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Do You Like Irish Food?

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Ben could feel all the color drop from his face, and he was thankful that he was already sitting down, otherwise he might have passed out.

What??”

“I ... my name is Rey Solo. My dad’s name was Han Solo. I think you’re my brother.”’

“Are ... are you sure you have the right Han Solo?”

She nodded, and then she pulled a picture out of her purse and handed it to Ben. Ben took it with fingers that shook just slightly; in it, the girl (Rey) was wearing a blue graduation cap and gown. Next to her was a woman ... and although Ben hadn’t seen him in a good many years, there was no mistaking that the man standing on the other side of Rey was Ben’s father.

To add to the surrealities of the moment, Ben looked up at Rey and noticed for the first time that she had a carbon-copy of Han’s ((and Ben’s own)) eyes. Same wide shape, same crinkles around the edges, same color, same weird trait where the bottom lashes were longer than the top.

“Jesus Christ,” Ben said, softly, not knowing what else to say. “Oh my God ...”

“W-we’ve kinda met before, a long time ago, you and me,” Rey said, timidly, pulling another picture out of her purse and holding it out to him. “See?”

Ben took it, and stared in disbelief. He remembered this day perfectly; his mother had gone to visit her brother up-state, and Han had Ben alone for about a week. This picture was taken when Ben was 6, approximately six weeks before Han left for good. The picture was at a backyard barbecue, at a friend of his dad’s. Ben was playing on a makeshift swing and slide set with some other boys his age, and Han was standing around the grill with some men ... and one lady. The lady was smiling at Han, and in her arms was a small, chubby-cheeked baby, in a pink onesie outfit.

“That’s me,” Rey said softly, pointing to the baby. “Mom’s holding me, and that’s dad,” she said, pointing to Han. “I was about 1 years old here.”

When Ben still couldn’t find his voice, Rey went on to say, “I don’t know if you know this or not; but, dad died last month. Cirrhosis; his drinking caught up to him.”

Ben felt another wave of disbelief wash over him: Han was dead? He wasn’t even sure how to begin processing his feelings on that, so he put them on hold and asked,

“Does your mom know you’re here?”

Rey shook her head. “No. I ... I went through some of dad’s old boxes, and I found your name, and where you lived when you were a kid. I did some digging on the internet and I found your Facebook page. I was gonna send you a message but honestly, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I wouldn’t know what to say. But then I found your address and ...”

She paused, her face a dark red. “I’m sorry, I should have contacted you before coming over. But I just wanted to meet you so bad. I don’t have any other siblings and with dad dead ... I mean I know you didn’t really have ... and I don’t know what you think of my mother and I ... but I just ... I just ...”

Ben put both arms around her and hugged her as hard as he could. “Rey,” he said, tears in his eyes, “I’m so happy to meet you!”

“R-really?”

“I’ve always wondered whether I had any brothers or sisters. I’m so glad you’re here!”

Rey hugged him back fiercely, more tears leaking down her face.

They were still hugging when Hux came back, and Hux was a bit surprised at the unexpected house guest. Even more surprised (to put it mildly) when Ben explained who she was.

“I’ll be damned,” he said, softly, as he looked at the two pictures Rey had brought with her, and then closely at her and Ben. “Your eyes are the same,” he finally concluded, smiling. “We have to celebrate this; Rey, do you like chili?”

“Yes! It’s my favorite food in all the world!”

“Okay, now I’m sure of it, you ARE Ben’s sister. Well, then, you have to stay for dinner,” he proclaimed, before hurrying into the kitchen to continue his cooking.

“You’re in luck; Hux is in school to be a chef. Everything he makes tastes like heaven.”

Rey looked at Ben eagerly. “Does that mean I can stay?”

“Well, first of all, you need to call your mom and tell her where you are, kid.”

Rey’s eyes widened and she gasped.

“What’s wrong??”

