He should have known better, Hux thought sourly. Nothing good was ever going to come from something so reckless, so utterly foolhardy. If he hadn’t been so frustrated, strung out on adrenaline and exhaustion, Hux never would have agreed to it in the first place. He didn’t know why he hadn’t seen it sooner - there was never any chance of coming out of this unscathed.
Ren hadn’t left yet, Hux could still feel him lingering beyond the closed door to the rest of the apartment. Even that should have been a warning sign, the way he had begun to anticipate Ren’s arrival well before the sound of heavy footfalls announced his presence, before he hailed the Finalizer from his approaching shuttle, before he showed up at meetings he wasn’t even supposed to attend. Hux had ignored it, the way he ignored the loneliness that began to gnaw at him when Ren was off-ship doing stars only knew what for Snoke.
In the way of things left alone too long, that curious knowing had grown when he wasn’t looking and begun to silently fester. Curling up around the nameless ache, Hux tried to at least mask his misery until Ren finally left. Why had he ever let this start? When had it stopped being enough?
“Hux?” Ren’s voice came from just outside the door, muffled by the heavy steel. He sounded confused, almost concerned , and Hux’s face burned with shame. Squeezing his eyes shut tight, he promised himself this would be the last time.
“Go on, then,” Hux replied, as dismissively as he could manage. Regret settled heavy in his stomach like a stone. “We’re finished.”
No physical contact - that was the arrangement. Hux preferred no visual contact either, which he explained by shutting the door to his private quarters directly in Kylo Ren’s face. They communicated through private messaging on the Finalizer’s holonet until Ren was ready to begin, at which point Hux allowed mental contact if necessary - provided it was kept brief and to the point.
It was a simple transaction and nothing more, equally beneficial to both parties. Nothing about this was to be misunderstood as intimate.
When Ren first came to him with the idea, Hux dismissed it outright. It was inappropriate in the extreme, not to mention humiliating and absurd. If they hadn’t been drinking, Hux was sure the words would have never left his co-commander’s mouth.
As it stood, construction on Starkiller was delayed due to a materials shortage that was no closer to being solved, there had been a critical malfunction in the primary lift system that Engineering still couldn’t get sorted, and two vital communication arrays were down. When Ren found him enjoying a rare moment of peace and quiet on an empty observation deck, Hux had chalked it up to one more aggravation in an already ruined cycle. When Ren sat down next to him and offered him a bottle of high proof whiskey, Hux had laughed bitterly and taken it. When Ren finally stopped tapping his fingers on the armrest, cleared his throat for the fourth time, and actually got to the point, Hux immediately handed the bottle back.
“Have you lost your mind,” Hux asked after a silent beat. “Do I need to escort you to med bay?”
“Supreme Leader feels that we -”
“This was Snoke’s idea?” Hux interrupted, practically hissing out the words through clenched teeth. Embarrassment seethed and boiled in his chest. How dare he even suggest something so - so -
“Let me finish,” Ren growled. “He thinks that keeping us at odds will produce better results, but I disagree. Working at cross-purposes will only hurt us - and the Order - in the long run.”
Hux’s eyes widened at the treasonous statement. “Then you’re questioning Supreme Leader’s wisdom in this?”
“No, I -” Ren looked away for a moment, clearly frustrated. His fists clenched where he held them stiffly against his thighs, looking as though he might at any moment spring up in a fury. “Yes. Maybe. Hux, he wants us at each other’s throats. He’s running you ragged to keep you off balance. You’re no good to anyone like this, and you know it.”
“I will not have my competency to command questioned by a child who can’t control his own temper,” Hux snapped.
Ren’s hand moved to his belt, fingers tightening around the hilt of his saber while his eyes narrowed. A swift moving anger transformed his face, his lips pulling back like an animal poised for attack. Hux rolled his eyes, contriving to look bored instead of intimidated. After a long, tense silence, Ren gradually began to relax, flexing his hand after dropping his hold on the saber.
“You see?” There was a strained sort of earnestness about Ren’s expression, and it left Hux ill at ease. “We could accomplish so much more if we stopped wasting our time attacking one another.”
“You mean if we get to know each other better?” Hux sneered, making the words obscene with emphasis.
“I’m not offering you friendship,” Ren managed to clarify while remaining deliberately obtuse. “What I’m offering is a mutually beneficial exchange. An understanding.”
“An exchange,” Hux repeated. The idea was laughable, and entirely unappealing. Disgusting, actually. He had absolutely no interest in doing anything of the sort with Kylo Ren, ‘mutually beneficial’ or not. “I don’t want your hands on me. I don’t want you anywhere near me, in fact, so I think this discussion is over.”
“I don’t have to touch you,” Ren said after a brief, but terribly uncomfortable pause.
“How silly of me,” Hux drawled, swiping the bottle of whiskey and taking a drink. “I thought you understood how this worked.”
“I’m quite familiar,” Ren said, the words nearly a growl in his throat. He fixed Hux with a fierce stare, as daring him to question.
Hux merely raised one eyebrow at the sudden defensiveness and took another swig. He nearly choked when a light, phantom touch stroked along his inner thigh, making him shiver. His lips parted in surprise and Ren nodded as if answering a question.
“Beneficial,” he said, canting his voice low as if trying to appear seductive. “Mutual. Even if you won't let me - well -” Ren stumbled over his words, ruining the effect. “Still, I - I get some practice in precision, non-lethal applications of the Force, and you get -”
“I get off,” Hux supplied. Non-lethal , his brain repeated, in case he missed it the first time.
“You get relaxation,” Ren suggested, regaining his footing in the conversation. “You never take shore leave. You won’t sleep with your officers because you find the power differential inappropriate. I’m the only one on this ship equal to you in rank and you don’t want to admit it, but you need an outlet.”
“I don’t need anything from you,” Hux corrected him, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth.
“You need my cooperation,” Ren pointed out.
“I’ve done just fine without it so far,” Hux snapped back, wishing Ren wasn’t right.
“Suit yourself,” Ren barked, standing up from the bench abruptly. Hux looked up where Ren towered over him, his vision beginning to blur around the edges. He seemed about to say something else, but decided against it, jamming his helmet back over his head and turning toward the door.
