Going through corridor after corridor, Hux knew this was going to be a shitty situation. He had known since the first strange report had appeared on his datapad. It had been a week since this bad feeling had started haunting him. It was there, at the back of his mind, from the moment when Ren had sent their Supply Master into the medical bay for apparently doing his job. Ren had always kept many secrets from him. To his displeasure, his position outside the chain of command gave him this right. He hated it. He hated lack of control. Especially over the biggest liability on this ship.
Ren's secret was dangerous. First, he had almost killed the Supply Master for checking the state of a delivered package, then he had destroyed the register containing information about said package. With a datapad and nearby console as a bonus. Beast. Was he aware how expensive his idiotic tantrums were? Probably not. He was not going to risk asking him that.
The man woke up two days later with partial amnesia. It did not surprise him at all. Ren had used his space wizardry to remove all traces of whatever he was planning. It was one of those rare moments when he was almost impressed with this man-child. If he could control him, this insufferable brat would become a weapon. A perfect tool. His set of skills, talents and intelligence were admirable when stripped of his character. Such a shame.
For a few days, he tried to assure himself that the bad feelings were caused by stress and lack of sleep. Nothing new really. He couldn't let himself procrastinate when there was work to be done.
But it didn't last long. He was getting ready to read the rest of the reports before sleeping with his dear kitty purring on his lap when an urgent message came to him sent by Captain Phasma herself.
There was a situation in Ren's room. Of course. And no one wanted to address the problem with the source himself. Cowards. Ren ruining his room was nothing new, but this time he just had to destroy a water pipe that was slowly flooding the room below Ren's quarters. Whatever he did, there was a leakage that could not be fixed from the lower level. So what was the only solution? Of course, he had to get Darth Tantrum out of his room so technicians could do their job.
Getting close to Ren's quarters, he saw quite a group of people gathered around the door. In a safe distance of course. They all got out of his way as he swiftly approached the entrance. He could override the door and get inside, but it didn't sound safe. Ren was a warrior, someone you didn't want to startle. So, he buzzed first, letting Ren open up himself. After the third buzz of the doorbell, he finally decided to override the door. It opened with a hiss, showing absolute chaos inside. Stepping in, he let the door close behind him as he looked at the wreck of the bed, still red scorch marks on the walls and the floor. And the ceiling? This particular one of his tantrums had to be intense.
Finally, his eyes landed on Ren himself. He was surprisingly calm. Maybe he burned his energy out in a fit of rage. That would make it easier. He stepped closer but froze when realization hit him. There were those wide shoulders he knew way too well, but the back of his head was different, and the mask that infuriated him so many times was lying on the desk next to him. What he assumed was the helmet in the dimmed lights of this room seemed to be a mane of black hair. So that was what Snoke's hound looked like. The greatest mystery on this ship was about to be revealed to him.
"Ren." He spoke first.
Ren tensed but did not turn.
"What do you want?" He could hear a threat in his voice, but there were something more too.
"There is a need for technicians to enter your quarters. You damaged part of ship's water system, and you know water is an important resou—"
"NO!" came before he could even finish the sentence.
"Don't be childish, Ren. No one is interested in your private matters, and you are the only one to blame. So you better…" his words dies on his lips as Ren turned to him.
He was expecting anything. An alien, something Snoke-alike, but this? This was just a young man. Possibly human. Possibly.. but what he had on his face was a mystery. Some kind of white face paint with red smudges on his cheeks, that were probably meant to be circles, and on his nose. This one looked accidental though. His eyes were painted with black lines that came down with tears. Oh kriff, he was crying. A grown ass man crying like a baby. His fath— Commandant would have him beaten for this. No weakness. But here he had that bull of a man looking ridiculous and exposed in front of him, and he had no idea how to feel about it.
"What are you doing, Ren?" He finally voiced his consternation.
That only seemed to agitate him more. Strangely it made more tears come down his cheeks.
"It's none of your business! Now get out!" He was yelled at.
He didn't budge. He had faced yelling men too many times to really be moved by it anymore.
"You know just as well as I do that I can't. And I won't, Ren. But you got me here, I'm willing to resolve it without intervention of Supreme Leader himself."
He really didn't want to go to his superior as he knew Snoke would ignore it, but maybe a vision of humiliation in front of his Master would work.
It seemed it did, because after a moment of silence, he turned on the holoprojector with a bust of, if he remembered correctly, one of former Queens and Senator of Naboo. With all honesty, it only raised more questions than answers, but the sole answer he wanted to get was clear. Ren had tried to recreate the traditional Nabooian make-up typical for women in power of this planet.
Why? He had no idea. But that also brought a solution to the main problem he was facing.
"Put your mask on, take your kit and get up." He ordered. "You are going with me"
The sudden sharp request shocked Ren enough to stop tears from falling. Good. He looked at him like he had grown a second head. For some reason, he didn't protest instantly. Bad feelings crept at the back of his head even more than usual, tingling almost like physical presence in his skull.
The strange feeling stopped just as suddenly as it appeared when they both turned to the geyser of cold water that shot out of the floor. He will have the head of whoever was responsible for not cutting off the water in this section of the ship yet. But that apparently was good enough reason for Ren to get up and actually follow his order.
