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Off Kilter

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Phasma effectively disabled the silence surrounding them with the single word. It was only the years of working along side Phasma and her clipped way of speaking that allowed Hux to recognize the word as a question. Not that the statment made any more sense with the inflection.

“What?” He asked, his voice just short of aggravated as he rubbed at his forehead. He had learned a long time ago to quell the instinctual urge to look for facial responses from his never-ending list of coworkers who wore masks. Looking over at her would give him nothing.

“You’re rubbing at your head again,” she clarified, her voice as soft as it could be through the distortion. Maybe that was just in Hux’s imagination.

He snorted, an undignified sound that he would have never allowed himself to make had he been in any other company. The boxy lift in which he found himself in such close quarters to Phasma provided him the false sense of security to indulge in such mannerisms. “I have not begun to name my ailments yet, but I assure you at least half of them would be named Ren.” He sighed, lowering his hand from where he had been pinching the bridge of his nose to try to ward off the pain. “Or perhaps closer to 30 percent. He’s not nearly as important as he thinks he is, not even in terms of causing destruction.”

There was a short noise of static from Phasma, one that Hux had come to believe was the closest thing Strom Troopers got to laughter and he felt the stabbing behind his eye subside slightly. Phasma was not his friend. Friendships were for the weak, the ones who weren’t strong enough to handle life’s hardships on their own. Still, in the confines of the small lift, it felt nice to complain about something with someone whom he considered almost an equal. Almost.

She made no mention of him visiting medical, that sort of thing was reserved for people who cared enough to made useless comments, and Phasma would indulge in no such trivialities. If Hux needed medical, he would be on his way to medical. The silence was comforting in its own way for another moment, before the lift came to a steady stop, the heavy metal doors opening on the awe inspiring view of the upper engines. Or, it would have been awe inspiring, had Hux not been seeing it for the umpteenth time, or not currently wrestling with his newest migraine.

“General,” Phasma addressed him, bowing her head slightly in deference as she made to pass him. He was just tired enough that the display seemed more comical than anything. Her incredible height and weight advantage over him in her bulky armor making him feel more ridiculous than powerful as she tried to show the proper respect.

“Captain,” Hux answered, lifting his hand in a half salute. She was the only person on board that Hux felt the need to show any sort of respect towards, and even then it would have been generous to call the display half hearted.

Wires in their thick-gloved hands and protective masks over their faces, a few maintenance workers turned as Phasma stepped out of the lift and snapped to attention. She made no move to acknowledge them. “May your headaches find more productive outlets for their aggression. Or at least 30% of them.”

Hux didn’t snort this time, not with the half dozen workers pretending they weren’t listening in on their superiors’ conversation, but he felt the edges of his permanent scowl twitch. “Belief in fairy tales won’t get you anywhere Phasma,” he scolded gently as the lift doors closed.

Now fully alone, Hux allowed himself the luxury of slumping back against the wall, letting his eyes fall closed briefly as his descent continued. He only had to do one rotation of the bridge, look over the plans for the new hyper drive, and meet with three heads of departments today, before he start work on this weeks briefings. If all went according to plan he should still have five hours left to sleep before he had to oversee the new Strom Trooper arrivals.

He was jostled suddenly from his thoughts as the lift came to a sudden, grinding halt, lights flickering as machinery screamed just outside of the walls.

“What the-“

Hux’s protests were cut off as an overhead light sparked, forcing him to cover his head with his arm. The lift then began to reverse, ascending back the way he had come. Any fear he had felt he allowed himself to believe was from the suddenness of the change waned quickly, replaced with confusion and a growing aggravation. What now?

One hand braced on the wall to keep himself from falling, Hux fixed his eyes on the doors as the lift came to a gentle stop. The doors opened without any recognition that anything was wrong. The corridor it revealed was one he was not overly familiar with, but recognized all the same. It was the lower level living quarters, where maintenance, sanitation and all the other tiny cogs in the great machine that was the Finalizer spent their more useless hours. In front of him was a small group of workers, heavy masks covering their face though of a very different variety than those of the electricians. Hux knew they were a fuel crew, their masks designed to keep out poisonous gases and protect them from the heat of the Finalizer’s internal workings and he wondered, half in a state of exhausted confusion, if he really was the only one aboard this ship who felt it safe to keep his bare face to the world.

