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Seven days prior...

Kylo jolts awake, heart pounding raggedly in his chest, the arrhythmia kicking in hard, lungs clenching and burning while the muscles in his phantom leg twitch. His vision is blurred and he relies on the Force, sweeps the room and finds—

“…Grand Marshal,” he rasps, an uneven voice from a dry mouth. “You’re in our bedchambers.”

Hux sniffs. “Your bedchambers,” he says.

Kylo rubs at his eyes, vision clearing. He glances at the adjoining door between their rooms like a nervous twitch, because he can’t help it—but, as always, the door on his side is open wide, and the door on Hux’s side is locked tight, security pad glowing a deep sullen red. He looks back at Hux, feels Hux assessing his weaknesses and then filing them away into a place in Hux’s mind that Kylo can’t—won’t—touch.

“You look nice today,” Kylo says, because he isn’t awake yet, and even if he was awake, he’s too stupid to keep from saying it.

“That’s not necessary,” Hux says. “Don’t be a fool.” His hand comes up to fidget with the white scarf draped around his neck anyway, long elegant fingers brushing at the silk before settling it back down in the same position it was in.

Kylo pushes himself up in bed, ignoring the way his back screams in protest. He can feel his right foot in the Force, a contorted limb in the midst of a muscle spasm that never fully goes away. The sheets fall to his waist, and Hux’s eyes never shift away from his.

(It hurts.)

“To what do I owe the—”

“I’ve cancelled your upcoming leave,” Hux says derisively. “With your little—pilot.”

Kylo blinks at him. It’s a training exercise. It is on Kylo’s calendar as such. There is absolutely—

“You’re taking me on vacation instead,” Hux says sharply. “This is not a negotiation.”

“Hux,” Kylo says. “We’re married, why would I—”

“I’ll send the details to your comm,” Hux says quickly. He turns sharp on his heel, and stalks out, black jacket flaring behind him.

His scent is null, and the moment the main door slides shut behind him, it’s as though he’d never been there.

*

Now

Kylo can’t breathe. He can’t think. He can hardly move. They’re protected by the sun shelter, and neither of them can be seen from the ship, so no one will have any idea that anything is wrong. There’s nobody on the beach except for himself and the Grand Marshal, and this is an assassination attempt.

It’s been almost eight years since the last one, and Kylo has let his guard down more times than he can count. It’s not that he thought there wouldn’t be another one, it’s just—why wouldn’t Hux wait until something more significant, like his sixty-fifth birthday? (Or the twenty-five year anniversary of Hux’s promotion—but that was three standard months ago, and everything had gone extraordinarily smoothly, and now there’s—whatever this is.)

Next to him, Hux shifts in his sleep, and it hits Kylo again, so suddenly he feels like the breath is being knocked right out of him. Like the time he’d had all his ribs broken at once and every breath had felt like his bones were going to shear through his skin.

He should leave. He should get the fuck out from under the shade structure and go—drown himself in the ocean. It’ll be way more pleasant to drown himself than it will be to suffer through whatever tortures Hux has planned for him. He should have known it would be bad, with how Hux has kept his guard up for so long—

Hux whimpers a little in his sleep, and Kylo can feel his blood pressure rising. Hux must have slipped him something in the shuttle. That’s probably why he’d rescheduled the vacation in the first place. Some kind of a—a poison or something—kriffing hell, Kylo’s tongue is starting to feel weird. His palms are sweating.

He glances over at Hux, who is still sound asleep next to him. By the time he wakes up and gets on with the rest of his plan, Kylo is going to be incapable of moving. He doesn’t even trust himself to stand now without falling over. The window for getting the hell out of here is probably gone now.

Kylo exhales heavily, presses his hand over his mouth and nose, shuts his eyes. Reaches out with the Force to try and find the toxin, isolate it in his bloodstream—he knows exactly what is and isn’t supposed to be there, had just checked his blood the previous week...but he can’t track down anything foreign this time. Everything is absolutely fine except for—

—except—

…wait.

His hormones are—not right. Levels are elevated that shouldn’t be elevated, his blood slipping too fast through his veins, his heart-rate picking up, and even though this isn’t the time for it, it’s almost exactly like he’s—

Kylo glances over at Hux, at the flush on Hux’s face, at the way he’s gnawing on his lower lip in his sleep.

Kylo is in a responsive rut.

He’s in a responsive rut because Hux is in heat.

*

Eight hours prior…

“You’re as fidgety as hell,” Kylo says. “Please stop.”

Hux doesn’t stop, turns a sharp corner and resumes pacing. “You agreed to this vacation. Do you already have regrets?”

“I don’t have regrets,” Kylo says, forcing his voice lower so that it won’t carry to the cockpit.

“Did you have something scheduled?” Hux asks acidly.

Kylo looks away, chews on his lip. It’s nothing. It’s always been nothing—his rut isn’t due for a couple more days, and they’ve been perfectly manageable for the last decade, it’s just that they’re easier to manage if he can get in his Silencer, pretend that they’re in their twenties and it’s Snoke keeping them apart. Anything other than what their marriage—and the rest of their lives—has devolved to. But they’ll be back on the Supremacy II before this one hits, regardless of Hux’s last-minute scheduling changes. “No,” he says. “I didn’t.”

“That’s not what your calendar says,” Hux retorts. “But I suppose if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s your right.” He waves his hand irritably in the air, wedding ring glinting on his finger, and the white scar of his bondbite clearly visible on his neck. “You’ll do as you like, you always do.” He looks out the viewport onto the beach they’re flying over. “Are those rocks? Did you choose a rock beach?”

Kylo shrugs and pushes the hurt back down where he can’t feel it, the same way he always does. “It’s a black sand beach. I thought you would appreciate the aesthetic.”

“It’s covered in rocks,” Hux complains.

“You’re not going to swim anyway,” Kylo says irritably. “I don’t know why you care.”

Hux crosses his arms over his chest. “I may not even get undressed.”

Kylo glares at him. “You wouldn’t have gotten undressed anyway. You wear clothing to bed.”

“It’s none of your business what I wear to bed,” Hux says stiffly.

Kylo huffs, irritated. Turns away before he says something that he regrets. Considers not even telling Hux he’d packed a bottle of that expensive gin Hux likes. And also a variety of snacks—bland, boring, easily digestible snacks, because the ulcers that had been ravaging Hux’s guts by the time they’d brought the war to a close had permanently changed Hux’s taste in food.

Not that he’d ever had any to begin with.

“I’m going to buckle myself in for the landing,” Hux says. “Mind you don’t lock your cybernetic knee if we go down heavy, I’m sure landing on a pile of irregular black rocks is going to be a challenge for the trainee pilot you apparently saw fit to bring with us.”

“For pfassk sake,” Kylo grumbles under his breath.

Hux raises a silvered eyebrow at him, and waits.

“As you wish, Grand Marshal,” Kylo says. He waits until Hux has gone further back into the ship before stalking up front. “Bring us down over there,” he says.

“Yes, Supreme Leader,” the pilot replies.

“Senator,” Ren corrects absently—but old habits die hard, and to be honest, he doesn’t much mind if this one takes a while to go.

*

Six hours prior…

“Look at that,” Kylo says. “He’s lowered himself to something approximating beach clothing. And here I thought you weren’t even getting undressed today.”

Hux curls his lip, and tugs at the sheer oversized button-up he’s wearing over his adorably small red swimsuit. “It’s too hot out here,” he says. “I would die if I stayed in my uniform.” He looks up at the sun, frowning. “I may die now. I don’t feel well.”

Kylo looks up at the sky too. There are clouds drifting over the sun. The sea breeze is cool, and the black sand isn’t even too hot for his bare feet. He curls his toes in it anyway, and then resumes building the sun shelter. The thin walls enclose the structure on three sides, with a roof arcing overtop—enough to give them privacy, and prevent Hux from getting sunburnt. “Well, I appreciate that you’ve stripped down.”

“None of that,” Hux gripes, setting down his bag. “There’s no point. Did you bring my—”

“Beach chair, towel, pillow, sunhat, sunblock. I also brought sandwiches.”

Hux scowls. “Hand me the sunblock.”

Kylo hands it over, cringes a little when Hux pops the cap open and immediately starts slathering it on.

“Is that the same stuff you usually use?” he asks after a few minutes.

“Yes,” Hux says, engrossed in rubbing it into his wrist.

“It smells different from usual.”

“Does it?”

“…I guess not,” Kylo says.

*

Four hours prior…

“Did you have to set up on the rockiest part of the beach?”

“Please excuse me,” Kylo snaps. “You moved the vacation up, and the decorative rake I ordered off the holonet hasn’t arrived yet. Your meditative sand arrangement will have to wait.”

“It wasn’t your fucking rake I was worried about,” Hux retorts.

