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Life Sentence, No Cellmate

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With the planet rapidly disintegrating, Hux doesn’t trust anyone else to fetch Ren. He goes himself, ordering two relatively competent men from the bridge to accompany him. He’s expecting to find Ren clutching that girl again or having a poorly-timed tantrum, maybe slashing at tree trunks and kicking snow. Ren is bloody, ashamed, and alone on the edge of a rapidly widening chasm when Hux’s shuttle approaches.

“The girl is strong with the Force,” Ren says when they’re in the cargo hold, the other two officers piloting the shuttle away from what’s left of the planet. Ren’s voice is rasping, defensive. Hux has heard this excuse already.

“You need medical attention,” Hux says, less smugly than he’d planned to, still a bit stunned that the petulant child Snoke has such strange faith in has allowed himself to be this visibly disgraced. The slash across Ren’s face looks like the taunting brand of an enemy, and the sight of it gives Hux a kind of secondhand humiliation. He doesn’t ask if it was the girl or her friend the traitor who left it there.

“Snoke asked for me,” Ren says, lifting his chin to show Hux his bloody face again. He’s hunched over, sitting against the wall, his helmet nowhere to be found. “I felt it.”

“You’re not fit to see Supreme Leader like this.”

“There’s-- I can--”

“Don’t be stupid. You’re bleeding from your side.” Ren is crouched around the injury, trying to hide it even as his blood pools on the floor. “Blaster fire?”

“Crossbow.” Ren lowers his head again, matted hair falling over his face. Hux thinks he should be forced to cut it; it’s flagrantly against First Order regulation. “My-- Solo’s wookie.”

“Excuse me?” The mention of Solo is unexpected, though Hux had heard he was helping the traitor and the scavenger with their plot. Ren shakes his head.

“I’ll go to med bay,” he says, the shuttle jolting as it docks with the Finalizer. “Then to Snoke.”

“It won’t do to have you seen by whomever in med bay like this. No, go straight to your private quarters. I’ll bring a doctor. Someone we can trust.”

“We?” Ren makes a disbelieving noise and glares at him. “Since when-- You don’t want me seen like this by the crew? I thought you might enjoy it.”

“It would be an insult to Supreme Leader’s trust in you.”

Hux had thought he would enjoy it, too.

**

He oversees Ren’s medical treatment personally, pacing around Ren’s rooms while the doctor does what is necessary. Ren’s quarters are unsurprisingly bare and impersonal, save for the twisted old helmet that he keeps on display under a single, worshipful light. It’s tacky, but what about him isn’t.

“He’ll be fine,” the doctor says when he emerges from Ren’s bedroom, a portable diagnostic machine tucked under his arm and a squat surgical droid gliding along the floor at his feet. “He wouldn’t let me put restorative ointment on his face,” he adds, lowering his voice as if they’re talking about a child. Though Ren is Hux’s age, almost thirty: they are. “It’s a shallow cut,” the doctor says. “The ointment he refused would prevent scarring.”

“Never mind,” Hux says, thinking of Snoke’s scars. Ren must think having one of his own will be impressive. Maybe it will, for all Hux can tell about how or why Ren manages to impress the Supreme Leader. “Did you medicate him?”

“Yes, I administered a topical painkiller and something for the shock.”

“The shock?”

“He’s got a mild case of it, according to my readings. The medication should help him sleep. I’ll see him again in the morning. He lost a fair amount of blood, and he’ll be weak when he wakes up. I can assign a nurse to watch over him--”

“No,” Hux says. Snoke wouldn’t want that; there is no one on their nursing staff, certainly, with that level of security clearance. “I’ll do it. You’re dismissed.”

“Yes, sir.” The doctor’s brow pinches slightly, then he and his droid are gone, Ren’s door whisking shut behind them. Hux takes a deep breath and squares his shoulders. This is most unpleasant, but it’s all according to Snoke’s wishes. Hux has already instructed the navigation team on the bridge to take them to the Supreme Leader’s planet. Snoke wanted Ren delivered in person. Apparently this further ‘training’ he requires cannot be completed via the holo channel.

Hux delays entering Ren’s bedchamber for as long as possible, checking and rechecking his communications from the bridge. All appears to be in order for their trip to Snoke’s citadel, which will take three days even at full speed. Snoke is not known for his accessibility. Hux, in fact, has never met him in person before, and he wonders if he will now, or if Snoke will simply instruct them to drop Ren onto the planet’s surface and depart.

When an hour has passed, Hux decides it would be prudent to check on Ren. He walks to the bedroom door, which the doctor left open. Ren is in bed, on his back, his obscenely long legs elevated on a pillow. He’s got another pillow over his face. He appears to be weeping.

“Do you need the doctor?” Hux asks, sharply and at full volume, needing Ren to know how irritated he is by what is happening here. Ren goes perfectly still and seems to stop breathing. He leaves the pillow over his face. Hux considers that he might be trying to suffocate himself in shame.

“What are you still doing here?” Ren asks. His voice is muffled, furious. “Get out!”