A moment of tense silence passed as the workers stood close to either wall, leaving a pathway straight through them and said not a word. Behind their masks Hux couldn’t even make out their eyes as they stood at tense attention. He may have mistaken them for drones, had he not noticed the minuscule trembling that seemed to have affected a few of them. For a moment he wondered if he was going insane, a quiet sort of panic that was concealed by years of training holding him straight in the lift as he stared at the bizarre scene before him. He opened his mouth, unsure how to word his various questions to these low level workers, before he realized what was happening.

All of his trepidation evaporated as he heard the heavy clunk of boots accompanying the dark figure making its way towards the lift. Data pad clutched a little too tight in his hand, Hux glared at the unwavering mask headed towards him as Kylo Ren swept between the parted workers. As soon as he was in the lift the door closed behind him, and the lift began to rise. The knight turned, facing the door as he waited for it to reopen.

Hux had been readying himself for another altercation, mentally bracing himself to force himself to be as civil as possible, but Kylo Ren gave no indication he even knew he was there. Hux wished he could have been relieved by the treatment, but he knew this was not out of a mutual respect. Kylo Ren was purposefully ignoring him, as easily as he had those fuel workers, because he was making it clear that was how he saw the General.

Hux was certain he could hear his jaw crack under the pressure of holding it still. The boiling anger in him at being disrespected so blatantly made him want to smash his data pad over Ren’s stupid mask. “I was heading to the bridge,” he bit out tersely, trying to keep his voice even.

Ren didn’t react to the statement at first, staring silently at the door as his quiet breathing was distorted by the ridiculous voice alteration. Finally, with painstaking slowness, he turned his head, the tilt of his mask maybe meaning that he was watching Hux out of the corner of the slit. “That’s incredibly interesting, General.”

The pulsing pain in Hux’s head grew exponentially worse as Ren turned back to face the door, every ounce of his patience tried. “You cannot alter the lifts like that,” he snaped, back straight and eyes forward in the same position as Ren. The audacity of it was driving knives into Hux’s skull, having him curse every Force user for the past millennium for leading to this single asshole who felt he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted with no regard or respect for authority or basic machine well-being.

“I believe I all ready did.”

Most of Hux’s anger came from the fact that he was right. There was absolutely nothing Hux could do about the situation except stand next to Ren and wait for the lift to take him where he needed to go. Afterwards he would have to hit the button, like the mortal he was, to tell it where to go next. Humiliation at having to endure this treatment was burning in his face, a fire ignited in him that he was not sure at present how to put out as he waited in silence.

He was hyper aware of when Ren turned to look at him again, but did not give him the satisfaction of letting him know. “Are you warm, General?”

Hux’s face only burned more at the petty insult. Ren was like a child on the playground just trying to get a reaction for his own sadistic amusement. Ren acting like a child was nothing new. Before Hux could decide how to respond, everything went a bit sideways. Literally.

With a jolt of force the lift stopped its trek upwards and jerked hard to the side. General and knight were sent off their feet in a disgraceful tangle of limbs as they hit the far wall and slumped to the floor. The overhead lights blacked out, a horrible crack of glass alerting Hux that one of them had broken, adding broken glass into the chaotic mix of Hux and Ren still sliding across the wall as the lift around them continued to shudder and shake.

It all stopped as abruptly as it started, and Hux could see white pin pricks of light dancing at the corner of his vision. The lift was almost completely dark, with the exception of his bright data pad, flashing suddenly with dozens of messages all labeled URGENT. He glanced at it out of the corner of his eye, his breathing heavy and eyes wide as he tried to process what just happened. Far off in the ship he could hear warning sirens, one by one all sounding off in a cacophony of noise.

“What the fuck?” He managed out that time, trying to find his bearings. The lift was tilted, he and Ren thrown into the corner where the floor and wall met, creating an awkward angle that he wasn’t sure he would be able to stand on if he tried. He couldn’t move, held in place uselessly as the alarms sounded off and his data pad beeped and his head pulsed with pain.


