The hallway that lead to the Holochamber where audiences with the Supreme Leader were held was a long and narrow one. Claustrophobically so, especially compared with the spacious and lofty chamber. There was the platform before the dark, hazy hologram, the narrow catwalk, and then beyond the blast doors was this ridiculous hall. Hux supposed he could look up an accurate measurement, but if he was asked to give an estimate, he would say it was about fifty feet from the entrance of the chamber to the end of the hall where the guards were stationed.
Hux questioned the necessity of such a long hall, not to mention the guards. One would think the notion of angering the head of the First Order, a being who could control mystical forces and asphyxiate a man with a thought would be deterrent enough. What sort of idiot would burst into Supreme Leader Snoke’s private audience chamber, hack the communications controls, and bother such a powerful man on a whim? Still, the design was what it was, and General Hux was not going to question it. Not verbally, at any rate. His place was to obey, not to question, when it came to anything involving the Supreme Leader.
When his most recent audience with Snoke had ended, Hux left the chamber, grateful to step into a decently lit area again, and he gave himself permission to breathe freely again as he took quick strides down the hall. Even if there was no practical purpose for it, Hux found the walk gave him just enough time to steel his nerves again and refocus on what needed to be done. Engineering was behind schedule. Casualties had left several platoons in need of fresh Stormtroopers. Several consoles needed replacing after an unfortunate run in with Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber.
As for the Knight of Ren, who had also been present, Hux ignored him. They only spoke when necessary and the moments after their audiences with the Supreme Leader were no different. Outside of exchanging tense, curt, orders or sharing information, they never spoke and certainly never went out of their way to seek out the other’s company. They would walk away and be content if they did not have to interact until their next meeting.
Which was part of the reason it was so shocking when Hux suddenly could not move his legs.
He had been midstride, balanced precariously on the toes of one foot and the heel of the other. His first instinct was to fight the invisible bonds that held him in place, the second was to look down and make sure his body was still attached. He tried to look down at least but found he could not move. His face remained fixed, staring straight ahead.
Hux continued his attempts to struggle as he heard the blast doors close behind him. He could hear another pair of boots on the polished floors. He ought to have known it was Ren. His body jerked as he tried to turn to confront him, shout at him for having the audacity to use his strange magic on him. It was bad enough he used it on lower ranked officers and troopers who displeased him, but this was beyond the pale. Hux wanted to spin on his heels and deck Ren in his masked face.
The footsteps stopped and Hux felt an unfamiliar warmth radiating behind him. How close was Ren? He wanted to turn and check, but his neck had other ideas. He was the furthest from amused he had ever been in his life. He tried to bark his displeasure at Ren.
So his tongue and jaw were being held as well. Just how much of his body could Ren shut down? His lungs? His heart? His brain? His anger was checked by fear as the thought of Ren being able to give him an aneurism without lifting a finger suddenly occurred to him.
“General,” Ren said at last.
Hux tried to ignore the warmth at his back. He focused on Ren’s voice. It was different, lighter, breathy, though that might have been because he was keeping his voice low. He heard something that sounded like a sniffle and hoped Ren did not have a bloody cold. The last thing he needed was Ren literally snivelling all over him.
Hux tried to reply. He tried to say something flippant and witty. It came out as a string of strangled consonants through gritted teeth, “R…l…g…”
He saw something through the corner of his eye. Long, slender fingers approaching the side of his face. Hux tried to move, wanted to move as he watched them out of the corner of his eye. He had seen Ren read minds before. He knew what was happening.
Hux had no experience with this Force or how to defend against it, but he had a feeling that the loudest thoughts were the ones Ren would hear first. His mind snapped back to self defense classes. If an opponent had every advantage; distract or stun the assailant to break free and make a hasty retreat. Hux thought as loudly as he could on an image or train of thought that might throw Ren off if he penetrated his mind. He brought every atrocity he had ever witnessed in battlefield simulations to the surface of his mind.
It seemed to work. Ren faltered and the fingers drew back slightly. Hux would have smirked if he could move his lips. He thought harder, more violent, something that Ren would not want to sift through, something so foul that it might just break his hold.
That was when it happened. Ren touched him. His fingers settled over Hux’s temple with disturbing and entirely unwelcome gentleness.
It ought to have been nothing. In any other circumstance with anybody else Hux would have had them court marshaled and sent for reconditioning. But here, being held fast, Hux could not even squirm.
He fought harder, and in his desperation his thoughts became less focused. He felt a strange tingling sensation run down his spine and across his shoulders. Unable to move he was hyperaware of everything. Ren’s fingers. The rhythm of his breathing. Not muffled, he must have taken that stupid helmet off. Heat was still seeping through his coat and into his skin.
Ren was roughly two inches taller than Hux. Three with the helmet and three and a half with the hood. He seemed much larger than that now. Hux could feel him breathing, close to his left ear, sending more of those shivers down his back. More than that, Hux could swear he could feel Ren’s eyes on him, and he disliked it immensely.