Hux took another long pull from the bottle as the door slammed shut too quickly, the metal squealing out a complaint. He cursed the universe for at least the thousandth time for sticking him with such a churlish barbarian. If he had to have a co-commander - and really, Hux had never seen Snoke’s vision there - why couldn’t it at least have been someone reasonable?
Unless, of course, Ren was right.
Shaking his head, Hux stared out the viewport at myriad pinpoints of light, each hovering in their own separate understanding of darkness. Maybe - no. It was ridiculous. Obscene. It was nothing short of the most uncomfortable conversation of his life, and Hux knew he wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it anytime soon.
Running his hands down the backs of his arms, Hux tried to smooth the hairs rising from goosebumps that still remained. Obscene , he reminded himself. Utterly inappropriate for someone of his station.
An hour and most of the bottle later, he sent Ren a message from his datapad. If I agreed
Yes? Came the eventual terse response.
Hux swilled the dregs of whiskey around in the bottom of the glass. If I agreed, how would we go about this?
Would you rather I tell you, or show you?
Hux imagined he felt the soft brush of fingers at the base of his neck and swatted at it. 23:00 tomorrow. Show me.
Describing the first experience as unusual would be a tremendous understatement. Hux hadn’t known what to expect, but an absolutely star-shattering orgasm that left him gasping and stunned hadn’t been it. It was rough and a bit fumbling, but did the trick. Something about not being able to see his partner, about the way he could feel those massive, strong hands at his wrists, over his thighs, on his cock proved entirely overwhelming. Even before it was over, Hux wanted to do it again.
If he’d worried that it would change their working relationship for the worse (and he did), those fears were soon mostly assuaged. It didn’t solve their every problem, of course, but it did change the tenor of their interactions with one another. Hux found he didn’t mind so much when they actually had to speak in the course of carrying out their respective duties. Ren’s strides shortened, or his lengthened, to match the other as they walked the halls of the Finalizer, strategizing, conspiring.
After a while, when Ren followed him onto the bridge, his usual looming presence gave way to something less menacing, something more - dare Hux say it - attentive. Their arguments before the crew were no less frequent, but far less destructive. Occasionally, they even agreed.
Hux hated admitting that Ren had been right, but he’d gotten far more sleep since beginning their arrangement than he had in months. He was focused, sharp, productive. His eternally dwindling supply of stims had begun to build back up. Hux had never enjoyed being passive when it came to sex, preferring to control every aspect of the struggle that he could, but he was discovering that receiving without having to give a damn thing was actually ideal.
Intriguingly, the phantom touches grew bolder over time, exploring, mapping his every angle, every fold. The awkwardness had fallen away, his wraith-like visitor growing more sure of himself, and after a while, even the brutish handling began to shift into something more elegant. Each new sensation drawn from him was revelatory, filed away and kept to relive when he was actually alone. Hux kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Ren to threaten him, blackmail him - anything but continue to service him without asking for anything in return. It never did, and Hux never thought to offer.
His name in a whisper, more a breath, a moan, than actual speech, resonated in Hux’s mind and pulled him up from tangled dreams of failure. There was a presence with him, nearly palpable in the smothering dark. It waited, and wanted, and Hux felt an answering heat rise beneath his skin.
No phantom hand stretched out from the aether to touch him, the air cool and undisturbed above his bunk. There had been no communication, no arrangement for the evening, and Hux had fallen asleep early reading subordinates’ reports on munitions stores. This wasn’t the plan, this wasn’t what they had agreed upon, and yet -
A gasp echoed in his mind, loud and wet, while the haze of sleep blanketing his thoughts began to recede. Understanding dawned; Ren wasn’t reaching out to him deliberately, not this time. No, his co-commander was relieving some stress of his own, and thinking about Hux while doing it.
The thought would have made him deeply uncomfortable a year, even six months ago. Now Hux felt a flush spreading across his skin, unaccountably aroused by the idea. Something in him unwisely turned toward the presence haunting the edges of his thoughts, answering it, opening to it, before he could second-guess the impulse.
A sudden awareness flickered across the connection, like a light turning on in an adjacent room. Waves of desire rolled in, overtaking Hux, drowning him, and all conscious thought fell quickly by the wayside. He tugged down the soft trousers he slept in, wrapping his hand around his growing erection and giving it a fierce stroke.
His eyes were shut but he could see another room, another hand moving in tandem, feel the jolts of Ren’s pleasure as if they were his own. Hux lost track of the boundaries between them as everything merged into a single point of focus, one sensation, one goal. His hand was slick, pre-come leaking down to ease the slide as he pulled his foreskin down and back up over the head, swollen and straining and full.
When the release hit him, too soon, Hux felt it both within and without. It was his and it wasn’t, too tangled to sort out even if he wanted to. He bit down hard on his lip, stroking himself through it, his hips still thrusting against the empty air as he rode out the aftershocks.
As his breathing began to even out, a feather-light touch grazed his cheek and was just as hastily withdrawn. A feeling he could only describe as intense disgust washed over Hux from outside himself, making his stomach churn. A sudden shock, then, the disconnection of Ren’s mind from his own like a slamming door or a splash of cold water, and Hux rolled over on his side, drawing his knees up to his chest.
Arsehole , he thought, forming the word from pure spite, in case Ren was still listening. You started it .
Ren seemed disinclined to discuss the incident afterward, which suited Hux just fine. The next time he arranged one of their sessions, it was simple and quick, performed with near clinical detachment. Hux felt at once neglected and used, and then chastised himself for both. They’d been using each other for their own ends for years, hadn’t they? Why should he want - or expect - anything else?
He was getting what he needed out of it, and that was what mattered.
Hux was bored. The high-level meeting was necessary to discuss the Order’s dwindling supplies of thorilide in the wake of failed negotiations with the Guild, but it was also absolutely stultifying. His weren’t the only eyes around the table beginning to glaze over. Hux stifled a yawn and sat up, determined to pay attention since it seemed that no one else was.
A subtle pressure against his hip drew his attention away from the lettering on Colonel Kaplan’s armband, a coincidence he never failed to find humorous. Light but purposeful, it slid down to caress his inner thigh, unerringly seeking out the most sensitive points. Hux swallowed hard as the invisible touch moved back up, barely brushing the side of his cock where his regulation briefs kept it snugly in place.
