Kylo Ren is a literal disaster.
The man is petulant and childish and prone to fits of anger that make him nigh impossible to work with. Although he has never personally assaulted Hux, he has assaulted countless numbers of his men in one way or another, from actual physical attacks to verbal abuse, scare tactics and outright mind control.
Were it not for the fact that they had no say in the matter, Hux is certain that at least half of his men would have requested to be sent as far away from Ren as physically possible. Certainly, he personally could absolutely understand the sentiment. Half of the time, he himself would like to be transferred as far from Ren, but along with fewer personal hours and far more responsibility, dealing with Ren was one of the pitfalls of being General. It was not often that he felt sympathy towards anyone, particularly those beneath him, but hearing the tales of deeply shaken stormtroopers never failed to pull a grimace of commiseration from him. At least, he reasoned, it was weeding out the weak: those who managed to survive around Ren were sure to be stronger for it. And if they could face one of Ren’s tantrums without fear, then Hux was damn sure they could face anything.
Before now, it has been manageable. The damage has been little, and Ren’s tantrums have been few and far between, but since the loss of Starkiller Base and whatever happened between Ren storming off in search of the girl and Hux pulling his unconscious form from the collapsing planet, the Force Adept has been moody at best and downright homicidal at worse. His outbursts have come at a near-weekly basis, and most of their troops have learned to outright avoid Ren altogether, or risk being the subject of his ire.
To make matters worse, they are now in a period of recovery, and are two steps back in their goal to eradicate the remaining Jedi from the galaxy than they were to begin with. Even Hux himself would admit in the privacy of his own mind to being truly dismayed by the loss of Starkiller. The main Republican hub on Hosnia Prime is gone, but with it, they have cast their hand and now have no means of defense. It’s a perilous position to be in, but all Hux can do is plan and hope that the Republic and their Resistance are reeling as much from their wounds as the First Order is.
He is not so much concerned for Ren as concerned for the rest of them in the light of Ren’s recent increasing instability. It strikes a personal chord of contempt within him when the result of Ren’s more frequent outbursts are the complete demoralization of his men, ranging from avoidance to outright terror. This means one thing.
Hux, being possibly the only one on the Finalizer who is not at all afraid of Kylo Ren (aside from perhaps Phasma, but he respects her too much to ask her to handle Ren,) is the one who has to bring the man to heel before he destroys them completely quite without meaning to.
The situation reaches breaking point while Hux is asleep. He finds himself woken by the blaring of an alarm on one of his datapads, and is bitterly tempted to simply ignore it and roll over, but with the loss of their key asset (and he would state to his grave that Ren was in no way their key asset, particularly since that would aggravate the man to no end,) Hux simply can not continue finding money to keep replacing equipment that Ren destroys simply because the man refuses to control himself. No, as much as he hates it, this is something he needs to deal with.
As he arrives, he can hear Ren’s inarticulate howl of rage amidst the sounds of the man’s lightsaber and metal and glass breaking from down the hall. It quiets when he approaches, only in time for Ren to storm past him in a flurry of robes and anger, bumping past Hux’s shoulder. He cannot muster the will to go after him in this state, so he simply passes into the room to..
Nothing. There is nothing left. Everything is gone, smouldering away or in pieces, cheerfully sparking away onto the floor.
This will not do.
“Supreme Leader, it has come to my attention that despite best efforts of all involved, Ren’s temperament grows more unstable by the day,” Hux begins, gazing upwards at the holofigure of Snoke. It is, quite frankly, unreasonably large. Not that he himself would be immune to fits of grandeur were he the one in absolute power, but there is something about the looming holofig that strikes something instinctive inside of him. He feels like a child before the man, and not simply because Snoke is quite obviously his senior. There is something about being forced to look up even beyond the normal range of human height that makes him feel twelve years old again, gazing up at his father’s stern expression and trying desperately to justify his actions to a man whom he respected above all others.
Hux himself is not a short man, but before the great shadow-cast image of Supreme Leader Snoke, he feels almost insignificantly small. And he detests it more than anything else. He has no camaraderie with Kylo Ren, but there at least when the knight is beside him they are unified both in either blame or victory.
Snoke says nothing, and met with that frankly imposing degree of silence, Hux forges on.
“With the destruction of Starkiller base, the mounting repair and replacement costs of Ren’s fits of pique ,” The sneer he feels, contemptuous and angry, is only barely contained, but he is sure that Snoke already knows how he resents being saddled with a man he considers to be little more than a child in emotional capacity, “are becoming untenable. Supreme Leader, he lacks discipline entirely. He is a child , lashing out when he--”
“Silence,” Snoke interjects, calm and cold and seemingly infinite as always. Hux tries not to balk at being interrupted, tries not to let his mind do the instinctive thing of wondering if has somehow misstepped, if he has somehow made a mistake in complaining about the Supreme Leader’s apprentice. It never fails to form an anxious knot in the pit of his stomach. He has never done well with being reprimanded, always feeling bile at the back of his throat when he knows that he is in the wrong.. “Kylo Ren was placed with you, General, precisely for that reason. I had thought that perhaps in the sphere of your influence, he might learn some control. It seems I was wrong.”
