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Close Quarters

Chapter Text

Hux bit into a piece of fruit as he watched the workers paint Ren’s shuttle.

The classic black slowly disappeared into a tacky looking shade of silver. The Upsilon-class vessel already had its First Order numbers and signs removed, but it wasn’t like the paint was hiding anything. It still very clearly looked like an old Imperial ship, even if the new color was less threatening by a slim margin. But it was still “perfectly functional” as Ren had put it, so it was their home for now and that was that.

Hux read between the lines, of course, and heard the “I like this ship, it’s mine, and I’m keeping it” that dear Ren chose not to vocalize. Part of Hux wondered if he should be jealous, but then again, the ship wasn’t the only thing from the First Order Ren had decided he’d liked and was keeping, now was it?

He finished off his fruit, and tossed it in a bin behind him. Ren’s cowl was heavy around his shoulders, the black fabric warm in the chilly air. Mygeeto wasn’t exactly his first choice for a stop to refuel and gather themselves, but he supposed it was functional enough. Hux walked through the hanger, glancing at the other ships that were docked as their pilots and crew visited the urban planet.

Ren had another hour before he was due back with supplies, which gave Hux time to himself. Not that he had much to do aside from look at shuttles and ships parked next to his own.

Hux rubbed the side of his head. Their entire mission was drowning in aimless wandering because they had no leads on where Snoke had buried himself in the universe. Even the remainder of the Knights of Ren were laying low. It was hard to plan to kill someone when you didn’t know a thing about where they were, or how to get there. Ren himself wasn’t helping either, because he was enjoying his “vacation.”

“I spent five years working undercover, hating myself because I wasn’t making any progress, stuck thinking about all the awful things I had to do in the name of the First Order,” Ren had said one night while they were lying together. He had squeezed Hux and breathed deeply. “I think I’m entitled to a few months off to recuperate, don’t you think?”

Hux had agreed, on the condition he was still allowed to plan all he wanted. Ren had agreed, the awful man, because he knew Hux couldn’t get anywhere without his ability to track with the Force. So instead, Hux was stuck helping Ren with domestic things like getting his ship painted and gathering up a new set of belongings to replace what he’d thrown out, or that Hux needed to flat out replace (having all of it being left behind).

It’d only been two weeks since they’d left the Resistance base and Hux was already tired of having nothing to do.

“Now there’s a relic if I’ve ever seen one,” Hux said, stopping in his walk. He crossed his arms looking at the large, plate-shaped freighter sitting in the hanger. It was a tad smaller than their own Shuttle (when the wings were expanded, anyway), but still fairly large. Everything on it looked like it was falling apart, and the lack of maintenance was appauling. “I wonder if it can even fly.”

“You better believe it can,” a stern voice said from Hux’s side. He turned and met the eyes of a smug looking man in a heavy, brown leather jacket and a pistol on his hip. There was a small cage at his feet, holding one of the oddest looking lizards Hux had ever seen. The man waved at his ship with a finger raised. “She is perfectly functional.”

Hux blinked at the familiar statement, before pressing his lips together tightly. The man looked as old as his decrepit ship, but he knew better than to say it when the man’s hand was on his blaster. Not that it stopped Hux from getting in a dig; he was that bored. “I suppose there’s something to be said for all maintenance going to function over appearance.”

“I would,” the man said, looking up at his freighter.

There was love and affection in that gaze, and it was (oddly enough) very familiar. Hux had time to kill, so he investigated a tad further. “Are you a cargo pilot?”

“Something like that,” the stranger said. He looked over Hux and glanced around. “You looking to hire one?”

“No. Forgive me if the question was misleading,” Hux said. He straightened Ren’s cowl around his neck, once more. He liked the thing, but it never fell right where he wanted it to. “I’m a very bored tourist waiting for my companion to come back with supplies for our trip, and conversation seemed like a good way to pass the time.”

“I can understand that,” the man said, looking down the row of ships. “Which bird is yours?”

“His,” Hux corrected. His ship was the Finalizer and it was somewhere far away at the moment. “The ship belongs to my companion, I’m just riding in it.”

He did not point out which one it was. Hux wasn’t too worried about First Order spies in this area of space, but you couldn’t be too careful. At least barely anyone in the Republic knew what he looked like. It made traveling easier, and if all else failed, Ren could use a mind trick.

“Just the two of you?” The man asked.

“Yes, and we can handle ourselves just fine,” Hux said. The man kept staring at him, with that “I’m onto you look” Hux also recognized from somewhere. The similarities were unnerving, and Hux couldn’t quite put his finger on who they reminded him of. His comm link pinged, distracting him from his thoughts. “Speaking of, that would be my companion now.”

Typically, Ren didn’t bother with the comms. They were more of a formality than anything. Ren always knew where Hux was with the Force, so he’d come hunt him down when the man needed something. Maybe he was delayed and wanted to let Hux know? “What is it, Ren?”

“Hux! Thank the stars,” Ren said, sounding relieved on the other end of the mic. “You just disappeared all of a sudden, and you’re not at the ship. Where are you?”

“I’m not even twenty yards away from the shuttle,” Hux said, looking up. He could see Ben in front of their ship, his hand in his hair and body leaning its weight on one leg in a nervous gesture. Hux frowned. “For goodness sake, I can see you right now. What are you talking about?”

“You can see me?”

“Look left.”

Ren turned and Hux could see the gape from here. The man jogged across the shuttle bay, his hair whipping across his face as he shoved his comm in his pocket. Hux did the same, sighing heavily. Just what had gotten into him now?

“Is that Ben?” The man behind Hux asked. As Ren approached, the man grinned and put his hand son his hips. “Well I’ll be damned. It is!”

Ren came to a sliding halt next to Hux before whipping his head to the side. HIs eyes widened to a comical degree. “Dad?”

Hux felt very strongly that he had missed something.

“I can not believe you’re shipping Ysalamiri,” Ben said, pointing his finger toward the cargo hold where they’d shoved it as far away from the main deck as possible. Ten meters. They eliminated the Force’s ability to influence for ten entire meters. No wonder Hux had blinked out of existence; he’d been standing within one of their bubbles. “There is a reason we try so hard to keep them limited to their native planet.”

“Look, someone wanted one, so I got one,” Han said, holding his hands up. “You know how this business works.”

“And what if your client is working for the First Order and they got that thing to fight me?” Ben asked, crossing his arms. What his dad got up to on his own time was one thing, but when it came to matters of the Force he’d promised to let Luke and Ben handle it. This counted. Ben leaned toward his dad. “Then what?”

“Oh, please. That’s not what this is about. You were panicking because you couldn’t sense your buddy here any more,” Han said, pointing at Hux at his seat at their table next to Chewbacca. Hux had a distinct look of irritation that said he hated everything about this situation, which was only furthering Han’s suspicions that something was up. “Which by the way, raises a whole lot of new questions, staring with: Who is he that’s so important you’re keeping constant tabs on him with the Force?”

“I’m not keeping constant tabs on him,” Ren said, lying. Hux and his dad both raised an eyebrow at him, but he owned his lie. “I was just checking up because a lot of people are looking for us, and it’s nice to know he’s fine.”

“You still didn’t answer the ‘Who is he?’ part of my question,” Han said.

“You can’t tell mom,” Ben said, standing up straight. He hadn’t even thought about that part. Dad was never around, but that didn’t mean he didn’t call. Ben’s hand formed a fist. “I mean it. I need you to swear on your smuggler’s profession that you won’t tell her.”

“Is this something your mom is going to want to know?” Han asked.

“Maybe,” Ben said.

Han turned on his “You’re in trouble young man” voice when he said, “Ben.”

“Okay, this has gone on long enough.” Hux got up from his seat, and walked across the room. He grabbed Han’s hand and shook it. “Hello there, my name is Armitage Hux and I’m sleeping with your son. Forgive him, but he’s embarrassed about it and doesn’t want his dear mother to know he’s in a relationship with an Imperial brat.”

Ben didn’t know if he wanted to throttle Hux or kiss him, because that was one brilliant lie that was still half-true. Just replace “Imperial descendant” with “First Order High Officer Ben was harboring from the New Republic” and it amounted to the same thing. But at least the part about Hux being a descendent of the old Empire was also true.

“I see,” Han said. He kept holding Hux’s hand, but pointed at Ben with the other. “Weren’t you undercover for five years? When’d you have time to meet anybody?”

“While undercover, obviously,” Hux said, answering yet again. He seemed more than content to take charge of the conversation and get this over with. Hux even smiled, turning on the social charm he’d use in meetings with his crew. “Trust me when I say no one was more surprised than I was to find out that my Ben was the Ben Solo.”

“Then why’d you call him ‘Ren’ earlier?” Han asked.

“Well, habits are hard to break when that’s the name you know a person by for that long,” Hux said. He yanked his hand out of Han’s hold and took a few steps back toward Ben. He crossed his arms and held his chin high. “So as far as I’m concerned, that’s his name.”

“Sure,” Han said. He looked at Ben for a second before looking Chewie in the eyes. Ben knew that look. It was the same one his dad got every time he was about to say something to intentionally make mom bicker with him. Han did not disappoint.“Starting to see why you’d want to hide this one from your mom.”

“He’s sort of like Leia isn’t he? He likes taking charge.” Uncle Chewie said in Shyriiwook, adding in his two cents. “I bet they wouldn’t last ten minutes in a room together without fighting.”

“Tell me about it,” Ben muttered to himself.

“If I’m being insulted, I do hope you’ll tell me about it,” Hux said, glaring at Ben.

“Oh, man. He’s even got Leia’s angry glare.” Han laughed. He slapped his hand on his thigh, still snickering. “You miss your mom that much undercover?”

“Excuse me?” Hux asked.

The insults about Ben’s mother were on the tip of his tongue, festering from years of hatred and Ben knew immediately he had to shut Hux up before he blew his own entire made up cover out of the water with First Order propaganda level declarations of hatred about the Resistance leader, all because of the sheer level of offense he felt at being compared to her.

(That his mother would be equally outraged to be compared to General Hux was an irony not lost on Ben, either.)

“Dad, come on,” Ben said, taking a step in front of to cut him off. He smacked the back of his knuckles on the table. “The only thing he shares in common with mom is the same thing he shares with me, and you for that matter: a short temper. So you can give it a rest.”

“Fine, no more teasing the boyfriend,” Han said. He took Hux’s abandoned seat next to Chewie and crossed his arms on the table. Ben stood next to Hux across from the two of them, and it felt like he was on trial with his father and uncle both giving him a “look.” Han nodded toward Hux. “Though I am sort of impressed you had the time to fool around in between everything he had you doing as Kylo Ren.”

“As I told mom, who I know told you, part of my problem was that Snoke gave missions sporadically, which meant I had a lot of downtime too far away to do anything,” Ben said. He dragged his fingers through the back of his hair, straightening it. “Is it that crazy that I might have met someone when I had nothing else to do?”

Hux played with the edge of Ben’s cape, a tiny smile tugging at the edge of his lips.

“No,” Han said. He crossed his arms on the table and rubbed the side of his chin. “But I do want to know the real reason you don’t want your mother to know, because you two are horrible liars.”

“We could just leave,” Hux said, turning to Ben with an aloof look. He straightened his shoulders into a parade rest on instinct. “I mean, your mother already knows you ran off with some stranger, so at the moment he knows exactly what she does, so it’s not like he can tell her anything more useful unless we tell him more.”

“That answers a question I hadn’t gotten to yet,” Han said. He leaned heavily on the table, dropping his shoulders. He looked tired, and Ben’s gut squirmed. He could feel his dad’s concerns building up in the Force. “Your mother said you showed up after five years, helped take down that First Order monstrosity, and then you split out of there almost immediately.”

“She’s worried,” Chewie added.