“I will not. You are suffering from shock, apparently. You need monitoring, and there is no one else aboard the ship at this time who is qualified to do so. I am to deliver you to Snoke, and therefore--”

Hux feels pressure around his throat first, his voice pinching off and his limbs growing stiff with instinctual terror. Ren’s rage floods him like a lightning-quick virus, poisoning its way along the back of his neck and setting off a cold sweat that trickles from his hairline down over his temples. He’s beginning to truly panic when the pressure at his throat relents, slowly, allowing him to take a gasping breath. The seething rage that remains belongs wholly to Hux: this is Ren’s way of telling someone to shut up. It is disgustingly unfair that someone so unqualified to wield any power at all should have this much at his disposal.

“Fucking--” Hux chokes out, still gasping, his knees weak when he stumbles back against the door frame. “Bastard!”

Still under the pillow, Ren laughs.

“How right you are,” he says. He draws in a breath that could be qualified as a sniffle. “Get out,” he says again, his voice steadier and deeper now. “I don’t answer to you.”

“You answer to Snoke.” Hux has regained his voice, too, mostly. He stands up straight and glowers at Ren, hating that he knows he would lose a physical fight to him, with or without the Force on Ren’s side. Hux is battle-trained, but combat was never his talent. The violence he’s done in his lifetime has been more of the strategic variety, and he eagerly awaits the day he can mastermind the disposal of Ren the way he has carefully eliminated past competitors. “I’m here to make sure you don’t die of your pathetically self-inflicted injuries.” This is an assumption, but one that Hux is comfortable making: however Ren ended up on the wrong side of a crossbow, it was his fault entirely and probably avoidable. “You are compromised,” Hux says. “Until the doctor informs me that your shock has receded, your survival is my responsibility. I was given a direct order to bring you to Snoke. He will expect--”

“All right!” Ren shouts, and he whips the pillow away, showing Hux his scowl. The cut on his face is pink, sealed by the doctor but still raw. “I don’t need to hear another monologue about why you must personally nurse me. Apparently you’re determined.”

Hux’s lips twitch with the need to refute that, but he restrains himself, in part because he’s not sure he wouldn’t black out if he took another chokehold to the throat before fully recovering from the last one. He turns on his heel and leaves Ren to his pouting.

*

Ren is sleeping when Hux slips out for a quick dinner in the officers’ wardroom. It’s there, over a bowl of cream of something soup laced with enough salt and black pepper to make it somewhat palatable, that Hux first hears the rumor: Ren killed Han Solo.

The other officers at the table seem to understand, like Hux does, that Solo was Ren’s father. Hux stirs his soup, turning this information over in his mind. He can feel the others looking to him, expecting input.

“Have you seen him, sir? Ren, I mean? Since the evacuation?”

This is an insolent captain by the name of Yonke speaking, and Hux takes his time before responding, dabbing at his lips with a napkin.

“Ren is aboard this ship,” Hux says, trying to wield this like a threat. It’s ineffectual, perhaps, because he has privately made jokes about Ren with these men before. They all look at him with a mixture of confusion and curiosity now, waiting to hear more. “He has his orders from Snoke,” Hux says, using that name more confidently as a weapon. “As do I.”

There is a lot of nodding then, and disappointed looks down at plates when they realize he won’t be commenting on the Solo rumor. Hux’s father abhorred gossip possibly more than any other kind of insolent talk. He once backhanded Hux for repeating something scandalous that Hux’s mother had said about a neighbor his father disliked. He’d brought his father the news thinking he would be pleased to hear it. He’d been six years old maybe, or seven.

Hux walks briskly back to Ren’s quarters after the meal, his heart rate picking up a bit when he wonders if he should have left the fool alone for even a moment. Ren is unpredictable at the best of times, and he becomes a particular liability when he’s faced with some sort of emotional crisis. And now he’s killed his own father, they say.

Ren’s quarters are quiet when Hux enters, but as he strides through the main room he hears cursing from the bedchamber. The bed is empty, the door to the attached bathroom open, light spilling out. Hux can’t see Ren, but he can hear him breathing. He sounds distressed.

“Do you need the doctor?” Hux asks.

“Stop asking me that.” Ren’s voice is low and calm again, as if he’s speaking through his mask, though his tone is not quite so filtered. Hux wonders if he has a spare, or a whole row of masks along the top shelf of his closet. Would they be identical? Slightly varied?

“It’s a relevant question,” Hux says. “What are you doing? Are you in pain?”

He didn’t mean to ask that, and there’s an uncomfortable lull afterward while they both wait to figure out why he did.

“Pain is not relevant,” Ren says, muttering. Hux rolls his eyes.

“How wise. I’m going to work out here, in your front room. There’s much to do in the wake of this disaster. If you need medical attention, tell me now. I don’t want to be interrupted once I’ve started on my field reports.”

Ren is still breathing heavily, though he’s trying to downplay it. The bedsheets are ransacked as if he woke from a nightmare.

