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Chasing After Danger

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The sickly yellow sand sprays with every hit, the heat of blaster fire burning across Ren’s bare hand as he sends it ricocheting into the wall of the canyon. Smoke and dust fill the air, burning the nostrils with the choking scent of cordite. It is like a stormcloud, lit from the inside with flashes of green and red lightning, and Ren grits his teeth. He reaches back with his free hand, finding exactly what he’s looking for.

Warm fabric slides under his fingertips and the barest hint of Hux’s sweat-damp skin. Ren pulls Hux closer, shielding him with his body. He doubts anyone can see them through the dust-clogged air, but he’s not taking any chances.

The walls of the canyon echo with shouts and blaster fire, a confused cacophony that sets Ren’s nerves on edge. He breathes deep, focusing himself. His blaster is hot in his hand and he forces himself to lower it, feeling the steady weight. Sand trickles through his hair with the wind, blowing away from them, sending the dust towards their pursuers; this is good.

Ren can feel the desert shifting beneath his feet. He exhales, waiting.

The mercenaries know they’re out here and they will stop at nothing to catch them. Ren simply cannot allow that. His eyes narrow as he spots a shadowy figure looming through the storm of sand, and raises his blaster with a snarl.

The shot splits through the dust clouds, a streak of red light, flying straight and true, directly into the chest of the shadow, which turns out to be a rock.

“Well,” Hux says. “It seems this rescue is going perfectly.”

*****

It was the middle of the cycle and Ren was manning the bridge, lost in thought for the last hour. Boredom had been gnawing at his brain since Hux had left for dealings with the Crymorah syndicate, and to Ren’s dismay, his bed was already starting to feel increasingly cold. Eyes glazed over beneath his mask, Ren was reminiscing, lost in memories of their most recent night together, when his comm blared. The encoded signal was that of one of his knights, a private frequency, and completely unexpected. Ren frowned to himself as he answered, the hiss of Nyxus Ren’s voice barely audible.

“Master, I have news from a contact in the mercenary syndicate on the fourth moon of Bogden. They have the strictest of instructions not to inform the First Order.”

“Is that so?” Ren said, interest piqued. “And what exactly do they wish to keep from us?”

“A ransom. Taking place on Florrum within the next few turns. The droid gotra have come into possession of a valuable prisoner, available to the highest bidder.”

“And why exactly are they so concerned with the Order knowing?” Ren rolled his eyes; it wasn’t unusual for the various mercenary companies to trade prisoners between themselves, especially if they seemed the slightest bit valuable. The Order didn’t concern itself with such things, especially if the droid gotra was involved. Their hatred for the Order was well known, seeing it as the heir of the former Empire, which, Ren supposes, it is. He drummed his fingers against a nearby console. Nyxus Ren had only been instructed to monitor mercenary transmissions for news of Resistance supplies; there was no reason to be contacting him now.

“Master, the prisoner in question is General Hux.”

A cold blade of shock sliced into Ren’s stomach. Questions fluttered through his mind. Hux? Surely not. He had read Hux’s most recent report just a few hours before.

Thankful for the masking tones of his vocoder, he replied, “I see. They are courting danger if they think they can keep something of this magnitude from the Order.”

“Shall I inform the Supreme Leader?” Nyxus Ren asked, and Ren felt his skin itching with a prickle of concern.

“No. I will deal with this directly.”

*****

It isn’t that he’s concerned for Hux’s well-being or reputation, but if Snoke gets word of this, then there might be repercussions, and Ren is getting quite used to his and Hux’s ‘arrangement.’ He isn’t quite willing to give that up. Although now, in the dirt, blaster in hand, he can’t quite remember why he thought this was a good idea.

“If it weren’t for you I’d be off this sulphurous shithole of a planet already,” Hux hisses from next to him. His fingers twitch with annoyance where they are bound behind his back, but Ren shows no sign of freeing him. He contents himself with whispering in Ren’s ear, so much more exposed with his hair pulled back, “The one ahead of you is another rock; you don’t need to shoot it.”

“I swear, Hux, you—” Ren turns, hand out, a fluid motion that makes the muscles of his back ripple, in Hux’s opinion, in an extremely enticing way. His upper lip curls in a snarl as he pushes the offending blaster bolt back into the dust clouds, resulting in a distinct gurgling gasp that is most definitely not a rock. He drags Hux forwards, closer to the end of the canyon, where the ground finally starts to slope upwards; after that it’s just a case of getting to his ship.

