“Mitaka killed Snoke.” Phasma stared at Hux from across the table with a deadpanned voice and piercing eyes. “Major Mitaka.”
No one was sure if being able to see her face was more or less intimidating than when it had been hidden behind a mask.
When the woman turned her gaze to Dopheld as if asking for a second confirmation, he cleared his throat. Dopheld ignored the way Mandetat raised his eyebrows at him in teasing delight or the way Hux and Ben watched him to see if he’d say anything. Dopheld regretted following Hux and the others up the stairs. Unamo and Thanisson had had the right idea staying downstairs in the workshop and finishing up paperwork.
“Yes, he did,” Hux confirmed, brushing past Dopheld’s discomfort and answering before he stumbled. The man took a sip from his cup of tea and set the cup back into its saucer. “I believe he was one of the few of our party in his right mind at the time, what with Ben lost in anger and myself brainwashed.”
Ben kicked his feet onto the coffee table hard enough to clatter a few spare parts he’d brought upstairs from the workshop last week. The man sunk into the couch cushions, annoyed, but he did not correct Hux.
The irritation, however, was enough to rattle Dopheld’s nerves. The man already disapproved of Phasma’s presence. Ben had his lightsaber in his hand, tapping the end against the couch cushion in a steady rhythm. Hux’s slight at the man’s temper did not help the Jedi’s poor mood.
One person had already been shot in the apartment—it’d be best to calm the room.
“I also had a ysalamir with me,” Dopheld said. His cheeks heated and he swallowed again. He picked up a piece of fruit and peeled it, his nail digging into the rind twice. “That was a major advantage in keeping myself concealed while everyone fought and were too distracted to notice me.”
“Neutralizing the Force is a rather steep advantage,” Hux added. He smiled like a proud and loving parent. “My girls are wonderful for that.”
Ben kicked the table again.
Phasma tapped an index finger on the table. “I see.”
“And yourself?” Hux asked. He held the teacup with both hands. “How did you escape the burning Finalizer?”
“I knocked out a rebel and stole their shuttle,” Phasma said. She looked at Ben across the table and laced her fingers together, sitting up straight. “I will not be apologizing for that.”
“But you did come to apologize for something,” Ben said, flipping his lightsaber handle and catching it. “Which we haven’t heard yet. You’ve only asked us about what we did after the New Republic defeated the First Order.”
“Would you mind if Hux and I spoke alone?” Phasma folded her hands in her lap and looked at the table. “I must confess, I had not expected the audience.”
“Whatever you have to say to him, you can say to all of us,” Mandetat said. Dopheld jumped at the sudden voice, expecting Ben to be the one to disagree. Mandetat adjusted his hat. “How do we know you’re not here to kill him?”
“I have no intention of harming the General,” Phasma answered. “However, my words are for him alone.”
“We’ll compromise,” Hux said. He stood and collected the empty cups, carrying them into the kitchen. As he passed, he turned to Dopheld and Mandetat. “You two will go downstairs, Ben will stay, and we’ll have our little chat.”
Phasma glared at Ben on the couch and he returned it.
“I’m going to tell Ben what you said later, so we might as well save some time and let him hear it first hand,” Hux said, continuing his conversation over the tension. “Does that sound fair?”
“I don’t like it, but if that’s what you want,” Mandetat said. “I guess we will excuse ourselves.”
He grabbed Dopheld’s arm and dragged him toward the door.
“Come get us when you’re finished,” Dopheld called. Mandetat slammed the door to the small apartment closed and shoved Dopheld down the steps. “Are you alright?”
“I don’t like this.” Mandetat slowed his steps and leaned closer. He touched Dopheld’s arm and held it. “She shouldn’t be here.”
“I think it’ll be all right,” Dopheld said. He took Mandetat’s hand and squeezed. “But come on, the floors are thin. We can listen in for trouble downstairs if it’ll make you feel better.”
Mandetat laughed and Dopheld took that as a good sign.
Hux was glad to see Phasma.
Despite it all, he was.
