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KNIGHTS OF REN CALL HIATUS - Legendary masked metal band done for?

Hux stares at the newspaper with a half-raised eyebrow, nibbling at the blueberry muffin he’d picked up from the café downstairs. It’s curious, reading this news instead of hearing it first hand, and he’s not sure if he should bother with being annoyed. President Snoke, the only person with a position higher than his own, owned both First Order Records and the Knights of Ren, and as Vice President of the First Order, Hux assumed he would be told. Hux decides it’s probably for the best he didn’t know about this; the less he has to deal with the Knights, the better, as far as he’s concerned. Besides, the First Order didn’t manage or deal with the Knights at all. Snoke didn’t really have a reason to let him know.

The frontman, known only as Kylo Ren, has reportedly called for a hiatus as he pursues his own solo career, the article continues, and Hux snorts to himself, pulling a chunk off the top of his muffin. Kylo Ren had made quite a name for himself thanks to the Knights, who had been in the music business for ten years in some form or another. Originally a record company, the Knights became a well-known self-publishing heavy metal band instead, famous for the 7 members playing shows in full armor and being masked at all times. They all seemed to have their “specialty” in the band, be it drums, guitar, keyboard, or some other ridiculous instrument, and were known only by their first names and the surname Ren. Otherwise, every single member was draped in mystery.

Except Kylo, of course. Not only was he the singer and therefore usually the spokesman of the band in interviews and such, but he was the one who was more often in trouble for having wrecked a hotel room or decked a paparazzi. Hux could recall a dozen different stories in which Ren had made an assistant cry for not bringing the right food or had trashed whatever room he was sitting in because something hadn’t gone his way. The manager of the Knights had, of course, managed to silence 80% of these stories before the media had caught wind, but that didn’t stop everything, especially when the media had personnel getting physically accosted by the man. Kylo Ren was, in short, a constant media and managerial disaster with an ugly mask, and Hux didn’t have time for that.

The question now is: are the Knights through? Is Kylo Ren going to crash and burn? What does a solo career even look like for someone who spends most of his time standing completely still on stage in a mask and singing through a voice modulator? asked the article, and Hux shakes his head, closing the newspaper. What, indeed. He could only imagine what a train wreck that was going to be for the Rens’ manager.

The muffin is half-eaten but Hux pushes it to the side anyways, no longer interested in it; he presses a button on the phone seated on his desk, waiting patiently for it to click through. “Good morning, Susan,” he says to the intercom.

“Good morning, sir,” comes the voice of his secretary.

“I need my itinerary for the day, please.”

“Yes, sir,” replies Susan, clearly sounding confused. “Uh. Your entire schedule was cleared, remember? This morning?”

Hux licks his lips slowly, leaning forward and clicking the button again. “I’m… sorry, did you say cleared? I’m afraid I don’t remember that.”

“President Snoke emailed,” she replies quickly, clearly nervous at having to be in the middle of this. “Did… you get his email too, sir? He said he would be calling at ten..”

“Ah, of course,” Hux sighs. He tries to keep his voice lightly annoyed, as if he’d simply forgotten, instead of absolutely furious for being kept out of the loop. “I’m sorry, you’re right. Thank you,” and he clicks the button off, pressing another to block further communication. He has- a quick glance at his watch -five minutes to make himself presentable, damn it all. President Snoke was often one who tended to believe in the overly dramatic, so he shouldn’t be surprised some stupid move like this was in Snoke’s repertoire, but it didn’t make it less annoying. Someday, he would own this company, and then he wouldn’t be lost to the whims of some batty old fuck who didn’t know how to properly hold a conversation.

Hux pulls a remote out of his desk; two quick button presses and everything begins to slide into place. His office was, quite frankly, cavernous, with an absurd amount of space between his desk and the door, and windows that made up almost two entire walls. At the touch of the button, however, these massive windows begin to dim, and an equally large screen slowly descends from a hidden panel on the ceiling, covering most of the glass to the left of his desk. There’s a metallic locking noise from the great wooden doors at the front of his office as they are mechanically locked, and Hux stands, pushing his chair in. He swipes the muffin away into a trash can and tidies the newspaper, then pulls down his jacket to make sure it’s straight.