Hux didn't have a reason to wait for Ren. He turned toward the door ready to leave. Ren will either follow him or go sulking somewhere else, hopefully not destroying his ship any more than he already had. Hearing heavy steps and seeing fear on the faces of people getting out of their way, he knew which option it is. None of those fools looked at him but behind him. At the hulking beast clad in black.
None of them spoke a word during their walk to his quarters. There was no need for that. As soon as the door closed behind him, he locked it just to be sure. Last thing he wanted was an officer coming across him and seeing what he was planning to do. That would be hard to explain and would end with a loss of probably a good officer like Lieutenant Mitaka.
He looked at his cat when he heard a loud growl and hiss. His poor Millicent was not used to the company. She never liked most of officers with exception for Dopheld, who seemed to be acceptable human being. Ren on the contrary got the same reaction Phasma had gotten. Interesting. Ren just stood there motionless, mask turned toward his lady. He sighed and went to the restroom to grab a towel.
"Ren, stop scaring my cat and go sit somewhere. And take that stupid helmet. I can't work when you have it on"
At least, Millicent stopped yowling. Ren either left her alone or worse, but then Hux would kill him in cold blood. Millicent trotted to him, standing between him and intruder, crossing out the darkest scenario. Good. He could deal with her upset meowing. His brave girl. He pet her, carrying the wet towel to the main room.
Ren was sitting cross-legged on the floor next to this ridiculous helmet. Typical. He was really not going to waste time on arguing with him now, so he just sat in front of him. He was followed by those warm brown eyes. He would not be surprised if he felt like prey, but it was more like facing a cornered animal. A wariness was just too clear.
"Wash your face" the order came with a towel handed to him.
Ren said nothing, just followed, washing his face with a fabric, ruining it forever. Nevermind. He will have new one, and this one will not be wasted. He made sure nothing got wasted on his ship. At least, this little detail calmed him down a bit.
With his face clean, Ren looked like any man. Not a monster or a beast. His facial features were somehow soft and boyish in a manner of speaking. He was for sure an adult man, but there was that softness mixed with a few moles, small imperfections and a huge size of pretty much every detail of his face. And body as a matter of fact. Ok, his mind was wandering too far.
"Where do you have the kit and hologram?" Hux asked, without emotions.
It was quite amusing how uncertain he looked. Now he understood why Ren was wearing this ridiculous helmet. Not even the slightest emotion could hide in those eyes. He was just too expressive.
"Come on, I don't have all day" he was getting impatient, and it could end ugly knowing Ren's temper.
Finally, the man turned on the projector showing once again the Nabooian monarch. Now, he could see her face properly. Whatever Ren made earlier wasn't even close to the lines he saw in front of him. Opening the kit with makeup equipment and pigments, he tilted his head, studying its content. A few brushes in various sizes, a strange looking sponge, and other things he didn't try to understand. He took the sponge first and put it in the white foundation. It was an efficient way to put it thoroughly and evenly on Ren's face. At least, this step he did almost right previously. Almost.
Hux was not going to accept anything less than perfection. He made sure every spot of skin was covered evenly, keeping the perfectly white colour, not showing Ren's original skin tone. It was especially hard on black moles, but he managed.
Pleased with its effect, he turned back to the bust to check for details. He started with red dots placed below on ⅔ of an eye and at the same height as the tip of his nose. You could draw a straight line connecting this three points. Perfect. Then the lips. With Ren's prominent lips, it should be easy. Or not. Covering his upper lip perfectly, keeping natural shape of it requires precision and focus. The line on lower lip was the easy one. Finally, the step Ren fucked up before almost as badly as the dots. Why did he even pick a black paint for his eyes? The undersides of the eye should be still red. Making a thin but even line was easier than he assumed. Mostly thanks to Ren's unnatural stillness. With his character, he was sure he will move a lot, but this man was like a statue from the moment he started.
After last critical look at his creation, he closed the lid of the kit with all tools neatly put in their respective place. It made Ren open his eyes and move slightly.
"Done." He stated, turning off the hologram. "You can see your reflection in the fresher"
He tried to not look at Ren and be as unaffected as he should. But he both wanted to see his reaction and watch that uncertainty and awkwardness he saw right now. It was really amusing to see. The Knight got up and went to the fresher as directed. He stayed there for a longer moment. Hux didn't dare to go in after him. It would be inappropriate, and he was not going to show interest. Not a chance.
Millicent came to him meowing in displeasure. She didn't like guests. He knew. All he could do now was to pet her and calm her down. Ren came out looking stunned and lost. After a moment of awkward silence between them, Ren finally spoke first.
"Why did you do that?" It was strangely put question, but Hux understood the meaning.
"Why did I help you? Because I could."
Because it was the easiest way to get everything in order. Because it was a way to have control. Because he was curious. As much as he hated that part, he was.
"Let me ask similar question. Why?" He asked calmly, never taking his eyes of Ren.
After a longer moment of silence, he was about to accept lack of answer, but then Ren took a deep breath in and out and spoke out.
"I don't know. I had a vision. I saw her. I saw my grandmother. And today is anniversary of her death. And I thought…" he paused there and put his helmet on. "I don't know what I was thinking"
With those word, he moved toward the exit but stopped before leaving. "....Thank you"
And just like that he was gone. Hux was not sure what to think about it. It was all strange, but it was strangely a good sign. The first opening toward taming the beast. Or maybe more. The first sign of mild trust, and the first secret.
And who knew, maybe one day he could have a powerful ally.