The muffled thump of running footsteps rises around them, and Ren can practically feel Hux rolling his eyes. His own eyes survey the scenery, assessing. He leans close to Hux, voice barely above a whisper: “Five troops at the canyon’s end — two on your side, three on mine.”

“Well, give me a damn blaster then, and take these cuffs off,” Hux replies, tone acidic.

“It’s okay,” Ren says. “I’ll take care of you.” He turns to Hux with a cocky smirk, only to be viciously kicked in the shin.

“This is not the time to act like you’re some sort of dashing rogue!” Spots of red flush high on Hux’s cheeks in annoyance. “Now give me a damn blaster!”

“I—uh, I only have one,” Ren admits, eyes cast down at the yellow sand. He winces as Hux unerringly manages to kick the exact same spot on his shin; it’s definitely going to bruise.

“And what if it runs out of gas cartridges? Or the charge pack shorts out? You don’t even have your bloody saber with you.” Hux’s eyes are wide and pale with fury. “Did you even think this plan through at all?”

*****

Ren glanced around the small cockpit of the H2 shuttle, familiarising himself with the controls. It was nothing compared to his own ship, of course, but nondescript enough, and most importantly, fast.

He had informed Phasma that he had a mission, thankful that, unlike Hux, she didn’t ask any questions. His comings and goings were so irregular that it was possible Hux was the only one who really paid much attention to them. Ren stretched out in the pilot’s chair, the glimmer of his reflection in the viewport catching him off guard.

It was unusual, seeing his face; Ren didn’t much bother with looking at it, although he was getting more used to being without his mask: Hux was adamant he took it off every time they were together. Tilting his head, Ren caught the flash of skin that his shirt collar revealed and ran his ungloved hands up to his hair, pulling it from his face to fasten loosely behind his head. He was certain no one would recognise him without the mask, and his worn-but-comfortable clothes only completed the look. He was reminded uncomfortably of his father and shook his head, trying to clear the memory. Ren dropped his hand to his hip, feeling the steady weight of his blaster in its holster. It could be risky, going in without his saber, but he had the Force on his side. There was nothing he couldn’t handle.

*****

The warmth of the wind is starting to whisper through the canyon, blowing away the concealing clouds of dust in wispy little swirls. Ren reaches for Hux’s shoulder again to drag him forward, but finds him already moving, stealthy and catlike, towards the rocky slope that marks their way forwards.

Boots slipping in the soft sand, Ren follows Hux’s lead, blaster held up against his chest. He can hear the muffled voices of the troops steadily becoming clearer as they close in.

“—here somewhere, can’t have gotten far.”

“How did—? …bastards.”

“Keep your guard up.” Ren hears the final soldier’s order and smirks as he raises his blaster to fire. Too late.

He has fired off two shots before they even react, the dim Force-presences winking out like dying stars. The third mercenary’s reaction time is better, her blaster bolt aimed directly at Ren’s head before he catches it in the air, arm outstretched.

Ren’s lips curl back in a cruel smile, and he can see the soldier’s eyes widen in a mixture of fear and understanding as he steps around the plasma bolt.

“Almost.” His voice is low, practically friendly as he fires a single shot between the mercenary’s eyes. The hair on the back of his neck ripples as he relinquishes control of her blaster bolt, hearing it crash into the rocky wall behind him. Willing a second blaster into his free hand, Ren turns to the side, holding them aloft, ready to take down the rest of the mercenaries for Hux.

He finds them already dead.

Hux sits atop a small tumble of rocks, eyes flickering to the annoying strand of hair that keeps falling into his face. He smirks at Ren’s obvious confusion as he takes in the snapped necks and nudges one of the corpses with his foot. “What? You think I climbed the ranks thanks to my cocksucking abilities?” He rises gracefully to his feet, eyes as hard as steel. “Academy Martial Arts Champion for three years straight.” Gaze raking up Ren’s body, Hux wets his lips. “Maybe you should remember that next time your head is between my thighs.”

Ren swallows, tongue suddenly far too big for his own mouth. The warm wind seems to have stripped all the moisture from his body, reducing him to a panting mess. Hux, by contrast, seems to have barely broken a sweat. He raises an eyebrow and tilts his head toward the slope.

“Well then, what now?”

*****

Ren landed in what looked like a junkyard about a klick away from the main mercenary compound. A lone skalder nosed its way through the piles of metal, barely blinking as Ren passed. From the looks of things he was the only visitor. Good, he thought. This shouldn’t be too complicated.