“You ... you sound exactly like daddy, when you say ‘kid’,” Rey explained, her eyes tearing up again.

“You miss Han a lot, don’t you?”

“I do. I’m sorry I don’t want to upset you, but to ME, he was a good father. He was always there when I needed him.”

“It’s okay,” Ben told her, patting her back reassuringly. “I’m happy you got to have that.”

“I’m not sure if mom will let me ... I mean ...”

“Do you want me to call her for you? Maybe I can swing it so that you can stay the night, if you want. I mean, I know you just met me, but ... I’d really like to talk to you more.”

“I’d like that!”

“Okay,” Ben agreed, smiling as he held out the phone to her. “Here, dial her number for me.”

Rey did as asked, then handed the phone back to her brother. A woman picked up on the third ring.

“Hello?”

“Um, hello,” Ben said, feeling awkward. “Uh, my name is Ben Solo. Han’s son. I just wanted to let you know your daughter came to see me. She’s still here. She said she didn’t tell you where she was going, and I didn’t want you to be worried.”

There was a long pause on the other end, and then, in a timid voice,

“Ben Solo? Little Ben? I — my names Kira. You probably don’t remember, but I met you a few times when you were a kid. How are you?”

“I’m doing alright. I’m calling because it’s getting dark and raining pretty hard and I don’t like the idea of Rey driving home in this weather. Would you feel okay about her staying here for the night? I live in a one-bedroom with my boyfriend, but we have a pull-out couch in our living room. I can text you my address so that you know where it is. I can also send a picture of me holding my ID, so you know I’m actually Ben, if you want.”

“You don’t need to do that. She has my permission. I ... I know this is awkward but I’m so glad she found you, Ben. I’ve wanted her to get to know her big brother for some time now.”

Ben smiled at that. This, was weird. He had expected to feel angry upon hearing this woman’s voice; after all, this was the woman that his father left him and his mother to be with. But all he felt was ...

“I’m happy she found me, too. Do you want to talk to her?”

Kira said yes, and Ben handed Rey the phone while he got up and went into the kitchen, to give her some privacy. Hux was bent over a pot, busily adding ingredients to his chili.

“She’s going to stay the night, if that’s okay.”

Hux put down his spoon and went to Ben, hugging him. “Of course it’s okay! This ... I’m so happy for you, Ben! Remember when we were talking about doing that ancestry thing? And here she came to you!”

“Hux ... I’m a little scared.”

“What? Why?”

“She ... she told me my dad died last month.”

Hux’s face fell, and he quickly put both arms around Ben. “Oh, baby ... I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

“I’m scared because I literally don’t feel anything at all about it. Is that normal? Is something wrong with me?”

Before Hux could answer, Rey called out “Ben?”, and Ben gently pulled out of Hux’s arms to go to her.

Dinner was festive. Besides the chili, Hux had also made Mexican cornbread , and roasted sweet corn. And he was glad he’d made so much ...

For being such a small girl, Rey certainly had her brother’s large appetite. Hux kept looking back and forth between the two of them while they ate and talked; they were so similar that it was unbelievable. The way they sat, the way they held their spoons, the way they both furrowed their brows when thinking of something ... absolutely amazing.

They found out that Rey had recently graduated high school, and, in the fall, was on her way to a school in California, on a full scholarship.

“So you’re that smart, eh?”, Ben asked, grinning. “I’m so proud of you! What do you want to study?”

“I’m not 100% on that, but I’m thinking something with graphic design. I really like to draw, and if I can, it’d be cool to make a career out of that. Maybe designing websites or something like that.”

“That’s a lot like what I want!”, Ben exclaimed, surprised. “I’m studying computer technology right now; in time, I want to be able to code my own programs, maybe create video games.”

“You both are clearly smart,” Hux commented, clearing the table.

“So are you,” Ben said, jumping up to help Hux and kissing his cheek. “You’re making a career out of something you love, too; and you’re damn talented with it.”

