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Kylo has always been fascinated by the boundaries of the sovereign mind within the Force. As a child that fascination edged mostly toward terror, when he wasn’t using his powers to terrorize others. He was afraid of what he could do and what he might find if he slipped under loose planks or scaled high walls inside other people’s minds. And yet he was always doing it, intentionally or not, and Snoke was always whispering that this penetrating knowledge of the inferior beings around him, taken rather than given, was proof of his greatness.

It’s a habit. His disgraced former master and Ben Solo’s mother would describe it as a bad habit. They were both wrong about so much. Kylo can do real damage to people’s minds if he likes, but lightly looking has always felt more to him like scratching a mental itch. He grazes over most of the people he encounters without lingering: random lifeforms on space stations and outposts he passes through on rare missions from Snoke that involve navigating a crowd, ever-present stormtroopers when he’s stationed aboard the Finalizer, and officers who nearly wet themselves when they’re sent by Hux to report some First Order business. It’s rare that he skims below the surface when indulging his habit of mentally prodding at a person’s thoughts, intentions, or predilections. Most people aren’t interesting enough to hold his attention, the content of their minds just useless noise to him.

Hux is an exception for several reasons. He’s a poor excuse for a rival but the closest thing Kylo has to one at twenty-seven years old, now that he spends most of his time shuttling between intense periods of training with Snoke and a variety of Snoke-assigned tasks for the Order. Most officers of the Order experience intense anxiety when confronted with him and the other Knights. Laughably, Hux thinks he’s above Force users and that he will outmaneuver them eventually, Snoke included. Kylo has considered sharing this information with Snoke, but it would be perceived as an insult to Snoke’s greater understanding of all things through the Force. Snoke is certainly aware of the General’s unspoken lack of respect and will dispose of him when the time is right. Hux is only thirty-two years old, and he commands with surprising restraint for a man of his age, but his arrogance is tied up with ascending to this position at a young age, and it will be his downfall.

Kylo looks forward to it. Hux annoys him.

Some of this annoyance stems from the fact that Hux’s mind is distracting, his thoughts surprising. Hux is demented in several ways that tug at Kylo’s attention whenever they share a meeting room or a lift, or even an audience with Snoke’s hologram.

“Ren!”

Snoke pronounces this with not only anger but with an edge of insult, as if he’s addressing any one of the Knights and not their recently crowned Master. It’s a subtle touch, intended to particularly scald Kylo with disapproval as he yanks his attention from Hux’s underlying thought process and returns it to Snoke. Kylo can’t help but pick up on Hux’s pleasure at this development even as he disconnects.

“Yes, Supreme Leader,” Kylo says, communicating his penance in silence. Snoke responds with a painful hiss of Force-sent recrimination that feels like ants biting at Kylo’s brain stem.

“The harvesting of quintessence is not as simple as collecting an artifact and securing it in a fortress,” Snoke says, still burning into Kylo with corrective, searing energy as he delivers this information more for Hux’s edification than Kylo’s, surely. “It is a process both delicate and brutal,” Snoke says. “You shall oversee the transference of the material yourself.”

“Of course, Supreme Leader.”

“There can be consequences to proximity to such materials. You will need to cleanse yourself after every exposure.”

Hux’s consciousness seems to leap back onto the top of Kylo’s head at the mention of Kylo cleansing himself. Hux is wondering what that means. He’s interested in part because he considers himself peerlessly clean and is obsessed with concepts of purity and obedience to order. Hux finds most normal bodily functions filthy. He’s fantasized about living in an entirely sterile environment surrounded only by droids. He’s also fantasized about being held down while several particularly large-cocked aliens ejaculate all over him.

“Your discipline needs refreshing,” Snoke says, speaking to Kylo.

Kylo holds Snoke’s penetrating stare, waiting to hear more. Refreshing his discipline usually requires great physical strain, food deprivation, mental puzzles that feel like torture. Kylo is open to any of that and even welcomes it, as it strengthens him in the Dark. But the quintessence needs to be harvested, and if his body is frail from a discipline refresher he’ll be more vulnerable to the consequences of exposure that Snoke mentioned.

“Whatever you recommend, Supreme Leader, I will--”

“Silence!”

Your mind is loose and weak, Snoke says, his eyes boring into Kylo’s as he communicates only through the Force, sending these words directly into Kylo’s mind like a kind of sizzling brand against his brain tissue. Meditate this evening. Seek to address your petty curiosities. The next steps of our plan are critical.

Snoke ends the holocall shortly after issuing this instruction. Hux sneers at Kylo as usual before heading out of the chamber. Kylo follows quickly in his steps, crowding him from behind. Hux walks faster in response, and Kylo matches his pace again. The back of Hux’s neck turns pink as he almost skips into a little jog. It’s funny.

Kylo considers his petty curiosities. In his wisdom, Snoke has offered him a way to be free of them. Kylo will meditate, but already he thinks he knows what he needs to do.

“See you later,” he says to Hux, who turns back to him with a frown, surprised.

“You will not,” Hux says. “Unless by some unfortunate circumstance.”

Kylo stalks away without responding, leaving Hux thinking that he got the last word. Hux is mentally praising himself for not succumbing to what he views as Kylo’s simple-minded attempt to irritate him by treading on his heels like a child.

Like a child, Kylo thinks, seething but also pleased. Hux has dismissed him as a soft-minded eccentric for too long. Soon he’ll learn where the two of them really stand.

**

Meditation reveals what Kylo suspected, and he begins making plans. Snoke would have handed down harsh instructions if restriction and severity were needed to quiet Kylo’s loosened mind. Instead, he’s encouraged Kylo to push himself into the Dark in another way: by taking someone else in hand. The source of his distraction. This method is doubly welcome because it offers an opportunity to lay bare the actual vulnerability of the person who thinks he need only tolerate Force users for as long as they serve his interests. Ha.

Kylo will serve Hux’s fucking interests, alright. The ones Hux barely acknowledges even to himself.

He waits until Hux has been off duty for several hours. Standing outside Hux’s quarters, he closes his eyes inside his helmet and concentrates on the din of Hux’s activity within. It’s not audible in the traditional way, but through the Force he can slip past the door and Hux’s defenses without having to physically enter.

The first thing that skitters across Kylo’s consciousness is the chill of the room on Hux’s bare shoulders. Inside, Hux is dressed down to his sleeveless undershirt and a pair of sweatpants with a drawstring waistband. Kylo can feel the fabrics as if they’re touching his own skin, and Hux’s little shiver when he gets a sense of being watched. Hux turns from the work at his desk and looks behind him at the empty room, frowning.

Outside, Kylo grins. Hux is still unaccustomed to and distrusting of privacy. He had none during his formative years, constantly observed by his domineering father and by his ruthless peers at the Academy that made an officer of him. This constant sense of being observed for any signs of weakness is part of the reason Hux never touched himself back then and why he can barely bring himself to do it now, even within his personal quarters. They still belong to the ship, which he serves as well as commands. This same hesitation to seek pleasure is why Hux has never let someone do more than fumble a clumsy hand into his pants, years ago. Hux’s instinct is to remain guarded and therefore unassailable, and he congratulates himself almost nonstop for having done so. It’s a thin and desperate defense against his secret, pulsing desire to be defiled and exposed.

That pulse of need in Hux is part of why he’s able to distract Kylo so regularly. Kylo will do them both the favor of dispensing with it. He jams his thumb hard into the call button beside Hux’s entry panel, smirking when he imagines it as a stand-in for Hux’s untouched, lonely little hole. Kylo has sensed it twitching before, hidden within Hux’s uniform when Hux stands next to him at attention on the bridge, shoulders back and posture tight. Kylo has allowed himself to grow heady with interest too many times while sniffing at the energy given off by Hux’s pristine image of himself as a good boy, his most private places never dirtied by the hand of another or loosened by what he denies himself.

Hux has much to learn about the nature of strength. His assumption that maintaining it means never exposing one’s own fragility is so wrong.

“What do you want?” Hux asks, only allowing his door to slide open a few inches, just enough to glare out at Kylo from behind its safety. Another apt metaphor.

“Supreme Leader sent me,” Kylo says. It’s true enough. “I’m to counsel with you.”

“At this hour? What for?”

“Would you like to call Snoke on the holo channel and question his orders? I’ll join you, if so. I’m sure I would enjoy his response to your refusal to obey him because the hour is inconvenient.”

“I’m not-- Get in here and shut up.”

Kylo enters and Hux moves away from the door, his narrow shoulders lifting with indignation and a bite of shame. He’s wishing that he’d thought to put on his robe before going to the door. His stiff nipples are pricked up visibly beneath his shirt, and his face is coloring as Kylo, heavily cloaked and wearing his helmet, observes him in scrutinizing silence.

“Well?” Hux barks. “What is it?”

“You were present, earlier, when Snoke gave me instructions about how to comport myself in the days to come, regarding the collection of quintessence.”

“Please refrain from stating the obvious. Unlike you, I don’t enjoy wasting time.”

“Indeed, I have wasted too much time in recent weeks.” Months, actually, but he’s not here to flatter Hux. “That’s why Snoke gave me additional instructions that you were not privy to.”

Hux stares, waiting. His arms are crossed over his chest at an unnatural height, deliberately concealing his nipples.

“My use of the Force has much to do with amassing strength through restraint and then unleashing it through rage,” Kylo says. “And through other venues.”

“That’s nice for you. What’s this got to do with me?”

“It’s-- somewhat embarrassing.”

Kylo has to withhold a laugh. Hux is paranoid about privacy, but he’s never worried that Kylo might have used the Force to see the truth of him. He doesn’t consider Kylo talented enough; he views Kylo as a kind of weapon that Snoke wields. Lacking in true intuition.

“What’s embarrassing?” Hux asks, his jaw tightening. He’s afraid that Kylo is referring to his nipples, and also telling himself that can’t be right.

“Snoke has encouraged me to confess my preoccupation to you and propose that you might help me do something about it. He is wise, but lacks a nuanced understanding of human sexuality.”

“Seh--” Hux lifts his lip as his cheeks begin to redden. “What.”

“Snoke thinks I should fuck you, to clear my mind. As it has become cluttered with thoughts of doing so.”

“Get out,” Hux says, and he points to the door.

Kylo nods, feigning a somber resignation. “I know,” he says. “I’ve sensed your complete disinterest in the activity. I admire your constitution, General. Mine is quite the opposite, and my command of the Force suffers for it.”

Hux might be smart enough to see through Ren’s ploy if he weren’t so arrogant. He’s already thrumming with the praise he’s long wanted: you’re a good boy, Armitage, better than me, so pure and self-contained.

“Well, I’m not surprised to hear it,” Hux says, haughty. “Considering where you come from.”

“The Republic?” Ah-ha. This is going even better than Kylo hoped.

Hux nods once, curtly. His face is still red. “They encourage that sort of thing, as I understand it.”

“That sort of thing?”

“Passion. Indulgence. Whatever you want to call it.”

Fucking, Kylo thinks, smirking inside his helmet. “Yes. They do. And I’m infected with those desires even now. I don’t expect you to understand or to indulge me. But Snoke has urged me to act.”

“Urged you? To-- To force yourself on me?”

“He didn’t say so expressly. And I won’t, don’t worry. Snoke isn’t human, so he doesn’t comprehend the complexities of our, uh, urges. To him, it’s all the same-- Consent or not, penetration or not. From Snoke’s perspective it’s just two lifeforms smashing their bodies together, sometimes resulting in offspring.”

This is not true at all, but Hux isn’t going to interview Snoke about it. His ass has clenched up tight at the sound of the word penetration, and Ren’s cock stiffens from the sensing of it.

“If you’re not here to assault me,” Hux says, eyes narrowing, “Why have you come?”

“Like I said, Snoke doesn’t know the difference between a kiss and a fuck. He doesn’t care to know, more like, and if he senses some kind of satiation in me he’ll take that as proof that I got the job done, that I got my inappropriate desire for you taken care of. Then we can get on with the quintessence mission. I’ll worry about my further urges on my own time, and I won’t let them get in the way of our work. I promise.” Kylo hears strains of Han Solo in this statement and grits his teeth against the memory of his father’s unkept promises. “But I do think we should kiss, if it’s not too much trouble. Just a peck on the lips. Just so Snoke senses that something happened between us.”

“You’re having me on,” Hux says, still glaring. “How stupid do you think I am?”

“I don’t think you’re stupid at all. I’ve seen your mind, through the Force. It’s how I know that you’re disinterested in even this proposal. I’m asking a favor as your co-commander. Just a peck on the lips and I’ll leave you alone.”

“Right. More like you’ll burst into laughter as soon as I close my eyes and lean in.”

Kylo almost feels sorry for Hux when he senses the depth of his fear of being exposed to another person, ripe for humiliation.

“I wouldn’t,” Kylo says. “Listen to what I’m saying. I’m the one embarrassing himself here. For whose benefit would I be trying to trick you?”

“Your own.”

“How so?”

“Quit playing dumb! You relish any scrap of disgrace that befalls me. I don’t need the Force to sense that.”

“Hux, you’re projecting. Supreme Leader needs us both to succeed. Where would we be without your weapon design? I can oversee the harvesting of the quintessence, but I can’t channel it into a sun-sucker.”

The word sucker makes Hux clench his ass cheeks together again. He huffs out a short breath.

“You’re making my head spin,” Hux says. “I wish you’d just leave.”

This is partially true, based on Kylo’s read of him. Hux is also wondering why Kylo hasn’t taken the helmet off, if he really hopes to be kissed. He’s also thinking, with an edge of feeble worry that he dislikes very much, that he’s never kissed anyone before. He assumes that Kylo did it all the time during his slutty Republic adolescence.

That word is solid in Hux’s mind: slutty, Kylo is a slut, raised by filthy rebels with no moral code, coming here like this, offering himself, shamelessly spreading his legs while he sits on Hux’s furniture, leering at him from under that mask.

“I could leave,” Kylo says. “Or we could press our lips together for two seconds and put an end to this once and for all. Snoke doesn’t issue orders lightly, as you know. We might both face recrimination if we don’t throw him off the trail by doing this small thing.”

“You speak awfully blasphemously about your master all of a sudden.”

“He wouldn’t say so. Sniveling deference to one’s superiors is the Order’s way, not ours. Masters of the dark side of the Force show respect for each other differently.”

“By deceiving each other?”

“How would I be deceiving him, if you assist me? As I said, to Snoke a chaste kiss is the same as hours of deep fucking.”

That does it, at last. Ren’s cock twitches when he feels the shift of air between them, Hux’s whole body set aflame with confused lust by the words deep fucking. As Kylo hoped, they’ve hit Hux like a sonic boom.

No one has dared to speak such filth in Hux’s presence since his Academy days, when he boiled with self-righteous rage and ashamed interest as his fellow cadets taunted each other and him with explicit talk of sex in the dormitories and showers.

“Fine,” Hux says, making a show of gritting his teeth. “Take that stupid mask off and let’s get this over with. I’ve seen quite enough of you today already.”  

Kylo smirks and imagines letting Hux see more of him, letting him see everything, how Hux’s eyes would widen at the sight of Kylo’s fully erect cock. Hux likes big ones, in theory. He’s never touched a real one, except for his own, and even that is a rare occurrence.

Kylo moves toward Hux as he removes his helmet. He had his nightly workout after meditating, and put his clothes back on instead of showering afterward. The ripe smell of his sweat creeps up around his neck when his unwashed face and hair are exposed, heavy around his collar. It’s intentional: he wants Hux to get a big whiff of the unclean scent of him.

“Where are you going, General?” Kylo asks when Hux takes a step backward as Kylo draws close, holding his helmet against his hip.

“Nowhere, I-- Just do it, damn you.”

“Shh, relax. You’ve never done this, right?”

“I don’t waste my time on this sort of nonsense. I thought we’d already established that.”

