The sorrow. The fear. Not Luke’s—Kylo’s. Ben’s. A scared young boy, afraid of his master.
An overwhelming urge wants to place a hand on his shoulder or wrap my arms around him in comfort, but I resist. He isn’t even here right now anyway, Rey. I think to myself. Keep it together. Think about who you are talking to…but that’s just it. This isn’t Kylo Ren that I am talking to. It’s Ben Solo. Vulnerable. Wanting a listening ear. Someone who will understand. I’ll do that. That’s all.
My eyes find their way back to him. He swallows and continues, “I was just sleeping in my bed that night. That night he told you about. I wasn’t plotting. Scheming. No, I was just sleeping when I was awoken by the buzzing of a lightsaber above my head. It was Luke. My master.” He spits the last word. A lump the size of a boulder forms in my throat.
“What are you talking about?” I ask, my stomach sick. My eyes wet.
Waves crash below us.
“He tried to kill me that night, Rey.”
Is this true? It has to be. He knows I’ll ask Luke for confirmation. Why would Luke do that? Why would he take an innocent life? Ben’s future wasn’t decided yet…
A sharp breath jerks inside my lungs, wriggling up my throat in a small gasp. That’s it. The future.
His future still isn’t decided. No one’s is.
“I did what I had to out of self-defense,” he says, his eyes searching my face for my reaction. I’m not hiding it well. It doesn’t matter, though. He needs to know someone is there for him. Someone believes him. Believes in him. “And then I let the dark side in, and I’ve never looked back.”
“You—” I begin, but something startles me from behind. I look behind me at a family of porgs bumbling around on a pile of rocks. I heart lurches when I feel the familiar feeling of our bond about to end. I look to him in desperation. No! He needs me. He needs to know what I have to say.
“Wait!” I yell out. “Ben!”
It’s too late.