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Psychomachia

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When they first met, Starkiller Base was nothing but a glorified snowball, Hux was a second lieutenant, and Kylo Ren was a mild warning in his daily briefing.

The Knights of Ren were greeted by General N., best left unnamed; she died under mysterious and very advantageous circumstances years later. One could argue that murdering his fellow officers in cold blood did not make Hux a valuable asset to the First Order. By Hux’s logic, such an assumption would be wrong, of course. He had the best interest of the galaxy at heart, and the best interest of the galaxy happened to be him.

How he came to meet Ren had nothing to do with his scheming and plotting. For the most part, it was General N.’s fault. She simply had too many damn officers on duty, and she wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, so she’d send most of the lower ranks to strategical fieldwork, which meant that one had to confirm whether the weather was too bloody awful to get any work done.

On that day, the weather was especially bloody awful.

Hux was huddled close to a lieutenant and about twenty warrant officers, much to his discomfort. They kept him warm, but they kept him away from supervising the stormtroopers. The group was observing in blissful apathy as a distant snowstorm swept hangar V17 away.

“There it goes,” one of them muttered.

“Good riddance.”

Hux was much more interested in the black silhouettes he assumed to be the Knights of Ren, marching two by two towards the relative safety of hangar V16. Their black cloaks were flapping around, their faces hidden under heavy masks. They looked menacing and otherworldly and pretty pissed, nightmarish demeanors tempered by the impression of a group of tourists whose holiday just got ruined.  A visibly distressed General N. trailed behind them, trying her best to excuse the weather, and she was failing spectacularly.

Hux had heard of the Knights, but had never met any, so he got oddly excited. They were the stuff of legends in the Order, or more exactly, the stuff of drunken cryptic gossip. Hux couldn’t care less about the horrors of the Force, but he liked rubbing shoulders with people of great importance, and he had a weak spot for prized warriors. With a touch of naivety, he decided for himself that Lord Kylo Ren must be the tallest one. From this distance, he looked like a very imposing burial flag on a tall poll.

Hux was watching him, veiled by glistering and seething snow. He wanted to savor every moment of the happy accident of laying eyes on the Supreme Leader’s favorite. A borderline titillating sensation crept up his spine; he was watching the reflection of his own importance in someone else’s prism, shining brilliantly. Hux’s accomplishments had little to do with his birthname, to which he barely had a claim anyway, and his expensive schooling had only gotten him so far; but he had a keen eye and a sharp brain.

Exhibit A: there were about thirty people around, and he was the only one who spotted that the icicles hanging on the roof of hangar V16 started dribbling.

He connected the dots within a second. Dribbling icicles in the middle of a snowstorm meant sudden heat; sudden heat in a hangar meant malfunctioning; malfunctioning in a hangar meant explosions.

“Get down!”

His voice was piercing, and the wind carried it. He dived into the snow, and the warrant officers followed suit. He kept his gaze on Probably Ren as  the furious cloud of the explosion raced towards the man, erupting into thick smoke with a deafening boom.

Get down !” echoed General N., late and utterly unnecessary. The Knights fell  in formation the same soundless way birds fly in a V. Hux fancied he could hear great wings flapping, and then he realised the Knights must be speaking in a long-dead language, many voices but the same ancient words whispering at the edge of his consciousness. Hux watched, mouth agape, as Ren lifted his hand and, spreading his fingers, pushed the explosion back.

The Knights were all standing there, arms outstretched, as the explosion started devouring itself, flicks of flames crackling and spitting sparks. An X-wing emerged from the burning hangar: the arsonist.

“Stop it!” Hux yelled, knowing that it was impossible, hoping that the Knights of Ren could do the impossible.

The Knights reached for the starfighter, dreamy, as if they were yearning to touch it, and then Ren curled his hand into a fist.

The X-wing stopped.

There was a pulsing sound. The whispers were back. The snowflakes were dancing around with the sparks, but everything else was motionless. The vehicle tried to get away, engines roaring, but the Force pulled it back; Hux could feel it resonating through his bones.

The X-wing was slanting downwards, softly, as if it wasn’t weighing anything at all.

The lieutenant mouthed:

“It can’t be.”

Hux allowed himself a faint smirk and didn’t say anything as he got to his feet.

 

The Knights of Ren stopped a starfighter in its flight. The case was a curious incident, but not of any interest as far as the Order was concerned. The pilot was dead by the end of the interrogation process, and he didn't give them anything useful. The X-wing was an old model, and couldn't be traced either to the New Republic or the Resistance. The cold war raged on.

 

When Hux made sure that he had nothing of importance to report, he approached his senior officer.

“I'm asking to be brought before court, ma’am.”

Lieutenant Leqarna just looked at him. “What’s this about?” 

“I issued a command I should not have. My superiors were present, and I acted on behalf of them without permission. It was wrong of me, and I take full responsibility.”