Kylo says nothing and steps closer, stopping just short of brushing his stomach against Hux’s. The energy that Hux gives off is intoxicating: he’s startled by all of this and alarmed by his own allowance of it, his nose twitching as he notices Kylo’s sweat-ripe body odor.

Hux smells freshly cleaned, meanwhile. Powdery and pure. He scowls when Kylo leans in to inhale that scent more deeply.

“You’re the most absurd person I’ve ever met,” Hux says. He’s trembling with rage, but he’s far angrier at himself than at Ren. At close range, the way Hux internally berates himself for doing anything other than exactly what’s expected of him is almost dizzying.

“Close your eyes,” Kylo says, deep and soft, holding Hux’s gaze.

“No-- Why?”

“Let me show you how to do this, Armitage.”

“Don’t call me--”

Kylo leans in while Hux’s mouth is open, just brushing their lips together. It’s enough to shock Hux into silence, and the thunderclap of his stunned arousal knocks through Kylo’s bones, rolling down along his spine and then the backs of his legs. He pulls free from Hux’s thoughts, afraid that his swoon might be contagious.

“Just be still for me,” Kylo says, his lips bumping against Hux’s when he speaks. He puts his gloved hand on Hux’s cheek, feels him shivering. “Good boy,” Kylo mutters when Hux closes his eyes, and he kisses Hux again before he can scoff and pretend that he doesn’t love hearing that, even from Kylo.

It’s better than Kylo expected, though Hux does nothing but stand there and let Kylo nibble softly at his lips. Hux’s lips are warm, and the trembling is cute. His breath smells good, minty. Kylo gives Hux’s bottom lip a tiny lick, and he grins when Hux inhales sharply, almost gasping.

“Nice,” Kylo says when Hux’s eyes flutter open, surprise and fear and wonder pooling there. Kylo strokes his thumb over Hux’s cheek. “Almost done,” he says, keeping his voice at a low rumble. “Just-- press your tongue out for me. Let me in, just a little.”

“Ah--” Hux frowns but parts his lips, searching Kylo’s eyes.

“I know it’s revolting to you,” Kylo says, stroking Hux’s cheek again. “Do it for the Order, Hux. For the sake of our forthcoming mission. Give me just a taste.”

Hux makes a soft sound at the back of his throat, eyes widening. Kylo licks his own lips before pressing them to Hux’s and stroking his tongue along the line of Hux’s gently opened mouth until he feels the wet nudge of Hux’s tongue against his own. He groans into Hux’s pliant, willing mouth and presses his tongue in deeper, arousal plummeting into his gut and along the length of his cock as Hux opens wider for him, uncertain but eager.

He wants to shove Hux against the wall, to suck at his neck and sink his teeth into Hux’s skin, wants to leave bruises and shred clothing, to get in past all those defenses that are already dropping away, wants to put his hand against Hux’s naked chest and feel Hux’s icepick heart hammering against his palm as Hux melts beneath him.

But that’s not the plan, so he pulls free. Hux stumbles forward as Kylo retreats, his mouth wet and pink and open around his labored breath.

“That should suffice,” Kylo says. “Thank you. I know that was a nuisance for you. I’ll leave you in peace now. You probably want to wash your mouth out.”

Kylo reconnects to Hux’s thoughts as he turns to go, putting his helmet back on. Hux’s mind is shattered with want, an outraged scream of self-loathing catching up quickly as the heat of Kylo’s body moves farther away. Hux is tenting his pants, sweating, trying to come up with some sneering retort so he can have the last word.

Kylo slips out of the room while Hux is still trying to remember how to form words at all.

On the way back to his room, Kylo is grinning inside his helmet. The seed has been planted. As soon as he’s through the door to his quarters he shoves his hand down the front of his leggings, grabs his stiff cock and groans into his vocoder as he strokes himself, thinking of Hux back in his own room, giving himself a mental beating for letting Kylo make him dirty and fuzzy-headed, refusing to touch his aching erection because that would mean Kylo had won.

Kylo comes to the thought of Hux gritting his teeth under the blast of a cold shower and trying to think of anything but the words deep fucking, how good Kylo’s filthy tongue felt inside his mouth, or how widely he’d opened for that feeling.

*

The harvest of the quintessence begins at the start of the next cycle. Kylo personally oversees it as instructed, and notes Hux’s conspicuous absence from the shuttle bay when he launches with the stormtroopers who will do the dirty work in the caves where the quintessence lurks. They don’t know that handling it will kill them-- Not right away but eventually, a toxic film of dark energy seeping into them and rotting over time.

Kylo can use the Force to prevent the same from happening to him. He’s confident, riding the high of his victory over Hux the night before and imagining he can still taste Hux’s shivery sweetness on his lips when he runs his tongue over them inside his helmet. Hux thinks he’s such a hard man, so well-fortified and austere. The first press of Kylo’s lips undid it all, and Kylo can sense Hux’s infuriated lust even as the shuttle disconnects from the Finalizer and blasts toward the surface of the planet they’re orbiting. It’s like a beacon, calling Kylo back already.

He tries to put it out of his mind as he oversees the harvest of the material they’ll use to transform the kyber-rich planet they’ve found into the weapon Hux dreamed up. The quintessence is oily, slippery, by turns effervescent and gnarled with spikes. Kylo barks at the troopers as they try to get a handle on it, and eventually lowers to a squat on the cave floor to demonstrate. He can feel the dark energy of the stuff whispering to him, calling him by name. It’s unnerving, but nothing he can’t control.

Except that he’s puking up bile and blood on the shuttle ride back to the ship, and as soon as he stands to disembark he blacks out, feeling as if every bone in his body has shattered to splinters before the pain rips his consciousness away.

He wakes up in a bacta tank, breathing into an oxygen mask and blinking through greenish fluid. Before the sedatives drag him back under, he catches a glimpse of something blurry and red outside the tank.

He’s still not prepared to wake hours later on his back in medbay and see Hux frowning at his bedside.

“Well, you lived,” Hux says. He’s wearing his full uniform: hat, greatcoat, gloves, everything. No one else appears to be around, save for the faint beep and whir of medic droids.

“What happened,” Kylo asks, the first tendrils of humiliation curling up from the rich soil between his ribs.

“You were careless with the quintessence and it infected you. You required a blood transfusion, for fuck’s sake. What were you thinking?”

“I--”

“Quiet, that was a rhetorical question. I know the precise nature of your malfunction. You’re distracted and therefore mentally weakened, as Supreme Leader said. And, as you confided to me, I’m at the center of it. How foolish I was to believe your claim that you’d be sated by anything chaste. Clearly we need to address your barbaric needs further, if we’re to be successful in our mission to complete the weapon on schedule.”

Hux is red-faced when he finally shuts up. Kylo gapes at him and wonders if he’s dreaming.

“It’s tragically inconvenient that all the potential in your power is shackled to this unruly physical body,” Hux says, his eyes sweeping over Kylo’s blanketed form. Beneath the medbay sheet, he’s nude. “But it is what it is, as they say, and I’ve never shrunk from horrors when it comes to getting necessary work done. Come to my room at 23:00 on the next cycle, if you’re well enough. I do not take this responsibility lightly, and your attempt to deceive Supreme Leader was shameful. We’ll do it right this time, and hopefully avoid another disaster such as this.”

Hux stands, straightens the lapels of his greatcoat and avoids Kylo’s eyes. He marches away, and only as he’s going does Kylo regain the presence of mind to read Hux’s thoughts.

Hux is thinking, mostly: fuck, fuck, fuck.

Both figuratively and literally.

*

Kylo is groggy for the rest of his time in medbay, awaiting a holo call summons from Supreme Leader and trying not to feel rejected when he doesn’t get one. Snoke’s silence says it all, perhaps. Kylo got cocky and wanted to show the doomed troopers that he knew what he was doing, only to prove he did not.

He tries not to fixate on Hux’s resulting proposition, but can’t stop mentally replaying Hux’s clipped speech at his bedside. Kylo had expected Hux to get weak-kneed and stammery while failing to deny himself further pleasure at Kylo’s hands, not to come to him with a businesslike plan of action for fucking around. Of course, Kylo also didn’t expect to come away from his first quintessence harvesting assignment with contaminated blood. Perhaps Hux really does have a point about his need to properly clear his mind. Hux’s interest isn’t as selfless as he’d like to pretend, but clearly something is amiss.

Kylo avoids the temptation to shower, retaining his sweaty sick bed stench as he makes his way toward Hux’s quarters. He’s had nothing to do since being released from medbay but obsess over this appointment, but he still takes care to show up ten minutes late, enjoying the Force-sent sensation of Hux’s building frustration and annoyance. By the time Kylo jams his thumb into the call button on Hux’s door, he can feel the grind of Hux’s teeth through the durasteel that separates them.

When the door slides open, Hux has erased all traces of this boiling impatience from his expression. He’s wearing his uniform, amusingly, but he’s at least removed his coat and hat.

“Good evening,” Hux says, and Kylo almost loses it laughing, still a little loopy from the fading painkiller haze. “Come in, please.”

With the Force, Kylo can see past Hux’s cool demeanor to the maelstrom of emotions storming below the surface: nervous anticipation, fear of having made the wrong move, nauseous regret for having exposed himself to potential humiliation, and faint disgust, mixed with interest, at the smell of Ren’s unwashed body.

“How are you feeling?” Hux asks, standing with his hands clasped behind his back, halfway to the doorway that leads into his bedroom.

“Fine,” Kylo says. One downside of the lingering exhaustion from his medical ordeal is that he’s not feeling as sharp-witted as he usually does. He should have prepared some biting remarks in advance, just enough to get Hux riled and to remind him who’s really in control here.

“Good,” Hux says. He swallows; his cheeks are already pink. “Would you like a drink?”

“Yes, but I shouldn’t.”

“Ah-- Your medications, yes. Forgive me for being direct, but will you be able to maintain an erection?”

Kylo snorts. He takes off the helmet and narrows his eyes at Hux, watches the color on his cheeks deepen to red.

“Let’s find out,” Kylo says, stepping closer.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter,” Hux says, backing toward the bedroom. “As long as you get something out of these-- Encounters. It’s beyond me, obviously. What you get from this.”

“Obviously.”

“Now wait a minute,” Hux says, stumbling against the frame of his open bedroom doorway. “Should we make some rules?”

“Just tell me if I go too far,” Kylo says. “And I’ll stop.”

Hux nods, unblinking. He’s both relieved and disheartened by this information. Kylo files that away. Hux wants to be told that none of this is really his idea, even if it’s the shallowest lie, for appearances only.

“I’m appreciative,” Kylo says, his eyes raking over Hux’s perfectly pressed uniform. “Snoke is, too. Your sacrifice for the Order is admirable.”

“My entire life is a sacrifice to the Order. For the good of the galaxy. Shall I-- Do you want me to undress?”

“I’ll do it.”

Kylo steps forward and Hux freezes there in the doorway, his hands twitching against his thighs. A quick consult of his thoughts seems prudent, but all the Force reveals is that Hux’s mind is a mess of confused impulses and that he feels as if Kylo has infected him with something already: dirtied him, and that one of the symptoms is wanting more filth heaped upon him, something he always feared would happen if he slipped up even a little, even to the point of touching his own cock when he woke up hard after inappropriate dreams.

“It’s okay,” Kylo says, without really meaning to.

Hux’s eyes are remarkable up close: hard and cold, mean, but all of that layered over softer things, like pale green undergrowth in a wood where frost is laced over every delicate sign of life.

Kylo takes Hux’s left hand and tugs at the thumb of his glove, then on each of the other fingers, taking his time as he peels the fine leather away. Hux breathes as steadily as he can manage, his face burning like an angry little sun while he watches this process. Kylo takes his time with the other glove, too, double-checking Hux’s mental register to refresh himself on Hux’s past experiences, not wanting to repeat anything that Hux didn’t like in the past. He hasn’t liked much, even when he came hard to his darkest fantasies. He was always left feeling like such a failure for indulging himself that he would punish himself with long stretches of celibacy in the aftermath. The few partners who managed to work their hands into his pants when he was younger didn’t get very far; Hux recoiled from the temptation to let go before he could really unclip himself from his assumption that doing so was bad, wrong, dirty.

“What are you doing?” Hux asks when Kylo rubs his thumb into the center of Hux’s bare palm, starting with his left hand and then moving to the right.

“You’re so tense,” Kylo says, keeping his eyes on Hux’s twitching fingers as he tries to rub the tension from between the delicate bones of his hand. “It’s part of the nature of my desire for you. To see you drained of tension.”

“You’ll be relieved to know that I already find you quite draining.”

Kylo smirks up at Hux’s reddened face, impressed by that. Hux just scowls.

“But you need me,” Kylo says, still rubbing. “In order to complete your weapon. Such a shame, that it’s lead you to this.”

“If you’re trying to imply that I’m some kind of whore--”

“Quite the opposite, General. You’re an innocent, in a sense. A true believer in your cause. Our cause. A tireless worker, so devoted. It almost pains me to see you give of yourself this way, compromised because of my own weakness.”

Hux is eating this up, his mouth getting very wet. He clamps his lips together and nods. Kylo brings Hux’s hand to his mouth and presses the softest kisses to his knuckles.

“Poor Hux,” Kylo says, and he flicks his tongue out just a bit, licking at a pale freckle between two knuckles and noting the subtle hitch in Hux’s breath. “You’ve suffered so much because of the New Republic, and now you’re made to suffer its wayward son.”

“Careful, Ren,” Hux says, eyebrows twitching inward. “Don’t speak of yourself as if you still belong to them.”

“Of course I don’t.” Real heat flares in Ren’s eyes and he sees Hux’s notice of it, feels his cock start to fill when Hux tries to shrink away from him. “But their poison is in me, Hux. Not unlike the quintessence. I need another transfusion of sorts. Help me cleanse myself. Let me pour my contamination out into you. You’re the only one who’s pure enough to receive it and transmute it.”

“You don’t have to seduce me,” Hux snaps, straightening his shoulders. “I’ve already told you, I’m game. Don’t treat me like some trembling waif just because I’ve never-- Had interest in this, before. Get on with it. I can take whatever you give me, I assure you.”

Kylo releases Hux’s hand and reaches for the top button on his uniform shirt. Hux lowers his gaze and watches as Kylo unfastens his collar and then moves downward, his breath already coming faster. Hux is thinking that Ren’s hands are too big, clumsy, and wondering if Kylo will take his gloves off or if he’ll only touch Hux while still wearing them. At the thought of having more of his bare skin caressed, Hux swallows something down: a shudder and a moan, fear and desire. He’s getting hard in his pants just from the obscene smell and closeness of Ren, his toes curling inside his boots.

Even untucking Hux’s uniform shirt feels deliciously lewd, like stepping over a roped-off barrier to touch artwork in a museum. Kylo rolls his eyes at himself while Hux isn’t looking and resolves to keep clear of Hux’s thoughts for the remainder of their time together. It’s too much, too tempting to fuse with Hux’s overwhelmed thrall. Kylo has fucked dozens of people, and it’s not some kind of big deal to pull open a starched uniform and see someone’s nipples peaked beneath their thin undershirt. To Hux this is already filthy, already sex, but Kylo can't get pulled into the intensity of Hux’s responses if he hopes to really enjoy this himself. He doesn’t take the whole thing so damn seriously, and doesn’t want to, even as he struggles to remember ever wanting someone as much as he wants Hux’s overwhelmed, trembling ass right now.

“Are you sensitive here?” Kylo asks, putting his thumbs over Hux’s nipples before he gets a response.

Hux exhales and shrugs one shoulder, mouth open as he stares down at Ren’s softly circling thumbs. The answer is fuck yes, and Kylo doesn't need to use the Force to read it from Hux: he’s panting, eyes falling shut and fluttering back open, nipples rock hard under Ren’s attention.