It took Hux longer than he would have liked to realize that Ren was the crushing weight on his chest. The dark fabric of the knight cut a lanky shadow in the darkness, keeping him from moving. One of Hux’s legs was wedged between what may have been Kylo’s hips and the crook of the lift’s new floor.

“Get off of me!” He snarled, kicking out in an attempt to dislodge him.

"Let go of me!” Ren responded instantly, shaking violently by the shoulders where, Hux noticed belatedly, that his fingers were digging in tightly. Recoiling as if shocked, Hux withdrew his hand and scrambled to try to reach his data pad.

“Shit,” he cursed as his fingers found a shard of glass in the darkness first. Ignoring the pain, and the horribly disgraceful position he found himself in, half trapped under Ren and half sprawled across the floor on his chest, he grabbed the data pad.

Hux ignored the reports, there were too many to sort through right now. His head was swimming with pain and Ren’s boot was pressing down hard on his thigh as the other man tried to detangle them. He opened his com link.

“WHAT’S HAPPENING?” He demanded the second it buzzed to life.

“An engine blew sir!” His lieutenant responded quickly, a frenzied sort of mania underlining her words. Her hair was falling out of her regulation braid, her breathing heavy and a large red spot forming on her chin. Her speech was a little off, and Hux could see the bruising where she must have bitten her lip.

“Are we under attack?”

“No, sir!” She assured him, her usually calm demeanor only slightly afflicted by her panic. There was no fear in her eyes, and despite everything Hux couldn’t help but manage a slight surge of appreciation for her level head. “It wasn’t the main engine and repairs shouldn’t take long. We are dead in the water until then sir, we can’t move and power to zones Four through Eleven is offline. We completely lost the back quadrant of lower Zone Nine. Gravity stabilizer was damaged in the explosion, whole ship is 41.73 degrees off balance.”

“WHAT?” Ren finally hissed, one gloved hand clutching his head, only resting partially on Hux’s calves now. Hux kept his own panic to himself, but he shared the sentiment. An engine down was dangerous enough, but the entire ship’s gravity tilted? That wasn’t going to be an easy fix, and the headache that would surely ensue from working on a tilted ship might just be what finishes him off.

Doing his best to ignore Ren, Hux focused on his lieutenant, noticing for the first time that she, too, was at an odd angle, the main console on the bridge behind her tilted. He didn’t know how she was remaining as up right as she was, and now was not the time for questions. “How long till repairs?”

“Repairs are awaiting your order sir, power should be the main concern, but with the gravity tilt it’s going to add a few hours on.”

“Can gravity be repaired first?”

“It could take hours sir, on top of the time to fix the engine. We could be stranded for up to 76 hours if we focus on gravity first.”

Hux growled, kicking Ren in the back under the guise of shifting into a more comfortable position and ignoring the warning snarl it earned him. “The engine should be priority, followed by getting Four through Eleven fully functional again. Gravity can wait.”

“Yes sir. What is your location?”

Years of training had taught Hux never to allow fillers like ‘uh’ or ‘erm’ to escape him, but he still has to bite the inside of his cheek to stop himself as he looked around the dark lift.

“Lift 184Y…somewhere between Zone Six and Seven. Lord Ren and I are temporarily trapped, it would seem.”

Her composure only slipped for a second when he mentioned Ren, a brief flash of horror that was gone almost as soon as it had appeared. Hux wondered if her fear was out of concern for him, or if she was considering the possibility of having to work so closely with Ren when she replaced him. With an almost silent cough, she nodded. “We will have you both out as soon as possible.”

“Be sure that you do.” Without waiting for a response he ended the link, instead looking through the various other messages flashing across his screen. Only a handful were actual reports, all kept short and a few riddled with mistakes that made Hux grimace. Given the circumstances he would allow it, knowing that most of the messages were hastily written among fires and chaos. The majority of the messages were automatic, breeches in oxygen and rising levels of gases that had no business rising.

