Actions

Work Header

Huxloween Shots

Chapter Text

“I’ll have a coffee, please.”

“Hux,” Ren said, mouth and eyes wide open. A a wave of hair fell between his eyes, completing the gobsmacked expression. He looked like Hux had just murdered a puppy and stomped on the corpse with the heel of his boot. “What are you doing?”

“Buying a coffee?” Hux asked, tugging out a five to hand to the nice lady behind the counter. “Isn’t that what we came here for? Coffee?”

“But Hux,” Ren said, holding his hands up and not caring at all that they were now officially holding up the line. “It’s October and they have a new special.”

“If you’re trying to come up with some inane reason for me to pay for your drink, forget it,” Hux said, wondering what Ren was up to now. He was acting weird, but all the same there were people behind them and Hux wanted this date to get moving. He moved to hand the woman his money but Ren grabbed his wrist, tugging his entire arm back. Ren’s grip was almost bruising through his dress shirt and people had begun to stare. Hux hissed, “What are you doing? Let me pay the woman.”

Ren ignored Hux and turned to the lady at the counter. “Cancel that coffee order. He’ll have a pumpkin spice latte, warm, no whipped cream.”

“That is not what I ordered.” Hux kept tugging on his arm, but Ren absolutely refused to let go. “What are you doing?”

“It is October, and their pumpkin spice latte is out and it is a blasphemy to not order it,” Ren said in such a dead serious tone Hux was, quite frankly, concerned for the man’s mental health. Ren yanked Hux’s money out of his hand, and shoved it in the front of Hux’s shirt pocket. He turned to the woman and tugged out his own wallet. “Make that two, but the second one has whipped cream. I’ll pay for it.”

“Ren, I don’t want a latte,” Hux said.

“You’re getting a latte. Pumpkin with delicious spices sprinkled on top,” Ren said.

Ren glared down at the woman until she punched the order in the register and took his money. Hux never thought he’d curse how tall and intimidating his boyfriend was until this exact moment: because that unfortunate woman behind the counter was going to side with the scarier one of the two. He turned and noticed even the other people in line had taken a step back when Ren started growling.

Drat. 

Hux kept tugging on his wrist until Ren looked at Hux with a pout. The man frowned. “What? I remembered you didn’t like whipped cream.”

“I don’t like lattes, Ren,” Hux said, teeth together. “How do you remember one and not the other?”

“Because not liking the pumpkin spice latte is a moot point,” Ren said. He quickly said their names and dragged Hux over to the waiting area. “I told you, it’s October and you have to drink a pumpkin spice latte in October while they have it.”

“This isn’t part of that cult thing you’ve gotten yourself into, is it?” Hux asked, still tugging on his arm. “Because frankly, the name change and moving into that convent was bad enough when you did it last year.”

“The Knights of Ren aren’t a cult,” Ren said, growling. He kept squeezing Hux’s arm, breathing harder. “I’ve told you that multiple times. It’s a religious order of—”

“Yes, yes, a religious order of the true followers of the ‘Force’ that holds the universe and life together, I remember,” Hux said, sighing heavily. He stopped bothering trying to get his arm back and relaxed. “And Master Snoke is a true genius, I remember.”

“Sit,” Ren said, pushing Hux into the seat and finally releasing Hux’s arm. He watched the counter and stayed standing, ready to leap when the drinks became available.

“You didn’t answer,” Hux said, rubbing his wrist. He snuck a peek of his wrist under the shirt sleeve and frowned at the bruise. He’d have to get Ren back for that later. Hux shoved his sleeve back down. “Is this a Knights of Ren thing, or not?”

Ren darted a look toward Hux and then back to the counter. He shifted slightly and pressed his lips together. “Maybe.”

“You know I’m not a convert, so whatever it is you think ordering a certain flavor of latte has to do with your newfound faith doesn’t apply to me, right?” Hux asked, slowly. They’d talked about this. Ren had promised he wouldn’t drag Hux into the order if he didn’t want to. Granted, the man was stubborn enough and determined enough that anything he said was probably just a bit of humoring on his part to get Hux to stop bothering him about the cult he joined, but still. Hux waited for his answer. “Yes? You know that?”

“Yes,” Ren said, still glaring at the server, as if he could mentally make the man move faster. “I remember.”

“Then why didn’t you let me order my coffee?” Hux asked, slowly and patiently. 

Ren didn’t answer and sometimes he didn’t know why he bothered with the other man, but it wasn’t like anyone else was interested lately and even Hux needed more than Millicent for company at times. Hux was rather unpleasant himself most of the time and Ren was pretty much the only person he’d found that would put up with it, but that was beside the point.

“Ren!” Hux said, raising his voice. He didn’t even care that people were flat out staring at their domestic squabble now. “Answer the question.”

Ren turned to Hux and continued to glare as he answered. “You wouldn’t understand if I told you.”

At that moment, their names were called at the counter and Ren escaped for the moment, dashing off to get his drinks before Hux could even scold him.

The offending beverage was put in front of him and Hux stared at it. He looked at Ren as he sat across from him with his own drink, whipped cream piled high. “I’m not drinking this, Ren.”

“You are,” Ren said, in a commanding tone that left no room for argument. Hux was half terrified Ren would force feed it to him if he wasn’t careful about this. Ren tapped the table with his index finger. “Pumpkin spice is vital for this season of the year for your good health and luck in the passing days. It’s why we came here in the first place. To get this drink.”

“We came here because it’s Saturday and we always get coffee on Saturday,” Hux said, like he was explaining this to an infant. “And you seem to be missing the part where any of what you just said does not apply to me.”

“It applies to you because it’s truth whether you believe it or not!” Ren said, slamming his hands on the table. The couple behind him jumped and quickly vacated their spot to go outside. Ren bit his lip and sucked in a breath and glared at the table. “I wasn’t worried about it because I figured you’d get the seasonal drink like everyone else, but then you didn’t and I don’t want you to die.”

“Did,” Hux paused and tilted his head. “Did your Master Snoke tell you if you didn’t consume a pumpkin spice mixture in October that you would die?”

“No,” Ren said. He covered his face with his fingers, and Hux could hear him counting to ten. He pulled them down and put his hands on the table. “It’s more complicated than that and has to deal with energy and luck balance during the month seasons. You must keep yourself balanced or your luck is really bad and bad things happen to you. Like getting hit by a car or getting mugged or anything else that could lead to death.”

Hux stared.

“You do the balancing on the first of every month by consuming certain natural elements, and which ones you need to consume are based on the month season and the star chart,” Ren said, and Hux almost could not believe Ren took all of this so seriously. And he was now one hundred percent certain his boyfriend had joined a cult. Ren crossed his arms on the table and pouted. “Normally you eat what you’re supposed to on your own when I ask, or if I’m luck you eat it on your own, so this is the first time it’s been a problem.”

“Hold up,” Hux said, putting a hand in the air. “I’ve been doing what now every month?”

“Balancing your luck and energy with the universe,” Ren said, continuing to be deathly serious. He rubbed the side of his arm, shifting his leg under the table. “I know you don’t want to fully convert, but I’ve always been very concerned about your health and well being so I’ve been making sure you were on track with at least the very basics.”

“Even if I didn’t know about it.”

“I felt like it was better if you didn’t since you’re so opposed to converting.”

“And what exactly was the balancing ritual for September?” Hux asked, curious despite himself. He couldn’t even remember what they did on the first of last month that could possibly have been any different or like this current pumpkin spice latte fiasco. “What natural element or whatever did we consume?”

“Apples,” Ren said, stirring the melting whipped cream into his drink. “With sugar.”

Hux stared and looked down at the drink. He put his face in his hands and groaned. “That’s why you brought home the apple pie from your mother’s. I had wondered what had you visiting her.”

Ren sipped his drink.

Hux kept his face in his hands and spat out a random month. “What was April?”

“Strawberries.”

“Oh lord,” Hux said, dragging his fingers down. He already remembered the exact month Ren was referring to. “You surprised me with strawberries and cream for breakfast. You really have been doing this all year, haven’t you?”

“Drink your latte, Hux,” Ren said, putting his lid back on the drink and sipping it.

“How much of this do I actually have to drink?” Hux asked, knowing it was already a losing battle. “Because in all sincerity I hate sweet coffee and pumpkin-flavored anything.”

“If it was a slice of pie or something with a higher concentration of pumpkin, just a bite, but since it’s just seasoning in coffee you need to drink all of it for it to fully take effect.”

Hux scowled and glared at the offending drink. Pumpkin pie was even worse and Ren still looked a second away from picking up the drink and forcing it down Hux’s throat. This was a lost battle. Surrendering, Hux picked up the drink and took a deep gulp of it, hoping to avoid the taste by swallowing it straight down. Ren visibly relaxed and sighed happily as he took another drink out of his own cup.

“Thank you,” Ren said. He smiled contently, giving Hux those damned puppy eyes. “This makes me feel much better.”

“Are there any other little cult rituals you’ve been tricking me into without my knowledge?” Hux asked, slamming the empty cup on the table. He felt queasy and was about to go up and finally get his coffee to wash out the taste of sweetener from his mouth. “Because I want to know right now.”

Ren took a sip from his coffee and shrugged. “Nothing that isn’t for your own good.”

“We’re breaking up.” Hux got up from his seat and left the shop, tossing his empty cup into the garbage as he went.

“You say that every week,” Ren said, shouting after him. He continued sipping his cup slowly before he tilted his head. “I’m going to the store after this. Do you want me to get anything?”

Hux sighed and rubbed between his eyes. “We’re out of milk, and I wouldn’t mind if you picked up some more mints for the candy dish in the living room.”

“Will do,” Ren said, leaning back in his chair. “See you later, babe!”

Hux rolled his eyes and walked out the door to head for the car. He could still taste the blasted cinnamon and nutmeg on his lips and Ren’s satisfied smile was too much.

The things he did for that man.

Chapter Text

“I do believe you tricked me, Ben Solo,” Armitage said, dragging over the next bag. He grunted with the effort, knocking loose a few strands of his gelled back hair. Ben bit his lip, enjoying both the look of sweat on his boyfriends brow, and that he got away with this. Armitage dropped the bag next to him. “And I don’t appreciate it. Out of the two of us, I’m supposed to be the conniving one.”

“You said you wanted to come to the cabin, and this is part of the cabin,” Ben said. He grabbed the bag from where Armitage had dropped it, and tossed it over the small metal wall holding back the flames from the bonfire. The trash bag smacked into the middle, sending a wave of new embers into the air. “You said you wouldn’t mind helping with chores.”

“Chores implies helping with dishes or tidying up,” Armitage said, smacking Ben in the shoulder. “Not cleaning up the twenty bags of garbage your father left behind when he stayed with his friends last week.”

“There’s no garbage service up here and he refuses to pay the fee at the nearest dump to get permission to drop our stuff off there,” Ben said, repeating himself. He lifted his shirt and wiped his face with the base of it, ridding himself of the sweat bought on by the heat of the fire. Armitage snuck a glance at Ben’s abs and he grinned to himself. And his boyfriend thought he was sneaky. “I did tell you that.”

“But why are we doing it?” Armitage complained, rolling his sleeves up. His dress shirt had seen better days, and the same for his cleanly pressed khakis which now had an impressive stain on the side from when one of the bags split open. “Your father had three other men here for his ‘man’s night’, didn’t he? Why didn’t they do this?”

“Because I’m still in trouble from when I wrecked his car a month ago,” Ben said. He shrugged and rolled his shoulder. “I can’t exactly pay him money for it when I’m still between jobs, and this is the compromise: Doing the things he doesn’t want to.”

“Why didn’t you say that sooner?” Armitage said, throwing his hands up. “If I’d know this was part of your punishment, I never would have bothered helping. I thought you just wanted to get it done faster.”

“I do, and you’re helping,” Ben said, laughing as he walked by. “We’ve only got ten more bags to go. Come on. When we’re all done you can sit and watch the pretty fire with me.”

“It smells awful.”

“I said it looked pretty,” Ben said, “and nothing about the smell.”

“That’s not the point,” Armitage said.

“Besides,” Ben said, looking over his shoulder. “Pretty sure most of that is the compost heap over there. Dad and his friends already tossed their food in.”

“You owe me so much for this,” Armitage said. “I was promised a quiet weekend in the cabin. And so far, it’s been loud and noisy between all of this bag hauling and that fire.”

Something popped loudly in the fire pit, startling them both. Ben cursed as a few rather large embers went farther than expected, well past their rock circle and cleared area. He grabbed the water bucket and dumped it on the sizzling grass that had just ignited.

Behind him, Armitage walked over, nose scrunched as he looked at the ground. He grabbed an oven-safe rag and picked a small item up from the ground. “Is this metal?”

Ben double checked that the near-grass fire was out before walking over. He caught sight of the familiar coloring on the piece and threw the bucket down. “I can’t believe him! Dad said he sorted all of this and got rid of the plastic and shit for us.”

“You know what it is?” Armitage asked, turning it over.

“Yeah, it’s from his shaving cream,” Ben said. “He’s made me buy it for him for the past month, so there’s no way I wouldn’t know that label by now.”

“Ah, yes,” Armitage said. He tossed the metal piece into the water bucket and rolled his eyes. “Pressurized cans aren’t the best for burning.”

“I’m going to give him a piece of my mind later,” Ben said. He looked at the other bags and scratched the bag of his hair. “I don’t want to have to check these.”

“Then we won’t.” Armitage picked up the next bag and tossed it over. “Because at this point, I don’t care if the forest and that cabin burn down on accident because I’m certainly not enjoying either right now, so why should anyone else?”

“You’re cute when you’re mad,” Ben said. He grabbed the next two bags and tossed them onto the roaring flames.

“You’re lucky you’re cute,” Armitage muttered under his breath.

They finished the rest of the bags in good time, throwing the last one onto the flames around the time the sun finally past beneath the tree line. The fire burned brightly, perhaps rather large for a trash burning fire, but Ben had always loved bonfires. Maybe not the most romantic one, but the flames were still beautiful shades of orange and yellow, with a few flashes of blue here or there as it found something new to devour.

Ben took a seat on the bench next to the shed, and crossed one ankle over the other. He patted the spot beside him, and Armitage took the cue to sit next to him.

“Now what?” Armitage asked, frowning at the fire.

“We wait for it to finish, and then pour water on it until it’s drowned,” Ben said.

Armitage crossed his arms and leaned on Ben’s side, dropping his head on a welcome shoulder. “And how long does that take?”

“Hour to two hours.”

Armitage groaned and shoved his face into Ben’s shoulder. He hugged his side, and Ben couldn’t help but love it. A warm fire, a warm boyfriend, and a cool night. There were worse ways to spend a night out at the family cabin.

“We’re having sex in the master bedroom,” Armitage said, mumbling into Ben’s shoulder. “I need vengeance against your father for thinking of this as a punishment.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Ben said, laughing. “And that’s kind of creepy. My parents have sex in there.”

“I know,” Armitage said. “That’s why I want to. It’ll creep them out when they figure it out.”

“You’re going to tell them?”

“No, but I’m sure I can find someway to make it obvious the next time they stay here.”

“We’re not having sex in my parent’s bed, Armitage,” Ben said, hoping the other man was joking. “Because that’ll creep me out. And besides, you don’t want to get on my mother’s bad side.”

Armitage answered with a quick hit to the side of Ben’s ribs.

Ben took pity on his angry boyfriend and looked at the fire. He kissed the top of Armitage’s head and huffed. “If you really want revenge, we should have sex on his work table in the garage. Mom never goes in there, so it’s pretty safe on that front for us.”

“Perfect,” Armitage said, snuggling into Ben’s side. “Wake me when the fire’s over and we can get right on that.”

Ben threw an arm around Armitage and leaned back on the bench, watching the fire in the distance.

 

Chapter Text

Hux was alone in the ship corridor, and the lights had flickered off. He listened carefully for the welcome stomp of storm trooper boots, but they were nowhere to be found. It was eerily quiet in a way that allowed Hux to hear his own heartbeat, a disturbance in itself as he was sure that had frozen over some time ago.

His boots clacked on the metal surface of the walkways, and Hux breathed slowly as he moved. He had no light source, but the corridors were straight and he was far from any rooms with unpleasant drops. If he kept moving forward, he would be fine. Hux calmed himself by running scenarios through his head that would leave his ship empty and with no power to the point that even the emergency lights did not function.

He half wondered how the gravity and life support systems were functioning when the rest of the power did not.

Hux then decided he didn’t rather care to jinx the one good thing about the situation. It was bad enough he had woken in the middle of the night with an urge to do a surprise inspection of the rest of the ship. But it was far too obvious far too soon that perhaps instincts woke Hux for an entirely different reason.

The air around him felt stale, however, as if it had been sitting too long. There was something rancid about it that unsettled his stomach. Between the silence and the smell of rot, Hux was distinctly reminded of old holo films he had seen.

As a young man, his father had been most adamant that Hux not waste his time with mindless entertainment. He should be smarter and cleverer than that. So instead, Hux put his good, clever mind to use by hiding the films from his father. Thanks to good planning, Brendol Hux was none the wiser that his bastard Armitage had seen nearly every horror holo film that had been collected since the Republic before the Empire.

He had always had a fascination with those films, specifically the ones full of gore and viscera. There was something exciting about the sheer, brutal and excessive violence that was captured. It was exaggerated to surreal proportions, with bodies losing two to three times the blood they’d natural contain.

Hux also found the often stupidity of the protagonists charming. There was a catch twenty-two in those films, in that if the heroes were smart, there’d be no film. So therefore, they must act in a way that put them in danger.

For example, wandering alone always got one into trouble.

Perhaps this once, though, Hux found himself sympathetic toward those heroes. He himself was breaking such a precious rule as “Stick Together” by walking alone in the corridor. His aimless walk was even and steady, but even he couldn’t help having his eyes dart to the sides, looking for any movement.

Someone else had to be around; his Finalizer was home to thousands.

So where were they?

Hux wasn’t in a holo film, but there was definitely something wrong on his ship. He picked up his pace and check his comm again, but there was no signal.

An unnatural creak of metal came from Hux’s left. He turned, eyes near adjusted to the dark and breathed slowly. The wall was moving, bending outward near the side. The whine of the metal was harsh, as if it was dying under the force of whatever manipulated it.

Had he been a protagonist in one of his beloved films, Hux might have investigated the cause and found out what was wrong. But as a sensible man, he quickly ran the opposite direction of the metal, turning down a new corridor and hoping that it led somewhere he could hide.

Hux was not a form of entertainment; he’d be living through this, thank you.

The crash that came from behind had Hux’s feet moving faster. He tugged on his great coat, slipping his arms though the sleeves so it wouldn’t fall off in his run. Hux had already lost his hat somewhere behind in his dash. The sound of loud feet clicking on the metal was harsh in his ears.

There was a new monster on his ship.

Hux did not bother to turn and look, running all the harder through the dark corridor. Even if he had turned around, he would not have seen anything in this pitch. Hux barely avoided slamming into the wall at the end of the line, catching himself just in time with his hand held out in front as he ran.

As he turned, Hux found himself in a dead end. His hand pressed against the wall, and his breathing picked up into harsh pants. He’d have to turn around. Hux kept his hand pressed to the wall, following in case there might be a door, but there was nothing.

The loud screams of the monster chasing him continued, and it’s footsteps drew nearer.

Hux stilled as he heard the sound clearly. He turned and saw the bright, glowing eyes of the monster that had torn through his metal walls as if they were paper. Hux saw the claws, and the teeth, lit softly by the eyes’ natural light.

There was no question that it could see Hux, even in this dark.

Drops of thick liquid fell from the beast, matting in its fur and clumping against the ground in chunks. He couldn’t tell the color in the dim lighting, but Hux had a good guess that it was blood. He took a few steps in retreat, his back flat against the wall as if it could save him.

That would explain why there was no one around.

It was hard to come to the aid of your General when you were dead.

“I’m going to guess that you won’t be intimidated by a man of rank, will you?” Hux asked allowed as the beast took a few steps closer. It growled, new drops of liquid falling from its mouth. Drool this time. It was thick and plopped in sickening gobs. Hux wished he had his blaster. “Of course you won’t.”

Cornered alone in a dead end, Hux thought to himself. Perhaps he had more in common with his holo film protagonist than he would admit.

The monster made to jump toward Hux, but it stopped along with the skip in Hux’s heart when a red blade burst out of the wall next to Hux’s back.

The harsh red glow filled the corridor, and the monster took a hissing step back when the blade moved, cutting a hole in the wall. Hux dared not move, terrified that the sword may head in his direction, but it stayed clear. A second later, it flew forward, smacking into the beast.

A dark and tall, looming figure stepped through the opening, lit by the light of his glowing sword the same way the eyes had lit the other beast.

Hux nearly laughed. That was one thing the protagonists of his holo films had never had at their disposal: A monster of their own.

“General,” Ren said, tilting his head in acknowledgement.

“Just kill it, Ren,” Hux said in reply.

The knight said nothing in response, moving forward like a phantom in the night instead. The blur of his cape and red sword flew forward, sinking into the flesh of the new monster intruding on Ren’s territory.

Hux leaned against the wall, crossing his arm and leaning into the heat of the still sizzling metal to his side from where Ren had cut it. The beast was slain in mere moments, a dead body at the feet of Kylo Ren, sword still glowing in his hand.

He wondered briefly if Ren was also a fan of the horror holo film genre; it might explain his last second appearance to save the day. Ren kicked the body with a shout and sliced its head off in a small fit.

But then again, Ren was enough of a horror holo film character that perhaps he was just content living out one instead of watching them. Ren stalked back, the blood of the beast and bits of its entrails coating his tunic and cape. Hux smiled, grabbing the man’s side and tugging him down into a kiss until the man followed suit and pressed Hux into the wall.

The real thing was far better than the fiction.

 

Chapter Text

“Do not ask,” Hux said immediately upon entering the private sitting room, cutting Kylo off mid breath from his inquiry. Hux spun on his heel, eyes narrowed. “I know you’re still tempted, so I’ll say it again: Do not ask.”

Kylo clicked his mouth shut, but continued to stare blatantly at the fashion doll collection covering the shelves on the wall. The display was clearly the center point of the room, and Kylo figured this was why this study was private. There were six shelves bolted to the metal surface, with each row containing about eight to ten dolls evenly spaced across. The dolls were slim and made of heavy plastic, each dressed elegantly in formal wear from various systems.

He had a difficult time not staring at the one of Queen Amidala in traditional Naboo fashion.

Hux wouldn’t let him ask, so Kylo investigated instead.

Using the Force to summon over the doll of his grandmother, Kylo held it carefully, fingers brushing against the red fabric of her dress. The details in her make up were carefully painted, making her face look life like. Kylo looked back at the shelf and walked closer. He bit the edge of his lip and looked back at the doll in his hand.

With such great variety in fashion, make up and hair styles, it was hard to tell from a distance. But upon closer inspection there was no mistaking it: All of them were fashion dolls of his grandmother. An entire wall covered in dolls of the one and only Padmé Amidala.

“Put that back,” Hux said, slamming a cabinet door shut as he dragged out the materials they needed for the meeting. “We came to my home planet to go to a conference with the rest of the Shadow Counsel, not gawk at the doll collection.”

Kylo looked at the doll again and glanced at Hux. Even if Hux did like dolls against all odds, it was odd his main focus would be the head of the Senate he hated so much. Padmé Amidala was hardly an Imperial role model. Testing the water, Kylo commented, “I didn’t take you for a doll collector.”

“They’re not mine,” Hux said, rolling his eyes. He sat down in a chair and rubbed the side of his face. “My grandfather was a collector and apparently the set is worth a fortune so my father maintained it. He thought it was ironic to have the fallen Senator on his shelf like a prize or something.”

“And now you maintain it.”

“And now I do,” Hux said, snarling. Kylo was having a hard time judging Hux’s exact feelings about the dolls, because the waves of embarrassment of them in his house and being seen overwhelmed the rest of them. But the anger was working it’s way through. Hux pointed at the doll. “Which is why you’re going to put that down before you break it.”

“It’s a doll collection of my grandmother,” Kylo said, turning the figure around and setting her feet upright on his palm. “I think I’m entitled to look at it.”

“Grandmother?” Hux asked, staring.

Kylo snapped his mouth shut again and put the doll back. He was glad his mask covered his face at the moment. Made it easier to cover up the slip. “I didn’t say anything.”

Hux stalked halfway across the room and yanked on Kylo’s cape, proving him very wrong: The vocoder hid nothing. Hux shook his shoulder. “You certainly did. This collection is of the Queen of Naboo. Are you telling me that the Queen of Naboo is your grandmother?”

Kylo glanced to the side. “You did know that Darth Vader was my grandfather.”

“Darth Vader had a child with the Queen of Naboo?” Hux asked, eyes wide.

“They were married,” Kylo said. He tugged on Hux’s wrist to remove his hand from the cape. “And they had twins.”

“Twins.”

“One of which was my mother,” Kylo said, wincing.

“Your mother.”

There wasn’t much point in hiding it at this point. Kylo and Hux were already sleeping together, so it was probably going come out in the future anyway. Kylo sighed and gave her old title; it might soften the blow just a bit before Hux realized who she was now. “Leia Organa, Princess of Alderan.”

“The General of the Resistance is your mother,” Hux said. He dropped his hands at his side and looked at the dolls. Kylo stared in fascination as Hux’s face contorted with his thoughts from shock to disgust and back to shock. Hux pointed at the nearest doll. “You’re a prince.”

“Technically.”

“Of two planets.”

“Well, one of them’s not there any more, but I guess I’m technically the prince of the people of Alderan that are left.” Kylo paused and tilted his head. “I’m not sure about Naboo. I think they abdicated their monarchy.”

Hux turned around and sat in a chair and buried his face into his hands. He was counting under his breath.

“If you’re concerned about my loyalties, they’re first and foremost to The Order as they always have been,” Kylo said, wondering what had Hux looking that way. He didn’t move or speak and Kylo glanced at the clock. They had an hour to get to the conference and Hux was having a break down - wonderful. “Hux?”

“A poor bastard child is sleeping with a lost prince,” Hux said, looking up with the most amused look Kylo had ever seen on his face that didn’t accompany an execution. “We’re a literal fairy tale.”

“Are you okay?” Kylo asked, holding his hands up. “Because you don’t look okay.”

“On top of all of that, my grandfather used to have daydreams about sleeping with your grandmother. He always admired royalty, you see. Thought it was wonderful. Father let that slip once when he was drunk and cursing that doll collection. Apparently grandfather was very vocal about his interests.” Hux stood up and straightened his coat with a snort. “And here I am, the grandson sleeping with the grandson. I’m sleeping with a prince and living his dream, and I didn’t even know the man.”

“Is there a point to all this?” Kylo asked.

“I’m amused,” Hux said. “That’s the point.”

Kylo crossed his arms and looked back at the collection. He supposed it was sort of funny in a way. Kylo rarely gave his heritage any thought aside from his relationship to the greatest Force user of all time. He looked closer at the dolls, taking in their various outfits. Well, he wasn’t going to ruin Hux’s day if sleeping with a prince made him happy. Hux in a good mood always meant good things later.

“And boy can I not wait to tell your mother I’ve taken you to bed before I shoot her in the face.”

Hux grabbed his great coat whistling as he stalked out of the room. Kylo remained next to the doll shelf and reminded himself that Hux was very, very good in bed.

And if he happened to snap the head off one of the dolls with the Force to pay the man back for that comment, well, he’d just see how long it even took Hux to notice.

Chapter Text

The First Order had fallen. Snoke was dead and the Knights of Ren had scattered. Hux had honestly thought that was the worst of his worries this past month. But he had been wrong. He glared outside the window at the festivities. If it wasn’t the safest planet to hide from the Resistance from, Hux would have made Ren consult the Force again for another safe house. But as it stood, they were trapped on this archaic, overcrowded dirt ball.

The entirety of the planet was covered in buildings and built up cities. There wasn’t a hint of nature or non populated ground to be found. It made it perfect for hiding, assuming you fit in with the locals of course.

It was hard to be a needle in the haystack when you gathered too much attention to yourself.

“At least we don’t have to dye our hair,” Ren said, shrugging into the purple monstrosity that was masquerading as a sweater. It was covered in a black spider-web pattern, complete with small spider broaches delicately placed at the shoulder. “We’re lucky orange and black are common colors here.”

“Yes, yes,” Hux said, sighing heavily as he stared at the closet. He missed his uniform, but even the locals here were wary if you only wore a single color all the time. “We were halfway through the door of their cultural color code before we arrived.”

Black, Orange, Purple, Green, and Red.

Literally everything on the planet came in one of those shades from hair color to their clothing, accessories, and even house paint colors. The small apartment Ren and Hux had holed themselves up in was painted the most garish shade of green he’d ever seen. The trim was in orange, and it honestly made Hux want to throw up a little inside his mouth.

When you added in the local’s fixation with their wildlife (snakes, spiders, black birds, bats, and cats), it was easy to create a look to blend in.

Just not so easy to accept it.

“We do have to make an appearance in town, you know,” Ren said. He tugged his hair over the scarred half of his face, the make up only covering so much. “We haven’t been out in a few days and the neighbors worry.”

“I know,” Hux said. He gave up and pulled out an orange button up with a black cat embroidered into the fabric as if the animal were lying across his shoulders. It clashed horribly with his hair, but it was better than the purple or the green. “What are we doing, anyway?”

“Dinner party,” Ren said. He walked over to the closet and tugged out a scarf. It was decorated in spiders and he pulled it on. “Maybe this time don’t gape at the food.”

Hux tugged on his pants, sighing at the orange bats embroidered into the side of the black fabric. “How was I supposed to know it only looked like eyeballs, but weren’t actually the real thing?”

“Because I tried to tell you.”

“You keep that up and I’m wearing this stupid outfit to bed,” Hux said, yanking on the bright green boots. He was a color mishmash and he hated every second of it. He scowled at the black cat printed on the sole of his boot. “No skin for you.”

“That’s fine,” Ren said, pulling on a wide-brimmed hat with spider webbing hanging off the bag end.

“Is it now, Mr. Can’t-Keep-His-Hands-To-Himself?” Hux asked.

“I happen to think you look cute this way,” Ren said, escaping out the door and into the street before Hux could throttle him.

Chapter Text

It was like watching a switch flick.

Hux had witnessed the transformation in person on more than one occasion, though it was not nearly as common as people seemed to think. Lord Ren would be calm and in control, only a bit of humor sneaking into his voice now and again when he deemed a snarky or sarcastic comment appropriate. He was intimidating, though pleasant company in his own way. And then it happened: Some bit of particularly frustrating or bad news. Perhaps a failure on a direct subordinate’s part, or a greater loss to the Order.

And Lord Ren would snap.

His blade roared to life, and he’d turn in a full on monstrous attack to whatever happened to be closest, be it a wall or a console. The first time Hux had seen it in person, he’d been frozen in fear at the sheer ferocity of the event. It was as if Lord Ren had turned into a snarling animal that was less than human.

Then it would stop as quickly as it started.

