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Mint and Rosemary

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     Hux took a moment to let his breathing return to regular and his joints to stop feeling so jellified. He had a few moments before the blissful haze would leave him and he was going to spend them right where he was, straddling one Kylo Ren, seated on Kylo. In a moment he would be disgusted with their sweaty bodies and the smell of sex, but for now he enjoyed the sight of the body on the floor, chest heaving and eyes closed.

     Ren’s hands were still above his head where Hux had left them. Bruises may start to form. Hux hadn’t really been paying attention to how hard he gripped Ren’s arms, but he thought there was a good chance.

     Hux got an animal sort of thrill out of marking Ren, who was so often marked by others. He’d come back to the ship battered and bruised by some resistance thug, and then the bacta tank would spit him out so he could leave to Snoke’s next target. Hux’s bruises were different; in between the bacta tank and the next mission, Kylo Ren was on Hux’s domain, and he wanted to tear Ren apart just like the fighting did. Watching Ren wear himself out on Snoke’s leash, waiting for him to return to Hux and not interfering, was an aching test of self-control.  Ren elicited the same feeling in Hux as taking a piece of fruit in his mouth and not biting down.

      Ren certainly looked undone after Hux finished with him. His eyes opened as Hux unseated himself with a slight wince. Hux spent a few seconds just looking at Ren until Ren was ready to get up. He gazed up at Hux until he came back into himself enough to feel self-conscious under the scrutiny.

     A flush creeped up from his chest and he sat up. Hux knew his ears, though hidden now, would have pinked too, and he tucked the idea of Ren blushing away in his mind for later perusal.

     “Come into the refresher. You’re filthy.”

     Ren took a slow moment to answer. Ren got like this sometimes, after a mission and after sex, and Hux was loath to snap him out of the soft place he went in his head.

     “And whose fault is that?” The unexpected use of telepathy made Hux twitch, and Ren smirked. He rolled up to standing and followed Hux into the refresher.

 

     Ren stood silently under the water, letting it run over his chest and wash away the evidence of their liaison. When he turned around to warm his back, his eyes were closed to Hux and small droplets were catching on his yet dry hair. Hux imagined he might compare it to dew drops caught on a black web, if he had ever seen a natural web in real life. When he leans back to wet his hair the water travels down his face like tears.

     Hux kept an arsenal of bottles in his shower and grabbed one at random now. Ren had finally opened his eyes when Hux moved on to a conditioner. He selected something now that had fallen over at the back of the caddy and held it up for Hux to see. Curl enhancing, Hux read, and then a cartoonish image of himself with a riot of fiery orange curls superimposed itself over Hux’s vision.

     He gave an undignified snort and then schooled his features into the most disapproving look he could muster. He could see the corner of Ren’s mouth pull up. The offending bottle was replaced and another- shine saving- was held out. Hux was prepared this time for the impression of himself with long hair, flipping it coyly away over his shoulder.

     There was a time when Hux would have been irritated, angry even, at Ren’s antics and his use of the force of Hux. Here, though, they were bared to each other. Hux knew Kylo Ren, or at least enough of him to allow himself to chuckle.

     “Just choose one, Kylo.” Hux’s voice was nearly drowned out by the water.

     Kylo look at him and shook his head. Hux got the image- no, the impression, the idea- of Hux washing Ren’s hair. You can choose.

     Hux wasn’t completely comfortable with the force, and he didn’t pretend to understand it, but Ren was always amused when he informed Hux he was unintentionally projecting. If Hux were to guess, he would say Ren favored this more intimate form of communication. Hux enjoyed all displays of Ren’s abilities, certainly, even if he favored them used on other people. Either way, this wouldn’t be the first irrational he’d done because of Ren.

     The first bottle Hux grabbed was a warm synthetic smell. Hux tried to send the impression of it to Ren- fresh and safe, like tearing open the plastic packaging on a new uniform, the air freshener in his childhood lodgings- and Ren quirked his head to the side. His nose twitched slightly and he turned a sly eye towards Hux.

