“Too cold,” Ren says.
“Really?” Hux asks, eyebrow arching, “I wouldn’t have guessed.”
“That it’s too cold? It’s snowing.”
“No,” Hux, like Ren, has his eyes fixed on the empty plateau spreading out before them, squinting against the brightness, “I wouldn’t have guessed you cared about the temperature. Or even felt it.”
“I feel it,” Ren says, huddling in his ragged robes, “And what I feel is a fucking chill.”
“Oh?” Hux’s lips twitch, “A bit chilly for you?”
Ren glowers at the general, until the wind catches his hood, blowing it back. Hux can’t help but laugh at him. He doesn't even try to fight it, drunk on the certainty that this is the place—this lonely white planet where they stand will soon be host to the might of the First Order.
“You have a strange sense of humor,” Ren says, spitting out a curling black tendril of hair. He yanks his hood back up with more force than necessary, as if to prove a point to the climate, “Don’t pretend you aren’t cold, too. You’re freezing.”
“I like it,” Hux says, just to disagree, “It’s bracing.”
“I want to go back to the shuttle,” Ren says, but he doesn’t move from Hux’s side except to turn his back to the wind, “Want my mask,” he mutters.
“I like it,” Hux says again, enjoying himself more with Ren suffering beside him. Schadenfreude, he supposes, “It’s harsh. It’s unforgiving. It’s the color of a storm trooper’s armor—”
Ren snorts, bouncing on his toes to keep warm.
“So they’ll be easily disguised,” Hux finishes, trying not to sound defensive, “It’s powerful and brutal and—”
“And you can hide how small you really are,” Ren says, smirking, “Under a big coat.”
Hux opens his mouth. Shuts it again. Sticks his hands in the pockets of his greatcoat and turns his face away. He’s surprised to find that he’s hurt. Surprised at Ren’s cruelty, snatching this truth from so deep inside him without provocation. Surprised at his own surprise—he shouldn’t forget so easily that Ren is a wraith, sent from Hell to punish Hux for (and Hux is guessing, here) the decadence of his youth.
Still, Hux scolds him, “That’s no way to preserve our fragile rela—” he stops himself. No, not relationship. Not partnership. Not friendship, either, though Ren rushed out into the cold without his mask when Hux said he was leaving the shuttle to conduct some reconnaissance of his own, “—our fragile co-commandership,” he finishes, frowning at himself. Pathetic.
Ren laughs, breath puffing like a dragon’s, “You are, though. Small.”
“As tall as you are,” Hux says, petulant.
“Almost,” Ren says, “But you've got fine bones." He savors the words, fine bones, like he'd like to pick the meat from them. Hux tries not to shiver, visibly, but Ren must know either way, "You're just a little bird, up in a tree, singing the same song every day." Ren sings this, arrhythmic, with an eerie, lilting voice.
Hux glares—he's not a fucking bird—only to find Ren watching him through narrowed eyes, hood blown back, forgotten. His dark hair dances wild around his face, “Bet if I wrapped my hands around your waist my fingertips would touch.”
Hux rolls his eyes, looks away from Ren, looks back, regrets it.
“Bet I could pick you up and hold you,” Ren says, still staring, “Not let you down, even if you struggled.” Ren's eyes shine too dark in the whiteness. Hux worries vaguely that he's being hypnotized.
"What are you doing?” he asks, blinking away the snowflakes stuck in his eyelashes.
Ren shrugs, “Keeping warm,” but he doesn’t stop eating Hux up with his stare.
“Stop it,” Hux snaps.
“Stop keeping warm?” Ren teases. Hux doesn’t take the bait. Ren doesn’t seem to notice, “Oh, you mean stop threatening the status quo. Our fragile…” Ren draws the phrase out, extending Hux’s misery, “Co-commandership. Why, General? Afraid you might feel something other than your precious, lifeless cold?”
Hux sighs, “Are you about to have one of your outbursts?"
Ren blinks back at him, slowly, with defiant indifference.
"Well?" Hux asks, "Should we rush you to the nearest control panel or would you settle for snapping my comlink in half?"
Ren bites his bottom lip like he's trying to stop himself from speaking. Heaven forbid.
"What?" Hux asks.
“Bet you'd like a cock up your ass,” he says.
“Don’t be vulgar,” Hux looks to the sky, an appeal for help. It doesn't come.
“Bet you'd moan for it like a whore,” Ren says, enjoying himself. Schadenfreude, Hux supposes.
“Bet you'd just lie there,” Hux sneers, “Like a princess.”
“Prince,” Ren says.
“Of what? The asteroid field where Alderaan used to be?”
“Of the dark side,” Ren says, imperious, face turning red to match Hux’s, then, “And I wouldn’t just lie there,” lifting his chin.
