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A Certain Level of Vulnerability

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“When?” Sloane asked. 

“When the sun sets,” Hux told her. “Approximately.”

“Huh. Poetic.”

“Mm.”

They were sitting on Sloane’s verandah, sipping on dry martinis. Her backyard had a no-nonsense charm about it, with neat beds of delphiniums, hollyhocks and viburnum, and young trees catching the red rays of the sleepy sun. Hux had spent many a summer here in his youth, reading on the wire bench or weeding or just being, drinking up its tranquility. They were watching Sloane’s ugly little English bulldog rolling around on the grass, and Hux thought, This is home; after everything, this is still home.

Sloane fished out the olive from her drink, and popped it into her mouth.

“Good job,” she said, impassioned, but Hux felt his cheeks heat up nevertheless. He adjusted his collar.             

“Well, I’m just doing my job.”

Sloane dropped the toothpick back into her empty glass. “Be a darling and get me another one.”

Hux set his half-finished drink aside, and got Sloane’s glass. He toed off his shoes and walked back into the house. It was two days after the board meeting, and he was grateful that Sloane agreed to see him. No word from Ren; but no word from the Resistance either, which was certainly a good sign. And then again, he had asked Ren not to contact him, didn’t he? Nevertheless, he checked his phone on his way to the kitchen: reports from his team, Operation Hosnian Prime underway. No I-miss-yous or even a dickpic from a certain somebody.  Not like he couldn’t survive a few days without spreading his legs for him, or at least talking about it, talking about how much he wanted— Just to celebrate;he deserved it. He—

He made a martini for Sloane and went back to the garden.

“Bless you,” Sloane croaked, and put the glass to her lips as Hux collapsed into his chair. He fumbled for a cigarette, managed to light it on the third try, and swallowed down the smoke.

“Look at you.” Sloane nudged his chair with her wheelchair. “Being all mopey on the happiest day of your life.”

“Is this the happiest day of my life?” he asked, but straightened his back to look respectfully morose.

“Well, it’s a major blow for the Resistance.” They both glanced at the sun, and then back to each other. Sloane squinted. “Spit it out.”

“What?”

“Is it about a boy? The one who makes you giggle at your phone?”

Hux scoffed. “I never giggled.” He took a drag from his cigarette. “I’m not a teenager.”

“So it is about a boy,” Sloane concluded, nodding sharply. “You and your boys, huh.”

“It’s not like that.”

He got a hard look. “Who is he.” It wasn’t a question.

He wiggled around a bit, trying to get comfortable. It was impossible. He narrowed his eyes at the bleeding horizon, and let the smoke drift from his lips.

“Kylo Ren.”

“Beg your pardon?”

“I’m seeing Kylo Ren?” He didn’t dare to look at Sloane. He could feel her gaze boring into him, took a quick drag, and coughed.

“Kylo Ren,” Sloane repeated in a tone he hardly ever heard from her.

“I know.”

“Kylo Ren. You’re dating a Skywalker.”

“I’m not— He’s not a Skywalker any longer; he has denied his family.”

“A loving family from good circumstances. Imagine what someone capable of that kind of betrayal could do to you.”

The smoke soured in Hux’s mouth. He reached for his martini and gulped it down in one go.

“I’m not saying this to hurt you,” Sloane assured him when Hux put his glass back to the table with a bit too much force. He frowned.

“I know you aren’t.”

“Notwithstanding, you cannot dismiss his heritage just like that.” Sloane snapped her fingers, then pointed at Hux. “Padmé Naberrie.”

“Here we go.”

“That woman—”

“Could’ve ended the Empire by herself and put everybody behind bars,” Hux finished. “I know. If it was up to her, the First Order would have never been founded.”

“But that’s not how it played out,” Sloane said, curling her fingers into a fist. “No, because Luke Skywalker went up to Daddy all teary-eyed before Naberrie could start the lawsuit, and Daddy just couldn’t say no to him.”

“I admit that Luke Skywalker is a threat.” Hux gesticulated with his cigarette, getting ash on his trousers. “I do. But he’s not threatening everybody. There’s a difference. He has the potential of a threat, but he hasn’t done anything in what, thirty years?”

“What about his sister?” Sloane asked.

Hux let his head loll back. “What about her?”

“You’ve met her. How would you describe the experience?”

Hux noticed some cobwebs hanging from the verandah’s pickets. Bugger. He’d have to clean them.

“She’s a force of nature.”

“Astute observation. She’s your most dangerous rival. And you’re doing the hibbety-dibbety with her son. That’s not very smart.”

Hux raised his eyebrows at her. “Ren is on our side now, and his insight into his former family’s dynamics will be invaluable to retrieve the pendrive and prevent future atrocities.”

Sloane’s face twitched. “You don’t have to justify it to me. I’m just advising you to be careful.” She raised her glass in a salute, and swallowed down the last drops. Hux rolled his eyes, a small, nervous smile on his lips, and turned back to the garden. The sun was setting.

*

The next morning found him in his frequented gym. He didn’t sleep much; the gloating glory of Hosnian Prime’s destruction caught up with him just before he went to bed, but then, as he tossed and turned, he started feeling hollowed-out and gutted. He couldn’t imagine what was next, and that was not something he experienced often. He always had a plan, but now he had taken such a big step that he found himself on an entirely foreign field.

He hung his pressed suit in the locker reserved for posh people with platinum memberships, and started putting on his pink shorty-shorts. He kept wondering about his father. Should he share his plans with him? He was retired; he had no business knowing anything about top-secret First Order operations. But then again, Sloane was retired as well, so that was not fair. If his father learned the news of Hosnian Prime’s ugly fate from the clinic’s telly, he’ll give Hux hell; but what’s new. If he found out that Sloane knew before him, he won’t talk with Hux for a week; that might actually be a relief.

Except if he dies during that week.

Hux put on a loose shirt, twitching the hem absent-mindedly, mind suddenly blank. He longed to discuss it with Ren. He wasn’t sure he would be able to open up like that, but he knew Ren would listen. He’d understand.   

