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Everybody Wants

Chapter Text

Ben wakes with a start to someone rapping on his front door. He rolls out of bed and rubs his eyes, pulling on a pair of sweatpants and stumbling to open the door. In front of him stands his landlord. She’s just an inch taller than him, with short blonde hair and a killer stare that makes the 6’2 man feel about 3 inches tall. She reminds him of his mother; not in her appearance, as his mother is just over 5 feet tall, but in the way she seems to look into his soul. He could never lie to his mother and he can never seem to lie to Phasma either.

“Morning Phas…” says Ben, with an awkward wave.

Phasma raises an eyebrow in response and looks him up and down. Ben shifts from one foot to the other as he waits to hear the reason for her visit. After a moment, Phasma sighs and stats simply: “Rent’s due.”

“Right. Yeah. Just a sec.” Ben starts to close the door, but pauses, “Come in?” He stands aside and Phasma takes 2 steps into the apartment, allowing the door to be shut behind her. “I have cash. Let me grab it.”

He goes into the bedroom and fishes around in his bedside table for a moment before grabbing an envelope of cash. He hands it to Phasma who immediately opens and counts it. After ensuring that it's she correct amount, Phasma pockets the money then turns to leave. Before closing the door she looks over her shoulder and says, “It better not be late next month.” Before Ben can respond the door has closed behind her.

It takes Ben a few moments to calm down. He takes several deep breaths and counts to ten. Only then is he able to unclench his fists and release his shoulders from where they'd bunched up around his ears. As much as he hates to admit it, his mom had been right about therapy; it was helping him control his anger and stress. With a heavy sigh Ben goes to the fridge. Unfortunately, when he opens the door all he is faced with is a half-empty bottle of ketchup, most of a bottle of orange juice, some cheese slices, and leftovers of something he doesn’t remember buying. Ben poured himself a glass of juice, deciding to save the leftovers for tomorrow when he’ll need energy for work. He had hoped to go grocery shopping, but between rent
and his student loan debt there was barely anything left in his bank account.

Poe had offered to get him a part-time job as a waiter at Benu, the 3-star restaurant where he works as a line cook. “It’ll be perfect! Your name’s Ben and you’ll work at Benu!” he'd exclaimed, as if that was a selling point, but Ben’s job as a nurse left him too exhausted to do much more than sit at his computer in his sparse free time. Poe was right though; he needed some other way to pay the bills.

* * *

That evening, Ben went over to his cousin Rey’s apartment. She knew he was struggling so she invited him over fairly often for meals, much to the distaste of her boyfriend, Finn. It wasn’t that Finn hated Ben, but he disliked how much Rey took care of him, especially since Rey was 5 years his junior. But at just 21, Rey was already the prima ballerina for the San Francisco Ballet. Finn was finishing up his Bachelor’s degree in economics. Where Ben had had to pay for college himself, Finn had gotten a full ride on a baseball scholarship. He and Rey had been dating for about a year and a half.

Ben had just raised his fist to knock when the door opened and Rey jumped into his arms, shouting “Benny!” a name only she was allowed to call him. She was very slender from dancing, but had a lot of muscle. Still, Ben was able to catch her easily and give her a big bear hug. He set her down gently, always a little afraid that he might break her.

“Hey,” he smiled, “I’ll never figure out how you always know I’m here before I knock.”

She returned his smile and, with a shrug, said, “Magic,” before leading him inside.

After a nice meal of chicken and broccoli stir-fry over brown rice and pleasant chitchat about everyone’s day, Rey turns to Ben, places her hand on his, and gives him a look that reminded him of the one his mother gave him when he didn’t get in to Cal Berkeley. (He ended up getting into UCSF, so it wasn’t that much of a disappointment). “How are you?” Rey asks. “Do you need anything?”

That earns her a suspicious look from Ben. “Did my mother put you up to this?”

“No!” Rey exclaims, pulling her hand away as if she’s been burned, “I mean, she asked last time we talked, but I told her you were fine. I’m asking because you look tired. Well… more tired than usual.”

Ben sighs, “I’m fine. I’ll manage. It’s just, you know… this city’s expensive and I have my loans and I’m working long hours, but… I’m fine.”

“Have you thought about getting another job? I’m sure Poe could get you something at the restaurant.”

“He already offered. I’m too busy for that.”

