Deviant Art

Beyond the Grave

By Estelle Bookwalter (Estelliot)

Twisted from Star Wars

Kylo was disgusted.

With his father. His room. The melted mask that usually brought solace.

Mostly with himself.

He glanced at his lightsaber, hoping the memories it held would chase the light away.

The red light tore through the man before him with no remorse or hesitation, unlike the man wielding the weapon. Han Solo didn’t even look surprised, only reaching up and laying a hand on his face …

Why? Why was it that all he could see was that last act? The clear act of forgiveness that was the last thing Han Solo—the man Kylo hated and still hates—ever did.

Even after literally being stabbed through by his son.

Kylo’s stomach gave a terrible lurch, and he tore his gaze from the weapon.

Why had he been forgiven? He didn’t need … He didn’t deserve …

His eyes found Darth Vader’s mask, and quickly averted.

He looked down at his hands, because elsewise he would see the accusing eyes of the twisted mask or the lightsaber he hadn’t been able to even hold properly since its—his—last act of murder.

More important, he asked himself to divert his attention from that last moment, why hasn’t it worked?

Killing Han Solo was supposed to kill the light as well. Darkness should have finally accepted him; the light should have given up.

But it didn’t.

The pull of the light was stronger than ever. He felt … Guilt. Remorse. More sharply than he had ever felt either before.

He also felt duty. Power. Fear. The ever-present fear that Snoke would sense his light, his weakness, and realize that Hux was right, that he had always been right, about Kylo’s weakness and about his moral qualms.

The two opposing, and now equally strong, sides were tearing him apart.

Kylo beat his injured side with his fist. Pain, Snoke had always taught, made the dark side stronger.

Only, this time, it wasn’t working.

He stopped and instead grabbed his side, squeezing. There just needed to be more. More pain. More suffering. More power.

Han Solo was disoriented.

He couldn’t remember anything after landing on the Starkiller.

Looking around in a disoriented daze, he took in the room he was apparently in—it was dark. Everything was in shades of grey, some dark enough to be black. There seemed to be nothing personal at all in the place, save for the lightsaber.

At the sight of the weapon, the memories came rushing back.

The shields lowering, the fighters doing little damage, sneaking in with Finn, Rey, and Chewie.

Seeing his son.

Then the bridge …

Han looked down at himself, confused. How had he survived? Why was he in this room instead of a hospital bed?

… Was he glowing?

Han cast his eyes around for a mirror and, upon spotting one, stopped cold.

Wow, he was looking good.

You know, besides being transparent and blue.

He was dead. But the whole looking-30-years-younger thing was totally worth it.

Funny, though, that he didn’t remember actually dying. He had been alive when he fell off the bridge, he knew that much, but sometime between then and hitting the ground everything had just … stopped.

He must be one of those force projections Luke had always talked about. Though he didn’t know how that was possible seeing as he didn’t have the force …

Han was pulled out of his musings by a choked sob and, for the first time, he noticed someone else in the room. For a moment, it was too dark to see him properly, and the black he was wearing didn’t make that easier. But then the man turned slightly, and despite the shadows and his screwed-shut eyes, Han knew him immediately.

Ben. His son. His murderer.

What was he supposed to do?

Han had no delusions about his parenting skills. Any he had previously were crushed years ago. So what’s a father to do when he sees the son who just murdered him suffering?

A question for the ages, no doubt. Han was fairly certain that no other father had been faced with this particular problem, and he definitely wasn’t the one to solve it.

He’d always been a walk-it-off kind of guy, but thought that probably wasn’t the right answer in this case.

“Ben?” he asked hesitantly, taking a cautious step forward.

“Don’t call me that!” The man snapped, jumping up from the bed and facing the intruder while simultaneously calling his lightsaber to his hand. The weapon felt wrong, and he didn’t activate it like he would have even just the day before for fear of seeing his father’s forgiveness again. The forgiveness that cut deeper than any scathing remarks, hateful glares, or accusing stares ever could.

The demand was more of a reflex than anything, overriding the first logical question: Who are you?

“Why not? It’s your name, isn’t it?” Han shot back immediately, momentarily forgetting that he had started this conversation to comfort the kid.

“… Who are you?” Kylo had seen the pictures, mostly mug shots and “wanted” posters, of his younger father. He had heard stories with descriptions of how he looked. But Kylo knew only Jedi had force projections, and his father was no Jedi. Kylo had to believe that it wasn’t his father. If it really was Han Solo … It just … It couldn’t be.

“What, you don’t recognize your own dad?” Han asked, raising an eyebrow snippily. He knew Kylo was smart enough to know who he was.

Kylo felt a torrent of conflicting emotions. Fear, first and foremost, but wasn’t it always? Then dread, and anger.

The one he hated most, the one he tried desperately to suppress, was relief.
Happiness, maybe? That his father didn’t hate him, that Han was here and yet not within Snoke’s grasp.

Disgusting. He was Kylo Ren, second only to Snoke in power, disciple of the dark side and leader of the Knights of Ren. He shouldn’t feel things like relief—not in response to something as sentimental as forgiveness.

Han saw the many emotions rage through his son’s eyes, saw the still-dormant lightsaber droop as the hand holding it relaxed before suddenly grasping it harder than before.

He allowed a grin; he’d never really been good at poker faces unless in a life-or-death situation (which, he supposed, would never be the case again). Kylo was conflicted. That meant killing him didn’t work; Ben was still in there somewhere, perhaps even closer to the surface now.

