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The Flowers Have Come

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As he rounded the corner and continued his way down the corridor of officers’ quarters, Hux couldn't tell if curiosity or pettiness was the stronger driving force behind his decision. And as he came to a stop just outside of Kylo Ren’s private room, he decided that perhaps it was both.  

 

When the reports first alerted him to the increased energy usage, it wasn't a concern. The Finalizer could handle it, and the First Order could afford it. It was just a localized spike, and maintenance hadn't reported any other problems. But when those reports came back time and time again, each a little higher than the last, Hux knew he couldn't ignore it. A little probing informed him that Kylo’s personal unit was the culprit, and kriff if it didn't give Hux some small amount of wicked glee, knowing he had a real reason to give the Knight a piece of his mind. So there was the pettiness--making a personal visit to yell at Kylo when he could have simply messaged him, or sent some other officer. But the curiosity...Hux wanted to know what the hell he was doing that could use up so much more energy than anyone else’s quarters.

 

Hux half expected the doors to rush open before he could even lift his hand to the control panel. Surely with all his otherworldly abilities, Kylo could sense him coming. His flair for the dramatic would make it seem only fitting. But as Hux paused, he heard only the hum of the ship beneath his feet.

 

He finally pressed the button to request entry and waited again, but no one ever came.

 

With a soft sigh, Hux realized that maybe he didn't know Kylo’s schedule as well as he thought he did, because he was either gone, or very firmly ignoring him--which was a possibility, but not very likely. Kylo wasn't the type to shy away from confrontation.

 

Hux deflated a little, almost disappointed that he wasn't going to get his answers just yet, or his chance to share a few select words with the careless Knight. He turned to retreat, but then an idea gripped hold of him before he could take another step, and he eyed the door’s control panel once more. He could easily override the code. As General, he could gain access to just about any room on the ship. And as General, it was his duty to make sure that things were running smoothly in those rooms. Kylo Ren’s quarters were no exception. If something was amiss, it was Hux’s responsibility to resolve it. With or without Kylo’s permission.

 

His hand hesitated for only the briefest second before he punched in the necessary code and the doors slid open.

 

Hux reminded himself that he had every right to be there, that he wasn't trespassing or invading Kylo’s sense of privacy. But as he stepped inside and the doors shut behind him, he couldn't help the feeling that he should probably be quick about things...Just in case.

 

Luckily for Hux, it didn't take long to figure out where all that energy was going.

 

The main door opened up to a modest living area, where most people might keep a couch or a table. Maybe a desk. Things that normal people would need. But Kylo Ren was not a normal person. Instead, glass terrariums lined the walls and filled the space, full to the brim with all sorts of flora. Some of the plants looked to be spilling out of their containers, overtaking whatever was around them with sneaking vines. Others were carefully confined, delicate-looking flowers kept safely tucked away.

 

It was dark inside, the lights overhead turned off the way you'd expect when no one is home. But it wasn't actually dark at all. Each plant had its own source of light, and practically no two bulbs looked the same. Some were nearly blinding, a harsh yellow that burned into the leaves like the light of two suns. Others were dim, pale blues and reds splashed across flowers like moonlight. Each seemed so carefully curated, so personally designed...And all together, the room was awash in a hazy glow, fading into dark corners where the light couldn't quite reach.

 

Hux had to admit it was something quite akin to beautiful , drawing him in closer without even realizing it. He took one step and then another toward one of the nearby cases, and lifted a hand to touch the glass the sort of way a child might try and greet a caged animal.

 

“I wouldn't touch that, if I were you.”

 

Hux froze, his fingertips just a hair’s breadth from actually making contact with the glass. His heart leapt into his throat, but he steadied himself the best he could, refusing to look over at Kylo just yet. Acting guilty would only admit that he was at fault here, and he certainly was not.

 

“Afraid I'll smudge the glass?” He answered, affording himself the faintest smirk as he finally glanced up at the Knight.

 

“Afraid you'll piss them off.”

 

Kylo stepped inside, joining Hux by the large terrarium, and he belatedly realized he hadn't even heard the door open. For all that Ren could storm around the ship like an angry bantha, he could also be disconcertingly quiet.

 

Hux hadn't managed another witty retort before Kylo could continue.

 

“They're Dart Flowers. If they sense you getting too close, they fire those poisonous thorns. And while they shouldn't be able to break the glass I don't really want to test that theory,” Kylo turned to glance over at Hux, a dark sort of grin tugging at his lips, “Luckily for you, I don't keep them to ward off intruders the way a lot of people do.”

