Armitage Hux is seven years old. He is fairly sure that the birthday girl, Sally Mitchell, doesn’t want him here, but Sally’s dad and Armitage’s dad work together and so an invitation dutifully arrived: bears holding balloons, space to write in that he would be delighted to attend. In truth, Armitage is far from delighted to be here – the other children are shrill and rough, their mouths ringed with smears of chocolate cake.
Sally’s mother, a beautiful woman in a blue and white sundress, ineffectively tries to shepherd the children out into the garden for a ‘surprise’, but the birthday girl launches into a tantrum. “I WANT TO OPEN MY PRESENTS NOW MUMMY I WANT THEM NOW NOW.” The weary chaperone accedes to these screaming demands and the ‘party’ moves into the living room, where a teetering pile of wrapped parcels awaits. Armitage has no desire to see Sally open her presents. His step-mother Maratelle tutted aloud when she saw the ‘suggested gift list’ attached to the invitation. “I must say this Sally sounds like a very spoiled little girl.”
Armitage lingers behind the shrieking, stampeding mass, slipping out through a partially open sliding door and into the neat little rectangle of garden, where rows of folding chairs are set up. A large doll is propped up on top of a black crate: a beautiful thing with white satin clothes, a floppy, ruffled collar, and a conical hat. Its face is white with delicate black eyebrows, curled like musical notations. Armitage startles when the ‘doll’ moves, opening its eyes and stretching its arms out in a mimed yawn.
“Excuse me, sir,” Armitage says. “I don’t think the others are coming.”
The clown smiles, teeth a little yellow against the white of the makeup: a curious, human detail. It holds up one finger as if it has thought of something and gracefully flops off the trunk and manoeuvres its body around the other side. It unlatches the trunk and rummages around, the smiling eyes appearing over the lid. It snaps a piece of something bright orange, stretching it out and letting it snap back: a balloon.
Armitage sits cross-legged on the grass and watches the clown as it makes a performance of blowing up and manoeuvring the squeaky balloon. He sees the animal taking shape: a cat with a long, curved tail. Armitage takes it with reverent hands.
He names her Millicent and keeps her in his bedroom until the rubber goes wrinkled and saggy and the cleaning lady throws it away.
Ben Solo is seven years old, full of cheese pizza and riding high on roughly a gallon of soda. The other kids at the party are still occupied by the skeeball and game machines, but his cousin Rey is bored, begging him to play hide and go seek with her. He agrees on the condition he can be first to hide.
He can faintly hear Rey counting fiiiiive, siiiix as he slips out the side door of the dining room and into some kind of service area beyond. He finds a square of cracked concrete where old extra chairs are stacked up, their legs coated with a creeping green mold. Steam that smells like fryer grease drifts from an extractor vent overhead, billowing across the small yard like fog. Through this haze, Ben can see that there is a figure leaning against one of the dumpsters, a man in a brightly-coloured satin suit. It’s Coco, the mascot of Coco’s Circus Funtime Diner, though he doesn’t look the same as he did earlier when he was capering on the stage and performing pratfalls. His red, curly wig has been pushed back to reveal greasy, greying hair and some of his white face paint is flaking off, while the rest of it has settled into the deep furrows of his brow as he scowls and sucks on the butt-end of a cigarette.
“What the fuck do you want?” the clown snarls.
Kylo the Klown looks at himself in the mirror. His cheap satin outfit is black with silver stripes and he has done his make-up to complement it: a white base and a big black mouth shape; bands of alternating white and black around his eyes.
The others have just gone with generic rubber masks, but for some reason he can’t explain, Ben went straight for the face paint. He spent a long time looking at reference photos on the internet, trying all combinations of ‘creepy’/’scary’/’evil’ plus ‘clown’. There were a lot of horror movie versions to copy from, but he wrote off Stephen King’s ‘It’ and Twisty the Clown from American Horror Story as too obvious and recognisable. In the end he went for something more abstract: a series of lines in long, scrolling shapes that framed his eyes, suggesting the furrows of a brow contracted; a dark mouth shape like a triangle with two wonky, down-turned corners, suggesting a big, theatrical frown. Within this black void he draws in some sharp and interlocking teeth.
He gels his hair into three messy tufts and fixes it in place with a ton of hairspray that makes him cough, then he straightens the ruffles around his neck that he deliberately made look tattered and sooty. Straightening up, he swings his backpack up onto his shoulder and heads out of the bedroom, taking the rickety stairs two at a time.
It’s getting dark and the drizzle makes everything greyer and gloomer. Ben hurries through the alley and through the disused parking lot, keeping to the straggly bushes so the Denny’s patrons won’t spot him. He makes his way to the freeway underpass and waits just around the corner, taking from his bag the heart-shaped balloon a little girl left behind at the end of his shift, tied to one of the diner chairs. He covered it in a mix of ketchup and Hershey’s syrup (for viscosity) and it looks suitably horrifying. He widens his stance and waits, turning himself into a human statue beneath the flickering blue light that buzzes overhead.