Kylo pushes the uniform shirt off entirely, and he’s surprised when Hux allows it to crumple to the floor without complaint. When it’s gone, Hux grips the door frame behind him with both hands, either intentionally or inadvertently thrusting his chest out for Ren’s touch. Kylo leans in for a soft, teasing kiss on the lips, wanting to taste the agitation he can hear in the pace of Hux’s breath.

Again, Hux is minty and smells freshly showered, pristine except for the first hints of sweat beading under his arms and across the back of his neck. Even his sweat smells clean, almost sweet. He exudes a kind of thrilling innocence, though he’s a grown man and a proven killer who has never spared a regret for his own cruelty. Still, he’s this other thing, too. Someone who put himself on a shelf as a boy and stayed here, hiding.

“Oh,” Kylo says when he pushes his hand up beneath the hem of Hux’s undershirt and brushes his gloved fingertips over Hux’s trembling belly. “So soft.”

“I don’t-- Don’t have time to indulge in as much physical training as you’re allowed,” Hux says, flustered. He’s twitching away and then forward, pressing uncertainly into Ren’s touch before retreating from it again.

“I’m not teasing you, General,” Kylo says, though of course he is. “I meant your skin, not your belly.”

“How can you even tell, with gloves on?”

If Hux were a normal partner, Kylo would taunt him for so obviously wanting to feel Ren’s bare hands on his skin, but dangling Hux’s desire in his face might shut this whole thing down. Instead, Kylo holds Hux’s gaze as he removes one of his gloves, then the other. He tosses them on the floor.

“Take your shirt off,” Kylo says, leaning back to let Hux feel the chill of the room on his already exposed skin.

Hux reaches for the hem and takes a deep breath as he pulls his shirt over his head, showing Kylo a glimpse of his ribs before he exhales again. Kylo reminds himself not to get caught up in Hux’s overcome thought process, then realizes that it’s not Hux who’s overwhelmed at the moment.

It’s just the sight of so much skin, and it being Hux’s skin-- it’s. Really something.

There’s only one scar, a small slash below the jut of Hux’s left collarbone, slightly paler than the rest of Hux’s skin. No immediately obvious freckles, no moles, a modest amount of wispy ginger chest hairs. Hux’s nipples are tiny and bright pink, swollen from having the fabric of his shirt swirled around them by Ren’s thumbs.

“What?” Hux snaps when Kylo stares for what’s apparently too long.

“Nothing-- What? Nothing.”

“I know I’m not a piece of breathing statuary, but I’ve done what I can with what I have.” Hux flexes his arms, gripping the door frame behind him again. “You’re the one who claims to be so undone by--” He glances down at himself, sucking in the soft curve of his belly. “--This.”

Kylo grabs him and kisses him, one hand going to Hux’s waist and the other cupping his cheek. They both exhale audibly at the skin-to-skin contact, and Hux opens his mouth wide for Ren’s tongue. Kylo tugs him closer, grinning against Hux’s lips when he feels him shiver at the feeling of having his bare chest pressed to the rough fabric of Ren’s shirt and cloak.

“Have you ever wanted to eat someone alive?” Kylo asks when he pulls back, already devouring the sight of Hux’s fattened pupils.

“Have I-- What?”

“I just-- I just want to take a bite out of you, Hux.”

“Well, you can’t! I draw the line at biting.”

“Let me suck your cock, then. Drink you down.”

Hux quakes in Ren’s hands as if the ship has been rocked by enemy fire. His eyes somehow get even darker, pupils expanding as his lashes flutter over them.

“Yeah,” Kylo says, dropping his voice to a low rumble. He reaches down to take hold of Hux’s ass with both hands, kneads him there and feels the first press of Hux’s hard cock against his thigh. “Gonna swallow you up. I need it, Hux. Need your medicine in me.”

“You sound idiotic,” Hux says. He’s smiling a little, just in his eyes. “But-- Fine, if that’s what your disgusting condition requires. As long as you don’t bite me.”

“Wanna bite you here, not there,” Kylo says, shoving Hux back against the door frame as he brings his mouth to Hux’s neck. Hux is fragrant there, still very clean-smelling but with a tang of something sharper: sweat, lust, secret things.

“Please,” Hux says, tilting his head to let Kylo lick and nuzzle. “Please don’t bite.”

This begging sets something off in Hux that slams into Kylo without any effort to read Hux through the Force: Hux loves the feeling of being at Kylo’s mercy, and the permission to allow whatever comes, including pleasure, because Kylo is reckless and Hux has been ordered to accommodate this recklessness. Given no choice. This is the call of duty, down to his straining erection.

“Mhmm, so tempting,” Kylo mutters, dragging his teeth over Hux’s pounding pulse. “You give off an energy, you know? Like the quintessence. It’s dark, like that, but differently.”

“I told you,” Hux says, and he grabs a handful of Ren’s hair, pulls. Kylo is taken off guard by the sudden boldness, frozen for a moment while Hux stares at him. “You’re not seducing me, so spare me the poetry.”

“Forgive me, General.” Kylo reaches for Hux’s belt, pleased when this transfers the shock back to his expression. “I’ll try to respect your love of efficiency even as I defile you.”

The mention of being defiled makes Hux slacken against the door frame, his chest heaving as his breath comes harder. Kylo leans down to lick and nip at his collarbones before lowering to his nipples. The first dart of Ren’s tongue across one draws forth a moan.

“Sensitive,” Kylo confirms, letting his teeth just nick over Hux’s swollen nipple as he says so.

“Please,” Hux says. His hips are twitching; he’s already coming undone. “Please, please.”

“Please what, Hux?”

“Ah, just-- Take what you need, but don’t do any lasting damage.”

“Mhmm, I’ll try, but you know me. How things get out of control so quickly.”

Hux moans again, reveling in the threat. His skin tastes amazing, fresh, almost dewy, like an edible untouched land, and it pinks up so prettily as Kylo sucks hungry kisses over his ribs and onto his belly.

“Your mouth,” Hux says, sneering down at Kylo when he’s on his knees, looking up. “It’s just-- Obscene, too big, and those lips--”

“Want to see them wrapped around your cock?” Kylo licks Hux’s stomach after asking, feels Hux’s thighs shake under the tight squeeze of his hands. “Got news for you,” he says, resting his chin on Hux’s belly and holding his gaze. “Everything about me is too big. Poor Hux. You don’t even know what you signed up for, do you? So tight and clean and well-preserved, and I’m just gonna wreck it all, gonna make you so loose and dirty--”

“No, no,” Hux says, panting and holding Kylo’s head against him so desperately that he cuts off Kylo’s ability to breathe for a moment. “Please, you’ll ruin me--”

“Fucking right I will.” Kylo massages Hux’s dick through his pants, watches him writhe and scrabble at the wall behind him, one hand on each side of the doorway. “You’ve never let anyone put their dirty mouth on your pretty little cock, have you?”

“It’s-- Not little--”

“I’m going to show you how to suck dick,” Kylo says, burning Hux with his gaze when he gathers himself enough to wrench his eyes open. Hux’s face is on fire, the flush spreading down his neck and onto his chest. “Watch and learn,” Kylo says, opening Hux’s pants. “Because you’re going to take me in your mouth when I’m done with you.”

“That’s--”

“Just think about that while I’m sucking you.” Kylo pushes his hand into Hux’s pants and echoes Hux’s moan when he feels the heat of him through the fabric of his underwear. “Think about how soon my big, sloppy cock is going to be drooling into your mouth, down your throat.”

“Nuh-- Kylo-- Ren!”

Kylo smirks around the shape of Hux’s dick as he mouths at him through his briefs. Distantly, he recalls the way Supreme Leader said Ren during their last holo call, as if it was a general term for a replaceable servant, an insult. Hux pronounces it quite differently: as if there is only one Ren, this one.

“Don’t come yet,” Kylo says, issuing this command like a threat. “I need to swallow your sweetness, remember.”

“Sweetness?” Hux snorts, almost manages to glare. “You’re sick, you know that?”

“Obviously.”

Kylo peels Hux’s pants down along with his underwear, letting Hux’s wet cockhead bump against his cheek as he springs free. He leaves Hux’s pants bunched around the tops of his boots and licks at the creamy, hairless insides of Hux’s thighs as Hux tries to spread them wider, confined by the width of his pants.

“Don’t spare me, now,” Kylo says, breathing these words onto the head of Hux’s cock, which is indeed not little but somehow still cute, pink and leaking for him. “Tell me how depraved I am for enjoying this,” Kylo says, and he darts his tongue out, taking a little lick of Hux’s precome. He’ll kiss him after this, make him taste himself on Kylo’s tongue. “Tell me, Hux. How much you don’t need this like I do.”

“You-- I--” Hux grabs two handfuls of Kylo’s hair and moans, his head thunking back against the door frame when Kylo suckles at the head of his dick, teasing. “You’re like an animal,” Hux says, hoarse and breathless. “Putting your, ah, putting your mouth there. Wanting to, to-- Drink from that.”

Hux isn’t going to last long; Kylo certainly didn’t when he first had someone’s mouth on him. He takes Hux in fully and swallows up his breathy noises along with his dick, strokes his tongue against the underside and braces Hux against the door frame, holding him steady when his knees threaten to give out.

“It’s too--” Hux complains, shivering and pulling Kylo’s hair. He whines and wriggles in Kylo’s grip, thickens in Kylo’s mouth as his release becomes inevitable. “Too much, too, too--”

Dirty, Kylo thinks, slurping shamelessly before taking Hux in deeper, swallowing around him. He cups Hux’s pulled-tight balls, rolls them in his palm and rubs his thumb gently against Hux’s perineum, then firmly. Hux screams when he comes and yanks Kylo’s hair almost hard enough to drag Kylo’s teeth against his dick as he empties himself down Kylo’s throat.

“What,” Hux is saying when Kylo rises, steadying Hux again as flops bonelessly against the door frame: eyelids heavy, lashes wet. “What, what did you--”

“Shh, you know what I did.” Kylo’s cock is pounding, so full. He’s almost glad that it will take weeks of this before Hux is ready to take him up his ass; if they did it now Kylo would nut before could get all in. “Come on, come here, sit down. I’ve made a mess of you, poor Hux. And we’ve barely even started.”

They go into the bedroom, Hux stumbling in his steps from a combination of drowsy, receding pleasure and because his pants are cuffed around his legs, mid-calf. Hux is attempting to summon some genuine revulsion when Kylo sits him on the end of his bed and consults his thoughts, but it’s half-assed and he’s far more preoccupied with the idea of sucking dick and the fear that he won’t be able to perform adequately. Kylo stifles a laugh as he helps Hux peel off his boots and pants, leaving him fully naked. He should have known that a large portion of Hux’s apprehension about sex would involve the fear of not being instantly good at it. Hux doesn’t like learning with the help of others. Too much opportunity for the kind of humiliation he suffered when he struggled to master his combat courses as a boy.

“You did so well,” Kylo says, sinking to his knees on the floor before Hux. He settles between Hux’s legs, which spread for him timidly even now, and rests his hands on Hux’s hips. “Such a good little soldier,” Kylo says, holding Hux’s muggy gaze and keeping his voice low, careful not to sound like he’s mocking. “So good for me, giving me what I need, keeping me on the right path for the sake of the Order.” He rubs his thumbs over Hux’s hipbones as he issues this praise, watching Hux’s posture improve as he receives it.

Hux nods and reaches for Kylo, then lets his hands drop to his thighs when he seems not to know what to do with them.

“But I’m still so hard, Hux,” Kylo says. He spreads his knees apart on the floor, watches Hux’s gaze sink to his tented crotch. “Will you help me? It’s so big. I’m sorry. Your poor jaw will ache.”

“I can do it,” Hux says, knees twitching around Kylo’s sides. He swallows and rubs his hand over his eyes, trying to clear the last of his hazy pleasure away. “Just let me-- Let me do my job.” Hux’s spent cock twitches when he uses the word job. “I’m a fast learner. You know that.”

“Mhm, I do know that. Okay, Hux, all right.”

Kylo stands, putting the already imposing bulge of his cock face-level with Hux, who stares. His gaze creeps upward as Kylo unfastens his cloak and pulls off his shirt.  

Hux presses his lips together with intentional restraint as he surveys Kylo’s chest, his eyes lingering on scars here and there. Kylo has to suppress a laugh when he consults Hux’s mind and finds him thinking that’s not fair as he tries to stop ogling Kylo’s naked chest.

“I’m gonna take it out now,” Kylo says, reaching for his fly. “Don’t be scared.”

Hux glowers at him. “Oh, shut up. I know what a cock looks like.”

“Yeah, but this one-- Well, you’ll see.”

“I will, if you ever get on with it. I’ll try not to burst into tears.”

Kylo smirks and reaches out to stroke Hux’s hair while he tugs his pants open with his other hand. Even now, Hux is surprising. His response to sexual stimuli is predictable, sure, but he’s not following the script as strictly as Kylo expected.

Without removing his pants, Kylo tugs himself out. He’s not wearing underwear, but Hux won’t notice. He’s got all of his attention focused on the girth and length of the rock hard, sticky monster that’s currently pointed at his face.

“Fine, it’s big,” Hux admits, sounding a bit like he’s been punched in the gut. He flushes and glances up at Kylo’s face, then back down at his cock. “Fuck,” he mutters, hands flinching on his thighs. “Doesn’t it, ah. Get in the way?”

“Of what?” Kylo laughs under his breath. No one has ever asked him that before. He tries not to be overly flattered but feels pride like a sunbeam landing squarely in his chest.

“Never mind.” Hux scowls, sighs. “If I’m going to be subjected to this at all, it might as well be with the most challenging specimen on record.”

“On record!” Kylo is beaming now. He almost wishes he could mention the fantasies he’s prodded at in Hux’s thoughts over the years: enormous alien cocks capable of literally drowning him in come, et cetera. “I’m sure there have been bigger human cocks, uh, recorded. Over the centuries.”

Hux seems to be searching for the next cutting comment, and when he can’t come up with one he gives Kylo the most pitiful look: not because he doesn’t want to take the next step but because he’s afraid he’s not up to the task.

“Here,” Kylo says. He swipes two fingers through his leaking slit, hissing a little at how ready he is for something more, something real. He brings his fingertips to Hux’s mouth, which opens with surprise. Hux darts another nervous look up at Kylo. “Go on,” Kylo coaxes. “Taste it.”

“Disgusting,” Hux whispers, staring at the shiny, sticky substance on the tips of Kylo’s fingers. He swallows the excess moisture in his mouth and only whines a little when Kylo presses his fingers in between his lips, rubbing the taste of his precome directly onto Hux’s tongue.

“Good boy,” Kylo says, with special emphasis, his cock throbbing. Hux’s eyes pinch shut as Kylo’s fingers move out slightly, then back in. “There you go. Just like that. That’s good, look at you. So good, Hux, taking what I give you.”

Hux sighs through his nose, his eyes relaxing at the corners as he absorbs the praise and lets Kylo gently fuck his mouth with two fingers. This goes on for a while, possibly because Kylo is transfixed by the sight of Hux obediently sucking even this part of him, impatient as he is to get his cock in there. Hux’s mouth gets wet at the corners, and he begins to swirl his tongue around Kylo’s fingers. Greedy, showing off. When Hux opens his eyes and stares up at Kylo, his thighs inching apart on the mattress, Kylo pulls his fingers out slowly. Hux has gotten hard again, just from this.

“Fuck,” Kylo says, dragging his wet fingers through Hux’s hair and making a complete mess of it, his breath coming faster when Hux only tips his head back and allows this. “I’m gonna come all over you,” Kylo says, jaw tight as he steps forward to bump his cock against Hux’s red, swollen mouth. “No more fucking around. Open up, show me you’re a good boy.”