His breath hitched involuntarily as Ren’s fingers moved, snaking from his temple through the hair just over his ear. They were shaking. Hux tried to focus on that. Ren’s hand was shaking. Like a child, he must have been testing the limits of what he could and could not get away with. He must have known somewhere in that thick, helmeted skull of his that this was far beyond what would be tolerated.
The knight continued, raking his trembling fingers through Hux’s hair, “For all your efforts, your rank, your training, you can’t resist me.”
Hux desperately wanted to shake off Ren’s hand as it trailed down to the nape of his neck.
Ren’s face came into view through the corner of Hux’s eye. It was not the first time seeing his face, long, a large uneven nose, moles, hair that had long since outgrown regulation length. The look in his eyes caught Hux’s attention though. He was not making eye contact, an out of place display of submissiveness. His dark eyes would move up and down, glancing briefly at Hux’s face, ignoring the eyes before moving down again. It was hardly the look he expected from someone who had the upper hand.
Ren continued, keeping his voice low, “You act like you’re more powerful than you are.”
He knew he was still in danger, but Hux now felt more secure than he had been. Ren was clearly nervous, keeping out of the guard’s earshot, refusing to make eye contact, his hand, making another pass through his hair, was shaking. Whatever this was, vindictive, gloating, or experimental as it was, it did not seem likely to end in violence.
That was a small comfort though as Ren’s face moved closer, leaning down slightly to look straight at his face. Ren’s nerves were causing him to breathe loudly through his mouth, to constantly purse and chew at his lips, eyes flicking up and down skittishly as he petted the General.
The great Kylo Ren had subdued him with all his mystical strength to stroke his hair and whisper idle threats? If this this was a power trip it was a strange one. Ren seemed more nervous than pleased with his actions. Why would he do this if he disliked it? Hux thought about the beating he would lay on Ren if only he could get his limbs free.
“Stop,” said Kylo, warningly, “You know you can’t fight this.”
He’s saying that, but everything in his body language speaks to the contrary, Hux thought to himself, careful to try to keep his analysis quiet. Thankfully Ren did not seem to notice those thoughts and continued, “You have no idea how infuriating it is to hold back.”
Then what was he hesitating for? It was as if Ren was trying to convince himself of the truth in his words. Hux tried to break off the connection again. He thought of his old drill instructor screaming in his face. It was not as violent as what he had used before, but it was sharp and sudden enough a noise that it briefly startled Ren into flinching away.
“Stop,” Ren hissed. He reached out and tilted Hux’s jaw. They were face to face now, but Ren’s eyes kept dipping down or darting to the side. He was frustrated, clearly, but there was something else. Kylo wanted something, or had something to say, but he was hesitating. The suspense and curiosity drove Hux more insane than the finger Kylo used to trace his mouth. Ren continued, “Be quiet, I’m trying to…”
Trying to what? There was nothing to be gained from this, nothing at all. He wondered briefly, if he could startle Ren perhaps he might get enough leverage to bite his fingers. It would be undignified, but it was all he had to work with.
Ren’s hand trailed downwards and Hux tried to think of anything that was not the prospect of being strangled. He thought of the time a TIE fighter nearly crashed into the bridge, the fear as it suddenly hurtled towards him and the scramble to get the gunners to shoot it down before it collided into them. Ren’s eyes narrowed and his fingers closed around Hux’s throat, “Stop!”
There was another sudden shift. Ren almost immediately loosened his grip, hands shaking again as he pulled back and stroked Hux’s jawline with the back of his fingers, almost apologetically. He went back to breathing heavily through his mouth and averting his eyes.
“You can’t fight me,” said Ren, his voice slightly higher pitched than it usually was. Nerves would do that. His fingers trailed down and hooked into Hux’s collar, “You know you can’t win, so…let…let me…"
Hux’s eyes widened. This frightened him. More so than being killed, which made no sense at all. He had never been faced with this scenario and had never prepared for it. He had never assumed anyone would have the strength or audacity to hold him down and force themselves on him. He knew it happened to other people, but he never imagined he would be singled out as a target. That he would ever be weak enough to be selected as a victim.
And why was Ren hesitating? He clearly had few to no moral scruples. He could kill anyone who caught him in the act, or scramble their brains beyond functionality so what? Was it the scenario itself? In classes on behavioural analysis Hux had learned that felons who operated based on ritual or trying to recreate a fantasy would not, could not, act unless everything was perfect.
He remembered the strain in Ren’s voice. That must have been it. Kylo was waiting for consent. If he held out long enough, resisted enough, then perhaps…
Hux focused his thoughts, ‘No. I don't want this.’
“You’ll like it,” Kylo whispered insistently. Hux wondered which of them he was trying to convince. The knight raised his hand raked it through Hux’s hair again, “I can feel how much you enjoy it when I do this.”