Lord Ren would sheath his lightsaber, and continue conversation as if nothing had happened, smoking and dead equipment left in his wake. He turned from man to monster and back to man again in the same time that most people fixed a cup of coffee.

It was oddly fascinating the first few times.

Now it was so common place even the lower officers did nothing more but flinch reflexively at the loud noises when something was destroyed, less afraid of Ren’s monstrous (though fairly harmless) state, and more regretting the repairs that would come later.

It was just another part of the dear Knight of Ren that Hux’s finalizer harbored, and whether you found it boring or fascinating hardly mattered in the long run.

Hux had seen the moods come and go more than most, he’d imagine, from the sheer fact that they spent the most time together. They shared command, which meant seeing Lord Ren on the bridge or off to missions more often than not. There were briefings, and meetings, and all that other nonsense that Hux was often surprised Lord Ren attended.

Though that could just be boredom.

It wasn’t as if they had much else for the man to do when he wasn’t out on the battlefield slaughtering the Resistance and their ilk.

“General,” Lord Ren greeted as they met in the docking bay, the vocoder lightly echoing his voice behind the mask. His shuttle hummed, engines warmed and ready to go. “I assume you are prepared to leave?”

“Of course,” Hux said, walking up the loading ramp into the shuttle. “Not that much preparation was required. I dare say we’ll be done before the day is out.”

All the same, Hux had packed an overnight bag in the event something went wrong, but if they stuck to the schedule if would be a day trip at most. Land on the planet, greet the local leaders and reestablish their loyalty to the First Order, pick up their donated supplies and leave. It was such a standard trip that had not the locals demanded to see someone of High Rank as a show of good faith, Hux wouldn’t have been needed at all on this trip.

He still wasn’t sure why Lord Ren was going, aside from possibly wanting to escape the boredom of the ship. The masked knight followed Hux into the shuttle and they were ferried to the planet below without any trouble. They were about five minutes from landing when Hux checked the time, and saw the sea of trees outside the shuttle window. It was looking to be as mundane a visit as was planned.

Up until Ren stood and yelled for the pilot to raise the shields.

The ship crashed into the surface of the planet a few sparse moments later. Hux groaned from the floor of the shuttle, wondering what could have possible fired upon them. He pulled himself up, standing in the middle of the wreck, a few panels open and sparking.

“The pilot’s dead,” Lord Ren said, walking back from the cockpit. He tugged on the side of his hood, straightening it over his mask. “The entire front of the ship caved in.”

“The shields failed?” Hux asked.

Lord Ren nodded. “It appears that was the case.”

“What hit us?” Hux asked. He tugged on his sleeve and tapped toward the shuttle door. The control panel beside it sparked, and looked to be broken. Hux frowned and turned back to Lord Ren. “You were up before the impact. Did you sense it?”

“I am not sure what caused the disturbance,” Ren said. “Whoever attacked us is hiding themselves well enough that it’s hard to sense them even with the Force.”

Hux nodded and looked toward the door. “Should we see where we are? Perhaps we’re close to the locals and can send word to our contacts.”

“Something is outside the shuttle, but I can not tell what.”  Lord Ren stayed focused on the door and slowly shook his head. His fingers rolled at his side, as if they were itching to grab something. Hux wondered if Lord Ren would have one of his fits, or save it all for whatever waited outside for them. “I am not sensing anything, but I have a bad feeling all the same.”

“Are we going to investigate it, or are we going to stay in here?” Hux asked. As much as he loathed the idea of cowering from any threat, if it gave Lord Ren pause, it might be wise to reconsider dashing in blindly to the situation. “I’ll defer to your expertise for the moment.”

“They are likely to come to us regardless, so we might as well meet them head on,” Lord Ren said. He tugged his lightsaber off his belt, but did not activate it. “Stay behind me, General.”

Hux did as asked (not ordered, clearly), and stayed behind the knight.

Lord Ren held his hand up and opened the shuttle door using the Force. It was difficult to see around his broad shoulders and the heavy cape around his shoulders, but Hux saw enough: The men waiting about twenty feet from the door with the crossbow and the ysalamiri draped over their shoulders.

The Force useless, Ren lit his lightsaber and Hux went for his blaster. The men approached too quickly, the wretched ysalamiri throwing off Lord Ren’s instincts. He was able to block the arrows, but a few were close calls. Hux did his best to aim, but there was too much of a chance that he’d hit Lord Ren in the back as he stood in the narrow shuttle door. One arrow slammed into the back wall of the shuttle, giving Hux a good view of the ammunition and he cursed to himself at closer inspection: it wasn’t an arrow.

It was a syringe.

“Ren!” Hux yelled, looking up just in time to see one of the syringe needles slamming into Lord Ren’s shoulder.

The transformation was like watching a switch flick.

Lord Ren’s hands scrambled for his helmet, the fingers digging in and the absolute animal roar that came from him was a screech of agony and anger. With inhuman strength and his muscles bulging at his arms, stretching their fabric, Lord Ren ripped his mask from his head, slamming it into the ground. His eyes were wild and red, and drool dripped from the sides of his mouth.

Whatever was in that syringe, in less than a second it had transformed Lord Ren from a monster to something even worse.

Hux fell to his knees, scrambling back into the wall. His blaster clattered to the ground next to Ren’s dead lightsaber he had dropped. The knight’s body continued to contort, twisting as he screamed and stumbled forward a few steps. The attack had ceased, and the attackers watched in fascination at Lord Ren’s state. His shoulders flexed, and his entire body looked like it was struggling to contain the new mass of muscle.

Hux’s only comfort, is that his opponents did not seem to have expected this outcome, either. Hux wasn’t sure what they were hoping to accomplish, but having Lord Ren dash out of the shuttle door toward his attackers and ripping them apart limb by limb was likely not in their plans.

Blood gushed from the men who had taken down their shuttle, weapons dropped in their attempts to scramble away. Hux stayed safe in the shuttle, watching in fascination as Lord Ren killed everything with his hands over his lightsaber, even the lizards. He chased down everyone, and only one or two managed to escape back into the tree line. Lord Ren’s brutality made Hux’s stomach churn. There were no claws, nor sharp fangs that had grown, only a man wild on whatever drug had been injected into his flesh.

Hux reached for the syringe and held it up carefully. He prayed whatever was in it wore off soon, before the monster remembered his co-commander still hiding in the shuttle. Hux snapped off the needle at the end, to prevent accidentally stabbing himself with it and ruining it all. He focused on the needle, and not on the sound of bones crunching and flesh rending just a few sparse feet away.

When it went silent, Hux dared to look up.

Lord Ren loomed over him, eyes still red from the iris to the pupil. He breathed open-mouthed, hair wild and falling in his face. Drool gathered near the edge of his mouth and Hux pressed his back into the wall. Lord Ren breathed heavily, staring intently at Hux, near crazed. He slammed a hand into the wall over Hux’s head. The other one loosely held the wrist of an arm he had torn from a body, blood collecting beneath it.

“Lord Ren?” Hux asked, covering his flinch. He swallowed, and licked his lips. “Ren?”

“General,” Lord Ren said, voice hoarse. His chest heaved with his heavy breaths as if he were struggling to swallow air. Hux imagined if he were closer, he’d hear the man’s heart racing through his chest. Lord Ren sucked in air and exhaled, mouth still open as he panted. “General.”

“Yes,” Hux said. He leaned away from Lord Ren’s arm as it dragged down the wall closer to his head. Hux asked, “Are you? Are you well?”

Lord Ren dropped the limb he’d carried back with him and smiled.

Chapter Text

“Those who follow the Dark Side do not turn into Force ghosts upon death,” Ren had said once, arm draped around Hux’s side. They were both drunk in a post-coital haze. Hux still couldn’t even remember how the topic had come up. Ren nuzzled into Hux’s side, breathing evenly. “But they could still remain on this plane after death.”

“If they were strong enough, they could attach everything that they were to an object or place. Their feelings and emotions, what gave them the most power in the dark side, would linger there and torment and attack anyone who dared cross their path,” Hux remembered Ren whispering into his ear, murmuring almost. “They could drive people to madness, overwhelming them with their sheer emotion in the Force. It’s certainly a way to be remembered, don’t you think?”

“Objects?” Hux had asked, turning and pressing into Ren’s side. He kissed a collarbone and hummed. “I suppose that’s a relief. I can’t imagine it’d be pleasant should they attach themselves to something living.”

“No, no it is not,” Ren whispered back. “Very painful.”

Hux had stilled in Ren’s arms at the tense. Was it possible then? Hux wondered how that would even work. Did one spirit overtake the other? Or was it like some lingering in the back of your mind to drive oneself mad? Hux’s mind whirled with the possibilities.

Ren silenced his thoughts with a lazy kiss; a blatant distraction.

Hux should not have let him.

It was not until a few years later, long after his Starkiller was destroyed that Hux truly remembered that sleepy conversation from his quarters after a night bedding a monster. And he had such good reason to recall it when the monster had died at the hands of his Uncle, and found it fitting to attach himself to a living being.

He remembered there had been fire among them. Ren’s lightsaber had exploded in the fight (and crossed off one option for the obscenely powerful Force user to haunt), one hit too much for the overpowered weapon. It took off Ren’s hand with it, and was the start of his greatest loss.  The stab through the ribs, in an ironic placing after Ren told of his father's death, had been the final blow.

Ren was lucky at least that Hux had been there to grab the body and let him die in peace alone, instead of at his Uncle’s feet. The man had bled out in Hux’s arms on a shuttle bed with no blankets.

Hux did not know if it had been their proximity or their previous entanglements with each other that had allowed his leech to take hold, but either way it had happened: Ren was in his head, and heart, and soul, and anywhere else his greedy little emotions could cling, too.

It was like suffocating.

Hux hid it well.

No one was the wiser, save perhaps maybe their Supreme Leader Snoke who was sensitive to such things. But if he had noticed, he did not deem it worth enough to mention it. Hux continued to run what was left of the First Order to the best of his ability, but the loss of Ren had been devastating to morale and their troops. Hux couldn’t afford to crumble.

He couldn’t afford to lose his mind.

But Ren did not make it easy. He was a constant whisper in the back of Hux’s mind. He could feel his hands crawling over Hux’s skin. They begged for something. Anything. A madness. A kiss. A kill. Something and everything all attacking Hux’s mind at the same time in desperate need for something that he could not give.

It was constant.

Ren at his most emotional; a barrage of anger and grief and guilt, of all things. The guilt always hit the hardest. So many regrets. So many, many screaming nights of things that Ren had even managed to hide from the man he took to bed on a regular basis.

Hux felt like he would throw up from the nausea as it leaked into his own consciousness.

Ren’s ghost was like a parasite, taking over bit by bit as it sensed Hux’s weakness.

“Let go and sleep,” Ren would whisper. “I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”

“Stay in the back where you are,” Hux whispered back, saying it aloud. Speaking in his head did nothing. It only gave Ren more fuel to twist his thoughts. Sometimes Hux barely knew if what he thought was his own mind or Ren’s leaking inside. “This body is mine.”

Hux had done his research.

After he had realized what Ren had done, after he knew, Hux had researched like a madman for other cases of Force Sensitives from the dark side attaching themselves to the living. He found case after case of Haunted Artifacts and Evil Sites that were home to lingering Force Users, but very little on ones who had afflicted the living.

He had found two cases, and both involved the Force Ghost overpowering their host and taking full control of the body. And both of those cases expressed an intimate relationship between the Lord and his host.

“It’s not like that,” Ren’s echoing voice whispered, time and time again. “I promise. I promise. It’ll be good. Just let me in. Let me have this. I’ll get them for you.”

“You want me to go mad like you,” Hux said, alone in his quarters. He laid on his back, hand on his chest and the other in his hair. He breathed, and tried to ignore the sensation of Ren’s arms as they wrapped around him. He wasn’t there. It was all in Hux’s mind; a clever trick. “That’s all this is. You are not yourself.”

“Let me have you, Hux,” Ren kept whispering. “You did once before.”

“That was different.”

Ren’s hold tightened along Hux’s throat. He sucked in a heavy breath and covered his mouth. Hux’s voice was strangled as he begged, “Don’t do this.”

“Let me have you, Hux.”

Hux rolled on his side and covered his head. Fingers danced on his back and up into his hair. They were not his own. They were not there. It was all a wretched illusion that was far too real with far too many things attacking his senses. “Stop it.”

“They need to feel what I feel,” Ren said. “They need to share this hatred of mine. I’m not finished, yet. I’m not done!”

“You died, Ren,” Hux said, close to weeping at the agony that attacked his skull. It always hurt when anger ruled. Hux almost missed the guilt and grief. Nights sobbing were so much better than the ones where he feared breaking. “It’s over.”

The voice stilled in the back of his mind; the touch stopped.

“Ren?” Hux whispered, scared now of something entirely different.

“Should I leave?” The voice was soft. “I can go.”

“No,” Hux said, eyes wide open.

Ren possessing him was torture, but the thought of him leaving was even worse.

Hux lowered his arms, hugging himself across the chest. He closed his eyes and focused hard for the other being that had burrowed its way under Hux’s flesh. That clung to his heart and lungs like a vice. It hurt so badly, having two souls shoved into a body meant to hold only one. But he clung to it.

“Please do not leave, but I can’t,” Hux said. He thought of the accounts he had read. He knew what would happen if he allowed Ren to have his way like a spoiled child. Hux breathed heavily, digging his fingers into his arms. “I don’t want to disappear.”

“Let me have you,” Ren said again, voice soothing. “And you will not. I told you. I want to keep you, Hux.”

“Then keep me, and don’t you dare let go,” Hux said, giving up.

Hux closed his eyes, and Ren opened them.

Chapter Text

The punishment for contraband, depending on the severity of the offense, for Storm Troopers ranged from a few days in the brig to full on reconditioning. For Officers who were not subject to the reconditioning process (it created mindless soldiers after all, and the upper brass were required to think), the punishments were more severe as a consequence of their freedom of thought. Depending on the severity, again, an officer could expect anything from being demoted a rank to flat out exile.

Hux delivered these punishments himself most of the time, and was famous for holding strictly to this rule. Enough so that no one felt the need to include Hux himself when the rest of the crew suffered through surprise inspections.

But then again, he’d never had an officer of equal rank aboard his ship, either.

“Are those Corellian Sweets?” Ren asked, the confusion in his voice so heavy it cut through the vocoder of his mask. He snatched the bag from the desk and turned the package over and stared at the back. “Where did you get these?”

“You saw nothing,” Hux hissed, grabbing the bag back. He held it close to his chest and took a step away. “And who said you could come into my quarters unannounced?”

Ren ignored the comment; he could do what he pleased. Hux was just upset he got caught. The knight used the Force to get the bag of candy away from Hux. He shook the bag lightly. “Core World imports are banned, aren’t they, General?”

Hux’s mouth twisted in his own anger, the man’s own fiery temper burning hot. He gripped his fists and hissed. “What do you want?”

“Are you attempting to bribe me, General? Over illegal imports?” Ren asked, tossing the bag up and down. Hux’s eyes were locked on the bag and he didn’t need to sneak into the man’s mind to know he was concerned over his precious treats. They couldn’t have been easy to come by, even for a man of Hux’s rank. Ren caught the bag and held it tight. This was the best thing to happen to him all week. “My, what a rule breaker you’ve become.”

“Shut up, Ren,” Hux said. He pointed a finger at Ren’s mask and hissed. “And you’re hardly one to talk. So name it. Name your one thing you want to get away with, and I’ll turn a blind eye to it if you pretend you never saw those.”

“Ship damage,” Ren said immediately. He clutched the bag of candy in his hand and shrugged. If he was going to blackmail Hux, he might as well get something good out of it. “When I lose my temper. You won’t say a word.”

“Absolutely not! Do you know how much damage you cause whenever you do that?”

“More damage than will happen to your troops when they realize their flawless general has a weakness for sweets strong enough to break the rules of his own Order?”

Hux snapped his mouth shut and held his hand out. “Give me the bag. It’s a deal.”

“Pleasure doing business with you, General,” Ren said. He opened the bag and snuck out a handful of candy before throwing the bag to Hux. “These are just to sweeten the deal.”

“Get out!”

 

Chapter Text

Ren had always had a danger about him.

Hux would have been a fool not to know that much, even as he held his own and verbally fought the man as if they were equals. When it came to their rank in the First Order, they were, so Hux made sure Ren remembered through banter and commands. But deep down, Hux did know that should it ever come down to a genuine fight, Hux would be shut down in a heart beat.

Snoke’s apprentice, Lord Ren, was a human weapon.

A man capable of fighting an army by himself would wipe the floor with Hux, even before he left to finish his training. Honestly, even without the Force the man was formidable. When he wasn’t meditating, he was working out. His muscles and physical presence were as intimidating as the Force and lightsaber he wielded.

Hux walked across the ship, his datapad in hand. He had one last item to take care of before his ship could leave their hiding space and head for their next mission location. The Resistance had the upper hand in the war, but only for the moment. What they didn’t know, is that the First Order finally had their heaviest hitter back since the lost of Starkiller: Lord Ren had returned from his training.

And if he were even a fraction as powerful as he felt when he walked down the ramp of his command shuttle two days ago, than this mere flesh and blood man may prove even more terrifying than the Starkiller.

Hux contained the bitterness of his own failures by drowning it in the awe of the man’s new power. It radiated off of Ren enough that it felt near palpable in the air.

Though there was something also not quite right about Ren as well. Something unbalanced and unnerving in a way that made your skin crawl when you were within breathing distance of him. Hux put his datapad under his arm and continued down the corridor toward his destination. Who knew what Snoke had done to that man in the year he’d been gone? Hux had been assured by their Supreme Leader that while the First Order hid and regrouped, that progress was being made with their last “Hope” at winning this war, but never any of the details that his training had contained.

Hux stopped outside of Ren’s quarters and raised his hand to knock; he wished desperately he could have the same faith their Supreme Leader seemed to have. Whatever it was that had changed in Ren that created such unease almost didn’t seem worth it.

He knocked and the door opened a few minutes later.

Controlling his facial features must have been the first lesson, Hux thought to himself. Ren no longer wore a mask, showing off the slick, raw scar that ran diagonally across his face. Ren’s eyes were steel and steady, and his expression gave nothing away. If there were still emotions boiling under the surface, he now hid it nearly as well as Hux did on a daily basis.

That in itself was a scary thought.

“Tomorrow’s itinerary.” Hux flipped the datapad around, and Ren took it. He ignored the slight tremble in Hux’s fingertips. “I would have had the information delivered to your own datapad, but to my knowledge you do not have one.”

And they both knew Hux had brought the information personally because no one else on the ship would go within ten feet of Ren alone anymore. Hux wasn’t the only one who could feel the new wrongness that slopped off him in waves.

“Care to come in, General?” Ren asked, nodding his head toward his quarters. There was a hint of something in his eyes that Hux didn’t like Something wild. Ren stared Hux down. “We can go over it, in case I have questions.”

“You won’t,” Hux said, immediately. “It’s straight forward enough, and I have other things to do.”

“Of course,” Ren said, shrugging lightly. He stepped back into his quarters. “Then I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yes,” Hux said. He nodded and stepped away. “Until then.”

Hux felt Ren’s eyes on his back the entire time he escaped down the hallway; drilling into his back. The man barely bothered to hide his amusement at Hux’s terror. He walked faster to get away from him. Though Hux nearly thanked the man for replacing his fear with anger and embarrassment at being laughed at.


Hux was not sure why he had been required to come with Ren on this mission. The shuttle ride down to the planet was tense and awkward after Hux’s strategic retreat the night before. Ren himself felt nothing of it, content in his own new power. He licked the side of his lip as they landed, standing before the ramp had a chance to lower.

Officially Hux was negotiating. One last chance to spare the good people of the planet from Ren should they see reason and sign over their loyalty and resources to the good of the First Order as it rebuilt itself. Hux found it a waste of time; lip service. They were either going to sign over or they weren’t.

Hux’s presence was hardly required, but he supposed someone ought to at least attempt to spare these people from Ren’s wrath.

Speaking of the knight, Ren tugged on the edge of his hood, drawing the cowl near the edge of his cheek. His eyes were focused and a smile was on his face. It made Hux want to run back into the ship and hide, not a hint of shame at his newfound cowardice. Anyone who saw Ren looking like that would run; it was the logical, sensible conclusion.

Part of him prayed the local leaders just signed over their goods so they could leave as fast as possible and send Ren back into his quarters and out of sight.

Hux had the sickening feeling Ren prayed for the opposite.

The storm troopers remained behind in the shuttle. Hux would have reprimanded them, but he was too jealous. He would have stayed behind too if it wasn’t for his rank and position. So as it stood, they remained safe behind while he marched side by side with Ren toward the government building in the distance.

When they arrived, the security officer asked that Hux and Ren disarm themselves; no weapons were permitted. Before Hux could argue against it, Ren had dumped his lightsaber in the offered holding bin.

“Let’s not be rude, General,” Ren said, eyebrow raised.

Hux placed his blaster in the bin next to Ren’s weapon and sucked in a breath. He didn’t need it, did he? That’s what Ren was hinting at with those amused eyes. Hux had a far better weapon standing right next to him.

The building was spacious, overly decorated, and filled with personal security and soldiers. They all looked in shape and well trained. Hux made note of exits and the numbers while Ren walked idly forward. He pushed his hood back, shaking out his hair lightly. They were led to a meeting room, and Hux took a seat at the table. Ren stood behind him, arms crossed and head raised.

The pompous president of the planet took a seat across from Hux. He laced his fingers on the table and said, “It is good of you to come, General. I do so like to manage these things in person, you see. So much better than over a hologram.”

“I suppose I can see the argument in that,” Hux replied. He held a hand up. “I trust that you have at least looked over the agreement I sent earlier?”

“I have,” the good man said. He nodded. “I have some concerns.”

“Oh?” Hux asked.

“While I am interested in helping, I have no intention of handing over the sovereignty of my planet.” The man straightened his back. “You must understand.”

“I was led to believe these negotiations would be over minor grievances,” Hux said, hyper aware of Ren’s breathing as it increased behind him. The excitement was definitely palpable, and it only increased as the other man turned cold. Hux swallowed. “Such as time table restrictions, and perhaps a restructuring of the goods to be delivered. Your total loyalty to the Order was not on the table for discussion.”

“Then I suppose we will have to decline completely,” the man said.

Ren’s finger twitched; Hux caught it in the side of his eye. Ren licked the side of his lip and Hux tensed. He said as calmly as possible, “That is not acceptable. If you do not reconsider we will have no other option but to take your planet by force. Surely you would want to spare your people that grief?”

“And with what force do you plan to take my planet?” The man said, holding his hand to his chest. “The First Order has been struggling and dying for the past year. Even the help I was offering today was more of a pity offering for your starving troops. You have nothing to threaten me with, General.”

“That is incorrect,” Ren said above Hux’s shoulder. He tilted his head, a loose strand of hair falling between his eyes. His smile stretched the edge of his scar. “And you have no intention of cooperating at all.”

“Leave,” the president said, standing up. His guards readied and Hux sucked in a breath. The man pointed his finger at the door. “And do not come back. I will not work with you or your people.”

“General,” Ren said. He was not asking permission when he said his next line. “I believe your job here is finished. Shall I begin mine?”

“Naturally,” Hux barely forced out. His chest felt too tight. Something very bad was about to happen; and Hux had destroyed five planets. “It’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Ren said.


Hux couldn’t breathe.

He had heard once that hyperventilating was painful, but this was his first time experiencing it personally. Both hands covered his mouth as he kept as quiet as possible, lest he draw Ren’s attention from his “work.” Wet from the warm splatter of thick blood, Hux made himself as small as possible in the corner of the room.

Ren had dismembered the first three guards using the Force alone. He hardly needed his lightsaber any longer to rend limbs or remove heads. They popped off now, with the snap of flesh and squish of meat. They had been the lucky ones, dead in an instant as their blood painted the room and splattered across Hux and the president at the table.

The smart ones ran.

When the room had dwindled down to a handful of guards and the president, Ren had locked all of the doors with the Force, trapping them all inside. Hux had known in that exact moment what that skin crawling feeling he’d had while walking near Ren had been over the past few days since they had been reunited. Hux had been sensing this. This monster lurking just beneath Ren’s skin, waiting to come out.

Ren lifted the last of the guards, his comrades lying in bloody lumps in various places in the room. They were nearly unrecognizable as human at this point, mostly chunks of flesh and ripped intestines. Ren brushed away the tears of the guard sobbing in his grip before dropping his fingers down to the man’s chest.

Using the Force, he yanked the man’s ribcage open. The bones split out from his flesh and straight through his uniform. Ren tugged on one, pulling it open as the man whimpered and screamed. Hux was going to be sick himself as he watched Ren reach inside past the organs until his hand gripped the man’s lungs.

Ren choked the man from the inside of his chest, cutting the lung’s off at the top from the inside of the man’s throat. Ren licked a splatter of blood from the side of his face as the dying guard’s leg’s kicked and his face turned blue. It was brutal and unnecessary and the satisfaction coming from Ren was nauseating.

Hux pressed his back into the wall when the guard finally died. Bored with his prey, Ren dropped him and looked around the room. His eyes wandered over Hux for a second before finding the only other living thing in the room aside from himself. The President had already wet himself in the corner, as soaked in the loose sprays of blood as Hux himself. The man was in a sort of shock, trembling and eyes wide.

Ren held a hand up, and waved his fingers toward himself. The Force did the rest, yanking the man out of the corner and onto the table in the center of the room. His head landed where Hux had been sitting earlier, hitting the side of the table with a deafening crack. Ren shoved him over on his back and contemplated for a moment before jamming his fingers into the man’s mouth. Ren dug his thumb under the man’s chin.

“Now that you are struggling and dying,” Ren said, calm and even. “I’m sure you’ll notice that the First Order is doing nothing of the sort.”

The man drooled around Ren’s fingers, whimpering and pleading for his life. Hux wanted to turn his head away, but found he couldn’t. Ren was making him watch with the Force. What a useless waste of energy, but it seemed someone wanted an audience. Hux barely fought it, though he was tempted to try when Ren tugged his hand down.

“Die knowing the First Order will take good care of your planet,” Ren said, cordially. “But you are no longer needed.”

He yanked, separating the president’s lower jaw from his head. The crack sounded in the room with finality. Ren dropped the man’s jaw, his fingers covered in drool and blood. He rubbed them together, before wiping them off on the front of the man’s shirt. He gurgled blood as it choked him.

Ren was always fond of suffocation, even before this—whatever this was that happened to him, Hux thought wildly to himself.

It was not until the man on the table stilled, that Hux truly feared for his own life. Ren’s eyes had turned to him, and the madness that had brought on such gruesome violence had not left them.

“General,” Ren said.

Hux swallowed. “I take it you are finished?”

“With them,” Ren said.

He strode across the room with ease, passing through the entrails and viscera like he hadn’t painted the room in a bloodbath moments earlier. Ren stopped before Hux and held a hand up. He smeared the blood on Hux’s cheek. “There was a time you didn’t fear me at all.”

Hux kept his mouth shut.

“You were always wary,” Ren said. He swiped Hux’s hair back, dragging the thick blood through it. “Aware of our differences, but not afraid. It’s odd seeing you so terrified, General. It makes me wonder what happened this past year to break you so.”

“I could say the same,” Hux said. He breathed through his mouth to avoid the smell of death that coated Ren. “You’ve changed quite a bit yourself.”

“For the better?” Ren asked, leaning closer.

“Worse,” Hux whispered. What was the point in lying to someone who could tell if you were?

Ren kissed him.

Hux winced, tasting the blood from Ren’s lips and face. The knight cupped Hux’s cheeks, using his thumbs to open Hux’s jaw so their tongues could meet. The rancid taste got worse as more filled his mouth.

Ren pushed the two of them flush against the wall. Their clothes squelched as they pressed together, wet and heavy. Ren’s hands found the back of Hux’s head, holding tight and fingers digging into red hair. Hux was forced to breathe through his nose as Ren gave no sign of giving up the open-mouthed kiss. The smell of blood filled Hux’s nose and it nearly choked him.

“I’m surprised you’re so squeamish, General,” Ren said into his mouth. He nipped Hux’s lower lip. “Trembling over here in the corner. What happened to the man who destroyed five planets?”

“He did it from a distance with a beam of energy that burned it all away in an instant,” Hux said back. His eyes darted over Ren’s shoulder at the mess of the room. He grunted, feeling Ren’s erection press into his hip. Hux grabbed Ren’s shoulders, trying to glare but it was difficult under the echo of his own heartbeat. “Hardly the same.”

“I’ll give you that,” Ren said. He drew a circle on the back of Hux’s head, rolling his hips upward. He pressed a kiss to Hux’s neck. “Shame you’re not as excited as I am.”

“You’ll have to make do on your own,” Hux said, almost wishing he could match Ren’s enthusiasm. If there were any time to just lie back and take it, it was now. Let the blasted man have what he wanted before he decided Hux was more suited for the other sort of fun he’d had today. And Hux would rather stay in one piece; he was a survivor. However, no force of will could get Hux in the mood for what Ren was currently aching for when Hux still felt on the verge of throwing up from the smell in the room and his own disgust at Ren’s brutality. “Apologies.”

Ren dragged a hand down Hux’s neck, and popped open his collar top. He dragged the zipper down, exposing Hux’s undershirt. He untucked it, smearing the flakes of blood over Hux’s stomach. “I’ll make it work.”

Fingers dipped below Hux’s belt line and he shoved his face into Ren’s shoulder. Hux concentrated on the smell of Ren’s sweat, blocking out everything else.


Hux made his way up the shuttle ramp on shaking legs. His uniform jacket hung over his shoulders, Hux uncaring of the state of his uniform. He was coated in blood, viscera and Ren; his hair a mess. What was the point in even hiding it?

Ren strode up the ramp behind him, content and sated.

The storm troopers, as well trained and reliable as Hux always knew they were, said nothing and plugged in the coordinates for the ship. Hux sat in his seat and let his head fall against the side wall. He wanted to sleep for a week, but feared the nightmares that might arrive when he shut his eyes.

“I can stop those for you,” Ren said, taking a seat next to Hux. He pressed their shoulders together, still smiling.

“It would only be fair,” Hux said, glaring from the corner of his eye. It had sunk in around the time Ren was biting his hip that perhaps he had been forced on this trip for other reasons than to negotiate terms. Ren’s knowing smile said as much. “You’d be the one who gave them to me.”

“Then I’ll see you in my quarters this evening?” Ren asked.

“I’ll keep the nightmares,” Hux said, turning his head and staring straight at the wall ahead of him. There was still a lingering fear underneath it all, but for now, exhaustion had won out and Hux just did not care what Ren did next. “I’ll be staying in my own bed tonight.”

“Then I will see you in yours tonight,” Ren said. He leaned forward and pressed his nose into the side of Hux’s hair, half hugging the man to his chest. “You don’t care what I do, after all.”

Hux had been right; Lord Ren was more terrifying than Starkiller ever had been.

And the universe had just gotten a taste of it.

Chapter Text

“We’re staying where?” Ben asked, stuffing his jeans into the duffle bag.

