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“Benjamin Organa-Solo,” Hux says, flipping through the intake forms. “Do you prefer Ben?”

Solo mumbles something, looking at the floor, and then again, louder.

“Kylo. That's my -- I go by Kylo.”

“Kylo then,” Hux says, pencils a note on the paperwork. “Do you have preferred pronouns?”

“Does it matter?”

“You tell me. Some people would say it matters quite a great deal.”

Kylo shrugs, pulling frayed cuffs down over pale wrists, blue capillaries, thick fingers with scabbed, reddened knuckles.

“He, I guess. Really, you can use whatever.” He taps his foot into the floor. The thick sole of his boot rasps against the tasseled rug, a sensation Kylo seems to like, because he does it again, and then once more, then strikes his heel against the chair leg. “It’s all just meat, isn't it? Meat you try to pretend fits.”

Hux looks straight at him for a long moment. Despite the way Kylo’s slouching in the armchair, his height, his imposing size are obvious; his biceps are clearly outlined under the long sleeves, his shoulders strain at his shirt. Hux thinks if he were to untuck it from his belt, he’d see defined abdominal muscles.

“Meat,” he repeats, and Kylo nods, stops tapping. Pulls farther back into the chair as if trying to get it to swallow him up.

“It’s like wearing a suit. Bad enough as it is. Though, you like yours, don’t you, Dr. Hux. The pocket square, it’s a nice touch. It really goes with your -- ” he trails off, gesturing to indicate Hux’s torso, his tie, the lapels of his jacket. “It goes.”

Hux does have one of his favorite pocket squares tucked into his jacket today, a dark blue paisley. It’s a nice contrast to the eggshell grey of his shirt and matching tie, and the subtle, almost bland pattern of his suit, though it’s surprising Kylo would choose to comment on them, now or at all. He feels his pulse speed up a little.

“Thank you, Kylo,” he says, and waits for him to continue.

“You know what it’s like,” Kylo shrugs. “That one, you can take it off and wear another, and it’s probably tailored to your specifications, but that’s not what it feels like, does it: the meatsuit. It never fits right, and you try to make it, and maybe sometimes you almost think it works.”

Hux makes another note on his paperwork and looks at Kylo again. His right sleeve has crept back up his arm, the edge of the gauze bandage clearly visible, but Kylo makes no attempt to hide it. He’s stopped slouching, sitting up with his knees apart, meeting Hux’s gaze head on.

“You like what I’ve done with mine.”

“Kylo, I think we’ll be able to get a good start, a good feel for where you are, what your needs are, this afternoon,” Hux says, ignoring that statement, though it sends a sharp, sudden shiver down his spine. This, too, is surprising; he wasn’t expecting this, not now. Not yet. “I would like to see you again next week -- ”

“You can see me again tonight,” Kylo interrupts. His jaw is twitching, a jarring tic that threads up into his stubbled cheek.

“No,” Hux tells him, deceptively calm, and puts his pencil down.

“Fine, next week, then,” Kylo nods with surprising ease, and rubs his finger down his chin, like he’s trying to work the tic out. His voice takes on a sharp, flinty quality. “I’m sure it’ll help with my needs. What do you want to talk about, my childhood? What I want to do with my life? My worst fear?”

“Were you afraid? During the accident,” Hux clarifies, already having resolved to call it nothing but.

Kylo’s jaw twitches again.

“No,” he says quietly, looking once more at the ground, shoulders slumping back down. It’s such an obvious lie, Hux doesn’t feel like there’s a point to calling him on it.

 

----

 

The ceiling above him is white.

Hux blinks, once, twice, slowly surfacing from sleep.

Their bedroom ceiling is painted a deep royal blue; Kylo likes it, says it makes him feel like they’re sleeping outside, canopy of sky above the grass and dirt. He drapes his arm over Hux’s chest, fingers resting at the base of his throat, so he can feel the pulse there. Wraps around Hux, elbow pressing into his sternum, the hand splayed over his neck, hot, heavy. Sometimes it’s hard to move, to breathe; Hux struggles in his sleep, tries to shift away from the stifling grip, wakes, gasping, heart thumping in his ears. Kylo’s soft, sleepy mumble, stay, stay, even as he lets go, fingers sliding down the ladder of his ribs to settle at the top of Hux’s belly.