It sounds like an admission, but Hux knows it better for the accusation it is. Ren has been sent to him, an unruly dog of a man, with the idea that he might learn some of Hux’s borderline obsessive control by osmosis. The fact that this has not occurred is wholly Hux’s fault. The prickle of shame he feels at the nape of his neck turns his stomach in sequence, his mouth pressing into a thin line. He burns with it, and swallows his anger.
“I see,” His voice is more clipped than he has any right to be. Of course the Supreme Leader has plans and designs that are beyond his scope, but it galls him to be kept out of the loop, particularly when apparently it was expected that he actually
something about Ren’s tantrums. Without the power to specifically punish the man, he is quite at a loss for how to proceed.
“With all due respect, Supreme Leader, I do not possess the ability to read minds,” Hux is aware that he is bordering impertinent. He has never born his own failures well, particularly those he deems to be unfair. “But now that I am aware that you wish for me to temper Ren’s outbursts, I shall endeavor to do so.”
As he is not immediately vaporized, Hux assumes that there is some degree of amusement in the Supreme Leader’s tone when he speaks.
“See to it that you do,” Snoke says, but it’s Hux’s mind that supplies the magnanimously . He is somewhat relieved that despite letting his frustration get the better of him, the Supreme Leader is understanding. “That will be all, General.”
He leaves the chamber with only few more answers than he entered, though, he supposes, this is not unusual.
Ren presents an imposing figure stood impassively in the centre of Hux’s office, all six-something feet of him garbed in black. He has not forgone the helmet, but its cover does not unsettle Hux the way it once did. He knows Ren now, and knows that despite his tantrums, he would not risk the Supreme Leader’s ire by killing Hux of all people. The knowledge that for now he is just as untouchable as Ren himself is fortifies him. It may have made him smile, but now was not the time nor the place for it.
Hux steeples his fingers and observes Ren for a few seconds longer.
“You are aware, I’m certain, of why I’ve requested your presence, Lord Ren. ” The title is something of a joke to him. Ren is no more a lord than he is the monster he tries to present himself as. Nevertheless, he clearly bristles, because Hux is suddenly aware of a faint static charge in the air. A lesser man might be cowed by it, but Hux is fairly certain he’s seen the bulk of Ren’s parlor tricks.
“The rising cost of your quite frankly staggering incompetence with regards to your control of your own emotions is completely unacceptable.” Hux likes being on the other side of an issue. He far prefers the gravity that a good desk provides, far prefers the ball to be in his court, so to speak. Ren is angry, even without his face Hux can tell. He straightens, and tries to make himself even larger, but it is by now largely ineffective.
“And so, as if I do not already have enough work to do, the Supreme Leader has tasked me with instilling some measure of discipline within you. I consider him extremely generous for not simply executing you, as at present, you are nothing to the First Order but a liability.”
“No.” Ren says, as if he has a choice, “I will not be the subject of your whim, nor your ridicule. If your men are incompetent enough to earn my rightful ire, then you ought to be tasked with better training them. ”
Hux imagines he can hear the petulance in Ren’s tone already, but believes that he sincerely thinks that those around him are to blame, not he. This childish view is not one that the General is willing to humor, but further needling Ren will do him no good in the long run, however pleasurable it may be. If Ren becomes defensive, he will not be at all receptive to the help he clearly so desperately needs. If Hux cannot help him, then the Supreme Leader will find someone else to do the job of training his errant pet, quite possibly at the cost of Hux’s head. It is not a prospect he finds particularly inviting.
He sighs, and deflates only minutely, making himself smaller for the sake of Ren’s ego. Put him at ease. Hux hates that he cannot simply intimidate his way around the issue, and hates even more that he does not simply have the power to force Ren into obedience, but perhaps that is for the best. If he has to force the man, his plans may take far longer to bear fruit.
“You are a slave to your emotions, Ren. While you cannot control them, you will never be free of their yoke,” He says, and Ren only bristles further, but he shifts, uncomfortable, and Hux knows that he’s won.
“The Supreme Leader wishes for me to teach you in some capacity to switch off. You are of little use to anyone in your present state. I can do that, but you must be willing.”
Hux cannot tell what is going on behind the mask, but whatever it is, it unravels all of his careful words and calculated vulnerability.
“ No. ” Ren seethes, and turns on heel, stalking out of the room. Hux was not aware that it was possible to slam automatic doors, and yet, somehow Ren manages it.
Hux is reading over a report on his datapad when Ren storms in, thoroughly unannounced. He’s not pleased, partially because it’s fucking rude and he hates that more than anything, but also because of all the people Hux did not particularly want to know that he has anything less than perfect vision is Kylo Ren.