Hux snapped the lid closed on his own suitcase. “The Mustafar House.”

“That place is haunted,” Ben said, marching his way around the bed. “We are not staying there.”

“Oh, yes we are,” Hux said. He shoved the bed and breakfast pamphlet into Ben’s hands and dumped his suitcase next to Ben’s bag for him to carry. “Because someone didn’t make the hotel reservation when I asked, I was forced to do it last minute. That place was the only one with any vacancies for thirty miles from this convention of yours.”

“That is not my fault! My manager said he was going to do it!”

“Well, the Knights of Ren need a better manager,” Hux said, right back. “Because I find myself doing more of your bookings and hotel registration than he does.”

“Snoke knows what he’s doing,” Ben said, pouting.

“Sure he does, Kylo,” Hux said, rolling his eyes.

“I thought you said no stage names at home,” Ben said, grabbing his bag.

“Only when I’m making a point about how dumb they are and to remind you it was his idea,” Hux said smiling.

“Whatever, that’s not the point,” Ben said. He grabbed Hux by the arm. “We can not stay in the Mustafar House. That place is seriously haunted.”

“There is no where else to stay within a proper driving distance of the stadium. If I have to pick between staying the night with ghosts and sleeping in the van, I’m going to pick the ghosts. You are welcome to stay outside.” Hux said. He grabbed his jacket and threw it on over his sweater. “End of discussion.”

Predictably for Hux, his boyfriend pouted the entire trip to the Knights of Ren’s first out of state performance. He was half tempted to take a picture and put it online so the fans could see just how petulant their favorite lead singer could be, but he decided against it. Might as well keep some perks to himself.

Hux pulled into the bed and breakfast parking lot a good twenty minute before check in. Ben shivered in the seat next to him looking up at the old house (more of a mansion, really). It was an old design, most of the dark red paint on the outside chipping and peeling away. The shrubbery was unkept, and overgrown with cobwebs. Hux scrunched his nose at the smell of rotting mulch. The windows were boarded up neatly, though the burning “Welcome!” sign out front signaled the building was occupied. Hux left the vehicle and shut the door with a slam.

It certainly looked like a haunted house, at any rate.

“Are you actually going to sleep in the van?” Hux asked through the passenger side door when Ben made no move to get out of the van.

“Thinking about it,” Ben called back, drumming his fingers on the side of the door. Hux opened the door and leaned on it. Ben pointed at the house. “Do you see this place!?”

“You won’t be at your best at the performance tomorrow if you sleep in the van,” Hux said. “It’s an old house.”

“An old haunted house! I used to live here, remember? I know this house,” Ben said back. He made a grab for the door and tugged. “I won’t sleep at all in there.”

“Don’t come whining to me tomorrow then when your back hurts,” Hux said. He slammed the door shut and grabbed his bag out of the back seat.

Hux tapped up the stairs to the house and approached the front desk where an employee lounged with a magazine. He stopped and waited to be addressed.

“You must be Mr. Hux.”  The man, named “Dameron” according to the nametag looked up. He closed his book and shook the mouse on the desk next to the computer. Dameron looked over his shoulder and asked. “I thought the reservation was for two?”

“My boyfriend is scared of ghosts and has elected to sleep in the van,” Hux said, smile tight. “Though it was a single room, so I’m not sure how it matters.”

“Not the first time I’ve seen that.” Dameron snorted and made a few clicks with his mouse. The old computer buzzed loudly and Hux waited patiently, ignoring the layer of dust on the counter. Dameron spun around and yanked a key off the back board. “You’re in the Droid Room, as requested. Breakfast is served at nine-thirty, though if you show up at ten there might be something left.”

“Thank you,” Hux said, taking the key. “Are there any other guests I should be aware of? The facilities are shared, are they not?”

“Nope, just you, maybe your boyfriend if he ever leaves the van, and me this weekend,” Dameron said. “My coworkers are off on a date this weekend.”

“Lovely for them,” Hux said. “In that case, I’ll be turning in. Should Ben come inside, do direct him.”

“Will do,” Dameron said. He tugged his magazine back over and flipped open the back page. “Say hi to Padmé for me if she shows up. She’s been looking for her man, and he tends to hang out in that room.”

“I thought you said we were the only ones here?” Hux asked, looking over his shoulder.

“The only living ones, anyway,” Dameron said, winking.

Hux nodded and sighed. A joke, then. He tugged his case behind him and walked up the stairs, ignoring the way they creaked under each step. The house was said to be perfectly structurally sound, so it better not have lied about that. He opened the door to the indicated suite and found the interior to be suitable. Everything was old, but clean.

He dropped his suitcase on the bed and rolled his shoulder.

“Excuse me.”

Hux looked to the side and gaped at the blue, glowing figure of a woman standing next to him. She had her hands on her hips and tilted her head. “You wouldn’t happen to have seen Anakin on your way up the stairs would you? He’s tall and has a scar over his eye.”

“No,” Hux said, shaking his head. Ghosts. There were real ghosts. Hux blinked and hoped Ben stayed in the van the entire night. He absolutely would not suffer through that man’s “I told you so’s.” As it stood now, Hux could still lie. “I can’t say I have.”

“Oh,” she said.

“Are you Padmé?” Hux asked, curious despite himself.

“Yes?”

“Dameron says hello.”

The woman giggled and shook her head.

The door to the room burst open a second later, and a harried Ben walked through it. He strode right past the floating, blue Padmé and grabbed Hux by the shoulder. He looked anguished and sucked in a breath.

“I couldn’t do it,” Ben said. He shook Hux’s shoulders. “I couldn’t leave you alone in here to fend for yourself.”

Of course now the man turns out to be brave. Hux sighed. “Turn around, Ben.”

“What?”

“So you can see the ghost standing behind you.”

“That’s not funny, Hux.”

“It’s not a joke.”

Ben slowly turned, hair falling in his face. He froze at the sight of the woman and his mouth gaped. “You.”

“Is that Ben?” A new booming male voice said, walking through the wall. The new ghost held his arms out and smiled. “Look at you!”

“Grandpa!” Ben shouted.

“Grandpa?” Hux repeated.

“Grandpa!” The male ghost said, throwing his hands up.

“Anakin!” Padmé said, laughing and hitting him in the arm. “Stop saying that. You’re making me feel old, even if it is nice to see our grandson again.”

“Okay, okay,” Anakin laughed. Hux could see the family resemblance to Ben and if that wasn’t the oddest thing that happened this week, he wasn’t sure what was. Anakin turned to Ben and laughed. “How’s your mom, kiddo? She never comes up to see me.”

Ben passed out cold on the floor.

Hux covered his face with his hands and sat on the edge of the bed. He glared at the two ghosts and said, quite frankly, “If he can’t perform tomorrow, I’m burning this house down.”

“Ben has your taste in men,” Anakin said to Padmé.

Hux threw a pillow at the both of them. It didn’t do much, phasing through them and all, but it made him feel better.

Chapter Text

Kylo ran through the forrest, the dark of night on his back and the screeching of wild animals off in the distance kept his feet moving faster. His brain lied to him with every step, visions of the Force blinding his real world sight. The uncontrollable imprints were quick and muddled, a side effect of diving in too deep to the bounding energy of the universe.

He had to get to the temple.

The Darkness was finally calling him, louder than the light ever had back when he had his old name. It tugged at his heart and made his lungs burn, but the one finally called out to the other. He was getting so close to that point of no return.

His Master Snoke had sensed it. Should Kylo reach the Sith temple, he could drown himself in the spirits of the dead force users there. It was his calling. He was one with the Dark now, his past life truly dead after Starkiller.

It must be true, or his Uncle and Mother would not be pursuing him so.

He could hear the clash of the rest of his knights behind him as he ran. They were fighting his uncle, though the battle was fierce. They were killers of the best sort, but they were against a Master of his order. Backed with Kylo’s far-to-capable mother and her resistance, they seemed to have their hands full.

The wind howled around his hair, his mask long gone. Not lost to the Starkiller so long ago, but a new one gone, too. Sliced in half by his grandfather’s lightsaber, wielded by Rey—yet another new Jedi Knight in the universe. Kylo crashed past another tree, looking up as the wind howled.

Rain poured.

The sky opened, dumping buckets of water down into the forrest. It came in a flash, the wall of water so thick Kylo couldn’t see in front of his face.

Another flash of the past. A man screaming. His father? Kylo wasn’t sure. He’d seen that one so many times. As if the Force wasn’t satisfied with only blinking in the future. Kylo shook his head and felt like screaming.

His hands slammed into a door.

His forward path had led him to the temple. He pressed his palms into the door and felt for the lock with the Force. If he could just get inside, he’d be free. He would greet those ancient spirits and be consumed with their hatred and rage.

With that power, his Uncle and Rey wouldn’t have a chance against him. Darkness was always stronger. Always. Always. It had to be.

Or what was the point?

Kylo snarled as he pushed the doors open. He could feel it in the distance, his knights falling one at a time. Their scuffle was nothing more than a distraction. The Jedi would be coming soon. Kylo stepped inside the building and breathed as the doors slammed behind him.

Water dripped from his hair and robes, puddling on the stone floors.

Kylo walked forward.

It was here. It was here.


Ren was there.

Hux cursed as he ran through the pouring rain. It was as if even nature itself was attempting to destroy the one single good thing in Hux’s life. If he didn’t get to the temple soon, Ren would be lost. Hux should have stopped him when he left on the shuttle. He should have figured out what Snoke was planning.

He really should have known the cruel man considered Ren expendable after his failure at Starkiller. They’d gotten off far too easily. Training? Hux snarled as he slammed the butt of his rifle into a Resistance soldier that dared to investigate his shuttle. He’d landed as far from the man battle as he could, hoping to cut them all off and reach the temple before Ren did.

But he’d been delayed by the rain and a few stupid soldiers who didn’t know what was at stake.

If Ren found the center of that temple, the Force would devour him whole.

All part of some twisted, Sith ritual that converted power. Hux sprinted through the rain, batting away branches as he made his way through the trees. He wasn’t sure how Snoke had made a deal with the dead, but he’d managed. Give his apprentice over to the temple as a new permanent dead spirit, and in exchange receive Ren’s youth.

Hux found the temple and prayed he was there in time. And to think, if he hadn’t been at the right place at the right time when Snoke bragged, he wouldn’t have even known Ren was down here. Hux pushed open the unlocked doors and looked around the large empty room. He saw no immediate sign of Ren but—there! He saw the trail of puddled water on the floor.

He stalked after it, wishing he’d have had time to rally a set of troops to help him, perhaps Phasma would have been useful (no, she definitely would have been useful), but there had been no time. Hux followed the trail and came to a solid wall.

“Where are you?”  Hux asked the air. He smacked his fist into the wall and looked for a corridor or room he could have gone in. “Where are you, Ren?”

Wind howled through the room, a low and laughing whistle. Hux would not be mocked by the dead. He’d taken far too many lives to bow down to them. Hux pulled his blaster out and stalked along the wall. There had to be something. A door. A latch. Anything.

Anything to make sure he wasn’t too late.


Kylo held his hands against his head as he stumbled forward toward where he was called. There were so many voices here. All of them begging for his attention. It wouldn’t be so bad if he could just tell which were real and which were his own mind falling apart on him.

“Where are you?”

That one had been Hux. Kylo bit his lip and screwed his eyes shut. Hux was back on the ship, far, far away. So that voice had to be one of the fake ones. It was. Kylo opened his eyes, terrified of the new flash. Snoke. Snoke was laughing and happy. And young? Kylo shook his head.

So many visions and so many thoughts.

He couldn’t concentrate.

“This way, young apprentice.”

That voice was lower, and focused. Kylo turned toward it. Toward the room in the back. Where the wall moved.

“Where are you, Ren?”

Hux again.

Kylo leaned his head forward, hair falling in his eyes. He whispered. “You’re not here.”

His mother was here, just outside the building. Along with his Uncle and his Knights and Rey, but not Hux. The General wouldn’t be here. He never left his ship. Why would his voice be here.

“You had better answer me!”

“Follow this way.”

“Do as you are told, boy and obey me!”

Kylo fell to his knees and shook his head. The walls felt like they were closing in; the brick walls so close to his shoulders. So many voices. It hurt.

Kylo screamed.

But then kept going.

He was so close.

So, so close.

He could see the final room. Could see the stone alter in the center. Was that where he was supposed to go?


“Ren.” Hux whipped his head to the side when he heard the yell. The agony in it was worse than anything Hux had heard pass through Ren’s lips. Even more so than when the man had been cut open in the snow, burned and sobbing. Hux dashed toward it. “Ren!”

Nothing stood in his way as he ran. He’d find the entrance to the other side of the wall or come down and tear this entire building down with every inch of the power he had at his command from a space craft. Snoke and his damn religion be damned.

He found the opening after a minute of breathless running, a slim opening that he had to flatten himself to crawl through, and even then Hux had to abandon his great coat to the floor to fit.

Hux tumbled out of the other side and held his breath to listen.

In the distance, he heard it: Footsteps.

Hux calculated the direction, and then he sprinted through the corridor. The flashing lights on the walls blinked at him and the miasma of the room was suffocating. It threatened to choke him, suffocating him in what felt like pure evil. It felt familiar in a way, like Hux had felt when he’d fired his beautiful weapon. But this acted against him.

Today it was no ally.

“Ren!” Hux screamed when he saw the Master of the Knights wobbling ahead of him. The man had a hand on large stone alter in the center of the room. He might be too late. Hux ran until his legs burned and felt like they would fall off. He screamed the name again. “Ren!”

The man ignored Hux. Staring hard at the table and shaking his head. He looked like he would cry again. He looked in pain, face wincing as if he were trying to block out everything. But he kept crawling for that damned table and Hux could see the black smoke of the room swirling. How could he stop Ren? How could he—

Hux screamed, “Ben Solo!”

Ren’s head whipped around, eyes wide and pupils blown.

The hesitation was enough for Hux to close the distance. He grabbed Ren’s arm and yanked him away from the stone alter in the center of the room. Hux drew Ren to his chest and hugged the man and dug his fingers into his back. “You fool. You idiot, Ben Solo. You’re mine. I forbid you to do this.”

“Hux?” Ren sounded dazed. He shook his head. “Am I dreaming?”

“No, you are very awake,” Hux said. He tapped backwards, dragging Ren with him. They needed to get out of this building and away from it. “Focus on me, Ben.”

“You never call me  that,” Ren said, mumbling. “Are you sure you’re real?”

“If it gets your attention, I’m going to call you that all I want,” Hux said, laughing with a shaking breath. “We need to leave.”

“But I’m supposed to be here,” Ren said, pushing. “I have to. I needed.”

Ren stopped and shook his head. “Why am I here?”

“You were tricked,” Hux said softly. “Come with me.”

Ren focused on Hux’s face and nodded slowly. “Okay.”

“Good, good man.”

Hux wasted no time and backed them both out of the room. The smoke gathering at the floors hissed and licked at his boots. It was angry, was it? Well too bad. This man was not Snoke’s to bargain with.

He belonged to Hux now.


The Force was muffled.

It was drowning in the sent of soap and sweat. Hux’s hands were on his shoulders and his voice was in his head. It was so close and Kylo was sure it was real. If Hux were here, than it must be something important. Yes?

“Keep going, Ben,” Hux said, thought it sounded as though it were through a fog. “We’re almost there.”

The visions had stopped, past and present. They’d been replaced with screaming and angry words. Snoke. Many of them were his Master, yelling at Kylo to go back. But Hux was here and warm. 

And he had called Kylo “Ben.”

Hux was cruel. He was vicious. He was easily one of the most evil men Ren had ever met in his life. He killed without a care and still felt not even a hint of remorse for taking the lives of five planets. But he was honest. When Hux said his men were well trained and capable, he believed that. He spoke his mind. He told truth.

So if he called Kylo by the name of “Ben” than that…must be his name.

And if he were still Ben Solo, than the Light was still inside of him.

Which means Snoke had lied.

Just as his father had said.

Hux dragged Kylo outside of the temple walls and it was as if the sky shattered. He fell to his knees in the mud and refused to be moved.


“No, no, no,” Hux hissed. He tugged hard on Ren’s arm and pleaded. “We’re so close to my ship. We’ll go away, you and I. I promise. Don’t stop here.”

“Hux,” Ren said, looking up. He grabbed Hux’s arm sleeve and shook his head. He was on the verge of wailing, eyes bloodshot and fingers twitching. “Snoke lied.”

“He did.”

Ren squeezed Hux’s arm. “Who am I?”

“You’re mine,” Hux said. He licked his lips and buried his hand in Ren’s hair. He pulled the man’s head into Hux’s chest and hugged him. “Do you understand me?”

“But who am I?” Ren pleaded, eyes wide. “Dark? Light? Ben? Kylo? Please. There are so many voices in my head and I can’t.”

Hux kissed Ren hard on the lips. He breathed heavily kissing the man again, digging his fingers tighter into Ren’s hair. When they parted he cradled Ren’s head to his chest. “Kylo Ren. Ben Solo. I don’t really care what name you use, but you’re mine now and that temple is not allowed to have you. So be the overpowered brat I know you are and kick them all out of your head this instant!”

Ren, ever petulant, passed out.

Hux caught him as the man pitched forward, wheezing as the heavy weight fell into him. It knocked them both over, and Hux fell into the mud. The rain plastered his hair to his forehead and he rather felt like sobbing himself at the moment.

When Leia Organa and her wretched Jedi brother came crashing through the clearing, Hux wondered where his blaster had disappeared to.

“Ben!” The woman yelled running forward. She stopped a few feet from Hux and Ren, but her eyes were fierce. “What happened?”

“He nearly gave himself over to a Sith temple,” Hux said, giving up. He could see that girl with her lightsaber and her companions standing a few feet away at the ready. So the Knights of Ren had been totally defeated then? So be it. Hux was out numbered and he was going to die before he let go of Ren again, so why hold his tongue? “I got him out.”

The Uncle, Luke Skywalker (the wretched man), kneeled next to Ren. He placed his fingers near the man’s forehead and sighed heavily, but smiled. Hux felt something charged in the air; the Force moving through Skywalker’s fingertips. The man turned to Hux after another minute and tilted his head. “So you did.”

“What did you do?” Hux asked.

“I broke Snoke’s connection,” Skywalker said. He stood and breathed. “Ren’s too weak to do it himself, and I’m not sure he would have even known where to look for it. It’s been there for longer than he’s had a memory.”

“So he’s alright now?”

“Oh, no,” Skywalker said, shaking his head. “That’ll take time. But at least now there’s one less voice to tell him what to do.”

“I see,” Hux said, still holding tightly. “What now?”

“I would say we all go home,” Skywalker said. “But I dare say you no longer have one after this.”

“We’ll manage.” Hux clung tighter to Ren. The man nuzzled his face into Hux’s chest, his body falling into sleep instead of mere unconsciousness. “We’ll manage just fine.”

Time seemed to fall still as the rain continued to pour down over the group; it watched their standstill.

Only the morning would know what paths opened for any of them.

Chapter Text

Between dealing with the freshly dead and the long dead, typically the latter was preferred, if only because the smell had dissipated and there were no longer fluids to contend with. In other words, a dried up and crumbling corpse was more pleasant to deal with than something still rotting.

Typically.

At the moment, however, Hux would almost have rather dealt with the smell and disgusting squish of meat than be trapped in this crypt with the endless rows of exposed skeletons. The dust and dirt were so thick among it all that Hux had to cover his mouth with a handkerchief to keep from breathing it in. Cobwebs clung to every surface above his waist and he had to step carefully to avoid the bones that had fallen to the floor in the last earthquake.

“It’ll be a quick trip, Hux,” he said to himself as he kept down the corridor. He rolled his eyes as he repeated Ren’s words back to himself. “It’s just a Jedi temple on an tropical planet. Nothing to worry about.”

Hux flinched when the floor shook again with a light aftershock from the earthquake and a skeleton came loose from its place on the wall shelf and clattered to the ground in front of him. It’s jaw popped off, and the clatter was deafening in the underground tunnel. Hux kicked it for good measure and reached down to look at the slight shine of metal that his flashlight caught.

Under the aged and decaying robe was a necklace made of gold. Hux wrapped the chain around his fingers and yanked it out, breaking the bones of the dead man’s neck. He turned the pendant over in his hand and found it to be a crystal about the size of his thumb. Hux stuffed it in his pocket and kept walking.

“I can’t believe I let him talk me into this,” Hux said. Things had been going fine in the Temple, Ren more than happy to point out what things were while looking for historical texts. Snoke had sent them here for research materials, or rather he’d sent Ren. Hux had come along because he was weak for Ren’s stupid puppy dog eyes when he suggested they enjoy the capital city when they were finished. It wasn’t like they were busy fighting a war or anything. It was good to take time off! Hux stepped over another bone. He was never listening to Ren again. “I’m going to kill him.”

Everything went wrong when the planet decided to have an earth quake strong enough that it split the temple near in two. If the Force wanted to preserve this place for future generations of the force sensitive (Hux laughed to himself even thinking that), it was sure doing a poor job of it. Split apart by falling rubble from the ceiling and poor footing sent Hux tumbling below the temple, and he had no idea where Ren ended up.

“Who puts a temple above a crypt anyway?” Hux asked himself, pushing forward as he looked for an exit in the mess. He rolled his eyes and sighed. “Well, I suppose it’s a religious institution, but these don’t look like solely Jedi. So why would locals be buried here in any case?”

With nothing else to do, Hux kept his flashlight toward the ground to avoid tripping and the handkerchief over his mouth. If felt like the skeletons were staring at him as he passed them by. Stacked in columns, there were six to seven bodies along each wall on shelves. They were packed in like canned food and there were far too many bodies down here to have been prior Jedi students.

Though a few looked like they could be.

Hux found another body dressed in a robe similar to what Ren wore, and out of curiosity tugged the neckline down. It too, had a necklace. Hux took it and found himself staring at another crystal, though this one was a different color. Hux held his flashlight under his arm and dug out the first he had found. That one had been green, while this one was a light blue.

A certain cracked red crystal came to mind, that Hux had seen just once in Ren’s quarters when he’d been doing maintenance on his lightsaber.

“Kyber crystals,” Hux said, staring down the line of bodies. “What idiot would bury a kyber crystal?”

Knowing what to look for, and far from above stealing from the dead, Hux started snatching necklaces as he passed when he found a robed body. There was about one every six rows and by the end of the corridor, Hux had seven kyber crystals in his pocket.

But that was all he had, because the end of the crypt was a dead end.

“Oh, what are you looking at?” Hux hissed at a skeleton with it’s jaw open next to his head. It looked like it was laughing and Hux knocked the head off. He crushed the old bones under the heel of his boot for good measure. The underground was quiet aside from Hux’s breathing and he couldn't help but wish he’d been found already. “Where the hell is Ren?”

He pulled his handkerchief down and shook it off, concentrating on not breathing as the dust knocked off the fabric. He refolded it and pressed it over his face before heading back the way he came. If the exit wasn’t here, it must be at the other end. Of course he’d gone the wrong way the first time. Why would his luck be any better?

About halfway back to where he’d fallen in the first place, another earthquake started. This one was much longer and harsher than the last, knocking Hux to his knees. He leaned against the wall, ignoring the slap of bones as the limbs from the skeletons knocked and rattled. He covered his head and waited for the shaking to stop.

It did not.

It was when he heard the loud crack of stone that Hux looked up and saw that the shelves bolted to the walls were loosening. He scrambled away as the lot of them came tumbling and—stopped in midair.

He turned to the side, to see Ren sanding a ways down the corridor with his hand out. His mask was secure on his face and he had the other hand on a shelf on the wall to steady himself in the shaking. Hux scooted across the ground and away from the floating rubble and skeletons and held onto the wall much the same.

The shaking came to a stop three minutes later, and by that point nearly all the skeletons and shelves had been knocked loose. Hux pushed off the ground, shaking the rubble off his uniform and stumbling toward Ren.

“Where were you?” Hux asked, ignoring the urge to kick Ren when he got closer. “I’ve been down here for hours.”

“I was looking inside the temple,” Ren said. He nodded his head toward the walkway and kept heading back toward the opening. “It wasn’t obvious you’d fallen down here, you know.”

“Yes, but aren’t you supposed to have better instincts than that, Mr. Force Sensitive?”

“You’re lucky I thought to look down here at all. Something was blocking your presence in the Force,” Ren said. He turned and looked at Hux and tilted his head. “Which is still there, by the way. I can barely sense you right now.”

“These wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with that, would they?” Hux asked as he tugged the chains from his pocket. The crystals clinked together at the end, each shining under the light of his flashlight. “They’re kyber crystals, aren’t they?”

“Where did you find those?” Ren asked, reaching out and touching a finger to a purple one.

“They were on the bodies.”

“You looted dead Jedi corpses?”

“If you keep looking at me like that from behind that mask, then I’m keeping all of them,” Hux said, pulling the necklaces back. “And here I was considering sharing them.”

“While I’m sure you could figure out how to build a lightsaber,” Ren said, his voice jovial underneath the vocoder. “I’m sure you’re far too busy.”

“True, and giving you something to do certainly keeps my control panels free from your frustrations,” Hux said. They reached the opening where Hux had fallen and he looked up and frowned at the distance. “You’re not going to use the Force to get me up there, are you?”

“Do you have a better suggestion?”

“No,” Hux sighed. He waved his hand. “Get on with it.”

He braced himself for the sensation and shivered when he felt himself lifted. He stared hard at the side wall, refusing to look down. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Ren; he didn’t trust the space magic. Who knew when the Force would decide it didn’t like following orders? Thankfully, though, it cooperated and Hux’s feet touched down on the titled floor of the upper temple.

Ren, on the other hand, carried himself out via an impressive leap powered by the Force and landed hard a few feet away from the edge.

“Well, I for one could go the rest of my life without seeing another skeleton,” Hux said, glaring down in the hole. He twisted the crystals in his hand. He wondered if he could get Ren to make him a weapon out of one. They were fairly rare, and powerful. “Even if they did see fit to pay me back handsomely with these.”

“We should probably leave before one of them decides they want it back,” Ren said, humming lightly.

“Pretty sure if it was on a skeleton, they didn’t leave a Force ghost,” Hux said, smirking.

“Point,” Ren answered. He brushed Hux’s hair behind his ear and nodded his head toward the side. “Shall we get back to the hotel?”

“Yes,” Hux said, walking past him. He pointed over his shoulder and smiled. “You owe me for this.”

“I’m sure I’ll come up with something to make you happy,” Ren said. He caught up and brushed his fingers down Hux’s arms. The side of his hood brushed the side of Hux’s cheek when Ren leaned over to whisper in his ear, vocoder humming with the low volume. “Now whether it’ll be a massage, or a lightsaber of your own, I’ve yet to decide.”

Hux found either option to be acceptable, though he was sure he’d get both before the night was over.

Chapter Text

Hux stopped walking when he realized Ren was no longer following him. He turned on his heel, holding his hand up for his escorting troopers to wait as well. The market bustled around him, and he wanted to get out of town as soon as possible, but it seemed his co-commander had other ideas. Was it too much to ask to want to get back to space after an entire day of meeting with New Republic Senators to keep them from digging around Starkiller’s system? Ren continued to stare at a stand, and Hux sighed.

“Is there something the matter, Lord Ren?” Hux asked, looking at the display case that had caught the knight’s attention.

It was a pet shop of all things, with a glass window giving a clear view of their goods. A variety of multi-colored, fluffy animals pawed at the window. They rather resembled the house cats Hux had had on Arkanis once upon a time, but with larger fangs and bigger claws. Their ears were more rounded than a cat’s, and perhaps the body a bit too long, but he supposed they were similar enough. The little sign said they were better at exterminating pests than most droids and a price tacked below, though he didn’t see the species name listed.

“Pittins,” Ren said. He stayed focused on the small creatures. He tugged his hood lower, hiding his mask even further. He shifted his shoulders, curling in on himself slightly as if he’d been caught doing something awful. “That’s what they’re called.”

“And what about them has captured your attention?” Hux asked. A tiny one stuck it’s paw on the glass and made a small mewling sound that was pleasant to the ears. Ren tapped his finger to the window, catching one’s attention. It followed the path as Ren drew on the window. Hux glanced at his companion and lifted an eyebrow. “I suppose they’re cute, but you’re hardly the type I would think to be swayed by that.”

“I just haven’t seen one in a while,” Ren said, snatching his hand back as if he’d been burned by the glass. He made a fist with his hand before forcibly relaxing his fingers. Ren’s gaze lingered on the glass and the tiny animals beyond it for a second too long before he turned, his cape sweeping behind him as he moved to rejoin their escort. His pace was a tad too quick; like he was running away. “That’s all.”

Hux looked at the animals as he walked away from the store, eyebrows narrowed together. Where would Lord Ren have seen pittins long enough for them to have made such an impression? It wasn’t as if house pets were common on the missions Ren was given, and there definitely weren’t any on the First Order starships. Surely their Supreme Leader didn’t keep pets. Hux took pause as he came to realize it was likely that Ren was referring to a time before he was named Kylo Ren.

Interesting.


Kylo was debating whether or not to visit Hux tonight and get all the cards out on the table already. The man had been acting smug ever since they’d gotten back from the planet, clearly amused at Kylo’s distraction with the pet store. It was hardly Kylo’s fault they’d caught him off guard. The familiar little animals brought back a slew of memories that he hadn’t been prepared for, and of course Hux had been there to see it.

He had been concerned Hux hadn’t mocked him more at the store. Kylo had left himself open for it and Hux typically took every shot he could get. The fact that he’d held back made Kylo wary that Hux was biding his time and would strike later. A confrontation would settle things sooner at the very least.

He tossed his cape on his bed and sighed heavily through his vocoder. When it came down to it, Hux accusing Kylo of being childish and temperamental was nothing more than the pot calling the kettle black. Hux was just as bad when he put his mind to it; he just hid it better.

Kylo moved for the door, when he heard the mew.

He opened his door and looked down, seeing a small basket. Inside was a bright red, tiny pittin with large black eyes. It’s fur was an easy match for the blade of Kylo’s lightsaber, and the scruffy, choppy fur seemed to match as well. The tiny creature mewed loudly, pushing at the edges of the basket. It’s ears were up and eyes bright as it continued to beg for attention.

Kylo stared at the little bundle and reached down. He picked it up gently with two hands, and found it fit neatly between his palms. He transferred the pittin to one hand with ease, careful to keep it from falling with his fingers. The tiny thing had to be barely a few weeks old, just old enough to leave its parents, but hardly an adult. He rubbed under its chin with his thumb when he reached for the basket.

Inside were a few boxes of food and a couple pittin toys. A “How-To-Care” guide leaned against the side, almost mocking with the large, blocky print signaling it was mean for children. Kylo snorted and stepped back into his quarters, placing the basket on his bed. The pittin continued to mew, brushing against his hand. He sat on the bed, petting its back and bit his lip behind his mask.

He leaned over, hugging the little thing to his chest and closed his eyes.