He blinks again, trying to lift his muzzy head from the pillow -- the pillow? Strange that he would have one here in this white-ceilinged room, white crown moulding creeping around the edges -- and wakes up fully, caught in sudden, foreboding realization.

He’s not in the bedroom; not in the bed, with its soft mattress and plush topper. Other than the pillow thoughtfully slid under his neck and shoulders, the surface underneath him is hard, cool; metal he thinks, feeling it with his shoulders, his spine, his --

-- it ends there, under the curve of his waist, the small of his back, a press of flesh-warmed solid metal and then nothing, a thick, wavering numbness where his hips should be, and Hux wrenches up reflexively, cold suddenly squeezing at his wrists, his throat.

He can't sit up.

His heart pounds wildly between his ribs, hard enough that he feels the echo in his skull.

There's a stiff, heavy collar locked around his neck, the metal loop in the back anchoring him firmly to the table.

Its weight is suddenly, reassuringly familiar. It feels like -- it feels like --

Kylo’s posture collar. Hux had ordered it special, presented it to Kylo in a small, gift-wrapped box. Watched his eyes flash, greedy and dark, as he buckled it around Kylo's waiting throat, hooked his finger through the metal ring, showed him the matching rings and hooks drilled into the headboard of their bed, into the section of wall in the den, between bookshelf and couch. Welded to the long, sturdy metal table he is currently lying on. They haven't required its use in a few months, but there he is, laid out shackled to its hard surface, and Hux feels his heart speeding up again, waves of dizzy anticipation rolling through his chest.

The table, the white kitchen ceiling with the crown molding. Kylo’s collar around his neck, which means that the padded cuffs holding his wrists in place must be Kylo's as well, and that Kylo himself must be somewhere nearby.

Waiting.

Hux swallows around the dry, metallic taste in his mouth, closes his eyes, and listens.

At first, it’s just the low hum of the fridge behind him, punctuated by the lazy ticking of the wall clock. He lets the clock count forward, and focuses on the soft, prickling patter down the hall: the master bath. Water, hitting tile.

The shower keeps going for two hundred and twenty nine more ticks before it stops; Hux hears the sink for a few moments after, and then heavy wet steps on the hardwood floor.

He smells the spicy, clean mint of Kylo’s shampoo, a slight tinge of chlorine from the water, before Kylo moves into his field of vision, immense, naked, wet, toweling his hair one-handed.

“Hi,” he says, the corners of his mouth crooking up. Wet hair swipes down Hux’s cheek, leaving cold droplets in its wake.

“What did you do,” Hux croaks, or tries to; his tongue feels clumsy between his lips, a thick, twitching thing. More moisture slides down the side of his face, dripping down onto his pillow. Kylo lets the towel drop, and his wet hair is loose, curtaining his face like ropes of seaweed.

“Don’t be afraid,” he says, voice wavering, almost apologetic, and that, more than anything, loosens the bitter lump in Hux’s throat.

“Let me up,” he demands, stronger, clearer this time. Kylo nods, sways closer, leaning heavily into the table; Hux feels, more than hears, the collar unlatching as Kylo slowly works it open.

Hux doesn’t wait for Kylo to undo his wrists, just wrenches his torso forward, up, knowing Kylo will assist. He does, hand under Hux’s armpit, until Hux has managed the sit-up.

“You can lean against me,” Kylo tells him, “if you need to.”

The sheet covers him from the waist down, its hemmed edge the boundary of the numbness, and Hux blinks, lets his shoulder rest against Kylo’s frame as he braces himself for what he’s about to see.

His first thought, as he lets himself stare, is relief.

The empty space is smaller, much smaller, than he expected.

The shape of his right leg is clear under the white cotton; though he can’t feel it, it’s undeniably there, pointed toes lifting the fabric at the end. His left thigh is whole, narrowing down to the round of his knee, the top of his calf, and it is only there that the sheet finally begins to droop, the starched folds covering nothing but metal.

“I’ve been learning. Watching. It’s incredible, the skills one picks up watching you. Read your books, too.” Kylo points to the empty space under the sheet. “I did very well with that. You’ll see.”

“Yes, I’m certain you turned out to be an excellent butcher,” Hux bites out. “Let me see it.”