“Ridiculous,” he says aloud as the lights dim and the projector hidden in the opposite wall begins sputtering to life.

In the middle of the floor of his office is an ornate rug, meant to both offset the color of the room and show Hux where to stand. He stands on the far side of it, lining his toes with the edge with the practiced ease of a man who’s been forced to suffer this many times, and sighs in annoyance again. The most frustrating part about his office was that it was furnished before he took over; Snoke had been adamant the decorations were placed where they were for a reason. Hux was half convinced the entire room was bugged, cameras and all, but after the first year of his tenure he’d decided fuck it. If the old bastard wanted to spy on him, that was his prerogative. At least then Snoke would truly know where Hux stood on matters like, oh, say, the absolutely unacceptable meeting system.

The projector, which had been showing a blue screen as it waited for a new feed, splutters again at 10 AM on the dot as Snoke’s channel broadcasts to it. Hux pulls on his jacket again, slipping the remote into his front pocket and brushing off his pants, and falls into a parade rest, a remnant of his equally ridiculous upbringing. Snoke’s face appears first, taking up the entire screen as the old man peers into the camera. He leans back slowly, inspecting Hux with one raised eyebrow, and lounges in his overly large chair for a moment, waiting.

“President Snoke,” Hux says, in a tone that’s only just this side of revenant, as if he worshipped the man instead of lacked any proper respect. Once, perhaps, Snoke had been formidable, raising his companies and bands alone and against all odds; now that Hux was there to do the brunt of the work for him, the old bastard really just laid around collecting the cash and making asinine Skype calls apropos of nothing. Hux often wondered if Snoke actually had something he focused on, like knitting or cats or collecting stamps, and liked to amuse himself with images of Snoke tottering around some ugly old house with a thousand cats, telling them all about his newest stamp book and how the woman at the post office had been so very rude.

This image comes to Hux suddenly, and he forces himself not to move. Moving = laughing = bad.

Snoke merely waves his hand slightly at Hux’s greeting, pursing his lips and studying the camera, squinting at Hux now and again. “Have you read the news,” he finally asks after what has to be three straight minutes of this. Hux opens his mouth to reply, but Snoke holds up a finger to shush him and looks away, his bored tone more of an affront to Hux than the whole damn ordeal, “about the Knights of Ren.”

“I have, President,” Hux replies.

“Good. Then you are familiar with why I call you today.” Hux swallows. Uh-oh. “Do you remember when you came to this company?”

“..Yes, President.” Uh-oh. Oh, no.

“Your father in exile, rejected by his old friends, and trapped in a new country. So many self-proclaimed advisors told me to leave you on the side with him, but still I gave you work, hoping the great man’s touch was present in you. Hoping that whatever had been within him and been lost had taken root in you, instead.”

“Of course.” This little conversation only comes up right before Snoke says something he absolutely knows Hux has no interest in hearing. Your father in exile, your family in shambles, one brother dead, another long gone, your new life in a new nation absolutely miserable, but here I was with the golden halo offering you a hand out of the muck…. It’s an old ploy, and probably Hux’s least favorite. He much prefers having his own failures thrust at him than the reminder that he was practically riding on Daddy’s coattails, a reminder that Snoke could have left him in the dust to rot with the rest of them and whatever else. As if Snoke were the only one who would have given him work. As if Snoke alone were the last president of a records company at the time, or the First Order had been worth hearing about until Hux had taken control of it.

“I was right to do so. Your work ethic was incredible.” Hux tries not to bristle at the idea that his work ethic wasn’t still incredible. “Your results, almost miraculous. You would pull bands out of miserable anonymity and elevate them to the highest pantheon imaginable.” This is almost worse than the I saved you from failure schtick. Hux can feel his cheeks growing hot, embarrassed. He’d only done his job, as best as he knew how. Father had nothing to do with it, and honestly neither did Snoke.

“That’s kind of you,” Hux tries to interrupt, but is ignored.

“You were my best manager,” Snoke continues as if Hux had never even spoken, “and I believe you still are.” Now, of course, he pauses, waiting for the groveling Hux is sure he believes he deserves.

“..Thank you, President, I’m honored,” Hux replies after a few seconds of Snoke staring at him in silence. This absolutely feels like a setup. No- this is a setup, he just can’t see how it plays out yet. He can’t see how it relates to the Knights- and then he does, just as the words start to come out of Snoke’s mouth.

