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A Study in Semantics

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Don’t forget to introduce yourself to the neighbours!

Kylo groans. He’s been living in his new place for half a week, and his mother texts him for updates everyday. And, without fail, she tells him to go talk to his new neighbours, introduce himself. She’s been insistent about it, talking about things like community and how it’s handy in case of emergencies and make some goddamned friends, Benny.

Kylo doesn’t want to introduce himself to his neighbours. It’s weird. He doesn’t know them, and he’s just going to… knock on their door? People don’t actually do that, do they? His mother insists that people do and, worse, she’s insisting that he do it, too. Kylo knows he doesn’t have to listen to her - one of the perks of no longer living at home - but he knows he’ll never hear the end of it if he doesn’t.

So before midday on his first Saturday living on his own, Kylo introduces himself to the old lady living in the house to his left. Ms. Kanata, ‘call me Maz, dear’, keeps him there for an hour. An hour . Kylo tries to keep track of the conversation, but fails miserably after five minutes, and just nods along.

It’s very tempting to just go home after that, and stay far, far away from his likely equally elderly, and talkative, neighbour on the other side. From all his neighbours, forever. Instead, he lopes up the short set of stairs, and onto the porch of the house on his right. He knocks, half hoping that no one will answer.

Instead, the door swings open and Kylo feels his mouth go dry. The man’s almost as tall as Kylo himself, but slim. Vibrant red hair, combed neatly, and an unimpressed look on his face as he survey’s Kylo’s own form. He should have, perhaps, attempted to dress nicely to make a good impression on his neighbours. He hadn’t brushed his hair, his jeans haven’t been washed in a good few weeks, and his shirt says ‘started in the closet now I’m queer’, with the sleeves messily torn off.

“May I help you?” The crisp, british accent is the cherry on an already attractive cake.

“Uh, yeah, I mean, not really?” Kylo says, caught completely off guard by his hot neighbour. The man arches an eyebrow at Kylo’s unhelpful answer, and he can feel the embarrassed flush spreading over his face.

“I’m Kylo. I live next door, now.” The man somehow manages to raise his eyebrow further.

“And?”

“And I’m… introducing myself?” This had gone much smoother with Ms. Kanata, who’d seemed delighted by ‘his manners’, as she’d called them. Sure, he’d been trapped for an hour, making excruciating small talk, but he hadn’t been floundering awkwardly while being half-glared at by a hot red-head in a suit.

“Why?”

“Mum told me to.” He feels stupid, even as he says it - the man obviously thinks so, too.

“How old are you?” It might have been a rhetorical question, but Kylo answers it anyway.

“Twenty-two.” The man gives him a derisive once over.

“Respect the noise restrictions, or I’ll call the cops.” And with that, he shuts to door in Kylo’s face, but not before he mutters what sounds like ‘ children .’ Kylo blinks, scowling, before turning and walking back to his house. What a fucking asshole.

Who even wears a suit on a Saturday?

 

 

“Oh, Hux .” Ms. Kanata says, rolling her eyes. She’d decided, in the wake of Kylo’s introduction, that she would ‘look out for him.’ So far, she’d brought a loaf of home baked bread, mandarins, and now apple pie. Kylo, feeling obliged (and also a bit… touched), had cleaned out her gutters and mowed her lawn when he’d been doing his own.

“He’s an actuary, I think it’s why he’s so boring. And angry.”

 

 

The next time Kylo sees Hux, it’s a few weeks later, and Kylo’s putting the bins out as Hux pulls into his driveway. He doesn’t expect the other man to notice him at all, but when he looks up, the man’s staring at him, so Kylo waves, gives a tentative smile. Maybe he’d just caught Hux at a bad time, before. 

Hux scowls, red working it’s across the man’s face, and stalks into his house. Or , maybe he’s just a crotchety.

Kylo sets the bins on the cub properly, and stretches, scratching at his bare stomach. It’s the start of spring, and probably a bit too cool to be shirtless, but he’ll be back inside before it really matters. The redhead comes back outside to put his own bins back out. He doesn’t look at Kylo - but, obviously doesn’t look at him. Goes out of his way to look almost in the complete opposite direction. It’s weird, super weird. He can’t have made that bad an impression in such a short amount of time. Well, he hopes not, at least.

Kylo puzzles about it on and off for the night, before putting it out of his mind. He’s got an early shift, and he absolutely cannot be late.

Unsurprisingly, he’s running late the next morning, shirt in hand as he bursts through the front door, grabbing his bike out of the garage, riding down the footpath as Hux walks out his front door. Kylo could be mistaken, given that he’d been distracted, and running late, and not even looking properly but - Hux had been staring at him, he’s pretty sure.

Like he’d been staring last night, before he stormed off.

Kylo thinks about it during his shift, turning it over in his mind when he isn’t serving customers. An idea coalesces, and it seems ridiculous. He decides that more investigation is needed.

After Kylo gets home from work, he lurks by the front window until Hux gets home. He’s not surprised that the uptight, pompous dick (Maz’s words) attends to the empty bins almost immediately. Kylo strips off his shirt, and steps through the front door, jogging down the steps and across the front lawn.

From the corner of his eyes, Kylo sees Hux look over. Sees him stare. The man only looks away when Kylo turns his head obviously, and the younger man grins in delight. His ridiculous theory was right - Hux had been checking him out. Checking him out, and angry about it, apparently.

“Hey.” He calls out, and the other man stiffens. For a moment, Kylo thinks the man’s gonna ignore him, stalk off with the bins. But Hux looks. His eyes lock resolutely with Kylo’s own, too intent to be casual.

“Yes?” He asks, shortly, and Kylo shakes his head, letting go of a bin to rub the back of his head. He knows the way his muscles shift when he does that and, sure enough, Hux looks.

“Just saying hey. Being neighbourly.” Kylo assures him. Hux sneers, rolling his eyes, and continues hauling his bins away, small spots of colour high on his cheeks. Kylo puts his own bins away, grinning. Angry and easily flustered, Kylo’s favourite type of person.

It doesn’t take long to figure out Hux’s schedule, considering the guy works a 9-5 job. Leaves at 8:15, gets home at 5:45, weekends off.

Kylo digs out his old, mustard yellow running shorts. They’re too small by a wide margin, the same pair he’d worn in his junior year of high school, before his mum had bought him a larger size when he’d had another growth spurt. The hem of the shorts rides high on the top of his thighs, compresses his dick to an uncomfortable degree, and clings to his ass in an obscene manner. He’d been meaning to throw them out for years.

Instead, he tries them on in front of his bathroom mirror, examining himself from all angles, before deciding that they’d be an excellent first step in his plan.

Every day he’s not working the morning shift, he steps out his front door a few minutes before Hux, and stretches on his front lawn. By the time he finishes stretching, Hux is walking slowly down his front steps, carefully looking at his phone when Kylo looks over to say hi. Cheerful, because he knows the man’s eyes’d been burning a hole into him only a few seconds before. That’s the thing about bending over to touch your toes - you can watch the cranky brit stare at your arse.

“Morning, Hux!” Kylo calls, starting his jog. Hux frowns at him, watching him run past, gritting out a crisp ‘ good morning ’ in response. Kylo can feel Hux’s eyes on his ass as he runs down the footpath, followed by Hux slamming his car door shut with entirely too much force. The sound of it makes Kylo grin each time, without fail.

Kylo only ever does a lap or two around the block, any longer and the shorts become too uncomfortable. He can’t wait until it gets a bit warmer so he can do it shirtless, too.

 

 

By the end of the week, Kylo’s almost used to getting up at eight every day. Usually, the only time he’s up this early on a Saturday is if he’s working, otherwise he’ll sleep in as long as he can. Unless he has an assignment due, then he’s probably still awake and typing furiously.

Even though Hux isn’t going to be leaving for work, Kylo pulls on his ridiculous shorts and heads out of the house. Might as well continue the routine, otherwise he’ll probably snooze his alarm Monday, fuck up the whole game. He starts his stretches, and by the time he finishes, Hux is sitting on his front porch, drinking a cup of tea. He’s looking down at a book, idly flicking the pages, but his pale face has turned bright red.

“Morning!” He calls out, waving as he starts to jog. Hux replies, as he always does, and hopefully stares at Kylo, as he always does. He’s still there on the second lap, so Kylo keeps going, past his usual one or two, and then Hux is still there. So Kylo continues to run, even though the shorts are uncomfortable, and he hasn’t run so far since high school. Soon enough he’s sweating heavily, breathing hard, too. He keeps going until his breathing becomes laboured enough that he’s panting, and the last meters to his house are a challenge.