 

Hux couldn't believe it, but he felt himself flushing warm in the face, praying that the low light kept it hidden. But instead of finding a clever way to answer, he reminded himself why he was there in the first place.

 

“Ren, I don't remember signing off on whatever document claimed you could turn your room into a--...a forest ,” he scoffed, gesturing vaguely to the plants around them. “Your quarters have been hemorrhaging energy, and with all these lights it's not hard to imagine why. Not to mention the fire hazard they pose…”

 

Hux ventured another glance over at Kylo to find his smug expression gone, something like fear flickering over his face before he appeared to regain control of himself. But even then he still had the audacity to look almost bashful. It was a surprising reaction, one that Hux didn't quite know how to interpret.

 

“My collection’s grown faster than I could keep up with, so I--...I've had to rig most of this up myself,” Kylo murmured, stepping away from the Dart Flower case and busying himself with a nearby control panel. Hux watched as some of the lights dimmed, and others brightened. One group of flowers bloomed wide open, like a flock of tiny creatures waiting to be fed.

 

Hux wasn't sure why it hadn't occurred to him until now that Kylo had built most of the terrariums himself. Things obviously worked quite well, but there was a crudeness to many of the lamps and cases that suggested he'd been forced to use less than ideal materials. Hux hadn't been joking when he mentioned it being a possible fire hazard. One little spark or a wire out of place and they were in trouble.

 

“Ren, I truly don't know how you've managed to maintain all of this without me knowing, but you do realize your personal quarters aren't fit to support a small jungle, do you not? There’s a perfectly good lab on board, with perfectly good equipment.”

 

All things considered, Hux felt as though he was being remarkably generous with his wording. Like letting a suitor down as gently--but firmly--as possible. Leave it to Kylo to play the part of the heartbroken suitor more than Hux would have liked.

 

“They’re not--... No, they’re perfectly fine in here, I just need better supplies so I can upgrade their habitats.”

 

Kylo’s response lacked the bite that Hux expected; more pleading than threatening. But he continued with his work, making a few more adjustments on the same control panel before he walked away from Hux and over toward the other end of the room. As if maybe Hux would leave if he simply pretended he wasn’t there at all.

 

He heaved a soft sigh, cursing himself for making this so personal when he could have just sent Mitaka.

 

“Kylo--”

 

“I can’t trust those idiots in the lab, Hux, they don’t know the first thing about what it takes. They’d kill everything within a week. Or they’d end up like you, teasing a dart flower …”

 

Hux was quiet for a moment, watching as Kylo opened up a smaller case and reached inside, fretting over a pod of bright red flowers, buds tightly closed as if waiting for the right moment to bloom. He wanted to scoff at the way Ren treated them, handling them so delicately as if the plant was a beloved pet. But instead, an unwelcome sort of warmth bloomed inside his ribs, and he felt a little like squirming. It wasn’t supposed to go like this at all.

 

Maybe he could--...

 

“Fine.”

 

Kylo finally looked back over at Hux, regarding him as if he’d just now realized the man was there at all, his expression so open, so unguarded it almost hurt to look at.

 

“...Fine?”

 

“Fine. You can keep the plants, but only if you make those upgrades and get your energy readings back down. I mean it, Ren, no dragging your feet on this.”

 

Hux pointed a finger at him to try and emphasize his seriousness, but he wasn’t sure it worked as intended because Kylo was smiling , wide and crooked and so horrifically charming.

 

“You have my word.”

 

Hux nodded, blew out a breath and finally felt a little lighter. He turned on his heel, knowing that if he didn't leave soon, he might say something else he'd regret. But clearly Kylo wasn't quite done with him.

 

“You know...I could work a lot faster if I had some help getting the supplies I need.”

 

Hux paused, his back turned to Kylo. He considered it, and knew immediately that this was the thing he might regret most of all.

 

“I’ll see what I can do.”

 

----------------

 

Hux knew full-well that there wasn't a good reason for him to personally deliver Kylo’s provisions, not when he could have any number of other people--or droids--do it for him. It felt remarkably similar to the first time he came knocking...He was the General of the First Order, he should be spending his time doing more important things.

 

But he wasn't. Just two cycles later and he was punching in his access code to Kylo’s quarters while carefully balancing two boxes in his arms.

 

Hux had been given permission to let himself inside this time, but once he stepped through the doorway he discovered it wasn't entirely necessary. Kylo was already there, dressed down from the usual stiff tunic Hux was used to seeing him in. Such a minor detail probably shouldn’t have been as shocking to Hux as it was, but he found himself pausing anyway, his backside very nearly getting clipped by the doors as they slid shut behind him.