The first passerby of the night is a young man in a hoodie, his ears covered with bulky headphones and gaze fixed on the ground. He doesn’t even notice Ben — Ben calls out after him, a gruff ‘hey!’ but he does not look back. Next come two teenagers - a tall, stocky youth in an oversize basketball shirt and girl with large gold hoops in her ears. They are almost past Ben when they see him. The guy screams louder than the girl and grabs her arm to pull her in front of himself as a shield. She elbows him and hits him with her purse and they both turn to Ben and yell out strings of curse words before running for the exit — Ben hears them laughing and screaming as they reach the steps.
The third passerby is a tall, skinny guy with red hair and a messenger bag. He wears a navy blue suit that looks well-tailored and has a look of preoccupation and vague annoyance on his face. When he sees Ben he comes to a halt and cocks his head to one side, then he takes out a smartphone and snaps a photo.
“Hey,” Ben growls, blinking against the flash. “I didn’t say you could take my fucking picture.”
“Do you charge?” the guy asks. He has a British accent, very clipped and prissy. “Is that what this is — busking?”
“You gonna call the cops on me or something? It’s not a fucking crime to wear a costume.”
“Wait. Are you with the others?” the man asks.
“What others?” Ben asks, disingenuously.
“The other clowns. I’m collecting quite a portfolio.” The man turns his phone around and flicks through a gallery of pictures: Kelly crouching in the bushes by the freeway; Brittany and Sketch looking out from around a tree in the park. A blurry picture of Crizz as he crosses a lawn of some suburban house.
“Wait,” Ben says, “Are you that perverted stalker?”
“Hmm?” says the man, his face looking ghostly as it is uplit by the phone screen.
“One of my crew said he was standing in the backyard of this house with sliding doors and he could see some guy jerking off, and then a camera flashed. Was that you?”
“It’s not illegal to masturbate in one’s own home,” says the man, primly. “You’re the ones wandering the town with a view to terrorizing it.”
“It’s just a joke,” Ben says.
“And who finds it funny, exactly?”
“We do! It’s like… performance art.”
“Hmm,” the man says again. “You’re different from the others,” he says, cocking his head to the side again as if to appraise him. “You’re not wearing a cheap mask, for a start. Did you do that make-up yourself?”
“Of course I did!”
“It’s not without charm. The teeth are a bit much, if you want my opinion, and I wouldn’t have mixed styles like that.” The look the man was giving Ben was warm, almost… seductive? That couldn’t be right.
“Hey man, is this your fetish? You get off on this shit or something?”
The man laughs. “Well, obviously.”
“That’s fucked up.”
“I’m not the one lying in wait in an underpass. What’s your name?”
“Kylo the Clown. Not bad — it’s all a bit cobbled together but there is a unifying,” the man makes a circular gesture with his wrist, “... aesthetic.”
Ben straightens up. “Are you coming on to me?”
“Very astute. Listen, I’m in a hurry just now, but if you’d like to meet I can do…” he consults his phone again, apparently swiping through to his calendar, “Fridays at five?”
“For me sucking your dick.”
“What?” Ben loses his grasp on the balloon and it goes floating up to bump against the ceiling.
“Take it or leave it — I’m a very busy man.”
“And what — you feel like doing me a favour?”
The man gestures between them. “As you so cleverly pointed out, this is a fantasy of mine.”
Ben licks his lips, feeling the dry rasp of the makeup. “Ok… where?”
Ben wraps his arms around himself, shivering in the thin satin. The rain is pouring down in misty sheets, bouncing off the broken asphalt of the parking lot. The alley shelters Ben from the worst of the rain but he worries about his make-up. Weird Hot Guy might decide it’s a deal-breaker if the face paint runs.
He hears an engine and the harsh blare of a horn. He looks around the corner and sees a ridiculously small red and black car idling in the empty lot. Ben ducks his head and moves at a quick, loping pace as he covers the open ground between the alley and the car. He clambers in, awkwardly folding his legs into the cramped space of the two-seater car.
“Hey,” Ben says, looking slightly sheepish. “Wasn’t sure you’d show.”
“Of course,” Hot Weird Guy says, “I’ve been thinking about it all week. Here, tilt the seat back, let me look at you.”
Ben fumbles with the seat settings, tilting back and looking at the other man with open curiosity. He is wearing a grey suit and tie, his ginger hair combed in a neat side-parting. His eyes could be blue or green or grey in the low light. Rain slides down the windows and blocks out the world: it feels very intimate and very awkward.
“You’ve been working on your make-up,” Hot Weird Guy observes with a critical tilt of his head.
“Yeah, I’m… do you like it?”
“You missed some spots,” a cold fingertip touches the space behind his ear and Ben shudders.
“I want it to look like a mask. Is that not… right?”
The man shakes his head. “If you’re a grotesque whiteface, all visible skin should be covered in the base.”
“If I’m a what?”
“Your aesthetic. It’s called grotesque whiteface.”
“Is that like a… clown technical term?”
“Yes. Didn’t you do your research?”
“I looked up reference pictures.”
The man sighs. “‘Grotesque’ means exaggerated. So you have exaggerated facial features painted over a white base.”
“I didn’t know there were different kinds.”
