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A Lovely Planet

Chapter Text

Ben and Armitage settled on Arkanis in a small place of their own located in the busy Scaparus Spaceport.

It wasn’t Ben’s first choice, but it was only fair that Armitage was allowed to pick the planet they’d be staying on when he agreed to let Ben open a repair shop in order to make their living since he stepped away from the Jedi for a break.

“How is this planet not an ocean with the amount of rain it gets?” Ben asked, staring out the window. He tapped his diagnostic datapad against his shoulder and huffed. “It pours down rain every two to three days like clockwork, and drizzles the rest of the time. I’m surprised everyone isn’t waterlogged.”

“You’ve said something along the same lines nearly every day for the past three months that we’ve been living here,” Armitage said, kicking the back of Ben’s leg with his heel as he passed by. A streak of oil smeared on his cheek transferred to his fingers when he rubbed away a loose strand of hair. “Now stop complaining and help me with this stupid hyperdrive you said we’d finish in a week.”

“We can finish it in a week,” Ben said. He abandoned the window and returned to the work table in the middle of the hanger. A compact shuttle sat to the left, waiting for the return of its internal components. “Easy.”

“I beg to differ,” Armitage said. He tapped the side of the drive and put a hand on his hip. “We’re missing four major replacement parts, and you’re new which means no one wants to trade with you yet. How are we going to get what we need in time?”

“I’ll use the Force,” Ben said, raising his eyebrows. “Instant trust.”

“While I do love it when you’re devious, what would your Uncle say about such an abuse?” Armitage said, shaking his head.

“Probably nothing,” Ben said. “As long as I don’t steal anything and pay them what they ask, I don’t think they’ll care I influenced a few merchants into selling me products.”

“As long as I don’t have to answer the comm when he wants to lecture you about the proper uses of the Force and this client pays us, then do as you like.” Armitage picked up a rag and wiped off his face. He tossed it into a bucket and tapped across the room. “But speaking of trade, we’re short on a few things so I think I’m going to step into the market.”

“Can you pick up some Jogan fruit while you’re out?” Ben asked. “I was thinking of making a cake like we used to have on Coruscant. I saw some in the market the other day and forgot it was native to here.”

There had to be something good on this planet to offset the awful weather.

“I can do that,” Armitage said. He walked over and kissed Ben on the cheek before he grabbed his coat at the hanger door. “Play nice with Mitaka and the others.”

“Yes, dear,” Ben said, snorting.

He could play nice by avoiding them. How on earth Mitaka, Mandetat, Unamo and Thanisson managed to purchase a house down the street from Ben and Armitage’s home, he’d never know. Someone got money somehow, and while he suspected Armitage helped them, though the man in question claimed he had no hand in it.

What Armitage did help with though, was securing Mitaka and Unamo jobs working the front desk and keeping the small repair shop’s books straight, while Mandetat and Thanisson did odd jobs around the port. When they weren’t working, they were loitering around the shop, thus requiring Ben to “play nice” as it were.

Ben yawned and stretched before licking the side of his teeth. He lifted the hyperdrive with the Force and spun it lightly. Armitage wasn’t wrong; they’d done all they could without those last few parts. Putting it back down, he tapped across the hanger and entered the front welcome area.

Mitaka read a magazine at the front counter, while Unamo typed notes at the main console, cross-referencing her datapad. Mandetat and Thanisson weren’t in sight, which meant they must have been working at the docks.

“Any new customers?” Ben asked.

Mitaka looked up and shook his head. “Not today.”

Unamo didn’t pause in her typing. “I imagine we won’t have regular customers until word of mouth spreads further among the regulars who live in the port.”

“Fair enough,” Ben said. They weren’t wrong, either. Scaparus Spaceport wasn’t the same level as Mos Eisley, but trust was still hard to earn and it took a while for businesses to gain traction in places with such a transient population coming in and out through ships. He reached back and pulled his hair out of its ponytail. “Hux went out to the market, and I’m finished with everything we’ve got on the table. I’ll be upstairs if you need me.”

“Yes, sir,” Unamo said.

Leaving the two of them to man the desk for the next couple of hours they were open, Ben pushed through the side door of the lobby and into the stairwell that ran up the side of the building. Tapping up the steps, Ben was happy to retire to their small, but humble home.

Their place was an open air loft with a space for their bed and personal effects on the upper floor. It was small but airy and more than enough room for just the two of them. But more importantly, it had a skylight and a spacious roof with a large shed.

No one had been happier than Ben when he won the rock-paper-scissors match for whether or not Armitage's ysalamiri would stay on the roof or in the house. Ben had won fair and square (without using the Force!), and Armitage had relented in agreeing to keep the Force-blocking animal upstairs most of the time.

Together with Mitaka, Mandetat and Ben, Armitage had built a secure little house for Millicent and her sisters on the roof, tucked away and out of sight in the shed. He fed them twice a day, and thankfully, they were just far enough away that their Force blocking bubble didn’t reach into their home above the hanger.

Plucking a cup off the rack on his kitchen counter, Ben fixed himself a cup of coffee and sipped it. He watched out the window at the rain that continued to pour and smiled.

The weather was awful, but he could learn to like it here.

Hux adjusted his hood as he tapped through the puddles collecting on the main street in the center of the port. A bag of Jogan fruit tapped against his side, as he hurried along. He still needed to pick up a few other things for baking (he appreciated Ben made plans, but he never prepared—they did not have enough ingredients around the house for a cake) before he could get to his own errands.

Hopefully the local drugstore still had a few packs of the painkillers he preferred. The daily migraines were just manageable with medication, and Hux shuddered to think what they’d be like if he missed a dose. Down to his last few pills, he didn’t dare risk running out.

If the pain from his head didn’t kill him, Ren surely would when he found out Hux was still suffering from headaches and had kept it a secret.

Hux stepped into the nearest market door and nodded at the man behind the counter. He received a grunt and a raised eyebrow in response, which was as good a greeting as he was going to get still so new to the neighborhood.

That first week after the death of Snoke had been rough. Hux’s memories played on loop in his mind, the events swapping back and forth between what really happened and the play-like script Snoke had written. Getting them confused was the least of Hux’s worries as he battled the pounding headache that lingered over it all like a hammer constantly beating his brain. Ren had done something with the Force to make the migraines go away, which worked for a short spell, but they returned soon enough about a week later.

Instead of bothering the man again with the weakness, Hux hid it with drugs. He was dependent enough on Ren for enough things that adding his personal comfort to the list turned Hux’s stomach the wrong way. He thanked the stars Ren wasn’t observant with domestic tasks, which made hiding the extra pills he popped rather easy.

Though Mitaka had noticed, and had been rather adamant about Hux doing something about it.

“If it’s still hurting you, maybe you should tell Ben,” Mitaka had said. He looked over his shoulder, just in case the Force user was around, and whispered. “What if something is wrong?”

“Of course something is wrong,” Hux said right back. “Snoke took my brain and rewrote it. The only way I can see Ben fixing that is him going in to do the same thing, and frankly, I’d rather not go through it again even if I do trust Ben.”

“But what if it gets worse?”

“Then I’ll tell him,” Hux said.

And he’d kept his word. The pain had stayed constant, but it hadn’t worsened. As long as the painkillers kept it at bay, Hux was more than happy to keep it to himself until it left on its own (surely it had to).