“What will you write about me in your field report?” Ren asks. His voice is low again, a threat and a tease, with that edge of infuriating whimsy that’s almost playful. When they first met, Hux couldn’t shake the feeling that Ren was always laughing at him a little, under his breath. Now he hears it differently. “What will you write about how you found me?” Ren asks, more sharply.

“That is too highly classified to go into a report to the Order,” Hux says, deciding this as he speaks. “Snoke requires our most important communications to be directly to him, via holo link. I see no reason for a written record of your-- Retrieval.”

“You came personally.” Ren laughs. “You had to-- See that for yourself, huh?”

“Most of the officers on the bridge were panicking at the time. I didn’t trust anyone else to properly oversee the extraction mission I’d been ordered to undertake.”

Ren goes silent again. Brooding. Hux wonders if he looked Han Solo in the eyes before killing him. He tells himself he could have done it to his own father, if necessary. He’d admired his father, but they were professionally connected, not personally. Hux was part of the lineage the way a junior officer is part of a military branch: hoping to rise in the ranks, deferring until there is no one left to defer to. If patricide had been required to take his father’s place, his father might have been disappointed in Hux for not rising to the occasion. But Solo held no such rank in Ren’s world. This killing was personal for him. Spiritual, perhaps. Hux wonders if Snoke demanded it outright, or if his desire for this symbolic show of allegiance was only implied.

“Get your questions out of my doorway,” Ren barks. Hux flinches, perturbed; he hadn’t sensed any intrusion into his thoughts. Ren stumbles out of the bathroom, regrettably wearing only a towel around his waist and bandages over his hip, his lip raised. “You’re so fixated on the material,” he says. “You’ll never understand the intricacies of the Dark Side. It’s not a-- Not a linear path. You’re small-minded, two-dimensional. I’m not climbing some military ladder.”

“You should let the doctor see to that scar,” Hux says, enjoying this. He hadn’t even intended to rile Ren; somehow that’s always when he’s most successful at doing so. “It doesn’t suit your features.”

He turns his back on Ren, half expecting another vice grip around his throat, but nothing comes. The bathroom door whirs shut and there’s a crash from within, glass shattering against the metal sink when Ren breaks the mirror.

*

Only when Hux wakes up slumped onto Ren’s desk with his face pressed to his data pad does he realize he hasn’t properly slept in almost forty-eight hours. He lifts his head and winces at the ache in his neck and the smudge on his screen, wiping it away with his sleeve. He needs a shower and a real bed. He’s bleary and half-asleep when he stands, thinking of the narrow strip of Ren’s enormous bed that its owner actually occupies. Hux has always resented his own slight frame, but at the moment it may come in handy. He could occupy an edge or a corner of that bed, just long enough to reclaim a functional thought process.

Ren’s room is dark, the lights at four percent according to the wall module. Ren is curled in on himself in the middle of the bed, just as ridiculously enormous as the mattress, which is the one extravagant piece of furniture in his quarters. He ordered it specially and was indulged as usual. The bed nearly fills the small room, low to the ground and just wide enough to leave enough space on each side to access the closet and bathroom. Despite its custom length, Ren’s feet still come nearly to the end of the mattress, and even his hair seems clownishly over-sized, hanging over his face and fanned across the pillow. He has the bedsheet half-draped over him and seems to be naked beneath it, which makes Hux scowl as he contemplates an entry strategy. Back in his own quarters, smaller than these, he has three pairs of pressed First Order-issue pajamas waiting for him in his bottom drawer, but he can’t leave this idiot alone long enough to seek actual comfort there. Ren has already smashed a mirror. There are other sharp objects he might cut himself on, and Snoke will not abide an apprentice who has slashed himself to pieces under Hux’s watch.

Hux creeps around to the side of the bed that faces the closet and sits there carefully, keeping an eye on Ren from over his shoulder. He isn’t sure how sensitive one’s Force skills are or aren’t when they’re asleep. He’s researched the Force thoroughly, but there is little written about it that is accessible in the Archives. Its secrets seem to pass mostly through word of mouth, and neither Snoke nor Ren has been forthcoming about it to him. He removes his boots slowly and places them on the floor, toes against the wall, per regulation. Sometimes he feels as if his father’s ghost is watching him when he does these things: small adjustments, fastidious respect paid to the Order’s many rules, fussy rituals that make him want to look around for an approving gaze. He rubs at his face, exhausted by his own battle-worn thought process. There’s nothing left to do but sleep until his wits return. Ren is hugged around one pillow while his head rests on the other, but the mattress is soft enough against Hux’s cheek when he sinks onto it, staying on the very edge, as far from Ren as physically possible. He’s asleep in three breaths, even his bones seeming to slacken with relief.

Dreams overwhelm him: his father’s study, the volume of his own voice as he announced the end of the Republic, and Ren dripping blood everywhere, crashing around the bridge of the Finalizer, weeping and breaking equipment. Ren is wearing Vader’s mask, and it’s cutting his face, blood leaking down his neck as he tries in vain to yank it off. Hux reaches for him, wanting to calm him, afraid he’ll ruin everything with his mad flailing about, but Ren stays out of reach, using the Force like a shield to keep Hux at arm’s length.

