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A lone figure stands in the middle of a bright, sterile room, harsh, pleasured breaths infiltrating the otherwise still air. His chest does not heave with the effort of each shuddering exhale but it is a close thing. One moment allowed to bask in his success, watching the potassium hydroxide mixture dry and imagining that he can see the colorless liquid still soaking the lengths of the fibers in front of him, then he turns, taut and sharp like strings waiting to be plucked, and strides to the edge of the room.

Red hair and pale skin fight for dominance under the burning fluorescent ceiling as he moves, hands steady and careful as he checks and corrects the smoothness of his work. Armitage Hux is a perfectionist and this performance will be special. He has reached a goal so lofty and unattainable that he revisits his earlier feelings with a sense of smugness, indulging in a small smile when he recalls his ignorance. He wonders whether those feelings were the weight of his own seldom-recognized insecurity or his disappointment in the ability of others to impress him and he settles on the latter.

Pleased with their quality, Hux carefully removes the lengths from where they hang, dangling like a macabre curtain. Unwavering fingers twist and wind the strands together, creating strings a precise thirty-six centimeters long. He knows that thirty-three is standard but enjoys the difficulty of the added tension caused by lengthening his strings, desires the heady rush of accomplishment that comes from things bowing to his efforts. He dips his fingers into a jar of oil, allowing another small smile to grace his lips as he thinks of the last time he did this, and slides them along the strings. The ripened, earthy scent of olives envelops him as he coats the strings with an almost-loving caress. These strings need to last; he’d already forsaken a bit of quality by using the large intestine instead of small, but one must make such sacrifices when working with fickle creatures. He snorts quietly to himself imagining the beast he harvested them from, thinks of the showman’s struggle that had been put up by that which already knew its fate, and figures that he might be quite opposed to being called “a beast.”

Hux wonders when he began caring at all.

He reaches for the tool that will allow him to polish the strings to their required diameter and finds himself humming Prokofiev. Montagues and Capulets. He acknowledges that his voice cannot fully capture the dissonance and darkness present in the original piece but he enjoys it nonetheless. He is just finishing the B section, chuckling inwardly at its marker as the calm before the storm, when he sets down the last string. He stands, stretches, predatory and sleek in controlled but fluid movements. He rather thinks that, despite its unfortunate status as a middle school learning piece, Romeo and Juliet makes a suitable comparison to he and his partner. They will, after all, destroy each other in the name of their love. The humor of the situation is not lost on him as he aligns new strings on the fingerboard of his favorite instrument. His fingers ghost lightly over the bridge and he thinks of welts, raised and angry, scattered over slightly-tanned skin. He applies a bit of pressure and misses the hissed, desperate gasps that should come with it. He removes his hand and gazes at the instrument, finding reason to be appreciative regardless.

His steps are light and measured as he climbs the stairs, not wanting to wake his sleeping partner before he has the chance to stand and admire the precious creature, wild and unruly in his wakefulness, vehemently opposed to Hux’s many compliments but more than willing to take his insults. It’s alright, Hux is a patience man.

He slides into their shared bedroom with all the presence of a ghost and stops just inside the doorway. He gazes at the figure before him, tangled in luxurious white bedding, brightened by the shine of the sun through parted blinds, dancing over soft skin and giving the appearance of an otherworldly being. One side of Hux wants to tear his lover apart, shove his fist down his throat and pull out the darkness he knows resides in his core, spread his very being all over their white sheets and put it on display for that which does not have his permission to see him in this vulnerable state, Mother Nature or not. The exercise in restraint is a given but he does allow himself to slide forward, tangle one hand in curling black locks and tighten, not enough to wake but enough to alert Kylo’s subconscious to his presence. Hux watches as full lips, still reddened and bruised from earlier activities, part with a soft exhale. He lowers himself, burying his nose in warm skin and breathes in deeply.

He’s close enough to be immediately aware when Kylo wakes but does not move, choosing instead to feel the minute flexing of muscles beneath his lips as the man beneath him stretches, curls around Hux’s bent form, and presses sinful lips to the crook of his neck. The slow slide of a wet tongue, firm and insistent, against his skin has him shifting the position of his hands to grasp at his lover’s waist, gripping tightly through the sheets.

“Hux,” a pained gasp followed by the sharp sting of teeth in retaliation. Hux grits his teeth against the intrusion, willing himself to keep his sounds of pleasure at bay. Instead he drifts down to one dusky pink nipple, teasing it to hardness before taking it between his teeth. He sets a punishing pace, alternating between suckling, biting, and blowing cool air on the abused flesh. Satisfied with his progress on that one he switches side, not giving the other a chance to rest as he takes it between two fingers, squeezing and pinching and pulling whimpering sounds from their owner.