Groaning under his breath, it took all of Hux’s will power to not let his head fall back against the cold metal. The only light source was the data pad clutched in his hand, and in the darkness made the lift seemed even smaller some how. Hux had never thought himself afraid of tight spaces, he spent most of his life on board space crafts after all. Wide open spaces had always been the ones to unnerve him, with no way of knowing what was coming or from where. Suddenly however, trapped for an indeterminate amount of time in a dark and shifted lift with his least favorite person on board, the walls seemed to be closing in, inch by inch. It was only a matter of time before they pressed in completely and he was no more in this sickeningly tilted world.

Breathe. Gather yourself. Assess the situation. Half beside and half under him, Ren shifted, forcing Hux farther to the side, and his annoyance didn’t have time to take route before he realized his luck. Well, as lucky as he could be in his situation.

“Well, we’re not doing any good in here,” he concluded. Leaving the bright monitor screen of his data pad on, he clipped it to his belt and began to brace himself against the tilted wall.

Rising to his feet proved to be a much more difficult task than he had anticipated. One boot bent awkwardly along the crook between the wall and the floor, and the other braced behind him and slowly slipping he half crawled himself into a standing position, feeling more ridiculous with every movement.

“No, we are not,” Ren agreed from his position, something about his voice sounding off and Hux wondered if his mask had been damaged in the toss. It appeared, in the darkness and masked by his eternal layers of black fabric, that Ren had attempted to sit cross-legged in the corner of the lift, long legs bent awkwardly as he tried to adjust himself on the wonky floor.

Both hands braced against the wall with one leg stretched out behind him to keep his balance on the floor, Hux couldn’t remember a time he felt more foolish. “Well?”

“Well what?”

The headache was back. Phasma had been right, he was going to name it Ren. “Well, do something!”

Ren was silent for a moment, his mask tilting to the side as if Hux had asked him a rather stupid question. “What do you want me to do?”

Before Hux could respond, one gloved hand slipped. He was sent down hard on his elbow against the wall, boot scrapping across the floor on a shard of glass as he cursed.

“You seem to have the situation under control,” Ren drawled, the distortion in his voice only heightening the mockery of his statement.

“You’re the one with the blasted powers, so make yourself useful and get us out of this lift!” Hux spat, feeling his face burning with both fury and humiliation as he attempted to stand as straight as could on the floor that was decidedly not.

“No.” Ren told him flatly. “My abilities are not a trick that I perform on command, least of all yours.”

Disbelief arched Hux’s eyebrows high as he gaped down at the man seated peacefully upon the trough created by the tilt. Setting one foot forward he braced himself along the wall, leaning down as close as he dared to Ren without tipping over. “I’m sorry,” he hissed, once again feeling as if he was talking to a petulant child. “Do you want to be stuck here with me? Is this fun for you? Is my company simply that delightful that you want to stay here for a few hours while they try to get us out?” His voice rose with each taunting question, his hands sliding across the wall as he leaned down to fight face to mask with Ren. “Not ten minutes ago you damaged crucial equipment without a second thought simply because you could not be bothered, in all of your regal mysticism, to wait the three blasted minutes until the next lift arrived, so quit acting like a brooding teenager and move the fucking lift!” Hux was screaming by the end, the muscles in his neck pulling tight in protest as his frustration and anger at the knight, at the ship, at Snoke for forcing him to put up with this all, came to a head. He was eye level with Ren, staring into the slit that served as his window to the world and practically spitting on his face. This was, very possibly, how he died. Screaming insults in the face of one of the most powerful creatures in the entire galaxy, and at that moment Hux could not be bothered to care.

The knight didn’t respond, maintaining his gaze ever forward and not once shifting from his position, but his hands betrayed him. Resting one on each knee his fingers had curled quietly into fists, the leather of his gloves cracking as his hands shook with the effort to hold his composure together. In the silence that ensued in their standoff, Hux could hear his breathing; heavier and more ragged through his mask with barely controlled rage.

Hux had never once known Ren to control anything, least of all around him.

Immediately Hux stood up, his own fury snapping quickly back into annoyed acceptance. “You can’t move the lift.” It wasn’t a question. If Ren had the ability to get them out of this situation he would have done so all ready. Feet braced apart Hux let himself recline back against the wall, feeling a bit ill at the notion that he was half laying down and still pressed against the wall. His poor ship.

“I…am injured.”

