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Off the Rails

Chapter Text

Hux cringed as he watched a green faced Mitaka heave into the trash receptacle before straightening up and facing Hux. The man was swathed in sweat, and his complexion resembled the chartreuse colored wallpaper that once decorated his grandmother's sitting room. Apart from the traumatic childhood memories it brought back, it was not a color a human should be.

Mitaka clearly wasn't faking this as he stood swaying before Hux with glassy eyes and a determined expression. Phasma stood behind him looking unimpressed by the whole spectacle. She was the one who found him getting sick in the private suite he was supposed to butler.

“Were you ill this morning?” Hux asked, trying to withhold his frown as Mitaka glanced at the garbage can again. Hux would murder him if he was sick all over his polished boots.

Hux had had to deal with Mitaka too many times already on this trip. The young butler had been given the honor of servicing the Royal Suite car which was currently being rented out for use by the son of a diplomat who was on a sabbatical. It should have been an honor that Mitaka cherished, but every time he exited the car he complained about their prestigious guest.

Frankly, it was bad for business, and now Mitaka was before him ill with only ten minutes before Master Ren was supposed to return and fifteen minutes before they were supposed to be off for another leg of the journey through several European countries. The trip itself had begun in Hungary and would eventually end in Italy.

“I believed it would pass, sir. Just a touch of food poisoning,” Mitaka said, biting his bottom lip as he finished.

Hux sneered. “So, you planned to just continue to be ill in our most famed cabin while your charge served himself? Unacceptable, Mr. Mitaka. You are dismissed. Phasma will see you to an unoccupied compartment to recuperate,” Hux told him. He would've liked to lecture the butler further, but there simply wasn't enough time.

Hux went over to the personnel roster he kept in his office. He'd been running trains long enough that he'd seen just about everything at this point. It was frustrating to deal with, but it was his job as conductor.

He browsed the personnel they had on this leg of the journey and cursed internally. He had no one with enough seniority or experience to take Mitaka's position in the Royal Suite. Hux was still attempting to rework the entire schedule when Phasma walked back in.

“I just received word that Kylo Ren will be arriving in two minutes,” she said, stepping beside Hux and examining his scribbles. “What is your plan, Conductor?” she asked when she couldn't understand his scratch.

Hux bit the inside of his cheek and stood up straight. “You shall be taking over my duties, and I will attend to Mr. Ren in the Royal Suite. You'll need to contact the company and arrange for another experienced butler to join us at the stop in two days time,” Hux told him, making the decision as he spoke. He'd butlered in private cars before. He hadn't done so in years, as he'd been in charge for several years now.

“Of course, sir,” she said, nodding firmly then stepping out of his way.

Hux went into his compartment and gathered his belongings. He didn't keep much on the train. He had the logs and records he needed to run the train properly. He had his toiletries and a book and tablet. He had multiple spare uniforms. That was it.

Gathering those things into his bag, he quickly marched toward the Royal Suite. The extravagant car was often rented out by the richest and most powerful men and women in the world. The train itself was a luxury vacation on rails. It was the finest of the First Order's trains, and Hux was the youngest senior conductor to ever run it.

Hurrying through the narrow corridors of the train, Hux smoothed down his uniform to perfection. He pounded in the code for entrance to the private car and hurried into the quarters that Mitaka had just vacated.

The room still smelled of sick even with the windows open and the warm breeze blowing in. He cringed, but he put his belongings down and gave himself a look in the mirror. Everything was in place, just in time for Ren to arrive.

Hux stepped out of the car entrance and nodded to Ren's entourage. Ren had been adamant that they did not travel in his car with him. Hux understood the desire to travel without the constant scrutiny of his bodyguards, especially when one looked as capable of protecting himself as Ren.

Ren walked behind his group of six bodyguards and assistants like a storm cloud. He was dressed sharply in a black suit with a black vest and shirt, but even with his sleeves rolled up he didn't look approachable. The scar awkwardly bisecting his face only added to the ominous aura around the man.

Hux knew that Ren received the wound protecting his mother from a crazed person that opposed her policies. The papers had called the man troubled, but more troubling had been how he'd smuggled in a massive hunting knife to a public engagement of a diplomat. The fact that Ren wasn't blinded was called a miracle by the press. Most people were more of the opinion that it was a miracle he'd protected his mother since their relationship was notoriously fractured.

Hux clasped his hands behind his back and stood up completely straight as Ren approached the car.

“Welcome back, Master Ren. It is the hope of the entire staff that your engagement was a success. Mr. Mitaka is ill, so I will be taking over as butler of the Royal Suite. It will be my pleasure to see to your needs. You may call me Hux,” Hux gave the speech he'd given hundreds of times before.

Ren just walked past him into the luxurious train car, showing no acknowledgment to Hux and not so much as bidding his entourage farewell. Only one other member of the group entered the car behind Ren, quickly scanning it before stepping off again.