     Very clever Ren replied, and handed another to Hux. There was a cliché forest scene on the bottle, and Ren’s nose curled up comically when Hux projected it. Ren sent back a real forest, sharp pine needles broken to release a sharp scent, he could hear a river flowing nearby, could almost taste the plants crushed underfoot. Hux reeled with the vividness of the memory and set a hand on Ren’s shoulder to steady himself.

     He grabbed the shampoo he had used- mint and rosemary- and Ren had already turned around and tilted his head. I know that smell already, he projected.

     They were both silent then as Hux worked the soap through Ren’s hair. Hux got a possessive thrill at the idea of Ren smelling like him. He enjoyed the ritual of bathing with Ren now that he didn’t run back to his rooms in the evenings, and every time the intimacy of it struck him.

     Ren’s eyes were closed now. He rocked with the pull of Hux’s hands through his hair and drifted. There was just the sound of running water, and when it was turned off he started.

     They dried off in silence until Ren spoke. “I had thought you would only project by accident.” It was fascinating, how different he sounded without a voice modulator. “I can teach you more, if you want.” Hux knew the words unspoken, that Ren probably thought he was uneasy interacting with something he didn’t understand. Hux certainly hadn’t wanted Ren in his head when they met, but Ren and his ‘magic’ didn’t scare him now.

     He was tired though, too tired to fight through an awkward conversation about their feelings, where they said one thing and meant another, pushing and pulling like thickskulled magnets. Tomorrow he would learn how to project words, tonight they would lie down and Ren would smell like mint and rosemary and sleep like the dead.

     He was master of the force, Hux thought drowsily. Master of projecting, master of the force, master of Kylo Ren. Later he would ponder the implications of being able to communicate silently and immediately with Ren. Later he would say the words “I am stronger with Kylo Ren” to a mirror and contemplate Kylo Ren being his hand, not Snoke’s.

     They made their way back to the bedroom and Hux veritably collapsed onto the bed. Ren curled around his slighter frame. When he breathed in, his stomach maked contact with Hux’s back. Ren hooked an ankle around Hux’s leg, and sent a wave of disgruntlement about Hux’s perpetually icy feet.

     Ren was warm as usual, his hand on Hux’s chest burned pleasantly. Hux imagined Ren had an engine in his chest, powering Ren and giving off heat. The image changed to that of Ren’s cracked kyber crystal there, replacing his heart and scorching him.

     Hux tried to relax and sink into the sheets. His mind felt heavy with drowsiness and the satisfying ache that comes from using a new muscle. He could feel Kylo there, and it was like someone carding fingers though hair. The hands were graceless but careful, like a child holding something fragile.


   Hux is in the living room of the house he grew up in. He sits in a chair. His mother stands behind him and runs her fingers through his hair. She has just told him about the flowers his father had gotten her in celebration of something. Look at them there on the living room table.

     Hux can see the vase of flowers. Against the grey backdrop, the white and red roses are almost painfully vivid. Hux’s eyes slide to them like water pooling in a lake. It is the first time he has seen a rose in real life.

     His mother is setting the rose in his hands. Its weight surprises him. It is cool in his hands, but growing warmer. He is afraid of damaging its silky petals and holds it with reverence.

     “It smells like roses!” he says and then feels himself flush at the stupidity of that statement. “Like rose scented things I mean.” His flush is burning him but it doesn’t hurt. He hides his face in the rose.

     His mother laughs beautifully. “You haven’t seen a rose before, have you Brendol?” she asks.

     Kylo Ren is there, grinning. He is as young as Hux, with a tooth missing and his too big ears.

     “Let Ben smell the rose, Brendol” his mother says, and Hux dutifully hands it over. Ben Solo has surely seen a rose before, Hux thinks. He takes it with his clumsy hands and strokes the petals reverently. He is smiling at Hux as he smells the rose.