The idea that Ren could not currently throw him across the room with nothing more than his mind should have opened Hux's world up to all kinds of new insults to hurl at the other man, but all he felt was a burning exhaustion. “Is it serious?” Hux wasn’t sure if he was asking out of the hope that it was or that it wasn’t.”

Behind the mask and distorted through its filter, Ren let out a pained sigh.

In the darkness, that horrible sound the only thing bouncing off the walls, Hux was suddenly thrown back to a memory he only half remembered. His mother sick and his newest nanny recently fired, forced to sit quietly with a book next to his father’s desk for the day. There were other men in the room and several heavy bolts across the door as the men silently watched a cracking and damaged holo. Hux could never remember what was said, either by the men in the room, or by those on the broken projection, but he would always remember that mechanical hiss. It was like a broken part, scraping and hissing to be repaired, but too human at the same time. Like a person trapped in an endless cog of machinery.

Hux wondered if that holo still existed. He also wondered if Ren knew it had ever had in the first place. An unsettling sort of chill ran down the back of his neck.

“Take off that stupid mask. It’s just us, the mystery of your disfigurement has all ready been spoiled for me.”

“My disfigurement?”

“Your face,” Hux responded. It was probably the most juvenile thing he had said all year.

The next breath Ren took grated once more against that childhood memory of Hux’s, but it sounded lighter somehow. It was followed by a series of clicks, a small shuffle and then a heavy thump as the weight of Ren’s helmet hit the floor.

Tilting his head on the wall, Hux glanced down at him, not expecting to meet Ren’s eyes as soon as he did so. The light from Hux’s data pad casted eerie shadows across the other man’s face, making his eyes look black and his features razor sharp.

“You’re bleeding,” Hux offered uselessly, his voice flat. Leaking out of Ren’s hair and across his temple there was a steady trickle of blood, dripping down his chin and onto his robes. “It’s revolting.”

“So are you,” Ren responded. Hux wasn’t sure to which statement he was referring. Hux clenched his fist, still feeling the sting of the glass against his fingers and trying to ignore the pain.

“So, what now, you’re no longer a Force User? Just another mortal like the rest of us.” He knew it was not true, even though he knew nothing of the Force. It just felt natural to insult Ren, something stable in this shifted and claustrophobic world.

“That’s not how it works.” Hux had heard Ren’s voice before, his real voice when the mask wasn’t changing it, but he still felt unprepared every time. Ren’s voice was thick, like he never quite grew into his mouth, with the barest hint of the Imperial accent clinging to his vowels. “Is that how you see yourself though? Do you consider yourself a mortal like all the others?”

No. Of course not. “I would be foolish not to,” Hux told him, not considering it a lie. “But you haven’t answered me, what do we do now, can you get your powers back?”

“You did not ask me that.”

“Well I am now. How long until you can move this lift?”

“I am not a console that needs rebooting,” Ren snarled, followed by a heavy thud that might have been either his hand or his foot connecting with the metal of the lift.

“That is debatable.”

“Careful General.” Ren’s voice was low and dangerous, but Hux had yet to let any of Ren’s antics truly frighten him. “Just because I can’t strangle you with the Force doesn’t mean I can’t do it with my hands.”

“As always, I quake in your shadow, Lord-“ Hux didn’t get a chance to finish his thought before his feet were suddenly yanked out from under him and he was thrown to the floor. Even more unfortunately, as the floor was not so much a flat surface as a V shaped plane, he had nothing to grab onto as he slid across it, coming to a stop in the crevice with a vice grip still holding onto his calf.

“How old are you?!” Hux wanted to say he snarled, but really it was something closer to a yelp as Ren’s grip tightened, pulling him along the wall and closer to him. Hux didn’t wait to find out what Ren had planned next. Hux, despite his height, had never been able to put on much weight. Always too slight to do much damage with physical force alone, many people made the mistake of assuming Hux was useless in true fisticuffs.

Hux was not a strong man, but he was quick.

Twisting swiftly he struck out with his still free leg, catching Ren hard in the center of his face with the heel of his boot and freeing his other. Hooking his now freed leg around Ren’s shoulder he managed to throw the other man face down onto the floor as he rolled away from him. The split second of shock he was awarded from Ren gave him enough time to gather himself and throw his weight onto the knight’s back, forcing him completely to the ground.