The cashier gave Hux his total and he collected his bag of cooking supplies and made sure the top of the plastic was secure before stepping back out into the rain. It pattered against his hood in a relaxing pattern and Hux breathed in the moist air.

Arkanis was so relaxing; he had no idea how Ben could hate this rain. The steady beat grounded everything in white noise that Hux dearly missed in space.

The water splashed around his boots, wetting the fabric of his leggings and the bottom of his tunic as he turned the next corner toward the drugstore. People milled about and talked as he passed by, most of them minding their own business. Hux appreciated that about Arkanis. This whole planet had been through so much over the years, people learned to keep to themselves.

Hux did a bit of mental math in his head to juggle his expenses and to make sure that Ben wouldn’t notice the drugs taking a bite out of their budget, which is why he wasn’t paying complete attention when he knocked into another gentleman.

“Excuse me,” Hux said absently.

In another life, he would have had the man thrown in the brig for daring to be in his way, but here on Arkanis, he was nothing more than a civilian. So he played the part, even if it killed him inside.

“Watch where you’re going.”

Hux stopped dead in the street, eyes wide. He knew that voice. That gruff, awful voice that haunted his worst nightmares and made him feel like a scared ten year old with every syllable.

“Father?” Hux asked, turning his head and staring straight into a matching pair of blue eyes.

Chapter Text

Hux lit a cigarette, shaking fingers catching on the cheap lighter he’d stolen from the table along with the pack of smokes when he ran through the inside of the bar to escape. He sucked in a mouthful of smoke and dropped his head hard on the back wall of the seedy bar, jostling his thoughts back into place. The smoke covered the stench of the alley.

He’d ran.

Like a literal child, Hux had taken one good look at his father and the second that recognition lit up the older man’s eyes, Hux sprinted in the opposite direction.

His boot kicked against the bag of groceries he’d held onto by some miracle and knocked it over. Hux cursed and put it right side up, making sure no water snuck in from the puddle.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Hux hissed to himself. He should have been dead. So many members of the First Order had turned on each other, that someone (surely someone!) had to have bumped off his father in the power change. But no, Brendol Hux was apparently right as rain and settled on a planet known for it. “Of all the places he could be hiding out.”

It made sense in a way; Arkanis was his home planet, where he’d created that damned school of his. It was such an obvious place for him to return to, that no one would think the old man would actually do it.

Hux groaned and dug the base of his palm into his forehead. The smoke wafted up, dispersing into the rain just beyond the overhang he’d taken shelter under.

“I should have confronted him,” Hux said. He closed his eyes and slumped against the wall. “Or at least figured out where he was staying so I could avoid it like the plague.”

Worst of all, Hux never looked over his shoulder to see if his father had followed him, or made any attempt to keep up with where Hux was going.

“Shit.” Hux smashed his cigarette out on the wall behind him. All his father had to do to find Hux was ask around for a redheaded man in the area. That would lead him right to Ben’s little repair shop and then he’d have to deal with the man. Running away had been entirely pointless. Hux glared at the blaster under his coat. “I should have just shot him.”

Hux picked up his bag of groceries and pulled his rain hood back over his head. He left the alley and tapped back toward home. He needed to tell Ren what was going on. There was no telling why Hux’s father was on planet, and who knows what that man could do.

Even if he was in hiding, the man was still dangerous. He was ruthless, devious, and there was no question that he was armed to the teeth. Because above everything else, he was cowardly—which meant he’d always shoot first. If he made his way back to the shop, there was no telling who he’d hurt.

Hux’s steps slowed until he returned to a thoughtful walk. His father was dangerous, but so was Ren. The man may have “retired” from his Uncle’s service, but the man was still (more or less) a Jedi and had the Force under his command and a lightsaber.

Brendol Hux wouldn’t be able to touch Ren.

“I bet Ben would kill him if I asked,” Hux said, halfway to himself.

And wasn’t that a pretty picture: Kylo Ren in his full glory, slicing down Brendol Hux with the same ferocity as he used to tear apart rebels. True, his lightsaber was now blue and the man no longer used his warrior name, but all the same, Hux’s lover could still fight with the best of them. He’d taken down the Knights of Ren with barely any effort.

Hux could adjust his daydream if need be.

He almost smiled, steps picking up. Maybe he should look forward to Brendol Hux arriving and causing trouble. The second he lifted a blaster, Ren would make short work of him.

Hux pushed his hood back as the rain returned to a light drizzle. Perhaps he ought to show off his hair a bit more, and let the bait be set further. If he was lucky, Ren would kill his old man and Hux wouldn’t even have to see him. Wouldn’t that be delightful?

Then Ren would really have a reason to make cake. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate if Brendol Hux kicked the bucket?

“Most wanted men with hair that bright would hide it,” a voice said alongside the hum of a lightsaber. Hux felt the heat burn at his cheek, and he turned his eyes to see the bright yellow glow. The voice laughed. “I can’t tell if I admire your boldness, or if you’re just stupid.”

If Ben had remembered that it was almost the ysalamiri’s feeding time, he wouldn’t have asked Armitage to pick up sweets so the man could have gotten home sooner and do it himself. Ben had checked on Armitage a bit ago, and the man was still in the market to his regret, and the little monsters were already reaching their limit for waiting on a late dinner.

He trudged up the stairs with the bucket of the syrupy mixture Armitage had taken to mixing up every night, careful not to slosh the contents over the edge and onto his floor. As part of the agreement of those monsters living on the roof, Ben promised that he’d take care of them when Armitage wasn’t home, so there was no avoiding it. The sticky goo smelled too sweet, almost like something rotting, but the little brats lapped it up like they couldn’t get enough so Armitage must have done something right when he mixed it.

Ben stomped onto the roof, wincing into the spitting water as it drizzled over his hair. He grunted, letting it wet his hair as he opened the door to the shed.

He shivered as he walked into the door, still not used to his sixth sense being cut off with such a firm finality whenever he was in the presence of those lizards. The sensory deprivation reminded Ben of his time in that cell on Armitage’s ship, slowly going mad from the lack of his most important senses.

Ben still had yet to admit to Armitage how awful that entire ordeal had been; a literal torture that extended over four months.

He shook his head. There wasn’t time to linger on that when Armitage’s little brats were yelping and screaming, waiting for their bucket. Ben set it on the edge of their small cage and dumped it over, spilling it over the open air top and into the large trough that ran along the length of the cage.

Millicent hit it first, shoving the others out of the way as they waddled to munch the goo. Ben blew his hair out of his face, before dropping the empty bucket on the side wall. Armitage would collect it when he brought the third batch up right before bed.

“You guys eat better than emperors,” Ben muttered under his breath. He closed the shed door behind him and headed back into the apartment downstairs.

His comm buzzed as he hit the kitchen and Ben tapped it. “Uncle Luke?”

“Hello Ben,” Luke said from the hologram. “I tried to contact you and you weren’t there.”

“I was feeding the ysalamiri,” Ben said, crossing his arms on the counter. Whatever his uncle wanted, it must have been urgent if he was using the Force to contact Ben. “Bad timing, I guess. Is there something wrong?”

“I wanted to give you a head’s up, because while I’d like for your companion to be arrested and taken out,” Luke said with a crooked smile, “I had a feeling if you found out later I knew this and didn’t tell you, that you’d be angry.”

“Get to the point, Uncle,” Ben said. “Is Hux in danger?”

“Maybe,” Luke said. He adjusted over on his end and straightened up. “Kyp Durron has sent his his followers out to clean up the last remaining dredges of the First Order to prevent them from turning into yet another Imperial imposter down the lines.

