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The smell is abominable, and Hux nearly chokes on it. The rich copper of blood, and something else, something fleshier, and the by-now familiar scent of cooked meat.

He steps forward, eyes narrowing in the dark—he can hardly see anything besides Ren’s face by the red glow of his lightsaber, and says, flatly, “I don’t know why, but I’m not surprised.”

He takes another step forward, and something squelches under his boot. It takes all of his self-control not to look down, because it has to be more of the thick, bloody paste that’s spattered all over the vast room.

Ren sways on his feet and laughs. He’s grinning like a maniac, viscera and burnt flesh all over him, eyes too-bright even in this dark. His helmet lies abandoned in the muck.

The throne, lit only by the saber, is empty, aside from the blood.

 


 

 

He awoke to Ren slipping into his bed.

He knew it was Ren because:

  1. There was no other being who would bypass all of Hux’s codes and security measures just to crawl under his covers and curl around him like a very tall, lanky cat
  2. Hux was quite sure that Ren is the only person on board who has the Force, and that was definitely the Force that is causing the hapless Stormtroopers that had been passing by on patrol to float miserably in the air just outside his door
  3. Ren never fucking closed the goddamn door, after fucking disabling it, and
  4. There could not possibly be another being in the galaxy with feet this fucking cold

Hux sighed and glowered at Ren, as well as he could with the man curled into him, face pressed into Hux’s neck. He breathed in deeply, and nearly inhaled an errant curl.

(And, he lamented, internally, the bastard had even somehow stolen the blanket without Hux noticing.)

“Kylo,” he hissed, “The door.”

Ren shifted and turned his face to Hux, and blinked slowly. “What door?”

Hux looked at the door. Or, more accurately, at the empty space where the door should have been, and the charred metal remains of his door. And the hapless Stormtroopers floating around in a way that was almost resigned.

“Let them down,” he said, sharply, “you’re impeding them from carrying out their duties.”

Ren grunted and burrowed his cold nose deeper into Hux’s neck, waving his arm lazily. The two Troopers collapsed in an ungainly heap and scrambled to their feet. Hux leveled a cold look at them, as dignified as he could be with a half-naked would-be Sith all over him, and said, “Don’t let anyone else pass by.”

They saluted and made their escape.

Hux settled his head back onto the pillow and closed his eyes. Kylo was like a furnace, like always, an ever-present warmth that seeped through Hux’s skin and settled deep into his bones. They lay there in silence, arms wound around one another in what may have been contentment.

 

(This is the thing: Brendol may be frozen steel and Kylo may be the sort of cold that burns, but they have found something that is uneasily close to peace.

They did not start out sweet—this began in sharp words and rage under cold masks, and progressed to taking each other apart in dark corners, all teeth and blood and cruelty.

That somehow became this—they did not lose the sharp edges and intensity that built who they are, but it became an invariable fact that Brendol Hux and Kylo Ren would die for one another. Oh, they still tried to kill each other on a daily basis but—

But Hux was once loyal to none but the Order and himself. There was nothing else—only the Order, only what he could do to service it, only what he could do to make himself better.

But now, Brendol Hux can say without hesitation that he would burn galaxies for this man.)

 

(Even if his feet are cold.)

The peace lasted a few minutes before Hux’s half-asleep mind could come to this:

“…aren’t you meant to be training with Snoke?”

“I finished my training.” What?

“Just like that?” Hux said, incredulous, “it’s only been a month.”

“Mm,” Ren mumbled into his neck, “He says he has a mission for me. Very important. Even gave me a night with you until I am to set off.”

Hux frowned. This…did not bode well.                          

 


 

 

The Supreme Leader called Ren away the next morning.

They hadn’t fucked—only curled around one another in that strange, soft contentment again. It made Hux uneasy, because—

Because Ren kept looking at him. They did not speak, and when Hux asked him what he thought the mission would be, he only got a shrug and a nervous glance to a side. He looked at him with wide eyes, conflicted and unguarded.

(“I can see why you wear a mask,” Hux would whisper, because Kylo Ren’s face has every emotion scrawled across for the world to see, and he looks sweet and young without it.)

(“…yeah,” Ren muttered in response once, “My ears are pretty big, aren’t they?”

“…you are ridiculous.”)

But, of course, Hux didn’t know what he was conflicted about. And he did not ask, only lay on the rumpled sheets with him, until he was called away.

“I’ll be back,” Ren murmured, against his lips, “soon.” It sounded oddly heavy, like a vow.

Hux caught him with a hand on the back of his neck before he pulled away, and said, slowly, “You need me, just call.”