Thinking about Ren was incomparably better than thinking about his dying father’s fury or how he seemed to fail Sloane’s test, so he forced himself to do that. He adjusted his legwarmers, and imagined Ren fighting his way through the Guatemalan jungle, following a trail to Tikal, machete in hand. That was probably not what Ren was doing in Guatemala, but the daydream still suited him. Maybe he’d lose his shirt somehow. That’d be nice. Very nice indeed. A half-naked Ren fighting the wilderness, sweat dripping down his broad back.

Properly distracted, Hux stumbled to his feet, tossed his phone into his bum bag, and headed out. He caught sight of himself as he passed the locker room’s enormous mirror, and halted. Well, damn. He looked ready to collapse, skin ashen, but at least his hair was perfect. He looked like a decent corpse; that was certainly an accomplishment. He unabashedly checked out his ass. He pulled up the hem of the short a bit, and there it was, the bitemark Ren had left, a beautiful yellow. His lips twitched into a tired smile. He got his phone without thinking much about it, and angled himself to get a good shot. He heard the door open, but it was too late.

“Are you photographing your arse? Bloody hell,” Phasma barked, waving her gym bag around. Hux pulled a face, but decided he won’t show any remorse.

“It’s for my autobiography,” he mumbled, and took the photo. “Pre-order now.”

“You’re doing it wrong— Give it here, geez.” Phasma dropped her bag to the ground, and strode up to Hux. He handed over his phone, not looking at her. Phasma did a once-over.  

“I was waiting for you, you know. Down the hall? Six-zero-zero?”

“I know. Sorry.”

“Thought you were getting sick up here or something.” She frowned at the phone’s screen, and then glanced back to Hux. “Spread your legs a bit and lean forward slightly.”

“I feel like this is the beginning of a new chapter in our friendship,” Hux commented as he obliged. He heard Phasma snap a picture, then another.

“Who’s it for anyway? Stay like that.”

“Mm, I won’t send it to him, I think. I’m saving it for later.”

“How come?” Phasma took a final picture, and gave the phone back.

“Much obliged,” Hux nodded, and leant against the mirror, scrolling through the photos. They were agreeable. He really needed to put on some weight, though. Or muscle. That’s why he was here. Theoretically.

“Just send him all of them; let him choose a favourite.”

“I’m in a delicate situation right now, as I am certain you’re well aware,” Hux said. “I can’t mess around like that.”

Phasma snorted. “If the Resistance or whomever wanted to expose your sex scandals, you would’ve been exposed ten years ago.”

“Constant vigilance,” Hux repeated his father’s motto, and put the phone back into his bum bag, patting it half-heartedly. “I like the first one.”

“Sod off.” Phasma punched his shoulder. He tried not to flinch.

 

 

*

He was at work when he revisited the issue of the buttocks portfolio again, fidgeting with his phone during his lunchbreak. Should he or shouldn’t he? Cons: everything. Pros: it’d make Ren happy.

“Bollocks,” he said under his breath, setting his phone aside and grabbing his instant oatmeal. He turned around with his chair, like he was trying to hide from the people passing his glass-walled office, and looked out of the window. It was raining. The Gherkin glinted in the distance, among modest skyscrapers. Do it , it seemed to say.

“I’d rather not,” Hux mouthed, then he realised he was conversing with a building. He spun away in shame, and shoveled some creamy oatmeal into his mouth. The spoon was still between his lips when he grabbed his phone with determination and unlocked the screen. The next question was whether Ren had gotten a new phone by now, and whether he had kept his old number. Best to play it safe and communicate in code.

He sent him an aubergine emoji.

He was hardly finished with his meal when he got an answer.

*aubergine*: rule britannia

Hux giggled at the screen, rather maniacally. He attached the first photo (best not to be overeager), and sent it with a questionmark.

*aubergine*: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

*aubergine*: sat. 22:30 UTC+1?

Own nr: Affirmative

*aubergine*: miss u, slut

Own nr: I miss you too, slut.

Well. After this, they weren’t fooling anybody. He hoped that Phasma was right, and that nobody would give a shit.  

*

Saturday, precisely at eight PM, Hux disappeared into his bathroom with his enema kit. When he emerged again, he was a changed man.

His home seemed grand and empty, and he was getting a bit nervous whether Ren would like it. Ren’s penthouse was so welcoming and cozy; his own flat didn’t even look lived-in. It was like a showroom. It even smelled like a showroom. He used to take pride in it, but now he couldn’t help but find it rather depressing. He kept adjusting his designer throw-pillows on the sofa, spritzed the cacti and the succulents, lit some candles, opened a window, dusted off the monochrome paintings, and coaxed Millicent out of her princess bed so he could pet her and sooth his nerves.

It was raining again: an autumn drizzle, making the outside world grey and damp. Maybe a nice cup of tea would help. He was deciding between an Armada blend and some matcha when the doorbell rang. He glanced at the clock; it was hardly ten. He really hoped that it was just Ren shitting on the agreed time, not the postman or something, because he was wearing a very short dressing gown and other things underneath, and also, he had glasses on, and only a select few were allowed to see him with them.

“It’s rude to come so early, I was just having an emotional crisis,” he called out as he was approaching the door. “How dare you interrupt me?” The peephole showed a wide shoulder he’d recognise anywhere. He unbolted the door, and opened it with his heart beating too fast. Ren turned to him, looking ready to offer a smartass reply, but then his face fell. “What?” Hux said, grimacing.

Ren was just standing there, blinking rapidly, and then he muttered, “Shit.”

What,” Hux repeated, sharper this time. Ren swallowed, like he was ready to cry, and pulled him into his arms. Hux tensed and relaxed. Ren’s wool coat was slightly damp; the rain must’ve caught him. Hux ran a tentative hand over Ren’s back, and Ren trembled under his soothing touch. “Come on in, idiot, you’ll catch a cold.”

“You look adorable,” Ren said, choked-off. Hux pulled back and peered at him.

"That’s your problem?”