“With Hux running around freely with his hair exposed and not even attempting to hide his name, there’s a chance rumors might spread,” Luke said. “I’d keep an eye out for Jedi out for blood.”

“I will,” Ben said, crossing his arms. Durron’s group were pretty notorious for being aggressive about justice, so he wasn’t surprised by this, but it was still concerning. Ben tapped his fingers on the counter. “Thank you for letting me know.”

“Take care, Ben,” Luke said. The feed cut off and Ben blew out a breath. He’d have to let Hux know about that the second he got home.

“I think there has been some mistake,” Hux said, clearly and slowly over the buzzing of the saber. He clutched his grocery bag, squeezing the plastic. The people milling about the marketplace backed away from the display, and Hux calmed himself by focusing on the sound of the rain vaporizing into mist against the lightsaber blade. “Have we met?”

“Not personally, but that red hair of yours is pretty famous, Hux,” the man said. He stepped forward, turning his wrist to keep the saber burning near Hux’s neck. Blue and black robes flowed forward, and Hux followed them up to a handsome smile. A scar ran across one half of his face, but it took nothing away from the defined cheeks and bright blue eyes. Scruffy black hair finished it off and he grinned. “But I suppose I can introduce myself. I’m the Jedi responsible for cleaning up the last of the First Order filth, Ganner Rhysode.”

“A Jedi,” Hux said. He narrowed his eyes and clutched his bag harder. Weren’t all the Jedi supposed to be rare? First there was a Wookie with a lightsaber and now this man. Where were they popping out of the woodwork from? He hoped this one wasn’t good with mind reading and tried for a calm argument. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I think there’s been a mistake.”

“No mistake,” Ganner said. He flicked his lightsaber up an inch and it singed the edge of Hux’s bangs. He licked the side of his teeth and grinned. “Been hearing rumors for a few weeks that a red head named Hux was around the area, and there aren’t many of those around.”

“Are you sure about that?” Hux asked, testing the waters. “I believe I saw an older gentleman with red hair earlier. I’m hardly the only red head on the planet. I feel as though you should be sure of you’re threatening.”

“The fact you’re as calm as you are tells me more than I need to know,” Rhysode replied. “Not many people handle having a lightsaber in their face this well, save for perhaps maybe someone who used to work with the fearsome Kylo Ren. I bet watching that lunatic thrash around starships will numb even the lowliest grunt to a Force User until they start getting serious.”

Hux turned his head and pursed his lips. He hadn’t heard someone other than himself referring to Ren by that name any longer. It had Hux curious despite himself. “Kylo Ren?”

“Yeah, big scary knight with a red lightsaber,” Rhysode said. “Hard to miss him, even if he has decided to lie low with your little order disbanding.”

“Do you not know Kylo Ren is Ben Solo?” Hux asked, raising an eyebrow. Wishing Kylo Ren had been sincere didn’t make it so, and Ben would probably be hurt if he knew people were still calling him that after they killed Snoke. Hux swallowed his pride and shared. “I thought that made it through the Jedi grapevine when he helped take down Starkiller base.”

Rhysode raised an eyebrow, in an almost exaggerated gesture and lowered his lightsaber just enough that Hux no longer felt the heat. “Repeat that.”

“Kylo Ren was an act by Ben Solo in order to infiltrate the First Order and sabotage it from the inside,” Hux said. He shifted his hold on his groceries even as his insides threatened to eat him alive in old aches. “He betrayed the First Order. It was rather big news.”

“I think you’re lying to save yourself, Commandant,” Rhysode said. “By distracting me.”

“Commandant?” Hux asked, insulted. He stared openly at Rhysode, insulted that the man dare call him such a low rank when he—oh. Oh, he was he was here for Hux’s father. Getting Ren to kill Brendol Hux was the dream, but Hux wouldn’t be picky if another Jedi wanted to do it. Hux could work with this, so he lied. “I see what has happened here and you have definitely made a mistake, Lord Jedi.”

“Have I?”

“Yes,” Hux said. He swallowed. “I’ll come out with the truth, I did used to serve the First Order, but I’m not the man you’re looking for. You’re looking for Commandant Brendol Hux. He also has red hair and is much older. I can see how you’d make that mistake, going after a man less than half his age.”

“Well, the job is to clean up all the First Order scum, so even if I made a mistake, I still got lucky since you so kindly admitted your affiliation,” Rhysode said. “Works for me.”

“But not for me,” Hux said.

He mentally apologized to Ben for letting his plans for cake go to waste and whipped his grocery bag to the side, throwing it into the sizzling blade. The fruit and plastic distracted enough for Hux to duck and run, abandoning the bags.

“Hey!” Rhysode shouted. If he was a Jedi, he had the Force which meant Hux needed distance and good dodging skills. His time with Kylo Ren and Ben had to have prepared him for a bit of this! Hux grabbed the side of a wall and slung himself into an alley just as a box flew by him. Rhysode’s boots sounded on the ground as people scattered out of the way. “Get back here!”

“Not a chance of that,” Hux muttered under his breath. He kept sprinting toward his house. He had his own Jedi that could come to his defense, and if he got close enough, there was no way Ben wouldn’t notice his distress. Unless something was blocking the Force. Hux whined to himself, hating his babies for once in his life. “Oh, please don’t be feeding the girls, Ben.”

Thankfully, the man didn’t seem too skilled at human manipulation, as Hux had yet to feel his limbs or running hindered with the Force. But there were plenty of items and chunks of ground thrown his way to make it clear Rhysode meant business.

Hux had nearly made it to his home street when he tripped in a puddle deeper than it first appeared. He fell face first into the water, the splash drenching his face.

A boot dug into his back and the lightsaber was back at his neck. Rhysode hissed, “Don’t move, First Order scum. You’re going to tell me everything about your other comrades before I cut your head off.”

Hux closed his eyes and screamed Ben’s name as loud as he could in his head.

Chapter Text

Ben dropped his plate and grabbed his lightsaber with the Force. He threw open the balcony door with a whip of his hand, diving over the side and hitting the street with a heavy thud and the flutter of his tunic behind him.

The Force led him to where he wanted, two streets down and zeroing in on a man with a yellow lightsaber and familiar red hair in the puddle at the Jedi’s feet.

“Back away from him!” Ben yelled, splashing through the water slamming his saber on.

The other Jedi yanked his head and lightsaber up to catch Ben’s saber as it swung down. Ben pushed him away from Armitage and the other man hissed, “Hey! What are you doing?”

“I said to back away,” Ben said, shoving the other man back even farther. He kept pushing until his legs were completely in front of Armitage, already crawling up from the ground. The other man growled, but Ben stayed firm. “Who are you?”

“A Jedi doing my job,” the man said. He stepped back and swung his saber once downward, and Ben held his position in front of Armitage. “Who are you?”

“Ben Solo,” he answered. He lowered his weapon an inch but stayed at the ready. The other man looked well kept and had rich robes. Ben ran through his mental list of the Jedi he’d seen on his brief visits to the other faction, but he couldn’t place this man. Ben squared his shoulders and held his ground. “I take it you’re one of Durron’s followers.”

“Do you know him?” Armitage asked, shaking out his raincoat. “Because he’s been rather rude.”

“Not personally,” Ben said. “But I know of his Master and Luke told me that there were a few of Durron’s followers in the area, so it wasn’t hard to put two and two together.”