Hux wakes up to darkness and the awareness that he’s not alone. He’s still in uniform: his belt feels too tight. When he sees the shape of Ren looming over him he shrinks, afraid to see Vader’s mask locked over Ren’s head. His eyes adjust, first to the bared pale of Ren’s skin. Then he sees the gash across Ren's face and remembers why he’s here.

“You’re in my bed,” Ren says. Hux wonders if he’s talking in his sleep. Ren seems dazed, eerily calm, and overly large from his position above Hux, leaning up onto his elbow to peer down at him. Perhaps he has entered a Force-induced trance of some kind. Hux hears himself swallow and knows that Ren will have heard it, too. His heart is racing from the unsettling dream, and from Ren’s menacing proximity.

“I needed rest,” Hux says. He can feel Ren scanning him now: sinister, unseen fingers carding through his thoughts. “Looking after you is-- Thankless, tiring.”

“You’re wounded,” Ren says. The softness of the observation sends dread prickling over Hux’s limbs, inside his uniform. He feels like transfixed prey, unable to move.

“Excuse me?” he says, keeping his voice sharp. “I’m not wounded. What are you talking about?”

“Your pride. Your plan. You’re surprised Snoke hasn’t killed you already.”

“That’s--” Hux looks away. He decides that he’s remaining so still only because it would be more incriminating to move, a signal that he wants to escape. He stays motionless so that Ren will know he’s not afraid of him. “Of course I’m disappointed,” he says, staring at the sleek handle on the door of Ren’s wall closet. “It’s a blow. I don’t count it as a personal failure, however. It was bad luck. You were the one who was there, at the oscillator. You allowed the rebels to attack because you were too busy with personal business to stop them. It’s your failure, not mine.”

“Perhaps you’re right.”

This admission is surprising enough to make Hux flinch, but he keeps his eyes on the closet door. He swallows again when he feels Ren’s fingertips on his jaw, turning his head until their eyes meet. Ren’s eyes are shining in the dark like a trap, offering the promise of answers as bait.

“You want to ask me about my father.”

Hux can feel the heat of Ren’s breath when he speaks. He can’t think now about how stupid it was to get into this bed; he must have been insane with exhaustion. It’s too late to change what’s already done. All he can do is strategize, move forward, and pretend not to know that Ren won’t see him doing it, that he won’t throw obstacles in every path Hux tries to flee down.

“So?” Hux says. “Of course I want to ask you about your father. The others say you killed him. Too bad you couldn’t diffuse his bombs before you got around to that.”

“You’re not afraid of me.” Ren frowns and tilts his head slightly, as if he’s trying to see past some shimmering film that rests over the surface of Hux.

“Why should I be afraid of you?” It doesn’t even seem true that he’s not; ‘afraid’ simply isn’t the right word. “Just because you use your sacred, spiritual powers like a schoolyard bully? Because you slash the walls of this ship with your saber when things don’t go your way? That’s what I’m supposed to fear?”

Ren laughs a little, just a puff of air against Hux’s cheekbone. His fingertips are still on Hux’s jaw, tapping softly while he scours Hux’s unblinking eyes with his own.

“When we’re standing before him,” Ren says, “We’re so uniquely alone. Apart from each other, apart from him, apart from everyone everywhere who has no idea what it’s like to stand there and face him when we’ve failed. We both failed today. You faced him alone and he told you to find me. What was that like?”

“You’ve been alone with him plenty of times.”

Ren is talking about Snoke, and Hux wants to tell him that it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot to him either way. Snoke is the one handing down the highest orders, the ones Hux must obey. That’s all; he doesn’t worship Snoke the way Ren does. He doesn’t want anything more from Snoke than permission to continue doing his job. Ren wants something more. Love, probably. Or adoration, approval. Idiot. “You don’t get that from people like him,” Hux says, feeling Ren in his head, hearing all of this as he thinks it.

“Whom do you get it from?” Ren’s mouth quirks, almost a smile. He looks ghastly with that cut splitting his face, especially when smiling. “Hmm? Who gives you love, General Hux? Adoration? Approval, even?”

He’s thinking of Hux’s father, seeing him. Drawing out memories like a vulture pulling guts from a corpse. Chewing on them, ripping at them.

“It’s not important to me,” Hux says. “You think a Sith Lord, or whatever the hell you consider yourself to be, is the only sort of person who can cut himself off from the weakness that kind of attachment brings? You’re amazingly naive. I gave the order that killed billions of people today. It doesn’t weigh on me. People are dust. Temporary, replaceable, unspecial. Attachment to transient, trifling things does only harm, even to children. Especially to them. You’re crying into a pillow because you killed one man. I’d have killed my father if it was demanded of me. You’re not so unique, Ky-lo.”