“Well, how about something with shorter hours, that pays well, and doesn’t require you to be on your feet?”

Ben rolls his eyes, “That sounds great. Where can I sign?”

“Don’t roll your eyes at me Ben Solo. I happen to have something in mind.”

“Oh! Shit, really?”

“Yes. There’s an art gallery below our rehearsal space and the curator also runs various art workshops. He’s looking for models. I have his card somewhere…”

After several minutes of digging in her impossibly full dance bag, Rey comes back with a slightly bent, matte black business card. Printed on the front in simple, white letters is the name “A. Hux”, followed by a phone number. The back is blank.

“He seemed like kind of an asshole if I’m being honest. But he said he pays well, so as long as you can keep your temper under control, you should be fine.”

Ben opens his mouth to respond to her comment about his temper, but he knows she's right so instead he just says, “Thanks Rey. I’ll give him a call.”

* * *

Ben is in bed at 9:17 that night. He has to wake up at 5:45 in order to get to his shift at 7 the next morning, but he can't sleep. He keeps thinking about modeling. It’s not something he ever pictured himself doing, but he could use the extra money and it doesn’t seem difficult. Besides, he knows he’s in good shape. Yeah, his nose and ears are a little big and he has a couple of scars from various fuck-ups in high school, but it’s art. Who says he needs to look perfect? So Ben resolves to give A. Hux a call after his shift the next day. The thought that he'll hopefully have a little extra money is comforting, and Ben is soon able to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

Ben calls Hux. It’s just after 11:00 and Ben is on his lunch break at work. He’s sitting on a bench outside the hospital, near some bushes that offer relative privacy. He takes a sip of water as the phone rings. Once. Twice. Three times. Then someone answers.

“You’ve reached Hux. Who may I ask is calling?” The voice is clipped. British. Not what Ben expected; not that Ben really knew what to expect from an art curator/workshop organizer.

“Um. Hi. I got your number from Rey. She said you’re looking for models for some kind of workshop?”

“Rey?”

“Yeah. Ballerina. Skinny. Brown hair always up in a bun.”

“Ah, yes. I remember. Why did she give you my number?”

“Well, I’m her cousin. She said you’re hiring models and I could use some extra cash so…”

“Please describe your appearance.”

Ben is a little take aback at first, but he supposes it’s not so odd for someone hiring models to want to know what he looks like. “Um… 6’2… Pretty fit… Longish black hair… Brown eyes…” He trails off, not really sure what Hux is looking for.

There’s silence for a moment and Ben is afraid that Hux has hung up on him. Then he hears a soft hum and Hux says, “I suppose you’ll do. If you can come by the studio this evening I have some paperwork for you to fill out.”

“I get off work around 7. Is that too late?”

“No. That will be fine.”

“Great! I’ll be there.”

“One more thing. Are you comfortable being fully nude?”

Ben hadn’t considered that possibility. He figured he’d probably be shirtless, but the idea of being completely naked hadn’t crossed his mind. “Yeah. I guess so.”

“Good.” Hux pauses, and Ben hears a faint scribbling like Hux is writing something down. “Oh. I’ll need your name.”

“It’s…” Ben stops, realizing it might not be the best idea to give this man his real name. Ben’s mother is Leia Organa, a well-known senator, and former Press Secretary for the White House, married to Han Solo, a retired Formula One racer, who now spends his time gambling and fixing up old cars. If it got out that Ben Solo was posing nude it might cause some trouble for his mother. Although not illegal, most people would probably consider it improper behavior for a senator’s son. “Er… Ren. Kylo Ren.”

“Kylo Ren?”

“Yes.” Ben isn’t sure where that name came from, but now he’s stuck with it. Not that this man can really judge him. What kind of name is Hux anyway? Maybe he’ll think Ben is some kind of artist too.

“Well then, Kylo. I’ll see you tonight. Have a pleasant day.”

“You too.” There’s a click as Hux hangs up and Ben is left to finish his lunch and get on with work. He tries not to think too much about what he’s agreed to. As long as he gets paid, it doesn’t matter.

* * *

After his shift, Ben heads to the gallery. It takes him about half an hour on public transit. The door is open so Ben decides to take a look around. There’s a poster just inside the door that states the name of the exhibition as Cendres. Ben is pretty sure that’s French, but has no idea what it means.