“I’m still right here, you know,” the other Jedi said. He pointed his lightsaber at Ben’s face and tilted his head, knocking damp hair into his eyes. “And if you’re really Ben Solo, what are you doing defending this First Order trash?”

“That’s a long story that I don’t think you have a right to,” Ben said. He could practically feel Armitage roll his eyes behind him. “But I can say if you try and hurt him again, I’m not going to go easy on you.”

“My job is to collect and dispose of the remaining First Order officers and followers that got away and I don’t even care if you are related to the great Skywalker and General Leia’s son, but you aren’t getting in my way,” the man said. “Step aside.”

“I think he’s a bit out of the loop,” Armitage added, crossing his arms. The rain plastered his red hair to his forehead, but he looked less shaken than he had before. Mud stuck to his cheek from the puddle. “He didn’t know Kylo Ren was you.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Ben said. It was rather inconvenient, however and Ben made a mental note to get all of this straight with Durron the second they were all in the clear. “Luke didn’t really have a lot of reason to tell anyone not directly related to the situation.”

“That seems like need to know considering people would still be hunting the fake you down otherwise,” Armitage said. He waved his hand toward the stranger. “Case in point would be him.”

“You two seem awfully cozy,” the man said. He looked between the two of them and returned his saber to an attack position. “Don’t want to believe the golden child of the Resistance is a traitor, but it’s not completely out of bounds now is it?”

Ben snorted. “If you think you can take me, you go right ahead and try but two things are absolute: I’m no traitor and you’re not hurting him.”

“We’ll see about that,” the man said. He swung his lightsaber in a circle once and charged.

Dopheld looked up from his magazine, and at the clock. “Did Hux come back yet? Wasn’t he just out on a quick trip for groceries?”

“I don’t believe so,” Unamo said. “He normally stops by through the office before he goes upstairs.”

“It’s not like him to be this late,” Dopheld said. He put his magazine down and got up from the desk. I heard Ben stomping up the stairs earlier to feed Millicent and the others, so he can’t have snuck in through the back, either.”

“You could go upstairs and see if he told Ben something?” Unamo said. She started the log out process on the computer and got up to put the closed sign on the door. “Maybe they had a mental conversation and he’s staying out late. He’s been known to do it on occasion.”

“And it would be just like Ben to not tell us,” Dopheld said. He huffed and headed to the side door. “I’m going to go check.”

Dopheld helped himself up the stairs, only giving a polite knock before he opened the door without waiting for an invite. Hux didn’t mind if Dopheld dropped by, and Ben could deal. He stepped into the room and found it empty, however.

“Ben?” Dopheld asked. He called out again, but it was easy to tell the man wasn’t there in such an open space. Dopheld checked on the roof again, but didn’t find the man with the Ysalamiri either. Dopheld called out again, “Ben!”

“Where did he go?” Dopheld asked, closing the door to the shed. The girls still had food, which meant he had to have fed them recently. Dopheld walked to the edge of the roof, and looked out over the streets. “Did we miss something?”

When Dopheld looked down, however, he noticed the mass of people running in the street. A few were decidedly running away from something, while others looked curious and headed in the direction others ran from.

Looking down the street, Dopheld saw small flashes of light in blue and yellow in the distance, that rather resembled small straight lines swinging. In other words, a lightsaber battle.

Dopheld ran back to the hatch into the house cursing under his breath. “Well, that explains where Ben went!”

Rhysode was a match for Ren.

Hux stayed pressed against the wall, avoiding the worst of the fight. Onlookers and gawkers had gathered around, giving the two men in the center of the street an arena of sorts. They cheered and made bets of all kinds with various people cheering for “that one mechanic who just moved in” and the “mysterious stranger.”

The only real benefit of this is when Ren won, business was sure to pick up when they all came to get a peek at the local Jedi.

Hux touched the side of his head as his painkillers started to wear off. He slipped his hand into his pocket and popped a pill dry without taking his eyes off Ren and Rhysode as they threw each other around with the Force, but both careful to keep damage to the surrounding buildings minimal.

Rhysode threw his hand up, throwing Ren back and into the nearest wall. So much for the collateral damage theory.

Ren returned in kind, jumping back into the fray with his lightsaber swinging. Rhysode ducked out of the way, moving so smoothly not even his flowing robes were singed by Ren’s swings. Hux had seen Ren go up against the Jedi girl and the Jedi Wookie, but Ren had always seemed so far above them.

Seeing someone match each of his hits, and to prolong the fight for near twenty minutes now was disconcerting.

The thought of Ren losing a fight to anyone who wasn’t on the level of Snoke was nearly unthinkable.

“At least you live up to your reputation!” Rhysode yelled, smiling as he backflipped away from Ben’s next swing. “For a few seconds I thought you were lying, but an imposter wouldn’t be able to keep up with me.”

“Certainly humble that one,” Hux muttered under his breath.This was going on far too long, and this man had to go. Hux could convince Ren to kill his father later; he didn’t need some random Jedi to do it. Hux cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Hurry up and kill him, Ben! You’re drawing this out far too long!”

“I’m not killing him!” Ren yelled back, half over his shoulder. His blue blade sparked against the yellow one that crashed into his. “So stop suggesting it!”

“This would go a lot faster if you did!” Hux called back.

“Why are you protecting him again?” Rhysode asked, mouth quirking into a smile. “He doesn’t quite seem to suit your goody-two-shoes roots.”

“Have you ever actually met my parents?” Ren responded, grabbing a rock with the Force and slamming it into Rhysode’s side, sending him flying into a group of bystanders. They responded by scrambling out of the way and Ren smirked. “My dad’s a smuggler, remember?”

“I suppose you’ve got a point there,” Rhysode said. He hopped to his feet and brushed off his rope. “Easy to forget when you grow up with all those lovely hero bedtime stories.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” Ren said. “I heard them, too!”

“This fight is never going to end,” Hux said under his breath. He reached up and wiped the mud off his cheek, shaking his fist off in the rain water. Hux’s father was still out there and this Jedi was doing nothing to help that problem if he was bothering Hux. And if he did give up on Hux, he’d go after Mitaka and the others. More convinced than ever that this needed to end, Hux tried yelling again: “If you two can chat, you can wrap this up!”

“You sure you’re not the commandant?” Rhysode yelled in Hux’s direction. “You sure like throwing around orders like one!”

Hux was starting to think Rhysode wasn’t aware of the other rather famous First Order man with red hair, and frankly, it was insulting.

Ben snorted, his mouth cracking into a smile and Hux gaped. “That wasn’t funny, Ben Solo!”

“I’m laughing at him, not you!” Ren said. He darted in front of Hux when Rhysode made a few steps in that direction. Ren licked his lips and attempted to look apologetic. “I’m just amused he knows who your washed up father is, but doesn’t recognize the head General of the First Order.”

“Don’t laugh at me! You’re the idiots!” Rhysode shouted back. He pointed at Hux and huffed. “He can’t be the General! General Hux is dead! The man went down with Starkiller base!”

“I forgot about that,” Hux said, mostly to himself. After he had returned to the Finalizer and reclaimed his position, it had slipped his mind that they had declared him dead after Starkiller base fell in order to avoid accusations that Hux was a traitor who’d ran off with Kylo Ren (What a morale drop that would have caused…and did when Hux actually did backstab them all—no, he had to focus on the now). “I suppose we were lying low there for a bit after I returned, so maybe the news I was alive hadn’t spread.”

