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Engine Tape was the name of the cantina Ben Solo owned and operated. It was a place where one could relax and lie low, get a hardy meal and a stiff drink, and conveniently… engine tape. Better to have and not need than to need and not have, as the saying went; after all, engine tape was one of the most vital things for a starship mechanic to possess for repair jobs or emergencies.

The cantina was located on the planet Roon, in the city Nime, which was situated in part of the galaxy that was formerly known as The Cloak of the Sith. The Roon system was often inaccessible due to its placement in the galaxy, spacers would often take the Manda-Roon Merchant Route, or, if smugglers wanted the more undetected and dangerous route, they could take the Death Wind Corridor.

Ben’s staff consisted mostly of Twileks, Duros, and humans, all of which were running from their former lives, much like Ben himself.

He was sent to train with his uncle Luke to become a Jedi when he was ten years old, that was when his power had grown more obvious and difficult for him to understand and control. He wasn’t upset about the fact that his parents were pushing him away, in fact, he was excited to be on his own and learn what the Force was and how it could benefit him once he gained control of it. He stayed and trained with Luke and other Force sensitive beings for more than a decade and was doing great until a voice entered his mind and tried to convince him that his power would be far greater when fueled by darkness, like his forebear.

Ben immediately sought Luke’s help and in short time assisted in banishing and blocking the voice from Ben’s mind. He wondered aloud to his uncle why a voice would suggest he was destined for darkness, like it ran in his blood. Luke simply waved it off with no explanation, but praised Ben for seeking aid and overcoming this dilemma. But Ben could see something hidden in Luke’s face, something of worry, of unspoken truths. He didn’t dwell on it long, but it would stay present in the back of his mind.

He was 22 when the Galactic Senate publicly outed Leia Organa’s biological parentage on the HoloNet. “Leia Organa, daughter of Darth Vader”, naturally the senate turned on her and her political career was virtually over. Ben was stunned yet illuminated all at once. This was the secret his parents and Luke had kept from him. This was what the voice was hinting at, his lineage to Darth Vader. Yes, he acknowledged and admitted he toed the line between the light and dark, but who didn’t? There were benefits to both sides, but giving himself wholly to one side? That just wasn’t him. He considered himself balanced, not torn, between the light and dark. And with this revelation he decided he wouldn’t conform to any side, he would erase the line he walked that separated dark from light.

He packed his few belongings: his lightsaber, his notebook, pen and ink. He walked to the nearest port, hijacked the smallest starship he could find, and went about setting a course for his own destiny.

Which led him to the planet of Roon… ultimately, because his starship was running on fumes and it was either land safely on Roon or crash land on some other planet or moon in Wild Space. Being of sound mind, he chose the former. He was exhausted his very first day planet side and didn’t do much exploring, instead he sat in one spot and simply observed the goings on of the city that he would now call home.

He sat quiet, without food, drink, or sleep for several days before realizing this city was on the dark side of the planet and there would be no sunrise. He was fine with that, he’d always preferred evenings and the atmosphere that came with it. The dark side of the planet was home to plenty of bars and clubs, a lot of traffic came from traders and smugglers amid their routes. It was the sort of crowd where you wouldn’t see the same person twice in months, and it was the sort of life Ben could get behind.

Perhaps not the smuggler or trader part, but he could easily serve patrons. His hunger was starting to get to him as he glanced around the port, ships were coming and going constantly. He’d have to follow the foot traffic that led to the main street and forage for scraps in the garbage. He wished he’d blend in a bit better, but among the crowd in his student robes he stuck out like stormtrooper in a rebel base. He ducked into an alley, food was his primary objective, then he’d see about salvaging clothes. Ben was just about to dive into a dumpster when a raspy voice called out to him, “Oi, oi! Don’t go in there! My goodness, boy!” A Duros male was waving his arms in the air as he hurriedly approached Ben. “Are you so desperate for food you would pick through rubbish?”

Ben was still poised in a pose to vault himself over the tall dumpster wall, he glanced around before answering, “Uhh… Yes.” And prepared to continue to heave himself upward, but the Duros wailed again, flapping his hands and gently grabbing at the fabric of Ben’s robes.

“You don’t have to do that! Come! Come with me. My wife makes lovely meals, far better than the questionable varieties of the rubbish bins.”

Ben wasn’t naïve in the least, but he did hop down from the dumpster edge and stood before the Duros male. He was on the shorter side of his race, Ben easily stood a foot taller than him. Instead of asking what this Duros’ intentions were he smoothly probed his mind with the Force. Ben was intrigued to find genuine concern for his wellbeing, there were no ulterior motives. Ben left the Duros’ mind and sighed, “Alright.”