Lieutenant Leqarna pinched the bridge of her nose, and muttered, tired and resigned, “Hux, for stars’ sake, you won't be punished for this. If anything, you'll be promoted. You’re dismissed.”

Hux saluted her, and dropped his shoulders as if he was relieved, eyes glinting with phony glee.

He needed his so-called superiors to believe that he was talented, but unambitious, an obedient genius whose sole bliss was a patronizing pat on his shoulders. He aimed for the impression of a man who shoved a stick up his arse every morning, and then jerked off to the Order’s manifesto.

He came up with the plans of the revised stormtrooper programme during his cadet years. He made a pretty slideshow and everything, which he proudly presented to the Academy's debating society. He planned the troopers’ syllabi from year zero in exquisite detail.  

His project got the attention of the First Order, and of course, his father, who cursed him for tampering with his ideas, called him a fraud and a sellout. It didn't matter; the Order hailed him as a prodigy.

He had no hope of actually leading the stormtrooper programme; he was unqualified and far too young, but the Order had noticed him, and preferred his bold innovations to his father's dated ideas.

He was climbing the ladder steadily whilst innocently whistling. By the time he was second lieutenant, he was working on the early drafts of Starkiller Base with the First Order's selected engineers, and so it happened that no one cared anymore whether he’s seen real battle. The bony bastard that he was proved to be more valuable than the well-bred and battle-worn veterans; and he was just getting started.

He was an excellent strategist and inventor and to top it all, a superb shot. The Supreme Leader referred to him as “a virtuoso in the art of war” in one of his briefings, and Hux bowed his head to the compliment with calculated modesty.

The sole fault regarding his aspirations was that neither the stormtrooper programme, nor the newest death star would be enough to fulfill them, to make him the rightful leader of the galaxy. They merely served the First Order's interest.

And that's how Ren came into the picture.

Hux carried the frozen explosion in his memories, the roar of the engines forever ringing in his ears. He wasn’t given the gift of the Force at birth, but then again, he wasn’t given anything: his whole life, he was fighting and winning. He would have this power at command. He was entitled to it.

 

The problem was that Ren turned out to be an untamable twit. They ran into each other again on the ashes of a freshly occupied planet in the Thesme sector, near Ios. Lieutenant Hux was sent there to oversee the reprogramming of the troopers. Most of the buildings were still emitting smoke. Ren stepped out of the haze, rather dramatically, leading a Caridian prisoner like nobody’s business. The sentient had a vacant expression on its face, following Ren’s trudging footsteps.   

Hux suppressed a coughing fit by sheer power of will, and stood at attention, saluting. Let it be stated that there was no need for him to do it.

Ren’s data was inaccessible, but Hux figured that he was neither below nor above his ranks, which made him something of a helpful civilian in his eyes. Therefore, it was Hux who should’ve been saluted, but he was feeling generous. He regretted it within a minute. Ren marched past him, smelling of dirt and death, and through a vocoder, he said:

“At ease, Snowflakes.”

Hux had to double his sedatives for three days after that to calm his nerves.

 

He was a professional, which meant that he didn’t let petty incidents cloud his judgement. When he was sent to debrief the Knights of Ren abroad the Vanguard he took his orders with grace and a swig of johrian whiskey. He finished his shift, cross-checking data, back straight, shoulders square.

The Knights gathered in the finest boardroom of the star destroyer. The faint, familiar lights of the universe through the room’s viewport were a comforting sight. The circle of the Knights was not. They were sitting in static silence, cloaked, masked, alarmingly armed with a variety of weapons. Hux was pretty sure he spotted a prod. An actual prod .

“On behalf of the crew, I wish to extend a gracious and inclusive welcome to all of you,” he said, voice clear. “I’m Captain Hux, and I am…”

Don’t interrupt our counsel, Captain Smartass.

“...going to debrief you on the Vanguard's rules and policies,” he finished, ignoring the comment echoing in his mind. The voice was deep, intimate, young and human. He flinched, briefly. No one was looking at him anyway, and no one was talking. He marched to the control panel, and brought it online with soft taps. The holo of a map flickered into existence, and he glanced over his shoulders.

“Please let me begin at your earliest convenience.”

Ren crossed his arms. Hux didn’t know yet that it was a sure sign of a long sulk.

 

The Vanguard was slouching towards the Dagobah-system parsec by parsec, undetected by the New Republic. Hux hadn’t been informed about the objectives of the mission. He was expected to prepare the troopers and not to ask any questions. 

Ren and company had neglected to show up at the welcome dinner held in the Knights’ honor. Brigadier Tagratt lectured him the next cycle on the bridge while Hux eavesdropped, busying himself with his datapad. It was a sight to behold, Ren towering over the pale brigadier, who stood his ground despite the fact that he was scared out of his wits when it came to mysticism.

“How do you expect me to eat in this mask?”

“You could always just take it off.”

“No, I couldn’t.”