“It’s not a problem,” Ren whispered, and cupped his face. His hands were icy. Hux kissed his wrist, and then grabbed his arm and pulled him inside. Ren went willingly. The door closed with a click, and Ren was at him again, like a hug monster.

“My boyfriend is the cutest,” he mumbled, and while Hux had an objection to at least fifty percent of that sentence, he was distracted by Ren kissing his neck.

“You’re horrible. Also, your nose is cold.”

Ren rubbed it up against him. “Warm me up?”

“Oh, I will.” Hux put his fingers under Ren’s chin and leant in for a kiss. He tasted exquisite. “Thank you for coming,” Hux breathed against his lips. Ren licked him playfully, and then deepened the kiss.  

They stumbled backward, and Hux was vaguely aware that Ren was shrugging off his coat, and, also, that they were mere seconds away from bumping into the small vanity table in the vestibule. He heard something hard drop to the floor, and Ren pulled back. “I almost forgot.” He gathered up his coat from the ground, reached into one of its pockets, and presented a small package, gift-wrapped in matte black. “Got this for you.”

“Ah, a souvenir?”

“Yeah, from a duty free shop in the Mundo Maya airport. Forever in my fondest memories.”

“How did it go? The mission, I mean,” Hux asked, carefully opening the present. Ren shrugged.

“We have what we need.”

“Good job. I knew you would— Oh.” Ren’s gift was a bar of pink chocolate with gold glitter. Hux tilted his head, turning it around and watching how it sparkled in the light. It was admittedly very pretty. “Is it edible?”

“So I’m told. Inspired by your shorts.”

Hux hummed, and took a careful bite, letting it melt in his mouth. It was just as atrociously sweet as he liked. “Mm! Thank you, it’s heavenly.”

Ren was staring at him again. “You bit into it.”

“Yes?”

“Most people would just break off a piece.”

“Are you cataloguing my little quirks again?”

“A man’s gotta have a hobby,” Ren said, looking away. Hux gave him a sticky, sugary kiss to show him proper gratitude for the gift.

*

They were cuddling on the sofa, and it seemed the most natural thing. Like it was mundane, like they could do it every day: Hux sitting in Ren’s lap, sharing tea and chocolate and silly anecdotes. Millicent joined them in a short while, timidly settling over Hux’s knees. He rubbed her chin, and announced, “This is my cat.”

“Ah, I thought she was your sister for a moment.”

Hux elbowed him sharply. “Wiseacre.”

“She’s very cute,” Ren said. “I’m not sure I’m a cat person, but she’s very cute.” He petted her like one would pet a dog, hand huge on her head. “Good girl, who’s the best girl?”

“She is,” Hux answered just to set the record clear. Ren grinned at him, and nuzzled closer. He peered around in the flat once he was comfortable. “I like your home.”

“Do you?”

“Yeah. Suits you. I can sense that you really love it.”

“You can sense it,” Hux repeated. Ren hummed, and pressed a kiss to his neck.

“Are you ready to talk about your emotional crisis?”

“What emotional crisis?”

Ren bit him, gently. “The one you were having when I arrived.”

“Oh? That was just a little joke. I’m a bit tense about the Resistance situation, that’s all. I was . But you took care of it, and I did my part, and everyone—” He took a shaky breath. “It’ll be over...soon.”

Ren tensed for a split second, and then bit him again, this time deeper. Hux gasped, and got a fistful of his hair, pulling him closer. “I was worried you wouldn’t like it here,” he confessed. He almost melted when Ren started sucking on the bruise.

Millicent had had enough of their bullshit, and jumped off of Hux’s lap, offended. Ren slid his hand between Hux’s smooth legs, coaxing them open. He pulled back a bit, looking Hux in the eye as he sucked on his own fingers. He reached down, and caressed Hux’s thighs, getting them spit-wet.

“I’d come visit you in a shoebox,” he said. “I’d spend a night under a bridge with you if that’d be the only place for us. I’d cross fires for you, not just the waters of the ocean.”

“Why?” Hux blurted out.

“Because we found each other.” Ren caressed Hux’s cock with his fingertips, and smiled to himself. “And you keep putting on these fancy panties for me, which is very kind of you.”

“Fuck off,” Hux said, smirking. Ren started stroking him properly, rough and sweet.

“You deserve beautiful things,” he told him. “Good things. You’re smart and capable, hard-working, perfect—”

“I’m aware of my personality traits,” Hux said, a bit breathless. The lace was chafing his cock in the best way. Ren’s clever fingers wrapped around his swelling shaft. His wristwatch glinted.  

“You are aware of them,” said Ren, “but you must know that others notice your efforts as well; it’s no accident you’re where you are: a CEO of the First Order. You deserved that. Your recent victory— You deserve to be praised.” He freed Hux’s erection. “You deserve to be spoiled.”

“Fuck,” Hux said. As Ren manhandled him to the armrest, he caught sight of their abandoned cups on the glass table, remembering that their tea was getting cold. He let it go when Ren went down on him. He wanted to scream. What he managed was a very pleased whine.

God. Ren and his fucking mouth.

Ren was palming himself while giving head, and Hux thought he’d never seen anything more arousing. He watched Ren’s suit jacket straining as his muscles shifted, how his hair fell over and tickled Hux’s skin, the impatient way he tugged the stray locks back behind his ridiculous ears. His mouth was hot and slick, and it was driving Hux absolutely insane.

“This is certainly in the top five courtesy blowjobs I’ve ever received,” he panted when he started to feel dangerously close. Ren pulled back a bit, Hux’s cock sliding free and resting against his cheek.

“Top five?” he teased, and rubbed his face over it.

“Careful with the bloody stubble— ouch! Now it’s just a shortlist nominee.”

Ren pouted, and put his fingertip to the tip. He pushed it back to Hux’s stomach, then let it spring up. “Oh yeah, I’m doing such a shitty job, look, your poor cock is so, so hard. That must be very-very bad, aww.”

“That’s not what I said and you know it. It’s very nice, please resume? Please, I’m close.”

Ren pressed a messy kiss to the root, and then looked up. “If it’s just ‘nice,’ what would you rather have me do?”

