The candlemaker disappears in the middle of the night, and leaves behind the smell of ashes and the cloying scent of pressed flowers embedded in wax. He goes by the name of Snoke, and from what people remember, his skin is the same color and consistency of the candles he produces and sells in the market stalls, dispensing the smooth uniform cylinders into chapped hands reddened from the cold and the hard work of wresting life from the stubborn earth. But this patch of ground is theirs, all fifty square miles of it, and it’s safe and fenced in from the monsters outside, the ones that drove generations long gone into the safety of walls of rusted bricks and barbed wire. They’ve lived here and died here for so many years that no one remembers what they are supposed to be scared of, only that they should feel fear when the sun starts to set.
At first, no one is worried. There are fifty square miles to comb over, after all, and everyone is sure that he will show up somewhere. Holed up in a back alley tavern, slumped over a stained crystal glass reeking of sharply distilled moonshine. Visiting the pleasure houses illuminated with dim crimson on the outskirts of the city.
“What if he’s gone outside?” Kylo asks his parents one night, by the flickering light of one of their candles from their store. His father, Han, frowns at the thin soup in front of him, but spoons it into his mouth regardless. His mother, Leia, tuts in disapproval as she stirs the broth the ration centers had given out that morning. Kylo stares at the dim liquid, cloudy, a sheen of watery oil glistening on the top, and wonders if maybe Hux from three blocks down has gotten chunks of potato in his, too. “He could have.”
“He could have,” Leia admits after a moment, sighing heavily as she plops her bowl down next to Kylo’s elbow. The roughly hewn bench jostles slightly as she sits down. “But Ben –“
“Kylo.” Kylo interrupts her before she can finish speaking, not even flinching as Han shoots him a glare across the table. It’s growing dark, and the weak light of the guttering candle lodged into a tarnished tin holder in the middle of the table barely illuminates his father’s expression. “I’d rather be called Kylo.”
Leia sighs, presses on. “There’s no reason for him to go outside. There’s nothing for us out there. No food, no shelter. No light.”
Kylo rolls his eyes, spoons up a mouthful of soup. It’s bland, tasteless, the potato dissolving against his tongue the instant it’s in his mouth. Still, the hunger gnaws in the pit of his belly, and before he knows it, his spoon is scraping at the bottom of the bowl with a grating noise and he’s asking Leia if there’s more.
She shakes her head with a small frown, pursing her lips, and Kylo knows not to ask again. The winter has been particularly harsh, snow layering itself in thick drifts across the stone buildings and freezing icy on the porch, and people curl together in the middle of the night for heat. Kylo prefers spending the nights at the tiny apartment Hux shares with his father. Hux is a furnace burning up from the inside out, with flame colored hair, and every time Kylo crawls onto the sagging mattress Hux sleeps on, the stuffing dipping towards the center under his weight, it feels like coming home.
He pushes back from the table now, standing up. His shadow falls across the room, too tall and too dark, and he tries to wave away the thickening claustrophobia he feels.
“Where are you going?” Han asks him gruffly, as Kylo rinses out his bowl with chilly water in the steel sink and sets it to the side to dry; it’ll have a thin film of frost in the morning. “Are you going to see that boy again?”
“It’s Hux,” Kylo says, sighing impatiently. “And yes.”
Han clears his throat, something disparaging on the tip of his tongue, no doubt, but Kylo can hear the sound of Leia swatting at Han’s arm lightly, and whatever Han’s about to say disappears, dissolves into the air. “Fine,” he mutters instead, and Kylo sends a nod their way as he pulls his black threadbare coat off the peg by the front door and spills out into the cold night. The stars and moon glare down at him from the dark blanket of the night, frosty and hard, and Kylo shivers, rubbing his hands together and blowing warm streams of air onto his chilled fingers, rubbing at red, raw knuckles as he hurries the three blocks to Hux’s apartment. His footsteps click on the pavement, the sharp noises echoing off the corners of buildings and through deserted streets, and from the corners of his eyes, Kylo can see ragged curtains twitching aside in curiosity, wondering who might be out at this hour. But he knows his way to Hux’s by heart, and his steps lead him there quickly.
Hux opens the door at the first knock, looking thoroughly unsurprised to find Kylo shivering on his doorstep. He reaches out, grabbing a fistful of Kylo’s pilled sweater, pulling him in. His father is already snoring deeply, a roaring motor, on the sagging couch in the living room, and they tiptoe quietly past him into Hux’s bedroom, where Hux closes the door with a soft, firm click before turning to Kylo and dragging him down for a kiss that sends the inferno racing straight to the pit of Kylo’s belly.