The Duros people weren’t capable of much emotion in their faces, but the male’s eyes seemed to light up with joy. Ben shouldered his small bag of belongings and followed the male Duros’ lead.

They worked their way through the crowded main street until they were standing before a cantina with a large neon sign that said Engine Tape. From there the male Duros led Ben around the back, “We won’t go through the main entrance. My wife, Rozie, and I own the cantina and live above it, there’s a back way straight to the house.”

House seemed like the wrong word for a place of residence that sat directly atop a bustling cantina. But upon entering its accommodations Ben was surprised to find ‘house’ did fit. It was simply and tastefully decorated, well kept, with no messes in sight. The main room upon entrance into the house was the sitting room, there was plenty of comfortable looking plush seating situated around a Holoprojector that was set to HoloNetNews on low volume. Off to the right of the sitting room was an open and sensibly sized kitchen, along with a bar and several tall stools. Two hallways branched from the sitting room, but Ben doubted he would see where they led to.

The male Duros had named his wife as Rozie but had yet to introduce himself, so Ben met him halfway.

“I’m Ben.”

“Oh!” the Duros jumped, “Ben! Wonderful! Here, set down your things and have a seat at the kitchen there. I will relieve Rozie from the bar, she is far better at crafting food than me. Just a moment, Ben!” He was quite excitable and shuffling away down the hallway that branched to the left of the sitting room, still mumbling to himself. Ben shook his head, the fellow as so overzealous he didn’t take the cue to tell his own name.

He couldn’t help but smirk at a little at the Duros’ character, it was refreshing to meet someone so honestly good. He dropped his bag onto one of the stools and took a seat on another. The way the home was arranged made him have to turn all the way around to see the Holoprojector. The HHN was still playing footage from Leia Organa’s last statement as senator before her resignation. There were plenty of comments about her taking after her father, how she was war hungry and her allegations about the Empire rising again being wild and baseless. Other comments were wondering where Han Solo was while all this played out and what his thoughts were on his wife’s parentage. Ben turned back towards the kitchen, turned his back to his past, quite literally too.

Rozie’s footsteps were much louder than her husband’s, and understandably so as she stood just a few centimeters taller than Ben himself. “Ah,” she sighed, “So you’re Ben. Hello, I’m Rozie.” She gave him a nod and walked around him and into the kitchen.

“Hello,” Ben returned and watched her as she began to take out all sorts of cooking instruments, “Uh, I never caught your husband’s name.”

“Oh, he does that. He’s so busy in that head of his.” Rozie confirmed, “Nen is a story teller and a worrier. I’m not usually behind the bar, but he begged me to take up the station while he investigated the health of a boy he’s seen sitting by the docks for three days straight.” She briefly glanced at him to give him what he assumed was a pursed grin.

The boy they referred to was him, of course. “I’m regularly in the kitchen with my own staff,” Rozie explained, “I prefer indirect contact with the public, Nen is much more the people person. Are you a meat eater, my boy?”

Ben nodded, then remembered his manners, “Yes, ma’am.”

“Good, good,” Rozie began frying up fragrant root vegetables then added some form of meat that looked rather heinous but was likely the norm for outer rim planets. “You look like haven’t eaten a proper meal in decades let alone days.” And it was true, with Luke’s training they ate only what they planted and harvested on their own, there was no meat. Ben’s stomach sounded a ravenous growl, causing Rozie to chuckle, and Ben found himself chuckling along too.

What Ben had assumed would be a courteous meal and sending him on his way ended up being a place to eat, sleep, and live, as well as a place to work. Rozie and Nen Babid insisted he stay with them until he could manage on his own. They provided him with a few sets of new clothes, so he would no longer stick out in his student robes. The Babid’s had him start as something of a doorman, and in all honestly, he was a bouncer. Nen wanted him to have a chance at every station in the Engine Tape, so he would understand how the cantina operated as a whole. Every employee was initiated this way, so they would know the pressures of every station, and with this communal tolerance no fights would occur among the staff.

From a doorman Ben worked in the kitchen with Rozie and her staff, then as a server with Nen’s staff, and then behind the bar with Nen and the few others that proved they could handle working the bar. Ben found he liked working the bar, it was a good mix of working the kitchen and serving, but he got to stay behind the bar.