“So you’ve made some bad decisions, kid. You know what Luke’s dad was like; he was misled, just like you, and when he finally found the right path he was accepted right away.” Han really, really hoped that this was the right thing to say. Seeing the steel behind his son’s eyes falter once more, Han decided to push just a bit more. “Your mother and I still love you.”

Kylo nearly crumpled to the floor at those words. His mother.

The pain he’d been seeking earlier hit like a wall, but it wasn’t physical. This time, it was emotional. And this time, it did strengthen the force.

But not the right side of the force.

The dark receded and the light shined brighter than it had since he was a child.

Kylo ground his teeth together, one hand grasping the lightsaber as if he thought he actually had the willpower to activate it while the other once again tried to chase away the light with physical pain.

That was stopped by an image of his mother flashing through his mind, accompanied by a sob tearing out of his throat.

“I don’t deserve …,” he forced out, trying to keep the tears at bay. Kylo caught himself when he saw his ghostly father begin to reach for him, hand tightening around his lightsaber once more. “I don’t need your forgiveness!” he spat, trying to slap Han’s hand away.

The ex-con gave his son a wholly unimpressed look as the flailing appendage passed right through him.

“Look, kid, you aren’t getting rid of me that easily.”

When his father had said he wouldn’t leave that easily, Kylo had hoped he was bluffing. He’d hoped that the dead man would get fed up with his constant anger and refusal to listen and eventually either just fade away or maybe leave to see Leia instead.

But he didn’t.

He wouldn’t just stay in the room, either. Han would follow him everywhere—the jerk claimed he had nothing better to do since he didn’t even have to eat or sleep anymore. And he wasn’t well behaved.

Han would make derisive comments about Snoke (“What, you’ve only seen this hologram thing? This guy could be a Gungan for all you know!”) during important meetings. He would make fun of Hux’s failed clone problem at the most inopportune moments, which was a rather large problem because Kylo actually found those comments vindictively funny. It was his tendency to go behind anyone who happened to be talking and distract Kylo in any way he could think of, including, but not limited to, break dancing, looming, pretending to force-choke the speaker, pretending to be force-choked, and attempting to move physical objects (which Kylo, though he was mortified by the feeling, thought was actually amusing on occasion). The real problem, though, was that Han was growing on him. Yes, the man was still irritating. He was obnoxious and insolent. But, occasionally, he was also insightful and even fatherly.

When Kylo’s eyes would seek the twisted mask of Darth Vader for reinforcement of his beliefs, they would instead catch on the glowing blue man reclined sloppily on the floor beside it. Every time that happened, Han would smile at him. As if he had planned it that way. As if he had strategically placed himself, literally a beacon of light, between his son and the well of darkness.

Kylo could feel the light inside him. It would swell and ebb just as before; it was still unstable. But now, with a constant reminder of what the light could produce stalking him everywhere, it was getting undeniably stronger.

And that, like nearly everything else, scared him.

What scared him even more, though, was when he caught himself wondering how the rebels would react if he did change sides. Would they accept him, as Han insisted? Would they possibly shoot first and ask questions later? Would he go only for the darkness to return, and then have to chase away the feelings that would come from betraying them? … Could his mother really still love him after all he had done?

No. No. Maybe they would, maybe he could. But he wouldn’t. He had pledged his allegiance to Snoke. He would not leave.

His loyalty to Snoke was not borne out of positive feeling such as love or friendship, as Han had taken to pointing out. He was loyal because he was terrified.

Terrified of what Snoke would do to him if he weren’t loyal. Terrified of losing his power. Terrified of facing the world without his power. Terrified of what people, of what she, his mother, would think of him if he were to step down from his self-made pedestal and face them as if he were their equal. Because if he were their equal, then their thoughts would matter. So he simply wasn’t.

Han regarded his sleeping son with conflicted emotions.

The kid was wavering, that much was clear. But he was also incredibly stubborn.
A trait that Han wished hadn’t been passed down from both himself and Leia while also being strangely proud of Ben for being able to hold his ground.

How was he supposed to act now? He thought he’d been doing a pretty good job of not being as flippant as usual, but was acting so … well, Leia called it childish, but it apparently got her to like him, so it couldn’t be that bad. Was it the right choice?

Ben tried to get him to believe the snarky comments and obnoxious actions only made him angry and annoyed, but Han sometimes caught what seemed to be an aborted laugh or even a slight upturn of the lip that might have been a suppressed smile.

Ben started grumbling as he awoke (Han rolled his eyes; the kid was even irritable when he was asleep), and his eyes slowly slid open.

Still half asleep, the first thing Ben Solo saw was his father’s blue and transparent form as he had been when Ben was a child.

Thinking he was still asleep, he smiled.

Han nearly died of shock.

The dumbfounded expression switched almost immediately into a face-splitting grin, even when Ben’s eyes widened almost comically and he sat up explosively.

“What are you smiling about?” he snapped, trying to cover up his slip. It wasn’t nearly as biting as he wanted it to be.

Han didn’t stop grinning even as his son made a special effort to glare even harder than usual as he got ready for the day, but decided not to comment on it just yet. He followed silently, spring in his step as his son led the way to the main meeting room and was confronted by Hux.

Han’s grin grew even more, if possible, as he quickly positioned himself behind the redhead.

One of these days, he was going to make Ben laugh.