“Can I ask ... how long have you guys been together?”

“Going on a year, next month,” Hux answered, smiling.

“That’s it?? You both ... you give off a ‘married for 40 years’ vibe.”

Both of them blushed at that.

“It would be great if it lasted that long,” Ben said, smiling. “I could definitely do with a few more decades of this cooking.”

“Agreed,” Rey said, patting her stomach. “That chili was ridiculously good. And I don’t think I’ve ever tasted cornbread like that. Can I help you both clean up?”

“Nope,” Hux said, waving her down. “You just sit there and get ready for dessert.”

“Dessert?”, Ben asked, loading the dishwasher. “When did you make dessert?!”

“Earlier. But don’t worry, it’s light: watermelon-blackberry sorbet,” he explained, taking it out of the freezer, where it had been soft-setting.

After dessert, the three of them stayed up far into the evening, playing cards, board games, laughing, and talking. Eventually Hux was worn out and he said his good nights, leaving Ben and Rey alone.

Together, the siblings talked until the early hours of the morning. Filling each other in on what they had missed in each other’s lives. Birthdays, holidays, school and jobs and relationships ...

“Hux doesn’t know it, but he saved me,” Ben told her, softly. “I was depressed when I met him, and he pulled me right out of that.”

“That’s really beautiful,” she’d replied, patting his arm. “Everybody should be so lucky, to find something like what you guys have.”

And Rey was able to fill in some details for Ben about what Han had been like in his later years, which Ben was grateful for.

“He was kind of boring, actually,” Rey said, pursing her lips. “I mean after he got sick he started being home a lot. But he still had a pretty good sense of humor. But god, he told the worst, cringiest jokes ever. I hated having friends over because he’d follow us around telling joke after joke and then laughing like he was a comedic God. Like, okay; ‘What does a vegetarian zombie eat?’”

“What?”

“Graaaaains,” she replied, with a grimace.

Ben started to laugh. “Wait, that’s actually pretty funny! I’m gonna try that one on Hux tomorrow.”

Around 4am, Rey could barely keep her eyes open anymore, so Ben prepared the fold-out for her, making it as comfortable as possible with a plethora of extra-soft blankets and pillows.

He also leant her a pair of his sweatpants and a T-shirt to wear to bed, both of which were comically oversized on her.

“I’ve always wanted this,” Rey told him, softly. “I have a lot of friends who like to steal their big brother’s clothes, and I always wished I could do that, too.”

“Well, you’re welcome to ‘steal’ any clothes of mine that you want, Rey. Only you might want to wear a gas mask if you take any from off the floor; otherwise the toxic fumes will probably kill you.”

She chuckled, and Ben said, “Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah?”

“I’ve been noticing this all night; sometimes, you have a little bit of an accent. Hux gets that sometimes too, and he doesn’t seem to know it’s happening. His parents are from Ireland, but yours doesn’t sound Irish. Is your mom like, British, by any chance?”

“Oh ... yeah. Kind of,” Rey said, blushing. “Mom’s parents are both from London. Mom grew up here in the states, but sometimes she would start talking like the both of them. I guess I do the same thing. Daddy always used to tease us about it; he’d say it was like living with two queens of England.”

“Well, I like it a lot. I don’t know what it is about foreign accents that just makes people sound smarter, but they do. And in any case, it’s better you picked up your accent from your mom, instead of Han’s burps and beer farts dialogue.”

They both laughed, and then Ben bent down and very gently kissed her forehead. “Goodnight, sis. I’ll see you in the morning.”

She was asleep almost before Ben had closed the bedroom door behind him.

He was as quiet as possible getting into bed, so that he didn’t wake up Hux. But as tired as he was, he continued to lay awake for quite some time, thinking ... about his father. And mother. And Rey.

Rey hadn’t been able to answer what had happened between his parents so long ago, because she didn’t know. The only two people who DID know were both dead. Except ...