What do you think you’re doing? Hux wasn’t skilled in this, and his attempts consisted of thinking very loudly in Ren’s direction, if such a thing were actually possible. It made him feel stupid.
Waking you up, came the smooth reply, sliding in between his thoughts as if the words had been there all along.
Refusing to turn around to where Ren stood along the back wall, having of course arrived late, Hux stared determinedly at Kaplan. The Colonel tugged at his collar, small drops of sweat standing out against his skin. If he made him nervous, Hux reasoned, Kaplan would get the presentation over with that much faster.
A spectral hand slid across Hux’s waist, the tips of non-existent fingers dragging lightly over his skin, and he shivered. It moved up, tweaking a nipple, and he gave a small grunt of surprise. Kaplan faltered in his speech, and Hux glared.
“Carry on, Colonel, we don’t have all cycle.”
Kaplan visible blanched and stuttered a bit, searching the projected graphs for his place. Meanwhile, Hux’s invisible tormentor wasn’t finished, stroking the side of his neck and tugging lightly on the short hairs below his cap. What felt like a thumb slid beneath his earlobe and massaged tiny circles into the hollow there. Hux closed his eyes for a brief moment before remembering where he was and forcing his posture erect.
Unfortunately, his back wasn’t the only thing growing stiff as covert hands caressed and cajoled, making Hux bite his tongue and hold his breath. Kaplan’s report droned on and Hux heard fragments - the moons of Antev III, the viability of galtakki crystals, something about tidal charts. Would he ever stop talking?
There were fingers at the base of his spine, Hux could feel powerful thumbs digging into the muscles and nearly drawing out a groan. He wanted to say stop , wanted to tell Ren that he had a kriffing job to do, that he didn’t have time for this nonsense - but he didn’t. Hux focused, and refocused when instead of travelling up his back, as Hux anticipated, his obscure servitor decided to make its way down.
Back to the Ttelek system, yes, of course, Hux was following. A bead of sweat formed at his brow and he wiped it away before it could fall. There was a hand on his ass, squeezing, pinching, definable fingers drifting closer to the center. No one cares about binary gas giants, Kaplan, move along.
A small mostly water planet, there, that had potential. A single point of pressure moved in slow circles over the end of his sacrum, slipping down into the cleft of his ass and then back up again, over and over. Sparsely inhabited, you’re right Kaplan, that is a point in its favor. Tell us more.
The pressure shifted, sliding down, down, until it rested against his rim. It stayed there, still, while Hux listened to a risk assessment of underwater mining operations. Oh, for the love of -
“Colonel,” Hux interrupted, his voice gone a bit shrill even to his own ears. “If there is an established civilization of giant, sentient sea creatures spanning both oceans, the planet no longer counts as sparsely inhabited!”
Yes, they would like to hear about his next proposed location. Hux glanced at his chronometer, stifling a sigh. The contact at his entrance began to shift slowly back and forth, rubbing the tight muscle until it clenched even harder, and Hux swallowed down his frustration. Jartunn? Never heard of it. Triune moons, fine. Advanced mining operations already underway, excellent.
Hux sat up, having slumped down a bit in his seat, aiming to appear interested. He was, technically. He was just - extremely distracted. Heavily fortified? Well, they could handle that. Few extra-stellar trading partners, even better. Less potential interference.
A quick stroke now, down his left side, over his hip bone, and down to his groin. Lingering, brushing so lightly across his skin that Hux had to concentrate to feel it. Pfassk, he had missed something important.
“Could you repeat that?” Hux forced his eyes wide, knowing his pupils were blown from the way the lights had sharpened, suddenly too bright. Kaplan cleared his throat, and now some of the other officers were beginning to look at him askance. Perhaps he should call the meeting early.
The pressure on his rim increased until Hux felt it slip inside, just barely, but enough to ruin him. Don’t you dare make me come , he ordered, struggling to pull his thoughts together. The last thing he needed was to make a mess of himself in front of the entire room, seven floors below his quarters.
As you wish, General.
Hux felt a band of pressure contract around the base of his cock and nearly screamed. The touches ceased for a few minutes while Kaplan repeated himself, and Hux somehow managed to digest every word. A slow, rising heat stole over him, his senses tinted with intense arousal, and Hux knew his short-lived focus was doomed.
Other officers had begun asking questions in the interim, some good, some extremely foolish. Hux cut Major Husak off mid-way through her inquiry as to the viability of a staging ground on Jartunn Prime, clapping his hands to draw the room’s attention.
“Thank you, Colonel,” Hux said with a sharp nod of acknowledgement. “I will review your reports and speak with you further at a later time. Good discussion. Meeting adjourned.”
Several captains looked back and forth amongst themselves, clearly confused. Kaplan, for his part, looked relieved enough to cry as he gathered his materials and fled the room. A small gaggle of lieutenants moved as one unit, standing up from the table and following Kaplan out the door, deep in conversation. When it was only Kylo Ren left, Hux stood, wrapped his greatcoat around him, and left the room without a word.
Several metres down the hall, he found an unoccupied office and ducked inside, all but slamming the door shut behind him. He made it as far as a large desk near the back before collapsing in the chair and sliding his palm down the front of his trousers. He let out a soft moan, reclining as the backrest tilted toward the viewport.
An unseen hand abruptly pushed his own away. A weight settled across his hips, anchoring Hux to the chair as fingertips dragged lightly down his chest, teasing. The sound he made was humiliating, begging wordlessly for touch, for relief, release. Pressure built beneath him, circling, rubbing, driving him absolutely kriffing mad before finally thrusting up beyond the tight ring of muscle.
Hux gasped aloud, choking at the intensity of sensation rocketing through his nerves like an electric bolt. His trousers seemed to unbutton themselves and Hux shoved his briefs down, taking himself in hand. It didn’t take long, between the deep, rhythmic thrusts from below and his tight grip, flying over his shaft in a blur. Hux came hard, tiny lights flaring and bursting in his peripheral vision as he tried, and failed, to keep from staining his uniform.
The pressure on his hips lifted without warning, and he nearly slid out of the chair. Collapsing forward, Hux rested his head against the cool metal desktop and tried to breathe. Full body shudders wracked his frame, his eyelids began to droop while the everyday sounds of life on a crowded star destroyer began to filter back in.
