There is barbarian blood in Ren. The Emperor is sure of it.
Ren refuses to discuss his parentage, saying only that he is a Roman slave born of Roman slaves, but he looks like no slave Hux has ever seen. Hux can easily picture Ren's mother as some beautiful, untamed princess of Gaul or Britannia or some other hinterland, where men like Ren live like beasts and lie in the open air with their beefy women and with each other. Hux finds the notion thrilling. He himself also possesses distinctive looks. His red hair and pale skin mark Hux out as exotic, different from past emperors, even his own father. Some see this as proof he is a pretender to the throne, but Hux is not offended by the notion. If it wasn't his looks, there would be some other reason for people to want him dead. Emperors of Rome don't tend to live long, no matter what they look like.
While there are many dangers to being emperor, it's a job that also comes with a considerable number of benefits. One such benefit is the Imperial baths, which Hux can fill with beautiful people, slaves and aristocrats alike, or enjoy alone, as he prefers. This evening, he's enjoying them alone, sweating away his many concerns in the indulgent calidarium, a bottle of fine wine at hand. He lies back, floating across the length of the narrow marble pool. It's dark outside, the room lit by braziers which bounce shadows off the stone walls. The heat has created condensation on the walls as well as on Hux's skin, and he peers upward, at the silhouettes flickering over the sweat-sheen of water on the ceiling tiles.
Abruptly, the door opens. A blast of relatively cool air fills the room. Hux sits upright on an underwater bench, keeping his shoulders beneath the water to avoid the chill. Two guards enter, shepherding Ren between them like a couple of farm dogs.
Hux has been tempted once or twice, usually when in the throes of post-orgasmic bliss, to tell the guards to allow Ren the run of his palace, but that would be unwise. More than one emperor has met his end at the hands of someone he thought he could trust, and Hux isn't even sure how trustworthy Ren is. He smiles, though, when Ren's hulking and sullen form appears before him.
“You may leave us,” Hux commands the guards. He has a knife secreted under water, hidden between the stones. Just in case.
The guards go. Hux expects Ren to remove his rough loincloth and slip into the water. Instead, he stays where he is. “Are you awaiting an invitation?” Hux asks, amused. “You must forgive me. I'm not used to you displaying respect.”
“You weren't at the Colosseum today,” Ren replies, insolently. So, not respect after all, then.
“No. I'm afraid I do, on occasion, have to attend to tasks slightly more important than amusing myself there. Even when you are fighting.”
“I ripped a man's heart out. You'd have enjoyed it.”
Ren is right. Hux will never admit it. “I hope he was no one expensive. Your master will receive complaints.” Ren's master and trainer, the well-known Snoke, complains as well, it seems, mostly because Ren is sharing Hux's bed on a regular basis without receiving payment. Naturally, these complaints are not made to the emperor himself. Snoke wouldn't dare.
“Just some prisoner. Didn't matter. The crowd loved it, though.”
“I'm sure they did.” Hux can picture Ren standing victorious, the blood of his enemy on his hands like a true savage.
“You have to be there for the next one. I'm fighting a gladiatrix.”
“Is that sporting?” Ren shrugs. “Well,” Hux continues, “I suppose it should be novel, at least. Do you plan to rape her as your grim finale?” Hux is conflicted by the thought. Unlike some of his predecessors, Hux does have some moral standards, and watching Ren rape a screaming, or, worse yet, insensate woman in front of thousands falls below them. But on the other hand, the idea of seeing Ren's truly applause-worthy cock displayed in public for all to see and admire makes him shiver even beneath the warm water.
“No.” Ren replies, as if he'd never even considered it. Liar, Hux thinks. “They've brought her in from the provinces. Jakku, I think.” Hux knows little of Jakku, beyond that it's very far away and full of sand and religious fanatics. “She's meant to be the best. I'm still going to win,” he adds, quickly. “But I don't expect it to be easy.”
“Perhaps I should give the two of you special dispensation to marry, then, after the battle. A love match between brutes. The public would lap it up.” Hux is less enthused at the thought. He is married himself, of course. He has true respect for Empress Phasma, whom he rarely sees. She spends most of her time in her apartments within the palace, reading Sappho with her beautiful female friends.