Hux adjusted his askew glasses. “British ‘nice’ translates to ‘oh please fuck,come on.’”

“What would you have me do,” Ren repeated, and swallowed him down again. Hux squirmed. It was awfully nice.

“I— ah. Ahh! I’ve prepared a little surprise for you, one of the cheeky sort, and shit. Shit, shit, shit. I can’t wait to—”

“Oh, I see, it’s a competition,” Ren mumbled around him. He closed his eyes and bobbed his head, sliding up and down on Hux’s length. He grabbed a fistful of Ren’s hair and began to fuck his throat properly. Ren looked up at him, eyes glinting with mischief. He fucking winked. Hux came with a gasp, and Ren drank up every drop of it, visibly pleased.

Hux was still seeing stars when Ren sat back on his heels and swiped his mouth with his hand. “That was nice,” he commented.

“You’re dreadful,” Hux panted. Ren climbed over him on his hands and knees, and kissed him deeply, making him taste his pleasure.

“I know. I’m such an awful man,” Ren whispered against his lips, and Hux hugged him with every limb he possessed, clinging on like a koala bear.

“You’re the worst,” he complained. “Fuck, I can feel your dick jabbing my belly.”

“I was promised a naughty surprise.”

“Mm. I need my hands to give it to you.”

“Okay, let me go.”

“No.” Hux was quite possibly squeezing the life out of him. Ren laughed, and thrust forward.

“Please?” He thrust his hips again, effectively humping Hux’s soft abdomen. Hux knew, on a theoretical level, that he shouldn’t be turned on by this.

“Take me to the bedroom,” he said, a bit throaty. “It’s not some snack you can have on my sofa. It’s gourmet. It must be presented properly—”

“You’re letting me eat your ass!” Ren beamed, and scooped him up. Hux scowled.

“You’ve ruined the surprise.”

“No, I didn’t,” Ren sang, and tried to navigate them through the living room. “Which way?”

“The other way.”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck me.” Hux kissed him, making it near impossible for Ren to find his way to the door. He somehow managed, getting lost only two times and bumping Hux’s head against a low-hanging lamp just the once, and then Hux was tossed to the single bed. Ren knelt above him and pulled him closer by his ankles.

“I’m so hard, I’m going to pass out,” Ren announced. He sounded happy about it. Hux took his sweet time getting rid of his glasses, which were smudged from making out, and shrugging off his dressing gown.

“Turn me around,” he said. Ren nodded eagerly and flipped Hux to his stomach. Hux could hear a sharp intake of breath, and then felt Ren grabbing the pompom adorning the lacy back of his knickers like a fluffy bunny tail, inspired by his dream. He couldn’t not buy them when he saw it in a shady boutique the other day. Ren squeezed the pompom again, and muttered, “Hi, Mr. Bunny.”

He pulled his hand back, caressing Hux’s arse and then sliding a finger between his warm cheeks. “Your skin is softer than the fluffy thing,” he said. “Look at you, you pretty thing.” He pried Hux’s cheeks open, pushing the knickers out of the way, but not taking them off. Hux grabbed the sheets, expectant.

“Can I?” Ren whispered.

“Claim your reward.”

 

 

 

First he felt Ren’s nose press against him, and then the slickness of his tongue teasing at the rim. He gasped as Ren licked deeper, the tip of his tongue nudging inside. Hux’s hips bucked. Ren held him firmly, getting messier, until saliva was dripping down the crack of his arse. Hux squirmed, mouth hanging open and eyelids heavy.

He wondered what would have happened if this was all they had ever gotten, if Ren had chatted him up on that balcony after lighting his cigarette, if he managed to charm off Hux’s exhaustion and they ended up in the hotel. How would it have felt? He’d have demanded round two, that was for sure, but what then? What would have happened in the morning, or during his last hours in the city?

With Ren pleasuring him so thoroughly, eating him up—almost feasting—he couldn’t see a possible outcome that would have resulted in them not becoming an item , dating or fucking and despising the distance between them.

“Need you closer,” he panted, and he moaned as Ren circled his rim with the pad of his thumb.

“Where’s the lube?”

Hux gesticulated vaguely at the nightstand. He was nothing if not prepared; there were three XXL bottles there.

“Wow, okay. Which one is water-based?”

“All of them.” Hux chose one at random and presented it to Ren. He whimpered as Ren pulled his hand away and slicked up his fingers.

“Gonna get you nice and dripping for me.”

“Oh yeah. Yes, please.”

Ren smirked. He carefully slid one finger in, and then another, twisting them. He bent down again, and licked Hux’s little hole, stretched around his knuckles. Hux made a noise he didn’t know he was capable of, and then outright yelped as Ren’s fingertips brushed past his prostate. 

“How does it feel?” Ren asked, beginning to massage it tenderly. Hux blinked a few times in quick succession.

“If you stop, I’m breaking your arms,” he decided. Ren chuckled, and lapped at his entrance again, tapping his prostate as he unbuckled his belt and got himself in hand. Hux would’ve been aroused by the level of controlled multitasking alone. He groaned, and squeezed his eyes shut, intense waves of pleasure shaking him.  

“You’re taking it so well,” Ren said, his deep voice vibrating through him. “You’re so fucking amazing. I love your sweet little hole clenching around my fingers like this.” Another feather-light touch inside, and then another. “You belong to me, don’t you? This is mine.” He pressed down. “You’re mine.” He leant in, licking deep, claiming him as he began to move his fingers in and out, slow and ernest.

Hux moaned, sounding almost pained. It was just so intense. He started pushing back, fucking himself on Ren’s tongue and his hand, overcome and restless. Ren grabbed his hips, and pushed him to the mattress, holding him down as he burrowed his face between his cheeks again and dipped his tongue inside. Hux cried out, and he was coming, soaking his knickers and the sheets.

When he came back to himself, he was trembling and dazed and feeling slightly guilty. Ren had pulled back, caressing Hux’s thigh with his clean hand.

“This concludes an overly successful foreplay,” Hux panted, head spinning. “Sorry. Maybe I can jerk you off?”