Staff came and went at Engine Tape but always on good terms. For most, Roon was temporary, a place to plant their feet and gather their bearings and set off on life’s journey again. For Ben, he was sure he would like to stay here for the rest of his life. Although… he would like to visit Naboo once. Since learning of Leia and Luke’s biological parents, most of the galaxy glanced over the fact that their mother was Padme Amidala, one of the most significant political figures of her time. Ben researched further on the Holonet and found photos of his grandmother void of traditional regal makeup and now understood where his numerous moles came from. He saved a few photos and a few of Padme’s speeches to his personal data pad to look over when he needed inspiration. He wished he could have known his grandmother… He wished Leia had known her mother… then maybe a whole bunch of events would have turned out differently. But there was no use to dwelling on the past. He looked up Naboo and there was something about the grassy hills and plains, the swamps, and seas, the mountains and forests that called to him, pulled at him. He saved those holophotos and holovids of Naboo’s landscapes to his data pad too. “Someday,” he’d mutter to himself whenever he’d review them after cantina hours in the still of the night.

Ben worked for the Babid’s for six years. After a year of work, he used the money he made to get a place of his own a few blocks away from Engine Tape. In the years following, there was only one notable mishap that ended with Ben losing his left hand to mid forearm. Of course, the one that had come at him and bisected his arm was arrested and imprisoned; Nen and Rozie, as well as some of the staff, covered the medical and prosthesis costs for Ben. For a while he only tended the bar with his right hand, still unused to the strange feeling of the cybernetic limb. It worked perfectly but it felt strange. With time he started using both hands, rolling up his sleeves to his forearms enough that patrons could see where the man began and the machine took over. He was the longest standing employee of the Babid’s and, in fact, had a hand in hiring the current, newest staff. Nen would say Ben had a good judge of character; he was either unaware of Ben’s connection with the Force or chose to ignore it, either way Ben and Rozie would share a knowing look before she rolled her eyes, causing Ben to smother a grin and chuckle, masking it as a cough behind his hand.

He was nearing his 28th birthday when the Babid’s approached him during closing. He was just finishing wiping down the bar and was beginning to flip the stools onto the counter top. There was no preamble, Nen just came out with it, “We’re leaving!”

Ben held one stool aloft between the floor and counter top, quiet for a few moments before he blurted, “What?”

Rozie stepped forward, to finish up the task of flipping the stools, “It’s Nen’s father, his health is failing. His mother wants us to be there. They’re located on our homeworld, Duro. We want to give the cantina to you, Ben.”

He couldn’t understand – well – he could understand, he just…. Didn’t understand. “Give me the cantina for how long?”

“Forever!” Nen answered jovially. The man was something to be admired, how he could constantly be so cheerful even during the saddest times, finding joy in the smallest things.

Ben balked, looking from Nen to Rozie, who just nodded, “The Engine Tape is yours now.”

A mishmash of words escaped Ben’s mouth, none of which were decipherable. He shook his head, “I can’t run this place, I-“

“Oh please, Ben, you’ve basically been running this place on your own for the past year. We’re not worried, and you shouldn’t be either.” Rozie swiftly cut him off with straight facts.

Sure, she was right, Ben couldn’t argue it. “But,” he stammered, accepting there was no changing their minds, “I’m… I’m gonna miss you guys.” He murmured.

Nen clicked his tongue and gasped before throwing his arms wide and enveloping Ben in a crushing embrace. “We will stay in contact, make no mistake about that, my boy.” Nen assured him. Ben returned the hug and glanced over the top of Nen’s head to Rozie who nodded in agreement, a smirk on her mouth.

All documentation was finalized the day before the Babid’s would board a starship, course set for the Core Worlds. Ben and all the current staff of Engine Tape saw them off, long hugs and farewell kisses and words of safe travels shared among them. Once the ship was airborne Ben and his staff went back to work. They opened up the cantina as usual… and nothing felt off. It felt as if it was work as usual, the perfect transition.

Under Ben’s management, he was always posted at the bar, open to close. The staff loved to tease him by calling him ‘Boss’ as loud and as often as possible whenever the opportunity presented itself. He didn’t see himself as the boss of Engine Tape, even if he wrote the schedule and signed the paychecks and lived upstairs. He’d taken up residence above Engine Tape just a week after the Babid’s left. At first, he wanted to keep it empty due to respect, but then he figured, if he was opening and closing every night, it would be much easier to just live in the apartment above.