 

Only then did Kylo seem to realize he was there, glancing up at him with what was very nearly a smile.

 

“I could have picked those up myself, you know.” That almost-smile turned into a definite smirk. Hux felt himself go a little warm under the collar.

 

“You're right, how rude of me to do you a favor...”

 

Hux stepped over to one of the only tables with any clear space left, and set the two boxes down. They weren’t particularly heavy, but he was concerned about how delicate their contents were.

 

“How strange of you to do me a favor,” Kylo corrected, joining Hux by the table and opening up the first box to peer inside. He lifted out a piece of circuitry to get a better look. “Strange...but certainly not unwelcome. Thank you, Hux.”

 

Hux felt another little bloom of warmth, so unexpected that it almost startled him. Luckily, Kylo had already walked off with the item he needed, so if it showed in his face, he was safe.

 

For now.

---------------

 

Hux couldn't believe he was falling into a routine. That they were falling into a routine, picking up an order of supplies every day or two to be hand-delivered to Kylo. For his plants.

 

Kylo Ren had plants . Kylo Ren cared about his plants. And Hux cared about… well, he didn't really want to finish that thought. He certainly wasn't doing it for the way Kylo looked at him each time he came to drop off supplies, his expression going all soft and grateful and--...no. No, it was silly, watching the Knight dig through each shipment like a child tearing into a box of toys. It wasn't endearing, not in the slightest.

 

But there he was, back again with more supplies, and each time he lingered a little longer, watching as Kylo tended to a different plant. Occasionally--if the mood struck him--he even felt compelled to ask questions about them.

 

“They're vormur blossoms, Hux, why would I keep them covered? Not every flower smells so nice, so I might as well appreciate the ones that do.”

 

“Yes, it’s fine that they're floating, they're supposed to do that. Upside-down? ...Maybe stay away from those for a second.”

 

“No, I know--I know the ladalums aren’t blooming...They should. But they probably never will.”

 

Hux had noted a particular sadness in his voice that time, when he dared to ask why. A ladalum would only bloom if pollinated by a flower from its homeworld of Alderaan. But Hux wasn’t quite bold enough to ask why Kylo kept such a flower, even knowing it would never blossom. He had the feeling that the answer was more intimate than he deserved, and felt like he already knew more than he should.

 

(He didn’t ask any more questions that day.)

 

Other times he’d watch Kylo toil over a new solar lamp, or rewire one of the irrigation systems. Sometimes Hux would even offer his help with repairs, pleased that he could at least put his engineering knowledge to use and gloat a little along the way. That was absolutely the only reason. It pleased him when he could correct the Knight or instruct him on what to do--and certainly not because Kylo did it so happily, hardly ever questioning his command for once in their lives. That had nothing to do with it.

 

“Whoa, hey--just, uh...be careful with that one,” Kylo warned one day, reaching up to take the glass case from Hux’s arms after he’d been put to work helping him reorganize some of the smaller terrariums. The plants inside didn’t look like anything special, little clusters of yellowish-greenish flowers.

 

“But I don’t have to be careful with any of the others?” Hux answered, his teasing almost playful . The sort of way that might horrify him if he realized what he was doing.

 

“Funny,” Kylo scoffed, a grin belying his indifference, “If I tell you to watch out, it’s probably for your own good. You’ve never seen nerfscourge before?”

 

Kylo set the container down in its new location, gently nudging it back until it fit in line with all the others, and tested the latches on the top. Hux stepped over to get a closer look and idly wondered if it was another semi-sentient flower, threatening to leap out of its cage.

 

“Nerf--...what?” Hux repeated, brow arched to prompt an explanation.

 

“Nerfscourge. Its pollen contains trace amounts of neurotoxins, so….y’know, don’t go rolling around in a field of it. Or put your face that close to the screen.”

 

Hux instinctively jolted back from where he’d been leaning in for a better view, and he swore he heard Kylo try to stifle a laugh.

 

“Oh, who’s being funny now...Are there any other incredibly dangerous plants I should know about?” Hux absolutely did not pout. Pointing at one of the other nearby cases, he added, “What about those, what do they have? Poisonous leaves? Venomous thorns? Can they kill a man if he looks at them for too long?”

 

Kylo peered around him to get a look at the flower Hux was referring to, and gave him another sly smirk.

 

“No. Those are just black lilies.”

 

Hux sighed and rolled his eyes so hard it nearly hurt. Honestly, what else had he been expecting?