“I wonder if Rey’s mother would be willing to talk to me,” he pondered to himself, softly.

Hux must have heard him, because he mumbled something and shifted in his sleep.

So Ben quickly closed his eyes, and went to sleep, himself.

“Rey, what kind of food does your mom like? Something sweet?”

“Guys, seriously, you don’t need to —“

“If you don’t tell me, I’m gonna make something like prune danish.”

It was mid-morning, after breakfast, and, after talking with Rey about it, Ben had decided to follow her back to her home today, so that he could talk to her mother about their father.

“I just have a lot of questions,” Ben explained, quietly. “And I think she’s the only one who could answer them, you know?”

Rey had nodded and, after calling her mom, confirmed that she would be up for a visit.

Hux, of course, said that he would go with as well, and decided that it would help break the ice if they brought some type of food over to her (against Rey’s insisting that it wasn’t necessary).

Rey made a face and laughed. “Okay, um, she likes things with peaches in it.”

“Hm,” Hux said, the wheels in his head turning. “Would she like something like, peach upside-down cake?”

“What’s that?”

“Basically a smooth vanilla cake with sugar and honey, with a sliced peach and cherry topping and a thin layer of whipped cream in the middle.”

“I’ve never heard of something like that before. That sounds delicious!”

“Good. Then I’d better get to the store!”

“Okay, but I’m coming with then. You’ve got to let me pay for the ingredients, at least.”

“But you don’t —“

But Rey was already pulling on her jacket, and was halfway out the door. “No arguments. Let’s go!”

Hux chuckled and sighed. “This kid is almost as stubborn as YOU,” he said to Ben, pulling on his own jacket. “You coming?”

But Ben shook his head. “You guys go ahead. I’m gonna stay here and straighten up.”

Hux paused by the door. “Are you feeling okay? You were really quiet at breakfast.”

Ben nodded. “Yeah. Just tired, I guess. I was up talking with Rey ‘til almost 5, you know.”

Hux hesitated, as if he wanted to say something else; but he shook it off and, after blowing Ben a kiss, was out the door.

When he was gone, Ben flopped down on the couch, sighing.

While he was ready to meet Rey’s mom and ask his questions ... he was also nowhere near ready to meet Rey’s mom and ask his questions. All he could do was picture his own mother’s worried face when Ben was a kid and money was tight, and he thought how much easier their lives would have been if he had been around to offer any kind of financial support ...

He sighed and forced himself to get up, occupying himself with small cleaning tasks. The key to today was to remain calm, and open-minded, and really listen to whatever it was that Rey’s mother would tell him.

Good advice, solid advice ...

... he just hoped that he could follow it, when the time came.

“Mom! We’re here!”

Ben’s heart was pounding out of his chest, but he was determined to go through with this.

A woman rounded the corner. She was short, like Rey, and had shoulder-length brown hair with mild streaks of white in it. Her eyes were a deep blue, like Hux’s, and she had her daughter’s freckles.

She stood in front of Ben, timidly, as if unsure of what to say.

“Ben. You — you’ve certainly gotten tall, since the last time I saw you. And handsome.”

“Thank you, um —“ he did a slight pause; he knew her proper title would be Mrs. Solo, but he couldn’t bring himself to call her that. Maybe she sensed this, because she hurriedly said, “You can just call me Kira.”

“Hi, I’m Armitage,” Hux said, extending his hand. “Ben’s boyfriend. We brought you something,” he said, gesturing to Ben who was carrying the cake.

“That’s so sweet!”, Kira exclaimed, taking the box from Ben. Ben noticed that her hands were shaking just slightly; was she as nervous about this meeting as he was?

“Oh, Rey, before I forget,” Kira said, turning to her daughter, “You got a call from your school’s admissions office. There was some kind of mix-up with the dorm you signed up for, and they want you to call them as soon as possible to discuss it.”