Hux touched the back of his neck and looked to the side. “I suppose that explains why no one has come after my head sooner.”

Rhysode stood up straighter, dropping his weapon. He looked Hux over from head to toe before pointing his lightsaber straight at Hux, but he looked at Ren. “Are you telling me that’s the General of the First Order?”

“Whether he is or isn’t doesn’t matter if you’re still planning to try and kill him,” Ren said, stepping in front of the blade and cutting off Rhysode’s view. “He’s under my watch, and you are leaving this planet without touching him.”

“Part of me wants to go back and report to Durron and let him know the universe’s most wanted criminal is back from the dead,” Rhysode said. He turned his gaze toward Hux and smiled halfway. “The other half is wondering what the hell happened to make the Solo boy defend said most wanted criminal.”

Ren lowered his shoulders, one hand gripping into a fist. “I don’t think that’s any of your concern.”

Hux decided to nip this in the bud and shouted, “We’re sleeping together. It’s not that complicated.”

Ren turned to look at Hux, slightly irritated, but it was Rhysode’s response that really got their attention: He started laughing.

Chapter Text

“No, no, wait and go back,” Ganner said, holding his hand up. The man’s face was split into a smile from his near constant stupid grinning as Ren explained things. Hux wondered if his face hurt from being stretched so. Ganner pointed between Hux and Ren, still smiling. “You mean the son of the Rebellion heroes ran off to shack up with the First Order poster boy? That’s the most hilarious thing I’ve ever heard! It’s like straight out of one of those cheesy romance novels!”

Ganner continued to laugh, half doubled over as he sat at Ren’s dining room table. He slapped his hand against his leggings and snorted. He lifted his head and scrunched his nose before chuckling. “No! It’s worse! You’re like that stupid movie about the Jedi and that Empire stooge! The idiots who hooked up after the Death Star exploded and hid out on Tatooine until the Empire hunted them down and killed both of them. Only you two are still in the hide out phase, aren’t you?”

Hux had wondered how that movie ended. After the Alderaan explosion scene, he hadn’t really been watching the screen and they left the disc on Kashyyyk. Shame it ended poorly (though Hux wasn’t surprised).

Ren seemed less amused by the comparison.

“Are you done?” Ren asked, rubbing between his eyes. His shoulders drooped low, and his hair slipped out from his ponytail.

“Not in a million years, but you can talk,” Ganner said, leaning back in his chair. He looked over his shoulder at Mitaka, holding Gertrude up on his shoulder. Ganner shrugged and crossed his ankles under the table. “Not like we can do much else with that hanging around.”

“Keeps things fair,” Ren said. He reached across the table and picked up a piece of fruit. He snapped it open with his thumb and ate half a slice. “Not like I enjoy it any more than you do.”

“Let’s get back to the point,” Hux said. He folded his arms on the table and glared at Ganner. Pleasantries aside, there was only room on this planet for one Jedi, and Hux already had one. “You’re here to kill First Order officers and runaways?”

“Or take them in if they surrender,” Ganner said, glancing at Mitaka. Hux drew his hands into fists on the desk. That man would not be leaving this planet with a captive if Hux could help it, and he was glad that he’d sent Unamo away to keep an eye on Mandetat and Thanisson in their apartment during all of this. The less in range, the better. Ganner licked the side of his teeth, and straightened his hair. “But considering I’m hunting down high level threats, I doubt they have that option.”

“And who did you come here for?” Ren asked. He tossed the rind of his fruit into the center of the table. He wiped the leftover juice off his fingers on a napkin. “Specifically.”

“Commandant Brendol Hux,” Ganner said, confirming what Hux already knew thanks to the earlier mix up. He held a hand up and waved his finger around in a small circle. “I was told he was an angry redhead, and not much else.”

“Surprised they didn’t give you a picture,” Hux said, but that would have been too convenient. “He had enough portraits commissioned, there had to be one somewhere for you.”

“You would be surprised how much First Order stuff got destroyed,” Ganner said, shrugging lightly. He snatched the second half of Ren’s fruit and ate it. “But I was assured I couldn’t miss him.”

“And yet here we are,” Hux said, glancing at Ren. The man had his hands under the table and a slight twitch in the corner of his eye, but he was behaving. “Thanks to your mistake because you jumped to assumptions.”

Ganner sucked on the edge of the fruit. “To be fair, you are a high ranking First Order officer.”

“Was,” Ren said. “Hux was a First Order officer. Now he’s a civilian.”

Hux barely contained the hurt flinch at the declaration.

“He’s still accountable for all the atrocities he committed,” Ganner said. He ate the last of it and threw his rind over his shoulder at Mitaka. Gertrude snapped her head out and caught the rind, eating it greedily. Mitaka barely kept her in his arms as he stumbled to catch it. Ganner continued as if the chaos in the background hadn’t happened and stared Hux in the eyes. “Every bit as guilty as his father is.”

“I am aware and he’s under my jurisdiction and as far as I’m concerned, he’s suffered enough,” Ren said, leaning forward to shove himself into Ganner’s line of sight. “The red head who was spotted around here is not the one you were sent to find, so you can leave with a clear conscious.”

“Actually,” Hux said, clearing his throat. “My father is on planet.”

Both Ganner and Ren turned to stare at Hux and he wondered if he spoke too soon.

Maratelle knocked back the last of her wine from her third glass and slumped in her chair. Brendol dear paced across the room, wearing a hole in their nice carpet with his thick boots, the last of the mud from outside long since knocked off. Maratelle tsk’ed to herself. It’d be an awful shame if even after the Hux estate remaining untouched from vandalism all these years went to waste because its owner was careless with it.

“Are you going to say what’s bothering you, are you going to continue to stew in silence?” she asked, reaching for the wine bottle. She refilled her glass and sipped from the fresh cup. “The market couldn’t have been that bad.”

Brendol dear stopped in his tracks and turned to Maratelle. He stared at her for a moment, as if he’d forgotten she was even in the room (fair enough; she hadn’t exactly said hello when he walked in). He shook his head and huffed. “I saw. I thought I saw Armitage in the market.”

“Armitage?” Maratelle said, pulling her glass away from her face. A flash of cold eyes worse than Brendol dear’s entered her memories and she swallowed. She tapped her finger on the edge of the glass. “I thought he was dead?”

“I did, too,” Brendol dear said. He licked his lips, an odd look on his face appeared: Like he was attempting to feel some emotion like grief or remorse, but didn’t know how to process it. “But I know who I saw.”

“Did he say hello?” Maratelle asked, swirling the wine around her cup. The thick of it stuck to the edges of the glass.

It was hard to picture little Armitage willingly exchanging pleasantries, but who knew what could happen in this fallen age after the death of their precious Order?

“He ran,” Brendol dear said, ending his pacing. The man ran his hand through greyed hair, breathing in and out slowly as he usually did to calm his temper. He sniffed and straightened the edge of his lapel, staring at the wall. “Sprinted in the other direction like he’d never been more scared in his life.”

Maratelle snorted into her next sip. She could just picture that: Tiny Armitage with wide eyes he hadn’t had in ages, sprinting away to his room and locking the door. She licked the side of her lip where it had spilled. “Lucky you, dear.”

“Is it?” Brendol dear collapsed in his chair across from her. He slumped and rubbed the side of his face. “He’ll come to his senses eventually and be embarrassed he ran, then he’ll get angry, and eventually he’ll figure out that he’s got the upper hand. That boy’ll be back, I can feel it.”