“Explain,” Kylo says darkly.

Hux sets his jaw, and tilts his head, looks at Kylo down his nose.

Kylo sighs. “Are you sure you don’t need to have a nap, old man? You’re getting cranky.”

Hux glares at Kylo over his glasses. “Pardon me?”

Kylo gestures with his arm. “Have a nap, Grand Marshal. You’re getting cantankerous. I went through all this effort to—”

“To what,” Hux snaps.

“Nothing,” Kylo mutters. It’s not like it matters—Hux won’t care that Kylo tried to make this nice, will turn down anything Kylo offers him, just like he has since—since the wedding, or since Hux allowed Kylo to bond with him, or since Hux decided that he hated his husband’s guts. Whichever came first. (For all Kylo knows, it all happened at the same time, and he’d just been too blinded by—by feelings to see it.)

“I won’t,” Hux starts—and then he clamps his mouth shut, sways on his feet a little.

Kylo blinks, but doesn’t move. Waits to see if Hux will stabilize—and then breathes a sigh of relief when he does.

“Fine,” Hux grouses. “I’ll take that nap if it won’t inconvenience you.”

“It won’t,” Kylo says, meaning to be reassuring—but Hux just scowls harder, and carefully lowers himself to the ground using one of the supports for the shelter to keep his balance. “I can help.”

“I wouldn’t want to get sand in your knee,” Hux says.

Kylo looks down at the bare cybernetic that stretches from the middle of his right thigh down. “I can clean it out after,” he offers.

“I’m fine,” Hux says, landing heavily on the beach towel he’s spread out, and then pillowing his head on his own arm.

“Let me know if you need anything,” Kylo murmurs—but he waits until Hux is asleep before he says it.

Even after decades of nothing but harsh looks and snapped words and absolutely perfect political harmony, with Hux able to finish Kylo’s sentences and translate his raw ideas into ironclad law, but unable to say a single kind word to Kylo when they’re alone—even after all that, Kylo still loves his husband.

He still loves his husband, and it is agony.

*

Now

Hux is in heat, and Kylo’s rut has started in response. He shifts as far away from Hux as he can, but it doesn’t help—every time Hux moves, another wave of scent blankets the small enclosed space, and Kylo curses his husband’s sensitivity to the sun, because the fucking structure he created to protect Hux’s skin is covered in on all three sides, and the slight breeze is blowing from the ocean in toward them, and Kylo is trapped in here with his sleeping omega, and his omega’s heat-scent is so thick it feels like the air is dripping.

The rut is coming on slow—it always does, these days—but it’s been years since Kylo has been this close to Hux when it’s happened, and Hux is making it—making it worse somehow. Kylo can tell because he’s already getting hard, and he’s old enough now that it doesn’t usually happen until he’s a couple hours in.

This is going to be a rough one. One of the ones where Kylo is knotting into his own fist, hand cramped from the strain of holding himself, biting into his lip so hard it bleeds, and he’ll have to go through it in front of Hux, because if he can’t make it anywhere before his hardon kicks in, he’s too stupid to get places—and he didn’t prepare for this, because he wasn’t supposed to need to, because he was certain Hux was back on his suppressants again and just hadn’t bothered telling Kylo this time, because since when was it any of Kylo’s business what his husband did or didn’t do with his body?

(And it isn’t, and it doesn’t, and it still hurts, every single time, because Hux is buttoned up so tightly that Kylo can’t even see his husband through the cracks anymore. All he has is the Grand Marshal—and the Grand Marshal will be disgusted to know that this is what his former Supreme Leader has devolved to. Freed of Snoke’s tyranny, Hux had always controlled his biology as much as he was able, and Ren had wallowed in the excesses of his own—and thus has no way to control it, no way to stop it once it starts. This rut is happening, whether Kylo wants it to or not.)

Kylo glances over. Hux is lying on his front, and his tight little red bathing briefs are wet between his legs, the fabric dark and glistening. Every time he shifts, the scent gets stronger. He’s shifting a lot. Ren wants to reach out and put his hand on Hux’s forehead, but his own hands are warm and damp, his palms hot, and he doesn’t want to upset Hux.

He carefully reaches over to the portable conservator their food is packed into, pops the lid, and pulls out the bottle of gin. He wipes the condensation off on the leg of his loose training shorts, and then carefully inches the cold bottle toward Hux’s forehead, leaving it away from his skin a little bit.

Hux moans, and his eyelids flutter. He reaches out with his hand, taking the bottle and pressing it against his face. “Mmm,” he murmurs. “Thank you, Ren.”

“You’re welcome,” Kylo says softly.

And then Hux’s entire body stills. “Oh no,” he whispers in horror, voice raw. He turns over onto his side, and reaches between his legs.

Kylo looks away, tips his face into his own shoulder, compressing his nose against the cloth. It doesn’t matter. He can taste Hux in the air, and the rut is kicking in hard now. He can feel it in his entire body, his heart pounding in his chest and his breathing going shallow, blood rushing through his veins. He reaches for a towel without thinking, drags it over his crotch. His cock is pulsing. His head is spinning.

“Oh no,” Hux repeats. “Oh no, oh no, oh no. Fuck. Fuck.

“I’m sorry,” Kylo says miserably. “I think I’m—I think I’m making it worse by being here. I’m gonna—I’m gonna go. In a minute. I’ll just—the water.”

“This isn’t supposed to happen anymore,” Hux says.

“I know,” Kylo replies, his voice muffled by the fabric he’s still shoving his face into. “Your suppressants must have conked out.”

The silence that follows is heavy and awkward.

Kylo swallows, wipes his chin against his shoulder. He can feel himself drooling. It’s horrifically embarrassing. “I’ll go in a second,” he says. “I’m just—dizzy.”

“…I’m not on suppressants,” Hux says.

“You’re not—”

“I’m not on suppressants,” Hux says. “This just—doesn’t happen. To me. Anymore.”

There’s a slight rustle over from his side of the shelter, and Kylo squeezes his eyes shut as another wave of Hux’s scent washes over him.

“I thought you were on suppressants,” Kylo says stupidly.

“I don’t know why you would presume to think that,” Hux snaps. “Of course I’m not on suppressants, I’m too fucking old for—fuck, this is a kriffing mess—hand me a towel, would you?”

Kylo keeps his eyes shut, shoves the towel he’d hauled over his own crotch over to Hux without looking.

Their fingertips brush, and Kylo feels it through his entire body like an electric shock. He looks over his shoulder at Hux, and Hux’s eyes have fluttered shut. There’s sweat gathering at his temples and his hair is mussed out of its regular style.

“This is awful,” Hux says. He’s pressing the towel between his legs but makes no effort to move or shift or anything.

Kylo takes another breath, and all he can smell is Hux.

“Let me help you?” he asks.

Waiting for Hux’s nod of assent is that worst wait Kylo has ever had in his life.

He’s moving the moment that he gets it.

*

Thirty five years ago…

Kylo organizes all his notes from the day’s meetings, lets himself into Hux’s rooms.

“I brought the notes,” he announces. The room is fucking freezing, and he’s glad of his robe and mask to keep him warm.

The light is on under the door of the refresher.

Kylo waits. “I brought the notes,” he repeats the moment the refresher door opens—and then he stops.

Hux looks ghastly. His face is paler than usual, and there’s sweat visible on his forehead. His hair is damp and he’s wearing only a thin silk robe, and even that is more open at the chest than usual.

“You need to go to medbay,” Kylo says immediately. “I’ll reschedule.”

“I can’t,” Hux says. “Went once already. They turned me away.” He takes a long, ragged breath. “It’s my—they’re not—”

“Your suppressants,” Kylo breathes. He’s glad of the mask, because it hides the emotion in his voice. “I’m so sorry.” Kylo’s own are working fine, just like they always have—he has the regular amount of hardons considering he’s in his twenties, he doesn’t smell anything unusual about Hux or anyone else on ship, and he can’t knot anything—nor does he want to. It’s the second-best thing about having defected to the Order before he got dragged to Skywalker’s shitty school—Kylo got access to suppressants immediately, perfectly tuned to his own chemistry.

(The best thing about defecting to the Order, obviously, is Hux.)

Hux shrugs his shoulder, and the robe slides partially off before sticking to the sweat on his upper arm. “Give me the notes, please.” He takes the pieces of flimsy, flips through them. “I wish you would just transmit these electronically. You don’t need to brag about your handwriting, you know I can hardly read it.”

“I’ll read it to you,” Kylo offers—and the mask strips out the eagerness he can’t hide, makes him sound calm. (Fuck, he’s thankful for his suppressants—he can’t imagine trying to deal with Hux without them, he’d be prostrate on the floor slavering for the man, regardless of their respective rut/heat cycles.)

“You’re doing it again,” Hux says, looking down at the flimsy.

“What?”