“I’m sure you could.”

“No.”

Hux wasn’t sure how the brigadier managed to convince him at the end, but Ren showed up at the next dinner. He was wearing his mask. He sat down next to Hux, balancing on the back legs of the chair the whole time with the aid of the Force.

The brawballo was bitter under Hux’s tongue. He was beginning to wonder whether his secret superweapon of a man was indeed that super.

Every meal, Ren was balancing his chair next to him, far too close, not eating, not speaking, scaring everybody else away. Brigadier Tagratt let it go on for five cycles, and then he gritted: “You don’t find the catering satisfactory, sir?”

“You don’t want to talk to me,” Ren said with a lazy wave of his hand.

Tagratt repeated: “I don’t want to talk to you.”

Ren tilted his helmet. “You’re saying goodbye to the leftovers.”

“I am saying goodbye to the leftovers. Goodbye, leftovers.”

Hux watched as the sanctioned dantooine flapjacks hovered over Ren’s tray, and splashed on his full plate. Ren hasn’t touched any of his food, and he left the cafeteria within ten minutes, as he always did, to haunt the vending machine.

Hux stayed, and watched the overflowing tray being cleared away, and Tagratt letting it happen while his stomach rumbled.

Hux was - well. He was impressed.

 

They reached sector M19 and received the order that they were to approach the planet with TIE fighters in finger four formation; Hux was appointed to be the section leader, alongside with Ren. It would have been the perfect opportunity to begin forging their allegiance, if Hux wasn’t scared for his life.

“Can you pilot a TIE-sf?” he asked, suspicious, as he approached the vehicle. Ren was just lurking around, not taking a seat.

“I don’t know, can you?” he retorted.

“Well, you see, I can’t, so that’s why I’m asking you, since if neither of us is fit to pilot this damn thing, then we got paired up by mistake.”

“There was no mistake,” Ren stated, and climbed into the cockpit.

Hux huffed. He was feeling a bit self-conscious in the heavy suit, but he knew it was necessary to wear it, therefore his reluctance to draw attention to his fragile figure was just a childish impulse to overcome. He put on the helmet, took his position, and waited for the signal.

Ren gave no signal. And he wasn’t wearing the kriffing suit either.

They jumped into space, and Hux’s stomach dropped.

He hated flying. He despised it. He loathed it just as much as being planet-bound, wasting his own time and potential. The queenly floating of the star destroyers was a completely different arrangement altogether. He was longing for the Vanguard ’s order and safety as soon as they left it. His leather gloves crackled as he was gripping the controller. The helmet’s mic projected his laboured breathing, so he started timing every inhale and exhale, and forced his knees to stop wobbling. They were sitting back-to-back with Ren, but he knew the Knight could feel his panic, could sense every little pang of his weakness.

He focused his attention to the planet below, muddy and green, clouds swirling. Beautiful. Or at least, calming.

Then he remarked:

“We’ve got company.” Pirate ships - those were the worst, flying under the radar and ambushing all and sundry. Ren grunted, and Hux was quick to warn the others: “Shield one to the shields, pirate fleet at-”

He didn’t get to finish. A yank, and the stars stretched into lines of light, just for a blink; then they were suddenly viewport to viewport with a pirate ship. Hux stared into the reptilian face of the rodian pilot, blank, black eyes huge with surprise. He could feel his hands move on their own as he fired. He saw the laser flare up, but the explosion never came, because the space turned into a tunnel again and he was firing again, tearing a ship apart with a flick of thumb.

So. This was Ren’s idea of a defense attack: he kept jumping to hyperspace without warning, taking out the enemy one by one as he moved Hux’s hands with his will. It was a moment, maybe, maybe a full minute - and then there was no pirate fleet, just wrecks drifting in the vacuum.

The radio came online. Somebody was reporting something, startled, but Hux couldn’t understand. His blood was booming in his ears. He stooped over to fight his nausea, shaking, chest heaving, and he could feel cold sweat running down his temples.

 

“You are not authorised to pull this stunt ever again, Ren. Not with me, not with any other officer. Your disrespectful behavior was not noted, and I even let your little prank with the flapjacks slide, but now it is my duty to report what you did.”

“Go ahead,” Ren answered, distraught.

They were trudging through the damp swamp of the jungle, followed by the tu-whit of unnamed creatures and nasty, squidgy noises. Hux waited until it was just the two of them; public humiliation was not necessary his method of preference. It was just like Ren not to appreciate or even acknowledge his exemplary discretion.  

The Knight didn’t change clothes, and he was slowed down by the wet and muddy mess of his attire. Hux set an example by taking his helmet off, and breathing in the foul and muggy fog. He was stepping over the twisted roots of the giant trees with ease, pushing lianes away. Ren trudged on, as he was pulled by a magnet into the darkness.

“I don’t think you understand the gravity of your actions.”

“Generally, or in this specific case?”

“In this specific case.”