“Contact us if anything is amiss,” Ren's assistant told him. The dark haired woman with eyes so deep brown she almost looked possessed gave him a sharp once over before nodding. “Mr. Ren is not to be disturbed between the hours of ten and seven unless there is an emergency. No matter what you hear coming from his rooms, you are not to disturb him. His medications are to be presented at breakfast. He is to be observed until they are taken, then you are to leave him until he is finished. You are to fulfill his every request unless he demands controlled substances. Do you understand, Mr. Hux?” she asked him.

“I am acquainted with Mr. Ren's specific needs. I will see that his needs are met to the standard of First Order policy which is second to none,” Hux replied.

“Excellent. Have a good trip, Mr. Hux,” she said, stepping back and motioning for the rest of the entourage to follow her.

Hux watched them walk down the platform to their own car. When the platform was clear, he looked up at Phasma and nodded. He heard a crash from within his car as he stepped up inside. The door shut behind him as Phasma gave the signal that they would be departing.

Ren was in the lounge area of the car which was ornately decorated with plush furniture and curtains. The color palate was rich though quite heavy. It was a little too baroque for Hux's tastes, but it certainly made one feel like royalty.

Papers were scattered across the floor, and Ren was pounding his fists on the card table in front of one of the grand windows. Hux held his tongue. It was not his place to comment on his patron's behavior even if it was destructive. He waited beside the door for an order or a dismissal.

He watched as the massive man slammed his fist down on the table several times before grabbing the deck of cards placed on it and hurling them across the room. Playing cards drifted through the air like confetti, lending a surreal quality to the man's anger.

Hux continued to hold his tongue as Ren stood in the middle of the room seething. “I'm taking a shower. I am not to be disturbed,” Ren barked, finally acknowledging Hux's presence. “I expect this room to be clean when I am finished.”

With those orders given, he retreated to the master suite and slammed the door behind him. Hux waited until the door was firmly closed before rolling his eyes. He didn't miss the dramatic behavior of clients now that he oversaw all operations instead of the needs of single cars.

Hux made quick work of tidying the lounge again. He picked up the papers and organized them on the desk. He picked up the cards and put them back in order, getting down on his hands and knees to find the Jack of Spades which was hiding underneath the chaise. He brought them to his own quarters and replaced them with a fresh deck.

Inspecting the compartment to ensure that it was just as tidy as prior to Ren's entrance if not tidier, Hux went through the itinerary for the rest of the evening. He quickly made a mental list of the things that needed doing.

He was grateful that there was no screaming coming from the master suite, nor was there any other noises. Hux hoped that Ren simply tired himself out and was enjoying the magnificent bathing facilities the car offered.

When Hux was satisfied that the lounge was immaculate, he returned to his room at the front of the car and reread Mr. Ren's schedule. He noted that they were approaching his afternoon aperitif, so he went to the small bar in the corner of the lounge and checked that all of the spirits were stocked.

Once certain that everything was in order, Hux stood beside the bar and waited for Ren to finishing refreshing himself. He watched the scenery as they passed it. He'd been working this line for so long that he often neglected to take the time to look out the windows and experience what the line was famed for. They'd left the city behind and were weaving their way through the countryside.

It was over an hour after disappearing that Ren opened the door to his rooms. Hux could feel the wet heat from the shower as it poured out of the suite. Ren stepped out of the room wearing a pair of black linen pants and a matching long sleeved shirt that hung loose over his impressive upper body. His feet were bare, and his hair hung in lank black strands—still wet from the shower.

Hux noted that his face was scrubbed raw, and his eyes were rimmed red as though he'd been crying. He made no comment about Ren's state of mind, instead preparing the drink Ren's assistant's note said he favored. He garnished the glass and walked over to the cleaned card table that Ren sat at.

Ren didn't acknowledge Hux as he placed down the beverage. He picked up the glass and downed the contents in one gulp. Hux was appalled, and his disgust was only added to as Ren held out the glass for another.

He never spoke to Hux, just holding out his glass and expecting the silent order to be met. Hux refilled the glass three times in less than thirty minutes before Ren's shoulders lost some of their tension, and he looked out the window seemingly lost in his own thoughts.

Hux stood at the ready beside the bar as the car rocked gently as they traversed miles and miles of track. Ren just sat quietly watching the world outside until the sun began to set over the flat landscape.

“Would you care for dinner, Master Ren?” Hux asked as the light dimmed.

“I'm not hungry,” Ren replied, getting up from his seat. He pointed at the glass again as he walked toward his suite. “Just Sambuca with an ice cube this time. Three fingers. Place it on my bedside table,” Ren said, walking into his suite and leaving the door open.