Rolling his shoulders and double-checking his blaster, Ren started a leisurely walk towards the main compound. He could see the telltale glints of lookouts in their sentry towers, light bouncing off the scopes of what Ren guessed were plasma rifles. He held his head high, already seeking out the spark of Hux’s presence within the grey stone building.

The closer he got to the base, the more activity he could see. What looked like a crude trading post had been set up and was bustling with people of all species. The smell of waste and old meat was rising, even above the sulphurous steam the spiralled up from the sand. Squinting slightly in the sun, Ren could see wasteland scavengers being admitted through the main gate, and he strode to where the heavily armoured guards were ushering them through.

The Gamorrean guard squinted towards Ren as he approached and hefted his vibro axe with a questioning grunt. Mucus streamed from his nostrils, and Ren fought to keep his nose from wrinkling in disgust.

“I am here for the auction,” he said, the wave of his fingers imbuing his words with the barest edge of power, enough to have the guard nodding his head and ushering him towards a large steel door flanked by more guards: humans, this time.

“You’re early; auction doesn’t start for another day.” One guard arched an eyebrow, gaze sweeping over Ren and apparently finding him unintimidating. “You sure you’re in the right place?”

“Definitely,” Ren said, smirking. “I’m here to make a deal. Take me to whoever is in charge.”

“I—” the guard started, only to be cut off at the vice like sensation gripping her neck. Her eyelids fluttered, mind suddenly wavering. “I’ll escort you.”

“Thank you,” Ren said, ears protesting at the screech of metal as the door swung labouriously open.

The interior was far cooler, grey stone crumbling with age, little puffs of yellow sand clouding up with every step. Ren could feel a heaviness coiling in his chest and gripped reflexively at his blaster. He kept his eyes on the back of the guard leading the way, wary of his surroundings.

The stench of the outer area was starting to fade, replaced by something much more industrial: oil and electronics, the distinct smell of solder. Ren could see workshops and weapon stores branching off from the central hallway as they passed, but no sign of prisoners; no sign of Hux.

The air grew colder as they wound their way into the centre of the building, Ren’s eyes gradually adjusting to the dim light. Finally they reached another heavy door and the guard knocked, sound echoing back through the hallway. It creaked open just a crack, and Ren could hear scraps of brief whispered conversation before he was ushered in.

A low metal table sat in the centre of the room, more mercenary soldiers flanking either side of a doorway leading further into darkness. At the table sat a man Ren recognised, and he fought to keep the scowl from his face. Bala Tik had worked with the First Order in the past, but of course there was no loyalty among mercenaries. The harsh accent of his Basic echoed through the small room.

“So, who are you and why exactly do you think you can make a bargain with us?”

Ren smirked and brushed his hair from his face, the first soft edges of a plan starting to form in his mind. “I’m Ben Solo, and I’m with the Resistance.”

*****

The slope leads to a dry plain, and Ren can see his shuttle, untouched amidst the twisted metal of the junkyard. Scanning around, there is no sign of anyone ahead of them and, for a moment, Ren can’t believe their luck.

Of course, at that moment alarms finally begin to blare, echoing out across the sands. Ren and Hux both snap around at the cacophony, exchanging a glance that neither of them will call panic; it’s mild concern, at most.

“Right,” Hux says, “we’re almost at the shuttle, the alarms are going off, and anyone who wasn’t chasing us before will be now. What are our options?”

Ren purses his lips, thinking out loud: “They have snipers, so running for it won’t work.” He scans the open sand ahead of them. “There’s no cover to make our way gradually.” He’s starting to wish he had his saber now. “We could always wait for them to come to us and take them all down.”

Hux rolls his eyes. “Well, that is very optimistic of you”—his shoulders sag, just for a second, weariness breaking through the mask of disdain—, “but I’m not exactly at my best right now and adrenaline will only take me so far.” He looks Ren over, face softening. “Something tells me that you haven’t stopped once since this whole thing began, either.”

Ren shrugs; it has only been two days, and he knows his limits.

Unfortunately, so does Hux.

“Ren, even you need rest.” Hux unconsciously leans closer, as if he wants to rest his head on Ren’s shoulder, before letting out a deep sigh. “We need a plan.”

Ren’s teeth scrape across his lips. “I could always try to raise a storm with the Force, stir up some cover.” He can hear a low rumble in the ground: probably the rest of the mercenary force mobilising. “It would hide us from the snipers at least.”