Rey sighed. “Okay, I’ll do it now. I’ll be right back, guys!”, she said, before taking off up a set of stairs (presumably to her room).

Ben was glad, and hoped that her call would take a long time. It would be easier to speak freely to Kira without Rey sitting right there.

“I’ll go and cut us all some pieces of this cake,” Kira was saying to them now. “Do you boys like tea?”

“Very much so,” Hux replied, with a smile.

Kira went off into the kitchen, and Ben and Hux sat gingerly on the couch.

“She’s nice,” Hux whispered to him.

Ben just nodded. There was so much going on in his head that words were a bit stilted for him.

Kira came back with three plates, then went out a second time, bringing out a teapot and 3 blue cups.

“This is delicious,” Kira said, after taking a bite of the cake. “And I just love peaches. Where did you get this from?”

“Hux made it.”

“Really? Goodness, you’re talented. I’ll have to ask you for this recipe before you go.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

A somewhat awkward pause fell between the three of them, and then Kira ventured an observation:

“You know, you really have your dad’s eyes. Both you and Rey do.”

“So I’ve been hearing,” Ben replied, with a dry smile.

“Thank you, by the way, for being so hospitable to my daughter yesterday. I know it was probably strange having her just show up out of the blue, but she’s always been the impetuous type. A lot like your father that way.”

“It was no trouble. She’s a great kid. I’m glad we met.”

“Rey told me your mother died. I’m very sorry to hear it.”

Ben nodded. “Thank you. I’m sorry for YOUR loss as well.”

“We would have contacted you when he died, but your dad kept everything about you pretty close to his vest. I didn’t even know Rey was digging around in her dad’s old boxes, or that she’s found out about you.”

Here she smiled brightly and said, “I can tell you where he’s buried at, though. Maybe you’d like to visit his grave?”

Before Ben could stop himself, the words “I’d rather slit my throat first” slipped from his mouth.

“Ben!”, Hux exclaimed, somewhat horrified. “Don’t talk to her like that!”

“No, it’s alright, he has every right to be angry.”

“Maybe, but he doesn’t have the right to speak to you like that in your home. Ben, you need to apologize.”

“You’re right; I’m sorry. Kira, I’m not trying to disparage your loss, or your feelings. But you know what? The only thing I know is that one day my dad was there, and the next he wasn’t. And he never came back. He wasn’t there to teach me how to shave, how to drive, to give me a talk about sex or dating, he didn’t see me walk the stage at my high school graduation, or any of that. And the reason —“

“Ben,” Hux said, putting his hand on Ben’s arm.

“No, it’s alright; let him finish.”

“ — and the reason he wasn’t around was because he was here, with you. I’m thankful Rey exists, because she’s a sweet girl and even though I just met her yesterday, I already love her, but all these years of wondering what happened to Han ... yeah. It’s difficult.”

Everybody was silent for a few moments, letting Ben’s words linger in the air. Kira broke the silence by saying,

“I was so young when I met him. 17, just a little younger than Rey is now. I was working at a little diner up the road from my mother’s house. We used to get a lot of truckers. Han was one of those men. He’d stop in every few weeks, always sat at the same spot, always the same meal. He was ... quite handsome. An interesting person to talk to. I’d come over and sit with him on my breaks, and he’d tell me stories about the places he travelled to. I used to look forward to the times he’d be likely to show up more than anything else.”

“You were 17? Han would have been, er, about 25, 26 then? I know you say he was handsome and nice and all that but ... the wedding ring didn’t deter you?”

“He didn’t wear one; at least not when he came in. I know it’s probably difficult for you to believe but, Ben, I had no idea your father was already married when I met him. None whatsoever. He was upfront that he had a young son but he would always say ‘my kid with my ex’. If I had had any kind of clue that not only was he married, but —“

Here she paused, taking a long sip of her tea.