“I’m glad to hear you say that. I have a job for you.”

Hux’s stomach falls. He literally can’t recall any language strong enough to truly underline how little he wanted involved with this. “Sir, wait,” he starts, trying to mitigate before the damage is even done. “Sir, I must protest.”

“I want you to manage my apprentice, Kylo Ren, as he begins his solo career,” Snoke says, speaking over Hux. “You are the only one I think capable enough to manage it successfully, and he must be successful.”

“Sir,” Hux tries again.

“I know how much you pride yourself on your work, Vice President. Know I expect only the best.”

Sir,” Hux repeats.

“Your timetables have already been cleared for the foreseeable future. I will be handling all of your work as needed from now on; if there is anything I feel you may handle with a steadier hand, I will send it to you as you work with him.” Snoke’s eyes stare through him, and if the old bastard could make his gaze into lasers and cut through Hux, he probably would. He waits for a moment, silently daring Hux to speak up again, but Hux knows better and stays silent. The axe has already fallen, his head rolling on the ground. Hux sees no reason to batter his poor corpse with Snoke’s anger, or incur the wrath of another long-winded I made you what you are speech. “He is now your top priority, in all things. I expect you to accompany him everywhere. Media outlets, hotels, shows and parties.” Hux bites back a snide shall I sleep on his floor, too, sir? “Keep a very close eye on him; he has not had this much freedom before and I do not want him to become overwhelmed. I trust you to keep him … safe,” and it’s clear the word was a stretch to come to, as if it’s the last thing Snoke wants.

Hux has to force himself not to hiss out his response, force himself not to full-on glare up at the screen. What the fuck was he being thrown into. “Of course, President,” Hux replies quietly, a heavy feeling of doom settling itself on his shoulders.

“I have sent him to your building for your first meeting. When you are finished here, go to him, and decide what is necessary as your next step. I know he needs a band, and that he has written several songs already. Ensure they become hits.”

“Yes, President.”

“Do you understand the task I have given you? Do you understand the extent to which I expect your service?” Snoke asks, and Hux’s lips tighten. For all his long-winded you’re the best speeches, Snoke still clearly didn’t trust Hux. He seemed to think Hux was an idiot. Hux turns his face up to the screen, smiling confidently, and nods. “Excellent. As I said before, General, I expect the best.”

The projector splutters and the scene is gone, leaving a blue screen. Hux sneers at it. “Don’t fucking call me that,” he mutters to the empty room.

 

Even with Snoke gone, even with the call over, Hux finds he can’t move from where he’s standing. He takes in a slow breath through his mouth, letting it out through his nose and closing his eyes, trying to think. This could be the end of his career- no, this could be the end of everything he’s worked so hard for in the years after his father’s passing. He practically built the First Order from the ground up, and now Snoke wanted him to throw it all away on some whiny man-child who couldn’t stop himself from creating a scandal every forty-five minutes. Fucking unbelievable. Hux racks his brain, trying to think of what he must have done to require such an extreme punishment, what he possibly could have done to be thrown to the sharks. His numbers were still good, most of his bands’ popularity was holding, his managers and lower staff were all professional to the best of their abilities. There weren’t many scandals in the First Order, and what there were Hux had a way of quietly making them disappear before any damage truly took root.

As far as he could tell, he worked with all of Snoke’s best interests at heart: protecting the company, making money, collecting only the best talent in the world. The First Order was known as a prestigious (albeit mysterious and sometimes terrifying) place to work within the industry, as it was kind enough to the artists to ensure they were paid, and well. Perhaps the level of indoctrination required of new employees had gone too far, or he had chosen a band Snoke didn’t care for, but that seemed more worthy of a stern memo in retaliation instead of just destroying his entire career.

Maybe, a little voice muttered in the back of his head, Snoke had finally realized just how hard he worked and how much good he did for this company and truly believed Hux was the only one who could handle the volatile, doomed-from-the-start Kylo Ren. Maybe Snoke honestly thought it was the only way to get what Ren had probably asked for when he broke away from the group. Maybe this wasn’t supposed to end his career, but be the make-or-break proof that could lead to a full Presidency within the First Order. Maybe Ren was some precious thing, and Hux was truly the only one who could keep it safe.