Engine Tape and its owner had a new reputation now. Aside from its fine drinks, hearty meals, engine tape, and exquisite up to date musical atmosphere… It was a known fact that Ben was the most attractive cantina owner in Nime, perhaps even in the Roon system. But no matter how many patrons, no matter how they looked or acted, no matter how much they flirted or tipped, he would never take anyone to bed. It was a competition among spacers who frequented the Manda-Roon Merchant Route to try and seduce Engine Tape’s owner into bed.

Ben was a full year into owning Engine Tape and found the whole ‘get the hot owner to sleep with you’ challenge ridiculous. There were even betting pools in place now, and most of it was among his own damn staff. Even his right-hand woman, Bij, a purple skin toned twi’lek with blue eyes was in on the pool - her bet was firmly settled on Ben falling into bed with a lanky former military man. “Emphasis on the lanky. I know your type.” She pointed resolutely at him with a sly wink.

He sneered at her, “You don’t know my type.” There was nothing he’d ever done that would even indicate that he had a type.

“Oh yes I do, flyboy.” Her eyes glanced towards the entrance of the cantina, over Ben’s shoulder – he was leant against the bar, arms crossed over his chest as he glared minutely at her. A grin spread her mouth wide as she picked up her empty serving tray and spun on her heeled shoes to maneuver herself out from behind the bar, “And your type. Just. Walked. In.” Her grin grew even wider as she sing songed, “Gooood luuuck.”

Before he could ask her just what the hell that was supposed to mean, she twirled away to check on her designated tables. He scoffed to himself and pushed off the bar to face the lounge any approaching patrons. There were several on their way over so Ben summoned several clean glasses with the Force and set them before him in preparation. Ben still utilized the Force, but more often than not it was to summon objects or mind trick patrons into drinking some water and going home after they’d had more than enough and were asking for yet another round.

“What can I get y-“ Ben halted upon sight of who he would’ve labeled as the leader of the trio. He was tall, ginger, walked with an upright air of authority that one only gained from serving in the armed forces, and was… unfortunately, lanky. “You?” Ben stammered the end of his regular greeting, eyes locked on the ginger. Damn it, he cursed in his head, was Bij Force sensitive? Because she absolutely called it on this one.

The ginger’s shorter male dark-haired companion ordered pulkay, while the tall female blonde requested Twi’lek liquor, and finally the ginger asked for a horstberry cider. Ben got to work on the three orders, the Twi’lek liquor and pulkay were done first, he set them on the counter, both the ginger’s companions muttered their thanks before starting towards a booth against the wall. The ginger patiently waited for his drink, and to Ben’s mild horror settled himself onto a bar stool.

Ben set the tall glass of cider on the bar before the ginger, he was content to quietly busy himself with scrubbing some glasses clean but the Force simply wouldn’t have that, of course not. The ginger made a noise in his throat to gain Ben’s attention, “Could I trouble you for a shot of Corellian whiskey in this as well?” he chuckled softly, “I’m something of a cheap date.” His grin was brilliant and Ben was down for the count. He couldn’t even manage words, he just went about pouring the whiskey into a shot glass and placing it next to the glass of cider and letting the ginger deal with the rest. Ben’s face was on fire and he wanted to curse Bij to her face, he was sure if he glanced toward the lounge area or back towards the kitchen he would see her brightly smug face, hands clutching at her stomach with silent laughter.

The ginger poured the shot into his cider and went about taking several hefty gulps from the glass before setting it down again. Meanwhile, Ben looked for anything to busy himself with, he pushed his sleeves up and went to the dishwasher to put the clean glasses away and put the dirty ones in to wash.

“Is it true about your arm, then?” the ginger spoke up. Ben cringed while he was hunched over and took a few quick calming breaths in and out before standing up right and giving the man a look that implored him to continue. “They say you lost it in a lightsaber duel.”

That was a new one. Ben laughed and glanced down to his cybernetic arm. He’d opted out for the additional flesh since that costed extra. “I wish I’d lost it like that. There would have been a hell of a lot less blood.” The ginger looked intrigued, forearms folded on the counter top as he leant forward, and Ben hadn’t stumbled over his tongue yet so he kept going. “A patron was pretty drunk. He pulled out a vibroblade because he lost a game of sabaac, he wanted his money back. I went to break it up, got cut. Didn’t go all the way through, that was the worst part.”

The ginger nodded, unfolding his arms to take a sip from his glass before responding, “I can imagine. That sounds dreadful.”

Ben shrugged, “I survived.”

He grinned over his glass, his voice was amplified as he muttered, “That you did.” And drank heavily while his eyes raked over Ben’s body appreciatively. His glass was empty when he set it down again.