Kylo is in his face suddenly, hot breath tickling his skin, petulant red mouth close enough to kiss.

“I learned from the best. It took me a lot longer, obviously, but I worked hard on the stitching. I promise.”

Hux sighs. Everything feels so very strange, like he is still about to wake up.

“It’s -- I’m sorry, darling,” he says finally. “You know what I meant.”

“Yes,” Kylo says, withdrawing. “I know.”

Kylo lifts his good arm and flexes the wrist, surveys his long, thick fingers with their blunt, cut-short nails. Clenches a fist. Opens his hand back up again, and looks to the other side, exposed for once, rather than covered by a sleeve hanging empty a few inches below his shoulder.

The stump has healed well, and Hux feels a brief moment of pride, of satisfaction at a job well done. He stitched it closed by hand, wrapping the skin over the cut site. Resisted the urge to mouth and bite at the stitches, the scab, the scar, for five long weeks, no matter how much he wanted to feel it, the line of thread, coarse, under his tongue, the hint of meat and bone underneath. He couldn’t risk infection setting in, holding himself back until it was safe. Feeding Kylo pain pills and antibiotics along with paper-thin, almost see-through slices of bresaola on coarse brown bread, the meat a lovely, dark red, drizzled with grassy, sweet olive oil. Kylo shuddered at first. Closed his eyes. Chewed slowly. Swallowed, throat working.

“Good?” Hux asked each time, though he knows it was, cured and aged perfectly according to the recipe he’d written down in Bergamo, notes from three different tiny meat shops scribbled into the margins.

Kylo turns toward him now, the fingers of his remaining hand still splayed out, as if on offer.

“It was harder than I thought,” he admits, lowering his lashes. “Wouldn’t have been, if you could have helped, or talked me through it.”

He vanishes from Hux’s field of vision for a few moments, the refrigerator door hissing open, then shut, the sound of liquid pouring. Kylo returns with a covered travel cup, straw pushed through the bright yellow rubber lid, innocuous.

“Just water,” he says softly, guiding the straw to Hux’s mouth. “Protein shake later, when you’re feeling up to it.”

Hux feels suddenly parched, the tissues of his mouth sticking together; he slowly parts his chapped, dry lips and drinks, rolling the tip of the straw between his teeth.

It doesn’t taste like just water, and he gives Kylo a questioning look, though he doesn’t stop drinking.

“I know. I know,” Kylo says, tipping the cup forward a little more, helping him get at all of the liquid. “It’s for the pain. The epidural’s gonna wear off soon. I didn’t want to try a catheter one-handed, so I just topped you off with another shot about halfway through.”

Kylo takes the cup away after Hux is done with the doctored water, fading from sight as he moves through the kitchen. Hux thinks it might be the expectation, the placebo effect, but he feels half delirious already, dreamy and slowed, weightless, like he is about to float away. Everything blurs -- the white of the ceiling and the stainless steel of the fridge, the already soft lighting going softer and softer still until he’s blinking, trying to hold on to something, Kylo’s face wavering suddenly above him, eyes like coals in the pale stretch of skin over bone. He hears a keening, desperate whine, the sound echoing in his ears, and doesn’t know it for his own until Kylo says, “Shh, shh,” and soft lips brush his clammy forehead.

“Shh,” Kylo says again. “Let go. I’ve got you,” and then Kylo’s mouth is on his, tongue sliding, insistent, possessive, inside. Hux closes his eyes and lets himself be kissed, Kylo’s hypnotic warmth leeching slowly, languidly into him, the slick glide of Kylo’s tongue sending him somewhere even farther away, into a thick, deep darkness.

 

----

 

“My mother, she’d tell me these fairy stories when I was a kid,” Kylo says, staring resolutely at the patterned rug. It used to sit on the floor of Hux’s living room before he brought it to the office, the color warm and calming, cream tassels edging around blue waves. Kylo uncrosses his legs, crosses them again, hugs his arms firmly around his middle.

“About how the fae would take children from their beds at night, and put the fairy children in their place, and sometimes, the changelings, they’d forget they weren’t human.”

“A strange subject, for a mother. Why do you think she did that?” Hux asks, doodling a curved line on his notepad; even if Kylo could see it from where he sits, it might still look like writing, messy, hardly legible.