On the walls hang a number of pieces: some photography and some paintings, with a few sculptures on pedestals throughout the room. As Ben moves slowly around the space, he begins to notice a common theme: fire. Each piece seems to incorporate flames in one way or another. There’s a photograph of a beach bonfire, a watercolor of lilies that has had the edges singed off, a painting of a blacksmith’s forge with gold leaf adhered where the molten metal would be flowing. There’s even a sculpture of flames made entirely of glass. There are some other pieces that don’t seem to fit the theme as far as he can tell. Ben finds himself transfixed to a colorful abstract piece when someone says, “Kylo Ren?” and startles him out of his daze.

He turns to find the source of the voice and is faced with a man, nearly his height, with bright red hair and green eyes. For a moment Ben thinks that he must be a part of the exhibit, between his fiery hair and the eyes that seem to burn through to Ben’s soul.

With a shake of his head, Ben pushes that thought out of his mind and responds “Yes. Are you Hux?”

“I am.” Hux offers a hand and the two men shake. “How do you do?”

“I’m good. I was just admiring some of the art. I really like this one, but I’m not sure I see how it fits in with everything else.” Ben indicates the painting he’d been looking at.

“Ah, yes. As you may have surmised, the theme of this show is flame and ash, hence the name. This piece was created by mixing ashes with paint; that’s what gives it its unique texture. The artist’s father recently passed so they utilized his ashes. Its title refers to the Gaelic word Bren meaning leader.”

Ben is a bit taken aback by this. As a nurse he is used to seeing all kinds of things that would make others squeamish, but he never thought he would see a painting made with someone’s ashes. On further inspection, Ben notices the plaque indicating that the work is titled The Bren, the medium is acrylic and ash, and the artist is Anonymous.

The two men stand in silence for a few moments, looking at the painting, before Hux speaks. “Well, we should get this over with so I can lock up and go home.”

“Right,” Ben says, “I don’t want to keep you.”

“Follow me.” Hux begins to walk towards a door Ben hadn’t noticed tucked into a corner of the gallery. When he reaches it Ben sees a nameplate that reads “A.Hux, Gallery Curator”. Hux opens the door and walks inside; Ben follows. The office is small but not cramped. It feels very modern; white walls, a sleek desk with a computer and an ergonomic desk chair. There’s a glass coffee table with a few art books and a Dracaena in one corner. The one thing that doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the décor is an antique leather sofa that Hux indicates he should sit on.

Hux brings over a stack of papers for Ben to look at. From what he can tell it’s pretty standard stuff: waivers, payment contract, emergency contact info, etc. “So, the job is fairly simple. You’ll fill out a schedule of your availability. You’ll be asked to come showered and clean-shaven. You may be asked to pose nude for some workshops. While the artists may look at you, they are not allowed to touch you. If one does and I am not present you will let me know immediately. If someone does or says anything to make you uncomfortable you will let me know immediately. There may be hors d'oeuvres served at some sessions, which you are welcome to partake of, so please indicate any allergies you have. You will be paid $200 per session. If the session exceeds 3 hours you will be paid another $50 for each additional hour. You will be allowed breaks to rest, hydrate, and use the facilities. If you have any medical conditions that will restrict what poses you can do, please write that on the appropriate form. I’ll leave you to look things over. If you have any questions I will be at my desk.”

Hux goes to his desk and begins working on something Ben can’t see from his position. He starts looking over and filling out the forms. They’re very thorough, so it takes him about half an hour, especially considering he nearly writes Ben several times and has to turn the B into an R. He gathers the papers into a stack and walks to Hux’s desk. Hux doesn’t seem to have noticed him, too absorbed in his work, which looks like some kind of budget document, so Ben clears his throat.

Hux turns in his chair. “Finished?” He asks.

“Yes. It was all very clear.”

“Good.” Hux reaches out to take the forms from Ben and their hands brush momentarily. Ben notices immediately how smooth the backs of Hux’s hands are. His fingernails are nicely manicured, which Ben can’t help but notice as he thumbs through the pages. “This all seems to be in order. I see you’ve indicated that you can work on Thursdays. It just so happens that one of our models called out sick for Thursday this week. Could you fill in?”

“Thursday? That’s tomorrow.”

“Correct.”