“Making up excuses to stay in my room when you know very well I’m on the verge of—an episode.” Hux picks up the white handtowel draped over his shoulder, wipes off his forehead. The towel comes away wet, and Hux frowns at it, snaps it in the direction of the floor before tossing it away entirely. “You smell horrid. You realize that, right?”

“I showered.”

“Your robes stink.”

“I’ll take them off.”

“You can’t give me what I need.”

Kylo blinks rapidly behind the mask, grabs at his dick through the robes and makes an obscene gesture at Hux, his fist wrapped around the base of it. “I’ve still got big hands,” he says. “I’ll knot you with my fist, Armitage.”

Hux shudders, his eyes rolling back briefly before he gets ahold of himself again. “I wish you wouldn’t be so crass about it,” he says, primly—but his voice cracks and breathes, draws out the sibilance in crass.

“I’m discreet,” Kylo insists. “I’ve been training. I’ll fuck you with those toys you like. I’ll shove my fist up your ass. I’ll fuck you with my entire arm, Armitage—nobody can give it to you like I can, and I can’t—I can’t actually do anything, I’m still on suppressants until I finish my training, so you won’t get bonded or knotted. I can’t do that. It’s safe.” He bares his teeth behind the mask, imagines what it would feel like to bite Hux, right on his neck—and maybe he’ll get that some day, if he’s very, very good—and in the meantime, he can do this for Hux. He can help Hux take the edge off. He can get Hux through his failed suppressants, and he can scour the galaxy for new ones that will work better with Hux’s body chemistry, and he can—

—the flimsi clatters to the floor, and Hux reaches for his robe, yanks the sash off. “Chase me,” he breathes, letting the robe fall open. “I give up.”

Kylo grins under the mask. “Don’t give up until I’ve caught you,” he intones, and then he lunges.

*

Thirty years ago…

“Okay, so—think about getting fucked.”

Hux moans, ruts against the sheets. “Damn it, Kylo.”

“No, concentrate,” Kylo says, laughing, and splaying his hand over the small of Hux’s back. “You’re not concentrating, you gotta think about fucking—”

“I’m gonna die,” Hux mutters. “I’m always thinking about fucking, kriff, these pills are horrid, I’m sweating to death.”

“Concentrate—”

“You’re the one in my head,” Hux snaps. “Just find it, would you? I need to get off and then quit these goddamn pills—”

“I know, I know, but we gotta find you something that’s gonna work better for you, and I need to see how these ones are working in your brain—here, think about me shoving my dick up your ass, I’m gonna trace the neural pathways with the Force, think about how it feels when I knot you really hard, think about—”

“Kylo, for fuck’s sake.” Hux swallows. “This is fucking me up, I keep thinking about Snoke and those fucking placebos he used to feed me—”

“It’s okay,” Kylo says reassuringly. “He’s dead. We can just start over. We can try this again. I have all your medical records. We’ll find something that’ll work for you. We’ll synthesize something from scratch. Just—think about me spreading you open and getting my cock in there, think about how it feels when I pop my knot right inside that slick ass of yours—”

“Kriff,” Hux swears, his voice muffled by his own arm. “Kylo, I need it.”

“—yes, there, I can see it, I can see where the suppressants are, just keep thinking about that for a minute—”

“Kylo—for fuck’s sake, can you just—yes, slide your hand back there—fuck, yes, give me another finger, Kylo, give me—yes, another one, Kylo—”

“Kriff, Hux, I gotta—”

“—yes, can you just—”

“—babe—I’m just trying to trace it—through—your brain—”

“Kriffing hell, Kylo.”

“I—love you—too.”

“…”

“Fuck, I got it, okay, it’s good, I’m gonna fuck you with my dick now.”

“Finally.”

*

Now

Kylo mops the wetness from Hux’s thighs. The towel he’s using is soaked, and he keeps having to rotate it to get to a drier spot. Hux’s slick is on his hands and it’s all he can smell and taste, and he’s pretty sure that their hearts are beating in the exact same rhythm, because when he presses on the inside of Hux’s thigh, he can hear the same irregularity in Hux’s pulse that Kylo has in his own, that same mild arrythmia that all the droids bring up at Kylo’s physicals, and he keeps telling them to ignore, because who the fuck cares—it still beats, it’s fine, it’s fine.

(He didn’t think he’d get to be this old anyway, didn’t figure he’d ever be older than thirty, much less two decades past it—what does it matter if his heartbeat isn’t perfect? He’s alive, isn’t he? They stabilized the goddamn galaxy, Kylo and his husband, and if he has a heart attack sponging slick from between his husband’s legs, that’s a really good way to go.)

“What made you think I was on suppressants?” Hux says through gritted teeth. His hands are clenched, grabbing onto the supports of the shade structure, so tense there’s no blood in his knuckles.

“You prefer being on them,” Kylo says softly. “You always have.”

“But what made you think…”

It takes Kylo a full five minutes to be able to feel like he can answer the question, he’s so overcome by being this close to Hux when he’s like this. “This is the first,” Kylo starts, and then he has to wipe his mouth on his sleeve because he’s drooling again, and Hux hasn’t found that attractive since they were in their twenties.

(Slavering for me, Hux used to call it, and he would lick into Kylo’s mouth while they fucked without caring about how messy it was or the sounds their mouths made as they crashed together.)

“This is the first…responsive rut I’ve had,” Kylo says finally. “In fifteen, twenty years.” He risks looking up, is immediately overcome by the white scars of his own toothmarks—Hux’s bondbite, clearly visible on his neck, and Kylo is fucking itching to just—spread Hux’s legs and press his dick between them, open up Hux’s sloppy hole and grind into him. “I just get the—the regular ones now.”

“Like clockwork,” Hux sniffs, shifting uncomfortably as Kylo continues to mop at him.

“They’re not that regular,” Kylo demurs.

“Every sixty-seven days, now,” Hux says. “And you skipped one two years ago during your transition to Senator.”

Kylo looks up at him.

“I have a right to—ah, fuck,” Hux squeezes his eyes shut for a moment. “I didn’t bring anything with me,” he says after a moment, eyes still shut tight and face scrunched, wrinkles even more prominent than they usually are because of how pinched his face is.

“O-okay,” Kylo says. “I can get you back to the ship, we can head back to Supremacy II.”

Hux’s eyes flash open, and he glares at Kylo.

“What?”

“I can’t be seen like this,” Hux hisses.

“It’s a biological—”

“It’s all fine and good for you,” Hux says. “You look—like that,” he says, gesturing down at Kylo’s body. “And you reek of sex, and I won’t be able to—I won’t be able to—” He sobs, and then slaps himself in the face, eyes flashing furiously.

(Kylo wants to catch his wrist and squeeze, pin him down so he can’t hurt himself—but they’ve never done that, not ever, not in all the decades they’ve been together, and Kylo won’t start now.)

“You look like that,” Hux continues, “and I look like this. I won’t be seen looking like this in public. I don’t want to be seen by you either.”

Kylo opens his mouth, and that’s enough for him to taste Hux on his tongue. He closes his mouth again, savagely wipes his bare arm across his face. “Stay here,” he slurs, keeping his face ducked down so that Hux won’t have to look at him if he doesn’t want to. “We can jus’…stay here. I won’t…I won’t look.”

Silence.

“Hand me my datapad,” Hux says. He swallows hard. “I’ll—work through the worst of it. It’ll go away.”

Kylo nods, hands the datapad over. His hand is shaking.

His heart stutters in his chest.

*

Twenty years ago…

Hux is in the room before the medical droid has even gone. He’s flushed, his hair matted to his head with sweat, and his hands shaking when he clamps them onto Kylo’s arm.

“Your fucking leg,” he says.

“Actual legitimate assassination attempt,” Kylo says, laughing shallowly. He’s still out of breath from the entire thing, spinning towards unconsciousness on a cocktail of rapidly decreasing adrenaline and pain medication. “Who fucking knew.”

Hux leans forward, presses his lips against Kylo’s. “I told you, I quit after you promoted me,” he mutters against Kylo’s lips.

He smells sweet—like slick and sex and the heat that’s burning under his skin.

“Lemme fuck you,” Kylo slurs. “Who gives a fuck about my leg, you smell amazing.”

“You smell like bacta,” Hux complains.

“It fucked me up pretty bad, they had to bathe me in the stuff—”

“Let me lick it off—”

“You’ll have to lift the sheet, I’m conserving my—”

Hux tugs the sheet back and stares at Kylo’s leg.

Kylo laboriously props himself up on his elbows, looks down. “Oh,” he says. “New knee.”

“New leg,” Hux breathes.

“They fucking got me good,” Kylo says, and then he giggles.

Hux glares at him sharply. “Are you high?”

“Fuck yes, I am,” Kylo breathes. “Come on, baby. I can smell you from here, you must be soaked through your pants.”

