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Here Comes Your Man

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Hux first lays eyes on his intended in the neutral zone, deep in the northern woods, at the foot of the mountains that mark the edge of the territory Hux’s family will now share with these barbarians from the west. It’s snowing, and no one from the western tribe is dressed for the weather. The so-called Prince of so-called Alderaan, a dead city that Hux’s people burned when Hux was still a baby, is shirtless and looks like he’s dressed for combat rather than a grim marriage ceremony on a snowy plain. His parents stand behind him, and behind them are ten guards in mismatched armor, unpolished. None look happy to be here, and Hux knows that his own expression, and those of everyone in his traveling party, mirrors this stony resignation at best.

He was warned that the Prince is over-large, but seeing him up close is still frightening, though Hux nearly comes eye to eye with him in height. In the western kingdom, everyone hunts and fights, even those who pass for royalty there, and the Prince looks like he’s been training to kill with his bare hands since infancy: he’s broad, muscled and hulking, with the glittering eyes of a hothead. Hux tries to meet the heat of his gaze with answering coolness. The Prince looks Hux over with hungry interest, then mutters something to his mother in their language. Hux doesn’t speak it, and he’s also been warned that the Prince doesn’t speak a word of even the Basic Eastern.

Hux’s father exchanges a tense greeting with the Western Queen. She has very long hair that is wrapped in braids around her proud head, as if the hair itself stands in for a crown. There is no king in their culture when the royal line descends from the mother’s side, and the man who stands to the right of the Prince must be what they call the ‘royal father,’ a term that sent Brendol the Fierce into a rare fit of laughter when his advisors first shared it with him. Hux flushes with renewed shame when he considers that he will be bound to this family from now on: their simple manners, their strange customs and dishonorable history. It’s politically necessary, and Hux didn’t dare protest when his father broke the news of the arrangement, but his knees are shaking under his heavy outercoat when he takes his marriage vows. The Prince answers the questions asked by the officiant only in affirmative grunts. He’s referred to as Kylo Ren during the ceremony, not Prince Organa, and Hux supposes this is how he should think of his new husband, though the name is almost too ridiculous and foreign to bear, like all of this.

Hux’s mother hugs him for a long time after the ceremony. She’s frightened for him, shaking. Hux tries to reassure her, promising that he’ll be fine in the western fort where he’ll reside with this barbarian who is somehow now his husband. He can’t lie to his mother: she sees through his false confidence and weeps as Brendol nudges Hux away, toward the family that Hux is now supposed to consider his own. Hux hasn’t looked any of the western people in the eye since before the ceremony began, and he’s embarrassed when they indicate that he should climb onto the black horse that Kylo Ren rode in on. To Hux, the idea of two men sharing a horse is obscene, even if they are married. Kylo grows impatient with Hux’s confused hesitation and grabs him by the waist, lifting him onto the horse before climbing up behind him. The Queen says something that sounds like an admonishment. Kylo sniffs-- laughing? --and spurs the horse to a trot, reaching around Hux to grab the reins.

Though he should be freezing in this weather, Kylo’s chest feels very warm against Hux’s back. Hux has heard rumors that the western Prince is a magic person, capable of monstrous enchantments that have accounted for the rise of his once nearly wiped-out people. Hux swallows his useless trepidation and holds on to the front of the saddle, telling himself again that he’s willing to do anything to secure the future of his own people, who will use this apparent gesture of peacemaking to dominate the barbarians once and for all, when the time is right.

Hux doesn’t allow himself to wonder what will have become of him by then.

The weather grows milder as they travel west, and Hux’s eyelids begin to feel heavy at sundown. Kylo Ren has been silent for the entire journey, riding at the head of the party, only two of the guards flanking his horse. Kylo wore his sword strapped to his back during the marriage ceremony, and he wears it now. Hux lets his eyes drift shut and imagines what would happen if they were attacked on the road. He envisions Kylo leaping off the horse and into battle, spilling blood. Hux always wanted to learn how to fight, but it wasn’t fitting a person of his station in the east. He has two daggers under his coat, one from each parent. A traditional wedding gift. He imagines aiding in a fight with these weapons, surprising his husband and his in-laws with his skill. It’s a mere fantasy; he would be lost in combat. Falling asleep, he allows himself to wish that this weren’t true, and imagines Kylo Ren teaching him how to fight and smiling in approval at the sight of Hux drawing blood from their enemies.

Hux wakes with a start when his head tips forward. He’s disoriented, and briefly terrified before he remembers to only be grimly resigned. Kylo shifts the reins into his left hand and tugs Hux against him with his right arm, securing him in place. Hux struggles to stay awake for the remainder of the journey, though he’s tempted at moments to let his head fall back onto Kylo’s sturdy shoulder.

They reach a modest village at nightfall. Surely, Hux thinks, this cannot be where the royal family resides. Surely it is only a stopover. The village has been decorated in preparation for their arrival: thick ribbons twist around lantern posts and flower petals are scattered along a path that leads to what Hux must presume is a wedding night hut. Kylo brings Hux inside, holding his hand as they cross the threshold. It’s more of a house than a hut, with multiple rooms and even a small kitchen, though it doesn’t look like anything so substantial from the outside. When the front door is shut behind them, Hux keeps close to Kylo in the dark, watching him light candles without use of a match.

“So you are a magic person,” Hux says.

Kylo turns to him with a look of suspicion, apparently not magic enough to understand a foreign language. Hux squares his shoulders when Kylo moves closer, his heartbeat thudding at the hollow of his throat and seeming to want to climb onto his tongue. Kylo looks dangerous in the flickering light from the candles, but when he stands before Hux his eyes don’t seem as hard or as angry as they did in the presence of his family. Hux exhales through his nose, holding in a protest when Kylo knocks Hux’s wool cap off as if it offends him. Kylo mumbles something in the western tongue and runs his fingers through Hux’s hair, disordering it. Hux supposes he might never have seen this shade of hair in the west. It’s relatively rare even in the east.

Not wanting to be passively pawed at, Hux puts his hand on Kylo’s chest and runs his fingertips down to his stomach. Kylo’s body is intimidating but not excessive, his bulkiest muscles tapering down to a trim waist, and soon Hux is touching him with both hands, pausing to press his palm over Kylo’s heartbeat. Hux teases one stiff nipple, enjoying Kylo’s sharp intake of breath. Kylo wears only a heavy belt and tight pants, armored boots. There are leather bands circling his powerful arms, and Hux runs his fingers over those, too, noting that Kylo is looming more densely into Hux’s personal space, their hips almost pressed together as Kylo’s breath warms Hux’s face. Hux tries to keep his own breathing under control when Kylo pushes off his outercoat, Hux’s wedding-gift daggers clattering to the floor along with it.