Don’t you ever do that again, he ordered, barely capable of a commanding tone even in his mind.
You enjoyed it, came the immediate response, followed by a sharp tweak of his nipple. Hux could hear the smug smile behind Ren’s voice, imagined a self-satisfied expression hidden behind the mask. He wanted, improbably, untruthfully, to disagree.
While Starkiller’s planet thankfully came with its own supply of kyber, there were a great many other supplies it could not provide. One of the most vexing to acquire was now entirely depleted, causing production delays and reducing efficiency to completely unacceptable levels. After reviewing Colonel Kaplan’s painstaking analyses, Hux decided to launch a shadow campaign on one of Jartunn’s three mineral-rich moons - after all, he had close to hand the perfect weapon for the job.
Ren had been gone for nearly three standard weeks when Hux felt the familiar tug on the edges of his thoughts, the strangely tidal pull that he had somehow begun to think of as normal. The intangible presence brought with it a near palpable sense of relief, not only at the thought of continuing their arrangement, but in anticipation of the deep and restful sleep Hux seemed incapable of attaining without it. It was frustrating, and honestly a little embarrassing to have allowed himself to become dependent on someone else’s assistance, particularly when that someone else was Kylo kriffing Ren. Still, if it was a choice between that or returning to the burnt-out neon landscape of chronic insomnia, he would endure a little embarrassment.
Hux was off duty, curled up in a corner of his couch with a glass of expensive red tsiraki when he felt that presence stop unexpectedly outside his rooms. He frowned when the buzzer signaled a request for entrance, and pressed the option on his datapad to allow it. Ren stalked into the room, the ends of his ratty cowl swirling dramatically around him as though that impressed anyone anymore. Hux didn’t know, maybe it still worked on the lower rank and file. He stopped just inside the door, hands raised to either side of his helmet.
“Yes?” Hux asked, funneling as much annoyance as possible into a single word.
It wouldn’t disguise the way his traitorous heartbeat skipped forward just a tic, feeling Ren’s gaze on him even though the stupid mask. Hux could feel it like the slightest brush of fingers, sliding down from his pursed lips to his chest, a hint of pale skin showing through the gap in his robe’s lapels. It followed the lines of his body as he sat up, rearranging the heavy dark pleats to at least make an attempt at decency.
Hux wondered how much it really mattered. There wasn’t any part of him that Ren hadn’t seen, if that was even the correct word, nothing he hadn’t yet felt out the shape of with his mind. That should probably embarrass him as well, Hux thought, and it might, if not for the half empty bottle beside him. It had been a long day.
“My mission on Tun’jekk was a success,” Ren said, slipping off his helmet and tucking it under his arm.
“Good to know?” Hux said, raising an eyebrow.
“You always complain that I avoid my debriefs,” Ren said, suddenly testy. “Given the importance of this operation, I thought you might prefer I deliver my results in person.”
“Thought you’d avoid filling out your mission report, you mean,” Hux said, gesturing widely with his glass. “You’re not the first of my subordinates to try that.”
“I’m not your subordinate!” Ren protested loudly.
“No,” Hux said with a sigh. “Regrettably not.”
Anger bloomed on Ren’s face, staining it red with a rising flush. He turned on his heel and smashed the control panel by the door with his open palm. Hux frowned. Could no one on this ship take a joke?
“Temper, temper,” he grumbled at Ren’s retreating form. “Would you like a drink? Before you deliver your report, I mean.”
Ren stopped in the doorway, turning his head. “A drink?”
“Yes,” Hux said, elongating the syllable. “A beverage, in this case alcohol. A liquid meant to be swallowed.” He overpronounced the last, holding up his now empty glass and affecting a face of perfect innocence.
Ren simply stared at him. “You’re drunk,” he observed.
“Maybe,” Hux allowed. “Probably. It’s been a hell of a week.”
“Have you slept?”
“Not really,” Hux admitted.
“Would you like me to help with that?” There was a hint of eagerness on Ren’s face, something almost hopeful, and Hux felt the beginnings of a blush.
He shushed him instead, loudly, using the remote function to close the door behind him. “I would like for you to sit down,” Hux said, “instead of telling the entire wing about our - arrangement.”
“All right,” Ren said, approaching the couch a bit warily. “Do you have anything else?” he asked, gesturing to the tsiraki.
“Too good for my choice in liquor?” Hux wasn’t particularly affronted; the tsiraki he kept on hand was a damn sight better than the homebrew the boys at the academy had made out of pilfered fruit and pickling spices from the kitchens, but it was still an acquired taste. He had just acquired it earlier than most.
“It tastes like engine degreaser,” Ren complained.
“Would you know?” Hux asked, aiming for scandalized.
“There was an incident with a T-16,” Ren said with a shrug.
“Why am I not surprised,” Hux mused. “Bottom cabinet, underneath the caf distiller.”
Ren followed his gestures and pulled out a nearly full bottle of bright yellow bitterfruit. “Not to your taste?”
“It was a gift,” Hux explained. “And it’s disgusting. Help yourself.”
Ren opened three more cabinets until he found a glass and filled it halfway. Returning to the couch, he paused by the small side table, one hand at his cowl where it had bunched up around his neck. “Do you mind?” he asked, and somehow Hux managed to intuit that what he was asking.
“By all means,” he said graciously, raising his newly refilled glass in salute. Maybe Ren wouldn’t stop with just removing the outerwear. Maybe Hux had had more to drink than he thought.
If Ren skimmed any of those thoughts from his mind, he thankfully kept it to himself. Unwinding the cowl, he draped it over the back of the sofa like some sort of decorative throw. Retrieving his glass, he flopped down a respectable distance away from Hux and leaned against the cushion at the other end.
“So,” Hux said conversationally. “Tun’jekk.”
“Right,” Ren said, still looking at Hux as though he had grown a second head. “All went according to plan, more or less. The inhabitants near the primary mining stations at Kel-jan provided some - well, significant - resistance, but the leaders of the rebellion have been neutralized. The Seneschal is cooperating and a new ruling council is in place. Any remaining natural threats to operations were removed.”
“Natural threats?” Hux found himself oddly curious.
“When I say that there were birds, it doesn’t really convey the scope of the problem.”
