This is where Hux finds him: kneeling at ground zero among the shards of his old self.
Every shard is a tiny mirror, reflecting all the things Kylo has destroyed: Leia's smile, fearful as she surrenders him to Luke's arms; Han's laugh, frozen and slightly crooked, a faded sort of cruelty.
Hux is not poetic. He does not see the shards. He sees the husk they belonged to, empty, and sneers at its imperfection.
Kylo hasn’t slept in nearly four days.
There was a small mining colony here, before he came. Families in tiny huts and a wooden school building at the end of the only road. He leaves the village in ruins, razed to the ground by the Master of the Knights of Ren. No survivors. Snoke’s orders.
As the planet grows smaller and smaller in the viewport of his ship, he realizes he can’t really keep track of how many people he’s killed anymore.
The Finalizer’s hard lines are a cold embrace upon his return, and he makes straight for the only place he’s ever known some semblance of peace. Time stretches and snaps around him, dragging him along. Someone discovers him there, at some point - yells something at him, maybe - but it's not enough to move him. He knows he won’t find respite in his own bed.
He sleeps, sometimes.
When he wakes again, it’s next to Hux, the end sum of all Ben Solo’s bad choices.
They are pressed into Hux’s narrow berth, blue and red glistening in the sheen of sweat between where their bodies touch. Disjointed images flicker behind Kylo’s eyes - nails and fists; blood and come.
Hux smokes, and watches Kylo pensively, arms crossed over his chest. With a kind of weary expression, he asks, “Why do you let me do this to you?”
Kylo leans away from him to spit blood onto the floor; smears it over his chin with the back of his hand. He turns back, the scenery drifting into place slightly slower than it should.
Eventually he replies, “I deserve it.”
Hux sneers, reaching over him to put his cigarette out. “Pathetic.”
It occurs to Kylo that General Hux might be the first flawless human being he’s ever met.
Hux is perfect hair and polished boots and a regulation personality; the embodiment of systemized uniformity. He is ruthless and efficient and cold, but fair, and his people love him. In many ways, Hux is the First Order.
Hux is perfect.
Until Kylo gets to know him.
They stand beside each other, watching the slow spiral of a purple galaxy through the viewport. Hux’s hands are crossed behind his back, his chin tilted down slightly. A hundred thousand stars reflect slow-pulsing fireflies in his eyes.
Behind them, the subdued revelry of a First Order party is starting to wind down. They’ve successfully colonized the last of seven small planets in the Outer Rim: nondescript, useless planets, now crawling with First Order troops. Together, they will form the strongest strategic foothold the Order has managed to gain against the New Republic.
The Knights of Ren led the attack under Snoke’s orders, reported to the Supreme Leader about the planet’s mineral and biological resources, but this was Hux’s idea, all of it. His grand design; weeks of planning and strategizing a proposal sent to Snoke in the form of a novel-length tender. His success when the planets finally fell.
He stands beside Kylo quietly, his exhaustion pulsing like the slowly crawling waves of an ocean.
Against his better judgement, Kylo says, “You should sleep.”
“There’s still work to be done,” Hux answers, “Starkiller Base isn’t going to build itself.”
Kylo turns to look at him and wonders, “Why is this so important to you?”
“One day I will sit on the Supreme Leader’s throne,” Hux answers without hesitation, then turns to stare into Kylo’s mask, “Ask me again when you stand in front of me then.”
Kylo has seen this, through the Force. He’s seen the power corrupt Hux, seen him wither into a cold echo of his old passion, seen him crawl from the Order in ignominy to die alone, disgraced.
He thinks: I would still love him.
He says: “Glory is a fickle master, General. All bodies decompose.”
The fire of Hux’s anger is a hot brand against Kylo’s back as he walks away.
The first time they fuck, it's a battlefield. Hux leans over him, his eyes feral and roughly the color of frost. He has one gloved hand clamped over Kylo's mouth and pumps into him with a dirty kind of desperation.
Kylo’s never done this before.
He exhales into a moan through his nose, overwhelmed by Hux’s passion and his cruelty and intent. When Hux’s fingers tighten like claws, Kylo lets him smash his face into the floor, again and again, grasps onto the pain like it’s the only thing that can save him from being wholly consumed.