Kylo says something: a string of five blunt words, pronounced gravely. Hux can’t translate but feels as if he understands anyway: I’m going to fuck you, or We’re going to bed now, or something like that. Kylo takes hold of Hux’s hair again, pulling until Hux’s chin is tipped upward, Kylo’s face hovering over his. Hux waits to feel intimidated by this attempt at physical dominance, and he's only partly surprised to find that he’s mostly thrilled by the challenge. Between the eastern people’s almost universal fear of Brendol the Fierce and Hux’s mother’s tendency to hover protectively, he rarely ever got to even tussle in a play fight as a boy. There’s always been something in him that has wanted this: rough treatment, a fearless opponent who underestimates him, a big hand in his hair. He reaches for Kylo’s belt, looking for the clasp. Kylo smells good; Hux noticed that on the journey here. It’s a warm, waxy smell, like polished wood.

Hux laughs when Kylo licks his cheek. He’s never been licked before, not even by an actual animal. Kylo tugs Hux’s hair in warning and narrows his eyes, then leans down to lick Hux from the base of his throat and up to his jaw. It’s an overwhelming, possessive, arousing sensation. Hux is still trying to figure out how to get Kylo’s belt off. They’re walking backward, slowly, toward the bed in the next room. Hux has been dreading the inevitable arrival of this moment since the announcement of the engagement, but something about the ride here made him almost want it. More than almost, he realizes, when he sighs in relief as Kylo grabs his wrists and pulls his hands around to the clasp at the back of his belt, showing him how to undo it.

In the bedroom, they both work on their own boots, watching each other. Hux is sitting on the bed, Kylo on a low stool in the corner. Hux has many layers to remove but Kylo is quickly naked, standing up to show Hux his imposing erection before crossing to the bed to yank at Hux’s remaining clothes. With every piece that’s removed, Hux feels smaller but somehow less scared. He feels like Kylo has transformed him into a true barbarian already, like his own pounding heartbeat is a war drum he never knew he held within him, goading him toward reckless action. Hux’s plan had been to hide under the blankets while opening his legs for the necessarily deed, but now he lets Kylo spread him out atop the bedcovers and look at him, Hux’s chest heaving as he surveys Kylo’s naked body with the same greedy interest.

Hux leaves his palms pressed to the mattress when Kylo touches him, too absorbed in the feeling of being explored to do any touching of his own. Kylo’s hands feel enormous and very warm, moving from Hux’s ankles and up along his calves, pressing Hux’s legs open as he squeezes the soft insides of his thighs. Kylo drags his thumb over Hux’s balls and smirks when Hux moans for him, his legs inching open a bit wider for the feeling. Hux is very red now, from his face down to his chest, but he doesn’t mind Kylo seeing, though at home getting red in public was torture. This is my husband, Hux thinks, when Kylo fondles Hux’s hard dick with his big barbarian hand. He might as well see everything.

When Kylo lowers his head, Hux thinks he might get his cock sucked before Kylo breaches him, which is something Hux has barely dared to dream of receiving even from a grunting barbarian. Instead, Kylo bites at the skin on Hux’s stomach, making him curl up defensively. Kylo pushes Hux’s shoulders back to the mattress and then licks over the mark he left on Hux’s pale skin, soothing him back into a breathy, twitching surrender.

“Don’t bite me,” Hux says, though it didn’t really hurt. Kylo moves up to suck at Hux’s nipples in response, which makes Hux laugh, because it tickles and because Kylo is rather determined in this, as if he expects to be able to drink from them. Kylo gives Hux a dark look for his laughter and growls under his breath when he surges up to lick and nip at Hux’s neck, drawing stuttering gasps from Hux when he drags his teeth over the right spots, or the wrong ones. Hux isn’t even sure what the distinction is, now: he’s tilting between the impulse to feel an appropriate measure of shame and a perhaps naively unexpected desire to indulge in delirious pleasure, and even the unsteady tilt itself feels good. He runs his hands over Kylo’s massive back, thinking: This big oaf is mine now, all of this is mine.

Only when Kylo moves away, to a chest beside the bed, does Hux feel overly exposed. He sits up and peers down at his leaking cock, wanting to cover himself. Kylo rummages through the chest until he finds what he was looking for: a jar of oil. Hux knows about this part. He was warned by the matchmaker that he should practice on himself prior to the marriage night. Hux could never bring himself to do it; it seemed filthy and unallowed, and the opportunity to swipe a jar of oil never arose.

Kylo crawls onto Hux again, hovering over him and clutching the oil in one hand. He’s studying Hux’s face, looking suddenly vexed. It occurs to Hux that Kylo might have been suffering with anxiety about this moment for months as well, though Hux never would have guessed it when they met this morning. Perhaps Kylo is afraid he’ll shoot as soon as he’s all in. Hux instructs himself not to laugh if that happens.

He tucks Kylo’s hair behind his ear, which is over-large like the rest of him, then touches Kylo’s lips, his big nose, a dark mole on his cheek. Kylo allows this, frowning slightly and waiting to see what Hux will do. He seems as if he’s waiting for permission to continue, and Hux isn’t sure how to give it without words. He sits up onto his elbows and rubs his face against Kylo’s, moves back to peek at his confused expression and does it again, brushing his lips against Kylo’s cheek this time.

“Don’t look at me like I’m too delicate for you,” Hux says when he drops back to the mattress. “You won’t break me. People from the east have our own sort of toughness. We’re not afraid of any--”

Kylo jams his lips against Hux’s and presses his tongue out to part them wetly. Hux opens for him, allowing Kylo’s clumsy tongue into his mouth and trying not to laugh at how simultaneously good and stupid it feels to press his own tongue against Kylo’s, until they’re sliding together and Kylo is moaning low, at the back of his throat. Hux hears the cap on the bottle of oil pop off.

“Yes,” Hux says, nodding. He feels as if they’re standing at the edge of a lagoon and he’s daring Kylo to jump in. “Do it.”

Kylo slicks his fingers. He looks very serious. Hux has to chew his bottom lip to hold in the building pressure of nervous laughter. The matchmaker had also suggested putting a pillow under his hips. That seems too dumb now, like a superstitious ritual.

Hux screams when the first finger goes in without finesse, and he punches at Kylo’s shoulders, cursing him. Kylo pulls his finger out just a fast as he stuck it in, which also hurts.

“Didn’t anyone teach you how to do this?” Hux asks, scowling. His face is on fire and his hole feels raw, but he finds he wants Kylo’s finger back, just differently. He shoves at Kylo anyway, annoyed by the pity and regret on his face. Kylo falls back onto his ass and looks like he’ll cry, which is funny enough to make Hux need to chew his lip again.

“Come here,” Hux says, though he’s the one who moves toward Kylo, straddling him. “You big, stupid ass,” Hux mutters, and he kisses Kylo, using his tongue again, until they’ve both calmed. Hux reaches behind him and grabs Kylo’s hand, which shakes now. He brings it around to his ass, keeping a tight hold on Kylo’s wrist as he repositions him. Kylo’s fingers squirm cluelessly between the heat of Hux’s cheeks, and they both exhale, Hux arching his back to get the right angle. He grasps one of Kylo’s fingers and rubs his stinging hole against the tip, hissing. Kylo stiffens, his other arm wrapping around Hux’s waist. His eyes are big; there’s something pleading in them. Kylo’s cock is pressed against the right cheek of Hux’s ass, throbbing and thickening as Hux guides his hand, keeping his eyes locked on Kylo’s as he does.