“I was difficult, you know? Wouldn’t fucking sleep at night, wouldn’t play with anyone, lash out. Scream, sometimes. Just, for no reason. Not cry, though, I never cried. I’d fall off my bike, half a pound of gravel embedded in my legs, skin all scraped up, and I wouldn’t cry; they thought there was something wrong with me. She’d fix me up, and hold me, and tell me about the changelings.”

The worn round of Kylo’s shirt collar has slipped down, exposing the base of his throat, his jugular notch, the pale white lines spidering his skin there, skittering over to the shoulder. Hux wants so much to see how far they go, but it isn’t right yet, isn’t time. He flips to the next blank page, makes a few quick marks on the top line.

“Did you like the stories?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I did. I think they scared me, mostly. I’d ask her where the fairies would take the real children, why they’d want them. She said they stayed at the fairy court, with the fae of the Summer, or the Winter, and they’d be happy there, but I didn’t believe her. It didn’t make sense, why would they leave their own children behind and take someone else?”

“What did you think happened?”

“I don’t know,” Kylo whispers, bending his head lower. His foot pushes into the edge of the carpet, toeing at the tassels, then pulling back.

“Kylo,” Hux urges, pitching his voice warm, and scoots his chair closer.

“I asked Han once. My father,” Kylo explains, still not looking at him. “He laughed. Said they probably ate them all up. He was staying with us then,” he adds quickly, too fast, swallowing the edges of his words. “I was sick, and my mother made him bring me hot milk in bed.”

“Did you believe him?”

Kylo’s head snaps up, sudden, sharp. His arms are still hugging his sides, but his eyes have gone dark, wet, the pupils shining. His lip twitches upwards as he licks his teeth, the tip of his tongue briefly teasing at his mouth.

“Doesn’t it make sense, Dr. Hux? The changelings, needy, little half-formed things, left there in the crib. They’d need something to sustain them, to make them whole. How else could they forget they’re not human? They would be, at least a little, after. Wouldn’t they?”

 

----

 

When he wakes again, he is burning. Dull heat pulses its way up his leg, twinges of pain like the flickers of embers.

Hux opens his eyes.

He is in the master bedroom with its calm blue ceiling, the heavy down comforter drawn up to his chin. A feather has escaped one of the seams, sticking through the fine weave, the fluffy tip of it tickling at his neck. He is already reaching to push it away before he realizes his hands are no longer cuffed. The promised protein shake is waiting for him on the nightstand in yet another covered plastic mug, this one a bright, obnoxious neon green. Alien green. X-Files green. Area 51 green, Kylo had dubbed it, turning it in his hands at the store shelf. Look, it’s the color your eyes would be if you weren’t human, Hux, he’d said. If, he’d repeated, and laughed.

A little porcelain dish with three white pills sits next to the mug, and a clear plastic bottle of water, the label peeled off. Hux picks up one of the pills and twists it around in his fingers; it looks like generic hydrocodone, and he sighs, considering, then drops it into his mouth, chasing it with a gulp of the water. He picks up a second pill, cracks it along the impressed line, and swallows half.

The house smells good, he thinks, settling back onto the pillows and waiting for the drugs to do their job. Like rosemary and red wine. The smell is a little too strong, almost overwhelming, which means Kylo has probably added too much of both, and for a moment, Hux frets that he’s used up all of the meat on this roast. It’ll likely still taste good -- rich, tangy, tender -- but not as good as it could have, and he grips his hands tightly onto the edge of the quilt. Pulls it back up to his chin. Does his best not to look underneath.

He can hear Kylo downstairs, his forceful tread between den and kitchen. Sound travels easily through the heating vent in the floor; if he concentrates, lets his breaths get shallow and quiet, he can hear the clink of dishes, the thud of a cabinet as it opens and shuts, Kylo humming softly to himself. He doesn’t sing often, but his voice is deep, pleasant, lulling Hux into a comfortable, warm domesticity, the heat below his knee softening, receding, until he can almost forget that it’s there.