Ren makes a noise Hux chooses to interpret as derision. He has lost interest in this discussion, in any case. “Are you planning on joining me,” Hux asks, “or are you just going to stand there?”
“I'm going for a dip in the frigidarium first.”
“All right.” The frigidarium, the cold pool meant to be bracing and reinvigorating, lies two rooms away, beyond the warm-air tepidarium. When Ren returns, he has at last dropped his loincloth, revealing strong thighs and buttocks more shapely than Hux had thought could exist. His dark hair is plastered to his head and his large ears protrude comically. Hux smiles. He is not a man with “interesting” tastes. He prefers his men to be conventionally handsome, usually, but his attraction to Ren persists despite—even because, he thinks at times—the unconventional aspects of Ren's face and body.
And Ren's body is unconventional indeed. The cold water has done to Ren's manhood what it does to all men, but in his case, he has been left with a gift most would still be thrilled to own. Water drips from his body as he sits across from Hux, on a bench on the other side of the pool.
“Help yourself to some wine,” Hux offers. A familiar warmth is growing in his stomach, one that has little to do with the temperature of the water around him.
Ren drinks from the bottle. His throat works as he swallows the wine, and Hux watches, transfixed. I am lost, he thinks, when Ren wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. To cover the feeling, he snaps, “You could have used a goblet, you swine.”
“There's only one.”
Oh. “I don't mind sharing,” Hux says, annoyed with Ren and with himself.
Ren looks at him as if he may be unhinged. Maybe I am, Hux thinks. Why else would I be so obsessed with him?
It's happened before, of course. Hadrian had Antinous, Nero Poppaea Sabine, Caligula his horse. Hux, upon finally attaining the throne, had sworn he would avoid such entanglement, but mere days later, he'd attended a gladiatoral display in honour of his coronation. Ren was already a star by then, publicly acclaimed, a paid endorser of several businesses and the principal moneymaker of Snoke's stable of gladiators. Hux could see why. Ren was an exquisite fighter; Hux couldn't take his eyes off him. Ren had his man on the ground within minutes. He looked to Hux, to see if he would offer the pollice compresso, the closed fist signal to save the man's life. Hux did not. The bloodlust in Ren's eyes was unmistakable. He ran the man through with a brutal stroke. As his victim lay gasping his last, Ren looked again to Hux. There was a smile of pure enjoyment on his face. Hux smiled back, his heart pounding. He was enthralled.
But he's not about to admit that to Ren, or to anyone. He can't give up that much power. They sit in silence in the calidarium, the only sound the gentle lapping of the pool water as they shift in place. Hux wipes sweat from his brow. At the same moment, Ren looks him in the eye and says, “I want to fuck you.”
Hux laughs, out of shock rather than amusement. “Ren, I had no idea you were an orator. Tell me, do you have much time to study the works of Cicero at the stable?”
“I want to fuck you,” Ren repeats, his voice even. He has begun to sweat as well. Large droplets run down his forehead.
Hux swallows, then sneers. “What makes you think I'd allow you to debase me like that?”
“Because you want it, too. I know.” He grins, as bloodthirsty as that day in the arena when he murdered a man because Hux commanded it. “I can read your mind.”
It's a favourite joke of Ren's. That's all it is. Not even the soothsayers who claim they can predict the future—Hux has his doubts, as his father employed many, and none of them saw fit to warn him when Hux was about to strike—profess to being able to read a man's mind. A barbarian gladiator would certainly not possess the skill.
“You doubt me,” Ren says, “but don't I always know just how to please you?”
It's true. From the first time, immediately after that coronation day display, Ren has always touched Hux in exactly the ways he prefers. He's done shocking things, acts Hux would take for granted from a normal slave, but would not necessarily ask from a man in Ren's position.
Ren has sucked him, on his knees like a good, penitent subject. He's allowed Hux inside him, his powerful thighs flexing and ecstatic profanities pouring from his lips as he takes Hux's cock from above. He's even licked Hux's backside, something Hux had never experienced before, or even thought to demand from his previous partners. It is truly base, and absolutely wonderful. The sensation of Ren moving behind him, kissing and sucking at Hux's most private region, brought Hux off more quickly than anything else, and left him simultaneously humiliated and longing to feel it again, and again, as often as possible for as long as they could.
