Chapter 45.

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Over the next few days, Rey's training intensified.

Kylo pushed her in new ways, encouraged her to give the extra muscle, challenged her to rise, demanded that she not hold back. As each day passed, she was able to match his hits, strike for strike, able to block and counter.

She was regaining her strength, and then some.

Today, though, was different.

Early in the morning, on another cold and windy day, Rey made her way through the woods and to the training ground to join Kylo just as she did every morning, this time finding him at a large tree, so big she and Kylo would not have been able to fit around it.

Stopping to admire its height, Kylo spoke from behind her.

"Push it down."

Rey turned to meet his eyes, the dark and expecting expression on his face as it always was when she arrived.

"Push it down?" She asked, reaching towards her lightsaber.

His palm extended out, taking her weapon before her hand landed on it. Rey's head whipped to him, glaring at him now.

Rey stepped towards him, and his gaze hardened, jaw tensing as he held the lightsaber away from her fully out of her reach.

"Use the force. You can't be afraid of it. Push the root out from the ground," Kylo clipped her lightsaber to his belt, and Rey felt a surge of protection run through her, eager to have it returned. He pushed her shoulder to make her turn back to the tree. "Break apart the bark, and shred it to pieces."

"Shred it to-" Rey began to mutter, but abruptly stopped as Kylo grabbed her wrist and extended her palm out, leaving it mid-air as he stepped back again.

Rey gulped, looking from the ground and craning her neck to look to the top of the tree, though it was too far to see. The leaves clashed against one another in the wind, sending a small shiver down her back.

With a quick push, she tried to do as instructed...

The idea seemed like a waste of time, and it made Rey irritated that it was her first lesson for the day...Yet, why couldn't she do it?

Stretching her fingers, she tried again.

...And nothing happened.

Behind her, Kylo shifted from one foot to the other, adding to her annoyance.

Again, she tried.

Deep in the ground, she felt thin strands of root break, the dirt around it shuffling around from the tension.

Rey's jaw clenched, feeling frustrated and embarrassed that it wasn't happening. Lately, she had been using the force during training, but only when she absolutely needed to, when her and Kylo were dueling and he disarmed her, she would do the same.

It was the bare minimum, an instinct that kicked in when her body called for it.

And now, she was standing here, waiting for it to arrive, though she could feel her mind actively pushing it away.

Kylo approached her, standing directly behind as he placed his hand over hers one more, nudging the back of her leg to get into a fighting stance.

"Don't be afraid." he said, his breath tickling her ear. Goosebumps arose across her arms, her own breathing hitched. "You've done it before...You've allowed the force in... You became one with it. Control the power," their fingers extended once more towards the tree. "Control the energy."

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