They both release a shallow gasp when the tip of Kylo’s finger slips in. It still stings, but Hux doesn’t want the sting gone; he wants more of it, though also not too much. He wiggles himself downward a bit, moaning and clenching around the intrusion. Kylo’s chest heaves between Hux’s bent legs, and his eyes shine when he stares at up at Hux. He looks worshipful-- grateful, even.

“Good,” Hux says, nodding when Kylo crooks his finger a bit, working it in deeper. “Like that, yes, uh-huh.”

Hux enjoys feeling like an expert, even in something that’s actually new to him. He uses soft moans to encourage Kylo when he does something right with his finger as he slowly works it all the way in. Hux is short of breath by the time he’s seated on it, squirming and kissing Kylo’s parted lips. Every time Hux clenches around his finger, Kylo sighs with approval and strokes his other hand up Hux’s spine, then down again.

“We’d better just do it,” Hux finally says, when he’s begun to bounce on Kylo’s finger a bit, enjoying the shallow in-and-out drag. “I’m so tired. You must be, too.” He kisses Kylo’s fluttering eyelids and takes a moment to appreciate how strange it is that he’s feeling suddenly fond of this ridiculous man he somewhat insincerely swore to be loyal to for the rest of his life. Hux already likes Kylo’s face better than he did at first glance, and Kylo’s largeness feels as if it’s part of Hux’s own arsenal now, rather than some foreign weight he must contend with. Hux’s father had said this would happen; his first marriage had of course been arranged. Hux had thought Brendol the Fierce was only trying to soften the blow after selling Hux off to savages.

“Sit back,” Hux says, pressing at Kylo’s shoulders until they’re resting against the headboard. Hux reaches down, takes Kylo’s wrist and pulls his finger free, slowly. They both groan when it pops out, and Hux grabs for the oil. As soon as Hux wraps his oil-slicked hand around Kylo’s cock, he knows he won’t be able to seat himself upon it the way he did on Kylo’s finger. He’ll lose his nerve when he feels how thick it is, bumping against him. He’ll need Kylo to be the one who makes that first thrust. Kylo has more incentive to want that; he possesses the required momentum. For him it will only feel good, right away.

They stare at each other for a while. Kylo holds Hux’s arms and looks frightened. Hux tries to think of the best way to do this. He’s not afraid of the pain. Or, actually: he is, but only when he reaches back to grasp Kylo’s dick again, because Kylo feels even bigger than he looks. Kylo is breathing through his nose, licking his lips, squeezing Hux’s arms.

“What are you waiting for?” Hux asks, beginning to feel embarrassed by his own hesitation. “Throw me down and have your way with me.”

Kylo kisses Hux on the lips. He looks like he might cry when he pulls back, as if his confusion or nervous indecision is building toward panic.

“Surely you know what happens next?” Hux says, petting Kylo’s face. “So, here we go. Let’s get on with it. Then we can sleep.”

Hux clambers onto his hands and knees. He sinks down onto his elbows and points his readied ass at Kylo, holding his cheeks apart with one hand and spreading himself as widely as he can with his thumb and forefinger. So there can be no mistaking his intentions. He peeks back over his shoulder, aching for Kylo to cover him up, fill him, claim him. It will hurt, maybe it will even be awful, but it seems like something that needs to happen, and Hux is finally eager to find out just how it will go.

“Come on,” Hux says, dipping one finger down to rub his hole invitingly when Kylo just sits there looking hypnotized. He’s staring at the right spot, anyway, his mouth hanging open. “Get in there,” Hux says. “I might scream, but I won’t break.”

Kylo moves toward him. Hux lets go of his ass, confident that the message has been received. He buries his face against the mattress, humiliated by this posture but determined to get this part over with before they sleep. He’s heard that it gets better after the initial shock, and he’s enjoyed the build-up far more than he expected to.

Hux tries to remain as relaxed as possible when he feels Kylo’s palms on his ass cheeks, pulling them apart. Then, for some reason, Kylo’s breath on his hole-- he needs to inspect it that closely? --and then--

“What!” Hux says, his thighs trying to twitch together when the shock of Kylo’s hot tongue circling his hole blasts up his spine and makes his face flame. Kylo grunts, holds Hux’s thighs apart and licks him again. Hux opens his mouth to protest, the words he might have used dying in a long moan, because fuck, fuck, that feels-- it’s so-- “You can’t,” Hux says, whining against the mattress, his back arching as his cock fills to an almost painful hardness. He presses back against Kylo’s tongue as if his body has secretly known he’s a barbarian all along, as if he’s been waiting for this all his life. “Kylo,” he manages, choking this out around the impulse to moan again. “Ren, you can’t-- You, it’s-- filthy, you’re--”

Hux drools against the mattress, his knees inching apart more widely as Kylo pushes his tongue into him, shamelessly kissing and sucking as if this is something that is done. The noises Hux makes are exhalations of quiet disbelief, soft and tinged with the trembling urge to protest. He could move away and slap at Kylo the way he did when Kylo jammed a finger into him, but this doesn’t feel like that did. This feels like something that Kylo should maybe never, ever stop doing. Hux can’t make any kind of rational sense of just what Kylo is doing, exactly: sticking his tongue inside, then licking around in circles and down below, toward Hux’s cock, before dragging his tongue back up to the places where Hux is growing almost worryingly sensitive. New, more humiliating noises spill from Hux’s lips when this goes on and on, taking every tension from his body, as if Kylo is drinking the last of his hesitation from him, swallowing it up.

When Hux can’t wait any longer, he grabs his leaking cock and pumps himself once, twice, whining when Kylo growls in protest and pulls his hand away, replacing it with his own. Hux puts his cheek against the mattress and whimpers, rolling his hips back against Kylo’s wet, dirty mouth and then forward, trying to fuck Kylo’s hand. Kylo’s grip isn’t quite tight enough, and while his sloppy suckling at Hux’s ass is some kind of dark and powerful magic that is making Hux shake all over and moan out the most undignified noises that anyone from the East has ever uttered, he needs something more, too.

As if he’s read Hux’s mind, Kylo brings his fingertips to the rim of Hux’s hole and rubs them in teasing circles, still licking him and stroking his cock too gently. Something breaks in Hux’s chest, and it sounds too much like a sob. He feels like he’s going to come, and he reaches down to clamp his hand around Kylo’s, forcing Kylo’s fingers to tighten around his cock.

“Please,” Hux says, lifting his face from the mattress and arching like a whore in Kylo’s hands, well past caring about the propriety of any of this. He’s ready to behave like the barbarian that he today became, as long as he gets to come. “Please,” he says again, looking back over his shoulder to show Kylo his flushed face, begging with his whole body for something he can’t even name.