Maybe pigs would fly. It didn’t make sense. None of this made sense.

Well. Fuck Snoke, and fuck his precious “apprentice”, and fuck the Knights of Ren. Fuck the whole affair. This wasn’t going to kill him; he was stronger than this, and had weathered enough scandal in his day to know just how strong he was. This Kylo Ren was either going to behave on his watch or suffer, and he wasn’t going to be kind just because Ren happened to be Snoke’s golden child. Snoke wants a hit? Hux will give him ten fucking hits, and Kylo Ren will get the fuck in line.

Finally, Hux moves. Now that he’s decided he’ll survive Snoke’s half-assed attempt to bury him, he has an unstoppable amount of energy; he strides across the room and back to his desk, pressing the necessary buttons on the remote to return his office back to normal before throwing it savagely into the drawer it belongs in. He’s halfway across the room seconds later, his tablet tucked under his arm and his phone in the other hand, swinging the doors open to the surprise of Susan, who’s sitting and typing at her desk. She stands.

“Susan,” he says aloud, not looking at her.

“Sir,” she replies, standing and nabbing a notepad in case he needs to dictate something.

“Is Kylo Ren here already.”

“Yes, sir; he’s in conference room 7, waiting for you to join him. He’s not alone, he had what looked like two assistants with him.”

“I see. Did he meet with you?”

“Yes, he checked in.”

Hux hates that this bears asking. He sighs, looking up at Susan finally. “Was he wearing that ridiculous getup of his?”

Susan manages to stifle her smile, but only after the corners of her mouth have turned up. “..Yes, sir, he was. Mask and all. They all were. It’s… pretty spectacular,” she adds, tone amused.

“Spectacular. Hm. I think you mean preposterous,” Hux sneers, shaking his head. He looks down at his phone again, pressing a quick message into his text client with a practiced thumb. “I will be meeting with him shortly. Do you remember Phasma? Captain Phasma?” A popular band under the First Order, Captain Phasma and the Stormtroopers had been on hiatus for some time, supposedly retired. Phasma herself had been a friend of Hux’s for some time, and if he recalled correctly she owed him a favor. Susan frowns slightly, trying to recall.

“Yes, I believe so?”

“Ridiculously tall blonde woman, usually wearing heels and silver,” Hux sighs into his phone. “You’ll know her when you see her, I promise. She’ll come to you, saying she has an appointment with me; send her to conference room 7 immediately.”

“Yes, sir.”

Hux looks up from his phone again, shoving it into his pocket, message sent. “Susan, I’m sure you’ve been made aware that my appointments and meetings for what I’m assuming past the next month are all cancelled.”

“Yes, sir.” Susan purses her lips, looking a little uncomfortable at having clearly been put in the middle of Hux and Snoke. “The President mentioned as much in his email.”

“I see. Make sure you forward any calls you can to me if I’m in the building; if not, please give them my work cell, or take messages if you must. I refuse to be cut out of this company’s business while I’m holding this man-child’s hand.” Hux’s fingernails dig into the palm of his hand as a reminder to himself to calm down, and he huffs. “This is ludicrous. There’s nothing, nothing of a career to build here, and yet…”

“I understand, sir,” Susan replies, that humor once again in her voice. At least someone’s having fun, Hux thinks bitterly. What is he saying- Snoke’s probably laughing it up back home, throat choked with stamp glue and cat hair. “I’ll do what I can. Should I expect to see less of you?”

“Yes. I’ll send you a message when I’m going to be in the office. The President has made it damnably clear he expects I give our new Lord and Savior Kylo Ren all my spare time.” He rolls his eyes at Susan, who finally fully smiles. “As if I haven’t got a life. I’m off. Let me know if I miss anything.” He starts to stride away and stops, turning back. “And Susan, I expect I’ll have to order lunch today.”

“From downstairs?” she calls back at him, leaning over her desk to better see him.

“No, I think something from outside the building would be best,” he replies, shaking his head. “I’ll message you. I’ll have to make sure it’s allowed, first. I’m sure Lord Ren is as picky as they say.”