“What?” the man looks taken aback. “Clowning traditions go back hundreds of years in many different countries — of course there are different kinds.”
“Well I don’t have a PhD in clownology, or whatever! I’m not… I mean I’m not really a clown. You get that, right? This dressing up it’s… just something me and my friends do because we thought it’d be funny to freak people out. Y’know, because most people think clowns are creepy as fuck.”
“I don’t think that’s true,” Hot Weird Guy sniffs. “Clowns are beloved entertainers.” He reaches out to run his fingertips lightly up and down Ben’s thigh.
“What’s your name?” Ben asks.
“Is that short for something, or…?”
“No. Shall we get down to it, Kylo?” The fingertips brush the Velcro fastening at the front of the satin onesie. Hux licks his lips and looks down.
“You don’t have to do anything. Just sit back.”
Ben breathes out slowly as he heard the sound of the Velcro pulling apart, a cool, long-fingered hand rubbing against the front of his brushed cotton shorts. His dick hardens quickly and he feels his underwear being tugged down and a bare hand stroking him. He moans softly, tilting his head back.
Hux turns and scrabbles for something in the back seat – not actually a seat, more a tiny storage area barely big enough to stow his messenger bag. He rummages around and comes back with a square of foil. When he rips it open a peculiar sweet, synthetic aroma fills the enclosed space. It isn’t until Ben sees the colour of the condom that Hux rolls down over his dick (a pale, translucent yellow) that he puts it all together – the flavour is buttered popcorn. Hux strokes him and they both watch the way the latex ripples. Hux has to contort himself impressively to get into a position to suck it down, making a resonant sound of enjoyment in his throat and fisting one hand in the satin covering Ben’s hip. Ben gasps and fights against the urge to dig his fingers into the neat copper corrugations of Hux’s hair, settling for laying a hand on his back instead.
Ben has sucked dick before – he always found it a bit awkward, something that was enjoyable because of the thought of what he was doing, rather than the sensations it gave him. Hux looks voracious: his eyes closed, mouth stretched wide and throat working as he bobs. He pulls off and sucks lingeringly at the head, the tip of his tongue darting out to agitate the reservoir tip, one hand still squeezing and pumping around the base.
“Fuck,” says Ben, voice quavering. “Fuck, you’re so…”
Hux reaches between the seats and rummages for something else. Incredibly, he comes back with a can of whipped cream, which he uncaps and shakes until it rattles like spray paint, then brings to the tip of Ben’s dick, spraying out an artful swirl. He reaches back and fumbles around, cursing under his breath.
“What?” Ben asks, feeling the dollop of cream trembling precariously.
“Forgot the hundreds-and-thousands,” Hux gives an irritated huff of breath.
“Oh… what do you call them here? Yes — sprinkles.”
“Are those important?”
“No, never mind.” Hux leans in and runs his tongue through the cream, smearing it down Ben’s shaft.
Ben stares down at the way Hux’s tongue undulates, the dab of cream at the edge of his lip looking like – well, like he has just taken a shot of come to the face. Hux sucks and licks messily and makes sounds of considerable pleasure. One of his hands is cupped over his still-clothed crotch and he rocks against it as if he enjoys the tease.
“Baby,” Ben says, groaning helplessly as he squeezes the back of Hux’s neck and then settles his hand on the curve of his pert little ass. “Fuck I’m close. You’re gonna make me lose it – look at you, so greedy— licking that cream off my clown cock.”
Hux makes a high, surprised sound and Ben watches in surprise as he clamps his thighs together and shudders.
“Fuck… oh fuck did I just make you come?”
Hux gasps and swallows him down, squeezing the base of Ben’s dick extra hard as if in retaliation. Ben jerks, hips twitching in upwards circles as he reaches his own orgasm. He pants and falls back against the uncomfortable seat, then raises his hands to his face and only remembers not to rub and smear his make-up at the last second.
Ben pulls off the condom wrinkling on his softening dick and rolls down the window, lobbing the thing in the direction of a trash barrel. The damp air feels very refreshing on his face and he sighs again and tucks himself back into his underwear, fumbling to fit the Velcro fastening together straight. When he turns his head back towards Hux he finds the other man dabbing delicately at the corner of his own mouth with a baby wipe.
“Sorry I made you come in your pants,” Ben says, looking down at the dark stain on the other man’s crotch. “I would have returned the favour. Though uh, I’m lactose intolerant, so…”
“Yes, well,” Hux frowns as he twists the wipe around his index finger, “I’m sure you have important business to get back to. Terrorizing the elderly and appearing in blurry camera-phone footage, et cetera .”
“Yeah,” Ben says. “Most of my friends don’t get off work ‘til later though. I uh… I got put on breakfast shift, which sucks. You seem like a nine-to-five type, I guess.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because I figured you’d want to meet up again. For the… clown sex.”
“This arrangement works fine for me.”
“We could… I could come to your place. I mean I love blowjobs but I’m kind of claustrophobic.”
“You come with a lot of disclaimers, don’t you?”
“I just figure… if you want to get into a roleplay we might need some space.”