He hadn’t wanted to look like an idiot in front of Hux, only doing a couple of laps, and he’d overcompensated too much. He must look stupid as hell, stumbling across the grass, knees wobbly. Kylo barely manages to peel off his shirt before he collapses on his front lawn. His chest his heaving, and his fucking shorts may have started to cut circulation to his legs. He can’t even imagine what his legs are going to feel like tomorrow. Maybe he can skip Sunday, sleep in. Rest his legs.

“Are you alright?” A voice calls out, and Kylo twists around to look over. Hux has stood from his chair, book in one hand, mug in the other. Kylo goes to speak, wheezes instead, and just gives Hux a thumbs up. A few more deep breaths should even out his breathing. Hopefully.

“You shouldn’t just collapse like that.” Hux scolds, and Kylo heaves himself over, laying on his stomach and propping himself up on his elbows. He hadn’t bothered to tie his hair back properly, not expecting to actually run , and his hair had come loose sometime between the third and fourth lap. It’s half wet with sweat, sticking to his flushed face and neck, brushing his shoulders. Kylo hopes he looks alluring, shirtless and sweaty as he is, instead of how he feels, which is exhausted and in need of a long shower.

“Why not?” He calls back, and Hux’s spine stiffens.

“Well, it… that is, I mean to say…” The man splutters, clearly caught off guard, and Kylo can’t help but laugh. Hux might be an asshole, and uptight, and stuffy, but he’s cute.

“Were you worried?” He teases. The move backfires, for the man shakes his head, and walks inside his house without another word. Kylo heaves a sigh, and flops back down, face first onto the grass. It’s not especially comfortable, but he’s not ready to stand up yet. He’s not sure if he’ll be ready to stand up any time this week.

A few minutes later, there’s the sound of something crossing the grass. Something hard nudges his side, and Kylo groans. He hopes it not Maz, he really doesn’t want to hear her comments on his shorts. Whatever it is impacts harder against his ribs, and Kylo sighs, before rolling over.

It’s obvious upon first glance that it’s not Maz, but instead, surprisingly, Hux. Kylo relaxes back into the grass, one arm behind his head, the other low on his stomach. They stare at each other for a minute or two, Hux turning redder and redder. Eventually, he holds out… a metal water bottle?

“What?” Kylo is supremely confused, but reaches up to take it.

“If you dehydrate and die on your lawn, it might devalue my property.” The man grumbles out, and Kylo grins. He doesn’t bother to sit up, and when he goes to take a drink, some of the water splashes up his nose, causing him to splutter, and half inhale the water that pours from the bottle and into his mouth. Kylo sits up, coughing. He rubs at his face once he’s got his breath back, trying to rub the tears from his eyes, but it doesn’t work to well.

“Fuck.” He croaks out, aware that he’s probably the least appealing person on the planet right now. He looks up at Hux and smiles anyway, trying to shrug the incident off, before finally getting to drink some of the water.

“You should really have a water bottle when you run. Dehydration is a serious concern.” The man reprimands him. Kylo doesn’t respond, too busy skulling the water. He should probably slow down, but there’s nothing better than cool water after a run. Eventually he has his fill, and moves the bottle away, breathing deeply. There’s still some water left in the bottom, so he offers it up Hux.

“Want the rest? And yeah, water’s a good idea, but I hate carrying things when I run.” Hux eyes the water bottle like it’s become diseased, and Kylo rolls his eyes. After a moment's thought, he upends the rest over his head. It feels wonderfully cool against his face, running through his hair and trailing down his neck and chest.

After handing the bottle back, Kylo groans, and flops backwards again, eyes mostly closed. Open enough that he can still see Hux, watch the man’s bright eyes slowly running over his body. Pink is dusting his cheeks again, but less flustered than usual, more - predatory, is the only way Kylo can think to describe it. It’s an intriguing change. Kylo heaves a sigh, chest expanding as he does, the sudden movement enough to startle the man. He jerks, pink flush darkening further.

“Yes, well, use a backpack or something.” The man mutters, before turning on his heel and walking back towards his house. Kylo hears the screen door slam behind the man, and grins.

It’s really too easy.

 

 

Kylo doesn’t skip Sunday, for a few reasons. Things like having a schedule, and the health benefits, and all sorts of bullshit reasons. Mainly, he likes having Hux’s attention. Sure, it’s fun flustering the stuffy man - who apparently wears sweater vests and ties when he’s not in sharp suits - but knowing the other man likes the way he looks, that he’s got Hux’s attention, is addictive. It’s only been a week, but he likes it too much to give it up if he doesn’t have to, even for a day.

He knows he’s not amazingly attractive, like Poe. All through school, he’s had to deal with being Poe’s awkward friend, with too long limbs, and a too large nose, and a too wide mouth. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t do wonders for his self esteem, either. Hux’s admiration of his body makes him feel good. It makes him feel great , actually.

Hux is on the porch, mug visibly steaming in the cool air, soft looking blanket wrapped around his shoulders, and Kylo shivers a little bit as he warms up. The weather’s been getting slowly warmer, but the mornings are still cool. He calls out his usual greeting, and Hux answers in kind, and then Kylo’s off running.

Running every morning has actually been pretty good. If he keeps this up, he might end up fitter than he had been doing sports in high school.

He doesn’t run as far as he had the previous day, legs too sore for that, but he still does more than the block or two he does during the week. That said, he’s still breathing hard when he finishes. He’s bent over, hands on his knees, trying to regain some sort of normal breathing pattern, when Hux calls out.

“I don’t see a bag.” He sounds disapproving, and Kylo rolls his eyes. He stands up, hair thankfully still in the high tail he’d put it in this morning, to find Hux walking down his steps and crossing his front lawn. In one hand, there’s the same water bottle from yesterday. Kylo smiles, feeling warm in a way that has nothing to do with exercise. Hux shoves it at him, looking especially sour today, and Kylo takes it graciously.

“Thanks, Hux. I really appreciate it.” To show his appreciation, he doesn’t try and fluster the man. Instead, he just drinks the water, and hands the empty bottle back. Besides, the man seems to fluster himself easily enough, looking painfully uncomfortable as he stands there.

“You’re welcome.” The redhead says, stiffly. Kylo grins, before jerking his head towards his house.

“I gotta shower before work, but thanks again.” Hux doesn’t say anything, just turns and walks back to his own house.

 

 

Monday morning goes as it usually does. Hux surreptitiously watches him stretch from his front porch, only starting to walk down the stairs when Kylo’s done. They say good morning, and then Kylo’s off. He’s almost out of earshot when he hears the car door slam, more of a delay than usual. Maybe his ass looked spectacular today. Imagining the perpetually irate man craning his head to keep staring almost makes him laugh. Kylo only does two laps of the block, before stopping. And then, something different.

Sitting on his front step is a metal water bottle. The same one Hux had used to hydrate him, over the weekend.

Hux clearly thought that Kylo ran that much every morning, and, correctly, assumed that he wasn’t going to start taking a bag or water bottle. So sometime this morning after Kylo had taken off running - the delayed car door - Hux had put this on his front step. Because… maybe, just a little bit, the redhead… cared?

Odd and probably false as the thought was, it made Kylo’s heart trip a step, and his cheeks heat, just a little.

He takes the water inside, drinking from it as he rips a corner off a scrap piece of paper. He grabs a pen from his bag, and write a quick thank you note.

Hux

Thanks for the water.

It was a good idea :)

Kylo

His writing is, as usual, a barely legible scrawl. It’s why he takes his laptop to class, otherwise he can’t read his own notes. Hopefully Hux can puzzle it out. The smiley face is pretty obvious, though, as it the K , so the man should be able to catch the meaning. Hopefully. He has a quick shower, gets ready for class, and drinks the last of the water as he walks out the front door. He leaves the water bottle on the small table on Hux’s porch, note underneath so it doesn’t blow away.

He’s got work after uni, and by the time he gets back Hux has already been home for hours. There’s no opportunity to see him until the next morning, see how well received the note was. Neither of them say anything about the water, even though Kylo’s itching to ask, but when he gets back from his run, the water bottle’s on his front step again.

Kylo returns it, this time with only a smiley face on a piece of paper as a thank you.

It starts a trend.