“Don’t say it like that.” Ren puts his hand on Hux’s throat, his fingers pressing in, just short of squeezing. “I demanded it of myself,” he says, his voice shaking. “No one asked me to do it. You were asked to give that order, to kill those billions. You were commanded to do it. I made my own choice. You don’t know what that’s like. You’re just a dog who follows his master.”

“I’m someone who sees the value of power,” Hux says, holding Ren’s gaze as if he’s not growing nervous about Ren’s grip on his throat. “Real, tangible power. Not some invisible magic that tells me to kill Daddy rather than secure my base against the enemy.”

When Ren’s grip crushes in around his throat, Hux is almost pleased, at least until he can no longer breathe. You call this control? he thinks, hoping Ren will hear it. You’re so easily provoked. A child who is always on the verge of a tantrum.

“And you’ll never let yourself have a tantrum,” Ren says, still choking off Hux’s air supply. There will be bruises this time, if he survives. “You’ll never let yourself think you have anything. So cool, so calm, so collected. There’s no power in indifference. The greatest power is in anger, rage, hatred, vengeance, and you can’t make those from nothing.”

He releases Hux then, lets him writhe and gasp for breath. Hux clutches at his throat, rolls onto his side. His heart is a pulsar: flaring, wild. Ren is behind him, tugging at his too-tight belt.

“You need to let go,” Ren says, that whimsical note in his tone sending a shiver across the back of Hux’s neck while he sucks in desperate breaths, his vision still spotty. “Here. I’ll show you.”

The feeling of his ass suddenly exposed to a cold room: Hux remembers this well from the Academy. He hasn’t been fucked since graduation, and more often than not it had been against his will. As a boy he’d fantasized, maybe, once or twice, about something like the Force: a sudden, invisible power that could propel his enemies powerfully away. He was targeted because of his father, and his attackers were protected for the same reason. They knew he would be too ashamed, too afraid to besmirch the family name, that he would never report them. That was part of the “joke,” which was what they’d called it. In the end it was good. It cemented Hux’s legacy, fortified the last of his weakness with bitter hatred that hardened whatever natural defenses he’d had. Maybe Ren has a point about anger, rage, vengeance. They’re all dead now, and without a drop of blood spilt on Hux’s hands. He’d watched them plead for mercy from a distance, and each time had crept just close enough to see that moment of recognition flash in their animal eyes, the moment when they knew who had destroyed them so completely that they’d begged to die.

“It’s all right,” Ren rasps in his ear. “I see, I know. If you want me to stop, I’ll let you walk away. I will. Know that. Go free, if you wish.”

It’s a dare. Hux flexes in Ren’s grip and bares his teeth against the mattress.

“Please, continue.” He means it, feels like he’s been set on fire and wants to burn for as long as he can. “I’ve wondered if you even have a cock, or if you’re just his neutered pet.”

“Really?” Ren sounds amused. Hux feels hard, hot flesh through the fabric of Ren’s pants, rubbing against his bared ass. Ren is aroused already? That’s sort of funny: everything about this is. “You give yourself to me freely?” Ren asks, gripping an ass cheek. Hux shrugs, keeping his face down on the mattress.

“I’m curious,” he says. “You’re like a science experiment gone wrong. How does that sort of thing even fuck?”

“I’ll show you.”

Something zips through the air and Hux freezes, afraid it’s Ren’s lightsaber. A number of unsavory images flash through his head before he turns and sees that it’s a jar of lubricant that Ren has Force-grabbed from the bathroom. Hux swallows a laugh, his ass still raised for presentation. He’s actually not ashamed that he likes this, so if Ren is counting on humiliating him with his cock he’s going to be disappointed.

“How often do you get fucked, General?” Ren asks, dabbing his fingers into the lubricant.

“I don’t see what that’s got to do with anything.”

“So not often, then.”

That’s the first thing he’s said that manages to make Hux flush, but it’s too dark for Ren to see it, and Hux is turned away from him anyway, offering his ass on a purely transactional basis. It seems appropriate, actually: he’s surprised it hasn’t come to this before now. Sex is a violent little amusement between people who could mutually assure each other’s destruction, ideally, and no one else around here fits that role for Hux. There’s only Ren, with his stupid mask, his tendency to smash everything of value with impunity, and his ridiculously long fingers, two of which are already up Hux’s ass, searching for his prostate.

“Just fuck me,” Hux says, embarrassed when Ren finds what he’s looking for and Hux’s shoulders jerk with confirmation, pleasure shooting up his spine and doing whatever it wants with his body already. “I’m not a lock that needs picking. If your dick works, use it.”

“You’re not a lock,” Ren says, withdrawing his fingers. “That’s true.”

Ren slicks himself, bumps his cockhead gracelessly into position, and is suddenly, overwhelmingly pushing in, bigger than Hux wants to admit that he’d assumed, which was already big, based on the rest of him.

Relax, Ren says-- Thinks, Hux realizes, when he hears it like a touch, thrumming through his blood and making his ribs seem to melt against the mattress.