“You have a problem with me killing our enemies?”

Hux’s step faltered.

“I must confess that you’re an outstanding pilot, but it’s not the point.”

“I take it you haven’t seen Poe Dameron fly anything. I’d appreciate if you’d be discreet about my humble skills.”

“I’ve been nothing but discreet, and you returned the favor by discreetly invading my mind. I must admit that it was effective, but if you plan to use this technique in the future on anyone, we must establish the rules. It would be unacceptable if you could exercise your power without any control whatsoever. You’re directly responsible to the Supreme Leader; therefore, you need his permission to grant you access to-”

“My own powers? I don’t think so. Your understanding of the Force is amusing at best, Hux. You can’t tell me how to use it.”

“Captain. You will call me Captain Hux. Let’s get it out of the way: how should I address you when I tell you that you’re wrong?”

Ren refused to answer. Hux let his gaze roam over him, and asked, voice soft:

“Is it ‘Ben Solo, you’re wrong’ or can I call you Ben?”

Ren turned on his heels, reaching towards him, fingers curling like claws. Hux began to choke, with pitiful, wet sounds, grabbing his throat by reflex. His helmet dropped to the mud. He was smirking, triumphant.

“How did you know?” Ren screamed. “Who told you?”

Hux snickered, and pointed at his neck with a sad grimace, signalling that he can’t speak. Ren let go of him, and Hux fell to his knees. His throat was burning as he gulped down air, and he could feel the cold mud crawling closer, drenching his pants. He heard a fizzling sound. He looked up, and he was faced with red, crackling light as Ren pointed his sword at his throat. He never seen a real lightsaber up close. His nose was filled with the smell of ozone, and the heat was unbearable. He didn’t draw back. He was trying to make eye-contact with Ren through the mask.

“Speak,” Ren spat. Hux licked his lips.

“I’d like to stand first, if you don’t mind.”

“Stay right where you are.”

“You’re pointing a weapon at a captain of the First Order. You do realise it’s treason, don’t you?”

“Your offense is worse than treason.”

“You’ll extinguish your lightsaber by the count of three.”

Ren stepped back, but his lightsaber was still very much ignited. It was okay. Hux could work with it. He stood up, as gracefully as he could muster. His voice was raw and hoarse.

“Your identity is only logical, and if I was able to figure it out, others will do the same, believe me. You’re extremely cautious about revealing your face. Your profile is inaccessible. As I mentioned, you’re an exceptional pilot, and a Force-user; I assume the two facts are connected. We’re here on Dagobah, and why would anyone come here? I think you’re looking for your old master. I think you’re the lost son of General Solo and Organa. You’ve been reported missing by the New Republic, but according to the First Order’s files, you’ve been declared dead by them. Why would our data tell a different story? I’ve always wondered.”

“It’s forbidden-” Ren drew a deep breath, and started again; this time, his voice didn’t waver. “It is forbidden to speak that name, according to the orders of Supreme Leader Snoke.”

“Which makes your identity all the more obvious, if you ask me. They’re doing a piss poor job at hiding you. It’s not my fault that I’ve got a brain.”

“You can’t call me… that.”

“It’s not in my interest.”

Ren tilted his head, and turned off his lightsaber, almost as an afterthought. Hux didn’t let his relief show.

“I could erase your discovery from your memory.”

“As I said, it’s not in my interest to reveal your precious little secret to anyone. I merely made a suggestion to guard your incognito better. I would deeply appreciate if you wouldn't threaten me with mind tricks. You must know by now how I feel about them.” He leaned closer, although Ren was still a good step away. “I’m warning you, Ren. I won’t stand for your games. You will learn to respect me, or face the consequences. Now we will go back to camp and join the others. Follow me.”

As he turned on his heels, he didn’t know what to expect. The chances of Ren cutting him in half or obeying him were roughly the same.

The odds turned out to be in his favor.

 

They returned to the Vanguard after a long and fruitless mission, still smelling of the swamp; thirty-two standard hours wasted on finding nothing but a crumbling hut and a blanket.

However, there was an unexpected outcome.

Kylo Ren had fallen in love.

Either that, or he wanted to murder Hux.

He was following him around with the insistence of a stray beast haunting its prey. He was keeping his distance, but he pursued Hux, trailing behind him through the endless corridors. Hux had three shifts to complete in front of a panel, and Ren was just behind his station for the entire time. Hux refused to acknowledge him.

When he went to his quarters, Ren was still just a few steps behind. Hux let himself in with his cylinder, and looked behind his shoulder, eyebrows arched.

“Will you be joining me for a sanistream or would you rather let me know what’s going on?”

Ren draw back, shocked, like he wasn’t expecting Hux to speak with him ever again; then he said:

“Come with me to Sullust.”

“Why would I do that?”