Hux shrugs his shoulders, lets his greatcoat fall to the floor. The scent of him is so much better with the greatcoat gone, and Kylo moans without meaning to.

They fuck on top of the hospital bed, Kylo supporting himself with the Force so he doesn’t put any pressure on his knee. Hux is clinging to the edge of the bed, Kylo has his teeth buried in the bondmark on Hux’s neck, blood in his mouth. Kylo can’t hold it back worth shit—he comes fast and sudden, collapsing onto his back the moment his knot softens enough to let him pull out.

Hux whines as he does it, his hand in between his legs stroking his still-hard cock. Kylo limply lifts his fingers up, clumsily fingers his come back into Hux’s hole.

“Knot me again,” Hux breathes. “Kylo, come on, can you—?”

“I can’t,” Kylo says. “I’m crashing, hard. Gonna pass out.”

“Kylo, I need it, I need—” Hux looks over his shoulder at Kylo, and his eyes are wide and dilated. “I need it, I can’t function without it, you gotta let me—”

“Do you need to be penetrated?” Kylo says.

He doesn’t say it as clearly as he thinks he does, because Hux frowns at him, tilts his head. “What?”

Kylo gestures loosely with his fingers. “D’ya need—in you?”

Hux shakes his head. “Edge is off, I just—I guess I can just—fuck, I hate this, I can feel it in my teeth, I hate—fuck, I’ll just jerk myself off in your goddamn medical bay, with your fucking—robot leg staring at me, and the part where you nearly fucking died—”

“Fuck me,” Kylo breathes.

Hux looks at him sharply, hand stilling on his cock. “What?”

He smells like sex and heat and life, and it’s so much easier to forget how Kylo nearly died when he’s got Hux right here, right beside him, so beautifully alive.

Kylo reaches down and grabs his good knee, hikes it back. “Can’t move my other leg,” he slurs, “but if you can just, like—not jostle me—I mean, the painkillers are good, but I can’t concentrate for any Force stuff, just don’t—lean on it or anything.”

Hux whines, presses down on his cock like he’s trying to press it back between his legs, but he’s too hard for that, and it won’t go.

“Fuck me,” Kylo repeats. “Wet yourself with your own slick, spit on my asshole, I don’t care—I can’t get it up again, the drugs are, I am—too fucking blurry—”

“You’re supposed to be in rut,” Hux whines.

“I’m supposed to be dead,” Kylo retorts. “You’re goddamn lucky the only issue is I can’t get hard again.” He gestures at Hux’s cock, still stiff and red and sore-looking, jutting out from between his perfect thighs, dripping onto his fingers. “You look fucking miserable,” he says. “Come on, stick your cock in my ass. It’ll feel fantastic. Your ass is so good for me, baby, I know mine won’t be that good for you but you should try it, you should try it—come on, Hux, fuck me. Nobody’ll come back here. Nobody will know.”

“I shouldn’t,” Hux breathes.

“There’s nobody to tell us what to do,” Kylo whispers. “We killed the last person who tried—”

“—you killed—”

“—I’m the Supreme Leader,” Kylo intones, deliberately lowering his voice, though his intonation is all off from the fucking painkillers. “Fuck me?”

“Fuck you, and you’ll make me Grand Marshal?” Hux asks hopefully.

“Fuck me,” Kylo promises, “and you’ll get your rocks off. It’ll be fun, I swear it.”

Hux starts muttering profanities under his breath, but he reaches behind himself. There’s a squelch as he fumbles back there, and when he pulls his hand back around and slicks up his dick, Kylo can see strings of fluid dripping between his fingers, can hear drops of it patter onto the floor.

“You’re sure you won’t…” Hux says.

“Wha?”

“Hold it against me,” Hux mutters.

Kylo’s eyes widen, and then he winces in the harsh overhead light. “Why?”

“It’s not…”

“Hux,” Kylo says. “I will hold whatever you want against you whenever you want, but right now, I want you to fuck me. I still want to be awake when you come. Get yourself off, come on, you’re such a—”

“Fucking damn you,” Hux hisses. He braces himself on Kylo’s good leg, lines himself up, and thrusts in.

Kylo gasps, eyes rolling back in his head.

“You like that?” Hux snarls. “Filthy alpha, you like having an omega’s little cock up your ass?”

“Yes,” Kylo gasps. He feels like he’s being impaled, like he’s stretching in ways he’s not meant to stretch, but it makes him forget about the ache in his leg and the haze of the painkillers and—oh, as Hux drives into him, it starts to feel good, it starts to feel amazing, it’s—“Hux, dammit, this is perfect—”

“That’s right,” Hux growls. “Let me fuck you like an alpha, let me pin you on it, let me—”

It’s burns. It burns, and it’s getting drier as they go, but Hux’s face is alight with passion and lust and he looks fucking stunning, one hand on Kylo’s good leg, and the other splayed over Kylo’s hip.

“Fuck, you’re so fucking tight.”

“I love you,” Kylo gasps. “Husband. Fuck me. Armitage.”

Hux growls at him, moves his hand from Kylo’s hip and wraps it around Kylo’s cock.

“Can’t,” Kylo gasps.

“You can,” Hux snaps. “Come on, alpha.”

“I’m your omega,” Kylo gasps. “Knot me, alpha.”

Hux’s hips stutter and he comes, gasping and cursing, curling his body forward over Kylo’s, spasming his hand around Kylo’s limp dick.

One of his hands is on Kylo’s bad leg, and the leg itself is throbbing—but as Hux climbs up on Kylo’s body, collapses on Kylo’s chest, wet face pressed up against Kylo’s shoulder, Kylo doesn’t mind.

He curls his arm around his husband’s shoulder, pulls Hux in close.

“Go to sleep,” Hux says softly. “Go to sleep, little omega.”

“Yessir,” Kylo slurs, and everything goes dark.

*

Now

“I can’t work through this,” Hux says.

It’s been forty three minutes. Kylo has sweat through his robes and he’s so hard his entire body aches. He doesn’t remember the last time he had a hardon that lasted this long, and there’s no way it’s going away anytime soon. The responsive ruts have always been the worst ones—the ones where he’s completely and utterly dependent on Hux, and can’t bear to be anywhere apart from him, which means that he’s trapped in this tiny little shelter even when it would be far more comfortable if he could manage to get out to the water.

“I can’t,” Hux says. “I’m fucking burning up.”

Kylo hazards a look over.

Hux’s face is flushed red, even up into his hairline, where his hair is shot through with silver. His hands, locked on his datapad, are trembling more than they usually do—the side effect of too many stims and too much caffeine, constant over decades.

“Can you still get it up?” Hux asks. “You’re not too old? Your body’s not—it hasn’t—of course it hasn’t, it…”

“Yes,” Kylo breathes. He’s been hard the entire time, absolutely aching, his body hunched over so that Hux doesn’t have to see it.

“Just once,” Hux says, already turning over and setting his datapad aside. “Once, to take the edge off. This isn’t—a resumption of our marriage.”

“Of course not,” Kylo says, voice shaking. “I wouldn’t…I wouldn’t presume.”

“I’m furious at you,” Hux says.

“Of course.”

“For everything,” he says.

“I can just use my fingers,” Kylo offers. He wipes his arm across his face again, swallows the mouthful of drool that’s collected. Fuck, the way Hux smells is absolutely undoing him, but if he says anything about it, he’ll just say something stupid—about how Hux has aged like a fine wine, about how Kylo can’t get enough of him, of how Kylo—

“Just do it already,” Hux says, irritated.

Kylo glances over at him, and his eyes flutter shut of his own accord, his heart pounding in his chest like it’s going to pound right through and flop, wetly, onto the sand in front of them, twitch and flutter in front of Hux, and Hux will laugh, but it won’t—it won’t matter, then, because everything will be out in the open.

“You always used to hate this position,” Kylo breathes. He can’t open his eyes. It’s too much. It’s going to be too much.

(Hux is, as he always has been, inevitable in Kylo’s life, a tractor beam that Kylo has never wanted to escape from, a black hole that Kylo steers his ship into, every single time. And it doesn’t matter if he’s nineteen or twenty seven or thirty five or fifty two. It won’t matter when he’s seventy. He will always, always orient his entire life, his entire being, his very soul on Hux.)

Hux whimpers. Kylo opens his eyes.

Hux’s little red briefs are pulled tight around his ass. They’re soaked through, and there’s black sand sticking to him in places. He’s got his face pressed into his towel, and his hands are clenched in fists, planted on the beach mat. Thighs slick, where Kylo hadn’t mopped him properly.

“Can you just do it already,” Hux says, exhausted. “I don’t feel well, Kylo.”

“D’ya want,” Kylo starts. Swallows. Wipes his mouth on his sleeve. “I’ll do my best not to touch you,” he says.