 

 

“Have you been working out?” Poe asks, half lying on Kylo’s thighs, most of his attention on the screen in front of them. Kylo hates playing FIFA, but Poe loves it. He stopped paying attention after he lost for the fifth time in a row, three hours ago. If he loses enough, eventually Poe feels sorry enough for him to agree to playing Halo.

“Yeah. Kinda. I run in the mornings, now.”

“You wake up in the morning? How often?” It’s a casual question, and Kylo shrugs, fiddling with the joystick, making his current main player run around in useless little circles.

“Every day.” Poe nods, absentmindedly, before the comment actually registers. 

“What?” He sits up, game forgotten momentarily. “No fucking way. You haven’t gotten up every morning without bitching about it since you were eleven.” He stares at Kylo, dark eyes squinted earnestly. Kylo shuffles in place a little, fiddling with the controller so he doesn’t have to stare at his friend. If he doesn’t look at Poe, there’s no way the other man can figure out that-

“Something else is going on. Come on, spill. I’ll even stop playing FIFA.” And that’s an offer Kylo’d be a fool to refuse.

 

The worst thing isn’t Poe’s deep, hysterical laughter - it’s that he believes Kylo straight away, no convincing.

“Why would I need to be convinced?” He’s asked, followed shortly by, “You’re the most needlessly dramatic, ridiculous human being I know. And my little sister’s currently trying to model her life around a telenovela.”

He laughs at Kylo’s offended stare, too.

 

 

There’s a large, mean looking, orange cat sitting on Kylo’s lounge, when he wakes up. It probably came in through the window he’d left open the previous night. It’s been getting warmer, spring fading into summer, and his bedroom doesn’t even have a fan. He figured if anyone had tried to break in and steal something, the sound would wake him up. It’s only a small, ground level house, after all, nothing like the Victorian-esque, multi-story home that Hux lives in.

And now, the cat.

Large isn’t even an accurate description - the thing’s huge. He could almost fool himself into thinking it was all fur, if it wasn’t for the size of the cat’s head. He walks back into his room, shutting the window, and tugs on jeans and a shirt. He’s going to check the cat for a tag, and the less skin available to slash, the better.

Surprisingly, the cat doesn’t lash out when Kylo reaches out for it’s collar. Instead, it reclines further, and Kylo hesitantly pats at it’s side with his spare hand. A deep rumbling starts up, and Kylo read the engraving on the blue tag.

“Millicent, huh?” Calm as the cat is, it’s probably being missed by some kid right at this very moment. Especially since he’s not seen it running around the neighbourhood before - and he would have noticed, the beast’s huge . There’s a number etched into lower edge of the tag, and Kylo picks the cat up, taking it - her, probably - into his room, where his phone’s on charge. She’s as heavy as she looks, and flops gracefully in his arms, still purring.

He sits down on his bed, grabs his phone, and taps the number in. It rings, and rings, and Kylo belatedly realises that it’s half past seven in the morning, and perhaps he should ring later? But he has to go to work soon, and he doesn’t really want to leave the cat in his house until after his shift. Soon enough, though, a familiar voice answers with a polite,

“Hello, Armitage Hux speaking.”

Armitage?” He says, surprised. There’s silence for a few moments, before,

“Kylo? How on earth did you get this number?” Hux says sharply, and Kylo can only imagine the look on his face. God, it’s terrible, but Kylo likes it. Likes imagining Hux saying filthy things in that sharp, cold voice.

“Can I call you Armie?” He asks, smiles at the thought of the scowl on Hux’s face.

“No. How’d you get this number?”

“A lovely lady named Millicent.” Silence, and then,

Millie? My cat? How- she’s an inside cat.”

“Yeah. Inside my house, though.”

What?” Hux sounds outraged, and Kylo laughs.

“She got out, I guess? Came in through my open window. Did you want me to bring her back?” He asks, still patting the affectionate cat, who’s been rolling around in his lap for the majority of this conversation.

“No, no, I can come get her now.” Hux tries to insist, and Kylo grins.

“Nah, it’s cool, I’ll bring her over, just let me pull on some pants.” He says, hanging up without waiting for Hux’s response. He moves Millie to his bed, and pulls off his shirt, undoing the fly of his jeans. A small triangle of bright red is visible, the boxer briefs he’d slept in last night hopefully enough to draw Hux’s eyes. He picks up his keys, and Millie, and walks over to Hux’s. He can feel the jeans slipping lower and lower as he walks, wonders if he should have been content being shirtless.

Kylo bounds up the steps to Hux’s house, and the man’s already got the door open, hovering worriedly. He lights up when he sees the cat, reaching out and almost snatching him from Kylo, but he’s gentle about it.

“Millie, I can’t believe you got out, naughty girl.” He scolds, affectionate, and Kylo feels weird about imagining Hux talking to him the same way the man talks to his cat. He still imagines it though; maybe Hux would call him naughty, too.

“Thank you for bringing her, Kylo.” Hux says, finally turning his attention from Millie. His eyes flicker down Kylo’s chest, linger on the way his jeans are now gaping at the fly, low enough that it’s officially indecent. Hux turns the same colour as Kylo underwear, eyes going wide, before they fly up to Kylo’s face. There’s no way he can pretend he didn’t notice Hux’s reaction, so instead Kylo laughs it off, feigning embarrassment.

“Shit, sorry.” He grins, tugging his jeans up, fingers deftly doing up his fly.

“Not a morning person?” Hux inquires, sounding completely uninterested, in sharp contrast with his red face. Kylo shrugs, enjoying the way Hux’s eyes flick briefly to his shoulders.

“Not really. Anyway, I gotta get to work.” Unfortunately. He’d be keen to stand here all day, Hux attempting to keep his eyes away from Kylo’s bare chest, his nipples that have pebbled in the morning chill.

“Of course, so do I. Thank you for bringing her back.” Hux does something incredible, then - he smiles. It’s a small smile, but it’s the first one Kylo’s seen on him. It’s fucking gorgeous, and Kylo feels his stupid heart do a stupid, stupid thing. Fuck .

 

 

He’d saved Hux’s name in his phone as, of course, as the three eggplants, Daddy, angry face, gun, water droplets.

 

 

He mows his, and Maz’s, lawns in a singlet and a pair of shorts that were actually Poe’s, once upon a time. Once upon a time being three and a half weeks ago, when Kylo had been over at Poe’s, talking about how he wishes he owned more than jeans and board shorts. His friend had thrown the shorts at him to shut him up. They’re bright orange, and cover more than his running shorts do. Although, that’s not saying much, considering.

He slathers himself in sunscreen, put on a hat, gloves, and earmuffs. He’s sure he looks stupid, but it’s better than sunburn, and hearing loss, so he wears them, even though Hux spends every second Saturday on his porch, watching as Kylo mows the two lawns. Not to say that Hux isn’t on his porch on the other weekend days - he is. Every weekend morning, he sits on the porch, reads a book, and drinks tea or coffee, Kylo isn’t sure. And then, after coming down to give Kylo some water, he’ll disappear back inside.

Except every second Saturday, when Kylo mows the laws. Which was why he’d been been so pleased to wear Poe’s old shorts.

“No jeans today?” Maz has asked, the first time he’d worn them.

“Getting too hot.” He’d told her, and she’d nodded, handing him another muffin.

He’s asked Hux, once or twice, whether the man wanted Kylo to mow his lawn, as well. The redhead had declined, each time. But he still sat on the porch, laptop open, working away. But Kylo felt Hux’s eyes on him as he worked, more often than not.

He wonders if he’s affected Hux’s productivity at work. It seems like the kind of thing Hux would know, and keep track of, and blame Kylo for. Kylo wouldn’t mind, so long as Hux had him bent over while reprimanding him, fucking him deep. He wonders whether Hux is as easily flustered in bed as he is outside of it. How far down that blush goes. Would he even be able to tell Kylo how bad he’s been, or would he choke on the words, bite his tongue and blush.

Kylo spends a lot of time thinking about what Hux would like in bed.

 

 

“Hey, do you have any sugar?” Hux looks supremely unimpressed, staring at Kylo standing on his doorstep, covered in flour.

“Sugar.”

“Yeah.”

“Wouldn’t Ms. Kanata be the smarter choice?” He asks, and he’s right. Except,

“Then she’ll ask why I’m covered in flour. And then the cake won’t be a surprise.”

“Of course.” He looks Kylo up and down, inspecting the amount of flour on him. He sighs, moving aside.