Silence. Hux elaborated:

“As their captain, my place is with my stormtroopers. Between us, I have no idea why I was assigned to this mission; believe me, it’s not my usual sphere of action. I’ve done my duty. Have a good night and a safe journey, Ren. Your secret is safe with me. We might meet again, although I doubt it. It’s a huge galaxy.”

 

“You should be at Sullust!” General N. shouted through the blizzard. Hux saluted her, coat flapping and teeth chattering, and cried:

“I beg to differ, ma’am!”

 N. was very agitated.

“You’ve got an order, turn back!”

“May I inquire whose order are we talking about?”

“Lord Ren’s!”

“He’s not authorised to give orders!” 

They stared at each other. The deafening wind blew on.

“The wording was quite precise!”

“Lord Ren got this idea that he needs a captain on his expedition, but it does not mean…”

“No, he was asking for you! By name!”

Hux was shaking his head.

“He’s in no position to do that. I suggest sending Xakic. Ma’am.”

 N. considered it, lost in thought, then dismissed him with an impatent wave of her hand. 

 

Hux was convinced he did the right thing. His sentiment wasn’t changed by the fact that Xakic Hollinger returned from the mission in critical condition. His lungs had collapsed. His neck wasn’t bruised. Hux saw the medical droids carrying him through the main corridor, beeping in alarm, and he didn’t feel regret or compassion. 

There was the thrill of discovery, however: Ren wanted to kill him indeed. Hux revealed his secret identity, so he wanted him out of the way. Problem is, it didn’t make sense. Ren wouldn’t be so cunning and circumstantial about neutralizing him, he would just simply behead him or something. His next unofficial command ordered Hux to Serenno. He didn’t go, and this time around, he didn’t send a fill-in captain.

 

Hux was overseeing the trooper’s Logistics IV exam, swelling with pride, blaster at his hips. He believed that the military presence of officers on such occasions as this was essential, so the troopers didn’t think they were wasting their time with theoretical education. The ranks were standing around at parade rest, and the troopers simply didn’t dare disappoint them. Hux was effectively intimidating them into success.

His comm unit buzzed, but he ignored it. He had his full attention at his men, who looked more determined than afraid; a major difference between the methods of him and his father. His comm buzzed again, this time at emergency frequency. He glanced at Staff Sergeant Phasma and signalled her to take over.

He only opened the message once he was out of the hall.

SystemFailure@SectorWB88//TROOPER_DOWN

Hux arrived a-running, with just enough hurry which would make him look breathless, but not so much to be disheveled. The wounded trooper had been carried away, but horrors were still waiting in Sector WB88. The floor was slippery with blood, and the expensive panels were all ruined - red-hot cuts crossed them in a haphazard pattern. The air smelled of melting durasteel and ozone, of course.

Hux swallowed, and calmed his features.

“Lord Ren is on the planet, I presume?”

The private on duty saluted him.

“Yessir.”

“Did he send for me?”

“Not this time, sir.”

“Where can I find him?”

There was a slight pause.

“He was headed to the officer’s quarters, sir.”

Hux nodded, and got on his way. The private called after him:

“Sir? MT-2345 didn’t survive.”

 

Hux was strolling through the black corridors, lights swimming before his eyes. The door to Ren’s room was open, control-panel smashed. He let himself in.

Ren was sitting on the floor, cross-legged, the eye of the storm which must have swept through his bedroom. His huge hands were resting on his knees, shoulders tensing and relaxing as if he was running. Hux attempted to take a step towards him, but he couldn’t. Ren glanced over his shoulder.

He didn’t have the mask on.

His face was concealed by his hood; a flash of a striking profile, big nose, plush lips and a soft jawline.

“You’ll close your eyes.”

“I’m closing my eyes.”

“You’ll step forward now.”

“I’m stepping forward now.”

“Speak.”

Hux opened his mouth, but couldn’t find his voice, dizzy with a foreign sensation. It wouldn’t feel right to disturb the silence which was left behind Ren’s voice, his real voice with that curious intonation. Hux wetted his lips.

“I’ll need to ask for your credit ID.”

“That’s strange. Why do you need it?”

“Do you have any idea how much the training of a single stormtrooper costs? Do you have any idea how valuable was the equipment you’ve ruined?”

“You want to deduct it from my pay? That’s cute.” He sounded amused.

“It’s only fair."

“I don’t get paid.”

Hux straightened his back. His eyes were still closed.

“Is that so?”

“My needs are covered by the Order. And I don’t need much.”

“You’re telling me they’re giving you gift coupons?”

“Something like that.”

“I can still cut your fuel cost. You travel an awful lot.”

“Believe me, I don’t go sightseeing.”

By the sound of it, Ren had risen to his feet and stretched. Hux furrowed his brows. The darkness he was seeing was lined by the velvet of Ren’s voice.

“I can’t figure out why you are so insistent about me coming along with you. You have a dozen captains ready to comply, but don’t expect any volunteers after what you did to the late Hollinger.”

