“I want to die,” says Ren in his typical overdramatic probably-too-old-to-still-be-goth way.
Hux, contrary to his no-nonsense probably-ironed-his-own-onesie manner agrees. “Yes, Ren. We both want to die.”
There should never be a reality shared by the two men who are now shaking hands, yet here it is and no universe-ending sci-fi-esque vortex forms at the union of two diametrically opposed hands. This first meeting of Lieutenant Colonel Brendol Hux and Han Solo should be marked by ominous brass instruments, not the inoffensive organ music coming out of the graduation hall, and a smoke machine, maybe with lasers.
“You know, you look a lot like your son,” says Han, pleasantly. He looks over at Armitage Hux and points to the red peeking out beneath the square blue cap. “Not just the red hair either.”
“Thank you.” The compliment is pointedly unreciprocated, as Ren looks more like the milkman’s than he does Han’s son. He offers his hand to Leia next, inclining his head greatly for her small height. “And it’s nice to meet you too, Leia.”
“And you,” she gushes artificially. Ren hates when she goes into what he calls ‘diplomat mode.’ “I was beginning to think Ben would never let us meet.”
Hux hears Ren growl at the name and it makes him smile. If he’s going to have to go by Armitage this whole day, then Ren can sure as hell suck it up for the much less dreadful “Ben.”
“He likes to keep us a secret for some reason,” says Han. “I think he’d be happier to have just been hatched from an egg.”
Han laughs. “Come to think about it, I’m not sure he didn’t!”
“I have it on good authority he didn’t,” says Leia with a ‘please shut up’ pat on his arm. “Was the drive okay?”
Parental pleasantries, one more reason to add to the mountain of why Hux will not be having children. Modern social and technological progress keeps trying to chip away at the foundational boulder of the mountain - that he doesn’t have sex with women.
Ren whispers to him, “How long do we stand here?”
“However long it takes,” he whispers back.
“They don’t even know we’re here.”
“Ren, we are not vanishing from our own graduation.”
“I’ll let you put me in women’s lingerie and whip me,” offers Ren.
Really, Hux isn’t sure where he gets these ideas. As if the two of them don’t have the world’s most vanilla sex, most of it quickies between classes and homework, 90% of the time. “I don’t need your permission to whip you and what in God’s name makes you think I’d want you to dress in lingerie?”
Han laughs boisterously at his own joke, one that makes Brendol look uncomfortable and Leia shakes her head.
“If I’d have known that getting my degree would end up in this, I wouldn’t have done it,” says Ren miserably.
Hux can’t disagree.
“Well, it may not be my favorite decision Armitage has ever made, but he was never going to be a hit with the ladies anyway,” says Brendol.
Neither boy heard whatever led to that stellar observation, but Ren says very softly, “ouch.” He looks at Hux with concern. Hux could tell Ren that he’s used to his father, that if you have a hundred bee stings, one more isn’t going to matter, but he doesn’t.
Han answers with a nod. “You could have knocked me over with a feather when it turned out that Ben didn’t want to chase any girls. I mean, I know that sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree, but I didn’t think it would go all the way down the hill.”
“Now you’re tarnished fruit,” whispers Hux.
“Shut up, Ladies Man.”
“I know exactly what you mean. We could probably stand around all day trying to muddle that one out. I actually had Armitage’s parentage checked, just to be on the safe side. You never can be too sure with waitresses.” There are things that Brendol believes should be kept private, things like love, illness, job layoffs, things that show (in his eyes) weakness. The story of how he’d thought that Hux couldn’t be his because he was so weak and frail and his mother was just such a waitress of ill-repute, whatever that random bias was, was a story for all that would listen. “But, I guess with the full head of red hair, I should have just figured she was telling the truth. He was born with that, all that hair.”
Han laughs. “Ben was bald for his first year. I was beginning to think he was going to look like an old geezer his whole life, just some hermit living alone in a swamp somewhere.” That was oddly specific of a concern, thinks Hux looking at his boyfriend oddly. Ren shrugs. “Anyway, I sure am proud of him, though, for sticking with it. I mean, I’m lucky I made it through high school.”
“He got that from me,” says Leia who had been seemingly standing in shocked silence as both of the men bemoaned their gay sons. She’ll probably yell at Han for it later in private when she’s had a chance to recover from having a stranger tell her about DNA testing his illegitimate son. “Is your family very educated?”
“Our dads suck,” says Ren quietly.
“Your mom’s not bad.”
“She’s… okay. Bad temper though.”
“You’re judging her temper?” asks Hux, earning the elbow to the side. The satiny robe makes a swish sound as it blocks the bonier part of Ren’s arm. “Is she also where you got your violent streak?
“You bring that out in me, darling,” he grits.
“Well, I want to get pictures of you two out here. It’s such a lovely day!” Leia approaches them with a camera in hand. Hux wasn’t aware that people still bought cameras.
“Mom, you didn’t get enough inside?” Ren whines.
They pose for her, under a tree and sitting on a bench and in front of a flowering bush. Leia tells them to “hold hands” which Hux is never going to do in a million years, not in public, and not with his father there. Instead, they keep their shoulders pressed tight to each other, becoming a solid support structure.
Their dads watch the photoshoot but keep talking to each other, far enough away that their words can’t be made out. The horror of that combines amazingly well with the humiliation of posing for Leia’s pictures. Hux intends to block this day out in his memory.
“I think you’ve got enough, Leia! He’s a graduate, not a GQ model!” yells Han.
She wipes away a tear. “It just came too fast, Ben,” she says.
“Mom…” Ren groans, but goes to her, wraps his long arms around her squat, round frame. “Don’t get all… mushy.”
Hux can’t help the way it warms his heart to see his grumpy anti-parent boyfriend hug his mommy. He’s jealous, of course, wishes that he had a doting mother that could embarrass him, but that feeling is nothing compared to seeing this glimpse into how Ren really feels about his mother, down deep.
“Waterworks, huh?” asks Han, moving in to hug his wife. Ren is happy to let his dad take over. “She cried during the ceremony too,” he rats.
She slaps at his chest. “Oh, I did not.”
“So, we taking two cars to get to the taqueria?” Han asks, looking between the boys and Brendol. “Each pain in the ass son with each dad?” He says it with a friendly smile.
This day isn’t even about them, essentially, and as neither had paid for their schooling, both had decided to suck it up for one last day of obedience. So, they share a look of committed sacrifice before agreeing.
“Man that guy is a tight ass. I hope your Hux isn’t as serious as his dad.”
Ren thinks about the times that Hux has thrown him, Phasma, and Mitaka out for being too loud while he’s studying and the food in their tiny refrigerator with labels, actual labelmaker-printed labels, dating when they’d been cooked or opened. “No, Dad, he’s fine,” he lies.
“I hate it when a grown adult acts like a child. Your boyfriend had better not act like a child.”
Hux considers the microwave they’d had to replace when Ren got it into his head to try nuking a brick covered in peanut butter because an article on the internet had told him that was how to make gold and the time he’d absconded with Hux while he’d been sleeping, just pitched him over his shoulder as though he was light as a feather, to show him a gorgeous post-wildfire sunrise. “Ren is a perfectly reasonable and mature human being,” he lies.