“Follow me and don’t touch anything.” Kylo’s a bit in awe. If he’d known this was all it took to get invited inside, he’d have done it weeks ago. There’s a foyer, and a carpeted staircase, and wall art that actually looks expensive, and the place looks very clean. Except for the ginger fur scattered across the rug, and the stairs, and probably most places in the house. They come to the kitchen, which is as clean as everywhere else, and also devoid of cat hair.

On the sink, drying, is the metal water bottle. Kylo smiles at the sight, but doesn’t call attention to it. Neither of them have said a word about it, actually. Not even on the weekends, when Hux doesn’t leave it on his doorstep, and instead comes down to hand it over personally. Kylo likes it, the opportunity to talk to Hux. And the opportunity to tease him, of course, pouring water over himself if it’s a particularly hot day, taking off his shirt, taking an extra long time to warm down.

“How much sugar? White or brown?” He asks, crouching down and opening a cupboard which appears to be filled with tupperware and other such assortments. Kylo wonders if that’s the marker of an actual, proper adult - tupperware. His mum has some, too, and Maz. None of Kylo’s friends own tupperware.

“It just says sugar? A couple hundred grams, I guess?” Hux, still crouched down, turns and frowns at him.

“You guess?” Kylo shrugs.

“The recipe is old, hand writing’s smudged. I’m doing some test runs to find the right ratios. That’s why I’m out of sugar.” Hux sighs, standing up. He opens a door, revealing a pantry, and grabs a container full of white sugar, closing the door behind him. The entire pantry had looked ridiculously organised. Kylo’s sure that if Hux ever stepped foot in his kitchen, the man would have a heart attack.

Or he’d make Kylo clean and organise, using that commanding voice of his. Doing all his chores would be easier if he had Hux telling him to do them - as long as he got a reward at the end of it, of course. 

“Here, take it all, bring back the container and whatever’s left when you’re done. Now shoo, I’ve got work to do.” Kylo takes the sugar, nodding.

“Thanks Hux, you’re a lifesaver. I’ll save you some of my better attempts.”

“I’ll buy some antacid.”

 

 

The cake for Maz turns out actually not that bad. Not good, either, but edible. She eats a few small slices, compliments him on trying, and then makes him get the recipe. She annotates the shitty, early 1990’s photocopy of his grandmother’s recipe, somehow able to read the blurry, intricate script.

He’s gonna have to make it again, and try with the proper measurements, see if that improves his baking skill.

He takes the sugar container back to Hux, refilled with sugar, along with some cake. One of the finalists, actually. It’d been a toss up between this cake, a slightly wonkier looking cake, and the one he’d actually decided to give to Maz as a surprise.

Hux thanks him for both, uses the fork Kylo’s thoughtfully brought, and eats a very small bite of cake right there, in the doorway. The man gives a stiff smile, nods, and then shuts the door. He’s pretty sure Hux spat the cake back onto the plate, and shoved the rest into the bin.

You win some, you lose some.

 

 

Kylo finishes his run, slightly winded, but not overly. The continued, daily exercise has more benefits than Hux’s attention, after all. It’s a Sunday, so Hux deigns to walk down his stairs and come bring the water bottle to Kylo. As he takes a drink Hux says,

“You seem to be getting less exhausted after your runs.” Ridiculously, Kylo’s pleased that he’s noticed. Even though he’d have to be willfully ignorant to not notice the difference between now and when Kylo had first started, almost two months ago. After he’s finished with the water, and caught his breath a bit more, Kylo answers.

“Yeah, getting used to it again. I stopped running so much, in the last couple of years. I was really fit in high school.”

“The last couple of years since high school.” Hux rolls his eyes, and Kylo makes a face at him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I forget you’re so young, sometimes.” It’s Kylo’s turn to roll his eyes, taking another sip of water.

“I’m not that young, and you’re not that old.”

“How old do you think I am, Kylo?” The younger man shrugs.

“Twenty seven? Eight?” He guesses, and Hux huffs in amusement.

“I’m thirty five in a few months.” Kylo almost chokes on water, but manages to restrain himself. Kind of. It’s more of a half cough.

“No shit, really?”  Hux gives him a flat look.

“No, I’m lying to you for my own amusement.” He deadpans, and Kylo grins.

“When’s your birthday?”

“That’s none of your business.” Hux informs him, half frowning, and Kylo shrugs.

“I’ll find out eventually.”

“No, you won’t.” Kylo drinks the last of the water, screwing the cap back on as he thinks.

“If I guess right, will you tell me?” Hux looks at him, for a moment, before agreeing.

“September twenty first?”

“No.”

“October third?”

“No.”

“October second?”

“You’re not going to let this drop, are you?”

“November fifteenth?” Hux grabs the water bottle back, and turns on his heel, walking back towards his own house.

“September tenth?” Kylo calls after him and then, when there’s still no answer, “August thirty first? At least tell me when I get the right month!”

Hux answers by snapping the screen door shut behind him.

 

 

Kylo looks at his phone, on break that afternoon, and pulls up Hux’s contact. He grins at the assortment of emoji’s around Daddy, and decides to throw caution to the wind. 

nov 12th, he sends, and then shoves his phone into his pocket so he won’t stare at it for however long it takes for Hux to respond. If he responds. A few minutes later,

Kylo? The man grins, sends back,

yeah. nov 20th

Both incorrect. This is ridiculous.

sept 1st? And then, a moment later, i’ll stop if you tell me your birthday

Kylo doesn’t really want to stop, but he’s sure he’ll be able to find another excuse to text Hux eventually. After a minute or two, his phone buzzes again.

Keep guessing.

Kylo grins down at his screen, and sends another guess.

 

 

Kylo’s on the phone with Poe, looking through the clothes section of the local goodwill, when he spots them. 

“Theoretically,” he says, switching topics from how fucked they are with the upcoming essay, “how much do you think my neighbour would drool if I wore a pair of daisy dukes when I mow mine and Maz’s lawn tomorrow?” Poe laughs, loud and boisterous in his ear.

“Oh man, I have got to see that.”

Which is how he ends up buying the short shorts without trying them on, and Poe arrives at his house at nine twenty on a Saturday, having already fielded a call from panicked Kylo. After his post-shower run, Kylo had pulled the denim shorts up, to find that, somehow, they were more obscene than his running shorts.

How that was even possible, Kylo didn’t know.

Maybe because the running shorts compressed everything, but the denim seemed made to cup him, emphasising everything. Also, it felt like half his ass was hanging out the bottom of his shorts. He’s just lucky he’d had to buy some tiny, low cut briefs to wear with his running shorts, otherwise he’d have to choose between looking ridiculous with his boxer-briefs sticking out underneath, or free balling it.

Poe lets himself in the unlocked front door, and finds Kylo pacing in front of the lounge, wearing nothing but his work boots and the denim shorts.

“Wow, they are worse than the running shorts.” He says, grinning, and Kylo groans, throwing himself onto the couch.

“Shit, this was a terrible idea. I’ll go change.” He says, making to get back up. Poe stops him with a hand to his bare shoulder, mischievous smirk on his face.

“Not so fast. I mean, you’ll be toeing the line of public indecency, but I’m pretty sure Mr. Ginger next door is gonna tear a seam when he gets look at you. ” Kylo frowns, a little, still not sure.

“If we took a photo, we could probably get some money from a soft core skin mag.” Poe continues, and Kylo rolls his eyes, swatting at his friend.

“Alright. I grab a deck chair for you from the garage, and you can read while I mow.”

“And keep an eye on your next door neighbour.”

“Obviously.” Kylo says, getting up from the lounge.

“He gave me the stink eye on my way up the drive, by the way.”

“He does that to everyone.” Poe scoffs, shaking his head as Kylo grabs the sunscreen, his work gloves, ear protection and a wide brimmed hat.

Everyone everyone, or just everyone who visits you.”

“No, everyone everyone. He glares at the mailman sometimes, when the guy isn’t looking.”

Wow, sounds like a great guy. I can see why you like him.”

“Shut up.” Kylo shoves the gloves in his pockets, starts rigorously applying sunscreen as they walk through the house into the connecting garage. Poe grabs the chair, Kylo the lawnmower, and together they walk out to the front lawn. It’s the mowing day, and he’s got his own front lawn, and Maz’s, and then Maz’s backyard, being careful of her multitude of plants.

“Did you want me today, Hux?” He calls out, carefully nonchalant, rubbing sunscreen into his chest as he watches Hux look up. 

“What!” The man yelps, face flaming red, mouth falling open slightly, looking completely stunned. Kylo can hear Poe snickering behind him, quietly, as he sets up the folding chair.