Hux mutters something indistinct.

“Okay,” Kylo says. He slowly shifts over onto his knees, his prosthetic knee grinding into the black sand. Shuffles forward until he’s closer to Hux, shuffles forward a little more. Looks down. He can barely breathe for how thick Hux’s scent is here, sweet musk that absolutely unravels Kylo, leaves him breathless. He looks down. Hux’s legs are between his, and they are not touching, have scant amounts of space between the two of them.

Kylo reaches into his trunks. His hand is shaking. His legs are shaking. He can hear the whirr of his prosthetic, trying to stabilize his leg on the shifting sand, and he’s asking a lot out of it, he knows he’s asking a lot out of it when the rest of his body isn’t stable enough to hold him up, but he just needs—

He shudders when he wraps his hand around his cock. Pulls it out of his trunks.

“We can stop,” he breathes.

Hux looks back at him over his shoulder, reaches back and hooks his fingertips into the waistband of his red short-shorts, tugs at them. “Do you…not want to?” he asks.

“I want to,” Kylo breathes. “Can I look at your face?”

“I would really prefer if you didn’t,” Hux says. “Just—cock inside me, please.”

Kylo nods. He knew it wouldn’t be—like it was. He knew. He knew. It shouldn’t hurt.

It does.

There are—things he would have said when he was younger. Stupid things. Cock incoming. Prepare for boarding. Let me knot you, omega. I love you, Hux. Childish things.

He’s not going to say any of those things now.

Kylo sucks his lower lip between his teeth.

Hux pulls his little red briefs down, exposes his hole. He’s—wet. Dilated. Slick.

Kylo exhales, moves his hand back to the base of his cock, where he can feel the skin-deep thrum of his knot underneath his hand, the place where it wants to form, pull Hux into him, keep him there, keep them close. He tilts his erection up, presses the head of his cock against Hux’s hole—

—Hux whimpers—

—and presses in, one long-slow stroke.

“S-stars,” Hux swears. “Ren.”

There is copper in Kylo’s mouth.

He’s bitten through his lip.

*

Eighteen years ago...

“You have Resistance sympathies,” Hux snarls, stabbing his finger at a datapad. His hair is wild around his face, and he still smells like the sex they had an hour ago.

(Kylo can smell the edge of his heat, even through his suppressants. It’s slightly soured by the drugs, just hardly present—but still there, and Kylo aches for him.)

“I have…I have what?”

“Resistance sympathies,” Hux repeats. He tosses the datapad in Kylo’s direction, and Kylo catches it with the Force, looks at it.

“These are diplomatic calls,” Kylo says.

“To your mother,” Hux snaps.

“She’s a general,” Kylo retorts. He spreads his legs, gestures to his cock. “Is this what you need? Is this why you’re acting like this?”

Hux sniffs, turns his head away. “Don’t be crass.”

It feels like a slice across Kylo’s chest. He wants to take it back.

Knows he won’t.

“It’s not like I don’t know you’re in contact with your stepmother,” Kylo says, and he’s so angry that it comes out like a threat.

“I detest her,” Hux says sharply.

“We’ll see about that,” Kylo mutters, pulling up his datapad so he can prove what  he and Hux already know—that Hux went to see her last week, that there’s no indication that they made any diplomatic progress on any issues, that there’s no indication they did anything but have fucking tea, so who the fuck is Hux to criticize the fully professional contact that Kylo has recently opened up with Leia—but it’s too late, Hux is already gone.

*

Now

Kylo feels it like a psychic scream, a shrill set of needles slapped over his flesh. He stops moving immediately, mechanical knee grinding as it stutters underneath him, tries to bear his weight through all the sand that’s surely gotten into the gears by now.

Hux is silent below him except for the panting of his breath. His head is hanging down between his arms, long silver-red hair lank with sweat.

His hole has dried up, slick tacky on his walls instead of smooth, and Kylo’s scared to pull out because he doesn’t want to hurt Hux. He’s always bigger and harder in rut than he is out of it, and thank fuck he hasn’t popped a knot yet, but this is still scary. Hux shouldn’t dry up like this, not during—but he has, and stopping is the only way Kylo can think of to avoid hurting him any further.

“Are you okay?” Kylo asks.

Hux doesn’t respond.

Kylo hesitates, and then carefully moves his hand from the support on the side of the sun shelter to hovering just over Hux’s lower back, not confident enough to touch, sure it won’t be welcome. “Do you want me to rub your back?”

“…okay,” Hux says, voice almost too small for Kylo to catch.

Kylo places his calloused hand down on Hux’s back, rubs at the knobs of his spine. Hux is tense there, his entire body tight, but after a few minutes of rubbing, he slowly starts to relax, and it nearly puts Kylo into tears, because he can’t remember the last time Hux relaxed in front of him. Kylo swallows back the mouthful of drool, pitches his voice low and steady. “Here,” he says, still rubbing at Hux’s back. “I have, uh…lube in my bag. I can slick us back up again to get me out, it’ll ease the discomfort.”

Hux’s muscles tense underneath Kylo’s palm. “The fuck have you got that for?”

“I mostly knot my fist during my ruts,” Kylo says evenly, some of the old hurt coming back even though it’s the kind of thing he thought he was over decades ago. “It’s better with lube.” He says a silent prayer of thanks that he no longer uses the omega-scented brand he used to use in his thirties—he just uses the medical grade lubricant now, because it’s thicker and he needs less of it, and Supreme Leader—or Senator—or no, he always feels that everyone has their eyes on his requisitions, so it’s better to just steal the lubricant from medical supply when he needs it, and be done with it.

“Are you fucking betas these days?” Hux asks.

It feels like Kylo has been kicked in the chest, and he puts more weight into the hand on Hux’s back for a moment while he tries to catch his breath. He opens his mouth to say something in retort—but finds he can’t speak. What would he even say? He hasn’t fucked anyone other than Hux his entire life, hasn’t looked at anyone, is bonded to the man in front of him, the man that he loves, and his entire chest is caving in. “I…”

Hux shifts in the sand, and then tugs himself forward until he’s free of Kylo’s cock, curls up in the sand even as he reaches for a dry beach towel, and pulls it over his body.

Kylo sits back on his heels, hard cock still jutting out from between his legs. “I’ve never,” he manages. “Not ever. Not once.”

*

Fifteen years ago…

The little message is pinging on Kylo’s comm when he wakes up that morning.

Armitage Hux’s projected heat is due today.

Kylo glances over at the door between their rooms. His door is open. His husband’s is locked. He squeezes his eyes shut a moment, palms his cock underneath the sheets. He wants to go ask, wants to bring Hux breakfast in bed, wants to sniff the air and inhale and—

—right. The suppressants.

Kylo sighs, sets his comm down, and lies back down in bed, settling back down into his pillow. Hux is on the good medication, now—they’d had to hire medical specialists from across the galaxy, and it had cost Kylo more credits than he’ll ever admit on an official expense report, but Hux is on medication that works, that controls his heat cycle, and prevents him from having any of the horrible side-effects that he’s had under the other pills. The only side-effect is that Hux smells like absolutely nothing—but it’s such a small price to pay that it doesn’t really matter, especially because Hux has always been uncomfortable with having a scent.

Kylo swallows. He can feel his own rut coming on anyways, because this is the time of the month when it normally should, and it’ll happen regardless of whether or not Hux’s does, so he should really just—head out to the Silencer. Fuck his fist in the privacy of space, bang his knees under the console when he comes like he normally does, and he’ll smell the artificially scented lube and look at the holo of Hux that he always carries with him, and it’ll be as good as he can make it—and when he comes back, he’ll book a meeting with Hux so he can hear all about the progress Hux has made on his engineering projects while Kylo’s been gone, and it’ll be perfect.

He packs a change of clothes in his bag, tucks his hardening cock up into the waistband of his tights as he’s getting dressed. His entire body feels warm, and he knows he’ll be running a fever before long, but he’s still got enough time for the forty five minute walk to the hangar because when he feels like this, he doesn’t need to be in an enclosed lift with anyone else, regardless of what their status is, because everything is just overwhelming for him. He can feel every single current in the air conditioning, and the pressure change between his room and the hallway makes his skin itch.

He’s sweating freely by the time he makes it to the hangar, nearly cries with relief when he sees the Silencer there, facing open space, and ready to go, with no one anywhere near it, and the entire hangar not smelling like anything except exhaust because the filtration system here is amazing. Kylo goes up the ramp with a sense of sheer and utter relief, slings his bag into the cargo net and leans over the console, checking to make sure—

—something smells off.

Something smells good.

Kylo looks up, and sees someone entering the hangar, even though nobody should be entering the hangar at all, not during this shift, and they shouldn’t—

—red hair.

It’s Hux.