“I know,” Ben said. He dragged a hand down his face, and Hux had decided that something on the wall was very interesting. “There are things I need to do, and I’m not sure she’d understand.”

“I know she can be intimidating, but she’s still your mother, Ben,” Han said. His father’s face softened and he dragged his hand through his hair. “She missed you like crazy these past five years, and I can promise you she’s still angry at Luke for keeping that whole undercover thing a secret. I am, too. So whatever is bothering you, she’ll understand, especially if it gets you to come back home.”

“It looks like you two need to talk,” Hux said, breaking into the conversation. He looked tense and was clutching tight to Ben’s old cape. He held a hand up and nodded. “It was a pleasure to meet you, but I think I’ll just wait for Ren in our shuttle while you two catch up. If you’ll excuse me.”

Hux left the cabin without another word, escaping back into the main shuttle bay.

“You sure know how to pick them,” Han said.

Ben sat on Chewie’s other side and buried his face in his hands. “Shut up, dad.”

Hux entered the small quarters of the shuttle and collapsed on the bed. He yanked the cape off and tossed it on the chair, rolling on his side in the same motion. Hux kicked off his boots and contemplated changing into his night clothes or getting a light dinner first before he locked himself in the room. Hux had no intentions of leaving the sleeping quarters for the rest of the night, even if Ren dragged his father and the wookie back for a tour.

Of all the people they could have run into while restocking and refueling.

“Han Solo, hero of the rebellion,” Hux said to himself.

He knew all about the famous smuggler pilot who married a Princess and “saved the galaxy.” The fall of the Empire was a large part of Hux’s studies under his father’s tutelage. One must learn from the past to rise above it, and that meant knowing the key points.

“Ren’s father,” Hux said.

He hadn’t put much thought into Ren’s parents outside of sheer disbelief that the man was who he said he was. It was hard enough to comprehend that Hux had been sleeping with his greatest enemy’s son, let alone process that Ren had parents at all. Lord Ren, at first, had seemed like this monster that had spawned from nothing in the darkness. He was dangerous and aloof as though he were above them all. And then later, Ren was simply a man that stayed by Hux’s side. Where he had come from before didn’t matter when he was such a reliable and comforting figure.

But now it rather did.

As much as he hated to admit, Hux sympathized a bit with Ren’s wretched mother. When Lord Ren revealed his betrayal, Hux had felt like his heart was ripped out. He’d never felt such pain in his life, and even the past cruelty of his father hadn’t come close to the ache he’d felt. If it had hurt that badly to Hux, a man who had only come to care for Ren recently, how much worse had it been for his mother when Ben Solo “killed” all those Jedi and joined the First Order?

It had been a lie, but Leia Organa and Han Solo hadn’t known that. To them, it had simply been a betrayal of the worst sort.

And now that Ren could go home, he had chosen to leave again to stay with Hux instead. It was roughy the equivalent of what Ren had tried to do when he hoped to escape from the First Order alone in his shuttle, an act that had he actually done, Hux would have never forgiven him for it. And now the man had gone and done much the same to his mother.

Hux rolled over and covered his head with his arms. It wasn’t like he wanted to be turned over to the Resistance, but all the same. Ren really should have stayed home with his parents. But then Hux wouldn’t have him all to himself. And that was the end goal now, wasn’t it? Convert Ren back over to the First Order for good?

He hated how hard it was to keep that mindset with the knowledge that Ren’s father was sitting with the man now, probably begging the boy to come home.

“I refuse to feel guilty over Ren’s choices,” Hux said under his breath. “He chose me, and that’s all there is to it.”

But the look in Han Solo’s eyes when he said that Ben’s mother was worried haunted him all the same.

Ben was drunk.

He wasn’t sure how his dad talked him into drinking, but he did. And Uncle Chewie had not helped things at all. That laughing wookie was refiling his glass even now with his fifth or sixth shot. Ben drank it down, tossing it back like he was drowning.

Ben hated being drunk; he couldn’t stop talking and there was only one person on his mind.

“He’s like,” Ben said. He slammed his glass on the table and threw his hands up. “Hux is like. A genius, okay? The man’s brilliant. A total workaholic, but brilliant. And he’s really good with his crew, and he fixes problems, and somehow Hux is always on time. I’ve never seen him be late to anything in the five years I’ve known him. He’s really, really good at his job. Made me want to strangle him some days when he’d fix one of my sabotages almost as soon as I’d done them. It was impressive. He’s impressive.”

“You’ve mentioned,” his father said, drinking much slower. He was smiling though, which was nice. Ben hadn’t seen that in years and he missed it. He sniffed a bit and stared into the bottom of his glass. Ben really missed it. Han reached over and patted Ben on the arm. “I keep hearing a ‘but’ coming up, though.”

“He’s got a nice butt, too,” Ben said, holding a finger up. His dad laughed and Ben frowned, running the sentence through his mind a second time. “Oh, you meant the other kind.”

“Yeah, the part where you explain why you don’t want to invite him home to dinner,” Han said.

“He’s evil,” Ben said, staring straight ahead. The liquor felt like it was exaggerating his words, but it seemed like the most appropriate way to sum it up. “Like actually evil.”

“Evil’s a strong word, kiddo,” Han said, sinking down into seat. He stole a glance with Uncle Chewie that Ben didn’t like.

But he should probably know this if Ben was coming clean over Hux.

He leaned forward across the table. Ben put his arms on the table, knocking into his cup. He used the Force to catch it and the alcohol before it hit the floor. Ben let it hover there and whispered when his dad leaned in closer. “He designed Starkiller base. That thing was his idea. He really, really wanted to fire it.”

“The weapon that was going to blow up five planets?”

“That one.” Ben put the cup on the table with a wave of his fingers, and pushed it into the middle of the table. “He really hates the New Republic. He used to talk about the ways he’d kill mom if he ever met her. His favorite daydream was killing mom execution style and I’m upset that I know that. That was his idea of pillow talk when he wasn’t practicing speeches about the fall of the Republic.”

Or telling Ben genuine sweet nothings when he thought Ben was asleep.

“Sounds like a catch,” Han said, grimacing and pouring himself a refill.

“What do you see in him again?” Chewie asked.

“I saw Hux,” Ben said. He slumped in his chair, cradling his glass. “The real Hux. The man who was so lonely his only choice for company was another man who hated him. The Hux who was still terrified of his father, even when he held all the power as General. I saw someone so incredibly proud and trusting of his troops, that he had total faith in them in a way that I barely see on our own side in this war.

“I saw a man who wanted to save me from myself, even though he wasn’t sure he was actually helping. But he tired so hard,” Ben licked his lips. He remembered every worried thought and how they tugged at his heart. Hux had cared so much and Ben had taken advantage of it and he still felt guilty some nights. Ben leaned his head back, staring at the ceiling. He closed his eyes. “Hux is the same man who loved it when I tortured people, but he liked it just as much when I smiled. He’s a man who’d watch billions die without a second thought, but worried like crazy when I punched a wall and busted my knuckles. He’s horrible and amazing at the same time and I don’t know what to do about him.”

“You really love this guy, huh?” Han said.

“Yeah,” Ben said. He squeezed his cup. He loved Hux. Had he ever really said that before? He didn’t know, but his heart told him it was true. “I really do and I don’t want mom to throw him in jail forever or worse.”

“How about this,” Han said. He brushed his hair back and breathed out. “Let’s make a deal.”

“A deal?”

“I won’t tell your mother,” Han said, “on the condition you two let me tag along to wherever you’re going. I want to decide for myself if this guy is worth all the trouble you’re putting into him.”

“What if you don’t like him?” Ben asked.

“Then I tell your mother everything, and then she’ll put the fear of the Force into the guy, scaring him into a path of righteousness,” Han said, smiling.

Ben snorted and filled up his cup one last time. “Don’t you have a delivery to make?”

“I do!” Han said. He got up and ruffled Ben’s hair, kissing the top of his son’s head. “And you technically don’t have to be anywhere, so you can tag along. It’ll be a regular family trip, don’t you think Chewie?”

Chewie got up from the table and waved his hand as he headed for the sleeping quarters. “Can’t wait.”

“You ought to turn in too, Ben,” Han said. “Though you’ll probably be sleeping on the couch after all that if he really is anything like your mother.”

“Nah,” Ben said. He stood up from the table, grabbing the side when he wobbled a bit too much. He was definitely drunk. Ben sucked in a breath. “Hux likes to cuddle.”

“Too much information,” Han said. He held Ben by the arm, and rubbed it a few times. “Can you get back to your shuttle?”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll see you tomorrow, dad,” Ben said. He stumbled over and hugged his father, squeezing tight. He bumped their heads together. “I missed you.”

“Missed you too, son,” Han said. He squeezed Ben back and slapped him hard on the back. “I am calling your mother to let her know you’re with me, though. I can do that at least, can’t I?”

“I’m sure she’ll be glad to hear it,” Ben said. He raised his hand and headed for the ramp.

Now, Ben had to go back to Hux and hope he wasn’t angry.

Ren slipped into bed late into the night, wrapping his arms around Hux and burying his face into his back.

“You smell like liquor,” Hux said, rolling over. He would have scolded the man for waking Hux up, but that would have been a lie. They both knew Hux had stayed awake waiting for Ren to come back. Ren moved with him, snuggling up with a wide yawn. Hux petted his hair and sighed. “You’re very drunk, Ren.”

“Blame dad,” Ren muttered. He pulled the covers up with the Force and tangled their legs together. “And Uncle Chewie.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drunk,” Hux said thoughtfully. It hadn’t even crossed his mind, considering he wasn’t exactly a heavy drinker himself. Ren was certainly more clingy this way though. The man was attached around Hux like a leech.

“Couldn’t afford to be before,” Ren said. He kissed Hux’s neck, but it was gentle and sleepy. A token of affection more than a wish for something more; a motion becoming more and more often lately on Ren’s part. Hux squeezed him closer and Ren smiled. “This is nice.”

“I suppose it is,” Hux said, fingers still tangled in Ren’s hair. They breathed together for a while, and Hux broke the silence with a stupid question. “Did you have a good time with your father?”

“Was good to see him, though I don’t think he likes you very much,” Ren said.

Hux drew circles on Ren’s scalp. “I’m sure the bad first impression didn’t help.”

“Good thing we’ve got time to change his mind,” Ren mumbled. He rubbed Hux’s back through his night shirt, digging his fingers in. “He wants us to go with him on his Ysalamiri delivery to get to know you.”

“Joy,” Hux said. He brushed out Ren’s hair with his fingers and scowled into the pillow. He didn’t want to trail around with Ren’s parents in the slightest, but it’d be good for Ren to see the man. Not everyone hated their fathers, after all. The things Hux did for Ren. “I’m sure that’ll be a delight.”

“Just admit you’re going to hate it.”

Hux kissed the side of Ren’s head. “I’m going to hate every second of family bonding time.”

“Knew it.” Ren laughed, shoulders shaking. He scooted up and kissed Hux, pressing their noses together. “I really love you.”

“Oh,” Hux said.

“Night,” Ren said. He dropped his head onto Hux’s shoulder and exhaled deeply before dropping out like a light into a drunken sleep.

Hux clutched the back of Ren’s head, fingers tight in his hair as he held the man close. His heart wasn’t ready for that, and it was beating far too loudly.

The morning couldn’t come soon enough.

Chapter Text

Hux sat between the Wookie and Solo the elder, glaring a hole into the table. Ren looked at him apologetically from the other side of the room, but did nothing to intervene. Hux had been cornered into the seat while the ship was on Auto-Pilot, and there was nothing he could do to slip out from his chair without drawing extra attention.

He could be sitting in his (albeit small) quarters reading or mapping out areas in the galaxy most likely to hide Snoke, but Han Solo had insisted they take the trip in the Falcon, leaving their “too conspicuous” Upsilon Shuttle in a rented hanger bay. Ren (the traitor) hadn’t even argued it.