“Or he’ll pretend it never happened,” Maratelle said. She refilled her glass yet again. The room wasn’t swaying enough for this conversation. Not when Brendol dear’s tiny spawn was involved. “I wouldn’t put that past him either.”

“Then I guess there’s nothing we can do about it but wait,” Brendol dear said. He waved his finger at the wine bottle. “Pour me one of those.”

“As you wish,” Maratelle said. She filled a second goblet and handed it across. He took it and swallowed deeply. Maratelle sipped her own and closed her eyes.

If little Armitage did decide to pay a visit, she wanted to be well rested for it.

“Look, I didn’t stick around, alright?” Armitage said, arms crossed and face to the side. He huffed and a light dusting of pink showed on his ears and upper cheeks. “I saw him, I turned around and left. I hardly ever wanted to see him while I was in the First Order, so why would I want to see him now that I’m out?

“Besides,” Armitage added, “I was on my way back to tell you I saw him when this brute decided to attack me, so don’t you dare say I was hiding it.”

The slight flare of his nostril and the way he tilted his head up told Ben Armitage had at least considered hiding this information if he hadn’t run into Rhysode, but he put that aside for now.

“Alright, so now that we know, you and I can take care of that,” Ben said. He turned to Rhysode and tapped his finger on the table twice before pointing at the other Jedi’s chest. “You can leave now and go find someone else on your list.”

“Or I can stay and do my job and go kill the Commandant, and then take this guy and his groupies into custody like a good Jedi,” Rhysode said. He leaned forward on his elbow and raised an eyebrow, stretching his scar. “Not that you’d know much about that, lately, would you?”

Ben bit back his first reply and counted to ten. The statement wasn’t wrong, but he sure didn’t need to say it. “Regardless, I’ve got everything here handled, and you can leave.”

“And if I decide I don’t want to? If I think you’ve been compromised beyond reason and decide to go above you?” Rhysode asked. He darted a glance at Armitage and Mitaka before tapping his fingers along the table. “Then what? You going to take me on and stand in the way?”

“If I have to,” Ben said.

“I’m sure the rest of the Jedi community would love to hear you’ve turned traitor for real,” Rhysode said. He leaned back in his seat, and threw one leg over the other, crossing them as relaxed as he could. “Ran away from your Uncle to hide away protecting a bunch of First Order leftovers. Sounds almost traitorous if you ask me.”

“What’s your point?” Armitage asked, holding his head up.

Rhysode turned to look at Armitage at the same time as Ben. He tilted his head. “Excuse me?”

“Ben betrayed the First Order, and then he betrayed his parents to keep me, and now he’s betraying his roots by becoming a mechanic,” Armitage said. He crossed his arms on the table and shrugged. “I think at this point he’s rather used to being a traitor, and considering the only people whose opinion of him matters are those of myself and his parents and we don’t care, then what does it matter what you think of him or what you tell your little Jedi friends?

“Ben’s stronger than all you lot,” Armitage said. “So if you’d like a genuine extinction of the Jedi, go ahead. Send your attack dogs and see what happens.”

“You seem confident Ben can take on every Jedi by himself,” Rhysode said, clicking his tongue. “You mean that, or are you saying it out of obligation? Bragging about your lover, maybe?”

“I mean it and it’s not bragging if it’s true,” Armitage said. He leaned forward and tilted his hair to the side, a few loose strands falling in his face. “I’ve seen it first hand and honestly, I’d love to be able to call him the Jedi Killer again.”

Ben flinched, digging his hand into a fist.

“You certainly aren’t winning any brownie points for yourself for why I should go easy on you,” Rhysode said. “Or why he has any reason to be trying to save you from justice.”

“I hardly need either,” Armitage said, before pulling out a blaster and shooting Rhysode in the chest.

Chapter Text

“I can not believe you did that,” Ben said, scrambling across the table to shove the loose edges of Ganner’s tunic into the hissing wound. There was no blood or bleeding, but he felt an instinctive need to cover it up. Ganner gaped, but he wasn’t dead, so there was that at least.

Armitage glanced at him with an affronted look and crossed his arms.

“Okay, fine,” Ben said, focusing on Ganner to make sure he kept breathing. “This is absolutely something you would do. Now help me and go call a medic before he dies.”

“That rather defeats the purpose of shooting him, don’t you think?” Armitage asked. Mitaka had wandered behind Armitage, still holding tight to the ysalamir and stopping Ben from using the Force. Ben narrowed his eyes and Armitage dropped his arms. “Fine, fine. I will call the blasted medic. But what exactly are you going to tell him? We shot a Jedi, please don’t arrest us?”

“When Mitaka takes the ysalamir upstairs, I will use a Mind Trick to keep them from asking questions,” Ben said. “I’m already protecting a First Order fugitive, so I might as well add that to my list.”

“Fair enough,” Armitage said. He made his way to the communicator (though he certainly took his time) and picked up the transceiver. Before he made the call however, he addressed his ex-Officer. “Mitaka, do take Gertrude upstairs. I have a feeling Mr. Ganner won’t be causing any problems while he tries not to die.”

“Alright, but I won’t be far if you need me,” Mitaka said, albeit reluctantly. He tapped upstairs with the lizard, leaving Armitage free to call emergency services.

“Quite a prize you snagged there,” Ganner gasped, hand shaking. His body trembled, even the heightened Force physical abilities strained by a blaster wound to the chest. “That’s what you’re into these days? What happened to the pilot?”

“That thing with Poe was a rumor and we were always just friends,” Ben hissed back. He called over his shoulder. “Are they coming?”

“Five minutes,” Armitage said. He walked back over and took a seat across from Ganner and Ben, completely relaxed. “If I’m lucky, maybe he’ll die before they get here.”

“Please, please keep those thoughts to yourself for a little while,” Ben said, internally begging that the other man would behave. His more brutal side had decreased significantly since he’d starting working in the mechanic shop. Did it have to come back right now? “This really isn’t the time.”

“It’s rude, I’ll admit,” Armitage said. He picked up a fruit rind and dangled it back and forth. “But so was Rhysode when he stole your snack, so I suppose the phrase is: He started it.”

“Priorities, Armitage,” Ben said through gritted teeth.

“Alright, alright, I’ll take the hint,” Armitage said. He put the rind back on the table and leaned back in the seat. “I’ll ‘play nice,’ as it were.”

“Thank you,” Ben said. He turned back to the wounded. “Hanging in there, Ganner?”

“I don’t plan,” Ganner wheezed, “on dying. So, sure. We’ll go with that.”

Armitage snorted in response and smoothed his hair back.

It was a long wait for that medic.

Dopheld sat at the dinner table with Mandetat in Hux and Ben’s apartment. Unamo and Thanisson had chosen to stand, leaning against the breakfast counter about a step away from the main living quarters.

Hux himself had camped out in a chair in said living quarters, close to the dining area without actually crossing the carpeted floor onto tile.

“So, there’s a Jedi out to murder us and Ben just took him to the hospital,” Thanisson said, breaking the silence. He leaned back and forth from one foot to another. “And we’re just going to wait here for them to get back?”

“Yes,” Hux said. He covered his eyes and leaned his elbow on the chair arm. “I’m sure Ben will talk some sense into him at the hospital and everything will be fine.”

“And if he doesn’t?” Thanisson asked.