Cursing beneath him, Ren bucked back, throwing Hux back against the wall and hard down on the knight’s legs. Pinned against the wall behind Ren he thought fast, throwing out a hard punch, hoping to get Ren in the stomach or the groin, but missed as Ren tried to shift, catching instead his sharp hipbone. Both men gasped in pain but neither slowed. The gravity tilt made their fight even more ridiculous than it would have been, forcing them both back into the crevice made by the wall and the floor no matter how hard they struggled to escape it.

Hux made to leap again, his only defense with his back to the sharp angle of the floor, but Ren anticipated the move and countered it easily, a hard forearm to Hux’s chest slamming him back down again. He was losing. Ren brought one knee down on Hux’s thigh that was currently pinned against the wall, the other pressing into his far hip to hold him in place. Hux’s mind spun through the pain to form his next move as Ren loomed over him, obviously deciding what to do with what he believed to be captive prey.

Hux’s greatest fear when it came to Ren’s threats suddenly sounded in his mind, and he acted without thinking. Reaching up he latched his fingers around Ren’s throat, closing tight. Ren’s disbelief at Hux’s audacity shone bright in his eyes, shock making his mouth go slack as he grabbed instinctively at the hands clutching his neck. Shaking with the strain, Hux didn’t let go, forcing his fingers tighter as Ren’s struggle began to shift into something more desperate.

Ren’s fingers were digging into his, both men trembling as he tried to pry them from his skin. Hux was determined, desperate and panicked at the situation he had found himself in. He knew the odds of him dying in battle were high, had come to terms with that long ago, but he would be damned to the farthest reaches of the galaxy before he let himself be murdered in a broken lift by this whiney man child and have his body thrown into the incinerator.

“I’m…not the one...” Ren gasped as he managed to loosen Hux’s grip around his throat. “Trying to…commit murder.”

Hux hadn’t realized he had been speaking out loud but now he could feel it, the sting in his throat as he bit out his own words as he tried to cut off Ren’s. Hux was a man with his back to the wall and no options left, but even that wasn’t enough to stand against Ren’s full strength. Ren was winning again, slowly but surely managing to remove the vice from around his neck.

Hux let out a strangled sort of noise of defiance and panic as he realized his own defeat, refusing to accept it even as Ren slammed his wrists down against the metal floor above his head. The fight hadn’t been long, but the high possibility of his immanent demise had put an extra sort of intensity behind it. Hux felt the fight treacherously begin to leave his body even as he continued to struggle under Ren.

Finally slumping against the floor he tried to take inventory. He was panting, heavily, sweat sticking his hair to his forehead and the sting in his hand now accompanied by a few other places he must have been cut by glass. Above him, Ren was breathing heavily too, though not quite as much. The trickle blood on his temple seemed to have slowed down despite his strenuous movements, and he also appeared to be deciding what to do next.

Ren’s hands were tight on his wrists, limiting both of them in their mobility. Even without the threat of being punched, Hux couldn’t relax. Ren could still slam an elbow into his neck, or shift his knee ever so slightly and hit him in the groin, or-

“I’m not going to kill you.”

Hux knew he hadn’t spoken aloud that that, it must have just been open on his face.

Hux liked to consider himself a master of negotiations. He had been captured three times in his life, and talked his way out of it twice. Taunting his captors was never a good idea, so why he bared his teeth at Ren in a challenge, he had no idea. “Why would I ever believe that? You destroy everything on this ship, including my crew, it’s only a matter of time before your blasted tantrums start wracking up a real body count on board.”

Ren growled, no words just a guttural snarl in his face as he tightened his grip on Hux’s wrists. “I’m not going to kill you,” he repeated, and Hux thought he might be talking more to himself than to Hux.

“So what are you going to do?” He demanded. “Or are we to spend the rest of our time together in this position?”

Reeling back, Ren slammed their joined hands and wrists hard against the metal floor, making Hux wince beneath him.

“Why are you like this?” There was an undeniable rage behind Ren’s words, but his eyes were wide, as if he couldn’t understand why Hux wouldn’t simply roll over and let him have whatever he wanted.