“Use your words,” Hux says, already losing his breath. “I invited you into my ass, not my head.”

“I was already in your head.”

“Yes, that’s one of the least-- unh. Least charming things about you. And it’s a long list.”

“And yet here you are,” Ren says, this tone almost sing-song. “Bending over for my dick.”

Ren has the unsettling ability to go from sounding like he’s on stage in a pompous Old Republic theatrical production to suddenly adopting the attitude of a teenage boy who thinks he’s clever. Hux opens his mouth against the bedsheets, drooling a little but refusing to make a sound. He never made a sound after that first time at the Academy. Even in pleasure, later. It’s impossibly embarrassing to cry out like an animal while getting fucked.

“No, see, you’re missing the point.” Ren is all in now, or anyway he has to be, unless his dick is two feet long; Hux is fairly confident that he’s never had even a foreign object this deep inside him. “You’re supposed to let go,” Ren says, leaning down to murmur this against Hux’s ear. “It doesn’t even count as getting fucked if you can’t let go.”

“I suppose you know all about being fucked.” Hux huffs out his breath, flexing back against Ren in pathetic little flinches, trying to adjust to this intrusion. It doesn’t hurt, quite, but it’s a lot to-- It’s a lot, not just the size of Ren’s dick but the way he hovers around Hux from behind like a tent, cloaking him.

“I’m rusty, it’s true,” Ren says, still speaking directly into Hux’s ear, his lips warm there. “I haven’t really done this since my training became my life. It’s interesting, fascinating. How completely I can feel you. Everything in you. It’s so easy, like this.”

Hux tenses up at that word: easy.

“Shhhh,” Ren says, petting Hux’s hair; he jerks away from the touch. Ren is laughing a little, low in his belly. Hux can feel it against the small of his back. “I didn’t mean it like that, General.”

“Fuck you.” Hux regrets his choice of words instantly, but it can’t be helped now. He’s sweating, twitching, growing impatient for something less intimate. “If you’re seeing everything in me, surely you can see that I don’t give half a damn what you think of me. Hurry up and move, unless you’re afraid you’re going to spurt like a virgin before you can even get started.”

“That’s something I’ve wondered about,” Ren says. He sighs and sits back, pushing Hux’s shirt up to expose more of his skin. “Now that I’ve learned to control the Force more powerfully, I wonder if that control extends to-- This.”

Hux snorts at the idea that Ren is a master of control. He’s almost gotten himself killed twice today because of his lack of it. At least twice, that is.

“Let’s see if you can go for hours,” Hux says, clenching around him. “I'd wager my arsehole that you can't.”

This finally sets Ren into the punishing pace that Hux wants from him. Ren grunts and pulls back, shoves in hard and then plows Hux relentlessly, breathing through his nose and holding him in place with one big hand that’s closed around his left hip, surely leaving a bruise. There’s nothing Hux can do about the fact that he bruises easily; it’s genetics. He holds his moans in for as long as he can, but something about this is different, too much, too good. His toes curl against the bedsheets, hands fisted overhead around a pillow, and at first he only grunts, angling himself so that Ren keeps hitting the right spot, but when he goes slack and realizes that he didn’t need to angle himself at all, that Ren knows precisely where and how to fuck him and exactly how good Hux feels when he does it like that, like that-- then Hux shouts, curses, moans and sputters. He at least manages not to say Ren’s name-- Not any of the three or four names he’d have to choose from if he dared. He comes in his own hand, not expecting Ren to give him any attention there, and he’s surprised when Ren falls onto him with a groan, finishing right after he has.

Hux collapses under Ren’s weight, newly exhausted. Ren is breathing heavily, his hands sliding up past Hux’s ears and then under the pillow that Hux nearly tore in half during the proceedings. Ren has Hux completely pinned to the bed, which is cause for concern, but Hux is really too tired and too glued in place by his own come to care much yet.

“You needed that,” Ren says after they’ve both regained their breath somewhat.

“The hell do you care what I need?” Hux realizes only when he hears himself speak how close he was to falling asleep underneath Ren’s suffocating weight, and with Ren’s ridiculous horse cock still up his ass. His voice feels heavy, sluggish. His eyelids, too. He has no idea what time it is.

Ren lifts off of him and hisses, drawing out slowly enough to make Hux want to count the impossible inches as they slide free. It’s a relief to have Ren’s weight gone, but when he drops onto the bed beside Hux he’s wincing and clutching at his hip. The bandages have gone red in one spot.

“You idiot,” Hux says, annoyed that he’s got to deal with this rather than sinking into a perfectly fucked-out sleep. “You’ve aggravated your wound.”

“It’s fine,” Ren says, shaking his mess of hair over his eyes.

“Like hell. I’ll have to call for the doctor.”

“No.” Ren shoots Hux a look that he feels between his ribs, an icy warning or a Force hold, or some damnable combination of both. “No doctor.”

“Why not? I’m hardly suggesting that I’ll still be lying here in a puddle of my own come by the time he arrives. Obviously we’d--”

“No. I don’t like that doctor.”

