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There’s an hour to go till his shift starts, but Hux likes to read all his comms before he has to be on the bridge. He also wants to tackle some leftover work from the previous day that he hadn’t done due to Ren’s visit. He finishes buttoning up his uniform and then leans over Ren’s sleeping body, trying to extract the data-pad he’d fallen asleep with that now lies squashed between Ren and the wall. His form casts a long shadow in the dim light from the open ‘fresher door.

Just as Hux’s fingertips reach the smooth edge of the data-pad, Kylo scrambles back and throws his hand in front of his face. The data-pad shatters on the shiny black floor with a loud crashing sound, and Hux’s boots squeak as he’s pushed away and thrown into the opposite wall. His hands fly to his throat, but there’s nothing there to fight off. He’s half-suspended in the air with only his toes touching the ground, immobilized by the Force, his windpipe almost crushed.

Kriff, Ren! Hux thinks, not says, desperately trying to send his pleading directly into Ren’s mind. He thought they had an agreement.

The pressure ends as abruptly as it had appeared, and a second later Ren is on his knees next to Hux, reaching for Hux’s throat, this time with his bare hand.

Hux recoils—as much as his position by the wall allows.

“Fuck,” Ren says, taking his hand back. “No. Sorry. Hux, I didn’t… I’m sorry.”

Hux is still seeing black spots dancing in the air. He doesn’t know what to think. He can’t think at all. He can’t breathe. Or maybe he can but he’s too afraid there won’t be any air to draw into his lungs when he dares to try.

“Hux,” Ren says again, and inexplicably there’s a begging tone to it. When Hux looks up—because he actually does, no one can say that Hux is a coward—Ren’s eyes are dark and wide. Hux cannot decipher whatever Ren’s trying to convey. Perhaps it’s remorse or perhaps it’s Ren’s insanity showing; either is equally likely.

When Ren reaches for him again, Hux stiffens.

“Don’t,” he rasps. “Do not touch me.”

His voice is hoarse, barely audible. The last time that Ren had done this to him, Hux’s throat felt bruised and raw for days. Hux had checked it out with the medbay back then, and the droid had been perplexed at there being no physical injury that would cause such symptoms.

“I’m sorry,” Ren repeats. He does sound like he means it, but Hux would rather Ren shut up. At least he actually listens to Hux and withdraws, stands back. For some fucked-up reason, he looks angry at Hux, too.

“You shouldn’t have startled me in my sleep,” he says. As if Hux is at fault here. “I don’t… react well to that.”

No shit , Hux wants to say, but what he actually says is, “I’ll keep that in mind.” His voice sounds better already, but his heartbeat is still too fast. He starts to push himself up from the floor, which takes some effort, and when Ren makes a move toward him to help him up, Hux extends his hand. “Don’t. I meant it. Keep back.”

He leaves the quarters as steady as possible, but his knees feel cottony, and his thought process is still fuzzy at the edges, stuck on Ren’s attack on repeat.

Ren’s crazy . Hux has known this, of course he has. But now Ren’s terrified, psychotic facial expression is haunting Hux, making him literally fight for breath with every step he takes as he enters the bridge.

He’s cold but sweating at the same time, and there still isn’t enough air, and when someone—and for the sake of the Galaxy, Hux cannot say who that is—asks if Hux is ill and suggests something vaguely sounding like “medbay,” Hux doesn’t snarl like he normally would but walks off the bridge. He doesn’t go to the medbay, though. Instead he locates the nearest supply-and-cleaning droid’s closet and sneaks inside, where he leans next to one of the droids in sleep-mode and slowly slumps to the floor.

He’s shaking but there’s not much he can do about that, so he just hugs his knees with his arms and counts his breaths—one, two, three, inhale and exhale—to calm himself down. He needs his brain to stop short-circuiting and stumbling over the same scene of Ren’s wild eyes and no air in Hux’s lungs.

He’s sure he won’t be able to face Ren ever again if he doesn’t get a grip on himself. The sole idea of being in Ren’s proximity makes his gut twist painfully, and he almost throws up. This is bad. He needs to be close to Ren in order to stay afloat, to keep his position—he needs it to control Ren. But how can he be close to him when Ren poses a real threat? When Hux is sure that Ren is going to attack him occasionally, even if unknowingly? Hux has to be able to live with that in some way. It's terrifying, and he needs to flip the association from terror to something he can work with.

On top of it all, he has to admit that the power that Ren posses--both physical and mystical--fascinates Hux, draws him in, makes him want to please Ren and earn his approval. His raw power is thrilling, magnetic, arousing .

He’s been sitting still long enough that the motion-activated light in the storage room shuts off, and Hux’s heart rate spikes for a millisecond before slowing down. Because this is actually good . This he can use.

One of his recurring nightmares as a child was being shoved into a tight space, shut in with no light, no means to escape, left to the mercy of fate—the captors who might see fit to let him out, or the stranger who might find him by chance. The first time it had happened in real life, he’d been screaming and kicking the door, then scratching it until his fingers bled from where his fingernails had ripped off. This was how Rae Sloane [O1] [UpMO2] had found him, hours later—a trembling, pathetic little thing, curled up on the steel floor and reeking of urine because he’d wet himself. He hated himself more than he’d hated his captors, back then.