“The Falcon can comfortably carry six people in addition to cargo, and our shuttle really was only made for three or four, five if you push it. Chewie needs the space of two, so this works better,” he had said. Ren had gave Hux a half hug while they packed a change of clothes and patted his back. “It’ll be like a week trip tops. It’ll be fine.”

Easy to say for the man who spook Shyriiwook.

Hux swore every time that Wookie opened his mouth to growl and moan in that blasted language, he was making a smart remark about Hux. The amused look on Solo’s face said as much, and Ren’s confirmed it when he bit his lip to stop from smiling. Hux gripped his fists under the table and resisted making a snappy remark about someone translating.

“So, Ben tells me you were a big man in the First Order,” Solo said, moving one of the pieces on the game board that was their table. The wookie returned the move and Hux had already figured out six ways either of them could win. Solo hummed. “That right?”

“I was a General second to only the Supreme Leader,” Hux said. He hardly felt like his prior title wearing Ren’s old cape around his shoulders over a borrowed plain shirt and tan slacks; a far cry from his old uniform, but he still had his pride. “So yes, I would say I was fairly high up in the ranks.”

“And now you’re here,” the man said, smirking.

“Yes,” Hux said. He grabbed his pants leg, twisting his fingers into the fabric. “Now I’m here.”

“If I heard correctly, you could be dead,” Solo said. He leaned back into his seat, crossing his legs under the table. “So here isn’t so bad, is it?”

“If your son had listened to me when I told him not to be stupid, we could both be celebrating the destruction of the New Republic, so I don’t think theoretical scenarios are really anyone’s friend at the moment.” Hux sat his elbows on the outside edge of the table. “Don’t you think?”

“Pretty sure he wouldn’t be celebrating anything, even if he had stayed for that,” Solo said. The man made a move on the game board, eyes narrowed. Hux did not miss the tap of his fingers against the blaster on his leg. “Not at the cost of billions of lives.”

“He expressed his reservations, certainly,” Hux said. Even while undercover Ren had displayed reluctance over the weapon’s firing. Hux had thought it was a good thing at the time. He was supportive, but wary. Something that was typically good when dealing with something that high risk. But he really should have seen it for the sign of betrayal that it was. ”So I’m sure you’re very proud of him.”

The Wookie growled and whined something, and Hux fought to keep the wince off his face as it echoed loudly in his ear.

“Damn right we’re proud of him,” Solo said.

Hux ground his teeth together. “Wonderful.”

“Who’s the Ysalalmir for?” Ren asked, flicking off the tabletop game. Hux felt grateful for the distraction, though there was no way to voice it. Ren tapped his father on the shoulder to get him to scoot over for Ren to sit. It forced Hux to sit closer to the Wookie, and any gratitude he felt was immediately dismissed. “You never mentioned the client.”

“Some rare animal collector,” Solo said. He leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms. Solo rested his head against the back rest. “Far as I know, he’s just looking to stick the thing in a cage and forget about it.”

“Seems harmless enough if it’s true,” Ren said.

“It’s good you can check then,” Hux said. He smiled a bit, thinking back to better days. Despite Ren revealing he had less painful ways of gathering information, it was hard to beat memories of men screaming as Ren ripped the information from their heads. Hux tapped the side of the table. “Assuming your father is smart enough to leave the beast on the ship while we first meet the client, you’re the best lie detector around.”

“The Force can be good for that,” Solo said.

“Among other things,” Hux said, still thinking of interrogation rooms. Ren narrowed his eyes; Hux recalled a lovely occasion where Ren threw someone through a wall with the Force. It was only fair after Ren didn’t save him from having to sit next to the Wookie. And Hux considered himself behaving keeping his thoughts (more or less) clean of more embarrassing topics. “Though, at the moment that’s the most relevant.”

“Right,” Solo said. He crossed his arms on the table and hummed. “So how’d you two hook up again?”

Hux covered his eyes and sighed. So much for changing the topic.

Ben had never had daydreams about killing his dad before, but there was always time to try something new.

Hux had buried himself under a stack of blankets in the bunk above him, absolutely refusing to share a bed with Ben after he spent the entire evening interrogated by good old Han Solo. Torture was only fun when it happened to someone else, apparently. Ben had tried to apologize, but Hux would hear none of it. He was still mortified Ben’s dad had asked if they’d used the Force in bed.

Han had let up a bit after that when Ben yelled at him, but the damage had been done. There was little Hux hated more than being embarrassed.

“Can’t sleep?” Ben asked, turning on his side.

“You’d only know that if you were in my head, which I do not appreciate right now,” Hux said.

Ben covered his eyes, keeping his voice low. The walls were thin in this place, and Han and Chewie were in the bunks nearby. “I’m not reading your mind, I can just feel it buzzing from here. It’s gives off a particular energy when you’re thinking actively.”

“I think you’re making that up.”



Ben threw his blanket off. The petulant tone of voice was begging to bicker, and if they were both going to be awake, they might as well make the most of it. He swung up to the top bunk, falling on top of Hux’s pile of blankets.

Hux looked over the top of his blanket, tugging his pillow tighter to his chest. “What are you doing?”

“I decided conversation with the bottom of a metal bunk was less than satisfactory,” Ben said. He stayed on top of the blankets, and turned on his side. Hux glared at him, but there was no real fire behind it. “Much better face to face.”

Hux stared at him for a few more seconds before he gave in. He tugged the blankets out from under Ren and covered them both with it, though he didn’t go in for the embrace just yet. Hux drew a circle on Ben’s stomach. “I rather don’t like your father.”

“I knew that before you met him,” Ben said.

The man traced Ben’s ribs, the touch light. Hux frowned. “I still can’t believe how improper his questions were. Even for a smuggler I expected better with his son in the room.”

“He’s typically not that bad about the subject,” Ben said. He’d heard his father was a bit more promiscuous in his youth, but had toned it down once he’d met the love of his life. Then most of his conversations were more about how amazing Leia was in general over just their sex life (to Ben’s relief). “But he’s got good instincts and when he saw it flustered you, he played it up to get a reaction. He can be ruthless when he wants to be.”

“Is that were you got it?” Hux asked, scooting a little closer. He slipped his arms around Ben, hugging them close with thoughts focused on terrified captured soldiers awaiting interrogation. He liked how much Ben would talk during them, often getting victims to break without the Force. Hux grinned into Ben’s shoulder. “I seem to recall you being fairly famous for that.”

“You do know Kylo Ren was mostly an act, don’t you?” Ben asked, holding the back of Hux’s head. “I took no pleasure in what I was doing, most of the time I just wanted to get it over with.”

“I wonder about that sometimes,” Hux said, mumbling a bit as sleep began to tug at him. He kissed the underside of Ben’s jaw. “You were awfully convincing at that act, for none of it to be a true part of you.”

“Maybe,” Ben admitted. “Though that might not be something you wish for, considering how often I wanted to turn all that brutality you loved so much on the First Order. Perhaps you should be glad Kylo Ren is dead.”

Hux tugged the covers closer around them as he snuggled into Ben. His fingers tightened in Ben’s hair. “Go to sleep, Ren. You’ve become delirious with exhaustion.”

Ben kissed Hux’s forehead. “Good night, Hux.”

“Sleep,” Hux whispered back, so Ben did.

Hux left Ren asleep in the bunk, dressed and ready for the day before the sixth hour of the morning. A lifetime of keeping a strict schedule would not be lost so easily just because he suddenly had no schedule to keep. Hux tugged the blanket over Ren’s bare shoulder before he left the room.

He helped himself to the galley, making a pot of coffee and a light breakfast. The pantry was barely stocked, but it had enough. Hux wondered what Ren would want when he was interrupted by an intruder.

“Should have figured a military brat would be up at the crack of dawn,” Solo said, yawning into his hand. The Wookie was nowhere to be found and Hux thanked the powers that be he only had one annoyance to deal with. Solo stretched his arms. “Ben still asleep?”

“Yes,” Hux said. He almost offered the man a cup of coffee to be polite, but thought better of it remembering the evening before.

Solo could get his own cup of coffee.

“You know, normally I’ve got a pretty good read on people,” Solo said. He leaned on the counter, popping a piece of bread into a toaster. “But you? You’re a hard guy to read. Makes it difficult to see what you’re really up to.”

“Perhaps you’re confused because I’m not up to anything,” Hux said. He poured himself a cup of coffee and sipped from the glass. “I’ve been nothing but upfront about my desire to return to the First Order and destroy the New Republic. I’ve even been rather open about my plans to make your son see reason about dedicating his loyalties back where they belong. You’re looking for lies that aren’t there and it’s confused you.”

Solo popped his toast into his mouth. “Smart talker, huh?”

“Oration is a needed skill when you command large masses of people,” Hux said.

“Okay then Mr. Honest,” Solo said. He shut the door to the galley, smacking the side of his hand into the switch. He leaned on the door, blocking the exit further. Trapped together, he crossed his arms. “What do you think of Ben?”

Hux paused, thinking of all the various angles Solo could be aiming for. It was a trick question, obviously, but Hux hadn’t quite pinned what Solo wanted. “In what sense?”

Solo chuckled, crossing his arms and one ankle over the other as he leaned on the door. “It’s not that hard of question. You’re sleeping with him, so you’ve got to think something about him, right?”

“I think he’s wasting his potential running around out here when he could have been more productive had he stayed the course,” Hux said. He sipped his coffee and itched to get out of the room. He didn’t want to think about this. “And he’s physically attractive, which is what started all of this, but to be honest I don’t particularly wish to talk about that part of our relationship with you.”

“Wasting potential is the first thing that you came up with?” Solo rubbed the back of his hair. “Really?”

“What do you want me to say?” Hux asked.

“What you think about Ben, not his future career plans,” Solo said. He pushed off the door and got closer to Hux, taking on the role of protective parent. “Do you even like him?”

“I don’t know,” Hux said. It was a half lie. Hux happened to quite a bit about Ren. He liked how steadfast and focused the man could be on a mission. He liked how Ren was competent on the field; how he could cut a man in half like it was nothing. Hux liked the look in Ren’s eyes when different emotions flashed on his face, expressive and open and deep. He liked the man was good in bed and easy to look at. Hux liked how Ren held him a night; he liked how Ren wanted to be there. Truth be told, there was plenty to like about Ren. Hux had even learned to like the man’s new relaxed attitude since they’d left Starkiller base. But all the same, a new ugly thought came to mind: “I barely know him.”

“That’s pretty sad if it’s been as long as Ben said,” Solo said. The man looked angry, and Hux felt like shying away. Solo was justified in his anger, which made it all the worse. “Five years in each other’s company and nearly one together, and you barely know him? I guess that means you only cared about one thing, huh? Using him?”

“I knew Kylo Ren for five years,” Hux said. Thoughts he’d been avoiding came one after another. Hux didn’t want them, but they refused to leave all the same. He slammed his coffee cup on the counter and felt a very familiar fire of irritation in his veins. Like father like son, is it? No wonder Ren was so good at getting under his skin. Hux met Solo’s eyes and kept the gaze, refusing to back down. “I’ve known your son Ben Solo for two weeks. You’ll forgive me if I’m having a difficult time figuring out what was a lie and what wasn’t.”

Hux left without giving Solo a chance to reply. He left the galley no longer hungry for breakfast.

“What did he do?” Ben asked, sitting up in bed. Hux had entered the room with an angry glare and the same march he used when he was determined. Ben had woken up when the anger first flared, it lighting Hux’s presence up in the Force like an alarm. Ben leaned over the edge of the top bunk, crossing his arms on the side of the bed as Hux sat on the bottom. “Hux?”

“He asked me what I liked about you.”