Kylo’s eyes have gotten very dark, but there’s a warmth in them, too, almost a kind of pity. He sits back, still holding Hux’s cock with one hand as he draws the thumb of his other hand up over Hux’s balls, dragging it firmly upward and pressing it into his wet, wanting hole with such a perfect pressure that Hux shouts, bucking back to get more of Kylo into him and gurgling with mindless pressure when Kylo either finds or puts some magic thing inside him and rubs it until Hux is shouting again and coming in Kylo’s hand, nearly weeping as he empties himself, so gone that he doesn’t even care when he hears cheers and laughter outside the marriage hut. Of course those barbarians are out there in the square, beyond the short trees that line the yard, drinking heavily and waiting to hear signs of a successful physical union. Hux slumps down to the mattress, flopping into his own come as Kylo releases his spent cock and pulls his thumb out, carefully now.

Hux isn’t sure what to expect next; he certainly didn’t expect to feel so happily surrendered to whatever comes. He’s still trying to breathe normally, clenching around what now feels like an emptiness in his ass, when Kylo crawls up to roll him onto his side. Kylo runs his fingers through Hux’s hair and licks his cheek, his neck, then moves to his mouth.

“You can’t,” Hux mumbles, though he’s already parting his lips for Kylo’s tongue, lapping at him as if he’s hungry for it, too. He is, somehow. “Dirty-- You’re so-- just-- Filthy,” Hux says, flicking his eyes up to Kylo’s, though actually the taste isn’t as bad as he might have expected. Hux did clean himself thoroughly this morning, but then there was the long ride to the village, the sweat under his clothes. Perhaps his sweat isn’t so bad-tasting. Kylo’s smells good now, like wet cedar and wanton sex.

Kylo says something in the Western language. Though Hux isn’t sure what the word means, it makes him flush, because the way Kylo pronounces it as his fingers soothe through Hux’s hair makes it sound like an endearment. Kylo looks grateful again, maybe because Hux gave him what he wanted: pleasured screams loud enough to reach the ears of those who are celebrating outside. Hux flushes more deeply and moans, rolling onto his back. Kylo’s cock is very hard against his hip, still too big but undeniably ready for him, trails of precome dragging across Hux’s skin when Kylo twitches his hips needfully.

“Fine,” Hux says, sniffling and pulling his knees up to his chest. “Make me scream again, go on.”

Kylo moans with what sounds like sympathy and slicks his cock with more oil, rubbing the excess clumsily over Hux’s reddened hole. Hux whines and flexes for him, shameless, in this village where shame seems to not exist. He understands now that this is not merely a wedding night hut but their new home, where they will live together. There will be no grand palace ahead on the road. Hux is almost glad. He doesn’t want to leave this place where he found the courage to take his first steps into their barbarian life.

Hux exhales with as much restraint as he can when Kylo leans over him, his dark hair framing his face as he stares down at Hux and lines himself up. Even after all of Kylo’s strangely tender attention down there, the width of him feels insane when he tries to push in, and Hux keeps his expression as placid as possible when panic builds between his lungs and travels up his throat, escaping in a half-suppressed whimper that turns into a full-on cry when the head of Kylo’s cock seems to tear into him, slow but still overwhelming, already holding him open so widely. Kylo goes still and touches Hux’s cheek, searching his eyes when they crack open again.

“It’s okay,” Hux says, nodding. He adjusts himself, groaning when this shifts Kylo slightly deeper into him. “Fuh-fuck, just go, go, just--”

He tugs at Kylo’s shoulders, bringing their chests closer together and edging Kylo’s cock into him a bit more. Hux whines and Kylo moans, sounding sympathetic again. When Hux turns his cheek against the sheets he somehow ends up with Kylo’s thumb in his mouth, and he sucks at it hungrily even before he considers that this isn’t the thumb that was up his ass. He supposes it shouldn’t matter, since he lapped at Kylo’s mouth after it was all over down there.

Hux keeps Kylo’s thumb in his mouth as Kylo slips deeper into him. He bites gently in warning when he needs Kylo to slow down or stop altogether. They’re both coated in sweat, and the villagers outside are quiet now. Perhaps they’ve gone home, confident that the sealing has already been accomplished, when really they were only listening to Hux gyrating back against Kylo’s mouth. When Kylo is almost all in, when their shaking stomachs are pressed together, he leans down for a kiss, nipping at Hux’s bottom lip and then replacing his thumb with his tongue, breathing just as hard as Hux when he pulls back.

“You--” Hux says, panting when Kylo wipes some sweat from his temples. “You are so fucking-- In me, that’s just-- That’s so deep. Kylo-- Ren-- Fuck, what do I even call you?”

Kylo answers this-- or doesn’t --by sliding the last half inch of himself into Hux, his balls coming to rest against Hux’s wide open hole. Hux throws his head back, his mouth opening around a silent shout that becomes audible as a watery half-complaint when Kylo kisses his neck and whispers something that’s probably meant to be comforting against his skin. It is comforting, somehow, when Kylo slides one of his enormous arms under Hux’s neck, his other hand pushing into Hux’s sweat-damp hair. They peck at each other’s lips, every choppy exhale that they breathe out seeming to make the room and their bodies that much hotter, as if the whole world is flushing around them.

For all the buildup, Kylo only manages a few shallow thrusts before he starts making growling noises that seem like warnings that he’s about to fill Hux until he overflows. Hux lets his arms and shoulders go limp as he takes it, his legs tight around Kylo’s sides. They both cry out brokenly when Kylo comes, seeming to shove in just a bit deeper, his cock thickening with every pulse of his release. Then he’s emptied entirely into Hux, slowly sliding out while Hux pants up blindly at the ceiling, his head lolling on the mattress. He was not taught that surrender could feel good, and this is such an undeniable relief that he feels like he’s woken up in a new, invincible body.

As soon as they’re disconnected, Kylo kisses Hux as if he’s just been pulled from the sea and needs the breath pushed back into his lungs. Hux takes a possessive handful of Kylo’s hair and peers up at him with building, giddy wonder when he breaks their kiss, Kylo’s nose still pressed to his.

“Thank you,” Hux says, not sure what he’s expressing gratitude for. His ass aches, but Kylo was careful with him after that initial clueless jab of his finger. Hux is so tired that he’s sincerely excited about the opportunity to roll over and sleep, imagining he will rest more comfortably than he has in years. There’s truly nothing he’d rather do right now, and no place he would rather be. He can’t remember the last time he shared a bed with anyone.

“Thank you,” Kylo repeats, in his awkward accent. He kisses Hux’s nose and leaves the bed, returning with a jug of water. Hux gulps from it and nods appreciatively, suppressing the urge to mutter thank you a hundred more times, until he drops straight into sleep.

Kylo walks around the small house, putting all the candles out. Hux wonders if his powers allow him to see in the dark, though soon enough Hux’s eyes have adjusted in the moonlight from the window. There’s a thrill that runs through him when Kylo climbs into the bed, something akin to fear but closer to anticipation. Kylo moves against him under the blankets, enormous in the darkness, spilling all around Hux when they come together at the middle of the bed, legs tangling and arms circling. Hux feels as if they’ve forged some kind of new and amazing understanding of what two people are capable of doing together, though he knows it’s just the same old thing that many have done already, and without much skill. Still, it’s their version of it, their own first try, irreplaceable and unrepeatable. He clings to Kylo as the sweat on his skin finally cools and a chill settles over the room, Kylo’s heartbeat thumping a calming rhythm against against Hux’s cheek.