Once he was cleaned and dressed in fresh clothes and forced to drink some awful salty-sweet protein and glucose nutri-drink, Rae took him back to that cluttered storage room. He mopped the floor, put the supplies back to their correct places, and then turned to look at Rae.

“They’ll do this to you again,” she said calmly, and he knew she was right. “But this time you’ll be prepared. Make sure you feel no fear, Armie, because fear is what they want. Show them your superiority instead. Think that one day it will be you who’s the ruler of all things, and it will be them licking your shoes. Now, get ready.”

She closed the door then.

Hux isn’t sure at what exact moment in his life the storage room—any storage room—became his safe haven, his reprieve from overwhelming situations. He just knows that he tamed his panicked response back then, and that now he’s safe with this particular monster. It has become his ally. Whatever Rae did back then had worked.

If only he could do the same with the fear of being choked by Ren.

Only, he actually can. A thought strikes him, and at first he dismisses it as absurd.

No. This is—this is a no. But his brain has already latched onto the idea, and the more he thinks about it the more he realizes he’d dare to try it— needs to try it, wants to.

He emerges from the storage closet, collected and resolved.

He’s going to do this.

*

“You want me to do… what?”

Ren blinks and then frowns. He’d been reaching for his cup of tea when Hux’s request stopped him mid-movement. Ren’s hand looks huge hovering over Hux’s elegant black-and-red china teacup.

Hux rolls his eyes. He hates repeating himself.

“Why don’t you just do that Force trick to read my mind and see for yourself,” he bites out, pointing his finger to his temple, as if he’s attempting to shoot himself. His anger must be physically seeping out of him.

Ren shakes his head, or rather his whole body, like a bantha after taking a bath, and then suddenly his expression cracks into something ridiculous and Ren bursts into laughter. Now, that is something Hux has never seen before and he’s not sure if he should be appalled, alarmed, or oddly smitten, because Ren’s teeth are crooked, and his mouth is so wide, and his eyes are crinkled, and… Hux gets a grip on himself and glares.

Ren is still laughing, his dark eyes dancing with mirth, when he asks, “So, let me get this straight. You’ve requested a working meeting with me, and invited me for a”—he gestures to the table—“cup of tea in your quarters to talk to me about the possibility of me choking you while we fuck?”

“During our sexual encounter, yes,” Hux nods. He feels his cheeks coloring. He can’t see what part of the whole thing seems funny to Ren.

Ren shakes his head again and then leans forward, placing his elbows on the table. He looks at Hux intently, as if searching for something. He’s not smiling anymore, instead he’s staring with intensity. It’s almost care, but it could be also pity, and this Hux can’t stand.

“Forget it.” He makes a move to get up, but Ren’s hand shoots up and grabs his, keeping him in place.

“Why?”

Ren’s eyes are way too dark to be real, Hux thinks. Still, he withstands Ren’s gaze for a long, excruciating moment, then swallows and averts his gaze. He won’t give Ren the satisfaction of learning that Hux is afraid of him to the point of breaking, that there’s no way he’ll be able to fuck Ren again, never mind sleeping with him in the same bed, and that he hopes this form of desensitization might help with that debilitating fear.

“What do you think?” he asks instead. His heart rate is picking up again. He licks his lips, but his mouth has gone dry. He forces himself to look back at Ren. “For the thrill of it.” The R in the word rings the way it sometimes does when Hux is making a speech. He hopes that it makes him sound more convincing.

Ren stays silent for a while, but then finally says, “I’ll have to think about it.” He sounds very serious. “I’m not saying no, but… I’ll have to think about it.” With that he stands and walks out of the room, his tea not even touched.

Hux stays, staring at the blank durasteel wall in front of him and trying to assess what he has really asked for.

*

It starts slowly, both of them anxious about how to proceed. It should be pretty straightforward: start fucking, do the choking thing, sleep, but Ren’s reluctant and Hux can’t suppress his panic, breathing too fast, unable to relax enough to accommodate Ren’s cock in his ass. Ren being only half-hard isn’t making things easier either.

“Forget about it,” Hux says, sitting up, reaching for his cigarettes. He lights one, inhales the smoke and ignores his slightly shaking hands. Behind him he feels Ren moving, getting up, going to the fresher and back, and Hux does his best to suppress the tremor of his hands, and to contain the uncomfortable feeling of being at the mercy of a predator.

“Okay,” Hux finally says and Ren stills next to the bed.

When they start again it’s easier, and Hux gets lost in the familiar weight of Ren’s body over his, the iron grasp of Ren’s hand around his wrist as Hux arches up, hooking his legs around Ren’s hips to get him deeper, the delicious stretch of Hux’s hole around Ren’s huge dick.

Still, when Ren pauses and extends his hand towards Hux’s neck, Hux can’t resist the urge to flee.

“Don’t fight it,” Ren says, and Hux wants to kick him in the nuts. It’s against human nature not to fight it.