So Ren has reverted to his two-year-old state of mind. Fine, Hux thinks, let him bleed out like a stubborn toddler. That would spare Hux ever having to see him again after what just went on. It’s already hard to look at him, though Ren’s softening cock is more elegant than the rest of his gangly appendages, surprisingly. Hux hoists himself up and starts to get dressed, but putting on his uniform just seems ridiculous. He’s filthy.

“I’m going to use your shower,” he says. Ren is lying on his back, his arm tossed over his face as if he’s a heroine in a holodrama. “Try not to die before I return.”

Ren says nothing. Hux puts the light on the bathroom, checking the floor for shards of broken mirror, but it seems Ren has cleaned it up thoroughly, which is somewhat shocking. He’s not known for cleaning up his own messes. Hux puts on the water, adjusts the temperature and steps inside, immediately inspecting Ren’s toiletries. Predictably, they are not standard First Order issue but some kind of specialty brand, labeled in a language that Hux is not familiar with. He snaps open what he hopes is the soap, sniffs it and still can’t tell. He can’t think of what it smells like except ‘Ren,’ and the other bottles are the same.

He’s barely gotten started washing when Ren saunters into the bathroom and slips into the shower stall behind him, avoiding his eyes and reaching for one of the bottles. He’s taken off his bandages and exposed his half-healed wound to the water. Ren’s face remains impassive when he dumps some soap onto the wound and then lets the water wash it away. Hux is edged into the corner, awkwardly holding a bottle of some Ren-smelling potion.

“You really ought to let the doctor get rid of that,” Hux says when Ren finally looks at him, the gash on his face growing puffy in the steamy air from the shower. “The scar,” he clarifies when Ren just stares at him.

“Why?”

It seems like an earnest question. Hux has to look away.

“Which one goes in your hair?” he asks, scanning the little bottles that are lined up on the shower shelf. Ren picks one up and hands it to him, and only then does the extreme oddity of this situation begin to make Hux uncomfortable. What a day: destroy five planets, lose an important battle to a group of unwashed savages flying thirty-year-old technology, get fucked by Kylo the man-sized child, wash his come out of you with exotic bath products.

“What language is this, even?” Hux asks, increasingly angry about the fact that he’s standing here, looking up at Ren and that goddamn gash. “Where did you get this stuff?”

“Some space station.” Ren frowns down at the wound on his hip, which seems like it was only leaking at the edges, not actually reopened. “Why?”

“Because it’s absurd. You’re absurd! Do you even-- See yourself?”

“Does anyone really see himself?”

“Oh, fucking hell. Get out of here, okay? Can’t I at least rinse your come out of my ass in peace?”

Ren actually smiles: it’s real, he’s pleased. He’s a discomforting combination of handsome and homely, as if he’s been clumsily pieced together from two different people, and the cut that bisects his face enhances both qualities.

“Sometimes you actually surprise me.” Ren reaches for Hux’s neck and stops when Hux flinches away. “That’s rare,” Ren says. “That I can’t predict. Things, people’s reactions.”

“Well, I live to entertain. But I’m serious, will you get out? This is humiliating.”

Hux hadn’t intended to admit that, ever, to anyone, but Ren was looking at him so strangely, it just came out. Maybe Ren yanked it out of him against his will, using the Force. Anyway, Ren goes, tracking water everywhere.

When Hux gets out of the shower he hopes to find that Ren’s towels are special-ordered, extra large and fluffy, but they’re just the standard-issue grayish white, tattered and thin. Hux tries to be relieved about this, disturbed by how altered his expectations have become after the unsteady progress of today’s triumphs and failures. It all happened so fast: it really was just pressing a button. Ordering someone below his rank to press a button, actually. He’d told himself that he’d done well with that speech, made the whole thing more symbolic and important, but the truth is that he could have said anything. They still would have stood there, saluted, watched him watching the red beams separate and streak through the sky. Ren blames him for the traitor’s antics. Hux has never claimed that his program is perfect, but they’ve had better results with what they call recruits than the previous generation had with clones. Hux’s father had been vehemently opposed to the clone army. Why clone an army from a proto-man who couldn’t shoot worth a damn? The clone army was essentially a human shield, no different than the armed droids. Hux’s army is a success by comparison, ruthless soldiers who are able to think for themselves in a battle situation while they suppress their individuality in all other arenas of their lives. Typically, anyway. His commanders usually execute suspected traitors before they’re able to come anywhere near a TIE fighter, let alone a hostage who can pilot it.

“Was that traitor with the girl when she left you?” Hux asks when he returns to the room, wrapped in a towel. He leaves off the rest of that question, though he supposes Ren will hear it anyway: when she left you for dead, bested by a mere scavenger?

“She’s no mere scavenger,” Ren mumbles. He’s in bed, the blankets pulled up to his chest. “Come here.”

“There? Why? Answer my question.”