“Then we’re glad we have a Jedi on our side, too,” Dopheld said, speaking up. He could just sense Hux’s eye twitching behind his hand and had a feeling their General was reaching his limit of patience, especially for someone already on thin ice in the group. “Ben could go one on one with Snoke. I highly doubt some Jedi from a splinter group can match him.”

“He was pretty good though,” Hux said, almost muttering to himself. “It makes me wonder if there were Jedi at his skill level running around this entire time, why none of them challenged Kylo Ren or Snoke to a fight.”

“Tactical disadvantage?” Unamo offered. “While I understand the common saying that a single Jedi is worth a thousand soldiers, we did have many, many more than that in the First Order. Sheer numbers might have raised their caution to attack, especially if they didn’t have the support of the Senate.”

“From what you described, that Ganner guy didn’t seem the sort to need or want permission from the Senate to do anything,” Mandetat said. “Maybe he’s just the type to kick people when they’re done, and didn’t want to bother when we were on top of things?”

“I’d believe that,” Hux said. “He mostly seemed excited to be allowed to track down and kill people. Perhaps he was on too short of a leash prior to actual war crime sentences being delivered.”

“Wonderful luck that,” Dopheld said to himself. “That means he’ll be persistent, won’t he?”

“I’m sure,” Hux said. He dropped his hand away from his face, letting it hang loosely over the side of the chair. “What would life be like without persistent Jedi?”

“We might be ruling the universe?” Thanisson asked.

He had the good sense to dodge when Hux threw a datapad at him.

Ben made sure to be there when Ganner got out of the bacta tank. Thanks to some quick Force work, the hospital was under the impression he’d been hit by a blaster misfire in the kitchen. Hux was “showing off his First Order contraband” and accidentally pulled the trigger. Close enough to the truth that Ben didn’t feel too guilty abusing the Mind Tricks on everyone, but enough of a lie that no one batted an eye at the story.

The real key was making sure Ganner kept his mouth shut and stuck to the story.

“That’s right, the bacta will make you feel a little woozy for a second, but you’ll be fine, Master Jedi,” the nurse said, steadying Ganner by the arm. “Are you feeling alright?”

“As well as one can be expected after getting shot.” Ganner straightened and took the offered towel to start wiping off the excess bacta. “Tell me there’s a shower waiting. I hate this stuff.”

“Yes, give me one second to check the tank, and I’ll go set that up for you. In the meantime, your friend is waiting if you’d like a chance to catch up with him.”

The nurse excused himself and left the two of them alone in the small waiting area next to the bacta tank as he dipped out the back door.

“Surprised you’re still here and not skipping town with the general,” Ganner said, wiping his face off. “Or are you here to threaten me?”

“Hux and I have been through a lot, and we’re not leaving after we’ve finally had a chance to settle down,” Ben said. He kept his voice low, and kept watch on the door in case the nurse returned. “And I won’t threaten you unless I have to.”

“My master won’t be happy if I just let a bunch of criminals run free, especially if they have a rouge Jedi on their side,” Ganner said. He clicked his tongue and shrugged. “So as soon as I get cleaned up, I have a feeling we’ll be repeating our little side show in the square with our light sabers.”

“Or we could talk this out like reasonable adults,” Ben said. Half tempted to contact Luke for back up, he only barely restrained himself. He needed to prove that the could handle this on his own. “The First Order is gone, and the few stragglers living with me have been punished enough. They’re practically under house arrest on this planet as it is, so you really don’t need to hunt them down. They’re harmless.”

“General Hux created a weapon capable of destroying five planets at once,” Ganner said. “People were rejoicing when they heard he perished with the planet. You’re telling me he’s harmless?”

“I’m watching him,” Ben said. “He won’t do anything except live his life like a regular civilian. He’s put those days behind him and as long as I’m around, it’s going to stay that way.”

“From what I can tell, he’s got you wrapped around his little finger,” Ganner said. He tossed the towel on the counter and stepped up into Ben’s personal space. His scar glistened in the slick of the leftover bacta. “And you certainly couldn’t stop him from shooting me, so how are you going to stop him from doing anything worse?”

“I’d consider today special circumstances considering you tried to kill him,” Ben said. He flicked his fingers, pushing Ganner back with the Force a few inches. “I’ll forgive him.”

Ganner laughed, and threw his arms out. “What? So he’s perfectly behaved the rest of the time? Is that what you’re arguing?”

“Yes,” Ben said, leaving no room for argument.

“Fine, then we’ll test it,” Ganner said. He flicked his own hand, shoving Ben back in the same manner. “I’ll stick around for a month and see for myself, just how well behaved your little First Order pet is.”

“Don’t you have a master to get back to?” Ben asked. “Do you have the time to linger around here?”

“I could ask the same thing of you,” Ganner said. “Considering you’re hiding out here instead of heading back to Skywalker yourself.”

“That’s none of your business or concern.”

“No, but Hux is,” Ganner said. “And I’ve got the time, don’t you worry about it.”

Before Ben could respond, the nurse returned. He held up a datapad and a folded set of scrubs and handed them to Ganner. “If you come this way, we’ve got the shower racks all set up. We’ve made sure everyone has cleared out so you’ll have privacy, Master Jedi.”

“Thanks,” Ganner said. He took the clothes and shot the nurse a flirty smile. “That’s appreciated.”

“Enjoy your shower,” Ben said. Fairly certain Ganner was going to keep to their story, if only to amuse himself by spying on Ben and Armitage, he decided it was time to make an exit. “I guess I’ll see you around.”

“You better believe you will,” Ganner said. He had a shark’s smile and winked. “You can count on it.”

Chapter Text

Hux kicked the others out of his apartment.

Thanisson had grown annoying with his Jedi talk. Unamo wanted to finish the last of her paperwork from the shop, so she was glad to drag the younger man out with her to finish the filing. Mandetat had already been ready to leave after the situation had explained, but he stayed to support Mitaka.

Getting him to leave had forced Hux to pull out a most unused tool in his arsenal: The word “Please.”

“Are you sure you don’t want us to wait with you?” Mitaka had asked, holding his hands together under the table. “What if things with Ganner went badly and you need the support?”

Hux had sighed and rubbed the corner of his head. “I appreciate your concern, but I would like a few moments to myself. Could you please keep watch downstairs if you must?”

The other man’s face had crumbled under the word and uttered a soft, “All right.” He picked up his things and left the apartment with Mandetat trailing behind him.

From his seat in the chair, Hux could hear the others in the office on the floor below. The thin floors did little to block the sound. Some nights when Ben worked late, Hux read to the sounds of his tinkering and welding as he dove into a project. During the day, he could hear Mitaka and Mandetat not being as discrete as they thought they were while Ben did deliveries.

A hard stomp on the floor above their heads always earned a good laugh.

Hux covered his mouth—they had it good here.

He had not expected things to turn out so well.

Arkanis had not been his favorite place to grow up. He had a slew of bad memories revolving around his father and while the rain was soothing, it did not wash away things Hux had liked to forget.

But when asked where he’d like to go to settle, Hux could not think of another place to go.

Settling on an unfamiliar world where he’d have to learn a new culture didn’t sound appealing. Going to a place full of Rebels or Wookie was even less so.

Arkanis held bad memories, but it was still a place that Hux knew. He had Ben to make new memories with.

And then he discovered his father had taken refuge there as well and a Jedi had predicted them both by figuring out their obvious hiding spot.