“Don’t apologise,” Ren told him, flicking the pompom. “Catch your breath, it’s okay. You were amazing. The sexiest fucking thing I’ve ever seen, or touched, or tasted.”

“Regardless, the offer stands.”

“Can I come on the small of your back?”

Hux thought about it. “If that sounds like a pleasurable experience to you?”

“While you’re wearing these sticky little panties and lying there fucked-out and with your hair? Damn right it sounds like a pleasurable experience . Whenever you’re ready.”

“A second,” Hux mumbled, wiggling away from the damp spot on the sheets. Ren got him a pillow, and he hugged it close, burying his face in it and inhaling the comforting smell of detergent. Ren knelt above him, and peppered his shoulders with small bites and kisses. It was decidedly relaxing. Hux was soon starting to feel warm and snug, soaking up all the attention. “You may come on me,” he announced lazily. Ren chuckled, and got lined up.

Listening to the obscene sounds of his fist on his dick and his heavy breathing made something clench in Hux’s abdomen, but he absolutely refused to have another erection. Nevertheless, by the time Ren came all over his back with a relieved grunt he was half-hard again. He promptly ignored it.

“You always give me such generous loads,” he said as Ren rolled off.

“You’re welcome,” Ren muttered, and closed his eyes for a moment. Hux kissed his eyelids. Ren let out a pleased moan and pulled him to his chest. After some shifting and fumbling, Hux was straddling his hips, sitting on him triumphantly like a conquering king. Ren’s come was slowly dripping down his back—maybe his anointing oil. He looked down at him, at his heaving chest and glorious hair.

“I could ride you to battle,” he announced. Ren smiled up at him, fondly, and brushed his knuckles over his knee.

“What would you do in a battle?”

“Vanquish my enemies, you twat.” He smacked Ren’s hand away and reached for the pack of Sobranie on the nightstand. “Smoke?”

“Yes please.”

Hux got himself a pink one, and put its partner between Ren’s lips. They looked really good around it. He lit his own first and then bent down to offer the burning end to Ren.

“You’re unreal,” Ren muttered. Hux allowed himself a sly smile as he sat back, savouring his cigarette atop his partner. Life was well. That was unreal, perhaps.

“Never had a cigarette in bed?”

“Never had someone who liked them pink. Including girlfriends, and a drag queen.”

Hux sucked on the gold-coloured filter, contemplating this. “That’s weird,” he decided.

“Tell me about it,” Ren grinned. He wiggled a bit, getting comfortable. “So, you and pink. Is there a story behind this?”

“Just what you’d expect. I was a skinny ginger with no mother and huge glasses, and then it soon turned out that I was also a fucking faggot.” He took a long drag. “So I said to myself, there’s nothing I can do about these things, although I did dye my hair once and discovered contact lenses in my late teens, but being gay… well, I’ll be the gayest. When they call me names, they’ll be stating the bloody obvious, and it’s going to get so boring so soon that they might leave me alone. And it worked.” He shrugged a narrow shoulder. “I’ve outgayed their wildest dreams.”

Ren looked at Hux’s spread thighs and spent cock as if to say I can see that, and then met his eyes, smiling smugly. “What colour did you dye your hair?”

Hux licked his lips, tasting smoke and Ren’s lingering kisses. He clicked his tongue. “Pink.”

*

Something almost happened in the shower as they soaped each other up, but Ren got distracted by the curiosities Hux’s bathroom had to offer. First it was the dildo attached to the wall; Hux was so used to its presence that he forgot to take it down, and had to witness Ren challenging it to a duel. Then Millicent’s potty training kit sent Ren into a raging rant about somebody named Chewie, whom Hux suspected to be a dog, but Ren talked about it as if it was a person, which made his story about Chewie pooping into the pool even less appealing, and straight up murdered Hux’s libido.

Also, it turned out that Ren could talk while washing his teeth and flossing.

Hux contemplated whether he should appear civilised and put on pyjamas, but seeing that Ren helped change the sheets in the nude changed his mind. There was something tantalizing in curling up with him like this, casually bare-arsed in his own bedroom. The faint noises of traffic lulled him as he was petting Ren’s hair. Ren was splayed out half on top of him, burying his face into Hux’s chest. As cars passed by, their lights washed over the room, chasing away the watery shadows.

“How was work today,” Ren mumbled.

“You want me to tell you about work to help you fall asleep?”

Ren made a sound of protest. Hux never thought that there’d be moments when he found him…cute. At least they were even.

“I want you to tell me about work because I want to know how…you are,” Ren protested. “And you love work.”

“Don’t you?”

“Yeah, but it’s more like a casual affair. You two are married. It’s very romantic.”

Hux chuckled, letting Ren’s locks fall from his fingers. “It’s a childhood romance.”

“Really? You never wanted to be an astronaut or a vet or, I don’t know, a pilot?”  

“I always wanted to be a CEO to the Order,” Hux confessed. It was partially true. In fact, he always wanted to be a chairman, but he didn’t want to sound like a loser. “What did you want to be?”

“An explorer,” Ren mumbled.

“Like Dora?”

Nooo, she’s a fucking dilettante. I wanted to, like, ride a camel through a desert, wrestle crocodiles, survive an avalanche, that sort of thing.”

“I don’t think you’re allowed to wrestle crocodiles,” Hux mused.

“I want to punch the shit out of a crocodile,” Ren said darkly.

“What’s stopping you?”

“The law.” He rubbed his eyes. “Anyway. I also wanted to be a storm chaser and then a lumberjack and then a storm chaser again, and I had a firefighter phase, but that didn’t last very long.”

Hux traced his fingers over Ren’s forehead. “How did the adrenaline junkie end up being a businessman?”

“I can’t throw away my grandfather’s heritage just for shits and giggles. Although he used to be a NASCAR driver; did you know that? I like that. That must’ve been fun. Anyway. Mum told me I could do whatever I want, but first I gotta get a respectable degree, so I got a B.S. in business administration, and then shit was going down, so I also got a MBA in economics and finance.” He suppressed a yawn. “I still like storms, though. You look like one.”