Hux attempted to cover up a snicker, and nearly succeeded. Ren’s lips twitched, as if he couldn’t quite resist a smile.
“The mines are in good shape,” he continued, “they just, uh, need a few structural repairs.”
“Hmm,” Hux murmured into his glass, mentally tallying up the reconstruction costs.
“That wasn’t my fault,” Ren said, sitting up a bit straighter.
“Did I say it was?” Hux pursed his lips. “Continue.”
Ren cleared his throat. “Three of the mines have been surveyed, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their potential output. Five more surveys are ongoing. All tests indicate that tunjarr crystals should prove an excellent substitute for thorilide in turbolaser construction.”
“Hopefully less of a pain in the arse, too,” Hux said.
“Since tunjarr doesn’t degrade once you blow it out of the ground,” Ren agreed. Leaning over to the small table in front of the sofa, he refilled his glass with the sparkling saffron liquid.
“Is that all?” Hux asked with a small yawn when Ren settled back easily against the cushions.
Ren frowned. “Was that not enough?”
“Well, you were gone for three weeks,” Hux said with a shrug. “I just thought you might have been busier.”
A wrinkle creased Ren’s brow and his hand tightened around the glass. “Busier?”
Sensing the potential storm brewing, Hux thought better of his needling comment. “I suppose stamping out a rebellion in a major population center and establishing a puppet government was enough to keep you occupied,” he allowed.
“I suppose it was,” Ren grumbled, taking a drink. “I don’t have eighty-thousand subordinates to do my job for me.”
“No,” Hux snapped, setting his glass down on the table with a loud bang. “You have six, because you couldn’t manage eight, much less eighty-thousand. Do you have any idea what I actually do on this ship?”
“No,” Hux interrupted before he could answer. “You don’t. You’ve no idea, because you’ve never had any real responsibilities. Never had to work your way up the ranks. No, you’ve always been someone’s pet .”
Ren closed his eyes, his free hand closing into a tight fist on his lap. The cabinet doors in the kitchenette opened and closed, one after the other, all in a row. “From what I hear,” he said, after taking a moment, “you never had to work your way up, either. Being daddy’s boy has its privileges.”
“Say that again, and I will personally escort you out an airlock.” Hux knew how the officers talked when his back was turned. Being Brendol Hux’s son must have sounded a lot better than it actually was; those Hux knew by name wouldn’t have lasted a week.
“This is why I don’t deliver my reports in person,” Ren said, opening his eyes and taking another drink.
“You don’t do your reports at all,” Hux said with a dismissive wave.
“True,” Ren answered, staring down at his hands.
“All things considered,” Hux mused, “it went rather well, wouldn’t you say? You didn’t try to cut me in half with your plasma sword, and I didn’t poison your drink.”
Ren barked out a laugh. “Yes,” he agreed. “By those standards, my report went fine.”
“Thank you,” Hux said quietly, knowing Ren would hear the implied for the company . Ren simply nodded, looking elsewhere. Hux wondered what he was thinking, his mouth twisting at the certainty that he would never know.
Something bitter rose up in Hux’s throat at the contrived politeness and an unpleasant hum of electricity began to grow beneath his skin. It was suddenly too much, being in the same room with Ren, sharing a drink and what might pass for companionable silence, when silence wasn’t what he wanted. Silence wouldn’t break the current sparking out to run the length of his body, setting his hairs on end; silence wouldn’t stop him from thinking about what those hands, so proudly on display, would feel like on his wrists, his hips, inside -
Silence kept Hux from humiliating himself, and he clung to it for a few more moments until he thought he could trust his tongue.
“I’m going to bed,” Hux said abruptly, rising to his feet with a bit of a wobble. He pretended not to notice the steadying press in the small of his back, and Ren, thankfully, said nothing. “Feel free to finish your drink,” he added magnanimously, heading toward the smaller second room that housed his bunk. Pressing the small panel to the right of the entry, Hux slid the door shut behind him without looking back.
He only leaned against the cool, sleek metal for a few seconds, letting the relief sink in, before moving forward, and telling himself to move on.
Hux had taken three steps toward the bed when the tie at his waist began to tug itself loose. He watched as the knot unwound, the slim black fabric sliding out from the loops to wind in a neat pile at his feet. He looked up at the ceiling and bit his lip, hesitant. He had never allowed this sort of thing with Ren in close proximity, but 6 metres or 600, Hux supposed it didn’t really make much of a difference. There was the door between them at least, and he wanted it too much to refuse out of some misplaced sense of propriety.
The robe began to slip slowly off his right shoulder, and Hux shrugged his arm free of the fabric. He felt the merest suggestion of a breath along the shell of his ear, the possibility of a whisper. Missed you like this . A very real sound left his throat, and Hux bit down on his tongue.
Taking it for encouragement, the idea of a hand slid boldly down Hux’s chest to toy with the short hairs below his waist. It tickled, and Hux swatted ineffectually at the phantom. The touch moved south, trailing along his inner thighs, before stroking the length of his hardening cock. Hux felt a flush blooming across his cheeks, thinking about the origin of those caresses being so close for the first time. He told himself, repeatedly, that it shouldn’t matter. Why did it matter?
The fabric of his robe lifted, rucking up in the back to allow a rougher touch, a grasp of his cheeks. He could feel the outline of fingers sliding into the cleft and gasped aloud when they pressed firmly against his rim. The pressure moved in a slow circle, teasing without pushing inside. An ungentle nudge shoved him forward toward the bed, and Hux complied, climbing onto the mattress. The robe fell to the side as he crawled forward, head hanging down, wondering how this was going to go.
He didn’t have long to wonder. A weight pressed down on his upper back, and Hux lowered himself onto his elbows. Fingertips dug into the meat of his hips, dragging him back to position him just so. He felt exposed, ass in the air, pointing toward the door as if being presented. He was usually on his back or his side for this, once flat on his stomach, though that hadn’t gone particularly well. This was new, and strange, as if someone were actually standing behind him to -
Light touches trailed down his sides, distracting, soothing, before continuing down his legs, the backs of his knees, his ankles. Hux couldn’t abide his feet being touched; it had only taken one misguided attempt to sort that out between them, and thankfully the sensations began moving slowly again up the backs of his thighs. The firm press of fingertips lingered in the creases just below the curves of his buttocks, kneading, before gently sliding up and parting his cheeks.