Ben had made it halfway down the main shopping row before he noticed his mother wasn’t following him. He turned, face pouting as he searched the crowd for her. Today was their day! She’d promised no work and that they’d go get ice cream at the local shop. If they didn’t get there soon, it’d be closed.

He scratched at his arm, looking around and wincing at the sensation of all these people. He could feel them all with the Force with more intensity when his mother wasn’t around to help buffer. She said it would get easier when he was older, but Ben was already eight! How much longer was it going to take?

Ben backtracked, and nearly fell into her side when he spotted his mother looking into the window. She had a sad smile on her face, and he tugged on her sleeve. He didn’t like that face. “Mom.”

“Ben!” she said, jumping back a bit and holding her chest with a hand. She shook her head and laughed. “Oh, I’m sorry honey. I got distracted by the pittins.”

“Pittins?” Ben asked, he turned to the glass case and squinted at the mass of squirming, fuzzy animals in the display. He pressed both hands to the glass and leaned further. Their wide eyes looked up at him, and they mewled happily. They jumped back and forth, playing roughly. “They’re cute.”

“I used to have a few when I was a little girl,” his mother said. She kneeled next to Ben and wrapped an arm around his shoulder. She pointed at one and smiled. “Four in fact. One of them was that pink color, and my mother named him Taffy.”

“What were the others named?” Ben asked.

“My mother named two of the others Winkie and Fluffy,” she said. She grinned wide, wrinkling her nose. She pressed it against Ben’s in a quick nose bump. “But she let me name the last one we got. Can you guess what I named him?”

“Hm,” Ben hummed. He looked at the pittins and focused hard. “What color was it?”

“Dark grey.”

“Ashes?” Ben asked. He stopped and shook his head. “No, um. Bullet?”

“Nope, but that second one was closer!” Leia said. She squeezed Ben and said, “Her name was All-Terrain Attack Vehicle, but we called her ‘AT’ for short.”

Ben giggled. “I bet that was your favorite.”

“You bet she was,” his mother said. She sighed softly and tapped the glass as a pittin came up to press its nose against it. “I miss those little guys.”

“Why didn’t you get more?” Ben asked. He didn’t bother to ask what happened to her old ones. His mom was old, and pets didn’t live that long. They were probably dead already. He trailed his finger in a circle, laughing as a bright blue one followed his finger trying to catch it. “It sounds like you liked them.”

“They reminded me of home too much, I suppose,” his mother said, the sad smile coming back.

Ben frowned. “But isn’t that a good thing?”

“You’ll understand more when you’re older,” his mother said. She kissed him on the forehead and stood. She tugged on his hand and smiled. “Now let’s go get you that ice cream.”

“Okay!” Ben said. He laced his fingers with his mother’s hand and looked back at the case of pittins as they walked away.

He sort of wanted one, but if it made his mother sad, it probably wasn’t worth it.


Hux was about to settle into bed when his room door opened.

Ren came in without a word, throwing his hood back. He tugged off his helmet and tossing it on the desk in the same time it took for his quarter doors to slide shut again. Ren spared no time strolling up to Hux and wrapping his arms around the man. He kissed Hux hard on the mouth, his gloved hands trailing up a naked back. Hux’s sleep pants bunched at his waist as Ren pushed them both back toward the bed.

“If it was a joke, I want you to know it backfired,” Ren said. Hux blinked and barely had time to process the words when Ren kissed him again. He nipped Hux’s lips with a smile and said. “I love it and I named him AT.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hux lied. It earned him an eyebrow raise and a smirk. He rolled his eyes and fell back on the bed, tugging Ren with him. “Fine, I got the stupid pittin. Why AT?”

“Secret,” Ren said. He crawled over Hux, digging his hands into Hux’s hair. He draped himself over Hux, nuzzling his face into his neck. “Why’d you get the pittin?”

“Because I didn’t need to see under your mask to know you wanted one,” Hux said. He petted the back of Ren’s head, digging his fingers into long hair. “Though I guess I lost a bet to myself. I was sure you’d have named it after your lightsaber considering how much it reminded me of the blasted thing with that fur and all.”

“I was tempted,” Ren said. He kissed Hux’s neck and sighed. “But AT was better.”

“Whatever you say,” Hux said. Ren rubbed his side, the rough fabric of his sleeves scraping against his skin. Hux reached down and tugged at the gloves. “If you’re staying the night, this is coming off.”

“In a minute,” Ren said. He grinned into Hux’s neck. “Too comfortable to move.”

“It’s been what? An hour with that thing and now you’re copying it,” Hux said, rolling his eyes back. “I should have known.”

Hux jerked when he heard the mew.

A tiny red head popped out from the folds of Ren’s cape, the little pittin tumbling off Ren’s shoulder and onto Hux’s belly. It’s soft paws tickled, and Hux squirmed. “What is it doing here?”

“I wasn’t going to leave it all alone in another room on its first night,” Ren said. He lifted an eyebrow and grinned. “He’s just a baby, Hux. I’m a jedi killer, not a monster.”

Hux scratched behind the tiny thing’s ear and huffed when it turned to nip at his fingers. Ren cupped it with his wide hand and pulled it into his side. The little beast struggled, but eventually settled in the warmth of a broad chest, snuggled between Ren and Hux.

“Neither of you are moving, are you?” Hux asked, resting his head against Ren’s.

Ren shook his head, his hair brushing against Hux’s cheek. He sighed and turned enough to wrap his arm around the larger man. If the man wanted to sleep in his clothes with a pittin nestled between them, so be it. Hux would get him back in the morning when he refused to help Ren rid his robes of the red fur.

The pittin yawned, mouth wide and sleepy. It nuzzled Ren’s chest and closed its eyes, purring softly. Ren opened his eyes long enough to watch the tiny thing, so content and a sad smile stretched on his lips. He petted the pittin with this thumb and breathed slowly.

“They remind me of my old home,” Ren admitted quietly.

Hux hummed, brushing Ren’s hair back. “I’d think that would be a bad thing in your position.”

“All the same,” Ren said. He closed his eyes again, slipping an arm under Hux’s side and tugging the man closer. The unspoken “Thank you” came across well enough in the tight hug. “I’m glad you decided to tease me.”

“You keep assuming it was for you,” Hux said, smiling slightly. “Who’s to say I don’t like pittins, and was just fostering all the work of taking care of it onto you?”

“I’d say your plan backfired again,” Ren said. He pressed a lazy kiss to Hux’s shoulder. “Because I’m definitely keeping the pittin. It’s all mine.”

Hux snorted. He tugged his blanket up and over the three of them and snuggled into the mattress and Ren. “Go to sleep.”

Ren grunted, and his breathing evened out a second later. Hux watched him and the pittin sleep in tangent, and brushed Ren’s hair behind his ear.

Chapter Text

“Why are we in a pumpkin patch, Ren?” Hux asked, tugging the sleeves down on his sweater. If he had been smart, he would have worn gloves. “Because we already bought two pumpkins for Halloween. One of which is on the porch, and the other is waiting for you to carve it.”

Ren scratched the back of his head and shrugged. His oversized black sweater hung loose around his hands, and he had his thumb stuck through a hole in the side. “Mom wants to make pumpkin pie and she hates using the canned stuff.”

“Again, why are we in the pumpkin patch?” Hux asked again, stressing the “we” part of his sentence. “There were perfectly good pumpkins at the grocery store.”

“Always better to pick fruits and veggies straight from the ground yourself when you can,” Ren said, inspecting a few larger pumpkins still on their vine. He wasn’t satisfied and kept moving onto the next one. “Besides, it was open and it’s a nice day.”

“I think you missed the part of the sentence where we’re doing a favor for your mother,” Hux said. He sighed and rubbed his temples with his hands. “You two barely talk to each other. It’s been that way since you joined your cult.”

“It’s not a cult!” Ren snapped.

“Fine, since you found an alternative religion,” Hux said. “The point remains, that she didn’t approve, and you two fought, and now you’re suddenly doing favors for her.”

Ren paused next to another pumpkin and rolled it over. Hux wrinkled his nose at the discolored base and Ren put it back down, moving to the next one. “Look, she’s making it for Dad. He’s going to be back in the country for Halloween and I made the mistake of accepting her invite for dinner.”

“Which led to the pumpkins, how?”

“You’re always complaining that I never act polite, so I offered if I could bring anything to dinner,” Ren said, rolling his eyes. “And she asked for a few pumpkins to make pie.”

The fact Ren happened to like pumpkin pie wasn’t a fact lost on Hux. He crossed his arms and glared at the offending orange gourds. He could never figure out why people liked them so much. He’d never cared for the taste himself. “Since I assume I’ll be going with you, I’m wondering when you were planning to tell me about it.”

“On the drive there?” Ren said, smiling sheepishly. He leaned over a medium sized pumpkin and patted the side. He pulled out his knife and cut it from the vine, hauling it up. “Before you could say no?”

“I’m starting to think you like it when I’m angry with you,” Hux said, stomping through the patch toward the main gate. “Not that I can fathom why.”

“It’s kinda hot when you look like you’re about to commit murder but just barely keeping it in?” Ren drummed his fingers on the side of his pumpkin, a little smile on the side of his face. The dirt rubbed onto his black sweater, smearing in the fabric. “I mean, the first time I asked you out for coffee was right after I’d accidentally knocked you into a lake and you were two seconds from strangling me. That should have been a tip off.”

“I’m not eating any of that pie,” Hux said. He brushed the dirt off Ren’s sweater. “And you better believe I’m telling your parents every embarrassing thing about you that I can.”

“If you can get a word in that long,” Ren said, grinning. He kissed Hux on the side of the cheek and took his pumpkin to the checkout line at the end of the field where small children were running around. “I probably should have mentioned dad’s bringing his buddy Chewie with him. He’s even worse when they’re together, and this’ll be the first time you two have met since we hooked up five years ago.”

“At least he knows that we’ve been dating, right?” Hux asked.

“I wouldn’t say that exactly,” Ren said.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I may have neglected to tell him, so it depends on whether or not mom thought to mention it,” Ren said.

Hux stopped, covering his face with both hands. “Your mother hates me.”

“So, good chance he has no clue and she’s going to laugh when he flips his lid over the son-in-law he hasn’t met yet,” Ren said.

“We’re not married.”

Ren shoved his pumpkin into Hux’s arms as he pulled out his wallet to pay the lady at the table. “Close enough.”

“That is not the point.” Hux said, following quickly after Ren and his stupidly long legs. His stride was too long. He shoved the pumpkin back into the man’s arms and hissed. “And you are sleeping on the couch.”

“Not the doghouse?” Ren asked. “I mean, if we’re going with old married couple stereotypes that one sounds better.”

“We don’t have a dog.”

Ren laughed, covering his mouth. He pulled the pumpkin up, snickering into the side of it. His eyes sparkled in amusement as he looked over the top of the orange surface. “My dad’s going to love you, if that makes you feel better?”

“Stop lying, Ren.” Hux said, rolling his eyes. “You spent the first year we were dating whining about how he wouldn’t stop bugging you to date a pilot. As an engineer, I’m sure to disappoint him no matter what I was like.”

“You’re right,” Ren said. “He’ll probably start comparing you to mom, though.”

Hux felt fully justified shoving Ren’s pumpkin out of his arms, feeling completely satisfied with the horrified look on his face as he dove to catch the thing before it hit the pavement.

Chapter Text

“You’re not very good at this, are you?” Hux asked, crossing his arms and taking in the large man in front of him. He glared through dark eyes with wavy hair falling in his face. He rubbed his jaw where Hux had elbowed him in the jaw. “Typically it’s not wise to attack someone with military training, especially for something as common as a mugging.”

“I wasn’t going to mug you,” the stranger said, pulling his shoulders up.

His attempt to look more menacing was completely downplayed by the bags under his eyes, and the sickly complexion. The dark-haired stranger breathed heavily, sniffing every so often. He probably was sick, if the slight bit of sweat on his brow was any indication.

“You pulled me into an alley and attempted to manhandle me,” Hux said, keeping his distance. He’d gotten a good shot in, and frankly the man looked like he had no idea what he was doing, but always good to be prepared. “So it was either to mug me, or something more untoward. Be happy I gave you the benefit of the doubt.”

“I wasn’t going to do that either!” he shouted. “Just.”

The man cut himself off and looked toward the alley. The two of them were still alone for the moment, save for the peek of the street light on the pavement at the mouth of the alley. Hux kept his guard up, wondering when the best time to sprint for it would be. Though part of him wondered if he shouldn’t just do his trained duty and restrain this mugger before he attacked someone else.

But it was late and he just wanted to go home, and really, screw other people.

“Are we quite done?” Hux said, lifting his head and straightening his back. This man only had a few inches on him, and whether or not he was hiding muscle under that ratty, black sweater was yet to be seen. Either way, Hux was a trained officer. It would be fine. “Because I’m ready to go home.”

“You will,” the man said. He took a daring step toward the opening of the alley, blocking Hux’s path. “A little later. But I’m done finished yet, so you’ll have to wait.”

“You’re seriously not trying to mug me again are you? After that quick defeat?”

“You caught me a little off guard! You didn’t beat anything!”

Hux sighed and made a move to leave. “Get out of my way.”

He took two steps, and Hux found himself on the ground ten feet further into the alley, his face shoved into the pavement. He sucked in a breath, and tried to roll over, but his arm was pinned behind his back and a heavy weight kept him flat on the ground. Hux couldn’t move his head, and he felt strong fingers in the back of his hair.

“How did you?”

“I told you, you didn’t beat anything,” the stranger said. 

He tugged Hux’s neck sideways, keeping his face turned away. Hux’s view was restricted to the side of the dumpster of his favorite restaurant. He felt the man’s hot breath on his neck, and Hux wondered if he shouldn’t have given the man the benefit of the doubt earlier.

“Night,” the man said.

Hux was half through an insult when he passed out after a sharp prick of pain.


“Don’t move too quickly,” a voice said to Hux’s left. “You’re alright.”

He opened his eyes to white ceiling tiles, and he immediately noticed the hospital bed upon looking to the side and seeing the familiar rails. He saw an IV in the crook of his elbow and mentally did a checklist of his body. His mugger must have stabbed him or something else equally ridiculous.

“What hospital am I at?” Hux asked, addressing the now obvious nurse checking his vitals. “And what happened?”

The woman smiled neatly and picked up a chart on the end of the table. “You were brought in by an ambulance after an emergency call. They found you passed out in the alley, and were found to be severely anemic when you were brought in. You were given a small blood transfusion earlier this morning to help, though we’ve yet to identify the cause of the blood loss.”

“I was mugged,” Hux said. He moved his other hand and felt along his neck. “Are you sure I wasn’t stabbed or something?”

The nurse shook her head. “Nothing on the chart indicates any visible injuries, and there’s no reason to believe it’s internal from the scans.”

Hux scowled. “Blood doesn’t just disappear.”

“I’m sure we’ll find out the cause.” She set the chart down and raised the bed slightly. “I’m sure the doctor will be in shortly to see how you’re doing now that you’re awake.”

The nurse left, and Hux ran over the events of the evening again. A man pulled him into the alley, Hux elbowed him hard enough in the jaw to knock him back a foot. They argued, and then he somehow threw Hux ten feet away and pinned him with little to no effort.

It wasn’t possible.

These thoughts plagued Hux for the next four days as he recovered from his freak anemia, and they found nothing wrong with him. Hux had mysteriously lost three and a half pints of blood and they had no idea how. No injuries. No internal bleeding. No nothing. Just what had happened?

He was discharged from the hospital on the seventh day of observation. He was still low on the red blood cell count, but not enough that they could force him to stay. Weak or not, Hux was going home. His blood would replenish itself naturally over the next few weeks, and if he still felt bad later, he could come back.

Collecting his things, Hux immediately checked his wallet. He’d been so stuck on the mystery of where his blood went and how his attacker had gained super strength, he had forgotten to see what he man had stolen.

Nothing, apparently.

Hux flipped through his wallet a second time. All of his cash and cards were still there. His ID was fine. Nothing was amiss. He snapped it shut and made his way home.

He could care about it later.


“You’re looking good,” a familiar voice said. Hux jerked his head to the side, and saw the stranger from the alley last month leaning against a wall, smirking. His color looked better, and his hair was clean. “Nice to see you bounce back so well.”

“You!” Hux shouted. He stalked closer to the stranger, not caring if he was making a scene on the sidewalk. The idiot wouldn’t dare do anything in public. “You have some nerve.”

“A bit,” the man said. He chuckled and pressed his lips together. “I did want to apologize, though. Normally I don’t take that much, but I was just so mad I overdid it.”

Hux blinked. The only thing taken from him that night was—Hux gaped. “You stole my blood!”

“Guilty,” he said. He leaned a little closer and whispered, “But if it makes you feel better, it went to a good cause.”

“What? Are you some vigilante blood donor thief?” Hux asked, sneering openly. That must have been why no one saw a wound. He must have used a needle or something…but wouldn’t there have been bruising? “How’d you even do it in that dingy little alley?”

“I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you,” he said. He pushed off the wall, smiling wide enough to show his teeth. The man leaned toward Hux, almost pressing their noses together. “But maybe you’ll figure it out, you seem smart.”

“Step away,” Hux said.

The man laughed and Hux expected the heat of his breath, but he felt nothing. As if the man weren’t breathing. Hux looked at his chest, and noticed it wasn’t moving. That was. Hux glanced up to stare into amused, dark eyes.

“In the meantime, my name is Kylo Ren,” he said. He smacked Hux on the arm and winked. “And I will absolutely be paying you another visit. It’s not often I’m stuck thinking about someone a month afterwards.”

“You make absolutely zero sense,” Hux said. He stomped his foot and pointed. “And you stay away from me!”

“Make me,” Ren said. He stepped into an alley, disappearing from view.

Hux took after him, stupidly, but hell if he wasn’t going to give that man a piece of his mind! He turned the corner, and found it empty. Only a few dumpsters and leftover trash. Hux narrowed his eyes and took a step back. He looked up and gaped, seeing Ren sitting on the top ledge of the five story building.

Ren waved, before falling back on the roof and out of sight.

Hux ran his hand through his own hair and shook his head. A man who scaled buildings in seconds and had the strength of too many men. Who stole blood, apparently. Hux left the alley and headed for home, ignoring the dark shadows he caught out of the side of his eye that appeared to be following him there.

If his mugger wanted to turn into a stalker, that was just fine.

It was where he kept his silver, anyway.

Chapter Text

“Something wrong, General?” Kylo asked, as he stepped off the shuttle ramp. Hux had came to a stop at the end of the way, staring off into the tree line. Kylo turned his attention there, but he didn’t sense anyone. “Did you see something?”

“No,” Hux said quickly, shaking his head. He stood straighter and continued down the path toward the waiting party. “Just taking in the scenery.”

Kylo waved his fingers in Hux’s direction. “Irritation is radiating off you and we’ve been on planet for less than then five minutes. What’s wrong?”

Hux glared, straightening his great coat on his shoulders. Kylo kept his hand up, the underlying threat of a mind read playfully spoken, but also half serious. Hux decided his issue wasn’t worth the game and confessed. “I seem to have remembered the ecosystem of this planet wrong, and it’s bothering me. I typically have a very good memory for these sort of things.”

“The ecosystem?” Kylo asked. He looked at the rows of trees that lined the path. Their leaves fell gently, carpeting the floor. “What has changed?”

“The colors,” Hux said. He reached up near a passing branch and tugged down a leaf. He held it up and frowned. “These are orange and red. I could have sworn the predominant color of the flora here was green the last time I was here.”

Kylo checked with the Force to see if Hux was being serious, or if he was somehow trying to tease Kylo.

“It’s Autumn here,” Kylo said, more and more baffled by the second. “The leaves changed color for the Fall season. It was likely Summer or Spring when you were last here, in which the leaves would have been green.”

Hux stared for a moment, mouth slightly agape. He snapped it shut quickly, a slight flush raising on his cheeks in embarrassment. “Seasons. Of, of course. I had forgotten some planets had those.”

“Have you ever been on a planet with seasons before?” Kylo asked, in an odd moment of pity. If he recalled, Hux spent the majority of his life on starships or on a single-ecosystem planet like Arkanis or Starkiller base. It’s quite possible he’d never seen a tree that changed with the seasons before. “There aren’t many planets that have them.”

“Enough that I’m more embarrassed I have forgotten season change than I could have possibly forgotten the flora color,” Hux said. He crushed the damp leaf in his hand and dropped it to the ground. A few picked up in the breeze as he resumed his walk down the path. They floated around the pair of them, dancing on the wind in their soft, warm colors. “I’ve been lax with my studies.”

“In all fairness,” Kylo said, holding his hand out. He drew up the leaves, dancing them around against the wind. “Starkiller base is covered in evergreens that never change, so they’ve clearly left an impression if you mentally hold all trees to their standard.”

“You aren’t making me feel better.”

“It suits you, though,” Kylo said. He snatched a leaf from the air, twisting it’s stem in his hand. The broad, flat leaves twisted in the light.

Hux glared from the corner of his eye. “What does?”

“The evergreens of Starkiller base,” Ren said. He held the leaf next to Hux’s cheek. “These may match your hair, but in winter they’ll all be dead and gone. The trees will hibernate until spring, where they start the cycle all over. You, on the other hand, are always working, always busy, and would scoff at the idea of a vacation. You’re ever working, Hux, no matter what the season.”

“If you’re attempting to woo me by being poetic,” Hux said, twisting on his heel. He snatched the leaf away and leaned in until they were near nose to nose. Hux held the leave between them, blocking his warm breath. Hux smiled behind it and whispered, “It’s working.”

He kissed Kylo through the leaf, tasting like the warm autumn night.

Chapter Text

Blood gushed from the top of Hux’s head, slipping through the greasy strands of carrot hair he still couldn’t bear to get rid of. The force of the blow smacked him into the side of the bar counter, knocking another customer out of the way. His attacker held tight to his weapon, cursing in some non-basic language Hux couldn’t identify.

Getting glassed in a bar was not ex-General Hux’s idea of a good time.

The alien made a swipe for his head again with the remainders of the brandy bottle, the neck of which was still gripped tightly in a hairy fist. Hux ducked, finding it difficult to see through the curtain of red covering his left eye. The warm liquid was rather distracting, and Hux wished they’d give him a polite second to wipe it away.

The glass bottle shattered on the counter, spraying Hux with shards. He yanked up the side of his stolen pilot’s jacket to protect the rest of his exposed skin, cursing under his breath as a loose one nicked him in the cheek.

After this, he was never making fun of Ren for finding a new mask again.

“Can we be reasonable about this?” Hux asked, dodging around a bar stool. The alien had gone for another bottle, the barkeep doing nothing but laughing at the spectacle. The desire to draw more blood was pretty clear, even without understanding of his words. Hux held his arms up. “I didn’t do anything to you!”

“You looked at him funny,” someone called unhelpfully from across the bar. Quite the group of people had gathered at this point to mock Hux’s lack of finesse in bar fighting (in his defense he’d been mid-sip of a drink when the blow occurred and fighting with a concussion was never the best). “That’s more than enough around these parts!”

“Wonderful,” Hux said, though he was suspicious his words were slurring.

Moving back around to where he’d first been sitting to get away from grabbing hands, Hux made a grab for the bar and—his hand slipped in a slick puddle of his own blood. He’d never have lived it down if he were back on the Finalizer, but as it stood, Hux was in a seedy bar in the edge of the universe trying not to think about his situation for one night. So it was likely the people laughing at his fall onto the filthy floor, face-first, wasn’t likely to be remembered in the morning by this lot of drunks.

Hux turned on his back, just in time to see the alien raise a chair over his head: One decorated in small spikes along the sides (of all things).

That was probably going to bleed more than the glassing.

Instinct taking over through the fog, Hux drew into a ball, throwing his arms over his head. The blood seeping from his wound soaked into the sleeve of his jacket and he braced for an impact.

“Kriff!” Someone shouted across the room.

Hux heard a crash in the far corner, and felt no blow to his person, so he could only assume that someone had come to his rescue. And there was only one person in the galaxy willing to even consider doing that any longer: Kylo Ren.

“Did you sense I was in trouble, or did you just get tired of sulking alone in your room?” Hux asked, grabbing a bar stool to tug himself off the floor. He stared at the ruined sleeve of his jacket and huffed. It’d taken forever to find civilian clothes he didn’t loathe on sight. Across the room, the alien’s head was cracked open on a chest in the corner. Orange blood gushed from his right side. “And don’t lie if it’s the second one.”

“Little of both,” Ren said, the vocoder of his new bounty-hunter mask barely masking his voice. He still wore black, but the simple smuggler’s outfit fit in well with the rest of the people here. “I got a bad feeling, and decided to treat it with a drink.”

“I’m not saying thank you.”

“You’re swaying,” Ren said, holding his hand up. He turned Hux’s head by the chin and sighed through the vocoder. “You weren’t gone long enough to get drunk, so I’m guessing it’s a concussion.”

“How do you know it wasn’t long enough for me to get drunk?” Hux asked, pointing his finger into the middle of Ren’s chest. “Hm? Maybe I had six or seven shots in those fifteen minutes.”

“You’re concussed,” Ren said, shaking his head. He rubbed his thumb through the sticky strands of his blood-soaked hair, shoving it out of his face. “We should clean that up.”

“You’re going to clean that up,” Hux said. He leaned across the bar and grabbed one of the few remaining non-broken bottles from the fight. “I am drinking.”

“Come on,” Ren said, grabbing Hux by the arm. He took the bottle from him, but made no move to put it back on the counter. Ren guided them both out of the room, everyone having long ago run out at the sight of the terrifying man. “You’re bleeding all over your favorite coat.”

“It’s already ruined,” Hux whined. “It’s not fair.”

“I’ll use the Force to get it clean,” Ren said, taking them out into the street.

Hux squinted at Ren, trying to picture his face right now. It was always hard to tell when he was serious or when he was joking when Ren wore that stupid mask (which admittedly was likely the point). Hux asked anyway. “Can you do that?”

“Sure,” Ren said, sounding like he was lying (“humoring” might be the actual phrase in this case). He helped Hux up the stairs to their hotel room and shrugged him out of the jacket. Hux collapsed back on the bed, not caring if he got blood on the sheets (there had to be worse there already). Ren shook his head and tossed his mask on the side of the bed. He leaned over Hux, eyes warm but concerned. “We need to clean up the blood.”

“I’d rather you kissed me,” Hux said. He reached up and grabbed Ren’s shoulder, dragging him down.

They could clean the blood up later.

Chapter Text

Kylo stared outside the observation window of the cruiser, contemplating if the Force was testing him again. The odds of this First Order vessel crossing so close to that space at this time of the standard year could not be coincidence. But what it meant for him, Kylo did not know.

Either way it made his chest ache.

“Here you are,” Hux said, crossing the room. Mitaka trailed behind him, nose in a datapad as he checked the daily schedule. “I was wondering where you wandered off to this time. Just once, it’d be nice to find you at your scheduled location, Lord Ren.”

“To the best of my knowledge, I do not have a regular schedule,” Kylo replied, heart not in the teasing today, though to keep appearances he supposed he should give it a go. Mitaka looked up quickly, as if he had just noticed the other man. “So that would be hard to do.”

“Nonsense,” Hux said. He held out his hand and Mitaka put the datapad in it. He tapped a few screens and flipped it around. Hux pointed at a small list. “There, you see? When you are not on active duty for our Supreme Leader you have a standard schedule.”

“Did you need something?” Kylo asked, voice strained. He did not want to deal with this today, not when his thoughts were cluttered with other things.

Proving smarter than he looked, Mitaka dismissed himself and left the room in quite the hurry, claiming he had work to do.

Hux nearly rolled his eyes, but restrained himself. He looked out the window and out into the stars. “I received your vague message about possibly taking some personal time in the upcoming week with shuttle clearance, and wanted to clarify the details. I don’t want to do the work planning for an absence that may or may not happen. Just because you’re free with your schedule does not mean you don’t do the work at some point, which will need to be done if you’re not here.”

“I haven’t decided yet,” Kylo said. In fact, he was fairly certain he wouldn’t be sure if he was leaving or not up until the very last second, but Hux would have thrown an even worse fit if Kylo just left out of the blue. At least this was some sort of warning. “It’s a difficult decision.”

“Perhaps it would help to talk it out?” Hux asked, crossing his arms behind his back. His shoulders were squared and he looked every bit the professional, but the slight fondness he felt for Kylo was hidden under it. The man wanted to help, earnestly and without ulterior motive. It was oddly endearing, Kylo found. Hux continued, “Is it a technical problem? Or merely something related to your religious leanings?”

“More the second,” Kylo said. Hux turned to him, waiting for more of an explanation. Kylo turned from the window. “Though mostly it is a personal issue I do not wish to discuss in the halls.”

“My quarters or yours?” Hux asked, falling in line as they walked away side by side. He tapped a few lines in his datapad, informing Mitaka he was taking a short absence before turning the device off. “Either works for me.”

Kylo turned down the proper corridor. “Mine.”

Hux’s quarters felt sterile and empty, two things that would not help his mood.

Kylo removed his mask, setting it in the stand of ashes in the center of his room. Hux sat in the chair, crossing his legs while Kylo sat on the edge of his bed. He rested his hands on his knees and wondered where to start.

“My mother is from Alderaan,” Kylo said, starting there. Despite being intimate for a year now, very little personal information had been shared between himself and Hux. They kept their relationship as free of attachments as they could, but he supposed that was an arbitrary thing if Hux genuinely seemed interested in helping Kylo through this dilemma. “She was a survivor.”

“I bet that made for an interesting childhood,” Hux said.

Kylo could see his brain rolling that information around, but had yet to jump to the conclusion that he was related to the most famous of the Alderaanian survivors. Kylo was thankful; he wasn’t ready to have that conversation with Hux yet.

Hux licked his lip and straightened in his seat. “And this has to do with this upcoming week, how?”

“Survivors of Alderaan often go to the Graveyard, that is the remains of Alderaan, to show their respects to the lost. They often send gifts, but mostly it’s an acknowledgment that they won’t forget their home,” Kylo said. Hux nodded in understanding, remembering the stories of old Imperial soldiers that used those journeys as a chance to attack. Kylo frowned and pressed his lips together. “My mother went every year, and took me and my father with her. There’s nothing quite like it, Hux. The sheer scale of destruction is overwhelming, but at the same time unimpressive when you’ve seen Asteroid fields that looked much the same. It’s humbling, in either case. I went with them every year, well, until I was sent to a boarding school.”

Kylo supposed that was true enough. His Uncle had decided those trips were too emotional for Ben Solo while he was undergoing Jedi training. He tapped into the grief of those around himself too easily and got lost in it. Skywalker had decided that trips to the Graveyard were off the table until Ben Solo could control his emotions.

He hadn’t been since.

“I take it the end of this week is when you normally would have gone?” Hux asked. Kylo nodded, tilting his head to the side. Hux straightened in his chair, shifting. “You haven’t gone since I’ve known you. Is there something that has made this year different?”

“We’re in the same system at the right time,” Kylo said. He covered the lower half of his face with his fingers. “The Force has been calling to me loudly since we entered this space, and I feel like I am supposed to go, though I do not wish to.”