“I look like one?” Hux asked, amused, deciding that Ren was getting delusional with jetlag. Ren pressed closer, the heat of his body almost feverish.

“You’re my perfect storm,” Ren said. “My darling hurricane.”

Hux pressed a soft kiss to his adoring lips. Ren kissed back, and it began to rain.

 

*

It was still raining when Hux woke up, but it was much less poetic, an ugly shower washing through the paralysed city. He stretched out, enjoying how the fresh sheets caressed his body and reveling in Ren’s lingering smell. He could hear him fussing around in the kitchen, and smirked to himself. He contemplated waiting for him in bed in all his disheveled glory, but then decided to freshen up a bit.

Going into the bathroom, he almost toppled over Millicent. She chirruped, and rubbed her face to his ankle. Hux squatted down to pet her.

“Did you forgive me for having a guest over? Wonder of wonders. Come on, Daddy’s gonna get ready.” He scooped her up and washed his face and brushed his teeth with his free hand. His hair and the lenses could wait.

Millicent was getting antsy by the time he got back to the bedroom, so he let her go, and put on his dressing gown and glasses. Millicent kept close, and followed him to the kitchen.

“Mm, something smells amazing.”

Mwrh,” Millicent agreed.

“I’m making pancakes,” Ren called from by the oven. Hux took a second to appreciate the scene: a gorgeous man wearing nothing but a pair of briefs and a £400,000 watch managing to flip a pancake and making it look easy. He walked up to him, following the path of soft light on the floor, and hugged him from behind.

“I’m keeping you,” he mumbled, and got a handful of his pecs; he squeezed, as if in greeting. Ren chuckled, deep and inexplicably nervous.

“Will you still want to keep me if I confess that I couldn’t find any maple syrup?”

“It’s not that common around here. I mean sure, you can get it from Sainsbury’s and shit, but anyway, use marmalade.”

Marmalade,” Ren repeated, appalled.

“Or lemon and sugar.”

“Why?”

The microwave beeped.  Hux pressed a kiss to Ren’s shoulder. “I’m getting it.”

He sauntered to the microwave, feeling like he was in a movie. Millicent trailed behind, probably hoping for a treat. Hux rubbed her belly with his foot as he opened the microwave’s door. His face fell.

“Please tell me it’s not meant to be tea?”

“Couldn’t find a boiler.”

“Because I have a kettle! You saw it yesterday. I know it’s an antique, but it gets the job done— Shit, will you look at that. Never heard of a tea egg?” His prized Armada leaves were just floating in the barely-tepid water.

“I’ll strain it after, you do have a strainer.”

“Yes, I do, but that’s not how you’re supposed to—”

“I haven’t slept a fucking minute,” Ren snapped, tossing some pancakes over a plate. “And you don’t have coffee, okay? So let me do my fucking tea however I want it.”

Hux closed the microwave’s door so he wouldn’t have to look at what lurked inside. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. I just don’t need you to lecture me at the crack of dawn.”

“It’s past eight.”

“The crack of dawn,” Ren said again, softer, and his lips tugged into a guilty smile. Hux sighed, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

“We’ll have to negotiate our sleeping, eating, and drinking habits,” he noted. This was exactly why he didn’t do relationships. The absurd fights, the compromises. Looking at Ren, he couldn’t help but feel that it’d be worth it. Ren offered the still-sizzling pan with a very handsome pancake.

“These bad boys will earn me some bonus points, right?”

“We’ll see,” Hux allowed. Ren smiled that sorry little smile again, his hunched shoulders indicating remorse as well, but he didn’t apologise out loud. Somehow, that made it easier. Hux waited a few beats, and then walked up next to him. He leant to the counter and watched Ren making pancakes in silence. Ren shot him some quick glances. He bumped his shoulder. Hux pushed back. Ren bumped into him again. They snickered.

*

“No, no, no! Careful! It’s getting everywhere!”

“Oh yeah, lick it up, baby…”

“Gross!” Hux protested, mouth full of the Nutella-and-strawberry pancakes Ren was hand feeding him. It wasn’t romantic or sexy, as Ren had suggested it would be, but it was undeniably hilarious. Ren watched him with hungry eyes, and Hux leant over the counter to chase his hand and lick up the Nutella, which threatened to drip onto the black marble. He sucked two of Ren’s fingers into his mouth and moaned around them. The Nutella was a good idea.

“Fuck,” Ren breathed. “You’re giving me blowjob eyes.”

Hux fluttered his lashes, feeling giddy. He pulled free, Ren’s sticky fingers sliding down to his chin.

“Put some Nutella over your dick, and I’m sucking it for breakfast.”

“Really?”

Hux kicked Ren’s chair, affectionately.

“Really.”   

He flicked his tongue out and started lapping at the remaining Nutella coating Ren’s fingertips. Ren grunted.

“You’re an insatiable little bitch. Did you know that?”

“Well, I didn’t invite you over for chess.” With a last, sloppy lick, he was finished, and parted his lips to be fed.

“I’d beat your ass,” Ren said, and got him another bite.

“No, you wouldn’t.” Hux swallowed. Ren levelled him with his gaze. He looked more massive than ever in Hux’s tiny barchair.  Hux kicked it again. “I’m very good when it comes to strategy.”

“No shit, me too.” Ren kicked back, and Hux had to get a hold of the counter’s edge so he wouldn’t fall back. “Fuck! Sorry.”

“I’ll live. Anyway, speaking of strategy and planning—” He got a strawberry and offered it to Ren on his palm. He went for it, and then licked at Hux’s fingers as if to say thank you. “Do we have the whole day?”

“Most of it, if we don’t want to make Snoke suspect anything; the whole, if we stopped giving a fuck.”

“We never even began to give a fuck,” Hux warned. Ren grimaced, chewing on his bottom lip.

“Should we?”

“Damn right we should. You know what’s he like. And he was weirdly insistent that we should all stay put; you get something of a free pass with all your travels, but now that you’ve got the pendrive, you’ve lost the alibi—”

“I haven’t got the pendrive,” Ren corrected. Hux’s heart skipped a beat. He adjusted his glasses, not even caring how dirty they’d get.