But then Ren thrusts again, deeply, simultaneously pressing with his hand on Hux’s abdomen and angling his cock so it hits Hux’s prostate. Ren pulls back and pushes in once more, dragging his shaft on the ridge of Hux’s rim, and when he slams back Hux starts coming. He wants to gasp and realizes that he can’t. The air has been sucked out of his lungs. He should panic but he’s still coming and his whole body is tingling, pins and needles crawling up his skin, his lips trembling, his mouth going numb. He starts to shake, bursts of light exploding in front of his eyes. Waves of pleasure still wash over his skin, hitting him and going on like a spiral that never ends. It lasts and lasts. He’s never come for so long before. It must be minutes, maybe hours? He tries to take a breath once more and cannot , but instead of panic he gives in to this mesmerizing feeling, letting it take him away. The edges of reality become blurry, and then dim, blackness spreading until it clouds everything and he is left in the dark.

He’s so light.

His body leaves the bed, ascending into the air. This must be Ren’s doing, because he doesn’t feel the point of suspension. They’ve talked about it—about the possibility of Ren making it even more for Hux, beyond the lack of oxygen. About experiencing the Force. Hux is weightless, and since gravity has nothing to pull on, he floats. He gives in to this entropy, expanding, allowing for his body to just spread and spread, for his mind to reach in every direction, for the pleasure to mount until he’s so thin and see-through that he dissolves.

There are stars around him that twirl and densify, forming a half-translucent bridge, and despite Hux’s body being erased he finds that he can descend onto that surface, take steps on the shimmering stars toward a figure that approaches from the other side. Hux would know that posture anywhere—even in this bizarre reality they are currently in. Oddly enough, Ren’s wearing Hux’s silky bathrobe; it’s way too small for him, stretched over his arms and not covering his chest at all. Ren approaches Hux and takes Hux’s hand in his, then brings it up to his lips. For a moment Hux is sure that Ren is going to kiss the tips of his fingers, but Ren is opening his mouth and he’s biting Hux’s hand, and why…?

*

“Are you all right?” It’s Ren’s voice coming from somewhere distant. But Hux has no body, so he can’t be all right , or not all right , can he?

His hand stings, though, so perhaps he’s still alive and has some kind of physical body.

“Hux.”

Now Hux’s face hurts too. Has Ren bitten his cheek as well? He wants to hit Ren for taking him away from that place of pure bliss. He was happy there.

Oh fuck. He’s all right, but he’s not all right at all. He—he’ll never want it any other way now; that he is sure of. He’ll never want to it any other way. There’s no sense in ever having sex again if he can’t have this again. This will kill him, and yet he is aware of the risk. He’ll want it harder next time, longer, more… And one day he’ll cross the boundary, step on that star-paved bridge and never come back. And he doesn’t care. He can’t care when it feels like he’s been in a different galaxy altogether, touched by the infinite Force. He might as well die right now.

“Hux.” He more feels than hears Ren. Ren’s words curl up inside Hux’s brain, wrap around his thoughts, and tug .

“Breathe, Hux. Good, once again. In. Out.” Hux follows Ren’s instructions. His thoughts are still unclear, but it’s easier not to fight the compulsion to obey Ren. He inhales and finds out that nothing is actually blocking his airway, and nothing hurts, either. “In, Hux.” Ren’s voice is steady and grounding. “Out. Good.”

Ren’s hand is cool like a balm where it touches Hux’s burning cheek.

“Did you bite me?” Hux asks. His voice sounds perfectly normal, not strained at all, not even a little bit rough, but at the same time distant, as if Hux has recorded it prior to this moment and is replaying it now from another part of the ship.

“No?” Ren seems unsure.

“Huh,” Hux says and opens his eyes.

He looks around the room and gasps, because everything is so beautiful. The walls are shiny, the table with its holo-display is the perfect shape and size and color, the form of the bedside table is seamlessly elegant. Hux turns his head to look at Ren, and if the room felt beautiful, Kylo Ren is divine . His hair is curling around his face like dark rivulets, his mouth is plump and glistening, the bone structure of his face makes Hux want to kneel and worship the deity that created it.

“You’re so beautiful,” he whispers reverently reaching out to touch Ren’s face.

“You’re still not yourself,” Ren says, shaking his head and getting up. And perhaps Hux is out of his mind indeed, but he can’t not appreciate how majestic Ren’s whole body is, with his broad shoulders and all the defined muscles in his back making him look like a statue carved from marble.

Ren comes back with a cup of ice-cold water that he pushes into Hux’s hands. It smells of flowers and tastes like sunshine, Hux thinks. He sips and then lies back down, feeling the first pangs of embarrassment pushing through his spaced-out mind. He’s shivering, and his fingers look a bit bluish when he curls them into loose fists, then opens them again. He wiggles his toes, then rolls onto his side and tries to quiet himself, fighting the shivers.

Something warm and very heavy covers him, and he cracks his eyes open to see that Ren has actually tucked his fucking cape all around Hux and then lain down next to him, hugging him close. Hux will think about the appropriate rebuke and all the other things he needs to tell Ren later, but for now he lets the shivers tire him and allows his eyes to close again, and he doesn’t protest when Ren kisses his neck gently and then buries his face in Hux’s nape. They both need sleep.