“Don’t hurt yourself thinking too hard,” Hux leans across Ben to open the passenger-side door. “Off you pop.”
Ben scowls at him as he climbs out, straightening the ruffles on his collar fastidiously. “You’re kind of a weirdo, do you know that?”
“That’s rather a pot-kettle situation, don’t you think?” Hux replies. “Same time next week. Don’t be late.”
Ben learns that there are a lot of strange things about Hux, above and beyond the fact that he has a clown fetish. Like that he will give extremely involved blowjobs in a smart car, but it takes several weeks before he’ll even agree to exchange phone numbers and longer still before he will agree to let Ben come to his home.
The house turns out to be a new build in a gated community. This surprises Ben: from the kind of car Hux drives, Ben had assumed he was on a very modest income. As he waits at the pedestrian gate he pulls his hood up and adjusts the straps of his backpack, looking out over manicured strips of lawn and ornamental shrubs; houses with big, front-facing windows. This would have been a great place for him to roam about in costume — were it not for the high odds of getting tazed and put under citizen’s arrest by some overzealous neighbourhood-watch type. After Hux comes on the intercom to buzz him in, Ben walks along the wide, curved street and up the driveway of one of the identical ranch-style houses.
Hux opens the door still in what Ben assumes are his work clothes, though he has removed the tie and opened the top button of his shirt. Even from the little personal information Ben has been able to squeeze from the other man, he can tell Hux is not the sort of person who owns loungewear.
“Hey,” Ben says pushing back his hood and shaking out his damp hair.
Hux visibly recoils. “You’re not… I thought…”
“I don’t have a car, dumbass. The costume’s in my bag.”
“Yes, of course. I just wasn’t prepared for—” Hux waves his hand to indicate Ben’s face. “You know.”
“Sorry my real face is so offensive,” Ben scowls. “Do you have a place I can get ready?”
“Yes,” Hux steps back, seeming to recall his manners. “Come in, I’ll show you… do you want a drink?”
“Sure,” Ben follows Hux through to a kitchen that blazes with track-lighting.
“Sorry everything is so… beige. I haven’t had a chance to decorate.”
“Hey, compared to my place, this is a palace. I ate breakfast out of a measuring cup this morning because my fucking roommates are pigs.”
“What do you like to drink?” Hux asks, wiping his hands on the back of his pants as he stares at the big stainless-steel refrigerator. He seems nervous, or uncomfortable, somehow. Definitely not the type who is used to entertaining.
“Uh…” the answer to the question is ‘whatever spirit I can get, watered down with orange soda’, but Ben does not want Hux to think he lacks class. “Beer, if you’ve got it.”
“Of course.” Hux pulls a bottle of some fancy microbrew out of the refrigerator and struggles with an opener.
“Here,” Ben takes it from him and angles it against the granite worksurface, smacking off the cap with the edge of his hand. “Party trick.”
“Do you want a glass?”
“Nah, I’m good.” Ben takes a swig and tries not to flinch when bubbles go up his nose. “So you moved here for work, right? What do you do?”
“Is that interesting?”
They stare at each other for a long moment. “So you’re from England?” Ben tries again. “Do you miss it?”
“Not especially.” Hux replies.
Ben waits to see if there is any more information forthcoming, but there isn’t. “You must find it pretty hot and humid down here. Do you like it?”
Hux shrugs aggressively. “Here? It’s positively hellish. Everything in the entire town is either slow or broken.”
“Yeah, sometimes I think the whole damn place is sinking into the swamp.”
“Mmm.” Hux scratches his cheek and looks off, as if impatient or distracted. Ben feels a spark of anger.
“Listen — no offense Hux, but I feel like I’m doing a lot of work here, conversation-wise.”
Hux sighs. “Kylo, I don’t want you to labour under the misapprehension that we are… dating, or something of that nature. There’s no need for us to exchange personal information or chat about the weather.”
“My name is Ben — Kylo is the clown’s name. And I know you’re a cagey little fuck with no interest in dating me, but I don’t think it would kill you to make small-talk. I’m a person, you know, when I’m not fulfilling your fetish. You could show a little hospitality.”
Hux crosses his arms over his chest and gives him a look of begrudging amusement. “Alright, Ben, would you like a tour of my collection?”
“Collection of what? Creepy clown memorabilia?”
“It’s not creepy, it’s of immense historical value!”
Hux leads him up the stairs and opens the door, flicking on a light switch to illuminate shelves full of dolls and figurines. The far wall is covered with vintage circus posters.
“This is a room of nightmares,” Ben says, keeping back beyond the threshold and letting out a low, wondering whistle. “You could pay me a thousand dollars and I would not spend the night in this room. Jesus Christ, is that an animatronic?” Ben pointed towards a glass box in the corner that contains the top half of a brightly-painted mannequin. The label on the top of the box reads ‘The Laughing Clown.’
“Oh yes, this is a new acquisition. Very special.” Hux bends down and plugs it into the wall. The figure lights up and begins to rock from side to side, emitting an unearthly drone punctuated by staccato ‘HA’s.
“Needs some repairs,” Hux remarks, yanking the plug and leaving the figure slumped to one side, its puppet mouth stuck open. “But really a fine piece.”