“Anyway, we started to date. He used to bring you with when he came to visit me sometimes. He’d tell me it was ‘his weekend’ with you. And you were the sweetest kid, Ben. Things were moving so fast, and before I knew it, I was expecting Rey. Around this time my grandmother died and left me this house. I spent weeks cleaning it, and dreaming about the life we’d have in it. Your dad and I would get married, there’d be a room for Rey, and one for you, for when your dad had you ‘on the weekends’.”

Here she stopped and shook her head, chuckling ruefully.

“He was a charmer, your dad. An extremely smooth talker. Looking back I guess I should have realized things were wrong with the situation. His reasoning for why he was barely around was his work, doing those interstate hauls. Believable, but not the truth. I’m not trying to justify it but that must have been murder on him, living two lives like he was. Probably why his drinking got so out-of-hand, all of the stress.”

“So ... you really had no clue he was married?”

“I swear to God, I didn’t. By the time I learned the truth about your dad being married to your mom, he’d already gotten his divorce. As ridiculous as it sounds, I loved him, Ben. I was willing to forgive any and everything to be with him. And maybe that speaks to my young age, and immaturity. And for Rey ... I grew up without a father; I didn’t want that for her.”

“Did you know that he hadn’t just gotten a divorce from my mother, but that he disappeared from my life completely?”

“Not right away. I would ask about you all the time, but all your dad would tell me was that he’d lost custody of you completely in the divorce. He said that his ex, er, your mother, didn’t want him around you anymore. That she only agreed to the divorce on the condition that he never tried to see or contact you, for any reason. I ... I thought about calling your mother, myself. I was going to apologize for what had happened, and ask her if Han could start seeing you again, so that Rey could know her brother. I was going to ... but in the end, I didn’t have the guts for it. If the shoe had been on the other foot, I don’t know if I would have heard your mother out, about such a thing.”

“No; I suppose that would be hard for anybody.”

“It’s probably also hard to believe, but, your dad loved you to pieces,” she continued, softly. “Talked about you all the time. How smart you were, how handsome, how funny.”

Ben scoffed; he couldn’t help it slipping out. “How would he know anything about what I was like? He wasn’t around. For all he knew I could have been a thief and a junkie.”

Here Kira smiled. “He has your uncle Luke to thank for that.”

“Huh?”

“Your uncle Luke. He would send your dad long, looong letters about you. He’d tell Han about your grades, the sports you played, just little things about what was going on with you. He’d send pictures, too. We must have a whole box in the attic just full of your pictures.”

Ben sat quietly for a bit, mulling that over.
“Why would Luke do that?”

“Han told me that he and Luke had been friends long before he ever showed interest in your mother. Apparently that friendship carried on even after they split up,” Kira explained. “Luke wanted your dad to know that you were okay. And I have to say, I think he was right. You’ve grown into a fine young man, and that may not have been possible, had things turned out differently.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your dad, you know, he was a good man in a lot of ways, but his drinking and gambling were something else. He cleaned himself up as best he could with us, but it wasn’t perfect. Nobody’s perfect. I think one of the reasons your mother decided to divorce him was because she made it clear she didn’t want that kind of behavior around YOU, and at the time, he wasn’t mentally in a position to take her seriously. And like I said, I guess that speaks to our ages. I was a naive young girl, your mother was an older, smart woman who knew what she wanted and what she deserved. But whatever problems we had, he was an excellent father to Rey. She was his princess. And ... I think maybe that’s the reason he never told her about you. I think he thought that if she knew the ugly truth about his past, he’d lose that hero status he always had in her eyes.”

Before Ben could respond to that, Rey came back down the stairs, balancing a large cardboard box in her arms.

“I thought you might want to look through this,” she explained, as she set it on the table. “There’s a ton of stuff about you in it.”

And she was right. Ben slowly went through the box, pulling out item after item about himself. He find the letters Kira had been talking about, from his Uncle Luke. He found countless photographs of himself, at various ages. First days of school, first day of his first job, standing in front of the first car he ever bought. Prom photos, birthday parties, a picture of Ben and his mother on his graduation day.