Hux does, but the way he holds Kylo’s gaze has some kind of challenge in it. If Kylo wasn’t so desperate to come he might pause and investigate this with the Force, because it seems a little bit like Hux is either daring Kylo to underestimate him or silently laughing at him for doing so, or both. As it is, Kylo nudges into Hux’s mouth and groans with relief at the hot, velvet caress of his tongue.

“Fuck yeah, like that.” Kylo takes a handful of Hux’s wrecked hair and uses it to guide him, still only carefully pushing a few inches of himself into Hux’s mouth. He wants to shove in hard, but Hux is so inexperienced, he might panic and snag Kylo with his teeth. Kylo doesn’t mind a little pain, but he has a feeling that Hux’s bite might be especially sharp. He’ll lick over Hux’s little fangs when they’re kissing later, maybe.

Hux is indeed clueless, slobbering and gagging, his face quickly wet from moments when Kylo’s cock slips out and drags Hux’s own drool onto his skin.

“Relax your throat,” Kylo says, though he’s losing what’s left of his patience and thinks this is probably a lesson for another day. “Come on, Armitage,” he says, still not sure if Hux’s first name is heavy artillery for bringing him into his complacent good boy, good boy place or a way to throw a bucket of ice water onto the proceedings.

Hux scowls at the sound of the name, but only with a little twitch of his nose.  

“Work hard for me,” Kylo tries, petting Hux’s cheek as he presses his cock back inside, wanting so badly to shove in deep and give Hux’s messy mouth a merciless fuck. “Breathe through your nose, tilt your head back. Good, that’s, ah--Good boy, good boy, like that--”

But Hux gags again as soon as Kylo tries to shuffle forward. Not wanting to penalize him for trying, Kylo slides out and starts jerking himself, pretending this was part of the plan. Hux is panting, gripping the bedsheets hard with both hands, his untouched cock standing up between his legs.

“Get that mouth open,” Kylo says, his hand flying on his cock. “You’re gonna swallow this, I’m gonna fuh-- Feed it to you, here it comes, Hux, here--”

Hux manages to actually swallow maybe a teaspoon of Kylo’s come, which is copious and everywhere, his aim poor. He comes on Hux’s cheeks and forehead, in his hair, across his lips, on his chin. Hux laps what he can into his mouth, eyes closed, everything about him surrendered and reveling in the filth that’s spilled across his face.

“So good,” Kylo praises, weakly now, and he falls onto Hux, crushing him to the bed and giving him the dirtiest kiss of both their lives: Kylo laps up tonguefuls of his own come and presses the lingering taste into Hux’s mouth, swallows Hux’s pathetic little moans and lets Hux writhe beneath him until he comes again just from humping himself against Kylo’s hard stomach, only a tired shiver and a cracked exclamation of something like protest evincing his pleasure this time.

Kylo didn’t plan this part. He intended to leave briskly once the deed was done, just as before, while pretending that Hux got nothing out of it. That seems stupid now, and his exhaustion is holding him in place, on top of Hux. He likes the way Hux breathes. There’s something prissy and measured about it even now. Hux rests his cheek against Kylo’s temple, his chest expanding and deflating beneath Kylo’s weight.

“Move off,” Hux says, nudging his hips against Kylo. “I need to clean up. Look what you’ve done to me, I’m just-- Coated in it.”

Kylo moans and sits up on his elbows to look at what he’s done to Hux, who is already ruining the effect by wiping the come off his face with his fingers, wincing and making a displeased sound as he does so. Hux is still red-faced, his hair wrecked and come-crusted, but he also seems alarmingly self-possessed when he frowns up at Kylo.

“I don’t suppose you’ll be satisfied with this,” Hux says.

“Huh?”

“This single encounter, depraved and distasteful as it was, to your liking, won’t solve our problem with the complications of quintessence harvesting altogether. Will it?”

“Uh--”

“I would propose that from here forward we convene for these activities on the eve of your quintessence gathering missions. To clear your mind beforehand. If post-gathering rendezvous are necessary, that could be arranged as well. I’m here at your disposal, as ordered. Now get off of me, please, and make yourself scarce.”

Kylo pushes his hair back off his forehead and slides away from Hux, trying not to acknowledge his own irritation as Hux moves toward his fresher without looking back. Though he didn’t plan on it, Kylo had begun to hope he could at least pass out in Hux’s bed for an hour or two. It’s not as if he just left medbay after almost fucking dying or anything. He scowls when he hears Hux’s shower turn on and grabs for his clothes.

Probably because of the recent trauma and resulting medication, it doesn’t occur to Kylo until he’s walking back to his rooms, uncomfortably sticky under his clothes and smelling straight-up bad now, that Hux just returned his volley. That was a sweetly surrendered blow job from someone who’d never so much as touched his lips to a dick before, yes, but it was also revenge for Kylo’s swift departure after that first teasing kiss.

So that’s how it’s going to be. Fine, good. Kylo knows about games, and Hux isn’t the only one who can play dirty.

**

The next quintessence gathering mission is scheduled to occur on a different planet in three cycles’ time. Kylo is restless in advance of it, telling himself that it’s only because he longs to be tested again and to succeed this time. He tries not to think overmuch about Hux and about what will occur at 23:00 on the cycle before he leaves for this mission, but the memory of Hux opening his prim mouth for Kylo’s fingers and then for his cock chases Kylo from training to meditation and into his attempts at sleep. He dreams about Hux laughing at him and claiming to have seen bigger cocks. Kylo is longing to get the upper hand again almost as much as he’s looking forward to teaching Hux how to unclench that little hole of his.

Kylo almost never uses his comm. Such technology is nearly useless when one has access to the Force. He’s just back from a grueling workout when he hears the device chime as he’s toweling off, again avoiding a shower.

GEN HUX |to| REN (KYLO): I’m expecting you at 23:00 this evening for our appointment. Please confirm.

Kylo snorts, surprised Hux is giving him this opportunity to so easily start off at an advantage. He, of course, does not respond.

This time he shows up fifteen minutes late, though he’s so ready to have Hux again that he’s a little bit hard just from the excitement of walking to Hux’s quarters. He’s surprised Hux didn’t send him further comm messages with empty threats about canceling; clearly he needs this as much as Kylo does, but Kylo thought Hux’s talent for self-denial would have stood up a little longer against Kylo’s testing of it.

He jams his thumb into the door’s call button, steadying himself with a deep breath as he thinks about how tight Hux’s virgin hole will be against the first press of his fingers, how unprepared Hux will be for the sensation of being touched there at all and especially for the feeling of being breached, even a little. For the past two cycles Kylo has been vividly imagining using his tongue on Hux’s ass and kissing his mouth savagely afterward, dirtying him and making him taste himself. Just the thought of how clean Hux will be down there, maybe even hairless, the thought of those pale legs pressed up against Hux’s chest while he stares down at Kylo, open-mouthed and vaguely horrified by how good it feels to have Kylo’s tongue and fingers working on him, working him open--

Kylo frowns and presses the call button again. He waits, and when no answer comes he uses the Force to open the door, ignoring the complaining shriek of the durasteel as he stomps inside. The door slides shut behind him with a sad whine before it latches. Lucky for Hux it’s still functional. Kylo would ravage Hux in here with no door at all, exposing the General’s helpless cries of pleasure to anyone who passes by.

“Hux!” he calls. There’s no way Hux has enough willpower to punish him for ignoring that comm message by not showing up at all. Kylo has sensed Hux’s grinding desire to reconvene for more lessons getting a little worse and brighter with every hour that passes.

There’s a light on in the bedroom, and when Kylo enters he realizes it’s coming from the attached fresher. A sound from within makes him pause: water sloshing in a basin. Surely Hux isn’t having a bath. Kylo walks forward to investigate, shameless.

“Oh, Ren,” Hux says mildly, turning from the sink. He’s naked except for a towel around his waist, the fresher’s air thick with steam from his recent shower. Hux’s skin gleams in the warm light, almost glowing after the thorough scrubbing he just gave it, smelling of a combination of fragrant soap and natural freshness. A portion of his face is covered in shaving cream, and he’s holding a fancy-looking razor, his foamy shave brush sitting on the counter near the sink. “You took your time,” Hux says, looking back to the mirror and lifting the razor to his face. “So I decided to do the same. Feel free to undress, I’m almost finished.”

He’s calm-- But it’s got to be a pretense. Kylo stands glowering in the doorway, still wearing his helmet. He helps himself to a peek at Hux’s mind. Chief among Hux’s emotions is a sense of amusement. He feels as if he can see past Ren’s mask to the look of boiling consternation that’s surely on his face. Hux thinks he’s being very smooth. Both literally and otherwise. He drags the razor down over his cheek, taking away the shadow of ginger fuzz and leaving behind only soft, flushed skin.  

Kylo’s mouth is watering. His hands curl into fists. Hux is an unexperienced, lonely wretch, but he’s also been sandbagging Kylo, who should have known. Han Solo warned him about people like this. Nobody gets to where Hux is at such a young age without being capable of a symphonic complexity of deceptions.

“Why are you lurking?” Hux asks, as if he doesn’t know. He meets Kylo’s eyes in the mirror. “Have you never seen someone shave before?”

Kylo considers his options. He could do what Hux wants: storm into the fresher and fling the razor aside, rip that towel off and begin devouring Hux’s clean skin. He could drag his teeth across Hux’s chest and neck and belly, pull his thighs apart, mark him all over before surging back up to kiss his breathless, grateful mouth. Hux wants him unleashed and wild.

Alternatively, he could make Hux as crazy for it as he feels right now.

“I’ll be waiting,” Kylo says, turning away before he can get another good look at Hux’s pale shoulders, or the curve of his neck, where Hux needs to be bitten and sucked until bruises rise.

Out in Hux’s bedroom, Kylo paces and instructs himself to calm down. He shouldn’t be hard in his leggings just from the sight of Hux’s skin and from that humid, clean scent that emanates from the fresher, but he was winding himself up all the way here, and maybe it’s to be expected.

He has a plan. He’s going to blow Hux’s mind and leave him desperate for aftercare, trembling and reaching and begging for Kylo to put him back together after taking him apart. Kylo will huff with laughter at the sight and leave Hux crying for it as he turns to go, victorious and sure to conquer the quintessence gathering mission in the same clear-headed way. He pulls off his helmet and exhales, checking over his shoulder. Hux is still shaving. Good. Let him stand in there gloating, thinking he knows just what he’s doing.

Kylo will show him he doesn’t.

When Hux finally emerges, he leaves the light in the fresher on and doesn’t increase the illumination in his bedroom. The effect is a soft glow that suits him. He doesn’t appear surprised when he sees Kylo standing with his back to the far wall, still fully dressed except for the removed helmet, but his heart is beating a little faster already as Kylo’s eyes rake over his chest and down to his bare legs, then up again. The bulge under Hux’s towel is a soft one, but the longer Kylo observes him with cold scrutiny, the more aroused Hux becomes.

“I await your instruction,” Hux says, snotty. “This is your show, after all.”  

“Lose the towel and get on the bed. On your back, legs spread. Knees bent.”

Hux pretends to be unperturbed by this instruction, but his nerves and shame slither across the room to give Kylo’s hardening cock an invisible caress. Hux thinks he can hide in plain sight, even as he spreads himself open on the bed for Kylo, naked and almost fully hard now, flushing. But the Force reveals all. Hux is telling himself he’s ready for anything, but he also thinking about how big Kylo’s dick is and how impatient Kylo can be, and he wants to close his legs, or hide under the blankets. Hux’s cock is starting to leak, just a few beads of precome gathering at the slit, because it’s as if Kylo is taking a bite out of him after all, without needing to use his teeth.

“Touch yourself,” Kylo says.

Hux shakes his head, alarm striking through him and landing uncomfortably against Kylo as he senses it.

“You refuse?”

“I-- You said I could tell you if you go too far. That’s too far, for me. I don’t like that.”

“You don’t like touching your own cock?”

“What did I just say?” Hux frowns, his bent knees twitching. “It’s-- The idea of you watching me do it. Of anyone seeing-- That.”

“But you’re fine with me touching you.”

Hux shrugs, the red on his cheeks creeping downward. “Yes,” he says, softly. “Don’t you want to?”

Hux keeps vacillating between practiced coyness and authentic stumbling. It’s disorienting, especially when Kylo tries to use the Force to parse this back-and-forth. He’s not used to having to do so much translation of the raw data.

Kylo takes his gloves off as he approaches the bed. He leaves his boots on when he kneels onto the mattress, enjoying the fact that this annoys Hux, and the fact that he says nothing about it because his voice feels like it’s caught in his throat. When he’s close enough, Kylo settles his hands on Hux’s knees and opens them wider, scooting Hux’s feet apart until his ass cheeks spread a bit, exposing his hole.

It’s hairless, pink, tiny. Kylo makes a somewhat unfortunate noise under his breath, low and hungry, and there’s no taking it back when Hux smirks.

“Laugh it up,” Kylo says. “You’re rock hard and I haven’t even touched you. What are you so excited about?”

This is the wrong tactic: Hux’s face falls, and his energy shifts into protective, defensive regret. He tries to close his legs, but Kylo holds them open, shaking his head. He’s got to change course in a hurry or this will all be over before he even gets his hand on that sweet little pucker.

“You’ve never touched yourself down there, have you?” Kylo asks.

“Of course I’ve touched my cock! Just because I don’t want to--”

“I don’t mean there. I mean-- Here.”

Kylo reaches down to tap Hux’s hole with just the ghost of his fingertip. Hux jerks in his grip and gasps, cock twitching. His hole clenches up tight against the next careful pass of Kylo’s finger.

“Mhmm, just as I thought,” Kylo says, moving down to get a good look at Hux’s hole while he teases it. “You’re so good, Hux, so proper. Of course you’ve never played with your dirty little hole.”

“It’s--” Hux jerks again and clamps his mouth shut. He wanted to tell Kylo his hole is not dirty. But of course it is. It feels dirty when Kylo touches him there again, transforming it into a source of forbidden, illicit pleasure.

Kylo disconnects from Hux’s mind, beginning to feel lightheaded as Hux tilts between pulses of frightened arousal and his tense attempts to reject his building curiosity. Hux knew Kylo would want to do this, but he sincerely didn’t think he would like it.

“Are all good boys so sensitive?” Kylo asks, stroking him in a slow circle with the pad of his finger. “Is that why they can resist playing with themselves? Because it’s agony to feel so much from just a soft touch like this?”

“Agony,” Hux repeats, clenching up against Kylo’s fingertip when he circles it just a bit more firmly.

“I’m sorry,” Kylo says, leaning over to lick the underside of Hux’s thigh.

“No, you, you’re not--”

“You’re right, I’m not. You know what I’m going to do to this little hole, don’t you? You might be inexperienced, but you’re hardly naive. You know I’m going to press my big, clumsy fingers inside it. Get it nice and open for me. Make it sticky and full and sore. And you’re gonna let me, aren’t you? Because you’re so good, and you have your orders.”

“Orders,” Hux says, nodding. He wipes at his mouth, arches his back. “Fuck, just-- Do what you must. You beast.”

Now they’re back on track. Hux lets his legs fall fully open, still clenching up every time Kylo increases the pressure of his caress even slightly.

“Are you enjoying these last moments?” Kylo asks, not wanting to overdo it but unable to resist. “The final seconds of your unsullied hole?”

Hux rolls his eyes. Kylo is tempted to push a fingertip in just to get that look off his face, but he refrains. He wants Hux to beg with those cold eyes before he gets that satisfaction.

“Did you ever even think about it?” Kylo asks. He licks Hux’s thigh again, then drags his teeth over the sensitive skin there. “Have you imagined others wanting to do this to you? How rough they might have been with your tight little ass? How they would have enjoyed your shocked cries while they used you?”

“No,” Hux says, lying.

