Title: Connections I: Coward
Series: Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
Soundtrack: Coward: Hayden Calnin
Time frame: End of movie
Summary: True freedom can only be taken by those have been chained, true love has to be given freely, abundantly, overflowing, expecting nothing in return and true peace can only come to those who are not cowards.
Excerpt: “He wanted to linger on it but he almost didn’t have the energy anymore to marvel at the idea of his heart laid so bare. Did Hux know this? Had Hux seen this before, this vibration travelling though the ribbons? Did he feel it? Would he feel it when they would fade. Would he feel the last...thump?”
Pairings: Hux/Kylo Ren
Word count: ~2500
Warning: deathfic? or is it?
Other: This is a stand-alone “continuation” of metropolitanlights exquisite “Colored Connections” - it is advisable to read it first since the concept of “connections” is not explained in this fic”.
Thanks: Thank you metropolitanlights for your amazing idea and fic! Poem from Miguel de Unamuno, also thanks to neurovicky whose Tumblr prompt “too late” made my demons sing in tune. Dialogue in italic is from “Colored Connections”. Also I have found inspiration to my writings all over Tumblr and I can't even remember half of it, so if you recognise anything (within reason) and want to be credited just let me know. Lyrics in italic is from Coward by Hayden Calnin
On your knees and drown
Look left, see death
Staring back at you”
There was a presence here. It was neither sinister nor benevolent, neither light nor dark, it just was. Kylo Ren had felt it many times before but not ever had it been there just for him. He almost smiled through his hazy twilight of consciousness as he realised that the presence had been there already at the bridge. It had followed him to the forest and it had lingered after the fighting. He felt almost flattered.
Death had been waiting for him.
It didn’t come sneaking up from shadows but just suddenly existed like those first rays of light from dawn, looming over him like the fog coming from his lips. The crimson warmth underneath him was slowly cooling, uncomfortably soaking his clothes in a stiff mess. Small pink crystals pricked his fingers and he mutely wondered if he should greet the presence. Should he call it by name? After all it was almost like meeting an old friend.
But before he could open his mouth the presence suddenly stepped back into to darkness of the forest, and Kylo was left utterly alone.
The anger had completely left him by now, the burning rage that had kept him up, the pain he had drawn from by slamming his fist into his wound in pace with his blazing heartbeat, slashing at everything that moved despite the gaping bowcaster hole in his side and the numerous laser burns littering his body.
They had been his sole source of power for as long as he could remember and suddenly being bereft of it left him strangely hollow, like something had been taken from him that he didn’t know could be taken. Yet he was not incomplete – something else had taken its place; an infinite sense of defeat, gut-wrenching sadness and... fear?
He tried to bring his hand up to feel his face (was he crying?) but it wasn't moving, his fingers only curling into his hand in a feeble attempt. He tried to summon the force, to push himself up but it stubbornly refused, as if it had somehow tested him and found him wanting, finally abandoning him (for someone else?).
After a few minutes of futile tries he relaxed into himself and resigned to the darkening woods. He could feel the angry trembles of the frozen earth beneath him and he knew that right below him the planet was tearing itself apart, trying to swallow a sun. Any minute now he would fall into a deep chasm of fire and flame and he would burn in eternal rage and madness. Yet he couldn't make himself care, it was too calm here, seductively serene as if he was lying on the surface of a pond – a water drop just barely touching the surface. He wanted to hold on to this curious feeling just a little longer, a feeling so alien to him who had always drowned in rash passion and inevitable rage.
The peace here was one he had never felt before. It permeated the air, soaking the regal pines in a muffled tenderness while pure white fractal flakes slowly danced over the monochrome forest. It made him think of a poem he had found by chance when, in boredom, he had been rifling through Hux's carefully ordered library “... falls with such lightness on the head, on the feelings, come and cover over the sadness that lies always in my reason...” The words eased his immediate anxiety and he gritted his teeth as he kept his approaching fear at bay.
The flakes kept fluttering down in careless regard, landing softly on his eyelashes, kissing his mouth, covering his bleeding wounds in a haphazard bandaging and he wondered briefly if the poet had also laid numb in a forest of his own sadness and defeat. A bright orange flame in the corner of his eye caught his attention for a second as he registered another shudder below him, yet he still couldn't make himself move. Instead he thought of another flame, a flame belonging to the hair, and that overwhelmingly brilliant spirit of a certain General of the First Order.