 

“But now that you mention it...there probably is one other plant I should warn you about. Over here,” Kylo added, a hand slipping around Hux’s forearm to tug him along. Hux might have been a little offended by the casual manhandling if the contact didn't feel so good, the warmth of Kylo’s touch stunning him into obedience as he followed.

 

Luckily, the creature--flower?--that he was faced with was frightening enough to distract him from that particular train of thought. They were almost as tall as he was, three long stems that bloomed into fearsome, thorny mouths. If he didn't know any better, he might think it was a living, breathing animal merely posing as a plant. And to make matters worse, there was no glass barrier between them.

 

“Meat flowers.”

 

Kylo stood just a little ahead of Hux, his hand still loosely curled around his wrist. All things considered, the posture felt a bit protective... “Trust me, they don't have that name because they taste good..”

 

“They're carnivorous?”

 

Kylo gave a little nod.

 

“Very. These are still young, though. Some grow large enough they could eat an entire human. But they only bite if they're touched, if that's any consolation.”

 

Hux felt himself blanch a little, and couldn't help wondering how long it would take for them to grow to such a size. And if Kylo would still keep them.

 

“It would be, if they were in a box like all the others…”

 

“Oh--yeah, no, don't worry about that, they will be. I'm just...still working on their habitat. It'll be the biggest one I have. But for now, try and stay clear so you don't turn into dinner, okay?”

 

Kylo finally let go of his arm, giving him a teasing little nudge before he walked off. Hux spared one final glance at the towering plants and then turned to join him, a phantom pressure still curled around his wrist. He hoped it might never leave.

 

---------------

 

Over the next few days, Hux found himself doing (and saying) an awful lot of things that he would immediately look back on in utter embarrassment. A tiny slip up here or there, a wrong word or a fumbling hand. But the worst incident was yet to come, and would undoubtedly top all the rest.

 

It wasn’t his proudest moment, Hux would be the first to admit. But what he probably wouldn't be as keen on disclosing was that he'd been so distracted, so compromised , his thoughts running off somewhere he should have been wrangling them back from.

 

Instead, it just meant he wasn't being as careful as he should have been. He should have been paying more attention to where he was walking, his eyes trained elsewhere, watching Kylo wipe the sweat from his brow as he worked on one of the solar cycle optimizers. He didn’t think twice about the leaves brushing against him, and the next thing he knew was a searing pain in his arm.

 

Hux cried out in shock but tried his best to stay calm as he assessed the situation, looking over to see the massive head of one of Kylo’s damned meat flowers latched onto his shoulder.

 

Of-fucking-course, the one thing he bothered to warn me about. ..

 

Hux rasped out a curse, his breath already quickening as the pain gripped him and the panic began to rise. His first instinct was to wrench his arm away, but he couldn’t tell if he was more afraid of hurting himself or Kylo’s plant. Luckily, he didn’t have to make that decision. Something clattered off in the distance and Kylo was there at his side before he could hardly blink.

 

Kriff , don't move--don’t move,” Kylo muttered, already sounding a little winded himself as he reached up to try and pry the flower off. Hux grit his teeth against the pain, feeling the sharp thorns sink deeper into his flesh, refusing to give up its meal so easily. But a second or two later and they finally retreated, dragged out of his shoulder and dragging out a gasp of relief along with them. Hux didn’t have to be told twice to pull his arm away from the plant in case it wanted to go back for seconds.

 

Kylo struggled with the beast for another tense moment, careful of its gaping maw before it finally snapped shut like a steel trap--thankfully without any part of either men inside of it. He looked down at his hands, probably grateful for the thick work gloves he’d been wearing, and then over at Hux.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Hux gave a nod that wasn’t quite a nod, feeling the rush of adrenaline slowly die down and leave a throbbing sting in its place. It felt a little like his entire arm was on fire, but he supposed he should be happy that he still had his arm at all.

 

“I move that we put their new terrarium at the top of your to-do list,” Hux answered with a weak laugh, cradling his shoulder for a moment before he pulled his hand away and noticed that it was speckled with blood. Kylo’s eyes went wide with the same realization.

 

“How about second place,” he said, shedding his gloves and reaching out for Hux, nudging gently at his hip to urge him toward the refresher. “You just earned the top spot, General.”

 

It was part of Hux’s nature to refuse the sort of help Kylo was offering, but his resistance didn’t last long. He resigned himself with a little sigh and a wince, and headed into the adjacent room.

 

“Take off your shirt, I’ll be back in a minute.”