It’s sudden. Ben had assumed he would have a little more time to process and get used to the idea of posing nude. Maybe do some extra ab workouts to prepare or at least look up how to pose. But he needs the money so he really has no choice other than to agree. “Yeah. I can do it.”

“Excellent. The session is at 7pm. Please arrive at least half an hour early so I can tell you how to prepare.” Hux stands and puts out his hand for Ben to shake. This time, Ben is paying attention and notices that the palm of his hand is calloused, not nearly as soft as the outside, and he wonders briefly why a man who seems to be so refined would have such rough palms. When he releases Hux’s hand he offers the redhead a small smile.

“I’ll see you tomorrow then. Have a good night.”

“You as well.” Hux replies.

Ben exits the same way he came in and opens up his phone to order a Lyft. He could take the bus, it’s a hassle this late in the evening, and he doesn’t feel like walking. The Lyft shows it’s 10 minutes away so Ben sits on the stoop of the gallery to wait.

After a few minutes of waiting he hears the door behind him open and Hux steps out. “Oh. Kylo. You’re still here?”

“Yeah,” Ben stands, “just waiting for a Lyft.”

Hux seems to contemplate that for a moment. “Kylo… would you like a ride home?”

Ben is taken aback. He wasn’t expecting a man he barely knows, especially one who seems so taciturn, to offer to drive him home, but he’s not in a position to decline a free ride.

“That would be great!” Ben falters, realizing he sounds too excited for just a ride home. “I mean, if it’s not too much trouble.” Ben presses the button on his phone to cancel the Lyft. “I live in the Castro.”

“It’s no trouble at all. Come along.” Hux leads the way to a small lot a few buildings away. There are only 3 cars in the lot. Before Ben can wonder which one belongs to Hux, he unlocks the door of a red 2015 Mazda 6 in very nice condition. Ben smiles to himself at the color choice and slides into the passenger seat.

After Ben gives Hux his address, they both sit in silence for a while. Ben has never been good at starting conversations with people he doesn’t know, unless it’s work related, and he has no idea what a man like Hux would want to talk about. They turn onto Mission St, about halfway to Ben’s apartment, when Hux finally speaks.

“So, Kylo, what made you decide to contact me?”

“I just need some extra cash. Student loans are a bitch and my job doesn’t pay enough to cover that plus all my living expenses. California’s expensive, especially San Francisco.”

“Is that really it? If you just needed money you could have gotten a part-time job anywhere. You could be a waiter or receptionist or any number of other things.”

“Well I was looking for something that doesn’t require too much physical strain. See, I’m a nurse, so I’m on my feet for 12 hours at a time.”

“A nurse? Really? I would not have expected someone like you to choose such a profession.”

Ben is briefly offended. “Someone like me? What is that supposed to mean? You don’t know anything about me.” He tries to keep his voice low, but his already quick temper has an extremely short fuse when he’s tired.

Hux’s lips press into a thin line. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t make assumptions based solely on appearance. I’m sure you are an excellent nurse. I’m surprised they don’t pay you more.”

Ben can tell that the apology is heartfelt, and he doesn’t want to risk getting angry in front of his new employer. He sighs and says, “Thanks. I agree. Nurses are enormously undervalued. We’re the backbone of the healthcare system, yet so many of us go home hungry every other night.”

Hux glances at Ben out of the corner of his eye, and then quickly focuses back on the road. There aren’t too many cars out this time of night on a weekday, but San Francisco is difficult even for experienced drivers because it’s so old and hilly. Plus the pedestrians don’t pay enough attention so you have to make sure one doesn’t run out in front of you.

“I can’t believe they pay you so little that you can’t afford to eat.” Hux says thoughtfully.

“Yeah, well, most of us have student loans, and so many have families. There are 3 single mothers on my floor alone. It’s tough.” As Ben says this, Hux pulls up to his building and puts on his hazards. “Thanks for the ride.” Ben removes his seatbelt and opens the door.

“You’re welcome, Kylo.” Ben almost catches a hint of a smile on Hux’s face before he turns away and extricates himself from the car, grabbing his backpack from where he’d shoved it by his feet.

“Night, Hux.”

“Goodnight, Kylo.”

Ben shuts the door and watches Hux drive off before going inside.