“Excuse me?” he asked, voice nothing more than a tremble.

“I don’t have the pendrive, but you shouldn’t be worried. It’s all taken care of.”

“How is it all taken care of if you don’t have it? You told me you had it!”

“I told you we had what we needed,” Ren corrected, popping a strawberry into his mouth. Hux shook his head and slid off the bar stool. “Bunny,” Ren called after him as he headed back to the kitchen.

“No pet names,” Hux retorted. He could taste bitter panic on his tongue, overpowering the sweetness of the pancakes. He washed his hands almost mechanically, heart beating in his throat. He didn’t want to speak until he found his voice, and Ren wasn’t saying anything. He could feel him staring at him. He dried his hands on a kitchen towel and turned back to Ren, wishing they had more clothes on, wishing the pat-pat-patting of rain didn’t sound suddenly irritating, wishing Ren had never admitted what he just did. “You don’t have the pendrive,” Hux blurted out, voice too small.

“Armitage, please. Hear me out before you have a nervous breakdown. Okay?”

Hux nodded. He was getting dizzy. He couldn’t see very well, the edge of his vision blurring into darkness. He rubbed his temples. “What did you do?”

“They have no way, no fucking way to ask Luke’s help with it, and Maz couldn’t do shit, as expected. I got Rey, and no one else will be able to coax Luke out of his depression den, and Rey also knows their next move, and she’ll tell it to me. I mean, I will make her. So you don’t need to worry.”

“What do you mean you ‘got’ Rey,” Hux asked, making air quotes. Ren pushed his hair back from his face, impatient. He had some Nutella on his cheek. Hux wasn’t going to tell him.

“I mean I have her. I’ve brought her here. She’s moping in a hotel room. I took her credit card and phone, so she can’t—”

“You kidnapped your cousin,” Hux said, voice finally breaking. He had to sit down for a minute, so he just slid down to the floor, back to the wall. He heard Ren pushing the bar stool back and getting to his feet.

“Look at me.”

“No.”

“I didn’t kidnap her.”

“Did she come with you willingly?”

“Not exactly.”

“You’re holding her against her will,” Hux explained to Ren’s toes. “Except you’re not even holding her, because you’re here. You’re here with me. Please, please, please, don’t make me regret this.”

“Hey.” Ren sank to his knees and got a hold of Hux’s wrists. Despite his better judgement, Hux didn’t try to pull away. Ren started rubbing soothing circles over his skin. “It’s okay. She’s with one of my men; trustworthy guy, y’know. Craig; do you know Craig? He won’t hurt her, she won’t hurt him. He’s got a gun, which he won’t use, but Rey doesn’t know that. She has no way to contact anybody; she’s locked inside. I told her she has some time to think things over. She needs time. Finn won’t make a move without her, and Poe won’t make a move without Finn, and they have the pendrive. I think I’m getting to the bottom of this.”

“You’re more clever than this,” Hux said. He didn’t sound very convinced. Hopeful, rather.

“She’ll tell me everything. I’m sure of it. We’ll get more than our pendrive back: info, security, the upper-hand.” He pressed a kiss to Hux’s knuckles. “And peace.”

“And a swell time in prison,” Hux mumbled. He got up, not letting go of Ren’s hands. Ren remained kneeling.

“You don’t know my family,” Ren said. “I do. They won’t press charges. Rey is okay; she’s just grounded. She has food and everything.”

“She’s not a dog; you can’t just leave her with a bowl of something and assume that she’ll be okay and won’t press charges. I bet she’d press charges after this shit even if she was a fucking corgi.” He dropped Ren’s hands and headed to the bedroom. Ren followed, and Millicent used the opportunity to jump on the counter and start on the glass of milk they hadn’t finished.

“I’ve got this,” Ren said, but Hux was no longer listening. He opened the door to his walk-in closet and grabbed the first suit he could get his hands on. It was a tweed suit. He put it back and got a charcoal one instead.  No. Charcoal was too much. It was a Sunday.

“Which hotel is she in?”

“Claridge's.”

“You proper fucking cockwomble,” Hux hissed. The charcoal would do. He took off his dressing gown, partly to show Ren what he was absolutely not getting his hands on today. “Claridge's! Of all places!”

“I’m not very familiar with London, and you spoke highly of it last time, so.”

“Yeah, in the context of my fuckscepades!” He grabbed an underwear at random. It was a turquoise thong. He waved it at Ren, threateningly. “They know me there!”   

Ren let out a sigh. “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to Claridge's to get her, obviously. And you’re coming with me.” He put on the thong, then started buttoning up his shirt. To hell with ironing. Not today.

“We’ll be too early. She’ll still be mad; she hadn’t had enough time to cool off.”

“Of course she’ll be mad, you kidnapped her!” Hux cried. Ren had the audacity to roll his eyes, and walked out.

Fuming, Hux finished dressing, and then stormed out of the wardrobe in his socks, holding a pair of Oxford shoes. He was both relieved and treacherously disappointed to see that Ren had dressed as well. His cognac-coloured Chelsea boots were perfect with his navy suit, but Hux decided it was not the time to compliment him.  

“Get us a cab,” he barked. Ren frowned.

“Don’t you have a car?”

“As a rule, I'm not driving while feeling like hitting pedestrians would be good for my nerves.”

“How do you get a cab around here?”

“For fuck’s sake,” Hux muttered, and got his phone as he darted to the fridge. He got some premium Whiskas for Millicent and forked it into her bowl. He was chatting with the dispatcher and grabbed the plates with the pancakes without thinking much about it; he couldn’t risk Millicent eating from them, so he tossed the leftovers into the trash. He only realised what it must’ve looked like from Ren’s point of view, how petty and cruel, once he was staring down the empty plates. To hell with it. He put them in the dishwasher, said his thanks and goodbyes, and ended the call.