“Doubtful,” Hux says. Then laughs.
Ren and Hux both jump at the crackle of the comlink, which Hux pulls from his pocket.
“General, all teams reporting back.”
“On our way,” Hux says, tucking the comlink away. He sweeps his arm, extravagant, “Your highness,” he says, bowing his head. Which is why he's caught off guard when Ren pushes him into the snow.
It bites the nape of his neck, stings the back of his ears, but the shame hurts worse. Hux knows better than to play with Ren. It’s undignified. Below him in every way. His father would have another heart attack if he saw Hux now, pinned like easy prey beneath Ren.
“Get off me,” Hux says, putting up brief, doomed fight.
Ren weighs ten tons, and he waits until Hux gives up on his own before he says, "No,” then he dips his face closer, until they’re nose to nose, unsteady breaths clouding between them.
Hux reminds himself, as his eyes flit helplessly over lips, moles, eyes, cold-pinked cheeks, that Ren is an evil spirit—meant to distract and confuse him, to lead him astray. Ren is a hardship to overcome. A test of his mettle. Ren’s eyes are nearly closed, long lashes lowered. He opens his mouth and Hux tries, very hard, not to tip his chin up to bring their lips together. He'd like to be kissed, he thinks, by that mouth. And, at the same thinks, no, no, no, fool.
“Come to my quarters,” Ren whispers, not kissing, but nuzzling his cold nose against Hux’s, “Tonight. I’ll make you forget all the stupid rules you hide in. I’ll strip them off you, one by one.”
"That's what I'm afraid of," Hux says, amazed to hear himself say it.
"Think about it," Ren says, "Imagine it."
But there's nothing more to think about—Hux has thought it through—and he refuses to imagine it: Ren might see. Instead, he pretends, letting the silence stretch out, Ren pulling away just enough to watch him, then says, "I think..." And swallows. Ren's already frowning, has read his mind, "I think," Hux says again, voice quiet to match the frozen world, “that I’d rather sleep in a tauntaun. I’m sure it would smell better than your awful breath.”
“You’re testing my good mood,” Ren sits back. A storm cloud descends between his brows, fast.
"Oh, is that what we're calling your mania, now?" Hux asks, trying to sit up himself.
Ren's reply is to stuff a handful of snow down the neck of Hux’s coat.
“You fuck,” Hux throws him off, scrambling to his feet and kicking Ren in the ribs where he lays on his back, laughing. Ren hardly reacts, and when Hux draws back to kick him again, Ren catches his foot, sweeping Hux to the ground. Before he can get his breath back, Ren traps his arms by kneeling on top of them, his full weight dropping on Hux’s chest. Pinned again.
“I should make you suck my dick, right here. It’s what you deserve.”
“I’ll bite it,” Hux snarls, squirming uselessly.
“Not if you saw it,” Ren taunts, ominously gathering snow in a gloved hand, “You’d fall in l—”
“Sirs?” The comlink crackles in Hux’s pocket, “The thermal scanner’s picked up a life form moving toward—” Which is all Hux hears. It happens so fast it seems to go backwards: first the soft thud of the halves of the creature into the snow on either side of Hux's head, then the sight of it splitting in half above him, as if sawed open by the distance disc of the sun just visible through the lessening snowfall, then the arc of Ren’s saber, the buzz of its ignition, Ren’s impossible weight lifting off Hux’s chest, a roar.
But no: a roar, Ren standing, feet planted on either side of Hux’s hips, protective, Ren’s saber catching the creature mid-pounce, cleaving it in half, the weak sun barely shining high above, two lumps of matted fur and burnt flesh falling into the snow on either side of Hux’s head with hardly a sound.
Hux blinks. Ren powers his saber off. He releases a long, calming breath, through his nose. Hux tries to breathe, too. When Ren turns to face Hux, a black tendril of hair is caught in his mouth. He spits it out with a huff, shaking his head to resettle his curls. Hux thinks, hating himself, of the angels of Iego—how their beauty shifts to suit the one looking. Hux saw one, once, years ago. He wishes he hadn’t, now.
“Where were we?” Ren asks, dropping heavily back onto Hux’s chest, re-pinning him. Not what was it—Ren doesn't care. And why would he? Hux can't picture a creature worse than the one who's caught him—one faster, crueler, with sharper claws. Ren sets about gathering a fresh handful of snow, “What was I saying? Remind me.”
“Love,” Hux says, voice far away, too weak. He tries to clear his throat, but it’s hard with Ren’s weight bearing down on his lungs, “You were,” he tries again, “saying I’d fall in love.”
“Yes,” Ren says, and shoves more snow down Hux’s coat, “That.”