“The traitor was there, yes. FN-2187. You’ll go after him, that makes sense. The girl is my own unfinished business. Get over here.” Ren turns to look at Hux. The lights are still at four percent, but in the glow through the open bathroom door Ren looks different, more like a person and less like a shadow. “I’ll fix your neck.”

“It’s--” Hux touches it and flinches. In all the excitement he failed to notice how swollen it’s become, and surely the bruises are darkening by now. He’s glad not to have a mirror to see them, or any other part of himself, considering what he’s allowed himself to do here tonight. “You can fix it?” he says, lingering in the doorway. “How?”

“Get over here and I’ll show you.”

Hux fears this is a trick, though everything up to now indicates that Ren doesn’t want to hurt him so much as toy with him, or possibly that Ren doesn’t know what he’s doing at all and is flinging his random moods at whichever solid objects are in range, as usual. Hux approaches the bed, because it’s worth a try. He doesn’t want anyone seeing these bruises and making assumptions. He’s not even sure what assumptions he should make himself, at this point.

“Lie down,” Ren says when Hux kneels on the bed. Hux already can’t believe they had sex here. He can’t believe he had sex at all; it’s actually been a few years since he’s even stuck his dick in somebody, never mind the other way around. He’s had a lot on his mind. He’ll be sore in the morning, unless Ren uses the Force to heal his ass, too. Possibly it’s already morning.

“I should check my comm,” Hux says, stretching out beside Ren in a tense flat-backed position, his pulse picking up when Ren puts a hand on his throat.

“You’d hear it from here if they needed you,” Ren says. “Anyway, they don’t.”

“You can tell when I’m needed now?”

Ren smirks, keeping his eyes on Hux’s bruised skin, where a strange, chilly but not unpleasant feeling has begun to emanate outward, as if it’s something inside Hux that’s being drawn to the surface. It’s a tingling that only seems to simulate temperature, like the cream that Hux’s childhood nursemaid rubbed on back when his propensity toward tension got the better of him and his shoulders ached from a bad night of teeth-gritted sleep. He’d loved that nurse, maybe. She had defended him when his brother called him runt. This was prior to Hux’s growth spurt, of course. He finally grew taller that first year at the Academy, and the nursemaid was gone when he returned home during the summer term, never spoken of again. He feels like he’s telling all of this to Ren while his neck seems to glow with relief, twinges of pain mixed in here and there.

“You have a brother?” Ren says.

“He’s dead.”

“Oh.”

“I didn’t kill him.”

“I-- Didn’t assume you had.”

Brendol Jr. died in battle, heroically. Hux didn’t make much of a pretense of mourning him. Brendol was meaner than their father but never very smart, and with him gone Hux became the sole heir.

“I never had a brother,” Ren says.

“How fascinating,” Hux mutters, his ability to think straight deteriorating as waves of soothing energy wash over him, spreading down past his bruised neck, along his shoulders, and upward toward his temples.

“It’s the Dark Side that makes this possible,” Ren says. “You can’t heal with the Light, not really. Not physical injuries. There’s no real power there, only cowardice masquerading as such. It’s temporary, easily defeated by the Dark when it persists. The Light thrives on beginner’s luck. It’s all downhill from there. Ask Luke Skywalker.”

“Enough.” Hux shrugs Ren’s hand away, beginning to feel overwhelmed by the power that’s surging from him. It grew colder as he railed against the Light side, and when Hux rolls away he’s shivering. He touches his neck, expecting to find icicles forming under his jaw, but the heat of his own hand warms his skin quickly, and the swelling seems to be gone. “Thank you,” he says, cutting his eyes to Ren’s. He raises his lip when he realizes he just thanked the person who inflicted the wound in the first place. “You should redo your bandage.”

“No need.” Ren rolls toward the bathroom. “Lights, zero percent.” The bathroom goes dark, and the bedchamber, too. There’s only a faint glow from the door that’s open to the main room, where the lights are low and bluish.

Hux thinks about getting up and dressing. He should check his comm. Ren should re-wrap his wound. There should be a protocol of some sort. But Hux stays slumped there in the darkness, naked and aware that Ren is not asleep. So comes the end of the day Hux gave the order to kill billions of people, to annihilate five atmospheres, extinguish thousands of species. It didn’t really go the way he thought it would, but nobody seems to be blaming him yet. Anyway, it wasn’t his idea. Not entirely. He doesn’t even know who Snoke is, really. Soon Ren will be in Snoke’s possession, having the last of his humanity stripped away. Lucky, to have someone who is willing to do that for him. Though Hux supposes he had that, once. Not enjoyable but perhaps necessary. In two days Ren will leave this ship and begin that journey. And Hux will be elsewhere, possibly for years, awaiting orders, inventing plan B, alone among his inferiors. Good.

He dreams that he’s in the path of a beam of red light, being made and unmade by it, watching himself disappear and reform, eternally created and destroyed by an indifferent, enveloping inertia that doesn’t even know he’s there. This kind of power would only laugh at him if he could even get its attention, so he stays silent within it, resigned, never quite existing or evaporating, always on his way toward one or the other.

 

**