Hux heard the moan as it fell from his lips and cursed it. He’d never bothered to be silent after the first few times, but now he bit back the sound, self-conscious. Something ruffled his hair and brushed the back of his neck, as if to ease his mind, and he gave a low sigh at the gentleness. That had been perhaps his strangest realization - that Kylo Ren, of all people, knew how to be soft.
Right after the discovery that his hands could be, quite literally, everywhere at once.
A quick, firm stroke along his frenulum brought Hux viscerally back to the moment, his neglected cock jerking at the contact. A pinch at his nipple made him grunt, his eyes rolling back when something rubbed at the underside. A slide of sensation against his taint, ending in a light tug on his balls, made him close his eyes altogether, breathing hard.
Pressure at his entrance had him squirming, rubbing against the boundary until he thought he might have to beg for it. Hux groaned when he felt the penetration he was desperate for, slipping easily inside. It felt like two fingers, maybe more, though smoother and sometimes longer than they should be. Slowly stretching, thrusting, seeking out just the right places inside and brushing against them, over and over.
Pressing his forehead against the sheets, Hux thrust back against the frictionless intrusion. It had taken a while to get used to, if one could ever be said to get used to the feel of something inside him, taking up space, making room for itself, without the push-pull, the tug, the stalling until muscles relaxed just right. He relished the very real burn that came with an improbable stretch, being worked open so thoroughly that Hux felt he could probably take all of Ren, in person, with minimal preparation. That had become a well-worn fantasy in the intervening days, the long spaces between these times when he could be overwhelmed by an invisible touch, possessed by something beyond his understanding and still feel alone.
Hux remembered when uninterrupted solitude was bliss. By rights, he should hate Ren for what he’d done to him. Despise him, utterly. The problem was, he didn’t.
Angry at being ignored, his cock twitched, hanging dark and pendulous between his legs. Hux couldn’t help it, he brought his right hand back to ease the ache, only managing a few strokes before that hand was wrenched away and pinned down to the bed. It wasn’t painful, merely forceful, and Hux laughed at the game. He thought about doing it again, this time with the other hand, and felt the restriction press down hard around that wrist as well.
When his feet began to slide against the bedclothes, his hips thrusting too hard to focus on keeping them in place, Hux felt the welcome pressure settle over his calves. The sensation was becoming too much, the attention paid to his prostate searing through him like a lance. He could never have explained it, the way it felt, the way it wrecked him from the inside out, making him shake and beg for more.
He thought he heard himself whimper, a wordless plea, though no sound stirred the air. It was desperate, everything in him held on the edge of the release he needed. His muscles ached, twitching from the strain, while beads of sweat rolled down his face to drip on the sheets below. When the pressure slowly withdrew, Hux thought he might stroke out.
After a breathless moment that could have lasted seconds or stretched out over days, Hux felt a slow, gentle slide from the base of his cock to the tip. It squeezed, twisting around the head before moving back down, speeding up to a bearable pace and drawing long, low moans from his open mouth. His hips jerked forward, out of his control, his body rocking back and forth until finally, finally, it broke over him like a crashing wave. Hux threw his head back with a silent gasp that turned into a shuddering breath and for the first time, he shouted Kylo’s name into the dark.
Wrung out, muscles shaking as though they might unravel, Hux collapsed forward onto the bed. The haze that followed in the wake of pleasure drifted out across his thoughts, and the sparks gradually began to clear from his vision. The lightest of touches trailed down his back, making Hux shiver where he curled in on himself, eyes tightly shut. Abruptly, it was gone, all trace of the sensation that had worked him to his limit and sent him flying, leaving him uncomfortably grounded in his own skin.
He’d soaked the sheets below him, striping his chest and even the base of his neck with thick spurts of come. Rolling over just enough, Hux managed to clean himself off with a corner of the sheet before flinging it away. Something cold and unpleasant knotted in his gut. Even the air felt different, after the sudden disconnect from his ghost. Hux felt the absence keenly, more so tonight than ever before. It built quickly, spiraling down into a fractured sort of grief, a loss he couldn’t name. It wasn’t enough. It was never enough, but Hux had always been good at lying to himself.
He never should have let this start. He should be the one to end it.
“Hux?” Ren’s voice came from just outside the door, muffled by the heavy steel. He sounded confused, almost concerned , and Hux’s face burned with the shame he knew he should have felt all along. It was humiliating, what he’d been reduced to. Shoving a pillow back where it belonged, Hux promised himself this would be the last time.
“Go on, then,” Hux replied, as dismissively as he could manage. Regret settled heavy in his stomach like a stone. “We’re finished, aren’t we?”
Silence, then, for the space of several heartbeats. “No,” came the answer, the door sliding open as if to punctuate Ren’s assertion. “We aren’t.”
Hux scrambled back against the headboard, grabbing for his robe where it lay discarded at the foot of the bed. It seemed ridiculous to try to cover himself, after everything, but strangely necessary in the moment.
“How dare you?” Hux’s burst of anger was less outrage at Ren’s entrance, uninvited, than it was being seen like this - naked, wounded, weak .
“You’re not,” Ren countered his unspoken thoughts, stolen without Hux’s permission.
“Stop doing that,” Hux snapped. “It’s not fair, and you know it.”
“You never tell me anything,” Ren said with a shrug. “What do you expect me to do?”
“I expect you to do as I say!” Hux demanded, each word louder than the last. It wasn’t a lie. It was what he expected, but as with so many things, expectation was not reality. Stay , his traitorous mind whispered. Lie down with me, put your hands on me, let me feel something real for once in my life.
Ren gingerly sat down on the edge of the bed, facing him. He’d taken off his tunic and looked somewhat disheveled in a tank shirt and bracers, hair falling in his face. “I don’t know what you want,” he said, sliding one hand across the sheets.
Hux looked at it for a moment as if it might bite, before rubbing at his eyes and covering his face. I want this to be real, he thought before he could strangle the words, before he could push the ache down and pretend it wasn’t there. It was childish, it was absurd. It was also the truth, no matter how much he hated it.