“I, Kylo- yes, I mean-” The man cuts himself off as Poe’s snickers suddenly ramp up in intensity, a quick bark of laughter before he cuts himself off. Kylo bites his lip to stop himself from crowing with delight as Hux scowls, instantly embarrassed.

“Cool. Did you want me to do the backyard, too, or just your front lawn?”

“...Just the front.” Hux says, after a moment, and Kylo nods. He throws the sunscreen at Poe, who catches it and starts to apply it as well. His face is down, but Kylo hopes he’s watching Hux, so he can find out whether the man does, actually, stare at his ass as much as Kylo thinks he does.

“You missed a patch on your back, man.” Poe says, when Kylo reaches the lawn mower. Kylo turns to face him, and Poe’s waggling the sunscreen.

“Shit, I can never reach.” The amount of times he’s had an uneven patch of bright red sunburn on his back is ridiculous.

“Yeah, I got it. Turn around.” Poe stands up, squirting sunscreen onto his hand, and starts rubbing it on Kylo’s pale back.

“Have you done the back of your legs, yet?” Poe asks, and Kylo swears, again. He’d been too distracted by watching Hux to actually finish covering himself up. It’d serve him right if he ended up with a hellish sunburn because he was teasing his neighbour.

“Yeah, I didn’t think so.” Poe sounds smug, and Kylo’s instantly suspicious. His friend moves onto the backs of his thighs, and Kylo puts his hands on his hips.

“Don’t leave a pattern behind.” He warns, and Poe laughs.

“That was one time!”

“I had a dick on my back for, like, weeks.” Kylo protests, but he’s laughing too. In hindsight, it was hilarious. As a fifteen year old, it’d been… well, still pretty funny, actually.

“Okay, you’re done.” Poe slaps his ass, and Kylo yelps, jumping away. Poe just laughs, and goes back to the deck chair, grabbing the book as he does. He grabs the mower and heads over to Hux’s front lawn, chancing a glance up at the porch as he does so. For once, Hux seems to be actually not looking at him, fearful scowl on his face as he taps furiously at his phone.

So Kylo gets started on the lawn. It’s summer, now, and by the time he’s finished Hux’s lawn, he’s sweating so much he wants a shower, but he’s still got all of Maz’s lawns to finish. And his own. Shit. But first, a break. Something to drink. He turns the mower off, leans against the handle for a minute, before looking up at Hux. Or, where Hux should be. To his surprise, the man’s usual seat is vacant. He has a few seconds to be disappointed, before the screen door opens, and the man steps out. He’s carrying a drink in one hand, water in a clear glass that Kylo’d be willing to suck Hux’s dick for, at this point.

Although, saying that implies that Kylo doesn’t normally want to suck Hux’s dick.

Hux says something, but Kylo can’t quite hear it through the ear muffs. He tugs them down around his neck.

“Water?” Hux repeats, holding the glass out, offering it to him, and Kylo beams at him. He practically bounds up the stairs, hat falling off in his enthusiasm, saved from the ground only by the chin strap. Hux hands the drink over, and Kylo throws it back like he’s dying of thirst. It feels like he is, a little bit. He hadn’t realised that he’d been so thirsty.

The glass is completely empty when he hands it back to Hux, who accepts it gracefully, face a dull pink. He’s very, very carefully not looking anywhere below Kylo’s chin.

“Thanks, Hux. You’re super thoughtful.” The man makes a small, huffing sound, looking supremely uncomfortable.

“Yes. Well. You always forget to hydrate.”

“I’ve got you to remember for me.” Kylo replies, delighted at the darkening blush on Hux’s cheeks.

“Don’t you have more work to do?” Hux says, shortly, and Kylo heaves a groan.

“Yeah. The lawns, and then Poe and I are gonna work on our essays together. Poe came over early to get the readings finished while I worked.”

“You’re in university?” He asked, sounding vaguely curious and Kylo nods.

“Yeah, second year. I worked straight out of high school before I figured out what I wanted to do.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Teaching, industrial arts and stuff.”

“Interesting.” Kylo shrugs, pulling the hat back on his head.

“Yeah. Pedagogy fucking sucks, though. And Ed. Psych.” Hux nods, and Kylo thanks him for the drink again, before going back to his mower, and pushing it to his lawn.

“It’s gonna get loud.” He warns Poe, kicking his friends foot when he gets close enough. Poe nods, reaches over and grabs his wonderful, expensive, noise cancelling headphones from his bag. He’d saved up for months and months to get them, last year of high school, and Kylo had been so jealous.

“You should put some more sunscreen on, soon.” Poe advises, and throws the sunscreen at him. Kylo catches it, and remembers to get the backs of his legs, this time. He still can’t quite get the spot right in the center of his back, and crouches down so Poe can do it for him. He pulls his ear muffs over his ears again, moves the mower to his start point - conveniently placed so that when he bends over to start the mower, his ass is pointed straight at Hux.

He’s fairly sure that Poe is laughing at him, quietly, as the mower starts. Not that he really cares. Poe’s been laughing at him since they were six, and Poe’s family moved from Guatemala to down the road from Kylo’s family. Poe’s heard all about Hux, and Kylo’s ongoing efforts to fluster the man. And maybe he’s heard a little bit about how Kylo’s been thinking increasingly stupid things, like how he’d like to kiss Hux’s pink lips, and maybe wake up next to him.

Poe obligingly moves the deck chair and relocates to the already mown part, when Kylo starts to encroach on his space. At some point, Poe’d gone inside, and come back with a hard plastic cup that looked like it was more ice than liquid. Kylo’s contemplating just stealing a sip of Poe’s drink and then diving straight into Maz’s lawn, but turns around to look at Hux, first. The man’s on his laptop, now, typing away. On the small porch table, however, there are two glasses. One half full, obviously Hux’s. The other, full.

Kylo turns off the mower and walks over, taking the stairs slowly. He grabs the drink and downs half of it before he’s even flopped into the chair next to Hux’s.

“You’ll get grass stains and sweat on my chair.” Hux tells him, not even looking up from whatever work he’s doing. Something boring, if he’s an actuary. Kylo rolls his eyes, and slides off the chair and onto the floor, ending up in a sprawled pile near Hux’s feet.

“Great, now I’ll never get up.” He complains, and Hux looks down at him. His light eyes look darker than usual, as he surveys Kylo. He coughs uncomfortably, before looking back at his laptop. He doesn’t start to type again, though. Just stares at the screen, and Kylo hides his smirk by pulling his hat down to cover his face.

He wonders if Hux is taking the opportunity to look his fill. He hopes so.

At first, he was doing this to satisfy his personal curiosity about whether Hux had been checking him out, and then because it was fun to watch the older man turn red and trip over his words. And because he liked the attention, of course. Now, he wants Hux to want him. Wants him to reach out and touch, one of these days. Wants to spend his evenings sprawled out in front of Hux, letting the man do whatever he wants with him.

“You’ve got Ms. Kanata’s lawn, still.” Hux says, eventually. Kylo doesn’t respond, having slipped into a light doze. He wakes up when Hux digs the tip of one of his oxfords into the soft spot below his ribs, squirms away with a pathetic whine.

“The lawns, Kylo.” It sounds more like an order than a reminder, and Kylo moves the hat from his face, pouting. Hux looks distinctly unimpressed, merely raises an eyebrow at him. Kylo sighs melodramatically, and sits up, grabbing his drink from where he’d placed it before sliding to the floor and finishing it.

Feeling a bit cocky, Kylo puts his hand on Hux’s knee, uses it to haul himself to his feet. It’s the first time he can remember touching Hux in any way. The man doesn’t say anything about it, and Kylo feels giddy with success.

“Thanks for the drink, Hux.” He says, bounding back down the stairs. He forgoes another layer of sunscreen, instead dragging the mower over to Maz’s, then past her side gate and into her backyard. It almost looks like a jungle, with the trees and exotic flowers. There’s only a few places he can actually mow, back here, so he should be back out the front - and in Hux’s eye line - soon enough.

 

 

“So?” Kylo asks, once they’re in his kitchen, lawns all finished.

“He’s probably chafing his dick to the thought of you right now.” Poe tells him. 

“You think?”

“Buddy, never before have I witnessed anything like it. And when I rubbed sunscreen on you, I thought he was going to come over and punch me.” Kylo laughs, shaking his head, but feels warmth flutter inside his chest, heart thudding awkwardly at the thought.

“So you think he, uh-”

Yes, Kylo. Whatever you’re going to ask, the answer is yes.”