“Don't be ridiculous, Ren.”
He imagined those cool blue-green eyes looking at him with completely concealed intent that yet somehow could still scorch Kylo on the inside (He had never been able to figure out how Hux did it. He burnt in envy of how Hux could just will himself to relax his face of emotions, while he himself was a walking broadcasting system of angst and anger and lust. Hux was in no need of a mask.).
“What do you want from me, Ren?”
He thought of the slight twist of Hux’s lips in both disdain or want (sometimes both at the same time), the proud assured gait as he stalked up to the bridge of the “Finalizer” like he owned the universe (just watching his confident back dispelled all of Kylo's panic and doubt instantly), his gloved hand slowly sweeping through Kylo's black hair down his neck, his...
“Why are we doing this, Ren? What am I here for?”
A sudden barbed pain exploded like a blaster beam in his head, like someone had stuck an iron bar inside the bowcaster wound on his left side. It made him shudder, gasping for air, trying to fold on himself as the pain increased and wrecked though his numbing body but he couldn't more than shake raggedly and squeeze his eyes together trying to remember what he had been thinking about before, trying to will it away.
“You always threaten me”
Then suddenly it was over and he was back to the pleasant bonelessness of numbing cold. He was only mildly aware of the new wave of crimson warmth pooling underneath him, creating new crystals of a far more savage colour than the ones arriving from above.
Kylo thought nothing of it, for he thought of Hux... and it made him think of other... things.
“Why do you not follow through on it?”
Love is not a price to win nor something that can be taken by force. It has to be given freely, abundantly, overflowing, expecting nothing in return. He had heard those words sometime, somewhere, but he couldn't remember when or why (or had he read them?). It was like those things you only listen to half-eared and nod in agreement to without exactly knowing why or understanding what they mean, but now he could see it. Understand it. Like how the eyes of General Hux always bore through his mask, baring him, his rampant emotions. It was like being naked and now understanding was also bared in front of him. The code of the Jedi flashed in his mind; peace, knowledge, serenity. He had never had any of it before, he could see that now but, oh, how he wanted them, how they pulled at him, tugged at his heart like thinking of home. Like thinking of him...
Through the seductive calm of each and every flake softly touching him, he could see the lie that was blind passion, the deceit of power and the downfall of victory, for in the end they would not set him free, they could not. They were just blatant lack of control, they were childishly reckless and vain. They would chain him, drag him down and destroy him. Like Vader. Yes, he could see it now when his mind had been stripped and his power laid bare, naked in the woods. For truly there was no death, only the force, and it was everywhere. In every flake touching him, in the cold shivering trees, in the dying sun. He could feel it passing through him like a warm breeze even though it didn't respond to him anymore and maybe that was enough. To just know it was there without being able to manipulate it. Just letting it flow in him, through him, from him. Always.
“There's just one more. It’s grass-green.”
An even vaster peace descended on him, like a soft blanket tucked into him by loving hands, and he did, he truly and utterly understood what it meant, those words, and he thought of that small tender tendril of grass-green he had seen in Hux's memory. How it had swayed from his chest like dancing seaweed, looking like every wave would uproot it yet it had been so firmly planted he had almost felt it tugging. He had never wanted it nor wished for it to appear but once there, he had been fascinated by how it had beamed from his own chest, freely and abundantly. Just barely touching Hux with its tip, on each flowing motion, almost as if it was afraid of what would happen once it connected. And he, awed, had found himself fiercely wanting it to connect, wanting it more than he had thought was possible.
“Fondness. And it’s coming from you.”
He could almost sense it now, here in this brutally serene forest of his death, a sharp blade poking through and breaking his skin, protruding from his chest as he lay there slowly going numb in cold and blood loss. He could feel it stretching like an ethereal bird readying for flight, taking off into the sky. It was so real now that he could almost see it, just like it had been in Hux's mind (Hux had called it fondness, for he thought love was too pure to exist), but stronger, more substance on it and he felt himself almost willing it into existence, wanting so badly to see it for himself, its graceful dance among the trees seeking its connection in the dark.
“You believe me, then?”