 

Kylo turned up the lights and then turned right back around, leaving Hux alone with his thoughts. He prodded a little at his shoulder, poking a finger through one of the holes the plant had torn through his shirt and decided any attempt at modesty was probably the least of his concerns. After unfastening all of the buttons, he slipped it off and set it aside on the counter just as Kylo came back in, a rather archaic-looking mortar and pestle in his hands. Hux fought the urge to ask what it was for, hoping that an explanation would precede any strange experiments that Kylo might want to try.

 

Instead he just watched as the Knight tore up a handful of leaves and placed them inside, roughly grinding them down until they were practically a paste, and he caved.

 

“Forgive my playful curiosity, but what the hell is that?”

 

Kylo scooped the paste into a thin cloth, wringing out a clear liquid and discarding the rest.

 

“Leaves from the meat flower. If you extract the juice from them, they’ll soothe the bite better than anything else. At least...that’s my understanding. I’ve never actually been bitten before, so I appreciate your dedication to my research.”

 

Kylo flashed him another lopsided grin and Hux couldn’t tell if his heart skipped a beat, or if it was just the toxin spreading down into his chest.

 

A moment later and Kylo had retrieved more clean towels, wetting the first with plain water. Hux shifted a little to give him better access to his injured shoulder, gritting his teeth against the pain as Ren cleaned off the drying blood and wiped his skin down quickly but not roughly, his other hand supporting Hux’s arm and providing him with a much-needed distraction. Next came the cloth soaked in the meat flower juice, and Hux couldn’t help tensing just before it came into contact with the bite, afraid of what sort of strange reaction might happen.

 

But true to Kylo’s claims the effects were almost immediate, icing over the fire in his veins and pulling a shuddery sigh from Hux’s throat. The tension in his body suddenly gave way and he slumped forward against Kylo without even thinking about it, body sagging with relief, forehead pressed into the crook of his neck. It wasn’t as though it was the worst pain he'd ever felt in his life, not by a long-shot. But the rush of relief was so overwhelming it almost felt good, pleasure replacing the pain in a way he'd never felt before, and if he didn't lean on something--or someone--his knees might just give out.

 

“Feels okay?” Kylo murmured, dabbing at the bite wound just a little longer.

 

Even in his bizarre haze, he had to realize how strange it was that Ren wasn't reacting--wasn't shoving him off or shying away or scoffing at his sudden clinginess. He didn't seem bothered by it in the slightest. If anything, it felt like he welcomed it, pressing in a little closer and keeping him pinned ever so gently to the counter behind him.

 

“Fine,” Hux breathed out, lifting his head so he could see Kylo’s face out of the corner of his eye. His gaze trailed down to his injured shoulder, watching as Kylo reached for a small container of bacta instead, and began dabbing it over each tiny puncture in Hux’s skin, smoothing it into place with careful fingertips. He couldn't remember the last time anyone had treated him so tenderly and it was...certainly a revelation.

 

“Fine,” Kylo repeated softly, the hint of a laugh in his voice, “You’re always fine…”

 

Brow furrowed, Hux tried to study him a little more carefully.

 

“I’m not really sure what that’s supposed to mean.”

 

Finished with the bacta, Kylo wiped his hands off on the last towel, and turned his face toward Hux.

 

“It means--”

 

Hux cut him off there, leaning in to close that gap between them with a soft, clumsy kiss.

 

Normally, he would have wanted to know what Kylo was going to say. He would have killed just to get a little peek into the Knight’s head, some insight into the way he thinks. About him. But in that moment, all he could think about was shutting him up, and his chosen tactic seemed to work all too well.

 

Though he was bold enough to initiate the kiss, Hux wasn’t brave enough to deepen it, letting it linger for a moment before it tapered off. He didn’t pull back though. He could still feel the warm puff of Kylo’s breath against his face, lips barely a hair’s breadth from his own and yet he felt frozen.

 

It was Kylo who moved next, pressing forward to claim a second kiss, and it was Hux who allowed it, his hesitation suddenly nonexistent. In fact, almost nothing felt like it existed at that point. If it wasn’t his own mouth or Kylo’s, it simply didn’t matter.

 

But when Hux reached forward to pull him closer, he had to go and ruin it.

 

His eagerness pulled Kylo in too quickly and they stumbled backwards, bodies colliding against the countertop and his shoulder took more of the blow than intended. A sharp pain flared up in his arm, forcing a gasp from his throat. And even though it was merely a flicker, flashing bright and fading just as fast, it was enough to clear his head. By the time the discomfort had passed, his nerve had disappeared right along with it.

 

Shit --Hux, are you alright?”

 

Kylo drew back a little, giving him some space before he lifted a cautious hand to his shoulder.