Chapter Text

Ben wakes up late Thursday morning to sun shining through the crack in his shutters. At some point he had managed to kick all the covers to the bottom of the bed and partly onto the floor. Part of the sheet is wrapped around his right leg. Groaning, Ben swipes a hand across his face, pulling a piece of hair out of his mouth. There’s a small wet spot on his pillow and he wipes his mouth in an attempt to remove the drool that has crusted there. He takes a deep breath then sits up, eyes bleary, and attempts to detangle himself from his bedclothes.

Absently, Ben checks his phone. All he finds is a message from Rey, asking if he called about the modeling job. He swipes the screen to unlock his phone and replies: 

           Yeah. I start tonight.

Rey responds about 5 minutes later, while Ben is brushing his teeth.

           !!!! I can’t believe it! Are you excited? What’d you think of Hux?

           He seems fine I guess. A little standoffish, but I don’t think I’ll have any problems working with him.

           Are you nervous?

           Not really. It’ll be a little weird being naked in front of a bunch of people, but I can deal.

           Wait NAKED? Are you kidding? That’s amazing! I am never gonna let you live this down!

Ben rolls his eyes. He’s used to his cousin’s constant teasing, having grown up side-by-side. They’re practically siblings.

           People model naked all the time. Look at all the old Greek and Roman art. It’s full of naked people. It’s not like I’m going to be in some creepy dude’s basement letting him take pictures of me because he says he can make me a star. It’s a legit business and you know it.

           I know. I still think it’s hilarious! But I never want to see any of the art. If I see it I’ll never get that image out of my head and I’ll lose my appetite forever and then I’ll die.

           You’re so dramatic.

           I’ve gotta get ready and run a few errands. I’ll talk to you later.

           Ok. Have fun!! ;)

Ben puts down his phone and finishes brushing his teeth. He turns on the shower, letting it heat up until it’s steaming before getting in. He washes himself, taking care to condition his hair thoroughly. As he’s scrubbing down his chest, he lets his fingers play in the little trail of hair below his belly button and then down to his pubic hair. He hasn’t done much in the way of trimming down there since his last relationship, which was back in college. He’s been far too busy with work and stress to contemplate dating; not to mention the fact that he can’t afford to take someone on a date. He grabs his razor and a small pair of scissors from the medicine cabinet and sets about making himself presentable, not removing all the hair, just making it a little neater.

His hand drifts down to his cock, brushing along its length as images of pale skin, soft lips, and bright green eyes flooded his mind. He brings himself off lazily, closing his eyes and picturing the hand around his dick is slender and slightly calloused. 

After his shower, Ben gets dressed in dark jeans and a soft maroon hoodie. He figures he might as well wear as few layers as possible to make things easier later. He goes to the grocery store and does some chores around the apartment, mostly just killing time until he needs to leave. 

* * *

Ben walks into the gallery at 6:25. He had waited on the street outside for the last 10 minutes, not wanting to show up early than expected. He goes over to Hux’s office and knocks on the door. 

“Enter.” Hux calls from within.

Ben opens the door just enough to stick his head in. Hux is working at his computer, but glances up when Ben says “Hi.”

“Ah, Kylo,” Hux looks at his watch, “Right on time. Excellent.”

Hux stands and Ben opens the door the rest of the way, then steps aside as Hux exits his office. “Follow me.”

Hux leads Ben out of the gallery, locking the door behind them, and around the side of the building where there is another door. Inside is a narrow hallway with a staircase that leads to the upper floors of the building. There’s a sign that indicates that the third and fourth floors contain rehearsal spaces for the SF ballet. Hux takes Ben to the second floor where there is a door inset with a panel of frosted glass. A hand-lettered sign reads: Advanced Figure Drawing. Hux opens the door. 

Inside is a spacious room with tile floors and several large windows also containing frosted glass. Ben figures this is done to give the models and artists privacy from any potential onlookers in the buildings across the street. Two of the walls are lined with Formica countertops inset with several sinks, below which are cupboards, likely filled with art supplies. There’s a raised platform on the side of the room opposite the door with a stool and a bottle of water sitting atop it. Directly to the right of the door is a folding table with a sign-in sheet and several plates of finger food. Arranged in a semicircle before the platform are 8 easels and stools, presumably for the students to use.

“Make yourself comfortable and help yourself to something to eat. The students will start to arrive soon. We will start promptly at 7, so I will expect you to be on the platform before then. You will need to remove your shirt, but you may keep your pants on since we will not be doing full body drawings until later in the evening. Afterwards you may accompany me back to my office where I have your check. Do you have any questions?”