Ben grimaces. “Do you masturbate in here? Is this like… your playroom?”
“Please! Some of these items are very valuable. I wouldn’t risk contaminating them.”
“Thank fuck for that.”
“I keep my sex toys and pornography in the bedroom closet, like a respectable person.”
“Just how much of that is clown-themed?”
Hux rolls his eyes. “Don’t be obtuse. I have a fetish, you understand what that means, don’t you?”
“So like… you can’t get off unless there’s a clown involved?” Ben scratches his chin. “Have you never had like ‘regular’ sex?”
“Well, I have my imagination, of course. My partner doesn’t have to dress up, I just vastly prefer it.” Hux gestures for Ben to step back from the room; a cold shiver runs up his spine as he does so. “Here, I’ll show you where you can get ready.”
Hux leads him to what must be the master bedroom. He looks up at the shelves and sees that there is only one visible clown — a little black and white jointed doll wearing a diamond-patterned silk smock, perched on the edge of an otherwise respectable bookshelf. Hux gestures towards the dressing table set against the far wall. It has an upholstered bench seat set before it and is topped with a triptych of mirrors.
“Do you mind if I watch?” Hux asks, seating himself on the end of the bed. “I won’t speak if you find that distracting.”
“No. I mean… you’ve seen it before. It’s not a secret.” Ben takes a gulp of his beer and sets it down on the dressing table. He then begins to undress, roughly folding the clothing items and placing them on the beige carpet. When he gets down to his underwear he rifles in the bag and pulls out the flimsy polyester suit. He notices Hux’s gaze sharpen at this, his hands clenching on his knees and lips pressing together in a line. Ben steps into it and gets his arms into the sleeves, adjusting the layers of his ruffled collar. Hux showed little sign of interest when faced with Ben’s near-naked body, but now he is staring, mouth slack.
Ben slips on the boots that go with the outfit — not clown shoes (he’s not that dedicated) but a battered pair of work boots he found pushed to the back of a shelf in Goodwill — and takes his place at the dressing table. He begins with the white base, making an extra-special effort to get it into the crevices of his ears and apply it evenly along his jaw and down his neck. He moves on to the black, filling in the hollows of his eyes and the outline of the mouth. He struggles a little, his hand shaking; he wants to make it perfect, but he is aware of Hux’s intent, scrutinizing gaze.
“May I?” Hux asks, approaching the table and nudging Ben’s hip until he slides up and makes room. Hux sits down with his body facing the opposite direction, as if they are a couple on an old-fashioned love chair. He takes the brush and twirls it delicately in the pot of black, squeezing off the excess as he turns the fibres. He takes Ben’s jaw delicately between finger and thumb and touches the cold tip of the brush to Ben’s temple, drawing the brow-line in in a long, confident stroke.
“How about,” he asks, gaze flicking up to meet Ben’s, “I do something a little different with the mouth?” He twists open the pot of red that Ben uses for creating bloody details on the teeth and selects a new brush. He pours out a splash from the plastic water bottle Ben keeps on hand for this purpose onto the dried disc of paint and dabbles the brush in it, gazing up at Ben intently, then sets to work. Ben closes his eyes and allows himself to be lulled by the feeling of the cool, wet bristles tickling his lips. It is weirdly pleasurable — intimate, even.
He hears Hux make a humming sound of satisfaction and opens his eyes. In the mirror he sees a clown — not a ‘creepy clown’ but something that looks artistic and just a little bit sad.
“Would you mind…” Hux taps his own bottom lip thoughtfully, smearing a little red paint there. “Can I add something?”
“It depends,” says Ben, a little suspicious. “I’m not wearing a wig, I hate those things.”
“It’s just a little finishing touch,” Hux disappears into his walk in closet, returns with something clenched in his hand. “Close your eyes.”
When Ben does so he feels a pinch on the tip of his nose. He opens his eyes to see a small red ball perched there. “Great,” he frowns at his profile, “like I need to make that thing look bigger.”
Hux sighs. “Kylo, the features of a clown are meant to be exaggerated. What you look like underneath — whatever you might consider an imperfection — means nothing.” He opens a dresser drawer and produces a pair of stretchy white gloves, pulling them carefully over Ben’s paint-stained hands. He then grasps hold of Ben’s wrists and lifts the gloved hands to his own face, making a soft sound of bliss when Ben begins to caress him, touching his cheeks and trailing his thumbs down to Hux’s neck and back up again. Hux holds his gaze with a dark, challenging look, opening his mouth and allowing Ben to stick a fingertip in; to trace the sharp edges of the teeth on his lower jaw.
“So…” Ben says in the lower, huskier voice that belongs to the character. “How about you show me some of the toys in your closet?”
Hux grins at him, pulling off the finger he has been diligently sucking, wetting the stretchy fabric through. “I’m wearing one right now.”
“You kinky little…” Ben shakes his head. “How about you show me that?” he rubs his thumb along Hux’s bottom lip, thinks about kissing him but isn’t quite brave enough. Hux would probably be angry if he ruined the makeup.