Hux nods. “Good, just keep doing what you’re doing; I can already feel it.”

“Feel what?” Ren frowns. “I’m not doing anything yet.”

“Then what’s causing the vibra—”

Hux’s voice is cut off by the sound of rushing water, a cloud of hot steam filling the air around them. The geyser roars into the air, spreading out like a mushroom above them.

Ren doesn’t think; he simply grabs for Hux, throwing him over his shoulder and dashing from cover, hoping that the great gouts of steam are enough to hide them. Scalding-hot droplets rain down on them as water continues to burst from the ground. Ren’s boots hit the ground with a wet slap, squishing into the softened sand as he runs. Hux bounces slightly on his shoulder, and Ren is grateful for just how light he is. He dodges around another geyser that erupts directly in front of them, no longer thinking about their pursuers, only the dwindling distance to the ship.

A red bolt of plasma arcs past Ren, a lucky shot through the churning spray. It sparks against the hull of the shuttle and Ren twists, firing blindly into the steam. He can hear the yells, the blare of the alarm, and Hux shouting something that he can’t quite hear.

The rush of water cuts off as the geysers subside, leaving only a light rainfall of pattering drops. Their cover is gone, but Ren no longer cares; his ship is right there, a few metres away, a few steps away. He dashes up the entrance ramp, sparks raining down above them as another shot splits the air, far closer than Ren would like.

He practically throws Hux from his shoulder, already jabbing for the ramp retractor switch. Ren dives into the pilot’s chair, all engines engaged. He may not have had much of a rescue plan, but flying? This, he knows.

*****

“Aye? Pull the other one. Everyone knows Ben Solo is dead.” Bala Tik leaned back in his chair, arms crossed, dark brows creased in annoyance. The guards by the door sniggered, fingers gripped tight on their rifles.

“DNA check me if you like.” Ren said, smirking as he lounged in his own chair, “or we could simply call up General Organa. Would you prefer to deal with her?”

With a jerk of his head, Bala Tik signalled a guard, who disappeared through the door for a few moments to return with a handheld med scanner. Ren craned his neck, trying to glimpse the slightest sign of Hux, blinking as the green light of the scanner passed over his face.

“Well then,” Ren said, watching Bala Tik’s eyes widen at the screen display, “are you satisfied? We can still call General Organa if you want.”

Lips twitching, Bala Tik leaned forward. “Let’s leave your mam out of this for now, shall we?” He pressed his fingertips together. “How exactly did the Resistance find out about this little business venture, hmm?”

“You really think I’m going to just tell you? Our network is pretty vast; let’s just stick with that,” Ren said, lips curving in a grin. “Anyway, the last I heard, it was the droid gotra who were organising this”—he paused, searching for the right term—“sale.” Despite the smile on his face, anger was starting to prickle through Ren’s veins. “As far as I knew, the Guavian Death Gang worked with the Order, and yet, here you are.”

“I’m just the middleman here.” Bala Tik spread his hands wide and shrugged. “I go where the money goes, pal. Which brings us to our next matter.” He flexed his fingers on his blaster, placing it on the table, leaving himself without a weapon.

Ren resisted rolling his eyes. Really, the implication that the guards would be able to take him down if he tried something was almost laughable. He straightened up, schooling his face into impassivity. “You want to discuss payment.”

Bala Tik shook his head. “Yer getting ahead of yourself. What I want to discuss is why you couldn’t just wait for the auction.” He jerked a thumb towards the door behind him. “There are a lot of people interested in Huxy-boy there. I’ll need a very good reason not to give them a fair chance at getting ahold of him.”

A slow smile spread across Ren’s face, and he raised his hand, reaching into his pocket. The rifles immediately clicked into position either side of his head. Ren glanced at each guard in turn and withdrew his hand, a small data disk in hand. “Relax boys, with the information I have you’ll be able to trade those old rifles in for something much better.” He placed the disk on the table, sliding it over with one finger. “Imperial munitions factories, still fully stocked, recently rediscovered by our network and yours for the taking. All you need to do is hand over the general.”

Bala Tik’s eyes flashed, wanton greed undisguised on his face for the briefest of seconds. He slipped his hand towards the disk, already turning to one guard. “Go fetch him.”

