Hux stalks down the hall, his boots echoing at a brisk, clipped pace. It would be unseemly for a high ranking officer to be seen running in a panic, no matter how close to the breaking point he teeters.
It's been one crisis after another this week, each nimbly avoided due to a combination of his capabilities and sheer bloody-mindedness. With the completion of Starkiller Base looming ever closer, Hux can't afford to have even a single piece of his carefully orchestrated plan fall out of place.
And then he has to deal with this: a petulant child who insists on knocking over the whole board, never mind the damn pieces, swinging his little light-up sword all over the place like a phallic, neon sign for his daddy issues. After it was apparent that these temper tantrums were starting to affect the First Order's bottom line, mainly their equipment budget, Hux had put out a ship-wide alert that he be notified immediately the next time it happens. He put out the order this morning.
Hux rounded the corner only to nearly walk into a pair of Troopers backing up. They snap to attention with dual echoes of "General, sir!"
"What's the situation here?" Although Hux doesn't know why he bothers asking, what with the sparks flying out of the room just past their shoulders.
The Troopers dart guilty looks at each other, evident even through their helmets. How best to describe the absolute pissyfit being thrown by a supposedly adult man?
Hux sighs. "Nevermind, just follow me." He pushes past them to confront the problem head on.
The Problem is currently slashing his way through another communications console, painting the machine in broad strokes of melted metal.
"Lord Ren," When he is ignored, Hux clears his throat. "Lord Ren!"
There is a pause, nothing but the sound of sizzling metal. First Order funds literally evaporating into thin air. Ren turns his head, the mask staring blankly in the general direction of Hux and the two Troopers.
Hux steps further into the room. "Lord Ren, if I may advi--"
Ren slams his lightsaber down into the console with renewed vigor, as if Hux hasn't spoken at all. Looking back on it, Hux isn't sure what to quantify as the final straw. Is it his most recent meeting with the Supreme Leader that ended in disappointment and vague threats? Is it the hundred messages waiting for him on his console, over half of which wouldn't need to involve him if anyone else on this ship had even a modicum of competence? Or is the reason right in front of him, this infuriating, melodramatic, useless, son of a bantha--
"Ren, stop this!" Hux lunges forward and grabs the arm that isn't currently swinging a highly dangerous weapon. The mask snaps up at the moment of contact and Hux suddenly finds himself pinned to the console by his neck, Ren's hand --ungloved, for once-- choking the life out of him. An aborted movement out of the corner of his eye and Ren raises his other hand, still clutching the lightsaber, and the two Troopers are flung out into the hall with a clang .
The mask peers over him and this close, Hux can hear Ren's labored breathing. Even while pawing ineffectively against the hand around his neck, Hux refuses to show fear. So this is how he goes down, murdered by a tantrum-throwing bucket. Fine, so be it.
Perhaps some of his defiance bleeds through, because after another excruciating minute he is released. He gasps for air, sprawled inelegantly across the console, still trapped there by the madman who refuses to back away. He aims a heated glare at the eye-slits, the effect mostly ruined by his heaving chest. "Are you...quite done?"
The mask tilts in an almost inquisitive manner. In the hall, pounding boots and exclamations could be heard. Not wanting an audience for this frankly unprofessional display, Hux tries to shift up. Ren stands there like the dumb roadblock he is.
"Could you kriffing move ?" And Hux places a hand on Ren's chest and pushes, ill-advised in retrospect, but is met with surprisingly little resistance. He is on his feet, uniform smoothed down to some semblance of normalcy, when Phasma and additional Troopers burst in.
Phasma looks between Hux and Ren, and then did a general sweep of the destroyed room. "Everything alright, General?" After a second's pause. "Lord Ren?"
Ren does an impression of a stoic coat rack.
Hux pinches his lips together. "Yes, Captain." He clears his throat with some difficulty. "Carry on. And send a cleanup crew. Please."
Phasma gives them a last lingering look before nodding sharply.