 

“Yes, yes I'm fine,” he answered hastily, brushing him off a little as he reached over to grab his discarded shirt. Kylo pulled a bit further back, and when Hux ventured the briefest of glances, the surprised look on his face wounded him more than any bite ever could. It felt as though he might ask if he’d done something wrong and Hux wasn’t sure he’d be able to survive that question.

 

“I suspect they’ll have your last shipment ready in a day or two,” he said, striving for something casual as he shoved his arms into his sleeves and firmly ignored the pain in his shoulder.

 

Kylo didn’t stop him, but looked rather like he wanted to.

 

“Hux--”

 

“Thank you, Kylo.”

 

For the second time that day Hux cut him off with a kiss, but this time it was merely a peck on the cheek--modest and hasty, done too quickly for his brain to talk him out of it. One last parting gift before Hux ducked out of the refresher, and out of Kylo’s quarters entirely.

 

He wasn’t sure he started breathing again until the doors were finally closed behind him.

 

-----------------

 

Hux wasn’t exactly proud of the way things happened. Or the way he left them. But he didn’t regret them either, not really. He wasn't thinking straight--he couldn't be sure that Kylo was thinking straight--and if he hadn't taken that chance to leave, he might have done something he really would regret. There might always be some part of him that wished he might have stayed, but he knew it was better this way. It gave him time to think, to plan his next move.

 

Kylo’s final shipment came in a day later than expected, but it worked in Hux’s favor, needing the extra day to secure a shipment of his own. It was no small feat, and to get it done so quickly he pulled far more strings than should have been morally acceptable. But he didn't think twice.

 

Kylo’s supplies arrived first, his own shipment arriving later that day, and Hux decided to save himself the trip by only going the one time to pick up both. Except when he finally got to the loading bay, only one was to be seen. And it wasn’t Kylo’s.  

 

Hux did his best not to overreact, fearful that someone else might have taken it. Accidentally or not, there just wasn’t any room for error, not now. And having to tell Kylo that he’d have to wait another few days to get it sorted out just wasn’t in the cards.

 

Luckily, one of the officers on duty knew exactly who had taken that particular shipment, but the answer he got was even worse than he’d braced himself for.

 

“Lord Ren signed for it, sir,” he answered, tapping at the datapad in his hands to double-check.

 

Hux felt himself go offline for a second, somehow unable to process what he’d just been told.

 

“...Sir?”

 

Without bother to answer, Hux took off in a huff, almost forgetting his own shipment and probably leaving the poor officer in some state of confusion. It was a delivery for Kylo. It should only make sense he picks it up. But to Hux, it could only mean one thing, and he didn't like it, not one bit.

 

But still, Hux didn't head immediately for Ren’s quarters. Even with his stomach slowly knotting itself up in worry he kept a level head, and waited until the time was right.

 

That time ended up being merely an hour and a half later, once Hux had regained his nerve, but it was the right time nonetheless.

 

Except this time, he didn't let himself in. Instead he waited almost two agonizing minutes for Kylo to open the door, and for a moment he wasn't sure he was going to be welcomed inside at all. But then Kylo was standing there, looking a bit uncertain.

 

“Hux--...Did I forget something?” He asked, glancing down at the box in Hux’s hands, and then back into his room where supplies were scattered about. “I thought I got everything, it's all accounted for…”

 

Hux shifted his weight from one foot to the other, a nervous chuckle rising to his lips.

 

“No--no, this is...well, it’s from me.”

 

Forcing himself to meet Kylo’s gaze, he watched him flit from one emotion to the next, never quite settling anywhere in particular. But before he could try and make any assumptions, Kylo stepped back from the door and gave a little gesture to usher him inside.

 

“Do you want to come in?”

 

Hux felt himself exhale a little deeper. He nodded and moved forward, past the doorway and into Kylo’s quarters one more time.

 

Not the last time, not the last time, not--

 

“I could have picked that up myself, you know.”

 

Hux tried for something lighthearted, teasing Kylo with his own words as he nodded toward the box of supplies, but he wasn't sure he'd gotten them right. He swore he saw the flicker of a grin there on the Knight’s face, but it was gone just as fast. He didn't seem angry, or even all that sad, but every expression Kylo wore seemed tinged with confusion. Like he genuinely couldn't understand what Hux was doing, or why he was there.

 

He was quiet for a moment, looking like he was debating a clever response before he finally gave up.

 

“I could say I was just returning the favor and saving you a trip, but maybe I should just be honest and say that I wasn't sure you'd want to see me again. At least--maybe not so soon.”