“Why don’t you find it?” Hux suggests, getting up and crossing to the bed. He eases down and leans back on his hands, his eyes bright and lips wet and parted.
Ben — Kylo as he must think of himself — stands up and approaches the bed. Hux has a look on his face like absolute surrender; no-one has ever looked at him that way before and he feels a surge of power and excitement.
“I hear someone has a surprise for me,” Kylo says, a low, chuckling voice as he grasps Hux’s hips and pushes him down on the mattress. Hux wriggles with wordless excitement under his hands, twisting and making sharp, breathy sounds. “Where could it be, hmm?” He tickles Hux’s stomach and plucks at the buttons on the front of his shirt. The shirt pops open as Hux twists onto his front and Kylo strips it off, discarding it on the floor. “Not here, huh? Where could that hidey-hole be?” Kylo pinches Hux’s nipples, feeling their stiffness even through the cotton of his gloves, prods a fingertip into Hux’s navel and feels him rock backwards, rubbing his pert ass against the satiny crotch of Kylo’s outfit. Kylo’s cock twitches, tenting the front of his suit. He rubs himself against the seam of Hux’s pants and works on unbuckling his belt, tugging down the pants and underwear in one go.
“O-ho, and what have we here?” Kylo taps his fingertips against the end of the brightly-coloured protrusion he finds between Hux’s asscheeks. He pulls back a little to examine it — it looks like hard silicone, shaped like… shaped like a tiny pair of shoes. He grasps the object and tests the resistance: Hux gasps and spreads his trembling thighs, looking back over his shoulder. Kylo tugs more firmly and the object slowly begins to emerge; Hux’s back flexes and he makes a deep, sobbing sound. The plug is in three sections of decreasing size: the largest forms the clown’s hips, the medium one its belly, the smallest its head. Kylo grins as he sets it to stand upright on the nightstand. “Well, well, well. You like getting fucked by clowns? Hmm?”
“Yes! Fuck, yes.”
“What else do you like — being spanked?” Kylo gives his quivering flank an experimental open-handed slap; very light, only enough to sting.
“Yes! Oh God, bedside…” Hux gasps out, “bedside cabinet.”
“Bossy little thing, aren’t ya? Don’t worry, ol’ Kylo the Klown will give you what you need.” Kylo feels rather hysterical — like he wants to burst out giggling at every remark, and maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if he did. He yanks open the drawer and gropes around inside, expecting to find lube and condoms, encountering instead something flimsy and rubbery. He pulls out a red something and looks at it — it’s a uninflated balloon, long and snake-like rather than bulb-shaped.
“Blow it up,” Hux urges.
Kylo does his best to give a sceptical look, though he’s aware that his facial expression range is very limited with the extreme make-up. He blows into the balloon and it expands into a long sausage shape. He keeps puffing until it is around two feet long and mostly tumescent, then struggles for a second to tie off the end. Hux has raised himself on his elbows and is staring with slack-jawed lust again.
“You don’t want this inside you, do you?” Kylo asks, beginning to be slightly alarmed — he doesn’t know what would happen if a balloon burst inside someone’s anus, but it doesn’t seem safe.
Hux shakes his head. “No, no, spank me with it you idiot — try to keep up.”
“Well geez, if you have detailed plans for how I fuck you, you should have sent me the script.” Kylo pulls back his arm and begins bringing the length of the balloon down on Hux’s buttocks and thighs. It’s surprisingly effortful, and never makes more than a gentle tap over Hux’s bare skin, but he seems ecstatic nonetheless, spreading his thighs wide so Kylo can access the trembling, pale insides. Kylo can feel static electricity dancing long his skin, raising the hairs on his arm, and with a sadistic grin he tugs off a glove and touches a bare fingertip to Hux’s left buttock, making him yell at the resultant shock.
“You bastard,” Hux says, rolling onto his side and reaching back to rub at the sore spot with a look of fury and wounded pride.
“You don’t like my joy buzzer?” Kylo asks, grinning. For all his protest, Hux is clearly extremely aroused, the tip of his penis leaking precome freely.
“You’re a bad clown,” he scolds.
“Fuck yeah I am. You like that. Look at that pretty, pouty mouth — I know what you’re hungry for.” Kylo pulls apart the velcro at his crotch and eases his cock out of his underwear, stroking it a few times. “Yeah,” he says huskily as Hux sits up and licks his lips. “This is what you want, isn’t it — nice, fat clown cock.” Kylo cannot say this last part without laughing but the wheezing giggles rather add to the effect. The room spins like he has taken a hit of amyl nitrite and he feels so light-headed he might float away.
Hux kicks off the pants and underwear that have pooled around his calves and reaches into the second drawer of the nightstand, coming up with a condom packet. He tears the edge of the packaging with his teeth before opening it up and sucking the ring of latex into his mouth, then he bends down to work it onto Kylo’s dick with almost professional panache.
Kylo tilts his head back and groans as Hux’s throat works around him. He realizes, belatedly, that he is still clutching the red modelling balloon like a sword. Still full of a kind of maniacal glee, he rubs the surface over Hux’s head and watches his hair stand up in a ginger halo, chuckling to himself even as Hux hollows his cheeks and sucks him harder.