When their footsteps have faded down the hall, Hux whirls around to face Ren. Even straightening to his full height, Hux still gets the distinct impression of being looked down upon. "Listen, Lord Ren. Are you listening?"
After a beat, Ren gives a tight jerk of his helmet.
"Good. Because I'm only going to say this once,” Hux crowds into the other man’s space, which unfortunately only accentuated Ren’s slight height advantage. “Cease your...displays, and we can keep today's event between us. I'm not looking forward to filing an incident report involving two high ranking officers, certainly not at a crucial time like this. Understood?"
Ren stares for a moment before nodding again.
"Alright then." Hux gives a tight nod of his own before turning on his heel and exiting the room with as much dignity as he can muster. Which is quite a lot. "Pleasant as always, Lord Ren."
For the rest of the day, Hux couldn't shake the feeling of a phantom hand curling around his throat.
One standard year. It has been one standard year since that walking pile of scrap metal blew into the First Order like he owned the place. And he's been causing trouble for Hux ever since. Hux remembers the whole choking incident like it was yesterday.
Because it was.
"The nerve of that bastard," Hux is pacing a line of fury into the floor of his quarters. "What kind of spice is he on?"
"I believe it's called the Force," Phasma answers from the couch, her trademark helmet and body armor discarded on the small dining table. "I can't believe you didn't file a report."
"Why?" Hux stops his pacing to frown at her. "Do you think I should've?"
Phasma shrugs. "Don't know, just seems so unlike you."
Hux runs a hand through his hair before compulsively smoothing it back into place. "Maybe I just wanted to preserve some order. Wouldn't do good for morale if the upper echelons are at each other's throats. Literally."
"Hm," Phasma takes a sip of her drink. It smelled strong. "Maybe."
"Or maybe I don't need another thing on my plate when you know, I'm sort of single-handedly building the largest, most impressive weapon this galaxy has ever seen."
"Or maybe," Hux exclaims. "Maybe it's because I know nothing will come of it anyway, because everyone just lets him do anything he wants!"
"Mm, office politics. The worst."
Hux collapses on the couch next to Phasma, who wordlessly hands him her drink. He takes a swig and immediately regrets it.
"Don't you dare spit that out," she warns. "That's good Axxilan lum."
Hux forces it down and hands the glass back to her. "Don't know how you drink that swill."
"Practice," her head lolls against the back of the couch, coming to rest facing him. "Also, I think it kills taste buds over time."
He scrubs a hand over his face and feels defeated.
Perhaps taking pity, because it can't be sympathy, Phasma half-heartedly pats his knee. "There, there. Look on the bright side."
He glares at her.
"No, really. Look," she knocks back her drink, as if she needed the strength to carry on this conversation. "The Base is coming along, right?" When he's quiet, she nudges his knee with hers. "Right?"
Hux grudgingly nods.
"And you figured out how to send all of Lieutenant-General Addor's incoming messages directly to trash."
"That was a hard one. He kept creating new addresses to send from."
"And honestly, Ren is just pulling your pigtails. I'm sure he'll get bored of it eventually."
"Pulling my pigtails?"
"Sure. We all think so anyway."
"If you're just going to repeat everything I say, I'm leaving."
"No, I just-- I can't comprehend--"
"Listen," she sits up, all the languid relaxation abruptly gone from her frame. She turns him towards her with both hands on his shoulders. "Stop giving him a reaction and he'll leave you alone."
"You think that's it?"
"I'm sure of it," she releases him and stands up to leave. "Now I have to go." She starts pulling on her armor. "Running a pack of your newbies through simulations today."
Hux eyes the empty glass on the floor. "That lum probably wasn't such a good idea."
"You kidding me? That's why I had it. Only thing keeping me from throttling those Troopers myself." She slips her helmet on, once again the imposing figure of Captain Phasma. "They're a better shot than the clones though, I'll give them that." With a salute, she exits his quarters.
Hux settles back against the cushions. Pigtails, huh?
In retrospect, Hux should've known better than to take relationship advice from Phasma.