The chances of seeing his Mother there were too great, and Kylo was far more ready to tell Hux of his true parentage and inner feelings than he was to see her.

“In addition,” Kylo said, “Starkiller base will be finished at the end of this year. So you can imagine why Alderaan may have some significance outside of the traditions of my youth.”

“The destruction of worlds,” Hux said, voice thoughtful. He leaned his cheek on the tips of his fingers, smiling just a little. “You wish to see the Graveyard of Alderaan to see for yourself the gravity of what it means to destroy a planet, but it scares you. Is that close to your problem?”

Kylo nodded.

“You should go,” Hux said. He stood from his chair and walked across the room. He brushed Kylo’s hair back from his face and kissed Kylo’s temple. “There’s no room for doubt with what we plan to do. Go see for yourself what power can do. Be afraid of it. Be in awe of it. And then come back with full knowledge of the sacrifice we will make to bring the universe to order.”

“You always seem to have a speech prepared,” Kylo whispered, brushing the back of his knuckles against Hux’s chest.

Hux straightened, and took a step away. He looked to the side, as if he’d caught himself being affectionate. Hux returned to his cold demeanor, though Kylo could still feel the heart under it. “I’ll approve your shuttle clearance and put in your time for leave.”

“Thank you.” Kylo said. Whether this was a trial or not, clearly the Force wanted Kylo to visit the Graveyard once more if it even had Hux telling him to go. He closed his eyes and nodded. “I’ll prepare to leave.”

Hux went for the door, but he paused at the entrance of the room. He hesitated a moment too longer perhaps, and turned back to the room. Hux walked to the center, and busied himself with Kylo’s stand of ashes. He pressed his fingers into the remains and pulled them back, rubbing the ashes against his fingers like they were chalk.

After finally gathering his words, Hux asked, “Would you like me to accompany you?”

Kylo looked up, eyes and silence questioning.

“It’s just that you seem to be in need of emotional support,” Hux said. He scrunched his face, as though all of his oratory skills had fled now that he needed them. Emotions were never his strong suit; it was rather adorable, and such a remarkable contrast to Kylo who could never seem to turn his own off. Hux cleared his throat. “And I must confess, I’ve never been to the Graveyard myself. I wonder if it truly holds up to the descriptions.”

“I would love for you to come,” Kylo said.

“Good,” Hux said. “Then I will see you at departure.”

Hux escaped the room, mind reeling as he thought about what he’d agreed to. The poor man now had to assign a week’s worth of duties for both commanders in less than a day. It made Kylo smile.

He fell on his bed and closed his eyes.

It was time to return to the Graveyard.

Chapter Text

“So let me get this straight,” Hux said in that one tone of voice that told Kylo he wasn’t allowed in Hux’s quarters for a least a month. “We’re stuck on a dead ship floating in space that’s haunted by the dead spirits of two Sith Lords that want to kill us, armed with nothing more than your Force and a flashlight.”

“We also have your blaster.”

“Against ghost Sith Lords?”

“It’s a resource!”

“I’m going to use it on you,” Hux said, stomping forward through the hallway. He shone his flashlight around the room, glaring at everything in the crumbling ship. They were lucky the life support systems were still functioning. A panel exploded to the left, and Kylo caught the debris before it could hit Hux with the force. The man scowled and rolled his eyes. “As soon as we get out.”

Kylo followed next to Hux, his senses overwhelmed by the sheer miasma that covered the ship. It made him sick to his stomach and messed with his abilities of premonition and his reflexes. He could still control physical items, but was far more likely to be caught off guard by something trying to sense through the essence of the Dead Sith Lords.

For once, he envied that Hux had the Force sensitivity of a rock; he barely felt anything at all walking around the ship.

“How did we end up in this mess?” Hux asked, sighing through his breath. “I don’t even know how we got on this ship. The last I remember we were on the Finalizer planning how to get revenge on the New Republic for destroying Starkiller base.”

“I’m sure it’ll come to us when we figure out how to get off.” Kylo did not want to focus on the fact that he wasn’t sure how the two of them came to this place either. He was asleep, and then he woke here with Hux yelling at him. “I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

“Is the Force telling you that?” Hux asked, stepping over a skeleton in the middle of the hallway. It was covered in spiderwebs and Kylo wasn’t even sure there were spiders in space. Where did those come from? Hux scowled at it and shined the flashlight’s beam on a weird cult symbol on the wall. “Because I think it’s lying to you.”

Maniacal laughter sounded throughout the ship, and Hux glared at Kylo.

“I might have said that to lie to myself,” Kylo admitted.

“Good boy,” Hux said. He patted Kylo on the arm and strode forward. “Let’s stick to the facts for this madhouse, shall we?”

“I’m letting the next panel that explodes hit you.”

Chapter Text

“I’m starting to think there isn’t anything your space magic can do,” Hux said, sipping from a cup of tea. He leaned back in his chair at the desk, thoughtful and amused. “Premonition, visions, mind control, mind reading, levitation, shields, enhanced reflexes, and on and on. It’s like if you can think it, you can do it and it’s as incredible as it is annoying that the universe seems fit to give these immense powers to random people.”

“I’m fairly certain the Force decided if you had the ability to manipulate it, the universe would be destroyed,” Ren said, eyes closed as he meditated. The man was relaxed as he sat cross legged on the floor. He claimed he could chat and meditate at the same time, though Hux wasn’t quite sure if that was true. “And it’s not magic.”

“You use an invisible Force to manipulate the energy and building blocks of the universe, I know,” Hux said, rolling his eyes. “But it’s as good as, so why not call it what it’s closest to?”

“It has a name: The Force.”

“Which is too easy to mistake for the regular verb,” Hux said. He waved his finger in the air. “For example, you used the Force to force someone to do your bidding. Double use of the same word in the sentence is awkward.”

“Then use a different verb.”

“The point is, you’re obscenely powerful and it’s a little unfair,” Hux said. He smiled and reached over to ruffle Ren’s hair. The man didn’t flinch, leading just a few points to hint he might actually be meditating. “Is there anything you can’t do with it?”

“Transmutation seems to be out of reach,” Ren said, humming lightly. “I’ll let you know when alchemy is on the table.”

Hux chuckled, slipping out of the chair to sit on the floor next to Ren. He leaned against the man’s back, closing his eyes. Whenever Ren channeled the Force to meditate this way, there was a warm buzz around him. Back to back, Hux could feel the tingle of it through his skin. He leaned his head on Ren’s shoulder, touching their heads together.

“What’s the largest thing you’ve lifted using your magic?”

“A shuttle,” Ren answered. He breathed in deep, and his expanding back pushed Hux up ever so slightly. “Sometimes I’m curious if I could lift larger, but the opportunity to try has not shown itself.”

“We should go down to the shuttle bay and see how many you can lift at one time,” Hux said, taking a drink of his tea. “I’m curious now.”

“You’re talkative tonight.”

“I’m bored and your powers have been on my mind,” Hux admitted. He turned, pressing his shoulder into Ren’s back so that he could see the man’s relaxed face, eyes still shut. “I was researching and came across some old documents discussing what the Jedi got up to. In reading about all those remarkable feats and powers, it finally hit me there was nothing they could do that you yourself couldn’t do. It was a little humbling.”

“You don’t sound humbled.”

“Greedy, perhaps,” Hux said. He set his cup on the floor, pushing it away lightly as to not knock it over by accident with his shifting. “Or maybe just a bit of awe. You’re so irritating most of the time, that I often forget you have unimaginable power. I yell regularly at someone who could throw a shuttle at me, and it’s one part amusing and one part intoxicating to have that sort of power.”

“You mean you realized that you can yell at me because I allow it, and that in truth you have no real control over the situation.”

Hux bit the edge of his lip, far too amused at the hint of teasing that laced the edges of Ren’s voice. Hux reached up, tracing the shell of Ren’s ear with the tip of his fingers. “Yes, yes. I have no real power here.”

He shoved Kylo over, breaking the man from his meditation, but without surprise. The man fell back as if he expected, and with premonition at his disposal, he likely had already foreseen this. The smirk on his face as he hit the floor told as much. Hux had no intention of disappointing as he crawled over Ren’s chest and straddled his lap to press their hips together. Ren opened his eyes, and grabbed Hux’s waist with long fingers.

“But power or no, I can still do this,” Hux said. He grabbed Ren’s cheeks and leaned over to kiss him. The man kissed back, and that buzz of magic still clung to his skin and Hux felt it from his lips down to his jaw and his bones. If this was a fraction of what Ren felt whenever he used the Force, Hux had no idea how the man wasn’t drunk on power at all times. Hux squeezed his thighs and drew his hips forward. “Whether it’s because you allow it, or because I want it, hardly matters.”

“True enough,” Ren said, tugging Hux further down.

Chapter Text

Hux fiddled with the microphone clip as he attempted to attach it to the neck of his sweater. The box for it was heavy on his back, tugging down the waist of his pants. “Why am I not filming, again?”

“You did three years of debate team in college and two years of drama in high school,” Ben said, hauling up the (admittedly much heavier than his portable microphone) camera onto his shoulder. The professional set up had impressed Hux the first time he saw it, but was less impressed when he realized Ben’s mother had paid for it. He supposed there were perks to coming from a wealthy family. Ben grabbed the camera bag and threw it on his back. “You have a better camera presence than I do.”

“Yes, but I don’t believe any of this stuff and you do,” Hux said. He checked in a mirror next to their equipment van to make sure that the box was hidden under his sweater, and that there were no unsightly lumps. “Someone is going to pick up on that, no matter how good of an orator I am.”

“That’s fine,” Ben said. He opened the side of the van door, allowing Hux to pack away the excess equipment. “I’m not on camera, but I’m still talking and I believe in this enough for the both of us or we wouldn’t be here at all. Besides, a sceptic along helps add to the authenticity, don’t you think?”

Hux nodded. Honestly, if Ben didn’t have a good sense that this project needed to be as entertaining as it was proof-finding, he wouldn’t have agreed at all. But as it stood, even if this entire thing turned out to be a dud (which it would), at least they’d have something sellable.

“I take it you want me to save my clarifying questions for what we’re doing here for the camera?” Hux asked, looking up at the supposedly haunted building. “Or should I ask now?”

“On camera is better,” Ben said. He locked up the van and made his way down the sidewalk to the front lawn. “That way the audience gets their info dump at the same time you do.”

“Fair enough,” Hux said. “And we can fix any stumbles in editing.”

Ben stood at the entrance to the fence gate and waved at Hux to move forward into the yard. He did so, opening the gate and frowning at the unkept grass. Ben tapped his own mic, before telling Hux to do the same. He stared at the small audio readout on his hip connected to the camera. “Check your mic.”

“One, two, this is stupid, one two.”

“Very funny,” Ben said. He rolled his eyes and pulled the camera over. “Let’s just get this started so we can see some ghosts. “We’re on in three, two.”

Ben pointed at Hux and he smiled to start the prepared opening. “‘ello, ghost enthusiasts. I am Hux, and my associate Ben is currently manning the camera.”

“Hello,” Ben said, smiling widely.

“We are Starkiller Productions, and we are here to find the ghost of a man who was famous for murdering movie stars. A star serial killer, if you will.”

“But after that, I’m as in the dark as you lot are.” Hux walked forward toward the house, and raised his hand. He turned to the camera, not looking directly into the lens, but rather at Ben’s face just to the side of it. “As the serial killer’s grandson, I’m sure that Ben can tell you much more about what we’re doing here.”

“His name was Anakin Skywalker, who was called ‘Darth Vader’ by the authorities as they tracked his crimes,” Ben said, following Hux closely. “Over his lifetime, he murdered every actor who had ever associated with the Jedi Counsel studios, save for one man: His son, and my uncle, Luke Skywalker. Luke was the first actor to fight back effectively, and managed to subdue my grandfather. As such, he was taken in by authorities where he vowed upon his death to haunt this earth in revenge.”

“And this is his home, is it not?” Hux asked, opening the front door. The decorations were expensive and opulent. They looked rich and out of place with the vision of the man Hux had seen after briefly looking him up. “My, he had good taste.”

“The home was furnished by my grandmother, Padmé Amidala,” Ben said. “Grandfather loved her very much. It is said he committed his crimes in her name, as the Jedi Counsel had insulted her and had opposed to his relationship with her.”

“Ah yes,” Hux said, tempted to turn on the lights. Ben said he shouldn’t, as it would ruin the atmosphere and the camera had a perfectly functioning night-vision filter. “He was once part of that studio himself, was he not?”

“Despite his fall, my Grandfather was one of the best actors of the generation,” Ben said. He said this with the authority that comes with owning a copy of every single movie that man had ever appeared in. Ben’s obsession with his serial killer grandfather was often worrisome to Hux, but then again, he was sure the man could have worse hobbies. “It is a shame his choices led to  his career being cut so short.”

“That’s one way to put it,” Hux said. The house floorboards creaked as they walked, loud in his ears. He came to the end of the hallway where a large portrait of Anakin Skywalker and his Wife was placed on the wall. He had a scar across his face from an earlier stunt that had gone wrong. He still looked imposing, and if Hux tilted his head, he could see the family resemblance to Ben. “What has made you believe he haunts this house?”

“It’s where he killed his wife,” Ben said. His voice took an airy tone to it, as if in reverence to the location. Ben trailed the camera up to the portrait, likely focusing on the woman’s face. “Just before he was captured, it’s said he got into a fight with my grandmother who had found out what he was doing. It got out of hand, and he strangled her. Thinking he killed her, he left to attack Luke in his grief. His friend Ben Kenobi, the man I’m named after, found her and managed to get her to the hospital in time to save her children, but her throat was too damaged and she died in childbirth. It would make sense that this place, and that death, would haunt him the most.”

Hux entered the next room, and noted the layer of dust that touched every surface. This house was near untouched. And he’d believe it if Ben said no one had come into this cursed place. It was a blight on Ben’s family; something they wanted to preserve but also keep hidden away. He lifted a book from the shelf, flipping through the pages.

Ben came into the room, still filming about. “I know you don’t believe me when I say it, but I know I can feel him here. That’s why I want proof.”

“As long as you don’t plan to follow in his footsteps, that’s fair enough,” Hux said.

Ben had quite the temper, and got into fights more often than Hux would like to admit, but he hadn’t killed anyone yet. And as the man who was sleeping with him, Hux had no desired to be strangled.

Not that would happen.

If Hux found out tomorrow that Ben was a serial killer, he’d keep his mouth shut about it like a sane person.

He might smack him around more, though, because if Hux found out than anyone could find out and that meant Ben was being sloppy, and that just wouldn’t do. Then Hux would have to help him hide the evidence properly and then he’d be a proper accessory, and then they’d really go down together for murder.

Not that Hux had ever contemplated being a serial killer.

Hux cleared his throat and moved into the next room, remembering that he was on film. “Do you come here often enough to sense him?”

“Once a month,” Ben said. He kept the camera focused between Hux and the things on the walls, walking slowly and carefully. As they entered further into the house, he kept his voice low and warm to the microphone. “I don’t touch anything, as not to disturb the mansion, but I do walk the halls to remind myself of his history to learn what I can. Every time, I’ve felt a strong chill down my spine that tells me he’s here. I’ll talk to him sometimes, though I’ve yet to get an answer.”

“It seems like a personal, private affair,” Hux said as they entered the main sitting room. From what he read, this is where the man murdered his wife, though Hux would mention that in a few moments for the camera. “I’m rather surprised you wanted to film this at all.”

Ben pressed his lips together, his fingers clinging to the camera handle. They shook ever so slightly and he breathed in.

The door to the room slammed shut.

Hux and Ben both turned to it, and Hux held his breath. They were too far away from the door to have done that, and Hux knew no one other than himself and Ben were in the house. No one wanted to come within miles of this place. You couldn’t pay them enough. It was half the reason he agreed to this. People would pay money just to see video footage of the interior, ghost or not.

He turned to Ben and pointed at the closed door. “Did you set that up? For effect?”

“No, and I can feel him,” Ben said. Hux’s eyes widened as the door lock twisted, resulting in a loud click signaling the door had locked. Hux went for the door, twisting the handle. Despite it being locked from the inside, it wouldn’t budge. Ben’s eyes widened, and he lowered the camera. “He’s here. Oh, it worked. It worked!”

“What did you do, Ben?” Hux asked, spinning around. “What worked!?”

“Anger is the strongest emotion,” Ben said, in awe. A smile spread on his face and he didn’t bother aiming the camera. His proof was right here and he wasn’t filming it. “I figured if I perhaps made him angry enough, he could start interacting with our plane. He could be come corporal.”

“Made him angry enough?” Hux asked. He stopped, eyes wide. “The filming. You never wanted to actually make a film! You just wanted to make him think we were going to spread his private affairs everywhere to make him livid!”

“And it worked!” Ben said, smiling.

The lights turned on, and the record player in the corner began to play. Hux backed away from the door and closer to Ben. This was ridiculous. None of this was real. Ghosts weren’t real. Hux grabbed Ben’s shirt and yanked him closer, noting the record button was still on and working. “If this is a prank, you have two seconds to fess up. I’m not joking.”

“No prank,” Ben said. He kissed Hux on the cheek. “I wanted the two most important people in my life to meet each other, and this was the only way I could think of.”

Hux gaped as Ben sat the camera on the table, dumping his bag next to it. It still recorded, but remained stationary. Ben walked into the center of the room, still smiling. “I’m sorry I fooled you, grandfather. But it was very important to me that I had your blessing for this relationship.”

A hand clamped down on Hux’s shoulder from the back, hot as fire. A voice, velvet and amused whispered in his ear. “So this is the young man I’ve heard so much about.”

Not for the first time, Hux wished that Ben had just been a closet serial killer.

Chapter Text

“So, everyone’s screaming on the radio and I’m not quite sure what’s going on,” Ben said, looking up from the CB radio. “They’re saying something about monsters?”

Hux looked up from his arm chair in the corner. He had a cup of tea at his side, and a hunting rifle in his lap, mid-clean. He paused, cleaning rag in his hand. “Is it a joke? I know they can get bored down there at the general store.”

“I don’t know,” Ben said. He tugged the nearly burnt out cigarette from his mouth and shoved it in the ash tray. “Poe likes to screw around, but monsters are a new one, even for him.”

“Then call them back to clarify, or forget about it,” Hux said. He had twenty more rifles to clean this afternoon, and he did not have time to mess with the locals’ issues. There was a reason he and Ben moved to the edge of town to set up their bunker instead of staying close to the main part of town. He valued his privacy and that blasted radio was Ben’s idea anyway in case of emergencies. “It’s not like it affects us out here.”

“Point made.” Ben flicked the radio switch back on and leaned on the table. His hair fell in his face, and Hux made a note to have him cut it later. He liked Ben’s hair longer, but there was long, and whatever it was now. Ben clicked the side of the mouthpiece. “Hey, Poe. What are you guys yelling about? If you guys are still teasing us because we officially named the house ‘Starkiller base’ last week, it stopped being funny. Over.”

Hux reassembled his rifle, and opened the chamber to check for ammo. Seeing none, he grabbed the box and slipped a few rounds inside. What was the point of having a weapon at the ready if it wasn’t loaded? When it was finished, he turned around and put it back on the rack that covered the entire far wall of their basement rec room.

“Poe? Are you there? Over,” Ben said again into the mic. He adjusted his utility vest, standing back from the radio. He looked over at Hux, eyebrows drawn together. “No one’s answering.”

“Maybe it was—”

The wall shook, cutting Hux off. He and Ben turned to the cinderblock wall opposite their gun rack. The wall shook a second time, like something large had rammed into it, pushing a few blocks forward out of their caulking. It went silence a second later.

“What the hell was that?” Ben asked, still holding the radio mouthpiece.

“It stopped, whatever it was.” Hux walked closer to the wall. “But what could have moved cinderblock from underground? There was no way that was an earthquake.”

Ben clicked the radio back on. “Poe! Seriously. Answer the damn radio, over.”

No sooner had he finished, the entire wall pushed forward. Hux scrambled away as dirt and a large lump of something squirming fell onto the floor of their basement. The thing that fell through appeared to be a giant worm of some sort, with large pincers that opened wide. Small tentacle like things fell out of its mouth, dripping with drool.

“Shit!” Ben yelled, dropping the radio and reaching for his sword on the wall. “Hux! Move!”

“Don’t have to tell me twice!” Hux shouted, scrambling to the other side of the room. A tentacle made for his leg and he kicked it away. “It’s got teeth on those things!”

Ben swung his sword at the side of it, but it bounced off. He cursed and kicked it away best he could before a tentacle grabbed him. He stabbed downward, cutting off one tentacle before retreating to the gun wall, where Hux already had yanked down a shotgun.

“The side’s super tough, but the inside of the mouth is weak!” Ben said. He ditched his sword, grabbing a pistol in it’s place. “Aim there.”

“My pleasure,” Hux said, firing a spray full of lead into the beast’s face. The monster tanked it, so Hux fired again. “I don’t see you helping, Ben!”

“I’m firing! I’m firing!” Ben said, pulling back the hammer. He fired the automatic pistol, draining the clip into the side of the beast. It squirmed and screamed and inched further into the room, thrashing back and forth. The thing was huge! Ben didn’t bother to reload and grabbed a rifle. He shot that into it, too. “Die already!”

The monster continued to scream, reaching for them with its disgusting tentacles. Orange blood gushed from the monster with each shot. Hux and Ben kept firing, more than thankful they kept their weapons loaded at all times.

People in town were never allowed to make fun of Hux and Ben’s basement ever again after this.

It took draining the ammunition of half the guns on their wall before the beast shuttered and fell over, still.

“I think it’s dead,” Ben said. He wandered over to Hux’s side of the room, leaning on the man. He dropped his face into Hux’s hair. “You okay?”

“I’m filthy and bleeding, so no,” Hux said. He hugged Ben back regardless and opened the chamber on his gun. “And apparently I have a lot of guns to reload.”

“I guess now we know what they were screaming about on the radio,” Ben said, looking at the thing. He squeezed Hux’s side and wandered over to the that took down their wall. He kicked it hard in the side. “Think we should go check on them?”

Hux didn’t want to, but he doubted they had the firepower to handle it if those monsters were attacking town as well. He huffed and grabbed his teacup. It was covered in dust and he threw it in the corner. “I’ll get the keys to the truck, you get the dynamite.”

Ben’s eyes lit up and he did a fist pump. “Yes!”

Chapter Text

Ben sniffed, rubbing the side of his nose with the back of his hands. The woods loomed around him, the sun having gone down an hour ago. He was still a good hour’s walk from his parent’s cabin, and it was cold and wet. His bag of groceries smacked against his thigh as he walked, the milk sloshing in it’s glass bottle.

He’d wanted to head back earlier, but he’d gotten caught up with an old high school friend and the next thing Ben knew it was getting dark and he still had an hour walk to go. Ben looked at his bag and sighed. At least it was cold enough outside that his milk wouldn’t go bad. It’d be a shame to have made the hike into town over nothing.

A howl sounded in the trees and Ben glanced toward the sound. He stopped for a moment, listening for the sound of rustling leaves or a sign that the wolf was close. The woods had been full of wolves and wild dogs for as long as Ben could remember, and they never bothered to get near his cabin, so he wasn’t worried just yet. Though it never hurt to be wary.

Far in the distance, Ben caught a flash of orange fur in a strip of moonlight falling through the trees. The animal was far too big to be a fox, so it had to be a wolf. Whatever it was, it was far enough away that Ben wasn’t too worried about it.

“I didn’t think we had red wolves around here,” Ben said to himself, starting back on his walk. “Man I hope they don’t keep that up all night.”

He made it another ten minutes before the howling turned into growls. Ben stopped; that had sounded much closer. He picked up his pace when he heard the telltale signs of a full on wolf fight.

They’d be too busy with each other to notice Ben, but that didn’t mean he didn’t want to be indoors right now. Irritated animals never meant anything good at night in the dark. He was near sprinting by the time he heard the fighting stop, stopping heavily up the cabin steps.

Ben shoved his key into the cabin door, shoving it open with his shoulder. He closed it behind him, breathing heavily when the howling started up again.


The wolves had kept up their racket all night. Whatever fight had went down, had them riled up until near dawn. Ben yawned into his hand, tired and irritated from the lack of sleep. They’d gotten near the cabin at some point, probably chasing a raccoon or something.

Ben dragged a few logs over to cut, the cabin running low on firewood. He lifted the ax and dropped it down hard, splitting the wood. After a while, despite the chill in the air, he got too warm and stripped off his jacket. He’d want it back in a second, but for now, working in his t-shirt would do.

“Excuse me,” a man said.

Ben looked up from his logs and turned, seeing a pale man standing near the edge of his porch. He had red hair and sharp eyes, wearing a sweater over a white button-up. The man looked a bit scrawny, and there had to be shoulder pads in that sweater. The stranger held his hand up in greeting, smile strained.

“Hey,” Ben said, dropping his ax head into the chopping stump. He tugged the washrag out of his belt buckle and wiped off his face as he tapped over. “Looking for the road?”

It wasn’t unusual to run across campers who wandered a bit too far from the camp grounds a few miles away. Their hiking trails were horribly marked, and Ben had almost volunteered once or twice to make better ones for them just to stop people from bugging him on his property. But at least this one was easy on the eyes.

“No, nothing like that,” the man said. He held out his hand and took Ben’s to shake. “My name is Armitage Hux, and I’m from the state Wildlife Conservation branch. It’s come to my attention that the local wolf population has been causing trouble, and so I’m interviewing residents to find out more information.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Ben said. He put his hands on his hips and looked out toward the woods. “Though I think someone’s messing with you, because last I checked nothing had changed.”

“Changed?” Hux asked, tilting his head. “How so?”

“Well, I mean,” Ben said, crossing his arms. “You hear the wolves more than you see them, you know? So I guess the howling can get annoying, but it’s not really hurting anybody and it’s been going on since I was a kid. Plus, it’s a small town. If the wolves attacked someone or got close enough to get into garbage or something, everyone would know about it. I can’t imagine who would have called you with a real report since nothing’s happened.”

“I see,” Hux said, voice tight. “So from your experience, the wolves haven’t bothered the human population outside of acceptable annoyance?”

“Look, I saw a wolf out last night for the first time in like a year,” Ben said, scratching the back of his head. “And if I haven’t seen them close enough to cause trouble, no one has. I’m the only one who lives out here, and the campers caught out after dark get kicked out of the campground. Phasma, the manager, has a zero tolerance policy about the campground curfew.”

“That’s both good and depressing to hear,” Hux said. He shook his head, and tugged his hair back. “Good because I’d hate to have to intervene in the wolf’s natural habitat, but depressing to have come out here for nothing and still be required to interview at least ten locals.”

“Ouch,” Ben said, laughing a bit. He rubbed the side of his arm, the chill in the air catching up with him, but didn’t want to leave just yet to go grab his jacket. “I can give you a list of people who live near the tree line, if you want.”

“That would be most helpful,” Hux said. “If you wouldn’t mind.”

“It’s no problem,” Ben said. He waved his hand toward the man door. “You’re welcome to come inside while I hunt down a notebook.”

“That would be nice, thank you.”

Ben tapped up the steps to his cabin, glad he cleaned up last night while he couldn’t sleep. It definitely paid off in the morning. Hux followed inside at a polite distance, looking around the room. Ben flipped on the light and went to the side table. He opened the drawer, tugging out a notebook and a pen.

“You staying at the motel in town?” Ben asked, scribbling down names. He listed Phasma first, as she had the most experience dealing with the wildlife. She had like a six sense for animals, and a huge dog that looked like a mix between a husky and a greyhound that Ben spotted wandering around the campgrounds at night. If she could take care of that thing, she could handle any wild animal. “I can’t imagine being able to interview that many people in one day considering how spread out everyone is.”

“No, actually. I’m staying at the local campground by the blessing of Miss Phasma,” Hux said. He stood to the side, studying a figurine of a wolf Ben’s mother had bought. His parents hadn’t lived in the cabin with him for years, but their furniture and belongings were still all over the place. Ben had never felt the need to redecorate. Hux tapped its nose with an odd smirk. “If I’m here to see nature, I might as well see it from up close, don’t you think?”

“That makes sense,” Ben laughed. He ripped the page off the notebook and handed it over. “There’s three people living in that one cabin, so I figure that should help out a little bit.”

“It’s appreciated,” Hux said. He looked over the page before folding it. Hux watched Ben for a moment, before looking out the window. “Would you say this is a nice area to live?”

“Nice enough,” Ben said. “If you like living in the middle of nowhere with one town and like a population of thirty.”

“Something to think about,” Hux said. He pressed down his sweater, and smiled. “Thank you again for your assistance.”

“Any time,” Ben said. “Good luck!”

Hux excused himself, and Ben watched him head out toward town on foot. As he got to the end of the path, his hair flashed in the sunlight and Ben was reminded of the red wolf’s fur. It was hard to tell in the different lights, but they looked like the same shade.


The wolves were at it again.

Ben sat at the window, shoving half a ham sandwich into his mouth. The wolves certainly bothering people, but maybe there was a reason someone called that Hux guy if they were still out there fighting for the third night in a row. Ben had lived in these woods for thirty years, and had never heard them get this upset this often.

He kept munching on his sandwich, making a personal note not to go outside after dark at all until they settled.

It took another hour, but eventually the howling and barking silenced out in the woods. Whatever they were up to was finished for tonight. Ben was about to close the window when he saw the wolf limping in the distance. The motion activated flood light picked up the animal’s movement, and there was no mistaking that fur: it was the red wolf from last week.

Closer, Ben realized he had severely underestimated how big the animal was the last time he saw it. The wolf was massive, nearly twice the size of the biggest grey wolf Ben had seen. It limped a few more feet before collapsing on its side.

Against his better judgement, Ben grabbed his coat and left his house, heading closer to the wounded animal. He really ought to leave well enough alone, considering wounded animals could be more dangerous than a healthy one. There was no questioning what Ben was currently doing was stupid, but he kept jogging over anyway. The flood light shown over his head and Ben could see his breath in the air, but he just could not get that specific shade of red-orange out of his mind.

Closer, he could see the animal was unconscious and the wolf was even more massive in person. Blood leaked sluggishly from thick wounds, matting the animal’s fur. It’s breath was labored, and Ben had to cover his nose from the smell of raw flesh.

“What happened to you?” Ben asked the air, staring openly.

And the more important question: What on earth was big enough to have done this much damage to an animal that big? A bear came first to mind, but Ben knew there weren’t any of those in this area.

But then again, he was staring at a red wolf, and those weren’t local either (he’d checked).

“I should call Phasma,” Ben said, biting the edge of his lip.

That Hux guy was probably still at the camp site, and he’d be the one to know what to do with an injured wolf, right? That was his job, and Ben certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him again. Plan in mind, Ben nodded to himself and took a step back, ready to dash back to the cabin when the wolf’s eyes snapped open.