 

Out of all the conference rooms in the entire building- of which there are quite a few –conference room 7 is Hux’s least favorite out of all of them. Here on the top floor, all of the conference rooms are lined with windows and have gorgeous views of the city in all directions. The doors are all made of frosted glass, and the hallways are lined with that same glass, so that every conference room is full of light, and any unexpected interruptions can be seen coming.

Except, of course, 7, which happens to be in the middle of the floor and boxed in on all sides. It’s dark, it’s claustrophobic, and it’s absolutely not a coincidence that it’s been chosen, Hux is sure of it. Lord Tall, Dark and Mysterious is probably holed up in one of the corners with all the lights off, Hux muses as he stalks his way down the hall to the conference room. Hanging from the ceiling, maybe. Hissing at noises and thirsting for blood. He probably gets it from Snoke, who Hux likes to imagine sleeps in coffins and is allergic to the sun.

Hux has to take a moment at the door of the room to snicker, recomposing his face after a few seconds. Pull it together, he tells himself, and pushes into the room with a straight back and his trademark cool demeanor well in place.

The lights are on, which he finds actually surprises him, and Kylo Ren is sitting at the end of the conference table, with two more Knights standing behind him on either side. All three Knights are in their well-known tight black clothing- looks more like armor up close, Hux notes –and helmets. All three seem to have been waiting here in silence staring at the table, and their masks bob up to look at him simultaneously. They look like they’re here to demand security payments for the fucking mob. Hux raises an eyebrow, surveying them, and sets his tablet and phone on the other end of the table, cocking his head.

“Kylo Ren, I’m assuming,” he says, looking between the other two Knights. “And these two are?”

“Leaving shortly,” Ren responds through that damn modulating mask of his. It sounds even more ridiculous in person. He cocks his head slightly, apparently looking Hux over. “You are General Hux?”

“Don’t call me that,” Hux responds coolly. “My name is Aloysius Hux and I am the Vice President of First Order Records. I expect you to call me Hux while I am serving as your manager.”

“Hm,” Ren replies. The bonus Knights are yet to move, standing stock still with their arms crossed over their chests. Ren shifts, cocking his head the other direction. “Aloysius. That must be a bitch to spell.”

“Luckily, my surname is desperately simple.” Hux waves a hand at the Knights. “I thought you said they were leaving?”

“They are, soon,” Ren replies. He lifts his arms so that his gloved hands are resting on the table and leans forward. “I want to make this very clear: I had no interest in you serving as my manager,” he spits, “and I have no interest in your staying on for any point in time. This is all the Supreme Leader’s design.”

“I am well aware the President is the reason I’m here today,” Hux sneers in response. Supreme Leader. What nonsense. Maybe the Knights were exactly the kind of cult everyone expected they were. “And I can assure you, I have no interest in it, either. But it is what I’ve been ordered to do by my employer, and what I will continue to do until the order is rescinded. You will get in line or I will leave you behind, Kylo Ren.”

Hux can practically hear the snarl in Ren’s throat. Ren leans forward further, and in fact begins to stand, but one of the Knights reaches out and places a hand on his shoulder; this alone seems to calm Ren, who begrudgingly leans back into his chair again. Oh yeah, Hux decides. Definitely a cult.

“Now,” Hux says. “Are they going to leave so that I can get started.”

There’s a long, terse moment of silence as Hux and Ren stare at each other. At least, Hux assumes Ren’s staring at him through the hideous monstrosity that is that mask of his. The hand on Ren’s shoulder tightens, the Knight seemingly holding Ren in place, and then disengages suddenly as the two Knights stalk out of the room. Ren’s head turns to watch them, and Hux gives them a tight, polite smile that’s honestly more of a sneer. When the door closes, Ren stands.

“Those two are my security detail,” he starts, his voice just this side of a yell.

Hux stares at him, unamused and unflinching. “You have no need for a security detail in my building,” he replies coldly, glaring the mask down. “Furthermore, I am the one requested to stay with you as often as I am able. If President Snoke had wanted your detail with me, he would have mentioned it.”

Which, as far as Hux knows, is a lie. Snoke absolutely would keep things like this from him, especially considering the man couldn’t be bothered to tell Hux his entire schedule for running Snoke’s fucking business was cleared, but from the way Ren leans back slightly, Hux guesses Ren doesn’t actually know that. Ren seems to trust his Supreme Leader with everything, so far. How curious. Hux wonders how far that’s going to stretch into their business together.