The mattress dipped as Ren shifted, bending down to shuck off his boots. Easing his way onto the bed with deliberate slowness, as though waiting for a reprimand, he moved to sit just close enough to brush Hux’s shoulder. “It could be,” he said quietly, looking down at his knees.
“We can’t stand one another.” Hux leaned, ever so slightly, against him.
“We barely know one another,” Ren countered.
“You’ve been on my ship for 3 years,” Hux said wryly.
“You spent 2 years and six months pretending I wasn’t,” Ren said, a hint of bitterness in his tone.
“I had to work very hard at that, you know, you’re difficult to ignore.” Hux regretted the words instantly. “What with all of your temper tantrums,” he clarified. “And your whole -” he gestured vaguely, “- aesthetic.”
“My aesthetic,” Ren repeated, his lips drawn in as though trying not to laugh.
“Your mask, your saber, the whole Vader thing. You delight in scaring the piss out of my crew,” Hux chastised, though there was no real venom behind it. He was too exhausted.
“Technically, they’re -”
“Don’t you even dare,” Hux warned, sitting up just enough to turn toward Ren, pointer finger raised in indignation.
Reaching out, Ren grabbed his hand and drew it up to his lips, pressing a soft kiss to Hux’s knuckles. Hux’s mouth dropped open, any further recriminations lost to surprise. “And do I frighten you?” Ren asked, his breath warm.
“Not for a moment,” Hux replied automatically, still stuck on the sensation of warm, plush lips against his skin.
“Liar,” Ren said with a smug grin. “You’re scared of me right now.”
Hux’s stomach churned. Ren had no idea what he was actually afraid of, if he thought it was him . Pulling his hand free from Ren’s grasp, he turned away, fumbling his way into the sleeves of his robe. Shuffling awkwardly across the bed, he sat on the side, giving his back to Ren. “Weren’t you leaving?”
“Hux,” Ren said, his name an exasperated breath. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said -”
“There are a lot of things you shouldn’t have said,” Hux sniped, remembering clearly the disgust riding the heels of Ren’s desire on that strange night when everything had blurred together. Ren hadn’t wanted Hux then, just the idea of him, and he didn’t want Hux now.
“I thought I crossed a line,” Ren admitted, and Hux’s anger flared, knowing he was eavesdropping on his thoughts again. “I thought - I’d ruined this, and you’d go back to hating me, and we’d never have the chance to be anything greater.”
“Greater?” Hux asked, confused. He couldn’t help it, he turned back to look at Ren and saw a strange new intensity laid out in the lines of his face.
Sheets rustled as Ren crawled over to where Hux sat and settled down behind him. “So much greater than the two of us separately, working against each other,” he said, wrapping his arms lightly around Hux’s waist, giving him room to protest. “That’s what I wanted, Hux.”
“This alliance of yours,” Hux said, caught between wanting to pull Ren’s arms closer and wanting to hide in the refresher to avoid the conversation altogether. He remembered the original awkward proposal, remembered the reasons given, and was still surprised he’d agreed to any part of it.
“Yes,” Ren confirmed. “At least - at first.”
Hux closed his eyes. “And later?”
“Later, I just wanted this,” Ren confessed in a rush, pulling Hux close against him. Hux let out a deep breath and gave in, sinking back into the warm embrace. It felt safe, strong arms around him, a sturdy chest at his back. Ren leaned in to nose at Hux’s ear, brushing his lips along the lobe. “Wanted you.”
“Well,” Hux said lightly after a few silent heartbeats, his throat gone tight. “You seem to have me.”
Do I? The words resonated in the hollows of his chest, unspoken but undeniably present. Hux didn’t answer, afraid of what he might say. Did he? Was he?
“I’m not used to being touched,” Hux said instead, the words coming slow and halting. “I didn’t want it, didn’t enjoy it when I had it. But - I like the way you do it. And I like your hands on me, right now. I might like other things, I don’t know.” Ren’s arms tightened around his waist, his breath tickling his neck as he ducked his head, listening.
“You said I was afraid of you,” Hux continued, at a bit of a loss. “I wasn’t, I’m not -”
Hux left off, unsure of how to explain. He abandoned words, letting his thoughts turn into images, opening doors in his mind that he’d promised himself would always stay shut. He might hate himself for it later, but for now it was better if Ren simply saw. Hux didn’t trust himself to speak to the circumstances.
Bruises rotting on pale, freckled skin. The blunt force of impact, the crystal sharpness of a break, the impersonal stare of the medical droid as it set the bone. The sting of a slap, and the ringing in his ears as he saw spots. The jeers of his classmates as a fist caught him in the teeth, or a boot found the gap between his ribs.
This, Hux wanted to say, this is what touch has been for me. This is what I was given, this is what I gave back. Anything else has been - rare.
He felt a warmth flow through him, simple comfort without pity, and for that Hux was grateful. Ren said nothing, letting him vent the poison in his veins until it was enough. Until the pressure could finally balance.
What you do is different, Hux thought pointedly, unable to speak the words aloud. I enjoyed it, craved it. That is what scared me, never you. He turned in Ren’s embrace, lifting his knees onto the bed and settling them on either side of Ren’s hips. Without the tie, the robe fell open around him, covering their legs like a curtain. Ren’s eyes fluttered shut as Hux leaned in, resting for just a moment against his brow, then -
A single word, barely a hesitant breath across the surface of Hux’s mind, from the man who, in this, had never asked him for anything. It raised the hair on his arms, lit up his nerves like lightning before stirring Hux into motion. He pulled back, raising his hands to either side of Ren’s face and cradling it gently. His thumb brushed along Ren’s cheekbone, and Ren turned into the touch, his face a study in hope, in wanting. Hux leaned in slowly, unaccustomed to tenderness, but resolved to try.
A gasp from Ren then, the sound swallowed up in the press of lips, soft against Hux’s own, dry and chapped. A tiny thought that he might fix that floated through his mind and drifted away, unimportant. Ren’s right hand left his waist to slide up the back of Hux’s neck, fingers threading gently through his hair. Hux sighed, his mouth seeking Ren’s again and again, only pulling away briefly to catch his breath before diving back down, addicted.
He slid forward without meaning to, pressing against Ren from waist to chest. Ren hummed against his mouth, canting his hips up and letting Hux feel his substantial arousal. Not for the first time, Hux wondered if Ren ever got off when he did, if he would have felt it, or if Ren kept that all to himself.