Abruptly, Hux pulls off, unrolling the condom (which is the translucent, regular kind) the rest of the way down the shaft with his hand. He reaches back into the drawer and comes up with a bottle of lube, which he slathers on liberally.
“What — no Cool Whip this time?” Kylo asks, grinning. “I wanted to give you a cream pie.”
“Very funny,” Hux says — he is trying to look annoyed but a muscle in his cheek twitches. He rolls back, hooking his arms behind his knees to hold himself open.
Kylo groans at the sight of him: ginger fluff around his pink hole, which is stretched and shining with lube from where he’s been wearing a novelty plug for God-knows how long. “Dirty clown-slut,” he says. “Look at you.”
Hux groans and his thighs tremble. “Yes yes, give it to me, please.”
Kylo takes himself in hand and pushes in. He has to bite back a groan at how good it feels to slide in all the way — he takes it slow, expecting Hux to clench up, but he’s just open and willing, like he has been waiting for this all day. “Like that?” Kylo grunts, giving a short, hard thrust. “Yeah, this what you need?”
“Fuck, yes!” Hux tosses his head on the blankets, his hair escaping from its prissy gel coating as it is ruffled by the blankets, one hand working on his own cock while the other grips the edge of Kylo’s ruff collar. “Uh, give it to me you nasty clown!”
The head-spinny feeling returns. “Bet you’d take a whole troupe, wouldn’t you? One after another in the back of your stupid tiny car.”
Hux spasms underneath him and Kylo laughs, a low and slightly menacing sound he hardly even recognizes. He leans down and gets his shoulders under Hux’s knees so he can bend him almost double, angles himself to where he can put his back into longer, deeper thrusts.
“Take them all, wouldn’t you?” Kylo grunts. “Down to the fucking rodeo clowns and mimes, even.”
“No!” Hux’s eyes widen. “Oh no, no, not mimes!”
“Yeah you would — fucking slut.”
Hux’s back arches, hand working faster. As he shifts his shoulder, something pops loudly underneath them and Hux lets out a blood-curdling scream.
“Fuck,” Kylo pulls out, trying to hold Hux still beneath him. “Shit, are you ok? Was that your back?”
“No!” Hux cries, looking furious as he tilts his hips up, chasing the dick that left him so abruptly. “Jesus — it was the fucking balloon!”
Kylo wheezes with laughter. “The... fucking... balloon!” He falls down onto the bed, side cramping; unable to stop himself from laughing even as Hux impatiently scrambles on top of him and starts to slide down his dick, all sharp knees and elbows.
“Yes!” Hux gasps out, eyes rolling back in his head as he bounces vigorously. “Oh give me that big cock you awful, nasty clown.”
Kylo has never laughed and had an orgasm at the same time — it turns out to be an almost transcendental experience — all of him shuddering and burning and pushing up, up, against the hot, heavy body atop of him.
“Yes!” he hears Hux yelping, “Kylo — Kylo!”
And he is — he moans and laughs: “Yeah, I’m Kylo the fucking Clown!”
Hux suppresses a sigh as the client drones on, forcing himself to make noises of interest and agreement into the handset. His personal phone is vibrating almost non-stop against his thigh and it long ago became distracting. He pulls it out of his pocket and taps to bring up the message thread.
Kylo: Fucking roommates are dicks and TRAITORS
Kylo: Came home to an ‘intervention’ - FFS!
Kylo: Do you know what that is? Do they have interventions in the UK?
Kylo: Anyway, they had all my stuff in bags
Kylo: The clown stuff
Kylo: Said it’s creepy
Kylo: I was like, that’s the fucking point???
Kylo: But they said the creepy clown thing was funny but the ‘real’ clown stuff isn’t cool (???)
Kylo: I have to get rid of it or move out
Kylo: I mean WHAT
Kylo: One of them started talking about John Wayne Gacy
Kylo: Like clowning is the gateway drug to murder or some shit
Kylo: Hux talk to me
Kylo: No-one understands except you
Kylo: I’m freaking out
Kylo: Denny’s cut back my shifts so I’m already fcuking broke
Kylo: I don’t want to be homeless, too
Kylo: You don’t want that either — you HATE hobo clowns
Kylo: (That was a joke)
Kylo: Can I come over to your place?
Kylo: Can I keep my clown stuff there?
Kylo: Don’t ignore me
As Hux scrolls to the end of the messages he receives a picture from Ben. In it he is wearing his white base paint, his hair hanging loose around his face and a single black tear painted below his left eye.
Alright Pagliacci, don’t do anything drastic. I’ll be home by seven — meet me there.
Kylo: Can I bring my stuff?
Just to be clear: you’re not moving in with me
Kylo: I know that! I just need somewhere to keep my props and costumes and accessories
Kylo: Which I got for YOUR erotic enjoyment
Hux’s doorbell rings at ten after seven. He opens it to find Ben standing there with two large garbage bags and a backpack on his shoulders. He immediately drops the bags and comes forward, wrapping his absurdly long arms around Hux and squeezing him tightly, sighing against the side of his neck. Ben smells like fryer grease and there’s a spot of white make-up that he missed removing just below his right ear.