“Are you mine?” Hux asks when he’s delirious, some celebratory part of him fighting sleep.

Kylo grunts softly into Hux’s hair. He says something that Hux interprets as Go to sleep, and Hux tucks his face under Kylo’s chin, his body sore and singing, slotted perfectly against Kylo’s in the dark. He’s not sure how he thought his wedding night would end, but stunned, sleepy contentment was not something he’d dared to hope for.

**

Hux wakes up twice during the night, confused both times about where he is. He remembers Kylo before he remembers their location: the smell of him and the way he breathes, the weight of his arm over Hux’s side. Again, he thinks of what his father said, which had seemed glib and empty at the time. You’ll get physically attached before you know it, and that goes a long way toward the rest. Hux reminds himself that the physical can be deceptive, especially when it comes to arousal and comfort, but at the moment he’s too tired to fight the impulse to believe that his current sense of contentment is evidence of something real and already unbreakable.

Kylo fetches the water jug the second time Hux wakes. He yawns while Hux drinks from it, his hand soft on Hux’s back. Kylo seems physically attached already, too, and he crowds Hux as soon as he slides back under the blankets. He tugs Hux against his chest as snugly as he did when they were on horseback, as if there’s a danger of him dropping away. Hux doesn’t mind this time. He settles back into the heat of Kylo’s body and peers drowsily at the dim moonlight through the window until he’s asleep again.

At dawn, there are voices outside. Hux half-wakes, tensing up when he feels Kylo sliding away from him and leaving the bed. Hux sits up and pulls the blankets over his naked shoulders while he watches Kylo dress, returning his sword to the holster that crosses his back.

“Where are you going?” Hux asks in a whisper, his heart pounding when the voices remain just outside the front door, five or six men laughing and talking in the western tongue.

Kylo says something in his language to Hux, who stares at him blankly. Kylo’s efforts to make what appear to be an eating motion with his hands and mouth only result in further confusion.

“Shall I dress and go with you?” Hux asks. Kylo must be referring to breakfast, though it seems odd that he would go in search of it outside the house, and so early.

Kylo responds by walking to the bed, kissing Hux’s cheek, and leaving the house. Outside, a cheer goes up as he joins the group of men who have gathered to wait for him. Hux is anxious, curling in on himself under the blankets and wishing he was dressed. It’s a relief when the men leave, Kylo going with them by the sounds of it, but the quiet that follows is unsettling, too.

For a long time, Hux sits waiting. He’s not sure what for, and when things remain quiet outside he musters the courage to dart around the room collecting his clothes. His wedding garments seem too ridiculous to wear to bed, so he piles them on a trunk near the window and pulls on only his tunic, then wraps himself in the bedclothes again. His heart is pounding, and he recognizes a growing sense of betrayal that he dislikes tremendously, both because he doesn’t want to already be capable of feeling betrayed by Kylo and because he suspects he’s being overly sensitive. His ass still stings a bit, but not as badly as he expected. When the sun comes up outside he begins to feel foolish for huddling in bed like a frightened child and gets up, wandering the house and taking stock of all the new things that are half his now.

He’s cataloging the contents of the pantry, finding nothing he’d like to eat, when he hears footsteps coming up the stone path that leads to the front door. It doesn’t sound like Kylo’s heavy footfall, and the sharp rap on the door confirms that this visitor is not Hux’s husband returning from whatever errand he set off on at dawn. Hux stands in the doorway of the pantry, wearing only his socks, his tunic and a woven blanket from the bed over his shoulders. He’s not fit to receive company according to his own customs, and not sure what the protocol is for allowing people to enter the home while Prince Kylo is away. The person at the door knocks again, and when Hux remains frozen in the kitchen the knocker opens the door and strolls into the house as if it’s their right to do so.

Hux quickly sees why: it’s Queen Organa, dressed in a long, belted dress and again wearing her hair in a crown-like braid. Hux has no idea what to say or do and remains standing in the shadowy kitchen as she approaches, his heart slamming in his chest.

“There you are,” she says, in Hux’s language. She smiles. “I thought you might appreciate a chat.”

“A chat?” Hux is flushed again, embarrassed by it now. “With me?”

“Yes, with you. I know we left you twisting in the wind last night, with my son not speaking your language and nobody taking time to explain anything to you, but that’s tradition. It’s a test of your toughness, in a sense. Are you all right?”

This question makes Hux clench around the burning ache that Kylo left in his ass, and his flush reaches near catastrophic levels.

“I’m fine,” he says. “But where has my-- Your-- Where has Kylo gone?”

“Off for the traditional hunt. It’s done on the morning after a Prince’s wedding. All the noble sons of his age go off together and bring back fresh meat for a celebratory feast.”

“Ah.” Hux supposes he has no cause to feel left out, as he is not part of this tradition and was never taught how to do anything so pedestrian as hunting for meat. That’s what servants are for, at home. But when he imagines Kylo riding about with some local men and clapping them on the back after a successful kill, he’s jealous. The Queen smiles as if she’s sensed this.

“Let’s sit down and have some tea,” she says. “I’ll prepare it.”

“Shouldn’t I?” Hux asks, fidgeting. “This is my home, isn’t it?”

“Yes, you’ll reside here with Ben until he becomes King.”

“Ben?”

“His childhood name-- When a boy comes of age here, he chooses his own warrior name. I call him Ben out of habit. Sit down, I’ll start the tea.”

“Can’t I help?” Hux asks, though fixing tea is a job for some of the lowliest servants back home. He wants to do something, anyway, beyond absorbing whatever’s next with numb acceptance.

“Just sit,” Organa says, waving him toward the table. “I know where everything is. This was my marriage house once, too, you know.”

Hux takes a seat, wishing he had dressed in something more fitting an audience with a queen, even if she is only a barbarian queen. He watches her get the cups, fill the kettle with water and light the fire at the stove. She does this last task in the same way that Kylo lit the candles, with a mere wave of her hand that sets the logs ablaze. Conversation topics scroll through Hux’s mind, but all of them seem too ridiculous or inappropriate to try. Though she rules over a barbarian culture, there is something refined about the Queen that reminds Hux of his father and the way he carries himself as if he knows everything and therefore has the right to feel comfortable in any social circumstance.

“I hope things went well last night?” Organa says when they’re both seated at the table with steaming cups of tea.

Hux nods and hurries to sip from his cup, though the tea is too hot and burns his tongue a bit.

“I’m the only one in the village who speaks your language,” Organa says. “I’m trying to teach one of my assistants some basic terminology, so that he can serve you and the Prince here in your household, but that’s a work in progress. In the meantime, I want you to be comfortable here, and if you have any concerns, I hope you’ll speak to me about them.”

“I will,” Hux says, not actually planning to. His father instructed him to be gracious but also to trust no one, particularly the royal family.