Ben tugged his sleep pants up and threw his legs over the side of the bunk. He hit the floor, a few inches from Hux. Hux’s hair was out of place; Ben’s fingers itched to smooth it down the way Hux liked it. “What’d you say?”

“Nothing,” Hux said. He leaned back to look Ben in the eyes. “Nearly every thought that came to mind that would qualify as an answer involved a part of yourself you threw away four weeks ago. Therefore, I had no answer for him, and he didn’t appreciate that. He thinks I just want to use you for nefarious purposes.”

Ben sat on the bed next to Hux and leaned his head back. “A fair assumption considering it’s true. You do have a few plans that involve using me for the First Order that are nefarious in nature considering the brunt of them involve killing people for you.”

“I like to think of them as practical,” Hux said.

The words were his, but there wasn’t as much emphasis as their usually was when Hux was serious or teasing, whatever mood he was in. The man looked to be paying attention to something far away. The conversation with Ben’s father must have affected him more than he wanted to admit, and Ben couldn’t blame him. It was something they had talked about very little since their initial confrontation.

Ben pushed Hux’s hair back behind his ear. “I am sorry.”

“For what?” Hux said, leaning slightly into the touch.

“Sometimes it is difficult for me to remember just how differently you saw me as Kylo Ren, almost as if we were two different people,” Ben said. He brushed his fingers against the back of Hux’s neck. “While I was acting as Kylo Ren and despised the things I was forced to do, from my perspective I never stopped being myself.”

“Then perhaps I should consider the you now as the same as the you then,” Hux said. “And the next time your father asks, I’ll list your wonderful traits that caught my attention while in the First Order. I’m sure he’d love to know all the gritty details.”

“You tell them to me often enough, it might only be fair to share the misery around,” Ben said. Hux still seemed far away. He fell on his side on the bed, wrapping an arm around Hux’s waist. “I think you might know me better as Ben Solo than you think you do.”

“No,” Hux said. He turned in Ben’s grasp and leaned over him. Hux’s hand pressed into the mattress near Ben’s head. He leaned down until their foreheads nearly touched. “I really don’t.”

Hux patted Ben on the cheek and got off the bed. He left the room and Ben covered his eyes with his hands. He focused on Hux’s presence in the Force, following him until Hux hid himself away in the cargo hold next to the Ysalamir, disappearing from view.

Ben rolled off the bed and grabbed his shirt out of the suitcase. “I might be in over my head.”

Chapter Text

For the past two weeks, Hux had somehow deluded himself into thinking that Ren was still Ren, and that he’d just betrayed everyone. Finding out he was “Ben Solo” was a shock, but still something that Hux knew, but didn’t totally process. The closest Hux could come up with was knowing that breaking a limb was painful wasn’t the same as actually breaking it and knowing that breaking a limb is painful. Therefore, the fact “Ren is Ben Solo” was like an after thought while Hux concentrated on getting back where he belonged in the First Order. Meeting the man’s father, and seeing them interact was forcing him to considering things he hadn’t wanted to.

Case in point, his last conversation with both Solo the senior and Solo the junior that had Hux hiding in the cargo hold of a ship held together with duct tape and prayers.

“Hard to believe a thing like you can block the Force,” Hux said, leaning on the edge of the cage. But the lizard did work as a wonderful distraction from his Ben dilemma. Hux wracked his brain attempting to think if he’d ever heard of a Yasalamir before now, but couldn’t recall one. “They must have gone out of their way to keep you a secret.”

The lizard yawned, before settling on the floor of the cage.

“Wonderful company you are.” Hux rubbed between his eyes. He wondered when the others would come down and find him and his allotted brooding time would be up. He knew Solo didn’t trust Hux with his merchandise, though he supposed Ren could distract him. The lizard licked its chops. Hux pressed his lips together. “Ren.”

Was he even Ren?

Hux had been seeing exactly what he wanted to for the past year apparently (how else could he have been so foolish to believe Ren loved the Order as much as Hux did?), so why wouldn’t he still be doing the same now? Maybe Ben had been acting vastly different the past two weeks and Hux simply had ignored it in favor of pretending he still had Ren. Or maybe Ben had been exactly like Ren and just kept claiming otherwise in an effort to drive Hux mad.

It could be either at this point.

“I’m too tired for this,” Hux said, slumping against the metal cage and startling the lizard. The Ysalamir hissed at him through the bars, but simply adjusted his position to lie down again. “You agree with me.”

It did not help that Hux likely would not be agonizing over this if Ren (Ben? Hux still didn’t feel ready to start thinking of him that way.) had not made it abundantly clear that he loved Hux.

The man had said as much: “Love.”

Hux had put it out of his mind for the past day or so because he was distracted by horrible traveling arrangements, a meddling father, and a Wookie, but now he had time to think about it.

Deep down, there was little to deny that Hux had loved Kylo Ren. He hadn’t dared to say it in those words, because there was always that chance it wasn’t returned. His relationship with Ren had been good, but still based on a primarily physical relationship. Assuming that Kylo Ren returned those feelings wasn’t a wise decision, even Hux had a strong feeling that they were.

Not that any of that mattered now.

Hux leaned on the Ysalamir cage and bit the edge of his finger. If Kylo Ren had truly been a lie, than the man Hux had loved was at least mostly fabricated. Ben Solo was essentially a stranger in love with Hux, and he would hardly have been the first. Hux covered his face. He didn’t want to think like that.

He missed his Ren.

Hux wanted his warrior back. His ruthless, blood thirsty, terrifying man who bared his soft belly to Hux in an odd form of trust when they were alone. It had been good. Hux pushed his hair back. A really good thing. Ren hadn’t needed parents, or to apologize for anything. He only needed his own power and Hux.

But this Ren, he had parents and somewhere else to go. Somewhere he should really stay if this Ben Solo nonsense was sincere. The First Order didn’t fit into that picture.

Hux didn’t fit into that picture.

Ben went into the main dining area with a piece of toast in his mouth and a frown on his face.

“Your First Order boy toy locked himself in the storage room,” Han said, working on the inside of one of the panels. He had grease on his fingers as he adjusted a few loose connections. “In case you were wondering.”

“I could tell that when his presence disappeared from the ship,” Ben said. He slouched into the bench seat at the game table and glared at his father. “I wish I could be angrier with you than I am.”

Han leaned back. “Oh?”

“Despite how upset Hux is, the question was fair,” Ben said. He rubbed his eyes, pressing hard into the sockets. Ben looked at his dad, sighing. “How did this all turn into such a mess?”

“Probably around the time you agreed with Luke to do that crazy mission and ending with falling in love with a megalomaniac,” Han said, closing the utility hatch. “If you wanted to keep it simple.”

“Snoke was a threat to all life,” Ben said, glaring at his father. “His threat was a different form than I was expecting, but it was a threat all the same. If I hadn’t gone, no one would have known about Starkiller base and right now the Hosnian system would be dust in space.”

“Would they have even been able to finish it without you?” Han asked, sitting at the table. He crossed his arms, sighing heavily and looking far older than Ben had ever seen him before. Ben wondered where Uncle Chewie had wandered to, to avoid this conversation. Han rubbed the back of his hair. “Your mother and I kept up with the reports on you as Kylo Ren, you know. You were. You were terrifying, son.”

“I was not nearly as bad as I could have been,” Ben said into the table. He tugged on the edge of his hair; he needed to cut it soon. “Believe me when I say that I held back, and I sabotaged them at every opportunity and it barely slowed them down. They would have finished Starkiller base whether I was there or not.”

“Fair enough,” Han said. He scooted over and put his arm around Ben’s shoulder, squeezing him. “Did you talk to anyone when you got back? About what it was like undercover? Two weeks doesn’t feel like enough time to process all of that.”

“It wasn’t, but I had Hux and I couldn’t stay,” Ben said. “Luke figured out he was from the Order, and mom was too suspicious. He wasn’t safe there.”

“I’m still wondering if it’s even worth it,” Han said, drawing a comforting circle on Ben’s arm with his thumb. “Because so far, he looks like he’s just using you.”

“He is and he isn’t,” Ben said. He leaned against his dad, and sighed. He had missed this, too. Just being with family. Ben thought of Hux locked away downstairs, and what little he knew of that man’s family. None of it was good. Ben closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I don’t think he’s used to having people in his life who aren’t subordinates or allies.”

Han snorted. “Wonder why?”

Ben glared. “Are you even going to give him a chance, or have you made up your mind?”

“He wants to kill your mother, destroy the Republic, and seduce you into the Dark Side for real,” Han said. He got up from the table and shook his head. He grabbed his tool kit and hauled it over his shoulder. “I can’t imagine there’s anything he can do on this trip that will make me like him.”

Han left the room calling for Chewie to head into the cockpit. Ben covered his eyes and buried his head in his arms.

Hux did a double take when he looked in the corner of the cage. The lizard-creature had been making odd noises for a while, and Hux had been content to block it out. However now there was no mistaking the new addition in the beast’s bed of hay: eggs.

“I wonder if Solo knows his lizard was pregnant,” Hux said, looking at the little things. There were four in total and warm to the touch through the bars. Hux glanced above him. Solo and his Wookie weren’t here, and Ben couldn’t sense what was going on with the mother right there. “I could use this.”

It would be difficult to hide one of the eggs in such close quarters with the Solo family, but Hux could do it. A Yasalamir at his disposal would be invaluable in the future.

“But should I take just one, or all four?” Hux whispered to himself.

If he just took one, it’d be easy to look like the better man for letting Solo know he had valuable cargo he could barter with elsewhere. It’s not like he’d ever know there had been four or three eggs. But then again, if Hux took all four, his chances of getting one to survive the trip without their mother increased.

Either way, he didn’t have much time to make a choice. Someone would eventually come looking for him, whether it was Ren or Solo or the Wookie. No one would trust Hux alone with this creature for too long.

Hux scratched the lizard under the cheek. The lazy thing did nothing to bite or retaliate. It seemed easy enough to care for. Hux could do this. He could raise an animal, though hiding it from Ren would be more or a problem.

If the babies growing in the eggs blocked the Force as well as their mother, than Ben would know something was up when he couldn’t sense Hux two feet from him. Which meant he needed to hide the eggs somewhere, and move them when Ben wasn’t paying attention.

“This could be tricky.” Hux lifted an egg. It was warm in his hand, pulsing lightly with the tiny life growing inside. The Yasalamir did nothing to prevent him from touching his eggs; again: Lazy beast. Hux stared as it went to sleep. Hux sat up straighter, squeezing the egg in his hand. “I can do it when Ren’s asleep.”

Ren was dead to the world after sex, which made it the perfect time to move and hide the precious cargo. As long as he hid it at least ten meters away during the day, this could be done.

“I can do this.” Hux said. He clutched the egg tighter to his chest. “This is the break I needed.”

Hux gathered all four eggs. The disinterest of the parent told Hux all he needed to know about the eggs being okay to leave on their own. He just needed to keep them warm and safe. He grabbed a swatch of hay and tapped to the far corner of the cargo hold. He stashed them away behind an old crate covered in dust and got up to brush himself off.

He left the cargo hold, plans already forming on how to move them later. He needed to solidify them now before he thought about them absently and Ren caught on to what Hux had.

If Ren could keep secrets for so long, than Hux certainly was owed this one to keep to himself.

Besides, if things turned for the worse with Ren, Hux was going to need that Ysalamir for more than Snoke.

Ben looked up from his datapad when Hux walked into the common room. He looked thoughtful, but he’d calmed down. He took a seat a seat on the couch next to Ben, which gave him a bit of hope.

“You okay?” Ben asked.

“I thought I had you all figured out after that one shopping trip a week and a half ago,” Hux said, staring forward. He seemed relaxed, but there was a sense of unease around Hux. He felt on edge and Ben itched to make that feeling go away. Hux pressed his lips together, brows drawn together. “But after the conversations this morning, it seems I was mistaken.”