“I want you.”

“Your fixation is worrying.”

“You don’t need to worry.” Ren stepped closer. He smelled of the cold ventilation air of spaceships.

“I have the same reasons to worry as you do.”

“Are you threatening me, Hux?”

“Captain. I’m warning you. I won’t tolerate you sabotaging the First Order for your personal interests.” 

“And what are my personal interests?”

“Me, apparently. You wanted to see me. Why?”

 “I wanted to see you,” Ren said, slowly. He tilted Hux’s chin with his fingertips. He wasn’t wearing gloves. His thumbs ghosted over Hux’s cheekbones and fluttering eyelashes, following the dark, swelled circles of uneasy rest, and then he leaned in. He touched his lips to Hux’s, who opened his mouth for him, fed up by his gentle scrutiny. Ren licked into the heat, experimentally, and Hux huffed, taking the lead. He grabbed a fistful of Ren’s hair (which was definitely not regulation length) and pulled him in for a bruising kiss.

 “You idiot,” he groaned. “Must you be so trivial?”

 “Don’t make haste assumptions.” Ren gave him a final peck, and stepped back. “I want you to come with me to Naboo. I want you to volunteer. For now: leave me. I need to think.”

 

Hux returned to the exam hall. He didn’t look any different; if his lips were still tingling a bit, he was the only one to know it. His face was blank, expressions controlled.

He gave himself five minutes to find a logical explanation to Ren’s affections. No, that wasn’t the right word - attachment, rather. He noted that he himself was attracted to the man, even though he only had a faint recollection and some wild guesses of what he looked like. If having frenzied sex disguised as fraternization was the way to let the stress out of their system and work together more efficiently in the future, it was a welcomed solution indeed. However, he knew that Ren’s motivation had little to do with this line of thought, and it didn’t matter, anyway. The real question was what motivated Ben.

 

Ben Solo's early years were well-documented, and Hux had no problem accessing the files. He scrolled through the lost boy’s life while enjoying his evening cigarra. Ben had plenty of public appearances, usually hiding behind his mother’s skirt or cheering for his father at his races. He was a junior swooprace champion and a well-behaved student, apart from some petty offences. There were tattletale rumours which tried to portray him as a spoiled princeling, but the general opinion seemed to be that he was a good, boring kid. There was no official holo which would show him as an adult, only some sketches of a lanky adolescent. Hux was examining them with great care, and he was positive that they looked nothing like him.  

 

Ren was waiting for him in full attire the next morning. Hux was busy adjusting his gloves on his way to the cafeteria, and nodded to the man to join him. Ren tagged along, shoulders slouched.

“Have you given some thoughts to Naboo?”

“Good morning to you too, and indeed I did.”

“And? What do you say?”

“I don’t have enough information regarding the mission to make my decision.”

Ren huffed, which was distorted to a static crack by the vocoder.

“The Supreme Leader will tell us all the necessary information at 0600.”

Hux halted.

“The Supreme Leader wishes to see me and you didn’t notify me on time?”

“I’m notifying you now. You still have time for caf.”

“I need to reschedule my whole day,” Hux muttered.

“You love schedules.”

Hux frowned, and resumed walking.

“I never met him, not in person or through holo or in any way, really. You must understand that it’s a big moment for me and I would’ve appreciated…”

“0600 sharp,” Ren interrupted him, and made his exit, cloak billowing. Hux stared after him, and he couldn’t help but feel a bit neglected.

 

The boardroom which served as a holochamber was a secluded area, visited only by the Knights of Ren and the highest ranks. Hux dig his nails into his palms as he strolled through the cave with careful steps, while Ren tramped by his side with the elegance of an AT-AT.

They barely reached the holo area when the Supreme Leader flickered into existence, high on a throne. His presence filled the air, and Hux had to crane his neck to look at him. Truth be told, Hux preferred him to be a symbol, the fleshless embodiment of the First Order who’d praise him through mail.

The figure he saw before him was not fit to lead.

“I was delighted to hear that you’ve volunteered to accompany my apprentice on the mission, Captain Hux.”

He did not.

“I’m honored to be of your service,” he said.

“I appreciate your compliance; you shall be rewarded for it. Return to me with a report of success, and you’ll be promoted colonel.”

Hux’s breath hitched. Ren glanced at him. He was dizzy, heart racing, but his expression was calm and collected.

“I’m at your disposal.”

“I’ve been following your career with the utmost interest, Captain. This mission requires your imperturbability, your sense of duty and creative thinking. Your target is Senator Yvanos Tokani. His vote will decide whether the council of Theed will privately fund the fleet of the Resistance; he’s opposing the proposal. We need his assassination to be connected to the Resistance. Therefore, you shall be disguised as their followers. We got hold of a ship registered in their database. TheTempest will be waiting for you at 0900 in hangar V07. Everything is taken care of. Should you need further information, ask my apprentice. You’re dismissed.”