Ben fell back when the thing lunged forward. It pinned Ben to the ground with a huge paw, before growling. It snarled for a few seconds before getting off and dashing to the left. Ben hyperventilated, watching it escape until it collapsed again about three yards away. The thing struggled to its feet, limping a few more steps before falling over again. Even from so far away, Ben could tell it had only worsened its condition trying to leave.

“I should definitely call Hux.”

Ben kept his eyes on the injured wolf the entire time he backpedalled into his house.


The wolf hadn’t moved from where it fell.

An hour later, Ben found himself walking back out to the animal, hands in his pockets. Phasma didn’t pick up the line after six calls, and there wasn’t exactly an animal service in town save for the local cops who would just shoot the poor thing anyway. He’d kept watch over it for a while, when Ben determined that it wasn’t going to move.

The wolf’s eyes were still open when he came up to it, and its breathing was shallow and struggling. It’s large body size certainly wasn’t helping, and he couldn’t imagine how hard its heart must be working with the blood still seeping into its fur.

“I don’t think you’re going to make it,” Ben said softly. The animal made no move to lunge, far too tired. It watched Ben, though, still wary. “I tried calling this wildlife conservative, but he didn’t pick up. And you’re way too big for me to move, and even if I did, I don’t exactly have a blood transfusion for you.”

The wolf kept watching him and Ben rubbed the back of his neck. He sighed heavily, and sat down in the dirt next to the animal. “But the thing is, I’m pretty sure dying alone sucks. So I guess I’ll sit out here with you for a bit. Okay?”

They sat together for a few more minutes, and the wolf must have deemed Ben harmless, because it finally looked away. It whined in pain, but Ben didn’t think breaking its neck to help it along would be better; just painful. Ben remembered when his childhood dog had been put down at the vet, and the way it just softly drifted off to sleep from the injection. It was probably something like that. Animals were always better about death than people were.

But it was still nice to be there.

He tugged his scarf up around his face, trying to ignore the cold in the air. It felt like it was going to snow sometime, and he almost wished the animal would hurry and die so he could go inside, but that was unfair. To distract himself from unkind thoughts, Ben listened to the wolf breathe, counting the time in between each one. It’s breaths were slowing, but still steady and even. As he counted, Ben felt his own eyes grow heavy.

He really didn’t mean to fall asleep.


Ben woke up in his own bed, under the covers, to the smell of coffee.

He sat up, blankets pooling at his waist and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. Ben looked around his room, and saw his jacket and clothes from last night on the floor. He lifted the blanket and found he was still in his boxers, but he didn’t remember climbing into bed. In fact, he remembered being outside. Ben scratched the back of his head. Had that ordeal been a dream?

“I hope you don’t mind I borrowed some of your clothes,” Hux said, walking into the room with two mugs of coffee. Ben blinked, thoughts of the wolf last night vanishing for the big question of: Why was Hux in his bedroom? The man shoved the coffee mug into Ben’s hands and sat on the edge of his bed, crossing his knees. “And for the record, I figured someone who lived alone in a cabin in the woods for this long would have more sense. What sort of idiot goes up to an injured, wild animal in the dark and then falls asleep outside?”

“So that wasn’t a dream,” Ben said. He took a sip of his coffee, and winced at the strength. Hux glared, so he swallowed it down anyway.

“No,” Hux said. He sipped his own drink and huffed. “I had half a mind to leave you out there, it would have served you right, but that would be poor thanks for sitting up with me as long as you did.”

“Sitting up with you.” Ben pulled down the mug and looked Hux over. The top of his shirt gaped, revealing raw, pink flesh that was still open and seeping. Ben looked at the hair again, and then the eyes, and then gaped. “You were the wolf.”

“Good boy,” Hux said. He reached over and patted Ben on the head. “That’s typically a secret, but anyone with enough of a bleeding heart to keep a dying wild animal company clearly can be a good enough man to keep a secret. Hello, again. I’m a werewolf, and no I wasn’t actually dying, healing just takes a really long time when I’m that injured. I’ll be fully healed by the end of the week as it is.”

“A werewolf.” Ben took another deep drink of his coffee, trying to wake up with the scolding heat from the cup. Ben snorted and dropped his cup on his bedside stand. “You know? I’d say you were messing with me, but a werewolf would definitely explain why the wolves have been going crazy the past week, especially when that’s when you came into town.”

“Keep putting two and two together like that, and I’ll start thinking last night was a fluke of judgement,” Hux said, smiling at the corner of his mouth. He tilted his head and paused. “But even if it isn’t and you are just normally that dumb, at least you’re cute, is how the phrase goes, I believe?”

“Cute?”

“Well, handsome,” Hux said. He shrugged a bit and then pointed at Ben’s biceps. “That was my first thought when I saw you chopping wood.”

“So was the wildlife conservative thing a lie?” Ben asked, trying very hard to keep on topic and not think about how the very good looking werewolf thought he was attractive. “Or what?”

“No, it’s true, I do work for them. Though I did lie about hearing about complaints.” Hux said. He licked the side of his teeth and shrugged. “I happened recently to decide this territory suited me, and I began challenging all the werewolves around to establish that I’m in charge. I don’t do well with following orders, you see. In addition, I was trying to gage how the human to wolf population got along in this area, in which my job happened to be a good cover.”

Ben ignored the part about Hux doing research on human-wolf relations and jumped straight to the important part of that sentence: “Other werewolves.”

“Yes, miss Phasma, for starters.” Hux sipped his drink. “I believe you’re friends, are you not?”

“I refuse to believe you beat Phasma in a fight,” Ben said, straight out. Phasma used to be a professional mixed martial arts fighter and kept up her training regimen. “Proof or it did not happen.”

“Excuse me?” Hux asked, sounding affronted. He gaped and turned his head. He patted himself on the chest, smearing his pus covered, healing wound on Ben’s shirt. “I’ll have you know that I have yet to lose a fight. Sure that last one with that brute from the northern part of the woods nearly did me in, but as the saying goes: You should have seen the other guy.”

“Phasma is taller than I am and built like a tank, so if she turns into a wolf, there’s no way she’s not three times your size, even as that big wolf.” Ben crossed his arms. “I don’t believe it.”

“Size isn’t everything,” Hux said. He sipped his coffee and smirked. “Ask her if you don’t want to believe me.”

“I will.”

“Good.”

Hux stood and grabbed Ben’s mug. He stood in the bedroom and yawned. “Alright, I’ve done my due diligence and returned you to your home so you didn’t freeze to death outside so I will be taking my leave.”

“Right,” Ben said, wondering how his morning could be going by so quickly. “And you’re going back to Phasma’s camp ground?”

“Yes, that’s where I’m staying for now until I can find a more permanent residence,” Hux said. He tugged on the corner of Ben’s shirt. “I’ll return these washed sometime this week.”

“That’s fine,” Ben said, nodding.

“Oh, and the werewolf thing is a secret,” Hux said. “I’d hate to have to kill you after dragging you back here.”

Ben nodded again. “Right.”

“Wonderful,” Hux said. He held the mugs up and said. “I’ll put these in the sink, and I’ll see you later.” He paused for a moment before laughing. “I suppose we’re neighbors now.”

“Suppose so.”

“Then I will be seeing you around,” Hux said.

He left without another word, and five minutes later Ben heard his door open and shut. He fell back into the bed and covered his face with a pillow.


Ben learned a few very important things over the next few days.

First, for werewolves, their size as a human had no relation to their size in wolf form. Example, Hux got really big when he transformed, where as Phasma, actually got smaller. As it turned out, that big grey dog of hers was actually Phasma when she transformed, and it suddenly made sense why Ben had never seen her and her dog together at the same time.

Second, there were like ten werewolves hiding out in Ben’s town, and Hux had currently “enrolled into his pack” four. The other six were hiding from him, so it was taking longer than expected. In addition, there were eight regular wolf groups hanging around in the woods that often liked to run with the werewolves from time to time.

Third, Hux invited himself over enough that Ben wondered if they were dating and he just wasn’t told about it.

The man had practically moved into Ben’s cabin, between his clothes being stuffed in drawers and a toothbrush appearing on the sink counter. He’d also started cleaning from time to time, and had taken over the guest room. Ben couldn’t find himself complaining about it, either. Ben and never really noticed how lonely it was out there in the woods until he started having regular company in the form of a red-head.

“Your taste in movies is awful,” Hux said, helping himself to a seat on Ben’s couch next to him. It was the third time he’d been over this week, claiming something about getting tired of his pack bickering. Ben was much better company, apparently. Hux picked up the remote and flipped through channels. “Thought you should know.”

“You’re welcome to bring over a movie if you don’t like mine,” Ben said. Hux’s thigh was pressed against his own and it was warm and comfortable. He had noticed more recently, that Hux’s body temperature was slightly higher than the average human’s. It made for a nice heater on these cold winter nights. Ben shamelessly pressed their shoulders together, and Hux snorted. “Probably more useful than complaining.”

“Or you’re too lazy to get better taste.”

“I like having you around, so did you just insult yourself?”

“Very funny,” Hux said. He clicked the television off and turned to Ben, something smiling in his eyes. He grabbed the front of Ben’s shirt and tugged down. “I suppose we’ll just have to do something more entertaining than a movie.”

Ben got his first kiss with Hux after being insulted he had bad taste.

He couldn’t really complain about that either.


“You walking me home?” Ben asked as Hux trotted up next to him in the dark, in his full wolf form. It didn’t matter how many times he’d seen it, but Hux in this form gave him the shivers. It was easy to be brave when he thought the wolf was too busy dying to do anything, but this fully healthy form radiated power. He was also twice Ben’s size and one of his teeth was longer than Ben’s hand. “Thought you were busy tonight.”

Hux licked his jowls, keeping his pace light. The biggest downfall of Hux in his wolf form, is that he couldn’t talk. Which meant Ben often found himself having a lot of one-sided conversations. He had asked once if Hux kept all his cognitive abilities when he turned into a wolf, and got a rather vague answer in return.

“It’s yes and no,” Hux had said. He paused, staring into this cup. “I remember everything in great detail when I turn back into a human, but while I’m a wolf, everything is much more instinct based. I know friends from foes, and basic things, but complex thoughts are a bit outside of my reach. It’s frustrating, but also very freeing in a way when your only concerns are finding food, and making sure no one takes what’s yours.”

Ben did not often see Hux in his wolf form, at least not this close. He’d see him running around with Phasma from time to time, but Hux being this clingy was a bit of a rarity.

Well, that and Ben wasn’t often out this late, either.

His shift at the garage had run long, though, and there was no helping that he didn’t get to leave until well after midnight. If there was any time to run into Hux this way, now was the time.

The walk was pleasant, though. Ben felt invisible standing next to a beast that could rip apart a tree with his teeth if he wanted to. What did he have to fear with Hux nearby, other than possibly Hux himself? Ben occasionally dared to pat Hux on the side, or maybe scratch behind his ear when Hux shoved his face into Ben’s hand.

It was sort of cute, if you ignored the giant fangs and the claws coming from his pawed feet.

“I guess I’ll see you later then,” Ben said when he got to his steps. Hux sat on his haunches, still staring at Ben rather intently. “I mean, you can wait out here for me if you want, but I’m going inside and I know you can’t fit through my door like that.”

Apparently Hux took that as a challenge.

The wolf nudged Ben out of the way, with his snout (nearly throwing him off the porch) and shoved the door open with a paw. He ducked down on his paws as low as he could go, and crawled through, just barely thin enough to squeeze in (though it took some wriggling). Ben gaped, staring as the tail disappeared into the doorway. He winced, covering his eyes as he heard the sound of things crashing.

When Ben finally found the courage to go inside and lock the door behind him, he noticed his couch had been shoved out of the way, the doorframe to his bedroom was cracked, and that Hux had made himself quite comfortable on Ben’s bed.

He took up the entire Queen mattress, save for a small sliver that peeked out from where he curled.

“You must think you’re cute,” Ben said, huffing and walking over. He ruffled Hux’s fur with both hands behind the ears, feeling brave. Hux yipped, wagging his tail. His eyes were laughing, though he mostly looked like a proud dog. “I guess I’ll sleep in your room then.”

He turned away but was stopped when Hux nipped hold of his jacket and tugged hard. Ben tumbled into the bed, smacking into the side of Hux’s fur. The wolf threw a paw over his back and Ben found himself effectively trapped. It was uncomfortable, though and his back was twisted. He shoved at Hux’s side. “I get it! I’m sleeping with you! Let me up so I can change positions.”

Hux barely inched his paw away, but it was enough for Ben to crawl up properly and curl up on Hux’s side. The fur was coarse and wet, smelling like dirt and grass, but it was heavy and warm. Ben fell asleep easier than he expected it would be.


“Sorry about your door,” Hux whispered, though his smile said the exact opposite. He nuzzled into Ben’s shoulder, yawning and very naked. Ben felt self-conscious still wearing most of his clothes and jacket from last night. “It was good of you to humor me.”

“I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a choice in that matter,” Ben said, looking to the side. If he looked at Hux, he was going to look down, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone.

“You know, I didn’t think you’d still be this bashful after all the hints I drop,” Hux said, threading his fingers into Ben’s hair. He tugged, kissing Ben. “Do you need a formal invitation, or what?”

“My dad got smacked a lot for assuming things,” Ben said, breathing. He let Hux manhandle him until Ben was on top of Hux and between his legs. He laughed, pressing his lips together. “Guess I tried to learn from his mistakes.”

“You did too good a job,” Hux said, pushing Ben’s hair behind his ear. He tugged on Ben’s jacket collar and licked his teeth. “I’d appreciate if it we were on a bit more equal grounds for this.”

“I don’t know, maybe I like having sex with my clothes on.” Ben felt a bit braver with Hux’s hips pushing up into his own. The man was making no mistake about what he wanted right now, and the proof was chaffing against his blue jeans. “Did you think about that?”

“I think you’e a bad liar,” Hux said. He reached down, helping himself to the front of Ben’s belt, tugging it open. He went for the shirt next, getting it tangled in the jacket as he attempted to pull it off. “Come on now, cooperate. You have abs and I’d like to see them.”

Ben grunted, trying to sort out the mess Hux had made of his upper clothes. He had to lean up and back, sitting on his knees to pull it all back down, and then take it off one at a time more properly. Hux watched from the pillows, rubbing his hands up and down Ben’s thighs.

“You’re really slow.”

“You’re really impatient.”

“Considering I’ve thought about jumping you since we met, I think I’ve been the epitome of patience, thank you.” Hux said, sitting up. He pushed Ben back a bit, crawling into his lap. Hux kissed Ben hard on the mouth, rolling his hips. “Now be a good boy, and let’s do this properly, shall we?”

“I can do that,” Ben said, grabbing Hux around the waist. He shoved them both back down onto the mattress, moaning into Hux’s mouth. Ben shoved his face into Hux’s neck and breathed in, kissing the skin there. “I sort of hate that I love your hair still smells like fur.”

Hux laughed, tugging Ben closer. He groaned as Ben kept kissing every inch of skin he could find, moving his hand down to be put to better use.


Ben didn’t fear walking at home alone in the woods any longer. He hadn’t seen nor heard a wolf near his property once in the four months he and Hux had been seeing each other. Hux claimed he hadn’t done anything directly, and that they were staying away on instinct but Ben had the slight suspicion the man was lying.

He was too greedy to have not made a threat to stay away at least once.

But Ben let him believe that Ben believed him.

The guest room was now officially Ben’s new bedroom. His old master suite had been turned into the “Wolf room” as it was the only one with a king sized bed, and an already widened doorframe (there was no saving the damage after Hux broke it the first time). Ben had done some furniture rearranging so that Hux could get from the front door to the back bedroom in his wolf form without destroying anything.

He didn’t always stay the night in his wolf form, but it was often enough that Ben was already thinking up ways he could explain it if he ever had actual company.

The page was still blank.

The moon was high in the sky and Ben was sitting on his back porch. Phasma was rolling around playing with a recent addition to Hux’s little First Order pack (“I’m the first person to bring order to this chaotic wood of yours. The name fits.”). Hux himself, was acting as Ben’s couch as he pressed his back into Hux’s fur. He had a book in his hands and a small flashlight to read by, and couldn’t remember a time he was more content.

Hux licked the side of his face, plastering his hair up with the wet slick of his saliva and he frowned, wiping it off. His werewolf wagged his tail and Ben gave up on his book. He shoved it back into his bag and got up. Ben wiped off his pants and huffed. “Fine, we can play, too.”

Hux bumped Ben forward with his head as he leapt up and pushed them both off the porch. Ben started with a jog and laughed as Hux dashed out in front. Wolf Hux loved to play catch. Human Ben loved to taste Human Hux about it in the morning. It would result in arguing, followed by another round of teasing, typically followed by either breakfast or sex, and Ben was looking forward to either already. Hux dragged over the stick (a tree branch, really), and Ben spun around in a circle as fast as he could, flinging the branch as far as it would go.

Hux chased after it like a shot, nearly breaking it in half as he caught it in his jaws.

Ben wasn’t quite sure how this became his life, but he knew he wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Chapter Text

Hux flipped through the loss reports at his desk, clothes still stained with patches of dried blood and entrails. The twenty six alien beasts that had slipped into the Finalizer from a mistakenly left open shuttle bay from a passing asteroid managed to kill over three fourths of his already dwindling staff after the loss of Starkiller base. In addition, the structural damage they had caused to the ship with their claws and absurd strength had torn open over half the ship’s chambers, exposing it to open space and making it impossible to traverse.

The only bright side to this entire ordeal, is that the survivors were shaken, but healthy. Hux had discovered through security footage that anyone who ran into the monsters, did not live to tell about it.

With two exceptions: General Hux and Kylo Ren, of which the first was saved by the second.

Ren’s lightsaber was highly effective against the lithe beasts, and he dispatched of every single one as he located them on the ship with his use of the Force. The one that he had rescued Hux from, was the sixth beast he had killed that night. Hux had personally supervised the destruction of the remaining twenty before he and Ren collected the surviving staff.

“We have located Captain Phasma,” Mitaka said, standing at attention. His uniform was ripped in three places from where he had climbed into a maintenance hatch to escape a monster. Mitaka cleared his throat, and continued. “She managed to kill a monster before Lord Ren began his extermination, however she has suffered a broken leg, and four bruised ribs. It took her this long to drag herself to medical.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Hux said. He set down his datapad and laced his fingers together. “See that everyone is accounted for, and make sure the skeleton crew is running properly before retiring for the night.”

“Sir,” Mitaka said. He nodded and left the room, shoulders tense.

Hux leaned back in his chair, running a hand through his hair. It did not happen often, but he was far too tired to finish his work for the evening. After the past few days, he felt justified slipping away from his desk early and slipping off his uniform jacket. He dumped the soiled garment in the laundry, airing out his tank top as he crossed from his personal office and into his quarters.

He was exhausted and filthy, but more importantly, he felt indulgent.

His lone walk through the dark corridor, cornered by a monster to be saved by one had brought back fond memories of his youth. Perhaps a twisted version of seeing one’s life flash before their eyes in a near-death experience.

Hux went to his personal trunk, and clicked open the top. After lifting out the few personal effects he had stored inside, Hux pressed his hand into the bottom. He pressed his fingers into a few grooves, which read his fingerprints and slid open the latch that covered the secret container in the base. The side popped open, and Hux passed by the folder of old family photos and the small childhood trinkets he’d managed to keep hold of.

His fingers closed around a data disc, and he tugged it out with a soft smile: His secret stash of Horror Holo Films.

Hux popped the disc into the side of the holo monitor in front of his couch before grabbing the remote. He dimmed the lights to five percent and flipped on the monitor. The familiar menu appeared on the screen, titles organized alphabetically. A monster movie felt the most ironic, but a certain sword wielder had Hux longing for a good slasher.

“I didn’t take you for a movie lover.”

Hux jumped off the couch, brandishing his remote like a blaster. Ren smirked at him from the chair in the back corner of the room, head leaned against the wall. His eyes were on the screen, focused on the curser as it blinked over Hux’s selection, ready to play. He smiled, pushing off the chair and wandered over to the couch.

He had shed his outer robes in the corner, wearing only his black tank, suspenders and trousers. Hux spotted his boots in the corner as well. Ren had rather made himself at home in Hux’s bedroom.

“How long have you been in here?” Hux asked, gaping. “I thought you went back to your quarters.”

“My quarters are gone,” Ren said, crossing his arms on the back of the couch. He licked the side of his lips. “The walls were ripped out.”

“Oh,” Hux said. He scowled and kicked off his boots. “You could have let me know you were skulking around back here instead of scaring me.”

“Was I wrong to assume I was welcome here?” Ren asked, moving around the couch. He helped himself to a seat on the cushion, and lifted a hand. He called Hux’s remote to his own hand with the Force and flipped through titles. “The fact we made out in the hallway while monsters were eating your crew seemed like an invitation for later.”

“It is.” Hux sat in the seat next to Ren and grabbed the remote. He flicked the selection back up to his original choice and clicked enter. “After the movie.”

Ren had his head turned toward Hux, studying the side of his face. As the movie started, he turned his attention to the screen. He threw his arm over the back of the couch, fingers playing with the hairs at the base of Hux’s neck.

Hux felt a bit like a teenager on a date, but found himself too tired to be embarrassed. He was already indulging his inner child with a holo film, so why not indulge further? Hux scooted to the side, using Ren’s chest and shoulder as a pillow. The other man grunted, but threw his arm around Hux’s shoulder anyway.

The holo film opened with a dark night, and a man in dark clothes stalked across the screen with a blade in hand. In a few moments, he’d corner the first death of a throw-away character, before the movie switched to the protagonist. It was a rather gory scene, with the killer hidden in shadows the entire time.

“I remember this film,” Ren said, drawing a circle on Hux’s arm. “I wasn’t allowed to watch it.”

“You were six or seven when it came out, weren’t you?” Hux asked, unafraid to chat during the movie. He’d seen it eight or nine times in his youth, and was still familiar. “I imagine you didn’t have much time for movies when you were older.”

“No,” Ren said. “I’m surprised you did.”

“When you only have one form of rebellion, you tend to do it as often as you can get away with it,” Hux admitted. “Considering you’re still acting out your own rather extravagant rebellion, I’d think you would understand.”

Ren snorted, leaning into Hux as the movie continued to play.

Around the climax of the film, when the protagonist escaped from the house, the killer had already gruesomely torn apart two thirds of the cast. The protagonist managed to drive a sharp lawn stake into the man’s chest, blood spurting everywhere, before dashing away. The killer pursued, of course, staining the ground with his blood.

“I’m starting to see why you kissed me after I killed the beast,” Ren said thoughtfully, squeezing Hux’s waist. He’d tugged the man closer throughout the course of the film, arm having long left Hux’s shoulder for his thigh. His hand massaged Hux’s side absently. “These movies excite you. Is it the violence?”

“Maybe at first,” Hux whispered. His eyes were glued to the screen. While it was often the killers that kept his attention (as proven by the one he was snuggled up against), Hux had a soft spot for the films where the protagonist came out victorious. His mouth twitched in a smile when the main character shoved the killer into a fence to stab them with a loose board. “And perhaps still is to some extent.”

“Then what is it that attracts you?” Ren asked, mouth pressed near the side of Hux’s head. His lips trailed the shell of Hux’s ear, teasing him into something further, but the film still had twenty more minutes. “I could always take it from you.”

“It’d be hard to take something I’m not even sure of myself,” Hux said. He played with the line of Ren’s suspender, flicking the buckle. “I am fascinated by the viscera, but perhaps it’s the raw physical power that attracts me. Or maybe it’s their freedom to act on their most basic of instincts without reservation.”

Hux followed the suspender up Ren’s chest and left it to drag his fingers up Ren’s neck to cup the side of his face. He guided their lips close, but did not yet press them together. Hux smiled into them. “Or maybe I just have a weakness for monsters masquerading as men.”

“Lucky for me,” Ren said, pressing their lips together. He turned Hux toward him, lifting the man into his lap. He shoved them both over into the couch cushions, splitting Hux’s legs to make room for him. “And lucky you. I wonder how many children actually get to meet their childhood holo film fantasies in the flesh?”

“Very few,” Hux said, turning his head. He pressed his palm into Ren’s face when the man dipped for another kiss. “There’s fifteen more minutes.”

“You’ve seen it,” Ren said into Hux’s palm.

“You haven’t.”

“I’ve barely been paying attention to the film,” Ren laughed. He tugged Hux’s hand out of of the way and took his kiss anyway. He was heavy, pressing Hux into the couch, mouth eager but slow. “Been too busy amused watching you get turned on by a man killing people.”

“If it makes you feel better,” Hux said between kisses. The protagonist screamed on screen; Hux remembered this was about when he was stabbed. The effects had been particularly good in that one. He kissed Ren back even harder, bucking his hip up. “The real thing is far better.”

“Good to know I needn’t be jealous of film actors,” Ren said. He hugged Hux around the back, hand tugging his shirt out from his belt line. Warm fingers found Hux’s back and he moaned into the next kiss. He stopped after the next one and pouted. “Are you still watching the movie?”

Hux had been, from the corner of his eye.

He bit his lip and patted Ren on the side of the cheek before fully turning his head in time to see the protagonist shout before running and tackling the killer into the final fight that ultimately ended in the killer stabbed in the face with his own weapon. Hux smiled shamelessly. “It’s a good scene.”

Ren buried his face into Hux’s shoulder and laughed.

Chapter Text

They were hiding on Naboo, of all places. Hux tugged his hood further down his face as he left the market of the Gungan infested city, his bag of groceries in tow. He hoped that Ren managed to get everything done that he needed to to get parts for their ship because he wanted to be off this planet as soon as possible.

Even if hiding right under the remains of the New Republic’s nose seemed to be working well for now.

Hux let out a breath, arriving at the cabin a few miles outside of the nearest town. It was in a swampy area, surrounded by unwelcome wildlife, but it had a dry patch out in the back to place their shuttle and the trees around them made for good cover. He pushed into the home, putting his groceries on the table.

“Ren?” he called out, looking around the small shack. He pushed back his hood, and left the main room to check the bedroom. It was empty, and Hux took a step back, pressing his lips together. He hadn’t seen the man outside, so was he in town? “Where could he be?”

A small scratch sounded behind Hux. He turned, seeing nothing until he looked down. A small plump insect, a “Kreetle” if he remembered correctly, skittered across his floor. It’s large pincers opened wide and closed as it moved about. Hux frowned, walking over and smashing it with the heel of his boot.

“Wretched things,” Hux said. It was bad enough watching the Gungan in town eat the things, but they were in his house, too. “Pests.”

He went back to the kitchen, assuming Ren would show up in good time and went about putting together something for supper. The cuisine on this planet had much to be desired, but at least there was enough of a human population that edible goods could be procured if you looked hard enough. Hux pulled out the plate of sliced meats and set them on the counter, before tugging out the loaf of bread.

Sandwiches were easy enough, and Ren wasn’t likely to complain about them.

Hux put away the chilled goods in the fridge (giving off quite the racket as it’s struggling motor tried to function), when he heard the scratching noise again.

He put down the jar of milk and stared at the floor where another one of those kreetles had invaded his kitchen. Hux scowled at it, more than prepared to end the life of another one when the scratching came from another corner. He turned; another kreetle sat behind the table. Hux paused, struggling to remember everything he knew about those pets.

They hate meat, and they tended to move in groups of four or five, and were mostly harmless unless you ran into one of the big ones that were deep in the woods.

“Well, I killed one, so that’s four to go,” Hux said. He wished Ren were around. The man could use the Force to locate the little beasts and eradicate them with a flick of the wrist. Instead, Hux had to hunt them down one by one. He smashed the two he found and listened carefully for the tell of their little claws on his floorboards. “Now where are you?”

Hux went for the living room, finding no more of them in his living room. He glanced at the floors, hoping to find the chubby things quickly so that he could go back to his sandwiches. He heard something skitter to his left, and Hux stomped quickly to the door. He opened the back porch stepping outside. He looked down and spotted the small hole in the wall. “That must be where they’re coming from.”

He stepped closer, when he heard the crack of the wood under his feet.

The floor boards shattered from age and too much weight. They split open beneath Hux and his legs fell through, splashing into the wet marsh under the porch. He turned to pry a board open further to pull his leg out, but it only widened the gap. Hux fell completely under the porch, soaking wet in the muck.

“As if this day couldn’t get any worse,” Hux said to himself, sifting his hand through the mud. He could feel where his pant leg had torn on a board, and he just knew his leg was bleeding. “I’m going to kill Ren for not being home.”

Hux could have made him come out and check for the bugs.

It was around then that he felt the pinch in his leg. Hux jerked his leg and flinched. He rolled over when he felt it again. And another.

A group of four to five kreetles had smelled the blood on his leg, and were picking at the open wound. Silent in the mud, they came forward to pinch before backing off. Hux snarled, kicking his leg to dislodge them. “I’ll kill all of you before this day is done, don’t you worry.”

He felt the pinch at his wrist.

Hux turned and saw a second group going for his hand, sunk in the mud. Before he could move away, he felt the bite at his waist. A third group. The small beetles were a snack for Gungan, and fairly harmless up above, but here in the mud surrounded by them, Hux felt the hint of panic.

They ate meat, didn’t they?

Hux scrambled up, only to slip again. His face hit the mud and he hissed when the bugs continued to attack the open wound on his leg with more ferocity. He reached up, trying to grab the edge of the broken floorboards. He had to tug himself out and get away before they did real damage to what should be a minor wound.

It was when the sixth group joined the others, that Hux had to start being more active in pushing the insects off his person.

He would not die under a porch on Gungan, eaten alive by insects.

He wouldn’t.

“Get off of me!” Hux yelled, grabbing the meaty insects and throwing them aside. Killing them took too long and he just needed them off so he could climb out and get back to the high ground. The mud soaked into his clothes and a red puddle grew around his leg as they ate his flesh. His hand began to bleed where it was grabbed and Hux truly began to panic. “Stop!”

No matter how many he threw off, more seemed to come in waves. There was an infestation of them under his house and every single one of them had sensed his weakness.

Hux felt one on his neck, and slapped it away. He kicked another into the side of the porch support, squashing it in a splat of mud. Two more took its place and Hux could barely see the mud any more in the sea of insects. This was getting him no where, so he screamed. “Ren!”

But there was no answer.

He rolled in the mud, grabbing onto the grass to pull him forward. He couldn’t go up, so he’d try and at least get into more open ground. The small, enclosed space did nothing. Every inch was agony as his entire body felt the pincers digging into his flesh. He had heard being eaten alive was agony, and now he believed it. He felt like there were holes all over him, and he hoped it felt worse than it looked.

Hux had barely made it to the edge when a sharp pain traveled up his entire leg, hard enough that he had to curl into himself screaming.

One of the kreetles had bitten down to his bone.

He yelled into the mud. “Ren!”

And shot up awake in bed.

“Are you okay?” Ren asked, standing in the doorway of the bedroom. He held a bag to his chest with one arm. “I could hear you screaming from the front door.”

Hux yanked the blanket up, checking that his limbs were still in one piece. There were no bite marks, nor wounds. He touched his neck, finding nothing there either. The room was blessedly quiet, save for his and Ren’s breathing.