Ben leaned back in his seat. He didn’t have much to say in response to that. They sat in silence for about ten minutes, Hux off in his own world. Ben stayed out of his head, no matter how badly he wanted to find out exactly what was going on. Instead, he placed his hand on Hux’s thigh, moving it back and forth in (what he hoped was a comforting manner).

Hux placed his hand over Ben’s and squeezed. He hesitated, before looking Ben in the eye.

“When you were drunk and half asleep the other day, you said you loved me.” Hux said, and the intensity of it gave him shivers. It looked like Hux had made up his mind about what he wanted to say. “Did you mean it?”

“Yes,” Ben said. Warmth washed over him, knowing that he could say that with confidence and without hesitation. “I do.”

Hux grabbed the sides of Ben’s head and surged forward into a kiss. He pushed Ben back, climbing half into his lap with his tongue in Ben’s mouth.

Ben’s knees knocked into the table, turning on the game. The pieces made noises and Hux turned it off with a quick flick, not even to bother stopping his kiss or look to see if he missed. Ben was impressed, and grunted when Hux pushed his back flat against the bench seat. Still half-in his lap, one leg under Ben’s and touching the ground, Hux gave no sign he was going to stop any time soon.

This was either Hux’s way of saying he loved Ben too, or an apologetic distraction because he couldn’t.

Ben’s hands found Hux’s hips, and he closed his eyes. Whichever answer this was, Ben could live with it. Because the first option was wonderful, and the second meant Hux needed more time to give him a proper answer. Ben slipped his hand up the back of Hux’s shirt, tugging him closer. Neither was a bad response just yet.

Hux stopped the kiss, pulling away with heavy breathing. It’s warm and nice and Hux touched their foreheads together. He exhaled slowly and said, “Ben.”

“Oh,” Ben said, heart skipping a quick beat. Hux had said it like he was tasting a new word, hesitant and unsure. But he’d said it. Even if he never said it again, that was enough. Ben grabbed the sides of Hux’s cheeks, mirroring the other man’s hold. “Hux.”

Ben kissed Hux again, smiling into it. There was nothing that could ruin this moment.

“If you two have sex on that bench, I’m telling your mother every single detail,” Han said, walking through the room with Uncle Chewie behind him. “And then one of you is bunking with Chewie tonight.”

Ben groaned, hugging Hux’s face into his chest. He stood corrected; there was something that could ruin the moment. Hux snorted, but got off Ben’s lap to escape to another room, but not before grinning at Ben over his shoulder with the most blatant “Come hither” look Ben had ever seen in his life.

“Was that really necessary, dad?” Ben said, crawling up.

“Call it payback for all the times you wandered in on me and your mom when you were little,” Han said, grinning. He ruffled Ben’s hair and went back to the cockpit with a grin plastered on his face.

“Payback,” Ben huffed, staring at the door where Hux had wandered through. “Like I’d believe that.”

Uncle Chewie patted Ben’s back with a “What did you expect?” before following Han.

Ben sighed and pulled his knees up on the bench. He touched his lips and smiled a little. He’d wait a few minutes before joining Hux. It was only to be expected that in such close quarters things would become awkward, but that certainly wasn’t going to stop him.

That in mind, he rolled off the bench and slammed the lock button on their room’s door when he helped himself inside to waiting arms.

Hux played with Ren’s hair, massaging his head lightly as the man slept. Ren snuggled into the hold, content, sated and very much dead asleep.

He felt mildly guilty about what he was going to do, but it was for the greater good for both of them. He kissed the side of Ren’s head and squeezed him. Ren would understand later. Hux would help him see the real light of this situation.

The New Republic would ruin this man, no matter what name he went by.

Hux slipped out from Ren’s hold, pulling the blankets snuggly around him. He waited for five minutes to make sure the man was still out (paying extra attention after remembering the man’s ability to fake sleep), before dressing and leaving the room. The corridors and ship were dark, with one more sleep cycle before they reached their destination.

He had one shot before that lizard left this ship to get those eggs settled into one of their bags where Ren wouldn’t look into them. If Hux was really lucky, their Force blocking powers won’t evolve until Hux has them transferred to a more permanent location. Hux ran through the rooms and plans of their Upsilon shuttle, plotting out three or four places he could put them.

“I’ll keep them separated to lessen the field,” Hux said to himself as he slipped through the ship. His bare feet kept his movements quiet, and his eyes looked for any sign of Solo or the Wookie. “Now then.”

It was easy enough to open the door quietly with the sounds of the ship groaning and buckling to drown it out. The entire place was loud and it was any wonder that anyone could sleep in this racket. The lizard down below was sleeping and the cargo bay free of people.

Hux found the eggs where he left them, and slipped them into a small bag he’d brought with him.

Half of him couldn’t believe that he made it in and out of the cargo bay and back to quarters without being caught. It must be a sign from Ren’s Force that this was meant to be, because luck was certainly on Hux’s side.

He shoved them away into a side pocket in Hux’s bag, wrapping it in one of his dirty shirts. The eggs remained warm, and continued to pulse with life. A good sign if he’d ever seen one. Hux petted the eggs through their cloth bedding before removing his clothes and crawling back into bed.

Hux kissed the side of Ren’s face and settled back into the man’s arms. “It’s going to be good, I promise.”

Ren nuzzled him back, and Hux fell asleep confident this was the right thing to do (even if a small nagging feeling in the back of his head said the opposite).

“You two could at least look guilty,” Han said, checking his gun and knife as he got ready. Ben snickered straightening his own clothes as they got ready to meet the buyer waiting on the landing pad just outside. “And you’re lucky my ship has enough sense to drown out any noise you made.”

“Then why are you complaining?” Ben said, slapping his dad on the shoulder. The drowsy smile on Hux’s face when Ben woke up was going to have him in a good mood all day, no matter how irritated Han Solo was about it. “Be glad we relocated.”

“I’ll be glad when you two gain some sense,” Han said. He called down the hallway, “You two ready?”

“Since this morning,” Hux said, sipping from a cup of coffee. Ben’s old cowl was wrapped around his shoulders (he still hated how good Hux looked in the oversized cape), and he had a borrowed blaster on his hip. Chewbacca gave his all clear from his left, and Hux winced. “No need to shout.”

“He wasn’t,” Han said.

“We’re supposed to be meeting the client in ten minutes, we should probably leave,” Ben said. He grabbed his dad by the arm and tugged him toward the ramp. “Let’s hurry and check him out so we can get that lizard off the ship.”

Han patted himself on the chest before pointing at everyone else in the room. “Just make sure you guys let me do the talking, and everything will be fine.”

“Like we haven’t heard that before,” Chewbacca said, rolling his eyes and following Han off the ship with his bow-caster on his back.

Hux narrowed his eyes, making that frustrated face he’d get when there was an equation or piece of paperwork that wasn’t right on his datapad. He was also staring very hard at Chewbacca’s back.

“Dad has a bad habit of talking himself into bad situations as often as he talks himself out of them,” Ben said. He lingered at Hux’s side, nodding toward his Uncle. “Chewie was commenting on it.”

“I didn’t ask.” Hux walked forward, heading for the ramp at full pace.

“But it does bother you that you can’t understand what he’s saying,” Ben said, catching up easily enough. He tugged on the back of the cape and smiled. “Do you want me to teach you?”

“No,” Hux said. He snatched back his cape and leaned on Ben’s shoulder instead as they walked down the ramp and into the sunlight of the planet. “But I would appreciate if you started telling me later if he says anything untoward about me. It’d be nice to have it in a list.”

Ben threw his arm around Hux’s shoulder as they walked. “Why?”

“So I can come up with creative, passive aggressive ways to pay him back for each and every sleight,” Hux said, smiling brightly. “Why else?”

Ben patted Hux’s arm before squeezing him into a side hug. “Perhaps we should put that plan on hold until after my father doesn’t want to throw you out of an airlock.”

“Would you let him?” Hux asked, mouth quirked into a tiny smile.

“No, but that’s not the point.”

“But good to hear all the same,” Hux said.

He kissed Ren on the cheek before breaking free of his hold and tapping down the ramp. He radiated satisfaction, and there was something else there that Ben couldn’t quite place. Hux was content, but it seemed to be about something far away.

Ben tried not to let it bother him as he joined his father greeting the buyer.

Chapter Text

The buyer was a chubby Rodian with a nervous twitch.

Hux frowned, looking the alien over and holding in his sigh. For someone who was supposed to be an animal collector, he looked an awful lot like a bounty hunter. Hux glanced at Ren and his father and was thankful to see they looked equally suspicious of the alien with matching father-son looks of disapproval.

He had no idea what the Wookie thought, face hidden under all that fur.

Hux stayed to the back though, to keep an eye on things. Ren crossed his arms over his chest concentrating on the Rodian. Hux recognized that look from when the man scanned minds, looking for their secrets. It was an expression he’d only recently been accompanied with, having it been covered up by a mask in the past.

“Where’s the Ysalamir, Solo?” The Rodian said without greeting. “I heard you tend to cheat people out of their goods and money, but I didn’t think you’d be this blatant about it.”

“I brought it!” Solo said, holding his hand to his chest. “So little trust already, Meeta?”

“Considering your record?” The Rodian replied. “Yes. I paid you over half already, so where is it?”

“It’s in the ship,” Solo said, pointing over his shoulder. “Right in the cargo bay where I left it. You give me the rest of the money, and I give you the lizard.”

“I want to see the lizard first.”

As Solo and the Rodian danced around each other, repeating the same thing over and over again to stall for time (at least on Solo’s end), Hux watched Ren watch the Rodian. He narrowed his eyes a few seconds later, looking somewhere behind the Rodian toward the buildings at the edge of town.

“We’re not alone,” he whispered. “This is a trap.”

“Of course it is,” Hux sighed to himself. He shifted his position just enough to put his hand closer to his blaster. “But for who? Your father?”

“I think Meeta just doesn’t want to pay,” Ren sighed. He rolled his eyes and patted Hux on the shoulder. “I’m going to see if we can’t end this before it begins.”

Hux kept his hand on his blaster, though he shifted just a bit, almost excited at the promise of Ren in action once again. Sure a Rodian and a few others hiding would be nothing for Ren, but it was at least some form of violence.

It’d been so long, Hux wondered if Ren even still knew how to kill things.

“I hate to interrupt, but isn’t it rude to make your friends wait way out there for you? You should invite them over,” Ren said, using a drawl that sounded an awful lot like the elder Solo’s accent. “I’m sure we’d love to meet them.”

The Rodian stiffened and gaped. “How did you know I brought someone with me?”

“Because you’d be stupid not to if you didn’t trust me as much as you said?” Solo added, smirking. “Come on, Meeta. Let’s put our cards on the table. Why do you really want that Ysalamir?”

“A collector,” the Rodian snarled. “Just like I said.”

“No, you said you were the collector,” Solo said. “Not that you were picking one up for one.”

“Details!” the Rodian shouted.

“Are important,” Solo said right back.

If Hux were in charge of this operation, he would have already shot the Rodian and had his soldiers execute everyone in the area for this sheer waste of time.

Solos, on the other hand, apparently liked to chat it out.

“Just tell us who the real buyer is, Meeta,” Solo said. He leaned forward, his old face not intimidating anyone. “And why they really want a Ysalamir.”

“I told you!”

“And you’re lying,” Ren said, entering the conversation. “Tell the truth. It’ll be easier in the long run.”

Hux snorted. The easiest method would be for Ren to just take the information. He was very good at that, as Ren had proven time and time again. Hux closed his eyes, massaging the side of his forehead. He was starting to wonder why he even bothered hoping Ren would snap back to his old ways. The man seemed so determined to do things the hard way now.