Kylo stumbles over his own feet coming down the ramp, balances himself by reaching up to touch the underside of the ship. “H-hux?” He clears his throat, increases his volume. “Is that you?”

“You’re leaving?” Hux asks. He’s got his arms crossed in front of his body and he’s rocking back on his heels a little, and he looks—small. He looks so small.

“I’m—”

“I’m in heat,” Hux says. “How could you—”

Kylo lets go of the ship, reaches out with the Force and tugs, hard, sliding Hux across the floor and right into his arms, hard enough that they both fall back onto the ramp. Hux smells even better up-close, all heat-hot and smelling like sex, and he’s scrambling up Kylo’s body, already fumbling with Kylo’s uniform.

“Thought you didn’t have it with this pill,” Kylo manages. He’s found Hux’s bond-mark with his tongue, is inhaling deeply of his scent and trying to get into Hux’s pants at the same time. His cock is so hard he’s dizzy with it.

“Running away,” Hux accuses. “So many fucking layers, we should be back in our rooms, can’t believe you were fucking off on me—”

Never,” Kylo snarls, and he extends his hand, slams the ramp back up inside the ship with the Force. Their bond is throbbing between them, and Kylo feels everything all at once—his own arousal and Hux’s intertwined, the hard heat of his own cock against the warmth of Hux’s hole, how slick Hux is underneath his uniform. “How could you doubt our bond—”

“I’m Force-null,” Hux says, finally giving up and extending his arm, flexing his hand back till the monomolecular blade releases from the sheath, and then reaching back for Kylo’s leggings. “I can’t—”

“Liar,” Kylo accuses, thrusting his hips up toward Hux, feeling the vague scrape of the tip of the blade along his hip as Hux slices at his clothes, pulls them back.

(Hux’s pants come apart in one Force-enhanced tug.)

“Tell me you feel it,” Kylo continues, “or I won’t put it in you.” It’s a lie. They both know it’s a lie, and it reverberates through the bond as a lie, it’s the least true thing Kylo has ever said in his entire life, and Hux still keens against him, rubs his slick-soaked bare ass against the length of Kylo’s cock and then reaches his hand down there as quick as anything, guides Kylo’s cock into his ass, and sits on it, hard, his breath hitching as Kylo bottoms out immediately.

Kylo sits up, anchors his hands on Hux’s hips, and starts fucking Hux on his cock, setting a hard and fast pace because he can feel that’s exactly what Hux wants, because it’s the best way for them to burn off a heat, because this is the first heat Hux has had in years where he hasn’t been distressed or disoriented by it, and all Kylo had planned to do was fuck his fist and now he gets to fuck his husband, he gets Hux’s sweat and scent and his cock buried in Hux’s hole and Hux clenching around him, arms locked around Kylo’s neck and pert nipples rubbing against Kylo’s chest.

“Felt you leaving from across the ship,” Hux breathes into his ear, between frantic bites, his tongue wet and warm, and his saliva scented like heat, just like the rest of him. “Took the fucking train to get here, everyone saw—”

“I’ll erase their memories,” Kylo offers, breathless. He’s absolutely surrounded by Hux’s scent, drowning in it, and everything else is fading into oblivion—the scrape of the ramp under his bare ass, the flight-ready lights blinking in the console, everything, because nothing else matters except this—Hux riding him enthusiastically, the slick dripping down between them, and the tight clench of him around the length of Kylo’s cock. “The entire fucking ship, nobody should get to look at you unless you want them to—”

“Didn’t care,” Hux gasps. “I could feel you leaving, you fuck, don’t leave me—”

“—never unless you sent me away—”

“—don’t say that—”

“Fuck, I’m gonna—”

Hux gasps and arches against Kylo, coming copiously all over the front of his tunic.

“—knot,” Kylo finishes, even as he tugs Hux down hard on his cock, shivering with it as his knot expands inside Hux.

It prompts a second, weaker orgasm in Hux, who shudders and collapses against Kylo’s chest, his nails catching on Kylo’s tunic and his teeth gnawing at Kylo’s neck.

“Once more for me, baby,” Kylo pleads. He can hardly move once his knot is popped, stuck tight inside his husband. He reaches a hand between them, fingers brushing against Hux’s still-hard cock, and Hux curses, hides his face as his cock leaks more fluid and his hole spasms, and it’s enough to push Kylo over, his cock pulsing as he unloads into Hux.

Hux moans. “One of these days, you’ll split my insides open,” he murmurs.

Kylo brings his hand up, strokes Hux’s hair back from his face. Already, Hux feels less feverish, and Kylo can feel his own fever receding as well. He wraps his arms around Hux, lies back down on the ramp. “Can’t,” he says, softly. “That’s not how biology works.”

“You’re still bigger than any alpha I’ve ever seen.”

“There’s lots of alphas taller than I—”

“Don’t be stupid, Kylo,” Hux says, and he flicks Kylo’s nose. “That’s not what I meant.”

“Oh,” Kylo says, face going hot. “Right.” He hesitates a moment, cock still pulsing slowly inside Hux, and then turns and kisses Hux’s face. “Through the bond, you didn’t…?”

“It’s not the same,” Hux says tetchily. “I know it’s clear for you. It’s—vague, for me. Feels like anxiety—I wasn’t sure you were actually leaving until I got here, thought I was just being—anxious and paranoid, almost turned around in case you were still on the bridge, I just—”

“It’s okay,” Kylo says softly. “You can trust it. You can trust us.”

You can trust me, he thinks, but he doesn’t say it, because he’s sure Hux knows.

*

Now

“I thought you separated the bond years ago,” Hux says flatly. The beach towel is still draped over his legs, and the scent of his heat has diminished except for what Kylo can still smell hanging in the air, the dried flakes of it still on his cock.

“I would die,” Kylo says, hurt. “I still feel it, every single day, I still feel—”

“I don’t,” Hux snaps. “When you started leaving, everything started…fading.”

Kylo takes a shaky breath. “I left because you—didn’t want it. You spread your heats out with the suppressants—first you skipped every second heat, then you skipped two out of three—and I never blamed you for that, how could I, you were fucking miserable most of the time. But I wasn’t on anything.”

Hux brings his hands to his eyes, puts his palms over them, and doesn’t say anything.

“I could feel it,” Kylo says miserably. “And I thought I was making it worse by—by still going into rut.”

Silence.

(If they were both younger, Hux would have been angry-crying by now, and they both know it—but they aren’t teenagers anymore, haven’t been for decades, and Kylo knows that Hux’s face will be just as dry as his own if they dared look at each other.)

“…I liked being wanted,” Hux says, finally. “I was furious every time because I couldn’t do anything about it, but when you’re in rut, you’re always so…”

“…stupid,” Kylo offers. “Clumsy.” He can’t look back at his own correspondence during rut, and over the years, started scaling back out of  it entirely, just because he’s always been less verbal during, more willing to smash things with his fists, and it’s one thing to look like he’s non-verbal when he’s twenty, and another thing entirely when he’s past fifty.

“Powerful,” Hux says softly. He brings his hands to his knees, pressing his knees down so he’s cross-legged on the sand, and looking steadily at a point just over Kylo’s shoulder.

(He still smells like heat, it’s just dampened now.)

“And it kills me to not be able to offer you anything,” Hux continues. “Because my body just—quit.” He looks at Kylo, then, grey-green eyes the saddest Kylo’s ever seen them. “I thought you’d cut the bond off on your end, and I would just…never know the difference on mine, because I never felt your love that strongly through the bond. I felt it when we fucked—but then I couldn’t fuck anymore.”

The weight of Hux’s confession is going to crush Kylo, compress him into the sand. He stretches his right foot out, taps the toe of it against Hux’s.

“I’m so sorry,” Kylo says. “I felt it for you in so many ways—I still feel it for you in those ways, I just—I thought you were done with me, I thought—”

Hux’s eyes narrow. “The fuck am I supposed to be done with you, you great idiot? You’ve been—I fell—I—” He swallows, and then reaches down, wraps his hand around Kylo’s cybernetic foot, strokes the mechanism that flexes Kylo’s foot with his thumb. Takes a deep breath, hesitates. “You remember when we met? That pinched look that was always on my face?”

“I remember,” Kylo says, softly. The longing he’s experiencing right now is threatening to overwhelm him. He can’t feel anything on his cybernetic foot, because he didn’t have it programmed that way—what the fuck did it matter when his husband wouldn’t touch him, he didn’t need to feel anything other than that—but Hux is touching him now, and Kylo can’t feel a goddamn thing, is completely enraptured by the gentleness and delicacy still present in Hux’s hands, even after all these years even though all he has is the visual and the physical sensation is absent.