“Just a nightmare,” Hux said, throwing his face into his hands. “Did you just get back?”

“Yeah,” Ren said. He came into the bedroom, still holding the bag of what Hux assumed was groceries. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look pale.”

“Just startled. It was rather intense,” Hux said. He collapsed back into the pillow on the bed, rubbing the side of his head. He was fine. Nightmares weren’t so unusual, especially after Starkiller base exploded. Hux looked at Ren and waved a hand in his direction. “What did you get in the market?”

“Some snacks,” Ren said. He reached in and pulled out a small bag. “Got those candy you like.”

“Thank you,” Hux said. He caught the back when Ren tossed it at him and smiled. It was nice when the other man was thoughtful. He paused opening the bag when he heard a small skitter. Tensing, he looked at Ren. “Did you hear that?”

“Oh! That would be these,” Ren said. He pulled out a small wooden box full of kreetles. Hux froze, eyes locked on the box. “Someone in town said they tasted better than they looked, even for humans.”

Ren tugged one out of the box and popped it into his mouth, still wriggling. He chewed with a shrug. “They weren’t wrong.”

Hux felt he might be sick.

“Want one?” Ren held the box out.

The sound of scratching under the floorboards increased, and Hux decided he was going to burn the entire shack down and get off this planet tonight.

Chapter Text

Hux straightened his jacket as he left the trailer, keeping his head down. He had no desire to attract the attention of the performers today as he crossed the busy fields of people setting up and hauling luggage about.  When he’d joined on with Snoke’s First Order circus as a manager, he’d expected things to be organized and efficient.

“Order” was in the title of the damn circus.

But what he got was a convoluted mess of characters and performers who barely understood that shows cost money. Strongman (well, woman) Phasma continued to break her equipment in shows of power, when she could just be lifting things to show off. Mitaka’s life and health insurance would drop dramatically if he would actually use the extra safety nets in his high flying performances (the man was just asking to be choked when he caught himself on one of those darned wires). Hux did not even want to start on that knife thrower Finn who’d left for another circus because of “poor working conditions.” Or that Clown Rodion who just could not get his act together with Harlequin Thanisson.

He tugged a cigarette out of his coat pocket and tucked it in his mouth. He finally understood the phrase “It’s like running a circus” when things were uncontrollable and out of hand.

Hux blew a puff of smoke and kept trailing across the grounds. At the back end was a large yard with high fences and a metal netting across the top of it to keep it enclosed. He could see two of their large cats lazying about in the grass, yawning wide and asleep. Hux stopped at the fence’s edge, frowning at them. The yard was such a waste of space, but it was needed to keep the animal welfare people off his back. Their animal shows were by far the biggest draw.

He supposed it only made sense that the creatures that brought in the most money, also cost the most to maintain.

Hux put his cigarette out in his portable ash tray and shoved it all back into his coat before entering the tent set up next to the yard. At least there was one perk that came with those animals: Their tamer.

Ben “Kylo Ren” Solo, the son of the Ringmaster of their biggest competitor, the New Republic Circus. Hux didn’t really care how Snoke pulled that off, but it was worth it every time to see that woman’s frowning face whenever she snuck into shows to see her boy perform. Sure, every once in a while Hux could tell the man regretted his decision to join the First Order, but he had a contract that was still good for three more years. Ren wasn’t going anywhere.

All the better for Hux, who’d gotten rather fond of sleeping with the man.

“If you came to see Millicent, she’s out in the yard,” Ren said, looking over his shoulder. The man’s hair was tied back, and he was in casual clothes. He had a brush in his hand and one of the ponies at his side. “And I’m not interrupting her nap time.”

“No, I’m not here to see the tiger,” Hux huffed, face flushing. He’d said the tiger reminded him of his old cat one time and Ren went and renamed the tiger. Hux couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be sentimental, or if Ren was teasing him. “I came to see you.”

“I’m working,” Ren said, smile tugging at the side of his face. “Isn’t that the thing you’re always yelling at me to do?”

“Details,” Hux said. He walked across the room and patted the pony on the nose. “What more do you have to do?”

“Finish brushing the ponies, check on the cats, and then I’ve got pens to clean,” Ren said. He continued brushing and nodded. “If you’d like to help with any of that, you’re more than welcome.”

“You could always clean the pens tomorrow,” Hux said, sitting on a crate. He put one leg over the other and leaned back. He watched the muscles flex on Ren’s arms as he continued to clean the pony. “I’m sure one missed day won’t hurt.”

Ren snorted. “Or you could wait.”

“Fine, I’ll sit and watch like a stalker,” Hux said. He rested his chin in his hand and sighed. The entire tent smelled of animals, sweat, and straw. It was rather awful, but at least there was something nice to look at. “Anything to avoid our dear leader.”

“Snoke upset about something?” Ren asked. He pulled the pony over to the stables and hooked her in before grabbing the next one. The brushing regimen continued, and it was almost soothing watching him work, even if Hux was jealous those fingers weren’t in his hair instead of the pony’s. “He seemed to be in a good mood last time I saw him.”

“That’s because you’re his favorite and you agreed to do a combined act with the acrobats in your little Knight group,” Hux said. He slumped down in his seat and huffed. “He’s blaming me for the Starkiller debacle.”

Ren stopped brushing and looked over his shoulder. His hair fell out of his face, revealing the long scar that crossed his cheek from the same, miserable event. “Really? But that wasn’t your fault.”

“I know that, and you know that, but I was in charge and therefore, I’m to blame,” Hux said. He rubbed the side of his head. “I need to cut an act to cover the cost of damages, but I don’t know who to pick. You’re all expensive if you ask me.”

“I see,” Ren said. He patted his pony on the back of its rump, sending it back into its stable where it neighed happily. Ren dropped his cleaning brush and crossed the room, long strides even. He stopped at Hux’s side, arms crossed. “As much as you complain about all of us, I’d think your biggest problem would be trying not to get rid of the whole circus.”

“Very cute.”

Ren smiled and leaned forward, placing his arms on the crate to box Hux in-between them. He pressed their noses together. “You like all of us, don’t you?”

“You’d be making a very good argument to be first on the list to go if I wasn’t absolutely positive I was about to get my way,” Hux said, wrapping his arms around Ren’s shoulders. He kissed the man absently, ignoring the smell of horse feed clinging to the side of shirt. “You think the kitties will mind if I keep you busy while you check on them?”

“I think you get off knowing they’re watching,” Ren said, nipping Hux’s lower lips. “Which is both hot and disturbing.”

“Like they pay attention,” Hux said. He kissed Ren harder. “Besides, no one ever goes into the yard, but they can walk in on us in here.”

“Point,” Ren said.

He grabbed Hux around the waist and lifted him easily, muscles near on par with Miss Phasma’s. He was their resident animal tamer, but as a child of the circus, Ren could perform just about any act required. It made him flexible and irreplaceable—to Hux’s relief. Ren kissed his neck as he carried the two of them to the back of the tent, where the cat cages were kept. In through one door, and out through the second had them in the back of the yard.

Millicent the tiger and her lion friend Chewbacca (named after Ren’s adopted uncle as a cruel joke, Hux was informed) glanced up from their naps for a few seconds before dropping their heads back down to sleep. The lazy things paid no attention to Ren as he sat Hux down on the top of an equipment table. A shade covered it from view from the outer grounds, making it the perfect place to hide away.

Ren kissed Hux, still smelling awful, but making up for it with eager hands and an open mouth. Hux took it just as enthusiastically, more than happy to forget about everything else and the choice he’d have to make later.

“I’ll talk to him,” Ren said between kisses.

“What?”

“You’re distracted and thinking about work, so I’m going to fix it,” Ren said. He opened the buckle of Hux’s belt and pulled it open. “I’m the favorite, so I’ll tell him everyone is staying.”

“You think that’ll work?”

“I’ll threaten to quit and take you with me,” Ren said, looking up through dark bangs. He looked entirely too serious and the intensity of it stopped Hux’s heart. “Think that’ll do it?”

If he looked at Snoke the way he looked at Hux just now while making that threat, then it was a resolute, “Absolutely. I don’t think he’ll have any choice but to accept.”

“Good, then stop worrying,” Ren said.

Hux nodded dumbly, and Ren grinned. He stuck his tongue in Hux’s mouth, and pushed up his shirt to feel the skin underneath. Hux moaned into it and hooked a leg around the back of Ren’s thigh to pull him closer. His horrible day was looking much bright—

“Shit!” Hux said, jumping up and grabbing Ren around the shoulders. He looked to the side to see Millicent licking her jowls. Her paw was still on the table from where she’d slammed it next to him. Hux dropped his head onto his arm. “Millie, you can’t do that.”

Ren giggled, rubbing his hand on Hux’s back. He kissed the side of Hux’s cheek, still grinning far too wide. “I think she’s jealous.”

“Of who?” Hux muttered to himself, slowly detangling himself from Ren.

It was one thing to have a little fun when the cats were off in the yard sleeping, but this close and this attentive meant you had to pay attention. However cute they were, and no matter how well they performed, they were still (unfortunately) wild animals.

Ren rubbed behind Millie’s ear, scratching it lightly. She bumped his side with her head before shoving her face over Hux’s thigh. He patted her on the head before Millicent had her fix and jumped down. She rolled on the ground at their feet, clearly determined to be distracting and the center of attention.

“Are you still determined to clean after yard time?” Hux asked, scowling at the cat (who looked far too adorable, he was trying to be angry at her).

“I actually did that before I started brushing the ponies,” Ren said, licking the side of his mouth. “I just wanted to rile you up, honestly, so we can totally go finish what we started as soon as these cats are done eating up all the attention.”

Hux tugged on Ren’s hair, curling a lock of it around his fingers. He smiled despite it all, huffing. “I’m dumping you for the tiger.”

“Good luck with that,” Ren said, not the slightest bit worried.

Chapter Text

Hux covered the lower half of his mouth, nausea building in the pool of his gut. He had to step away from the one-way mirror, but could not look away from the monster in the other room. The twisted thing was chained by the neck and wrists, the links short. Dark hair fell in the man’s face, and his muscles pulsed as blood flowed through the thickened veins. The skin looked stretched, trying to compensate for a body that was too large.

“Is that,” Hux said, swallowing. “Is that Lord Ren?”

“It is,” his head of bioweapon development said, excusing Hux’s slip of title. Stripped of his title, the man was no longer known as a the Master of the Knight’s of Ren, so “Lord” no longer applied to him. Hux wondered if he could still even be called “Ren”, though he had no other name for the man. His scientist continued to smile. “I wanted to tell you earlier that he was gifted to us for experimentation, but the Supreme Leader thought it would be amusing to surprise you. A fitting punishment for a failure, don’t you think?”

Ren breathed heavily and open mouthed, twisting his neck trying to move. The chain held his head a few inches from the ground, and his body contorted trying to get comfortable without lying down. Drool collected at the edges of his mouth, slipping down the side of his chin like a dog. Most disturbingly, his eyes were as red as the First Order seal.

“Our Supreme Leader is quite happy with the results,” the scientist continued. He handed Hux a datapad with bio-stats live on the screen. Ren’s heart was beating faster than normal, struggling with an uneven tempo. “The transformation increases strength by ten fold, though there are a few unfortunate mental side-effects. But for now, as long as we point the subject in the right direction, with this serum, one storm trooper will be worth a hundred on the field. That will more than make up for the numbers we have lost due to his failure at Starkiller base.”

“Yes, he does look formidable,” Hux said. Ren turned his head toward the glass, eyes searching. Supposedly he couldn’t see them, but every so often it felt like the man was looking Hux straight in the eyes. “But was it wise to test it on someone with the Force? What if it goes out of control?”

“Using the Force requires mental prowess,” the the scientist said, shaking his head. “There’s no way for him to access that now with his higher brain functions essentially clicked off. He’s practically brain dead save for a few natural instincts. Kylo Ren is now no more than a dog to do our Supreme Leader’s bidding.”

Hux nodded.

Ren caught his gaze in the glass, teeth sharpened in places. He knocked his cheek on the ground, smearing the drool across his cheek. It foamed. Ren’s hair was longer than it had been, and it fell across his forehead, sweaty and unclean.

The thought was traitorous, but if Hux had known this was the man’s fate, he would have let Kylo Ren die with Starkiller base.

“Would you like a closer look, General?” the scientist asked. Hux realized belatedly he still didn’t know this man’s name. He’d delegated the appointment of replacements for that department to someone else. The scientist continued, “If I recall, you and he had quite the antagonistic relationship. Having him at your feet like this must be a dream come true.”

“That’s quite alright,” Hux said. “I’ve seen all I need to.”

“Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet,” the scientist said. He went to the wall, and opened up a small panel. “If you’re passing on the up-close encounter, than we can skip straight to the demonstration portion of your newest weapon display.”

“Demonstration?”

The man flipped a switch, and Hux stepped closer to the glass despite himself. A loud clang echoed in the room, and the chains moved. They came from the floor, extending their length far enough that Ren could stand. Hux’s head tilted back as he found himself looking up. Ren had always been an inch or two taller, but now he had a good foot and a half on Hux. He wobbled as he stretched, before hunching forward. His back curved, and Hux could see his spine sticking out through the thick muscle.

The man looked like it was agony to exist, everything stretched too far and too thin and too tall.

“And now the fun part.” The scientist jammed his thumb into another button and a door slid open in the back of the room. “I’m sure you won’t mind I borrowed one of your more disposable troops.”

Hux didn’t have time to mention that he did indeed mind when he was too busy staring at the carnage in the other room. He barely had time to blink and Ren was across the room, his large hands wrapped around the poor stormtrooper that had been stationed beyond the door. Ren threw the man into the center of the room with enough force to crack the floor.

He was on the trooper again in a matter of seconds, planting his knee into the trooper’s back. The white armor bent under his weight, and drool spilled on his back as Ren breathed harder with the exertion. His breath came in an almost heavy fog, wet and hoarse. Ren grabbed the trooper’s arm and with a single yank, removed it from the body with a splatter of blood.

Hux dropped both arms by his sides and stared as Ren continued to rip into the body, tearing it apart while the poor man screamed.

“Now imagine that unleashed on an entire platoon of Republic soldiers,” the mad man who had created this monstrosity said. He pressed a hand against the glass, grinning. “They won’t know what to do.”

“Shoot him, I suppose,” Hux said, for lack of anything else to say.

“With the adrenaline and new muscle mass, he could probably take thirty to forty shots before he went down,” the man said. “His ability to feel pain has been dulled, so he might not even notice he’d been shot. He’ll keep fighting until he dies. A perfect weapon.”

Hux was going to be sick. “I’ve seen enough.”

“Of course, sir,” the scientist said. He pressed another button and the chains contracted swiftly, slamming Ren into the floor again. He howled in pain, hands scratching the floor. They slipped in the blood that collected around him. “We’ll clean him up and move onto the next stage of the serum. Supreme Leader Snoke said he wanted this in full production by the next cycle.”

Something he had not told Hux. All the same he nodded. “Yes, yes of course. As the Supreme Leader wishes.”

He walked away from the glass, blocking out the sounds of Ren sobbing in frustration.


Hux wasn’t sure why he was here in the middle of the night cycle. The soft emergency lights were overhead, and he stared through the mirror to the other side. Ren slept, mouth still open and drool puddled under his cheek. His breaths were still labored and painful. Perhaps that was why he was here: To put Ren out of his misery.

“What a waste of a good soldier,” Hux whispered. The room around him was quiet, the scientists asleep and lab beyond him empty. Ren’s fingers twitched, the muscles spasming. They still pulsed. “I bet you don’t appreciate being alive right now either. I’m sure I wouldn’t.”

Ren of course, said nothing in return.

“I wonder what went through the Supreme Leader’s mind, to want this,” Hux said. The Force had been so much more useful. It was elegant, dangerous, and more importantly, useful in a variety of ways. Now Ren was reduced to a one-trick pony that would be shot down after his first mission. Surely not even the New Republic would run away without destroying this new weapon. “Though perhaps it’s a good thing you can’t use the Force like this. Stars help us all if you could.”

Hux turned away from the mirror. He really should put the poor bastard out of his misery, but maybe not tonight. It’d look too suspicious if the man died now after Hux had show such reluctance about it the other day. Hux sighed to himself; he’d follow Ren’s example and go back to bed.

“General.”

Hux stopped dead in the center of the small observation room. He felt a chill down his spine and his heart beat harder. He should walk out the door. Right now. Every thought in his head was screaming it.

“General.”

He turned, stumbling back to the glass. Red eyes were locked on him through hit, very awake. Ren stared right into Hux, twitching on the floor where he was locked down by the chains.

“You can still talk,” Hux breathed. He shook his head. “Oh, that’s.”

He wondered how much of Lord Ren was still in this beast.

“Release me,” Ren said, his voice choked and hoarse. It sounded painful to speak, like every other part of his current existence. There was almost an echo as the syllables struggled past the twitching vocal cords. “General.”

“I can’t do that,” Hux said, shaking his head. He saw it in Ren’s eyes. He knew that look, no matter how the color of the iris had changed. “You’ll kill everyone.”

“Release me.” Ren shifted, smacking his head into the ground. His gaze never left Hux’s eyes. “Now.”

The chains around Ren’s necks tumbled off, the latches opening with loud clacks. Hux turned to the wall, staring hard at this palm that was still pressed into the release mechanism of the chains.

“When did that happen?” He asked himself, half-absently. It was if it had moved there on its own, influenced by an outside—

“Stars help us,” Hux said.

Ren still had access to the Force.

“General.” Hot breath caressed the side of Hux’s face.

He turned, slowly tilting his head up to where Ren stood over him. His hand was braced on he wall, fingers bent. He curled over and with his free hand, held the side of Hux’s face. Ren’s thumb pressed into the corner of Hux’s lip, pressing down. Fingers dug into the back of his neck and Hux’s breath hitched. He didn’t dare move.

Ren let him go and walked past; Hux didn’t move.

Screaming started down the hallway, and Hux fell to his knees. Shaking hands reached for his comm link and he pulled it up to his lips. “Captain Phasma.”

“General?”

“Evacuate the Finalizer.” Hux’s voice shook. It trembled and he swallowed, repeating his command. “That’s an order. Do it now.”

“Sir?”

Hux yelled into his comm, “Now, Captain Phasma!”

The emergency sirens roared to life over Hux’s head, red lights flashing. He prayed everyone could escape before Ren finished with the scientists. There was no amount of blaster fire that could save them now.


Hux himself had not made it to the escape pods.

Lord Ren had blocked his exit when he tried to slip past the leftovers of the scientists, scattered about the room as a mess of viscera and regret. Covered in blood, the smell was awful and burned at the edges of Hux’s nose.

Of all the ways Hux had imagined he would die at Lord Ren’s hands, this hadn’t been on the list.

They stood at a bit of a standstill there in the room, the emergency sirens still blaring over head. Ren flexed his fingers, staring at Hux intently. He would have given anything to know what was going through Lord Ren’s mind at this moment. Would he kill Hux? Or something worse? They were never friends after all.

“Do you want something, Lord Ren?” Hux asked after the waiting became unbearable.

“General,” Ren repeated again. His large hand wrapped around Hux’s hip, not quite large enough to completely encircle it, but it came close. The grip was vice-tight, and Hux feared for a full second that he would be ripped in half at the waist. He could feel the pulse of Ren’s muscles and the man’s breath was hot. Everything about him was overheated and it drew sweat to Hux’s brow. Ren squeezed. “General.”

He was stuck on a loop of words, but the awareness in his eyes said something more was going on. Hux looked at the twitch of his throat and the saliva pooling in his mouth. Hux wondered allowed, “It hurts to talk, doesn’t it?”

Ren couldn’t close his mouth, it looked like, but the lips did twitch into a half-smile.

Hux swallowed and patted Ren’s hand at his waist. It was too tight and he knew the skin beneath was bruising. “Let me go, Ren.”

Hux dropped to the floor, his heel slipping on the slick tile. He hit the ground with a small splash, the blood soaking into his pants. He glared up at the beast of a man and nearly shouted at him, but something in Ren’s eyes told him to snap his mouth shut. Hux scooted back as Ren crouched on his haunches.

Ren crawled forward, pinning Hux to the ground. He cursed his own mouth, because this was infinitely worse than being held too tightly. Drool fell on Hux’s shoulder as the man’s face hovered over his own and Hux resisted the urge to wipe it away. Again, moving didn’t seem to be in his best interest.

Hux closed his eyes when Ren leaned closer. He pressed their foreheads together and it was too hot, and Hux felt like he was being smothered when the man dropped his weight on Hux. He curled around him on the floor, holding Hux like a doll. Ren breathed heavily, his grip was tight. Hux pressed his hand against Ren’s side, and felt the pulse under his flesh. Goosebumps rose on Hux’s own arms at the sensation.

Ren’s nose bumped into Hux’s hair. His voice was hoarse and echoed, scratchy as he asked, “Who did this to me?”

Hux’s finger twitched against his side. The moment of truth: What did Hux fear more? Dying here and now to an angry beast, or later when the Supreme Leader discovered he’d been sold out. Who was the stronger? A Force user in full control of his facilities, or a man half-conscious and driven by instincts. Ren squeezed Hux tightly, growling as he buried his face into Hux’s hair. He could feel the man’s heart pounding against his own, and the anger that came from Ren was palpable. He supposed that answered that.

Hux whispered, “Snoke.”

He felt Ren smile into his hair and sucked in a harsh breath as the grip around him tightened.

Chapter Text

“A little help, please!” Hux yelled, smashing the butt of his shotgun into the slimy tongue wrapped around his ankles. Of all the times to be out of ammo! It dragged him across the dirt, no signs of letting go. He saw the cloud of poisonous fog just ahead and smacked the fleshy bit harder. “Now would be nice!”

“A little busy!” Phasma said, pumping rounds into the Hunter that had tackled the screaming Mitaka. “Ren!”

“On it!” Ren said. He grabbed his katana off his back and made a mad swing for the tongue. It only took one hit, thanks to Ren’s muscle, to cut completely through, freeing Hux. The Smoker screamed from its hiding place and Ren grabbed Hux by the arm to pull him up. “You okay?”

“Nothing a safe house wouldn’t cure,” Hux said. Phasma helped Mitaka up to their left, kicking the dead Hunter for good measure. Hux shouldered his gun and wiped the mud from his cheek. “Do you have a spare melee? I’m out of ammo.”

“Take mine,” Ren said, passing over his two boxes of shotgun rounds. He swung his sword to knock off the bigger chunks of flesh. “It’s not like I’m using it.”

Hux reloaded, shoving the rest in his bag. Ren might not be using it now, but he still had a shotgun on his back that he might want ammo for later. Hux readied his weapon. “Appreciated.”

Mitaka checked on his own gun, the small pistol in desperate need of replacement for something better. Phasma reloaded her rifle, and kept watch of the clearing. She clicked her tongue. “I think we’re clear.”

“Then let’s find a safe house,” Mitaka said. “Before a hoard shows up.”

“Agreed.”

Ren took the lead as they continued their march through the small city area. Mitaka and Hux followed, with Phasma taking up the rear. It was a familiar formation that put their heavy hitters front and back should anything approach, with two people in the center case they were flanked. It didn’t always work when they were split up due to hoards, but it worked for now.

“Do you hear that?” Ren asked, stopping. They were near an alley and he tightened his grip on his sword.

“No,” Hux said. He glanced around scanning the area. He pointed down the street. “But I see a good safe house at the end of this row. Perhaps we should get there.”

“Sounds like crying,” Ren said, ignoring the safe house mention. “Are you sure you can’t hear it?”

“I can’t hear it,” Hux said. He tugged on Ren’s arm. “But there is a safe house right there that we should be heading for.”

“Phasma? Mitaka?” Ren said, turning his head. He took a step toward the very dangerous alley. “Can you hear it?”

“No, but Hux is right,” Phasma said. She walked past the two of them, the quiet Mitaka in tow. “Safe house takes priority.”

“But what if it’s someone in trouble?” Ren asked. “They could need help.”

“Then that’s their business,” Hux said. He grabbed Ren’s arm and tugged. “And none of ours. Let’s go.”

“You go to the safe house,” Ren said. He headed into the alley, like an idiot. “I’m going to check and make sure.”

“You heard him,” Phasma said. She snorted and kept walking down the lane. “If he wants to get himself killed checking on nothing alone, that’s his issue. I’m going to the safe house and reload.”

“I hate to agree, but um, yeah,” Mitaka said, rubbing his bruised neck. He never did get over that fight he had with Ren that left him near strangled last week. “I’m going with her.”

“But,” Hux said. He watched them walk off and looked in the alley. Ren was slowly disappearing into the darkness and farther away. Phasma and Mitaka were near to the safe house door and Hux hadn’t moved yet. He closed his eyes and counted to ten before darting after Ren into the alley. “I’m going to kill him.”

It wasn’t until he was halfway down the alley that he heard the crying. It was a long wail, heartbreaking if you had such a thing. No wonder Ren had come running with that bleeding heart of his. Hux slowed his pace until he caught sight of Ren standing near a person rocking back and forth on the ground. Her skin was pale as snow, and her hair was down to the back of her neck.

She gave Hux the shivers.

Ren spoke softly. “Are you alright, miss?”

The woman stilled, all sound stopping. She turned around, eyes glowing bright red and fingers sharpened into long claws. The woman growled and Ren immediately noticed his mistake.

Hux didn’t dare make a sound, but he raised his shotgun as slowly as he dared. Gaining sense, Ren stepped back slowly with his hand in the air. The witch continued to growl, eyes on Ren, but he kept moving back one step at a time. The witch watched him like a hawk, teeth bared and long fingers twitching. By the time Ren reached Hux’s side, the witch decided they weren’t worth her time and went back to her sobbing.

Ren tugged on the edge of Hux’s sleeve and they continued their crawl out of the alley, listening to the witch’s cries.

“If you ever do that again, a witch will be the least of your worries,” Hux said, smacking Ren on the back of the neck the second they were out of earshot of the witch. Ren flinched, but said nothing. The man stared at the ground but followed when Hux jogged down the street, unable to wait until they got to the safe house. “I don’t care how much someone is crying.”

“I understand,” Ren said. He kept his face down, but he kept looking over his shoulder toward the alley. His sword tapped at his side. “I feel sort of bad for her, though.”

“Stop it.”

“All alone with nothing else to do but cry,” Ren said. “At least the other infected seem to be active. She’s just depressing.”

“Stop feeling sorry for the infected that could have ripped you apart,” Hux said. He banged his fist on the safe house door, waiting for Phasma or Mitaka to open it. “Concentrate on yourself.”

“Still, that could have been us if things turned out differently,” Ren said. “I can’t help but feel pity for them.”

Hux rolled his eyes and grabbed the front of Ren’s shirt. He pulled him down into a kiss, and then patted his cheek with is palm. “Save it for after we survive this.”

“Okay,” Ren said.

The door opened a few seconds later, with Phasma and Mitaka and their guns up. They lowered them when they confirmed it was Hux and Ren, letting them in a second later. Hux was tempted to kick Phasma and Mitaka for leaving them, but he would have done the same if Phasma or Mitaka had run into the alley.

Ren was his exception, for better or for worse.

 

Chapter Text

“I’m starting to think that you’re not listening at all, which is a shame.”

The mask of Darth Vader sat there in the tray of ashes, one of the few links left in this world to one of the most powerful Force Users in history. Quiet and unassuming. But a link all the same.

“Because if you were, one would think you would answer. I can’t imagine that someone like you would not have left a Force Ghost.

“Or have nothing to say to the next generation, or the one right after in this case.

“I have read up on on how to do this,” a pause, “there is a surprising amount of recent texts on the subject of talking and summoning Force Ghosts.

“So if I’m failing in some way, it would be appreciated if you came to instruct.

“Though if I’m failing, that’s not likely is it?”

The mask continued to sit; like a dead thing.

“One conversation isn’t asking too much is it? I need advice and you are the only one who really understands or could be of any help. The Supreme Leader is,” another pause, “not a good option for what I need to discuss.”

More silence filled the room.

“What sort of grandfather are you, anyway? Your grandson needs you, and you refuse to talk! Should not family take first priority?

“You are needed more than ever and I know that you became a ghost. I have heard the stories about how you’ve spoken to Skywalker. You spoke to him, so why not appear now?”

The mask continued its stoney silence.

“It’s me, isn’t it? I’m not worthy, am I? Is that how it works?”

The quiet was oppressive; creating a heavy atmosphere that was too much to bear.

“Answer me! I need you!”

Nothing.

“He needs you!” Hux shouted, kicking the stand of ashes over. The helmet tumbled to the floor of Ren’s quarters, rolling until it came to a stop against the wall. Hux fell to his knees, dropping his head forward. He nearly bowed to the stupid thing. Hux leaned forward, dropping his hands into the ashes, the soot coating his gloves. “Please, Ren needs you. Snoke is going to break him and I don’t know who else to ask.”

There was no reply.

Chapter Text

Hux possessed Kylo Ren.

Literally, and that was a fact the ex-General had a difficult time wrapping his mind around. The man breathed slowly, unconscious and covered in bacta patches slapped across him the best Hux was able in the short notice. Hux hadn’t seen being the sole caretaker of this injured creature coming.

And he certainly hadn’t foreseen this  would be the end result when he had dragged Ren onto the shuttle and off the imploding Starkiller base. Hux was to drop the man off with the Supreme Leader and be rid of him. But he also hadn’t seen the return of Luke Skywalker with a new apprentice (the girl responsible for the cut across Ren’s face?). He hadn’t foreseen the fall of the Supreme Leader or the rise of the New-New Republic and their Resistance hitting the Order when it was weak.

Hux couldn’t believe his luck that his small shuttle had been overlooked, and that he was now floating in space with nothing in his possession but the clothes on his back and an unconscious Force user.

“Now what am I to do with you?” Hux said, checking the sedative line that kept the man asleep. He had considered waking Ren up, but looked around his small shuttle and weighed the pros and cons of an upset Ren in such a small space. The cons won and the man stayed unconscious. “Because you’re dead weight right now.”

Ren didn’t answer of course, lips slightly parted as he breathed. Hux had no idea where his mask was, but he supposed the splotches of bacta on his cheek and neck did well to cover a bit of it. It still didn’t help that Hux was stuck staring at a face that did not fit the sarcastic, angry man that terrorized his ship on a daily basis before everything went to ruin.

Hux turned Ren’s face to the side by the cheek, dropping bits of his hair in his eyes. At least he was nice to look at, and far more behaved this way. Hux drew his finger up the edge of the bacta patch, tracing where he knew the healing scar to be. He had nowhere to return Ren to, and no desire to go out of his way to find one.

“I guess you’re mine now.” Hux let go of Ren’s face and pressed his palm on the man’s chest. He felt the steady heartbeat beneath the thin bed sheet. “But what shall I do with you?”

Hux couldn’t keep him unconscious forever, not without killing him any way. His supply of sedative would be out by the time their shuttle reached its destination, a small smuggler planet that didn’t ask questions. Ren would have to be awake or dead by that point, and Hux found himself disliking either option.