Something that Ben pulled from the box made him smile. It was a small children’s watch, a horribly tacky novelty item, plastic band, cracked face with a picture of the Gremlins in the center. Bright, gaudy colors that only a child could love.

“Oh my God, I remember this,” Ben said, softly. “Dad took me to a carnival once when I was about five. You know that game where you have a bunch of ping pong balls and you try to throw them into all the buckets?”

“Yeah,” Hux said, smiling. “They used to play that game on the Bozo the Clown Show. I remember.”

“Well on my first try I missed all the buckets. Like every single one. But then dad paid again, and he crouched behind me, took my arm, and guided me. Hit every target. This was the prize. I used to wear this everywhere. I’d go around telling people the wrong time and continually winding the dial. I thought I lost this ... I had no idea he had it.”

“You’re welcome to have it,” Kira said, with a smile. She got up and went into her bedroom, then came out a few seconds later with a small gold object, which she dropped into Ben’s hand.

“Maybe ... you’d like this, as well? He wore this all the time, on a chain around his neck; I’m not positive but I believe it may have been his wedding band from when he was married to your mother.”

Ben nodded, and slipped it over his finger. It fit.

Before long, Ben was ready to leave. The day had been an emotional one for him, and he felt more than a little tired.

“Thank you for being so gracious, Kira,” he said, as he and Hux prepared to go. “I know this can’t have been easy, but ... I appreciate this look into my father. It means a lot to me.”

Kira nodded, then very timidly put her arms around Ben, hugging him.

“Your dad would have been so proud of the man you are. Your mother too,” she told him when she let go. “Please, don’t be a stranger. You and Hux are welcome back here anytime.”

“I can’t be a stranger now,” Ben said, grinning. “Me and Rey have a lot of things to do this summer, before she runs off to college. Right, kid?”

“Damn right we do,” Rey replied, hugging first Hux, then Ben. “Are we still on for the beach next weekend?”

“We sure are. Just to warn you, though; both Hux and I are as pale as ghosts in the sun, so don’t be scared when you see us. Especially Hux.”

“And you should know that if you decide to wear a bikini or anything like that, Ben will likely be standing in front of you with his death glare, scaring off any boys that may try to talk to you.”

“Good!”, Kira said; and then everybody laughed.

The drive home was quiet for a good while, with Hux in the driver’s seat and Ben beside him.

“You feeling okay?”, Hux finally asked, breaking the silence.

Ben smiled, reached over, and took his free hand, giving it a squeeze. “I feel better than I have in a long, long time.”

And he did.

He didn’t know if he’d ever fully forgive his father for his mistakes, but now he felt more at peace with Han’s choices.

And Kira had made a good point: Ben HAD turned into a good man. Not perfect, by any means, but one that he could be proud of, the way his dad would have been proud of him.

The way Ben KNEW that his mother was proud of him.

And most important of all, he was the kind of man that the one sitting next to HIM was in love with.

And what could be better than that?

“I’m so glad. I was a little worried about how this day might go, but it looks like everything turned out for the best. And Rey is just so — so —“

“I know; she is.”

“I mean, I know me and you aren’t married or anything, but I feel like I just gained a little sister, too.”

“Hm. Maybe it’s time we changed that ‘not married’ thing,” Ben mumbled, twisting his father’s ring around his finger.

Hux glanced over at him. “Did you say something?”

Ben smiled and shook his head. “Just your imagination, babe. Let’s hurry and get home; there’s a bowl of leftover chili in the fridge that’s calling my name.”

“Won’t be the only thing calling your name if you play your cards right,” Hux said softly, grinning.

“Huh? You say something?”

“Nope. Just your imagination. But you’re right, let’s hurry and get home,” Hux replied.

“Fine with me. By the way, Hux; what do vegetarian zombies eat?”