“Now. I prefer to deal with my clients personally, and without liabilities such as masked men I didn’t expect and do not know,” Hux continues when it’s clear he’s successfully shocked Ren into silence. “We don’t need them leaking important information to the press.”

“They wouldn’t do that,” Ren mutters, sitting back down.

Hux ignores this, continuing. “I have a list of rules and expectations for every one of my clients. You will be expected to read it and adhere to it as best you can. Also, I’m going to request you take that damned mask off so we can speak to each other, face to face. Like adults,” he adds.

“My face is never to be seen.”

“On stage, certainly. In public, perhaps. But that rule does not apply here. Here, you will take that helmet off when you speak to me or I will refuse to work with you.”

“That’s fine. I can manage on my own.”

“Can you?” Hux snaps, unable to stop himself. “Can you organize a recording session? Can you tell the technicians how to mix? Or can you mix yourself?” He pauses. No response. “Can you tell me how to put together album artwork? Do you know how to plan, manage and layout a tour?”

“No,” Ren finally murmurs, voice dangerous.

“Then take. Off. The fucking mask.”

“The Supreme Leader will not care for this,” Ren warns, his tone threatening to get violent again.

“If he doesn’t care for it, he can call me himself,” Hux responds without missing a beat, looking down and tapping at his tablet. “Mask off.”

He’s looking down at the tablet while Ren takes off the helmet; there’s a soft huff of air as it’s disengaged, which is curious but not enough to warrant glancing up. Ren slams it on the table, staring straight ahead at Hux, and Hux waits a good 30 seconds at least before being bothered to look up.

When he does, he meets Ren’s dark eyes immediately in an attempt to continue establishing his authority, but his stare falters when he actually sees the face of Kylo Ren. He’s shocked. The young, oddly handsome face staring back at him is one he knows well- hell, it’s one anyone who’s ever paid even ten minutes of attention to the music scene knows. His hair is longer, his eyes colder, and he’s aged a few years, but there’s no mistaking it: sitting before him is Ben Solo, an acoustic guitarist that had disappeared years ago from right under the nose of the then-legendary producer Luke Skywalker.

“Are you satisfied now?” Ren spits, his voice surprisingly deep without the mask.

Ben Solo was one of those great myths of the music industry. Years ago he’d left in a huff one night from Skywalker Studios, after some kind of fight with Luke. He’d simply never come home. It was said he’d been murdered, or at the very least kidnapped. No one had ever come forth with a ransom and no one had ever been able to find his body, alive or otherwise. And yet here he was, sitting in Hux’s conference room 7, staring coldly at him with no small amount of contempt after years of having been missing.

The secret of the singer of the Knights of Ren. Hux wondered who else knew this. Hux wondered if this was why Snoke was so creepily insistent on his giving Ren all his time – to keep this secret. Maybe this was the real reason Snoke had put him on this job; if there was something Hux could do easily, it was keep a secret. Was he able to keep this kind of fucked up secret, though? Why hadn’t Ben just called his parents when there was a manhunt on?

What if Snoke was the one who had kidnapped him, Hux realizes suddenly. What the fuck am I getting into.

Hux opened his mouth to register his surprise, but his phone interrupted him. He glanced down to see Phasma’s name and stood up, sighing. “I’m sorry, I must take this. Stay here,” and he snatched up the phone and slipped out of the room in one quick motion.

“Hux,” Phasma’s obviously unimpressed voice says without waiting for a ‘hello’. “Care to explain the simply ludicrous series of texts I’ve just received?”

“Hello, Phasma,” Hux replies, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Are you in complete seriousness telling me that Kylo Ren is starting his own solo career and you’re expected to manage him?”

“I am.”

“You’re the Vice President of the company.”

“I’m aware.”

“The Knights are self-sufficient.”

“Well, yes, but he’s trying to get away from the Knights, you know, with it being a solo career and all.”

“What has this got to do with me.

“I need a favor. You’re not going to be happy with me. Are you coming to the meeting?”

“I’m not even in the city.”

“Oh.”

“Oh,” Phasma replies, annoyed. “I am retired, you know.”