“Why am I-“

Ren didn’t allow him to finish, pushing his words aside to continue his tirade. “You are insubordinate, disrespectful and you refuse to accept my authority!”

Your authority?” Hux gasped in disbelief. “This is my ship Ren, you are a guest. The lap dog of the supreme leader who needs watched over while he attends to more important-”

“YOU CANNOT SPEAK TO ME LIKE THIS!” Ren exploded, the power of his words vibrating through Hux. He paid it no mind.

“You, cannot speak to me like this!” Hux yelled back, only a very small part of him distraught that he couldn’t seem to get the same level of power in his voice as Ren. “I am the General of the First Order, I have done more for this organization than you ever will in your pathetic life. You do not control a weapon, you are the weapon.”

Above him, Ren was seething, his arms shaking as he held Hux in place, an animalistic expression taking over his face as his lips curled back over his teeth. Still ready to fight despite his disadvantageous position, Hux was still keeping close track of Ren’s movements, watching his legs and elbows for sudden movements. Even so, he was still unprepared when Ren pulled back and surged forward suddenly. Hux only had a second's notice to realize he was about to be head-butted, flinching back with a gasp in anticipation of the pain, only to have it muffled by Ren’s mouth.

Hux was positive his heart had stopped, completely given out under the surge of adrenaline thrown to a halt by confusion. Ren’s hair was falling in Hux’s face, and his mouth was hot and wet against his own. Perhaps he was the one who had hit his head and this was all an elaborate hallucination, maybe Ren had finally gone insane, maybe-

His train of thought was cut short as all of his focus was suddenly shifted to a wet intrusion, pushing past his shock-slackened lips. With a gasp he was ripped out of his own head, thrown violently back into the present and to the very sturdy reality that Kylo Ren of the Knight’s of Ren was holding him down by the wrists and shoving his tongue into his mouth. It was another display of dominance, another show that he was allowed to do whatever he pleased and would always come out on top. It was a fight Ren was sure he had all ready won.

Hux had never backed down from a fight in his life.

Ren’s grip on his wrists loosened just enough for Hux to rip his hands free, coming up to tangle in Ren’s hair with a noise that may have been a snarl or a moan. Forcing their mouths together even harder, Hux took over the kiss almost instantly, pushing his own tongue past Ren’s and into the other man’s mouth. Ren moved above him, possibly trying and failing to bring them closer together in their awkward position pinned against the wall. Their teeth clacked together as he tried to maintain his slipping dominance.

Deciding quickly that this was not how things were going to happen, Hux used his newly freed arm to slam his elbow into his Ren’s ribs, forcing the other man off of him as he retreated from the pain. It hadn’t been a hard blow, just tough enough to sting, but when Ren glanced up at him, for one absolutely ridiculous moment there was a look of pure hurt on his face. Hux’s breath caught in his throat, almost making him forget what his next step had been as the murderer staring at him suddenly looked ten years younger, but he quickly collected himself.

Ignoring the pain in his hand, Hux threw his weight onto it, pushing himself up until he was the one straddling Ren’s hips, held out from the sloped wall a few inches by strength alone. With a violent smirk he found Ren’s chin with one hand, the other moving back through his unruly curls, and pressed his mouth against his partner’s.

The part of Hux’s brain that was still running, still trying to process what was happening, noted quickly that Ren was a terrible kisser. He was sloppy and ungraceful and, Hux noted with great interest, uncertain. His movements had started out dominating and harsh, but it had been an impulse, something almost out of Ren’s control just like every one of his outbursts. It was fading quickly as his teeth dug into Ren’s bottom lip.

Ren was a bad kisser because he was inexperienced.

It should have turned Hux off, should have given him another insult to wield against the knight, but he had other uses for it. With this newfound knowledge burning in his head he gripped Ren’s hair tighter, holding him in close as a new power rushed through him. Ren had tried to use this as a weapon, tried to stop Hux with the most primal source of dominance he could think of, but had accidentally just handed over to Hux an arsenal against him.