“My son can seem rather gruff at times,” Organa says. “But he’s a kind-hearted man who takes good care of those who are loyal to him.”

This feels like both a reassurance and a subtle warning. Remain loyal and you will be rewarded.

Hux nods. “Kylo has been kind to me,” he says, his face still on fire. “I-- Slept comfortably.”

“Good.” Organa smiles and sips from her tea. “He’s been lonely for most of his life. Not for lack of company, but because of his station and his powers. Both things set him apart. I suppose you’ve heard some things about what he’s capable of?”

“I wasn’t sure if they were just rumors, but-- Yes. And I saw-- He can manipulate fire like you can.”

“It’s not fire specifically that we can control. He’s much more talented than I am. I made sure he was properly trained in this area. No one taught me how to use my own powers, but that’s a long story and perhaps best saved for another time. I only want to make sure that you’re not afraid of him after seeing evidence of what he can do. He has used his powers in battle, for the good of our people, but his training forbids him from using them against his own people, and you’re one of us now.”

“I’m not concerned about that,” Hux says, though now he is, a bit. He’s not sure what her game is, coming here like this to speak to him about Kylo as if in warning. Perhaps she’s being straightforward, but she’s very hard to read. Last night, Hux had felt as if he had only needed to look into Kylo’s eyes to gain access to his every emotion. Organa’s eyes are warm like Kylo’s, but guarded.

“Good,” Organa says, after a long pause that was perhaps awkward. She stands. “I’ll leave you now. Kylo and the others will be back from the hunt soon. It’s tradition that the newly married couple celebrates a successful hunt together. I hope you’re not too tired?”

“I’m not,” Hux says, tempted to take offense.

Queen Organa makes her departure, moving out into the village with only one guard trailing behind her as she returns to the sprawling lodge where she resides with the royal father. Hux watches her go and then turns back to the kitchen, left with the tea dishes. He clears them into the sink and then feels angry; where are their servants? Though these people are barbarians, surely the Prince and his husband will be permitted a kitchen maid. The Queen mentioned training some assistant of hers to communicate with Hux, but that may only be for purposes of ceremony and interaction with the Queen and royal father.

Hux’s mood has grown dark when he hears laughter and boasting voices out on the street, and he’s scowling when Kylo comes through the door with the dripping carcass of a deer. Kylo slings it onto the kitchen table as if it belongs there and turns to Hux. The joyous, almost boyish expression on Kylo’s face stops Hux from making any complaints that wouldn’t be understood anyway, and when Kylo pulls him close, Hux opens his mouth only to receive a long, wet kiss. There’s something demanding about the way Kylo holds Hux against him, as if he’s earned it, but there’s a tenderness, too. After the disorienting morning spent alone, Hux is glad for the chance to have Kylo in his arms again, even though Kylo is dirt streaked, the scent of his sweat now edging away from appealing and more toward unclean.

Kylo mutters some kind of endearment and drags his dirty hand through Hux’s hair. Hux grunts in acknowledgement and peeks at the deer on the table. The smell of blood is new to him. It’s not entirely off-putting, but it is dripping onto the floor at an alarming rate.

“I hope we have servants who will clean that up,” Hux says when Kylo kisses his face. “I’m certainly not going to.”

Kylo picks Hux up without attempting to answer, leaning back to check Hux’s expression when he grumbles out a surprised half-protest, his arms winding around Kylo’s neck even so. For a moment Hux is afraid he’ll be deposited onto the kitchen table alongside the deer carcass and fucked there according to some savage tradition, and he’s glad when Kylo carries him to their bedroom instead, then to the bath.

“You’re a mess,” Hux says. He takes the initiative to undress Kylo, starting with the belt that he’s now mastered. Kylo has blood streaked on his arms and across his chest, from carrying that dead beast into the house. “Do you know that your mother was here?”

Kylo responds by pulling off Hux’s tunic. He makes a low noise of approval when he sees that Hux is not wearing underthings and is already getting hard for him. When his hands travel over Hux’s bare chest and down to his cock, Hux leans into the touch, laughing under his breath. He’s laughing at himself, and at the situation, mostly out of a kind of dizzy relief that he feels he can’t yet trust. He kisses Kylo when he gives Hux a questioning look upon hearing this laughter.

The village’s plumbing is sophisticated enough that a pump fills the tub, and Hux tries not to fawn too noticeably when Kylo uses his powers to heat the water. A light steam rises over the surface after Kylo removes his hand, and he checks Hux’s expression as if to make sure that he appreciates what just happened. Hux nods and peels off his socks, eager to get clean after last nights festivities.

“Thank you,” Hux says, hoping that Kylo at least understands this phrase. “I do like a hot bath.”

Hux didn’t expect to enjoy cleaning Kylo just as much as having a soak and washing himself. Again, this is a job for servants at home, or at least for oneself if one is modest, but Kylo’s body is beautiful, and Hux can’t manage to muster up much shame for the pleasure he takes in scrubbing Kylo’s skin clean with his soapy hands. He starts with Kylo’s face, moving down to his neck and shoulders, his cock pulsing under the water as his hands move over Kylo’s chest. Kylo makes approving noises and pulls Hux’s legs open around him, his hands busy in Hux’s hair in a way that might be an effort to clean it.

“You have to use soap,” Hux says, reaching for some. “You must know that. Your hair is-- Your hair is not unsatisfactory.”

It’s actually lovely, silky with gentle waves, something Hux failed to notice during their wedding ceremony or even in bed last night. All he’d really taken time to note was that Kylo’s hair was black and overly long, but now the length seems just right, at least for the purpose of having Hux’s fingers running indulgently through it. There’s a kind of ladle available for hair-wetting, less sophisticated than the lacquered bucket Hux had in his bath at home but effective enough when Hux wets Kylo’s hair with three scoops from the tub. Kylo blinks as the water runs over his face, his massive shoulders lowered and his expression flashing between pleasure and something more like tired trust. Hux shifts into Kylo’s lap when he rubs his soapy fingers through Kylo’s hair, both of them breathing harder when their cocks slide together.

“I hope you enjoyed your hunt,” Hux says, mumbling this against Kylo’s lips after they’ve begun to rut lazily against each other, Kylo’s hands tight on his waist under the water.

Kylo blinks up at Hux and searches his eyes. He doesn’t seem frustrated by their inability to communicate-- In fact, it doesn’t feel like a barrier to communication so much as conversation. Hux feels well enough understood when Kylo wraps one big hand around both of their cocks and strokes firmly, kissing Hux’s face when he moans and nods.

Hux comes first, slumping into Kylo’s arms and panting against his shoulder. The water seems too hot in the aftermath, and he clings to Kylo gladly when he feels him shuddering through his own orgasm, his choppy exhale landing against Hux’s right ear. Though he slept well, Hux is unsteady with exhaustion when he stands, and he takes Kylo’s hand as they step out of the water. It’s a relief to find that Kylo’s next destination is the bed, and Hux falls onto it with him, lying horizontally across the mattress and rolling against Kylo’s warm, newly cleaned skin.