 

It was Hux’s turn to suffer in silence now, his fears confirmed. But when his first instinct probably should have been to reassure Kylo otherwise, to say that he couldn't be more wrong, he couldn't quite manage it. It didn't feel right. His mouth opened, a noise catching in the back of his throat that was very nearly a word, and Kylo finally took pity on him.

 

“Is that for me?”

 

He lifted a hand toward the box still in Hux’s arms, as though waiting for permission to take it from him.

 

“Oh--yes, here,” Hux answered, practically forgetting about it himself as he handed it over. The package was a bit fragile, so he did the best he could not to let his nerves get the best of him, even when all he wanted to do was thrust the box into Kylo’s arms and run. Hux wasn’t a quitter , he wasn’t about to give up now. When Hux wanted something, he got it.

 

Kylo took the box and carried it over to one of his work tables, but Hux stayed rooted to the spot, following after him with nothing more than his eyes.

 

He watched him open it, watched him stare inside for a moment before he carefully lifted out a small glass case with a single red flower inside.

 

Kylo studied it a little more closely, turned it in his hands to look at it from a different angle. He looked back behind him where his dormant ladalums sat quietly, crimson buds curled tight as they slept on, and then back down at the plant in his hands. One in the same. Only with petals bloomed proudly open.

 

Something akin to disbelief washed over his features and his brows began to knit themselves together.

 

“Hux, is this really--”

 

“I know--I know, I didn’t really have enough time to check with all my sources, but I thought, what’s the harm in taking their word for it? Maybe yours will finally bloom, and if not, then...at least you have one.”

 

Kylo’s expression softened into something more like awe, and he took another glance at the flower he held, studying it as if it was a rare heirloom. In a way, it kind of was, wasn't it? Hux wasn't sure how it was possible, but he supposed that if the flower was preserved well enough, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that it was truly from Alderaan. For the price he paid, he certainly hoped it was true...But he wasn't going to mention as much to Kylo.

 

He finally looked back up at Hux, and for a moment he thought he might say something. Lips parted, closed again. Eyes darted off to one side and then down, eyelids fluttering the sort of way they might when blinking away unwanted moisture.

 

It was Hux’s turn to take pity on him, slowly coming forward until he was close enough that he could take the plant from him and set it gently aside. Kylo let him, fingertips brushing as he passed it off, and when Hux looked back up, those dark eyes bore straight into his own, wide and glittering.

 

“Is this just another one of your unexpected favors?”

 

Finally a grin began to find its way back onto Kylo’s face, a barely-there sort of thing that suggested his question was only half teasing . Hux couldn't help a shy smile of his own, and unthinkingly they both moved in another inch closer.

 

“Not a favor. A gift.”

 

A gift for someone that I hope might someday care for me half as much as they care for their ridiculous plants.

 

There was a pause just long enough to exhale before Kylo was on him, surging forward to kiss Hux as though it might be the last thing he ever does. There was so much more heat to it than when Kylo had kissed him before, burning right down to his core and lower still. A fire spreading faster than it could be extinguished, and Hux couldn't bring himself to mind.

 

He didn't even realize Kylo was guiding him backward until he was pressed up against something hard, assuming it was the wall until he splayed out a hand to balance himself and felt only cool, smooth glass beneath his palm.

 

“So you like it?” He murmured against Kylo’s mouth, his voice already gone rough and breathy.

 

He got a laugh in response, a low noise that Hux could feel vibrating in his own chest.

 

“Who would have known you're so full of surprises, General?”

 

It was impossible for Hux to tell if his words were dripping with fondness or arousal, and the realization that it might have been both was more than he could handle.

 

Clumsy hands pulled Kylo in closer, suddenly overwhelmed by how badly he wanted to feel the Knight’s body against his own. And for a moment Kylo obliged him, trapping him there against the glass and devouring every last noise he could drag from Hux, licking them from his tongue and swallowing them whole.

 

But soon enough Kylo’s mouth left his own, instead trailing kisses over his jaw, his ear, his neck, leaving Hux to curse the high collar of his uniform. He wanted to tear it open, wanted Kylo to tear it open. He didn't. But when Hux finally opened his eyes and found the Knight sinking to his knees in front of him, his shirt was suddenly of far less concern.

 

“Kylo--?”

 

Hux murmured his name, a question that wasn't quite a question. A pair of syllables that were meant to sound something like, ‘you don't have to do that,’ but at the same time, ‘keep going, please keep going.’

 

Whether or not Kylo understood all of that was up for debate, but the smirk curling his lips was rather telling, even if all it really foretold was Hux’s imminent ruin.