“Of course the headache returns now, too,” Hux said. He hissed under his breath as the pulse of pain crossed his forehead and temple. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his painkillers. He took two pills and snapped the cap back on before putting it in his pocket. Hux covered his eyes with his arms to block out the light and slumped in the chair. “I know the universe is punishing me, but couldn’t it take a break?”

“It might if you stopped shooting people.”

“Ben,” Hux said. He pulled his arms down and watched the man cross the living room. He dumped his cloak and saber on the table, crossing the room. He kissed Hux on the forehead before tugging him out of the chair to share a seat with him on the couch. “Did Ganner live?”

“Yes,” Ben said. He pulled Hux onto his chest and fell back onto the couch cushion, stretching out until his long legs hung over the arm on the other side. “I told him you and the others weren’t a threat, but he wants to hang around and see for himself.”

Hux dropped his face into Ben’s neck and didn’t care that he smeared his cheek with sweat. “Can’t he find something better to do? Like kill my father? I’d thank him for that.”

“I forgot about him,” Ben said. He rubbed Hux’s back and covered his eyes with his hand. “Your father is on planet.”

“If you want to kill him for me, I won’t say no to that either,” Hux said. He drummed his fingers on Ben’s chest. “I’ve got lots of ideas for it, if you need some creative input.”

“I hate that you’re serious.”

“I hate him.” Hux clutched Ben’s shirt and twisted the fabric. “I really, really do.”

“He can’t hurt you here,” Ben said. He kissed Hux’s hair and squeezed him closer. “And while I’m not going after him, I promise not to get in the way if Ganner does.”

“Compromise,” Hux said. Ben wouldn’t kill in cold blood himself, but he could look the other way for his lover. “It’s not what I imagined, but I can live with it.”

Ben chuckled, dark and low. “I’m glad we can compromise. It feels like progress.”

Hux hummed in response over a verbal answer. The painkillers slowly did their work and when his head stopped pounding, he asked, “Did you see the others downstairs?”

“I told them to camp in the store until Ganner’s gone,” Ben said. “I don’t trust him.”

“Good man,” Hux said. He sat up and kissed Ben on the cheek—a well deserved reward for keeping Hux’s friends safe as well. “Come on, let’s see if we can’t find some of that fruit you like and make a tart. I’m hungry.”

Ben followed him into the kitchen and with the man at his back, it was easy to forget his father and the Jedi threatening everything he held dear.

Dopheld helped Mandetat move the work table to the side to make more room for their sleeping mats.

Unamo and Thanisson worked diligently behind them to make sure all of Ben’s tools and projects were out of the way. Rolling over and hitting something in their sleep would make for a bad morning for everyone.

“This is sort of fun,” Thanisson said. He dumped the last of his collected loose parts into a bin and wiped his hands on his pants. “It’ll be like sleeping in our old quarters again, except on the floor.”

“How many people did you share a room with?” Mandetat asked. “Because I shared bunks with ten and that was not what I’d call fun.”

Thanisson blushed and looked to the side as he muttered, “Two.”

“An officer’s privilege,” Unamo said. She dropped a stack of bedding on the work table and took a blanket and rolled mat for herself. Unamo set up her place in the corner, keeping it near the door to the main office. “I bunked with one other girl from the bridge.”

“What about you?” Mandetat asked Dopheld. “You entered the Order as an officer didn’t you?”

“Yes,” Dopheld said. He spread out his things near Mandetat’s spot and sat on the thin mat. “Which means I had a single room on the first day, though it was the size of a large closet.”

“So were our rooms,” Mandetat said, laughing. He shoved his mat closer to Dopheld’s and collapsed on it. His knee brushed Dopheld’s leg and he loved the shot of warmth that went up his side. “If you were a technician, you were expected to share bunks. We had to fit three to a bed!”

“Liar,” Dopheld said. He shoved the man’s shoulder and laughed. “Not even the Troopers were that cramped.”

“So much for teasing.” Mandetat rolled over and grabbed his pillow. He shoved his face in it and exhaled. “How long do you thing the Jedi feud is going to last?”

“With our luck?” Thanisson asked, inserting himself into the conversation. “A year.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Dopheld scolded. “It might come true.”

“You can’t blame me for being pessimistic.” Thanisson dropped his chin into his hand and sat crosslegged on his mat. “We haven’t had the best run of it.”

“That’s still no reason not to—”

A door slammed in the other room.

On high alert all four jumped to attention and grabbed a weapon. Dopheld and the others kept it trained on the door that led to the front office and main entrance of the small workshop.

Everyone held their breath when the door opened.

“Stay here,” Ben said. Armitage licked a smear of filling off his thumb and frowned. Ben called his lightsaber from the table with the Force and yanked off his apron as he strolled across the room. “Do not come downstairs.”

“What’s wrong?” Armitage asked. He followed Ben and jumped when he heard a door slam open from downstairs. Ben tore across the room and ran down the stairs, angry that the Force hadn’t given him a hint this was coming sooner. Armitage called after him, “Wait!”

Ben threw open the lobby door and yanked the intruder away from the shop door and back into his line of sight. He spun his lightsaber once and pointed it at the mask hiding a familiar face. “What are you doing here?”

Phasma tapped the side of the helmet and the faceplate slipped away. Cold eyes stared back at him, but she lifted her hands in a surrendering motion. “I wanted to talk.”

“To talk,” Ben said. He kept the lightsaber aimed at her face, close enough that the blue light lit up her cheeks. He narrowed his own eyes, pulling his back straighter. “Let’s hear it.”

“I don’t want to talk with you,” Phasma said. She yanked the helmet off the rest of the way and threw it on the floor. It rolled and clattered until it landed in the doorway, where Mitaka and the others hovered with their weapons raised. Phasma lifted her head with no fear. “I’m here to talk with Hux.”

“The last time you saw Hux, you were trying to kill him.” Ben remembered Hux on his knees, covered in blood—both his own and of Ben’s mother’s—and the way his precious Order had turned on him. “You’ll forgive me if I have no intention of letting you two be in the same room again.”

However, his intentions never mattered much when Armitage had his mind set on something.

The man disregarded his command to stay upstairs, strolled calmly through the side door behind Ben, and stared down his past subordinate.

“Phasma, you look awful,” Armitage said. He put his hand on Ben’s arm and lowered it, weapon and all with a gentle nudge. “Though I dare say you look good for someone I thought died on the Finalizer with the others.”

“You look well, but civilian life looks bad on you.” The woman cracked a smile and lowered her arms to cross them over her chest. She stayed strong and proud, towering over everyone in the room. “Despite how we parted last, it is good to see you. I’ve had time to think and I suppose I want to apologize.”

Ben felt the wave of relief from Armitage and turned off his saber. The man crossed the room and took her hand, holding it tight. “I’ll be glad to hear it.”

“So we’re not fighting?” Thanisson blurted from the doorway. He lowered his weapon and looked around the room. “Right?”

“No,” Unamo said. She shoved the man in the shoulder, pushing him back into the room. “We’ll let you talk.”

“Would you care to come upstairs?” Armitage asked Phasma. “Ben’s shop isn’t the best place for discussions that have nothing to do with mechanics.”

Phasma nodded. “Lead the way.”

Ben attached his saber to his belt and followed them up the stairs, listening to the light conversation that passed between Armitage and Phasma.

The image of Armitage on his knees wouldn’t leave his mind.

Chapter Text

“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.”

Hux agreed.

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.”

Phasma stared.

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.”

Ben groaned.

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.