Whether or not he had enjoyed the first human contact outside of the odd handshake he had felt in years was irrelevant. Hux tried again, in his desperation rambling disjointedly, ‘I don’t like this, I don’t want this. There is no point to this. Why are you-’
“Because you act so damned untouchable. Now...now you had better stop lying to me, General, or else…or else I'll...”
That was likely the most childish thing Hux had ever heard, and if Ren had not been freezing him in place, threatening him and carressing him against his will, Hux would have laughed in his face. Perhaps if he had been able to Ren would have seen how ridiculous his behaviour was and might have backed off. Hux felt large, shaky hands slip under his arms to hold either side of his hips and all thoughts of laughing disappeared. He was thankful for the layers of uniform clothing that separated Ren from his skin. None the less, shivers shot down his back again. Hux felt small, powerless, and he hated it. His breath quickened. All he could do was repeat, ‘No!’
He tried to keep them out of his thoughts, the ‘I don’t want this’ and ‘I don’t like this’ that Ren took so much umbrage to. He must have failed. A hand shot to his jaw to tilt his face up again, “I told you to stop lying!”
Hux stiffened. Ren had not spoken, his lips had not moved. Ren was inside his head.
Hux expected gloating. He expected Ren to show him moments of humiliation, pain, trauma, or some long buried weakness to be thrown in his face. He did not expect to see Ren’s thoughts and memories. Hux saw himself, as plainly as if he was looking in a mirror. There were feelings of frustration but they were mottled and twisted around attraction. Then curiosity. What did he feel like? What would he look like without that uniform?
‘No!’ Hux repeated. He focused on it, just the one word, as strong as he could make it.
Ren was becoming more frustrated and now Hux could feel disjointed emotions bouncing around in his mind. Lust, embarrassment, fear...and longing.
The thoughts assaulted Hux’s brain relentlessly, all of them accompanied by short, blurred, dreamt up images. Kisses, touching, the eeriness of what Ren thought it would sound like when he moaned. Ren’s voice sounded in his head, “Stop fighting me!”
Hux pushed through it all, the confusion of standing face to face with Ren while his other senses were convinced he was laying on his back. Ren’s hands, white hot on his side and neck, Ren’s thoughts and feelings of desire being implanted in his mind. All obstacles to break through as he concentrated as hard as he could.
‘I. SAID. NO.’
Kylo stopped. Had he won? Ren’s hands remained on his side and the back of his neck. His dark eyes flashed to the side, but without hesitation. It was as if he were looking at something, someone, listening intently. He glanced back at Hux, briefly, before turning his eyes back to whatever it was that had his attention. Ren sighed, a childish, dejected noise and took his mask from his belt. In doing so he took his hands off of Hux, who would have shivered from the sudden cold if he had been able.
“My master says I’m not to distract you,” said Ren, coldly, clinically, nothing like before. He gave Hux one final look before replacing his mask, “We’ll discuss this later.”
He turned on his heel and was a good twenty paces ahead before Hux lurched forward, stumbling into a standing position after being released. Immediately he brushed his hair back into place, trying to erase the feelings of Ren’s hands on him before he replaced his cap. It did not take long to calm himself, the ability to make decisions and stay focus under stress was imperative for an officer. He thought of what needed to be done and pushed all thoughts of Ren and what might have just happened between them aside. Engineering was behind, they needed double efforts to get back on schedule. Recruits needed to be sent for and deceasement notifications needed to be sent out.
He moved forward, his breathing evening out. He checked the timestamp on the datapad in his pocket to see how much time had been wasted. Three minutes? Strange, it felt longer than that. The guards saluted as he passed, Hux waved his hand, a wordless command to continue as they were.
Because that was all there was for it, wasn’t there? Don’t question it, move forward, and keep to schedule.
Phasma clapped a hand to her forehead, causing a loud clang to sing out as her glove collided with her helmet.
“Please tell me you didn’t try to seduce the General.”
Ren was a blubbering mess, tears and snot pouring down his face as he pathetically whimpered, “I did…”
Phasma sighed, “Well, at least you didn’t pin him down with the Force against his will and try to coerce him into-”
Ren let out a gross sob and Phasma’s eyes widened in disbelief, “Oh…”
Kylo was clutching a blanket and pillow under his arm. Guess he’s staying over tonight, Phasma thought to herself. She wondered though, “Lord Ren…what exactly made you think the General would like…that approach?”
Ren released the pillow and blanket under his arms and pulled a small booklet from his belt. It had actual pages, it might have been an antique. Ren read aloud through hiccups and sobs, “Sometimes a girl starts off by saying you can’t do certain things but then she gets turned on and she changes her mind and lets you go to town. So keep trying, you never know when a no can turn into a yes.” He hiccupped, “I th-thought maybe h-he was p-playing hard to g-get.”
That was the worst dating advice Phasma had ever heard. The author deserved to be dragged out into the streets and shot. Ren stood in the hall, clutching his very, very flawed manual and sobbing. He blubbered pathetically, “Can I stay with you tonight?”
Phasma stepped out of the doorway and heaved another sigh, “Come in.”
This was going to be a long night.