Kylo doesn’t cook often, either. There is no need, not when Hux usually takes care of all their meals, though Kylo likes to watch, hovers quietly, fixed on the flash of the knife in Hux’s hand. He hands over tools when he’s asked, dumps used ones into the sink filled with sudsy water. He barely goes outside anymore, and isn’t much good with a shovel, leaving it to Hux to dispose of any leftovers in the compost bin or buried in the moist, loamy soil out back, near the treeline.

The oven door creaks, then clangs closed again; Kylo must be impatient, checking on the pan. Hux almost wants to yell down, tell him to leave it well enough alone, simmering undisturbed for another half-hour, but he bites his tongue, turns his cheek back into the downy quilt.

This is something Kylo needs to do himself; he’s made that quite clear.

 

----

 

“They really reported me missing?”

“Did you think they wouldn’t? It’s been almost two months. They found your phone,” Hux says, undoing the buttons of his wool coat, peeling off one leather glove, then the other. His face still prickles from the frost, blood returning bright to his cheeks. Kylo grabs his chin in his hands, nuzzles in, an awkward, yet sweet bump of nose.

“You’re too good at this,” he whispers into Hux’s face, warming his icy skin with his breath. “What did you say to the police?”

“Nothing you don’t already know. I’ve suspended my practice, temporarily. As for you: missed appointments, the scene in my office, I’m very sorry, but I had to refer you out after that. Of course, I’m concerned. I would be for any of my patients, even former. The detective left her card. Tall, arms ready to burst out of her uniform. You would’ve liked her.”

“Hm,” Kylo says, unconvinced. “Do you know who filed the missing person? It can’t possibly have been my mother.”

“I don’t,” Hux lies easily, lets his nose swipe to the right and mouths at Kylo’s cheekbone, small sharp kisses until Kylo’s eyes slide closed in satisfaction. “Come on. I’m wet and cold, let me get changed.”

“Stay. Stay, I’ll warm you up,” Kylo says, hands walking down to Hux’s shoulders, rubbing his upper arms before settling behind, on his back. It’s nice, Hux has to admit, so nice, to let himself be held to Kylo’s chest, Kylo’s deft fingers sliding under his coat, his shirt, down to the skin, like he wants to get even farther underneath. Even calmed like this, Kylo kisses like he’s fighting, teeth and nails digging in, and Hux moans, grinds his hips into answering hardness.

“That’s it, that’s good, keep doing that,” Kylo purrs, moves his hands to cup Hux’s ass, two fingers sliding suggestively over the seam of his trousers.

They rut against each other, there, in the entranceway, careless, eager.

“Mine,” he says, too tender, too soft, but he doesn’t care. “My Kylo.”

“Yours. All yours. All for you,” Kylo echoes, and begins to undo his belt.

Fuck; Hux really is going to miss him.

 

----

 

He drowses for a while, then takes the rest of the pills, finishes the water and nods off again. He thinks he dreams, but he isn’t certain, the images smudging on the insides of his eyelids, dissolving into red and black. Sometime later, he feels the mattress dip, and a warm, solid presence settles against his side, a pushy ankle tangling with his, the good leg, he realizes, and jolts suddenly into consciousness.

“Did I wake you? I’m sorry. I just wanted to be close,” Kylo says, penitent, but pressing even nearer all the same.

The lightswitch clicks. The bedside lamp comes on, a low, modulated brightness, and Kylo surveys the contents of the nightstand, the empty pill dish, the bottle, the dregs of the protein drink coating the bottom of the green plastic mug. Hux watches him, his cheeks ruddy in the lamplight; he looks sated, relaxed, his movements steady and measured.

His mouth tastes like sweet tempranillo when Hux kisses him, one of his favorites now, though he’d never tried it on his own. Kylo had preferred beer, had preferred whiskey; wine had been an unknown, its complex anatomy previously undiscovered.

Hux is certain his own mouth tastes like bile, like bitter, chemical sleep, but Kylo doesn’t seem to care, parts his lips with teeth and tongue, licks inside, again and again.

“I’m sorry,” Kylo murmurs, fingers questing down Hux’s soft belly, a quick slide over his cock. He spreads his thighs, carefully, but not carefully enough, and cries out into Kylo’s mouth as his leg jostles into the mattress.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” Kylo repeats, running his nails up the insides of his thighs, one after the other until the skin prickles, sensitive and wanting. On the next pass, Kylo keeps going, knuckles bumping up into his balls, thumb pressing dry against his hole, circling gently.