At least the Rodian had enough sense to move this along. By the time Hux looked up, the alien had already drawn his blaster and his companions were flooding out of the woodworks.

Ren reached toward his side, pulling his lightsaber of his belt and Hux stood up straighter. Despite his moment of weakness a second ago, even this new Ren couldn’t screw up killing someone with a lightsaber. Hux might get a glimpse of his Ren just yet. He held his breath as Ren clicked the switch, turning on the blade. Hux’s eyes locked to it, taking in the brilliant—

Hux dropped his hands at his side and stared: the blade was blue.

“Next time someone asks you to ship a Ysalamir,” Ben yelled at his dad across the yard. He kicked his foot forward, knocking one of the Rodian bounty hunters out of the way. “Say no!”

“You made your point, Ben,” his father shouted back, ducking around a corner to shoot. Ben dashed forward to his target, swinging his saber up to cut a rope and knock a stack of boxes over on the attacking Rodian. It knocked him out and Han huffed. “I had that!”

“Sure you did,” Ben said.

He glanced around the yard, spotting Meeta wrestling with Chewie toward the ramp. His Uncle had it under control so Ben looked for stragglers. Most of the Rodian were down already, and he watched as his father shot the last one aside from their ringleader. Chewie shoved Meeta to the ground and which left one last person to check on.

Hux hadn’t bothered to enter the fight, opting to lean against the ramp to the Falcon with his arms crossed. Ben let his dad and Chewie deal with Meeta, while he walked over to Hux. The man’s face was rather blank, and his eyes were locked at a point near Ben’s side. He followed the gaze, until he saw what had caught Hux’s undivided attention.

“You like that?” Ben asked, holding up his saber. The smooth blue blade hummed softly, and he swished it back and forth. “It is so much nicer having a blade that doesn’t look like it’s going to explode any second.”

“What,” Hux paused. He cleared his throat and crossed his arms. “What happened to your other one? Where did you get that?”

“This is my lightsaber,” Ben said. He laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. Of all the things he’d forgotten to share with Hux when they set out together, it had to be his lightsaber. But he supposed, up until now Ben hadn’t had a chance to need it. He cradled the precious saber near his chest, remembering when he first ventured to pick out his crystal and first seeing that ice-blue glow. “My uncle Luke brought it to me when we were on,” Ben stopped and licked his lips. As much as he loved Hux, he probably shouldn’t tell the man where the Resistance Base was. “You know, the base where I saw my mother. I guess I forgot to show you with the hurry we were in to leave.”

“And your old one?” Hux asked, still looking at the blue blade like it was offensive. What Ben had first thought was wonder was becoming more and more clear was confusion. “Do you still have it?”

“Yes,” Ben said. He clicked his lightsaber off and hung it on his belt. “It’s still usable, but it’s also distinctly Kylo Ren’s weapon. I felt returning to my old blade was more appropriate.”

“Of course.” Hux didn’t sound convinced. He nodded toward the rest of the group. “And the Rodian?”

“Let’s find out,” Ben said.

Hux followed him over to where Chewbacca was making a very convincing threat out of himself, and Meeta was halfway through spilling his guts when they arrived.

“This is why you do things the easy way,” Han said, smacking Meeta in the side. “I can’t believe you tried to pull this.”

“You’re one to talk,” the bounty hunter spit back out. “You’re the one who brought a Jedi to a simple arrangement!”

“And you brought a gang! So I think we’re even,” Han said again. He looked up at Ben and Hux when they walked up and snorted. “I noticed someone didn’t bother to help.”

“If my assistance had been needed, Ren would have asked,” Hux replied, face straight and completely serious. “I’m disappointed in you that you would even consider that he couldn’t take this sorry lot on by himself. What little faith you have in your son.”

“Last I checked, it wasn’t a good thing to let someone fight all on their own, no matter what was going on,” Han said right back, taking a step toward Hux. “Real men don’t hide.”

“Was I hiding?” Hux asked. He sneered, and Ben felt the tension rise between the two of them. Chewbacca and Meeta were both staring; even they could feel the bad blood growing. Hux held his hand out leaning forward. “I believe I was standing out in the open, completely confident Ren could handle the situation. As I recall, you were the one ducked behind cover while Ren did most of the work.”

“His name is Ben.” Han grabbed the front of Hux’s jacket and yanked him up. “And I’m getting really tired of you saying the wrong one on purpose.”

“Unhand me,” Hux said, very quiet. It dripped with the same simmering anger that Hux used to save for Ben when he broke something particularly important and the General was barely restraining himself from attempting to strangle the Force user. “Immediately.”

“Make me,” Han said.

“That’s enough,” Ben said, splitting the both of them apart with the Force, and spreading his hands out. “Focus on Meeta, and we will discuss this later.”

“You bet we will,” Han said.

Hux brushed off his jacket where Han had grabbed him, and Ben could tell this was one time he really wanted to stay out of the man’s head. Hux was pretty creative when it came to thoughts of murder, and he didn’t particularly want to see what he was coming up with to end Han Solo.

The first thing Hux did when he returned to the Order, was petition to have all bounty hunters placed at the top of the list to detain and arrest. They were more trouble than they were worth.

The Rodian had been working for some disgraced ex-Imperial hoping to protect himself from the “looming Jedi threat” with a Ysalamir. It wasn’t a ludicrous plan as Hux had secured a few of the lizards for his own use, but the way he’d gone about it was dreadfully annoying. There were too many channels and he should have considering hiring someone who’s big plan wasn't to “Steal the lizard and keep all the money.”

They’d dropped the Rodian off with some officials, and were planning to return the Ysalamir to it’s home planet on behest of Ben’s urging to keep the thing contained.

All in all, a complete and utter waste of time.

Much like the conversation Han Solo had started.

“I think it’s time we had a talk about your rude treatment of my son,” Solo said. His Wookie had retreated to the back of the room, glaring and silent. Hux appreciated that; one angry parent was bad enough. Solo got in Hux’s face, smirking. “Don’t you know it’s rude to call someone by the wrong name?”

Hux kept his mouth shut; he’d call Ren whatever the hell he wanted (though if Ren were to ask, Hux could admit he might feel torn about it). Screw whatever pitying thoughts he’d had earlier about Ren deserving to be around loving parents. Solo deserved none of it, and Hux would not give him the satisfaction.

Ren didn’t need anyone in his life but Hux.

“Dad, it’s fine,” Ren said, dragging his hand through his hair. He pulled on Solo’s shoulder, getting him out of Hux’s immediate space. “I really don’t mind. Think of it like a nickname. Like when mom calls you a nerf herder.”

“No, calling me a nerf herder is a light insult, often spoken with affection,” Solo said. He pointed at Hux, his voice rising with every syllable. “Kylo Ren is the name of a mass murdering monster, a mass murdering monster that he wants you to be. He’s only calling you by that name in the hopes you’ll start acting like it again, and I’m not going to sit here and let him get away with calling you it any more!”

“You were fine with it the past few days,” Ren said, snapping back. Hux heart skipped a beat at the angry tone; oh how he had missed it. Ren glared at him and he sunk in his seat. Hux supposed that was fair. It really wasn’t the best time to be getting excited. Ren breathed heavily through his nose and spoke to himself as much as his father. “And calm down.”

“I wasn’t fine with it,” Solo said. He growled, the gravel in his aged voice more pronounced as he continued to shout. Hux half wondered if his heart was going to give out at this rate; he was rather old to be yelling like that. Solo threw his hands up. “I just had bigger issues to tackle first. Now that I know you won’t listen to those, I guess I’ve finally got time to work around to the one where a sociopath keeps calling my son a monster!”

“Dad, calm down,” Ren said again, but this time speaking softer. Hux felt warm hearing it, and he almost closed his eyes at the familiar tone he’d hear often at night when the man felt talkative. Ren continued, placing a hand on his father’s shoulder. “I understand that you’re angry, but this is not the time. Calm yourself.”

“Are you using the Force on me?” Solo said, mouth aghast. Ren flinched away and Hux sat up straighter, staring. Sometimes he forgot that Ren was capable of influencing people with the Force in positive manners as well. Ren’s father, however, did not appreciate it and looked angrier than he had yelling at Hux. “Ben Solo, I know we raised you better than that.”

“We’re talking about this later,” Ren said. He looked away from Solo’s face, breathing heavily, shame washing over his face. “I want to be alone right now.”

“Alone with him?” Solo said, glaring at Hux. “Because I don’t think that’s wise. He’s clearly already been a horrible influence on you. That entire damn assignment has been.”

“Dad,” Ren said, he looked at his father and bit his lower lip. “Please.”

“Fine,” Solo said. HIs shoulders dropped, but his eye still simmered in anger. He glared at Hux, hands tight in fists as he turned away from his son. “Maybe we do all need to clear our heads. Come on Chewie, I think I saw a bar in town.”

The Wookie followed Solo out. Hux and Ren stayed silent as they listened to the stomping footsteps. Ren only sat once they heard the grinding sound of the ramp closing. Hux wasn’t sure he wanted to be the one to break the silence with Ren’s face in his hands and his body trembling with anger.

But he would, because while Ren did not need Hux to aid in battle, he certainly needed him as a companion (Hux tried to smother the pleased feeling that brought him; now was not the time).

“I’m sure your father will come to understand you only meant to help him, not manipulate him,” Hux said, quietly. Ren’s trembling stilled, showing that he was listening. Hux continued, still speaking softly and giving the elder Solo far more generosity than he deserved. “His anger at me is clouding his judgement. That’s all this is.”

“I shouldn’t have done it,” Ren said, pulling his hands down. He looked at Hux, eyes very tired. Ren stared at something in the distance, voice monotone. “He always hated it when I used the Force like that.”

“All the same,” Hux said. He licked the side of his lip and breathed in. Ren still looked wretchedly guilty and it tugged at Hux’s chest in the worst way. He was almost ashamed of himself for feeling it. Hux reached over, putting his hand on Ren’s thigh. “The way you were a moment ago, was completely different from when you ever used the Force around me in a malevolent manner. Your father of all people should be able to tell the difference, don’t you think?”

“It was different?” Ren asked, putting his hand over Hux’s. He laced their fingers together, tracing the back of Hux’s knuckles with his thumb. “How so?”

“Your voice,” Hux said. He squeezed Ren’s hand. “It was gentle.”

“Gentle.” Ren leaned on Hux and rested his head back. “Isn’t that the opposite of the man you want me to be?”

“With everyone else,” Hux whispered. He rested his head on Ren’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “I always rather liked getting this part of you all to myself.”

“Because you’re greedy,” Ren said, smiling a bit. He snorted, mood lifting enough that Hux felt himself relax. The anger and the fight with the elder Solo would continue, but for now, they were alone and it was good. Ren mumbled into Hux’s hair. “I wonder how I could ever forget that about you.”

“I rather am, aren’t I?” Hux said, thinking of the secret he had stashed away in a bag and of his plans for the future. He thought about how he fully intended to keep Ren all to himself, whether the man wanted it or not. Hux squirmed into Ren’s side, guilt tugging at him. If he was going to be selfish in all those other ways, perhaps a small concession was in order. “Would, would you rather I called you Ben?”

Ren stilled, swallowing lightly. “I said it was fine.”

Hux closed his eyes, thinking of how he tested the word the other night. At the time, it had been a quick trick to get the man in the mood faster, but maybe it had worked too well. He supposed there really was no denying it: “You like it when I call you Ben.”

“I do,” Ren whispered.

“Then I’ll call you Ben,” Hux said. He reached up and cupped the side of Ren’s face and tugged him down. He kissed the man softly and pressed their foreheads together. “I suppose I can do that much.”

“Thank you,” Ren whispered. He dropped his face into the crook of Hux’s neck, falling into a tight hug. He pulled Hux up into his chest, wrapping them together tightly. It felt so good, and so very warm. “It means more than you know.”