 

TheTempest was a profoundly impractical Theta-class T-2c shuttle, awkward and heavy, but equipped with autopilot and a class 1 hyperdrive. Still, it was cramped and uncomfortable, and the thick walls that lacked viewports made Hux feel trapped. He was hanging around in the cockpit where he could at least see hyperspace, but the idleness of lightgazing got on his nerves quickly. He retired to the small cabin he was supposed to share with Ren.

He was greeted by a rather absurd sight; Ren was sitting on the narrow bunk with legs carelessly spread, back to the wall. He was watching a holovid, still masked.

“Do you even see anything in that thing?”

“I wouldn’t need to, but I do.”

The blue holo-figure ignited his lightsaber. A little boy backed away from him. There were a couple of kids there, hiding behind the furniture of a round room.

“That’s your grandfather, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“Would you mind if I turned it off?”

“Not really.”

The lightsaber slashed through the air. Hux shut the record down.

“I want you to focus on our mission.”

“I was uhm, preparing for it.”

“You’ve done it before, haven’t you? You’ve killed sentients. Two at least.”

“There was more. So much more.”

Hux didn’t say anything. Ren hugged his chest, shoulders trembling slightly. Hux was observing him for a few seconds, then he announced:

“We’re landing in three. I suggest you get some rest.”

“Good idea.”

Hux nodded, and turned to the door.

“Don’t leave,” Ren said urgently.  

“If you’re doubting yourself, I can hardly help. I don’t know what your religion says about morality.”

“No, it’s not like that. I don’t want to talk.”

“Oh,” Hux remarked. He stepped closer.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’ve got a clear conscience?”

“I don’t think I know what you mean.”

“I mean it’s clear. That got my attention right away. Very uncommon. And the way your mind works; it’s very ordered and optimistic.”

Hux crossed his arms.

“I’m hardly optimistic.”

“You’re positive that everything will go according to plan, that everything’s gonna be fine,” Ren explained. “I think you’re the only being in this galaxy who actually believes that.”

“Because I make everything fine,” he pointed out, and felt rather silly all of a sudden.

“Such confidence,” Ren remarked. “The instant it’s gone, you notice it. My mind is so unlike yours; it’s, uhm. It’s not a good place to reside in.”

“You said you didn’t want to talk.”

“But I must keep you entertained. You get bored incredibly fast. You like being busy, otherwise you feel useless. See? You’re a good topic. You’re intriguing. Just don’t ask questions. I’m not in the mood.”

“You’re an odd man, Ren.”  

“Oh, I’m terrible,” Ren chuckled. “But you have a good effect on me. Even though you think I’m insufferable.”

“Are you reading my mind?”

“I’m reading your face. Right now, you’re flushed and your pupils are dilated. Is it fear or arousal?”

“What do you think?”

“It’s both, I guess.”

“I’m not afraid of you,” Hux said, getting down on one knee on the bunk. He leant down, and licked the mask, just with the tip of his tongue, and so slowly.

Ren moaned. Hux gripped the mouthpiece, pushing Ren’s head back so he could bite down on his exposed throat, just above the larynx. The warm flesh was a shock to his lips, and he began sinking his teeth deeper, sucking the tender skin and lapping on it. He could taste something alcoholic, probably Ren’s aftershave.

There was a metallic squeak, as if the pipes were bending. Ren’s hands were in fists.

“I’m not afraid,” he repeated.

He pushed his knee forward, so it was near Ren’s forming bulge. He didn’t touch it. He could still feel the heat.

“You said you wanted to entertain me,” he breathed, and Ren made another keen sound which Hux couldn’t hear properly. He reached for the mask, but Ren grabbed his wrists. His grip was bruising.

“Don’t.”

“Why would you want-”

“I’ll take it off, but you can’t look at me then.”

Hux inclined his head, so he was eye-level with the helmet. He was so close his hot breath was fogging it up.

“I know it’s you hiding there, Ben.”

Ren pushed him back with the Force. Hux slammed to the floor, and he hit his head so hard he was sure his nape would crack open. He reached to check it, but he realised he couldn’t lift his hands. He wasn’t breathing properly, and Ren definitely wasn’t helping by straddling him and gripping his throat.

“Don’t you dare call me that,” he warned.

Hux responded by thrusting his hips up.

“Oh, but it’s making you hard,” he remarked. “So that’s what this is about? You want me to corrupt you? To debase you?”

“Shut up.”

“Make me.”

Ren tore off the helmet, and tossed it away. There was a surprisingly heavy thud. At first, all Hux could see was a wild mane of lustrous hair, which Ren pushed back from his face. And what a face it was: narrow, young, arresting, strangely appealing and all in all, utterly lovely.

It made Hux shut up.

Briefly.

“Lie on the bunk.”

“You’re in no position-” Ren grunted; his teeth were sharp and crooked.

“On the bunk.”