Kylo looks up at him, questioning, and Hux nods his head.

It’s too soon. He knows it is, even as Kylo withdraws to retrieve the bottle of lubricant from the nightstand. Bolts of pain arc through his leg, through the knee, all the way up to the hip, coiling there, lying in wait. And yet he finds he doesn’t want to deny Kylo anything, not even this, no matter how much it may hurt. Especially, perhaps, because it will.

Kylo returns with slick fingers, lube dripping onto the sheets as he traces Hux’s asshole, plays with his rim, pets it languidly, taking his time, until Hux trembles, caught in the narrow space between anticipation and contentment. He draws up his healthy leg at the nudge of Kylo’s knee, makes room, so Kylo can open him up on two fingers, then three, so he is loose and panting, his hole giving way, stretching out to fit Kylo inside.

“It’ll be easier on you on your belly,” Kylo says, wiping his glistening fingers on the quilt. “Here, I’ll hold your leg up so you can turn over.”

He braces his heavy, tortured thigh into Kylo’s large hand, pushes up on his arms to flip around; Kylo eases his leg down to the mattress as lightly as he can. It still hurts, keeps on hurting even as Kylo straddles him. He could ask Kylo for more painkillers, for another injection, but he doesn’t, just whines, a low, trapped noise as Kylo lines up the blunt, wet head of his cock, pushes in.

He fucks Hux in slow, deep thrusts, most of his weight draped over Hux’s back, plastering him into the sheets. It’s hard to breathe, his chest struggling to expand, his mouth open, trying to gulp in air. His cock is hard, jostling into the bed every time Kylo snaps his hips, and he grunts helplessly into the pillow as Kylo slows even more, drops his head low, his breath shivering over Hux’s ear.

“Hux,” Kylo says, a close whisper, a shallow pull of his cock back, then in again. “I’m sorry. I tried, I tried so hard not to be, but I was so scared. I want you to have everything, you know that.”

“I do, Kylo, precious, I do,” Hux rasps. His leg is shot through with fire, his vision swims, the edges going dark and ragged.

“I want you to take all of me. Want it so much. But I was afraid, Hux, I am so afraid, and I didn’t know what else to do.”

Kylo lifts up, bearing more weight on his arm; air floods Hux’s nostrils, inflates his ribcage. He moans at how good it feels, full breaths, his dick grinding against the sheets, Kylo spearing into him, spreading him wide, his straining rim clenching down to keep him inside.

“I’m not strong enough, not by myself,” Kylo whispers. “But you are. I know if I could have just a portion of your will, I could do anything.”

He stills his hips for a moment; Hux can see the straining muscle of his arm, his hand braced into the bed close to his cheek.

“Do you understand, Hux? Please? Will you lend it to me?”

He could almost laugh at that; pinned on Kylo’s cock, on Kylo’s need, butchered, and yet Kylo is the one pleading, desperate, breathing in soft little gasps, trembling, straining.

“Why didn’t you ask me, first? Before you cut me open?”

“Would I have deserved it, then?”

His cock jerks inside Hux; he feels the weight of Kylo’s balls against the cleft of his ass.

“Come on,” he prods, and Kylo surges forward, slams into him deep. Hux grits his teeth, spreads his thighs wider, ass tipping up to meet the long, almost unbearable push. Kylo’s legs shake around him, knees caging him tighter, prodding into his flesh. He fucks in harder, faster, keeps going, relentless, until Hux feels the familiar prickle, the lightning itch building at the base of his spine, strong enough to drown out the pain.

He loses himself in the slick sounds of their fucking, the sweat, the lube slopping out where Kylo fills him up. Kylo moaning for him, pathetic and sweet; the rough, delirious noises choked from his own throat as Kylo bottoms out again and again.

He’s going to come on Kylo’s dick. The friction of the sheets is too much, too harsh on his own cock; he can imagine what it looks like, red, angry, dripping precome in steady spurts. He curls his hands involuntarily, grasps helplessly at the quilt, the pillows.

“Kylo, please,” he moans, and Kylo wraps him tighter, forehead pressed to the back of his neck, lips mouthing at his nape reflexively, with no sense or rhythm.