“Of course not. Such a good boy. That feels so dirty already, doesn’t it? Me touching you here?”

Hux grunts, huffs. He looks away, then back at Kylo. “Don’t you need lubricant?” he asks, trying to make his voice sound steady.

“Yes,” Kylo says. “Gonna get you nice and slick for me, don’t worry. But first, since I don’t like the taste of lube--”

“The taste?”

Kylo keeps his eyes on Hux’s face as he lowers his mouth, first kissing him at the base of his cock, then over the seam of his balls. Hux’s mouth remains open and his eyebrows twitch together as he watches Kylo move lower. He gasps when Kylo teases the tip of his tongue over his perineum. Then lower.

“What are you-- Ren!”

It’s a protest, an outrage, but that’s not all, and Hux squirms against Ren’s mouth as if he’s been possessed, rubbing himself onto the insistent press of Kylo’s tongue. Kylo moans against Hux’s hole and laps at him sloppily. He tastes sweet somehow, so fucking clean, like he’s brand new.

“Stop, stop that!” Hux finally manages to say, but when Kylo does as he asked Hux looks lost.

“Are you sure?” Kylo asks.

“Sure of-- What, you can’t--”

“I told you, I want to eat you up.”

“That’s disgusting!”

“It is not. You’re so clean, Hux, you’re so good. You’re a fucking delicacy.”

Hux relaxes a little, hearing that. He doesn’t protest when Kylo leans down again to give his fluttering hole a sharp lick, and he moans when Kylo does it again, thighs trembling around his head.

“How can you live with yourself?” Hux asks, letting his head fall back. His chest heaves while Kylo resumes lapping at him, his nipples peaked up into two tight little points. Kylo wishes he could reach them from here. “How, ahhh, how can you stand to be like this? This is truly the dark side, isn’t it?”

Kylo laughs against Hux’s hole, though that shouldn’t be funny. It’s blasphemous.

“Mhmm, poor Hux,” Kylo says, letting his voice rumble against Hux’s wet, twitching rim. “You’re laid out like a feast for me, look at you. I almost feel guilty, but you know I can’t help myself.” He punctuates this with a twisting swirl of his tongue, trying to press it inside. But Hux is too tight to allow him in, even as his hole begins to relax under Kylo’s attentions.

“This is the fruit of your people’s Republic,” Hux says, dragging his hands through his hair to disorder it himself. Seeing this gives Kylo an unexpected thrill, and he’s staring when Hux lifts his head to look down at him. “Filthy gluttons, the lot of you. Sickening.”

“What if I’d been raised here?” Kylo asks, treading into weird territory but unable to resist. Hux is the most delightfully surprising weirdo, after all. “Would I be like you, Hux? If I’d gone to the Academy? A good boy, as repulsed as you are by this?” He rubs his thumb into Hux’s hole just a bit as he asks, shallowly starting to work his way inside.

Hux goes brainless, eyelids lowering. His hips twitch; he wants more. There’s a very fine strand of precome drooling from the tip of his cock and onto his shaking stomach.

“No,” Hux says when he’s gathered himself. “I think your depravity was inevitable.”

“Mhmm, you’re probably right.”

They hold each other’s gaze, Kylo trying to determine if Hux is actually smirking a little, just at the very corner of his lips, or if he’s imagining things. It can be difficult to tell Hux’s smirks from his sneers.

“Where’s the lube?” Kylo asks, still working Hux open gently with the tip of his thumb. “I can’t wait any longer.”

“For what?” Hux asks, his fists flexing in the sheets.

He’s worried, sincerely, that Kylo will try to stuff his cock in immediately, right now. Idiot.

“Just need a taste,” Kylo says, kissing Hux’s thigh.

“You’ve had that.”

“Well, I need to investigate the uh, the situation. To see how tight you are. It will inform my plans, for our future encounters.”

This eases Hux’s anxiety more than Kylo expected it to-- Or differently, more like. Kylo intended only to reassure Hux that he won’t have to take more than he can handle. Hux seems to have latched onto the promise of many future encounters like this as the real comfort, meanwhile.

Kylo should have guessed. Hux is so lonely. This pillow talk banter constitutes the longest conversation he’s had with anyone in months. Even on the bridge he keeps things terse.

“Fine,” Hux says, exhaling as he scoots his legs open just a bit wider, heels shifting on the sheets. “There’s lubricant in my fresher, in the cabinet behind the mirror.”

“And what does a good boy like you use that for?”

“Nothing! It’s unopened. I procured it from the commissary in preparation for this-- Assignment.”

“Oh, Hux.” Kylo kisses Hux’s thigh again, trying not to be too authentically charmed. “Always so prepared. Always thinking one step ahead. My good, good boy.”

“I’m hardly yours.”

That may be so, but Hux’s whole body sings with the praise, from his heels to his temples, even as he takes care to preserve the sour look on his face.

Kylo considers undressing on the way to the fresher, then decides the sight of his hard cock might spook Hux right now, with his unready hole so exposed. He peels his outer tunic off so that Hux can see his bare arms, anyway. They’re part of the getting-fingered experience, after all, and Hux likes his muscles.

“Are you cold?” Kylo asks when he returns with the lube. Again, he leaves his boots on when he climbs onto Hux’s bed.

“No,” Hux says, spreading his legs as Kylo settles between them.

“You’re shivering.” And your cock is so hard, Kylo doesn't say.

“Maybe I’m slightly chilled,” Hux says, lifting his chin. “But I suspect what you’re about to do to me will raise my body temperature, and I’m not about to crawl under the blankets with you.”

“What I’m about to do to you,” Kylo says, rejecting the thought of being under blankets with Hux. “Right, you’re right. It’ll make you hot all over. Are you ready?”

“I’ve been ready! You take the longest damn time to do anything. What are you even getting out of this?”

“The realization of a dream.”

“Shut up. I meant-- Are you even, uh.” Hux glances down at Kylo’s crotch and smirks when he sees the outline of his cock there. “Are you just going to leave that tucked away? Do you get pleasure even from denying yourself? Disgusting.”

“Don’t worry about me,” Kylo says, palming his dick. “I’ll get my release soon enough. All over you, again.”

Hux says nothing. He peeks up into Kylo’s eyes and flexes his shoulders, wanting. Kylo can’t tell if this is part of his coy performance or a real, shameless need. Maybe Hux can’t tell either.

“So, stage one,” Kylo says, clearing his throat and popping the lube open. “I’m going to determine just how tight you are. Think of it as a scientific procedure.”

Hux rolls his eyes. Kylo moves onto him and gets halfway to Hux’s face before he realizes that he’s trying to steal a kiss. He didn’t really mean to-- That’s not what he’s doing-- Hux looks confused, too, when Kylo’s face hovers over his.

“Try to relax,” Kylo says in a husky murmur, pretending this was part of his plan. “Think of the Order, and how much better I’ll be for having your help.”

“I’m improving you,” Hux says, nodding as Kylo sinks down again, kneeling between his legs. “My-- My superior comportment and innate discipline will cleanse you. Like Supreme Leader said.”

Snoke didn’t say that, but never mind. Kylo coats one finger in lube and brings it down to Hux’s hole. Hux clenches up at first, then exhales and just twitches against Kylo’s gentle circling.

“Did you ever in your wildest fears imagine you’d have a scion of the Republic inside you?” Kylo asks, though this is probably not the right way to relax Hux further. “You never thought you’d have anything in here, did you?” he asks when Hux doesn’t answer except to flush more deeply. “Not even the tip of your own little finger.”

“Do you know what you are?” Hux asks, sitting up on his elbows.

“Me?”

“Yes, you.”

“Is that a rhetorical question?”

“You’re one of those villains from a holodrama who spends so long lovingly describing his evil plans that the hero is able to free himself the ropes that bind him and thwart everything.”

“Is the hero your virgin asshole, is this scenario?”

“Don’t call it--ahh, careful!”

“Shh, I’ve got you, there you go. Let me in, just like that, good boy.”

Kylo feels his own flush increase powerfully as the tip of his finger disappears into Hux’s tight, hot channel, then deeper, up to the knuckle. Hux is panting and thrashing his head back and forth on the pillow, his cock so hard now that it looks almost purple, still untouched except for the soft ghost of a kiss Kylo pressed to the base earlier. Hux squeezes around Kylo’s finger in a nervous little pulse, whimpers.

“Fuck,” Kylo says. “Hux.”

“Wh-- What?”

“What do you think? You feel fucking amazing. You’re so-- It’s just--”

Words fail Kylo, though he’s not sure why. Yes, it’s a tight ass. But he’s fucked his way into plenty of those over the years. There’s just something about Hux. The way he comes apart. The way he clenches so tentatively around Kylo’s finger as it slides in deeper. Like a fucking caress.

The thought of working his dick in like this, a little at a time while Hux bucks and clenches around the feeling of being slowly filled, has Kylo groaning. Hux whimpers again in answer, as if he sensed that and wants to warn Kylo: not yet, don’t even think it.

“You okay?” Kylo asks, pausing with his finger almost all the way in.

“Yes,” Hux says. He looks down over his chest as if he’s insulted by the question, even as his face blazes and his chest heaves. “What, how-- What’s your, ah. Opinion? Of the, the situation?”

“So tight. So warm and sweet, too, mmpf--” Kylo grasps Hux’s shaking left knee with his free hand and brings it to his cheek, turns to kiss him there. “You’ve been such a good boy for so long, keeping your hole this perfect for me.”

“Not-- For you--”

“Right, for the Order. Mhmm, Hux, it’s-- It’s just right. Gonna open it up nice and slow. Just like this, see. How does that feel?”

Hux groans in answer when Kylo slides his finger out just a bit, then back in.

“Filthy,” Hux says, his voice cracking, head thrown back. “You-- You’re--”

“I’m inside you, Hux. Feel that? Ah, yeah. That’s what I needed. Thank you, thank you. Such a good boy, aren’t you?”

“I-- Yuh, yes--”

“Tell me you’re a good boy. You can say it. I know you try to be modest.” Yeah, right. But Hux thinks so. “Say it, Hux, it’s okay.”  

“I, I--”

“You’re a good boy. So good, I can feel it. Tell me, go ahead.”

“I’m, I’m-- yes.” Hux nods, eyes closed and hips starting to rock, hands opening and clenching around fistfuls of the bedsheets as he rides this feeling. He’s going to come as soon as Kylo nicks his prostate.

“Say you’re a good boy, Hux.” Kylo is humping himself against the mattress now, not far from going off himself. “Say it.”

“I’m, I’m a good boy, ah, haa, I am--”

Hux shouts when Kylo grabs his cock, and his whole body arches through a silent scream as Kylo’s fat knuckle brushes over his prostate, introducing him to the sensation. When Hux comes, Kylo can feel it in the seat of his own balls, the raging heat of the energy Hux gives off thickening the air in the room and almost setting off Kylo’s building orgasm. He kisses his way up over Hux’s come-splattered chest by way of distracting himself, holding back for now.

“You did so well,” Kylo praises, rubbing his nose against Hux’s burning cheek while Hux pants and twitches, shuddering beneath Kylo as his finger slips free. “So well, good boy, my perfect little soldier, c’mere.”

Hux kisses Kylo full on the mouth, lapping at him at him hungrily and moaning around his tongue. He’s so brainless now that he’s forgotten where this mouth has been, but Kylo doesn’t care to taunt him with a reminder. He’s losing himself in the kiss, too, dragging his cock against the warm crease of Hux’s thigh.

“Poor Hux,” Kylo says when he finally breaks the kiss. “I’m about to make you dirty again, do you feel that? Feel how big and full you made me? Gotta let this out, need you to take it for me.”

Hux just nods and tries to kiss Kylo again, but Kylo moves back before he can connect. He straddles Hux’s hips and opens his pants, takes his dick out and gives it a few long, slow strokes while Hux watches. He feels Hux’s spent dick twitching under his ass when he grinds back against it, grips himself more tightly and moves his fist faster on his cock.

“Someday,” Kylo says, losing control while he holds Hux’s muggy gaze, “Someday this is going inside you, deep inside your sweet little ass.”

Hux licks his lips. Kylo throws his head back and comes, then remembers to tip forward and watch as he paints Hux’s chest with streak after streak.

Slumping down onto Hux, Kylo vaguely recalls his plan to smirk and slide away while Hux begged him to stay longer. Hux isn’t begging, and he’s not protesting as Kylo’s weight is half-dumped onto him. Hux rolls his head toward Kylo’s, bringing their panting mouths just nearly but not quite together. He grabs for Kylo’s arm and holds it against his chest while they both recover.

“You’re so contaminated,” Hux says, mumbling. He sounds sleepy and almost complimentary, one fingertip sliding through the hair on Kylo’s arm. “It’s profound. The con--” Hux yawns, his nose bumping against Kylo’s. “Contamination.”  

“Mmph. Tomorrow. The quintessence.”

“Yes, I hope my sacrifice proves effective.”

Kylo grunts, too drained to keep track of whatever game they’re playing now. It’s always shifting under his feet. Hux is such a tricky little fucker, really. Kylo feels like he’s toying with something more dangerous than it looks, like the moment when he knelt down to demonstrate the handling of the quintessence, because what harm could it really do to him, with all his strength?

He’s not sure which of them falls asleep first. He wakes when Hux shifts against him and makes a soft noise of confusion. For a while they just blink at each other. Hux looks down at his chest and winces.

“I need another shower,” he says. “What a waste of resources.”

Kylo almost tells him he shouldn’t have showered beforehand, because what did he expect, but he doesn’t want to suggest that Hux shouldn’t prepare himself for these encounters with a thorough cleaning, leaving himself pristine and that much more tempting to defile.

“I should go,” Kylo mumbles, remembering his plan.

“Yes. You’ll leave for the quintessence harvesting in just six hours. Go get some rest, and-- Best of luck.”

Hux sits up and cracks his neck, moans with pleasure at the feeling, then bounds toward the shower as if his energy has been completely renewed by that brief nap. Kylo watches Hux’s ass while he walks naked into the fresher, sad to see it disappear into the shower stall with the rest of Hux.

Getting up is difficult, but Kylo manages. He’s dressed and all the way to Hux’s front door before he remembers his helmet and goes back for it. Inside the fresher, Hux is standing under the blast of the sonic function, taking his time. Kylo lingers near the bed and attempts to come up with some kind of clever next move, something that will keep Hux on his toes.

Then he just leaves, trying not to worry that the quintessence will best him again.

**

His worry proves to be for nothing: the mission is an unqualified success. The quintessence is harvested and contained, and no one faints or even pukes on the shuttle ride back. Kylo is feeling so victorious that he even thanks the stormtroopers for their help once they’ve returned to the shuttle bay. They both stare at him from behind their helmets in disbelief for a moment before stammering acknowledgments: of course, sir; yes, sir.

Kylo reluctantly submits to a droid’s full-body medical scan on the way out of the shuttle bay. This was almost certainly ordered by Hux, the paranoid bastard. Kylo feels smug when the scan reveals that he’s perfectly healthy, then imagines Hux might feel smug, too, once he hears this report. He’ll probably give himself and his snug hole credit.

Whatever, let him: as long as Kylo gets to stretch Hux open a bit wider and jizz all over him again before the next mission.

The whispers don’t start until Kylo is alone in his quarters. He’s pulling off his clothes, feeling suddenly sluggish as he prepares to shower. He turns abruptly when he hears a hissing voice like the sizzle of boiling water on rock, though he knows it’s an echo in his mind, not a presence in the room. He heard these voices when he first handled the quintessence, and again today in the caves on the new planet, though more faintly. Now they seem to be trying to shape themselves into actual words, and it’s probably not a good sign that they’ve followed him this far from the scoured deposits where the harvesting took place.

Kylo meditates. It’s usually the right move when something feels amiss, and often Snoke will come to him in the dark and offer guidance, or condemnation if that’s what’s in order.