Oh, but Hux did know; he truly did.

“And you,” Hux said, stopping.

He pressed his lips together. He wanted this to be about him and Ren. This was what he was giving the other man to perhaps make up just the slightest bit for the betrayal coming later, and Hux did not want it mistaken for appeasing the man’s wretched father. Hux squeezed Ren back, digging his fingers up into Ren’s hair.

“When, when we’re alone I suppose you could use my name, too.” Hux paused and laughed a bit. “No one else does.”

“Armitage,” Ren said, almost kissing it into Hux’s neck. He mumbled his next few words, his breath slowing. “I like your name.”

“Are you falling asleep, Ben Solo?” Hux whispered.

“No,” Ren said back, smiling wider at the use of his name. “Absolutely not, Armitage.”

“You are,” Hux said. He pushed at Ren’s shoulder and crawled upwards. “Come on, if we’re going to sleep it might as well be in a bed.”

“I won’t argue with that,” Ren said, in a half daze.

He took Hux’s hand and followed him into the back room. They both fell together on the bottom bunk and Hux let the exhaustion take over. Ren snuggled, throwing an arm over Hux, both of them still fully dressed, and exhaled deeply. Hux couldn’t remember the last time the two of them went to bed together and did nothing but sleep.

It was more pleasant than it had any right to be, and Hux intended to enjoy every moment while he could. He rolled over, hugging Ren close and breathing him in. With the looming return of Han Solo soon to come, this peaceful moment wouldn’t last through tomorrow.

And Hux would be more than ready for it.

Chapter Text

Hux wasn’t one to eavesdrop, but when one could hear yelling from around the corner, it was often wise to lean on said corner and listen over barging into the middle of a fight.

Ren had left to get something to eat, bringing it back for “A late breakfast in bed,” but when he didn’t return after some time, Hux investigated. He of course found the man in mid argument with his father (what a surprise). Curiosity took over, and Hux crossed his arms as he leaned on the wall.

“You told mom?” Ren shouted. The Wookie growled somewhere in the other room, and Hux relaxed further. He didn’t have to worry about getting caught listening when all three were accounted for. Ren shouted over both his father and his ‘uncle’, quite cross with the whole situation. “You said we had until the trip was over! We had a deal.”

“No, I said we’d all go together for the delivery, which is over,” Solo said. Hux frowned, scrunching his nose. Ren had mentioned his father wanted to “Get to know Hux” over this trip, but he’d said nothing of bargains. Solo’s feet stomped loudly as he paced back and forth. “And I don’t think I’m changing my mind in the day and a half it’s going to get take to visit her.”

“You can not put Hux and Mom in a room together,” Ren said. His voice raised and Hux could just picture him grabbing the back of his hair. “Hux will kill her.”

There was a distinct pause in the air.

“Fine, he’ll try to kill her,” Ren said. Hux scowled, squeezing his arm. Ren continued, irritation in his voice. “But the point is, those two should never be in a room alone together. He hates her, and I’m going to bet the feeling is mutual. Nothing good will come of it.”

“And that’s the man you want to spend all your time with?” Solo said, sounding exasperated. “Are you even listening to yourself?”

“Yes, it’s bad right now,” Ben said. “But it might not always be. His entire world view isn’t going to change in a month!”

“Or at all,” Hux muttered softly under his breath.

But Ren’s world view, on the other hand, might in the near future. If he continued to butt heads with his father this way, and if he kept coming back to Hux, that might happen sooner than later. The New Republic would be the death of the New Republic, just on a smaller scale.

What a delightful thought.

“A bit of advice,” Solo said. “If you have to change someone’s world view to get along with them, you probably shouldn’t be dating.”

Hux leaned his head back, resting it on the wall. That sort of thing was a bit of a conundrum. Being in the same boat as Ren, albeit from the other side of the issue, Hux could understand however the appeal of it. They were both trying to change the other’s mind in order to stay together.

That had to mean something about fate and love, didn’t it?

“I worded that wrong,” Ren said, interrupting Hux’s thoughts. The man sounded more sure of himself, and less angry than when he’d been yelling earlier. “A lot of what Hux believes in isn’t wrong.”

So far so good, even if Hux had to ignore the elder Solo’s snort.

“He just has a very strong sense that the end justifies the means, combined with a belief that sacrifice is needed for large change. When put together, that’s how things like Starkiller happen. Good can come out of his world view, but we need to get a few more ethical boundaries set,” Ren said. Hux could hear the sigh from around the wall. “And that might take some time.”

“Then we’ll give him time,” Solo said. “We’ll meet your mother in one month. This meeting is going to happen, Ben. You barely saw her when you came back, running around to fight Starkiller, and then you ran off with the human-equivalent of that base. You owe your mother an explanation and some real quality time to make up for five years of heartbreak.”

Solo certainly wasn’t pulling his punches, was he? Hux bit the edge of his thumb, edging closer to the open door.

“I know, but,” Ren said. There was a thump; Ren had to have sat down. “I still think it’s a bad idea for those two to be alone together.”

“If a month isn’t enough time to get the General to play nice, than that should be a sign you should get rid of him,” Solo said. There was shuffling. “Stop hiding from your mother.”

“I’ll talk to him,” Ren said. “But no promises.”

“Let me put it this way, I already told your mother everything, so do you want her to make up her own mind about why you ran off with the genocidal maniac, or would you like to try and explain it yourself?”

Hux sighed and rounded the corner before Ren could speak up. Enough was enough of this, and he was honestly getting tired of the elder Solo’s meddling. “There’s no need to waste a month. I assure you I know how to ‘play nice’ as you so put it, just fine. If you want me to meet his mummy dearest so we can get on with our lives, than so be it.”

“Can you now?” Solo asked. “Because I’m pretty sure I believe Ben when he says you’re just going to try and shoot her. You won’t succeed, but it’ll be fun to see her shoot you right back.”

Ren growled, “Dad.”

“It’s fine, Ben,” Hux said, taking a seat next to Ren on the bench. He patted the man’s thigh and leaned back, crossing one leg over the other. “I’m sure he’s got his doubts, but come on now. If I didn’t know how to be diplomatic and restrain myself from killing everyone I hated during formal meetings, I’m fairly certain my body count would be higher than Kylo Ren’s.”

“And here I thought it was impossible to like you any less,” Solo said.

“Likewise,” Hux said. He turned to Ren, and put on his best meeting smile. “Let’s just get this all done and over with so we can get back to killing the Supreme Leader, shall we?”

“Fine,” Solo said. He pointed between the two of them and smirked. “I’ll let her know we’re on the way, and I’ll warn you, Leia’s not going to be as nice as I am.”

“I’m quivering,” Hux said.

Ren buried his face into his hands and groaned while the Wookie patted him on the back. Hux chuckled, biting the edge of his lip. A second later, Ren got up from his seat and chased after his father as the man headed toward the communications board saying something about a meeting place.

Hux closed his eyes and leaned back, ignoring the Wookie. He’d have to figure out what to do with those Ysalamiri eggs in the meantime.

It had taken some arguing with both of his parents, but Ben had managed to get them to agree to meet in two weeks. He couldn’t get her to head to a Neutral planet with the First Order still crawling about, but he at least managed to get the meeting place to a planet in the New Republic that wasn’t in the Hosnian system.

“Your boyfriend,” Han had sneered, stressing the world like it was an insult rather than a title, “said he could play nice right now. Why wait?”

“Because I need to pick up my ship from the shuttle bay, and Hux and I could both use a change of clothes,” Ben had argued. They could use some real time alone to discuss this, too, but he had a feeling his father wouldn’t go for that. Ben stared at his mother’s hologram on the calm and rubbed his face. “Look, this meeting is already going to be tense. Is it so wrong that I might want to at least make it as easy as possible by making sure we have our own place to stay and can be in comfortable clothes?”

“I think you’re trying to run,” Han had said. He leaned forward in his chair, pointing. “Is that what’s going on? Soon as we drop you off, you two disappear into nowhere?”

“No,” Ben snapped. He pushed his hair back and stared at the hologram. “Mom, please. This living in close quarters thing hasn’t worked with dad, so I don’t want to repeat the same mistake when Hux meets you. I promise I’ll be there in two weeks, but I could use this downtime, too.”

“Alright, Ben,” Leia had said. She hadn’t looked happy, but she agreed. She leaned back in her seat and shook her head. “This works out better for me, anyway. Dropping everything with no warning doesn’t really look good when you’re leading a Resistance, either.”

“Thank you,” Ben had said.

The call had ended with a bit of small talk about how his mother was doing, and Ben retreated back to the bedroom feeling marginally better about the situation. The two week breather would give him time to do the things that he said (Hux would feel better greeting the General of the Resistance in nicer clothes than Ben’s old cowl, he was sure), and of course, they could discuss things like adults.

Ben found Hux lying on the lower bunk with both of his arms across his eyes. It was easy enough to slide onto the mattress next to him, dropping with a grunt that bounced the two of them.

“We’re headed back to Mygeeto to get my shuttle,” Ben said, rolling on his side and throwing an arm around Hux’s waist. The man responded by dropping his own arms over top. Hux played with Ben’s hand, stretching the fingers. “We’ll have about two weeks to get presentable and meet them on Kashyyyk.”

“The Wookie’s planet?” Hux asked.

“You’ll like it,” Ben said. Hux snorted and he patted Hux’s chest. “The planet, anyway. The trees are lovely and the tree houses are really something to see. You’ll like the architecture they used to get them to stay put and sturdy.”

Hux massaged Ben’s hands. “I prefer steel and cold metal.”

Ben chose not to mention how fond Hux was of his Starkiller base and the snowy fields and evergreen trees. Hux would never admit it aloud, but he had loved that planet, weapon and all. He’d loved that he thought Ben loved it, too. He squeezed Hux’s hand and breathed slowly.

“We might be there a while, so I suppose I should apologize in advance,” Ben said, kissing Hux’s temple.

“How long is a while?” Hux asked, pausing in his massage. “A week? A month? Any longer than that and I fear I must protest.”

“I’m not sure,” Ben said. He laughed into Hux’s side and hugged him. “I really doubt you and mom make it a week in each other’s company, so I doubt you’ll have to worry too much about it.”

“Speaking of that,” Hux said, turning in Ben’s hold. He wrapped his arm’s around Ben’s shoulder, hugging him close. He kissed Ben’s forehead and smiled into his skin. “Would it be too much to ask for a free shot?”

“A free shot?” Ben asked.

“You and your father are so convinced I’d fail if I tried to kill your mother, I believe the least you could do is let me have one shot to make an attempt,” Hux said.

“I’m going to have to say no to that,” Ben said, kissing Hux’s collarbone.

Hux threaded his fingers through Ben’s hair, massaging the back of his head. Ben snuggled in, loving and hating how good that felt. Hux asked, “Why? It seems like a fair proposal.”

“Because if I give you a free shot, I have to give her one.” Ben leaned up and kissed Hux on the lips. “And she’s a better shot than you.”

Hux shoved Ben out of the bed, but it was worth it.

Ysalamiri eggs did not block the Force.

Of this, Hux was fairly certain as all four were nestled in his bag as he stood next to Ren, who was carrying their luggage with the Force down the ramp of their shuttle. Hux had been wondering how to test it, but he supposed Ren showing off (or being lazy, one of the two) worked well enough. At least that was one worry off his mind.

“You had better meet us at Kashyyyk on time, Ben,” Solo said, following them down. His Wookie companion followed close, looking bored as always. Perhaps if you were around Solo family drama all the time, this seemed old hat. Solo waved between Hux and Ren. “Because if he convinces you to skip out, and you do it, then your mother is going to be the least of your worries.”

“Your faith in your son continues to be astounding,” Hux said, holding the strap of his bag. He held his head up, happy for the shade the hood provided with the bay lights blaring above their heads. “It’s no wonder he kept that whole undercover thing a secret. Who knows how that would have second guessed?”