“Another?” Ben asked as he swept the glass away.

“Please.” The ginger smiled gratefully.

“So, uh,” Ben mumbled as he concocted the drink, pouring a shot’s worth of a Corellian whiskey into the cider and stirring it before settling before the man, “What brings you to Roon?”

“Oh, you know. The Spice Triangle.” He grumbled, “Gotta make a living somehow,” he sighed, “Defectors, and all.” He gestured vaguely to the wall where his comrades were settled in a booth somewhere. “But I have a better question for you. What brings you here?” A drunken lilt was beginning to taint that pristine Core World accent.

Yet again, Ben shrugged, “I wanted to make my own decisions, choose my own destiny, regardless of where my blood comes from. It brought me here, couldn’t be happier.”

“Well, imagine that.” He was leant at least half way across the bar now. “You and I are quite the same.” The ginger’s smile would be the end of Ben, of that he was sure. “I’m Armitage. Hux.” He stuck his hand out across what little distance of the bar was left and Ben accepted it with a firm shake.

“Ben. Nice to meet you, Hux.”

He’d yet to let go of Ben’s hand as he said, “Call me Armitage. I’d love to hear you say my name, Ben.”

He couldn’t help but blush brightly, he cleared his throat twice before nodding, “Armitage.”

Armitage hummed thoughtfully and released Ben’s hand. “Listen, Ben. I’m not some random spacer in on the challenge to get Engine Tape’s owner into bed. I heard you were pretty, and stars above, were they right. I do plan on flirting with you, but believe me when I say I’m not flirting just to win some bragging rights. You are absolutely lovely, and I’d like to court you, if you’d have me.”

Ben was speechless, “Uhhhh…” was all he could manage, mouth agape.

“Do you ever get a day off?”

“Uhh- uhm!” Ben cleared his throat roughly then answered, “Only if I write it into the schedule.”

Before Ben even finished his explanation, Armitage insisted, “Then write two days off.”

Ben’s eyes stared at Armitage before him as he drained his glass yet again. His green eyes were steely, there was the beginning of red stubble on his jaw, and his hair hadn’t seen a regulation hair cut in what appeared to be several months, untamed by product to keep it in proper militant order. Somehow Armitage seemed different from the rest, or at least that was what the Force insisted to Ben. He wasn’t some random spacer who stumbled up to the bar, liquid confident after a few shots, asking Ben to meet them in the toilets for a quickie. Armitage had a story, a story he wanted to know. And he wanted to share his own story with Armitage too. Only Bij and a Duros cook in the kitchen named Homsai knew Ben’s surname and what and where he was before Roon.

Ben’s hands seemed to be working of their own accord before his mind was actually made up. He grabbed for his data pad and went about putting Bij as the closing manager, and Zaidi, a male Nautolan that was trained by Bij, as opening manager on the schedule for the next three days. Once he hit the submit button to confirm the rotation almost instantaneously there were tones and chimes of all sorts emitting for all over the cantina from the rest of the staff’s data pads.

Armitage looked amused and impressed, “You follow direction well, don’t you?” He unfolded his arms from leaning against the bar top to clasp a hand on Ben’s cybernetic forearm. Ben could feel the weight of his hand and the synthetic nerves buzzed when Armitage brushed his thumb back and forth across the metal, “This will prove to be quite interesting.”

Ben wasn’t quite sure what he signed himself up for, but he knew it would be life changing.

Armitage wandered back to his minimal crew in their booth, patiently sipping at his final drink of the night, waiting for the night to end and Engine Tape to close. All the while Ben felt those ardent green eyes watching him, it was unnerving yet exhilarating.

The last of the patrons began to shuffle out of the cantina, the kitchen staff had closed up an hour earlier, leaving the serving staff to close down the front end. Zaidi was counting out the tills while several other waitresses and Ben wiped down tables and flipped up chairs. Hux’s companions had departed with the rest of the patrons at closing time, but by Ben’s direction he now stood against the wall by the door that led to the stairs up to the apartment. Ben was so focused on cleaning up he jumped and breathed out a quiet curse when Bij was suddenly next to him.

“Hey, so what’s the deal here?” she murmured with a discreet head nod in Hux’s direction. “Will there be a sighting of the beast with two backs this evening?”

Ben’s face screwed up into something of disgust at the euphemism Bij chose. “No,” he answered, then paused, “Well… maybe…”

Bij gasped, her eyes wide and a smile stretching her mouth wide, “My child! My sweet boy! He’s going to become a man? Oh, my heart!” She gripped both of his arms and faked being moved to tears.