He screams when Kylo bites down. His come smears into his stomach as it pulses from his slit, dripping below, gathering messy in the creases of his thighs, the folds of the bedding. Kylo’s cock slips from his hole, throbbing against his rim, spurting thick streaks over his crack, his cheeks, the small of his back.

They lie sticky, pressed together, until his leg becomes too much to ignore.

“I need more painkiller, and something to clean up this mess,” he complains, waits for Kylo to sit up, then stand.

“Yes, Hux,” Kylo nods. He returns in a few minutes with a soapy washcloth and a syringe, hands Hux the vial and a packet of alcohol wipes.

Hux depresses the plunger into his abdomen once he is all cleaned up, hands the used needle to Kylo to dispose of.

“I’m hungry,” he says, slow, deliberate, and looks up into Kylo’s face. “Are you hungry? Will you bring us a plate?”

It tastes as good as it had smelled. Maybe better. Hux drags the knife through the center of the plate, and chews thoughtfully, slowly, before picking up another sliver of meat with his fingers. It’s tender, delicate, dripping with pan juices.

“Take it,” he says, holding out his hand. Kylo opens his mouth, closes his eyes; Hux watches his face, rapt, spellbound, as if waiting for communion.

Hux brings the meat to Kylo’s mouth. Deposits it on Kylo’s expectant pink tongue.

 

----

 

“Wait. Wait, please, Hux, wait!”

Hux pauses, IV bag in his hands.

Kylo’s voice is small, strained. With his hair bound back, the uneven line of his jaw limned by the hard collar, the bulk of his body subdued, arms and legs strapped to the gurney, he doesn’t look much like himself anymore. His eyes, wide-pupiled, blinking fast, lashes leaving black shadows in their wake, are like an animal’s, a chased down small thing’s, throat fluttering with its terrified heartbeat.

Hux hangs up the bag without connecting it, lays a hand on Kylo’s bared, prepped shoulder with its lines of blue marker. He bends down, and presses his lips to his forehead like he’s checking for fever.

“You’re burning up, darling,” he muses, gently stroking the top of Kylo’s head, fingers seeking out the crown, the small cowlick where his hair parts. He scritch-scratches his hand through, traces his thumb over the top of Kylo’s ear, pink and boyishly large, gracelessly, endearingly on display.

“My precious. My Kylo. What do you need?”

Kylo still wavers as he speaks, the words quiet and trembling.

“Tell me again? What’ll happen. Just talk to me, a little bit more. Please?”

“All right,” Hux says, pulls the wheeled stool over and sits by Kylo’s shoulder, resumes stroking the prickly silk of his hair.

“It’ll take several hours, as I’m working unassisted. I’ll make the initial incision where we’ve marked it out -- can you see?”

He doesn’t point to the marker line, keeps up the soothing touch over Kylo’s scalp, speaks slow and even, like he’s telling a bedtime story.

“I’ll have to separate the muscle, and clamp off the blood vessels before I can switch to the bone saw. That part should go quickly, at least, but I’m glad you won’t feel it. It’s not a sensation you’d enjoy. After that, closing you up, that’ll take some finesse. I’m not sure if I’ll have to use drains; I hope to avoid it. They’re a rather unpleasant part of recovery.”

“And then?”

“You’ll be fast asleep for a while still. I think that’ll be best. I’ll take care of everything. Hang the meat up to drain, dress it. Remove the the fat, the sinew. Trim it from the bone. It’ll be well on its way once you’re up and about again, precious. I’ll marinate most of it in the Barolo overnight, dry it off, coat it with the cure. Then it’ll rest on ice for two weeks; I’ll have to check it, turn it over every day. Then dry it again, wrap it in the muslin. It’ll take three, four more weeks after that, until it’s perfect.”

“OK. Hux?” Kylo says, straining up in his bonds for a moment, like he’s forgotten they’re there. “That won’t be all of it, though, right? You’ll have some tonight, like you promised?”

“Of course,” Hux says, “of course, darling. I can’t wait.”

He rubs at Kylo’s temples until he’s sure his pulse has evened out, calmed from its frenetic, trapped rush. Kylo’s eyes are thoughtful, human, considering. He opens his mouth, top lip catching over a slightly crooked tooth.