But Snoke doesn’t come, and the voices seem to get louder before they retreat entirely. Kylo has a hard time dragging himself out of his meditative trance and can’t stop shivering after he has. He’s not in any pain, nothing like what happened after the last harvest, but feels almost drugged, unable to focus on his sovereign thoughts long enough to follow any of them to conclusion. He’s only managed to remove his shirt and one boot by the time he hears the buzz from the front door of his quarters.

He senses Hux standing outside, and it’s such a relief to sense anything clearly that he opens the door while still shirtless and still wearing one boot, only realizing that his pants are unfastened when Hux’s gaze sinks down to his open fly.

“What do you want?” Kylo asks. Hux is carrying a slim gray bag under his open greatcoat, looking irritable as usual.

“You asked for me,” Hux says. He glances over his shoulder at a passing group of stormtroopers as they move through the main hallway that branches from the corridor where Kylo’s room is located.

“I didn’t ask for you,” Kylo says when Hux looks at him again.

“Yes, you did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“What is the matter with you?” Hux snaps. “I don’t have time for your games, look--” He digs his comm out from the inside of his coat and taps it twice with his thumb. “There,” he says, holding it out so Kylo can read the message on the screen.

REN (KYLO) |to| GEN HUX: need u

“I didn’t send that,” Kylo says, scowling. His head is beginning to hurt, not in the usual way but as if he’s been clawed at from inside his skull.

“Right,” Hux says, and he pushes around Kylo, into his room. Kylo is surprised by Hux’s strength, and only then does he realize how weak he currently feels, which might explain why it’s taken him almost an hour to summon the energy and concentration required to remove one boot.

“I mean it,” Kylo says when Hux stands in the middle of his main room, making no attempt to disguise his nosy peering about. “I didn’t send that. Someone’s tricked you.”

“Right,” Hux says again, incredulous. He sets the gray bag down on the unadorned table on the far wall of the room, pushed out of the way for meditation purposes. Hux isn’t wearing his gloves or hat. He’s craning his neck as he turns in circles, looking for something. “Ah,” he says when he spots Kylo’s comm in the bedroom, on the floor beside the bed and plugged into the wall charger. “Let’s have a look.”

“At what?”

Hux strides into Kylo’s bedroom as if he owns the place and squats down to consult Kylo’s comm in the same fashion. Kylo waits to be satisfied by Hux's inability to find a sent message from Kylo on the device; it’s always a joy to prove Hux wrong about anything. But Hux is grinning when he looks up again.

“See?” he says, walking to Kylo and holding the comm out. “If you were going to lie to me as part of your little game, you might have at least thought to delete the message from your outgoing folder.”

Kylo stares down at the screen. There it is: a message sent from him to Hux that says only need u.

“Are you ill again?” Hux asks when Kylo spends a long time staring at the message and trying to untangle the last few hazy hours spent alone here in his rooms. “I brought a porto-scanner to check on you--” Hux makes a face when Kylo looks up at him with surprise. “To check on your suitability for command, considering what happened last time. Sit on the bed, I’ll fetch it.”

Distantly, Kylo wants to defy Hux, but he’s so tired and it feels good to have some easy-to-follow instructions. He sits and waits. When Hux returns to the bedroom he’s no longer wearing his greatcoat. He unzips the gray bag and pulls out a portable diagnostic machine like the one the droid used on Kylo when he returned.

Again, the medical readings are all normal. Hux frowns at the device for a while, clicking here and there.

“I’m fine,” Kylo insists, beginning to at last feel like it’s true. “Just groggy. Still getting the hang of interacting with the quintessence, I guess.”

“Be that as it may, gaps in memory are troubling from a security perspective, whatever the reason. And, for that matter--” Hux’s noses twitches as he surveys Kylo with only his eyes now. “This reeking stench you seem to favor also troubles me. What have you got against bathing?”

“I don’t-- I’m not-- I was going to, but. I got distracted.”

“I see. Well. I imagine that’s true of many things you intend to do, but I won’t have any unwashed personnel aboard my ship. It’s unsanitary, dangerous for my entire crew. Especially as you’ve been exposed to this-- stuff, and I specifically remember Snoke telling you to cleanse yourself afterward.”

“I did.” Kylo rubs his hand across his face, trying to chase the shadows from the corners of his eyes. “I meditated.”

“Was that before or after you summoned me?”

“I didn’t-- I don’t know! I don’t remember sending that message. Hux--”

“Shh, all right. Let’s-- ah. Let’s clean you up and see if that doesn’t help.”

Kylo is confused about what that might mean, and even more confused when Hux puts the medical scanner aside and starts unbuttoning his uniform tunic. He peels it off and folds it neatly over the scanner bag. In his undershirt and pants, Hux prompts Kylo to stand from the bed. Curious about where this is going, Kylo stands and watches as Hux peels his pants off for him.

“I don’t know if I can get it up right now,” Kylo confesses, mumbling. Normally being undressed by Hux would be enough to at least get him a little hard. “I feel weird.”

“Clearly, and I’m not trying to seduce you.” Hux grunts as he tugs off Kylo’s remaining boot, winces at the smell of his socks but removes them dutifully. He tugs Kylo’s pants off entirely then, leaving him nude. “Follow me,” he says, avoiding Kylo’s stare when he stands. “Your fresher’s shower is functional, I hope?”

It is, and Hux leans over the tub in his undershirt and pants, adjusting the temperature of the detachable showerhead before beckoning Kylo to sit. Still in a kind of resigned, almost pleasant trance, Kylo again obeys and sits slumped in the tub while Hux uses the warm water to spray him down.

“Hold this, please,” Hux says, handing Kylo the showerhead while he reaches for the soap.

It takes Kylo longer than it should to realize what’s happening, and not only because he’s experiencing some kind of mental fatigue: Hux is washing him, scrubbing his back first and then his front, wetting his hair before reaching for the shampoo. It’s hard to accept this as reality, even after everything else they’ve done.

Kylo watches Hux’s face while he works. Hux is methodical and seems soothed by the task, none of the usual tension or annoyance apparent in his features. He looks good in just his undershirt and pants, Kylo notices. Like some kind of normal person.

“Lean back,” Hux says when he’s finished with Kylo’s hair, chest and back. Kylo does, spreading his legs. There’s a twinge of interest in his cock, and it feels good to thrust his hips up and allow Hux to give him a clinical washing there. “You should really trim this,” Hux says, running his soapy hand through the dark hair around Kylo’s cock. “It’s out of control.”

Kylo would protest that this is his natural look, his personal style, but he doesn’t really feel like it. He watches Hux rub a soapy rag over his legs, scrubbing dirt and dried sweat away before using the showerhead to rinse all residue from the mission down the drain. He even washes Kylo’s feet.

“There,” Hux says when he’s giving Kylo’s soap-scented skin a final spray down. “Doesn’t that feel better? Didn’t the vile Republic dwellers and mad monks who raised you teach you how to bathe like a proper human being?”

Kylo grunts, tempted to be offended, though of course he hates those people, too. It’s hard to be even be annoyed by Hux’s attempt to insult him as Hux rubs his hand over Kylo’s back and uses the blast of the warm water like a kind of massager, lingering on the tight muscles in Kylo’s shoulders and at the back of his neck. Kylo leans forward and lets his wet, freshly cleaned hair hang over his face. He tries not to moan whenever something Hux does feels particularly good. If this were sex, he wouldn’t care. But this is something else, so he closes his eyes, stays quiet.

“What’s this from?” Hux asks, touching one of the thickest scars, high on Kylo’s back.

“Training,” Kylo mutters. Specifically, the fight to the death that allowed him entry to the Knights. The other potential inductee used an axe.

“Hmm,” Hux says, rubbing his fingers over the scar’s texture. “Do you feel better?” he asks again, sincerely now.

“Yes.” Kylo considers thanking him, then decides it would be smarter not to, which makes him feel like himself again.

“Come on out, then,” Hux says. He snaps off the water and returns the showerhead to its cradle. Kylo flings his hair back, slapping Hux with a splash of water in the process. He manages a tired smirk when Hux scowls.

Kylo lets Hux dry him off as if he’s helpless to do so himself. It feels good, so: whatever. The ache in his head has lightened when they return to the bedroom, and in general he feels less clawed-up. Hux points to the bed. Kylo climbs into it.

“At least we’ve kept you out of a bacta tank,” Hux says, radiating a sense of prideful contentment when he stands over Kylo, surveying the naked and freshly cleaned expanse of him. “So far, anyway. I’d better keep an eye on you for a little bit longer. There was a delayed reaction last time, as I recall.”

“You can get in with me,” Kylo says, reaching for the rumpled blankets. “But only if you take off your boots.”

“Arse,” Hux mutters, balancing on his right leg while he pulls his left boot off. “I had to wash my sheets after enduring your attentions anyway. You probably send yours to the laundry once a month, if that.”  

Hux takes his pants off after his boots, folds them up neatly and turns back to the bed. In a thin pretense of confidence, he settles onto the bed in his undershirt and briefs, planting his ass on one of Kylo’s pillows and propping his back against the wall. He glances over at Kylo and then looks away, tugging the hem of his shirt down. Hux’s cock isn’t entirely soft. Kylo rolls over to rest his head on Hux’s thigh, unable to hold down a moan when he rubs his face against it.

“I love this,” Kylo says, reaching in to knead at the soft skin. Hux is warm, smells good. His cock twitches with every squeeze Kylo gives him.

“Love-- What? My leg?”

“Your thigh, right here. This spot where your skin is so smooth.”

“You’re mentally compromised,” Hux says, almost fondly. He tsks when he tries to drag his fingers through Kylo’s damp hair. “This is all tangled. I don’t suppose you own a comb?”

Kylo keeps his eyes closed, concentrates. Hux flinches with fear that morphs into amusement when he sees the comb floating through the air, coming from the fresher, borne like a weightless thing by the Force. Hux has seen Kylo devastate their enemies with the Force, manipulate the massive crystals within the weapon Hux designed, lift grown men off their feet in his rage. Figures the thing that would finally impress him would be a floating comb.

“This is actually very well made,” Hux says when he’s plucked the comb from mid-air. He’s flushed, a little bit giddy as he turns the comb over in his hands.

“It’s made from Endorian wood,” Kylo mutters. The comb has fat, polished teeth and the wood is deep brown with a reddish tint. He likes it, too.

“Endor,” Hux says, hatefully.

Ah, yes: the fall of the Empire. Bad associations.

“I like to think of that wood as part of the ancestral home of hundreds of Ewoks,” Kylo says, petting Hux’s thigh. “All of them homeless now, for the sake of my hair.”

“Stupid,” Hux says, but he’s grinning. He sighs with a strange kind of pleasure as he takes a section of Kylo’s hair and begins to work the comb carefully through it, unsnarling tangles.

Kylo concentrates on investigating Hux’s current mindset, still confused about what is happening here, exactly. He finds that Hux enjoys this sort of thing: polishing his possessions, keeping them running smoothly and meticulously clean, standing back to watch them gleam after he’s cared for them.

Being considered a possession of Hux’s would be either funny or infuriating if Kylo wasn’t so tired. He clutches at Hux’s thigh and relaxes into the feeling of Hux’s fingers parting his hair, the comb’s teeth sliding gently over his scalp and the back of his neck as the tangles pull free. He’s been cleansed, just as Snoke asked. He never imagined it could be as simple as bathing, but with Hux doing the washing, and built upon the things Kylo has been doing to Hux, maybe it’s not so simple. Just complicated enough.

Kylo wakes hours later and Hux is gone. The comb sits on the pillow that retains the imprint left by Hux’s ass. Kylo reaches over, touches his fingertips to the comb, and falls asleep again.

**

Things proceed in this fashion for some weeks, as the Finalizer moves from system to system on individual quintessence missions, accessing deposits located by Snoke. There are ten in total. When all are collected, the next phase of Starkiller’s construction will begin: coating the kyber crystals at the heart of the machine with the quintessence. Darkening them with its power. Making monsters of them.

Kylo interprets Snoke’s lack of communication as a sign that things are moving ahead according to his design, and that Kylo is managing the challenges of regular quintessence contact in a satisfactory way: by fucking around with Hux in the hours before he leaves for the harvests, then allowing Hux to wash him clean when he returns.

After his second round of Hux debasement-- or third, if he counts the kiss --Kylo considered dumping the pretense that Hux is doing this for the Order, and all the conversational quirks that go along with it, but he both missed it and found things awkward without it, so it’s now part of the routine.

“Hear that?” Kylo says when he’s got two fingers working easily in and out of Hux, to the point that his thrusting makes an obscene squelch with every withdrawal and reinsertion, lube dripping everywhere. It’s ironic, maybe, that they do this sweaty, messy, come-drenched part of their routine in Hux’s bed, while the cleaning ritual always happens in Ren’s room, where the comb lives. “Can you hear how sloppy I’ve made you?” Kylo asks when Hux doesn’t respond except to push his hips down and whine.

“That’s a reflection of-- ahh-- Of you, not me.”

Hux is squirming in an effort to get Kylo to swipe his fingers across his prostate again. He’s properly addicted to the feeling now, reduced to a blubbering mess by having that spot teased at and then avoided, which is what Kylo is doing now, in addition to getting Hux lose enough to take a real fucking from two of his thick fingers.

“I know,” Kylo says, feigning graveness. “It’s me, Hux, you’re right. And you’re so selfless, letting me play with you. Thinking only of the success of our mission while I stuff my dirty fingers up inside you.”

Hux groans and arches, clenching around Kylo’s fingers in his desperate, begging way. Kylo rewards him with a swipe at his prostate that drags a high, keening sound out of him. Hux’s heels are scrabbling on the bedsheets, looking for a kind of traction that he can’t seem to let himself find. Kylo leans in to lick a dribble of precome from Hux’s slit, grinning against his sticky cockhead when doing so pulls a much softer sound from his lips.

“Tell me when you’re close,” Kylo says, because this is his new favorite thing: hearing Hux say so, goading him into admitting that he feels good, so good, that he can’t hold it in. “You know I need to drink from you, Hux. I know you want to do this properly, to help me not to spill a drop.”

Unghh,” Hux says, or doesn’t say.

“Fuck, you’re getting so loose for me,” Kylo says, dragging his knuckle across Hux’s prostate again. The way he shivers and goes quiet means he’s close. “You’re so noble, Hux. Nobody works harder than you, do they?”

“Nuh, no, nobody--”

“Certainly not me.”

Hux throws his head back and laughs in a kind of dry huff, both hands sliding through his already-wrecked hair. “You,” he says. “You don’t even know what work is, Ren.”

“That’s right, tell me, Hux. Tell me I’m rebel scum, say it when you come in my dirty mouth.”

“You, you’re-- nhnn--” Hux stares down over his heaving chest to watch Kylo take another dainty lick from the precome bubbling from his slit. “Ren, I’m-- I--”

“Say it.”

“I’m going to, to come, I’m--”

“Where, Hux?”

“In your, mouth, ah, in your fucking filthy mouth, please--”

“Good boy,” Kylo says, and he swallows Hux down to the root, his throat bobbing around the ejaculation that rips from Hux as soon as he closed in all that wet heat.

“Ah, fuhhh-- Yes, drink that, take it,” Hux says, as if Kylo is ridding him of some toxin by doing so. “Republic-bred slut, you, you love that, oh, yes, suck it all out. Disgusting.”

Kylo laps at Hux’s cock when he’s oversensitive and trembling, until Hux tugs on his hair and winces. Kylo’s fingers slide out easily, and he kisses Hux’s loosened hole before surging up to try to kiss his mouth. Hux is prepared for this now and moans, holding Kylo away by his shoulders for as long as he can stand to. Then he feigns exhaustion and lets Kylo sink down, lets Kylo kiss him dirty, wet and deep.