“You keep talking and you’re not going to live long enough to meet his mother,” Solo threatened.

“And so quick to resort to violence,” Hux said, smiling openly now. “I suppose that’s where he got his talent for killing people from.”

“You know what? Never mind,” Solo said. He put his hands on his back and leaned forward with a vicious smirk. “Letting Leia have you will be worse than anything I can do.”

“If you two are done,” Ren said, dropping their luggage at the foot of their shuttle in the bay. The new silver paint had settled, and Hux could admit it looked better after a second coat. Ren walked over to his father and grabbed him into a hug. “I will see you in two weeks, okay? Go drop that Ysalamir back home and the two weeks will be up before you know it.”

Hux opened the ramp to the shuttle, pointedly looking away from the display of fatherly affection to his left.

Even if Solo was a horrible man and Hux had visions of shooting him in the face that rivaled what he wished to do to one Leia Organa, at least he cared about his son. A single, redeeming trait—that ultimately would mean nothing when Ren returned to his senses.

The more Hux told himself that separating Ren from his parents was a good thing, the more he might finally believe it.

Hux pressed his hand against the side of his bag where the eggs were hidden. He could almost feel their heat through it, and the tiny pulses. It was a welcome distraction from his own traitorous thoughts, and part of the plan.

He had to stick to his plans.

“Hux,” Ren said, standing next to his father. He put his hand on his hip and pointed over his shoulder. “We’re going into the main part of town to grab supplies and maybe eat dinner before we split up. Would you like to come?”

“I’ll let you two have this,” Hux said, tapping his fingers on the edge of his bag. Time alone was just what he needed to find proper places to hide his future Ysalamir pets. “Your last moments with your father shouldn’t be spent fighting.”

“They’re hardly going to be his last,” Solo said, crossing his arms.

“For the moment,” Hux spit back, narrowing his eyes. Everything was a fight with that man (now he really knew where Ren got it). “I’ll stay with the shuttle.”

“We’ll be back soon,” Ren said. He held his hand up and moved the rest of the bags into the shuttle. Hux waved back and Ren turned to face his father. “Let’s go.”

Hux ascended the ramp, hand over the eggs. He closed it behind him when he stepped inside and exhaled heavily in the familiar environment. Hux never thought he’d miss this wretched, tiny shuttle, but it was more home than that decrepit cargo ship ever would be.

“Come on darlings,” Hux whispered to the eggs. “Let’s find you somewhere safe so you can grow up big and strong and allow me to kill Snoke for Ren.”

Then maybe when Ren was no longer distracted with believing he had to save the universe for the Jedi, he could concentrate on saving it from the New Republic.

Han kicked his feet up on the chair opposite of him, while Ben and Chewie sat on the other two sides of the square table. Han pulled over his glass, taking a long drink. He set the glass down hard and stared at Ben. “Please tell me you’re not so lovesick that you haven’t noticed that guy is up to something?”

Ben shoved one of the appetizer bites into his mouth and huffed. “You’re going to have to be more specific. Hux is always planning something.”

“I don’t know, but it’s a gut feeling he’s got something more in mind than your conversion to the First Order and killing Snoke,” Han said. He stared forward and narrowed his eyes. “He was down in my cargo bay alone for a long time with that Ysalamir. Makes me wonder if he did something.”

“The Ysalamir is still in your cargo bay. You checked it before we left with our luggage,” Ben said.

“I don’t have the Force like you or your mother, but I’ve got good instincts,” Han said. He tapped his finger on the table and leaned forward. “He did something.”

“Maybe he’s thinking about how nice it would be to have one?” Ben waved the waitress over to refill his drink. If there was anything he missed while during his time undercover, it was good food and drink. Snoke had tried to starve him in training, and the First Order had military rations. “Having something that would give you an advantage over a Force user isn’t a little thing.”

“And he is one man who shouldn’t have it,” Han said.

“Wasn’t the point of Hux staying with the shuttle so we could talk about something other than Hux?” Ben asked, sighing. He speared a piece of meat on his plate and bit into it. He nearly moaned at how good it tasted. “Chewie, how have you been?”

“Better now that Han isn’t working himself to death to stop thinking about you running around as Kylo Ren,” Chewie said.

Ben put his hands over his face and sighed. “You guys aren’t going to let me live this down, are you?”

“It’s been about a month since you came back, Ben, and you were gone for five years,” Han said. He reached over and squeezed Ben’s shoulder. “Let’s just say that that General of yours might not be the only one who can’t seem to let go of who you used to be, even if it was pretend.”

“I know,” Ben said. He rubbed the side of his cheek and finished off the last few bites of his dinner. Ben put his fork down and pushed the empty plate aside. He crossed his arms on the table, tapping his glass. “If Hux has been really good for anything, it’s distracting myself from all of that.”

“When he constantly reminds you of it every second?” Han asked, eyebrow raised.

“Okay, so not completely,” Ben said. He licked the side of his lip and reached over, shoving his dad in the shoulder. “But when I’m more worried about whether or not my parents are going to kill him, it works as a great distraction.”

“If you say so.”

“Do you think the General is going to try anything when he sees Leia,” Chewie asked, leaning back in his seat. “He seems the type.”

Ben laughed and shook his head. “Oh, Hux is definitely going to try and kill mom at least once. I’d be more shocked if he didn’t.”

“That usually isn’t something to laugh at, Ben,” Han said, finishing off his glass.

“It is when I think about the look on his face when mom stops him,” Ben said, smiling. He finished his drink and shook his head. “Hux is a genius, but so is mom, and she’s got the Force on her side. Mom will be fine, no matter what Hux does.”

“You really believe that?”

Ben turned his glass around on the table, and licked the side of his lip. He conceded, “Given the right resources and time to plan, I do think Hux could kill mom if he put his mind to it.”

Han tipped his empty glass over. “But?”

“But I don’t plan on letting him have either of those things,” Ben said. He leaned on the table and caught his father’s gaze. “I love Hux, but I’m not going to let him hurt mom. You don’t have to worry about that, dad.”

“Just checking,” Han said. He got up from the table, throwing his credits down on the table to cover the tab. “Love makes you do really stupid things, Ben. Even things you never thought you’d do.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

The walk back to the shuttle bay was quiet after that, filled with small bits of chatter as Han pointed out vendors to watch out for and which where good. The mindless small talk was welcome from all the heaviness of earlier in the day. Ben picked up enough supplies to keep him and Hux fed until their next planet trip for clothes and to prepare for the Kashyyyk meeting. It was pleasant and Ben enjoyed it while he could.

When they reached the shuttle bay, they parted at the halfway point between their two ships.

“I’ll see you in two weeks, Ben,” Han said, hugging Ben. “So don’t be late.”

“I won’t,” Ben said, squeezing back. He walked over and hugged his Uncle Chewie next, sinking into the thick, warm fur. “I’ll miss you, too, Chewie. Take care of dad.”

“Stay safe,” Chewie said. He picked up Ben into a bear hug before setting him down. “And I always do.”

“Alright, enough of that,” Han said. “I can take care of myself just fine.”

“Of course you can,” Ben said. He raised his hand and took a few steps back. “See you soon.”

After his father and Uncle disappeared from sight, Ben headed back to his shuttle. The Upsilon ship looked smart with its new paint, standing tall with its wings up. It was an Imperial ship, but he’d grown fond of that thing over the years. It was his one constant during all of his missions and going back and forth from everything, and one of the only places Ben could be alone. Getting to share it with Hux, had only make his fondness for it grow. It was just big enough for the two of them, without the close quarters being too cramped.

It felt like home, and Ben finally had a good idea of what his father meant whenever he’d call the Falcon the same.

Hux had hidden the eggs away in the upper vents of the ship. Ren was too handy to hide them near the engine rooms, so for now vents were the safest bet. As long as Ren didn’t notice a few of Hux’s clothes were missing to act as their nest, everything would be fine.

His cargo stowed away, Hux found himself with nothing to do but think.

Hux needed to raise four Ysalamiri in secret from Ren, kill Snoke (and possibly put Ren in his debt for doing so), convince Ren that the First Order was the true path to freedom in the universe, return to the Order properly and get them back into a working government again after their defeat at Starkiller base, and somehow manage to make it through a meet and greet with the General of the New Republic without shooting her in the face.

All in all, he had a busy few months coming up.

Hux placed his empty bowl in the sink of their small kitchenette, and rubbed the back of his neck. The time was nearing about when he’d turn in for the night, but Ren was still out with his father and he had no idea how long the man would be out. Hux finished up the dishes and returned to the small sitting area.

He leaned in his seat, and rested his arms on the table. Compared to the busted cargo ship, their Upsilon shuttle was as quiet as a mouse, its engine humming lightly. He closed his eyes for a moment, breathing slowly.

A moment to collect himself wouldn’t hurt.

“Don’t fall asleep at the table,” Ren said, pushing Hux’s shoulder. His smile and eyes were both very warm, and soothing in a way that made Hux want to go right back to sleep. “You’ll hurt your back.”

Hux blinked awake as much as he was able, and pushed his hair back. So much for a moment if Ren was back already. Hux looked at Ren, who had a small bag and licked the side of his teeth. “Get everything you need?”

“Yes,” Ren said. He put it down on the table and sat next to Hux. “Did you want to leave tonight or in the morning? I’m up for either, and I don’t mind if you slept in the back while I piloted if you’re tired.”

“Tomorrow,” Hux said. He tugged open the side of the back, peeking inside. The standard groceries looked back at him, though Hux spotted a few sweets that had snuck their way inside. “I’d like to be awake when you pick out a planet for clothes shopping, and I’m too tired to think of a proper place to stop right now.”

“That’s fair,” Ren said. He got up and stretched his arms over his shoulders. He rubbed the back of a neck and smiled. “Shall we go to bed then, Armitage?”

Hux’s heart skipped a beat again hearing his name. He didn’t even call himself his first name most days, so he couldn’t tell if it was odd or so very, very welcome to hear Ren say it. The fondness the man laced into the syllables certainly helped. Hux decided he liked it. Even if no one else said it, Ren could and that was more than enough.

Hux was far too tired if he was having these absurdly romantic thoughts already.

“I hope you don’t intend on doing much more than sleep,” Hux said, yawning into his hands. “I’m afraid if we do anything more, I’ll be intimidating you for a change and falling asleep before we finish.”

Ren scooped Hux up by the waist, carrying him into the bedroom. “Now we both know I’ve never fallen asleep in the middle. That is an unfair accusation, General.”

“Maybe a little,” Hux said, wrapping his arms around Ren’s shoulders. He ran his fingers through Ren’s hair and felt too lazy to do much more than that. He dropped his head against Ren’s, shifting his legs to wrap around Ren’s waist as he was carried. He petted Ren’s hair, almost nuzzling the man in his exhausted state. “And you are are rather cute half asleep and yelling at me to do the same.”

“I could say the same of you right now,” Ren said.

He rubbed Hux’s back as they entered the small quarters. He had to have used the Force to open and close the door, because his hands were quite busy. But it was all gentle touches, and nothing assuming that there would be more. The gentleness almost woke Hux up enough to do just that, but there was plenty of time for that in the morning. Close together, they fell on the bed together and lied there.

Ren brushed Hux’s hair out of his face. “I can’t remember the last time I saw you this tired.”

“It’s been a long week,” Hux said. He held the sides of Ren’s face and kissed the side of his nose. “You’re lucky you’re worth it, Ben Solo.”

Ren said something back, squeezing tightly, but Hux had already fallen asleep before he could hear it. That was fine, though. Hux could pretend that Ren had said “You’re worth it, too,” with ease. Knowing Ren, he was sure to say whatever it had actually been again soon enough.

And that’s all that mattered.