“I am sorry about the tension,” Hux said. He cleared his throat and returned to the table, however he took the side next to her instead of across. Ben pouted further and Hux dutifully pushed forward with his attention on his old captain. “They have become overprotective as of late.”
“It’s alright,” Phasma said. “I understand where they are coming from, and if anything, I find myself jealous of them.”
“They were able to stay loyal, when I did not. For that, I must apologize to you,” Phasma said. She looked Hux in the eye for a long moment and inhaled, steadying herself. Phasma sat straighter in her seat, assuming an attention position in the chair. “If I had not let my emotions get the best of me, we may have been able to salvage the battle. The First Order collapsed in on itself and I am partly to blame for supporting Rodinon over you.”
“I have a suspicion that the First Order would have fallen, with or without the mutiny,” Hux said, speaking into the table. Organa would never have given up. She won the moment Hux failed to kill her. Who knew their personal squabble would decide the fate of governments? “And I forgive you. Between myself, Ben, and Thanisson, we’ve gathered a rather mismatched collection of betrayers.”
“All the same, I should have trusted you,” Phasma said. She dug her fingers into the fabric of her pants, twisting the fabric in her grip. “I should never have assumed you betrayed us for the New Republic for your lover, even if I always knew that man was your weakness.”
“Weakness?” Ben asked. “What do you mean by that?”
“When you two started sleeping together on the Finalizer, the General changed,” Phasma said. Hux stared at her while she stared down Ben across the room. “The man was in love, which is not something a man in his position could afford in a group like the First Order.”
“All the better we shut it down, then” Ben said. He flipped his lightsaber again and caught it between two fingers. “So if you came to ask Hux to come back to the First Order or try and start it again, that is never going to happen. The Empire and the First Order are dead—let them stay that way.”
He touched his temple where the pain of his headache continued to grow. He still loved his Order, but it was over.
He’d accepted it.
“I didn’t come for that,” Phasma said. She looked at Hux and narrowed her eyes. “I came to warn you.”
“About what?” Ben asked.
“There are rumors that a Jedi was headed to Arkanis to hunt down Hux,” Phasma said. She lowered her eyes and spoke soft, slow, and voice full of anger—though Hux could not figure out to where it was directed. “After failing him on the Finalizer, I could not let him die out in the middle of nowhere to a New Republic dog.”
Hux snorted and covered his face.
“It’s no laughing matter, Sir,” Phasma said. She slammed a hand on the table and pointed at Ben. “I know you have a Jedi of your own, but he is not infallible. Do not make light of the situation.”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that,” Hux said. He wiped the corner of his eye and smiled at the woman. “It’s just, I already shot the Jedi in question.”
She looked at Ben, who shrugged and nodded. “He did.”
The woman cracked a smile, almost as proud and fond as when she’d declared that every Stormtrooper left in the First Order had declared their loyalty to Hux. “Of course you did. Good work, sir.”
“Don’t encourage him,” Ben said. He climbed off the couch attached his lightsaber back to his belt. “We barely saved the guy and Armitage does not need the name ‘Jedi Killer’ attached to him.”
“Of course,” Phasma said. “That’s your name.”
Hux smiled and reached over to touch Phasma’s arm. “I did miss you.”
Phasma put her hadn’t over his and squeezed. “I missed you, too, Sir.”
The warmth from her touch released the tension from his shoulders. He let go of her and reached behind him to grab Ben’s hand. He squeezed it before kissing the back. “Jedi killer did have a nice ring to it.”
“I’m not answering to that,” Ben said. He ruffled Hux’s hair and waved at Phasma. “She’s not staying here, by the way. The workshop is already too crowded.”
“Then you’ll be glad to know I have plenty of room to sleep in my shuttle. I wouldn’t want to stay under the same roof as you anyway,” Phasma said. She got up from the table and gathered her mask and belongings. “I heard enough while stationed on the Finalizer and Starkiller.”
Ben gaped and Hux laughed.
Oh, it was good to have her back.