Hux frowned at the request, but he grabbed a new glass and placed a single ice cube in it before pouring the large drink. He walked into the bedroom and placed it on the nightstand before turning down the bed for Ren. He retreated from the room, closing the door behind himself and returning to the bar.

After about five minutes, loud music began to play within the suite. Hux wasn't familiar with the artist, but they sounded angry and much of their vocals were just screams. They suited the man within the room.

Hux continued to stand at his post as it was only seven o'clock, but his eyes widened as other noises began to filter out from the suite. Hux stood still as he heard rhythmic pounding on the wall the suite shared with the lounge, and grunts could be heard when the music switched tracks. Hux tried not to speculate as to what was going on on the other side of the wall, but it became abundantly clear when Ren unleashed a relentless scream then the room went silent, music and all.

Hux checked his watch. It still had several hours until he was ordered not to disturb Ren. He debated whether the should check on his charge, but before he could come to a decision, Ren paged him.

Hux walked to the door of the suite and knocked twice as was customary. “Enter,” Ren ordered, and Hux opened the door to the suite and stepped inside. It was dark within the room, save for the meager twilight coming through the window as the curtains had yet to be drawn.

“How may I assist you, Sir?” Hux asked dutifully. He could make out Ren's form on the queen sized bed, but he could see little else.

“I require yogurt and grapes, a glass of sparkling water, and a warm hand towel,” Ren requested.

“Of course, Sir,” Hux replied, stepping back out of the room and closing the door behind him. He supposed that any food was a good request after how much Ren had had to drink on an empty stomach. Though he assured himself that Ren had to have eaten during his excursion off of the train. Some of the best parts of the stops were tasting the local foods.

Hux quickly gathered what Ren required and carried it to the room before knocking again. When he was given permission to enter, Ren was no longer in the bed but once again in the master bath. Hux left what was requested and saw himself out.

The car was silent for another twenty minutes before the music started again. Hux stood at attention as different sounds filtered out of the suite. Hux tried to ignore it, but the sound of something hitting flesh gave him pause. He walked toward the door to ask if Ren was alright, but then Ren's moan penetrated the thick compartment wall and Hux hurried back to his station in disgust.

When the noises stopped again, Hux stood silently. Once again after several minutes he was paged. Hux went to the door and knocked.

“Vanilla ice cream and two bananas, scar ointment, and another glass of water,” Ren ordered through the door instead of inviting Hux in.

Hux went and retrieved the items. It took some searching, but he found the ointment in the study on the desk that housed Ren's laptop and work. He brought the items to the door on a tray and knocked again.

Once again, Ren was in the bathroom when Hux entered. Hux placed them down on the nightstand and removed the remains of the previous request. Before he could retreat, Ren's voice boomed from the bathroom.

“Bring me the ointment,” he commanded through the door.

Hux picked up the small tube and walked to the door. He knocked once, and it opened before he could knock again. The light was dim within, and while Hux did not look directly inside, he could see that Ren was naked within and, unless his eyes deceived him, the facial scar was not the only one he had nor was it the worst.

“That is all,” Ren snapped as he grabbed the ointment from Hux's hand and slammed the door in his face. Hux simply turned and gathered his tray before returning to his station.

Periodically, Ren would ask for things between bouts of noise. None were particularly odd, but they didn't make much sense either. How the man could want yogurt, ice cream, apple sauce and pudding in the span of one evening was bizarre to Hux's tastes.

By the time Hux retreated to his personal room, he was exhausted and barely finished his log before falling asleep on his narrow bunk. The noise was still going at the other end of the car, but Hux slept through it.

He got approximately forty-five minutes of sleep before he was paged. He dressed quickly and marched across the cabin to Ren's door, knocking twice, and waiting for orders.

“Coffee, strong and black,” Ren demanded.

Hux brewed the coffee and brought it to the door. Ren, as usual, was hiding in the bathroom when Hux stepped inside. Hux bit his tongue about Ren being as shy as a virgin. The room was lit this time, and Hux noted that the bed sheets were messy and half off the bed. He straightened them once he set out the cup of coffee.

He noticed blood on the towel he'd brought to Ren, but he ignored it. He would deal with it in the morning when he refreshed the room as Ren worked.

“May I assist you in any other way, Sir?” Hux asked before leaving.

“No,” Ren barked, so Hux left without looking back.

He received another forty minutes of sleep before being summoned again to change the bed sheets which were covered in sweat and coffee and possibly blood. Hux said nothing as he stripped the bed and retreated to get a second set of sheets. Ren was hidden away as he redressed the bed and turned it down. Hux took it upon himself to place a glass of water beside the bed before he retreated.

At least once an hour, Hux was summoned for one task or another, until it got to the point that Hux couldn't fall back to sleep as he anticipated the next call. By the time the sun rose over the open landscape, Hux was running on fumes and determined that Ren would be the death of him. Perhaps he had been too hard on Mitaka. Ren was certainly a handful.