He shook off her hold, trying not to smile as he retorted, “Shut up. And I’m five years older than you, I’m not your child!”

Bij just chuckled to herself as she patted him on the shoulder, “Enjoy your time off. You deserve it, boss.” She scurried along towards the kitchen where the employee exit/entrance was, passing Hux on her way. “Be gentle with him, eh?” She bumped her elbow against Hux’s arm and gave him a wink, hurrying away before Ben could clobber her for what she said.

Ben just sighed and tried his best to ignore Armitage’s smirk, if something did come from this he was sure Hux and Bij would get on famously, which was both great and terrible. He punched in the code to unlock the door to the stairwell that led to the apartment. The door opened with a metallic thunk and Ben gestured awkwardly, along with a just as awkward offer of, “Shall we?”

Armitage took the suggestion to ascend the stairs first, while Ben took a moment to wince at his own inelegance and switched off the last of the lights keeping the cantina aglow. He took the steps two a time to get up to the apartment.

The first night they spent together they simply slept in Ben’s - per Hux’s description, enormous and unfairly comfortable compared to starship bunks – bed. Armitage had more than he normally had to drink which easily guided him into a sound slumber. Ben, on the other hand, was incredibly anxious about having another being, let alone a handsome man, sleeping in his bed next to him. Sleep didn’t come easily that night, but when it did it was restorative and dreamless.

In the morning Ben woke to find his arm thrown across Armitage’s stomach and his chin rested against his shoulder and before he could snatch his arm away and put some distance between them he found he was caught. Armitage’s gaze held delight while his sleep rasped voice murmured, “Should’ve figured you as the cuddling type.”

And so began the so-called ‘courtship’ Armitage had proposed. When not taking meals together, they walked about Nime getting to know one another. Armitage was from an Empire sympathizing family, his father wanted him to climb the ranks in a new faction called the First Order. “When I was younger it made sense. Do as Father says, be a good soldier, excel and gain power. But as I grew older and began to understand what this cause stood for, I couldn’t remain a part of it.” He explained as they sat along the boat docks (where a younger Ben had sat and observed the scenery of Roon so long ago). “I planned to escape, but I didn’t want to leave the ones I’d grown close to behind. Of course, I had to be sure they were of a similar mindset, which thankfully they were. But as we made our breakout, my Father and several officers tried to stop us. It was…” Armitage paused, he shook his head, “It was one of those situations, kill or be killed…”

Ben absorbed all the information Armitage gave to him, nodding along and offering his condolences or commenting when he could.

“So here we are now. Phasma, Mitaka and I. Spicerunners.” Armitage ended his tale with a shrug and a bit of a forced grin, “Although, it’s not all bad… ‘Cause it led me to you.”

Ben didn’t know how to be suave, so instead of swooning or returning the flirtation, he blurted, “My mother is Leia Organa, and my dad’s Han Solo. When I was young they sent me to my uncle, Luke Skywalker, to master the Force and become a Jedi. For a little while I had a voice in my head telling me the dark side was my destiny. But when the Senate disclosed my mother and uncle’s parentage I decided to make my own fate.” His words were loud and abrupt, and by Hux’s expression not at all what he was expecting.

“The Senate condemned my mother as a warmonger and refused her idea of the Empire rising again… but you confirmed that is the case. The First Order is the Empire rising again…” Ben was basically thinking out loud at this point, his eyes fixed on the water beneath the boardwalk. “I’ve got to – we should do something, we’ve got to warn – I mean – right? It’s the right thing to do-”

Armitage leant forward to silence Ben’s hurried chatter, he reached a hand to clasp the back of Ben’s neck and sealed his mouth against his. It was effective, Ben was shocked into silence, as anyone would be when given their first kiss. When he pulled away Armitage stated, “We can save the galaxy in moment, but I’m still trying to charm you.”

“O – Okay. Uhh… Do, please, keep charming, um, then,” Ben stammered.

Armitage grinned and closed the distance between them once more. Easing Ben’s mouth into kisses with more heat. After some time of necking on the docks, it became clear they needed to move their efforts to a more secluded location.