Hux scoffs. “I put that down to general experience.”
“I'm not that experienced.”
“So you say.” Hux does not require his partners to be virgins. He doesn't even prefer it. Still, Ren insists that, before Hux, he was nearly untouched. Hux finds that hard to believe. Ren knows how to do things Hux never even considered, and he is a slave with a beautiful body. Snoke would have rented him out as soon as he could find someone willing to pay for it. There would have been no shortage of clients.
“He didn't,” Ren says, as if Hux spoke the words aloud. We've had this conversation many times before, Hux tells himself. Naturally, he knows what I would say next. “Snoke respects me. He wants me to take over from him one day.”
“And you expect to live that long?” Hux intends the words to be taunting, but they come out sounding more like an entreaty. Hux is not truly concerned for Ren. In the arena, Ren can best any man, and he is more clever than he first appears. Clever enough to avoid the dangerous jealousies of his competitors, Hux has no doubt. Hux can only hope he himself is as wily.
Ren moves across the pool. The water laps in waves against the walls as Ren positions himself on the bench beside Hux. “We could talk about that,” he says, “or you could think about my proposal.”
Hux opens his mouth to reply. His words are cut off by a rough hand on his cock. “You could think about us, in your bed,” Ren goes on. The hand moves, just slightly, a callused thumb circling the head. “About you, laid out on those satin sheets of yours.” Out of spite, Hux wants to ignore him, but unbidden, the image appears in his mind, just as Ren describes it. Hux's sheets are soft and cool to the touch, even on the warmest nights. At least until Ren arrives and they both soak them with sweat. “You'd be so eager for it, I can tell. Eager enough to let me kiss you.”
“Absolutely not.” That is beyond the pale. Kissing is an act of pure, foppish weakness. He can't believe Ren would consider it, although he frequently asks, and it is something to which Hux will never acquiesce. He might as well give up his throne at the same time.
“We'll see,” Ren replies. His hand moves again, up and down. Hux's cock naturally stiffens at the attention. “You'd be panting for it,” Ren goes on, weaving his fantasy. Hux tries not to listen. It's impossible. “Writhing on your bed. I'd have to hold you down. I can do that.”
“I know.” The words slip out. Ren takes them as encouragement to continue.
“That's what you like about me. You like my strength. I'm not stupid, I don't think you keep me around for my conversation.” Hux doesn't. Although at this moment, Ren's words are more eloquent and entertaining than any Hux has heard. “I'd be careful with you, though. I wouldn't dare harm the emperor. I wouldn't want to. I'd begin gently, at first. I'd coat my hand with oil, breach you with one finger. Carefully. You'd demand more, at once, but I'd take my time.” Ren's hand moves again, his knuckles brushing Hux's testicles. Ren squeezes, just hard enough, and Hux groans despite himself. The sound echoes off the marble.
“When you were ready, I'd add a second. You'd cry out so loud your servants would come running. You'd like them to see you like that, wouldn't you? Spread out on my hand like a backstreet whore?”
“No,” Hux lies.
“Then you'd send them away. Order them to mind their own business. Order me to get on with it. You'd tell me you don't care if it hurts, you want my massive cock inside you immediately.” Strangely, Hux can imagine himself issuing such a decree. “Who am I to disobey the Emperor?”
You're nobody. Nothing. Possibly a barbarian, certainly a slave. If you died, there are a thousand men who would take your place. No one would mourn. You are expendable. But Hux could easily say the same of himself.
“Imagine it,” Ren commands, and Hux does. “How I would fill you up. How you would struggle. For a moment, you might even change your mind, but then, I would begin to move, and you would wonder how you ever lived without it.” Hux licks his lips as Ren's hand speeds up. While the fucking is the stuff of fantasy, at least so far, Ren has always been adept at bringing Hux off with his hand. Hux wonders how much time Ren has spent touching himself. Is it a furtive act at the gladiator stable, something to be hidden away? Or is it something they do proudly, in full view of one another, perhaps comparing sizes and techniques?
“Imagine it, your Highness,” Ren repeats. Hux's hand goes out, rising from the water to grip one of Ren's muscular shoulders. Ren's free hand splays across Hux's narrow chest. His tongue appears out of nowhere, tracing the edge of Hux's ear. “Imagine how it would feel to have me come inside you.”