Hux drinks in Kylo’s incoherent begging as pain and pleasure swirl indistinguishably in his head, skin flushed and tender to the touch when Hux finally releases him and smooths his hands soothingly over his chest, cooing gently into his skin. Hux grips a fistful of hair and yanks, forcing Kylo’s head back and looking hungrily into his eyes. Blue eyes meet brown, two sets of dilated pupils and one stinging with unshed tears. Hux finds his lips curling into a smirk and bends to kiss the corners of Kylo’s eyes, tongue darting out to capture droplets of moisture from long lashes. His hand snakes down to Kylo’s throat and presses slowly, gently, rhythmically down until he sees tear-tracks staining reddened cheeks. He watches as the man beneath him gulps in air when released in preparation for the return of the delicious pressure, delights in the unconscious struggle put forth when he thinks Hux won’t let go, when he sees stars beneath his eyelids and feels a fog filling in his head.

Minutes, hours, perhaps years later he releases Kylo’s throat and presses one slim thigh between the thicker legs of his partner, relishing in the hardness found there. His hands find their way again to Kylo’s abdomen, lingering but ultimately bypassing them in favor of slender hips.
“You would do anything for me, wouldn’t you?” he breathes against the quickly bruising skin of Kylo’s neck, unable to disguise the satisfaction in his tone. He feels more than sees Kylo nodding obediently, and notes the increasing pulse, the shallow, aroused breaths of his lover. Kylo arches beneath him, trying valiantly to buck the sheets from his undoubtedly naked form. Hux forces him still, digging his thumbs into the tender area above his hip bones.

“Soon,” he promises in a filthy purr, pressing one final kiss to Kylo’s neck before untangling himself from their mess of limbs and crawling off of the bed.

He cuts off a dissatisfied whine by pulling his violin into Kylo’s line of sight. He tucks it under his chin, forgoing any sort of guard because he’s not the sort to deny himself the base pleasure of Kylo’s soothing kisses to his aching jaw when he finishes, and delights in the widening of watchful eyes. He rests the bow lightly against the strings for a moment, eyes closed serenely, a smile tugging at his lips as he conjures up memories of making the strings. His mind’s-eye recreates the image of blood sliding down a drain, washed away from the shining porcelain of the downstairs sink, water slowly changing from pink to clear again as it cleanses him of his transgressions. He remembers carefully hanging them to dry, sitting on the cool, hard floor and for once uncaring of creases in his expensive pants, entranced by the gentle swaying that slowly came to a stop.

He opens his eyes and drags the first notes from his instrument. His carefully balanced mask of neutral expressions falls away as he loses himself in the slow, mournful music. He does not miss the accompaniment of an orchestra that might be there, recreating the abstract sounds of deeper instruments with sharp movements. Hux is a dancer, a performer, more than he ever was a chairman. He enters the second theme with a flourish, skilled double stops exchanged for what would be the first appearance of the strings.

The brief interruption between the first and second movements is almost jarring. Hux, with his unusually disheveled hair and Kylo, a look of calm contentment sitting strangely on his face. He picks up the bow again and begins the melody once more, slowly again, setting the stage for bigger things.

This movement is different. Its funeralesque tones should be sad, but Hux feels calm. His heart beat picks up, not with the increasing difficulty, but with his memories of meeting the man on the bed who watches him with equal parts love and fear, who trembles beneath him and comes apart so beautifully then trembles beside him as he is put back together again. He plays from the heart and for once, cannot find himself to regret letting someone into his life. He thinks of life, extinguished by his fingertips, by their fingertips, as he enters the third movement.

The technical difficulty is a reward in itself. His fingers fly, his arms ache, and beads of sweat gather at his hairline, but he plays on if only to prove to himself that he can. This section is a battlefield, a musical scoring to the gory film playing beneath eyelids he hadn’t released he shut. A run of octaves accompanies a more literal run and he feels the phantom pain of calves burning from distance, pushed further by want. The jerking movements of his bow remind him of watching branches tear at Kylo’s skin as he sprinted through the forest, exhausted and running on exhilaration alone.

The final D note reverberates through the stillness of the room. Punctuation to a chapter where both of them know what is next but are hesitant to turn the page and lose the moment. Hux breathes heavily as he lowers the instrument from his chin and holds it loosely in one hand, bow dangling from the fingertips of the other. He does not seek approval often but here he has laid himself bare for his lover.

He watches as Kylo slowly peels back the sheets from his legs and swings them over the side of the bed. His lithe, naked skin covered only at the abdomen, where white gauze bandages are wrapped tightly around the flesh. Uniform dark splashes of dried blood, clustered around the bottom left, are interrupted with fresh, bright red, no doubt from Kylo’s incessant writhing before the small concert. It’s a wonder none has gotten on the sheets.

“Anything,” Kylo promises as he extends one shaking hand to caress Hux’s cheek.