“Is this really my life now?” Hux asks, his eyes closed as Kylo’s fingers slide through his damp hair. “Am I now merely your bedmate, meant to wait for you here?”

Hux is almost tempted to believe he could enjoy that. So far, it’s been a welcome relief from his life at court in the East, where he spent most of his time sitting stiffly at lessons or in some authority’s audience. This respite reminds him of long ago days of childhood, when he was allowed to nap in the afternoon or fall asleep against his mother’s shoulder on carriage rides. Maybe it will quickly grow boring, but at the moment it feels like something long needed and finally recieved. He smiles, his eyes still closed, when he feels Kylo lifting his hand to kiss his wedding ring.

Hux wakes up disoriented, smelling of bath soap and clean sweat. Kylo is asleep beside him, apparently unperturbed by the sound of people entering their house. He grunts and blinks irritably when Hux shakes him awake.

“What’s going on?” Hux asks, whispering. Multiple voices can be heard from the kitchen, speaking in the Western tongue. Kylo draws Hux close again and mutters a disinterested answer. Hux yanks the blankets up to their cheeks and huddles against Kylo’s chest, listening.

After a few moments, and with considerable relief, Hux determines that these people in the kitchen are the servants, finally allowed to enter now that the initial marital bonding has occurred. He listens intently to their preparations while Kylo sleeps, his arm heavy over Hux’s side and his breath hot in Hux’s hair. Hux hears the servants hauling the deer carcass off the table-- where it likely never belonged-- and then there are hacking sounds from the yard, water running, pots and pants clanging together, muttered arguments between participants in this work. Hux sleeps thinly when he’s accepted that none of these people will enter the bedroom and demand anything of him or Kylo, homesick for the careful silence of the servants who served his household back east.

Some hours later, they are awakened by a small man with dark hair who clears his throat and blushes tremendously, standing at the end of the bed. Kylo takes one look at this man, yawns, and drops his head to the pillow again.

“Excuse me,” the man says in Hux’s language, awkward and heavily accented. “My lord, the Queen sent me to prepare you for the feast.”

“That sounds ominous,” Hux says, sneering at the bad phrasing. “As if you’re going to skin me and cook me. My husband might object.”

Kylo sighs, half asleep, and tightens his grip on Hux as if in agreement. The man at the end of the bed looks distressed, and like he didn’t entirely understand that statement, except to perceive it as some sort of criticism. His eyes have a disarmingly innocent quality that makes Hux suspicious.

“Forgive me, sir,” he says. “My name is Mitaka. I’ve been assigned to your household. I am not from the East. This language is new to me.”

“I can tell,” Hux says, and then he feels a bit cruel, despite his suspicion, because of Mitaka’s deer-like eyes. “But you’re doing fine for a beginner. What needs doing, anyway? To ready me for this feast? I’ve already bathed.”

“Just a few small preparations, my lord,” Mitaka says. “Dressing, mostly.”

Hux reaches down to pass his hand over Kylo’s hair, though his mother would say that it’s very tacky to demonstrate casual intimacy in the presence of a flustered servant. Hux feels smug and pleased with himself anyway. This is mine, he thinks, resting his hand on Kylo’s massive shoulder. As if everyone in this village doesn’t know it. It’s more likely that they think Hux now belongs to Kylo, or to the whole Western tribe in some respect. Hux wants it understood that he has conquered the sleeping beast in his bed, too.

Hux dresses in his tunic and allows Mitaka to introduce him to his new wardrobe, which is waiting for him in the cabinet across from the bed. Though it’s embarrassing to realize that he cares, Hux is pleased when Kylo drags himself out of bed to participate in the selection of Hux’s outfit for the feast. Kylo yawns tremendously and scratches at the flat of his stomach as he walks over to Hux and Mitaka, shamelessly naked and tossing his lovely hair back. Mitaka’s previously cooling blush intensifies, and Hux tries not to enjoy it too much. He’s a bit pink across his cheeks himself, his cock stirring at the sight of Kylo’s, which is heavy and thick even while soft. That’s been inside me, Hux thinks, flushing as he nods thoughtlessly at something Mitaka stammers about underthings.

Kylo has opinions about Hux’s clothes, and he offers them to Mitaka in the same cocky tone he used during the wedding ceremony yesterday, short and to the point, not listening to Mitaka’s half-articulated responses. Hux has opinions, too, and he takes some things out of Kylo’s hands and shakes his head when they’re too ostentatious or the colors seem wrong. Kylo frowns at these corrections. Hux ignores Kylo’s protests except to press a gently admonishing hand to his arm in rebuttal. It works well enough; Hux has seen both of his parents use this technique on each other. He remembers his mother fretting that Western people might not be affectionate and grins at his reflection in the mirror inside the bureau as Mitaka presses a fine tunic over his bare chest. Hux should have known his mother’s worry was pointless: it seems obvious now that even the most brutal warrior would be vulnerable to anything soft in the privacy of his rooms.

The process of getting Hux dressed is a delicate dance of semi-verbal communication, but Hux feels comfortable within it, bolstered by his success in the bed and the bath. By the time Kylo is dressing for the feast, Hux is fully outfitted in a tunic resembling the one he arrived in, pants that are tighter than the ones he’s accustomed to, plain but well-made boots and a light coat with bright red piping. He’s wearing a circlet over his hair and silver bracelets that are like finer compliments to Kylo’s leather armbands, which Mitaka helps him tie. Hux smiles at Kylo from across the room as he waits for him to finish with his own preparations. Kylo lifts his chin slightly and allows his lips to twitch into a tiny smirk before resuming a stony expression for Mitaka, who straightens and unrolls a selection of hair clips for Kylo.

Hux feels a bit ridiculous as he walks to the center of the village with Kylo’s hand in his, trying not to shrink against the volume of the villagers who cheer wildly as they approach. It seems as if the entire population has come out to see them, and though guards are present Hux would prefer it if the commoners hadn’t been allowed to come so close. Hux smiles as he’s not startled by the display, keeping a tight hold on Kylo’s hand. Kylo roars some boasting statement to the crowd, and an even louder cheer goes up. Hux stiffens instinctively, more accustomed to polite applause from a distance. He feels somewhat better when Kylo tucks an arm around his waist and draws him closer.

“You look lovely,” Organa says when they’ve made their way to her table at the center of the square, decorated lavishly and sporting several bottles of what appears to be liquor. Hux nods in thanks and eyes the bottles, in need of a drink. Organa says something to Kylo in their language and he grunts. He doesn’t seem to respect her, or perhaps they’re so close that formalities are not observed even in the presence of their people.

“Greetings,” the royal father says when Hux’s gaze shifts to his, and Hux can see some of Kylo’s prideful distaste for ceremony in his father’s humorless expression.