Kylo gets absolutely none of his essay written that afternoon. 

 

 

“You could just ask him out.” Maz says, a few days later, sitting in Kylo’s kitchen with a loaf of home made banana bread, this time.

“Who?” 

“The boy you were parading around in front of, yesterday. He looked nice, but didn’t really look at your display.” Kylo thinks for a second, before bursting out into laughter.

Poe? Maz, I promise, I do not want to date Poe. He’s basically my brother.” He assures her. The tiny woman nods, taking a sip of her tea (the tea which Kylo only has because of her, kept carefully stocked so she has something to drink when she comes.)

“Ah, so it was for Hux. I had been wondering. Same advice.” She says, nodding sagely. Kylo almost chokes on his coffee.

“What? Hux? No! I, no, Maz, it’s not like that.” He rushes to assure her, doing a piss poor job of it.

“I might have thick glasses, Kylo, but I’m not blind. Whenever Hux is at work, you wear jeans, sweat shirts, t-shirts, all shirts. He gets home, suddenly you misplace every shirt you own.” Kylo can feel himself blushing, even as he shakes his head.

“Maz…” He trails off, trying to think of something to say, some defence, but she waves him off.

“No judgement. You have bad taste, but no judgement.” She assures him, cutting another slice of banana bread and pushing it over to him. Kylo puts it on his plate, and obediently starts to tear it apart, popping pieces into his mouth.

“You should wear a shirt, sometimes. Enhance the mystique.”

“I don’t think I’ve got much of that. He’s seen me without a shirt enough times.” Kylo gives up on pretending Maz hasn’t figured it out.

“Hm. Wear a white shirt, then get wet.” She advises. Kylo blinks in surprise, then grins.

“Maz, you’re a genius. I didn’t have any new ideas.”

“I noticed.” Kylo laughs, spraying little bits of banana bread over the table. He texts Poe, later, asking is the man has any ideas about how, exactly, to bring such circumstances about. He can’t be obvious about it, after all, otherwise Hux would figure it out.

Luckily, his best friend is not only exceptionally smart, but involved with a ridiculous amount of clubs.

Two days later, Kylo’s putting flyers in the mailboxes of everyone in the street. It’s conveniently timed so that he’s shoving one into Hux’s mailbox just as the man arrives home from work. He’s taken Maz’s advice, and hasn’t conveniently removed the shirt he’d been wearing all day. Hux steps out of the car, laptop bag in one hand, and raises an eyebrow at him.

“What on earth are you doing?” His gaze is on the lurid pink flyer halfway in his mailbox, and then on the small stack of vibrantly coloured flyers in his other hand - all the colours of the rainbow, in fact.

“Putting a flyer in your mail?” It sounds more like a question that he wants, but that tends to happen when Hux is sharp with him.

“Why?”

“So that you’ll read it.” Hux rolls his eyes, shutting his car door and stepping towards Kylo.

“I meant what’s the flyer for, Kylo.” Every time Hux says his name like that, voice edging towards command, a shiver runs down Kylo’s spine.

“The uni’s LGBTQIA+ club is having a car wash fundraiser, and I’ve volunteered to help out.”

“Volunteered for flyer dropping, or for washing cars?”

“Both. You should come, I promise I’ll take really good care of your car.” He grins at Hux, who remains unimpressed. And, disappointingly, blush free. This is what happens when Kylo’s fully dressed during their conversations.

“Will you?”

“Yeah. I mean, if I’m not doing someone else’s. And we’ll have a sausage sizzle, and a slushie machine, and we’re thinking about maybe a slip and slide, which should be fun!” Kylo realises, halfway through speaking, that he’s repeating the exact same spiel that Poe had given him, a couple of days ago.

“Do I look like someone who enjoys a slip and slide?” Hux sounds offended, and Kylo can feel himself blush, just a little bit. Of course Hux wouldn’t care about a slip and slide. Hux probably doesn’t care about the car wash either. He’s probably got an actual car wash where he gets his car professionally cleaned, or something.

“Yeah, you’re right. It was stupid, wanting you to come.” Kylo tugs the flyer back out of Hux’s mailbox, half scrunches it in his hand. He hates feeling stupid, and right now he feels like a fucking idiot. He takes a few steps sideways, to his own house, gaze fixed firmly on the ground.

“Give me a flyer.” Hux says, sounding extremely put upon. Kylo looks up, shaking his head.

“Nah, don’t feel pressured or anything. I’m sure you’ve got things to do. Like, proper adult stuff.”

“Proper adult stuff?” Hux sounds dubious, inquiring as to what, exactly, Kylo thinks Hux does with his time. The answer is… not much, to be honest. Pets Millie, does work, drinks tea, reads classic fiction while sitting in a leather chair in his personal library. Kylo is sure that there’s a room filled with books, somewhere in Hux’s three story house. Hopefully, thinks of Kylo while he masturbates.

“You know. Paper work. Opera? Watching the news? British news? And, um, documentaries?” He cringes as he says it, aware that the subtext is ‘ boring shit .’ Hux seems faintly amused, however. Luckily.

“You forgot smoking cigars and discussing the stockmarket.” Flat as Hux’s tone is, Kylo’s pretty sure it’s a joke. He grins, anyway, and Hux gives that little smile in response. He feels his heart beat a bit louder at the sight.

“A flyer please, and I’ll see if I can work it into my apparently busy schedule.” Kylo shuffles forward again, and hands over the wrinkled, pink paper.

“Cool. See you tomorrow morning.” And then he walks down the footpath. He much prefers when it’s Hux who’s unsure, in their conversations. When Kylo’s shirtless, he never seems to get so nervous that he ends up putting a flyer in his own damn mail, in full view of Hux.

Worst. 

 

 

Poe comes to pick him up Saturday morning. Kylo bounds out of the house when he sees his friends car pull up. Hux is on the front porch, drinking from his mug.

“Don’t forget, car wash today!” Kylo says, too loud, and Hux raises his mug in response. Poe, when Kylo finally gets into the car, is rolling his eyes.

“You’ve got it bad, buddy.”

“Fuck off.”

The car wash is fairly busy, and Kylo and Poe are thrown straight into work. Like he’d suspected, the white shirt goes see through fairly quickly, attracting the eyes of most at the fundraiser. The board shorts are long enough to brush his knees, and Kylo feels especially good about taking Maz’s advice when half the people in his street turn up, drawn by the flyers. Not to say that they haven’t all already seen him prancing around in less, but there’s something different about it when they’re handing over money.

Not bad, just different.

Kylo checks his phone when he takes a break for lunch, but the only message is from his Mum, reminding him about dinner. He lets her know that he hasn’t forgotten that he’d agreed to have dinner with her since the last time they spoke, and gets back to lunch.

Washing cars is pretty easy, and fun when Poe’s there to joke around with. Another hour passes, and still no Hux. And then another. It’s… disappointing, but Kylo isn’t surprised. Of course Hux wasn’t going to come - why would he? He doesn’t actually like Kylo, or anything, he just likes the look of him. Why would he come to a stupid car wash, with a stupid slip n slide just to look at Kylo?

For a moment, a car that looks remarkably like Hux’s pulls in, and Kylo can feel his enthusiasm from earlier in the day return. But when the door opens, a middle aged lady steps out, cheery smile on her face. Kylo sighs at the false alarm. Eventually, it’s the last hour of the car wash, and still no Hux. There are only two cars left in the lot, and there’s enough volunteers left that Kylo doesn’t have to wash either of them. His shirt’s pretty much dry again, as well.

Or, it is, until someone throws a bucket of water over his head. Poe’s infectious laughter rings through the air, and Kylo can’t stop the smile on his face as he turns around. He might be feeling pretty shitty, but he can always count on Poe to cheer him up. The water feels nice, at least, even if his shirt’s plastered to his skin again.

“Don’t say I never do anything for you.” Poe says, completely nonsensical, considering that they’ve been best friends for over a decade and a half, and Poe does things for him all the time. And then, over Poe’s shoulder, Kylo spots him. Hux. He’s changed from the soft, green cardigan of that morning into a dark grey suit. It makes Kylo wonder if Hux had, actually, had a busy day. Maybe he’d been in meetings, even though it was Saturday, and that’s why he’s come now, when Kylo had given up hope.

“I thought you thought my plan was ridiculous.” Kylo says, heading over to the booth where Hux has finished paying, and where volunteers for the new car are being wrangled.

“You do you, buddy.” Kylo swats at Poe, who dodges, and goes to distract people who look like they’re ready to volunteer to wash Hux’s car before Kylo gets the chance.