“I was on so many drugs I couldn’t see straight,” Hux admits. “Snoke was layering them, one on top of the other, trying to keep me compliant. Had to fucking squint all the time just to be able to see you. And then, after he started tapering my doses, it was the goddamn fucking headaches, and the numbness, and I couldn’t feel my body three-quarters of the time—couldn’t even jerk off, nothing worked, and—” He swallows. “—what I’m trying to say is that I loved you even then. I just…thought you deserved better. I’ve always thought…”

“Can I touch you?” Kylo asks. “I’m sorry, I’m still in rut, I’ll move it out of the way, I just—can I hold you, please, Armitage?”

Hux pats the sand next to him, and Kylo shifts, lies down on the sand, presses his face into Hux’s hip, careful to keep his own hips turned toward the sand so that Hux can’t see his persistent erection.

“Give me your arm,” Hux says softly. He reaches over, takes Kylo’s wrist, and slings Kylo’s arm across his pelvis, interlaces their fingers.

“I’ve never looked at anyone else,” Kylo says. “I couldn’t. I don’t want to. I don’t give a fuck if we never have sex again, and I won’t leave if you don’t want me to—I just don’t want to make things worse for you by being here.” He hesitates. “I’ll…I’ll go on suppressants, if you want.”

“I’m not asking that of you,” Hux says darkly. “They fucked me up good.”

“Kept us from whelping anything we didn’t want to,” Kylo offers.

“Small consolation.” He crinkles his nose. “Malnutrition probably made me infertile anyways.”

Kylo kisses his hip, where the towel has slipped and exposed his bare skin, drier now with age, but still just as compelling to Kylo as it always has been. “I’d have been a shite parent,” he says. “I’ve never faulted you for that.”

Hux chuckles. “Well, I won’t fault you for that, either.”

Kylo frowns up at him, and then sees where Hux is looking, face going crimson as he realizes that his dick is still out, and with the way he’s turned, it’s completely exposed. “Fuck, sorry—”

“You said you had a method of dealing with it yourself,” Hux says.

“Yeah.”

“So,” Hux says, voice trailing off.

“Armitage?”

“Get your bag,” Hux says, voice soft. “Hand it over here.”

Thirty-two years ago...

“I don’t have time for this,” Hux snarls. He’s sweating, his red hair plastered back to his head, and his robe stuck to his chest. “He’s trying to fucking make me embarrass myself in front of everybody.”

“It’s alright,” Kylo says. “It’s just a small meeting, there’s only a couple other people—”

“He scheduled it during my heat,” Hux snaps. “He deliberately moved it, knowing damn well that he’d ordered me off my meds, because there’s some goddamn ceremonial fucking bullshit that I’m supposed to attend—”

Kylo blinks at him behind the mask, but doesn’t offer any suggestions. Hux is making it hard for him to focus, anyway—he feels his own suppressants like a warm blanket, weighing him down, but he’d have to have the visual sensors on his mask turned right the fuck off to be able to ignore how attractive Hux looks right now, how long and pale his legs are, how delicate his hands, the fire in his eyes. Kylo swallows, dials the visual sensor down on his mask just slightly, so he can ignore the contrast between Hux’s hair and his skin. He can’t do anything about the length of Hux’s robe, though—every time Hux reaches the end of the room, he spins on his bare foot, starts pacing again, and his robe flares out on the corner.

Kylo can see the curve of Hux’s bare ass underneath the robe. Hux has to be wearing underwear—he’s probably hard, if his heat is coming on this strong, but Kylo can’t see any of it from the front, so Hux has to be wearing something that’s clothed in the front, bare in the back, and Kylo would tug it off Hux with his teeth, lap the slick up from between his ass cheeks with his tongue, even right before the meeting, just so Hux can be comfortable—Kylo wears a mask, nobody would be able to tell, it would just be one of the many times that he’s helped Hux out over the years, and that’s a friendship that Snoke will never be able to break, no matter how much fucking around he does with the schedules, because they’ve got everything down to a science now, they don’t even need to send comms about it—Hux just needs to look at Kylo in that specific way, and Kylo knows he’s needed in Hux’s rooms, and Snoke can’t shut that down, no matter what else he fucks up between them.

Hux reaches the end of his room, spins sharply on his heel again, his sweat-damp foot squeaking on the floor and his robe flaring up again, enough for Kylo to be able to see just slightly underneath the front of it. There’s something metal there, glinting on his cock, and Kylo bites down on his tongue by accident, mask emitting a burst of static audible enough that Hux stops pacing, and stares at him sharply.

“I’ll do it,” Kylo says abruptly. His voice comes out thick, because his tongue is swelling in his mouth. “You have notes, give me your notes. I’ll fuck you with one of your toys before the meeting, I’ll attend on your behalf and give your speech, and then I’ll come right back here after. I’ll take as much time on the speech as you want, but nobody will ask me any questions because they’re all scared shitless of the fucking mask, and I’ll fuck you with another one of your toys right after.” He swallows again. “I can plug you up during the meeting if you want, you can tell me how many times you get yourself off while I’m gone, I’ll show you my cock if you want, if that’d help your heat, I can probably—I can probably get hard even with the suppressants if I eat you out for a while first.”

“Please,” Hux says, running his hand back through his hair again. “You came in your leggings last time, fucking waste of an orgasm if you ask me, you could have—” He swallows hard, covers his eyes with his hands to stop staring at—whatever he was staring at on Kylo’s body. “No,” he says. “No, no, no, no, no, I am not letting Snoke wreck this for me—Starkiller is mine and I’m going to be the one giving the presentation, I’ll give the presentation even if I have to be hooked up to some kind of fucking machine to do it.” His voice has risen in pitch until he’s practically screaming. “Tell Snoke he can fucking hook me up to a goddamn machine, he can’t take this from me, nobody can take this from me—I won’t let them take Starkiller from me, it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s the only thing I’ve ever fucking had—”

“Hey,” Kylo says, standing up and holding his arms out. “Armitage. Hux. Sweetheart. Please, I.” He stops talking, realizes the pet name has slipped out—but Hux looks fucking traumatized, standing there with angry tears in his eyes and his face red and sweat on his upper lip. “You’ve got me. I’m not gonna take anything from you. I’m never gonna take anything from you.”

Hux totters forward, collapses into Kylo’s chest. He’s crying now, crying and ineffectually whacking his fist on Kylo’s chest. “Why me,” he sobs. “Why me, why me—I never wanted this, I never asked for it, I never get any fucking control and it’s not my fault—”

Kylo uses the Force, tugs the helmet from his head so he can bury his bare face in Hux’s hair, hold him close. “I know,” he says softly. “I know, sweetheart. I’m sorry it’s so hard for you. You work so hard and you do so much and I’m so goddamn sorry that this is how it’s going.” He nuzzles into Hux’s sweat-soaked hair. “I see what Snoke’s doing to you,” he offers, after a moment. “He’s trying to throw you off your game. I think he’s scared of you.”

Hux makes an indistinct noise into Kylo’s chest.

“He should be,” Kylo says. “You’re fucking terrifying, Hux. I’d hate to be the one between you and your chosen bond partner. If you ever decide you want one, you’d fucking eat me alive to get me out of the way.”

There’s a pause, and then a small, soft chuckle. “Guess you’d better stay out of my way, then, huh?”

“Just say the word,” Kylo says seriously. “And I will step right the fuck back.”

Hux sighs, relaxes into Kylo’s arms. “Ugh,” he says, after a moment. “I’ve sweat through my robe again.”

Kylo gestures briefly, and then reaches down and scoops Hux up. “Got a cold shower waiting for you.”

“Ugh,” Hux repeats. “Forget about this, would you?”

“Already gone,” Kylo says.

*

Hux’s heat is in full strength by the ceremonial greeting. Kylo can feel it coming off him in waves, and he’s not sure how Hux has been able to stand so still throughout the entire thing, because Kylo has been watching him the entire time, and Hux hasn’t so much as moved. He’s wearing something on his face that’s soaking up the sweat, but Kylo can zoom in through the visual receptors on his mask to see a little tiny bead of sweat working its way down from Hux’s hairline.

(He wishes Hux had let him assist prior to the ceremony—but, instead, they’d drilled Hux’s Starkiller presentation, over and over and over again, until Hux had the entire thing memorized and didn’t need to read off his datapad, just in case his vision went blurry during the speech.)

“And now,” Snoke says. “I’ve gathered you all here—my best alphas, from the entirety of the First Order.”

Kylo’s head snaps over, vision focusing on Snoke before he’s even realized he’s done it, because the fact that they’re alphas doesn’t matter, this is a presentation about Starkiller, the fact that they’re alphas doesn’t matter at all—

“You all know Armitage Hux,” Snoke says, a slow smile creeping across his face. “My best general, and yet, he remains unbonded.”

The sharp impact of Hux’s distress hits Kylo in the chest like a blade.