“Alright,” Hux says, patting Ben’s shoulder. “I realise it’s been a very emotional day for you, but that’s enough.”
Ben steps back and ruffles his messy dark hair. He looks different every time Hux sees him — his face is so long and angular it’s hard to decide if he’s handsome. In some lights he looks breathtaking, in others sort of dorky and oddly proportioned. His personality seems similarly changeable: sometimes he talks and acts like a deadbeat high-school drop-out; sometimes he has an oddly haughty, aristocratic aspect. It’s almost enough to make Hux want to ask questions about his background, as much as he tells himself he really doesn’t want to know.
“So uh…” Ben looks past him into the house. “Where can I put my stuff?”
“Upstairs, follow me.” Hux leads him to one of the unfurnished bedrooms and opens the closet, pulling on the string of the overhead light. He makes a noise of dismay when Ben plonks the bags down as if that’s good enough, nudging them back with his foot. “Don’t just throw your belongings around like garbage!” Hux scolds. “In this house we put things away neatly.”
Hux bends down to undo the knot in the closest bag and reaches in to feel the slippery weight of a piece of clothing lying on top. He pulls out a long, puffy-sleeved tunic, white silk with black pom-pom buttons. Hux holds it up by the shoulders, frowning at it. “I’ve never seen you wear this.”
Ben drags his hands back through his messy hair again. “It’s new — well, not new, exactly. The costume store behind the old Blockbuster had a fire sale. You don’t like it?”
“It’s Pierrot,” Hux says quietly.
“That’s your favourite, right? The black and white clown.” Ben rummages in the bag and comes up with a black conical hat with a white mark on its folded-up brim like a full moon. He puts it on his head at an angle and takes his hands away, grinning. “Hot, right?”
Hux stares at him for a long moment. “Pierrot is a melancholy clown.”
Ben looks disappointed. “Not hot, then?”
Hux reaches up and straightens the hat. “He’s… romantic. Lonely.”
“Oh.” Ben rubs the side of his long nose, thoughtful and uncertain. “Hey, do you know about the museum?”
“Down in Lake Placid. There’s a clown museum. It’s a school, too. I was thinking of taking a class.”
Hux snorts. “Why, to better please me in the bedroom?”
“No! I mean, not just that, anyway.”
“Well it’s interesting, this stuff — like you said. There’s a whole history and shit.” Ben rummages deeper in the bag. “Check this out.” He takes out a bag of modelling balloons and blows one up — an orange one.
Hux shakes his head as he watches Ben struggling a little to tie off the end. “You think you can make balloon animals?”
“Hell yeah! I can make anything you want... so long as what you want is a sword, a dog, or a giraffe.”
Hux laughs. “Can you do a cat?”
“I can try.” Ben shifts the hat to the back of his head and screws it on tighter, then adopts a look of very serious concentration as he twists and manipulates the balloon, the rubber squeaking loudly. The end result is a sculpture that looks more monkey than cat, but Hux is nonetheless charmed when Ben hands it over.
“I’m going to call her Millicent,” he says, turning the malformed creature over in his hands.
Ben laughs, hands on his hips. “You’re kind of a weirdo, you know?”
Hux looks up, shocked. Ben has told him this many times, but never before has it sounded affectionate.
It starts to thunder as Kylo leaves the house, waving goodbye to the birthday girl’s mother. The lady got a little handsy when she slid the fifty dollars into his tunic pocket, so maybe Hux is not the only one who likes him in this outfit. He ducks against the oncoming shower of rain and breaks into a run as he heads for the black and red car waiting by the kerb, its wipers working with a high whirr.
Kylo yanks open the door and struggles to stuff his bag behind the seats and then to fit his feet into space below the dash. “Fuck — this is ridiculous. Hux, you need to get a new car.”
Hux sniffs. “I like this one. It’s energy efficient.”
“This is America — get a truck.”
“And this from the man who can’t even afford tuition for clown college.”
“Shut up. I got you a slice of birthday cake, you know, but I can eat it myself if you’re gonna be a dick.”
Hux’s cheek twitches, the way it does when he’s pretending not to be amused. “How did it go?”
“Good. Like two kids cried and only one screamed.”
“Oh well done. Did they like their animals?”
“Yeah, but most of them just wanted the plain balloons for lightsaber fights.”
Hux squints, leaning forward to see through rain-fogged windshield as he takes a left down a cracked, rain-slick road. “What’s a lightsaber?”
Kylo lets out a low whistle. “Jesus, Hux. Do they not have movies where you come from?”
“They have films.”
“The black and white kind with the title cards and some old lady playing the organ? Hold up, you made a wrong turn — it’s the other way back to the house.”
“I know that, but maybe the rain has me feeling nostalgic.”
“For what?” As they pull out onto main street, the glowing yellow of a familiar sign comes into view and Kylo groans. “Fuck, for the abandoned parking lot behind the Denny’s?”
“I told you that Pierrot puts me in mind of romance.” Hux flashes a smile and the clown laughs.