A small flutter rose in Ren’s throat, quickly quashed by the sudden iron grip on his wrist. “If this isn’t worth our while, then you’ll wish you really were dead, Ben Solo.” The blaster was pointed directly at his face, and Ren bit his lip, hoping the mercenary would take it as nervousness rather than an attempt to prevent laughter.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said. “Now tell me about Hux,; anything I should know?”

“He’s a vicious bastard, I’ll tell ya that much.” Bala Tik glanced around, fingers drumming in impatience. “We’ve got him cuffed, but ye might wanna consider a gag. He’s got quite the mouth on him.”

Ren simply nodded, muscle working in his jaw. He was well aware of Hux’s mouth. He’d come in that mouth. He had kissed that mouth. He knew the exact warmth and taste of it. And at that point, all he could think about was hearing his name on those lips once more.

*****

The ship lurches into the air at Ren’s touch, and he can feel his spirits rise with it. This is where he is most at home. The red blaster bolts dwindle away to mere sparks below them, and Ren turns with a grin towards Hux, who responds with a tired smile.

“So,” Ren says, “aren’t you going to thank me?”

“For what?” Hux rolls his shoulders, arms clearly starting to ache. “For abandoning your post on the Finalizer? Giving away munitions locations?” His eyebrows arch together. “For nearly getting yourself killed on my behalf? Surely you could have sent someone less important.”

“I couldn’t trust anyone else to get you out safely.” Ren takes his eyes from the controls to meet Hux’s own. A fleeting blush spreads across Hux’s cheeks as his lower lip catches on his teeth. There is a flash of pink as he wets his lips.

“Ren—”

The sound of laser-cannon fire cuts Hux off, and Ren whirls around, checking every monitor to find the source. A Vespula fighter sits just behind their left wing, vapour streaming behind it as both ships break the cloud layer. Despite Hux swearing in his ear, Ren grins, a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by Hux.

“Why the hell are you smiling like that? This ship is older, slower, and has barely any weaponry.” His face reddens as Ren tilts the ship controls, toppling Hux into his lap.

“Relax,” Ren says, one arm holding Hux steady. “I’m the one flying here.”

“I don’t see why that matt—” Hux’s bound hands scrabble uselessly where they press against Ren’s chest as he sends them into a spiralling dive, weaving back through the clouds, the yellow expanse of sand looming ahead of them.

Ren can feel Hux’s heart speeding beneath his palm, even as he pulls them level, speeding across the desert as fast as the old transport ship will go. The Vespula appears through the clouds above them, a shining needle threading through the blanket of sky, and Ren yanks the controls sharply, sending them back up, directly into its path.

“Ren, what are you—! Ren! Kylo!” Hux’s eyes squeeze tight, cannon fire raining down around them, creating a tunnel of light that Ren follows upwards, spiralling and dodging. He grits his teeth, pushing the ship to its limits, not daring to turn aside.

They shoot upwards like sparks from a fire, Ren’s bare knuckles turning white on the controls, still pushing forwards. His heart rises to his throat. The Vespula shows no sign of turning away, hurtling towards them, and Ren is faced with a sudden memory of a young man on a speeder bike playing this same game with his father.

Never winning.

Always blinking and turning away too soon.

A red-hot burst of power flows through Ren’s fingers, spurring him onwards, upwards.

He won’t blink.

Ren swears he can see the whites of the Vespula pilot’s eyes in the millisecond before they veer off, streaking back towards the planet’s surface. He lets out a breath, slightly wavering as he punches in the hyperspace coordinates before rising, steadying Hux as he gets to his feet.

“That was fun.”

*****

It took everything Ren had not to tear the facility apart when Hux was brought out. His white tunic was torn and scuffed, clearly he had resisted capture. His slightly bloodied lip and grazed forehead only compounded Ren’s suspicions further.

“Well then, it seems like the Resistance think you’re worth giving up one of the few bargaining chips they have.” Bala Tik sneered. “Organa even sent her own son for you. Don’t you feel special Huxy-boy?”

“Remind me to tear your tongue out next time we have business,” Hux said, barely glancing in Ren’s direction. “The gloating is bad enough without having to hear that atrocious accent of yours.”

“See what I meant about the gag?” Bala Tik spat at Hux’s feet and turned away as Ren stood, fists clenching. “Escort them out,” he said to the guards. “We’re done here.”

“You heard the man,” said one guard, nudging Hux with the end of his rifle.

“Yes, I did,” Ren said. He thrust his hands out, his rage at Hux’s bloodied lip coalescing into a powerful blast that knocked out both guards and Bala Tik. He strode forwards, blaster in hand, only to be stopped by Hux’s voice.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he hissed.