Ben shakes his head. He takes a deep breath in order to calm himself and walks to the platform to discard his backpack. Hux busies himself with adjusting the easels and making sure every station has the same set of supplies. Ben wanders to the reception table and makes himself a small plate of food. It’s mostly sliced deli meat, cheese, and crackers, but to him it seems like a feast. He can only pick at the food however, as 7 grows closer and students start to arrive, his nerves only increase.

At 10 minutes to 7, Ben goes back to the little stage and removes his sweatshirt. He’s facing away from the room and imagines he can feel eyes boring into his back. He glances around and catches Hux staring at his side, where he has a large burn scar from being hit by a roman candle his friend set off in high school. Thankfully he’d been wearing a thick enough shirt that it didn’t cause any irreparable damage, just a bad scar and his mother shouting at him about how he could be so stupid and forbidding him from seeing that particular friend ever again. He has a number of other smaller scars on his back and chest from the many scrapes he had gotten into growing up. Part of why he had wanted to be a nurse was because they had always been so kind to him on his many trips to the hospital. They had focused on making him feel better, whereas his mother had mainly yelled at him. He knew that was just her way of showing she cared, but it still made him feel like shit.

Hux looks up and meets Ben’s eyes, a blush crossing his lightly freckled cheeks as he realizes he’s been caught staring and looks quickly away. Ben shakes it off and steps up onto the platform and makes himself comfortable on the stool. He stretches his arms over his head and twists his back to warm up. Then he sits and waits, looking around the room at the students milling about, chatting, eating, and sitting at easels preparing their station. Without meaning to, Ben finds himself watching Hux, who has his back to him, reaching up to pull a box off a high shelf. His suit jacket pulls up as he does this, and Ben is looking at Hux’s ass through his perfectly tailored slacks. Ben looks away when the jacket is covering him once again, and attempts to school his expression as Hux turns his attention to the room. He calls everyone to order and asks them to take their seats so they can begin. Ben isn’t really listening to the instructions, instead he’s memorizing the profile of Hux’s face; the straight line of his nose, his strong brow, then gentle slope of his neck down into his shirt.

Ben’s attention is brought back to the situation at hand when Hux introduces him to the class. “This is Kylo, our model for this evening.” Hux says, indicating Ben where he’s seated, suddenly very self-conscious about being shirtless in front of so many strangers and Hux’s piercing gaze. “It’s Kylo’s first time modeling, so please be patient with him.”

Ben blushes and coughs lightly, ducking his head to hide the blush that colors his face. He never liked being new to things, as he always wanted to be the best at everything he tried. 

* * *

Before he knows it, Hux is announcing that it’s time to take a break. The first 90 minutes had flown by and actually been relatively painless. Ben thought he’d have to know instinctively what to do, but Hux had told him when he should change positions, and when Ben was unsure how to position himself, Hux had given him suggestions.

Ben stands and stretches, shaking out his arms and neck after having to remain still for so long. He grabs a drink of water and uses the restroom. When he comes back Hux is waiting for him at the edge of the low stage. Ben gives him a small smile and he sees Hux’s expression soften somewhat, though he doesn’t smile back. When Ben reaches him, Hux says “For the next section you will need to be fully nude. You may use the stool when necessary, but I would like to have you standing for most of the poses. Try to come up with poses that show off your musculature. I’d like the students to understand the anatomy of the human body.”

“Ok,” Ben replies, “should I get undressed now or…?”

“It’s up to you, but if you wait until I call the class back in 3 minutes, everyone will be watching you.”

“Right. I’ll just do it now.”

Hux nods and walks away. Ben looks around the room, but no one is looking at him, so he removes his jeans and folds them neatly, placing them on top of his sweatshirt and shoes. He sits on the edge of the stage and pulls his phone from his backpack, mostly just so he can avoid looking at anyone. He unlocks it and sees that he has a missed call. He goes into his voicemail and sees probably the last name he could ever hope to see while sitting naked in a room full of people who are about to draw him: Leia (Mom) Organa.

He sighs and returns his phone to his bag, not ready to hear whatever criticism she has cooked up for him today. Thankfully, Hux is calling the class together so he can ignore his mother and focus on not making a fool of himself.