He felt detached, his own body of no concern anymore, the pain had numbed to a steady throb in the back of his mind and he foggily thought that maybe this should alarm him, but his mind was too busy following the connections path thorough the forest. It was more than beautiful, it felt like a desperate calling to finally see its destination, to finally know, really know in a way which that kiss had only hinted. And as it went further and further he could feel it overflowing, thickening, solidifying until it finally reached its goal and connected, without hesitation this time, in a dull thump to the chest of General Hux. He imagined how Hux's eyes widened slightly and his lips parted in an inaudible gasp at the strange intrusion, his hands almost trying to grasp the glowing ribbon, even slightly bending over as if he was in pain.
“Kiss me, Ren.”
The contact had immediately crystallised the wisp, like the compact asteroid belt of a gigantic planet but vibrating – no, humming now, he realised with a start, with the slowing thumps of his heart. He wanted to linger on it but he almost didn’t have the energy anymore to marvel at the idea of his heart laid so bare. Did Hux know this? Had Hux seen this before, this vibration travelling though the ribbons? Did he feel it? Would he feel it when they would fade. Would he feel the last... thump?
Breathing was harder now, the cold burning his lungs like bad chemicals and every breath was shallower than the previous one, like his lungs no longer had the strength to contract and expand. He would soon be out of breath but even that no longer seemed like a great concern, only... that if this was his last breaths then he should use that to tell Hux; what, he didn't know, and all the unsaid things swirled in his head like an impending storm.
“Respect, concern, trust”
He wanted to see Hux, to see those arrogant eyes linger on him like he was someone, see those lips curl into a knowing smirk and the thought froze into desperate determination as he lay there watching the thick ribbon of grass green curling, rippling and pulsing in beat with his ever slowing heart.
“we don’t have all the time in the galaxy”
He focused on the pulse trying to stay in rhythm, trying to stay in the now, trying to hold on if just for a little longer for he could feel the darkness closing in, stepping out of the woods, towards him. He tried not to think about it, putting everything he had left into that insane connection he knew Hux would see and suddenly the bright strong ribbon was joined by several other colours; peachy pink, saturated blood-red, deep forest green and the deepest indigo, bleeding like rain over it all and it was like nothing he had ever seen before.
The entire sky was dancing in rapture while the earth shook harder, more threatening, beneath him and he thought again of all the things he had never said as his vision was blurring and fading, the presence at the corner of his eye now looming ever closer, and he begged. Begged for more time, just a little more time, but darkness was now over him and darkness does not wait and death does not listen, it just takes, and takes and...
Death reached out for him, placing a leather-gloved hand on his injured shoulder, squeezing hard, painfully, and catching his last breath in his lungs he thought that maybe death might not be so horrible after all since it had the eyes of a forest in rain and flaming hair and when it spoke it said his name so softly his heart hurt, inexplicably, tugging at the centre of what was him. “...Ben... I have come for you, Ben...Ben...Ben“ it was so beautiful he wanted to cry.
“en...Ren...REN...KYLO REN...open your eyes you PUNK ASS BITCH” the sudden change from soothing to harsh grated in his head like sand, tugging at something important, something warm, but he was so cold, so cold, and he would just like to lie there and...
“KYLO REN, you open your eyes this very minute or I WILL kill you” the loud whiplash voice now shouting in his ear was so different from the smooth seductive voice from before that sheer curiosity made him stare wide-eyed.
Death was looming over him, staring him right in the face, and he had the stern angelic face of General Hux, illuminated in waves of grass-green that created an almost subliminal aura around him. His eyes as bright green as the light of the ribbon now connecting them. He wished he could smile, he would like to smile at death, maybe as a final defiance (or was it a final acceptance?) but his attention was completely absorbed by the ridiculously abundant ribbon now erupting from his chest. Like a solar flare, a gigantic ejection of bright green fondness (or was it really something else? Something more... profound.) pounding and crackling in beat with his rapidly cooling heart, extending and filling the entire darkened sky.
Then death spoke to him again and he thought he knew that voice which had now gone softer, almost pleading “Look what you have done, you stupid boy. I demand that you stop this very instant...” and he sluggishly thought that it was strange that death should sound so much like his Hux. “...please...” and then death embraced him in warms arms, leaning in and kissing his frozen unmoving lips and Kylo found himself breathing out that last breath he had been holding, into the warm kiss and as the brittle snowflakes on his face melted from the heat, he thought that he had never seen or felt anything like this before, and maybe... just maybe... that was enough.
“... snowfall makes no noise, falls as forgetting falls, flake after flake.”