 

“I'm not allowed to give you something in return?”

 

Hux couldn't quite tell if he could feel the heat of Kylo’s mouth even through the fabric of his trousers, or if it was merely wishful thinking. Either way, his brain didn't want to focus on much else--certainly not complete sentences, or even complete words. Luckily, Kylo didn't seem to mind when all he got in response was a helpless groan and the thunk of Hux’s head tipped back against the terrarium behind him.

 

Deft hands tugged at his clothing and Hux felt his pulse spike. When he finally felt the rush of cool air against bare skin, he was certain his heart might just stop altogether. And every time he managed to recompose himself, Kylo found a way to push him right back over the edge.

 

Oh, kriffing hell, Ren--”

 

Hux only had himself to blame for thinking that Kylo might warn him before doing anything drastic. And as he looked back down, only to see that plush smirk wrapped around the head of his cock, it was obvious that Kylo felt the same. He swore he could hear that little tsk inside his head.

 

You’re not the only one full of surprises .

 

With one hand still splayed out against the glass behind him, Hux’s other found itself tangled up in the Knight’s hair, fingers diving into thick, dark locks without a second thought. He gave the barest little tug and it was Kylo’s turn to stifle a moan, eyes fluttering shut as he laved the underside of Hux’s length, lapped up the pearl of pre-cum welling at the tip, and then welcomed it back into his waiting mouth.

 

Hux realized very quickly that Kylo was committed to taking him apart, teasing lips and coy tongue giving way to something much more devastating. He didn’t particularly want to admit that it wouldn’t have taken as much effort--that Kylo could have been the clumsiest, least skillful lover he’d ever been with, and it wouldn’t make any difference. In reality, Hux was probably working to keep control just as hard as Kylo was to make him lose it.  And somewhere along the way, Hux’s resolve began to crack.

 

His grip loosened a little, hand sliding down and back up, fingertips dragging over his scalp before grabbing another fistful of Kylo’s hair. A fruitless action, desperately clinging to his self-control the same way he pawed and grabbed at the man below him. And when he felt one of those large warm hands wrap around the base of his cock, it was all over.

 

Hux choked on his next breath, moaning giving way to whimpering, voice gone embarrassingly high and reedy until there was barely any noise at all when he finally came. His hips jerked forward, burying himself to the hilt in all that velvet heat. Kylo barely even gagged, swallowing around him like it was nothing, even as Hux spilled himself down his throat.

 

Hux was distantly aware of the way Kylo worked him through his climax, registering the sensation of eager hands and lips wringing him dry, but feeling them the way he might as if he were dreaming--not that he would know what that was like, not that he’d woken up all hot and bothered and sticky for nearly a week straight, gods no.

 

Hux didn’t quite come out of that dream-state until he was too weak in the knees to stand, his body sliding down the glass wall to rest in a rather inelegant heap on the floor. It earned a chuckle from Kylo, warm and rough, and Hux groaned when he realized it sounded so husky because he’d literally had his throat fucked raw. It was an epiphany his exhausted body couldn’t bear.

 

“Honestly, how dare you,” he murmured, struggling to find his own voice. Another rumbling purr of a laugh.

 

“Mm, how dare I what?”

 

Kylo shifted forward between Hux’s splayed knees, pressing in close enough to steal a kiss much softer than the others. Flushed lips parted, and Hux could taste himself on the Knight’s tongue.

 

“You know very well what , Kylo Ren...”

 

Hux could feel him grinning against his mouth, a beast with sharp teeth and a hunger yet to be sated. He lifted heavy arms to pull Kylo closer, intent on finally returning the favor now that he was slowly regaining his strength, but as he curled his hands around Kylo’s face, Hux felt something curling around his wrists in return.

 

He pulled back from the kiss and looked over at his hands. A mass of vines had crept up out of the case behind them, tendrils reaching out to brush against Hux in an exploratory sort of embrace.

 

Huh.

 

“...Kylo,” he murmured, getting his attention when he realized he still had his eyes closed, awaiting another kiss. “Should I be concerned?”

 

Brown eyes blinked open, took a long look at Hux, and then the slithering vines. A sly grin flit across his lips and he leaned back in to resume peppering his face and neck with kisses

 

“No. Just means they like you. Maybe they like that I like you.”

 

Hux gave a pleased little hum, happy with that answer until one of the vines was suddenly snaking across his thigh and he yelped in surprise. He could feel the blush coloring his cheeks so brightly it burned, and Kylo finally reached over to brush the plant away, albeit a little half-heartedly.

 

“Well...maybe that is cause for concern.”