Ben finds himself looking at the ceiling a lot during the next hour and a half, not wanting to look at the people in front of him, especially not Hux. If he looks at Hux, his attraction will become painfully obvious. So Ben thinks of the least sexy things he can to keep from embarrassing himself. 

* * *

After what seems like an eternity to Ben, Hux claps his hands together and declares the class finished. The students begin to clear up and Ben all but lunges for his pants. He’s just starting to tie his shoes when Hux comes over to him.

“You did quite well today. If you need inspiration for posing, I suggest looking at some of the great Italian sculptors, such as Michelangelo, Donatello, and Bernini. You may also find inspiration in high fashion magazines.”

“Yeah, ok. I’ll look into that. Thanks.”

“Of course. If you don’t mind waiting while I clean up, you can come to my office and I’ll give you your check for tonight.”

“I can wait. Why don’t I help you put things away?”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“I don’t mind. Really. If I’m going to be here anyway I might as well make myself useful.”

The two men tidy up the room in short order. They don’t speak much, other than Hux giving Ben directions. There’s some food left over which Hux offers to Ben to take home. Not wanting to be rude, Ben accepts, not that he’s really in a position to turn down free food. They return to Hux’s office downstairs and Hux removes an envelope from his desk and hands it to Ben. “Here is your payment for this evening. I have another class next Monday that you would be a good fit for if you’d like to do it.”

Ben takes the envelope and nods, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. “Yeah I’d be happy to. I’ll be sure to look up those artists you mentioned over the weekend.”

“Excellent.” Hux’s lips turn up at the edges in what could almost be called a smile. “You know, I could give you a ride home again if you’d like.”

Ben can’t help but let his delight show in his face. “That’d be amazing. Thank you! I’ll pay for gas.” Ben starts to remove his backpack to get his wallet.

Hux holds up a hand and shakes his head, stopping Ben in his tracks. “That is not necessary. I drive near there on my way home anyway, and it’s a much more pleasurable trip with company.”

Ben smiles again. This time Hux returns it, though perhaps a bit timidly. They exit the building, Hux locking up behind him and make the walk to the car in amicable silence, Ben holding a plastic tray of assorted food in one hand, his other hand making a fist in the pocket of his sweatshirt so he won’t be tempted to brush the back of his hand against Hux’s to feel the smooth skin there.

On the way home they chat about nothing in particular. Mostly, Hux asks questions about Ben’s job and Ben answers them. Occasionally he gets Hux to talk about the gallery, but the only time he can get more than 2 sentences out of him at once is when he asks Hux about his favorite artists and Hux launches into an 8 minute lecture on French Impressionism and how it relates to modern abstract art. Ben smiles and encourages Hux with the occasional “Uh huh” and “Really?” He actually finds himself enjoying the lecture and learning something. Hux has a lot of knowledge and his passion makes him interesting to listen to, despite Ben’s historic disinterest in art.

They get to Ben’s apartment and bid each other goodnight. Hux smirks at Ben’s statement of “Get home safe.”

It’s not until he’s put away the leftover food and changed into a pair of sweatpants that Ben remembers the voicemail waiting for him. Reluctantly, he opens his phone and puts it to his ear.

“Benjamin Lukas Organa-Solo what the hell do you think you’re doing? Modeling? Really? How do you think that will make me look if the press finds out? How do you know this ‘artist’,” Ben can just hear the air quote around the word artist, “won’t use you to get to me? You know nothing about the industry and you’re going to get yourself in trouble. You paid all that money to go to medical school and didn’t even become a doctor, and now you’re throwing it all away to become a model?”

Ben stops listening. The message goes on for another 4 minutes, but Ben’s heard enough. He knows it will just be more of the same. Instead he texts Rey:

           How could you tell Leia that I’m modeling? Didn’t you realize she would flip out?

           I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal. I didn’t tell her you were going to be nude though.

           Doesn’t matter. I could be modeling head to toe in snow gear and she’d still think it’s a bad idea. She thinks I’m a child and I’m going to ruin her career. Not to mention she’s got the idea that I’m giving up nursing to do this.

           Benny I’m so sorry. I didn’t say you were going to stop being a nurse. I’ll call her. I’ll clear it up.

           Don’t bother.

Ben tosses his phone onto the floor of his room and climbs into bed. He hears it buzz but doesn’t check it, just rolls onto his side and tries to sleep.