“What did I do to deserve this?” Hux asks, quite unconvincingly as he bats his pale eyelashes at Kylo and wraps his arms around the back of his neck, keeping him close.

“It could only ever be you,” Kylo says. He blanches when he hears how that sounds, and sees his own shock reflected in Hux’s eyes. “You just-- You’re the thing most worth wrecking, around here.”

A poor recovery, really, but Kylo is very hard and doesn’t care much. He’s naked, no longer concerned about scaring Hux with the sight of his cock. Hux has seen plenty of it, between this and their post-quintessence bathing sessions.

“Where should I come on you today?” Kylo asks, nipping at Hux’s ear. “Hmm? How about all over that slack hole I just opened up? Give you a little preview, maybe push some in with my fingers when I’m done?”

“You could--” Hux says, and he reaches for Kylo’s cock, actually considering asking to have it inside him. He runs his trembling fingertips down along the shaft like it’s something he’s still wary of, because of course it is. Kylo holds his breath; even if Hux suggests it, Kylo isn’t sure Hux is ready to take him. There are four more quintessence missions left, for one thing. “Yes, do as you said,” Hux says, and he closes his teeth around Kylo’s bottom lip, tugs. “I’ll get on my hands and knees so I won’t have to watch this vulgar display.”

“Yeah, shield your eyes,” Kylo says. He’s weirdly relieved that Hux decided he’s not ready for more than that yet. “Go on, turn over, and hold your cheeks open so I can see that little hole and what I’ve done to it.”

Hux does as instructed, and Kylo sits back on his knees to enjoy the sight for a moment: Hux’s spent cock hanging heavy between his legs as they slide apart on the ruined sheets, his fingers pinching into the flesh of his ass cheeks when he spreads himself apart. Hux peeks back to see what is taking so long, most of his face still pressed to the bed.

“Beautiful,” Kylo says, beginning to stroke himself. He’s closer than he realized, has to slow his pace. “The great General on his knees, humbly doing his duty.”

Hux closes his eyes, arches his back and exhales slowly, waiting to feel the hot, branding ribbons of Kylo’s seed on his skin. The trust, Kylo thinks, out of nowhere, and then he’s coming hard, all over Hux’s ass and thighs.

As promised, he uses two fingers to push some into Hux when he’s done, then laps at the dribbling mess of his ass until Hux is hard again, quivering.

“Filthy man,” Hux moans when Kylo strokes his dick, milking him from behind. All of Hux’s limbs are trembling. He reeks of sex, of Kylo, and he can smell it on himself, is reveling in it because Kylo did this to him, Kylo made him this way, and it’s no fault of his own, so he can surrender to it again and again, without guilt. Sensing this is almost enough to get Kylo hard again, but after the first orgasm he’s always thinking of the quintessence, and reassuring himself that it will be fine, again, and that Hux will be there to prevent disaster in the aftermath.

“Are you going to come again?” Kylo asks. There’s an edge to his voice that he didn’t intend to put there. He doesn’t like it when thoughts of the quintessence creep in this early, before Hux is slumped in his arms, twice spent and half asleep. “Hmm? Are you gonna let me have more? You know I’m greedy. When I finally get my dick you, will I ever let you crawl off of me? I don’t know, Hux. I’ve never fucked a hole so sweet and tight. There’s no telling what might happen.”

“You’ll ruin me,” Hux sobs. “That’s what.”

“That’s right I will. Poor, good little Hux. You’ll never be the same once you’ve had the spawn of your enemies spilling his dirty seed so deep inside you.”

Hux cries out and comes: weakly this time, spurting in Kylo’s hand and then collapsing onto his front, jerky aftershocks twitching along the backs of his thighs and through his fingers. Kylo slides down over his back, buries his face against Hux’s neck and breathes in the smell of him, which is a particular indulgence after Hux is all fucked out and soft like this, pressing back like he wants more of Kylo’s weight on him.

“That took too long,” Hux mumbles when he’s regained his breath and his thought process. “It’s-- What? Four hours until you leave.”

“What can I say, General? It’s a delicate process, ruining you like this without spoiling you for the next round.”

“I’m serious, Kylo,” Hux says, shifting beneath him. “This is the biggest deposit we’re collecting, on Yam-Ubb.”

“Still find it hard to believe the planet with unparalleled dark energy deposits is called Yam-Ubb.”

“Cut the shit.” Hux sits up properly and scowls, shoving Kylo off of him. “This is a very important mission. I should have-- Curtailed your horrible urges, but you overwhelm me and now look where we are. Hurry up and dress, you need at least some real sleep before the mission.”

“Can’t I just sleep here?” Kylo asks, before he can really think about it. He shrugs when Hux stares at him. “What’s the difference?”

“It’s just-- It’s not what we’ve done, so far, and I’m wary of messing with the formula.”

Kylo wants to throttle him. The fucking formula? They’ve been making this up as they go since the start. If Hux thinks Kylo has some intricate plan that he’s not privy to, he’s the least intuitive supposed genius that Kylo has ever met. And he’s met an obnoxious amount of clueless supposed geniuses. Most of them were family members, and most of them were particularly clueless when it came to what was going on in Kylo’s head.

“Fine,” Kylo says, and he hears himself sounding like him, like Ben. He flings himself out of the bed as if he’s in an adolescent funk.

“After you’re done--” Hux says. He’s thinking of their bathing ritual, the comb moving through Kylo’s damp hair, how he’ll watch Kylo slacken into sleep and then will nod off himself, only to jerk awake five minutes or two hours later and slip free from Kylo’s grip.

“After I’m done,” Kylo says, snatching his clothes from the floor, “We won’t have to bother with this shit. I won’t bother you anymore, for any of it, after all the quintessence is harvested. You’ll be so relieved, I know.”

Kylo leaves without looking back at Hux and dresses in the front room, where he’s left his helmet resting on Hux’s narrow dining table, where Hux has his morning caf and reviews reports--

Kylo growls under his breath and shoves the helmet on, fed up with being so hooked into Hux’s thoughts that he can’t look at a fucking table without seeing Hux blowing on the steam that rises over a mug of caf. He’s angry, ready to destroy something, which is not the energy he should be taking to the next quintessence deposit. He hears the whispers already, as the ship draws close to the planet where the largest of the deposits they’ll collect is located. They’re faint, but the farther he gets from Hux the more he’s aware of their presence, a soft hissing promise that the Finalizer is drawing ever closer what it seeks.

Back in his room, he throws his helmet against the wall and tries to gather himself, attempts to locate the pulsing nexus of his rage. He doesn’t actually care about sleeping in Hux’s bed, so that’s not it. He’s getting everything he wants from Hux, regardless: before the last of the quintessence is collected, Kylo will have his dick up Hux’s virgin ass. No doubt about that. And that’s been his aim all along.

So: good. Everything is going according to the only real plan he ever had for Hux, beyond eventually laughing at Hux’s downfall when Snoke has no more use for him. And perhaps that day will come soon, once the quintessence has successfully coated the kyber core of Hux’s weapon. What good is Hux beyond overseeing that process? How is he different from any other General with a stick up his ass and a sneering disdain for the Force that will eventually get him killed?

Kylo punches the wall, relishing the pain that shoots from his knuckles and up the length of his arm. He wishes Snoke’s instructions for lessening the impact of his distractions had involved simple physical torture.

But Snoke is wise, and there is some reason still unrevealed about why things have gone as they have. Hux’s treatment for Kylo’s post-harvest disorientation wouldn’t be so effective if that weren't the case.

Kylo stretches out in bed and calms himself by considering the fact that he’s harvesting things from Hux, too. A different kind of energy. Restorative, it seems. He closes his eyes and tells himself that Hux is a resource, and that, like the caves where the quintessence is found, eventually that resource will run dry, its raw materials diverted into something better and more useful.

It’s good, only natural. It’s what the dark does: consumes, without regret.

**

The harvest of the largest deposit goes smoothly until the very end, when the stormtroopers who are assisting have perhaps been exposed for too long to too much quintessence. Kylo is barely paying attention to them when their fight begins, preferring to concentrate on integrity of the transference containers, which he must use the Force to maintain throughout the process.

He’s also trying not to listen to the whispers or capitulate to his growing sense that they have something to tell him specifically, something he doesn’t want to hear. They’re louder here than at any of the other sites. He feels soothed by them in a way that scares him, because this is a dark energy that does not serve even the most powerful wielder of the Force, whatever it tries to promise to those who listen.

A strangled cry from one of the stormtroopers breaks his concentration and cuts through the sinister musing of the whispers. Kylo straightens, hand going to his lightsaber. He draws it just in time to see the stormtroopers’ fist fight dissolve into one pulling his blaster on the other.

Kylo freezes both troopers place with the Force, the pulse of their fury coursing into him and making his hand tighten on his saber. He should behead both of them for behaving this way while on duty, but it’s the quintessence. He can feel it: it’s sunk into them, made them mad with directionless rage. He still wants to kill them, for being an inconvenience and because the quintessence seems to laugh with delight at the thought that he could easily end their lives, but he knocks them out and restrains them aboard the shuttle instead.

He does the rest of the work himself, and the whispers fall quiet, as if the request they were making has been appeased.

It’s far more intimate, leaning down close to the last of the quintessence and coaxing the threads and swirls of it into the containment system, hearing its hiss of resistance as it’s corralled. It’s beautiful; Kylo has always thought so. Watching the quintessence coat the massive kyber crystals within Starkiller will be like witnessing a rare celestial event, like the birth of a black hole.

It speaks to him again only as the last of it surrenders, and now that he’s so close he doesn’t fear to hear it what it’s saying.

Find the path.

Mind the way.

Harrow the wound.

Help is coming.

None of these phrases mean anything in particular, not yet, but Kylo lets them roll around in his head like marbles on the baseboards of his mind. The messages were delivered not in words so much as impressions, and Kylo’s attempts to assign language to them makes a different kind of noise. He’s not meant to understand either melody or how they intersect-- This is a message he carries for someone else, for another time. He is but a vessel and there is peace in the dark tunnel where the whispers take him, until finally he hears another voice entirely.

“I think you need to go to medbay.”

Kylo turns from the mouth of the cave he’d wandered into and sees Hux staring at him, frowning.

“What?”

“Medbay!” Hux says, shouting this in Kylo’s face as if he’s hard of hearing. “You’re always loopy after these things but today you’re really-- It’s like you’re not all here, so where’s the rest of you?”

Kylo looks down at himself. He’s naked, sitting in the tub in his quarters. Hux is leaning over the edge of the tub, holding the showerhead in one hand and a dripping washrag in the other. There’s soap on Kylo’s chest, and his hair is wet. The showerhead is pointed at the tops of his feet while Hux holds it. The water is warm, the air steamy.

Kylo doesn’t remember-- The last thing he remembers-- Something about a wound--

“I’m fine,” he says. “Just-- Continue, please.”

He comes back to himself a little more with every deep breath he takes while Hux’s hands work on him, cleaning away the grime from the caves and the dirt-choked wind on that planet with the dark-pulsing heart. Hux mutters under his breath, asking rhetorical questions about how Kylo managed to get this dirty under all of his heavy coverings. He scrubs even harder than he usually does, until Kylo’s skin feels reawakened to a singing burn.

“You’ll be relieved to know that the stormtroopers who accompanied you will make a full recovery,” Hux says when Kylo is stretched out in his bed, flexing his fingers and feeling as if he just woke up in his body after a long time away. Hux is across the room, consulting his comm, wearing his undershirt and pants and looking so human like this, in the dimmed light of Kylo’s bedroom. He’s already taken his boots off. His socks are black.

“What was the diagnosis for the troopers?” Kylo asks.

“What do you think? Same thing that was wrong with you when we had to shove you into a bacta tank. The quintessence poisoned them. I should have sent two teams and had them switch out halfway through the job. We’ll do that on the rest of these missions, even for the small deposits. As a precaution. It’s good you acted quickly. They might have killed each other.”

“Mhm.” Kylo can’t remember if he told Hux what happened. It’s possible Hux heard it secondhand, from the report the troopers gave when they woke up.

Hux lingers in the corner of the room, where he’s folded all the clothes he isn’t wearing in a neat stack as usual. He’s surveying Kylo as if he’s not sure that Kylo can see him doing so, openly and with concern all over his face.

“What’s it like, anyway?” Hux asks, looking back to his comm.

“What.”

“The harvesting. Being near to that stuff.”

“Ask your recovering stormtroopers. I don’t feel like explaining it to a layperson.”

Kylo doesn’t want to think about it, not now. He wants the fucking comb and Hux’s thigh under his cheek. The cleansing is incomplete.

“I was thinking,” Hux says, setting his comm down. He unbuckles his belt, and Kylo’s heart crawls up from some kind of pit where it was buried in muck. Into another pit, also full of muck but warmer. “I came up with the weapon design,” Hux says as he pushes his pants down. “And you found the planet with the crystals, the perfect home for my design. Snoke found the quintessence deposits.”

“I thought you didn’t like to waste time stating the obvious.”

“I do have a point!”

Hux glowers at Kylo and balances on his right leg while he pulls his left sock off. Though it’s not sexy, Kylo likes seeing this, and would swear he feels something like his lungs relaxing, as if some pressure around them has dissipated.

“What’s your point?” Kylo asks, watching Hux perform the same routine with his other sock.

“Forget it,” Hux says. He goes into the fresher, for the comb. “You don’t listen to me anyway,” he calls back. “That’s clear.”

Clear, Kylo thinks, and his eyes water. He closes them to hide it and feels the mattress dip when Hux takes up his place, sighing as if he hates this. He moves close enough to reach Kylo’s hair, lets Kylo bury his face against the side of his thigh.

“What were you going to tell me,” Kylo asks after Hux has worked several tangles out. “About--” He doesn’t want to say the words Snoke or quintessence here in their makeshift temple, during the cleansing. “The weapon.”

“Just that I had no objection when you contributed. Starkiller-- The planet-- It’s perfect, as I said. Snoke’s contribution felt more like interference.”

“But the quin-- We needed an energy source, something powerful enough to consume and convert a sun. Snoke found one.”

“Yes, I know. But it’s messy. I suppose I imagined something simpler.”

“Something you could control on your own, you mean.”

“That’s not what I said.”  

Kylo winces when Hux tugs hard on a tangle at the back of his head, close to his neck.

“You hate messes,” Kylo says, sliding his hand onto Hux’s thigh. Clinging. Stay, stay stay, he thinks, because Hux can’t read his mind and because it feels good to have a thought that’s solely his own. “The galaxy’s a fucking mess, Hux, and you think you can undo that.”

“I know I can.”

Kylo could reach into Hux’s mind to check the veracity of that statement. Does Hux even believe it, really, all the way down to the bottom of him, as far as Kylo could use the Force to go?

He falls asleep without looking even lightly.

**

Things progress as expected from then on, including the night before the final quintessence gathering mission, when Kylo knows as soon as he’s through Hux’s door that Hux expects to be fucked tonight. Hux has been obsessing over the thought for some days now, can’t wait any longer to know what it feels like to have so much of Kylo inside him.

“So,” Hux says when Kylo stands facing him, helmet off. “You, ah. You’ll expect to do your worst to me at last, I presume?”

“If you’ll allow me to.”

“Of course I will. I never shrink from duty. Come on, I’ve got everything laid out.”

Hux turns and goes into the bedroom. Kylo follows, feeling strangely petulant. He wants Hux, of course: he’s been burning with it since that kiss and has even planned some things to say while enacting the big climax of all of this. He’s never approached sex with mental notes for dirty talk before, not even with Hux, but he’s come up with a few things he knows Hux will appreciate, to keep them both in the game.

But something feels off as they undress on separate sides of Hux’s bed. Hux has showered, as usual. Kylo hasn’t. The room seems too quiet, like a waiting audience.