Back to Ben’s apartment above Engine Tape. Ben was leant against the kitchen bar, his hands scrambling uselessly along the counter top for something to hold onto. The pulsing of music in the cantina below seemed to hammer along in time with Ben’s heartbeat. Although Bij had warned Armitage to be gentle, he doubted that was on his mind. Ben just hoped he wouldn’t embarrass himself by proving he was in fact the most virgin being on this planet, maybe even this system. He’d never understood the concept of sex or masturbation but now he could see the appeal. A gorgeous man was hurriedly working at the fastenings of his trousers, perched on his knees before him. Ben’s dick had never been harder.

Armitage’s hands rubbed against the sizeable bulge before drawing Ben’s trousers down half way down his thickly muscled thighs. Ben whimpered at the direct touch from Armitage’s hands, and the sensation of being kissed on his inner thighs; these were all very new sensations that he didn’t know quite how to process. They were incredibly stimulating, perhaps too much so because he felt he was either going to pass out or his knees were going to give out. And he sure as hell did not want to crush Armitage with his dead weight, so in between gasps for breath and moans he plead, “Wait, wait, wait. Just… hang on… a sec- a minute…”

The redhead immediately backed off and glanced up at Ben’s sweat soaked form, observing the way he was panting and shaking. He deduced, “You’re… You’re untouched, aren’t you?” And from Ben’s sheepish cringe he gathered his deduction was correct. He climbed up from his position kneeling on the floor and took Ben by the hand, he certainly wasn’t going to deflower him standing in the kitchen.

Back in Ben’s bedroom, Armitage now tried to take his time. He laid Ben bare on top of the covers, flat on his back; he himself had removed his clothes but kept his underwear on, so as not to overwhelm Ben with his arousal too. “We’re focusing on you, Ben. Don’t worry about me. You can do whatever you’d like, you can touch me, kiss me, anything. But we’re focusing on this experience, just for you.”

Now Ben was positive about his previous decisions turning down all those spacers, the Force made him wait for Hux, because the others wouldn’t have done this for him. He closed his eyes and focused.

Armitage’s fingers danced along Ben’s pale skin from his neck to his hips, he was enamored with the twitch of every muscle caused by his touch, the pattern of Ben’s breathing, and the sounds he made. He started delicately, loosely grasping Ben’s cock in his hand and stroked leisurely. Ben tried to swallow down a moan, his brows scrunching together in concentration. Armitage leant down to kiss Ben’s brow and breathed against his skin, “Relax.”

Easier said than done. Ben had never felt this sensation even by his own hand, and now here Hux was doing it for him. Ben opened his eyes and found Hux gazing at him, he felt his stomach twist and had to stop those eyes from staring or this would be over too quickly. He threaded his fingers through Hux’s hair and pulled him down to capture those enticing pink lips. Hux’s languid strokes progressively picked up speed until Ben was moaning and panting into his mouth, he could feel Ben’s short nails digging into the skin of his back as he drew him closer to climax.

Armitage eased away from Ben’s hold, placing kisses down his neck, chest, and abdomen.

“What- What’re you-?” Ben questioned, starting to lean up, but Armitage’s free hand pushed him back down, shushing him as he did. Ben whined in his throat, as Armitage finally worked his way down his body. He could see precum leaking from Ben’s dick, never had a dick looked so tempting, he couldn’t help himself from sticking his tongue out and dragging across the head. Poor Ben literally yelped, his moans of appreciation more like shouts of torture. He gripped at the bed sheets beneath him, the lights in the room began to flicker and the furniture throughout the apartment quaked. Armitage kept up his rhythm of stroking Ben’s shaft and licking at his head, while his other hand stayed firm against Ben’s chest as if he truly had the strength to keep him down.

“Ahh! Armitage- I-! I th-think I’m gonna-!”

“It’s alright, it’s alright, Ben,” Hux’s hot breath panted against Ben’s cock, “Listen to me. Just let it go. All that pleasure that’s built up, let it go. You’re gonna feel so good, I promise. Just let it wash over you.” And with that gentle encouragement he sealed his lips around Ben’s cockhead, his tongue swirling around it while he applied minimal suction.

Ben’s release came with a grunting shout of a curse, then the sweet cry of Armitage’s name. Hux stroked him through it until Ben’s body stopped twitching from pleasure and instead started twitching and pulling away from the overstimulation.

Then quite suddenly the entire bed thumped heavily to the floor, startling both men. They shared a stunned look at Ben’s unconscious use of the Force to make the bed hover before bursting into tired laughter. They lay next to each other while Ben got his breathing and pulse under control,Armitage was content to just go to sleep, but evidently Ben had other ideas in mind as he gripped at the hem of his underwear and swiftly pulled them off his body.

“You don’t have to do-“ he started to say, causing Ben to pause with his wide hands clasped around Armitage’s thighs.