“I know that. But I need you here. You’re the only one I know that can pull this off, and if you don’t agree I’m left scouring the world looking for anyone who can hold an instrument and deal with this child.”

Phasma’s quiet for a long moment. She finally sighs. “I can be there in a- say, a week. I’ll bring a band, you bring the child.”

“Thank you,” Hux replies, desperately meaning it.

He returns to the meeting room, half-expecting the lights to be off or the helmet to be on again. Ren sullenly stares ahead, toying with his helmet as Hux takes his seat again.

“What was that,” Ren asks, voice completely deadpan, not bothering to look at Hux.

“A phone call,” Hux replies, unable to stop himself from being equally petulant. “I’ve made contact with a friend of mine. I’ll hopefully have a band for you roughly in a week’s time.”

“I don’t get to choose?” If Hux didn’t know any better, he’d say Ren actually sounded disappointed.

“Do you have anyone else in mind?” Hux asks, fighting the urge to be supremely annoyed.

“I can just play the instruments myself. I know how to play most of the things I’ll need.”

“On stage? What happens when you need to tour. Would you like your shows to feature  you, alone, running about and playing everything in bits and pieces? Do you want to waste precious time teaching random people how to play your songs every time you need to put on a show?”

“No,” Ren mumbles sullenly. He’s silent for a moment, playing with his helmet, and then he reaches into his robes, pulling out a wad of paper and half-assedly pushing it down the table, as if Hux is meant to walk down the table to fetch them. Hux doesn’t move. “These were the things I was thinking about. Songs, I mean. That I was working on.”

“What am I supposed to do with that?” Hux can’t keep the annoyance out of his voice now, and curses himself for it.

“Give it to her?” Ren replies with an equal amount of rage. “So she can work on it?”

“They’re your songs. You’re going to tell her how they go, not the other way around.”

“Fine.” Ren pulls the wad back towards himself, sneering at his own hand. “So I have to wait a week for her to pull her shit together before we can even get started?”

Hux snorts. “She’s been in retirement for over a year. I think she can take a week if she needs.”

Fine,” Ren hisses.

“How many songs do you have there.”

Ren stares at the papers, frowning slightly. “Seven.”

“Seven does not a good album make. Go home. Write more songs. By the time you’ve managed three more, she’ll be ready to hear them.”

“I thought this was supposed to be more-“ Ren grapples with the wording he wants, shakes his head. “I thought this meeting was supposed to get me somewhere.”

“You’re going to have to be patient.”

“I want an album out in time to tour for summer.”

Hux blinks. “That’s insane. That gives us- what, two months? Three?”

“Is that not acceptable?” Ren replies, his tone almost innocent.

“No, that isn’t acceptable. The amount of work that goes into-“

“I told the Supreme Leader I wanted to tour for the summer. He seemed amiable to the idea,” Ren interrupts, shaking his head. “I want to try.”

Hux stares at him for a long moment before finally shaking his head in reply. “I… I’ll talk to the band. Go home. Write songs. I’ll contact you when we need you.”

“Can we start recording next week?”

“Perhaps,” Hux replies, sighing. “We’ll try.”

 

Without a timetable to keep to, Hux is left wandering for the rest of the week. He tries to focus, tries to get the most he can without the band done; he’s able to block off an entire recording floor for Ren and his new band for as much time as possible, as well as begin contacting venues for possible tour dates, contact his friends in the art department for art and ads, research what Phasma’s band used to use as far as instruments were concerned. He wanted to have everything he could have as prepared as possible, dedicating his entire week to it.

The eerie lack of phone calls and emails only made him feel more uneasy about the entire thing, however, and his work ethic devolves somewhere around two days later, when he begins ceaselessly researching Kylo Ren and his creepy Knights. He googles everything he can think of- Skywalker Records, Ben Solo, the entire case, Snoke himself, the Knights’ real names. Most of what he finds is gossip rags, unfounded rumors and other unhelpful noise. What he finds helpful, however, he writes down:

-Skywalker Records hasn’t recorded since Solo disappeared.
-No one was ever actually blamed for Solo’s disappearance but Skywalker was the obvious candidate.
-Solo’s mother is in politics now.
-Snoke only made it big once Skywalker was out of the way.

Curious, he thinks, and snaps his notebook shut.