Hux kneels onto the bed and looks Kylo over, getting hard just from the sight of him. Without Kylo, Hux might never have let himself have this. He hates his sense of gratitude, never wants to owe anyone for anything. Being helped has only ever lead toward difficult, necessary betrayals.

“Are you nervous?” Kylo asks, putting one knee on the bed and stroking his cock, making himself fully hard.

“No,” Hux says. He’s not lying. “I enjoy a challenge.”

“Good, ‘cause, uh. You’re about to get one.”

Kylo considers opening with some of the remarks he prepared, but they’re mostly designed for the heat of the moment, when he’s already inside Hux. He crawls onto the bed when Hux does and gathers him close, presses him down to the mattress and looms over him.

“Poor Hux,” he says, touching Hux’s hot cheek. He was going to say something more, some taunting bullshit about how Hux is about to be ruined on his cock, but it slips away and he’s just stroking Hux’s cheek, feeling him shiver.

“I don’t need your pity,” Hux says.

“I know.” Kylo rubs himself on Hux’s thigh and watches Hux press up against the feeling, his lips parting around heated breath. “Got what you need right here.”

“That’s what you need. Emptying that monstrous thing all over me. I don’t need anything I can’t get for myself.”

“And you haven’t gotten me for yourself?” Kylo asks, thinking of the way Hux silently preens at the sight of Kylo’s hair when it’s silky and smooth, made right by his hands.

It was the wrong thing to say, but Hux seems more confused than upset or even defensive. He peers up at Kylo, searching his eyes.

“I don’t know,” Hux says. “Have I?”

Kylo flips Hux over, suddenly unable to stand the sight of his face. He moves down over Hux’s back, biting at the curve of his spine and then at the flesh of his ass, spreading his legs roughly with both hands. Hux radiates lust and excitement, all his cherished shame long gone now, even when Kylo pulls his hole open with both thumbs and licks into him, as deep as his tongue can manage. Hux cries out, presses back, languid with trust and want and relief. He only whimpers softly when Kylo’s first lube-slicked finger slides in. Hux feels so ready, relaxed and eager, unafraid. Kylo presses a second finger in anyway, teases and takes his time.

“Still so tight and clean,” Kylo says, flicking his tongue around the rim while he stretches Hux with both fingers, fucking him slow. “No matter what I do. But how’s it going to feel when my come is dripping out of you? What if I make you wait to wash it out, hold you down so you can feel it dripping out in little trickles all night long?”

These are some of the remarks he prepared. Hux presses his fist over his mouth and huffs his heavy breath against his knuckles, eyes closed and back arched.

Ready, he’s so ready.

Kylo should leave him like this, ruined for not having a cock up his ass. He should make Hux beg, should make him promise things in exchange for the undoing he needs so badly. Impossible things, like loyalty. He could make Hux admit how much he wants this, could make him say things that would haunt him and fester like a sickness when Kylo discards him.

“You’re so good,” he says instead, kissing his way up Hux’s spine. “Gonna get this little hole bursting with cock, Hux, finally. Fuck, you’re going to be straining, sweating, taking me.”

Hux nods and moans, twitching his ass back. He’s close to begging, toes curling.

“Are you going to let me make you wet and sticky inside?” Kylo asks. “Dirty?”

“I-- I will, I will--”

“Why, Hux?”

“Because-- Ah--”

“Tell me why and I’ll put this big dick inside you, just tell me, so I’ll know.”

“Because-- fuck! Because I’m good, I’m. A good boy.”

“That’s right,” Kylo says, so softly that he would roll his eyes at himself if he wasn’t also lining up his cockhead and easing his way inside. “Good boy,” he murmurs as he watches himself disappear into Hux’s ass, his hand soothing over Hux’s back while he clenches and gasps. Kylo sinks in slowly but doesn’t let up. Hux is ready for every inch of him, swallowing him to the root with hot, fluttering tightness. “So good.” Kylo’s voice is a breathy gasp now. He’s still pushing in. Hux is still taking him, making a croaking little noise of disbelief and inching his thighs apart, dropping into a deeper arch as if to make more room inside himself. “Good boy, Hux, almost there, ahh, yeah. Let me all the way in, that’s good.”

“Oh,” Hux says when he can feel Kylo’s balls against his split-open hole. “Oh, ah-- that’s--”

“Yeah,” Kylo says in answer. Hux loses his voice and just drools, trying to clench around Kylo but pulled open so wide that he can’t do much more than weakly twitch his rim. Kylo leans onto him and exhales, wrapping both arms around Hux’s jittering chest. “All right?” he asks, muttering this against Hux’s ear.

Hux nods and sinks down even further, resting his cheek against the bedsheets and letting his arms go completely limp. Kylo wants to kiss him and almost regrets this position, though it’s probably the easiest one on Hux’s ass. He skims his hand through Hux’s hair, which is growing sweat-damp. Nothing about his energy suggests pain, though there’s got to be at least a bite of it from the intensity of the stretch.

“Good boy,” Kylo whispers, and he hugs Hux more tightly against his chest when he shivers, the praise kissing over his skin like a balm. “So good, so tight for me. I’m unworthy, aren’t I?”

“Shut up,” Hux says. His voice is pinched, so it’s hard to tell, but there’s something sweet about this command. He turns his face against Kylo’s, sighs when Kylo licks his burning cheek. “You’re so big,” he mumbles, the corner of his mouth wet with excess saliva. Kylo licks it up and Hux moans. “I’m doing the galaxy a favor,” Hux says. “Containing you.”

“That’s right you are. You’re the only man for the job.”

Kylo rubs his thumb over Hux’s nipple and moans when Hux gasps, because he can feel it on his dick: that little gasp and every other minute motion, all of Hux closed around him and trembling in his grip.

“Could you come like this?” Kylo asks, his hand trailing down to Hux’s cock. He’s softened a bit, but he plumps back up in Kylo’s grip, shifting his hips and crying out when this drags his wide-open hole against the base of Kylo’s cock. “Hmm?” Kylo asks while Hux struggles to find words. “Think you could milk my cock with your hole, let me feel it from the inside?”

“I don’t know,” Hux says. He’s trying to fuck Kylo’s hand in tiny twitches like he wants to find out.

“Are you sure you even want me to come inside you?” Kylo asks. He probably shouldn’t have used the word want, but Hux is too far gone for this feeling to care much about their game now. “Think of where I’ve been, Hux. Where I come from. All that disorder and rebellion and thieving. It’s all deep inside you right now, making you so dirty.”

Hux whimpers and snaps his hips. They both moan for the feeling. Hux does it again and reaches down to wrap his fingers around Kylo’s, prompting him to move his hand faster and more tightly on his cock.

“You’re so filthy,” Hux says, reveling in it. He tries and mostly fails to reach Kylo’s lips with his tongue when Kylo covers his cheek in wet kisses. “So dirty, wanting to be in there. In me.”

“I need it, Hux, need to be right here, right fucking here--”

Kylo starts to thrust in earnest, still shallowly but with some weight behind it. Hux shouts and pushes up onto his hands again, rolling his hips back to meet every inward push.

“So good,” Kylo says, when he can’t really think, when his script is out the window. “Such a good boy, getting fucked by rebel scum.”

“Yes! Oh--”

“Good little General, taking a big Republic dick. For the cause, Hux, for your cause--”

“Yes, yes, I-- Don’t stop, don’t spare me, oh--”

“You’re gonna take that come, aren’t you? All of it, my big fucking load--”

Hux comes with a shout and Kylo is so taken off guard by the detonation of Hux’s climax that he follows right on his heels, fucking into Hux with frantic shunts as he spills. Hux spasms around him and coats his hand in come, his noises dissolving into tired little pants. Only when Kylo collapses on top of Hux does he realize how tense his thighs have become from holding back, from taking care not to slam into Hux the way he wanted to. Now his legs ache with a perfect painful aftershock that mixes with his mellowing pleasure as he breathes in the scent of Hux’s sex-sweat hair, his face buried in it.

“Gonna pull out,” Kylo says, softly, against the rim of Hux’s ear. He feels like he’s asking permission and waits for Hux to nod drowsily, giving it.

Leaning back to watch his spent cock slide from Hux’s sloppy hole along with a few fat globs of come is possibly the most erotic moment of Kylo’s entire life, and it’s a shame all he can do is groan and file the memory away for later wanking. He’s too drained from what just transpired to do anything more than slump down beside Hux and nudge him onto his side, so that they’re facing each other while they struggle to regain their breath.

“Your hair should always look like this,” Kylo says when he can talk again, dragging his fingers through the sweaty mess of it.

“That would surely command respect.”

Hux scoots closer and takes a short little breath, exhales through his parted lips. Wants to be kissed.

“You waited so long,” Kylo says, not sure why he isn’t kissing Hux instead of spouting bullshit. They both like kissing, and it’s not some big fucking deal. Not like holodramas make it out to be. Just part of sex. “Too bad you didn’t make it all the way to the grave without subjecting yourself to such good dick.”

“You can etch that on my memorial stone,” Hux says. His eyes are closed, the corner of his mouth twitching into an almost-smile.

“Here lies Armitage Hux, he once took cock.”

Hux laughs then, for real, and squirms closer.

Something in Kylo gets drop-kicked hard.

“Not yet?” Hux says, grabbing Kylo’s shoulder when he moves away. Hux opens his eyes just enough to blink at Kylo through his lashes.

“I was gonna get you a towel,” Kylo says, though he was going to dress and leave, because-- Because.

“Oh-- Yes. And, ah, while you’re up--” Hux moans and rolls onto his back, stretches his arms over his head. “My little conservator, in the main room-- There are some bottled juices in there. Would you get me one? The skulberry flavor, please.”

“You think having my come in your ass makes me your servant?”

“Yes,” Hux says, without any real bite. He smirks and rolls his cheek against his bicep, probably fucking knows how good he looks.

Kylo gets the towel, throws it at Hux. Then he gets the juice.

Watching Hux gulp from a bottle of fancy, non-regulation skulberry juice that he got from fuck knows where is strangely absorbing, like watching him take off his socks, or the look on his face when he’s concentrating on cleaning Kylo, so focused that his energy reads like the closest thing Kylo has felt to bliss.

“What?” Hux asks when he’s swallowed half the juice, newly breathless from gulping it. Kylo is standing naked near the bed, noting that Hux only gave himself a cursory wipe-down with the towel.

“Nothing. I’ll go, the mission starts--”

“No, fuck that,” Hux says, beckoning.

“The mission?”

“No, the-- Whatever else. I’m all for propriety but this posturing has gotten tedious. I’ll take my share of the blame for it, but I’m done with it now. Come here, do you want some?”

Hux holds up the juice bottle like this is easy for him, suddenly. Offering this.

“You must be thirsty,” he says when Kylo hesitates. “You worked up a sweat. I’d know, it’s all over me.”

Kylo kneels on the bed, shuffles forward. He takes the juice and throws his head back, swallowing the rest in two gulps. Hopes it was expensive. He gives Hux a victorious look when it’s gone, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.

Hux doesn’t look that impressed, just sleepy and well-fucked. He flops back onto his pillows and reaches behind him. Kylo’s mouth drops open when he realizes what Hux is doing: feeling himself, enjoying the slow trickle of come onto his thighs.

Kylo whips the empty bottle of juice away, hears it strike the wall behind him.

“Hey!” Hux says, but he doesn’t protest further when Kylo falls onto him and kisses him, and he only moans encouragement when Kylo reaches down to poke at Hux’s freshly used hole with two fingertips, still kissing him, letting Hux feel how wet his mouth gets as he smears his come in circles against the puffy rim.

They sleep soon afterward, the mission looming. Kylo dreams that he’s a tiny, bug-like creature at the bottom of a grimy puddle, drowning in it. Hux reaches in and scoops him out with one slender hand, murmuring praise as he brings Kylo’s filthy little bug body to the warmth of his cheek.

**

The final harvesting mission is one of the quickest ones, the collection process working smoothly now. Kylo implements the probably needless stormtrooper tag team procedure that Hux ordered and only hears the quintessence speak to him once, when he’s sealing up the last of it.

He doesn’t love you.

He will betray you.

You can’t trust him.

**

He’s on his way back to his rooms, he thinks. It’s hard to say, like someone has jammed a metal spike into his brain and he’s trying to think around it. Then Snoke touches a bolt of electric pain to the base of the spike, sending reverberations outward and crumpling Kylo against some anonymous wall in a hallway of the Finalizer that he’s stumbled into.

Come to the holo chamber at once.

Kylo shouldn’t have expected to find Hux there with his usual sneer, didn’t really, but it still seems like the room is half empty when he stares up at Snoke’s holo projection and tries not to let his jelly legs compromise his posture. He’s not afraid, but the pain from that summons is still snaking through him like a charge he can’t dispel.

“The needed quintessence is harvested,” Snoke says.

“Yes, Supreme Leader.”

“You have done well, Kylo Ren.”

This is not what Kylo expected to hear. He swallows, lowers his eyes.

“Thank you, Master.”

“Quiet. I don’t require your gratitude. I sensed your struggle with the task, but, as the quintessence demanded, you faced your most dangerous fears.”

Kylo looks at Snoke again, attempting to keep his expression neutral. Maybe it’s pointless. Maybe Snoke knows all.

“Facing my fears is in service of the dark,” Kylo says when Snoke sits back and seems to be waiting for him to give some kind of testimony. “So I embrace the opportunity.”

“No,” Snoke says. “Not always.”

“I-- Master, forgive me. I don’t understand.”

“The quintessence is a dark energy that even we cannot fully control.  Weaponizing the energy tames it, but in its raw form it presents paths of destruction and invites those who encounter it to destroy themselves. You have done well to navigate this, keeping to the principles I have taught you even as you indulged impulses that might have lead to your ruin. Now we have what we need from the quintessence, captured for our purposes, and you can see the true path to your glory, I’m sure.”

Kylo nods once, bows.

**

There was a song Han Solo used to listen to: something about being a fool for love, about being crazy, I never worry, why should I?

Kylo smashes a messenger droid on the way back to his rooms, using his bare fists, then chops the wreckage to pieces with his lightsaber.

 

**

Hux is there when Kylo walks into the main room, leaning on the table that’s still pushed against the wall. He’s wearing his greatcoat like armor, but no gloves, no hat.

Kylo takes his helmet off, drops it.

“The quintessence spoke to me,” he says, feeling its message like a flare that’s burning wide and bright through his chest, setting off every alarm.

“What did it say?”

Hux stands up straight, squares his shoulders. The quickening of his heartbeat is like blood in water.

“It told me Snoke will betray me," Kylo says. "That I shouldn’t trust him.”

That he doesn’t love me.

If his true master hadn’t opened with that, Kylo might have thought--

But no. Hux does.

“I could have told you as much,” Hux says. “If I’d thought you would listen.”

He shrugs off the greatcoat, holds out his arms.

Later, under the quiet pull of the comb through his hair, Kylo wonders where the quintessence will lead them. What is darker than Starkiller? What destruction is more pure? He rubs his face against Hux’s thigh and tells himself, just as Ben once told himself about Snoke’s plans, that he’s not afraid to find out.

“You know I can feel it,” Hux says when it’s much later and the room is lightless. They’re pushed down under the blankets together, humid and close.

“Feel what?”

“When you’re rooting around in my mind.”

“What-- Why-- I don’t believe you.” He does, actually. He feels like he’s known for a while now. “Why would you let me?”

“I always want to find out what you’re looking for.”

Kylo thinks that might be the key to his fears about the quintessence: go looking, and you’ll let what you’re searching for in. He smiles, though it shouldn’t be funny. He can feel Hux smiling, too: first in his mind, then against his lips. Hux can’t possibly understand. He’s touched the quintessence only through Kylo. But he kisses like he always has, like he understands everything.

 

**