Kylo’s grateful for the warmth Hux’s fingers provide, working the opalescent buttons on his jacket through their slots and pushing the fabric off Kylo’s shoulders. It’s dark in Hux’s room, nearly the color of pitch, but they know their ways around each other’s bodies far too well, and once his fingers have some feeling back in them, Kylo reaches beneath the hem of Hux’s sweater. Chilly palms against fiery skin, and Hux sucks in a breath through clenched teeth as he fists his fingers against the roots of Kylo’s dark hair and pulls him into a kiss that’s more of a brutal claiming than anything else. Hux tastes nothing like the thin watery soup served out at rations today, and Kylo licks his way into Hux’s mouth as much as Hux will let him, rubbing circles into the smooth skin of Hux’s abdomen and tracing the ridges of his ribs with the pads of his fingers. Hux moans gritty into Kylo’s mouth, and the heat and lust arrows straight into the pit of his belly as one of Hux’s hands works its way underneath Kylo’s shirt and sweater, burning a path up to his racing pulse. Hux’s fingers pinch at one nipple, rolling it stiff and pebbled and prickling with sensitivity, and the desperation swamps him.
Kylo wriggles away from Hux’s grasp, gasping, his mouth wet and swollen as he begins to tug his clothes off frantically. He pulls his shirt and sweater over his head, dropping them in an unceremonious puddle of fabric to the side of Hux’s door, his hands darting to the front of his pants to palm at himself frantically as his fingers, clumsy with hopeless arousal, try to work at the button and zip. The rustle of clothes and heavy breathing tell him that Hux is doing the same thing, mere feet away from him, and Kylo wonders if he’ll be able to convince the other man to do it all over again when the first faint milky dredges of morning come spilling through the windows again. It’s been so long since he’s seen the creamy planes of Hux’s skin in the light of day.
“Bed,” Hux breathes, frantic, urgent, and Kylo makes his way blindly to the sagging mattress on the floor. Its springs creak wildly beneath him as he sits down, working his way out of his pants and boxers and tossing them over to another corner of the room where they land with a soft whump. Hux’s hand seeks him out, patting blindly at his hair, trailing down his face tentatively, a lover’s caress planted across the swell of his lower lip with the pad of Hux’s thumb. Getting bearings.
Hux’s mouth comes down on his cheek first, searching for his mouth, and Kylo helps him, tilting his face so Hux’s lips are sealed on his again. Kylo groans into the kiss as Hux’s other hand comes up to cradle his head, almost tender.
They break apart, heated exhalations and heavy breaths, their foreheads pressed together and eyes wide open as though they can see. Kylo can feel the intensity of Hux’s stare, and he can only imagine the weight of heated blue on him.
“I missed you,” Hux mutters, his voice raspy, undone, and Kylo swallows roughly. Now isn’t the time for smart quips or sassy retorts. He hasn’t seen Hux in almost a week, some silly dispute whose subject he can no longer remember now, it’s so far gone.
“I did, too,” he whispers back, and he wonders if Hux admits this now only because Kylo can’t see his expression. “Hux, I –“ His next words are shushed, Hux’s index finger pressed against his lips. Hux’s father grunts in the next room, his snores cutting off, and Kylo holds his breath, praying that the older man isn’t awake and isn’t heading to Hux’s room at this very moment. His pulse settles, slowly, slowly, as his snores resume, heavy and deep.
Hux breathes out a sigh of relief before nudging Kylo back onto the bed, onto the worn cotton sheets, the springs groaning in protest as Hux clambers over him. Kylo accepts his kisses once again, their bodies fitting neatly against each other as they always have, and he moans breathy as the heat and weight of Hux’s cock nudges against the swell of his hip. Hux reaches into the tight space between them to wrap his fingers around Kylo’s burgeoning flesh, stroking it with practiced rhythm until Kylo is hard and squirming beneath him, flushed with sensitivity.
“Hux, please,” Kylo begs, laying kisses and bites on every inch of skin that he can get to. Hux returns them in kind, rough sharp nips to the slender column of Kylo’s neck, his shoulder, dipping down to suck and bite his nipples into rosy hardness as Kylo’s hands tug Hux’s hair into disarray. “Hux, please.” He places emphasis heavy on the entreaties, hoping it’ll encourage Hux to fuck him sooner rather than later; it’s been a long week, shivering on his mattress back home and pressing lonely fingers into himself that aren’t nearly enough. It’s never enough, not without Hux’s fire to stoke sparks in him.
“Patience,” Hux whispers, his words damp against Kylo’s heated skin, but Kylo can hear the urgency in Hux’s voice, and he grins almost deliriously as the mattress shifts beneath him, Hux reaching out to the nightstand to root around for the bottle of oil in the drawer. The drawer slides open with a rasp, Hux’s fingers scrabbling around the wooden bottom, and Kylo waits impatiently, propping himself up on his elbows to lave Hux’s chest with kisses. Hux’s breath chokes in his throat, the scrabbling stops for a brief moment, and Hux lets out a soft wanton sigh as Kylo catches one of Hux’s nipples in his mouth, sucking and nipping. One of his hands comes up to trace at the slender curve of Hux’s back, stroking appreciatively, and Hux allows it for the few moments it takes him to find the oil, pulling it triumphantly out of the drawer and leaning forward to give Kylo a peck on the mouth that’s there and gone too quickly for Kylo to register. The cap on the vial pops open, a sharp sound like a gunshot in the quiet of the night, the sound of Hux’s fingers slicking up bringing a wave of heat to Kylo’s cheeks in anticipation.