“Hey, you made it!” He calls out, loud enough to get the attention of everyone within earshot. It has the dual effect of letting people know that he’s got dibs on the car - a system which people had been using all day to call their friends cars - and getting Hux to look over at him. His pale face turns steadily pink, before edging into red. Hux raises a hand in an awkward wave, and when Kylo gets closer he can see that the tips of Hux’s ears have gone red as well.

“Yes.” He says, shortly, sounding cross. Kylo’s pretty sure by now that Hux sounds like that automatically, and doesn’t let it bother him.

“Cool, I’ll get started on your car. Any special requests?” Hux trails him as he starts towards the tap, where the buckets, soap and rags are.

“Special requests?” Kylo nods, instead of answering, while he fills up one of the buckets. Earlier in the day, the buckets had been automatically filled by volunteers who weren’t currently occupied. But as the day had worn on, and less and less cars arrived, they’d erred on the side of caution, so as to not accidentally waste water.

“Yeah, you know.” Kylo says, when he turns the water off, grabbing one of the bottles to add soap to the water. “So far today I’ve had someone ask for their rims to be done, someone wanted me to vacuum the inside of their car, a few people asked for hugs, and one lady wanted me to take my shirt off.” Kylo stands, picking up the bucket and one of the rags, and heads over to Hux’s car.

“Did you?” Hux asks, voice slightly off, as Kylo surveys his car. It’s mostly clean, so he won’t be spending forty minutes painstakingly washing mud off a land rover. That had been the worst.

“Yeah. She was really nice about it, and ended up giving us an extra fifty bucks.” Hux doesn’t say anything to that, and Kylo gets to washing. All day he’s been practicing, trying to figure out how to wash a car sexily. He’s had all this time, and he still doesn’t know how to make do it. So instead, he just washes the car. He’d gotten a good enough reaction by Hux turning pink and annoyed at the sight of him, there’s no reason to overly torment him.

“No requests, then?” Kylo asks, when he’s about halfway done with the car.

“People really asked you for hugs?” He sounds incredulous, and completely disbelieving. Kylo laughs, nodding.

“Yeah. Teenagers.” He wants to say that one of them turned redder than Hux tends to do, but he thinks that would give the game away. Hux scoffs at his answer, and Kylo can almost hear him sneering the word ‘ children ’, again.

“They were harmless.” Silence falls, again. Or, as much silence as there can be, in a car park being used as a car wash. Kylo doesn’t mind the silence, but he likes talking with Hux more, so,

“So, what about the twenty seventh?” He asks.

“Of which month?” Kylo looks over at Hux’s reply, wondering if maybe he’s got something.

“Any of them?”

“Twelve ‘no’s' from one question, very impressive.” The man says, drily, and Kylo laughs, going back to washing the car.

“December fourth?” Is also a no. Kylo keeps asking dates idly as he washes the car, but he still hasn’t guessed right by the time he’s finished.

“Do you need a lift home?” He asks, when Kylo declares himself done. He feels his heart jump into his throat, and the urge to say yes is so strong that he almost does. He wonders at how flustered he could get Hux in such an enclosed space. He wishes he was about to find out.

“Thanks, but I’ve got to help pack up, and then Poe and I are going to my Mum’s for dinner.” Hux nods, back painfully straight again, mouth in an uncomfortable line.

“Of course. I hope you have a nice time.” Kylo huffs a laugh at that, shaking his head.

“My Mother and I need a chaperone just to eat dinner together, so I’ll let you imagine how fun my night’s gonna be.” He does love his mother, dearly, they just… don’t agree on some things. Most things. It sucked, living at home for so long, and when the opportunity had come to rent his grandfather’s old house, he’d practically jumped at the chance. He’s sure he’d surprised his Uncle Luke with his enthusiasm. He got along with her much better now that he wasn’t living at home, but the regular dinners could be a bit… tense. Especially when his Dad was away, which was most of the time.

“Sounds almost as fun as lunch with my Father.” Hux has relaxed, a bit. He does that, sometimes. Becomes painfully stiff and stilted, and Kylo doesn’t know why, but is glad when the man softens, again. He much prefers embarrassed, blushing Hux.

So Hux leaves and, even though he hadn’t spent the entire car wash bright red and perpetually flustered, Kylo checks the interaction as a win.

 

 

“Any cute guys in your neighbourhood?” His Mum asks, that night at dinner. Kylo keeps eating dinner, shaking his head. He’s had so much practice at lying to his Mum, that he doesn’t even blink.

“Nah, everyone’s pretty old, you know?” He says, and Leia nods, before her eyes cut sideways to Poe, and she smirks.

“What do you think, Poe?” She asks, and Kylo knows he’s sunk. His best friend has idolised his mother pretty much since he met her, before she became a politician, back when she was still just working her way up through the military ranks.

“Old. They’re all very old. Practically walking corpses, every single one of them. I swear I could smell grave dirt the other day. Because they’re all so old, especially the people who live next to Kylo. Elderly. Ancient. Just… really old and not at all attractive.” He finishes, his expression begging someone to shut him up before he makes it worse, but it’s too late for that.

Leia levels Kylo a look, but doesn’t say anything further, just hums and moves the conversation along. He’s suspicious, but takes the reprieve gratefully. 

 

 

Things continue as they have been. Kylo runs every morning he’s not working, enjoying Hux’s attention during his morning stretch, and his company briefly during the weekends. He mows the lawns every fortnight. He sends Hux the occasional text, with a guess for his birthday, hoping one day he’ll have enough courage to send something else. He also continues to live in hope that maybe, one day, Hux will want to actually touch him, and not just look.

He knows he’s probably not the man’s ideal partner, isn’t anyone's ideal partner, but maybe.

One weekend, he has morning shifts both days, which he’d been trying to avoid, for reasons that he wasn’t about to explain to anyone he worked with. Thus, the morning shifts. He’d - it wasn’t panic, no matter what Poe said - he’d just… worried, a little bit, what would happen if he didn’t show up. It’s only a matter of two mornings, Hux shouldn’t lose interest that quickly but - Kylo isn’t that interesting.

He’d spent most of the week thinking about whether it was weird to tell Hux that he’d be working instead of running. They’d never actually, you know, said anything about Hux’s regular watering of Kylo. He’s talked about it with Poe quite a bit, who just rolls his eyes and says ‘that makes you sound like an exotic plant, Kylo, just talk to him.

Friday morning he’d left the water bottle on Hux’s porch, with a note underneath, as usual. Normally the notes read something like this - :) or thanks! or was really hot today, good idea . He’d contemplated sending his appreciation via text, a few times, before ultimately chickening out. Why change the routine? Don’t rock the boat, and everything can just… continue.

And now: working sat/sun, no need to water me. promise i’ll hydrate @ work :)

Which is why he spends the whole weekend low key panicking about whether he fucked everything up or not. It’s not like he’d written anything bad, or even remotely risque, he’d just… let Hux know he wasn’t going to be running, that weekend. So that Hux could save the water. It was the polite thing to do. His Mum would be proud.

He worries about Hux’s reaction, whether he even cares - whether he even actually reads the notes Kylo leaves him.

Monday morning, Kylo’s jittery as he steps out on his front porch, wondering if today’s the day that Hux is done with him. He can get eye candy anywhere, he doesn’t need to put up with Kylo’s presumptuousness. But Hux loiters on his front porch as usual, greets Kylo as usual, and when Kylo gets back from his run, the water bottle’s in it’s usual place. Relief swoops through his body, and he the smiley face on the note is drawn a bit more enthusiastically than usual.

The week continues as usual, no mention made of the missed days, and then it’s Saturday morning again. He’s looking forward to their usual routine, looking forward to the excuse to talk to Hux, to be allowed to smile and stare at the man while they talk without it seeming weird. At some point in the few, short, months he’s been living here, he’s managed to- he just. Shit. He likes Hux, okay. Like, a lot.

Too much, considering he barely knows the man.

He’s slowly gathering his courage to actually say something. It might take awhile to get there, but he’s sure he’ll have enough, one of these days. Maybe he’ll be bold enough to just ask him out, instead of talking around it. Kylo chuckles at the thought, before yawning widely as he steps out the front door, starting on his stretches without looking over to Hux just yet. He knows the other man’s there, can feel his heavy gaze.