“Step forward, Armitage,” Snoke says.

“My presentation—”

“I’ll start the bids at—” Snoke begins, and Kylo loses the rest of the sentence, because all he can hear is the roaring in his ears.

He meets Hux’s eyes, and Hux is pale, his eyes wide and pupils dilated.

“This cannot stand,” Kylo calls out across the room—but Snoke neither looks at him nor acknowledges him, is too busy looking at the other alphas in the room who are all jostling shoulders with each other, yelling out bids for Hux, as though Hux is a thing that can be purchased, as though Hux is a thing that can be bought—

Kylo takes a step forward, and the troopers standing next to him put their Force pikes down, blocking him from moving any further. He shoulders them away, but there are more taking their places, and more, and more, and he’s getting pushed further and further back from Hux.

He looks at Hux, and Hux’s face is flat.

“Hux,” Kylo screams.

“Heel,” Snoke commands, and he flicks his wrist, sends Force lightning skittering along the ceiling, aiming for Kylo—

—and Hux steps forward, extends his hand like he can stop it—

—and Hux’s mouth is shut, but Kylo feels the distress coming off him in the Force, help

(Kylo can’t do much, but he can do this.)

He closes his eyes, feeling time slow around him, and the lightning on the ceiling slow and then stop. Turns inward, into his own brain, the places where the suppressants linger, holding him back, dulling his senses, dragging him down—and he eliminates them, every single one of them, follows the pathway of the neurotransmitters and hormones and purges them all out of his body. He uses the Force to recall every single memory he has of Hux, all the times they’ve fucked, the late nights they’ve discussed strategy, the way Hux’s eyes crinkle when he smiles, and Kylo lets all those memories flow through his veins and he pulls all that power into his fingertips, and turns his eyes to the ceiling. Opens his eyes.

me.

The power is crackling through his fingertips. Kylo grins, shrugs off the troopers holding him back, and starts toward the stage at a run.

Nobody stops him.

Nobody can.

*

Now

“I’ve never seen it outside me before,” Hux muses.

“Don’t make fun,” Kylo gasps. His cock is throbbing, his knot seconds from popping, hands wrapped around himself as he strokes his cock, watching Hux’s face carefully so that he can stop the moment Hux looks disapproving or upset.

He doesn’t look either of those things, though. He’s perched on Kylo’s bare thighs, towel over his lap, and hands gently stroking at Kylo’s hips. It’s the most he’s touched Kylo in years, and Kylo could come from this alone.

“This is what you were doing,” Hux murmurs. “All that time in the Silencer.”

“Yes,” Kylo says. He twists one hand on the top of his shaft, kneads the base with the other. He can feel the knot coming, and he’s light-headed with it—and part of him is self-conscious about the amount of time it’s taking, because he’s old now, but the rest of him doesn’t give a fucking shit because Hux is interested, because Hux is doing something with him, because this is like it used to be, when Hux was desperate and Kylo was on suppressants, only it’s the other way around now, but this is exactly what Kylo used to do for Hux—

“Show me,” Hux says, voice low. “Pop your knot for me, I want to see what it looks like in your fist.”

Kylo gasps and arches, shifts both his hands to the base of his cock, interlaces his fingers, stares his husband right in the eyes. When his knot pops, it’s a moment of full-body relief, as all the tension collecting in his spine releases for a moment, gives, and he gets the resulting rush of endorphins—it’s not enough to get him off, because it never is, it’s not like being inside his husband—but fuck, this is the most Hux has touched or looked at him in years, and Kylo is very nearly overwhelmed completely—

“I can see it through your fingers,” Hux says. And then he swallows, looks at Kylo. “Can I touch you?”

“Please,” Kylo begs. “Please, please touch me—can you just—please?”

Hux nods, reaches down and wraps his hands around Kylo’s, squeezes tight to compress Kylo’s knot—and that’s all Kylo needs to push himself over, and he gasps out Hux’s name as his entire body tenses and then releases, his cock spurting onto his chest and up to his chin as his entire body twitches, hips bucking—but Hux has his thighs locked around Kylo’s, and the motion doesn’t throw him off.

“Holy fuck,” Hux breathes.

“Fuuuuuuck,” Kylo agrees. There’s black spots in his vision, and he can feel his heart skipping in his chest for a moment before it settles into the same rhythm as Hux’s, steady and even.

Hux blinks, and Kylo squints at him, realizes that Hux’s eyes are red.

“All these wasted years,” Hux says softly.

“Hey,” Kylo says. “No, fuck, no.” He shoves himself up from the sand, wincing as his back twitches, and then grabs for Hux, overbalancing and pulling Hux down onto him by accident. “Fuck, sorry, sorry, I’m soaked still, I’m sorry—”

Hux chuckles.

Hux chuckles, breathing into Kylo’s chest the way he used to. “It’s fine,” he says softly. His breath hitches for a moment, and his hand reaches out, patting on the sand until he finds Kylo’s hand, intertwines their fingers. Then his face tenses, and he shifts, scowls. “The fuck did you manage to come on your own thighs, I’m soaked.”

“Uh,” Kylo says, realizing the moment the scent of it wafts up toward him. “That’s, uh.”

“Disgusting,” Hux says, frowning.

“It’s you,” Kylo says. “It, uh. It started again.”

Hux sits back on Kylo’s thighs, reaches between his legs. His hand comes back slick, fluid dripping off his fingertips. “It’ll probably just stop,” he says, voice wavering.

Kylo takes a deep breath—and then exhales, doesn’t say anything.

“Can you, uh…” Hux gestures vaguely to Kylo’s cock.

“In a couple minutes, yeah,” Kylo says. His rut is still there, thrumming dully under his skin. “And I have fingers. And a mouth. I can…anything you want, Hux.”

Hux closes his eyes for a moment, closes his fist. His slick is shining on his fingernails. “You still have any of that lube left?” he asks.

Kylo stares at him.

Hux opens his eyes. “I’m not risking a repeat of last time,” he says. “I just…I just want it to be good. The whole time.”

“I’ve got you,” Kylo says, softly. He reaches out his hand, tugs the lube into it. “Lie back on the towel,” he murmurs. “Let me look after you, Armitage.”

Hux’s eyes are scrunched shut again. It’s an expression that looks just as adorable on his face in his sixties as it did when he was twenty.

“I’ve got you,” Kylo says again. He reaches out, rubs at Hux’s bondmark with his thumb while he tugs the lube closer with the Force. “I’ve always got you.”

*

The sun is setting over the black rock desert when Kylo emerges from the tent. His knee screeches as he moves, the motors whirring and seizing as they try to compensate for all the sand. He’s called for the pilot already, and he can see the speeder coming across the horizon to bring them back to the ship. Without looking back at the shelter, Kylo snaps his fingers, sets the entire thing aflame.

“Well, that’s one way to deal with the mess,” Hux drawls from behind him.

Kylo turns to look.

Hux is dripping wet, but this time, it’s from the cool ocean water. All Kylo can smell on him now is salt—his short-lived heat has dissipated completely, and Kylo’s rut has retreated in its wake.

Hux’s hair is wet, and his loose shirt is clinging to his skin, the last remaining dry towel wrapped around his waist.

“Want to borrow some of my clothes?” Kylo asks, finally.

“No,” Hux says. “Still feeling a bit warm—I’ll just head back like this. You summoned the speeder?”

Kylo gestures to the horizon. “They’re on the way.”

“That’s good,” Hux says. He rubs his knuckles against Kylo’s bicep. “You feeling okay?”

“Tired,” Kylo says.

“Yeah,” Hux says. “Me too.” He reaches down, intertwines Kylo’s fingers with his own. “I missed you.”

Kylo sighs, leans his head against his husband’s shoulder. “I missed you too,” he says softly. He shifts his leg, winces.

“Are you okay?” Hux asks.

“Knee’s seized up—I’ll make it, just be slow.”

“I’ll help you walk,” Hux says. “Here, put your arm around my shoulder.”

Kylo turns to look at him, and the rising moon glints off the bondmark bitten into Hux’s neck. He drags his thumb across it.

For the first time in years, Hux shudders in pleasure, and Kylo feels the throb of their connection through the bondmark.

Hux’s eyes are wide.

“Did you feel that?” he asks in a hoarse whisper.

“Yeah,” Kylo says, softly.

Hux puts his hand on his mark, over Kylo’s own. He opens his mouth like he’s going to say something—but it doesn’t matter whether or not the words come.

Kylo can feel his pleasure.

It’s an echo of Kylo’s own.

*

Thirty-two years ago...

There were two hundred and fifty people in the conference room when the doors screeched shut. Two hundred of them were betas, forty nine were alphas, and one was an omega.

When the doors were forced open again, only one omega and one alpha were still alive.

The alpha had a deep bite mark on his neck.

The omega was unharmed.