It's disgusting, and it is just what Hux needs. He grits his teeth and shudders through his climax. Ren holds him, one hand on his cock and the other on Hux's chest, until Hux grunts in annoyance and pushes him away. A blob of white rises to the surface. Frowning in distaste, Hux splashes at the water and washes it over the edge of the calidarium.
Ren looks over, entirely too pleased with himself. He smiles, his teeth glinting in the light of the braziers. “I suppose you think that's an assent to actually go through with it,” Hux says.
“Is it not?”
Hux sighs. He stands, his feet on the slick bottom of the pool, and leans against the side, presenting his back to Ren. “In the Greek style,” he orders. That is humiliating enough. He is the leader of a vast empire, not a pretty youth. Still, Ren eagerly accepts the offer. Ren's hands land on his hips, and that impressive cock, the stuff of Hux's dreams, presses in eagerly.
Ren requires no time to prepare. Hux takes some quiet satisfaction in that, that bringing Hux off and telling him a risqué story was enough to stimulate Ren to full hardness. Ren bites Hux's shoulder as he moves in and out, his cock sliding between Hux's thighs and prodding his testicles. They have done this before, once. It did not excite Hux then, but this time, Ren's vivid imagery lingers in Hux's mind. The brush of Ren's cock against the cleft of Hux's behind feels tantalizing rather than irritating. Hux wonders what he would do if Ren took him now, without further negotiation. Ren is right; he could overpower Hux. Naturally, Hux would need to have him executed afterward, but the thought of Ren moving just slightly and thrusting into him uninvited is not as repellent as Hux would have expected.
When Ren comes, he calls Hux's name. Hux turns in his arms, ready to admonish him for such familiarity, when Ren leans forward and kisses him. Taking advantage of Hux's surprise, Ren slides his tongue into his mouth. For a fraction of a second, Hux savours it, then he pushes Ren roughly away.
“I said that is not permissible.”
“Sorry.” There is fondness rather than contrition in Ren's eyes. Hux forces himself not to see it.
“I'm getting out,” Hux says. He climbs out of the pool. The air is warmed, but still cool compared to the water, and he wraps himself in a towel. Ren emerges after him, his massive body dripping everywhere. Hux throws a towel at him, but rather than cover himself, Ren wraps it around his hair.
“Do you plan to spend the night?” Hux asks.
“If I'm allowed.” Hux does not dignify this with a reply. “I'm hungry, though. Can you get some food sent up?”
“I'll request your usual half an ox.” Hux has never known any man who could eat like Ren. He keeps it all in, as well, rather than ritually vomiting between courses like an aristocrat would.
“Better ask for a full ox.” Ren's smile grows. “I think we'll have a busy night.”
The creature approaches Hux as he emerges from the palace. There are always crowds of people there, hoping he might hear their banal supplication over those of their shouting neighbours. The guards push the horde back, as usual, but this woman is small, and Hux watches as she slips nearer. “Your Highness,” she calls out. She is clearly very old. Her eyes are tiny and squinting, her skin a strange tone, almost orange in colour. The guards move to shove her away, but, strangely intrigued, Hux holds up a hand. They stop, and the woman approaches.
“Your Highness,” the old lady says again. “I must tell you. A woman. A foreign woman is coming who will change your life. She will change everything for you. I've seen it.”
Hux sighs. Just another “soothsayer” then. “Well, don't tell my wife,” Hux replies. The guards laugh heartily.
The old lady shakes her head. “Your Highness, you must listen to me!”
A guard pushes the woman to the ground, and the party moves on. As they round the corner, Hux happens to glance at the stone wall of a nearby shop. There, amid the advertisements for bread and wine, is a poster, plastered atop the others. Our beloved hero Kylo Ren, it reads, in large letters. That is what catches Hux's eye. To fight the famous gladiatrix Rey of Jakku. Excellent match guaranteed. Good prices on all seats. Below, for those who cannot read, is a fairly accurate drawing of Ren facing a small woman.
Hm, Hux thinks, but, no. Just as Ren is not really a mindreader, no soothsayer can really predict the future. Hux forgets about the encounter and carries on with his day.