Ben looked somewhat bashful, his fingers flexing against Armitage’s skin as he murmured, “I want – I mean, well, I’d like to… try… if that’s okay?”

There was absolutely no way Armitage could deny him, so he laid back and let Ben explore and experiment. Ben was a quick study, that was certain. He hardly had to guide him to what felt best or correct him. Although he did timidly suggest that Ben use his left hand on his cock when he wasn’t using his mouth. Armitage found his fingers tangled in dark, luscious curls, his body shaking, back arching, and eyes squeezed shut as he blissfully cried out his completion within several minutes of Ben’s attention.

Armitage was astounded, to say the least.

As the night progressed into early morning they continued to get familiar with each other’s bodies until it was mid afternoon of the following day and they were thoroughly and finally spent. “Right… right,” Hux spoke between breaths, half splayed over Ben’s chest, “Now we can go save the galaxy.”

Ben groaned weakly, “Maybe a couple hours of sleep and a shower first.”

“Great idea. Let’s… yeah… do that.”

When they woke it was the peak hours at Engine Tape below. Hux was roused awake by Ben’s fingers dragging through his hair, untangling any snarls whenever he came upon them. “We need to get up.” Ben mumbled.

“In a moment,” Armitage answered and adjusted himself so that he could circle his arms around Ben’s massive shoulders and draw him in. It seemed so easy to get comfortable with one another, Ben rested his head on Armitage’s chest, Armitage situated his chin atop Ben’s head. This was their calm before the storm. There was a lot of work ahead of them, knowing there was no way the First Order would go down without a fight, and the Senate not backing the Resistance. They just needed to bask in the peace before the war began. “What’s something you’ve always wanted to do…”

“Visit Naboo.”

Armitage smirked, not expecting an answer so sure and quick. Clearly Naboo was something special to Ben, and now it was special for Armitage. “I’ll take you there.” He promised, “After we stop the First Order.”

The Force worked in mysterious ways, they said. Ben scoffed at the idea, the Force was mysterious? Sure. The way it worked, though? Distinct. Everything happened for a reason. Ben was guided to this planet. Armitage was guided to Ben. And now together they would aid the Resistance and bring balance to the galaxy yet again. It was strange how the Force seemed to favor those of Skywalker blood, putting the burden of the galaxy’s fate in their hands.

It was nearly closing at Engine Tape when Ben and Armitage descended the stairs to the cantina. Armitage pulled Ben in for a quick kiss before heading out of the cantina to find Phasma and Mitaka and prepare their ship for departure. Ben sought out Bij, and upon her seeing him a smug visage took over her entire being.

“You better not’ve collected on that bet,” Ben started before she could make some lewd comments. Her brow quirked in confusion, and Ben continued, “I’m sure there was someone else that wagered on a redhead, so they should get some of the winnings too.”

Her face lit up again as she broke into laughter, clapping her hands in a one-woman round of applause for Ben. But once she was finished and before she could ask any details of his sexual adventures that were really none of her concern, he explained that he, Hux, and his crew were planning on joining up with the Resistance, what the First Order was, and what they had planned.

“You hold down the fort here. Business as usual.”

“Right,” Bij nodded, “Business as usual. Do me a favor and be careful, Ben.” He gave her a tight grin and extended his arms out to pull her into a hug, she squeezed him firmly. “May the Force be with you.”

It took longer than expected to find the Resistance base when all they could rely on was word of mouth. But soon they were given clearance to land on D’Qar, and Ben was taking loud, drawn out breaths in and out.

Mitaka was focused on landing, while Phasma and Hux looked at Ben in question. “This’ll be the first time I’ve seen my mom in seven years.”

And for all his worrying he was welcomed with open arms. Leia took him away to speak in private for what seemed like days to Ben but was actually only a couple of hours. “Listen, Mom, you need to talk to Armi- uh – Hux. He and his crew defected from the First Order, they were high ranking officers and know all the ins and outs. We’ll have enough evidence for the Senate to back the Resistance.”

“Ben, that’s wonderful.” And Leia could tell even without the Force that this Hux was special to her son from that slight hesitation. She smiled as she reached out her hand to touch his cheek, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before.” She was referring to Vader.

Ben shook his head, “It’s alright. It was the push I needed to find out who I really am.”

“The owner of a cantina called Engine Tape?” Leia snarked, she actually snarked at her own son she hadn’t seen or heard from in seven years. They shared the same smile, a quiet happy moment before getting straight to work.