“Rescuing you?” Ren reached his hand out to brush across Hux’s cheek, only to have Hux jerk back, irritation written over every inch of his face.

“You really did not need to do this. I had it under control.”

Ren snorted. “Yeah, okay. I can see that with the handcuffs and all.”

“Oh shut up. What did you give them in exchange?” Hux cast his eye over the prone forms on the floor.

“Empty munitions factories we cleared out months ago.” Ren shrugged. “They didn’t even think to check.” He slid an arm around Hux’s shoulders, feeling him bristle at the touch. “Shall we get out of here?”

Hux simply rolled his eyes and headed for the door. “They’ll still get the equipment.” He marched ahead of Ren, head held high despite his restraints. “Come on, before they wake up.”

“Um, Hux?” Ren closed in behind him, nose nuzzling into his hair as he whispered in one ear, voice husky, “You’re supposed to be my prisoner.” He pressed himself to Hux’s back, leading him to the outer courtyard.

The acrid smoke of burning trash rose around them, a few eyes turning in their direction as they passed. Hux bristled beneath Ren’s hands. “Will you get off me!” He ineffectually shoved Ren with his shoulder. “You are going to blow our cover.”

“Oh relax; it’s fine.” Ren nodded to the guard at the gates, leading Hux ahead of him, hands every so often dropping to rub circles on his hips.

They were only a few metres away when the first shout went up, blaster fire starting to rain down around them, and Ren darted to one side, wrapping himself around Hux as they tumbled down a gravelly slope and into a small canyon. Ren grabbed for his blaster, ignoring the exasperation on Hux’s face. Slapping Hux on the shoulder, he grinned.

“I guess they woke up.”

*****

Ren can taste the sweat in the air, the salt of Hux’s skin, so sweet on his lips. Their chests rise and fall in time as they silently watch the streaking stars of hyperspace pass by. Hux slumps onto the pilot’s chair, his handcuffed hands still held behind him.

“Well, you have successfully retrieved me, and with a minimum of property damage.” He tilts his head, eyes creasing at the corners in a way that makes Ren’s heart soar. “Well done.”

Swallowing against the unexpected lump in his throat, Ren crosses the room in three quick strides, taking Hux’s face in his hands, unable to stand one more minute without touching him. His thumb brushes over the scrape on Hux’s forehead and his chest clenches at the little hiss of indrawn breath. It’s nothing really, no more than a scratch, but it makes Ren want to turn around and burn the place to ashes.

“You’re okay?”

His voice doesn’t sound like his own: too soft, too gentle, too heavy with unchecked emotion. Hux leans towards him, and Ren murmurs again, mostly to himself, “You’re okay.”

It’s a solemn pronouncement, a sigh of relief, a statement that Ren needs to etch into the universe to make it true. Hux is okay.

His fingers dance across brows dampened with cold sweat, carefully brushing each strand of hair into its rightful place. Ren can see every flutter of Hux’s pale eyelashes and gently circles the dark rings beneath his eyes with one thumb.

Hux doesn’t say a word. His eyes are firmly fixed on Ren’s own, his lips softly parted as his breathing steadies itself. His tongue flicks out in a flash of pink wetness, and Ren wordlessly follows.

They press their lips together in a long, slow kiss, and Hux shifts awkwardly, frowning at his still-bound arms. He wants to pull himself closer, to thread his fingers through Ren’s hair as he always does, but his hands are firmly clamped behind his back.

A small whine slips from Hux’s throat, setting Ren’s desire ablaze. He is bent almost double, hands cupping Hux’s face, fingers stroking through the grime of his hair. He pulls back, only for a moment as Hux gasps out, “Ren—”

The plea is cut off as Ren rises, swinging his leg over Hux’s knees and straddling his lap. He pulls their lips together once more, eyes clenched tight, as if opening them will make reality shatter around them.

Their tongues twine together in a slow swirl that has Ren’s heart pounding. His chest is a solid knot of tension, only now starting to loosen. Hux arches against him, pressing their chests together, a low moan sounding in the back of his throat, acid tones neutralised by the press of Ren’s lips. He surges forwards as Ren pulls back, his nose nudging the scar across his cheek and making his skin prickle.

Ren’s hands smooth across Hux’s shoulders and up the column of his neck, his thumbs sliding beneath the collar of his tunic, searching out the warm, steady beat of his pulse. Lips follow touch as Ren slowly eases the fabric aside, eyes searching the pale skin for any sign of hurt.