Ren was lingering by the door, holding his coat, looking unsure what to do. There was something arresting in his eyes, a sort of defiance that made Hux stop. He sighed and leant in, licking up the smudge of Nutella from Ren’s cheek.

“I love you,” he said. It was bad enough that Ren looked surprised, so he cupped his face and pulled him in for a proper kiss.

*

After a cab ride, which was either tense-tense or just sexually charged, they arrived at Claridge's. The doorman tipped his top hat to Hux and his beau with such well-practiced ease that it made Hux cringe and admitted them to the magnificent lobby. Hux closed his umbrella and stopped by one of the gold-framed mirrors to comb his hair with his fingers, feeling miserable and actively hating his rain-tainted glasses. He had never entered this place looking so undignified, not even on the night when he had been introduced to the concept of a foursome in room 212. Ren put a reassuring hand on the small of his back.

“At ease, soldier,” he whispered. Hux met his eyes in the mirror.

“You know what your plan is like?” he gritted through his teeth. “Like a James Bond villain's plan.”

Ren grinned, hesitant. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“I mean it as constructive criticism.” Hux adjusted his tie, and led the way to the lift. Ren kept glancing around, looking charmed and drawing further attention to themselves, which was just fucking great. “Much like a James Bond villain,” Hux explained once he pushed the button, “you’re doing the overly complicated shit for flair while you could’ve done the easy shit and just straight-up shot the enemy in the fucking head—”

“Wow, you don’t want me to kidnap Rey, but somehow it’s okay to shoot her?”

Hux shushed him and looked around, a bit frantic. The Sunday crowd seemed to consist of three Russian ladies, who were standing around in a corner and chatting at an obnoxiously loud volume.  

“Please don’t shoot your cousin,” Hux mouthed, and then, as they got into the lift, he turned to Ren, pleading, “You won’t shoot your cousin, right?”

Ren shrugged. “Don’t have my gun.”

“If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have your gun and you also have your cousin in the room, still don’t shoot her, okay?”

“Okay, but what if she has a gun and attacks me? Theoretically. She does have a gun. Not now, usually.”

“Don’t get me involved with your nonsense of a constitution; civilised nations don’t need one.” Hux leant to the wall as Ren punched in floor two. “You’ll also notice that the bloody police who’ll arrest you for kidnapping your cousin don’t have a gun. The Metropolitan Police doesn’t have guns. Let that sink in.”

“Are you bitching, or are you worried for me?”

Hux thought about it. “Both.”

“It’s as adorable as it is disheartening.” Ren looked him over. “We’re good, then?”

“Yes. Now handle this mess.”

The door opened, and Ren hissed. “Shit. Right. You count floors differently.” He pressed the button labelled one, and Hux resisted clawing his own face off.

Arriving at the right floor, Ren got out of the lift, looking ready to conquer, marching with his fists curled. Hux matched his stride, but their walk of glory only lasted for a few metres, ending when they ran into a cheerful bloke in a black suit waving at them with a box of Tampax.

“Hey, boss! Oh, Mr. Hux! Wow! Good morning, sir.”

“What are you doing here?” Ren asked, voice dangerously low and eerily calm.

“Shit,” Hux mouthed. “Is he Craig?”

“I’m Craig,” Craig said. Hux contemplated shoving his umbrella down his throat and then pushing the open button.

“What are you doing here, Craig?” Ren asked again. Craig’s smile faltered.

“Miss, um, the Miss needed— I couldn’t send a maid for it, you told me not to get the staff involved. I’ve got the keycard.” He patted his breast pocket. “Told her I’ll be back in a jiffy. I couldn’t— I didn’t want a mess, you see.”

Ren pulled the card out of Craig’s pocket, very slowly, not breaking eye contact. Craig looked ready to piss himself, but he kept smiling. Ren touched the box of Tampax with the card. “Shove these up in every hole you have,” Ren advised. “All of them. Now get out of my sight.”

“Boss—”

Out!” Ren yelled. Hux didn’t even flinch, and didn’t warn him to keep it down when he screamed some colourful curses after the fleeing man. It was too late anyway. They jogged to door 111, and Ren keyed them in just in time to cast a last glance at Rey.

Rey was around eighteen, and she was the most Millennial looking person Hux had ever seen: ragged jeans, suspenders, a croptop, the whole set. She was standing in the window, outrageously young and entitled. The panels were smashed in, the heavy lamp that had done the job still lying on the ground and getting wet as the rain poured in. Rey looked at Ren, clutching her backpack. She wordlessly raised her middle finger. Then she jumped.

“Oh my god,” Hux said, voice colourless. “She killed herself.”

“Like hell, it’s the second— first floor,” Ren grunted, and rushed to the window. He leant out. “There she goes. Landed on a car. Oh, a backflip. That’s kinda impressive. Shit.” He turned around, dazed, and repeated “Shit” when he caught sight of the wall. KYLO REN IS HOLDING ME HOSTAGE was scribbled on the tasteful wallpaper with a much less tasteful dark red lipstick.

Hux felt like he had met the quota of feeling emotions for that day and just stared at the writing with a vague sense of exasperation, more preoccupied with the handwriting than with the actual message, or the shit they were now in. It was cruisive. Surprising. She must’ve put effort into it.

“Help me out with your resident’s insight,” Ren asked. “What’s the name of that park-thing we drove past? The not-Hyde-park-one.”

“Grosvenor Square.”

Ren nodded, solemnly. “I know where she’s headed.” He cast another annoyed glance at the writing on the wall. “Could you do me a favour?”

“It’s not a favour when the Order is involved; it’s duty.” Hux knew exactly how it sounded, but what else could he have said?

“Right. Okay. Could you handle this? The graffiti, Craig, and the questions by the hotel staff?”

“Certainly.” Anything, anything. “Where are you going?”

Ren stepped on the damp windowsill. He looked back over his shoulder.

“Away, I’m afraid. I’m sorry. I’ll fix it.” He straightened up, wool coat floating about his legs, hair a dark halo. He looked glorious. Hux looked up at him, chin tilted, and smiled.

“I trust that you will.”

Ren smiled back. Then he jumped.