He tilts his hips up into Hux’s touch as Hux pushes at the inside of his thighs with his unsullied hand, spreading them sweet and easy in surrender. Fingers paint at his entrance, massaging the muscle until it blossoms to the touch, and Kylo sucks in a breath as Hux starts to nudge a finger into him, the motions smooth and steady and so seamless Kylo barely feels the stretch. A second finger follows quickly; Kylo’s been making the most of his time alone, but there’s something so much more erotic, something so much more satisfying when Hux is the one filling him.
Hux’s fingers crook inside him, massaging tentative around him, finding the firm nub of his prostate and rubbing. Kylo’s cock twitches between his thighs, and he bites at the inside of his cheek to keep himself from crying out, the jolt of pleasure sudden and unexpected and intense. His fingers fist in the sheets, and he clutches greedily around Hux’s fingers.
Hux chuckles, the sound settling into the shells of Kylo’s ears like the echoes of an ocean he has never heard, and he presses a third finger into Kylo’s accepting body, stretching him in preparation. His fingertips curl into Kylo’s prostate, sending white jolts of pleasure dancing like phosphenes behind Kylo’s tightly closed eyelids, and his breaths come in huffs and pants and choked off whimpers until he has to reach down and grab at Hux’s wrist to make him stop.
The fingers pause. Confused.
“Too close,” Kylo gasps, trying futilely to take deep breaths to calm his racing pulse. “Wait a bit.”
But Hux is beyond waiting, so it seems, and he works his fingers out of Kylo, popping open the oil again. The wet sounds of his hand working at his cock, coating it slick and smooth, and Kylo takes advantage of the dark and Hux’s preoccupation to reach down and stroke at his cock. It leaks across the pad of his thumb when he swipes the digit over the weeping head, his fingers wrapping around silky skin as he gives himself a few generous pumps that have him sighing in pleasure and rutting up into the curve of his palm.
“No touching,” Hux hisses, slapping at Kylo’s forearm. Kylo pulls away, reluctantly, with a soft pout. The fire is in his blood now, itching with anticipation, drawing a tight knot in the pit of his belly, and he can hardly wait, twitching with eager impatience as Hux reaches down to cup the swell of his hip with slick fingers, hooking one of Kylo’s thighs around his waist.
The head of Hux’s cock breaches him, nudging into him inch by inch, and Kylo claps a hand over his mouth to stifle the sob spilling out of his throat as Hux settles heated weight into him, hips flush against the curve of his ass. He claws desperately at the sheets, at the curve of Hux’s hip, begging Hux for something, anything, in a hushed choked voice that he hardly recognizes as his own.
Hux’s movements are steady, smooth strokes that drive Kylo wild with every thrust that sends the head of Hux’s cock nudging against his prostate.
“Kiss me,” he whispers, sobs, the hand curled in the sheets coming up to pinch and twist at his own nipples. The little jolts of pain crawl into his bloodstream, infectious, and his cock bobs hard and untouched, pressing against the firm planes of Hux’s abdomen as Hux leans forward to fill Kylo’s request. These kisses are rough, teeth and tongue and sloppy, and Kylo is hard pressed to keep from screaming as Hux reaches between them to wrap his fingers around Kylo’s cock. The points of Hux’s incisors pinch at Kylo’s mouth, biting rough and intoxicating, and before Kylo can push him away for air, he’s coming between them with a shout that Hux catches easily in his mouth, swallowing the sound as slick wetness spreads sticky over their skin. The pulses and clenches of Kylo’s orgasm rip Hux’s from him, strong and sharp, and Kylo breathes shakily past the aftershocks as he revels delirious in the feeling of Hux’s cock twitching heavy inside him.
Hux collapses on top of him, the weight and sticky heat more than welcome, and Kylo threads his fingers through Hux’s hair with a soft sigh. He swears he can see his breath steam out of his mouth in silver streams. Hux reaches behind him, lazy slow movements like his cock slipping out of Kylo, dragging the thick layer of blankets up over the two of them.
“Do you think the candlemaker will come back?” Kylo asks, his eyelids growing heavy already. He wants Hux to light the candle stub he knows Hux has on his nightstand, wants to see the flush on Hux’s skin and the bitten swell of his mouth. Hux grunts something into his chest, an affirmative, maybe. A negative, probably. “Do you think he went outside?”
Hux sighs, nestling into the curve of Kylo’s body. “Does it matter?” he asks, his syllables long and languid. “Don’t worry about it. He’ll turn up soon. No one stays outside for long unless they’re dead.”
Kylo’s heart skips a beat at that. “You think he’s outside?” he asks, breathless.
“Well, he’s not in here, is he?” Hux mumbles. “Go to sleep already, Kylo. We’ll worry about the candlemaker another time.”
Kylo hooks his wrists together lightly around the dip of the small of Hux’s back, smooth skin against his palms, and does as Hux commands.