(I will come running, he did not say, I will desecrate anything in my path and I will come to you and find you and keep you safe, you utterly ridiculous man. I know you’re about to do something really fucking stupid, you have that look on your face, but I will come when you call if it kills me and I will clean up your goddamn mess and I swear I’ll lock you in a room and make sure you never get out because your dumb ass should not be let loose on the world.)

Kylo nodded, he probably picked up on that with the Force, and left.

 


 

Hux spent the day very carefully not panicking.

He did not panic when the mental link, the heavy-warmth presence that hummed in the back of his mind, when horribly, jarringly silent.

He did not panic when the link did not come back.

And he did not panic when, that afternoon, Captain Phasma enters his office.

He was knee-deep in paperwork and he couldn’t focus on anything, the normally organized table somewhat in disarray. An (incredibly stupid) observer might even note that his hair was rumpled. (That observer would, of course, be in danger of being shot.)

“Captain,” he said in surprise, straightening. It was very unlike her to simply barge in that was Kylo’s job. When she simply stood at the doorway, he motioned for her to come in.

She did not move.

“General,” she said, and he may not have been able to see her face, but he fancied that she was actually nervous. He’s never seen Captain Phasma nervous. “I, ah. I have some—”

He raised an eyebrow.

“Is this room under surveillance?” she asked, abruptly.

“…yes?”

She sighed, and Hux is becoming increasingly alarmed. “It can’t matter now," she muttered to herself, and cleared her throat. "Alright, General, I have good news and bad news.”

“Um—”

“The good news is, Kylo isn’t dead, so we don’t have to kill anyone,” she says, quickly, and Hux feels a measure of relief.

But?”

“But the bad news is…” Phasma paused, and shifted again. “Look, how opposed are you to high treason?”

“Oh no,” said Hux, voice utterly inflectionless, “what did Kylo do?

 


 

Ren stumbles forward and slumps against Hux, who steadies him.

“My—My hand slipped,” Ren mutters, and giggles.

Phasma, from behind Hux, makes an amused noise and says, flatly, “And made him explode?

“After I stabbed him a bit,” Ren adds, gripping Hux’s coat with shaking hands and looking at him with those wide, vulnerable eyes.

Hux blinks. “Hold on, I just got here,” he says mildly. “Why don’t you tell me what actually happened?

 


 

 

“He makes you weak,” said the voice of his Master, and Kylo went very, very cold. “You need to cut off these attachments, in order to make yourself stronger.”

Kylo was not very surprised, but the words still chilled him to the bone. “The General,” he said weakly, “is loyal to the First Order, and an invaluable asset.”

Replaceable,” said Snoke, low and vaguely amused, from his high throne.

No, said his mind, very calmly. No, you are.

 


 

 “He called you replaceable,” says Kylo, “I disabused him of that notion.”

“Repeatedly,” says Phasma, “With your lightsaber, and then the Force.”

Hux tightens his hold on Ren, and thinks, ah. It’s good to know his galaxy-destroying protectiveness is reciprocated, he thinks, faintly.

“…am I standing in Snoke’s remains?”

“Yes,” says Kylo, and kisses him.

 

 

“What now?” asks Phasma, after the two of them spend three minutes or so eating each other’s faces off. “Does the Order just—collapse?”

(It’s disgusting to watch. This sex business is entirely baffling to her.)

Ren pulls a disdainful face, and says, “Please. The entire point of this exercise is to prove that Snoke was replaceable.”

Hux hums. “He doesn’t embody the Order,” he says, stroking Ren’s face with a reverence that’s equal parts amusing and nauseating. “We just need another Leader.”

Both Phasma and Ren look at Hux. Well, Ren was already looking at Hux, but the look is now contemplative, rather than sappy.

Hux stops his stroking and his face goes blank. “Oh no,” he says.

“Come on,” says Phasma, “it’s not like I’ll do it, and I actually shudder to imagine Ren in a position of supreme power.”

“I would be very offended by that,” says Ren, “if that weren’t true.”

“No,” says Hux again. “This is not—no!”

They largely ignore his sputtering. Let him come to terms with it, Phasma thinks.

“So we all agree that we’re hiding Ren’s shameful crime of passion by covering it up as a pre-meditated coup?”

“I’m very close to being offended, Phasma.”

Hux sighs in resignation. There seems to be no choice, then.

 


 

 

(And that’s how he became Emperor of the First Order.)

(His life is a fucking joke.)

(and apparently being fucking emperor does not stop him from having his fucking sheets stolen every goddamn night with feet as cold as a tundra wrapped around his ankles, fucking hell)