“All right. OK,” he relents, and takes a deep breath. “You can hook up the IV. I’m ready.”

 

----

 

The meat lasts three days.

Hux has looked at his leg already, that first night, while Kylo slept, wrapped in the quilt on the bed under the royal blue ceiling. The stitching is a bit clumsy, there’s no way around that, but he is surprisingly satisfied with the results of Kylo’s work. It must have taken him hours.

It heals well.

In the mornings, Kylo sponges him clean, careful not to disturb the fresh bandages. He brushes Hux’s hair; would brush his teeth, shave him, if Hux would let him. Hux waves the bulk of the assistance away, directs Kylo to move him around in the old-fashioned cane back wheelchair, worn polished oak, more decorative than it is comfortable. There is another, a proper one, stored downstairs: Hux has had it for what feels like ages, now, purchased shortly before Kylo moved in. It doesn’t feel right for him to be using it now, and as lacking as it is, Hux appreciates the effect of the antique. It fits perfectly into the dining room, the hall, the back porch; Kylo dresses him in his pajamas, his cashmere robe, ties the sash, dark, stately plaid. Wheels him outside, slowly, carefully, assisting his arm with the occasional bump of his shoulder.

“Take it,” Hux says, and Kylo goes to his knees on the woven patio rug, pulls his cock out of the button fly of his pajama bottoms, wraps his lips around it, devoted, eager.

Hux watches him, the stretch of his lips, the trickle of saliva down his chin. His tongue curls around the crown of Hux’s cock, prods lightly at the slit before Kylo pulls him down deeper, opens his throat. Hux feels the hot, wet give of his soft palate, the light flutter as he tries to keep his breathing steady, each inhale timed as he draws back up, then swallows again.

Hux grips his fingers around the back of Kylo’s head, and comes, keeps Kylo all the way down on his cock until the tremors subside.

He keeps his hand in Kylo’s thick hair, petting almost absently as Kylo pulls back.

“Kylo. Precious,” he says, and lets a strand flow through his fingers. “I want more.”

Kylo looks up from between his knees, his lips red, swollen and shiny with spit and Hux’s come. He glances quickly at his arm, his thick, strong thighs, down his stomach, then looks back at Hux with clear, reverent eyes.

If he is still afraid, he is hiding it well.

 

----

 

The prosthesis clicks against the kitchen tile as he picks up the bottle of the rioja, the corkscrew. Retrieves the fragile, thin glasses from the hanging rack on the wall.

The curtains are drawn. He’s kept the lights in the dining room low. Candles scattered around the porcelain plates, a few electric lanterns illuminating the vases of flowers: chrysanthemums, lilies, a spray of purple gladioli.

Kylo’s face is a sallow, pale mask at the other end of the table. His hair fades into the semi-darkness above the bright white stain of his collar, the dress shirt Hux had buttoned on him carefully, tucking the edges in under a plush, warm throw.

Hux pours the wine. Watches the tremble of Kylo’s lip as the garnet liquid settles in the glittering glass.

“Let me help you with that, darling,” he says mildly, and lifts away the lid of the serving platter.

“Please,” Kylo murmurs.

Hux pulls his chair close. Lifts up the glass. Slices crisp vegetables, sinks the tip of the knife in against the grain of the meat. Holds the fork, laden, to Kylo’s mouth.

Kylo gets tired quickly; he always does, now. Hux smiles at him as he begins to droop.

“All done?”

“Yes. Help me?”

Hux lifts him out of the chair, letting the blanket slide to the floor. Kylo is so light, so small, Hux holds him easily, cradles him against his chest as he takes him to the bedroom.

He undresses them both. Gets them in bed, covers drawn.

“Tell me something. Talk to me, please,” Kylo asks. “Just a little, until I fall asleep?”

“Of course,” Hux says, settling his head on the pillow. “Did you know, darling, that the fae once took a boy from his bed, and brought him to the Winter court, to stay with the king? He deserved it, you see, they knew it right away.”

Kylo inhales loudly, exhales. For a few moments, there is silence.

“Hux,” Kylo says in a small voice. “Was he happy there?”

“Yes, precious. Very.”

He turns out the light.

A few more weeks, he thinks with a pang, and holds Kylo close.