Hux is introduced to others, and their names wash over him with increasing irrelevance as servants refill his wine cup. Kylo partakes liberally as well, and tugs Hux closer and closer on the wide chair they’re both seated on as the meal continues into dusk and then past nightfall. There is music, some people give speeches, and Kylo accepts many gifts, passing them into Hux’s hands and peering at him with a kind of entreating gaze that makes Hux want to swoon in and kiss him, because it feels as if Kylo is asking for Hux’s permission to enjoy each new treasure that’s passed into their hands, hoping he’ll approve. Hux nods indulgently every time, even when they’re given a giant, stinking wheel of cheese by some peasant.

The dancing that Hux has dreaded commences after the dishes are cleared away, and Hux is anxious despite all the wine he’s consumed, but his trepidation doesn’t last long. Kylo is a terrible dancer, as far as Hux can tell, out of step with the others, but everyone in attendance is fairly drunk and the music is loud enough to conceal the absurdity of Hux’s own terrible dancing. Somehow this parade of embarrassments becomes fun, and Hux is laughing along with the others as he falls against Kylo and allows himself to be swayed back and forth, wildly or languidly, according to the music. Twice Hux feels Kylo’s erection nudging his thigh from beneath his heavy breeches, and he presses his red face to Kylo’s shoulder, similarly affected within his tightening pants.

Their departure from the feast is a stumbling blur, and Hux’s reservations about a repeat performance of last night’s festivities are gone as soon as his back hits the bed. He’s reckless, mumbling endearments against Kylo’s lips and tugging his fine new clothes off, scattering them across the bed. He’s still got his bracelets on when Kylo pushes into him again, oil slathered between them and Kylo’s mouth on his neck. Hux can feel the rawness of his first time as Kylo slides in and out of him, but even the lingering sting feels good. It all feels so unexpectedly, almost inexplicably good. Hux throws his head back, moans, digs his heels into Kylo’s back and rolls his own nipples between his fingers while Kylo fucks him very slowly.

“I love this,” Hux says, aware that he’s babbling but so far past caring that he feels free to do anything from now on, even this. “And you,” he says, grabbing Kylo’s face with both hands. “And you,” he says again, more softly, his lips bumping against Kylo’s and then opening for his tongue.

He’s not even sure if it’s true: how could it be? But when he falls asleep in Kylo’s arms it feels just as impossible that this drunken declaration could be anything less than entirely accurate. Hux is sore and spent and sated, in love with this feeling and therefore, at least for now, with the man who is wrapped around him in their marriage bed.

**

Hux wakes up with a headache and a sense of foreboding so intense and immediate that it feels like an additional physical pain. When he lifts his head from the pillow and sees a scarred ghoul standing at the window over the bed and hatefully peering in at him, he knows why. He’s in danger: that thing outside, its face twisted in a hissing grimace, wants to kill him.

He jerks, tries to scream, and awakens from the nightmare.

The first thing he notices is that he’s alone in the bed. He whirls toward the window, bracing himself to be attacked, but there is no ghoul snarling in at him. It’s still very dark out, the moon behind some clouds, and Hux’s heart is still slamming as if it knows, despite evidence to the contrary, that he’s in grave danger that swiftly approaches.

“Kylo?” he calls, staring at the dark doorway that leads out to the rest of the house. The night is silent, and so calm that it feels like a threat, like an unseen beast that stalks him, waiting to pounce. “Ren?” he tries, his voice steadying a bit.

No answer comes, and Hux shudders beneath the blankets when he realizes he’s alone in the house. He’s not a deep sleeper, and when Ren left the bed he should have awakened. Maybe it was the alcohol that prevented this. He checks the window again, shivering even when he sees no one standing there. The ghoul in his dream had been horrible not just in appearance but in a kind of unmatched malicious energy, as if it represented evil itself, a force so pure in its hatred that it was inhuman. The form it took could have been human, like that of a very old man who had suffered disfiguring injuries to his face long ago, but it resembled a reanimated skeleton just as much as it did a man.

“Kylo?” Hux says again, softly. He knows Kylo won’t hear him, but he wants to call for him again, the face at the window in his dream still vivid enough in his memory to seem like that of a real enemy.

The sun has started to come up by the time Hux hears Kylo’s footsteps on the front path, and Hux hasn’t been able to get back to sleep. He sits up, unwilling to be kind about Kylo’s unexplained absence and return this time, no matter how happy he appears when he comes through the doorway.

But this is nothing like Kylo’s return from the hunt: he’s alone, the whole village still silent outside. He halts in the bedroom doorway as if he’s surprised to find Hux awake. He looks frightened, pale and exhausted.

“Where have you been?” Hux asks, though he knows he won’t get an answer.

Kylo shakes his head. He takes off his sword and holster, shoves his pants down and kicks his boots off along with them. When he moves toward the bed, Hux glowers at him. Kylo ducks his eyes away and slumps onto the pillows, scooting closer and reaching for Hux.

“Where were you?” Hux asks when Kylo’s arm slides around him. His skin is cool, which is alarming, considering that even the eastern chill hadn’t seemed to reach him on their wedding day. He’s shivering.

“Master,” Kylo says, muttering.

Hux snorts; at home, that word means something that Kylo isn’t likely to apply to Hux.

“Are you all right?” Hux asks.

Kylo pinches his eyes shut and swallows heavily. He clutches at Hux more desperately when Hux strokes his hair.

Hux turns to the window, the hair at the back of his neck rising when he fears again that he’ll find that ghoul from his dream watching them. He tugs the blankets up over Kylo, not quite relieved to see nothing. Something is wrong; Kylo is obviously stricken, and Hux can’t shake the feeling that something powerful took him from their bed last night.

“Well,” Hux says, turning away from the window and settling against Kylo, their foreheads pressed together. “There’s only one thing for it. You’re going to have to learn to speak my language so you can explain yourself to me. I’ll learn yours, too, naturally, but I’d like it if we had one we could speak in the presence of the villagers without being understood, also. That would come in handy, don’t you think?”

Hux is babbling nervously, but he means what he’s saying. His head still hurts from all the drinking they did at the feast. He runs his fingertips over Kylo’s clammy cheek.

“Are you mine?” Kylo asks in a whisper, lifting his gaze to meet Hux’s.

For a moment Hux is startled, as if this is a signal that Kylo knows at least some of his language already, but he’s only repeating what Hux asked on their wedding night, thinking it means something it doesn’t. The look in Kylo’s eyes indicates that he thinks he’s asking Will everything be okay? or Can you help me?

“Yes,” Hux says, in answer to all of those questions. He nods and kisses Kylo’s face, heartened when he feels Kylo’s skin beginning to warm under his hands. “Yes, of course.”

Kylo huddles against Hux’s chest, pressing his face to Hux’s throat. He sighs and holds on tight, his shivering ceasing as he sinks into sleep. Outside, the sun continues to rise. Hux strokes his husband’s hair and feels something rising through him, too. He’s waited so long for a war of his own, a chance to prove that he’s more than a strong leader’s well-guarded son. He wouldn’t have guessed that this battle might involve saving the massive barbarian he married from some mysterious menace that steals him from their bed in the dark of night, but he feels determined, as the room fills with light, to do whatever he must to keep his beloved oaf safe from any evil his own magic can’t defeat.

 

**