“You’re okay,” he murmurs once more, warm breath raising goosebumps to be kissed away as he trails down Hux’s chest, unfastening his clothes as he does. Hux squirms and sighs, the clench of his thighs disbalancing Ren slightly.

“What are you doing?” His voice is low and soft: a tone that Ren has only heard a few times; on those rare occasions they’ve lingered together in the dark, sweaty and sated and not yet ready to let go. He doesn’t want to admit how his breath catches at the sound.

“I just—” Ren pushes Hux’s tunic from one shoulder, nuzzling at one soft nipple and feeling it harden against his cheek. “I just need to check.”

Hux smiles gently, hissing in a breath as Ren’s hands fiddle with the fastenings of his trousers. “Check away.” He drops his head to press a kiss to the sweaty tangle of Ren’s hair. “I promise, I’m fine.” He rises from the chair, just enough for Ren to haul everything downwards, trapping his knees together and letting his rising cock bob free. Hux flexes his wrists within their bonds and frowns; his teeth scrape across his lower lip. No. He isn’t going to ask Ren to free him. He can resist the urge to touch. The wet warmth of Ren’s breath trails up his bared chest, and then their mouths are together once more.

“Hux…” Ren sighs into the kiss, grinding his clothed erection into the hard press of Hux’s own. He groans and strips his shirt off in a single fluid motion, pulling Hux flush against him. “I want you.”

Heat flows through his every vein, filling him with an insatiable need. It doesn’t matter that his words spill unbidden from his mouth. “Need you. Didn’t know what to do.” His fingers anchor in Hux’s hair, pulling it tight into his fist. “You’re okay.” He kisses across Hux’s forehead, along his brows, down his nose. “You’re okay.”

Their next kiss is soft, slow: a delicate nibble of lips and flick of tongues. Ren’s cock twitches, a thin sheen of sweat starting to rise on their bared chests. Hux’s hips lift in the smallest of thrusts and a whine escapes him, only to be cut off by the insistent press of Ren’s lips.

He can’t get enough: Hux’s skin, his lips, his tongue, his breath on Ren’s face, the scent of smoke in his hair, his eyes burning into Ren’s own with a desire too ferocious to ignore. It’s all Ren can do not to sob in relief. He could have lost this.

“Wait here,” Ren pants, sliding from Hux’s lap, scrambling to the closet that passes for a ‘fresher on this shuttle. He sheds the last of his clothing in an undignified tangle on the floor. Grabbing the first bottle that looks suitable, Ren dashes back to where Hux sits, shirt undone and trousers around his knees. His hair is mussed, all trace of its usual product gone. His lips shine, kiss swollen and pink, and Ren feels his stomach clench with an emotion he doesn’t dare put a name to.

Hux, to his credit, is trying his hardest to seem detached, but Ren can see the way his eyes linger on his naked body. Hux’s gaze caresses his every scar, the same way his hands have done so many times in the past, and Ren feels a ripple of desire slide down his spine. He uncaps the bottle, squirting cool liquid into his palm to dribble between his fingers.

Hux’s eyes don’t leave him for a second. His face is flushed and glowing as his breathing speeds, and Ren feels a deep sense of satisfaction that only makes his arousal burn hotter. He slides his fingers between his cheeks, brushing over his hole and wetting his lips. Hux’s cock visibly twitches, the first bead of precome pearling at the tip as he shallowly thrusts into empty air.

Ren’s fingers are rough and blistered with blaster burns, an extra point of friction as he opens himself up, caring only for quickness. Pleasure will come soon enough.

Hux arches as Ren moves to hover astride him, tilting his head up to be kissed and letting out a gentle sigh when Ren dips down to indulge him. His shoulders tense at the cold slick of lube up his shaft, quickly warming in Ren’s palm with every stroke.

“Fuck. Ren.” All Hux’s arguments and admonishments have fallen by the wayside, lust-glazed eyes fluttering shut as Ren’s fingers stroke the back of his neck and he lowers himself into Hux’s lap again. With a little grunt, Ren grips Hux’s cock, circling his hole with the head, teasing himself and smirking at the glare Hux shoots him.

“Will you just—ohh…”

Sinking down inch by delicious inch, Ren wraps his arms around Hux’s shoulders, holding him close. He can feel Hux’s heart beating against his chest, strong and sure and undoubtedly alive. It brings a flutter to Ren’s chest that he chooses to chase away with action, rising up just a little and sliding back down with a moan.