He had no desire to deal with the emotional wreck that he was sure to meet when Ren awoke. To the best of Hux’s knowledge, Ren had never lost a fight before. Ever. There was a reason he struck fear in the hearts and minds of near everyone in the galaxy, famous as a Jedi Killer with his Knights (and Hux had no idea what happened to that lot). There would be repercussions for this.

If Ren had even half the emotional outburst that Hux did the first time he lost something, the entire shuttle would be ripped to shreds.

Killing Ren was even less desirable.

That would be a flat out waste of a resource and expended energy. Hux didn’t risk his life, his time, and his efforts to keep this man alive just to kill him later after wasting all that bacta.

“You should be grateful,” Hux said, pressing harder into the man’s chest. He leaned onto the bed, near Ren’s ear. Maybe Ren could hear him, using that Force of his while unconscious. It was worth a try. “I saved your life, so you should remember that when you wake up.”

Ah, so Hux would be waking him up. It was nice to have a plan.

“Things will be different,” Hux said. “It’ll be a whole new world and neither of us have any support.”

Ren continued breathing softly, no sign that he heard or acknowledged what Hux was saying. But even then, something itched at the back of Hux’s mind.

“Fine,” Hux said. He took his hand back and crossed his arms. “I’ll have nothing going for me. You’ll still have the Force, I get it.”

He dropped his head back and stretched his legs out. He looked at the unconscious man and mentally counted down the remaining time they had left before planetfall. At that point, Hux would find out his future depending on Kylo Ren’s whims when he woke up.

But until then, Hux was the one in charge and Kylo Ren was in his possession.

It was a small comfort, Hux thought to himself as he brushed Ren’s hair back behind his ear, but a comfort all the same.

Chapter Text

Hux stood over the creature, white wings a mess as they spread out in the snow. Dark hair framed the bleeding face, slashed from the shoulder up to across the bridge of the poor beast’s nose. For a time, Hux hadn’t been aware that they could bleed. But after years of watching them battle, he found that angels and demons shed more blood than all of humanity combined. He squatted, looking down over the man’s face and his half-lidded eyes. From a distance, Hux had thought this was an angel, defeated after some battle with a demon.

Red irises surrounded by black told that it was the opposite.

“Most of your kind change the color of those, don’t they?” Hux asked, waving at the wings. They were as white as the snow around them, speckled with touches of brown like a barn owl. His armor was silver, similar to many other angels, but not uncommon on demons. “I’ve seen red, black, and even a dark blue, but never one who left them white.”

He’d been “blessed” with the ability to see these supernatural beings at a young age. They were everywhere, constantly at war and fighting. But they did ignore humans for the most part, so if Hux didn’t draw attention to himself, they let him be. Hux did occasionally see a demon whisper in the ear of someone if they were on the cusp of deciding to do right or wrong, a tiny nudge in the direction they wanted, but nothing more. They were often far too busy distracting and fighting the angels who wished to do good.

But just this once, Hux couldn’t help himself; he’d never seen a demon looking so broken before, even after a loss most of them were angry and screaming. Not, not this hopelessness. The urge to talk to this demon had overcome Hux with the same ferocity most children felt when they wanted to poke a dead thing with a stick.

“Can you hear me?” Hux asked.

The demon’s eyes blinked and moved to focus on Hux. He stared for some time, before looking back at the sky. “They won’t change.”

“Oh?”

“I have tried to change their color, and they refuse,” the demon answered. A slow blink and a watery breath followed. “That’s all there is to it.”

“Interesting,” Hux said, and he meant that. He once saw a gossiping couple of demons changing their colors at will, deciding if red, black, or a mixture of the two was more intimidating or lovely. He had no idea there could be limitations on the ability to do that. He crossed his arms over his knees. “Are you new, then? Just haven’t learned yet.”

The demon laughed, a choked sound. Blood dribbled down the side of his cheek, showing off the cause. He tilted his head to the side. “No, I’m very old. They just won’t change.”

The snow fell softly around them, and Hux took in his sad smile and his heavy breathing. “Are you just going to stay out here all night in the snow?”

“Maybe,” the demon answered. “It’s not as if I could go much farther, injured as I am.”

“Worse than that scar on your face?”

“The gaping hole in my side is more of the cause,” the demon said. Hux turned his head to the man’s waist, and nodded. He hadn’t noticed the rather large puddle of red staining the snow. Hux had been too distracted with the white wings and the sad face. The demon closed his eyes. “Healing takes time.”

“That’s right, you lot can’t die, can you?” Hux said, putting his cheek in his hand. He’d seen that, too. A particularly nasty battle that left the demon in multiple parts spread over his lawn. Through the course of a week, he watched those bits and pieces reassemble themselves until the beast got up and flew off. “Must be annoying.”

“You must watch us quite often,” the demon said. His eyes were open again, locked with Hux’s gaze. “What an interesting hobby.”

“It’s hard to ignore you all,” Hux said, his breath picking up. This demon would heal, and then what? He mustn’t forget it was a supernatural being, with immense power at his feet. No matter what it looked like now. “You’re everywhere.”

“Have you ever talked to us before?” the demon asked, spilling more blood down his cheek.

“No,” Hux said. “This is a first for me.”

“Something we have in common,” the demon said. “It seems ‘firsts’ are the theme of the hour. My first conversation with a human following my first loss.”

“First loss?”

“I have never lost before tonight,” the demon said. “I must admit I feel a bit numb.”

“That could be the snow,” Hux said. He wanted to brush the demon’s hair out of his face. The loose strands weren’t meant to look so matted and stuck together, he was sure. “It’s quite cold.”

“Then perhaps you could take me somewhere warmer,” the demon said.

Hux did.


The demon’s name was Kylo Ren.

Hux sipped from his cup of tea while the man sat at his kitchen table, bleeding on Hux’s floor. It puddled, but Hux knew that no one could see it there but him. When the demon left, his blood would go with him. It was mesmerizing, watching it evaporate when the source of its existence left Hux’s view.

His wings hung squished on the back of the chair, and he let his head rest on the back of the chair. The demon looked content enough, sitting in Hux’s small kitchen while he bled out on the floor.

“Your opponent must have been quite the character if you were as undefeated as you said,” Hux said, humming into his tea.

“She was,” Ren said. He leaned forward, crossing his arms on the table. He spoke evenly and with calm Hux would not have been able to have if his face and side had been split open. “She won’t win next time.”

Hux nodded, returning to his tea.

“You’re very calm,” Ren said, pulling over his own cup. His tea had long gone cold, but he drank from the glass.

“I’m desensitized, I believe,” Hux admitted. “The first time I saw one of your kind, he frightened me, but walked by as if he hadn’t seen me. When that became habit, I suppose I stopped seeing you as a direct threat.”

“Don’t provoke, no worries,” Ren repeated. He smiled a fraction, putting his cup gently on the table. “I see. So what madness brought you to provoke me this evening?”

Saying “You seduced me by looking like a broken bird” would get Hux killed, he would wager. So instead he settled on a neutral, “I’m not sure.”

“I wouldn’t kill you for that,” the demon said, leaning back. The trickle of blood at his side had stopped, scabbing over under the ripped fabric. “Though I do appreciate the imagery of being seductive.”

“You can read minds,” Hux said, putting his cup down.

“Of course I can,” Ren said. He stood from the table, taking a few steps over to lean on Hux’s chair. He loomed, his wings shadowing Hux from the light of his kitchen. “I can see your soul, too. Humans are transparent little things, stuck in this single plane. You may see demons and angels, but you see very little of our world.”

Hux nodded, hyper aware of how close this being was to touching him.

In all of his years, he had neither seen angel nor demon touch a human being. They got close, and they whispered, but there was no direct contact. He wondered why that was, and occasionally played with the idea of touching one to see the consequences, but thought better of it.

Some things you just did not risk.

“Smart,” Ren said, cracking his neck. The scar along his face had turned a soft pink, slowly disappearing into his skin. He held his hand up, the skin wrapped in dark gloves. Hux felt a near electric pulse hovering just beyond it. “Touching an angel would have definitely killed you.”

Hux felt the temptation to lean away from the hand too close to his cheek. He could feel the heat of it from here. “And a demon?”

Ren pressed the tips of his fingers into Hux’s cheek and he sucked in a breath at the burning sensation, though nothing seemed harmed aside from his rapidly increasing heart rate. Cupping the side of Hux’s face, Ren leaned near his ear and whispered, “We’re a different story.”

 

Chapter Text

“Aren’t you too old to be trick or treating?” Hux asked, leaning against the doorway. He held the bowl of candy against his hip, sighing at the neighbor boy from the Solo household down the street. “Don’t you have some high school party to be at or something?”

“Don’t you have some college party to be at?” Ben said right back, pushing his plague doctor mask up. His dark hair fell around his face, and he pouted. “And how’d you recognize me?”

“You’re like six feet tall,” Hux said. “Your growth spurt last year was pretty kind.”

“Kids can be six feet.”

Hux sighed, reaching back and putting the candy bowl back on the small stand by the door. He crossed his arms and looked up the inch it took to look in that boy’s eyes (it was incredibly unfair that a sixteen year old was taller than him). “Do your parents know you’re out here trying to weasel candy away from children?”

Ben rolled his eyes. “I’m not weaseling away candy. I’m trick or treating, fair and square.”

“The cut off age for this is twelve.”

“Thus the mask.”

“You dodged the meat of the question,” Hux said. “Do your parents know you’re out here?”

“They know I’m out,” Ben said. He looked at Hux’s potted plant on the side of his doorway. “Pretty sure they think I’m vandalizing something with my friends though.”

“Come on,” Hux said, standing back and waving into his house. “You can help me pass out candy.”

“If you don’t want to give me anything, that’s fine,” Ben said. “I can just go onto the next house.”

“Has anyone on the street been fooled by that costume, Ben?” Hux asked.

Ben flipped his small pumpkin bucket upside down. “No.”

“Come on, I’ll get you something better than candy.”

“I think you might get arrested for that.”

“Do you want to come in and get some food or not?”

Ben snorted and helped himself to a piece of candy from the bowl as he passed Hux. He already knew the layout of Hux’s home from his hours of community service helping clean the house during the summer. He still wasn’t sure how Ben convinced his parol officer that helping a perfectly healthy twenty year old clean his house counted as community service, but he had. The boy could be charismatic when he put his mind to it, which is probably why he was always in such trouble (or talked Hux into letting him clean in the first place).

“I have pumpkin pie and cider if it’ll keep you from stealing the other children’s candy,” Hux said, walking by the back of the couch.

“Have you had any other kids come around?” Ben asked, picking up the remote to the television. He tugged off his plague mask and sat it on the couch, clinking against one of the florence flasks he’d tied to the belt on his waist. “I bet I was the first person to knock on your door.”

“Yes,” Hux said. He handed Ben a slice of pie on a plate with a glass of cider, sighing. “You were my first Trick or Treater.”

Hux joined Ben on the couch, looking at the zombie movie the teenager had chosen. He dug into the piece of pie, and watched the screen. “So why aren’t you hanging out with that little gang of followers of yours?”

“They wanted to break shit,” Ben said, stabbing his piece of pie. “Smash pumpkins and wreck lawns.”

“Wasn’t that your usual fair?” Hux asked. He crossed his legs at the ankles and leaned back into the couch. “I could have sworn you went to Juvie for breaking windows.”

“But not on Halloween,” Ben said. He pointed his fork at Hux and growled. “It’s my favorite Holiday. I’m not going to ruin it for the little kids by causing trouble.”

Hux picked up Ben’s mask and turned it over in his hands. It was hand made, and he could tell the effort the teenager put into his costume. It was a shame he wasn’t at a party or something to show it off. He would have won any costume competition they had by a mile. “Don’t they follow your ever beck and call? Why not tell them to stop?”

“Because I was outvoted,” Ben said.

“Sounds like you should stop hanging out with them then,” Hux said. He picked up the remote and clicked the channel off of the zombie movie. Hux kept browsing until he stopped on a vampire flick; much more classic. “That sort of gang is only fun when you’re in charge.”

Ben snorted around a piece of pie. “Like you would know.”

“It’s common sense.”

“You know why I’m all alone on Halloween,” Ben said, glancing to the side. “What’s your excuse?”

“I have no friends and smother my loneliness by passing out candy to children.”

Ben stared at Hux before looking pointedly at the mantle where a few pictures sat in plain view.

“Mitaka is on a date with Thanisson and Phasma went to a nightclub I wouldn’t be caught dead in,” Hux admitted.

“Looks like we were both abandoned by our regular choice of company this fine Halloween night,” Ben said, licking the side of his upper lip to get a piece of whipped cream. “Lucky us.”

“Definitely feels more like a trick than a treat, that’s for sure,” Hux said. Ben put his empty plate on the coffee table. “But it’s not so bad.”

“What were you planning to do if I hadn’t shown up?” Ben asked, leaning to the side. “Sit here alone?”

“That about sums up most of my evenings, why should Halloween be much different?”

“You need more friends.”

“So do you.”

“Maybe we should be friends,” Ben said, opening the candy wrapper. He pulled out the chocolate bar and snapped it in half, handing one part to Hux. “Can’t hurt to have a back up.”

“Not sure your parents would like that,” Hux said, taking the chocolate. “They don’t like me very much.”

“Because you’re the president of the home owners’ association and wrote them up for their Christmas decorations last year.”

“They were far, far beyond what the association permits and I let them off the hook easy by just demanding their removal.”

“You broke my dad’s heart after he spent all that time putting up lights.”

“My heart bleeds for him.”

Ben laughed, falling against Hux’s shoulder as he giggled. “You’re evil, Hux.”

Hux finished off the piece of candy, licking the melted bits from his fingers. “Fitting for Halloween, don’t you think?”

“We should go trick or treating,” Ben said. He hopped off the couch and grabbed his mask and bucket. “They’ll be more likely to believe I’m a kid if I’ve got a guardian to vouch for me. We can drive to another neighborhood.”

“You want me to take you trick or treating.”

“Yes.”

Hux rolled his eyes back and got off the couch. He grabbed his keys from the hook on the wall and wrote a quick “Take One” note to slap on the side of his candy dish. “Why the hell not?”

“That’s the spirit!” Ben said, tapping out the door, as he dropped his mask over his face. His voice muffled behind it. “Let’s move it, old man.”

“You call me that again and I’m dumping you off the bridge over the river.”

“But then who’d clean your house on the weekends?”

“I’m sure I can find someone else,” Hux said, locking his door behind him. He put the candy on the ground and shook his keys as he unlocked the car. “Needless to say, if your parents ask I was never here.”

“Same.”

“Glad we can agree.”

Hux pulled out of the driveway, an energetic Ben next to him. He supposed there were worse ways he could spend his Halloween.

Chapter Text

Hux sipped at his glass of wine and prayed the evening would end soon. He loved The Order above all and would do everything in his power to make sure it succeeded in ruling the universe, but that didn’t mean he had to be happy about every task. Participating in a costume ball as a representative of the military was one of such things Hux felt he was perfectly justifying in loathing, and spending his night wishing it would end.

A necessary evil, is what it was.

As much as he would love for every planet in their Order to give over their complete and utter subjugation willingly, that was not often the case. Many of them had to be appeased, though they worded it “Reminded that the First Order has our best interests in mind.” Therefore, social gathers of the many leaders to discuss issues and politics happened, even if at the end of the day they had little choice in the matter because the Supreme Leader’s word was law, end of discussion.

“If they think they have a say, they’re more likely to cooperate,” Lord Snoke had said, when he informed Hux he’d be attending the party. “Keep the people happy, and they’ll do what you want with less trouble. Your assignment is to be seen, play nice, and listen for any trouble that might show up down the way. Nothing can get in our way when Starkiller base makes its debut.”

“Of course, Supreme Leader,” Hux had said. He grimaced and tilted his head. “But a costume party? Surely a more formal event would be better for this.”

“People who are having fun are happy, and therefore they talk,” The Supreme Leader said. “You’ll see. Now are you finished questioning my orders, or are you going to prepare for the event next month?”

“I would never,” Hux said, back straight. “I merely sought clarification. Your will shall be done at once.”

Unfortunately, in dreading the event, Hux had forgotten to plan accordingly and found himself a week to the party without a costume and no idea what to wear. He had let it slip around his Lieutenant and the man had perked up like a light.

“I can handle that for you, Sir,” Mitaka had said. “I know an easy costume that I can get the parts for within that time frame. It’ll suit you, I think.”

“And what costume is that?” Hux had asked.

“The character’s name is Star-Lord, and he’s from a popular Holo Film series. Since you’re the Starkiller, it’s fitting you could dress as a character named the Star Lord, yes?”

Hux thought it over and nodded. “It’s as good as it’s going to get. Have it ready by the morning of.”

“Sir!”

Hux drank more of his wine, smiling politely at the guests who nodded at him. He should have consulted Mitaka further on his choice of costume. Hux straightened his red jacket, knocking into the mask that hung at his side (he couldn’t do it; wearing the mask made him feel too much like that wretched Knight of Ren). He felt like a fool.

“I look like a smuggler,” Hux had said, putting on the costume before the event. Mitaka had felt the need to assist him, to make sure he got it just right. “I thought you said this man was a Lord?”

“That’s what he calls himself,” Mitaka had said. He nodded, smiling as he spoke of a film series he clearly enjoyed. “His real name is Peter Quill, and he’s a dashing rogue that escaped a life with mercenaries to join together with a team of misfits to save the universe from an evil overlord. He’s quite the hero!”

Hux had stared long and hard at Mitaka. He spoke very slowly, wondering if somehow his Lieutenant missed it: “Is this character based on Han Solo by any chance?”

Mitaka froze, jerking up. The revelation washed over his face and the poor man paled, as if he’d just realized what he’d done. “Oh.”

“The damage is done,” Hux had said. The time for getting a new costume had long passed. “We’ll discuss childhood icons later, but for now I hope no one recognizes who I’m supposed to be.”

He’d left Mitaka shaking and stomped all the way to the shuttle taking him down to the planet’s surface to the party.

Hux, a child of the Empire and head of the Order meant to reestablish everything that they should be, was dressed as a man based off the wretched Rebellion that had taken down his beloved government.

He might actually die from embarrassment if he was recognized, but thankfully, most people took him his costume as merely a smuggler. It still wasn’t quite fitting for a general, but it was better than what it could be.

“Now here’s a surprise,” a man said from Hux’s left. He had dark, playful eyes and wavy hair that covered his ears. He had on a black tank top, and one of his arms was incased in sheets of metal, making it look like a prosthetic. The stranger was muscular and an inch taller than Hux himself. “I wasn’t expecting anyone else to be here dressed as a character from the Marvel movies. They’re not exactly popular with this crowd, let alone someone of a General’s status.”

“And who are you dressed as?” As if tonight couldn’t get any worse. Hux tightened his smile, addressing the stranger, “I must admit, I’m not familiar with the series myself, the costume was a recommendation.”

“It seems that friend might be teasing you if that was his suggestion,” the man said, eyes still far too amused. He grabbed a glass of wine on his metal arm. “But if he was going to that, he might as well have gone the extra step and dressed you as Han Solo.”

“It is unfortunate,” Hux said. “But again, my knowledge is regretfully limited with these matters.”

“That’s fair, it’s a big series after all,” the man said. “Mostly popular in the Republic, for obvious reasons.”

“And yet you’re dressed as one of them?” Hux asked.

“They’re good films,” the man laughed. He pushed his dark hair out of his face and passed his drink over to the other hand. He flexed the metal fingers and showed off the craftsmanship of his costume. “Mine’s from a different movie than yours, though. His name is the Winter Soldier. He was a man betrayed by his friends, and joined the other side after nearly dying.”

“Ah, so you’ve dressed as a villain.”

“Depends on how you look at it.”

They drank together in silence for a few moments, and Hux found himself curious as the man far too amused by Hux’s choice in costume, and too familiar with Republic media. He supposed now was as good a time as any to do some investigating.

“I believe you have me at a disadvantage,” Hux said. “You know who I am, but I’ve yet to get your name.”

“It’s not important,” the stranger said. He finished off his glass of wine and put it on a passing tray. “I’m here as a plus-one anyway, so there’s not much I have to offer or that you’d be interested in, assuming you’re here to gather information about your lovely citizens.”

“You’re rather well informed for ‘just a plus-one’, aren’t you?”

“It never hurts to be well informed,” he said. He looked out over the party and sipped wine. “Though there isn’t much interesting to be found here from anyone, aside from drunken ramblings.”

“I have noticed,” Hux said, cursing himself for even admitting that much. He tucked his hand in his pocket, pushing the long coat out of the way. “But the night just started.”

“You sound so enthused,” the Soldier (Hux had to call him something, so why not his costume?) said. He crossed his arms, still watching the room. He narrowed his eyes once or twice on an individual, like he was studying them, before moving on. After about ten minutes he dropped his arms and stretched them over his head, flexing the muscles (it was rather distracting). The man looked at Hux, smiling crookedly. “Want to get out of here?”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re bored, I’m bored, and there’s plenty of time to kill before the evening is out,” Soldier said. He dropped an arm around Hux’s shoulders and leaned in. “There are plenty of ways to keep occupied when you have good company, don’t you think?”

“I’ll have to decline,” Hux said, feeling his heart pick up. This was a temptation he did not need right now, even if he should jump on this chance. Attractive people didn’t often throw themselves at Hux, and it had been a while. He shook his head and cleared his throat. Work. “I have to be present.”

“You have to snoop and I took care of it for you,” Soldier said. “There’s nothing here you need to worry about, and nothing to report.”

“Excuse me?”

“Staying here and spying is a waste of time and no one really wants to be interrogated by a General,” Soldier said. He whispered in Hux’s ear and smiled. “So we can disappear and no one will care.”

This was moving far too fast. How dare this man be so familiar? Perhaps he was drunk. Hux looked at his own empty glass and frowned. Maybe he was drunk. Hux turned his head. “I thought you said you came as a Plus-One? Won’t your date mind?”

“I don’t think he will,” Soldier said, smiling brightly. He squeezed Hux’s shoulder, leaning on him and into the thick leather jacket. “Because he’s right here, dressed as my childhood hero and looking far too attractive for his own good. The coat looks good on you, Hux. Much better than the stuffy First Order Uniform.”

“I didn’t bring a date,” Hux blurted. He barely got the costume together. “What are you talking about?”

“I might as well be,” the Soldier said. He dropped his arm away from Hux and stood straighter. The shape of his shoulders was awfully familiar all of a sudden and Hux’s brain began to slam to a halt. Soldier rolled his head, cracking his neck. “The Supreme Leader ordered me to accompany you and catch anything you might have missed. I had planned on a boring evening, but you’ve surprised me with something pleasant.”

“Lord Re—” Kylo Ren stopped Hux from finishing his declaration with a finger on his mouth, and a sly smile.

“Let’s not say that too loudly, shall we, General?” Ren said. Hux continued staring. So that was the face Lord Ren hid away from everyone on the Finalizer. It would also explain how the man could scan the entire room and get all the important information. Ren dropped his hand and looked out over the room, smile softening into something more contemplative. “Besides, isn’t the fun of a Costume Party the ability to be someone else for a night?”

“I suppose it is,” Hux said.

“So let’s find out what happens when the Winter Soldier takes Star-Lord into a back room and has his villainous way with him,” Ren said, nodding his head toward the back door that led into the guest room portion of the hotel, far from the ballroom. “Or we could just watch the movies so you know who you’re dressed as.”

“First one,” Hux said, nodding to himself. He started toward the door, knowing full well Ren was behind him.

He was dressed as a dashing rogue based on one of the most famous playboys in history, he might as well act like it if that was the game.

Hux turned and pointed, “We don’t speak of this after tonight.”

Ren grinned, sauntering up to Hux’s side. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

Chapter Text

“I’ve got something to say to you,” Hux said, coming into the living room.

Kylo looked up from his book, and sank into his chair when he saw the fiery look on the man’s face. He closed his text and placed it neatly in the center of the coffee table. Studying Snoke’s teachings could wait until after his boyfriend was appeased from whatever had him so upset. Hux stood between Kylo and the coffee table, arms crossed and bit his lip. Kylo waited patiently for him to say whatever was on his chest.

“It’s,” Hux paused. He cleared his throat and stared at the floor, like he was going over rehearsed lines. Kylo recognized the motion from when Hux would practice his speeches for the political rallies he often went to. Hux cleared his throat and pointed at Kylo. “I really like.”

Hux ran a hand through his hair and breathed in. He took a step back, knocking into the table and cursing. Kylo licked the side of his lip as he leaned back into the couch, probably more amused than he should be. “You like?”

“I really like the skillful way that you,” Hux stopped. He breathed in slowly, closing his eyes. Kylo watched him with rapt attention. Hux shook his head, continuing again with a very important word substitution from his original sentence: “No, I love the skillful way that you defeated everyone in that sword fighting competition you had in your cult. You were very impressive.”

“Oh, Hux. That’s sweet of you to say.” Kylo laughed to himself, rubbing his finger under his nose. He’d finally dragged Hux to one of their practice sessions the other day, and if he’d known the man would be impressed to the point of being flustered, he would have carried him there screaming years earlier. “I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ll have to do even better next time if you come watch.”

“We should, you’ll have to let me know when that is,” Hux said. He flushed, and licked his lips. He pressed his hands together and flattened his hair down. “Planning for our future is important. We should plan. Our relationship has always been sort of high maintenance with that cult of yours, but I’ve kept up. You could even said I ran the extra mile, or whatever phrase you want. There can only be more like it in the future and well, we should prepare for that, too. Together, I mean.”

Kylo had never seen Hux this flustered before. He seemed so out of place, and it made Kylo smile, though he did feel a bit concerned. What was wrong? Was Hux upset? Kylo cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. “Are you getting to a point somewhere?”

“Dammit, Ren,” Hux said. He gripped his hands into fists and breathed in and out, his fluster turning to frustration. “I’m trying to tell you something. Stop interrupting!”

“So you have one thing in particular you’d like to say?”

“Yes.”

Kylo leaned forward, holding his breath. “What is it?”

“I love you,” Hux said. He exhaled deeply enough that his body sagged forward. Hux straightened, looking lighter and a small smile worked its way to his face. He sat on the edge of the coffee table. Kylo’s jaw was still on the floor from his declaration as Hux dug through his pockets. Hux licked his lips and shook his head. “Good, bad, or mediocre, it’s love all the same, and I’ve even got a ring to prove that I’m serious.”

“Oh, Hux,” Kylo laughed into his hand. Everything made sense. His panic, the blurted words and his loss of control? Hux was nervous. Kylo wanted to kiss him. “Are you proposing?”

“Yes,” Hux said. He placed the ring on Kylo’s ring finger, or he tried. His palms were sweaty and the poor man dropped the ring. It clattered loudly on their wood floors, spinning until it stopped between them. Hux stared at it like it had betrayed him and he hung his head. “Lord I’m a fool for doing this.”

Hux managed to get the ring up off the floor and onto Kylo’s finger after two tries. Kylo laced their fingers together, holding Hux’s shaking hand. He squeezed it and couldn’t help smiling. Kylo looked at the simple gold band and kissed the back of it, touching the side of Hux’s finger with his lips. He had a better ring than his dad’s wedding ring; and that was amazing. Hux stared at the floor, his cheeks bright.

“It’s a good thing I’m mad for you, or I might have had to reconsider being your boyfriend after that display of coordination,” Kylo said, unable to help teasing. Hux was always so well put together and confident, that this unsure mess was too endearing for him to bear. He leaned forward and kissed Hux. The other man leaned into it, squeezing their laced fingers. “I love you, too. I want to hear you say it again.”

“Dammit, Ren,” Hux said. He dropped his head onto Kylo’s shoulder and huffed. “It was hard enough to say it the first time.”

“But you did,” Kylo said. Hux grunted into his shoulder and Kylo let it slight for the moment. Hux had worked himself into exhaustion, and Kylo was more than happy to let him rest. Kylo grinned at his ring again, thinking again of his mother and father. “At least you got meeting the parents out of the way at Halloween.”

“They’ll be lucky if we invite them to the wedding after that,” Hux said. He flicked Kylo in the chest, likely running over all the times Han interrogated him for what he did for a living or when Uncle Chewbaca tackled him for hugs. And none of that compared to Hux having to deal with Kylo’s mother. No, he was pretty justified in his next line: “I don’t want them there.”

“Oh, Hux,” Kylo said.

“Stop saying my name that way, Ren,” Hux huffed.

“Can’t help it,” Kylo said, also more than happy to let Hux dodge the issue of their families being at the wedding (because they would be there). Kylo hugged Hux. “I’m so happy that we’re engaged, and you’re being so cute.”

“Dammit, Ren.” Hux shoved Kylo and tried to get away. “Don’t make me take it back!”

“You can’t now!” Kylo laughed reached forward, tugging Hux into his lap before the man could make it over the coffee table. He squeezed Hux tightly around the waist, hugging him hard enough he might never let go. “What brought this on?”

“It hit me the other day watching you fight in that stupid cult that I could watch you forever,” Hux said, leaning his head back to look at the ceiling. “So I thought perhaps, I should make it official. We were already practically married as it was, so why not?”

“I can’t argue with that logic,” Kylo said. He kissed the side of Hux’s head and dropped them both back on the couch. He held the ring up in the light over both of their heads and looked at Hux’s hand. “Do you have one, too?”

“I figured you could pick that out later,” Hux said, holding up his own hand. Kylo could already imagine a matching ring there and it made his chest swell with joy. “Or we could wait for formal wedding bands. It’s up to you.”

“Then aside from that, there’s only one more thing we need to do now,” Kylo said.

Hux dropped his hand back on his chest, breathing out. Kylo could feel his heartbeat slowing now that the worst of it had ended. “And what would that be?”

“Go see the man that began all of this,” Kylo said. “We should let him know his matchmaking paid off.”

“I am not going on a car trip with you to see that man,” Hux said. He covered his eyes and dropped his head on Kylo’s shoulder as they laid out on the couch. “Knowing our luck, the car would break down and we’d be stuck at his neighbor’s house or something. Where was his neighbor from again? Romania? I don’t remember, but last time we were there I’m glad we didn’t have to borrow a phone. That house was dreadful.”

Kylo laughed and rubbed Hux’s back. “Fine, we’ll make a phone call from here to let him know the good news.”

“A suitable compromise.”

“I think this is the first time you’ve said you loved me in six years,” Kylo said, leaning his head against Hux’s. “You should say it again.”

“Dammit, Ren,” Hux sighed into his chest. “I love you.”

Kylo kissed him. “I love you, too.”

“Honestly, the things I do for you,” Hux said. He picked up Kylo’s hand and ran his thumb back and forth across the ring there. “I hope you realize what work you are.”

“Then it’s a good thing we have our entire futures ahead of us, isn’t it?” Kylo said.

“I suppose it is,” Hux said. He breathed out and turned on his side, snuggling into Kylo’s chest. “We need to come up with a less embarrassing version of this story to tell your relatives of how I proposed.”

“Not a chance,” Kylo said. “They’re getting every little detail from you blurting out my sword fighting prowess to dropping the rings.”

“Dammit, Ren!”