“Sometimes,” Ren murmured, “not tonight.”
“I’ll have to remedy that,” Hux said, his tone shifting toward unseemly.
“You don’t -” Ren started, but Hux was already sliding off his lap. Kneeling on the floor, Hux leaned in to tug at his waistband and found his efforts stymied. Frowning, he stretched up far enough to pull one of Ren’s bracers back and let it snap loudly against his chest.
“Ow!” Ren protested, rubbing a hand over his sore nipple. Rolling his eyes, he shrugged out of the bracers and obligingly shoved the trousers down over his hips before leaning back on his hands. Rising up on his knees, Hux tugged the offending garments the rest of the way off, not without some difficulty, and tossed them aside.
Ren’s briefs were next, decidedly not regulation, the soft grey fabric stretched taut over his erection. Hux lapped at the base of his shaft through the cloth, working his way up, hands braced against muscular thighs. Ren made a pleased sound, somewhere between a hum and a sigh, and Hux pulled the tip into his mouth.
Sucking gently through the barrier, Hux turned that sigh into a grunt and pulled back long enough to peel the fabric away altogether. Freed, Ren’s cock bobbed in Hux’s face, thick and flushed, a nest of dark hair at the root. Hux leaned in and tasted the precome beading in the slit, gratified by the harshly indrawn breath from overhead.
Shifting his weight, Ren was a bit more helpful when Hux eased the briefs off his hips and down over his legs. He stared down at Hux, gnawing at his lip, and Hux wondered if something about this made Ren nervous. No , came the immediate reply, and Hux smiled at the wordless tremor of anticipation that accompanied the simple thought. Settling himself between his legs, Hux wrapped his fingers around the base of Ren’s cock and got to work.
This was something Hux had always enjoyed, the feel of hot, heavy skin on his tongue, the weight of it, the taste. The sounds he could draw from his partner, the sounds he made himself, but most of all, the control it gave him. The way he could touch without being touched, could take someone apart without lowering his guard an inch.
This was about something different, but Hux refused to analyze. Losing himself in the task, he swirled his tongue around the swollen glans, sucking lightly, pumping his fist on the shaft. It was too much for him to take in all at once, but Hux had always liked a challenge, no matter the arena. Laving his tongue on the underside, he gave special attention to the strained line of muscle beneath the head and licked back up to the tip when Ren gave a loud moan.
His breaths were shallow, peppered with gasps whenever Hux did something new. The sleeves of his robe trailed along sensitive skin, sometimes brushing along the length of Ren’s cock, never failing to draw out a small, breathless sound. Hux could feel Ren’s thighs start to tremble as he swallowed down what he could of him, twisting his hand around the thick base. He sucked hard, finding a prominent vein with his tongue and dragging his fingertips beneath Ren’s balls.
“H-Hux, can I -” Ren struggled with the question. “Please, ah - stars - can I touch you?”
Yes , he allowed, not bothering to pull off to answer. Ren’s hands found his shoulder, his neck, and then there were fingers tugging at his hair. Hux moaned around Ren’s cock, surprised at the pinpricks of pain and pleasure along his scalp, and Ren cried out. His hips bucked and Hux drew back just enough to avoid gagging, still keeping a rhythm along his length.
“I’m close,” Ren warned. “Gonna -”
Sliding down the shaft, Hux swallowed around it, letting the head brush the roof of his mouth before opening his throat. Ren came with an inchoate shout that might have been Hux’s name, or might not even have been Basic, flooding Hux’s mouth with it. He sucked it down, salty and somewhat bitter, but not enough to stop. When his cock had given its last jerk on Hux’s tongue, he pulled off with a satisfying pop and gave the softening shaft a few more gentle strokes.
“Come up here,” Ren mumbled, or something like it, and Hux gave the head of his cock a parting kiss.
“I like your dick,” he said, just to be vulgar.
Ren laughed. “It likes you, too.”
Rising to his feet, Hux heard his knees creak loudly in the silence. It really had been a depressingly long time since he’d done that sort of thing. He found himself hoping he might be doing it more in the future - assuming, of course, that this hadn’t been a one off, that Ren actually wanted -
“Come. Here.” Ren repeated. “Stop thinking.”
Hux scoffed and climbed back on the bed, where Ren surprised him by wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling him down. The lights in the main room winked out, a comfortable darkness falling around them like a curtain. Curling up around him, Ren nuzzled at his ear and kissed the sensitive skin behind it. “That was amazing,” he murmured, a loose-limbed embodiment of afterglow. “You’re amazing.”
“You’re welcome,” Hux said, trying to keep the smugness from his tone and failing.
“You’re still wearing your robe,” Ren said, running a hand up under the cloth where it covered Hux’s ass, unable to resist a quick grope.
“You’re still wearing your shirt,” Hux countered, rolling over to face Ren and giving his nipple a light pinch in retaliation. Tugging at the hem when Ren swatted away his hand, Hux pulled the tank up over his chest. Ren squirmed his way out of it, tossing it somewhere over his shoulder and flopped back down.
Slowly, Ren slid a hand beneath the robe and ran it down Hux’s side, pushing the fabric back until it fell away from his hip. Hux sat up and shrugged it off, letting it slide from his arms and drop to the floor in a heap. Ren’s gaze roamed across his skin, taking in every detail, a small, sleepy smile never leaving his face.
“You sure this isn’t a dream?” he asked, cupping Hux’s cheek in his hand.
“No,” Hux said honestly, hooking his left arm over Ren’s shoulder in the gap between his neck and the pillow. “I suppose we’ll find out eventually.”
Shifting closer, he rested his right hand against Ren’s chest. His skin was warm, sweat-damp, and Hux could feel the beating heart beneath. He drifted in the comfort of the moment, in Ren’s hand trailing south to make patterns out of the freckles on his shoulder, in the sense of peace that had begun to settle over his thoughts.
“Can I stay?” Ren asked softly, and Hux realized his eyes had fallen shut. Blinking up at him, Hux nodded, and Ren’s hand shifted to rest in the small of his back. Hux let it linger there, making room for himself in the planes of Ren’s body, bending the angles until he belonged.