Maybe Hux is just gathering his courage, too. Maybe he hopes that Kylo will be the one to make the first move, because he’s too easily flustered to do it himself. The dark haired man smiles at the thought, bending to touch his toes and get his first look at Hux for the morning. He does, freezes, good mood evaporating like early morning mist.

Hux isn’t alone.

There’s a blonde woman sitting next to him, chair pulled right up next to Hux’s, sharing the same blanket. Leaning over, whispering in his ear. And Hux smiles - a real, proper grin. Even upside down, it looks gorgeous. Even upside down, the woman looks gorgeous, too. Hux looks away, speaking quietly to the woman, and Kylo manages to unfreeze himself. He straightens, continues with his warm up, and thinks of all the possibilities.

She could be his sister. A long time friend. Any sort of relative. A close work colleague. All people who could feasibly be at Hux’s house at eight in the morning on a Saturday, clearly having spent the night. Sharing the same blanket as Hux. Maybe even drinking from the same mug, since Kylo’d only seen one.

Soon enough, Kylo’s finished his stretches, and he heads for the foot path, pasting a smile on his face as he does, waving up at Hux and the woman.

“Morning!” He calls, and Hux responds, as he usually does. The women nods at him. Kylo thinks about it as he sets off on his run. They could just be friends, he knows. But he could easily understand if they weren’t. She’s gorgeous, and looked great sitting next to Hux, even with the pair of them bundled up in a blanket.

He thinks about it, all through the first lap, trying to convince himself that they’re just friends. Just friends, nothing more, Kylo still has a chance.

The start of his second lap, a sound. One it takes him a few seconds to realise - Hux is laughing. It’s just a quick bark of laughter, stolen by the wind as he’s running, but it’s the first time he’s ever heard the man laugh. He powers through his next lap, thinking about how Hux sounds when he laughs.

The third lap - the porch is empty. Even the blanket and mug are gone. Hux has never left before the end of his run before. He’s clearly too busy with his friend - fuck, let’s be realistic, it’s probably his girlfriend - to have time to watch Kylo. He’ll probably be too busy to notice when Kylo finishes, as well. No water for Kylo today, not until he drags his ass inside and gets it himself.

Because Hux doesn’t, actually, care. He probably does think that Kylo’s a fucking exotic plant, something that he’ll forget about for a few weeks, surprised but unconcerned when he finds it withered and lifeless.

The next few laps are lost in a haze of anger and jealousy and, worst of all, pain. It’s so fucking stupid, all of it. He’s jealous and angry over being jealous, and angry because he doesn’t even know, for certain. He’s hurting because, even if she’s not his girlfriend, what had Kylo been thinking? That he could ever be good enough for Hux? Who owned his own three story house, and dressed in sharp suits, and looked down his nose at everyone.

He and Hux weren’t anything, not really - they were neighbours who didn’t hate each other. Hux was someone who liked the way Kylo’s body looked, and he’d let the attention go to his head so much that he’d started building an elaborate fantasy where Hux secretly liked him back. How fucking pathetic was that?

God, he’s such a fucking idiot. Maybe Hux is just shy, he’d thought - no, he just wasn’t interested. Because they both know that Hux is way out of Kylo’s league, in every way. And he’d thought, hoped - dreamed - fuck, what does it matter.

He never had a chance, and the only difference now is that he knows it.

He was a fool for ever getting his hopes up.

Kylo doesn’t know how many laps he’s done by the time he falls over in a heap on his front lawn, but it’s more than he’s been doing lately, even on the weekends. He had to run his feelings out, otherwise he probably would have done something stupid. He’d felt the urge to do something stupid, to lash out, when he’d been running, hurt and angry. Instead of giving in to his rampaging emotions, the way he used to do, he’d just kept running.

And now he’s exhausted, laid out on his front lawn, panting like an animal as he tried to regain his breath. He thinks he might throw up, actually, too much exercise and too little water.

Something hard taps at his side, and Kylo opens his eyes, stares at the grass under his face, because that had felt familiar. The tap comes again, harder, and Kylo rolls over to see Hux standing above him, holding out the water bottle. He’s dressed, now, in smart trousers and a dress shirt.

“What did I tell you about collapsing on the lawn.” Hux scolds him, and Kylo huffs in vague amusement, taking the water bottle. He hadn’t bothered looking over when he’d arrived back, doesn’t know if Hux had been waiting on the porch, but when he flicks his eyes over, the lady’s seated there again. Kylo unscrews the lid, doesn’t bother to sit up, though he’s careful about not pouring water up his nose this time.

The water feels fucking devine, sliding down his throat. God, he’s fucking thirsty. He has to prop himself up on an elbow to stop drinking though, otherwise the rest of the water would go all over his face. He’s still breathing heavily, looking down at the water bottle instead of up at Hux, worried that his stupid feelings would be all over his stupid face if he looked up.

“You don’t usually run this much.” Hux says, and Kylo shrugs, finally tilting his head up to look at Hux, affecting the look of nonchalance he’d perfected whilst living with his parents.

“Stepped up the routine.” His voice is unsteady, but Kylo’s going to blame that on his still uneven breath.

“You may have overdone it.” Hux’s voice is as dry as ever, and Kylo rolls his eyes.

“Go hard or go home, Hux.” He says, and blinks as an idea sparks to life inside his brain. It’s not a smart idea - in fact, it’s a horrible idea, but he wants to do it, anyway. God, he’s a horrible fucking person for even thinking of it, let alone actually entertaining the idea. But if it worked, if he could pull it off, it’d be worth it.

“Seems like you did both.” Hux quips, and Kylo grins up at him, hoping that it doesn’t look as predatory as it feels.

“A well thought out plan.” Kylo agrees, before asking if Hux wants any more water. He declines, as he usually does, and Kylo sets his plan into action. If Hux looks, watches him with the same hunger he usually does, then he’ll do it, he’ll put the plan into action. If he doesn’t, lust gone from his gaze under the watchful eyes of his girlfriend then that’s it - Kylo will stop trying.

Kylo shoves the water bottle between his thighs, pulls off his sweaty singlet, and scrubs at his face with it. After a few moments, he throws it onto the grass and tilts his head back, picking up the water bottle. Then, with carefully calculated casualness, he tilts his head back, and upends the water all over himself. This is only the second time he’s ever done it, too wary of Hux catching on, or the trick losing it’s effect.

Squinting through his barely open eyes, Kylo feels dark satisfaction curl in his gut, along with the first sparks of arousal. Hux is watching the water trail down his chest with obvious want, pupils blown, nostrils flared. He still wants Kylo, even with his girlfriend only a few meters away.

“I don’t even want to move. You’re right, I totally over did it.” He laughs, wiping at his eyes before opening them properly, smiling up at Hux. He makes sure this smile is as innocent and carefree as it could possibly be, staring sunnily up at Hux’s bright red face. God, the man blushes so easily, it’s wonderful. His face is blank, though, almost angry - his usual go to when he’s trying to pretend he hadn’t just been staring, Kylo’s found.

“And you still have lawns to mow.” Kylo groans at the reminder, and flops back on the grass, stretching out, wriggling about. Hux’s face stays carefully blank as he watches Kylo, but there’s something delightfully possessive in his gaze anyway.

“Go inside Kylo, before you burn.” Hux says sharply, command in his voice, grabbing the bottle as he stomps back over to his house. Kylo smirks at the man’s retreating back, glad the man was too busy being cross to notice the way he’d shivered at Hux’s voice. God, whenever he sounds like that Kylo just wants to drop to his knees.

Kylo stays in the grass for a few minutes longer, thinking about his plan to seduce Hux, even though he had a girlfriend. Morally, the plan is abhorrent. If Poe ever finds out he’s doing it, he’s going to give Kylo those sad, disappointed eyes. But his friend doesn’t need to know about it, to help out. Poe just has to be himself - a wonderful friend - and he’ll help enough. He’s going to drive Hux insane with wanting, with lust - make him so hot for Kylo that he can’t help but reach out and touch.

Kylo knows he’ll never have Hux, not truly, but just one night should be enough. He can get it out of hs system, move on. Besides, the man’s probably too stodgy to be really good in bed, but Kylo won’t know unless he fucks him. Won’t be able to get over his massive, stupid, useless bundle of feelings for the man until he does. And than after that, after he finds out that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, he can get on with his life.

He’s planning on seducing an older man who’s currently talking with his girlfriend on the porch, and his mother would be ashamed of him, but Kylo doesn't care. He just wants his one night, and then he can put this entire fucking debacle behind him.

He’s sure that’ll be enough - who needs more than one night, anyway?

Not Kylo.