Beneath him Ren let a strangled moan that was closer to a whimper escape him, telling Hux that Ren too had realized his mistake. The taller man had him in a vice grip, his arms wrapped tight around his torso and holding him in place with a bruising force. Ren’s face still framed in his hands, Hux let his tongue move in lazy strokes across Ren’s, alternating between teasing and aggressive. Beneath him Ren made no move to change the position they were in, nor to alter the speed or intensity of the kiss. He only responded to what Hux was doing, allowing himself to be pulled along in any way Hux wanted.

It was a drug, heavy and dangerous and making his thoughts go foggy as Ren gave into him so easily. Now this was how he was going to die, Hux thought idly, with his heart hammering still heavy enough for battle, and this horrendous excuse for a Force User submitting underneath him like he couldn’t rip Hux to pieces without breaking a sweat. It was too much, too fast, and Hux couldn’t get enough. Impatient and drunk on the feeling, Hux tugged at Ren’s collar, pulling back the dark fabric to reveal a line of pale skin.

Beneath him Ren groaned, arching his neck to give Hux better access to the sensitive area as he attacked it with teeth, tongue and lips. He only managed a moment before Ren was dragging him back up to kiss again, their pace fast and rough and not enough and Hux needed Ren out of these robes now, and-

The two of them should have had better reaction skills, they both knew that in hindsight, but when the doors to the lift slid open, neither had even begun to move their mouths let alone the rest of their bodies.

Ren ducked out before Hux could move, pushing the general off him as he tried to straighten up. Hux hit the ground, sliding back against the wall and blinking at the suddenly blaring lights bearing down on them. A few feet above them he slowly began to make out the silver outline of Phasma, staring down at them. Behind her mask, Hux couldn’t make out her expression, but he knew she had seen what was happening. Another worker appeared at her side, a woman in her 20s with a tight ponytail and a box of tools in her hands. Luckily for her, it didn’t look like she had realized what they had stumbled in on.

“General Hux, Lord Ren,” Phasma greeted as the other woman stood at attention. Her voice was level and clipped, just as always, but Hux still winced. He had no way of knowing what she was thinking, and his dislike of masks was beginning to shift into something closer to hatred.

Glancing over his shoulder at Ren, unsure as to what to say in this situation or how to proceed, he found the question answered for him. Ren had put his helmet back on, leaving Hux to stare between two unmoving and unreadable faces. His face felt hot again, and it was from no sort of pleasure this time.

“About time,” Hux snapped, happy to hear that his voice still sounded normal. He reached out a hand, accepting the one offered from Phasma to help lift him up to the door. His other hand found purchase on the opened door and he managed to pull himself up with a respectable amount of dignity. The floor of the hall was tilted just as the elevator had been, but somehow it seemed less so out in the open. Taking a breath he dusted off his clothing. Hux was a professional at hiding and burying his feelings, and hiding the shame and anger he felt at that moment came second nature.

“Someone update me on our status!” He barked to no one in particular, one hand braced against the wall as he carefully made his way down the hall towards the bridge. Two officers were suddenly slipping down the uneven halls to meet him, data pads in their hands as they tried to steady themselves against the tilt of the ship. They both opened their mouths to speak, but Hux held up a hand. Behind him he could feel Ren and Phasma watching him from behind their masks, their faces hidden as they tried to read his. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. Keeping his back turned he addressed them over his shoulder.

“We are going to need to push everything aside in order to work on getting the engines up, and the gravity back in place. Phasma, I need you in the lower decks, section Nine. Check the troopers' training grounds and let me know how many we lost.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And Ren.” Behind him, Ren gave no answer. Hux knew he wouldn’t. “Getting the ship back into shape is our number one priority.” He could feel Ren’s eyes boring into the back of his skull so hard he was sure it must be at least some part of the Force involved. He hesitated before continuing, just a short pause that he told himself was planned. “We can continue our discussion once the gravitational center is fixed.” His voice was as collected and professional as it always had been.

Behind him there was no response, but he only made it two steps away before he felt it. A tight grip around his chest, the work of phantom limbs using a power he could not understand holding him in place. Hux kept his expression neutral, pushing through the feeling as he listened to his officer’s rattle off what he has missed in the past hour.

Behind them, he heard the grinding screech as the lift began to move.

Both officers pretended they didn’t hear it when Hux swore under his breath.