When he comes, he bites down on the soft pad of leather between Hux's thumb and forefinger, hard enough to tear the glove.
Hux slaps him, then kisses him, a slow contradictory kiss, and his hair is very soft and fine between Kylo’s fingers. A part of Kylo goes with him when he pulls out.
When Kylo stands, blood and come trickle lightly down his left thigh. He doesn’t need the Force to know this will happen again. Tells himself he wants it to.
Hux is full of sharp, jagged things Kylo likes to cut himself on.
He wants every single one of them.
One day, Hux kills five planets.
Kylo watches his speech on the big monitor in the Finalizer’s mess hall with the Stormtroopers; watches the red beams surge past the viewport; closes his eyes when he feels them hit their targets.
Hux finds him, later, in his quarters. Kylo senses his approach and opens the door before he can key in. They face each other quietly. Hux scowls at him, the picture of poised perfection, hands clasped neatly behind his back, posture ramrod straight, not a hair out of place.
His anguish rolls over Kylo like a tidal wave.
So Kylo steps aside, lifting a hand in invitation, and Hux is barely through the door before he crumples to the floor, on his hands and knees somewhere at Kylo’s feet. He gasps, chest heaving with desperate gulps of air, one hand half contorted into a claw on the toe of Kylo’s boot. His eyes are stretched wide around pinprick pupils.
The door slides shut with a whisper on Hux’s undoing, on his frantic, suffocating gasps and his heartbeat; a wild, fluttering thing.
For all his cruelty, Hux is not used to destroying things. He doesn't know it intimately, like Ben Solo does.
So Kylo crouches in front of him and says, “Get up.”
Hux is shrunk down to the singular need to breathe, consumed by panic.
“Get up,” Kylo says again, and puts just enough of the Force behind it that he can feel the synapses snapping painfully into place in Hux’s head.
Hux slowly climbs to his feet, still panting, hands clenched in tight fists at his sides. His perfect hair drips trails of fire into his eyes, disarrayed.
And Kylo realizes that Hux is shattered too. He's in a thousand pieces, the shards of himself wrapped tight around him like a glittering shield, held together only by Hux's uncompromising self control. But they're fragile. So fragile.
They fall apart when Kylo touches him.
On the last day of Starkiller Base, the shards that used to be Han Solo piece themselves together enough to shout his dead son’s name. He faces Kylo from the other side of the endless chasm between them, his gaze a knife in Kylo’s stomach.
This Han is just a collection of Ben’s shards, he reminds himself. He does not understand that this is all he can be, now: a half-formed memory pulled from the wreckage of Kylo’s past.
Not like Hux, whose jagged edges align with Kylo’s, slot together perfectly with the precision of a bullet sliding into the chamber.
He doesn't blame Han, who only destroys things temporarily, with soft smiles and easy winked apologies.
Kylo Ren twists the knife in his own gut, and steps out to meet him.
He destroys this too, like all the things he loves.
By the time he realizes what he's done, it's already too late.
He chose Snoke.
He chose wrong.
When Hux finds him in the snow, he is in ruins.
The bowcaster and the lightsaber and the terrible rage in the scavenger girl’s eyes; a hundred new shards not yet quite broken enough, their serrated edges tearing what remains of Ben Solo to shreds.
He doesn't think he'll ever be warm again.
Then Hux is crouching next to him. The dying planet rages around him, but he is perfectly still, unaffected, like not even hell itself could change the expression on his face. Kind of resigned, a bit tired and broken.
“You came for me,” Kylo manages. His voice cracks over every word.
Hux says, “I came for Snoke.”
But the way he folds his greatcoat around Kylo is almost gentle, and as they stumble back to the shuttle, the ground peeling into wide hungry maws around them, Hux takes care not to jar his wounds.
Kylo drifts off to the death throes of a planet, now just a whisper as hyperspace steals them away, and against his side Hux feels very warm.
Kylo Ren destroys the things he loves. He knows with inexorable certainty that one day, he'll destroy Hux too.
He tells him this one night, buried deep inside of him.
And perfect Hux presses his face into Kylo's collarbone and whispers,"It's too late. You already have.”