Ren got to his knees, and crawled on the bunk, looking offended. Hux followed, sitting to the edge in a much more dignified manner. He touched his hand to his nape. Blood sticked to his fingertips, just as he suspected it. He considered licking it off, then just smeared it on the sheets.

Ren was watching him, lying on his stomach. His eyes were hot with fury.

“If I’m making you uncomfortable, you’re welcome to send me away,” Hux said. “Just know that I won’t ever come back. I’ve got no patience for compromises now.”

“Skip the rhetorics and just fuck me already.”

Hux tskd.

“So eager.”

“You want this as well. So let’s do it. Please.”

Ren got on his hands and knees. It was more funny than inviting. He buried his face into the slim mattress, and let Hux pull up his robe. Hux ran his gloved hands over the curve of Ren’s ass, then spread his cheeks and pressed his clothed cock to his entrance. Ren whimpered.

“Did you bring condoms or slick?” Hux inquired.

“No, I uhh.”

“You didn’t, although you were expecting that it’d come to this.”

“Yes.”

“Yes what?”

“Yes, Captain?”

“I take it you hoped I’d come prepared.”

Ren gulped.

“I will pull your pants down to your knees,” Hux told him. “I’ll jerk you off, and since we’ve got so much time on our hands, I guess I’ll finger you for a while as well. I won’t give you my cock, though. I won’t fuck you, because you’re misbehaved and unprepared, and you don’t deserve it. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Well then.”

Hux unbuckled Ren’s belt, who remarked:

“Your loss.”

“Hmm, how so?”

“I don’t quite see how you plan to come. You said nothing about touching yourself, oh, Captain.”

“There’s been a misunderstanding, Ren.” He pulled down the man’s leggings and briefs swiftly. “I don’t need this. You’ve been desperate for it.”

Ren let out a shuddering breath. Hux licked his gloved thumb, and reached back to get some blood on it.

“It won’t feel good at first.” 

Ren bit down on his arm. Hux was watching the back of his head, those pretty moles on his neck, and his ridiculous hair.

He pushed his thumb in while grabbing Ren’s cock. He was stunned for a moment. It was huge and heavy and already leaking. He started stroking it, up and up and up and down.

Ren was panting, spine arched. He began to fuck himself on Hux’s hooked thumb.

“Have you done this before?”

“Not like this.”

“How, then?”

“I. I touch myself. Sometimes.”

“Show me.”

Ren sniffed, and laced his fingers with Hux’s on his cock. He set an amateurish rhythm, quick and violent. Hux could see that the tip of his big ears were flushed pink.

“Have you ever pictured me while masturbating?”

“Oh, yeah. Frequently.”

“Why?”

Ren grunted.

“You’re very handsome.”

“That’s all you need? Someone just needs to be handsome, and you can’t control yourself anymore?”

“No, I told you- Your mind- Ah. And your hair. It’s orange.”

“Orange,” Hux repeated.

“Uhh. Could we just not talk?”

“You don’t like my voice? I’m wounded.”

“I love your accent; I don’t like the things you’re saying. You’re mocking me. Always. And, uhh, you won’t even shout at me.”

“You want me to shout at you?”

“You’re really hot when you do that.” He clenched his ass. “You sure you don’t want to join the party? You’d feel so good, I know you would.”

“I’m still not convinced you deserve it. Sit up.”

“Wha’?”

“Sit on my lap. Legs spread. I can’t see what I’m doing.”

He wasn’t sure Ren would comply, that was partly the reason he asked; but the man settled just well, back pressed to Hux’s chest, thighs open, head lolling to Hux’s shoulders. The layers of his clothes were in the way, but Hux wanted them crumpled and ruined anyway.

He could feel Ren’s heavy breathing and the trembling of his limbs, and he could hear his satisfied little sighs. He was focusing his attention on that glorious dick. Every now and then Ren attempted to take over and just fuck into Hux’s fist, but he’d pull his hand away, so Ren gave it up after a while and let him do his thing, milking out pleasure leisurely. It must have been agonizing for him, Hux’s petty patience, slim fingers rubbing him in a steady pattern when he was used to quick completion.

No wonder Ren’s control was breaking. The Force was rolling off of him in waves, pushing the furnishings away and pulling them back, pulsing in sync with the movement of Hux’s hands. He craned his neck, eyes closed, and Hux could look at his face again, could watch the color high in his cheeks and his lips trembling.

Hux nibbled at his neck again, and whispered, breath wet on the abused skin:

“Come for me, Ben.”

Ren cried out, his semen spurting over Hux’s fist. He was gasping for air, astounded, mouth forming a pretty O.

“That’s a good boy. Wish you were always like that.” He lift his dripping fingers to Ren’s lips. “Clean it up.”

 

Ren was needed at the landing, which was the only part of flying one didn’t want to leave to the autopilot. Hux was glad to see that he didn’t sit down. Neither did he put the mask back on.