Nevertheless, it’s useless being embarrassed about it, so he looks at Ren over the rim of his spectacles, exceptionally unimpressed, but saying nothing. He would have thought that most sane people would see this as an invitation to speak, but not Ren. The man stands there and, shifting his weight, looks for all the world like an insect pinned to a board. It pleases him, and he remains silent to prolong the man’s discomfort.
“Fine,” Ren grits out eventually, and it speaks volumes that Hux can hear the sound spoken through his teeth even when altered by the helmet’s ridiculous modulator.
“Excuse me?” Hux arches a slender brow, sitting back in his chair. He knows exactly what Ren is talking about, of course he does.
“ Fine.” The Force-Adept repeats, a little more forcefully. “I will accept your.. guidance.” Hux can hear the grimace with something that is getting dangerously close to glee. He does not grin, but it’s a close thing.
He stands, rounding the desk, discarding his reading glasses as he does, and perches on the edge of the table, legs crossed at the ankle. Watching.
“In agreeing to my assistance, within this room or any other I deem appropriate for your training you will submit to me completely. You will do as you are told. If I deem it necessary that you are punished, you will be punished. If you are deserving of reward, I may reward you. You will obey my orders without question. Do I make myself clear?”
Hux did not believe it were possible for Ren to look any more irritated, at least, not without removing the mask, but there is something in the air that radiates his resentment as he stands there in stony silence.
“...Fine.” He repeats, as though it were the only thing he could bring himself to say without launching into a tirade.
“You will refer to me as General, if that is too much for you, ‘sir’ will suffice.” He was enjoying this far too much.
Hux clicks his tongue disapprovingly against the roof of his mouth, and the air grows heavier still. He fully expects Ren to snap, to strike out or attack or at least to storm out of those doors again and take his oppressive cloud with him, but he’s more than sure that by now, the challenge has been set. If Ren were to leave, it would mean handing Hux the knowledge that he has proposed more than the Force-Adept is willing or able to shoulder.
“Yes, General.” Ren spits, dripping venom. He’s drawing up now, but less like a snake and more like an angry bird, puffing itself out to make it appear larger. It’s the words he wanted to here, but the tone rankles him, leaving him unimpressed again, brows drawing down to show it on his face. That would have to change, but for now, Hux allows it to slide. Progress is that Ren is willing to obey at all, and the General is certain that he will learn in time.
“Good,” He praises without truly praising, his own words clipped and curt as he bobs his head, satisfied. “You may kneel.”
Hux stands with deliberate ease, moving around his desk once more and returning to his seat. He sits, without looking at Ren, replacing his spectacles on his nose once more. Only then does he look at Ren, who is still stood in the centre of the room. He contains the sigh, but allows the stab of irritation to fortify him.
“If you have an objection, you may leave. Do not bother returning,” He advises, allowing an edge of danger to seep into the command that he knows will go unheeded, but resolves to be satisfied so long as Ren understands that he is true in his assertion. Ren is free to leave, but Hux will not chase him and will not push the matter further.
It is not lost on him that he may be shooting himself in the face, but if Ren leaves, Hux will simply have to find some other way of pacifying him. A frontal lobotomy sounds like bliss about now.
“You said I ‘may’ kneel, General. I have chosen not to.” It’s damn petty, and Ren has the audacity to sound pleased with himself for being so clever. Hux wants to slap him, but he has to admit to himself that it is a little amusing. Very clever. He’ll take it out on the man later, and does not grace him with a smile, but rather a flat, wholly unamused expression. Fifteen seconds pass in stony silence, with Ren still standing there and Hux can practically taste the smirk in the air.
“ Kneel , Ren.” He barks, a tone he’s never actually used on the Force user himself, but has surely been heard inflicted on the crew around him. Another second passes before Ren moves, and Hux is surprised by how gratified he feels that the man slowly drops to his knees, sitting on his heels. He folds his hands in his lap, and Hux is content to leave him there. He had barged in on Hux at work, after all.
He ignores Ren for two and a half hours, only becoming aware of him every so often when the man shifts his weight, clearly growing uncomfortable with the chill of the metal floor seeping through his clothing. Head bowed, Hux can almost imagine that he’s fallen asleep. Tired, he folds his glasses on the table and grinds the heel of his palm into one of his eyesockets.
“Good,” He praises again, leaning back in his chair. He cannot deny that Ren looks far better knelt patiently than he does throwing things and screaming. Perfectly orderly, he might even be mistaken for some statue decorating the roomy centre of Hux’s office. “You may leave. I will call for you if I desire your presence. If you feel disquieted before then, you may seek me out.” He instructs, and Ren shrugs his shoulders. It irks him, but Hux does not point it out.
“Fine,” He says again, and it is clear that kneeling for two and a half hours has done less for Ren than it has done for Hux, but he has no chance to reprimand the man before he turns on heel and sweeps out of the room.
Hux marvels at the amount of paperwork he has completed, and his general feeling of calm.
This may just work.