Hux’s eyes clench shut, cock throbbing in the heat of Ren’s body. All he wants is to touch him, and his fingers twitch within their restraints. He strains forward, and his shoulders ache, but the desire to press himself to Ren is just too strong to ignore. The hot hardness of Ren’s cock presses against his stomach, rubbing against the faint trail of hair, sweat slicking his every movement. Ren tosses his head back, throat bobbing in front of Hux’s eyes as he slowly starts to bounce, easing himself up and sinking down, moans steadily growing louder.

Arms wrapping Hux completely, Ren mouths across his forehead, tongue flicking out to taste the sweet salt of Hux’s skin. His fingers wind into the hair at the nape of Hux’s neck once more. Hux’s hips thrust in time with his movements and his lips press open-mouthed kisses across Ren’s collarbones, nipping and sucking, biting gently, each new mark making Ren’s arousal spike. Hux is here. Hux is his.

And he is Hux’s.

Ren’s cock drags across the sweaty skin between them, slipping across the softness of Hux’s stomach, and he moans, circling his hips, needing to get the angle just right. He can feel Hux smile against his chest when he finds it and flexes his thighs, speeding his movements to impale himself over and over.

“Don’t stop,” Hux pants. Ren doesn’t think he could if he tried. Flicking his sweaty hair back, he guides Hux’s lips back down to his chest, whining a little at the hot brush of breath across his nipple.

Thankfully, Hux gets the message immediately, flicking his tongue out to circle the little bud and draw it into his mouth. His nose presses against Ren’s chest as he sucks and nibbles, Ren’s pace stuttering with every new lap of his tongue.

Hux! Oh—yes, more.”

Ren’s thighs bunch and flex with effort, his fingers gripping tight on the back of Hux’s chair for leverage. He brings one hand down to roughly fist his cock. The pace is brutal and heat is rising in the enclosed space, low moans reverberating around the small cockpit.

“Ren. Kylo, I’m going to come.” Hux’s breath is ragged and his teeth sink into Kylo’s shoulder, hard enough to draw blood, and Kylo moans in satisfaction.

Yessss,” Ren hisses, grinding down, chasing his own pleasure.

It’s all he wants; for Hux to mark him, inside and out, bind them together in sweat and blood and semen. He pushes harder, moving faster, Hux’s name a litany on his breath. He feels the thickening inside him and the warm pulsing wetness as Hux shudders, body going rigid. He laps at Ren’s shoulder, mouthing his name, still thrusting upwards as Ren fucks into his own hand. It only takes a few strokes before he is coating both their stomachs, moaning out his release before slumping over Hux, muscles trembling.

Breathing deep, Ren can feel the last of his worries melting away and leans into Hux, arms wrapped around his neck. Hux squirms beneath him, eyebrows furrowed, teeth catching his kiss-swollen lower lip, an edge of desperation to his voice.

“Kylo, the cuffs. I need to hold you. Please.”

He sags in relief as his arms are finally freed, the cuffs dropping to the floor with a simple wave of Ren’s hand. He immediately wraps them around him, holding Ren as close as possible, pressing his face to the bitten, sweaty shoulder and peppering it with soft kisses. One hand slides into the dark waves of Ren’s hair, stroking and soothing and Hux can’t believe he has gone as long as he has without touching it. He tilts Ren’s face towards his own, fingers curling around the shell of one overlarge ear, and pulls him into a slow, lazy kiss.

“I must say, when I was planning my escape, I didn’t have anything like this in mind,” Hux says with a sated smile. He runs a finger down Ren’s nose, kissing the tip of it.

This is it. This is the closest thing to home either of them has, and Hux’s breath catches in his throat at the thought. He cradles Ren to his chest, heart hammering. It’s too big an admission to say out loud.

Ren just pulls closer. Goosebumps are starting to rise on his skin, making him crave Hux’s warmth. He pulls back, pressing their foreheads together. He can feel Hux’s heart beating alongside his own and he is suddenly fully aware that they are thinking the same thing.

There will be a lot to talk about when they get back to the Finalizer.

Together, they gaze at the star streaks of the galaxy, leading forwards.

It can wait for now.

Hux threads his fingers through Ren’s hair, gently stroking, head pressed to one bare shoulder. His lips are soft against Ren’s skin as he mumbles, barely a whisper, “Thank you for rescuing me.”